Perfume Reviews

Reviews by thediamondsea

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Total Reviews: 128

Baiser Fou by Cartier

Luca Turin's enthusiastic review of Baiser Fou in the new Guide led me to chase it down on a recent sniffing trip. Smelling it confirmed that I absolutely love what's happening at Cartier; Mathilde Laurent's work there sparkles with smarts, verve, invention and elegance--modern perfumes with witty throwback touches that distinguish them from the pack of current offerings. The house style feels driven by aldehydes to a degree that rivals the classic Chanels, so that the perfumes fizz and sparkle and sing with bubbles and light and humor. And the packaging is fantastic, as befits a jeweler's house--beautiful and inventive (and a badly needed corrective in this day and age, when Guerlain is killing off all their beautiful old flacon designs) and as fun as the perfumes. Nothing at Cartier seems too terribly serious, even though it is all excellent in a way that seems effortless--the kind of raised-eyebrow, relaxed chic that brings to mind Cary Grant at his best.

And Baiser Fou? I don't know what kind of witchery Ms. Laurent employed to do it, but it smells almost exactly like Italian Moscato. Not the dreadful, mass-market moscati that are currently crowding supermarket shelves and 5.99 a pop--I'm talking about the beautiful, small-batch, artisanal true-blue Moscato that costs significantly more (albeit far less than most bubbly). Yes, it is sweet; and, yes, it is fruity. But in the right time, in the right company, nothing works as well--and this goes for the perfume as well as the wine. Sweet, fruity, youthful and fizzy but *avec dosage* of something like fairy dust--this is exactly what Chanel's Gabrielle could and should have been. Recommended for young people, summer days, and winter blues.
05th September, 2018

Dark Saphir by Agonist

I've held onto my sample of Dark Saphir for a couple of years now, trying to make heads or tails of it and coming up with more questions than answers. The consensus among all the other reviewers here gels with my own impression: this stuff is busy, with every note on that impressive pyramid jostling for attention--and most of them getting it, actually. But what, exactly is it that I'm smelling, besides a whole bunch of notes all doing their crazy thing? What is this perfume trying to do or be? Figuring this out is the first step for me if I'm going to offer an evaluation of something, because how else can you decide if the effort is a success or a failure?

I don't normally break my brain trying to place a perfume into a category, but sometimes it helps to have some kind of hook on which to hang something, especially when it's smelling something complicated that seems to color outside the lines of classical perfumery. Off the bat, I find a distinctive and somewhat reassuring textbook floriental of the rich and fruity but still romantic rose/violet/iris/heliotrope school, enriched with a sensual peach and a touch of playful raspberry, with a patchouli/amber base--all of which speaks to the 80s/90s girl in me, like someobody finally got Poison and Paris to play nicely together and go skipping off together into the sunset to Danceteria. However, arm in arm (and in arm, I guess) with this very femmey composition there's an aromatic fougere that rings the changes with bergamot, violet leaf, black pepper, ginger, cumin, coriander, tonka and the aforementioned patchouli (I'm gonna go ahead and guess that there's at least a soupcon of lavender happening in the "aromatic herbs" listed here) and a powerful hit of cypriol that takes me right back to Drakkar Noir--a compositinal element that's as complete and as period-suggestive as the plush floriental side. I guess in theory all of this stuff could get along just fine in the 80s Wayback Machine. And I'm sure, at some point in many a fine evening back in the day, many many people ended up smelling like some combination of these perfumes, through close personal contact on public transit, dance floors and bedrooms.

However, Dark Saphir wanders off the nostalgia reservation almost immediately and never really goes back, aside from the occasional quick flash of association--because, at the end of the day, this stuff is built, pier and beam, on a base of a decent and not overly terebrant synthetic oud, along with other contemporary woody materials like guiac and cophaiba. I can't really tell the woods apart, per se, but I think the aggregate effect softens or at least diffuses the effects of the woods, which works for me. I don't hate modern woody ambers, but I do hate when they're allowed to run roughshod all over compositions that contain them. Likewise, I appreciate when they're handled carefully, as this one is, and at the end of the day, this Frankenstein of a perfume actually comes together and works in a delightfully post-gendered way that gives anyone who wears it a chance to have their cake and eat it, too--you can feel as comfortable in whatever skin suits you, and know that you'll smell intriguing at the very least. So many of these contemporary woody perfumes smell of a sense of dullness and melancholy to me, as if they're ashamed to show any emotion at the risk of some unfashionable reference to perfume as fun or attractive or (god forbid) sexy. Dark Saphir's overall vibe comes off as exuberant almost in spite of itself, giving the perfume a fun push-pull between serious and (almost) silly, like someone struggling to keep a straight face--and failing.

It must have been really hard to make this thing work as well as it does. The closest perfume to it, in spirit and execution that I can think of, is Tom Ford's Black Orchid (and lo and behold, Dark Saphir has an orchid note!). I think the name of the perfume could be a hint that someone might have been thinking of Black Orchid at some point along the way as Dark Saphir came into being.

I've enjoyed wearing this stuff every single time I've tested it, and now that I've kind of picked it apart, I actually think I like it even more. At the end of the day, I guess the takeaway image for me is two Gen X parents with their wacky but attractive millennial progeny--a nice little perfume family portrait. The only downer about all this may be that I've heard that Agonist has totally rebranded (again) and gone all natural. I have no idea what that has done (or not) to their compositions--if they've reimagined them with all-natural materials or completely replaced their old lineup. I'll actually be visiting a local retailer that sells Agonist this weekend, so maybe I'll have a chance to find out.

Anyway, if you like over-the-top perfumes that, by all rights, shouldn't work but actually do, then this one is definitely worth a sniff. Followers of jolie-laid perfumes like Piguet's Ouds and some of Thierry Mugler's high-end offerings might like this, too. It's an art project, no doubt, but it's one of the few I've found that I also really enjoy wearing. I hope Agonist haven't deleted it entirely from their lineup . . . . I'll try to update this review when I know more.
17th August, 2018

Bois de Santal by Creed

I'm currently wearing the only Creed Bois de Santal I will likely ever get the chance to smell, so this is going to be a very quick review. I don't even know where my sample came from; it was sitting in the soap dish in the bathroom this morning, like the perfume fairy came and left it there. It must have been in a box of other samples, or maybe it came in a swap. The handwriting on the vial is unfamiliar, and whoever sent it used masking tape to label the bottle. Most mysterious.

Whatever its provenance, I know this is the real thing. I haven't smelled (mostly) unadorned real sandalwood in so darn long that it came as a bit of a shock--that sour, almost curdled first note, paradoxically pleasing as it is. It's underlined by a thin ribbon of civet, creating an elegant but warm, earth-toned effect--brown on brown, as it melts into skin. Creed's distinctively mineral base is apparent almost from the start, emphasizing an the almost savory character of the perfume. It smells deliciously complex, gently milky (more on the order of goat milk or yogurt--there's a tang to its subtle sweetness), slightly animalic, and shows that hint of rose that often gets teased out in more elaborate perfumes with sandalwood bases. The perfumer placed the sandalwood front and center, like a solitaire gem in its setting, and then got out of the way. Perfect.

I'm guessing this sample has some age on it, because I got next to nothing in the way of citrus in the opening, but it doesn't matter, because the perfume is all about the titular material. My understanding is that Creed disco'd or vaulted or whatever this stuff a long time ago, and I feel a whiff of jealousy towards anyone who is sitting on a stock of this, since it's easily the truest and most beautiful sandalwood perfume I've ever smelled, outside of the stuff that used to be so cheap and plentiful at the health food store. I imagine when the santal supply finally replenishes itself, and Mysore will be easier to get, that we'll have to pay ultra-premium prices for it regardless of how much there really is; the market will bear up the high prices, because we've all been educated to understand and appreciate the value of sandalwood. Maybe that's a good thing, since high prices will (hopefully) help manage the demand, and we'll have plenty of this beautiful stuff around in the future.

Many thanks to the anonymous donor of my vial. Smelling this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I'm immensely grateful to whoever it is. Hopefully, I'll find out so I can thank them in person.
08th July, 2018
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Mauboussin by Mauboussin


The original Mauboussin, the perfume that caused Luca Turin to crown Christine Nagel "Queen of the Biblically Rich Orientals" is 18 years old as I write this--an age that could either put a perfume firmly past its sell-by date, or come pretty close to establishing it as a classic. I don't know if this was the perfume that officially put the term "fruitchouli" on the map, but it's among the best of a sometimes goofy genre, and its creation date suggests that it's pretty high up on the family tree, even if it wasn't the first.

The bog-standard fruitchouli structure is apparent from first application--fruity-sweet on top, spicier on the bottom. Luca Turin (yes, him again) identifies this structure as a turn-of-the millennium innovation in perfumery, a femmey top laid over a masculine base; but I think it's really a straight-up classical trope, a fruity chypre. with additional fruits plumping out the bergamot, with a sometimes tamed patchouli (in place of oakmoss a la Coriandre and its ilk) in the base, and warm amber materials tying the whole thing together. Mauboussin precisely fits the template, each part ticking down like clockwork.

The boozy fruit is, of course, a salute to Diorella and all the great fruity chypres of yore (and now, including throwbacks like Jubilation 25 and Le Parfum de Therese), and the patchouli-dominated base also nods in Roudnitska's direction. And something in either the bergamot, or the amber materials, or both, pulls Mauboussin in Diorella's sweet-tart direction and never quite lets go. The fruitiness seems to scoop up every stone fruit that ever lived, with the lush, honeyed fleshiness of peaches, apricots and nectarines laid against a slightly sour plum note (this may be where teardrop gets Branston Pickle). While the tension never really resolves, it's clear that in Mauboussin the sweet fruits have the advantage, and they lead the charge into the drydown.

