Fragrance Reviews from September 2005

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    Stephanotis by Floris

    I love this fragrance for its timelessness and sense of free-spiritedness. Stephanotis is supposed to be a bridal floral that signifies constancy, if I remember correctly. Sounds kind of blah but the scent of the flower itself is not; it's both spicy and soapy, very spirited and lively, anything but prim, blushing or even romantic. It's very aromatic as well, very pronounced - again, neither shy nor retiring. Think of it as the bride who can't be bothered with being all fussy and solemn and runs into and out of the church laughing her head off in joy. (Speaking of which - it does bring to mind, in some ways, Patou Joy, itself a touch soapy and spicy.) I have enjoyed wearing this on both casual and more formal occasions, and have gotten many a compliment.

    14 September, 2005

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    Tommy Girl by Tommy Hilfiger

    Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to be under 20 to pull off wearing this fragrance. True, it has "girl" in the name, but overlook that minor detail (and the relative youthfulness of much of Hilfiger's clothing line) and you might find something you like here. Apple pie and Kentucky bluegrass always come to mind for me with this scent; the apple note (more fruit than blossom) at the top as well as the grass heartnote are, of course, what help bring out that association. (The bottle, which looks as though it's based on a vintage design, also reminds me of something Appalachian; it looks like a piece you might find in a jumble sale on the side of the road there, like an old item of sturdy glassware that's been around a long, long time.) The generous dose of citrus notes lend a fresh-scrubbed feel and the florals are muted and graceful. I'd call this an energetic, vibrant scent with just enough softness to keep it from being outright sporty or unisex. In no way does it scream "too young!" or "I'm trying to shave 20 years off my age by wearing this!" I turned an old colleague of mine onto this scent and she fell in love with it, and she's well into her fifties. Smells terrific on her, too.

    14 September, 2005

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    Freedom for Her by Tommy Hilfiger

    Just "meh" for me - I really like other of the Hilfiger fragrances for women but this one is blandly watery and just not all that special. The cuke note is far and away the most apparent and gives the whole thing an aquatic sensibility; I would never in a zillion years have classified this as a floral. The watercress - sharp, a little bitter - and zingy ginger do come through but to what effect, I don't know. I can't say I love them together in this overall composition. And the nuances of the quince and "silk tree natureprint" - ? Missing, even if I did know what silk tree natureprint was supposed to smell like! If you want a really good Hilfiger scent for women, skip this and go for Tommy Girl or even True Star. Both of those outshine this one.

    14 September, 2005

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    Acqua di Parma Colonia by Acqua di Parma

    Perfect, beautiful, pure class in an iconically delightful bottle. This fragrance is so well calibrated and high quality that it can be worn anywhere, any time of year and in any quantity; it's impossible to overapply and is worth frequent spraying just for the spritz of spritely, very slightly sugared lemon at the top. Post-application, it traverses into a very mellow and smooth stage that might be just a touch too sweet - the amber, the jasmine, the rose - if it weren't for that cleansing brush of rosemary and verbena that keeps the whole thing so rereshing without being fleeting like so many citrus scents can be. Just thinking about Acqua di Parma makes me want to book a trip to Capri and pretend I'm living the life of a foreign film star, if only for a short while.

    14 September, 2005

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    Rocabar by Hermès

    I adore this scent, and not just on my husband. There's nothing in it that makes it so overtly masculine that a woman can't wear it, and it's also so well crafted that even the marked presence of cedar (a note I ordinarily don't love) neither dominates the other notes nor comes off as "hamster cage shavings." It's a spicy and clean waft that deepens into something more polished and glowing, like a wood polished to show the luminosity of its grains. My husband wears this well year round, but I reserve it for winter wear, when the evergreen notes smell the most lively to me. There is a very vague resemblance to Caron's Nuit de Noel - they share the same spike of pineyness and balsamic base. But the Nuit is much soapier, almost in a Victorian way, and also a tiny bit smoky, something that Rocobar isn't at all.

    14 September, 2005

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    Heliotrope by Etro

    A very lovely fragrance with edible notes, albeit cool ones. I don't find this to be a warm comfort scent; the unifying almond thread in it has a cold, even chilly edge that I believe comes from its pairing with the powdery tonka bean heartnote. I like that it's on the cooler side, though; this saves it from being sticky or just plain annoying, a la the uber-sweet almond scent Lea. Etro Heliotrope is more along the lines of Castelbajac to me, particularly in the drydown when the almond comes down a bit and a clean-like-fluffy-laundry stage emerges. The only strike against Heliotrope for me is its relative simplicity; I don't find it hugely nuanced or interesting and I get bored with it quickly and inevitably end up layering it with something a little more "challenging." Strange though it sounds, I enjoy combining it with incense-based fragrances.

