Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Sukebind

Total Reviews: 19

parfums*PARFUMS Series 3 Incense: Kyoto by Comme des Garçons

I tried Avignon, but it was far too on-the-nose for a recovering Catholic, so I put that little thurible down straight away.

After that, Kyoto opened the church doors on to a pine forest in the mist, the trees fading from dark green to blue to a white horizon. I could shelter in that forest all day and enjoy the resin, and the smoke from a small woodstove and the steam of the coffee on top, with no impatience at all for the mist to clear. But it doesn't last that long. I like it best on a scarf or cuff, so I can have my little shelter back with a sniff later on.
15th August, 2018

Magie Noire by Lancôme

A bottle of Samhain, the festival that marks the beginning of winter, when the door to the underworld is ajar, and the fruits of the harvest are eaten with the dead. Children run around the countryside as night falls, dressed as ghosts and knocking on every door to "frighten" the household into giving sweets and nuts. Later, rowdy games are played and attempts at augury are made around the fire. It's wild and dark and intoxicating. Magie Noire is grown-up Hallowe'en; a cauldron of mysterious potions, tarry, sweet and bitter, stirred by a terrifying witch. Not for the faint-hearted, and not for daylight.
13th August, 2018

Fracas by Robert Piguet

I couldn't possibly pull this one off, but it is so audacious I take my hat off to it. Only my hat is a simple felt beret, where Fracas would wear an 18th century bird's nest or tall ship atop her powdered wig. It is the fabulous entrance of a drag queen, all air kisses and gasps. If there is anything going on beneath the floral fanfare, I cannot detect it - to me this is all pink bubblegum, and what a vivid pink it is.

Isabella Blow, the delightfully eccentric aristocratic fashion icon, who wore hats as an art form, wore this as her signature. After her suicide, her protegé Alexander McQueen (who went the same sad way himself) dedicated a show to her, at which he perfumed the venue with Fracas in her honour. I imagine this must have been a outrageously pink bomb blast, painting the room in lurid, laughing technicolour. A glorious tribute.
13th August, 2018
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No. 5 Eau Première by Chanel

A delicate rosebud to No 5's Georgia O'Keeffe rose. It starts with a peal of white flowers and citrus, then sings soprano for hours of fresh dewy brightness. I miss the depth and powder of No 5, but this is a lovely, younger, more girlish sister.
13th August, 2018

Coco by Chanel

Coco Cola. Coco is dark, sweet, fizzy and classic, and cola-ish. It is rounded and ripe, with the spice of a boozy Christmas cake that has spent three months luxuriating in a tin. It also has hints of an orange studded with cloves, another Christmas treat. But just like Coca Cola, the recipe is impossible to reverse-engineer.

It reminds me of a time when people smoked in cinemas and perfumes were necessarily stronger so they could rise above the curling silver clouds lit up by the projector. It suits a good coat with a brooch and silk scarf.
13th August, 2018

Teint de Neige by Lorenzo Villoresi

"Was there a baby here?" asked my colleague when she arrived in the shop to start her shift. Immediately after sniffing my wrist, she ordered a bottle for herself online. It was winter, with the sort of biting cold that makes you want to wear the softest of clothes, and draw a scarf up over your tickled-to-sneezing nose. She was smelling my treat from the night before, when I had babied myself with a bath, Teint de Neige, and a cashmere jumper.

