The way to speak about rhubarb here is to recall the rhubarb in B-Men: sweet yet a bit burnt-rubber smell, dry fruity but not edible. It is really a dry scent, almost herbal but not really because incense is strong. Not churchy at all, long with cedar, vetiver and spices it finally gives this driftwood impression, soaked rotting wood drying in the sun.
But there's also depth in this. When I first smelled it, the phrase 'red incense' came to mind. Maybe because of this strange fruity quality. Myrrh makes it a bit balmy and rum - a bit sugary but only if you pay attention. I've actually never smelled something like this. I imagine classical opera gone surreal.
Smells to me like a remake of Salvador Dali Pour Homme, widely considered one of the most evil fragrances existing. Don't know how seriously people take the 'evil' part, the thing is that there's hardly anything positive in this. Maybe some kind of warmth in the style of, say, Heritage or Zino, but the very concept of the smell rejects anything pleasing I guess. Now, I wouldn't call it neither animalic nor dirty, nor chemical. Urine smell would be at least something more familiar. Even Muscs Koublai Khan steps on more familiar territory than this. Same for CdG's most industrial creations. At least there is something you can remotely refer to. These are alien dark flowers in a cave with no entrance. I rarely ask myself why would someone wear a particular fragrance. In this case I imagine it would be solely for the challenge of doing so.
Pros: Shock factor
Cons: Nihilist smell"
Mostly carnation, then cloves, other spices. Lavender, geranium and a slight touch of non-sweet vanilla complete the picture, going from sharp to balmy and almost resinous. Although there's not even a hint of incense, for some reason I'm constantly reminded of the image of an old church and I'm still to figure out why.
Cons: Quite retro"
This is so much Sculpture Homme by Nikos I couldn't believe it. Means a hardly synthetic 90s concoction in the vein of The Dreamer, D & G pour Homme (but weaker), etc.. A faint tobacco accord appears after an hour which, mixed with the synthetic flower remains makes it sorta Fleur de Male.. gosh I wish I could stop these associations. Anyway, Sculpture is constantly on sale at the duty frees here in Europe. Buy one, get a better looking bottle.
All in all, "Best of Terre" indeed, as already stated. Difference comes in the drydown, where an unexpected and too sweet anise note appears. This non-vanillic sweetness is underlined by some kind of spicy dates but for me personally this adds cheapness to the fragrance mostly because it blurs the initial sharp solid presence, making it.. more generic. Hence the neutral.
Anyway, maybe those final traces are not so much worth discussing as the full-bodied image of Red Vetyver is just this, 'Best of Terre'. I expected an exotic touch and maybe there really was one, yet now Terre d'Hermes is just everywhere, so.
I'd just add that in this case, RV being a Montale and TdH being kinda 'designer frag" doesn't make the former superior in any way. I rarely believe in all these "better mixed", "more natural smelling", "more sophisticated", "longer lasting" etc. which surround the niche brands by default. In this case, if I had to choose Red Vetyver between the two it'll be for the red aluminum bottle and the sprayer clip with the Montale logo.
A really playful and clever exercise on the lemon theme. I say clever because the real 'lime-yellow-green' impression of the scent is actually built up by other carefully placed notes. Yes, there is the initial bright citrusy blast but it quickly makes its way to a woody-ambery composition without actually losing its initial face. Amazing! The 'greener' side of the fragrance is then taken by vetiver and some herbal notes which then lead you in the woody realm with amber and creamy sandalwood enough just to keep the 'juicy' impression of a 'freshly squeezed' something.
All in all, this is a perfect illusion: it keeps the 'lemony' feeling going to a point where no real citrus notes would be able to , and it does it by emphasizing the corresponding facets of a variety of notes, in a series of smooth transitions. Like in a relay race! So, mind you Monsieur Balmain has nothing to do with the Italian cologne style. It's summery in a way, yes but it has depths. It's bright but it has this old school complexity in the mix. Shines even more in colder weather. Nothing like it!
Finally, Grey Flannel for Her.
Bitter, spicy cedar, herbs drying in the autumn and apothecary drawers. I still wonder where did I found incense the first time I smelled it.
