Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Zenwannabee

Total Reviews: 47

Antaeus by Chanel

I never wore the original. That said, I have a passionate but distant love for this fragrance. And for me, there are other Chanel scents that are better blended. I love the leather and moss, but there's something else here (the myrtle?), that always cautions me, "be careful, very very careful." Make a trigger finger mistake with Quorum or Havana and you may clear a room. Too much Antaeus and you'll be running from yourself. As someone once remarked of Kouros, it's almost a scent to spray into the air and step through vs. applying directly. But swagger doesn't like to be told to go softly. I only really wear it with a suit. It's "Bonfire of the Vanities" in a cool black bottle. Go bold or go home. But carefully... :-)
18th June, 2018

Tuscany / Etruscan by Aramis

I adore this fragrance and assumed I'd reviewed it years ago. Finding I hadn't, I figured no time like the present.

I have to say first that I'm amazed (and gladdened) that Tuscany is still in production. As one who grew up in the '70s and who admires '70s and '80s powerhouses, I'm so happy that Estee Lauder is still making this. In a world of aquatics and gourmands, Tuscany feels like a creature from the late Palaeozoic (as do I sometimes). It's the scent that, other than Old Spice, I wear when I don't know just what to wear.

I can understand the comparisons to Azzaro Pour Homme. I love both scents and find them different enough that they both work for me. At the risk of oversimplification, APH is my City Mouse, and Tuscany my Country Mouse. APH is a bit dirtier and yet refined, with the addition of the crazy anise top notes. Tuscany is a simpler scent to my nose, with the lovely bergamot opening to match my Earl Grey, and a patchouli that my wife swears she loves more than any other scent I wear. And though I wear it all year, the scent always evokes summer for me--sun high and hot through pines, my grandmother's kitchen, children laughing, and a yellow Labrador leaping with abandon into a deep lake.

Tuscany is a scent that simultaneously transports me to every exotic place, and yet at heart says "home" to me.

17th June, 2018 (last edited: 18th June, 2018)

Tabac Original by Mäurer & Wirtz

The EDC for me is as iconic as the bottle. The aldehydes always take me a little by surprise, as though I'm in the barber's chair and not the one controlling the application. But a bracing slap on the cheeks, chest and arms, and I'm good to go. I catch my breath a bit with the bright floral topnotes, but then smile and revel in the rich dry-down that soon follows. The carnation and earthy ashy scent of the geranium ground this for me, and combined with the amber provide that creamy smokiness that hovers about me for hours. A scent with both modesty and self-assurance. What more could a gentleman ask for? And 10 oz. for $20 bucks? A no-brainer.

And with Tabac, I always want to hold up the bottle to those Procter and Gamble executives who replaced the Old Spice glass bottle with plastic and then had to change the formula. Maurer & Wirtz knew better than to mess with a classic.
06th March, 2016 (last edited: 09th March, 2016)
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One Man Show by Jacques Bogart

This is a neutral for me--just barely. To reference the genealogy and contemporaries of this scent, if I didn't know that Quorum existed, OMS might get a thumbs up from me because it's just so out there and overwhelmingly and even brutishly masculine.

But where Quorum mellows into a fugue for me, OMS is discord from beginning to end. What starts as a "synthetic natural" vibe turns into a riot of synthetic soap and wood and metal--a warped feng shui of sorts that, while still having a certain allure and charm, in the end just gives me a headache.

While Quorum is a quality scent from the powerhouse era to be had now at bargain prices, OMS seems a tawdry frag dressed up as more than it is. Not bad every now and then, but whoa!--definitely not something for every day. Thinking too much about this one is just like over-spraying it--makes me shudder.

03rd August, 2015

Dior Homme Intense by Christian Dior

I like this--I think.

Wearing DHI is like getting dolled up in your black-tie best and going to a red carpet function where you're immediately accosted by about 30 gorgeous women in heavy lipstick who jostle and push you headlong into the dessert table. When you extricate yourself, you're a bit breathless and disoriented from the experience--but you can't say it wasn't a good time.

