Reviews by epicurean

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    epicurean
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    Blue Encens by Comme des Garçons

    Of the three recent CdG "Blue" scents, this is the stand-out for me. The number of incense-based scents out there seems to increase daily, but not very many -- if any -- opt for a clean, aldehydic slant. This one is a safe, no-frills crowd-pleaser, yet not necessarily mainstream either. Classy. You just can't go wrong.

    As longevity is indeed lacking, reapplication on any given day will prove necessary sooner rather than later, so you'll actually be glad this is only available in a large bottle. But since the price isn't exorbitant, this is just a minor point. Too bad, though, this wasn't given the same staying power as, say, CdG's "2", which is a longevity bombshell and never ends. But still, a thumbs-up for a classy and most pleasant scent. A good friend wears it and always smells absolutely wonderful.

    01st March, 2014

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    Tom of Finland by Etat Libre d'Orange

    One of those rare things: a summer scent with both sunny brightness and lingering substance. So often, it's the substance that's missing with the lighter-hued scents. Not here.

    Never an admirer of the whole Tom of Finland aesthetic, i could easily just have ignored this altogether. A shame that would have been; the fragrance is just too good and refined. Powdery and sweet but yet sharp and rubbery to start with, the fragrance dries down into a warm, dry suede with just enough of that industrial rubber left to give it weight and a certain urban edginess. Striking, but yet warm and somehow classy. So aside from the rubber, ToF doesn't match its imagery at all. Anyway, spring/summer can come!

    Pros: Great modern masculine; wonderful scent for both work and play; warm, sensual drydown; great longevity (on me).
    Cons: Much too clean -- but only for those expecting a sweaty musk bomb to match the imagery.

    20th February, 2014 (Last Edited: 23rd February, 2014)

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    Pardon by Nasomatto

    Mmm, nice. And as one of my fellow reviewers rightly noted, Alfarom has already given this a wonderful write-up, so here are just a few additional thoughts on Pardon in the context of two other related Nasomatto fragrances…

    I like to think of Duro, Black Afgano and Pardon as a trio of siblings with some obviously common genes but yet distinct personalities. The common denominator is the exotic wood vibe, in particular oud, prominently displayed in all three, and there's always a certain synthetic feel that gives these scents a great edginess:

    - With Duro it’s a potent blast of oud and pleasingly bizarre chemical notes; not for the faint-hearted, but great when applied sparingly.
    - With BA it’s a sweeter, hippie-like take on oud, and also mighty potent.
    - And with Pardon, though still a strong scent, it doesn’t blast. And there a sunny lightness on display, featuring a kind of caramelized wood I took to instantly. It’s like this is the youngest of the three siblings, and the one with the summer birthday.

    06th January, 2014

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    Black by Comme des Garçons

    I’m happy to report that with CdG Black you get to have your cake and eat it too:
    - On the one hand it’s individual enough to distinguish it from a vast array of scents in the same woody/spicy/smoky genre, whether in the CdG line or elsewhere. It’s got that "urban edge" vibe one comes to expect in a (good) CdG incense scent.
    - And on the other side of the equation, Black is wearable on a daily basis. This is not something I expect of every scent – some are just too unusual or special for everyday wear. But I appreciate scents that are attractive for both work and play over the course of weeks/months, and after three months I can say that that's the case.

    The scent itself: The gourmand notes mix with the incense to make the fragrance interesting enough to get noticed, but then fade to the background in favor of the quite mellow incense. Nice. The best part though is the extended drydown phase: It lasts for hours and comes across to me as a (surprising) mix of clean but substantial musk and salty, low-key fireplace embers. Fans of CdG 2 Man, Greyland and the now discontinued Gucci pour Homme will surely like Black.

