Reviews by Naed_Nitram

    Showing 1 to 30 of 331.
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    Albany by D.R. Harris & co.

    Confusion of times and of places. I do not know whetherthis vanilla-based English fragrance is a product of Victorian or Edwardian times, or of the 1920s Bright Young Things era, or perhaps more contemporary still. So I shall let my imagination wander. Warm and kindly, modish, vibrant, quaint, a touch dandyish and decadent, a touch crude and one-dimensional yet somehow sophisticated, soothing and smooth with vanilla, the purity of its ingredients keeping it just the right side of any suggestions of cheapness. Actually, although cruder, a scent that has some suggestions of celebrated fragrances like Caron's Pour Un Homme, Guerlain's Jicky, D'Orsay's Etiquette Bleue.

    According to D.R. Harris: "A fusion of aromatic essences, blended to give a lasting but not overpowering fragrance ... Spicy hints of lavender, lime and orange with a hint of bergamot and musk result in a warm and refreshing aroma." True enough, but why no mention of the overruling vanilla? As I said, I shall let my imagination wander. Worn by Sherlock Holmes in his sunniest moods; suggestions of the amateur cracksman and gentleman cricketer, the incomparable Raffles; also worn by genteel Edwardian botanists and butterfly collectors; possibly also by their wives; said to be sampled by Bertie Wooster to Jeeves's slight dismay ("perhaps a trifle modern, sir, and a tad lacking in gravitas"); said to be adored by Bright Young Things and the eccentric younger sons of Dukes; daring aroma of 1920s country house parties; possibly smelled on Fred Astaire aboard some 1930s luxury liner; Mussolini might have worn it; Hitler, never; nor would Stalin; Churchill and Roosevelt, perhaps.

    10th May, 2013

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    Freshening Cologne by D.R. Harris & co.

    It came to pass that Harris appeared before the populace a second time and spake to them thus: "Lo, in erstwhile days I have brought ye orange oil mingled with musk and have called it Harris Traditional, and for this bounty ye have righteously praised me an hundredfold. Behold, now I bring ye Son of Harris, which shall also be known as Freshening, being of lemon peel and musk. In purity of ingredients, it is beyond reckoning, being of great gentleness and kindly on the nose. Whatsoever strife shall assail ye, howsoever ye stink and ye grunt, let it be your comforter."

    10th May, 2013

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    Traditional Cologne by D.R. Harris & co.

    Lo, Harris came with orange oil and musk. Lo, he beheld the peoples of the world and he spake to them thus: "Though ye are stinky and depressed, fear not. I bring ye a fragrance, pure, light and simple, to alleviate your burthen. Though ye stagger in sweat and despair, though ye strain your sinews in the tempests of this world, behold, I bring ye a fragrance. Sweet oranges ripening in the sun, the charm of soft musky shadows. Behold, I have melded them both in my art. Are ye not grateful? Nay, I cannot promise salvation, but for sure I can help ye along."

    10th May, 2013

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    Hammam Bouquet by Penhaligon's

    When Queen Victoria's favoured Scottish Servant, the controversial John Brown, encountered her louche son and heir, Bertie, Prince of Wales, wearing Hammam Bouquet, he wrinkled his nose in disgust. "Och, ye dir-rty little man," exclaimed Brown, "ye were the daith of your puir fayther and ye'll be the daith of your puir mother yet! A real man should reek of Bay Rum, horses and whuskey, like myself! Yet here ye are, poncing about the royal palaces with a stench of roses as I dinna scarcely ken! D'ye no' realize, laddy, ye smell like some devil's brew between a harlot's knickers, a fop's armpits, and the sensual shenanigans in the harem of a Purr-sian Prince? Have ye no shame?" The Prince replied: "In spite of your insolence, Brown, your comments are quite perceptive. For a rather more subtle analysis of Hammam Bouquet's pyschological and cultural implications than that just provided by yourself, may I refer you to the review below by the excellent Mr. Good-Life, surely one of the most perceptive reviews in the annals of Basenotes."

