Taking a whiff of the opening, it seems to me Tom Ford has taken a (violet) leaf right out of Fahrenheit's playbook with this recent interpretation of floral leather. Unfortunately this attractively bold combination fails to hold its structure beyond the first hour, leaving behind what smells like a stripped down fascimile of Tuscan Leather sans the fruity 'bells and whistles' that made it such a polarizing 'cult-of-personality' fragrance.
Ombré Leather 16 is the proverbial nice guy who explodes out of the blocks to lead the pack but quickly runs out of steam and finishes last. Perhaps we should wait for version 17...
A sweet touch of spiced rose and raspberry jam at the top takes the opening ever so slightly into gourmandish territory but on skin Rouge Avignon settles quickly into a cozy fuzzy-musky fragrance built around a tenacious base of warm amber and creamy sandalwood.
Nothing groundbreaking by all accounts. But when a fragrance hugs you like a soft cashmere sweater in the autumn chill you know you have a winner on your hands.
A cold if somewhat harsh bitter-green birch leather barely held in check by a dollop of buttery iris and ambery tonka.
I too took a sniff of the hefty price tag but it revealed nothing. They say - fear has a smell? Well, so does bullshit.
Anyway, I can see how Irish Leather's modern construction might come across as 'industrial' or 'synthetic' to certain noses particularly up close but if you're after a green leather, this could well be your leprechaun. And if you're as lucky as I was, it wears amazingly well like a sharply masculine Chanel No.19.
A fearless thumbs up from this reviewer.
Warm. Aromatic. Bittersweet. Narcotic. Hypnotic. Dusty. Woodsy. Musky. Masculine. Sweaty. Leathery. Raunchy. Dangerous...
I wore Coze for the first time the other day and it wasn't long before I had to stifle a chuckle. It was giving me a high.
"Gosh! This smells like...uhh...like you've been up to no good!"
Girls, remember those guys your mama warned you about? They smell like this.
A watery yet sweetish rose scent over a scrubbed-clean lightly floral-minty patchouli. Airy and transparent, kinda like Ulrich Lang's Nightscape with a dash of rose syrup.
Pleasantly wearable for either gender with adequate but modest performance metrics. In the final analysis, its reticent personality just does not make quite as romantic a statement as MFK's Lumiere Noire pour Homme or Serge Lutens' La Fille de Berlin.
Smelling Mon Numéro 8 reminds me of a lovely girl I used to know whose cheeks I kissed as we said our goodbyes so many years ago. They were soft yet cool to the touch, with light barely-there makeup, framed by freshly shampoo-ed hair, tinged with her own unique musk I had somehow grown accustomed to.
I must say Mon Numéro 8 is one elegant, rather sophisticated acquaintance I had the pleasure of making. It felt like Bertrand Duchafour pulled a L'Artisan out of a Chanel Exclusif. It is shaping up to be one of those goodbyes I don't wish to make again.
While London: She Knew He Was Forever was clearly a pre-internet long distance romance, a snail mail lovingly crafted over a cup of tea, Paris: She Met Him In Secret is where the lovers' pent up longings culminate in a sweaty raunchy reunion.
Violet and iris are natural pairs but violet leaf and iris make for a rather unusual tension-filled coupling. The tension threatens to derail the composition right off the bat if it wasn't held cohesively together by the star of the show: leather.
Here in Paris, the leather snarls at the start of the lustful shirt-tearing encounter but towards the end as the reunited couple fell asleep in each other's embrace, it purrs quietly, its fury expended.
OK, you could tell I'm making this all up. You're right. But when a fragrance gets someone to do that, it is probably something worth checking out.
A transparent yet pleasant composition based on (yet another) floral tea, warmed with what could only be a miserly drop of honey.
As far as originality is concerned this is clearly derivative but the name does make a play for the heartstrings:
She knew he was for ever.
What she didn't know was this fragrance doesn't stick around long enough for anyone to fall in love with.
The olfactory impression I had while wearing this was that of a light floral tea flavored with citrus peel shavings and crushed mint leaves. If polite and pleasant company is what you're after, Mentafollia fits the bill. Personally I much prefer her greener, less sedate mint-chewing cousin, Herba Fresca.
LAYTON is a surprisingly deft juggling act involving 3 principal components: the fruity, the floral and the woodsy. The wonderful harmony of notes sustained in the first 30 minutes is probably enough to seal the deal for many. That it stretches and projects for another couple of hours feels like a bonus.
