Perfume Reviews

Reviews by David Ruskin

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Total Reviews: 56

Gabrielle by Chanel

I just smelled this today, and was deeply disappointed. After an initial pleasant opening which reminded me of an attempt to modernise Cristalle (and smelling the opening I wondered "Why bother?") the fragrance developed into a vulgar fruity floral (mainly fruity) mess. The sales assistant who insisted on spraying the sample for me claimed the fragrance contained Jasmine and Neroli. If it does they are both synthetic, with a heavy dose of Hedione, and something screechy and irritating to my nose. "Calyx" is a much better attempt at a fruity floral, I wonder why anyone else bothers to compete. Comparing "Gabrielle" to "Calyx" shows what a wonderful perfumer Sophia Grosjman is. "Calyx" is well blended; "Gabrielle" isn't.

Such a shame.
05th September, 2017

M/Mink by Byredo

This is such a weird one! Animalic Patchouli, with a metallic nasty top caused by the overdose of Adoxal, an aromachemical usually used sparingly. Every now and then I feel the urge to wear this, and when that happens nothing else will do, as there is nothing else like it. If I could give this a thumbs up and this down at the same time, I would. A true love/hate unique fragrance.
08th August, 2017

Wild Fern by Geo F Trumper

A traditional Fougère, with a perfect accord of Lavender, Geranium and Bergamot. IFRA and the EU have caused modifications of this (I have smelled several versions ), and of course I prefer the Oakmoss- rich older formula. A little too much Anise or Tarragon now for my taste, but it still one of the best classical Fougères going. This and Penhaligans are (or were) the best of this type of thing.
03rd April, 2017
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No. 5 L'Eau by Chanel

When I heard about this launch I was worried, when I smelled the fragrance I knew that my worries were justified.

Some time ago Jake and Dinos Chapman caused an (intended) uproar by displaying some Goya prints they had bought and then scribbled over, in the way a child would scribble in a book. I feel that this Chanel palimpsest is a similar "work". The faint shadow of the original masterpiece struggles to make itself known, but has not a hope of succeeding. Most of what made Chanel 5 what it was has been removed, leaving just a vague impression. Then to make quite sure that it is possible to ruin a once great fragrance, there is added a dollop of something so sweet and synthetic that one sniff induces tooth-ache.

This is vile and Chanel should be ashamed.
04th December, 2016

Mon Paris by Yves Saint Laurent

I took one sniff of this and gagged. How horrible can a fragrance be? What was once the quality of Saint Laurent fragrances is utterly lost here. A tooth rottingly sweet synthetic Raspberry. Utterly vile.
11th July, 2016

Tea Rose by Perfumer's Workshop

I remember when this came out, Selfridges reeked! Its launch coincided with the first time that people from various Middle Eastern countries visited Europe, and especially the UK. All the Arab men went wild over Tea Rose. I did too. This was the first fragrance, designed for women (apparently) that I bought and wore. I loved it then, I love it now. A fantastic Rose, superficially simple, but hiding a wonderful complexity.
27th June, 2016

Yatagan by Caron

I remember buying this in 1976, when it had just been launched. I was in Selfridges and tried a spay of Yatagan on my wrist. I recoiled in horror, and left the store. I thought it was the most unpleasant fragrance I had ever smelled (Kouros was yet to be released). 20 minutes later I was back and had bought a bottle. I have never experienced such a quick and complete 180 degree change of opinion before, or since.

Such a complex fragrance needs to be learned. I still own some of an old bottle of Yatagan, and, trying to keep it for as long as possible, wear it rarely. I also have a more recent bottle which I wear a lot. Comparing the two shows how this beast has been tamed. The later is a shadowy caricature of the former, and whilst still good is as nothing when smelled side by side with the original. If you like leather and Patchouli, then this is for you. If you hate the smell of Celery (and those that do, hate with a passion) avoid this (especially the vintage version).
12th June, 2016

Dzongkha by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Normally I dislike milky notes in a fragrance (Feu d'Issy made me feel physically sick), but this is the exception to the rule. The milky note works so well in Dzongkha, and combines perfectly with the dry powdery Ionone and Cedarwood accord. This is a lovely complex but subtle fragrance.

