Perfume Reviews

Reviews by manicboy

Total Reviews: 238

Replica Jazz Club by Martin Margiela

The rum accord in the opening is quite nice. Things take a turn for the worse when the cheap tobacco and vanilla/amber basenotes arrive. Could be a textbook example of everything wrong with men's fragrances circa 2017 - a safe, boring woody amber. When did men's fragrances get emasculated? 2005? Replica could've taken a page from the discontinued Escada Homme and done something more interesting with rum and vanilla. Sigh....

21st July, 2017

The One for Men Eau de Parfum by Dolce & Gabbana

At first spritz, I think, "I've smelled this one before?!?!?!" Yep, dead ringer for Replica Jazz Club. Spicy, woody sweetened tobacco. And Jazz Club wasn't that great either. The world didn't need Jazz Club and it certainly doesn't need TOfM EdP. Safe, derivative, and utterly boring. Avoid.

21st July, 2017

Ungaro pour L'Homme II by Ungaro

I bought this blind around 2010. Long discontinued, I was expecting something animalic and a ďcivet above the restĒ. I can confirm that U2 is animalic and is a ďcivet about the restĒ. I never understood the Guerlain Jicky connotations because I never smelled Jicky until after I received U2.

The opening is big lavender and light orange/neroli. The citrus notes get subdued by the lavender in a matter of minutes. Iím initially reminded of the lavender in Caron PuH. Itís that big and powerful but never overpowering. The civet creeps in like a cat to give U2 its claws. The civet is certainly animalic but it doesnít ever veer too close to the wrong end of the cat, if you know what I mean. The proportion is just right.

With the civet and lavender still creeping around, vanilla comes in to lighten the load a touch. My only complaint is that the base is a bit weak and U2 doesnít last beyond 4 hours. Maybe age has weakened the basenotes so I can give U2 some slack in this area. I would also add that U2 is very unisex and ladies who tire of Jicky may seek out U2 on the vintage market.

23rd May, 2017
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Ungaro pour L'Homme III by Ungaro

I actually received this years ago in a trade and didnít like it. Too dense, too peppery..and that stinking rose! My, how the tide has turned and gone out.
Feeling adventurous, I ventured out of Ebay and picked up a vintage bottle for cheap. All the elements that I hated initially now smell wonderful. Complete 180 degree turnaround.

The opening foray of black pepper and lavender is rather simple. Slowly the rose and vodka emerge, like a Russian on Valentineís Day. Very unique and Iím hard pressed to find anything like it. Itís dark, itís floral and itís dense. The base of cloves and sandalwood round this out. I have the think U3 has suffered from reformulation to due constraints on rose and sandalwood over the years.

That said, I think Zino and perhaps Montale Black Aoud do a better job as dark, floral and gothic. Still, vintage U3 is worthy to seek out.

23rd May, 2017

Cuir by LancŰme

Heaven bent for leather? Yes! Spicy, floral, light leather. Canít say thereís a lot of those floating about. More like a soft suede glove dropped in an garden in India. Thereís also a touch of sweetness in the base to boot. I like wearing this one especially in the heat in the summer. Leans a touch to the ladies side but confident men can easily pull this off.

Lancomeís best and one of my favorite leather-based fragrances.

31st January, 2017

Jazz Prestige by Yves Saint Laurent

Hard to classify. The notes listed donít help either as I can detect only Geranium. I donít get any Mint, Apple or Bergamot. There may be some Sandalwood but clearly, the Rosewood is anchoring the base. Itís great, reminding me a bit of Zino and Equipage. Regarding the top & mid notes, I get the lavender, leather and geranium thatís in normal Jazz but for Jazz Prestige they added a great Rosewood base. Thereís also some oak moss which adds to the complexity of the base.

YSL JP is a great fragrance of another era and if you can track a bottle down for under $100 USD, itís well worth the splurge.

