Perfume Reviews

Reviews by rogalal

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Total Reviews: 675

Aqua Allegoria Limon Verde by Guerlain

Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from this, but it's actually quite nice. It kicks off with a unique mix of lemons and greens paired against warm almonds and a hint of powder. The mix of fresh and warm doesn't feel like it should work, but it's rather perfect.

Given time, more greens come to the fore, until it gives the illusion of fresh fennel fronds and figs, mixed with a hint of buttery French baked goods.

All in all, I quite like Limon Verde. It's simple, in a way, though all the parts fit together perfectly.
08th September, 2016

Dans La Peau by Louis Vuitton

Dans Le Peau isn't the leather it promises, but it's definitely floral. It smells of jasmine, but the rest of the scent is more of an abstract sweet fruity woody chemical haze than anything specific or leathery. Instead, it's just pleasant aromachemicals swirling around jasmine. If pushed, I smell raspberry and a pinch of violet and a bit of soap, but it's all so artificial that naming notes doesn't really do anything to describe the smell. Eventually, given a few hours, it dries down to that ubiquitous strawberry shampoo smell in its base.

It's weird - One of the salespeople for the launch of this line is a facebook friend and he's posted all sorts of photos of himself being trained around the world, visiting the farms that source the ingredients for this line. LVMH is truly trying to make an important statement here, but I just feel like it's getting lost.

Jacques Cavallier, the nose, is kind of a weird choice for a dramatic set of statement perfumes, because his expertise is in popular, pleasant, inoffensive chemical stews like L'Eau d'Issey, not highbrow luxe art pieces. And so we're left with something that smells kind of like someone added a blob of expensive jasmine to a cheap mall perfume. Meh.
08th September, 2016

Orange Blossom by Penhaligon's

I don't think I could ever truly dislike an orange blossom perfume. The raw material is so glorious that it's pretty hard to mess it up.

In this Penhaligon's version of the classic recipe, the orange blossom is there, smelling amazing, topped with a traditional eau mix of orange and bergamot and kitchen herbs, while a honeyed petitgrain creates a burnished wood smell that's strong enough to outshine the orange blossom.

When faced with a well-worn mix like this, I have to ask what Penhaligon's does to make it different, and I think it's that burnished wood. It makes this more masculine than your typical orange blossom perfume. I can see how that may be a draw, but it's not my taste - I prefer my orange blossom florid and upfront. I'm still voting thumbs up, but this isn't my personal favorite.
16th August, 2016
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Orchid Soleil by Tom Ford

Orchid Soleil goes on as an explosively skanky floral - mostly just filthy indoles spewing out over tuberose. It's a shocking intro, especially for a mass-market scent, with its loud buttery dead flowers and sickly corpse odors.

However, given about a half an hour, a big creamy ylang note comes in and the whole thing becomes hauntingly beautiful. The skank settles into a woody undertone, and the tuberose and ylang mix with that pink jasmine that smells like banana to create a rather stunning tropical floral, while a subtle vanilla mixes with hints of chocolate milk to form a deliciously creamy base.

Honestly, I think the topnotes will scare a LOT of people away from Orchid Soleil, but I rather like their insanity, and the sunny floral over creamy notes that follows is really well done. I'm voting thumbs up, but with the caveat that this is not likely to be a crowd pleaser.
15th August, 2016

Acqua di Parma Colonia Club by Acqua di Parma

I don't think Colonia Club is nearly as bad as the other folks here. It's basically a mix of neroli and vetiver, putting it in the same grassy-green-floral genre as Mugler Cologne or Creed's Original Vetiver. But it adds in melon and lily, which give it more of an early-2000's aquatic feel. But then it's also got some lavender or bergamot or something else in there that gives it a bit of a classic vibe as well.

