Perfume Reviews

Reviews by LiveJazz


L'Ombre dans L'Eau by Diptyque

The fantastic top of L'Ombre dans L'Eau contains a zingy and thrilling blend of citrus and wild brambles. For a time, it gets better: damp soil, moss growing on trees, roots, a wild rose hidden in the greenery. Perfect. One of the best openings ever. I almost bought a bottle outright at this stage, but my better judgement prevailed and I waited for the base.

Unfortunately, what emerged was not further earth, woods, and soily goodness, but a banal, sweet-synthetic floral green note. Out of the "Shadow" and into the "water" phase, I guess. Not rose...just that sweet shampoo-y floral note that perfumers apparently think represents "water," because I've smelled this in more than a few scents that purport to represent water/fresh gardens/rain. A waste of a bewitching opening. Neutral just because of the opening, which everyone should try to experience.
05th November, 2012

Bulgari pour Homme Soir by Bulgari

This is fairly good. I'm not dancing in the streets or anything, but for people who like the restrained Bulgari style and find sweeter scents difficult to wear, Pour Homme Soir could be a great option.

Soir is as an earthy, powdery green scent. The earthy note is really what makes the accord work - a sort of mineral dust feel with a cooling yet sweet vibe. This reminds be of chilled version of Terre d'Hermes' mineral note with a dash of Creed Vetiver '48's wet rocky note thrown in. Kind of chalky and aloof. However, all this nice mineral ambience starts about an hour after application. The opening is a bland shade of green, and barely avoids smelling like harsh detergent for awhile. So that will probably keep me from buying, at least until my Creed Vetiver runs out.
14th November, 2011

L'Heure Bleue by Guerlain

This is the most dramatic of the esteemed trio of early 20th century Guerlain classics, the others being Shalimar and Mitsouko, of course. Shalimar is the darkly beautiful stunner. Mitsouko is the eclectic. L'Heure Bleue is the somewhat moody drama student, who is quite stunning herself, but doesn't intentionally draw attention to her beauty, as there are other things to attend to.

L'Heure opens with a distinct bready/pastry note that reminds me of the slightly yeasty opening of Mitsouko, but in a more dessert-like form, due to the anise and a note reminiscent of almond butter. Plush, somewhat indolic florals create a powdery makeup-like backdrop, and envelop the opening in a light animalic cloak which is a strangely "cool" and medicinal, as opposed to the furry warmth of most animalic scents.

There is a hint of melancholy here, but I do not find that it dominates the scent. Perhaps a sad event has happened, and this is acknowledged by that dusty, wilted, almost decaying note that is more obvious in Mitsouko, but here the message seems to be to keep calm and carry on, and try to enjoy the little things. Have a pastry.

Despite the hint of melancholy, it is a very bright opening overall, and its utterly unique notes are felt well into the heart, as more traditionally florientall powdery notes begin to dominate. Even then, this is a cool, aloof powder, likely due to the relatively strong presence of iris. Never does L'Heure Bleue lose its character. It just seems to relax on the skin: the indoles dampen, the make-up and pastry note becomes a delicious memory.

The overall sense of coolness never leaves entirely, but it feels natural despite the ordinarily warm oriental structure. Instead of being cozily nested by the fire on a winter night, L'Heure Bleue is out wandering in streets, feeling the prick of the cold against her face, but not really noticing, because she is pondering some deep thought.

Unisex. Great longevity and sillage. Exquisite creation.
07th November, 2011
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Prada Amber pour Homme by Prada

For years I've been sniffing and resniffing this at the store, always attracted but never drawn to buy...until recently. It's really good. Amber Pour Homme opens with a very nice warmly spiced neroli/cologne accord which is pretty unique. The juxtaposition of the cardamom against the citrus and neroli gives a bit of that dirty/clean conflict that creates so much interest in so many classics. Obviously this is very toned down here, but I think this has a light identifiable animalic tinge, at least in the opening and heart.