The normally bony chypre structure is rendered almost unrecognizably curvy in Mauboussin. Where the resiny connecting tissue might show in a more classical chypre, here the laubdanum is reinforced with a king's ransom of sweet amber notes, vanilla and opoponax and maybe a bitter touch of myrrh. As the perfume dries down, the fruits seem to mellow from summer yellow to autumn gold, and the timbre of their sweetness links with the amber tones.

In its base, Mauboussin gives off puffs of cedar along with just a touch of piquant patchouli. This is where Christine Nagel's deft touch with oriental perfumes really shines, because her best creations don't seem to dry down so much as relax without deflating. Even in their late stages, they still send out recombinant bits of their main accords,
and this preserves an ineffable sense of freshness. I've recently noticed, with Galop d'Hermes, exactly how brilliant Ms. Nagel is with drydowns; that perfume zags where you expect it to zig, and finishes like a song that shifts into a completely unexpected and lower key toward the end, and ends on a bluesy 7th chord, just a little moody but still beautiful. Mauboussin doesn't feel as tricksy in its later stages, but the cedar lightens the base without dominating everything else. Cedary drydowns often feel like a cop-out to me, but not this one--the cedar feels almost floral, and it brings the end of the perfume back to its jasmine opening.

I can't think another perfume at this price point that so clearly illustrates what a genius perfumer can do with inexpensive materials. The resulting perfume may not smell like wads of cash, but wears with a surprising delicacy for all its heft. It's also amazingly versatile, since its ambery-sweet qualities work in cold weather while its fresh-floral qualities hold up in hot weather without wilting. Its vanilla smells delicious without turning claggy or cloying--perfect for a day in the sun or a snuggle under a coat. It's joyous and sweet enough for young people, but it has enough gravity for grownups. Regardless of how Mauboussin was marketed, I don't think it has a gender. It's lighthearted enough for daytime wear, but it has enough heft for evening. Like another one of Nagel's masterpieces, Theorema, it's excellent company for the wearer, and it lasts all day and well into the night. At current prices, this is an ideal throw-and-go for a weekend trip or a proper vacation--even if it's the kind where you never leave the house.
07th July, 2018

Cadavre Exquis by Bruno Fazzolari

I bought a sample of Cadavre Exquis right after it came out, in hopes of experiencing the freakshow that everyone else seemed to be getting from of it. I love perfume freakshows, because I love weirdness and actively seek it out. Hell, I live there. I bought property there.

Back to the fragrance. I don't know what happened, but I'm obviously hyposmic to something in it, because all I smelled was the strongest public urinal note I have *ever* smelled--and that is saying something. Stuff like Absolue pour le Soir and Kouros fades in comparison. Then, as often happens with urinous notes, it got louder and more unbearable as it stayed on my skin, until about half an hour later, when I finally had to scrub it before I started retching. It was that realistic.

I know my sample was fine, because I passed it on to HouseOfPhlegethon, whose review jives with the general impression of "zany and inedible but compelling gourmand." Burnt chocolate? Spices? Curried Tootsie Roll? I wish. My Cadavre Exquis smelled like Paris Pissoir 1938--perfect for feigning homelessness, or maybe Jean Genet cosplay.
03rd July, 2018

Patchouli Eau de Toilette by Molinard

While I could concoct a few paragraphs to introduce and set the stage for my appraisal of Molinard's Patchouli (don't believe me? Read my other reviews), I actually think it best to keep this one brief and to the point--just like this perfume. I have a complicated relationship with patchouli; sometimes I'm a total phobe (I blame overexposure after years and years in the hippie capitals of Austin and San Francisco), sometimes I'm patch-curious, and sometimes--as in right now--I'm mad for the stuff. My folie a patch stems from the fact that I get migraines, and they are frequent and usually crippling. For some reason that I don't completely understand, patchouli works wonders on the pain and all its accompanying symptoms--nausea, disorientation, praying for death--and, moreover, when I'm in the middle of a serious migraine, I become unusually fond of the dirty/swampy/mossy aspects of patchouli that make the less refined versions mostly a no-go for me. I have no idea why this works--it's more than aromatherapy, because it's a very specific answer to a very specific problem.

So I'm writing this review from the depths of a migraine hole, and I'm wearing a generous coating of Molinard Patchouli. As implied above, I've tried more refined patchoulis that minimize or completely excise the dirty bits that conjure images of pond scum, tree moss, and other funky green stuff; I also love rose/patch combinations of all kinds because I'm a rose ho and that's just how I roll. But when I'm visited by the Migraine Fairy, I need cooling but pungent aromatics--menthol, camphor, mint, ginger and yes, patchouli. Something about all of these these smells pulls me out of the dark pit, and in the right doses they can begin to break up the solid ball of pain that parks behind my eyes, sometimes just enough to get a little relief before the curtain comes down again, and sometimes so effectively that I can return to the land of the living.

Molinard's patchouli fits right in the pocket--no distracting elements of powder, vanilla, rose, or much else seem to be in the mix here. I don't notice any citrus in the opening of my EdT, but I do get a giant blast of alcohol that's probably not intentional, but which works for my own quasi-medicinal uses. After that, something slightly floral seems to bloom out before an undressed green patchoui barrels on through, with plenty of eau de headshop along for the ride. Neverthesless, it's a more carefully calibrated wear than essential oil--it turns cool and dry as it develops, and it sits lightly on the skin and keeps its sillage mostly to itself. Is there amber in the drydown? Maybe something warm and still funky is anchoring this, but I usually reapply (or I am granted the mercy of a nap) before the drydown really kicks in.

I have the EdT version of this--the one that comes in the cheap bottle with sloped shoulders that I think Molinard is trying to phase out. I haven't tried the EdP, so I can't speak to its relative strength or value-added features. It appears that Molinard is trying a bit of repositioning with the new nichey packaging and the patch-vanilla options and whatnot, and that's great for them. I only hope they keep making this version, because it's more than just perfume to me--it's a medical necessity, especially at its price point. The only patch I've found that hits on the same cylinders is Farmacia Ss Annunziata's Patchouly Indonesiano, which is similarly straight-no-chaser. albeit more dense and commesurately expensive. I would love to have both, and I probably will at some point. But if you want a true patchouli perfume, without any bells and whistles, Molinard's uplifting little perfume delivers.
02nd May, 2018

Champaca by Ormonde Jayne

Ormonde Jayne Champaca brings a lovely little breath of spring, with a wispy and transparent quality that suggests instead of making a grand statement. I have no idea what champaca smells like in the wild, but it has become quite fashionable in perfumery as of late, and I've found that most treatments of this flower accentuate its lush tropicality. This rendition differs from those in its distinctive hint of greenness, which it pulls off without any hint of aggressive freshness--no obvious aldehydes or sharp citrus edges here, just a pretty neroli limned with freesia (a note that I can't say I love, having encountered it in Chanel's Beige with mixed personal results) and a vaguely Asiatic aura, with a note pyramid featuring "bamboo" on the top and "green tea" in the base.

I wish I could smell green tea in here. I suppose it's a plausible component of this blend, because I smell a somewhat bitter kinda jasminey thing happening that reminds me of the marvelously fresh-smelling Pu-Erh that I used to buy from an amazing Chinese merchant when I lived in San Francisco--just the smell of the canister was intoxicating--replete with the most, soft tannins that imparted just enough bitterness to give tea its structure. However, the note pyramid also promises some myrrh, which I love and unfortunately can't smell in here; it's either too subtle, or too well blended (or perhaps both) for me to pick up.

Or--and this is a strong possibility--the difficulty I have with the composition comes down to the same problems that I have with Ormonde Woman. Both perfumes are fabulous, but they are famously dosed with a ton of Iso-E Super, which (for me anyway) creates the illusion of a perfume that smells stronger at a short distance than right next to skin; this means wrist-sniffing can be tricky, because one must carefully gauge exactly where to smell, and even then the scent can be elusive. Still, Geza Schoen knows how to use the stuff--instead of piling too much business on the top of such a radiant substance, he uses an impressionist's touch and paints with delicate washes that give the perfume an airy quality that also feels contemporary--no aldehydes and no obvious musks, powdery or otherwise, buttress these delicate florals, so the whole thing feels transparent without being wimpy.

In the hands of a less skillful perfumer, Champaca could have been a real bludgeoner, one of those screechy floral orientals that doesn't know when to quit--or a little bit of nothing that disappears on skin in 10 minutes. Instead, this perfume comes off as subtle and smart, not so sweet that it's falling all over itself to please you, but not so greenishly tart as to say "don't bother." It seems specifically designed to go with a flowered frock, open toed shoes, and bare shoulders in the early days of the new season, just as we're shaking off the chill of winter and ready for something that feels lively and fresh but still has elegance and poise--a suitable perfume for anyone of any age who needs their spirits lifted, or who wants to spread a little warm-weather cheer. Or both--the two are certainly not mutually exclusive.
30th January, 2018

Theorema by Fendi

I swore to myself that I was not gonna get on the Theorema train, damn it--the reviews, the prices, the hype, the discontinued status, and all the wailing and lamentation that comes with discovering a classic that's no longer made--that marvelous but devastating feeling of discovery and loss.

