Perfume Reviews

Reviews by rogalal

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Sacred Wood by By Kilian

A nice sandalwood. It's the Australian kind that smells sort of green and coconutty, as opposed to the Indian kind that smells like butter and sawdust. It reminds me of Le Labo's Santal 33, but sort of milky and with a sappy quality that brings to mind the smell of breaking open an aloe leaf to release its liquid. I also smell a hint of tuberose - not enough that it should scare anyone away, but just a little, working with the lactic notes to give a subtle milky femininity to what would otherwise be vaguely masculine.

All in all, I prefer my sandalwoods rough, as opposed to this milky and pretty, but Sacred Wood is still quite nice. Thumbs up.
22nd January, 2016

Good girl gone Bad : Splash of Neroli by By Kilian

I'm having a hard time getting to know this perfume because it seems to knock out my nose every time I spray it, so it doesn't smell like much of anything on my skin, while I'm conscious that there's a loud bubble of scent surrounding me. All I can really smell is that peach note that I'm utterly sick of, mixed with something vaguely woody and some coconut, while effusive, abstract flowers hover in my vicinity.

All in all, this is just frustrating, so I give up. Thumbs down because I don't like perfumes that are formulated in such a way that I can't smell them. Oh, and also because of that stupid peach.
22nd January, 2016

Soir d'Orient by Sisley

A dark but surprisingly wearable scent clearly intended to cash in on the oud trend, despite its lack of oud. It's largely woody, peppery saffron with rose in the background. There's also a sweet green candied pine smell in there that's responsible for a lot of Soir d'Orient's appeal, taking the edge off the saffron while giving a laudably intelligent sweet brightness to something that could have been a goth nightmare.

Given time, the base is largely frankincense and lingering pine, with a touch of patchouli to give it a jammy depth.

All in all, I like it but don't love it. It manages to take ingredients that have been overused lately in the niche and luxury markets and make them smell like something new and different, which definitely earns a thumbs up, but it's hard to shake that this is just another player, albeit a good one, in a crowded field, so I just don't really feel like I need a whole bottle.
21st January, 2016
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Amber Queen by A Dozen Roses

First, I should say that this perfume is named after a kind of rose called Amber Queen, and is not actually an amber perfume, despite the listed note.

It’s actually a rose scent, topped with that generic fruity floral mix of cheap peach and strawberry that you smell everywhere. At this point, I’m convinced that it’s technically impossible for any perfume that features this particular fruit mix to smell expensive or luxurious, and Amber Queen is doing nothing to change my mind. This just smells like a thousand other peachy florals.

Finally, after a couple of hours, once the peach releases its stranglehold, I’m left with unconvincing rose over a smudge of greens. I don’t see any reason to bother with this, unless you’re a big enough fan of commonplace peach perfumes that you enjoy comparing and contrasting their similarities.
20th January, 2016

Love, Ralph Lauren by Ralph Lauren

Love starts off promising, with sparkling, effervescent peach and a polite burst of powder over fruits and roses. But alas, it's a textbook case of toploading, making the first minute or two of a perfume smell great so it's appealing on a paper strip in a store, then letting everything quickly crumble into a cheap mess.

In Love's case, it ends up smelling like the odor emanating from a Bath & Body Works store at the mall, a sweet mix of fake tropical punch fruits, fake rose, and fake clovey Christmas potpourri. It's pleasant in a pedestrian chemical odorant sort of way, better than many other fruity floral perfumes, but still not especially good.
20th January, 2016

Anné Pliska by Anné Pliska

Perfectly pleasant amber. It's kind of old fashioned with its powdery topnotes paired against sour green chypre elements. As the powder fades, it takes on a vague fruity undertone and pleasant soapy muskiness.

I can see why people love this, but I can also see why one could find it a little dull. It's mostly basenotes, so there's not a lot of excitement or changes through the day, but it smells good, so thumbs up!
19th January, 2016

Soleil Blanc by Tom Ford

To my nose, this is really heavy on coconut, paired up with that green Australian sandalwood that also smells coconutty. There are some flowers and musky salt in the background that give it that Fire Island suntan-lotion-on-a-body effect, and this shares some indolic floral dna with Black Orchid as well. It's kind of creamy and hints at candied amber and may appeal to Himalaya fans, but at heart, this is a fairly feminine beachy perfume aimed at coconut fans. As such, it's fine, but if I were in this sort of mood, I'd pick Black Orchid or Fire Island over this, as they both have a lot more character without getting so lost in coconut.
16th January, 2016

