Perfume Reviews

Reviews by StellaDiverFlynn

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Total Reviews: 121

L'Innommable by Serge Lutens

After last year’s Bourreau des Fleurs, Serge Lutens seems to continue his olfactory exploration of immortelle with this year’s L’Innommable.

The fragrance opens with delicious dried stone fruits. Apricots, plums and peaches are carefully dried under the sun, then spiced up by cumin, piquant but not necessarily sweaty. A few drops of honey and caramel drip from the immortelle and benzoin onto the dried fruits, just enough to complement their sweet flavour without thickening the texture. Finally, a pinch of salt rounds everything up, amping up the gourmand sensation without leveling up the sweetness.

This kind of spicy dried fruits appearing rather frequently in Lutens’ compositions, it’s now widely regarded as one of his olfactory signatures. As a result, L’Innommable instantly pops a few names into my head: Arabie, El Attarine and the aforementioned Bourreau des Fleurs. I didn’t compare them side by side, but from my memory, I’d say the spices, especially the cumin, play a much stronger role and are overall sharper in Arabie than in L’Innommable, while Bourreau des Fleurs feels more caramel-y. El Attarine has the least fruity elements out of these four, but its emphasis on honeyed caramel-cumin duality of immortelle combined with a certain dense animalic muskiness makes it closer to L’Innommable in the dry down.

To be clear, L’Innommable doesn’t have the same muskiness as El Attarine, but it achieves a similar effect via the intermediate of something reminiscent of tuberose and sandalwood. The tuberose is not at all camphorated or diffusively sweet or creamy, but somehow is bent inward and rendered densely nutty by the sandalwood-like nuance. These two emerge from underneath about 1 hour in, lending the dried fruits a surprisingly leathery touch. The combined effect is not dissimilar to the leathery immortelle-tuberose of Histoires de Parfums Tubéreuse 3 Animale.

L’Innommable then stays more or less the same until the end, with occasion woody smokes sizzle through the musky tuberose and leathery dried fruits. The sillage is relatively close with an 8-hour longevity on a hot day.

Overall, I quite enjoy L’Innommable, especially its leathery and musky tuberose twist on the immortelle and his signature spicy dried fruits. However, the fact that it reminds me of several other fragrances does make me pause. Granted, its price, while high-end, is not the most outrageous in that category. But it doesn’t seem as efficient as other more reasonably priced immortelle or immortelle-tuberose fragrances, either. Personally, I’d be more excited if it was released in the regular range, but if you happen to be exploring immortelle in perfumery, it would be interesting to sample too.
17th October, 2018

Le Participe Passé by Serge Lutens

Le Participe Passé opens with fresh mandarine surprisingly coated with tiny sparkles of aldehyde, reminiscent of the similar aldehydic opening of Laine de Verre and Dent de Lait, but of course much much softer in the case of Le Participe Passé.

The fragrance is then swiftly dominated by resins, which I perceive mostly as benzoin and opoponax, surrounded by immortelle and over a slightly boozy woody undertone. They combine to form a soothing, suavely basamic woody smell, which is not unlike Lutens' own Chêne but Le Participe Passé is more resinous in comparison. There are occasional suggestions of caramel and chocolate but they never fully unleash their sweetness. Dried fruits are also hinted, but it smells more like the smooth leathery texture of dried date skin than stewed molasses.

There isn't much of any change once the fragrance settles into the smooth and comforting resinous woody dry down. The sillage is relatively soft, while the longevity is about 8 hours on a hot day.

On its own, I find Le Participe Passé very enjoyable and very fitting to Lutens' signature woody oriental style. But its ressemblance to Chêne leaves me conflicted. I love Chêne and the ressemblance itself is not necessarily problematic, it's that Le Participe Passé feels like a glossed version, with the interesting woody details covered up by sweet resins. While this makes Le Participe Passé more cozy, it loses some characters in return, and it's not like that Chêne was the more difficult or eccentric one among Lutens' offerings to begin with, which it certainly is not.

But still, its price and availability compared to Chêne is definitely an advantage. If you happen to be looking for a versatile, cozy, easy-to-wear woody balsamic fragrance, you may want to give Le Participe Passé a try.
17th October, 2018

Mont de Narcisse by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Mont de Narcisse opens with refreshing bergamot and transparent woody pepper, but soon turns darker with the addition of sweet tart, softly boozy and fleshly plums, and slightly smoky, phenolic birch.

These two opposite aspects are then quickly reconciled thanks to the appearance of the leather. Here, it's slightly rubbery, exhibits a hay-like nuance and a subtle saffron hint as well, but at same time evokes a supple, velvety texture, much like suede. The plum and birch feel like natural complements to the suede. Not only do their olfactory profile overlap, the contrast between the lusciousness of plum and the austere, dry, phenolic aspect of birch enriches the whole suede/leather effect.

The fragrance turns slightly more resinous and more suave in the dry down, thanks to the immortelle rounding it off with its adorable honeyed warmth and smokiness. The sillage is rather close, while the longevity is around 8 hours.

