Latest Fragrance Reviews, Updated Daily

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    Nuit de Cellophane by Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido

    Genre: Floral

    I’m beginning to wonder if Lutens and Sheldrake are running out of ideas. Their last few releases strike me as retreads of territory that they’ve long since explored: Sarrasins a subdued re-working of Tubéreuse Criminelle’s shocking camphor and white flower accord, this time done with jasmine rather than tuberose; Louve another Rahät Loukoum with the volume dialed down by a half; and El Attarine a more demure Arabie with a rose bow on top. Now comes Nuit de Cellophane, which is a fruity floral. And how original is that?

    If the piercingly sweet, chemical fruit note that opens Nuit de Cellophane is meant to be novel or arresting, it’s an hilarious miscalculation, since every vulgar, juvenile fruity floral scent since roughly 1990 has opened with the same thoroughly nasty flourish. I suppose ironic humor has as much a place in the art of perfumery as in any other, but Nuit de Cellophane is a one-liner that goes nowhere special after its pratfall entrance. The remainder of its act is an apricot syrup and polite white flower accord that fades into a bland, powdery-sweet woody oriental drydown. As Lutens fragrances go this one is not all that potent, and I can’t even detect it on my skin two hours after a moderate application. Why, I wonder, did they bother?

    21st June, 2014

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    Nu Eau de Toilette by Yves Saint Laurent

    Genre: Woody Oriental

    Nu is a glamorous, exotic, spiced amber oriental that manifests depth, complexity, and drama without undue bulk or opacity. It very clearly descends from Opium, Cinnabar, and Coco, but it is more lithe and supple than any of those predecessors. Nu delivers all the cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, and amber you’d expect, but they are offset by a contrasting accord of black pepper and smoky frankincense that slices through all that dense, sweet matter like a scalpel blade. As a result, Nu feels thoroughly modern where the unrelieved weight of Opium or Cinnabar can smell dated. In fact, it smells like a grand 1980s amber oriental viewed in the slenderizing glass of Féminité du Bois, Chaos, and Dolce Vita. The incense and pepper also recall Parfum Sacré, but Caron’s peppery incense oriental centers on a huge rose note entirely absent in Nu.

    Like many a dark oriental fragrance, Nu seems to open in medias res, and to the extent that there are any top notes at all it’s a resinous bergamot that comes to my attention. The spices, amber, and incense are quick to follow, accompanied by a vanillic floral accord no doubt meant to represent the pyramid’s “white orchid” and “wild orchid.” For several hours the floral, spice, and resin components interweave in an olfactory pattern that seems to shift and rearrange itself from moment to moment. Eventually the floral notes subside, and then the spices, leaving base notes of benzoin, opoponax, cedar, musk, and perhaps some labdanum to carry the drydown. Sillage and projection are both substantial, even well into the drydown. Yet powerful as it seems, Nu never feels oppressively heavy.

    While marketed to women during its commercial run, I find Nu easy to wear, and I really can’t imagine any man who’s comfortable in Arabie, Ambre Sultan, JHL, or Ambre Russe feeling self conscious wearing this. Too bad it’s gone – Nu was a fine scent, and a fully worthy member of the Yves Saint Laurent lineup.

    21st June, 2014

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    Notorious by Ralph Lauren

    Genre: Floral Oriental

    Lauren’s Notorious opens with a weird, pinched, sour accord that ought to be repellent but instead manages to fascinate. It’s a bit like a freeway crackup: awful, but you just can’t keep from staring. I think this opening is the result of a bright, synthetic fruity note (black currant?) in concert with a savory, almost fungal accent that’s vaguely suggestive of decomposition. I know – it sounds great, doesn’t it!

    Notorious sweetens and deepens progressively until a attains a dark, boozy, syrupy texture that would not be out of place in a liqueur. The odd fungal accent persists in the background, at once preventing Notorious from smelling too “edible” and separating it from the mass of sweet fruity florals that crowd the shelves behind the women’s perfume counters these days.

