Perfume Reviews

Reviews by rogalal

Total Reviews: 995

Paris-Biarritz by Chanel

A pretty little lemon splash. I've worn this multiple times, partly with the hope of getting to know its secrets, and partly just because I'm quite enjoying it. And after all that time invested, I think the secret of Paris-Biarritz is that it's actually remarkably simple, just a nice lemon note with a hint of powder on top and soap underneath. Just nice lemony soap. It doesn't last very long, leaving room for multiple re-applications (which I think is fun), and it doesn't do much, content to just be pretty.
16th October, 2018

EO No.1 Eau de Parfum by Ensar Oud

I'm having a hard time really understanding EO No 1.

On one hand, it's got real deer musk melting together with a very complex oud, so it's vaguely rubbery and gasoline-ish and has a fecal facet, but it's also flowery and a bit charred. But then there's also a densely muddled essential oil smell, floral and resinous and familiar from many lesser natural oil perfumes. It's kind of sharp and herbal, but also appealingly gross in the manner of a proper oud, but everything happens behind a lump of essential oil smell.

The thing I've found most interesting about getting to know EO No 1 is that there's a point where the real musk and herbs combine that I can tell is what old leather perfumes like Knize Ten, with their weird animalic petrol notes, are trying to recreate with modern synthetics. Smelling the real thing is truly interesting, even if I'm ultimately unsatisfied with EO No 1.
10th October, 2018

Mugler Cologne Fly Away by Thierry Mugler

After a quick jolt of pineapple, Fly Away breaks out into a coconut-infused fruit punch, with a pinch of bile to make it especially tropical (you know how papaya and other tropical fruits have a bile undertone?). It gets less fruity with time, ending up as coconutty Malibu rum.

I personally don't like the bile note at all, but I can see how it falls in line with Mugler's playfulness, and also how it goes a long way to cut the sweet fruit overload of the topnotes. But given all that, I'd recommend L'Artisan's Ananas Fizz (while it's still available) or Malin + Goetz's Dark Rum as vomit-free alternatives.
10th October, 2018
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Hermèssence Cuir d'Ange by Hermès

My favorite Hermèssence and quite possible Ellena's best work of the last few years.

Somehow, Cuir d'Ange is both completely weird and utterly comforting, in a way that I've never experienced in a leather perfume. It's utterly original, yet somehow familiar.

So what does it smell like? Well, that's complicated... It's got that mix of cumin and sweaty-old-man leather that Le Labo uses a lot (probably most famously in Rose 31), and it's also got a mix of brown sugar and molasses and New Orleans chicory coffee that should smell gourmand but instead is sort of leathery and woody. I don't smell most of the listed notes, but can understand, at least intellectually, how they could be background players.

Yet Cuir d'Ange is way more than the sum of it's parts - this odd combination of woody sugary funk somehow simulates the smell of a horse and simultaneously manages to not smell gross at all, despite itself. In fact, it actually smells fresh. I'm baffled how this works, but very glad to have it to smell. Highly recommended.
10th October, 2018

Oud Saphir by Atelier Cologne

To start, it should be pointed out that this is in no way an oud perfume. That being said, it's a proper leather scent that manages to cleverly incorporate multiple types.

It kicks off with quinoline, the main ingredient in Tuscan Leather, played against greens. This stage is a bit TOO familiar, as there are a ton of these, but it's eventually joined by rich suede and finally dries down to leathery birch tar. The rich suede thankfully manages to keep Saphir from being just another Tuscan Leather clone. Really, it's all about the slow slide from sharp quinoline to the smooth suede to the burnt pine, with a side of greens carefully maintaining continuity the whole way. Not entirely original, but nicely done.

10th October, 2018

Oranges Bigarades by Lancôme

Fresh, juicy orange on top, made especially bright with pepper and happy synthetics. It's joined quickly by what smells to me like green tea essence, but a bit more milky and rich than usual.

That's about it: oranges, lightly milky green tea, and a peppery freshness. This certainly isn't bad, and I'm intrigued by the idea of a fresh citrus that works with more modern elements instead of the typical "eau" mixture. But I tend to think perfumes heavy on green tea essence smell kind of cheap, and Orange Bigarades kind of triggers me, though I could see it finding favor with citrus fans who don't share my feelings about green tea.
10th October, 2018

10 Corso Como Uomo by 10 Corso Como

It looks like I'm the only person here who actually likes 10 Corso Como Uomo, and I think I like it for all the reasons everyone else hates it.

