Perfume Reviews

Latest Perfume Reviews

Habit Rouge Eau de Parfum by Guerlain

Vintage Habit Rouge EDT (luxurious, regal, intellectual) has been for long my holy grail, my olfactory bliss, my ideal jump back in the nineteenth century, the sublimation of my baroque missed dream. This EDP (new) version is a muskier and less complex "format" of an historical unquestionable masterpiece, a less decadent and more properly oriental (equally lasting on my skin) formula which could be a musky support for the original and non-perfectible EDT. I own an old "parisian" bottle of the original "by red leather stuff wrapped" vintage oudish EDP which I rarely wear and which I find sometimes cloying and ending to betray the original decadent-palatin-aristocratic Habit Rouge's spirit. The new EDP-formula is surely closer to the "original EDT" but surely less structured and classy. I'm waiting to purchase L'Extrait which is told to be an "holy" complement for the classic EDP. I still recommend the EDT or the venerable EDC or Habit Rouge Dry.
13th February, 2016

Dans Tes Bras by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

I admit that I was rooting for Dans Tes Bras to be a winner even before I’d smelled it, because it’s considered the edgiest entry in a brand that focuses on giving us the most super rich, but straight-forward versions of single notes or styles. I kind of like the idea of the quirky one in the bunch being a soul match for me. I had smelled it briefly on a trip to Brussels and in a flurry of twenty other fragrances all competing for nose space, its pale, violet-tinged reticence intrigued me. But when I ordered a sample to investigate further, I discovered certain problems with it.

First of all, the weirdness of the fragrance – which comes from the interplay of the loudly synthetic elements (cashmeran, a woody-ambery sandalwood amplifier like ebanol or javanol) and natural-smelling green and floral elements (violets, heliotrope, I think mint or something aqueous) – does not go nearly far enough to catch my attention. It's weird, but not weird enough.

I’ve been playing around a lot lately with M/Mink, and although I’m not sure I like it enough to buy it, I find that the line between industrial and natural in that scent constantly shifts around, so all my attention is bound up in trying to unwrap the elements from each other. Dans Tes Bras, in comparison, has a little oddness to it, yes, but doesn't carry it forward in any compelling way. Once you’ve identified the elements at work to produce that salty, green, musky tinge it carries, the fragrance has nothing left to show you. It doesn’t help that it becomes ever more synthetic in feel as the day wears on, developing a soapy, shrill accent that runs perilously close to Windex or windscreen wiper fluid.

Now, I don’t mind references to industrial or bathroom products if they’re paired to really natural, earthy notes in a conscious effort to ground them – the bleach and toner ink played against dry patchouli and honey in M/Mink, for example. In Dans Tes Bras, though, the functional product notes are too unadorned, and I don’t find it pleasant to catch whiffs of Windex as I’m moving around the house. As a busy mum whose fragrances often encounter cruel treatment at the hands of washing up liquid, hand-soap, and latex gloves, I’d rather not cultivate that aura deliberately.

The clincher in the deal, though, was Dans Tes Bras’ eventual resemblance to Dries Van Noten, in particular that nutty, sawdusty sandalwood in combination with the “poured concrete” fuzziness of cashmeran. Dans Tes Bras is saltier and more floral, and Dries Van Noten more vanillic, milky, but ultimately they share that same cashmere-blanket level of blandness that I just cannot appreciate. My apathy comes partly from the fact that it all melds into one pale mass, with nothing differentiating one note from another, other than an abstract impression of something salty, like licking minerals off a sunny rock. In the end, it smells pleasant but banal, like the scent of eye drops or miscellar water squirted onto a cotton wool ball.

To sum up for you lazy bastards who didn’t make through all of that (TL:DR), Dans Tes Bras is not weird enough to be interesting, and not beautiful enough to lust after for beauty’s sake.
13th February, 2016

Ambre Fétiche by Annick Goutal

I like Ambre Fetiche, but I have to admit that the opening smells more like a byproduct of the petroleum industry than a perfume. Something plasticky and greasy in the top notes suggests Vaseline to me, or perhaps pleather. I don’t find this unpleasant, merely a little unsettling, especially when mixed with the sickly, biscuity undertone of the amber underneath.

