Perfume Reviews

Reviews by philistine

Total Reviews: 23

Gucci Bloom by Gucci

I'm one of those people who loves tuberose in theory but hates it in practise. It's over-used to suggest an erotic theme and has an astonishing ability to dominate a fragrance to the exclusion of pretty much any note less forceful than household bleach. Gucci has, therefore, achieved something impressive in creating a tuberose I actually like.

Bloom is lightweight and fresh, capturing the moisture of tuberose without feeling tired and humid. It doesn't have enormous longevity (at least not when applied with a light hand), but it's a very wearable floral which definitely isn't run-of-the-mill.
04th September, 2018

Gucci Bloom Nettare di Fiori by Gucci

Very similar to the original Bloom in the top end, though the rose adds a little more gravitas to it. Unfortunately the "intensifying" concept seems to be a very sweet base - I'm getting a caramel note that isn't listed in the pyramid and something powdery too - and that isn't something I enjoy. One for fans of gourmand florals.
04th September, 2018

Cool Water Wave by Davidoff

Well, the haute noses are complaining it's forgettable but I'd say it's a kind of forgettable I like. Dry as in wine, very dry in fact, but that's good in an aquatic in my opinion: overly luscious/fruity notes in combination with aquatics always scream "cheap celebrity feminine" to me and this if nothing else lifts itself above that. It also manages to be dry (and summery) without relying on vetiver, which is a note my skin has serious, pyramid-destroying issues with, so it's winning extra points for that as well.

I recall hating the original CW back in the days before my nose had any experience, but since Darvant describes it as being sweeter than Wave I may have been right about that much. It is indeed nothing particularly different, but it does its job - of being a casual, wearable summer fragrance - very well indeed.
10th July, 2018
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Déclaration by Cartier

There is something about my skin that has an extraordinary gift for making fragrances do unexpected things. On me, Penhaligons Juniper Sling is nothing but black pepper. Terre d'Hermes is a twelve-hour orange bomb (no bad thing, but I can hardly detect the many other facets reviewers rave about). Anything with vetiver in it evaporates into nothingness after half an hour.

And as for Declaration d'un Soir...

The original Declaration is... well, if clementines had armpits it's what those armpits would smell like. I came across it while researching scents people described as dirty, masculine-friendly rose, but I don't get rose at all. Just ARMPITS then CLEMENTINES then slightly clementiney armpits. It was a wash-off job for me.

Declaration d'un Soir is more like a clementine sweating through a hot yoga class at the gym. It's humid and pithy, moist with a clean feel rather than the original's skank, but still very much citrus rather than rose. The only rose I can liken it to is a very odd, artificial-seeming rose flavouring I've occasionally come across in Turkish delight or other sweets made in Arabic countries. If you get on with D. d'un Soir's particular brand of citrusness it will make a good summer scent, but do test it first because it won't be for everyone.
20th April, 2018

Alaïa Eau de Parfum Blanche by Azzedine Alaïa

I was recommended this after asking on the forums about fragrances featuring almond and musk (heliotrope rather than actual almond in this, apparently, but close). The more time I spent with it, the more I realised what a clever composition it is. On first inspection it almost seems naive: it's sweet, powdery sweet, in the desiccated way that a cloud of icing sugar billowing up from your mixing bowl is sweet. But it never gets too sweet; there's something very slightly harsh peeking out from time to time - I don't have the nose to identify it but I suspect a greenish floral note, rather than purest white - which anchors it into reality. And, of course, there's plenty of musk in here. Wearing it, I had the strong impression that I should have been reclining on a sumptuous fur throw, filling out an application form to get my virginity reissued - but then I realised that that isn't the same thing as being transported back to when one actually *had* one's virginity. It's not a girlish, innocent fragrance; it's white-on-white but no less sexy for it. A sly suggestion of sweetness and innocence, but you're well aware that Miss Blanche knows what boys are for. I'm delighted with the coquettishness of it, on top of the fact it's just so damn *pretty* to wear. It has 6-8 hours of longevity as an actual fragrance and was still detectable as a skin scent next morning; my coat sleeve caught some of the test spray and is still carrying it a week later. One of those rare fragrances that makes it onto my wish list.
02nd February, 2018

