Perfume Reviews

Reviews by rogalal

Total Reviews: 911

Onyx Pearl by Agonist

Oh gawd no! This kicks off ultra-mainstream with that lame Axe body spray top with the mix of grape candy and Windex, with a bit of artificial oud hiding beneath. Given time, as the grape fades, you get a bit of clary sage in its place, still engulfed in a buzzing fusion of ammonia and fake oud.

This is a really generic men's mall scent pretending to be a $1300 art perfume. Just say no...
20th January, 2018

Graduate 1954 by Roads

A perfectly pleasant beachy floral. It's mostly creamy ylang ylang, backed up with a touch of tuberose for projection and orange blossom for sweet depth. It's fairly coconutty and quite rich. It's got a salty beach air smell hiding in plain sight, while a creamy, soapy mix of vanilla and white musk makes the whole thing soft and smooth, and eventually becomes the drydown.

There are many, many beachy coconutty ylang florals out there, so I have to ask "what is Graduate 1954 doing to stand out" and I think my answer is "nothing", but in a good way. A lot of perfumes of this style can come off as cheap novelties, relying on sweaty body notes or shampoo cheapness, while others use questionable plasticky aldehydes or go wild with the loud flowers. What Graduate 1954 brings to the table is a confident, well thought out maturity and attention to detail that's often missing from the genre.
20th January, 2018

Lights by Roads

I've quite enjoyed getting to know Lights. It seems to ask an interesting question: If you take a classic clove floral like Nuit de Noel or Chanel No 5 and subtract out the aldehydes and powder, what do you get? The result is quite interesting. The feel is considerably more modern and "niche", but still clearly evokes a classic feel.

So what does it smell like? It kicks off floral, with a mix of jasmine, rose, and clovey carnation that will be familiar to fans of classics, but laid much more bare than its inspirations, mildly soapy and cut with doughy violets instead of exploding with the powdery aldehydes with which this mix is usually paired. Given time, as the florals fade, it lands on a nice Mitsouko-esque doughy, mossy suede, but animalic with musk and held together with soap and a sharpness from coumarin.

All told, I quite like this. Clovey florals are a favorite element of mine, and I like the successful modernization of classic themes, and any perfume that smells like the flowers from Joy over the base of Mitsouko HAS to be a thumbs-up. That being said, when in the mood for this sort of vibe, I'd personally wear Joy or No 5 or one of many Carons before I'd reach for this, but I appreciate its artistry and also that it may make for a much more office-friendly perfume than the powder-bomb perfumes that clearly influenced it.
19th January, 2018
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I Dare You by Liaison de Parfum

Probably the best of the Liaison de Parfum line, though that's not saying much.

At its core, I Dare You is built on a fusion of sawdusty sandalwood and immortelle, the mysterious flower that smells like something halfway between rum, maple syrup, and curry. The first blast is a chaotic explosion of smoky, peaty whiskey, sour greens imitating absinthe, and sweet candied orange peel. It's clever in a boozy way, but once you add in the curry and woody elements, it's honestly a bit of a mess.

Given time, the boozy chaos fades, leaving the mix of sandalwood and immortelle to hum along on its own for a while. Hours in, the immortelle fades to maple, making way for a pleasant old-school butterscotchy amber and pie spices to cleverly back up the lingering sandalwood. This cinnamon/maple syrup/wood/amber combination is quite well done and the reason for my thumbs up review, though I could have done without the messy topnotes on the way there.
19th January, 2018

Resist Me by Liaison de Parfum

The first couple of Liason de Parfum samples I tried were dumb shampoo candy perfumes which, along with the general flirty "vibe" of the brand, had me ready to write them off. Thankfully, Resist Me is here to claw back some respect.

It's a fairly linear wood smell, largely sawdusty sandalwood, a pinch buttery and with notes of dusty oak for depth and cedar for lift. There's a lingering fruity undertone, a sort of non-specific fruity sweetness that calls to mind Lutens's dried fruit note.

