Perfume Reviews

Latest Perfume Reviews

Equipage Géranium by Hermès

Among the most prominent designer brands, Hermès is currently probably the only one which is still able to deliver solid products on a consistent basis, at least for the masculine/unisex side – good, sometimes great, decently boring in the worst cases. This new addition to their classic series confirms that commitment to respect customers’ taste and intelligence. Equipage Geranium is in fact, briefly put, a very solid fragrance. It pays all respects to Equipage’s heritage, cleverly reworking its bone structure by giving it a sharper, colder, more floral yet somehow drier shape – shortly, a fresher, more contemporary look. And also a sort of more transparent, edgy texture. I must say that globally it is very similar to Equipage, even almost too much, and you easily get it since the very opening. “Equipage in spring”, so to speak: all that timeless, distinguished, smoky herbal-woody refinement tinged with a shade of cold, yet cozy an breezy geranium and a sprinkle of spices, topped with a really enjoyable citric accord – citrus was there in Equipage too, here it seems a bit stronger and more persistent. The evolution is equally enjoyable, the scent – which turns out to be quite more long-lasting and bolder than you may assume – gets drier, a bit darker and woodier as a base blend of bitter mossy woods (vetiver mostly) and, I think, some cloves-leather accord gets a more prominent position, with even a touch of grey, slightly powdery smoke arising and giving some dusty, refined warmth to the blend. Still a sharp herbal blend, just a bit moodier and more somber. Oddly enough, as we’re talking about two opposite types of fragrances, the emerging of a general sense of dusty-sweet warmth brings in a really distant echo of the very drydown of Tiffany for Men, too.

Coming to the main feature and the “raison d’etre” of this flanker – the geranium – I am sadly not familiar enough with it, so I can not comment on the specific note extensively. Never been a fan of it, actually. But it seems, well, really good to me here. It smells crisp, tolerably acrid, even slightly fruity and powdery while remaining bracingly sharp and minty. And it shows some evolution, which is often a sign of quality of materials – it doesn’t simply decrease its presence, but it changes and evolves, getting unexpectedly warmer and more “powdery-floral” before leaving the stage to the mossier-woodier drydown, with sandalwood and salty vetiver as nearly-main notes – both quite thin, but fulfilling and solid.

So overall, you surely get the “Equipage” first, and only then, the subtle, brighter floral-spicy variations. In other words, don’t expect a geranium-based scent; rather a subtle, elegantly executed spicy geranium-based variation on Equipage. Whether you care for or know Equipage already, the final result is an extremely pleasant, refined “old school” fragrance with a palpable “vintage” feel (the mossiness, the virile and restrained dryness, the austere herbal-woody structure with that nondescript sort of citric-metallic feel so many classic masculine scents had, and so on – several classic names come to mind, from Monsieur Carven to, obviously, vintage Equipage itself) and a more contemporary tangy accord of spicy-grassy notes. Quite a mature, “over-30” discreet fragrance fitting like a bespoke glove, lasting longer than I expected and projecting just perfectly. Maybe just a tad too close to Equipage to make sense for Equipage fans, but... well done, Hermès.

09th October, 2015

Givenchy Gentleman by Givenchy

I don’t know the current version of this gem, and given Givenchy’s descent into mediocrity of the past couple of dozens of years, I am not sure if I want to; but the vintage incarnation of Gentleman is by no means inferior to many other timeless vintage masterpieces – and I mean the true Olympus of those, next to Tiffany for Men or vintage Chanel Antaeus. I personally find Gentleman extremely distinguished, extremely high quality, and extremely unique, if not really innovative for its era. My review could (should?) really end here, but well...

The thing I find innovative here is above all the way the combo patchouli-vetiver is used in the composition, and the notes which Léger’s genius decided to surround it with. Basically, the “frame” here is an earthy-smoky texture rich in herbal, hay and woody-leather nuances, which is brilliantly paired with a traditional aromatic lavender-infused fougère bone structure (think of Azzaro pour Homme, although it came later) and a touch of tangy and grassy citrus (similar to verbena). All of this surrounding then the true star of Gentleman, the patchouli-vetiver accord I mentioned above, which gets brilliantly enhanced by earthy, musky, smoky and sweet nuances; the dampness of hay, the indolic smokiness of leather and civet (just a hint, but you definitely smell that little devil rambling beyond the base notes), and a subtle yet perfectly perceivable smooth touch of warm, sweet-powdery-musky floral notes with a shade of vanilla.

Now, it may seem a heavy or complex scent with a lot of nuances ranging from herbal, to smoky-leathery, to woody and sweet-powdery, but it isn’t really. Or well, it is complex indeed, but not too “powerful” at all. It’s a refined, almost tame fragrance, perfectly reflecting its name, delightfully gentle and discreet, cozy and elusive at the same time. It’s so well put-together that it smells perfectly crisp, bright, even fresher than it may seem despite there is many “dark” notes. Truly a perfect uplifting harmony by no means “heavy” to smell – on the contrary, extremely easy to wear and to like. It’s amazing how the notes are there, clear and rich, and yet this fragrance has a remarkably weightless presence on skin – it’s substantial, but really mannered.

