Perfume Reviews

Reviews by FumeHood

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Total Reviews: 56

Les Nombres d'Or : Oudh Osmanthus / Oud by Mona di Orio

A previously glorious soft white flowers & oud composition that smelled legit, maintained a gender balance (by the leathery beauty of osmanthus), and boasted a tremendous projection and staying power. It was rich, velvety, and gorgeous and wrapped you in wafts of luxury and warmth.

Alas... either reformulation (for a while now... since the bottles went from cubes to ovals) or, more simply, a heavy dilution of the quantity fragrance oil in the bottles have made this former Md'O stand-out a mere echo of its former radiance.

And it's not just the staying power; the scent does feel cooler in temperature and less enveloping (if less potentially cloying?) than its original release.

So do I like the scent less? Not necessarily. But every time I reach for a tester in hope that I will be able to replace the almost-exhausted original cube that I so value, I grimace and tell myself: "this is nowhere NEAR worth the hefty price tag."

Damnit. It was one of my favorite floral ouds ever. RIP.
09th February, 2019

Sheiduna by Puredistance

Despite a far-from-glowing review in a recent perfume guide, I still find Sheiduna to be one of the most unique, mesmerizing, and other-wordly scents in the Puredistance collection. Fresh, effervescent, and luminous up top, it slowly simmers into an incense-infused warmth of smooth woods, vanilla, and musks in the base (but impressively does not lose the brighter citrus notes, so often fleeting in modern releases). It lasts all day and gets more compliments on this (male) skin than anything else in my collection. If the accused woody amber in the drydown is the reason for dislike, then bathe me in a pool of this woody amber; I likes it.
18th September, 2018

La Lanterne Rouge Extrait de Parfum by Auphorie

After wearing Miyako for about a year and recently being introduced to the the wonders of Eau de Nyonya (and how well it captures the sweet baked essence of Peranakan confections sold right down my street in Singapore), it was time to try another thematic release from this incredibly talented team in the hope that La Lanterne Rouge might re-create the deep, incensey RED that I associate with the smells surrounding Chinese traditional (and specifically Buddhist) festivals.

One moment I feel the complexity and unique quality of this far-projecting sweet-tooth of a fragrance. All things red radiate from my skin, and I find it warm and enveloping.

Moments later, I feel as if I have painted my arm with one of those chisel-tip markers used in elementary classrooms—the ones that are purposefully associated with some recognizable fruit smell. In this case: Strawberry. Not real Strawberry. Synthetic scratch-and-sniff strawberry.

So I suppose it will depend on context and association. This fragrance can read both avant-garde and trashy/cheap. In both cases, it's sweet as hell!

Regardless, it's fun.


28th July, 2018
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17/17 Richwood by Xerjoff

Heaven. Truly, it is. But Heaven's price tag is far too exclusive... especially when the price-of-admission sandalwood note is sweetened and powdered to the extent of losing its most valued (woody, milky) qualities. In purgatory, I'll stay.
16th June, 2018

Nawab of Oudh Intensivo by Ormonde Jayne

Unlike many "intensivos" that seek alterations in the original formula, I do not sense any key changes in the recipe of a lasting favourite - Nawab of Oudh. However, the concentration and resulting longevity are, as expected, bombastic. Go lightly, as the gorgeous opening of green magnolia and citrus elements (damn does Ormond Jayne ever know how to create beautiful green notes!) powers on and on and on.

This is a drop-dead gorgeous woody floral and after milking several 10ml travel sprays of the 2012 original, I opted for a full bottle of the intensivo because this is one of those scents that has a classic structure and will no-doubt be fashionable until the day I die.

Nawab of Oudh Intensivo definitely verges on the feminine at the start, but only because of the sheer projection of its flower power and the treble-clef feel that this imparts to the accompanying citrus notes. Rose and Magnolia are out in force (and It feels, in mood, a bit like Amouage Fate Woman transitioning over time to the creamy sandalwood of vintage Ubar.) With time, this spectacular rubbery creaminess (that must be the oudh?), richer and woodier florals (now more rosy), and the rooty green elements (vetiver) emerge. The result is entirely unisex. It shares DNA with Ormond Man in the base, however I most like the fact that the citrus sticks around, along with the fresh green (especially on paper!) and I ultimately get a sense of creamy sandalwood (though it supposedly contains none). More linear than evolving (beyond the nuclear-powered opening) and the sort of combo that will probably be clearly identified on unlaundered clothes for months after.

