Perfume Reviews

Reviews by rogalal

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Total Reviews: 805

Simply Belle by Exceptional

White flowers and a touch of peach over a thick stew of fabric softener musk and warm soap. It reminds me of those Tocca perfumes, or Jack Twist says, something Gendarme (but without Gendarme's greens and funk). All told, this is by no means a grand statement of haute perfumery, but it's not stupid or candied or basic and you could certainly do worse for the discounted price.
20th May, 2017

Cologne Indélébile by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

So, this is basically a standard eau de cologne recipe - citrus and lavender on top with orange blossom and petitgrain to extend the smell. In its quest for improved longevity, it's also got some mandarin aldehydes in there, with their cheap plasticky artificial orange smell. And that's about it.

I've said in multiple reviews that it's almost impossible to screw up orange blossom, because it's just such a beautiful smell. But yeah, lesson learned: don't add cheap plasticky mandarin aldehydes. All in all, with so many great eaus and orange blossom perfumes out there, I wouldn't bother with Cologne Indélébile.
20th May, 2017

Trouble in Heaven by Christian Louboutin

I really appreciate when someone here and now takes the time to put together a fabulous musk perfume. The genre feels out of fashion, but Trouble In Heaven does a great job modernizing something classic.

It's got that 70's "sexy" musk paired with vanilla, but there's also a tonka/coumarin/tobacco haze, and the whole thing has a powdery fuzzy quality. I like how the tobacco gives it a modern feel, while the boozy tonka elements take something that could have been a lame Jovon or Shalimar clone and make it something great in its own right.

Thumbs up!
16th May, 2017
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Tornade Blonde by Christian Louboutin

One of those warm, fuzzy perfumes that's mostly a mix of pink pepper and fabric softener. The abstract musky fuzziness dominates the scent, but there's an undercarriage that reminds me of Burberry Brit mixed with tropical ylang and pineapple, with a decent vanilla holding everything together. But really, all of the non-fuzzy elements are just background noise - the main even is the comfortable abstract softness.

The pink pepper dumbs things down a bit, and the fabric softener doesn't smell particularly luxurious, but the rest holds it own. Altogether, I'm voting neutral, as this just comes across a bit to common for its price point.
14th May, 2017

Feu Secret by Bruno Fazzolari

I've quite enjoyed getting to know Feu Secret.

It starts with iris, flanked with orange and vetiver similar to Chanel's 28 La Pausa, but Feu has a substantial base of forest woods and amber resins, along with a large helping of buttery sandalwood.

The iris/amber/butter/forest combination is well executed - as the iris fades, the resins come through more forcefully, while there's a consistent buttery log smell that adds richness while tying it all together.

Well done.
13th May, 2017

Bikini Questa Sera by Christian Louboutin

I didn't have high hopes for this (come on, it has "bikini" in the name!), but it's actually quite good.

It kicks off with a mix of raspberry and violets that had me concerned that it may be just another fruity floral, but they were quickly joined by a nicely tempered tuberose and wonderful orange blossom. The tuberose was in the forefront for a while. As it faded just a bit, the orange blossom came forth, mixing with the buttery indoles of the tuberose and the pinch of lingering raspberry, along with something subtly honeyed (perhaps acacia?) to form a truly beautiful floral mixture.

This is strikingly well engineered. It broadcasts loudly in a way that's luxurious instead of cheap, and the clever use of raspberry makes it feel very modern without dumbing it down. Very much a thumbs up. Floral lovers should definitely give it a try.
12th May, 2017

Fantasia de Fleurs by Creed

Raspberry candy mixed with pretty jasmine and rose with a pinch of plasticky aldehydes to keep it from smelling like a stupid fruity floral. It's nice but not great. That raspberry note is clearly crafted using C-16 Strawberry aldehydes, also known as that cheap strawberry shampoo smell, And the hairspray aldehydes smell kind of like rotten, moldy plastic, so the florals have to work especially hard to shine despite their questionable surroundings.

Personally, I'd stick with Creed's similar-but-better Fleur de Thé Rose Bulgare over this one.
10th May, 2017

Eau Parfumée au Thé Blanc by Bulgari

Thé Blanc is a perfect example of how to make a perfume that won't offend anyone, but that also isn't just boring or too mainstream.

