Perfume Reviews

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Lucky You for Men by Lucky Brand

If I wanted to, I could both start and end this review by saying this is a kinder, gentler, more interesting Curve for Men (1996), but I won't be that crass. The Brutal truth is this was a brand outreach from Lucky Brand Jeans to Liz Claiborne to make them a version of the nicely bland fou-beige-re that Claiborne had conquered the young men's and women's segment with four years prior, and just like Curve, came in a homogeneous his and hers bottle design. There was improvement here in my opinion, but otherwise this really could just be a Curve flanker and one could even mistake it as such in a blind sniff. Lucky You for Men does head down a greener, softer, muskier, and therefore better direction than the sneeze bomb Curve happens to take, which is why I own a bottle. I smelled this plenty coming off shirt collars after graduating High School, and unlike with Curve, I can safely enjoy the nostalgia on display without needing a Kleenex. The "Special Musk Molecules" shtick is exactly that, and just translates to a base heavier on the white musk note.

Tamarind, "melilotus herb" and "cotton flower" top notes sound like an old familiar trick borrowed from Calvin Klein in giving synthetic citrus and green notes impressive names (with the exception of the tamarind), but truth or dare, it's a standard fresh fougère opening. The cardamom I can also believe is here, but I question the "cascarilla bark" as anything more than synthetic wood. Ahhh this is so very facetious and thus super 90's, back when they still tried pretending they weren't filling a fragrance full of synthetics to keep a few more diehards from leaving and going niche, but I digress. The base is where all the pleasure in this one resides, with musk, sandalwood, rosewood, teak, and bamboo to re-assert the green factor championed by the apothecary-style Coke-glass bottle. It's soft green, hint of spice, then musky woodsy green at the end, which is a much more effective description than citing cotton or strange treebark being in your pyramid. It goes on quiet, ends mostly quiet, and couldn't offend a soul, as Lucky Brand Jeans probably intended if they expected millions of teen guys who wore their Gap-level pants to buy it.

I like this as a nice spring pallette cleanser to wash away all the heavier 60's and 70's aromatics I wear in that time frame, making Lucky You for Men my perfume version of iceberg lettuce or an after-dinner mint. It's fine for day running, work, office, and romance only if your special someone loves watching reruns of Dawson's Creek or The OC. Stay away from summer use and keep winter use confined to indoors as it will turn tail at the first sign of frost or sweat. It's perfectly boring but also perfectly satisfying like a 7-11 hot dog, and my thumbs up comes from that realization that it's okay for a fragrance to be that painfully generalist as long as it serves it's purpose with quality and integrity, something a few newer such entries can't claim to do. Sillage is better than Curve, and so is longevity, no doubt from the heavier woods and musk bottom, which is why this excels at being the welcomed Ford Taurus station wagon among rare musclecars and exotics in your fragrance wardrobe. You won't love it, and you won't hate it, but you will like it. Lucky you...
24th February, 2018

No. 19 by Chanel

Legend has it that this was made by the famed perfumer Henri Robert for Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel's birthday. Originally this was a bespoke fragrance for her to use and give away to her friends and personal clients in 1970, then released to the public upon her death just a year later in 1971. Robert succeeded Earnest Beaux as lead perfumer for Gabrielle from 1952 until her death, then as Master Perfumer of Les Perfums Chanel until 1978, when Jacques Polge took over and reshaped everything we now know about Chanel perfumes. Like Robert's creation for Chanel's debut into masculine territory, this fragrance doesn't perfectly adhere to it's gender assignment. Make no mistake, the bulk and majority of Chanel Pour Monsieur (1955) users are men as intended, and so too are most people spraying on No. 19 women, but the fact remains that the lines here are soft and fuzzy enough for folks from the opposite side of the fence to ignore them. There really isn't much here separating this from Penhaligon's Hammam Bouquet (1872) outside the galbanum, and the same for Aramis 900 from the same year as No. 19, which also relies heavily on balsamic notes combined with a floral heart. Arguably this is more masculine than Robert's Le Dandy (1926), created for perfume house D'Orsay and also used by both sexes despite being pitched to men. But regardless of subjective opinions, No. 19 is universally appealing enough to even create such debate, like Guerlain's own Jicky from 1889.

The point is, this is objectively beautiful from any angle. It's green galbanum-powered opening rolls in with neroli, bergamot, and hyacinthe to just "pop" right in place, with the rose sneaking up like an expected old friend coming around without calling first like they always do. The base of leather, oakmoss, cedar, sandalwood, and musk are strait out of textbook masculine perfumery, and if not for the very flighty heart, would pull this in line with stuff like Monsieur Givenchy (1959). It's really the jasmine, orris, lily of the valley, narcissus, ylang ylang and rose in the heart that tug this into the feminine camp, because separately they're found all over, but all together they form a traditionally feminine floral bouquet in the heart of what is otherwise a green aromatic chypre that could go either way. Certainly, any guy daring to wear this is of the classic dandy persuasion, or just very free and liberal-minded, whichever it may be, but assuming green floral aromatics are of one's taste, this would be fantastic on just about anyone. No. 19 isn't without it's failings however, as it's very light and dry nature at time when aldehydes rulled the earth is comparatively weak next to older sister No. 5 (1921), and this affects it's performance. Nowadays, this dry and green femme fatale seems rather dated, just like Lauder's Azure (1969) and Alliage (1972) in the modern era of super sweet, super ozonic, high-pitch and low-complexity perfume. No. 19 was even briefly retired to be replaced by the re-orchestrated No. 19 Poudré (2011) by Polge before an outcry of fans convinced Chanel to bring it back.

