Perfume Reviews

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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
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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

Etienne Aigner by Etienne Aigner

This is the scent of my Ivory DB9, if I had one.
27th 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

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 Montsarrat.

"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

Armani Eau pour Homme by Giorgio Armani

A soapy Eau de Cologne type smell. I have a mini of what I believe is considered vintage. This rivals Chanel Eau de Cologne on shelves today, or Frederic Malle Cologne Indelible, but then adds moss to the base to give an added dimension, a luxurious velvet backdrop to the Eau de Cologne.
26th November, 2015

Voyage by Hiram Green

I purchased my first bottle blind - the write-up on Twisted Lily just made me salivate. I took a chance and was very well rewarded.
The entire experience from start to finish is one of the most beautiful sensory experiences I have had since initially smelling House of Matriarch's Blackbird (now known as Black No. 1).

There is an elegance to this scent, something rather hard to explain. I have attempted to type a more technical review, but each time I realized it did nothing to truly explain this tour of scent. I'm at a loss to be more descriptive, and I fail readers by just typing out my emotional response. Truly, I am sorry. Since there are only 250 bottles made, and I now own two, it might not be so important to offer much more detail. I'd like to think this scent will be offered more readily in the future, however I could not in good reason resist a back-up. If there really are only 248 bottles remaining, my best advice would be "buy it now".
26th November, 2015
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Acqua di Parma Colonia Ambra by Acqua di Parma

Acqua di Parma Colonia Ambra basically re-interprets in a specifically amberish (synthetic salty ambergris) way the main Acqua di Parma Colonia Oud Concentree's mossy-resinous-leathery formula, finally performing a more succeeding and balanced recipe imo. The juice is indeed smart, sleek, urban, modern and darkly classy but most of all is more discreet and balanced than its predecessor in its final velvety ambery performance. Let's go gradually, first of all let's say that the juice lacks genuine originality since I can detect in here a nowadays almost mainstream typical accord of saffron/rose/oud a la Dueto City Oud and stuffs like that (Y by Avery, Ducalis by Angela Ciampagna, Xerjoff 40 Knots etc, etc). Second, Colonia Ambra shares a common foundation of bergamot, wet-citric/grassy/aromatic "hydrated" musk, spicy rose, patchouli, resins and synthetic woodiness with its older cousin Colonia Oud Concentree but while the latter is firmly set on a main leatherish/oudish/mossy (more kind of gassy-woody and bombastic) accord Amber morphs finally towards a more specifically salty ambery and delicately musky (vaguely classic/chypre) accord quite comforting and musky modern. While the Oud Concentree's base notes morph down basically leathery and mossy/resinous (with a more marked woody-gassy-saffrony synth oppression) the Colonia Ambra's final trail is less properly woody and more delicately musky-vanillic and spicy-ambery (with secret salty marine nuances? I don't think so, probably saltiness is prevalently musky/leathery and sandalwood-"infused"). Frankly I prefer Ambra over Oud Concentree and could not easily stop smelling my wrist (despite I smell everything but a terrific potion). Dry down is warm and ambery but I still catch in the background that plaguing synth saffrony/rosey cedary woodiness that represents a mediocre "taking the world by storm" accord nowadays (in this case tamed and "embellished" by a warm salty/spicy/musky synth ambergris). I get a ghostly (and saffrony) floral presence in the final wake but the aroma is all about amber, musk and "little" vanilla. In conclusion, do you wanna really standing out by wearing a synthetic urban/chic amber? I toss out just one name mastering over so many: Costume National Scent Intense, this is my night out pop/rock amber oh guys.
25th November, 2015

Criminal of Love by By Kilian

I have had an interesting time getting to know this juice. My first impressions were not the best, I'll admit. It comes out very powerful and overwhelming - that would be the "criminal" part, I suppose - I nearly felt as though I had been robbed of all my sensibilities as well as senses!

I placed it carefully in my decant container, and waited...

It has been about three months since I tried this the first time. I am not sure if its the change in the weather, or my opinion, but I'm truly enjoying this. Yes, it still comes out very powerfully - and this is not a short-lived sort of power...but it does eventually mellow out. Thank GOD!

As it lingers, I feel wrapped in a delicious blend of various warm scents, but none stands out more than the very jammy rose. "I need some toast, with this", methinks.

Heading into the drydown, it evokes the impressions of being in a tobacco barn, with the curing and smoke. It's a lot like driving in downtown Durham, NC back in the 80's, which is my hometown, incidentally. Definitely a positive scent!