Throughout its development, Mont de Narcisse reminds me of Hermès Cuir d'Ange and Givenchy Cuir Blanc. The former, because the suede note in both fragrances are quite similar, but the suede in Mont de Narcisse is not seen through an ethereal veil of heliotrope nor is it adorned by flickers of cumin like in Cuir d'Ange. Instead, it feels darker and more lavish. Meanwhile, my reminder of Cuir Blanc is mostly due to that both open with lightweight pepper and fresh bergamot, then focus on a suede note. But again, Mont de Narcisse appears richer in layers thanks to the supporting trio of plum, birch and immortelle, while Cuir Blanc chooses white musk to create a cleaner, more luminous effect.

However, as much as I enjoy the overall suede fragrance that is Mont de Narcisse, I can't help but ask:

Where is the narcissus?

Sure, the narcissus might have played a role in summoning a hay-like aspect to the suede note, but it doesn't appear as a clearly defined note any time during the entirety of its development on my skin, at least not in a way that I'm more familiar with, of the enticing juxtaposition of horse, barnyard, hay, green sap and white flowers. Instead, Mont de Narcisse is a suede fragrance through and through. A very lovely one for sure, but for a fragrance whose name literally translates to "hill/mountain of narcissus", I feel a prominent suede fragrance is not what I signed up for.

As a result, I'd refrain from recommending Mont de Narcisse as a narcissus fragrance, but rather a slightly balsamic and suave modern fruity suede fragrance.
12th October, 2018
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Mandarina Corsica by L'Artisan Parfumeur

On my skin, Mandarina Corsica is mostly a play-off between two competing accords, namely juicy mandarin and creamy caramel. The madarin scores first with not only its vividly realistic succulent pulps, but also its slightly bitter, even metallic pith, while the caramel looms around the edge. Then the caramel gathers force in the next two hours to gain equal footing with the mandarin.

The caramel in Mandarina Corsica is thankfully not one-dimensional, saccarine syrupiness. Instead, it has a deliciously milky, unctuous texture mimicking the sensation when a cube of caramel starts to melt on the palate. Moreover, there is also a subtle smoky facet, probably borrowed from the immortelle, that enhances the natural feeling of the caramel note, while a delicate touch of tonka beans' powdery almond nuance rounds everything off.

This middle phase of Mandarina Corsica is my favourite part, not only because the caramel note is well constructed and rich in nuances, but also because its juxtaposition with the juicy pulp and metallic pith of mandarin creates an intriguing tension as well as making the caramel appear less heavy. As a result, I'm reminded of Déliria also from L'Artisan, and Etat Libre d'Orange La Fin du Monde also signed by Quentin Bisch. Not because they smell any similar, but all three have this interesting contrast between various gourmand and metallic elements. I'm also sometimes reminded of Prada Candy at times, as both have an appetizingly unctuous yet not so heavy caramel note, but the mandarine note also plays a strong role in Mandarina Corsica.

The dry down is predictably dominated by the caramel and tonka bean about 5 hours in. Sadly, without the enticing citrus to balance, the caramel and tonka bean tend to become more sugary and flat in the end. The sillage is moderate in general, while the longevity can reach to 10 hours.

I initially dismissed Mandarina Corsica as uninteresting upon first sniff, having thought it's merely capitalzing the gourmand trend. But when the different nuances unfold themselves in the course of its development, I was pleasantly surprised. However, I'm still slightly disappointed by the safe and monotonous dry down, especially because of the potential shown by this surprising juxtapostion of two well realised accords. Nevertheless, I think it's worth at least sampling it, even if gourmand fragrances are not one's favourite genre and just for a fun olfactory experience.
12th October, 2018

Carat by Cartier

The opening of Cartier Carat is surprisingly powerful, with a pungent green sappy aroma reminiscent of hyacinth, but not as quite realistically vegetal and somehow shimmering with a metallic sheen of aldehyde, and even mixed with a hit of that cyanide astringency of bitter almond, like an alien plant gilded in silver metal oozing neon green poison.

Carat takes on a more innocent persona with time, when the initial futuristic green aldehyde aspect dissipates to reveal a pristine, dewy, clean abstract musky floral. I'm unable to identify any specific flower in the note list, but the whole effect reminds me mostly of freesia, adorned with tiny sparkles of mineral and aquatic nuances.

The fragrance then remains more or less the same afterwards, only turning more musky and abstract with time until the end. The sillage of Carat is relatively soft, while the longevity is around 8 hours on me.

Although I'm unable to envision all the rainbow colours implied in press release, Carat indeed evokes sparkling diamonds quite well, from the clean, bright, crystalline musky floral to the mineral/metallic accents. The confident, vigorous green aldehydic opening also leaves a strong impression before the perfume falls back to a more familiar, versatile, modern clean musky floral. If you enjoy this type of fragrance in general but would like something with a stronger personality, Carat is worth considering in my opinion.
28th September, 2018

Nomade by Chloé

Chloé Nomade opens with juicy succulence of Mirabelle plum, sweeter, sunnier and less astringent than regular purple plums. I previously encountered this note in Givenchy Dahlia Divin, in which it tends to be ripen and stewed, quite heavy and opaque, while in Nomade, this Mirabelle plum feels more breezy and fresher, thanks to the powerful current of clean musk and dewy, aquatic freesia blowing from the heart. However, while the fruity and floral notes feel overall quite airy during the first 3 hours, the fragrance has an oddly irritating, scratchy texture especially in its moderate sillage.

Thankfully, Nomade turns smoother in the dry down. With the screechy sillage gone, now the fragrance sits close to skin, revealing a soft musky mossy cushion on which lay a few plums, a combined effect of fruity notes and patchouli. The longevity I got is around 8 hours.