And then, like Pandora with the box, I sometimes poked around online at the minis for resale and wondered. Meh, it's a serious oriental, I figured. It'll be another Shalimar--no doubt something beautiful, but not exactly for me. I decanted my mini into a sprayer, gave it a couple of tries, and figured I was right from the beginning--a big, clanging opening, a tangy and fresh and very novel kind of citrus, caroling huzzahs of spices, and hinting at an even grander second movement with Ozmanthian statues lurching out of the sand, trains of camels and dancing girls, and a last act reclining on a dream of vanilla. If that had happened, I wouldn't be writing about Theorema right now.

Instead, Theorema does something that few perfumes constructed in this (relatively recent era) do: it downshifts into another gear entirely--and then *kicks it*. That richness that could support an upright spoon swirls away, and what's left is a sheer, gauzy, psychedelic golden space fever dream--that lasts and lasts and lasts and lasts and lasts and lasts. And I think that's what everyone moons about. Yes, it's exotic, and it smells like spice, and I vastly prefer it in cooler weather, but it never becomes a costume drama. It's just opaque enough to feel like perfume, while it remains translucent enough that it also somehow melds together with the wearer. This effect holds true in all formulations, and that may be the genie in the bottle--that mutually transformative power between perfume and self that I think that all perfume lovers--even the most jaded of us--never stop searching for.

I could try to describe exactly what it smells like, but the truth is that Theorema is constructed of familiar materials and smells--honestly, we all know what amber smells like; and if you're not familiar with osmanthus, you can find any number of people (present scribe likely included) singing its praises online. That part is all there in the pyramid. What's great about Theorema is the construction, the way that bits and pieces of fade and return and recombine into striking new combinations, and the way it does it all in such a lovely mezzo voce, never demanding, just hanging in there with you. Those key changes, those subtle switches of mood, from almost sweet to almost dry, and the way it hangs in there and dances between them tirelessly (and the way that, hours later, it slowly, slowly, spins to a stop and finally comes creeping down beside you on little cat feet)--that's why I think Theorema is great.

Buy the ticket and take the ride: those little minis are a steal, and they will not be there forever. But don't say you weren't warned.

19th September, 2017 (last edited: 21st September, 2017)

Fleurs d'Ombre Violette-Menthe by Jean-Charles Brosseau

A very, very nice Basenotes buddy gave me sample of this, a perfume that I hoped and imagined would be a fabulous bedtime perfume--or, as I'm coming to understand it, "budoir" perfume, something powdery and comforting to help ease in to sleep. Unfortunately, I can't smell much--although what I can smell is lovely. In theory, I can't think of a much nicer accord for signaling the end of the day, since violet and powder possess soothing properties in themselves. Add mint, and the scent gains the added virtue of a cooling sensation--perfect after a shower, particularly in hot summer months.

Adding mint to violet is a nice, if perhaps not obvious, idea; and this perfume a nice addition to Brousseau's line-up, all of which seem engineered for evening (or morning, or afternoon . . .) repose. I imagine all I need is a larger quantity to get the pillowy effect I desire--so neutral for now, until I can revisit--which I plan on doing soon.
19th July, 2017

Velvet Desire by Dolce & Gabbana

I can't in good conscience give Velvet Desire a thumbs-down. After all, this is a perfectly competent, completely satisfactory Big White Floral. As a person who loves BWFs and has spent a lot of her perfume-wearing life in their company, I feel qualified to say that there's nothing wrong with Velvet Desire--no, actually, there are two things wrong with Velvet Desire, but neither has anything to do with the perfume itself. The first is the note list: it claims Gardenia, Tuberose and Frangipani, and I get nothing from it that resembles gardenia, although it does contain a nice, indolic jasmine and a delicious, camphoric tuberose (which is the best part of the perfume). The other problem with Velvet Desire is the price, which starts at a gasp-inducing $230 dollars retail. I can name over 20 Big White Florals that could eat Velvet Desire for lunch, and none of them would cost you more than a c-note. And for $230? Seriously, just get Carnal Flower.
10th July, 2017

Lolita Lempicka The Midnight Fragrance 2013 / L'Eau de Minuit by Lolita Lempicka

I'm amused by the online kerfuffle over Lolita Lempicka, Mark One. I guess it scandalizes some perfumistas that The Guide (via Tania Sanchez) awarded LL 5 stars and hailed it as a masterpiece, seeing as it's made of inexpensive materials, isn't particularly strong, lasts less than a day, costs next to nothing, and seems to be everywhere. We fumies can be a snobby lot, and LL plays to the crowd that "serious" lovers of perfume like to diss: young girls. And LL is a little fruity, a little floral and bears a distinct resemblance to candy.

To understand why that rating happened, it helps to remember that Luca Turin confesses in the same book that he especially prizes novel compositions; and, from her reviews, it seems that Tania Sanchez agrees with him. And, whatever other merits it may or may not possess, Lolita Lempicka, to employ one of Turin's favorite descriptors, smells "legible." It's unmistakeable.

My only real gripe with Lolita Lempicka lies with its poverty of materials. I don't remember smelling it back in the day, prior to whatever reforms it has undergone; but in its present state, it strikes me as interesting but synthetic and rather short-lived. However, this particular Midnight flanker addresses that very problem. It adds a big dollop of luxurious iris, a material that classes up pretty much everything it touches. The result is exactly what I wanted from Lolita Lempicka from Jump street.

For one thing, the iris in this version of LL changes the overall texture of the perfume: where the original feels a little harsh and metallic, this flanker bears a smooth, matte, satiny gloss. Adding iris also tames the screech of the high notes, which makes the violet nitrile a little less fierce--you can decide for yourself whether that's a good thing or not. And since iris is such a superb blending material, it marries the perfume into a coherence that I don't find in the original.

In addition, I suspect that there's a little more red fruit in this version, and some more dark florals. The incense persists gently throughout, and that's what I smell the most as the perfume dies down. LL 2013 (or whatever you want to call it) seems like it lasts longer than the original, but it still doesn't stick around for more than 4 hours on my skin--which causes me no particular problems, since it doesn't cost much.

Overall, I still think that the house of Lolita Lempicka remains a rare bird--a house that offers fun *and* smart, unpretentious perfumes that are widely available and fairly priced. They also don't know a season or an occasion--you can wear these perfumes anywhere, from work to school to dinner to the bar/club/live show/whatever. Their aesthetic speaks to everyone's inner goth kid, but the perfumes aren't moody or mean. They remind me of a bumper sticker I once saw in Houston's Montrose neighborhood (one of the world's epicenters of young people in fishnets and black clothing, believe it or not): on the back of a car driven by an adorable creature in inky eyeliner and fuchsia pigtails, the sticker said "Perky goths have more fun." I can get with that. If you like clever iris perfumes, this one is must; if you think you don't like iris, that goes double. Cheer, humor, brains, a little sex and all for a great price in a ridiculously fun flacon--is there anything not to like in here? Get it while it's still around.
25th June, 2017 (last edited: 29th January, 2018)

Oil Fiction by Juliette Has a Gun

Most of my favorite "modern" (I wish I could find a better word than that, because modern is such a loaded word, what with High Modernism, postmodernism, post-postmodernism, etc--I've tried using "contemporary" and sometimes it strikes me as a little affected, so I'm back to the m-word for now) perfumes fall into a class of uncategorizable weirdness that renders them almost impossible to write about. Oil Fiction is a great example. It offers plenty of obvious hooks on which to be hung--huge white floral, big ol' tuberose, tropical bouquet, floral oriental--but it doesn't fit into any of those. Sure, the notes indicate that's where Oil Fiction belongs, but smell the perfume, and discover exactly how unfamiliar all these well-known elements can be rendered.

It's not that Oil Fiction doesn't smell like its primary components, because it does. Dominating the perfume is a capacious tuberose on a scale that could conceivably stand toe-to-toe with Fracas, coupled with ylang-ylang to stretch it even further across the canvas, as it were. This part represents familiar enough territory; the floral materials seem excellent, and they call to mind appropriately sultry images until the rest of the perfume begins to uncurl beneath the florals--at which point, Oil Fiction whisks the wearer to a surrealist landscape worthy of Max Ernst, populated with freaky mechanical things nestled amid the heady jungle flowers.

I would say that something about Oil Fiction smells metallic, but that's not really accurate; after all, "metallic" usually denotes something simple, one-dimensional, and almost never pleasant--a perjorative, in short, at least in perfumespeak. Something in Oil Fiction evokes metal, but it's more than that: it's like an entire high-tech machine, with all its different layers of industrial materials, including lubricants, has come to life and has integrated itself, somehow, into the perfume's supremely fleshy florals, so that the entirety has metamorphosed into a hybrid life form made of machine and plant in a symbiotic state. I know how weird this sounds; it's science fiction stuff. But this is science fiction perfume.

Another way to look at it, I suppose, is that a clever perfumer (who remains anonymous in this case, although I have some suspicions that I'll come to in a moment) hitched a top accord of superb-quality naturals to a base of modern aromachemicals, but did it so seamlessly that it's hard to tell where one stops and other starts--not an unusual endeavor in modern perfumery, but one that's very hard to pull off with any real success. The way it's done in Oil Fiction offers the advantage of concealing the clunky aspects of what is basically a big ol' woody amber. In fact, it makes a virtue of necessity by integrating the florals and the "amber" into an accord that's unique as well as beautiful; and it adds the technical achievement of bringing together two notoriously temperamental and overpowering elements (the Big White Floral and the Big Woody Amber) and making them only not play nicely, but also seem like they were made for each other. It's like lions and lambs, or sheep and wolves, or whatever predator/prey relationship you prefer, although I'm not sure which element is which, considering how carnivorous tuberose can be. I'm gobsmacked as to the technical aspects, although I'm sure it has something to do with a massive dose of orris butter, smooth and cool and just a little green, but never rooty or powdery in this perfume.

