Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Shifty Bat

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Total Reviews: 651

Eternity for Men Intense by Calvin Klein

Who the hell green-lit this? It smells as hollow and uninvolved as the Clean scents they sell at Sephora. If you were honestly (and I emphasize -honestly-) trying to sell me an emboldened take on the original, already strong, Eternity I would be sadistically curious. This has absolutely nothing to do with Eternity. It is not even a distant cousin. Nor is it intense, It is a bitter, smokey, two-dimensional affair which seems like it is trying to replicate fire smoke (effort, woodsmanship, and actual fire not included).
Maybe some will be into this but for my money it's downright gross in addition to being embarrassingly weak.
24th August, 2019

Reveal Men by Calvin Klein

By rights I should hate this, but I am a sad-sack sucker for boozy suede. I have become blue in the face from saying that CK's men's line would benefit immensely from more natural-smelling ingredients (CK Man could have been great)but then again it just wouldn't feel like 'them.'
If you, dear reader, can entertain and enjoy the idea of La Captive pear brandy spilled over a new and freshly-warmed pair of suede sneakers, then Reveal might be worth your time. Many will assuredly find it sickeningly sweet, some too synthetic, but I am too wasted on liqueur to care and my shoes know the way home.
23rd August, 2019

Eternity Now for Men by Calvin Klein

I have no idea why this was released under the Eternity moniker, as it bears no resemblance whatever to the original or its other flankers. It is a candied, sweet mixed drink type of scent reminiscent of l'Artisan's Batucada with slightly better (albeit less natural-feeling) performance. I swear I smell a surprising hint of Szechuan pepper a la Opium PH, which adds a bit of depth. If you want to smell like a Tiki party at a Thai restaurant, be my guest. Not a scent to be taken too seriously, Now is fun and lighthearted, and frankly not terrible - just be sure to brush and floss after wearing.
23rd August, 2019
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Eternity Air for Men by Calvin Klein

Calvin Klein's ever-expanding repertoire almost always involves roping the buyer in with the first few minutes with something exotic or uncommon and petering out at the base, perhaps hoping its buyership won't possess the attention span to care or notice for that long. They have made some great releases over the years, but every one since CK One has floundered at the tail end.
Eternity Air may as well be a Tommy Bahama fragrance, as it smells nearly identical to earlier explored waters. That being said it is refreshingly pleasant for what it is; a saline, ozonic lavender aquatic with a hint of seaweed. For those who like oceanic-fresh but feel that Kenzo is too challenging and Horizon is too old-school, I suppose. I can at least say it is potent without being screechy and smells gentler than most of the house's recent releases. Certainly nothing to write home about, but not really bad in any way.
23rd August, 2019

Calvin Klein by Calvin Klein

CK's original foray into scent evokes (to my nose) fond memories of Houbigant's Raffinee, the original Nicole Miller, and Aramis 900, here meaning I am quite fond of its construction. It is mossy and ripe, strong yet versatile, and just plain good. This company dipped their toe in the waters by imitating classics and nailing it (see Calvin [Blue])and then went Calone-crazy instead of keeping a good thing going. While I do enjoy vintage Eternity, CK One, and a few others to some extent, it feels like after the flagship male and female scents and Obsession that the company tried to go either too abstract or too minimalist; It is understandable that the firm wanted to pioneer the future by divorcing themselves from the past, but I do wish their classical phase lasted just a bit longer.
22nd August, 2019

Jules by Christian Dior

Jules smells to me like an even mixture of Leonard Pour Homme, Gambler by Jovan, and Givenchy gentleman, in roughly a 3/2/1 parts ratio. So much spicy and indolic flower usage that, when paired with all that leather, smells of cinnamon. The basil and laurel together clearly state "made in the 80's". The galbanum and cumin play a round of "fresh cop, dirty cop." There is quite a lot going on, but it is a comparatively quiet scent with more of a come-hither vibe than a mating call. Sure, I wish it had a little more rev to its engine but the smell itself is enjoyable enough to forgive it.
07th August, 2019

