Perfume Reviews

Reviews by rogalal


Alliage by Estée Lauder

Alliage (which is apparently now called Aliage, minus one L) is a perfect example of one of those filthy green 70's chypres that combine a lot of really unlikeable smells into something charismatic and somehow beautiful. At it's core, it's a chypre, so there's that green bergamot/galbanum/moss skeleton. The stars of the show are an upfront vinegar smell and jasmine fused with clove. It's sort of leathery as well, in that oily green chypre way, and there's a large slug of poopy civet in there, too. As the flowery clove and vinegar fade, a dusty sandalwood takes its place adorning the greens and the scent ends with a typical mossy chypre base.

Somehow, these vinegar/flower dirty chypres seem to smell fantastic on me - I find them quite masculine, though it's worth a warning that this is a bit of a challenging perfume. It's wonderful in its own filthy vinegar and poop kind of way, but I don't think this is going to be much of a crowd-pleaser. My only real criticism is that the concentration feels weak, like an EDT at best, leaving everything feeling unnecessarily quiet after a couple of hours. I would have enjoyed having the sandalwood/moss combination that comes in later be much more prominent, but I guess that's to be expected with the lower price point. That being said, I really like Alliage, so definitely still a thumbs up.
06th November, 2015

Orris by Tauer

This honestly isn't like any iris scent I've tried before. The topnotes are a candied mix of lemon and mint and some sort of sharp resins. The iris is very cold and chalky and somehow fuses with the topnotes to create a weird ice cold synergy, the symbolic perfume equivalent of a snowball rolled in the ash of lemon candies burnt as incense. The base is the "Tauer-ade" made famous by LADDM, a green-ish mix of incense and resins, rendered cool and distant by the aforementioned ingredients.

Personally speaking, I like my irises either warm and rich or woody and leathery, and Orris is the polar opposite of any of that. As such, it's not anything I'd want a bottle of (thank goodness, as it's long been unavailable), but I find it really interesting as an art piece.
05th November, 2015

Hindu Grass by Nasomatto

Grassy green patchouli in a good, old fashioned chypre. There's a lot of bergamot in here, as well as what smells like a ton of mossy green galbanum. It's unwaveringly green and manages to stay rather high pitched despite ingredients that often tend to lean towards dark. It doesn't have the rich intensity of niche favorite patchoulis like Villoresi or Bois 1920, choosing the bergamot focus instead. It doesn't have the high fashion luxe prettiness of Moss Breches either, staying more in the realm of earth and soil.

Personally speaking, I'm not sure why, but I just don't find this very enjoyable. Truth be told, I'm not a huge patchouli fan and I'm not enough of a chypre fanatic to swoon at anything with a big slug of bergamot and oakmoss, but beyond that, Hindu Grass has a musty, sickly quality to its bergamot and moss that I find vaguely unpleasant. I guess I was hoping for a stoned hippie dance circle and got an old hospital instead.
05th November, 2015
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Cuir Pleine Fleur / Fine Leather by Heeley

This is interesting, but ultimately didn't win me over. In terms of smell, it would be hard for me to describe it better than previous reviews, so I'll just say that this is a complicated mix that starts off with violets and fennel, passes through a violet leaf and iris stage, before ending up at mentholated iris and vetiver.

It's complicated and, at face value, a well crafted perfume, but it just hasn't made me fall in love. For one, it has a carefully designed coolness, an icy green quality that engulfs the scent. This iced feeling effectively shaves off the rough edginess I'd expect from a leather scent. As a result, it's got an insistent aloofness which is intellectually interesting, but ultimately not endearing to me. Is it possible for a perfume to be disdainful? Perhaps this is a leather scent for people who don't like leathers, or a cool violet leaf scent for people who don't like that sort of thing, but whatever it is, I like it more in theory than in practice.
04th November, 2015

Amyris Homme by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Kurkdjian pulls a Bond No 9, basically a cheap-smelling mainstream masculine cliche, but highly concentrated and expensive. It's got those stereotypical topnotes that smell like grape drink mixed with Windex, paired with ginger for added brightness. The drydown is your standard metallic "woody amber" with a touch of cheap vanilla and papery tobacco. This would be derivative drivel at $20. At $200, it's at best an in joke, but most likely a desperate attempt to cash in on people who don't know perfume but want something expensive.
03rd November, 2015

