Perfume Reviews

Reviews by StellaDiverFlynn

Total Reviews: 95

Mauboussin by Mauboussin

My review is based on Extrait and EDP in 2/3 purple top - 1/3 silver bottom - red interior box with Place Vendôme address, which I assume is the original version.

The EDP opens with a blast of plum and mirabelle. They are intensely syrupy and saturated with sugar, which occasionally remind me of the jammy mirabelle note in Givenchy Dahlia Divin. But when amber and earthy patchouli soon burst into the scene, these stone fruits become much more boozy and medicinal, as if someone poured a bottle of plum liqueur on a floor covered with mold and dirt. The combination of boozy plum and bitter, dirt-like patchouli is indeed reminiscent of Annick Goutal Mon Parfum Chéri, par Camille, but Mauboussin EDP is less dry and austere, and is instead more enveloping thanks to the caramel warmth of benzoin.

I have a low tolerance of boozy plum amber, so the initial phase of Mauboussin EDP is quite difficult for me. But once the booziness and the almost sticky syrupy texture calm down after about 3 hours, the fragrance achieves a wonderful balance between dry woody and opulent oriental, with the medicinal and slightly ozonic patchouli being the central force to keep the sweetness of plum and amber in check.

I can see the reference to Mugler Angel because of its earthy and almost sharp patchouli undercutting the rich sweetness, Cartier Le Baiser du Dragon because of both being unapologetically boozy, Kenzo Jungle L'Elephant because of the strong plum note. But Mauboussin is still quite different in smell, because Angel has a much sharper contrast between fierce patchouli and gourmand chocolate while Mauboussin tends to unite them in harmony right from the beginning, Cartier is more almond-y while Mauboussin is dominated by plum liqueur, and Kenzo is much drier and spicier while Mauboussin seems mellower and more creamy in character.

The Extrait has an overall similar olfactory profile with EDP on my skin, but the evolution from boozy plum to the amber patchouli woody oriental dry down takes almost 6 hours instead of 3 hours, and the plum feels more ripe, more luscious and even more boozy, with a more noticeable unctuous caramel undercurrent.

The sillage of both concentration are heavy to moderate, with EDP lasting for at least 14 hours and Extrait up to 18 hours on my skin.

Despite its glowing reviews, I would incline to consider Mauboussin as a quite polarising fragrance and would suggest against blind buying: its concentrated plum liqueur opening can be cloying and its medicinal, bitter patchouli can be interpreted as brash. However, if you enjoy these two aspects and are looking for a rich woody oriental adorned with lavish stone fruits, Mauboussin is definitely worth a try.
11th May, 2018

Galop d'Hermès by Hermès

Upon spraying Galop d'Hermès, the three main player of the fragrance - quince, rose and suede - gallop towards my nose right away. The quince exudes its rosy, ripe pear-like succulence, enhancing the delicate, honeyed sweetness of pink rose petals. The suede employed here, like previous reviewers mentioned, reminds me of the same plush, slightly cumin-tinted suede note in Cuir d'Ange too, with its supple texture occasionally evoking turkish delight along with the tender sweetness of rose and fruits.

Galop is overall linear during its 8-hour longevity on my skin, with these three main notes rotating in and out from time to time and the vegetal muskiness becoming more noticeable about 3 hours in. The osmanthus and saffron sit at the intersection of fruity quince, spicy rose and suede, and they behave more like extension and overlap of these notes among themselves. The sillage is mostly moderate.

Compared to the Hermès fragrances released during Jean-Claude Ellena's tenure, Galop d'Hermès immediately feels richer and more saturated in colour. But at the same time, it's still lightweight enough to fit into the modern Hermès sensibility.

This continuation in style (relatively transparent aesthetics) with a more personal touch (with a more saturated palette) is promising in theory. However, certain aspects of Galop's execution left much to be desired for me. The main culprit is the syrupiness of the fruity note, which at times largely overshadows the rose and the excellent suede note. Moreover, when the tanned aspect of suede is mixed with the strong sugary fruity sweetness, it renders the fruity note somewhat more synthetic, which is not in accord with the luxurious image and price tag of Galop.

With its large portion of sweet, frivolous fruity note providing an easier entry point, Galop would have made an excellent choice for those who enjoy fruity floral gourmand in general and would like to start the exploration of leather/suede note in perfumery. However, with its limited distribution and high price tag, I'd hesitate to recommend it over other more available options on the market.
10th May, 2018

Freak by Illamasqua

On my skin, Illamasqua Freak is a rather amorphous fruity floral with a noticeable woody backbone. There are occasional whiffs of sweet tuberose and jammy abricot, and the woody note sometimes shares a few common traits with synthetic oud, but most of the time, it's an abstract clean creamy woody floral with a surprisingly restrained sweetness in today's mainstream market.

The sillage is moderate to low and the longevity is around 8 hours on my skin.

I was initially very disappointed by Freak, as it's anything but freak or dark suggested by its cheeky marketing prose. However, if put into its context being a fragrance marketed to appeal to a young clientele, Freak is indeed very "alternative" compared to most sugary gourmand fragrances put out by major designer brands. Besides its low level of sweetness, its perceptible woody undertone can make it seem more masculine and "darker" than its competitors, but at the same time, its clean floralcy would still provide a relatively easy access and its abstract nature could also be interpreted as "mysterious" and coherent to its "poisonous flower" theme. While I don't find it a remarkable fragrance, it's certainly a cleverly constructed one befitting to its marketing strategy. If you happen to be looking for a clean woody floral fragrance in a cute bottle, Freak might worth consideration.
08th May, 2018
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Theorema by Fendi

Although mandarine and orange are not listed as notes, the candied orange opening of Fendi Theorema EDP is mouthwatering. A honeyed amber sweetness soon sweeps the scene along with a small handful of all spices, among which the fresh woody nutmeg and sweet spicy cinnamon are the most discernable to my nose.

