Perfume Reviews

Reviews by rogalal

Total Reviews: 967

Lys Fume by Tom Ford

An interesting perfume. It kicks off with jasmine, with its indoles fusing cleverly with a tobacco note. Tom Ford has a way with indoles (Black Orchid, etc.) and this is no exception. Given time, it morphs into a white floral lily perfume, eventually being joined by pink pepper. It eventually dries down to a fairly pedestrian pink pepper base, though many hours later, after that fades, the jasmine somehow comes back through.

In all, I liked the jasmine/indole/tobacco mix, hated the pink pepper, and am indifferent about the lily, so I guess I'll vote neutral. I can see how this ended up discontinued, as everything it does well is done better by Tom Ford's Jasmine Rouge.
11th August, 2018

Sale Gosse by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

I suppose every company eventually has to put out an aquatic scent, and Malle gets credit for finding a truly unique way of doing it, but I feel like the results are a little questionable.

Sale Gosse kicks off strong, with bright, cheerful salty lemon. There's also a classic marine scent hiding in the background, like a pinch of Green Irish Tweed, with its signature violet leaf and bright dihydromercenol peeking out occasionally, adding heft and green subtlety to the brightness.

As the lemon fades, it makes room for bubble gum. At first, it works - the bubble gum contributes to the cheerfulness of the whole thing. But once the bubble gum really makes it to the forefront, it's honestly pretty bad. The mix of marine aquatic notes and bubble gum is exactly as awkward as it sounds, unfortunately. Things get even worse when a 90's "seaweed" note lifted from L'Eau d'Issey comes in - like a bubble gum accident in a Purell hand sanitizer factory, delicately sprayed with Cool Water...

Thankfully, a fairly standard soapy neroli base eventually comes through, still especially sweet and vibrant from the lingering bubble gum, and saves the day.

So, wonderfully happy topnotes, a terrible heart, and a passable base. I guess that averages out to a neutral rating...
10th August, 2018

Music For a While by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Big lavender, more herbal than floral, with a strong dirty (like actual dirt on the ground, not anything animalic) aspect. The pineapple is a clever sweetener, but kind of disappears on my skin, where Music For A While is reduced to just a ton of lavender and that's about it. I know Frederick Malle and his perfumers put a lot of effort into creating best-in-class perfumes, so I've given Music a few tries, but I just don't get what the big deal is. Perhaps they're using some sort of brand new captive lavender molecule that's a big deal in the trade but doesn't really translate to the consumer.

For a good straightforward modern lavender fougere, I'd suggest Lancome's Lavande Trianon, which plays its lavender against subtle cinnamon and chocolate to much better effect.
07th August, 2018
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Jonquille de Nuit by Tom Ford

A pretty, loud white floral. There are a lot of these and they're usually good, so it takes some effort to stand out. Jonquille stakes its own place by incorporating considerably more depth than the genre usually does. On the top, the big loud white floral mix is always there, but just about every possible flower rotates underneath, so it's sometimes supported by indolic jasmine, or milky tuberose, or green lily, or citrusy orange blossom, changing every time I sniff, which has really kept me entertained.

Given time, the focus gets greener, as a mix of neroli and lily take the spotlight, while a big shot of clean white soap comes in to round out the base, leading to a smell similar to Mugler Cologne fusing with the flowers, but very soapy. In the end, it dries down to just soap and neroli, which is fine but sort of calls to mind Irish Spring soap, which is perfectly nice but a bit of a letdown after the rich complexity of the first couple of hours. Anyway, it's still a thumbs up.
03rd August, 2018

Leder 6 / Fetisch by J.F. Schwarzlose

Really good stuff!

Leder 6 kicks off with a cinnamon-dusted pipe tobacco smell that immediately calls to mind Tobacco Vanille, but with the cloves and vanilla largely replaced by leather and saffron. It's a great pairing - the ashy undertones of the tobacco melt deliciously into the leather, while the combination of sweet spices and leathery wood calls to mind the intoxicating clash of Fahrenheit. This is what I had hoped Tom Ford's Tobacco Oud would smell like.