There are two main themes running in parallel here.

First, a very 00's-style iso e super/pepper/clary sage mix that's enough of a cliche that I can see why it turns reviewers away. I personally like the addition of the ginger, and the way what I'm guessing is a pinch of violet leaf adds a silvery sense of gloom to the otherwise camping-in-a-forest notes.

Second, there's a chalky greyness, sort of like ash or clay, but also like cement dust. This is the most realistic petrichor smell I've encountered in perfume, like fresh rain on a cement sidewalk where someone had burned a campfire the night before.

It's this interplay of the forest campfire and extremely urban rainy cement that I enjoy. That dry-but-wet smoky-but-waterlogged forest-but-city duality forms a perfect perfume yin/yang. That said, this isn't an easy wear - Uomo proudly shouts its weirdness, and not everyone wants to walk around smelling like smoky cement, but this is what I always reach for when I'm heading out to the MOMA or to see some weird performance art.
03rd October, 2018

Paris-Venise by Chanel

Paris-Venise is probably the prettiest of Chanel's three new colognes. They definitely take its cologne concentration seriously, as it takes many, many sprays to get much out of this.

So what does it smell like? It's kind of a lemony redux of No 5, with its powdery lemon champagne topnotes and soapy iris cold-cream base, but with No 5's floral core replaced by the clean white smell of Tide laundry detergent. It works - if you're on the market for something very clean but a little posh, this could be a great fit, but I can't imagine buying this personally. Why bother with a watered-down No 5 with detergent instead of jasmine? One for the Chanel superfans - if you're the kind of collector who already has Beige and No 22 and all the different versions and variations of No 5, this is probably for you.
03rd October, 2018

Mugler Cologne Take Me Out by Thierry Mugler

This kicks off with Mugler Cologne's signature grassy green mix of neroli and vetiver, which are quickly overtaken by a very traditional eau de cologne mix of lemon, bergamot, and lavender, supported by petitgrain and what I think is a touch of vanilla for lasting sweetness. There's a smell in the background that seems to be a weird synergy of indoles and bread, which is easily the most interesting thing going on in an otherwise fairly staid and time-tested mixture, but it doesn't last long enough to matter much.

As the fairly understated traditional eau of the Mugler Cologne flankers, this should be an easy sell, though I'd reach for similar classics like Eau de Hadrien or ADP Colonia before I'd bother with Take Me Out.
02nd October, 2018

Addictive Arts : Chasing the Dragon Hypnotic by Clive Christian

Largely that sweetened condensed milk smell made famous by Angel, but paired with green herbs and suede instead of the usual patchouli, lightened with a shot of citrus that gives it an unexpected freshness. Given time, the evaporated milk caramelizes into dulce de leche, joined by brown sugar and mace as the leather fades.

In all, I think Chasing The Dragon: Hypnotic is perfectly nice, well concentrated, and definitely worthy of a thumbs up, though I can't imagine paying almost $900 for this. For a less expensive (though still expensive) substitute, I'd recommend checking out Kilian's Black Phantom, which is similar but adds coffee.
29th September, 2018

Mugler Cologne Run Free by Thierry Mugler

A mineralic, metallic vetiver fused with cinnamon-dusted clove, over a mix of what smells to me like cardamom, ginger, and clary sage, which gives it a tea effect.

So it's kind of like a fusion of Spicebomb and Clive Christian's X for Men, a sort of hot-mulled-wine-meets-Christmas-tea, but with iodine-ish vetiver on top, making sure it never just smells like an overspiced holiday beverage.

Honestly, if I'd heard Run Free described like this, I'd assume it would be awful (it's hard for cinnamon and cloves to not smell cheap), but it works. It smells more expensive than it is, and manages to be just challenging enough to avoid being pedestrian, while being completely wearable. Thumbs up!
29th September, 2018

Rose & White Musk Absolu by Jo Malone London

I guess every perfume company has to have a saffron rose now, and this is Jo Malone's. The topnotes are the familiar rose/saffron/patchouli mix you'd expect, fading after about an hour to a mix of burnt pine and a cheap aquatic "woody amber" base. Sniffed up close, this base is mostly pine and a bit herbal, pleasantly burnt and reminiscent of Guerlain's Oud Essential, but the smell from a distance is all "woody amber", so to folks around me I basically smell like a teenager drenched in Axe body spray.

