Fragrance Reviews from September 2005

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    Route du Thť by Barneys New York

    Though it's long been a cult favorite among certain New York fashionista types, Route de The and its charms have always been lost on me. I find it just a mite too sour and bitter as well as too - well, something indefinable but very much what also makes MPG's Eau de Camelia Chinois so unpleasant to me, something vaguely chemically and akin to hair toner if you've ever smelled that (and if you've never bleached your hair out, you probably haven't! You're not missing anything, trust me.) The actual notes of Route de The are green tea, citrus, muguet and amber, but it seems to also have traces of a particularly musty tearose to my nose. It's supposed to be a fresh and refreshing scent yet is anything but because of its particular reaction on me. I do think it's a your-mileage-may-vary case, though, as I know I've smelled it on others and been amazed at its beauty. Happily, it's fairly reasonably priced (particularly compared to anything else Barneys carries!) so you won't get badly stuck with a big bill even if you end up not loving it.

    22 September, 2005

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    Scent Intense by Costume National

    Wallopingly incense-y and spicy to me, to the point of being unbalanced. I love incense, I love spice, but this fragrance overdoes it and automatically turns me off; I react to it the same way I do FM's Musc Ravageur, which is also just too much, too soon. Most definitely unisex, tending toward the masculine, with even the amber in it taking a mainly masculine turn. There are also resemblances here to some of the CdG signature scents, none of which has ever appealed to me due to their chemically aggressive openings. I guess this is an outright no for me; I've tried it multiple times expecting a different outcome and have returned every time to the same conclusion!

    22 September, 2005

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    Clean Perfume by Clean

    Alright, not to get too personal here, but I shower with Ivory, always have, and its fragrance forms the basis for much of what I consider to be the definition of clean, soapy, fresh, what have you. A little bit spicy, rather dry, very white-smelling if that makes sense. So the whole deal of Clean, the fragrance, smelling like clean-I-just-showered has always been lost on me. I'd have to be showering with something very lemon-sugary - Fresh's Sugar brown sugar body polish comes immediately to mind as nearly an identical smell-alike to Clean, right down to the heavy proportion of litsea cubeba - to consider Clean to be, well, clean. But that's fine, no problem; whatever one's concept of freshly showered may be, Clean is a perfectly nice fragrance, tangy with citrus and a little powdery as well as extremely sweet. I assume that sweetness comes from the lily in the mix and also the litsea, which is equal parts lemony (actually more like lemongrass than fruit lemon, I think) and perky sweet. I enjoy wearing it from time to time and do consider it in the same category as a few of the Fresh scents like the original Fresh Sugar, which I prefer to this but find has inferior staying power compared to Clean's.

    22 September, 2005

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    Clean Baby Girl by Clean

    Gag em with a gargantuan wad of Juicy Fruit and douse me with a bucket of bathroom cleaner - this is not babyish or clean or even wearable for the most part. It's just sicky, sticky and not of the natural world. The whole concept of the Clean line is a touch of a mystery to me, as my idea of what the concept of clean smells like is not nearly so sweet or fruity as anything put out under the Clean label. Guess I use a much different brand of soap? But while some of the other Clean scents are bearable and even decent, Clean Baby Girl is an abomination. The official lineup of notes astonishes me - Egyptian geranium, cinnamon, cedar, white musk? Really? Where?? And while some of the other notes including the African violet, heliotrope, cyclamen and citruses are more detectable, they all have a pretty synthetic edge to them. Upon application, this fragrance is genuinely scary and evokes myriad airport restrooms freshly cleaned. Once it dries down, it's scarcely more tolerable but not quite as bad as it seems as first, if that's any consolation...

    22 September, 2005

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    Ralph Cool by Ralph Lauren

    The cutest bottle ever - I get tricked into wearing this scent every time because the high-energy, popsicle-ish pink and blue packaging just says, "spray me, I'm so much fun!" And this actually is a fun-smelling iced fruit scent, really bright strawberry-melonish kiwi and kicky watermelon, almost as giddy as a junior high crush - until the cucumber begins to make its presence known. And then it gets really unpleasant. I've heard this fragrance compared, unfavorably, to dill pickles and with regret, I am inclined to agree. I know it's from the cucumber note, which should be watery and refreshing but somehow clashes rather rudely, in the end, with something else in here. Maybe the honeysuckle and jasmine bring out its worst qualities? That's the only thing I can think of, and it's such a shame. Overall, minus the eau de pickle, this is one of the better fruit fragrances out there and really does have the refreshing sensation the name implies, at least on inital application. But the one clunker note kind of kills it, all the way through to the drydown. But hey, if you get a pickle craving, now you know where to turn!