This combination of notes smells quite gourmand to me and is very suggestive of pain d'épices or gingerbread. However, except for its opening 20 minutes, its overall sheer texture and diffusiveness effectively keeps it from being cloying. Moreover, flickers of fresh woody notes invigorate the composition thanks to their contrast with the resinous warmth.

Theorema is more or less linear once the delectable amber warmth adorned with gentle spices settles in. It just gradually becomes more and more abstract and turns into a honeyed skin scent after about 3 hours. The overall sillage is very intimate, and the longevity is barely 6 hours on my skin.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed during my first few times wearing Theorema. I enjoyed the fragrance, but it was not as striking as I thought it would be, probably because it's easier for me to justify the hype with an opulent, highly contrasted fragrance than a relatively gauzy comforting one like Theorema.

But the more I wear it, the more I start to see that its rather translucent approach to a gourmand oriental is actually its strength. It perfectly showcases Christine Nagel's skill to make a perfume satisfyingly delicious and cozy without being suffocating, which is probably the reason why Theorema has such a wide appeal. This type of sheer gourmand being quite popular these days, I imagine Theorema might work quite well if it was introduced in today's Hermès or another designer brand's exclusive collection.

I would hesitate to recommend it because of its rarity, but if you're looking for a soft cozy ambery fragrance reminiscent of Christmas cakes and gingerbread and can sample it at a reasonable price, I think Theorema will worth a try.
06th May, 2018

Eau de Citron Noir by Hermès

On my skin, Eau de Citron Noir is dominated by lemon and smoky notes almost in equal measure.

The opening lemon note is wonderful! Its aromatic, almost herbal peel is the first to greet my nose, and the ripe, juicy pulp soon follows. Its tartness is no longer piquant like that of a fresh lemon, but slightly fermented like the luscious tart-sweetness of confit lemons.

However, the smoky note that appears roughly 20 minutes later, turns out to be a big disappointment to me. It's not the leathery, rounded smokiness of black tea that I had hoped, but the ubiquitous, arid woody amber aromachemicals that are omnipresent in many designer and niche fragrances aiming at a male clientele. I have to admit that this type of ingredients are not among my favourite, but when it's carefully blended within like Mona di Orio Bohea Bohème or Rania J Ambre Loup, at least I can tolerate. However, in Eau de Citron Noir, this smoky note is left in bare spotlight with almost nothing to round its edges, which presents much difficulty for me to appreciate the fragrance in general.

Fortunately, the smoky note finally merges with the lovely lemon note about 1 hour in, and Eau de Citron Noir now maintains this delicious sweet-tart lemon with the acrid woody smoky undertone until it disappears after about 9 hours. The sillage is mostly moderate.

Personally, I enjoy the lemon note very much. Its luscious sweetness balanced by the fermented tartness makes it a rare comforting citrus fragrance for colder months. Sadly, the choice of smoky note is way out of my comfort zone, and its presence actually compromises the beauty of the delectable lemon note instead of creating an unexpected olfactory effect. Therefore, I would recommend it as a warm citrus fragrance, but only to those who are not sensitive to woody amber aromachemicals in general.
28th April, 2018

Archives 69 by Etat Libre d'Orange

Upon wearing Archives 69, I initially thought of it as a regular fruitchouli: ripe sweet plum, rosy fruity pink pepper over a slightly medicinal and earthy patchouli base. However, to my surprise, it doesn't become gooey jammy in texture like many gourmand fruity patchouli does, and it's got a few tricks up its sleeves as well.

Christine Nagel's "rotten fruit" note: an overripe, almost sour mandarine lurks underneath the ripe plum during the opening phase of Archives 69. Its ripened sweetness is a natural extension of the succulent plum, while its sour aftertaste helps to balance the potentially over-the-top fruity sweetness.

Another interesting addition is the camphor. Personally, I don't find it manifests as a distinct element. Rather, it feels like a refreshing breeze blown out of patchouli into the otherwise thick fruity fog. The same goes with the orchid and incense accords. Smell-wise, they feel more like an extension of the fruity notes into floral and woody territories, but texture-wise, they help to maintain a powdery, relatively dry one in order to limit the saccharine sensation.

Besides all of the above, the most interesting part for me, is a prominent balsamic and even slightly cumin-animalic muskiness in the dry down. Combined with the camphor tonality, it actually reminds me of the camphor-cumin pairing of Cadavre Exquis. This combination in Archives 69 is of course a far cry and is extremely diluted and tamed compared to that of Cadavre Exquis, but it still adds an unexpected sensuality to the dominant fruitchouli centerpiece.

Archives 69 has a moderate to soft sillage and a 12h+ longevity on me.

