Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Justin Case

Total Reviews: 128

Moroccan Fig by Malin + Goetz

I'm starting to think that I am, perhaps, the most exhausted seeker of a true fig scent - one that transports me to the shade of a fig tree upon first whiff. My conclusion after smelling literally tens of fig samples from old to new to cheap to niche: No one has done it yet. No one even got close enough to making me smile in olfactory satisfaction. This is so disappointing to me, but should also be very inticing to a new perfumer in search of a market breach: make that true fig scent and yours will be the glory of succeeding at what no one has done in the history of perfumery. There is a open gap in the perfume market and it's still wide open as far as I'm concerned.

One day I will grow up to become a millionaire and I'll place a bounty on the illusive scent of a fig tree.

As usual, I was hopeful when I read the few reviews on Moroccan Fig on Fragrantica. Some described it as "deeply moving" and others did not like it because it was too much like a fig tree and not enough like a person. Could it be my long sought after scent? I hoped and dreamed and, as usual, was filled with anticipation when I received my sample from the nice lady at Nordstrom who shipped it to me.

And as usual, I was disappointed. Moroccan Fig screams in every moment of its life on my skin that it's just another take, another attempt, another stumble. It's as if the world of perfumers is simply impotent and helpless when it comes to the fig tree. I really hope and pray that no perfumer would congratulate themselves on their fig recreation thinking that they're fooling anyone. You're not even close.

Moroccan Fig completely forgets about what makes the scent of a fig tree so sought after: the crisp, bright, jolly quality that makes fig trees and sunshine come together in everyone's mind as if they're twins. This is overly, unnecessarily subdued and humiliated, making it smell more like coconuts and lipstick than anything, with an incessant ashy quality that tries to replicate the fuzz on fig leaves but only replicates the disgust that I felt with Phylosikos and all the other figs.

My search will probably continue forever.
06th May, 2017

Fig Tree by Sonoma Scent Studio

Fig scents can never escape being exposed for the coconut they contain. Fig Tree is no exception, but it makes up for it by its natural composition and clever addition of green notes to better mimic fig trees. Fig Tree does not have the soapy dry down of Philosykos, which makes it better than Philosykos to my nose. I'm very close to adopting this as my one fig scent.

Not much woods here - mainly green fig leaves and fruits. The opening reminds me a little of Grey Flannel, which is a good thing.
20th June, 2015

Forest Walk by Sonoma Scent Studio

This is a nice scent, but there is no forest here. The middle phase smells like what I can only describe as black tea boiling in a kettle with a hint of spices. The dry down is very reminiscent of Lagerfield's classic Lagerfield for men. Basically an older gentleman's scent.
19th June, 2015
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Private Collection - Bois Naufragé by Parfumerie Generale

This is the second PG I tried and I cannot help but feel that the perfumer is unable to hide the chemical quality of his creations. The fig here is laced with an obvious face makeup (blush powder) note, making this too unnatural smelling for a fig and too feminine to my nose.
12th June, 2015

Siskiyou by Juniper Ridge

A cardamom bomb with coniferous sap. Projection is surprisingly good for an EdC but longevity is poor.

Natural perfumes are quite susciptible to batch variation so it's possible that I just got a bad batch, but whatever I got smells like a spice mix, not much like a hike in the woods.
12th June, 2015

3# Nota Di Viaggio - Ciavuru d'Amuri by Meo Fusciuni

This is decidedly feminine to my nose. At first sniff, I thought: "soap". Then I looked at the notes, saw jasmine and fig and thought: "I guess that's how you make a soap scent".
11th June, 2015

Vanitas by Profumum

A sweet, light vanilla with not much depth and no woods to my nose. Perhaps slightly more feminine than masculine. Doesn't smell natural enough for me to recommend it.
11th June, 2015

Ambra Aurea by Profumum

Pure, strong, very long lasting amber (not ambergris). If you're an amber fan, you should try this.

The notes can simply be stated as "amber" or broken down into the constituents of amber: vailla, benzoin, and labdanum. That pretty much sums up Ambra Aurea, with extreme projection and longevity.

