Perfume Reviews

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Égoïste / L'Égoïste by Chanel

Égoïste, like most Chanel masculines, is a watershed fragrance among hobbyists and collectors, while just a damned good scent for everyone else, with a lot of history leading up to it's creation. Chanel's own personal historians claim it is a masculine take on the venerable Bois de Iles (1926), which itself was the first notable woodsy perfume for women and second collaboration between Coco Chanel herself and perfumer Ernest Beaux. Just as Bois de Iles had to follow up the epic Chanel No. 5 (1921), Égoïste had to follow up it's own creator's high precedent too, since it was made by Jacques Polge, a perfumer who made the 2nd Chanel masculine Antaeus (1981), and would be the house perfumer for the designer well into the next century. Times had changed greatly since the release of Antaeus, and it's mossy, virile, and assertively masculine style were out to the pastures by the end of the 1980's, which is something Chanel was likely to be acutely aware of when development began on this in 1987 under a different name: Bois Noir. Most folks who follow Égoïste closely enough will sort this out in an evening, but it's impossible to review this without touching on the importance of the now-unicorn-status prototype which was the test bed for this. Bois Noir was sold only domestically in France at first upon launch in 1987, then rolled out a year later to the US as a limited-edition to presumably also test it's marketability to a larger western market, then retooled after feedback was given into what became Égoïste. May I also mention that this name was given only because Chanel thought "Bois Noir" sounded too boring for the male market? Otherwise, it may have just been reformulated and kept the name.

Some will say Bois Noir was a truer representation of a male equivalent to Bois de Iles, the superior version of Égoïste that should have never been changed, and others will say it was simply a heavier but ultimately less exciting prototype that is over-hyped due to it's rarity and expense in the second-hand market, but both arguments are the result of the eternal "haves and have nots" conflict found in any hobby, and honestly neither answer is wrong depending on one's own experience whether that includes owning/sampling a bottle of Bois Noir or not. Égoïste is either a refinement or an alteration of Bois Noir depending on how you feel, but regardless, it is still a male interpretation of Bois de Iles all the same, which was the original intent. The scent opens with tangerine and rosewood, which don't stick around long because the focus here is sandalwood. Like many sandalwood-themed masculines, the ingredients surrounding the primary note are used to compliment, sustain, and project it out more, and such is the case here: the sandalwood appears within minutes and is supported by coriander, rose, and held in place by dry vanilla and ambrette seed. It's one of the few masculines that has a dry vanilla that serves only to preserve warmth, and not ensconce the base in fatty sweetness -which is good in the right context mind you- but such richness wouldn't be balanced here so thankfully it was left out. Égoïste sort of presaged a movement of clean, dry orientals throughout the 90's that ran alongside the aquatics, ozonics, and "fresh" fougères of the day, but with the years of research and testing going into this, it's unsurprising.

Égoïste helped ease the transition from the old guard of aromatic fougères, oakmoss powerhouses, heavy leather/tobacco chypres, orientals, and musks that plumed off shirt collars in the 70's and 80's, by being both friendly to guys endeared to them as well as younger fellas finding this first. Égoïste was the perfect sequel to Polge's own Antaeus, which would by 1990 seem too forceful to those younger folks who enjoyed Cool Water (1988) and Eternity for men (1989). Even if Bois Noir technically preceded them both, it was a market experiment and Égoïste was the final product of that experiment, so Chanel if nothing else could be credited with having foresight other houses did not, as some were still pumping out powerhouses doomed to obscurity into the 90's. It's bright, clean, dry, and fireplace-warm presentation of sandalwood smells just as appropriate in the 21st century as it did the late 20th, and much like Chanel Pour Monsieur (1955), will always be a classy timeless alternative to the "hip and now" for guys who want to smell composed without compromise. It's not entirely without sensuality, but I'm thinking more of a ballroom atmosphere than a night club with this one, even though I'm sure it ended up in them when initially released due to the insane popularity resulting from what was then Chanel's biggest commercial push since No. 5. I see it as having one's cake and eating it too: it's inoffensive enough for any environment save maybe a sweltering summer day, but has more personality and charm than anything else in the market that could also be described as inoffensive. It's a warm hug from a dear friend, bottled and brought to you by Chanel. Enjoy.
19th February, 2018

A*Men Pure Wood by Thierry Mugler

Thumbs up for the smell but I am always surprised at how average the performance is of Pure Wood. It doesn't match up with other heavy hitters in the A*Men lineup in regards to projection and longevity.

