Perfume Reviews

Reviews by landshark321

Total Reviews: 794

Aoud Exclusif by Mancera

Aoud Exclusif is one of a trio of new releases from Mancera that are similarly named (the others are Jardin Exclusif and Vanille Exclusive) and have seemingly been very well-received.

The Mancera/Montale empire contains a plethora of "aoud"-named fragrances so while I expect good performance from these, as from the brands in general, the expectation of being blown away by the latest release is not realistic. There are familiar oud partners in this: rose, patchouli, saffron, and pepper. However, what sticks out to me and is not explained by the notes is the vague sort of fruity sweetness that balance s what seem to be mostly be more savory- or spicy-leaning notes. I assume it’s the labdanum that does is.

I'm quite impressed by Aoud Exclusif, though, mainly due to how balanced and pleasant of an oud creation it is. It performs well, like most Montale and Mancera offerings, and I’m reasonably impressed overall with how nice it is, and that the pricing is the same as usual at $180 for 120ml. I’d recommend that rose/oud fans or those who usually like Montale/Mancera stuff try this out.

8 out of 10
16th January, 2019

Emporio Armani Diamonds Club for Men by Giorgio Armani

Armani Diamonds Club is the latest men's flanker, and refreshing variant of the original Diamonds, sort of in the opposite direction from Black Carat.

Club replaces the original's faux strawberry vibe with fresh spicy bits of lavender, geranium, and cardamom, so it has a sort of traditional fresh men's cologne vibe but still with the DNA of the original. Like the original and Black Carat, Club is sweet but not as sweet as these other two.

Like the original and Black Carat, Club too is a good performer, certainly greater than what I'd expect for a designer release like this. Now available for $31 for 50ml on FragranceNet, Club is a nice little deal.

7 out of 10
15th January, 2019

Tyrannosaurus Rex by Zoologist Perfumes

From the daring, innovative house of Zoologist comes perhaps their most boundary-pushing, testy release, in Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Its burning power is pervasive beyond anything I've smelled. The most logical comparison when smelling it in the first time was Imaginary Authors A City on Fire, due to their common smoky/burning focus and generous use of cade oil as a key note. It's surely more of an intense burning experience than ACOF, to put it modestly, as ACOF by comparison smells more animalic than burning, with T-Rex being the clearly more burning-focused scent. In that respect, T-Rex feels a little more one-dimensional but I imagine those seeking a more intense burning leather, almost barbecue-smelling sort of scent will find in T-Rex a creative offering that might suit them well.

Overall the composition feels like it's roughly half made up of cade, with the other half coming from leather, black pepper, and patchouli. Not infinitely complex but not at all boring, either.

It's a superior performer, on the high end of projection, particularly for its first couple hours, and especially longevity.

The value in T-Rex is palpable, though--it's a very strong fragrance in extrait concentration, and $175 for 60ml is a reasonable-enough price if one very much likes or even loves it.

Still, I'd give ACOF the nod over T-Rex fairly easily. It takes something of T-Rex's audacity to put ACOF in perspective, as, at the time of its release, I thought of ACOF perhaps in the same terms in which I regard now regard T-Rex. Go figure.

7 out of 10
14th January, 2019
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Oud Wood Intense by Tom Ford

Tom Ford Oud Wood Intense is a significant misnomer, as the fragrance does not correlate with the original Oud Wood all that much. However, it is a great fragrance that merits smelling and enjoying wholly apart from the Oud Wood that preceded it by a decade.

Oud Wood Intense is mainly an animalic woody leather sort of fragrance, the mix of cypress and oud being almost taken over by the additive of castoreum that most dramatically separates it not only from the original Oud Wood but also from the rest of the Private Blend collection through 2018. The castoreum fosters a sort of "dry leather" smell that more or less characterizes my experience of the entire fragrance.

In this respect it feels masculine and boastful while being slightly sophisticated, as well; it contains just the right amount of an animalic leaning that it works quite well to satisfy an interest in leather without being too oud-intensive or borderline fecal.

At the time of its release in late 2017, Oud Wood Intense (and Tobacco Oud Intense, simultaneously) joined FF and Neroli Portofino Forte at the higher price point of $310 (now $320) per 50ml, with only the re-release of Bois Marocain having been higher at that point ($330 in 2016).

So it may seem like a steep price for the juice, but it's available on secondary markets like FragranceNet, where a 50ml is at $227 with the 30% off coupon.

Its performance is excellent, as well, just a tad bit behind the beasts of the line like TV, TL, NDN, AA, etc. It's also perhaps the strongest Private Blend that isn't at least somewhat sweet, either (another example being Italian Cypress).