    22 April, 2013

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    Eucris by Geo F Trumper

    On first encountering Trumper's Eucris, I was left with a faint impression of mouldering meaty gravy. And I can certainly appreciate the impressions of those reviewers who atmospherically conjure up senile bodily odours, rotting compost heaps, coffin smells, and doom-laden dreams of Goths. The fact is that the Victorians and Edwardians, when they were not dwelling on death, were especially partial to devouring dishes based on the innards of animals, such as tripe, kidneys, liver and so forth. Mostly, however, they politely concealed this neanderthal trait in their fragrances, whether through spicy Bay Rums, medicinal Eau de Quinines, variegated citrus and ferns, or rich and romantical scents of rose, jasmine, sandlewood and musk. It seems, however, that around 1912 the celebrated Geo. F. Trumper unnacountably chanced on the odd idea of evoking the atmosphere of animal offal and vegetal decay in a fragrance. Thus Eucris was born, and we are living with it still. From what I have said, it seems that my judgement of Eucris should be utterly negative. Yet so strange it is, so weirdly and simultaneously compelling and offputting in its brooding stench of stale decay, that I feel I must grant it a neutral judgement. Were I not both mortal and vegetarian, perhaps I would like it more. (de Charlus).

    22 April, 2013

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    Phileas by Nina Ricci

    Reticent , delicate, serene, and slightly mysterious, Phileas might seem to give the lie to the belief that a fragrance with celery as a dominant theme could ever be a thing of beauty. Fragile and misty, it seems to somehow combine the impression of dew on a leaf in a kitchen garden with the aroma of some bare and exquisite ballroom which has just been freshly cleaned - delicate oudoor smells of early morning mingled with the smells of highly civilized interiors. The later developments of Phileas continue in the same vein but with a gradually stealing warmth. Too generous spraying can give a slightly animalic tinge to these later stages. Phileas does have something in common with dry herbal fragrances like Yatagan and Sud Est but it is altogether more refined and sophisticated. I also see the partial affinity with Oscar Pour Lui mentioned by the estimable PigeonMurderer's review.

    22 March, 2012

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    YSL pour Homme by Yves Saint Laurent

    This was a great favourite of my dear friend Robert, Marquis de Saint-Loup, and its various attributes have always seemed to me to mirror similar attributes in that dearest of men. The uniquely bright and sharp, tangy and refreshing opening affords a verisimilitude of Saint-Loup's own sharp, bright, utterly refreshing character. Its later warm and kindly developments, a distinguished herbal warmth almost unequalled among male fragrances, still symbolize for me his sunny good nature and unparalleled nobility.

    That being said, I share some sympathy with the reviewer who remarked that YSL Pour Homme is a fragrance that does not age particularly well, older bottles tending to lose some of the sharp beauty of the opening notes. I can even sympathize with the reviewer who declared that its later herbal developments could sometimes seem a touch camphorous, reminding him of old men and mothballs. And yet does not this, too, represent a symbol of my poor Saint-Loup? Did not Robert, in later years, find it hard to live up to the promise of his glorious youth? And did not unfortunate, more questionable aspects of his personality emerge? Nevertheless, I maintain an undying affection both for the fragrance and the man. (Marcel).

    22 March, 2012

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    Jaguar (original) by Jaguar

    It opens with a salvo of powdery orange, simultaneously soft, strong, rich and enveloping. This opening somehow manages to be both blatant and distinguished, indeed, one might call it cloying, forceful and elegant all at the same time, rather as if some high-born aristocrat had wandered into a backstreet brothel. Soon, blending seamlessly with the powdery orange, there comes a murmur of indeterminate spices bathed in gentle sweet sandalwood. An intriguing and rather paradoxical fragrance with both masculine and feminine attributes, sweet and pleasant but on the cusp of becoming decadent and suffocating, a suggestion of cheapness rescued by more than a suggestion of elegance and distinction. Rather like a Jaguar limousine, perhaps, particularly if it were painted gold, pink, or, indeed, orange?

    In some ways, this original Jaguar fragrance, in the green bottle, strikes me as being superior in balance and blending to the rather marvellous Jaguar Mark II for which I earlier wrote an effusive review. The only trouble with the splendid Jaguar Mark II, it now strikes me, is that, to appreciate the full glory of its opening notes, you have to spray quite a lot of it on. But, if you do that, the later woody developments, excellent as they are, become too oppressively strong. That is what I mean by calling it an imperfectly balanced and blended fragrance over its whole development.

