Perfume Reviews

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No. 10 White Oud by Agonist

A pleasant offering by a brand I haven’t really the highest consideration for. White Oud opens with plushy white musks infused with a nutty-camphor vibe and a sort of subtle, bright floral-fruity top nuance, as much pale as clearly defined (I mean – not a generic floral accord, just crisp precise floral notes with a very ethereal, therefore “pale” substance). Mostly the first minutes are all about clean, Helmug Lang-esque musks though, that sort of lab-like, greyish “laundry” feel with a very peculiar sort of cold, hard, slightly mineral-salty vibe (I think caused by the base notes of cypriol and woody aromachemicals), which creates a sort of thin, yet stout feel of, say, “marble paper”, if that makes sense. Thin as paper, yet robust as a rock. It’s quite hard to describe, but if that helps, you can think of something halfway Helmut Lang Eau de Cologne and L’Artisan’s Timbuktu painted in white icy watercolours.

Then, cypriol emerges together with the tonka-woody accord dusted with patchouli, or better say the way round – the top notes (floral, mostly, and the sweetest, plushiest, “soap-like” side of musks) fade away and tone down considerably, which is quite unusual for musks. White Oud gets then drier, woodier, still “white-grey” in an aloof, concrete-like way, and to this extent there’s some distant connections to another musky “cold” scent – Narciso for Him, mostly for this same similar “concrete” vibe. White Oud smells more thin than that though, and also considerably more complex. There is in fact this bizarre sort of mineral-nutty note coming and going, probably due to tonka, but emptied of any warmth or exoticness. Actually that’s how most of the notes smell here – exotic, but somehow “emptied” of their vibrant nature. Also patchouli, for instance, it smells like a black & white polaroid of it, rather than the “full” usual note. And it’s not just about being more light, it’s a more interesting work on the very texture of the notes. Finally, the drydown pleasantly brings back some soft floral accents (oddly similar to orange blossoms at this point) laying them on a woody-ambery base accord (mostly woody, with a dusty touch of amber).

It seems to me that White Oud definitely nails the concept of creating a “white-dark woody” scent translating the exotic terms of a typical oud scent into a Scandinavian-inspired cold and, say, “hard” blend. Being not a fan of Agonist I wouldn’t have given much credit to this attempt, but the result is quite compelling actually. For as weird it may seem, it does smell like a “white oud” infusion indeed: it keeps the same nutty-medicinal woody nuances of oud, just replacing any skanky, smoky, oily- thick texture with its exact opposite: musks, floral notes, a dry-cold substance, a touch of exotic-almondy dry sweetness. As a comparison, just consider the similarly-named Montale’s White Aoud: I love that (nearly the only Montale I really like), but that’s way more “easy” and simplistic rendition of “white oud” – it’s just oud, with some conventional “white” notes on top, like vanilla and flowers. Agonist’s White Oud is instead a more creative, abstract, complex interpretation of the idea of “white oud” – more a veritable “translation” of it in fragrant terms, if that makes sense.

Well anyway, this is interesting and smart. And also quite pleasant to wear, regardless of any “theoretical” consideration about it. Maybe a tad boring after you got the magic and the concept, slightly more synthetic than I would have liked (even taking into account that it quite fits the concept – smelling so artificial, I mean) and definitely overpriced, but well designed and well done.

7,5-8/10
09th February, 2016

Olène by Diptyque

If you love Jasmine, and are looking for a JASMINE scent, you've found it! Yes, it is linear, but sometimes, that is what you are searching for!

I have many jasmine scents, and I love them all. Some have many complex notes along with them, and they are brilliantly done. Every now and then, though, I just want to smell the jasmine, so that is the void Olene fills.