The sweet buttery fruity wood vibe is pleasant. I feel like I would have enjoyed it more with some smoke or leathery elements, but as is, it works as a niche wood perfume with sweetness instead of rough edges, which is fairly rare.
19th January, 2018

No Matter What by Liaison de Parfum

A rather cheap strawberry shampoo smell given a soda sparkle with aldehydes. As the aldehydes fade, it makes room for that overused peach and a pinch of mint. This all eventually gives way to a mix of raspberry candy and violets. Everything here always kind of smells like hot hair being shampooed, and the drydown is a weird salty hair smell.

I just don't like perfumes like this. Shampoo perfumes are gross and cheap candy perfumes are saccharine and childish at best. Put together, they're worse than the sum of their parts. Thumbs down...
16th January, 2018

Stay With Me by Liaison de Parfum

Stay With Me goes on quite loudly. There are two main themes - first, a Giorgio Beverly Hills-esque mix of tuberose and orange blossom. Second, a rather modern mix of salty indoles, fabric softener musk, and a tobacco-ish tonka. I generally dislike these modern fabric softnener florals, especially when they use salt to smell like hair being shampooed as well, and Stay With Me is no exception - I'm not really enjoying it. That being said, the mix of indoles, fabric softener, and tonka is exceptionally well done. I'd have expected these three elements to clash terribly, but it's a credit to the perfumer how well they've made this work as a complex sort of yin/yang between cleanliness and decay that's much more intellectual than the rest of this perfume. So, with that, I'm raising my thumbs down to a neutral.
16th January, 2018

Aoud Leather by Montale

Ostensibly, this is just another quinoline-bomb Tom Ford Tuscan Leather clone. I like it, though, because it replaces TL's infamous cherry cough syrup topnotes with sparkling greens. If you sniff close enough, you can recognize a Mugler-Cologne-esque mix of neroli and vetiver, made shimmery with aldehydes and grounded with galbanum and green resins. It works surprisingly well with the leathery quinoline - it has a careful balance that I don't really expect from Montale, who can be a bit of a mess when they stray away from their formulaic aouds. It's also worth pointing out that, despite the name, this isn't one your typical Montale aoud perfumes, so don't be disappointed if that's what you're expecting.
14th January, 2018

Kölnisch Wasser by Farina Gegenüber

I don't think I can really improve on Dane77's thorough review. Like him, I find Kölnisch Wasser's topnotes quite charming, a pleasant mix of realistic citrus - orange, bergamot, lemon, lime, and possibly a pinch of grapefruit - with a hint of green in the background. Given time, the realism fades as plasticky, salty, eggy aldehydes and fake orange become the focus. The final drydown is a pleasant mix of lavender and herbs, but it's weak enough to barely matter.

I was gifted a bottle of this and have very much enjoyed reapplying it to repeatedly enjoy the fun topnotes, but the drydown is safely ignorable. And while I appreciate Kölnisch Wasser's history, it's worth noting that the mandarin aldehydes and calone that make up most of its structure were 20th century inventions, so it's not really worth pursuing as an example of 1700's perfumery, as it's clearly been modernized significantly along the way. Fun, but not really necessary.
10th January, 2018

1000 by Jean Patou

I've been wearing the current EDP formulation, and it's absolutely glorious.

I enjoy a good aldehydic floral, and pretty much worship Joy, for reducing the genre to its absolute best components and shining a spotlight on the best possible ingredients. I like 1000 for putting all the ornamentation back on, gilding every lily, and just being so extravagantly "extra". The Joy structure is there (aldehydes mixed with jasmine and rose over creamy musky richness), but 1000 fills in every crack and amplifies everything - more aldehydes, more flowers, more funk, more creamy richness.

So what does it really smell like? It's got that fusion of indoles and plasticky aldehydes made famous by Joy, but with added carnation and clove and a mix of fruity herbs and coriander that smells like tea. It really amps up the musk - there's an upfront civet that frightened me for years, but now I'm utterly impressed by the way 1000 mixes its over-the-top poop with woods and chypre elements while that flowery tea smell lends light to the richness of the base.

