Perfume Reviews

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Total Reviews: 136851

Al Hajjar Al'Aswad by Abdul Samad Al Qurashi

THIS is the rose I've been looking for to layer as well as wear alone. Goodness this is beautiful! So dark and full! It feels like a dark swirl of reds and pinks. Exquisite!
23rd July, 2017

Elixir des Merveilles by Hermès

I think I finally get this - and when I was offered a 30 ml in a swap, I decided to spring for it. It is by far the most bizarre of this entire "line" of scents (at what point does a flanker begin its own line?), and that is what made me come back - if this were labeled under Josh Lobb's Slumberhouse label, I believe it would have more approval - I mean, it is really weird...and wearable sometimes...but then it gets weird again. I like it like that.

Anyway, if you've always wished Josh would make an amber for the masses (he made "A", but that was not for the masses), and wondered what weird stuff you could do to amber, this is it...until Josh decides he wants to expand on "A" (hint hint).
23rd July, 2017

Amber Oudh by Rasasi

There's more going on here than just Amber and Oud. Tinged with a quiet Saffron a small bouquet of Rosy Florals supported by a Light white Musk.
Oud? Well,okay.Tonally yes.
A touch of Oud butter, Australian Sandalwood and polished bottling, Eau de Parfum labeling and it could sell beside the 500USD bottles.
Beautiful, Linear and a fine example of Eastern styling.
A cut above many other reasonably priced oils in the game.
23rd July, 2017
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Un Jardin Après La Mousson by Hermès

Beautiful sadness
As sun dries away water's
Fragrant sun promise.
22nd July, 2017

Explosions d’Emotions : Skin On Skin by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Any iris (orris root) in this perfume is playing a minor role. The smell reminds me of a consignment shop or second hand clothing store.
22nd July, 2017

Versace pour Homme Dylan Blue by Versace

Take Versace pour Homme, add the latest focus-group tested and approved aromachemicals in generous doses, and voilà! We have Versace Pour Homme Dylan Blue, a spicy-woody-aquatic featuring the dullest of spices, woods and aquatic elements but somehow managing to smell less dull and more jarring. Firmly belonging to the Sauvage-Invictus chemical factory, its olfactory assault is far less nuclear than those of its more illustrious peers. This favourable news is to be admitted with the perhaps unfavourable feature that Dylan Blue tries more to fit in, be a member of the pack, and be a ubiquitous offering of the post-modern, post-industrial, post-disinfectant world that is in perfect harmony with the concurrent heteronormative social hegemony. There is, indeed, an identity crisis at large.

Fortunately, any reference to Dylan Thomas or Bob Dylan is restricted to matters of nomenclature.

1.5/5
22nd July, 2017

Mon Parfum Chéri, par Camille by Annick Goutal

This does have the feel of an orris root fragrance, with quite a bit more going on. I suppose it's mostly the patchouli. It gives my nose the impression of peppery leather. I think it doesn't quite pass the litmus test of something I would wear from time to time, although the iris opening is promising, and it's an interesting, complex fragrance.
22nd July, 2017

17/17 Irisss by Xerjoff

A big, straightforward orris root fragrance, somewhat similar to Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist, with a distinct smell of roots, reminiscent of carrots. Not frilly. Some rose emerges in the base.
22nd July, 2017

London Oud by Fragrance Du Bois

Do you like fragrances that have oud on the label but barely smell of oud? Are you one of the few people who likes the YSL flanker L'Homme Libre, but wish it cost 20x more? If so, this is an exciting day folks - London Oud is here to answer your prayers!

That snarky intro isn't totally fair. There very well may be real Laotian oud in here, with its straight-laced lacquered tone and airy nuances of fruit, but I honestly think this smells 90% identical to L'Homme Libre. I do like L'Homme Libre quite a bit (the only L'Homme I like) therefore I also like London Oud. London Oud smells a bit more polished, softer, and rounder. Overall, it is more interesting.

For details of what London Oud smells like, check out reviews for the YSL, or get a sample from LuckyScent like I did (worth a sniff for $6). The pyramid for London Oud here is considerably different than that of the Fragrance du Bois website, which shares more notes with Libre, patchouli being the most important.