Saks Fifth Avenue Las Vegas by Bond No. 9

A fairy dark interpretation of rhubarb and cassis, played out over deep, jammy patchouli and thick roses and red wine. It's subtly smoky and there's a dark, inky quality to it. All that being said, the fruits are the stars of the show, but this dates back to the time when Bond was really putting some effort into making creative fruity florals, so it's actually fairly nice, if not really my cup of tea. Personally, I'll stick to CDG2, for its darker, less fruity take on this genre, while still giving Las Vegas a thumbs up.
15th January, 2016

10 Corso Como by 10 Corso Como

To me, the brilliance of 10 Corso Como comes from its precarious balancing act, a complicated yin/yang that I've never smelled elsewhere.

At its core, 10 Corso Como should be rough - it's built on rose and rubbery oud and charred leather and smoky incense, flavored with raspberry and dill. This should be one of those brutally dark, jagged perfumes, but it's not. Somehow, it's creamy and soft and warm and feminine, the olfactory equivalent of petting a bunny or enjoying a creamy pudding.

And that's what makes 10 Corso Como one of the most legendary and timeless niche perfumes. It's also why people call it dull, but anything that passes through roses and iris and oud and smoky campfires and leather and vinegar and myrrh while maintaining a creamy softness is certainly not dull to me. I should share that it took me years to finally "get" 10 Corso Como - I thought it was just sort of odd and dull for years myself, but once I reached a point where I was ready, its greatness finally made sense. Thumbs way up!
09th January, 2016

Hermitage Heritage by Krigler

A perfume dedicated to hermits?

Hermitage Heritage basically combines that really common grape smell you get in a LOT of mainstream aquatic or "woody amber" men's scents with traditional masculine powerhouse elements, heavy on green herbs and dark woods. The chypre base is thinner than I would have liked, especially for the price, but it's fine for what it is.

I've said this in other reviews of similar scents, notably Ulrich Lang's Anvers and Bond's Saks Fifth Ave for Him, but those grape topnotes are a total cliche, and the masculine herbal middle notes are as well, albeit in a retro way. But somehow they take something that should have been awful and actually make it work, and it's worth noting that Hermitage is the best of the pack. It's nothing to write home about, but pleasant and decent and perfect for work.
08th January, 2016

Champfleury 132 by Krigler

Champfleury is built on upfront juniper berry and lavender, with spices like sage and tarragon livening it up, so it's got a retro powerhouse vibe. It's also got that incredibly common mix of violets and stuff that smells like grape drink, so it's got a modern flair as well.

Honestly, I think the grape note cheapens the whole thing, and I prefer my powerhouses woody and leathery as opposed to spicy (tarragon is such a weird smell, adding a weird oily depth to everything that makes no sense with the grape). All things considered, Champfleury isn't bad but isn't winning me over, either.

Incidentally, Krigler has another masculine called Hermitage Heritage that also pairs that grape note with retro powerhouse elements. I find it better than Champfleury, for what it's worth.
08th January, 2016

Sartorial by Penhaligon's

Interesting. Like a cross between Brut and Grey Flannel, heavy on the metallic violet leaf and minty lavender. There's an ozone element as well, like the smell of aluminum foil, as well as some cinnamon/mace pie spices. The whole thing comes together to smell like an abstract warm brown mix of woody earth, dank greens, pie, and outer space.

Personally, though I can see how they contribute quite a bit to the modernization and artistry of this scent, I find the ozone distracting and unnecessary, so I'm only voting neutral. Personally, I'll just stick to Brut.
06th January, 2016

Ao by Mikmoi

What a terrifying acid trip of a perfume... I've never smelled anything like this, which is definitely a compliment, but it's not for the squeamish.

The star of Ao (and the source of the fireworks) is a big gob of currant, complete with its frightening animalic cat pee smell, all upfront and horrid. Adding to it, you know how tuberose flowers start smelling minty as they die? Ao features a mix of tuberose and mint that's equal parts decaying flowers and mouthwash. There's a hint of tropicality with the coconut, but it's more just another layer of strangeness than anything warm. It all comes together to smell like a cat poop soaked in coconut rum mixed with some sort of weird dead-tuberose-flavored mouthwash and decaying plants.

