Latest Fragrance Reviews, Updated Daily

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    Way Off Scenter's avatar

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    Wild Lavender / Inglese by Lorenzo Villoresi

    Genre: Floral

    Lorenzo Villoresi takes a dry, herbaceous approach toward its featured note, as opposed to the sweet floral route explored in Caron Pour un Homme or Jicky. Whereas those two classics pair lavender with vanilla for a creamy olfactory texture, Villoresi leans on tart citrus, aromatic herbs (including rosemary and sage), and black pepper to emphasize lavender’s crisp, green qualities. The result is closer to Serge Lutens’s craggy, austere Gris Clair or Vero Kern’s idiosyncratic Kiki than to most conventional lavender scents.

    Though it offers moderate sillage and projection while it lasts, Wild Lavender exhibits very little staying power on my skin. I’m lucky if I get three hours out of it before it shrinks away into a nondescript clean musky-woody drydown. I’d be more inclined to rate Wild Lavender highly if it lasted longer, but with it’s poor endurance I’d hold out for the admittedly harder-to-find and more costly Gris Clair or Kiki when seeking a hard-edged lavender scent.

    09 July, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

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    White Linen by Estée Lauder

    Genre: Floral

    With its hair singeing blast of soapy aldehydes, White Linen has got to be one of the world’s most instantly recognizable perfumes. (Others include Angel, Fracas, Mitsouko, and Chanel No. 5.) It’s also one of the most aptly named. It’s so thoroughly bleached and laundered that no hint of dirt, color, or organic matter clings to it. Hence White Linen is the ultimate in anti-sex, a chemical chastity belt of impenetrable strength. I myself have always found it harsh and vinegary, and can never quite disassociate it from women of a certain age. On the other hand, it is unique, and in its soft, powdery tonka bean and sandalwood drydown, even beautiful. Ironically, were colored blue and labeled “_______ Sport” I could imagine it appealing to the same men who try to obscure every trace of mammalian masculinity from their skin by wearing scents like Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue or Acqua di Gio.

    09 July, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

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    West Side by Bond No. 9

    Genre: Woody Oriental

    Finally! A Bond No. 9 scent that doesn't come out of the bottle smelling exactly like something else. There's a massive rose here, and something that smells to me like an unlisted patchouli note, but the rose is far too sweet and winey to conjure up Voleur de Roses. West Side remains quite sweet as it develops, though the rose mellows to make room for other, somewhat indolic floral notes. There's some obvious vanilla in the foundation, along with a faintly animalic amber, and it's the floral, vanilla, and amber combination that dominates West Side for several hours on my skin. With time a raunchy little musk note pops out of the shadows to lend the scent a palpably "naughty” edge.

    Later on the pendulum swings back, as the rose detaches itself and moves forward once more. Then, over a couple of hours, the entire composition slowly folds down into a soft amber and vanilla drydown. West Side has more character than many of the other Bond No. 9 scents, and its relatively long lifespan is another advantage. While I don't think it's earthshaking, I do consider it one of the line's more worthwhile scents.

    09 July, 2014

    Colin Maillard's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Noël au Balcon by Etat Libre d'Orange

    Clean green-floral opening, sharp and metallic, already fairly dull from the very beginning, with also ginger, a sweetish base of vanillin, something resinous, slight delicate plummy notes with a sort of honey aftertaste. A smell which manages to be complex but boring, confused but uninspired, not even that pleasant to be honest, basically between resinous and soapy, with a silky metallic feel juxtaposed to a shampoo creaminess. Another Etat Libre d'Orange I am sadly unable to get – for me most of their scents are like looking at someone yelling and doing random stuff behind a window (you kind of see them, but don't hear them, so the whole thing does not make sense).

