Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Gilgamesh2003

Total Reviews: 58

Eau des Baux by L'Occitane

A very weak thumbs up on this one. The opening promises interesting things with a burst of bitter, woody spice. Then the fragrance settles into a blandly pleasant vanilla, where it remains for a few hours before slipping away without a trace. OK, not great.
17th December, 2011

1 Million by Paco Rabanne

I have heard many terrible things about 1 Million, many of them from the perfume sophisticates and niche connoisseurs on this board. This is such a good scent that I can't really imagine why Basenotes hasn't embraced it. Perhaps the fragrance's sleazy club-rat image and its gloriously tacky bottle have thrown people off, or the fact that it doesn't contain oud and can be found at Walmart.

If you go by scent, though, this fragrance is a champion, and a worthy successor to the great Paco Rabanne pour Homme. In fact, I get the faintest shadow of the original beneath the over-the-top topnotes of One Million. I've always experienced PRPH as a leathery fougere; PR describes 1 Million as a sweet leather, and there is indeed a nice, dry, suede-y leather going on in the heart of this scent.

There is also an outrageous candied orange note (which comes in and out as the scent goes on) and an abundance of ultra-sweet vanilla. This is not far off from a combo of original Paco Rabanne pour Homme and Le Male. A remarkably dirty spice takes the whole thing out of high-school territory. 1 Million has the same combination of pretty sweetness and filth as Kouros, though it doesn't quite reach Kouros's remarkable artistry.

It's also super-powerful and reasonably long lasting. Worth a try, though maybe you shouldn't wear it to work.
17th December, 2011

273 Rodeo Drive for Men by Fred Hayman

Way more than you would expect for $13.

I understand why people compare 273 to Antaeus - there's something in 273's cedar/oakmoss/smoke accord that has the same weird mintiness as Antaeus' beeswax. This is much drier and less complex than Antaeus, but it's shockingly good for the price.

Dry, almost burnt herbs sweetened with a very cinammony cedar drive this smoky fragrance. As Bigsly points out it's not too far from Jacomo de Jacomo, though I find 273 more pleasant. There's a kind of candied, floral softness to the smoke in 273, and at least a little incense. Again, as Bigsly said this is a very niche-y scent, not what you would expect for something so inexpensive. Because it is so unusual I find it pleasantly unisex - it's certainly not girly and flowery, but it's definitely not conventionally masculine.

273 has some layers to it - it flickers back and forth between something very bitter and smoky and something very sweet and smoky. Really a nice surprise. Kind of a wearable spin on what Mugler was going for with B*Men.
10th October, 2011 (last edited: 17th December, 2011)
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Kouros Cologne Sport by Yves Saint Laurent

A plasticky futuristic version of Kouros, KCS is a good but inessential scent. This prunes away the notes that take Kouros from interesting to amazing.

Kouros is to Kouros Cologne Sport as Azzaro PH is to Onyx .

If you want a summer version of Kouros, try Kouros. If you like Kouros but find it too threatening you might like Cologne Sport.
29th May, 2011

Nightflight by Joop!

Quite an entertaining fresh fougere in the style of Cool Water - it also happens to be much better than Cool Water, at least the current formulation.

This is synthetic but soft and well-blended. The cumin note gives the fragrance an intriguing saltiness, and only smells like cumin if you really concentrate.

I find sillage and longevity modest, which is surprising for a Joop! fragrance. An endearing, attractive, well-composed fresh scent that's impossible to dislike.
16th May, 2011

Grey Vetiver by Tom Ford

In a world without Guerlain's Vetiver this would be a spectacular scent. Gray Vetiver reads as a studiously focus-grouped copy of Guerlain's Vetiver. This is good, since the Guerlain fragrance is excellent, but it's also bad because the Tom Ford homage is so conservative and safe.

