Reviews

Reviews by Wordbird

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Tuca Tuca by Gorilla Perfume

How very strange! The one thing I get loud and clear from this fragrance is not listed in its notes: Jasmine. To be specific the gorgeous, rich but not too indolic jasmine of Lush's Flying Fox shower gel and also Godiva shampoo bar.

But unlike the Flying Fox temple balm I was happily using as a solid perfume, this fragrance has progression and a rich and sophisticated charm. The rich jasmine topnotes are boosted by an almondy, 'play doh' note and then it gently settles down and stays on the skin in a sensuous melange of jasmine and woods.

I would wear this if I wanted to seduce, as I imagine the heady warmth would make a man's head spin. Yet it's not overpowering and remains close to the skin, so is safe to wear in crowded situations without fear of seeming slutty.
14th September, 2010

Joop! Homme by Joop!

Hugged a male friend the other night and noticed his nice fragrance. Asked what it was. Joop, says he. OK, I knew it wasn't Habit Rouge (it wasn't THAT nice) but it was nice.
So there you are: the 44 year old woman's point of view. Make of it what you will.
11th August, 2010

Vol de Nuit Évasion by Guerlain

Latest news: Because of Attrape Coeur being withdrawn by Guerlain, Vol de Nuit Evasion has also been taken off the shelves. (It was indeed the edt version of AC and nothing to do with VdN.)
01st August, 2010

Agua Perfumada Lirio de Agua by Zara

Presented in a large 200ml chunky rectangular bottle with a simple black cap that looks a lot like the Marc Jacbos splashes (and Chanel Exclusifs), this will look good on a dressing table. Always a good start.
Not so expensive as any of the above though, which is another plus point if you're looking for something simple and pretty that you can splash on with abandon.

The notes listed are:
Top - Tangerine/ Mandarina
Middle - Waterlily/ Lirio de Agua
Base - Sandalwood/ Madera de Sandolo

It's a nice, fresh, slightly citrus, rather cut-grass opening, with hints of warmth beneath as it develops on the skin. It reminds me of L'Eau par Kenzo and I'll be wearing it in similar circumstances - summer days when I want freshness without getting into soapy or citrus territory. The heart is gently warm with perhaps a bit of floralcy but nothing I could put my finger on. The base is similarly gentle, blending into the skin and quietly seeming to disappear.

If you were looking for a nice gift for a female friend, this would be good. It's not sexy or sultry,(so if you're a guy, no worries about giving the wrong impression,) but it feels and looks more expensive and luxurious than it is. I think younger women would appreciate this as it's a change from the Frootichooli and Superfruity fragrances that are often aimed at them. I know my goddaughter, who is 21, prefers this type of quiet and calm fragrance. In fact, I'll be sending decants to both my goddaughters, the 13 year old as well as the 21 year old.
17th June, 2010

(Untitled) by Martin Margiela

Wah!!!
I expected to love this, as I'm in a massive green phase at the moment. And yes, the top notes were great - greeeeeen! just as I'd hoped. But then, ew. Suddenly it started to smell like I'd forgotten to wash my hands after going to the loo. Very nasty. I seriously considered scrubbing.

The dry down came back to being a decent green, and was enjoyable again. But the yuckola period made it a definite no-buy for me.
15th June, 2010

Cerruti Image Woman by Cerruti

A recent discovery and a welcome addition to my School Run collection, this is a refreshing but retiring fragrance. I should say it's utterly unisex, with its citrus and woods. It's clean and I find it lasts all day, which is great. I intend to wear it a lot this summer - I think it's ideal for hot weather, partly because it does the 'disappearing and reappearing' trick - it doesn't overwhelm. On the downside, it does obviously have the slightly synthetic aspect that seems to be compulsory in fresh scents nowadays. But it manages it so well that I give it an unequivocal thumbs up.
15th June, 2010

Twilight - The Lovely Collection by Sarah Jessica Parker

Reading the descriptions of the notes and some of the reviews of this perfume, which mentioned amber, incense and sandalwood, I became very curious about it. I wondered if this was finally Sarah Jessica's fabled 'own scent', created by layering Bonne Bell Musk , Egyptian Musk oil and CdG Avignon to create a potent, spicy animalic whole which sounds glorious.