As it dries down it turns into more of a standard, but very well-done, sweet soap accord with light leather and tonka dominating on me. The patch never gains much traction, but I appreciate this, as the absence of that note differentiates Amber from other barbershop soap scents like Rive Gauche Pour Homme. I prefer this to the intense version, which has a strong and sharp patchouli note.
07th November, 2011

Nightscape by Ulrich Lang

This one has an interesting development. Nightscape opens with an extremely "clear" patchouli note that is surprisingly unaltered, considering how tame the scent is in the long run. The opening patch note is about as direct of a patch as I've smelled, for about 5 minutes. Really great opening.

As the heart approaches, the sharper green notes make an appearance to refrigerate the patchouli note and lend a definite soapy and sharp woodsy vibe to the scent. This is probably my least favorite phase, and is somewhat of a letdown after the excellent patchouli opening. However,this phase is unique among patchoulis and is well done - so this is just my personal preference.

In the base, the scent drops both the purity of the opening and sharper greens of the middle and becomes a comforting, very smooth skin scent of tonka and musk, with just enough of the original patch peeking through. Overall the scent is pretty minimalistic compared to the usual amber-infused patchouli fragrances, but this is intentional and effective. A worthy addition to the patchouli genre.
05th November, 2011

Chanel Pour Monsieur Concentrée by Chanel

Contrary to the reviews indicating that Chanel Pour Monsieur Concentree is a citrus and vanilla powder fragrance, I get a fairly strong woody presence in the heart and base. So to me, this scent shares more DNA with something like Guerlain's Heritage or de Nicolai's New York than, say, Habit Rouge.

Why someone would claim to like and respect those former two scents and badmouth CPMC is beyond me (I'm looking at you, Turin); they are all based on the same woody-oriental theme and have mostly surface-level differences: Heritage is peppery, New York starts with lavender and citrus, and Pour Monsieur Concentree opens with citrus and spice (nutmeg). All fade to the classy woody oriental base we're familiar with. The Chanel has a bit more of a vanilla presence, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable.

I unintentionally received this when I ordered what I thought was the original Chanel Pour Monsieur (my own fault, so I wasn't going to return it). At first I was upset, but I gave it a chance and I really enjoy it. I'd sampled but didn't own a bottle of any of the scents I used for comparison above, and frankly I think I would be happy with any of I'm happy to have Chanel Pour Monsieur Concentree fill the woody-oriental spot in my wardrobe.
03rd November, 2011 (last edited: 12th November, 2012)

Halston Z-14 by Halston

I can't believe nobody has mentioned this yet, but Z-14 smells a lot like the original Chevignon, and therefore also like Polo Crest (I think someone did reference that one below). I mean a lot like them. From the citrus/evergreen/cinnamon spicy zing of the opening and heart to the warm mossy/amber base. I'd say the main differentiating point is that Z-14 is a bit "thicker," with a touch of leather, and a more literal mossy cyphre structure underneath.

Yes, it is loud, and yes, that big mossy amber 80s cyphre structure is the very definition of "that 80's cologne smell," but you can hardly blame Z-14 for that. Z-14 invented "that 80's cologne smell" in the 70s, and was copied because it does a good job of it. Support your local fragrance discounter and buy a bottle.
25th October, 2011

Black Jeans by Versace

Great smells in this from top to bottom. Black Jeans opens with a sharp aromatic crack, and a slight medicinal hint of nutmeg and/or clove gives it a gaseous undercurrent. I don't get tar or gasoline, but I can see how this combination of notes hints at something industrial.

As the opening fades, Black Jeans quickly morphs into an extremely smooth and unique tobacco-laden leathery fougere phase. The comparisons to Rive Gauche are somewhat apt - there is a definite patchouli presence here - but Black Jeans has an opening that's a little more "out there" and sharp, and the base pushes the "fougere" boundary a bit by veering toward leather/tobacco territory.

