Perfume Reviews

Reviews by mrmorel

Total Reviews: 24

Sådanne by Slumberhouse

Sådanne is a rose with an accent acute—a rose by the name of a pale pink Provençal rosé, with strawberry and stone and a saline funk to match.

This was a surprising love for me. The sample I had didn’t click right away—something about the rose and strawberry led me to think this was more a bleach-blonde type of perfume. But knowing Slumberhouse, that didn’t seem right. And I’m glad I stuck with it. Despite the brand’s well-known linearity, this one settles into an entirely different beast. In fact, the “settle” is more of a “stale”—the berry starts to decay, the bright acidity starts to ferment, and a furry animalic curtain drops. And that’s when things get really good.

Texturally, Sådanne is pretty thick and fleshy, but it masquerades with an obscurant berry brightness. Lingerie over cellulite. I’m into it.
11th May, 2019

Lampblack by Bruno Fazzolari

Smoky, cypriol-laced vetiver with some orange pith in the opening. The texture of this one is interesting—it’s thick and tarry, surprisingly dense given all the fresh notes. The smokiness isn’t woody or airy, but almost leathery. The start of this is dark and dank, but it settles into a masculine-fresh vibe that I find typical of some of Fazzolari’s fragrances. I’d almost call it gentlemanly in the end, but in the brooding, misanthropic way of a film noir private investigator.

It’s cold weather exclusive for me—that tarriness makes it dizzying in any heat—but I have a strong craving to return to it, or at least to return to its perplexities. One day I’ll go through my sample, but we’ll see if I ever go for a full bottle...
04th May, 2019

Kolonya by Rasei Fort

It starts with a lipstick kiss, humid pipe tobacco, and fragmented memories of petitgrain cologne. But this is a whole world at once; it somersaults through moods and evocations—sometimes super femme floral, sometimes masc darkness, all until it lands on this sweet comforting plum with a pepper nuance. I’m not one who believes in perfume progressions—I don’t need a distinct top, heart, and middle—but it sure is magical here.

It wears light, as you’d expect of a cologne, but it lasts, and it certainly doesn’t feel weak or diluted; it casts an aura. There’s a vintage vibe to it, but it’s not at all stuffy. In short, I think it might be amazing. This is one I want to have around for a long time.
04th May, 2019
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Poivre Electrique by Atelier Cologne

The spicy black pepper opening of this is great—it’s kept from being astringent from the fruitiness of the pink pepper, dry cedar, sweet resins, and a very soft rose halo in the background. It’s self-assured but friendly, stylish but uncomplicated. I find most Atelier Cologne fragrances screechy and harsh; this mostly avoids that, but the AC base loves to shout “I’m a perfume!,” and it gets its moment after we find ourselves in the heart. But overall, it’s balanced and rounded in all the ways it should be. It’s very easy to wear, and fairly androgynous—it could skew femme or butch as you wanted it to.

But, with all that positivity, it’s certainly not novel. I’d much rather wear Comme des Garçons’ Blackpepper or Play Black, similar in their peppery top notes but deeper and a little darker in their bases. I recall thinking Blackpepper didn’t last long enough, but whatever it was, it’s surely longer than the hour or two I get out of Poivre Electrique. And then there’s the price. $130 for 30ml? $250 for 100? Sure, you can find it on Fragrancenet and save a bit, but why pay more for fast fashion when you could buy the actual designer outfit?
24th April, 2019

Figuier Ardent by Atelier Cologne

Figuier Ardent is the sportiest, most jock fig scent I can imagine. Super zesty citrus with a sweet but slightly metallic fruit heart, powdery and dry iris carrying it through. It’s completely pleasant, make no mistake, but when compared to the fig-wood masterpiece that is Philosykos? Or even D.S. & Durga’s bergamot and fig composition, Debaser? Then Figuier Ardent looks like nothing more than another designer Blue.

Its DNA is so utterly basic, and the fig so masqueraded behind its varsity letters, that Figuier Ardent is a challenge for me to truly love. I wouldn’t object to smell it on someone else (a handsome, young, muscular sportsman, perhaps?), but on me it rings a little false.
16th April, 2019

Ambergreen by Oliver & Co.

