Perfume Reviews

Reviews by The Aethernaut

Total Reviews: 15

Wonderwood by Comme des Garçons

With a name like Wonderwood I was expecting a pungent, macho blast straight from the woodyard but the opening of this fragrance came across to me as all peppery, androgynous frankincense. The peppery incense took a good five minutes to calm down and reveal any wood at all. First to arrive was cedar, and the combination of incense, pepper and cedar gives the frag a dry (but not dusty) warmth. For the next couple of hours the peppery incense and cedar dance together, with one or the other becoming the more prominent accord but rarely do I get the sense of both melded together. The black pepper remains in the background throughout, adding a cozy, almost dirty/clean spiciness. I really enjoy this effect. After about four or five hours the base is revealed as a sweet, resinous sandalwood, with perhaps a little oud. I am sure there are many more notes that my nose isn't subtle enough to distinguish, but to me cedar and sandalwood are the woods this fragrance is built around. Personally I don't get any vetiver at all which I know could be a disappointment for some; I am quietly pleased for myself, as I often find it embitters an otherwise pleasent drydown. Wonderwood lingers pleasantly on clothing and is especially enjoyable on a cozy sweater or leather jacket.

There isn't a particularly loud fragrance, projection is polite but still noticeable. With all the incense and wood I can definitely see the family resemblance between this and Comme des Garçons 2, although it is a more introverted sibling. It could certainly be read as the more masculine of the two, but I wear this very comfortably as a woman and it is quickly becoming my signature.
14th October, 2016 (last edited: 20th October, 2016)

Pomegranate Noir by Jo Malone

This starts off with a whiff of watery fruit - not sweet I might add, but a rich and slightly sour pomegranate/plum with a somewhat medicinal spice hovering in the background. Within 15 minutes the fruit dissipated and the spice made a huge and melodramatic entrance. That makes it sound very exciting, doesn't it? Well unfortunately the warm medicinal spice smells like embrocation on me - a smell I do actually enjoy, but I would never consider wearing it deliberately. Too many associations with sprained ankles, sore backs and other injuries. It does have quite a kick - this is not a skin scent and despite giving my wrist a good hard scrub it remained firmly in place several hours later when the ghost of that fruity opening reappeared, this time in rather sickly fashion. The extreme drydown is mentholated patchouli. I don't know if my skin ruined this fragrance or if I just don't like it, so I'll give it a neutral to be diplomatic. *Edit* One night, two showers and several fits of frantic scrubbing and I still smell quite strongly of embrocation. Just when I think it's worn off, I suddenly become redolent of eau de sports-injury all over again. I could get a similar effect by smearing myself in Tiger Balm, plus Tiger Balm is considerably cheaper and genuinely medicinal. To hell with diplomacy, this one's a scrubber.
01st June, 2016 (last edited: 14th October, 2016)

Fresh Ginger by Demeter Fragrance Library

The opening on this frag was ok, sweet and mellow like a good ginger beer or maybe even crystallised ginger, but nothing like the fiery cut ginger root I was hoping for. Within minutes it had morphed into a dull soapy musk, and an hour later my arm smells very very faintly of bubble gum where I sprayed it. Sillage was non existent from the get-go. I was excited at the thought of a warm, earthy ginger fragrance, but this most certainly is not it. Disappointing.
10th March, 2016
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L'Air du Temps by Nina Ricci

The opening of L'Air du Temps is a creamy floral, springlike, optimistic and girlish but not too light or insubstantial, nor too sweet. Old fashioned, (I love that there isn't even the faintest hint of fruit in this) but not old lady. I do not have a very sophisticated nose so the only flower I can detect for sure is carnation, the other florals seem to be there to brighten and lift this rather distinctive, spicy bloom.

Unfortunately as the fragrance develops, the carnation wilts - quite explicitly. On me, the smell of decay after a few hours is quite extraordinary. Halitosis, unwashed body and stagnant vase water - luckily this stuff is easy to remove and sillage is not expansive. Every so often I give it another chance, hoping that maybe my body chemistry has changed, but no such luck. I sometimes spray it on my clothes where it retains its freshness better.

