Reviews by rogalal

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    Aqua Universalis by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

    Meh. Imagine a really stereotypical fruity floral - cassis and fake rose and other fake flowers over pink pepper. Now, imagine a fabric softener or dryer sheet that mostly smells like fabric softener, but lightly scented with that fruity floral smell. Then, add some fake-smelling citrus. There. That's Aqua Universalis.

    It's a more nuanced smell than you usually get from laundry detergent and such (if he had kept this as a scent for his detergent and scented bubbles, it would have been fine), but it seriously lacks panache as a fine perfume.

    21st June, 2014


    Plum by Mary Greenwell

    Plum's topnotes are clearly meant to appeal to fairly mainstream luxury perfume shoppers. It's got that cassis smell that perfumers love to say is plum or just about any other red fruit, mixed with rose and violets and bubblegummy jasmine. There's mint in there as well, probably in an attempt to balance the silly fruitiness (though it ends up smelling like Florabotanica). If I'm making this sound intriguing, it isn't. This smells like any other dumb but expensive fruity floral that comes and goes at Neiman Marcus.

    Thankfully, only the topnotes are dumbed down, and things get much better given a little time. A rather large tuberose note comes in eventually and pulls everything together, acting as a luxurious backbone to the mint and flowers, while the fruit dies away. A dry tobacco leaf/tonka smell comes in later and leads into the base, where a surprising vetiver takes over.

    I just don't know what to say at this point. Everything except the stupid plum is great. It's rich and concentrated, clever and unique, and keeps its balance during what could have been difficult transitions. And yet it's clearly and obviously dumbed down to the point that many serious perfumistas would likely write this off after a quick sniff on paper. Maybe it's a good fit for the Florabotanica fanatics, or for people who aren't as closed-minded as me when it comes to fruity florals...

    20th June, 2014


    Bel Respiro by Chanel

    It smells to me like Bel Respiro is Chanel's entry in the "aquatic floral" genre, typified by mixes of melon and lily. As a genre, these are usually fairly simple and often quite similar, but Bel Respiro breaks the mold by adding in a lot of intricacy. For a start, there's citrus on top, as well as a pinch of tomato leaf for added green. It's a bit peppery, and the florals are much more nuanced that the simple lily mixes that usually characterize this style.

    There's also a strong chemical component to the smell - both an undertone of fabric softener musks and a thick "watery" sheen that's almost the star of the scent. As such, Bel Respiro isn't very literal - it's an abstract expression of a shaded pond surrounded by flowers, or maybe an Elizabethan garden on a hot morning just after its been watered and everything is dripping wet. Not that it smells like these in a specific scientific sense, but more in a theoretical sense.

    All in all, I think Bel Respiro is an intelligent, artful perfume, very much deserving of a thumbs up, just for its artistic and symbolic complexity, but I'm not really a fan of melon and I don't particularly enjoy smelling like weird "limpid watery" chemicals, so it's not really the perfume for me.

    20th June, 2014


    Lalique pour Homme by Lalique

    When I fist started collecting scents years ago, I used to go to the mens counter somewhere, spray everything I could get my hands on, and then take all the sprayed strips home with me. On the train ride home, my bag would smell like an epic, dizzying pool of masculine ingredients. That's what Lalique Homme reminds me of: an impossibly complex mix of everything masculine.

    It strikes me as kind of amber, but there's a lavender fougere in there, as well as what seems to be a full chypre structure, in addition to citrus and just about any masculine herb you can imagine. Imagine layering a classic "oriental" like Coromandel with an 80's powerhouse AND a metallic lavender like Polo AND an herbal citrus cologne, but all with a sweetness that's clearly inspired by Le Male. It's as heady and confounding as it sounds, but the amazing part is that they somehow make it work. Through genius, hard work, or sheer luck, all the disparate elements not only get along, but manage to bring out each others nuances, resulting in a thick slab of manliness.

    So why the neutral rating? I just don't like it that much, personally. It's sweeter than I'd like, and the lavender has a metallic sheen that's just not my style. So, ultimately, it's not for me, but I respect it.

    14 June, 2014


    Velvet Rope by Apothia

    Weird mentholated eucalyptus that smells quite a bit like Carmex lip balm mixed with hyper-sweet fake fruit over a pink pepper/patchouli/marshmallow base. It really clashes badly for an hour or two before settling into something that smells like a mix of original "plain" chapstick and cherry chapstick.