Moving on to the smell, it's actually the most accessible and easy to wear A*Men scent for me. This could be an everyday scent in cooler months, it's that agreeable and nice. I get plenty of the familiar coffee and vanilla in the original A*Men but there's not as much tar note, if any. It's replaced by a pleasant, if not generic woody accord that's just fine by me because it's mixes with the other notes so well.

This is right up there with Pure Malt as a favorite of the line but the lack of performance keeps Pure Wood from being the leader of the group.
19th February, 2018

Flora Psychedelica by 4160 Tuesdays

A fantastic sharp floral, with a strong smell of fresh pollen-rich flowers. It mostly smells like lilies to me.
18th February, 2018
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Beautiful by Estée Lauder

A beautiful, deep floral. Lots of rose and tuberose. I think it's a heavier flower scent, more suited for wintertime. Has a woody, green base. One of Estee lauder's classics.
18th February, 2018

Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford

Boozy vanilla, tobacco, something sweet and fruity like a plum or raisin covered in cocoa powder.

Good projection, can get compliments with even minimal sprays, which is probably better because it can be overwhelming.

Excellent longevity. Lasts all day and you can still smell it the next day.
18th February, 2018
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United Kingdom

Windsor by Creed

The slightly boozy opening in delicious, with the fresh lime being given additional depth and substance by the woodsy pine undertone.

The drydown develops a lovely rose, which soon is overwhelmed by an intensive, nigh Hammam-Bouquet (the original vintage)-style tuberose, which is not too waxy. Far a while this tuberose is quite the dominant note in my skin.

Cedar and eucalyptus are indeed evident in the base, but the balance is tilted towards the cedar in me. In the first version of Windsor the drydown and the base had a more green touch, which made is rather special indeed.

I get moderate sillage, good projection and five hours of longevity on my skin.

This scent for spring and cooler summer days is beautifully blended in high-quality natural ingredients. I prefer the first original version.
Personally speaking, this is one of my favourites for Royal Ascot. 4/5 for the original, 3.75/5 for the second release.
18th February, 2018

Starring for Men by Avon

The obtuse and experimental 90's period for Avon's masculine scent division bore some rather forgettable fruit, but not because their creations at the time were boring; it was quite the contrary of boring during this decade to be sure, as Avon was pulling out all the stops in an attempt to stay relevant after a bland and overly-commercial 80's. One thing is certain, they didn't try to hang with the "cool kids" by making tons of "fresh" Fougères, aquatics, or ozonics, even if there was a bizarre mutated example from each category. Instead, we were given strange mashups between conventional and cutting-edge, as if their perfumers were looking for unique angles to explore at the cost of good taste. Granted, if you like strange and niche versions of common masculine tropes, then 1990's Avon is a treasure trove to explore for sure, and Starring for Men is one of the finest examples of such esoterica from the time yielding very wearable results. Starring for men is a 1997 fougère and oriental hybrid like it's predecessor Mesmerize for Men (1992) , which Avon seemed fond of producing throughout the 90's and would again the following year with Far Away for Men (1998). Starring for Men was definitely among the richest and most oriental-like of these hybrids, and could almost be just classified as an oriental if not for a few glaring top notes. The overall effect of this contrast is a phenomenal old-world barbershop opening and a creamy sweet dry down that would put a lot of niche houses to shame. Considering who made it, when it came out, and how it was (or wasn't) marketed, Starring for Men came at a time when niche perfumers hadn't yet snuck into malls and people weren't ready to revisit antique styles.

Starring for Men opens with mandarin and apple like mesmerize, but feels like a richer "Mark II" version of that opening with the additional heft of bergamot and nutmeg tacked on in the top notes. The warm and soft opening is almost reminiscent of Paul Sebastian Fine Cologne (1979), but a touch more piquant. Starring then follows far more oriental lines than PS and goes way richer on the heart notes, with dry sage counterbalancing cardamom and a thick bay rum note before finishing in vanilla and musk. The vanilla and musk present here are very fatty indeed, more so than even vintage Canoe by Dana (1936), and the dry down of Starring for Men will stay to skin and create an amazingly radiant glow of spice attached to that bottom end for hours. The stuff will leave a trail if sprayed on shirt, but the top notes will stay around far longer and it will almost feel like you're wearing two different scents when you do so, but if this one has any failing at all, it's that this step will prove necessary if you want it more than a skin scent past the first hour. Avon is ultimately a price-conscious perfumer, or at least they were at the time, and it's evident here in this cologne's ability to hang around all day, but not have decent silliage. Starring for men is odd in that it's clearly an exercise in antiquated male perfumery, just in hybrid form, since it's a direct smashing of a classic fougère top sans the lavender, and the early 80's male oriental, without the tobacco, leather, or olibdanum/labdanum that usually finds it's way in.

