Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Mysticman


Stetson Black by Stetson

A weaker imitation of Dior's Fahrenheit. No more, no less.
07th August, 2015

KL Homme by Lagerfeld

KL Homme is a spicy oriental, and to me smells mostly like a sweeter, more amber-y, less spicy version of Pierre Cardin Pour Homme. It's smooth and rich, quite concentrated, and elegant. I get the similarites with JHL, but KL Homme is a bit lighter, with the carnation and geranium prominent in the heart. The aldehydes in the opening are front and center, but blended nicely with the citrus and lavender, rendering the whole effect quite natural rather than synthetic. To my nose, Pierre Cardin is more pleasing, but KL has its charm too.

H & R's Guide lists the notes as:

Top: Lemon, bergamot, rosewood, lavender, orange, aldehyde
Middle: Carnation, jasmine, geranium, fern, cinnamon, rose, patchouli, sandalwood, cedarwood
Base: Vanilla, benzoin, olibanum, musk, amber, civet
01st August, 2015

Nightflight by Joop!

Another imitation of Calvin Klein's Eternity for Men. If I smell them right next to each other I can detect the differences, but the differences aren't enough to be overly concerned with.
26th June, 2015
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Adolfo for Men by Frances Denney

H&R's Fragrance Guide from 1989 classified Adolfo as a "Coniferous Chypre" along with Polo, Xeryus and Drakkar Noir but many in that group seem to have been more recently reclassified as Fougeres. To me Adolfo has none of the hallmarks of a fougere (the classic lavender/tonka interplay), with a fresh opening, a mellow spicy-woody heart, and a subtly rich base. The opening to me has always smelled like pineapple, although it is not listed in the pyramid, which is as follows:

Top: Bergamot, galbanum, artemisia, lemon, green note, juniper
Middle: Carnation, cinnamon, thyme, pine, jasmine, rose
Base: Patchouli, olibanum, leather, labdanum, moss, amber, musk

Adolfo is distinctive and subtle, by no means a powerhouse, although it is a product of the 80's, and while it doesn't last in memory the way some of its compatriots do, it's still quite pleasant and worth wearing from time to time.
23rd June, 2015

Terre d'Hermès by Hermès

Love, love, love it!!! This is the first fragrance I've tried in at least a decade that I loved immediately and like more every time I wear it. The balance of fresh and "dirty", and the transition from the sparkly opening to the warm, sultry base is just spectacular. It smells like nothing else I've come across, and works really well with my skin.

I came across it while Christmas shopping one evening, and could still detect traces the next morning --- knew I had to have it, bu the prices were prohibitive. Fortunately I found an EdT mini with shower gel for less than $20 online, and it has joined the ranks of my top 5 favorites, along with Eau Sauvage, Guerlain's Vetiver, and Armani Pour Homme (the 5th spot rotates between Halston Z-14, Cacharel Pour Homme, Bijan, and Monsieur Balmain).

I believe Terre d'Hermes could become a modern classic. Can the era of bland aquatics be making way for bold and distinctive scents again? Bravissimo to Hermes and Jean-Claude Ellena!
16th January, 2015

Iron by Coty

A pleasant, mild spicy lavender oriental. Not a powerhouse by any means --- and not even in the same family as Preferred Stock, which is a tangy chypre with prominent pimento and pepper notes. Iron is more akin to other spicy lavender scents of the late 80's like Matchabelli's Hero or Atkinson's Rockford --- and it even has some similarities with British Sterling (even the metallic name), which is very likely one of Iron's inspirations and forbears.
25th September, 2014

Nine Flags: England - Royal Saddle by Colton

Subtle and understated, Royal Saddle is, as the name suggests, a refined leathery scent with top notes of citrus, lavender and violet, some green and floral midnotes (geranium, carnation and rose?) and a base of soft leather and musk.

Labelled a "shaving cologne," the sillage and longevity are not great, but it makes for a very nice splash after shaving or as a bracing lotion in the morning. Men's fragrances in the mid-sixties (when Nine Flags was launched) tended more toward a lighter concentration than we're used to today, and it's part of the charm of scents of that era.

