Reviews by Diamondflame

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    Diamondflame
    Singapore Singapore

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    Diaghilev by Roja Dove

    A flawlessly executed classically-styled floral chypré of impeccably elegant proportions. No further explanation is necessary if you're familiar with this genre. With Diaghilev, Roja Dove didn't exactly re-invent the wheel. He'd carefully repackaged the old wheel, sold them to a generation of fragrance wearers who lost their holy grails through discontinuation or reformulations, and laughed his way to the bank. Genius.

    01st September, 2014

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    Cuir Cannage by Christian Dior

    Smells like a watered down version of Leather Oud, if you ask me. The barnyard animalics are still patently evident with the addition of florals brightening it up somewhat. I don't find it to be overtly masculine either, particularly in the absence of birch tar. Texture-wise it feels buttery and soft, not so much as suede-like but more like nubuck. Apparently the scent was inspired by the inside of a leather bag? *Yawns*

    Dior has finally paid homage to Chanel's Cuir de Russie.

    31st August, 2014

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    Givenchy III by Givenchy

    *** This review is of the original vintage ***

    Greener than the earlier reviewed Jolie Madame, Givenchy III opens with bergamot and galbanum. The central floral accord gets more noticeable with time but its sweet floralcy and intensity is held firmly in check by the deeply earthy-mossy base. The balance is immaculate, the structure holding its form remarkably well. I must agree with earlier suggestions that this is one helluva chypre that could be easily worn by either gender.

    12 August, 2014

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    By Man by Dolce & Gabbana

    A soapy lavender and herbaceous peppery start gives way to slightly leathery woods and ambery resins, with a slight gourmand touch that seems reminiscent of Penhaligon's Endymion. On skin By Man transitions swiftly across the phases and smells wonderfully aromatic but it is short-lived. Unfortunately, so was its run.

    12 August, 2014

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    Jolie Madame by Pierre Balmain

    **** This review is of the vintage. ****

    I am charmed if not smitten by this rather easy-going floral chypre from the '50s. Unlike Patou 1000, the florals are present without overwhelming, the civet modestly applied, blending in beautifully with the chypre's lightly mossy base. Like sun rays filtering through the foliage, there is a radiance that glows from within. Oh, to smell this on a woman!

    12 August, 2014

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    Montecristo by Masque

    Montecristo's opening is not something I particularly care for - it's like stumbling upon an old codger's smoking hideout in the attic, the air dusty and musty, with a warm tinge of sweetness redolent of stale cigar smoke and dry tobacco leaves. To my mind it has this raw yet cozy if somewhat unpolished quality that steers it away from 'sophisticated gentleman' right into 'grandpa' territory. Evocative composition it may be but not necessarily something I would want to wear.

    12 August, 2014

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    Speakeasy by Frapin

    Smells of minty cocktails, faux leather and suede. The best part was probably the first 5 to 10 minutes when the perky waitress brought me the house special. Thereafter everything started to go hazy with whispered voices and snatches of conversation. Perhaps I should have sprayed this one on rather than sipped.

    29 July, 2014

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    Oud Ispahan by Christian Dior

    A somewhat poised rose-oud composition which treads gently on the genre. The rose patchouli accord is well executed here, very smooth with just a smidgen of animalic oud similar to the one I found in Leather Oud, lending it additional depth. Oud Ispahan projects very well and has above average longevity but there is a certain dryness about it that to my nose is reminiscent of the ubiquitous woody amber found in many masculine fragrances of late. While far from spectacular, still a solid offering from the house of Dior.

    29 July, 2014

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    Gold Leather by Atelier Cologne

    Straight to Heaven meets Leather Oud as Gold Leather opens with a boozy-fruity rum accord over woodsy hints of guaiac wood, something herbal-minty and something subtly animalic or barnyard-like. No leather yet but I'm enjoying this phase too much to complain. It takes the better part of an hour before the tops taper off and the leather grows a little more noticeable- it's warm if slightly salty. Like a well worn jacket it hugs the skin closely and seldom projects beyond a few inches. Perhaps my nose is jaded but by this time I'm almost bored to tears. Despite its promising start, Gold Leather chooses to play it safe and ends up right smack in the middle of the road where it quickly gets overtaken by other leather scents with more verve and personality.

    10th July, 2014

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    Nawab of Oudh by Ormonde Jayne

    In case anyone is still wondering, oud only plays a supporting role in this gender-neutral composition. Much as civet does in certain vintage fragrances, the oud accord exists only to lend an animalic facet albeit fleetingly to an otherwise well-behaved spiced floral. It is a surprisingly comforting scent, the temperate and textural elements working harmoniously to create an invitingly warm and fuzzy vibe for that nice little snuggle with a loved one.