Absolutely necessary sniffing.
10th January, 2018

Cigar Aficionado by Cigar Aficionado

It's interesting - I can see how this fits perfectly on a timeline of mainstream masculine scents. It's built like a nice early-90's herbal tobacco chypre in the mode of Havana or Montana PH, with pleasant green herbs over mace and pie spices, but with the typical powerhouse bergamot topnotes replaced by that candied grape that would go on to become the foundation of modern aquatics. As such, it sits halfway between the 80's and the 00's.

There are quite a few of these half-retro/half-modern scents lingering out there in the market and I do believe that Cigar Aficionado is one of the best. That being said, it's just not what I enjoy in a scent, so I'm voting neutral, but this is a good one for fans of this kind of crossover.
09th January, 2018 (last edited: 10th January, 2018)

Cologne Intense Collection : Myrrh & Tonka by Jo Malone London

So, this is one of those perfumes that smells like root beer but calls it myrhh. That being said, I've actually quite enjoyed it.

The topnotes are a sweet, candied blast of lavender mixed with root beer over wisps of marshmallow. While this sounds like a cheap candy nightmare, there's something about it (the lavender, maybe some hidden aldehydes?) that makes it fun without being stupid.

The best part happens about a half an hour in, when the focus turns to a fantastically executed hay/straw note mixing with almond marzipan over the subtle marshmallow, while the candied root beer gives lift and brightness. Reading this description of problematic and possibly conflicting notes, I would never have believed that this could smell as good and clever as it does. A very nice surprise.
05th January, 2018 (last edited: 10th January, 2018)

Orange Bitters by Jo Malone

This kicks off with bright, bitter orange peel mixed with vodka and sour greens, quickly joined by a base of roasted coffee and burnt caramel. Given about an hour, it ends up as warm brown sugar topped with smoky dried prunes and a bit of lingering brightness from the orange.

In a world with thousands of citrus perfumes, this manages to smell original, and this is one of the only perfumes that I think has successfully pulled off the citrus/gourmand combination without ending up as a creamsicle nightmare. Thumbs up.
31st December, 2017 (last edited: 10th January, 2018)
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Lavandes Trianon by Lancôme

A very nice lavender. It's basically a traditional fougere, pairing the upfront, natural-smelling lavender with sweet vanilla-ish coumarin. There's a rather nice cinnamon-dusted chocolate note for the first few hours, which I wouldn't have expected to work, but very much does. Given time, everything melts together into a spiced vanilla pudding with tobacco and lavender mixed in. Longevity and projection are surprisingly strong. Classic enough to appeal to traditionalists, but with a subtle gourmand modernity to interest fans of current niche, I think Lavandes Trianon is a winner for lavender fans!
29th December, 2017 (last edited: 10th January, 2018)

Obscure Oud by Phuong Dang

At first, I didn't hold a lot of hope for this line. Prohibitively expensive, they're also the kinds of extremely complex, ever-evolving, long lasting perfumes that have to be tried on and that can't be done justice by a quick sniff at Barney's. Now that I've had a chance to fully try a few of these, I appreciate the line a lot more.

Obscure Oud is a practically perfect goth perfume. At its core, it's a violet perfume, but significantly darkened by forest woods and a touch of rubbery oud, while a complex sort of smoky blackbery jam sits on top. It's technically one of those jammy fruitchouli perfumes, but there's so much swirling around here that it feels really unfair to pigeonhole it as something that basic. It's simultaneously inky and leathery and fruity and gothic - imagine a heroine in a dark purple velvet corset-dress running through a dark forest being chased by dragons. If forced to make comparisons, this reminds me most closely of Feminite du Bois, but with the sparkling aldehydes replaced by a dark woody leathery undercarriage that completely changes the tone. It would likely also appeal to fans of Tom Ford's Noir de Noir, though Obscure Oud feels much more carefully crafted.

