Reviews by Black Mask

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    Black Mask
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    Sycomore (new) by Chanel

    Sycamore is the driest Chanel fragrance I have had the pleasure to smell, and it is among the driest complex fragrances I have encountered. Sycamore gives me the impression of an almost monolithic sandalwood crossed with vetiver in notes of extreme subtlety.

    Monolithic is important as a description for this exclusive and expensive fragrance. It is monolithic first, more so than its various expressions of subtlety. Although I smell the citrus hints, and perhaps very low key floral hints, this invention by one of my favorite perfume designers, Jacques Polge, never opens up and expresses itself beyond its initial dry, discreet, woody and grassy effusion. Also, this fragrance is not unreservedly beautiful to my taste. Antaeus, for example, never fails to please me greatly, and bring a smile to my lips (and my nose).

    Had I a choice, I would prefer to pay the same very high price for a pure sandalwood in all its creamy and dry but delicious purity: Forget the vetiver; forget the citrus; and forget whatever other subtle notes waft through,

    Chanel still has access to the finest classical and traditional Indian, Mysore, sandalwood on the planet. I am told they bought up sections of forests many decades ago. In any case, now more than ever before, what an opportunity for Chanel to bring out a fragrance for men and women that is an expression of sure, healing, and sacred sandalwood? Deep within the heart of Sycamore is the promise of the perfect Chanel Sandalwood fragrance. I prefer Antaeus in all its splendor to Sycamore. It is a richer recipe that is more perfectly beautiful to my mind and sense of smell.

    23rd April, 2013

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    Antaeus by Chanel

    I tried Antaeus for the first time today, and the first spray shocked me it was such a gorgeous smell. I was expecting something strong and interesting with some smells that I would have to learn to enjoy. And this first smell was uncompromising but it was also plain out delicious, a beautiful experience rich and woody and sweet with nothing I needed to learn to like. And it wasn't strange in anyway or unfamiliar. In fact at center of the woody walk in a romantic forest fragrances wafted a high sweet nostalgic note that tantalized me like the replay from the middle of a favorite, half remembered melody. The longer I held on to the fragrance which I had sprayed on the back of my hand, the more I needed to go back to smell it again.

    Jacques Polge, the favorite composer of Chanel's later classic compositions, including Antaeus, is a genius many have said. I originally accepted this conclusion because Chanel backed so many of Polge's creations it just had to be so. In fact the backbone of the last three decades of Chanel creativity is Polge's work: Chanel Allure in all its varied array, Chanel Beige, Chanel Chance, Chanel Cristalle, Chanel Coco (a favorite of mine), Chanel Coromandel (a favorite of Luca Turin), Chanel Egoiste, Chanel Gardenia, Chanel Sycamore ( a favorite of many Basenote fans), and so on even unto other houses more important works. Tiffany for Men comes to mind, a rich, luscious composition that I never could learn to love. Somehow that Rosewood note never became beatiful to me, but rather it remained always unattractive at center of an otherwise lovely fragrance.

    But here in Chanel's Antaeus, a name I never found attractive, Polge created something I immediately found calling to me. And if there was anything out of place in ths composition, it may have been that the mysterious central, nostalgic fragrance bordered on a mystery note too sweet for a refined, classic blend. But i have not used Anraieus enough to come to a final decision on that question. And my experience, and Chanel tradition indicates to me that Polge's choices will turn out to be quietly balanced, and approaching a kind of bouquet of perfection.

    I shall purchase a bottle of Antaeus, and try to learn its secrets, and report back in six months or a year from now with a report based on more experience.

    14th February, 2013

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    Guerlain Homme by Guerlain

    Guerlain Homme displays its fragrances as if from a distance. Each accord is played out in full vigor, and not suppressed or compressed as in some inferior fragrances which skimp on more expensive ingredients. But the result in Guerlain Homme is still a quieter, less exciting fragrance. No matter how masterful the blending of superior ingredients, and Guerlain Homme is beautifully constructed with quality materials, the reult here in this compositon by the new nose at Guerlain, Thierry Wasser, is not played out not at close up range so the magic, and sexiness, that ithe interplay of accords like the opening of mint and lime can be observed and experienced with full impact.

