Reviews by bentan

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    bentan
    Singapore Singapore

    Showing 1 to 21 of 21.
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    Acqua di Parma Colonia Intensa by Acqua di Parma

    Ouch. What happened here? This wasn't what I expected of Acqua di Parma as I was hit but waxy fruits, almost melon like. For a moment, I thought I sprayed on a generic aquatic to the point I almost threw this away.

    Thank goodness I was patient enough to allow it to settle into a mellowed aquatic cologne, picking up notes of cardamon and ginger, reminding me of one of the Yves Saint Laurent Pour Homme and La Nuit Pour Homme.

    The dry down was clearly wood. Cedar and nutmeg being prominent notes.

    Among all three, the most disappointing one for me. At the fairly restrictive prices, I think I'll pass on this one.

    28 August, 2009

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    Acqua di Parma Colonia Assoluta by Acqua di Parma

    Ah, the dream team of JC Ellena and Betrand Duchaufour. Very typical of them. Transparen, delicate and refined. Unfortunately, the usual Duchaufour issue of longevity.

    Turin describes this at most as refine cologne and I have to agree. Less of the freshness (which I appreciate) and turning up the woods. Reminds me of the sun baked Mediterranean orange groves blossoming with orange flowers and neroli. Bitter grass and vetiver adds a touch of masculine aridness, keeping this scent very clean.

    Interestingly, there's not much evolution of this scent and basically, you get what you get from the start to end. All in all, a very well-made piece without much excitement or interest.

    28 August, 2009

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    Acqua di Parma Colonia by Acqua di Parma

    Among all three that I tested on the same day, Assoluta, Intensa and Colonia, this is probably the most short lived that I actually had on my notes "Where is it??" Afterall, if one was paying nearly US$100 for a bottle, you'd expect it to actually be there.

    Well, in retrospect, it is a cologne after all, and to me, by far the most interesting of the three.

    There is no denial that all three have a citrus undertone, but what worked for me in this one was less of that. Instead, Colonia transported me into what seems like a forest of lemon verbena, juniper, cypress and rosemary. I couldn't detect the floral tones in this one, but what I got was japanese incense (and yes, I compared it with the ones I use at home) which fascinated me. I simply enjoyed the fact that instead of grapefruit and lemons, here it was green citrus of verbena and geranium types which complemented the whole structure of the scent.

    Now, if only something could be done about its longevity...

    28 August, 2009

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    Une Fleur de Chanel by Chanel

    I wanted to be impressed with Une Fleur de Chanel afterall, it is Chanel and besides, what could go wrong with a bouquet of flowers?

    Indeed, it does smell like a well crafted unidentifiable flower as if the House of Chanel has totally recreated in the minds, a flower we've never seen before. It does have an issue of being on the synthetic side and strong aldehydes which is a Chanel signature.

    The issue? Well, I had the comment, "Did you just spray the ABC air-freshener in the room?" Unfortunately, when I did a comparison check. Yes. it did smelt like I sprayed ABC in the room. Ouch. I did very much want to like this.

    19 August, 2009

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    Yohji Homme by Yohji Yamamoto

    What was a promising start turned out to be a disappearing act.

    Yohji Homme reminds me of a typical Yohji Yamamoto presentation. A simple linear environment (bottle) that due to its starkness, makes you wonder what to expect. Then the opening, usually shocking and then a focused intensity that continues that theme of linearity. As it builds to the climax, you get bursts of colour or vibrancy, never both, but still remaining disciplined,

    Like his design, Yohji Homme was a very focused fragrance for me. The initial blast was a cross between the intense gourmand notes of A*Men and the citrus-wood foundation of Loewe Escentia but it funneled into a very licorice and anise-seed type; a powerful entrance.

    The starkly sombre greyish-black licorice and anise-seed is artfully combined a herbaceous green parsley, brown cinnamon and lilac lavender. Subsequently, it took a turn and become strongly Kouros-like for me, with the occasional reference to A*Men with the faint coffee.