To be fully honest, I can't believe someone actually released Ao. It's weird and gross but also gleefully twisted and I'm not sure they actually intended it this way. It kept my nose glued to my arm all day, which is definitely a compliment. It's so offputtingly compelling that I can't give it a thumbs down, but there's no way I'm giving it a thumbs up either, so I'll give it a neutral...
05th January, 2016
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Yiska by Tallulah Jane

Yiska very much smells like a natural perfume, that crowded mix of notes and undertones you get when you mix a lot of complex essential oils together. The focus is on mint, but it's like mint mixed with the weird wet smell of an aquarium store, and even that only lasts temporarily before the whole thing breaks down into multi-layered sludge. Lavender and green tea also manage to rise above the fray for a while, but the real star of Yiska is that essential oil smell.

05th January, 2016

Explorer by Boadicea the Victorious

I'm quite enjoying this one, despite all the bad reviews. On me, Explorer smells like woods mixed with boozy immortelle and dark rum. It's undeniably dark, like a song in a minor key, though I find it much more natural smelling than the other reviewers here. There's a quiet opoponax giving it a loamy earth smell, which gives way to Lutens-esque dried fruits soaked in booze as the day goes on. The whole thing reminds me of that mix of resins that Andy Tauer uses quite often, but set against booze and dark, damp woods.

My only real complaint is that it comes off fairly linear. The transition from earthy to fruity is subtle - the boozy wood is always in the forefront and doesn't change much. That being said, I like the smell so Explorer earns a thumbs up from me!
04th January, 2016

Coup de Foudre by Delrae

Meh. Peachy rose with weird minty greens underneath. It comes off like a classier Florabotanica before ending up as vague rose over effusive, thin woods and soap. It's got that frustrating effect where I vaguely smell something there, but it knocks out my nose, so I don't actually smell the scent as is. I guess this could be considered artful (naturalistic roses surrounded by vague artificiality - that could be considered a statement, I guess).

The vagueness plus the mint that I don't really care for equals a middling neutral review. Though, if you like your roses oddly thin and surrounded by frustrating chemicals, this may make for an interesting abstraction.
03rd January, 2016

Armani Privé Encens Satin by Giorgio Armani

Interesting, but not quite...

The star of the show is frankincense, paired with greens. It smells like bergamot and mossy galbanum with vetiver, but instead of calling to mind a rich chypre, the greens mostly just make the incense sort of sour. There's also a dusty oak smell, and something sweet in there (I don't get the offending fruit others are disliking).

It all comes together to be OK, but nothing too special. It's not bad, but there are much more interesting incense perfumes out there. Meh.
03rd January, 2016

Good Fir 11 by Krigler

Probably just because of the silly name, I've been trying for years to convince myself to like Good Fir. Unfortunately, I just can't seem to make it work for me.

The star of the smell is that fake pine smell I associate with those tree-shaped air fresheners for cars (and also with Pine-Sol). There's mint on top, which gives a sort of icy vibe, as well as vetiver, which mostly seems to impart a dirt sort of smell. The main issue is what I think is probably blackcurrant, which has a strong cat pee quality, as well as some unnamed musk that makes the whole thing smell like a cleaning product. As such, what's supposed to be a walk in the forest smells to me like a freshly scrubbed but still unclean bathroom.

Given time, the cleaning product associations go away when the scent takes on a sweet, candied quality which I kind of don't like either.

Oh well. I guess this one just isn't for me.
31st December, 2015

Tuscan Scent White Mimosa by Salvatore Ferragamo

I was quite impressed with the other two Ferragamo black bottle exclusifs, but I'm liking White Mimosa a little less. It's one of those perfumes that has a lot of unrelated ingredients rattling around for a while before it starts making sense, and even then it's decent but not that great.

There's mimosa, of course, but fairly quiet and mostly buried in a white flowers accord. There's a sort of cardboard-smelling chemical wood smell, as well as a big shot of cloves mixed with cinnamon. Once it all comes together, it's kind of like a powdery floral perfume mixed with dusty Christmas potpourri, or maybe an awkward, flowery, sort-of-feminine-but-also-woody Spicebomb flanker.

Given time, the white florals win out, sort of powdery and with ambery chocolate underneath, like a feminine floral version of Dior Homme with added spices. The drydown is quite weak, so I'm having trouble really understanding it, though it definitely seems to be the highlight of the perfume.

All in all, White Mimosa feels a little off, dustier and more powdery than it needs to be, while the potpourri smell cheapens things up unnecessarily. That being said, the base could easily appeal to flowery chocolate lovers, while the opening could be a winner for Spicebomb fans looking for something "prettier".
29th December, 2015

Enlévement au Sérail / FK3 by MDCI

Hmmm. Enlévement au Sérail is clearly trying to be a modern version of the classic powdery aldehydic floral chypre. My issue is really whether or not I think that's a good idea.