Since I read the review of Casual Friday in the Perfume-Smellin' Things blog I cannot escape this image of a public library in the morning: an urban shrine of serenity. Maybe it's the dry, dusty patchouli, cedar and cotton flower that I associate with old paper. Maybe it's the sweetened coffee with milk that enhances this image. Finally, maybe it's the anise balancing the gourmand aspects that gives this impression of a sunny morning, big windows, an early yet already busy day. It is an urban fragrance by all means and an intellectual one.
Were Casual Friday a little heavier on vanilla and sugar it would enter the lusty world of gourmands and orientals, yet it chooses another direction. Sweetness is tamed by patchouli and dry woody notes; and and behind anise and cappuccino there's a complex base reminding me partly of a creation form older world, partly of a Comme Des Garcons woody fragrance. By all means, not with the mainstream of its time or any time. There's no big wonder why it was discontinued by Escada. Still, in another world, Casual Friday would be irreplaceable for a busy morning in the big city - a situation currently maintained with all-purpose lightly colognes, speaking irrelevantly about either Italian citrus groves, fresh countryside laundry or seashores, none of them urban in the heart.
A spicy-floral-fruity fleshy concoction not unlike Tom Ford's Black Orchid but plasticized, like the interior decoration of a fine boutique: plastic, rubber and aluminium. This synthetic finish makes it more hip and less sexy, as is in fact the case with all CdG fragrances. Yet no one can civilize champaca at 100%. Me, I'm a sucker for the raw seductiveness of this flower. As close to animalic as any CdG fragrance can ever get.
You never have to smell this with your nose close to your wrist and then judge by this. Give it some space, some distance to pass by. It's the artsy cousin of Heritage and Zino and the wise uncle of Obsession. It's the grandfather of Tar and Garage with a spicy romantic heart. You can find him in his basement at night painting still pictures of flowers, using motor oil and burnt rubber for his art. He smells of darkness and cinnamon and he's aware of his weirdness. His nature is not actually of an animal: more like your surreal image of a dream fantastic creature. 20 years later, still not the coolest guy. Yet unlike Zino and Heritage, this one still deserves a talk now and then.
I think probably because of the highly influential directions of Comme Des Garcons for most of us frankincense in a fragrance should always be something glorious and a tad serious, enhanced with woods and some other complex stuff. Between niche fragrance lovers frankincense is often considered elitist: hence by all meas worth the mockery.
And here it is. Frankincense without woods. Bubblegum instead. A realistic blast of bubblegum before it settles into simple and beautiful incense supported only by light fruity-ambery base. It manages to be dry and juicy at the same time yet these two characteristics are somehow separated, simplicity being the key idea.
This is also one of the few ELdO fragrances that doesn't utilize their powdery kinda signature mix to fill the gaps. On the contrary, there is a lot of air left, making this fragrance a successful example of 'does what it says'. No need to be too weird or shocking: simply intentionally putting a cult niche note in a profane context does the job just fine. In fact, this is extremely wearable. I like it a lot.
A 'white' , 'clean' fragrance but with a bitter floral-woody twist and somehow loud. Like with DSquared He Wood, the combination of woods and violet makes for me the overall impression of driftwood. Then there's something piney and herbal-fresh. This doesn't explain why the fragrance is 'white' but it is, and I wear it often in summer.
Like someone was trying to make a spicy soap. Not the usual 'oriantal spicy' though, no clove or cinnamon or nutmeg. It immediately reminds me of 'clean' like a bedroom with linen blankets, semi-opened blinds, flowers on the window and some potpourri in the wardrobe. There's a church nearby and a garden with herbs. Not the big city by all means. Quiet happiness, lazy summer afternoons with a book.
The thing spoiling the deal for me is that in the drydown it becomes a carbon copy of Montana Parfum d'Homme with its freshly cut tobacco, oakmoss and herbs (being a rustic doppelganger of Aramis Havana). ANd it spoils the deal mostly because I remember how excited I was when I bought Parfum d'Homme and then how I was completely unable to wear it. If you don't think that Montana and Aramis are dated smells then this won't spoil it for you.