I personally like the combination. It reminds me of Caswell Massey's Greenbriar, one of my early favorites.
15th August, 2016

Eau de Cologne by Geo F Trumper

Perfectly nice, traditional eau de cologne. It goes on citrusy with a strong petitgrain backbone, while green basil gives it some heft. Meanwhile, there's orange blossom, but it's so laden with honey and burnished woods that it ends up smelling more like acacia or hawthorn. The whole thing peters out after a few hours, with no real basenotes to carry it further, but that's typical of the genre, so it's not a complaint.

As for what makes Trumper's Eau stand out from the many others available, I like the acacia feel, with its upfront woody smell - I find this more masculine and a bit darker than most eau's, yet still bright enough to fully satisfy as a citrus scent. Nice.
11th August, 2016

Wild Fern by Geo F Trumper

Trying to wrap my head around this... It's a very old-fashioned smell, familiar but dated. There's a lot of lavender, but it doesn't really smell like lavender. Instead, it mixes with moss and mint and what I'm guessing is basil and tarragon and violet leaf to form a cohesive smell that's sort of green and leafy. But the whole thing is so drenched in white musk that it smells like scented soap more than a proper perfume.

This is pretty much the dictionary definition of a barbershop classic, though it really does bring to mind visions of a stuffy, old, fox hunting, conservative British jerk saying pompous things in a gentlemen's club somewhere back in 1910 or so. I don't know. I like Wild Fern's sense of history, but I'm just not sure I like its smell...
11th August, 2016

Royal Mayfair by Creed

I honestly think this is one of those Creeds that vacillates wildly depending on its batch, because my 2016 sample is largely tuberose, dark and stanky with a generous helping of indoles leading into vague woods. There's a big slug of what smells largely like bad breath in there as well.

I remember trying Windsor when it first came out, as well as Royal Mayfair when it first arrived, and don't recall the tuberose being so drastic.

So, um, what do I think? I kind of like it, but think that Creed's own Gardenia does this filthy tuberose idea with much more panache and balance. That being said, this version of Royal Mayfair is like a mysterious rabbit hole of filth - why does it smell nothing like the notes? Why is it so different? I find it worth sniffing just to follow the mystery. And I love that a company that could easily just barf out Aventus flankers takes the time to challenge its fans with perfumes like this. But I'm still only voting neutral...
09th August, 2016

Scent No. 8 - Aldehydic Oakmoss by Cognoscenti

Honestly, at first I just thought No. 8 was weird, but it ended up winning me over unexpectedly after a few wears.

So what does it smell like? Not what I expected. I figured it would be a big aldehydic chyrpre, but that's not it. Instead, the aldehydes are like a disengaged chemical sparkle, like the smell of hot electrical wires. In the meantime, there's a weird leathery rubbery smell that reminds me of new sneakers. There's a bit of green oakmoss in the background, but it just adds a surreal molten greenness to the overwhelming artifice.

Then, somehow, this all dries down into a warm, creamy hazelnut pudding that's just gorgeous and edible and not at all like sizzling wires or shoes.

And now I love it. The crazy electricy and sneaker smell has utterly captivated me, and I'm rather obsessed with the creamy hazelnut as well. Definitely worth a sniff!
09th August, 2016

Gardenia by Penhaligon's

This is one of those perfumes that says it's gardenia, but is actually tuberose. That being said, it's a fun, pleasant tuberose.

It starts with jasmine, hinting at grape sweetness, mixed with creamy, wonderful ylang and heady indoles while the tuberose grows from the background into the star of the show. Unfortunately, this all ends up drying down to a cheap, peachy smudge.

All in all, this is fine. The mix of jasmine and ylang is quite well done, but I can't help but feel like there are better big florals out there. Neutral, but leaning towards a thumbs up...
09th August, 2016

Cadavre Exquis by Bruno Fazzolari

Interesting, but nowhere near the monster I expected. Instead, it's kind of a gross gourmand.

It's mostly a vanilla patchouli, caramelised and sweet like butterscotch candy. It's nutty and reminds me of peanut brittle. Meanwhile, there's an intentionally gross undercurrent, leathery and animal but never too nasty. I have friends here sniffing me and we've decided that it's like a mix of horse and candy. It's much nicer than I'm making it sound, though not as deeply compelling or avant garde as the idea behind it. Thumbs up, but with the caveat that it's not as crazy as the press has made it out to be.
07th August, 2016

Cafe Diem by PK Perfumes

Wow. This stuff is really good.

