Perfume Reviews

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Cologne Indélébile by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Frederic Malle scents are really a mystery for me. Some smell nice, some smell cheap, some smell just as designer in a cheeky sleek-chic disguise. Cologne Indélébile falls halfway the last two categories for me – it smells a bit cheap, and it smells like something nearly any low-mid level cosmetics brand could make. Or probably has already made. Following the “eau de cologne” trend which seemed arising among niche brands in the past years – ah, the luxurious realm of creative freedom and pure artistry with no boundaries gifting us with long-awaited ripoffs of drugstore classics – Cologne Indélébile is, well, a very classic, very flat neroli-musk fresh scent with a delicate “laundry” feel of lavender and orange blossoms and an odd sort of nondescript aldehydic-woody base.The “grey” musk notes are rather strong, as soon as the zestier and rather pleasant citrus-neroli head notes tame down, that’s pretty much what you remain with. Sort of a clean, gentle, pleasantly dusty blossoms-infused musky drydown reminding me of Kurkdjian’s style, just tamer and drier. Just to be clear, Cologne Indélébile smells nice, but... I don’t know. I just really don’t see the point of paying so much for an astonishingly dull and uninspired sort of muskier take on 4711, or any (I mean it - any) other clean neroli-musk “eau de cologne” with no added value or higher quality - and surely no “niche” facet whatsoever, excluding the ridicolusly overpriced tag. It’s even wryly short-lasting. But who am I to judge - if it worked for Tom Ford, why shouldn’t it work for Fréderic too.

01st December, 2015
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Rose of No Man's Land by Byredo

I think this is one of the nicest 'roses' that a man can buy or smell of. POAL is gorgeous but quite feminine imo.

This rose is almost etiolated, but projects in a refined understated way -- more like rosewater than rosejam.

The peppers and amber are likewise enhancing like a whisper.

A lovely winter fragrance for men and the best thing from Byredo in a long time.
01st December, 2015

De Profundis by Serge Lutens

From the depths, I have cried out to you, O Lord!

Despite the chilling despair of Psalm 130 from which the title De Profundis (“From the Depths”) was taken, and the gloomy death poem that Oncle Serge sent out with it, there is nothing melancholic or funereal about De Profundis the perfume. That’s the problem with back-story in perfume – one association from the perfumer and our mind rushes to meet it, so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If Oncle Serge hadn’t mentioned death, nobody would be talking about this perfume using words such as death, sadness, melancholy, or funerals. But he did, and they do…

Actually, De Profundis is a rather classical piece of work, its chilly, wet green floral opening recalling in particular the muguet dampness of vintage Diorissimo and the hyacinth dewiness of Chamade. The opening notes are vivid and naturalistic – they made me gasp! You get the impression of a clump of flowers being ripped from the earth and being held up to your nose to inhale them, dripping wet roots, crushed stalks, stamens, clinging earth, dewy petals and all.

What flowers? Hard to tell, only that there is a wet, green, stemmy feel to them all – I sense the bitterness of crushed dandelion stalks, tulip bulbs, lily of the valley (the sweet, slightly soapy “white” scent of the flowers), sharp hyacinth, and later on, the fruity sweetness of violet petals. I don't know what chrysanthemums smell like, but perhaps they smell like a mixture of all these flowers. I find it to be a joyful, cheerful opening – akin to spring flowers pushing their way through the frozen earth and snow and into the sun.

Yes, the opening is great – wet, green, a bit wild, and definitely earthy. I am not really into purely floral fragrances, but I have to admit that more often than not it is the vivid, naturalistic florals that move me almost to tears – De Profundis achieved this, as did Ostara, En Passant, Sa Majeste La Rose, and Carnal Flower. There is something about the purity of the flowers in these perfumes - I get the same rush of emotion smelling them as I do smelling the flowers in nature. It is perhaps a long-buried spiritual drive within me, something that says, look here, look what nature created for you – look, smell! These perfumes move me because they replicate a tiny piece of that awe I get from nature and capture it in a bottle.

Ah, there I go, despite myself, talking about God and nature, etc., etc. Oncle Serge’s marketing for De Profundis must have worked on me after all.

