Perfume Reviews

Reviews by NickZee

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Total Reviews: 162

Prada Amber pour Homme by Prada

YouTube reviewers like to call this "soap in a bottle". More precisely, this is nice shampoo in a bottle. I say that because it smells polished, sterilised, filtered, a bit sharp under its muskiness. And once you move beyond the opening notes there really are no notes that have a substantial link to naturals.

It opens with one of the great designer openings - an impressive burst of clean cardamom, neroli and low-key citruses that are nondescript, zestless and candied. There's no doubt this opening is designed to instantly seal the deal at the counter.

The drydown is a clean, somewhat powdery musk overlayed with a masculine floral combination that smells like a perfumer's pre-mix. There's tenuous links to geranium, jasmine, orange blossom, lavender, accented by a hint of an aromachemical which I guess is meant to be the saffron. But really it's just all a big blob of clean, shampoo-ey pleasantness.

As for the other listed notes, patchouli, Vetiver, suede, tonka bean, vanilla - I don't smell them. Certainly not in the way they are effortlessly presented in some of the finer works in perfumery. As for Amber, this would have to be one of the most misleadingly named fragrances ever. Apparently the bottles were labelled well before the perfumer was done with their edits.

A neutral rating because the opening is well worth experiencing, and because it's competing against a lot of rubbish in this price segment. But the drydown is a little grating in the long term if you are the type who pays attention.
13th July, 2017

Armani Privé Encens Satin by Giorgio Armani

What a gorgeous fragrance!

If you have tried Tom Ford's Rive d'Ambre you will already know the amber note that dominates the drydown of this fragrance. The Tom Ford introduces this amber note with a citrus opening, whereas here we have incense and woods making the introduction. The amber is light and complex with fruity accents, but don't let that fruitiness scare you, it really is just an accent. This fragrance is still unisex, elegant, formal, dark leaning.

The incense comes at the beginning, as incense notes are known to do. It's the same incense note as that used in Avignon and Cardinal, this time a bit lighter. It lingers to the end, but it's presence is mostly felt in the first 20 minutes. Within 20 minutes the woodiness of the fragrance shines. The note pyramid lists spices, and I suspect it is black pepper that is creating this brilliant woody note, which lasts noticeably for the first hour and then provides a nice woody backbone for the amber drydown. A light vanilla note cushions the fragrance in the drydown. Intoxicatingly complex and beautiful from beginning to end.

11th July, 2017 (last edited: 12th July, 2017)

Incense Gold by Ermenegildo Zegna

What we have here is an intensely woody fragrance from the same mould as Montale's challenging Dark Aoud. Incense, saffron and Cypriol pepper accent the woodiness.

It opens with nice but fleeting soft citruses. Within a minute the unisex floral heart introduces itself and keeps things relatively friendly and complex for the first hour, always expressing itself through the woody base. Gradually the intensity of the woody base comes to the fore, and by the three hour mark the base has grown dark, dry, bitter, brooding, intimidating. Not an easy wear, and far from a compliment getter. But if the fragrance matches your mood, it may be a worthwhile wear.

I don't get any plush Leather or white musk, so don't let the presence of these notes in the pyramid mislead you. They are more a reference to this fragrance's intense musky woods than anything approaching leather or white musk.
07th July, 2017 (last edited: 12th July, 2017)
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Musk Gold by Ermenegildo Zegna

An elegant, formal woody masculine fragrance in the same realm as Tom Ford's Tobacco Oud, Amber Absolute and Bois 1920's Real Patchouly. At its heart, it is a musky woody fragrance. There is a stunning whisky opening which quickly gives way to a burst of spices in the first 5 minutes, especially nose-tingling black pepper. The black pepper quickly mellows and becomes woody, creating a perfect segway to the patchouli. The patchouli is softened by the sensuality of the carrot seed and a touch of oud.

The musk here gives a "lived-in" feel to the fragrance, similar to the musky effect in Tobacco Oud and Dior's Leather Oud. It's not skanky, but it is mildly animalic. Those searching for a clean laundry musk, or whose tastes don't extend much beyond the "fresh and clean" aisle of the fragrance supermarket are advised to test a small spritz on paper.

Performance is 6-8 hours
20th June, 2017

Black I by AJ Arabia

The note pyramid seems a bit off here. To me this smells like rose accented by cedarwood, cinnamon and clean musk. A touch of incense, but not much. Quite pleasant except for a slightly limp woody Amber synthetic base. I get little or no cardamom, perhaps because cardamom is an opening note that performs better out of a spray, whereas I applied from a dab. But primarily this is a Rose fragrance.

