Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Diamondflame


Bleecker Street by Bond No. 9

One of those ubiquitous grassy-green pseudo-aquatic designer scents that smells rather pleasant from a distance, but gratingly annoying up close with the house trademark woody amber base fixative overload. Yes, it succeeds in extending the scent's longevity but considering the base's abrasive and overbearingly synthetic profile? No, thanks. I'll pass. My non-perfumista wife sums it even more succinctly - with a sneeze.
27th August, 2015

Bohemian Spice by April Aromatics

I struggled to find the appeal in Bohemian Spice other than the fact that it is very well constructed for an all-natural composition. It features a melange of dry herbaceous spices over a base of vetiver and patchouli. Well, so do a half dozen others with more wallet-friendly price tags. It brings nothing new to the table.

Coming off the back of my recent review of Sharif, Bohemian Spice feels decidedly less refined, more organic. Aptly named perhaps but for what it does I can't help but feel it is ridiculously priced.
27th August, 2015

Sharif by AbdesSalaam Attar Profumo

'Sharif' is an aspirational composition that attempts to capture the the spirit of nobility in its refined approach to crafting what I feel to be a private, almost bespoke fragrance. It feels luxurious yet without any of the customary ostentations, deftly weaving together natural essences that at one point or another comes across as herbal-spicy-floral-leathery, warm-resinous-ambery, even chypre-like mossy.

What I admire most about Sharif is its well-articulated sense of refinement, its quiet confidence and almost retro-traditional masculine appeal. For the strong and silent types out there, don't miss out on this hidden gem of a scent.
27th August, 2015
Advertisement — Reviews continue below

Sicilian Limes by Shay & Blue

Sicilian Limes booked a day trip to the Amalfi Coast and found himself jostling for a spot on a crowded beach. He could see Acqua di Gio pour Homme occupying a prime spot with L'Eau d'Issey pour Homme taking the other.

In an effort to make his presence known to the rest and carve himself more space, Sicilian Limes emptied half a bottle on himself but only managed a whimper of a projection, drawing barely stifled chuckles from the likes of Italian Bergamot and Mandarine Glaciale.
13th July, 2015

Misia by Chanel

Lipsticky iris, powdery candied violets, a touch of rose. What's new, eh? A classic combination in the history of female-marketed perfumery if ever there is one. But what makes this special is the quality of the blend. Elegantly restrained it may seem but there is no denying its proud heritage. It smells like a Chanel, wears like a Chanel, priced and exclusively distributed like a Chanel (lol).

After the (personal) disappointment of 1932, MISIA represents a splendid return to form for this venerated house.

Can a guy wear Misia? Probably not in every situation. The scent may come across a little too dandy especially for anyone sporting the macho lumberjack look. The disconnect however will create a level of intrigue that could make for an interesting conversation. I'm sold! If anyone is thinking of getting me a birthday gift, you know what to get!
12th July, 2015

Eau Plurielle by Diptyque

With Eau Plurielle, it seems to me Dyptique had taken a leaf from its old playbook and rebooted one of the success stories: L'Ombre dans L'Eau.

The tart rose and blackcurrant combo are still upfront albeit toned down a couple of notches and moderated with some citrus at the top while the base is bolstered by a warm fuzzy slug of woodsy musk that runs right down to the dry down. Less sharp and less green than its predecessor but no less satisfying.

On-skin performance is about average, though this could well vary with humidity.

Is it bottle-worthy? If you don't already own L'Ombre dans L'Eau, the answer is a resounding 'yes'.
12th July, 2015

Vodka on the Rocks by By Kilian

Starts of refreshingly aromatic, with a bracing twist of herbal bitters in the background but quickly morphs into a cross-breed between a mainstream woody aquatic and transparent woods. Not impressed.
11th July, 2015

Must de Cartier by Cartier

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

Wearing Must de Cartier is an experience not too dissimilar to eating a Blumenthal signature dessert. They both boast layers after surprising layers of blissfully rendered ingredients.

The blending is smooth and I find any attempt to decipher its multiple notes a futile if not particularly useful exercise. It smells sweet in a bitter-almondy kind of way, rich but not heady, featuring warm ambery depths interspersed with subtle floral and resinous nuances.

Comparisons to oriental scent cousin CK Obsession are apt though the Cartier arrived on the scene four years earlier, prowls closer to the skin as a parfum and contains one key element that in my mind makes all the difference: civet.

