Perfume Reviews

Reviews by LiveJazz

Total Reviews: 215

Oud Zen by Areej le Doré

I fall somewhere between ClaireV's and Darvant's astute impressions of Oud Zen.

The opening is quite a ride: richly sour, smoked, vividly and sharply animalic, and medicinal all at once. I do not know enough about the nuances of different oud varieties and preparations to comment on which specific ouds are present here, but suffice it to say the oud smells sharp, tangy, a tiny bit fruity and in the initial stages of decomposition - moldy is a good word for the effect. This opening roar is both heightened and smoothed by a sharp civet and a bass chord of castoreum and woodsmoke. It's a fascinating smell, and my nose keeps returning to it. In the opening stages, I identify with Mr. Darvant. It's challenging, but rewarding.

The evolution is a slow burn, but Oud Zen does gradually dry out and become a more approachable spiced woody oud, a la ClaireV. But the animal backbone is always very present. It's *just* tame enough to be approachable, but it's right on the border, and you get the sense the beast could easily go rabid and escape. But it stays contained. When it does perk up - which has a tendency to do - the richer, sweeter nuances of the leathery, balsamic, civet profile come to the fore in a pleasant fragrant bloom. But at its core, it remains primarily a woody, smoky oud.

As always with Areej le Dore scents, the materials are absolutely top notch, and from a personal perspective, this is among my favorite of the Russian Adam compositions I've smelled.

25th May, 2018

Vétiver (new) by Carven

Whatever merits this release may have are buried beneath a massive note of Windex glass cleaner. I really can’t concentrate on much else. Who greenlighted this? I expect much more from Carven. It’s one of those scents that’s so poor it’s almost comical. Nothing like Lubin or Guerlain, not even close to my nose.
20th May, 2018

Blu Mediterraneo Cedro di Taormina by Acqua di Parma

Really unattractive to me. I like black pepper, but something about this rendition combined with the lemon reminds me of an industrial disinfectant: harshly soapy and abrasive. The woody base is moderately more attractive, but the ride to get there isn’t worth it.
04th May, 2018
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1725 Casanova by Histoires de Parfums

1725 Casanova reminds me strongly of Boucheron Jaipur, with less spice. The lavender and overall fougere structure is minimal to my nose. I get a very straightforward sweet citrus/anise opening that morphs into a powdery amber/vanilla base with a somewhat syrupy almond undertone that reminds me a great deal of Jaipur's heliotrope note against its vanilla base.

It's smooth, and I suppose it's pleasant, but there's not much to add interest or depth, or keep my nose engaged.
11th April, 2018

Eau Noble by Le Galion

I own a small vintage bottle of this one. If you enjoy woody citrus cyphres, jump on this. The opening citrus positively sparkles, before moving in a classic greenish herbal and woody direction with a clear, robust (real!) oakmoss backbone.

It commands respect, but isn't standoffish. It creates an impression of ease and competence. This is a formal, straightforward, traditional men's scent done just about perfectly. Big thumbs up.
10th January, 2018

Royal Mayfair by Creed

Well this was disappointing. A crisp, green, eucalyptus/rose/citrus opening had my hopes sky high. This could be a stunner - the green equivalent of the excellently crisp Neroli Sauvage.

Instead, it goes all mushy and soft - a thick, lazy, flat accord of bad rose and something between shampoo and laundry musk dominates the heart. The base dries out a bit and becomes a relatively simple but pleasant woody accord, but the lengthy and unpleasant heart ruins it for me. Really unfortunate - so much potential.
07th January, 2018

Equipage Géranium by Hermès

Thumbs up on its own merits, but I'll take the original.

Equipage Geranium is quite similar to the outstanding Equipage, but a sparkling green top of mint and I guess geranium replaces the spicy/smooth citrus and floral burst of the original. My nose simply interprets it as a refreshing and well done green accord.