Performance improves depending on the level of application. 0.4ml got me very good performance. But I imagine frugal users or cost-conscious bottle owners will be struggling a bit..

Stunning presentation. Almost worth buying for the presentation alone.
18th June, 2017

Sublime Vanille by Creed

A pleasant, cozy vanilla of the sort produced by the christmas tree deodoriser in my cousin's car back in the late 90s. Yes, its been a long time since this sort of vanilla found its way into all sorts of cheap candles and other common fragrance products, but we haven't forgotten Mr.Creed. Thats why vanilla is a graveyard for so many niche brands. Guerlain is an exception, seek out Spiritueuse Double Vanille if you are shopping in this territory, lots of dollars to be saved and lots of happy olfactory experiences to be had.
13th June, 2017

Néroli Sauvage by Creed

This is an overshadowed fragrance, a misunderstood fragrance, and it is plagued by batch variations. It is overshadowed by its opening, a frenzy of mouthwatering, natural-smelling citruses that induce your senses into a frenzy for the first 30 minutes. The softer side of this fragrance often cannot be heard after such a loud opening, but that softer side has a lot to say.

This fragrance is also misunderstood because the neroli in the name hides the fact that the heart of this fragrance is primarily based around a sensual, woody orange blossom note in the basic sense, and there's not much of the steam distilled version of orange blossom that is referred to as neroli. This orange blossom is made masculine by a touch of cedar and given depth with the Creed ambergris. Verbena ducks its head in and out. It's cozy, elegant, and unique.

But if you get one of the many sub-standard batches, this is indeed an underwhelming, overpriced fragrance. Therefore, test with care and when you find a nice tester, buy a batch that is at the very least, from the same year.
12th June, 2017

Hommage à L'Homme Voyageur by Lalique

I get the designer-grade bergamot and the designer-grade parchouli, vetiver and papyrus. Basenotes lists amber in the base, but I smell ambrox that gives the whole composition that characteristic fresh "bleu" feel.

Quite good in its price bracket, excellent actually, but nowhere near as good as the original Hommage and on absolute terms it is a neutral rating from me.
31st May, 2017

Himalaya by Creed

An unremarkable woody-musky-citrus. Creed would do well to vault this rubbish to avoid further comparisons to drugstore cheapies.
22nd May, 2017

Angel Muse by Thierry Mugler

I am reviewing this from having smelled the sillage, because my wife was the wearer. Therefore, I have more of a bird's eye view that may not be the same experience as for the wearer. Certainly, the reviewers who have worn this fragrance have had a much more nuanced experience.

This would work very well as a food additive or a milk shake flavour, but its not a personal fragrance that me or my wife would want to wear. The hazelnut note dominates and the fragrance itself is strong. This is not a subtle fragrance. A couple of sprays is enough to transport the wearer and anyone in the same space to a cake shop. It seems a bit uncooth and if you were trying to find the wearer in a crowd, you would be unlikely to turn to anyone well dressed and elegant. You would maybe turn to the frumpy person who may have been taken by the scent but not realised it has no human touch.
03rd May, 2017

Leather Oud by Floris

This reminds me quite a lot of Montale's much-loved Black Aoud, but softer and featuring an extra layer of leather in the opening. There is the same ambery mandarin and bergamot opening as the Montale, intermingling this time with a unique and distinctive leather note that will satisfy leather lovers. The heart brings forth rose and geranium and the Montale-style oud. This oud exhibits the medicinal and leathery facets of oud and forgoes the animalic facets. After 6 hours the oud takes over and remains for 12 hours plus, supported by traces of Vetiver and patchouli for a convincing woody-leathery accord. Full bottle worthy, assuming you don't already own the Montale.
01st May, 2017

Endymion Concentré by Penhaligon's

Smells like Axe body spray. Penhaligons reached a summit with Sartorial, but now it seems it is coming back down the mountain.
06th April, 2017

Field Notes from Paris by Ineke

Primarily a sheer orange blossom and beeswax fragrance with lots of nuances that do well to live up to the imagery of Paris on a beautiful day. Intoxicating opening. Performance is acceptable - the pleasant main notes persist for a long time after all the clever supporting acts have gone home. There is a shampoo like quality in the drydown that orange blossom fragrances often teeter around, and that places it strictly in the casual wear category for me. Overall, really well done. Not quite on par as the signature orange blossom work of Francis Kurkdjian, but very good nonetheless. And for the price, well worth a purchase for me. Excellent value.
29th March, 2017
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Emir by Martine Micallef