It's quite elegant in it's simplicity, which is perhaps the only thing in line with the 1990's, since that was the decade of simpler design. Starring for Men makes a great winter time work scent if you're outdoors and need something that cuts the wind, but also great evening wear in a romantic setting. Nobody is going to realize this stuff is from the 90's, let alone Avon, by the way it smells, and it really is one of the best kept secrets from that decade that probably only failed because of, once again, who released it, how it was marketed, and when it was released. Timing means so much in the perfume world, as relevance makes or breaks anything if it's not deliberately niche. I do take issue with the rather nondescript bottle, which to my eyes looks like it could easily house a feminine oriental from the 1930's, let alone a masculine one from 1997. Seriously, the fluted bottle, gold cap, art-deco design, and thick glass would have you think this was an early pre-war California Perfume Company product, if not for the fact that they stuck with florals until the postwar period when they fully embraced the Avon name for the entire company. This one is definitely out of time, but it's a strange beauty rather than just plain strange like most of the things Avon shucked to men during this period. This is one of the few Avon scents that I'll advise going easy on the trigger until it dries, as it is every bit forceful as that note period suggests coming out of the sprayer. Great stuff!
18th February, 2018

El Cosmico by D.S. & Durga

El Cosmico is D.S.& Durga's interpretation of the atmosphere and evening air at the namesake Marfa Texas hotel and campsite that resides on the wild edge between civilization and the high plains desert. This same aroma is found in many of the desert southwest communities when the sun goes down as piñon and dried mesquite smoke fills the cool night air with cleansing smokey resin drifting from campfire and kiva with a smudge of shamanic essence. El Cosmico smells smokey and dusty with resinous bold notes from piñon, khella and creosote. The appeal of a fragrance like this is not its beauty, but that it transports you to a specific time and place that has a not so familiar and wild adventurous spirit. Many of D.S. Durga fragrances have this same outdoor spirit, but most are easier to wear than this one. El Cosmico is a wild gnarly aroma of piñon pine and burnt creosote. I like the imagery and creativity of this fragrance but I won't wear it because its abrasive character is just slightly off the mark for me.
18th February, 2018

Dark Side of the Goddess by Anna Zworykina Perfumes

Aromatic notes, nutmeg and light resins joined in to a "flat" vegetal accord. Dark Side of the Goddess opens with an "O'driuesque" humid-culinary herbal blast exalting prevalently spicy bay, woodsy resins, herbal notes and myrtle-oil (jump on mind partially Linfedele 1003, Londa 1006, Vis et Honor etc). There is a sort of wet minty-medicinal vibe all around for a while (mostly provided by bay, aromatic plants and myrtle oil). Aromatic ingredients, green dampness, leafy/minty floral patterns and resins are heady on this stage. Well calibrated opoponax and frankincense are immediately detectable, being everything but liturgical, heavy or austere (on the contrary waving out fresh and leafy throughly). Evolution is frankly less laborious than initially expected. Olfactory consistency and "craftamanship" turn immediately out as artisanal and alchemic prerogatives. The final wake is still spicy, vaguely medicinal and delicately floral. Nothing dark or austere under my mediocre nose. A freshly spicy "spring-time oriented" vegetal accord for the lovers of sprouting out spring time nature.
17th February, 2018 (last edited: 18th February, 2018)

Mesmerize for Men by Avon

The 1990's was a very, very strange place for Avon fragrances, particularly in the oft-neglected men's side. The mammoth direct-seller house seemed to have given up all earnest efforts after the start of the 80's and just rehashed what must have by then been seen as ancient barbershop styles, with the only bit of solid effort coming from the designer partnership with Louis Féraud or the gaggle of celebrity/outside brand licensed stuff. If the 80's was full of sellouts and second-rates, the 90's was a decade of mad scientists controlling the perfume labs for guys, with the exception of Mesmerize. Seeing as it's the only masculine fragrance survivor from that decade, and actually outlived the feminine counterpart in some markets (much like Perceive for Men from 2000), Avon must have gotten something really, really right. Did the mad science pay off? Well it looks like for whatever reason, this wasn't subject to the weirdness that otherwise was rampant in that time. There is a small bit of strangeness here, in the fact that Mesmerize for Men is a fougère and oriental hybrid with some unusual gourmand-like notes way before that genre fully emerged, but I tend to think this was done out of frugality than innovation, since Avon's mostly anonymous perfumers compose on a budget.