This description may make Black Jeans sound rough, manly, and heavy, but it really is very modern and sleek for such weighty notes. This is a truly impressive piece of perfumery.

My only complaint with Black Jeans is in the sillage/longevity department. Sillage is moderate in the opening and low in the heart/base. It's hardly noticeable after 5 hours or so, after a liberal chest application. I will probably purchase it anyway, simply because it is such an enjoyable, versatile and impressive scent.
02nd September, 2011

Sartorial by Penhaligon's

Yes. Brut.

This is Brut, projected through the prism of the most modern fragrance styles, distilled with the essence of all the best that came from the "ozonic" trend, artistically molded to resemble an idealized high-end tailor's shop, and cut to a trim and stylish silhouette by Douchafour. Awesome.
30th July, 2011

Forest Rain by Kiehl's

Forest Rain does smell like a rainy forest, but not in the way most reviewers seem to expect. There isn't a hint of evergreen in this, despite the color of the bottle and "northwestern rain forest" look of the whole presentation. Seattle is many thousands of miles away from this one.

The smell is more evocative of a tropical rain forest, full of beautiful flowers, blooming grass, and giant trees with enormous leaves, dripping with water. There isn't much, if any, wood in this blend. This forest is dominated by leaves and thick foliage. The muguet note is particularly noticeable, and I suspect it's responsible for the "watery" green aspect of this scent.

As it dries down, a clear relationship with Kiehl's Musk emerges, but completely sanitized, a little sweeter and softer, and with that watery green-ness remaining in the background. This comfortable and simple watery green musk accord hums along for quite awhile, and never breaks down into anything obnoxious. Sillage is average and longevity is above average.

I do enjoy it. Would I buy it? Maybe, especially since its inexpensive. It is rather unique, as this particular version of "green" (dripping wet, soft, somewhat tropical) isn't seen very often in fragrances.
28th July, 2011

Wall Street by Bond No. 9

A nice cucumber note highlights the opening of Wall Street, and a salty note in the heart and base holds my interest for a time, but at its core, this is bland aquatic business as usual. Well-made but very typical. Fans of aquatics and of cucumber notes in particular should check it out. I think of it as a high-end rendition of Polo Blue, with more of an aquatic edge.
27th July, 2011

Kiehl's Original Musk by Kiehl's

To those who find the EDT concentration too floral, I strongly recommend trying the oil version of Kiehl's Original Musk. I once owned the EDT spray and swapped it away because - you guessed it - it was too floral. The musk didn't seem to mesh with the strong, almost soapy flowers in the heart. I saw what the scent was aiming for: that interesting but difficult to execute juxtaposition of clean and dirty accords, a la Kouros. But instead of coming together to make something interesting, the notes seemed to be fighting each other in the EDT.

Fast forward a couple years. I read some reviews of the oil that indicated a less floral musk blend. So I picked up a .25oz vial of the oil, and sure enough, it was everything I hoped the EDT would be when I first bought it: that rich, attractive, interesting and almost savory musk note comes into focus here. It is incredibly attractive and versatile. The florals are still present, but they're definitely subservient to, and almost embedded in, the dominant musk. Like the other oils in this line, it has excellent longevity.

The oil version of Kiehl's Original Musk is outstanding, and the price is certainly right. $25 for the .25oz vial of oil, and $35 for the .5oz bottle. Both oil options will last as long as or longer than the 1.7oz EDT spray.
27th July, 2011

Kiehl's Pour Homme Essence Oil by Kiehl's

Another thumbs up! The juice in this unsuspecting little roll-on vial does not mess around. Kiehl's Pour Homme Oil is one serious manscent. Long lasting, compact, almost ruthless in its pointed presentation of the classic macho fougere accord.

It moves confidently and hits all the right notes: citrus, piney woods, a big ol' balsamic tobacco note, and all manner of potent spices. As others have said, it has strong ties with Aramis Havana, but without that brazen rum opening note. The resemblance is strong in the heart and base.

