Reviews by rogalal

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    rogalal
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    La Chasse Aux Papillons by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    What I like best about La Chasse Aux Papillons is that it smells like a breeze wafting off some perfect spring garden. I know that so many perfumes claim this that it's a bit of a tired cliche, but of the hundreds that do, only a select few actually pull it off, and I think Chasse is the best of those few.

    It's one of those perfumes that smells quite simple (mostly jasmine and orange blossom with some sort of orange-smelling resin underneath giving just a slight shot of piquancy), and as such tends to fly under the radar, but I'm convinced that this is one of the world's great perfumes. Just spritz on a little, and marvel as you spend the whole day wondering what nearby flower is making that amazing smell, and then realizing it's you!

    15th April, 2015

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    Al Oudh by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    On me, Al Oudh is largely a mix of that really dusty oak note that L'Artisan uses a lot, with a bunch of sweaty cumin. There's also that classic attar fusion that happens when rose, sandalwood, patchouli, and oud mix. That smell runs in the background as well. I kind of like the way the attar elements mix with the oak, but I just don't like scents that use really strong cumin - I just don't want my perfume to smell like "interesting" sweat. That being said, if you can wear Declaration, you can easily pull this off. But, I'm afraid the best I can rate this is a neutral...

    14th April, 2015

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    Mûre et Musc Extrême by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    As much as I loathe dumb fruity florals, I can't help but love the berry smell in Mure et Musc. I think the original version (which is basically a classic chypre with berries mixed in) is probably more wearable than the Extreme, with its weird rubbery smell. To be honest, I've been trying to fall in love with Mure et Musc Extreme since buying a bottle as a newbie years ago. Smelled up close, that weird rubber doll smell is just so odd, but to steal a phrase from Robin's review, "it sort of sinks in and mixes with my skin" and smells amazing in its sillage. As I've learned not to overthink it, I've come to really enjoy Extreme, so I'd definitely suggest giving it a try, though don't skip over the original version before you make your choice.

    14th April, 2015

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    Santos by Cartier

    I'm not really enjoying this one. It kicks off with a fairly standard woody chypre smell, but drenched in nutmeg. Given a few minutes, it dies down to hay-ish tobacco with a buzz of very chemical-smelling lavender on top. Eventually, as the lavender sharpness fades, I'm left with the smell of lumber mixed with old newspapers. Finally, a very oily, almost gasoline-smelling chypre base comes in.

    Aside from the topnotes, I just haven't found Santos very pleasant. That buzzing fake lavender and the gasoline fumes are bad enough, but when fuzed with nutmeg, they take on a weird quality, like something delicious that's been laced with poison. I don't know how else to describe it - I just don't like it.

    13th April, 2015

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    Déclaration Eau Genereuse by Cartier

    This is a really hard smell to describe - it implies simplicity but is actually quite complex. At its heart, it's lemony green tea over sweaty cumin, but that's only about 50% of what I'm smelling. The other 50% is a pleasant stew of chemicals that hints at soap and citric brightness, but without smelling specific enough to be described in terms of the normal touchstones. It's kind of like a body smell, but doesn't smell natural.

    All in all, I like it but don't love it. In terms of sheer artistry, I prefer the original Declaration, though I don't like wearing the original because of all that dirtiness. Eau Genereuse is quite a bit more wearable, but the sweaty body element is still there enough to keep it from really working as a bright clean Spring scent.

    12th April, 2015

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    Green Irish Tweed by Creed

    After all these years, I still just don't "get" Green Irish Tweed. What is it supposed to smell like? A bucket of melted plastic at the beach? Lemon juice mixed with shea butter? Weird-smelling leaves dipped in metal?

    Whatever it is, it's much richer and substantial than pretty much any other aquatic, though I've never thought it smelled particularly good or understood how people smell this and think it smells "classy". I don't hate it, but I don't particularly like it either.

    I keep waiting to have an "a-ha" moment where something falls into place and I realize how brilliant Green Irish Tweed is, but it's just not happening. Oh well.

