Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Oviatt

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Total Reviews: 263
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L'Homme Idéal Cologne by Guerlain

Thierry Wasser’s masculines for Guerlain have a thread running through them that is fresh, slightly sweet yet decidedly masculine. Homme and its flankers have in spades and so does L’Homme Ideal Cologne. This accord reminds me strongly of the original scent of Speed Stick, an American deodorant made by Mennon. There is a no fuss masculinity about this—shower up, swipe on some Speed Stick and out of the locker room you go. L’Homme Ideal Cologne smells better than a men’s locker room; it is the haute couture version of a men’s locker room but none the less, that is the vibe I get. And I like it. My wife likes it, too. You could wear this to a ball game and other guys around you would be perfectly comfortable with it. The almond and neroli at its heart give it a slight babrbershop note while the citrus in the top notes make it a fresh, warm weather scent. It is a little strange that one has to wear a French fragrance from a fine old house (albeit a pale, latter day offering) to smell like you just came out of a locker room…..
17th June, 2017
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Dunhill Custom by Dunhill

This is a good scent that should have gone further--the apple note, which is nice and well-integrated, could be amped up. The pepper could also play a more prominent role. The finish, with its cedar and incense is nice although a little bland. In all, CUSTOM is well made, good smelling and safe. Too safe. Some unexpected overdosing or risky counterpoint could have made this great, but as it is, it is a classy, easy to wear, safe fragrance. The realistic, natural apple note and pepper are not gourmand-they are aromatic without being edible. When P&G came out with their ridiculous 007 fragrance which also had an English apple note, this is what they could have achieved, something that James Bond might actually have worn. As with most Dunhill scents, the bottle is fantastic, whether you have it engraved or not.
13th June, 2017
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Quorum by Antonio Puig

Antonio Puig’s Quorum is not the snarling powerhouse beast that I had always thought. I recently bought it—blind—and instantly recognized a soapy, woody/herbal manly scent that is very familiar, remarkably comforting and resolutely masculine. Instead of being loud, the way most powerhouses are characterized, it is assertive. Quorum has made up its mind, thrown back its broad shoulders and marches forward, asserting to all who come into its wake that this is a man’s fragrance. The bergamot, lemon and grapefruit in the top notes give it a passing post shower and shave freshness. The pine, sandalwood and patchouli in its heart notes are bolstered by the florals—jasmine, cyclamen and carnation—but so well blended that they do not announce themselves individually but simply round out the strong woods. There is cumin in the mix, with its usual sweaty note (all of this assertiveness can cause you to work up a sweat) but in this case is far in the background. Quorum really comes into its own in the base notes, where leather and tobacco play a supporting role to the oak moss—lots and lots of oak moss—that is slightly sweetened with a note of amber. Even in its latest iteration there is tree and oak moss which gives this a distinctly pre-IFRA feel; not dated, but simply from a better time when restrictions were not a concern. For the price, this is a no brainer.
10th May, 2017
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Cardinal by Heeley

Cardinal is a light and beautiful fragrance that evokes the Frankincense of church incense (as the name suggests) without smelling literally like you just left Mass. All the elements are there--the incense, the old wood of carved pews, the pressed linens of the vestments, snuffed candles and humanity--but it wears as a wonderful, masculine-leaning skin scent. A Cardinal might smell like this--if he was lucky--but even the lay person can smell this great with a bottle of Cardinal. Along with Cuir Pleine Fleur and Sel Marin, this is my favorite of Heeley's scents.
11th April, 2017
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Leather Oud by Floris

Leather Oud is a perfect gateway oud, in my opinion—it has all of the secure, comforting aspects of a traditional fragrance—in this case a beautiful, classic leather note as well as other mainstays of masculine perfumery, such as vetiver and carnation—and uses it as the launch pad for an oud that is pure and deep.  The first thing you notice is the expensive leather—not too long from being in the tannery and workroom and then on to the deep, oily darkness of the Oud, underscored by the vetiver, amber and patchouli. The floral notes of carnation and geranium are so subtle that they play a true supporting role; as the name asserts, this is all about leather and oud.
Gentlemanly enough to stroll down Jermyn Street, Leather Oud also has the dark and oily glow, edged with a dirty humanity that oud is so famous for. This boy may be wearing a bespoke suit and polished bench-made shoes, but there is some funk going on here. This is for the enfant terrible of St. James, the punk rocker of Savile Row who goes commando in his custom tailored suit.  And is it just for the boys?  I think so—it has too much of a well-bred testosterone note to be anything other than masculine.  That said, on a woman with a taste for pinstripes this could be head turning.
20th March, 2017
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Oscar de la Renta Gentleman by Oscar de la Renta

