Perfume Reviews

Reviews by valkilmer

Total Reviews: 8

Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche

If you haven't smelled this, and your expectation of it is based on its ignominious place in popular culture, you might be surprised to discover that it smells like Christmas trees.

That's right. Drakkar Noir is primarily based around a dry (not sweet), prickly, sticky pine sap smell. Thankfully, it doesn't remind one so much of a certain household cleaning product as of actual green pine needles, freshly fallen pine cones, and the sticky, jagged limbs of a Christmas tree. It's essentially that (rather nice) smell, surrounded in a big pillowy cloud of dryer exhaust, redolent with the soapy, lavendery perfume of fabric softener. This laundry smell is due to the notoriously heavy dose of dihydromyrcenol. Pine and laundry is a weird combination, to be sure, but it's testament to Drakkar's commercial persistence that the accord somehow makes sense.

Does it smell sexy, manly, macho, horny, crude, disgusting, cheap, ridiculous? (I.e., any of the things you might expect given its status as a recurring punchline?) Nah, not really. It has a sort of whimsical old man vibe. Like something you might encounter in the presence of Dr. Seuss.

Anyway, on me it lasts all day, and so long as you don't overspray it's not too loud. As the day wears on, the pine recedes, and what remains takes on a sort of odd but fresh Gestalt. I can't see this becoming a staple of my wardrobe, but it would be fun to keep around and perhaps wear during the winter holidays.
12th November, 2018

Givenchy Gentleman by Givenchy

This is one of the holy grails of male fragrance.

Initially it’s an almost overwhelmingly acrid, manly stench; the civet is sulphuric, uncompromising.

It gradually calms down to a kingly, smoldering, fiery patchouli concoction that brings to mind body heat and sex.

I hope Givenchy never stops making it.

09th October, 2018

Zegna Uomo by Ermenegildo Zegna

If you were to scoop out the fruit from a honeydew melon and leave a watery nectar on the rind, that's primarily what this smells like on my skin. There is a bit of pepper, and a nice sage note behind the melon. The overall impression makes me think of Aloe Vera, with its barely detectable "cytoplasmic" smell, and cucumber water.

If you want something with bravado, darkness, or machismo this couldn't be less like what you're after. This is like splashing your face with cold lagoon water brought to you in a hollowed out melon rind. It's fresh and mild and even a little sexy in an indirect way, insofar as it almost hints at clean nude skin.

Projection is light, which suits the simplicity and cleanliness of the scent. Also, the juice itself is fairly weak. You could easily wear two or three sprays and only be noticed by people close to you. It's a bit like an aftershave gel in that respect. It behaves extremely well on a hot day; the scent amps up a bit if you're hot and sweaty, but doesn't get cloying or "perfumey." It's refreshing.

It can be had fairly cheaply online. Lastly, the bottle has a smart, sleek look. Well worth the money you pay, unless you've already got something similar.
28th August, 2018 (last edited: 29th August, 2018)
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Lacoste (original) by Lacoste

The drydown is a fusty reek of cedar, pine and lemon. It's strange to think of this as an "active" scent; I imagine that sweat and body odor would make a nauseating cocktail with this stuff. That said, it's not like I feel compelled to go scrub it off right away. I can sort of appreciate it as a simple concept, but I think Bowling Green executes the idea better.

I agree with photofinish's short review from 2008: "An abrasive fusion of acrid citrus and pine scented, automobile air freshener."
24th August, 2018

Aqua Velva Ice Blue by Williams

It's called "Ice Blue" because of how it feels, not because of the smell. It doesn't sting like Clubman (though it does a little). Rather, it sends a powerful menthol-cooling sensation over your newly shaved face. This lasts a minute or two, and during that time it's hard to focus on the smell or much of anything aside from how your face feels. After the sensation fades, what's left is a faint (but not fleeting) musky, animalic scent: almost the diametric opposite of what you'd expect from a supermarket aftershave, much less one called "Ice Blue". I can't say I find the experience of putting it on all that enjoyable, but I do love the quiet, pleasant masculinity of the smell.
16th August, 2018

Vetiver by Guerlain

This is a powerful, shimmering, unrelenting vetiver fragrance. One spray on my chest steamrolls through my shirt like angry Lou Ferrigno through drywall. Very little evolution over its lifespan on my skin and it is an absolute marathoner---we're talking all day at the office and through the night. It persists noticeably through an evening scrub-down with Ivory soap in a hot shower and is undeniably still lingering on the skin the next morning. The aura this stuff sheds around you is pure and outstanding vetiver. Sniffed up close to the skin (by someone who can stand to approach the blaze), there is depth to appreciate. I mainly appreciate a peppery cedar that stands out in the background---Guerlain did well to set of the strength of the heavy vetiver dosage with something that can at least try to compete.

I feel like I would never want to be without a bottle of this, but it gets tiresome fast. It's not the sort of thing I'd want to wear routinely.
05th August, 2018

Mackie for Men by Bob Mackie

This smells like something I've encountered floating in the air in a few thrift stores and old movie theaters. Primarily a cheap, artificial lime married to a vaguely floral, Glade-potpourri smell that doesn't bring to mind any of the notes listed in the pyramid. Not at all masculine or sexy, or even very human. It reminds me of the Arm & Hammer scented bags we used to buy for our old Kirby vacuum cleaner so that the exhaust didn't smell too much like wet Labrador Retrievers. It's not a disgusting smell, but that's not saying a lot.
30th July, 2018 (last edited: 05th August, 2018)

Bowling Green by Geoffrey Beene

Given the numerous approving reviews, I was initially baffled by this scent. On my skin it opens brutally with a very sharp, juicy lemon spread over resinous, synthetic pine. The effect is not one of freshness, but of bilious chemical sourness, like a 75 cent "Lemon Fresh" pine-tree-shaped car air freshener, or to move to an automotive metaphor that better suggests the scent's funky recesses, like the interior of an elderly man's musty Buick that's been parked in the hot sun after a cheap detailing job left the seats damp with some sort of lemony cleaning product. As the newly-mopped-floor intensity of the opening wanes, the notes don't quickly evolve; it's lemon and foul pine, well into the second quarter.

But, things change. The pine-lemon cleanser eventually stops screaming and recedes, and a soft, unexpected and beguiling duo of patchouli and sandalwood comes in, gently offsetting what remains of those stiff initial notes. The scent improves astonishingly, and evokes in me a memory of an inexpensive Chinese Sandalwood fan I had as a kid that I loved to sniff and that never lost its faint, beautiful smell. Remarkably, after its truly painful beginning, Bowling Green becomes something understated, and rather charming.
30th July, 2018