    I have to say I’m disappointed that Notorious sheds much of its decadent, boozy character after the first hour of wear, thereby exposing a more conventional powdery floral-oriental structure. If it held on to its more perverse attributes for longer, I might consider Notorious a minor masterpiece. As it is the scent’s development is profoundly anticlimactic. A letdown then, but still better than the usual junk.

    21st June, 2014

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    Nostalgia by Santa Maria Novella

    Genre: Leather

    Fun, fun, fun until daddy takes the T-bird away! Nostalgia does indeed start out smelling like new tires and auto fuel. I suspect that like Tubéreuse Criminelle, there's a menthol or eucalyptus note creeping around here somewhere, and that it's responsible for some of the rubber/petroleum product vibe.

    Once these top notes clear off, I'm left with a very clean and ever so slightly powdery leather accord that persists for about an hour or two. The drydown is much more conventional than the opening, dominated as it is by powdery musk and creamy woods.

    Do I like it? Yes, I suppose so, but the top notes leave me expecting something much more novel and dramatic in the development - something that never quite occurs.

    21st June, 2014

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    Nombril Immense by Etat Libre d'Orange

    Genre: Woods

    Lots of tart citrus and a very conspicuous black pepper note to start with. The scent soon turns extremely soapy, with a heavy dose of lavender. (Not listed in the maker's description.) Patchouli takes its time appearing, but once it does it fills the foreground. The opopanax adds depth to the drydown, but the strong patchouli and conspicuous ambrette seed establish a vibe that's just a bit too head shop/psychadelic for me. This "immense navel" apparently belongs to some old hippie dreaming of 1967, but if this is your thing, why not just get out your bong and start staring at your own belly button?

    21st June, 2014

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    Noir Epices by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

    Genre: Woody Oriental

    Chalk one up for truth in advertising. Noir Epices is just that: dark and brooding, like Byron's Manfed in a particularly grim mood. The nutmeg, black pepper, and clove blend with a clean rose note to produce a melancholic heart accord that is as beautiful as it is sober.

    The pepper and clove hang around to join the patchouli and woods in a rich, yet utterly sugarless drydown. I get a whiff of barbershop a few hours into the development, but it's not enough to cheapen the scent at all. Instead, it adds a tinge of nostalgia to this already moody composition.

    This is a gripping fragrance, and also very formal to my nose. Malle markets it as unisex, but I think it would take a very special woman to pull this one off. Moderate sillage and projection, and reasonable staying power.

    21st June, 2014

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    L'Eau Froide by Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido

    Genre: Woods

    L'Eau Froide's mentholated frankincense top note is an interesting play on the name ("Cold Water") and on the "chilly" facet of the incense note. Unfortunately, the construct collapses almost immediately into a very ordinary mild white musk drydown that feels more like laundry detergent than a personal fragrance. The clever incense-on-ice idea is executed with far greater flair and conviction in Comme des Garçons' excellent Zagorsk. L'Eau Froide is an intriguing concept that falls short on delivery.

    21st June, 2014

    vawallpa's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    Mandarina Duck Black Extreme by Mandarina Duck

    You can smell the bergamot and pepper in the top notes. It quickly becomes quite fruity and almost smells like Xeryus Rouge but a bit more dark. Nice stuff :)

    21st June, 2014

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    Potion for Man by Pull & Bear

    great men's fragrance, in fact one of my most favourite to date. It combines elements of all my previous favourite scents (a hint of calvin klein's obsession, Fresh's Sugar Blossom & Tobacco Flower, Hollister's short-lived Drift) and the best bits of Aqua di Gio.

    Not over-potent so feels light and fresh, absolute favourite of the moment, of life? Feel like this scent was made just for me.