All that being said, I just have to comment that extrait concentrations are chemically constructed to be dabbed on a tiny drop at a time, so a giant spray bottle of extrait is ridiculous and actually a disservice to the perfume itself. A full spray of such high concentration knocks out the nose, leaving the scent much harder to enjoy (after multiple wears, I still think there may be an aldehyde sparkle that I just can't smell because of the molecular concentration), so I hope that this line may consider smaller Chanel/Patou-esque dab bottles at some point...
24th December, 2017 (last edited: 10th January, 2018)

Délectation Splendide by Terry de Gunzburg

Délectation Splendide is a really obvious attempt to smell like Hermes' popular Ambre Narguilé. It's that way that chamomile, honey, and cedar combine to smell like pipe tobacco, all over a mix of candied fruits and rich vanilla, with a splash of ashy darkness.

Ambre Narguilé is one of my old favorites, so I had to do a side by side comparison. Up close, Splendide is a little brighter, with less cedar and ash than Narguilé. Splendide also has a fuzzy vanilla musk drydown that's less dark and amber than Narguilé.

So, is this a necessary perfume? Absolutely not. But it is well made, lasts well, and smells great. And if you're looking for something like Ambre Narguilé that's maybe 3% less masculine, this is probably a good choice, but I just can't bring myself to give anything better than a neutral vote to such an obvious copy.
23rd December, 2017 (last edited: 10th January, 2018)

Flagrant Délice by Terry de Gunzburg

Despite the notes, this is basically just Burberry Brit's famously popular mix of pink pepper, vanilla patchouli, and clove, but with butter added and a pinch of tomato leaf on top for a short-lived burst of unexpected greens.

It's well put together, but EXTREMELY familiar, basically a perfume for people who want to smell like a $30 perfume while being able to brag that they're wearing a $200 perfume. All told, I wouldn't bother sniffing this.
23rd December, 2017 (last edited: 10th January, 2018)

McQueen by Alexander McQueen

Interesting, especially for a mass market release. Simplified, it smells like jasmine mixed with grape lollipops and papery coumarin tobacco. But it's the way these combine that brings out the fireworks.

The mix of jasmine and grape candy is deceptively mainstream, though in a darkly goth kind of way. But it's the weird fusion of the indoles from the jasmine mixing with the spermy wet cardboard and gasoline undertones of the coumarin, all fuzed together with the grape candy, that creates a truly unique smell, openly disgusting, yet with a nod to the mainstream, but also uniquely beautiful.

It's a tribute to the McQueen brand that whoever handles their perfumes seems to actively try to put out works that fit his goth-meets-garbage-meets-couture aesthetic. If you're stuck at the mall, this is the one you should sniff.
20th December, 2017 (last edited: 10th January, 2018)

Replica Filter: Blur by Martin Margiela

A dizzying haze of "clean". Perfectly wearable on its own as a proper perfume, Blur is a mix of all sorts of familiar things. It smells like Fructis shampoo, and also Snuggle fabric softener, and also the fresh lemony smell of the shampoos and soaps at a decent hotel. It smells like the air freshener in the bathroom at a fancy restaurant, and also like the familiar spicy gourmand pink pepper/vanilla drydown of so many mainstream perfumes.

This style of hyper-clean, familiar-smelling perfumes is one of my least favorite genres, but I have to give credit to Filter: Blur - it's probably the best of its ilk that I've smelled, miles more complex and fully realized than Philosophy and others who specialize in this. Not a thumbs up because I don't like this as a genre, but a respectful neutral.
20th December, 2017 (last edited: 10th January, 2018)

Replica Lazy Sunday Morning by Martin Margiela

On first application, there's a mix of traditional funky musk and modern fabric softener musk that really had a lot of potential, feeling like a really interesting juxtaposition. Unfortunately, the traditional musk died away quickly, leaving a core that seems to be a bit of a Margiela staple: Snuggle fabric softener mixed with white soap, shampoo smell, and pink pepper dusted with patchouli. In a way, I appreciate this Margiela-ade; it's thoroughly modern and has mainstream appeal without resorting to marshmallow stupidity. But it also feels quite common, like a perfumer carefully crafting a bunch of familiar lowbrow elements into something that probably took a lot of work, but ultimately smells painstakingly unremarkable. Meh.
15th December, 2017 (last edited: 10th January, 2018)

Replica Beach Walk by Martin Margiela

Have you ever gone to a party or a club and it was an off night and there was barely anyone there, but you and your friends already paid, so you soldier on, desperately trying to act like you're having fun when you're clearly not? Beach Walk is that feeling expressed as a perfume.

