Perfume Reviews

Reviews by rogalal

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Total Reviews: 1093

Féminité du Bois by Serge Lutens

This is gorgeous stuff! It's complex in a way that's hard to describe - just look at the different ways it smells to various reviewers here...

Personally, I like the topnotes best. I smell mostly violets mixed with Serge's signature plum, made sparkly and golden with aldehydes and some sort of yellow, pollen-ish floral background that I can't really place. There's some cumin underneath for grit and balance as well.

Given a few minutes, the base starts making itself known, a mix of suede and buttery sandalwood that provides a rich grounding to the sparkle and high pitch of the topnotes.

On me, the rest of the day is basically a slow fade from the plum/violet top to the buttery leather base, with pleasant different combinations of smells coming and going as the ratio of top to base changes.

I've really enjoyed the current Lutens version of this. I'm also lucky enough to have a sample of the vintage extrait. Honestly, side by side, they're awfully similar, which I didn't expect from the reviews I've read. If anything, the sandalwood in the vintage smells more balanced, like those old-school sandalwoods that smells like opulent, buttery sawdust. The current version has the buttery richness, but has less sawdust, so it comes across as slightly less woody and more suede in the base. That being said, the current version is fantastic - I wouldn't personally bother hunting down and spending ridiculously for the vintage...
12th September, 2019

Fumerie Turque by Serge Lutens

I was really expecting to like this one, but no... I smell the tobacco, coming across mostly like old paper or hay. And I smell the incense, but it mostly smells like a wet sidewalk. And I smell the amber, but it mostly smells like marshmallows. And then there's the mint...

So that's what I smell, a troubled mix of toothpaste, hay, wet sidewalk, and marshmallows. In general, I consider myself a Lutens fan, but this just doesn't work for me...
10th September, 2019

Libra by Zodica Perfumery

An unabashed tropical punch fruity floral along the lines of Escada Sunset Heat of Paris Hilton for Men. Despite my trepidation around fruity florals, I actually quite like this. There's a hyper-realistic cantaloupe reminiscent of Aventus for Her, along with a really great, long-lasting juicy mango. These make up for the inclusion of two of my perfume nemeses, that ubiquitous fake strawberry, and that ubiquitous fake peach. In all, the fruits are fun and a little dumb without coming across as full-on candy or cheap shampoo.

But it's actually the base that won me over. Libra features a surprisingly great, Chanel-esque base of buttery sandalwood, suede, and creamy musks that hovers under the tropical punch like expensive cold cream. I'd never have suspected that this combination of classic base and cheap, kicky fruit topnotes would work, but here it is. Thumbs up!
08th September, 2019
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Capricorn by Zodica Perfumery

Capricorn's lemony yuzu first blast is fantastic but short-lived. Most of its life is spent as a citrusy green tea scent, smartened by soapy lavender.

As I've often noted, green tea perfumes have to work especially hard to not smell like a cheap spa air freshener, and Capricorn's use of soapy lavender certainly helps. That being said, I've spent the whole day walking around catching whiffs of myself and being reminded of that scent they spray in Marriott hotel rooms before you check in to make them smell "clean", so Capricorn ultimately fails my "smells too much like really common air freshener" test...
06th September, 2019

Leo by Zodica Perfumery

Technically, this is a particularly fruity tuberose/jasmine perfume, but the fruit is mostly that fake strawberry that makes things smell cheap, so this ends up smelling like Fructis shampoo.

It's technically well done, with good silage and everything, but this just isn't what I enjoy at all so I have to give a thumbs-down.
06th September, 2019

Ambre d'Alexandrie by Boucheron

An awfully close copy of Hermes Ambre Narguile.

That means it's a fruity take on pipe tobacco, like a classic humidor - rich tobacco and woods - but matched with fruits and pie spices. There's a smoky ash note in the background and a vanilla gourmand richness underneath.

Late in the day, when Ambre Narguile would have dried down to spiced vanilla amber, Ambre d'Alexandrie finally goes off in its own direction and fades to sweet wood instead.

I question why this even needs to exist from an artistic standpoint, but it copies one of my old favorites, so I have no choice but to give it a thumbs-up because it smells so good.
04th September, 2019

Oud Azur 75212 by Krigler

A rather rough take on oud.

There's a lot of pepper in here, to the point where it dominates the scent for me. There's a blackcurrant cat pee undertone beneath the pepper, as well as Krigler's signature oud, rough and fecal at first, and more like a forest floor later. There's also a shot of sweaty cumin and some sweaty old leather in the background.

That blackcurrant pee note is usually a deal-breaker for me, but I kind of like it here, the way it extends the oud's funk.