Get the square bottle if you can find it.
09th February, 2016

Foxglove by Joya FvsS: Parfums

Bright, green, fresh, yet deep with a floral gossamer ribbon running throughout. Really special, and beautiful parfum oil. I own the rollerball version of this, and am giving serious consideration for the larger sculptured piece. This is the attar of the East Coast.
09th February, 2016
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Aqua Allegoria Foliflora by Guerlain

This fragrance may as well be the benchmark for 'pretty good floral.' Nothing is bad and nothing really stands out. The Guerlain quality of ingredients is reliable as ever, but there is just so little personality at work here that I feel like there wasn't really a plan, as there seems to be a complete lack of a focal point.
09th February, 2016

Lady Gaga Fame by Lady Gaga

I can't help but feel that Fame is a pale imitation of Deep Night. While that should be disparaging I love Deep Night, so anything close is bound to be good. If you like sweet jasmine scents in the vein of Hypnotic Poison this is bound to be pleasant. It's just a bit too plain and baseless to be really exciting. Still much better than most celebrity scents.
09th February, 2016

Arpège by Lanvin

Aldehydes and indoles - All that flowery by-product goodness that was once all but unavoidable in perfumery. The listed notes might makes this sound like a fresh, semi-sweet bouquet, but this juice is practically filthy. And, whereas this used to be a desirable standard of fragrance for women, nowadays it might be seen as a more avant-garde masculine. It's a tough wear for what it is, but a pleasure to sample. The EDC formula peters out too soon on my skin, but some might call that a mercy.
09th February, 2016
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Aer by Angela Ciampagna

The opening combines bunch of citrus fruit with a touch of mint, the mint herb that is, not a peppermint. A very nice combination, not a splashing opening blast but more a gently crisp start of this olfactory journey.

Very soon after the beginning the vetiver arises. Is is a green herbal vetiver, not dark and more on the brighter side. It has a grassy component, although this never is in the foreground - this is no Bowling Green. The vetiver as some earthiness to it, but is is less earthy that Molinar's Vetyver, and at times it tilts towards a chypre impression - I am reminded of Revillon's French Line.

The drydown moves through patches that express a mildly boozy juniper, and at times I detect whiffs of a Blenheim-Bouquet-style impression. When entering the base note stage, on the one hand a certain additional tartness develops due to a patchouli arising, but overall the base sees it returning to the vetiver as not only the dominant component in the base, but also the leitmotif throughout the longitudinal development from beginning to end.

On my skin the performance is formidable: moderate sillage, very good projection and an outstanding ten hours of longevity.

A lovely summery daytime scent for use throughout cooler hours that demonstrates an excellent quality of the largely natural ingredients. So whilst most of the compoenents are not exactly of revolutionary creativity as such, they are executed carefully and thoughtfully with a few twists whilst being superbly blended, with a complete lack of superficial or vacuous showiness. Very good. 3.5/5.
09th February, 2016

Côte d'Amour by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Cote d'Amour is similar in a weird way to Le Roi Soleil Homme in that I feel it has to be worn to the beach to really shine. It is an exceedingly fleeting, dry-grassy scent with a hint of creaminess which remains close to the body unless one is in a place of strong heat. The citrus aspects don't stay long, so the star of the show is the team-up of coastal woods which amalgamate into a single (and singular) aroma which evades description. There is a weightlessness in these semi-tropical notes and a very pointed lack of sweetness which practically screams 'l'Artisan.' They do seem to have a penchant for pulling whispers from the exotic. Much like with many of their offerings, I would really enjoy this were it a little stronger, but in this case I can't help but feel that would defeat the carefree purpose of Cote d'Amour.
09th February, 2016

Paris Hilton Passport : St. Moritz by Paris Hilton

Ivy is stamped all over this one. The fruit notes listed, if they are there, have sort of been partially removed in a way that leaves only trace musks of pear and lemon, more the peels than the juice. I don't smell much in the way of freesia, but the lily and jasmine are there on top with that dominating ivy. This smells like fresh funk, trying to be icy and airy and white floral, but that ivy and -something- else in this (blue poppy? 'green leaves?') brings with it a filmy skunkiness which, unfairly, is both the only interesting thing going on, and exactly what makes St. Moritz unwearable. Even the (admittedly low quality synthetic) sandalwood can't save the day, either, as its presence is minuscule. Overall, this is not a terrible fragrance; it's just so utterly not good that I have to wonder who thought it had to exist. And who equates ivy with ski trips?
09th February, 2016