Can a man wear this? Absolutely. But in all honesty I'd rather enjoy it up close and very personal on a woman.
11th July, 2015

Ashoka by Neela Vermeire

Historically, Ashoka was one of India's greatest emperors. Here the name refers to a fragrance that projects a warm woody floral scent with figgy/milky/creamy undertones. Don't ask me, I can't make the connection; there's nothing remotely regal in terms of style or presentation.

Exactly how floral is Ashoka? Apart from a powdery almost buttery iris/mimosa accord in the opening, the main floral accord is not overtly fragrant nor perfumey although there is a fleeting camphorous nuance that evokes certain indolic white flowers. But it's not significant enough to deter the average male fragrance user.

I don't find Ashoka particularly sweet nor gourmand either, counterbalanced as it were by a vein of dry cedar and sandalwood in the base. A hint of grassy vetiver on my skin signals the rather disappointingly rapid conclusion of this (non)epic. Wearing on fabric as Way Off Scenter had suggested earlier is therefore not such a bad idea.

Overall this is a nice, competently constructed fragrance, straining under the weight of expectations due in part to a wallet-busting price tag. Price tags are funny. Knock $100 off and it starts smelling better.

18th June, 2015

As Sawira by Penhaligon's

To call this an elegant oriental fragrance centered on rose, saffron and oud is akin to calling a Lamborghini a sports car - it simply doesn't do it justice. There is a complexity about it that shimmers under the surface, an olfactory melody that is as fascinating as it is faint. A warm resinous myrrh, a minty patchouli, an oud-labdanum pairing that is if I were to let my imagination loose, borderline skanky.

Unfortunately the problem I have with it is that everything is kept on such a tight leash that this amazing symphony is played at a volume more suited to elevator music. Blame it on the house typically subdued aesthetics if you will, for wearing As Sawira is nearly as frustrating as driving the Lamborghini in a traffic jam.

Still a thumbs up. Plus a fistful of hair.
08th June, 2015

Zegna Intenso by Ermenegildo Zegna

When a fragrance composition is constrained by a budget (which fragrance isn't?) some perfumers choose to streamline the construction while others load up on the cheaper aromachemicals. Very few could do both without having a nasty chemical mess in a bottle. The nose behind Zegna Intenso was one of them, deftly navigating through this minefield to produce a fragrance that is not only on-trend at the time but also actually smells better than it has any right to.

Intenso has been compared to Armani Code, albeit a weaker, less woody and less powdery version. Others dismiss it as a generic watery fruity amber or simply call it a tonka bean fragrance. They aren't wrong, at least not in entirety. What they fail to appreciate is its faithful execution of the chiaroscuro concept, illuminating the darker oriental aspects with the brighter citric elements which permeate right through the heart of this fragrance.

The result is a charmingly breezy semisweet-spicy scent that is punctuated by cool citrusy nuances. Nothing overtly complicated. This is a great example of a designer mass-marketed scent that wears well and draws in compliments without trying to hard to impress. Perfect for those days when you have trouble choosing one from your stable of Amouages, Serge Lutens and O'drius.

03rd June, 2015

Mistral Patchouli by Atelier Cologne

If you're after a patchouli fragrance in high definition this is not it. There's very little of patchouli in here. I'm not sure how much of it is (subliminally) driven by its marketing concept but I experienced Mistral Patchouli as a refreshingly breezy seaside-inspired interpretation with a mildly citric-fruity opening, an almost tangibly aqueous semi-sweet minty-briny middle phase that dries down to a softly resinous oriental-like base.

Overall I find this to be a summery office-friendly aquatic-patchouli hybrid. Certainly one of my favorites from the Atelier line, with excellent on-skin performance.
02nd June, 2015

Blanche Immortelle by Atelier Cologne

A tasteful whitewash job on one of perfumery's most distinctive and challenging notes, retaining the savory and curry-like facets of immortelle, but none of the cloying syrup. It smells almost edible although it lacks the heft of a true gourmand. Unfortunately the transition from top notes to base notes is fairly rapid with a mildly smoky sandalwood base bringing up the rear within the hour.

A lukewarm thumbs up for this mortal immortelle.
01st June, 2015
Advertisement — Reviews continue below

Vétiver Fatal by Atelier Cologne

Not a true vetiver scent.

