Reviews by Cutecthulu

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    Cutecthulu
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    Notorious by Ralph Lauren

    Notorious has a wonderfully perverse begining-- a cloying (in an interesting way), slightly rubbery fruity-rose accord freshened with Coca-Cola aldehydes. Reminiscent of Angel, in feeling as much as smell, a similar good-humored decadence. It quiets down to a fresher, more conventional middle, and then--nothing! This one seems to disappear on me after half an hour. Begins with a bang, and then peters out. Too bad, but while it lasts, it's far more intriguing than most of the stuff on the market.

    09 May, 2009

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    Pink Sugar by Aquolina

    On first trying Pink Sugar, I thought, "Why do they call this Pink when it's so orange? I guess Orange Sugar isn't girly enough." For about ten minutes, I felt woozy from the sweet, sweet, sweet orange cotton candy scent. Then the pink showed up-- that horrid artificial strawberry that belongs on scratch 'n sniff stickers, not in a perfume. To be avoided by anyone over the age of fourteen, or under it, for that matter.

    28 April, 2009

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    Miss Dior Chérie (original) by Christian Dior

    The top features an irritating artificial strawberry scent that brought back memories of "scratch 'n sniff" stickers from childhood. Imagine one of those stickers mixed in with a lot of patchouli, and you have Miss Dior Cherie. Miss Dior, sadly, now has an idiot grandaughter.

    31st March, 2009

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    Verveine /Verbena by L'Occitane

    Lemon Pledge without the longevity--not that you would want it to have longevity.

    25 March, 2009

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    Azurée by Estée Lauder

    I've just met Yatagan's mother! I thought, the first time I found myself enveloped in the agressive top notes of Azuree. A quick moment of carroty, anisic notes gives way to strong, almost urinous leather, rounded out by Coca-Cola aldehydes and something earthy (like the skin of an unwashed potato). Although it begins agressively, Azuree dries down to a soft and comfortable, but still bitter, leather-chypre accord. Apply spareingly to best appriciate it's complex, dark character. Try not to be put off by first impressions. This is a fragrance that grows on you with continued use. One of those old-school "women's" fragrances that, these days, may work better on a man.

    25 March, 2009

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    Cleopatra by Tocca

    Queen of the Nile? More like Junior High Homecoming Queen, though that's hardly fair to anyone in junior high. Cleopatra begins with a green-floral accord with too much Calone, then turns to jasmine with too much indole. The floral mothball fades away, leaving a faint, musky dry down. Avoid.

    24 March, 2009

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    Stetson by Stetson

    As Tania Sanchez pointed out in The Guide, this is an old-school women's fragrance packaged and sold as a men's cologne-- a great joke, perhaps an excercise in postmodern gender-role subversion. Stetson starts off with a blast of spicy citrus, admirably brightened with aldehydes. Then it settles into a musky jasmine and an ambery dry-down. Strong and smooth with an old-fashioned charm all the way through, and an excellent value for the low price.

    10th March, 2009 (Last Edited: 15 September, 2009)

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    Rose de Siwa / FK2 by MDCI

    A strong fruity, powdery rose. Very pretty and long-lasting, but also a bore, like a beautiful young woman without a thought in her head. A disappointment from the makers of Enlevement au Serail and Promesse de l'Aube, both of which have far more complexity and character

    06 March, 2009

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    Tea/Rose by CB I Hate Perfume

    When every other perfumer does a rose scent, they use the rose flower as a model. Christopher Brosius, confounding expectations as usual, gives us the whole rose plant: not just the flower, but the leaves, the stems, and even the moist soil at the roots. I find that Brosius work falls into two categories. The first is photo-realistic depictions of an object or place, such as this photo-realistic depiction of a rose plant. That's all well and good, but Brosius' best work goes beyond mere depiction to a more abstract realm of meditation and fantasy inspired by something in the real world. Tea Rose is one of his less inspired, earth-bound creations, interesting but not fascinating.

    06 March, 2009

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    parfums*PARFUMS Series 2 Red: Harissa by Comme des Garçons

    Because the company list of notes contains both chilli pepper and tomato, I expected this to smell like a Bloody Mary spiked with Tobasco. To my surprise and delight, it turned out to smell like chilli pepper soda. The scent is bright and effervescent, even fizzy, with a slight sweetness. The tomato appears only in the dry-down, where it is light and not Bloody Mary-like at all. Weird and wonderful

    06 March, 2009

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    Comme des Garçons 2 Man by Comme des Garçons

    Begins as peppery smoke, turns to plasticy smoke, then settles into powdery smoke--as if a candle were made to give off the smell of talcum powder. If that sounds terrible, it isn't. It's more refined and less acrid than candle smoke, smelling a bit more like oil than wax. Hints of citrus tease the nose throughout. The powdery aspect mellows out in the dry-down, which is a dry incense. Unusual, but quite wearable, and good for both men and women.

