Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Odile

Total Reviews: 14

Elixir by Penhaligon's

Oh goodness. Gag. This was one of the few that I had to scrub nearly immediately after applying. A semi-competent, if generic, oriental lurking below a bile-conjuring sour soy-milk note. Revolting. Thank god for samples. I see other people find this agreeable so there must be something that just does not play nice with my chemistry.
03rd July, 2011

Tabacca by Costamor

My first thought: oh num. Second thought: Lolita Lempicka. Sadly, I never was able to move off the second thought. On my skin this smelled exactly like LL, perhaps a higher quality version. Yummy, but rather a tired theme. Exhausted really. Guess I never realized that what i liked in LL was tobacco. . .

03rd July, 2011

Monyette Paris by Monyette Paris

No, there's nothing ground breaking here. And yet this strikes a chord in me. Every summer season I find myself nostaligically longing for the times I've spent in my tropical homeland, Hawaii, and this, this SATISFIES me. I love it. Normally intolerant to anything un-french or un-chypre, sometimes this girl just needs something sweet, tropical, and incense-y in the dog-heat of summer and this is the one I turn to. Sophistication be damned in 89% humidity - I need something that transports me to tropical paradise. Monyette Paris oil is something I will revisit every summer. The perfect compliment to your beachy un-done hair, rumpled linen garb, and sun-bronzed skin.
03rd July, 2011
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Chypré Fruité by Montale

Competent emulation of the genre. Smells quite pleasant. Utimately not quite fully chyrpe-enough for this gal. Must be those darn IFRA regulations. The oakmoss has that shallow, fey quality to it, not Montale's fault I'm sure. . .you can tell it's not the real deal. Still far better than 95% of what you can find on the market today. I like it enough to consider full-bottle despite lack of ground-breaking originality. Don't try it expecting a modern-day Mitsouko. On me, long-lasting but subtle. Lady-like.
03rd July, 2011

Equistrius by Parfum d'Empire

Perhaps I am less discerning than some reviewers on this site, but in my opinion, why bother with Equistrius when you can simply get yourself some Dior Homme without special order at your local mall, for less $? They smell the same to me. Don't get me wrong, they both smell quite good. As a female Dior Homme has been one of my staples for years. Unquestionably unisex, if not outright one for the girls. You would do just as well as Equistrius. Not hating here, I just have some 'Homme and see no need to re-invent the wheel. Worth checking into if you don't already own a clone.
03rd July, 2011

Maharadjah by Nicolaï

This one's gonna be my next full-bottle. I too get the full-frontal assault of lavender, but the usually medicinal herb is beautifully tempered by soft spice - what appears to my nose as cinnamon, clove, patch, and perhaps some vanilla. Fresh warmth. I love the contradiction, the juxtaposition. It would never dawn on me to class this as unisex or masculine or feminine. It just smells damn good. Different. Wish more houses would explore the magic of lavender is such ways.
03rd July, 2011

Cuir Ottoman by Parfum d'Empire

Yum yum. This has that butch-meets-femme quality that I love so from Bulgari Black except this is more sultry than cool, more well-worn cowboy leather than kinky rubber. It doesn't blow my olfactory mind but it nonetheless quite delicious and and pleasant to wear. Full bottle worthy. A truly unisex and sensual leather.
03rd July, 2011

Wazamba by Parfum d'Empire

Phew. A surprisingly total scrubber for me. I couldn't wash this off fast enough. I am an adventurous cook and adventurous cooking was all this conjured up for me. Potent, ,exotic spices, just ones I'd prefer to season my cuisine with rather than my skin. I can get the same effect from sitting in the local curry shop for a couple of hours. Aromatic B.O. Pass.
03rd July, 2011

Terre d'Hermès by Hermès

To me this smells like a more masculine version of Dior Midnight Poison. Quite a bit heavier on the citrus but very similar in feel. I am a fan of Midnight Poison so I enjoyed sampling this. As a female I gravitate a bit more to MP, but I would still wear this one for myself if the mood struck (I also think men could wear MP). Ingredients seem quality - it's more distinctive and enjoyable than most of what's on the mass-market.
22nd December, 2010

Youth Dew by Estée Lauder

Repulsed upon first encounter, I have nevertheless maintained a strange flirtation with Youth Dew over the years that has finally morphed into something resembling fascination and respect. Sometimes my feelings border on like, certainly not love, but at least no longer utter revulsion. I remember sniffing the bottle at an Estee Lauder counter very early on in my first experimentations with fragrance. It hit me wrong in every way imaginable – the old-fashioned design of the bottle, the weird and borderline offensive name, the dank darkness of the juice and the far-too-complex –for- a- teenager’s- appreciation odor were just too much. As a young girl I simply thought the vile juice was marketed to little old ladies who actually must want to smell like little old ladies. I lacked the imagination or the grace to conjure up a time in history when this must have smelled new & exciting, possibly even *sexy*? Then, (and still now to varying degrees), the complete package of impressions fills me with an unexplainable sadness, the way that vintage trinkets in an antique store or old lace stained brown by the passage of time makes me sad. Ghosts of another time. Upon my first several encounters I personified Youth Dew as Miss Havisham - with her dead flowers and mouldering cake and tattered wedding dress - desperately clinging to something long gone that will never be again. A tragic spinster of a perfume.