Interestingly, very different on clothes and paper (quite green and masculine) than on my skin (florals galore).

Strong, beautiful, fascinating stuff. No regrets.
16th December, 2015

Tango by Masque

Montecristo is Unique. Russian Tea does the impossible - a spicy black tea accord that actually LASTS. But Tango, while solid in its execution of a rich and spicy amber, is ultimately redundant and lacks the smooth complexity of the best representatives of the genre . Buy Ambre Russe instead (and for half the price).
16th December, 2015

Fidelis by Histoires de Parfums

48 hours into this, it is becoming a top contender within the HdP line. Interestingly, it lacks the DNA that I love in so many other offerings from this house but does hold on to the fantastic amber accord in the base (coming close to its Edition Rare neighbor, Ambarem, and reminiscing on Ambre 114). What stands out is the wonderfully smokey, boozy, gourmand quality that holds up to my high affections for 1740.

Fidelis is among the most wearable from the RARE series, the rest of which are either nice-but-boring (the 'golds'), or simply rank (the silver line's Petroleum smells like fetal pig dissection in formaldehyde - not the attractive play on Oud it was shooting for). The addition of a coffee note is lovely and woody without verging on a syrupy tendency. Again... the smoke is the star player here and is ever-present from start to finish, deliciously sweetened by fruits, spices, and rose. If I have one complaint, it may be that this concoction does maintain a sweeter personality. If you don't like sweeter gourmands, be forewarned.

Good stuff, and a nice contender to rich and smokey scents such as Guerlain's Songe d'un Bois d'ete or Mona's Cuir. Interestingly, sometimes the scaffold here seems to play in reverse, and I get an (unlisted) note of citrus... almost a smoked bitter orange peel along with other, more sour elements in the dry down (perhaps the raspberry?) Potential make-or-break elements in the mix - Cardamon and Cumin - are NOT huge in Fidelis, so no need to be scared of these. I would be more in love with this if it were a bit dirtier and less sweet (in an Anubis or Montecristo vibe). Alas, Fidelis promises to maintain my fidelity for the life of the bottle and I recommend that lovers of smokey floral gourmands check this out.
15th December, 2015 (last edited: 24th April, 2016)

MAAI by Bogue Profumo

Big Thumbs Up. It might overtake Chypre Palatin as my favourite modern rendition of a classic dirty chypre that (as many mention elsewhere) is not particularly a new invention but refreshingly close to vintage perfumes that we all feared would never be recreated to their full fanfare potential. This is a refreshingly GOOD ifra-dodger.

If you like Kouros, you must try this as it presents a more elegant, long-lasting, and complex elixir in the dirty floral chypre category. However, if you're not into urine-ous leanings, skip it - you're probably too much of a wimp for Maai. Granted, I don't find it nearly as dirty as some reviews suggest. It is sparkling and bright, in fact, with its radiantly masterful opening of crisp, dry aldehydes and incense. The dirtier elements come later, sit close to the skin and, even then, tend to simmer non-obtrusively with the florals and resins.

Overpriced, I would say. But such is the disadvantage of getting your hands on those hard-to-find, small-production niche fragrances that run the risk (as Bogue´s cologne) of one day becoming extinct. I do not regret the purchase and one spray goes a looooooooooong way!

Edit: Does anyone who owns the discontinued Creed Old English Leather find that Maai dries down to THAT exact scent? (On paper, at least!)
15th December, 2015 (last edited: 16th December, 2015)

Lampblack by Bruno Fazzolari

Excellent, intriguing, but somewhat disappointing as a fragrance. I can certainly meditate on this for a while (and should do this more before writing this), but it comes across as linear to me so my impressions will only change with mood.