    09th April, 2015

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    Sexual Healing by Mark Buxton

    I've really enjoyed this one. To me, it's a bit of a juxtaposition of textures. On one hand, there's a rich, creamy base that's potent enough to shine from the start. It features a 70's "sexy" musk and a big shot of ambrox flavored with vanilla and chocolate, but kept from being gourmand by sandalwood and soap. On the other hand, on top of this thick, inedible pudding is a stew of fruits and flowers and woods, hinting at citrus with roses and jasmine, but artificial and "perfumey" enough to never feel very specific.

    On me, it takes a little time to warm up, smelling pleasant and maybe a bit complicated at first, before melting together into something beautiful. I like that Sexual Healing takes a retro-smelling musk and makes it thoroughly modern. And I also like the rick thickness of the smell, even though it doesn't seem to be especially highly concentrated. Thumbs up!

    06th April, 2015

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    Bois d'Ombrie by Eau d'Italie

    I really love this smell, though to be honest, even though I bought a bottle years ago, I hardly ever wear it.

    Imagine a big pot full of bell peppers, redwood bark, and red wine, with black pepper and maybe some cloves for spice. Then, fill the pot with vinegar and bring it to a boil. While it's heating up, burn some frankincense and myrrh. As the smoke from the incense fuses with the almost caustic vinegar steam, that's what Bois d'Ombrie smells like to me. I think it's a brilliant smell, simultaneously woody and vegetal and spicy, but always drenched in vinegar, though I can see how it could be extremely off-putting as well.

    06th April, 2015

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    Jasmin Impératrice Eugénie by Creed

    Hairspray aldehydes with rose and jasmine over sandalwood, ambrox, and a full chypre structure. The florals smell more like grandma's fancy guest soap than realistic flowers, but the sawdust-smelling sandalwood and the sour greens of the chypre ingredients keep this more masculine than you'd think, especially when smelled up close. In a way, it's like Bois du Portugal with flowery soap instead of BDP's fusty bergamot and hawthorn.

    All in all, I'll give Jasmin Impératrice Eugénie a qualified thumbs up - I think it's nice in the way an old perfume smells nice, but the chypre elements give it an unbalanced bitterness that's a little jagged played against the round, soapy florals. And I've never been a big fan of hairspray aldehydes. But I still think this is fun and worth trying.

    22nd March, 2015

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    Tuscan Scent Golden Acacia by Salvatore Ferragamo

    Like the other "premium" designers, Feragamo has not only an "exclusive" line, but a "really exclusive" line above that. Golden Acacia is from their "really exclusive" $250-a-bottle line.

    So what does it smell like? Are you familiar with bitter Italian honeys like chesnut or corbezzolo honey? Instead of being sweet, they're bitter and acerbic and smell kind of burnt. They taste great paired with the right cheeses, but are pretty difficult to love on their own, even though they smell really interesting. That's what Golden Acacia smells like to me - bitter, acerbic, burnt honey topped with vague white flowers. It's fairly true to the smell of acacia flowers with their weird burnt honey and wood smell, and also reminds me of the similar smell of cherry blossoms.

    It's worth noting that the most important thing about Golden Acacia is how much it doesn't smell like anything else Ferragamo would do. It smells like it's dominated by a really high concentration of natural oils, to the point where, had I smelled it blind, I would have assumed it was by someone like Dawn Spencer Hurwitz and definitely not by a mall brand. Thumbs up for quality ingredients and for doing something that's actually "niche-smelling" in their exclusive line. My only warning is that it's quite linear and if you don't like that burnt bitter honey smell, it's not going anywhere for quite a while...

    21st March, 2015

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    Jardins d'Amalfi by Creed

    The best description I have for Jardins d'Amalfi is that it smells very Creed. It's got really great citrus topnotes that fade into that "open canister of Tang over a smudge of salty Ambrox for richness" smell that Creed defaults to when they're not feeling especially groundbreaking. Oh, and don't let the vaguely feminine name fool you - while this has hints of flowers and a touch of peach, this is very much a citrus scent that's fully unisex.

