Perfume Reviews

Reviews by J_Luna

Total Reviews: 4

Clubman by Pinaud

I was hanging around with my wife and daughter in a mall-chain cosmetics supplier called Sally Beauty when I spied this next to, of all things, barbershop talc and spanking new double-edged razors…. Who knew? I was surprised to see such an unvarnished presentation of what has been tidily reconstructed by the lovely bearded tattooed dandy hobos in the postmodern, pricey & packed barber shop downtown. Anyway, this stuff is great… It will cost you coffee money and you’ll want to round up a glass bottle to decant it into (this step is important.) It starts off almost luminescent in its intense citrus medley, segues into lavender, geranium, and some sweet floral I don’t really care for, and lands on a cushion of mosses (my very new bottle still has oakmoss and tree moss, thank goodness.) As some have commented, note separation is a scratchy vinyl record of an old blue tune. The good news is that the cheapness (strong blast of alcohol, candied citrus and granny florals) burns off by the time you’ve arrived at work, leaving a talc & moss drydown with considerable stamina and pleasant discretion. You come to love the harshness anyway.

Applied lightly, it layers pretty well as an aftershave with things that also turn powdery and mossy, or anything with barbershop/eau de cologne opening accords (the current formulation of Azzaro PH is actually improved by it): Rive Gauche, Eau Sauvage, Guerlain Vetiver, Third Man, Brut, etc. In an age of moss-less reformulations, you might even find it adds something that was missing.
06th November, 2016

Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior

Another review of Eau Sauvage because… At some point the scent needs to be evaluated for what it is, in comparison to other available fragrances, rather than in comparison with the memories (or aging bottles) of a vintage formulation. I would also underscore that the version of Eau Sauvage I’m reviewing is François Demachy’s post 2011ish reformulation (lighter colour, magnetic cap), which in fact had much better longevity than a NIB bottle of the 2009 formulation (oakmoss listed on the box, but weaker, flatter & shorter-lived) picked up at Sephora last year.

There’s not really any point in listing the notes: educate your nose and you can detect everything listed in an extended pyramid (the one BN lists plus things like iris, caraway, etc.), enjoying the lucid note separation while you’re at it. What’s key is not the notes but the blending… Following the initial citric burn, the balance is smooth and dynamic, with an elegant, trailing drydown. The great features of this composition that are part of its legend (a vivifying citrus, a watery freshness, a second-skin ‘sweat’ accord athwart the expected classical balance) are all there, as translated from old school reviews to what’s right under your nose. There are synthetics here, but unlike some fragrances that whine, buzz or rasp recklessly, the texture overall is graceful, and a little shabby in the most elegant possible way. Speaking of elegance, the 3.4 ounce bottle is a piece of Platonic pleasure that fits well in your hand, the metal label, like a nameplate outside an apartment in a very good neighborhood still presents Dior’s Christian name (sorry for the pun), and the atomizer is generous and efficient.

Final notes: Complaints about longevity should be read with some skepticism as the possible products of past history and knee-jerk repetition. I’ve only been into this hobby for a few years, but most things I’ve tried act just like this, if I am lucky: 1-2 hours of good projection on post-shower skin, followed by a drydown that lasts 4-6 hours on skin and 6-8 hours on the collar of my shirt. Eau Sauvage reactivates crisply with body heat and smells affectingly natural lining the skin at the end of a working day. It reapplies very effectively at the cocktail hour and will last the rest of the night if you decide to take it into the evening. Observations based on several bottles? This macerates (ages) better than most of what I’ve tried, new or vintage: my bottles have firmed up beautifully in just about six months, gaining a bit more punch in terms of both strength and longevity; if it feels too fleeting, shelve it for a season or two and try again.