Bright citrus with the darkest Ink, yes... but for me it is more akin to a very realistic petroleum accord with a lovely smokiness. Long-lasting and super-projecting. Lampblack is worthy of its accolades (and the thumbs up), but I am just not so sure I want to smell like this for any extended period of time. It is not sexy. And not even particularly attractive. But it is a very unique and fascinating fragrance.
15th December, 2015

Ambre Topkapi / PB by MDCI

Not bad, but boring and not at all modern or worthy of the price. A stand out in the wrong direction for a house with so many works of art.
19th August, 2015

XJ 1861 Zefiro by Xerjoff

Not at all what I imagined. There is a strange inversion of the notes, in my opinion. It opens like Xerjoff´s answer to Masque Milano´s Russian Tea. Replace the mint with cinnamon, clove and cardamon. No citrus whatsoever (where is their famous Xerjoff Bergamot note?). Honey is listed in both the head and base notes, but this is not a thick, sweet, forest honey like you might find in other honey-rich scents. It´s just a spoonful of sweetener for the tea. In fact, what I expected to be a sweeter gourmand turns out to be a dry, herbal cologne with a bit of a pine-needle tinge (reminiscent of the retired Grev from Slumberhouse with the coniferous notes of Dior´s Granville.) The quality is certainly there, but I suppose I was hunting for a spicy warm amber and a boozy, honey-dominated sweetness. Instead, I got unsweetened herbal tea and a never-ending potpourri feel. The projection is strong and It certainly does last, however. Beware the opening: it's a clove and cinna-BOMB.

Good, not great. In the series, this was more interesting than the mellow Naxos, though I still prefer the original (renamed Renaissance) - a blockbuster summer scent of excellent Xerjoff citrus accords with fresh mint and musk. (And I hope they haven´t messed with it - because my original 1861 bottle is almost dry!)
03rd June, 2015 (last edited: 06th July, 2015)

Ruh Al Oudh Attar by Amouage

Not for the faint of heart, Ruh al Oudh is (was) a special edition attar (released alongside Ruh al Ward - a death-by-rose oil) and it is a scent that attempts to get to the heart of the Oud matter without much added frippery. I have never smelled the pure version of Amouage's Silver Oudh pure (a supposedly cleaner and brighter take on our that I am told makes up a happy fraction of their most lauded attar: Homage), or the luxury-priced Oud al Khaloud, so I cannot compare Ruh Al Oudh with other attars that are marketed as the closest thing to pure oud oil that Amouage has produced.

The most interesting facet of the oil is its density. I own several Amoauge attars and none come anywhere near the deep chocolate color or incredible viscocity of this oil. So much so, in fact, that it is a bit difficult to apply it lightly; the drop size is easily 2-3 times what you get from the same glass wand when dipped in Homage, Tribute, Molook, etc. It hits the skin thick and oily is so dense that the brown color can be seen even when gently spread over my arm.

The smell presentes the following, and all at once: damp mineral earth, a creamy lacquered veneer, and a good dose of barnyard. If Xerjoff's Zafar or Abdes Salaam's Oud Caravan made you uncomfortable in their "dirty" elements, I would stay far from Ruh al Oudh. As someone not so turned off by a little skank, I find this quite deep and sensual. It is not particularly smokey, but it and last for 24 hours with a consistent sweetness. It gets a thumbs up for being the closest to the pure oud oil samples I have , but Ruh al Oud is certainly not as engineered in the traditional perfume sense as other blends and does not seem to have top, mid, and base layers. For this reason it may not appear to those looking for the "pretty"

I like to nab a drop in the evening and use it as a meditative scent, but have yet to have the courage to give this a full wear out in this city of 20 million and close contact. In fact, I have had most success with layering, especially with the sweet saffron of Asrar attar - another beauty but somewhat linear in its evolution. I find that the combo of dark out and the sweet baked nature of Asrar made for a really nice combo.

Other combos (with the heavy ambergris blends or with the tobacco sparkle of Tribute) were less successful, as the Ruh al Oud detracts from their perfection and just made them turn sour and "muddy". However, it added a particularly nice depth to Homage, butching the florals up quite a bit without muting the sparkle - this was probably my favorite layering experiment. The combo presented something that I had failed to detect in either - a clear Berry note that seemed to replace the citrus top of Homage.

The fact that I devote so much of a review to layering suggests that Ruh al Oud alone is, perhaps, just not enough. Fair enough, but it's the most straight-forward dark and sappy oud oil (and who knows how much oud is really in there) so it is a welcomed addition to the wardrobe for reference purposes. What I can say is that it smells so overwhelmingly natural, organic, REAL. Next to it, other oud blends and perfumes claiming that ingredient feel like synthetic imitations.
07th February, 2015

Russian Tea by Masque

Outstanding spiced tea fragrance with a rare "lift" or fresh angle. All that I could ever say is better phrased below by the pros. The only thing I would add is that this makes for an excellent tobacco scent. Though not listed in the notes, the smokey, fruity, leafy vegetable qualities and the notes of woody vanilla scream wet-leaf tobacco and, though modern in its execution, lend an element of olfactory memory to this wonderful scent (Hello, Grandpa!). Excellent!
20th December, 2014
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Carillon Pour Un Ange by Tauer

Thumbs Way Up. Likely my favourite Tauer. What he does (that some do not like) in creating a soft and most natural embodiment of nature (this floral accord) and then adding the sparkle and fizz of modern (synthetic) approaches to incense and aldehydes is on gorgeous display here.

