Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Diamondflame

Total Reviews: 808

11 by Le Cherche Midi

Light, airy and as fleetingly refreshing as a cream soda popsicle on a sweltering day, 11 seems to me like a lighter, less robust take on Xerjoff’s original 1861 with its ozonic undercurrent running through a more conventional pairing of minty-citrusy top notes and a faintly creamy tonka base. It lasted a little longer than the popsicle but I loved every second of it.
17th January, 2018

Inverno Russo by Areej le Doré

It's taken me a while longer than usual to write about INVERNO RUSSO. While it shares the same DNA as the amazing SIBERIAN MUSK, to pigeonhole it simply as a quieter, more floral rendition would be missing the mark.

The Siberian deer musk element has been toned down in here yet sports the same unmistakable velveteen signature albeit a touch more animalic, augmented as it were by the inclusion of synthetic civet. Someone thought it smells like 'butt', but I wouldn't go that far. It's definitely not skanky; to my nose it smells more like dried saliva on self-groomed felines and the few times I've worn it this animalic aspect harmonizes well with the white florals and the creamy-ambery base.

Sillage is adequate though I feel it doesn't project and envelope the wearer nearly as well as Siberian Musk.

The thing is it seems to wear a little differently every time I spritz some on my skin. On cool dry evenings my favourite aspect -the musky rose- hangs around longer, while on warmer humid days the florals are subdued and short-lived, the scent skipping right to the oriental base in as short a time as 2 hours. This is not a knock on the fragrance but a reality challenge especially if you happen to live in warmer climates and not in the frigid cold of a Russian winter.

21st October, 2017

Join The Club : 40 Knots by Xerjoff

Rum-soaked woods, sweetened with anise and fizzy like champagne. Smells like a party in here! On a luxury yatch no less, after winning the regatta. Or perhaps toasting a merry Capt. Jack Sparrow on the Black Pearl. Your choice.

Fans of Kilian's Straight to Heaven would no doubt find this enjoyable.

29th September, 2017
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Musk Rose by The Rising Phoenix Perfumery

At first sniff it is probably easy to write this off as just another oriental built around a typical rose-oud axis. But like any good tale it unfolds itself at its own languid pace with enough twists in the plot to keep even the most jaded of noses enraptured.

The star of the show is without a doubt the rose. It is front and center, an opulent red ruby of a gem with facets that shift from citric tartness to boozy-velvety musk. Teasingly faint nuances covering a range from earthy-woody to buttery-creamy to herbal-spicy suggest a possible inclusion of aged oud, sandalwood, even henna. But having experienced genuine deer musk I don't quite get the sense that there is any in here although it does get musky as the rose retires with the passing hours.

Musk Rose is a remarkable scent, one that seems to unfold in slightly different ways with each wearing. The quality of ingredients is top-notch. Given the limited volume of sample at hand I can't help but feel like King Shahryar at the approach of dawn, held spellbound by Scheherazade's final tale and deeply sorrowful as 1001 nights came to an end.
19th September, 2017

Cuir de Russie by Le Jardin Retrouvé

My fascination (or should I say obsession?) with leather scents probably began many years ago when I was but a wee lad, a 13-year old junior police cadet who spent most Friday nights polishing a pair of leather boots for Saturday morning footdrill. There is something simply compelling about the faintly smoky-tarry scent of a well-polished tanned leather. That it had actually inspired an entire genre of fragrance: Russian Leather or Cuir de Russie came as no surprise to me.

While some renditions stay closer to the inspiration, others including Chanel's own stalwart have adopted a looser interpretation. Le Jardin Retrouvé belongs in this latter group, eschewing the typical smoky birch tar aspects for a more elegant floral-soft leather gloves approach. Pairing violets to smoky cade wood and styrax-driven leather accord places it in the well-heeled company of Heeley's Cuir Pleine Fleur but a hint of dirt and the ambery warmth imparted by a dusting of cinnamon reminds me more of Lutens' Cuir Mauresque.

Le Jardin Retrouvé Cuir de Russie wears close to skin after the first hour but shows remarkable persistence, making its graceful presence felt with movement and slight elevation of body heat hours after you think it has retired for good. While it can be worn with just about any threads I feel it is probably not a scent you'd expect to smell from the jeans-and-tee, extreme-couponing brigade.

Scent-wise, it doesn't quite take me back to the parade square of my youth. But it does evoke a familiar refrain albeit one issued in a more civilized tone- a one-worded command: ATTENTION.

Persistent accord: floral leather
Fleeting notes: violet, cinnamon
Style: elegant, dandy
Social setting: black tie
Movie /fictional character: Edmond Dantes (Count of Monte Cristo)
Scent cousins: Heeley Cuir Pleine Fleuir, Chanel Cuir de Russie, Lutens Cuir Mauresque
Scent Quality: 8
Projection: 7 ( if you play it subtle), 4 (if you like it loud and proud)
Sillage: 4
Longevity: 5-6 hours
Value for money: 7.5 ( €1.20-1.48/ml)
Overall rating: 7.8 out of 10

13th September, 2017

Siberian Musk by Areej le Doré


I can't remember the last time a fragrance made me feel grateful but that's exactly how I feel every time I catch a whiff of Siberian Musk. Grateful that I managed to snag a bottle for the privilege to wear it a little less sparringly. Grateful to fellow perfume-lovers Starblind and ClaireV for bringing it to my attention. Grateful to Russian Adam for pulling all the stops to bring us this scintillating gem.

Siberian Musk opens somewhat conventionally with a limey cocktail of juicy citruses cut by a shot of smoky pine. The musk arrives shortly with its entourage and as it takes centrestage, no doubt remains as to who the superstar of the show really is.

It seems Russian Adam have taken a lighthanded approach in crafting Siberian Musk. The featured deer musk is surprisingly nowhere near as animalic as I initially expected; it smells more like the fur of a ragdoll basking in the sun after a bath. If you're big into skanky or fiercely animalic musks this could potentially be a major source of disappointment. But not for me, thankfully, though it is hard to adequately describe a scent that moves me on such a visceral level.

Some lucky owners claim they get insane longevity with Siberian Musk but on my skin and in this humidity I only get 6-8 hours on average, the musk weaving in and out leaving traces of foliage and orange blossoms for the first 3-4 hours before petering out to a faintly mossy-herbal chypre-like drydown. But you won't hear me complaining. Get some on my clothes and I stay in business for a good 24, at least.

If I may borrow an analogy, think of the finest green chypre you have ever known and layer it over the plushest most comforting natural musk you can imagine. That is the essence of Siberian Musk. Wearing 4-5 full sprays provides an unforgettable experience akin to luxuriating in the warm embrace of the softest most magnificent sable cloaks still redolent of a classic chypre worn the day before (at the Tsar's coronation, I might add).

For me Siberian Musk is one of those rare fragrances that illustrate why great fragrances are worn rather than simply applied on. This is the fragrance Roja Dove would probably kill to have in his line up. Exclusive to Harrod's, of course and priced upwards of $5,000 a bottle. Sorry, Monsieur Roja, all 100 bottles were already sold out. And the queue for version 2.0 seems to be getting longer by the day.

2017 may not be over yet but a few of us already know what the best fragrance find of the year is going to be.
21st August, 2017 (last edited: 23rd August, 2017)

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

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
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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

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