Perfume Reviews

Latest Perfume Reviews

Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche

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

Rykiel Rose by Sonia Rykiel

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

Rêve en Cuir by Indult

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very Sexy Attraction for Men by Victoria's Secret

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

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

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

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

Lune de Givre by Cloon Keen Atelier

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

Dunhill Edition by Dunhill

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

11th February, 2016

L'Inspiratrice by Divine

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

Knize Ten by Knize

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

Endymion by Penhaligon's

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

Beckham Signature for Him by Beckham

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

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

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

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

Sirr Al Hobb by Ajmal

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

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

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

True Love by Elizabeth Arden

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

White Jasmine by Zara

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

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

Lady Stetson by Stetson

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

Elixir by Shakira

Why am I, a lover of all things stinky and 'old man,' reviewing a Shakira release? Who knows? Let's go!

Right off we get a clean jasmine and peony duo, so it's going to be a naturally sweet ride. Very little, if any, of the listed pepper to my nose. Perhaps it is toning down the sweetness in a way I simply have yet to notice? The apricot enters the mix, like a peach long since sucked dry. A weighty coterie of almost-vanillas make up the base, which makes the whole smell somewhere between buttercream or marshmallows. This fragrance barely changes at all through its course - some of the florals diminish a bit, and that's it. No showmanship, just a soft cuddle buddy of a scent. This is certainly in the vein of Princess and Fancy but is more pared down and to the point. Very little of interest to me but overall Elixir is a decent option for young gals looking for a vanilla floral which doesn't just make one smell of cake.
11th February, 2016

Number 1 for Men by Clive Christian

Number 1 for Men by Clive Christian is a very floral chypre that could easily be considered on the feminine side of unisex fragrance spectrum. I have not seen the notes list for Number 1, but the opening is lemony bergamot that leads immediately into a jasmine floral blend which smells like: rose, carnation, lilly of the valley, heliotrope, possibly Ylang along with jasmine which has a baroque elegance of florals. Smells quite good, uplifting and slightly sweet. The base is a generic combination sandalwood, patchouli, cedar, tonka, vanilla, possibly some cinnamon although not heavy. There are many notes in here and you sense the dancing around of florals as in a Mozart Sonata. Is it similar to Patou pour Homme or Versailles pour homme by Jean Desperez? Yes, it has a resemblance to these greats but lacks balance within the complexity of floral and wood notes. No. 1 smells great especially at arms length distance where it projects artful elegance that is a rarity in mens fragrance today. This would be a perfect formal or "black tie" event fragrance. It is not my favorite, but I would recommend it with assurance for any fan of floral perfume.
10th February, 2016 (last edited: 11th February, 2016)

Kingdom by Alexander McQueen

As usual I’ve a bit of a hard time with fragrances known for being “skanky”, “dirty”, “animalic” and in broader terms, “challenging”. Because they never really seem so to me. And this is the case of Kingdom, too. It’s a fantastic fragrance, that’s for sure, but I get really nothing dirty or skanky here. Either I’m too used to live in the dirt myself, or have dated particularly clean people, because I get really no smell of sweat or “ladies’ parts” (let alone “man’s crotches”) here, or whatever other kinky stuff. Kingdom seems to me basically a complex, yet actually surprisingly mannered blend revolving around notes of rose, sandalwood, musk and cumin with a dark ambery-mossy base accord, and a silky frame of whiter floral notes. Surely not a light scent, and I see how a hefty dose of rose combined with an equally generous dose of cumin on a thick load of musk and woods can result into something “carnal”, alluring, almost intoxicating, but it doesn’t really seem anything particularly “skanky” or challenging to wear to me. It’s just more very vibrant, warm, refined and sensual, surely much “human” and somehow “carnal”, but not exactly dirty to me. Also as I said, it seems actually quite more mannered and smooth than I thought – not a “bomb”, really. It’s surely rich and deep, but not loud or more powerful than many others. It’s very velvety actually. Most vintage chypres are way more dirty, loud and challenging than this.