Anyway, after a thrilling opening, De Profundis starts to deflate under the weight of its own gorgeousness. Floral notes of such dewy, crystalline beauty are very hard to keep aloft – they wilt as quickly as the real flowers do. Even as you are enjoying the savage, wet greenery of the start, the perfume starts to desiccate and shrink back onto itself, like the feet of the Wicked Witch of the East shriveling under the house that Dorothy dropped on her. An ocean of white musk rises to take the burden of the florals on its shoulders, and one hour in, only hot breathing on your white-musked-up skin will revive the ghost of the stupendous green flowers you were smelling before.

It’s such a shame! The same thing happens with Ostara, but that has a much better, creamier dry down that makes the experience more satisfying from beginning to end.

Nevermind. We live in an era where perfumers have to reformulate and take short cuts, and I suspect that this is the sort of gutting that has happened to De Profundis. I don’t mind re-spraying to get that initial burst of beauty, because it really is an opening that deserves to be relived over and over again.

To me, the opening of De Profundis spells out a message of hope – that alive things may emerge from the depths (“De Profundis”) of the black, cold earth after a long, hard winter. That life may begin again.

Despite myself, then, I am making the connection to Psalm 130. Of course, De Profundis is also the name of the letter that Oscar Wilde wrote in an agony of despair and rage to his former lover, Lord Alfred Douglas (“Bosie”), while in prison on charges of moral indecency (Lord Alfred Douglas being the same person who put him there). Tired and nervous from two years in jail under the ever-watchful eyes of cruel guards, Wilde wrote this letter page by page a month before his release, handing each page off at the end of the day because he wasn’t allowed to have books or papers with him in his room.

His letter is full of anger, hatred, and blame (for both himself and Bosie) but ultimately it seeks to lay out the terms for forgiveness. Just like Psalm 130, where the supplicant begs for God’s mercy to lift him out of the depths of his misery, so too is Wilde’s letter a plea to be allowed emerge once again into the light. I like to think that Wilde was able, one day, just outside his barred window, to smell the spring flowers pushing through scads of icy earth, and that he too sensed that there was hope for new life to crawl out of the depths.
01st December, 2015
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Turtle Vetiver Front by LesNez

I can't smell the turtle in here. Vetiver, yes but turtle? Nada. Earlier reviews were indeed spot on - I get the same vetiver experience: raw, rooty-earthy and smoky-woodsy in the beginning but swiftly transitioning to a plush and somewhat creamy vetiver note.

Performance-wise it is acceptably average.

Ultimately TURTLE VETIVER FRONT is a gender-neutral fuss-free vetiver-centric scent, one that is easy to enjoy. And I did. But where's the turtle? Perhaps it lurks in the damp faintly musty algae-like note somewhere in the drydown.
01st December, 2015

Sandalwood by Yardley

What an interesting trick! The very opening of this Sandalwood is a mish-mash of citrus and spice but the progression moves very fast. Like actors taking places on a stage or a marching band spelling out letters with lines of students, the whole body quickly clicks into place and Voila! It's picture-perfect sandalwood - powdery, dry, woody, yet somehow a little creamy at the same time. At this point the citruses are so far receded into the composition as to be nearly unrecognizable, and the smooth amber-cinnamon-nutmeg team-up smells just like an isolated accord from the base of Bogner's beautiful Deep Forest. Projection is small and close as far as I can tell, and, being a Yardley release, the longevity is less than outstanding, but this is doubtless one of the best sandalwood recreations I've come across, and I would endorse it in a heartbeat if it wasn't all but extinct on the market.