From reading Chandler Burr's book, "A Perfect Scent", it's apparent that good old SJP actually does give a damn about the perfumes she creates and had long-term plans to create something that was darker, edgier and not at all like Lovely (though I believe that Lovely is a modern masterpiece and my generation's White Linen). I can't wait to smell it when she does and hoped this was my chance.

Then I spritzed. Sniffed - hmm, kind of weak, meh. Bit watery, rather like Covet in its lack of anything. And then, poof, it disappeared. Topnotes to zero within a minute. I walked away from the counter very disappointed. Repeated sniffing over the next 10 minutes gave no joy - it had gone completely.

An hour later I was browsing in a bookshop. Lifting my hand to brush hair from my face, I caught a waft of something musky and rather fabulous - Twilight was back and this time it was mucky. Musk and woods and perhaps a tiny smidge of spicy/incense but I struggled to catch it. I swear there was some patchouli in there and the musks are definitely not the laundry-fresh variety! I'm going to buy a bottle, because while the topnotes are non existent this is a great dirty musk base and I can see me layering it a lot.
21st April, 2010

Spiced Green Tea by Elizabeth Arden

Cheap as chips (that's not a criticism). Light and gentle, this reminds me of Clarins Eau Rescourcante/Tranquilite - the one in the blue bottle. I think it's gently rosy or floral and has some easy woodsy basenotes. Sorry - that's not a great description but if you come across this do give it a try. I heartily recommend this for daytime wear if you have to keep sillage to the minimum. It is refreshing like an eau de cologne and equally light, easy and inoffensive to wear. I should think it would be a nice present for a lady who isn't a perfumista but likes to wear perfume every day, or possibly for a younger woman who's just starting out.
27th March, 2010

Incense Extrême by Tauer

Here's what the creator, Andy Tauer says about this fragrance:
"I wanted to create an incense that is intense and clear.
A minimalist, cubist interpretation of incense, a touch of spices, powdery orris, dry cedar wood and ambergris supporting the frankincense that is rich, crisp, red and intense."

He did it. Though I swear that when I spritzed, the first note that hit me was a really true and pure lavender. (I do love that classic lavender/incense combo. It just works somehow.) Anyway, that disappeared after ten minutes and now it's wearing in, the pure, clear incense is the whole thing. Beautiful.

I'm quite picky about my incense and this is superb. There's no rasp to it (my beef with Black Cashmere) and it's not too dry and ashy. But equally, there's no sweetness to it and no flowers. This is completely unisex. I like the comparison with CDG Avignon, though I haven't worn it in a while.

It's obviously related to L'Air du Desert Marocain, but it is slightly different. As if the melody was played with a key change. This is a little bit quieter, I think. (I also haven't worn L'Air for a while.) It is certainly beautiful and very mellow and I think enormously wearable. I may need a bottle.
20th November, 2009

L'Instant de Guerlain by Guerlain

Gentle, easy-going and pretty. Not at all taxing.
None of those attributes are negative.
This is a great perfume to choose for a gift for a non-perfumista. And the Guerlain name is a nice little glam-bam on top.

But for 'one of us'? Hmm.
I prefer L'Instant Magie, the slightly woodier flanker.
16th November, 2009

No. 23 by Ava Luxe

A fabulous scent with an unusual scented-geranium-leaf note that lasts well and is fabulous in hot weather. I have worn this so regularly since I bought it early in the summer that it has almost become a signature scent. And I have no scientific evidence for this, but I swear I have been bitten by fewer mosquitos this year.
Yet more wonderful quality perfume from a fabulously inventive perfumer.
15th November, 2009

Purple Fantasy by Guerlain

Perfectly nice, very polite, but like Brielle, I was left uninspired.
I like a rose and sandalwood blend well enough but... I want more than this from Guerlain. If I smelled this blind I would think it was lovely and gentle and a jolly good creation from a massmarket perfumer like Coty. I mean - this is what a celebuscent really ought to smell like, as opposed to the ghastly fruity hairspray things some of them put out.

So to sum up: not terrible, but not good enough for Guerlain.
02nd October, 2009

Arpège pour Homme by Lanvin

Yes it's sweet. But that should just encourage us ladies to give this one a try. I think it's a very nice woody fragrance with a bright and sweet top that isn't too much (this is not L de Lolita Lempicka or Aquolina Pink Sugar). There is a watery accord in the top notes that some might find offputting, but this sees to pass off completely to let the woods shine out. And there's none of that 'aftershave accord' that haunts so many masculine frags and puts me off wearing them in public.