Overall, Oud Wood Intense is a great option, not the superlative offering that I regarding NDN, TV, and AA as, but still, one or two notches below that. Really excellent juice.

9 out of 10
11th January, 2019

Euphoria Men Amber Gold by Calvin Klein

The latest Calvin Klein Euphoria men's flanker, Amber Gold Euphoria, follows well from my favorite flanker to date, the one-time hard-to-find Liquid Gold Euphoria, and is comparably dense and sweet.

Amber Gold is, as its name suggests, centered around the note of amber, a resinous incense type of dry down taking over most of the fragrance after a relatively limited opening of citrus, florals, and herbs. It's ambery but certainly leans more toward a mainstream designer release than it is the likes of Amber Absolute, Ambre Sultan, Ambra Aurea, etc.

I see Amber Gold as a nice alternative for those that find niche and/or high-end amber-centric fragrances to be offputtingly quirky or unviably expensive. That said, it's certainly not on par with the quality of better amber fragrances like the aforementioned. It does perform well, though, with loud projection for an hour and modest to slightly loud projection for another couple hours thereafter. It feels reasonably dense, if not quite as dense as Liquid Gold.

Now, neither Amber Gold nor Liquid Gold seem easily accessible, though there seem to be a few bottles scattered throughout secondary markets.

7 out of 10
10th January, 2019

Liquid Gold Euphoria Men by Calvin Klein

Calvin Klein Liquid Gold Euphoria was allegedly released only outside the US in 2014 when it came out but luckily it has become available on BeautySpin recently ($72 for 100ml) so I was fortunate enough to grab a bottle. Its mainstay notes are vanilla, pepper, and balsam fir, but I get an element of sandalwood as well. The result is a very nice cold-weather-friendly composition that stands out from the rest of the Euphoria line.

To that point, Liquid Gold is the best expression of Euphoria I've tried--the sweetness of the line, with the spiciness of Gold, peppiness of Intense, yielding a truly interesting gourmand creation. Warm, spicy, sweet, smooth--this could be a cold weather mainstay for many.

Liquid Gold Euphoria also has the distinction (for me) of being the only EDP concentration Calvin Klein's men fragrance on the market that I'm aware of, though I could be neglectful here.

Accordingly, performance is very strong in terms of both projection and especially longevity. And although I'm testing it in the day, this is definitely preferable for nighttime usage, and can dress up well for formal occasions. I almost find this worthy of being kept in the cooler, though it's not terribly expensive.

Certainly a compelling blind buy and something you ought to check out if you like the sound of it---the consensus seems to be strongly in its favor.

8 out of 10
10th January, 2019

Safari Extreme by Abdul Samad Al Qurashi

ASQ Safari Extreme has a strong reputation and the experience of it mostly lives up to it. In the scheme of sweeter oud fragrances, this is has various touches that keep it interesting and slightly dissimilar from other offerings I've tried before.

Surely it's sweet and has oud, but with the sandalwood, rose, and jasmine, it's floral and woody, and the animalic side of the oud comes out in this, as it's slightly acerbic and funky.

I expect that fans of Ajmal Rose Wood or Santal Wood would fine something in Safari Extreme that they like.

Its performance is solid, with quite robust projection for several hours before becoming a more modest scent thereafter, albeit still dense.

Only seemingly officially available on the house website for 367.50 AED for 75ml, which comes to roughly 100 USD, the price is not unreasonable if it can be obtained for that amount, though, it seems to run 50%-100% higher on secondary markets like eBay.

Overall, I like it and would argue that fans of the general sweet oud or rose oud genres should check it; it just does not specifically dazzle me except for being a bit more multifaceted than most examples in the genres that I've tried to date.

7 out of 10
09th January, 2019

Beau de Jour by Tom Ford

Beau de Jour marks another great release from the Tom Ford Private Blend line in the wake of Fougere d'Argent, another creation that blends the modern and the classic in a seemingly heavy-handed nod to classic men's fragrances of decades past.

The key note in the fragrance is fresh, sharp lavender, further sharpened by geranium, with the herbal touch of rosemary, and supporting anchors of patchouli and amber. There are a few other additives but these are the main players that factor into my perception of the fragrance.

Again, to compare to FDA, as there's a natural sort of continuity, BDJ is sharper and a little more challenging to wear, but feels more like an "daytime all-day" fragrance, while FDA feels more apropos at night, and is slightly sweeter and overall easier to wear.

Moreover, BDJ, like, FDA, is a great performer, not in the uppermost tier of the Tom Ford Private Blend line (a high standard, for something, like Tobacco Vanille).