100ml of L'Homme Libre can be had for ~$45
100ml of London Oud can be had for ~$860

The latter smells of quality more so than the former, but I know which I'd pick.
22nd July, 2017

Badr Al Badour Attar by Amouage

This is one time when my experience of wearing a perfume was exactly like the note pyramid. I'm always looking for a beautiful rose/oud fragrance and thought perhaps this was the one. But no, the absolutely gorgeous rose makes a brief appearance and then the oud...continues on for ages.
22nd July, 2017
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom

Une Fleur de Cassie by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

The opening is a pleasant floral potpourri, with a nice jasmine in the foreground in my skin, accompanied by carnation and mimosa draped over a underlying carpet of a violet that blends in well as a backgound. This is a very agreeable start. The sweetness of this floral bouquet is quite restrained, which prevents it from suffocating the delightful
flowery top notes.

The drydown starts promising with a good rose impression, that assumes some fruity and aldehydic characteristics. This is less vivid and less intense than the beginning.

By the time the base notes with its mix of woods, tonka and white musky arise, they have become quite faint and are more shadows than real notes.

I get soft sillage, and adequate projection initially that gradually deteriorates, and five hours of longevity on me.

A spring daytime scent with a very commendable and satisfying, albeit not very original, beginning, which becomes increasingly anemic in intensity as well in the quality of the ingredients. Towards the end, it unfortunately has turned quite generic and lost structure. Overall 2.75/5.
22nd July, 2017

Felanilla 21 by Parfumerie Generale

Felanilla is an iris-heavy oriental perfume from 2008. It came on the heels of two other irises in the Parfumerie Generale Line: Iris Oriental (née Iris Taizo) in 2006 and Cuir d’Iris in 2007. The three were part of the ‘new iris’ trend of the mid-’00s that blurred the line between mainstream and niche. The Parfumerie Generale perfumes and other independent perfumes like Frederic Malle Iris Poudre, Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile and Ormonde Jayne Orris Noir were matched head-to-head by Dior Homme, Prada Infusion d’Iris and Gianfranco Ferre Ferre EDP.

Felanilla hit the scene at a very particular moment for iris. Niche perfumery was exploding and designer brands were keen to steal niche’s fire (and revenue). Guerlain, Cartier, Hermès, Dior, Chanel and the like were investing heavily in new ‘exclusive’ luxury sub-lines to lure niche customers out of LuckyScent, Osswald and Les Senteurs and into their own boutiques. Niche brands had always viewed themselves outside the mainstream. They were better than ‘ordinary’ perfumes because more inventive and more daring. The new high-end designer lines reversed the logic of the indies focusing on exclusivity rather than inventiveness. These new premier lines didn’t phrase themselves as outrageous or even as much different than their department store counterparts. They were simply more select and therefore more desirable. They were just better.

Iris was the perfect note to bridge the divide. (This was a heartbeat before oud.) Historically, orris denoted luxury and prestige. On a practical level, iris had an affinity with berry and chocolate notes on one side, sheer woody notes on another and powdery floral notes on still another. The versatility of the note created an effortless range from the sweet tooth of Guerlain Iris Ganache to the restraint of Chanel 28 La Pausa. The flexibility allowed for new sophisticated styles of gourmand perfumes at a time when a large cohort of young women were outgrowing the syrupy fruity-florals and cupcake gourmands they had worn for the past 5-10 years.

Felanilla veered away from the sweet end of the spectrum, but with a focus on vanilla it did comment on gourmandism, if obliquely. From a certain angle it smells like a dessert recipe that forgot the sugar. Like cough-syrup flavored buttercream icing. But the lack of sweetness had a point. It seems to say, ‘if you’re looking for sexy, the curves are in the vanilla, not in the sugar.’ From start to finish vanilla sits unadorned at the center of the perfume. It is fairly austere at the outset but gradually loosens its posture and settles into a more relaxed stance. A potent saffron note marks Felanilla as ‘of its era’ as much as the iris does, but the slight metallic touch it creates suits the overall firmness of the composition.

The iris and vanilla pairing might be a nod to Shalimar, but Felanilla skips the citrus lead-in and the sweet, smoky, powdery circus of the Guerlain classic. It freeze-dries the bulky classic oriental structure and shakes off the ornamentation, pairing down to essentials without a hint of nostalgia. Seen as an oriental, Felanilla doesn’t seem to fit any particular trends of the time. It does, though, compare interestingly to the ‘new irises’ that independent perfumers were devising at the time: Histoires de Parfums 1889, Serge Lutens Bas de Soie, le Labo Iris 39, l’Artisan Parfumeur Dzongkha, Parfum d’Empire Equistris. Guillaume had previously placed iris in a woody, savory-gourmand setting in Iris Oriental and against a sweet-leather backdrop in Cuir d’Iris. Felanilla continued the investigation of iris, focusing on the woody-balsamic range that Guillaume and the Parfumerie Generale line would become well-known for.