    Could that be the avant-garde Yohji Yamamoto at play, combining the classic Yves-Saint Laurent with outrageousness of Thierry Mugler? Whatever it may be, this was enjoyable.

    Pity about the projection and longevity though...

    17 August, 2009

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    Dolce & Gabbana Pour Homme by Dolce & Gabbana

    D&G Pour Homme's simplicity in its packaging of a bell jar bottle and dark velvet packaging doesn't really highlight what is to be expected.

    First impressions were of a highly complicated floral herbal fragrance. It must have been well blended considering that no singular note stood out distinctively. One associates it with grassy mountains and the complexity was pleasant. At a point in time though, it felt as if I've rubbed Ricola all over my wrist; the swiss mountain herbal sweets

    Both the bergamot and the cedar were detected making this is rather green and medicinal scent. There were clearly blended citrus notes which got me a bit worried when it started to smell like heavily diluted CK Eternity. It was like a "Oh no, don't get me started on yet another one of those" moments.

    D&G Pour Homme could have been any other generic men's fragrance, with a little bit of citrus freshness, a little bit of the green barber shop cleanliness and a little woody masculinity. Thankfully it steered away from it just as it was reaching the edge.

    It does have its own unique standing, unfortunately, not enough for a thumbs up from me. I don't take too well to risky adventures especially with Eternity moments.

    17 August, 2009

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    Ambre 114 by Histoires de Parfums

    Impressive amber I must say for an amber scent that is not overly sweet, cloying and intoxicating.

    The first time I wore it, the instant remarks from my brother was "Goodness, you smell so old". Not that it bothered me.

    Ambre 114 was a warm woody scent and it's opening notes does an excellent job to provide a preview of what to expect. The thyme and nutmeg does not shy away in lending a herbaceous edge to the fragrance. In fact, I thought that the bitterness of the thyme and nutmeg very much prevented this fragrance from becoming the typical cloying amber associated with mystical gypsy caravans and ancient harems. The very enjoyable headiness continues well into an hour before the geranium starts to gently appear.

    I am impressed that this is a very well balanced scent, with no one single element fighting for attention. It comes across with a cohesive milkiness and ever so slight caramel that totally reverses any preconceptions of what an amber fragrance should be like.

    It's longevity is definitely an issue but the drydown of vanilla and ambergis... is perfectly enjoyable, even the warm humidity here. That said, because it is so straightforward since the beginning, and a fairly common basenote composition, it isn't the most exciting fragrance in a collection. I would be curious as to what will happen if HdP had amber featured throughout the fragrance's lifespan as they usually would with some of their offerings.

    15 August, 2009

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    Truth Calvin Klein Men by Calvin Klein

    Its no wonder most people say the Truth hurts.

    Truth opens with the typical CK aquatic scent and stays very much like that throughout. Perfect for someone expecting predictability without much dimension.

    The aquatic ocean scent is peppered with blasts of leafy greens and citrus fruit, occassionally, picking up an over-ripen mango note. It perhaps was intended to convey a sense of cleanliness but reminded me of dish-washing liquid. It eventually painfully fades into a heavily diluted CK Eternity but manages to distinguish itself with a pathetic lightness. Unfortunately, its sillage and longevity is fairly ok, which makes it a prolonged torture to wear especially in a hot and humid weather. With the dry down, there is a slight wood element as if trying to recreate an brighter Kenzo Pour Homme. Truth however, tries to do everything, but very half-heartedly.

    I am reminded of a board surfer running on the beach towards the waves in the ocean, only to trip and fall flat on his face. As with the CK brand, you pay for something, and you don't really get anything. Well, truth be told, it does hurt, and sadly, thats the awful truth with this one.

    15 August, 2009

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    Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche

    2009 and I'm reviewing Drakkar Noir, the Viking's Dragon Boat. Admitedly, it does smell old, but in a good old-fashioned way. Drakkar Noir is not for the faint hearted, nor intended to be used or treated lightly in today. Pity though, a unforgiving entrance, a commanding presence, but a disappointing act towards the end.