Simply excellent stuff.
01st December, 2015

Aviation Club by Monsillage

The olfactory dimension of chaos. Monsillage Aviation Club opens by soon "problematically" with a "nondescript" (I mean ruffly) blast of soapy/resinous aromachemicals, mellow fruity tobacco, fizzy citrus, herbal/spicy-herbal notes (kind of citrus grove/green citrus peels-like), piquant spices and patchouli. As soon as the citric/herbal/juicy tartness slightly recedes it seems to vaguely get a sort of "Guerlain Heritage-like" bergamot/vanilla/patchouli/spices combo but overall in a wilder, less refined, more pungent, fruity and synthetic way. Anyway, along the journey (as well as the note of leather starts emerging from the "backstage") is actually La Martina Cuero the juice that most of all takes rising on mind with its fresh/herbal leather-patchouli accord (Michael Kors for men jumps partially on mind as well for several of its shades). I'm quite sure that at least one of the first two previous juices has been a source of inspiration for the Aviation Club's inception. What exactly this "metallic accord" is made of is not properly given to know, I just get citrus and probably red berries/fruits (raspberries, pomegranates or "stuffs like those) providing a quite juicy/tart kind of citric/berrish fruitiness all around. Honestly I don't get a specific floral pattern despite it seems effectively to detect a floral presence in the generally "collapsed" destructured juicy/seasoned/leathery amalgam (may be lily of the valley, rose and jasmine). I've honestly tried in every possible way to detect a coffee's presence but frankly I don't catch this note at all (may be a minimal touch of bitter licorice feel as undertone, counteracting the juicy/mellow general sweetness, could be provided by the note of coffee). Probably hints of frankincense are minimally included in the blend. Dry down is still mastered by this Heritage-like (a disnatured Heritage in basketball shoes, green fluorescent hairs and Superman t-shirt) central accord (put finally upside down by a general incoherent lack of balance) which is basically less refined/classy (far, far less), more fruity, less structured, tobacco-veined and basically mastered by this artificial fruits/leather intense twist. A courageous experiment which turns finally out as a sort of messy hybrid hardly due to be located in a specific olfactory dimension.
30th November, 2015
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Opus Kore by Vilhelm Parfumerie

One of the loveliest, crispiest floral citruses out there. A gentle hint of 'berries' midway followed by a subtle amber and woody finish [can't detect Sandalwood per se].

I think this can be worn by a man quite easily.
30th November, 2015
Kaern Show all reviews
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Blomma Cult by Room 1015

A peek into the future? The opening is crazy, like vanillin plus some turbo charged slug of aldehydes -- it's amazing.

The drydown, when it eventually appears, is like a whining, hissing Dior Homme with some added florals.

Parts of this fragrance feel like it's 'fizzing' and has been plugged into the mains.

Worth trying, at the very least.
30th November, 2015
Kaern Show all reviews
United Kingdom

La Haine by Folie à Plusieurs

Now, as a 'work of art', I am sure some members here will lavish praise on this fragrance and that's fair enough. But, just like the film, this is a brutalist offering that I can only imagine wearing alone in a room. Maybe Mark Buxton created it to be admired rather than worn?

His latest offering in this series [not listed here yet] is 'Blow Up' based on Antonioni's rather dated film about photography. It harks back to his early work with CDG and encompasses Sequoia, Palisander, Hinoki and even a couple of the more liturgical offerings from CDG like Avignon and Kyoto in a fully rounded very deep 'woody'. It is gorgeous. What it has to do with the actual film is anybody's guess.
30th November, 2015

Azzaro pour Homme by Azzaro

Interesting fragrance, if not quite for me. I'm sampling from what I believe is a vintage mini. Nothing objectionable here. It reminds me of a nice version of Polo Modern Reserve. It feels like it could grow on me with time, perhaps.
30th November, 2015

Tiffany for Men by Tiffany

I was bouncing around in this while my friends were suave(ing) the young ones with Fahrenheit. My playground was with the older ones. Dried down to a nice Sandalwood, a Fine powder, a plus Memories.
28th November, 2015

Fruits of the Musk by Montale

Montale Fruits of the Musk is neither a good creation nor a disaster di per se (there is indeed nothing off-putting or particularly synthetic in its perception, especially in its central and final phase of development). This scent lacks nonetheless overall a yet minimum level of personality and originality, being in substance a further example of the proverbial Montale's olfactory redundancy. I don't bash it mainly for its level of "synthetic implementation" since I don't find its aroma overbearing on this sphere (in comparison with all the olfactive "material" waving all around the market), my humble complaint is prevalently focused on its useless (act of) retracing yet crossed olfactory territories without providing a new remarkable "added value". Basically this soapy-diaphane (more than vaguely lipstick/cosmetical in effects) "white" scent is a simplification of many classic powdery/soapy/aldehydic floral-chypres of the past (scents from Grossmith, Cacharel, E. Coudray, Trussardi, Alyssa Ashley, a bunch of Caron's, Ysl's or Chanel's jump indeed partially on mind, each of them for several of their final powdery/spacious/balmy characteristics). I don't find this juice particularly fruity (the notable red berries's implementation is actually well balanced and moderately dosed), this "poudre et ambre'" kind of scent is (under my vulgar nose) all about bergamot, musky rose and jammy white soapy powder (balsams, powdery woods, synth amber, heliotrope etc) imo. Several Farmacia SS Annunziata's have recently retraced this formula with mediocre results as well. Musk is not the standout note while resins and soapy balsams are the main "topic" in here, side by side with this central creamy/waxy/honeyed rose so close to the one we can easily catch in many nourishing drugstore creamy potions for women. Dry down is almost cottony, it seems the aroma of a rose/milk-based moisturizing cream on woman's skin, in this stage the scent is ostensibly organic and quite creamy-poudre. Dry down is the best part of the job but it lacks nuances and articulated structure. It seems to catch even more the note of powdery/talky amber in this stage. A presumptively "niche" fragrance smelling not as a fragrance, finally an expensive experiment, don't you think so?
28th November, 2015

