Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Bonnette

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Total Reviews: 60

White Shoulders by Elizabeth Arden

White Shoulders doesn't seem to age well. I have two EDCs and one parfum from the Evyan years, each of them boxed and well stored, but all of them have faded - the parfum is just basenotes now, the EDCs mere shadows of their former selves.

So...even though the current version is, yes, watered-down and reformulated, it is a reasonably good buy if you want to revisit the memory of this once-glorious, robust fragrance. The current versions still have that special heady white floral accord we remember at the opening, though it is fleeting.

I agree with other reviewers who prefer the EDP, mainly for its longer lifespan - the EDC has scant longevity, and is comparatively thin. This was one of my favorites, growing up, and I still love having it around.
27th August, 2017

Carnal Flower by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Much has been said about the realism and freshness of this fragrance, and I don't have much to add on that score - except to say that Carnal Flower's freshness is not about soap or naivete, but rather the just-cut essence of stalk and bloom. It really is like walking into a florist's refrigerated room, or strolling through a garden alive with white flowers.
There is a lovely green note that prevents Carnal Flower from sliding into sweet sentimentality - it retains its character right through the drydown. Along with Fracas (Piguet) and Tubereuse Criminelle (Lutens), Carnal Flower is among my top three current favorite tuberose perfumes (for vintage, nothing comes close to L'Heure Bleue).
27th August, 2017

Tubéreuse Criminelle by Serge Lutens

As others have said, Tubereuse Criminelle opens with a surprising mentholated accord - but I find it hypnotic instead of off-putting, which is surprising because I don't generally like minty scents. I feel pulled by the opening, wanting to see where it leads.

As TR develops, the lovely tuberose and jasmine make their appearance (though the menthol or wintergreen undertone persists, in a muted but steady way). The floral notes are neither sweet nor overwhelming, surprisingly gentle for a fragrance with such a formidable reputation.

Alas, TR has minimal longevity and sillage for me - it's pretty much gone in four hours. But I love it while it lasts, and this has become one of my favorite tuberose fragrances.
27th August, 2017
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Dryad by Papillon Artisan Perfumes

Dryad is gorgeous. It's as green as the forest floor, sharp with moss and vetiver, softened by resins and subtle florals; there's even the hint of a stream burbling in the background. It is a symphony of natural smells and associations. I suppose it could be called a chypre, but that term restricts it.

Dryad maintains its structure throughout its development, drying down seamlessly and lasting all day on my skin (I could even detect a whisper of it the next morning). After several hours, it reminds me of Bandit - but it never loses its own sparkle and mystery.
11th July, 2017 (last edited: 12th July, 2017)

Baghari by Robert Piguet

This review is for the current EDP. Piguet is one of my favorite houses, and none of its fragrances thus far have actually disappointed me; Baghari, though, while it is a pleasant and perfectly respectable floral, does not single itself out as a fragrance I'd want to wear often. It is almost a generic concoction, albeit well done.

Vintage Baghari had an interesting edge to it that the current formula lacks, which of course should come as no surprise in this highly regulated era; I don't expect miracles. Still, this EDP leaves me flat.
11th July, 2017

Boy Chanel by Chanel

This is a lovely fougere with a beautifully balanced floral bouquet. It's subtle, refined, delicate but not dainty - as integrated, elegant and well-mannered as any creation we've come to expect from Chanel. I think it would be perfect for almost all situations and occasions, as it easily becomes one with the wearer and never screams or calls undue attention to itself. This is one of Chanel's best recent releases, in my view.
13th December, 2016

Mitsouko by Guerlain

This review is for the 2014 EDT, which is reputed to be among Guerlain's better reformulations. I also have a 2015 EDP, and can't recommend that one - it has a sour note, and might have been among the batch issued prior to Guerlain's 2015 Mitsouko and L'Heure Bleue production halt due to a problem with one of their shared ingredients (that issue was resolved, and production resumed in 2016). The 2015 suspension involved only the EDP and parfum extrait concentrations of those fragrances - not the EDT.