There's an endearing amateurishness to Oud Azur, like someone challenged themselves to make the funkiest oud ever, then did it and realized it was just too much, so they drowned it in pepper. The result is fascinating in its audacity, but not particularly pleasant to wear, so I'm voting neutral.
04th September, 2019

Virgo by Zodica Perfumery

Obviously influenced by Angel, Virgo is a creme caramel/condensed milk gourmand with roasted coffee undertones, played against powdery soap and funky musk. This all happens under a fairly standard strawberry/apple fruity floral top.

I usually dislike fruity florals, as well as Angel clones, but the musk and soap go a long way to help Virgo - they keep it from being both too sweet and too immature.
04th September, 2019

The Alchemist's Garden : Tears of Iris Eau de Parfum by Gucci

Rich, creamy iris over a hint of chocolate - this smells a LOT like Dior Homme at first. But under that, there's an interesting red deepness (I'm guessing patchouli and berries, maybe with rose?). At first, it smells like Dior Homme spritzed next to a glass of red wine, but eventually the chocolate gets absorbed by the patchouli, leaving a patch/iris combination that works extremely well.

Ultimately, Tears Of Iris doesn't win any awards for creativity, but if you HAVE to smell like a slightly updated take on an old favorite, this is an example of how you do it well.
04th September, 2019

Cancer by Zodica Perfumery

A big, loud rose perfume. It's got violet brightness and a lot of fake strawberry on top and soapy powdery musk underneath.

Perfumes like this have gone a bit out of fashion lately, but there are still a lot out there. Cancer (yuck, that name...) is heavy on the strawberry and thus comes in at the "cheaper-smelling" end of the rose perfume spectrum, but it still very much pleasant if you enjoy a big, candied rose.
30th August, 2019

Gemini by Zodica Perfumery

I once met a health inspector at a party who mentioned that she could immediately smell when a place had a cockroach infestation. She described the smell as oily and sickly sweet and I knew exactly the smell she meant. I'd long associated it with gross old diners and the nastiest dive bars, though there are casinos in Vegas that smell like it as well. Yes, it's an oily smell, but almost floral, kind of plasticky, and sweet in a way that's kind of disturbing.

Anyway, Gemini reminds me of that roach infestation smell. That's not necessarily a complaint - it's a compelling smell.

On the surface, Gemini is a soapy mimosa perfume, topped with faux citrus and supported by waxy orange blossom. I usually enjoy mimosa scents, but find Gemini problematic for its mix of waxy plastic and saccharine fake fruit. I think something in that combination is what's bringing up the cockroach associations.

In all, I've got to vote thumbs-down - even without the cockroach imagery, I just don't really like the way this is put together.
30th August, 2019

Aquarius by Zodica Perfumery

There's a mix of verbena and green tea that makes the opening of Aquarius smell like a fairly unremarkable spa air freshener. It fades pretty quickly, at which point a thin mix of cardamom and pine comes in underneath.

This mix of cardamom, deeply round and fruity, with the dark, sharp greens of the pine is clever, but so far in the background it's not worth it. There's a great idea in here, but I don't like the execution at all - the mix of "common-smelling" and "thin" is a problem for me.
28th August, 2019

Sagittarius by Zodica Perfumery

Strawberry bubblegum. Literal strawberry-flavored bubblegum. Hubba Bubba.

The cynical critic in me wants to hate this SO MUCH - it's that overused fake strawberry that makes anything it touches smell cheap, but somehow here it's fun and it keeps making me smile and I've worn it and enjoyed it quite a few times now, so I have to bite the bullet and give this a surprisingly enthusiastic thumbs-up!
28th August, 2019
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Oud de Carthage by Boucheron

Buttery amber oud, quite nicely done.

The oud is very "upscale designer", inky and sharply leathery with saffron, somewhere between charcoal and a moist forest floor. I'm assuming the forward butter note is supposed to be sandalwood. It actually works quite well and is what keeps this from smelling like any other good-quality-but-not-particularly-original niche oud. The woody oud and the butter are cleverly tied together by amber elements, which give a sweet richness that grounds the wild shards of saffron that would be quite "stabby" without the amber.

If you're a fan of, say, Killian's ouds or the ones Ropion has done for Frederick Malle, you'll probably enjoy this. Nice.
27th August, 2019

Oud Sumptuous 75213 by Krigler

A nice mix of oud and musk. The oud smells real, rubery and fecund, gross but in a compelling way. The musk smells like galaxolide, that mix of soap, powder, and nondescript flowers.

