Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Shifty Bat

Total Reviews: 598

Rock 'n Rose Pret a Porter by Valentino

I'm not entirely sure why this flanker exists, as it is incredibly similar to the original. What has changed is the presence of black currant now equals that of the starring rose, and the overall body feels more creamy instead of sharp. This interpretation of RnR really scratched at my brain for a while until I finally recognized what it smelled like - Halston's Halston Couture, minus the sunflower. It does hearken back to the early to mid-nineties stylistically, with its brave attempt at pairing juicy odd fruit notes with white florals. I can't say I like this any more or less than the original, but it lacks (according to my Lady) the 'Play-doh' vibe of the first one, so that can only bode well. So, if you like the idea of a big currant-orange-blossom-rose with a syrupy feel and a hint of vanilla, like Victoria's Secret suddenly had a better budget, you can still find this juice on the cheap.

As an aside, I received this by mistake, as I had planned to order another bottle of Rock N Rose, but the vendor apparently couldn't tell the difference between them. Pret-a-Porter looks much the same, but has a pink cap and a hanging tag, while the original boasts a black cap. The bottles are otherwise identical.
31st December, 2016

Tee Time by Anucci

Another surprisingly inexpensive frag I've purchased blind after finding certain notes in the Advanced Search option of the Basenotes directory, Anucci's Tee Time has been a bit of a ride for me. First off, when the package arrived there was definite leakage. Secondly, I couldn't figure out how to open it and began fiddling with the little clubs atop the cap. I would later find that the leaked juice simply sealed the cap shut upon drying. The concentrated base odor was not promising - a rather intense white floral powder and musk. I almost didn't want the replacement bottle I was awaiting.

On to the scent itself-
Tee Time boasts a jarring array of notes, in the late 90's style of things like Viking by Royal Copenhagen or Hugo by Hugo Boss. Up close it smells as odd and borderline gross as one might expect. The real magic is catching a warm trail of the stuff in passing. It is airy and grassy, all jasmine with a hint of citrus, with a beautiful wisp of mint peeking out at odd times. It smells utterly white, and like it was made for a polo t-shirt and dock loafers. Its inherent sweetness apparently only stems from the citrus top and heavy dose of florals which, as a construct, is monstrously at odds with modern climes, but it doesn't become as clogged as a parallel frag loaded with vanilla or orris. The drydown shows how heavily blended Tee Time is, but I can't deny its overall beauty; I can't say I have ever smelled another fragrance even a bit like this. And because of its construction Tee Time is a crying shame - Your lover, your class or work mates, or anybody else in close proximity will probably find it strange, feminine, or cloying, but passersby catching just whiff of this stuff will be scratching their heads wondering what, for a moment, just smelled like a sunny Spring day.
30th December, 2016

cK2 by Calvin Klein

My first impression of CK2 was not a good one; It did not come across as anything I had expected and I initially mistook its softness for weakness. After spending an afternoon with it, I recognized a structure similar to the drydown of Background by Jil Sander. The opening was a bit too powdery and floral, and I was really searching for that 'wasabi' note. I stopped paying attention for a while, and after maybe forty minutes thought I smelled something very familiar - Dzongkha! I suddenly understood the point of CK2, with the peony, vetiver, stones, incense, and unisex labeling all softly recreating the basic structure of one of my favorite l'Artisan creations. CK2 isn't nearly as strong as Dzongkha, and without the papyrus and cedar it is much less woody. The end result is like the Tibetan mountain temple that is Dzongkha on a rainy day. The spirit is still there but the edges are worn off, the volume is low, and the petrichor replaces the smoke of the now dampened incense. Projection drops steeply after the first half hour but the scent remains for most of the day. I feel like this is a reworking of CK Man, and a rather good attempt. If the projection was any better I might have counted it among their best.
11th December, 2016
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Dark Rebel Rider by John Varvatos

I don't tend to favor the Varvatos line after their first release, but this one is pleasant enough to wear. And do you know why that is? Because it is a complete, top-down ripoff of Dirty English with a touch of vanilla or similar. Utterly transparent, and the added sweetness does degrade it a bit.
09th December, 2016