    14 September, 2005

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    parfums*PARFUMS Series 7 Sweet: Sticky Cake by Comme des Garçons

    On the whole, I found CdG's Series 7 to be a disappointing letdown - with the exception of this one. Everything else in the series comes off as too burnt, too plasticky, too sicky-powder, but Sticky Cake is a rather pretty, girly gourmand-floral. The iris is surprisingly pronounced and its earthy/starchy/powdery thing saves the scent from being just too treacly; you do get the loukhoum effect from all the nut-and-date action, but far more interesting is the iris-honey-myrrh combination in the drydown. If you are familiar with L'Artisan Perfumer fragrances, imagine blending Orchidee Blanche with a drop or two of Mechant Loup, watering the whole thing down (this is much, much lighter in substance and texture than either of those) and giving it a smidge of trademark CdG synthetic spin, and you have something much like Sticky Cake. Feels like wearing a swirly chiffon dress while walking through along carnival midway at night with something upbeat by Mariah Carey in her prime playing over the PA. Also, be forewarned; the lasting power on this is nil. The evanescence of this scent as compared to its price is seriously out of whack - my only complaint about Sticky Cake.

    14 September, 2005

    docjason's avatar

    Philippine Philippine

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    Armani Code / Black Code by Giorgio Armani

    brit is better than this one

    14 September, 2005

    elysium's avatar

    Australia Australia

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    Intuition by Estée Lauder

    Intuition EDP.
    Glorious sunshiny scent. Very bright and fresh on the nose on first spritz, then gradually warms up on the skin to a gently sweet floral with amber permeating right through. Like a second skin. Wearable all year round with great longevity.

    Was given this by a friend who received it as a sample but despises perfumes. Out of pure serendipidity, I found my Holy Grail!
    If you like the frgrance of Earl Grey/Lady Grey tea, then you'll love this!

    14 September, 2005

    gimpy's avatar

    United States United States

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    Bulgari Black by Bulgari

    Unique. You can definately smell the rubber intially, with the drydown being dominated almost entirely with a warm vanilla note. The vanilla is not as cloying as in other colognes though, and it retains a slight smoky character.

    14 September, 2005

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    Essenza di Zegna Intense by Ermenegildo Zegna

    I like the Essenza Di Zegna and find it is one incredibly sexy scent. It is hard to get the Intense fragrance as this is a limited edition item but when available I recommend it as it is a heavier and more lasting version of the original. The Intense has a darker leather casing which is how you distinguish between the two. I don't think there is a men's fragrance to compare with this one. The bottle and the secnt make for this being a stylish item all round. Once you ahve smelt this, you won't go for anything else.

    14 September, 2005

    MonkeyManMatt's avatar

    Sweden Sweden

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    Elite by Floris

    A strong men's floral along the lines of the original Van Cleef & Arpels and Oscar de la Renta. There is something nasty in Elite though, somehow the florals come across as very dissonant and overtly powdery to my nose. Shortly, this smells really dated in the same way as Aramis and Paco Rabannne PH, NEXT!

    14 September, 2005

    MonkeyManMatt's avatar

    Sweden Sweden

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    Eau de Santal by Floris

    Marvelous fragrance with the highest quality possible. Santal is such a smooth, natural blend, very masculine and romantic. It is indeed very similar to Gucci's Envy, but not as loud and even richer. It has a bitter edge to the sandalwood that makes it very old school, but never in a bad or cloying fashion. Much more complex than your average sandalwood, so if you want a "one-noter" go for Tam Dao, Santal Noble or Santal Imperial instead. This Floris is much more, IMHO one of the finest men's fragrances ever made.

    14 September, 2005

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    Alien by Thierry Mugler

    The first thing that caught my attention was the name. The second was the bottle because I love anything purple. I have only worn this once since purchased and I love it. I have not quite put my finger on the particular scent but it is very feminine and soft. I tried Angel over 10 years ago and have been using it since. I assume that Alien will be one that I will use for years. I am very picky about the perfumes I wear because my body chemistry will make just about anything sour on my skin after about 2 hours of wear. The only perfumes I have been able to wear are Shalimar, Angel, Must by Cartier, Hanae Mori. I am hoping that Alien will be added to this list. So far so good. And feedback from those around me is great. They also love the scent and the name. Tip: do not buy the samples on Ebay. You can always get free ones made up at any Nordstrom's.

