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United States

Kobako by Bourjois

This is for the Osmotheque reconstruction, smelled on paper.

Chanel Cuir de Russie plus cinnamon. This is a smooth, suede-like leather in the mold of Chanel Cuir de Russie (as opposed to the butch Tabac Blond tradition). The different is that this is not as big in the florals, as the Chanel is, but adds rather a smooth cinnamon. Plush and elegant.

I have not smelled later reissues, but from other people's descriptions, I doubt they are particularly related to the original version.
17th April, 2015
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Smuggler\'s Soul by Gorilla Perfume [Lush]

I own the body spray. Zingy citrusy vetiver, dry woods. Refreshing, simple, clean, and natural smelling. Perfect for the gym, and a welcome addition to the fresh body spray lineup of the brand, after the equally good Dirty.
12th April, 2015
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Misia by Chanel

Rooty iris plus sweet violet candies (as in Chowder mints). Fresh and powdery, it recalls make-up, for a very retro effect.

This and La Pausa are the two Chanel iris studies in the exclusive lines. La Pausa is fresh and natural, this one powdery and retro. Both very pleasant and both good for both sexes.

I can't help thinking that Misia would be perfect for the 20-something now sporting Edwardian beards.
12th April, 2015
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Vacances (original) by Jean Patou

It opens with beautiful , refreshing, green flowers. Then, on my skin, it soon turns into a huge heliotropin cloud. No marzipan or almonds, just fluffy, floral heliotrope. Soft and comforting, and quite long lasting. If you are expecting a cocktail-filled vacation on the beach, this is nothing of the sort.

The fact that heliotropin has been declared sinful by IFRA makes me like this even more.

(this is for the 1980s reissue)
02nd February, 2015
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Archives 69 by Etat Libre d'Orange

Finally another full expression of Nagel's signature rotten citrus. That extremely sweet, sticky, overripe, sickly, almost fermented fume, curiously reminiscent of the olive oil used to cure vegetables. Almost disgusting at first, but intriguing, it makes you go back again and again until you can't help buy buy the perfume.

In the sadly defunct Theorema, a rotten orange gave depth to an oriental gourmand. Here, a rotten mandarin injects interest in a fruity floral modern clean chypre. Without the rotten citrus, it would be a well crafted but uninspired piece. With it, it's a fun ride.

It feels like the intelligent sister of Nagel's nearly contemporaneous Armani Si', a potently sweet, annoying clean fruity-woody floral, which lacks Archives's lusciousness and fun.
16th October, 2014
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Jersey by Chanel

Something must be happening between my nose and my brain, because at first smell, Jersey registers as a total surprise: pear juice drink. Pear juice as in those silky, smooth, cream-beige colored things European kids my age would drink (the experience of course is lost on American raised people). Did they spike pear juice with some of the ingredients contained in Jersey? Who knows.

Nobody seems to have this association, so it's clearly my brain. More objectively, it's a smooth but fresh juice with the exact feel of Jersey fabric. Sweetish but not gourmand, elegant but not cold, clean but not functional. And above all, very unique, I cannot think of anything resembling it.

I cannot help but rate 5-star. Kudos also for bringing it out in parfum. It smells very similar to the edt, just more powerful and long lasting.

cacio
13th August, 2014
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Cuir 28 by Le Labo

Synthetic leather

An unashamedly synthetic leather devoid of any ambery sweetness or musky animalic plushness. Instead, a dry leather is made drier and fresher by hefty doses of vetiver and woody ambers. (only in the far drydown there's a little bit of vanilla). The effect is a bit like rubber or some type of paint, and the composition would fit well in a CDG lineup. It's not up there with the leather masterpieces (Bandit, Rien, etc.), and as a city exclusive it is way overpriced, but good and fun.

15th September, 2013
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Iris Gris by Jacques Fath

monumental iris

This is for the Osmotheque reconstruction smelled on a paper strip - I only wish I could have smelled it on skin.