It is extremely potent and long-lasting, and does not meld into the skin like some other fougeres, such as Azzaro Pour Homme or Rive Gauche. It leaps off the skin and attracts attention to itself as its own entity, rather than as an extension of the wearer.
27th July, 2011
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Canali Men by Canali

Canali Men was bitter and unpleasant on me. Nobody else has used the word "bitter" to describe it yet, and I'm wondering where all these reports of a fruity, floral leather scent came from. It smelled something like a stale cigar with nutmeg to me. Strange.
24th July, 2011

Poison by Christian Dior

Nope. Sorry, Poison, but this isn't going to work. A previous reviewer said it "smells like someone shoved a bunch of flowers into a bowl of Smucker's and threw in a grenade." That's a pretty good approximation of what I get for the first few hours. As with most obnoxiously sweet and strong scents, the base is more attractive and approachable, but that opening - phew. Jammy floral overload.
23rd June, 2011

Classic 1920 by Bois 1920

I'm a little confused by the reviews on this one. Fruity amber? Not on me. The dominant accord on me is spicy. Pepper, ginger, and maybe nutmeg mixes with the light citrus in the opening for a very bracing scent.

Amber is in there, don't get me wrong, but I don't find it cloying at all. It just smooths out the spice and forms a nice relationship with the woody vetiver note that shares the space. Really a lovely scent, and totally appropriate for both sexes.
29th April, 2011

Musc for Him by Narciso Rodriguez

Hooray! Musc now has its own Directory entry. I does need to be reviewed separately from the EdT, as it is completely different and vastly superior. I am pasting my positive review of the Musc that I included in my EdT review.

Narciso Rodriguez Musc for Him is an oil, but does require a few good smears to project much sillage. It is is smooth and subtle, with just the barest hint of violet leaves and greens, and absolutely none of the terrible bitterness that plagues the base of the EdT. It sticks very close to the skin and projects like an extension of the wearer's skin. It is simultaneously sheer and very satisfying. Obviously, the musk element is amped up here, where it is barely noticeable among the mishmash of foulness in the base of that other version. Not just better than the original, but one of the better modern musks I've had the pleasure of experiencing.
21st March, 2011

Green Jeans by Versace

Green Jeans doesn't work for me. I do generally like pine notes, and I'm ok with herbal notes, but something about the foody oregano and the (synthetic, kind of "shiny") pine comes across as thin, with a kind of fizzy sheen to it. Interesting, but not enjoyable.
18th March, 2011

Coriolan by Guerlain

I love when fragrances remind me of something distinct. Yatagan makes me think of roasting meat in a dry forest. Silver Factory makes me think of a hot chainsaw. And Guerlain Coriolan makes me think of an airplane.

Yes, an airplane. After a strong citrusy-spicy opening, I clearly get that smell that hits you when you first step in the door of an airplane and start walking down the aisle looking for your seat, particularly on hot days. It's the smell of clean airplane seats, filtered airplane air, and hints of tarmac and jet fuel.

You get to your seat, and your sexy seatmate is sipping a martini and wearing a great spicy floral cyphre.

I suppose in reality this impression comes from the medicinal bitterness of the absinthe note and some of the spices in the heart, but in combination with the other notes present, the overall effect is: airplane.

For me, this is a good association. I like traveling. The smell evokes a feeling of embarking on a modern voyage. Nobody else has mentioned this strange airplane connection, so maybe it's just me, but I have to mention it; it's so very distinct for me.

Sillage is medium and longevity is high.Coriolan is a fun scent to wear.
03rd March, 2011

Samsara by Guerlain

Samsara is somewhat pretty, but hopelessly synthetic. I think of chemicals and cheap shampoo before I think of any enticing perfume notes. This is the late 80's version of the bland fruity floral. This is a bland woody floral. Sorry, Jean Paul, didn't work out here.
03rd March, 2011

The One Gentleman by Dolce & Gabbana

I am pleasantly surprised with this D&G release. I was given a sample when it first came out and sort of forgot about it, having other things to sample. But I wore it one day and saw what I had been missing. Then I wore it several more days and continued to like it. It is really a well-made and very pleasant scent with a lot of elements I enjoy. Like Chanel Allure, it's not going to knock one out of the park in bottom of the 9th, but it's just unassumingly well made and pleasing to wear.