To me, Nomade is a quintessential neo fruity chypre of our modern era. The basic stone fruit + musky mossy base is there, but it's designed as eager to please, sterilised and deprived of any earthy, vegetal or animalic warmth, and with certain aromachemicals to boost its sillage while bringing a grating texture as a sid-effect. However, even though it's not my cup of tea, I appreciate its relative lack of caramel sweetness compared to most gourmand fruitchouli in today's market, and its relative smooth mossy musky dry down. Nomade might be an option to consider for those who are graduating from sweet fruitchouli fragrances but aren't yet ready to step too much out of comfort zone.
28th September, 2018

Champ de Fleurs by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Even though they're not listed in the pyramid, Champ de Fleurs strikes me as a foremost tuberose-gardenia fragrance. The initial opening of the softly bitter grapefruit pith quickly reveals the fleshy heart of tuberose and gardenia. The creamy sweetness is very restrained here, so much so that it feels almost like a nutty sweetness when the cedar starts to whisper in the background later on. The cheese-like butteriness of gardenia purrs quietly under the blanket of clean white musk, just enough to provide a certain intrigue but far from threatening the overall lighthearted mood of the fragrance.

The sillage of Champ de Fleurs is mostly intimate, and it lasts around 6-7 hours on me.

I initially thought of Champ de Fleurs as very similar to La Chasse aux Papillons EDT - one of the most successful L'Artisan Parfumeur offerings, and last year's Roger & Gallet Tubéreuse Hédonie, all three composed by Anne Flipo. After comparing them side by side, I still think that they're interchangeable to a certain extent, as all three share the similar tuberose heart and all three fill the same spot of a pretty, girl-next-door type of tuberose fragrance. But there are still noticeable differences, with Tubéreuse Hédonie being the closest to a tuberose soliflore, exchanging the buttery cheese aspect of gardenia with the vegetal and somewhat chalky undertone of tuberose, while the hay-like nuance of linden blossom in La Chasse aux Papillons becomes much more apparent in comparison. As a result, Champ de Fleurs turns out to be more creamy, more musky and less vegetal, even though marginally so. It's certainly a very wearable, everyday type of tuberose fragrance. Adequate for sure, but I'm afraid it doesn't have much anything new to say, and I doubt it would make much impression to hardcore tuberose fans.
14th September, 2018

Champ de Baies by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Champ de Baies is a rather straightforward red berries solinote fragrance on me.

When sprayed on skin, the fruity sweetness of blackberry and raspberry immediately takes charge. Unfortunately, none of the earthy green tartness of rhubarb or any other vegetal elements come through. Maybe it's because of the eau de cologne concentration, or the lack of a prominent caramel note, the fruity sweetness of red berries thankfully doesn't feel too saccharine. However, Champ de Baies is still pretty monotonous throughout its wear.

A clean patchouli pops up here and there with time, but it's mainly a meek cedar-white musk raft that the red berries latch on in the dry down. Champ de Baies now essentially smells like the dry down of the 2006 Nina by Nina Ricci on my skin, albeit slightly more refined and less sweet.

The longevity of Champ de Baies is around 6-7 hours on me, and it stays rather close to skin for the most time.

While the first two instalments of L'Artisan's Cologne series seemingly aim at reinventing eau de cologne, Champ de Baies no longer adheres to the structure, but is more like a diluted version of a conventional sweet red berries-clean musk fragrance. It's surely a pretty perfume, but not necessarily remarkable among the crowded fruity floral genre. I'd recommend it to those who enjoy the dry down of Nina Ricci Nina, but find the first few hours too sweet and have more budget.
13th September, 2018

Eau de Givenchy (2018 version) by Givenchy

The 2018 version of Eau de Givenchy is a quite straightforward eau de cologne on my skin, with a slightly more pronounced feminine touch of tender floral and cottony musk.

The first 3 hours of Eau de Givenchy is dominated by the refreshingly bitter green petit grain and its more floral cousin, the verdant neroli. The orange blossom provides a suave, faintly indolic backdrop, while the various citrus fruits only briefly offer a few glimpses at the very first moment. With Eau de Givenchy focusing more on the petit grain-neroli-orange blossom trio instead of sparkling citrus fruits or Mediterranean aromatic herbs, the fragrance leans more traditionally feminine to my nose.

Its focus on neroli and its cousins also reminds me of Tom Ford Neroli Portofino and Frederic Malle Cologne Indélébile. However, while they're interchangeable to a certain extent, Eau de Givenchy differs more significantly in the dry down, with its more substantial, cotton-y yet slightly metallic musk adding more heft and rendering it more opaque comparing to the sharper, leaner, soapier and somewhat more "robotic" Neroli Portofino, or the more refined and traditional Cologne Indélébile. Although I haven't yet compared them side by side, the prominently musky dry down of Eau de Givenchy is reminiscent of that of Byredo Blanche's to my nose, more than other eau de cologne-type of fragrances.

The sillage of Eau de Givenchy is moderate to soft, while the longevity is at least 8 hours on me.

As I haven't yet had the opportunity to smell the original Eau de Givenchy, I don't have any direct comparison to offer. But there's no doubt that this brand new version of Eau de Givenchy smells like a product conceived to fit and made in our modern era, rather than one trying to convey vintage characteristics.