    5/10

    09 July, 2014

    Colin Maillard's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Charogne by Etat Libre d'Orange

    At the first sniff: vanillin, ginger, a salty note, incense (well, sort of...), ambrettolide, tonka, a white-silky floral accord dusty and nice even if a bit dull, then tiny fruity hints which I guess are due to red pepper, finally suede (needless to say the leather note is a depressing, ready-made plain safraleine note). Overall a sweet-salty, chemical scent, with not enough creativity or elegance or whatever to turn this into a positive feature. This does not mean it's bad or stinky, it actually smells nice, mediocrely nice and clean. The only point of interest in my opinion is a musky-salty note vaguely "animalic" too that makes this close to a "salty sweaty skin" feeling, but as the rest is quite a big yawn, it's not enough for me. Nothing new, nothing deep, nothing provocative, nothing interesting... as most part of Eld'O scents and their trendy and derivative "avantgardeness", like an Italian way of saying goes: "nothing mixed with nothing".

    5/10

    09 July, 2014

    cmac's avatar



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    Ambush (original) by Dana

    Jack, your comments on Ambush are interesting, especially your list of ingredients.
    I submit that Ambush is a (slightly mixed up) floral chypre. Using the Basenotes list of notes, oakmoss is a mid-note, not a base note, and patchouli is the base. Maybe to help counteract all the sweetness. Make no mistake, the original Ambush is very sweet!
    It was my first scent that I wore when I was 13, in cologne form, of course. Women wore Tabu, girls wore
    Ambush.
    As far as the old Canoe-Ambush debate, yeah, we were talking about it in the sixties. We all tried Canoe on, to compare, but none of us wanted to wear it.
    Dana now calls Canoe a classic fougere, but lists musk in the base. Is this really a" classic" fougere?
    There are some similarities in scent, probably from the citrus top notes, and the patchouli base, but Canoe doesn't have the heavy floral heart that Ambush has. My crowd thought Canoe smelled like aftershave, and Ambush was girly.
    So, Ambush doesn't seem fougere to me at all, I lived in its' heady and heavy florals for a few years. I do agree that there was carnation in there also.

    09 July, 2014

    phase4's avatar

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    Black Touch by Franck Oliver

    If Terre D' Hermes & Encre Noire had a baby this would be it.

    Not as inky as say Encre Noire & a hell of a lot cheaper than Hermes

    If your nose likes the two mentioned above it should like this gem as well.

    Unique,dark, & inexpensive. Thumbs up!

    09 July, 2014

    Mysticman's avatar

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    Touch for Men by Fred Hayman

    A more concentrated version of classic Brut. That's really all you need to know --- if you like Brut and like a stronger version of it, you'll like Touch. If not, you probably won't. For myself, I enjoy it once in a while, but it's not a scent I wear often.

    09 July, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

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    34 Boulevard Saint Germain by Diptyque

    Genre: Oriental

    I can’t help but feel that the brief behind this anniversary release is misguided: attempting to capture the olfactory atmosphere inside the Diptyque flagship store almost guarantees a disorganized mish-mash of perfumes and scented candles. Indeed, the disparate elements thrown together here not only fail to cohere into a solid structure; they actually manage to cancel one another out. Reminders of older Diptyque scents flash by in the top notes - some fig sap from Philosykos, a dab of cinnamon and clove from Eau Lente, some zesty green notes from L’Ombre dans l’Eau - but the overall impression is muddled, congested and ultimately bland.

    Once the initial flurry of floral, green, and spice notes settles down, 34 Boulevard St. Germain emerges as a relatively undistinguished and straightforward amber oriental fragrance with a mildly interesting overlay of fig. The fig and sweet amber accord is linear and long-lasting, as I have come to expect from a Diptyque fragrance, but it lacks the character displayed so boldly in this house’s early offerings, much less any sense of the occasion its release was meant to celebrate.