And yet. . . and yet I can’t seem to leave well enough alone. I revisit and retry. I followed every board’s recommendation and got the bath oil and it indeed has a unique beauty all its own. It has grown on me, needled at me. I am nearly addicted to the cola-like notes and sometimes greedily inhale from my bottle, but I am rarely able to wear it and enjoy it without a hefty dose of self-consciousness and a modicum of regret. This smells anachronistic on me in a way that other, far older classics don’t strike me such as Shalimar, Mitsouko, or Habanita. It feels at odds with my personality & sense of self. This strikes me as far older than something introduced in the 1950s, closer in feel to ancient ceremonial spices. Despite my ambivalence however, I somehow find myself with a large collection of YD products including the EDP, bath oil, dusting powder and soap. Something about it intrigues me. As mentioned, the bath oil is the way to go – you can dab in nice discrete amounts – the sillage is soft but goes on forever. If you love this fragrance you are lucky indeed as it’s one of the best bargains around.

I can’t deny the comparisons to Opium & the similarities, however in my mind they are yin and yang to one another – Opium is smoldering heat and YD is coolly chaste. The “sex” in Opium is hot and passionate - tantric. In YD, it’s more like sexuality that has been suppressed, denied. Like unsullied, sad-eyed convent dwellers covering up their natural, female smells with the more “innocent” scents of powder and soap. Something about it unnerves me – a primal dark sensuality lurking below an artificial virtuousness.

This is not to say I don’t like it as a perfume, it just that it seems to invoke a melancholy that while sometimes can be solemnly lovely, is more often a mood killer. Somehow the vibrancy and animalic heat in Opium make it feel more contemporary, easier to spend the day with. I do hope my relationship with YD continues to evolve & predict that the bath oil will always be a part of my collection. Though I don’t enjoy wearing it often, I concede that it is an extraordinary scent, and sometimes a guilty pleasure I wear for myself when I’m by myself and don’t have to worry about the statement it makes.
21st December, 2010

Narciso Rodriguez for Her by Narciso Rodriguez

I must be anosmic to the musks in this because this smells almost precisely like nothing on me. Correction: it smells some Egyptian musk oil that has already been showered off. I get just the faintest aroma out of this, but what I can smell is quite lovely. Seems like it would be one of the nicest choices you could make at the department store these days. I'll never buy this one for obvious reasons - rather an expensive way to smell like nothing, plus I cringe at the thought of obliviously gassing out innocent passers-by with massive doses of this. Drat. Makes me wonder what other lovely things I'm not smelling & don't know about?
19th December, 2010

Jean Paul Gaultier Classique by Jean Paul Gaultier

EDP = vile. I tested the EDT in a duty free shop while traveling, loved the clean, shower-fresh feminine vibe of it. I either grabbed the wrong one, or must have thought that the EDP would be the same fragrance, just more concentrated with better longevity. Boy was I wrong. Others have pointed out that the EDP is a totally different animal; I would argue a stinkier, less desireable animal at that. If I had to sum this scent up in one word it would be sour. Sour, boozy spoiled fruits with acetone, cheap talcum powder, and a healthy dose of synthetic musk.

Picture this: you're primping yourself up for a night on the town, don some powdery feminine perfume, douse your head with hairspray, laquer your nails, apply some sticky, powder fresh antiperspirant. Scene 2: you're at the club, grinding with some sweaty men overdosed in cheap musky colognes, your sweat combining with your perfume, your pittstick, and those man-scents. You have two many glasses of red wine, followed by too many cosmopolitans. The rest of the night is a black out punctuated with some dry-heaving, too tired and sick to care to brush your teeth afterwards. The next day you wake, head pounding, sticky limbs marinated in sweat and god knows what else, mouth dry & noxious. Take a deep breath - inhale the myriad of scents. This is what Classique EDP smells like to me. Sound appealing?