It starts off promising, a green chypre smell paired with peachy, non-distinct flowers. However, where I would have expected shimmering aldehydes and powder, Enlévement uses the smell of soap and shampoo instead. Then, given a little time, the peach kind of overwhelms the flowers and the chypre ingredients. The result is better than your average soapy fruity floral perfume, but nowhere near as good as the great classics that clearly influenced this, so I'm kind of torn. This is much nicer than a basic mall perfume, but I don't want a dumbed down peach shampoo version of Mitsouko, especially at this price, so I'll just vote neutral and move on...
23rd December, 2015

Jasmine / Clair-Obscur by Keiko Mecheri

Just a note: this has been renamed and is now called Clair Obscur.

This is a beautiful floral perfume. Jasmine gets the starring role (and it's a beautiful jasmine, deep and slightly green like really good jasmine tea), but the supporting players are important and just as good, notably orange blossom, tuberose, roses, and heady realistic gardenia. The gardenia adds a rich butter and brie cheese quality to the perfume, a perfect overstuffed pillow for the jasmine and its heady indoles. Meanwhile, the orange blossom and tuberose combine to form a Giorgio Beverly Hills type of sweet feminity, while the rose, which is spicy and resinous and kind of citrusy, melts deliciously into the butter smell.

Clair Obscur is the kind of perfume that seems deceptively simple but smells different every time I sniff my arm. Necessary sniffing for jasmine fanatics and lovers of slightly difficult gardenias.
23rd December, 2015

Farnesiana by Caron

I've been wearing the current extrait and it's REALLY good. It's built on a nutty, doughy smell that reminds me of Mitsouko, but with mimosa and heliotrope instead of Mitsouko's peach and chypre. It's got the smell of an acacia tree, rich with pollen, as well as an undercurrent of honey and vanilla that adds a lot of richness. There's also sandalwood and maraschino cherries soaked in rum, and a hint of rose-flavored Turkish Delight candy. In total, it's one of those really complex old-school perfumes, where it's kind of amazing that it all comes together and works so magically.

It lasts forever, and my only small complaint is that the lingering base, 10 or 12 hours after application, is a mix of vanilla and talcum powder that I like less than the rest of the perfume. But that's just nitpicking - I'd eagerly declare Farnesiana to be one of the increasingly rare examples of true Grand Perfumery (yes, upper case and all) in there with Mitsouko, L'Heure Bleue, and the like, yes very much even in its current version. If you have a taste for the legends, you should seriously sample this...
19th December, 2015

Narcisse Noir by Caron

Really? Maybe it's just a drastic difference between the vintage and the current version that I'm sampling, but all I smell is grape Kool Aid, very obviously "inspired" by Dior's Poison.

With a gun held to my head, I could barely make out a smudge of sandalwood under the Kool Aid, but not a single pinch of indolic orange blossom or anything else everyone is talking about.

Judged as a modern fruity floral that smells like Kool Aid, it's not terrible, though it's quite thin and totally unnecessary. Anyone want to share a sample of the vintage?
19th December, 2015

Infini by Caron

Wow - this stuff is fantastic! For those who haven't smelled it, it's an aldehydic floral in the veins of Chanel No 5, but less sparkly and more down to earth, with Caron's signature mix of dusting powder and cloves. There's some green galbanum and a whiff of smoke, as well as a musky suede that come through in the middle.

It kind of reminds me of a much more refined Old Spice, in that the leather and smoke and cloves come together to form a meaty undertone to counterbalance all the powder and flowers. But really, Old Spice is beef jerky being smashed by a perfumed sledgehammer, while Infini is a carefully crafted bouquet in the kitchen of a castle on the French countryside.

The drydown remains flawless - first a mix of hyper-rich sandalwood and musks with a generous helping of rose, which gently fades to vanilla and spiced musks that last for a good 20 hours in the modern extrait version. Thumbs all the way up - this is truly grand perfumery!
16th December, 2015

Anvers by Ulrich Lang

This is another of those scents where all sorts of flowers and spices come together to smell like artificial grape. It's that really common grape smell you get in a LOT of mainstream aquatic or "woody amber" men's scents. Thankfully, Anvers avoids the grape's usual accompaniments and instead pairs it with a retro-80's lavender and spice mix, heavy on the green herbs and pie spices. The base is unfortunately thin - I was really hoping for a full-on chypre or maybe some leather, but it's mostly just a pale version of the cinnamon/herb middle paired with wispy woods.