    13 February, 2009

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    Le Temps d'Une Fête by Parfums de Nicolaï

    Another masterpiece from Patricia de Nicolai! In the past, I've always found narcissus perfumes too bitter and sharp, but this is heavenly. A modern, fresh green floral that also has a timeless quality. Perfect!

    08 February, 2009

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    Vetiver Dance by Tauer

    Oh, the woods! Don't wear this outside. Woodpeckers might try to bore holes in your head. I would not recommend wearing it inside either, it's very strong and not very good. The materials are of high quality, but the composition is banal. Consider this an example of how it takes more than good ingredients to make a good fragrance. The top is all right--very woody and grassy with some pepper--but nothing extraordinary. The dry down is just boring. With many better vetiver-based fragrances on the market, there is no reason to invest in this. Let's hope Andy Tauer's next offering meets the high standars set by his earlier creations.

    08 February, 2009

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    Promesse de l'Aube / FK1 by MDCI

    A very well balanced fruity-floral chypre. The tip-top is sweet citrus, followed by a lovely accord of peach and rose. Floral-mossy-woody middle. The drydown has a surprising hint of rosemary. Long-lasting and well composed. Now if only the price were more reasonable...

    07 February, 2009

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    Dzongkha by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    Imagine yourself at a temple in the mountains, where incense wafts into the open air and a cool fountain flows over grey stones. L'Artisan claims that Bertrand Duchaufour had such a setting in mind when he made Dzongha (specifically, a Bhutanese Buddhist temple), and for once the company hype matches the product exactly. Wear Dzongha to re-create the peaceful, meditative mood of a an outdoor temple anywhere, anytime! This unsual fragrace smells of clean wet stones, iris, incense and woods. It's powdery, but also airy and not the least bit heavy. Behind the more dominant notes is something green and cool, almost menthol. The fragrance is linear, changeing little from start to finish, although it becomes a bit sweeter as it dries down. The only incense fragrance I've tried that is not in the least bit smokey. Altogether marvelous. Wear it, and feel the troubles of this world fade away.

    06 February, 2009 (Last Edited: 15 September, 2009)

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    Divine by Divine

    A good choice for a woman who wants to project elegance and confidence. It starts with a very strong, sharp floral blast. For about the first hour, it smells like detergent on the skin, but very pleasant in the air. Gradually, it mellows and becomes sweeter and less soapy on skin. Good sillage and long-lasting. It's the kind of fragrance that I picture someone wearing in an evening gown. In fact, just wearing it makes me feel like I'm in an evening gown, even if I'm wearing jeans and hooded sweatshirt. Very good, but too conservative for my taste.

    06 February, 2009

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    Dzing! by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    Starts out with a blast of rubbery leather, then gives off the scent of animal dung, all right if you're into that sort of thing, but I would not recommend it on a date. Luckily, the animal dung only last a few minutes, then it smells like leather again. Gradually, the rubber-leather mellows to the scent of old leather, old paper and vanilla. Luca Turin compares it to the smell of a used-book store, a smell I am very familiar with, having worked in such a place. It's a comforting scent, but also musty, dusty and too vanilla for my taste. I give it points for daring, but I don't get much pleasure out of it.

    02 February, 2009

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    Thé Pour un Été by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    If there is such a thing as photorealism in fragrance, this one has it. The Pour un Ete smells exactly like the the best jasmine tea, perhaps just a touch more floral. After about twenty minutes, the tea fades and it becomes pure jasmine. Very pretty, but it does not compare witht the classics of the floral-tea genre, Bulgari The Vert and Tommy Girl, both of which cost less.

    02 February, 2009

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    Dune by Christian Dior

    Wearing Dune transports me to a windswept beach at dusk. I imagine myself standing alone, looking out over the surf toward the darkening sky, with the sunset behind me. Dune has all the melancholy beauty of such a moment--melancholy, but also warm and comforting. I'm not sure exactly what it is in this fresh, woody oriental that makes me think of the beach (something saline?), but the image always occures to me, even with the smallest whiff.

    Dune begins with anisic,bitter notes on top of honey. If you can imagine bitter honey, this is it. The dry-down is ambery and resinous, with good staying power and sillage throughout. A classic.

    01st February, 2009

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    Odalisque by Parfums de Nicolaï

    Patricia de Nicolai has a gift for fragrances that radiate quiet confidence. Not the kind of confidence that needs to announce itself, but the kind that stands patient and serene, secure in the knowledge that others will notice and appriciate its merits. Odalisque does not shout, but it makes its presence known--and what a beautiful, elegant presence it is!

    It begins with a lovely, braceing burst of florals, with a strong jasmine note. It soon becomes a bit soapy on the skin, but far more pleasant in the air. (I get more compliments for this than for any other perfume I currently wear.) The soapiness quiets down, giving way to a mossy, slightly vanilla dry-down. Behind the more conventional notes is something animal and almost greasy, like castor oil, that gives an intrigueing edge to the composition.