The mental image: a prostitute at the Bunny Ranch, Nevada, at 2:30 in the afternoon, a big dollop of lubricant making a snail’s trail down the inside of her left thigh while a man in Stetsons huffs and puffs on top of her. The man's breath smells like biscuit crumbs - he hasn't washed his teeth. Bored, she turns her head to admire her new white pleather knee-highs, up around her ears now and close enough for inspection. Squeak-squeak goes the pleather with every thrust.

Biscuits, syrup, Vaseline, pleather. Stale cigarette smoke mingling with the powerfully sweet Victoria’s Secret Amber Romance body lotion she applied that morning.

The texture of the perfume is both dry-harsh and syrupy-sweet, resulting in an interesting pulling apart motion in the fabric, like honey rubbed against the grain of a plank of wood. The syrupy white amber is thickly poured, but clashes against the parched powder of benzoin. The resin sticks in my craw and the syrup cloys. It’s too intense, this feeling. The only other perfume that mimics this effect is Byredo’s 1996.

The discordant harmony of the birch tar, the amber, and the iris produces something of a similar push-pull feeling within me: I like it, and then I like it not. Each time I wear this fragrance, it’s like plucking out petals and never knowing whether you’re going to end up. Sometimes, I find the thought of the ride quite exciting. Sometimes, the thought of it exhausts me. Either way, like the Bunny Girl's client, it always lasts way longer than I want it to.
13th February, 2016
Advertisement — Reviews continue below

Missoni (2006 version) by Missoni

If the chocolate-oranges sold around Christmas were issued without sugar you would have a good handle on Missoni. I rarely enjoy gourmand scents to this extent but this is quite nice. If you combined Grand Marnier with a dark chocolate liqueur it would smell surprisingly close.
13th February, 2016

Life's a Bed of Roses by Lulu Guinness

This is very similar to the rosy heart of Tom Ford's Cafe Rose; very suedey-velvety magenta-tinged roses. The top notes barely exist - I think they are genius abstractions used to complement the different facets of the roses used (the cool violet pokes through a bit). The heliotrope adds to the body with a little bit of powder and a fragrance like a sweetless vanilla. The ingredients used remind me a bit of both Halston Couture and l'Arte di Gucci. Lovely stuff.
13th February, 2016

Aperçu (new) by Houbigant

This smells like a lighter-bodied version of Catalyst by Halston, which means I love it. The star players are oakmoss (obviously), sandalwood, jasmine, and tuberose. It's like a chypre originally released in 1940 but re-envisioned in 1990 (the smell and texture of the ingredients). Super enjoyable stuff.
13th February, 2016

Ligea "La Sirena" by Carthusia

This is an easy scent to grow tired of because it really doesn't change much, but, having said that, I really like this. I had never been wild about the smell of oranges until I developed a hobby in perfumery and found that orange just plain smells great on me. So what we have here is a spiky, semi-resinous orange scent with no tricks up its sleeve. Very fresh but also quite dark. Nothing to sing about but a very solid release if opoponax doesn't bother you. It can be polarizing, but I really enjoy that soft, smoky tinge.
13th February, 2016

Trussardi Inside Woman by Trussardi

In line with scents like Popy Moreni, Belle en Rykiel, and Rochas Man, we see here a powdery-yet-creamy vanillic coffee scent. It smells excellent but lacks some of the nuances of the others. Popy has a terrific geranium note like Yohji Homme, Belle en Rykiel features berries and incense, and really enriches the heart stage, and the Rochas edition has that swell little dash of lavender. Trussardi Inside just smells like the others minus the top notes, meaning here that is very straightforward and I enjoy it immensely. Heliotrope and coffee together? If you can make a fragrance featuring the two which I do not enjoy I would be positively shocked. So, in summary, there are similar scents with more nuance but this juice is excellent.
13th February, 2016

Eau de Patou (original) by Jean Patou

I wrote a concise and pleasant review of Eau de Patou and, as I hit submit and got up to grab a beer, missed the part where the website went offline and my writing was obliterated. Let's hope I can recapture the magic.