I think this is a very nice woody feminine. I like it better on me than the women's version of Arpege.
06th September, 2009

Vamp by Ava Luxe

You may think of sandalwood as a serene, contemplative, even spiritual fragrance, but that's not the way Serena plays it in this perfume. Here it's animalic, lusty and luxurious. A powerful oriental, with all that implies (apply lightly at first, reserve for evening wear etc etc) this is a testament to the extraordinary talent of this young woman. Frankly, it's filthy; but in the most classical and refined way. Wear to the opera, not to church.

01st July, 2009

Prada Tendre by Prada

So light it's not really there. I love the list of notes and hoped this would be a real corker, but it's as if the perfumer has taken too much inspiration from Jean-Claude Ellena and diluted everything down to homeopathic levels.

Very polite, perfectly nice. Utterly wearable for any polite occasion: office, church etc.

Thinking about it, this might very well be a good choice for younger women as an alternative to the sugary/fruity things they seem to get served up nowadays as 'what all the cool kids are wearing'. I think an ideal 'starter' scent, especially for girls who are not keen on flowers, fruit or sweeties and want to smell good but not overpowering or citrusfresh. Buy this for your daughter and start her on the path.
26th June, 2009

Secret Obsession by Calvin Klein

I have a little theory about Secret Obsession. I think it is a Feminite du Bois knock-off.

For the first few minutes of "plums and woods" it's a dead ringer for FdB, I swear. But I am not overkeen on FdB anymore - I find it too big, too radiant and too loud - I actually prefer Bourdon's reworking in Dolce Vita and think it works better as a baseline. Here though, it's been used as a melody with woody musks as a base and some of that strange salty note shared by Eau des Merveilles, Lolita Lempicka and Gres Cabaret, to cut the sweetness of the fruit.

I find it immensely wearable. Just when I am starting to tire of the big fruit and wood opening, the salt cuts in and saves it, plus it wears close to the skin and doesn't do that FdB massively radiant thing which I struggle with. And it's a damn sight cheaper. A good result all round as far as I'm concerned.

This is a modern feminine oriental that isn't tarty or tacky and is aimed at women over 25. Hoorah! No, the longevity isn't huge, but that's not actually a bad thing. You can wear this to the office knowing you won't make the classic 80s gaffe of gassing everyone in the room with your fragrance. And if you want to make more of an impression after lunch, you can always reapply.
21st May, 2009

Miranda by Fragonard

I adore this. It smells of summer and sunshine, but you can quite happily wear it in cold weather.

Well-composed and intricate, it isn't a simple 'suntan lotion' scent, so don't let the coconut fool you. It's a beautiful perfume from a fragrance house that is often overlooked.

I definitely recommend this, but if you're new to Fragonard, I suggest visiting their website and ordering a set of samples - excellent value for money and a great way to try a very good range of scents.
21st May, 2009

Libertine by Vivienne Westwood

Gentle and soft without being sweet, Libertine feels like a spring day.

It's not what I'd usually buy, but I think this is a great daytime scent. Perfect for office wear, it's gentle and inoffensive and stays close enough to the skin not to interfere with colleagues.

24th April, 2009

Dior Addict by Christian Dior

A gigantic sweet vanilla bomb. I absolutely love it and think it's a wonderful vanilla. (And I've tried a lot of them, including the niche stuff.) Don't let the fact that it's widely available put you off trying it.
10th April, 2009

Dolce Vita by Christian Dior

Pierre Bourdon's reworking of Feminite du Bois (which he co-created with Christopher Sheldrake). Every ounce of Bourdon's classical training under Edmond Roudnitska shows through here. He takes the fruit and wood (cedar and plums) of FdB and uses it as a bassline, adding a pretty melody of fruit and flowers to give it a more goodnatured and sunny character.

If like me you find FdB a bit too big for you, try Dolce Vita. It's a lovely perfume at home at any time of the year and well worth seeking out. Something of an underrated gem, I think.
10th April, 2009

Yatagan by Caron

Hubba hubba!

Bathroom cleaner, creosote, wood, more wood, pine needles and butchness. This smells like a forest. And possibly also a lumberjack. It really is good.