I can't fathom why anyone would want to pay a premium for this when Jo Malone's own excellent Red Roses is sitting right next to it, palpably better and half the price...
29th September, 2018

Back to Black by By Kilian

Of all the big tobacco gourmands, I think Back To Black is the best, beating out Tobacco Vanille and Ambre Narguille and their numerous clones. The biggest issue with the genre is the problematic mix of ash and sweets, which can awkwardly clash if not expertly executed. Back To Black is my winner simply because the combination of ash and honey smells much better to me than ash with vanilla or amber.

So what does it smell like? Honey, mostly, with subtle bitter greens to cut the sweetness, along with that ash note, and a careful illusion of pipe tobacco created by a combining chamomile and cedar with the honey.

I suppose everyone reading this already knows that Back To Black is necessary sniffing - it's the ultimate gourmand for people who don't want to smell like marshmallows. Though I should say that this was only recently dethroned as my favorite honey perfume by Hiram Green's sublime and mercifully ash-free Slowdive.
23rd September, 2018
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Jasmins Marzipane by Lancôme

I love a good jasmine perfume, though my preferences are the two extremes: either largely unadulterated, just a big, mostly plain jasmine allowed to show off its near-naked beauty, or else ornately adorned like Patou's Joy, dripping in jewels and furs and ridiculous excess like the diva queen it is.

This Lancome lands somewhere in the middle, too dressed up to show off its natural beauty, but not dressed up enough to be truly resplendent. The topnotes are promising, big full jasmine topped with pepper, with a novel combination of indoles and peanut butter underneath. I had high hopes for this, but a raspberry jam patchouli quickly joins the party, mixing with the jasmine to to eclipse the more interesting elements, leaving a better-than-average fruitchouli. Fortunately, it fades back, leaving a fantastic peppery indolic jasmine for much of the day.

In the end, I'm willing to forgive the fruitchouli - it's hard for me to dislike a jasmine perfume and this is definitely well orchestrated. My only real complaint is that I can't shake the feeling that someone at Lancome smelled Tom Ford's genre-bending Jasmin Rouge and hired Dominique Ropion to create something like it, but about 70% less interesting, but he made the best of it and ended up with something considerably less challenging, but still good.
13th September, 2018

Urban Musk by Tom Ford

I just hated this when it first came out - all I smelled was soap. Now, years later, having gotten to know musks better and developed an appreciation for the genre, I'm enjoying this considerably more, but am still not blown away.

My initial thought upon first spraying is that this smells like the drydown of a better perfume. But then, given time, it evolves and proves itself proper in its own right.

So what does it smell like? Galaxolide on top (the smell of Keihl's/Jovan 70's musk), abstractly floral and powdery, with the odd addition of sour greens. Later, as the greens mercifully fade, cinnamon comes in, along with a deeper vanilla musk, which explains the comparisons to Musc Ravageur.

In all, I think this suffers in comparison to Keihl's, Jovan, and Ravageur, so it's hard to go higher than a neutral rating. I'd also suggest that for those reading these reviews in search of a complex, expertly executed combination of musks, my current pick of the genre is Parfum d'Empire's mindboggling Musc Tonkin.
12th September, 2018

Etrog Oy de Cologne by Ayala Moriel

The etrog (a special kind of citron) note in here is fantastic. It's lemony but deeper, much like a traditional citrus eau, but way more natural and rich. Apparently, this is incredibly rare and limited, so this is pretty much the only place to smell it.

I've always wanted to smell a recreation of a classic 1800's eau de cologne made with actual natural materials, just to see what they would have smelled like back then, and the topnotes of Etrog are probably as close as I'll get, and they're marvelous.

I would have loved a traditional cologne drydown (orange blossom, petitgrain, etc), but Etrog uses a mix of natural resins and such that creates a very modern essential oil perfume drydown that's not really what I'm into.

Definitely worth a sniff for the etrog note and natural eau topnotes, though the base isn't for me, hence the neutral rating.
11th September, 2018

Orris by MCM

MCM's otherworldy Orris is my current perfume obsession. It reminds of when taxidermists jokingly combine parts from multiple animals into some sort of crazy combination, but that still looks weirdly plausible and somehow works.