Other than the house's typical veneer of synthetics which I don't particularly care for, Layton smells good enough to wear on casual dates. Its likeability factor seems to come from the touch of powder and a hint of fruity sweetness amidst the woodsy base, placing this fragrance well within the gender-neutral category.
Yet it smells disturbingly familiar... And then it hits me. Paco Rabanne One Million.
Upper Ten's marketing backstory about the 10,000 powerful visionaries who made America great is a lot more interesting than the scent itself which on first few impressions felt somewhat derivative, reminiscent of 1980s' designer masculine blends of floral talcy-musky woods and fresh spices. Like a tamer (lamer?) version of Drakkar Noir or Anthracite pour Homme.
Overall I thought it smells and performs decently enough to wear but for a Lubin, it inevitably falls short of critics' expectations. Neither did it win points for spinning a historic yarn to mask its clear lack of originality and cheap, synthetic construction.
In case anyone wishes to convince themselves of this fragrance's superior'quality', I have the taken the liberty to list down the official notes. But in my humble estimation, Upper 10 fails to register any higher than 6 or 6.5 out of 10. I suppose that means we'll have to wait longer before anyone makes America great again.
Italian bergamot, bay rose, saffron, juniper berry
Cinnamon, cardamom, peach, orange blossom,
Cedar, sandalwood, leather, patchouli, white musk, dry amber
Something smells weird...and it's coming from...me! Thanks, Bracken Man? Had I encountered this scent when I first dipped my toes into niche territory years ago I'd have wrinkled my nose and wondered why any sane person would want to smell of...mothballs?
Bracken Man opens on skin with some nose-searing aromatics. Herbal, with a deep green unmistakably fougere-ish undercurrents punctuated in places by patchouli's earthy soil-like browns and warm prickly woodspices.
I've worn Bracken Man a number of times over several weeks and each time I struggled to find the love. Clearly this Amouage doesn't suit my tastes. Yes, it pays homage to masculine fougeres of bygone eras but it does so by employing clever illusions of cloves and carnations, and supports the structure using a woefully inadequate base of dry woods and musk. The importance of coumarin and oft-times oakmoss is telling by its absence and leaves the composition less surefooted than it could have been.
Bracken Man may have found his favorite old riding cloak. But in his haste to clear IFRA-imposed hurdles, he seemed to have forgotten his breeches.
Dear Oak Moss,
Without you, I feel like an impostor. You're sorely missed.
- Chypre 21
Herbal and minty in the beginning, natural-smelling damp and rooty Haitian vetiver the rest of the way. It's like one of those songs with a promisingly catchy opening hook but falls into a repetitive loop as it moves along. If mentholated vetiver scent is your thing, be sure to check this Heeley out. Personally I found it crude and a little dull.
Smells attractive? Check.
Smells contemporary? Check.
Smells gender-neutral? Check.
Smells like a Chanel? Check.
IMO Polge and Sheldrake nailed the brief. While Misia goes a little heavyhanded on the iris-violet makeup vibe, Boy stays light and airy throughout even when the powdery almondlike heliotropic note came on in the mid-phase. What surprises me the most however is its aromatic faintly fougere-ish opening that somehow bears the soapy translucent imprint of the iconic No.5. It almost smells like Fougere Royale given a Chanel makeover.
While this could easily be a Neutral rating for me, that little sleight-of-hand in the opening act impressed me enough to win a full sized 'Thumbs Up'!
Opening tantalizingly like a good vintage of red, it resolves perhaps a little too quickly into a balsamic incense accord. I felt the most exciting part of Lapis Philosophorum happens in the first 5 minutes during a tug of war between the cool mentholated grape-like aspects and the warmer undercurrents. It's like watching a tightrope performer teetering precariously over a precipice.
A breath-taking 5-minute act. Unsurprisingly the applause lasts a lot longer.
Rose Noir? More like a rose bore, if you ask me. I've given it a couple of wears and each time I wished I had worn something else. I just can't find any personality in this reticent lightly dusty rose facsimile. Perhaps we just don't click.
The opening is more attractive than that of Accord Oud, with none of the latter's gasoline fume-like aspects despite sharing a similar dark smoky-woodsy central accord, replaced by a berry-like facet that tempers the band-aid tint that is oft-associated with synthetic oud constructs. Unfortunately this intriguing phase runs out of gas within the hour as a dry patchouli accord asserts itself.
As the scent unfolds, I don't detect any styles of tobacco whatsoever so I won't try to blow smoke up anyone's ....!