And, at $235 for 50ml, it's good that interesting new offerings are still in what is the LOWER tier of pricing for Private Blends, contra the higher end at $320 for 50ml. There are plenty of deals to be had on secondary markets or Facebook enthusiast groups.

Overall, a great release, and I hope to see more like these from Tom Ford, though I wonder how many they can realistically churn out like this and FDA without being too redundant.

8 out of 10
08th January, 2019

Sacred Memory by Kerosene

The latest release from Kerosene, Sacred Memory, immediately reminds me of Blackmail due to the prominence of the berry, and later, amber, but it diverges toward the tobacco and whiskey accords relatively quickly into the experience of the fragrance.

The dry down is a reasonable balance of the berries, tobacco, whiskey, mildly but not remotely toward the extreme of the sweet side.

The overall experience is not quite as sweet as Blackmail, given the absence of vanilla, nor is it quite as heavy, given the absence of oud. Overall, it's a more moderating experience than Blackmail, which strikes me as a positive development, given that Blackmail, despite being an exceptional fragrance, might be a bit much for some to enjoy (along the lines of Tom Ford Private Blends and Slumberhouse scents).

Its performance is good, not on par with the better entries of the line (Blackmail, Broken Theories, Copper Skies) but still very good, and the pricing remains reasonable for the line, at $140 for 100ml, sometimes found on sale.

8 out of 10
26th December, 2018

Boss The Scent Private Accord for Him by Hugo Boss

I'm not much of an authority on Hugo Boss fragrances but this released intrigued me, given its gourmand description.

Hugo Boss' Boss The Scent Private Accord is largely what I've come to expect of designer men's releases pivoting toward gourmands without wholly becoming gourmands.

Fresh/spicy ginger meets a hefty amount of cocoa and slight hints of coffee, along with fruit notes that are faint, at best.

Performance-wise, it's decent but ordinary enough as a colder weather option. That it's not too dense and quirky makes it work year-round, as well, perhaps on warm weather nights.

At retail ($87 for 100ml EDT) I wouldn't recommend anyone consider it, but predictably it'll be on grey market sites if it isn't already (it's on FragranceNet currently, but sold out, allegedly $30 for the 100ml when it was in stock), and prices that are half or less of the retail certainly make it much more appealing.

7 out of 10
17th December, 2018

O, Unknown! by Imaginary Authors

The latest release from Imaginary Authors is difficult for me to taxonomize. O, Unknown! certainly lives up to its name. It's mysterious, and generally speaking, unlike most perfume that I've smelled.

Its principal notes are tea, orris, and mixed woods of balsam and sandalwood, along with a mystery note that I'm clearly not in tune with.

I don't know much about different types of teas, but the tea in this fragrance is well-blended with the orris, not standing out much on its own but at the same time subduing the orris enough so that the fragrance doesn't come off too powdery. The woody undertones certainly create a smoother dry down than the more tea-heavy opening, at least it comes off to my nose.

There's a chalky, play doh-like sense in which the fragrance feels like a familiar material, not really synthetic but not too natural, at the same time.

I wouldn't expect to like this much from the note breakdown as tea and orris don't thrill me generally, but I surprisingly quite like it.

It's one of the most daring Imaginary Authors scents that Josh has ever released, in my opinion, perhaps only second to Bull's Blood in terms of audacity, though obviously Bull's Blood creates more of a literal and figurative stink to it, whereas O, Unknown! is almost inarguably smoother and easier to wear.

I find it fascinating that two people already find this similar to Cape Heartache, as I don't really get that similarity, given the absence of strawberry and pine, what stand out most prominently for me in Cape Heartache.

This is a nice new entry from the house I always look forward to seeing the next iteration from, and O, Unknown doesn't disappoint.

7 out of 10
16th December, 2018

Lost Cherry by Tom Ford

The release of Tom Ford Lost Cherry was almost as well-publicized, and seemingly highly anticipated, as that of Fucking Fabulous in late 2017. In the case of Lost Cherry, the "limited edition" label used in FF was no longer a new feature, and since FF eventually became a mainstay, there was little reason to believe it, but lo and behold, Lost Cherry is only available in 50ml bottles (at the same price of FF, OWI, TOI, and NPF) at $320 for 50ml.

The scent, though, is quite great, and frankly it's at least intuitive in that cherry liqueur is a central note. When combined with tonka and almond, it takes on a sharp, boozy feel, and with peru balsm, rose, and woods, it's creamy and comforting in the dry down. It's really mostly gourmand without being utterly, completely gourmand.