Gray Vetiver polishes off some of Guerlain Vetiver's edges and much of its charm. Its vetiver note, which is crystalline and beautiful, fades to a lovely drugstore musk after a few hours, and the scent loses all pretense at sophistication. A very modern, competent vetiver, but not too interesting compared to the great Guerlain.
04th May, 2011

Terre d'Hermès by Hermès

So THIS is Terre d'Hermes? I was expecting something lush, a landscape of earth and water. Instead you get some coppery, medicinal fruit, and not much of it. The scent is, in its own studiously inoffensive and uninteresting way, unique; it has a toothpaste-like spice and freshness that elevates it from the level of fruity gum. You can tell that it's well-blended and uses quality ingredients, but it's still a disappointment.

Basenoters routinely recommend this as the ultimate please-everyone, office-to-dinner scent. I really can't imagine why.
04th May, 2011

Quorum by Antonio Puig

It took me about six months to get to like Quorum. The first few times I tried it the dry, musky leather overwhelmed the rest of the fragrance and it ended up smelling like a dirty pair of chaps, with a particularly agressive sweet-sour note that suggested decomposition.

I tried it again recently and suddenly the whole thing came into focus: pine, soapy notes, citrus, tobacco, suede. I don't know if the bottle "aged" (as Creeds are supposed to do) or if my nose got more sophisticated, but the jarring notes that had bothered me before suddenly smelled soft and good. Lovely, natural, well-blended, ridiculously strong and lasting, and about $12 a bottle. Yow.

Quorum falls somewhere on the Azzaro PH/Paco Rabanne PH/Aramis Tuscany/etc scale. To me it smells like a 50/50 mixture of original Aramis and Paco Rabanne, plus some pine - I mean this as a compliment. I don't know if Quorum qualifies as a fougere in the strictest sense, but it sure smells like a classic masculine fougere with a ton of leather. I'm surprised that neither civet nor castorteum appears in the note pyramid - beneath the soap Quorum has a penetrating, animalic muskiness that bring Knize Ten and Yatagan to mind.

This is another one of those cheap masterpieces that shows that price doesn't necessarily relate to quality in perfumes. Get yourself a bottle, you won't be sorry.
15th April, 2011

Jacomo de Jacomo Deep Blue by Jacomo

The ultimate aquatic-by-way-of-salty-melon fragrance, Deep Blue competes with the giants of the genre (Cool Water and Green Irish Tweed) through excess rather than sophistication. I can picture Mr. Jacomo himself standing in his perfume factory in front huge vats of chemicals, thinking, then opening a valve marked "AQUATIC ACCORD" and walking away.

The thing with fresh aquatic fougeres (or fougere-alikes) is that they mostly smell pretty good even if they're derivative or muddled. Deep Blue isn't muddled at all, and it's not even THAT derivative - as Perfaddict noted, there's woody things going on beneath the surface here. Plus it's amazingly underpriced, and not horribly synthetic.

Perfectly pleasant for the summer. I nonetheless found it a little lifeless, and would reach for Grigio Perla, Aqua Quorum or GIT itself first. For the price you can't go wrong.
11th April, 2011

Aqua Quorum by Antonio Puig

Nice. This takes one step on the very long journey from Cool Water to Green Irish Tweed. It improves greatly on Cool Water, though - AQ is a soft, rather well-blended fragrance in the early 1990s aquatic mode, which is much less horrible than the current run of aquatics.

The lavender/freesia/grapefruit notes (which I get from the pyramid, not from any evidence in the frag itself) come together to suggest a violet leaf accord, a distant cousin of Creed's GIT. Aqua Quorum's violet leaf/marine note is milky and soapy rather than cutting and bracing. A imaginative person might detect a faint echo of the original Quorum here, though the scents are not much alike.

The fragrance is not unduly strong, and its duration is likewise moderate. Drydown is very nice, but not surprising. I'd be comfortable paying $30 or $40 a bottle for this, but it's easy to find for under $20, which is a bargain. Don't expect to stand out, but do expect to smell quite nice.