I'm not sure if I'm up to taking the chance with a purchase overseas (Russia, to be exact), however I am grateful for this decant, and I'll enjoy it while I can.
24th November, 2015

Spicebomb by Viktor & Rolf

I don’t have a problem with sweet fragrances, but Spicebomb is just really too much for me. It’s pure, crude, nondescript plastic sweetness which I have a hard time considering a grown man’s fragrance. Or actually a “person’s fragrance”, of any kind. Again, sweetness is not the issue, neither the “generic” factor, which I’m very fine with most of the times. The problem is that Spicebomb smells like if they accidentally switched the nozzles with a barrel of something meant for a candy factory, and bottled that, and sold it. Leather? Saffron? Elegance? This is a juvenile, sticky bubblegum cascade of cinnamon, vanilla, musk, nonsense synthetic gummy bear stuff all wrapped in a bare “masculine” frame of woody musk and spicy amber. All in the worse quality you can imagine – flat, cheap, extremely linear synthetic stuff as in any drugstore shower gel, with no qualities whatsoever except the ability of making you feel in a time machine ready to throw you right into Justin Bieber’s arms in 2005. I’d choose lifetime chastity over any woman complimenting this abomination.

24th November, 2015
kewart Show all reviews
United Kingdom

Perfume Calligraphy Rose by Aramis

Calligraphy Rose is a very appealing, slightly sultry scent. Rose takes centre stage but is nicely supported by the saffron and myrrh which give it a mysterious,desert-like feel of the Orient.(I do mean desert, not dessert!)

Longevity is good and sillage average.I would wear this in the cooler months for more formal gatherings.
It doesn't strike me as a "fun" perfume but rather one that has a more serious,measured side.
24th November, 2015

R by Révillon

A "mass-enjoyable/easy-going/go to down town for a noisy night out of fun" barely more than mediocre scent performed by a skilful perfumer (Maurice Roucel) for an historical respectful brand. A captivating casual, sporty, juvenile and versatile formula evolving from its initial freshly floral fluidy/gymnic (90's mainstream) opening to a final mossy-leathery dry down, passing across a central (to me quite unpleasant) amberish/spicy semi-oriental stage. A remarkably 90's in style woody-floral Revillon's creation with a lily of the valley/violet leaves/jasmine (supposedly) based intense floral presence, a typical fluidy-aqueous-citric (vaguely aquatic?) 90's accord, a fair dose of synthetic soapiness and a final touch of pleasant mossy leather. Oakmoss provides earthiness, a tad of "resinous bitter stickiness" (a la Acqua di Biella Ca' Luna) and complexity, "emancipating" (in its link with leather) the juice from the status of real mediocrity. The main introducing R's accord conjures me initially more than vaguely mainstream floral/aquatic 90's scents a la Joop Nightflight or stuffs like that but Revillon R develops soon a quite evident central spicy (kind of dusty cinnamonic) semi-oriental synth-amber/leather's presence leaning on the side of warmer (aromachemical-infused) scents a la Davidoff Hot Water, Creed Original Santal, Vince Camuto Pour Homme, Gaultier Le Beau Male or Prada Luna Rossa. Honestly, mostly in its central phase, this fragrance is not enough interesting to me, I find it versatile, salty-sugary-spicy, probably appealing to younger crowds but not enough structured or particular to reach a full thumbs up. A lavender/violet/herbal notes/citrus initial elegant twist ends to gradually morph towards an amberish-spicy-leathery boring develop with a salty/sporty/floral undertone quite common and mainstream (finally fortunately "elevated" by something mossy-earthy). In this phase it seems to wear a sort of less salty and spicier (more amberish and leathery) Gaultier Le Beau Male, with a quite similar sporty-floral-herbal main vibe. Honestly I have to say that the more a mossy-leather emerges (and spicy ambroxan recedes) the more I appreciate the juice (but probably is too late or not enough for a full thumbs up). Inhaling deeply my skin in this final phase I get leather flanked (and supported) by a sort of likeable mossy (oakmoss) resinous earthiness which I really appreciate. The worst aspect is anyway that boring spicy-amberish-salty/floral central sultriness that I find fulsome and nowadays redundant. Dry down is slightly powdery (because of the yet operating spicy ambroxan) but endly mossy, comforting, virile and leathery. This stage provides a partial redemption for the whole olfactory "fatigue". Average is anyway my final humble rating.
23rd November, 2015

Noir Patchouli by Histoires de Parfums

This is nonsense. Patchouli? All wrong! Leather? Purchase a bar of Cussons. Florals and Musk? Close your eyes and pick anything off the Feminine shelf at your local Sephora. Price? Are you kidding?