It is more of a fresh if slightly fruity-floral take on citrusy-green sub-genre with orange blossoms, violet leaf, and a hint of woods. Unlike many of the Ateliers, Vetiver Fatal seems to have a little more development and movement, especially in the first half an hour which works a treat. Unfortunately it flattens out all too soon to a soft almost nondescript semi-citrusy skin scent, in line with the house understated style. A mildly creamy vetiver makes its appearance only in the drydown.
28th May, 2015 (last edited: 29th May, 2015)

Santal Carmin by Atelier Cologne

Transparent woods as a fragrance genre has had a spotty record at best, many missing the target. Chief among the reasons for this is the oft-clumsy use of aromachemicals to approximate the scent of cedar wood or to add a measure of dryness to the composition. The typical end result? An unpleasantly synthetic, screechy woods.

Atelier succeeded where many have failed.

In Santal Carmin, the aromatic sandalwood is well-modulated, staying on an even keel throughout, with white musk keeping it light and bright, and smoky hints of guaiac bringing an almost animalic oud-like nuance to the composition. I find this aspect very enjoyable. Fans of rich, creamy sandalwood however should look elsewhere as this rendition remains true to the house's transparent, mostly linear aesthetics.

28th May, 2015

Cédrat Enivrant by Atelier Cologne

Nice and refreshing as citrus-bergamot pairings go, with aromatic herbs faintly in the background over a softly lukewarm base. Nowhere as zesty as grapefruits, nor as tart as limes go, citron probably sits somewhere near yuzu on the citric scale.

Nothing remotely ground-breaking here, no new twist to the genre and more importantly no overtly synthetic notes that could distract from its smooth wearable persona. I suppose if it ain't broke, why fix it?
28th May, 2015

Vanille Insensée by Atelier Cologne

Nevermind the insanity of the name, this is a pleasantly luminous vanilla-inspired scent with a fraction of the richness associated with the bean and none of the heft. A hint of spice, a touch of floral and a toasty paper-like crispness come together for a surprisingly interesting take on the genre.

Vanille Insensée smells to me like an improved albeit sweeter version of DSquared Rocky Mountain Wood with its warm floral incense vibes. Performance may vary with individuals but I can't personally fault its sillage nor projection as I find them excellent.
22nd May, 2015

Pomélo Paradis by Atelier Cologne

It's hard not to enjoy this scent. If you find regular grapefruit scents too sharp and zesty, Pomélo Paradis takes it down a notch with its juicy roundness. Like a refreshing sip from a chilled glass of lemonade, this is simple and unadulterated summery bliss.

Perfectly gender-neutral in appeal so top marks for wearability. Unfortunately it performs somewhat disappointingly on my skin, projecting minimally and dissipating all too quickly, drying down to a faintly vetiver-like skin scent within 30 minutes. Oh well, you don't always get the cake, I suppose.
22nd May, 2015

Rendez-Vous by Atelier Cologne

I have a weakness for suede fragrances and this is no exception. The Atelier goes light on the suede, pairing it with some iris and levitates the combo with clean musks and a charmingly nuanced floral element. Unisex and gorgeous to a fault. Probably the perfect suede fragrance for the hot summer.
18th May, 2015

Silver Iris by Atelier Cologne

True to its name, the scent oscillates between a rich rooty-buttery iris and a sharply metallic woody amber. For too brief a spell unfortunately. What remains is a rather non-descript transparent amber scent with currant-like underpinnings. The iris has left the building. It's like watching a movie where your favorite character gets killed off after 15 minutes. A big let down.
18th May, 2015

Ambre Nue by Atelier Cologne

Ambre Nue is all about the bass, no treble. The benzoin, tonka bean and labdanum in the base combine harmoniously to approximate an amber scent, offering a smooth warm backdrop to the floral heart. It smells a lot like a quality floral talc, albeit one with patchouli undercurrents.
17th May, 2015

Rose Anonyme by Atelier Cologne

I'm surprise Rose Anonyme didn't turn out to be a total scrubber for me. The opening few minutes were rough. On my skin the bergamot pulled off a disappearing act, the rose accord took a backseat to the oud and patchouli. Too earthy, too filthy. It felt as though I just stepped out of a bog.

Thankfully the scent settled quickly enough, leaving a beguiling trail that is resinous, musky-earthy with just a hint of rose in the background. Not quite in sync with my preferred style but frankly speaking, not bad at all!
17th May, 2015

Sous le toit de Paris by Atelier Cologne

For a light and airy fragrance, there seems to be a lot going on right off the bat. Starts off fresh, mildly sweet before running through a gamut of notes/accords from the bittersweet violet leaf, to the aromatic tang of bigarade right down to the surprising, rather French element - a skin-warm sensual leathery musk. As it settles down I mostly smell it as a delicate violet leaf scent over a light base of tonka bean.

