Perfume Reviews

Reviews by the_good_life

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Total Reviews: 247

Per Fumum: A Sanctified Rose by Annette Neuffer

Per Fumum: A Sanctified Rose is probably my personal favorite in Annette Neuffer's portfolio of exquisite natural perfumes. To me it is primarily an incense scent, as the name suggests: aspects of olibanum dominate, noticably flanked by ever more palpable balsamic notes of benzoe, opoponax, beeswax themselves entwined with gentle woods and vanilla - typical of Neuffer's gracefully complex handwriting, every scent is woven into the others like in a fine Arab calligraphy. As Luca Turin noted about Avicenna texture and structure become one in a finely honed design. Labdanum plays and important role, but it, too, blends perfectly into the whole rather than sticking out like a dusty black thumb, as is often the case - aesthetically intended in the stark Vendetta pour homme, for example, and somewhat more ineptly in a number of House of Matriarch fragrances.

Per Fumum is a truly impressive work of ornamentation as purpose that reminds me of the visual beauty of noblest Persian art and architecture and one would need to approach it all to closely to recognize the stunning fine detail, while its grandeur and unity is only revealed from a distance. But where is the sanctified rose? It is unmistakeably present, at the heart of it all, to be sure, and yet more like a silhouette borne of the many entangled lines and figurations than as a presence of its own. "And if you are a rose, I am a rose shadow" spake Sufi Master Rumi. No image, but a (more perfect?) circumscription, that is the secret of Islamic art. In the contemplation of this deeply fragrant beauty woven from nature and artfulness, like a temple in Isphahan (place of roses) words and pictures are not amiss, becoming superfluous.
09th November, 2018

Portraits : Roaring Radcliff by Penhaligon's

Raddy always headed straight to the next Tesco after collecting the dole. He bought four packets of rum flavoring, three bottles of vanillin and two pounds of sugar in the baking aisle and the cheapest bottle of gin available. At the Boots next door he grabbed a £ 2.99 bottle of obnoxious aftershave. Returning to his filthy one-room flat in Whitechapel he lit a fag and started stirring everything together in a rusty old pail. As the dazing fumes rose around him he began singing old military tunes, while nestling himself into a ragged tassled polyester smoking jacket he'd bought years ago at Marks and Sparks. Finally, he raised the pail above is head and poured the juice all over himself; then, puffing and blowing, he began to march around the room, chanting, ever louder and at last screaming at the top of his lungs: I AM THE RIGHTFUL LORD RADCLIFF, I AM THE RIGHTFUL LORD RADCLIFF, I AM THE RIGHTFUL LORD RADCLIFF...
As always, the neighbours started knocking on the walls, then the police arrived, and, finally, an ambulance. Holidays in Bedlam seemed inevitable. They knew him well there already, old "Roaring Radcliff."


A vile syrup indeed. Screaming synthetics from the fake booze aroma through the headache-inducing vanillin-drenched tobacco to the throwaway screechy drydown. Another "Revenge for Gibraltar" insult of Penhaligon's heritage by Puig? No, actually, it's just global consumer capitalism at its profits-over-aesthetics best.
13th September, 2018 (last edited: 08th November, 2018)

Rose Bohème by Providence Perfume Co.

Like a Montale without synthetics and how ironic for this to have oud in the formula and not in the name - an inversion of standard procedure. It's a very clever perfume and it's title is fitting: the licquorous rose suggests dandies, divas, brocade, fin de siècle Paris or Vienna, but it is not at all syrupy thanks to the oud, dry saffron and varnishy fir. The patchouli blends in seamlessly. Beautiful.
10th September, 2018
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Tangerine Thyme by Providence Perfume Co.

A very nicely done play on the mediterranean EdC style with its herbal emphasis. It's really well blended, giving a tangy, full bodied, very slightly smoky/candied impression and the neroli adds its pleasant creaminess. No dirty basil like in Eau du Sud here; the thyme is green and herbaceous, but not overpowering. A smooth affair that will complement your white linen suit or summer dress, as you sit on the Promenade des Anglais sipping your café au lait.
22nd August, 2018

Vetiverus by Oliver & Co.