Surely a “vintage gentleman’s scent”, probably one of the most sophisticated around, but quite unique and actually, maybe more modern than others, if not slightly more “youthful” too (maybe thanks to the “hippie touch” of patchouli). Needless to say it smells rich, persistent and clear for hours, with a perfect projection and an impeccable drydown which gets gently drier and woodier (that vetiver again!) as hours pass, still keeping a touch of floral muskiness lurking in the background. What else to say? An amazing modern classic of masculine elegance perfectly showing the old school French taste for “classy dirtiness”, that unique ability of many classic French masculine scents to smell refined and cozy still keeping it dirty, complex and even subtly “raw”. Fantastic.

09th October, 2015
drseid Show all reviews
United States

The Swan Princess by The Vagabond Prince

Swan Princess goes on with a tinge of bergamot citrus and slightly metallic floral cyclamen before quickly transitioning to its early heart. Moving to its heart the cyclamen and bergamot vacate as an absolutely huge super-powdery near almond-like heliotrope rises from the base, obliterating everything in its path save supporting cedar wood, and faint peony and rose florals. During the late dry-down the powdery almond-like heliotrope remains, coupling with semi-sweet, smooth sandalwood and slightly animalic musk through the finish. Projection is very good, as is longevity at 10-12 hours on skin.

The first outing from The Vagabond Prince, Enchanted Forest, was a drunken fruit punch focused dud despite being composed by the extremely talented Bertrand Duchaufour. After that fiasco, surely reenlisting Duchaufour for its next release, Swan Princess, must result in a better outcome, right? In a word, "Wrong." As bad as the initial outing was, this one is regrettably even worse. The key culprit is a torturous combination of supercharged powdery heliotrope and near synthetic smelling cedar wood that completely doesn't work. Duchaufour tries to bridge the gap with subtle floral peony, but while he has done a stellar job with that ingredient in the past in his brilliant Rose Cut for Ann Gerard, here it fails miserably. Things at this point become a pretty linear affair, and if one doesn't like what they sniff now, it doesn't get any better late. Knowing what Duchaufour is capable of I have to believe the real trouble with these compositions for The Vagabond Prince must lie in some unfortunate briefs he has had to work with. In truth, I am quite afraid to think what The Vagabond Prince will ask him to come up with next. The bottom line is the $200 per 100ml bottle Swan Princess is a messy floral woody concoction that its talented nose just "phones in," earning a "poor" 2 stars out of 5 rating and a solid avoid recommendation.
09th October, 2015
Advertisement — Reviews continue below

Hermèssence Cuir d'Ange by Hermès

Hermessence Cuir d'Ange unveils by soon its real substance that is powdery (vaguely eliotropic), decidedly leathery (though soft in approach) and surely floral (at list in the fleeting top side). Actually floral notes perform each of them a diverse sort of substantial role since while earthy-leafy violet is just present in the top, eliciting there for a while a touch of tart/wet angularity, iris is softer (and longly influencing) providing a typically synthetic cosmetical twist joined to musk and leather. Opening is for a while wet, grassy, softly aldehydic and barely hesperidic. Leather, with its supremely smooth opacity, discloses immediately its wings and it plays warmly, in a weirdly floral-mineral temporary way conjuring me shortly several Histoires de Parfums's concoctions a la Rosam, Ambrarem and particularly Petroleum. In particular I get a dramatic (almost gothic) accord of patchouli, powdery woods, lipstick/resinous powder settled by eliotropic-musky-sticky iris, musk and petrol (a leather/resins/rubber/waxy powder opaque -spicy dusty- dominant accord which seems representing a sort of ideal "fil rouge" with a secret Histoires de Parfums' recipe). I can't deny that several lipstick iris/soft leather/musk dominant accords jump gradually on mind (from Dior Homme Parfum to Heeley Cuir Pleine Fleur, from Parfumerie Generale Cuir d'Iris to Laboratorio Olfattivo Daimiris, from Parfum d'Empire Cuir Ottoman to Memo Italian Leather and Cuir by Lancome) but in here musk (temperamental floral notes) and waxy iris are ephemeral while leather is dominant in its enygmatic mistiness. Cuir d'Ange is somewhat linear and close to skin, it is a really refined (or better smoothly shy) musky-leather in which floral notes are basically evanescent and just synthetic iris is central with its soft buttery vibe perfectly joined to smooth leather and powder. There is also a sort of cedary-incensey slightly smoky ghostly aura a la Naomi Goodsir Cuir Velours around the general suede-driven softness (it seems to get sort of smoky fir resins and mineral-incensey dustiness), a presence providing an almost liturgical mistiness, grey and moody as a dreary humid afternoon roaming for medieval abandoned sites and arcane sacre venues. A solid (though not precisely original) choice for the lovers of soft leather-genre with a glance oriented to melancholic elusiveness and solitude pursuit.
P.S: along the way leather slightly recedes and something more markedly floral starts coming up.
08th October, 2015

Portrait of a Lady by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

oh...this is good. Really good.

I'm in trouble. I never knew rose could be so violently complex yet so sweet and comforting. It is the whole rose composed, thorns and all. I feel its sting, yet the velvety smooth petals bring me so much joy. This is the BDSM of fragrance.

The blending of the patchouli is a dance of push and pull - like a sensual mating dance. The rose plays hide-and-seek with the patchouli and it's a mystery as to when and why one appears and one doesn't.

The sandalwood lays low, but it not quite demure. It makes me smile even as I type this review. It's a lovely balance. Perfect.