Anvers's grape topnotes are a total cliche, and the masculine herbal middle notes are as well, albeit in a retro way. But somehow they take something that should have been awful and actually make it work. It's no materpiece, mind you, but it's a perfect example of that level of niche that's just a little above mainstream, broadly appealing but lacking in deeper artistry. Not bad, but not amazing. Wear it to work...
10th December, 2015

Albi by Laura Tonatto

I find it worrisome when I come here to write a bad review of a scent I don't like and see good reviews from people whose opinions I respect. Oh well, I don't like Albi. It's got that green "marine" chemical in it that was really popular in 90's soaps. There's salt and pepper on top, as well as a shot of neroli, rendered very artificial by the "marine" chemical, with some cilantro in the heart.

All told, it's like someone tried to class up a cheap marine scent with citrus and greens, but ended up with cheapness drenching their nice ingredients instead. Meh.
09th December, 2015

Bergamoss Solid Perfume by Aftelier

For the record, I'm wearing the liquid perfume, not the solid.

To start, if you're looking for a traditional chypre smell, that's not what this is. Instead, Bergamoss is much deeper and weirder than you'd expect. It's vegetal and green. I smell lemongrass and something that reminds me of the smell of boiling brussel sprouts, but with an effervescent sparkling quality, like some sort of weird vegetable soda. The bergamot is way upfront as well, but it's more verdant and vegetal than your standard bergamot - after all, this is Aftelier, so it's built with painstakingly sourced raw materials that often don't smell like what you'd expect. There's also sage in there and a touch of civet poop.

The whole recipe put together smells like vegetable soda at first, then fades to what I think is a mix of bergamot and clary sage. The combination smells mossy, but like a moist garden, not the oakmoss in a classic perfume. It gets weak fairly fast, as natural perfumes do. I think it's great, but I can also imagine this being confusing and frustrating (seriously, brussel sprout soda with poop?!). Whatever - I like it and I think the vegetable soda effect is fantastic.
09th December, 2015

Fleurs de Sel by Miller Harris

Um, really? Lots of salt and dry herbs, a pinch of oregano, and not much more. This is essentially Acqua di Gio with the vague artificial melon replaced by vague artificial wood. It smells mostly of unadorned calone. Not a bad smell but there's not much here to love, either.
09th December, 2015

Crescendo by Lanvin

Meh. I usually really like classic carnation perfumes, but I just don't think this is one of the greats.

It kicks off with clovey powder and a touch of that sour vinegar that 50-year-old aldehydes inevitably turn into. It's sort of plasticky like an old rubber doll or a fresh, unused diaper, but the primary note seems to be the smell of an old box of rotting newspapers. I assume it's trying to be coumarin and flowers - Crescendo seems to think it's a jaunt through an Oriental palace, but it comes off more like a moldering garage full of old papers and diapers and mothballs and paint dusted with loud talcum powder.

I can't justify the effort to track this down when there are other perfumes readily available that better satisfy what Cresendo promises but doesn't deliver (I'd start with Caron's eminently better Poivre or Nuit De Noel and go from there). Not all old perfumes were great. Oh well.
06th December, 2015

Rubj Voile d'Extrait by Vero Profumo

You know those images you see after an oil spill, the sick birds coated in oil? Rubj reminds me of that, except it's wonderful, expensive-smelling floral essences being asphyxiated by an all-smothering sludge of shampoo, cheap soap, fabric softener, and fake citrus.

At first, it's almost bipolar, simultaneously calling for attention, resplendent in its finery and hiding in its janitor's closet hoping not to offend anyone with its wild luxury.

Eventually, the mundane ingredients win over, with little sparkles barely poking though, until somehow everything comes together to make a truly wonderful mimosa smell, honeyed and draped in spiced pineapple. The laundry musks come back in for the base, but this time tempered and adding thickness as opposed to all-consuming sludge.

Given all this, Rubj has been a bit weird for me. That mimosa in the middle is really amazing, but the shampoo death sludge is really bad. I suppose that Rubj's biggest sin is that it tries to fly too high and falters, which I very much favor over bland mundanity, so I'm giving a very qualified thumbs up. I don't think Rubj is all that good, but it's certainly interesting and it has its moments.
06th December, 2015