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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If the top notes of this scent lasted forever I would wear this all the time.
I have once sampled the current version of Tabac at a Perfumania and can't for the life of me remember any details (always a bad sign), but I recently acquired an old mini which boasts an opening accord so aldehydic I was nearly in beautiful shock. The blending makes distinction difficult ( this is the Stolberg/ West Germany version), but I seldom find scents with so much tonka/amber/vanilla which prove so mild and balanced. Tabac doesn't last too long, and the opening fifteen minutes are absolutely the best part for me, but I have to admit that this is one of the best budget scents out there.
I also now realize that Whiskey by Commodity was just an ill-fated attempt to recreate this classic.
I don't often think of sport fragrances as 'lovely,' but this really is. The bright, limey opening is delightful and the woody base smells more natural than I'm used to experiencing in this type of product. The white floral heart can come off as a little plasticky when sniffed up close but it's not really bad. All in all I think SdPR is a simple and fleeting but highly enjoyable thing.
When you want the soapy greenery of a classic giant like Nobile but without the smoky decadence and finely tailored formality, you need Paco! This is singing praise of rosemary and moss, and it's cool, clean, semi-sweet, and fairly airy. Before this 'casual wear' herbal donned the three-piece suit and heralded the 80's it was a carefree, uncluttered affair. Unfortunately it hasn't aged well after reformulations, and it is now just a pleasant echo on the wind in its current form.
This member of the Lacoste family suffers from the same affliction plaguing the rest of the line - pathetic longevity. In this case, however, it feels intentional; a sporty scent made to be fleeting and refreshing without sacrificing quality, and one which can be liberally reapplied without issue. The opening smells mostly of bergamot and lemon or grapefruit, with a disarmingly soft sage note rising up to bridge the citrus to the remarkably pleasant sandalwood base. The base itself smells like a decent sandalwood, but may actually be a collective of wood and tonka which simulates sandal very well. This is an ideal pick for a 'Summer scent,' and I am very glad Lacoste didn't feel the need to put Sport in the title.
I am sampling this from a 1 ml miniature, which leads me to believe it is the older version, but I could be wrong. What I can say with certainty is that Ungaro is the 80's version of modern day Juicy Couture scents. Fruity, stylish, a little ditzy, but somehow competently composed. If you can imagine vintage Halston (Women's) with a bit more plum you will have the right idea. It's bright but thick and mire-like, like a fragrance made from compote, and the notes are blurry and indistinct, but create a feeling like sunflower crossed with strawberry. I now recognize in this build a great number of fragrances that tried to use this template but fell flat because the modern standard ingredients were not up to snuff. While this stands as a classic and influential fruity floral it isn't really worth the asking price these days if you can still find vintage Nicole Miller or Halston Couture.
This must be the seventh or eighth time I was dead certain I had written a review for a given scent yet the field remained empty when I returned much later on. So instead of making a fuss about potentially deleted or mis-transferred data, let's make a silly analogy.
Coup de Fouet's opening notes are like the Powerpuff Girls-
Pepper (Blossom) is the commander and the leader, there at the very forefront of battle, razor-sharp and not giving an inch.
Clove (Buttercup) is the overbearing strongarm of the bunch, ready to fly off the handle and envelop the situation at a moment's notice, and is just barely reined in by the other notes.
Carnation (Bubbles) is the centerpiece, the real star, but is easily overshadowed by her sisters. She is gentle, playful, and potent for a girl of this type, but recedes into herself while the louder two of the trio are talking. Once they tire themselves out she really shines, as the fiery blast of CdF's opening tones down to a sunny Spring day.
Thereafter there is a creamy, almost-powdery base like unlit incense in a silk gown. It is, all in all, a very pleasant experience.
A woody, sweet, bitter, and herbal fragrance which highlights natural-smelling anise and wormwood? If this also had some rose tucked in there it would pretty much sum up what I want to smell like most of the time. Just plain beautiful.
Absolutely revolting that the 2015 'reissue' is simply another steroidal cinnamon-vanilla Oriental ::prolonged, exasperated sigh::.
Acteur is one of the last romantic attempts to make the masculine floral take hold after the powerhouse era. Its body comprises the 'Arizona' dryness of Quorum silver, all dry-as-dirt cedar and sage, but the composition is dominated by a lush Damask rose the likes of which you'd expect to encounter in a Tom Ford fragrance. The overall experience is somewhat short-lived, but the drydown is a plummy-rose-wood which is deceptively strong.
I can't fathom why they made this a 10% concentrate when it could easily have been as radiant as any 80's name brand, but I can't help but wonder if it was intentional; a continuation of the past streamlined for the future?
It's probably one of those great ideas that got caught in the crossfires of the times and was scrapped in favor of the new.
Edit: I completely forgot to mention the calamus. I love both the taste and smell of calamus root, and as such appreciate the dry, almost dirty (as in actual soil) not-quite-ginseng vibe it lends to Acteur. It's an understated and lovely little touch one doesn't often come across in designer scent.
09th August, 2016 (last edited: 08th September, 2016)
Leonard is a shining example of masculine leathers from the mid 70's to late 80's. It smells a little like Halston's Z-14, a little like Derby and VC&A Pour Homme, a bit of Jovan Gambler Musk, and with a spot of Furyo and a hint of Burberrys for Men. It is dry yet oily, spicy but smooth, green-brown-orange, like old shag carpets, and very much a product of its time, but still smells wonderful today. You won't fool anyone into thinking you're wearing a new release with this on, but it's not overbearingly macho like many old 'powerhouses' were. I think this stuff is lovely.
Edit: In my haste I forgot to mention my favorite aspect of this scent, which is a beautifully done carnation, which (to me) is the star of this show. Don't let anyone tell you that men can't wear pink or wear floral fragrance. Colors and plant odors don't have genders. Leonard comes on strong but is really quite gentle, and is surprisingly lovely in Summer when applied sparsely and lightly.
02nd August, 2016 (last edited: 21st August, 2016)