    Pros: longevity (three spritzes in the morning last the whole day w/o it being overpowering at the outset at all); drydown (warm, dry, mellow); overall wearability
    Cons: perhaps not edgy or innovative enough for those expecting more

    06th January, 2014

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    Santal Blush by Tom Ford

    Santal Blush is a pleasant surprise. The name and the bottle would have you expecting yet another overly sweet and synthetic candy confection, and one definitely geared to women. That’s not the case. On the contrary, SB is a straightforward sandalwood: woodsy, dry, airy, yet creamy and lightly spiced -- just right. In other words, it smells like Mysore, which is yet another surprise; how many “sandalwoods” these days actually smell like the real thing? Yet if my information is correct, no Mysore sandalwood is at work here – a tribute to the perfumer (Yann Vasnier) for making it happen, however he did it. Staying power is pretty good as well; just a couple of spritzes lasted a good while. And for the guys (like myself) who wouldn’t feel completely at ease wearing the wonderful Bois des Iles (a tad too sweet), SB is a sandalwood any guy could feel comfortable with, anywhere, summer or winter. A class act. (And less harsh than Villoresi’s Sandalo.)

    16th July, 2012

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    Hermèssence Santal Massoïa by Hermès

    A wonderful woodsy scent in the “balmy breeze” category. If only it lasted more than 20 minutes! Come on, Hermès: Even summer scents need more staying power than this; the party’s over before you even get to your first stop on a summer night out! But still: a marvelous light sandalwood concoction with the zing of lime and the milky smoothness of coconut. (Classy enough for office wear as well, i.e. it does not smell like a pina colada despite the ingredients list!)
    In sum: A thumbs-up, though not entirely worth the money when you know that other scents in the same price league give you much more staying power. But I still enjoy it in my collection, 1) for occasional wear, and 2) as a reminder of a very, very similar and much-missed scent: Gucci Rush for Men.

    28th May, 2012

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    Oud 27 by Le Labo

    I've finally gotten around to sampling Oud 27. I'd been looking forward to something borderline dirty, but got something completely different -- but nice all the same.
    First of all -- where's the oud? I know tons of oud fragrances, e.g. all the variations on the theme in the Montale and Amouage lines. There must be some in there, for it is a woody scent, but the oud is not prominent.
    Second of all, where's all the dirty stuff that's supposed to be going on? I know dirty frags too where there can be no doubt of the intention, whether it's Kingdom, Muscs Koublai Khan or even Eau d'Hermès. But here? No.
    All I could think of upon sampling it (not just once) was "edgy woody musky jasmine". It's much more harmless than people have made it out to be, and pleasantly so. There is indeed something "off-kilter" about it I've yet to place my finger on, which removes it nicely from anything too mainstream -- so yes, it is a bit edgy. It's like the nice boy or girl-next-door discovering a subervise vein one evening, and loving it. Anyway it's a pleasant, masculine musk with a pleasant unisex jasmine. Completely different to what I'd expected. But nice.

    23rd June, 2011

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    Or Black by Pascal Morabito

    This must have been what Studio 54 smelled like. Leather, musk -- and hairspray. Leather-and-musk scents are a dime-a-dozen. But that oddly synthetic chemical note, which I can only describe as hairspray, is original, adding a certain sparkle and making Or Black a great scent for an urban-chic stud enjoying himself out on the town. Not for day wear.

    25th January, 2011

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    Ormonde Man by Ormonde Jayne

    You can tell in an instant that Ormonde Man is exquisitely and uniquely composed, and destined for the kind of guy who can appreciate an understated approach to luxury; this is the olfactory equivalent to London neighborhoods like South Kensington, Chelsea or Belgravia.

    And the scent itself? The enchanted forest of my dreams would smell like this! Imagine cool forest air spiked with the ever-so-slight sweetness of dried pine needles. The notes of pepper, juniper and oudh spice things up nicely, creating an overall effect that is so very far from run-of-the-mill. Regarding longevity, Off-Scenter remarked that things could be better; he’s right. For an eau de parfum concentration, this is a wee bit light. But overall it’s still well within the boundaries of acceptable. Not too long ago I had two separate compliments on Ormonde Man, both were in the late afternoon, after having applied the scent in the early morning, so I guess longevity is at least OK, if not better.

    No exaggeration: This is by far one of the most memorable, pleasant and wearable masculines I've ever come across; so very mellow in all the right ways. It’s got a subtle warmth reminiscent of the diffused light of a Tiffany lamp, i.e. warmth from within.