The state of the perfume market in the mid-late ’00s left me on the fence. I disliked the cynical trend of price-jacking that the exclusive lines fostered, but I loved the innovation that lead to exciting new approaches and styles. The trend of ‘new-irises’ might have been co-opted by the luxury houses, but it also gave us a broad range of imaginative and gorgeous perfumes. Guillaume’s irises capture the up-side of the time and have survived the test of time extremely well. 10 years later they compare favorably to any iris perfumes that have come along since.
22nd July, 2017

Oil Fiction by Juliette Has a Gun

The opening few seconds seemed like a promising, simple perfume, but it started going through a rough patch within a couple minutes, becoming more complex, or fractured, and smelling to me like cleaning product, with modern woody notes added. I found this period borderline offensive. Into the base, the woods and the floral notes came together more harmoniously, and almost worked for me, with maybe just one ingredient putting me off.
21st July, 2017 (last edited: 22nd July, 2017)
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17/17 Irisss by Xerjoff

Stardate 20170721:

A good Iris fragrance. Makeup kind of iris. This lacks their signature base- which is a good thing.
There is some woods in the drydown and some other notes up top but Iris is the main focus and gets more prominent once the top is gone.

Their Iris and their Rose(damarose) are great and others meh. Maybe they should stick to soliflores.
21st July, 2017

Acqua di Giò Profumo by Giorgio Armani

White clouds of incense
Freed from marble's beauty by
Muses with chain saws.
21st July, 2017

Charriol pour Homme Eau de Parfum by Charriol

Not sure why anyone would think this is similar to 1Million by Paco Rabanne. This isn't even close to my nose. This starts ok but does smell rather "cheap". At the moment I believe this has something similar that I have smelled in other cheapies... That note that isn't going to be a compliment getting note at all. I believe this is slightly unisex also. More of a winter fragrance too... Overall I give it a neutral due to a pleasant start and ok dry down... the middle 2 to 4 hours is meh! Try before you buy (although you can find this online for less than 40 dollars) and one day I will follow my own advice lol.
21st July, 2017

Private Collection - Un Crime Exotique by Parfumerie Generale

The spice cabinet has been neglected in perfumery. I imagine this has to do with perfume producers not wanting to be pinned down by the literal, the prosaic, the kitchen. From the consumer perspective, I don’t know if there is much of a market for culinary spice perfumery, but the need is probably met by aromatherapeutic products. I know that there are others spicy/bakery/culinary perfumes: Tauer’s Eau d’Epices, Lutens Five O’Clock au Gingembre, l’Artisan’s Tea for Two, but I’ve never tried them.

I do see a train of thought that goes from Estée Lauder Cinnabar/Dior Opium to Serge Lutens Arabie to Un Crime Exotique, though. For each of these, the spice is in the syrup. A syrupy quality in perfume usually implies an overt sweetness. Generally, in terms of nose feel, syrup = sweetness + viscosity + flavor. The flavor might be vanilla, maple, cinnamon, cardammom. The ‘flavor’ is the spice. Crime Exotique skips the implied syrup (Cinnabar) and the overt syrup (Arabie) and takes the spice in a different direction. The touch of syrup that Crime Exotique gives you is firmly grounded in clove, one of the few cold spices. The chilly blast of clove in the topnotes of the perfume surround you at first but subside by about 80% fairly quickly. The syrup goes the way of the clove hurricane, and Crime is soon revealed as a woody perfume. When not drowned in sweetness, spices like clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, even ginger are shown to be characteristically woody in scent.

Un Crime Exotique takes the wood and runs with it. What appeared to be syrup is actually more of a resinous quality that the perfume builds on to make a rich woody floral. The perfume settles into a cool vanillic range that maintains the drying, antiseptic character of the clove, but links it to a floral quality. Parfumerie Generale list osmanthus among the notes.

