Reviews by odysseusm

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    odysseusm
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    Bois de Filao by Comptoir Sud Pacifique

    Top: lemon, bergamot, papyrus
    Mid: baie rose, violet leaf
    Base: patchouli, filao wood, amber, white musk
    I tried Bois de Filao because I am interested in woody scents. This is not particularly woody.
    The opening is nice and citrusy. Don’t know what papyrus smells like but there didn’t seem to be any dry leafy/paper-like smell here. A hint of wood peeks out from time to time, but it is drowned in a sweet accord of patchouli and powdery, vanillan amber. Don’t care for this one at all!

    19 December, 2007 (Last Edited: 05 April, 2008)

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    Cumming by Alan Cumming

    Base notes of leather, peat fire, highland mud, burnt rubber and white truffle ground the scent with rugged sensuality, while the core notes of cigar, heather, Douglas fir and rubber contribute to its sharpness. The fragrance is completed with spicy top notes of bergamot, black pepper, Scotch pine and whiskey.” (from Cumming website)
    I’ve included the product blurb in order to probe the issue of hype versus reality. At the outset, I can say I kind of like this scent; however it is very different from what the ingredients or the promotions suggest. This is not a rugged romp in the moors, nor is it an industrial noveau scent à la Comme des Garçons. It is a soft, coy, almost pretty scent and... depending on one’s perspective, a bit precious. I tried Cumming because I am interested in anything containing pine. That, plus all these oddball elements, intrigued me. The opening is not “spicy.” It is unusual, I struggle to categorize it but would call it toasty-nutty-gourmand. At times it is a bit like marzipan (sweet almond paste). The core is not “sharp.” Tiny, tiny micro-bits of pine might be there, to freshen the scent. Also there’s a very mild whiff of a distant cigar. At times there is a briny, creamy aspect. The dominant element in the middle is heather, a light floral scent. Finally the base does not have “rugged sensuality.” It sits very close to the skin, and is subtle and low-key. It lasts a couple of hours. I don’t think this would offend anyone, and it might smell quite nice on women. Really guys, there is nothing macho here so don’t expect otherwise.

    18 December, 2007

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    Notre Flore Cedre / Cedar by L'Occitane

    Head: grapefruit, wood sap
    Heart: cumin, tobacco leaves
    Base: cedar, tonka bean
    L’Occitane’s Cedar is a very pleasant new scent. The reviewer below has provided such an accurate analysis that at many points I simply echo what he’s said. There is a fresh citrus and resinous sap opening which is very invigorating! It is excellent, and it is my favorite part of the scent. The tobacco leaves have an interesting, creamy green-leaf aspect. The cumin is tangy but not excessive. These two elements combine very successfully. The tonka bean smoothes well. I have a sensitive radar for tonka and vanilla so I find that this does give a very slight oriental aspect (but not a problematic one). The cedar starts slow and stays low. It is a mellow, gentle wood tone; not like pencil shavings (e.g., Maestrale) or a strikingly woody scent (e.g., the superb Méchant Loup). This is a cheery Mediterranean style fragrance, like Essenzia di Zegna but with a more interesting woody character. It would be great on a summer day or for daytime/work situations.

    17 December, 2007

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    Corteccia di Pino by Borsari

    Corteccia di Pino fragrance notes: orange, bergamot, lemon, mint, thyme, wild pine, lavender, sage (Borsari product pamphlet information).
    I specialize in woody/pine scents so I had to try this magnificent and hard-to-find scent, sadly discontinued (as are many in the fascinating Borsari portfolio). I got a cute little mini bottle in a set, and it was worth the effort. This is one of the woodiest scents I’ve tried! It is like Pino Silvester, but much woodier and with a haunting antique patina. Also it’s a bit like Victor’s Silvestre, a similarly aged and yet still very evocative scent. This is an excellent pine wood scent, a bit herbal/green, with lovely deep forest smells. There is an aged quality about it, like brandy. I enjoy CdP very much, and wish it was still in production.