    09 July, 2014

    Colin Maillard's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Relique d'Amour (new) by Oriza L. Legrand

    The opening carries Oriza L. Legrand's "signature" crunchy greenness, humid and slightly decadent, here even more captivating and vibrant than in other scents by this house, with which Relique shares quite the same imaginative "world" – a sort of neoclassic, XVIII's century "botanical" feel, somehow ghastly and somehow lively, surely worth a try regardless of the quality of the scents (which sadly is not that good to me). As minutes pass it gets warmer as flowers emerge – dry, a bit pale but nice, especially because they smell more like the inner heart of flowers instead of petals – with also honey/pollen notes, a slight menthol/balsamic feel (pine), and finally incense (barely decent, don't expect nothing particularly dense, smoky or deep). The evolution finally tends towards a balsamic accord of flowers, spices (cumin), dusty resins, woods and incense. Quite simple in fact. Not bad, even decently pleasant, but overall in my opinion not worth its price and nothing special, mostly because of the quality of the materials, which to me smell all a bit plain and cheap.

    5,5-6/10

    09 July, 2014

    Colin Maillard's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Sir Champaca by Sir

    I rarely think of a fragrance that it smells "weird": this one does. The weirdness resides in its creamy, fruity (fig-like), woody (sandalwood) and floral (something like osmanthus – which I guess it's "champaca") accords oddly blended with a fougère structure comprising drier flowers, aldehydes, oak moss, balmy-earthy base notes. The juicy-creamy floral-fruity notes sit over a crunchy herbal-musky-woody base accord with a slight salty-animalic feel, the effect is more or less like drawing a wig and fake lashes to a Leonardo da Vinci portrait. The point is: what a bizarre creamy-sweetish fougère concoction, especially in the first stages. The only term I can think of to synthetically describe this is: fascinating kitsch. Eventually it reaches a more pleasant drydown, surprisingly modern too, always comprising unusual creamy-tea like flower notes on woods, which carriers a peculiar, slightly feminine elegance, but a bit more balanced on the woody side. It may seem confused, but it isn't, it's just halfway kitsch and modern – the concept is modern, the actual composition is a bit kitsch. Not the best one around, but funny!

    5,5-6/10

    09 July, 2014

    Fleurine's avatar

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    Journey Woman by Amouage

    I feel like this is *my* Amouage (although I also have Ubar Woman, and Lyric Woman)...this is a stunning floriental that follows the note pyramid above, in a delicate and lightly whispering way. An astonishing elixir.
    Although they smell nothing alike, to me this *vibe* is similar to a Fleur Oriental by MIller Harris, only the Amouage is better. This is a must own for a lot of people, I am sure, but for osmanthus lovers especially, this may well break your heart.

    09 July, 2014

    Fleurine's avatar

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    Terracotta Le Parfum by Guerlain

    The earthy, summery smell of a warm terracotta roof in a seaside town in Italy. Sundrenched coconut/carnation. Sold out everywhere so buy one if you can find one.

    09 July, 2014

    naz1's avatar



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    Blu Mediterraneo Capri Orange / Arancia Di Capri by Acqua di Parma

    This is a delightful, juicy orange scent. Opens with green, herbaceous petitgrain and a slightly bitter orange note. After about a half hour, the petitgrain fades and I start to pick up on some caramel in the background. It's sweet, but not sugary, and I don't notice any development after the caramel and musk come through. Personally, that doesn't bother me, as I really love the orange/caramel/musk. Reminds me of mandarin oranges. I also love the combination of orange and cardamom, so it's a bit disappointing that I can't pick up on any cardamom.

    I have to give it a neutral rating though, because the longevity is just not there. For the amount that Acqua di Parma charges, I shouldn't have to glue my nose to my wrist to get a whiff so soon after applying.

    09 July, 2014

    hirch_duckfinder's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    Baldessarini Del Mar Seychelles by Baldessarini

    A superb fragrance. Marine and tobacco works brilliantly and gives the impression of a substantial man on holiday. The collar and tie are off, the sun is shining!
    A very long musky/smooth/fresh dry down.

    09 July, 2014

    JackTwist's avatar

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    Parfum d'Été by Kenzo

    Described as a green fruity floral by Barbara Herman, this is indeed that, beginning with a "candied green violet" and calming down after its initial blast to an acceptable, though hardly memorable, light summery scent. The cedar base is a bit too intrusive.