And, contrary to another review here, I find this to me incredibly masculine. This effervescent floral is, in fact, far more green than white and is one seriously invigorating beauty from start 'till its long (and tenacious) finish. On my second bottle, and continuing to rake in the compliments whenever I spray this stuff.

Outstanding.
21st November, 2014

Casamorati 1888 Regio by Xerjoff

I am a big fan of this whole line from Xerjoff that seem to all rally around a gourmand approach. Regio is a Delicious Maritime Salt-Cologne that smells like an urban beach boardwalk. Not a new concept, but the quality of the ingredients appears to be far above the norm and, admittedly, I am a bit swayed by nostalgia - it smells exactly of summers as a child, not like the synthetic competition. The sweets and sours and salties are all there - even the suntan lotion. Lasts longer than other salty-citrus that caught my attention (legno di nave / seawood) - at least for me. Comparatively, I find this to avoid the sweetness of some of the other casamorati members and to be the deepest and more meditative of the original line, but the final icing on the cake (the most recent release called simply 1888) is also stunning.
25th October, 2014

Beloved Man by Amouage

Too much has been written about this not being amouage-y enough. The price also tends to disgruntle. Fair enough on both accounts. But if we sit back and breathe this in, forgetting any comparisons and simple analyzing the quality of the scent, Beloved man does NOT disappoint. In fact, it may be one of the most pleasant in the line judged on sheer beauty and sophistication instead of its lack of daring.

Oh my God. This stuff is gorgeous. Resinous woods throughout with a top that is rare for the house... citrus (and it's a rich, spicy orange and elemi instead of the go-to lemon/lime. Grapefruit is listed but I don't get that, as the citrus is sweeter and sparkling. It packs a floral heart (jasmin!) making it one of the most unisex men's releases (discounting Gold) plus plenty of the usual sensuous suspects: patchouli, vetiver, patchouli, saffron, cedar, musk. All there. Together. This would sound like overkill except that the blending is superb and results in the best overall symphony of notes to come out of Amouage in years..

Lovely. And in my collection oh-so-dearly Beloved.
21st August, 2014

Malbec by O Boticário

Wickedly strong and projecting. Unfortunately over used in the region (Brazil), so I really don't grab it often. Still there's no denying that there's something sexy here and anytime I where it on another continent the insane number of compliments becomes overbearing. Woody and bright with, yes, a bit of grapey-sweetness that thankfully never smells like day-after wine dregs. I disagree with the bad blending comment. In fact, it's well blended - just using some potent synthetics that might be abrasive when over-applied. It is rather linear, but the good for the whole ride.
31st July, 2014

Explosions d’Emotions : Skin On Skin by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Nice, but in the end this is Master D's Traversee du Bosphore, without the Apple. The realization of the leather/suede notes in both are very similar, as is their sweetness and boozy qualities. Other shared notes of Iris, Rose, and Musks are so paralleled that Skin on Skin ultimately ends up feeling redundant to me. This is not to detract from its qualities, however. Skin on Skin does last longer and is a safer unisex. It is a bit sweeter than Traversee, however, as Skin on Skin holds onto the sweetness throughout (while the Traversee actually sours... as in green apple... an hour into its evolution). SoS is a good addition for those looking for a boozy floral suede with incredible warmth, but will certainly be too sweet and powdery for many. Test first!
10th July, 2014

Opus IV by Amouage

A polarizing fragrance. Can´t say much more about it than what has already been said (accused) below... only to add my extreme favor of something so nose-tickling and aromatic.