It starts with vetiver and black pepper, quickly joined by green tea extract and a bit of sage. As the pepper fades, it gets a little soapy, but mostly just smells like a perfectly matched combination of vetiver, tea, and sage.

I think it works fine as a proper perfume, but it really shines most in its ancillary products, especially the bar soap. If forced to complain, I generally don't like green tea essence (this is one of the only scents I genuinely enjoy it in), and this may disappoint if you actually want a perfume that smells like tea. But I still say thumbs up, very much so.
09th May, 2017

Baccarat Rouge 540 by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Roasted coffee mixed with that condensed milk smell from Angel, topped with flowers and mint instead of the lavender you usually get with perfumes like this, so the roasted coffee is at the forefront.

It's not bad, and I'm giving it a thumbs up, but there's no way to review this without mentioning the mountains of hype surrounding it. I smelled it back when it was $4000 and was shocked that it didn't even bother to try to smell expensive. There's no upfront expensive ingredients, and it's actually quite weak in concentration.

I cannot even fathom paying $4000 for this, and honestly, it's overpriced in its $300 bottle as well. The advertising and in-store hoopla around Rouge 540, treating it as the second coming of perfume, a world-changing arrival of new levels of luxury, is just laughably grotesque considering this is just another remix of Angel that's not as good as Angel. It's worth a sniff and if you've got the money, you could certainly do worse, but don't believe the hype...
07th May, 2017

El Poeta by Mario Tomas

El Poeta is a fantastically complicated perfume. It goes on smelling to me like a deep, rich, caramelized fig molasses mixed with black licorice. There's something in the background that reminds me of yeasty dough as well.

As it goes on, there's a point where the fruity coriander comes in and it reminds me of hot apple cider with mulling spices and licorice. Other times, the doughy aspect gives it a smell of buttery spiced bread just about to burn in the oven, all in a kitchen swirling with smells of fruit syrups and teas. Hours in, it fades to a lightly spiced vanilla.

El Poeta, especially the dark syrupy topnotes, would likely appeal to Slumberhouse fans, and if you enjoy the rich complexity of the darker Lutens, this may be a fit as well.

I really like El Poeta as an art piece, but like many truly artful perfumes, I can't really imagine buying a whole bottle and wearing this as a signature scent. Its wearability really depends on your ability to enjoy the dark licorice. While I wouldn't personally choose this as everyday wear, this still earns a very hearty thumbs up for artistry.
05th May, 2017

Lo Mejor de Mi #1 by Mario Tomas

A pleasant top of mixed citrus, with elements of orange and grapefruit the most obvious. It's executed well, never turning plasticky or artificial. Mario uses a pinch of green tomato leaf to balance the citrus. There's a hint of vomit from the tomato leaf, which is unfortunate. I would have hoped that the heart notes could have masked that, but Lo Mejor performs more like an eau de cologne than an edp - any heart or basenotes are weak and barely there, so there's nothing to hide the negative aspects of the tomato leaf. Instead, this is mostly just a fresh citrus/green mix that fades fairly quickly.

All in all, this is a fun little spritz deserving of a thumbs up, though the almost impossible-to-track complex twists and turns of his other perfumes had led me to assume Lo Mejor would last longer and do more, but it really doesn't need to.
05th May, 2017

Creed pour Enfants by Creed

To be fair, perfume for babies has a long history outside America, so I'm not offended by the concept. Lots of brands make them (most notably Geurlain, Le Labo, and Bulgari).

So what does it smell like? Remember those little cans of cling peaches in syrup that were ubiquitous in 80's lunch boxes? It smells like that, realistic and fun. After a few minutes, the realism wears off and it smells like that Calyx peach note that's in thousands of other perfumes. Given an hour or so, the peach is joined by melon and it smells like Paris Hilton for Men. I can't imagine paying $250 to smell like this, but I probably wouldn't perfume a baby, either.