This is a stunning masculine with excellent performance. The note pyramid only tells part of the story because the oud has many facets: leathery, fruity, smoky, woody. It's a terrific representation of oud. There is an 80s powerhouse vibe in the background, which may be what Darvant refers to in his review below as the traditional patchouli/geranium blend. Emir also has a very nice orange/grapefruit opening. 5 stars.
28th March, 2017

Coromandel by Chanel

I do like this but I dont get any patchouli in the EDP. Not a trace. And the famed "white chocolate" is surely a reference to a powdery accord of musk, orris root, heliotrope and other powdery nuances. There is some orange/tangerine in the opening. Elegant, feminine, classic, long-lasting. Would be incredible on my wife.
14th March, 2017

Incense Oud by Nicolaï

Develops into a never-ending citrussy olive oil accompanied by some sort of hairspray note in the deep drydown.

07th February, 2017

Oud Stars : Zanzibar by Xerjoff

This one falls short, beginning sweet and syrupy, then two minutes later a barnyard note comes forward dominated by hay, and an hour later it ends with basic dry woods. This last stage extends for several hours. Innovative in 2012, but times have moved passed this style. Would be best to discontinue this and leave the stars of the Oud stars line shine.
02nd February, 2017

Regent Leather by Thameen

Vanilla and jasmine, fighting to the death against a big dose of patchouli. There were no winners, least of all those seeking an automotive leather fragrance.
31st January, 2017

Oud Rose Intense by Fragrance Du Bois

My earliest flutter in the world of perfumery was the supermarket aisle when I would have been 14. I was drawn to the women's body sprays that my female cousin wore so well. They sold for the outrageous sum to me of $4 a bottle. It was 1996, dad was down on his luck in an economy just showing the first rays of hope after a brutal recession and I still had not got my first part-time job. One of those bottles was the purple version of Impulse. I Emptied half a dozen bottles over a year in high school.

And now Fragrance Du Bois does the same thing for $500 for 50ml. Granted the quality is better and I as glad for the reunion. Lots of geranium, followed by rose and some sandalwood and some sort of shampoo effect. No notable oud or Amber. I'm sure many people will get enjoyment out of this, but the full bottle price is too much for me.
30th January, 2017

Le Mâle Essence de Parfum by Jean Paul Gaultier

An excellent sweet take on leather that is accented by some sort of nice paper-money note. Opens with the designer-standard, pleasant lavender and cardamom but unlike many designers with that standard opening, the drydown continues to deliver.
22nd January, 2017

Issara by Parfums Dusita

A soft, coumarin laden, apologetic fougere in a delicate undersized 50ml bottle and priced to break the bank. Forget the slick pictures folks, this bottle is miniature, yet unlike Oudh Infini, the juice is not strong enough or daring enough to warrant the miniaturisation. This is a safe fragrance and one that can be worn with abandon, and that means that 50ml won't hang around for long. My recommendation is get yourself a sample, enjoy, and then proceed to the much more afforadable, engaging and imposing Masculin Pluriel.

This would be a thumbs up, but the packaging and pricing issues are too much to ignore.
21st January, 2017

Acqua di Giò pour Homme by Giorgio Armani

What a gorgeous fragrance this is, after all my forays into niche I can't say this wows me anymore but it does continue to please me.
20th January, 2017

Oudh Infini by Parfums Dusita

Overall I find this a beautiful oud, rose, jasmine, civet fragrance. Yes, jasmine isn't listed, but surely it is here? Maybe it's the orange blossom.

Worth the $$? I'm undecided - my bottle is second hand and substantially cheaper than new. I feel lucky to have come across it for what was around a 30% discount.

Let me address the animalics. Your view will vary depending on three things: 1) how accustomed you are to animalics 2) from what distance you smell this fragrance and 3) at what point in the development you sniff this fragrance. For me, half a spray behind each ear and two sprays to my lower chest has everything smelling beautifully balanced and at my preferred high volume. But if I lift my tshirt to take a whiff...well sure, it's a barnyard under there. Why do it though? Animalics do their magic from a distance.

The oud here is famously animalic, but to me it mainly serves to add tremendous volume to this fragrance. It doesn't have the much of the woody, smoky or medicinal qualities that oud/oud accords can often deliver in spades. Instead it makes the fragrance rise in seemingly thick waves.

A deceptively dark fragrance. One night I tried to add Frederic Malle's Monsieur thinking it might complement this beautiful fragrance, only to find that it shined like a bright beacon over Oudh Infini.