I have noted the comments made by others that this fragrance lasts for a very long time, and is very powerful. I do not experience this. Maybe I have bought a reformulated version, but I don't find this especially strong, and I don't think it lasts longer than many other fragrances I own. However, I am not complaining. It is no where near as diffusive as Timbuktu, but is much better blended (not that I'm knocking Timbuktu).
24th May, 2016

Grès pour Homme by Grès

I still own a very, very old sample of this fragrance (from the 1980s). It has mostly turned although I still wear it occasionally for the wonderful old fashioned dry down. Masses of Moss and Musk Ambrette. A good Lavender Fougere; bitter and aromatic, citrus and agrestic, mossy and musky. I wish there were more fragrances of this quality made today.
18th March, 2016

Le Pamplemousse by Miller Harris

This opens with a wonderfully balanced blast of Grapefruit, which seems to last longer than most other blasts of Grapefruit. However, there is something about this fragrance that no-one else has mentioned; how very green it is. It is almost as if the Grapefruit note, it is called Pamplemousse after all, is an irrelevance , and it is the Green that dominates. A bitter Galbanum which works so well with the Grapefruit. The first hour or so of this fragrance is quite wonderful. After that, unfortunately, things start going down hill. This is why I have given it a "neutral" rating. There is far too much Hedione in this fragrance, and after those first wonderful hours, Pamplemousse starts turning in to a smell that is in a hundred other Perfumes. What a shame that such an enjoyable Top should become such a boring Base.
21st February, 2016

Je Reviens by Worth

I smelled the most recent version of this the other day. How very horrible it is. I can remember this fragrance from the 1970s, and whilst, then, I did not like it, I realised that it was a very clever, well put together, original fragrance. There was, at the time, nothing like it. What has happened? It is now a badly constructed, aldehydic mess. After, maybe ten minutes, all I can smell are Aldehydes. After that, I gave up and threw the smelling strip away.

What I smelled recently should not be called "Je Reviens".
30th January, 2016

Salome by Papillon Artisan Perfumes

What a disappointment! Having heard so much about this fragrance I really wanted to like it. I love animalic fragrances, and the notes describing Salome sounded as if I would enjoy this. On first spraying it seemed perfect. Complex, animalic musk, oriental. Then after about an hour I started noticing the smell of soap, which got stronger and stronger and overpowered everything else. Not the smell of Aldehydes, nor a typical soap fragrance, but unfragranced, sour, fatty, greasy soap base. It is horrible and I can still smell it three hours later. Once again I find this to be a badly blended fragrance . Maybe with better evaluation it could have been saved. What a shame.

ADDENDUM. Tried this on Monday, it is now Wednesday and I can still smell it. Or the last traces of it anyway.
11th January, 2016 (last edited: 13th January, 2016)

Anubis by Papillon Artisan Perfumes

This just does not work on my skin. From the moment I sprayed it on my wrist, all I could smell was Styrax; indeed at first all I could smell was Styrene. It may well have all the other notes as claimed, but they were wasted on me. After a few hours, the fragrance had faded into a soft suede/leather, but I could still smell the Styrene. Not could, badly composed and badly blended. There are many better leathers.

ADDENDUM. I tested the fragrance on Monday, it is now Wednesday and I can still smell traces of it. And yes, I have washed in-between! Remarkable!
11th January, 2016 (last edited: 13th January, 2016)
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Chloé (original) by Chloé

I love this fragrance. Apart from vintage Fracas it is the best Tuberose fragrance ever; nothing compares to it, nothing comes close. It is such a shame that it was discontinued.