    19 March, 2012

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    Sybaris by Antonio Puig

    The Baron de Charlus once told me: "I recall the time when I was a houseguest at the London apartment of Oscar Wilde. He gave us each a bottle of Sybaris eau de toilette from the House of Puig.

    'You know, de Charlus,' the celebrated wit, poet and playwright informed me, 'although I prefer the opening notes of the golden oil of Sybaris - sensual, seductive, ancient, barbaric - to its later leathery denouement, I still believe I arrived at the definitive summation of this fragrance when I said that it was as if Oscar Wilde had met Attila the Hun in the harem of an Oriental prince. A rather fine description, don't you think?' ' Indeed I do, my dear Oscar,' I assured him, 'so fine a description that I wish I had thought of it myself. But, come to think of it, I believe I did describe it in just such terms several years ago, as a passing remark on Sybaris in a review of Puig's Boston Man. Perchance you read my review and, in a moment of confusion, have attributed it to your good self?'

    Somewhat piqued by this information, and no doubt also by the snickering it elicited from his bosom companion, Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas, the great man snatched back the bottle of Sybaris which he had given me and demanded that I leave his house forthwith."

    19 March, 2012

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    Signoricci by Nina Ricci

    Whispering from its beautiful bottle by Lalique, a delicate overture of lemon with a mere breath of herbs, perfectly blended and balanced. Pure citrus quality, a shy, hesitant smile that develops into a mature distinction and restraint, the gentlest of woods with the mildest suggestions of powder. Ah, I could almost be back in the dressing room of my dear father, in that old chateau which he shared with my uncle the Duc des Esseintes, sunlight pouring in through the windows on a fine summer morning!

    "We must always remember, Meme," he would inform me , "to choose the cravat with the utmost care to suit both the scent and the season. Today, shall it be the palest grey, reminiscent of the wings of a dove, or a soft and delicate rose? What think you, my little dandy?" "I think the rose, Papa," I replied, "for it perfectly suits the season. As for suiting the scent, Signoricci is such a beautiful fragrance that it could complement almost any attire, whether it be that of pale Gallic exquisites like yourself and my uncle or red-faced English Dukes with hairy nostrils and even hairier tweeds. I also believe it could complement any season, from the summer towers and haystacks of our beautiful France to the no less poetic autumnal mists of Scottish moors. Why, even in the snow and ice of cruel midwinter, assuming we are suitably ensconced in some cosy abode with a crackling fire, wine and cakes at our elbow, the utter distinction of Signoricci would make contentment complete!"

    My father smiled and sighed, wondering sadly, and not for the first time, what would become of this poor little fop of his loins if he should chance to lose all his money and leave him no inheritance other than a few grandiose titles, outmoded and outworn, whispering of a once medieval greatness and, of course, the aristocratic aroma, faded and elegant, of the exquisite Signoricci.

    17 March, 2012

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    Kouros Cologne Sport by Yves Saint Laurent

    A mysterious scent, but sadly misnamed. It should rather be called "The Enigma of the Hour" or "The Phantom of the Pharmacy" or even, quite simply, "Afterwards". Here we have the formidably earthy creature that is Kouros (honeyed milky sweetness interfused with sperm, sweat and goat's urine) taken past the halfway house that is Kouros Fraicheur and ultimately refined into a clean, subtle, serene and elusive being. A whisper of the original Kouros smell informs this fragrance, and its reserved, slightly medicinal yet warm aura might just possibly invite some sort of "sport cologne" connection, but its real essence lies elsewhere. I think it has best been captured by the review of the admirable Indie_Guy (see below) who says "It smelled somewhat 'funereal' and conjured up images of burial linens. Spooky ... Fresh and yet has hints of otherworldly dark things floating through it." A brilliant and poetic observation. Not so much death as decay in a Victorian churchyard (which, to my nose, Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme can sometimes suggest) but death in mysterious Egyptian dimensions - a space of eternal shadows. Not to everyone's taste, perhaps, but don't be alarmed into thinking that, if you wear this scent, you will be mistaken for one of the walking dead. (One could equally compose a narrative placing this fragrance in an 1890s Parisian salon, imagining it being worn by a slightly eccentric young dandy and also, perhaps, by his elderly aunts). I merely meant to suggest that it does capture a real sense of mystery - hence the connection with death as the ultimate enigma. Like the original Kouros, in its very different way, a bit of a masterpiece, and one equally likely to divide opinion.