    I see what this is trying for - attempting to use the minty woods to lend depth to a sweet fruity floral, but the end result smells like a mess to me. That being said, Velvet Rope has a quirky "manic pixie" quality (like a cute weird girl in a movie) that I could imagine would be appealing to some. But alas, not me...

    14 June, 2014


    Wonderstruck by Taylor Swift

    Having heard that Wonderstruck is one of the best celebuscents out there, I've hesitantly given it a try. I can see the appeal - it's based on a rather traditional attar of rose, sandalwood, and patchouli. It's even got a simulated oud humming very very quietly in the background. Unfortunately, it's dumbed WAY down with a ton of fake red berries on top, and a big slug of pink pepper, so it's very much a mall fruitchouli. The fruit and patchouli focus is so pedestrian that it's really hard to give this anything but a thumbs-down, but the subtle darkness and the lack of marshmallow histrionics is enough to lift this to a neutral.

    That being said, unless the local Walmart is literally your only possible source of perfumery, there are many options that equal or better this.

    12 June, 2014


    Oud 27 by Le Labo

    It's been stated before but bears repeating that Oud 27 was one of the first few niche oud scents to show up outside of Montale. At the time, its leathery saffron and upfront birch tar earned it a reputation as quite animalic, but now that we've all smelled dozens more of these, including truly animalic stinkers like Al Aoud and Bond's Harrods Swarkovsy Oud, Oud 27 feels quite tame by comparison, more like something CDG would do than the smell of a true fecal oud.

    That being said, I still think Oud 27 is great. The rubbery oud plays against traditional sandalwood and a pinch of rose for sweetness, while smoky saffron lends strong leathery support. Over time, the birch tar picks up the heavy lifting, while the smoky woods settle into a slow burn. There's no barnyard stink or any of the moldy band-aid smells that typify real oud - this is an oud for fashionophiles at Barneys, not locals at a Cambodian bazaar. It's quite beautiful, though in a very dark way, but if you're looking for the huge stinker promised in the early reviews, you may be disappointed.

    10th June, 2014


    Fleur de Liane by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    I suppose it's almost a niche cliche by now: The melon/lily "aquatic" floral. Fleur de Liane is/was L'Artisan's try at the genre. Honestly, it's better than most, but I'm not sure that's high praise.

    The big attraction is a juicy, realistic cantaloup on top, flanked with salt and pepper, lilies, some cucumber and maybe some aloe vera, and some of that green-smelling "aquatic" chemical that was so popular in the 90's. It loses the cantaloup and gains some soapiness over time.

    At least for me personally, I lost the ability to take these scents seriously after Purell hand sanitizer became ubiquitous and the smell of that "aquatic" chemical mixed with fake cucumber fell from the realms of high perfumery and became the smell of cheap sanitary cleaning. As far as the genre goes, that clever cantaloup places Fleur de Liane close to the top of the heap, but I still prefer Hermes Un Jardin Apres La Mousson, which takes the same basic building blocks but drenches them in enough black pepper to keep it from smelling like hand cleaner.

    10th June, 2014


    Joséphine by Rancé 1795

    I don't know the name of the chemical, but there's that ingredient in older perfumes that smells like gross 80's pump hairspray - that sickly liquid plastic smell. Josephine features this pretty heavily, which mostly serves to take a mediocre honeyed rose floral and make it smell terribly cheap. There's other stuff going on, like a touch of peach and some of that fake strawberry that shows up in cheaper rose perfumes. There's a clever pinch of woody hawthorn which temporarily gives all that plasticky cheap fruity rose a subtle undertone of warm cherry blossom, which is enough to raise this review from a thumbs-down to a neutral, but really, that plastic mixing with the weird honey note under all that cheap-smelling fake rose and fruit is just a hot mess.

    At least older perfumes that use that hairspray note usually fade down to a passable chypre, but Josephine ends up with a pink pepper/patchouli drydown that's decidedly "mall". If you like the type of older perfumes that this is supposed to be a tribute to, I'd suggest hunting them down as opposed to wasting energy on Josephine, which is actually fairly expensive.

