Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Funwithfrags

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Total Reviews: 116

Bel Canto by Galimard

Smelled good on the testing strip, and indeed there's little wrong with the concept. The somewhat dry woody effect of rosewood is pleasing on the skin, but I find Bel Canto wanting in performance and structure once applied. The overall scent is reminiscent of something that Boss might put out. It doesn't smell bad by any means, but does not come with a recommendation and is a little lucky to avoid a negative rating. Not sure if natural materials have contributed to the performance issues here - also not sure that would be an excuse. At the present time Bel Canto is only available in EDP concentration.
14th April, 2017

Rive Gauche pour Homme by Yves Saint Laurent

In the UK, Boots (formerly "Boots The Chemist") still has a decent loyalty system, and I have managed to earn enough points for a bottle of something a year for the last two years. Last year it was Eisenberg's J'Ose, which remains unopened while I decide what to do with it. (Boots have stopped stocking the Eisenberg lines now; sheer lack of interest, I suppose.) This year, though, it was Rive Gauche I chose (RG for free!), and this is a different story - no chance this is remaining unused.

Rive Gauche is first and foremost a fougere, but it's not an obvious one. It's masculine, but not in-your-face masculine. The usual adjectives applied to RG are all relevant, I think: dark, creamy, a little powdery - and all done in a very sophisticated way. It is interesting above all to read many of the descriptions here discussing RG as "sweet"; Turin in The Guide describes it as "completely devoid of sweetness". I wouldn't want to come down on one side or another at this stage, and without coming on over-dramatic, it has started to make me question my conception of what "sweetness" can be; there's certainly a spicyness here, although whether it's sweet is a moot point. RG lacks the usual ingredients that make the fougere sometimes notorious (perhaps musk, assertive florals, fir balsam among them) and the result is something a little more austere than what you might normally think of as scents in this genre.

Incidentally, RG is a good staging point on the path to understanding Or Black. If you have the choice, try RG first. I will not dare to review Or Black until I've had rather more experience with it.

In the meantime, RG gets a FWF recommendation. It's good for casual and formal wear; it's the one-time jock turned company director who attends the high school reunion and makes jaws drop with his new-found worldly ways. All in all good stuff and completely deserving of its reputation.

Incidentally, this is obviously the new, square bottle version. Excellent, high quality sprayer, with four sprays enough for the day.
17th March, 2017

David Beckham Beyond by Beckham

Poor, generic, redolent of Sauvage. Haven't we suffered enough?
11th March, 2017
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Uomo by Valentino

I'm willing to give most things by Olivier Polge a chance, but there is not much to get excited by here. Sure, it has some things going for it. It's certainly an accessible and palatable take on the gourmand. Personally, though, I don't find it up to muster.

To start with, it is extremely linear. After some thought, I managed to place the familiar accords: the cocoa and pastry-type scents are the final stage of L'Instant de Guerlain. But VU completely lacks the journey that LIDG takes you on to get there - little citrus, no jasmin, none of that wonderful set of transitions.

Another obvious comparison is with the Dior Homme family. Again, although I am no fan of the regular Dior Homme, VU lacks the challenging iris component of the Diors. I feel it also suffers by comparison with them in terms of performance.

Put simply, if I was in the market for an accessible gourmand, I would look elsewhere. There are better choices at all price points. And when I say better, that's not to underestimate the warming and comforting qualities that VU undoubtedly has and which has clearly earned it a following. All I mean to say is that for the same price (LIDG, Dior) or an additional investment (Frapin's 1270, New Haarlem) you can obtain something edgier and more interesting; if you really must go this safe it's possible to save some money.