Anyway, aside from the fact it smells truly good, absolutely quality and surprisingly versatile (not sure why but in some way, this reminds me of a rose-spicy version of Yohji Homme, with a touch of something androgynous), the reason why I really like Kingdom and consider it a totally worthy gem is because of its charming complexity. That kind of intricated complexity that presents you a very harmonic, balanced, perfectly consistent blend that at first seems almost comprising only a small bunch of notes... until you get captured into it, and thrown among the myriad of nuances it has. And it’s like in a well-written poem – everything is in the perfect place, with a perfect timing. You don’t even have to pay that attention actually; you can wear it and forget about it, it will all come to you. Eventually you’ll get whiffs and echoes of carnation, amber, mossy notes, gentle powdery-floral notes, hard spices, even something resembling to silky orange blossoms (I guess the top citrus-neroli notes combined with the “whiter/softer” side of musk), just as if you’re wearing a half dozen of different scents, with an astounding clarity even in the tiniest, most ephemeral details. And yet, you’re always wearing just this one. It’s a peculiar effect some scents have – to release “minor” notes and nuances erratically during their evolution, and yet to keep their, say, “main structure”. I mean, it’s not that it changes or evolves dramatically – ironically it doesn’t that much. A pretty linear scent, in fact. But it has this cinematic effect of releasing coming-and-going nuances throughout its evolution, behind the main consistent structure of rose-cumin-sandalwood-musk, which makes wearing Kingdom a captivating, vibrant, extremely fulfilling experience. And anyway it smells just great, deep and classy, it lasts long without being obtrusive or challenging. Total quality. Prices today are really crazy for this, but you wouldn’t probably regret the purchase – even just to keep it as a reference collector’s item (or a beautiful piece of design... I mean, look at that bottle!).

10th February, 2016

Popy Moreni by Popy Moreni

This was a rare 'first sniffer' to me, in that I liked it right away. The sweetened coffee and geranium tones, along with that lovably waxy-woody-chalky base of heliotrope, amber, and woods reminded me instantly of the later Yohji Homme and Belle en Rykiel. I love coffee-based 'almost gourmands' which reel in the sweetness and explore the savory side of coffee, citrus, and florals without relying heavily on being vanillic. I only ever found a sample of this by chance, but to me this is dynamite.
10th February, 2016

Poupée by Rochas

This reminds me of a bunch of scents from around '99 when the herbal-Oriental theme had run dry and experimentation lead to some weird creations which tried to be too many things at once. Poupee is on the lighter side of the weird scale but the pineapple and nutmeg combo reminds me far too much of the olfactory car crash that is Viking by Royal Copenhagen. Poupee dodges that level of unbalance by avoiding any piney themes, instead keeping things fresh and distinctly amber/floral thereafter. It is curious and playful, and unlike any other Rochas I know.
10th February, 2016

Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia by Guerlain

A creamy white floral affair, unfairly toploaded and with little to nothing to offer after the first hour. I appreciate the restraint showed with the vanilla, which is here just used to bolster any missing sweetness from the distillation of certain naturally buttery plants. Not bad, but I am at a loss as to what hole in Guerlain's repertoire this was supposed to fill.
10th February, 2016

White Shoulders by Elizabeth Arden

A delightfully natural smelling amalgamation of white floral scents - lily, honeysuckle, gardenia, tuberose, and possibly carnation (may be a trick of the blending). Almost impossibly clean and straightforward presentation. Very well done but ultimately unexciting. I do wish the aldehydes had more impact. Given its relative weakness in terms of projection it is surprisingly durable as a skin scent. While I prefer a little danger, dirt, or depth, I can't really say anything bad about this one. I can not yet attest to the quality of the current version.
10th February, 2016

Tous l'Eau Eau de Toilette by Tous

An oddly strong smoky vetiver base makes this lighthearted citrus frag smell like a body mist which narrowly avoided a house fire. It is unexciting but very fresh smelling, and if it was worn by a man no one would ever call him on it. A simple pleasure.
10th February, 2016