Gentleman sits squarely between Oscar de la Renta Pour Lui (1981)--said to be his personal signature scent--and Oscar for Men (2000). Pour Lui is an exceptional powerhouse fragrance, a leathery chypre that was perfectly in line with the time of its launch. Oscar for Men, which is a citrusy fragrance, with dry woods and spices was also perfectly in sync with its time. Its opening of bergamot and grapefruit recall the citrus notes of Oscar for Men while its base of amber and “rich labdanum-infused Leatherwood” reminds us of the dark power of Pour Lui. Like its two brothers, Gentleman is also perfectly in tune with the times—its citrus/spice/wood construct is at the background of many modern masculine launches today. The heart notes contain rosemary, geranium and black tea notes and remind some of Gucci Pour Homme I & II. What strikes me most about this scent is how well blended and harmonious this scent is—all of the notes sing together in one chorus and create a year round scent. The citrus lightens it enough for wear in the warmth and the woods and amber in the dry down give it the oomph to stand up to cooler weather. For a designer scent, the quality of the ingredients comes through strongly, whether real or perceived. Quite simply, Gentleman is a beautifully done modern man’s fragrance that truly is as gentlemanly as Sr. de la Renta.

The bottle for Gentleman, which is a huge domino is either a stroke of genius or an act of kitsch. Love it or hate it, you will remember it! Personally, seeing the big, outsized domino tile makes me smile—and reach for the scent to wear.
30th December, 2016
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Ombré Leather 16 by Tom Ford

Where Tom Ford’s Tuscan Leather is a big, brash leather wanting to play in the same league as Knize Ten and Heely’s Cuir Pleine Fleur is a soft, bookish leather evoking Grey Flannel’s violet leaves, Ombre Leather 16 is right in the middle. In some ways a perfect leather scent, OL16 has no powder or fruit notes to get in the way although the leather note is interwoven with cardamom, jasmine and patchouli and –like the Heely scent, violet leaves—which support the core essence of fine leather. This is a very discreet, expensive-smelling leather that anyone who has ever sat in a chair at an exclusive boutique about to spend way too much on the beautiful shoes they are trying on will recognize. OL16 is a great way to carry that scent around with you all day—and night—long.
06th December, 2016
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Absolue d'Osmanthe Eau de Parfum by Perris Monte Carlo

Petal to the Metal

This note is often used in a delicate, fleeting way, as in Hermes's Osmanthe Yunnan which smells like a cup of lightly scented Chinese tea. Absolue d’Osmanthe, however, as the name suggests and particularly in the eau de parfum concentration, is a pedal to the metal, goes to eleven, foghorn of an Osmanthus perfume. Guilin on a high pollen count day. The Osmanthus note is combined with jasmine sambac, sandalwood, vanilla, labdanum and Tolu balsam. It is difficult to determine how these notes stack up in a pyramid as this is a linear perfume—all of the notes are present, all of the time, although Osmanthus is the queen of the show and never once relinquishes her throne. Princess Turandot has nothing on this queen.
Heavily floral and resolutely fruity, Absolue d’Osmanthe strikes me as decidedly feminine and rather perfumey. It definitely smells of apricots. Dried, fresh, confiture d’abricots--they are all there, swirling around with a tea-like jasmine and vanilla, floating in the air, waved on by a fan of carved sandalwood and wrapped in a gorgeous silken robe. The balsam and labdanum add a slightly salty, vegetal note of olives, which is fitting, given that Osmanthus fragrans is also known as “sweet olive” or “tea olive.”
Fruity, floral and strong, Absolue d’Osmanthe Eau de Parfum is the powerhouse of the Far East by way of France. Think Amarige in a cheongsam. At once dense and yet billowy, ancient but modern, oriental and still occidental, this perfume is perfect for the inner empress in all of us.
22nd November, 2016 (last edited: 22nd March, 2017)
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Spicebomb by Viktor & Rolf


