'Black (and) spices' might be the translation--not 'black spices' because the adjective is supposed to come after the noun in French. Anyway, this fragrance has lots of oddities beyond the name. I found the orange and sweet flashes of the opening very fleeting. The geranium managed to hold on and add a tiny bit of herbal freshness to balance the dark angularity of the base. The woods and spice used here have nothing to do with anything incense-y. The base is like an old wooden box--maybe a cigar box--that has been stored in a dry attic or maybe an Egyptian pyramid. When you open the box, you get only the very basso base notes of wood. It is a dark scent that reminds me of Domenico Caraceni 1913--another very dark rose, although Noir Epices is much smoother. It is a very unique note that has nothing 'perfumey' about it. As the blurb puts it 'its sensuality is elegant, never lascivious.' The very dark rosy and woody hum is brightened by the geranium and pepper. I got something kind of minty about it from time to time, although such a note is not listed. An analogous visual effect might be, say, a very powerful or spiritual person, very serious, wearing heavy, sombre earth toned clothing, but also wearing just a small swatch of sparkly netting or something else bright and a bit ephemeral. This dichotomy eases as as the base smoothes out, and the sparkly upper layer settles down to blend with the base in a more relaxed and balmy tone. This is unlike anything I have ever smelled before--quite a creative accomplishment. Not for everyone--get a sample first! For me, it was a completely new concept of fragrance. Groundbreaking. Super masculine, I would say. A woman who could rock this would be a very special person indeed.
I first bought a mini of this (dabber), and was not particularly impressed, so I gave away the mini. Then, I saw a 50ml bottle in a recycle shop. I picked it up, remembering that it seems to be on the verge of discontinuation. (Some e-bayers are asking ridiculous prices.) But anyway, I was able to try it as a spray, and it is much better. I get the cola/grape thing at the beginning, but that certainly does not last; that will not be part of your sillage. The main act seems heavy on the iris, to me. I haven't seen other reviewers mention this. It has a bit of the lipstick vibe of Dior Homme. It also has the naughty rubber clothing slipped on with baby powder that is the main impression of Tom of Finland. For some, this seems to be suede or sweet leather, but for me it is very strong iris. Yes, the bottle is purple, but for me the vibe seems pink. Maybe not the most masculine of scents... It has a bit of the rubber vanilla of Bulgari Black. I tried three sprays on the torso before putting on my t-shirt. Then, I went to a rehearsal where scent-sensitive/allergic people were part of the group, but no one complained. It is an unusual scent that many Japanese might not associate with personal fragrance. It was not strong, but enough to keep wafting to my nose from the neck of my shirt. When I got home in the evening, I did another two sprays on my arm to get a more direct impression. This boosted the sillage/projection factor greatly, so the wearability factor is enhanced by being able to control the amount of sillage--I think this one might be pumped up to clubbing levels if desired. The next morning, the rubber/leather note was still there faintly, with the very late base of vanilla/amber a bit more noticeable. I definitely got my money's worth at the cheap price I paid. But I wouldn't want to pay some of the prices I saw on ebay.
I recently re-tried this one. I had a full bottle in the old days, but I think I just wore it without paying attention, or maybe I threw it away. My impression back then was sharp soapiness, harsh green, and in the worst case, a dirty ashtray. No citrus, no honey, no lavender, just dark and harsh. One problem is over-application, and wet-spot application. Recently I have been doing more of a walk-through application. So I tried it with PR. This worked a lot better, and the opening was much more varied than I remembered. However, a certain funkiness began to develop on my skin. I suspect it may be the honey. Something similar happened with a test of Antaeus. Next, I tried a very light spray on paper. Then, the citrus and florals finally came out, with barbershop humming underneath. So, for some people this will work with the right application method (light). For me, I can appreciate it on paper, but it doesn't work on my skin.
This is a scent that you need to be careful applying. I got a bottle as a castoff, before I knew about BN. My usual application was wet-spot--this makes EdI very cloying, so I thought I didn't like it. Then when I heard about more 'airy' application methods, I found it works very well for EdI, and now I like it! The Japanese yuzu is very distinctive. If you go to a Japanese restaurant, see if you can order something with yuzu, or ask if you can just take a whiff. Using it in a fragrance is a master stroke, and makes it very Japanese. This is really my go-to for hot weather, but enjoyable at other times as well. The dry down brings out the tobacco and vetiver--ahhh!
First impression: two separate components--an old-fashioned eau base, with an amber, flowery unit alongside.
Second impression: soapy note very strong
Current impression: Wonderful! Soapy note no longer dominates. Dry down brings very light flowery lilac purple sophisticated European soft starchy linen fantastic fragrance. I ended up buying a full bottle and loving it.
Yes, I agree that a light touch is best for this one. That downplays the soapy note and brings out the purple necco wafers and candied violets. Seems very classy for the price.
06th September, 2010 (last edited: 13th April, 2011)
I just tried another spray of this at a department store--that means that it was the current EDT. The first time I tried Heritage, I had trouble distinguishing it from Habit Rouge. Now the difference is very clear--HR is a lot more like lemon drops, and also has a more animalic undertone. Heritage is the kind of Guerlain that just lifts your mood. Today, it reminded me a lot of l'Instant pour Homme Extreme, although without the clear cocoa note. Maybe I need some more work to distinguish these two--my next task. But Heritage is a very gentlemanly refined fragrance with depth and development. The lush Guerlinade began to display a cinnamon/nutmeg note as it dried down. Six hours later, a warm vanilla still remains on my skin. Wow.