Almond and tonka are fun additives, especially in concert with one another, like they were in FF. Almost natural bedfollows, their sweet-yet-creamy-but-sort-of-powdery tartness makes for a fun counterpoint to the cherry liqueur, held by the glue of the balsam and woods, and ever so slightly hint of rose, barely detectable.

It's important to note that Lost Cherry's cherry is relatively short-lived, the cherry being front-and-center for only an hour or two and being wholly in the background after 6 hours. The fragrance itself lasts somewhat more, not a beast by any means but not as horrible on my skin as some seem to purport it on theirs.

Performance seems to be the main gripe of the fragrance, particularly considering its high pricing, on the higher tier of Tom Ford Private Blend, and it being limited to only 50ml bottle as opposed to flacons that would allow for splits, or even 100ml bottles also, which would be better priced by volume than the 50ml bottles.

Considering performance and pricing issues, the Dua Fragrances alternative of Popped Cherry is particularly appealing in terms of slightly better performance, greater use of cherry, and lower cost, of course, at $65 for 30ml, always discounted further. I find that both Popped Cherry and Lost Cherry have interesting nuances, the former more cherry-intensive and the latter more generally gourmand, particularly in the dry down.

I find Lost Cherry to be a great release, as much as the gimmick of the limited edition, particularly without the availability of flacons (at least for now...a new trick), does start to get bit old, and will undoubtedly test many TF fans, especially with other cherry fragrances out there like Dua's as well as another fresh/sweet/tart realistic cherry fragrance, Hilde Soliani Una Tira L'Altra, which is available on Luckyscent for only $160 for 100ml.

Still, I credit the release for drumming up some interest in cherry as a particular note and gourmands as a general category of fragrances. Presumably more clones that Dua's will follow.

8 out of 10
05th December, 2018

Grange by Perfumology

While I consider Perfumology's initial and highly-regarded release, Blyss, as inherently a bit feminine-leaning, my default stance toward fruity/floral-dominant fragrances, the shop's second release, Grange, is clearly a unisex fragrance.

Orange and lime for me create an opening that is as green as it is typically-citrus-intensive.

The dry down is where the magic happens, though, as the fig and tobacco become predominant. I generally haven't connected well with fig-laden fragrances, as much as I've wanted to embrace them (like Yesterday Haze by Imaginary Authors, for one) but in Grange I find the blend of the fig and tobacco to be one of contradiction working well. The tobacco tempers the quirkiness of the fig and the fig adds some sweetness to the tobacco.

The oak and cedar in the heart provide the woody roots of the fragrance that anchor it further in a real outdoorsy feel.

Even with its sweet and woody side, Grange for me feels like more of a fragrance I would wear outdoors in warmer weather, or perhaps as a comfort fragrance of sorts.

Grange, like Blyss, is a great value for an extrait de parfum, at $85 for 50ml, and it's nice to know one is getting dense juice even if it's (deliberately) not a projection monster.

8 out of 10
03rd December, 2018
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Ferrari Amber Essence by Ferrari

Like Marc (Robes08) warns in his YouTube review, Ferrari Amber essence is more like a spicy/woody fragrance than an amber-dominant fragrance. It's part of the same group of modestly-priced ($36 for 100ml on FragranceNet) recent releases from Ferrari, though, that are overall quite great quality, particularly for the price.

Its notes seem mostly correct, as it comes like a sandalwood/pepper while actually being made of cashmere woods, patchouli, nutmeg, and yes, amber, however little. It's really not a sweet mix, but certainly leans somewhat spicy, and the spiciness projects more than the woods, so if anything, its spiciness could be overbearing to some, but I kind of enjoy it.

Other offerings in the line are better, though: Noble Fig, Bright Neroli, and especially Radiant Bergamot. Still, Amber Essence is a solid composition and value, and also, it's a very good performance, loud on skin for hours.

Overall, it's worth checking out, and was a reasonably cheap blind buy risk of mine that mostly paid off in terms of the result.

7 out of 10
30th November, 2018

Nisean by Parfums de Marly

I feel like Nisean passed me by amidst what's been a flurry of recent releases from Parfums de Marly in the last few years, and it tends to be overshadowed by Layton (and Exclusif) and Carlisle as the standout releases in the time since Nisean dropped in 2016.

Nisean is, however, very rich, in my opinion, a sort of patchouli/incense dark wintery blend that's spicy, smoky, and a wee bit resinous without being sweet. It feels inherently masculine to me based on the scent profile, which does describe too many specific notes except for saffron and patchouli. And it does have vaguely woody feel to it throughout its life but especially in the dry down, during which the spicy aspects diminish a bit and the whole blend becomes a bit more understated.