This is not an cologne-style herbal composition as the shiso and basil might have you thinking—it’s cold, bone dry, extremely synthetic, but still somehow approachable. We all have a sense of “green” perfumes—that dewy, wet grass vibe. But this is totally different. It’s sharp, bitter, and astringent. It has the crisp, metallic tang of celery, or of a leaf ripped apart. The ambroxan rings very much like ambergris (and what a pun with the name), bringing a mineral salinity to its core.

It doesn’t evolve much, so that sharpness you get at the beginning is there to stay (for a long time). But that’s sort of the joy of this one. Early spring seems to be its ideal time for me—the first hint of greenery coming out of the bare ground. It’s taken a while to click, but now that it does I find I really enjoy it, even if I find it lacks a bit of pathos. A seasonal wear.
13th April, 2019

Lambrosc by Hilde Soliani Profumi

A friend once mentioned that he wanted to find a perfume that smelled like wine—I’ve taken on that mission as my own.

Lambrosc opens with bright purple “grape”—that kind vaguely reminiscent of concord, but ultimately native only to the candy category; artificial but in a familiar, expected way (what else does grape even smell like??). There’s a mentholated, slightly camphoraceous note on top of that—as if you’ve taken a grape Jolly Rancher to your lips covered in healing ointment. With a stretch of the imagination, you could say this evokes a glass of the cold, effervescent lambrusco from which this perfume receives its name. But… it’s a stretch. I don’t get much progression or a strong base—maybe there’s some moss and white musk lingering back there—just a slow disintegration of that punchy opening.

Not a serious contender for “best wine-like fragrance”—it lacks nuance, funk, all the subtleties that make wine (and perfume, for that matter) beautiful. But we had fun, didn’t we? And as a grape fragrance, it’s pretty enjoyable.
03rd April, 2019

Hana Hiraku by Parfum Satori

The melon opening here is really special—velvety, sweet, a little milky in combination with the tuberose. In fact, it bears a strong resemblance to the cantaloupe-flavored Jelly Belly, even bringing a bit of that waxiness. While I think that suggests its less of a natural melon than a melon with “natural flavors,” its simulacrum is working.

The official notes mention miso and shoyu in the base. Those savory, umami notes are present under the sweet fruity florals, but they’re subtle. Personally, I’d like a bit more of them.

Satori’s perfumes wear *so* lightly that they are almost undetectable to me. Not that they’ve disappeared or fizzled away, they’re still there, just so soft and quiet. Call it Japanese aesthetics if you want, but as a loud American, I could use a little more oomph. That said, its restraint makes it wearable, never loud or cloying. It’s a really nice fragrance, but it doesn’t quite fit my style.
30th March, 2019

Hyde by Hiram Green

Oh boy. I like them tall, dark, and handsome just as much as the next gay, but this is too much. From the vial (vile?), all I got was BBQ, meaty and sticky with sauce. I’ve finally been brave enough to apply it to my skin (just a little, back of the hand), and it thankfully does mellow—yellow florals, the softness of the labdanum, and a hint of vanilla. But like I’ve been tending the grill all afternoon, that tarry, acrid woodsmoke is there to stay.

Hiram Green does impressive things with naturals—I completely see Hyde in line with Slowdive, which I adore. Unfortunately, Hyde does not garner as much appreciation from me. For those looking to cultivate that elegant pitmaster vibe, you’ve found your fragrance. The rest of us—even the smoke lovers amongst us—should only proceed with an abundance of caution.
29th March, 2019

Erawan by Parfums Dusita

Flashback to 1992, visiting my grandmother in Central Florida—her nicotine-stained house, popcorn ceiling yellowing overhead, a vase of small white flowers on an old wooden dresser with a lace doily. It’s grey, humid, and chillier than you expected. The memory is visceral, and recalled precisely by the first 20 minutes of this perfume.

That moment passes, and it settles into soft soft hay with a hint of cedar and vanilla. The tobacco-vibe lingers, but fortunately, it’s a pleasant note, not the stale cigarette of its opening. Some will love this, I’m sure, but I’m haunted by it.
21st March, 2019

Fume by Hendley Perfumes

Fume is almost a forest fire chypre—moss and pine sap intertwined, the former strengthening as it ages on the skin; resinous, sweet, bitter, and a little smoky simultaneously. If La Curie’s Incendo is a campfire in the forest at night, Fume is that fire smoldering the next morning—there’s a lightness to its weight, refracted green light through a density of trees.

