Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Marcelle

Total Reviews: 15

Green Tea by L'Occitane

I'm giving the solid version of this a thumbs up--the spray reminds me of a harsh sort of room fragrance and does not balance the tea and citrus all that well.

Occitane's take is a bright, citrusy green tea scent with a little bit of sweet floral tucked into the background. Bulgari's Au The Vert is a more complex scent--it's a more striking composition than this--but it's also colder and more austere. This is like a gin and tonic on a hot summer day: refreshing and just interesting enough. Good for a beach holiday--or for imagining oneself on a beach holiday while toiling at the office.
12th July, 2010

Oriental Musk by Ava Luxe

I ordered a decant of Oriental Musk along with a couple of other musks of the white/china bent. This one stands out--and not in a pleasant way, to my nose. First up is a note that initially registers as Mexican vanilla (or coumarin, maybe) and then quickly slides into synthetic butter cookie territory, followed immediately by something that smells most like cheap hairspray. The musk is hiding under this mess, somewhere, but at this point I've been wearing it for three hours and it hasn't dared to come out. Time for a good scrub of the wrists!
17th April, 2010

Jasmin Noir by Bulgari

I had a major infatuation with all scents Bulgari last year, maybe because the transparency of most of them really appealed to me. I work in an office where perfume can only be worn with great discretion, and Bulgari's quiet, close-to-the-skin offerings fill the bill quite nicely. On weekends in the depths of winter, though, I find myself wanting something with a little more heft and staying power. Jasmin Noir is a characteristically nice take on jasmine, rich and full but somehow still done in the sheer Bulgari style, which makes it both a great choice for people like me, who tend to avoid most full-on florals, and problematic for fans of stronger jasmine fragrances, like Alien. Hence all the neutral ratings, I'm guessing.

Here's what I like about it: nice, fresh, summery opening note of gardenia, followed quickly by loads of jasmine, followed by a creamy, woody base. It's jasmine lite, a rich floral/oriental for people who can't stomach rich floral/orientals. I think it's eminently wearable in a way that Alien, striking as it is, has never been for me, so I'm giving it a thumbs-up, with the caveat that if it's crazy, neon jasmine you want, Mugler's your man.

02nd February, 2010
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Back to Black by By Kilian

After reading raves about Back to Black I had to try a decant of it. The pyramid above leaves some notes out, in particular a really pronounced hit of honey in the opening along with something like cognac. The boozy quality fades quickly, but the honey hangs in there. The overall effect is girly, powdery and sweet, not at all the kind of sultry, densely layered experience I'd expected from descriptions of BtB. I had the strong sense that I'd smelled something very close to this before, and one evening it hit me: it smells almost exactly like a line of honey-scented bath products from Perlier. This is nice and cozy to sleep in, but definitely edge-free and much sweeter than I usually like.
07th November, 2009

Eau d'Iparie by L'Occitane

Fragrance Notes: Red pepper, rose, patchouli, labdanum, myrrh, incense, vanilla, moss

A lot of the Occitane fragrances are too sweet or too one-note for me, but not this one. After an opening of fresh-cut roses, the patchouli, labdanum, and incense predominate, but the rose never really disappears, and with the vanilla, keeps this from conjuring dusty cathedrals. I don't get much pepper from this, just rose balanced and anchored by the incense. The overall effect is warm, cozy, and more than a little sexy. A very affordable scent given its complexity, too. Love it.
07th October, 2009

Nu Eau de Parfum by Yves Saint Laurent

OK, I confess I'm puzzled. I got a decant of this thinking I'd love the floral/incense interplay. And black pepper and vetiver? Bring it on. But on my skin it didn't unfold in the lovely, layered way others have described. Instead this had two stages on me: first, an in-your-face, super-sweet floral opening (orchid, orchid, orchid: wherefore art thou, bergamot?) that would send the perfumophobes in my office running to phone HR. Then, about 10 minutes later, the woozy floral receded and I got something I'd describe as Opium lite: the same sort of spicy incense, but with much, much less sillage. I'd consider spritzing this one on and keeping all the windows open until the orchid faded, but then again, I could just buy a more straightforward incense frag and leave it at that. Perhaps the edt provides more of the sheer layers others have written about--I'd like that. But for me this manages to be both too much and not enough.
07th October, 2009

Gotham by Neil Morris Fragrances

Bigsly nailed this for me: it's a little like Ysatis (which I used to love) wrapped in narcissus (meh) with a warm undertow of leather and amber. I don't know what to make of it, quite, on the one hand, the opening blast is a little too sweet for me, and the drydown is old-school amber and labdanum. But then again, just when you think you've got it pegged as something from grandma's closet or your hippie college days, you catch the pepper or the leather or that leafy note (myrtle?) and it impresses with its layers. It's overwhelmingly masculine and overwhelmingly feminine at the same time--and that's both the beauty and the beast of it.