    Really, this mostly just smells like "Creed." Fanatics will probably love Jardin d'Amalfi, while those not already swayed by Creed's large existing selection of aquatic citruses will likely not be swayed, though the opening notes really are lovely.

    As for me, I'm not a big fan of artificial-smelling citruses or aquatics, and this lacks the richness of scents like M.I., where the luxury of the concentration makes up for the artificial quality.

    20th March, 2015

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    Paul Smith Man by Paul Smith

    A strange sort of smell, Paul Smith Man reminds me of what you'd get if you tried to create an artistic expression of wood by mixing grape drink, nutmeg, sage leaves, patchouli, chemically treated fiberboard, and a touch of bleach. It's really odd, but it doesn't smell bad.

    Mixes of similar notes are extremely common and often fail because they play up the bleachy smell, trying to be "aquatic", but Paul Smith man leaves the bleach in the background enough that it lends a sense of artificiality in an artistic way, as opposed to just smelling common.

    This sort of reminds me of the nuttiness of Kenneth Cole Black, but Man is more woody and way less bleachy. It definitely does smell like a mall scent, just one that uses the usual elements with more skill than its brethren.

    20th March, 2015

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    Iris Poudre by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

    Probably my favorite of the Frederic Malle line. Iris Poudre hits the skin with a decent version of Chanel No. 5's powdery lemon champagne aldehydes, played out over a complex mix of flowers that kind of reminds me of Giorgio's infamous candied baby aspirin smell, but spiced with peppery carnation and laid out on a bed of smooth iris. It smells gorgeous, and dries down to a mix of iris and galbanum that's quite nice as well.

    I've taken so long to review Iris Poudre because there's just something thin about it. It smells like one of the world's great perfumes, but watered down. It lasts all day, but is always faint and non-projecting. This is the kind of perfume that could be a Amoage-style luxury bomb as an EDP or the height of richness as an extrait, but instead it's just a dull hum at its chosen concentration. Malle has said that he released this as his first perfume because it has so many expensive ingredients that he know no one could copy it. Maybe that's why it's weakly concentrated - anything more would make a bottle cost too much. Anyway, I think Iris Poudre is a must try, though don't expect to be blown away just because it's so quiet. Maybe some day Malle will introduce a parfum...

    20th March, 2015

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    Bronze by Ellen Tracy

    What does Bronze smell like? Surprisingly unique and not easy to describe. It's a complex smell that seems to rely mostly on almond-ish heliotrope, iris, and white soap coming together to form a cohesive smell that's sort of nutty, sort of like flour, and yet rich and perfumey from the iris. There are vague hints of fruit in there, as well as a smell of freshly grated nutmeg and ginger in the heart. There's a chocolate undertone later on, and it ends on a bed of soft vanilla.

    I don't really have a comparison to make. The mix of iris and chocolate may make some imagine of Dior Homme, but the almond heliotrope small makes this completely different. Heliotrope mixed with vanilla usually makes me think of loukhoum scents, but the iris and the spices make sure this doesn't smell gourmand. It kind of reminds me of Malle's L'eau d'Hiver, but it's less floral and less spicy, which leads to my one complaint: Bronze is not really compelling. It's a good scent, but it hasn't worked very hard to win me over despite being completely wearable and smart, even when it should have been fairly easy. Anyway, it's still a thumbs up, definitely.

    18th March, 2015

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    Tralala by Penhaligon's

    I thought it would be impossible to create a perfume as off-putting as that horrifying bottle, but I think Duchoufour has done it!