This is an interesting fragrance which has taught me alot about my olfactory perception. As oppposed to virtually all reviews I have read, I get an overpowering orange-osmanthus note from it that dwarfs anything else there might be in here. In fact, it is such an obnoxiously powerful presence I find it very hard to wear and not feel like a functional product stuffed with undeca-gamma-lactone (that peachy-mango smell from air-fresheners etc. pp.). I'm obviously hypersensitive to it (which would explain why I found the Jardin series by Ellena unbearable). There something vaguely smoky-transparent in the background whih might be the eugenol and vetiver, but it remains totally lopsided. But that's just me, myself and I...
17th August, 2018

Memoir Man by Amouage

The vintage version is brilliant. Amouage dared to release an anti-oriental that speaks less of Arabian deserts and 1001 nights than of casting runestones and burning bittergreen herbs to the mumbling of stave rhymed incantations under an ashen Icelandic sky. That bittergeen punch of minty green wormwood contitutes a formidable and memorable opening, more restrained than Josh Lobb would have it, but still with quite some punch. Ashy incense and wood emerge from the Nordic brushwork, brooding and craggy, unhospitable but of sublime beauty like a landscape of fjords and stony peaks. A good one for cool, moody days by the grey, windswept sea.

The watering down of Memoir Man in its current incarnation utterly destroys this marvelous effect and turns Thor into a weekend LARP-jerk.
12th June, 2018

Putting Green by Omerta

This is simply one of the best clones on the market - an excellent rendition of Eau Sauvage, which was itself "merely" (as in what Picasso could do with merely a stroke of charcoal) a classic Eau de Cologne transformed by a heavy dose of iso-jasmonate. The longevity is a bit lacking, but reapplication with this type of perfume and at the ridiculous price is not an issue. Forget dior and its fading star, just refill your vintage flacon with this.
26th May, 2018

Chocolat Irisé by Annette Neuffer

As Chocolat Irisé has once more proven to me, the fact that I detest with a passion the great majority of gourmand perfumes has nothing at all to do with the genre as such, but with its consistent cultivation of artificiality grounded in massive monomolecular overdosing. A good crème brulée can only be made with real vanilla pods, not vanillin flavouring, and a good gourmand requires a high percentage of natural oils with a complex olfactory spectrum. Sure, Jacques Guerlain's Shalimar contained vanillin, but it also brimmed with tonka, iris, 30% (!) bergamot, as well as jasmine, rose, birch tar, patchouli, sandalwood and more and more and more. The beauty of unobtrusive complexity!

And so we come to Annette Neuffers take on the oriental gourmand, Shalimar naturelle en cacao, so to say. The abscense of synthetics and the quality of the natural raw materials means that balance and complexity reign sovereign here; the perfumer's talent ensures that the chocloate-vanilla soufflé does not collapse into olfactory porridge; and the all-natural compositon prevents outré displays of sillage and intensity. It is, in sum, wonderful. The opening is powerfully citric-floral, I get stronger „orangey“ impressions from the tangerine over the tart bergamot and more white-floral aspects than rose (which, however, rises a bit later). Cocoa notes come into play very quickly and prompt associations of old fashioned hot chocolate made from the real thing rather than industrial powder. A wonderful olfactory baldachin of floral notes unfolds supported by the cocoa-vanilla scaffold, with the gentle iris building a bridge between florality and vanilla sweetness. The smokey earthiness of patchouli also gently holds hands with that aspect of the oh so multifaceted vanilla, the rest of the base remains softly at the back. Close to the skin you can cherish the lusciously complex exotic pod that our culture has so unjustly turned into a signifier of blandness. The whole composition settles down after about half an hour to a wonderfully woven skin scent with a gentle aura - gentle in no way connoting feminine here, but really a unisex quality. I actually feel it is the nose-searing loudness of synthetic gourmands tha project a sort of misguided hyper-femininity of the worst sort.

