Reviews by rogalal


Soleil de Jeddeh by Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777

Soleil goes on with tomato leaf, complete with its weird bile undertone, as well as blackcurrant bud, with its cat pee undertone, so the first half an hour or so really smells awful. Under all that nastiness, there's a green-inflected fruity smell, like peach (yes, that overused Calyx peach) and berries with green leaves, but the gross pee and vomit is really the focus of the scent for a while.

Given time, the awfulness fades a bit and I'm left with sweet woods and cheap artificial fruit, with the gross undertones living on as a quiet hum of yuck in the background.

If this had started off so ugly and blossomed into something wonderful, I may not have liked it, but I would have respected it and seen the artistry in it, but this kind of feels like a failed attempt at niche-by-numbers that just doesn't really land.
13th May, 2015

Les Echappées - Inlé by Memo

Oh dear. It's that Calyx/Victoria's Secret peach AGAIN. There's a pinch of mint on top trying to class things up, and the base is generic soap instead of marshmallows, but as much as they call this osmanthus and claim it has precious jasmine oils in it, this just doesn't smell expensive or rare or anything other than common.
12th May, 2015

Acqua di Parma Colonia Ambra by Acqua di Parma

This just smells cheap, like a discounted Hugo Boss scent or something in that vein. That being said, if you're into mass market aquatics, Ambra isn't bad. It smells like a swimming pool mixed with sharp woody chemicals and something vaguely leathery. And it's got those "grape drink" topnotes that all the mall scents use, so it's relentlessly sweet even through the sharp woods and dark elements.

I feel like I've tried enough scents to have a basic idea what a $220 perfume should smell like - a combination of expensive ingredients and artful originality - and Ambra fails that test categorically. But for fans of dark sweet aquatics and bleachy "woody ambers", this could still have the makings of a favorite.
10th May, 2015

Eau du Soir by Sisley

I've loved sniffing Eau de Soir at the stores for years now and *finally* got my hands on a sample. And now that I've worn it all day, I'm so disappointed...

At its core, it smells like a late-70's green chypre along the lines of No 19, but masculinized with mint and lavender. This is the part I love and that has attracted me for years. Unfortunately, there's also a weirdly mismatched too-sweet fake citrus paired with some plasticky rose that all just sticks out like a sore thumb. It's like a fantastic perfume layered with the cheapest, most fake-smelling fruity floral I can imagine.

It's certainly not terrible, though I'm not going to go so far as to say that it's "good" either. I guess my final point is that there are fantastic classic green chypres that are plentiful and inexpensive, so I don't really see the need for an expensive messy one.
10th May, 2015

Forbidden Games by By Kilian

Forbidden Games is basically, to me, a fruity floral wrapped snugly in a fuzzy blanket of powdery pink pepper and marshmallow vanilla. It's also got mint on top because, apparently, since Florabotanica came out, expensive fruity florals all have to have mint on top now.

Not terrible, but really derivative and unnecessary. I think this whole Kilian party girl collection is all about selling cute clutch purses and they intentionally dumbed down the perfumes themselves in order to appeal to a Las Vegas tourist customer base. Meh.
04th May, 2015

Flower of Immortality by By Kilian

It's that Calyx/Victoria's Secret peach that's in everything, this time paired with the wild juiciness of Byredo's Pulp. It's a bit derivative, but not bad. Then, that pink pepper/patchouli mix that's also in everything wells up underneath. It's only a pleasant soapy, powdery base (instead of the marshmallow vanilla you'd expect from something like this) that saves it from being completely pointless.

It's not that Flower Of Immortality is bad, it's just that it's so precision-engineered to smell unremarkable that I just can't get onboard. Though, to be fair, I may be judging it especially harshly because Kilian used to make such interesting, unique scents that this feels like a desperate money grab coming from them.
02nd May, 2015

Crave by Calvin Klein

After 5 seconds of those same windex + grape drink topnotes you smell in everything, it quickly settles down to salty basil and overheating plastic sitting next to a swimming pool, but with a strange out-of-phase citric quality to the plastic smell.

By focusing on basil instead of dumb fruit, it hints at a smartness missing from your average aquatic, but then it blows everything by drying down to a toxic mix of ginger and bleach. It kind of makes me think that someone at Calvin Klein called for a scent "like Acqua di Gio, but more mainstream". Meh - there's nothing noteworthy here unless you just want to smell like every other interchangeable men's scent that comes and goes at Macy's.
01st May, 2015

Scherrer 2 by Jean-Louis Scherrer

This stuff is fantastic, a really nice aldehydic floral chypre in the vein of Chanel No 5 or Joy. Samples of the EDT are cheap and plentiful and that's what I've been wearing, though if there was ever an extrait, I bet it was mindblowing.