    10th June, 2014


    Gendarme V by Gendarme

    Ostensibly, this smells like soap. But it's got orange blossom and a touch of neroli dancing on top of a white soap smell, so it's quite floral - it reminds me of gold Dial soap, a smell that I really enjoy, hence the thumbs up.

    This floral soap takes place on top of a warm-body-in-a-shower smell that's weirdly salty. Honestly, this shower body trick has become a bit of a cliche nowadays, but V deserves some sort of credit for jumping the bandwagon early.

    As much as I'm unimpressed by the body smell, it works as a clever foil for the soap smell, and I REALLY like that soap smell...

    09 June, 2014


    Neroli 36 by Le Labo

    An interesting orange blossom perfume, indolic and painted green with neroli in the beginning. It's quite salty, which is a bit of a modern touch. It eventually dries down to a neroli/orange blossom mix over sweet soap, a mixture that reminds me of Giorgio Beverly Hills, though the salt and a hard-to-describe sort of roughness sets apart Neroli 36 from Giorgio's loud but perfectly coiffed perfumeyness. As the flowers slowly fade, that salty hot soapy body smell comes in, bringing Neroli 36 into Fire Island territory until the florals dissipate altogether, leaving a weird salty soap base.

    All in all, Neroli 36 does some interesting things. I generally don't feel completely comfortable in heady florals, but it's actually all that salt and the kitschy hot-body-in-the-shower novelty smell that have dropped this from a thumbs up to a neutral. It's good, but not for me.

    28 May, 2014


    Vetiver by Santa Maria Novella

    I haven't even come close to smelling the dozens of SMN perfumes, but the one's I find locally, as well as many of their signature soaps, body, and home products share a certain "Santa Maria Novella" signature smell. It's a sort of herbal potpourri smell drowned in soapy powder.

    To me, this is the "x factor" that separates SMN's Vetiver from so many others. The vetiver itself is solid and strong, bitter and pungent, but the soapy powdery potpourri smell rounds off the rough edges, leaving it more "perfumey" than many vetivers. There's also a fairly forward geranium, as well as mossy green galbanum making things a bit old-smelling and fusty. The other element that stands out is a weird nutty, woody, nutmeg smell that somehow combines with the SMN signature soap to smell very abstract - kind of like a big slab of nutty woody bread laced with coffee sitting there with the vetiver, greens, and soapy smells.

    It's a very complex smell, much more so than most vetivers. For fans of mossy, powdery, old-fashioned scents that are still masculine, SMN Vetiver could be grail material. Personally, I find it intellectually stimulating, but ultimately too garnished. I like vetivers because they have an exciting rawness - SMN Vetiver is too loaded down and smoothed over to be exciting.

    17 May, 2014


    Grey Vetiver by Tom Ford

    I find vetiver, as a smell, very jagged - The olfactory equivalent of those long blades of grass that are sharp enough to cut skin, especially if you rub them the wrong way. Some of my favorite vetivers (like Guerlain) leave the smell rough and pointy. Others try to soften it with musks, burying it in soap until it can't hurt anybody.

    Grey Vetiver chooses a third option, which is what make it stand out. It's beachy. There's a ton of salt on top, as well as that herbs-on-a-salty-breeze Acqua di Gio effect. There's also a pinch of that 90's "marine" note, which I usually hate, but is used so carefully here that it actually works. It wouldn't surprise me if Grey Vetiver has an extremely high concentration of calone.

    If I'm making Grey Vetiver sound cheap or dumb, it's very much not. It's got the requisite lemon facets and nutmeg in the drydown, but the inherent roughness of the vetiver is perfectly smoothed by the beachy air smells. Definitely a thumbs up.

    17 May, 2014


    Sunday Cologne / Fantastic Man by Byredo

    Citrus and woods, kind of like cedar, but not in a literal way. There's also a kitchen cabinet full of cooking spices - high-pitched pepper and ginger, as well as woody anise, with just a hint of animalic cumin for depth. Surrounding this, there's a pool of familiar chemical smells, most notably that green synthetic "marine" smell, as well as that ubiquitous metallic rubbing alcohol "woody amber", all wrapped up in a heady dose of iso e super smoke.

    Given time, a leathery birch tar comes in, smartening up the base and keeping this from devolving into a stupid aquatic.