    It goes on strong. If I try really hard, I can pick out some of the listed notes. but it all comes together to smell like gasoline-tainted coumarin on me. I definitely get ClaireV's "nut meal" reference, and I should admit that, while walking around town, I kept thinking I was smelling someone slicing wet potatoes, but it was Tralala. All that being said, there's a very human animalic smell to this, like dried up sperm on REALLY filthy sheets, and it's bothering me quite a bit. If you've ever gotten the "S" note in Le Male, here it is in all its glory, made sort of gasoline-ish by the saffron and weirdly sweetened with boozy cherries and violets.

    Given time, it settles into the smell of a mildewed cardboard box, with a vague cherry and flower undertone. I don't even have the patience to wait for the base. I already know this is a thumbs down and there's really nothing that can save this for me.

    16th March, 2015

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    Inspire by Ellen Tracy

    Meh. It starts off with that peach topnote that's in EVERYTHING, and then fades down to peachy rose. There's a bit of something green, but not enough to really interest me.

    I guess this came out before the explosion of fruity florals redefined what "cheap" smells like, and it's been around long enough that its use of that peach was more of a Calyx/Victoria's Secret copy than an attempt to smell like every other mall perfume, but here in 2015, this just smells like all the women at the office who don't care about perfume.

    10th March, 2015

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    Corazon Blanco by Mario Tomas

    Corazon Blanco goes through an awful lot of interesting twists and turns. It starts off as a gourmand, a blast of caramelized patchouli and cocoa with sweet condensed milk underneath and a sparkly soda smell on top that reminds me of Inka Cola, with its fizzy bubble gum.

    Comparisons to Angel are inevitable (Corazon Blanco is simultaneously more flowery and darker from the chocolate, and the aldehydes give it an eggy thickness). It also reminds me of the odd but pleasant chocolate/soda combination in Jo Malone's Blue Agave & Cocoa.

    I'm not much of a gourmand fan, so Corazon Blanco was in danger of losing me, but then I started smelling banana sillage and realized that the scent had transformed into a deep ylang ylang, supported by cinnamon and other florals. By the end of the day, all this had somehow faded to a perfect buttery shortbread cookie smell.

    I should say that Mario Gomez is a huge friend of the SF perfume community and a really nice guy. I would have had a hard time giving this a bad review, even if he clearly has much more of a sweet tooth than me, but he totally won me over with the clever transitions and how much ground he managed to cover. Seriously, caramel and soda and cocoa to bananas and ylang to a perfect cookie smell?

    08th March, 2015

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    Halston 1-12 by Halston

    These masculine powerhouse chypres are so complicated, but they usually have the same basic elements. There were an awful lot of them for a while there and it's kind of difficult to really identify what each one brings to the table.

    As for 1-12, everything is in its place: Bergamot fusing with lavender to smell kind of fusty. Lemony wood to fill out the middle. Acacia or hawthorn to make everything waxy and 70's. A solid chypre base, further decorated with powerhouse staples like vetiver and oily patchouli.

    Whenever I get to know a scent like this, I feel like I'm deciding whether or not I like it mostly based on what it DOESN'T do, as if I'm judging it based on a checklist of pet peeves more than its own true merit. But that's just me. And 1-12 doesn't smell like cough syrup or dank, nasty herbs, and it's not so waxy that it smells dead. Though it is pretty fusty, which I'm not really a fan of. All in all, that earns it a thumbs up, but I don't think I need a bottle of this.

    03rd March, 2015

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    Yerbamate by Lorenzo Villoresi

    For its first few minutes, I find Yerbamate dizzying and irresistible. It's lemony and tea-ish, soapy and musky, and all taking place in a weird sort of hyper-sweetened vetiver and abstract leafy greens. It's ridiculously strong, with a weird sharpness to it. And that's where it loses me.

    At an old job I had, the building manager used to buy concentrated bathroom cleaner that was supposed to be diluted before use, but he never bothered to dilute it, so whenever he cleaned up, the whole building was shrouded in nose-piercing chemical fumes that smelled like a pleasant clean green smell, but way too sharp and harshly soapy, which also served to amplify the sweetness into something saccharine. It should have smelled good, but it was just unbearable.