Overall, I still regard Archives 69 primarily as a fruitchouli fragrance, because the sugary plum and the earthy patchouli largely overshadows the other elements on my skin. However, even though these supporting elements only tangentially show themselves, they effectively keep the sweetness at bay. Being usually wary about the syrupy nature of many gourmand fruitchouli, I actually find the slightly powdery texture of Archives 69 much improves its wearability to me. I'd definitely recommend it to those who enjoy fruitchouli combo but would like a few subtle twists embedded within.
25th April, 2018

CiocoRosissimo by Hilde Soliani Profumi

CiocoRosissimo opens with an enchanting duo of rose and chocolate. The chocolate here is like bitter, dark cacao powder, with its dry and almost powdery texture further underscored by the supporting woody base. Contrasting this is the sweet, rich rose, unctuous and decadent like honeyed rose jam and slightly tart, wine-y rose liqueur pouring over the dry chocolate chips.

One interesting element listed here is the grass. Personally, I don't smell any fresh greenness, but rather the sharp, almost spicy aspect that I associate with Leaf Alcohol. Blended with the woody cacao, it actually conveys a nutmeg spiciness to me, bringing in an unexpected dimension to the rose-chocolate duo.

The bitterness and spiciness of chocolate mellow with time, and the fragrance eventually becomes a woody rose with a creamy gourmand undertone and its edge softened by the discreet vanilla.

CiocoRosissimo then remains as such until it disappears after 10 hours. Its sillage is mostly moderate.

I used to love sweet gourmand rose, but lately my tolerance seems to be growing lower and lower, much to my chagrin. Sadly, CiocoRosissimo eventually is a wee bit too sweet for my peronal enjoyment. That being said, I admire the complexity of different notes and the contrasts between them displayed in this fragrance, and would definitely recommend giving it a try, especially if you're looking for a sophisticated rose chocolate fragrance and can handle a certain degree of rosy sweetness.
05th April, 2018

Music For a While by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

The opening of Music For A While is a beautiful lavender that is simultaneously herbal, earthy, caramelised and oily, which recalls to me a similar moment in the opening of the kaleidoscopic lavender of Bogue MEM. While MEM transcends its material to form an olfactory maze, Music For A While is more straightforward in its overall development.

This wonderful lavender is soon joined by juicy citrus and succulent pineapple, with their mouthwateringly sweet tartness and delectable pulpy richness, as if having a bowl of fruit salad next to a lavender field under sunny blue sky. The lavender soon turns more camphoraceous with time, a quality that is enhanced by the similar earthy camphor facet of patchouli. This also allows a smooth transition from the lavender/fruits in the opening to the patchouli/fruits in the dry down. One possible downside of amping up the camphorous character of lavender is the potential link with something asceptic. I myself get this association from time to time, but not strong enough to provoke a negative reaction from me.

When the lavender finally switches its leading place with patchouli after about 4 hours, Music For A While is now a caramelised fruity patchouli with a healthy dose of ethyl maltol, which is reminiscent of the note combination and the structure of Mugler Angel.Music For A While is of course less bombastic and lacks the gooey texture and the dark chocolate of Angel, but I would not be too surprised if someone decided to make a lavender version of Angel and presented it as such. As for vanilla, I personally don't detect it as a well-defined note, but it probably helps to round the edges of the fragrance.

I got an 11-hour longevity and a moderate to soft sillage.

Overall, I quite enjoy Music For A While and find it solidly done, especially the multifaceted opening lavender. The dry down sits comfortably in the gourmand fruity patchouli zone, which is probabaly the zeitgeist of the last two decades of modern perfumery. While I would not say that it’s the best gourmand lavender, it's certainly a more interesting and more layered interpretation among the recent gourmand lavender offerings. If you happen to be searching for a well-balanced gourmand lavender-fruity-patchouli fragrance, I think Music For A While is well worth a try.
21st March, 2018

Hermèssence Muguet Porcelain by Hermès

I've had mixed feeling with Muguet Porcelaine until recently. I found it a transparent, watery, melon-infused lily of the valley very much in line with the general aesthetics of Hermessence. But there is also a strange fuzzy warmth that makes it surprisingly not as fresh and crisp as other green, aqueous lily of the valley.

It's not until I read the astute and poetic review from Patrice Revillard, the perfumer behind the blog Musque-Moi, that I finally realised : yes, it's the civet (or something with a similar effect)! From then on, everything just clicked and fell quickly into place.

Even though Mr. Ellena himself doesn’t specifically affirm, it’s now impossible for me to smell Muguet Porcelaine without referencing Roudnitska and Diorissimo. The iodine-infused melon can be found in quite a few Roudnitska’s creations, especially Diorella and Le Parfum de Thérèse, while civet-laden lily of the valley is one of the most intriguing characters of Diorissimo (although I perceive it more like an indolic jasmine, despite the intention of its creator).

That being said, the smell, the texture and the mood of Muguet Porcelaine are entirely different, notably because Ellena incorporates these tropes into his haiku “writing” style, contrary to the short story of Diorissimo. Arguably, Muguet Porcelaine doesn’t have much significant evolution. The fairly transparent and watery lily of the valley and melon can be perceived right away, with the civet purring in the background with its furry warmth and a touch of saltiness to complement with the melon. However, the tension between the animalic dirtiness and the floral and fruity innocence persists deep into the dry down, where the fragrance eventually manages to unify these two aspects into a sensual skin scent.

I got a 10-hour longevity and a soft sillage.