    As for the Terre d'Hermes comparison, it's fairly apt, though TDH is abstract (there's not much of anything in it that smells like a "thing" - it smells more like a concept or and idea than a pile of ingredients) while Fantastic Man is grounded in recognizable spices and smells, so it has a different sort of appeal.

    All in all, I quite enjoy the interplay of wood and smoke and spices, but that metal smell just irks me to the point where I can't give this a thumbs up.

    13 May, 2014


    Bois d'Arménie by Guerlain

    A pleasant, sweet, powdery amber. On me, the focus of the scent is that interplay when benzoin meets vanilla and incense, creating a polite amber smell. The incense is deepened with dusty sandalwood and what smells like oak and just a touch of green in the background from a pinch of opoponax, but the vanilla is that marshmallowy-sweet ethyl maltol, so Bois d'Armenie is much sweeter than your average amber. That being said, the high dose of benzoin makes sure everything stays powdery and fluffy-soft.

    All in all, I prefer my ambers rough and smoky as opposed to sweet and fluffy, so Bois d'Armenie has yet to win me over, but it's a well made perfume. Just not for me.

    11th May, 2014


    Géranium pour Monsieur by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

    The first few times I tried Geranium Pour Monsieur, I just didn't like the mint. Coming back to it a couple of years later, the mint doesn't bother me - what once seemed like a tremendous mistake now feels integrated and thought-out.

    To my nose, Geranium Pour Monsieur basically takes all the facets of natural rose geranium and exaggerates them, so it's got more minty brightness, more flowery nuances, more licorice undertones, and more leafy greens. It's kind of like someone colored in a picture in a coloring book using the right colors, but much brighter versions of the right colors, so the whole thing has a weird sort of exaggerated vibration to it that makes it surreal.

    In the end, I sort of like Geranium Pour Monsieur now, yet somehow, hours in, I just stop caring, and this is something that seems to happen with all the geranium scents I've tried. I love geranium as a supporting actor (I love the dark heft it give to Encre Noir or the deep green it lends to Guerlain's Vetiver), but I tend to tire of it in a starring role.

    10th May, 2014


    Purple Patchouli by Tom Ford

    Sweet, candied violets mixing with grape jelly and cherry syrup over a very fruity patchouli, slightly tempered with a pinch of green (perhaps a hidden chypre skeleton?) and just a hint of oud-ish saffron for goth appeal.

    I expected this to follow the usual violet path and end up as a make-up smell, but the sweet fruit and patchouli keep it fairly linear.

    In the end, I find the mix of candied fruit and flowers over subtle slashes of darkness just appealing enough to warrant a thumbs up, but it's worth noting that, in the years since Purple Patchouli debuted, this style of "fruitchouli" has become quite ubiquitous and fairly unpopular in the perfumista community. This is a notable early example, and it's well done, but may still turn off people who are simply sick of violet and fruity patchouli...

    09 May, 2014


    Pure White Cologne by Creed

    Formerly known as "Original Cologne", Basenotes should probably combine the two entries...

    Honestly, to use an old insult, there's not much "there" there in Pure White Cologne. It kicks off with some nice juicy citrus (mostly orange and grapefruit, to my nose) paired up with the usual Creed aquatic synthetics. Within a half an hour, most of the citrus has faded, leaving Creed's signature chemicals topped with some vaguely eggy mandarin aldehydes. And that's about it. There's a pleasant ambrox base you'd expect from Creed, but the whole affair is quite light.

    This reminds me in a way of Acqua di Gio - it's got the same warm synthetic mineral soul, though I'm speaking in terms of artistic inspiration more than actual smell. And that's not a complaint - I like ADG...

    Realistically, Pure White Cologne will likely appeal to Creed fans without really reaching out to new converts. I enjoy the fleeting realistic citrus more than some of the synthetic nightmares Creed has put over its famed aquatic base, but if you're looking for a true, well crafted, traditional Eau from Creed, their Citrus Bigarrade fits that bill perfectly, without the chemical smells.

    09 May, 2014


    Muguet 2014 by Guerlain

    A nice green, slightly earthy lily perfume. The lily is supported by a rather potent indolic tuberose, which manages to strengthen the blend without ever completely overpowering the lily. This all takes place on a bed of traditional "perfumey" white flowers and a fairly standard soapy musk base, which eventually gets a bit creamier after a few hours, once vanilla slips in and starts displacing the tuberose. As far as lily perfumes go, this is nice, but there are others, which get a little grittier, that I prefer.