To me, DHI is a total gourmand, and you have to like the initial iris and a rather waxy cocoa to enjoy it. It's also not going to win any awards for being uber-masculine. That said, on the whole I love vanilla scents, and DHI has rich, lovely vanilla that goes on seemingly forever (careful with the trigger finger here). The dry-down for me is rather linear, but that doesn't detract from the quality and immense presence of this scent. However, for what you pay for DHI, I've found myself wondering on more than one occasion if I wouldn't be better just sticking with Old Spice (still my barometer for any vanilla scent). My wife would probably agree.
18th July, 2015

Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior

On trying this out recently, I sprayed and loved it--until I smelled myself up close. Whereas from afar, I reveled in the heavenly lemon and vetiver, at the skin level I detected a concentrated pungent, cabbage-y accord, that reminded me distinctly of helping my grandmother clean the house with a big bucket of Pine Sol in my youth. Not exactly the fragrance I was hoping for. However, after an hour or so, this acrid note disappeared and I enjoyed the rest of the ride.

For me, chypres are finicky. With a polarizing scent like Aramis, I can abide the gamey topnotes on the way to the heart of the fragrance, but this one was a bit off-putting for me. Part of it, I think, is that Eau Sauvage EDT is at heart a 60s fragrance (like Aramis), with the cologne sensibility and orientation of that time. Not a bad scent at all and worth trying. Just not necessarily my favorite. May have to give it a second chance...
18th July, 2015

Acqua di Giò pour Homme by Giorgio Armani

I give AdG a thumbs up, although I no longer own a bottle or see an occasion where I might wear this. My positive review is based on two things: first that this was an original in its genre, and second because of how well-blended it is. It's a nearly perfect aquatic. Hats off to Mr. Armani.

There are those who will decry it as too commonplace and overused, and that because it's so popular it can't possibly be good. If that were the case we'd have to also include Pop Tarts, Heinz Ketchup, Irish Spring, and Bud Light--each of which have a loyal following of millions and which all have their strengths.

As it is, with everyone bent on wearing AdG, I figure there's that much more room for lovers of powerhouse fougeres and leathers like myself (e.g. Aramis, Polo, Azzaro PH, and Quorum), to make an impression. Vive la différence, mes amis!
18th July, 2015

Legend by Michael Jordan

If folks don't or won't like this, I think a big reason is that it has a celebrity name attached to it and can be found at TJ Maxx. But having tried MJ Legend (though I'm not a huge fan of gourmands), I cannot think of a richer, more sumptuous fragrance at this price point. Legend simply blows many higher end fragrances out of the water when it comes to sheer quality and projection. If you love vanilla, chocolate, coffee, and toffee, you're in for a treat. And even better, the dry down soon leaves the dessert aisle behind and mellows into a marvelous amber. Also, as some others have mentioned, I get a lot of sandalwood from this. Delicious. A hidden gem--get yourself some.
17th July, 2015

Cigar by Rémy Latour

Cigar has to be one of the best values of any scent produced today. I think the name causes folks not to take it seriously. To me it's very similar to Quorum, but without the grapefruit topnotes and powder--a rich, deep and satisfying tobacco scent that doesn't evolve much on my skin. It's gentlemanly with a bit of soap and barbershop thrown in, and in my opinion has a nearly nuclear sillage, which can clear a room if over-applied (again, see Quorum). Good stuff. Inexpensive, but not cheap. And the packaging--well, what can you say, except, cigar...
12th July, 2015

L'Instant de Guerlain pour Homme by Guerlain

Lots to like here, especially the topnotes--and it's a fragrance that oozes quality. But though it sticks to clothes for days, I felt it had miserable sillage on my skin. And the powdery drydown elicited a visceral and vocal dislike from my better half, who is usually tolerant of anything I wear. Too bad, as it has to be one of the best bottles in modern men's perfumery. I made a present of it to a friend.
12th July, 2015

Mr Blass by Bill Blass

I bought this with high hopes because of the reviews I'd read and because I loved the simple, elegant shape of the bottle. And it's nothing one couldn't wear. However, inexpensive though it is, I felt it was less a leather scent than an incense scent that seemed to suggest a head shop in a half-empty derelict mall that no one really visits anymore. At this price point, I much prefer my drugstore standbys (Brut, Old Spice, or Clubman), and if I want a truly good leather scent, I'll pay $10 more for a bottle of Aramis. But in these times so dominated by aquatics and gourmands, my hat's off to those at Bill Blass for trying to offer something different.
12th July, 2015

