Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Funwithfrags

Total Reviews: 263

Vert Fougère by Floris

Green? Fougere? By Floris? yes please! Ah, we're born for disappointment.

VF goes on with a terrific grapefruit note, but the top notes in concert are medicinal. I can only attribute this to the interaction of the citrus with galbanum, but... well, it's not always like this.

It then decides it wants to become Brut. Once the top has dried off, this is unmistakably, 90%, Brut, perhaps a slightly more powdery version. Once that positive ident has been made, it then decides it wants to be No. 89 and the hairy-chested phase wears off. By the end it has referenced most of the repertoire of Caron and Histoires.

So here's my problem. These are some direct quotes from the sample card: it is "defined by a juxtaposition between dark green notes and smoky, velvety woody accords"; it is "a moody fougere that embraces its green, mossy foundations and adds a sparkling modernity". Mmmmmm: sort of. Some of the time. With these descriptions, I want a return to uncompromising masculine fougere mossy goodness. If I was in the market for what this is, largely a dandyish version of the genre, I'd visit one of the other houses mentioned above.

Here's what I think part of the problem is: it's marketed as a unisex fragrance. Drop the pretence, ramp it up, make it a proper masculine. As it stands, if I want powdery from this house, I'll go with No. 89; board-room assertive, Elite; can't decide, 1976. Not at all bad, but not close enough, in my book.
08th February, 2020

Addictive Arts : Chasing the Dragon Hypnotic by Clive Christian

First of all: I never do this, but is that name really necessary? I remember Zammo "chasing the dragon" in Grange Hill back in the day, and it wasn't pleasant. There really isn't a need for this.

Offense-taking over, and this is a very pleasant oriental that will suit a variety of noses. Nicely sharp and tight, not overpowering, with discernible notes. Nothing wrong with the quality, just a case of whether that magic money tree is fruiting this year.

Pink pepper, moss, balsam, amber.
04th December, 2019

Black Aoud by Montale

Not so much red wine, as another reviewer notes, and more like Turkish delight. Sweet and rose-heavy, with a questionable amount of oud (no matter what its provenance) going by the performance... in short, there are plenty of "black ouds" out there, and this one is certainly inferior to its Dumont namesake, which actually smells like something that deserves the name "Black Oud".
10th November, 2019
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Black Oud by Laurence Dumont

Smoky, slighly sweet oud and dry woods. A touch of musk at the end. Possibly just within the realms of what I would consider wearability in a work context. Really rather pleasant on a winter's day and with any luck I will have a chance to add to this brief note with more extended wearing. I understand it's cheap enough, so while not a recommended blind buy, if you get on with it BO is liable to represent good value.
10th November, 2019

Prima del Teatro di San Carlo by Carthusia

The FWF clan spent some happy time in the Sorrento Carthusia shop on holiday and in the end dropped quite a bit of money there. However, it was on the last day when I noticed this on a high shelf and asked if we could try it.

What a revelation that was. Rhodes22 above has it spot on: bergamot, rose, mint, and oud are the headline notes of this composition and they work wonders together. The bergamot opening gives way to mint, and this works with rose to create the most refined freshness. I would be tempted to say that this reins in the oud, which is kind of true, but the oud itself is calibrated such that it never takes over. What you end up with as a long-lasting drydown is the well-grooved eastern combination of oud and rose, tempered by some additional dryness from other woods and the lingering mint acting as a kind of olfactory pedal-point. (I'm almost tempted to say: as a kind of east-west collaboration.) We bought the only size available, a 50ml bottle.

"Prima del Teatro" (I believe, literally, "before the theatre") is meant to replicate the scent on opera night in the San Carlo theatre, with the Carthusia web site seeming to think that it is some kind of theatre-experience-enhancing device. I gather then that it might be intended as a formal scent, surely more for feminine use, but it could be applied in moderation on a day-to-day basis. I look forward to analysing it more as Mrs FWF wears this in the winter months. In short, a terrific, well-thought-through composition with a strong theme that really delivers.
05th October, 2019

Fiori di Capri by Carthusia

A bit of a throwback to the heavy feminines of yore. I was pleased to read the reference to Ysatis; yes, that is exactly the analogy I was looking for. Not original, but pleasantly abstract in that established sense. Some lovely florals that I get to smell on Mrs FWF in the morning.
05th October, 2019