Un Crime Exotique flirts with the gift-shop candle vibe, but is just nuanced enough to escape. The opening notes of the perfume are a refrigerated blast where clove overpowers virtually all the other notes. The heart is evenly balanced, and the spicy, woody and floral notes move around one another respectfully. The drydown gets a bit grey, non-descript. It smells like a muffled version of Lutens Un Bois Vanille’s cool, woody vanilla. A little blurred, but not bad at all.

from scenthurdle.com
21st July, 2017

Don't Get Me Wrong Baby, I Don't Swallow by Etat Libre d'Orange

Well, flowers! jasmine! lily of the valley! nice orange flower tinge, not over sweet or rather floral rather than cloying sweet, just a bunch of polleny summery exhuberance!

It's really jasminey to me but sweet and clean rather than sultry. The LOTV is also there in force. The 'concept' seems to be some laboured notion that it's a wedding 'put a ring on it if you want to hit it' tale - sometimes I wonder if whoever is behind this nonsense at ELDO (the copywriting, not the perfumes which are often really good) realises that much of their stuff is quite male chauvinist - or is it all too post-modern for criticism?

Anyway, the scent sings of summer, and there's almost a (suntan) lotion thing going on there as well as the bouquet. It's very sniffable, and I'm interested to see how this turns out.

Just went off and read a few reviews and the blurb - I really do not get the comparisons to Diorissimo, unless things in Dior land have changed dramatically since I last got a bottle of Diorissimo. DGMWB is very floral and doesn't have the lovely greenness of Diorissimo at all.

A few hours later and it's a close to the skin fizzy floral with a vanilla/choc/coffee sweetness in the background.
20th July, 2017

Sarrasins by Serge Lutens

Stardate 20170720:

To me this is a best Jasmine fragrance. A jasmine soliflore.

I like jasmine smell but it comes at a cost- fecal indoles. Therefore a jasmine heavy fragrance is generally a pass for me.

The beauty of Sarrasins is that it captures the jasmine and leaves out most of the fecal bits.

And the jasmine is strong.

Borrowing from what jujy54 and purecaramel wrote - Post-coital heavenly bliss in a bed of jasmine flowers


20th July, 2017

Replica Promenade In the Gardens by Martin Margiela

My sample was far too small and gone too soon. I can write, that I enjoyed this one. I could detect everything but the vetiver. If I ever get another sample I shall "live" with it more, get to know it better. What I did smell of this, it was a medium-weight chypre-style, floral woody concoction full of diffused light. Like a huge, leafy garden in late afternoon. Blooms dangling above me, with a summer heat forcing their scent downward.
20th July, 2017

Boss Nuit pour Femme by Hugo Boss

It's wearable. Not much more. It is a boring, mostly peach scent. The aldehydes are barely there. It falls flat in aroma and longevity. The white flowers are barely noticeable upon drying. Not very creative.

What is it with peach? Do perfumers say, "Hey! Peach is a cheap ingredient. We'll use that!". It seems to be prominent in most designer fragrances these days. Maybe that is the reason I am veering away from designer offerings and am exploring more niche...
20th July, 2017
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom

Ormonde by Floris

This opening is traditional: jasmine - dominating the first minutes, and complemented by a somewhat bland rose, but soon overshadowed by the grand star of this performance - and what a performance - the oak moss. Natural, intensive, rich but crisp, full but on the harsh side, although the the harshnessIs never as grating as, for instance, in the great Gucci Nobile - Ormonde is a bit less in your face, but only a bit.

In the drydown there are variations in the development: a great and convincing fern impression Is added - how much more chypre can a scent get? The mossy mixture then takes on a transiently greener turn, with a grassy character.

The base develops a pleasant musky undertone, but until the end the oakmoss is dominantly in the foreground, fading out very slowly.

The performance is thundering: strong sillage, excellent projection and a tremendous, astronomical longevity of seventeen hours on my skin! Unbelievable.

This is a wonderful classic fougère that is made for spring, with less emphasis on the floral side but nonetheless well balanced. The oak moss is of amazing quality, one of the best I have come across for a long time. A masterpiece form Floris. 4/5
20th July, 2017

MEM by Bogue Profumo

MEM covers a lot of ground and it covers it quickly. When first sprayed it moves too fast for precise description and feels more like slam poetry than anything olfactory. It’s a 'Tomato-Jasmine Waxed-Sultry-Jam Malted Milk-Tuned Rubber Gasoline-Flame, Drop-The-Mic-And-Howl' sort of perfume. It’s a rush.