    This is not a bad scent, it simply doesn't impress or develop. What you get is what you get. There is a slight plastic quality to it, which must be the synthetic peach or hyacinth or both. Not off-putting, but decidedly there.

    I wish I could have liked it better, but alas!

    Top notes: Peach, Hyacinth, Rosewood, Violet
    Middle notes: Muguet, Cyclamen, Rose, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, Orris
    Base notes: Sandalwood, Musk Cedar, Amber

    09 July, 2014

    rbaker's avatar



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    Armani Attitude by Giorgio Armani

    Lemon and coffee make for delightful top notes, with the zest of the citrus fruit providing a distinctive counterbalance to the rich depth of the coffee impression. After the first few hours the lemon vanishes, being replaced by a nice lavender with and amber undertone. Later in the drydown cardamom and a mildly smoky patchouli are added, and provide a nice depth and complexity that is enhanced by a good opopanax aroma. In the later stages of the base impression a wood component is added that at that stage is rather dull and generic. After about ten hours the wood improves into a good cedar note, and the coffee becomes stronger; this swansong of cedar and coffee is a great farewell. Apart from the weak phase in the second half of the drydown this is a pleasant composition, quite well blended in most stages, with good silage and projection. On my skin the most impressive part is the tremendous longevity of over thirteen hours, or make that nearly fourteen if you are superstitious.
    Overall not without flaws, but the performance lifts it into a positive score. Good for warmer autumn days.

    09 July, 2014

    bFlay's avatar

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    Xeryus by Givenchy

    Very dated and watered down generic woods fragrance. Undiscernable citrus notes. Again, just translates to watery notes with no punch or personality. The amber is more than just a basenote...it is really the only dominant scent after 10 minutes. Xeryus is bland and inoffensive. Does not project much. Lasts 4 to 5 hours on skin.

    09 July, 2014

    bokaba's avatar

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    Eau de Quinine by Pinaud

    While Pinaud's Eau de Quinine is marketed as a hair tonic, it can be used as an aftershave or cologne as well. EdQ was one of the better surprises I've had lately with cheapo fragrances. EdQ cannot compete with Crown's now discontinued venerable Quinine, but Pinaud's gets the job done. There is certainly a whack of medicinal quinine bark in the mix, but there is also a good deal of musk, must, fust, and Victoriana. Pinaud EdQ reminds me of the original Shulton Old Spice with a good coating of 19th Century flair. Not bad for under $10.

    09 July, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

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    Vraie Blonde by Etat Libre d'Orange

    Genre: Floral Oriental

    Etat Libre d’Orange is a frustrating outfit. The silly names and labels are no doubt meant to be bold and provocative, but in fact evince the sensibilities of twelve year-old boys huddled over a porn magazine in the back of a school bus. The scents themselves are most often dull (Nombril Immense, Eloge du Traitre), ugly (Encens et Bubblegum), or both (Sécrétions Magnifiques). Vraie Blond is a happy exception. The scent opens on fizzy aldehydes and a bright, juicy citrus note with an unusually appetizing and refreshing quality. (The pyramid says peach, but this is not the lactonic peach of Mitsouko or Chinatown.) The fruit is soon joined by a paradoxically bitter, astringent myrrh, indolic white flowers, and then a sweaty, animalic patchouli. The resulting olfactory structure is rife with internal contradictions: it is at once brisk and dirty, vivid and putrefying, austere and libidinous, giddy and dangerous. In short, it is, alongside Charogne and Vierges & Toreros, one of the few Etat Libre d’Orange products that fills the reckless, iconoclastic promise of the company’s marketing and press materials.

    The inspired lunacy of Vraie Blond’s structure can’t sustain itself forever, and it’s the patchouli that takes over for the drydown. The scent projects well for four or more hours of wear, but it’s never overbearing. In fact, for a fragrance so rich in patchouli, Vraie Blond is surprisingly buoyant and transparent. Perhaps that’s the crispy fruit or the sparkling aldehydes at work. The impression I’m left with is of a lighthearted, witty fragrance with a well developed sense of fun – kind of what Paris Hilton or Britney Spears might smell like if either of them had a brain.