15th July, 2011 (last edited: 16th July, 2011)
Bulgari's tribute to the famous Nivea scent, so good that it stays unchanged for decades. No irony here: it just goes where I'd always liked Nivea to go, adding depth and complexity. Smells familiar, bringing memories, yet it's not the cream; it's a fragrance.
There's a category which I call 'glorious perfumes'q
hese are the ones that make the choirs sing 'Glory, glory, hallelujah!" the moment they open up,
they're not introspective or meditative,
they represent the joyful side of religion:
raising the arms, elevating, almost exhibitionistic.
The greatest thing is that this is done with particularly synthetic,
industrial and concrete chemical smells:
tar, rubber, plastic, evaporating aldehydes.
Dark notes, the former, but not a dark scent.
The sunny side of leather, a paradox of freshness.
Pure clove extract, a bit sweetened with cinnamon. A bit sharp and a bit synthetic but clove has never smelled natural to me anyway.
Its structure is really simple, like this is some kind of basic chemical ingredient used in a lab: a catalyst which accidentally also smells good, masculine, provocative.
Has this oriental feel without being an ambery fragrance.Warm but not cozy, it tingles the senses, keeps your attention, like a real catalyst should.
It 'is', of course, the smell of a rubber swimming pool the moment you unwrap it, and the smell of burning paper extinguished in body cream, and the fake grapefruit normally starring in designer fragrances' summer editions; but it's also denser than that, and it's abstract.
Only when I really went clubbing with this scent that I got the 'great for clubbing' thing. It's that state of unawareness, light-mindedness and confidence that go so well with Skai.
Warmness is usually a thing that comes from the past or from another time: one either recalls ancient rituals and pleasures or cozy memories from his own past, fireplaces, kitchens, sweets and cakes. A warmness that is actually in the present or even the future is a rare thing. This is on the edge of being cool, non emotional but it succeeds.
This feels sticky all way round, like a spicy liqueur of some kind spilled on your skin. Booze done in the 'whatever' way, then woods that are too generic to make sense, then unrecognizable "fresh, woody, leathery" base that obviously noone expects to be there. "Balanced" in this case means no individual notes; although there's change in time, this fragrance is way too homogenic. Like they were there initially but someone smeared the whole picture with an all-purpose liquid. Everlast 1910 Original dries to a similar base but better and with higher contrast. And while we're still on the topic, everything by Gucci is also better, etc.
The most beautiful musk I ever smelled. Were it a woman, it would be one pretty well aware of her sex-appeal and keeping it restrained to a certain point never to be crossed. She embrace you warmly instead, making you feel comfortable; yet her deep animalic nature is always seen behind; she's not actually trying to hide it. She just shows you there's more than this.
There are dirty musks that easily turn vulgar; there are clean musks trying to equal cleanness and human beauty, thus suggesting there's light without darkness. This one knows both very well; it has intelligence. It has philosophy. It's a treatise on pure and dirty. And besides that, it's the scent of a warm skin. Dramatic.
If I have to visually describe it there's a big black something (tarry, almost bitter, similar to isobutyl quinoline found in Aramis, Bandit etc. but without the loudness and directness they bring) with a pale white spot on top (camphoraceous, medicinal, herbal). When I think about it, I always imagine two layers not so well matched - and I have a similar image for Black Jeans and Passage d'Enfer, and I actually like this type of structure. Gradually these two layers start to merge better and the fragrance becomes more plain and flawless, the 'bright' top turned to calming aromatic mix of lavender and flowers, black base remaining quite the same. No bitterness - yet all the time lingering on the edge of it, the aromatic layer not letting it to go further and become a burned tar monster. Quite an achievement. I had a brief affair with tarry leathers like the above mentioned; now I find them outdated and in-your face. This one manages to balance the film noir feeling with an 80's refinement. Good!