It's a great performer and is modestly priced ($320 for 125ml retail, comparable to others, but only $135 on FragranceNet, and $116 for a tester, even) via the secondary market, where other fragrances in the line tend to be priced a bit higher.\

Overall Nisean strikes me as both underrated and underdiscussed in light of its quality, agreeability, performance, and current grey market price, all of which are a formula for what could almost serve as a men's winter nighttime signature fragrance, especially for formal occasions.

8 out of 10
29th November, 2018

Holidays by Mancera

Mancera Holidays is fun blend that lives up to its name in conjuring vacations/holidays, particularly in warm areas. Its bend of citrus, coconut, white florals, sandalwood, vanilla, and musk, is itself almost a typical formula for creating such an effect.

The citrus fades after a couple of hours and gives way to the floral/vanilla/woody/musky dry down, positioning the fragrance as unisex but feminine-leaning, even if slightly. It's a pleasant dry down, almost milky, but surely most of the excitement is in the opening couple of hours where the citrus is still in the mix.

It reminds me somewhat of Profumum Roma Dulcis in Fundo and Volo AZ 686, but certainly is not a near-match for either. It's just composed in a similar way in terms of the fresh citrus/vanilla in Dulcis and white floral/citrus/musk in Volo.

At $127.50 for the standard larger size 120ml bottle on FragranceX, the pricing is line with the discounted offerings of most grey markets for Mancera. Certainly there are cheaper alternatives to be found, but the fragrance does offer great performance and a semi-niche feel to it. A nice offering from the line, particularly for warm weather wearing.

7 out of 10
28th November, 2018

Vanilla Cake by Montale

Montale Vanilla Cake is a release I was looking forward to trying since it was announced, given Montale's takes on vanilla, like most other nots that tend to dominate fragrances (rose, oud, etc.) are usually very bold. Vanilla Cake, however, is rather subtly and considerately blended, though.

It's nuanced by the addition of meringue to give an otherwise vanilla-dominant experience a hue of citrus, slightly tart or even sour, with the other additives that support the vanilla--namely, milk, almond, and caramel.

The performance is boastful even if the fragrance itself is not over-the-top. Available on FragranceX for a discounted $119 for 100ml (contra the retail $180), it's a decent deal, but I'd expect to be available for less at some point.

Still a like not a love, at least for me, but a nice take on vanilla from the house.

7 out of 10
27th November, 2018

1 Million Lucky by Paco Rabanne

1 Million Lucky is another loud flanker from the ever-loud 1 Million series from Paco Rabanne. While the previous flanker released, Prive, was a more subtly winter take on the original composition, and perhaps the biggest departure to date from the original formula, Lucky is a nod to the sweet-toothed (nosed?) lovers of the sweetness of the original but not its bubblegum centricity. I fall into this category, as I like that the original 1 Million is sweet, but I don't prefer HOW it is sweet. Lucky replaces the bubblegum vibe with featured notes of hazelnut and plum, sweetening the mix in a semi-dessert way rather significantly, though the result is neither particularly nutty nor fruity.

These highlights do blend well with the amber and woods that constitute the bulk of the rest of the fragrance, and it becomes a more modest fragrance after several hours of drying down. Performance is excellent, on par with the rest of the line, and it can already be found on grey market sites and other discounters (like Marshalls, TJ Maxx, etc. in the US) so the retail $88 for 100ml need not be paid.

Some might find it redundant, but I regard it a thoroughly sweet a dessert-like departure in the line that pleasantly explores what would result from making 1 Million a bit more cavity-inducing. Not for everyone, certainly, but quite for me, and perhaps my second favorite entry in the line after Absolutely Gold.

7 out of 10
26th November, 2018

Sushi Imperiale by Bois 1920

Bois 1920 Sushi Imperiale, apart from having a provocative name, is a slightly provocative fragrance, a curious citrus-heavy top mixed with a sweet and spicy dry down consisting of vanilla, tonka, sandalwood, pepper, and wee hints of vetiver and florals.

The citrus giving way to the spice and slight sweetnes creates a sort of faux-minty tingle that I both like and dislike at the same time, sort of like a scent I'm curious to keep smelling and over while conceding each time that I smell it that there's something slightly off about it.

It's a very good, not great, performer, and most importantly, has a versatility to it, seasonally and situationally, that makes it seemingly jack of all trades yet is a master of none, as the saying goes.

It's a good performer albeit a little overpriced through retail means. It's one that I'm content to have a decant of.