The fabled Iris Gris does deserve its fame. The first whiff is an unusually powerful, freezing, powdery iris. Chill, rootiness, and powder and turned on to the max, and there is none of the bready note of many modern irises (nor much carrot). Rather it is overlaid with a fruity, but not particularly sweet, fruit skin note, that however stays in the background and only peers out now and then. Luca Turin compared it to the reddish reflections on a dark bird, and I think that's appropriate, as the primary note is the iris. Overall, it gives the impression of a cold, impossibly elegant woman with whom no contact is possible. Several days later on the paper strip, the fruit has become more prominent, and the iris has developed an ancillary swampy, root-decay note, which however never takes over, and only adds an additional disturbing dimension to the composition. The reason why this perfume is not likely to come back is the fact that it clearly contains a huge amount of top quality iris extract, too expensive for current perfumery.

27th May, 2013
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Vétiver by Annick Goutal

Salty dry vetiver

An excellent dry vetiver. At the top, there is almost a pleasant rubbery note; as it goes, a salty, seaside note becomes prominent, giving the vetiver an even fresher, drier aspect. Of note, the formula is different from that of the current Eau de Vetiver (which may have substituted the older vetiver); the eau de vetiver is lighter and citric, and lacks the depth of the original.

27th May, 2013
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DXB Dubai by The Scent of Departure

Possibly the strongest and strangest frag in a light and apologetic line, Dxb smells like a smooth and sedate version of Petroleum in the regular (and upscale) range of the same house. Petroleum mixes a strong mineral synth oud note with a potent marine one, a striking but unwearable combination that reproduces a damp cave, or an oily bilge. In Dxb, these notes are toned down, especially the marine one, which makes the perfume more wearable, if a little less bold. But the effect is still striking even at this lower intensity. I strongly dislike marine notes, so I will not wear it, but those who like aquatic frags may find this interesting, and more affordable than the $$$ Petroleum. Cute bottle too.
20th August, 2012
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Pétroleum by Histoires de Parfums

Petroleum is part of the -m Editions rares trio, an experiment in marrying brutalist bilge notes to classical structures typical of HdP. One's liking of these experiments, then, depends on one's opinion on such marine notes. I am hypersensitive. That said, I do admire the effect of Petroleum. The union of bilge notes with the now pervasive synthetic oud-roses creates the feeling of entering a dark, cold, damp, frightening cave. Everything is there: the fresh, cold air (the ozonic effect highlighted by alfarom), a strong metallic, mineral material, the mold, and some unindentified decaying organism. Not that I would ever wear this, but smelling it on paper is interesting - in the same sense that smelling Secretions Magnifiques is. Relative to the sister Ambrarem, this at least seems to have a coherent structure and an interesting purpose.

The neutral rating is an average. As something to wear, this is strongly negative. As an experiment, it is positive. The point is, HdP seems to present this as a straight up, real perfume, not as a conceptual exercise (like Sec Mag), so the first criterion (wearability) is included.

cacio
21st July, 2012
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Ambrarem by Histoires de Parfums

The trio of -m Editions rares seems to me a brutalist experiment to marry disturbing, bilge notes a la Secretions Magnifiques to the classical, rich style of the HdP house. Much as I admire the conceptual experiment, I am hypersensitive to these notes, so, as alfarom pointed out, I find Ambrarem horrifying. It is the scariest of the trio. The metallic bilge note is amplified by the strong pepper in the top, resulting in a monster of uncommon evil. Besides, I feel that the bilge note has no relation whatsoever with the rest of the composition, a classical smooth amber, which gives the effect of a light oriental scent being brutalized by an attack of decaying zombies. In this sense, Petroleum, which is perhaps even stronger, smells less evil, as the bilge note doesn't feel out of place with the rest of the composition. But Ambrarem joins the undistinguished company of M/Mink and Tirrenico as the symbol of the unchecked, full power of these powerful, synthetic materials.

cacio
20th July, 2012
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Tiare by Ormonde Jayne

A green chypre in the classical style. Green, deep, rich, but very natural smelling and luminous. Citruses, light flowers over a nouveau chypre base. Compared to, say, Cristalle, it is less haughty and more floral. It feels richer and more complex, but at the same time fresher and more relaxed. Great longevity, and perfect for men too. As perfume critic Luca Turin argued, this is one of the few deep, rich, classical perfumes composed in recent years, what the big brands ought to be doing if they were not too busy with disinfectants for men or syrups for women.