It kicks off with champagne aldehydes similar in tone to No 5, but with more bright citrus, nice jasmine, and rose filling it out. There's a touch of civet for luxurious depth, but not as much as Joy. What Scherrer 2 brings to the table is a confident, beautiful sweetness that never smells cheap, and a perfectly balanced green edge running behind everything, keeping the whole smell quite deeply faceted.
01st May, 2015

Ellen Tracy (original) by Ellen Tracy

A big, loud 80's shoulder-pad-wearing monster, though it seems it was released a little late. It's got that Calyx peach and a ton of sneezy powder with hints of strawberry and some greens in the background. Given time, it dries down to soapy greens, but still sweet from the peach. If this weren't so loud, it would be mediocre but wearable, but with the volume ratcheted up to 11, it just amplifies the fact that this simply isn't the classy chypre it wants to be.
30th April, 2015

Interlude Man by Amouage

On me, Interlude man is dominated by a mix of smoky frankincense and lightly dusty oak, made quite sweet with a pinch of red cedar. There's a thick base of what I think is mostly ambrox and iso e super, with swirls of sweet amber and chocolate, which is concentrated enough to lend richness from the start of the scent, which is good for a perfume of this price.

Smoky iso e super incense and woods have been done a LOT - even Amouage itself has the superior Jubilation XXV - so the appeal of Interlude Man comes down to the clever juxtaposition of sweet woods and chocolate. I personally don't like the combination very much, but I can see how this could easily be grail material for people who fall in love with its cleverness.
25th April, 2015

La Chasse Aux Papillons Extrême by L'Artisan Parfumeur

In the interest of honesty, I should admit that I think the original Chasse Aux Papillons is one of the world's best perfumes, so I think I tend to judge Extreme a bit too harshly, just because it's a flanker to something that was already pretty much perfect.

With that, what does Extreme smell like? Well, it's got that same wonderful mix of natural-smelling jasmine and orange blossom, but paired with the smell of a freshly sawed plywood board. Given time, the slightly dusty, vaguely chemical-treated wood smell fades to a buttery smudge of sandalwood, which I think actually pairs quite well with the flowers.

To be honest, in the genre of niche woody florals, Extreme is actually pretty good, hence the thumbs up. But it's certainly not going to win me away from the original...
23rd April, 2015

Fraîche Passiflore by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier

So, I bought a bottle of this quite a while ago back when I was into really obvious fruity scents. Then, I decided I didn't like it and didn't wear it for years. Then I wore it again today and now I kind of like it again, sort of.

To me, it smells like a perfect tart green apple when first sprayed. Then it sort of deteriorates. The apple quality remains, but it gets salty and weirdly pulpy, while the brightness somehow becomes disengaged, a weird sort of chemical sheen that's no longer part of the apple. Then the tomato leaf comes in, quiet but carrying its bile note loudly enough to make things a bit gross.

In the end, I like the apple, but don't like the deterioration or the hint of vomit or the unflinching fruity linearity, though I think my complaints are petty enough that I can imagine other fruit-frag fans quite enjoying this.
22nd April, 2015

L'Eau du Caporal by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Oh, dear. I'm not sure why they chose the resurrect this one. Mint and wintergreen over that 90's "marine" "seaweed" smell, leading to a mix of herbs and pie spices over vanilla. It's like someone spit out their mouthwash in a Bath And Body Works in 1995. And then they ate salty vanilla pudding in that same Bath And Body Works. *shudder*

I can see how this earns some points for smelling so 90's back in the 80's, but that's not keeping me from smelling like mouthwash, bad pudding, and cheap hair gel...
19th April, 2015

La Chasse Aux Papillons by L'Artisan Parfumeur

What I like best about La Chasse Aux Papillons is that it smells like a breeze wafting off some perfect spring garden. I know that so many perfumes claim this that it's a bit of a tired cliche, but of the hundreds that do, only a select few actually pull it off, and I think Chasse is the best of those few.