MEM is Antonio Gardoni’s discourse on lavender and it is packed with lavender. Lavender is never hidden, but you might give a double-take on recognizing it. MEM combines identifiable clues and completely new shapes and never settles for one definition of lavender. It knocks lavender from its comfortable perch in the pantheon of perfume materials and makes it sing for its supper. Working with a material like lavender has two specific risks. The first is that it is one of the most well-known material in fragrance and is consequently predictable. Trying to make it say anything new is difficult. The second is that changing the rules will always threaten a percentage of people. Dismantling an olfactory ‘baseline’ is like pulling out the rug. MEM might very well find a good portion of its audience in a state of distress or disorientation.

MEM is also something new for Gardoni. His previous perfumes for Bogue were an out-and-out interrogation of 20th century perfumery. (*) MEM doesn’t look to the past as these other perfumes did. It does however share their sense of provocation. These perfumes were conceptual and they were daring. Their success was made more meaningful in large part because they risked failure so unwaveringly. MEM’s risk of failure is just as great. The challenge is not just how to make a novel lavender perfume, it’s how to win people over to ‘The New Lavender.’ Anyone remember New Coke?

As an olfactory object, lavender is weighted down by associations. It’s floral, herbal, medicinal, antiseptic. It’s grand-dad’s aftershave, it’s the grocery store wipes, it’s the pastry from the bakery. It’s everywhere. Gardoni confronts lavender’s dual tragic flaw: familiarity and predictability. Rather than try to ‘reinvent’ lavender per se, Gardoni’s trick is to make it unexpected.

A set of almost tropical floral tones steers clear of typical depictions and frees lavender from associations with aromatherapy, cleaning products and the barbershop. The perfume sidesteps the top-heart-base pyramid without settling for a linear model and the progression of the perfume has a deceptively wandering feel. An expressive collection of woods braces the perfume and a pack of animalic notes come and go as if prowling through the perfume. MEM meticulously avoids lavender’s clichés and none of the old chestnuts (leafy greens, sudsy soap, chilly mothballs, shaving cream) find their way into the mix. By peeling away lavender’s expected characteristics and altering its momentum, Gardoni renders it abstract and bends it to his purposes.

At times the perfume seems to create a broad olfactory milieu and has a striding, environmental scale. But even when it’s impressionistic (sap, soil, metal and sunlight—-oh, an afternoon working in a garden) it’s remarkably specific. The accords pass by steadily, giving the feeling of being taken on a guided tour of the objects in an imagined olfactory Cornell Box. A waxed grapefruit. Carmelized tomatoes. Flowers, champagne, cats and brackish water. A bizarre collection of images? Sure, but also elegant and logical. 

The success of the perfume hangs on building new chains of association—-constructing a new lavender. I don’t get the impression that Gardoni is making an emotional appeal or trying to woo you. Rather, what he gives the audience is a richness, and more important, a clarity of ideas to play with as they care to. Whether or not the odd olfactory images—- coconut woods, grape-soda white flowers, doggedness, clay-rich soil, rubber citrus bark, dappled markings, orange jam, flat beer, leather-soled shoes—-speak to you or not, they have a precision that lets you string together the pieces to suit your own inclinations. I feel like I’ve been handed an extraordinary coloring-book and some crayons in gorgeous hues that I’ve never seen before. There’s no need to worry too much about creating an image—-the lines are drawn. I’m just having a blast discovering these new colors.

The coloring-book analogy might sound ridiculous, but I’ve found a playful mindset is an effective line of approach to MEM. For all the specificity of the perfume, I’m reminded how scrupulously Gardoni avoided getting caught in a single definition of lavender. Lavender enters this discussion as possibly the most overdetermined note in perfumery and Gardoni’s role was to free it. There is an appealing modesty to the way Gardoni helps you find your own lavender rather than convince you of his.

from scenthurdle.com
20th July, 2017

Feu Secret by Bruno Fazzolari

Feu Secret is an exploration of orris, a tricky material to describe in notes. Combined with other components in a composition it has an olfactory range of that lands it squarely in the woody-floral category. Of course orris butter can also make a perfume powdery, metallic, papery, chocolatey or yeasty depending on the angle of approach so to speak. It fixes fragrant materials so that even highly volatile topnotes coast a little bit further into the heart of a perfume.

The woody floral genre has a long history of dowdiness. To most people it is the brown tweed suit of fragrance. Practical, sturdy, steady. Pedigreed but dull. Fazzolari updates the genre and reinvigorates it. He modulates a central iris/violet accord with an astringent cedarwood and an unexpected mix of herbs and aromatics. I struggle to identify the specific aromatic materials, but I recognize their properties. Warm, chilly, piquant, bitter. The hot and cold aromatics temper the orris. They divert the iris note from its anticipated trajectory and allow Feu Secret to break from the tradition of staid woody florals.