    I suppose the elephant in the room is this: If you've read much of anything about perfumery, it's well known that there is no natural lily essence, so every lily smell, from a Guerlain exclusive to a Bath & Body Works lily shower gel to a Glade plug-in, all use the same small palate of inexpensive faux-lily chemicals. So it's REALLY hard to justify a $600 lily perfume based on ingredients (even if that is a really expensive tuberose, that's still a LOT of money). That being said, the bee bottle wrapped in porcelain is gorgeous in person...

    08 May, 2014


    Terracotta Le Parfum by Guerlain

    This perfume does a whole lot more than the stunted notes list could even hint at.

    It kicked off tumbling through L'Heure Bleue's honey and sandalwood, which were quickly pushed to the background by Guerlain's cherry booze note and some peach and background florals. From this, an indolic tuberose came forth, which was, to my nose, the star of the scent. But it's everything happening underneath that keeps Le Parfum so interesting. The waxy ylang dances with the honey, while subtle tobacco leaf and vanilla come in and fuse with the fruit and woods and honey and flowers to make a slightly discounted (this is no L'Heure Bleue extrait, but then again nothing really is), though still really nice Guerlinade.

    In the end, the rather potent tuberose sillage makes this something I wouldn't want a full bottle of, but Terracotta Le Parfum is hands-down the best $70 mass market Guerlain in ages. Get it while you can!

    08 May, 2014


    Fleur de Cristal by Lalique

    Fleur de Cristal lands halfway between one of those currently fashionable fruity florals that smell like wet hair and shampoo and a very classic soapy white floral.

    It's got that Calyx peach note that's so popular (they can call it "solar flower" all they want, but it's that fruity floral peach everyone uses) mixed over some artificial-smelling rose. There's some plasticky hairspray aldehydes and a lot of soapy musk to keep it "perfumey". With a little time, the soapy musks get stronger, bringing with them that hot salty hair-being-shampooed smell, while some nice white florals swallow up the faux rose.

    Honestly, this is the kind of perfume that doesn't impress me. I'm not sure if it's smart but trying to dumb itself down for mass acceptance, or if it's just another mall perfume that happens to incorporate some classic elements. I wouldn't think ill of anyone who enjoys this (it's nowhere near THAT bad), but I'm still not all that impressed.

    05 May, 2014


    Shooting Stars: Kobe by Xerjoff

    Kobe seems to be based on a very traditional citrus Eau formula (imagine ADP Colonia or Eau de Hadrien) of bergamot, citrus, and herbs over orange flowers and petitgrain. Personally, I like Kobe less than many of its brethren, largely because it focuses so heavily on the petitgrain. Petitgrain is a really rough smell, scratchy and standoffish, and Kobe fixes this by immersing it in powdery soap at first, and eventually in marshmallowy vanilla. Kobe also features the floral mix of orange blossom and neroli more than the citrus itself - it's odd, I usually like a good orange floral, but the upfront petitgrain makes the flowers kind of oily and waxy, so I'm just not enjoying this.

    I don't have the heart to give Kobe a thumbs down - aside from the stupid marshmallow smell at the end, it doesn't really do anything terrible, but I just don't like it. I'll happily stick to CDG's Citrico, which is my go-to Eau...

    04 May, 2014


    Go Green by Lush

    This is a review of the solid perfume - I'm not sure if the weird-looking spray still exists.

    As promised, it's quite green. There's that sweet grass smell you get when neroli and vetiver meet, but there's also an evergreen tone to it as well. There's a tart citrus on top, and some cooking spices in there as well, but it all sums up to equal "green".

    The most notable foil to all that green is the tarragon note that Lush seems to like. It comes across as sort of creamy and foody. I don't really love that tarragon, but I can see how Go Green needs something to add non-green depth.

    It's all fairly linear once the citrus burns off - a neroli/vetiver mix that smells kind of like a freshly moved lawn on a hot day, but in a forest, and with that weird tarragon in there as well.

    All in all, I don't dislike Go Green, but there are better greens out there, and the linearity makes it a bit of a drone. A fantastic chypre base or something could have really made this sing, but instead, it just hums along...