Aramis 900 by Aramis

Reviews of this fragrance go into some detail explaining its place in the market at the time of release and its unusual character in comparison to trends in masculine fragrance at that time. What they don't do is place it in comparison to the trends of today. I'm rating it neutral because of its awful longevity - less than 90 minutes on me - but as a fragrance, it's very pleasant. It's floral, certainly, and if you love the sour and heavy green masculines of the 70s you won't find it anywhere near your comfort zone, but the overall effect is actually far less sweet than many recent and popular masculine releases (I'm thinking of 1 Million, Pi, that kind of ballpark). The similarity to Aromatics Elixir is noticeable, it could easily be AE with extra rose, and given how quickly 900 vanishes I suspect AE will be the one I end up buying.
27th January, 2018

Black Magic by Sebastiane

The main impression is blackberry plus a syrupy, hippy-shop patchouli, but there's a lot more detail underneath the heavy purple veil. Green notes peek out here and there and save it from being a completely shameless tie-dye velvet skirt of a scent, but it's still a heavy, trippy thing. A little too much so for me sadly, I want to love it but it's just too far into oriental country for me to be able to wear.
21st January, 2018

Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker

Ever a cheapie-hound, I tested Lovely in Sports Direct of all places, while buying value pack tennis balls to use as foot rollers. Bet you didn't need that piece of information, did you?

But I digress. Lovely is what I call a "good girl" fragrance. It's clean, uncontroversial (which is not the same thing as generic) and slightly cool in feel; unfortunately for me, a lover of confrontational chypres and outrageous gothic perfume oil concoctions, that leaves it a bit below the threshold of interesting enough to wear. Comparisons to (new) Ivoire are not unwarranted but Ivoire is far more grown-up, to my nose; it has an elegance, edge and restraint about it that Lovely cheerfully abandons in favour of being approachable. It's a bit like an olfactory Meg Ryan movie (and it definitely wouldn't be one that has a sex scene).

My entirely accidental eureka moment with it happened as a result of testing one thing while wearing another: layer it with Jovan Musk Oil. Musk Oil is a completely straightforward synthetic white musk at a very affordable price, and it adds just enough oomph to the lower end of Lovely to make it intriguing, inviting and warm. For me that firmly boots Lovely over the hump into wearable, and for the sake of what I get out of that fragrance experience I strongly suspect Lovely will be making it into my world.
16th January, 2018

parfums*PARFUMS Series 3 Incense: Zagorsk by Comme des Garçons

Zagorsk doesn't read like an incense fragrance to me. The overall effect of it is more like a fougere - that chilly, aromatic character that so often characterises fragrances for men. But being based in incense it has a lot more heft and staying power than the average fougere, and the tension between the faint sense of incense in the background and the pin-sharp frigidity it actually projects is (for me at least) rather delightful. I think if I needed a fragrance for professional contexts I'd pick this one - it nicely encapsulates the concept of a broadminded, hippyish personality whose life experience would give the CEO a heart attack, but stuffed into a suit and paying lip service to being normal.
17th December, 2017

Aromatics Elixir by Clinique

This is extraordinary stuff. I'm learning that chypres fascinate me, and as far as I can tell AE is a true test of your love for the genre: it's a chypre in the challenging, confrontational, old-fashioned school. It opens with a powerful blast of funk mostly composed of old-fashioned bitter herbs, but there's just enough of something friendlier in there to balance it on the line between repellent and intriguing. When I tested the EDT version the confrontational bizarrity evaporated far too quickly and left a base of wanly polite florals behind; where others might have felt relieved by that, I found myself wishing it hadn't rolled over and apologised. The EDP, however, does exactly what I hoped - it reeks and reeks and does not quit, and I still cannot tell for one moment whether I actually think it smells nice or not. Which absolutely rivets me to it. As it wears on, every once in a while the florals try to elbow their way to the fore but are promptly squashed again by that unholy top end; it's like watching a civil war among opposing factions of wood faeries, and I'm hooked. On the wishlist.
14th December, 2017