So what does it smell like? Well, that's complicated. It has Chanel No 18's outer space ice cathedral mix of ambrette and iris, glued together and shot into orbit by a touch of high-pitched violet. Then, it's also got a very down-to-earth mix of sandalwood and incense, both creamy frankincense, and sharper, greener Tauer-esque resins hovering in the background, giving a continuity of sharpness when combined with the aforementioned high pitched elements. Additionally, there's a mix of dihydromercinol, ambrox, and a pinch of violet leaf that's very Creed - It's not that this smells like anything Creed has done, but MCM has clearly nicked a pinch of its DNA, using the dihdro's disembodied lavender sheen to launch the whole scent even further into outer space, while the violet leaf melts into the iris and incense (adding a silvery green shimmer), and the ambrox gives further depth and grounding to the woody/incense base.

This should really be awful. The idea of marrying ambrette weirdness with a woody iris feels like a potential fit, but doing it under the umbrella of a marine fougere is ridiculous. But it totally works. It's extremely quirky and likely to appeal only to more openminded sniffers, but the juxtaposition of celestial and earthy, frozen and warm, and unabashed chemical sharpness with smooth richness makes this one of the most deeply interesting and technically satisfying perfumes I've tried all year, and lord knows I try a LOT of perfumes...
09th September, 2018

M7 by Yves Saint Laurent

I know everyone who reviews M7 has to mention the oud, but to me, the rubbery and medicinal oud elements fade within a half an hour, leaving M7 much more of a well-crafted creamy sweet boozy wood perfume than an oud.

The real star seems to be a mix of sandalwood sawdust and an especially nice oak note, with a hint of green (herbs on top, vetiver later), a careful creamy milky vanilla that gives everything a wonderful richness without crossing over into candy, and immortelle that gives a boozy medicinal quality to the top and eventually melts into the vanilla and woods to give a really great impression of maple wood.

Even in the vintage, I'd be shocked if there's any actual oud in here - it's more of a Farenheit-esque simulation, though it's masterfully done.

In all, a wonderful scent.
07th September, 2018

Love and Tears by By Kilian

Years ago, I sprayed a ton of this on before bed and then had some sort of stroke or something. Of course, it wasn't caused by the perfume, but I distinctly remember waking up feeling really sick and stumbling into my bathroom, reeking of Love And Tears. I blacked out and woke up later on the bathroom floor, dazed and confused in a nuclear cloud of jasmine and tuberose. It turns out that I had liquid build-up in my lungs (don't worry - I'm fine now).

Anyway, I can't separate Love And Tears from the memories of that night, so any attempt at a cogent, fair review is kind of impossible for me. In terms of smell, it's basically jasmine and tuberose drying down to orange blossom, kind of like a classy, more natural Giorgio Beverly Hills or a crass, loud attempt at simulating La Chasse aux Papillons. This is one of those rare perfumes where smelling like expensive ingredients doesn't result in an expensive-smelling scent.
07th September, 2018

Eau d'Hadrien by Annick Goutal

I have two factory samples of Eau d'Hadrien, one from about 8 years ago, and one recent, and they're completely different perfumes. I'm not talking about the way that topnotes can turn with time, but literally different perfumes.

The older sample is the Eau d'Hadrien I love, a timeless classic cologne, perfectly matched lemon and bergamot, slightly sparkling and given grit with lavender, a touch soapy in the drydown.

The newer sample is clearly Creed-inspired. It's still lemon, but with a big shot of dihydromercenol on top and some vague melon and greens underneath, coming across like an extremely lemony Millesime Imperial.

The classic Eau d'Hadrien is iconic, a textbook example of a perfect classic citrus eau de cologne. If it's been replaced by this more modern aquatic lemon, it's a real loss for perfumery, though I must admit that the newer aquatic version is decent for what it is. Hopefully, I just got a mis-bottled sample, but I'll admit to being worried.
07th September, 2018

La Petite Robe Noire Couture by Guerlain

Thick, simmered-down cherry compote with a touch of booze topped with mint and plasticky aldehydes. It's curious, the molten plastic keeps this from smelling like stupid, immature candy, but it also makes everything a bit gross.

Things get better with time, as some signature Guerlain gourmand elements slip in underneath the plastic mint cherry slop, but it's not enough to win me over.
05th September, 2018

Ombre de Hyacinth by Tom Ford

I've enjoyed getting to know Ombre de Hyacinth - it's pleasantly complicated, but in a way where all the parts work together.