    22 September, 2005

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    Amorito by Body Shop

    Gourmand-y and fun, Amorito is an enticing blend of chocolate - more milky than dark - and vanilla with a jot of jasmine. It's a caramelly chocolate, a tiny bit powdery around the margins but generally very cheerful and just uplifting. Depending on how you like to wear your scents and for what occasions, this can be worn alone or layered, as per The Body Shop's intent for this and the other 8 EDTs in its "Invent Your Scent" range. Personally, I bought it for layering - in my case, with some of my more sophisticated fruity fragrances like Carolina by Carolina Herrera as well as some light rose-violet scents like YSL Paris and L'Artisan Drole de Rose. What's great about Amorito is that it's so reasonably priced - well under $20 for a one-ounce bottle of EDT - that you can buy it precisely for these kinds of layering "experiments," many of which yield you whole new fragrances, without breaking the bank. In that sense, I consider this in the same class and of the same unbeatable value as the greatest of all gourmand layering scents, Molinard Vanille, which is high praise indeed for Amorito.

    22 September, 2005

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    Love's Fresh Lemon by Love's

    My first introduction to the concept of "hesperides," LOL! I still remember so vividly getting a bottle of this (and also Jean Nate - wow, that WAS a long time ago!) in my stocking at Christmas and being mesmerized by the incredible *blast* of fresh-squeezed lemon coming from the splash-style bottle. That was close to three decades ago and I'm convinced that I love citrus fragrances to this day because of Love's Fresh Lemon. As far as lemon scents go, it's honestly shockingly good; even today, when I'm wearing L'Artisan's Zeste d'Ete, I can honestly say with a completely straight face that the quality of the lemon in Love's comparaes favorably to that in the L'Artisan. Pretty remarkable. This really is a fresh lemon - no oiliness, no furniture spray overtones or random sugariness. Great stuff. Sadly, this is darned near impossible to find anywhere anymore; Dana has brought back some of the other Love's scents but the Fresh Lemon seems to have been left behind. Too bad - especially as it's still a totally relevant scent!

    22 September, 2005

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    Acqua Chiara by i Profumi di Firenze

    Very, very white flowery - gardenia, magnolia, jasmine, honeysuckle - with a shake of powder from what I suspect is the pomegranate flower. I would call this a very breezy take on the florals involved; just the gardenia and honeysuckle alone have the power to overwhelm, but they don't in this case. It's as though they're running at half-strength, which I think has more to do with the dilution of the notes rather than the notes themselves. I find all i Profumi di Firenze (iPdF) scents to be heavily alcoholy and this one is not an exception; the notes tend to come at you all in a huge rush upon application and then almost immediately calm down to subdued levels and then, several hours later, disappear so completely that you could have sworn you never applied fragrance at all. We're talking vanishing act here, in all seriousness. For this reason alone, I would recommend the iPdF line only with a very big caveat; the products are very expensive for you ultimately get in terms of quality and lasting power. I've had the same experience with the line's Iris di Firenze, Talco Delicato, Vaniglia de Madagascar and Limone de Sicilia scents, so I know it's not just an Acqua Chiara thing.

    22 September, 2005

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    …quipage by HermŤs

    After exploring the terrain of new fragrances, I found myself with a bottle of Hermes Equipage. In the beginning you tend to perceive it as an 'old school' fragrance- but it's no traditional dry down. Equipage is still a unique fragrance a masculine (yes masculine) mix of floral and leathery woods. It's a pallette cleanser, offering a break from the fragrance bar. Equipage is your "Steady Eddy". The BIGGEST suprise- I get more compliments and positive remarks from Equipage from any other newer 'modern' fragrance. Give it a shot, what's old is new again.

    22 September, 2005

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    Premier Figuier by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    Iím just not really a fig fan, I guess. This has a sour green note that I just canít really come to terms with. Also, as far as fig based fragrances go, I prefer Diptyques. If this fragrance didnít have that sour milk note, Iíd probably like it more.

    22 September, 2005

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    Bandit by Robert Piguet

    Bandit is a dirty, sweet floral fragrance. This is a most unusual fragrance. It smells slightly pink, while at the same time, so dirty. Itís a feminine fragrance, but it can easily be worn by men. This is really a must try. Itís a fascinating example of perfumery.

    22 September, 2005

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    Acqua di GiÚ pour Homme by Giorgio Armani

    This fragrance marked a big change in the fragrance market; I think AdG is one of the largest culprits in the death of art and expression of perfumery. I think every man alive owns a bottle of this. I just have to askÖ why even bother owning this?

    22 September, 2005

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    Boucheron pour Homme by Boucheron

    I donít know if I am alone on this, but I find this to be very Rose dominant. It starts with a lemony citrus top, and fades into a slightly herbal chypre like rose heart. Itís a very elegant and refined fragrance, that exudes luxury and class. BpH is a very well made fragrance.

    22 September, 2005

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    Bulgari pour Homme by Bulgari

    This is one of the lightest and shortest lived fragrances I have ever come across. Itís got a nice green tea kind of note, but for some odd reason, this fragrance reminds me of the way door handles smell. I know that probably doesnít make sense, but it has this musty metallic accord that smells like used metal. Very odd fragrance.