I have to admit that I’m not among the biggest fans of Ellena. I admire his vision and commitment to perfumery, and many of them are very enjoyable, but I was rarely awed or emotionally touched by his compositions, even though it must not be easy to transform heavy materials into feather-like airiness. But his latest creations for Hermessence, first Cuir d’Ange, and now Muguet Porcelaine, challenged my preconceptions that perfumes can’t be airy, watery or transparent, and sensual animalic at the same time. And the results are fantastic, even though they sometimes don’t seem apparent at first glance. Therefore, I would highly recommend giving Muguet Porcelaine a try, especially if you happened to be looking for a modern airy animalic floral.
20th March, 2018

Aube Rubis by Atelier Des Ors

I was kindly provided the opportunity to test a few Atelier des Ors fragrances(thank you!), and here are my thoughts on Aube Rubis:

I really enjoy the opening of Aube Rubis: a waxy, lipstick-like iris, followed by earthy, dirt-like patchouli and the equally earthy but also somewhat spicy and aromatic sage. This wonderful bouquet is then dusted with nutty, chocolate-y praline. The juxtaposition of tender sweetness and sharp earthiness is entincing, and it reminds me of the dynamic between patchouli and caramel chocolate in Mugler Angel but in a less violent, more approachable way.

But sort of just collapsed on itself. Out of nowhere, a caramelised amber sweetness, not dissimlar to that in Iris Fauve, starts to permeate everthing. The iris and patchouli are smashed together and become a plum-like nebulous sweetness. Aube Rubis is now a caramelised fruitchouli with occiasional surges of medicinal patchouli, and remains so during its 10-hour longevity. The sillage is moderate throughout its wear on my skin.

To its credit, I find Aube Rubis a more interesting fruitchouli thanks to its dynamic opening, especially the aromatic sage, and it's not among the most sugary fruitchouli, either. But the more or less conventional fruity gourmand patchouli dry down still left me disappointed. I would be hesitant to recommend it unless you're looking for a sweet fruity patchouli and has a sizeable budget.
09th March, 2018

Rose Omeyyade by Atelier Des Ors

Thanks to a blogger friend, I was able to sample a few Atelier des Ors fragrances(thank you!). Here are my experiences on Rose Omeyyade:

The fragrance opens with a big boom of gourmand rose and raspberry. It smells simultaneously jammy and boozy, as if the delicate rose petals are dipped in raspberry jam and rose liqueur, then coated with sugar crystals. The honeyed delicacy and the liqueur aspects remind me of the opening of Lancôme Parfait de Rôses without the geranium-like greenery, while the jammy aspect and the toffee-like thick texture make me think of Jo Malone Velvet Rose & Oud. While the rose-raspberry combination here is unabashedly sweet and gourmand, there is also a very noticeable fruity tartness that helps to balance the sweetness, which I don't encounter very often in gourmand rose-oud-raspberry fragrances.

The rose-raspberry rampage calms down after about 1 hour, when the woody base starts to insert itself and eventually becomes an equal player. I don't smell oud in a well defined manner, but more like a smoky musky woody element that helps to restrain the jammy sweetness of rose. During the next three hours, it does succeed in undercutting the gooey texture to prevent the rose becoming too cloying. However, as the synthetic woody base grows even more prominent with time, it unfortunately turns a bit too screechy for my taste in the end, even though the honeyed ruby rose liqueur in the dry down is delightfully delectable.

I got an overall longevity of 10 hours and a heavy to moderate sillage.

Because jammy rose-oud-raspberry is not really my jam, my lukewarm response to Rose Omeyyade is to be expected. But at the same time, I find it among the less sweet in the gourmand rose-oud category, thanks to a more perceivable fruity tartness and the dry woody base, and I really enjoyed the honey rose liqueur dry down despite the woody elements turning a bit too raspy for my liking. If you happen to be looking for a gourmand rose jam/liqueur fragrance, I think Rose Omeyyade beig solidly made, might well worth a try.
09th March, 2018

Larmes du Désert by Atelier Des Ors

Thanks to a blogger friend, I was able to test a few Atelier des Ors offerings(thank you!). Here are my thoughts on Larmes du Désert:

As its name indicates, Larmes du Désert is all about resins. Olibanum, myrrh, labdanum and benzoin all make an appearance, but most of the time, they're seamlessly interwoven into each other and merely show a certain facet from time to time.

The fragrance opens with the bracingly cool and stony smoke of olibanum, flankered by the musty sizzles of myrrh and the aromatic woody freshness of cypress. However, Larmes du Désert does not feel as aloof or austere as Avignon or L'Eau Trois for example. Because there is this mild balsamic and fleshly warmth of labdanum and cinnamon-tinged benzoin that soften the overall harshness of incense. There is also a discreet plum-like sweetness lurking in the background, although I don't know where it stems from. As a result, Larmes du Désert is like a fantasy painting of desert, where one can admire the tawny landscape but doesn't have to endure the hardship of an actual desert.

Like most Atelier des Ors perfumes, Larmes du Désert is largely linear during its 10-hour longevity, although the sillage is rather soft except for the moderately projecting first hour.

While I personally prefer an incense fragrance with a more stark constrast between its coldness and warmth, Larmes du Désert is nontheless very enjoyable and solid. Its strength actually comes from the unification of the cold incense and warm amber and its smooth execution. If you happen to be looking for an elegant and verstaile incense fragrance, Larmes du Désert might well worth a try.
09th March, 2018

Tempo by Diptyque

Tempo is foremost a patchouli fragrance on my skin, albeit an exceptionally gentle one at that. Upon spraying, the spicy, medicinal and woody aspects of patchouli are there, but they feel so soft and tender that I start to imagine a baby patchouli if there ever was one. The creamy and gently powdered cacao nuance also makes an appearance, which further stretches the innocent feeling of this patchouli.