Anyway, judged purely on merit, Pour Enfants is fine but not great, and certainly not original, but I did get some guilty pleasure from the memories of cling peaches, so I'll vote neutral and leave it at that.
05th May, 2017

Vesper by Mikmoi

You know that plastic-coated pressboard lumber they use to make cheap furniture? If you can imagine a lumberyard sawing through that plastic chemical-treated faux wood all day, and then mix that with the smell of fresh paint, with a small swirl of berry jam running through it, that's the closest I can come to describing the smell of Vesper.

Given time, the swirl of fruit turns out to be cassis, as its cat urine undertone billows out along with its stodgy green base smell. The green underbelly of the cassis overtakes the paint smell, but that plastic chemical wood smell remains, now darkened with urine and greens.

So... This is definitely a unique smell. It's taken real effort for me to wrap my head around what I'm smelling and come up with some sort of description. So I fully appreciate the work that went into creating something completely original. But all that pee! I just can't... I love that Mikmoi is trying to feature a note that most perfumers don't, but there's a reason they don't.

Thumbs up for trying something creative + Thumbs down for too much pee = Neutral.
01st May, 2017
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Aldwych by Mikmoi

One of the interesting things about following independent perfumers is watching their progression as they perfect their craft. There's something charming about comparing simpler early works and later perfumes that are better executed.

Aldwych is my favorite of Mikmoi's first collection. To me, it smells like it's 90% black pepper extract, peppery on top and fading to pine-ish woody green. I've said repeatedly that, given a choice, I'd rather smell one great ingredient carefully supported with subtle background elements than a complicated mess of conflicting ingredients, and Aldwych is a good example of what I like from an inexperienced perfumer. Under the black pepper, I can sense a pinch of lemon or bergamot, and maybe some sort of grassy wood element, but this is really for pepper fanatics.

It's worth noting that Mikmoi's later works, especially his line of hair perfumes, show a grasp of complexity and panache missing from his early works, but for fans of perfume rawness, Aldwych is a fun place to start.
01st May, 2017

La Petite Robe Noire - Ma Première Robe 2016 by Guerlain

Essentially, this is a rose/berry fruitchouli mixed with one of those violet/suede lipstick perfumes, grafted together by that mint from Florabotanica and every upscale fruity floral since. It's painfully obvious that this was created to try to mix together three of the biggest current trends in mainstream luxury perfumes, as if painstakingly combining three forms of "basic" would make for something innately crowdpleasing. To be fair, it's executed quite well (it's got good projection and longevity and the blending is perfect), but it just aims so low that it's really hard to get excited about it.
29th April, 2017

Ceremony by Mirus

The combination of oud with jasmine makes for a bit of an odd mix, reminding me of the smell of a new tire mixed with bubble gum and cherry lollipops. Given time, the candy fades, making room for a sharp green resin smell mixing with the rubbery oud. By the end of the day, I'm left with mostly just oud, but still vaguely sweet.

I can see how Mirus wanted to add something to make this not just another oud/incense perfume, but I'm not sure if flowers posing as candy was the right choice. So, I'm voting neutral.
29th April, 2017

Citrus Vervain by Elizabeth W

Much of the charm of citrus comes from the mix of bitterness and explosive juicy sparkle. Unfortunately, Citrus Vervain doesn't have any of that. Instead, it smells more like an artificial flavorant, like something that would be used in making candy, a flat chemical lemon-ish grapefruit-ish smell devoid of life and vibrancy.

I can imagine this sort of one-dimensional smell working in a basic hand cream or soap, but it just doesn't translate as a proper perfume.
29th April, 2017

Blue Lotus Vetiver Attar by Persephenie

This isn't really what I expected, but I've really enjoyed it. I usually don't like lotus perfumes, because it often adds a weird fishy seashell quality that I simply don't enjoy. But here, it's perfectly blended with the vetiver. It's not fishy, but does smell slightly of a woodland pond. The vetiver is mentholated, with the sharpness of eucalyptus and pine, hints of wood chips, chocolate, dijon mustard, and earthy animalics, while a round, abstract floral essential oil smell hovers around the buzzing woodland vetiver.