    29 June, 2014

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    Tsarina by Ormonde Jayne

    Wow. This lady certainly knows how to make an entrance. The enveloping melange of piquantly spiced vanilla and powdery iris delivers a statement with all the impact of a royal decree. This is not a fragrance for shrinking violets and bashful wallflowers but a scintillating jewel worn by the bold and the beautiful. It projects confidently, the constant tension between the spiky/edgier spice and the cashmere/velvety vanilla-iris heart holding me spellbound. I like Tsarina a lot; it wears like an improved version of Lanvin's Arpege pour Homme.

    28 June, 2014

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    Qi by Ormonde Jayne

    I'm a sucker for tea-based fragrances and this had me well, suckered. The QI simply flows from the zesty neroli top, to the balmy heart of floral-infused mate before segueing to a warmly resinous base. If I were to nitpick it would be that the transition from top to base progresses a little too quickly. Like a thrilling joyride on a roller coaster, the fun is over before you knew it. Which in this case may not be all that bad as I find the drydown thoroughly enjoyable.

    28 June, 2014

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    Montabaco by Ormonde Jayne

    A fresh aromatic fragrance that strays a little too closely to the clichéd albeit in-trend masculine transparent woods category. A faintly smoky almost barnyard hint of oud in the background obscures the shy touch of florals in the middle but as far as my nose is concerned, there is zero tobacco leaf. Montabaco does not scream, it speaks in a low baritone and seldom ventures beyond 6 inches, projecting a pleasant scent that is somewhat synthetic, mass market-friendly and utterly disappointing.

    28 June, 2014

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    Dark Rose by Czech & Speake

    Here's another rose-oud composition to sink your teeth into. Unfortunately there is little meat on this dish. The delightfully jammy rose is gone too soon and all I'm left with is the 'dark'. More like being left in the dark rather, for the oud is just as elusive. The structure however remains intact; the rose-oud accord receding into a close-wearing skin scent. Against the crop of rose-oud scents currently in the market, Dark Rose's reticent nature gives it a snowball's chance in hell. But I actually find the restrained approach admirable.

    19 June, 2014

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    No. 88 by Czech & Speake

    The first few minutes were just as I had expected: a lightly soapy rose, a hint of geranium. Understated and somewhat Edwardian in style. Picture a dandy in a Homburg, a sharp 3-piece suit and a cravat walking down Bond Street on a cool, crisp morning. But as the rose fades away, what gets left behind paints a completely different scene. The dandy has ducked into an alley and found himself at a little Indian spice stall. I'm talking about dirty-earthy-musky vetiver roots and faintly spiced sandalwood. If you enjoy such masculine basenotes, this could well be your holy grail. Alas, I don't.

    19 June, 2014

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    Interlude Woman by Amouage

    Warm, if a tad syrupy for those sensitive to immortelle, resinous but not dry, animalic but nowhere near skanky. Throw in a salty hint of leather and you get an ambitious composition that succeeds more than it fails, with a remarkable harmony between the various elements. Yet I'm not 'wowed'. Therein lies her problem. By playing it safe, INTERLUDE doesn't push the envelope far enough and lacks the X factor, that elusive quirk of personality that distinguishes the great from the good. Maybe that's why it feels right at home in gender-neutral territory.

    05 June, 2014

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    Fate Man by Amouage

    Hard to be objective about this scent when all it conjures up involves unwashed armpits and spicy body odors. Thankfully it does temper into something more palatable with a drydown of light musky woods. Nevertheless I can't help but feel disappointed. Coming from an established house that gives us spectacular hits like Memoir and Epic, this feels like a turn at mediocrity - a total cop out.

    02 June, 2014

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    Opus VII by Amouage

    The spiced up galbanum opening is indeed arresting but what follows is unfortunately a little too familiar. A densely tarry-smoky-leathery patchouli phase reminiscent of Le Labo Patchouli 24 is quickly followed up by an ubiquitous musky-ambery dry cedary base found in many of current designer masculine releases. Frankly I'm not surprised at finding yet another uninspired entry in what has been a lackluster collection.

    02 June, 2014

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    Memoir Woman by Amouage

    A complex fragrance for a complicated woman though IMO it could be worn easily by either gender. Warm resins and wood spices, candied floral talc-like nuances, faintly leather/chypre undertones in a structure loosely based on the classic incense floral. I can't imagine a more sombre and introverted fragrance on a woman.

    02 June, 2014

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    Lyric Woman by Amouage

    Lush dark roses, indolic muguet, dusty wood spices, sweetly fragrant incense. That's probably half the tale for this enchanting storyteller doesn't reveal the plot in a single wear. Lyric is an opulently gilded rose oriental, straight out of the pages of A Thousand and One Nights.

    01st June, 2014

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    Parure by Guerlain

    A rather talc-y/powdery floral chypre that seldoms venture far from the skin. There was a salty hint of spiced plums at the top that reminded me of preserved prunes, a floral heart dominated by lilacs over an mistakably brooding foundation of oakmoss in the base. Younger than Mitsouko by more than three decades yet Parure feels unwearably ancient in comparison. I simply could not warm up to it. To my nose, the fresh lilac note creates an uncomfortable dissonance against the typically darker grain of a chypre.