Mitsouko EDT, while of course lighter and thinner than the parfum, is true to its heritage and actually smells more like my vintage juice than the 2015 EDP (referenced above). The EDT is fresh, crisp and well delineated, and it even has a little of the bite we associate with oakmoss (though modern Mitsouko contains only a fractionated version of that restricted ingredient). So I agree with those who say that 2014 was a very good year for Mitsouko EDT.
31st October, 2016

Cabochard by Grès

This review is for the current EDP, which is widely available at an unbelievably low price for a classic - albeit heavily redacted - fragrance. Cabochard is often compared to Bandit and Azuree, and indeed they are very similar (especially in the drydown); but to my nose it smells more like the current excellent reformulation of Magie Noire, which is more floral than Bandit and Azuree. Cabochard still has its leathery and smoky edge, though. It opens very sharp and green, and mellows into a satisfying modern chypre (i.e. no oakmoss, what an oxymoron!). It retains its structure throughout many hours on my skin, with a healthy sillage. Of course, like most current reformulations, Cabochard EDP isn't as robust as its vintage predecessor - but it's still quite good.
25th October, 2016

Samsara by Guerlain

This is a review of the current EDP, which I quite like. I am nearing the bottom of my 1991 EDT bottle (so sad!), and decided to order a new version for comparison purposes - today's EDP is very reasonably priced, so it wasn't a huge risk. And it was a good decision, because it's lovely.

It isn't fair to essay a direct comparison between vintge EDT and current EDP (not exactly apples and oranges, maybe Winesap vs. Red Delicious?), but I can at least report that Samsara's DNA is intact. The EDP is still sandalwood and spice, sensuous and enveloping. Longevity is a few hours less than the vintage EDT, but still respectable - and the drydown is lovely.
20th August, 2016 (last edited: 21st August, 2016)

Muscs Koublaï Khän by Serge Lutens

This is devilishly divine! :) I ordered a sample and knew I'd want to buy a full bottle at some point. True to its reputation, Muscs Koublai Khan is animalic as all get-out - but in a knowing, sophisticated way, neither crude nor overweaning. It's not even edgy: it's elegant, but just barely. This masterfully blended symphony of musk, civet and floral notes is just lovely.
01st August, 2016 (last edited: 25th July, 2017)

Visa by Robert Piguet

This is a beautiful floral oriental with an abundance of wonderful fruit notes. I love opulent perfumes that carry me back in memory to the pre-IFRA days, and Visa - while it has been reformulated, like every other fragrance - fills that bill. It's warm, gracious, enveloping and inviting, sweet but not smarmy. I think it's lovely.
30th July, 2016

17/17 Irisss by Xerjoff

This is one of the best iris fragrances I've ever smelled - it's rich, buttery, exquisitely balanced. But on my skin, it's as delicate as the flower, with scant sillage and projection, and it fades away completely within 3 hours. At over $700 a bottle, that's unacceptable - fortunately, I didn't have to pay that much because I split a bottle with three other people.

I give Irisss a thumbs-up for sheer beauty, and it might perform better on someone else; it wouldn't seem fair to give this lovely scent a neutral rating. But I must say, I like Cuir de Lancome almost as much.
30th July, 2016

Sahara Noir by Tom Ford

I am a huge fan of incense notes, and Sahara Noir is among the best I've smelled. It is simultaneously sweeter and more tarry than another of my favorites, Comme des Garcons' Avignon (with which it is often compared); I find it less dry than Avignon, too. I seem to detect vanilla behind Sahara Noir's prominent resins, though it is not listed among the notes - this has the effect of wrapping one up in a blanket of heavenly smoke. Or maybe it is the prominent amber that draws me in. Sahara Noir is well balanced, intriguing, hypnotic - a splendid incense fragrance.

27th July, 2016
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Tilleul / Linden by Provence Santé

If you have ever stood downwind of a linden tree in full bloom, you'll know exactly what this wonderful soliflore smells like. I'm transported. On any day of the year, I can revisit July through Tilleul. Longevity is surprisingly good for an EDT (I can still catch wafts of it after 10 hours). It wears close to the skin, with sillage like a soft breeze playing among blossoms. Tilleul is simply heavenly.
26th July, 2016

Coco by Chanel

What an interesting scent! It's as sophisticated and elegant as one would expect from Chanel, sparkling with aldehydes and with enough self-assurance to support its eccentricity. It lingers in the mind and reminds me of...something, I don't know what: an evening long ago, a garden breeze at night with crystalware tinkling in the distance, a torchlit veranda...something. It's edgy and romantic at the same time.

Coco is available in EDP, EDT and parfum concentrations. The EDP lasts for 24 hours on my skin, without losing any of its structural integrity throughout its development and drydown. When Coco finally fades away, it does so without reverting to the rubbery synthetic smell that I've noticed in the last stages of most reformulations: it is very much like a fine vintage fragrance, rich from beginning to end, with perfectly blended floral, fruit and spicy notes (similar to Opium, but more stately).