Blu Mediterraneo : Cipresso di Toscana (new) by Acqua di Parma

Never had the chance to compare it to the original, but I really like this. Not only does it pull off a good rendition of cypress, supported by most prominently by aromatics, but it also works as an instruction for those learning what notes appear in their favourite abstract scents. On trying this, I will be better equipped to find cypress in what will largely, I imagine, be masculine fragrances. What I like about the Blu line is that the eponymous ingredient is prominent but that it tends to be, in most cases, given just enough of a supporting cast to keep it interesting. I might have to obtain a bottle of this at some point.
05th October, 2019

Eternity Flame for Men by Calvin Klein

Not awful, just horribly boring. A "rouge" theme filtered through the malign influence of the last half-decade's mainstream. Not worth discussing notes.
05th October, 2019

Astor by Geo F Trumper

Another interesting scent from Trumper, redolent of assertive masculines such as Tuscany, and, to an extent, Kouros. The performance is a little less at EDC concentrations, but not ever so much, and I think that Astor might be too much for many modern noses.

The theme is of a standard cologne with the added spice and astringency of what is listed here as caraway; but I wouldn't be surprised if artemesia and/or cumin were in there as well. Jasmine, citrus, and aromatics are present as a matter of course for the genre.

Good to try and nice to know that a throwback such as this is still available. I can't say it has really grabbed my imagination at the moment, though, although that might change in time.
21st September, 2019

This Is Not A Blue Bottle by Histoires de Parfums

A lot of fun to be had here. Working from the good examples of those who have come before me, I sprayed carefully. What you get is a decidedly synthetic citric-amber, but really not at all unpleasant. The performance is stellar and would be a good choice for those nights out where you want to be smelled over those with no imagination.

It's a fairly recognisable formula with some sweetness and a highly modern edge. Would recommend testing before buying; thankfully HdP have an excellent samples proposition.
05th September, 2019

Neroli by Czech & Speake

Another winner from C&S. Pleasant, summery citrus and photo-realistic blossom. Just enough longevity not to raise objections.
03rd September, 2019

20 Iconic Masculine by Clive Christian

Fresh from the new campaign, some free samples from CC. Nice that they remember their repeat customers (even if, so far, for low-ticket items).

I can't help feeling that for a label that sells for such high prices that I should be more wowed by this kind of effort. (NB: I might yet have this with some of the Addictive Arts series.) But is it reasonable to expect that of every release from a very expensive niche house?

Enter 20 Iconic Masculine, which is perhaps one of the least iconic things I've ever known, being i. nothing that stands out; ii. nothing that gives you a representative idea of the brand; and iii. nothing that will strengthen your faith, should you have one, and perhaps iv. nothing that will even be remembered after it is experienced.

Despite all this, I have a sneaking admiration for 20IM. It is very low-key, but has the consistent performance of a pilot light. It goes on in an understated way and continues in the same vein for many hours. It starts with strong petitgrain, pink pepper and perhaps a hint of ginger. It goes from aromatics to woods, and final act is one of a very familiar orange-amber-cedar affair. I caught wafts of my own scent throughout the day and was never less than impressed. The quality, after two testings and some unsought feedback from Mrs FWF, shines through in the seamless transitions and the excellent performance, as well as its blue-chip, zero-risk masculine design.

The lesson? Maybe there's room for something done in a way that's not original, just executed darn well.
23rd August, 2019

Carthusia Uomo by Carthusia

In The Guide, Tanya Sanchez gives this a one-star rating and a two-line review. I can only say it's a good thing she's not paid by the word.