Although I love patchouli in general, I very often gravitate towards those more earthy, darker, bitter chocolate type of interpretations of this fantastically complex note. And when the patchouli is stripped clean and appears bright in mood, I tend to find them too sweet for my taste. Thanks to the overall gentleness of Tempo, I didn't find its sweetness unbearable to me, but not far though.

Thankfully, the sage and maté soon come to rescue, subduing the fruity sweetness of pink pepper with their herbal and slightly bitter aroma. Tempo then remains this occasionally medicinal and woody-cacao, but mostly herbal patchouli skin scent until the end. Although the fragrance is not dense, it projects moderately. The longevity is around 8 hours on me.

I personally don't care much about Tempo because of my own preferences regarding patchouli in perfumery. However, being one of the most mild patchouli fragrances that I smelt, Tempo might be a quite friendly start point to further explore patchouli, or an unobtrusive patchouli for daily routine thanks to it retaining the quiet elegance of modern Diptyque fragrances.
06th March, 2018
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Fleur de Peaux by Diptyque

Fleur de Peau opens with a lovely iris on my skin: slightly carroty and mostly woody. There is nothing overly metallic or rooty, nor is it excessively starchy thanks to a discreet buttery sensation of orris.

What soon follows is a soft, vaporous white musk light as a feather. Tiny sparkles of fruity spiciness and fruity liqueur nuances stemming respectively from pink pepper and ambrette pop out here and there, but are rather short-lived. The musk feels mostly clean without evoking laundry products, partly owing to the vegetal sensation of ambrette.

Iris and musk then start this long, graceful waltz. There is at first a very faint animalic nuance about 30 minutes after initial spray. Combined with the soft creaminess of iris, it creates a fleeting illusion of a plush yet lightweight suede. Later on, as this humming warmth dissipates, the airy musk is infused with this cool, almost minty sensation of geranium and the fluffy, delicate sweetness of heliotrope. The resulting chiffony skin scent is at times clean and vegetal, and sensual with a delicate musky sweetness.

I suppose the name comes from "à fleur de peau" in French, and it indeed stays extremely close to skin. I actually got a 9-hour longevity, but as the scent itself is very diaphanous, I frequently thought it disappeared, only to find it still lurking around when sticking my nose on my wrist. And the last 3 hours mostly smells like the kind fo clean white musk in the late dry down of Penhaligon's The Revenge of Lady Blanche and Byredo Blanche.

While I'm not bowled over by Fleur de Peau, as a fragrance inspired by clean skin scent, it's solidly made in the effortless elegant style of Diptyque, easygoing without being banal. I'd definitely recommend it to those who are looking for a gauzy musky skin scent with a beautiful iris touch.
06th March, 2018

Cuir Sacré by Atelier Des Ors

I was kindly provided samples of a few offerings from Atelier des Ors by a blogger friend(thank you!). Here is my experience with Cuir Sacré:

On my skin, Cuir Sacré is primarily a vetiver fragrance, contrary to what the name might imply. At first glance (or sniff should I say), the fragrance seems quite linear and simplistic. But upon close inspection, different notes do demonstrate their distinct facets even though they're overall very well blended.

Cuir Sacré opens with aromatic, fresh, almost crisp juniper berries and vetiver. The vetiver here has some of its woody, salty smoky ham-like aspects, grapefruit-like sourness and even mineral tonalities, but it feels essentially awashed and pale. It recalls to me the bleached vetiver in Frederic Malle Vétiver Extraordinaire, a type of vetiver interpretation that I have had hard time with.

However, what makes Cuir Sacré much more interesting and wearable for me, is the wonderfully fleshly cardamom-saffron-creamy leather accord that I also enjoyed a lot in the opening of Lune Féline. The spices here are much more demure than in Lune Féline, and the leather is more like an abstract velvety texture. But they effectively cast a soft tanned glow on the pale face of vetiver.

Cuir Sacré doesn't go under any significant change once all the elements are in place. I can catch glimpses of the green woody sparkles of cypress, but generally speaking, the fragrance remains a gently spiced vetiver through and through during its 8-hour longevity. The sillage is also quite intimate. It generally stays very close to skin, and the fragrance feels rather airy and transparent.

Because of my personal preference to a darker, more robust vetiver interpretation, Cuir Sacré ultimately doesn't suit my personal use, but I thouroughly enjoyed the delicate yet carnal cardamom-saffron spices. I would definitely recommend it as a modern, sleek vetiver fragrance, especially to fans of Vétiver Extraordinaire but would like a bit more sensual warmth.
06th March, 2018

Lune Féline by Atelier Des Ors

I was kindly given the opportunity by a blogger friend (thank you!) to test a few Atelier des Ors offerings, here are my thoughts on Lune Féline:

The cardamom-dominated opening 30 minutes of Lune Féline on my skin is wonderful! And it makes me want to embark on an olfactory journey to explore more cardamom-prominent perfumes!

The cardamom here is paired with ginger. Together they're spicy and woody as expected, yet also have sparkles of an almost green freshness. This creates a lovely contrast with the thick, doughy vanilla in the base, still dormant at the moment and not yet having revealed its true power.