For me this is more about VIBE than individual notes. This is THE holiday scent... and like the holiday sweater... some will want to stay far, far away from this and find it audacious in its color scheme. I find the incense here to be foody, herbal, and incessantly festive. The trick here is the citrus blend. COOL lemon with HOT cardamon and GREEN herbs. There is a bit of a metallic edge - something I always get in Ambre Sultan (it must be an herbal thing) - that annoys me somewhat... but it also keeps this very crisp without being too dry (like, for example, Noir Epices). Thick and loud, but certainly not sweet (fruit cake) or creamy/nutty (Jubilation incense). This dryer quality makes it especially wonderful in the cold, with a good projection and sillage in lower temperatures and a longevity that doesn't disappoint.

Admittedly, I don´t wear this much. It is too distinctive and immediately recognizable - if not as a human perfume - to be something that breaks out of its box (screaming) too often. Then again, I think that this is part of the charm of the whole Opus line... special moments and moods to keep shelved away for the perfect occasion.
09th May, 2014

Montecristo by Masque

A hesitant thumbs up for its unique take on DIRTY. I can certainly understand its degree of popularity here.

I learned something from this scent. I thought I liked dirty. After wearing montecristo a few times, I think I may just like SWEET dirty. I'm also a huge fan of smoke, but frankly... DIRTY + SMOKE = POLLUTION.

Unfortunately, this super dry take on every animalic in the cupboard comes across a bit too BURNT. I don't find it so challenging (Absolue Pour Le Soir, Oud Caravan, and many other potentially offensive scents makes this feel like air freshener in comparison). Still, Montecristo comes across a bit like sitting downwind next to a campfire... the dry smoke starts to burn the eyes and nostrils after a while.

It's good, and gets better with time. But Montecristo is nothing that I would describe as embracing or particularly beautiful to wear.
01st May, 2014 (last edited: 10th May, 2014)

Hard Leather by LM Parfums

Wow, does this skin "polish" ever last. Even if you don´t want to smell like rawhide, buy it for your leather jacket or car seat and snuggle into some very fragrant heaven each time you revisit these surfaces. Hard Leather may be better than the real thing and perhaps even outlast it.

I get the oud quite early, immediately upon application (and much less in the base). This was one of the more unexpected aspects of this scent. I was also surprised to see rum, and then honey listed in the middle ground, as I have trouble detecting much sweetness or the floral elements within a 10 mile radius of this thing. (Though a faint rooty iris does anoint the "cured skin" accord with just a hint of living earth to remind you that your flesh is still alive).

While packing all of the punch and richness of the fragrances mentioned in another review, I'm not sure if the Puredistance M or Richwood analogies are safe here. Yep, Hard Leather is as luxurious and powerful as those two, but there is little light or sparkle allowed into this bottle, and the incense hides in the base in not there to prickle the nose but instead to lower the register to even greater depths with what can be described as BLACK and dried leafy green spices. For the most part, it's all leather, all the time. No supple gloves or suede, but leaning toward the Knize Ten petrol tinge (without the Knize powdery dusting) and best suited for those with no fear of a lash of motor oil or their biker jacket. This is an elixir of heavy molecules that seeps into your pores and stays put, a second skin that's not going anywhere soon.

When it does settle, it's dry aromatic woods with a dash of vanilla, but even this is more of the woodsy bean variety with a roasted tannic quality than any thing you'll find in your dessert.

Hard Leather is not screaming animalics like Aoud Cuir d'Arabie, nor is it a tar-tinged rubber and smokehouse like Lonestar Memories, but it still ranks among the darkest takes on Leather I have tried. If you're over pretty leathers or trying to smell like a Bentley, this could be your cuir holy grail (and that's a good thing, as it will hang on to you long enough to be faintly perceptible when you meet the maker.)






03rd April, 2014 (last edited: 26th April, 2014)

Oud Wood by Tom Ford

Many fragrances seem to reference this when describing their "oud variety." Cheap middle eastern oils try to mimic this smell. Fine, so it defines a category in the multi-faceted spectrum of Oud. Funny thing... most of those other fragrances are superior, last 10x longer, and sell at half the price.

This is certainly a comfortable, unoffensive, dark and woody oud (with no animalic or barnyard qualities) for the 15 minutes of its life span. It reminds me of the sandlewoody base of Memoir man or the synthetic warmth (and remarkably un-band-aid-y quality) of Dark Aoud by Montale. Safe, for sure, but I would need to wear 20ml a day to remember that I was wearing this at all by high noon.