This is also very reminiscent of Knize Ten.
18th September, 2014 (last edited: 01st October, 2015)

Realm by Realm Fragrances

A nicely blended, subtly spicy ambery-vanilla-y oriental. I can't speak to any effect the alleged pheromones may contribute, but it's a nice enough scent that smells a LOT like original Guess for Men. There's a hint of a toned-down Obsession and a resemblance to Pierre Cardin, Lagerfeld or KL Homme as well. Sillage is mild, longevity is decent.

Realm isn't a dramatic or "statement" fragrance, but it's quite pleasant in a subtle way, and there are times when that's just right.
22nd August, 2014

Moschino pour Homme by Moschino

Moschino Pour Homme strikes me as a descendant of Halston's classic Z-14 --- a fresh, zesty spicy chypre that mellows into a warm mossy, leathery blend. It also bears more than a passing resemblance to Valentino's Vendetta (which came out a year later) and Patou Pour Homme. This is everything a men's fragrance should be --- complex, rich, subtle, bold, balanced and nuanced all at once. Bravissimo!
31st July, 2014

Design for Men by Paul Sebastian

I quite like this as a fresh scent with some staying power. The top notes of lavender, citrus (bergamot and grapefruit for sure, possibly others) and juniper berries blend with some sharp fresh ginger and other spices in the mid notes, then the cedar, oakmoss and musk notes of the base fade in subtly.

The component notes have some similarities with Cartier's Pasha, and to my nose they belong to the same family --- spicy fresh scents that straddle the line between a fresh chypre and a citrus fantasy. It's more of a "feel-good" scent than one to make a bold statement, but I enjoy having it in my collection and wearing it on warm days.
14th July, 2014 (last edited: 13th July, 2014)

Touch for Men by Fred Hayman

A more concentrated version of classic Brut. That's really all you need to know --- if you like Brut and like a stronger version of it, you'll like Touch. If not, you probably won't. For myself, I enjoy it once in a while, but it's not a scent I wear often.
09th July, 2014

JHL by Aramis

JHL is what YSL's Opium Pour Homme should have been, --- only JHL was several years ahead. It is the perfect consort to the original Opium for women --- rich, spicy, intense, elegant, sensual, sweet, and warm, with incredible lasting power. This is not for the timid, or for young men. It takes considerable panache, maturity and confidence to bring off a heady borderline-sweet scent like this. Obsession, Lagerfeld, KL Homme and Chaps are all close relatives, but none of them have the gravitas of JHL.

This is one of those scents that should be saved for special occasions --- it's too intense for everyday wear. But for a night at the opera, or a tryst at an elegant hotel, perhaps a formal New Year's Eve party --- bring it on! JHL is at home amid rich velvets and brocades, heavy draperies, and crowds dressed to the nines. It conjures up a sultry night in a Sultan's palace in the Arabian Nights, although its heat and richness makes it more of a wintertime scent than one to wear in the summer. This is a 5-star classic if ever there was one, but only when used sparingly in the proper setting.
25th June, 2014

Lacoste (original) by Lacoste

I've worn Lacoste occasionally for several years, and always enjoyed it. But somehow today it struck me in a way I've never quite experienced before, and it's as if I'm smelling it for the first time. The fresh citrus and green notes blend perfectly, and a light floral note (lilac or jonquil, perhaps?) peeks out a bit. Then the mossy and woody notes emerge, and the interplay is just delightful --- subtle, but delightful. I have a whole new appreciation for this now --- it's like hearing brand new details in a familiar piece of music!

According to H&R's Fragrance Guide, the notes are:

Top: Lavender, bergamot, lemon, clary sage, lime
Middle: Green Note, basil, jasmin, carnation, galbanum
Base: Cedarwood, vetiver, moss, tonka, musk, amber
25th June, 2014
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Crêpe de Chine by Long Lost Perfume

Millot's original Crepe de Chine is indeed a classic of the perfume world, even if it's not as well known as its contemporaries --- Chanel No. 5, Shalimar, Arpege, Soir de Paris et al. It was a pioneering scent at its introduction in 1925 --- one of the very first fresh chypre scents, along with Guerlain's Mitsouko and Coty's original Chypre, and it doesn't smell dated at all --- it's still elegant, refined, complex, and very intriguing.

