Long ago I avoided reviewing this and several other fragrances simply because they had plenty enough reviews already. Now I feel compelled to throw in my two cents because of how my perception has changed over the years. Until now I never quite realized how very 80's the heart and base are, losing myself in the lavender and calone opening. But the bitter greens and white florals, on closer inspection, are more akin to scents like the original Burberrys than the wave of herbaceous aquatics that followed Eternity's release. Heck, I never even noticed there was vetiver in this composition until today. I have always liked Calvin Klein despite their many shortcomings (CK Free and Encounter spring immediately to mind), and Mr. Klein and I share a birthday (Yippee!), and I feel this release deserves its level of fame- It is synthetic yet potent, a bit screechy if over-sprayed, but is layered and nuanced in a way which seems to be fading from the common release. My one caveat is that the current version in production is -maybe- 65 percent the strength of the original.
Thumbs up for the original creation and a watered down neutral for the schlock currently on the shelves.
LDF nailed the description, but I am totally lukewarm on the stuff. Lovely top notes, but nothing worth delving into base-wise. Would make a great hairspray.
All of these Juicy flankers are very slight modulations on the same theme - The caramel-coated berries and white flowers. La Fleur has but one thing which sets it apart from the rest - The opening smells like vodka. Do with that information what you will. Not a bad scent by any means, but not enough of a shift from the original to be necessary.
Nothing 'noir' going on here; just another berry white floral atop some desserts. It does bring to mind the scene in the original Bedazzled in which the Devil convinces an old woman to leave her house, after which he helps himself to her raspberries and cream.
This is like a feminine Xeryus Rouge, with a similar fruity-watery opening but an end made of caramel instead of grey musk. It is a bit strange but not unpleasant. Potency could stand to be better but it's good for the price.
Black Soul Imperial may sound like something Darth Vader might wear but it's good stuff. The resinous tolu could have lent a syrupy quality to the body, and teamed up with the mint it almost smells like bubble gum in a way, but the rich, arid coffee note flattens the whole thing out and really steams out the wrinkles. The coffee presence is so large (imagine a steroidal Polo Double Black) that I can't really think of what the original Black Soul would smell like, as it absolutely dominates the composition. It's like a catchy song about a really trite subject with a sick RAT pedal distortion on the guitar; you may claim you don't like it- until you're stuck at a stop light and you catch yourself singing along. Take the good with the bad and just go with it. This is rock and roll.
TL smells like a reduced-sugar marshmallow. It brings to mind Jil Sander's Background minus the rose and citrus, and is a very mellow, low hum of a scent, sturdy and reliable but rather quiet. While on paper it may sound similar to Le Male or Ghost Man, TL is much less dynamic with its top notes, and it comes out of the bottle fully formed, as it remains practically the same throughout its lifespan. In this regard I would also compare it to Matchabelli's Hero (with much less lavender). I do wish the mint presence was stronger here but at the same time I feel it was meant as a soft complement to the orange blossom. No towering genius here, just a carefree Spring day. My initial response was a neutral one but I have come to appreciate a release centered wholly on vanilla without being sweet.
Do you know what really ruins most aquatic fragrances? There is a common theme which apparently can't be avoided in order to keep the 'fresh' aesthetic alive; most aquatic scents have too much cardamom and very flimsy base notes.
The very essence of the genre is in the impossibly fresh top notes (which never last). Modern men's fragrances have overwhelmingly avoided the early 90's floral approach to mid range after many failed attempts, and likely because there is a huge American bias in our mindset which states "flowers=women." The bases of these then fresh-but-not-floral creations resort to clouded or screechy synthetic woody bases which do absolutely nothing to support the rest of the development. This means the fragrance is a burst of money-grabbing top notes followed by a precipitate nothingness, a vacuous anti-fragrance borne of the wanting for the opening to last forever (as it is the only selling point) and an immediate need to bail the water out of the boat as the vessel quickly sinks.
Paradise smells as lovely as many dozen fragrances just like it, but only for half an hour. After that it is the same forgettable, sinking ship that most aquatics bring to mind.
If I smelled this on a passerby I couldn't tell you with any degree of certainty what it was.
Mimosa honestly smells like white flower petals soaking in orange soda. It that bad? I'll leave that up to you.
Rain is very vague. It employs a series of flowers and woods to create an accord of fern, instead of just using fern in the first place. It is obviously quite watery and a little grassy. To my nose, jasmine and verbena reign here, and the woody base is indistinct. It is a safe and soft almost-aquatic and really is quite enjoyable, but the top notes duck out far too soon for my taste. This is, by now, well-traveled territory, as CK's Truth was released something like twelve years before Rain. All in all it's a decent and clean comfort fragrance, or perhaps a post-shower bedtime scent.