    25 November, 2011

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    Cacharel Pour L'Homme by Cacharel

    "The King of Spain's daughter asked to marry me / All for the sake of my little nutmeg tree."

    Truth to tell, Your Majesty, I was wearing Cacharel Pour L'Homme" at the time, so how could she resist? After a while, she took to wearing it as well.

    24 November, 2011

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    Coriolan by Guerlain

    Elegant, evocative, enigmatic, eccentric - Coriolan seems to be one of those Guerlain fragrances that really divides opinion. Personally, I love it dearly - an alchemy of ingredients that almost defies description in terms of conventional fragrance categories and yet somehow achieves its own sort of odd perfection. Imagine a soiree in the Faubourg Saint Germain. In one corner, the Baron de Charlus sniffs his wrist appreciatively. In another corner, the ever-ailing Marcel, propped on a chaise longue, does the same. Both are wearing Coriolan. "It seems that forever," murmurs the Baron, "I have been seeking such an overture: this rich depth of plum-coloured velvet riddled with the aristocratic sharpness of watered silk, both companiably wedded to a sour-sweet, brackish sophistication and a heroic roughness!" "The overture," murmurs Marcel, "is pleasant enough. But the true glory of this scent is in the last, lingering moments of its basenotes. They have been present there like a phantom, from the beginning, but now, at last, they achieve their apotheosis, leading me into an underworld of disappearing echoes, lost lives, lost loves, full of pride, swagger, gratitude and regret. True poetry of the perfumier's art!"

    24 November, 2011

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    Eau de Campagne by Sisley

    Visiting my friend Marcel in his hospital bed the other day, I was surprised to find him in a mood that was almost ecstatic. "As you well know, mon cher Nitram," he informed me, "I have long been anxious to recapture lost time. Well, here I have a veritable bottle of precious, elusive memories! At the first sniff of Sisley's Eau de Campagne, I was immediately transported back to my childhood! There I was, all of eight years old, dressed in my little sailor suit (de rigueur attire for children of my generation), crawling through the summer undergrowth at the bottom of our garden. The smell of cut grass and tall, dusty nettles, warmed by the sun, surrounded me on all sides, interspersed with the occasional whiff of herbs and tomato plants from our kitchen garden. Although a somewhat delicate child, I was determined to keep on crawling, in the vague hope that, somewhere in the midst of all this fragrant foliage, I would meet up with my first love Gilberte, also eight years old, and, nose to nose, we would declare our undying devotion to each other!"
    At this point in his monologue, Marcel was interrupted by a huge, frowning nurse who informed him briskly that he really should stop getting so excited and eat up his tapioca pudding.

    19 November, 2011

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    Eau de Quinine by Crown Perfumery

    Probably beloved of Sherlock Holmes, possibly enjoyed by Oscar Wilde in certain of his moods, perhaps appreciated by Jack the Ripper, almost certainly dismissed by King Edward "Tum Tum" the Seventh, Crown Eau de Quinine could well inspire the following adjectives: medicinal, metaphysical, mysterious, reserved, deep, complex, uncanny, sinister, quaintly traditional and oddly modern. In fact, a bit of an enigma.

    18 November, 2011

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    Crown Imperial by Crown Perfumery

    The first delight is a visual one: the colour of this juice is an unusual deep, luxuriant orange. The second delight, on initial spraying, is the obvious purity and quality of the citrus ingredients. The third delight is that, after a couple of minutes, the citrus, to my nose, seems to take on the sharp, refreshing tang (sharp but never harsh) that is almost identical to the opening notes of YSL Pour Homme - one of my favourite opening citrus blasts.
    After these three delights, Crown Imperial took me on a pleasant enough journey into the realms of traditional eau de cologne developments - quiet woods and spices modulating the citrus. Perhaps, towards the end, something of that traditional Crown mustiness and fustiness crept in - but not enough to be offputting.
    All in all, a rather fine experience.

    18 November, 2011

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    Worth pour Homme by Worth

    Unexpected encounters in elegant corridors. A cousin of the original Paco Rabanne, Worth Pour Homme is quieter and more reserved. A beautifully blended scent at a budget price, putting many more expensive fragrances to shame.