There was a heavy snowfall one winter when I was a child. Most winters the snow only sticks to the mountaintops, so Irish children try to make the most of those one or two days when we can play in all that spotless white, before it melts and the grass pokes through. "It don't snow here, it stays pretty green" as Joni Mitchell sang. This particular winter, the snow kept falling, and drifting, and all the schools were closed, so we had many days of play and the whole white landscape to ourselves. The skin of my face and hands got whipped raw with the cold, though I didn't notice it at the time, and even if I did I wouldn't have stopped. My mother applied her rich, rose-scented moisturiser (Cyclax Moistura, in a purple pot; I buy it sometimes for the memory) to the scaly patches on my cheeks and knuckles, and I was struck by the emergence of roses in snow. Teint de Neige brings all that back, whenever I need it, with all the hypnotic, powdery power of a flurry of snowflakes.
13th August, 2018

Dzing! by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Meet Black's little sister, Bvlgari Pink, who has a strong family resemblance, but loves sparkles and sunshine. At the circus of the theme, she enjoys candy floss, toffee apples and pony rides, but she is scared of clowns and oblivious to the sex appeal of the trapeze artists. It's the first perfume to make me giggle, and for this I applaud it.
13th August, 2018

Aromatics Elixir by Clinique

Artemis, hunting in the forest, lithe and alert, fleet-footing over moss and dry ferns, draws an arrow from her quiver. There is a soft-sharp contrast in Aromatics Elixir that reminds me of woods in winter, with dry leaves crackling underfoot, and under the leaves a pungent, truffley soil is sleeping. Yet there is such refinement in the composition, and such a bright aura of powder and light, that AE isn't worn by the woman kicking through the leaves, but the one in tailored tweed in a first class carriage on a train passing by, looking out the window at the setting sun strobing through the trees.
13th August, 2018

Paloma Picasso / Mon Parfum by Paloma Picasso

I like this better on a colleague who is older and older-fashioned than me. It is strong and seductive, but with good manners that belie an earthy humour. On me, it feels like a winter coat a size too big and a style too mature, though it is beautifully made.

Aromatics Elixir has some of the same properties, but stays dry and resolutely un-sweet. The dark honey of Mon Parfum adds an intriguing, boozy layer of red-lipsticked gossip which I admire but can't pull off.
13th August, 2018

Fleurs de Citronnier by Serge Lutens

The opening is a pure and fresh delight, and I wish it could stay there without the ballast of musk, which weighs it down too much. It goes from clean sheets drying on the line to the laundry room with all the machines overheating and the detergents suspended in the dry air.
13th August, 2018

Fleurs d'Oranger by Serge Lutens

This one is not for me, but I cannot give it a thumbs down because it is the perfume that taught me what an "indole" is. I love orange blossom, but it needs an anchor, and here it is moored for longevity by a sickly, spicy rot.

There is a flower called Meadowsweet, that looks like a little creamy-white stick of candy floss, and it emits a heady scent in the meadows in June. Go closer to sniff it properly, however, and a sweet stench of death will mock your innocent interest.

I find the smell of sweat quite pleasing, but Fleurs d'Oranger goes further than a sexy oxter, giving me instead the fever-sweat and breath of the victim of a contagious illness, concealed by all the flowers brought by deathbed visitors.
13th August, 2018

No. 22 Eau de Toilette by Chanel

Graceful and aloof as a Gothic Cathedral, where incense, lilies and beeswax candles rise up with the cold stone to arch over glittering stained glass. The opening is angelic with white flowers and fizz, settling to a veil of fine fabric that is surprisingly strong and not at all modest. A vast and vaulted space is created around the wearer, more force field than sillage. It is as resonant as the last strains of the choir, lingering in the pin-drop moment; I wore it to a wedding two days ago and it is still present behind my ears, whispering reminders of all the jokes and news and making me smile all over again.
13th August, 2018

Un Bois Vanille by Serge Lutens

This is my autumn staple. The warm-cold interplay of vanilla and licorice has the contrast of salt toffee, of those days when I take my jumper off in the sunshine, only to shiver in goosebumps seconds later when a breeze blows to tease me. I never know which sensation will appear, or when. It is as if I have weather wafting up from my wrists.
09th August, 2018
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Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens

This reminds me of vanilla-flavoured pipe tobacco, so rather than an Ottoman palace or a Souk, I imagine an old man has been puffing it by a wood fire on a wet November evening, and hours later, after he has nodded off in his chair, the smoke has mingled with fumes from his drained whiskey glass, and burnished the walls and furniture with a glowing lacquer.
09th August, 2018

Youth Dew by Estée Lauder

This was my paternal grandmother's perfume, which in our house should rightly be an Eau de Can of Worms. But as an adult I found myself following old women down the street, like a child lost in a supermarket, and I knew it was worth more than memory.