I think it's best categorized as a "creamy wood" scent. Once the super-smooth spices and sweet lavender of the opening fade a bit, I find that it's dominated by round, pleasantly sweet woods + light patchouly accord. There's not actually supposed to be woods in there, but there's definitely a dry richness to it that balances out the sweetness of the patch and very light vanilla.

This is a very nice scent that could be used in countless environments. The sillage and longevity are both about average, bordering on light, but honestly if a scent like this were much stronger and thicker, it would risk being cloying. Gentleman has it about right.
07th February, 2011

Silver Bond / Andy Warhol Silver Factory by Bond No. 9

To me, this is a deeply strange scent. I have seen little mention of this, but it smells distinctly oily to me...the sweetish, waxy smell of metal lubricant on hot machinery.

Oh yes, there are sweet green notes in there. Violet, probably, along with strong woody resins and incense. But the part that jumps out at me is the hot metal. It reminds me of a freshly oiled chainsaw, which moments ago was hacking through brush and greenery, and is now cooling in a pile of its own sawdust, maybe next to a cup of sun-heated Diet Coke.

This is one of those scents that I'm attracted to mostly out of fascination. I don't think I'd wear it.
25th January, 2011

Pasha by Cartier

A nice minty/spicy opening quickly morphs into a big, fat, bland soapy fougere accord that just sits there, blasting its dull obnoxiousness like a broken early 90s foghorn.
24th January, 2011 (last edited: 21st March, 2011)

Halston Man by Halston

I think it's very good...nothing exceptional or groundbreaking, but not everything can be. It's just good. It gets my respect for the same reason Rive Gauche does...not many scents of this type and quality are released these days - traditional, with a sleek, modern twist.

Man is a peppery green/woody scent that, to me, falls somewhere between cyphre and fougere...probably closer to the cyphre side. I detect a distinct reference to citrus/green cyphres of the past, such as Eau Sauvage and even Aramis Devin, with their very traditional and clean mossy/spicy bases. Man keeps with that lineage, but hails from the land of bright, somewhat fizzy, modern perfumery. This would make an excellent work or formal fragrance.
24th January, 2011

Eau de Gentiane Blanche by Hermès

I love this. In smell, it is a complete departure from the other entries in the Hermes "Eau de" series. It is dry, rooty to the extreme, and green...very outdoorsy, with a hint of starchy white soap and incense beneath. Yet, it sticks to the streamlined Hermes feel somehow. Very, very nicely done. It is minimalist, but not the point where it feels like incomplete and lazy.

I had begun to doubt Ellena's willingness to broaden the scope of his work (another citrus top fading to woody ISO-E? Nice, but yawn). But, Eau de Gentiane Blanche has renewed by faith in Ellena's ability to think outside the box and widen his scent portfolio. I am impressed.
22nd January, 2011

Kelly Calèche by Hermès

I completely agree with Diamondflame's review of Kelly Caleche: this should not be considered a floral leather with greens. It is more of delicate, sheer floral, which happens to contain a combination of floral and green notes that give the illusion of something a little waxy and leathery. I do enjoy this strange rendition of leather, which takes some time to appear.

However, the overall synthetic/handsoapy feel of the scent keeps my enthusiasm at bay, and I sort of wonder how many aromachemicals this shares with Un Jardin Apres La Mousson, which I do not like at all.

14th December, 2010 (last edited: 21st March, 2011)

Aventus by Creed

This is good, as long as you don't approach Aventus expecting it to be a "fresh" Creed. Oh, I suppose it's fresh for about 20 minutes, as the opening pineapple and tartness burst forth, but Aventus rapidly matures and becomes more luxurious and classical.