Before anybody gets too excited I must make a few disclaimers: this entire review is based off a vintage column-bottle Eau de Toilette of No 19. Various formats outside the revised "Poudré" have existed, and some say the retired Eau de Cologne and original Eau de Parfum smelled entirely different from this version, which is not unlike Chanel to do. Modern EdT is supposed to more or less be the same, while modern parfum is much more vividly floral, which may appeal more to women seeking not to have the gender of their fragrance questioned, or just in general wanting something with less of the dated dryness (which I love). Regardless of what version one gets, there is nothing modern about this, and the gentle meadowy texture leading into the aromatic base will either be one's galbanum-powered salvation from modern style, or make one run screaming back to it for safety. My two scents here is everything made for or by Coco is of a timeless style that exists outside of the necessity for relevance, and the legions of fans from all genders that worship both this and Chanel No. 5 don't stop to think who this is meant for, they just see it for the art that it is. How functional that art is depends on the beholder: for some it may be a quaint piece of vintage perfumery to be respected but not worn, and for others it is a mental day trip to the fields of southern France every time they spray it on. That's all I got.
23rd February, 2018 (last edited: 24th February, 2018)

Pineapple Vintage X Batch by Parfums Vintage

Big, sweet, pineapple opening with plenty of Sauvage in the background. I don't get much Aventus smoke or richness, just pineapple mixed with Sauvage.

After a couple hours of good projection, it settles down greatly and there's no pineapple really, and no geranium which I find gives Sauvage something extra. It's just Ambroxan. Actually, the geranium is missing for most of the development.

It's still a really nice, pleasant smell but it's just very light after the first couple hours. Could just be olfactory fatigue or the Ambroxan playing tricks.
23rd February, 2018
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Au Delà Narcisse by Bruno Fazzolari

Stardate 20180223:

Simply amazing classical white floral. Not too sweet nor too indolic. A balance not many have struck.
People compare it to Chanel but I think it is way better than any Chanel out there right now. Maybe we can find better floral s in vintage realm but one has to look hard.
23rd February, 2018

Promise by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Stardate 20180223:

Starts out with crisp apple and spicy roses. Not Portrait of Lady kind of spice but more sour.
Unfortunately this sourness takes over soon and drowns the roses. I think Ropion tried to do another POAL with this but went too far with spices and cypriol. The composition is unbalanced. There are a few moments when it wafts to my nose that I get a glimpse of what he was trying, but unfortunately he fails.
Still a good fragrance for those who can look past the weird sourness.
23rd February, 2018
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Royal Scottish Lavender by Creed

Soon after the crisp bergamot opening blast - enhanced by background of citrus - the lavender arrives. And a beautiful lavender it is, inititially weaker but growing stronger as the initial bergamot is receding gradually.

The base adds vanilla and a subtle but sublime touch of sandalwood, with a whiff of light spiciness present towards the end.

I get moderate sillage, good projection and five hours of longevity on my skin.

This delightful spring day scent is beautifully blended of such high quality that in its simplicity their quality is enhanced. Not complex, not ultra-innovative, but a classic mix superbly executed. 3.5/5.
23rd February, 2018

Majestic Woods by Juicy Couture

This may be the most misleading name in perfumery that I have so far experienced. There is nothing woody about this scent; it smells almost precisely like a fire-toasted marshmallow. Perhaps the 'woods' part is just an allusion to all the camping that the average Juicy Couture buyer enjoys?
In any case, if you are looking for a cloying version of Joop! Jump marketed toward females who love fur-lined collars, tiny dogs in purses, and an absurd amount of pink in their attire, start here.
23rd February, 2018

Collection Grands Crus : Assam of India by Berdoues

Citrus and tea reminiscent of Duel by Annick Goutal. Excellently fresh opening but lacking finish, as there doesn't seem to be much, if any, of the touted sandalwood. This would make for an excellent room/pillow/bathroom spray, but may let you down on your person. Even so, I really enjoy the quality and brightness of the opening.
23rd February, 2018

Venetian Bergamot by Tom Ford

Peppery-citrus opening. Drydown starts to go into the woody notes. The floral gardenia is there but it's not overwhelming at any time and I actually see this leaning slightly masculine but maybe that's just on my skin. Honestly, it smells good on everyone, so unisex is fine with me.

Smells like a mature, refined, daytime scent.

Projection is average but longevity is very good, lasts all day.
23rd February, 2018
rbaker Show all reviews
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Viking by Creed

The opening blast combines a fresh bergamot with a spicy herbal undertone. Quite interesting.

When the components become clearer and more differentiatiated in the drydown, there is the gradual development of a fairly bright and somewhat edgy patchouli, together with touches of clove.

Two other constituents are if importance in this creation: firstly, a salty flavour, at times with an ozonic whiff, which is the obvious connotation of the North Sea as evidenced in its name. Nomen est omen here indeed.
Secondly: a fresh and slightly sharp minty undertone, which varies in intensity over time.

The base is maintaining the sea-crispy-spicy character until the end.

I get moderate sillage, good projection and six hours of longevity on my skin.