Visa by Robert Piguet

I am reviewing Visa as came from a sample vial with an unofficial, untraceable plain-print sticker wrapped round it. It just reads, 'Piguet Visa EDP'. For the sake of likelihood I assume it is the 2007 version but my only certainty about it is in the notes.
Visa opens with a ripe peach and plum duo which I recall from many scents from the early 90's. They are couched comfortably in the lactonic folds of vanilla and sandalwood, laced with a dry, green moss. Once the moss has established itself I am reminded immediately of Mitsuoko EDP, only this is at once simpler and plusher. Hints of citrus and white florals insinuate themselves, as a quiet, leathery scent hides in the powder, keeping the composition from spilling into edible territory. So what I get overall is very much an old-school milky chypre with a much smaller presence of base notes, allowing the softer, rosy and juicy tones a little more time to shine. Is this a good thing? I can see Visa as being an intermediary stepping stone either to or from the classics, potentially helping the younger crowd to safely dabble in oakmoss and feminine leathers, or to give classicists some wearable middle ground that fits more in with the modern scheme.
Visa is a perfectly proportioned chimera of styles, and almost a surefire delight for lovers of peach. As soon as I know which Visa I am talking about for certain I'll be sure to let you know.
09th February, 2016
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom

Woody by Arabian Oud

The opening is gorgeous: rose, oud and saffron, with the oud being quite prominent on my skin. The rose is of a darker nature, more like a Damascene rose, but less deep and less intensive than in other scents; it blends in very well with the oud and the saffron; the latter being a bit more in the background.

The oud is labeled and originating from Java, which is another example of perfumers resorting to areas outside Mysore to source their agar wood. Unless
one is sitting on supplies from previous decades, as Chanel for instance is said to be, Mysore sandalwood is increasingly impossible to find and other proveniences are becoming increasingly popular. Le Labo, for example, uses Australian sandalwood.

The drydown also contains a musk note that persists until the end; am this is of medium intensity but lacks any stronger faecaloid characteristics. There are other wood notes present in the later stages, sandal mainly with hints of rose wood.

The sillage is strong, the projection excellent, and I get five hours of longevity.

This is an impressive composition. The quality of the ingredients is excellent, and the oud less synthetic and more convincing than is some other fragrances who sport the "oud" label prominently in their name. It is very well blended whilst maintaining good structure. A great winter creation. 3.5/5.

09th February, 2016

Toujours Moi by Dana

I have been sniffing the Corday version of Toujours Moi and just marveling at how strong the presence of smoky vetiver was in this concoction in proportion to the rest of it. You don't see too many fragrances being marketed to women these days with this much smokiness. TM smells to me like burnt amber - it is vanilla-sweet like Emeraude, with that dusting of powder at the end, but without the bright orange (just a touch of the blossom). It is a bit like Shalimar but is not at all animalic. SOmething floral in the background - is it hiding or has it just been crushed by the vetiver? Its presence is slight. Yes, this is the smoldering remains of a lump of amber resin which has had a single lilac flower gently brushed over its surface. It is surprisingly soft, a case study in restraint, where I was expecting gaudy and heady. I have not yet tried the Dana version.
09th February, 2016

Chapeau Bleu by Marina Picasso

Delightfully lush and a little abstract, like many crossbreed florals from the early 90's, CB smells like walking along a flower garden of great variety, placed close to the sea, while eating dulce de leche ice cream. It is like a salted peach atop an impossibly crowded bouquet drizzled with caramel (the tuberose is poking out). It is a busy thing, bringing to mind the similar thicknesses (but not quite aromas) of Catalyst, Nicole Miller for Women, or perhaps Ysatis. This is not a serious fragrance. This is a day on the town, skipping in public, Harold and Maude kind of scent. If you remember clothing patterns from '90-'94, colors and shapes crammed together with childlike abandon, know that Chapeau Bleu smells the way that looks - fun, uninhibited, and a bit embarrassing in retrospect. I consider this the feminine counterpart for the original Kenzo Pour Homme.
09th February, 2016
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Dia Woman by Amouage

I hope you like aldehydes. The rosy and orangey aspects of dia serve to prop up the tanginess of the top, elongating its opening statement through suggestion. Peony and peach soon after help this pinpoint impression bloom out on the sides into an orangey, daylight blush. The peaking frequency from the beginning is swallowed in slow motion and absorbed into the body. Woods and a thankfully soft incense emerge - a play in three acts, delicately layered to produce a certain sense of passing time; sunrise, sunset. Dia sings softly of intentional beauty.
09th February, 2016