I am not done with this house, as Ambre 114 is a charmer to be sure.
Noir Patch is no match for the likes of Givenchy Gentleman Vintage, Coromandel, Giorgio For Men, Led IV.
23rd November, 2015

Acqua di Parma Colonia Intensa by Acqua di Parma

Meh. Contrary to other flankers of this Colonia line, such as the beautiful Assoluta version and the at-least-wearable Leather one, this Intensa variation is quite disappointing for me. Actually much disappointing, even if my expectations with Acqua di Parma are never that high. It starts off as a sort of cheap dupe of a herbal-citrus fougère played on lemon-musky chords, tinged with a depressingly flat synthetic leather note and a surprisingly bold, and kind of harshly dissonant generic woody note (it takes a talent to make cedar smell this bad). It’s basically a “darker”, here meaning woodier and muskier take on the Colonia, but hasn’t really the quality and the class to succeed for me. It’s just... a shrug in a bottle, almost a scrubber. It’s uninspired, too cheap to be at least elegant and enjoyable, as it smells on the contrary almost tacky for how lousy and mediocre the notes smell. And even if they’re just a few and are all quite “classic”, for some reasons at some points their balance smells almost wrong. Too lemony at first, too harshly woody, too cheaply musky on the drydown. But well, I know “balance” is a rather subjective matter, so I guess someone may like that. Still a less than mediocre scent, whether the balance is fine or not. Anyway once the initial citrus and herbal notes start to vanish off, you realize that was the nicest part, and you basically remain with a simple, bland, immobile, surprisingly cheap soapy musky-cedar accord still tinged with a bold detergent-like debris of citrus and a remarkably irritating long persistence, as charming and pleasant as remaining stuck in a lift with that bald stinky colleague of yours.

23rd November, 2015

Armani Privé Vétiver Babylone by Giorgio Armani

Vetiver? What vetiver? Ah, the power of suggestion. There is probably as much vetiver in here as there is genuine aged oud in your average Montale.

Without a doubt the stars of the show are the scintillating hesperidic topnotes. They elevate the fragrance as much as they lift my spirits. But once they leave the stage within the first hour as citrus notes are wont to do, the extraordinary show becomes painfully ordinary, the melange of pale, lightly earthy base notes swiftly taking the composition from its giddy heights down to a grounded, more mundane existence.

"Houston, we have a problem. This rocket is out of fuel."

But it's not all doom and gloom for Giorgio Armani. There is still an element left behind in the stratosphere - its price tag.
23rd November, 2015
jujy54 Show all reviews
United States

Knize Ten by Knize

Whoa. This IS a masculine. My souvenir of Vienna. I love it but feel a bit self conscious wearing it straight up, so I fem it up a bit with half a spritz of the redoubtable Perfumer's Workshop's Tea Rose layered under this sharp, tobacco-redolent leather. I'd love to smell it on a guy, especially after he's been out on a run or playing sports. ohlala.
23rd November, 2015
jujy54 Show all reviews
United States

Odalisque by Nicolaï

Purchased at the shop on Rue des Archives, on my first ever trip to Europe, Odalisque simply *is* Paris for me. A perfect floral, not dominated by white flowers, but rosy and a little powdery. Perfectly soigné and chic. Yes, Paris itself. What a great scent memory I've curated!
23rd November, 2015

The Secret by Antonio Banderas

yes, there is a resemblance to 1 Million, but to my nose no 2 fragrances are exactly alike...the bottom line is that I get a sweet/bubblegummy spicy leather with a hint of mint/grapefruit freshness and a whole lot of thick syrupy cinnamon with just a touch of apple liquor...not a bad smell...I really do get a pretty strong presence of leather...just a little too sweet for me to put this in rotation, but for the price you can't go wrong with this if it works for you...
for me, decant/sample worthy
Sweet Spicy Leather
23rd November, 2015

Habit Rouge Dress Code by Guerlain

What a beautiful opening – delicate and sweet, a cloud of bergamot, rose, and vanilla dust just hanging in the air like a rose-gold halo. And in it, I instantly recognized the ghost of Shalimar.