Without prior knowledge of the original version, I find this 2018's Eau de Givenchy an adequate eau de cologne-style fragrance, centred around green neroli and vaporous, clean white musk, and marginally more feminine than most colognes. Although arguably less polished and less nuanced than many neroli-white musk fragrances put out by well-known niche brands, the price and the accessibility of Eau de Givenchy nevertheless put it at a relative advantage. I'd recommend it as a gateway clean neroli-white musk perfume from mainstream designer brands.
07th September, 2018

Irisoir by Sultan Pasha

Smelling Irisoir, right from the opening, is a deeply satisfying experience to me. The orris is the unequivocal star of the first half hour, an exquisite delicacy of velvety, even buttery richness, violet-tinted woody elegance and just a hint of its rooty quirkiness. At the same time, a honeyed, slightly powdery floral heart steadily grows. Carnation, mimosa, lilac, almond-y helitrope are intricately intertwined into a fleecy bedding over smooth sandalwood and soft balsams, a luxurious, velvety mattress so soothing that the orris could all but fall deep within. This middle phase reminds me quite a bit of L'Heure Bleue, especially the sumptuous extrait de parfum (my reference is one from 90s). But Irisoir has a much stronger presence of orris and less of the anisic spiciness, tonka bean and other oriental elements. As a result, Irisoir feels much more floral in comparison, and more delicate and vibrant as well.

A quiet whisper of peach can be heard throughout the composition as well. It's at first slightly bitter and woody besides its sweet-tart fruitiness, like the flavour close to its stone. When the elegant and enveloping floral heart gradually softens after about 6 hours, the peach gains a bit more prominence. It's now a tender fruity warmth mingled with the dainty, honeyed petals of rose, rendered suede-like thanks to the ever so plush orris. Irisoir maintains this adorably silky skin scent of orris, violet, peach and rose over a discreet salty vetiver until it disappears with a total longevity of at least 10 hours. It mostly stays close to the skin, although it projects slightly during its opening hour.

Irisoir is described by some writers as a close contender to the mythical Iris Gris. As I've never smelt the original vintage version or the reconstructed one in Osmothèque, I can't provide any comparison. But I would say that the peach is more like a supporting actor in this star-studded attar. And the L'Heure Bleue association stemming from its abstract yet nectarous, powdery floral heart, rather evokes to me the perfumery of the early 20s century, like Sultan Pasha himself described it as a tribute to La Belle Epoque. That being said, Irisoir does not feel like a mere copy, but a timeless beauty that truly is inspired by the classic perfumery and moves forward in a certain artisitic direction with the help of quality materials and exquisite blending. I'd highly recommend giving it a try, especially if you are an orris/iris fan or if you enjoy warm floral oriental à la L'Heure Bleue.
29th June, 2018

Scent of Hope by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

DSH Scent of Hope opens with an intense peach note. This peach is no longer the juicy, luscious fruit fresh from the branch, but carefully dried under the sun, having absorbed the warm energy of sunlight. Its sweet-tart flavour and even the discreet bitterness close to the core feel concentrated yet sublimely balanced. This dried fruit sensation is further underscored by the dusty, slightly spicy even anise-y violet, reminiscent of the violet note in Caron Aimez-Moi.

The orris does not manifest itself in a distinctive way on my skin. But after about 40 minutes, when the dusty spicy violet starts to soften, the plush, velvety texture of orris renders the previous dried peach more pulpy again. Underneath the peach flesh, there is also occasionally a papery, even slightly starchy touch, which might be a combined effect of orris and ambrette.

Scent of Hope then maintains this palpable, suede-like peach skin scent during the rest of its development. I can't really discern any other ingredients such as the civet or the moss in it. They help to complete this lavish peach-orris-violet accord rather than distracting from it. The sillage is mostly moderate and it usually stays about 10 hours on my skin.

As I've never smelt vintage Iris Gris or the Osmothèque reconstruction, I can't provide any comparison. When compared to the recently released L'Iris de Fath, the orris in Scent of Hope seems to be more quiet, mostly supporting the radiant peach rather than performing a pas de deux. And it has a stronger presence of a deliciously dusty and anise-y violet in the opening, while its dry down is more homogenous, lacking the multilayers of carnation and green moss in L'Iris de Fath.

Regardless of comparisons which depends mostly on one's preferences, Scent of Hope is definitely beautiful and charismatic. Smelling it really makes me feel sunny, happy and optimistic, thanks to its lush, bright, harmonious blend of peach and orris. Me being a fan of Caron Aimez Moi, that dusty spicy violet in the opening is also a welcoming touch for me. I would definitely recommend giving it a try if you're interested in exploring the magic pairing of peach and orris.
24th June, 2018 (last edited: 26th June, 2018)

Narciso by Narciso Rodriguez

Narciso Eau de Parfum continues the tradition of Narciso Rodriguez's beloved white musk, but this time, contrary to the For Her and Essence lines, the musk in Narciso takes the back seat.

The notes in Narciso seem to be consciously kept undefined and non-realistic. The opening is a dewy, refreshing, even sharp floral that reads more like watery magnolia than gardenia to me, but as a milky, even nutty undertone develops over time, the abstract floral accord gradually shifts towards the direction of gardenia.

