Perfume Reviews

Reviews by LiveJazz

Total Reviews: 215

French Lover / Bois d'Orage by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

I've been trying to think of succinct ways to describe French Lover. The words I keep returning to are “mysterious green fortress,” kind of like a foreboding Emerald City from The Wizard of Oz.

On the one hand, French Lover is an absolutely shimmering, spicy green fragrance that remains resolutely muscular, dry and somewhat transparent throughout its evolution…a big, glossy, immovable green fortress.

I can’t overstate how prickly the opening peppered greens come off. This accord brings to mind a nettle plant, full of the tiniest prickly thorns, growing in a bed of ground black pepper. Incense and dry vetiver gradually join the spicy nettle-like note (probably the angelica, in reality). Eventually some dirtier notes start to show through. This is not a musky, animalic dirty note to me, but more of an earthy dirty note, almost like the enjoyable perfume of freshly decomposed compost dirt.

But on the other hand, there’s a certain other-worldliness to French Lover. There’s a detached wisp of a black rubbery note in with the green that makes the scent feel rather aloof and spacey at times.

It’s an odd duality for sure: the muscular green block and the spacey rubber. But I can’t stop sniffing it! This would be a great scent for gardening. In Oz. Or on a space station.
18th November, 2009

Chevignon by Chevignon

To me, the citrus on top is kept to a minimum; I primarily get a zingy rush of forest-y green and spice notes (possibly cinnamon in there, which may account for the otherwise mysterious "apple pie" comments). The top does smell rather like Christmas. This is followed by a sudden bloom of very resinous, dry, rich wood notes, with subtle piney accents. The green eventually fades out, leaving mostly the resinous woods, a light dose of spice, and a rocky, mineralic amber base.

On me, it's very deep, dry and tenacious base, bordering on powerhouse territory, but never cloying.

I really like it. It provides some real depth and "oomph," but never oversteps its bounds. It smells virile and refreshing, and is suitable for many occasions. This is one of those rare versatile scents that keeps me interested and satisfied.

I think it's discontinued, or at least reformulated, renamed, repackaged, and ruined...but the older version - cardboard looking box, bottle pictured above - can still be had cheaply. Get it NOW.
16th November, 2009

Équipage by Hermès

A sparkling, good natured masculine fragrance that perfectly balances a soft, non-resinous pine note, a refreshing and spicy masculine floral accord that reminds me of clove, and just enough warmth (tonka, patchouli, perhaps a touch of tobacco) mixed with the remaining woods in the base to prevent any notion that this scent might be harsh or austere. Simply wonderful. It's classic, but never dated, and warm but never heavy in the least. I just feel great wearing it. Major thumbs up.
12th November, 2009 (last edited: 30th November, 2009)
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Aquaman by Rochas

Pretty good stuff - a bracing eucalyptus/grapefruit snap to start things off, evolving into dry herbs and spices against a woody/vetiver base. Versatile and refreshing, without being a stereotypical aquatic, as the name indicates.
11th November, 2009 (last edited: 16th March, 2017)

Pi by Givenchy

It smells like ambiguous vanilla chemicals. Not *completely* unpleasant: there a few aspects that I appreciate. It isn't syrupy sweet like a bakery; it's actually a rather dry, ambery vanilla note, I guess because it's actually benzoin. It seems like there's this beautiful soft powdery drydown, gorgeous by itself, that's exists side-by-side with that chemical note. It's just very very unrefined, and not something I want to smell like all day. The smell seems like it should be emitted from a Glade Plugin.
11th November, 2009

La Nuit de L'Homme by Yves Saint Laurent

It's basically the original minus the classy and understated finesse, plus extra synthetic sweetness. Fans of Givenchy Play might like it.
08th November, 2009

Dirty English by Juicy Couture

Wow, Vibert captured this scent in a single sentence: "Once past its rather jumbled array of citrus and spice top notes, Dirty English resolves into a boozy, animalic leather set alongside a dry, scratchy, spiced conifer wood accord."

That is an excellent description of Dirty English. The leather accord dominates on my skin, and I'm glad it does. A hint of spices, wood and amber are there in the background, and serve only to make the scent a bit more approachable.