If I ever have to wear Ambra Aurea, I would wear no more than one dab on the tip of my finger, otherwise I can see myself getting quite lethargic with a full spray.
11th June, 2015

Ichnusa by Profumum

One of the acceptable fig scents out there. Not very natural smelling, which is why I decided not to buy it. Philosykos succeeds in evoking a much more natural fig in the opening but its dry down is almost pure soap to my nose. Ichnusa opens with a strange sweet chemical fig but the dry down is more true to the opening than Philosykos. Worth sampling.
11th June, 2015

Fiore d'Ambra by Profumum

I don't see where the confusion on this fragrance is coming from. To me it's simply Amber (perfumer's amber, not ambergris) and carnations. Slightly more feminine than masculine IMO.
11th June, 2015

Mahogany Woods by Bath and Body Works

A nice soothing nighttime vanilla with great longevity and projection from just 2 sprays. Most people who smelled it on me said there's a clear presence of woods but to me it's mainly vanilla.

Great for the price and works for experimentation with layering. It's described as masculine on the box but can easily be worn by a woman IMO. Definitely worth checking out.
20th May, 2015

Ninféo Mio by Annick Goutal

At first sniff, it's clear to me that this is a fig scent. Therefore, I will judge it based on how well it achieved its figginess.

The purpose here seems to be replication of a meditteranean garden with fig and citrus trees. The citrus notes help tremendously, but sadly the fig accord is not a very realistic one. I could easily tell that it was a benzoin or perhaps a massoia substitution.

Sorry, Annick Goutal, but Philosykos still wins.
16th May, 2015

Monsieur Balmain (new) by Pierre Balmain

This could have been a great lemon scent. The main reason I will not buy this is the protracted cheap sandalwood note that resembles BO.

The interesting thing is that after that cheap BOness goes away, the lemon returns in a nice way - close to the skin but still wafting every few minutes and making itself noticeable. This is unusual for a citrus accord.

If MB did not have the sandalwood note and just settled for the lemons, it would have been my quintessential lemon scent for such a great price.
16th May, 2015
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Acqua Viva by Profumum

This fragrance finally achieved what many others could not: a strong citrus fragrance with good longevity, a lemon that stays fresh and lemony for hours without giving way to a base that changes its direction.

Apparently this has been an illusive goal for many perfumers, with Eau d'Hadrien coming close to achieving it, albeit with less longevity. Profumum nailed it here. This is lemony satisfaction in a form that will stay loyal to you all hot summer day.

The secret to this lemon longevity? I'm not sure, but perhaps something as simple as jacking up the concentration. It sprays oily like you spritzed essential oils on your skin, which comes close to justifying the price tag without actually justifying it.

There is a mild flowery softness that kicks in after the first few minutes, giving AV a slight sweetness, but it only serves to augment the realism of lemons. There's also a very mild earthy tone that just makes the concoction more endearing. The cedar and musk base doesn't make much of an appearance on my skin.

This just might be the perfect companion for hot humid summer days.
16th May, 2015

Oranges and Lemons say the bells of St Clement's by Heeley

This is a thoughtful composition of mainly citruses, neroli, and the creative combination of ylang ylang and vetiver at the base. The opening is a fresh lemon blast made a little sharp by the petitgrain.

I start noticing the vetiver about 5 minutes later, with the neroli and ylang ylang making it almost feel like a spice. This vetiver is a clean, lifeless one almost borrowed from Etro's Vetiver.

Therefore, the resulting dry down to me is literally Etro's Vetiver plus neroli. This is not a bad thing. In fact, it is quite innovative and unique. The problem for me is that this dry down is not a welcoming one. It feels desolate and lonely like an old memory of being lost as a child.