It does bear a resemblance to the aforementioned Incendo, and to Slumberhouse’s Norne, but it strikes a balance between these two—forest and fire in equal measure. Because of that, I find Fume to be quite wearable—it refuses the seasonal hallmark of pine-exclusive scents. It’s neither sticky nor cloying; natural and fresh but with deep warmth. I’ve worn it the most of any perfume in my collection this winter. It’s beautiful.
02nd March, 2019

Santal Carmin by Atelier Cologne

Santal Carmin is less focused on sandalwood than I had hoped, but it does conjure some of the ideas sandal would suggest—warm, creamy, hints of spice. There’s a brief (five minute?) lime opening in line with most other AC frags, then the citrus remains as a sherbet sort of sweetness. I find this to be more suede-like as a whole, I guess it’s what they’re calling “saffron” mixed with a hint of “vanilla”—I use quotes because these notes are neither strong nor expressive. But always in the background of this is the “papyrus”, a note AC seems dependent on that I find absolutely atrocious. It appears in so many of their fragrances, and I am at a loss as to why. It’s less pronounced here than it is in some others, but it just adds this unpleasant and grating unnatural sweetness that brings down the whole composition.

Why did I buy so many Atelier Cologne samples at one time? Besides some of the more straightforward citruses, I haven’t found much to love, or even like in the line. Really soft (both in texture and projection), very femme, ultimately pretty boring to me and too compromised by that papyrus. Try Papillon’s Anubis instead… (4/10)
26th December, 2018

Amber Kiso by D.S. & Durga

If I were just paying attention to the notes in this, I would expect dry, smoky woods in the typical DSD style, maybe even bordering on CDG Japanese incense territory. And I’d love it. But this one is truly an amber—rich and sweet, dominated by patchouli, leather, and moss, with a hint of temple incense, dark wood, and a sprig of cypress. It’s less unusual than the description implies, but I have the sense that it’s crafted in a much different way than your traditional amber—I’m finding this almost vanillic sweetness in the patchouli, and more traditional resins are exchanged for Japanese wood notes.

But a traditional amber I still find it to be—that makes it quite different than any previous DSD offerings, but I don’t think it’s entirely different in character from any number of other ambers out there. Of the two ambers DSD released (Amber Teutonic the other), this one is the more conventional. It’s definitely on the femme side of unisex, but still fairly neutral—it’s fairly subdued in the spectrum of ambers. It’s warm and cozy, and quite pleasing in the end, but not unique enough to warrant a purchase from me. And that’s coming from someone with over a dozen bottles of DSD in their collection. (7/10)
22nd December, 2018
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Incendo by La Curie

I love La Curie's perfumes because of the slightly ozonic quality present in them in combination with the dry, arid woods, leather, and herbs. They seem very indicative of the southwest and the place in which they're made, and for that reason I think they're quite special, even if I don't find tremendous diversity throughout the line.

Incendo does well with their signature big sky image. It's the smell of a campfire at a distance, diluted through the cold night air—smoked sage and fir, not sweet and sticky and green but rather smoldering, dry, and crackling. It's a bit simple in the end without many material nuances, but it still plays with quite beautiful complexities of tone—light and dark, smoky and airy, warm and cold. It's streamlined, in a way, and though I may find some similarities with other fragrances in this same category (Slumberhouse's Norne, Profumum's Arso, or Hendley's Fume—all of which I love), it's the differences in Incendo that really sets it apart.

It's a joy to wear, as I've been doing frequently through the fall and into the winter. It's also a joy that La Curie's prices aren't sky-high, and that there are travel-size bottles to buy with abandon and not feel as if you've made a gigantic investment. (8.5/10)
19th December, 2018

Collection 34 : 34 Boulevard Saint Germain Eau de Parfum by Diptyque

Opulent in its intensity, this anniversary signature bears a lot of hallmarks of Diptyque scents without smelling exactly like anything else in particular, but still shares some of the problematic notes you find across the line. Creamy sandalwood, amber, and vanilla at its core, with a floral backdrop and a more camphorous spice overlay from the clove and pink pepper. It's more tart and cool than you'd expect of such a fragrance, which makes it a little interesting, but I find it overpowering—one spray and it's all I can smell for hours. Femme to my nose, but in an intriguing way—slinky, sexy, but a bit androgynous.