After the somewhat unpleasant topnotes, this is an wonderful dry, spicy leather scent. Juicy had some guts to introduce something like this in today's fragrance market.
21st October, 2009

Sandalo e The by Bois 1920

I find it thin, astringent, and discordant. Yes, the name and the notes are quite accurate. It starts with a very strong jasmine/floral note, backed by a hint of tea and a lot of sugariness. Some sandalwood eventually emerges, I think, but this is a waxy, wimpy sandalwood that does little to balance the overwhelming sweetness and the synthetic-smelling florals that dominate. This is the only Bois 1920 that I dislike.

Edit: Actually, the sandalwood deep in the base is pretty good...smooth and round. It just takes so long to get there, and I just don't like that harsh jasmine and tea accord in the heart. Ah well, maybe it's my skin.
09th October, 2009 (last edited: 03rd November, 2009)

Real Patchouly by Bois 1920

This is spectacular stuff. Somerville Metro Man's review describes my experience with it perfectly. The opening is strong, sweet patchouli, tempered with a bit of citrus and what I'd call a slightly nutty note. As the patchouli note itself becomes a bit more woody in nature, a vanilla note creeps in to provide some sweetened smoothness, keeping the accord from becoming too abrasive. The final version of the patchouli is my favorite: the note becomes a little more bitter and aromatic - a soft, dry patchouli backed by a subtle dose of powdery amber. The entire evolution is pure heaven; this is the most approachable, wearable patchouli fragrance I've ever tried.
09th October, 2009

Sushi Imperiale by Bois 1920

I love the citrus and nearly edible spices - the cinnamon is particularly nice - in the opening. It is a very attractive accord that has me excited to experience the rest of the evolution. Unfortunately, this scent does not open and up and deepen, as most orientals do. The edible baking spices and citrus fade out completely and I get a rather boring, synthetic smelling anise and light tonka combo in the base. This is reasonably attractive, but there's no depth here. I'll pass, at this price.
09th October, 2009 (last edited: 19th November, 2009)

Extreme 1920 by Bois 1920

Bergamot, Fern, Jasmine, Brazilian Tonka beans, Bourbon vanilla.

Am I smelling the right fragrance? Because the notes listed above are not what I smell at all. First off, I don't like the opening much. It is intensely bitter and tenacious. I honestly can't identify the notes, but I know it isn't fern and bergamot. There are some intense, dry herbs and a strong helping of bitter, aromatic woods.

Luckily, it doesn't take long for the scent to calm down. There are still herbs and woods present, but they are much friendlier version of their former selves. At this point I can start to detect some pepper, some masculine florals (geranium? carnation?) and some piney notes, plus some tonka starting to inch its way in.

From there, the everything basically stays in place, but becomes more mellow, aided by the the growth tonka/vanilla notes. Take note: this is NOT a vanilla fragrance. The vanilla acts solely as a smoothing agent, gently massaging the restless woods and dry herbs. It is very good.
09th October, 2009

Cannabis Santal by Fresh

Sweet, light, simple and boring. I smell an unidentifiable sugary/powdery accord that almost completely fails to interest me. There is a hint of creamy nuttiness to it, if you concentrate, but other than that, there just doesn't seem to be anything behind it. I don't smell any chocolate.
08th October, 2009

L'Homme Sage by Divine

L'Homme Sage is an excellent scent. I understand the critiques that it doesn't really have a "quirk" about it, but at the same time, what really smells like it? It's one of those scents that manages to seem familiar, strong and comforting even though it stands alone. To me, this is a mark of greatness.

The fact that reviewers are so diverse in their impressions of L'Homme Sage is also telling. It features an array of contrasting notes that really seem to fit together like puzzle pieces - this is an exquisitely blended fragrance that, upon multiple wears, reveals some deep, deep hidden characteristics.

The opening for me is dry, parched fruit and spices. This is not juicy fruit or refreshing fruit, but sun-baked fruit with all sweetness removed - fruit essence. Incense starts creeping in almost immediately and for me, it's a dominant figure throughout the evolution of the scent. As the opening salvo of fruit essence and exotic spices fade to the background, a resinous, parched, smoky, woody, amber accord comes into play.

I never quite understood the meaning of the word "resinous" in reference to fragrance before. L'Homme Sage made me understand. Here it is a half-burnt, oily wood aroma, combined with a dusty amber note. A good helping of oakmoss gives the base an uncommon depth and richness. You can almost feel it enter your nose swirl around your olfactory nerves.