Prada Amber pour Homme Intense by Prada

While I find Prada Amber to be a carefully crafted study in the balances between mainstream and luxe, masculine and feminine, and brightness versus richness, the Intense version feels to me less rigorously plotted and more like some perfumer was asked to make an amber perfume that would appeal to Macys customers who would think an actual amber scent is too "girly". As such, it's basically a fairly standard vanilla amber perfume smothered in steretypical masculine darkness, a hard to pin down mix of pine and chocolate and metallic iodine and ink that sounds interesting but is really just more of that aquatic "woody amber" chemical smell that designer scents use to dumb themselves down. Oddly, there's also a ton of nostril tickling powder on top, which I suppose is intended to class things up, but just feels weirdly unbalanced to me.

All in all, even without the aquatic mess, there are many better ambers out there, but there's something weirdly attractive about Prada Amber pour Homme Intense. It's like eating at Chipotle - you know there are better burritos available and it's really just a watered down white-bread version of something, but it's still oddly satisfying...
03rd November, 2015

Prada Amber pour Homme by Prada

That mix of grape drink and Windex that's in everything - usually I hate scents that use those, but Prada Amber pretties them up with a lot of upfront white flowers, sparkling soapy ginger, and a subtly peachy old fashioned butterscotchy amber. There was a 99% chance this would turn out terrible, but somehow they got the mix just right and it's actually quite beautiful, clean and bright but also rich and complex. The creamy cinnamon tobacco basenotes are fantastic as well, though I wish they were more concentrated. A surprise thumbs up for actually making me enjoy those overused pedestrian topnotes.
03rd November, 2015

Makeda by En Voyage Perfumes

On me, Makeda is a hard-to-describe mix of citrus that smells more bright than citrusy, and jasmine that smells more candied than floral, combining to make a pleasant happy sweet smell. Given a few minutes, I smell a lot of fennel, half way between green and licorice, which contributes depth to the sweet smell. It dries down to a very nice woody base, which I wish were stronger.

I like that Makeda is sweetened with jasmine instead of stupid vanilla frosting - it finds a nice balance between sweet and smart. It's not as ornate as many perfumes, having the feel of a study or an early work compared to what En Voyage is doing now, but it's fun and very wearable.
02nd November, 2015

Tiare by Ormonde Jayne

White flowers and aldehydes drenched in dark, mossy greens. This reminds me of ADP's Iris Nobile, but with the uplifting, beautiful orange blossom and neroli snuffed out with dank patchouli and dark green moss. Conversely, this also calls to minds Tom Ford's Moss Breches, but somehow depressing instead of lively. If Iris Nobile is a jubilant bride, then Tiare is one of those bitter aging starlets in an old movie, locked in a decaying mansion, which makes Tiare rather brilliant as an art piece, but I'm just not really enjoying wearing it very much. Quality, but off-putting with its aggressive dank.
01st November, 2015

Dark Rum by Malin + Goetz

I really like Malin + Goetz's Rum smell - I've gone through a couple of their rum candles and also really like the shower gel. Unfortunately, the formula is almost all topnotes, meant to smell good quickly without hanging around, so it just doesn't translate that well into a proper perfume.

So what does it smell like? It's a sort of sweet brown boozy smell mixed with citrus and pineapple. Given about a half an hour, a weird sort of wet cardboard tobacco smell takes over, which I really don't like. All things considered, the great topnotes are clearly inspired by L'Artisan's Ananas Fizz, which I think I is a better perfume overall, so I'd just go with that.
31st October, 2015

Anena by Laura Tonatto

The problem with citrus/green tea scents is that it's apparently very difficult to not have them end up smelling like a cheap spa candle. I can see how Anena tries to use the pine to avoid this, but it doesn't really work, ending up smelling like the scent they'd pipe into the restrooms at an upscale outlet mall.
31st October, 2015

Marquis by Anglia Perfumery

This falls somewhere between the buzzing metallic lavender and mossy ambrox of GIT and the soapy sweetness of CK One. This is the kind of aquatic I actually like - there's no dumb bleach notes or anything, and they don't skimp on the relatively expensive ambrox, so it has a decent richness to it, but in the end it basically smells like salty soap on a hot beach. I don't have a real historical context for this so I'm not offended by the use of the old name for something that's clearly not from 1928, so I'll just say it's not bad, but not really necessary either. Thumbs up just for smelling decent, though I'll admit I've smelled this done with more panache elsewhere.
30th October, 2015

Blamage by Nasomatto

I keep re-trying Blamage because I actually quite like the topnotes. It's essentially a pleasant artificial wood smell with vanilla in the background making it sweet. Unfortunately, it's built on a rather cheap-smelling "woody amber" aquatic base, which I really don't like. Meh.
26th October, 2015
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Joy by Jean Patou

Honestly, if there's a short list of the most necessary, important, iconic perfumes ever, Joy is probably in the top 3 or 4. Of course it smells fantastic!