    For me and Odalisque, it was love at first sight. The sample vial so enchanted me that I ordered a full bottle before the vial was half empty, something I haven't done before or since. Try only if you're ready to fall in love yourself.

    30th January, 2009

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    Citizen Queen by Juliette Has a Gun

    Citizen Queen opens with a peculiar rubbery-leather-floral accord. Within a minute or so the leather takes over the rubber, and it becomes sweeter and somewhat soapy, with a fleshy undertone. The company calls this a chypre, but I don't detect the anything like the mossy woods of the genre. It dries down to an intriguing scent that is both meaty and cool, by which I mean that the first moments of a deep inhalation are sweet and meaty, but the final moments are almost menthol-cool. Excellent longevity. Very good and quite unusual, but at a price of $105 for 50ml, I expect something more.

    28 January, 2009

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    Yatagan by Caron

    For a woman--or at least for this woman--exploring masculine fragrances is a bit like dating. Most contenders make an agreeable first impression, but either don't stick around, or beome too dull too stick with. Some are men who you would marry--depependable, elegant, smart, rich and strong. (If some miraculous alchemy could transform Eau Savage into a man, I would marry him sight unseen.) Then there are the ones you would have an affair with--sexy and exciting but also a bit dangerous and not someone you'd want to be around all the time--men like Yatagan. It has the boldest, brashest, butchest opening I've yet encountered, a blast of lavender, wormwood and something resinous, almost urinous. It quiets down (relatively speaking) to a woody, herbal and very animalic scent with good staying power.

    The very butchness of Yatagan is, IMHO, why women ought to try it. We all know that notions of masculinity and femininity in frgrance are just so much culturally ingrained nonsense, right? Come on, ladies, fight the power! (If you don't feel like fighting the power, Yatagan will induce the feeling, believe me.) I would totally fall for a guy who wore this, but, alas, I've never met one. So, I'll just have to wear it myself.


    28 January, 2009

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    L'Eau D'Issey by Issey Miyake

    Like legions of young women, I fell in love with this fragrance in the early 90s. Back then, it seemed an aquatic-floral dream, like a crystal-clear pond full of lilies. Now, it seems dated. The floral-Calone mixture still pleases, but it does not engage We may need another 10 or 20 years to look at it afresh. If it's still around. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for it, but I've moved on.

    28 January, 2009

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    Green Tea by Elizabeth Arden

    Feels like a downmarket rip-off of Bulgari's The Vert, which came out around the same time. A relic of the circa 2000 fashion for tea fragrances that holds no interest today.

    28 January, 2009

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    Warm Cotton by Clean

    What's the point of the Clean line? If you want to smell like soap, just take a shower. It's a lot cheaper. I'll give Warm Cotton credit for living up to its name. It smells like fresh-from-the-dryer laundry, but why would a human being want to smell like laundry? The pleasure of breathing in the air out of the dryer comes as much from the warmth as from the scent itself. Here you get none of the comforitng warmth, just the chemical scent of detergent. Please, skip this and just take that shower.

    27 January, 2009

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    Safran Troublant by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    Begins with a lovely accord of powdery rose and saffron. The dry-down, however, is disapoining, a typical vanilla-pudding gourmand. Nothing offensive, but nothing exciting either.

    27 January, 2009

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    Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido

    Amber always smells good, but it can get boring on it's own. Ambre Sultan keeps things interesting with herbal notes that last longer than usual for an oriental. At the top, the herbs have a sharp, almost peppery character. Then, in the middle, they become vegetal and a bit smokey, with a bit of saltiness. That wonderful middle has the comforting feel of amber underneith the outdoorsy herbs. In the dry-down, Ambre Sultan becomes less interesting, with a more conventional vanilla-amber-balsam smell. Still, it smells great throughout and is a good choice for anyone tired of generic ambery orientals.

    27 January, 2009

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    Angel by Thierry Mugler

    Angel is the one scent which I love, but would never buy for myself. It's too big, too intoxicating, and too loud for anything except a black-tie ball or a red-carpet walk, and I'm unlikely to be in either situation. A big, expansive scent like this requires a big, expansive personality to carry it off. Otherwise, it wears you instaed of you wearing it. I have many memories of smelling this on various women in the 90s, but I have no memories of the women themselves. Not a face, not a name, nothing comes to mind except that chocolate-strawberry-patchouli perfume. Take care if you wear this in public. You want to be remembered for you, not for your perfume

    27 January, 2009

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    Jovan Musk by Jovan

    I expected a cheap, cheerful musk. I got a cheap, boring floral. The copy on the box promises to increase your "sex appeal," but this stuff is about as sexy as last week's mashed potatoes.

    27 January, 2009

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    Elle by Yves Saint Laurent

    The name should start with an H.

    25 January, 2009

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