I was pleasantly surprised when I tired Spicebomb for the first time. The name suggests that this is going to be some nutmeg, clove and cinnamon fest; instead, this is a warm, rich, semisweet leather scent with a vanilla/Tonka undercurrent, even though those notes are not listed. Viktor & Rolf were having a little joke with this one—instead of being in the kitchen with one eye on the timer for your pumpkin pies and the other on the candy thermometer as you wait for the elusive hard ball stage, you are comfortably by the fire on a leather sofa smoking a pipe. Somewhere, at the other end of the house, someone may be cooking with spices in the kitchen, but it ain’t you. I get none of the citrus tops notes. The heart of elemi and pink pepper are evident right from the start and the leathery base of sweet pipe tobacco and wet vetiver are not too far behind. This smells warm and masculine without being too gourmand, nor is it as sweet as some of the other current offerings in this genre. Elemi is one of my favorite notes in perfumery and it is used well here, evoking a balm as opposed to a smoky incense note. Just the thing to wear in cooler weather with a ribbed turtleneck sweater and a suede jacket.
14th November, 2016
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Habit Rouge L'Eau by Guerlain

This is a neat trick—an old classic has been modernized without losing its heart and soul. Much in the way Eau de Shalimar lightened and brightened classic Shalimar, Habit Rouge L’Eau takes a brighter, more modern approach to its parent but it is immediately recognizable as Habit Rouge. Although lighter, with the citrus amped up and a floral heart and without any of the leather of the original, this still has a density and depth that could only come from Guerlain. I love leather and thought that I would really miss it in this version—I mean, what would a fox hunt be without boots, tack and saddles? In the rarified world of hunting, hunters typically wear hacking jackets and paddock boots with half-chaps for pre-season cubbing but from the day of the opening meet, it is tall boots and hunt jackets all the way—scarlet for those who have received their colors. L’Eau lets us enjoy the laid-back informality of the pre-season; we’re still out hunting in the field and having a great time but without the formality of having to conform to a strict dress code (that is a whole other facet to the Habit Rouge story….). A little easier to wear, a bit more light-hearted and certainly less precious and rarified than its parent. For those who have seen it, there is nothing more impressive than seeing a field of hunters turned out in scarlet—there is simply nothing like it, much the same as Habit Rouge has few equals in impressiveness and formality. If you want to fit into the landscape a little more—the way a tweed hacking jacket blends into the scenery—then Habit Rouge L’Eau is the way to go (and the PETA protesters may have a harder time spotting you!).
10th November, 2016 (last edited: 11th November, 2016)
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Pasha Edition Noire by Cartier

Abduction from the Seraglio--only this time, it is the sultan who has been abducted, stripped of his silken robes and dragged, kicking and screaming, into a modern tailored suit, Ferragamo loafers and a designer stubble, on trend for the modern day man.

Pasha Edition Noire uses the fresh, minty, herbal aromatic nature of the original Pasha as a starting point, and takes it to a citrusy, woody, slightly fruity place. Sound familiar? It should, because that is the construct of most modern, popular man's fragrances today. If the Bleus and the Sauvages of the world truly capture the zeitgeist of the day, then Cartier is present and accounted for. The redeeming quality here is that it does reference the acerbic, herbal edge of the original, giving the Edition Noire a depth that some of the other contenders in the citrus/fruit/woods category do not have.

Wearable? Absolutely. It is very good, even, but in many ways forgettable. The newly modernized Pasha, torn from his harem, is out wandering the streets, where there is plenty of competition for his attentions. No longer a potentate, he is just a good smelling dude, lost among a cast of thousands, hoping to catch the eye of the very one he would have—in other days—owned absolutely.
08th November, 2016
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Ocean Rain for Men by Mario Valentino

Thanks to the generosity of Cookbot, I was able to sample this unique fragrance. It has taken me several days and multiple wearings to get to the point that I felt I could talk about this scent. As the final Roudnitska offering it is a cult classic--and you definitely feel his hand on the tiller. Anyone who has smelled Diorella will get the connection. But from there it goes.... I do not know where. Modern and futuristic, yet resolutely perfumey in the way a woman's evening bag, last used in 1952, would smell (trust me on this one). With its odd metallic note coupled with a fruity banana note it brings to mind Creed's equally wonderful yet challenging Acier Aluminum. It also brings to mind another Dior groundbreaker, Fahrenheit, if you amped up the hawthorne and added indolic florals. Add a dose of post-lightening ozone and you begin to get the picture, especially if you include the smell of a head shop, late at night. So where does this fit in and how wearable is it? Beyond being what I would call unisex, it is actually androgynous; despite the fir, cedar and leather, this is not specifically masculine. The rose and cyclamen give it a femininity, and yet.... Ocean Rain is a gender bending time warp of a fragrance--in fact, it would suit almost every character in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, each in its own way. This gets a thumbs up for its creativity and wonderful execution. Somewhere, some time, there will be the perfect time and place to wear this--perhaps far into the future, or maybe it was in the past....
02nd November, 2016
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Boccanera by Orto Parisi