Like L'Air du Desert Marocain, everything about this scent is arid, but where that scent is like dry rocks and spices, this is like dry timbers, aged with years of incense smoke. Little traces of background notes flit in and out. A little soil here, a little green there, some pepper peeking out over yonder.

Anyway, I strongly recommend it. You could spend months familiarizing yourself with this gem. It is nuanced and fascinating while always remaining immensely wearable and strangely familiar.

08th October, 2009 (last edited: 02nd December, 2009)
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Tom Ford for Men by Tom Ford

I am shocked that Tom Ford for Men is so unpopular here! To me, this is almost the perfect understated winter workhorse.

It opens with a nice, bracing bouquet of dry citrus and spices. There is no sweetness in the citrus at all: it is a very manly opening. Soon after, the citrus fades I get a slightly green but mostly peppery patchouli accord. Mossy woods and tobacco gradually enter the equation and soon we have a nearly perfect masculine base.

The evolution is steady and fluid. Tom Ford for Men is one of those scents that is blended so well that the evolution is difficult to track in terms of distinct phases. It just morphs and evolves as the notes fade in and out. There is nothing synthetic or cloying or obnoxious about it.

It lasts well over 12 hours on me, but stays close to the skin. I feel good in it, and people like it. There are no standout notes, but that is not a requirement for me. It is a standout in that it smells great.
30th September, 2009

Jicky Eau de Parfum by Guerlain

There was recently a thread about how some fragrances smell different up close (when your nose is on your wrist versus a waft from the chest). I think Jicky is exhibit number one of this phenomenon.

On first application, it smells like a relatively normal sweet, powdery citrus/lavender. Out of nowhere, the civet springs out of hiding and takes hold of the accord. This particular civet has a bit of a sense of humor:

If you smell it up close, it is quite fecal to me. However, if you fan it toward your face or let it waft toward you, it is very polite and compliments the accord. Strange. So...just don't smell it up close and you should be fine!

As the scent progresses, the opening citrus and the civet take a back seat and I start to get more tonka. After about two hours the base is fully developed into an absolutely sexy accord with just the right amount of animalic qualities, with the civet hard to identify as a single note. It plays a supporting role with the vanilla at center stage, giving the vanilla that three dimensional, slightly spicy, spiky rawness that is so rare. Jicky's overall nature is sweet, but not thickly sweet. That classic Guerlainade dusty tonka and vanillin combo is prodded by the civet and never sags. Jicky is not cloying in the least.

Overall, definite thumbs up. The top might raise some eyebrows, but the base is worth it.
23rd September, 2009 (last edited: 05th August, 2011)

Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent

I'll admit that the opening is a bit hard to take. It comes screaming out of the bottle like a banshee and this wall of clove and citrus and flowers and powder and incense and artemisia and civet and who knows what else slams you in the face like an oncoming train. Experienced or not, it is a rather extreme opening. But...I like it. It's fascinating.

I don't see the evolution so much as a progression of notes, but rather a gradual fade-out of certain notes. It seems to start with everything present, then focus itself slowly. First goes the citrus, followed by the artemisia, leaving behind a powerful clove and floral accord augmented by the bright civet note. The civet starts to tone it down next, along with the heady florals, and we're left with a surprisingly mellow melange of incense and honeyed powder, with just a hint of that good old civet to add depth. And there it stays to the end.

What strikes me most about this scent is its lack of anything normally found in men's fragrances. There are no greens, barely any citrus, no wood to speak of to my nose. It's a well-blended abstraction of notes that sound like they ought to be dissonant, but work together to form a massive, sculpted block of smell. The combination of notes is so powerful and so bursting with energy that's hard to pin everything down and analyze it. I understand its detractors, but I still very much admire and like Kouros.
23rd September, 2009

212 Men by Carolina Herrera

After a bland, kind of sheer and clear fruity/floral opening that reminds me of a stronger and more synthetic version of L'Eau Par Kenzo, we get a heart and base with a shocking lack of blandness!

I always just assumed that the base would be that ambery-wood accord that perfumers seem to toss around so often, which is why I never really gave it the time of day. But 212 turns very dry with (just as jenson says) incense and sandalwood, softened slightly with some sort of clear musk - exactly as the pyramid says (which certainly doesn't happen often for me). Excellent! It smells rich without being overbearing.