That is rather dismissive. Uomo is not very original, to be sure, but when you claim origins from 1958 or whatever, isn't it your right to claim the well-trodden path? In any case, a very pleasing, recognisably masculine combination of green notes, citrus, woods and a touch of leather and possibly patchouli. I wasn't that far from buying when in Sorrento on holiday, but we bought for my father-in-law instead.
22nd August, 2019 (last edited: 06th September, 2019)
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1899 Ernest Hemingway by Histoires de Parfums

A very nice blend of hesperidic notes, spicy florals, drying down to a fougeric ending of lavender, vanilla, amber, and a distinct blonde tobacco accord. A very wearable masculine and very distinct.
22nd August, 2019

Booze and Baccy by Captain Fawcett Limited

Rough around the edges, little refinement, but an enjoyable enough take on tobacco if you don't want to reflect too much.
10th August, 2019

Un Jardin sur la Lagune by Hermès

On first reflection, this smelled like the inside of a bin. When challenged on this, I was happy to upgrade my evaluation to "inside of the *food waste* bin".
10th August, 2019

Cape Heartache by Imaginary Authors

A very strange experience. On application, opinion was divided. "Bathbombs", said the family. "Calamine lotion, or hospital disinfectant", said I. A spicy phase followed, passing the torch to a near-gourmand experience after a few hours. The later phases were spent with a smoky, woody theme with overtones of strawberries and balsamic. Late in the day, I am left with strawberries and cream as if wandering the outer courts at Wimbledon.

What has this got to do with "Cape Heartache"? I'm not aware of any literary or cultural reference, but perhaps it works as a tip of the hat to those spy novels whose protagonists pay flying visits to a random collection of locations over the course of the narrative. I wouldn't buy this, but it's been an interesting ride.
10th August, 2019

Excentrique Moi by Art de Parfum

A red fruit, spice, and wood affair. Later in the day osmanthus or something simlar brings through a fairly pleasing spicy-floral component into the equation. For the most part, though, this is one-paced, and the berries, or whatever the red fruit notes are supposed to be, and too prominent. Not so much eccentric as slightly contrarian. This house has done better.
10th August, 2019

Eros Flame by Versace

I tried this in the duty free section and thought it was passable. It reminded me of Xeryus Rouge, but a slightly dryer, tighter version.
08th August, 2019

Contre Pouvoir by Brécourt

Rather light, musky, not at all how I imagined it might smell. Not due for re-testing any time soon.
08th August, 2019

Park Royal by Anglia Perfumery

Not ever so much to see here. Some galbanum and woods. Dry in the manner of Eucris, some warmth via cinnamon in the manner of No. 89. If that makes it sound interesting, it really is much more underwhelming than that description warrants.
16th July, 2019

Eau des 4 Voleurs by L'Occitane

Another reminder that I got into this hobby about 20 years too late. The word from reviews here and elsewhere is that the character of ED4V is the same as the original issue, but that the performance is down. In this I am reminded of several other scents of which the same is said; for instance, let's say, Esencia by Loewe. I very much like the direction, but am left wanting more.

This is a green scent. If it was a paint, it would claim "hints of chypre". The success inheres in the many woody notes being bolstered, throughout its duration, by mild spices and citrus. It doesn't make for a complex journey, but does make you wonder how all the notes last all that time. There was a point in my early wearings where I had an almost unpleasant experience of pine resin and oak furniture, but I put this down to overspraying and constant close-up sniffing. Worn with smart casual to work, with many other things to take my attention, and it's an excellent companion.

I bought a bottle during one of the almost unceasing L'Occitane sale periods, with the thought in mind that, a la Yohji Homme, this may well experience a second and terminal demise at some point. Would I buy again? Maybe: but more likely at that stage I would purchase Floris's Elite, which is similar to this but excels in performance in a way that I have found Floris scents tend to do across the board.
27th June, 2019

Wanted by Night by Azzaro

The achievement of Wanted by Night is that it has utilised every cliche in the book from recent male perfumery and does it with enough brio to make you doubt yourself, staring down your cynicism as if the marketing people were carrying real shooters. It's not just aquatic, it's ambroxan and incense as well, with a few more trends thrown in for good measure. I'm not quite sure what question this is the answer to, beyond unthinking Christmas presents for mid-range relatives. Nice bottle.
15th June, 2019

Aramis Tobacco Reserve by Aramis

Simply, some of that heritage Aramis thing going on with a helping of blonde tobacco. What I like about this effort is that the tobacco doesn't overpower, but works with the tonka to produce a creamy edge. Perhaps it could have used more oakmoss, as other reviewers suggest; but I would say that if you think you like the sound of this, it's likely that you won't be disappointed.
15th June, 2019

Root of all Goodness by Parterre

According to Wordforde Perfumers, "Root of all Goodness is probably the finest vetiver-styled fragrance on the market today." Well, that's clearly quite some claim given the number of acclaimed vetivers on the market. I will go so far as to say that ROAG is the best vetiver I have tried - and I've tried a few.

