Reviews

Reviews by Bartlebooth

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Armani Eau de Nuit by Giorgio Armani

Delight in the iconic Armani bottle(rendered super cool by the inky glass), but don't expect much after the atomiser has been deployed.

It is in essence a more expensive and muscular version of Cavalli Black. They share the same monochromatic early and middle phases, and it's as bleak and featureless an olfactory landscape as you will find anywhere. It is dry, peppery, and slightly spicy, but it lacks nuance, creativity and is rather predictable.

The light at the end of a seemingly interminable tunnel is the endearing dry down. It may be familiar, but the sweet tonka and amber finish is surprisingly robust, and plays well against the pinched dryness of the cedar.

The final couple of hours almost compensate for the preceding dreariness, but not quite.
24th June, 2014 (last edited: 28th August, 2014)

Armani Eau d'Arômes by Giorgio Armani

I am not entirely sure what value there is in producing a skin scent with a thirty minute lifespan, but perhaps Armani could enlighten us. Aside from the rather fetching bottle, Eau d’Aromes is a feeble simulacrum of Eau Pour Homme, and succeeds only in swelling Armani's considerable catalogue of deadwood.

The citrus and herbal accord that is briefly created is redolent of its 80s forebear, but never remotely recreates the flawed genius of the original. Eau d’Aromes is forgettable and rather unnecessary.
17th June, 2014

Portrait for Men by Paul Smith

Aside from the sublime first twenty minutes of Paul Smith Story, this is a brand that has failed to inspire me with any of its offerings. There is often a high level of creativity and invention in their releases, but as yet I have detected little evidence of a fragrance which maintains a consistently high quality throughout.

The opening twenty minutes of Portrait for Men does little to dispel my pessimism. There is an interesting piquancy in the top notes, brisk and warming, but it is underscored by a powdery yet strangely cloying presence. This is akin to inhaling the contents of a very old make-up bag with the souls of redundant cosmetic items spiralling up into my brain.

The slightly peppery and oriental feel is maintained through the first few hours, but it is enhanced by a geranium note that is easy to detect and adds depth to a rather simple idea. Sadly, the continued presence of the greasepaint that I detected in the opening is continued well into the heart notes, and it mars what could have been an interesting idea.

It is a very simple finish, dry wood and musk, lightly spiced and this final phase has the advantage of considerable longevity. It is no surprise that once Portrait has dispensed with the antiquated cosmetics vibe, that it does blossom and display some real quality.

Many have alluded to its similarity to Gucci II, and this may very well be true, but when my nose needs to do battle with such a gloopy backdrop, it all seems rather academic. This is another swing and miss from Paul Smith. It is not without merit, and it is quite unusual, but the first few hours are wretched.
31st October, 2013
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Gentlemen Only by Givenchy

I am a fervent admirer of Givenchy Gentlemen, both the vintage and modern versions are heavyweight fragrances, and certainly not for the faint of heart. I was therefore intrigued to see Gentlemen Only be pitched into the mix, especially as Givenchy were bold enough to utilise the original bottle design and appended moniker.

The opening is dominated by a sour mandarin note that not only mars the balance of the top notes, but lingers long enough to spoil the first couple of hours. The top notes, although subverted by the mandarin, hint at a soft green presence, but curiously also create an accord reminiscent of wilting violets.

Within a couple of hours it is clear that Gentlemen Only has the fragrant complexity of a supermarket shower gel. The heart notes are a woolly blend of cedar, patchouli and vetiver and they cultivate little more than indifference to this nose.

It is clear from the outset that Gentlemen Only has had very little creative energy spent on it, and if anything, it becomes blander the longer it is worn. If it had some of the bombast and self-confidence of its older sibling one could at least applaud the attempt. Quite who this was aimed at, or why it was created at all, are complete mysteries to me.
30th October, 2013

Cacharel Pour L'Homme by Cacharel

The most recent version of L’homme comes with a new vessel design; the faux metal skirt that was originally below the waist of the bottle has now been hitched up beneath the collar. No doubt this has been done to show off the scars and stitches from the castration that Cacharel have inflicted. This act of perfume barbarism has silenced the glorious nutmeg note to little more than a whisper. The interminable, but charming nutmeg was always its main selling point, and now that is has been diminished, any real reason for ownership has been extinguished.