Certainly, this is an expensive fragrance, but one that is most worthy of a full bottle.
08th October, 2015

L by Lolita Lempicka

I'm gonna be honest, and admit that I purchased this for the bottle. I had no idea what to expect from it scent-wise.

Delightful - truly. The cinnamon was a surprise. For the first 15-20 minutes, I smell as though I walked into a bakery that just finished baking cinnamon bread.

The vanilla that comes thru is not too sweet, and is quite elegant - again, not something I expected.

The bottle is gorgeous, and truly misleading. This has nothing to do with aquatics, summer, sand, or anything you would envision with the likes of such a sculpture. While my brain suffers a bit with this juxtaposition, I do appreciate the comedy.
08th October, 2015

Winter Woods by Sonoma Scent Studio

Anything by Sonoma Scent Studio is as rare as a hen’s tooth over here in Europe (distribution problems) so when I got the chance to buy a decant of Sonoma Scent Studio Winter Woods untested, I just had to go for it. I rarely buy blind anymore, but I’m a committed fan of anything Laurie Erickson does, so I knew that the risk factor was low.

In the end, I think I’m going to have to ask one of my U.S. friends for a big (and perhaps illegal?) favor, because 4mls of this dark elixir is just not going to be enough. I need more. How much more? Technically, let’s say it has to be enough to stop those feelings of helpless rage and sorrow every time I see the level in that decant bottle dip any further.

Winter Woods goes on with a whomp-whomp of a hot, dirty castoreum note married to the cool, sticky, almost mentholated smell of fir balsam. Immediately, you are plunged deep into a dark woods at night, all around you silence and the sticky emanations of sap and balsam and gum from the trees. There is an animal panting softly nearby – you don’t see him, but you can smell his fur and his breath.

But it is warm and safe there in the woods. As a warm, cinnamon-flecked amber rises from the base and melds with the animalics and the woods, the scent becomes bathed in a toffee-colored light. There is sweetness and spice here. It smells like Christmas, and of the pleasure of breathing in icy cold air when you are wrapped up, all warm and cozy.

In the heart, a touch of birch tar adds a smoky, “blackened” Russian leather accent, and this has the effect of fusing the heavy, sweet amber with a waft of sweet incense smoke. It’s as if someone has opened a valve of SSS’s own Incense Pure in the middle of the woods – a dry, smoky outdoors incense for a pagan ceremony perhaps. I also sense some dry tobacco leaves here, reminiscent of Tabac Aurea, another SSS classic.

I love the way that the heavy layers of the fragrance – amber, woods, animalics, labdanum, and incense smoke – have been knitted together to form one big angora wool sweater of a scent. It is heavy, but smooth, and a total pleasure to wear. If I could get my hands on it, I would buy a big bottle of it in a heartbeat.
07th October, 2015

Parfums des Beaux Arts Cimabue by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz was originally asked by a fan on to recreate her favorite perfume, Safran Troublant, because she had heard it was being discontinued (it wasn’t) and was distraught.

Cimabue is not a faithful rendition of Safran Troublant, but instead a loving tribute that ends up taking the delicate saffron-infused rice-pudding-and-cream accord of the original inspiration and spinning it off into a far more complex, oriental result.

A creamy, dessert-saffron takes center stage here. But a significant clove, ginger, orange, and cinnamon combination lends it a spicy pomander feel that makes my mind wander more in the direction of Pan d’Epices and other European Christmas treats, rather than in the direction of delicate, dusty-floral Indian milk puddings.

There is rose too, and whole ladlefuls of a dark, molten honey – not sweet, but rather bitter and grown-up, like the slight edge of bitterness on a candied peel or a raisin that rescues a taste from being too sugary. There is a charming medieval feel, overall, like a rich golden tapestry hanging on a banquet hall or the taste and smell of those sticky (but dry) honey and almond cakes studded with nuts, cloves, and dried orange peel that are still popular in Siena and Pisa today, such as panforte and ricciarelli.

Cimabue is no simple gourmand, though. It’s a fully-fledged oriental. It’s as if the simple, gourmandy custard of Safran Troublant got dipped into the clove-studded orange and booze of Chanel’s Coco, rubbed in the spicy velvet of Opium, and rolled around in the ambery dust of Fendi’s Theorema, and emerged twelve hours later all the better and wiser for it. It’s the pomander-cross-spice gourmand I had hoped Noir Epices by Frederic Malle would be (but wasn’t). And best of all, it features my favorite note – saffron – in perhaps by favorite guise, that of a sweet, creamy, exotic dessert saffron.

I own two bottles of Safran Troublant, because I love it mindlessly and wear it as a simple comfort scent. But Cimabue is a step forward in the perfume evolutionary chain, and as a piece of art, I prefer it.

Cimabue, by the way, was the Italian artist famous for breaking with the flat Italo-Byzantine style of painting icons and frescos in pre-Renaissance Italy by introducing more naturalistic, true-to-life proportions of figures and shading. And I like to think that the name of this fragrance was deliberate. Because Cimabue takes the basic model of Safran Troublant, animates it subtly with shadows and highlights, and renders it in living, breathing, 3-dimensional form.