The underlying structure heading into the heart and base smells extremely similar to the original, but takes a lighter, woodier, and somewhat soapier tone, compared to the rather rich and spicy warmth of its big brother. More versatile. A bit less interesting.

The thing is, one of the most attractive aspects of the original is the light, sparking nature it maintains despite its strength and spicy floral nature. It doesn't feel heavy at all, despite impressive strength. So I'm not sure a lighter/soapy flanker was needed in this case.

Sillage is rather muted, but longevity is an adequate 6 hours or so.
01st December, 2017

Tabacco Toscano by Santa Maria Novella

Tabacco Toscano is an enjoyable, lightly sweet, dry tobacco fragrance that's unique in its versatility and light approach to an often heavy, thick note. It's a high quality "sparkling" tobacco, if you will.

The accords themselves have been described in good deal already (see ClaireV's review in particular). I've been happily wearing this during all seasons for years, and my wife wears it effortlessly as well. I do get a slight hint of Bulgari Black's rubberiness, but it isn't overwhelming. It acts more to add a modern twist to the overall profile.

Really wonderful stuff - undeniably attractive to the wearer and those around them.
20th November, 2017

Kenzo Homme Night by Kenzo

Blegh. A screechily sweet opening that reminds me of a "tropical" themed cheap home air freshener dries down to a bland sweet-woody base, which still has this nails-on-a-chalkboard high pitched sweetness to it. Synthetics overload. Easy and definite thumbs down.
03rd October, 2017

Vétiver Extraordinaire by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

If you like ozonic, airy scents with synthetic backbones, you like vetiver, and you want both of those qualities in one scent, Vetiver Extraordinaire is made for you. Be warned: this is not a natural-smelling vetiver, and the marketing claim of high natural vetiver oil concentation is questionable.

Personally, whatever aromachemical is responsible for that "ozone" effect doesn't work for me. It comes across as metallic, thin, a bit sour, and robotic, and frankly, I just prefer a raw, rooty, natural take on vetiver. If we're modifying the note, give me something less chilly and remote.

I don't think Vetiver Extraordinaire is a *bad* scent. It is a unique and memorable take on vetiver, and unquestionably fulfills an artistic vision. The goal here is to highlight the green and inky aspects of vetiver, and to paint that picture on a modern, angular, minimalist canvas. This is a sleek, atmospheric vetiver with more in common with Geranium Pour Monsieur than most other vetivers on the market. If that's the tone you want, to me, Geranium Pour Monsieur is the better option. But if those qualities sound good in a vetiver context, definitely check out Vetiver Extraordinaire.
26th September, 2017

Blackpepper by Comme des Garçons

Blackpepper opens with one of the best notes of crisp, freshly cracked black peppercorns on the market. This lasts for about 30 min, and fades into a lightly sweetened, dusty/smoky cedar accord that's very pleasant, soft, dry and versatile. It smells great. The base is indeed reminiscent of Wonderwood, which is a good thing.

Unfortunately, it's a skin scent after about an hour, and has faded to near imperceptibility within 2-3 hours.

So although I think the pepper note is a great addition to the Wonderwood base in terms of smell, I have to advise sticking with the predecessor based on longevity, and cannot in good conscience give a thumbs up.
22nd September, 2017

Gucci Guilty Absolute pour Homme by Gucci

Gucci Guilty Absolute is very niche-like - one of the more surprising and daring major designer releases in years. The average mall shopper will likely recoil in horror.

It attacks out of the bottle with an intensely bitter leather/tar/pine accord, which quickly evolves into a dry, woody patchouli, still with a bitterly astringent leather backdrop. Very earthy and austere, and not at all what I expected from Gucci. A dusty vetiver creeps in and softens things ever so slightly, but for the most part, as promised, this is a linear scent after the first 5 minutes. Powerful stuff.

I personally find this more challenging than Pour Homme, Gucci's last dry, woody, uncompromising release.