I like the beginning best, when the oud is unabashedly fecal and melts into the flowery musk. I'm fully aware that this isn't going to work for everybody, but I enjoy its unfettered ridiculousness, and find a certain beauty in how deeply it commits. Given time, the animalics fade, leaving a mix of flowery soap and funky, chalky woods for most of the day. If you like the more adventurous side of ouds or musks, this is worth a try, but don't say I didn't warn you...
27th August, 2019

Scorpio by Zodica Perfumery

An interesting, fresh take on ylang.

The ylang is out front from the start, lifted at first by a shock of lime and verbena combining playfully with its banana undertone. As the citrus fades, a 90's mix of synthetic melon and cucumber shows up in the background. This is honestly one of my least favorite accords in perfumery, but it's subtle. Meanwhile, the tuberose comes in quietly, but adds a fatty richness that keeps Scorpio from smelling like an ill-advised ylang ylang L'Eau d'Issey flanker.

I've smelled a LOT of ylang perfumes that smell "tropical" and "beachy", smelling of salty air, piña coladas, and hot sunscreen. I appreciate that Scorpio avoids this cliche by going "marine" instead (yes, there's a difference - "marine" uses melon, cucumber, and faux lily chemicals instead of that sunscreen-and-cocktails effect). As previously stated, I'm not a big fan of "marine" scents, but this is winning me over.
15th August, 2019

Taurus by Zodica Perfumery

Cherry lollipops and sweet, candied, artificial rosy flowers with a pinch of cucumber/lily aquatic greens in the background.

I was expecting something more "indie" or "niche", but this is straight-up mass market cheapie. If I were smelling this blind, I'd assume it was a Britney Spears or a Disney Princess perfume or something similar. Not badly done (except for the lack of a proper base), just not what I'm into...
14th August, 2019

190 Ans de Création 1828-2018 by Guerlain

My sample is from the urn at Saks Fifth Avenue in NY and it smells nothing like the notes list here would suggest.

What I smell is mostly saffron, extremely sharp and more reminiscent of gas fumes than its usual leathery smell. It's paired up with rose and damp woods and a sweet background that I can't quite discern behind all that saffron (chocolate? fresh-baked cinnamon rolls??). The drydown is that "woody amber" chemical that perfumers try to pass off as oud, adding additional harshness to the nuclear saffron.

Thought #1: I thought I was a big fan of saffron perfumes until wearing this on a hot day - it's just SO sharp and oddly sinister, I just haven't really enjoyed it.

Thought #2: If anyone would have two completely different perfumes both called 190 Ans, one for Paris and one for New York, it would be Guerlain. I have no idea what's happening here...
13th August, 2019

Melograno by Santa Maria Novella

Another perfume that heavily features SMN's signature mix of soapy, musky, powdery clove and orange, this time paired up with cinnamon-dusted damascene plum (that pleasant red fruity smell that's often sold as pomegranate).

The end result is very old-fashioned: almost barbershoppy (but too feminine), almost like potpourri (but too powdery), and almost like a powdery chypre perfume (but not floral enough). It's a powder bomb, the kind of loud scent that perfume-haters really hate, but with careful application, it smells soapy and clean and spicy and wonderful.

12th August, 2019

Duc de Vervins by Houbigant

I'm loving this! After reading some awful reviews, I didn't have high hopes, but I really love the way Duc de Vervins combines a shiny violet leaf fougere with a lemony vetiver chypre. The lemon lifts the violet leaf, while the violet leaf adds shimmer to the chypre greens, while the vetiver adds a sharp green quality to everything. It's all flawlessly mixed and pretty much perfect. Thumbs way up!
12th August, 2019

No.1 Twist Water Mint by Clive Christian

I'm a big fan of No. 1 for Women, a grand aldehydic floral in the classic tradition of Joy or Chanel No. 5, but this flanker has none of that. Instead, it's just mint over a thin, chemically watered-down fougere. It's essentially a less-interesting Roadster that's got some chemical in it that knocks out my nose and makes it hard to smell. Ouch. Not worth the bother.
12th August, 2019

Musc Noble by Guerlain

An interesting way to do a musk...

There's a coffee fougere backbone here, that combination of roasted coffee, condensed milk, and lavender that's become a really popular base lately. Onto this, Guerlain has grafted a musky, funky tobacco/coumarin mix. It's kind of like the spermy, animalic drydown of Le Male melted together with Baccarat Rouge.

It works quite well - the way that bleachy Le Male funk plays against the burnt coffee is really clever. That being said, I just don't like it much personally (burnt smoked bleach just isn't what I enjoy smelling), so I'm going to have to vote neutral.
12th August, 2019

Santal de Mysore by Serge Lutens

Sandalwood of the "buttery sawdust" variety, spiced with cumin and amplified with additional woody elements (I'm guessing frankincense and cedar). Lutens' signature plum adds a sweetness on top as well.