The first thing one notices is the bottle reminiscent of Ralph Lauren's Polo (1978) but with an Arabian twist. This is no genie's lamp nor are you Aladdin when unstopping it, as what comes out of the gold and blue sprayer is one part convention, and one part quirky. Mandarin meets the nose first, like many richer orientals from the late 80's and early 90's, but unlike Chanel's Pour Monsieur eau de toilette Concentrée (1989) or Égoïste (1990), this marries a peculiar apple note to the orange, giving an ambrosia feel to the opening just as familiar lavender and nutmeg take up the chorus alongside some interesting florals and sage before ending in amber, tonka, musk, and sandalwood. It has the hallmarks of a late 19th century fougère like the original namesake Fougère Royale (1882), which it shares with Zino Davidoff (1986), but doesn't head into as much floral skank, supplanting it with oriental spice and woods a la the aforementioned Chanel scents that were contemporary with this. It's an unusual amount of class on display here, and while this is of the typical eau de cologne strength Avon was still keen on using for it's masculines all the up until the 2010's, it does have comparable projection to an eau de toilette due to it's heady components, just not the longevity.

Mesmerize for Men is honestly a phenomenal option for a guy that only has $15 to spend on a scent and wants the classiest option available without something really dated from a drugstore or in a plastic bottle. It can hang tight at a dinner party full of guests wearing Dior and Guerlain, but it won't pass the 6 hour mark without pulling a Cinderella and turning into a pumpkin. so take the bottle if you're making a cold-weather work scent of it. A fragrance connoisseur stocked with any of the above designer scents may find this redundant in their wardrobe, unless they collect Avon in particular, in which case they can consider this Avon's very respectful entry into the "sweet warm woods" style making the rounds in this period. It's honestly the first male-marketed oriental-ish scent Avon knocked out of the park, as 1978's Trazarra seemed a bit thin for what it tried to be and Black Suede (1980), although amazing in it's own way, relied too much on aldehydes and was more of a leather chypre for it. Apple is still a weird opener for something not specifically a gourmand, but Avon wouldn't be as endearing of an entry-level olfactory empire without it's unapologetic quirks. Mesmerize for Men spawned a litany of flankers in South America, but for most western cologne users, it's the "other one besides Wild Country (1967) and Black Suede I've heard of", which beats a blank.
17th February, 2018

Bergamote 22 by Le Labo

Similar to other fresh, green citrus scents in the style of 4711, Bergamote 22 opens up in that familiar way. I also get the musk in the opening which adds some nice depth to what I thought would be a one-dimensional fragrance. The drydown is less green lemon and more sweet lemon.

It's very clean, so can be worn formally. Probably best for summer but it's very pleasant in all climates.

Projection is slightly above average and longevity is in the 6 hour range.
17th February, 2018

Ferrari Cedar Essence by Ferrari

This is a double thumbs down.
After a mediocre fresh but jarring opening when you are thinking it could go either way in the dry down ie disaster or jackpot it takes a dive.
Think lemon fresh windowlene sprayed on Ikea varnished cedar with potpourri on top. Unfortunately is projects and lasts. Not quite a wash off job but almost.
Enough said.
Uomo is much better -if you must have a Ferrari fragrance- but that's relative only. Even the Neroli is preferable and thats cheap and cheerful but without class.

Fragrance: 1.5/10
Projection: 3/10
Longevity: 3.75/10
17th February, 2018

Gentlemen Only Absolute by Givenchy

A light improvement on the original mediocrely metallic Only. Aromatic spicy vanilla and warmer sandalwood. A fresly spicy/hesperidic light creamy sandalwood with a soapy barbeshop neo-classic (ostensibly aldehydic) vibe. Finally sweetish-amberish (still aromatic) and close to a whichever Roccobarocco Extraordinary for Men, CH 212 Sexy Man or Cuba Paris Cuba Gold.
17th February, 2018
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Set Sail South Seas for Men by Tommy Bahama

South Seas seems like a unisex scent. I do get some orange but that's about it. Very weak rum note. In fact, the whole thing is very light. Becomes a skin scent very quickly for me.