It doesn’t make me love Safran Troublant any less, but it is only when I wear its more evolved descendant that I become aware of the progenitor’s serene flatness.
07th October, 2015

Peety by O'Driù

This fragrance famously comes 49ml to the bottle, with the final 1ml to be topped up using a drop or two of one’s own urine. I only had a small sample vial, though. I gave it my best shot, logistics not being my strong point and all, but there I was, crouched furtively over the small vial when the horrid thought occurred to me: WHAT IF THE PERSON WHO GAVE ME THE SAMPLE ALREADY PEED IN IT?

I thought quickly – who had given me the sample? Ah, that’s right – Colin Maillard. So off I waddled to my computer, my panties around my knees, and past the living room, where my husband looked up from his newspaper and called out mildly, “Everything alright, dear?”

Colin had not, it turns out, adulterated the sample. I was free to pee. But in the end, I chose not to. I’d like to say it was logistics, but really, I am a wuss.

So what does Peety smell like?

Surprising (to me). I don’t know why but I had expected something comforting and stodgy, like a piece of marmalade pudding with custard on a cold day. It’s something about the listed notes that made me think that – tobacco, tonka, honey, oranges. I had been imagining Tobacco Vanille mixed with a little bit of Absolue Pour Le Soir and rounded off with a touch of Feve Delicieuse (or Pure Havane).

No such thing – this is the opposite of comfort. This is startling. Uncomfortable even. In a good, on-the-edge-of-your-seat way.

The first whiff corresponded with the notions of tobacco comfort I’d nurtured: a deep waft of whiskey and tobacco and even hay, and there I was with a grin on my face and getting ready to sit back and enjoy the ride.

But then in rode this wave of licorice-like herbs and citrus fruits, all drenched in this dark, bitter honey with a deep piss-like nuance to it. Bitter oranges and lemons might indeed explain some of the sharpness, but here the citrus is not fresh. It smells like a cross between a bunch of dried herbs and a lemon, like lemongrass or singed lime peel. The herb-citrus mélange covers the fragrance with a deep medicinal gloom that seems almost black to me, like viewing a pile of luridly-hued fruits under a thick brown preserving glaze in a museum bell jar.

The sharp atmosphere that this almost toxic stew of pissy-honey, civet, medicinal clove, herbs, and preserved lemons creates forms the central character of Peety – and it never quite leaves. But that is what is fascinating to me. It reminds me of something caustic you’d use to lance a boil or dress a war wound.

Actually, this sort of barbershoppy, herb-strewn, musky character is something I associate with a certain style in Italian perfumery. I have experienced the same herbs-and-citrus-on-steroids openings in many of the other O’Driu’s, including Eva Kant, and in Bogue’s Maai and Ker. There is a sort of hyper-masculine, but self-conscious retro barbershop style at play here, as if these perfumers are trying to re-imagine the traditional Italian barbershops and apothecaries they might remember from their childhood.

The style is specifically Italian to me, and although I didn’t grow up in Italy, I did live there, and I recognize the atmosphere of those old, dusty places where traditional healing remedies, tisanes, and unguents sit right next to little white boxes full of Swiss-precise modern medicines. The whole of Italy is kind of like that; this weird and charming mix of traditional superstition and ultra-modern moral mores. So when I say that parts of Peety remind me of those Ricola honey-anise throat pastilles you see at every cash register in Italy, I don’t mean that it literally smells like that but that there is a memory association there for me.

Later on, a musky tobacco accord emerges, rich and glowing. The end result, on my skin anyway, is a sort of “old leather” aroma redolent with male musk and warm, stubbly cheeks (the type on a man’s face, one hastens to add). The aura of rich male skin and musk is bolstered by a warm, almost sick-smelling castoreum, and while there is never sweetness, there is a feeling of sharp edges being rounded off and sanded down – a sleepy warmth.

Funnily enough, it is only in the very later stages, when the bitter herbs and spices have banked down a bit, that I can smell the flowers – a rose and jasmine combination that smells both sultry and medicinal. Joined with the cozy ambroxan or amber-cashmere material in the background, there is an effect there that is quite similar to Andy Tauer’s Le Maroc Pour Elle (although this is not as sweet). The dry, papery (and hyper-masculine-smelling) tobacco accord in the dry-down is a real delight. It is not fruity or sweet like other tobaccos – this is dry and leathery. Persistence is extraordinary – I could smell this on my face cloth for four days afterwards.

A fascinating experience, this perfume, and just one of those things you feel richer for having experienced. Very few moments of wide-eyed delight come about for me these days, so hats off to Angelo Pregoni for Peety.
07th October, 2015

Shangri La by Hiram Green

Oh me, oh my, you make me cry, you’re such a good-looking woman….

Can chypres be sexy? I never thought so until I fell in love with Femme. Femme is sexy with a capital S. I love both versions of Femme – the vintage one with the musky plums and oakmoss, and the current version, all sharp and woody and armpit-cuminy. But I thought that Femme was an outlier. Chypres are just too upright and stiff-backed to be sexy in that low-down, guttural-growl kind of way.

Enter Shangri-La by the British indie perfumer, Hiram Green. I admire Mr. Green’s approach to making perfume. He does it slow, releasing only two perfumes in two years – and he does it right. Named for the fictional land described in James Hilton’s novel ‘Lost Horizon’, Shangri La is his second fragrance, released in 2014 after Moon Bloom, his extremely well-received tuberose soliflore in 2013.