    But here in Guerlain Homme the first chord of mint and lime is bluured around the lime as if seen from the distance. And it should have been experienced as loud and as clear as in Guerlain's Derby mint opening, which is very different from Guerlain Homme's opening, but is played in Derby so that all its gusto is felt with clarity.

    The quiet floral touches in Guerlain Homme's heart notes reach up to the opening accord, and swiirl down over the drydown, notes. The drydown is not the full, round bottom accords for which Guerlain is famous. In Guerlain Homme the rich grassy notes of vetiver (but not Guerlain's unmistakable Vetiver accords familiar from their classic fragrance of that name) swirl through the rich woody cedar forest that stands tall in the distance. And over all is that white floral overlay from Guerlain Homme's heart that slurs on occasion, but never becomes sweet or cloying.

    Guerlain Homme is a pleasant, "modern" fragrance designed for the yougest segment of the market. The only explanation why such a moderately distinguished composition would be granted such a name of prominance, Guerlain Homme, which implies it represents of all the men's fragrances, is to make sure it will be tested by those youngest cologne buyers whose least mature tastes accont for such large profits in the perfume industry.

    These are buyers who mostly never heard of Habit Rouge, and who would stay away from something as pronounced and assertive as Derby. This is the very large audience so taken with aqua accords of Cool Water, and Azzaro Chroms. Young men who also have been sold on "green" and "sport" fragrances, which tend to be minimal and queit versions of their original counterpoarts.

    Although Guerlain Homme does not have any obvoiusly broad, synthetic accords, nor is it a green aqua fragrance, in its toned down dynamic range it makes all accords inoffensive so it can charm a younger audience. This crowd seems to respond to cool, romantic attitudes in cologne advertising, often mixed with a more raw unkempt primitivism. But this promotioal posturing is almost uniformally designed to sell light, wispy perfume compositions.

    Although Guerlain Homme is a bit thin and quiet in the presentation of its accords, the whispy fragrance is charming enough as it lingers on the skin to attract the more mature, experienced segment of the market who feel like something that hardly projects at all, but does have a touch of magic in its soul.

    02nd May, 2011

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    Opus I by Amouage

    A rich, opulant fragrance on the grand scale, Opus I presents an opening accord that is sensual with flowers and some fruit. Although the striking smell is sweet, it is a subtle floral sweetness kind of sweetness that is more complex than cloying. There are complementary herbal flavors that rise and fall as the dry down turns over.

    I am intrigued by the delicious opening accord, which never varies as long as the fragrance radiates. I would not want to wear this in public, but I do enjoy it on the back of my hand, readily avaialable for a quick intake. Redolent of the highest luxury, this is a rare fragrance that few real people can carry. An accord for legends. Thumbs up, but I do not know anyone who should wear this creation.

    30th April, 2011

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    Alliage by Estée Lauder

    In 1972 I received a packet of mail to tenants who had rented a small house before me. In one of the mass market magazines was a full page (or two page) ad for Alliage. It was just introduced, and there was a scratch and sniff attachment. I still remember the vivid green fragrance that wafted from that magazine, and my memory is a pleasant one.

    That is a powerful recommendation for this perfume. I smelled the fragrance from bottles later that year on my skin and on paper. It was the first time I ever smelled a natural, dry, realistic green fragrance. It is the best natural green fragrance I have yet smelled.

    At that time I favored Yves Saint Laurent men's clothing, and Zmy fragrance was Yves Saint Laurent Pour Homme, which I wore exclusively until I discovered Tuscany (another Estee Lauder fragrance) and then Tuscany Forte.

    I never experiemented with Alliage as a man's fragrance, It was too vivid for me then. And I was not as taken with Devin as I was with Tuscany, so I imagine that it is not green notes that so intrigued me, but Alliage's green notes.

    I must point out, however, that when I chose a gragrance for my gir friend at the time, later my first wife, it was not Alliage, but L'Heure Bleu.