This wants soooo badly to be a beach party in a bottle, but it's doing it quite poorly. Ostensibly, this is one of those suntan lotion bodies-on-a-beach perfumes, but it's awkwardly off kilter. There's that mix of tuberose and orange blossom that implies old-school tanning lotion, and tons of salty calone to imply both beach air and salty bodies, and some coconut to make everything "tropical". There's soapy neroli, and for some reason a large amount of hairspray aldehydes making evrything smell like it's coated in molten plastic, and some kind of musk that makes it all smell like it's a complicated scented shampoo. I really don't think it works. The elements clash and the salty plastic and shampoo drenching everything is just a mess. For my money, Bond's Fire Island remains the best of this style, still miles ahead of the many to come since, and this is at the bottom of that pack.
15th December, 2017 (last edited: 10th January, 2018)

Uomo by Salvatore Ferragamo

One of those A*Men-inspired coffee/lavender/caramel gourmands drenched in mass market masculine aromachemicals, notably those omnipresent aquatic grape topnotes and a full-on Axe body spray "woody amber" base. It's OK at first and ends up smelling ferociously cheap. In the recent flood of coffee gourmands, this seems quite unnecessary - the only thing it brings to the table is cheapness.
14th December, 2017 (last edited: 10th January, 2018)

Replica Dancing On the Moon by Martin Margiela

Despite the artsy lunar references, this is a big tropical floral. It's hard to pinpoint the floral notes - I'm guessing a coconutty ylang, but there's a huge effusiveness that implies tuberose, and there's a loud 80's-style white floral in there as well.

But the florals are really only half the story. It's the complicated chemistry around them that really defines Dancing On The Moon. There's a sexy floral grit that calls to mind Black Orchid (but minus the filth), and a salty bodies-on-the-beach smell, and there's something in there that makes the whole thing smell like shampoo as well.

All in all, this just isn't what I'm into, and I find that the chemical shampoo haze detracts from what could have been a decent tropical floral. Meh.
14th December, 2017 (last edited: 10th January, 2018)

Replica Jazz Club by Martin Margiela

I honestly think Jazz Club is sort of a mess, because it's got EVERYTHING in it. It's like they took every possible masculine perfume cliche and threw it in a bucket - it's got those grape drink topnotes from modern aquatics, pie spiced metallic lavender reminiscent of Polo Green, dank oily herbs from Aramis, a full roasted coffee A*Men gourmand, and even coconutty tropical fruit rum. All at once.

It's a testament to the perfumer's skills that this works at all - I want to give full credit for the complex balancing act happening here. But that being said, Jazz Club only really gets good a few hours in after most of the unnecessary cacophony fades away, leaving a mix of spiced Malibu rum, fruits, and smoky roasted coffee over a creamy vanilla.
12th December, 2017 (last edited: 10th January, 2018)

Replica Lipstick On by Martin Margiela

That combination of violet and iris that smells, at least in theory, like classic lipstick. Having been on an ingredient binge lately, I recognize this as a clever fusion of ionones (violets over suede) and peach aldehydes (doughy greasy paint), over iris and pink pepper. As the violets and iris fade, tonka comes in, with its sour greens and tobacco nuances, along with a textbook marshmallow fruitchouli base.

In total, Lipstick On is technically sound - the transitions are good, and sillage and projection are perfect. This is clearly well put together. The pink pepper base is clearly there to give mainstream appeal to a niche concept, and it's used skillfully enough to keep Lipstick On from smelling too dreadfully common. It's like this is precision engineered to stand out from the sea of peachy strawberry fabric softener perfumes at Nordstrom or Sephora, while still appealing to customers who like that sort of thing.