Yawn.
13th February, 2014

Musc Intense by Nicolaï

A Great Masculine Rose

As the third review... I can see that we all agree that this is beautiful, but see it in different lights. One as a detergent-like musc, another as COLD white flowers, and then me... feeling far more ROSE than musc with an added creamy warmth that is all-enveloping on the skin.

Granted, I like about everything this woman creates, and because there are so many sizes available, it is easy to sample (referring to the 30ml sizes at reasonable prices) and appreciate many variations on the Nicolaide that I can generally recognize. This one doesn´t smell so much like PdN, however.

Nowhere is the freshness of her noteworthy CITRUS, or the pastry-like quality of her many takes on VANILLA and TONKA. Most of these carry a wonderful spiciness or floral quality that feels more wildflower/countryside than deep petal oil. But, with this one the wildflowers are absent and a certain formality takes over. Essentially , I think this is her best ROSE. I find it dark and warm - not wet, not cool, not brightly projecting its sweetness. I don´t do much rose, but feel that this is a great masculine rose, approaching the richness of an Amouage. MUSC INTENSE carries the distinction and almond-like buttery smoothness of NEW YORK, and comes highly recommended to rose and musc-lovers alike.

Pros: Creamy, Sensual, Distinguished
Cons: Wait for it... wait for it.... (the dry down trumps the opening)

30th May, 2013

Mon Numéro 10 by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Crayola Crayons. The 52-piece set in a New uncracked Box... bottled. Still can´t decide if I like to smell like 'em, but if you loved that smell of freshly colored figures on manilla paper as a child (and I did), this is heaven.

I have never smelled a WAXIER take on the mineral-ridden incense vibe, and the atlas cedar just enforces the image (as if the crayons have now become wax pencils carved with a sharpener, leaving the cedar shavings that add a rich and spicy woody veneer to the whole composition.

Odd, but delicious, and very long-lasting.
03rd May, 2013

Cuir Mandarine by David Jourquin

Agree with EDJA on the longevity. Important to note that, despite the name, this scent has essentially nothing do do with leather beyond the packaging of the bottle. What it is is a potent and FRESH (where I find it bottle-worthy is in the wonderful citris top) patchouli blend! The official notes list several different patchouli varieties in all phases of the dry down, and the combo is smooth and sophisticated without being head-shoppy. Along with Dior's Patchouli imperial and HdP Noir Patchouli, this is a great scent for path lovers that prefer the saltier, woodier qualities of the plant but sweetened with the signature mandarin note. Not ground-breaking, but very nice.
18th March, 2013

1861 Renaissance / 1861 by Xerjoff

I should say that I'm not huge into FRESH and CITRUS. But this fragrance, for me, is the KING of the sophisticated citrus done incredibly well, and perhaps my favorite in the Xerjoff line (which is also saying a lot - as their is plenty in the gourmand, leather, and tobacco field to be had here and THOSE are my preferred wardrobe-fillers.)

In 1861, the notes of petitgrain, bergamot, (I get a very natural lemon accord) lime, and mint are so real and sparkling without tickling the nose with anything approaching detergent citrus. I prefer this to Chanel's Exclusif Eau - which has always been a reference for cologne.

As with other citrus tops in the shooting stars line, there is MUCH more here hidden in the wings, with a warm and woody core that THANKFULLY never abandons its citrus upbringing - rather it just smooth the bright notes out. I don't get the amber, but the muscs and herbal-woods allow this to work year-around as both cool and warm scent.

Long-lasting, impressive projection, and an eternal compliment-nabber, this is THE CITRUS recipe that those crazy Italians are famous for.

Highly recommended even at their prices.
14th March, 2013

Les Déserts d'Orient - Songe d'un Bois d'Été by Guerlain

In complete disagreement with the review below, Songe is a long-lasting (if only medium-projecting) inoffensive crowd-pleaser. Yes, it is far richer and more syrupy than the other two in the middle east series (which is not a quality that turns me off when it comes to scents marketed to a population that can handle turning up the volume and opulance of masculine-leaning scents.)

This scent had me from hello, but with subsequent wearings it has become clear that there is nothing particularly new here except that Guerlain has gone to the trouble of creating the perfect blend of three of my favorite comfort scents - and they put it all in a gorgeous bottle to boot (if for a hefty price tag).