30th January, 2017

Passion for Men by Elizabeth Taylor

Cheaply constructed oriental fragrance but ETPM does have its charms. At first glance, it reminds me crude version of YSLís Opium for Men. ETPM is lighter than Opium and has a nice incense-like note. Thereís much better fragrances in this vein out there but ETPM remains a cheap thrill.

27th January, 2017

Carven Homme by Carven

The long forgotten Carven Homme, only known to fragrance enthusiasts. In a word, CH is wonderful. Embodies adjectives like seductive, fresh, complex, and smooth. You can practically wax lyrical all day over it.

The opening is awash in carnation, lavender and ginger. Floral but masculine. Smells a lot like the brilliant Gucci Envy for Men which is a wondrous thing as Envy is also discontinued but goes for hundreds of dollars on Ebay. CH moves into a heart of vetiver, cedar and rosewood. Iím reminded of the exquisite Davidoff Zino and its wonderful rosewood note. Thereís also some sweetness from the tonka & vanilla but itís all so subtle. CH is so well constructed sometimes you just have to sit back and enjoy the good vapors coming off your skin.

CH shouldíve been a huge hit and still in production but it was not be. As such, it remains a private joy to the select few.

26th January, 2017

Tobacco Oud by Tom Ford

Words of warning Ė this is a heavy fragrance and a heavy finger on the trigger could be lethal. Even in small amounts, I find TO hard to tolerate. A thick, dense, animalic fog of Oud (similar to Diorís Leather Oud) punches your nose. While Iím game for many animalic fragrances, I just canít get past the opening. The tobacco shortly joins the Oud and the aroma grows tamer but not much. Other than those two accords, I canít smell much else. It seems to me that they mixed the two biggest slugs they could find of Oud and Tobacco together and called it a day. Iím a big fan of Tommyís Tobacco Vanille which is much more than the sum of its parts but Tobacco Oud just smells lazy and unforgiving in the worst possible way.

13th January, 2017

Wonderwood by Comme des GarÁons

CdG WW was supposed to be the ultimate wood fragrance. I must admit Iím a bit disappointed by it given all the hype (and price).

I detect 3 basic wood notes: Cashmeran, Cedar (Iso-E Super) & Black Pepper. The first blast of WW yields the blur of Cashmeran. Cashmeran smells like soft powdery wood. I find the Cashmeran dominates throughout the life of WW. I guess Iím not much of fan of the Cashmeran note. I also get Black Pepper (light) and Cedar (moderate) which seems pretty common place in menís frags. And thatís basically where WW ends for me. Oud? Sandalwood? Vetiver? Incense? Not to my nose. Iím content to get my ďWonderwoodĒ fix with CdG 2 Man.

12th January, 2017

Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior

Iconic in its stature and been around for ages. I have a vintage version before the Oak Moss was stripped out. ES is soft, warm and inviting. Classic Eau du Cologne structure with more emphasis on the herbs (Rosemary and Basil) than most. Like most EdCís, it doesnít last (about 3 hours). I find the base a bit lacking but perhaps that comes with the EdC territory. Thereís better EdCís out there, namely Acqua di Parmaís Colonia & Assoluta but ES is still worthy of attention.

24th October, 2016

Trussardi Uomo (original) by Trussardi

Living large in the Ď80s! Whatever you associate TU with (gold chains, clubbing, Italian Uncle), you canít deny itís a time capsule in a bottle. It had a tremendous power associated with it. There will be no prisonerís taken while wearing TU. It was so powerful that the European Union essentially classified it as a dangerous substance and has since banned pretty much in it that made it a threat.

TU commences with a slug of myrtle, sage and lemon. The opening is forceful and unique. I canít think of any Italian power scents quite like this. Azzaro PH? Different beast. Fendi Uomo? Different beast. Versace LíHomme? Similar but not as beastly.

The next and final phase enters into what I call ďbeast-modeĒ. Big leather, wild oak moss, and untamed patchouli. Itís a beast alright but lovely in a brutal sort of wayÖlike Frankenstein. I donít detect any incense or cedar but theyíre not really necessary.