And, I suspect in large part because of its iris content, the perfume wears like a dream. Oil Fiction is one of the few modern/contemporary/whatever you call it perfumes that I could actually sense taking flight off my skin the first time I tested it. I've read the word "flight" used in older, classical treatises on perfume composition (usually in French); and I've experienced it with rich vintage perfumes, mostly the big mamas, in parfum formulation, from the house of Patou--which leads me to conclude that a true perfume flight depends on quality florals as well as meticulous composition. The sensation I get when I first apply Oil Fiction is sort of like watching a jet switch on in a fountain; it's like a stream of liquid springing up into the sky, scattering light as it goes. The bottle's sprayer doesn't really do it justice--you get a more diffused surface area, but it happens at the expense of that joyful leap. I prefer to use a sort of pour/dab method instead (judiciously, of course--this stuff is strong), which adds the benefit of a kind of swirling sillage that also evokes the great Patou classics.

The folks at Juliet Has a Gun (a house for which I have not much love, for the most part) present this perfume as a work of art, and I concur. It's a hell of an performance, worthy of titans like Joy and Le Dix. So it's strange, especially in this day and age, that Oil Fiction has no attribution. JHaG founder Riccardo Ricci may be Nina Ricci's grandson, but he's also a self-taught perfumer, and most of his house's perfumes show the kind of naive surface charm that I associate with non-classical perfume creation. However, Ricci has an angel sitting on his shoulder, and probably hanging out in his lab as well. Lady Vengeance, one of JHaG's first offerings, was composed by Ricci's friend Francis Kurkdjian, classical perfumer extraordinaire (and an artist of mind-blowing proficiency), whose hand I sense at work in Oil Fiction. The smooth transitions, the glorious florals, the flawless execution, the way the perfume seems to almost swell from within using cleverly embedded aldehydes--these are Kurkdjian hallmarks. But the real giveaway to me is the chassis of the thing; in his own work, for his own house, Kurkdjian returns with some regularity to the much-maligned metallic woody amber base, trying to tease something beautiful out of those difficult materials--coupling the bases with warm, sexed-up amber like he does in Grand Soir, or pointing up the base materials with little touches of sweetness like he does in Baccarat Rouge 540--a work of minimalist alchemy that I often return to out of frustration, because I can just see its beauty out of the corner of my eye--and then I blink and it's gone.

I find this notion of discovering beauty in (what I consider) ugliness extremely compelling, in art and in life. Even if Kurkdjian didn't compose Oil Fiction, it's so clearly influenced by his work that I think he still deserves credit for the ideas that drive it. I also think that Oil Fiction his (or a protege's) most successful attempt at rendering klunky woody amber presentable, an endeavor that seems kind of quixotic when I think about it. Even Grand Soir, attractive as it is, feels a little like lipstick on a pig to me (perhaps because it's an amber; I don't know); and Baccarat Rouge is, to my nose, literally great on paper but not so much on living skin. Oil Fiction manages that rarest of things: it's bizarre, unique, and cerebral; but it's also as familiar as even your strangest dreams, as comfortable as a sculptural but plush sofa, and as sexy as a pair of beautiful legs wrapped in fetish boots. Oil Fiction is not for everyone, but if you have the attitude to pull it off, it's a stunner, a head-turner, and a guaranteed fisher of men.

Testers are going for a hundred bucks at the discounters' sites. If you love bold, unique perfumes and you're looking for something new, go for it, and wear with abandon all summer long (or whenever you need a hit of sunshine and a little futuristic pizzazz in your life).
25th June, 2017 (last edited: 12th December, 2017)

Black by Bulgari

I remember buying my first bottle of Bulgari Black, back in about 2000. I read about it in a magazine shortly after its launch; the big hype in the press centered on the tea note, which got my attention immediately, seeing as I was a tea drinker, and a lover of Lapsong souchang. This was right at the time that Sephora first opened in the US, so I headed to the brand-new store in the Houston Galleria, seeing as I could sniff and think in relative peace there, with no sales assistant staring at me while I tried to decide if I liked it or not. I figured I'd need a few visits before I made up my mind.

I don't remember what I expected, but it wasn't . . . this. It came out of the little rubber-coated bottle hitting on all four cylinders, all big, meaty, smoky, and floral in the way that tea smells floral, with an expansive quality that reminded me of redwood forests in the Pacific northwest. The rubber note felt almost like sap (which is where rubber comes from, after all). But what Black really brought to mind was the machine shop at the family business; Dad was a pipeline contractor, and the shop comprised a warehouse of lathe operators and arc welders--hot metal, cool lubricants, and the smell of shavings piling up on concrete. So there it was, a machine shop forest, or a forest in a machine shop, or vice versa. And it was--daringly--marketed primarily to women, although even the early blurbs mentioned that anyone could wear it. I fell in love with it instantly.

The best thing about Black was its aura of mystery. It smelled a little perfumey (from the jasmine on the top, which gets lost once the smoke gets going) and a lot dangerous. Plus, it cost a very reasonable 50 bucks, even at full retail. It took me about 10 seconds before I stuck one of the square black boxes in my little Sephora basket and headed for the counter. I took it home and wore it nearly every day for at least a year; it put me in a sort of friendly ass-kicking mood, which was perfect for surviving the daily insanity of living in Houston, with its batshit traffic and noxious weather.

Now, almost two decades later, I still have one vintage bottle of Black. It's on its last legs, and it breaks my heart a little every time I spray it. Reformulation removed the chewy complexity of the tea notes, exaggerated the rubber, and also brought out the vanilla/tonka accord in the base; the whole perfume went out of whack and lost the balancing act that made it so interesting. Also, unlike many reformed perfumes, the drydown of the original smells quite different: when the smoke dies down (literally), my vintage settles back into a true tea scent instead of the rubber marshmallows of the current version.

I could elegize for several more paragraphs, but it's depressing, and boring, to read reviews that moan on about the ruination of great perfumes. So I'll just say that the latest (and the last, as I believe it's discontinued) edition of Black still smells pretty good, albeit much cruder--a better masculine, perhaps, but a less compelling perfume to my nose. It's still better than 99 percent of the stuff out there, and my heart still skips a beat when I smell it on a stranger. Passionate love has faded to wistful affection. I'll miss it when it's gone.
25th June, 2017
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Une Rose by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Aw, man . . . this should have been a TKO for me. I'm an enormous admirer of Edouard Flechier, and a complete ho for rose perfumes. Seriously, I'll wear just about anything rosey. Unfortunately, Une Rose involves this aromachemical called Karanal, which Luca Turin says smells like urine to "a small subset of women," of which I am apparently a member.

I can smell great rose materials, and an interesting structure, and an appealing dirty quality in Une Rose that normally would have me going straight to my wishlist, and trolling eBay in search of deals. But that Karanal--it's not like the urinous note in, say, Cadavre Exquis, which smells like an old-school pissoir in high summer, straight out of a Jean Genet novel; it's more like the scent of stale dog pee after you've repeatedly shampooed a rug where the little guy made his mark more than once. It mostly hovers on the edges until the drydown starts, at which point (since I think it's some sort of woody amber material) it becomes the main event.

But--as it turns out, Une Rose has been reformulated without the Karanal. I smelled a sample of the new stuff recently, and it's lovely--lovely, and unfortunately, quite ordinary, at least to my nose. Don’t get me wrong—it feels like a massive blast from the past, the One Rose to Rule Them All (maybe that’s what the name means?). I'll happily wear my sample of the new stuff and enjoy it while it lasts, but I'm not shelling out Frederic Malle money for a nice rose. Not while so many excellent roses can be had for a quarter of the price—including many vintage roses that are stuffed and bolstered with yummy IFRA-decomplaint materials like oakmoss.

I really wish I had been able to experience the original as it was meant to be smelled--the people who love it go into transports of ecstasy when they talk about Une Rose. I love truffles, and I love dirt, and I'm seriously not easily put off by animalics--I routinely wear Salome and La Nuit without a second thought--but the old Une Rose just made me feel like I needed to clean the house or something, or at least scout the corners and upholstery for spots of dog juice. And the new one . . . beautiful as it is, at the end of the day I find myself yearning for the complexities in my not-that-old bottles of Paris and Nahema and Diva—or best of all, current-issue Goutal Rose Absolue, which slays everything in its path if what you want is Rose All Day.

Nevertheless, Une Rose is worth a sample, just to enjoy the excellent quality materials and the skill and worksmanship that Flechier (the “grand brutalist” in Luca Turin’s words) brings to the table. The guy who did my eternal beloved Poison already has a place in my personal perfumery pantheon, and Une Rose shows off the same skills and tendencies toward powerhouse fragrances that know how to get you noticed (maybe even more than you might like to be—everyone will smell you coming, and they’ll really smell you when you’re going—this stuff sends off sillage tracers for miles). I know I’m greedy, but despite all its obvious virtues, I find myself wishing for even more from Une Rose, more of the good naughty stuff that makes wearing an old-school rose so satisfying. It succeeds in building and sustaining a vintage-style opening salvo for much longer than I would have thought possible, given all our current parameters of space and time—but just when I start looking forward to some relaxing base materials, it leaps up again to its former heights. It’s a little like hearing an masterpiece overture that gets inadvertently stuck on repeat—I personally need a diminuendo after a couple of hours, something a bit less allegro non troppo, and a nice puff of moss, powder, or even a touch of amber would do fine. But if you want a Big Honkin Rose, or a rose that’s mostly free of vintage references (aside from its scale and ambitions); or, if you’re like me and must at least smell all the great roses, get your hands on a sample of this and give it a whirl (and btw, your standard Malle house sample should last you several weeks with normal use—these guys do not play). ‘Tis the season, after all—sunshine, stormy weather, the days growing longer and everything bursting into bloom.