I've really been enjoying these Persephenie vetiver attars. I'm sure part of it is that I like vetiver enough to enjoy it mixed with all sorts of other things, but Persephenie deserves a lot of credit for how perfectly matched the elements are. Very nice.
27th April, 2017

Follow by Kerosene

That A*Men Pure Coffee/New Haarlem mix of coffee, lavender, burnt caramel patchouli, and tonka, rearranged so that the roasted coffee smell is very strong and upfront.

This has massive longevity, but that comes at a cost - the changes in smell come so slowly that Follow feels kind of linear and simple as it slowly trudges from coffee and caramel to just caramel to tonka over the course of 24 hours or so. There's also a weird green note in there (I'm guessing fennel because it reminds me of onions) that I assume is an attempt to break up the sweetness, but that I find more sickly than artful.

In all, I like Follow for its upfront coffee explosion, but not for its greens. I feel like this is a work from someone capable of greatness, but this isn't great, though it's close and it's aim is good. Ultimately, Follow gets a neutral but I'm very much looking forward to getting to know more of the Kerosene line.
27th April, 2017

Tuberose Vetiver Attar by Persephenie

I get the feeling that a lot of work went in to getting the balance perfect in this seemingly simple combination. Tuberose can be a screaming diva, and vetiver can slice through lesser smells like a rusty butcher knife. With that, I'm very impressed at how perfectly Persephenie manages to mix them.

The tuberose adds a vegetable quality to the vetiver, giving it the feel of earthy lettuce with a pinch of lemon verbena. Meanwhile, the vetiver tones down the tuberose, creating the sensation of flowers wafting on a Hawaiian breeze instead of the Fracas-esque floral bludgeon I expect from the note. I'm not sure how many perfumistas love both vetiver and tuberose, but if you have an affinity for either, I'd suggest this is definitely worth a sniff.
27th April, 2017

Lumberjack Man by Esscentual Alchemy

As I've reached the end of my Esscentual Alchemy sample pack, it feels like they have a house base that I can best describe as animalic dirt. It's not mulchy forest dirt or grassy yard dirt, but something much more animalic, like maybe zoo dirt. It does different things in their different perfumes - adding darkness to their vanilla, adding messiness to flowers, and grit to their patchouli, but it's here in Lumberjack Man that it's best put to use.

Lumberjack Man smells like a really good natural oud, mixed with incense and saffron and leathery woods, while that animalic dirt smell adds gorgeous complexity. Given time, it goes through a burnt-wood-chips-and-rubber phase before ending up as a mix of of sharp green incense and creamy frankincense, finally drying down to a subtle, lasting oud.

I've long held that the best natural perfumes pick a beautiful raw material (in this case a great oud) and carefully add just enough support to allow it to shine. Lumberjack Man is a great example of this. Enthusiastic thumbs up!
26th April, 2017

Autumn Spice by Esscentual Alchemy

A nice, natural patchouli blend. It goes on complex - mentholated and flowery sweet with cinnamon and herbs orbiting around the patchouli. Given time, it settles down, leaving a nice dry patchouli with hints of cinnamon and clove on top and incense beneath. I could personally have done without the clanging opening theatrics, but I get how they're required in order for the good stuff to happen later. Overall, a worthy sniff for patchouli fans.
26th April, 2017

Vanilla Citron by Esscentual Alchemy

A brief explosion of orange creamsicle, creme soda, and root beer, quickly overtaken by a rather sinister animalic earthy pungency, ending up smelling like a very dirty bathroom sprayed with vanilla air freshener.

I'm intrigued by the idea of a sinister animalic gourmand, but in a world occupied by Musc Ravageur and Shalimar, I just can't imagine ever picking this over them.
25th April, 2017

Little Black Dress by Esscentual Alchemy

Sort of fruity and sort of floral with an earthy darkness underneath and a mentholated quality up top. For a moment, I can imagine the elderflower and jasmine, but it all quickly melts together into a pleasant essential oil sludge. I would have loved to smell that elderflower/jasmine combination with less distraction, but as is, this just isn't the kind of natural perfume I enjoy.
25th April, 2017

Angelic Realm by Natalchemy

Angelic Realm is, from what I can gather from the verbiage on my sample, either a tribute to or meant to be worn on lady parts. Full disclosure: being devoid of lady parts, I have worn it on my arm.