Things get even better as the milk note comes forward. It sounds like it should be terrible, but it's clever and fantastic, the way it mixes with the suede and spices to create a leathery hazelnut and almond milk smell that's somehow a perfect match with (and also gives a honeyed depth to) the leathery pie spices. It calls to mind the formality of a classic cuir de russie, but is decidedly post-modern in the way it rather geniously incorporates and calls to mind different genres and touchstones, while expressing them in ways that aren't just cheap copies.

This is easily my favorite of the Schwarzlose relaunch and one of the most clever, unique leather perfumes I've smelled in ages. Highly recommended.
03rd August, 2018

Rausch by J.F. Schwarzlose

A very mulchy forest-floor-dirt kind of woody scent, heavy on the cedar/frankincense combo, with what I'm guessing is birch tar fused with oud for a leathery smokiness.

The thing that sets Rausch apart from the large numbers of similar indie perfumes is their clever use of a milky note, which gives a unique animalic twist to everything, giving richness to the leathery undertones, while somehow adding a unique sort of funk to the smells of decaying, mulched woods.
03rd August, 2018

Trance (new) by J.F. Schwarzlose

Hmmm... I'm just not sure about Trance yet. It kicks off quite interesting, rose surrounded by leathery, rubbery saffron, with oregano for green and sandalwood for depth, while a haze of paint thinner gives an awkward narcotic rush.

Unfortunately, given time, the narcotic darkness fades, making way for sugary berries and marshmallowy vanilla. Trance belongs in the same basic "dark rose" genre as Portrait Of A Lady, but starts out darker and quickly goes much more pedestrian, as if it's slightly embarrassed by its challenging topnotes and tries to make up for them with a drydown meant to appeal to fans of ubiquitous "luxury" fruity florals like Florabotanica or Tory Burch.

All in all, I like the topnotes, but am unimpressed by the rest, so I'll vote neutral.
01st August, 2018

Treffpunkt 8 Uhr by J.F. Schwarzlose

A nice vetiver sweetened with sage and mango, which combine to give the illusion of fruity iced tea. That being said, this is an especially mineralic vetiver, so the whole thing kind of smells like rocks covered in slippery wet moss as well.

It's worth mentioning that it takes a really heavy application to make Treffpunkt really work, and there's an issue in that, when sprayed in large quantities, the ginger on top turns nostril-burningly painful, but it's worth a minute of discomfort for the day's worth of clever vetiver.

Also worth mentioning is that for my personal favorite mix of vetiver and tea (though heavier on the tea, while Treffpunkt is heavier on the vetiver), I'd also suggest checking out Ineke's Chemical Bonding.
31st July, 2018

1A-33 by J.F. Schwarzlose

A very literal mix of orange blossom and jasmine, calling to mind L'Artisan's excellent Chasse aux Papillons, with its hyper-realist smell of spring flowers in bloom. 1A-33 adds pepper on top and a thin layer of chemical woods underneath, detracting from the realism, but adding nuance. Given time, the mandarin separates itself from the orange blossom, becoming more hyper-sweetened and apparent in the mix, which I find slightly detracts from the effortless peppery floral beauty on display otherwise, but I'd still recommend floral fanatics and jasmine lovers give this a sniff.
30th July, 2018

Zeitgeist by J.F. Schwarzlose

Zeitgeist: the will of the masses. I get it - it's an interesting name and concept to put on a perfume, like an artsy way to admit (or even brag) that this is something they've done to appease the masses. As such, there's nothing really remarkable here - it smells like a middle-of-the-road masculine designer release, sweet and herbal with grape on top of that "woody amber" swimming pool smell. A hint of amber mixing with the swimming pool chlorine tries, but doesn't really manage to make it less pedestrian. I'd argue that you could smell like this for 1/10th the price with a quick trip to TJ Maxx...
30th July, 2018

Marfa by Memo

An extremely loud Giorgio-Beverly-Hills-esque mix of orange blossom and tuberose that quickly goes weird, as the indolic undertones of each fuse with an overload of salt to end up smelling like salty play-doh. Given time, the play-doh fades, leaving a pretty tropical floral, smelling mostly like soapy ylang over vanilla, with subtle hints of coconut and banana.