Jovan Musk for Women by Jovan

I bought this blind on a quest for an everyday musk I enjoy and find wearable, being unable to tolerate Body Shop White Musk because it has strong associations with a particular person for me. I have the Musk Oil EDT version, which apparently lacks the loud top notes present in the mens' and womens' EDCs. The opening blast is cheap alcohol over something sickly, but it fades fast into musk; it's that particular type of musk that has a distinct soapy edge about it, which alas is not wat I was hoping for. Essentially this is a bog standard "laundry" musk, and on myself I find it synthetic and pretty bland. Prada Amber Pour Homme is a nicer and slightly more detailed take on the genre.
14th December, 2017

Pure XS by Paco Rabanne

My father has a house in Glastonbury, and whenever I go to visit him I always make a point of visiting the Glastonbury Goddess Temple for some peaceful and meditative quiet time. I always notice when I come out that my clothes have picked up a lingering scent of faded incense from the place, and the early stage of Pure XS is a dead ringer for that smell. Every so often the ginger peeks out and makes the whole thing a lot more unexpected, but mostly I'm just drifting on the ghosts of hippy shops past.

Now I have my username for a reason, I'm no niche snob and never will be, so I'm not saying this is a daring and offbeat creation. It is however wearable and pleasant. I'm also something of an amber addict and have a moderate olfactory sweet tooth, and BNers in a forum thread about Pure XS are commenting that there's a lot of vanilla and amber lurking around in it. I can't pick them out individually but they probably have a lot to do with the fact I'm not washing this one off in horror. If like me you love the idea of incense fragrances but find them too bitter on their own, this one could be worth a try.
18th August, 2017

Cuir de Russie Parfum by Chanel

It is 4am, and you are at a Cambridge may ball. All around you beautiful medieval architecture rises; against the paling sky a floating light balloon is starting to look a little pointless.

The knot in your black bow tie is beginning to come loose of its own accord; your once crisp white shirt is creased in the crooks of your elbows, softening into your skin. Bags are settling under your eyes. One too many free cocktails have been consumed and the buzz of celebration is fading into a slight headache and the overwhelming desire for a cup of tea. The formality of Cuir de Russie is a tired and familiar one, its classiness starting to wear thin, giving in to the humanity of the need for comfort and rest. Everyone is still carefully washed and scrupulously clean, and the minds behind the tired faces are still sharp as tacks and will be the movers and shapers of the future - but the veneer of perfection is cracking and we're all still just people underneath.

I'm sure that on Mick Jagger (it's a favourite of his, according to one reviewer) this adds an element of class his looks and reputation don't otherwise support - on anyone who already has that sort of class, it adds that worn-leather-jacket approachability, the ordinary-human sensuality and warmth. A fascinating exercise in balance.
07th September, 2016
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The Night Garden: Kashmir Musk by Crabtree & Evelyn

When you catch yourself repeatedly nuzzling the test strip, you know you should buy a fragrance. Kashmir Musk is one such for me and I find it a sensual delight to wear. It starts out with a powdery iris which is soon joined by gentle sweet spices and musk; it has the sort of sweetness which is just powdery and woody enough to be delectable without being sickly. It's what Body Shop white musk would like to grow up to be - pleasantly innocent but also sensual. Unsurprisingly, according to the sales staff it's one of their best sellers.

I recommend a light to moderate hand with application since the spices can become a bit sickly if it's overdone.
17th August, 2016

Musc Ravageur by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Now I'm an oddball in perfumery terms - I dislike everything about "classic" masculine scents, the dry, the astringent and the woody. I'm a long way out on the unisex spectrum too, and am willing to wear things a lot of other men would find too challenging. In fact I think what other people describe as "skanky" or "animalic" in perfumery just equates to "warm" in my mental lexicon.