Thisnscent for cooler summer days by the seaside is quite original in its concept, although definitely not unique. It is blended well of good ingredients. 3.25/5.
22nd February, 2018

Héritage Eau de Toilette by Guerlain

Guerlain Heritage is an interesting notion in masculine perfumery: It was a firmly traditional affair created by Jean Paul Guerlain, the same nose who took over the reigns of the business when it was still family-driven, and revolutionized the house in the eyes of men with classics such as Vetiver (1961) and Habit Rouge (1965), neither which bowed to conventions of the day when made. He didn't stop there however, and made as hardcore traditional eau de cologne scent as could be asked for with Eau de Guerlain (1974), before taking everyone back to the 19th century barbershop with 1985's unicorn-status Derby, which is another famous flop sought after by collectors for it's very anachronistic nature. By the 1990's however, even Jean Paul was seeing the changing of the guard occurring, and I think most of us agree that there weren't enough people left in the mainstream interested in classic perfumery, especially with guys who often made fragrance play double duty as dating-bait, so they needed to be "in the now" for maximum relevance with whomever they are trying to catch. Heritage comes across as Jean Paul's ride off into the sunset as the head of, and nose behind their mainstream fragrances, since by 1994 Guerlain would become an arm of LVMH. He would have one more mainstream masculine in the form of Coriolan in 1998, but that never had the success of Heritage. The fragrance is also notable for being one of the first for Guerlain to admit using a combination house accord known as "Guerlinade" (named after a past perfume), which would be used by the company in modern times as a way of showing the distinction of their creations.

Heritage opens with a very, very classic lemon/bergamot/lavender trifecta found in many chypres and fougères of years past, but in a brighter, sweeter, eye-popping way that stands tall with the emerging ozonics and aquatics the new kids on the block were making. This bright "zing" achieved with otherwise old-world ingredients was Jean Paul's way of showing the kids how it's done, since everyone at the time was pushing for fresher, lighter, simpler smells. Heritage indeed doesn't have a kitchen sink of notes like some of his past works, but rather just melts down into coriander, the modern (and still popular) pink peppercorn typically found in ozonics, but then finishes classically in a warm near-oriental base. This fast transition from sweet and fresh citrus and pepper to that rich base of tonka, vanilla, cedar and patchouli rewards the more mature fans that might initially be put off by the scent's then-modern brightness. Batch variations due to the naturalness of ingredients can happen with this, but we're not talking Creed-levels of insanity needed to insure the best experience by tracking manufacturers codes, so any version will give you this same treatment. Older bottles with gold caps will have more oakmoss fixative (unlisted as a note), while silver cap newer bottles will have less, then post-2011 versions almost none, before the stuff goes into a wood cap version of the "Habit Rouge Bottle" and regains some of it's old plonk through a bit of wizardry from current house perfumer Thierry Wasser.

My batch used to review comes from a 2003 sample, so I'm having the "median" Heritage experience, which makes little difference to me in terms of it's beauty. There really is no -bad- version of the stuff, like most Guerlain, so no stress there. Heritage is a bit fleeting on skin regardless of what you have, as it's bright top fades into a soft, warm, subtle base that really reminds me of a tamed-down version of Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur (1972) or Jovan Sex Appeal (1976) with it's patchouli-forward oriental skew. This fragrance keeps a foot in that old chypre/oriental world, but also one foot in the 90's era of "less is more" with a elegant simplicity that is not hard to recognize once smelled. It's still not going to be for the guy in love with tart aromachemicals or searing aldehydes, so those folks should stick to blue and orange bottles of napalm, but for a guy of any age that wants old-world romanticism without the fussiness associated with their dad's favorite colognes, this is a shoe-in. It's harmony of blending is where the oft-claimed gorgeousness of this fragrance lies, and Jean Paul gave everyone that stripped-down modernity they were looking for, but in that timeless Guerlain way, without compromise. I see mature guys still liking this just a tad more due to it's richness near the end, but really anyone can wear Heritage in the fall and spring, for romantic, casual, day or night use. It won't withstand harsh cold and isn't built for summers in my opinion, but it is built for making memories. Well done.
22nd February, 2018

Leather Oud by Christian Dior

I am not privy to very many "Privé" scents, and am excluded from most "exclusifs" mainly due to prices, which can be comparable to cherished discontinued scents even when new, but through the good fortune and kind hearts that have smiled upon me, I have access to this very vivid piece of perfume art. With that having been said, I'm going to be bluntly honest: this is far from a holy grail that everyone needs in their life, nor is it even appropriate for many occasions, and like most really antique vintages, is so far out of fashion that only hobbyists and lovers of either oud or leather would even dare wear it. Perhaps this "no compromise" nature is why it is part of the Privé Collection, as it's expense coupled with it's limited appeal make it a personal artistic expression from perfumer François Demachy that you can buy, rather than a product expecting a given level of success to exist. Regardless, it's a virile, sweet, potent, and challenging piece of perfumery that may become your personal savior from modern doldrums if your nose never left the 60's chypres, 70's aromatic fougères, or 80's powerhouses.

For starters, this is very masculine despite being a classical unisex perfume, and although daring women can more than execute this well, I have a feeling this is calling fans of sex-dripping masculine-leaning scents from the late Edmond Roudnitska like Moustache Rochas (1949), Eau d'Hermés (1951) or even early YSL masculines like Yves Saint Laurent Pour Homme (1971) and Kouros (1981). I exclude most 80's powerhouses from comparison due to moss not being a part of this, save maybe Lapidus Pour Homme (1987) because a similar civet/civetone underwear funk is here despite that note not being listed by Dior. The very simple note breakdown here is almost all wood, with Indonesian oud and a leather note reminiscent of Aramis (1965) minus the aldehydes stealing the show. This baby is in no need of aldehydes, rest assured, as that fat oud/leather top sing a duet during the entire act on their own, with the other woods such as guaiac, sandal, and cedar being the backup band. If François Demachy had truly wanted this more unisex, a small pinch of jasmine may have solved the issue.