    16 December, 2007 (Last Edited: 10th November, 2012)

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    Ô pour Homme by Lancôme

    (oops, I posted this on the women's version, here is where it should be!)
    O pour Homme is green, fresh, a bit floral but not sweet. It develops a grassy character. This is a light chypre. Some have called it cold, harsh, sharp – I don’t find it so frosty. It is cool and quiet. It may have rosemary and vetiver in it. I don’t detect any ginger. Nothing extraordinary here, but it is pleasing.

    16 December, 2007

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    Yatagan by Caron

    I don’t understand what all the fuss is about, concerning Yatagan. Some call it a wonderful walk in the woods, others talk about its uncompromising sharp/masculine character or having some kind of esoteric initiation-ritual aspect. To me, this simply fits into the late 70’s/early 80’s old-school scents of Quorum, Trussardi Uomo, and Jules. It reminds me of those: powerful, spicy, intent on making a statement, torpedoes-be-damned. It has a very tangy, herbal spicy-green opening that is quite interesting. The middle is patchouli (tolerable, not excessively sweet) with only the very faintest hint of pine. The base is a fairly attractive spicy leather tone that reminds me a bit of Equipage or Chevalier D’Orsay. A cold-weather scent, and applied in micro-doses it is OK.

    13 December, 2007

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    1920 Extreme by Bois 1920

    I am a huge fan of fern-like scents, and I find much to appreciate in 1920 Extreme. It combines notes of fern, gentle spice and wood (although neither wood nor spice are listed as elements). The beginning fern notes are beautiful and aromatic, and are very satisfying. My one reservation here is the ending flourish of tonka and vanilla. I can see that these add a richness and depth dimension to the moss. At times I enjoy them, at other times I find them just a bit too much. Normally I can’t stand vanilla notes so my guarded endorsement shows how well-made this scent is! If you like fern with a dollop of vanilla, then you will enjoy this. For fern scents without the vanilla, try Trumper’s Wild Fern or Penhaligons English Fern, each are magnificent classics, absolutely brilliant. But 1920 Extreme is pretty good.

    12 December, 2007

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    Zeste Mandarine Pamplemousse by Creed

    Time for a revised review. I have some slight reservations, since "Zeste" in the title leads me to expect bright citrus-rind notes (none) and "Pamplemousse" leads me to expect grapefruit (none). There are lovely blended citrus notes, and these are very quickly mellowed by the lemon bark woody note. Indeed, for me the citrus is so brief and mellow that it is not noteworthy.
    The scent does have a strength, and that is in the later phase into the dry-down. The wood and florals interact very well. The florals are not sweet or heavy. Together they create a chord that is haunting in a woody-aromatic way. It wears very well for a couple of hours.
    I find this requires a generous application in order to find enough to comment on. Even so, it is a very subtle scent, one which sits close to the skin. I'd say it is very good but not outstanding.

    11th December, 2007 (Last Edited: 21st February, 2011)

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    Green Valley by Creed

    I find that Green Valley has three very distinct phases. The first is a very distinctive opening of very berry fruit and perky green leaves, with a little freshening mint. Patchouli takes over, and it is big, tangy and sweet. It dominates for a while, and I like this phase the least. Then the patchouli burns off and one is left with the most marvelous sandalwood/musk combination. It is lovely, with fine wood notes. This is such a beautiful scent, and I’m sure it would be enjoyed by both men and women.