On the face of it, Orto Parisi is not my style of fragrance house--too edgy, too niche and more than a little obstreperous. I was not a real fan of Black Afgano for these very reasons. That said, despite its alarming name, I really responded positively to Stercus (visceral is the only way to describe it). Dark, intensely human and very sexy. This house is no extension to a fashion line, style or ethos. You do not wear these scents and associate them with a well tailored gent walking down Jermyn Street, or Italian luxury goods or a stroll down the Champs Elysees--Orto Parisi is the opposite of all that, something that is primal, bestial, stripped of all civilizing refinements. Boccanera, which means dark mouth in Italian, is another winner for me. Similar to Stercus in its humanity and sexiness, Boccanera has a drier, herbal/vegetal note and a very realistic cocoa note, mingling with a slightly sweaty (clean sweat!), musky base. So, the "dark mouths" the name alludes to are limited on a human body--there are only a small number of holes that can be explored olfactorily and they are generally not associated with good smells. But then, you would have to define what you mean by good. Alessandro Gaultieri makes us rethink our approach to such things and in so doing has given us some really wonderful scents. The sillage is subtle (thank goodness!) but the lasting power--thanks to the high concentration of quality ingredients--is impressive. Occasionally, I like to pair scents like this with a bespoke suit and often wear polished, sophisticated fragrances like Heritage or Bois du Portugal with jeans and a sweater--the contrast is unexpected and all the more interesting because of it. Definitely a try before you buy, but give these a try and do not think of them in terms of Black Afgano--they can stand on their own.
01st November, 2016
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Patou Pour Homme (new) by Jean Patou

The dictionary tells us that a sacred cow is an idiom that represents an idea, custom, or institution held, especially unreasonably, to be above criticism (with reference to the Hindus' respect for the cow as a sacred animal). Jean Kerleo’s 1980 Patou Pour Homme is a sacred cow if ever there was one.

Interestingly, when Patou Pour Homme was first released, it was not a big hit and, like the writer John Kennedy O’Toole, only received acclaim and adoration after its death. Patou made an attempt at product placement, positioning it as Don Johnson’s signature scent in Miami Vice, but it never took off, despite its brilliance. Discontinued, it became the Holy Grail of vintage perfume collectors, demanding prices commensurate with its demand.

Fast forward to 2014 when the House of Patou, under its new owners Shaneel Enterprises, reissued this mythical fragrance as part of their Collection Heritage under the direction of house perfumer Thomas Fontaine. This was huge news and eagerly awaited by the perfume community who sharpened their knives and were prepared to use them, should the reformulation fall short of expectations. The only other relaunch as keenly scrutinized has been the relaunch of another sacred cow, Helmut Lang’s Cuiron.

The relaunched scent is currently available and is very good—very good, indeed. Is it as good as Kerleo’s masterpiece? Far be it from me to say….

What I can say is that the new scent, in an IFRA-dominated word, has lost its oakmoss and Mysore sandalwood—well, that is no surprise—and gained a floral heart with lavender, jasmine, rose and violet joining the lineup, edging out the original vetiver, cedar patchouli and clary sage. These floral notes are more commonly used in feminine perfumes and the rose/jasmine accord is almost a house note for Patou, whose landmark perfume, Joy, is based on it.

Has Patou Pour Homme been emasculated, or just brought into the current age? The new scent is completely wearable now and while it may not have the richness and complexity of the original—or its resolutely masculine edge—it is beautiful, rich and expensive smelling. The spicy top notes of pepper are freshened by citrus and galbanum. A floral heart emerges that might once have seemed too feminine but now feels comfortably masculine. The base of leather and patchouli, while it does not compare to the woods and moss in the original, provides a warm, lingering drydown.

The reformulated Patou Pour Homme may no longer walk on water but it is still a very good scent—no longer a sacred cow, but just a quality, distinctive men’s scent. This could easily find a following in the market the way that the original never did; it has come out from under a bell jar and into our time. Seekers of perfection will continue their quest for vintage juice, but if you have not tried the original, try this—it is very good.