If you have room for only one Quroum in your life, pick the original, but if you're looking for a fun, cheap aquatic that knows what it's doing then you can't go wrong here. The bottle, which is bright yellow and blue, is amazing, like something imported from the Art Deco retro future.
11th April, 2011

Jacomo de Jacomo Rouge by Jacomo

A less synthetic Le Male with a gourmond twist (the praline, which is well done) and a sublime, smooth drydown. JDJ Rouge trades Le Male's weird sweetened lavender for a more anisic accord. Rouge also swaps Le Male's room-clearing potency for a more muted approach. It's as if Le Male and Lolita Lempicka PH had a slightly fey child who plays the pianoforte and suffers from consumption.

With this and Cuba Gold one need never buy the real thing again. Very nice, very cheap. The bottle has a flip-top on a weak spring: good idea, mediocre execution. At $20 for 100ml this is kind of a no-brainer if you need a sleazy nightlife scent.
05th April, 2011

Vetiver by Guerlain

Incredibly beautiful, linear vetiver with traces of smoke. The scent is somehow transparent - it's strong, and sharp, but never screechy. It makes me think of green glass (and what a pity that they discontinued the beautiful, asymmetrical green glass bottle). Good sillage and longevity.

If you've never smelled vetiver before you might start here. This particular vetiver nods to the rooty earthiness of its origin but remains sparkling and fresh nonetheless. There's something about it that hints at the comforting cleanliness of dryer sheets without smelling in the least like them.

The first few times I tried this I found it rather dank and wet, but after a few wearings it revealed itself to be dry and clean (as MHV writes below). I far prefer its simplicity to the busy, dense earthiness of Lalique's Encre Noir, the other vetiver that Basenoters often recommend. Not that Vetiver is all that simple - beneath its coherent surface there's a lot going on, but you don't need to pick it apart to enjoy it, and to know that's it's a classic.
04th April, 2011

Light Blue pour Homme by Dolce & Gabbana

Light Blue knows that the world of perfume didn't end with the grapefruit boom of the 1990s but it just doesn't care. This opens with a sweet, sincere, endearingly naive fresh grapefruit/semi-aquatic note that I really enjoyed. It put together an absolutely perfect version of the astringent, squeaky-clean, American scent of dryer sheets and shower gel.

After about thirty seconds it begins shrieking; curdled milk joins the grapefruit, which has become hateful and belligerent, and a trace of cumin (?) emerges to give the scent additional urinous weirdness. Perhaps this is the pepper and rosewood accord in the pyramid, though the pepper smells moldy and the rosewood seems to be a veneer over plastic.

This is starting to sound like Andy Tauer or ELDO. But this is not niche weirdness, nor is there any indication that the perfumer wanted the fragrance to be weird. It's as if he got bored and wandered away after creating the topnotes, which are quite nice; the heart and base are hideous.

Wearing D&G Light Blue is like sitting down to watch Friends on VHS, experiencing the sweet nostalgia of the opening credits, and then finding that someone has taped Lars von Trier's Antichrist over the actual episode.
02nd April, 2011
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Reaction for Men by Kenneth Cole

A plastic fantastic version of Allure Homme with a big dose of inoffensive, appealing aquatic watermelon up front. Reasonable projection, OK longevity. If you live in Kenneth Cole's guest house or have some sort of contractual obligation to wear KC scents then this might be a decent option. This could have been nightmarish but ended up pleasant but forgettable.
27th March, 2011

Green Irish Tweed by Creed

Yes, it's very, very good. It's clear, has great longevity and smells terrific. Green Irish Tweed suggests fresh, wet grass to me, it has a very planty, natural texture.

Does it smell like Polge's other creation, Cool Water? Kind of. They're in the same genre (fresh fougere), and they make some of the same moves. I think even a fragrance novice could tell them apart reliably, though it might be harder to articulate what makes them smell different. Green Irish Tweed quite obviously beats Cool Water in all categories, though I'm comparing it with the current formulation of CW. Maybe when the scent was brand new they were more evenly matched.

As with Chanel Pour Monsieur I can't imagine any occasion where this scent would be inappropriate. It seems free of age or occasion, and would probably be wonderful on a woman. It's certainly too expensive, but it's also awfully good. Creed has a reputation for selling scents with very poor longevity, but Green Irish Tweed has no problems in that department. It beams out its bittersweet, three-dimensional violet leaf heart for hours. On fabric it lasts even longer.
22nd March, 2011 (last edited: 11th April, 2011)

Cuba Black by Cuba Paris

Cuba Black has the grace to imitate a really good men's fragrance (Azzaro pour Homme) and the technical chops to imitate it well.

