Reviews by lefay

    Showing 1 to 30 of 87.
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    Oleander by Lili Bermuda

    The original Oleander was a heavenly, creamy floral. The reformulated abomination is an aldehyde-spiked, undifferentiated powdery floral -- mostly orris root (or a synthetic approximation), but without any of the carroty, woody, or cool metallic distinctiveness of other iris fragrances. A badly done retro reboot. What a disappointment.

    27 December, 2012 (Last Edited: 07 November, 2013)

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    Dzhari by Phaedon

    A beautiful, complex gourmand from Pierre Guillaume -- a fruit and spice market that isn't in-your-face sweet or sharp. Terrifically balanced, nuanced, and dry, with a hint of smoke at the end and a lovely transparency. Very happy with this one.

    06 June, 2012

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    L'Arbre de la Connaissance by Jovoy

    The name translates variously as The Tree of Knowledge (a la the Garden of Eden) or The Tree of Enlightenment (the Buddha's, that is).

    Based on a small sample, this has a lovely fresh opening -- just a hint of citrus, but mostly green. Then fig -- a bit of the fruit, but mostly wood. Not sweet -- just heavenly fig, leaves, and woods. Perfect for spring and summer, but probably great beside a fireplace, too. I'm not big on "clean" fragrances, but this could be characterized as clean, and dry, and somewhat cool.

    Bought the bottle (nice heavy glass in a presentation box), and the character of the juice seems different somehow. I'm not getting much citrus now. The quality is warmer yet paradoxically more herbal, and somewhat indolic. The fruit note, wet and dense, is heavier. I preferred the scent impression I got from the sample (using a dabber, not a spray). There are no animalic notes in the descriptions I've read, but something a bit musky is fighting the fresh greenness I enjoyed so much initially.

    I would be very interested in others' impressions.

    17 May, 2012 (Last Edited: 09 May, 2013)

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    Womanity by Thierry Mugler

    I was invited to the release of this fragrance in New York and sat through an ultra-theatrical description and demonstration of the proprietary process for extracting the fig, the inspiration for the caviar, etc. It was all quite over the top, as you might imagine, and intended to build maximum anticipation (and boost sales).

    When it came time to sample the actual juice, though, I was baffled by the muddy mix of notes. I got some citrus, a hint of salty ocean, and then a dirty hazelnut note that would not go away. Milky and green fig peeked through the burnt nut note here and there, but overall it was a complete disaster on my skin. The drydown was a simple fadeout of dirty hazelnut. This is Mugler's womankind-inspired creation?

    I felt I had been the victim of some kind of hoax.

    24 January, 2011 (Last Edited: 07 November, 2013)

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    Wild Musk by Coty

    Though I'm not a musk fan in general (and in fact usually go out of my way to avoid it), I wore Coty Wild Musk Oil all through the '70s. To me it was less animalic than sweet and ambery-vanilla. Sexy but not in-your-face dirty. Men loved it, and I felt beautiful when I wore it.

    I just rediscovered it, finding a bottle for less than $15 online. I expected to be disappointed, having in the meantime developed a taste for more sophisticated and complex scents -- but it still casts the same spell.

    13 January, 2011

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    Narcissus by Santa Maria Novella

    Love at first sniff.

    I bought a bottle of the "triple extract" at the original SMN shop in Florence two summers ago. They seem somehow to have captured the soul of the flower. The extract is intense, pure, direct, intoxicating. Not a trace of powder or anything extraneous. (Oddly, if the scent were a color, it would be a deep purple.) As it dries down, the indolic character of narcissus becomes more prominent.

    This soliflore is complex and beautiful on its own. A joy to wear.

    02 January, 2011

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    Miel de Bois by Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido

    This was love at first sniff, during a Basenotes Boston event at Barney's. (Fellow attendees who can't wear the fragrance were jealous.) According to Tanya Sanchez (from "Perfumes: The Guide"), "Phenylacetic acid smells like honey in dilution, like urine at concentration." The rest, one might say, is skin chemistry -- which is why some are overwhelmed by what they describe as a urinous note while others are captivated by MdB.