Culture by Tabac: Arena di Roma by Mäurer & Wirtz

After years of searching for a bottle of AdR, I was initially quite disappointed with the product. I was expecting some apple-based variant of Minotaure, like a Minotaure-Nicole Miller Hybrid. Instead, the opening was reminiscent of Perry Man without the musk; A slightly fruity and anisic woody scent with a hint of caraway and spice. On top of that let down, the top notes barely last ten minutes on skin, and the heart of it is also comparatively fleeting. But, after spending several days with this scent, I think I understand its purpose better - It is definitely an oud-centric creation, with all of the top notes collapsing into the neutron star of a soft and undeniably pleasant oud to create a close scent which carefully balances sweet, powdery, woody, herbal, spicy, and medicinal tones with the precision of a sought-after surgeon. If you are looking for the boozy swagger and lilt of Miller or the Mediterranean breeze of Minotaure you will find neither here. If you want a quiet and confident caraway-oud the likes of which you will literally never otherwise encounter, Tabac has something for you. Do not expect much (if any) sillage from this one, but know that it is enchanting up close.
21st November, 2016

Lolita Lempicka Au Masculin Eau de Parfum Intense by Lolita Lempicka

The reissued Au Masculin is significantly weaker than the original, favoring an airier quality, a sort of fog of mystery less rooted in the gourmand than it once was. The Eau de Minuit flanker adds woody depth with an oud note and a richer vetiver. And now we have an 'intense' version; intense by the standard of the weakened reissue. Ergo, we now have a new flanker in this EDP which is almost as strong as the original. Scent-wise, it seems to be a cross between 2000's LLaM and the Midnight version - foody, woody, and airy at once. The anise and bergamot rule for an hour before this becomes a sweet, powdery wood. And, in a move which may make a few converts to the brand, the vanilla is barely present, giving this release a little more versatility and reach beyond just being a gourmand. While it lacks much of the faerie mystique of prior releases it is still great stuff (IF you like star anise), and makes me think of a grandson trying on his grandmother Apres l'Ondee's old clothes and trinkets (In a wistful and playful, -not Norman Bates- kind of way). If I felt so inclined, I could now have an Au Masculin for every season.

After wearing this a few times I realized that, for all the different on-paper notes, it is extremely similar in body, scent, and weight to the reformulated Jaipur Homme, with star anise replacing the cinnamon and heliotrope (the base is certainly woodier, though). I love Annick; she always pulls back just before 'too sweet.'
06th November, 2016 (last edited: 25th November, 2016)

Orchid Soleil by Tom Ford

A drier, pepper-forward take on oldies like Shalimar or Emeraude, Orchid Soleil boasts less of a rich Oriental nature and more of a nutty, creamy version of the traditional ambery base. I associate it more with honeysuckle than orchid, but that's probably the interplay of notes at work. This might turn some off because OS smells a little like rice wraps or some sort of cornmeal, but the floral nature is quite pleasant enough to counter this association (for me). It's just a light and happy creamy white floral. It seems like Tom Ford took a stab at making an Etat Libre d'Orange fragrance, sort of in the vein of Fat Electrician made prettier. It really is quite interesting.
04th November, 2016

Boss Spirit by Hugo Boss

Can you imaging a chimera built from parts of Lacoste Pour Homme, Gucci's Nobile, and Drakkar Noir?

Spirit's bracing herbal opening is exactly what I was hoping it would be - wormwood, lavender, and lovely aldehydes. There is some galbanum going on too, but that's less exciting for me; I'm here to see the band, not the roadies. A delicate mint note reminds you of its presence every so often. The leathery-amber base is so supportive of the top notes that the transitions are very fluid. I would have expected a good deal of moss, but I feel the creators didn't want to cloud the sharp, bitter purity of the opening. There are those who will settle for a 'beer' and the fewer who ask for a rich IPA; the kind of people who like as much bitter as sweet, and need a natural touch. Boss Spirit is for green lovers. Spirit isn't particularly long-lasting in terms of projection (it remains very long as a skin scent), but I enjoy it more than any other offering I have tried from this house.
04th October, 2016 (last edited: 06th October, 2016)

Givenchy Play Sport by Givenchy

Every time I read a line like, "...while its musky base provides a modern touch" that almost always turns out to be Marketer speak for, "Cheap and banal." The lemon and ginger are nice, and avoid smelling like a cold remedy, but this whole style has been done to death and beyond, and it is literally the only style I smell on passersby where I live. Everything for men has to be ginger and/or cardamom and synthetic woods. I guess I'm in the minority but I don't think these things smell attractive, or even remotely natural. I've said before that this popularity may just be a collective response from born-and-raised city dwellers with little to no experience with real plant aromas, but even if that is the case it is getting out of hand how trite and utterly similar these designer frags are now. Does anyone notice or care that half of all men's designers this past decade are nearly identical? I think it's actually lowered my standards, because now I applaud almost anything new that isn't a cardamom bomb or vanilla gourmand. Thankfully, there is a trove of gems from yesteryear left to discover, because I'm gonna sit this zeitgeist out and wait for the next one.