This is dirty, oh so very very dirty, but also sweet, with almost a dried honey-like resinous tone that keeps the finish from being like other ouds and burning your nostrils with an acrid fireplace smell. I also notice this oud doesn't get quite so dark as others I've tried, and the agarwood here isn't just tacked onto a burly palette to disguise it's quantity (or quality for that matter), like many more commercial oud-themed flankers. Christian Dior Leather Oud is really exactly that, and it doesn't dress up that raw animal magnetism one bit, giving a fight or flight reaction to those around the wearer. If you're the type who affectionately calls your favorite fragrance "stink juice", this might be your new best friend. As for me, some days I want to smell like Bounce dryer sheets, and I wear an aquatic for those days, but then sometimes I want to smell like the Amsterdam Red Light District in summer, and this takes me there for what is still less than a plane ticket from the US. Use wherever and whenever, this one knows not about being well-behaved anywhere.
21st February, 2018 (last edited: 22nd February, 2018)

Comme des Garçons 2 Man by Comme des Garçons

Smokey, spicy, masculine opening. Smells very mature but not necessarily old-school. A modern scent for a gentleman but with a casual, working feel. Make no mistake about it though, this is not a young man's scent.

I get good projection and longevity from CdG 2 Man, lasts all day.
21st February, 2018
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The Dreamer by Versace

Starts off potpourri and a bag of sherbets in other words unbearably sugary and fougere. The dry down of course settles a bit but its sweet tobacco although the sweetness does tend to eventually fade only to be replaced by pepper which begins to get up your nose. Lots of pain for little gain. That said I can see the attraction for some.
Fragrance: 2/5
Projection: 3.5/5
Longevity: 3.5/5
21st February, 2018

Single Malt by By Kilian

Boozy and smokey opening. Later it's a boozy vanilla, but not as heavy on the vanilla as other popular vanilla-boozy combos.

Single Malt is an appropriate name as this really does have a prominent whiskey smell. It's also sweet enough to be considered a modern fragrance but this feels more refined and mature than a casual scent. Probably best for nighttime.

This projects decently and hangs around all day.
21st February, 2018

Lolita Lempicka The Midnight Fragrance / L'Eau de Minuit by Lolita Lempicka

Very much like the other flankers, of the Midnight Fragrance. This bottle was released as a limited edition in 2009. The base of this "version" is very tame. Subtle resin and vanilla notes. Loads of myrrh on top.
21st February, 2018
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom

Virgin Island Water by Creed

The opening with its bergamot, citrus, and the signature coconut set the tone of tropical freshness; and the gradually developing rum-infused booziness firms the hints towards the Caribbean theme.

Further into the drydown, a floral theme is added into the mix, with ylang-ylang most
prominent on my skin, although jasmine and a good measure of ginger are present in the background.

The base adds a touch of sugar cane, but through the whole longitudinal development it is the rum and the coconut that constitute the core components on my skin, with the coconut at times rather heavy and creamy at some stage.

I get moderate sillage, excellent projection and a very acceptable longevity of eight hours on my skin.

A rich tropical creation that puts Caribbean inspirations into the bottle. At times some notes are pushed a bit too much to the periphery, but overall the concept works well. 3.5/5.
21st February, 2018

Aura for Men by Jacomo

Aura is an intriguing, obscure scent that was part of a brief resurgence of "green" fragrances which tried to take what was conveyed by the aromatic chypres and fougères of decades past and "modernize" them with lighter, brighter, and sometimes sweeter accords. Gucci Envy for Men (1998) is perhaps the earliest and most famous of this set, achieving mythic status because Tom Ford was involved with Gucci/YSL at the time and it (like many Gucci/YSL fragrances) became discontinued when he left as creative director to start his own house, despite whatever their sales were prior. However, almost one after another came Calvin Klein's Contradiction for Men (1999), then Aura for Men by Jacomo (2000), both of which follow similar lines as Gucci Envy but are overlooked probably because everyone is too busy hunting unicorns. Contradiction was definitely the sweeter sibling, while Envy the spiciest with more ginger, and Aura tries to compromise these two dynamics by resting somewhere in the middle. Jacomo has always marched to the beat of it's own drum e whether contributing to a popular or emerging style, which is what they did with 1980's Jacomo de Jacomo, and no less the case here.

Aura makes it's claim to this brief resurgence in green men's fragrance by revisiting the ginger/tobacco/woods power trio of the lauded and lusted for Gucci Envy for Men but mixes in some of the sweet artifice of Contradiction for Men's creative direction, with a bit of that "fake pine" I mention in my sentimental starry-eyed review for it. Maybe that's why Aura continues to play in the shadow of the colossus that is Gucci Envy: it's similar enough to invoke yearning for the greater scent, but too different and too inferior in quality to be much liked on it's own by those who've owned the Gucci. Aura opens with "green lemon", which is the label's name for it's generic citron note, coupled with sage, sweet juniper, salvia (which high school kids used to try smoking back then), and ginger. The "faux pine" comes in the middle rather than the opening like with Contradiction for men, but the tobacco leaf keeps it from dominating and an interesting matcha note hangs around with coumarin before settling on the resinous base. Sandalwood and cedar fight for space here like they once did in a few standout 70's and 80's aromatics, before musk, amber, and patchouli sweeten and return the scent to it's green beginning on skin.