There's a backbone of clary sage and coriander that reminds me of X For Men, but made rich with cedar and frankincense, while a roasted coffee smell gives a dark uplift to everything. Over time, it fades to creamy frankincense and leathery, smoky burnt woods.

Smelled blind, I would have assumed this was a Clive Christian or a better-than-average Amouage. For those of you who scour these reviews looking for hidden inexpensive gems, this is definitely one. You can get a little bottle of Cafe Diem for under $20 and you can see I'm comparing it to $350 perfumes...

PS: I know I've said this about two PK Perfumes now - I swear I'm not affiliated! I'm just a new fan!
05th August, 2016

Zaffran by PK Perfumes

I really like this. The star of the show is leathery saffron, but there's a lot more happening. To my nose, there's a jammy rose/patchouli/berry accord in there adding sweet depth to the safforn, while there's also a sage/cardamom mix that gives hints of Clive Christian's X for Men in the background as well. This belongs in the same basic genre as Tom Ford's Tuscan Leather, in the sense that it's leathery but with a lot of complicated sweetness going on underneath, though Zaffran is saffron based instead of being based on quinoline like Tuscan Leather, and wears its sweet complexity closer to the surface.

The whole thing eventually dries down to a complicated, lightly sweet, leathery wood base with hints of oud fecundity.

All told, Zaffran is great. It smells original without being unwearably weird, and also smells MUCH more expensive than it is. I could walk into Barneys right now and smell a whole wall of $250 perfumes that aren't as good as Zaffran, and you can get a small bottle of this for less than $20. Highly recommended!
05th August, 2016
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Pentecost by PK Perfumes

Hmmmm... I smell a mix of grape juice and nose-tingling soapy white flowers over dark forest greens, with hints of mint and burning electric wires giving the whole thing a sense of oddness. The grape mixes with the dark elements to feel a bit jammy, while the juxtaposition of the bright pretty perfumey flowers and the gloomy darkness of the grape/green combo is what creates most of the interest.

This is the kind of scent perfectly sums up my thoughts on the current state of indie perfumes - it's better than many and includes genuinely original ideas. That being said, it's based on a fantastic story of roses raining down on a church, which I'm afraid it doesn't realize. It's loud concentration feels more like naiveté than elegance, but it's still interesting enough to very much be worth a sniff. Thumbs up for originality, but I'm not sure this is really what I want to smell like...
03rd August, 2016

Oud Luban by Aftelier

Oud Luban is probably my favorite of the Aftelier line. It's basically a mix of oud and citrus, which shouldn't work but does.

It's Aftelier, so the oud is real and very nice, like a campfire in a forest with hints of rubber. The citrus is perfectly balanced, giving a sense of lift and brightness to the dark deep woods, as well as a whiff of freshly squeezed orange juice. There are other greens in there as well, vaguely herbal but also smelling of nature, filling in the spaces with the scent of a place in a forest.

My only complaint is that there's a touch of "natural perfume smell", that weird pet store odor that I don't like in natural perfumes, but it's largely contained within the forest headspace, so I don't mind it as much here as I do in other perfumes. Thumbs up.
02nd August, 2016

Roberto Cavalli by Roberto Cavalli

Stripped of all the hype, it's really hard for me to get truly excited over a better-than-average fruity floral.

On me, Roberto Cavalli kicks off with raspberry and rose, eventually shifting into a mix of really indolic jasmine and tobacco. the tobacco/indole mix is quite interesting and would verge on gross, but the whole thing is drenched in so much laundry musk that it always smells like particularly interesting fabric softener.

