Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Diamondflame

Total Reviews: 832

Mandarava by Parfum Prissana

A gorgeous floral incense made of excellent ingredients, with luscious champaca and jasmine notes cutting through the dry ash of burning incense beautifully. The inspiration was clearly one borne of the perfumer’s own Buddhist faith for the scent is nothing if not evocative of a grand temple’s inner sanctum, at least for the first hour. Such associations cannot help but give pause to Mandarava’s wearability as a personal fragrance. Thankfully its remaining lifespan leans more towards classical florals /incense orientals.

I’ve been looking for great incense compositions for a long time and I think I’ve finally found the perfumer who can weave magic with this material. Next to MA NISHTANA, MANDARAVA is yet another impressive incense masterpiece Prin Lomros’ late grandmother would have been proud of.
08th October, 2019

Squid by Zoologist Perfumes

An airy almost ozonic scent featuring a back-and-forth but shortlived tug of war between the briny saltiness of ambergris and the warmer resinous axis of opoponax /benzoin.

In the absence of complex structures SQUID feels decidedly contemporary to me yet smells unlike any designer fragrances already out there. It made me curious so I had to, well...Google further.

As it turned out the IFF perfumer Celine Barel was also credited with a slew of designer releases such as CK Shock for Him Street Edition, David Beckham Signature for Him and Clean Summer Sailing. In other words she has full-fledged designer cred. If ‘inclusivity’ is indeed the reigning buzzword I guess Victor Wong is a very clued-in practitioner.

Congratulations once again to the house for another edition of intriguing but wearable art. If you’re looking for a Zoologist with mass market aspirations, be sure to catch this SQUID.
26th September, 2019

Thirty-three by Ex Idolo

33-year old aged wild oud?? Yeah, right. Where’s the oud, really? In the marketing copy, that’s where. Nowhere else. Doesn’t Ex-Idolo know oud scent profiles vary with age and terroir? The fact they just labeled it as Chinese rather than a specific province is a dead giveaway. Not to mention how expensive wild oud oil truly s... I’m notifying the BS police on this one and in good conscience won’t be recommending it.

Other than the poorly researched ad copy, scent-wise Thirty Three is decent enough as a woody rose-patchouli fragrance to be worn by either gender without offending anyone. It almost makes up for its lack of character, making it a suitable albeit pricey option for any beginner dipping their toe into a crowded and highly competitive genre.

28th August, 2019
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Aramis Tobacco Reserve by Aramis

Warm, airy and aromatic with just a touch of coumarinic sweetness in the base and a lick of salt you could almost taste. I went in with low expectations and walked away pleasantly surprised.

After smelling many of the more bombastic attempts by perfumers to replicate the intriguing scent of lingering cigar smoke none succeeded with as much finesse. Aramis TOBACCO RESERVE got pretty darn close, but still, no cigar.
20th August, 2019

Mown by Hendley Perfumes

I can see why MOWN could be evocative to someone. It is a comforting scent - warm, toasty and almost savory/buttery in parts. It reminds me of sunny childhood days chasing one another all over the field and coming in for late breakfast in an airy sunlit kitchen. The aromatic bits of tobacco are however much less apparent to my nose and could easily be missed. But the hay is front and centre.

If Serge Lutens Chergui and Jeux de Peau have a younger sibling, this could well be her. She's a little shy though, and may need some coaxing on fabric.

I'd rate it a 7 out of 10.
16th August, 2019

Beau de Jour by Tom Ford

A stripped down re-mix of old school aromatic fougeres employing Tom Ford’s olfactory sleight of hand to conjure up oakmoss’ bitter dryness within what is essentially a lavandin-and-patchouli one-two punch.

BEAU DE JOUR gives a pretty good performance though, projecting the occasional aromatic whiff of ‘20th century gentleman-style grooming’ within the first 3-4 hours of wear. ‘Barbershop’, anyone? Somehow it brings up for me images of authoritative patriarchs, stern headmasters and influential business barons. Unfortunately the drydown is not quite as evocative and if that aspect is important to you, it’s probably best to look elsewhere.

Yes, nobody’s going to give it marks for ‘originality’. No doubt you could find similar fragrances with better value propositions IF you knew where to look AND care to spend the time to do so. Tom Ford knew this. He made a calculated bet that his target clientele comprises of busy men who probably make a lot more money in the time it takes to search and acquire a cheaper (vintage) fragrance of similar persuasion.