Well, actually, that’s not true. If Habit Rouge is the male equivalent of Shalimar, then its flanker, Habit Rouge Dress Code is the male equivalent of (a mash-up of) two of the Shalimar flankers – specifically the Parfum Initial L’Eau and the Parfum Initial EDP. The Shalimar flankers stripped Shalimar of its leather, smoke, incense, and dirty bergamot, and used her structure to turn out streamlined, sweet versions flushed with sweet lemonade, fruit berries, and that smooth pink patchouli that modern girls love so much. Likewise, Habit Rouge Dress Code takes the rose-leather combination of the original Habit Rouge EDT, strips it of its fresh lemon-and-herb-strewn opening, and fluffs it out with sweet notes that modern tastes love, like praline, caramel, and tonka.

But I don’t just mean that Dress Code smells like the conceptual twin of the Shalimar flankers, I really mean to say that it lifts entire sections from these fragrances. Dress Code has the hazy but effervescent citrus-rose combo from the opening of the L’Eau, giving off the delightful effect of a huge pitcher of limeade dotted with pink rose petals. Later on, when the sweet praline and caramel come in, it starts to smell a lot like the dry down of the Parfum Initial EDP (minus the iris and berries). The overall feel is pink, balmy, and slightly resinous, so there is obviously a lot of the Guerlainade here too. In fact, at certain points, it reminds me of a sweeter, less complex version of Cologne du 68, which itself is basically an essay on the famous Guerlainade, with anise and angelica stalks added on top.

Two notes take Dress Code away from being a mere pastiche of these other fragrances, though. First, a warm nutmeg note provides a brown, spicy aura that is very striking. It acts upon the vanilla and caramel to produce a sweet, nutty effect very similar to that in Black Flower Mexican Vanilla. Second is a rather strident citronella-like note, probably arising from the geraniol or citronellol compounds in the rose oil used here. Both the nutmeg and the citronella notes die way back in the dry down.

Dress Code is extremely well-done, and is a striking example of a modern gourmand take on a classic. It will suit modern male tastes, I am sure, as it is extremely sweet and has that praline note that people like so much these days. But for me, it runs into “too sweet” territory, and to be honest, I can’t stand the boatloads of caramel poured into this – it has that syrupy “catch” at the back of my throat that put me off ever buying Parfum Initial EDP. The opening is beautiful, and I’ll admit that within five minutes of applying, I was scouring the net to see where I could find it. But on reflection, I only find the opening alluring because it reminds me of the one Shalimar flanker that I really rate (and own), which is the Parfum Initial L’Eau.

By the way, not that it matters, but if I were smelling this blind, I would swear that Dress Code was a feminine release. It’s a good example of how the line between feminine and masculine fragrances is really a thin one these days, and that it essentially doesn’t matter at all – if you’re a woman and this smells good to you, just wear it.
22nd November, 2015

Cuir Mandarine by David Jourquin

David Jourquin Cuir Mandarine is basically a powdery/musky/resinous patchouli. The latter is "fat", smooth, ambery and temperamental, never particularly angular, earthy or sharp in my humble experience on skin. Cuir Mandarine opens with a vibrant accord of aromatic/splashing lavender (the main theme along the first five minutes of trip), earthy-spicy patchouli (black pepper is quite piquant under my nose in the top while earthiness is fleeting), (almost oily) mandarine and unmistakable synthetic tobacco. The latter, merged with the mandarine's substantial fruitiness, is one of the two main themes of the story. I have to say that probably the real protagonist is actually this fruity/musky central patchouli conjuring me far more sort of dense musky (slightly fleshy/resinous or animalic patchoulies a la Mazzolari Lui, Nobile 1942 Patchouli Nobile, Lutens Borneo 1834, La Via del Profumo Patchouli or Il Profvmo Patchouli Noir) than sharper spicy/fougere-like aromatic patchoulies a la Givenchy Gentleman, Yosh Sombre Negra, MPeG Parfum d'Habit or Guerlain Heritage. Finally the leather emerges strictly connected with fruity-spicy tobacco (a la Don Corleone La Via del Profumo) and patchouli while the aromatic piquancy (still anyway lurking around) progressively starts receding. The connection between leather, tobacco, patchouli and mandarine is responsible of the typical aroma of this juice. It seems to detect a floral (neroli-like) presence as subtle undertone. Honestly I find this fragrance pleasant, decently constructed, basically simplistic, not particularly evolving and tolerable on its synthetic approach (quite ordinary and never disturbing or overly on the edge). It seems to detect hints of resinous smoky frankincense on my skin. Dry down smells like a really musky, warm, leathery-resinous and dense mandarine/patchouli accord surrounded by an almost exotic mellowness provided by musky-fruity tobacco, resins and powder. I'm sure amber is combined in the mix with its charge of woody cedary powder. The final envelop is warm and sexy, quite elegant and virile. Probably dry down is kind of "collapsing" and is not ideal for all those looking for a more structured aroma (I get also a sort of sultry-greasy tad of acidity on skin) but the aroma is still in its complex pleasant and sexy. A solution for all the lovers of those fat/dense (orange/brown) patchoulies around.
22nd November, 2015