    Today for myself, I still like Guerlain fragrances, Heritage and Habit Rouge. I also wear and love Kolnisch Juchtern, and I enjoy Elsha 1776 (which is one of the great bargains currently available for men). The greenest I get is the basso root notes of Guerlain Vetiver, but I think I could go for a men's fragrance that used the dry green of Alliage if it were mixed by a master. And to be truthful, I must admit that I recently discovered I like the smell of Irish Spring Sopeed Stick Deodorant, for a deodorant.

    The only other fragrance that ever had the same impact on my memory as Alliage was Knize Ten, which i woud wear much of the time, if it were more easily accessible. And if I had not become enamoured so of Kolnisch Juchten by Regence.

    02nd April, 2011

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    1776 Russian Leather by Elsha

    This is one of my standby fragrances. It is a very comfortable and friendly leather of unexpected distinction that opens with a cinnamon and birch tar top that stays along for the dry down. The fragrance has pleasant, warm and ambery emanations once it opens up and develops. The birch remains but mixes with leathery musk. Always light for a leather, and smooth, it is persistent while it stays close to the skin. Part of its enduring charm is that an 8 oz splash bottle can be acquired for about $42 delivered from Sampters Mens Store: http://www.sampters.com/detail.php?item=91&categoryid=1

    This is cheaper than buying directly from th Elsha site.

    Sampters also carries the 4 oz bottle for half the price. And an after shave which I never bothered to try. Why buy any other variation that 8 oz in a substantial splash bottle that is pleasant to use at $42 delivered? One of the best buys in perfumery. This is not a cheap scent like so many small clothing store fragrances. Sampters also carries Lenel, and a number of other inexpensive fragrances of limited local men's store distribution.

    Elsha 1776 is a flask of a different matter. It has been around for decades. It is very good, and an even better buy. Get some.

    01st April, 2011

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    Chancellor by Tru Fragrance

    A very loud, persistent, one note fragrance that is like a crude, high pitched squeak of Cool Water. There is no variety or movement, no top, heart or bottom, and nothing going on but this one aqua screech.

    Chancellor has all the subtlety and sophistication of a blinding headache. However, its blaring smell is reminiscent of lighter, much more delicate fragrances that use a refined variation of this water/sport smell, and so the unitiated might be attracted to this on first try. Beware.

    In short, it could have been pleasant if it didn't reek.

    01st April, 2011

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    Tam Dao by Diptyque

    Tam Dao has a very pleasant cedar note that is at its center. I do not smell sandalwood. In particular, I do not smell the sandalwood I know from fine sandalwood boxes, and incense made in India.

    I do smella nice cedar note in Tam Dao, but very unfortunately it is is obstructed by a volatile oil the smell of which settles closest to anise. If you apply too much Tam Dao, Tam Dao is very unforgiving, and volatile, spikey distillate smells of anise will waft from off your skin. I do not like the odor of this volatile substance. It does impart a kind of volatile woody oil haze around the cedar, and I imagine this is what members who like this fragrance respond to when they say sadnalwood.

    Sandalwood, either Indian or Australian (Santalum album or Santalum spicatum) is a compellig, gentle fragrance which is woody smooth, not volatile or spikey in nature at all.

    Unlike fine sandalwood, Tam Dao is sharp at its heart. It smells of wood oils more coniferous, and agitated than the gentle, calm sandalwood oil of ancient spiritual renown.

    Tam Dao does smell of wood. But in addition to this central petroleum like note, this fragrance does not develop or radiate waves of interesting combinations at all. It is a strong, rather flatfooted blast of wood smell. For thos who enjoy its notes of cedar and anise petrolate, it is long lasting and persistent.

    I do not consider Tam Dao an example of the perfumer's art. That so many people believe it represents one f the better sandalwoods, indicates to me that people are no longer familiar with fine sandalwood that was common 35 to 40 years ago, and that Dyptique's marketing, and high end and very expensive distribution and pricing have convinced many folks that this must be it in sandalwood.

    They are wrong. Elizabeth Arden makes an inexpensive "sadalwood" that smels no more of sandalwood than Tam Dao, but smells OK for the money. Dirt cheap online. Caswell Massey, which used to brag about its sandalwood products with some small measure of truth, still does brag, but with no measure of truth.