    02 May, 2014


    Shooting Stars: Modoc by Xerjoff

    Perhaps my sample is mislabeled (it's a factory sample from Xerjoff, so I doubt it though), but I'm smelling something quite different from the descriptions here.

    Yes, there's citrus on top, but it quickly morphs into a complicated mix that's quite hard to describe. I smell licorice, as well as a weird melba toast smell, with dry woods, as well as cumin and pepper. It's quite "foody", smelling like some sort of fried Indian dish topped with hot sauce. But then all of this takes place on top of a perfumey cushion of what I'm assuming is the iris.

    It all dries down to an appealing spiced wood smell that ends up fairly green, kind of like breaking open a new green branch on a sapling.

    I've given Modoc a few tries, attempting to get to know it. The wood elements are nice, but I find the topnotes more "intellectual" than actually appealing. That licorice/cumin/fried bread thing really is as weird as it sounds. Meh.

    01st May, 2014


    Chamade by Guerlain

    Another of the "important" Guerlains that I'm going to have to pass on. The current EDT starts off with a blast of sweet fake-smelling lemon mixed with Guerlain's signature sweet pea note. They are quickly joined by those aldehydes that smell like that stinky 80's pump hairspray, as well as a plasticky, fake rose note that combines with dark waxy honey in a weird attempt to smell "limpid" but mostly smells "experimental". There's also some confusing tarragon and cassis in there, and the whole thing just smells weird, like synthetic plastic versions of a whole bunch of things that should smell beautiful.

    Figuring that I must be missing something, I tried the extrait for comparison. It's definitely a lot better. By amplifying the base, Chamade switched from a synthetic plastic-fueled nightmare into a grand aldehydic floral. I still didn't care for the tarragon and the overly-waxy rose, but it was definitely enough to turn this review from a thumbs down to a neutral.

    30th April, 2014


    Jaïpur Homme by Boucheron

    I ended up with two bottles of Jaipur Home, one EDT and one EDP, gifts from a friend who had grown tired of them. I tried the EDT first. From the first sniff, I assumed it was a 60's fragrance, a complex old-fashioned butterscotchy amber dusted with cinnamon and nutmeg and some aldehydes for sparkle, all mixed in with a traditional old-world fougere - lavender over coumarin with a touch of vanilla and poop. It's an awful lot going on, and some of it clashes (the pie spices with the lavender and aldehydes come off rather metallic and unbalanced).

    Then, I saw that this is actually from 1997 and the Le Male influence immediately fell into place. The weird metallic lavender, the mix of vanilla and spermy coumarin, the whole "strange dirty" vibe. Jaipur Homme essentially puts the ideas of Le Male in a historical context, replacing Gaultier's loud sweet grape with amber elements to class it up. That being said, I still think it smells kind of messy and a bit gross.

    Hoping that a different concentration would change things for me, I tried the EDP. It balances the topnotes more, giving more of a bergamot/lavender feel, with hints of fennel. It also changed the feel of the scent - while the EDT followed a natural progression, the higher concentration of the EDP brought the basenotes up in the mix, so the whole thing feels richer and fuller. Unfortunately, it also amplified the poop. With my apologies, there's a certain mix of lavender, powder, plasticky musk, and civet that ALWAYS smells like a diaper to me, and that diaper mix overtook everything else in the EDP and rendered it largely unwearable for me.

    So, my verdict? EDT: interesting but flawed. Jumbled and kind of gross, though clearly well thought out. EDP: The same, but stronger and taking place next to a stinky baby.

    30th April, 2014


    Amber Absolute by Tom Ford

    When I first tried the Tom Ford Private Blends, I was new to "fine fragrance" and didn't really like most of them. I hated Amber Absolute most of all - I thought it smelled weird and moldy. As the years have passed, most of the Private Collection have won me over as I've gained a little more experience. But I'm still not sure about Amber Absolute.

    It's kind of like someone re-created a 50's/60's butterscotchy amber (there are shades of Coromandel in this) using that modern Pink Sugar marshmallowy vanilla instead of a nicer vanilla. It's got hints of sandalwood and frankincense, as well as some lavender on top for brightness (I think this is where the moldy smell comes from), as well as a peachy fruity quality.