Because of its overall nebulous nature, Narciso evolves in an incremental way: the floral sweetness is little by little taken over by an opaque woody amber, further underlined by the prune-like tart-sweetness of rose. While I can understand the aesthetic of deliberately maintaining an artificial, non-natural feeling in a composition and appreciate it in a few innovative fragrances, unfortunately in Narciso, the sharp synthetic cedar, the densely opaque amber, the creamy white musk, and the nebulous sweet floral, all together create an combined effect of plastic doll out of laundry, a smell and an image that I don't particularly enjoy.

The late dry down sees the woody amber fading away, allowing the signature clean patchouli and white musk combination of the For Her series to surface and to stay until it completely disappears after about 10 hours. The sillage is mostly moderate throughout.

Being a fan of the previous For Her and Essence lines, I had high hope for Narciso. But in the end, the Egyptian musk that I find utterly memorable in For Her plays only a minimal role, and the amorphous and intentional artificial interpretation of floral and woody amber, while interesting on paper, eventually rub me the wrong way in execution. Suffice to say that Narciso is not my cup of tea. But I can understand how its opaque, nebulous nature can be seen as a mysterious, enveloping aura. If you enjoy modern clean abstract fragrances in general and are looking for a warm floral ambery musk, you may want to give Narciso a try.
09th June, 2018

Black Afgano by Nasomatto

Given the hype surrounding Black Afgano, the fragrance itself is surprisingly quiet and abstract in general. It opens with a slightly animalic oud accord and acrid burnt incense, but soon mellows into a dense yet clean musk and creamy tobacco, with a discreet amber warmth humming underneath.

Speaking of the cannabis note, I can't vouch for it as I haven't any experience with any kind of drug substance. But the fragrance does have a faint yet sharp herbal twang which I find similar to that in Jardin d'Ecrivains Junky and Smell Bent Mountain HIgh. While this note is fairly strong in Junky and Mountain High, it's really only a whisper in Black Afgano, which I consider primarily a nebulous tobacco oud fragrance.

The fragrance doesn't have much significant development during its almost 11 hour longevity, and remains mostly close to skin.

Black Afgano is consistent in style with the other Nasomatto fragrances, relying heavily on certain synthetic smoky oud accords which unfortunately is not my cup of tea, although Black Afgano is thankfully not as heavy-handed as their later entries. And despite its hype and mystery, it's not that controversial olfactorily speaking. If you enjoy the latest viril woody amber trend, but prefer a relatively quieter fragrance, Black Afgano might be an adequate option to consider.
08th June, 2018
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Angel Fruity Fair by Thierry Mugler

On my skin, Angel Fruity Fair is closer to the original Angel EDP than previous summer flankers such as Eau Sucrée.

Fruity Fair focuses primarily on red berries and the fiercely earthy patchouli that consist of part of Angel's signature accord, and it essentially feels like the original Angel EDP with less tropical fruits and less that deep, almost gooey caramel chocolate. As a result, I find it more streamlined than Angel EDP, but still more dense and more gourmand than the sleek Angel EDT. Moreover, since it lacks the defining note of powdery meringue in Eau Sucrée, I don't find them similar either.

The longevity of Angel Fruity Fair is a solid 10 hours on me, while the sillage is heavy to moderate.

Fruity Fair is of the standard quality of Mugler, which is pretty consistent. However, I don't consider it among those eccentric Mugler flankers that manage to be surprising, innovative yet still retaining the original's signature. In fact, I can't help finding it a bit redundant among Mugler's numerous excellent flankers. Therefore, I think it would be a good option for those who are already fans of Angel but would like a version with less caramel-chocolate and more red berries.
08th June, 2018

Ambre Gris by Pierre Balmain

Balmain Ambre Gris opens with a dash of pink pepper and a massive, sharp, squeaky clean note reminiscent of laundry products, which I don’t particularly care for. But soon enough, the sweet resins and immortelle arrive, and the olfactory landscape of Ambre Gris heads to a more interesting direction.

Benzoin and immortelle impart their languid, caramel-like golden sweetness, with immortelle adding an extra touch of bittersweet licorice alongside with musty myrrh. Despite its enveloping resinous sweetness, the fragrance curiously never feels cloying or overwhelming. Besides a pinch of balmy smoke from guaiac wood, there is also something translating as a cool powderiness akin to iris to my nose that seems to absorb any extra grease.

The most intriguing aspect though, is the initial laundry-like white musk still lurking around, now fully integrated into the resin matrix and behaving like a refreshing breeze over the golden resinous lake. Not only does it lighten the balsamic amber, it also serves as a tantalising radiance to contrast the deeper resins.

The end result is a surprisingly refreshing yet still satisfyingly cozy powdery amber skin scent. Ambre Gris stays comfortably close to skin for a total of 8 hours.

Personally, I don’t think Balmain Ambre Gris aimed at imitating the smell of ambergris, nor does it smell like the samples that I had the chance to test. I’d rather put it in the same category as Hermès Eau des Merveilles, inspired by the intriguing fresh/warm duality of ambergris and reimagining a fragrance around this central concept, even though they don’t smell like each other per se. Although I still struggle with the laundry-like opening on a personal level, overall I think Ambre Gris succeeds in recreating this duality in spirit. If you happen to be looking for a powdery, balmy amber with some freshness and if you don’t mind strong clean musk, Balmain Ambre Gris is well worth a try.
08th June, 2018

Oud Edition by Roberto Cavalli

Roberto Cavalli Oud Edition opens with an oud accord commonly seen in many western exclusive oud fragrances, sharing the leathery, earthy and slight nutty characteristics of cypriol, and devoid of any animalic, musty or musky facets of the oud. A jammy rose discreetly runs underneath, but thankfully never steps out of the shadow. Saffron provides mostly its fuzzy warmth, but none of its tantalising fruity yet bitter medicinal aspects.