For years now, I've used lipstick violet perfumes as an example of a niche cliche, the kind of scent put out by niche companies that stick to tried and true niche formulas instead of trying to actively innovate. I think this perfectly sums up my experience with the Replica line, so I'm having a hard time actually getting excited about this. I think it works as a concept if its wide distribution means that this is the first time someone has smelled this sort of thing, while more experienced perfumistas will likely prefer Malle's Lipstick Rose or something that's less obviously concerned with mass acceptance.
11th December, 2017 (last edited: 10th January, 2018)

Replica Flower Market by Martin Margiela

Intentionally and pointedly unremarkable. 60% Snuggle fabric softener, 30% pleasant artificial flowers, and 10% cheap strawberry shampoo. One for the uncritical perfume consumers who just want to smell like everyone else. I honestly believe that at least 500 perfumes that basically smell like this have come out in the last couple of years.
11th December, 2017 (last edited: 10th January, 2018)

Cologne du Parfumeur by Guerlain

I'm not entirely sold on Cologne du Parfumeur. It goes on heavy with the expected orangey bergamot, but there's an outsized blob of petitgrain that makes this skew much more woody than most traditional colognes. I understand the point of colognes enough to generally not mark down for lack of longevity, but without the orange blossom or white musk usually used to make these last, Guerlain simple fades away on my skin after a mere hour or so. I guess I think of the cologne recipe as a clever interplay of bergamot, orange, lavender, and herbs, extended with petitgrain and orange blossom, and Guerlain disappoints with its clunky, forward petitgrain not leaving room for the rest of the elements I was hoping for.

In conversations of the great traditional colognes (Eau de Hadrien, Acqua di Parma, Chanel, etc), this seems to turn up often, but I can't help but feel like that has more to do with Guerlain fandom than the scent itself. Certainly not terrible, but a bit of an unimpressive showing in a field full of winners.
10th December, 2017 (last edited: 10th January, 2018)

Lampblack by Bruno Fazzolari

Having worked my way through the Fazzolari line, I think the two big winners are Au Dela Narcisse (an unexpected old-school honeysuckle) and this one, Lampblack. Lampblack seems like an easy sell, being the kind of dark niche that's popular with the sort of perfume aficionado who would enjoy Fazzolari's art-meets-perfume aesthetic.

So what does it smell like? It kicks off with a charred meat note that reminds me of Lonestar Memories, but played against tomato leaf. The meaty quality fades quickly, leaving as the primary smell a complex interplay of burnt charcoal and that tomato leaf. It's a clever mix - the charred wood (which hints at leather as well) does a good job masking the inevitable vomit undertone of the tomato leaf. Meanwhile, there's some fruit hiding in plain sight, acting as a brightening element, as well as a dark, mossy green galbanum base that cleverly ties together the green of the tomato and the woodiness of the charcoal. This should appeal to fans of dark niche like Nasomato's Black Afgano or Byredo's M/Mink, but the leafy greens are enough to make it unique.
02nd November, 2017

Portraits : The Bewitching Yasmine by Penhaligon's

Yasmine goes on with a nice shot of saffron and pepper. The jasmine is mostly buried, acting as more of a sweetener than a direct smell. There's some fairly forward butter, as well as burnt caramel creme brulee adding to the sweetness. I'm guessing there's also some currant at play, as there's a hint of piney green urine in the background. It's an interesting smell, likely inspired by the indie perfumes that define the cutting edge right now, in that it's really rough, clearly informed by Slumberhouse and the like, where it's less about complimentary notes and more about achieving a sweet, dark continuity of texture.

But there's a problem. About an hour in, an inky "woody amber" aquatic base comes in and cheapens everything. By hour two, all that's left is a hint of caramel smothered by what's basically the cheapest base available, leaving Yasmine smelling like an Axe body spray for most of the day. Too bad - this had promise but ultimately fails. Thumbs down trying to pass off a cheap cliche of a drydown in a $250 exclusive perfume. Nope.
01st November, 2017

Night Scented Stock by Penhaligon's

To my nose, Night Scented Stock is halfway between Caron's Poivre (powdery carnation and cloves) and Old Spice (powdery meaty clove). There's not a lot behind the core smell of powder and clove/carnation, save for a touch of bubblegummy jasmine and a nondescript soapy base.

I enjoy scents like this and own a bottle, though I'm quite aware that this is essentially just a slightly more feminine version of Old Spice.
29th October, 2017