In the end, TU proudly occupied its place on the dance floor and itís a shame it has been banned/discontinued. Long may it live, forever in the nostrils of those who ďlivedĒ it.

20th October, 2016

M7 Oud Absolu by Yves Saint Laurent

Truth in advertising Ė this is not an ďAbsoluĒ version of M7. I have the original (vintage!) M7 and have done a side-by-side comparison. Absolu is much tamer and weaker than the original. Both have the fleeting Bergamot/Mandarin topnotes immediately followed by the prickly Oud note. Where they deviate is in the drydown. The original had a gorgeous musk/amber drydown that lasted for days. Absoluís drydown has no musk and the amber is weaker, lasting only 3-4 hours. That said, Absolu is a highly satisfying excursion and is recommended.

20th October, 2016
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Rococo Homme by Joop!

This was released in 2002 and was a little ahead of its time. Peppery incense with a nice woody/amber base. Nowadays, very common but back in 2002 it was a novelty. Pre-dated the great Gucci PH by 1 year but was clearly influenced by it. JRH has been discontinued just like Gucci PH but there are other fragrances (CdG 2Man & Opus 1870, come to mind) that are better and still available.

14th October, 2016

Cologne du 68 by Guerlain

Throw everything in the kitchen sink and see how it smells! Sort of curious template for a fragrance, given Guerlainís reputation for being a leader in quality and original fragrances. It couldíve been a disaster but if you think thereís 68 distinct notes/oils (synth or otherwise) in here, Iíve got some land on the New Orleans floodplain to sell you. It couldíve been a disaster but itís rather nice. Opening is a mťlange of green stems/leaves, citrus, pink pepper and violet notes. Then the battle starts Ė which note will dominate before the Guerlainade shows up. Yes, you heard that right, Guerlainade! At times, it smells like they mixed in LIDGph & Heritage (Anise/citrus & Pink Pepper) but 68 never equals either. The Guerlainade is lighter and weaker than both aforementioned. Further, Praline dominates the Guerlainade instead of Vanilla. But it works on some level - mainly as a lighter unisex Guerlain that is perfect for spring/summer wearing.

27th September, 2016

Tea for Two by L'Artisan Parfumeur

What is a tea one should never drink? T42! My first comment is the tea in question is not your Earl Grey, Lipton or Green tea variety. No, this is the smoky, gun-fired Lapsang Souchong from China. Iím somewhat surprised nobody had attempted a fragrance with Lapsang Souchong in it (maybe they have and I just donít know it). Lapsang would seem an obvious choice due to its complex aroma. But thereís a lot more going on in T42 than the Lapsang.

T42 opens with guns blazing, quite literally, as the Lapsang Souchong fires away. The burning campfire in the tea fields of China enraptures your nose. Striking to say the least. The spice route through Asia begins as the cinnamon and ginger emerge to give the smoky tea some spice. Both work as a great bridge to the base of vanilla and tobacco. The vanilla and tobacco combine into a powerful force that takes no prisoners. Very Intense and seems to grow stronger by the hour. On paper, T42 seems like a no brainer, but to actually put this together and smell great all along the journey is a grand achievement.

02nd September, 2016

Le M‚le Terrible by Jean Paul Gaultier

Nice variation on the original Le Male. LMT adds some grapefruit and pink peppercorn to the mix and tones down the vanilla and lavender.

25th August, 2016

L'Instant de Guerlain pour Homme ExtrÍme / Eau de Parfum by Guerlain

LIDGE is pretty much the same as LIDG except for slightly toned-down citrus and the Guerlainade is amped up a bit. Great as an alternative to LIDG in the colder months.

25th August, 2016

L'Instant de Guerlain pour Homme by Guerlain

LIDG, as itís affectionately abbreviated, is notable for a few reasons. First, it owes a heavy influence to Pierre Cardinís (for men) clever use of lemony citrus buttressed against a mossy and sweet vanilla base. Secondly, it paved a way for Guerlainís masculine fragrances, bringing the stodgy brand to the modern man. Grandpa can have his Heritage & Habit Rouge but Junior can have LIDG!