I'm still not a huge fan of the opening, but the outstanding base smells like it could have come from something much more expensive and well-regarded.
22nd September, 2009

Axe Kilo by Axe / Lynx

This was by far my favorite Axe scent (back when I used to wear Axe). I think it appealed to be because a) everyone I knew was wearing Pheonix, b) Pheonix smelled too soapy to me at the time, and c) it was sweet and seemed distinctive compared to other body sprays. I still think it's a pretty nice scent, and I have to give it credit for being the first product I wore solely because I thought it smelled good. Kilo singlehandedly sparked my interest in fragrance.
17th September, 2009

Eau de Pamplemousse Rose by Hermès

Edit: "Rose" in the name is not referring to an actual rose note. It refers to the grapefruit: "Pink Grapefruit." So the comments about lack of rose in the scent are retracted.

I would have liked some rose with my pamplemousse, but Eau de Pamplemousse Rose smells perfectly good without it. I agree completely with a previous reviewer who said that this is the EDC version of TdH, plus a splendid, sparkling grapefruit note on top.

I cannot overstate how refreshing and effervescent this grapefruit is. I think this is one of the best citrus openings I've smelled, and it lasts well into the heart for me. Again, as the heart transitions to the base, this begins to smell like a lighter version of TdH (spicy green vetiver), with a hint of something edibly sour (others have said rhubarb) and minus some pepper. I was prepared for the worst when it came to longevity and sillage, but both are respectable on me. An excellent summer fragrance...possibly better than TdH, which I find very easy to overapply.
07th September, 2009 (last edited: 25th September, 2009)

Burberry the Beat for Men by Burberry

I have to admit that I was skeptical of all the "pure pepper" reviews. Plus, I like dry pepper notes. But come on Burberry, I like pepper...but within reason! After about 10 seconds of a green opening, it smells like ground black pepper and nothing else. It dries down in 20 minutes to - wait for it - nothing. Not even a bland woody cedar base. And I usually don't have longevity problems. Get your act together, Burberry.
31st August, 2009

Vintage by John Varvatos

It starts out something like the original, plus some various spices, then dries to a bland "suede" vanilla. Which means they're trying to justify and market a synthetic vanilla note. I tested this having not read these reviews or really knowing anything about the fragrance. I was kind of hoping a for a leathery version of the original, just by looking at the bottle. I guess I should have known better.
31st August, 2009

Aramis by Aramis

I like it a lot. On me, it smells like a lighter, friskier, and all-around more enjoyable version of Hermes Bel Ami. They share startling citrus topnotes, a barely noticeable floral background, and a deep leathery base. However, where Bel Ami gets nauseatingly heavy with a fog of vanilla and oppressive leathery chemicals, Aramis keeps its humor as it dries into a nice light patchouli/sandalwood accord that compliments and freshens the leather notes. Very nice and very wearable. Big thumbs up; I'll be getting a bottle soon.
31st August, 2009

Gucci by Gucci pour Homme by Gucci

I usually like the earthy green violet note in fragrances, so I was pretty excited to try Gucci by Gucci. Unfortunately, the violet is buried under a cloyingly sweet berry-flavored bubblegum note that doesn't go away for some time. This is gradually replaced by a (more) tolerable sweet tobacco note. But that synthetically sweet bubblegummy note keeps tagging along, refusing to leave you alone.

I can see why Gucci made this (they are and have been a very wood-and-spice dominated house lately), and I think the notes used had the potential to be great...but basically the perfumer failed and created a cloying green mess.
26th August, 2009 (last edited: 03rd December, 2010)

Escada Homme by Escada

I like Escada Homme. It opens with fairly straightforward accord dominated by a mandarin note. The mandarin is quickly joined by the famous cognac. I wouldn't be able to identify it as cognac per se, but it is definitely boozy. In the context of the scent, it smells like a nice orange liquor, with cardamon and some other sweet spices in the background.

Up to this point, the Escada smells very thick. I envision big, wet scent molecules. You can almost feel the scent's presence around you (I get the same feeling from M7...must be the thick, fruity, spiciness).