After the opening fruits die down, we're left with some residual sweetness, helped along with a dash of patchouli, for about an hour as one of the more literal cyphre bases in a modern scent emerges. The base is surprisingly mossy...this is not where one would expect this fragrance to go, after having blindly smelled the juicy opening. I was expecting Aventus to bitter up a little, so I was impressed with the extreme evolution on display here, and the quality of the notes.

That said, I can't say I'm particularly attracted to scent Aventus evolves into. It becomes very stark, and is just a tad too bitter for me, though the entire construction is very tasteful, smooth and generally impressive. When testing, just make sure you're aware that this doesn't stay fresh for long.

If you know you like mossy, earthy cyphres, you will love this. If not, just be aware, and do not judge the scent harshly for not being something it's not meant to be. So, thumbs up. It may not be for me, but I admire it and will continue to test it.
16th October, 2010

Bang by Marc Jacobs

Great juice, here. Bang has been compared to Terre d'Hermes, Poivre Samarcande, and Gucci Pour Homme. These comparisons are all correct in part. Bang features Gucci's smooth wood notes, the glowing pepper of Poivre Samarcande, and the angular lines and versatility of Terre d'Hermes, minus the flinty notes.

That is some good company to be in, and Bang hits the sweet spot, surpassing these peers by taking advantage of the best qualities of each, and offering those qualities - and an overall feel of rounded, smooth, high quality tones - at a very good price. Sillage and lasting power are both about average on me. Does the strange marketing mesh with the scent? I don't care. The bottle is pretty nifty. I just know that this stuff is certainly in my future. Bravo to Bang!
15th October, 2010 (last edited: 20th October, 2010)

JHL by Aramis

[See edit below - 6/11]

I'm not terribly impressed with it, to be completely honest. And no, I don't think it smells like an old lady. I'm not going to say it's not my style either: I like Hermes Equipage, which shares many traits: spice, carnation and other flowers, resinous wood notes, etc. I was prepared for the intense aldehydic floral/fruit opening, too. I fact, I kind of liked the opening and cinnamony early heart. No, the part that let me down is the part I expected to enjoy: the late heart and base.

I never expected to say this, but JHL feels a little empty, like something is missing. The spice feels rather sheer and soapy, the amber and woods that are supposed to bolster the spice and provide some body seem thin to me. The whole thing just seems shockingly transparent for this kind of scent...and this is not an accord that benefits from minimalism.

Judging my the other reviews - "rich!"..."luscious!"..."intoxicating!" - I think I'm probably in the minority. Opium Femme is much more satisfying in this category.

EDIT: I take it back, JHL! I've had the opportunity to wear this scent a few more times in the warmer weather, and I must say this stuff is really in its element when the body heats up. The same qualities I complained about a few months ago - the soapy lightfootedness of the spices - make JHL a perfect summer oriental. The heat brings some of the warmer, more substantial base materials out, and it moves away from smelling so much like a lightly spiced soap on me. An excellent choice for summer nights. I suspect it smells like this all year round for some people, but for me it seems to be a little thin in the winter - but this is my skin's fault, not JHL's.
14th October, 2010 (last edited: 13th June, 2011)

Bulgari Man by Bulgari

This is a scent that just doesn't work on me, and I think this is due to a certain sweetish green-amber basenote chemical...a sharply synthetic green amber. Narciso Rodriguez for Him EDT is also ruined by an accord like this, though it is much, much worse there than it is in Bulgari Man. Both scents share a violet leaf note, and violet leaf may accentuate the issue, but I don't think the violet itself is the problem, as there are other violet-heavy compositions I like. I enjoy the dry and bright floral-green topnotes, with just the right amount of pleasing sweet nuances, but Man went downhill from there, and now I kind of want to scrub the remaining stale mess off.
14th October, 2010