The fragrance mostly remains this standard western-style oud, but with one intriguing addition: an incense note reminiscent of clean burnt dirt. Smoky, but not arid or aggressive, and it adds a surprisingly airy vibe to the otherwise dense oud accord.

The perfume doesn't go under any major development. It just becomes more creamy due to the amber and vanilla in the base. The sillage is moderate, and the longevity is around 10 hours.

Roberto Cavalli Oud Edition was released in 2013, right when the oud became so fashionable that every designer brand was producing at least one exclusive oud fragrance. Inevitably, many chose to play safe, only adding minor variation to the common oud accord, which is what this Oud Edition did in my opinion. That being said, this Oud Edition feels surprisingly smooth compared to a few smoky oud fragrances in recent years that rely heavily on certain aggressive, extra-dry woody amber aromachemicals, for which I'm grateful. If you enjoy designer oud fragrances with less emphasis on rose, Roberto Cavalli Oud Edition might be an option to consider.
07th June, 2018

Rubylips by Salvador Dali

Rubylips is mainly a fruity floral on my skin, with a clean, bright patchouli acting as the backbone. The opening sees the red berries dominating over medicinal patchouli, which creates a spiced prune effect prone to many fruitchouli fragrances. Thankfully, since Rubylips doesn’t have notes to imitate caramel or chocolate, the texture is more dry than syrupy.

As time progresses, the red berries are gradually replaced by fresh, slightly aquatic floral evoking waterlily and nebulously a pale rose. Rubylips is now an awashed musky floral gently spiced up by an equally desanitised patchouli. The fragrance does gain slightly more honeyed deep in the dry down, but the overall effect is still a squeaky clean, “shampoo”-like patchouli fruity floral quite ubiquitous nowadays.

The sillage of Rubylips is relatively soft and it can hold up to 8 hours in general.

In itself, Rubylips is not bad at all, and being released in 2004, it does precede many other trending fresh patchouli fruity floral. But at the same time, I don’t find it outstanding in this crowded genre, more like a standard affair. If you enjoy mainstream patchouli fruity floral and can find it at a reasonable price, Rubylips is actually a good deal. But otherwise you won’t miss out much either.
07th June, 2018

Aoud Queen Roses by Montale

Aoud Queen Roses opens with an assertive oud, more rubbery and leathery than musty, animalic or acridly smoky. The oud stays at the front for about 30 minutes, waiting for a ruby rose unfolding its velvety petals before retreating to the sideline.

I was a bit worried at first, that Aoud Queen Roses might subsequently choose the gourmand jammy raspberry-oud-rose path. But fortunately, the fragrance doesn't hesitate to shed most of its spotlight on the vegetal, more natural aspects of the rose: slightly honeyed, but mostly wine-y and tart, with deep red hue of prune and herbal geranium nuances. A medicinal, earthy patchouli is her faithful companion, enhancing the vegetal and wine-like facets of rose without taking away its soliflore status.

When the rose finally grows tired of this dance and fades away after about 7 hours, the patchouli continues to hold on the skin with ambrette, leaving a musky floral trail with a medicinal zing. The sillage is moderate throughout, and the longevity can reach 10 hours.

The development of Aoud Queen Roses is arguably not too complexe, with rose as the center and oud, patchouli and ambrette adding an extra-flavour, all three trustworthy pairings with rose and the execution is well handled. The result is a very effective woody rose, slightly darker than a rose soliflore, but still very recognisably the queenly rose.

Personally speaking, Aoud Queen Roses is not my favourite rose-oud-patchouli fragrance because of its simplicity, as this genre has become quite crowded in recent years and I'd prefer something with a twist or two. That being said, Aoud Queen Roses is still a very solid choice, especially if what you're looking for is closer to a rose soliflore but still has noticeable oud and patchouli in the mix.
06th June, 2018

Night Aoud by Martine Micallef

Micallef Night Aoud opens with medicinal, rubbery oud, and intense, extremely concentrated fruity ylang and peach. The execution of the latter reminds me of the similar narcotic ylang-jasmine opening of Guerlain Samsara extrait and Areej Le Doré Flux de Fleur for example, but in Night Aoud, these undiluted fruity floral sweetness is further paired with the rubbery oud, resulting in a saccharine, synthetic feeling to my perception.

As the intensity of the fragrance gradually diminishes when heading into the dry down, the overwhelming sensation of synthetic sweetness becomes more manageable with time. The oud takes on a fuzzy warmth akin to saffron and its funky woodiness is relegated to the background. The main branch on which the bright sweetness of ylang and peach cling, is now a high-pitched, slightly camphorous patchouli. Although it’s still not enough to temper the sweetness, at least it doesn’t automatically conjures the artificial impression as the combination of oud’s rubberiness and fruity floral sweetness does for me.

Night Aoud becomes more and more enveloping towards the end, thanks to the steady, cocooning warmth of sandalwood, although the sharp fruity sweetness of ylang and peach never truly leaves. The sillage is moderate to soft, and the longevity is around 9 hours.