It goes on smelling like Chanel No 19, that signature mix of soapy galbanum and vetiver, simultaneously sharp and green and smoothly rich. It quickly goes floral, with a mix of abstract rose, honeyed acacia, and hairspray aldehydes that passes for hyacinth or lilac (by the base, once the honey is firmly in place, there's a striking similarity to En Passant). Meanwhile, there's also a neroli component, smelling like bright citrus on top and going more floral and green over time.

It's fascinating to sniff, all the components standing out, but held together by the soapy white musk, like a perfect layering of No 19, En Passant, and Irish Spring soap that starts off hyper-clean and gets more animalic and honeyed over time. On a good day, it's sublime, while on a bad day, when it all melts together to smell like posh soap, it isn't bad either. Thumbs up!
05th September, 2018

Café Rose by Tom Ford

Tom Ford's entry into the world of rose/saffron perfumes.

It's mostly a textbook affair, rose and leathery rubbery saffron over the usual patchouli and sandalwood, with a pinch of kitchen herbs giving some green to the topnotes. Café Rose shakes things up just a bit with a quiet animalic growl down in the depths, and a burnt undertone that I'm guessing is supposed to be the coffee. But the thing it does to really separate itself from the pack of similar perfumes is a glossy metallic/plastic sheen over everything.

This seems well crafted, but not especially compelling given the myriad of similar choices. I can't help but think that Montale must have a dozen aoud perfumes by now that do what this does better, and I don't care much for the plastic/metal buzz, so I'm going to vote neutral.
05th September, 2018

French Leather by Memo

With its sheer synthetic woods, cumin, and pepper, French Leather is clearly "Ellena-inspired". It could loosely be described as rosy Declaration, or alternately as Terre d'Hermes with abstract rose instead of the grapefruit. But I think it's probably closest to Rose 31 with (ironically) the leather removed.

It's not particularly floral (no more so than Rose 31), and is more accurately a peppery woody sweaty scent with green kitchen herbs and a round rosy sweetness under the dirtiness. It's well put together, if a bit of a niche cliche, though it deserves more love than it gets here (but it's Memo's own fault for calling it a leather).
05th September, 2018

African Leather by Memo

Essentially the pipe tobacco topnotes of Hermes Ambre Narguille (like Tobacco Vanille's famous cedar/clove/chrysanthemum/honey mix with extra fruit and dusted with cinnamon), but with leather in the base instead of vanilla or amber.

It works remarkably well. There's a big ash note that often bothers me in pipe tobacco perfumes that fits perfectly here, acting as a bridge between the tobacco and the leather.

Honestly, after so many middle eastern cheapies copying Tobacco Vanille, I'm a little tired of this sort of scent, but the leather basenotes and deft blending go a long way to breathe new life into something that's threatening to get a bit tired.
05th September, 2018

Les Echappées - Lalibela by Memo

A nice coconut/banana ylang, with enough vanilla and soap to make it very creamy and rich without falling into candied stupidity. On me, it's mostly linear (except for a splash of indoles in the beginning that didn't really go anywhere), though a pinch of pie spices fill in at the end as the ylang fades a bit.

I think this is well mixed, but a little simple. I'll vote thumbs up for technical merit, though I feel like you could find something like this much cheaper.
05th September, 2018

Irish Leather by Memo

This is the first Memo perfume that I've actually quite liked, and I think it's probably the best hay perfume I've come across.

At its core, it's a fougere, lavender over coumarin, but manages to smell completely different from the usual. I've often heard coumarin described as the smell of "new-mown hay", but Irish Leather is the first perfume where I've really found it to fit that description.

I think it's the complexities surrounding it that really bring out the coumarin's beauty. There's something leathery, and something grassy and green, while the lavender is obscured by mint and a chemical brightness that hints at bleach. I'm not sure how, but this all melts together to smell like an extremely clean barn - saddles and hay and old wood and just a hint of freshly-washed horse. There are quite a few perfumes that have tried to pull off this horse/barn theme, but this is the first I've seen actually pull it off. Thumbs up!
01st September, 2018

Slowdive by Hiram Green

Absolutely gorgeous realistic honey, sweet and waxy and strong. Smelling closely, I detect a pinch of orange blossom underneath, as well as some cinnamon/nutmeg/mace pie spices. There's also just a touch of an acrid undertone for maximum realism.

It doesn't really change over time, which is the only criticism I can muster, but it smells so good that doesn't bother me at all. Easily the best honey perfume out there.
30th August, 2018

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