    That's what Yerbamate reminds me of. A pleasant, almost pretty smell so laden with sweet chemical sharpness and drowned in soapy chemicals that it becomes unpleasant.

    03rd March, 2015

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    Phool by Illuminum

    OK, so I have to admit that I didn't want to like Illuminum. The name is so dumb. And the perfume is named "Phool"?? Unfortunately for my sense of French classicism, Phool actually smells amazing.

    It's primarily a fantastic, very real and expensive-smelling orange blossom sweetened with citrus and a great jasmine note. There's a honeyed quality to everything, though more of a woody, slightly bitter honey than anything gourmand. It all takes place over woods - petitgrain (but not the sharp gross kind) at first, later getting more cedar-ish and then landing at a very natural-smelling broken branch sort of base, still bathed in dark bitter honey.

    It smells kind of like someone built a traditional citrus cologne out of really expensive ingredients, but concentrated enough to last all day, and then added in the honey and jasmine just for fun. Definitely a thumbs up.

    03rd March, 2015

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    parfums*PARFUMS Series 1 Leaves: Calamus by Comme des Garçons

    There's something about Calamus that's just indescribable. It's a green smell, but also very milky, giving the impression of breaking open an aloe vera or iceplant leaf, all filled with goo. But then, it's also surrounded by a haze of hot plastic, like the odor given off by an overheating piece of office equipment. And then it's also sweaty, juxtaposing the green leaves with an odd human component.

    It's naturalistic, but doesn't smell like anything in nature. It's chemical, but still smells like something alive.

    I just can't stop sniffing Calamus because I find it so intriguing, even though I don't particularly think it smells good. I guess I enjoy its confident chaos.

    28th February, 2015

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    Never Never Land by Smell Bent

    Never Never Land begins with a roller coaster ride through all sorts of smells. I get mentholated booze, then butterscotchy retro-amber, then a dollop of civet, joined eventually by butter (this buttery civet amber is a particularly entertaining stage - I would have thought it would be awful, but it was actually quite compelling). Then, a nice sandalwood comes in and all the other elements fall into place, supporting and bringing out clever facets in the sandalwood. Clever, fun, and interesting.

    28th February, 2015

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    Delicate Rose by Trussardi

    As mean as this may sound, I always think of Trussardi as a D-list fashion house that makes unimportant perfumes. Delicate Rose caught my attention and made me question that for a moment, but ultimately, I ended up unconvinced.

    It lept from the bottle in a wild swath of roses, not necessarily naturalistic, but certainly not cheap-smelling, garnished by fruit, but draped in just enough powder to make the whole thing smell quite classy and not like a dumb fruity floral. Unfortunately, within an hour, all that dissipated and I was left with a very basic pink pepper/patchouli base. It's that base that not only smells derivative, but actually sends out a distinct and intentional psychological message that whoever is wearing this perfume wants to smell unimaginative and like everyone else.

    It's really quite sad - those topnotes held a lot of promise, but were ultimately just cheap "toploading", meant to fool a potential buyer smelling it on paper into thinking they're getting something substantial.

    26th February, 2015

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    Pulp by Byredo

    Every time I spray Pulp, I spend the first 30 seconds marveling at its ridiculously exaggerated juiciness, and then I notice that it smells like a cheap candle and it won't go away for hours and it's amateurishly strong.

    It smells like a "tropical punch"-flavored candy. Sort of pineapple-ish, sort of coconutty. It's vaguely waxy, which is probably cementing the candle association. If your town has a cute little gift shop with little travel candles in tins, there's probably one there that's supposed to smell like papaya or pink lychee or something that smells exactly like this. Meh.

    22nd February, 2015

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    Escentric 01 by Escentric Molecules

    I really didn't expect to like Escentric 01 as much as I have, probably because I've long considered the whole line a bit of a novelty. It doesn't feel like there's much to it, but somehow it gets what little it does just perfect, which I guess is a great example of how minimalism is supposed to work.

