Perfume Reviews

Reviews by rasputin

Total Reviews: 19

Que Sais-Je? (original) by Jean Patou

Jean Patou QUE SAIS-JE? [1925; nose: Henri Almeras]. Aldehydic/Fruity/Woody Type.

This classic beauty was released by the house of Patou in 1925, the year of the Arts Decoratifs Exposition in Paris... the arts convention that officially launched the "Art Deco" style (even though Europeans have always called it "Le Style Moderne", not Art Deco).

QUE SAIS-JE?, which means literally "What do *I* know?", refers to the dizzy beginning of a romance, when one is not thinking wisely or prudently, but rather with emotional ardor. The scent was originally released as part of a trilogy, each suggested for a different wearer's haircolor. :-) QSJ was recommended for brunettes; AMOUR AMOUR for blondes, and ADIEU SAGESSE for redheads.

QSJ is a sweet, fruity, nutty, woody fragrance. It opens with sweet aldehydes, and a peach/pear fruitiness that smells like a peach brandy or hard pear cider. The floralcy is sweet, yet subdued, somewhat "anonymous": rose, jasmin and ylang-ylang form a soft, muted cushion designed to spotlight the fruit characteristics. In the heart, the fruit takes on a juicy pear-like deliciousness, slathered in a drippy, indolic honey. Hazelnut confers a nutty warmth, and a delicate herbal accord of French thyme, tarragon, menthol and clove spice up the fruit. The base is a woody accord of cedar, sandalwood, benzoin, a vanilla in its floral guise, musks, and au fond, an unusual, improbable stony/dusty note of myrrh, which anchors and counterbalances the perfume's essential sweetness.

QSJ? is now long-discontinued and rather difficult to find, though it occasionally crops up on eBay. One must be sure to look for the 1980's "Ma Collection" re-issue, and take great pains to avoid the monstrous, incorrect bastardization it received upon re-launch in 2014.

Highly recommended. Respected Swiss perfumer Andy Tauer considers QUE SAIS-JE? to be a classic masterpiece that every perfumer must experience at least once in his/her nose training.
23rd November, 2016

Iris Ganache by Guerlain

A friend has gifted me with a generous sample of IRIS GANACHE. It may be that I am slightly anosmic to the chemicals in this fragrance, because, even wet on my fingertips, the effect is very faint and diaphanous.

I confess, iris is not my favorite perfumer's note when given a starring role, yet here, the sweeter notes make it seem less raw, rooty and carrot-y.

Funny, I do not detect the cinnamon, and the white chocolate is more of visual "fantasy note" here than a creamy edible. I'm amazed at those here who find the chocolate strong and sweet.

Yes, I get the initial feeling of APRES L'ONDEE... that "spring rain-wet violets" note that is lovely, feminine and nostalgic. The opening also seems to have a faint almond quality, with its winsome cherry-like nuance, but it vanishes quickly. I also have moments of being reminded of JE REVIENS, with its curious "vintage 60's hairspray" quality. The iris adds its slightly bitter, slightly aromatic rootiness to the mix, and with the delicately emerging sweetness, I do indeed get the "vintage cosmetics/lipstick" vibe.

I do agree with the post-er here who mentions the plastic-y smell of dolls' heads from one's childhood. But true perfumistas will agree that "plastic-y" is not necessarily a fault or putdown: it can sometimes have a fascinating, sleek quality, as it does in scents like Dior DUNE.

Interestingly, I smell the cedar-- it adds an unusual masculine baritone buzz to the Edwardian girl-y vibe of the "white" notes-- yet I am not detecting patchouly... unless it is just so exquisitely blended here, it serves more as a subliminal "body".

All-in-all, this is a pleasant but faint and somewhat "un-fleshed-out" or "unfinished" perfume. I don't think I could covet this and weave my life around it as others here seem anxious to do. But maybe its transparent simplicity is exactly what's good about it.
02nd April, 2016

Kiste by Slumberhouse

Received my full bottle of KISTE today. Yes the pricepoint is a bit dear-- $160 US-- but the nice matte embossed black box, and the hefty flacon, resembling a hip flask, are rewardingly luxurious.

At first spritz, I immediately noticed that the whole mix rests on a patchouly note, but a patchouly so diluted as to give one an earthy "aura", more than the musky "head shop" note itself.