THIS is how you do citrus. The opening is a blast of sparkling-fresh citrus balanced out with a crisp, dry bed of oakmoss and initially I am reminded of the lovely Diorella. A hint of pepper balances out the white floral heart in a 50's sort of way and a handsome dose of civet seals the deal. Fans of Eau de Rochas Homme will recognize this body as being entirely similar but with the birch tar substituted for the moss, and with a more lasting base. This is not a particularly feminine fragrance. There is a whiff of something white and clean like jasmine or honeysuckle, but this is mostly just citrus and moss, and it is Good. Obviously, being a citrus-based scent, the first half hour is the most fun, but I can't wait to wear this out this Summer and see how it evolves.
13th February, 2016
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom

Al Lolo Al Maknoun by Abdul Samad Al Qurashi

The opening is wood-based, a wood that initially reminds me of an unusual wet oak and then takes on a rosewood-like turn; all this is enhanced by a fairly soft and restrained musky undertone.

The drydown brings out a rose note that is not exactly bright, but less deep or dark than the classic Damascene varieties tend to be. There is a subduedly pleasant sweetness to it that remains present until the end, with a gentle spice note added in the base.

I get soft sillage and moderate longevity, and throughout it remains very close to my skin and remains a touch lacking the full exuberance of colours this house is known for. Nonetheless, I get a splendid ten hours of longevity.

A good office-worthy autumnal creation, maybe less restrained on others than on me, made of high quality ingredients. 3/5
13th February, 2016

Bal à Versailles by Jean Desprez

Lovely, sweet rose and civet scent with a superbly done sandal and vanilla finish featuring just a hint of leather. I find it very simple but endlessly enjoyable.
13th February, 2016

Champs-Elysées by Guerlain

Hibiscus, almond powder, and a drop of anise top off a largely rose and not-quite tuberose(?) floral. Kind of prim, and competently made, but I'm not quite sold. The peach is a nice touch, though.
13th February, 2016
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom

Tawasul Blend by Abdul Samad Al Qurashi

The opening combines a note of wood with moist, soft white pepper, but soon develops a floral drydown, characterised predominantly by jasmine.

Further down the track a lively light amber combines with a sweetish raisinous impression of dried peaches that in the base is paired with a tonka; the latter retains a mild and restrained sweetish undertone without ever being strong or cloying.

I get soft sillage, adequate projection and seven hours of longevity on my skin.

The quality of the ingredients is very good, and there is a restrained elegance to this composition that is miles away from being a heavy or cloying oriental scent; on me it is quite wearable to the office on a cool spring day. 3/5
13th February, 2016
Advertisement — Reviews continue below

Magnifico I: Mirto Imperiale by I Profumi di Firenze

I Profumi di Firenze Magnifico 1 Mirto Imperiale is (under my nose) a profoundly citric/spicy fizzy accord of aromatic/oily myrtle, abrasive spices, struggling sandalwood and melancholic lily of the valley. I catch vague/rare ozonic molecules as well. The first approach is kind of minty (mint, myrtle), herbal, sporty/gym-type, freshly soapy, salty/virile, orangy/lemony and dynamic, something not so distant (in this opening phase) from a spicy/sporty/oceanic scent like Heaven Chopard and sharing points of connection with classic aromatic fougere a la Trussardi Action Uomo. I get soon a powerful accord of sweet (intense) spices and neroli, with something vaguely acid, peppery and kind of gummy (or better, dense by a combination of aromatic oils, oakmoss and resins. Hints of galbanum?). Magnifico 1 on the other hand hides (and quickly unveils) a more herbal-hesperidic classically rosey soul with rooty/piquant and sharply floral nuances. Dry down is restrained, less intense (less lemony/spicy/floral), more mossy/ambery, woody, powdery and rooty/peppery (but with hints of soapiness and muskiness). An hyper virile (longly) pungent/obsessive accord vaguely ordinary/bright in its "front side" but secretly warm and sombre in its almost harsh (classically/warmly harsh) woody-aromatic dry down. The final wake is anyway a sort of accomplished mélange, it is smoother, more tamed, civilized, still powerful/aromatic but well "fixed", more harmonious and "neutral". I get anyway something woody-soapy, mossy, sticky/floral and still orangy not entirely catching my taste (and vaguely conjuring me scents like Dior Eau Sauvage Extreme New and Bvlgari Aqua Amara but also Legno Amaro from I Profumi di Firenze). An appreciable juice which is not anyway wholly in my wheelhouse. A quite sensual fragrance for a boisterously masculine personality.
12th February, 2016