7 out of 10
21st November, 2018

L'Art et la Matière : Angelique Noire by Guerlain

Guerlain Angelique Noire is among the most celebrated of L'Art et la Matiere collection, and it's easy to see why. The craft of this vanilla-dominant fragrance is carefully-executed as in Spiritueuse Double Vanille or Cuir Beluga, but the use of vanilla in Angelique Noire is more subtle, and used in less proportion.

Angelique Noire has a healthy amount of angelica root/seed, caraway, and musk shifting much of the focus away from the vanilla, providing herbal, semi-spicy, and indeed musky accents. It's rather sweet--again, the vanilla is the centerfold--but not a gourmand, really, and it gives the feeling of being carefully nuanced, a vibe of "vanilla but with a lot more" along the lines of Imaginary Authors Memoirs of a Trespasser, itself a mix of vanilla with myrrh and some other players.

Angelique Noire feels very much like a Guerlain fragrance, somewhere in the continuum of Shalimar to Cuir Beluga though very much closer to the latter.

I prefer Cuir Beluga on my own skin, for sure, but would very much enjoy Angelique Noire on someone else. It strikes me as a little feminine, as many of Guerlain's sweeter offerings do, but it's surely unisex enough for anyone to enjoy. It has the feel of a more mature scent, though, not for the younger crowd, and I suspect it's more popular among seasoned fragrance fanatics. It's not an instant winner: it takes some settling down to enjoy fully.

Highly sophisticated and emblematic of the house's imperial stature, Angelique Noire is surely worth trying. Even though I probably am unlikely to pursue beyond a small decant, I think it's a great entry the house's pantheon.

8 out of 10
20th November, 2018

Carlisle by Parfums de Marly

Carlisle seems to be one of Parfums de Marly's most successful releases in recent years, judging by the amount of online buzz it receives, actual sales notwithstanding. It features a nice array of frankly conflicting notes, an opening of citrus (bergamot, mandarin) followed by a sharp violet and spicy cardamom in contrast with patchouli and sweet guaiac wood. It's not a sweet fragrance, really, but there's a slight sweetness that keeps it from being a sharp/spicy bomb.

It's elegantly blended, usually the case with PDM offerings, but still bold enough to turn heads. Still, I see it as sort of an upscale men's cold weather signature scent of sorts, not particularly feminine but not laden with leather or oud, for instance, to make it over-the-top masculine. It's easy to see why it seems so popular among men in particular, and is one of the standouts of the PDM men's line.

Carlisle is a very good performer, like most of the more cold-weather-leaning PDM offerings, but as usual the retail price is a little bit untenable, even at $350 for 125ml, but I imagine there are deals to be had even in the post-Notino era in the US. Max Aroma seems to offer 40% off the entire PDM collection they carry from time to time.

Overall, definitely worth trying, as many men will find this to be an easy winner--I'm just not smitten, personally, but respect the craft.

7 out of 10
19th November, 2018

Wild Collection : Wild Candy by Mancera

Mancera Wild Candy is a more agreeable, refined version of a candy-laden, fruity designer fragrance, usually marketed to young women, at least in recent decades in the US.

It's a balanced composition that consists of mixed citrus, rose, chocolate, vanilla, sandalwood, guaiac wood, and musk, a formula, which, when read does seem like it'd make for a good sweet fragrance, and the result is largely as predicted. It's sweet, fruity, bright, sort of fresh, and sort out indulgent with the chocolate and vanilla, but it never veers off into deep gourmand territory. It's mainly a "candy" in the artistic sense; it does not smell like food, per se.

It's a good performer, as well, like most of the Mancera/Montale empire, and it's elegant enough to distinguish it from most of its designer kin.

Its retail pricing is the standard $180 for 120ml until it recently sold out, it was available on FragranceX for $94. I estimate the cheaper, designer candy scents might be more reasonable alternatives at half the [discounted] price, or even less, but there's no denying that Wild Candy is fun, easy-to-wear scent for fans of the sweeter stuff.

7 out of 10
16th November, 2018

Wolfsbane by Parfums Quartana

Wolfsbane might have the most notoriety of any perfumes in the Parfums Quartana Les Potions Fatales line. It's dark, woody, spicy, and rooted in, well, roots: angelica root, ginger root, and vetiver. It's blended with the wildcard ingredient of absinthe, a tricky animalic contributor in castoreum, and a couple of flowers, and a comfortable bed on benzoin and sandalwood.

It feels more loud and invasive at its opening but it dries down to be rather subtly and comfortably blended, clearly apt for colder weather, and probably nighttime wearing. It’s surely an adventurous and bold plunge into its dark roots, but after several hours of wearing, it has a calm balance, slightly sweeter than when it opened, with the benzoin and sandalwood becoming more involved.