I never smelt the original, so I cannot compare. But I find this fragrance so close to being beautiful that I have to wonder what went missing in reformulation, or wether perhaps this was never going to work on me.
03rd November, 2015

My Insolence by Guerlain

A migraine in a bottle. The tiniest spritz threw up an eye-watering, nauseating chemical bomb that just kept getting stronger and stronger and would not scrub off. I didn't get much idea of the notes beyond artificial raspberry, a cloying and unsubtle all-the-sweet-things miasma with marzipan on top before my nostrils became sore and burned out. Why on earth would anyone want to smell of this? Horrific.
28th September, 2015 (last edited: 14th October, 2016)

Green Tea Tropical by Elizabeth Arden

Ye gods people, I'm sorry but to my nose this is foul! I sniffed the bottle and thought - mmmm, lovely, sweet but slightly sharp fresh fruit, not the slightly nauseatingly over-ripe fruitiness that I smell in so many fragrances these days and of course clean, crisp green tea. A potentially lovely fresh scent for an everyday summer day at the office. I gave it a spritz, and for about a minute it was as delightful as I'd hoped. Then it morphed into eau de toilet cleaner, or possibly that shiny medicated bathroom tissue you used to get in hospitals and schools. Then, thankfully within half an hour it was gone. Sadly the headache and sore throat are not. Perhaps it's my body chemistry at fault rather than the fragrance, but I could never wear this.
14th July, 2014

Jour d'Hermès by Hermès

Eurgh. Lemon scented surface cleaner, but not as pleasant. This has to be one of the most artificial things I have ever smelt.
04th April, 2014

Peony by Yardley

Peony opens as a delicate but heady summer floral, very evocative of an English cottage garden. I had high hopes because of this, and for perhaps 20 minutes or so it developed towards being a bright and airy fragrance with none of the screechy, soapy qualities that I sometimes find in old fashioned florals such as this. Sillage is very polite, even mere minutes after spraying I had to lift my wrist to my nose and really sniff to get anything at all. So, a skin scent. I'm ok with that. But after about half an hour, the fragrance had completely gone. Vanished! Well, not completely, there was a sour, bitter, stale note which smelled like perfume that has been worn on a dirty body and not washed off for days on end. Not a sexy dirty... just sad and stale. This surprising metamorphosis took place in little under an hour. It could be that the awful drydown is down to my individual body chemistry and on someone else it would fare better. But the sheer lack of oomph of any kind, from the meager projection to the very swift disappearing act means I couldn't in all conscience recommend it to anyone. So disappointing.
08th January, 2014 (last edited: 26th October, 2016)

Amarige by Givenchy

Wow! This sexbomb of a juice has taught me the difference between daytime and evening fragrance like nothing else ever could. Today I accidentally drowned myself with this during a casual spritz at the Boots perfume counter and immediately knew I was in trouble. Don't get me wrong, the opening was heavenly - and LOUD! To me the opening smells of honeyed flowers - very similar to heather moorland on a hot August day, or a clover field, or linden blossom - a heady sun warmed bouquet, and beautifully done. As it develops an alluring spicyness appears alongside a warm sweet tobacco note - very very grown up and sexy! Unfortunately I'd gone out in my ripped jeans, scruffy t shirt and old sneakers and felt somewhat mortified at wearing such a loud, dressed up frag, but dressed up to the nines and with an agenda this would be perfect. I actually tried to scrub this off before continuing my shop but it didn't budge an inch and I felt I was walking around in a thermonuclear cloud of come hither. Men's heads actually turned as I went by... and looked right past me, as I couldn't possibly be the woman who was wearing that scent.