Scarcely has the difference between an original and a reformulation been greater, so do yourself a favour, wear out some cyber shoe leather and seek out the original.

Pros: None
Cons: Sillage and Longevity
26th August, 2013 (last edited: 13th February, 2014)

Antaeus by Chanel

Antaeus is a slick Chanel vehicle that glides beyond me with little opportunity for examination or osmosis. It is undoubtedly a fragrance to be worn when you want the world to know just how hard you are trying.

The majority of the constituent parts are fine renditions – notably from patchouli, sandalwood and oakmoss. Sadly, the same cannot be said of the presence of beeswax, which pervades much of the lifespan. It is excessive, intrusive and induces the same olfactory fatigue as it does in the equally flawed Sartorial by Penhaligon’s. The interminable sheen that it produces masks any of the subtleties that are contained within. Antaeus seemingly encourages admiration but not examination. You can drool on the glass case, but don’t lift the lid up.

I am loath to assail the Antaeus reputation too vigorously, as it does succeed in projecting a potent formal efficacy. However, these days, it is usually an unthinking moment when my hand reaches for the bottle, and it has become a response to my most basic of fragrance needs. It was once better, and it remains competent, but it is some distance away from greatness.

09th August, 2013 (last edited: 13th February, 2014)

Patchouly Leaves by Monotheme

This is an ideal fragrance for those that want to experience the intoxicating ruggedness of patchouli without it projecting far beyond their own skin. Subsequent stages are mellower,and even feel a little sweeter, but it also diminishes to the point of invisibility inside about 3 hours. It's a valiant attempt from Monotheme, but it is handicapped by its impotence. Should I succumb to one of my infrequent cravings, I will take my patchouli from Etro .
11th February, 2013

Guerlain Homme L'Eau Boisée by Guerlain

L'Eau Boisée is an improvement on the original Homme, with the cheap mojito vibe having had the alcohol removed. The result is a simple,light and usable fragrance that opens with a pleasing lime note and concludes with a balanced wood and vetiver drydown. None of the Guerlain Homme variants are world beaters, but L'Eau Boisée is top of its own little pile.
11th February, 2013

Vanille Extreme by Comptoir Sud Pacifique

They certainly weren't guilty of hyperbole when they named Vanille Extreme. Given its slightly ludicrous premise, it's actually great fun. This is no cloying splodge of dessert, but an instant and vertiginous spike of cool, milky vanilla. Just grab a spoon and let this gourmand bring a smile to your face
11th February, 2013

Aloha Tiaré / Tiaré by Comptoir Sud Pacifique

This is a floral with significant presence. The tiare flower has such a bold personality, that it was probably wise to underscore it with softer players such as vanilla and coconut. However, given its wholly assertive personality and density, it will repel as many as it attracts. I have some admiration for Aloha Tiare, but I had a feeling that it would eventually overpower me
11th February, 2013

Vanille Ambre by Comptoir Sud Pacifique

This is Sud Pacifique's least creative and effective use of vanilla so far. The low risk middle of the road approach is not something I am used to, and it all feels very low key and predictable. It is however, quite relentless in its ability to project and survive. It's a soft palatable fusion of sweet elements, but it becomes tedious all too quickly. This company offers far more entertaining options elsewhere in its catalogue.
11th February, 2013

Spicebomb by Viktor & Rolf

I should begin by commending V&R for trying very hard in getting the product to resemble its title. However,in general terms, it feels like Robert Cavalli's Black with a few extra condiments thrown in. I did enjoy the opening five minutes or so, but that is about as good as it gets. Subsequent phases are a mixture of non-descript accords and occasional bouts of dead air. Structurally, Spicebomb is all over the place, but at least they have made the bottle easy to throw.
11th February, 2013

Eau Sauvage Parfum by Christian Dior

If Eau Sauvage Parfum had been released without the original having existed, I probably would have welcomed it as being an item of retro chic. It is not an enhancement of the original in anyway, but it does share the same DNA. The opening is much more citrus-centric, and it is pleasing, evoking a certain antique vibe. There are no nuanced subtleties to enjoy, this is more a fragrance of three distinct phases. Citrus, woods, and then a decent vetiver finish. For me it doesn't quite work as a whole. It feels contrived and a little ordinary.

