Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Diamondflame

Total Reviews: 802

Shooting Stars: Oroville by Xerjoff

A refined and rather gentlemanly fragrance centered around a dusty, mildly aromatic tobacco leaf paired exceedingly well with herbaceous galbanum. Supporting this stellar partnership is the soapy touch of neroli and a nuanced if indistinguishable floral accord.

I perfectly understand the reservations some
may hold for this polite fragrance but if you're a fan of Miller Harris Feuilles de Tabac, this is one you should not miss. Drydown could be better but it is common among most Xerjoffs - it seems to be the house's Achilles heel.

Some years ago I won a prize on BN - to pick one Xerjoff Shooting Star or Casamorati for free. As much as I enjoy Nio and Mefisto, Oroville was my choice. Once in a while you may fancy a blingy smoking jacket. Most times however a crisp understated navy is all you need. Oroville is a similarly astute wardrobe investment. It needs no embellishments.
13th August, 2017

Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent

Kouros, despite its challenging 'unwashed public restroom' opening, remains to be one of YSL's best-selling masculine fragrances. Just who are these buyers? Female baby boomers buying for their husbands? Customers with blocked sinuses and a perpetual cold?

The answer reveals itself after 5-10 minutes when the funky opening loses its potency and your sense of smell recalibrates. What remains in the air is an attractively clean, lightly spiced scent with subtle floral nuances. Texturally it feels dry but neither scratchy nor powdery, a remarkable balancing act achieved within the aromachemical constraints in this post-IFRA era.

Up close and personal, I traced little of the skank that featured in the beginning and unsurprisingly, zero oak moss. Kouros has clearly been stripped of its backbone, usurped of its crown yet retains enough of its overt charms to ring in the cash registers.

Still very good by current standards, but not as great as the vintage. A solid 7 out of 10.
07th August, 2017

Amber Tapestry by Aftelier

Given its name I was half-expecting this to be a decadent amber oriental but no, Amber Tapestry had none of the heft commonly associated with the genre. It has none of the syrupy/oozy texture, opting instead for an airier, more resinous take. Jasmine adds a floral dimension and pairs well with the central golden amber accord. As far as sweetness go, this rates a 3 or at most a 4 on a 10-point scale. Evolution is pretty rapid for an oriental, the scent dissipating to its base notes within 2 hours. I'm sure there are morsels in there that I have missed but in projection, there is little to sink my teeth into.

Overall, a nice enough oriental but a little too polite for my liking. Amber Jasmine from Abdessalam Attar could easily tug at her ponytails and steal her lunchbox.
22nd June, 2017
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Memento Mori by Aftelier

Exactly how would you construct a fragrance as a reminder of your mortality? What notes would you portray? With these questions in mind I emptied the vial over the crook of my arm and was promptly greeted by ...butter? Fatty, creamy and salty. Incredulous perhaps yet unmistakably butter. Within minutes however the butter resolved into something close to skin-like, warm sweaty-salty skin redolent of what smelled like baby oil.

A dark undercurrent grew in strength until the half-hour mark when it took over the centrestage. Bitter. Black. Resinous. Like spent coffee grounds, or the insides of an empty coffee cup. No trace of sugar, no sweetness, no cream. The dollop of butter in the opening act seemed to have melted into the backdrop. The juxtaposition of a bitter burnt element with the saltish fat underpinnings struck me as disturbingly familiar. Then it dawned on me. It was a scent I'd much rather forget. There was no cofee grounds. Nor was there butter. This was not a gourmand. It was the horrific scent of destruction, the sizzle of burning capillaries and shriveling adipose tissue at the end of a white-hot diathermy electrode.

Such a morbid imagery is likely to be mine and remains mine alone, having spent a little eternity at surgeries. While appropriate for the mortality concept, it makes me wonder why anyone would pay this much to smell this awful. That it was composed by a naturalist like Mandy made it doubly inexplicable. Even more ironic was that this mortal reminder flirted with immortality as it lingered on my skin beyond 10 hours and even survived a shower.
19th June, 2017

Black Phantom : Memento Mori by By Kilian

What the ....? Salted caramel, melted butter and coffee dregs?? Smells like a truckstop diner, if you ask me. Now I completely understood the reason for the grinning skull. I even half-expected to see the crew of Punk'd to appear as I type this out...
19th June, 2017

Violet by Franck Boclet

'Violet' says the label on the hefty bottle. The color of the juice appears to be well, violet. If these two things don't already precondition your mind to think of violets, a whiff of the scent should seal the deal. But which aspect of violets is it? The leaf or the flower?

Both IMO. This is the violet plant- flowers, stems and leaves. The herbal-floral bitter-sweetness of the scent reminiscent of the violet leaf note in Dior Fahrenheit and freshly-trampled violet petals in Les Nez The Unicorn Spell. Apparently there are hundreds of variants of violet species- they can't possibly smell identical.

Performance-wise it veers on the discreet side of things, presenting itself as a quiet woody floral. No bells and whistles, the supporting spices bolstering the woodsy base and nothing more. The floral note retires after the first hour but still makes its presence known every now and then.

At €1.25 /ml one can either admire or hate Boclet's no-nonsense approach. I'm a fan of violet so this gets a free pass. But if anyone is specifically after a masculine violet, it's hard to find a better rendition than this. An uncommon option for an uncommon man.

17th May, 2017

Ombré Leather 16 by Tom Ford

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...
28th February, 2017

Rouge Avignon by Phaedon

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.
27th February, 2017

Irish Leather by Memo

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.

27th February, 2017

Cozé 02 by Parfumerie Generale

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 you've been up to no good!"

Girls, remember those guys your mama warned you about? They smell like this.
27th February, 2017

Rose Hubris by Ex Nihilo

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.
20th February, 2017

Mon Numéro 8 by L'Artisan Parfumeur

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.
20th February, 2017

Anthropologie Fictions : Paris, She Met Him In Secret by Anthropologie

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.
20th February, 2017
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Anthropologie Fictions : London, She Knew He Was For-ever by Anthropologie

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.
20th February, 2017

Aqua Allegoria Mentafollia by Guerlain

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.
20th February, 2017

Layton by Parfums de Marly

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.
08th February, 2017

Upper Ten (new) by Lubin

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
04th February, 2017

Bracken Man by Amouage

Something smells weird...and it's coming! 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.
31st January, 2017

Chypre 21 by Heeley

Dear Oak Moss,

Without you, I feel like an impostor. You're sorely missed.

- Chypre 21
13th January, 2017

Vetiver Veritas by Heeley

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.
13th January, 2017

Boy Chanel by Chanel

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'!
31st December, 2016

Lapis Philosophorum by Olivier Durbano

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.
17th September, 2016

Rose Noir by Byredo

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.
28th July, 2016

Oud Immortel by Byredo

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.
27th July, 2016

Accord Oud by Byredo

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.
26th July, 2016

Flowerhead by Byredo

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.
26th July, 2016

Sunday Cologne / Fantastic Man by Byredo

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?
26th July, 2016

Palermo by Byredo

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.
26th July, 2016

Inflorescence by Byredo

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.
25th July, 2016

La Tulipe by Byredo

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'.
24th July, 2016