However, over the course of about 20 minutes, the scent calms down and dries out drastically. While I appreciate the opening, this is the part where I start to really like the scent. The accord retains a light, peppery, boozy note from the opening, but the foundation is a heavenly sandalwood/musk duo on me. I wish the patchouli showed through more, but that's ok because it smells great just how it is. A very attractive scent with a beautifully structured evolution. Get it cheap!
25th August, 2009 (last edited: 22nd September, 2009)

L'Homme by Yves Saint Laurent

It's easy to write it off as a just another citrus-fades-to-sweet scent that's basically nice but not much more...but I think it really opens up in the heart and base. The ginger is unusually silky, and the basil (which I wouldn't have guessed would blend so nicely with ginger) is just subdued enough not to give an overly herbal feel. This is layered over a pleasant layer of florals.

Tonka is one of the few sweet notes I can tolerate, and I think L'Homme uses it in the base with a lot of class, and does a good job of counteracting the sweetness with a small dose of barely detectable vetiver. The overall effect is quite smooth; just sweet enough, just green enough.

The best thing for me about this scent is that I can actually pick out each of these notes, and I can still appreciate the whole thing as a cohesive and attractive accord. Many scents either smell good but feature muddled notes, or have decisive notes but smell "spiky" as a result. L'Homme balances the equation nicely.

Yes, it does smell very modern, but it also smells very good.
24th August, 2009

Burberry for Men by Burberry

Wow, a mid-nineties fragrance with a tart, sharp citrus opening, a peppery heart, and an amber/woody base. Who would have thought?

Honestly, we have Platinum Egoiste. We have Jazz. We have XS. We have about 65 more. I don't know which predated which, and I don't care. I'm just sick of smelling it.

The one redeeming quality: I get a pretty nice boozy accord about a half hour in. It then fades to the synthetic woody base we've come to dread.
24th August, 2009

Guerlain Homme Eau de Toilette by Guerlain

The mojito note is surprisingly tasteful and long-lasting on my skin. Mint isn't a note I'm usually attracted to, but placed in this nice boozy nest, it doesn't come off as toothpastey or too sharp like it usually does.

The middle florals are light and pleasant, and I still get just a hint of that boozyness to keep things interesting. As others have said, the base is certainly nothing groundbreaking. But again, it smells good. Just because Guerlain is a mighty house doesn't mean everything they produce HAS to be groundbreaking throughout its evolution. The top and heart are distinctive and effective enough that I'll let the base slide and give it a thumbs up.
21st August, 2009

Armani Code / Black Code by Giorgio Armani

I friend of mine once owned this. I now have a sample. I must say that I like it. It's one of those scents where you can complain all you like about how its linear, it isn't terribly unexpected, it doesn't have a standout ingredient, etc. smells great. Wonderful. You have to give it that. It doesn't last long and it doesn't have astounding projection, but while its there, it is outstanding. Nose glued to wrist.

I don't hold its lack of complexity against Armani. This is a designer scent. It is meant to smell great and appeal to the masses. It does both of those things, and manages not to make a mockery of itself in the process. I say bravo to Armani on this one!
17th December, 2008

Infusion d'Homme by Prada

If you like soapy scents, run, don't walk, to the nearest mall to get Infusion d'Homme. It's an opaque, stark, chalky white soap from the future, with just enough softness that it won't send you cowering. The imagery that comes to mind is a clean room at an Apple product development facility.

Unlike many scents of this type, it has a definite presence, and after the super-sharp topnotes smooth out, a nice lightly sweetened incensey powder enters the background, lending some humanity to a scent that otherwise smells very technological.

I don't actually smell a direct iris note in it, as I do in, say, L'Homme de Coeur. But that isn't really what we're after here. In IdH, the "iris" is more of cold, green powderiness, not a beautiful, blooming iris flower. And that's fine with me.
15th December, 2008 (last edited: 29th April, 2010)

Blue Agava and Cacao by Jo Malone

I like it. It's very smooth and velvety. If anyone has seen the movie Chocolat, this is what I imagine that thick, beautiful hot chocolate that tempts everyone in the town to sin smells like.

This is not a one note chocolate scent though. I definitely detect the green agave cactus note that gives the scent part of its name. A funky, unique, and totally unexpected note that brings back memories my childhood in Texas, where my Hispanic friend's mom would would fry up whole pieces fresh picked agave for lunch, or mince it in with eggs for breakfast. The cinnamon is the icing on the cake, and perfectly rounds out the base of this treasure.

This might be bottle worthy for me because of these associations and because this is the first chocolate scent I've really liked.
13th December, 2007