Fragrance Reviews from November 2013

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    mr. reasonable's avatar

    Hong Kong Hong Kong

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    Opus II by Amouage

    Amouage Opus II didn’t exactly get a rousing reception when it was launched. That first burst of three new ‘Library Editions’ caught people off guard with many Amouage fans asking ‘where is the Middle Eastern stuff, where is the opulence, where is the grandeur’ etc. etc.

    Now that we have hit Opus VII I think we can safely say that, while no-one really knows quite what is going on with The Library Series apart from the fact that it will continue to baffle and surprise, it’s perhaps a little easier to take each of the individual works and appraise them for what they are, rather looking for some deeper thematic meaning – or what they are not!

    I bought Opus II the day it was released – there was something uplifting and bright about it that just grabbed me. I have always enjoyed stuff that leans in a clove / spiced direction – there is a sense of tonic goodness, not medicinal but getting close, that this style has for me, and living in a place where there is serious humidity for more than half the year this can be useful.

    What I have only recently come to realize is that Opus II when viewed as a ‘spiced fougere’, rather than a ‘baseless oriental’ makes perfect sense. This is where, I think, the confusion and disappointment came for many when it was launched – the opening, variations of which can be experienced in Eau Lente and other spicy orientals, leads one to expect a resolve into some sort of rich balsamic base – especially with this being an Amouage!

    But the anticipated base doesn’t make an appearance. Opus II just gently persists with a mélange of uplifting ‘crave e canella’, lavender, pepper, cardamom, absinthe and pink bay rounded out with a touch of rose and jasmine – pretty much the same structure and approach (albeit with a little more spice) than a host of aromatic fougeres from the ‘good old days’.

    The base has some cedar, patchouli, amber etc. but these are not features per se – more of a backdrop and definitely not at ‘power house’ volume. This can be disconcerting at first but seen as a pick me up fougere that is there for your personal sense of wellbeing rather than for ‘making an entrance’, Opus II delivers beautifully, and at Eau de Parfum strength it manages to retain a sense of lightness for a considerable time – quite a feat.

    I have come to increasingly rely on Opus II when summer hits, it seems to sit in quite a rarefied space, along with Olivia Giacobetti’s brilliant Idole perhaps, as a cool spiced tonic that has dispensed with the more traditional aspects of a masculine fougere while retaining the bracing goodness.

    01st November, 2013

    JackTwist's avatar

    United States United States

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    Paris by Coty

    A burst of lilac that initially reminded me of muguet before I had a look at the ingredients list, then civet, though light and pleasant. My nose cannot detect the other notes. This is very much an old fashioned scent and one that is quite sedate. I would not label it feminine, but it is hardly unisex. It has a somewhat dry leathery dry down that is again pleasant without being singular or outstanding in any way.

    For me the look of the dark liquid in the classic bottle with the original label (Paris de Coty) in gold are worth more aesthetically than the contents.

    Still, it is a positive response, as it has its integrity and smells like nothing else in my experience. This is based on a bottle of vintage edt.

    01st November, 2013

    rbaker's avatar



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    Tuscany per Uomo Forte by Aramis

    Compared with he original there are similarities, but there ils less bergamot the top notes, although a discrete citrus is present with tarragon and lots, lots of cumin. The geranium in the drydown is similar to the original, but given a creative twist with sage and anise. A bit of gentle moss and cedar is rising in the base. Overall this on me has very limited silage and after the first hour is very close to my skin, with about for hours of longevity. This is a much more complex scent than the very good original, but not much more 'forte' or long-lasting than the original. A vey nice flanker, great in spring.

    01st November, 2013

    JuditinL's avatar



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    Dolce Vita by Christian Dior

    I fell in love with this scent when I was still at university. I still love it and wear it on special occasions. It has a feminine and light but still powerful demeanor. Not for the workplace, as it can be very distracting.
    Most scent last on my skin for a very long time, about 10-12 hours.
    My other half finds it "acidy" the first couple of hours.

    01st November, 2013

    JuditinL's avatar



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    Hugo Woman by Hugo Boss

    As a 90's teenager I could really appreciate this scent. Feminine without the strong flowery notes. To me it resembled strength without being obtrusive, being noticed on a subtle way.
    It works extremely well with white shirt and jeans or suit.
    I agree with micci.

    01st November, 2013

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Black by Comme des Garçons

    Finally! By far the best Comme Des Garcons in years (if we exclude the magnificent EDP 2011 in the melted bottle). After disappointments such as Amazingreen which was anything but amazing and the new Play series (nice but IMO nowhere close to CDG's standards) finally something to rave about.