    Fact is that sandalwood is endagered, and few houses are using it pure for a primary note fragrance. I wish I could find one. A creamy, sacred, ritual Hindu or Buddhist sandalwood. So far I have only tried a few contemporary fragrances that claim to be sandalwood. Tam Dao is the most expensive. In my opinion it is a strong woody smell, but not sandalwood. And not a refined fragrance. I cannot afford to experiemnt further.

    If anyone knows where true sandalwood resides in the heart of a master fragrance, please let me know.

    31st March, 2011 (Last Edited: 03rd April, 2011)

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    No. 5 by Chanel

    Chanel # 5 is vivid and bright like a light filled canvas by painted by both Van Goph and Matisse. Even its shadows shimmer with the intensity of aldehyde spiral glows but its over all impact is the serenely elegant design of timeless florals that transcend florals or anything else fo earth and nature into a glowing radiance. This is perfumery beyond abstraction. This is perfumery as effanescent radiance.

    Every other one of the 139 reviews posted up to today begin with "I remember my mother wore Chanel # 5." Chanel # 5 transcends reviews, or fashion. It is the most popular perfume of all time. Its appeal is as close to universal as a thing of the real world can be. It is not favored by country, social class, or even gender. It is not really a feminine floral composition. It is not sweet. There are myriad masculines sweeter than # 5. I am a man, and if it were not so perfect and seamless, I would wear it myself. I am thinking I wil layer it with, perhaps Gurrlain Vetiver, or maybe a smokey Kolnisch Juchten in order to tone down its brilliant radiance.

    What I require is a master perfumer to design in some flaws, imperfections, a ragged edge or to so that I could wear it without embarassment to my self, and self image.

    My mother also wore it for most of her life. For women it is both an idealization of what few but a woman who projects like Catherine Deneuve can wear without a kind of dishoesty of projection, and mysteriously, at the same time it can be worn by all the imperfect ladies of the world, for casual as well as formal occasions, and these women will be more assured and comfortable in themselves for wearing it.

    In its unitary simplicity, and perfection is its mystery.

    As a EDT it is at its most bright and sparkling. As a EDP Chanel # 5 is more relaxed, and opens more slowly and with more depth but with less definition. The new Eau Premiere is the vaguest incarnation (designed perhaps for the most immature but most "post modern" purchasers in some strange target group). Of course, the Parfum Extrait should be the most perfect, unrestrained presentation fo the creation, and it is.

    Why Chanel has not taken the recipe and stripped it down with a blemish or two for presentation as a masculin is beyond me.

    In any case, Chanel # 5 is beyond arguing, or reviewing, really. It is in a class alone. It knows no category. It has no competitors. There is really nothing similar. And nothing to complain about. That is sell so well year after decade with such consistency riddles all analysis.

    Did I mention my mother wore it? If it did not stand so alone, I would suggest that it is the mother of all modern perfumes. However like many perfect examples rare in nature, I do not think # 5 passed on its perfection to any heirs. We are lucky that it appears to be immortal.

    14th March, 2011

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    Marc Jacobs for Men by Marc Jacobs

    A charming, intimate, low key fragrance that gently raises the spirits with a warm and gentle accord. I think this cologne is misunderstood because fragrances that rely on the fig are suddenly of interest. Reviewers try to decide if the fig essence is of a dark fig, or of a green fig, or of fig leaves, or does it include fig branches. Luc a Turin turned up his nose at this recipe because he decided it was too weak a fig, and not up to other fig fragrances.

    When I first smelled this I was reminded of a very soft and beckoning cedar oil offered at one of the fleeting boutiques that come and go at Bloomingdales in New York City. This was in the summer of 1973. You could buy individual oils and essences and some fixative and blend your own fragrances at the booth. I loved the straight cedar oil they had then. It was very light but evocative and lingered in the mind like a sweet memory.

    Marc Jacobs for Men does not smell very much like figs to me. Nor does it smell of cedar. It does smell quite a bit like this essential oil of cedar once sold as a fragrance ingredient so long ago. It is quiet. It is in a good mood. It beckens. I like to smell it.