Chocolat Irisé is true to its name, a beautiful, classy, but easily worn pleasure scent recommended to all lovers of Guerlinade and traditional hot chocolate, friends of natural sweetness and spice, and those who have wondered why the can't handle gourmands, even though they love a fine dessert.
18th May, 2018

MAAI by Bogue Profumo

I must second the eloquent praise of the esteemed WhySoSerious, which reflects my own sentiments about Maai. It is a fragrance that brings a smile to my face every time, because it is so alive and vibrant, like the olfactory silhouette of an actual human being- a very sexy human being at that. Wearing it is like merging a second skin with your own. The green tuberose note is both elegant and - thanks to the aldehydes -sparkly, the animalics are present, though not in-your-face but rather exuding a gentle but insistent erotic tug - like the hypnotizing skin scent of your beloved. Warm resinous woods and mossiness perfect the experience, which is framed by an Art Deco sense of restraint - nothing here is garish and over the top and in fact Maai is far more wearable than most vintage animalic chypres, which may have olfactory bits and pieces protruding from them shamelessly, that are no longer considered as desireable as they used to be. Maai, then, is not tired retro, but neo-classicism at its best and it truly shines among the many half-baked, sterile, synthetic, lifeless, thin or screechy perfume wraiths that constitute "niche" today, a living, breathing, blooming, glowing beauty.
12th January, 2017 (last edited: 14th January, 2017)

Hepster by Annette Neuffer

Hepster was a term coined by Cab Calloway in naming his ca. 1938 Hepster's Dictionary of the slang used among the black jazz musicians of Harlem, who were hep cats and hip to the jive. I am not someone deeply immersed in the world of jazz, but its imagined smell, to me, is one of the thick air of night clubs, suffused by cigarettes, perfume and alcohol. Hepster, on the other hand, very much stands in the dignified tradition of English and Italian gentlemen's scents of the aromatic chypresque kind featuring citrus notes, herbs, a touch of florals, green notes and a dark and warm woody-spicy-resinous base. When I was grasping for analogies while trying to figure out this beautiful creation I thought of Blenheim Bouquet or Crown Perfumery's Town & Country with their straightforward citrus-herb-pine axis. But Neuffer's composition is far more complex and dense and the use of mint, pepper, juniper, nutmeg and balsamic materials inevitably reminded me of Lorenzo Villoresi's mid-90s italo-orientals such as Piper Nigrum and Spezie. "Blenheim Bouquet reformulated by Villoresi" became my shorthand attempt at contextualizing Hepster - but not to be misunderstood, this is a fully, indeed highly original work (because, for one, Lorenzo never did try his hand at a Blenheim). And there is quite some jazz in it, after all.

Hepster comes on with a burst of sax, trumpet and drums. The citrus accord is green and complex - it is not, thankfully, the clear and smooth smell of organic bathroom cleaner or washing up liquid - the dreaded lemon pledge effect! Rather, it has a textured surface resulting from the complexity of bergamot and lime and the impact of herbaceous notes - the gravelly juniper and nutmeg, the judiciously employed mint, that adds edge, but never becomes blatant here, and the ethereal treble of black pepper. And then there's a lifted, transparent vibrancy and gently animalic quality running through this which reminded me of the brilliant effect of genuine civet in classic fragrances - is it the magic of the hyraceum? Alas, this is the kind of masterful citrus complexity that characterized miracles such as the beautiful Signoricci II (vintage), delivering the olfactory equivalent of Arabic calligraphy behind the purported simplicity of a citric-fresh cologne. Such intricacy is what makes a fragrance gentlemanly: a refined, unobtrusive elegance that never vulgarly displays and yet ineluctably suggests a deep structure of erudition, integrity, sincerity. It is the complexity of technical mastery hidden behind the deeply moving rendition of a plaintive melody performed with seeming ease. And it doesn't end there. Very soon you are met by the heart notes and the balsamic base that provides, literally, a well-contoured body to the opening accords, adding further depth, and which corresponds beautifully to the warmth of one's own body (this is a great scent to apply while one is still steaming from the shower, the naturals just really come alive).