Not only should you stick to the original issue of Eau Sauvage, go vintage too
11th February, 2013
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Vanille Abricot by Comptoir Sud Pacifique

I have tried almost the entire CSP catalogue, and one of the certainties is that every issue will be distinctly linear in construction. When they get it right, you get a fun fragrance, well executed, and plenty of potency. When they get it as wrong, as they have with Vanille Abricot, you get the smell of strawberry candy clinging to your skin for almost the entire day.
11th February, 2013

L'Occitan by L'Occitane

I find EDL sufficiently askew from my normal winter applications to warrant ever more frequent use during the cooler months. The combination of ingredients is not especially innovative, but there is something about the roughly-hewn character of this fragrance that makes it so appealing. The pepper and lavender combination gives it a menthol/herbal effect that I find simultaneously bracing and soothing.
11th February, 2013

Coco Figue by Comptoir Sud Pacifique

It is certainly some feat for one company to create so many usable fragrances for the warmer months. Coco Figue has a luscious, cool and wet character, with the coconut note being a useful diversion from what would be a rather sticky and dense fig presence. On those days of genuinely oppressive heat, I used to enjoy the fragrant relief of Creed's Virgin Island Water, but in future, Coco Figue might be a more entertaining option
11th February, 2013

Coco Extreme by Comptoir Sud Pacifique

On the day that I sampled Coco Extreme, I had Vanille Extreme on my other hand. It was an interesting contest between these two "Extremes", and I have to say that Vanille was the more entertaining and wearable. Coco certainly shares that ability to slake that thirst for freshness, but it just becomes a little too much after only a couple of hours. It is by no means cloying, but I clearly possess insufficient insulin to counteract the prodigious sweetness. Better fragrance options exist elsewhere in the considerable CSP hit parade.
11th February, 2013

Vanille Coco by Comptoir Sud Pacifique

Surely there must be a limit to the number of combinations you can make from the titles of Vanille, Coco and Ambre? Vanille Coco makes decent use of CSP's frequently used coconut note, but the milky vanilla slightly overshadows it. In its favour it does project well and lasts an eternity.

There is certainly very little to choose between the Coco titled fragrances, but I probably prefer the slightly kooky Coco Figue.
11th February, 2013

Kokorico by Jean Paul Gaultier

As many others have already alluded to, the bottle is a delightfully bizarre creation, but very much in the spirit of Gaultier. In terms of the juice stored within, I am less enamored. To me it is begins in a fairly shrill manner, and has the spikiness normally found in a heap of civet. There is a note early on that I can only describes as sweet cardboard, and I have encountered a few times in modern fragrances,and never with a happy nose. It does soften and smooth into a dry woody/vetiver presence, but it is hardly a delight to spend one's time with. On the plus side, for those that love it, it lasts an eternity.
11th February, 2013

Bois de Filao by Comptoir Sud Pacifique

Bois de Filao is certainly not a fragrance where it is easy to pick out individual notes. It feels dense, muddled and of the calibre of perfume that one would normally detect as a by-product of some cosmetic product.

Not that it would be difficult, but the drydown is a significant improvement. It's a straight up and down wood and musk finish, but it is a blessed relief from the early untidiness. Bois de Filao was not one of CSPs better days in the lab.
29th January, 2013

Aqua Motu / Motu by Comptoir Sud Pacifique

It is probably best not to examine the constituent parts of Aqua Motu too closely. The bottom line is that it works as a simple segue into a fresh, light and refreshing environment. The aquatic genre is not generally known as a seam of great creativity, but Aqua Motu is certainly a couple of clicks away from expected generic soup. This is Sud Pacifique getting it right, and I think is an example of what they try to achieve across the board. Motu is simply great fun, and I look forward to using it in the next heatave
29th January, 2013

Mora Bella / Fruits Sauvages by Comptoir Sud Pacifique

This fruit melange from Sud Pacifique certainly has some interesting phases, but as a whole I find it a little indistinctive. Its dense wall of berry sweetness is an interesting premise, but certainly not one that will hold your rapt attention for more than an hour or so. I would have liked Mora Bella to develop and evolve instead of grating on me so quickly
29th January, 2013