    11th December, 2007

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    Park Royal by Anglia Perfumery

    Crown Park Royal fragrance notes (from Anglia website)
    top: Sicilian lemon, galbanum, cedar leaf and rosemary
    heart: lavender warmed by a touch of nutmeg and clove
    base: patchouli, amber, moss and precious woods.
    I think it is important to note that these elements differ from the Basenote list. In particular, eucalyptus is not listed; rather there is galbanum and rosemary which could account for the spicy green and slightly minty scent (though galbanum is quite different from eucalyptus). Park Royal has a lovely brisk opening, very aromatic and green. The middle likewise is aromatic, a bit of lavender, mostly woody and tangy spices (cloves and nutmeg). I don’t find the cloves to be problematic. There is a substantial difference between dried cloves in a spice jar and what we find here: these are modulated and not pungent. Admittedly they bestow an assertive air to the scent. The base has carefully controlled patchouli and amber; they are not sweet nor heavy. I like this scent, I find it to be a delightfully warm spicy wood. It is not particularly mossy, certainly not in the green-moss Trumper/Pehaligon fern style. This reminds me of R&G’s Open or YSL’s Rive Gauche.

    10th December, 2007

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    L'Homme Sage by Divine

    I’ve tried L’homme sage three times. It is an interesting, complex scent with attractive features, and I wanted to give it fair consideration. Bottom line: this is probably the loveliest patchouli-amber scent I know. My problem is that I find those elements to be rich and sweet, and I am not greatly attracted to them when they dominate a fragrance. This is a spicy, rich scent: aromatic at times with some very good wood notes. The incense has a good resinous quality. This is not a business or day scent, quite frankly it is a date scent and probably works quite well in that regard. My taste is more austere than this style, so I admire it but only give it a neutral rating. But I can see why it is popular.

    09 December, 2007

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    L'Air du Desert Marocain by Tauer

    Top: petitgrain, lemon, bergamot
    Mid: coriander, cumin, jasmine, geranium, cistus (labdanum)
    Base: bourbon vetiver, cedarwood, vetiver, vanilla, patchouli, amber
    L’Air du Desert Marocain – what a beautiful name! The scent too is lovely, yet I only give it the sideways thumb rating. It may be a bit churlish for me to complain that this lovely oriental is exactly that, namely a scent with exotic spices on a sweet amber base. Vanilla and amber are present at every stage, and surround everything in a velvety brown cloud. Vanilla is a deal-breaker for me, unfortunately. This has superb resinous notes, excellent cedar and vetiver, and good dry spices. If you don’t mind vanilla then give this a try!

    07 December, 2007

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    Tom Ford for Men by Tom Ford

    Top: lemon leaf, italian bergamot, mandarin, basil, violet leaves, ginger
    Mid: orange flower absolute, black pepper, tobacco leaf absolute, grapefruit flower
    Base: deep amber, cedarwood, virginia patchouli, vetiver, oakmoss, leatherwood resin, cypriol root.
    Well the Ford website has lots to look at and you can play with the image of the bottle to get the above information. In my opinion – all hype, no substance. All these rare and specific products jumble together into a vague, sweet, powdery, slightly stale cloud. The only good thing about this is the brief orange opening. Everything after that is yawn and yuck: yawn over what we’ve seen in so many other current men’s fragrances, yuck over the awful vanilla note that is headache-inducing. So many interesting ingredients! So poorly executed! Try the Ford-designed Rive Gauche for something interesting, avoid this lame product.

    03 December, 2007

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    Route du Vétiver by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier

    Top: blackcurrant, leafy green
    Middle: bourbon vetiver, precious woods, jasmine
    Base: sandalwood, musk
    Route de Vetiver is a dark and very tangy vetiver/sandalwood scent. The blackcurrants give a very-berry opening. Quickly the pungent vetiver appears: it is not creamy and mild. It has a bracing quality: sharp, aromatic, somewhat medicinal. I’d say that at this point it is more interesting than pleasant. Mind you, it is not ponderously rich like Guerlain’s vetiver, so it is an improvement in that way. Similarly, the sandalwood is tangy and woody, almost incense-y and resinous. Sandalwood aficionados may appreciate this, but I prefer a more mellow sandalwood. I don’t think this is for me, but I do appreciate its striking and no-compromise character. Every once in a while it does emit a beautiful note.