It was my mother's favourite fragrance, so I may be a tad biased!
19th December, 2015

Bang by Marc Jacobs

So what can I add? It's nicely blended. It smells of Pepper. It is based on a typical woody amber Fougere. It lasts for about an hour, if you're lucky. You can smell it from about 3 inches away. It is more of a "Pfft" than a Bang. I bought my bottle in TK Maxx, as it was so cheap.
13th December, 2015

Feuilles de Tabac by Miller Harris

I first became aware of this when I bought the shaving soap, so I'm a bit surprised that it is officially described as unisex. From memory the shaving soap was a lot more Patchouli woody than the EdP, but is fairly similar. It is a nice light woody herbal. I don't find it especially Fougere, nor does it remind me of any other fragrances; certainly not Old Spice nor Havana. Not as floral as the first, not as Labdanum rich as the second. There is a vetiver greenness together with a liberal use of modern woody amber molecules. It is well blended, and lasts a reasonably long time. If I owned a chest wig I would wear this all of the time. As it is, I will wear it when I have become bored with flowers and sweet orientals. It is a perfect opposite to Agent Provocateur, or L'Heure Bleu, or Tea Rose (all of which I wear). To be perverse I should wear it with purple silk shirt, and maybe a touch of makeup; just to confuse the punters. Or maybe not.
16th November, 2015

Mon Numéro 10 by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Well made, well blended, interesting. I enjoy the Olibanum and the herbs. Slightly Amber, slightly sweet, slightly Citrus, slightly Peppery. Complex enough to keep my interest, with nothing sticking out and spoiling the well rounded totality.
16th November, 2015

L'Eau d'Ambre by L'Artisan Parfumeur

It's alright if you like that sort of thing, and if you do like that sort of thing there are many others that you will probably prefer (see other reviews for suggestions). I love the Amber accord/base, but this is a little too timid for me. After a few minutes on the smelling strip there is apparent a slight milky sweetness which I don't particularly enjoy, but it doesn't last long. I really cannot get excited about this, but don't hate it. I'll wear it when I cannot think of anything else to wear.
16th November, 2015

Calyx by Prescriptives

No longer owned by Prescriptives but now handled by another Estee Lauder company, Clinique. Calyx is such a clever fragrance; I still don't understand how it works. It is brash, strong, fruity, sour; it should be horrible and yet it isn't. Compare Calyx with any Escada fragrance and you will understand ( a little ) why. There are none of the over ripe strawberry jam notes, nor the sickeningly sweet fake gourmand ones. The sweetness is balanced by the sour; the cat's pee calms down the synthetic fruits, and, overall, a wonderful Rose slowly reveals itself. For such a toppy fragrance it lasts a surprisingly long time; for such an apparently simple idea it is remarkably complex. It is a fragrance to make you smile, and I am so glad that it is still being promoted and sold. I was given a small sample when I bought some Clinique products recently. Sofia Grojsman is, of course, a genius.
09th October, 2015

Sauvage by Christian Dior

Thoroughly nasty, harsh and chemical. This has nothing to do with the classic, original Eau Sauvage; mind you neither has the current version. Dior plummets even further down in my estimation.
14th September, 2015

Safran Troublant by L'Artisan Parfumeur

This is delicious; a Perfumery equivalent of a Custard Tart but with Clove rather than Nutmeg. It opens soft and Vanilla sweet. Gradually Clove appears; the whole is beautifully blended. There may be some Saffron there but if there is I can hardly detect it. Judging by the colour of the fragrance, if there is some Saffron it is just a smidgeon, or a colourless variety was used.

Wish it lasted longer, but I'm happy with the strength. All in all a "thumbs up".
18th August, 2015

LAVS by Unum

Actively unpleasant. Cracked Olibanum with metallic Bay and a touch of Pepper. As it dries down it gets more smoky. Just nasty.