It’s a fun dive into a rooty, vetiver, liquor, licorice sort of creation. Fans of the darker Slumberhouse entries might find Wolfsbane a worthy companion. It’s surely a great performer, to that effect. A quick whiff of it several hours in reminds me a little of Slumberhouse Ore, even though I know, objectively, that they’re quite different.

I can imagine this will be more interesting to men, given its dark and spicy tones, but as with the rest of the collection, I’d recommend that everyone at least give it a sniff and see what they think. It’s priced at $185 for 50ml, the higher end of pricing for the line, but certainly in performance and bravado, it’s particularly worthwhile among its peers in the line. It’s not surprising that it’s so popular while seeming turn others away. It’s simply not for everyone.

8 out of 10
15th November, 2018

Venetian Belladonna by Parfums Quartana

Another nice floral offering from Parfums Quartana, Venetian Belladonna is among the more traditionally floral-intensive entries in the line, but nonetheless involves interesting nuances.

It opens a bit powdery (iris, violet) and boozy (plum, cognac) but dries down a little more mellow, with balance coming from the sandalwood, vetiver, suede, patchouli, and labdanum.

Overall, it's a reasonably smooth production, never screeching too loudly.

A bit on the feminine side, surely, but yet another provocative somewhat floral entry from the line, a great year-round option, in my estimation, as it’s neither too heavy nor too fleeting to be off-putting in the summer or winter, respectively, though people can do as they please. Much like Poppy Soma, I’d much rather enjoy smelling this on a woman than on myself but that’s not because I don’t think a man can wear it.

Pricing is $165 for 50ml, in the middle of the price range of the line, and it can be found at Perfumology, among other shops. Another very interesting entry from this line

7 out of 10
14th November, 2018

Mandrake by Parfums Quartana

On a warmer day, Mandrake marks an apropos retry of Parfums Quartana, the full house of which I sampled some weeks ago at Perfumology and am now making my way through again.

Mandrake is a fresh and fruity fragrance on the whole, a mix of bergamot, apple, and pomegranate (though I mainly detect the first two) in concert with the mandrake root itself, a healthy helping of rhubarb, (with which I'm not really acquainted) as well as some woody and sweet players: sandalwood, patchouli, cardamom, birch tonka, vanilla.

It reminds me a little bit of Imaginary Authors Sundrunk with the rhubarb/fruit duo, a fun comparison as both fragrances are pleasant summertime options.

Its performance is quite good, given that I (and a handful of others, it seems) label it a warm-weather fragrance, and good performance seems to be pretty consistent across the label. Pricing-wise, the sole 50ml bottle size is priced at $145, on the lower end of line’s pricing, and is sold at Perfumology, among other boutiques in the US and abroad.

It might not be my very favorite but it's a strong entry in the line, quite agreeable, not overly floral, something befitting almost anyone, a little less divisive than, say, Bloodflower or Poppy Soma.

7 out of 10
13th November, 2018

Poppy Soma by Parfums Quartana

Retrying Poppy Soma from Parfums Quartana is a treat. Like Midnight Datura, it's one of the entries in the Les Potions Fatales line that actually feels quite floral dominant, whereas most are more blended though named after central floral ingredients.

Poppy is a provocative ingredient for me, reminding me of heroin, opium, and poppy seed bagels all the same, but when combined, in this perfume, with other white florals that seem common to the Quartana line (jasmine, tuberose, rose) and others (gardenia, styrax) and rounded out with some musk and mixed pepper. It's overall quite seductive, creamy, sweet, and above all, floral.

The pepper does not seem to weigh heavily on my nose, the blend never seeming particularly spicy, but the musk comes out significantly in the dry down, in my estimation, as the scent shifts from sweet and sharp to mostly sweet.

It's a stronger performer than most of the line, as well, bold and dense for several hours before finally starting to thin out. Priced at $185 for 50ml, Poppy Soma is on the higher end of the line’s pricing.

I would enjoy smelling this more on a woman than on myself, as that's simply how it feels on my skin, a bit unnatural for me, ever so slightly too floral, but it certain is quite the composition and lives up to its having won the 2017 Fragrance Foundation (Fifi) Award for Perfume Extraordinaire of the Year. Certainly a worthy try from the line.

7 out of 10
12th November, 2018

Bloodflower by Parfums Quartana

Bloodflower was my initial first favorite of the Parfums Quartana presentation when first smelling the entire collection and it remains a provocative, unique entry in the line, somewhat a cold-weather, sweet, slightly masculine-leaning option, like Hemlock, but very much with its own vibe.