Vetiver Veritas by Heeley

This is a very natural Vetiver fragrance. Magnificent root,clean soil. A solid study of the plant and will be interesting for Vetiver aficionados.
A little to minimal and literal for my taste.I prefer the light airiness of Roger & Gallet and like a few others, the smoky conifer perfumed complexity of Sycomore.
Neutral as I would not purchase a full bottle.
09th February, 2016

Malabar by Crown Perfumery

WOW. I haven't been this impressed with the first sniff of a woody floral since I got my hands on Flora Danica. This juice is potent. Bursting at the seems with ylang and jasmine, Malabar is a veritable tug of war between green stems and white petals. I'd bet good money that, if the '89 version is anything like the original, Guerlain's Samsara was created with this in mind, as there is an extreme similarity in ingredients, texture, and volume. That's right - this stuff is pretty loud. Funny enough, this was re-released the same year Samsara came out. But, while Samsara is a bit more paired down to the essentials (with heavy emphasis on jasmine and sandalwood, like a somehow beautiful caricature), Malabar possesses the rosy-cheeked hue of English rose lurking in the mix, along with the bitter green stems. This would most certainly be perceived as old fashioned but it is undeniably well-executed.
09th February, 2016

Cologne Sologne by Nicolaï

Super pleasant, airy-citrusy white floral scent which makes great subtle use of rosemary; It's like 'almost-lime.' Little here in the way of movement or progression, but its a suave, natural splash-on for the warmer days of the year. Highly recommended for those looking for a slightly better 4711.
09th February, 2016

Saat Safa by Al Rehab

When I first applied this, I thought, this is so close to my Ex Idolo 33. Close, but no Cigar!

It lacks the balance, 3 dimensionality and tannin of the Thirty-Three.

I get Rose, something citric and vaguely medicinal iodinic and oud.

As others have said before, a pleasant scent and at a very pleasant price.
08th February, 2016

Salamanca by Olympic Orchids

This is a mixture that is more like a monochrome beige picture,dusty. |It first of all comes off scent-wise like flat pulp paper and then textures out on variations of beige collage, again dusty.
Clever idea, as I have created culinary dishes monochrome beige to artsy effect.
To wear this as a perfume. Uh,no. I don't think so Ms.Covey.
08th February, 2016

Douglas Hannant by Robert Piguet

Had I read the notes pyramid before applying this to my skin I would have steeled myself for disaster. Instead, I was greeted with a hyper-pleasant and saturated opening that smelled equal parts miscellaneous bouquet and edible arrangement, with the interplay of pear and jasmine lending a sticky-sweet accord like honey or brown sugar. Sadly, this tacky yet fun barrage dwindles rather quickly to the likable but less outgoing floral heart. The end stage is unimpressive but I got a little chuckle when I realized I was thinking about Smarties candies ground to powder. This would probably make for a decent work frag, because the opening gets you really pumped up, and then DH settles in for the day and lasts a good long while, like a sweet, quiet little hum around you. Certainly worth a try.
08th February, 2016

L'Ete en Douce / Extrait de Songes by L'Artisan Parfumeur

L'Eau de Linden?
This is a refreshingly natural creation, starring a grassy, almost lichen-like accord. It is dry but not dead, and quite musky. I almost thought my sample was spoiled at first whiff because I simply wasn't expecting the blend at all. It's like a bottled Summer romp in a Southern American grove. I often find orange blossom in floral compositions to be clawing its way to the top for attention, but here it is polite and lacy as a Jane Eyre side character.
As something I would seldom (if ever) wear I would be inclined to rate this one a 'neutral,' but it's just such a happy fragrance. And even when a cute and energetic puppy is being persistent and annoying, it's still a puppy.
08th February, 2016

Matsukita by Crown Perfumery

Matsukita smells to me a touch green, a tad pink, and mostly white floral in nature. It isn't quite powdery, but so very hazy around the edges. There is just a hint of filth under the prim and cleanly petals - I'm going with indolic jasmine on this one, over a backdrop of carnation. Very old-fashioned and impossibly soft. More of a comfort than an attention piece. Very pleasant, but arguably too quiet.
08th February, 2016

Lonestar Memories by Tauer

Lonestar Memories features an almost overpowering smoky leather note at the beginning, like a leather jacket tossed onto a campfire. Its black, rubbery thrust might seem too monolithic were it not for the minty geranium leaf and an orangey myrrh shooting though it, letting down the density of the smoke to an acceptable level. The opening is thrilling and evocative, but there’s no beating around the bush here - it’s wild enough to scare the horses.