As someone who enjoys this style of fragrance AND appreciate the value of time, this purchase is a no brainer. Well played, Tom.

15th July, 2019

A Midsummer Dream by Roja Dove

OMG, this is DROP-DEAD GORGEOUS! I don’t really pick out individual notes as they seem to ‘vibrate’, weaving in and out far too quickly for my nose to get a firm lock on, the melange of notes blending seamlessly into one another. Light florals, spiced resins, cool carroty iris, grassy-vetivery and woodsy-vanillic at various points during its languorous evolution.

Personally I’d wear it even if I find it leaning a touch towards the feminine side of the divide. And if I happen to catch a whiff of this out there, there is a 100% chance my STALKER MODE will be activated. Truly top shelf stuff!
11th June, 2019

Aurum d'Angkhor by Sultan Pasha

Do you look at a Van Gogh painting and scrutinise the brush strokes and the myriad hues used by the legendary artist? Or do you simply enjoy the wonder of the experience? Very much in the same vein ask not what Aurum d’Angkor smells like for surely there are no words that do it justice. It is the scent that time itself forgot, of trees and roots so ancient they lived through the rise and fall of mighty kingdoms, of blooms and secret tinctures of such grand opulence they once graced the skin of monarchs and heirs of royal lineage.

All these from a single drop of perfume?
Mind: BLOWN.
Now excuse me while I pick up my jaw from the floor.

27th May, 2019

Homage Attar by Amouage

On my skin HOMAGE was mostly a faint soapy rose over a cloud of frankincense with hints of neroli brightening it somewhat in the beginning. Despite a more-than-generous application, the depth and range of development I had come to expect from such a fabled attar did not materialise. What’s going on, Amouage?

Surely anyone would have been forgiven for having similarly sky-high expectations. It even drove me to seek out and blind buy a decant of the red box vintage just to make sure I get the really great stuff.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not bad, just that its symphony seems lightweight in the deeper bass section. There’s no oud, no amber, no sandalwood to offer deeper contrast and anchor the composition. Projection is weak but lasts well as a skin scent. Had this been a blindfold test there was a mid-phase where I might even pass it off for an aldehydic Chanel which under ordinary circumstances is a big compliment. But we are talking about THE ‘legendary’ Homage from Amouage; this experience was nothing if not a major letdown.
10th May, 2019

Bonheur by Bortnikoff

Airy and aromatic in equal measures, BONHEUR is an excellent composition showcasing the backlighting effect of ambergris on what is essentially a chypre oriental. There is a breezy-fresh almost marine-like undercurrent smoothing out the spikes from the spices and moderating the warmth of the tonka/vanilla base.

Projection is above average for the first hour or two but settles down fairly quickly to a polite yet noticeable presence thereafter. I get the occasional whiff as I go about my usual activity.

Overall I am impressed. Having had the pleasure of wearing ambergris compositions from Areej Le Doré, Bortnikoff’s BONHEUR is arguably the easiest to wear, comfortably positioned between the more aromatic Atlantic Ambergris and the sweeter Baikal Gris.
30th April, 2019

Iris Homme by Parfum Satori

Zesty lemons softened by a hint of orange blossoms pave the way to a cool if slightly powdery iris heart. There is a touch of warmth from the base sandalwood but the overall texture remains clean, airy and dry with an almost Zen-like austerity about it. I thought it smells and wears a lot like pure frankincense.

An iris bomb this is not but more of a polite and polished Japanese interpretation of the citrus-floral-woods genre with a projection that is gentlemanly modest yet robust enough to last the average work day (not in Japan apparently).

Is IRIS HOMME worth paying a premium for? It depends. If I were new to fragrances, probably not. But at the stage I am at, it makes a fine wardrobe addition.
25th March, 2019

Hyde by Hiram Green

If I’d tried something as smoky as HYDE 10 years ago I’d have scrubbed it off within minutes. The birch tar opening is pitch black, tarry and acrid, quickly overwhelming whatever hesperidic topnotes this fragrance may have in the beginning. Do not spray this at the office!

At this juncture I couldn’t help but compare it to another smoky beast - Zoologist’ T-Rex with its savage roar of an opening. Objectively speaking HYDE is the tamer creature. And where T-Rex rampaged on to an interesting ashy floral phase, HYDE mellows down more conventionally, bedding to a comfortably warm vanilla and leathery labdanum.