23rd June, 2017 (last edited: 13th April, 2018)

Beautiful by Estée Lauder

To anyone who disses Estee Lauder perfumes, I say bollocks. Beautiful is my proof that this house knows how to make stunners--and make them available at prices that should make you look twice. I admit that I'm as guilty as the next perfume snob of overlooking this stuff. I remember those 1980s ads with Paulina Porizkova in the wedding veil; and I remember young, cynical me thinking that I didn't want anything to do with that kind of ad agency "romance." It's ridiculous--90s me would have loved this stuff. I'm still kicking myself, thinking of the vintage parfum I missed out on.

Although I believe Beautiful is technically a "floral bouquet," it reads as a Complicated Rose perfumes, in the same neighborhood, if not exactly the same address, as YSL Paris (a great favorite of 90s me, by the way). All Beautiful's lily/muguet/ylang/jasmine notes seem to contribute toward, and accentuate, a full-bodied rose decked out with all the trimmings. Even tuberose and orange blossom, divas that they are, get pressed into service, adding texture and carnality to the rose at the center, instead of calling attention to themselves--quite a balancing act, and exactly stuff of which great classical perfume is made.

The opening borders on harsh; no doubt EL aldehydes can really rattle your teeth. But once it simmers down a little, Beautiful works as a perfume that's both well-behaved and sexy. The rosiness exudes a sense of slightly damp freshness for hours, gradually calming down until it gives off a slightly powdered quality. The celery-like note of vetiver adds a bit of crispness to the mix. I smell next to no sandalwood in my relatively contemporary bottle. I bet true vintage has it in spades.

I can't think of a time of year that you can't wear Beautiful, but I prefer it in early summer, when we have just enough heat to enhance its buttery, tropical heart. It's dressy enough for special occasions, but ladylike enough for everyday use. The next time you're near an Estee Lauder counter, check it out; Beautiful gives you a gorgeous excuse to stop and smell the rose(s).

07th June, 2017

Alahine by Téo Cabanel

Alahine is a lovely floral oriental with its emphasis leaning heavily on its ambery base, which billows up with pleasantly resinous sweetness from the moment it goes on. In addition, I get a slightly green, almost untamed, aldehydic rose (that reminds me just a little of Aromatics Elixir) plumped up when a little lemony jasmine joins in. And there's a gently diffused, not quite powdery orange blossom in the mix--a bit like Bal a Versailles' dainty, well-mannered young cousin. The notes listed in the pyramid also indicate lavender,which I do not smell, and ylang-ylang, which I do--banana-sweet with just a hint of the tropics as the perfume develops. Then the base kicks in, dusting all the florals in a relatively dense amber, and it all carries on like this for at least seven hours on my skin.

Charming, classical, and well-blended, Alahine is really a gem. It would make a great gift for a relatively young woman who is ready to move on from juvenilia, and it's also sweet enough to satisfy contemporary devotees of things like Black Opium. Subtle animalics in its base ensure that Alahine could be appropriate for a wider range of ages (I certainly don't feel self-conscious wearing it). If I wanted to get technical, I would point out Alahine's clever pink chypre structure--bergamot at the top, rose in the middle, rock rose (which produces both cistus and labdanum) in the base, and patchouli--and suggest that it gives the perfume a certain smartness, surrounded as it is with floriental cushions.

Perhaps best of all, Teo Cabanel offers Alahine in solid form, in addition to the regular EdP. The solid costs something like (an amazing) 30 dollars, and would make a terrific choice for tucking into a handbag, or a carry-on bag for light travelers. Seriously, what's not to like?
30th May, 2017

Roses Musk by Montale

Another Basenotes member said it best: this is the worst rose perfume I've ever smelled. It's actually painful to experience, with that jagged, crystalline, weapons-grade Montale musk delivering a sickeningly plasticine fake rose laced with poisonous sugary vanilla overtones and an indescribable chemical vibe that reminds me of cardboard car air freshers. I enjoy a lot of cheap, trashy floral perfumes, but Roses Musk lies beyond even my capacity for appreciation. Smelling it feels like inhaling glass shards while being pummeled with an endlessly looped Muzak version of Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" at deafening levels. If Montale had set out to do some kind of ironic, aggressive art project, then I might could say that they succeeded. But as a fragrance for someone's personal use--all I can say is that the prospect is terrifying.
11th May, 2017

Rhinoceros by Zoologist Perfumes

I figured Rhinoceros would be a rough ride, but geez--people are wearing this stuff?

I'm not shocked by the basic idea: it's a massive, smoky, terpey thing on top of a woody base, and (as we say in Texas) the woods is full of these. Rhinoceros stands out from the pack, because it piles on loads of pretty much every single note from today's modern "masculine" scents into a clashing accord of bitterness and chemical smoke, pushing the idea beyond conceit into parody--pine (and more pine), booze, artemesia (why call it "armoise" here? I don't understand. Zoologist is an American house, no?), cedar, smoke (oud, tobacco, and just straight-up "smoke"), plus leather and immortelle (presumably because it's 2017, dangit).

The result smells a lot like the odor that fills our kitchen when I overload our inexpensive blender with smoothie ingredients--scorched rubber and the threat of electrical fire, which I know are not bad things to some noses. Where I come from, people smell like this after a hard day on the job site--a scent that some of the hipster fellas out there might be after. If Absolue pour le Soir and Rien Intense Incense are too wussy for you, give Rhinoceros a try.

30th April, 2017

Natura Fabularis : 2 Violaceum by L'Artisan Parfumeur

L'Artisan's new(ish) Natura Fabularis ("nature mythology") series looks interesting to me, because anything new from this house looks interesting to me; but, to be honest, I also feel a little disappointed that this house has succumbed (once again, if you count the Explosions d'Emotions) to the temptation of putting out a more-expensive/higher tier line. When perfumes houses do that, it's hard to shake the suspicion that their other products may be getting less attention from the folks who hold the purse strings; and in L'Artisan's case, I really hope not. After all, this house has one of the best back catalogs in the business, with at least a dozen perfumes that literally smell like nothing else on earth, all of which also happen to be well-made and almost shockingly wearable. I would consider it criminal if the quality of any of those were to decline.

In the meantime, there's Violaceum. All the NF perfumes appear to be explorations of a single note; and, true to its name, Violaceum smells like violet--for a while. It starts off with some promise--the unmistakably peppery bite of violet leaf (does anyone know if watercress and violets have any sort of kinship? Just a thought) in a sort of dank, moist accord suggestive of dark fairy-tale forests. Then it shows a little bit of violet blossom proper, tamped down by a decent whack of iris. L'Artisan's blurb about Violaceum says something about the connection between food and perfume, and claims that Daphne Bugey includes a carrot-and-saffron accord along with the violets--but honestly, I just smell iris, which gets more diffused and chalky the way iris does. Also, ifthere's saffron in here, I can't smell it. The drydown smells both moist and dry, suggestive of the aroma freshly turned black soil. And that's it.

The violet part pretty much ends within the first 30 minutes (at least on my skin), leaving a kind of shadowy self in the iris materials. It's a nice enough scent--elegant, dark, and slightly suggestive of leather, sort of (inasmuch as iris reads as "leather" in perfume vernacular); but I'm not sure I understand why it needs to exist, exactly; and the perfume's somewhat desultory vibe doesn't really help much. What is it trying to do? As far as I can see, L'Artisan doesn't really have a straight-up violet fragrance in their book, which is why I was drawn to Violaceum. But it seems like the house kind of wasted a bullet here. L'Artisan's collection includes almost nothing that smells like anything else out there on the market, so why put out such a relatively pedestrian take on violets? There must be 40 or 50 perfumes out there in the world that offer some variation on the violet/leather idea, and very few of them have offered much improvement over Jolie Madame.

It's possible that L'Artisan could be aiming at something instructive concerning ionones, the scents of violets and iris. After all, ionones derive from carotenoids, the familiar orange pigments we all know from carrots, so a perfume presenting a spectrum of ionones from top to bottom, violet blossoms to carrot roots via iris, is a nice idea (although I have no idea how the saffron fits in); and it seems to fit with the mildly didactic vibe of the Latin names and laboratory-bling of the bottles. Still, if this is what's going on, it doesn't make the perfume itself any more interesting--it's still iris and violets and not much else. I suspect that the Natura Fabularis collection aims at pleasing the Jo Malone crowd, who seem all too willing to shell out ultra-premium prices for one-note perfumes with the mute button on. After all, the packaging looks exquisite and quite chic (and it has bees! I love bees), with mostly straightforward names for the compositions--clearly designed to need as little further explanation as possible.

If the brief asked for a simple, understated scent with some good talking points for the sales staff, then Violaceum succeeds; and if you might be looking for an earthy, nonfeminine violet, it's worth trying out; but it doesn't ring my particular bell. Maybe I'm missing something. Maybe I'm bummed because it's not trashy enough--I like my violets slutty, tarted up and tricked out with fruitier ionones along with the dry. And L'Artisan already offers a better, more distinctive take on ionones and saffron in its grievously underrated Skin on Skin, a perfume containing luxurious gobs of iris butter and loads of saffron, which seems to conjure sweet but not cloying phantom violets--a perfume as bizarre, and as gorgeous, as anything else in this house's formidable lineup.
30th April, 2017

Seyrig by Bruno Fazzolari

Dear Mr. Fazzolari--

I'm writing this review to beg you: please bring back Seyrig. I foolishly waited until today, April 26 2017, to finally get around to my sample. Then I fell head over heels in love with it. And then I discovered that Seyrig was a limited-quantity only production, and that there is no more to be had for love nor money. I shed actual tears over this--something that I have never done over a perfume before.