    While the mentioned top notes tend towards suggesting a fougere type scent, it wasn't so in my experience. The fragrance was arresting, powerful and commanding with a strong citrus-herbacous wood entrance that reminded me of pencil shavings and old, wet paper cardboard. For a moment, I was surprised to find that element in something that was created in the 1980s. It seemed promising indeed.

    Progressing, one finds it hard to disassociate the fragrance with an animalic nature of sweat. It was a dirty, soapy scent no different in nature from Kourous, but different in style and presentation. Kourous was definitely more sophisticated and sexy whereas Drakkar is brute and physical like a group of locker room boys or even medieval vikings. The bitterness of the juniper is outstanding, without the astringency or damp sourness that pure juniper brings along. Along with the sweatiness, Drakkar Noir develops a dark woody, muskiness that is resinous in nature.

    Drakkar Noir didn't last very long on me or at least, not with the opportunity to sample the patchouli. It faded into a generic woody scene, which for me, smelled a little too similar to dryer sheets - Bounce (?), except for a slight edginess associated with male cologne.

    Would I wear this? Perhaps if I'm alone with nothing much to do, just to enjoy it's history. It's probably worth keeping it in a collection for history's sake. But nothing more.

    15 August, 2009

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    7:15 am in Bali by Kenzo

    Ooo. Being the first to rate 7.15am in Bali with a negative review is a bit stressful, especially since I do have an issue with the unpredictability of Kenzo. As a designer, he's brilliant. But the brand itself stands for the quirky and the wild which is ok in small doses but I find, very dominant in the fragrances of the house.

    7.15am starts off for me smelling like crumpled cellophane paper I used to work with as a kid for art class. A very oily, creamy floral vanilla-ylang ylang scent that is slightly on the over powering side for me. It is however, what I woke up to when I spent a good week in Bali where the morning rain and heat tends to create a rather intoxicating scent.

    Midway, the fragrance starts to get a bit aggressive and sharp, with hints of frangipani and coconut milk tea which totally reversed the initial transparency and over time, develops a rich cloying creaminess.

    Towards the end, 7.15am hasn't seemed to have backed off, with the markisa (a local passionfruit) element gaining dominance. Unlike the usual passionfruit, the local variety is a bit more sourish and astringent tempered by a waxiness creamy lotion foundation which I picked up from the fragrance. For a moment, I had an image of a very bitter woman, although I didn't know why but I sure didn't enjoy it very much.

    Perhaps its because of the heat here, and how scents tend to linger longer on me *even L'Artisan* and hence, I found this too much. Like an overly rich dessert in the unbearable heat and humidity of Bali.

    14 August, 2009

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    Santal by Fragonard

    Tobacco, Neroli and Amber as described by Fragonard blends together perfectly to create one of my favourite scents of all times.

    When I first experienced Santal, I was delighted by its very rich woody composition. The citrus notes were not appreciated then, but on hindsight, I believe it did well to cut through what might have turned out to be a linear wood scent i.e. a teak wood furniture shop that would have fallen flat.

    Santal is not for the faint hearted, with its powerful sillage. Longevity is fairly ok with the eventual drydown to be a soft mellow sandalwood scent, with the occasional neroli and amber popping up, adding richness and dimension to the sandalwood.

    While the name invokes thoughts of sandalwood, don't be surprised that you wouldn't detect it until it is settled into the drydown. Of course, throughout that wait, the tobacco, amber and wood is perfectly enjoyable. For some, it might seem that the first few hours is a challenge to bear. I have received questions about the fragrance well into hours after applying it. Thankfully, the lemon (not a big fan of citrus) remains well in the background.

    This is a musky, warm wood scent. Rather than regarding the muskiness as animalic, I would say it's quite a sexy scent. It does help that the shower gel too does not deviate, and adds so much if you ever decide to layer the scent on it. Perfect to be noticed in.