17th October, 2016 (last edited: 19th October, 2016)
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No. 89 by Floris

I have been a pushover for Floris ever since I entered their premises for the first time, which was long, long ago (Jimmy had just handed the gavel to Maggie that very year….). They have some really good scents but more than that, they have character and stamina and charm. Well-made and… well, very British. Now, of course, Floris is pushing boundaries and making a new heritage for themselves; back then, they were just as pleased as Punch with the status quo. Squarely in the middle of that is No. 89. Launched in 1951, it is perfectly in sync with its time—a nod to the past, a hope for a better tomorrow and—hopefully, a return to business as usual (remember, there was still rationing in England as late as 1954). The fact that it became Ian Fleming’s favorite scent didn’t hurt….. One of the few scents that I could imagine both Anthony Eden and Anthony Armstrong-Jones wearing. And Quentin Crisp, for that matter.
Floris No. 89 has a soapy, eau de cologne/Neroli opening that smells as if you had just bathed with 4711 soap. How reassuring that must have seemed to a generation for whom simple things like soap and hot water were a luxury. Luxury? Do you want luxury? As if on cue, a luxurious note of roses and nutmeg enters the scene, reminding us that glamour is not just in the purview of the ladies. Before you can say ponce, the manly woods and grasses bring the whole thing home, safe as houses. Old school? Oh, yes. I feel a glass of port coming on even as we speak. For a younger man who wants to get his Jermyn Street rocks off, this would be just the thing. For the rest of us, this is a clean, discretely luxurious classic scent that speaks to the pinstriped spycatcher in all of us. And don’t fool yourself—he is there within us all. And he is wearing Floris No. 89.
27th September, 2016
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Deux Amours by Jean Patou

In 2014, Jean Patou--under the auspices of its new parent, Shaneel Enterprises--relaunched Henri Alméras’ 1925 creation Amour Amour as Deux Amours. The relaunch was overseen by Patou house perfumer Thomas Fontaine. With its fresh opening citrus and neroli, a heart of jasmine, rose, tuberose and ylang ylang, anchored by a woody base with resinous styrax, this is a classic floral perfume. Very French, very classic, tres comme il faut. This smells like dozens of other fine French perfumes we have all smelled before but this is from 1925, when there were fewer classics in the starting lineup. The violet note that seemed to characterize the original appears to have vanished in the reformulation, leaving the new launch slightly updated. Yes, there is a connection to Patou’s star perfume Joy, but whereas that masterpiece exists primarily as a rose and jasmine construct, Deux Amours is a rounded floral bouquet, lightened with bergamot and orange blossom and a grounded in woods and resins. This is classy, feminine and very French. Ladylike and yet….. There is an underlying note that is almost civet-like in its feline sharpness, but then what would a fine French perfume be without a little underlying malpropreté?
23rd September, 2016
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Phoenicia by Heeley

With its notes of dates and incense, along with the cedar of the creaking masts of Phoenician merchant ships, this scent has the Levant written all over it. With its lack of floral notes and heavy emphasis on woods, leather and oud, Phoenicia is a dry, yet rich masculine scent, evocative of ancients times and the Mediterranean’s port towns. The oud, which is extremely dry, smells strongly to me of creosote—not necessarily in a bad way. It, too, suggests ship yards and commerce. Creosote is, after all, the ancient Greek name for meat preserver. The oud also creates a slight smell of sweaty humanity (Are there galley slaves rowing this boat?). A very good offering from one of my favorite houses and a great example of how oud can be used very successfully and a team player and not the star of the show.

05th September, 2016
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Artisan Acqua by John Varvatos

Artisan Acqua is a citric oceanic scent that reminds me strongly of those delicious preserved lemons used in Moroccan cooking—whole lemons are salted and left to pickle in jars and then used in savory dishes—often served hot—like the stews served in the traditional Tagine. Lemony, salty, savory and slightly decaying, as if the second law of thermodynamics had somehow been called into play. There is nothing fresh about these fermented lemons—they are soft, salty and mushy; I love to eat them, but do not really want to smell like them (capers fall into this category as well). Artisan Acqua has spices and herbs as well (sage, coriander and basil) which perhaps adds to the feeling that I have been feasting at Dar Maghreb or the Moun of Tunis. Moss and Fir Balsam are reportedly lurking in the basenotes, but I do not smell them. This is not a long-lasting scent; the caravan has packed up and moved on while you are still licking the Ktefa from your fingers and waiting for your mint tea to cool. I am generally a fan of John Varvatos fragrances—they are as good as any designer scents out there—but this one misses the boat for me—too savory, too gourmand, too quickly gone.
23rd August, 2016
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Royal Oud by Creed