By the time I finished writing all that, GPS's top notes were nearly gone. If you pay money for this product you deserve what you get.
03rd October, 2016

Original Penguin for Men by Original Penguin

While Penguin is a very tempting buy for the price I just can't enjoy this style. Scents focused on an accord of vanilla, fir, and pepper are just disgusting to my nose. While the overall presentation here exceeds the quality of the similar Bijan Black, it is still a less-than-favorable fragrance to me.
28th September, 2016

Number 3 / Le 3me Homme / The Third Man by Caron

For the seventh installment of 'Where did my review from several years ago go?' I will be looking at The Third Man.

It sounded great on paper, so a few years back I purchased a small decant from the Perfumed Court. My immediate impression was wonder of sorts, concerning how a perfume could come off as so natural and suave while also being that strong. In most cases you might get one or two of the three, but this really has it all. We see here the vanilla and lavender of Pour un Homme matched with some bright-as-day bergamot, a licorice-y anise ( a mixture which would be often copied in the decade to come), a swoon-inducing floral heart starring carnation and rose, and a deep, rich bed of tonka and moss. I echo here what many have said before, in that I wish the opening lasted longer (if not forever), but the total experience is decadent and lavish, with a natural yet manicured build like an English country garden in a velvet evening suit. I can think of few parallels to this level of quality in terms of blending, progression, and overall scent. I have tried two vintages so far, both of which are almost frustratingly attractive, like I am insulting the brand by not having a perfect face to match. This is one of the greatest lavenders out there, a real fougere paradise. My only caveat about its use is that, if over-applied re-applied throughout the day, the base becomes thick and stagnant, so watch the trigger.
27th September, 2016

Mustang Blue by Mustang

Mustang blue is a surprisingly competent herbal musk. The opening of lemon, mint, and basil brings Hugo by Hugo Boss to mind, and when the clove and pine of the heart peek out I can't help but wonder if this was a cloning attempt. Blue walks the line between foresty and aquatic, and comes off as very fresh for a short while. It is the blurry, indiscernible, 'Abercrombie' woody musk of the base which condemns the fragrance to mediocrity. It's just too vague, too unexciting, and too much like an over-sprayed mall fragrance for the ending to match the crispness of the opening. In the end, however, it is an exceptional fragrance for something which can be had for ten dollars.
22nd September, 2016

cK one by Calvin Klein

I actually grew to enjoy One after owning a mini for several years. Surely it is synthetic and a little crowded, but it is refreshing and unisex, which is exactly what it claimed to be, and I like that. Perhaps it's the changing climes and trends making masculine florals so rare which changed my mind on this one, but I really like lily of the valley in fragrances, and to me, it is the most prominent part of One's composition. If the base wasn't so blurred and fake smelling this might have crossed the line from good to great.

Edit: The line has been crossed. I have finally acquired a vintage bottle and am happy to report that it is warmer, more natural-smelling, and that the sourness of the opening is more like aldehydes than chemical tartness derived from added citruses, and the nutmeg is actually noticeable. Admittedly, the difference in vintages is a small gap, and the current formulation is still far more enjoyable than most designer releases over the last two decades, but that little difference in texture and authenticity bridged the gap for me.
11th September, 2016 (last edited: 09th January, 2017)
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Sirène by Vicky Tiel

Sirene is a very competent, even lovely floral which defies its cost. It has a small, natural smokiness which likens it to Catalyst and Norell, two of my very favorites. The floral components are so nicely done here that the base notes are almost an afterthought- a complement to stretch the lifespan of the petals. A little out of place temporarily, but quality juice nonetheless.
11th September, 2016

Rochas Man by Rochas

A rich vanilla gourmand, like a cousin to CK Obsession and Oak by Bath and Body Works. The top notes barely last, but this experience is not really about them. The coffee and vanilla notes really make this, as well as the excellent performance. A few years ago I traded my bottle to a friend, but I have a feeling this one will find its way back into my collection.
11th September, 2016