    14 August, 2009

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    Kenzo pour Homme by Kenzo

    Phew, this is one bizarre fragrance and those "Can't wait to scrub it off" types. The only thing I liked was the bottle, both the old and the new.

    I have to agree that the sillage and longevity is great but it was totally unpredictable on me. From the first whiff, I was hit by s synthetic Japanese melon/ lime air-freshener which almost made me vomit and it went downhill from there. The fragrance played hide-and-seek with me, disappearing one moment, and then resurfacing with a vengeance later on. Perhaps, in line with the aquatic ocean theme: the unpredictability of Nature.

    When it settled down, I was looking for the ocean-like, seaweed notes but all I got was a dirty ocean. It wasn't a polluted ocean, but a sweaty, salty, sour unscrubbed marine scent. I decided to be a bit more adventurous, resist the scrubbing off to see if it was indeed a woody base as promised and yes indeed (after hours), I was rewarded by marine driftwood. It was still unfortunately, sour.

    This is not one clean boring aquatic scent. Interesting, but really not a favorite despite the use of fabulous notes of oakmoss, vetiver, patchouli, sandalwood, musk, iris, cedar; all warm and powdery not horrible gone wrong. I would say, a contrast to the cleanliness and transparency of Kenzo's L'Eau de Par.

    13 August, 2009

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    DK Men Unleaded by Donna Karan

    A stunning tobacco & suede leather composition with a slight sweetened edge to it. Not unlike the composition of vanilla and cardamon ice-cream but not as gourmand . The basil is not as outstanding which I enjoy worried that it might make this scent a little too green but the warmness of the sage is quite appreciated. For a tobacco, suede fragrance, I am surprised that it smells clean (slightly soapy: L'Occitane bath gel) and very smooth.

    My first reactions to this were synthetic-rubber but it smelled so very different from the rest, which made it the first ever perfume in my collection. I still find this a very sophisticated scent, much better balanced than the overly sweet Le Male by JPG which was all the rage in my teen years.

    This scent makes a strong, dramatic entrance, almost domineering, quickly mellows down, yet retaining a very masculine and charismatic presence. It remains in the background most of the day, but fully in control. Think of a smoking room when the male ego is at play from the beginning but relaxes as the conversation and the night progresses.

    Now, if only I could get my hands on DK Leaded...

    11th August, 2009

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    Esencia Loewe by Loewe

    An all time favourite, great sillage and longevity. Best of all, aromatic and elegant.

    Enjoy it for its difference compared to other air-freshener type men's fragrance available in the market.

    Esencia Loewe is aristocratic from its packaging to its delivery. This is one fragrance who reminds me of members of luxury family-run businesses in the likes of the Ferragamos and Lauders etc etc. Green, yet solidly masculine yet, equally charming for a noble lady heading out to the headquarters to chair an important business meeting.

    Pine, Basil, a hint of Lavender (quickly disappearing), Oakmoss, Fir, Leather all feature prominently in this fragrance with the leather warming the very green notes up and preventing it from becoming antiseptic.

    According to Loewe's brand director, it was not inspired but rather made especially for one of the noble families. Just hope it continues to remain on the shelves.

    An evergreen and my top 5.

    12 July, 2009

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    1740 Marquis de Sade by Histoires de Parfums

    1740: Too much of an aristocratic lover of sensuality and personal pleasure, to little of sadomasochism, scandal and insanity that the Marquis was known for.

    Top notes of the Davana blossoms were rich, providing that sensuality and excess but the flip side was a very voluptuous scent of aristocracy. Yet, it was a no nonsense scent as the coriander/celery quickly took over keeping it herbaceous with the patchouli balancing its dominance.

    1740 is too genteel for the Marquis. From the Leather and cedar, I detected a faint whiff of tobacco. Despite not living up to its name, I find this very pleasurable. Perhaps a note of civit might add a certain dimension. A very structured, enjoyable scent.