Kudos to Gucci for throwing a well-made curve ball at the perfume industry. I hope Guilty Absolute does well, but frankly, I'd be surprised.
20th September, 2017

Baccarat Rouge 540 by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Nope, not a fan. I can barely tolerate thorough sampling to give a fair review. I really like the idea of this scent. Saffron is a favorite note, and the listed base including fir and ambergris sounds wonderful. Unfortunately, what I get is a fizzy, super-synthetic spiced floral cola opening accord (not a bad thing in an of itself) backed by a nuclear burnt sugar, Windex and metal accord (which most definitely is a bad thing in and of itself).

I may be sensitive to an aromachemical in here somewhere, but I am not exaggerating when I say this is strongly unpleasant, and borderline revolting to my nose.

Strong thumbs down.
06th September, 2017
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Whip by Le Galion

Wonderfully composed citrus/floral/powdery cyphre. Totally unisex and decidedly formal. I get a clear reference to Acqua di Parma in the opening and heart. A fresh powdery accord with a hint of leather rises up in the base. The longevity and sillage is excellent in this category. A great choice for a traditional French style citrus floral cyphre.
11th August, 2017

222 by Le Galion

Totally unisex, borderline masculine. A creamy, soft sandalwood scent with a sweet leather undertone. There are many excellent options in this category, such as Bois des Iles on the more powdery end, and Wonderwood or Tam Dao on the dry side, but this is a welcome addition to the club. Well done woody composition.
11th August, 2017

Special for Gentlemen by Le Galion

Surprising evolution. It starts out smelling intensely herbal and medicinal, almost like Sambuca. This lasts about 20 minutes, then it does an about face and becomes a more typical powdery-spice traditional masculine oriental/leather.

It smells very nice and the quality is high, so it gets a thumbs up, but it competes with some massive greats in this category, which can be had be had at a much better price - such as Eau d'Hermes and Habit Rouge. To my nose, Special for Gentlemen falls somewhere between those two.
11th August, 2017

1828 Jules Verne by Histoires de Parfums

The best use of eucalyptus in a composition that I've experienced. Dry, cool, green, woody, refreshing, calming. It smells like a very high end spa. A lovely cedar note comes to dominate in the base, still supported by an all-star cast.

A top pick if you're looking for a robust, green, woody fresh option. I think of a sharper and eucalyptus-dominated take on Bleu de Chanel, with slightly more natural smelling accords.
11th August, 2017

Noir Patchouli by Histoires de Parfums

An excellent and effortless representation of patchouli. The star note is deftly matched to light/cool spices, giving the whole affair a lovely "chilled" vibe: damp and pure patchouli, shimmering cool spice, and a green-ish mossy leather undercurrent.

A great alternative to vintage Givenchy Gentleman, albeit an expensive one. The overall tone is cool and a bit more sleek, but it's a pretty close cousin overall.
11th August, 2017

Noir Epices by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Synthetic, soapy, abrasively loud floral spicy scent with a sharp citrus backbone. There's an interesting warm/cool juxtaposition going on in there somewhere, but it's simply too cloying and harsh for me to enjoy. High marks for sillage and longevity.
10th August, 2017 (last edited: 01st September, 2017)

Monsieur. by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

With vintage Givenchy Gentleman out there, this fails to do much for me. Monsieur is primarily a very dry, spicy patchouli. It's somewhat astringent, and I just wouldn't particularly want the smell like this. I prefer my patchouli with a bit more body.
10th August, 2017

Sauvage by Christian Dior

Sauvage is...strange. As others have said, it smells alien and unnatural. The Comme des Garcons Odeur scents remind of Sauvage - they're all plastic and electronics and lightbulbs and printer toner and stuff.

Neither take on this ultramodern synthetic theme is particularly pleasant to me, but at least Comme des Gacons did it with subtlety and intention. Sauvage is loud, sweet, and grating. It's monolithic and impenetrable. The notes are incredibly difficult for me to pick apart and describe. The opening I shall call "HyperFruit" with "UltraSpice".