Try it. You may love it. If not, you just might appreciate it.
16th May, 2015

O/E by Bogue Profumo

The opening here is a harsh mix of citruses and pine/juniper berry. The rest of the time, O/E is dominated by a clever dirty animalic rendering made possible by combining benzoin with lavender and resins to create a strong leather illusion that stays throughout the life of the scent. Longevity and projection are great. However, O/E has an old powdery predilection that makes it very reminiscent of "old man" fragrances. If you're like me and you have an aversion to older scents, beware.
16th May, 2015

Oud Ispahan by Christian Dior

A classical oud with not much to offer in terms of creativity.

That said, it smells like good quality stuff and it has the Dior name. I see this a a great gift for an oud lover. Longevity and projection are great. Definitely a night scent to me.
30th April, 2015

Jardin d'Amalfi by Creed

I agree with the reviewer who said JdA is bursting with life. That's what this fragrance is about: a garden full of good energy. Many fragrances claim to capture a garden scent but few succeed as much as JdA.

The opening is a strong lemony-mandarin citrus with florals - perhaps rose and neroli. I can pick up the vetiver immediately and into the dry down, which is a slightly woody earthy one with the neroli and rose still dominating.

I think I need to address the perceived projection issue with this fragrance. This is a scent for which people will go anosmic pretty quickly due to the intensity of the opening, so they may feel like it lost its projection within an hour. Not so. The projection of JdA is excellent. Try spraying a person with it, leave them for a couple of hours, and come back and you'll know what I'm talking about. Although you may feel that you need to spray a lot, you may want to start with just 2 sprays to avoid projecting too much and not realizing it.

Longevity is perhaps a weak point here. 4 hours is probably the most you'll get out of the 2 strongly projecting sprays. I'd carry a small decant to keep it fresh.

More feminine than masculine to my nose. Thankfully, my wife loves it so I get to smell it on her quite a bit.
30th April, 2015

Knize Ten Golden Edition by Knize

It's unfortunate tha this fragrance could not escape the association with bug spray to my nose. Bug spray at the opening, bug spray in the middle, and dry bug spray at the dry down. Makes me wish I never smelled bug spray so that I can have a more objective opinion.
28th March, 2015

Bayolea by Penhaligon's

Any aspiring "lumbersexual" should try this. The pine and lemongrass combo makes a man blend seamlessly into a lumberyard after mowing grass.

To me, Bayolea is reminiscent of climbing on a grapevine pergola and picking unripe grapes, with their sour, seedy taste, which I used to do as a kid. Add to that the mature mix of patchouli, cedar, and pine, and the result is quite transportive. It's very clean, which is why some reviews describe it as soapy. But then again, there's a soap that smells like any given scent.

If there's a con, it's probably that sillage could be better.
27th March, 2015 (last edited: 18th June, 2015)

Jardin du Poete by Eau d'Italie

A vibrant citrus green opening bursting with life, followed by a calmed-down tomato leaf and basil resembling a cucumber mediterranean salad. More masculine than feminine. With its envigorating, sunny predilection, It would be perfect for playing an outdoor sport.

The only con is that it smells too familiar to me. I bet there are many cheap frags that open just like it, but probably don't perform as well.

I guess the other con is that it's priced like an EDP when it's actually EDT.
27th March, 2015

Tea for Two by L'Artisan Parfumeur

This starts with an intense mix of spices with a woddy background. I could smell strong black tea, but also anise seed, and cloves with a vague smokey note. Unfortunately, the dry down matches pipe tobacco to my nose. Pure, simple pipe tobacco :(
27th March, 2015

Leather Oud by Christian Dior

Starts off with mostly a raw, unrefined oud and a chemical leather like leather that has just come out of being cured, with all the processing chemicals still on. That said, it's not a terrible start. The middle is mostly oud and barnyard. The dry down is pure barnyard. It's guaranteed to plant your mind firmly among a thousand goats.

I think that this fragrance is about scent memory. If you happened to have smelled a barn and you have the association in your mind between civet and unpleasant things, you will probably dislike this fragrance like most people do. I think that people who like this fragrance probably were never exposed to a barnyard smell and therefore are lacking the aforementioned mental association. They're lucky because they would love LO, but perhaps not so lucky because people around them won't.