    The cologne stays gently on my skin, and dries down to a warm and comfortable smooth wood basenote. There is not complex development, but this is not a simple minded splash, either. Quiet, optimistic, charming, and sophisticated in a less is more confidence.

    14th February, 2011

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    Maja by Myrurgia

    Perfumer Antonio Puig of the great Spanish firm of Puig Fragrances now controls Myrurgia the greatest Spanish fragrance house. Maya is a classic Spanish scent which was composed in 1921. It is spicy, deep, floral, and more intense than French styled composition. As a teenager at the beginning of the 1960's I was intrigued by the Spanish opulance of Myrurgia advertisements and smapled their wares in department store. I only remember Maya which smelled exotic and complex.

    This review is about the Maya soap. It is available in nicely packaged cakes and also in a handsome round and black container which looks much more interesting and formal than any other readily available liguid soap. Maya in liguid soap is a white liguid approaching an olive oil lotion. It is very fragrant and opulent and spicy and floral. It is a bit sharp in opening but not harsh. It works very nicely as a soap and though it seems to condition, it leaves no residue.

    Maya soap imparts a lasting fragrance. If you use enough in concentration with your water, it lingers on the face and hands very close in strength to an after shave of some depth.

    It is a dark and spicy floral but it is not inappropriate for men. It is a svent that conveys beauty and strength. May reminds me of Paloma Picasso's signature scent in its deep and dark floral and spicy design. They do not smell alike but they are alike.

    Best of all, Maya liguid soap in a perfectly designed and very handsome black container can be purchased at K Mart for about $4.00. You will either love the scent or find it too strong and dislike it.

    Maya may be inexpensive but Antonio Puig and his company have managed to continue the Mrurgia tradition of complex fragrances in the rich Spanish tradition.

    14th September, 2010

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    Obsession for Men by Calvin Klein

    Obsession is an indiscreet Amber scent with some spice notes struggling to emerge. Although there are hints of musk and patchouli, the aggressive and lingering sweet amber is strong and unchanging. It does subdue pleasantly in drydown.

    The recipe is not complex enough to describe as an Oriental, but its dry down is cozy and tasty, literally tasty, reminsiscent of sweets or pastry. But like everything else that tries to reveal itself in this fragrance, even the edible notes are overpowered by the ever present amber. And this is not a subtle or complex amber. I think the scent is too unsophisticated for an older man to wear out.

    I use my spray as a room freshener. In very small doses I find the aura of Obsession for Men soothing and pleasant. Apply it very sparingly. Do not use it as a cologne but as a touch of spice.

    07th July, 2010

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    Chanel Pour Monsieur by Chanel

    Chanel's Pour Monsieur as currently formulated (2010) is the subtle younger brother to Tiffany for Men. Chanel's PM has considerably less sillage, and never strays far from the skin. Unlike Tiffany, which never moves quickly or far from its foundational accord, CPM opens with an elegant citrus alert which quickly subsides to release a warm array of subdued spicy notes over a mid range and bottom accord that smells almost identical at a much lower volume to Tiffany for Men.

    Both fragrances are elegant, and finely made under the masterful care of Jacques Polges. Both fragrances are perfectly polite, but Tiffany can become aggressive if too much is applied. CPM, which is more agile but fainter, probably cannot be over applied, and it does lingers quietly with very intimate sillage.

    If CPM were more powerful I would prefer it. Though I wish it spoke more loudly, others praise it for being so discreet. Elegant, and friendly. A rare combination.

    I give CPM my highest recommendation, but I do not wear this fragrance. I am not enamored of its basenote resonance or the way it dries down without evolution as if fading on the wind. I prefer the dry down and basenotes of other perfumers, for example most of Guerlain, and especially Knize Ten, Kolnisch Juchten, and Elsha 1776. The fact that these other fragrances may have nothing in common with Chanel Pour Monsieur in fragrance catefgory, or head and heart notes is irrelelvant. If you do not enjoy the final, lingering smell of your fragrance, there is little sense in wearing it.

    But I recognize the artistry, and discreet elegance of this creation, and know it ight be the avid favorite of other lovers of fine fragrance.