Aura is a good attempt at a modern-for-Y2K aromatic, but it's clear compromise between bold herbs and spices with 90's chemical lightness makes it feel too niche for the current mainstream millenial but too bland for the niche guy wearing real fougères, whereas Gucci Guilty's unrepentant exercise of traditional grace with modern style in the face of the ozonic glut helped it earn it's stripes even before it became legendary unobtanium. Aura is still a fun little green masculine that sits in it's own corner of the world with a smile on it's face, and has a similar cult following as the debut Jacomo masculine because again, being left-of-center is the designer's hallmark. Lest I forget, the glass-suspended-by-plastic art project that is this thing's bottle is almost worth the paltry asking price alone. Don't expect miracles here, but for the price of a gourmet cheeseburger, you can have a leafy, slightly sweet, slightly earthy bottle of backwoods sunshine nobody has heard of that will be right at home during spring weather. Suggested use is spring/fall daytime casual or office.
21st February, 2018

One Man Show by Jacques Bogart

One Man Show must be one of the most audacious names for a masculine fragrance I have ever seen, to the point of initially staying away from it when I first saw the stuff in mall perfume kiosks. I assumed it sold to that narcissistic set of guys that believe in the "Three F's" and no, I won't spell out what they are, but when it and it's house of Jacques Bogart kept coming up in recommendations from fellow basenotes users, I decided to let my gaurd down to try it. Unsurprisingly, this is a loud "typical 80's" aromatic chypre of the "powerhouse" sub-genre, but unlike it's name, isn't quite so brash to actually wear. Those who have worn the previous Bogart by Jacques Bogart (1975) will instantly understand this as a progression on that theme. Perfumer Roger Pellegrino took the biker-meets-boardroom appeal of that debut masculine and cut away all safety restraints, bolstering the top notes and cutting out the leather. I'm not saying this is a flanker, but just a continuation of a dry, aromatic theme in a more boisterous and noticeable direction.

One Man Show opens with bergamot, basil, stiff galbanum, and rosewood, which outside the last one is a pretty grassy, male-centric arrangement. The heart of jasmine and rose is the only real counterpoint to that masculinity, and when the virile base kicks in with a loud woosh, you'll instantly know if you over-applied because all eyes will be on you as it dries down. Castoreum, labdanum, both cedar and sandalwood, plus a dollop of amber touch off the experience. There is surprisingly no oakmoss listed by Bogart, but unless I've lost all sense of smell, I swear some is there. One Man Show sits squarely between Aramis Devin (1978) with it's galbanum overload, and the endless forest of Quorom by Antonio Puig (1981). There is a slight skank to the opening too, so fans of Kouros (1981) and Lapidus Pour Homme (1987) will appreciate the lack of subtlety here, while users of the more dapper Dunhill Edition (1984) will find redemption in the interplay of cedar and sandalwood base notes.

One Man Show is a proper powerhouse that delivers on all fronts for the man still wishing to make this kind of aggressive statement in the 21st century, although more moderate guys might relegate this to the history books because unlike other early 80's classics such as Oscar de la Renta Pour Lui (1981), this one has "no chill" and eschews balance in favor of projection. It sits confident and uncaring if you approve or not, but despite that stance, has spawned a half-dozen flankers and still surprisingly does sell. It's certainly no fumigator like Joop! Homme (1989), but if you wear this anywhere except outside on a cold winter day, people WILL notice you, and just like the title of the juice, you will indeed become your own "One Man Show". Recommended use is obviously cold months, but this really has no context that suits it best outside a vintage 80's nightclub or a brisk walk in February, on the waterfront. You'll be the only out there anyway, so what does it matter? I love scents that encapsulate a period or personality, so I give it 4 stars and thumbs up, but I also realize this is for the serious enthusiasts only nowadays, which suits me fine.
20th February, 2018

Neroli Portofino Acqua by Tom Ford

This is such a beautiful and happy scent.

Perhaps it could be just a bit stronger.

Great stuff. I'm glad I purchased a bottle.
20th February, 2018

Yohji Homme by Yohji Yamamoto

Yohji Homme by Yohji Yamamoto came at a time when the gourmand was just starting to pick up steam on the men's side of the fragrance spectrum, and as one of the final products of legendary perfumer Jean Kerleo before he left Patou (who created Yohji Yamamoto's scents at first), this gets a big push by collectors and enthusiasts. It's an unlikely hero to the fans of Kerleo to be fair, as most of his past masculine scent work seemed to be arguably more traditional in construction, or at least built upon tradition. Yohji Homme was frankly as much the opposite of traditional men's perfumery as one might get in 1999, even compared to the citric ozonics and aquatics of the day. Yohji Homme, as the male counterpart to Yohji (1996); a feminine gourmand that also can be labelled unisex in some ways, didn't seem to take a hard-line stance on it's own gender assignment, which is perhaps part of it's appeal. We were in a new age of deliberately-marketed unisex perfume thanks to the success of Calvin Klein's CK1 (1994), but both Yohji scents made by Kerleo could be enjoyed interchangeably by either sex, despite who they were "meant for", as I see quite a few men sing praises about the perfume, plus vice-versa with women and this. It should also be of important note that this was touched up by perfumer Olivier Pescheux to meet IFRA standards after Patou gave up the license and Yohji Yamamoto relaunched these on his own in 2012 (only to see them discontinued one more final time a few years later).

Yohji Homme opens with bergamot, sage, juniper berry, cinnamon, cardamom, and a very famous licorice note. Some folks cite lavender as being in this, but I can't really detect it myself amidst all the spice and herbs. The middle is quite boozy with a rum note that then later hands you coffee for the hangover it will give you, and geranium lingers in the background before it all dries in a bootstrap type of leather, with soft musk and patchouli keeping it warm and sensual. Cedar is the final detectable note here, and it's another drying counterpoint, keeping the musk and rum from being cloying. It's a much better-balanced and blended gourmand than many later ones created in it's wake, particularly more commercial ones like Spark by Liz Claiborne (2003) or Bod Man Body Heat by Parfums de Coeur (2007) that both go strait for sweet and warm with no mercy. Yohji Homme instead plays off it's own mystique, being sweet at times, then dry and earthy, seductive with it's warmth but also light enough on it's feet for diplomacy in an office setting. It's far from a generalist scent but it has enough angles to do more than smell pretty, no pun intended. I feel this deliberately acts like a tease on skin, making you satisfied with the first impression, but also contemplating what it would do if you got closer to the person wearing it; the stuff walks that fine knife's edge between casual and romantic, much like some of my other favorite past scents such as Avon Black Suede (1980) and Chanel Pour Monsieur Eau de Toilette Concentrée (1989), which are both sexy without trying to be.