Black is a classic 1970s-1980s masculine fougere, though I find it sweeter than the noted bruisers of its genre (Drakkar Noir, for instance). There's a penetrating, chewy note that makes me think of anise, plenty of lavender, and a general soapy barbershop niceness. Is there tobacco in the base? Maybe.

I find Black MUCH closer to Azzaro than to Tuscany, which is an entirely different idea (herbs galore, incredible bitterness). Black doesn't even smell particularly synthetic, which is a marvel given that it's about $4 for 50ml. Projection is monstrous; apply in moderation.

I'd probably pick Azzaro over this but I'm not sure if I could reliably tell the two apart in a blind test. Highly recommended.
22nd March, 2011

Simply Soap by Clean

Hideous. Neither clean nor simple nor soap. This evokes a synthetic reproduction of the otter tank at a public aquarium. A bracing glass-cleaner accord floats over a lush, organic note of standing water, spoiled fish, and fetid musk. If Comme des Garcons had released this as "Parfums PARFUMS Series 10: Moldy Fish Tank" I would still hate it, because it is vile.

Longevity and projection are excellent. The fragrance even resisted scrubbing with actual soap. These molecules have the physical strength and truculent presence of a b-movie thug.

I have never smelled another fragrance as bad as this one. I would prefer almost anything to this - I would gladly smell the most insipid white flowers and calone instead of this foul reek.
18th March, 2011

Photo by Lagerfeld

I got this on a whim at Perfumania. It was 50% off, which makes me think it might be on the sad road to retirement. The packaging and bottle look quite dated, despite their ultra-modern cleanness of line.

These qualms aside Lagerfeld Photo is very good. It's also very derivative - its obvious inspiration is Drakkar Noir, the 80s fougere nonpareil. It adds a big bite of lavender to Drakkar Noir and cuts out the weirdly bitter heart. The resulting fragrance smells like an 80s grand-slam but behaves much more demurely; it dries down into a weird, fresh crystalline blue smell, like Captain by Molyneux or Grigio Perla (not calone fresh, herbal).

This seems about right for 1990 - it inhabits the shape of the big leathery scents of the 80s, but ambiguously. I find it much more pleasant and wearable than Drakkar Noir, whose sourness has always repelled me. Photo is a very good, surprisingly strange scent.
15th March, 2011

Bowling Green by Geoffrey Beene

Such a shame that this has been discontinued. I find Bowling Green rather similar to Chanel Pour Monsieur and its neighboring scents (Monsieur de Givenchy, Eau Sauvage, etc.), though it's lighter, greener and slightly less complex. If you've smelled Chanel PM concentree you know what to expect, though Bowling Green is much lighter and has no vanilla (though its sandalwood is sweet enough to hint at it).

The opening combines citrus, herbs and spice; the lemon note lasts quite a long while, and the drydown is beautifully classic - spice and refined woods, again quite similar to Chanel PM.

This doesn't have quite the depth of the Chanel or Givenchy offerings, but it does have a beautiful, simple clarity. It smells focused and unadorned rather than cheap. Sillage is modest, longevity very good.

And speaking of cheap - at the beginning of February 2011 I was able to find an eau de toilette and aftershave gift set for $20 on Amazon. Now in early March the same set is going for around $100 - I wish I had stocked up when I had the chance!
08th March, 2011

GrigioPerla by La Perla

An amusing, slightly weird fresh fougere in the style of Cool Water. Grigio Perla does everything that the current formulation of Cool Water does, but better. The opening is somewhat Italian and herbal. The drydown comes quickly and is sweet, soft, and lovely, without any of the synthetic, sinus-scorching penetration of CW.

At times it was reminiscent of Chanel's Allure Homme. Both Allure and Grigio Perla have a muted, restrained quality that I like - they're really not trying to be exciting or innovative, but that doesn't mean that they're bad.

