Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Funwithfrags

Total Reviews: 123

Papyrus de Ciane by Parfumerie Generale

A very green fragrance, but not only green. The inclusion of lavender and moss hints at the fougere genre; but (thanks to the galbanum?) it is perhaps the least sharp-edged fougere-type you will find; certainly at the end of some kind of continuum. As other reviewers have noted, there is something reflective and dream-like going on here; some kind of Alice in Wonderland vibe. More masculine than feminine, perhaps, but hinting at the homoerotic in a way more redolent of the "hidden-in-plain-sight" Victorian style characteristic of Oscar Wilde, rather than the bearded lumberjack genre of something like Tom Of Finland. PdC was a good companion to a hot day. From a sample, projection was average and longevity other than as a skin scent the same; but I posit that better performance would be attained from the sprayer in a full-sized bottle. I would wear this again. Straddling the green and fougere genres in an interesting way, it is recommended.
18th July, 2017

Spencer Hart Palm Springs by Floris

Notes: as given above.

Released in 2014 (not 2012) for the now defunct clothing company Spencer Hart, who listed as one of their celebrity part-owners one Robbie Williams. Is there a clothing company this guy can't ruin?! But I imagine that Floris now wish to get rid of their stock to minimise those associations, thus explaining the now better than half price sale on this fragrance as I write.

Anyway, the scent: for reference, think Ambre Sultan (just not nearly as good), Jaipur Homme, Sartorial, and the proprietary No. 89.

It opens with some bitter citrus and aromatics. The usual Floris characteristic is in play - light spraying allows easy discernment of the accords, whereas heavy spraying makes everything more confused and denser. The clove comes through heavily and tends to dominate.

This is a good scent overall, but not evocative of the Rat Pack to me. In my view, if you're going to list these notes, then many of them have to do rather more work than they're put to here. Below average performance. Probably no-one will mourn the passing of this one.
13th July, 2017

You Or Someone Like You by Etat Libre d'Orange

Rose, mint, herbs - yes, they are all there. Applying YOSLO is a little like wandering into a garden centre - a particularly up-market garden centre, mind, where the proprietors have thought about where they position the plants for olfactory purposes as much as anything else. It comprises a particularly floral take on freshness, and was extremely suitable and pleasant wearing on a hot summer's day. Some caveats - this is more to the feminine end of the scale. I would wear this, but would probably not get use out of a full bottle. If such considerations are irrelevant to you, this is worth trying. Another point is that the scent is extremely linear and consistent in performance (on my skin). Towards the end of the day the rose accord became a little tiresome, and I was longing for a subtle development - perhaps a Guerlain-esque touch of vanilla or something similar. I mean, would you really want to spend a day with your nose buried in a bunch of roses? But it was enough to bring positive vibes for the majority of the day. Overall, a good experience.
09th July, 2017
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Él by Arquiste

Buzzlepuff's existing review has a lot to commend it. El starts and ends as a soapy/aromatic fougere redolent of many within the same genre. It also makes a dispiriting tip of the hat to Sauvage, Nuit D'Issey and other modern concoctions that claim some connection with the fougere via the "darkness" of its geranium and patchouli notes. Thankfully, what appears in the middle - an animalic-driven second act - completely saves it. El goes on light and then accelerates through the gears to the point where it becomes a masculine that references Kouros, but most of all Yatagan, although in a smoother and more obviously "engineered" way. The final stages become more herbal and show off some of the shyer accords.

I had cause to use the term "humming" in my review of El's stablemate Aleksandr, and Buzzlepuff's use of the term "purring" captures the same feeling I get from both scents - they tick over like a powerful car engine with consistent performance. After a cross-section of two samplings, then, I get the feeling that this is something of a house style. The scents are not ostentatious but feed through enough potency to keep them at a good level for hours.

El is not cheap at around 135GBP or 190EUR for a 100ml bottle of EDP. Personally, I would part with the money for this as it is located at the intersections of all the areas I'm interested in.
18th June, 2017

Aleksandr by Arquiste

Aleksandr reminded me of something and eventually I was able to remember what it was. When I tested Tuscan Leather on skin, it lasted two whole days and the second day, after it had died down and was humming along nicely, was comparable to Aleksandr. The latter is a well-blended leather that might be suitable for leather aficionados as well as fans of Tuscan Leather who could do without the nuclear performance.

Aleksandr opens with prominent violet, quickly bolstered by the neroli. The "iced vodka" effect, in conjunction no doubt with the suggestions of the marketing, effectively bring to mind an early start somewhere outside St Petersburg. As with Tuscan Leather and various other contenders, such as Floris's Mahon Leather, the overall aim is to decorate the tanned skin with some floral or fresher accords. The final hours are those of a prominent but assertive skin scent. Very interesting and rather good. Even, dare I say, conceptually coherent.
17th June, 2017

Monsieur by Huitième Art

Monsieur is constructed with all manner of woody notes, along with, according to the marketing spiel, the freshness of water. It's obviously intended to invoke the great outdoors.

Put simply, for me the woodiness is too great and there is a lack of balance. After about six hours the spicyness of the patchouli and incense starts to come through, and at this stage Monsieur takes on a different character and improves no end. Sadly, it is at this same point that the scent starts to die away and so the better, later stages are far too fleeting in duration. Better results could have been achieved by earlier development and probably some accords to offset the many arboreal components.
16th June, 2017

Happy for Men by Clinique

Fruity and musky, this is not bad in conception, but so muffled in practice that it's hard to tell what's going on. Might be nice for office wear, if anyone is able to tell you are wearing it.
15th June, 2017

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

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
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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

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