Shangri-La, at the risk of being painfully literal here, is indeed a Shangri-La for the chypre lover. It restores my faith in the belief that modern perfumery can still turn out perfumes that rival the old greats from the past, and perhaps even surpass them now and then. Shangri-La does not surpass Femme or Mitsouko for me, but it was and is a beautiful surprise that evokes strong emotion in me.

It is also pretty sexy, in a carefully-contained way.

It opens with the traditional chypre sally – a bitter, bracing bergamot – except here it feels more lemony and sparkling than the Mitsouko bergamot, which has an aged, darkened feel to it no matter the iteration or vintage. A wave of champagne-like bergamot, then, to usher in a velvet heart of peach, rose, and iris, held aloft by a bed of what smells like real oakmoss.

The peach and spices develop into a sticky compote that darkens and thickens with time – part jammy fruit, part leathery peach skin. It smells delicious – not fully gourmand thanks to the bitter facets of the iris, bergamot, lemon, and moss – but also not as forbidding and dusty as Mitsouko.

Beyond the peach and the lemon, Shangri-La is actually all about the jasmine for me. I wore it to bed one night and woke up in the middle of the night surrounded by the unmistakable, creamy scent of night-flowering jasmine petals.

Bubbling just underneath the skin of this peach and jasmine combo is something enticingly dirty-sexy and musky. Could it be a touch of castoreum, perhaps, or a not-so-clean musk? The mystery note is not explained, although I am sure it is not civet, because the dirtiness is warm and round, not sharp or urinous. Possibly it’s the jasmine, although I don’t think the more indolic Sambac jasmine has been used here – there’s a smooth fruitiness that suggests jasmine grandiflorum.

Either way, the overall effect is of a deep, sensual fruity-floral chypre that does indeed feel like a true chypre from top to bottom, but also has a welcome sexiness to it that would make me want to wear it in more relaxed situations than would normally call for a more uptight chypre.

It’s on my hit list, for sure.
07th October, 2015

Panama 1924 : Daytona by Boellis

A guilty pleasure for me. Boellis is a traditional shaving/grooming brand based in Italy, finally really connected to an actual historical boutique and an actual Boellis family, the current owner being an actual skilled and renowned barber. Now, obviously this means nothing as regards of their perfume range since they are not producing the scents themselves and rather just sold the license to a production and distribution company based in Milan (Profumitalia); but at least, the brand is honest and doesn’t need to boost its image and mock customers’ intelligence with made-up nonsense. And the fragrances seem reflecting that attitude actually, since the ones I tried seemed all as much unpretentious as quite solid. Maybe unremarkably, if not mediocrely good, but still (almost) worthy the price tag if you are into non-groundbreaking, non-luxury, but nice, well-made, compelling and slightly designer-oriented stuff with a refined old school, typically “Italian” twist.

Now, Daytona is a fresh, elegant, comforting, maybe slightly dull but totally competent leafy-zesty-woody scent with a metallic fruity twist bearing quite a clear resemblance to Creed Aventus, with some key differences for me (besides the elephant in the room – the price tag). There is surely a tiny bit of that same department store feel, the dihydromicernol-driven kind of pungent-metallic-aquatic citrus-fruity note blending with dry, musky, ambroxan-infused and again quite “mainstream” crisp woods; but there’s no pineapple first, less cassis-driven fruitiness, and there’s more musky smokiness with a cozy minty-lavender accent and some more nondescript “grassy” feel, which seems connecting Daytona more tightly to the old school aromatic-green fougères tradition, making it smell a bit more barbershop-oriented, more distinguished and more mature than Aventus. And overall, aside from the notes, Daytona smells also more breezy, more smooth, and surprisingly more natural than that in my opinion. Still that’s the ballpark, so nothing really new; but if you feel something like that (like Aventus I mean, or in broader terms, like a safe and tame enough contemporary aromatic fougère balancing “charme” and a “crowd-pleasing” attitude with a really good persistence and projection combo) is missing from your wardrobe... then Daytona would make a really classy and quality choice, with a decent value for the price.