Acqua di Parma Colonia Club by Acqua di Parma

Tested from a sample this morning and again this evening.
Starts of citrusy with a strong, slightly synthetic, mint note. I could feel the mint oil, or essence, or whatever form it is, tingling on my skin, and the mint was strong enough to clear my sinuses. That description doesn't do the fragrance justice though, because at the start, at least, it's an interesting, fresh and very attractive scent, with the promise of something unusual.
Unfortunately the mint and citrus fade very quickly, as they tend to, and what is left is a very generic, fresh, masculine cologne, dominated by lavender. I really don't get the vetiver, a note I love, but maybe I'm desensitised to it. Nothing out of this world, but nonetheless pleasant. The whole experience makes me think of meeting someone for the first time, attractive, looks interesting, there's a flash of interest, a look held almost imperceptibly too long, maybe a flirtation? But no, my mistake, just a pleasant chat talking about work, or the weather or something, and then a friendly smile and have a good day.
A pleasant, daytime, summery fragrance.
November 2015
28th November, 2015
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Baldessarini Ultimate by Baldessarini

It didn’t take much effort to accomplish that, but finally here’s the first decent offering from Baldessarini since their early Baldessarini Eau de Cologne. Ultimate doesn’t really scream quality, but it’s very (thus, surprisingly) nice, surely more than enough for the brand and the market positioning, no snobbery intended. It’s modern, almost slightly “avantgarde”, and could very easily fit in contemporary fashion lines like Comme des Garçons. Actually it smells like something they could have made, and that would have even been better than some of their offerings.

Anyway basically Ultimate is a sharp, quite fresh, intentionally (I guess) heavily synthetic sort of metallic-crisp woody-peppery fragrance with some nondescript yet fairly pleasant “juicy-floral” feel and some peculiar, sharp herbal-metallic nuances. It’s like a mix of Comme des Garçons 2 Man, Rochas Aquaman or Lanvin Oxygene, and any fresh citrus fragrance. It’s a contemporary “ transparent woody-peppery” scent with fresh herbal-citrus and slightly fruity tones. And some sort of watery-aquatic feel – not ozonic, I really mean “watery”. It then evolves on basically the same path, just becoming a bit warmer with amber, olibanum (Iso E Super, basically) and leather (sort of, an unperceivable thin whiff of suede) unfolding their velvet touch over the initial tangy pepper-green head notes. And so remains for some hours, aseptically warm yet breezy and pleasantly classy, quite “youthful” and even sort of hipster-ish despite the marketing claim you read on the box (“Separates the men from the boys” – seriously?).

So, that’s it. A totally decent, even interestingly multifaceted modern designer with a “niche-avantgarde” feel (so again, basically something à la Comme des Garçons). Which is a very positive sign from Baldessarini – they could have kept going on with that Del Mar and Private Affairs cheap garbage, while they decided to do this. It isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s still on a whole different level if compared to any other offering by this brand, except as I said, the first Baldessarini cologne. It has some sense, it has a definite personality, and the quality seems very respectable. Nothing you can’t skip safely, but it’s very fine. Surely worthy a sniff for me.

28th November, 2015

Eternity Now for Men by Calvin Klein

The card defines this a “juicy oriental fougère” balanced with “exotic woods”. Pretending I didn’t read the “fougère” part in order to keep my lunch in my stomach, what I get out of Eternity Now is basically only the “juicy” and the “exotic” parts, both in the tritest and cheapest way you can imagine - as juicy and exotic as a tin can of sweetish synthetic drugstore tropical soda. Juvenile, shabby and – ok, you get it.