Mark my words: this so-called fragrance will not last before it's discontinued. If you like it, buy it now while it's here. It can be useful to wear with a cowboy costume, or to pull a prank on somebody, but certainly not to smell or feel good.
27th March, 2015

Pomélo Paradis by Atelier Cologne

A sweet pomelo blast which lasts into the heart notes.

The great thing about this scent is that it's double faceted. It caters to my desire of wearing a strong, bold, realistic pomelo in the morning before I get to work, then it transforms into a pleasant, slightly woody/masculine citrus by the time I'm at work just so it doesn't smell like I rubbed pomelo peel all over myself.

Great scent. Will probably buy it.
22nd March, 2015

Vetiver by Etro

If you like vetiver for its own sake, this one is worth exploring. To me, however, I couldn't help but detect a synthetic, almost acetone-like note here in Etro's attempt to "clean up" vetiver and give it a dry edge. This vetiver is not very welcoming. It's a carpeted hallway in an empty corporate building at night with the lights still on after everyone has left. You could wear this if you were about to engage in business negotiations in which you're unwilling to make any compromises, with a poker face and a dry "No" always at the tip of your tongue.

This fragrance is antisocial and it knows it. It's an inanimate object, not a person. When it's a person, it's your rich neighbor who always looks at you but never smiles or waves.

It's not for me, and I wouldn't like to smell too much of it on someone else.
22nd March, 2015

Vetiver Geranium by Creed

Growing up, I never liked geranium. Creed Boutique were nice enough to send me samples of all their Acqua Originale line. From the beginning, VG was the best in the line to my nose. It transitioned me from hating geranium to being ok with it to wanting to buy it.

I don't appreciate the use of hot words in fragrance just for the purpose of selling. Vetiver and geranium are both hot words in perfume these days, but there is barely any vetiver in VG. In fact, it's largely geranium and verbena from the opening all the way to right before the dry down. Natural geranium has a pungent, slightly rubbery, harsh quality to it, while the geranium in VG is, while strong and declaring, somehow pleasant and welcome.

The dry down is a fantastic reward in and of itself. It's a relaxing, airy, almost ozonic sweet flower that has its own separate personality. It shows that there was great care taken in making the scent. Highly recommended. Just wish it was cheaper!
17th March, 2015 (last edited: 12th May, 2015)

Bal d'Afrique by Byredo

A deeper version of Pulp

This smells like a deeper version of Pulp. As if the perfumer wanted a calmer, woodier version than the blast of fruit that is Pulp. So basically this smells more interesting and complex, more versatile, less gourmand, and perhaps more masculine than Pulp. At the same time, it lacks some of the uniqueness you find in Pulp. This means that it will need to offer something in return for the high asking price since you will find similar smells for less. Unfortunately, it doesn't give you that compensation. Even the longevity is mediocre compared to the beast that Pulp is.

Pros: Versatile
Cons: Not very unique and not worth the price

19th May, 2013

Orange Sanguine by Atelier Cologne

Absolute beauty

What a beautiful citrus. Sweet, tangy, realistic orange with hints of white flowers for seriousness and wearability. My only criticism is that it fades into soap on my skin, but on fabric it behaves much more elaborately with the orange staying longer and developing into a slightly woody dry down. If I buy this, I will probably wear it on my clothes more often than my skin.

Pros: Cheerful, realistic edible orange with class
Cons: Better on fabric than on skin

19th May, 2013

Palermo by Byredo

Good, but not fantastic

To my nose, this is a rather simple fragrance that starts with grapefruit amd ends with woody rose. If that's what you're after, you should try it.

Pros: Realistic and well executed
Cons: Not entirely wearable

19th May, 2013

Play Sport by Givenchy

The opening is promising with strong citrus-fresh notes. Unfortunately the ginger, amber, and musk end up robbing the scent of its sporty nature. It's as if it was designed to be worn right before a work out, keep the fresh vibe throughout the workout, and turn into a more relaxing soft amber by the time you're done working out so you can relax.
12th May, 2013