I've given this so many tries, hoping that someday I'll end up with a different result but each time it has been a total scrubber. Every once in awhile I drift past a department store counter and sniff the bottle of the EDT - it still smells lovely - shower fresh as I remember it. I am tempted, but daren't give it a shot - I don't think JPG 'fumes are for me.
19th December, 2010

Very Irrésistible by Givenchy

Many years ago, when I purchased this, my tastes were quite different than they are now. I think the Liv Tyler marketing really sold me as she seemed the epitome of modern glamour/ sexiness to my much younger self. I was also into rose-based fragrances at the time. I don't think I ever enjoyed wearing this however - on my skin this turns into simply overripe synthetic fruits. Always cloying. I always regretted the times I pulled it out of my rotation. Eventually, my nearly full bottle made it's way to the donation bin. No desire to revisit.
17th December, 2010
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Mitsouko by Guerlain

I first became intrigued by this scent while reading The Collector by John Fowles (psychologically fascinating read, by the way). Inspiring more than one real-life psychopath, the book is about a disturbed young man who abducts a beautiful art student and holds her captive in the cellar of his remote estate. The captive-protagonist is vibrant, idealistic, compassionate, philosophical, dignified, and forcefully determined to live. She embodies a thrilling fullness of youth and passion and joie de vivre. She is the perfect foil to her emotionally dead, clinical, and hollow captor who lacks the ability to appreciate any of her remarkable qualities beyond just her physical beauty. In one pivotal scene, she has steeled herself to seduce her captor, her desperate will to live finally usurping her principles. She is certain she can melt his cold, detached soullessness by giving of herself; by showing him human tenderness and vulnerability she believes might inspire him to show mercy. Intent on her aim, she emerges resolute from a long, near-ceremonial bath wafting “oceans of Mitsouko.”

I found this scene haunting, weighty, chilling. From this time I have associated Mitsouko with solemn resolve, beauty with the strength and fragility of spider’s silk, uncertainty as deep and vast as the ocean. A fragrance associated with human spirit that has been pushed beyond its limits and has emerged from the other side stronger, more powerful, and with the realization of possessing a kind of freedom that cannot be taken by another. That simple description “oceans of Mitsouko” has stuck in my mind; I longed to experience it, and yet, for some reason this curiosity was shelved and forgotten. Now many years later I have finally tried Mitsouko for myself and it brings all these impressions and associations flooding back to me upon first sniff. Incredibly, this smells exactly as I would imagine it on the beautiful young captive in her damp, earthen cellar on a dark, isolated night, prepared to take on and defeat the worst of human nature with the best of human nature – compassion and forgiveness. Lovely, melancholy, beguiling, intoxicating, austere and yet warm, a touch sad, but also wise and knowing. Poignant. I do not think it was happenstance that Fowles chose to incorporate this fragrance as a sensuous detail into his eerie tale.

I have a teeny-tiny decant of vintage extrait; I suspect it has degraded a bit with time because on my skin the top-notes seem nonexistent. It cuts straight to a heart of overripe peach nestled in a mossy heart with just a hint of spice, mainly clove. I find this stays very close to my skin and almost melds seamlessly into my own chemistry. The voluptuous softness of the peach perfectly rounds out the sharper edges of the moss. I find it addictive, achingly beautiful, and unlike anything else I have experienced. Beside Mitsouko, all of my other favorite chypres (especially those by Bernard Chant) seem like they’re . . . missing . . . something. That round, soft sweetness reigning in the deeply hypnotic and expansive mossiness is utterly unique to Mitsouko (as far as I have yet to come across, anyway). Since sampling this, I simply don’t feel like wearing any of my other fragrances. I’m sure this will change with time, but right now I am under Mitsouko’s spell. I am awaiting a mail-order of the modern EDP and can only hope it will not disappoint me. I am hoarding this small decant of vintage, indescribably saddened by the knowledge that I might not be able to replace it; that eventually, this scent will cease to exist.

I don’t understand the reviewers who claim they don’t “get” Mitsouko. I guess I don’t see what there is to “get” – it is beautiful. End stop. I don’t get bread, dough, pickles, rancid nuts or cooking oil from this. It isn’t a fickle scent on my skin – she has been consistently lovely. Maybe I will understand when I try the newer formulation. Maybe I just got lucky with my chemistry. I find it timeless, quite more so even than sister-scent Shalimar. I have a wardrobe of fragrances others might consider “old lady” and though I enjoy them and appreciate them, I can understand where the “old lady” critique might apply. I don’t feel this way about Mitsouko. I am suddenly all but intolerant of the “modern” fragrances in my collection – they don’t speak to me the way Mitsouko does. They never have. I am also a little saddened to think this may be my one and only olfactory experience of this magnitude, no other fragrance has yet passed my radar that has carried with it such anticipation, such expectations, and so much weighty context. I will enjoy the search, however!
16th December, 2010 (last edited: 17th December, 2010)