28th November, 2015

Bruce Willis Personal Edition by Bruce Willis

A pleasant surprise, really. Bruce Willis Personal Edition opens quite classically with a typical aromatic/herbal chypre (floral) accord kind of reminiscence of virile classics a la Borsalino by Borsalino or Basile Uomo (Henry Cottons, Trussardi Action etc). I get citrus, herbal woodsy "refreshment" and melancholic sharp floral shades (jasmine, cyclamine, geranium?). Sharp spices are included in the mix and black pepper in particular provides a sharply shadowy atmosphere a la Gucci by Gucci Homme. Gradually, along the way, tobacco and leather jump up, the first of two quite mild (moderately), rounding and flavoured, the second quite mastering and characterizing the real substance of the aroma. Dry down is indeed really leathery and with woody-floral-herbal nuances. I can surely say that Personal Edition's neo-classic dry down is not so distant from Ungaro III's final trail (just more properly nuanced by leather, less spicy and "kind of diluted" at same time). It seems to detect shades of lavender, musks and fern in the background, something still conjuring the superior (and more articulate) Borsalino, a scent from which Personal Edition could ideally (or effectively) have been inspired (being Borsalino, less leathery, more floral, more angular, ambery, herbal/aromatic and in general more nuanced). Honestly I don't get oud at all. The final wake is leathery, hyper masculine, slightly ambery, musky/cedary and "seasoned" by a warm tobacco's presence. An honest take on a classic leather (aromatic/chypre/fougere) theme, a fragrance potentially attractive for all kinds of women looking for a protective figure of man.
28th November, 2015

Nirvana Black by Elizabeth and James

Nirvana Black smells incomplete to me, but maybe I am just looking for too much. The violet is very much in the vein of Eau de Cartier Concentree and keeps the whole thing from smelling trite and foody. The sandalwood constitutes most of the fragrance,which is fine, but the overall quality of materials leaves me wanting.

This kind of product isn't likely to please anyone with a collection like mine but for the easy-to-please, the younger crowd, or those who honestly enjoy the unfussy and simple design of scents by Victoria's Secret, there may be something in this interpretation of Nirvana.
28th November, 2015

Les Exceptions : Cuir Impertinent by Thierry Mugler

Cuir Impertinent belongs in the collection of any diehard fragrance collector, but with a caveat. The presentation (black box and silvertoned bottle) are luxe and a joy to behold. Some vendors even offered engraving.

The scent, sadly, is not what one would assume from the makers of Angel as an exclusive offering.

I have several bottle of the Angel Cuir (I love it!) and it was only offered in the 30 ml bottle to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Angel, so I stocked up when it was released to discounters.

Cuir Impertinent is a warm, spiced leather with amber and tobacco. On me, it does not have the sillage or longevity of the Angel Cuir, so sampling is a must as mileage may vary.
28th November, 2015

Etienne Aigner by Etienne Aigner

This is the scent of my Ivory DB9, if I had one.

In fact this is the scent of my Ivory DB9 after years of wearing Vintage Bel Ami within and I am dead and gone.

It is a smoothed out, gentrified 60's Avon Leather, Musky thing.

It doesn't light up, it glows a warm caramel.

And yes, I'll take that Ivory one over there. The one with the Caramel leather and unglossed Mahogany dash.
27th November, 2015 (last edited: 28th November, 2015)

Theorema Uomo by Fendi

Fendi Theorema Uomo is a sadly discontinued italian glory "leaking" straight from a luxurious still in activity brand yet responsible of real olfactive pieces of tradition a la Fendi by Fendi classic (the house's masterpiece), Asja, Fendi Uomo, Life Essence etc. Theorema Uomo opens somewhat conventionally (eau de Rochas, several 4711, Lancome Trophee or Mugler Cologne jump partially on mind among many others waving from Roger&Gallet to Meo Fusciuni across Paul Smith) with a fizzy-zesty and evidently peppery citric accord more than vaguely classical, quite sparkling, lemony-balsamic but immediately kind of grassy-salty (lemon, vetiver, geranium in a sort of tart/lemony/salty odorous valzer). Geranium, especially as joined to lemon and greens, provides a dose of green astringent-salty leafiness (it seems almost to detect genuine earthiness for a while). Overall the olfactory experience is permeated by this green/leafy lemony (vaguely salty) tartness really virile, dry, spacious and hyper balanced. Probably cardamom affords a sort of fluidy spicy refreshing (almost minty) consistency while a touch of petitgrain (connected to spices) enhances the typical lingering green fizziness. It seems to detect traces of basil and mint as well in moderate amount. Synth ambergris (well connected to pepper) imprints a final reassuring and confidential sense of warmth, while the "bottom" woodiness is mostly cedary (astringent cedarwood) since vetiver is prevalently catchable in the top. Frankly I hardly detect labdanum while may be nutmeg provides "mild balance" to the otherwise overly tart/salty main accord. Airy, dynamic, essential, a typical kind of sporty/gentlemanly and casual-hyper versatile fragrance usually prefered by rampant offsprings, lovers of outdoors activities, golf clubs habitué and white clothed young managers.
27th November, 2015 (last edited: 28th November, 2015)