Good longevity, it does hang around all day even if it is so light.
16th February, 2018 (last edited: 17th February, 2018)

Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme by Van Cleef & Arpels

Another old-school classic that checks all the ultra-masculine marks for the overall scent. This one isn't as "stinky" though, has a certain cool, freshness to it. I also find it quite soapy.

Strong performance in projection and longevity.
16th February, 2018

Aramis 900 by Aramis

Smells similar to other old-school classics I've tried. "Soapy" and "barnyard" come to mind.

Strong projection and longevity.

16th February, 2018

Perry Ellis Oud : Saffron Rose Absolute by Perry Ellis

The opening of Saffron Rose Absolute is like other rose-oud-leather combos. Has that dry, medicinal feel but this has no sweetness and the incense-vibe that's usually with those other scents isn't as prevalent. Later the drydown is soft and woody, with a little rosey-sweetness finally coming through. Better smelled in the air than up close.

Decent projection but not as loud as those other scents from the likes of Montale. Good longevity, lasts all workday.
16th February, 2018

Oud Minérale by Tom Ford

Oud Minérale smells cold, powdery, aquatic and medicinal all at the same time. There's something that reminds me of leather as well.

Seems too heavy for summer, probably best for cooler weather.

Powerful projection and lasts more than a day.
16th February, 2018

Aqua Allegoria Anisia Bella by Guerlain

Another lovely green freshie from the AA line. Basil works well to keep the anise in check - it's a note that can easily become a little too much. Still, that note and its oriental associations make this a great frag for transitioning between seasons - lovely for early spring and the autumn. Star anise in the heart and liquorice in the base gives the opening character a longevity rarely achieved with fresh/citrus fragrances. While I get a waft of jasmine, I don't get any violet at all and I wonder whether the scent pyramid is referring to violet leaf - there's an earthiness in there, for sure, which could be violet leaf and liquorice in concert.
Decent projection, weak sillage, moderate longevity.
I think it's a lovely fragrance, although it's definitely not one of the big sellers of the AA line - I got mine for next-to-nothing on *that* auction site. I guess anise and its associates are something of an acquired taste, which is fine with me...
16th February, 2018

Vanille Insensée by Atelier Cologne

Vanilla is a scent I often struggle with, particularly boozy vanillas or anything with even a vaguely cupcakey accord. This is dry, which seems to be a far less common presentation - certainly vanilla isn't something I particularly associate with the cologne genre. As others have said, Insensee means 'insane', rather than 'incense', although I don't find madness or excess in this at all - if anything, it smells rather introverted in character, despite having decent projection; lasts well too, being a Cologne Absolue. I loved it at first sniff and, from the fact that my first sniff was from an amber-coloured, rather ancient-looking sample, I can tell you that it ages well, getting deeper and a little warmer.
It opens with a full and vibrant lime, a juicy opening for a scent which dries down papery, dusty and (as ClaireV so insightfully pointed out) with something of the Communion wafer about it. Maybe it's the lapsed Catholic in me that loves this, maybe it's the bookworm...
It works well as a base under herbal freshies, too - a great way to transition them between seasons. I definitely get a spike of vetiver in the drydown, to my nose it shows as an earthiniess below the papery accord.

Also, am I the only who just loves the Atelier bottles? Like pebbles, there's something really comforting about them in the hand - just the right weight and those rounded corners are lovely.
16th February, 2018

Ambre Loup by Rania J

Both thumbs up high in the sky for this one!
Leathery, smokey, animalic amber: castoreum, oud and a hint of spicy orange, all smoothed out by vanilla and labdanum, sweetening as it dries down. Projection and sillage are perfect for the type of scent it is - you've got to get reasonably close, but when you're gonna want to get *much* closer. Longevity is incredible. I've found it really addictive - it's given Queen Shalimar a run for her money this winter. It's warming, sexy, enveloping, sexy, comforting, sexy, distinctive, (did I mention sexy?!) and 100% unisex.
My panties drop every time I sniff my own wrist.
16th February, 2018

New York Nights by Bond No. 9

Smells delicious and survives a 20 min swim in a chlorinated pool.
16th February, 2018

Ferrari Uomo by Ferrari

There seems to be considerable batch variation if you read the reviews.
I am more on the negative side.
Opens slightly citrusy and woodsy and dries down quickly to woodsy and earthy.
Nice enough. A restrained masculine cologne but projection is very weak. More of a skin scent. If you fall on hard times this is a cheap safe office fragrance.

