Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Oviatt

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Total Reviews: 279
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Vintage by John Varvatos

You had me at juniper berries. Add in fir balsam, tonka, tobacco and suede? Right up my alley. The Santolina adds to the herbal opening of the juniper, and the patchouli and jasmine in the heart notes round everything off nicely. The jasmine--not a traditionally masculine note--works the same way that the gardenia does in Halston's Z-14, adding a nice floral counterpoint to the battery of masculine staples. And this is a very masculine scent, indeed, especially in the dry down. The next morning, you are not showering off the dregs of the base notes; it is pure testosterone coming off in the steamy water. I generally think that John Varvatos' fragrances are very good designer offerings--as good as any out there and Vintage is the proof of that. An old school masculine powerhouse, revamped for the modern day. Wife approved.
06th December, 2017
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Burberry London for Men by Burberry

As warm as a wool-lined Burberry trench, this is a wonderful winter scent, truly evoking the scents of Christmas as so many have noted. Burberry London creates a Christmas where pipes are being smoked by fires in paneled rooms, with booze and fruit and mince pies on the groaning sideboard and a freshly cut fir decorated in its holiday finery. It is a romanticized Christmas, to be sure, but a warm and happy scent nonetheless. The best thing that I have smelled from this house since its original men's fragrance so long ago. While I tend to wear it in the winter during the holiday season, this would be an excellent way to bring the festive season with you all throughout the year.
06th December, 2017
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L'Anarchiste by Caron

I jumped onboard this one when it first came out in 2000. Always a big fan of Caron, I was taken with the daring metallic spicy note in l’Anarchiste; the copper bottle sealed the deal. I was never really comfortable with this one, though. I finished the bottle and moved on and only recently decided to retry it, knowing that it had been slightly reformulated. The Caron site asserts that “only the mint top note has been softened by Richard Fraysse, the overall composition remains unchanged.” It still smells much the same to me and I am reminded of what a quality juice this is. The listed notes of Mint, Orange Blossom, Sandalwood from the Indies, Vetiver Bourbon, Accord of 7 musks and Gaiac Wood have never sounded right to me. While others talk of mentholated, metallic oranges, I get metallic apple pie, even though apples and cinnamon are not among the notes. There is a soapy, musky woody base to this, to be sure, but to me l’Anarchiste brings to mind an apple pie being cut into with a sharp steel Sabatier knife, scratching into the metal pie tin as it goes—teeth on edge, mouth watering. Might be just the thing to wear for the coming holiday season.


14th November, 2017
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Gold Leather by Atelier Cologne

I do not know why a fruit note is so often paired with leather--it seems an odd combination to me. That said, when it is done well--as it is here--it can result in a dynamic scent. Gold Leather opens with fruit and booze with the base of woods and leather not too far behind. The fruit here is an initial orange note that smells to me like chocolate Jaffa Cakes, giving way to an almost fermented plum note. A eucalyptus note keeps the fruit dry and pairs well with the boozy rum. While this is definitely a leather scent, there are lots of woods in the base, with the Gaiac, Cedar and Oud. Gold Leather has all of the quality that Atelier Cologne scents are known for and smells very rich and natural. While I like my leather a little less fruity, this is a great example of the genre, well done and very nice.
07th November, 2017 (last edited: 08th November, 2017)
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F by Ferragamo by Salvatore Ferragamo

Sweeter than a Halloween hangover, F by Ferragamo seems to be at odds with the quality of scents we associate with Francis Kurkdjian. Touted as a floral scent with rose, neroli and jasmine in its heart, F is in fact a scent that focuses on a candy-like sweetness wielding all of the impact of blunt force trauma. Later, in the dry down, the floral notes emerge, with an almost rubbery tuberose note joining the other florals. This lacks the development and layered counterpoint of Kurkdjian's signature style and it would be interesting to know what his creative brief from Ferragamo was. F has been compared to the notoriously sweet Amarige, whose sweetness comes from honeyed fruit instead of sugared candy. I can see the connection, but F feels heavy-handed and a bit dull by comparison. For women who long for the sweet shop and the candies of their youth, this might work; I cannot imagine a man wearing this successfully.
06th November, 2017
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Anné Pliska by Anné Pliska

Soft, ambered vanilla, Anné Pliska is a warm, oriental scent with a bright and brief citrus opening, very quickly getting to its vanilla heart and base. Underlying the whole structure is a strong patchouli and soft musk. The sharp geranium in the heart notes gives this a slightly metallic edge, much like the metal in Halston Amber Man. This smells old fashioned in a way that evokes slightly faded sepia-toned femme fatales of yesteryear—Ava Gardner in The Killers, for example. Anné Pliska walks the same path as her contemporary, Obsession by Calvin Klein, but she took one thing off before leaving for the party, avoiding becoming the heavy-handed vanilla/amber sledgehammer that is Obsession. I can see how this might become a woman’s signature scent, engraining itself in her clothing, furniture, books, etc.
25th October, 2017 (last edited: 26th October, 2017)
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Bogart pour Homme by Jacques Bogart