    Probably not as arty as some of the house's most abstract offerings such as their Synthetic Series, Guerrilla 1, Stephen Jones or even Odeur 71 yet an incredibly accomplished composition I'd rank among their most commercial / versatile releases such as CDG2Man and Standard. A restrained concoction of unsweetened black licorice (not the anise-type), tar, pepper and the usual woody-incense which has now become the house's hallmark.

    A tad of the sweetish iso-pepper-vetiver found in Kenzoair, the balmy-darkness of Black Tourmaline and the typical CDG's metropolitan and uber-modern twist is what comes to mind. Restrained yet striking, modern yet anything but dull, minimalistic yet not simplicistic.

    Novel and accomplished while still resulting anything but odd. Extremely versatile and easy to wear. If I'd have to choose a signature, this would definitely be among the candidates.

    Total endorsement.

    A few words of caution: Longevity is average. Projection is below average. This is quite a skin scent and needs to be massively applied to be properly enjoyed.

    01st November, 2013

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    By Night Black by Profumi del Forte

    I'm a huge fan of this line but By Night Black is probably the most disappointing delivery among their range. I'm used to either their thickness (Ambra Mediterranea, Versilia Platinum, Versilia Boisè) or their pleasant weirdness (Tirrenico) but this By Night doesn't convince me. It opens with a zesty lime-mandarin accord that's immediately joined by subtle coniferous notes and incense while green-watery facets remark their presence very timidly. There's an overal structural weakness that underwhelms me. On paper, it could have been a nice and fresh smoky-incense but, after applying 1,5ml of this stuff on my skin, I can barely smell it...

    Too little...sad.

    01st November, 2013

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Vetiverus by Oliver & Co.

    Giving a full wearing to Vetiverus and, boys, this stuff is glorious. Given the name, one would expect a vetiver soliflore and, honestly, this is anything but. A fantastic and incredibly original take on this root enriched by boatloads of juxtapositions. On one side, the floral, transparent, sophisticated osmanthus note, paired to a stark, smoky woody-musky base. On the other, dark resins, cloves, bitter orange peels and, obviously vetiver.

    I've to be honest, I find this fragrance very close to pure perfection. The novelty, the wearability, striking but not odd, stark but not minimalistic, perfectly balanced, modern. Just great!

    I've been on the look for a "new take" on this theme for quite a while and, apparently, this is going to be my new fragrance crush.

    01st November, 2013

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Private Label by Jovoy

    Probably my favorite among this line...at least so far.

    A no-compromise, extremely woody-earthy, peatchouli-vetiver concoction enriched by warm leathery undertones (castoreum?) and dry sandalwood facets. What's not to like? Absolutely assertive and straight forward. It has an overall "familiar" vibe which I can't currently put my finger on but the general feel of the composition, is of something "pushed to the limits".

    If you like unapologetic, masculine, dark-&-dry fragrances, you have to try this.

    Outstanding projection and extremely good lasting power.

    01st November, 2013

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Cuir Velours by Naomi Goodsir

    Cuir Velours strikes as a balmy-incense fragrance with sweet-boozy facets. The leather note is subdued and smooth, more sort of suedey while a well restrained immortelle note paired to tobacco, add even more depth enhancing the general warmness of this composition.

    The fragrance leans towards the sweet side of the spectrum but it's perfectly executed and balanced to never feel heavy or cloying. I've seen somewhere comparisons to Daim Blond and, somehow, they make sense (at least IMO). There's a slight apricot-suede vibe going on which might indeed bring to mind of the aforementioned Lutens but, overall, Cuir Velours is more striking while still feeling plush and extremely rounded. The incense plays a relevant role providing a meditative facet and a modern twist. Other fragrances that came to mind for a reason or another are Trayee by Neela Vermeire (basically for the sweetish-incense quality) and 1740 (for the immortelle-tobacco-leather combo). With that said, I can't say CV is objectively similar to either. It more shares with them an overall vibe and a distant kinship to then create its own peculiar allure.

    A pleasure to wear for anyone into velvety oriental fragrances. Good projection and great lasting power.

    Bravo to Mrs.Goodsir.

    01st November, 2013

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Huemul by Fueguia

    A modern, synthetic, woody-musk with (very) subtle floral facets. If you expect something in the same vein as Musk Tonkin or Muscs Koublai Khan, stay well away from Huemul. This fragrance is closer, both in concept and execution, to certain deliveries by Geza Schoen or Le Labo's Another 13. Animalic and musky in the meaning of woodyamber or ambergris as opposed to the fecal aspect of other warmer musk-driven fragrances such as the Lutens or the Parfum D'Empire.