    23 November, 2007

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    Spiced Limes by Anglia Perfumery

    Spiced Limes is a very satisfying, classy scent. The opening citrus notes are aromatic, with an amazing depth, substance and longevity. My comment (not a criticism) is that the notes are citrus-y rather than simply lime-y. The spices are woody and very well blended. The spices interact with the vetiver, deepening and mellowing and becoming richer as the scent develops. The vetiver is not dominant, it simply supports the spices. The transition from citrus to deep (not heavy) spice gives a shift from day to night; cerebral to sensual.

    20th November, 2007

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    Victor by Victor

    The photo here is of an aftershave, and that is what I am reviewing. This is a very pleasant, light scent, containing mild green herbs, woods and moss. It is Aqua di Selva's nice younger brother. It is a very classy aftershave... doesn't last long but one wouldn't expect it to do that.

    15 November, 2007

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    Mark Birley for Men by Mark Birley

    As many have noted, Mark Birley is a lovely, delicate scent, as light as a feather. On me, it had a dominant orange note. I thought it might be like Hermes’ Eau d’Orange Verte – nope! EOV is positively bold in comparison, and of course is much greener and zippier. MS is a citrus and light musk scent. It is fresh and perky, and stays very close to the skin. One has to get quite close to appreciate its subdued beauty. This scent would be best in intimate encounters. It is of the “one’s own skin, but better” variety... and thus advantageous for such episodes. I’d say it is OK but not a wowser.

    15 November, 2007 (Last Edited: 24 May, 2008)

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    Amber & Lavender by Jo Malone

    Notes according to Jo Malone: amber, French lavender, myrrh.
    The expert nose of Ayala also detects sage, cloves and oak moss – and this seems exactly right to me.
    The opening is a lovely dry lavender, deep and slightly smoky as the best lavender should be. There are some herbs and green notes. Spices? Yes, cloves. Incense? Yes, the myrrh. The clove and moss combination is what gives this its clean, soapy, barbershop vibe. It reminds me of YSL’s Rive Gauche – it has the same sort of virile, no-nonsense and deliberately retro soapy-spice character. Lavender + oak moss = traditional fougere and this is a striking one, though not as mossy as some. The amber gives it an oriental twist. It gets a bit powerful in the dry-down, so start off lightly and see what works for you.

    08 November, 2007

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    He Wood by Dsquared2

    Here’s an excellent new scent! The Italian fashion line has just launched this fragrance. They say that it captures air, water and wood elements in an harmonious accord.
    Air: silver fir, vegetal amber, musk
    Water: violet leaves and blossom, and “transparent watery accord”
    Wood: vetiver, cedarwood.
    The opening has lovely notes of pine and musk. These quickly are followed by a floral/aquatic tone. This is not the overdone marine-fresh scent, and it provides a gentle softening to the first and third stages. The cedar emerges, and this is very well done. It has a lovely cedar chest scent. The amber is also well done, it is NOT sweet, cloying or powdery. This is a superb, light, refreshingly clean wood scent. Suitable for all occasions.

    05 November, 2007

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    Extract of East Indian Lemon and Spices by Crabtree & Evelyn

    This has been revived in 2007 as West Indian Lime... and is excellent.

    05 November, 2007

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    1805 by Truefitt & Hill

    1805 has a citrus/weak tea opening. Then there is a sudden shift, quite noticeable, to a floral oceanic. This too is a bit mild or weak, nothing either problematic or commendable. Some have called this ‘salty’ – I don’t get that. It might be due to the clary sage but for me that is muted. I don’t even find this to be very oceanic, I think it is more green/fresh. Finally there is a light wood-musk base. Nothing very adventurous or exciting here. Another Aqua di Gio clone, kind of bland and boring.