Assuming there is at least an element in perfume purchases of expressing an identity or subjectivity: that bottle is far too bling for my tastes.
19th February, 2017

Aramis Black by Aramis

Not redolent of Aramis, nor particularly black - more like the ur-Sauvage. Thin, chemically - what really does it hope to achieve?
18th February, 2017

Sable Marocain / Morocco Sand by Phaedon

Redolent of Dior Homme, but delivered in such broad brush strokes that it remains somehow unsatisfying. Better in small doses. Redolent also of its housemate, Tabac Rouge, but not as good as that.
18th February, 2017

Boss Bottled by Hugo Boss

Here's a choice: you could find a heavily-populated place, run up to passers-by and shout loudly in their ear, "I am wearing a mass-marketed designer fragrance!" Or, you could simply wear Boss Bottled.

It is in no way unpleasant, and the theme is good - hard fruits, vanilla, and something approaching woods - but executed with rather little art. It came close to a positive review, so I would in no way rule it out of court, but it shouts mainstream.
11th February, 2017

L'Art et la Matière : Tonka Impériale by Guerlain

Having been to the House of Fraser Manchester's Guerlain launch event of L'Art et la Matiere, I learnt that the points of departure for this exclusive line were to pay homage to the Guerlain classics, but in an almost "inverted" way, and to use a small number of the highest quality ingredients across the range. Well, in the respect of putting into practice a concept, I think Guerlain have got this spot on: the fragrances as a body index many of the classic Guerlains, but in original and provoking ways. It is hard to find common olfactory themes therein, but no matter: the vision is clear, as it the quality of the raw ingredients.

It's hard without further testing to say I prefer this that or the other of the line, but one thing is for sure: Tonka Imperiale is up there among the best. It is listed as a unisex, and I can imagine this working in the right attire and in certain surroundings, but let's face it: this is largely for the ladies. The gourmand aspects are to the fore in TI, and as you would expect, the voluptuous vanillic and biscuity accords are highlighted. However, there is also an incense note that adds a slight edge of smoky austerity. I struggle to detect any tobacco on skin, although this was more evident in testing in other media - perhaps a shame, as this probably rules me out of the market for it personally.

But beyond that, a definite modern classic and surely something that would suit the majority of women. I'm now the proud owner of a 5ml decant thanks to the kind people at HoF, and my concern is now how best to use it.
10th February, 2017

Strand by Anglia Perfumery

Depressingly unoriginal cologne type scent with extremely poor performance and a chemical genealogy.
07th February, 2017

Bel Ami Vetiver by Hermès

By all accounts, Jean-Claude Ellena has pulled off a very simple trick in designing Bel Ami Vetiver. In an attempt to update the original Bel Ami to give it a more contemporary feel, the patchouli base note is replaced with the eponymous vetiver wood. As far as I am concerned, it works like a dream. There is the same glow of a small handful of notes brought together with care and craft. In actual fact BAV doesn't develop much and has at best average performance - those things we normally look for as criteria in judging a fragrance - but for me it's a bit like Puskas' left foot. When the one trick it pulls is this good, you don't end up wishing for anything else. Leather, smoky vetiver, and a touch of citrus in one elegant, understated, and highly sophisticated package. In my book, this has got all the makings of a modern classic. Now, I wonder how Guerlain feel about putting some vetiver in L'Instant pour homme?
02nd February, 2017

Bel Ami by Hermès

A famous rendition of the patchouli and leather riff that I am fond of - perhaps the most famous. Bel Ami distinguishes itself by being dry in tone, and although incorporating minimal spicy and fresh notes, manages to showcase the leather in a non-aggressive manner, while remaining unremittingly masculine. The impression I get from Bel Ami is that it's all about a few good quality accords put together sympathetically and without ostentation: a bit like a simply-cooked meal with the best ingredients; you don't need to do too much with them. I also find it flattering to wear, and it would be terrific paired with any kind of formal attire. I don't find it to have potent performance, but somehow it's not a problem. Another point is that the best of it, for me, comes well into the drydown. Its continued popularity is no mystery.
02nd February, 2017