Pathetique by O'Driù

Pathetique unexpectedly blows my old synapses as one of the absolutely best Pregoni's eccentric creations. Honestly a great surprise that anyway just confirms the Angelo Orazio's (by many of us yet well known) immense olfactory talent. Previously a praising word over all the others: uniqueness, yes, a rare quality, veritable peculiarity. Honestly I've never tested on skin something really close to this elusive stuff and while my interconnective nose enjoys playing the game of connections I can't seriously pick up a juice really-really similar to O'Driu' Pathetique. Second, I catch in here a remarkable "detachment/departure" from the classic O'driuesque vegetal-culinary (basically visceral, rural) "apparatus" since I get in here something far more modern, velvety, refined/silky, lounge/ambient and kind of fancy-chic. The juice starts by soon less bitter-sparkling (than usual for the brand) and more silky, something immediately more approachable and wearable (and it does not mean at all banal, synthetic or simplistic). I could find out vague (but really vague, somewhat evanescent) points in common with scents a la Slumberhouse Ore, Tom Ford Noir de Noir (the previously mentioned scents being the ones more "relatively" closely conjuring me Pathetique), Cacharel Nemo, several Histoires de Parfums or Parfum d'Empire Cuir Ottoman (considered in particular scant moments of its run) but Pathetique is something basically diverse and I frankly find quite hard picking up around the right words to fully describe its dodgy substance and the main shades of the final aroma. First of all this creative stuff is a semi-gourmand with buttery-leathery (kind of simil suedish) and gassy molecules imo. What does the juice seem smelling like? Well, frankly I get a musky-resinous (the base) accord of (ostensible) powdery iris (or stuffs like that), vegetal mold (mushrooms??), slightly buttery cocoa, pepper/nutmeg, frankincense, smooth vetiver, suede, wax and something bitter/herbal/licoricey (could it be the note of amyris??). Anyway, probably the officially listed notes are just partial or incomplete since I can't stop catching the overmentioned "presences" on skin. The juice starts kind of liquorous, spicy, incensey and leathery. Opening is pure heaven, you can catch by soon mild piquant spices go merging with something almost buttery, mossy and darkly dusty (kind of cocoa conjuring). I get woods, powdery floral notes, something bitter-earthy and a final wave of silky suede and oakmoss. This modern mystical approach hides a more classic woodsy-ambery-aromatic (warmly chypre, subtle, refined and classic/distinguished) dry down. The balance is superb, also the more "molecular" opening is anyway "well measured" and tamed. The inebriating hypnotic dustiness (pepper, piquant sweet spices, kind of powdered sugar and frankincense) is always on this side of the fence and the silky-fancy dry down is quite dry (almost poudre) and softly talky (in a darkly woody/amberish way). The general atmosphere is quite elusive, bright/dark (chiaroscuro), vaguely gassy and "transfigured". A devilish sleight of hand by Angelo Orazio Pregoni, an aroma's illusionist, an alchemical wizard, a real painter in perfumery (one of the very few in the niche section), a profoundely struggling soul which expresses itself far better by manipulating aromatic notes than by useless words (respectfully, yes, since words are useless if you are such a talented creator). Keep on inebriating us Angelo and let your creations telling everything.
09th February, 2016 (last edited: 10th February, 2016)

Opus VI by Amouage

Probably because my reference Amber is 114 and a collection of Middle Eastern Resinous Oils, I find Opus Six more of a Frankincense, High Quality Synthetic concoction.
The Ambranum, Z11 (Whatever that is)and Chinois Pepper combine to provide an irritant that tickles my Carnal Nerve Centers and a heat to draw my breath away.
A Citrus note balances with counterpoint, to highlight a gorgeous, non bitter and dusty Frankincense.
09th February, 2016

No. 10 White Oud by Agonist

A pleasant offering by a brand I haven’t really the highest consideration for. White Oud opens with plushy white musks infused with a nutty-camphor vibe and a sort of subtle, bright floral-fruity top nuance, as much pale as clearly defined (I mean – not a generic floral accord, just crisp precise floral notes with a very ethereal, therefore “pale” substance). Mostly the first minutes are all about clean, Helmug Lang-esque musks though, that sort of lab-like, greyish “laundry” feel with a very peculiar sort of cold, hard, slightly mineral-salty vibe (I think caused by the base notes of cypriol and woody aromachemicals), which creates a sort of thin, yet stout feel of, say, “marble paper”, if that makes sense. Thin as paper, yet robust as a rock. It’s quite hard to describe, but if that helps, you can think of something halfway Helmut Lang Eau de Cologne and L’Artisan’s Timbuktu painted in white icy watercolours.