The green character of Hepster announced by citrus and herbs is confirmed by mastic and pine, which provide a decidely Mediterranean flair and add a refreshing boldness to the refinement ofthe topnotes. I only know mastic tears from Greek cuisine and have never smelled the absolute, but imagine it to be a very deep, balsamic green on its own that here blends wonderfully with the woody-green pine note (which features a new material from Robertet, Bois de Landes). The floral notes - iris, néroli and rose geranium - are masterfully tucked into the heart to envelop the powerful greens in soft creaminess, a wonderful example of harmonic contrast that the old English gent's scents used to pull off so well. At this point I wish Hepster would just continue forever, but then, it is what it is because it is a natural perfume. Only synthetic modulators and fixatives could extend this pleasure and I wouldn't want to pay the price of altering what is an aesthetically complete experience. My skin doesn't hold fragrance too well, but I do get a good ninety minutes of this phase, before it begins calming into a gentle ballad performed at the late-night bar by a laid-back jazz quartet. What you have for the next five to six hours is a calm, green woody-balsamic skin scent that makes you want to sniff yourself constantly. It's ultra-classic: incense, cedar, sandalwood, vetiver, patchouli, labdanum, oakmoss and hyraceum (with the green notes lingering on), but I cannot emphasize strongly enough the difference between a blend of these actual ingredients and a scent pyramid that lists them to describe ambroxan, santalol, iso-e-super and other synthetics. While these have their place in perfumery within limits, an all natural base accord is something very beautiful and special, all the more when it's so well crafted, and everyone should get to smell it as some point in their olfactory voyage. Nothing sticks out here in a coarse manner, it is a smooth pleasure cruise into the Aegean sunset. Speaking of which: if I wanted to match this perfume with a person, it would have to be Patrick Leigh Fermor, the brilliant Anglo-Irish gentleman-adventurer who travelled this part of the world so extensively and wrote so beautifully about it. He embodied and old world education and refinement that yet was cosmopolitan and eager to search out and engage with new places and people and this spirit of tradition and open-minded curiosity, the encounter of northern and south-eastern Europe no less characterizes the beautiful Hepster.
15th December, 2016

Le 15 by The Different Company

This is one self-deprecating 15th anniversary fragrance for an outfit called The Different Company. Basically a mindless clone of the legion of iso-e-super/cashmeran/incense fragrances that flooded the market in the 2000s in the wake of Duchaufour and Buxton's revolutionary "Series 3: Incense" for Comme des Garcons. Not a speck of originality here, as I see it - but maybe I'm missing a fine French sense of irony or something. Next!
06th December, 2016

Incense Royale by Sultan Pasha

Basically a very smoky, raspily woody vanilla, Bulgari Blackish, after a burning incense opening. It feels like it was massively pumped up with aldehydes (which are searing my sinuses) and like the other Sultan Pasha fragrances I've tried (Tabac Grande, Aurum d'Angkhor) it projects a hypermasculine aura I'm not too comfortable with. Quite a juggernaut, does not feel like a natural fragrance, more like perfumery on steroids. Not my cup of tea.
04th November, 2016