    Too simple.


    01st November, 2013

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Bois d'Ascèse by Naomi Goodsir

    Holy Grail Stuff!

    If you're into smoky fragrances, this is something you shouldn't miss for any reason. Smooth smoky woods, incense and a tad of boozy-amber to soften the general austerity. Minimalistic but at the same time deep and incredibly satisfying but, most of all, absolutely not derivative. Smoky, balmy and incredibly striking. Meditative and assertive at once.

    If you like woody fragrances but you're sick and tired of aggressive woodyambers, this is the way to go. A masterpiece.


    01st November, 2013

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    La Colonia by Oliver & Co.

    With some exceptions made from extremely classic fragrances playing the EDC-theme, I'm generally not big on these type of compositions but Oliver & Co La Colonia is indeed a nice take on the main theme.

    The typical citrus / white florals combo is joined here by green-herbal nuances and supported by a smooth woody base while a *well restrained* aquatic note provides a subtle yet remarkable modern vibe. Probably not earthshaking but nonetheless funny and likable. Very nice.

    01st November, 2013

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Ambra Nera by Farmacia SS. Annunziata

    This is GORGEOUS stuff if you like dark-green herbal ambers. Great balance between challenging vegetal notes (almost animalic) and resinous woody amber (as opposed to woodyamber). Thick but not heavy, moderately sweet, enveloping but not loud and, most of all, far from the typical head-shop vibe of many fragrances playng similar themes...Last but not least, it comes in Parfum strength.

    Smells ancient, dark, mouldy, nocturnal and absolutely compelling. This is to amber-centered fragrances, what Mazzolari Lui is to patchouli.

    Top quality stuff.

    01st November, 2013

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Batucada by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    Overly sweet and *cheap* smelling concoction of coconut, calone and some booze with salty facets.

    Smells somewhere between a long drink, laundry detergent and a mass market white floral. Dreadful.

    01st November, 2013

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Theorema by Fendi

    This fragrance, together with a bunch of others such as Nu EDP, Envy, Rush, Envy For Men, several Donna Karan*s* (to name only a few among the most *recent* ones), are the reason why around *twothousandandsomething* I've lost most of the interest in designers compositions. If I think about what designers have meant to fragrance in the past, I struggle to understand all these recent trends in mass market perfumery.

    Theorema is not simply gorgeous, it would actually put on shame 90% of today's niche offerings. Responsible of fragrances such as Eau De Cartier, Narcisso Rodriguez For Her, Archives 69, a bunch of Jo Malones, Guerlains and Muglers, this is Christine Nagel in full effect. A thick spicy-oriental loaded with cardamom, pepper and nutmeg built around a resiny-ambery base and loads of smooth / warm woods. Fantastic juxtaposition provided by the citrusy opening which is probably one of the most long lasting lemon notes ever. Extremely complex, incredibly radiant and unbelievably long lasting. Mandatory.


    01st November, 2013

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Un Air D'Amour Pour Monsieur by Maison Dorin

    This was a nice surprise. A very nice one actually. What immediately came to mind was a smoother version of the lavender-incense accord of Luten's Encens Et Lavande and the tonka-lavender of Fourreau Noir, paired to the orris-woody-incense combo of, say, Carthusia 1681 or Silver Factory. The composition is built around an oriental fougere-y structure which is rich and dry at the same time, with a delightful woody-nutty base that's assertive but not too harsh. It has an overall classic masculine vibe to it but it doesn't feel too simplistic or uninspired. Very nice.

    01st November, 2013

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Hasu-no-Hana by Grossmith

    There's something of the iris-bergamot-woody-amber base of Shalimar here but it's paired to a chyprey structure which is very traditionally executed. The fragrance feels incredibly luxurious and opulent but has an overall "artisanal" vibe to it that makes me think about certain "all-natural" brands. Smells great if one's into powdery oriental fragrances but it lacks a tad of animalics that usually make these kind of fragrances grand. I like it but. In the end, considering the price, I'll stick to vintage Shalimar Parfum.