It's one of those perfumes that smells quite simple (mostly jasmine and orange blossom with some sort of orange-smelling resin underneath giving just a slight shot of piquancy), and as such tends to fly under the radar, but I'm convinced that this is one of the world's great perfumes. Just spritz on a little, and marvel as you spend the whole day wondering what nearby flower is making that amazing smell, and then realizing it's you!
15th April, 2015

Al Oudh by L'Artisan Parfumeur

On me, Al Oudh is largely a mix of that really dusty oak note that L'Artisan uses a lot, with a bunch of sweaty cumin. There's also that classic attar fusion that happens when rose, sandalwood, patchouli, and oud mix. That smell runs in the background as well. I kind of like the way the attar elements mix with the oak, but I just don't like scents that use really strong cumin - I just don't want my perfume to smell like "interesting" sweat. That being said, if you can wear Declaration, you can easily pull this off. But, I'm afraid the best I can rate this is a neutral...
14th April, 2015

Mûre et Musc Extrême by L'Artisan Parfumeur

As much as I loathe dumb fruity florals, I can't help but love the berry smell in Mure et Musc. I think the original version (which is basically a classic chypre with berries mixed in) is probably more wearable than the Extreme, with its weird rubbery smell. To be honest, I've been trying to fall in love with Mure et Musc Extreme since buying a bottle as a newbie years ago. Smelled up close, that weird rubber doll smell is just so odd, but to steal a phrase from Robin's review, "it sort of sinks in and mixes with my skin" and smells amazing in its sillage. As I've learned not to overthink it, I've come to really enjoy Extreme, so I'd definitely suggest giving it a try, though don't skip over the original version before you make your choice.
14th April, 2015

Santos by Cartier

I'm not really enjoying this one. It kicks off with a fairly standard woody chypre smell, but drenched in nutmeg. Given a few minutes, it dies down to hay-ish tobacco with a buzz of very chemical-smelling lavender on top. Eventually, as the lavender sharpness fades, I'm left with the smell of lumber mixed with old newspapers. Finally, a very oily, almost gasoline-smelling chypre base comes in.

Aside from the topnotes, I just haven't found Santos very pleasant. That buzzing fake lavender and the gasoline fumes are bad enough, but when fuzed with nutmeg, they take on a weird quality, like something delicious that's been laced with poison. I don't know how else to describe it - I just don't like it.
13th April, 2015

Déclaration Eau Genereuse by Cartier

This is a really hard smell to describe - it implies simplicity but is actually quite complex. At its heart, it's lemony green tea over sweaty cumin, but that's only about 50% of what I'm smelling. The other 50% is a pleasant stew of chemicals that hints at soap and citric brightness, but without smelling specific enough to be described in terms of the normal touchstones. It's kind of like a body smell, but doesn't smell natural.

All in all, I like it but don't love it. In terms of sheer artistry, I prefer the original Declaration, though I don't like wearing the original because of all that dirtiness. Eau Genereuse is quite a bit more wearable, but the sweaty body element is still there enough to keep it from really working as a bright clean Spring scent.
12th April, 2015

Green Irish Tweed by Creed

After all these years, I still just don't "get" Green Irish Tweed. What is it supposed to smell like? A bucket of melted plastic at the beach? Lemon juice mixed with shea butter? Weird-smelling leaves dipped in metal?

Whatever it is, it's much richer and substantial than pretty much any other aquatic, though I've never thought it smelled particularly good or understood how people smell this and think it smells "classy". I don't hate it, but I don't particularly like it either.

I keep waiting to have an "a-ha" moment where something falls into place and I realize how brilliant Green Irish Tweed is, but it's just not happening. Oh well.
09th April, 2015

Sexual Healing by Mark Buxton

I've really enjoyed this one. To me, it's a bit of a juxtaposition of textures. On one hand, there's a rich, creamy base that's potent enough to shine from the start. It features a 70's "sexy" musk and a big shot of ambrox flavored with vanilla and chocolate, but kept from being gourmand by sandalwood and soap. On the other hand, on top of this thick, inedible pudding is a stew of fruits and flowers and woods, hinting at citrus with roses and jasmine, but artificial and "perfumey" enough to never feel very specific.

On me, it takes a little time to warm up, smelling pleasant and maybe a bit complicated at first, before melting together into something beautiful. I like that Sexual Healing takes a retro-smelling musk and makes it thoroughly modern. And I also like the rick thickness of the smell, even though it doesn't seem to be especially highly concentrated. Thumbs up!
06th April, 2015

Bois d'Ombrie by Eau d'Italie

I really love this smell, though to be honest, even though I bought a bottle years ago, I hardly ever wear it.