    So what does it smell like? A nice oak wine barrel smell overlaid with tons of iso E super, so it puts out huge billows of smoky sillage and also has a creamy richness that implies incense or amber without really smelling like either. There's also an abstract feeling of citrus that doesn't really smell like actual citrus. All in all, Escentric 01 somehow hits all the buttons and comes out smelling simultaneously artistic, wearable, and clever. Nice.

    20th February, 2015

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    Angélique by Papillon Artisan Perfumes

    Have you ever smelled a flower, expecting something pretty and floral, but instead it just smelled like dewy petals and green plant bits? Angélique seems to be a bit of an interesting study in flowers that don't smell floral. The iris is cool and chalky, aloof even. The cedar and frankincense hum in the background, lending a sort of woody realness without warming anything. Meanwhile, the flowers on top are the non-floral kind, giving a weird sense of vegetal quiet while something in the iris gives a quiet buzz of violet.

    Frankly, Angélique is not a friendly scent. Unlike many irises that become warm, rich, and expansive with vanilla and rich basenotes, this is a cold, distant smell - thin but strong, though not very long-lasting. I imagine it on a Devil-Wears-Prada type, in a fashionable taupe dress tearing down people with her eyes. As such, it's probably not for me, but I think it's clever.

    19th February, 2015

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    Queens by Bond No. 9

    Queens smells to me like a butterscotch hard candy, but topped with berries and made fizzy with aldehydes. It dries down to a patchouli-laced pink pepper base, but the butterscotch candy lasts from start to finish.

    It's important to note that Queens, while sweet and reminiscent of candy, really doesn't feel like a gourmand. The hints of toasted almonds and vanilla are equally matched by sandalwood and a patchouli that's more grass than caramel, so it achieves a nice balance that manages to smell sweet without smelling dumb.

    Personally speaking, I prefer my ambers dark and smoky, but this might be great for someone raised on One Million and candy perfumes, but on the lookout for something a step up.

    18th February, 2015

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    Cuir X by La Parfumerie Moderne

    So, um.... This is weird. I have two samples of Cuir X, both sprayed from bottles at Barneys, and one is awesome and one is awful.

    The good sample: Something in the family of Knize Ten or Kolnisch Junchten, harsh leather with hints of gasoline played deftly against flowers, but with the edges sanded down just enough to not be quite as unpredictably wild as its predecessors. It gets soapy in the base, which I can see leading to the Cuiron comparisons.

    The bad sample: A huge overdose of that bleachy "woody amber" chemical with violets and gasoline and birch tar in the base.

    So, one sample gets an enthusiastic thumbs up and the other gets a disappointed thumbs down, so I guess that averages out to a neutral. One thing's for sure: I'd never buy a bottle of this without smelling the specific bottle I was getting first...

    18th February, 2015

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    Eau Plurielle by Diptyque

    Eau Plurielle is basically a mix of rose and ivy with a pinch of peach on top and some honey and woods on the bottom. It makes sense as part of the same family as L'Ombre Dans L'Eau, but is much less fruity and less funky.

    The "ivy" is actually tomato leaf, so there's a hint of bile in the background, but the honey and woods do a decent job covering it up. My biggest complaint is actually that the peach threatens to make the rose smell kind of cheap and fake. Also, the whole thing is an Eau, so it doesn't last very long. Meh.

    16th February, 2015

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    Velvet Tender Oud by Dolce & Gabbana

    Everyone needs to stop saying that cheap aquatic aromachemicals are oud.

    I'm going to say that again: Everyone needs to stop saying that cheap aquatic aromachemicals are oud.

    If you want to spend $300 to smell like the drydown of any cheap mall aquatic or Axe body spray with a pinch of rose and saffron added (which die off within an hour or so, just leaving more concentrated cheapness), by all means go ahead. If you have any sense of what expensive perfumes should smell like, any sense of what oud is, or any sense of taste, just don't even bother sniffing this.

    14th February, 2015

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