Sportissimo by Galimard

Opens with a strong element of artemisia, with an all-too-brief but pleasant blast of mint. The other listed notes make an appearance but overall this is about the astringency of the artemesia and the sweetness of the musk. Not bad, unexceptional, one of those fragrances meant to gain attention in the pub after your game of tennis or whatever. In fact, now I think of it, the orange blossom, musk and sandalwood combo is very redolent of Joop. Not something I will ever use again but the EDT bottle is handsome and I can't help concluding that the Galimard range has more natural components than many other alternatives in the price range, so a neutral rating it is.
22nd January, 2017

Leather Oud by Christian Dior

Being number 16 in a series of 16 reviews on critically acclaimed and noteworthy scents.

Applied at first with great caution, and thereafter with growing confidence. This is largely because, having tried it, I quickly came to understand LO as a type of leather scent with "oud" as a supporting character. This is perhaps an observation on the naming of scents, as the convention in English is to have the noun following the adjectives; thus here, one would understand this to be a "leathery oud", rather than what I think it is, which is an oudy leather. (I do get the feeling that the use of ingredients or notes in names is often simply meant to signify that they are present, and less often to signify a type or genre.)

So in this case, I would say something like Or Black would be a better comparison than a Western oud-driven scent. This is just as well for me, as the oud, which I nearly always find to be too cloying and invasive for my tastes, is blended extremely well here and contributes to the dry earthiness of the other accords. I would concur that the later stages of LO tend to the animalistic, but acceptably so and never unpleasant to my nose. It tends to bring out the woody rather than cloying aspects of oud.

Although I cannot say that I would immediately be in the market for LO, it is a genuinely exciting creative achievement in the way that it can be so agreeable and yet so uncompromising. All in all, I would recommend to leather lovers; also, that they should apply with restraint at first, but that it might reward heavier application if you get on with it. Family reactions: taken-aback rather than repulsed. Another win for the blending of the Dior privee lines. Now to try the Floris namesake - perhaps an A/B test would be appropriate?
15th January, 2017
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Aventure by Galimard

Well, no sooner did I review Tom Ford's Grey Vetiver, than my Galimard sample order turns up and a quick sampling on paper reveals something identical: Aventure. This justified a wearing the next day.

Straining the nostrils, on card the Galimard was a little stronger and sweeter, perhaps more natural smelling. On skin, though, the difference is clear - there is far less vetiver here and much more citrus. The comparison with Terre D'Hermes is also apt, although Aventure is more low-key, certainly for an EDP, and as natural-smelling as you might expect something straight out of Grasse to be.

Aventure is also somewhat cheaper than the other two, so perhaps a good option to be a little different with. It reminds me of something between Grey Vetiver and a Trumper-style British eah de cologne. To be honest, it's nothing new and I'm sure some would have this down as "pointless", but it's reasonable in price and really rather pleasant, and it certainly shapes up to be the best of my masculine Galimard samples, so thumbs up for now.
10th January, 2017

Grey Vetiver Eau de Toilette by Tom Ford

Touted as the version of Grey Vetiver that is citrus-forward and fresher than the EDP, it certainly achieves this. GVEDT wears ight and never loses a refreshing, hesperidic edge. THe vetiver is of the grassy variety, slightly soapy, and I have to say somewhat of the artificial in tone. However for all this I would suggest the EDT as a good fragrance for those who don't like vetiver - it's just that accessible.

Some obvious comparisons are Guerlain's Vetiver (the TF being less rigid and without the tobacco note at the core), and Terre D'Hermes (TF being less metallic and chemically than that)m as well as - particularly at the beginning - Eau Sauvage. This is good company and it's not for nothing that GV has been described as an ideal work scent. It does not have great projection but consistent low-key presence and is subtly masculine, clean, and hardly likely to offend. Where many of the Tom Fords recall Guerlain and the Parisian style, this is more of a Grasse-type scent. It would, I imagine, be hard to over-apply.
09th January, 2017

Private Label by Jovoy

Being number 15 in a series of 16 reviews on critically acclaimed and noteworthy scents.