    Really, there are so many amazing amber perfumes out there that, in order to stand out, yet another one has to bring something new to the table. And the only thing Amber Absolute is serving is marshmallow. I can see how that could modernize a classic recipe, but I don't think it's for me. I no longer think it's awful, but I don't think it's great, either.

    30th April, 2014


    Shooting Stars: Oesel by Xerjoff

    Oesel is really an interesting scent. Imagine a strong, rather real-smelling orange blossom paired with a heavy dose of woody petitgrain, so it smells heady and floral and potent, but also dark, waxy, and woody. Then, take that and put it over Creed's signature aquatic mix of of Allyl amyl glycolate, dihydromercenol, and ambrox, so it smells like someone layered a woody floral perfume over a citrusy Creed. The result might be a bit of a hard sell - the salty aquatic elements are fairly masculine, while for people who live places where orange blossom isn't considered a masculine smell, the flowers are quite loud and feminine and will likely scare away the Creed fans who are clearly a big part of Oesel's intended audience.

    It all works better than I'm making it sound. It's kind of like someone took CK One and replaced the lemon on top with citrusy flowers, but upped the concentration until it was very rich and strong. There are absolutely wonderful points in the day, especially when the base starts to come in and the ambrox mixes with a pinch of soapy vanilla to create a ridiculously thick, luxurious bed for the flowers. It ends up as sweet vanilla after going through an orange creamsicle stage (which is the only part I really didn't like).

    Worth testing if you're an open-minded fan of either florals or aquatics. But if you believe in rigid distinctions of masculine versus feminine in your scents, you can probably safely skip this.

    30th April, 2014


    Shooting Stars: Uden by Xerjoff

    I'm not sure why I want to hate Xerjoff so much, though I'm certain it has to do with the ridiculousness surrounding the names and the tiny piece of meteorite glued to the bottle. It's like meeting someone who looks like a total douchebag but who turns out to be a nice, charming guy. He looks like an ass, and must be at least sort of an ass to think looking like that is cool, but he's actually likeable if you separate the substance from the unfortunate choice of style.

    Anyway, so Uden... Frankly, it's like someone reverse-engineered Hermes' Ambre Narguile and slightly tweaked it. There's the fruit on top, the wood and honey making a pipe tobacco smell, ashy smoke, and vanilla amber underneath. The main difference is that Uden focuses more on the fruit and adds some coffee, while Hermes largely focuses on the tobacco and cinnamon. If you know Bois 1920 Sushi Imperial, it's also in the same family. It's also like a rich cousin to CK Shock for Him. If you like one of those, you'll probably like Uden.

    All in all, I have to give Uden a thumbs up. It's strong, nice quality, and smells good. It's certainly not original, but what it copies isn't horrendously overplayed, so I'm letting that slide. I still dislike the marketing, overpriced packaging, and rushed release schedule of the Xerjoff house, but I'm reviewing the juice, not who made it...

    24 April, 2014


    Geranium Odorata by Diptyque

    There used to be a rose geranium bush growing next to my desk, right outside my old workplace. It was an ugly, scraggly plant that tended to collapse under its own weight, half-heartedly squeezing out sad little flowers every spring, but its leaves smelled amazing. I used to rub them all the time just to get the smell on my fingers, so I feel like I have rose geranium etched firmly in my brain. Geranium Odorata does a great job capturing that smell.

    Rose geranium is a really complex smell, leafy and green, but with that smell of rose mixed in. It kind of smells like licorice as well, and many people find it sort of lemony. Geranium Odorata does all of this, and this complex geranium smell is very much the star of the show. It's supported by a little citrus for brightness and some vetiver for added green. There's a hint of ashy smoke, and many hours in, a quiet base of wood and rubbing alcohol (the one part of this that I don't like) remains, with the lingering greens of the vetiver and geranium carefully dusted on top.

    Honestly, this is what I had hoped Geranium Pour Monsieur would have smelled like (I don't like all that mint), though it's all a bit linear. It's quite dark, which makes for an interesting yin/yang with the rose element, but I'll personally stick with Encre Noire (which is actually more geranium than vetiver, though most people don't notice it) for my dark geranium fix. Thumbs up, but I don't think I need a bottle.

    23 April, 2014

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