I'll be wearing it and to hell with the consequences, but I do wish I could bump into a chap sporting this cologne. I'd probably follow him down the street. And into a bar. :)
25th March, 2009

Tocade by Rochas

I expected something 'pretty pretty' from all the rave reviews of Tocade, but it's much more interesting than that. There's a salty quality to it that reminds me of Eau des Merveilles and the Lolita Lempickas, and more particularly of Gres' Cabaret, with which it also shares a rosy heart and a woody, ambery twist. It's great, it's interesting and yes, it smells really good.

I bought a bottle and my (very picky) Mum immediately swiped it. Is that enough of a recommendation for you?
20th March, 2009

Nu Eau de Parfum by Yves Saint Laurent

For me, this is the ultimate incense scent. It is the prettier sister of Donna Karan's Black Cashmere, with the slight floral element smoothing out the harsh rasp of BC's aggressive attitude. It is beautiful on a cold winter's day and equally at home in jeans and t-shirt or a little black dress and heels.
Such a shame it has been discontinued.
19th March, 2009

Madeline by Ava Luxe

This sweet elixir is as comforting as any of Ava Luxe's milky vanillas, but the addition of spices brings it to another plane. To my admittedly blunt nose it has a heart of soft leather. Remarkable. Utterly cozy and delicious, I hope Serena will eventually make this part of her regular line.
01st February, 2009

Hiris by Hermès

I appreciate the artistry and intelligence of this perfume.
The cold, metallic top is remarkable and unlike anything else I've smelled; it then opens out into a warmer, more traditional iris fragrance.
Sadly though, it just wasn't me and I swapped my bottle away.
12th January, 2009

First by Van Cleef & Arpels

I have to be honest, this was a scrubber on me. I am a massive fan of Jean Claude Ellenna, but this is totally unlike his more famous creations, like L'Eau d' Hiver. I found it physically nauseating, it was so completely over-the-top with a rotten fruit note that repelled me completely. I was astonished by the strength of my reaction to it. I would rather smell Paris Hilton's CanCan than this.

I would suggest that if you want to try it, do so on a day when you won't be going anywhere afterwards and don't get any on your coat as it has remarkable persistence.
31st December, 2008

Chinatown by Bond No. 9

I can see what the appeal is. To me there was a rounded sweet opening that then unfolded into a smooth peach, I would guess it's the same aromachemical as is used in Guerlain's Mitsouko, Attrape Coeur and Vol de Nuit Evasion (please note it's Evasion, the travel exclusive that is nothing like the regular Vol.)

This peach note is often paired with rich golden notes by Guerlain, to create something that I sometimes find too much to stand, or in Mitsouko, balanced out with bitter oakmoss, which I still find somehow indigestible. In Chinatown it has been delicately balanced to keep it in check, but it has avoided bitterness. I would call it a 'white peach'. The base is gently woody and musky and it has decent longevity. All in all, I am impressed by the handling of a chemical I know I struggle with, but I doubt I'd buy a full bottle.
07th December, 2008

Loukhoum by Keiko Mecheri

What a treat!

I would put this into the same general bracket as Kenzo Amour in terms of audience and appropriateness. I would say it was suitable for all ages, including young girls, and it's perfectly acceptable for work or any kind of setting where you want to keep your perfume inoffensive, such as the theatre, dinner and work, especially in caring professions.

My first impression was of sweetness, exactly like sugar hitting your tongue. Because I'm used to rose-flavoured Turkish Delight, I expected a distinct rose, but this has none. The initial sweetness wasn't cloying and soon calmed down into a soft, sweet, almondy, slightly woody gentleness. It lasted all day long and was very pleasing even after more than a dozen hours. Indeed, it was still subtly lingering the following morning.
07th December, 2008

Sexy Darling by Kylie Minogue

This is better than you might expect for a scent with a celebrity's name on it. I was impressed; I may even buy a bottle.
I found the topnotes quite sweet, but it settled well and moved smoothly from the initial sweetness through a balanced heart to a lovely woody musk base. It taps into the current trend for woody scents and does a nice job. Worth a try.
29th November, 2008

Can Can Paris Hilton by Paris Hilton

Vile. Sweet fruit in synthetic syrup. A scrubber.
One good thing to say about it: it's not as bad as the original Paris Hilton perfume.
29th November, 2008