Private Label opens with an accord of what comes across as blackcurrant, incense and/or resin, and very dry woods, which might be a result of the vetiver or "papyrus". At this stage, it is nothing special and even somewhat medicinal. Once the heart notes are revealed, though, things pick up discernibly. There is a much better balance of the sweet and dry, with patchouli and leather coming to the fore and begging comparisons with the great Hermes leathers.

Unfortunately, the final act once ahain becomes medicinal and somewhat "meh". The overwhelming impression at this stage is of the somewhat dry sourness that a leather patchouli can reduce to. For those that like comparisons with their reviews, the fragrances that come to mind are Arso, Bottega Veneta, and Je Suis Un Homme. In fact, I'd rather go with any of those rather than Private Label, which suggests that, if this is niche, it's liable to stay niche. A fragrance for tryers rather than buyers.
09th January, 2017

L'Homme Idéal by Guerlain

There's little point getting into the debate of whether this is or isn't a worthy addition to the Guerlain stable; the fact is that it is the latest general release for men and we have to re-imagine the house every time something new comes out.

I'm not a fan of Amaretto in general, but L'Homme Ideal betrays its boozy almost aspects at all points of development, and does so in a way that I find pleasant and accessible, but certainly in a linear way. The overall effect is one of orange blossom, almond, and some generic woods and vanilla. Leather and vetiver, both listed, are notable by absence, although there is a spicy accord somewhat redolent of leather treating substances.

In all, L'Homme Ideal is not done to the same standard as L'Instant but is probably a timely new effort (L'Instant, remember, dates to 2004) at bringing Guerlain to a new, yournger audience. Sufficiently sturdy to be a masculine, with a little of the Guerlain opulence; pleasant enough to be better than wearing nothing; L'Homme Ideal therefore does just enough to earn a positive rating.
03rd January, 2017

Kenzo pour Homme Boisée / Woody by Kenzo

Boisee starts off with that mojito accord of mint and lime that we're always reading about - the difference here being that Boisee actually does smell like something in the region of a mojito, and rather well done and pleasant too. The heart notes are where the herbal character of the scent comes through, though, characterised by rosemary, and possibly other garden herbs too, certainly sage. Finally, Boisee reveals the eponymous woods, not least a good rendition of vetiver. The components are sound, then, but they don't completely come together. Much as I like Oliver Polge's work, I can't profess to really admire this one right now, so I will give a neutral rating and the promise to come back to it in the summer, when its combination of accords might render it more refreshing, suitable, and coherent.
01st January, 2017

Tom of Finland by Etat Libre d'Orange

In keeping with the rest of the "coniferous bliss" pack provided to me by Bloom, Tom of Finland opens with some excellent and refreshing light and "outdoors" notes: in this case, light citrus, a bit of pepper, and most of all a "stripped bark" accord that is attributable to the birch and pine woods. There have been some excellent scents in this six-pack of samples, but none have had an opening that surpassed ToF, so expectations of the remainder of the scent were high. It really did evoke the impression of being on a demanding hike in the Scandinavian countryside in the springtime.

But what's this? Into the fray appears a hen party, clearly having taken a wrong turn somewhere, fully made up and not appropriately attired for the terrain. One of them is carrying an inflatable sperm whale. The smell of iris and suede suddenly invades the surroundings. This is the baffling turn taken by ToF: from coniferous masculine to Dior Homme-esque androgeny in one easy but jarring step.

The final act adds some vanilla, musk, and amber to the iris, for a soft but decidedly feminine effect. At this stage, it's not bad at all, really rather pleasant - but I would rather smell it on a woman than wear it myself. So overall, as a scent it's not bad, but I would enjoy it more if I didn't feel that I was the butt of an in-joke about non-binarism, or something like that.
01st January, 2017

L'Air du Desert Marocain by Tauer

Being number 14 in a series of 16 reviews on critically acclaimed and noteworthy scents.