Odalisque by Nicolaï

This is grey territory for sure. Odalisque's citrus opening reigns for about a moment and a half until it parts and from the center a leathery musk emerges. There remains a whisper of jasmine and a touch of sea spray over the remaining bed of oakmoss, lily of the valley, and an ocean of grey musk. I feel that this is one of those chemical attraction sort of scents; though I remain unmoved there are many who sing its praises, as there are equally many who lament its existence. One of the more difficult scents to describe with just words. A cliff overlooking the sea just before it rains.
12th February, 2016

Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche

What makes a "barbershop" scent? Lavender and oakmoss? So this should be the archetypal barbershop fragrance. It's true it does have that old-fashioned, soapy feel, but the complexity of the other ingredients underneath the big 2 make me shy away from that label. And the leather adds a smoothness and richness. It's a green, herby, fresh, soapy experience, but with a sort of spicy, complicated undercurrent that makes it more interesting than you'd think and, well, really sexy.
I've read a number of reviews talking about gay/straight, male/female, particularly with reference to Drakkar Noir. To be honest I don't get that. But then again I'm crossing the "boundaries" of mens /women's scents more and more and I care less and less about what people think about it. Yes of course men would wear this, but I can imagine a cool woman wearing this too.
I was a teenager in the 80s, but weirdly I missed Drakkar Noir then, I really don't know how. So I can't comment on how it's changed or not. I'd describe sillage and longevity now as moderate. It's a great all-rounder: I've been wearing it to the office recently, but I would also wear it on an evening. If it is weaker now, who cares, it's so inexpensive just spray more and more often. I love it.
February 2016
12th February, 2016

Rykiel Rose by Sonia Rykiel

Should I be getting more peony than rose? The understudy is showing up our main actor. The amber-wood audience watches in silence as stagehands Vague-spice and Something-fruit try to keep the show running.
12th February, 2016

Rêve en Cuir by Indult

Herbal, mossy, spicy, leathery, floral, raunchy, yummy, etc. These were just some of the descriptives that went through my mind as I tracked the scent's development.

That a seemingly weightless composition is able to convey such a multitude of sensory experience over a short span of time is simply remarkable. A less generous critic however might be tempted to call it an incomplete or unresolved fragrance, lacking a clear direction. What a killjoy, huh?

REVE EN CUIR. Honestly I don't find it all that leathery, at least not in relation to the various forms of leather I am accustomed to. But in the absence of a prominent accord, many simply take their cues from a fragrance's name. It says 'cuir' so it must smell like some kind of leather, right? Run it through a blind test and we could very well get a completely different set of reviews.

Leather or no leather, REVE EN CUIR is a wonderfully sensual yet elegant scent to grace one's skin. Projection is tastefully modest while tenacity is more than adequate for most. Price tag is...irrelevant.

Is it that obvious I'm smitten? It's definitely one of Kurkdjian's best work, demonstrating his forte in melding the romanticism of the classical with the clean lines of modern aesthetics. If Derby and Mitsouko were to have a love child, this would be it.

C'est magnifique!
12th February, 2016
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom

Very Sexy Attraction for Men by Victoria's Secret

The opening is fresh and summery, combining and orange aroma with a vetiver core, fresh but not ultra-bright, yet pleasant.

The drydown brings in mainly cinnamon, and it works quite well, providing the fresher start a richer and more substantial follow-up.

The sillage is moderate, the projection good and the longevity around seven hours.

Pleasant then, only a bit too overtly synthetic to make is truly convincing or special. 2.75/5.
12th February, 2016

Lune de Givre by Cloon Keen Atelier

This isn't all that similar to Heeley's Iris de Nuit but admirers of one will be likely to enjoy the other. There's a similar aloof beauty with a hint of warmth underneath. Lune is less floral, with angelica and galbanum accompanying the iris in place of the violet of the Heeley. It also has one of the best names in perfumery and (shallow of me) a very cool box. Very nicely done.
12th February, 2016

Dunhill Edition by Dunhill

Classy. Big nutmeg and clove, some cinnamon and dry cedar. Good longevity. I keep the bottle next to my Cacharel pH and Halston Catalyst. A keeper, all iterations. 5/5.