    21st June, 2014

    bFlay's avatar

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    Brit Rhythm for Men by Burberry

    This is almost a thumbs down rating. BRIT RHYTHM is very simple sweet medicinal cherry cough syrup. Upon dry down, an occassional leather, tobacco note pops up that makes you think "oh, now that's sorta interesting. Think I might like that..." but it is a fleeting sensation. This is a very mild and light scent. Very linear and unremarkable. I don't see a correlation to BURBERRY BRIT at all.

    21st June, 2014

    Colin Maillard's avatar

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    Curzon by Geo F Trumper

    One of the finest among Geo F Trumper range of eau de colognes. Classic and bold opening of citrus/bergamot, floral notes of geranium, labdanum, them juniper and cumin, on a soft, aromatic, elegant woody base with also tobacco, hay, patchouli, mossy notes and perhaps a hint of vanilla too. Although it is not listed I clearly smell a leather note, which may be an "illusion" given by the mossy-earthy notes but still that is the effect – a noble, dusty, refined leather à la Knize Ten, rich and dark, with a "toasted" feel and a slight animalic-chypre heart, but with a softer and mellow nuance too. Simple, but distinctive, utterly sophisticated (in an "old school" meaning – a "British gentleman" sort of elegance, this meaning also with a hint of relaxed irony). Elegant and austere, but not heavy, on the contrary it's delicate – not light – and with a pleasant, long-lasting drydown mostly comprising patchouli, floral notes and just a bit of leather. Kind of barbershop-vibe drydown in short. One of the most pleasant classic colognes I've ever tried, given the honest price it's definitely worth at least a try.

    8,5/10

    21st June, 2014

    Zgb's avatar

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    Boss Bottled Unlimited by Hugo Boss

    Unoriginal, bland scent with a poor performance. Watery apple cider, fruity smell that hardly projects, if at all. Reminds a bit of Lacoste L.12.12. White, but Lacoste has more game in it, smells more potent and, I'm not saying it's not synthetic, but has more refined approach than this poor try wannabe.

    21st June, 2014

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    Baldessarini Nautic Spirit by Baldessarini

    Similar to something I already tried, but can't remember what it was. That says a lot about both. Nautic Spirit they call it. Nothing nautic about and even less spiritual. Bland, characterless scent that offers nothing.

    21st June, 2014

    Colin Maillard's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Cuba Express by AbdesSalaam Attar Profumo

    The opening is velvety and rich in rhum and tobacco, with a powerful note of cloves and a musky, animalic chypre base with mossy-herbal notes. Strongly boozy and spicy but also a bit gourmand thanks to cocoa beans and a slightly roasted-caramelised note which resembles to a dark and sticky ambery-resinous note (opoponax?) and perhaps dark tar/birch woods. As minutes pass the cloves note emerges even more boldly with its medicinal-pungent personality, always on an aromatic and velvety base rich in colours and nuances in the typical style of Dubrana – which is a master in "freezing" the kaleidoscopic power of natural components, letting them free to express their soul. An austere, elegant, nostalgic, dusty, slightly ghastly and elusive, with a medicinal vein and a lot of woody-resinous-spicy mysticism. I thought of Rume by Slumberhouse, which belongs to a totally different imagination, but still there is a similarity between some notes, notably the explosion of cloves on a boozy, warm, slightly gourmand and incredibly aromatic base – from coffee, to cocoa, to a balsamic aniseed breeze all around. As most of Dubrana's works I had the pleasure to discover, it's a perfectly-crafted scent, cozy, charming, to listen to. For Dubrana, letting the materials "speak" comes before letting his creativity speak – never met such a respectful, almost mystical attitude towards ingredients. Sadly the longevity is fairly short, although that is never my first concern.

    7,5/10

    21st June, 2014

    Colin Maillard's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Portugal by Geo F Trumper

    A good, refreshing classic "eau de cologne", with bergamot, citrus, lavender, ylang, neroli, hay, a slight aniseed aftertaste and a base of light oak moss with perhaps also amber and pine needles. It reminded me of a lighter version of Azemour les Orangers by Parfum d'Empire, because of the hay-oak moss-anise flavour. The name quite fits the scent, as it's a fresh, herbal, balmy, zesty Mediterranean dense cologne with a velvety earthy-mossy feel. Citrus and lavender give a bit of a "dishwasher liquid" feel, but it's still pleasant. Cozy, refined, understated, a bit short-lived but that is how a "toilet water" is supposed to perform.