Black Eclipsis by Breil

Given the notes listed I was looking forward to something like Perry Ellis 360 Red or any of the other competent AdG clones, but what I got was a painfully banal and unforgivably weak 'bro' scent with no identifiably natural ingredients. Just glad I picked it up before the price spiked so I don't feel bad about giving it away.
26th July, 2019

VIP for Men by Giorgio Beverly Hills

A dark patchouli and honey combo with almost enough orris and tonka to make it smell like someone spiked your bottle of Giorgio For Men with a dash of old Royal Copenhagen. There is a delectable hint of licorice buried in the mix as well. I prefer this iteration to the original. Too bad it is practically non-existent now. One drop from a mini smells the equivalent of a full spray of most other designers out there.
10th July, 2019

Fuel for Men / DK Men by Donna Karan

DK Men would be a contender for my Pantheon of fragrances if the performance was better. But maybe that is the point;leave them wanting more. Like my much-beloved Minotaure it has an opening incomparably delicious, but dwindles quickly into a skin scent, though the base does ride out most of the day. The scent itself is mostly a chocolatey-suede with pineapple blushes, and the body lands squarely between the heavyhandedness of Animale Animale and the ephemeral lightness of Obsession Night. Before sampling it I was expecting something more along the lines of Viking by Royal Copenhagen, but that one leans harder into the fruit and floral musk.
Overall this is fantastic stuff. I couldn't imagine paying $300-500 a bottle at current market price for something with such middling performance, but I am certainly glad I got to try it before it disappeared.
It is like a Monet or Renoir painting of a motorcycle jacket, but for your nose - it obviously does not entirely resemble the thing itself, but the familiarity is undeniable, as is the quality. I will have to pay the reissue a visit.
07th June, 2019

Moschino pour Homme by Moschino

Herbal urine in a leather jacket? This seems like it should be gross but it is strangely alluring and obviously well-built. Yatagan joins a biker gang? Love it.
29th May, 2019

Free Life by Etienne Aigner

This one is really something. Upon application the sharp, fresh profile of lavender and patchouli with such a dark back drop brings fond memories of Ungaro I, but the similarity doesn't last long. The soft and natural sandalwood and that tinge of rosewood take center stage not too long after, and the floral components are small facets on this gem. I suppose comparing this to the mean of Ungaro I and Zino Davidoff would make sense, though it is weaker than either. It is an excellent herbal wood scent but has none of the bombast or projection of most of its peers, but I kind of like that about it, because it is both close and natural. You'll mostly get soft woods and lavender with this one, but it's a winning combo for me.
17th May, 2019

Adventurer by Aramis

With the lucky momentum of just having picked up a blind bottle of Tobacco Reserve I decided to gamble on Adventurer and lost. If you have ever wished Kenzo Pour Homme was less challenging or interesting, you're in luck. This stuff has seaweed but not enough to smell seaside. In fact, everything but the soft, safe musk is so light that (despite the pyramid of notes) it just ends up smelling like a weaker version of Set Sail Martinique or a much less characteristic version of Mustang Blue. It is not terrible for a warm weather scent, but it seems that every designer house now has to have one or two of these faceless aquatics in their stable and I am desperately tired of the format. At least it isn't saturated with cardamom.
27th April, 2019

Aramis Tobacco Reserve by Aramis

I would have much preferred this with oakmoss instead of treemoss (shakes fist at IFRA) but am still satisfied with it. Fresh tobacco, moss, and a very vanilla-like tonka comprise most of this fragrance. Yes, there is more going on but you won't notice unless you get really close. It's a decent release if you aren't concerned with dynamism, provided you don't over-spray (it can quickly become cloying). If you are into mossy vanillas like the original Perry Ellis this one might be worth a try, as it lasts quite literally all day with just a couple sprays. Overall Tobacco Reserve is uninspired and very linear, but pleasant and comfortable like a worn-in armchair and it's certainly a refreshing change from most of its contemporaries that I've tried.
25th April, 2019
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Samsara Eau de Toilette by Guerlain

Note: This is a repeat review because originally there was no listing on this site for the EDT version.