Aqua Marina by Monotheme

Acqua Marina does feel a little generic, but the fresh calone opening is enjoyable and not excessively cloying or intrusive. However, there is little in the heart notes and drydown to elevate this above the fragrant quality of a decent shower gel. The woody, sweet finish is pleasant enough, but it is not one of the better fragrances in the Monotheme range
28th January, 2013

L'Homme Sport by Roger & Gallet

Overall, L'homme Sport is a competent addition to the R&G stable, but the "Sport" appendage is predictably superfluous. Quite why it has been added to the name of the rather excellent original L'homme is frankly mystifying. They have very little in common in style or quality.

The dry, woody opening feels a little synthetic, but a little patience does reveal a sunnier disposition. A warm sandalwood presence is supported by a distant but tenacious vetiver note. This accord is maintained throughout, even when RGLS becomes sweeter and spicier in the latter stages. The balance is good, and the longevity and sillage are modest but acceptable.

It is significantly inferior to the original, but you could do a lot worse than L'homme Sport.
28th January, 2013

Mage D'Orient by Comptoir Sud Pacifique

The fusion of the opening notes conjures up quite a wall of fresh, fruity sweetness, and it's an interesting trade off between the tart citric elements and the fruit exotica. There is a very clean lime note that survives well into the drydown, and it ensures that Mage D'Orient does not become too sentimental. Overall, it's a fragrance that doesn't quite win me over, but I can see its appeal
28th January, 2013

Amour de Cacao by Comptoir Sud Pacifique

I should declare from the outset that the gourmand is not normally a genre of fragrance that I find especially attractive. However, there is something to be said for the chilly, chocolate and vanilla ice cream effect that has been created. It also narrowly avoids toppling over into excess, as in time this could easily have become cloying and annoying.

I may well come back to Amour De Cacao and learn how to appreciate the self-indulgence.
28th January, 2013

Vetiver Bourbon by Monotheme

A very simple vetiver that feels a little like the old EDC version from Guerlain. It isn't accompanied by any other meaningful notes but the clean, slightly nutty vetiver feels light and airy. I can well imagine using this in high temperatures as a source of light refreshment. It doesn't project a great deal, but for the wearer, it is a comforting presence
27th January, 2013

Bergamotto by Monotheme

Save for the first few minutes of Bergamotto, there is very little to discern or enjoy. The vaunted citrus character that should have been on display here, makes the briefest of appearances before receding and allowing the fragrance to settle into a sort of musky plain.This may be a modestly priced EDT, but the quality simply isn't there
26th January, 2013

Euphoria Men by Calvin Klein

My overriding sensation when experiencing Euphoria is of a fragrance that feels both slick and cynical. I know all formulations are man-made, but rarely is it as obvious as it is here.

A rather acrid and contrived opening employs a villainous combination of ginger and pepper notes, and It is no small mercy that this episode of ersatz piquancy is short-lived. Beyond this excessively chemical opening, Euphoria does jettison much of the ugliness and enters a calmer and more balanced phase. The problem here is that it has virtually no presence on my skin. I could probably extract as much potency from a sample printed in a magazine. The relatively brief lifespan is largely spent between two states, namely bad and bland. Sadly, Euphoria is yet another entrant in the long list of Calvin Klein failures. Avoid.
26th January, 2013

L'Homme by Roger & Gallet

Very little ever gets written about R&G L’homme, but it is a consummate performer with some very satisfying phases. None more so than the opening, which is one of my favourite entrées of any fragrance. The blend of citrus and nutmeg garnished with a hint of mint is twenty minutes of heaven. It also has a slightly soapy sheen, but it’s certainly no distraction. I am not normally a top notes kind of guy, but I would probably still wear L’homme if this was all there was.

The rest of the L’homme experience may not live up to the opening, but there is still much to delight in. It is certainly woodier in the heart and base, but it also sweetens into the second hour or so. The soapiness is evident well into the heart notes, but almost extinguished once it dries down. L’homme concludes as a warm, sweet and slightly spiced fragrance that works on almost all levels.

It’s certainly no powerhouse, but both longevity and sillage are more than adequate. With its modest retail price I shall grab myself another bottle before they change it again.
26th January, 2013