    17 November, 2011

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    Dolce & Gabbana Pour Homme by Dolce & Gabbana

    A handsome man, and a strong one, smelling of lemons and tobacco, a hint of old-world charm and timeless menace. A touch of old Sicily, smiling, formal and polite. But tread carefully, spray gently, mind your manners. There's power and danger lurking here and more than a liitle ruthlessness. He definitely knows where all the bodies are buried.

    17 November, 2011

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    Envy for Men by Gucci

    A smooth limousine of a fragrance, this, with never a bump or a rough spot. It just sort of glides along, light and silky, woods and spices, simultaneously powerful and subdued. Some might find it almost bland in its quiet, oiled perfection. The limousine glides. Passers by crane their necks, eager to get a glimpse of who's inside. Well, obviously, it's Monsieur le Duc d'Elegance and Monsieur le Compte de Suave.

    17 November, 2011

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    Noir by Network Health & Beauty

    Stranded in the jungle, surrounded on all sides by hostile tribes, his ammunition and his beloved Denim Original all used up, the intrepid English explorer Captain Bunty Fortescue-Smythe had little option but to accept the offer made to him by his chum, Captain Horatio 'Boy' Carruthers, to splash on some Noir eau de toilette.
    "One of the best budget scents," 'Boy' Carruthers assured him. "Perhaps not as fresh, clean, decent and manly as Denim Original. In fact, more of a sultry evening scent, golden and glamorous, the sort that a chap might wear when he's asking a chorus girl to dine. It's made in Great Britain, of course. Like Denim Original, it's fairly fleeting and inexpensive, you need to slap quite a bit of it on to make an impression, but, again like Denim Original, it's dashed well blended. Puts me strongly in mind of Ho Hang by Balenciaga, even, to a lesser extent, of Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur, maybe even a hint of Chanel Pour Monsieur. It has, somehow, that vague promise of sophisticated scent that a chap so appreciates when he's just left school and is first learning about cologne and women and so forth."
    "Very well," replied Bunty in clipped tones, "since we're out of ammo and Denim Original, what have we to lose? Let's dress for dinner, slap on some Noir eau de toilette, sing some old school songs and raise our glasses to Queen Victoria! We'll show these foreign johnnies that an Englishman can go down bravely and smelling good!"
    Whether it was due to the Noir eau de toilette, or to the school songs, or to the mention of the mighty Empress-Queen Victoria, when dawn broke the enemy had disappeared and the two pals made their weary way back to civilization.

    13 October, 2011

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    Weil pour Homme by Weil

    Visiting my friend Marcel in his hospital bed the other day, I was pleased to see that he seemed to have slightly recovered his health and his spirits. "I must tell you, mon cher Nitram," he informed me eagerly, "I have latterly made the discovery of Weil Pour Homme. An old school fragrance, if you like, but you know that I do like that sort of thing. It puts me in mind slightly of Cellini by Faberge, although the analogy is far from exact, Weil Pour Homme being somewhat drier, more haughty and more subdued. But Weil Pour Homme has something of the same overture of citrus and herbs, and something of that same rather delightful resinous quality. Its later developments are definitively smooth, warm and distinguished, in some ways like an expensive masculine soap, yet still with that herbal and resinous resonance. For some reason, it rather reminds me of the interior of a Bentley limousine. A rather traditional, elegant gentleman's cologne, to be sure. But, if you will excuse me now, I really must eat up this tapioca pudding which these kind nurses have put before me. I hope to see you soon."

    EDIT: Weil Pour Homme Old and New: So as not to mislead potential purchasers, I should say that my review was for the older version of Weil Pour Homme (bottle with a large maroon 'W' on front and maroon plastic cap). The newer currently available version, relaunched in 2004, I believe, (squarish bottle with silver cap and faint horizontal silver lines on bottle) is a different, and to my nose, less delightful affair, having been reformulated. Lemon, lime and lavender have disappeared from the topnotes, to be replaced by pineapple. Lavender has been transposed to the midnotes and nutmeg added to them, although basil and jasmine still remain. The basenotes are also different, sandalwood replacing cedarwood, and tonka being omitted.
    The newer Weil Pour Homme is still quite a nice, subtle, elegant scent but lacks the rather delightful resinous and soapy quality which I liked so much in the older version, especially in the basenotes. The basenotes of the newer version are an altogether more weak and boring affair, to my nose. Any comparison, however partial, with the excellent, discontinued Cellini by Faberge is completely inappropriate for the newer version.