This scent is one of the best values going…. Provided you like the way it smells. Bogart Pour Homme is a bargain, powerhouse scent from the well-respected yet in many ways under-appreciated house of Jacques Bogart. The sillage of this scent is amazing and as for its lasting power, well, try to get rid of it and you’ll see. This has a sweet, floral opening with lots of lavender but with a very prominent lily note. The opening reminds me strongly of a household cleaning product called Fabuloso, which claims to have a “Fresca Lavanda” smell, although it is unlike any lavender I have smelled. I detected this “Fabuloso” note in Dior’s Sauvage which really annoyed me, as I do not want to go around smelling like a mop left in the cleaning cupboard. I do not mind it so much in Bogart Pour Homme—it just smells like you are in a freshly cleaned villa in Spain, which is never a bad thing. From there a strong cherry tobacco note comes into play, sweetened by the tonka and vanilla of the base notes. All in all, a comforting—albeit very sweet—scent for fall and winter. I have worn it a few times and was trying to figure out if I liked it when my wife very pointedly asked me what perfume I was wearing. Not aftershave, not cologne but perfume. I told her all about it and she made a face and shrugged, as if to say “fine, it you WANT to smell like that….” Throwing it back at her, I have offered her my bottle and we’ll see how she gets on with it.
11th October, 2017
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Bugatti (original) by Etorre Bugatti

Bugatti for men is a miracle of freshness, made even more spectacular by its beautifully blended floral heart and deep, manly basenotes. Due to the kindness of a fellow Basenoter, I was able to try this wonderful scent from 1992 (EdT and after shave) and now I am hooked. This has all of my favorite notes (Clary Sage, Carnation, Leather, Benzoin, Labdanum, Vanilla….) and is so well blended that none of them is the star—they all play a supporting role. The Aldehydes takes the lemon, lime and bergamot of the top notes to a level of citric vibrancy that never entirely leaves—this is a fresh scent even in the dry down. The florals and woods at the heart of this fragrance are so beautifully blended that they become greater than the sum of the parts. So far, there is almost an old school Eau de Cologne vibe, with the Neroli and florals, but the base notes are never too far behind, and what notes they are! Amber, Benzoin, Castoreum, Labdanum, Leather, Oakmoss, Musk, Tonka Bean and Vanilla. In the wrong hands this could have become a parody of every masculine powerhouse ever made, but there is restraint and control at play here. Wearing it today, on a sunny autumn morning, I can only smile; I actually upgraded my wardrobe after putting this on, reaching for a better suit, the perfect shoes, my favorite tie (all Italian in this case). This is a beautiful articulation of a historic, luxury automobile brand—unmistakably Italian, definitely masculine and extremely classy. I am a huge fan of the Diana de Silva version of Gianfranco Ferre for Man which absolutely shares its DNA with Bugatti.
09th October, 2017 (last edited: 07th November, 2017)
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Mugler Cologne by Thierry Mugler

Mugler Cologne is a wonderful take on traditional eau de cologne, such as the classic 4711, but with a distinctly Mediterranean feel to it. Where 4711 evokes Germanic baden and an alpine cleanliness, Mugler Cologne smells of warmer oceanside climes, in much the way Tom Ford's Neroli Portofino does. I can well imagine Mugler's childhood soap being the inspiration for this--I feel that I have used this very soap in several French-speaking countries. The other big difference is that classic eau de cologne can smell slightly antiseptic and clinical but Mugler Cologne, due to the soft musk in its base notes and the mysterious S-note, smells more of humanity. Clean humanity, to be sure. If an eau de cologne can be sexy, this one it it. This an amazingly versatile fragrance especially good for warm weather and warm climates, about as far from Mugler's other fragrances as it is possible to be! The grooming products are excellent.
29th September, 2017
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Heritage Eau de Parfum by Guerlain

As a longtime fan of Heritage EdT (of which I have plenty of vintage), I was worried about trying the latest version of this; everyone raves about the vintage and I did not want to be disappointed about a EdP version of one of may favorite scents. In the end I got a bottle of the newest version (wood cap) and it is wonderful--richer and warmer than the EdT and I detect a slightly gourmand chocolate/tonka note--nothing like as strong as in L'Instant Pour Homme but present in the EdP where I do not get it in the EdT. The citrus and lavender opening is bright and wonderful and slightly toned down from the EdT. I have often thought that Heritage is the real Shalimar Pour Homme, much more so than Habit Rouge, and in the EdP strength I feel this even more strongly. Now I am on the hunt for a bottle of vintage....
20th September, 2017
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Bentley for Men Absolute by Bentley