    14 September, 2005

    scenteur7's avatar

    United States United States

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    Dior Homme by Christian Dior

    Love the iris, but find that it gets lost as the scent progresses under heavy leather and cacao notes. Overall a bit cloying and sweet. Nice, but I'll pass.

    14 September, 2005 (Last Edited: 15 January, 2006)

    Mario Justiniani's avatar

    Cuba Cuba

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    Mémoire d'Homme by Nina Ricci

    Memorie D'Graperfruit. Great Deco bottle, annoying scent. Unless one needs a reminder to go on a low carb diet, pass on this one.

    15 September, 2005 (Last Edited: 08 November, 2005)

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    24, Faubourg Eau Délicate by Hermès

    Smells a lot like Cabotine.

    15 September, 2005

    calchic's avatar



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    Cashmere Mist by Donna Karan

    Divine, soft and dreamy, completely feminine but in an honestly womanly way, right down to the gentle sway of the bottle's curves. It's warm, somewhat powdery (orris, amber), somewhat sweet (vanilla, lily of the valley) and very plush (suede notes.) It's also not a very light scent, in spite of its "mist" moniker; on the contrary, it's quite concentrated and focused and a spray or two easily lasts all day. From initial application to drydown, there's not much change or progression so if you're looking for complex, this might not fill the bill. But it's beautiful all the way through. There are some parallels between Cashmere Mist and the also very lovely Calvin Klein Sheer Obsession, but the Calvin is sweeter and not quite as smoothly blended as this.

    15 September, 2005

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    Fendi (original) by Fendi

    If you can wear this fragrance well, consider yourself fortunate - because on the right person, it is incredibly beautiful. I find it to be a very, very sweet, almost syrupy chypre with quite a lot of patchouli, which is what really stands out and "makes" it on the right wearer, I've noticed. There are also threads of leather, carnation, sandalwood and spice, all woven together to create something deep and luxuriant. It very much says "Fendi," which brings to mind amazing leathers and furs and topaz-toned silks. Seems most apropos for cooler weather though I've met at least one person on whom this smells terrific even in 100-degree plus heat and intense humidity.

    15 September, 2005

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    Asja by Fendi

    I have been wearing Asja on and off since the early 1990s and absolutely adore it. It has some of the same qualities as the Fendi signature scent (the original one), including a fruity-sweet top and a balsamic base. But instead of the powerful waft of patchouli that makes Fendi signature what it is (and renders it pretty much unwearable for me), Asja instead is defined by a brilliant blending of sandalwood, cinnamon and nutmeg perfect in its spiciness and prevented from coming on too sharply by milder touches of mimosa and ylang ylang. Classified as a floral oriental, Asja is mysterious and thoroughly opulent. I would easily rate it as one of my top five Oriental fragrances of all time.

    15 September, 2005

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    Helmut Lang Woman by Helmut Lang

    The musk - aka "skin accord" - notes in this unisex (there's not one each for men and women; they're the same fragrance) scent kill it for me and not in a good way at all. Musk is not generally a problem note for me but in this incarnation in Helmut Lang it's just cheap-n-nasty and so prevalent that the only other notes I can even detect are the lavendar and almondy heliotrope, neither of which exactly meld well with said skin accord. A chilly, metallic scent on me and also very cologne-y, it's not pleasant on my skin. Others don't care for it on me either; I have received several semi-pointed anti-compliments on it when wearing it.

    15 September, 2005

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    Joy by Jean Patou

    A masterpiece among fragrances, with the same level of perfection inherent in an uber-premium, best of the best champagne. Like the best champagne, the surface of Joy has a genuine effervescence and crispness; it's dry, so fascinatingly dry that you just want to keep experiencing its magic again and again. Doubtless that utterly distinctive seche quality comes from the effect of the aldehyde topnotes as well as the "starring" note, the jasmine Grasse that Jean Patou cultivated specifically for his fragrances. What lies beneath is a luxuriant blanket of Bulgarian rose, orris and tuberose that lingers on and on in pure elegance. I consider Joy to be the Hope Diamond of the fragrance world, unparalled and legendary (though presumably not cursed like the Hope is!)