Yohji Homme's cedar and fairly heavy synthetic white musk note interplay also recalls Jõvan Ginseng N.R.G. (1998) even if they are worlds apart in construction otherwise, plus Avon would seemingly take a stab at Yohji Homme with a gourmand/fougère hybrid called Intrigue (2001), replacing some notes with barbershop staples and going both way darker/drier and more clearly defined as masculine, which removes much of the charming subtlety of the idea Kerleo presents here. Yohji is a fine fall/winter/early spring scent, and is quite literally the perfect gourmand for somebody who doesn't -really- want that typical gourmand feel of coming across as baked goods or a fruit basket when wearing it. I'd say this is one of the better blended, sophisticated, and balanced scents not only of it's genre, but of it's decade, standing apart from all the mega-linear "ocean in a bottle" scents that were littering the fragrance counters in the 90's, plus all the "olfactory dessert" scents which arrived in the 2000's. It's not for every person nor every occasion, but it's fascinating blend of bright spice, dry woods and leather wrapped in soft musk will keep you sniffing. So far as I can tell no aesthetic changes were intentionally made by Pescheux when he adjusted Kerleo's original formula, since there's only one entry for this fragrance here, so any version will do. Try a mini-sized tube before you spend no modest sum for a full bottle, which is comically also a tube, just much larger.
20th February, 2018

Vetiver Veritas by Heeley

A burst of grapefruit for about 10 seconds and then it jumps back and hides behind the vetiver and just sneaks a peek once in a while...The mint is also just barely there...what we have is vetiver in all its rooty/dirty/soily glory...i like vetiver, but this ones just so so...smelled a lot of other vetivers that i enjoyed a lot more than this...
20th February, 2018

Ginseng N.R.G. by Jovan

Ginseng N.R.G. is a reinvention of the long-gone but once popular "ginseng" fragrance trope of the 1970's that was the evolution of the "oriental" fougères of the 60's (not to be confused with the oriental fragrance category). Jõvan had a heavy contender in that category with the aptly titled Jõvan Ginseng (1975), but when Quintessence sold to Coty, everything but Jõvan's top titles were dropped. I'm guessing the "N.R.G." in this scent's name stems from the word "energy", and there is a degree of kinetics here, especially in the play between top and heart notes, but this is really nothing like the original, albeit merit-worthy in it's own way. Coty sort of milks Jõvan for revenue from it's biggest classics, as the company helped pioneer mainstream fragrances with musk as the primary theme. It's other big 1990's hit was Jõvan White Musk (1990), which was a clean, simple redressing of the same synthetic musk note forming the basis of the original 70's monster. Ginseng N.R.G., although it's own release, could very well just be another flanker.

The diminutive fragrance only available in a 1oz bottle opens with typical lemon, bergamot, that 90's darling known as fig, and an interesting green tea note. This is likely on purpose as ginseng is often taken orally with green tea, so most folks may associate one as smelling like the other due to that format. From there, we get to the noticeable ginseng root itself, which is surrounded by dry geranium, earthy tonka, jasmine, and carries us into "sheer woods" which to me smells like a synthetic cedar/guaiac/sandlewood blend. The drydown ends in a very voluminous musk note with amber accompaniment that makes this otherwise soft and bright ginseng-themed scent very sensual. It's a rare breed of "clean" and "sexy" that is typically advertised to be contained in a bottle of epically failing body spray, but in this case really do exist in tandem. It's a ginseng and green tea-themed musk, very groovy for the guys out there missing their old bottles of Jade East (1963) or Hai Karate (1967). Honestly, I catch a strong correlation to Avon Tai Winds (1972), but I'm sure that's coincidence because of the stiff tonka and musk.

When I owned this, I used to get oodles of compliments, in fact so many they became unwanted attention. Years ago I worked a retail gig, and during my first Avon phase, I picked this little bottle up for peanuts (and it still sells for peanuts), because of it's holographic label (I was an idiot), and became shocked at how much everyone around me loved it. People would ask me what I was wearing, multiple times a day, every day I wore it, and it became overbearing to the point I stopped. Couple that with the fact that it's particular mix of perky ginseng, tea, bergamot, and rich musk was also a huge headache-inducer for me, and I saw little further use for it, giving my bottle away circa 2005. It's not a terrible scent but feels redundant if you own Jõvan White Musk for Men (1990), or really any 90's fresh/clean citrus/woods/musk ensemble easily found on shelves. For a cheap mostly-inoffensive thrill with lots of go-getting potential, you can do worse, as this is living up to the Jõvan reputation in that regard, but can also do a lot better.
20th February, 2018

Gillette Cool Wave by Gillette Series

Gillette may be more known for their razors and the catchy "The Best a Man Can Get" slogan, but if one ever takes a look at their deodorants, shave creams, and body washes, one will find this popular scent as a selection among them. Yes, this began life as part of an aftershave series called "Gillette Series" and one can expect a similar if slightly above-average longevity from it's castor oil-infused fragrance compounds, but it's really quite respectable, and even good considering. Cool Wave came on the heels of aquatics, ozonics, and "fresh" fougères, so it does give off a bit of a "focus group" kind of a smell where you can tell it was meant to appeal for folks that would probably use one of those, but it has a richer and drier backbone to accompany it's freshness that actually makes it a stand-out from other conventional 1990's company, which is an amazing feet for a commercial after shave.