    23rd January, 2010 (Last Edited: 12th April, 2011)

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    Infusion d'Homme by Prada

    UPDATE: I would like to add this observation to my original review: Prada's Infusion d'Homme is the best fragrance I have ever found to use as an adjunct to Sandalwood Colognes. Because fine sandalwood trees from India are in very short supply, many sandalwood based fragrances are suffering from some type of emergency re-formulation. Prada's Infusion d'Homme is a very high quality Iris cologne which works wonders on all scents which depend on sandalwood. It does astonishingly good things to Caswell Massey's relatively undistinguished Sandalwood Cologne. Prada's Infusion also elevates Arden for Men's heavily lavender & rough sandalwood concoction, sweetening and enriching that cologne's nature in mysterious ways.

    My original review from December 2009 remains unchanged:

    A very soft, floral, orris root fragrance that reveals as an unusual and subtle sandalwood over its dry down. This is a gentle scent that requires patience to come to appreciate.

    It seems more an after shower fragrance to enjoy by yourself than a social fragrance to signal others, at least in most social circumstances. It does not project. It is most interesting after it has begun to dry down close to the skin.

    It is a fragrance for very intimate moments with another person whose face comes close to your skin.

    The iris root note is gentle, quiet, not abrasively cool, and registers as a complex but very low volume sandalwood chord with floral over tones.

    I find that Prada's Infusion d'Homme lasts much longer than more traditional eau de colognes like those citrus and orange classics offered by Hermes. In some ways this "Infusion" is a completely different take on an evanescent, close to the skin, toilet water that is not designed to project, at least not very far.

    Given the right complimentary fragrances, I think this would be an interesting scent to layer with other colognes, particularly those that have abrasive, or rough edges, or rather uncomplicated or simple natures.

    I understand why some reviewers dismiss this creation. Except for the subtlety of its complexity, it first impresses as a subdued, minimalist scent. If it is "soapy" it is soapy in the same clean afterglow that Mugler Cologne is soapy. I use both of these fragrances as after shower splashes; not necessarily together, but that works, too.

    There are myriad crisp, citrus, and vetiver grass toilet water splashes available for men. Prada has invented a soft, wood toned floral toilet water splash for men who enjoy something more complex, subdued, and subtle. Infusion d'Homme is a pleasant, quiet alternative to traditional eau de toilets. If you are not seeking to attract a new lover, this is a new fragrance that in intimate moments your old lover will find attractive.

    Read more: http://www.basenotes.net/ID26128675/reviews.html#ixzz0yf6SisZn

    To my nose orris and sandalwood share certain blossom and wood reverberrations, and the Prada Infusion is made of quality ingredients which add luster to more mudane recipes. Prade Infusion d'Homme is lovely to layer with almost any fragrance, but it is magical with sandalwoods of any qualiry.

    13th December, 2009 (Last Edited: 05th September, 2010)

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    Knize Forest by Knize

    Knize Forest is a spicy fougère which increases in warmth as it dries down, but never loses its herbaceous identity. At its core is a not too sweet fruit note I cannot place which creates a kind of delicious tension as if it were a memory one cannot quite retrieve. In its complexity this fragrance has some subdued echoes of Knize's signature leather notes.

    To me it is a misnomer to characterize this as a "green" fragrance, or as a "forest" fragrance, if it is the green forest of trees one imagines. If this creation is inspired by forests, it must be Hobbit forests close to the ground where mosses and an array of exotic but soothing herbes grow among the grasses. When I think of a green fragrance, I think of Alliage by Estee Lauder, a fragrance I have not smelled since 1972 when it first came out, but that I still remember as impressing me with the vision of all things green.

    Knize Forest is a creation set on a smaller scale than Knize Ten. It is not as flamboyant or active in its mutations over time. Forest is almost like a miniature Oriental, a Trio Concerto Oriental played on a Hobbit green near the forest down where the mosses grow, Unlike Knize Ten, there is nothing symphonic about this interesting and comfortable work.