    15 September, 2005

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    Beach Smells by Smell THIS

    I've been enjoying Beach Smells since the late 90s, back when it came in a little glass roll-on bottle rather than the plastic flip-top sprayer it does now. I have both and can happily say that the formulation hasn't changed. It's a really beautiful blend of saltwater and cocoa-buttery suntan lotion; it's incredibly clean and sexy and always makes me think of frosted green sea glass (which I think is because the original roll-on is made of very light sea-green glass and as such just looks so beachy.) There are so many ocean/beach fragrances out there, and frankly I find this one of the best ever despite the fact that it's a relatively unheralded mass market product. It's almost identical to Bobbi Brown Beach but at a far more reasonable price tag.

    15 September, 2005

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

    A haunting near-ghost of a fragrance that almost seems to float. I like just about every incense scent and think the "typical" smoky incenses, from the sweet nag champa types to the heavier, more severe frankincense and myrrh-heavy varieties, are great. But this is somethimg entirely different, with a mist-like quality that could be considered Gothic or just plain old gloomy, depending on where your interpretation lies. This is played against teh sensations of rich velvet - chamomile - and a dry warmth that comes from the cistus oil (labdanum), evoking the heat that rises from candle flames and the smell of wooden pews in an overheated chapel. A truly dramatic and transformative fragrance, one that can easily take you out of the realm of day-to-day real life and into another time, another place, an entirely different history. Brilliant!

    15 September, 2005

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    Signature pour Femme by S.T. Dupont

    Very underrated and not a fragrance you necessarily fall in love with right away. On the first few wearings, I thought this a pretty ordinary fruity-floral with woody drydown - inoffensive and an item in my collection that I'd always consider reaching for but ultimately pass up in favor of something more interesting or pronounced. It wasn't until I tried out Vera Wang, which is very similar to this, that I begun to appreciate the unique qualities of Signature. Though it has many different floral notes in it, I think of it as a "yellow flower" fragrance, sunny and akin to a very fruity, rounded chardonnay. The things that keep it from being just about florals - the nutmeg and the rosewood particularly - do in fact make the composition interesting once you bother to notice them. Once I wear this scent for a few consecutive days, I always end up realizing, "Hey, I could wear this all the time and really enjoy it."

    15 September, 2005

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    DKNY Be Delicious by Donna Karan

    Cool crisp green apple meets a touch of floral and a satisfyingly woody drydown. Perfectly likable and agreeable though nothing mind-blowing and in danger of being more bland than anything else. I think this is a departure for Donna Karan's fragrance line; it's far more mainstream and understandable than anything that's come before, and in some ways I think that's a mistake even for the casual-but-trend-forward DKNY brand, which is supposed to be about an urban lifestyle. This is more of a "weekend in the woods" take on fragrance, something I'd picture wearing in a lodge. Of course, these days all the world seems to be doing wishy-washy fruit fragrances that lack strong points of view, so I guess the folks at DK are just trying to keep up with the crowd.

    15 September, 2005

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    Killer Coconut by Smell THIS

    This is not a good take on coconut, I have to say. All I got from it was the waft of car freshener, very chemically and sweet in a truly, grimly sickening way. It's so intensely artifical that I didn't even really get coconut from it - just reeking-sweet chemicals. Smell THIS does some pretty cool stuff but this is not one of them; please, for your own sake, skip it and go for one of the better scents they make, like Beach Smells, Fresh Towels or Cookie Dough.

    15 September, 2005

    CoL's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    Eau Noire Cologne by Christian Dior

    INCREDIBLE! Such a well blended/balanced scent. The touch of vanilla in the base really does warm this woody wonder up just right. TRUELY smells like a "dark" Dior Cologne Blanche! WOOO HOOO!

    15 September, 2005

    CologneJunkie's avatar

    United States United States

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    Brit for Men by Burberry

    When I first smelled this I didn't like it at all. But then something always made me come back to it. If I was somewhere that had a tester out I'd spray some on. I just didn't understand this fragrance at first but now I can't get enough of it! On me it turns into the perfect balance of powder, cream , and spice. To me this is more for cooler weather, and I can't wait til fall so I can wear this all the time!

    15 September, 2005

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    DKNY Be Delicious by Donna Karan

    A truly delicious scent - very fruity, much admired by friends but not too sweet or cloying

    15 September, 2005

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