It walks a real tightrope between being grown up and sexy and downright brazen sluttishness, and at one point in it's development it stopped smelling reassuringly well made and expensive and started stinking of end of the evening desperation, which is why it only gets a neutral. Oddly it was only the sillage that smelt tawdry and cheap, the skin scent was lovely. But with a sillage monster like this, ultimately it's the sillage that counts. That moment did pass and was replaced with a smooth sweet tobacco and tuberose, but really who wants to smell of desperation even for a moment? The drydown is lovely, the sweetness tempered by green and musky notes.

I would certainly give this frag another try - applied carefully and in the right context I may well love it. It is obviously beautifully made and suits my skin chemistry (which is dry and often ruins frags by burning them off too quickly) but this is more of a weapon than a fragrance and not to be worn causally.
28th July, 2011

English Rose by Yardley

This fragrance deserves a much wider audience. I'll second MissMagic's opinion, and say that tested blind you would mistake it for a far more expensive juice. It is a perfect rose, incredibly realistic - you can almost smell the stems and leaves as well as the flowers, and it's beautiful right from the moment you spray until drydown. A generous hint of geranium keeps the scent fresh and interesting. It has a subtle but glorious sillage and lasts for hours.

I have been longing for a decent rose frag since moving to a Turkish neighbourhood were women trail a seductive wisp of rose wherever they go. They splash liberally with huge bottles of good but weak eau de cologne to get that effect, and I've never been able to find anything long lasting to match it until now. This is perfect. A gorgeous womanly scent, to be enjoyed by women of all ages. If you harbour any prejudice against this frag for being cheap or appearing old fashioned, discard them now!

I have just discovered that my beloved English Rose has been reformulated! I have not tried the new version, but I have to say I am now frantically searching for my "old" friend in order to stockpile; I had taken it for granted and splashed it about like water so that my current bottle is perilously low. To know that it will become harder to find is so sad. Why change something that isn't broken? Especially when I read that the new version does not smell much like roses any more :-(
27th July, 2011 (last edited: 08th January, 2014)

Fuel For Life pour Femme by Diesel

On paper this smelled fresh, inoffensive, clean and polite. I detected mainly blackcurrant and something clean, dry and vaguely herbal. A good daytime scent perhaps? It had to be worth a try. I sprayed a little on my wrist and went about my day. Within a few minutes the pleasant fruity/tea opening had warmed and transformed into a sillage monster of embarrassing proportions. The fruity notes became horribly synthetic - not in a sweet, fun, candybar kind of way, but in a cheap car air freshener that provokes motion sickness kind of way. Furthermore, they somehow managed to smell both synthetic AND overripe - eau de trashcan, anyone? No more refreshing herbal note either - that was replaced with a cheap synthetic musk which gusted out of my shirt cuffs every time I moved and made me sneeze and clamp my arms to my sides in horror. I rushed to scrub, scrub scrub this off as soon as I had the chance, but within five minutes of each frantic scrubbing session it came back smelling worse than before. Today, a whole day and two showers since, it is still going. This stuff actually gave me an asthma attack - and I am not very prone to those - and this morning the skin is sore where I sprayed it. So it's a monster allergy trigger to boot.

This smelled worse than lousy on me, and I accept that the problem here may well be my body chemistry. On someone that suits it, the longevity and gigantic sillage would probably be a huge plus. But a fragrance that actually makes me (and potentially others around me) sick? Obviously, that would stop me dead even if it smelt divine.
22nd March, 2011 (last edited: 26th October, 2016)

L'Eau d'Issey by Issey Miyake

I can understand how this groundbreaking juice was originally sold as the scent of water itself - it's coolness could be an interpretation of fresh water, but to me this is simply an elegant and unusual floral. It's use of crisp, clean floral notes which are strong and heady but not cloying or indolic give a powerful illusion of calmness and cool almost to the point of being chilly. Though this fragrance does not play nicely on everyone and can be incredibly variable it is absolutely beautiful on skin that suits it, and for once I am lucky as I can wear this and I know it smells as it should. Most florals screech or turn sour on me so I consider myself doubly lucky that if I chose, I could wear this.