Moon Bloom by Hiram Green

A mildly camphoraceous jasmine came out flying like a bat out of hell. As minutes passed, I understood why the jasmine was so eager to leave the party. What got left behind was a boring, mildly sweet floral that smelled somewhat greasy, like a coconut oil-based tanning lotion.

And then it hit me. MOON BLOOM describes a scene on a crowded tropical beach where rows after rows of exposed butt cheeks can be seen baking in the sun, gleaming with tanning oil.
27th November, 2015

Bois d'Iris by Van Cleef & Arpels

I must admit it: I’ve a penchant for iris fragrances. As long as they’re even just decent, I always like them a lot. It amazes me how versatile this material can be, and how many nuances it offers. It can smell warm and luscious, dusty and cold, “grey” and “red”, plushy and earthy, and always so refined and mysterious. Anyway, Bois d’Iris is surely a remarkable must for any fan of this material, probably even more than other more praised ones in my opinion. It explores the colder-dustier and more balsamic side of iris, pairing it with dry resins, warm amber, a very peculiar sort of “greyish”, massively incense-driven crisp woody note, and a sort of rarefied foggy pine-forest feel. So imagine a breezy, balsamic, woody and above all, dusty-powdery incense scent, completely unisex and actually quite dark somehow, or better say “cold”, peaceful yet somehow aloof. Almost “lunar”, I’d say. And extremely refined: the dustiness has some very fascinating sort of sparkling texture – “silver powder”, so to speak. Dior named a scent “Bois d’Argent”, but that name would be so better for Bois d’Iris actually. By the way the two scents are indeed quite similar, but I prefer Bois d’Iris, for a couple of very simple features: less pretentious, more substantial.

What fascinates me about this scent is how it creates a shimmering, rarefied sort of “silver incense” vibe played on iris powder and resinous-balsamic woody notes, without using directly incense. I mean, this fragrance smells quite incensey to me, but in a peculiar way, “incensey and not-incensey at once”. Maybe more than incense I should say “a whiff of cold, azure-grey smoky breeze scented with iris and luxury resins”, as it feels weightless and airy yet surprisingly substantial, balsamic, enveloping. Truly one of a kind, extremely enjoyable and fascinating. Shortly – if it wasn’t clear already – I really like this scent: it feels quality, it’s extremely sophisticated, it’s delicate but not light or too close to skin – just elegantly discreet. I own other iris based scents, and this has definitely its own personality which makes it worth owning even if you think you’ve “smelled them all” when it comes to iris. Maybe a tad too expensive, but a true class act!

27th November, 2015

Picadilly Circus by Hugh Parsons

I’ve yet to “get” this brand – British name, all made in Italy, zero information about the alleged “heritage”, terrible promotion... and surprisingly nice fragrances (so far for me, at least). Piccadilly Circus is in fact quite good, quite more than I assumed. Basically it is fairly similar to Acqua di Parma Colonia Assoluta or similar floral-citrus variations on classic “gentleman’s eau de cologne” structure, just a bit greener, edgier, drier and warmer at the same time, with some more salty-musky ambergris on the base. That is the family: a refined, cozy, surprisingly “natural” and rich citrus-floral cologne with some more weight and thickness than usual, and a remarkable quality, also with a very pleasant evolution towards a woody-green drydown tinted with citrus-powdery notes. Quite close to Colonia Assoluta as I said, but not redundant if you own both (as I do): Piccadilly has more citrus, it smells sharper and also a bit bolder, slightly echoing dry green fougères like Grès pour Homme. It’s quite good anyway, it smells very solid, elegant and extremely versatile without smelling dull. A bit synthetic perhaps, especially for the price, but it works fine. The theme would seem a bit trite, but it smells actually very compelling – perhaps for the touch of musky ambergris, or for the way citrus-green notes interact. It smells, say, raw and clean at once, breezy and natural (except for some synthetic musky-soapy feel) but nothing too hippie or “artisanal”. It’s rather distinguished and mature on the contrary. Nothing breathtaking, but very nice with a touch of distinction. Plus it lasts long and projects very well. Not sure if it’s worthy the retail price but it’s very nice.