11th February, 2016

L'Inspiratrice by Divine

Purchased a sample of this for my Queen.
It invites me to nuzzle up.
She has luxuriated, in a High Quality Bubble bath, sipping Cognac, a Peony flavoured candle flickering. A light brush of Patchouli reminds me that she is a Goddess.
Yummy!!
11th February, 2016

Knize Ten by Knize

Quite frankly, when I first tried this, I thought it was a new niche, artisan thing, so unique it was.It had been handed to me in an unlabeled vial,by an acquaintance who asked" What do you think of this?"
Closest description to my reaction was much the same as Montagne.
This stuff develops into "The Bomb"
1924? It is Timeless!
A draw of this sits beside my Cuir de Russie. I use it sparingly as it is Uber M.
Unlike the Chanel, with which I can wear daily, this suits me well when I'm tuxedo-ed.
11th February, 2016

Endymion by Penhaligon's

Endymion. I was hoping for something mythical, something that could take me into the clouds of a dreamy story.
Same dollop of millennium Leather "Boil in a Bag" generic nastiness that Demachy dropped onto the top of Eau Sauvage "Cuir?" Scrubber extraordinaire!!
11th February, 2016
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom

Beckham Signature for Him by Beckham

A citrus opening with orange, a melon impression, and a slightly ozonic undertone. A juniper drydown with whiffs of a bright but restrained bergamot consolidate the impression of a mix of fresh and summery heart notes, but it lacks some of the refreshing invigoration that citrus-based scent usually provide so well.

in the base a white musky-ambery undertone develops - pleasant and a bit dull.

The perfomance is very good, with moderate sillage, good projection and an impressive ten hours of longevity on my skin - more than what citrus scents and celebrity fragrances usually offer.

In summary a nice summary composition, a bit too synthetic and restrained at timebut well-blended. 2.75/5.
11th February, 2016
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom

Sirr Al Hobb by Ajmal

The opening is a mix of a medium-rose and and a pleasant ylang-ylang that work together well. In the drydown I get an additional iris impression that gradually grows a bit stronger with time. For the last hours the iris becomes more powdery, but it is not a strong powderiness, and it is never stuffy or old fashioned.

Whilst it is a bit disappointing as far as sillage and projection are concerned - both are poor, in all its skin-close discreetness its longevity is a truly impressive nine hours.

A lovely, albeit exceedingly discreet, slightly sweet flowery scent, whose ingredients are of a very high quality. Weak, but very pleasant and overall - just a positive score on the basis of quality and longevity. 3/5.
11th February, 2016

True Love by Elizabeth Arden

True Love is a misnomer here; it should be called True Like. This is a simple and comfortable woody-floral frag which screams of 90's ingredients. I admit that if this were to be remade with niche-level components it would probably be a real hit. As it stands, True Love is just a pretty good iris-jasmine and I don't fault it for that. It smells cool and relaxed.
11th February, 2016

White Jasmine by Zara

I won't lie, I was expecting some level of banality at work but I am enjoying this fresh little number. 50% clean, semi-sweet jasmine, 30% lily, 10% bamboo wood, and the remaining 10 something sparkling and tangy; not quite aldehyde, but more like green apple or cardamom. I could be wrong. There also seems to be a hint of sea spray, some salty counter to the floral sweetness. This is an enjoyable jasmine, something clean to wear after a shower. Instantly likable.
11th February, 2016

Cuba Jungle Snake by Cuba Paris

This does not smell like a snake! It's actually just a mild, musky tuberose scent. It is not impressive. It does not disappoint. It simply exists.
11th February, 2016

Lady Stetson by Stetson

Out of a batch of many samples I had pushed this one to near last because I'd seen it on the cheap so often that a part of me thought it couldn't be that good. I can't say I was expecting a peachy oakmoss scent with a standard-issue 80's floral heart. This is like a super-light (comparatively) version of Norell - in its vintage version still stronger than many modern florals, and almost oily and leathery enough by today's standards to pass as a masculine. In short, I like Lady Stetson way more than I had expected to.
11th February, 2016
Advertisement