07th October, 2015

Kalemat by Arabian Oud

Kalemat represents (after the fully enjoyed Gentleman Secret) my second olfactory approach with this "taking the world by storm" new "orientalish" brand (with the european main seat in London) named Arabian Oud. Kalemat is a spicy oriental honeyed amber/oudh combo with rubbery-leatherish exotic facets, a stout cashmere woods' presence and hints of leather-tobacco. It is absolutely not a new experience for me since I catch in its delicious (sugary-honeyed) recipe many olfactive stereotypes yet encountered around in my humble experience (for instance in several compositions appointed for Sonoma Scent Studio, Lutens, Neela Vermeire, Lubin, Puredistance, Slumberhouse, Nasomatto or By Kilian). Scents a la Nasomatto Pardon, Sonoma Scent Studio Tabac Aurea, Winter Woods and Amber Noir, Lutens Ambre Sultan, Roya Dove Fetish Pour Homme, Majda Bekkali Fusion Sacree For Him, Clive Christian C For Men, Aedes de Venustas Eau de Parfum, Tom Ford Youth Dew Amber Nude jump vaguely on mind (initially in here in a sweeter disguise) for several of their characteristics. There is anyway a secret which bewitches me under this nowadays mainstream (for the niche universe) sugary orientalism and it is a stunning old school chypre hidden substance jumping out at distance as sophisticated mossy/woody-salty/waxy classic spark (something a la Estee Lauder, La Perla, Ungaro, classics Fendi/Versace/Armani, feminine Hermes or V&A), a sort of neo-classic twist recently re-introduced in scents a la Tom Ford Arabian Wood or in several Bertrand Duchaufour/Montale/Francis Kurkdjian's musky-resinous new experiments (a chic classic rosey-musky feel to be intended as a long term "fil rouge" with old masterpieces a la Fendi classic or Gianni Versace, an old chypre accord of sandalwood, ambergris, oakmoss, fur and honey). This immensely sophisticated western twist (hidden under a more simplistic spicy-honeyed-resinous orientalism) turns me out as huge worshipper of this mysterious masterperfumer ingeniously performing behind Arabian Oud. A classic massive vibe under a more banally "fluorescent" spicy/honeyed/resinous accord (basically an easily runned amber-tobacco-sweet spices-woody resins combination) providing this new fragrance with vintage preciousness and classic complexity. At the end of the trip the spicy honeyed hyper sweet vibe recedes and an amazing (almost misty-incensey, hyper lush and still mossy/fur-like) spell of classic wisdom starts taking the stage with all its charge of charm and mystery. Kalemat is a tremendous example of neo-classicism in disguise and an oriental master work with a long and satisfactory evolution full of charm, parisian sophistication and high class.
06th October, 2015 (last edited: 07th October, 2015)

Domenico Caraceni 1913 by Domenico Caraceni

This is not a full review but a brief update to remark only on the 2015 re-release of Domenico Caraceni 1913. I performed a focused old versus new two-hand test for a several hours and, as is often the case with reformulations, the exercise sadly became the murder of a beautiful theory by a gang of brutal facts. Honestly there is no contest. After a period of time the vintage seems like it has about twice the stuffing and projection. The base of the vintage is far richer and, unlike what you might expect with a vintage/new comparison, the vintage has a subtle but sustained top-note layer featuring a sort of clove-y menthol vibe that the new version completely lacks. This difference in the high notes is just one of the factors that suggests to me that the variances at issue are not merely a function of ingredient concentrations given the relative age of the juice.

Today I am wearing the vintage as my SOTD and the intensity and projection from two spays is almost uncomfortably strong for at least the first three to four hours. Perhaps the reformulation, therefore, is somehow easier to wear, but I do worry a bit that it lacks character. In particular, I wonder if it is as distinctive a rose-centered masculine fragrance as other options such as Lyric Man, Egoist, Déclaration d'Un Soir, or others – not that this is a large category. It may well be, however, that the new Caraceni looks puny only when placed next to the giant of the original. Alternative comparisons may well prove more felicitous.
06th October, 2015
Advertisement — Reviews continue below

Lalique (new) by Lalique

Lovely, rich, black and white Bogart and Bacall romance...don't wear it if you're not brave enough!
Floral, heavy, but not too, becomes one with the wearer...sentimental and longing...fabulous.
06th October, 2015

Arrogant by English Laundry

Smells very identical to Signature by the same company and launched in the same year.

Interestingly enough, the notes are identical except this is missing lemon, nutmeg and vetiver.

Not sure what the point is, but basically one is a flanker of the other.

We don't need another Le Male wannabe...though it is much nicer than Le Male.
06th October, 2015
Oviatt Show all reviews
United States

Tuberose by Mary Chess

Years ago in London I had the chance to get to know the head of the Queen Mother's household--a true Major Domo and so much more than just a butler; he was fiercely loyal to his mistress and very much a part of the image she projected. On off duty hours he was an old roué who was well known in the watering holes around St. James and Mayfair. When he entertained, he mirrored the Queen Mother's custom of giving each lady at the table a gift, usually a small bottle of her favorite Tuberose by Mary Chess. Although she wore several scents (including L'Heure Bleue), this, he said, was her favorite. A strong, sweet, true tuberose that was truly regal.
06th October, 2015 (last edited: 05th October, 2015)

TH Bold by Tommy Hilfiger

Surprisingly good for a Tommy Hilfiger fragrance...good things coming since the Estee Lauder take over.

The initial blast is of a beautiful though synthetic neroli surrounded by grapefruit. This sets the tone for the rest of the journey...more citrus and green florals.

A smooth drydown with hints of wood and musk.

This is unisex to my nose by the way...terrible marketing.
05th October, 2015

Cuir Pleine Fleur / Fine Leather by Heeley

I've fallen hard for this, all the more so because I didn't get it the first time I smelled it, on card. Then I got a sample when I bought Iris de Nuit and it's gorgeous. It starts off with a subtle leather, hay and flowers, never crude or sweet. It's natural enough to wear at home with jeans and sophisticated enough for a conservative office, on a day when you want to remember the world outside. The really clever trick is the soapy note which appears deep into the drydown; not a crude aldehydic soap (and never just soap) but an expensive and beautiful leather one. So the scent gets progressively fresher and cleaner on your arm as the office day wears on. Definitely worth a bottle.
05th October, 2015
Oviatt Show all reviews
United States