The topnotes lead with a papery, chilled iris. This cool characterization of iris is recognizable, but Feu Secret doesn't follow a predictable course. Chanel 19’s acetone, Iris Silver Mist’s frozen carrot and Masque Milano l’Attesa’s cardboard all lean in this direction. Fazzolari’s twist is to play up the common ground of iris and violet notes, painting a spectrum from platinum violet leaf through cyanotic grey iris root to a pale mauve violet flower. In the heartnotes the frost thaws and releases a sweaty note reminiscent of both skin and dough. It’s a transitional olfactory image, but one that gives Feu Secret an intimate feel. By drydown the pairing of orris and cedar create a warm unctuousness similar to creamy sandalwood.

Secret Fire is a term borrowed from alchemy, an ancient practice that summons images of wizards feverishly trying to turn base materials into gold. But alchemy was in fact an organized system that attempted to reconcile the physical world and the unseen forces that acted on it. Think of it as chemistry with a dash of physics and a huge helping of magical thinking. Secret Fire was the much coveted ability of alchemists to harness a material's hidden animating properties and transform it to their will. Alchemists famously chased a ‘universal solvent’ called Azoth that divided materials into their fundamental elements and allowed them to be manipulated by alchemists who possessed the Secret Fire.

Fazzolari’s universal solvent is orris butter. He uses it to reveal fundamental properties and break down the other materials into the classical elements of alchemy. Turmeric ignites and becomes fire. Eucalyptus is a cool plunge into water. Pink Pepper takes flight and dissolves into air while cedar’s roots clutch the soil and become earth. Fazzolari tames the elements and creates a perfume of measured contrasts. His perfumes have a thoughtful, deliberate quality, but Feu Secret gives a glimpse further. In the 21st century artists are the closest thing we have to alchemists and their secret fire is their ability to transform us with their work.

from scenthurdle.com
20th July, 2017

Mon Guerlain by Guerlain

So, what is the recipe for a big-budget, got-to-be-successful, no-room-for-error, if-you-build-it-they-will-come perfume? To judge by Guerlain’s approach: Mix equal parts imitation, predictability and risk aversion in a large bowl. Bake in a lukewarm focus-group until stale. Sprinkle with olfactory least common denominators. Serve in a bottle replete with historical Awethenticity™. Buon appetito.

Am I cynical? Clearly, but I can’t hold a candle to Guerlain.

With Mon Guerlain Thierry Wasser proves he isn’t so much the successor to Jean-Paul Guerlain as he is the heir to Jacques Guerlain. Jacques was known for nicking someone else’s ideas (namely, François Coty’s) and making them better. Wasser attempts a Jacques Guerlain with two perfumes: Lancome’s end-of -the-world-as-we-know-it lollipop, La Vie Est Belle, and Mugler’s iconic poison-apple, Angel. The drag is that Mon Guerlain drowns in the syrup of the former but forgets the atonal war-cry of the latter. Angling between these two perfumes Guerlain casts its net as wide as possible, hoping for a hit that would break all box-office records.

The complication is that Guerlain looks to two perfumes that, though they both got a whole lotta ethylmaltol going on, are diametrically opposed. Angel might have launched two decades of straight-faced gourmand perfumes but it did so inadvertently. It was anything but straight. Angel’s cotton-candy is counterbalanced by an enormous inedible chemo-floral note and an earthy patchouli. It smells sweet, but it’s pure venom. La Vie Est Belle has no nuance, no subtext. It’s pure candy. Wasser’s Mon Guerlain looks for an easy reconciliation of the two perfumes because they are both overdosed with ethylmaltol. He misses the point that Angel, twenty five years later, is still a motherfucking monster. La Vie Est Belle on the other hand is the most vanillla of Disney fairy princesses.

Wasser uses lavender to twist Mon Guerlain into a taffy fougère. Pouring it into a version of the brand’s historical quadrilobe bottle is an attempt to draw a connection to Guerlain’s classic, sweet fougère Jicky, but don’t believe the hype. Despite the deception a list of notes provides, Mon Guerlain has no relationship to Jicky.

from scenthurdle.com
20th July, 2017

Cinnabar by Estée Lauder

Spicy, resinous amber perfumes are a feel-good genre in perfumery. The individual components (vanilla, benzoin, labdanum…) are like prefab bases and can single-handedly provide the blueprint for an Oriental perfume. The risk is the kitchen-sink syndrome.