Arrogance Uomo by Arrogance

It's woody, it's dark, and it's spicy. I should be nuts about Arrogance Uomo, but I can't help but feel I am largely anosmic to some of its ingredients. It is touted as being a heavy frag but I can only detect it from close-up. It boasts an orangey vetiver theme like the old Armani with a dash of inky castoreum. The flowers are almost completely overpowered by the woods and herbs, but the touch of mace is certainly enjoyable. Arrogance is quite good, but the title is definitely a misnomer.
11th September, 2016

Obsession Night by Calvin Klein

Turin's comparison (Perfumes A-Z) of Obsession Night to Anthracite made me say, "No wonder). I liked both immediately after sniffing. The juxtaposition of the pinkish, citrus-floral Anthracite top with a judiciously toned-down version of original Obsession's base worked out very well indeed. One of CK's better creations.
11th September, 2016

Obsession for Men by Calvin Klein

I recently acquired a mini of the original Obsession and did a side-by-side with the modern iteration and I was pleasantly surprised. I have worn the modern one rarely over the last decade but I always enjoyed it for what it was- a super smooth and resilient myrrh and nutmeg bomb. My Lady claimed it smells like the sunscreen brand, Skin So Soft. The older mini I found is nuanced in such a way that the herbal aspect of Obsession isn't totally consumed by the incense resins and spices. I prefer the old but I understand that modern day masculines tend to shy away from uncommon green notes and definitely do not favor the sharp, austere dryness of sage, so I can appreciate the reformulation as an honest attempt to keep this iconic creation in the major rotation. That, and it hasn't diminished in strength, which (as far as reformulations go) is a small miracle. All in all just really nice stuff if you don't mind linear scents.
11th September, 2016

Encounter by Calvin Klein

Encounter smells like a three-car collision of current masculine styles. If you can imagine mixing a thinned- out Escada Pour Homme with Magnetism from the same house, you might get some idea of how confused this release is. Instead of blending the components well it feels like they tried to make every prominent note the star of the liquid. It is cloyingly sweet and the top notes stick around just long enough to fairly be listed in the pyramid. The 'Oud' in Encounter is to Oud what a knockoff purse labeled 'Guchi' is to the real brand. This whole thing is just a mess. I think Calvin Klein needs to slow down for a while and focus on quality over quantity.
11th September, 2016

Dark Obsession by Calvin Klein

Another 'good on paper' misstep from Klein, Dark Obsession tries to stack the top half of CK Free onto the base of Obsession, and what ensues is a thick cake batter of sweetness and misplaced herbs. While the classic sage note in the original Obsession made a canny counter to the rich incense resins, in this case the greenery is utterly bogged down and seems to share more in common with scents like Bijan Black and Penguin. There just isn't enough room for the notes in this to breathe.
11th September, 2016

Contradiction for Men by Calvin Klein

The men's version of Contradiction just comes off as CK's answer to Kenzo's Jungle - a woody, peppery nutmeg with a splash of citrus on top. The problem with CK's take is that it just smells fake. It is a decent composition in itself, but while there are several other firms producing the same scent only better, there just seems little cause to own Contradiction. This is also one of the rare and sad instances in which the fragrance in question smells markedly worse on my skin than on paper. Excellent bottle, though.
11th September, 2016

Iquitos by Alain Delon

Many times while utilizing the advanced search option on this site I have been offered Iquitos as a suggestion. In finally trying it I immediately realize why.

As I am sure most regulars of this site are dead tired of hearing, I am a diehard lover of vintage Minotaure, with its untouchable bright orange and aldehyde opening, mingled with beautiful rose and indolic jasmine, backed by quiet but sturdy leather and sandalwood. So what does Iquitos have to do with Minotaure, then?


The orange, jasmine, leather, rose, and most importantly to me, the beautiful, sparkling aldehydes (which were most shamefully ripped from the reissued Minotaure after its acquisition) are all here, just in very different proportions. And there is wormwood a la Tenere, the only other thing I would have added to Picasso's release (other than added strength). The rose smells dark and tacky, as experienced in Azzaro's Acteur, and the woods are deeper, darker and more prominent in the late stages. While Minotaure balances the airy and Mediterranean with the slightly dirty, Iquitos is a more hairy-chested, 'indoor tannery' version.

This fragrance didn't stick around long because, as some have mentioned before, it was wildly at odds with the taste of the time, but this is precisely the type of scent I keep searching for - the Hyper-masculine-effiminate-dandyboy floral. Yes, that's an utter paradox, and very much the reason I can't remain in love with most things I own. But once in a long while, as I am crawling over the cusp of indifference, I find something like this, and my flame is renewed for another period of fervor.