Fragrance: 2.75/10
Projection: 2/10
Longevity: 3/10
16th February, 2018

Bogart by Jacques Bogart

Bogart seems sadly better known these days as "The Bogart Group", a company that acts like an umbrella holdings firm for multiple other more-recognizable brands like Ted Lapidus, Façonnable, and at once point Balenciaga before they sold it off. However, the actual Jacques Bogart himself is a little bit of an unknown, besides the fact that he started the house that would become such a large scale perfume holding company with the introduction of this little unsung gem from 1975. The Jacques Bogart house overall seems to be Europe's answer to the house of Aramis begun by Estée Lauder in 1965 after the eponymous masculine fragrance. So too was the house of Bogart begun by a fragrance that also caries that house's name right on the bottle. Bogart Eau de Toilette Pour Homme (It's full name) was evidently enough of a success to carry the house forward, until they released the much better-known One Man Show 5 years later. Ah... heard of that one have you? Yes, many of us have walked past the various perfume kiosks in shopping malls and seen that box sitting behind glass, with it's almost laughably chauvinistic name, but this self-titled debut masculine doesn't take such a boisterous route to your nose. One smell of Bogart and you know, this is nothing but pure unadulterated class, which is rare in a decade otherwise surrounded by liquid lumberjacks and bottled bikers.

Bogart opens very briefly with a lemon blossom note that quickly marries to rosemary, establishing the usual crisp herbal countenance not unusual in masculines from this era. Bogart doesn't go for the soapy dry-down like contemporaries such as Paco Rabanne Pour Homme and isn't even really a fougère like Paco or the later Azzaro Pour Homme (1978), but rather plays a "presto-chango" midway after a dalliance with geranium and some spices to become a leather chypre. The level of complexity and blending here is astounding considering how little people know of this or how inexpensive it seems. Bogart's debut masculine does indeed have the artistry one might expect in a modern niche scent, merging top, middle, and bottom notes found in different classes of fragrance into one dynamic display of masterful transitions. The nutmeg and clove that bolster up the barbershop geranium in the heart prepare your nose for the final descent into birch, weighty oakmoss, and Russian leather, making you feel like your fragrance has been swapped out somehow midway while it's on your skin. It's a crisp aromatic chypre with fougère-like construction and a leathery base that makes it feel like a bastard child of the aforementioned Aramis and it's sequel Aramis 900, but without so much rose.

I kind of feel like this is an anachronism in the sense of it's construction both being in step and out of step even for it's decade, and that modern perfumers have also toyed with this kind of herbal leather chypre crossover in recent years. Dunhill Edition (1986) has a good deal in common with this, but with all different values on the notes, and even some obscure early 2000's Avon masculines that were identified by that maker as chypres carry some of this one's ideas, but parsed out into multiple fragrances rather than all combined into one like this. It's actually no surprise this still exists, as like all timeless unsung fragrances such as Trumper's Eucris (1912), this one gets around by word of mouth alone and fans of this probably get together just to discuss their love of the stuff. Count me among those fans, as now I'm a believer, and anyone looking to get their first taste of high-quality 70's masculine fragrance will be steered towards this first. Recommended for business casual and daytime use due to it's general austerity. This one would hold up well in 3 out of 4 seasons except for the dead heat of summer, where anything with a heavy moss or leather note would swelter on skin. Outside of that, this could very much be a daily scent for the guy who prefers a 1975 Mercedes-Benz W116 and an evening drinking martinis over a 1975 Chevrolet Monte Carlo with a 12-pack of Schlitz in the back, since that hombre is probably soaked head to toe in musk. Discretion is the better part of valor with this one fellas, and I'm alright with that.
16th February, 2018