10 minutes in, something unexpected but thouroughly enticing happens: besides the spicy woody aspect of cardamom, a salty and somewhat meaty nuance rises as well. Maybe it's a combined effect of cinnamon, styrax and ambergris accord, of which I'm not entirely sure, but what I know is that it transfoms the aromatic cardamom into a fleshly, even carnal spice like clove and cinnamon sometimes can be as well. There is also a soft fruity spiciness discreetly gaining momentum, Combined with the fuzzy woody texture of various spices and the soft creaminess of the not-yet-awaken vanilla, Lune Féline smells almost like a delectable saffron-cardamom rice pudding!

If Lune Féline contines as such, I might have found my Arkenstone of cardamom fragrance, but as fate would have it, the giant beast of vanilla awakens and scorches the earth into gooey toffee and burnt cotton candy. The syrupy amber also bursts from underneath like molten lava. The combined effect of these two elements is a boozy plum-like amber-vanilla that I struggle with in general, and is reminiscent of the similar syrupy plum aspect in other boozy vanilla such as Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille or Annick Goutal Nuit et Confidences in broad strokes.

Lune Féline then remains as this gourmand boozy vanilla during its long dry down. The woody yet fleshly spices try to make a comeback but never succeed. Occasionally, when the syrupiness softens a little, the woody, slightly powdery vanilla reminds me of vanilla-scented sunflower seed fairly popular in China, but the caramelised syrupy amber is still very much present until the end.

Lune Féline has a heavy-to-moderate sillage and an excellent longevity of almost 12 hours.

Because my tolerance of boozy ambery vanilla is fairly low, Lune Féline is too intensely sweet for my personal taste. However, the fleshly cardamom opening is very impressive to my nose, and I think it's well worth a sniff for a cardamom fan even if one is not so keen on gourmand boozy vanilla. Additionally, I'd also recommend it to those who enjoy boozy, caramelised amber/vanilla in general but would like a more spicy, cardamom-laden variation.
02nd March, 2018

Iris Fauve by Atelier Des Ors

I was kindly given the opportunity by a dear blogger friend to test a few fragrances from Atelier des Ors (thank you!), and here are my experiences with Iris Fauve:

Iris Fauve can be translated into English as Tawny Iris, and it turns out that it's mostly tawny but not much iris on my skin. Upon spraying Iris Fauve, there is a very brief glimpse of aromatic bergamot. The fragrance is then swiftly dominated by an imposing cloud of the dry, hay-like fuzzy spiciness of tonka bean and the syrupy caramel sweetness of amber, hence my association with the tawny colour.

As long as I make an effort to look through the opaque cloud of tonka and amber, yes, the iris and a few other listed notes are all there. The iris here is not the grey, rooty, haunting melancholy, nor is it the sensual, buttery tenderness that will melt one's heart, but a woody, doughy and somehow malleable chameleon that binds the other notes altogether. The warm, sweet woody spiciness of cinnamon is sprinkled on top of this iris dough like a fancy cinnamon roll, while the smoky, slightly sour faux-oud smell of cypriol and vetiver stirs in the background to add an exotic touch.

However, as a whole, these interesting interactions are largely engulfed by the massive canopy of spicy, fougere-toned tonka and caramel amber, especially in its heavy-to-moderate sillage. And there isn't any significant evolution during its 10-hour longevity. If I don't pay much attention to the details, Iris Fauve wears mostly like a smoldering, sugary spicy amber-tonka-dominated oriental fougere that has a more pronounced tobacco facette in the dry down, and I wouldn't particularly think of iris if I had not known the name. As a result, I would not recommend it as an iris fragrance in the conventional sense, but rather put it in the subcategory of sweet amber fragrances with an iris nuance such as Jacques Fath Bel Ambre and Juliette Has A Gun Calamity J, or link its tobacco dry down with tobacco-iris such as Diptyque Volutes.
01st March, 2018

Oud Minérale by Tom Ford

Oud Minérale opens with a sea spray note that is iodised and mineral, like sand and pebbles by the sea, which strongly reminds me of the similar accords in L'Artisan Parfumeur Un Air de Bretagne and Hermès Eau des Merveilles Bleue, both released in the same as Oud Minérale.

However, unlike the other two that breath air into this sea spray accord with sparkling citrus, Oud Minérale is sturdy and relentless, without much else to support the iodised accord. As I'm not that into marine accords in general, this head-on crash with the sea spray opening does not appeal to me personally.

As this mineral and marine accord mellows with time, other nuances begin to make themselves known starting from the 2nd hour, with predominantly the aromatic pepperiness and fresh aquatic cucumber ebbing and waning from time to time. All of these rests on an abstract and very lightweight resinous woody base, and I don't recognise any oud in natural or popular synthetic reconstructions.

Oud Minérale then just keeps getting more nebulous and becomes a slightly salty, abstract skin scent. The longevity is at least 7 hours, while the sillage is mostly close to skin.

As a new generation of aquatic/marine fragrances, the mineral sand/pebbles effect itself is quite refreshing to the genre. However, after smelling three marine fragrances with this very similar accord in a row, while Oud Minérale is certainly adequate, I did not find it significantly more interesting than the other two. A rich oud could have been a very interesting, if not challenging, companion to the marine accord, But instead, Oud Minérale plays safe and lays a vague, soft woody base.