Opens with - for me - no sign of any citrus or petitgrain, but rather betrays its origins and genre as an incense fragrance with a resinous accord. Continuing the theme in my personal testing of rarely experiencing all or indeed most of the listed notes (and, I think, after some practice, this is due more to the notes not being there in discernible form rather than my own neophyte status), I do not detect any florals, but rather a gentle incense remains over the first phase and at this point LDDM is pleasant but hardly different from any number of other incense fragrances.

However, once the drydown appears it is absolutely glorious - a melding of cedar, vanilla, perhaps a touch of sandalwood and some very natural-smelling ambergris. These notes work in complete harmony and once established go through the gears in terms of potency, to the point where there is some contiguity with some fougere-type, powerhouse scents. And in fact, I find this a good way of characterising LDDM: the additional sweetness makes it superior for me than obvious oriental comparisons such as Jaipur and Ambre Sultan, but also gives it a kick of potency that brings it just short of, say, Troisieme Homme. The listed spice elements are there, but happily for me, more of a suggestion than prominent and discernible individual notes.

In short, then, LDDM is a completely accessible and highly evocative oriental that does a terrific job of crossing some boundaries, albeit in a minor way. Performance is at least acceptable over the lifetime of the scent, despite a kind of "bell-curve" effect, with the performance dropping off discernibly at about the nine-hour mark. And the quality, that drydown - all in all, terrifically conceived, wonderfully blended, and certainly a must-try.
01st January, 2017

Le Jardin de Monsieur Li by Hermès

I normally hate minimalism in fragrances - what's the point? - but for me this is minimalism that works. Opens up with the scent of nothing in particular, eventually becomes genuinely redolent of an oriental garden after the rain. Not really worth listing notes - this is an evocation of a mood. Generally I would be dismayed at having written these words myself, but this is an occasion on which I am apt to the artistic intent, rather than seeing it (as I usually do) as yet another example of the Emperor's new clothes.
28th December, 2016

African Leather by Memo

A slightly sweet, smoky and spicy scent where everything works to support the leather at the heart. It brings to mind the somehow "red" spices of African cooking. Not dissimilar to Italian Leather by the same house, but with the spices and slightly gourmand aspect up front and to the fore throughout. Highly amenable and no doubt good for dressy evenings, it would reward close testing. Whether you want to pay twice as much for this as you would for the Hermes or Acqua di Parma rivals is another matter.
28th December, 2016

Vétiver Vert by Czech & Speake

Vetiver Vert is a fairly nice vetiver scent that never really all comes together. It opens with a bright and refreshing combination of tangerine and petitgrain / bergamot (good for recognition tests, this - I passed on this occasion). There is then a hint at some kind of resinous ingredient before the vetiver and sandalwood take over. They are not the easiest of bedfellows, those last two - at least not here - and they stick around in tandem sniping at each other until the end. Longevity and sillage are below average.

The think the comparisons here are instructive. VV is far ahead of Boss Orange - the former has notes and development. However it does suffer by comparison with more well known vetiver scents, which are among the most famous and well liked in masculine perfumery. So I'm not entirely sure how one would come to favour this scent; it reminds me a little of the REM concert I saw once on the TV in which they played exactly none of their hits. It's OK, but you're left wondering how it couldn't be better than it is.
27th December, 2016

Tom Ford Noir by Tom Ford

I won't give a long review of this, having already provided a review of the little brother, Noir EDT. There really isn't much to note about the EDP, as I find the differences minimal. The only difference I could find, in fact, is that the EDP has a brief stage near the beginning where the general "fatness" of the scent is flattened and a more austere phase comes into play where the pepper and iris are highlighted. This doesn't last long, though, and we're soon back into the realms of sweet, powdery, musky and woody power as per the EDT.

