Reviews by catnip_too

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    catnip_too
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    Bamboo Harmony by By Kilian

    It opens with a blast of citruses. The citruses gradually subside but don't seem to disappear entirely. The gentle neroli is emerging almost immediately as well, and the floral aspects become more pronounced. The florals remain very subtle. Despite the name, the woods are very light and abstract, too, so if one expects a traditional woody fragrance, they will be disappointed. I, personally, don’t sense the fig that is supposed to be here. Bamboo Harmony smells green, but not astringent in any way. When the mate makes an appearance, it is understated. In fact, I have a problem describing this either as a woody or tea scent.

    Bamboo Harmony is fresh, sparkling, and effervescent. The base is pleasantly clean, not as green as the initial and middle stages. I admit that this fragrance didn’t wow me, but it kept growing on me. It feels natural to my nose although I am pretty sure the company uses a lot of synthetics. I've seen comparisons with Bvlgari Eau Parfumee au The Vert, and such comparisons are apt. However, Bvlgari's is a bit more linear and would appeal to those who want a more traditionally green tea scent. It is actually the subtle, soft spices which, interestingly, come through for me in the base, that make Bamboo Harmony slightly more intriguing.

    Bamboo Harmony will be best appreciated on a hot, humid summer day. It is perfectly unisex.

    08 May, 2014

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    Hasu-no-Hana by Grossmith

    No doubt, it is masterfully done. I can see why some people rave about it. If a fragrance has a color, Hasu No Hana would be golden honey. It is actually smooth and not sharp at all. I expected some sharpness from its being described as a chypre. I know honey is not listed as a note, but I can't help thinking it is exactly honey that I smell. The cedar and vetiver are well blended, barely perceptible although the cedar comes across better in the beginning. Of all the flowers, I feel the jasmine the best.

    This composition evokes long-gone opulence. I can imagine Marie Antoinette wearing it while she is taking a stroll in her favorite, private garden of Trianon. I realize that perfumery during her time was quite different, of course. Despite its luxurious, rich texture, Hasu No Hana feels surprisingly modern.

    16 April, 2014

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    Imperial Tea by By Kilian

    I love jasmine green tea, and I know it could be difficult to find a good, truly aromatic one. My current favorite is a type known as Jasmine Dragon Pearls. The leaves are actually hand rolled and scented with the delicate flower.

    Calice Becker’s composition strongly reminded me of a just-opened tin of Jasmine Dragon Pearls tea—the raw, dry tea in the tin, not the steeped tea in the cup. It is very realistic, and I even feel the characteristic, slightly bitter taste of tannins. I would not get this perfume for the jasmine itself. While there, the floral aspect is very subtle. Ultimately, it is a tea fragrance.

    Imperial Tea may not be a heavy scent, but I would not describe it as weak, either. It tends to persist on my skin, its verdant, tannic aroma not abating easily. I appreciate its realism, but I am afraid it might become a bit monotonous if worn throughout the day. In comparison, Bamboo Harmony, another tea-based scent by the same company, is more effervescent and lively.

    15 April, 2014 (Last Edited: 30th April, 2014)

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    La Fille De Berlin by Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido

    I admit I wasn’t overly enthusiastic or eager to try La Fille de Berlin. Although I love roses, I haven’t had a lot of luck with Lutens’s rose perfumes. Sa Majeste Rose contains a note that makes my stomach constrict in protest, and Rose de Nuit, despite its gorgeous opening, eventually turns sour on my skin.

    Well, La Fille de Berlin is very different from these. The composition opens with the unmistakable note of rose. It is not a pink rose; it is not a bright-red rose, either, but the soft petals of a dark-red, burgundy-colored blossom. It is not a fresh, dewy rose, and in fact, I don't find this perfume fresh at all.

    I really enjoy the scent the first couple of minutes. There is also another note, warm, slightly bright, and difficult to identify, which could be fruit, but I don’t find it prominent, and at any rate, it is fleeing. Then, the rose still stays, but the fragrance takes a slightly different turn: this time, the rose is accompanied by some metallic notes. Actually, they are not truly metallic—not like the metallic notes in blood accords, for example, and I suspect this allusion comes from the type of musk that has been used. It feels slightly dirty, and frankly, unpleasant to my nose. This is when I begin to sense the violet aspect as well, but violets do not become dominant on my skin, either. They remain a quiet, constant, and somewhat creamy presence.

    After 30 minutes or so, the dry-down is very pleasant, soft, and slightly sweet. I think rose lovers will appreciate La Fille de Berlin if they don’t mind whatever passes for “metallic” or animalistic notes here.