If you're looking for a slightly masculine, iodised marine fragrance and has less limit on budget, you may want to try Oud Minérale. However, I would not recommend it as an oud fragrance, because it plays only a minor role at best in this fragrance.
09th February, 2018

Cabotine by Grès

Cabotine opens like tuberoses grown from earth. Sweet flowers accompanied by earthiness and greenness. Then it evolves into a scent very similar to Dove soap if my memory recalls well. Soapy at first, then it mellows and becomes less sharp. After about 3 hours, jasmine becomes prominent among all the floral notes but not overpowering. It then continues the ode to flowers for another 7 hours.

Cabotine is like a garden. It doesn't punch into face like a bouquet of various flowers. The flowers shows themsevles one after another along the path of the evolution of the fragrance while still in harmony. I can't pick any green or woody notes distinctively, but I can certainly feel their efforts balancing the whole fragrance. The sillage is quite good, but it doesn't smell heavy, more like flowers brought by the wind, floating in the air. The longevity is between 10 and 12 hours.

A wonderful fragrance for spring!

Originally written in 2013
08th February, 2018

Angel: Les Parfums de Cuir by Thierry Mugler

I don't get much leather in the opening. It's like a more fruitier and less thick version of Angel. During the development, the leather note gets more and more evident but still difficult to pick it distinctively. It's blended in patchouli and sweetness. The drydown is mainly chocolate-caramel, some patchouli and some leather, and it's less sweet and has a more masculine vibe than the original. The longevity is like the long lasting original but the sillage is much closer.

I appreciate the more prominent fruity aspect and the well blended leather among the whole composition as I'm not fan of strong leather scent like Shalimar. I'd recommend it based on that. However, if you're looking for a distinctive leather note, I don't think this version of Angel will satisfy you.

Edit: It's interesting that when I wear it in winter, the leather note is quite noticeable especially in the opening. It's refined and slightly rubbery. Combined with patchouli and fruits, it feels like a new leather bag which happens to catch a few drops of Angel.
07th February, 2018

In Black by J del Pozo

I get sour cherry and licorice all the way through the development of In Black. The opening is a strong combination of these two notes. It smells like sugary cherries pickled in liqueur or dried fruits type cherries. It's very sweet, but well balanced with the woodiness of licorice, smells edible and addictive.

Towards the drydown, jasmine and vanilla seem to be amplified on me and the whole scent turns from oriental-fruity-gourmand to a more floral fragrance. Nevertheless, thanks to the always present cherry and licorice, the jasmine + sweet vanilla combo in In Black has its very own caracter. The sillage is not bad for an EDT and the longevity is around 7h.

I don't find it particularly 'dark' but I do agree with the similarity to Lolita Lempicka universe. It kind of switches between girl and woman, playfulness and maturity, like mystery under an innocent face.

Origianlly written in 2013.
06th February, 2018

Mortal Skin by Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777

Mortal Skin is quite an abstract perfume on my skin. The notes blend and percolate through each other, that the smell as a whole, feels like an object exhibiting inflections of different notes. The evolution also takes place in a incremental manner, although three different phases can be distinguished on my skin.

The first 30 minutes of Mortal Skin is a chewy, almost chalk-like musk to my nose, with abstract berry sweetness and clean "ozonic" feeling lifting the fragrance up without actually smelling like marine or ozonic elements, which is probably the "ink" referred to in the note list.

The woody elements then become stronger with time, as well as the berry sweetness turns more sugary in parallel. There is also an almost oily creamy resin undertone and a saffron-like bitter fruitiness. The combined effect of musky, resinous and slightly inky wood and sweet berries, actually strongly reminds me of the synthetic oud dry down in certain western brands.

Like many western "oud" fragrances, Mortal Skin turns drier towards the dry down, but thankfully not as harsh as a few overdosed by woody amber aromachemicals. A simultaneously balmy, date-like and cool, mineral myrrh also comes to rescue, which makes a sweet balsamic berry skin scent with an interesting bitter twang.

Mortal Skin stays mostly close to skin and lasts about at least 9 hours.

I find it interesting that Mortal Skin is not as heavy as the note list suggests, which allows me to enjoy the fragrance even though I'm not so keen on occidental "oud" and sweet berry in general. But it also leaves me somewhat underwhelmed by this overall nebulous trail, especially at this price. If you happen to be looking for a soft, sweet "oud" and myrrh fragrance and has less limit on budget, Mortal Skin might be a contender, but I would otherwise hesitate to recommend it due to its price and accessibility.
05th February, 2018

In White by J del Pozo

When I first sprayed once on my wrist, I get bamboo and some citrus. Then I seemed to become anosmic to In White, I could barely smell anything. So I spray a second time, which I should not have.

A powdery white flower bomb exploded, mixed with a nasty earthiness, almost got me nauseated. Fortunately after about 1 hour, the white flowers calmed down. I could hardly pick distinctive floral notes, but I get some caracteristics of jasmine, orange blossom and magnolia. There is also some greenness contracting with white flowers, preventing it from overpowering. It sits close to skin as a very feminine scent for about 7 hours. I spent a pleasant time once it settled down.

I can't say I'm in love, but In White is really really not bad. I'd recommend it as an affordable white flower fragrance. However, if you're not a die hard white flower fan, you might need to be careful while applying.
04th February, 2018

Quasar by J del Pozo

I have to confess that at first I was mostly attracted by the marketing elements of Quasar. The futuristic bottle looks like a device in some science fiction and the name Quasar suggests something radiant and full of energy. Well, what I smell might not match its appearance.