Ever since M-7 opened the Oud portal, mainstream, designer and niche perfume houses have all jumped on board the agarwood bandwagon. Some have been successful, like Tom Ford’s Oud Wood, while some whole lines have made their name on oud offerings. I have to say, for a note that is considered polarizing, that I like oud. Don’t love it, don’t hate it, don’t understand its phenomenal popularity, but when done well, I like it. Creed’s Royal Oud is a perfect example of this—a high end, well done oud for the masses. The mass affluent, that is. I do not get the citrus in the opening at all (and I love lemon and bergamot). The greenest/freshest it gets is the galbanum in the heart notes which works nicely with the cedar. Where this really takes off for me in the dry down, with the oud, sandalwood and musk. Creed quality offering with a price that matches.

10th August, 2016
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Déclaration d'Un Soir by Cartier

Tell me why? I don't like Mondays. Tell me why? I don't like roses......

I am the odd man out--I get that. I simply do not like the smell of roses. Not on the bush or vine and not in perfume. Beautiful flowers--I have a garden full of them--but I will stoop to sniff a gardenia or honeysuckle or lavender and walk past the roses (and I am a Deadhead...), clippers in hand, ready to strike. To make it worse, I think that the scent is forever to be associated with women's perfume, some of which are lovely (Nahéma, I've got your back), but it means that to me a "masculine rose" is an oxymoron.

So what am I doing reviewing Déclaration d'Un Soir? Well, I was given a sample (and I love Déclaration) so I thought I'd give it a try. What did I find? A beautiful, classy fragrance that has little to do with the original (I know, they both have Cardamom and Cumin) and could easily give Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme a run for its money.

Wow, is this beautifully constructed; as rich as freshly minted gold sovereigns and as pretty as--well, Bob Geldorf in his youth. The wonderful, dirty orange note has been replaced by sandalwood and pepper but this is first and foremost a rose scent. Would I ever buy/wear this? No. Am I longing to wash it off? Sort of. Is it a beautiful scent that rose lovers, male and female should wear? Absolutely. And like the plants in my garden, I will walk past them to smell other, more pleasing scents, but credit them with knowing pure beauty when they see it, even if I do not.
09th August, 2016
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Snob by Le Galion

In 1952, Le Galion nose Paul Vacher created a fragrance for the fashionable women of the world and had the audacity name it Snob. Interestingly, Vacher’s Snob, which is built on an accord of rose and jasmine, has often been compared to Patou’s Joy which, as “the costliest perfume in the world” has lots of snob appeal. Snob’s rose and jasmine heart is softer than Joy’s, which flaunts its riches in a wanton, indolic way. Snob starts with a fresh citrus opening (mandarin and bergamot) and eases you into the rose middle which is supported by jasmine, orange blossom and the lipstick note of iris. This makeup note is almost a house note for Le Galion and ensures that their feminine fragrances are very feminine, indeed.
The soft rose at the heart of Snob goes on forever—long after the jasmine and orange blossoms have wilted in the corsage, the rose note carries on, joined by light woods and a musk note as faint but compelling as the scent arising from a woman’s brassiere, tossed onto the chaise longue with the slip, stockings and garter belt, after a day’s wearing.
This soft and feminine rose perfume is old fashioned and very classy. It does not have the rich “come hither” swagger of Joy, or the loud, crass exuberance of St. Laurent’s Paris. Nor does it have the powerhouse shoulder pads of Ungaro’s Diva or the fruited beauty of Guerlain’s Nahéma. Le Galion describes Snob as being “sumptuous and with a big personality, it is a fragrance for all trendy women, perfect for parties and gatherings.” I find it to have a softer, gentler aura. The snobbery around today’s Snob is a reverse snobbery—the lady who has found the true gem of a fragrance that does not need to shout, does not need to seduce, can look with real disdain upon the trendy followers of fashion—the Angel and Flowerbomb wearers of the world—and retreat from the arena to leave the others to battle it out.
08th August, 2016 (last edited: 09th August, 2016)
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Original Santal by Creed