    05 November, 2007

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    Bois d'Hiver by Ayala Moriel

    (revised review)
    Top: juniper berry, cedarwood, bitter orange
    Mid: orange blossom, rose, jasmine, pimento berry
    Base: frankincense, myrrh, balsam tolu, fir absolute

    This scent is a revised version of an earlier scent by Ayala, Fete D'Hiver pour Homme (not to be confused with Fete D'Hiver). Ayala has upped the ante here, not only adding more elements but in some cases increasing their quality (e.g., using absolutes). Thus we have a very memorable, special scent.

    Bois d’Hiver is stunning and lovely! It has a bright, slightly medicinal opening due to the lively juniper. Woods and orange warm up the tonic, and orange provides the transition to a lovely floral heart which is haunting but not sweet. The base is very woody with some satisfying incense notes and hints of conifer. The scent overall is dark and compelling; it seems masculine to me in its assertive tones and lack of sweetness, but a woman could happily wear it.

    29 October, 2007 (Last Edited: 11th December, 2012)

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    Bon Zai by Ayala Moriel

    Bon Zai is interesting, but I am of mixed mind about it. I love the dry-down, which is one of the most satisfying sandalwood-vetiver combos I’ve encountered. It is beautiful! The wood is sandalwood, not agarwood as indicated above. Getting to the finish line is another matter. Nothing problematic in the journey, but it was not what I expected. The opening is very fruity (tangerine), and then it quickly shifts to a kind of toasty, baked-good aspect. Some have called that like hay or grass, but I think it is the shiso oil which apparently can be like sesame. I don’t find this to be a green or spicy scent at all. Nor do I detect any cedar or juniper notes. Verbena or rose likewise are not readily apparent, at least to me. So kudos for the last phase, but I’m neutral on the initial phases.

    29 October, 2007

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    Clubman by Truefitt & Hill

    I don’t care for Clubman. I agree with zztopp and others. The synthetic/oceanic note here is not pleasant, and I find that it muddles the other elements. There is a pleasant citrus opening. The mint is not as strong as in Freshman. The woody musk is probably the nicest element, but that doggone ‘plasticky’ element ruins this. I’m not sure what this is supposed to be: it is not fresh enough in a nice way to be a fresh scent, not woody or spice enough to be that sort of scent, in the end it is nothing much at all. T&H has some great scents (Grafton in particular, also Trafalgar) but this is not one of them.

    26 October, 2007

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    Freshman by Truefitt & Hill

    A fresh marine fougere fragrance with top notes of bergamot, lemon, orange blossom, mint, coriander and rosemary; with a heart of clary sage, geranium, lily of the valley and jasmin; all resting on a base of precious woods, amber, moss, and musk.” T&F info
    Freshman is the godfather of the fresh scents, it seems. 1815 – amazing that they had this sort of thing back then! The opening is very citrusy, a bit sweet, and then becomes the classic ‘fresh’ scent (minty, edgy-green). The mint never really goes away. It becomes softened by florals and herbal green tones. As it dries down, moss and musk hover in the background. But this is a minty fresh scent all the time. I appreciate it but wouldn’t buy it. It just isn’t my style, but it is a classic. Burberry’s Weekend is very similar to this.

    25 October, 2007

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    Trafalgar by Truefitt & Hill

    I’ve tried Trafalger for two days in a row and I like it. The blue colour is a bit misleading, since it – along with the name – suggests a marine/fresh type of scent. Nothing of the sort! As the T&F blurb says, this is a spicy wood fragrance. Ah, but what kind of spice? Various theories have been suggested below. The prevailing theory to date identifies the spice as cardamom, for me a sweetlyh delicate spice...I don’t think it is here. One person suggested cilantro; however this is properly classed as an herb since it is the green leaves of the cilantro plant. These have an extremely piercing and strong quality, like parsley on steroids. Anyone who has tasted these in a curry or Mexican food will remember that experience! No one suggested coriander (the dried seeds of the cilantro plant), which could be part of the mix with their peppery yet delicate scent, which is slightly nutty and woody. However, my leading suggestion is cumin, a bitter spice which in shape and profile is a bit like caraway. I definitely smell that here, perhaps with a bit of coriander. Other elements... the citrus-lime opening is very nice, fresh, a bit salty. The base note of cedar is remarkable, just like pencil shavings (in a pleasant way). Others have remarked on the jasmine, for me it is a background/softening element rather than something noteworthy in its own right. As I said, I like this, it is an interesting scent. Cumin may not be to everyone’s taste. However, Trumper’s Eucris is another cumin scent, and it is exceptional!