I had been curious about this one, but now I can firmly cross it off my list. It's not for me. Too much, too bombastic, with a grating and cloying synthetic hum that I can't shake. But I imagine it would suit some. (5/10)
11th December, 2018

Hermann à Mes Côtés Me Paraissait une Ombre by Etat Libre d'Orange

Hermann is an overpowering, synthetic aquatic that settles, but never enough. Calypsone reigns here—it could be a hypersensitivity, as I frequently am overwhelmed by this element of such fragrances, but the earthy patchouli and floral incense remain all but hidden under this cloying exterior. I wish I were getting the dirty soil, but the best I can extract is a slightly camphorous note that rises just above the surface. It's not compelling to me in the least—a hard pass. [3/10]
27th November, 2018

Burning Barbershop by D.S. & Durga

The effect of this one is stunning. A stereotypical fresh barbershop clean masculine rendered under an amber tint; lavender, vanilla, spearmint, and lime—all in equal measure—behind smoked glass. Not smoke, per se (or at least not in how I think of it more masterfully rendered, in such compositions as La Curie's Incendo, or even DS & Durga's own Mississippi Medicine), but some deeper concentration that brings all those classics to be more themselves, as if roasted. It's quite rich, lasts forever, and projects itself widely. In other words, it's quite the performer should you find it to suit you.

But... it just doesn't suit me, even after trying it a few times over the past few years. Maybe it's too close to some real memories of talcum powder, bad haircuts, and feigned masculinity. But for fans of those classic manly scents looking for something a little grittier, a little more assured, this could be it. (7/10)
28th October, 2018

Mown by Hendley Perfumes

Mown opens with dry blonde hay, fresh tobacco, and chamomile with just a hint of malty sweetness. The savory florals of the chamomile and champaca resonate with the earthier notes—it almost reminds me of a sea of wheat, shimmering warm and slow in the sun at the end of harvest; yellow and brown grasses rather than green. It's a pretty linear (and somewhat subdued) composition, but it gets a little mossier as it ages on the skin (and it sticks around for quite a while).

Fragrances are tied to time and place for me—I first sampled this in the summer and could immediately just feel it was off. I've waited for the weather to cool to brisk fall temperatures, and Mown finally feels right. It's lovely. As I write this in October 2018, it's been out of stock for a few months on Hendley's website, but here's hoping it comes back soon. (8/10)
20th October, 2018

Five by Bruno Fazzolari

This one is not my style, so fans of very fresh cologne type fragrances may choose to ignore me.

This is after a second wearing; during the first time I wore it my partner immediately said, "it smells like a high school locker room in here." Meaning that this stuff projects and announces itself, as few citrus-forward fragrances do. Today I am reminded of a cologne I had as a child—something I think my mom brought me back from France. Heavy on the neroli, citrus, and herbs, it does wear as you would expect a traditional masculine cologne, but with a marine and ozonic quality that others have mentioned. Much fuller-bodied, and much longer-lasting, and a little airier. Bright yellow sun and bright blue sky—both in balance, just not to my taste. I'm impressed at its ability to conjure this image, but don't find it to be particularly novel, just well-executed in its style.

As it wears down, I'm reminded of Irish Spring soap, which I can't say is my favorite smell. In fact, I find the house base to be a bit off-putting in almost every Fazzolari I've tried. It's a lightly powdery sweetness that seems to dominate after a time—but not sugary sweetness, more saccharine, like the difference between stevia and real cane sugar. Not unnatural, but it leaves a strange aftertaste. Not for me, but not as bland or thoughtless as many other citrus fresh scents on the market. (5/10)
17th October, 2018

Cedre Atlas by Atelier Cologne

There are a number of Atelier Colognes that devolve into plain white floral / wood combos—this is definitely one of them. That in and of itself, while not interesting, is at least not awful. But there's some weird and frankly off-putting fruit that I find to be dominating in this composition. Apricot, sure—but very synthetic. The papyrus here is the same from Philtre Ceylan, which I find to be extremely scratchy and grating. And then blackcurrant—the synthetic version of which I find to be just cloying, makes its face known. Yuck.

I'm a fan of woody fragrances, but that's most certainly in the background here. It's not cedar-focused. It's a sporty men's scent, and I'm sure it is reminiscent of any 100 designer scents you might pick up. Not worth its niche pricing, not worth considering a unique composition by any means. Like any other AC, there's a big citrus opening. It lasts for all of ten minutes. The whole fragrance lasts for maybe two hours. I hated it, but at least I didn't have to stand it for too long. (3/10)
14th September, 2018

Solos: Coriander by D.S. & Durga

This smells so much like fresh green coriander seeds and blossoms from the garden, with a bit of fresh green peppercorn and a white musk base. There are some subtle florals that carry this through, but above all this is an herbal scent with some softness and salinity. That said, it doesn't quite smell like anything else I've had my nose on.