Look, I won't beat around the bush: there are more fulfilling things out there, and just plain better too: if I was to part money for something in this genre tomorrow, I would more likely buy (in order of preference) Histoire's 1725, Guerlain's Heritage, or Dior Homme Intense. But the Noir line really isn't bad to my nose. If the Tom Ford name is important to you, and you want to obtain something Guerlain-influenced but a little more up to date, and that will get you noticed, then this is a consideration.

I find the EDP more noir-ish, whatever that is supposed to denote, than the EDT.
21st December, 2016

Sauvage by Christian Dior

Oh, 'eck. It's THAT one, isn't it? The one HE advertises. I'll try and keep this short, as my personal notes on Sauvage are becoming rather long. This is certainly the most controversial male release since I became interested in fragrance: "the scent that launched a thousand MBA theses". A few comments before the review proper, and they are all about marketing in some way (please note all I know about marketing is what common sense tells me).

First, the comments show the sheer number of factors that can be brought into play when reviewing a fragrance - it's not just as simple as how it smells; there are myriad factors involved in establishing the 'meaning' of a scent. Marketing is paramount among them. The place, the time, the people: they're all important. As many have noted, if Sauvage had been the product of, say, a small indepedent perfumery in 2005, it might well have escaped both the hype and the vitriol. There are some here that by their own account have a lifetime connection to Dior, and feel let down by Sauvage. These things are relevant.

Second, there seems to be a definite difference between the popular and critical views of Sauvage. Until recently, Boots was advertising Sauvage as the "best selling men's fragrance in the UK". Certainly it is selling hand over fist and in my inexpert view has been marketed extremely well. The critical views are mixed, to understate the case. Without wishing to go into any detail here, respective accusations of susceptibility to fashion and marketing, and snobbery, are at play. Without going all Frankfurt School, do we assume the rational consumer, or the unthinking consumer blinded by the manipulative tendencies of popular culture? And so what if you swallow the marketing and enjoy the product? (Sample comment BTL from the marketing video on Youtube - young female avatar, no apparent deployment of irony - "I just buy Dior Sauvage to show Johnny Depp that I was cool" - it does make you wonder.)

A third point concerns the backlash from fragrance aficionados, and the connection to Dior's Eau Sauvage. The problem here is the verbal reasoning capacity of the fragrance community. Dior say that Sauvage isn't a flanker of Eau Sauvage. Observers and critics say it must be. Verbal reasoning supports the latter. Put simply, Sauvage is to Eau Sauvage as D&G Intenso is to D&G Pour Homme, as Armani Acqua di Gio Profumo is to Acqua di Gio, as Prada Luna Rossa Extreme is to Luna Rossa... shall I go on? The formula is something like: take an existing male fragrance, preferably one that is popular for summer or warm weather usage, and "bolster" it through the introduction of notes such as pepper, incense, labdanum, and tonka. Put it into an analogous new bottle with darker tones to give off the message that the new one is somehow "stronger". Voila, you have your new, market-ready fragrance. Essentially, people don't like being told that black is white, and will react against it.

On to the review: I tried this many times on paper before trying it on skin. It is also easy to detect on other men as they pass. I cannot say I enjoyed either of those media. Having tried it at last on skin, I can confidently say it's just as bad as I feared it might be. It opens quite pleasantly, with something approaching bergamot, but the ambroxan takes over quickly and thereafter never lets go. I cannot understand any talk of the development of Sauvage - it's a one-trick pony to my nose, extremely linear.

Worse, it creates an almost suffocating miasma. Here is the blurb from the Dior web site: "Sauvage is an act of creation inspired by wide-open spaces. An ozone blue sky sprawled above a rocky landscape, white-hot beneath the desert sun." OK. If you've ever spent any time on a rocky landscape beneath the white-hot desert sun, you will know that you quickly want to escape, and find some fresh air to gulp. Eventually, the heat will induce a dizzying nausia. If this is the effect that Dior was after, they've succeeded admirably.