Tabac Grande by Sultan Pasha

Grande indeed - this is an "empire fragrance" - whether Ottoman or British, a statement of grandeur, power and hyper-masculinty. I perceive both this and Aurum Anghkor as brazenly alpha-male fragrances. Where Abdesalaam Attar/Dominique Dubrana's work, which is similar in that it links oriental and occidental traditions in its creator's biography and aesthetic, has the crystalline clarity of a soul fully in touch with itself and the world, Sultan Pasha's have a raw, almost overpowering masculine physicality to them - they don't caress you, they punch, but not in a lean fight club manner, but in Ottoman or Victorian style: richly brocaded, opulent, yet free of any baroque androgynity. Tabac Grande is defined for me by its axis of hard core tobacco leaf (no pipe sweetness), coumarin hay, and the cuminy-salty note of immortelle, and while it's impressive, I unfortunately react adversely to some of the synthetics in it (it is 90% natural), suffering from headache-inducing sinus-irritation. To bad as it's a less austere take on sheer tobacco leaves than the wonderful, but very straight-shooting Virginia by Lorenzo Villoresi. After all its rich pomp and circumstance it actually calms down rather quickly within 5 hours to a pleasant skin scent. Headache aside, it's a neutral for me due to the immortelle. In sum I prefer either the sweet pipe tobacco approach of Odori (my go to tobacco) and the unrivalled purity of the all-natural Tabaco by Dubrana, but that this is a very competent composition by a promising perfumer is undeniable, for which I'm ginving a thumbs up.
01st November, 2016
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Earl Grey by Angela Flanders

When finally managing to visit Angela Flanders' Columbia Road store on a Sunday, I was set on purchasing a fragrance as a souvenir of my London trip. I had already laid eyes on Earl Grey, which sounded very British and just like like my cup of tea, if you'll permit the pun. I nosed myself through a dozen or more offerings, some trad, some modern, but in the end, Earl Grey EdP was it (winning out over the attractively dirty Ambre Noir) - and I do believe this early creation of hers in some ways epitomizes Englishness and English perfumery. The integration of otherness, as Peter Ackroyd noted in his study of English character, Albion, is key to understanding the mentality and history of the scepter'd isle. As in the case of Gin Tonic, Paisley ties, and Earl Grey tea this scent makes something distinctively English of imported goods - bergamot and other citrus notes, oriental spices, rosewood and patchouli. The zesty bergamot is folded into what I perceive as the sweet green of lime and orangey notes - it is less refined than the gentle clear bergamot of vintage Farina Gegenüber, but not as pungent as sticking your nose into some perfumed tea of the same name. There are no tea notes at all in the fragrance, notably. What pops up besides the citrus immediately is a spicy melange of mace (the blossom of nutmeg, not the spray), coriander, cardamom and clove (which seem to have been favorites of Ms. Flanders, perhaps harking back to the spicy potpourri tradition) draped upon a bed of quiet bois de rose. Then there's what I perceive as a gentle patchouli, nothing near the earthy pungency of Villoresi's version, Montale's beastly Patchouli Leaves, or even the reference vintage Etro EdT. This is Anglicized patch free of dark foresty dampness, underbrush, humus, it's more Sissinghurst than Sherwood Forest, really. And there we are, this happy blend lingers about for a solid eight hours, with gentle sillage. It is well behaved, not at all sweet, smells natural, (more so, than, say, Cacharel pour homme) but in the slyly mannered fashion of an English garden that celebrates nature as improved by civilization. It lacks both the bodily eroticism and the abstract artfulness as it has defined classic French perfumery since Jicky, but you wouldn't want to wear Jicky to an afternoon tea at the Dowager Countess of Grantham's, now would you? Or even when eating clotted cream off your lover, for that matter. Earl Grey smells good and makes you smell good in a pleasant and unobtrusive manner, striking just the right Victorian balance of good taste, all-the-while coming off as utterly unslick; this is not the work of a Duchaufour or Morillas for Penhaligon's, that self-parodying simulacrum of Englishness wrapping itself around industrial perfumery, but the work of a dilettante as that word was understood in the 18th century: a devoted amateur who delights in a field with no primary pecuniary interest. Earl Grey is a fine fragrance indeed (and I do wonder whether it didn't partly inspire Jo Wood's Usiku, a spicier, ethno-new agier take on the same theme). The only place you can try it and buy it is in the two London stores on Columbia Road and in Spitalfields - a form of exclusivity far more preferable than the usual niche approach of charging astronomically high prices in no way justified by commensurate quality. Luckily, orders can be placed through the website, but, needless to say, the full experience is going to the places Angela Flanders so carefully laid out as a little English "Gesamtkunstwerk," the memory of which will infuse the fragrances you purchased with an added dimension.
29th October, 2016