    09 July, 2009

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    Vetiver Dance by Tauer

    Flat, dull, very linear and uncomfortable scent from Tauer.
    Perhaps after all the very well reviewed fragrances from Tauer, Andy Tauer just wanted to push the boundaries to create something that was controversial.
    As with several reviews here, I was expecting a full blown vetiver experience but all I had, was dry tatami-straw grass, cinnamon bark and sweat.
    That said, it was a very seamless scent, with fairly good longevity (sometimes not a good thing)
    I suspect it's something to do with body chemistry and just that I'm simply not into dance...

    09 July, 2009

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    1725 Casanova by Histoires de Parfums

    Found 1725 Casanova to be quite stunning. A very charismatic scent as it opens into a warm (*surprise*) concoction of bergamot and grapefruit. The liquorice does an excellent job in ensuring that it doesn't become over citrusy and remains fairly dominant even after a good 3 hours making this a fairly full bodied scent. The citrus notes are almost totally opposite to the transparency typical of Jean-Claude Ellena's Gentien Blanc.

    The mids and base notes charm with ever so slight gourmand notes of almond and lavender that envelops the warmer woods of cedar, amber and sandalwood. It does however, remind one occasionally that this is not a youthful scent, but something for the more matured. 1725 is a not a brutish, arrogant and slick Casanova, but one who is playfully confident, who teases and enjoys a the challenge of the pursuit.

    08 July, 2009

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    Frankincense & Myrrh by Czech & Speake

    A wonderfully festive scent if I might say that was rich wwith warm woods and a reminder of mulled wine. On first whiff, I detected strong resinous woods which overshadowed the typical floral-citrus notes that are mainstream in Czech & Speake's scents. There was definitely the impression of attempting complexity with different woody notes as I was smelling cinnamon and pine cones in addition to the frankincense and myrrh. Definitely a great contrast to the typical citrus or "ocean" scents associated with men.

    The dry down continues to echo the wood elements and smelt like freshly lacquered chinese rosewood combined with a dry, hay like quality.
    It was an enjoyable scent to test, but unfortunately not something that I would wear daily. Too festive in my opinion. But in a good way.

    One of the more interesting C&S scents indeed.

    08 July, 2009

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    Timbuktu by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    Excited testing this one out especially as it turned out excellently on a friend and contained several notes that I generally enjoy: Pepper, Cardamon, Vetiver, Patchouli.

    Not surprised that this turned out to be a very well crafted scent. I did have initial bursts of strong vinegar/ citrus notes that I didn't like and was wondering how it could go so horribly wrong. Timbuktu eventually mellowed into a mildly spicy, woody scent which was very elegant, especially for a guy. I definitely appreciated the slight floral notes that remained very masculine. Many have commented on how it can fade out and get ethereal. I throughly enjoyed that experience, where it lingers around, warm yet transparent and fleeting.

    07 July, 2009

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    Dzing! by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    Oh how I love Dzing!.
    It did initially smell odd. Reminded me of tubes of water-colour that I used to purchase as a little kid. It smelled like plastic and very much synthetic.
    That eventually faded out into a vanilla-floral-leather scent with a subtle breath of caramel/ toffee. Reminded me very much like a very diluted version of Bulgari Black with a stronger vanilla note and less of the tar-oil combination in Black.
    It was fun testing this one out.

    07 July, 2009

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    Oxford & Cambridge by Czech & Speake

    Restrained, classic but very much a stiff upper-class school boy scent. O&C initially reminded me of shaving cream and after-shave.
    Oxford and Cambridge didn't immediately come to mind, but Eton definitely did.
    I detected hints of bitter grapefruit and faded lemon-lime hints which made it very tangy, but balanced with bits of lavender. It was like a growing teen, probably graduating from Eton and heading off to Oxbridge.
    Old world cologne. Ideal for just reminiscing the good old school days.

    07 July, 2009

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