H&R's Fragrance Guide lists the notes of the original formula as follows:

Top: Bergamot, lemon, orange, neroli, fruity note
Middle: Carnation, rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lilac
Base: Oakmoss, vetiver, labdanum, benzoin, patchouli, musk
16th June, 2014

S by Shakira

S by Shakira is much better than I expected. Most of the "celebrity fragrances" in recent years seem to have been designed with very young girls in mind and smell like very synthetic sweet bubblegum, soda pop or cotton candy --- artificial fruit notes with lots of vanilla and no real progression.

S, on the other hand, is a more traditional warm oriental with amber, benzoin and vanilla being the dominant notes. The jasmine is understated, and the wood notes blend nicely with the resins. It doesn't have the depth or progression of, say, Opium or Obsession, but it wasn't intended to. Rather than criticize it for what it isn't, I'd rather appreciate it for what it is --- a mostly linear, unpretentious warm amber-vanilla scent that lends itself to a variety of occasions, and would be very pleasant even on a woman well out of her teens. It's light enough for daytime wear, but will hold up to evening wear as well.
16th June, 2014

Oynx by Lenthéric

Carl999's description of Onyx as a "soft, smooth, clean and very green-smelling Aramis" is spot on. Although it lacks the heavy doses of artemisia, cumin, vetiver and oakmoss that give Aramis its punch, it has a similar dry, tangy citrus opening that unfolds into woods and leather in a very smooth transition. H&R's Fragrance Guide classifies it as a "Citrus/Fantasy" along with English Leather, Monsieur de Givenchy, Sergio Soldano Black and Tabac, rather than a Leathery Chypre like Aramis, and the differences become more apparent in the drydown.

The notes are listed as:

Top: Bergamot, petitgrain, aldehyde, lemon, lavender, orange
Middle: Jasmine, rose, carnation, orris, clary sage, patchouli, sandalwood, cedarwood
Base: Moss, tonka, musk, amber, vanilla, leather, labdanum
15th June, 2014

Marbert Gentleman by Marbert

Marbert Gentleman is a light, fresh chypre that smells familiar to me, but I can never seem to think what else it smells like. H&R's Fragrance Guide lists the notes as:

TOP: Bergamot, lemon, artemisia, galbanum, aldehyde, green note, estragon
MIDDLE: Jasmine, rose, geranium, cypress, patchouli, vetiver, cedar
BASE: Moss, labdanum, olibanum, musk, leather, castoreum, civet

Despite the civet and castoreum in the base, it comes across more fresh and mossy than animalic, and is fairly subdued in terms of projection and sillage. This "Gentleman" is reserved, polite, and well-mannered --- one who impresses with understatement and quiet confidence rather than by commanding attention.
10th June, 2014

Chaz by Revlon

Chaz is a floral fougere that comes across almost like a leathery chypre. It bears more than a passing resemblance to Balenciaga's Portos, which lacks the distinctive Tonka note of a true fougere, but otherwise has many similarities --- fresh citrus and green topnotes giving way to wood, spices, moss and leather. A product of the disco era, it does have some of that brashness about it, but also a sophistication well beyond that of John Travolta's Tony Manero character in "Saturday Night Fever." I have the original Revlon formula, which is quite long-lasting on my skin.

H&R's Fragrance Guide lists the notes as:

TOP: Lavender, rosemary, laurel, bergamot, lemon
MIDDLE: Geranium, carnation, pine, coriander, cinnamon, clary sage, cyclamen
BASE: Cedarwood, moss, musk, tonka, amber

Splash on some Chaz, put on the Trammps' "Disco Inferno" and burn the mutha' down!
10th June, 2014

Havana by Aramis

A "dark blue cone of frosted glass"??? No, mis amigos --- the bottle is a conga drum like the ones used by Desi Arnaz in the 50's, which gives it both a vintage vibe and an association with Afro-Cuban music, which evolved into what we now know as Salsa.