Bentley for Men Intense by Bentley

I was really prepared to like this. I love bay rum and liked the notes pyramid listed here. However, after multiple wearings, it was just too cloying for me--and somehow the geranium had a strange presence that I didn't care for. I appreciated the top and base notes, but the middle was too saccharine sweet on my skin. Felt like it needed less sweet and more sweat (if that makes sense), to make it a fragrance I could really wear often. Nothing really bad or offensive with this one. Just not my cup of tea.
21st June, 2015 (last edited: 15th July, 2015)

Allure Homme Sport by Chanel

Although I value natural elements in fragrances, the synthetic note in this one is what gives it "pop" and, in my opinion, makes it stand out over the original. As popular as Allure is, all it does for me is to confirm how much I dislike heavy orange topnotes in fragrances--even in Chanel scents. It's almost like the mandarin heaviness is used simply to mask the banality underneath. Not much there there.

With Allure Homme Sport, however, I think the inside joke is that the flanker tops the original, that Darth Vader defeats Luke (at least temporarily), and that the great unwashed remain so, and remain sexy. Isn't that what a good cologne is supposed to do for us? This one made me feel something over and above the original--sporty, virile, edgy. Not necessarily the greatest ever, but so cool. What a good men's fragrance should be.
12th June, 2015
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Burberry Brit for Men by Burberry

Hard not to like--but harder to love. I used to wear this often and loved the dusty rose. And even though the dry-down was an uninspiring descent into powderlandia, it still wore pretty well. Not great, but the initial musky florals each time held such promise. Not a bad fragrance in its niche of the woods. One could do far worse.
30th April, 2015 (last edited: 17th May, 2015)

Chanel Pour Monsieur by Chanel

William H. Gass, writing of the novelist Henry James and his philosopher brother William, astutely observed that if "William was the superior thinker, Henry had the superior thought." When I think of Pour Monsieur and its brother Pour Monsieur Concentrée, I often think of them this way. I've worn PMC far longer and, at the risk of heresy, think of it definitely as a more formal, structured scent. It is my William James--I can detect each element (mandarin to nutmeg/tobacco, to heavenly vanilla) and thoroughly respect the composition and enjoy the ride. It is genius and has extraordinary sillage. Pour Monsieur, on the other hand, is my Henry James--the components after the lemony topnotes blend into a powdery, vetivery bliss that could indeed collapse and utterly fail. Yet it doesn't. It walks that line and emerges as truly greater than the sum of its parts. It is perfection, one of the best fragrances of the last century, and Chanel No. 5's true twin. It is "dated" in my mind only in that it allows for time travel. I wear it and feel immediately like I'm a gentleman walking out of the mid-1950s, well-heeled down a good street after a brief rain on some noble errand. Who knows what plot twists will follow? But I know simply that I'm ready.
25th April, 2015

Lime Sec by Pinaud

The first question to ask yourself about Lime Sec is why exactly are you wearing it. Personally, I can't see anyone under 40 being remotely interested in it. This is more of a "long past my clubbing days," "comfortably in a relationship" scent. Or maybe more that you've arrived at a place in life where you really wear fragrance only for yourself. I've heard this compared to toilet bowl cleanser, which though perhaps apt, is unfair. Like many Pinauds, it goes on rather gamey--and can seem to be missing a real lime scent. But (and you must wait a little) it begins to dry-down and...voila!...a terrific masculine lime musk that I think is really one of Pinaud's most long-lasting scents. Could I wear it everyday? Maybe not everyday. But it's one that I find suits me, that has no pretense, and that I truly enjoy. It's an afternoon in the hammock with the ballgame on the radio sort of scent. And the price is always right. Worth a splash.
19th September, 2014

Clubman Lustray Coachman by Pinaud

Pinaud's Lustray Coachman comes in a tall beer-like bottle, and from the color you might be about to drink a high-quality lager. Or maybe a bottle of warm Pabst Blue Ribbon--who knows? The only thing is, it smells exactly like Clubman original, but perhaps a bit more crisp in the topnotes and less fuzzy overall. Scent-wise, however, it's a dead ringer for the original, with notes of deep moss and lavender. Not sure why you'd own both. But I do--thank goodness. :-)
26th May, 2014