What_? That’s it?? To be honest my expectations were a little higher to begin with. Blame it on the over-the-moon reviews it’s gotten thus far. Mind you, HYDE isn’t bad, it IS good. But it tramples on old grounds, plays like a B-grade movie with the edgy opening act, a conventional storyline and an ending you could spot from a mile away. Running time seems to be on the shorter side too. The whole experience made me miss Ambre Noir from Sonoma Scent Studio even more.

Perhaps it’s better for me to switch channels and look for the real beast...
26th January, 2019

Eau d'Aviateur by Atelier Flou

A lightly soapy orange-accented musk, repackaged into a fancy bottle with an even fancier price tag. I really wanted to discredit it but I simply couldn’t; smelling it on my skin put me in a cheerful, charitable mood.
25th January, 2019
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Tabac Vert by Rogue Perfumery

Aromatic leaves of tobacco warmed over a bed of dry cedar and resinous oakmoss. Tabac Vert eschews the conventionally heavier vanillic accoutrements in favor of a lighter brighter approach, resulting in an elegantly fresh woody chypre.

If Vintage Tabarome reminds one of wood-panelled cigar rooms in men-only clubs then Tabac Vert takes you elsewhere to a private bar with a cigarette on your lips and a glass of Old Fashioned in your hand.

04th December, 2018

Grimoire by Anatole Lebreton

An intriguing portrait of an alpha male painted in hues of dark greens, ashy greys and earthy browns. In my mind it smells primordial, the scent of long-forgotten ancient forests with its intricately woven tapestry of ferns, moss and lichen-covered bark.

OK it’s probably not something the average candy-loving guy would want to smell of. Yet GRIMOIRE surprised me with its thoughtfulness and overall wearability. The blending is seamless, texturally it feels comfortably dry and cool in perfect counterbalance to the saltish skin-like warmth pulsing beneath it like a living beating heart.

GRIMOIRE’s deep grey/green and dry chypre-like profile places it in the same postal code as Guerlain Mitsouko, Dior Eau Sauvage Parfum and Papillon Artisan Dryad - 3 highly respected compositions which makes it a big winner and contender for my top fragrance discovery of the year!

06th September, 2018

Les Trésors De Sriwijaya by Auphorie

A finely blended oriental comprising of smoky resins, warm spices and lush tropical flowers shot through with the house’s note(?) of caramelised Malaccan brown sugar molasses. Lurking underneath it all is a faintly musky leathery animalic presence that rears its nose every once in a while. 3 hours in drydown beckons, an abstract harmony of warm spices and incensy resins.

I’m not blown away by this composition as it stays on the safe side throughout but it wears well and the ingredient quality feels top notch as usual. The fragrance evolution is far from linear with sections of the symphony taking turns to play up their solos.

This is probably not the best Auphorie has to offer but it is easily one of their most wearable. What I appreciate most is the fragrance’s agility and balance, carrying its substantial heft well from start to finish. At no time did I feel overwhelmed despite the oppressive tropical humidity of my locale.
08th August, 2018

Resina by Oliver & Co.

Brand new tires, a dive wetsuit.
Surgical gloves, lightly powdered.
Toasty resins and coffee beans.
A touch of sweetness, a hint of spice.
Sort of an oddball but helluva nice!
31st July, 2018

Ambergreen by Oliver & Co.

Cut grass. Kitchen herbs. Ultrasonic galbanum. Synthetic and harsh in parts but at times oddly riveting in others. I wanted to hate this green ‘thing’ but somehow I couldn’t. AMBERGREEN is to my mind Oliver Valverde’s olfactory interpretation of The Incredible Hulk. Tread carefully with this one...
31st July, 2018

Le Sillage Blanc by Parfums Dusita

After the wonderful bitter green chypre-like opening minutes, what remains in the air is mostly a scrubbed clean and transparent patchouli in the vein of Ulrich Lang’s Nightscape.

Sillage Blanc smells natural with enough roundness to suit either gender but it’s certainly much less than what the accolades made it out to be. If only the opening had extended further into the heart notes I’d be singing a different tune. Right now it feels like I’m in one of those restaurants with a breathtakingly panoramic view but serving mostly solid yet standard fare.

Not impressed.

07th June, 2018

Smolderose by January Scent Project

Opens bittersweet, smoky-oily and jarringly chemical, pretty much like a noxious petrol spill. It settles quickly enough to reveal a drier a little less unpleasant but no less weird melange of fruity/smoky notes that reminds me of cheap shampoos.