    22 September, 2005

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    Casran by Chopard

    Casran is a pretty well behaved and linear gourmand. Itís well mannered, so you wonít find too many people that donít like it, and it also doesnít really evolve much on the skin. Itís one of the few linear sweet fragrances that can avoid being cloying.

    22 September, 2005

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    cK be by Calvin Klein

    I donít know if itís from some many people wearing it, but CK Be is what I think of when I hear the words generic cologne. This is a unisex offering from CK, and itís gotten so ubiquitous that itís now one of the easiest fragrances to identify. Itís mostly a citrus fragrance on a not so warn pseudo oriental base. Not something I like.

    22 September, 2005

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    Cool Water by Davidoff

    This is the staple of an era. Where the 80ís had Drakkar and Polo, the 90ís had Cool Water. This has its home in the back seat of every sleazy teenagerís car. This was one of the fragrances that really kick started the marine/fresh fragrance market. This has, over time, become a pretty low class fragrance that is now, for some odd reason, synonymous with sleaze. Itís not a bad fragrance by any means, but itís picked up a kind of stigma, if you will.

    22 September, 2005

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    Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche

    Again, this was the staple of an era. Itís a tacky and sleazy fragrance. Even the original Polo is a couple tiers above Drakkar. This should have stayed in the 80ís.

    22 September, 2005

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    Eau d'Hadrien by Annick Goutal

    Eau díHadrien is an incredibly short lived, reasonably nice, but nothing special citrus fragrance. I just canít really think of a reason to own this on a market that is flooded with more interesting, and longer lasting citrus fragrances.

    22 September, 2005

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    Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior

    Once a citrus fragrance, now a timeless classic. This is a sparkling citrus fragrance, that is a must own in almost any collection. Itís great for summer. Eau Sauvage is complex and elegant enough to be worn even on special occasions, but itís also not so stuffy and rigid that it earns that ďold manĒ reputation.

    22 September, 2005

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    Escada Homme by Escada

    This surely is different from Escadaís most recent releases. Escada Homme is a nice boozy oriental fragrance. The note pyramid doesnít suggest it, but there is a definite floral influence in there, also. Itís a very well made fragrance. Itís very warm, making it ideal for winter. This is a nice one that can be had for very cheap.

    22 September, 2005

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    Fahrenheit by Christian Dior


    Wow, this smells like turpentine, gasoline, and floral notes. This is a very disagreeable fragrance. It fails at what it is, and it fails at what it tries to be.

    22 September, 2005

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    Gendarme by Gendarme

    The note Pyramid says Gendarme has leather in it, but I would drink it before I believed that. Gendarme is the most unobtrusive and clean fragrance I have come across. Itís actually surprisingly long lasting, but I stop noticing it pretty quickly when I wear it. Not my kind of fragrance, but its great for what it is.

    22 September, 2005

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    Happy for Men by Clinique

    I donít really like Happy very much, but for what it is, itís great. Happy is a very lively and uplifting citrus fragrance. This orange dominated citrus fragrance is well balanced, and never becomes acidic like so many other citrus fragrances. Happy is very easy to wear, and great for summer.

    22 September, 2005

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    Havana by Aramis

    Havana is a great Tobacco based designer fragrance. Havana is a great, rich fragrance. It has hints of floral notes that help subdue the Tobacco. I wouldnít put it in the same league as Vintage Tabarome, Aqua di Cuba, etc, but it is a great fragrance.

    22 September, 2005

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    Helmut Lang Men by Helmut Lang

    This is a great and very unique powdery musk fragrance. Very soft, and very alluring. Itís a very comforting fragrance.

    22 September, 2005

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    Kenzo pour Homme by Kenzo

    Itís a great idea, and a very interesting fragrance, but it makes me kind of ill. There is a very off-putting and nauseating seaweed note that comes off as rotten. I really donít think I could ever wear this fragrance. Itís a good idea, but not a very good fragrance.

    22 September, 2005

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    L'Eau par Kenzo pour Homme by Kenzo

    This is just barely different from everything else on the market, just barely. Itís a very soft and very subtle aquatic and citrus fragrance. Itís very fresh, and has some interesting notes to keep it from being boring. I will agree with Matt; this is a much better made fragrance than most other summer offerings.

    22 September, 2005

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    L'Essence de Must de Cartier by Cartier

    This is a very clean, and very classy Oriental fragrance. Despite being stronger and longer lasting, it doesnít have too much depth. To me, this is an image fragrance; like most Cartiers, itís elegant, a bit shallow, and refined. Itís very well made, and very safe fragrance.

    22 September, 2005

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    Le M‚le by Jean Paul Gaultier

    Interesting. This is a very modern and chic take on lavender and oriental fragrances. I canít but feel a lot of inspiration was taken from Caron Pour un Homme. While Pour un Homme is much different from Le Male, they are both built around vanilla and lavender. Either way, Le Male is interesting, but has become so popular that wearing it makes me feel like a bit of a lemming. Also, like Pour un Homme, Le Male is pretty easy to get tired of.

    22 September, 2005

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