Amidst a host of notes, licorice and anise color my experience of it most strongly--not wholly, but enough that I'm generally thinking licorice and anise first before any other notes.

Only after several hours does the pseudo-blood accord (that many seem despite, and others revere) become a significant aspect of the fragrance.

All throughout, spicy additives of clover, patchouli, and orris help add color and depth and nuance while not taking away much from the signature players.

It's a solid perfumer, like Hemlock, somewhat masculine and surely more apt for cold weather, and at $145 for 50ml, is at the lower end of the Quartana pricing (for which other perfumes are $165 or even $185).

8 out of 10
09th November, 2018

Hemlock by Parfums Quartana

Hemlock is perhaps the sweetest entry of Parfums Quartana's Les Potions Fatales that I've retried so far. It's a mix of the eponymous floral note, the infamous poison taken by Socrates, and a host of other notes (really, the note list is unusually long), which consist of other florals, woods and woods-like influences, and some spices, still with the whole blend being rather sweet.

The elephant in the room is the black vinyl accord, which is very effective, as the perfume smells of a vinyl record--in concert, of course, with the host of other notes, but still rather prominent in the mix. The particular mix of black vinyl, and say, clove and cinnamon, fosters an almost anise-like vibe, certainly sweet in its own way, but somewhat bitter, as well. There are also healthy doses of woods (leaves, sandalwood, amber wood) and sweet bits (vanilla, tonka, benzoin) that foster a sort of comforting blend. It's really a remarkable accomplishment to balance out all of these competing aspects---daring/comforting and natural/synthetic.

I'd classify it more as cold-weather-appropriate but it's not so dense and overwhelming as to not be befitting, say, a summer evening; I'd simply avoid wearing it in extreme heat since the black vinyl accord might become a little bit overwhelming itself under those circumstances.

Hemlock is a very good performer, as well, like Midnight Datura, and a little bit better than Digitalis or Lily of the Valley. Pricing for Hemlock is in the lower end of the range for this collection, $145 for 50ml, and like the rest of the collection, can be found at Perfumology, among a few other similar US boutiques.

This is yet another fragrance in the collection executed with care, intrigue, and some sense of dare.

8 out of 10
08th November, 2018

Midnight Datura by Parfums Quartana

Unlike my first two retries of the Parfums Quartana Les Potions Fatales collection, Midnight Datura is, actually, quite floral-dominant.

It has the feel of a white floral that opens with just a bit of mixed citrus before becoming a seemingly full-on white floral, the datura (of which I'm individually unfamiliar) blending with other white florals like jasmine and tuberose in a fairly sharp mix. Not to be tempered, but at least blended, the white florals mix with spicy accords of patchouli, clove, and pepper, render the perfume rather provocative.

Still, it has an air of sophistication as it's somewhat restrained, and it feels rather versatile, working well especially for women, old and young, as it doesn't feel like like a stereotypical old or young ladies' perfume. Some men may undoubtedly enjoy this as well.

Its performance is quite great, with significant projection for hours and then a slightly projection for hours thereafter. Superior to Digitalis and LOTV, performance-wise.

Categorically, Midnight Datura is not quite my cup of tea, it being a floral-dominant offering, but it's surely well done, with care and complexity befitting the collection and price, the roughly-standard $165-for-50ml going rate via retail establishments in the US, like Perfumology.

Certainly worth sampling and it should be overlooked in the collection.

7 out of 10
07th November, 2018

Digitalis by Parfums Quartana

Digitalis is perhaps the most aquatic, ozonic, and green of the Les Potions Fatales collection from Parfums Quartana. Usually "ozonic" is a descriptor that renders me inclined to think that a fragrance is cheap and only ephemerally interesting or tolerable, as that's been my experience with most fragrances described as such, but in Digitalis, that mold is broken.

Apart from the Digitalis (or Foxglove) flowers, a genus with which I'm not all that familiar, this perfume entails moss, ozone, resins, cucumber, coriander, and rose. It's quite fresh, surely green, and comfortably blended. It has vegetable and herbal hints but is not akin to wearing a vegetable (like the first incarnation of Zoologist Panda, for instance).

Performance is quite great for the type of fragrance it is, with projection roughly average, and longevity above average. Overall not as quite as robust as LOTV or other offerings in the line, but certainly satisfactory for the usage occasions, generally daytime during warm weather, in my estimation, though it's a versatile-enough offering for men and women alike throughout the year. It just plays better to the day or casual (than the night or formal) occasions.

The pricing for Digitalis is on the lower end of the collection, at $145 for 50ml, sold at Perfumology, Twisted Lily, Fumerie, etc. in the US.

8 out of 10
06th November, 2018