So what does it actually smell like? The stars of the show are the flowers - I mostly smell carnation, indolic jasmine, and rose over a mix of white florals. There are plasticky hairspray aldehydes on top, which I usually don't like but don't mind here because they mix with the indoles in the jasmine in a really interesting way. There's a creamy base underneath, sort of musky and sort of woody, with just a pinch of funk.

Today, I've been wearing the current EDP, which really features the flowers and the aldehydes. But my pick is definitely the extrait, which tones down the plastic in favor of much richer basenotes, which make the whole thing much more luxurious, but also a bit funkier.
26th October, 2015

Bois de Aoud / Original Aoud by Montale

I like this. It's got that signature Montale oud, so there's that weird rubbery chemical medicinal smell, that creepy abandoned hospital odor that you either love or hate. Bois De Aoud tones it down by mixing it with a rich, creamy wood base, which takes a lot of the edge off. There's a lot of black pepper in there as well as a hit of saffron that comes through more after the oud dies down. Given a few hours, as AndyMan32 says, it ends up as fairly unadorned black pepper for a while, before a dark green resin smell sneaks in underneath.

In a world where most of the perfumes sold as ouds are actually either saffron, birch tar, or cheap aquatic chemicals, I appreciate Montale for keeping it real...
25th October, 2015

Seven Veils by Byredo

Um, no... I was intrigued by the supposed carrot note, but it's more of a nondescript spicy sweetness than anything I'd consider carrot. But the real issue is that the "carrot" sits on top of a very pedestrian mix of pink pepper, patchouli, and marshmallowy vanilla, so Seven Veils ends up smelling like a mediocre Burberry Brit copycat. One of those perfumes for people who want to pay $150 to smell like they're wearing a $20 scent.

As for carrots, I still think the best carrot note out there is Providence Perfume Co's Eva Luna, while the most wearable carrot perfume has to be I Love Les Carottes by Honore De Pres...
25th October, 2015

Love by By Kilian

Nothing I can write here will be better than Gimmegreen's review, so I'll just focus on what I smell. First of all, there's a ton of cheap marshmallowy Pink Sugar vanilla in here, topped with what smells like it could actually be rather expensive real rose and jasmine, rendered candied by the vanilla. There's a touch of sugary strawberry that comes in later, and a slight green undertone that's subtle, but there - the only thing keeping this from being a complete candied mess.

The end result actually reminds me of Guerlain. Not the good Guerlains, but the newer Petit-Robe-Noir-style Geurlains that have discarded the classic Guerlinade in favor of cherry candy and marshmallows. As such, this isn't terrible, just really candied and sweet. It raises the question of whether or not anything with this much ethyl maltol (the chemical responsible for the marshmallow vanilla smell) can EVER smell "classy" or "expensive". Honestly, I don't think it's possible. Taking some real heavy-hitting ingredients and dunking them in marshmallow fluff is an interesting but ultimately failed experiment, I guess. It's fun enough to earn a neutral rating instead of a thumbs down, but I just don't like scents that are this candied and sweet.
23rd October, 2015

Pêche noir by En Voyage Perfumes

This is really nice. On me, the focus is on the flowers, mostly a very real and expensive-smelling rose, brightened with jasmine and hints of citrus and peach. There's a touch of darkness, which I'm assuming is the leather and the chypre base. I'm a sucker for realistic roses and this is a good one, ornamented just enough to have character. For floral lovers, I'd highly suggest sampling.
23rd October, 2015

Blimey, Limey by Smell Bent

Blimey Limey kicks off with lime (no surprise), but mixed with vanilla, so it smells more like a "lime creamsicle" than actual fruit. There's a quiet salty, peppery, woody quality hovering in the background. Given time, it gets aquatic, like a salty swimming pool smell mixed with the vanilla and lingering lime. As the lime fades, it leaves what's basically a Creed-style aquatic base mixed with marshmallowy vanilla.