The only reason that I am giving it a neutral is personal taste. This fragrance may well suit my skin and I may be able to appreciate it's calm beauty but ultimately it is just a little too chilly for me, even a little sad. It reminds me of the scent of funeral wreaths; I wish it didn't, but it does. And that is a hard scent to wear well.

22nd March, 2011

DKNY Women by Donna Karan

Utterly pointless, totally banal. Save yourself the money and dab some fabric conditioner behind your ears.
28th February, 2011
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Dirty English by Juicy Couture

I'm going to throw the cat among the pigeons here and say that as a woman I love this fragrance and find it extremely wearable. It opens with a blast of extraordinarily dry, bitter orange - so dry and bitter it's barely recognisable, backed up with a pungent petrochemical quality, a faint whiff of rough moonshine liquor and faint spice. So far so badass. I find this opening bracing and astringent, and it certainly wouldn't be for everyone. It settles down pretty quickly though, and when it does this becomes a woody, warm, dry spicy confection with the boozy muscovado whiff of cheap dark rum. It isn't nearly as rock 'n' roll as it thinks it is though, being a very clean scent on me at least, and once the opening dies down, sillage is polite. I find absolutely no hint of leather or smoke, which disappoints me somewhat as I bought this blind in the hope of both (A miniature bottle, from TK Max). I do very occasionally get a faint impression of skank, but the very dry, fresh hewn wood and rich muscovado ultimately add up to a bright clean wide awake fragrance rather than anything a biker might smell of. The extreme drydown is pleasant and woody.

While this fragrance is unarguably masculine it does not have that tedious acrid tang that many assertively "male" fragrances suffer from. As such I find it very wearable; any woman who prefers her fragrances dark, rich and unconventional would do well to try this. And any man, for that matter ;)
17th February, 2011 (last edited: 28th February, 2011)

Womanity by Thierry Mugler

Well I don't know if it's my skin or this perfume that's playing the Diva, but I get markedly different results on each wearing of this juice. Lets just say that when she is good she is very very good, but when she is bad, she is horrid!

On a good day the opening begins with a burst of fizzy, watery artificial grapefruit with a sweet, milky fig underneath.There is evidently much more going on than just these two notes which make this an incredibly intriguing scent - I am constantly raising my wrist to my nose but my sense of smell is too crude to distinguish what else is in there that makes it quite so compelling. It has a warm inviting quality that makes it very sexy - it's quite how you would wish your own skin to smell naturally. After a while hints of an odd vegetable quality, almost like celery, emerge. The grapefruit eventually dies down leaving me with that delicious fig-and-my-skin-but-better quality. This lasts for quite some time, and at this point of the dry down there is also a hint of something ozonic, but thankfully just a hint. The extreme drydown, which feels like it would go on forever if I didn't wash it off, has a pleasant warm sweet leather and tobacco quality. Sillage is good throughout - with just one spray it is noticeable but not overpowering.

On a bad day the opening is every bit as lovely but lasts for all of ten minutes, to be replaced by a shrill, headache inducing ozone note overlaid with ashtrays which is utterly nauseating. It smells like one of those disgusting cheap car air fresheners that trigger you if you are carsick, and I have to scrub and scrub to remove it. Needless to say, spraying this stuff now feels like Russian roulette and I can't safely leave the house until I know which way she's going to turn.

What I absolutely do NOT get from this fragrance is caviar, anything fishy or even anything salty. As someone has already said, I doubt you'd find those notes unless you were prompted and no one else I know who has worn this has detected anything even remotely suggestive of caviar. It could of course be that fascinating extra quality I sense in the opening - if so, then it is completely unrecognisable. Or perhaps that hideous ozonic reek is it - in which case I pity the poor sturgeon who was forced to spawn in a toxic waste dump to produce such a stench.

Despite my occasionally unlucky experiences with this fragrance it has to get a thumbs up, because when it behaves it is warm, sexy and delightful company. I do wonder if some of those who have tested and disliked it might have had better luck on another day with this unreliable, wayward beauty.
30th January, 2011 (last edited: 28th February, 2011)