Montana Parfum d'Homme (original) by Montana

Montana Parfume D'Homme is the Montana debut masculine and little-known late entry into the 80's powerhouse segment, released concurrently with the late 80's aquatics and "fresh" fougères that would relegate it to obsolescence. Montana as a relatively young perfumer did have one foot in both the past and future however, as seen by the previous feminine which launched the house called Montana Parfum de Peau (1986) which was a blast of old fashioned animalics and the modern zing of aromachemicals. Parfume D'Homme was enough of a generational stop gap that it survived long enough to see discontinuation 2001, when it was replaced with Montana Homme as the eponymous masculine from the house, seemingly jumping the gun on the massive moss restriction of 2011 by IFRA by leaping into the grave a decade early. Montana would relaunch Parfum D'Homme in 2011 as a "Black Edition" that replaced the moss and aldehydes with drier leather and incense notes, creating a similar experience that impresses in different ways and ironically is cited for smelling even more old-school than the first. The original Parfum D'Homme is something of an "in-club" fragrance among collectors of male selections, because of it's apparent high quality despite it's relative obscurity. The fragrance also finds itself compared to Aramis Havana (1994) quite a bit, and the comparison is more than fair, even if this has enough merit on it's own to be worthy in a collection of someone who already owns the latter.

Montana Parfum D'Homme opens with aldehydes and a stiff oakmoss note, the latter keeping one foot firmly planted in the 80's powerhouse category, but carrying layers of spice and clove along the aldehydes once the moss settles down to it's usual glow in the base. From there, Montana gets it's biggest comparison to Havana with the way the Carribean spice reminiscent of a classic bay rum weave through the bright aldehydes, which stand in for the boozy head notes of Havana, before patchouli and labdanum take hold near the end to reunite your nose with the oakmoss. The whole thing does indeed smell like Havana's older brother, with a heavy oakmoss thud and louder opening war cry. Havana ultimately is the favored fragrance due to it's better blending and sophistication, but if you've always wanted something in that vein but louder without going full-tilt oriental like CK's Obsession for Men (1986), this is your scent. It rests squarely one foot in the brighter 90's style and one in the more boisterous 80's style, but is not really belonging in either. Montana Parfum D'Homme is most intriguingly not a parfum, but rather an eau de toilette; it's strength is almost that of a parfum however, so we'll let that slide. Indeed it's 80's side shows well in the "power" department where Havana does not, making it a nice winter alternative as well.

Folks enduring the cold winters and arid summers in the state of Montana would benefit from this scent's endurance, so it's name and curiously rock-themed bottle are apt, even if the house is in fact named after it's founder Claude Montana. Fragrances like this that straddle the changing of the guard are always most fascinating to experience, since they usually attempt to either bring old-school and new together, or go right for the left field into obscura. Montana is both familiar and unique, comparable yet also it's own animal. It's posthumous underground fanbase is most deserved. I don't usually speak so generally, but it's the perfect scent for a guy that doesn't know what he wants to smell like, but just wants to smell good. It's just the kind of scent that has just enough gravitas with the moss, clove, and patchouli to please more mature guys and fans of classic masculines, but also enough modern poise with it's citrus, spice, coumarin and labdanum tones that it wouldn't seem entirely out of place among the more toned-down ozonics of the post-2010 period. This one doesn't quite come across as romantic due to the heavy moss bottom, and that's another place where the oft-compared Havana has the advantage, but Montana Parfum D'Homme is otherwise balanced enough that it can serve almost all seasons and all occasions, which is about as generalist of a powerhouse as one can hope to ask for if they wanted to make this a daily signature. A great hidden gem.
16th February, 2018

Boss Bottled by Hugo Boss

Very pleasant, sweet, synthetic, floral apple opening. Almost feminine. This lasts for a few hours and then the powdery drydown is similar to the drydown of Eros or LeMale Eau Fraiche.

This one is young and casual but feels too sweet for summer. Should be fine in all other climates.

Good projection and lasts all workday.
16th February, 2018

Kuan Yin by Essentially Me

Complex. I smell osmanthus, though it's the natural kind that smells like tea, rather than the peach we've been led to expect in chemical perfumes. It's got a lemony brightness, and an indistinct round floral quality. The violet leaf comes off as metallic, combining with something (maybe the lotus?) to smell quite plasticky. Everything else comes together smell like a sweet fruity crush (the Indian fruit syrup, not the soda).