The opening of Cool Wave is perhaps it's biggest claim to fame: a rain-soaked woods and citrus melange that imparts a dewy vibe in the beginning, not quite oceany like the packaging suggests, but certainly living up to the name. The dry down becomes something a bit richer and drier than that opening, with hints of leather and probably vetiver, not unlike Coty Preferred Stock (1990) but dialed down and not sweet. It's residual musk note comes out in the end and allows this to cling on skin far longer than otherwise. If you're anything like me, you might apply it all over and make day wear out of it, a task at which it satisfactorily performs in warmer months. The product is honestly meant to be a finishing touch to a suite of Cool Wave-scented grooming accessories, so if true sillage and longevity is what you want, you'll have to use all the products in concert. Granted, guys who love older aromatics, chypres, powerhouses, and musks will probably hate this, so I'm not saying it's a must-have piece for any vintage fan, despite it's 1993 launch date.

Cool Wave is a reminder that traditional after shave lotions can be executed in a contemporary manner, and although most of the others in this series have died away, Cool Wave remains relevant as ever. It provides crisp, dynamic, well-designed cleanliness that presaged many of the citrus/woody/musk ozonics that would arrive at the end of the decade. Try saying that about any old aftershave, I bet you can't! Besides, despite everything said, you really can't beat the asking price here, which places the stuff at retail amounts lower than Tag, Axe, Bod and Old Spice aerosols for a 3.4oz/100ml GLASS bottle of something that is easily higher quality and longer lasting, while still -just- being an aftershave! If it isn't the best a man can get (and I doubt anything is), it's at least one of the best values out there.
20th February, 2018

Ambre Nuit by Christian Dior

So many notes to like.

Ambre Nuit is a classy-spicy-boozy-amber scent that features rose as the star note. Definitely getting a nice understated rose in the initial sprays but then into the drydown, the rose becomes the headliner while all the other notes play complementary roles.

Sometimes I feel like it's an unmistakably masculine scent, while other times it leans feminine. It's enjoyable throughout, all the way into the sweet-ambery finish that still clings to that rose note.

Not a beast but it does project nicely and has very good longevity on my skin, lasts all day.
19th February, 2018 (last edited: 20th February, 2018)

Clubman by Pinaud

Stardate 20180219:

I got this cause everyone raves about it and cause I loved Special reserve. This is actually a scrubber. The idea is nice but the composition has a skunky smell that just makes it horrible. Wearing it today and everyone here hates it. Need to take another shower to get this off.
Maybe reformulation killed it. Threw it in the toilet and now everyone is upset cause it is stinking up the house
Avoid this and get the Special reserve instead.
19th February, 2018

Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile by Acqua di Parma

I expected more iris. Unfortunately I get too much citrus from this one. It's not a bad fragrance. It just lacks the floral I wanted. I only get mild iris, orange blossom, and ylang ylang. Not much of a base here either. Feminine, pretty, and perfect for a work environment. This surely wouldn't offend anyone.
19th February, 2018

Satisfaction for Men by Jovan

By looking at the notes tree you would have no indication this was an olfactory disaster waiting to destroy your nose, but unleashed from it's spray comes an attempt to relight the passionate fires that once was Jovan's stock and trade in the 70's, but sadly is no more as a part of the Coty umbrella of companies. Coty still operates Jovan like it's founders Barry Shipp and Bernie Mitchell, by making everything the company produces about getting laid, but in 21st century mainstream culture this no longer yields respectable results since we've been decades since mass-market fragrances stopped being obviously virile, mostly because "clean" and "fresh" still rule the roost with an iron fist. So too have most of the ingredients that used to allow for such virility been restricted, or become too expensive to use outside niche houses (hello oakmoss and sandalwood), making any earnest attempt at sensuality limited to gourmand and oriental concoctions, which this is not. Jovan Satisfaction for Men brings us a fairly textbook fougère but "sexed up" in ways that actually deliver nausea-inducing results. It's quite a shame really as I really wanted to like a modern original non-flanking effort from this house since I find all their down-to-business sex juice from the 70's charming in it's lack of pretense.

Satisfaction abuses a grapefruit opening like many masculines from the napalm decade of the 2000's, but tries to soften the blow to your nose with basil and quince, which in part do just that, however not without adding a weird medicinal quality because of the basil. The heart of cardamom, rosemary, and cedarwood furthers this "Doc Holiday's Cure-All" sort of medicinal tonic feel, and the nauseating quality of citrus and what are essentially food herbs bring about a recollection of tomato bisque which is not something you want to think of when wearing a supposedly sensual fragrance. The cedar would have been better if it was sandalwood, because then a smoother, softer transition to the base would result, but since that would be too expensive, we instead get a strange hamster cage cedar chip note that just furthers the upchuck factor until the amber, tonka, and labdanum take over. The base does the best job it can warming and smoothing out the helacious mess that is the top and heart, but there is just too much conflict with dry culinary herbs, the weapons-grade grapefruit note stolen from a token Y2K ozonic, and the cedar which by itself isn't at fault, but when combined with the rest smells like your pet guinea pig was trying to make an aperitif in his cage while you were sleeping. Heavy citrus, herbs, spice, and sharp woods, performing a struggle-snuggle on a bed of fougère base notes is what you get here folks.