LIDG start out with a soft and bright citrus accord, smelling like a grove of lemon trees. The Star Anise joins the lemons, bringing to it a touch of spice so that the lemon doesnít get bored. Iím hard pressed to smell any the listed floral notes as the Guerlainade (warm cocoa, vanilla & patchouli) takes over. If there ever was a classic plush accord, then this is it.

LIDG is not only one the best menís scents from Guerlain, it also stands up as one of the best in the genre.

25th August, 2016

A*Men Pure Wood by Thierry Mugler

When you name a fragrance, ďPure WoodĒ, the question arises, ďYeah, and what else?Ē APW sidesteps previous Amen flankers fragrances by doing two things Ė eschewing conventional notes and doesnít utilize the Amen base to much effect. First, it doesnít use a traditional wood base (cedar, sandalwood or oud nowadays) and introduces the little used Oak note to great effect. Itís not as woody as cedar or oud but itís certainly woodier than sandalwood. The oak is conjoined with cypress, giving it a piney vibe. This is all apparent in the opening and mid-notes. As it matures, a dry and bitter patchouli/coffee accord emerges (Amen base light). Also, tonka is found as well. Not an overtly complex scent at all. Iím reminded of DSquaredís wonderful HeWood at times and in my opinion, APW of the best Amen flankers.

24th August, 2016

A*Men : Les Parfums de Cuir / Pure Leather by Thierry Mugler

APL is probably more interesting in the perfumerís head than when set upon paper or skin. Take the Amen base of coffee, cocoa, and patchouli and tack on the driest and most austere leather/birch tar accord and magic will happen! Unfortunately, the Amen base is pretty dry by itself and then the leather is dropped in. It leaves you gasping for air and begs for some sort of balance Ė maybe more sweetness or citrus or something. Clearly, something is missing. Maybe some Oud would say this! That said, itís certainly an interesting disaster and I canít bring myself to rate it negatively so that leaves me indifferent.

22nd August, 2016

A*Men Pure Malt by Thierry Mugler

A fragrance based on the concept of single malt scotch. Should I drink it or wear it? Iím not a scotch drinker so perhaps Iíll wear it. Does it really smell like scotch? Not really, but I would add that the ďMaltĒ note is certainly interesting and unique. There is a fruity vibe in the beginning before the booze hits, like eating the maraschino cherry before taking a sip of a Manhattan. Dry, austere, with hints of smoke and wood. Itís definitely been crafted in the test tube and set upon the sweet vanilla notes of Amen. In the end, itís a definite winner.

18th August, 2016

Black Jeans by Versace

VBJ is a very interesting fragrance. The official notes listed really donít add up IMHO. I detect anise at first blast and Birch tar on the drydown and not much else. There may be patchouli too. Geranium? Nutmeg? Ginger? Donít think so. That said, the anise and birch tar combine wonderfully to remind me of the mighty YSL Rive Gauche Pour Homme. Not a copy per se but more of a flanker.

08th August, 2016

Habit Rouge by Guerlain

Habit Rouge (EdT)
This is an unmitigated disaster. The mix is all wrong. Pungent & rotten citrus gives way to animalic vanilla. Ugly, overbearing and downright awful Ė Donald Trump in a nutshell. Gave me a headache within the hour. Hard to believe anybody wears this. Fortunately, the EdC & EdP get the balance right.

Habit Rouge (EdC)
I have the vintage juice. Donít think Guerlain still make this but itís extraordinary. Complex, light and slightly weird citrus open the affair. Slowly the animalic leather/vanilla emerge but the tiger is tame and never gets out his cage. Every accord and note falls perfectly into place. Wear it on a sunny day and feel its golden aura.