Samsara is not only one of my go-to sandalwood scents, but one of my favorite feminine fragrances of all time. And I occasionally wear it myself. I tried the EDP but there was absolutely no passing it off as a masculine. The EDT I prefer, for the woody aspects seem more prominent and the 'Guerlinade' less fierce. The jasmine top is soft and clean as new linen, and the sweet woody body is a treasure. I could stand for a bit less powder in the end phase but you know what they say about beggars. They don't wear Samsara.

Further edit: The biggest differences between the EDP and EDT versions (at least the older ones)are that the Parfum is fruitier and cloudier, whereas the EDT is more about the sandalwood. This is not to say the Parfum does not have sandalwood in spades - Rather, its top notes are so heavily loaded that the base doesn't present itself as a main feature until several hours have elapsed; Peach, jasmine, and ylang command the stage and direct the spotlight here. Absolutely lovely, just not on me. What really sells me on the EDT is the prevalence of sandalwood, jasmine, and rose, in classic attar style, only softer - like a watercolor image of the oils one might find in India or Pakistan. I understand that many are turned away from Samsara because of its almost 'Poison-like' strength but, worn in small doses, it is still one of my very favorite scents.
25th April, 2019

Fleurs de Lavande / Lavender Flower by Mistral

Everything I shouldn't like in a lavender-centric frag expertly manipulated to make me love it.

Mistral's take on the wildly overdone vanilla/lavender duo is a fun and very sturdy one. The vanilla is far more prominent from top to finish, but the musk lends that sort of foundation-y, makeup-like scent that many would find familiar in scents like Hypnotic Poison (my favorite reference for this particular smell). The pine is more the sap than the nettle and lends a (very) small crisp, open-air feel to the mix, while the quiet rose will only make itself known while you are daydreaming or otherwise distracted; it is marvelously small and can only be smelled at some angles, like an olfactory optical illusion. My only issue is the star player being rather buried by its peers - there isn't nearly enough lavender here for my taste.
If some perverse part of you ever wondered what Penhaligon's Hammam Bouquet would smell like if the top notes were turned down to a whisper, here is your answer. All in all this is certainly more about vanilla than anything else, but it is that lovely and rare earthy, inedible vanilla that I enjoy.
01st April, 2019

Replica Music Festival by Martin Margiela

The apple note was an odd choice; it lends a sour sweetness that does no favors for the composition. The patchouli smells a bit like chocolate, like in gourmand scents like Animale Animale. The 'bud' is one imagined by a perfumer who has never indulged, but once rode in a car with a friend who did. Not terrible, but very disingenuous. Buy this if you want to smell like a chocolate-coated apple in a leather jacket.
18th March, 2019

Fleur de Verveine / Verbena Flower by Mistral

I don't know if Mistral released a different line for the U.S. with different names and/or ingredients, but the one I found is simply called Verbena Eau de Parfum. I happened upon it by sheer coincidence and bought it as a total gamble.
Right out of the gate this stuff is delicious. The combination of mint, verbena (obviously), ginger, and slight citrusy notes brought to mind Green Water by Jacques Fath, which I have long wanted a bottle of but wasn't fully invested in the more recent remakes. It also smells like Bowling Green, if it had all the mossy-piney-tobacco-like base notes removed. It is beautiful and impossibly refreshing, and smells surprisingly natural. Being all top notes it doesn't stick around for particularly long, but being absent of base notes means reapplication won't become a bother. The floral aspects don't weigh in much so it really doesn't come across as a women's-only or an 80's green scent. In short, longevity aside (I write this now in cold weather, for which it is obviously not meant), I can say with no shred of hesitance that I enjoy every bit of this fragrance and will gladly buy it if I happen upon it again.
03rd March, 2019