In the perfume, and the bath oil, this is pure luxury. It seems designed to cut through frying oil, cigarette smoke and any guff spouted in stuffy old houses. Its name is a reminder that what we now think of as "old lady" perfumes were once young themselves, and the sweet cloves and oily orange peel are still defiantly standing out among the wallflowers. This one is for booze, bold lipstick, and speaking one's mind. Just like Nana.
05th August, 2018

La Pausa / 28 La Pausa Eau de Toilette by Chanel

When my cat comes in from her wanders, I can always smell where she has been. In winter her fur is telltale smoke and soot, and I know she has been eavesdropping down chimneys; in summer it is soft and green. For a fleeting moment, 28 La Pausa smells like my cat after she has been sleeping in the long grass. It transports me to a perfect May morning, of dew and leafy promise, of waiting for a lift at a crossroads, with meadow flowers singing on a cool breeze.

Then it is gone, and all I can smell is my own skin, lamenting the loss of a colour. I hope the EDP manages to preserve and amplify this May perfection, stronger and longer. In the meantime I will keep sniffing my skin and begging it to play that song again.
05th August, 2018

Knot by Bottega Veneta

One of my sisters thoughtfully gave me a bottle of this for Christmas, after telling a sales assistant that I particularly like the notes of neroli and orange blossom, and trying the various samples proffered on foot of this. I tried it on Christmas Day, and surprised her by declaring it a scent for summer parties. Neroli and orange blossom are often laden with amber or spices as ballast, but here they sail like a galleon on a green floral sea. We had a heatwave this summer, an aberration we will talk about for decades to come, and Knot kept my evenings scented fresh and weightless. I may well wear it this Christmas too, when the oranges are in fruit, as a Halcyon echo of the dog days when my nose is tickled by frost.
05th August, 2018

L'Heure Bleue Eau de Parfum by Guerlain

Midsummer is lit long where I live. When I was a child I was sent to bed, protesting, at 8pm, in broad daylight. The light would last for another three to four hours. I could hear the older children playing in the fields, and a wistful feeling would keep me awake. The curtains were pulled, but the gathering at the top of each created a gap, in which glowed a triangle of the purest blue. I wanted to swim in that colour until I dissolved.

My first sniff of L'Heure Bleue was a sample of the EDP, which I found harsh and medicinal. It was oily Prussian Blue to my sapphire triangle. This summer I bought a bottle of the EDT, and now I get it. The powder casts a hazy expanse, in which children play and flowers curl up, all the way to the horizon. I can smell the sweet pastries as the last Blackbird sings.
05th August, 2018

Bois des Îles Eau de Parfum by Chanel

I had a bottle of the EDT for years and I loved its bright and fizzy overture of woods; not a forest but a workshop, with timber split open and wet, and rags drenched in heady turpentine. I also loved the way a slight saltiness would rise from it later, like a starchy shirt stuck with sweat to a woodturner's back.

The EDT was no longer in production when my bottle ran out, so I had to get the EDP, which is too wealthy and mannered to visit the workshop. Instead it goes straight to the finished piece - a beautiful, polished hall table with a vase of cut flowers on their way to decay. It is smoother, darker, with only a gleam of the EDT's sparkle. It stays longer, and closer to the skin, which doesn't sweat, not even under the suede gloves it takes off and puts on the table, beside the vase and the invitations that came in the afternoon post.

I will miss the EDT, but I expect the EDP will grow on me, as a scent for quiet evenings as the autumn draws in.
05th August, 2018