It's the first cool weekend in NYC after a long hot summer, one to which I'm not ready to say goodbye. I reached for this immediately today, and have enjoyed every moment of its 8 hours of longevity. Usually this is my go-to spring fragrance, after the thaw of winter and the first buds on the trees—the air still a little crisp. It felt right today to return.

Coriander has some magic going on with it, and I don't quite know how else to say it. It's beautiful, subtle, unisex, and my standard-bearer for green fragrances. Nothing I've found comes close. (9.5/10)
10th September, 2018

Kiste by Slumberhouse

As I write this, a bowl of peaches—probably the last of the summer—sits behind me, ripening on the kitchen counter. That earthy, sweet, rich fragrance is all here in Kiste—not one element of the listed notes is neglected or out of place. This is a sticky sweet peach and tobacco scent, thick and heavy but a little dark and deep, especially as it ages on the skin. As others have mentioned, it seems perfect for the waning days of summer and into fall, with its burning, shimmering amber hue. It's a little melancholic, but still sensuous.

There's a moment of unpleasant booziness in the very beginning, but it does fade after a bit, for which I'm thankful. I usually spray my chest, and as such the scent clings to my shirt (I'd never risk spraying any Slumberhouse directly on clothing... seems like you're asking for a stain). On skin, this develops into a soft patchouli, but where it lingers on fabric it retains its peach brightness for much longer.

I had been trying to decide between Baque and Kiste and in the end I decided to buy both... Not my most frugal decision, but not one I regret, either. To spend just a moment to discuss their differences, since their descriptions share a lot in common (tobacco, stone fruit). Baque is even more tobacco-forward, and a lot richer—the vanilla replaces the honey and really amps up its cedarwood backbone. Its fruity but not as intensely so as Kiste—apricot being a bit more subdued than peach anyway. Texturally, its fitting, though, as the salty-dry drydown of Baque's ambergris makes it a more savory affair. In full disclosure, I prefer Baque, but they're both amazing and beautiful compositions, and very different from one another. My bottle of Kiste will not go neglected. (8.5/10)
09th September, 2018

parfums*PARFUMS Series 5 Sherbet: Rhubarb by Comme des Garçons

This is a beautiful summer fragrance. Not necessarily my go-to, but one to which I always love returning, even after 5 or so years with my bottle.

It opens with a pitch-perfect tart, sweet, juicy rhubarb, simmering as if its own sugars are beginning to caramelize but still retaining all of its green vegetal brightness. It's quenching, almost like a rhubarb syrup in seltzer. It dries a lot softer, some vanilla and milkiness creeping in, but just enough to keep the rhubarb pink rather than a murky green. It reminds me a lot of a straight rhubarb pie—sweet, yes, but still tart and savory and deep.

Like most CdG, longevity leaves something to be desired, and the base of this isn't quite as rewarding as that sour green intro, but still very pleasant. Totally unisex in my opinion, and one of the few fragrances I love that people have ever commented on. (9/10)
24th August, 2018

Eiderantler by January Scent Project

I wonder if I'm just not the target audience for John Biebel's perfumes. Eiderantler, in particular, excited me from its description. And the juice color made me feel like I was in for a cool blast of fir, camphorous lavender, and green leaves. But what I get is powdery, soft, and smooth. Not forest by any means, but something more comfortable, more domestic. It's a bit of a dusty fougère—slightly soapy, just a little pepper—but leans much more feminine than you'd expect.

As has been with each of these first four offerings from JSP (Smolderose, Vaporocindro, and Selperniku included), I get the vibe of a middle-aged woman—and not quite an elegant, Bergdorf-shopping, Upper East Side type, but rather your aunt in Maine who's a ceramicist and picks this up and says “wow, this is different!” Because they really are interesting, but I just can't personally click with them. They're almost too friendly, too affable, and I keep looking for some sort of deeper edge.

I'm still very interested in what JSP offers next—I think each one of the perfumes so far has a unique perspective and is very well-made. I'm going to keep sniffing them from time to time to see if my opinion changes, but after a few tries of Eiderantler, I'm not quite sold.
23rd August, 2018