In all, I like the tropical base, but didn't care for the loud play-doh, and I can't help but feel that Marfa is confusing loudness for richness, hoping that nuclear sillage will simulate luxury concentration, when I'm afraid it just doesn't. So ultimately, Marfa is not for me.
17th July, 2018

Kedu by Memo

Green tea and citrus fading to green tea and soapy white florals, with a wisp of that sesame note for depth.

The problem with citrus/green tea scents is that they can sometimes smell unfortunately like hotel soap or cheap spa products. Kedu's use of white musk (the smell of plain soap) as a base kind of exacerbates this issue.

I love the idea of using sesame in a perfume. At least in cooking, sesame oil is such a rich, compelling smell. Kedu uses it sparingly - it's more like a hint of nutty or bready nuance in the background than anything recognizable, and doesn't really do enough to keep this from just smelling like soap. Meh.
16th July, 2018

Gosha Rubchinskiy by Comme des Garçons

At it's core, I think Gosha is actually a classic fougere, with lavender and violet leaf topped with lemony, toothpastey mint. The lavender is very shrill and metallic and tends to knock out my nose, leaving Gosha a bit frustrating to try to get to know.

In true CDG style, there's a weird rubbery undertone, and something in there also smells like a combination of toasted bread and hot dust (the smell of emptying a vacuum cleaner.) It all comes together as strange, playful modernism - the violet leaf melts into the dusty bread and rubber, while the sharp metallic lavender and mint hint at a retro Trumper-style classic, but taking place in some sort of dusty plastics warehouse.

So, do I actually like this? Not really. The way the sharp lavender wears out my nose, making the whole thing difficult to smell, isn't doing Gosha any favors, and the rubbery, bready, minty dust smell isn't particularly appealing. So, despite the obvious look-at-me artful weirdness, I find the performance lacking and what I do smell is kind of unappealing.
16th July, 2018
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Hothouse Flower by Ineke

One of my favorites of the Ineke line, Hothouse Flower is a big, opulent white floral along the lines of Estee Lauder's Beautiful, with the white flowers played against milky tuberose and a touch of brie-cheese gardenia. There's a big effusive base of soap with a touch of vanilla for added richness underneath all the flowers, while the tiniest pinch of honeydew somehow gives the illusion of angel's trumpet.

While I understand the complaints that this isn't "gardenia" enough, I think this is beautiful for what it is, a fantastic white floral, and would point out that this is at least as gardenia-focused as, say, Chanel's beloved Gardenia perfume...
04th July, 2018

Idyllwild by Ineke

I'm having a hard time with Idyllwild. It's exactly what it says: rhubarb mixed with pine. On one hand, it's a clever combination - there's a sour sharpness to both elements that creates a clever continuity. That being said, there's also a chemical issue - when combined, rhubarb and pine create a sort of nightmare candy smell, piney and inedible, but also overly saccharine and kind of gross in its sweetness.

Back in the 90's, when I was young and dumb and used to smoke cigarettes in my car, I used to buy those tree-shaped gas station auto fresheners that smelled like pine or strawberry, and often both, and they would combine into a terrifying sort of pine candy smell and that's what Idyllwild mostly reminds me of. If you're in search of a more fully realized combination of pine and fruit, I'd suggest Lutens' Fille En Aguilles.
04th July, 2018

Field Notes from Paris by Ineke

Field Notes isn't one of my favorites from Ineke, though I find it interesting as a sort of think piece.