Imagine a big pot full of bell peppers, redwood bark, and red wine, with black pepper and maybe some cloves for spice. Then, fill the pot with vinegar and bring it to a boil. While it's heating up, burn some frankincense and myrrh. As the smoke from the incense fuses with the almost caustic vinegar steam, that's what Bois d'Ombrie smells like to me. I think it's a brilliant smell, simultaneously woody and vegetal and spicy, but always drenched in vinegar, though I can see how it could be extremely off-putting as well.
06th April, 2015

Jasmin Impératrice Eugénie by Creed

Hairspray aldehydes with rose and jasmine over sandalwood, ambrox, and a full chypre structure. The florals smell more like grandma's fancy guest soap than realistic flowers, but the sawdust-smelling sandalwood and the sour greens of the chypre ingredients keep this more masculine than you'd think, especially when smelled up close. In a way, it's like Bois du Portugal with flowery soap instead of BDP's fusty bergamot and hawthorn.

All in all, I'll give Jasmin Impératrice Eugénie a qualified thumbs up - I think it's nice in the way an old perfume smells nice, but the chypre elements give it an unbalanced bitterness that's a little jagged played against the round, soapy florals. And I've never been a big fan of hairspray aldehydes. But I still think this is fun and worth trying.
22nd March, 2015

Tuscan Scent Golden Acacia by Salvatore Ferragamo

Like the other "premium" designers, Feragamo has not only an "exclusive" line, but a "really exclusive" line above that. Golden Acacia is from their "really exclusive" $250-a-bottle line.

So what does it smell like? Are you familiar with bitter Italian honeys like chesnut or corbezzolo honey? Instead of being sweet, they're bitter and acerbic and smell kind of burnt. They taste great paired with the right cheeses, but are pretty difficult to love on their own, even though they smell really interesting. That's what Golden Acacia smells like to me - bitter, acerbic, burnt honey topped with vague white flowers. It's fairly true to the smell of acacia flowers with their weird burnt honey and wood smell, and also reminds me of the similar smell of cherry blossoms.

It's worth noting that the most important thing about Golden Acacia is how much it doesn't smell like anything else Ferragamo would do. It smells like it's dominated by a really high concentration of natural oils, to the point where, had I smelled it blind, I would have assumed it was by someone like Dawn Spencer Hurwitz and definitely not by a mall brand. Thumbs up for quality ingredients and for doing something that's actually "niche-smelling" in their exclusive line. My only warning is that it's quite linear and if you don't like that burnt bitter honey smell, it's not going anywhere for quite a while...
21st March, 2015

Jardins d'Amalfi by Creed

The best description I have for Jardins d'Amalfi is that it smells very Creed. It's got really great citrus topnotes that fade into that "open canister of Tang over a smudge of salty Ambrox for richness" smell that Creed defaults to when they're not feeling especially groundbreaking. Oh, and don't let the vaguely feminine name fool you - while this has hints of flowers and a touch of peach, this is very much a citrus scent that's fully unisex.

Really, this mostly just smells like "Creed." Fanatics will probably love Jardin d'Amalfi, while those not already swayed by Creed's large existing selection of aquatic citruses will likely not be swayed, though the opening notes really are lovely.

As for me, I'm not a big fan of artificial-smelling citruses or aquatics, and this lacks the richness of scents like M.I., where the luxury of the concentration makes up for the artificial quality.
20th March, 2015

Paul Smith Man by Paul Smith

A strange sort of smell, Paul Smith Man reminds me of what you'd get if you tried to create an artistic expression of wood by mixing grape drink, nutmeg, sage leaves, patchouli, chemically treated fiberboard, and a touch of bleach. It's really odd, but it doesn't smell bad.

Mixes of similar notes are extremely common and often fail because they play up the bleachy smell, trying to be "aquatic", but Paul Smith man leaves the bleach in the background enough that it lends a sense of artificiality in an artistic way, as opposed to just smelling common.

This sort of reminds me of the nuttiness of Kenneth Cole Black, but Man is more woody and way less bleachy. It definitely does smell like a mall scent, just one that uses the usual elements with more skill than its brethren.
20th March, 2015

Iris Poudre by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Probably my favorite of the Frederic Malle line. Iris Poudre hits the skin with a decent version of Chanel No. 5's powdery lemon champagne aldehydes, played out over a complex mix of flowers that kind of reminds me of Giorgio's infamous candied baby aspirin smell, but spiced with peppery carnation and laid out on a bed of smooth iris. It smells gorgeous, and dries down to a mix of iris and galbanum that's quite nice as well.