    I smell honey, wood, flowers, and even hints of nag champa. This comes terribly close to being an ideal woody oriental on me, a perfect autumn/winter fragrance that manages to combine an ethereal spiritual quality with just a hint of dirtiness. And it has staying power.

    Because it tends to elicit such strong responses, pro and con, test MdB on your skin and live with it for a few hours before splurging for a bottle.

    Postscript: After the scent has been on my skin for 3 hours or so, the friendly honey note turns wicked -- i.e., New York subway station in July. So disappointing.

    30th August, 2009 (Last Edited: 07 March, 2011)

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    Breath of God by B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful

    Only a master could blend such an unholy and unlikely combination of notes into something so bewitching.

    After an initial, offputting blast of mentholated joss stick underpinned by fruit, BOG settles down into smoky, woody loveliness laced with narcotic florals and lifted ever-so-slightly by the ghost of that opening minty note. The cedar and pepper are present but not overwhelming. The balance is astounding. I have never smelled anything quite like it -- and I've run the gamut of woody/smoky scents. It doesn't seem to develop dramatically over time, but is a shape-shifter in that every time you sniff, you get something a little different. It conjures up a walk in autumn through a deep forest shrouded in fog.

    This is a very particular fragrance: think PJ Harvey and John Parish's "Black Hearted Love."

    I am in love.

    18 June, 2009

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    Une Histoire de Chypre by Aedes de Venustas

    I concur with foetidus. As a chypre girl I was entranced by the green/citrus opening on a woody base, with not a trace of powder, and thought, This is promising! But within a half hour everything just began to fade away, leaving only a trace of moss. I reapplied hopefully from my sample vial, and got the same result. On paper -- and on first impression -- this seems like a chypre lover's dream. But something is missing in the chemistry of the composition; it just doesn't hold together. How disappointing.

    20th April, 2009

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    Aperçu by Houbigant

    If this is a reformulation of the original, it was done in classic style, somewhat reminiscent of the premier Chypre by Coty. (I have the parfum.) Apercu is a gorgeous chypre, opening with a beautifully composed floral/green accord (if there is tuberose here I can't detect it) underpinned by soft woods and spice. Not a trace of powder, thankfully. It strikes me somehow as a scent that both the patrician Katharine Hepburn and the outre Marlene Dietrich could have worn in the '30s, yet it's also quite modern. Reminds me a bit of Tommi Sooni's Tarantella but without the fizzy aldehydes. Sophisticated and timeless.

    01st April, 2009 (Last Edited: 07 November, 2013)

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    Tarantella by Tommi Sooni

    The story goes that Tarantella was inspired by a walled garden in Avignon filled with plants from southern Italy. Whatever the inspiration, this creation is a classic, beautifully composed chypre with an aldehydic, green/citrus opening and a lush floral/herbal heart on a sultry mossy, woody, and subtle leather base. (Beware if you're sensitive to aldehydes; the fizzy top notes may ruin the fragrance for you.) Tommi Sooni designed this scent for women age 25+ (be still my heart) and with the redoubtable Charlotte Rampling in mind. Like her, Tarantella is graceful and elegant but with a smoldering heart.

    07 December, 2008 (Last Edited: 02 May, 2013)

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    Narcotic Venus by Nasomatto

    This reminds me a bit of Carnal Flower, but without the cool, camphorous opening note and with a bit more complexity. The tuberose, jasmine, and lily accord, indolic and overtly sexual, is balanced by spices that cut the sweetness. This is a lush, womanly scent that doesn't mess around!

    07 December, 2008

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    Soir d'Orient by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier

    I got a sample of this about a year ago, just revisited it, and fell in love. The oud is up front, rising from the skin like a bitter, smoky drug. Amber and leather quickly emerge, and then the notes melt together into a mysterious, narcotic vapor. There is an underlying but understated sweetness that may be vanilla, or just further development of the amber. Although it bears a passing resemblance to other ambery scents, this one stands out as deeper, more sophisicated, and in the end just lovelier. I began a mad search for it online, only to discover that it was a limited-edition fragrance that has been discontinued. How I wish I'd bought a bottle (or three) when I had the chance! I always seem to fall for the unattainable ones. How sad to discover my HG scent after it has vanished from the earth.