Now what about this stuff? Well, I love it. It doesn't say "dirty" to me at all. I'll agree that it has a certain Barry White edge to it - it's not an office fragrance, nor one I'd wear to a family lunch, but it's a rich aura of living, breathing, heart-still-beating aliveness. It's not by any means a slutty reek of "shove me up against the nearest wall" (not that I won't be looking out for a scent like that to add to my collection too). Something in the heart of this - I think the clove and cinnamon - is a dead ringer for Estee Lauder's Youth Dew (a favourite of my beloved grandma's), which makes it a comfort scent for me as well. It's rich and heady and warm, projects beautifully, but nowhere near as overwhelming as a powerhouse like Youth Dew.

Its longevity is jaw-dropping. It's still detectable after 36 hours and two showers, which I guess just shows you that Mother Nature goes all out to promote reproduction. Well, tell us something we didn't already know.

In conclusion? I happen to be a pagan, and the part of me that hates how uptight we are about sex in this society and would welcome a return to thinking of it as just something we human animals do is utterly delighted by this scent. However, the part of me that is well aware how quick others around me are to judge based on arbitrary and petty things also advises using with a degree of caution in the wild...
13th September, 2015

Joop! Homme Wild by Joop!

Joop Homme Wild is what I wear on a night out when I just want to have fun, not make myself the centre of attention. It's an approachable fragrance with a pleasant sweetness balanced out by a fresher edge. Not even remotely edgy, but all-round nice to hang out with.
12th September, 2015

Spicebomb Eau Fraîche by Viktor & Rolf

If Fahrenheit 32 is Fahrenheit for people who don't like Fahrenheit, then Spicebomb Eau Fraiche is spice for people who don't like spice. I have a love-hate relationship with spice notes, they're often overpoweringly acrid and put me off a lot of masculine orientals, but in this the combination of spice with vanilla and seascapey freshness cuts the punch enough to make it very wearable. I'm no highly-trained nose but I find this fragrance both characterful and well-mannered enough not to knock people over from ten feet.
11th September, 2015

Levantium by Penhaligon's

If you love classic orientals but can't wear them without getting a headache, this could well be one to try. It's woody and a little bitter, but the terribly restrained and British nature of Penhaligon's house style brings it firmly down into the realms of tolerability. I'll leave it to others to pick out notes but for me this is one of the few "true" oriental fragrances I enjoy.
03rd December, 2014

Eau Parfumée au Thé Rouge by Bulgari

Having tripped over a miniatures gift set of this fragrance in a local charity shop, I'm very pleasantly surprised - I enjoy simple, understated and unisex and this is such a relaxed, easy fragrance I'll be delighted to keep it around. I wasn't expecting the sweetness, but it's well tempered by the tannic edge to the tea and definitely puts the fragrance in the unique and characterful category. Lasting power is, as other reviewers have commented, a flaw.
27th November, 2014

Eau de Gaga by Lady Gaga

In-yer-face green notes and sharp white florals. Sort of like a less stuck-up version of Chanel No. 19. Could be a good summer scent.
25th November, 2014

Snake Oil by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

One reviewer above comments that "it makes me feel like a dirty child gorging on marshmallows in front of a campfire". I think that's a very fair assessment - and for anyone who has not yet experienced the joy of tossing away the tuxedo, shredding the opera tickets and living in the moment (by which I mean getting smashed around a fire at a music festival with your dearest friends), I heartily recommend trying this scent!

For my personal taste Snake Oil is a little too sweet and not grounded enough, but it's also famous among BPAL fans for developing differently on everyone, and remains the Lab's top selling fragrance. BPAL are not a house of sophistication and urbanity, they are a house of glorious, subversive individuality, and Snake Oil is an icon of that style.
03rd July, 2014

Malkuth by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

A very intense cinnamon with little else in the development, at least on my skin. It's worth commenting that Malkuth is (was, since it's now discontinued) part of a range of Kabbalah - inspired scents BPAL produced which seemed to be intended as much for use in neopagan worship as for perfumery.
03rd July, 2014

Tombstone by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

Tombstone is a BPAL general catalogue scent from the Wanderlust section, marketed as a homage to the first perfumes of the American Old West. If you happen to associate root beer with cowboys then it may draw out that 'feel' for you, but personally I found it a otherwise delicious warm/sweet masculine scent which was prevented from joining my wardobe by the noticeable medicinal twang of the sassafras.
03rd July, 2014