I have to say, a few of my favoured scents are not too far away from this concept and/or execution, but the difference is that they tend to have better development, and leave more olfactory space. Sauvage has stellar performance, true, but it invades space and leaves behind occupying forces. In all senses, there is no room to breathe.

Mrs Funwithfrags was not at all impressed. I'm just looking forward to the next day, when I can wear something else.
18th December, 2016

Pour Un Homme Sport by Caron

I came to my third and final Caron sample with some trepidation, mostly caused by the "Sport" appellation, which normally signals No Good Thing Can Happen. The question to interrogate this scent with is: how do you make the dandyish, of-its-time Pour un Homme into something "sporty"?

I am afraid my answer is facetious: Not with much success. PuHS opens with something of the realistic lavender of the original, but accompanied by sweet fruity and green notes, with the overall effect being one of molten jelly babies; a vaguely aquatic and slightly salty accord accompanies it. This initial stage lasts for about four hours with no respite; until, suddently, the sweetness dissipates and the sole remaining accord is that of Caron's excellent lavender. It then hums along quietly for another couple of hours or so, until the whole thing switches off like a light bulb. I admit, this second phase is not too bad, if linear, but being caught between that awful opening and expecting the next twist in the tail (I was expecting the burnt lavender and vanilla of the original to surface at some point) made it impossible to enjoy.

All in all, not a good experience. And I can't see where this effort is going to take the house - I would imagine that those young enough to enjoy PuHS won't be shopping at Caron anyway, so I have to remain dubious about the prospects for this scent kickstarting a Caron revival. I will be sticking to the classics from this house, and I don't mind suggesting that you do the same.
18th December, 2016

Pour Un Homme by Caron

Pour Un Homme is my third foray into Caron masculines, and the second of the free samples they sent me. My expectations were of a lavender-and-vanilla composition, perhaps along the lines of Le Male, but I hoped for better.

The first several seconds are a literal blast of extremely realistic and naturally-rendered lavender - it took me aback a little at first but soon settled. After about half a minute, the vanilla comes in and melds nicely. An hour in, and the combination gives off a toasty, biscuity vibe that is redolent of coumarin.

Sadly, after a few hours, the sheer power of the dominant accords crosses the line into fly-spray territory, and stays there for some time. True story: I wore this to my son's primary school Christmas play. There were lots of other parents there, especially female, and I thought I caught a smell of a strong feminine Dior or Chanel. You guessed it - that's you, buddy, in your Caron.

Actually, at the end of the day Pour Un Homme returned to the coumarin phase that I find pleasant. However, there's no way I want to countenance the extensive fly-spray period again in a hurry.

There's no denying the quality, and the three-dimensional rounded impression left by all the Carons. However, after the magnificence of Troisieme Homme and the savagery of Yatagan, this one is a definite miss for me. It might seem a strange kind of averaging to render love/hate as a neutral rating, but it's my review and I can see this as a polarising scent. Thankfully, with the people at Caron being so nice, you can try before you buy.
15th December, 2016

Molecule 01 by Escentric Molecules

Being number 13 in a series of 16 reviews on critically acclaimed and noteworthy scents.

The reviews of Molecule 01 make interesting reading before cracking out the sample. What exactly should one expect? Read on for real events.

So, I couldn't smell anything. I mean, not a thing. I know this is not that unusual, but the lack of any scent at all is so noteworthy that it kept me in a state of surprise all day. As it happens, both Mrs Funwithfrags and Master Funwithfrags, both with rather younger nasal passages than I, could not only detect it, but really liked it. As I had to rely on their descriptions for a change, here they are: some citrus up top, with some woods and spices, possibly cinnamon, in the background. To reiterate, this was a definite thumbs-up for them.

Although I could detect nothing over the course of a whole day, various descriptors kept occurring to me, no doubt on a mostly subconscious level. The woods I think were there, ranging from pencil shavings to oud; possibly some citrus. I did the fairly frequent chemical effect of the iso-e, which was mostly a not-so-pleasant and obviously artificial effect, somewhat too polished and even heavy.