    ***** This review is of the vintage parfum *****

    13 May, 2014

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    Vici by Histoires de Parfums

    After a somewhat prickly (Angelica?) mildly soapy herbaceous opening, the scent evolves into a warm vanillic dry down with boozy/cedary overtones, the transitions smooth and well-controlled. While I still have no idea what this have to do with the concept, I am a fan of angelica's nose-tickling notes and boozy vanilla. Vici therefore gets a thumbs up, but only just.

    03 May, 2014

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    Vidi by Histoires de Parfums

    In Vidi, Ghislain revisits the theme first explored by the house in 1828 Jules Verne with airy ozonic tops over softly musky peppery woods. The greener earthier elements unfortunately have been left out to bring focus to the atmospheric facets, resulting in a fragrance that smells similar to countless designer masculine fragrances of the past decade. Ultimately what saved Vidi from the black hole of mediocrity is the subtle approach and the house's trademark masterful blending.

    03 May, 2014

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    Veni by Histoires de Parfums

    I came, I saw and I...YAWN? A Roman conquest clearly this is not though putting one to sleep comes a close second. Perhaps Histoires de Parfum is a victim of its own success, for I can't help but hold it to a high standard for its past ingenuity.

    VENI is a rather attractive and seamless blend of floral musk and wood spices, with a resinously airy profile. The quality is still there, the carnation/floral element a touch too muted for my tastes, but the house's customary boldness in execution is sadly missing.

    29 April, 2014

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    Cabochard by Grès

    A sad tale of two (probably more) reformulations.

    The vintage pre-formulated version was a complex multifaceted gem with a raspy galbanum top, a smoky green leathery heart and deeply mossy chypre undertones. Not quite as challenging as Piguet's Bandit but still the headstrong, motorcycle-riding leather-clad butch sister to Chanel No.19's too-cool-for-school ice queen.

    The latest incarnation unfortunately smells nothing like the original. On my skin all I got was a linear, mildly spiced talc. This rating is obviously for the true Gres Cabochard. As for the impostor? Throw it in the trash can where it belongs.

    29 April, 2014

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    Taken by Jane Booke

    How do you like your vanilla? Lightly boozy or soft and creamy? I'm in the former camp but Jane Booke's version falls in the latter. But there is no denying this is quite a pretty vanilla, if a little too straightforward. It is softly creamy, not overly sweet, with an almond-like facet. If only the floral hints are more than just hints. As it stands Taken smells almost too much like a confectionery for me to be 'taken' with it.

    28 April, 2014

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    Sir by D.S. & Durga

    A spicy floral chypre in the grand tradition of Mitsouko, if a little stripped down. Perhaps more than a little. Whatever oakmoss there is in the base (if there is even any) is insufficient to bring the depth required to evoke a chypre's true magic, resulting in a fragrance that while long-lasting is somewhat linear and mono-dimensional.

    What a pity, Sir! To have brought a knife to a sword fight?

    28 April, 2014

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    Bottega Veneta Pour Homme by Bottega Veneta

    Not your usual run-of-the-mill designer fragrance for men as it does smell a little unusual. Deep green (pine?) notes with an almost medicinal edge, a hint of polished leather with minty-earthy patchouli and dry resins as foundation.

    Bottega Veneta Pour Homme does indeed sport a mildly synthetic vibe but to the perfumers' credit it doesn't resort to sugary candy/ bubble gummy / transparent woods cliches just to keep the cash registers ringing. Instead the unmistakable notes of clary sage and patchouli keep this firmly in the 'sophisticated and grown up' category.

    It sits lightly on the skin, dry if a little dusty, the deep green bitters hardly forgiving. I was never a fan to begin with but subsequent wears have earned my begrudging respect.

    28 April, 2014

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    1899 Ernest Hemingway by Histoires de Parfums

    An enjoyable woody-spicy aromatic, particularly in the first 10-15 minutes when the cool airy juniper accord indulges in a tug-of-war with the warmer spicier notes of cinnamon bark. No prizes for guessing which is the eventual winner. To my nose it smells mostly of bittersweet cinnamon bark, toned down by a smidgen of vanilla and cushioned by iris.

    But what I admire most about this composition is the superb balance struck between the yin and the yang elements. It feels crisp and cool on the surface yet retains a warm glowing heart, with a cozy almost suede-like texture in the base. If you're a cinnamon fan or if you're looking for a wood and spice scent for a distinguished gentleman, do include 1899 in the shortlist. This is IMHO as satisfying as any read by Ernest Hemingway.

    28 April, 2014

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    Epice Marine by Hermès

    A spicy aquatic this is not. Nor does it claim to be. There is a however a hint of spice on a salty breeze and it wears lightly, like a skin scent or a sheer gown. No, make that a veil. For it floats and dances in the wind but unsecured, flies away and is soon forgotten. Put this at the top of the 'expensively inoffensive'.

    25 April, 2014

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