One reviewer said that Coco smells like old-fashioned cough syrup, and I understand that perception; for me, though, there's enough going on here to lift it out of the medicinal family of notes, and set it apart. Coco is an unusual beauty which needs to be appreciated with an open mind, on its own terms. I find it simply stunning.

07th July, 2016 (last edited: 08th July, 2016)

Misia Eau de Toilette by Chanel

Misia is a very, very pretty fragrance, a soft and retro spicy rose that is smooth, sweet and captivating. It is an intimate and inviting scent that never overwhelms. Like most of Les Exclusifs, Misia has a short lifespan on my skin - it is a whisper, almost an afterthought, after two hours. I know that it performs much better for other reviewers, and I'm used to the fact (sad as it makes me) that this line fades fast for me. Nevertheless, Misia is beautiful, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves gentle, nostalgic, almost melancholy, rose and iris fragrances.
07th July, 2016

31 rue Cambon Eau de Toilette by Chanel

31 rue Cambon is one of my favorites among the Exclusifs line. I love its spicy warmth and gracious elegance. Longevity for me is good by Les Exclusif standards (about 6 hours), during which time it never loses its character or backbone; even when it becomes a skin scent, 31 rue Cambon's character remains intact. If it came in extrait concentration, I'd swoon.
30th June, 2016

La Pausa / 28 La Pausa Eau de Toilette by Chanel

This is an elegant but approachable iris, simultaneously cool and welcoming in its self-assurance. It's almost a soliflore, but I pick up other garden scents carried in its sillage. 28 La Pausa is one of the most natural and open-hearted irises I've smelled. I don't detect any undesirable, inauthentic or misplaced notes here. It's delicate, and its brief longevity is somewhat disappointing - but oh, what a beauty while it lasts (3-4 hours on my skin).
30th June, 2016

Égoïste / L'Égoïste by Chanel

This is a beautifully balanced fragrance, with one of the best sandalwood drydowns I've ever smelled. Egoiste is elegant and well-mannered, but not stuffy - it is warm, intriguing, inviting and self-assured: it knows who it is, and is effortlessly itself.

Egoiste is frequently compared to another Chanel masterpiece, Bois des Iles. I recognize the family resemblance, but they are not replicants. Each is gorgeous in its own way, with Bois des Iles being the more floral of the two. On my skin, Egoiste has greater longevity and sillage than Bois des Iles.
30th April, 2016

Tobacco Rose by Papillon Artisan Perfumes

At first, I thought this smelled exactly like Chamade (Guerlain), but it quickly developed into its own Rose. I did pick up the initial aromachemical note that others have referred to; however, this vanished after a few moments and Tobacco Rose unfurled a very green, earth-and-garden accord supporting a lush bouquet of roses.

I believe it is the hay note which lends a compelling allure and strangeness to this fragrance; and there is real oakmoss here, too. Tobacco Rose is technically a soliflore, but its rose is joined by several well orchestrated notes that give it an intriguing character and presence. I find that it has excellent longevity, as well (8-plus hours on my skin).
15th April, 2016 (last edited: 16th April, 2016)

Black No. 1 / Blackbird by House of Matriarch

This elegant, beautifully constructed fragrance is often compared to Anubis by Papillon (with Blackbird - now renamed Black No. 1 - coming out on top); I agree, they smell quite similar, especially in Anubis' dry-down. Black No. 1 also resembles Avignon (by Comme des Garcons), with its wonderful cedar smokiness.

Black No. 1 was created to celebrate the pine forests of the northwest coast of the US, and to that end it is a masterfully blended symphony of notes including conifer, seaweed, cannabis resin and many others. Its smoke wafts a glorious seaside accord, simultaneously unfurling a sweetness that is neither honeyed nor gourmand. Black No. 1 is simply stunning, and it has enormous longevity and depth.
09th April, 2016

Anubis by Papillon Artisan Perfumes

I give Anubis a thumbs-up because it smells so wonderful to me, but wow, does it fade fast on my skin. I only get 2 hours of glorious leather, smoke and incense before it turns into a faint hand lotion-y nothing. Anubis is not known for its longevity, especially compared to Papillon's most recent release (the powerhouse Salome), but even so, most reviewers seem to get several hours from it - which is another reason for my positive rating: I think my experience is unusual. If Anubis lasted as long as Salome does for me, it would be one of my favorite fragrances - it's rich, mysterious and dense while it lasts. Sigh.
03rd April, 2016 (last edited: 10th April, 2016)