Ever since Luca Turin made indoles popular, revealing the chemical connection between jasmine and human decay, indolic became the new dirty and no review of a jasmine fragrance goes without it being classified as 'indolic' or 'non-indolic'. The whole idea of flowers being connected to flesh is somehow strangely fascinating even when the nose disapproves; it's like a surreal, symbolic fantasy has been scientifically proven to exist in the real world. I personally never managed to feel this analogy with my nose, or how jasmine connects to sexiness more than other notes.
Anyway, the point with Lust is that you start to appreciate its lustfulness once you realize what a myriad of non-lustful jasmine scents there is - starting with jasmine green tea, probably most people's first introduction to this flower, and ending up with the surprisingly clean and polite Jasmine et Cigarettes. Jasmine in Lust is heady like tuberose transposed in a different key and that's for me the more understandable clue to lust: its drug-like effect. Losing your rational self, losing control over yourself.
Of course this fragrance also shares the soapy, rubbery, 'natural cosmetics' smell which is so typical for each and every product in a Lush store. But then again, you don't have to actually wear it. Get it just for the sake of this rarely seen face of jasmine.
To be honest I bought it in a hurry after smelling Bond No.9 H.O.T. Always and being amazed by it. I read about the similarities, smelled Gentleman and - true, it was almost the same and much more accessible so I bought under this fresh impression. S little later did I realize that although similar - well, Gentleman has this 'old world' feeling and H.O.T. Always manages to be contemporary. For some time I was actually repulsed by Gentleman and regretted buying it. It had this extreme opening of wet, oily Cuir de Russie and civet, almost like some liquid flowing in the veins of an alien monsterdog. Then it settled to something equally pungent but tamed, soaking oily patchouli.
It was months later when I learned to appreciate this fragrance and wear it outside. I can't remember under what circumstances exactly but the truth is after the pungent animalic blast that tickles the nostrils in a disturbing way, there are lot of nuances coming their way, not exactly sweet (de-sweetened honey, hypnotic patchouli), not exactly bitter (almost herbal vetiver, hypnotic patchouli), with the mildly smoky leather smelling like some luxurious industrial oil, giving depth. Gentleman actually depicts a whole story and yet it looks like composed of very little layers. It manages to completely envelop the wearer in its dark-brown aura. it's actually soothing. It's a masterpiece. Strange thing: aren't all smokey leather-dominant fragrances called 'masterpieces' as long as they're powerful and pungent enough?
Well this fragrance has been so largely discussed that i don't feel capable of adding something substantial to note analysis etc. I can speak only about my relation to it.
Surprisingly, Kingdom turned out to be one of my most versatile scents, maybe topped only by Mugler Cologne. I can always put it on without any special occasion and without too much thinking as it fells right most of the time. And I have this abstract connection between Kingdom and Mugler Cologne, not by notes but - not sure how to say that - some kind of sensual freshness. Mugler Cologne has its citrus top, almost like real cologne would, but then it goes the the Eastern way with musk and then something which give an alien, sci-fi fell to it all. Kingdom does the same with its sweet citrusy opening which then reveals some kind of oriental structure but again, it's fiction not pretending to be authentic or classic, it's the sci-fi remake of an oriental base.
Rose and jasmine, myrrh and raw vanilla, they blend beyond recognition. As about cumin, hasn't it been discussed so vastly everywhere, i would never focus on it, i think it blends perfectly within the slightly smoky base. And I don't think I'm so tolerant to cumin in large doses: I can't stand for example the latest Al Oudh by L'Artisan Parfumeur. Definitely not body odor to my nose in Kingdom. In fact, no extremes at all because of its smooth blending, so smooth it even feels a bit defocused; which just makes it more wearable as it doesn't speak instead of me when I wear it, it just complements me, adds a beauty aspect to the air around me. Not happiness, mind you, not even joy; it's this beauty that always evokes longing so we never say we enjoy beauty as we'd also rarely admit beauty can make us sad. Me, I don't actually know how to feel about beauty. It's just there with its roses and myrrh to turn prose into poetry.