    7/10

    21st June, 2014

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    Insensé by Givenchy

    It's got the dirty, raw, floral herbality of Rochas Globe, the amber and fir base of Jil Sander's Feeling Man, and the sparkling, nearly-citrus aldehydes of a classic Chanel. So what's wrong with this little overachiever, this 'everything wannabe?' Nothing. I was just leading you on. Insense is a beautifully crafted and surprisingly spare floral scent made for men and enjoyed by anyone with a right mind. It strikes a humming, middling chord so even and so sensible that it could be worn easily in any clime or time of year. I really lament the failure of the attempted resurgence of the masculine floral from 1990-95 because it spawned several of my favorite fragrances, and I do appreciate a well-built, non-fruity floral. Insense is an 'everyman's floral,' and it hits all the right notes and never leans too hard. It is a Beyond Paradise for 'aquatic' haters. It should have been a classic.
    I'd rate this among the best of Givenchy's work, just under Ysatis, and right alongside Xeryus and Givenchy III. Beautiful stuff.

    21st June, 2014

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    Nobile by Gucci

    Genre: Fougère

    What’s most remarkable to me about Nobile is how utterly at odds it is with what the Gucci brand has come to represent: logo-encrusted goods that are loud, graceless, and embarrassingly crass. No wonder they don’t make it any more.

    Nicely executed, if conventional lavender and bergamot top notes lead one to expect a well-made traditional fougère. By and large, that’s exactly what you get. For a 1980s fougère, Nobile is actually quite subdued and civilized. It demonstrates little of the testosterone-fueled brawn that oozes from scents like Jules, Kouros, Or Black, or Lauder for Men. With its herbaceous aromatic notes, clean tobacco, and crisp citrus, it gives off a comfortable, sophisticated, yet decidedly conservative gentleman’s club air. It’s neither racy nor dull, but rather poised and polished. While it smells nothing like them, I imagine it will appeal to the same sensibilities that appreciate Chanel pour Monsieur, Eau Sauvage, or a clean vetiver like Guerlain’s or Givenchy’s. Like these, Nobile could have been a timeless classic. Instead it’s gone.

    21st June, 2014

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    Noa by Cacharel

    Genre: Floral

    I couldn’t at first make out why so many reviewers refer to Noa as “light” and “sheer.” If you ask me, Noa’s fruity floral top notes are bright and potent, and maybe even a little bit crass, though also pretty in a buxom, ponytail-twirling, bottle blond kind of way. Honeyed ylang-ylang, green jasmine, some discreet spices, and a soapy white musk soon establish a new accord that’s much more refined than the brash opening, though still nothing I’d refer to as quiet or subtle.

    It’s only after a half an hour to an hour’s wear that Noa transforms, rather abruptly, into the scent that everybody else describes. The content doesn’t alter so much as rearrange itself. The ylang-ylang takes a step back and the spices blur, while the soapy aspect of the musk intensifies, resulting in a smoother texture and a marked reduction in volume. It’s as if, presto-change-o, the saucy gal of the opening puts her hair up, takes off her costume jewelry, dabs away some of her makeup, and transforms in plain sight into a staid and respectable corporate manager. The metamorphosis is impressive, but neither phase completely satisfies me: the first is coarser than I'd prefer, and the second is just a bit too smooth, bordering on faceless. I understand the appeal, but remain unmoved.