This Byredo is not particularly loud but has enough presence to make someone notice you're there. I'm not convinced that's a good thing though. While the occasional whiff is acceptable, a more prolonged exposure starts to grate on the senses, like listening to a bad recording of a favorite song.
ACCORD OUD moves through its phases from burning plastics and tyres to rum-soaked hides to soiled rotting logs without ever truly smelling of any real oud I've come across. It's not a bad scent but that doesn't automatically make it a good one either. There is an overarching chemical vibe and textural monotony about it that I don't really care for.
A shrill bouquet of floral aromachemicals put together without much callibration. If you're familiar with higher quality more accomplished floral arrangements you'll know this Byredo comes across distinctly amateurish and cheap.
An easygoing take on the spicy-fresh aromatic masculine cologne. Lacking the richness and dimensionality of all-natural blends it's well-blended (sparse?) enough for me not to be distracted by any particular note's shortcomings. I find traces of spiced vetiver reminding me somewhat of a milder Terre d'Hermes.
Pleasantly versatile to wear on a regular basis but calling it 'fantastic' is definitely a stretch too far. Right, Mr. Reed Richards?
A mildly fruity-citrusy scent reminiscent of pomelo pulps rather than grapefruit, smelling as though I'd peeled off the fruit, got the juices all over my hands and forgotten to wash them off. I don't know how truly representative it is of Palermo but its discreetly soft tang and clean musk makes it easily wearable as a gender-neutral fragrance. Unfortunately for a Byredo it performs well below my expectations.
Luminous, soapy and predominantly green, this floral number triggers off the alarm on my synthetic-o-meter. While I can't fault its on-skin performance, it smells way too much like a dishwashing liquid to warrant a better rating.
I just can't shake off the singular association I've formed with freesia since I was a kid. Whenever I smell this note I'm reminded of bath talc. Well, the same sort of thing happened with TULIPE though the note takes more of a backseat to the central white floral accord.
What a lovely floral! It hums along rather than shrieks, and feels pitch-perfect for a blushing young bride. Outside of weddings, however, I just can't see anyone rocking this unless her name is 'Mary Poppins'.
A soft almost creamy bergamot and floral musk. A textural hint of vetiver puts it in the same postcode as Original Vetiver. Though not quite as diffusive and distinctive as the Creed its persistence on skin is nevertheless commendable.
A case where the sum feels a lot less than its component parts. A plummy-saffrony-woody-floral oriental if I were pushed into classifying it. But if I'm brutally honest, it actually smells flat, the notes melding into one big synthetic linear accord. No significant leather to be found either, texturally or otherwise. Perhaps it's been reformulated?
To its credit BULLION projects very well, smelling attractively like a veiled sultry courtesan from a sheikh's harem. Such a conjured imagery alone is enough to give me *cough* I mean, give this fragrance a rise and that, my friends, is no bull. I'd certainly raise an eyebrow and perhaps flare a nostril too were I to smell this on a straight guy.
Acrid and inky. The scent of a photocopier toner cartridge, more or less. Something tells me I should spend less time at the office...
Clean and airy, a transparent gin and vetiver scent, with a faint hint of dry green bitterness that in my mind places it firmly in the masculine territory. Nice and versatile, with modest projection. Don't be swayed by the listed notes though, they are red herrings.
I must confess I'm not a basketball fan. I don't know who Russell Westbrook is. If this fragrance is a reflection of the kind of competitor he is then I guess he must be a competent though not particularly outstanding player. A team player. My kind of player.
That's why I'm giving this a thumbs up.
Here's Byredo attempting to pull a Guerlain, with predictably laughable results. The bright and coniferous opening engages the nose before segueing to a light peppery orris and incense. Nice! It projects well too.
What a good start, or so I thought.
Unfortunately the party was soon gatecrashed by a lumbering ambery-vanillic accord that overstayed its welcome and just about overwhelmed everything save for the persistent incense.
If you enjoy vanillic insense scents as much as I do this is probably middle of the pack, some ways behind Atelier who did a far superior job with their Insensee Vanille.
A pleasant airy take on the incense genre that focuses on the lemony and resinous aspects of frankincense, ably supported by an appropriately assembled cast of players including elemi, clean musk and bergamot.
ENCENS CHEMBUR projects well and maintains a noticeable presence despite its more restrained personality. While I agree it is not particularly riveting I do appreciate its affable, easygoing nature.
So what if it costs a pretty penny? Sometimes you just want to hang out with your fragrance friend and not rack your brains figuring out its intentions.