I've taken so long to review Iris Poudre because there's just something thin about it. It smells like one of the world's great perfumes, but watered down. It lasts all day, but is always faint and non-projecting. This is the kind of perfume that could be a Amoage-style luxury bomb as an EDP or the height of richness as an extrait, but instead it's just a dull hum at its chosen concentration. Malle has said that he released this as his first perfume because it has so many expensive ingredients that he know no one could copy it. Maybe that's why it's weakly concentrated - anything more would make a bottle cost too much. Anyway, I think Iris Poudre is a must try, though don't expect to be blown away just because it's so quiet. Maybe some day Malle will introduce a parfum...
20th March, 2015

Bronze by Ellen Tracy

What does Bronze smell like? Surprisingly unique and not easy to describe. It's a complex smell that seems to rely mostly on almond-ish heliotrope, iris, and white soap coming together to form a cohesive smell that's sort of nutty, sort of like flour, and yet rich and perfumey from the iris. There are vague hints of fruit in there, as well as a smell of freshly grated nutmeg and ginger in the heart. There's a chocolate undertone later on, and it ends on a bed of soft vanilla.

I don't really have a comparison to make. The mix of iris and chocolate may make some imagine of Dior Homme, but the almond heliotrope small makes this completely different. Heliotrope mixed with vanilla usually makes me think of loukhoum scents, but the iris and the spices make sure this doesn't smell gourmand. It kind of reminds me of Malle's L'eau d'Hiver, but it's less floral and less spicy, which leads to my one complaint: Bronze is not really compelling. It's a good scent, but it hasn't worked very hard to win me over despite being completely wearable and smart, even when it should have been fairly easy. Anyway, it's still a thumbs up, definitely.
18th March, 2015

Tralala by Penhaligon's

I thought it would be impossible to create a perfume as off-putting as that horrifying bottle, but I think Duchoufour has done it!

It goes on strong. If I try really hard, I can pick out some of the listed notes. but it all comes together to smell like gasoline-tainted coumarin on me. I definitely get ClaireV's "nut meal" reference, and I should admit that, while walking around town, I kept thinking I was smelling someone slicing wet potatoes, but it was Tralala. All that being said, there's a very human animalic smell to this, like dried up sperm on REALLY filthy sheets, and it's bothering me quite a bit. If you've ever gotten the "S" note in Le Male, here it is in all its glory, made sort of gasoline-ish by the saffron and weirdly sweetened with boozy cherries and violets.

Given time, it settles into the smell of a mildewed cardboard box, with a vague cherry and flower undertone. I don't even have the patience to wait for the base. I already know this is a thumbs down and there's really nothing that can save this for me.
16th March, 2015

Inspire by Ellen Tracy

Meh. It starts off with that peach topnote that's in EVERYTHING, and then fades down to peachy rose. There's a bit of something green, but not enough to really interest me.

I guess this came out before the explosion of fruity florals redefined what "cheap" smells like, and it's been around long enough that its use of that peach was more of a Calyx/Victoria's Secret copy than an attempt to smell like every other mall perfume, but here in 2015, this just smells like all the women at the office who don't care about perfume.
10th March, 2015

Corazon Blanco by Mario Tomas

Corazon Blanco goes through an awful lot of interesting twists and turns. It starts off as a gourmand, a blast of caramelized patchouli and cocoa with sweet condensed milk underneath and a sparkly soda smell on top that reminds me of Inka Cola, with its fizzy bubble gum.

Comparisons to Angel are inevitable (Corazon Blanco is simultaneously more flowery and darker from the chocolate, and the aldehydes give it an eggy thickness). It also reminds me of the odd but pleasant chocolate/soda combination in Jo Malone's Blue Agave & Cocoa.

I'm not much of a gourmand fan, so Corazon Blanco was in danger of losing me, but then I started smelling banana sillage and realized that the scent had transformed into a deep ylang ylang, supported by cinnamon and other florals. By the end of the day, all this had somehow faded to a perfect buttery shortbread cookie smell.

I should say that Mario Gomez is a huge friend of the SF perfume community and a really nice guy. I would have had a hard time giving this a bad review, even if he clearly has much more of a sweet tooth than me, but he totally won me over with the clever transitions and how much ground he managed to cover. Seriously, caramel and soda and cocoa to bananas and ylang to a perfect cookie smell?
08th March, 2015