    24 October, 2007

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    Blu Mediterraneo Basil / Foglie di Basilico by Acqua di Parma

    Notes: bergamot, basil, sage, clove.
    Blu Mediterraneo Basil is a bracing, citrus/herbal tonic. It is a great summer and daytime scent, with an attractive Mediterranean vibe. The bergamot is very citrusy. The basil has a licorice note, to be expected in true basil and rather nice. In fact, I’d say this is one of the most accurate and pleasing basil scents I know (I'm thinking of Baïme, Vigilo, even the very good Basile Uomo). Thankfully the sage and clove are restrained notes. This is a unisex scent, and because it doesn’t have sweet or floral notes I consider it quite suitable for a man to wear.

    22 October, 2007

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    Knize Two by Knize

    Knize Two is very distinctive. The aldehyde really intensifies the floral stage, and gives it great longevity. This is a linear scent with three stages: aromatic green, complex floral, dry wood-musk. The opening is spicy and green, suggesting leaves, plant stalks, and pea pods! The florals are powerful but not overly sweet. We see the distinctive silvery-grey note of violet leaves and flowers. The dry-down is dry, slightly woody, mossy and musky. This is a different, slightly quirky scent due to the violet leaves. It has a persistent aromatic, soapy quality. Definitely has old-school elegance and is quite charming. A classier, less brash, more complex Grey Flannel.
    (revised review)

    18 October, 2007 (Last Edited: 27 April, 2013)

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    Spirit by Anthony Logistics

    Spirit by Anthony Logistics is part of a “body spray” line. That designation is a bit of a misnomer, since for me that suggests a light, short-lived spritzy type of scent. Spirit is powerful and has lasted more than 12 hours on me. It starts with fresh green herbal scents from the artemesia and basil. It is dry and completely non-floral. It moves from fresh to substantial, acquiring leather and musk notes, the musk in particular is somewhat powerful yet pleasing. Woody tones also emerge, and in the end we have a woody-musky scent that is quite satisfying. I’d say this is excellent value: it is not expensive, classy and different, and widely available.

    17 October, 2007

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    parfums*PARFUMS Series 3 Incense: Ouarzazate by Comme des Garçons

    Fragrance notes: incense, pepper, nutmeg, clary sage, wenge, musk, vanilla, labdanum absolute, kashmir wood.
    Ouarzazate (pronounced war-za-zat) has one of the best openings I’ve ever smelled. It is green, strikingly resinous, dry, sparkling, spicy and invigorating. There is a sweet balsamic tang, and the incense character of this scent remains throughout its development. Clary sage gives a green dusky-herbal note that is very complex and attractive. Ouarzazate is very classy, slightly reserved in character, dry, elegant, green/woody... my idea of an excellent scent.
    Update --
    I have worn this many times over the years and have a better understanding of what is at stake. As I interpret this, it is an herbal-incense scent. The spices are of a dry and austere sort -- not rich. For me, this is all about clary sage. Either you like it or you don't. It is a substantial scent, a bit musky at times, other times a cousin to mint. Dried fruit? Don't really get that. Maybe the balsamic note from the early labdanum suggests that but for me it isn't a factor. Well-balanced, hauntingly cool for much of its development. Even the 10+ hr dry down, somewhat powdery to the labandum, is not over-done.

    16 October, 2007 (Last Edited: 19 August, 2014)

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