But Lonestar Memories isn’t a perfume built purely on the shock value of its topnotes. The smoke note here is rich, full, and rubbed with sage, so despite the general industrial bent to the leather note (tar, creosote, tarpaulins, motor engine oil), there is a refreshing whiff of the great outdoors too. It’s a macho, dry perfume built on a HUMONGOUS scale, as broad in scope as a prairie. A fragrance for dreamers and wanderers.

For me, Lonestar Memories only really hits its stride when it enters the dry down. The smoke note settles, and becomes just one more layer in the rich leather, a tiny prickle of birch tar there to remind us that this is no ladies’ glove type of leather. There is real beauty in the quality of the myrrh here. It is soapy, antiseptic and slightly bitter in that black, oily way that myrrh oil is, so one gets the pleasant impression of having washed one’s hands with coal tar soap. If you are someone like me who grew up with that soap, then this stage will be a real rush to the head. It also has a licorice-like facet to it.

Teamed with the smoky but now smooth leather, and a gummy floral note (jasmine?), the myrrh provides a shot of almost bitter soapiness that reads as very necessary against the white, creamy amber in the background. The opening is riveting, but the delicious, long dry down is what keeps me coming back for more.

Would I buy a bottle? Probably not. Not because I don’t think it is beautiful or striking, because I do, but because it is such a strongly “environmental” fragrance, by which I mean that it conjures up an entire slice of Americana – a prairie, a dust bowl, a tire shop with oily mechanics – and so I feel it doesn’t really fit in with the type of life I lead.

But I treasure my sample of it. Now, rather than wearing it on my skin, I prefer to soak a blotter in Lonestar Memories and place it into my jeans pocket or underneath the desk lamp in my office so that I can enjoy its rich, smoky, cowboy-chaps scent all day long without the commitment of skin time. Perfect.
08th February, 2016
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Agent Provocateur by Agent Provocateur

Rose and saffron are in the leading roles here, with the rose playing the first violin, and at an early stage the floral notes break through - on my skin his is clearly a mainly floral composition, initially with a bit of an aldehydic accompaniment that suits the rose well. This is not a deep, dark, fervent and velvety rose, but more a rose exuding elegance, playfulness and light-heartedness.

The floral notes developing are mainly in the drydown, are a light and bright geranium, blending well with the rose, ylang-ylang and jasmin. In spite of this potpourri this is never really a sweet fragrance on me, and the musk added in the base is not a very sweet version either. The coda of this composition is a light and mild amber impression that fades out gracefully into the end.

The performance is good, with moderate sillage, good projection and six hours of longevity on my skin.

This is an interesting daytime spring scent, also good for warmer autumn days, and some the of combinations of notes are quite unusual and implemented quite creatively. Nothing groundbreaking but solid. 3.25/5

08th February, 2016
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L'Agent by Agent Provocateur

The opening blast displays a nice balance between the floral and the crisp, with the ylang-ylang and the slightly boozy angelica finding their balancing counterpart is a mildly peppery note. Later in the drydown, however, the floral side definitely takes over, with a pleasant geranium and jasmin in the foreground; osmanthus and a nice rose are also present.

The base takes a different direction; here amber and a medium-heavy patchouli with vanilla and musk set the tone; the base is definitely less floral-centric than earlier phases, and in my skin it is a tad more generic and less convincing than its predecessors

The sillage is moderate, the projection adequate, and I get five hours of longevity.

A nice floral spring scent, initially crisper than the original, with the floral core also a bit different form the original version. A pleasant flanker. 3/5
08th February, 2016

Le Jardin de Monsieur Li by Hermès


Nuanced… sheer. Such a light, yet appealing fragrance. Le Jardin de Monsieur Li is an exercise in minimalism, and it succeeds masterfully. It’s difficult for me to discuss the makeup of the fragrance because I lack the Zen vocabulary to describe it. The pyramid lists three notes: Jasmine, Kumquat, and Sichuan Pepper. My nose can tell that the list is… accurate. But my experience tells me that, although I clearly recognize it as such, this jasmine is like no other jasmine I’ve smelled before… it is insubstantial – and yet it is present and recognizable. The same for the kumquat… this delicate citrus in the accord is near nonexistent – but it is there nevertheless. The pepper is the note with the most substance and the most recognizability – for a time anyway; still, even the pepper is unbelievably subtle.