Then, cypriol emerges together with the tonka-woody accord dusted with patchouli, or better say the way round – the top notes (floral, mostly, and the sweetest, plushiest, “soap-like” side of musks) fade away and tone down considerably, which is quite unusual for musks. White Oud gets then drier, woodier, still “white-grey” in an aloof, concrete-like way, and to this extent there’s some distant connections to another musky “cold” scent – Narciso for Him, mostly for this same similar “concrete” vibe. White Oud smells more thin than that though, and also considerably more complex. There is in fact this bizarre sort of mineral-nutty note coming and going, probably due to tonka, but emptied of any warmth or exoticness. Actually that’s how most of the notes smell here – exotic, but somehow “emptied” of their vibrant nature. Also patchouli, for instance, it smells like a black & white polaroid of it, rather than the “full” usual note. And it’s not just about being more light, it’s a more interesting work on the very texture of the notes. Finally, the drydown pleasantly brings back some soft floral accents (oddly similar to orange blossoms at this point) laying them on a woody-ambery base accord (mostly woody, with a dusty touch of amber).

It seems to me that White Oud definitely nails the concept of creating a “white-dark woody” scent translating the exotic terms of a typical oud scent into a Scandinavian-inspired cold and, say, “hard” blend. Being not a fan of Agonist I wouldn’t have given much credit to this attempt, but the result is quite compelling actually. For as weird it may seem, it does smell like a “white oud” infusion indeed: it keeps the same nutty-medicinal woody nuances of oud, just replacing any skanky, smoky, oily- thick texture with its exact opposite: musks, floral notes, a dry-cold substance, a touch of exotic-almondy dry sweetness. As a comparison, just consider the similarly-named Montale’s White Aoud: I love that (nearly the only Montale I really like), but that’s way more “easy” and simplistic rendition of “white oud” – it’s just oud, with some conventional “white” notes on top, like vanilla and flowers. Agonist’s White Oud is instead a more creative, abstract, complex interpretation of the idea of “white oud” – more a veritable “translation” of it in fragrant terms, if that makes sense.

Well anyway, this is interesting and smart. And also quite pleasant to wear, regardless of any “theoretical” consideration about it. Maybe a tad boring after you got the magic and the concept, slightly more synthetic than I would have liked (even taking into account that it quite fits the concept – smelling so artificial, I mean) and definitely overpriced, but well designed and well done.

09th February, 2016

Olène by Diptyque

If you love Jasmine, and are looking for a JASMINE scent, you've found it! Yes, it is linear, but sometimes, that is what you are searching for!

I have many jasmine scents, and I love them all. Some have many complex notes along with them, and they are brilliantly done. Every now and then, though, I just want to smell the jasmine, so that is the void Olene fills.

Get the square bottle if you can find it.
09th February, 2016

Foxglove by Joya FvsS: Parfums

Bright, green, fresh, yet deep with a floral gossamer ribbon running throughout. Really special, and beautiful parfum oil. I own the rollerball version of this, and am giving serious consideration for the larger sculptured piece. This is the attar of the East Coast.
09th February, 2016

Aqua Allegoria Foliflora by Guerlain

This fragrance may as well be the benchmark for 'pretty good floral.' Nothing is bad and nothing really stands out. The Guerlain quality of ingredients is reliable as ever, but there is just so little personality at work here that I feel like there wasn't really a plan, as there seems to be a complete lack of a focal point.
09th February, 2016

Lady Gaga Fame by Lady Gaga

I can't help but feel that Fame is a pale imitation of Deep Night. While that should be disparaging I love Deep Night, so anything close is bound to be good. If you like sweet jasmine scents in the vein of Hypnotic Poison this is bound to be pleasant. It's just a bit too plain and baseless to be really exciting. Still much better than most celebrity scents.
09th February, 2016