I love aldehydes, and I love ylang-ylang, and the combination of these in Seyrig is transcendent, somehow rich and buttery and light and fizzy all at the same time. Wearing Seyrig feels like being enveloped in a delicate mousse. There are only two other perfumes I know of that communicate a similar sensation--Chanel No 5 and Chanel No. 22, both famous perfumes known for their masterful treatment of aldehydes. Seyrig belongs in their company; it's that gorgeous.

Having experienced Seyrig, and having been left bereft and sleepless by the discovery that it's all gone, all I can do is write this passionate declaration of love, and beg for its return. (Well, that, and explore your other perfumes, of course, which I will be doing toute suite). I have sent you a message through your website, but I feel like going public might increase the chances that somehow, someway, I won't have to go through life without a substantial quantity of this gorgeous perfume. Please consider taking pity on an abject lady in Texas.

With my most sincere thanks,

thediamondsea

P.S. If there is anyone out there in the perfume universe who can bear to part with some of their Seyrig, please consider helping a sister in her time of need.

P.P.S. 5.12.2017
This review worked.

Mr. Fazzolari did, indeed find a bit more Seyrig in his vault, so I will now have one precious bottle in my possession--but I doubt that will be enough to see me through the end of my life, so I'll be happy to take more. And a couple of very nice people reached out to help. Thank you and much love to everyone who did! XxOo.
27th April, 2017 (last edited: 12th May, 2017)

Mandarine Glaciale by Atelier Cologne

Orange zest . . . and hairspray! I really like most of Atelier Cologne's photorealistic fruity scents, because they smell fresh and zingy and their citrus notes last longer than almost anything else out there. I think Orange Sanguine in particular is a brilliant snapshot of cold orange juice, pulp and juice and all. In Mandarine Glaciale, a strong note that suggests pure orange zest, complete with its bitterness and pungency intact, gets a bit lost underneath a wall of aldehydes that just won't quit. To my nose, the aldehydes exactly replicate some of the cheaper hairspray formulas I used to coat the inside of my bathroom walls back in the 1980s. So, the overall effect comes off a bit sticky and smothered, at least to me. But I suspect that personal experience may prejudice me in this case, so I won't engage in any further dissing of such a well-intentioned, unpretentious scent. Smell for yourself and decide--AC is nothing if not generous with their samples.
25th April, 2017

Ubar Woman by Amouage

Amouage Ubar Woman is a captial-F capital-O Floral Oriental perfume in the big, bad mold of Tuvache Jungle Gardenia and other witchy vintage-vamp tuberose-driven fantasy numbers with the dial set for Stun. I can't imagine how anyone could interpret this as a chypre--c'mon, seriously?--because this stuff is ballasted by a massive, powdery/opaque amber base that hails from somewhere in the Guerlain universe circa 1987; and, as I understand it, big flowers + amber base equals Floral Oriental. Chypres must include certain resins--specifically bergamot, laubdanum, and oakmosss--and they have to show some bone in their composition, because they're all about structure (if notes of citrus/balmy resin/patchouli by default made a something a chypre, then Poison is a chypre, and I don't think anyone wants to argue that. If you do, please PM me). Sorry for the didacticism--now that I've gotten that off my chest, I think my eye has stopped twitching. So, back to the perfume:

At the top of the note pyramid, Amouage lists a minor curiosity called Litsea Cubeba, which turns out to be an essential oil derived from a plant also known as May Chang, which Google tells me smells a lot like lemongrass. Knowing that helped me unlock some of the mystery of what I smell at the opening of Ubar, because it holds an undeniably yellow-green, aromatic freshness that keeps Ubar from collapsing into pastiche. It smells contemporary, if not exactly modern, and just-this-side of edible. The rest of the opening falls in line behind this note--facets of something sweetly orangey (the sharp part of the zest more than the fruit) and the leathery suggestion of violet leaf, mostly, and then something weird that happens to me every time I smell Ubar. I must be hallucinating, but I smell heliotrope--I suppose it's the downy, powdery texture of Ubar's base and something almondy generated from its vanilla or resins. But every time I first smell Ubar, I feel that achey, vague sense of longing that heliotropin usually triggers, and I have to screw my head back now and finish writing this.

The heart is all about the unfolding of Amouage's gorgeous floral materials; if you don't like florals, you're not going to like this--but if you do, I can't oversell how unbelievably beautiful these are--"buttery" doesn't begin to do justice to how they come together. There is tuberose, of course, but it's not the whole story. There's a powdery, vaguely beastly orange blossom that seems to have wandered in from Bal a Versaille. I have a personal weakness for ylang ylang, and Ubar does not disappoint; however, it never goes all banana split, sappy-sweet or one-dimensional: it's humid and a little dank, fluffed out by some seriously filthy jasmine. The bracing note of lily-of-the-valley sculpts those heady, warm-climate blossoms into a graceful swoop (and these notes do not always get along; I often think of Fracas as a catfight between chilly LOTV and hot-blooded tuberose, with jasmine and orange blossom in the middle trying to keep them from killing each other--lots of fun, in other words, but rowdy, loud and not conducive to relaxation) like a ballgown's skirt. With expensive, naughty lingerie underneath, naturally.

And the base--I've already held forth on the amber subject, but I feel obligated to point out how unified it feels with the rest of the perfume. It's a true amber, with a cold vanilla pudding sweetness to it; and, like the florals the amber isn't shapeless, since it's tamed by some tension with an aromatic patchouli and something that feels saline and a little depthless that may or may not be ambergris or a reasonable facsimile thereof. The effect of this amber/gris on the structure of the perfume is a sense of darkly glowing gradations of the same dense, rose gold color deepening toward the bottom, sort of like a Mark Rothko paining.

I feel like I've stretched my descriptive abilities to the limit here, but Ubar deserves my best efforts. It's everything I say it is, and a whole lot more besides. It has taken me over a year to even begin to understand what's going on with this perfume, and I'm delighted that it has rewarded me by yielding some of its secrets. I expect we're going to have a long and beautiful friendship . . . . If you haven't smelled Ubar yet, you need to; and if you smelled it once (or twice) and then dismissed it, you probably need to smell it again. This is one of the greats, and the folks at Amouage deserve love and support for keeping it in production and available to the rest of us. I'm not in any way equipped or qualified to nominate something for classic status--but still, Ubar is one. It makes me happy to be in the same world with something this beautiful.


04th April, 2017

Lilac Love by Amouage

I wrote the following review in March of 2017; however, in light of a newly acquired appreciation for "smart" fruitchoulis and other things with gourmand-ish patchouli bases, I have revisited Lilac Love, and revised my opinion. I'll update my review soon. Suffice it to say for now that I'm giving it an enthusiastic thumbs-up. I'll leave up the negative review for posterity, but know that I don't hold these opinions anymore.

I like the house of Amouage, and I love floral, powdery heliotrope-driven perfumes, but Lilac Love did not work for me. It has all the elements that I like in this style of perfume, but it also has some other qualities that drive me nuts. I smell a gardenia note that I recognize from Elie Saab Le Parfum that unfortunately resembles Raid roach spray (Raid has a weird, almost-perfumey quality) to my nose. The powder sensation Lilac Love gives goes above and beyond the usual powder bombs I enjoy: smelling it makes me feel like my nose has become stopped up and numb at the same time (if you have ever gone near certain recreational substances, you'll know what I mean). And all of this seems piled on a laundry musk that feels out of place in a big floral perfume of this kind. So that's it for me--insecticide, cocaine, and dryer sheets all crammed onto the powdery, almondy coziness of Lorenzo Villoresi's Teint de Neige, only with Amouage-quality power and tenacity--in other words, sort of like a bad acid trip that will not end.
28th March, 2017 (last edited: 05th July, 2017)

Iris Tubéreuse by Creed

Creed does a kinder, gentler Fracas (the same tuberose/orange blossom/white florals with lily-of-the-valley mèlange), with a hint of iris (not orris butter), some greenery, and a touch of aquatic freshness to the top, with that distinctive Creedbergris in the base for a little minerality and salinity. This should be great in hot weather, when Mama Fracas can be too much. Purists may wonder what the point is, seeing as Fracas already exists; I say the point is to smell good, and this does. Mine came in a swap, but I can see that there's a lot of this circulating around the discounters' websites--and less than 100 bucks for 100 mls makes Iris Tubèreuse a bargain in my eyes.
10th March, 2017

Ambre Gris by Pierre Balmain

I'm absolutely aware of all the limitations of Ambre Gris--obviously synthetic, overly radiant, misleading name, just kind of weird and Aromachemical City. But (to cop a phrase from Tania Sanchez) the problem is, I like it. I didn't at first, but repeat exposure (after I donated my sample to the mister) drew me in and got me hooked.

By all rights, this state of affairs should have never come about. I'm almost entirely intolerant of straight amber perfumes, unless they are very dry and not very amber-ish (see Farmacia Ss Annunziata's fabulously powdery Ambra Nera), or they are supporting florals (see half my collection). I think my problem with amber arises from the marriage of vanilla with all those resins, because I enjoy resins immensely, and I don't hate vanilla, although it typically kind of bores me--whatever it is, I've had trouble with amber since childhood and early exposure to Shalimar. I'm also not terribly fond of the cinnamon-driven spice potpourri found in much of Diptyque's stuff--I find these perfumes too kitcheny to really enjoy putting on my skin--and this perfume does involve cinnamon.