If I were more inspired, I could make some sort of commentary about the yin/yang of clean and dirty, but to be completely honest, I find the fabric softener element more of a mainstream cliche and intentional dumbing down than an artful statement. All in all, meh.
02nd August, 2016

Sinner by Kat von D

Sinner kicks off with a fantastic blackberry jam smell that's probably the reason for its cult following and high eBay prices. There's patchouli under the jam, as well as a rubbery musk and some tobacco, as well as something kind of green, and it's all kind of inky and dark. It's hard to describe, but there's also a weird sort of chemical effusiveness to Sinner, like the whole thing is surrounded by a weird chemical haze that doesn't smell like anything up close, but that gives off sweet fruity sillage.

All in all, that blackberry jam note really is good, but that chemical haze is distracting, while everything else seems to think it's gothic and artful, but is in actuality just a corporate fruitchouli posing as punk. This belongs in the same genre as gothic froutchoulis like Tom Ford's Noir de Noir and CDG2, but lacks their wild ridiculousness. If Noir De Noir is goth goddess Siouxsie Sioux and CDG2 is anime horror porn, then Sinner is just Kat Von D, a manufactured reality TV pseudo-celebrity. It's not that Sinner is bad, it's just not the work of genre-defining punk art it tries to present itself as...
02nd August, 2016

Ageless Anti Age Perfume by Harvey Prince

This is the ad copy from my sample:

"Say goodbye to "old lady" rosy fragrances. Say hello to Ageless, the first anti-aging fragrance. Women all over the world are being captivated by the euphoric promise of Ageless, as research has proven that men perceive women who wear this scent to be at least 8 years younger."

Irony #1: It's really not that bad.

Irony #2: Despite the admonition of "old lady" rosy fragrances, it's a rose perfume.

So what does it smell like? One of those nice, fairly typical rose perfumes with peach and berries on top, buried in a lot of soap, with the soap making up most of the base. The carefully measured soap note goes a long way to cover up what are probably some fairly cheap fruit and flower smells, and the end result easily matches or surpasses the quality of many of the Rosine or A Dozen Roses perfumes I've tried (though it can't hold a candle to the truly great rose perfumes like Annick Goutal or a rose attar based on actual rose oils). Personally, I'd be embarrassed to have a bottle of this, and wouldn't want to support such crass marketing, but it's not bad...
02nd August, 2016

Allure Homme Edition Blanche by Chanel

I'm always a sucker for scents that combine sparkly ginger and citrus to create an effervescent soda effect. Unfortunately, Chanel buries this effect in a sludge of cheap aquatic aromachemicals that are ultimately the featured stars of this scent.

The soda effect is nice, but I'd recommend Kenzo's short-lived but vastly superior Eau Par Kenzo Pour Homme for a similar shot of refreshment. Meanwhile, Chanel's confusing drydown of fake citrus and disembodied sweetness mixed with cleaning products and swimming pool smells is completely not engaging to me, despite its popularity here. It's not that this is terrible, it's just that I feel like everything about it has been done better elsewhere. Or, more accurately, that there's a great perfume in here, unfortunately drowned in aquatic sludge.
02nd August, 2016

Mon Patchouly by Ramon Monegal

Essentially a nice patchouli perfume with a slug of those incredibly basic men's designer "grape drink" topnotes on top. Calling it jasmine is generous and potentially misleading: this is a patchouli designed to appeal to fans of mass market men's scents.

That being said, it works. I was REALLY ready to pan this, but somehow the blending is just perfect, and the fruity topnotes combine with the dry, grassy, herbal patchouli in a way that creates a comforting familiarity while also amplifying its complicated undertones. The whole thing dries down to a jammy, musky chocolate that I enjoyed way more than expected.

I usually hate expensive scents that use familiar designer topnotes to dumb themselves down, but this is a rare win - thumbs up!
02nd August, 2016

Navy by Dana

For the record, I'm wearing the cologne concentration, a vintage sample under the Cover Girl brand as opposed to Dana.

This is actually quite nice. It smells mostly of baby powder (like chalky benzoin) with hints of nondescript fruit and flowers making it sweet. The benzoin creates shades of amber in the base, and there are hints of 70's musk in there as well, but the star of the show is always the sweet baby powder smell.