I am reminded of Talulah Bankhead's comment once when, unusually, she was in church. As the priest approached swinging his incense she lent across and declared,"Love your drag darling, but do you know your purse is on fire?"
30th June, 2015

Rosa Nigra by Unum

When I first smelled this my reaction was "meh". It's a Rose. There's Geranium. It gets sweeter. There's a bit of Vanilla. It fades away.
30th June, 2015

Opus 1144 by Unum

It smells to me like a pretty good Shalimar knock off; and I'm giving it a thumbs up because I love Shalimar
30th June, 2015

Agent Provocateur by Agent Provocateur

Strong and sexy, long lasting with great silage; what's not to like? The combination of Rose and Saffron works so well, maybe more Civet would have improved this, but it's pretty damn good as it is. A Westernised version of the familiar accord found in so many Indian, and Arabic fragrances I know it's supposed to be for women, but I love wearing it, and I think all men could get away with it. It is somewhat old fashioned in that it reminds me of the classic Jean-Marc Sinan fragrance, and also, although I don't know why, Paloma Picasso. Let's hope the new owners of AP don't go and spoil things.
22nd June, 2015

L'Air de Rien by Miller Harris

When I first smelled and then bought this fragrance, on the recommendation in Luca Turin's book , I fell in love. I loved the complexity, I loved the way it changed from heavy white floral to skanky mossy chypre, I loved, loved, loved, the dry down of Oakmoss and Nitromusks; lots of Nitromusks. I gave it a high score, and a "thumbs up". Sadly all has changed. Since IFRA has declared war on Moss and Nitromusks, L'Air has been reformulated. The initial smell is good, and appears unchanged. Unfortunatley as it dries down, so the difference between old and new versions become greater and greater. This seems to be the case for many classics that have been reformulated; all the work has been done to keep the Top note the same, with little concern about the Drydown. The latest version of L'Air de Rien completely lacks any mossiness, and has no Nitromusk. The Drydown is weak and thin. Such a shame! The most recent version gets a "meh".
08th May, 2015 (last edited: 19th February, 2016)

Kiehl's Original Musk by Kiehl's

Musc Koblai Khan's shy brother. I have no idea how this smelled when first launched, but now it is a not unpleasant, fairly animalic Musk. Apart from the initial Top note, which smells, to me, strongly of Benzaldehyde, and which I don't like, it settles into an enjoyable, slightly raunchy (can you have slightly raunchy?) fragrance. It is a lot cheaper than MKK, and not nearly as edgy. It can be worn when you can't think of what else to wear.
22nd March, 2015

Mouchoir de Monsieur by Guerlain

For those of you who used to love the old Jicky (and who doesn't?) but are somewhat disappointed with the most recent reformulation, may I suggest you try Mouchoir de Monsieur. Supposedly the masculine version of Jicky, it is more strident and citric than its female partner, but so much more interesting than the current version. I dipped and compared modern Jicky, 90s Jicky and modern MdM. What lets modern Jicky down are the Base notes; they are really boring. A glutinous mess of modern musks, with none of the Moss, Civet or proper musk that used to be there. MdM has more Civet, and a far more interesting dry down. It, and Jicky are wonderful Fougeres which have been reformulated. Jicky has suffered the most, MdM is still holding out.
18th March, 2015 (last edited: 09th July, 2015)

Bluebell by Penhaligon's

This fragrance makes me smile. It smells just like Hyacinths, and reminds me of Spring. It is not very sophisticated or clever; it is just lovely. Knowing how simple the formula is (I worked on the Bath Oil version when there was a technical problem ) I think it is clever to have achieved such an effect.
24th February, 2015

Thé Pour un Été by L'Artisan Parfumeur

A sweet little Jasmin. What else can I say? meh.

Well, after a few hours it turns into a big Tea fragrance. It reminds me of CK1. So, CK1 with a big dollop of Jasmin; every house wants one of those eh?
22nd February, 2015