No. 5 by Chanel

Vogue's august editor, Diana Vreeland, as with many other of her pronouncements related to fashion, was spot on when she said that Chanel No. 5 really is the greatest fragrance for women. And although, in the nearly 40 years since she made that statement, there have been other excellent fragrances, it's hard to think of a scent that says "formal" and "ready" like Chanel No. 5. Others work fine for casual wear, but none I think come close to supplanting this fragrance as a woman's armor for the most important and intensely scrutinized of life's activities, engagements, and occasions. The fact that most wearers don't see it as an everyday scent only serves to reinforce this. It is truly a regal fragrance.
18th May, 2014

Eternity for Men by Calvin Klein

This was my signature scent in the mid-'90s. And smelling it now brings back that era--light and woody with hints of citrus and a great vetiver. I could wear it easily and it seemed to work for just about any occasion. I still think it's a good fragrance. I finally just tired of how synthetic it was (which maybe was also why I liked it in the first place). I think perhaps I got a bit older and my taste changed to heavier fougères. But still many good memories of this one.
11th May, 2014

Vintage by John Varvatos

This is a Houdini of a fragrance. In my opinion, one of the best men's scents in at least the last decade, but absolutely zero sillage. I put this on, savor the wafts of rich vanilla and warm tobacco--and poof! it's gone. And I'm one who doesn't mind colognes that lie down quickly and stay close to the body. But this one disappears nearly instantaneously--faster than many aftershaves I own. Not a deal killer if you don't mind re-applying often, or for an evening out. But a shame because it could have been legendary.
11th May, 2014

Halston Z-14 by Halston

I give this a thumbs-up even though it's not for me. To wear this scent and enjoy it you must like cinnamon and what seems to me a rather retro cola-leather musk. In the end, while I loved certain aspects of Z-14, I couldn't get past these. Seemed like I was always encountering sweet where I wanted savory. However, depending on one's tastes, there's lots to like. And one of the best cologne bottles ever.
08th May, 2014

Obsession for Men by Calvin Klein

One of the greatest sweet patchouli fragrances for men. How to explain the contradiction of this frag as a masculine powerhouse? But somehow it works. Yes, I admit that it absolutely must be applied moderately, but what a rich, wonderful scent! So sobering in its decadence. The only thing I think that really killed Obsession was its popularity. Alas. And it's also one of the only '80s powerhouses to be offered as a splash--it just seems to go on better that way. The aftershave balm is heavenly as well (could be a cologne itself). Obsession is perhaps the best CK fragrance ever.
05th May, 2014

Skin Bracer by Mennen

For some reason, though I've always been a fan of drugstore fragrances, I'd never tried Skin Bracer. But one of my favorite all-time scents is the smell of the classic (green) Mennen Speed-Stick deodorant. I said to myself often, "too bad they don't have a cologne that smells like this." Well, they do, and its name is Skin Bracer. I think it's a fragrance you can't go wrong with, that smells of fresh-baked cookies and mentholy goodness. Totally masculine.

If you look down your nose too far, you might get tripped up. The answer is right in front of you, Grasshopper.
05th May, 2014

Halston 1-12 by Halston

I also really wanted to like this. And in perhaps minuscule quantities, it could be both wearable and bearable. But unfortunately, as I wore this, I was lifted on a soapy wave, that held the promise of something beautiful on the dry-down. Alas, that wave turned into a raging storm with saccharine winds that at last deposited me on a beach of fabric softener that ran for miles, with no water and under a scorching sun. It was a scent that would not end. Somehow I survived, and found I could still love wearing other fragrances. But it was such a near miss that I hope not to repeat it.
04th May, 2014

Aramis by Aramis

Aramis is a cold mistress.

Or put differently, Aramis is about as warm as one of Neptune's moons, or as vibrant as Nefertiti's frozen gaze on the wall of a tomb.

When my wife first smelled this, she said, "it smells like stargazer lilies, mixed with wolf urine." Don't quite know where she's smelled wolf urine before, but you get the point.

For me, Aramis is one of the most elemental of modern colognes. And though I hate the smell of stargazers, I can get past the floral top notes to appreciate the deeper basenotes underneath. But somehow I wish the sandalwood (or something) on the dry-down were a bit warmer--that it would make just a small concession to frivolity and lighten up. However, for me Aramis is too much "all work and no play." It's just unyielding. And while I respect it and wear it occasionally, I can't say it's a fragrance that truly gives me pleasure.