Navy never smells cheap, but definitely smells dated. The idea of little girls smelling musky is certainly not the current fashion, but as a perfume for adults, Navy is quite fun and satisfying if you like pretty, powdery smells.
02nd August, 2016

Fleurs de Gardenia (new) by Creed

I really like this one - it's quite a thinker. You know how flowers smell beautiful, but there's always a little gross in there as well? Jasmine smells fantastic, but there's always that indolic smell of decay in the background. Lilies smell great, but there's a dirt smell in there as well. And gardenias smell fabulous, but also kind of like stinky cheese.

Imagine composing a perfume out of the ugly parts of flowers - all dirt and decay and stinky cheese. That's what Fleurs de Gardenia does. It then takes all that beautiful ugliness and spices it up with black pepper and a whiff of smoke and what smells like a hint of vetiver for piquancy and petitgrain to bring out the woodiness inherent in the weird ugly flowers. Meanwhile, a quiet milky tuberose hovers in the background, lending a quiet warmth that keeps things from getting too abstract and clinical.

The closest thing I've smelled to this is Jar's legendary Jardenia, but that's realism exaggerated into surreality, while Fleurs de Gardenia is a full deconstruction of what flowers mean in perfumery, too precise to be surreal.

Overall, the result is brilliant as a piece of art: flowers that don't smell floral, spice without smelling spicy, and smoke with no fire. Fleurs de Gardenia breaks down dichotomies. The overall smell is brutalist (peppery, woody, dirty rotting plants and cheese), but somehow wearable and *almost* beautiful. Thumbs way up - I wish this got more notice than it does...
26th July, 2016

Benjoin Bohème by Diptyque

I've enjoyed getting to know Benjoin Bohème. The first thing I smell is mastic, that kind of incense that smells like bright, lemony frankincense. The incense richness combines with upfront ambox while a nice, fuzzy benzoin amber rounds out the base. Meanwhile, the top has a subtle fizzing cola smell mixing with some sort of pollen-laden floral, perhaps honeysuckle or mimosa.

The end result is really interesting - the fizzing soda/flowers/lemon up top are a perfect foil to a complicated but comfortable base. The concentration is such that the base smells rich and upfront from first sniff.

I really like Benjoin Bohème. It exists in the genre of warm, creamy niche woody incense perfumes like 10 Corso Como, Bois d'Armenie, and LADDM, but expresses itself with a modernity (and yes, an artificiality) that sets it apart from its predecessors.
26th July, 2016

Eau Mage by Diptyque

Eau Mage has been interesting to wear. Though it doesn't smell like either, I'd put it in the same genre as TDH or Declaration, in the sense that it evokes a complex artificial landscape and then tries to ground it with commonplace smells that only serve to make it all the more surreal.

So what does it smell like? Well, it's got that creamy, upfront ambrox everyone mentions, mixing with iso e super smoke and pepper, while a weird cilantro suede fills in the cracks. Meanwhile, there's rose and fruit and cumin, which mixes with the smoke and cilantro to create a smell that I can best describe as "someone burning onion rings in the next room". Then, that cheap "wood amber" aquatic base that I hate comes in and ruins everything.

So, um... yeah. Burning onion rings and cilantro-laced suede perched on a beige pillow of chemical pleasantness. And then cheap aquatic garbage. And yes, somehow, I can't bear to give Eau Mage a thumbs down, just because it's trying so hard to be fine art that I can't just pan it as if it were just boring. So I'm voting neutral.
26th July, 2016

Mohur by Neela Vermeire

You know those cooking shows where people compete to make, say, the best gourmet hamburger, and they add a bunch of truffle and gold flakes and, in the end, they've made a really expensive hamburger, but it's still a hamburger? That's kind of how I feel about Mohur. All told, it's a fruitchouli. An expensive fruitchouli, but still a fruitchouli.