    01st November, 2013

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Limon de Cordoza by Different Company

    Sourish lemon and green minty nuances on a soft woody base. Personally, when it comes to hesperidic fragrances, I prefer either more classic takes on the main theme such as several Guerlain's Eaus, Eau D'Hadrien, Chanel's Eau De Cologne (to name a few), or more avant-garde iterations a-la Comme Des Garcons Soda. With that said, Lemon De Cordoza is a nicely blended, inoffensive lemony cologne but is as exciting as lukewarm water.

    01st November, 2013

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    1932 by Chanel

    Opens with the typical aldehydes / iris combo signature of many Chanels to then quickly evolve into a prettified green-jasmine soliflore built around a woody-vetiver base. Nice and overpriced. It could have been a winner if just released in their regular range instead of the Les Exclusifs.

    Too little.


    01st November, 2013

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Scent Gloss by Costume National

    Average quality rosey-powdery fragrance with the typical clean, laundry-detergent, musky base. Safe, mainstream-ish and, in the end, boring. Too juvenile. Nah!

    01st November, 2013

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Scent Sheer by Costume National

    I'm not particularly fond of these synthetic musky ambery concoctions but, if you like the genre, Sheer Scent could represent a valid option expecially when it comes to quality/price ratio. Both Le Labo and Fueguia are offering similar fragrances at three times the price of SS.


    01st November, 2013

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Sienne d'Orange by Different Company

    I find the central orange-leather-iris accord pretty delightful, juicy, not overly sweet and pretty realistic but the whole fragrance fails to coalesce into something outstanding. There's a generic/boring woody-musky thing going on in the base plus the juice feels extremely weak even for an eau de cologne. When it comes to lighter takes on orange-based colognes, there are boatloads of better alternatives out there. From Orange Sanguigne to Cologne Bigarade via Eau D'Orange Verte and Eau De Tarocco.

    01st November, 2013

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    After Midnight by Different Company

    After Midnight opens with a neroli accord that immediately speaks of CLASSIC Eau de cologne. The fragrance is then joined by a subtle, sort of weightless ambery note that's not so distant from Comme Des Garcons Ambar if not for the fact it's way weaker. Resins lurk in the back providing a woody-incensey-ambery vibe. Nice and, after all, forgettable.

    01st November, 2013

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    L'Eau Rare Matale 06 by Parfumerie Generale

    L'Eau Rare Matale opens with a nice peppery-citrus accord enriched by a smoky tea note. In this context, the composition feels pretty *contemporary* in its iteration of the modern masculine theme but, maybe, a bit uninspired. Other undetected spices and vetiver joins the party to give birth to one of the most fleeting and short lived fragrances in the PG's range. Nice and inoffensive, office-friendly but, in the end, really too weak to my tastes...

    01st November, 2013

    Marais's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    M7 by Yves Saint Laurent

    M7 remains unique despite countless oud/pseudo-oud fragrances since 2002, almost all inferior, unwearable, overcooked, overpriced, and ridiculous to everyone but the wearer. Do you like the sound of a cough-sweet medicinal, powdery yet masculine, arresting scent with overtones of burnt rubber tyres and a honeyed drydown that lasts all day? No? Then don't buy M7. {review of first reformulation/re-bottling}.

    01st November, 2013

    rach2jlc's avatar

    United States United States

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    L'Interdit (original) by Givenchy

    Lovely floral aldehyde. Warmer, softer, and sweeter than the "big" aldehyde (Chanel no5), it's also more durable. Best in early spring and early fall, it's a soft and delightful fragrance with a distinct fruit note (orange/peach/strawberry).

    01st November, 2013

    rach2jlc's avatar

    United States United States

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    L'Interdit II by Givenchy

    Enjoyable and fun; imagine the original with less aldehydes, more sandalwood and fruit (strawberry). It's not terribly sad it was discontinued; the original L'interdit certainly is better. BUT, if you find a bottle for a fair price and loved the original, you'll also love this fresher/lighter/crisper spin.

    01st November, 2013

    gimmegreen's avatar

    Netherlands Netherlands

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    After My Own Heart by Ineke

    Cool, almost aquatic, green lilac, refreshing and uncomplicated, but unfortunately saddled with a huge dose of fluffy synthetic musks which drag it into budget designer clichés. If you can overlook the musk, it’s a shorts-and-sandals kind of scent which is light and lifting for a few hours before turning into lilac soap.

    01st November, 2013

    numcks's avatar

    United States United States

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    Baie de Genièvre by Creed

    Slightly ginny juniper, hint of barbershop bay, warm cinnamon and clove, and a woody base with a hint of vetiver. Near perfect. Good formal frag, with a touch of edge and swagger.

    01st November, 2013

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