The opening smells like some typical men's cologne. But it soon evolves into a smooth banana milkshake. Yummy! At the same time, I can smell some greenness, as if the milkshake is made with some real fresh banana. After 2 hours, the banana notes mellows to the background. What settles on the skin is a soft lavander smell. It stays very close to skin and lingers about 6h.

I wish the banana milkshake scent could stay a little longer. But it's just my personal taste. I still like it very much as it is. It's very refreshing in summer. If you're looking for a non-aquatic fresh fragrance for summer, I'd recommend Quasar.
02nd February, 2018

Miroir, Miroir: Miroir des Secrets / Mirror of Secrets by Thierry Mugler

The aldehyde is dominant from the beginning until the end. In the first few hours, I can also smell some sort of greeness like while sniffing a fresh orange with leaves. Then the aldehyde mellows down and some delicate sweetness emerges out. I'm not sure if it's an illusion or the sweetness is real, but it's pleasant while contrasting with the sharp aldehyde. A clean soapy scent in the spirit of simplicity. Among the 4 Miroirs for women released in 2008, this might be the closest to a unisex fragrance.

The sillage is quite good for the first 9 hours. Even with one spritz, I can always feel the fragrance cloud embracing me. After that, it continues to stay close to skin for a period of time. Though I describe it clean, I tend to avoid wearing it on a really hot day as it might get too sharp for my taste.

Originally written in 2013.
28th January, 2018

Salt Air by Demeter Fragrance Library

The name says everything about it: a concentrated breeze of air brought by the wave hitting the shore. It's fresh, airy, and very salty! The opening is very strong. Towards the drydown I can also get some smell reminding me of sand. The sillage is pretty close to skin and it lasts about 5 hours on me. It's a fun fragrance while you're craving for sea. I haven't yet tried layering it but I think it's a good option.

Originally written in 2013.
27th January, 2018

L'Air du Temps by Nina Ricci

The opening is very strong with carnation and cloves and it smells very synthetic to me. I was amost scared off and wondered how this can be named 'l'Air du Temps'.

All I had to do is wait. The strong irritating scents mellow in to a warm powdery, yet oddly, fresh scent. I can feel some sweet flowers and some soft spices. The whole mixture is in fact cozy, but unusual. It lives up to its name, l'Air du Temps.

I still don't like the opening. However, the drydown is lovely enough to encouraging me to wear it again and again. Who knows? I might actually love it after going through my mini.

Originally written in 2013.
26th January, 2018

Vanille Fatale by Tom Ford

On my skin, there isn't much of any evolution in Vanille Fatale. It's a soft, velvety, slightly floral and milky vanilla right from the beginning until the end, and there isn't any substantial woody, smoky or boozy aspects that manifests on my skin.

During the first 2 hours, I can indeed detect a cereal-like note hiding underneath the milky, slightly oily vanilla, which must be the barley note mentioned in the pyramid. Afterwards, it turns into an abstract, subtle woody/powdery texture in order to keep vanilla from turning excessively creamy. I quite enjoy this stage of Vanille Fatale, which reminds me of the soft vanilla sugar powder in Van Cleef & Arpels Orchidée Vanille. However, this delicately dry undertone keeps veering off its initial course and turning screechy in the late dry down. Granted, it's far from being as aggressive as in certain "smoky" fragrances,but this sharp insurgence is jarring next to the gentle, smooth vanilla.

Vanille Fatale is mostly a skin scent and lasts about 9 hours on my skin.

Despite the occasional screeches, Vanille Fatale is overall a pretty, velvety, slightly feminine vanilla that is quite enjoyable and is restrained on its sweetness. But at the same time, it's uncomplicated and over-reliant on the smoothness of vanilla that it evetually appears flat and uninspiring to me. I can not deny that it would make a versatile everyday vanilla fragrance, but at its current price, I would hesitate to recommend it considering that there's no shortage of more affordable vanilla fragrances either more interesting or as versatile as Vanille Fatale.
26th January, 2018

Amethyst by Lalique

Lalique Amethyst opens like a basket full of black currants, blueberries and blackberries. And dare I say, the real berries! Not cloying sweet berry-flavour, but juicy, green, fresh, with a hint of acedity.

The transition to the floral heart is smooth. Without noticing, peony, rose and ylang-ylang are already there. The pepper adds some sharpness to the soft scent, like spikes on the stem of a rose. The delicious fruits are still present and smell sweeter than in the opening. But the sweetness is fortunately still in a subtle way, as if the berries have ripened during the development of the fragrance. The sillage is soft and the longevity is 7h+.

It's not a conventional girly floral-fruity fragrance. To me, it's an ode to the nature, the summer in forests. And I agree with tommy_girl that it focuses more on mind than body. I'd recommend it if someone's looking for a fragrance that smells like real berries. However, I suggest testing prior to buying as it's rather sharp during the first hours of development.

Originally written in 2013
24th January, 2018

Un Jardin Après La Mousson by Hermès

I don't know why but I had a misconception that the whole Jardin series must all be soft scents. So I gave myself several good spritzes and oh my! How spicy!

Ginger and Cardamom are the most prominent to my nose. It's a juicy ginger smell and it gives a cold and wet feeling, which goes well with 'Après la Mousson'. Though I've never been to India, I would imagine Kenzo Jungle l'Elephant is India under the sun, while Après la Mousson is India after the rain. I'd love to wear it in summer for its cold and wet attitude, and in winter for its spiciness. A fragrance with edges but versatile as well.

Originally written in 2013
20th January, 2018