I had no trouble finding this online. Sillage and longevity are both moderate. This is nice, well-made juice, endearing and good.

EDIT - The drydown really does share a creamy, minty barbershop accord with the even cheaper (but very nice) Captain by Molyneux. Good stuff.
02nd March, 2011 (last edited: 06th March, 2011)

Tuscany / Etruscan by Aramis

Take Azzaro Pour Homme, edit out the soapiness and any trace of sweetness, add a gallon of patchouli and a generous shake of Italian herbs and you get Tuscany per Uomo.

Fortunately this is great juice - the patchouli is rough and tarry, the geranium is crisp, bitter and green, and the whole structure holds together beautifully. I don't ordinarily much care for patchouli, but I love it here.

Dazzlingly natural, readily available and cheap - there must be some mistake. It's an extremely simple fragrance, as the note pyramid suggests, but it really doesn't need anything more.
01st March, 2011

Greenbriar by Caswell-Massey

Well, Shamu said it very nicely: Cool Water meets Irish Spring.

An endearingly modest fragrance from Caswell-Massey. The 1930s golfer on the box, the beautiful green-glass bottle and the printed claims of CM's ancient history lead you to think you're getting something very traditional. The presence of "ozone" and the fact that the frag is about one degree off from Cool Water dash that particular hope.

That said it's really quite a nice fragrance - I find it smoother and better-blended than the current hectic formulation of Cool Water, and it's quite inexpensive. A likeable cheapie. I don't know if I'll be buying a bottle, but I would take this over Cool Water any day.
17th February, 2011

Azzaro pour Homme Elixir by Azzaro

"Pour les hommes qui aiment les femmes qui n'aiment pas Azzaro pour Homme." A delightful fruity fougere that re-interprets the amazing Azzaro pour Homme. This is like one of those movies that re-imagines a TV series from the 80s - it nods charmingly to its source material, but it's obviously of the current moment. Fortunately it's also a great, well-constructed scent.

Elixir opens with smooth, sweet fruits, and they continue to color the fragrance as it dries down into a lighter, slightly sweeter version of classic Azzaro PH. If you found the original too strong, you might find Elixir just right. Sillage and longevity are moderate.

Is it as good as the original Azzaro pour Homme? Maybe not, but it is awfully good.
14th February, 2011

Allure Homme by Chanel

Allure Homme proves that a scent can be good without being interesting. It's extremely soft and fairly sweet, it smells expensive (or at least high quality), it contains no unusual or distinctive accords, and its projection is decidedly muted. I'm not surprised that it has wide appeal among people who don't wish to concern themselves with the arcana of perfumes.

Allure is like a charcoal gray cashmere sweater - unexciting, comfortable, unobtrusive, and versatile. I don't get much structure here - everything dries down quickly to a base of creamy, bittersweet vanilla with a diminishingly slight astringent note that probably comes from the vetiver and patchouli. I find it difficult to pick out the notes. Do I detect a subtle trace of bracing, fresh calone? Maybe!

It's hard to get excited about Allure Homme, but I certainly don't think it's a neutral or bad fragrance. There's something quite nice about it. This review may make it sound mediocre, which it isn't. Nor is it exactly bland, but it is inconspicuous and pleasant. Maybe it would have been better if it had been a memorable disaster.

EDIT: I've revisited Allure Homme and I find myself more taken with it. This is not a scent for niche lovers who want to pick out exotic natural notes or find the weirdest possible accords. Allure Homme is more like a surpassingly elegant, well-made version of a drugstore scent - something with a broad appeal, clean and good smelling. I think this would be terrific on a woman as well. It's unambitious, but it's also very nice.
13th February, 2011 (last edited: 24th February, 2011)

Fahrenheit 32 by Christian Dior

An amusing, coarse fragrance that Luca Turin inexplicably identifies as being gloomy and foreboding. He also likes it. I agree with him in that I enjoy Fahrenheit 32, but it's about as foreboding as a Starbucks latte.