A word of caution: I have never smelled the tiare flower, so I cannot comment on the faithfulness of the scent to the flower. But if the flower is similar to gardenias (as, for instance, in Manoumalia), this is not it. There's nothing stereotypically tropical here, we're firmly in the XVI arrondissement, or, perhaps, among XVI arrondissement Parisians who have loosened up a bit after a London stay.

cacio
20th July, 2012
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Futur by Robert Piguet

(Current version) A wonderful green chypre. As others have pointed out, Futur emphasizes both aspects of the genre. It is both very dark, vegetal, mossy, and very soapy. On paper, I had the impression that it became in fact too soapy, but on my skin, it maintains a good balance. Both more vegetal and more soapy than Givenchy III vintage, cleaner and less haughty than Cristalle, greener and more synthetic than Ormonde Jayne Tiare.
20th July, 2012
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Parfum d'Hermès by Hermès

Chypreish mixed floral (rose and hyacinth especially) with an overall dry, almost leathery, and powdery classical feel. But a little bit of a catch all: some citrus, some green, some flowers, some amber, some incense, some moss. Pleasant throughout, but rather generic. Apart from a brief, curiously oily, but sadly fleeting top (perhaps thick bergamot, or hyacinth), it lacks a bold structure or a striking note that makes it memorable.
05th April, 2012
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United States

Escada S by Escada

Generic rosy, sweetish, clean floral bouquet, with a mix of artificial floral notes (rose, freesia, and the like) and a touch of artificial fruits. A brief lemony top and a standard woody amber drydown. Thankfully not as sweet as the usual fruity floral syrup, not totally unpleasant, but utterly uninspiring.
(This was smelled as a part of a blind sniff.)
04th April, 2012
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Loukhoum Parfum du Soir by Keiko Mecheri

Pink fruity marzipan confection. It starts with a blast of almondy helitropin plus assorted pink fruits, it tones down a bit after that, but remains resolutely pink and sweet, with an added touch of pink from some rose and an overaly fruity baby powder fell. The confection is edible, but not satisfyingly so. Even less satisfying is it to wear as a fragrance.
(This was smelled as a part of a blind sniff.)
04th April, 2012
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Métal by Paco Rabanne

A terrifically fresh, dry, green floral sustained by a strange, compelling metallic and oily (in the sense of olive oil) note. I usually abhor the metallic notes in modern masculines, which come off as sharp and unpleasant. Metal, ironically, smells mineral but not at all like those horrors. In a way, it reminds me of Amouage Silver, which pairs a metallic note with rosy flowers. But while Amouage silver feels a little uncomfortable and risks falling into the fresh sporty metal at any time, Metal never veers off course and manages to smell fresh, floral and astringent throughout. It's slowly inching its way up among my favorites.
27th September, 2011
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Sécrétions Magnifiques by Etat Libre d'Orange

Abominable, unwearable, and intelligent. The press releases for many perfumes rave about skin and sex and pheromones. The ads display scantily clad women seemingly in the midst of spontaneous orgasms. The perfumes themselves are bland, insignificant, airheaded concoctions.

ELO goes all the way. SM is a simple floral defaced by a violent, metallic, rotten note reminiscent of decaying algae and seafood in brackish water. Human secretions? Only distantly. The metal vaguely relates to blood; there's definitely rotten milk; and the brackish water could recall the off-odor of a man who has eaten who knows what (asparagus concentrate?), amplified tenfold.

It's really a conceptual exercise. Being totally shameless in the imagery, and delivering an exceptionally novel and exceptionally disgusting composition. As with many works of arts, others might have different interpretations (futuristic? brutalist?) Kudos to ELO for actually selling this.

cacio
23rd January, 2011
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United States

Bas de Soie by Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido

After a nice floral opening, Bas de Soie briskly moves to a peculiarly repulsive metallic rotten note, distantly related to some of the components that make Secretions Magnifiques so compellingly abominable and delicious. Except that this one seems to be played straight.

But very few people share my horror. Most seem to perceive a bland but elegant iiris. I have never smelled pure iris, but I find no relation to the elegant, iris-rich Chanels. This makes me think that I am perhaps hypersensitive to some of the minor notes in Bas de Soie.

Baffling.
23rd January, 2011