I bought this one blind--it was a mistake. My first impression was pretty classy--I guess the top notes are good. As it began to dry down, I began to get a funky note that I also noticed in Xeryus Rouge. In the case of XR, I wondered if it was the cactus note that I didn't like. LHS has a similar funkiness. It is faintly sweet, but also kind of moldy or something. Difficult to describe, but it makes it unwearable. I have also noticed this same annoying note in Burberry London. (Maybe it's just my nose, I don't know.)
I agree with another reviewer, who said it is reminiscent of Allure. I think having this has shown me something about Allure--its development is much more interesting. I don't get the connection with Boss Bottled at all--VL seems much drier. But I appreciate the effort to produce something a bit higher in quality at drugstore prices.
I have been reconsidering this one recently. I bought it blind from in-flight duty free when it was still fairly new. I usually used a pretty wet-spot concentrated application in those days, and I never got past the rather bitter opening. At the end of the day, it was just cloying. None of the sweeter vanillic or tonka notes could come through. Recently I have been doing more walk-through-the-mist applications. This really allowed the interesting mid and base notes to come through. I think the target market for this is not young clubbers. Allure is trying to project a sophisticated-- maybe European-- image. It is certainly distinctive. I think it is useful when I need something distinctive but not overpowering or offensive, like when I go to a classical music concert. I can see how lovers of Antaeus would be disappointed, but the concept here is quite different. I think it is well-done, and very interesting if applied properly.
I got the original one when it first came out--a vanilla bomb, very exotic in those days. When I got a mini of the current version, I was very disappointed. However, I recently transferred the mini (a dabber) to an atomizer, and it made a huge difference. It is quite unique, very exotic--I understand why some might feel it is 'old man.' But I like it--it is exotic, oriental (maybe even in the non-fragrance use of the word, perceived as derogatory by Edward Said). I can imagine a middle-aged woman trying to pose as a gypsy fortune teller using this--that sounds negative, but I somehow I like this--maybe it is a caricature of exoticism. Anyway, I still miss the original, but this has become much more interesting to me now that I have it in a spray.
02nd July, 2010 (last edited: 22nd May, 2012)
I bought the Vanilla Fantasy Fragrance Moisturizing Lotion after trying the spray in a shop. I thought I would try the lotion first, but now I think I don't need the spray. The lotion has a very long-lasting fragrance. It seems to be a solo vanilla to my nose. If my memory is correct, this is the way my mother's baking 'vanilla extract' used to smell. Was it a true extract in those days? I suppose even the baking products are synthetic now.
After my second experiment with Hammam Bouquet, I feel it is a true classic, a landmark. When I first tried it, I had just been using and testing a lot of Guerlains. But HB is such a completely different concept, my nose could not get the floral notes out of the dark slate. The gray notes seemed to soak up the florals like dry slate would soak up any water splashed on it on a hot day. So all I got was a kind of skanky heat. Later, the rose began to come through, creating a very Victorian old-fashioned effect. Today, I got more floral notes at the opening, along with some whiskey. This time, the floral drydown was even richer, but still a far cry from the super-sweet Guerlinade I am used to. I find HB is even more mellow on clothing than on my skin. More of the fresh rose comes out, while on my skin it is more like rose potpourri. Just in the space of a few hours, HB has given me several moods that all go well with the mental image of hammam/harem, along with lots of oriental exoticism. Also, it seems pretty unisex, although for me, it also has a strong image of a proper gentleman--this might not work so well with jeans and sandals.
This is a very unique scent--(in my limited experience) I have never smelled any frag like this. It could be considered the anti-perfume. My fragrance experience up to now has been with Japanese (combustible) incense, as well as sandalwood essential oil, etc. FeA gets strongly into this area. Sandalwood oil has a kind of pungent, penetrating quality which starts coming off FeA very quickly. In the mid-term, I get the dried fruits, maybe some vanilla/amber/benzoin notes along with it but these do not last very long. Prunes, smoky peat-flavored scotch, a bit of pipe tobacco, all kind of dark and bitter to me. Even the sweetness of the fruits is tempered by the dark tone. Out of this rises the rich pungency of the incense and wood notes. These last a long time. On a paper strip, the oil notes were still pungent the next day. (It doesn't seem to last quite that long on my skin.) I haven't worn it in a social situation yet, but the sillage seems to be on the soft side. That is, the frag is noticeable, but it might not be interpreted as a frag--someone might look around for a pile of burning leaves or to see if someone left open the drawer of an old wooden desk. In that sense, the sillage seems subtle, which could be very positive in Japan. But I wonder how it would stand up in a crowd with a number of stronger frags around.
This is not a frag that you wear and just enjoy. The effect is so different, it keeps commanding your attention, forcing you to check on it and see what is going on. In that sense, I think it is really revolutionary. I can't imagine a shower gel made of this. Some people might be turned off because it doesn't fulfill the usual role of a frag, but to me it is very interesting.
21st November, 2009 (last edited: 02nd February, 2010)