Why all the fuss? If you are looking for compliments, they’re there to be had, but this is also one of the best educations in fragrance composition your designer-level dollars can buy. As a meeting point of art and entertainment, beauty, versatility and reliability, it holds its place in the present as both signature and statement.
23rd October, 2016

Brut by Fabergé

I recently ran into the medallion-bedecked glass bottle of Brut Classic (circa 2008)… Being a fan of vintage clothing and thrifting, I am always interested in the curious prickle one gets when stumbling across a find… the slightly out-of-date font on the box, that marvelously kitschy-but-good bottle design. When I first began getting into fragrances again a couple of years ago, I went through an aftershave phase (Pinaud Clubman, Florida Water, etc.) and tried the plastic-bottled aftershave version of Brut as well as something called 'special reserve.' Definitively: neither of them is half as good as Brut Classic. Sillage is fairly potent for the first 2-3 hours, and longevity is decent in this formulation at 5+ hours. It's surprisingly buoying as well and both pleasant and discreet at work if not over-applied (incidentally, it is similar enough to the aftershave and deodorant stick to make layering pleasant, but in both cases, discretion is paramount – go easy). It takes some work to set aside the cultural baggage you may have, depending upon your age (I'm 44, probably the generation most likely to be haunted by the ghosts of middling authority figures past), but if you can, this is a surprisingly wearable fougere, maybe even a little bit ‘classic’ …

The citric-herbal top notes of mint, basil and lemon are inviting, the lavender refreshing, and the geranium tantalizingly zingy; the yang-ylang and jasmine can take some getting used to, the former redolent of plastic-wrapped candy, and the latter indolic in a way that can remind me of white flowers on their way out, but - weirdly enough- these quickly become addictive, forming an almost honey-like accord with the powdery sweetness of coumarin. There are even hints of sandal and patchouli peaking through, producing moments of actual delight or deliciousness as the scent reacts to body heat (I can’t restate enough that this is NOT an experience I have with the plastic parody, but only Brut Classic). Anisic aldehydes keep things wet and tart in a barbershop mien for the first couple of hours, easing in to a pleasant powdery-fresh vs. musk continuum that emerges as a skin scent with a whiff of clean, keep-it-togetherness that helps ground your tenor when attempting to work well with others. There is something kind of clashing in the blend of fresh, sweet, musky and medicinal, but that may well be part of the appeal, depending on your perspective. I don’t think I have yet gotten to the end of how much culture and nature talk circles around one another as you try to decide how you feel about this fragrance (though cheap, it’s better than you think you think it is, but its cheapness is also a key ingredient to its being good design), but isn’t that part of what we’re learning about these things for, what they used to call ‘a sentimental education?’
19th May, 2016
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Pour Un Homme by Caron

Of all of the fragrances I have sampled or owned, Caron Pour Un Homme perhaps most embodies the gap between first impressions and ‘acquired taste.’ Its top notes are potent and oily, while its base is unexpected, seemingly incompatibly sweet and warm. It smells, frankly, nothing like ‘cologne’ (no calone nor ambroxan, no generic Sephora smell here!) And then there is the incredible rawness of the lavender with its “playdough” smell…

Once you’ve worn it a few times, however, it becomes a different animal entirely. The lavender is still potent, but you see how the effect is not crude but calculatedly bracing, the lemon note giving it an acidic start, which to which the rosemary adds an almost mentholated astringency. Then the tonka bean (somewhere between cassia cinnamon and vanilla grass) appears bringing out its caramel characteristics of the lavender and providing segue to the richness of the vanilla. In the drydown, the hay-like warmth of coumarin settles mossily into the musk base, all of its still complimented by an herbaceous sweetness. Somewhere in there are textural expressions of cedar and sage to round out the hay. The primary notes (lavender and vanilla) are about cleanliness and affection, but the coumarin (this scent is really an essay on the coziness of fougeres) is solid comfort.

For all the positive posts by bloggers who really know their stuff, there is also a surprising amount of misinformed prejudice about this fragrance – that it is for dandies, that it is old fashioned, ‘feminine’, too basic, or just plain awful, but don’t be fooled. Once you’ve acquired a taste for it, it is one of the most consistently wearable masculines in production. The materials are good, and largely reformulation-proof, the longevity is decent and the sillage will certainly wake you up in the morning before settling down to a discreet and office-friendly allure that isn’t bad for yard work either (mixes well with sweat.) Great after a shave, pleasant before bed and something that someone you love will enjoy smelling on the collar of your shirt.
01st February, 2016