    28 August, 2008

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    Infusion d'Iris by Prada

    I'm not a fan of powder, and so had my doubts about this. But it surprised me. It has both a cool, mineral austerity and a wistful, abiding depth that reminds me of L'Heure Bleu in emotional tone if not in actual olfactory similarity. Infusion d'Iris manages to be sophisticated and well mannered while hinting at something passionate and ageless. It starts out as a light slip of a thing; then incense and cedar begin to emerge and anchor the soft floral and iris notes. Quite lovely, not a mainstream fragrance, and more original and interesting than Prada's original scent.

    15 August, 2008

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    Coze 02 by Parfumerie Generale

    I just unearthed a sample I've had for a while, was smitten, and had to order a bottle. Coze starts off spicy and slightly herbaceous, quickly cools down to a white smokiness, and lingers for hours with hints of dark chocolate and vanilla (which curiously are dry here, and not overly sweet. I'm not a big fan of gourmands -- most are cloying -- but manages to be both restrained and seductive). Definitely unisex, in my view, but not for ingenues of either gender.

    13 July, 2007

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    Black Orchid by Tom Ford

    Gawd! The name is so enticing, and the reality so crass! I love many complex and "challenging" orientals, but this is not among them. On first blast it has a sickly sweet gourmand, boozy, borderline rotten sweaty animal pong -- after a few moments I detect an ambery accord similar to the original Prada -- and then it quickly devolves into something anemic, faintly metallic, and synthetic. Beware.

    12 July, 2007 (Last Edited: 07 November, 2013)

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    L'Eau de Jatamansi by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    I haven't tried this yet, but Aedes describes it as a "spicy, aromatic iced tea blend" and a totally organic EDT, and lists the notes as follows: jatamansi, grapefruit, cardamom, clary sage, rose and ylang-ylang; Indian papyrus, incense and guaiacum.

    08 May, 2007

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    Badgley Mischka by Badgley Mischka

    To my nose this is a foodier version of Prada. Given the notes listed, Badgley Mischka is surprisingly cloying -- it gives the impression of booze, sugar, and caramel rather than fruit, flowers, and woods. I am not a fan, but can understand how others might like it. Very glad I bought a small sample before springing on a bottle.

    11th April, 2007

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    Le Dix by Balenciaga

    I wore this in the '90s and loved the wistfulness and elegance of the violet accord. A couple of years ago I bought another bottle (the EDT) and was stunned at the difference from my remembered, cherished scent: this was sharper, rougher (aldehydic), more powdery, and lacking the smooth translucence of the original (in fact, it reminded me more of Chanel No. 5, which I can't wear). I'm assuming this is another reformulated abomination. A tender masterpiece destroyed.

    06 April, 2007 (Last Edited: 07 November, 2013)

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    Tolu by Ormonde Jayne

    I second Ayala's review: this is warm, somewhat sweet and deep, and rather linear over the drydown -- and of course with that unmistakable Ormonde Jayne base. Has anyone else noted a striking similarity to Plus Que Jamais, which Guerlain released in 2005? PQJ may be a touch more foodie -- but otherwise these must have notes in common. Both are eminently wearable without being truly outstanding.

    13 March, 2007

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    Replique by Long Lost Perfume

    I just bought Replique (no doubt the reissued version) based on Moondeva's review, and my take on it is radically different. It is a powdery chypre, with somewhat harsh green/floral top notes and a slightly leathery, mossy base. I can't detect civet (the prominent animalic note in Tabu), musk or vanilla in this concoction, and would not imagine it as an inspiration for YSL Opium or any similarly lush, spicy oriental. In fact it doesn't strike me as an oriental -- or even a spicy floral -- at all. It does, however, have an old-school French sophistication on the drydown. I am more inclined to keep this in my collection as an example of a classic scent than to wear and enjoy it. Perhaps I have to keep trying it now and then.