    27th December, 2010

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    Bang by Marc Jacobs

    The tacky, over-the-top ads featuring a naked, middle-aged, well-toned designer living out what could only be interpreted as a serious midlife crisis were not exactly promising auguries of anything worth sampling. But I couldn't resist, and what a surprise. Thinking this could only be something reminiscent of cotton candy and/or Koolaid, how pleasant to experience a simple, straightforward incense-and-pepper affair. Nothing remotely original, mind you -- Terre d'Hermès, Messe Minuit, Armani Privé Bois d'Encens, Gucci pour Homme and Greyland have all been there before.
    So, this earns a neutral rating: Nice, but not enough originality or daring to justify the superhero-style ad campaign.

    04th December, 2010

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    Armani Privé Bois d'Encens by Giorgio Armani

    I'd bypassed the Privé range for a long time, simply because nothing in the mainstream Armani range could possibly have led me to believe that the Privé scents would have anything memorable -- let alone fantastic -- to offer. How wrong I was. I've finally sampled Bois d'Encens, and it is as simple as it is rich and fantastic. Textbook treatment of the genre of the incense-smoke-and-pepper fragrance; dry, with the slight crackle of a slow-burning fire. Warm, yet beautifully austere, as a religious ceremony involving incense might be austere and introspective. Similar price range to the Amouage line, and I'd say worth it.

    23rd October, 2010

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    Epic Man by Amouage

    One of the ultimate scents in two related fragrance styles: the oriental genre in general, and the more particular oudh subgenre. I think of Epic Man as the darker, more dangerous brother of Jubilation XXV. The latter is light and bright, but yet warm and dense; a desert tableau with the slightest sweet, tangy berry touch to give the oudh-and-frankincense dryness a particular sparkle. Epic Man is rich and dense, heavier on the oudh than Jub. XXV, featuring a wider variety of Silk Road spices without verging anywhere near sweetness. THIS is how an oriental should be done, and both this and Jub. XXV are what Guerlain should have been doing the past 20 years, and what Chanel should be doing instead of dull dime-a-dozen frags like "Bleu".
    Excellent, with one of the longest-lasting drydowns I've ever encountered.

    29th September, 2010

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    Opus II by Amouage

    I had had high hopes for this one, judging from the ingredients list and based on relatively recent Amouage triumphs, e.g. Epic Man (dark-hued spice) and most notably Jubilation XXV (sheer perfection in a men's scent, with its bright, dry brilliance and warmth). But in truth, Opus II is merely "very good", i.e. not good enough for Amouage, and certainly not good enough for this price range. There are simply too many "very good" scents out there for half the price, in both the niche and mainstream markets.

    As for the actual scent, it's got a familiar, old-fashioned feel to it halfway between Guerlain and barbershop shaving-cream -- a bit too generic for my taste (and for the sum involved). The best thing is a slight and very pleasant civet effect in the drydown; if only it were more noticeable as is the case with the wonderful and sexy Gucci pour Homme or with the classic yet absolutely not old-fashioned Eau d'Hermès.

    26th September, 2010

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    Greyland by Montale

    For fans of the voluptuous Gucci pour Homme who long for a variation of the same thing, here it is. The two scents have smoke, incense and a sweaty-crotch sexiness (the cumin?) in common, mind you a sweatiness of a well-groomed body; most pleasant. What I like about Greyland is the absence of a certain Bourbon vanilla note that was very gourmand and very gorgeous in GpH, but which verged on too-muchness. Greyland goes light on the vanilla, adding more musks instead, which makes for a pleasant, modern, heady masculine which is 'clean' enough for the office but sexy enough for after hours. A pleasurable scent that I enjoy getting compliments on.

    22nd August, 2010

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

    A lovely, warm scent -- pungently woody and smoky on the one side, soapy and invigoating on the other. The invigoratingly clean element surely derives from aldehydes and cinnamon, which brings me to the conclusion that this is the earthier, woodier cousin to "Hotel Costes"; both have that irresistible soapy-cinnamon note I don't come across very often. The incense note is relatively weak; the wood notes win out. This is only mentionable as the scent appears in the CdG series of incense-inspired scents.
    The only down side: The drydown of this eau de toilette pales in comparison to the non-stop drydown of eau de parfum "Comme des Garcons 2". Two spritzes of the latter and your're set for the whole day; "Jaisalmer" requires 6-7 spritzes and you don't really make it past your lunch break. But still -- extemely pleasant. I wonder if Jaisalmer/India smells anything like this? Would be a dream.