One facet, and only one facet because this fragrance has several, is the jasmin/sandalwood combination. The jasmin, or whatever is giving the jasmine effect, combines with the sandalwood to bring to mind the great french women's fragrances of the 80s. There is classic French perfumery under the oud/rose combo and it steers the whole thing ever so slightly to the feminine side of unisex. It shouldn't deter men from wearing it thigh, especially if you are on this site.

As an aside, I spritzed on an averagely good designer one night after wearing this in the day, and at that moment Oudh Inifini seemed to wink over at me and say "I'm worth it, hey?". Well I'm undecided, but maybe, just maybe.
19th January, 2017

Rose Oud by By Kilian

Possibly the most boring rose fragrance I have encountered. Armani's Calligraphy Rose for 5x the price.

I would make more effort with my review but at $570 Australian dollars for 50ml, I feel that it is By Kilian that needs to be trying harder.
13th January, 2017 (last edited: 18th February, 2017)

Amber Gold by Ermenegildo Zegna

This fragrance is characterised by a bitter, petroleum-like incense note siting above lots of airy amber, Bulgarian rose and other unisex florals. As time goes buy, the incense slowly departs and the amber/rose takes centre stage, eventually drying down to a bed of soft woods. The citruses, the florals, the animalics are all there making for a complex, luxurious fragrance with lots of danger along the way. Good performance as well.

I find the regular Zegna Essenze line thoroughly boring due to the short-lived and now outdated niche practice of stripping the complexity in favour of supposed quality. Here you get quality and complexity. So the Gold series seems to have turned a new leaf for Zegna. Big thumbs up for this one in particular.
09th January, 2017 (last edited: 07th July, 2017)

Honey Oud by Floris

I get the honey at the start, then it settles into a smooth, high quality and polite oud-rose-amber combination. Nice stuff but i rate it neutral because a) it is unoriginal b) the opening 5 minutes is where all the impressive stuff happens and c) the longevity and projection are average at best.

If you are looking for something with a bit more theatrics and originality, Floris' own Leather Oud is far more worthy of a full bottle purchase.
07th January, 2017 (last edited: 08th January, 2017)

New York Oud by Bond No. 9

A feminine-leaning rose with a strong, nose tickling, medicinal accent that I guess is the oud. No animalics. Could easily pass for a Montale fragrance. A bit boring.
03rd January, 2017

Luna Rossa Extreme by Prada

3 sprays of this is enough to gently fill a room with incensy/woody/peppery/vanillic lavendar heaven. An above average designer, lives up to the extreme moniker as well.
29th December, 2016

Vert d'Encens by Tom Ford

Terrible heliotrope bomb, performance is spectacular but this is just unpleasant. Why is heliotrope so popular in 2016???
26th December, 2016

Fahrenheit Absolute by Christian Dior

A underappreciated gem they said. A tragedy that it has been discontinued they said. A couple of years back one enthusiastic YouTube reviewer (in this particular case this person is always a warning sign) insisted that his viewers buy 5 bottles and put them away for the day they would double in price. Well at the time of writing that day has yet to come but I concede, the prices are rising.

The fragrance heads at Dior certainly saw the writing on the wall for Fahrenheit Absolute. What had arguably been a daring and original composition in 2009 began to falter as the niche market gathered steam and continued delivering a lot of great compositions amongst the constant stream of generic muck. In comparison, Absolute suffered from a monotone drydown that is seemingly composed of an unlisted note or two, something like cherry and almond and syrupy-like. Whatever this drydown is, it is resinous and sweet in a way that almond notes often are. This failed to please me after a promising, complex opening in the first 45 minutes. That opening is full of clean fruity oud, a citrus note that resembles grapefruit, a dose of pink and black pepper and a bitter incense note. Yes, this all has little to do with the note pyramid, and if it does, the order seems wrong. Myrrh is a listed note, but it fails to turn up for work.

The connection to the original Fahrenheit is typical for Fahrenheit flanker, the two are more like cousins than siblings, and it cannot be otherwise because the original is so perfect that anything smelling too much like it can only be inferior.

Performance is strong, and the first 45 minutes justify a sample. But leave those full bottles to flounder on eBay unless you are a Fahrenheit die-hard, because that drydown stands little chance of enticing you back more than a handful of times.

As a final note, there is a similarity to YSL's original M7. The shy use of oud, the cherry accents, they both have much in common and both suffered the same fate.
20th December, 2016