A whiskey note blooms, and it is scintillating, amber, boozy-woozy, and very dark oaky indeed, like the deep mysterious oakiness of Serge Lutens CHENE. Mingled with the deep ruddy oakiness is a hint of smoldering campfire, a smell I associate with Andy Tauer.

The bold peach accord blooms, and it has a sweet, vivid, rounded quality-- it smells radiantly vermilion in color, like the stone fruit in Michel Roudnitska's NOIR EPICES. It is bewinged with honeysuckle and summery floralcy, and also deeply jammy with sucree strawberry and ripe melon-like fruitiness. This is not the old waxy Aldehyde C-14 peach, but a new one that smells juicy and ruddily vivid, like an achingly ripe plum whose yielding skin you've just pierced with your thumb.

The sweet tea note in the drydown is warm and reassuringly Southern-folksy, not Asian/mysterious.

In drydown you are left with a deliriously fruity, jammy scent with a brandy/whisky vibe, and the hint of distant burning tobacco smoke.

This is a decidedly modern scent, it is not "haute perfumey" like an old French classic, with infinite layers and sly olfactory illusions; rather it is a beguiling, fruit-sweet deliciousness, with a warm, reassuring folksy tobacco base. It has a delirious, euphoric quality, that, as others have said about Slumberhouse, transports you to a halcyon Deep South of the Great Depression era. It is a very *kind*, welcoming, hay-ey smell... It smells honest and forthright, like Jimmy Stewart.

It's not intended to be slick, flash or urbane, though the whiskey, tobacco and patchouly notes instill a real sophistication, and, in their woodiness, prevent the perfume from being considered a true gourmand. (Can a fragrance be deliriously, sweetly fruity... yet not be a Gourmand? KISTE is, I think.)

KISTE uses the note of peach better than any modern scent out there; in fact, it's the nicest peach I know of since the Patou 1930's scents, like QUE SAIS-JE?

In short, an amazing modern Fruity/Woody/Smoky. Unisex. Low sillage (throwing a cloud) but huge substantivity (lasting long on the skin). Suitable for Day or Evening, casual or formal wear. If you have been looking for a good modern fruity for your scent wardrobe, look NO further.
07th January, 2016
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Aramis by Aramis

I'm glad to see all the love lavished upon ARAMIS here. I suspect the fragrance has become somewhat fashionable to diss or ignore... yet really, it is a great fragrance.... filled with wonderful subtleties that develop over time. It has nothing to be ashamed about. Hardcore modern perfumisti are wise to give it a new unprejudiced go, noticing its gorgeous chypre/leather qualities, and stunning hints of gardenia, jasmin, cumin, birchtar, moss, patchouly... its compelling sillage and drydown.

Many reviewers here think of it as extremely manly, even exaggeratedly so (like, say, a BRUT or OLD SPICE).... yet that "pornstache" aura is only in hindsight: When ARAMIS was released in macho 1965, its floral/patchouly qualities were thought to be daringly sensual, sybaritic... ie., so dreamy and luscious and hypnotic that they almost seemed unmanly at the time. This was long before fragrances like JOOP! and FAHRENHEIT would boast some unabashedly "pretty" fruit and floral notes.
06th February, 2011

L'Air de Rien by Miller Harris

I've purchased a full flacon of this.

A most unusual modern scent, no other scent like it. What is interesting is that none of the notes suggest anything alive, living, growing, floral, fruity, green, edible; no, the entire scent is an exploration of inanimate, and even old things. this is not a pejoration, for the result is quite pleasing.

Bright, oleaginous opening notes--- again, devoid of any citrus or botanical or fruit allusions---- smell very much like the solid yellow paste wax used to polish parquet wood floors... mingled with a sweet pipe tobacco. A dryish amber emerges, rather masculine, wedded to notes of "stale joss sticks" (as Luca Turin puts it), a curious leather note reminiscent of a newly opened can of tennis balls; a hint of a musky, not unpleasant human fetor.

The drydown is a curiously intimate, pleasant, nutty funk, reminiscent of dirty human hair and a quaint, barbershop-py midcentury men's macassar, like WILDROOT OIL.

And there you have it! The end result is a pleasingly funky ambered-leather, with a tight skin-level sillage. Leans toward the masculine, but is surely unisex. The ultimate lazy Saturday afternoon scent to be worn with jeans, t-shirt and leather jacket.