There's this high-pitched buzz to the entire proceeding, like a fluorescent bulb's electric hum, that gradually intensifies through the ambroxan base. This gives me a headache.

I will say that there are some interesting things going with the sillage. Sauvage brings to mind a calibrated transmitter that generates a fragrant force field set to a specific radius and intensity. It's like wearing a machine.
23rd June, 2017 (last edited: 19th September, 2017)

Le Vetiver by Carven

A sharp, somewhat herbal green, citrus opening that reads as cool-spicy to my nose kicks things off, with just a touch of sweetness to smooth things out. Well done and smooth, maybe a tiny bit synthetic here...but in an intentional and modern way. I get where others are coming from with the old school vibes.

The surprising reference that came to mind for the first 30 minutes or so was a modern take on Creed Vetiver '48 (love!), and I wonder if there's some ginger hidden in there.

A short aromatic phase (a very dry lavender) follows, and feels like we're heading in a fougere-ish direction, which may account for the Rive Gauche references, but then it swerves quickly to becoming a pretty dry, surprisingly smoky, woody, pure vetiver to my nose. The closest analog to me is actually Sycomore, or maybe a less intense Encre Noir (which is basically what Sycomore is to me), with a slight spicy barbershop flair. Nothing wild, but purely enjoyable, high quality, uplifting versatility.
23rd June, 2017

32° N by Lili Bermuda

Garden variety Cool Water clone. Move along.
10th May, 2017

Thé Noir 29 by Le Labo

The Noir 29 opens with an absolutely lovely fig/tea/spice opening that takes the fig note in a uniquely dry and aromatic direction. Unique and highly wearable. I love the opening accord - and it lasts quite awhile.

As the middle and base approach, the dry and aromatic tea very gradually morphs into more of an agricultural hay note, and you don't really realize what's going on until all of the sudden...where did that hay come from? This is a distinctly "wet" and somewhat sweet hay with the addition of tobacco and musk (big contrast with the relatively dry feel of the tea in the opening), and I'm starting to worry that this is going in a murky and swampy I'm not going to like.

Luckily, the hay dries out and cedar as vetiver enter the picture. And there it stays until the end. A (still surprisingly strong) woody hay note with a shading of fig and tea in the background. Longevity and projection are both fairly impressive. Really good and interesting stuff.
08th May, 2017

Indian Wood by Parfumerie Generale

I'm a big fan of using coconut as an alternative to more traditional powdery notes like vanilla, amber, or tonka, and Indian Wood uses it deftly and to great effect.

The opening is a little odd - I get a kind of spicy/green suntan lotion vibe which isn't entirely pleasant, but it soon smooths out and we get an accord I'd describe as "creamy cool spices" - the combo of mint, cardamom, and coconut, I guess. There's a woody/mossy structure underneath, but it remains fairly recessed on me, and Indian Wood remains mostly a sweet/creamy scent - with the kind of light/sweet aura that really sings in summer. Decent performance for this type of scent. Thumbs up.
28th April, 2017

Oud Silk Mood by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

What Oud Silk Mood has to do with silk, I have no idea. This stuff is harsh. It lunges aggressively out of the bottle with searing notes of metal, rubber, smoke, and oh yeah, some thin and medicinal oud and rose in the background.

About 10 minutes after I applied it for the first time, my wife said, "What the hell are you wearing?! It's so strong I can *taste* it." I agree; it sticks in your nose and leaves a lingering taste of pennies on the tongue for about 30 minutes.

It does settle down a little bit as we enter the heart, but I still fail to see this is as a rose and oud dominant scent. The primary accord is arid like an industrial dryer: a papery (papyrus?), herbal (burnt chamomile?) accord with a backbone of, oh I don't know, but the word "acid" comes to mind. I can imagine a paper manufacturing facility smelling something like this. There's a twist of medicinal woody oud in there somewhere, and really very little rose to speak of.