Curiously, Night Aoud doesn’t feel that dark to me, as its name might suggest. The beaming sweetness of ylang and peach actually makes it feel quite bright and cheerful. The contrast between rubbery oud and hedonistic fruity floral is also an interesting idea, although in practice, the overall effect translates being too synthetic and saccharine for my taste. If you can handle intensely fruity sweetness and are looking for a joyful rendition of oud, Night Aoud might worth a try.
06th June, 2018

Bois d'Hadrien by Annick Goutal

Contrary to Eau d'Hadrien, I can barely smell any lime or lemon in Bois d'Hadrien, only a vague suggestion of a fresh fruity opening. And in a sense true to its name, Bois d'Hadrien indeed feels quite woody. However, these woody notes don't really have any charming characteristics of specific wood, either, but more like an abstract fruity woody note with certain similarities to Cashmeran. And it even turns a bit aridly smoky in the dry down, somewhat similar to the unpleasant effect of certain woody amber aromachemicals quite common these days.

Probably thanks to these potent molecules, the projection of Bois d'Hadrien is rather heavy, and it can cling on skin for at least 10 hours. But in return, I find Bois d'Hadrien lacks urgently the subtle, poetic beauty of previous creations from the house of Goutal. As a result, I would not particularly recommend this fragrance, especially if you happen to be fan of Goutal's offerings before 2012 which feel completely different in style with Bois d'Hadrien.

As a side note, the spray mechanism of the new packaging is much better than the older Goutal sprayer! It gives out a very uniform spray and is much easier to press.
05th June, 2018

Iris Rebelle by Atelier Cologne

The opening of Iris Rebelle would probably put a smile on many iris fans: an almost buttery orris kisses the skin, leaving a subtle smear of her violet lipstick.

However, this phase is sadly very short-lived. Within minutes, the carrot-like earthy nuance of iris briefly makes its turn, before the fragrance swiftly settles into a standard floral woody musk base: a clean, vegetal, ambrette-like white musk with fresh neroli nuance and a vague, slightly peppery woody undertone.

Iris Rebelle then remains this pleasant skin scent until the end. The sillage is mostly soft, while the longevity is around 6 to 7 hours.

Overall, I find Iris Rebelle a very adequate clean floral woody musk, and I quite enjoy wearing it. Although the orris is not as luxurious as I would have liked, its overall transparent, modern approach is perfectly in accordance with Atelier Cologne's "cologne" aesthetics. I would recommend it to those who enjoy iris-neroli fragrances such as Prada Infusion d'Iris, or iris-ambrette fragrances such as Diptyque Fleur de Peau, but would like a more prominent orris note in the opening.
05th June, 2018

Amber Oud by Body Shop

The Body Shop Amber Oud is a fairly simple fragrance. Just as its names indicates, it first starts as an oud note fairly common in today's western interpretations: mostly woody with a hint of sweet berry nuance of rose, and just a tiny bit of animalic suggestion. This oud then turns somewhat nutty and becomes a supporting role to a powdery amber and sweet myrrh.

The fragrance then remains as such until it dissappears after about 8 hours, with occasional whiffs of oud's inkiness and muskiness stirring within the soft amber skin scent after the initial moderate sillage.

Compared to a few high-end western oud fragrances, this The Body Shop offering does feel lacking in nuance and slightly sharper at certain moments. But at the same time, it's far from being as obnoxious and arid as other expensive "oud" fragrances that rely on a stronger olfactory profile of aggressive woody amber aromachemicals. For its price point, it perfectly fullfills its purpose of providing just a small taste of the oud note and being easy to appreciate, nothing more, nothing less.
05th June, 2018

Una Tira l Altra by Hilde Soliani Profumi

To sum up Una Tira L'Altra, it's amarena cherry in a bottle!

The opening blast is powerful and intense, with the dark cherry juice and syrup splashing all over. However, just short of stepping into cherry cough syrup territory, Una Tira L'Altra soon pulls itself together and reveals a mouthwatering tartness among its boozy, succlent fruity sweetness, strongly evoking amarena cherry to me.

The fragrance largely remains unchanged throughout its 10-hour longevity. It just becomes ever slightly more creamy about 4 hours in, hinting at subtle nuances of vanilla and almond but never fully showcase them. The sillage is heavy during its first hour, and remains moderate later on.

Because of its hefty opening of gourmand, syrupy cherry, and its relatively simplistic approach, Una Tira L'Altra might have a fairly narrow audience. But as an amarena cherry solinote fragrance, I honestly think this is one of the most fantastic ones in the current market, if not the most. If you're looking to indulge your nose with a spoonful of amarena cherry, I'd highly recommend giving Una Tira L'Altra a try.
04th June, 2018

Virke by Svensk Parfym

I’d like to first thank Svensk Parfym for the opportunity to test their first six fragrances.

The opening moment of Virke is filled with tart-sweet lemon and a cool, almost medicinal greenery, of which the combined effect reminds me of frozen lime. Soon, a ripe, rosy/fruity sweetness arrives along with a slightly animalic woodiness in order to complete the olfactive profile of raspberry.