27th November, 2015

Panama 1924 : Fefè (Dandy Napoletano) by Boellis

This new offering by Boellis is also probably their most creative one so far. The color of the packaging (bright bold orange) and the Neapolitan reference misled me at first, I thought this would have been some bright, lively fresh zesty scent, but the notes intrigued me as it seemed actually darker and rounder. And in fact it is, this is by far the darker and also quite more complex scent by this brand. But at the same time, probably the one I enjoy the less.

Basically Fefé is a patchouli-musk bomb with a massive dusty-powdery-woody feel, truly warm and aromatic (even “culinary” thanks to saffron), barely enlightened by some very subtle whiff of citrus greenness. Patchouli, musk and a dusty woody-ambergris accord sit at the core of this scent like big, bold, humid Stonehenge stones: imagine the smell of some antique, kind of musty Belle Epoque closet, with its earthy-powdery and woody nuances, and that nondescript smell of damp dust and old abandoned garments. Refined and melancholic at once, and I surely get the reference to a Neapolitan dandy – a quite evocative and quality portrait of the Italian heritage of laid-back dapper gents of the early Nineteenth century. Or well, of any gentleman of that era, and this is the smell you still can get in some very old boutiques (dusty barbershop boutiques, again... you can’t really say Boellis hasn’t a very clear “fil rouge” throughout their offerings).

The scent is quite complex for me, as the way the notes interact smells quite new to me, but at the same time it doesn’t evolve that much, so that’s pretty much it – patchouli, musk, amber, earthy-powdery nuances, a dusty sort of “damp stones” feel mixed with a soapy vibe. It smells good, but well... quite a bit cloying after a while, honestly. Not sure if that’s intended, but it does seem a bit static, and given the boldness of the notes and their dusty-damp feel, you would probably prefer it to evolve a bit, to “open” somehow, to lose some weight and strength as it feels quite thick and almost haunting after a while. Or just a bit boring. Nonetheless the smell per se is very good, so if you like it or if you’re looking for an unusual patchouli-powdery scent, then it’s a deal. I do like it, but it’s really not an “everyday scent” or something I’d want to reach often.

27th November, 2015

Panama 1924 : Millésimé by Boellis

I surely agree with the reviews comparing Panama 1924 Millesimé with Cartier’s Déclaration, as the opening is very similar and plays more or less the same chords – spicy cardamom, elegant crisp musky woods, a whiff of masculine flowers (jasmine and carnation for me, or something similar to it, maybe rose too), saffron and some very light tangy citrus. But the similarity doesn’t really last long, though: from the very beginning in fact, Millesimé does have some more richness, smelling at once more refined and more natural than the Cartier’s. And a bit warmer too, thanks to musk and ambergris – the same, quite good dusty-salty musky ambergris base you get in nearly any scent produced by Profumitalia (Boellis and Hugh Parsons, just to name two brands they manage – just compare two random scents for each, you’ll smell the same base notes).

During its evolution, and this is a quality product with some elegant and shimmering evolution, the initial spicy notes – except maybe saffron, which lasts longer – tone down progressively, leaving the stage to an exceedingly pleasant, classy and soothing floral-vetiver core accord still with some subtle pungent spicy edges, musk and some nondescript sort of “juicy” feel which I guess it’s that “tea” note – more a sort of a greenish rose for me, actually. Vetiver gets an increasingly prominent role, and it’s basically the star of the drydown, tinged with some floral nuances and a dusty musky-ambery base accord, which soon becomes a bit leathery too (I think it’s a side nuance of saffron).

So, basically another winner from Boellis in my book. As for the others from this brand, this is really nothing overly creative, and surely it does try to “emulate” a certain type of established crowdpleasers: but it does it with great class, great understatement and great quality. It feels just very mature, distinguished, yet informal and totally affable. To the point it, say, “exceeds” its masters and becomes actually better than them – so yes, for me this is quite better than Déclaration or similar scents. Same tones, same chords, better class and better quality. It has that same soapy “barbershop” vibe of other Boellis fragrances, that effortless Italian class, a shade of musky-amber refined melancholy well paired with some more luminous spicy-green nuances, and it’s just more fascinating, richer and more sophisticated than the Cartier’s in my opinion – also getting rid of that “sanitized” sort of artificial designer feel. The name is a bit pretentious perhaps as I don’t get the “millesimé” factor, but it’s surely recommended nonetheless.