Basically, to my nose, Field Notes is everything that's usually relegated to the background in a standard masculine designer aquatic, but upfront and in plain sight. It's fascinating to smell how that grape drink topnote used in so many men's designer releases is able to be picked apart here, revealing that it's actually a complicated mix of flowers, citrus, lavender, and sage over patchouli.

That being said, once the novelty wears off, this just smells like a better than average mall scent, though mercifully devoid of aquatic cheapness, but still overly familiar and common-smelling. If you're a designer fan looking for something a step up but not too different, this could be a great choice, but alas, it's not for me.
04th July, 2018

Evening Edged in Gold by Ineke

The leathery "oriental" perfume of the Ineke line. To my nose, it's based on ionone violets, sharp and sweetly floral on top with rich suede underneath. The violet on top is candied with raspberry, while iris and musk add depth to the base. There's also a slug of that doughy element made famous by Mitsouko, paired with a pinch of retro-style clove. There's also a background floral quality running underneath everything.

It's interesting - there are elements in here that very much call to mind a traditional Cuir de Russie, paired with elements that remind me of classics like L'Heure Bleue, but there's something about Evening Edged In Gold that smells completely modern despite its classic references. Perhaps it's the lack of powder or the modern floral at the core (instead of the chypre elements you'd find in an older perfume), but this feels somehow minimalist despite its complexity. I can see how that could put off vintage perfume fanatics, but I can also see this opening it up to younger audiences. As an aside, this is what I keep hoping those Guerlain Petite Robe Noir flankers are going to smell like...
04th July, 2018

Oud Essentiel by Guerlain

It took a few wears for Oud Essentel to win me over. Despite not being listed in the notes, I now think it's probably the best rosemary perfume I've ever smelled.

In terms of smell, there's a bunch of rosemary, backed up with pine. Pretty much everything you'd expect from a European oud perfume is also there (rubbery oud, saffron, rose, and a pinch of "woody amber" chemical haze), but they mostly fade into a charred campfire smell that fuses with the rosemary (at first) and pine (later) to give everything a burnt charcoal vibe.

My parents used to have an outdoor fireplace surrounded by rosemary bushes and during parties, I used to pick rosemary branches and throw them into the fire - I loved the acrid burning rosemary smell and Oud Essentiel does a great job bringing back those memories.
04th July, 2018

Le Frenchy by Guerlain

A polite, old-fashioned lemon and herb cologne. The topnotes remind me of ADP's Colonia, mostly sweet candied lemon supported by a classic mix of bergamot and lavender. Guerlain changes things up with a fairly forward tarragon note, a subtle nod to their classics like Chamade, while basil gives a pinch of green. There's also a quiet musky quality underneath everything.

Like most of this sort of classic citrus cologne, there's not much longevity. Smelled blind, I would have assumed this was a Trumper or maybe a discontinued old Creed. It's not bad for what it is, though as a matter of personal taste, I prefer my classic colognes more orange and dirty, as opposed to lemon and herbal, so I don't really need a full bottle of Le Frenchy, especially given the price...
04th July, 2018

Derring-Do for Men by Ineke

Derring Do is a well put together marine fougere, combining traditional Grey Flannel-esque fougere elements (lavender and tonka with violet leaf) with bright lemon and mint on top, backed up with 90's melon-ish marine elements.

Anything in this genre will inevitably draw comparisons to Creed - in this case, the uplifting lemon and mint make Derring Do significantly happier and less dank than Green Irish Tweed, landing it closer to Millessime Imperiale, but without the Creed richness in the base. The combination of lemon and faux melon also calls to mind CK One, while there are shades of L'Eau d'Issey as well in the abstract melon background.

All in all, no points for originality, but I like the balance between light and dark in Derring Do - all the elements fit together perfectly.
24th June, 2018

Chemical Bonding by Ineke

My favorite of the Ineke line, Chemical Bonding is a nicely complex tea smell. The tea illusion comes from a mix of sage and citrus, balanced with fruity coriander and given significant depth by bay rum elements. Meanwhile, there's a gingerbread undertone, while I suspect a lavender fougere may be hiding in plain sight as well.