Hero is a very simple throwback kind of scent that assumes that removing the floral and brighter components of Shalimar or Emeraude somehow makes it more masculine. It is a spare piece comprised mostly of lavender, bergamot, and coumarin, with just a whisper of something which may or may not be labdanum underneath. It took me ages to make the connection I was trying for but I eventually realized that this is basically a pared down, drugstore version of Puig's Sybaris (from the same year). It is semi-sweet, sort of chalky, and pleasantly natural. Being such an understated and under-inflated scent it runs the risk of being labeled boring, but I like it just fine. Hero, misleading as the title is, is happy and reliable, and sometimes that's all I need.
The tiniest addition of juniper adds a much needed bitterness to offset Gold's all-out amber nature. This is not a very strong scent, nor does it smell of cake frosting, but I feel it would have been in danger of being utterly forgettable without a bit of counterpoint. A skin scent for amber lovers.
This light, citrusy tea scent reminds me of Fresh's Citron de Vigne minus the grapes, and Annick Goutal's Duel with no leather. It is sprightly, inoffensive, short-lived, and happy. I understand this series of scents was designed with layering in mind but I would prefer if they were upstanding each in their own right.
I feel about Wool much the same as I do about Corduroy by Ikon - 'Comfort fragrance.' Soft and ambery, slightly spicy but never spiky, small but quite warm projection, sepia-tinged and very inviting. The citrus and herbs are little than facets in the face of the base notes, which linger on like the warmth of an undershirt in Winter. It smells like an alcohol-free bourbon in a way.
I loathe Polo Red but am somewhat heartened to see some of the missing links present in Intense which make the original accords slightly less of a leap. The saffron is more pronounced (we can't let Prada corner that market, now can we?), and the coffee is stronger, bringing to mind the berry-cafe feel of Belle en Rykiel and to a lesser extent Rochas Man. While this is a huge improvement over the original it still costs almost twice what the superior aforementioned do, and I still feel the opening notes are out of place. Polo gambled on a new twist to an old theme and it didn't pan out so well. No big deal. It's still quite nice once the citrus top has passed, so points for making me want the drydown.
Get it? All the ingredients are red-ish! That must mean they perform in perfect harmony.
In reality, Polo Red spreads itself thin stylistically and the well-traveled coffee and amber base is just positively scarred by the irreconcilable tangy fruit opening. The herbal components aren't too bothersome (they are barely present). Altogether, Red just smells like two disparate fragrance briefs poured into a single bottle and the outcome is gross. Longevity and projection run away with your money at about the twenty minute mark.
A direct cross of Emeraude and English Leather. Wearable but unexciting.
Book smells incredibly similar to Estee Lauder's Intuition for men (powdery-smooth 'almost vanilla' with cucumber), but with a more woody base and a much-needed longevity boost. While I don't feel that this quite smells like the vanillin produced by an aging book I admire their effort and find it an undoubtedly pleasant, even cozy fragrance.
Gigli Man is a dewy, soft woody scent which smells blurred in a way. I liken it to a damper version of VC&A's Zanzibar, which has a very similar feel and weight. GM is pleasant and quite discreet, but its incredible meekness makes it viable only in an office or on a very hot day. It fades to a gentle musk within the hour, and the base notes are barely present enough to keep themselves together. The lovable opening of cinnamon and pepper combined with fruits which manage to mimic apple manages to charm for a few minutes before the swift dissipation of the top and heart begins. Perhaps an EDP could save this composition?
A warm and orangey/powdery Oriental in the mold of Shalimar and Emeraude, Nuit Noir bears a very misleading name. It smells pretty bright to my nose. Not particularly original but very well composed.
Reminds me greatly of the similarly enjoyable Ligea "La Sirena" by Carthusia and would be a 'next step' recommendation for fans of Midnight in Paris.
Tulipano is quite interesting in that it smells sort of removed from time. It is classic, modern, and moderate at once. I showed this one to two of my sisters (in their early teens) and they both enjoyed it, not once complaining about its retro aspects. Is it the omission of oakmoss that makes it more contemporary? Is it the velvety, magenta smell and texture of the bygone l'Arte di Gucci? I couldn't tell you, but I can say that this is a well-composed floral and a decent performer which is well worth seeking out.