    17 September, 2011 (Last Edited: 10th October, 2011)

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    Cellini by Fabergé

    Visiting my friend Marcel in his hospital bed the other day, he clutched my arm and whispered hoarsely: "You know, mon cher Nitram, I have such fond memories of the long discontinued Cellini by Faberge! It was the summer that Albertine and I undertook a motoring tour of the Italian countryside, and the smell of Cellini seemed to surround us everywhere - a splendid opening of lemon and herbs and - the thing I remember most - a unique development of such a sunny resinous warmth. I have never known its like in any other scent! It really seemed to sing of the Italian summer, good food, good fortune, happy futures, the promise between Albertine and myself! And to see me now, surrounded by the smells of disinfectant and tapioca pudding, bored nurses and self-important doctors! Albertine gone, Cellini gone, myself almost gone, and you standing there, twitching, unsure how to console me! Empty beds of the dead!"

    17 September, 2011

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    Lagerfeld Classic by Lagerfeld

    Revisiting Lagerfeld Classic after some years, I am certain that the formula has been changed. My memories of Lagerfeld Classic are of a rich, warm, full-bodied, boozy kind of fragrance that enveloped the wearer in an olfactory cloud as thick as an overcoat, and which somehow conjured up a number of vivid, if rather jarring, images - elderly aristocrats, gentlemen's clubs, decanters of cognac, rich brown oak panels, oddly juxtaposed with pimps, pink cadillacs, heavy gold chains and murky backstreet business. In a way, this identity crisis was almost part of its charm.
    But, unless my nose, memory, and imagination deceive me, the newer bottle of Lagerfeld Classic seems an altogether thinner and more chemical affair - not actively horrible, but a poor ghost of its former rich glory. Or do I deceive myself?

    13 September, 2011

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    Mark Birley for Men by Mark Birley

    If memory serves me rightly and I am not fantasizing, this scent bears the name of a scion of the international jet set, owner of exclusive nightclubs, who numbered among his intimate friends both aristocrats and lions and tigers. Did he, perhaps, even keep a private zoo?
    Nothing wrong with Mr. Birley having a scent named after him, except that it is such a truly awful scent. It would not matter so much that it is so relentlessly one-dimensional - which it is - if only that one dimension were more pleasant. But, to my nose, at least, it is decidedly unpleasant, crass, harsh yet cloying, frankly ugly - possessing an oppressive aura that is almost as dire as that of the terrifying Macassar by Rochas. As the excellent Oviatt says in his review (see below), it really does bear some resemblance to the cleaning fluids in a charlady's broom cupboard.
    Again, if memory serves me rightly and I am not fantasizing, the Baron de Charlus once told me that when he was a houseguest at the Birley estate, Mr. Birley gave him a bottle of his eponymous perfume. The Baron was so underwhelmed by it that he gave his bottle away to one of Mr. Birley's lions. The poor animal took one sniff and went into terminal decline.
    (On reflection, I believe the zoo may have belonged not to Mr. Birley but to his friend and fellow club owner John Aspinall. I wonder if Mr. Aspinall has a scent named after him?)

    13 September, 2011

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    Cotswold by Dukes of Pall Mall