Sauvage by Christian Dior

Generic ambrox dreck slandering the name of one of the greatest men's fragrances ever. After LVMH's minions at Guerlain have thoroughly destroyed the former grandeur of the iconic brand of French perfumery, their proconsul Monsieur Demachy is now presiding over the total demolition of Edmond Roudnitska's heritage at Dior. I wonder how, as a perfumer, you rationalize that without getting guilt-induced ulcers in your nose.
05th October, 2016

No. 33 by Penhaligon's

Very unclassy of Penhaligon's Spanish owners to celebrate the company anniversary with such a drugstore-designer quality scent. Is it really revenge for Gibraltar, then? If anything, this should have been Sartorial, Bertrand Duchaufour's clever old-fashioned gents' Fougère Cologne with an ozonic makeover. While that was a good joke and an interesting perfume, this scrubber merely reeks of cheap synthetics from top to bottom and cannot maintain any claim to luxury perfumery (and niche is bad enough these days, as it is) with a straight face. It's vain to discuss "notes" that are just cheap "copies of copies" to quote Fight Club. Sterile citrus, metallic floral and the cheapest Ersatz-tobacco since Tabac Original, drenched in dihydromyrcenol and ambroxan, do manage to irritate my nose uncomfortably. Better to be done with this Victorian fake in a merciless Fight Club manner indeed and shop for some proper English gentlemen's grooming at Geo. F. Trumper's.
17th August, 2016

Feuilles de Tabac by Miller Harris

It's a nice little thing to wear on warmer days, really more of a citrus cologne with a bit of masculine ornamentation than a serious perfume with a masculine (or any) narrative arch. More synthetic than I recall it to have smelled years ago. In terms of tobacco, it doesn't hold a stick to my favorites by Odori and La Via del Profumo. Not worth full retail.
10th June, 2016

Timbuktu by L'Artisan Parfumeur

I may just be a paranoid old fart, but I would swear an oath in any court this was a different scent years ago, when I had a sample and loved it. What I just bought myself for X-mas (the new box) reeks of cheap soap laced with white pepper and is clearly chock-full of the laundry detergent aromachems I have everlong detested and always will. I couldn't possibly have liked THIS at any point of my fragrant career.
24th December, 2014

40 Love for Men by Jean Desprez

Zizanie has it down. 40 Loveis a sport fragrance in the old style - not fresh, but sweaty. My bottle may be somewhat corrupted, there are no citrus topnotes (left?). There is exactly what Zizanie describes: nitro-musks, castoreum, bit of civet with dark greenish florals (a greenhouse at dusk) and some sweet resinous notes (labdanum and opoponax, perhaps). A masterful blend.
03rd June, 2014

Norma Kamali Incense by Norma Kamali

Transcends perfume as commercial product. Or simply something that smells nice. Transends perfume as craft or art even. It manages to capture the entire cultural, sacral, ritual dimension of incense and incense burning, the presence of the divine, the link to a higher realm, the spiritual becoming one with the animalic. Completely uncomprimising, one of the greatest olfactory statements ever on the human condition. Beautiful, beatitude, a moment of experiencing, unadulterated, the "terrible sublime" that is the cosmos and our existence.
03rd June, 2014

L'Essence de Cerruti by Cerruti

Sorry for being the party pooper. I guess I've simply disconnected from the contemporary world of perfume. This scratchy no-budget scrubber certainly marks the Essence of how the business works today. I honestly cannot tell it apart from some nauseating Axe product or similar drugstore fare. Makes my nose hurt. It's not even trying to smell good or interesting. Simply revolting.
31st May, 2014