    Knize Forest is not available in the United States, and to my knowledged has never been officially distributed in the states. Knize Ten is available in the United States but currently has no distributor so sources who hold old stock must be found. I recieved my small bottle from a very pleasant basenoter, mi-hooked? and wish to thank him again. Here are the ingredients listed on my Knize Forest box:

    Limonene, Linalool, Benzyl Benzoate, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Evernia Furfuracea (Treemoss) Extract, Citral, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Eugenol, Hydroxycitronelal, Coumarin, Citronellol, Geraniol, Benzyl Cinnamate.

    Sillage is excellent, but more discrete than Knize Ten. The fragrance lasts long, but settles down to a warm,spicy halo around the body. Knize Forest does not smell like any other fragrance I have encountered. This is a superlative scent to layer with more linear creations to add a spicy zest, and some quiet, warm complexity.

    13th December, 2009

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    Essenza di Zegna by Ermenegildo Zegna

    Every statement I made in my original review remains the same, but I have revised my rating for Essenza di Zegna to a Thumbs Up. The quiet power, and unique flavor of this fragrance remains with me over the 15 months I have not used this creation. In that time I have tried many acclaimed fragrances, and my experience has proven to me that for my personal tastes, and not as a universal recommendation, this fragrance suits me very well. On my skin, Essenza di Zegna is distinctly unique, assured, refined, elegant, and subdued in a most alluring combination.

    My original review from November 2009:

    Essenza di Zegna is a refined and quiet fragrance with an evocative note that presents as comfortable, familiar, but indefinable. To me this pleasant creation does not echo any other cologne. It has one great advantage over many similarly restrained but unique fragrances: it can be found online at shockingly inexpensive prices. I wore this fragrance as my primary cologne for more than a year, switching to Angel Men when I felt more outgoing, or aggressive.

    Like many fragrances which project refinement and strength, this Zegna is not completely beautiful in its initial impression. And its lasting quality is more of quet depth, and interest, than excitement or delight. Angel is exciting and delightful, but a bit bright; I am not sure I would want to shower daily in Angel soap.

    Essenza di Zegna milled soap is a wonderful, rich, and fine smelling product which lasts for ages and keeps on giving uniformly fine scent until the very last. Sillage for the cologne is polite but firm, and the scent lasts well close to the skin.

    Everyone will not appreciate this creation's primary accord, and some may feel the total experience is too subdued. And may not be complex enough for the practiced. Others will smell the richness. This idiosyncratic scent releases a pleasant depth of accords that come gently through.

    27th November, 2009 (Last Edited: 19th February, 2010)

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    Eau d'Orange Verte by Hermès

    Hermes Eau d'Orange Verte opens with an opulent and astringent BlAST of green, slightly bitter and truly sour, orange. At first I did not like the sour tang because I expected a sweeter, more sedate orange. But now I cannot wait to finish shaving (with Cremo Cream, a traditional orange fragrance shaving cream) and get that arresting and delicious blast of tangy orange in the morning.

    Perhaps my bottle of the cologne needed to breathe before it delivered the full ration of all fragrances in its composition. Perhaps I just had to become accustomed to the bitter blend. In any case, I now find that delcious slap to the senses a delightful mood elevator that makes me come to focus and to attention.

    A Warning: Despite its impressive opening, this is a short acting fragrance with little lasting power, as is typical of all true citrus eau d'colognes. Following the tangy orange experience the cologne quickly settles close to the skin with light florals.

    A pleasant citrus and mossy touch of floral air shadows the skin for a longer time than it appears to the wearer of the scent. In intimate moments with another person, they will either smell the echo of the fragrance, or it will sneak in just at conscious level.

    I find that Mugler Cologne, another apparently short lasting "eau" blends well with Hermes Eau D'Orange Verte, especially after the Verte has dried down close to the skin. Both these evanescent concoctions last longer on me than most others report, but I believe that is because the wearer cannot smell these fragrances as well as an intimate companion.

    Many people will find Hermes Eau D'Orange Verte the most delightful citrus cologne they have experienced. It is a unique, invigorating, and fleeting experience. But it is also great fun, and a superior scent.

    I know of no other fragrance that offers a similar opening crescendo of scent that fades so gracefully, like a diminishing chord after beautiful bells are rung.