The point of departure for Parterre is that they grow the key ingredients themselves. In this case, the vetiver is English vetiver - I know, who would have thought it! - grown on site in Dorset. We don't know exactly which ingredients are local, and which brought in, but one thing for sure that the label has brought in is French perfumer Jacques Chabert to put together the components into three scents, of which this is the most masculine.

Another certainty is that ROAG just does it for me, period. The bergamot-vetiver-leather structure works as well as a three-act play. The vetiver has neither the aggressive astringency of Guerlain's vetiver, nor the sinister dankness of Encre Noire. Rather, it is textured and resinous, and perhaps more believably woody. A little bit of ginger creeps into the early stages, while the dry-down is accompanied by labdanum.

ROAG also responds well to the volume control. A few sprays and it works like a masculine cologne. Heavier application ensures a presence for most of the day. It's never loud and won't appeal to many on the basis of performance, but this is not about brashness. Despite a certain rawness - I expect reformulation in some way if the label continues - this is English refinement done extremely well.

The packaging is exquisite and includes an invitation for a tour of the Dorset farm. Amounts are very limited so I find it hard to recommend until I have a back-up bottle. One of the few fragrances I've ever tried that I would rave about.
15th May, 2019

Mahon Leather by Floris

This was one of the first scents I tried when getting into this hobby. I thought at first it might be an early holy grail, but that didn't turn out to be the case. For some time I thought this was an "Irish leather" (well, Memo do one) but eventually realised that the name seemed to be a reference to the house's Majorcan heritage (after all, it's not McMahon leather).

I am a sucker for Spanish leather style scents and this one has all the Floris hallmarks of quality, but also a prominent iris note that I don't get on with. Comforting, powdery, and soapish in the ways that scents of this sub-genre should be, but not for me. And as it's discontinued and liable to be in short supply across the board, testing remains an academic exercise alone.
11th May, 2019

Frankincense & Myrrh by Czech & Speake

As usual with C&S samples, really like this but insufficient longevity from <1ml doesn't contribute to a best impression. Some brief citrus and eponymous resins die down to a decent chypre structure of lavender and sandalwood. Sadly, until I get hold of a more voluminous sample, that's all I can say. Excellent promise but needs more on the skin.
06th May, 2019

Costa Azzurra Acqua by Tom Ford

An aquatic/evergreen fragrance that is a little more interesting than it has any right to be. Rather than developing in a linear fashion, as the common metaphor suggests, this one has notes that jump around and spiral all over the place. Green, spicy, and fruity notes fight for attention in ways that draw attention but somehow it works. It dries down to something that is warmed with amber, while the lentisque provides heft and reminds me of the much more down-market Cool Water Night Dive. Not cheap, but very adequately passes the "I'd-wear-it-if-someone-bought-me-a-bottle" test.
27th April, 2019

Blu Mediterraneo : Bergamotto di Calabria by Acqua di Parma

Excellent citric opening, as you would expect. The key questions are: does it last, does it develop in any interesting way? The answer: not really. It's one of those where more longevity is needed to give the rest of the notes a proper run-out. I get ginger and some of the other listed notes, but it's fleeting. Perhaps with more generous application? That's for another day.
27th April, 2019

Santal / Sandalwood by Floris

This is somewhat different to the review I was going to write, as I realised after the past few days in which I've re-tried both Egoiste and Santal, that I really don't get on with sandalwood-centred scents such as these (although I still fine Trumper's Sandalwood to be truly excellent and wearable).

So here, a slightly fresh and spicy opening with few of the notes listed in the card - certainly no "cut grass" or whatever - but a consistently good creamy dry-down with a touch of tonka and vanilla to keep the volume up during the day. I find Santal very similar to Egoiste, but it also touches a cap to No. 89, also by Floris, by virtue of the presence of nutmeg, which fits the scent well.

Good quality, but I suppose the caveat emptor is whether you would pay a bit extra for this over Egoiste. Not a dilemma that faces me, as I've sampled, done my duty, and will move on.
04th April, 2019