Original Santal is a sweet and spicy gourmand take on sandalwood. This is not the dry Eastern sandalwood found in Dam Tao, nor is it the elegant barbershop sandalwood of Arden for Men or even the luscious floral sandalwood of Samsara.... There IS sandalwood in here, but it is sharing the kitchen on a rainy day with baking pastries and spicy holiday pies. Demerara sugar is scattered across a wooden counter top, competing for space with ground cinnamon and vanilla beans. Cooking herbs are piled up, too--rosemary, lavender and juniper berries. The Creed house note of ambergris is conspicuous by its absence. Original Santal is cozy and appealing; not especially masculine, not especially feminine. Boys and girls in equal measure like to lick the spoon once Mom has finished mixing up the cake batter; grown-ups can now wear the same experience.
06th August, 2016
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Dunhill Icon by Dunhill

I have long been a fan of Dunhill’s fragrances, although they went through a thin patch for many years. After putting out the wonderful original 1934 men’s scent, the fantastic Blend 30 and the phenomenal Edition, where do you go from there? They chose to put out a string of mediocre scents which were commercial if not critical successes. They followed market trends instead of creating them. When the brand decided to get back to their core, luxury brand promise I was thrilled. If Icon was a return to Dunhill’s glory days, then I was all for it! For starters, the packaging is spectacular, even for Dunhill, which tends to do that part very well. The scent itself? Well, it is very, very good. What it is not, however, is original the way their first three scents were. Icon is a classy, quality mashup of Cartier’s Déclaration and Terre d’Hermès—both classy, quality scents themselves. Maybe a little more lavender and a slug of pepper, but the topnotes, with the cardamom and cedar is very close. But wait, this is Carlos Benaim at the helm and he is no lemming….. Where this becomes evident is in the basenotes. Once the Ellena-like opening is over, the heart is revealed to be a soapier, muskier proposition—slightly more mature and classy as can be. A hint of juniper suggests that this elegant gent, who just came from the barber’s, is a gin drinker and a slight leather note indicates that he is a fan of Dunhill’s fine leather goods. Not a bad chap to smell like.
02nd August, 2016 (last edited: 08th November, 2016)
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United States

Sortilège (new) by Le Galion

Le Galion nose Paul Vacher collaborated with André Fraysse to give the world Arpège in 1927. By the 1930s, he was creating perfumes for his own house, Le Galion, and presented the world with Sortilège in 1937. Compositionally, Sortilège is also similar to Coty’s L’Aimant and Chanel No. 5 as well as Arpège. These perfumes set the standard for feminine elegance in their day and they all cast long shadows. Among her peers—not just floral aldehydes—Sortilège seems like she should sit alongside Intoxication, Écusson, Réplique, etc.; all sophisticated, glamourous and very French. Sortilège was relaunched in 2015 after a stint of living in the Long Lost Perfumes stable.
So what does the new Sortilège smell like and where does it fit into today’s world? It is soft, sensual glamour in a bottle. Old school, gilt-edged glamour. A slightly dusty violet note accompanies the top notes of bergamot and aldehydes just long enough to remind you that she has knickers older than you, then steps aside allowing the gorgeous floral heart to bloom. Jasmine, muguet, rose, ylang and lilac, with a hint of lipstick and powder thanks to the Iris/orris, soon take over and let you know that this is a lady you’re talking to—she may be knocking back dry Martinis with the boys but she is a lady.
By the time the basenotes come around you can see that she is a lady alright, a lady you would like to see lots more of. Musk gives this perfume a sexy glow, while the vetiver, oakmoss and sandalwood give it a slightly masculine, slightly jarring note—perhaps the smell her stockbroker/polo player/diplomat left on her skin after their last assignation. Could this work today? You bet. Today’s sorceress would be well advised to tap into the energy that Sortilège invokes. These days, you don’t need a mink and diamonds and a debutante ball to be sexy, glamourous and ladylike. All you need is a bottle of Sortilège.
02nd August, 2016
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Havana by Aramis

Man meets tobacco, with a brief detour through a citrus grove, a stop by the barber shop for a splash of bay rum, all the while clutching a wooden cigar box. You have smoked the cigars and eaten a spicy meal that comes out slightly in your sweat (beneath an impeccable white linen suit). Given all of this—and a name like Havana--one might expect Conga lines to break out every time you wear it, and Daiquiris to be oozing from your pores but it is surprisingly subtle and wearable. I suspect that my new Gentleman’s Collection bottle is a shadow of its former self, but the result is masculine, sexy and subtly tenacious. Havana works surprisingly well in the heat and while there is nothing fresh and aquatic about it, it does smell like grace under pressure, with a generous heart and a mañana attitude.
26th July, 2016
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Coeur de Noir by Beaufort London