    15 March, 2013 (Last Edited: 08 April, 2013)

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    Santal Majuscule by Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido

    I had read the comparisons with Jeux de Peau, but I decided to keep an open mind. The idea of a novel interpretation of sandalwood, joined by my favorite flower--rose--and cocoa was nearly impossible to resist. It turned out that my mind had conjured a much more delectable olfactory image than what I discovered in the real Santal Majuscule.

    Upon initial application on the skin, the most noticeable accord for me was the one of roses. The rose is fairly mellow here and soft. After these initial moments, the familiar notes from Jeux de Peau assert themselves. Jeux de Peau never smelled literally of a buttered toast to me; rather it is an abstract allusion created by the combination of woody and spicy notes, and this is exactly what I find in SM as well. SM seems to vacillate between the mellow, almost potpourri-like roses perceived in the beginning and the strangely buttery woody-spiciness of JdP. The cocoa I detect is not literal. It is a vague note, which feels almost dusty. In the end, what lingers on my skin most perceptably is a softly spiced woody fragrance, similar to the base of JdP.

    06 November, 2012 (Last Edited: 12 November, 2012)

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    Trayee by Neela Vermeire

    Trayee strikes me as fairly complex and spicy. In fact, in the very beginning, all I register is spices. I distinctly sense the saffron and cardamom, which unfold warmly, rather than sharply, and afford this composition a cozy, inviting quality. I also detect a subtle fruity note, although the fruit is difficult to identify, along with very gentle leather. What my skin retains most, as the fragrance develops, is actually the saffron and its slight, underlying saltiness.

    Despite the many spices listed among the ingredients, Trayee remains soft on my skin. Actually, it reminded me of another Duchaufour’s creation, specifically L’Artisan Mon Numero—a similar use of spices and other, sunnier notes, with leather. However, Mon Numero contains something that I find vaguely unpleasant, chemical, and sharper. I can imagine Trayee worn by both men and women.

    21st June, 2012

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    Sweet Redemption by By Kilian

    Those who are already familiar with Calice Becker’s fragrances will undoubtedly recognize her signature style—the typical viscosity, the smooth texture, the sweet elegance of her compositions. I am not usually drawn to orange blossom perfumes, but I could make a happy exception for Sweet Redemption. The orange blossom is palpable immediately, and it is a good one. While in some other creations, such as Jo Malone’s Orange Blossom, it feels fresh and fairly light, here it is thicker, pensive in mood, and creates the illusion of trees in full bloom, with their blossoms dripping sweet nectar.This floral aspect is gently supported by jasmine.

    Sweet Redemption could best be described as a floral gourmand. It is sweet, but it doesn’t become too sweet. The vanilla is obvious, but it has been superbly blended, as I have come to expect from Calice Becker’s compositions in general. There is a faint rubbery note already familiar from Love (and stronger in Love to me; Love is also sweeter to my nose). Sweet Redemption has excellent longevity. I kept feeling it like a warm embrace all day long. It could be worn almost all year long, with the exception of the hot summer days.

    12 December, 2011

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    New York Oud by Bond No. 9

    It’s true: There are a lot of oud fragrances out there, but I was still curious about New York Oud. Some oud perfumes have been too harsh and “medicinal” for me, especially in their openings. New York Oud, however, starts very smooth. The rose is present immediately. It is a bright rose, which lends its voice to the smooth tenor of the oud and something vaguely citrusy. I am enchanted at this point… for a few brief moments.

    Then, to my disappointment, the rose’s voice begins to strain and fade. Another player comes on stage, bringing a more confused, chemical to my nose overtone to the composition (could be the combination with the orris root, although I am certain it is not entirely the orris root’s responsibility). This second phase lasts for about 25 minutes or so, and it is not my favorite. The ending is again soft, and the honey comes through, without becoming sweet. There is also another, more vibrant note (the vetiver?) in the dry-down, which is reminiscent of the brightness in other Bond 9 fragrances.

    Overall, I found New York Oud intriguing and luxurious--in an almost tactile way--and kept coming back to it. It is a unisex fragrance and lasts very well on my skin.

    20th May, 2011 (Last Edited: 10th June, 2011)

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    L'Ombre dans L'Eau by Diptyque

    (This review was written when I was part of the rose sample group, organized by 30 Roses.)

    This feels rather chypre, very dry, almost austere and even bitter. It's all about green folliage, and a lot of it. I am sure the rose is somewhere there, hiding amidst the stems, branches, and leaves, but it was obscured and humbled by the green notes. I wonder how I'd feel about it in hottest and most humid days of the summer. Right now, it is too dry for me.

    08 April, 2011

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    Aoud Roses Petals by Montale

    “Rose Petals” is an apt name for this fragrance. Unlike some others in the Montale Aoud series, for example Black Aoud or White Aoud, in which the rose is more of a dark, night rose, this truly reminds me of tender, pink buds on an spring morning. The oud here is the softest and most delicate of the series as well, but I can feel it quite clearly. It is most pronounced in the beginning, and it is somewhat high-pitched, compared to the deeper baritone of the oud in other Montale creations. On me, the oud remains as a whisper, a supporting presence to the rose and other soft spicy notes, even as it subsides in the background and lets the flower petals sparkle.