    09 July, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

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    Wazamba by Parfum d'Empire

    Genre: Woody Oriental

    Wazamba is a spicy, fruity incense fragrance that smells like something Bertrand Duchaufour might have composed for the Comme des Garçons Incense Series. It opens with a rich, boozy accord of sweet dried fruit and dark, smoky spices that’s very soon overlaid by cool, camphoraceous conifer resin and astringent myrrh. The juxtaposition of warm, edible and cool, medicinal notes generates a compelling internal tension – a simultaneously disturbing and seductive olfactory dissonance that works on the nose the way the lush, exotic harmonies of late romantic composers like Mahler and Strauss work on the ear.

    Having brought up Bertrand Duchaufour, I might mention that Wazamba's combination of fruit, spices, and incense bears some passing structural resemblance to Duchaufour’s Jubilation XXV for Amouage, though Wazamba’s chill fir resin note has no parallel in the Amouage. Wazamba is also more assertively sweet and fruity, and emphasizes myrrh where Jubilation XXV leans on frankincense. The combination of conifer resin and incense also allies Wazamba to some degree with Comme des Garçons’ Zagorsk, but Wazamba’s opoponax and conspicuous fruit notes render it much softer, warmer and sweeter than its gaunt and icy Russian-inspired counterpart.

    Wazamba is reasonably potent, with moderate sillage. It lasts well on my skin, and I find the sweet, resinous oriental drydown of opoponax and labdanum extremely comforting. Wazamba is a vibrant scent that exhibits plenty depth and personality, and I’d encourage anyone who enjoys incense-based fragrances to give it a try.

    09 July, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

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    Week-End a Deauville by Nicolaï

    Genre: Citrus

    Perhaps every perfume house needs an aquatic “sport” fragrance in its lineup. Patricia de Nicolaï appears to think so, since there’s no other obvious rationale for Week-End a Deauville’s existence. This is an uncharacteristically commonplace and sloppy composition coming from so normally meticulous a nose. It’s basically a pleasant but unremarkable woody citrus cologne dressed up in a hefty dollop of the melony aquatic aromachemical Calone. As such it offers little not already to be found in designer standbys like Acqua di Gio, half a dozen variants of Axe, and a sizeable raft of deodorant sticks. Week-End a Deauville proves – if proof was needed - that even Nicolaï is capable of making junk.

    09 July, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

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    Wall Street by Bond No. 9

    Genre: Aquatic

    The initial resemblance to Creed's Silver Mountain Water is pretty explicit - even shocking. True, Wall Street is a bit less sweet, and the pronounced cucumber top note makes it the more blatantly aquatic of the pair...but the accusations of plagiarism are still hard to ignore.

    The Bond scent doesn't distinguish itself too much from Silver Mountain Water as it ages, either, despite a different list of middle and base notes. Nor is the drydown any improvement on the original. Next to the Creed's ambergris reconstruction Wall Street's synthetic wood drydown smells harsh and bitter. I'm not impressed.

    09 July, 2014

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    Voyage by Nautica

    Genre: Fougère

    Five minutes into testing Nautica’s Voyage, and I was fully expecting to nod off. Blue liquid? Check. Aquatic top notes? Check. Fresh fougère structure? Check. But before my head had a chance to fall forward and my eyelids droop, something interesting happened. Where most aquatic fougères hum along through a Calone and woody amber midsection, Voyage veers off into an aggressively sweet tropical fruit and floral accord that could have come right out of a contemporary women’s fruity floral. What’s become tiresome in women’s fragrances is a novelty in the realm of men’s scents, and I perked up unexpectedly when it arose. At its heart Voyage smells remarkably like a pineapple-passion fruit juice blend that’s served at my favorite resort on Maui. It’s impossible to take seriously, but it’s undeniably bright, happy, and at the same time strangely luxurious. I can’t shake the beach and palm trees imagery, and so can’t see wearing Voyage on anything other than a hot summer day or an island vacation. (In that respect I guess the name is apt.)