Florida Water by Murray & Lanman

This stuff is oddly impressive. The orange/bergamot, clove, and lavender give off an accord similar to ginger and the full effect is like a seafaring pirate's version of potpourri. After a short while the clove takes over, as it often seems to do, but this is a really refreshing and versatile mixture for the price, especially for those who like old-fashioned bay musks and vintage Old Spice.
27th December, 2018

Sagamore by Lancôme

Lovable precursor to Beyond Paradise and Zanzibar.

Lancome's Sagamore comes off as a dewey, bamboo-like iteration of a citrus and sandalwood fragrance. It is slightly grassy like Japanese green tea and blobby and indistinct in texture in the way that over-blended mall counter scents from back in the day such as the men's Lauder line are. It smells out of focus, if that makes any sense. This is not a dynamic juice for extroverts and night club hopefuls, but rather a comfortable, contemplative creation for taking one's day slowly. I can't help but wonder if CK Truth for Men was intended to be a retelling of the same tale using modern ingredients?

This one isn't likely to wow anybody but if you're looking for a watercolor sandalwood that smells vaguely of melon you will be quite pleased with it.
04th October, 2018

Bogner Man (version #2) by Bogner

Sweet lemon and jasmine over a dirty vetiver. A bad boy Eau de Rochas. Certainly a warm or hot weather scent due to its otherwise natural closeness. An admirable pre-aquatic.
09th September, 2018

Bogner Man II by Bogner

Bogner I takes off the smoking jacket and heads into the wild. This a much more bitter composition in comparison to its predecessor, so woody and animal-inky it immediately reminds me of the old men's line from Jil Sander - Bitter greens, board room florals, and Swamp Thing decayed woods all laid out to dry on a spritely bed of galbanum. The opposite of unisex, and a great pick for those wishing to smell like a bayou millionaire. Striking.
09th September, 2018

Bogner Man (original) by Bogner

Lovely stuff, this. Most prevalent among the perceived notes (for me) are the cinnamon, moss, fir, and tobacco, with a honeyed sweetness. I have heard the original Bogner compared to Monsieur Carven, and for good reason, and to a lesser extent JHL, though the top notes in the Bogner offering are far less pronounced, more for 'color' than much else. I think vintage Tabac wouldn't be far off, though this is greener and doesn't have Tabac's wonderful aldehyde opening. What it actually more closely brings to mind (if you can imagine this) is Royal Copenhagen with all the herbs and orris removed and fir added in their place. It is en excellent sweet tobacco scent with a floral heart. I haven't even used up my mini yet and I already miss it.
09th September, 2018

Hai Karate by Healthpoint Ltd

Hai Karate, which translates to "Yes, Empty Hand," is from the get-go its own indictment of what you'll be walking out of the store with. In body and functionality it is as if Royal Copenhagen had fewer aromatic ingredients, more musk, and was issued by Jovan. It has a reputation for smelling precisely like an all-too-young dude who 'knows what women like,' but has absolutely no idea what women like. It is basically just a sweet and powdery musk with plenty of misplaced bravado.
My father told me he wore this in his misbegotten youth, and that is funny and somehow endearing to me, though I will spare you his stories of embarrassment.
While I don't think it is a terrible scent (just very dated), it perfectly represents the painfully awkward teenagers of the 70's who wore it. Hard to karate-chop all those women when my jeans are so tight.
07th August, 2018

Armani Code Colonia by Giorgio Armani

A vaguely citrusy marshmallow toasted on a synthetic wood skewer. Not sure why nearly all of men's designers of late have to be cardamom aquatics or nightclub vanillas, but I'm over it. This one is just a less good version of Joop! Jump.
06th March, 2018