The opening evokes the classic rubber/gasoline/HR Geiger nightmare accord from Fahrenheit; this dissipates instantly. It flashes on, as if to remind you that you're really smelling a Dior Fahrenheit, and then goes. This takes just a few seconds. Don't expect it to linger and you won't be disappointed.

The rest of the fragrance is, surprise surprise, a vanilla gourmand. Pretty much JUST vanilla, creamy, edible, COLD vanilla. I get the faintest breath of mint and some bitter herbs or vetiver, but it's mostly rather sweet and gentle. Excellent sillage and longevity.

Is it as good as the original? Absolutely not. But it's certainly interesting, and very wearable.
11th February, 2011

Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent

I suspect that the wrist on which I first sampled Kouros has become permanently Kouros-flavored. This would be a shame, except Kouros is such a magnificent scent that I really don’t mind.

First the bad (the VERY bad) – Kouros opens with a hideous fetor reminiscent of a truly vile European public restroom. It really does. I can’t imagine that any non perfume aficionado would ever buy Kouros based on an in-store sample. It’s really, thoroughly repugnant, in a kind of personal and upsetting way, like seeing a naked stranger defecating on a train platform.

Then the miasma lifts and beneath it Kouros’s inner magnificence becomes apparent – glowing honey, spices, god knows what else. All wonderful things. And in and out floats the toilet accord, never as strong as at the opening, but always there to remind us that Kouros’s foulness is indelible and cannot be wished away.

I have a great affection for Etat Libre D’Orange, whose box copy is often slightly more shocking than their actual fragrances. It strikes me that Kouros is what ELdO wishes they were producing – something that turns the rankest stench into a poem. This is by far the most sophisticated and interesting scent I have ever encountered. Is it wearable? Who cares? I'm astonished that YSL has kept it in production, but I'm delighted that it has. Let's all pray that they don't tamper with it.

EDIT: Many more wearings have softened my opinion of Kouros. I don't know what changed, but the scent smells great from the beginning now. It has some faint kinship with Paco Rabanne and Drakkar Noir, a subtle, slippery fougere heart that reads as incense, seeds, and sweat at different times. Two sprays last ten or more hours. One of the best fragrances out there, I would give it six stars if I could.
06th February, 2011 (last edited: 17th May, 2011)

Canoé by Dana

Sadly vile. I really wanted to like Canoe – at first blush it resembled an upscale, refined Pinaud Clubman, an oily, powdery lemon-butter talcum powder straight from the barbershop.

Unfortunately the drydown becomes rancid, piercing, and abominably cheap. Pinaud Clubman itself smells better and actually costs less. Poor Canoe must have been quite nice before reformulation degraded it into a chintzy mess.
06th February, 2011

Musk for Men by Coty

Pinaud Clubman minus most of Clubman’s endearing orange-citrus-something opener. This is a nice, sweet creamy synthetic talc, warm and unpretentiously simple. Pretty much no development, not that one would expect complexity and evolution from a $10 drug store fragrance. Pleasant and sweet, like a bag of twizzlers.
06th February, 2011

White Musk for Men by Jovan

Some avant-garde niche house should knock this off and charge $600 a bottle for it, not because it’s good but because it’s almost not there at all. The faintest ghost of a fruity, sweet smell, like an empty Starburst wrapper or an ancient, dry bottle of Herbal Essences shampoo. Unlikely to offend because it’s unlikely to be noticed. If you want a cheerful inexpensive musk spring for Royall’s superb Royall Muske, which has all the barbershop insouciance that this pallid offering lacks.
06th February, 2011

Chanel Pour Monsieur Concentrée by Chanel

A gorgeous, edible citrus fades to a spicy vanilla of impeccable, dry sophistication. This is a dressy" Habit Noir" to Habit Rouge's jaunty red riding jacket. Refined, elegant and beautifully well-behaved, this is an absolute must-have business fragrance and no slouch for casual wear. Luca Turin claims the non concentree version far exceeds this formulation- it must be awfully good, because this one's superb. I found it boring at first, but a repeat wearing revealed that it wasn't so much dull as flawless.
05th February, 2011