    09th August, 2010

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    Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche

    Drakkar Noir was to the 80s what Cool Water and Le Mâle were to the 90s (and what Le Mâle STILL is as I write): the sure-fire frag for high school kids hangin' out after school at the mall or downtown or wherever they'll see as many chicks as possible. DN was so ubiquitous in its day over in the US that it was like a uniform. I bypassed it and went straight for Antaeus at 16, but that's another story. Many years later, I can appreciate DN for its studly appeal; there's nothing dangerously musky about it, but it simply smells like a guy who wants to smell like a guy who's a man around town; very unpretentious, and that was its charm then and still is. Unbelievably, DN is almost a niche fragrance over here in Europe; very good specialty shops carry it, and it's got a kind of cult following for those in the know. Anyway, I would love to encounter a guy over here in Europe who wore it, but I only ever smell it in the US when I'm back visiting.

    25th July, 2010

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    Clair de Musc by Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido

    A pleasant musk in the clean genre à la Body Shop's "White Musk" shower gel. It's also what the pretty good girls at my high school used to smell like -- you know the type: the ones that convey that clinical kind of clean that's very American; like freshly shampooed hair. But having to reference the Body Shop and high-school girls shouldn't be happening, when the subject at hand is a Lutens scent. On the up side, the aldehydic note mentioned by one of the reviewers above is definitely there, and it is reminiscent of Chanel, but the powdery-clean No. 22 more than No. 5. I just recently smelled No. 22 again for the first time in years, and it is grand (and it was a 15-/20-year-old bottle), whereas this one is merely pleasant.

    24th July, 2010

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    Black Afgano by Nasomatto

    Nice enough, but it's M7 for triple the price.

    Update: Now that the original M7 is no longer available, you know where to turn for a highly pleasant alternative in the genre "warm & dense oriental". (M7, btw, had great staying power, but BA's longevity just doesn't stop, as is the case with Duro as well -- something I value in a scent.)

    18th June, 2010 (Last Edited: 05th January, 2014)

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    Sycomore (new) by Chanel

    What a great scent that's at least unisex, if not all-out masculine. (So what's with symbol here at Basenotes denoting this as a woman's scent? Dito for Coromandel. Oh well, whatever.)
    This and Coromandel were the instant standouts of the Les Exclusifs line. OK, if you're into a cologne-style fragrance, then the Eau de Cologne will manage to please quite nicely, but as I find colognes rather dull in general, why not go for the dark-hued, dry, vetiver-woodsy warmth of Sycomore if you're looking for a classy, upscale masculine. I took to it instantly, and it's one of those rare scents that is classy enough for professoinal situations and opulent enough to have some fun way far away from the office floor. Major thumbs up.

    12th June, 2010

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    Invasion Barbare / SB by MDCI

    A rich, complex scent in the oriental style, but alas, most reminiscent of shaving cream than evenings at an Arabian palace. It's obviously very well made, but, as is the case with scents like Derby or Amouage Gold, more admirable than truly enjoyable.

    05th June, 2010

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    Silver Cologne by Amouage

    Very nicely done, the olfactory equivalent to bright sunshine-yellow and white. But far too powdery and sweet for a man's scent.

    24th May, 2010

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    Virgin Island Water by Creed

    The perfect summer tropical-theme party scent: Smells exactly like a pina colada, and I'd love it as a candle. But as a cologne? Still, it is indeed very tasty!

    23rd May, 2010

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    Must de Cartier Pour Homme by Cartier

    A class act. One of the few scents I find truly brilliant both for business situations and in my freetime. It simply smells of good taste and refinement, on the safe side of spicy but not so safe as to be dull and drab.
    Get some if you haven't already.

    23rd May, 2010

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    Derby by Guerlain

    An obviously very well-made scent in the typical old-school Guerlain fashion: complex in structure and very grand in scale; lots going on here. But alas, it's more admirable than lovable, I feel. And it's extremely hard to believe this one dates from the 1980s; smells much, much older: This is a very dusty, powdery affair indeed. (And where's the leather?) The 1920s Chanels such as Cuir de Russie or No. 5 have aged so very much better and feel newer than Derby which is 60 years younger. For a good masculine Guerlain, I'd suggest Heritage, which is fabulous. (And somebody should update the photo of Derby here; it looks completely different now, and if you're really unlucky, you might encounter it on display (e.g. at the Paris Galeries Lafayette flagship store) with a pump spray. Now how's that for masculine?