Theorema Uomo by Fendi

Brilliant bittergreen citrus wood

Intelligent citrus fragrances are hard to come by - there's a great challenge involved in constructing a perfume that needs to casually refresh while providing complexity and depth. I would go so far as to say that it requires a great master perfumer to pull it off - but that is certainly a title Jacques Cavallier can claim for himself and he proves it again with Theorema Uomo. Theorema gives you a crisp freshness of bittergreen citrus, but the bergamot is cleverly supported by a seamlessly integrated geranium note that provides volume and a bridge to subtle spicy notes blending pepper and cardamom and woody vetiver-cedar. An equally toned-down but essential warm powderiness with a touch of the sweet (sufficiently controlled by the green citrus-woods) takes up the dusky green vetiver heart in the quiet ambery base, which is lightyears from conventional perfume-rednexck-style ambrox-assaults. Theorema Uomo embodies the high art of French perfume blending to achieve an expression of sublime and seeminlgy effortless Italian elegance complementing the look of a perfcetly tailored, airy summer suit by Attolini.

Pros: fresh spring-summer marvel, brilliantly layered composition
Cons: discontinued

04th July, 2013

Scilla Cariddi by Gianni Campagna

A wonderful, rather taditional soapy clove with herbal-green citrus on top and some spicy-sweet Christmassy embellishments (nutmeg, vanilla). Very well made (by Forester Milano of former Czech & Speake, Caraceni and Tremlett fame). This line never really got off the ground, which is a shame in view of the quality of this fragrance, as well as the stunning Vento Canale.
15th March, 2013

04 / Boisé by Patyka

Very nice - to me the minty aspect dominates the fresh half of the fragrance, with pine and grapefruit at the back. Besides the cedar I get a typical earthy-musty patchoulinote amoing the woods, which makes for a well-executed contrast with the freshness. A very polished natural perfume with more in it than meets the eye.
04th March, 2013

Buckingham by Crown Perfumery

If some know-it-all twat comes along blabbering on about how this or that perfume smells "totally like old man" you give him a good sprayful of Buckingham straight in his face - that'll teach him. Because Buckingham, my boy, smelled old back in bloody 1900. Scent of choice for conservative detractors of Jicky and all those new-fangled French baubles. Stolid fougère with potpourri florals and green notes, cypress in particular, that all just seem to enforce the mustiness. It basically smells like hand soap used to, but rarely does anymore (it's fruity aquatic now mostly, isn't it). Thus, the ultimate, accurately rendered, blast from the past. Consider that Creed's Cypres Musc, an angular traditionary scent in its own right, actually smells like a streamlined, pared-down Art Deco version of this dusty brocade, which is recommended for Victorianites only. I do enjoy it around the house occasionally, in moderate dosage, but would not think of exposing the public to it, also since it absolutely requires a soundtrack of Elgar or Holst blasting on your stereo (or rather, grammophone).
27th February, 2013 (last edited: 01st March, 2013)

Chambre Noire by Olfactive Studio

Chambre noir is a winner. As a leather scent its name suggests an SM-darkroom as much as a place to develop photogaphy, but in the end its really just a very elegant cuir assembled with great skill from notes found in some rather iconic perfumes, or at least lines. Pastiche is great, when it's driven by talent and deep knowledge rather than just embodying postmodern kitsch, which has been piling up mercilessly in the last decades in design, art, film, the culinary arts etc.
Enter a beautifully coreographed cocktailparty in a NYC penthouse with Serge Noir's burnt incense-patchouli, Bois des iles creamy-green sandalwood and Helmut Lang Cuiron's plummy leather having a great time together sipping violet cocktails sprinkled with pink pepper. Rather than declining into meaningless chatter this becomes a sophisticated conversation on style, aesthetics and modernism.
09th November, 2012

Autoportrait by Olfactive Studio

I agree with my esteemed colleauges. Autoportrait is thoroughly mediocre, a late-comer specimen of that aesthetically exhausted style of "cedar-e-super" perfumery. It smells perfectly fine, but there's no personality or innovation here, just a generic étude. Costes by Hotel Costes, simple but beautiful, or for that matter the iconic Timbuktu itself, from whence all these inferior epigones have sprung, offer far more pleasure for body, soul and intellect.
08th November, 2012