Givenchy Gentleman has since some time became for me a reference "vile patchouli" smell. This strange note which I still find hard to believe belongs to a flower, is neither dry/earthy nor burnt-sugary as in other patchouli creations. Instead, it smells like some kind of liquid leather, warm and alive. More like wet animal than wet soil. First I hated it, then i started to appreciate it and have worn it so far 2 times in public. It's by all means easily memorable, especially when you smell it from close distance.
Now imagine Givenchy decided to make subsequent flankers of Gentleman the same way they did with other frags: first they water it down and remove the civet, calling it Gentleman Eau Legere. Next year they add rose and call it Gentleman Eau Legere Rose Harvest. Finally they come up with Gentleman Eau Legere Rose Harvest - Green Attitude.
That would be Voleur de Roses. The initial opening blast is wet, a bit oily and nearly pungent for a while, settling down to a dark yet fresh rose and patchouli combo with the addition of earthy and a bit creamy green notes which I think I recognize in the recent Nuit de Tubereuse. I always thought I was indifferent to roses but this is the second rose fragrance I really appreciate, first being Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme. Realy nice.
I guess my mind just refuses to believe that there could be something so fleeting and close to non-existence, so I get back to Navegar again and again, thinking:
"There should be something there! I'm just fatally missing something. What's worse, I'm probably never going to see it, I know."
And in the moments when I actually manage to smell it, all I get is a lonely leaf from a lemon tree hanging somehow unbalanced in thin air, ready to fall and vanish in the next moment. It's like a construction made of a couple of tiny elements that don't fit, so the whole thing is really unstable and without any base.
I share the "green, grassy" impression half of the reviewers had. Lemongrass comes to mind, although rubbing yourself with a fresh lemongrass leaf would give ten times stronger projection. These are high quality traces of lemon cologne with a modern touch, ginger added, and that's all.
And when I shove my nose as close as possible, I smell additional cedar just a bit darker than that citrusy surface, more like complementing it in the same key, doing almost nothing to improve the weakness. Incense? Not if you know other L'Artisan frags that contain incense. Here there's just some kind of weak tea infusion with some spices boiled to death in there. In fact, it's all about traces of somethings, traces of this and that. Here transparency, so often discussed as a new direction in perfumery, is set to the level where you don't see the picture anymore. You just see some pale green-yellow, almost merged with the air. Why that name? Why the blue label?
Just when I thought it's all about soft, velvet leather (I think I already recognize Antoine Lie's approach to leather and fancy it a lot) , a fresh unmistakable mint toothpaste accord joined the party. Not in a playful way though. It's a serious, formal fragrance. Pepper jumps in here and there, also managing to be somehow velvety. All in all, L'Essence stays in the typical Italian designer frag territory like dozens of others. Formal in the demonstrative way. Frag that would make your suit look more expensive.
Dust from the past
You know these stories about dead bodies found entirely preserved in their tombs? They kept all their beauty and all the glory of a time long past but once exposed to fresh air a single touch turned them to fine dust.
This is L'Heure Bleue. It has a bouquet of flowers, an ornamented box of make-up, a handkerchief still smelling of Mitsuoko. But they've all been mixed and turned to fine powder. And it projects like powder, not like a liquid. That dried peach taste almost impossible to chew from Mitsuoko is gone with its lively and unavoidable presence; vanilla is not that glorious dark mixture of, say, Shalimar, which would bring Eastern luxury and mysterious pleasures to mind. It's just there, almost vanishing, more like already saying "I was there before". Vanity recycled, dust to dust. Easy to wear, quite true to its name.
A modern fecal. A smell constantly lingering between dusty resinous vanilla and pure warm manure, never both at the same time. Then, vanilla never approaches the Oriental zone and castoreum here never smells like the past or your grandmother.
It's a highly elaborated smell, but it's also a smell that can raise too many questions and I can imagine how it could drastically change one's social life if you wear this on a regular basis.
Social life: yes, that's what can stop you or (in rare cases) encourage you to wear Dzing! Here connections between personal taste and social life seem somehow more obvious.
First it's a beautiful white floral affair with a small spooky gargoyle in the corner to spice things up a little.
Then it's a luxury frankincense soap and you wonder how the guys from the Prada Infusion Division still didn't figure it out: Infusion d'Encens.