    23rd May, 2010

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    Comme des Garçons 2 by Comme des Garçons

    This is a nice scent in the peppery/smoky/musky genre which I enjoyed wearing for a while, though I ended up wishing it had been done with more subtlety; it can come across as a bull in a china shop, announcing your arrival way too soon. Alas, my wish has come true as regards more subtlety: All you have to do is get Timbuktu and you've got a more pleasant version of CDG 2. That's why this gets just 4 of 5 stars, whereas Timbuktu deserves 5.

    18th May, 2010

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    Musk by Etro

    Clean laundry, fresh out of the dryer after having used a pleasant fabric softener: That's Etro's Musk. Is that good, is it bad? Whatever: It's clean, it's pleasant, and sometimes that's enough. But just sometimes, though. Nice! I can imagine a young guy in high school or in college going for this, and the girls really going for the guys wearing this.

    15th May, 2010

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    No. 22 by Chanel

    On a recent trip back home to the US, I was rummaging around one of the cupboards in my mom's guest bathroom. I was pleased to find half-full bottles of both Chanel No. 19 and No. 22 (eau de toilettes) that were at least 15 years old. I knew my mom had had No. 19, but I guess the No. 22 had been a gift from my Chanel-loving aunt who was always wearing No. 5, No. 19 or No. 22. (Great school of perfumery, her visits were!)Whatever: the scents were still glorious after so many years, No. 22 particularly so. If a woman desires to smell incandescently bright, fresh, sunny and classy, then this pleasant powder-puff of a white-floral potion is your ticket to sophistication. Whereas No. 5 is a gold-hued evening out, Cuir de Russie likewise, No. 22 is one of those warmer-than-usual bright spring days with a sky so clear you can see for 100 miles.

    13th May, 2010 (Last Edited: 20th June, 2010)

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    Coromandel by Chanel

    I agree completely with Limony: I hadn't realized just how much I liked patchouli -- or that I liked it at all -- until I came across this one. A luxurious scent featuring a main ingredient -- patchouli -- usually associated with all sorts of stuff, though usually not luxury. Pure opulence with a nod to the bohème.

    07th May, 2010

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    Bigarade Concentrée by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

    I love this stuff, but I do wish one could get right to the fresh-sweat-in-the-nether-regions element straight away without wading through quite so much orange rind. Don't get me wrong: the orange is wonderfully refreshing, and the scent would be lacking something without it. But a tad too much is going on there in the citrus department. I think I'll have to try mixing my own animalic ideal scent with a touch of citrus and spice one of these days, and I think it'd consist of equal parts Eau d'Hermès, Declaration and Bigarade Concentree, with a bit of Muscs Koublai Khan thrown in for good measure...

    07th May, 2010

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    Cuir de Russie by Chanel

    I've been familiar with many of the classic scents for years, with a posh aunt and my mom having worn No. 5, No. 19 & No. 22 at various times over the years. I remember those bottles and their contents, though I don't remember as a kid and teenager ever seeing a bottle labeled Cuir de Russie in our household. When I finally sampled it years later, though, I somehow "remembered" it. Not a surprise, really, what with Chanel's signature aldehydic glow being a common denominator. CdR really could only be a Chanel, and it is absolutely first-class all the way. Just like the Chanels listed above, CdR just smells posh and expensive without being over the top. A class-act all the way.

    But posh or not, a friend and I while sampling it not too long ago couldn't help but think: "Bathroom!" Granted, a clean bathroom, but a bathoom nonetheless, and though clean there's something animalic about it. Is there civet in there? Esp. after about an hour or two, that warm ever so slightly fecal aspect is there, but it isn't unpleasant. This isn't meant to sound sacreligious; it's just a further facet of an already wildly multi-faceted, first-rate scent.

    I'm not sure I'll be wearing CdR; a tad bit more leather and a bit less on the floral front would work better for me. But that opinion could change over time; I can actually imagine this one working well in warm weather, with that aldehydic glow working well on a sultry summer's evening.

    01st May, 2010 (Last Edited: 26th December, 2010)

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