    Voyage’s drydown sadly reverts back to standard “clean,” with blatantly chemical synthetic woods, laundry detergent, and a too-generous helping of Calone for base notes. Had it gone to a warm musk with quality woods, or even a synthetic ambergris, it would have been a better end. Yet even with its disappointing exit, Voyage is far more interesting than most scents in this genre, and if you have to have an aquatic fougère fragrance, this one is at least worth investigating.

    09 July, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

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    Voleur de Roses by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    Genre: Leather
    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The opening accord of dry, yeasty rose and patchouli is exquisite. Then, after I've worn it for five or ten minutes, the patchouli and rose mutate into…cannabis smoke. That’s right: it doesn't smell like a head shop - it smells like my brother-in-law's bong!

    When the drydown arrives, two or three hours later, it's a lovely arrangement of woods, but what Voleur de Roses does in the middle is beyond my tolerance. I won't appear in public smelling like I've just smoked a whole pound of weed.

    09 July, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

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    Vol de Nuit by Guerlain

    Genre: Woody Oriental

    Vol de Nuit is an odd experience for me, especially in light of other Guerlain classics like Mitsouko, Shalimar, and Apres l’Ondee. I love the sharp galbanum laden opening, and the transition to plush, semi-sweet iris and vanilla is a delightful surprise. The drydown of lingering vanilla with dark spices is a treat as well. What’s so funny, you ask? The whole thing zips by in less than half an hour on my skin. And that’s in pure parfum concentration! Am I anosmic to most of Vol de Nuit’s development, or is this time lapse perfumery? I don’t suppose I’ll ever know.

    Ephemeral as it is, I give Vol de Nuit a thumbs up because, like a rainbow or a butterfly, it’s beautiful while it lasts.

    09 July, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

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    Vitriol d'Oeillet by Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido

    Genre: Floral

    If, like me, the name “Vitriol d’Oeillet” had you dreaming of a transgressive floral successor to the brilliant Tubéreuse Criminelle, dream on. This isn’t all that vitriolic, and it’s not even much of an oeillet. In all fairness, I’m not sure how you’d do a convincing carnation soliflore with the current restrictions on eugenol. (The distinctively medicinal aromachemical common to cloves and carnation reconstructions.)

    What Lutens delivers is not so much an angry carnation as a spicy-woody rose. That’s not a bad thing in itself; in fact it puts Vitriol d’Oeillet in the august company of Caron’s brilliant Parfum Sacré, Amouage Lyric Man/Woman, Czech & Speake’s No. 88, and Frédéric Malle’s Noir Epices. Vitriol d’Oeillet shares with most of these its notes of clove and black pepper, but its profile seems somehow less distinctive than any of them. It has neither the reckless intensity of Noir Epices, the exotic opulence of Parfum Sacré, nor the oudh and incense fueled mystery of the Amouage or Czech & Speake.

    For a perfume house that made its reputation on bold, supersaturated compositions, Vitriol d’Oeillet smells oddly subdued. Indeed, the recent series of conventional – even apologetic – compositions, from Nuit de Cellophane and Bas de Soie to L’Eau Serge Lutens, leaves me wondering what’s become of the outfit that gave us Muscs Koublaï Khän, Ambre Sultan, Tubéreuse Criminelle, and La Myrrhe? This scent is pleasant and competent, but hardly likely to inspire passion, much less controversy. Meanwhile, for a convincing carnation soliflore, vitriolic or not, I’d aim for Comme des Garçons’ Series 2 Red: Carnation.

    09 July, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

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    Visit by Azzaro

    Genre: Woody Oriental

    Very nice nutmeg and citrus top notes are partly obscured by an opening burst of chemical noise, but warm resins, woods, and an animalic musk quickly fill in the olfactory space beneath the persistent nutmeg. The result is a spicy, semi-sweet woody oriental construct resting on an amber foundation. Once it’s settled in, Visit is a smooth, comfortable fragrance whose enveloping warmth belies its blue color. I was not surprised to learn that Visit was composed by Annick Ménardo, as it bears stylistic fingerprints familiar from her earlier masculine orientals such as Jaïpur Homme and Body Kouros. Visit is a plainer, simpler scent than either predecessor, sporting neither Jaïpur’s sweet powdery heliotrope nor the licorice and gourmand elements of Body Kouros.