This is a perfect example of niche perfumery creating pictures with scent, as opposed to creating a great perfume with scent. The picture that Coeur de Noir evokes for me is of Miss Havisham's house. Consumed by flames. The arson squad is poking around the smoldering remains looking for the source of the fire. Was this an accident? Does it matter? A perfect fragrance for a modern day Guy Fawkes. Non-firebrands need not apply.
22nd July, 2016
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Oud Stars : Fars by Xerjoff

Spurious, like most of this house's offerings. I want to like this but find the whole line expensive and... okay.
21st July, 2016
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Whip by Le Galion

Whip was launched in 1953, the same year as Elizabeth II’s coronation and it is “a fresh and young fragrance, especially refreshing in the summer.” According to Le Galion, “Originally created for men, women also grabbed hold of it quickly.” Le Galion’s inaugural men’s scent, Special for Men, is fresh and citric but with an underlying muskiness that is similar to the underlying dirtiness of Mouchoir de Monsieur or Moustache. This is a style that the French do so well and that sexy clean/dirty accord is done brilliantly in Special for Men. Whip, which came only six years later, cleans all of that up, adds a slug of beautiful flowers and lights the whole thing up with galbanum, presaging the green movement that arose in the 60s and 70s.
The top notes are very citrusy, with lemon and bergamot. Herbs such as tarragon and cardamom provide the perfect foil for floral notes like jasmine, violet and lavender. The notes suggest that there is “a hint of iris” and if that is so, the lipstick cap is firmly in place; no makeup smell here. Galbanum illuminates everything and provides the chiaroscuro for the darker notes of oak moss, patchouli and vetiver. Leather underlies the whole thing—it couldn’t be called Whip without some leather, right? Whip is the perfect scent for men who want a fresh scent with a floral, leather kick to it and for women wanting a sparkling, clean distillation of classic French perfumery. This is close enough to the classic cologne construct (although one of Le Galion’s new offerings is an excellent Cologne) to be right on trend today and be a potentially ideal signature scent.
11th July, 2016
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Special for Gentlemen by Le Galion

Le Galion’s Special for Gentlemen is just that—special and very gentlemanly. Fresh and tonic, with a spicy, ambery, woody base, Special for Gentlemen evokes a sophisticated, international man of the world who does not drift with the vagaries of fashion or trends; when you smell as good as he does, you stick with what is working. This has a sophistication and gravitas similar to Guerlain’s Heritage, with which it shares some notes--interestingly, this shares even more notes with Shalimar (minus the feminizing Jasmine, Rose and Iris) yet seems resolutely masculine to me. The fresh and citric opening has a brief note of powder that is quickly whisked away by the barber’s brush. The aromatic heart has spices that suggest anise although in fact are cinnamon, amber, cistus labdanum and patchouli. The warm woody base has a slightly animalic note creating that fresh yet dirty accord that the French do so well. Special for Gentlemen is just the thing to wear to a diplomatic reception or to the private box at a race meeting; to lunch with your lover in a Michelin starred restaurant or just when strolling the grand boulevards. This is right at home with a bespoke morning suit, a Breguet watch and custom shirts from Charvet; if you do not have any of those things, just wear Special for Gentlemen and leave everything else to the imagination.
05th July, 2016
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Eau de Shalimar by Guerlain

It is always a risk, messing with a classic--especially one as iconic as Shalimar. Eau de Shalimar achieves its goal of being a lighter, fresher version of this classic oriental. The top notes are lifted with a bright and light lemon/lime/bergamot note--literally good enough to eat--and the base notes are relieved of some of the tonka and rich incense (resin notes are listed instead of the traditional opoponax) but the rest is pure Shalimar. The vanilla is still there since it wouldn't me Shalimar without it. This is not a watery scent; it has more freshness than classic Shalimar but is still an Eau de Toilette and has excellent lasting power. Great for Shalimar wearers in warm climates or for those who do not want the heavy French formality of the original but love the citrus/floral/incense/vanilla dream that is Shalimar.
27th May, 2016