Eau Duelle by Diptyque

In Paris there is a wonderful tea shop in one of the covered galleries in the 2nd arrondisement called A Priori The. It has been a favorite of my wife's since her student days and her favorite thing to get there is their delicately vanilla scented tea. Eau Duelle takes me immediately to that lovely arcade with its sights and smells. I also smell cedar, or perhaps a burned-out incense note. There have been wonderful reviews written about the duality of the scent, its ability to connect polar opposites and create a new warm/cold, light/dark world. All true. To me, however, this just smells mostly like a smokey vanilla tea scent that is comforting and cosy, chic without trying too hard (much like the Galerie Vivienne). As unisex as a cup of tea shared by two lovers, the male/female duality is also very much in play with this scent.
05th October, 2015

Tom Ford for Men by Tom Ford

I’ve never been much of a fan of Tom Ford’s masculine offerings, as I find them either nice but overpriced, or fairly dull (Noir, for example). For some reasons I always never cared for this one, maybe unconsciously thinking, given the name, that it was a sort of epitome of all of that, and... bingo, this is instead the first one which works for me. Mostly because it’s finally something solid, with a fair price (well, sort of). Maybe a bit boring, surely too discreet for the needs of the average “bros” building pools to bath in their Private Blends, and however miles away from being ground-breaking: just solid and mature, unpretentious and versatile, with a remarkably decent quality and overall, extremely pleasant to wear. The composition smells simple and clear, and notes seem all built with really decent materials: the spiced, gingerish orange-citrus notes are sparkling, tangy and juicy; the floral-infused musky-ambery base smells compellingly warm, slightly creamy and slightly salty too, the whole woody-herbal accord is a bit aseptic and nondescript (I only get some faint, weakly mossy vetiver), but working fine within the composition, providing an office-safe “boisé” feel which will get some more credit on the drydown, and the suede-ish tobacco smells, well, like most other tobacco notes on the market - which means “nothing like real tobacco” for me, but nice anyway; smooth, sweet, “brownish” and affably, youthfully distinguished.

Like for some other reviewers, two fragrances came to my mind while wearing this the first time: Hugo Boss Baldessarini and to a much lesser extent, yet worthy a mention, a sort of spicier and watered-down version of L’Instant pour Homme by Guerlain. Maybe Carolina Herrera for Men too, just for the tobacco accord (an “orange-amber” flanker of that would be close to this Ford’s, I guess), and Kenzo pour Homme Boisée just for a similar citrus-scented light woody accord. Above all I’d mention Baldessarini though, and I would say Tom Ford for Men smells quite a bit better than that – more crisp, more appealing, definitely more quality too. So, anyway: a zesty, classy, politely self-confident fragrance with just the right hint of musky tackiness and a pleasant spicy-woody drydown with a warm whiff of amber. Surely a mild, maybe pedantic, kind of “generic” office-safe fragrance based on a really conventional and mainstream concept of “tart-spicy Oriental cologne” with pretty much the sole scope of making you smell nice in the most mannered, discreet and crowd-pleasing meaning possible... but hell, it does it impeccably good (sadly with a short persistence, but it does).

05th October, 2015

Acqua di Parma Colonia Club by Acqua di Parma

As a long time fan of the AdP range (Colonia was my first 'niche' fragrance that really pushed me into this hobby) I have been pretty disappointed with the AdP offering of late. In 2010, I was stunned by the freshness and neroli-hit of Colonia Essenza. But by the time Oud and Ambra were launched (the mid-term Leather launch wasn't too bad) I thought AdP had hit rock bottom. Along comes Club and I now think they've started to dig.

Club is aptly named for a sporty cologne that's as loud as a teenager that's overdosed on sugar in the middle of the local library's "quiet zone". It explodes right from the start; the notes bare no progression from the start, although the neroli, lavender and bergamot are quite obvious. The powdery fougere that this settles into is just too common for anyone that knows all too well what a drug store cologne is. I am no snob that likes perfume to cost six figures or requires a personal assistant to go and pick up a bottle. I equally like my Colonia Essenza as I do my Boucheron or Chanel. But this scent is really a turning point for AdP, as others have mentioned - a turning point downwards...

The only thing that Club can provide a prospective buyer on the high street is a relief from all that yellow packaging. The green coloured Club is quite well suited to the nature of this scent, although it provides little else in terms of scent. Perhaps the prospective buyer should ocntinue to walk past the AdP counter...
05th October, 2015

Back to Black by By Kilian

Understandably a very popular sweet tobacco option in the niche/luxury genre, By Kilian's Back to Black is the first and only perfume of their line that I've sampled due to my interest in sweet tobacco but the also absence of the brand's availability in stores near me (or in general).

Back to Black does not disappoint, being among top sweet tobacco options. The tobacco element is perhaps as rich and deep as in any tobacco fragrance I've ever smelled (it has the natural aspect of a Demeter or Jo Malone). The honey sweetness is also distinct from the more alcoholic sweetness of Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille and the more pure sugary sweetness of Parfums de Marly Herod.

Projection and longevity are both very strong--it's a promising example for the line, so it inherently makes me think that other By Kilian options will perhaps be worthwhile from a strength standpoint.

The composition on a whole, though, is still inferior to the giants Tobacco Vanille and Herod, and being more expensive than either ($260 for 50ml) is the main reason I wouldn't opt for a full bottle of Back to Black but rather a small decant for the collection. Many argue that Back to Black is the best, though, and I can certainly see why. It's inviting, and has both rich tobacco and sweet sides to it, fully ready to take on a variety of cold weather situations, especially dressed-up and special occasions.