Bentley for Men Absolute is the closest I have found to my beloved Gucci Pour Homme I--in fact, I like it even better! The woods and pink pepper and papyrus all point to the Gucci, but the addition of oud and ambergris in the Bentley actually improves this. Warm, rich woody incense notes prevail with less sweetness than the Gucci offering. This is very masculine, very sophisticated and very in line with the Bentley brand promise: Luxury and performance are complementary, not irreconcilable opposites. An irresistible combination.

Along with Bentley for Men Intense, this is one of my favorite recent releases, affordable luxury that delivers on all fronts.
19th September, 2017
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Mahon Leather by Floris

Mahon Leather is firmly lodged in Floris's masculine camp but the iris and jasmine give this more than a little feeling of leather feminines of the past like Cabochard and Bandit. There is definitely leather here, but it shares the limelight with a beautiful vetiver note, all underscored by a realistic saffron. Like most Floris offerings, this is well-behaved and gentlemanly. The quality of the ingredients is evident from the start and results in solid performance. Mahon Leather is a great scent for men wanting a classic, traditional scent with a slight floral/spicy twist. Women who love traditional leather scents and vetivers like Sycomore and the Guerlain vetivers will find this well worth looking into.
18th September, 2017
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Dry Wood by Ramon Monegal

Ramon Monegal's Dry Wood is a dry scent, but the wood it references is in fact quite green, wood not long from feeling the axe and saw. The green wood is accompanied by pepper and a slightly bitter herbal note (Oregano? Marjoram? Marijuana?) that gives it a savory food note not unlike the celery note in Yatagan. Perhaps it is the Bay note that gives it the savory gourmand note. Finally, the green moss note furthers the green feeling to this scent, giving it the slightly retro feel of bracing green herbals from the past like Alliage, Private Collection and Yatagan. The Norlimbanol, however, which is so widely used in modern masculines, keeps this firmly in the present. Like Yatagan, there is a complete lack of floral notes, which makes this masculine-leaning, but in line with the green goddesses of the past.
18th September, 2017
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Halston Man Amber by Halston

This semisweet amber fragrance has a lot going for it—the herbal bite of geranium leaf and thyme, a rich ambered incense heart and the skank of musk and oud in the drydown. The sweetness is held in check by the same metallic note found in Halston Man; it is like licking buttercream frosting off of the steel blade of a Sabatier knife. Its lack of floral notes along with the woods in the base notes make this a very masculine scent, the driest of gourmands. The dry nature of this scent—rare among ambers—makes this a very discreet fragrance, suitable for the boardroom, the bedroom and all places in between.
12th September, 2017
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Halston Man by Halston

I do not see Halston Man as having much to do with the wonderful Z-14. What I do get, however, is a strong link to Ralph Lauren's Safari for Men. There is a harsh masculinity about Halston Man that has an almost metallic note to it but thanks to the passionfruit note, is sweeter than Safari. The dry herbal notes of eucalyptus and cinnamon create the perfect foil for the fruity note. I do not pick up any floral notes other than a bit of geranium--it totally lacks the surprise addition of gardenia that Z-14 had. Well blended, good performance, manly smelling and only a little bit retro, Halston Man is a very pleasant workhorse of a scent. Reimagining the iconic bottle in silver, a la Jeff Koons, is a brilliant move, but again, it links it back to Z-14, to which I see little connection.
11th September, 2017
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Bentley for Men Intense by Bentley

Bentley for Men Intense is an amazing fragrance. Rich, elegant and powerful, it perfectly represents the luxury brand, from the scent to the wonderful bottle. In the opening it strongly reminds me of vintage M7 although Agarwood is not listed among its notes. The notes that are listed, however, are some of my very favorites—Black Pepper, Clary Sage, Labdanum, Leather, Cedar and Sandalwood. As the intense designation suggests, this is a strong, powerful scent that needs a little gravitas to pull off. It reminds me in some ways of Courvoisier L'Edition Impériale which was also rich, powerful and a bit boozy. The drydown of Bentley for Men Intense is my favorite part—the woods and the Patchouli go on and on with only a hint of sweetness. Perfect for cooler weather, I find that this also does really well—one spray only—in the heat. Instant love for me, along with Absolute.
24th June, 2017
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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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United States

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
Oviatt Show all reviews
United States

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)