Still, Ambre Gris is primarily an amber perfume, sort of--it smells like sweet(ish) resins (it also nods in the direction of ambergris, playing to the ambiguity of its name, to which I will return in a moment). Per the notes I see, it appears vanilla-free. Its cinnamon notes are subtle, just enough to add a vague aura of warmth. I honestly get about zero tuberose from this--and as a stone Tuberose Queen, I wish I did; although sometimes I catch something sort of camphoracious that *could* maybe be tuberose, less the bubblegum facets that one usually finds in inexpensive perfumes like this one. As for the rest, I get myrrh (always welcome in my world), traces of wood, and a bit of benzoin (almost certainly synthetic, but it still lends a friendly, almost sensual vibe). A backdrop of cold stone and a whiff of clean pine most likely indicate Cashmeran and Iso-E Super.

But really, everything is in service to the main event--a massive dose of Ambroxan, an aromachemical that can be sort of pleasantly diffuse when used with a light hand and murderously vile when sprayed heavily. As I understand it, Ambroxan is also one of the perfumer's go-to synthetics when one wishes to simulate, to some degree, a sense of ambergris when the real thing is unavailable. Still, at its best, as Elena Vosnaki over at Perfume Shrine says, Ambrox smells inviting and non-perfumey; here, it goes beyond inviting into the realms of, I daresay, sexiness--not animalic-sexy, but "welcoming aura around this person" kind of sexy. And "move closer so you can get a better whiff" sexy.

I think this sexiness derives from the fact that Ambrox can give perfumes the strange property of smelling stronger at a distance than close up, Typically, this annoys me; it takes all the pleasure out of delicate notes and lovely florals, scattering their scent into millions of little bits, so that I feel like I'm constantly straining to smell what I'm wearing, and can't quite assimilate what I can smell into a pleasing whole; I'm sure someone at 2-5 feet away might be getting the entire story, but as the wearer I don't see the point. Ambre Gris has that same diffuse quality, but it uses spices and resins instead of flowers with the Ambrox base, and the result gives off a lovely vibe that reminds me of that delicious waft you get when you first open the kitchen spice cabinet--without (not to belabor the point) smelling like food.

Also, Ambre Gris doesn't require its Ambrox to carry a complex structure (unlike, say, Juliette Has a Gun's Lady Vengeance, wherein a rose chypre accord is blown to pieces, robbing it of a chypre's structural coherence and complexity. (I know you could say that's deconstruction or whatever--I still think it's not for me)). Its composition is simple enough that there's no harm done if you catch only fragments of it in the air. And here is where the sexiness comes in, because those fragments are comprised of the lovely myrrh/benzoin duo, rendered just elusive enough that they ask whomever catches their scent to lean closer. Or, if you're wearing it, it's like walking in an airy suspension of gentle incense notes combined with the best bits of salted caramel and a touch of antique dresser drawer. The sense of spaciousness obviates the cloying quality that sweet notes can take on and the clunkiness that wooden notes can emanate. It also prevents the usual boredom that those notes can engender, at least for me. I don't need to smell Ambre Gris top-to-tail to enjoy it.

As I said earlier, I know this stuff isn't perfect. Its opening can be a bit harsh and sometimes smells a little too much like industrial product. With its simple structure and powerful components, its faults magnify easily; overspray Ambre Gris even just a little, and the cold-concrete scent of Cashmeran emerges like a Stalin-era apartment block in the middle of your groovy little post-modern futuristic head shop of a perfume. There's not much development once the opening notes dissipate. And, as pleasant as the main accord is, there's no denying the artificial nature of its components.

And it lasts. And lasts. Ambre Gris is very tenacious; in fact, it is really more enjoyable on the second day, after the aromachems have lost some of their aggressive punch. It works particularly well caught on sweaters and scarves. It also makes a remarkably nice layering scent, adding a gauzy curtain of warmth that can turn a daytime scent into something nice for evenings. It is particularly pleasant to smell on someone else. I sometimes sneak a spritz onto my husband's favorite black cashmere sweater, because I enjoy how the drydown smells when he comes back home from work. (Really, I think Balmain did themselves a disservice in its gender designation, because Ambre Gris smells fantastic on men).

Sutible for any setting, any weather (I can wear this outside in Texas summer on the days when I can't face another white floral) and easily available for less than 40 bucks, this perfume is worth a sniff if you haven't tried it yet. And the bottle is nice enough to make an appropriate gift. If you're considering shelling out over 100 dollars for Molecule 2 or Not a Perfume, or a lot more than that not Baccarat Rouge, spend a little time with this first.


09th March, 2017 (last edited: 03rd February, 2018)

Noir Epices by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Wow--this is not what I expected. At all. By title and by reputation, I thought Noir Epices would be like some sort of variation of Opium, and therefore beyond my personal scope of wearability. Or one of those harsh, hyper-potpourried Diptyque compositions. Or at least like something that might have escaped from the foodier side of the Serge Lutens catalogue.

Nothing doing. Noir Epices is almost completely citrus-driven; and what a citrus it is, like those tiny squirts of oil that get on your fingers as you zest an orange. Or even those orange oil solvent cleaners--the scent of those makes my tongue go kinda numb, which also happens to me in the opening stages of of this perfume, before the underlying spices kick into gear.

Of course there are florals in here, too--a rose gradually emerges, which exerts a civilizing influence on the orange zest; and then a pleasantly peppery geranium follows. I like the way the geranium's pepper compliments the note of black peppercorn that emerges in the perfume's heart; it's clever, but not too matchy-matchy. Together, the rose and geranium put the some stuffing in an otherwise fairly stark orange spice accord.

As the perfume evolves, a subtle clove adds a slightly rich but dry touch to the florals. In its intersection of rose, orange and clove, this stage in Noir Épices' development evokes Chanel Coco, especially the EdT, albeit minus Coco's incense. Nutmeg emerges hereabouts--another clever addition, as it has a similar anasthetic quality to orange zest. The cumulative effect suggests sweetness without actually *being* sweet--quite a virtue, to this generally amber-averse reviewer

The base of Noir Epices is particularly distinguished by what it doesn't have, as Roudnitska fils resisted any temptations he may have felt to ballast the perfume with vanilla or resins. Instead, there's a dry, spicy, woody patchouli that calls to mind Elixir des Merveilles--especially since it's underneath that big, zesty orange accord. Noir Epices' orange is fresher and less candied than Elixir's, but there's a family resemblance between the two that made me feel instantly at home with Noir Epices.

So I certainly didn't expect to fall in love with Noir Epices, but that's what happened. It feels like a less demanding relative of two of my all-time favorite perfumes--a sort of Coco Eau Premiere grafted onto Elixir des Merveilles's roots, which should be quite congenial in warmer weather, particularly on those summer evenings when citrus sounds good but cologne feels too casual.
05th March, 2017

Prada Candy by Prada

Prada Candy is a lighthearted, stupid/clever tribute to benzoin that's exactly calibrated to the point of of maximum resinousness. Sure, it's sweet, but it's not any sweeter than, say, Shalimar, or most Guerlains, to be honest. It's not the least bit edgy, but its emphasis on one of the geekiest notes in perfumery is borderline subversive. There's no fake strawberry or confected "patchouli," and the alleged caramel notes don't smell gooey. And there's no distracting vanilla. Do the little girls that buy this know (or care)? Even the citrus/floral combo at Candy's opening is restrained; it feels, almost, kind of, elegant. It gives the early stages of the perfume a nice lift before it integrates quite gracefully into the composition, so that (despite its name) Candy smells like perfume and never turns too foody.

This stuff has a way of melting into skin and then just sort of emanating a kind of gentle softness, almost like the texture of a musk--you smell sweet, resinous skin rather than sweet, resinous aromachemicals. Sillage is discreet, which is right where it should be; this stuff could get painful at higher volumes (benzoin-triggered headaches are the *worst*--for me, they always involve nausea). And this stuff lasts, and lasts, and lasts; I have no idea what some other reviewers are talking about when they complain about its disappearing from skin. It has be olfactory fatigue, because I can still smell it at eight-plus hours.

My only complaint about Candy is a slightly plastic musk that occasionally pokes through in the middle stages of wear. But that bit of weirdness comes and goes, and eventually resolves in a drydown that restates the original resinous theme, garnished with a touch of something powdery that almost feels like iris. Here as elsewhere (i.e., Infusion d'Iris and its cogeners), Prada's house perfumer Daniela Andrier demonstrates her facility with popular-but-interesting, fun-but-tasteful perfumes that any woman could wear pretty much anywhere and smell good without scaring the horses.

So, overall, Candy came as a pleasant surprise. It's not complicated, but there's more to it than meets the eye, or the nose--whatever. It reminds me of Marilyn Monroe (with those ridiculous glasses) in How to Marry a Millionaire--all wide eyes, blonde curls, bodacious curves, and wicked timing--with her quirky intelligence simmering under the ditzy surface.

And I think the enameled bottle is kind of cute.
04th March, 2017

Amour Liquide by Memoire Liquide

A very kind swapper sent me a bottle of Amour Liquide as a (completely unexpected) gift. I guess she didn't know about my "no gourmands" policy, which is probably more draconian than absolutely necessary. But I am a hardhearted bastard when it comes to these kinds of scents. Even Indult's Tihota, which is worshipped by many people whose taste I admire--even Tihota did not reach my innermost being and fill me with joy, passion, or curiousity--and a perfume should push one of those buttons for me to consider smelling it again.