There's just such cacophony here it's really hard to believe this left the lab as a finished product, and carrying the Jovan name at that. Granted, later products have really gone into more exploratory directions with unisex single note selections and new flankers to classic lines, so it's not like Coty was out to destroy the reputation of this shaggin' wagon of a brand, since the original musk STILL sells hand-over-foot besides being more out-dated than a Nehru jacket and platforms, so we can let this slide. The feminine version of this is a completely different story, and although a bit dated for it's original 2010 release, sat respectably alongside other older Jovan feminines. There were a few other fragrances both designer and drugstore that also tried this fusion of herbs, woods, and citrus with a warm afterglow, but they were successful unless this, which quite literally smells like the upchuck I keep eluding to, at least on my skin. I had to scrub this immediately and my bottle sat in the cabinet, with maybe 1 or 2 more attempted wearings before it was given away. I don't typically go at length to review things I don't like, because recalling the experience takes me to a bad place in my mind, but if nothing else, this review serves as a "turn back before it's too late" for somebody that buys this banking on Jovan's otherwise cheeky but effective reputation for romantic drugstore fragrance. This one is definitely a case of Jovan Dissatisfaction.
19th February, 2018

Égoïste / L'Égoïste by Chanel

Égoïste, like most Chanel masculines, is a watershed fragrance among hobbyists and collectors, while just a damned good scent for everyone else, with a lot of history leading up to it's creation. Chanel's own personal historians claim it is a masculine take on the venerable Bois de Iles (1926), which itself was the first notable woodsy perfume for women and second collaboration between Coco Chanel herself and perfumer Ernest Beaux. Just as Bois de Iles had to follow up the epic Chanel No. 5 (1921), Égoïste had to follow up it's own creator's high precedent too, since it was made by Jacques Polge, a perfumer who made the 2nd Chanel masculine Antaeus (1981), and would be the house perfumer for the designer well into the next century. Times had changed greatly since the release of Antaeus, and it's mossy, virile, and assertively masculine style were out to the pastures by the end of the 1980's, which is something Chanel was likely to be acutely aware of when development began on this in 1987 under a different name: Bois Noir. Most folks who follow Égoïste closely enough will sort this out in an evening, but it's impossible to review this without touching on the importance of the now-unicorn-status prototype which was the test bed for this. Bois Noir was sold only domestically in France at first upon launch in 1987, then rolled out a year later to the US as a limited-edition to presumably also test it's marketability to a larger western market, then retooled after feedback was given into what became Égoïste. May I also mention that this name was given only because Chanel thought "Bois Noir" sounded too boring for the male market? Otherwise, it may have just been reformulated and kept the name.

Some will say Bois Noir was a truer representation of a male equivalent to Bois de Iles, the superior version of Égoïste that should have never been changed, and others will say it was simply a heavier but ultimately less exciting prototype that is over-hyped due to it's rarity and expense in the second-hand market, but both arguments are the result of the eternal "haves and have nots" conflict found in any hobby, and honestly neither answer is wrong depending on one's own experience whether that includes owning/sampling a bottle of Bois Noir or not. Égoïste is either a refinement or an alteration of Bois Noir depending on how you feel, but regardless, it is still a male interpretation of Bois de Iles all the same, which was the original intent. The scent opens with tangerine and rosewood, which don't stick around long because the focus here is sandalwood. Like many sandalwood-themed masculines, the ingredients surrounding the primary note are used to compliment, sustain, and project it out more, and such is the case here: the sandalwood appears within minutes and is supported by coriander, rose, and held in place by dry vanilla and ambrette seed. It's one of the few masculines that has a dry vanilla that serves only to preserve warmth, and not ensconce the base in fatty sweetness -which is good in the right context mind you- but such richness wouldn't be balanced here so thankfully it was left out. Égoïste sort of presaged a movement of clean, dry orientals throughout the 90's that ran alongside the aquatics, ozonics, and "fresh" fougères of the day, but with the years of research and testing going into this, it's unsurprising.

Égoïste helped ease the transition from the old guard of aromatic fougères, oakmoss powerhouses, heavy leather/tobacco chypres, orientals, and musks that plumed off shirt collars in the 70's and 80's, by being both friendly to guys endeared to them as well as younger fellas finding this first. Égoïste was the perfect sequel to Polge's own Antaeus, which would by 1990 seem too forceful to those younger folks who enjoyed Cool Water (1988) and Eternity for men (1989). Even if Bois Noir technically preceded them both, it was a market experiment and Égoïste was the final product of that experiment, so Chanel if nothing else could be credited with having foresight other houses did not, as some were still pumping out powerhouses doomed to obscurity into the 90's. It's bright, clean, dry, and fireplace-warm presentation of sandalwood smells just as appropriate in the 21st century as it did the late 20th, and much like Chanel Pour Monsieur (1955), will always be a classy timeless alternative to the "hip and now" for guys who want to smell composed without compromise. It's not entirely without sensuality, but I'm thinking more of a ballroom atmosphere than a night club with this one, even though I'm sure it ended up in them when initially released due to the insane popularity resulting from what was then Chanel's biggest commercial push since No. 5. I see it as having one's cake and eating it too: it's inoffensive enough for any environment save maybe a sweltering summer day, but has more personality and charm than anything else in the market that could also be described as inoffensive. It's a warm hug from a dear friend, bottled and brought to you by Chanel. Enjoy.
19th February, 2018

A*Men Pure Wood by Thierry Mugler

Thumbs up for the smell but I am always surprised at how average the performance is of Pure Wood. It doesn't match up with other heavy hitters in the A*Men lineup in regards to projection and longevity.

Moving on to the smell, it's actually the most accessible and easy to wear A*Men scent for me. This could be an everyday scent in cooler months, it's that agreeable and nice. I get plenty of the familiar coffee and vanilla in the original A*Men but there's not as much tar note, if any. It's replaced by a pleasant, if not generic woody accord that's just fine by me because it's mixes with the other notes so well.

This is right up there with Pure Malt as a favorite of the line but the lack of performance keeps Pure Wood from being the leader of the group.
19th February, 2018
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