So what does it smell like? Well, it's that typical mix of rose and patchouli and berries that smells kind of like fancy perfumed jam. It's got aldehydes on top, so it calls to mind Feminite du Bois, and hints of rubber and woods, as well as a big shot of ionone violets, so it's bright on top and smells of suede in the drydown.

In my personal opinion, the best of this genre is CDG2, which uses inky vetiver and rubber to take the fruitchouli out of the mainstream and into the realm of high art. Meanwhile, Mohur seems to be gunning more for Portrait Of A Lady, confident that expensive ingredients will make it a collector's favorite (which seems to be working - people in the know really seem to love Mohur).

I guess I'm just jaded and really tired of this particular perfume cliche, but any perfume I can easily compare to Feminite du Bois, CDG2, and POAL must deserve a thumbs up, so that's what I'm giving it.
26th July, 2016

Imperial Tea by By Kilian

This is a really nice jasmine tea scent. It kicks off with a mix of grape juice and indoles that's a little weird, but quickly settles into a crowd-pleasing mix of jasmine and green tea.

This is one of those perfumes that feels like it was mixed with a deft hand. A green tea note can easily smell like a cheap spa candle, but the jasmine is perfectly matched, evoking a limpid, relaxed quality while also smelling florid and expensive.

In all, Imperial Tea deserves a thumbs up, but I have to mention that my ultimate queen of jasmine tea perfumes remains Keiko Macheri's Clair Obscur, which is richer, deeper, and more subtly complex.
26th July, 2016

Opôné by Diptyque

This must have been quite groundbreaking back in 2001. Now, when most perfume brands have an "oud" scent without any oud in it, usually based on a recipe similar to Opôné, Diptyque still manages to outclass most of its rivals.

So what does it smell like? Well, it's got saffron and rose, but it doesn't smell like every other saffron rose perfume. The saffron is woody rather than leathery, flanked by a deep oak smell. Meanwhile, the rose combines with rich, plummy damascone as well as the oak to create a deep wine barrel smell.

The result is a very specific type of red-wine-sipping goth vibe, the combination of blood red velvet and white lace, the perfect olfactory match to a big, buxom lady in a tight corset dancing through a renaissance fair. And that's definitely a compliment.
20th July, 2016

Mr. Burberry by Burberry

Corporate smell-alike garbage. That same grape drink and nutmeg and spices we've smelled thousands of times now. You can smell like this for ten dollars.
19th July, 2016

Fleur de Thé Rose Bulgare by Creed

As far as I can smell, this is pretty much just really amazing, natural rose. There's a hint of hairspray aldehydes if you put on too much, and some nice leafy greens, and what I'm guessing is a pinch of vetiver for green piquancy.

I appreciate that Fleur de Thé Rose Bulgare is content to simply let its rose be amazing instead of drowning it in fruit and silliness. If it weren't for the aldehydes, I'd very much want a bottle of this, but there are other exceptional rose perfumes that don't have them that I'd prefer. But still very much an enthusiastic thumbs-up!
19th July, 2016

Marni by Marni

I have to give Marni credit for being the most ambitious mass market scent I've smelled in ages. It wants to be EVERYTHING. For starters, there's a whole galbanum-heavy green chypre in there, like a sweeter Chanel No 18. Given time, other elements come in, most notably flowers, dusty woods, pine, and Spicebomb spices.

If I'm making this sound like one of those impossibly complex early Duchoufour or Kurkdjian compositions, it's not. Instead, it takes all of its disparate elements and wraps them up in a big lollipop of banal candied sweetness until the edges (and a lot of the character) is completely removed. It's almost like someone dared the perfumer to make a big complicated combination of No 18 and CDG and turn it into something they could sell to people who usually wear Britney Spears perfumes.

Don't get me wrong - this is clearly the work of a very talented perfumer. I've never smelled anything like this, even if it does feel like a pastiche of familiar elements candied into dullness. In all, this is easily the most interesting modern perfume you can go smell at Nordstrom right now, which is definitely a compliment, if a bit backhanded...
19th July, 2016