Then there's the fact that I wore the snot out of every vanilla-scented bath and body product that I could get my hands on back in the mid-90s. My boyfriend at the time, a rather butch Irish fellow with a near-impenetrable accent, complained that he couldn't go out in public after showering at my place: "Jaysus, woman, I smell like a fekkin dessert shop!" (whatever a "dessert shop" is). At the time, I thought that his complaints came from sheer machismo, and that he was afraid of the crap he would catch when he went for his pints at the Shannon Arms. Now that my vanilla fetish is two decades in the past, I kind of see his point.

But I do enjoy vanilla as a thing in itself. It's a scent that's both comforting and sophisticated. It moves in the world's of both children and adults. (Nothing (legal) makes me happier than a well-made crème brûlée). And there are social situations where I probably shouldn't show up smelling like dirty knickers or burnt offerings to the goddess Isis. So I'm glad I have this, even if I never would have chosen it for myself: it smells warm and approachable but not too mumsy or clinical. It's a very nice vanilla scent with no off notes or weirdness to interrupt it or distract you.

As for the details--I don't know what's up with the "black orchid" thing on the top Amour Liquide's note pyramid. I know it's a popular fantasy note, but--unlike, say, amber--I have no idea what it's supposed to smell like. There *is* a flourish of something sort of floral in the opening, but it's gone within a few seconds. Perhaps that's the black orchid note? (It smells nothing like the Tom Ford Black Orchid, thank Christ). Afterwards, an accord of meringue-like vanilla with a touch of toast emerges--nothing not to like there. No weird musks, no nasty cotton candy.

This vanilla never gets airborne like Tihota (which can be smelled in the next zip code); it hangs fairly close to the body, which makes it suitable for closer quarters. But Amour Liquide does share some of Tihota's buttery facets. Its vanilla smells reasonably rich, but not too heavy or claggy. It also never turns full-on toasted marshmallow like Tihota does--whether that appeals or not is up to you, but I'm okay with that, since Tihota has been known to cause ice cream binges in my house.

As the perfume dries down, it turns darker and drier, but it doesn't flatten out. I think the incense claimed in the note pyramid may be responsible for this drying effect. I never get a straight-up incense from this, even at the end; it's more like those vanilla-scented incense sticks that you can buy from the local street vendor, fading to a whisper of straight-up Nag Champa with a vanilla chaser (maybe the "black orchid" is Nag Champa . . . that would be nice, but I don't think it's the case). In the late drydown, I get whiffs of something like vanilla tobacco--maybe from the darker facets of tonka bean.
And I believe there's a satisfying soupçon of benzoin in the mix--it's the last thing I smell, so it's probably the fixative herein.

This perfume's presence is unmistakable, but its sillage is fairly modest: you know you're wearing it, and you'll send out little wafts of vanilla around you; but this perfume is more about your personal space, a nice thing in a scent that's really all about comforting the wearer. It lasts a respectable 8(ish) hours in my skin, or maybe a little longer, becoming a skin scent after the first couple of hours.

Amour Liquide is absolutely suitable for anyone of any gender, although the more macho fellas have to get over the pinkish girly packaging that looks like something you'd find at Anthropologie in the early 2000s. You won't get any curveballs during Amor Liquide's life on your skin, but its predictability is part of its charm--this is vanilla, people; it's not supposed to rock the boat. Its smooth transitions and generally cheerful-but-not-ditzy demeanor make this a perfume that I'm now loathe to part with, even if it's not my official bag. And all this for under 30 bucks from the discounters is enough to melt my hardened heart, a little. Maybe that nice swapper knew me better than I know myself.
22nd February, 2017

Tubéreuse 3 L'Animale by Histoires de Parfums

The fellas are wearing tuberose! Huzzah!

Look at those notes: you got tuberose on the top, tuberose on the bottom, and tuberose up the middle. This is my kind of juice. Add in neroli, a very ripe plum, some jasmine, hay and tobacco and you've got a (sort of) Poison pour Homme.

Although it's not as manly as all that. This is a plump, bodacious perfume capable of pleasing the most diehard lovers of the flower (i.e., me) and bringing aboard folks who might normally find this flower too strident, especially when it's in the company of its usual white-floral partners in crime like orange blossom and lily-of-the-valley. None of that here--instead, it has a big, bright heart, made more so by beautiful, mouthwatering citrus (there really should be more kumquat notes in perfume) and neroli. That heart pulses with the aforementioned tuberose/jasmine/plum trio, singing in harmony like a gospel choir on Sunday--loud, joyous, and full of soul.

I think I recognize hay absolute in here, although it's so smoothly blended that it's hard to pick out--except for the first time I tried this, when it came off as a little hissy and hairsprayish (which hay absolute can sometimes do). The hay has behaved itself since then, modulating into a
the darker tobacco-tinged manner of Chergui--but this tobacco has a slight acidity that reminds me of good cigars. Married to dark woody notes like my grandparents' old mahogany furniture, this unusually beautiful base rounds off this perfume with a satisfying depth charge that rattles the windows and sets off the splendid dregs of the tuberose beautifully.

A resinous, mellow labdanum, wrapped in equally mellow maple-syrup sweetness of immortelle, sings like a cello in the drydown. It's a stunning interpretation of the usual woody amber, making a virtue of necessity to complete the profile of a classic floriental. As the drydown continues, it shows notes of aged leather, almost as if the formerly fresh tuberose petals are transforming into animalic skins before your eyes (or nose, as it were).

This perfume comes without the usual Histoire conceits; no particular date is affixed to the name and no historical figure referenced. But if I may be so bold, I'd like to make a nomination, for 1972 - Brian Eno. 72 was the year of Roxy Music's first appearance on Top of the Pops in all their trainwrecked glory. And there was Eno, fully formed, all hollow cheekbones, yellow hair past his skinny shoulders, torso crowned with pheasant feathers, wearing more makeup than Dolly Parton and Karen Black put together. He looked outrageous, and people loved him for it, especially when he opened his mouth and sounded like the cybernetics geek he was. The girls went nuts. This is a perfume for the men who know that it's impossibly sexy to subvert the cliches of traditional masculinity. And it's also for the women that love them.
05th February, 2017

Sådanne by Slumberhouse

It's interesting to smell something from Slumberhouse that isn't steeped in tobacco, booze, hay, goat fur or the like. Sadanne is absolutely on the other side of the planet from all Josh Lobb's other released work--on the sunny side of the planet, as it turns out. This is literally a perfume filled with sweetness and light.

It opens on an intensely sweet note that smells like ethyl maltol twinned with a sharp, equally sweet strawberry that anyone who has ever eaten Jelly Bellies should recognize. This strawberry is limned with an aromatic but highly constructed rose that reminds me of a lip gloss I used as a kid. In fact, the whole composition at this stage puts me in mind of the intensely girly scented products aimed at preteens--Bonne Bell Lipsmackers, strawberry scented markers, scratch-n-sniff fruit stickers--a whole late 1970s/early 1980s Virgin Suicides world of fruity pink stuff.

The central accord swells into something like an intense, diffused version of a Serge Lutens/Keiko Mecheri loukhoum perfume, minus the powder--all sugar and candied roses, with the aforementioned strawberry turning darker to smell more like cherry. At times it almost reaches a screech, but it never quite does, thank goodness. It remains intensely sweet, but its sweetness seems balanced by the tart acidity of the fruit. This phase of the perfume holds until the rose comes more to the fore.

As the rose emerges, I smell something that I guess you could call animalic. It may be a facet of the sweetness--the way honey smells animalic, especially in perfume, although I would never call it urinous. As the perfume further develops, I also pick up a little something that may or may not be a fruity patchouli that reminds me of the current iteration of Miss Dior. My perception of this note may be entirely suggestive, since all the other fruitchouli elements are here, but I know i smell it.

As the perfume enters drydown, about 3 hours in, it takes on also a kind of ambiguous salinity. This reminds me of Creed's ambergris and the way it's deployed in their floral perfumes: it adds a sense of minerality (if you've ever smelled limestone gravel you'll know what I mean here) and a kind of depthlessness; and it breaks up what could otherwise be an ordinary musk. At this stage of the perfume, the sweetness fades (somewhat), the fruitiness dies down, and everything finally merges with the rose, and that's where it stays for the rest of its life--which is quite long, at least eight hours on my perfume-dissolving skin.

Unlike some other reviewers, I don't need to do any mental gymnastics to convince myself that it's okay for me to like this: I wear loud, sweet, vulgar perfumes all the time. Animalic florals are my wheelhouse. Wearing this does remind me of that time in college I spilled a blender of frozen strawberry daiquiri all over my shirt, and that's really my only gripe--it may be a little too gourmand for me. But this rose in the drydown really is something; it smells like the best part of the aforementioned loukhoum perfumes, only isolated, and that's something I could go for on a regular basis.

And there's something addictive in here that reminds me of the way I respond to Angel. In both cases, the contrast between sweet and earthy elements gets my motor running. Don't get me wrong; Sadanne does not smell like Angel (although the opening sweetness hits about the same number on the Richter scale): it's an altogether smoother ride, lacking Angel's lacquered surface and brittle textures. But it has some of the same smart/dumb appeal. I suspect I would reach for this frequently as the weather warms up: it will probably hit on the same cylinders as a glass of strawberry lemonade. And, now, excuse me--all this early adolescent flashback stuff is getting to me. I'm off to read Ursula K. Leguin and listen to some Blondie.
05th February, 2017