Coven by Andrea Maack

Are you ready for the millionth sort of post-modern “soil-concrete” scent squeezing the desperate hell out of an idea which was barely enough for one scent? Yay. Coven opens with a particularly irritating smell of something halfway uncooked rice and damp paper on a rather confused sort of earthy-spicy-floral base accidentally spilled on wet soil. And so remains for a while. But when you’re almost ready to let the last bit of hope go, there’s a nice slow transition revealing a sort of weightless, synthetic floral-green heart with a warm albeit rather cheap sort of tobacco-infused designer woody-boozy feel (that reminds me so clearly of a scent I can’t remember at the moment – maybe Versace Man on steroids). Overall decent, but basically it evolves from a boring wannabe avantgarde thing, to a boring ordinary designer thing. Either it’s genius or...

22nd November, 2015

Pentachord Verdant by Tauer

Pentachords Verdant shares the same issue I personally detect in many fragrances by Andy Tauer. They’re intellectually very fascinating and thrilling, they’re exceedingly evocative and realistic, they succeed very well in keeping a decided, peculiar sort of artificial vein well combined with a truthful organic nature; but they don’t smell like something I would wear. Ever. Or that I think anyone would want to wear. Tauer hasn’t admittedly a formal training, and while that is surely a plus when it comes to creative freedom and composing “out of the box”, it sometimes turns into a disadvantage for him. And that is the case for Pentachords Verdant in my opinion.

Pentachords Verdant is basically a tremendously intriguing “smell” which brilliantly evokes the smell of damp grass, wet soil, freshly-cut branches, all with a sort of dark, cold, sharp feel, brilliantly combined with an artificial sort of quite heavy oily-gasoline greyish note that smells basically like someone pouring fuel on grass – you and your lawnmower, a romance by Andy Tauer. As usually with most of Tauer fragrances, the smell is quite sharp and almost harsh at first, stuffed with cold salty ambroxan and a thin, cutting layer of nondescript metallic spices giving the natural side of the fragrance that peculiar “artificial trim” which characterizes many scents by this nose. I don’t get any tobacco actually, to me it’s all a cascade of nose-tingling spicy sharp greenness seasoned with steamy gasoline. The evolution is just more about the volume decreasing, but I detect no particular transitions or movements – just the same identical thing losing strength and projection as hours pass (but that’s fine, and it actually gets almost pleasant after a while).

And, well... you may guess my conclusion (there’s not much else to say about the notes or the evolution, so we can skip to the end). I can’t help it, call me a tight-ass “classicist”, but this is too much on the very extreme fence between a perfume and a smell – not a stink, just an experimental smell which has little to do with perfumery. I mean, it’s not that any smell can automatically turn into a perfume just by a linguistic transition. It’s just too edgy, unstructured and crude to work as a fragrance in my opinion. It’s great to spray it and smell it, it’s amazingly realistic and it’s fantastic how it evokes the combined smell of wet grass, soil and gasoline, truly a hyperrealistic portrait of Mr. Smith’s Sunday morning mowing the lawn. But why on Earth shall I want to smell like that?

22nd November, 2015

Salome by Papillon Artisan Perfumes

This is a powerful animalic fragrance that is rich in civet, castoreum and similar carnal smells. Animalic fragrances are always polarising - either you love it or hate it. But also - they do smell differently on people's skin, and this needs to be taken into consideration.

I find animalic fragrances interesting...challenging sometimes. If I find one I really like, I would have no problem buying a full bottle. My current favourite is Montecristo by Masque. Salome is quite similar, though somewhat more powdery, dusty and more stale.

I do catch references to older people who have not showered and I would not like to be associated with smelling like an old, dusty man who has not washed. Thus, this is not a perfume for me to enjoy.
22nd November, 2015

Kuhuyan by Parfums de Marly

I happen to like Kuhuyan for the reasons that some don't like it. It is a smoky leather floral that reminds me of Cuir de Lancôme. Instead of jasmine, as with the Lancôme, Marly uses violet. This scent had longevity and sillage, and is enjoyable to wear. It is a unisex and not bound to be worn by everyone.
22nd November, 2015