So that's it, right? case closed? Wrong! So many people have suggested a layering function for M01, saying that it improves the other scent. On this basis, I was careful to give it another chance. I thought I should give it the best shot and chose the companion scent carefully, finally settling on Bulgari Pour Homme Extreme, for its general transparency, clear accords, naturalness, and possibility of benefitting from a stiffer base, as well as my familiarity with it.

This time, with the Bulgari as a vehicle, I did detect something, and the iso-e came through loud and clear. I would say there was a distinct ramping up in
performance. However, I can't say that M01 improved my Bulgari experience at all, removing the lightness and understated nature of that scent.

So all in all, a worthwhile experience, but not something I would buy as a scent. Let others who can detect it have their say.
07th December, 2016

Nanban by Arquiste

My first reactions on seeing the note pyramid, here and elsewhere, are: i. in what world is tea and coffee together ever a good idea?; and ii. why on earth does "the other" web site list jasmine as a base note, and how is that going to work?

Nanban opens up on my skin with a delicate helping of pepper and tea, quickly accompanied by the silky softness of the osmanthus florals. At this stage, it's rather nice. It quickly moves on, though, to a musty effect that is hard to countenance as personal scent. The final stages and long drydown redeem this rather, with a sweeter set of accords that no doubt benefit from the balsams and sandalwood, but which never lose a strong smokiness. I detect no coffee at any stage. (Interestingly, you will find a similarly sceptical review on the kafkaesqueblog web site, but one which professes to detect coffee but no tea.) Thankfully, given the lack of obvious fit to the genre, there's no jasmine either.

Here's the thing: if I wanted to smell this strongly of smoke (I don't), I would probably buy a 5ml vial of the "Deadwood" perfume oil from Alkemia on Etsy, which currently comes in at about £10. I would have to fork out £135 for 100ml of Nanban. I know it's perhaps hard to compare two such different products... but I just don't hanker after Nanban. It's fairly interesting, and would reward careful experimentation, but I can't say anything particularly positive about any aspect of the scent itself. Given the price, the musty heart notes, and the fact that I'd rather take home a craft perfume oil of my acquaintance, it's got to be a neutral rating. Just not exciting or provocative enough to my nose.
04th December, 2016

New Haarlem by Bond No. 9

Being number 12 in a series of 16 reviews on critically acclaimed and noteworthy scents.

The top notes of New Haarlem consisted of a combination of coffee and lavender spliced together in such a clumsy fashion that I feared the worst. As I have had cause to say before, the end result smelled very much like the medicinal odour of calomine lotion. Being used to the seamless connection of lavender and coffee in Yohji Homme, this by comparison seemed like - what's the saying? - attaching an axle to an orange.

However, as time moved on, things turned out for the better. Those that have pointed out a similarity with Dior's Eau Noire are spot on, for while New Haarlem omits the curry leaf note and includes a much stronger, more aggressively roasted coffee aroma, the two are very close indeed. They share many common ingredients, and so the similarities in accords, and in performance for that matter, should perhaps not come as a surprise.

So, once we get to the dry down, exposed skin gives off a straight coffee accord that is between a narrower version of Eau Noire and an amplified version of Yohji, while sprays to the chest bring out the roasted aspect of coffee along with something like the "pancakes and syrup" effect that this scent is famed for. There is also something of a green note here, again, extremely redolent of Eau Noire.

While I would buy Eau Noire in a straight fight between the two, if money were no object, that appears to have been discontinued. Given that the medical astringency of New Haarlem soon wears off, but retains what the pleasing aspects of a good gourmand are for me at least, I can unhesitatingly award New Haarlem a positive review and leave it on the wish list until such time as the idea of an unashamed gourmand in my collection becomes irresistible.
27th November, 2016