    05 February, 2007

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    Rose Barbare by Guerlain

    No dainty tea roses here. Rose Barbare is noble and lovely -- a deep floral, conjuring images or red/black blooms, against a backdrop of woods and (to my nose) leather. This fragrance reminds me of Empreinte by Courreges (or at least my memory of it) -- profound, dry, soft (though not powdery), round and warm. It manages to be both dignified and enticing.

    30th January, 2007

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    Le Maroc pour Elle by Tauer

    I bought this based on Luca Turin's rave review (which likened it to a less brassy Bal a Versailles) and was surprised at how unlike BaV this is. It is an utterly distinctive dry exotic floral, but with an insistent, sweet and indefinably herbal joss-stick-like note that persists throughout the drydown. Another reviewer referred to "tasting" this fragrance, and that was how I experienced it, too; it permeates the nose and mouth. It took some getting used to, and I still have to be in a very particular, bohemian frame of mind to wear it. I prefer L'Air, and look forward to trying Orris.

    10th November, 2006

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    Lucifer No. 4 by Damien Bash

    The fragrance notes listed here are actually the ones for Lucifer No. 1.

    30th October, 2006

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    Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker

    Having read Chandler Burr's piece in the NY Times about the making of Lovely, I was expecting something slightly daring and exotic and was disappointed when I actually sampled it. It's got a bit of fizz in the opening, an unusual floral accord (not too sweet, at least), and then musk, musk, musk. I wish SJP had ignored the marketing people and launched the mysterious, sultry fragrance she'd concocted for her own use by mixing three separate scents together. Maybe her next fragrance will be more compelling.

    11th October, 2006

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    Chergui by Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido

    Chergui -- I want to devour it. A perfect balance of tobacco leaf, hay, honey, and very subtle herbaceous and floral notes. The tobacco is most prominent at first, and the hay and honey linger on the skin like late afternoon sun. One of the most compelling scents ever created.

    11th October, 2006

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    Carnal Flower by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

    Carnal Flower is one of those fragrances that changes fairly dramatically depending on my body chemistry (mood? hormones?). At times the eucalyptus is too sharp; at other times the musk is borderline cloying. But when the stars are all aligned, this is fabulous. Those floral compounds (indoles?) that mimic the scent of human skin are working overtime in this beauty. The scent stays close to the body, doesn't project much, but surrounds the wearer in a cloud of moist floral dreaminess. Sensuous, but understated.

    10th October, 2006

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    Mon Coeur by Fragonard

    Mon Coeur is a lovely blend of spring flowers, with tuberose at the forefront. It is reminiscent of Fracas and Versace Blonde, but is less flamboyant and narcotic than the former and more complex and refined than the latter. Has some depth and a sweet wistfulness.

    01st October, 2006

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    Scent Intense by Costume National

    A sexy, smoky concoction. I detect amber, most definitely, black tea, some kind of fruit (blackberry?), incense, and a strong wood note (gaiac?) similar to that in 10 Corso Como. (The wood smells aged and weathered, like that in an old church or seaside cottage, and seems to have a story to tell.) I'd assumed this was a cold-weather scent -- and maybe it blooms best in cooler temperatures -- but it's August 1st, and hot, and Scent Intense seems to blend seamlessly with the humid atmosphere. Not recommended for the timid or for lovers of lighthearted floral, oceanic, or sweet/fruity scents, this is a dark diva cloaked in mystery.

    01st August, 2006

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    V'E Versace by Versace

    I just rediscovered this in the back of my fragrance closet after having tucked it away a couple of years ago. VE is a classy chypre with green and floral notes. Very wearable with casual or elegant wear. Dries down to a soft, incensy finish. It's a sophisticated alternative spring/summer scent to all the light floral, fruity, and marine accords out there, but is suitable for any time of year.

    14 June, 2006

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