Personally speaking, I don't care much for "Creamsicle" gourmands, and the gourmand/aquatic crossover is interesting, but not really what I'm into, so I'll vote neutral. But if you like your scents sweet and the idea of an ice cream aquatic piques your interest, go for it!
23rd October, 2015

Dead Sexy No. 06 by Tokyo Milk

I smell mostly coumarin or heliotrope, that smell that hints at blond, dry tobacco and blanched almonds. It all sits on top of a bed of soapy musk and tonka bean that creates a juxtaposition of clean and dirty notes. Given time, a marshmallowy vanilla comes in makes everything a lot more warm and fuzzy, but at the expense of the nutty, woody, flowery topnotes, which eventually get smothered under the vanilla.

Honestly, I can understand both the good and bad reviews for this. It's essentially a dirty, nutty version of Pink Sugar - that's either going to sound really interesting or really awful. Despite the fact that I usually dislike scents like this, I've found it kind of fun (though not at all sexy) so I'm going with a thumbs up vote. That being said, if you want a scent that does a lot of what this does but waaaay better, I'd suggest Malle's L'Eau d'Hiver or, even better, Hermes Eau Claire de Marveilles.
22nd October, 2015

Havâne pour Homme by En Voyage Perfumes

This is a really interesting scent. It starts off with realistic crushed mint mixed with tea. There's a pine forest smell under the tea, which does a good job keeping the mint from smelling like toothpaste. As the day goes by, the minty tea fades, making room for a dab of maple syrup immortelle, which combines with the forest smell really nicely. There's also a boozy rum smell in there, so the base kind of smells like a redwood board soaked with maple syrup and rum.

For those out there who want interesting niche scents but don't like "feminine" smells, this may be a great fit.
21st October, 2015

Désir by Ajne

I agree with Mimi that the note that stands out the most for me in Désir is the jasmine. Everything else mixes together to form a dark, green-smelling essential oil stew. It smells like there's a lot of mossy galbanum in there, given extra depth with patchouli and brightness with what I'm guessing is vetiver and a pinch of something minty. In a sense, it's an organic version of a chypre base topped with the jasmine, but being a natural perfume, there are weird undertones making it a little weird, not the least of which is a hot sand and seashells smell that drowns out the jasmine after a while - maybe this has lotus in it?

Anyway, I'm not a huge fan of this specific style of natural perfumery. I would much rather have smelled the jasmine in its full glory than weird mossy seashells, but it's still an interesting, carefully crafted scent, and I'd highly recommend it for natural perfume lovers, so I'll go with a neutral rating.
17th October, 2015

Tabac Aurea by Sonoma Scent Studio

This stuff is great! It's got that pipe tobacco smell made famous by Tobacco Vanille, but it handles it quite differently. That pipe tobacco smell is actually a clever mix of cedar, honey, and chamomile - Tabac Aurea plays up the woody aspect instead of the sweet aspect that most scents of this type tend to exaggerate. As such, it's like the smell of an old-school pipe tobacco store mixed with burnished woods, a touch of smoky pine tar leather, some boozy rum, and incense. It works really well and is perfect for people who like that tobacco smell but don't like gourmands.

Realistically, this sits comfortably in the same family as Tobacco Vanille, Ambre Narguille, and Back To Black. It's very much worth noting that all of those sell for around $300, while you can get a small bottle of Tabac Aurea for about $40. I know there are people who peruse these reviews looking for little known inexpensive scents that smell like very costly, top-notch perfumes - this is very much one of those. Well worth checking out!
17th October, 2015

Fleurs d'Oranger by Serge Lutens

This stuff is gorgeous. Of course, it's got plenty of orange blossom, but supported by white flowers and quite a bit of jasmine, with a touch of soap underneath. There's also a bit of funky musk and sweaty cumin hiding in there, but it's quiet and manages to perfectly balance all the flowery prettiness, so it's nothing nasty. Given time, it ends up as a soapy, floral neroli.

This is one of those perfumes that I catch whiffs of while walking around and it makes me think of Spring time when the flowers are all in bloom. It smells like nature, but better. Thumbs way up!
14th October, 2015

The British Bouquet by Atkinsons

What a terrible letdown. The British Bouquet starts off with citrus mixed with a smell akin to chewing on tin foil. And it's all drenched in whatever that cheap-smelling bleachy aquatic "woody amber" chemical is. Given time, the citrus fades and I'm left with basil and dark green herbs mixed with that bleachy metal smell, and after about an hour, nothing but that terrible cheap aquatic base that really awful men's designer scents use.