Majestic Woods by Juicy Couture

This may be the most misleading name in perfumery that I have so far experienced. There is nothing woody about this scent; it smells almost precisely like a fire-toasted marshmallow. Perhaps the 'woods' part is just an allusion to all the camping that the average Juicy Couture buyer enjoys?
In any case, if you are looking for a cloying version of Joop! Jump marketed toward females who love fur-lined collars, tiny dogs in purses, and an absurd amount of pink in their attire, start here.
23rd February, 2018

Collection Grands Crus : Assam of India by Berdoues

Citrus and tea reminiscent of Duel by Annick Goutal. Excellently fresh opening but lacking finish, as there doesn't seem to be much, if any, of the touted sandalwood. This would make for an excellent room/pillow/bathroom spray, but may let you down on your person. Even so, I really enjoy the quality and brightness of the opening.
23rd February, 2018

Gentlewoman by Juliette Has a Gun

The mathematical mean between 4711 and Emeraude, Gentlewoman is a breezy and affable orange blossom scent with a wisp of surprisingly unobtrusive almond. You may almost think you smell lime, linden, tree moss, and several other things not actually present, which is probably my favorite aspect of this scent. It is staid and unexciting, but certainly well-built. It is, in a nutshell, "nice."

Not at all a flirty or 'notice me' kind of scent, but one of respectable, quiet confidence and unwavering direction.
03rd January, 2018

Lady Vengeance by Juliette Has a Gun

Lady V. is a simple affair. The quality and depth of ingredients immediately brings to mind a couple of releases from the Histoires line, particularly the interplay between a very bright and dry rose and patchouli duo which together evince an orangey, potpourri sort of accord. I would rather do without the vanilla myself, but it does serve to temper the spikier aspects of the former parts. This is a cheery, well-lit mood enhancing frag with another silly name. Nothing worth shouting about, but not one to be written off without trying.
03rd January, 2018

Decibel by Azzaro

Azzaro tries to do Lempicka.

Decibel smells like you've been drinking Italian liqueurs at church. The incense note is the same cheap and soggy type you'll find in equally affordable moderns like Dunhill Custom; it's not bad, per se, but you get what you pay for, certainly. The lemon is sweet, and is an unexpectedly lovely partner for the licorice, reminding me of the time I confounded a bartender by asking for one part Sambuca, one part vanilla vodka, and three parts sour mix over ice (which tastes oddly like a cupcake).

This is an affable fragrance if you like them sweet and don't mind a little powder. Fans of Ted by Ted Lapidus and Apparition Homme and the like will find in this a familiar sweet fuzziness. Mercifully, the violet heart tones down the sugar after a while, but the base seems vague, as though it was watercolor bleeding through paper rather than bold pen lines. A very ephemeral, ethereal sort of gourmand, I suppose.

I would have preferred more aldehydes and less vanilla myself, but Azzaro never thought to ask me.

In summation, this is a licorice gourmand for those who felt that the Lempicka line was too overbearing and the Ungaro too thin.
27th December, 2017

Perry Ellis Citron by Perry Ellis

A great bitter bergamot opening is followed by a creeping, tempering sweetness brought on by the emerging apple, at which point I get a meyer lemon feel. Sadly, despite the title here, citrus is not to be the star of this show. The pepper and apple together smell extremely similar to Dunhill Custom, but with more going on in the periphery. As the geranium begins to pop out I am reminded of another Dunhill - the signature release from 2003. Eventually the composition is made annoyingly trite by what smells like orris or tonka in the base, though neither are listed, but it is this powdery vanillic dismount which sours me to the whole thing. the first few minutes are delicious, but they certainly are fleeting. Like the rest of the 'colored dot' line of PE scents, Citron is derivative and has a short lifespan, but it is still probably the best of the lot.
If you can find this for cheap it may make a suitable replacement for Eau de Rochas.
10th December, 2017