This is a real rose lover's rose. The woody components make it smell like the skeleton of a 70's chypre (which is not to say it runs thin). Add some civet and moss and we'd be in classic territory for certain. An appreciably pared down scent with a very natural fullness.
TdB slips in its submission for 90's style herbal Orientals at the final bell and it is a most welcome one. This does not strike me as a fragrance for serious people. It is an uplifting and even playful verbena and herbs affair over amber which begins beguilingly sweet and finishes utterly dry. The lime-like verbena is certainly the focus of this fun little Summery piece.
Must Love Oud.
Thirty-Three features some of the strongest oud I have come across, paired with a rather beautiful rose and a surprisingly quiet patchouli (no wonder really, having to compete with an oud like that). I feel like there is more going on than that but it's supremely hard to sort out, given the sheer force of this trio. This is not to say this fragrance is abrasive or unpleasantly strong; it radiates with an intense softness which lasts until the next day and then some. The market is currently flooded with rose/oud duos but this offering simply nails the style and sticks the landing.
In the vein of Diorella this mossy little piece is a lovely melange of citrus, white flowers, and bitter greens balanced by just a drop of amber and vanilla. And just like Diorella I have no qualms wearing what is marketed as a feminine fragrance. This falls in line with others in my collection - Norell, Ivoire, and Givenchy III. A lovely, bright, sparkling green juice whose weight defies the on-paper collection of its ingredients, Trussardi is a breezy and carefree sort of Chypre, like wearing a Summer garden.
What an experience! The opening of the M. Rochas concentree I have is much like entering and leaving a venue featuring a live jazz band - from afar the song is muffled and bass-heavy, a warm and washed impression of what is inside. Once your nose is three inches, two inches, one inch from the skin, the door flies open and the volume is intense. The trumpeter is spitting carnation and chamomile everywhere and, though he is a young gun, he is taking center stage to everyone's surprise. Long time friends sage and oakmoss are holding down the walking bass line and adding a surprise dash of salt to the rim of tonight's glass, while a lovely soul singer dressed in bergamot wails over a backdrop of dry woods and spices. I recognize so many accords from other fragrances in this mix but I will refrain from listing them, as I can not recall the last time I wrote a review without a reference enclosed. What I will say is that this iteration of Monsieur is largely outdated but full of character, like an aging musician who has played with all the big names some time along the line. Effortless, persistent, and timeless. I now feel I have to try the other versions.
26th March, 2016 (last edited: 06th May, 2016)
Hypnose Homme is yet another tragic case of budget issues. The build is solid and it could have/should have come out beautiful, but the ingredients are just too fake, and the imbalance in the life of said ingredients makes for a wobbly drydown. The lavender is not fresh so much as it is metallic, the mint may as well be nonexistent, and the end stage of Hypnose is not worth remembering. I almost bought this one countless times but could never quite commit. I was romanticizing it because on paper it looked like exactly what I was looking for. Always remember to try on skin. I still like it but maybe someone else should take it home.
Is this the same Dior that gave us Eau Noire, Midnight Poison, and Dior Homme? I hate to see this house go the way of YSL, tossing aside all its merits trying to chase the young, fresh, and chemical. What really incenses me about Sauvage isn't that it's terrible (it's not), but that it is utterly derivative, and a pale attempt to modernize Eau Sauvage and Fahrenheit for idiots, and it falls flat on its face. It is an insipid and useless creation which very quickly peters out into a geranium and powder skin scent which, frankly, I can't see anyone clamoring for. If I wanted a semi-sweet geranium with little substance I would sooner wear The Visionary by The Gap; that is how little I care for Sauvage.
The opening of JSM smells like Jil Sander Man Pure combined with Feeling Man. The initial gasoline and wood accord is very short-lived, and what emerges quickly after is a whole lot of violet and vetiver. The body is quite soft and a little powdery in an iris kind of way, but not at all dark or thick like the notes pyramid led me to expect. The end result reminds me in little ways of Bvlgari Blv Notte (minus the chocolate and chemical feel)and Lalique 'Faune.' Classy and covert, a bit underperforming in the sillage department but excellent for work.
While CalRose is super similar to Tom Ford's Cafe Rose I would say that Ford's version is an Italian cafe, deep and unrelenting, while the Aramis version is more sweet, bright, and Parisian. Both are phenomenal fragrances.
Calligraphy is mostly rose (obviously), saffron, and rich incenses, the heady blend of which actually doesn't clog up the experience. I find it a linear one in that it dwindles rather than changes throughout its span.
There is little else to say other than I believe this will make most rose lovers swoon.