However, with all the pieces of a raspberry puzzle present, I was unable to claim that it smells like realistic raspberry to me. One main reason is that its texture is not juicy and sparkling to evoke the sensation of biting into a ripe raspberry, but a bit dry and powdery because of the prominent woody element, sometimes even a bit reminiscent of lipstick. Another reason is that the rosy sweetness and the animalic woody note employed here strongly remind me of the rose-oud accord in many western oud fragrances. Virke is not as heavy or aggressive as many of them, but the association is difficult to shake off in my mind.

With time, the animalic aspect and the ripe fruity sweetness becomes lighter and more translucent thanks to the infusion of a steamy, clean white musk. Virke becomes a rubbery wood and clean musk fragrance tinged with a light pink hue of raspberry sweetness about 3 hours in, and it remains so until it disappears from the skin. The sillage is mostly moderate, while the longevity is about 11 hours on my skin.

As I've become jaded with many western rose-oud fragrances lazily depending on this kind of raspberry-rose-oud accord, I have certain difficulties dealing with the similar accord in Virke. But I really appreciate the addition of musky animalic note to bring the raspberry alive, as many commercial fruity floral focuses solely on its fruity sweetness and smells more like artificial gooey jam. The strong presence of a dry wood also helps to keep the sweetness at bay. If you're looking for a woody raspberry and don't have the same aversion to a certain raspberry-rose-oud accord like me, I think Virke is worth a try.
02nd June, 2018

Stilla by Svensk Parfym

I’d like to first thank Svensk Parfym for the opportunity to test their first six fragrances.

Stilla opens on me as a lovely, authentic grey-purple lavender. Its gritty, aromatic earthiness, and its resinous sweetness are beautifully displayed in the front, while the squeaky clean, metallic aspects - the kind of interpretations of lavender that I struggle with, is nowhere to be found in Stilla.

The icing on the cake though, is a light touch of eucalyptus. It's finely tuned so that it will not sound the medicinal alarm, but enough to evoke the passing feeling of a cool breeze on an early morning,

About 1 hour in, the initial focus on the lavender starts to blur, as the dry woody base and a steamy, clean white musk permeate the lavender field like a morning fog. As the lavender gradually loses its herbal shimmer and becomes dehydrated, its hay-like dry aromaticness weaves seamlessly into the almost incense-like, grey-coloured dry woods.

Stilla then maintains this aromatic, incense-tinted dry woods and nebulous, silver clean musk for the remainder of the 9-hour longevity. At times, I almost crave for something to pop up, to add a bit of ripple to this tranquil lake of white musk with floating aromatic wood log. But at the same time, it does interprets "stillness" successfully. I get a moderate to soft sillage with Stilla.

After smelling all of the first six releases from Svensk Parfym, I find most of them focus on primarily one accord, but care is taken to showcase them in a vibrant way. Moreover, the transition from the opening to the base takes place smoothly and in an incremental manner, as if the camera gradually moves out of focus. Stilla incarnates this aesthetic perfectly, and this results to a relative linear yet naturalistic fragrance that is easy to appreciate without being boring.

What I appreciate the most in Stilla is its vivid lavender. Not only does it avoid the "masculine sports fragrance" cliché, but also refrains from being too clean and too sweet for my taste like Penhaligon's Lavandula and Chanel Jersey did. Its light touch of the usually polarising eucalyptus is also interesting. I believe Stilla manages to present this note in an approachable way without taking away its personality. I would definitely recommend it to those who are on a lavender quest, or to those who would like a clean aromatic skin scent.
02nd June, 2018

Prakt by Svensk Parfym

I’d like to first thank Svensk Parfym for the opportunity to test their first six fragrances.

I'm surprised by how much I enjoy Prakt, as I usually struggles with the two prominent notes here - blackcurrant and blackcurrant leaves: the intense greenness of the blackcurrant leaves in Diptyque L'Ombre dans L'Eau is too fierce for my taste, while the jammy sweetness of blackcurrant in many fruity gourmand fragrances is too overwheming for my liking. But in Prakt, the crunchy, vibant vegetal greenness and the ripe (yet not jammy at all) musky sweetness of blackcurrant and its leaves, along with the earthy tartness of rhubarb, are in perfect balance. And the fragrance really conjures a vivid image of fresh berries and rhubarb to me!

Prakt turns slightly more woody in the dry down and loses a bit of the dewy feeling in the opening, but it mostly remains this natural, realistic fresh berries and lush vegetations throughout its development and never disintegrate into an abstract clean white musk like so many green fragrances with a promising opening do. I sometimes detect a tomato leaf note, mostly because the vegetal, slightly earthy and wet soil-like greenness and fruity tart-sweetness have minor variation in proportions. If I spray a larger quantity on one sport, there's also a slight burnt note that I encountered and struggled with in certain blackcurrant-heavy fragrances, but it doesn't bother me that much as long as I don't indulge myself too much with the spray.

Prakt has a moderate sillage and lasts about 9 hours on my skin.

I agree with many previous reviews that Prakt is a very evocative fragrance perfectly capturing the joy of picking berries and rhubarb in a lush garden at the end of summer. I've been searching on and off for a green blackcurrant fragrance that has the natural lush greenness but not too forceful, has the mouthwatering musky sweetness of the berries but not too sugary, and remains layered and engaging without falling apart into a nebulous clean laundry base. Prakt is pretty close to my ideal blackcurrant fragrance. Based on my personal experience with Prakt, I would highly recommend it to fans of blackcurrant and green fragrances.
02nd June, 2018

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

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