But the real fireworks come from the vetiver. The inky, iodine elements of the vetiver counteract with the flowery herbal tea to surround everything in a thin veil of artsy weirdness that really elevates Chemical Bonding.

I'd highly recommend Chemical Bonding to vetiver fans looking for something clever, as well as tea fans. It could also appeal to people who enjoy a Commes Des Garcons vibe, or even scents like L'Artisan's Tea For Two.
23rd June, 2018

Balmy Days & Sundays by Ineke

A rather dated green aquatic floral that lives halfway between L'Eau d'Issey and a 1998 Bath & Body Works cucumber/melon soap. Here and now, this honestly smells like Purell hand sanitizer more than a proper artistic perfume, but if you really like 90's-style hyper-clean marine scents, this could be a fit. But sadly, it's not for me.
23rd June, 2018

After My Own Heart by Ineke

A particularly delicious raspberry note leads into the lilac, which is represented as an abstract sort of rosy smell, peppered with a pinch of hairspray aldehydes. This all happens over soapy fabric softener musks, which gives a very modern feel to this.

Smelled blind, I would have assumed this was a 2018 Armani or Tori Burch or something similar - the abstract floral fabric softener smell paired with realistic fruit is hyper-modern, so Ineke was definitely ahead of her time releasing this 12 years ago. That being said, that high-gloss fabric softener sheen feels so mainstream and commonplace now that it's hard to get really excited by this. Saying that this would feel completely at home in a mall Sephora is a compliment, but not much of one.
22nd June, 2018

Twilly d'Hermès by Hermès

I'm not really that into tobacco/coumarin perfumes - there's a certain sort of brown paper bag muskiness that turns me off. That being said, there's something ballsy and intriguing about Twilly that captures my attention.

The tobacco/hay smell is upfront and unapologetic. The real cleverness is the way that the ginger and tuberose fuze with it to create a technicolor, over-amplified version of itself, a sort of hyper-tobacco caricature that's fascinating in its boldness, even if it's a smell I don't really like.
22nd June, 2018

Nirvana Rose by Elizabeth and James

Much more wood than rose. The top is pretty in a full-on goth sort of way, with jammy rich rose played against pitch black saffron. The jam quality is presumably the result of patchouli in the background, while a dash of clove mixes with a touch of kitchen spices to add depth to the darkness.

Given a few minutes, the star of the show turns out to be a mix of sawdusty sandalwood and oak. The saffron goes leathery, while the rose mix ends up smelling vaguely like wine dregs, so the whole thing ends up smelling like an old oak wine barrel wrapped in leather sitting in a lumberyard. This mix is exceptionally well done, and takes what could have been just another saffron rose and elevates it considerably.

Hours in, when the rose is long gone and the leathery saffron fades, I'm left with mostly sandalwood, sprinkled with lingering kitchen herbs. This drydown reminds me of Santal Noble, with its legendary "opulent sawdust" smell.

I'm honestly quite impressed with Nirvana Rose. This is an original take on a complex concept that could easily sell in the $300 niche range, and I'm impressed as well with the way it fully embodies a gothic artistic space, taking it beyond just smelling good. My pick for the thing to sniff if you find yourself overwhelmed at Sephora...
28th March, 2018

Aqua Velva Ice Blue by Williams

An iconic smell, though perhaps a bit less than Brut, Aqua Velva's superior drugstore rival. Ice Blue goes on bright with a splash of mint, wintergreen, and nutmeg over hyper-sharp violet leaf, with a pinch of cinnamon or mace for just a touch of warmth in the background. It's simultaneously nostril-searing and deadening, a sort of sharpness overload, all high pitches with no meat or base.