    13th November, 2009

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    Absinthe by Slatkin

    I can only speak to Slatkin's Black Fig and Absinthe as it appears in a bath soak, but I give that product my highest review. A small amount of the clear, thick liguid produces an abundance of very pleasant long lasting froth and bubbles. The fragrance is rich, warm. not sweet, not floral, deep, stimulating, memorable, and long lasting as it fills the tub and room in which you bathe. The scent lingers close to the body after the bath. I would describe this as a male scent only because it is so different from all the citrus, aqua fragrances we are sold a "unisexual." My wife likes it, and I believe women would wear it nicely in a cologne. There are no notes I do not like, and this fragrance does not need to introduce an agressive scent in order to dry down into a pleasing, rich offshoot of a scent I did not like at the top--something I find many fine creations depend on for their complex result. I would not call this a linear scent, nor is it very complex, but it is very rich and deep, and quite interesting enough just as ii is. If I found it in some variation in a cologne, I would buy it if it smelled close to this bath product. A very appealing and high quality creation.

    26th September, 2009

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    YSL pour Homme by Yves Saint Laurent

    During the 1970's this was the only fragrance I wore. I found its citrus opening and delicate grass and garden mid range very refined. Its warm dry down always remains complex and interesting. This is a comfortable fragrance that lasts nicely, but always stays close to the skin. It never speaks loudly, but subtly makes its impression in a assured manner. It creats a pleasant and elegant and quiet impression in the best of taste. I found it more difficult to find in department stores as new fragrances were released in the 1980's. YSL Pour Homme never lost its appeal for me, and I occasionally still buy it when I find it. In the 1980's I turned to Tuscany, a more linear fragrance, but one i found very beautiful, crisp but warm, and dry. Its dry warmth appealed to me. It is direct, simple, but elegantly pleasing to me. Tuscany Forte was less crisp but even more beautifully rich. I enjoyed both variations and I am sorry the darker, deeper Forte was cancelled. I never find YSL Pour Homme widely available or widely discounted, but now Tuscany can be purchaed online at many discount outlets for as little as $19 for 3.4 oz. I consider this one of the best bargains in men's fragrances. Although very different fragrances, Pour Homme and Tuscany each spent a decade as my only cologne.

    Now I favor Knize Ten----which is so much more a complex, ever-changing, and grand sensual experience that it is not appropriate to compare it to Pour Homme or to Tuscany, which are both fine scents, but in comparison, merely minor aesthetic experiences. Knize Ten is more than a fragrance. It engages many of the senses, the memory, and the imagination in a way only the finest sensory creations can. There should be a phrase and an accepted category for fragrances that reach this level of evocative art.

    19th September, 2009

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    Tiffany for Men by Tiffany


    Tiffany For Men is an assured, complex fragrance that is not immediately accessible. I find an unfamiliar, pungent note in the opening that is a bit aggressive for my taste (I'm told this is rosewood), but as its acerbic urgency dries down this accord gives a unique strength to the total experience of the fragrance.

    On first impression this is not an immediately beautiful fragrance. Nor is it an immediately comforting fragrance, But it is provides an extraordinarily deep, ever changing, subtle, long lasting, fascinating, and potent experience. It delivers this experience with cultured restraint.

    As the top notes dry down, and the total opening aura settles, a rich oriental tapestry unfolds with a full but quiet, warm and woodsy bottom. This is a very smooth, ever evolving fragrance that leaves an attractive, full wake and that lasts many hours.

    The highest compliment I can give this creation is that unlike many attractive scents: The man who wears this fragrance will define it's character to the world as much or more than this scent will define the man who wears it.

    PURCHASING: I find that the least expensive, and by far the most fun and most elegant way to buy Tiffany For Men is directly from Tiffany. Most ebay and Amazon offerings are much more expensive (especially if you buy less than a 3.4 oz bottle), and even with shipping Tiffany is less expensive.

    DO NOT WASTE TIME checking out the normal discount perfume sources: even if they promise Tiffany For Men in search engine results, they all are "out of stock." MY ADVICE IS TO GO DIRECTLY TO TIFFANY.

    18th September, 2009 (Last Edited: 13th November, 2009)

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