It wears close, seldom venturing beyond a handspan, pushing out a little further with body heat. Although marketed as unisex, its delicate features seem more suited to the fairer sex, the soft hints of sweet floral leather reminding me a little of Hermes Kelly Caleche. Unconventional perhaps but undeniably attractive.
15th May, 2015

Cedre Atlas by Atelier Cologne

I have an uneasy relationship with cedar note in general. Its dry woody profile tends to rub me off the wrong way. And the way it approximates the tiresomely ubiquitous scent of transparent woody ambers isn't helping matters. So it is with relief that I found Cedre Atlas to be reasonably affable, the soft fruity nuances adding a little roundness to the scent's sharp edges. Unfortunately it still smells too much like your run-of-the-mill woody amber that for all intent and purposes, I find it utterly redundant. Strictly for Atelier collectors IMO.
15th May, 2015

Trèfle Pur by Atelier Cologne

Predominantly green if slightly citric, bringing to mind the ascerbic scents of citrus rinds, kaffir lime leaves, petitgrain and for a brief spell, unripe melons. I don't find it particularly herbal nor vegetal, not even mossy. In fact it is pretty straightforward and lacks the storytelling (read: marketing) angle the green mango note brings to Hermes Un Jardin Sur Le Nil. Fans of green scents will find enough to enjoy in Trefle Pur. I know I did.
14th May, 2015

Oolang Infini by Atelier Cologne

Here's a tip to wearing Oolang Infini: go heavy. It is near-impossible to overspray. The opening citrus/bergamot/neroli is a given for Atelier fragrances, and here it threatens to overwhelm the tea note, at least for the first few minutes.

At this juncture some may be inclined to write off the Oolong tea note, especially if you've been expecting a more robust and tannic representation. The truth is - there is no tea. There never was. It is an artificial construct, consisting of aromachemicals. A tricky balancing act.

The tea note may seem faint but to my mind it blends so well with the bergamot that it projects more like bergamot tea, refreshing, slightly citric with a negligible hint of florals and a clean musky base highly reminiscent of Bulgari pour Homme. If I was in a nasty mood, I'd have called it a blatant rip off.

14th May, 2015

Sud Magnolia by Atelier Cologne

Not a fan of the opening act. It's a little too floral-fruity for my tastes with ripe pomelo and blackcurrants. The subsequent rose-saffron phase is much more palatable, not too powdery, and not too soapy either. I sought out some magnolia but finding none, my interest waned. So don't ask me about the final act. I couldn't stay awake to catch the rolling credits.
13th May, 2015

Mandarine Glaciale by Atelier Cologne

Oh, this is indeed gorgeous. I am amazed at how much variances you can get out of citruses. Here the zesty citrus opening is tempered by quality bergamot, with herbal hints of petitgrain underlining the mouthwatering tartness of the scent. Soft floral nuances hum in the background to add a little more dimension before transitioning smoothly to a lightly rooty-musky vetiver drydown. Not much oakmoss as far as my nose can tell.

Final verdict? I love it! Classic Mediterranean in feel, staying within the same zip code as Armani Eau pour Homme but clearly crafted with more contemporary materials.
13th May, 2015

Figuier Ardent by Atelier Cologne

Never a big fan of fig-inspired scents to begin with, I nevertheless enjoyed fig offerings from the likes of Dyptique, L'Artisan Parfumeurs and Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo. With Atelier Figuier Ardent I was expecting an equally pleasant experience. Unfortunately the blend did not appeal to me. The pepper note grates on me, the green fig note feels a little too dry and desiccated. Nice bergamot opening notwithstanding, the overall fragrance just smells synthetic and somewhat 'medicinal'. Clearly it's not meant for me.
11th May, 2015

Bois Blonds by Atelier Cologne

D-limonene, geraniol, citronellal, citral, linalool, etc. Doesn't sound as sexy as Tunisian neroli, does it now? Bois Blonds is a prime example of how aromachemicals commonly found in household bathroom products can be blended and marketed well enough for a 100 ml bottle to command a $140 price tag. It sports a faintly grassy-woody undertones, with a citrus-dominant heart that smells refreshingly pleasant, but no more than any other drugstore citrus scents.

There is a reason why they keep everything so subtle; the bones are fragile on this one. Anything stronger will probably overwhelm them, coming across strident or screechy and reveal its true pedigree. Now we know why marketing always get a lion's share of a fragrance budget.
10th May, 2015