Timbuktu by L'Artisan Parfumeur

It's possible that my bottle is a recent reformulation (or that it has gone off), because I don't recognize many of the woody, spicy, incense and berry notes for which this fragrance is known. I mainly get citrus that lasts throughout the dry-down, and its overall development seems linear and - while pretty - not particularly interesting. I don't detect the sweetness that many reviewers mention, though I do appreciate Timbuktu's transparency and shimmering quality. It's just not a go-to fragrance for me.
03rd April, 2016

Dzongkha by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Dzongkha is both the name of a language spoken in the Himalayan country of Bhutan, and the designation of the monolithic, fortresslike temple architecture characteristic of that land. This is a very aptly named fragrance, as it is redolent of smells I could imagine inhabiting a sacred space in which sharp incense has been lit, wood fires burned and buttery tea served, since the 17th Century.

Dzongkha is dank and bitter, without being heavy (owing to the juxtaposition of vetiver and peony, no doubt). It's a very interesting fragrance, moody and evocative. I can't imagine wearing it often, as it's more atmospheric than anything else. But I still give it a thumbs-up, because it succeeds as a concept: it has the ability to transport one to realms that capture the imagination.

One caveat: be careful how much you apply, because Dzongkha lasts a long time. For me, one spray outlives a shower and multiple handwashings.
28th March, 2016

Salome by Papillon Artisan Perfumes

You'll think you're back in the heyday of fragrance, wearing this: dense, animalic to the nth degree, with smoky florals in the background, Salome is something Germaine Cellier (she, of Bandit) could have created. To my nose, Salome might even be the offspring of vintage Bandit and Opium. Marvelous.
27th March, 2016

Après L'ondée by Guerlain

I give this glorious fragrance 5 stars, even though it's low on projection and longevity, compared to other Guerlain scents; yet in another way, it performs exactly as a fragrance inspired by fresh showers should. There is something silvery and iridescent about it, with a here-one-minute-gone-the-next quality: when I hold my nose to my wrist only moments after spraying, sometimes I can't smell Apres L'ondee at all - yet it coalesces gently around me as I sit with my hands in my lap. It seems to be primarily a skin scent, which (as another reviewer observed) might actually have been the idea, since rain purifies the air at the same time that it elicits soft scents from beds of iris and violet. I can't even imagine how heavenly the original extrait must have smelled.
19th March, 2016

Jicky by Guerlain

This is a review for the current EDP, which I love. Of course, it is neither as potent nor as strange as the vintage juice, but it is still a heady and captivating blend of notes. I actually prefer Jicky to Shalimar, which is famously said to have been the result of Jacques Guerlain's adding an overdose of vanillin to a bottle of Jicky.

Jicky is complex and intriguing to my nose, even if it lacks the oomph of yesteryear. I doubt that I'll ever invest in a current extrait version, considering the expense:reformulation ratio, but this EDP suits me just fine.
12th March, 2016 (last edited: 19th March, 2016)

Borneo 1834 by Serge Lutens

Comparing Borneo 1834 to Coromandel, yes, they are almost...almost...identical. But I find Borneo more dry and spare, less sweet and luxuriantly nuanced. Honestly, most of the people around you won't be able to tell the difference; but to my nose, Borneo is Coromandel's darker cousin, hinting at dense earth and shadows cast by leafy canopies. I'm glad to have both, even if their DNA differs by only 1%.
12th March, 2016

Coromandel Eau de Toilette by Chanel

With the exception of Cuir de Russie, longevity of the Chanel Les Exclusifs line is disappointing for me - my skin seems to gobble it up. But WOW, is Coromandel the exception! I had decided not to purchase it, in view of this performance issue, but it was still on my wishlist and my dear husband bought me a bottle for my birthday. I am thrilled! As others have noted in reviews and posts, Coromandel doesn't even wash off in the shower - it goes on and on and on, developing its patchouli-and-incense, vanillic richness, curling around one like a column of smoke. I do get the gourmand white chocolate note that others have noted, but the overall balance of notes in this beauty prevents it from being cloying. Coromandel is voluptuous, commanding, fully realized and simply stunning.
03rd March, 2016

Bois des Îles by Chanel

I'm giving this EDT a thumbs-up because it's so lovely - but sadly, it doesn't last on my skin: within one hour of spraying, the scent has diminished by half. Most people get much better performance from it, judging by other reviews. I might need to purchase the parfum. This is a lilting, well-blended spicy-creamy floral, soft and with all the elegance and integrity one expects from Chanel - it's so good that I'll just double up on sprays.
03rd March, 2016