It goes on like one of those natural perfumes where a bunch of florals and fruits and stuff all come together to smell like a fruity, highly concentrated cleaning agent. There's a strong cherry lollipop smell at the core, but there are minty and herbal elements that give it that vibe of mopping liquid. Thankfully, it rather quickly sorts itself out into a smell reminiscent of black cherry soda, which is eventually joined by a polite tobacco leaf and warm vanilla. The combination of cherry, tobacco, and vanilla is what I smell for most of the day, and it's quite nice. Hours in, as the cherry fades away, it takes on a rather commercial pink pepper base smell.

I'm voting neutral, because I wish it had been content to start with the cherry/tobacco mix instead of throwing in those herbs, which I think did more damage than good, but even given all that, this is one of the best amateur perfumes I've smelled in ages.
25th April, 2017

Moon Valley by Esscentual Alchemy

Goes on with a fantastic real jasmine and fades to syrupy licorice, with most of the action happening as the two interact during the transformation. The whole thing only lasts about an hour, so I wonder if this may be an early work that lacks some sort of fixative. Despite the serious longevity issues, I could never give a full-on thumbs down to anything with a jasmine that beautiful, so I'll vote neutral.
24th April, 2017

1681 by Carthusia

Frosty, chalky, carrot-tinged iris evenly paired with dusty rosewood, supported by lettuce-smelling vetiver and what I'm guessing is a spiced 60's musk, with a pinch of ionone violets. The result is a bit weird. The chalky and dusty qualities played against sour vegetable elements is quite odd.

Somehow, 1681 smells bemused, as if it were perfectly content in its little bottle and is now vaguely annoyed that I've come along demanding to sniff it. I'm always impressed when a perfume is able to convey a complex emotion, so I HAVE to vote thumbs up, but with the caveat that I haven't really enjoyed wearing 1681, as its off-putting dusty coldness just hasn't won me over, and intentionally doesn't seem to be trying to.
23rd April, 2017

Maiko by Natalchemy

Maiko goes on complex, with a burst of floral mentholated cherry cough syrup over sharp, spicy resins and piquant green vetiver. The cherry is fun and immature - I could see a lot of people loving it, though I prefer Maiko's later stages, when the minty fruit fades and the focus shifts to the resins and vetiver over quiet vanilla.

This smells very much like an essential oil blend, but is executed well, with better longevity than most, and only a pinch of that essential oil pet store undertone. I personally don't care much for the mentholated candy cherry, so I'm voting neutral, but natural perfume fanatics will likely enjoy Maiko quite a bit.
23rd April, 2017

Monsieur. by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Decent patchouli. There's also a grassy, piquant vetiver in there doing a lot of the heavy lifting as well. A pinch of lemongrass adds brightness at first, before a sour bergamot takes over and adds that touch of mold you get in some patchouli perfumes. There's also a bit of that "woody amber" aromachemical that smells kind of like ammonia, which I generally detest but isn't too awful here, though I question what it could possibly be contributing that couldn't have been achieved with birch tar or saffron or some less-cheap dark component. After a few hours, a slight chocolate undertone arrives once the bergamot fades.

All in all, I prefer dirty, earthy, woody patchoulis more than this sour mouldering kind, but the use of vetiver is clever. All in all, a neutral rating. Anything with that ammonia smell is automatically disqualified from getting a thumbs up.
21st April, 2017

Hina Vetiver Attar by Persephenie

This kicks off with the most brilliantly unexpected mixes of smells I've ever encountered in a perfume. Somehow, it smells like spicy Chinese mustard (the kind served with Dim Sum) mixed with vetiver. I know this sounds kind of shrill and nasty, but somehow the combination works amazingly well - it's utterly compelling and kept my nose glued to my arm.

Given time, the mustard smell moved to the background as the hina flower came forward. I'm unfamiliar with hina, but gauged by this, it smells like slightly soapy, floral, cherry lollipops. The mix of cherry candy and vetiver is a little strained, not terrible but not wonderful either. That aside, this is still worth sniffing if you can (it seems to be discontinued) for the crazy hot mustard vetiver explosion at the start.
21st April, 2017