I'm not so much neutral about this as ambivalent. I don't know that I'll ever invest in a full bottle, but I know I'll be back.
05th October, 2009

Ysatis by Givenchy

I wore this briefly, while I was living in Russia as an exchange student during a long, long winter. It's a long-lasting oriental that smells very grown up, and even, on the wrong person, a little old. It was perfect for Moscow in the still-Soviet 80s, where most of the women were wearing furs, high-heeled boots, and full makeup, day and night, but it feels out of place to me now. For someone with vintage taste in fragrance, though, it would be just the thing

25th January, 2009

Black by Bulgari

My husband and I split on this one when we both tried it. I loved the vague new tire aspect, accompanied by a pretty muted, subdued blend of vanilla, tea, and spices; he couldn't get past the rubber. To me, this is a very refined, perfectly turned out person (of any gender--Black is truly unisex to my nose) sitting in a new car. Interesting and a little unpredictable. Edgy? Not so much--like the other Bulgari tea fragrances this one is pretty Apollonian. If you like your fragrances to evolve as you wear them, Black isn't the thing for you. On the other hand, if you like it at first spritz, you'll probably like it until it disappears.

24th January, 2009

Omnia by Bulgari

I spent the last couple of days nipping in to a Sephora in midtown Manhattan to test a half-dozen Bulgari fragrances. This and Black were my favorites, though I see potential for the the blanc and vert once the weather warms up a bit. Omnia is warm and soothing, the perfect thing for weekends in cool weather. The opening is bergamot, but then I quickly get an array of chai spices, especially cardamom and a bit of black pepper. The base is sandalwood, with subtle hints of cedar, musk, and even a bit of soft leather. The effect is balanced and subtle-- I love that it has gourmand notes without slipping over into vanilla-marshmallow territory. The pepper and warm woods keep things clean and refined. Omnia is feminine but not at all cloying and would be great on men as well.

Omnia stays close to the skin, making it a possibility for settings where a more powerful oriental would get in the way. Longevity is only fair on me, but this is one that could be layered or reapplied during the day. Originally thought to order a mini but am leaning heavily toward a full bottle purchase.
24th January, 2009

Insensé by Givenchy

Back in the 90s, Givenchy was promoting Insense and Amarige as his-and-her scents. I sniffed Insense first, loved it, and then proceeded to spritz my wrists with Amarige. BIG MISTAKE! I thought I'd been trapped in an old lady's hankie drawer--drove home with my wrist hanging out the open car window, then scrubbed furiously, and got a migraine for my pains anyway. I returned two days later and bought the Insense. The combination of the citrus-and-basil topnotes and floral heart completely won me over.

This is a bright, green scent--floral understood as something intensely alive rather than sweet and delicate. Having worn both Cristalle and Chanel No. 19, I thought I could pull this off as an office fragrance. But in meetings where there were only or mostly women, people kept asking, "Is someone wearing aftershave?" It's the balsam, mesdames--don't be fooled by the floral designation. After the first half-hour or so this registers resolutely masculine to just about everyone but me. I got tired of explaining and so gave it up. I still think it's good stuff, but can't convince any men I know to try it.
05th January, 2009

Aromatic Fragrance of Guajaco Wood by I Coloniali

I am a huge fan of this fragrance--on men. I don't find it the least bit sweet and probably wouldn't wear it myself, even though I like many men's scents and like woods in general. On my spouse, this one is warm and smooth, with a bit of spice, but the overwhelming impression is warm wood. Better for cooler weather, imho.
05th January, 2009

Brooks Brothers for Men by Brooks Brothers

This is my husband's go-to fragrance. Not my #1 favorite of those in his collection, but it is, as others have noted, very old-school, clean but umabiguously masculine. I agree with Toughcool that the dry-down is the best part. This is most definitely the olfactory equivalent of pinstripes. Not daring, but tastefully done.
05th January, 2009
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Roma by Laura Biagiotti

I first wore Roma in 1990, when I bought it in a duty-free shop in Germany. It was a very wearable scent, distinctive but not obtrusively so, but since it was not readily available in US, once the bottle ran out I moved on.

Just recently bought a bottle online. I was blown away by the opening notes of citrus--not the cassis/mint I remembered but something more like a full-on blast of grapefruit. After the first 5 or 10 minutes, the citrus calms down and the floral and creamy notes I remember from before take over. I noticed that this is now produced in the UK rather than Italy and suspect it may have been reformulated once the site of production shifted. Too bad--I think the new version is a bit less balanced.

As others have noted, this is pretty powdery, but the carnation, a bit of patchouli, and the hint of civet in the base give it enough spice to be interesting.
26th December, 2008

Anaïs Anaïs by Cacharel

This was the first "real" perfume I ever used, which I purchased at 13. I thought it was wonderfully elegant and grown-up. The following summer, I went on exchange to the south of France. My host Mom promptly declared Cacharel a "minor" house and took me to the Chanel counter, where the clerk hooked me up with Chanel Cristalle. A couple of decades and many fragrances later, this smells pretty insipid, but as an entry-level soft floral for someone in her early teens, it's inoffensive enough.
21st December, 2008