27th November, 2015

Santal 33 by Le Labo

What makes a fragrance intriguing is when it evokes a specific time, a certain place or a particular material while remaining elusively vague.

SANTAL 33 has successfully achieved this feat with its seemingly amorphous quality. Neither woody nor floral, far from leathery or spicy, I can't exactly describe it as musky either. Yet somehow it smells distinctive and chic. Like a cross between the scent of a freshly printed lifestyle magazine and the interiors of a luxury leather goods shop.

With superior performance to boot, this is another winning hand from the house of Le Labo. Well played!
27th November, 2015

Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent

Since I got into the whole fragrance hoo-hah, I learned from early on not to judge a fragrance by the marketing hype surrounding it - is it masculine or feminine.

The iconic scent of Kouros by the once big house of Yves saint Laurent, just simply does not let me think about this otherwise. It IS the most masculine scent out there. It carries quite a punch and never fails to get noticed. Bergamot, cloves, luscious woods, all underpinned by superbly balanced soapy-clean base make this scent irresistible.

If this had been sold in a clear glass bottle and named after a number or a colour, perhaps it wouldn't get noticed as much, but its the whole package - bottle, packaging, name and scent overall that give this scent a niche feel to it.

My only complaint? I only recently discovered it. One spritz and this stuff lasts past the evening shower. I can still detect it on clothes after they've been washed.

Definitely a 'try before you buy' scent as I don't think it will appeal to everyone, but a magnificent aromatic fougere that's not to be missed if you are a fragrance enthusiast.
27th November, 2015

Acqua di Parma Colonia Club by Acqua di Parma

The marketing blurb describes it as 'a refined and elegant olfactory interpretation of classic Italian colognes'. That's a nice spin on 'misinterpretation' as there's nothing remotely Italian about this scent.

COLONIA CLUB really isn't that bad. It's cool and breezy with minty green tops over a lightly earthy-musky coumarin-like base. Kinda reminds me of a tamer Herba Fresca from Guerlain Acqua Allegoria line but with a lot less herbs. I do get a short-lived cool sensation post-application which suggests a certain mentholated component. Others however may be more inclined to dismiss it as 'rubbing alcohol'.

Comparisons to earlier and seemingly superior Acqua di Parma fragrances, while inevitable, are somewhat misplaced as every fragrance should be judged on its own merit.

Yes, it does smell familiar, the way a favorite shower gel does, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Some people say it smells cheap. But take a good sniff up close and your nose will probably tell you this scent has the better construction, though not necessarily better materials.

As I load the golf cart and head back to the club, I figured COLONIA CLUB makes for a one heckuva sports fragrance.
27th November, 2015

Jimmy by Bruno Fazzolari

For me,and my tastes, this is the only shining star of this Group of Eight Samples. I find it far away from being carefree.

As Darvant relates to Monserrat.

"Rarely I've tested on skin such an indolic initial approach, it gave me immediately the flashback of my childhood's afternoons when I used to "whisper" to bees while running free for flowery fields and green gardens, with the fresh nature flowing down the lungs."

I am then drawn, as the bee, to the Indolic of a single flower, a tickle to the nose, that sneeze of pollen,that prize of angels wings.

As Darvant also relates a whisper to the sinister.
Yes I agree. This is the Life and the Death. The story of the Black Widow.
As Turing to the Sunflower and Pinecone, I am awed and shuddered.
It speaks to the lure,indeed intoxication of the Feminine. Frighteningly potent.

The others strike me as dated "Reservoir Dogs" Parlor Games or plays to that which is current fab, Narcisse and Iris. All of which hints to me,
Slick style, little substance. All designed to sell Pseudo-Art to the masses.

That being said, I am likely, because of "Jimmy" be drawn to visit Fazzolari's other work, and most surely to that thing of substance, that is Schuyler.

26th November, 2015 (last edited: 30th November, 2015)

Phoenicia by Heeley

Love this. More for a man than a woman I think - I've passed my samples to my husband and it's terrific on him. Boozy fruits, incense, smoke and cedar.
26th November, 2015