Havana conjures up tropical heat and foliage, sultry nights, the warm Caribbean sea, rum drinks, and the sophisticated polyrhythms of congas, bongos and timbales. The citrus and spice notes harmonize beautifully with the tobacco, woods and patchouli (and a fragrance named Havana HAS to have tobacco in it, no?).

Put on some Irakere, Mongo Santamaria, Armando Peraza or Celia Cruz (or even the Buena Vista Social Club), a dash of Havana and your dancing shoes and you'll be ready to heat up the night. Sabor!
26th May, 2014

Agua Brava by Antonio Puig

Named for the rugged Costa Brava region of northeastern Spain, Agua Brava conjures up the images well, with its blend of fresh and coniferous top notes, and its strong undertone of wood, moss, patchouli and leather. It has an old-school quality of mostly natural ingredients, and is a great way to re-visit the 60's on a less-traveled road (Brut, English Leather and several others being the more commonly traveled paths).

Musically, the parallel I get is Rimsky-Korsakov's "Capriccio Espagnole," with its dramatic evocations of Spain mimicking the dramatic Costa Brava itself. Ole!
21st May, 2014

One Man Show by Jacques Bogart

When I first tried One Man Show, my immediate reaction was that someone had let their kids loose in the perfume mixing lab, and that they had combined a bunch of essences at random. It struck me as an incoherent mess --- citrus, green, floral and wood notes all tumbling over each other at once, and I was somehow both put off and fascinated. Over time, the fragrance retained its jumbled quality even as various notes emerged and retreated.

I've tried it a few times since, and I think I now "get" what the creator was going for, but I still don't really truly like it. If I'm in exactly the right mood I can appreciate it, but Krizia Uomo does a similar thing in a MUCH more appealing way.

To clarify, I don't actively dislike One Man Show --- and I can now appreciate its contribution to the world of fragrance. But it reminds me of some abstract art or twelve-tone music like Schoenberg or Webern --- I can appreciate it on an intellectual level, but not a visceral or emotional one, and I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to seek it out.
20th May, 2014

Elie Saab Le Parfum by Elie Saab

I like this a lot! There is an almost edible quality to the blend, even though the notes aren't especially "gourmand." The middle has a distinct spicy note of ylang-ylang, and the base has as much to do with amber as it does with honey or patchouli.

It's sensual and voluptuous while keeping a freshness as well, and it's sweet without being cloying. Someone (was it Coco Chanel?) once said a woman should wear perfume wherever she wants to be kissed. This is one to wear when she wants to be kissed all over.
03rd May, 2014 (last edited: 17th May, 2014)

Volupté by Oscar de la Renta

Luscious, spicy violets with carnation, rose, freesia, heliotrope and amber very present in the mix, gradually fading into a sandalwood and patchouli base that retains the floral notes as well. I love this, and imagine it on a confident, feminine woman, most likely in a sultry tropical climate or mood. Vivid, colorful, and very sexy!

26th April, 2014

Chaps Musk by Ralph Lauren

A little more subdued than the original Chaps, this one has very pleasant fresh and green top and mid notes (notably geranium) along with some of the same notes as the original Chaps --- anise, honey and spices. The base is musk blended with sandalwood, patchouli and amber, and the overall composition is quite pleasant. It's not as bracingly green as Monsieur Houbigant Musk, nor as spicy as Royall Muske, but it has enough other ingredients balancing the musk to be interesting. On my skin it has medium longevity, and it projects nicely without being overpowering.
20th April, 2014

Xeryus by Givenchy

The notes listed above don't sound right to me. I've been a fan of Xeryus ever since I first smelled it on a trip to Europe in 1986. I don't get any grapefruit in the top notes, nor much amber in the base. To my nose Xeryus is a spicy coniferous chypre closely related to Weil's Kipling, Francesco Smalto and Drakkar Noir. H & R's Fragrance Guide lists notes that sound much more like my impression of Xeryus --- at least, the original formulation of it:

Top: Bergamot, mandarin, mace, lavender, lemon, green note
Middle: Cyclamen, geranium, juniper, clary sage, estragon, petitgrain, coriander, jasmin, cypress
Base: Sandalwood, vetiver, moss, fir, musk, cedar, cistus