If you like this sort of thing, you could smell like this for around $20, so I don't see why The British Bouquet is necessary when the shelves at discount stores are full of Curve and forgotten Kenneth Coles.
14th October, 2015

Oud Save The King by Atkinsons

Oud Save The King (urgh, that name...) starts off with a complicated mix of fruit and pipe tobacco and ashy woods that reminds me of Ambre Narguile, but with just a pinch of rubbery oud added. Given a little time, the fruits and ash fade to the background, leaving an interplay of pie spices and smoky rubbery wood that reminds me of Tom Ford's Oud Wood. As the day progresses, some rounded sandalwood mixed with marshmallowy vanilla wells up from the bottom, ending up as a mix of forest greens and woods with sweet candied vanilla, which reminds me of the drydown of Creed's Royal Oud.

From a technical standpoint, I'm kind of amazed that they pulled this off. This covers a lot of ground and does it extremely well. From an artistic standpoint, this feels more like a megamix of hits than an original composition, but it's done so deftly that I don't really care. Thumbs up!
14th October, 2015

La Panthère Eau de Parfum Légère by Cartier

While the original La Panthère aimed high but came across a little cheap and lame, the Eau de Parfum Légère version is gorgeous.

It's a traditional aldehydic floral, with sparkly flowers over enough moss and musk to come through all the way to the topnotes. La Panthère's fruits are relegated to the background here, where they provide a nice subtle peachskin hue. There are hints of almond and iris as well - this is one of those perfumes that rewards repeated sniffing with lots of shifting undertones.
11th October, 2015

La Panthère by Cartier

Cartier is such a weird perfume company. They clearly think of themselves as a grand old perfume house with a catalog of important, top-notch scents. But somehow, it's clear on smelling a lot of what they put out that they aim high but then something goes wrong and they end up smelling considerably more pedestrian than they apparently intend.

La Panthère is a perfect example of this. It's supposed to be a heady, raunchy tribute to Brazil. To that end, it's quite mossy and poopy, but then everything else is just a lame artificial-smelling fruity floral that smells like cheap supermarket fruit shampoo. It's like they had enough drive for greatness to add the musk and moss, but not enough to leave out the pedestrian, basic fruit mix.

For the record, they did hit the mark with their Eau De Parfum Legere flanker - It's considerably better, with the fruit toned down and replaced in the forefront by aldehydic white florals which compliment the moss and musk much better.
11th October, 2015

Gris Montaigne by Christian Dior

This is one of those perfumes that combines all sorts of complex flowers and fruits and somehow ends up smelling like watered-down purple fake-grape Gatorade. Given time, it's joined by vanilla and pink pepper and freshly-sawed lumber, but the overall effect is always fruity and sweet and artificial. This is also one of those perfumes that achieves a sort of 3-d cloud effect where it smells weak on the skin, but simultaneously billows out lots of sillage (you know, the way Aventus does).

I was fully prepared to pan Gris Montaine for being intentionally inoffensive and relying on on that cliched grape drink smell and dumb vanilla drydown, but I've never gotten so many compliments - people on the street, everywhere, told me how great I smelled (which almost NEVER happens to me) so I guess that has to earn this perfume enough points to soften my hardened heart and earn a thumbs up for being such a crowd-pleaser.
06th October, 2015

Levantium by Penhaligon's

Levantium has what you'd expect from a modern upscale oud perfume: lots of saffron mixing with patchouli and rose, a barely perceptible pinch of rubber, probably no oud, and a woody drydown. What it does differently from the crowd is actually a difficult-to-describe designer sheen. It has that non-specific chemical woodiness that you smell in a lot of men's designer scents, as well as a weird chemical cloak, a sort of metallic outer space lavender that knocks out my nose, leaving all the usual oud notes suspended in a haze of chemistry. I'm familiar with this effect from the original Polo, so I always associate it with mall scents.

All that being said, this adds up to me not particularly liking Levantium. With the chemical theatrics, it smells like it's attempting to be common. If it didn't have them, it would have smelled like a hundred other upscale department store ouds. So, I guess that if you're a big designer fan who hasn't liked ouds before, Levantium may be the one to finally win you over. But if you're an actual oud fan, this may be a hard sell.
06th October, 2015