Your silly five star rating limit can eat a bug.

Seven stars out of five.
30th August, 2016

Excess No. 28 by Tokyo Milk

A failsafe orangey-woody mix with no real flaws but nothing exciting going on. A decent hot weather or exercise frag, as the amber is barely sweet.
29th August, 2016

La Vie la Mort No. 90 by Tokyo Milk

LVlM is a very confused scent. Is it trying to be tropical, spicy, aromatic, candied, floral? I would never wear this personally, but if you or anyone you know wants a fragrance that smells the way Starbucks passion fruit iced tea tastes I would recommend that you (or they) start here.
29th August, 2016

Tainted Love No. 62 by Tokyo Milk

Like with many T-Milk creations Tainted Love seems to be devoid of top notes. It smells the way it smells and keeps on doing so until it's gone. In that regard I can't find it very exciting, but what I do like about it is the dry, inedible vanilla complementing the sandalwood. The tea note is all but lost on me, but the floral component is just enough to propel this from 'skin oil' to 'designer perfume.' I can't help but think the E+J Nirvana Black scent was utterly ripped from this.
29th August, 2016

Bulletproof No. 45 by Tokyo Milk

Bulletproof is easily one of the best this outfit has produced. Their releases are almost always extremely pared down, so surprises, development, and excitement are usually minimal, but in some sparse instances this isn't a hindrance. The creamy, lactonic top is dried right out by the woods in Bulletproof, steering it away from scents like Envy for Women. So, while Tokyo Milk's works are labeled 'unisex' but definitely marketed toward females, this is one of the group which works just as well on me as it does on my sisters. The overall scent is a bit like a dried out coconut tree covered in cocoa butter, just not as weird as that sounds.
29th August, 2016

Everything & Nothing No. 10 by Tokyo Milk

An orange tea scent sort of like the green tea fragrance made by l'Occitane, only this one is earthier and does not remind me of freesia in any way. I would be lukewarm on the matter but the orange top actually and quite impressively lasts nearly until the drydown. While this isn't by any means a marathon scent, citrus lovers will know how important that little detail is. If anyone here is looking for an introductory frag for a daughter or niece under 30 this one is decidedly less chemical in presentation than most of its peers.
29th August, 2016

Deep Blue Essence by Weil

This is every woody-spicy aquatic. It is facelessly modern and devoid of any originality or merit. It is Gio, it is Zegna, Sung, Boss, and Bahama's prior works all revisited and poorly re-imagined, like recreating a bad field trip in your head and making the memory worse with hazy or falsified details. It is the kind of scent which will be purchased by men(?) who walk into department stores and perfume outlets and, instead of sampling anything, simply asks, "What sells the best here?" and buys it (very common at places like Perfumania). He will invariably over-apply and later lash out at girls for not liking him.

I wish this style would die out, but it's so cheap to manufacture and so entrenched in the culture of urbanites without natural scent references that it's not likely to happen in the foreseeable future.
29th August, 2016

Oak by Bath and Body Works

I am beginning to worry that some of my reviews have been deleted, as there have been several revisits this Summer to pages I would swear a blood oath on having reviewed. This one I recall writing up immediately after I bought Oak two or three years ago. In any event, the oddly named Oak is a smooth, creamy nutmeg and coffee Oriental which smells like an attempt to blend Rochas Man with vintage Obsession, and to that end it succeeds greatly. The top notes can almost be written off, as the citrus and aldehydes are too weak to really notice, being enveloped by the rather strong base. The sage is there, and the nutmeg, sandal, and musk together smell incredibly close to myrrh, which evokes the Obsession comparison. Oak is an amalgamous and straightforward scent which changes little during its surprisingly long span. It can become dull because of its linear nature, but if you like the idea of a bough of wood soaked in vanilla, coffee, and nutmeg then you ought to try this stuff. I think it's the most competent fragrance to come out of B&BW (that I have tried) and am glad to have my bottle.
26th August, 2016

Armani Eau pour Homme by Giorgio Armani

This Armani is what Bvlgari and Paul Smith have been trying to imitate all this time. It's a classic build and very straightforward without being boring. I sometimes wonder whether there is vetiver in it. This is essentially one of the scents trying to create a fresh escape route from the heavy-handed 80's just before the advent of Calone. Orangey scents seem to work well on me, so of course I like this one.
24th August, 2016