Highly recommended as a sweet tobacco option. This could easily be a signature scent and certainly seems to be for many men.

8 out of 10
05th October, 2015
drseid Show all reviews
United States

Bally Masculin by Bally of Switzerland

Bally Masculin opens with aromatic, slightly powdery lavender and underlying anise. Moving to the early heart, the composition stays relatively linear as the lavender and anise remain the focus, with soft patchouli and a supporting soapy, leathery accord joining the fold. As the composition moves further through its middle, the lavender largely vacates, leaving the remnants of the now supporting anise to join the remaining rough leather and newly arrived green, slightly powdery oakmoss rising from the base. During the late dry-down the composition turns to a woody vetiver focus with hints of the oakmoss remaining in subtle support joined by slightly sweet soft amber through the finish. Projection is average, as is longevity at about 8-9 hours on skin.

Bally Masculin is a composition that took quite a while to completely win me over, but win me over it has. The aromatic lavender smelled quite pleasant from the get-go, but the anise was keeping me from completely embracing the composition despite liking it immediately. It is rare that my opinion changes to a large degree on any composition, positive or negative, but with Bally Masculin every time I would wear it new elements that I initially missed behind the lavender and anise fougere front emerged. Over time, the leather that was hiding under the aromatics reveled itself, and later the oakmoss that I completely missed the first few wears is now unmistakable. I could go on and on, but what appeared on first sniff to be a classic fougere that was competent and likable, but relatively unremarkable is actually *quite* remarkable. In short, I stand corrected. The bottom line is the long-since discontinued Bally Masculin is difficult to find nowadays and will most likely cost about $100 for a 100ml bottle on the aftermarket, but it has a lot more going on than what is smelled initially, earning it an "excellent" 4 stars out of 5 and a solid recommendation to classic fougere lovers.
05th October, 2015

Black Orchid by Tom Ford

I love the strength and the nose of this powerful fragrance.
05th October, 2015

Chocolate Greedy by Montale

Deliciously surprised!

Well, first of all... before trying this one, I expected it to be all about one thing: Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate! I thought is would be nothing but one note for the whole fragrance.

How pleasantly surprised I was! Chocolate Greedy, despite it's name, actually reminds me not of pure chocolate, but of many things. Warm, aromatic tobacco, freshly baked chocolate cookies, and even dried, roasted cocoa beans. It's so complex that it always gives me a surprise when I wear it.

It is a very versatile gourmand fragrance in my opinion. I would recommend it to people who don't even like gourmands too much. Perhaps this has some of the Thierry Mugley - Angel Men vibe going on, but I don't find this heavy or cloying in any way. It reminds me of aromatic tobacco and cocoa. A wonderful combination. Highly recommended!
05th October, 2015

Tuscany per Donna by Estee Lauder

Turin describes a "woody rose," noting the amber-orange oriental accord, and praising the edgy geranium-peony note, giving it four stars and classifying it as a "peony oriental."

To my nose, it is an inoffensive, but practically scentless creation, smelling in a general way of rose and amber. The sandalwood and vanilla are used sparingly, as are the other florals listed above.

Despite several applications, I get only a very faint whisp of scent that quickly disintegrates.

It's neither good nor bad, just blandly uninteresting.

For the record, I love Aramis' Tuscany per Uomo of six years prior.
05th October, 2015
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom

Virgin Lily of the Valley by Eric Buterbaugh Florals

A light orange blossom with a dominat lily-of-the-valley greet me in the opening phase. It sounds uninspired, but the lily-of-the-valley is actually quite interesting, as it lacks the customary sweetness usually inherent in this note - a dry version on my skin of a usually sweet note. And this unusually unsweetened lily-of-the-valley is convincing for the first couple of hours. Then a somewhat unexciting wood impression develops, and the liky-of-the valley fades out.

The sillage is soft, the projection all right, and I get six hours of longevity on my skin. A pleasant spring scent and worth trying if one likes lily-of-the-valley but dislikes the sweetness is usually entails. Just barely a positive score - the unexciting drydown is the main weakness of this creation. 3/5
05th October, 2015
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom

Celestial Jasmine by Eric Buterbaugh Florals

The jasmine is present from the beginning, with a white floral undertone, mainly freesia mixed in. The drydown sees ambrox added, and the jasmine, which was restrained initially, gains in colour and intensity with time.

There is no well-defined base on my skin, and the jasmine stays in the foreground until the end. It is never really sweet. As far as the performance is concerned, there is soft sillage, limited projection and six hours of longevity on me.

Whilst this is indubitably an agreeable spring scent with at times quite a nice jasmine developing, overall it remains a bit lackluster otherwise. For jasmine lovers looking for a restrained version, this is worth a try.
05th October, 2015

1775 Valor by Royal Copenhagen

Masculine, clean, good longevity.
05th October, 2015

Hugo Element by Hugo Boss

I am disappointed to see such negative opinion of this one. I think it's a very good office scent and an option for those who find most scents overpowering. I detect mostly ginger, coriander, and musk, so I don't really understand why people are calling it some flimsy aquatic scent. It's crisp, clean, and appealing.
05th October, 2015