Cinnabar's topnotes juxtapose a bright, aldehyde/bergamot accord against a boozy amber mix, a trick learned from Youth Dew. The segue from citrus to sweet brings out the matte, rubbery side of amber, but it doesn't jibe well with the vanillic undercurrent and the custard doesn't quite settle. Despite aldehydic jazz hands the topnotes don't have nearly enough torque to dig the spices out of the trenches. Little light escapes the cinnamon/clove event horizon and wearing Cinnabar gives me olfactory claustrophobia. It's a quick journey from the topnotes to the perfume’s next and only other phase, drydown, which lasts from the 30 minute mark until about 24 hours later. Cinnabar does grow less dense as the half-lives pass but it never becomes any less opaque.

Cinnabar might have cribbed some tricks from Auntie Youth Dew, but it should have studied history more closely. The pairing of citrus/aromatics and balsams was the compositional coup of the 1920s. Shalimar and Habanita steered the pairing toward leather and Nuit de Noel and Bois des Isles went the cozy fur-coat route but they all share a similar design concept.

The perfumes of the 1970s and the 1920s had a lot in common. Aldeyhydic florals were chic as hell and bitter chypres were all the rage, but the voluptuous orientals were the shit. Cinnabar and its exact contemporaries Yves Saint Laurent Opium and Lancome Magie Noire reinvented animalsim via spice and opened the door to a new style of oriental perfume that Chanel put on the map with Coco, Bois Noir and Egoiste.

The identity of the perfumer of Cinnabar is not 100% certain, but rumor has it that it was Bernard Chant. For the life of me I can't imagine that the perfumer of Cabochard and Aromatics Elixir didn't know how to square the bergamot/amber circle. If he is in fact Cinnabar's author, I have to imagine that the fault lies in reformulation. Chant was just too good to be credited with the murky version of the perfume available today.

The proof will be in the pudding. I've just found an unopened bottle of the original Cinnabar ("Soft Youth Dew") on ebay and it's en route. It'll go head-to-head with a pristine bottle of YSL Opium that I recently found. More to follow.

from scenthurdle.com
20th July, 2017

cK one by Calvin Klein

A friend brought up CK One yesterday in a discussion. The Calvin Klein names sound the same to me and it only clicked which CK perfume this was when I remembered the advertising campaign. The teenage faux-grunge advertising. Oy.

I’ll tell you how it is that I’ve never smelled CK One before: target marketing works. In 1994 and I was 30, or twice the age of the target audience. I lived in New York and CK One advertising was public. In 1994, before social media, targeting simply wasn’t very precise. Rather than aiming, Calvin Klein flooded. Billboards, television, magazines and newspapers, subway posters. I had to swerve to avoid it. If CK One launched today I’d simply never see it. It just wouldn’t show up in any of my feeds.

CK One was intended for a young audience, but the images were in everyone’s face, so a sort of self-recusal took place on-by-one. The perfume appealed to you or not, depending largely on whether the story being created included you. Imagery that read as cool/aspirational to the 21 year old who found the ads exciting didn’t appeal to me. Thin, world-weary teens playing Peter Pan meets Lord of the Flies? It screamed significance in fashion patois, but the post-grunge styling was years late and a shoddy attempt to cop a style from a subculture. The CK One campaign started a few months after Kurt Cobain killed himself. The notion of Calvin Klein trying to catch some momentum from grunge at this particular time was repugnant.

So I opted out. I was obliged to continue to see the images—I mean, I rode the subways—but that was the end of my participation. The contempt wore off after about a week. Then I just navigated the images until the next thing came along and replaced them—a classic New York experience of my time.

I remember a couple of details about the perfume. It was ‘unisex.’ I was surprised that they made a big deal of it—was unisex that novel an idea? Also, the fragrance was supposed to be contemporary and clean. SO contemporary and SO clean that it was somehow beyond scent.

So I tried CK One ‘cold’ yesterday for the first time. I’ve never read about the perfume itself. I have a bottle of CK One and some 25 year old recollections of the launch.