Habit Rouge (EdP)
I have the vintage leather-bound juice. HR EdP is all about the Oud which for me is the perfect progression into modern perfumery. I give Guerlain a lot of credit for putting out an Oud-based fragrance before the Oud bandwagon started moving. The opening is very similar to the EdC Ė complex and slightly weird citrus. In the drydown, the Oud joins the leather and vanilla to strike one mighty accord that lasts for days. Would give Montalesí juices a run for their longevity. In some ways, it does resemble something from Montale and turns the ďGuerlainadeĒ on its side. Adding Oud to the HR formula was a genius move and years ahead of its time.
17th June, 2016

Impact Pour un Homme by Caron

So this is what happens when you take Caron Pour un Homme and pump him with steroids, have him life weights all day and pound protein shakes. Definitely more concentrated but I detect a less-but-smoother lavender accord and a stronger vanilla & musk drydown. I actually prefer this to the original.

12th May, 2016

Sander for Men by Jil Sander

JSfM is a low-key, casual fragrance perfect for long, strenuous bike rides. Leafy violet and mint intermingle in the pleasant opening. Slowly gives way to the spice route Ė cardamom & pepper. The base reads like a niche fragrance Ė myrrh, labdanum, incense, but itís really nothing like that. This is JSfMís weakest aspect Ė itís not very coherent and all I can detect is a weak synthetic wood accord. Still, Iím not dissuade from JSfM. I just save it for those long bike rides.

12th May, 2016

Devin by Aramis

Iím shocked for two reasons Ė Devin is still made and itís still great. Donít quite know who buys this anymore but it may have a cult following and you can count me in that cult too. Definitely influenced by Halstonís Z-14, Bernard Chant pushed Devin further by taking the Amber-meets-Leather-meets-Oak Moss base of Z-14 and adding in a resinous Pine note combined with a distinct Carnation note. Devin could be the love child of Z-14 and Polo Green but it never feels heavy-hitting like those two can be. It seems to quietly occupy its own space thatís perfect for wearing on a cold winter day.

26th April, 2016

Moustache by Rochas

Take it away immediately! I can't take it anymore. Most definitely the most powdery men's fragrance I've ever smelled. A gigantic, bitter cloud of citrus, moss and vanilla. I'm talking about the vintage version too. Would've been great in the 1800's but it's 2016 and I can't wear this nor can I imagine anyone else.

30th March, 2016

Globe by Rochas

If youíre looking for vintage Chanel Antaeus, why not consider Rochas Globe? I have a few iterations of vintage Antaeus and Globeís dry-down is surprisingly identical. But more on that later.

Globe begins the party with one of the most spice-laden openings you will find. Heavy with Artemisia, Coriander and light Bergamot; Globe immediately dates itself as a Ď80s fragrance. The problem is it came out in 1990. Out of step and fashion, certainly. The journey progresses from the spice cabinet to the garden and what a wonderful journey it is! Floral bouquets of Carnations, Geranium, light Rose, and subtle pine surround your senses. Outside of Givenchyís Insense, which I donít care for, this could be the most floral masculine fragrance Iíve ever encountered. But hereís the key, itís all gentleman and nowhere is a lady in sight. Then the powerful Antaeus drydown begins Ė cedar, leather, sandalwood and a dose of labdanum. Clearly manly territory here and the movement from the garden to the den never seems forced or harsh but all very natural.

Globe, though discontinued, is widely available and pretty reasonably priced at that. How can you go wrong? You owe it to yourself to try Globe and let the magic unfold.

30th March, 2016

Polo Modern Reserve by Ralph Lauren

A welcomed variation on the mighty Polo. Instead of Poloís balsam pine, MR goes deep with juniper though itís strangely not listed on the notes. MR amps ups the leather on the drydown and dials down the patchouli. Itís just as powerful as Polo though. The leather is more modern, like the one found in Hermesí Bel Ami. Lauren lists some strange notes (Cardamom Co2? Liquid Jasmine? Sueded Leather?), but who cares when itís this good. One of the best ever from RL but itís sadly discontinued.

29th March, 2016