    Visit doesn’t evolve all that much with wear. Instead, it holds a steady, linear course for several hours before its central structure gives way. The drydown that follows is mostly cedar and musk with lingering sweet amber and perhaps a hint of opoponax. Is Visit terribly original? No. But it it’s an enjoyable, well executed fragrance that’s neither crass nor entirely drab, which is more than can be said of most mass market men’s scents of the past decade. It feels solid, straightforward, and balanced, and I imagine it would be very easy to live with.

    09 July, 2014

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    Virgilio by Diptyque

    Genre: Green

    Virgilio breeds either adamant supporters or indignant detractors, with few responses in between. I fall in the former camp, and hold Virgilio alongside Eau Lente as one of my favorites from this house. In fact, while available, Virgilio was one of my favorite green fragrances.

    The first thing I notice in Virgilio is a very fresh cut grass note, with just a touch of sharp citrus and some subdued florals. It's a vibrant, verdant opening that evokes a moist early spring breeze. The citrus note grows stronger and sharper as it goes, until it threatens to overwhelm the scent completely. Just before it can, honey, hay, and a minty-sweet basil note move in and blend into a refreshing sweet herbal heart. The heart accord is familiar and evocative to me, but I can't easily pin down the associations. Could it be chervil in a garden? Or perhaps a blend of parsley and tarragon? At any rate, the accord is potent and naturalistic. Once it settles in it continues without much more development, as do so many Diptyque fragrances. When the drydown arrives it presents soft honey and woods that persist for a few hours. This was an icon among green fragrances, and I still lament its demise.

    09 July, 2014

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    Visa by Robert Piguet

    Genre: Oriental

    Under review here is the 2007 release, composed by Aurélien Guichard. Guichard created Visa between his breakthrough opus Chinatown and his reformulation of Azzaro Couture. Between them these three scents establish a distinct personal style, but they also represent different facets of a single, extremely fertile idea: a hybrid between the lactonic chypre genre, (whose antecedents go as far back as Mitsouko,) and gourmand floral orientals in the modern mold of Angel. The lynchpin note is patchouli, which appears to bind the chypre and oriental components along a common axis in each of the three scents. Besides those patchouli sutures, evidence of common paternity includes boldly three-dimensional lactone-based fruit accords and vanillic base notes so emphatically powdery they cause a pleasant, if peculiar, sensation of ground chalk in the nostrils. Of the three sisters, Visa is the darkest, the spiciest, and the most oriental in its overall flavor. In many respects it may also be the most approachable and easy to wear of the three. It should find an especially receptive audience among those who enjoy the overall structure of Chinatown, but find it too intensely sweet or dissonant to wear with comfort.

    Visa’s top notes are among the most immediately captivating I’ve encountered in a long time. Lush fruit, orange blossom, vanilla, a flourish of aldehydes, a touch of smoky leather, and a subtly pungent animalic element (synthetic civet is my guess) play a grand harp glissando across the olfactory centers. The olfactory colors shift and merge into a soft, luxurious, and utterly seamless accord that simultaneously conjures brushed suede, caramelized spiced fruit, and tropical blossoms, all wrapped in Guichard’s trademark powdery vanilla. Patchouli is ever-present in the foundation, though it does not register strongly as an individual note. Instead it works alongside the quietly persistent animalic musk from the opening to imbue a sense of living warmth to the entire composition.

    Visa is potent without ever seeming crass or loud, and offers substantial sillage and longevity. The beautifully soft powdery/mossy vanillic drydown remains a joy for many hours after application. Fully worthy to stand beside its Bond No. 9 and Azzaro siblings, not to mention the outstanding recent reconstructions of Bandit and Baghari. (The latter again by Guichard.)

    09 July, 2014

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