In summary, I find it aggressive and unpleasant throughout.
28th April, 2017

Back to Black by By Kilian

Back to Black smells attractive when sniffed periodically, but it remains unflinchingly dense, heavy and sweet, and doesn't display the kind of deft evolution required for this kind of scent to remain interesting and wearable for me.

As others have mentioned, what you smell on top - basically a big, wet pipe tobacco note with burnt sugar and honey - is what you get until the end. Minimal evolution. The accord is nice, but it quickly gets cloying, and I wish the scent would dry out a bit more. The strong honey note makes for a compelling experience in that it brings out a distinctly wet and animalic tone in the tobacco note. I think there's a great opportunity here to keep that animalism alive and tone down the mushy, wet sweetness. Performance is strong, but at this price point, I simply expect a more dynamic experience.
27th April, 2017

Petit Matin by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

This is primarily a modern, bright, orange blossom perfume, backed by a good but fairly standard wood/musk base (ambroxan, I guess, used with deftness). I enjoy it. It's a little synthetic at times - like smelling orange blossoms in full bloom next to a very classy laundry facility in a nice part of town.

Contrary to the listed lemon and litsea cubeba (citrusy smelling plant) notes and the references to Lemon Pledge in other reviews, the orange blossom jumps out at me immediately and stays front and center throughout, though I will say there's a general tartness that brightens the orange bloom - a good move for a note that can feel a little heavy as a true soliflore. If you're a fan of the note, this is a very nice option.

It's nothing exciting and not something I'd purchase at this price point, but not a bad scent at all for summer or fans of orange blossom. Performance is strong for this type of scent. Reserved thumbs up from me.
27th April, 2017

Le Vetiver Itasca by Lubin

Le Vetiver Itasca is a high-quality fragrance with one jarring accord that sticks out to my nose just enough to keep me from giving it a thumbs up.

The top is great, and refreshing. I mainly get a floral grapefruit with a backbone of something slightly nutty, smooth and satisfying. I wish this phase lasted longer. It's unique and really works for me.

Scent Detective mentioned astringent note in the middle, and that sums up the problem for me. It might be the mixture of clove and nutmeg, very sharp spices that complete with the lingering grapefruit in a kind of sour tug of war that I don't find pleasant. This phase lasts too long.

The base is a perfectly nice woody, somewhat spicy, fougere-ish barbershop-ish vetiver that's very versatile. No fireworks, but a really high quality accord. Longevity and sillage are both average.

I'm on the edge of a thumbs up, but can't fully recommend Itasca to the extended astringent/sour phase in the heart.
13th April, 2017

Oud Palao by Diptyque

This is the oud I've been waiting for! Are there too many rose-ouds on the market? Yes, but this is the best I've smelled, so I'm happy.

Oud Palao starts in a somewhat predictable manner: a big, sweet, somewhat animalic, medicinal oud note takes center stage, accompanies by a nice rose note. Here we go again, same ol’ stuff, I thought. Wrong. The jammy quality of the oud subsides quickly, and the rose, while present, largely recedes to the background.

The oud note is simply the driest and most natural I’ve smelled. Now, I’ve never actually smelled a hunk of oud or pure oil, but I can tell when an oud note is smothered, often to mask deficiencies. Oud Palao’s oud is dry, resinous, and smells like a fantastic wood note, that just happens to be oud.

And it sticks around…the accord never morphs into a generic woody-oriental base. It’s oud all the way, baby, in all its glory. Because it’s so pure smelling, it’s very versatile…while of course maintaining the inherently unique nature of the oud note itself. Realistically, the sandalwood note probably helps create this uniquely woody feel, but it never actually smells like sandalwood. A light patchouli backbones lens a bit of depth, but doesn’t call attention to itself.

It’s the tone and tenor or Tam Dao, filtered through an oud lens. And that’s a great thing.
12th April, 2017