Many have said that this scent reminds them of London in the 60's or early 70's. That is a very apt observation... I would agree that there's something "Midcentury" in L'AIR DE RIEN. Plenty of people will not like this scent; it's definitely for sophisticated noses. The pricetag is also quite expensive: $160 for 100ml.
09th October, 2010

Habanita by Molinard

HABANITA is a marvel and a treasure.

On application one is greeted by a bitter green accord of bergamot, galbanum, peach and tobacco. As it dries down, a sensuous oriental base gradually appears... vanilla, amber, tonka, patchouly, musk, vetiver. A delicious and provocative accord of spicy cinnamon, jasmin and rose, a desert-like sandalwood and spicy lavender glows as the middle notes, linking the two.

Unlike many Orientals, the base sweetness is never allowed to come unescorted to the fore... a bold--- some would even say harsh--- bitter accord always stands sentry "out front" of the scent, and never goes away, even in remote drydown.

HABANITA takes its place among great "Art Deco" orientals like SHALIMAR, MAJA, EMERAUDE, TABU. Of those scents, it is perhaps the boldest and most "challenging".

Sophisticated, strong, dense, focused and bold, in a way that few modern fragrances are, HABANITA is for true scent lovers. It is the very antidote to modern, transparent, bland, synthetic scents. The bold bitter tobacco and warm spice makes HABANITA suitable for men as well as women.

In my own case, I have re-discovered HABANITA after five years or so... I never thought it would be "my" fragrance... but now I am smitten with it and must have a bottle.
10th August, 2010

Charogne by Etat Libre d'Orange

JUICY FRUIT chewed at an open-casket viewing.

Utter perdition and detritus mixed with the most tongue-smacking, sweet, candylike, smiling gustatory deliciousness.

Remember when British Saatchi artist Damien Hirst came up with his collection of paintings celebrating medicines, hospitals, capsules, flasks, pills, colored elixirs, medicine labels? This is the milieu to which CHAROGNE takes me.
But we must never forget that CHAROGNE is about Death. That Big Thing. By giving it that very name, it appears ELD'O makes no bones about the fact that there is a Death allusion underfoot. Some reviewers have even given CHAROGNE the nickname "The Exquisite Corpse". Not rotting--- but caught just in time....freshly embalmed with formaldehyde, powdered and cosmeticized. Pretty as you please.
It's kind of like Tim Burton's CORPSE BRIDE. She's so beautiful, so gracious, so sweet, so charming, so lovable, so attractive. But there's just one thing: She's Dead. Dance with her, caress her, court her, kiss her even.... but you can't marry her.
That's how CHAROGNE operates: Sweet, mixed- fruit-flavored CERTS scrounged from a kidskin purse, plastic toys, cellophaned flowers, and.....uh.......Death. Like Damien Hirst's genuine human skull, encrusted with thousands of real diamonds. It's beautiful, it's Art, it's precious... and it's Dead.
This, to me, makes CHAROGNE even more taboo and outrageous than ELDO's other bad-boy, SeCReTIONS MAGNIFIQUES. Yet it is anything but a dark or emo or Goth scent. Au contraire.
Do I love this Post-Modern fragrance? Like you wouldn't believe. Going on my third bottle of it.
23rd May, 2010

Muscs Koublaï Khän by Serge Lutens

I love this one.... a friend retrieved me a bottle from the SHISEIDO salon under the operahouse in Paris... And it is worth the $200.

To me this is a masculine smell... sweaty young male torso... like the smell of a white cotton t-shirt worn all day on a summer day by the hunkiest, handsomest 22-year-old, tattooed, goateed, dirty auto mechanic you know.

It is undeniably animal, yet has a close-to-the-skin sillage, and can be blended beautifully with other musk-based scents, like SHALIMAR, f'rinstance.

If you prefer the musk family of fragrances, as I do, you may well have found your Holy Grail.

Lovers of MKK will be happy to know that it is now available Stateside at LUCKYSCENT in Los Angeles.
19th February, 2010

Agent Provocateur by Agent Provocateur

I was introduced to AP only today (February 2010).

I do so appreciate the high retro glamour of it.

And I was floored by the "naughty" note it possesses...

I think of other "skank" fragrances I am familiar with: Rochas FEMME, HABANITA, MUSCS KOUBLAI-KHAN, BOUDOIR, KINGDOM, even KOUROS...

but nothing compares to the explicitly unwashed vaginal note present in AGENT PROVOCATEUR. Sorry if I call a spade a spade.

A great "date" perfume... nothing could be more seductive. But I cannot imagine a woman wearing this to the office, the opera, to church or to a PTA meeting. (-: I can't see it worn BEFORE 10:00pm at night even.