Versailles pour Homme by Jean Desprez

If you love vintage ties and old tweeds you might enjoy this old-fashioned jewel. Its opulence, complexity and ingredients mark it as a member of an extinct species of masculines at the head of which stands Patou pour homme, one of the greatest creations ever. Versailles EdT is its unruly, brasher, less disciplined relative. From the very start it overwhelms you with citrus, piney green, hard-hitting clary sage and already florals and cinnamon announce themselves and soon blossom into heady jasmine alongside rich woods. But that is not yet the final act, reserved for a deep dark-orientality of leather and moss sparring with vanilla and amber, styrax incense between the two. It is truly Versailles: baroque spectacle, grandiose pageantry, but with royal composure.
The rare EdC version is much subtler, quite excellent though, smooth and cultivated, a refined bourgeois with aristocratic leanings in taste.
04th November, 2012 (last edited: 16th January, 2013)

Vento Canale by Gianni Campagna

Vento Canale is named for a wind that blows through the Strait of Messina. Well, quite frankly, the meaningless naming of the perfumes in this line after Signore Campagna's alleged memory sites is totally misleading and doesn't do the fragrances justice at all. Since he's a men's tailor, why did they not associate them with situations, places or other aspects of a well-groomed gentlemenan's life, since that is what they seem to embody. Vento Canale, for one, should be called "The Drawing Room" or "The Library." Pure and simply it is a sweet boozy pipe tobacco and automatically conjures up images of English club chairs, leatherbound volumes and the whole Georgian mansion bit. Needless to say it shares qualities with Caron's Aimez-Moi, which is a tad sweeter in a feminine way (its "cookiedough in the kitchen" is absent here). It also reminds me of Bogart pour homme, on the spot I would say that this is a more refined version, Bogart having been quite a sledgehammer (also, it features cherry, as I recall). I'm wearing this with green cordury trousers, a Harris tweed jacket and a green striped raw silk shirt and I feel like a country squire in a leisurely mood, with pipe and hand. Perfect for non-smokers who would like to project that image. Very good at what it does.
02nd October, 2012

Black by Undergreen

Undergreen perfumes is a project launched by two French fellows, Patrice Cardenoso und Jérôme Bonnet, who hired Fabrice Olivieri of Trends Lab to create their two perfumes, White and Black. Undergreen does not hold back with bathos when celebrating its unique selling point: embodying a new style of natural perfumery rejecting "aromatherapeutic" "new-age" aesthetics for a contemporary, trendy niche-style while scrupulously emphasizing natural origins and sustainable practices. It reminds me a bit of Ernest Callenbach's "Ecotopia," a very American ecological novel from the 70s which fuses faith in technology and Yankee ingenuity with Hippie eco-counterculture. Or of Steve Jobs. Yes, fans of Apple aesthetics will love these perfumes, too. Now this sounds like and could verily be just another marketing angle in an increasingly crowded market of high-end perfumery, but to my nose, the concept actually works and is genuinely reflected in the perfumes. I do not know to what extent the naturals employed here are manipulated in spinning cone columns or the like, but the fact ist: Black and White smell like throroughly trendy niches, without sporting what I find obnoxious about thoroughly trendy niches. Black is certainly not nearly as saturnine as the ad copy may suggest. As someone reared on truly dark vintage scents I would class this as easy-to-wear and downright pleasant. It's a bit like a de luxe version of mat; very male with its black licorice notes - but in high resolution 3-D quality. Plus there's a nice phenolic "Islay Malt" birch (and Oud?) note. In sum Black is a moderate-to-light and very pleasant modern gourmand fragrance, which excels by taking a trendy melange of notes (coffee, incense, oud, guajac) to a higher level by avoiding the usual synthetic suspects. As a classicist I could use more murkiness, skankiness etc. here, but that's not the point - it's that this is a well-made, beautifully smelling scent in a contemporary style. I'm impressed.
19th August, 2012