Songe d'un Bois d'Été is Guerlain's take on (1) Dior's Leather Oud... subsequently sweeted with the house's own masterful (2) Tonka Imperiale... and made strikingly carnal with a lesson from (3) L'Artisan's Al Oudh. To be more specific, Songe packs Less heat and suffocation than the top notes of the Dior (a welcomed quality to many) but then envelopes a woody heart with a healthy portion of tonka basting that gives it that sweetened Guerlain-aide magic. One thing that I really liked, and quite rare for a Guerlain, is how it gets a little dirtier with time. There is a really fine cumin note (hence my association with L'artisan's Al Oudh) that, because of the sweetness, will never be confused for B.O. While I suppose I could see all this together as something redundant, I am really enjoying the sultry punch packed into this one bottle. Though the result is a lavish and smoky rendition of how the Arab world "does wood," do not assume that this is an oud scent. It is equal parts dry Cedar and Hot Leather, smoked in incense and garnished with a drizzle of cherry-tonka sweetness.

Very rich. Incredibly beautiful. Completely Unisex. Highly recommended.
08th July, 2012

Oud Stars : Fars by Xerjoff

A very agreeable scent. Begins in the typical floral-oud combo, though brighter and more effervescent than many in the genre. It confuses me. I get a rose (if on the wet and fruity side) along with the jasmine - but there is no mention of the rose in the notes. Maybe it is because rose is so commonly paired with oud that I am creating my own subliminal rose. Regardless, I prefer darker, almost chocolatey roses with Oud and woods, so the sweeter flowers (the geranium I do not smell, but jasmin yes, and the lavender lifts your spirits throughout) and house-standard citrusy/bergamot elements come across as a bit at odds with the heart of the fragrance. Then again, I felt the same with Kobe back when it was the new sensation. Easily wearable - though not a barbershop contender to my nose and not particularly masculine either. If you like scents that develop a lot, this one certainly changes its face a few times, becoming much warmer and woodier after several hours, and that is when I most enjoy it. No doubt, Fars is the brightest, cleanest, and most easily approachable of the Oud Stars lineup. A thumbs up, yes, but is it worth the dough?
08th July, 2012

Oud Stars : Gao by Xerjoff

OK. So this is saffron. Now I get it. And I now can say I love it. The bombastic dominating spice at the head, midsection, and tail of Gao is much more earthy and smokey than what I thought to be Saffron in Noir de Noir or Red Aoud. Someone in an initial discussion on these boards likened Gao to other Montale Ouds (Aouds :-), a similarity that I also sense so much to the extreme of confusing this with Black Aoud once some paper strips had been resting a few days. It is the dry down where the similarity is apparent (so I assume a similarity in the oud accord.) Though the rose and saffron are really polar opposites on the dry-and-dusty continuum, Gao carries THAT style of medicinal oud (ala Montale) - whether real or synthetic - for those wondering. This is quite different than the velvety richness of the Laotian Oud in Zafar or the Barnyard sensation of Najaff and perhaps Al-khatt. Still it is fantastic, tenacious, and striking. Thankfully, it does have a softer side, though it never reaches any of the sweetness suggested by notes in the base. Until the peppery saffron ceases, the other players don't really stand a chance. Loud. Spicy. Intoxicating. Magnificent.
08th July, 2012

Oud Stars : Zafar by Xerjoff

in Zafar, the Oud does not play second fiddle, setting it on a shelf above the other Xerjoff "Oud Stars". And with an Oud note this silky, why would it? No need to decorate and perfume the star player to death. The black pepper note is quite natural and subtle, and the sweetness afforded by light floral elements is so delicate that you cannot classify this as a rose-oud perfume. In fact, it hardly feels like a perfume; Zafar projects an aura as a piece of dry fragrant wood might. I don't know much about pure oud oils, but when they laud the fact that this particular our component is aged, you can feel the legitimacy - like you do tasting a 30-year port next to the 10-year-old. The deep pungent qualities in the wood here are hypnotic, and I disagree with those claiming that there is nothing new to be found here: yes, this IS a WOW fragrance in the Oud genre. There is nothing overtly barnyard (or camel´s ass :-) about Zafar yet it projects a smoother and more legitimate oud character than the other westernized oud-prominent blends I have experienced in recent years. (Read: it is borderline skanky) The sensual resins of the Omani incense and pepper at the base play on and on for days (especially on clothing) even after the glow of the woody elements has faded. Zafar is absolutely one of my favorite two in the series (Gao is the other), and the one that should survive on its own should the series become, indeed, limited (as the boxes decree).
08th July, 2012