I actually find the bulbous pink flacon to be...well.... kind of ugly and brutish-looking.

I give AP high ratings, though, for its retro glamour... its uncompromising strength and for its sheer audacity.
19th February, 2010

No. 5 by Chanel

I had forgotten that No. 5 debuted before Guerlain SHALIMAR (1925), because No. 5 definitely smells more "modern" to my nose.

People say they don't "get" No. 5.... I feel that No. 5 is all about that urinaceous musk note in the base, and all the other notes are simply the dazzling camouflage leading to the unveiling of the musk...

No. 5 smells like a woman who bathed herself, powdered herself, and peed herself, in that order.

What's amazing about No. 5 is its curiously "vacant" quality.... there are so many notes going on in this fragrance, yet they combine to form a scent which is none of its components; rather, it's a kind of diaphanous veil....

Perhaps the masterstroke of No.5, IMHO, is that vetiver in the base... it is a kind of stern resiny-woody quality which imbues great serious to the overall fragrance.

One thing which must be said about No. 5 is, it always surprises. Everytime you catch a whiff of it on yourself or others, there is always that initial surprise; "Oh! What IS that?" And any fragrance which can command that response is well on its way towards being a classic.

I have long thought that the powder note in CHANEL No. 5 is a dead-ringer for DESENEX Foot powder. I cannot retract that critique, because it most certainly does smell like DESENEX... Or maybe it's vice-versa....

Another interesting quality in No. 5 to me, is that curious middle-note, which to me, smells something like salted butter, or buttered popcorn. Or maybe even roasted cashews. It's a totally unexpected salty-sweet buttery note--- it smells 'horizontal' to me, whilst all the other qualities in No. 5 smell 'vertical' to me!---- which provides the gateway to the basenotes....
16th April, 2008

Dzing! by L'Artisan Parfumeur

DZING! is one of those scents which is famous and infamous for both the same things: Cotton candy + sawdust + gasoline + wild animal excreta.
Both the haters and lovers of this amazing fragrance will usually detect these very frankly... But this just proves that beauty is in the nose of the beholder... For many, this curious foursome of notes conjurs up funfairs and circuses; other people cannot get past one or two of the notes... This is a fragrance for Advanced perfume lovers only... it's modern and evocative in evety way. In a way, mixing animalic notes with balsams and sweet vanillic components is a time-honored formula in Western perfumery... This one just does it with a new postmodern twist...
I do agree tat this fragrance is too evanescent... But were it any stronger, folks might just start wondering where is the tiger who peed on you.
Love it!
30th March, 2007

Sécrétions Magnifiques by Etat Libre d'Orange

I love this one. I think it's very innovative and very chic in its own way.

I don't get p**** (We'll leave THAT note to AGENT PROVOCATEUR).

I don't get semen (we'll leave THAT note to Davidoff COOL WATER), but I do get milk.

Milk and saliva and metal.

Picture this: at breakfastime, your three-year-old has abandoned his bowl of CHEERIOS. Left his metal spoon in it, and it sits on the table throughout the day.

You smell that bowl at 5pm when you return home. THAT'S the smell: milk that's sat too long, a vague edible sweetness, and sharp metal that's sat in milk all day.

But curiously, I like it! In summertime, it goes on as a fresh, sweetish, slightly metallic skin scent.

I think ELd'O's visual marketing campaign makes people smell things that aren't there.
03rd March, 2007 (last edited: 23rd May, 2010)

Black Orchid by Tom Ford

A great, great modern Oriental. Surprisingly natural smelling for a big mainstream fashion house.
The opening notes are amazingly balsamic and natural. Those who love the great Orientals in history will find this a must-have. I love the quirky flacon, too... The lettering looks as though it was done with one of those old DYMO tape labellers... intentionally designed to look a wee bit "cheap"... but in a tongue-in-cheek, <> way. Bravo.
03rd March, 2007
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Cumming by Alan Cumming

This one just may be a new quirky masterpiece. It is a most dignified melange of dirt, peat moss, mushrooms and old leather. It may be thought of as the cutting edge answer to old scents like Creed TABAROME.
I do not get any of the "naughty" elements sometimes ascribed to this frag; instead, I get an English rugby team in June of 1917... leather, earth and tobacco.
03rd March, 2007

Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent

The measure of a "nose" is how well he or she can appreciate challenging fragrances... the fragrances which do not demand to be loved immediately ... the ones which contain some "dissonance", as in jazz music... KOUROS is definitely one of those fragrances. Among the fresh notes of lime, honey, amber and leather are indeed notes of civet and musk which are not unlike tomcat's piss. And therein lies the magic of the fragrance. People who truly know and love the finest of fragrances know that purely "sanitary" scents are a little bit boring... the best fragrances have a hint (or two) of the salacious about them. A soupcon of raunch. KOUROS does remind me a bit of Creed ORANGE SPICE, but the Creed is so heavy-handed and cloying... KOUROS lingers in just the right way. If anything, KOUROS's spiritual ancestor is the original SHOCKING! by Elsa Schiaparelli in the 1940's, another scent which was "shocking" because it also had a provocative note not unlike urine. Legend has it that Schiaparelli sniffed the culottes of Parisian ballerinas as inspiration for SHOCKING! KOUROS, while modern, was really a nostalgic fragrance in many ways when it emerged in 1981.
03rd March, 2007

Ellen Tracy (new) by Ellen Tracy

A previous reviewer called this one VERY WEARABLE, and that is exactly right... It is a modern, light Oriental just perfect for summertime. It kind of smells like a 1960's sandy beach babe or sorority girl to me... in the best way. More women of all ages need to be turned on to this unique, beautifully balanced and blended fragrance.
03rd March, 2007

Cuir de Russie Parfum by Chanel

Gentle, intelligent, and luxurious in the extreme... The pure parfum is the way to go here, although, granted, it's very expensive (circa $165 US).

A burst of sweet mandarin and bergamot, followed by seas and oceans ofr tender, sweet, almost fruity violets. All seated upon a bed of earthy, animalic musk, castoreum and civet. Yes, the civet does imbue the scent with a cow-pattie like quality, but to me this quality is pastoral and reassuring, not repulsive. The overall effect is like old leather boots striding through a spring flower garden where violets grow and cattle have grazed.
A gem of a scent to love and treasure forever.
03rd March, 2007

Angel by Thierry Mugler

I like ANGEL. This is one of the few fragrances I know in which the masculine version (A*MEN) smells very similar indeed to the feminine version. In fact, as a reviewer here has noted, the feminine version may even be more assertive than the masculine version. Certainly the feminine version has a more pronounced menthol and bitter cassis note in the head, which to me, greatly offset the sweetness of the candy notes. This fragrance really is genius... I think that patchouli goes surprisingly well with the sweet notes; I love patchouli, and will never complain that a fragrance has too much of it. It is possible that this fragrance-- as with, say, POISON or KOUROS in the past-- is a great fragrance suffering from its own popularity. A fragrance can lose a bit of its cachet when everyone cottons onto it.
15th June, 2006

L'Heure Bleue by Guerlain

Nothing I can say can add to what has been said here, although I can honestly say that everyone here is correct: both the lovers and avoiders of this fragrance. Perhaps that's a hallmark of a truly great fragrance, in that it can withstand both praise and rejection... This is especially true of LHB. It is so magnificient, it is a whole mindset unto itself. Utterly unlike any other fragrance you are likely to try, it could only have been composed by one of the most sensitive, discerning noses in history. It has been said that LHB is melancholy, adn that can scarcely be argued; it's not gay in mood. It is old-fashioned, but only in the sense that all the fragrance components are utterly natural smelling. This is-- pardon the snob appeal-- a fragrance for people who truly know and love fragrance and the psychological magic it can wreak. It is like a bottled sigh... or a bottled soul. I suppose it is Oriental, but it almost reads as a Fruitee to my nostrils... no doubt on account of the Orange blossom/bergamot attack and the cherry-like quality of the Heliotrope-- a major note in this fragrance. Unlike other more traditional Orientals, however, it does not posses a santal note that I can perceive, although patchouli is definitely present. As mentioned above, there is a darkish note au fond of the mixture, which is certainly vetivert. I also feel there is some menthol in the midrange of this fragrance, as well as perhaps another note which, on its own, would be brackish or medicinal-- but mixed delicately and ingeniously as it is, it merely buoys up the floralcy, and confers a nut-like warm "shelf", midway through the development of this fragrance. I can honestly say that this, and SHALIMAR, are my two favorite fragrances of all time, bar none. I am a man, and wear both of them quite comfortably and willingly. LHB is a majesty, a work of art, a classic.
23rd February, 2006