I’m disappointed. I’ve heard wonderful things about Smolderose and had looked forward to sampling it. I love rose scents and I’m familiar with rose-oud combos but this oddball is definitely not one of them. I don’t smell any rose of any known genre or subspecies here either.

Maybe I’m hyperosmic to the ‘fruity floral shampoo’ note but IMO it has no business being here. In any case the ‘petrol fumes’ introduction to rose & resins has been done before and with much greater finesse in Histoires de Parfums Rosam. It makes this effort by January Scent Project seems amateurish in comparison.

Ultimately it boils down to the scent. I didn’t enjoy it, couldn’t scrub it off soon enough. And that’s why I’m giving it a ‘THUMBS DOWN’.

04th June, 2018

Binturong by Auphorie

What is a Binturong? Apparently, it's a species of bearcat native to Southeast Asia. Gee, I didn't know that. I must have slept through my Geography classes. Not that it matters, for surely the name is nothing but a marketing decision to align each release with Auphorie's Southeast Asian heritage.

On my skin, Binturong 'purrs' contentedly, a musky leathery oriental of impressive depth and ambition, featuring a barnyard-like almost fecal note that is perfectly tempered by the spices and smoky resins. Thankfully this animalistic aspect hugs the skin so you won't go around reeking of a petting zoo.

After Miyako, this is probably my next favorite from the house. The ingredient quality is topnotch and execution near flawless. I almost feel guilty wearing it when so many people have to make do with expensive yet harsh-smelling chemicals. Fans of Dior Leather Oud should get their nose on this cat before it goes extinct. Or am I already too late?
26th May, 2018

This Is Not A Blue Bottle by Histoires de Parfums

I am not a fan of screechy woody ambers by any stretch of imagination and This Is Not A Blue Bottle seems to be loaded with the stuff. Fortunately my first encounter with it began last year with a modest dab from a sample because anything more than a single spray is likely to bring me back to the dentist office for a root canal.

Today I wore a single spray to the chest under my shirt. Such a restrained approach to wearing paid dividends. It kept a leash on the screechy base and allowed the rest of the composition to shine. From the electric, almost ozonic orange-laced aldehydes at the top to the warm ambery glow of honeyed musk in the heart. It might not have worked out for some but for me, it did. Beautifully.

I can’t deny the synthetic signature of This Is Not A Blue Bottle is such a departure from the house’ typically richer baroque style but it is clearly intentional and somehow IMO they made it work. The KEY to unlocking its magic is to wear it sparingly.

This Is Not A Weapon of Nose Destruction but it comes close. The power on tap is unbelievable. A single shot to the solar plexus announces my (fragrant) presence with the subtlety of a sports commentator. I dare not attempt it but I believe 3-4 sprays will be the olfactory equivalent of an air raid siren. Joop! Homme has finally met his match.

Olfactorywise, this rates a Neutral from me. It smells like a good designer and reminds me somewhat of Cartier L’Envol. But I appreciate Histoires de Parfums’ audacity to take a cheeky piss on the reigning designer woody amber trend with this irreverent release. That’s why I’m giving this a ‘thumbs up’.

23rd May, 2018

Bel Ami Vetiver by Hermès

Take a best-selling classic, graft onto it a popular more contemporary note and call it a day. JC Ellena made it all look so easy. He basically phoned it in. That’s probably why they call him a ‘master perfumer’.

It seems ‘originality’ is no longer a requirement when you craft for an esteemed house. ‘Commercial success’ is the unspoken rule.

Once again Ellena delivered the goods. Bel Ami fans lapped it up. The cash registers kept ringing while Hermes bean-counters kept smiling. As pleasant as this smells on the surface it fails to hide the stench of cynicism running underneath.

19th May, 2018

Jermyn Street by Floris

An elegant tip of the hat to the traditional eau de cologne but done with a modern twist. JERMYN STREET opens fresh and herbaceously aromatic, the citrus note interspersed with the bracing greens of juniper berries and the bite of artemisia. It settles down quickly to a faint woody amber which is undoubtedly synthetic in nature but given this house’s typical lighthanded approach, compliments the fleeting top notes rather well.

Not the best of performers by any accounts but for its genre, it does the job admirably enough. And like a 2-minute roller coaster ride I really don’t mind re-applying it just to relive the exhilarating experience all over again.
14th May, 2018

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

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)