    I would recommend this fragrance to those who would like a gentle introduction to oud. Sillage is not as powerful as in others of the series, but rose lovers will appreciate it for both its wearability and playful mood. I like the depth of the oud and the almost creamy dry-down in Montale White Aoud, but I am careful when and where I wear it. Rose Petals would be safe as an everyday choice, and to me, this is an important consideration.

    On me, it lasts for a whole day.

    20th January, 2011 (Last Edited: 19 February, 2011)

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    Ta'If by Ormonde Jayne

    Ta’if is one of my favorite rose-saffron combinations. It is a full-bodied, spiced fragrance, featuring a purple, rather than pink or bright red rose at its heart. Some reviewers have commented on the peppery opening, but on me, the pepper dissipates quickly. It is also a fruity rose. The voice of the soft, ripe peach merges with the sweet murmur of the dates in a beautiful duet. I usually don’t like peach notes, but here, I find them tastefully balanced with the spices. In fact, everything—from the spicy saffron to the sweetness of the fruit—feels harmonious.

    Ta’if is not for those who want to disappear in a crowd. There is something exotic in its dark-colored petals. It is not for those who are looking for a soliflore, either, as this is not rosewater, but a multi-faceted scent.

    (To address another reviewer's question, I have tried and, in fact, really like Creed Fleur de Thé Rose Bulgare, but I think the two are very different. The latter, in its current version at least because I have not tried the vintage, is a gentle, pink, almost aquatic rose, lacking the spice and sweetness of Ta'if.)

    Ta'if would be, however, a must-sniff for lovers of oriental rose-based fragrances. It lasts for approximately 6 hours on my skin.

    03 January, 2011

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    Chergui by Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido

    I recently re-visited Chergui for the first time since last winter. My initial impressions have not changed. Chergui is a warm and spicy fragrance, which demands attention. The first feeling is, indeed, of a warm and dry breeze hugging me gently. It is a soothing, but at the same time insistent embrace, and I find it impossible to ignore. I can sense the dark honey well; then it quickly melts into the notes of amber and aromatic, bitter-sweet tobacco.

    Chergui manages to combine sweet and bitter notes in a pleasing harmony. It is a rich and “deep” fragrance, but not a loud one. Like other Serge Lutens perfumes, it tends to stay close to the skin. Something in it reminds me of an impressionist’s landscape—brightly-hued compositions, but delivered with soft brush strokes, without strong lines. It’s certainly worth trying by anyone liking spicy, moderately sweet fragrances. On me, it lasts fairly long. I appreciate Chergui, but I think it is a bit too masculine for me.

    22 December, 2010

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    Portrait of a Lady by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

    Portrait of a Lady opens with a burst of spices which tickle the nose pleasantly. The rose arrives amidst the spices, and it is surprisingly bright (brighter than I thought it would be). In fact, it strongly reminded me of my experience with Bulgarian rose. The rose asserts itself as a constant presence. The berries, slightly sweet, appear soon as well and are, actually, quite prominent in this initial stage. On my own skin, the incense makes a strong statement though it is softened by delicate musk notes.

    Overall, this is a softer, fruitier, and sweeter fragrance than I imagined. I can see how it could be perceived as baroque; yet, it feels completely modern. It is warm and spicy, with the rose still prominent in the dry-down. I think it will please rose and incense lovers, but it might disappoint those who have expected the level of maturity and sophistication that the rose in Amouage Lyric Woman, for example, emanates. Portrait could work well as an everyday choice, and it seems it is better suited for the colder days. I like it well enough, but I will stick to JO's Ta'if for a gently-spiced rose for now.

    Longevity of Portrait of a Lady is excellent! Sillage is moderate on me.

    20th December, 2010 (Last Edited: 26 December, 2010)

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    White Aoud by Montale

    The opening of White Aoud is fairly pungent, especially when smelled for the first time, and for the first couple of moments, it even felt somewhat chemical to me. The relatively sharp (medicinal?) top notes persist for at least about 10-15 minutes, and at this time, spices and flowers begin to compete for attention as well.

    At first they emerge rather tentatively, but gradually, the combination of saffron and rose takes the center stage. After about an hour or even longer, the fragrance settles down to its compelling, smooth, velvety base. The rose here is dark and inky—a rose with dusky petals, laced with saffron, which makes it slightly salty, before I can feel the touch of warm amber and the subtle vanilla surrounding it as a veil in the nascent night.

    Sillage is quite powerful, and it lasts for a long time on me.

    07 October, 2010

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