This reminds me a lot of Feminite du Bois, but remixed so that the "bois" is stronger and the sparkly top is drowned in the buttery wood. As such, of course it smells great (almost any remix of FdB is going to smell good!), though I can see how the rich butter and cumin could be a bit much for some people.
12th August, 2019

D.S. by D.S. & Durga

I've really enjoyed D.S. The star of the show seems to be buttery wood, hinting at rich, creamy incense. There's a leathery saffron sharpness on top, leading to some oud theatrics later. Meanwhile, there's a really complex floral backdrop that keeps D.S. from being just another woody incense perfume. The floral elements come across like natural oils, sort of wet and sticky, combining to create a textural counterpoint to the sharpness of the saffron and the creaminess of the butter and incense.

Nicely done!
12th August, 2019

Mon Guerlain Eau de Parfum by Guerlain

If you work in an office, chances are there are a few women who smell like this. It's not that they're wearing Mon Guerlain, it's that a lot of perfumes smell like this...

There's a very mainstream pink pepper/tobacco mix at the center of this, further sweetened with marshmallow vanilla and Guerlain's signature candied cherry. There's a tonka/coumarin mix in there as well, which keeps Mon Guerlain from turning all the way into a Pink Sugar nightmare. Instead, it comes across more like another of their Guerlain's endless series of La Petit Robe Noire remixes, this one with the cherry turned down and the pink pepper and tobacco turned up. Meh.
12th August, 2019

Iris by Santa Maria Novella

I smell mostly powdery, soapy clove and orange, lightly musky but in the style of old-fashioned soap as opposed to anything truly animalic. I don't think I'd have considered this an iris perfume without the name, though I can imagine that there's iris in there adding depth and richness.

If you enjoy SMN's signature powdery old-school clove core that they use in a lot of their scents and soaps, then you'll likely enjoy their Iris. But if you're looking for something that actually smells strongly of iris, you may be disappointed. Personally, I like these, so it's a thumbs-up for me.
09th August, 2019

Sandalo by Etro

A really great take on sandalwood. It reminds me of my personal favorite sandalwood Santal Noble - opulent sawdust surrounded by wisps of chypre tones and sweet amber, but while Santal Noble puts the focus squarely on the sandalwood, Sandalo mixes the same ingredients differently, such that the supporting players (bitter chypre greens and sweet amber incense) are more forward. I've really enjoyed this.
09th August, 2019

Magic : Liquid Diamonds by Viktor & Rolf

Just a whole lot of "clean" smells mixed together. I definitely get the Fructis shampoo epapsiou mentions, as well as Snuggle fabric softener and Tide detergent.

I'm not a huge fan of these as a genre, but this is done well if you just want to smell like you're wearing clean clothes and freshly showered. Meh.
09th August, 2019

Hemlock & Bergamot Cologne by Jo Malone London

An interesting, pretty floral that honestly doesn't smell like any combination I've tried before.

I have no idea what hemlock smells like, but this is a combination of a honeyed, pollen-heavy mimosa with marzipan heliotrope, with a bit of powdery, soapy white florals as well. Added to this complicated combination of flowers, the cucumber comes across to me more like lily, but with a plasticky freesia quality as well. The whole thing shimmers like gold, but also maintains a deep green sensation of pollen.

The closest comparison I can make is Malle's En Passant, but though this contains the same basic ingredients, it's mixed differently, coming across more bright and shiny and simultaneously less synthetic (less plasticky than Malle's lilac) and also less realistic (than Malle's thick acacia base).

Very wearable (more so than En Passant to me), but weird and interesting enough to keep me entertained. Thumbs up!
01st August, 2019

White Patchouli by Tom Ford

A really complex smell that doesn't really do much for me. It's based on that popular mix of rose, patchouli, and sandalwood, but the patchouli is intensely green to the point that it comes off as medicinal and a touch rotten. Meanwhile, it's very mineralic and dry, almost dusty, like someone sprayed a rose perfume on a big, wet, moldy rock. But then it's also kind of plasticky or waxy, like paint fumes or even a touch of bleach.

In a way, I enjoy its sexy hip hop goth steampunk weirdness, needlessly dark and complex but still hot, like one of those music videos where a hot black woman is singing naked in an antique bathtub full of milk. As such, I appreciate it for its artistic statement, but I still feel like its sexy weirdness clashes with my personality enough that I don't really enjoy it.
01st July, 2019