Update: Still thumbs up, but I've really warmed to this. Despite all its abstruseness, angularity, and crazy somber florals, Aramis is pure genius. A monumental dry-down that just gets better as it goes on. It's patchouli in a tuxedo. Understated and yet brilliant. Wow!
29th April, 2014 (last edited: 23rd October, 2015)

English Leather by Dana

When I was in college, I shared a huge old house with a bunch of guys, mainly biology and chemistry majors. In the midst of some of the big parties we had, they'd exclaim, "let's do science!", and would run to the kitchen to create new outlandish cocktails, or snacks out of Cheez Whiz, hot sauce, and whatever was in the pantry. It was a crazy culinary experiment par excellence.

Dana's English Leather is the same way, except that it's now more of a science experiment than a cologne. For me, it in no way resembles the EL I loved in the '70s and '80s. I do get some citrus and then a pencil-cedary leather scent that can be tolerably pleasant. But that's just from a couple of dabs. Any more than that and I'm asphyxiated by a huge hit of what I can only call petroleum. I swear a splash of this is literally an environmental disaster. And as it's still sold in a large glass bottle, I shudder to think what would happen if it ever broke. I'd have to move out and raze the house to get rid of the smell.

I give it a "Neutral" out of respect for what English Leather once was. Even though I sometimes dab it on for old times' sake, it's definitely not the fragrance it used to be.

29th April, 2014 (last edited: 07th May, 2014)

Azzaro pour Homme by Azzaro

I've worn this for about a year now and I have to update my original review. The proof is in the wearing and APH just gets better each time I put it on. And while I enjoy the top notes, the amber basenotes are what I truly love about this scent, and the fact that it's so un-synthetic. I'm not usually one to change my mind about scents, but I have with this one--much to my own surprise. So much so that, if I had a signature scent, this would come close to being it.
Original review: Neutral

I like this well enough and respect it for the classic it is. But I find it a bit linear. I'm still searching for the anise top-note, as on me I get much more of a lemony sandalwood musk, with a flash of patchouli, that doesn't seem to change or evolve during an entire day of wearing it. Now I love anise, but to my mind Brut is a far better example of a great anise scent. As it is, sometimes I think of APH as a very refined fragrance, and other times I think I smell like I'm wearing a big bar of Dial soap around my neck. Not a bad scent at all, but not necessarily one that I want consistently from a cologne.
24th April, 2014 (last edited: 20th March, 2015)

Polo by Ralph Lauren

I have to give this a "thumbs up" for what it is--one of the truly original powerhouses. While I didn't wear this during the 80s, I could appreciate it on others. Then I went through a stage several years ago when I bought a bottle and wore it often. However, as much as I loved it, I finally was overwhelmed by the synthetic astringency of Polo (maybe it really has been reformulated). Others have referred to this as "smoke," which is apt, but I felt as though it had been cut with Clorox, and that it was a bit like splashing on bleach-water with alcohol. Still, I do love the pine and the sheer presence it has. But now I'm inclined to go with similar fougeres like Quorum, that also pack a punch, but don't leave me feeling like I'm living in a solvent factory.
19th April, 2014 (last edited: 21st April, 2014)

Boucheron pour Homme by Boucheron

I remain agnostic about this one. However, my main memory of this fragrance was an attendant at a perfume counter trying to tell me this was a better scent than Chanel Pour Monsieur, which she insisted was "for old men." (We disagreed). And although I think this does smell "professional," I also thought it smelled like an executive who unfortunately had just soaped-up in the hotel shower, when suddenly the water main broke and he couldn't rinse off. The soapy-detergenty scent was too much for me.

However, "de gustibus non est disputandum." And I'll leave it at that.
19th April, 2014

Quorum by Antonio Puig

Quorum is like a Dirty Martini. A fabulous cocktail, but not one perhaps to drink everyday, and one that's just a tad different each and every time. Some days I wear Quorum and I swear I'm wearing a less "dry" and less synthetic Polo Green. Other days, I smell to myself like I've just gotten off a long kitchen shift in an Asian restaurant. And other days I get both, with a big patchouli base. And yet mixed together, it still holds it all together and works for me. That, I think, is the genius of this fragrance. While it may not be as refined as some, it packs such a rich and fabulous masculine wallop that you can't help but grin and say, "just go with it." A great fougere in the classic sense. Thus, I raise my glass to Quorum.
19th April, 2014