That being said, I like Aqua Velva. It's a nostalgic smell that I find satisfying despite its shortcomings. Thumbs up for the memories.
27th March, 2018

L'Heure de Nuit by Guerlain

L'Huere Bleue is one of my favorite perfumes, so I ignored L'Heure de Nuit for years knowing a mere flanker could never dethrone my queen. But, after giving it a proper chance, it has won me over.

Nuit isn't as bafflingly complex as Bleue, though they share the same doughy core - that complicated mix of stuff that smells simultaneously like almonds, bread, grease paint, old makeup, and spices. While Bleue gains a lot of mystery from topnotes shrouded in powder, Nuit is more straightforward with a mix of violets, grape, and Guerlain's signature cherry, all of which melt together well with the clove aspect of the heartnotes, giving a spicy sweet fruitiness juxtaposed with the spiced dough. This change from powder to fruit does make for easier wearing (my only real complaint about L'Heure Bleue is that the powder billows ridiculously with more than the lightest application).

I ended up splurging on a bottle - only time will tell which I'll end up reaching for the most. While I feel like I might be sacrificing a touch of nuance for wearability, I think the depth is still there, especially witnessing the varied descriptions in these reviews, implying that there's a lot of hidden detail to smell even in this new version.
27th March, 2018

Black Collection : Moss by Commodity

Echoing everyone else, there's no moss here. Instead, it's a mix of neroli and vetiver clearly inspired by Mugler Cologne or Creed's Original Vetiver. It's nicely done - I always enjoy the way this combination combines into something piquant and vibrantly green, somehow greater than the sum of its parts. Moss adds to this a juicy, pulpy orange on top that adds to the appeal. The drydown is unremarkable, just a long slow fade of the topnotes without a proper base, which is technically acceptable because both vetiver and neroli last forever, but it's artistically disappointing, like a lost opportunity to do something clever.

In all, I'm voting thumbs up because this is a combination I enjoy, and I like the addition of the pulpy orange, but with the caveat that I'm disappointed by the drydown and lack of originality, as well as the misleading name.
27th March, 2018

Le Vetyver by Lubin

There was a point in Basenotes history when this was consistently mentioned as one of the "important" vetivers alongside Guerlain and Sycomore and such, though its star seems to have dimmed a bit over the years. It's a shame, as this is a really nice vetiver that's true enough to the note to deserve its place at the table, while still being unique enough to stand out from the pack in its own way.

Of course, it smells like a proper vetiver, grassy and green and lemony with that signature iodine sharpness played against nutmeggy sweetness. It calls to mind candied lettuce and celery soda, as well as sparkling tonic water. In a way that's hard to describe, it also has a "pretty" undertone that implies flowers without being particularly floral.

In terms of placement, I'd say Le Vetyver lives halfway between Guerlain's Vetiver (astringent purist vetiver chypre) and their Vetiver Pour Elle (flowery sweet candied lettuce), incorporating the best of both while the soda freshness gives it additional character. Definitely worth a sniff for vetiver fans.
15th March, 2018

Brut by Fabergé

So I've been writing these reviews for over ten years now and it's taken me this long to review Brut. I guess it's just that Brut needs more than just a summary of its notes. It's an iconic smell, in the strongest sense of the term, right in there with mom's apple pie or Thanksgiving dinner or the smell of a Christmas tree. It's written into our consciousness and our collective memory in a way that no other perfume is (except for maybe Chanel No 5).

So what does it smell like? A fusion of mint and violet leaf melting into a lavender/tonka fougere, sweet with mace and neroli, balanced with a pinch of fusty bergamot. But really, the notes don't matter because it smells like Brut. It smells like Grandpa visiting for the holidays. It smells like your dad taking your mom out for dinner and bowling. It smells like you putting on a splash of your dad's cologne when you're dressing up for your first homecoming dance. It smells like gross 70's singles bars, and it also smells like family and love.

If you haven't smelled Brut lately, please give it a sniff.
15th March, 2018