    "I say, Jeeves, I was just about to slap on some of the jolly old lotion, but I can't seem to lay my digits on my Signoricci or my Bowling Green, my Marlborough or my Blenheim Bouquet. Have you seen them?"
    "Indeed I have, sir. I last saw them when I placed them in the rubbish, where I thought it best to deposit them."
    "But, dash it all, Jeeves, those are all deucedly fine scents - essence of the Englishman, skylarks and summer, flannelled fools, country house japes, sauntering through Mayfair with Biffy Montague-Evans, etc."
    "Fine scents indeed, sir, but I fear they all rather fade into insignificance compared with the discontinued and virtually unattainable Cotswold by Dukes of Pall Mall, a bottle of which I have just placed on your dressing table."
    "Cotswold? Dukes of Pall Mall? Never heard of it. Where did you get it, Jeeves?"
    "Well, sir, I believe we owe thanks to the estimable Mr. Good-Life for making it known to Basenotes and for writing a first and excellent review. It so happens that I have managed to secrete a few bottles of this elixir away for my personal use and so it seemed a tad churlish to deny my employer a taste of this olfactory delight. It really does constitute a zenith of unpretentious citrus perfection - pure, unalloyed, simultaneously soothing and uplifting, a veritable epitome of skylarks and summer, flannelled fools, and rolling English hills. And yet there is more. Through some extraordinary artistry, Dukes of Pall Mall succeeded in giving to Cotswold an intricate developing theme that would make most niche perfumiers gnash their teeth with envy. For, melting into the citrus, in the most natural and unassuming way, are ' a jasmine base - it contains Yland and other fleur blanche, whilst a hint of woods binds a fragrance that is both embracing and aromatic.' Yet this added dimension - which would surely make Mr. Oscar Wilde blanch with the beauty of it - is blended so perfectly with the dominant citrus tone that it does not jar in the slightest but remains at all times clean, light, and fresh. Thus it achieves the rare feat of pleasing both aesthetes and sportsmen, eccentricity and convention, Mr. Wilde and the Marquis of Queensbury."
    "It sounds fairly spiffing, Jeeves, but what if my Aunt Agatha doesn't like it? You know how particular she is. If she doesn't like it, she might cut my allowance."
    "I assure you, sir, one whiff of Cotswold and your Aunt Agatha is certain to double your allowance."

    12 September, 2011

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    Quorum by Antonio Puig

    My dark and elder green, surrounded by the brown murmurs of the forest floor, deep masculine shadows, shafts of sunlight through the trees, warmth of subdued but urgent spices. After a while of travelling through a tunnel in the earth - gloomy, musty, warm, profound - I somehow emerged into a chamber of great distinction where a group of gentlemen sat around a large table, discussing matters of great moment. "Messieurs, brethren, cameradoes," I announced, "I assume we are gathered here to discuss the mysteries of the much maligned Quorum. How sad that persons of otherwise good taste and discernment should relegate this fragrant poem, layered with strangeness and with depth, to a universe of sweaty groins and over-muscled machismo! Are they mad or merely prone to overspraying? Ancient of days! Essence of natural nobility! Mystical odour of a forgotten race of Peasant-Kings! Warm and kindly, rough with the earth but purely royal, a tinge of sadness, and such a well of enigmatic depth!" (de Charlus).

    12 September, 2011

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    Douro Eau de Portugal / Lords by Penhaligon's

    Having created Blenheim Bouquet, perhaps the finest citrus and pine cologne known to the perfumier's art, the House of Penhaligon always has an uphill struggle to match it with any other of its citrus creations. And so it is with Lords [Douro]. In spite of the obvious quality of its ingredients, it strikes my nose as one-dimensional and harsh, somehow combined with a dusty, fusty Englishness.

    01st August, 2011

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    Quercus by Penhaligon's

    Quercus - soft,warm, and brown. No, not like a sleeping puppy, more like a kinder, gentler, more civilized Quorum. Imagine a retired banker, of the old school, Eton and Oxford bred. Distinguished and masculine but with a slightly subdued sperm count. He potters about in his garden, he potters about in his club, he potters about at the County Show. Fellow says to him in the latrines: "What ho, Reggie, damned fine scent you're wearing! What's it called?" "Quercus, don't you know, well accepted everywhere, quality all the way. Doesn't shout too loud but lets you know it's got the money."

    01st August, 2011

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    Endymion by Penhaligon's

    A magical scent from the House of Penhaligon. A mysterious castle in an enchanted forest. The old nurse muttering incantations. The ancient chamber of the heir. A whisper of cloves amid the flowered, ethereal gardens? That fairy tunnel through the trees. And, strangely enough, not only highly poetic but also extremely wearable.

    01st August, 2011

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    Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme by Van Cleef & Arpels

    An ancient rose, filtered through grey gauze. Sober enough, and abstract, but pervaded by a stuffy Victorian sweetness. A gathering of diplomats on the lawn of an old chateau. An elderly aristocrat reading metaphysics in his paneled library. A hint of realms beyond. A smell of the grave almost. Distinguished and immaculate, but is it my imagination tells me that a bottle of this scent, presented to me in the 1980s by a certain Monsieur Suleiman, had much more depth and authority, but lacked that deathbed touch of sickly rose?

    05 July, 2011

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