So yeah: sweet sticky fruit syrup, but really plasticky, with hints of tea and lemon. But there's so much happening and evolving that it seems to smell different every time I sniff it - sometimes openly unpleasant, and other times quite fun. One minute, I'm thinking "thumbs down", the next minute "thumbs up." I guess I'll just average it out and vote neutral...
15th February, 2018

Trade Wind by Essentially Me

Trade Wind's opening blast is fantastic - the minty violet leaf of Brut, the galbanum of Chanel No 19, and the vetiver/neroli mix of Mugler Cologne all come together over sharp, resinous orange. It's a glorious, though sadly short-lived cacophony. This all quickly settles into round, tea-ish coriander, highly sharpened with mint, over an essential oil background smell that skews green and citric orange. It's a nice natural perfume - the way the bright mint tames the essential oil smell is clever - though despite including a lot of my favorite perfume tropes, it didn't win me over.
15th February, 2018

Amber by Essentially Me

Amber goes on resinous, with a particularly piney note (maybe opoponax?) at the forefront. There isn't the upfront vanilla that makes mixes like this smell typically "amber", so it instead comes off as quite dry and almost herbal. Given a little time, a nice, sawdusty sandalwood comes in and starts to create the illusion of amber, though everything stays much more woody and dry than your typical amber perfume.

I'm usually a fan of natural amber scents (it seems to be the genre of perfume that works best when made with essential oils instead of chemicals) and Essentially Me's is no exception. I like that the dry woodiness makes it stand out as different in a crowded field, though at least a little creamy richness would have upped the luxury factor and improved the base and longevity.
15th February, 2018

Bleu de Chanel by Chanel

The development of Bleu de Chanel was more than likely supervized with baited breath. Chanel has never been a house to follow trends, largely due in part to perfumers like Ernest Beaux, Henri Robert, and Jacques Polge being such innovators in their field rather than imitators. Polge in particular has made nerely every masculine fragrance for the house, and has reorchestrated fragrances his hands never originally touched for their eau de parfum upgrade, with his style clearly leaning towards warmer and more resonant tones within the realm of men. However, if the decision to jump on a generalist bandwagon that Chanel themselves didn't start seemed like an uncharacteristic cash-grab from the reputable house, the least they could do is take the reigns away of said bandwagon and become genre leaders rather than followers, which is a tall order even for Polge. Whether or not Bleu de Chanel is a success in this regard is entirely dependent on how one feels about Chanel, aquatics, and indeed Polge himself, but I believe the answer to the question is yes.

How does the man who brought us both Antaeus (1981) and Ëgoïste (1990) do a 180-degree turnabout from such a track record of mossy or warm vanillic masculines to deliver a scent in a genre known for being unabashedly simple, cheap, linear, and sharply angular in design? Well, the answer is he doesn't, and inseed didn't go against his own stylistic quirks with Bleu de Chanel. The fragrance is paradoxically both what one expects from an aquatic and what one doesn't. We get a stereotypical opening of peppercorn, mint, and some tart yuzu-like synthetic citrus note. There is an oddly-warm nutmeg counterbalance here, and overall a good many more notes than found in the typical aquatic, but that's just the beginning. Vetiver, grapefruit, cedar, labadinum, and jasmine bring in the heart. Nothing too unconventional but definitely not all notes found in a standard aquatic. The grapefruit and cedar alone feel more at home in an early 2000's woody ozonic a la Calvin Klein Crave (2002) than in a blue fragrance, but Polge isn't done with us yet. The base gets rather warm as per his style with patchouli, a synthetic incense note, sandalwood, and ginger, which causes the confusing middle to make more sense.

In effect, Bleu de Chanel is an unusually complex aquatic done on both Chanel's and Polge's terms. It's a fresh scent from the onset that opens cool and then warms up the closer to the wearer's skin you go. It's not going to win over any old moss heads that would just the same splash their bottles of vintage Antaeus at it like holy water on a vampire, but for fans with broader tastes, this will quickly climb to the top of their favorite aquatics list for it's uniqueness in an otherwise ubiquitous genre. Yes, it's still plenty generalist and gives other such standbys like Armani's Acqua di Gio (1992) a run for their money, but this is by virtue of Bleu de Chanel's versatility and complexity rather than it's universal pleasantness. If you had to own just one aquatic, this could definitely vie for that honor, and if you're an aquatic fan that can only wear Chanel, you're also in good hands. This one isn't quite a year-rounder, as no aquatic really is, but even in EdT strength, this holds up more impressively in cold weather than any other blue juice I've tried. Imagine what the parfum can do in this situation. Well done Chanel, you've managed to take a boring masculine genre and turn it on it's head.
15th February, 2018