The opening is fresh and slightly sweet, but not overly so, and the drydown fades into a wonderfully woody forest. It reminds me of walking in a redwood grove where the air is fresh and alive with negative ions, scented with wood, bark, damp earth and green needles. It's been a staple in my collection since 1986, and one I still enjoy wearing regularly.
12th April, 2014

Pancaldi by Hanorah

I like this a lot. At first whiff it reminds me of Gruene's Vintage for Men, Pierre Cardin Musk, and Revillon's The French Line, but its fresh, green coniferous opening fades more quickly and becomes more subdued than any of those three. There are a lot of notes that seem to rise and fall over the life of the scent, and so well blended that even when individual notes appear, they remain as part of the whole as well. It's a leathery chypre with a prominent forest-y quality --- a genre that appears to have fallen from grace, since Pancaldi is the only one of the four still in production, and even it is hard to find.

A bit of internet research came up with the following list of notes, which seem very plausible to me:

Top: Bergamot, verbena, lavender, lemon, wormwood, basil, juniper berry, neroli, thyme
Middle: Cinnamon, carnation, clove, clary sage, fern, fir, geranium, jasmine, rose, pimento berry
Base: Benzoin, castoreum, cedar, leather, oakmoss, patchouli, sandalwood, tonka, vetiver
31st March, 2014

Royal Copenhagen by Royal Copenhagen

Royal Copenhagen is a sweet oriental, yet somehow the overall effect is cool rather than warm. It feels brisk and bracing even though the ingredients would suggest something warm and a bit spicy. H & R's Fragrance Guide lists the components as:

Top: Bergamot, lemon, lime, aldehyde, cardamom, green note
Middle: Rose, jasmine, patchouli, orris, carnation, cedarwood, vetiver
Base: Tonka, amber, honey, moss, vanilla, musk, heliotrope

It resembles Kanon original (another Scandinavian-themed sweet oriental) a little, and its descendants include such classics as Lagerfeld, Chaps, Stetson, and JHL.

It also has an affinity with Zizanie and Imperial del Oro's Russian Leather, which I suspect may have among the inspirations for RC. A 5-star classic!

29th March, 2014

Galoré by Royal Secret

A classic fragrance that would be right at home on the Hollywood glamour queens of the 40's, 50's or early 60's. Aldehydic spicy floral top notes fading into a warm and spicy heart with a strong animalic ambery and leathery base. It brings to mind Robert Piguet's Bandit, Shalimar, Chanel No. 5 and other aldehydic/floral/oriental blends. One site I found lists the notes as:

Top: Aldehydes, spices, mandarin orange, bergamot
Middle: Jasmine, ylang-ylang, muguet, rose, narcissus
Base: Amber, vanilla, vetiver, incense

I definitely smell a leathery accord in the base, with perhaps some civet as well

I imagine this on a mature woman dressed up for a night on the town followed by a passionate tryst. It most definitely is NOT for young girls or any woman who doesn't have a strong sense of her identity and style.
22nd March, 2014

Hot by Benetton

I would rate this a thumbs up if it had been marketed as feminine, but as an alleged "unisex," it just doesn't cut it. It's much too sweet and flowery for a man --- although light in concentration, it's a floriental along the lines of a younger sister to Guerlain's Samsara or Arden's Red Door, or perhaps something by Carolina Herrera.

The composition is quite nice, and I would like it on a woman, but it's just not suited to persons of the masculine persuasion.
14th March, 2014

British Sterling by Dana

The original formula of British Sterling was subtle, classy, yet not overly formal, and it sill holds up today. I can't speak for any of the reformulations, but the original had a fresh lavender/citrus opening that included some floral notes (lilac?), transitioning into a spicy middle that undoubtedly includes carnation as well as clove, nutmeg and cinnamon. It is a sweet-spicy oriental in the mode of Zizanie, Old Spice or Evyan's The Baron (though I'll take British Sterling over the Baron any time!)

Originally distributed by Speidel, the watchband maker, it was touted as "so fine a gift, it's sold in jewelry stores," and one could get a set of initials engraved onto the metal top of the bottle. It wasn't until years later that it was downmarketed to turn up in drugstores.
10th March, 2014