CK One smells like it was intended to convey hygiene yet go unnoticed. It’s there, but it claims not to intrude into your consciousness. There’s been years of discussion about the contradiction and denial involved in fragrances trying to smell like nothing, so I’m sure applying the notion to CK One is nothing new. But CK One smells like a very specific nothing. It’s conceptual: a ‘clean’ fragrance + a masking fragrance = an impulse of purity. It allows you to feel invigorated without the invasiveness and effort of having to exhibit a clean scent. From the angle of 2017, hygienic fragrances seem very ’90s-specific, but for all I know, CK One invented the approach.

Of course the premise that two opposing olfactory forces will nullify each other doesn’t actually work on a practical level. Instead, you’re left with the remnants of a scent, like dry-cleaning chemicals that cling to your clothing. The perfume ends up locked in a cycle of constantly trying to invalidate itself. It might have been intended to be uncomplicated and undemanding, but it’s no surprise that it smells like effort and tension. (Cute bottle, though.)

It also smells like diet soda and Febreze, which wouldn’t exist for another another 4 years. I give CK One enormous credit for its methodically synthetic tone. It comes across as calculated and legible. I had never smelled it before yesterday, and yet it instantly smelled like an era. If CK One’s goal was to create a new style of fragrance, my experience points out how successful it was.

from scenthurdle.com
20th July, 2017

En Passant by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

En Passant is a consummate spring scent. It balances a cool, aquatic heart with soil-like accents to recreate the tension at the center of lilac—the crispness that doesn’t quite disguise an oily nature. I’ve seen En Passant described as muted and pastel, euphemisms for vague, washed-out fragrances, but there’s too much shadow and undertow in En Passant for it to be considered bloodless. Giacobetti might play with simplicity but she doesn’t settle for it and she doesn’t spare the cream in the recipe. The perfume is padded precisely where it needs to be. En Passant’s semblance of simplicity is a red herring, though. It might come off as spare but it conceals a sophisticated approach and becomes more detailed the closer you look.

A lot has been made of the perfume’s cucumber and wheat notes, how they modulate the central floral accord and keep it from becoming too sweet, too simple. It’s true that the accord is unexpected. And it’s remarkably effective in creating the detail that lets the perfume simultaneously portray a single flower and an entire season. But embedded in the accord like drop of ink in paper is a waxy/nutty, almost tactile facet. It widens the central floral sketch and gives the perfume’s trail weight and momentum.

Depending on whom you talk with En Passant is either an essay on rain, a sort of modern descendant of Après l’Ondée, or a lilac soliflor. Impressionism or representation. Visual art terms only have ballpark accuracy when applied to perfume.

Representation is tricky and the assumption that recreating ‘nature’ is perfume’s highest modality is still widespread. Giacobetti, like Roudnitska before her, challenged the premise. His answer to the question of how perfume relates to nature was to compose a detailed muguet soliflor still life. From her fig perfumes for Diptyque and l’Artisan Parfumeur to her carrots, irises and roses Giacobetti offers a succession of solutions to Roudnitska’s question, as if to imply that there are at least as many explanations as there are subjects. With En Passant, she creates a faithful lilac soliflor at the same time that she offers a more upbeat vision of a rainy day than Jacques Guerlain’s. It’s a fantastic accomplishment for a seemingly simple lilac soliflor.

from scenthurdle.com
20th July, 2017

Je Suis Un Homme by Etat Libre d'Orange

Je Suis un Homme is a bigarade type cologne with lots of clove on opening. I know very little about classic men's perfumes and can't comment on what it resembles. However, the clove makes the first stage more interesting and deeper than a simple citrus burst.

After a few minutes it's nice and spicy but still cooling - it doesn't go cloying like some of the more fougère types.

Later, it gets a bit spicier with some cinnamon or ginger added to the clove, and a bit of the fougère woodiness that can sometimes go headachey on me but ok so far.
20th July, 2017

Antihéros by Etat Libre d'Orange

Antihéros starts out with a sweetish lavender and a hint of nail varnish remover which thankfully dissipates quickly. The lavender deepens quickly. I like lavender as a smell but never associate it with perfume. I was thinking Antihéros was a bit pale, and took a sniff of some lavender bubble bath that's hanging around the bathroom. The ELDO is much stronger and clearer. Maybe my mind's smellograph for lavender is of the plant itself, dried sprigs of lavender, or lavender oil. In any case, I guess Antihéros is actually plenty strong for a perfume/cologne, as it develops. In fact, it is very simple and quite soapy. In view of the company's self-promotion as iconoclasts, I keep waiting for something crazy to happen, but so far it's linear lavender..
20th July, 2017
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