Since this is a “Le Jardin” and not a “Un Jardin,” I’m not sure that it is meant to be a an official member of the Jardin series – a series that I have had various thoughts of contempt about, (except for Un Jardin Sur le Toit). Unlike the rest of them, I think that Le Jardin de Monsieur Li is phenomenal. I can understand the negative reviews about it, because its subtly and discretion are pushed beyond realistic limits. But I love it… I appreciate its delicacy and nuance. I see this as a fragrance that could be very successful in the newer Asian market. Remarkable.
07th February, 2016

Sycomore (new) by Chanel


As if you needed it, this is another review saying that Sycomore is pretty near perfect… and that it’s similar to Lalique’s Encre Noire but much more refined. I can see the refinement as a good thing, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t value the rawness of Encre Noire. Encre Noire is excellent and fulfilling just as it is… its roughness is part of its character. I own Encre Noire and I wear it often, and plan to continue with that program.

Sycomore is pretty near the perfect smoked vetiver fragrance. As perfect as it is, I don’t see my wearing it very often, and there are other Exclusifs that are calling out to me to fill some empty spaces in my fragrance wardrobe... I already have more than enough vetivers.

But there’s no way I can get away from it: Sycomore is truly, truly beautiful and certainly worth every penny.
07th February, 2016

Kanøn by Kanon

The Vintage was extraordinarily unique. It had fresh clean lines like my Grandmother's 60's Scandinavian hand rubbed wood furniture. It carried a perfume that
evoked a polished austere nobility. I wore it through the 70's and into the early 80's when my mood was that of being alone in a stark landscape, tuned with my Viking Warrior.
I don't know if I'd want to taste the contemporary as it could shatter the spell.
Thump's up, certainly for the vintage.
07th February, 2016

Les Nombres d'Or : Eau Absolue by Mona di Orio


It’s been over seven years since I’ve reviewed a Mona di Orio fragrance, and today, the first sniff I took of Eau Absolue completely erased those seven years: “Oh yeah, now I remember her signature style: Clean, elegant notes, strong rich accords, traditional construction, perfect transitions between accords, nothing out of place …nothing challenging …what you smell is what you get.”

Eau Absolue opens with a near perfect citrus accord – rich, clean, precise, balanced, and so sniffable. Quite soon a perfect geranium note hovers over the citrus to round out the opening to ...perfection, I guess. After the appropriate time, the citrus / geranium gives way to a precisely smooth soft-spicy heart accord dominated by that heart-breakingly lovely geranium note.

I love an excellent geranium note so I am really enjoying the geranium’s being carried into the base, which, of course is smooth, rich, and balanced with its geranium, wood, musk, and labdanum composition. It is elegant and lush. Possibly it should cast a better sillage, and it seems to evaporate too soon off my dry skin, but it provides a fitting swansong to this fragrance.

Except for its lack of perfection in sillage and longevity, this is a technically satisfying and fulfilling fragrance – a quality that I tend to undervalue. I prefer more creativity, surprise, and even a bit of rawness in my fragrances; however, I can’t deny that Eau Absolue is a fragrance of quality and beauty.
07th February, 2016

Pétale Noir by Agent Provocateur


Petale Noir isn’t floral. It is FLORAL!!! Eight flowers and violet leaves are the only notes listed in the top two levels of the pyramid – not a herb, spice, wood, or sweetener in sight. It’s difficult for me to separate the individual floral notes out of the massive bouquet accord, and, considering the power of the florals, I don’t want to try to separate them. I’m not sure how I feel about such a militant attack from the garden world: The floral tidal wave gets easier to take as it settles down, which is about a half hour. But it also gets more characterless: Hmmmm... Maybe I enjoyed the flower power more than I realized.

The remainder Petale Noir is nice enough but…unremarkable.
07th February, 2016
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