    21st June, 2014

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    No. 89 by Floris

    No. 89 opens on a potent, retro, barbershop accord of soapy lavender, bitter petitgrain and citrus that mellows as rose and geranium well up beneath it. The heart includes bergamot and nutmeg alongside the aromatics and rose, all displayed against a background of vetiver and sweetened woods. For a time the result smells rich, in a kind of staid, punctilious manner, but the olfactory experience peaks at about 30 minutes. From that point forward the petitgrain, bergamot, and allied citrus notes retreat to leave the composition feeling progressively flatter as it goes.

    Warm musk, a touch of moss, and powdery amber decorate the vetiver and sandalwood base notes. The musk interacts with labdanum in the amber blend to cast an interesting animalic shadow over the drydown, while the very last stage sees the sandalwood and vetiver lingering as a quiet, semi-sweet skin scent. Though No. 89 comes on strong, it spends most of its development in a more reserved mode. After an hour of wear the sillage and projection, while hardly weak, do not display the power hinted at in the opening. As a result, No. 89 is actually more wearable and versatile than it might otherwise have been. Versatile, wearable, and dignified, but with its staunch reserve, it doesn’t quite capture my imagination or inspire love.

    21st June, 2014

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    No. 88 by Czech & Speake

    Genre: Woods

    Pluran mentions No. 88 in his review of Montale's Black Aoud, and the comparison is quite apt. Both are rich, dark, woody rose scents of tremendous intesity. I agree with pluran's assertion that No. 88 is the more complex and rounded of the two. It's more polished than Black Aoud, but that extra polish makes it less arresting than the Montale scent. Both are outstanding masculine rose-based fragrances, but I prefer the blunt savagery of Black Aoud to the sophisticated romance of No. 88. Personal preferences aside, No. 88 is a great scent, and a "must-try" for anybody who assumes that roses are not meant for men.

    21st June, 2014

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    No. 22 by Chanel

    Genre: Floral

    The aldehyde bomb to end all aldehyde bombs? The scent that puts older sister No. 5’s use of aldehydes to shame? Yup. No doubt about it. The only other place I’ve smelled so pure an expression of aldehydes as No. 22’s opening blast is White Linen. Want to know what aldehydes smell like? This is it.

    As with White Linen, I find the unbridled aldehydes unpleasantly harsh, and No. 22 displeases my nose so long as they persist in full strength. Happily, the Chanel’s aldehydes settle down and blend into their rosy floral surroundings more quickly and completely than the Lauder’s, so that No. 22 morphs into a more attractive scent inside of a half an hour’s wear. The aldehydes that persist render No. 22’s rose and jasmine dominated heart intensely “perfumey,” and establish an acutely nostalgic mood. A mild, but clearly discernable frankincense note, unexpected in this resolutely retro context, lends the composition a welcome touch of solemn mystery.

    No. 22 is a drier, colder, and starchier scent than No. 5, and to me it also seems among the least dependent upon iris of the whole Chanel ‘Les Exclusifs’ line. The drydown smells to me of makeup, possibly because I associate this kind of aldehyde-laden soapy floral with heavily made up older female relatives. While No. 22 is not the kind of fragrance I’d enjoy wearing, or even really smelling on someone else, it is a magnificent example of its type. If you like this sort of thing, I don’t imagine you could do much better.

    21st June, 2014

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    No. 19 by Chanel

    Genre: Green Floral

    No. 19 starts out with green notes supported by rich, sweet florals and the signature Chanel aldehydes, then quickly begins to brighten. Suggestions of sweet cut grass and frsh hay float around the aldehydic flowers, which in turn coalesce into a bold and well-rendered rose accord.

    The sweetened green notes retreat slowly as No. 19 ages on the skin, leaving in their wake the rose note and some crisp woods. (Perhaps sandalwood and cedar?) The rose an woods become progressively drier over time, and after an hour or so on the skin No. 19 reads primarily as a rose-focused scent. By the third hour of wear the rose itself bows out to leave a soft, dry base of vanillic notes and sandalwood. This simple but gratifying drydown fades slowly until after no more than four or five hours on the skin, by which point it is barely perceptible. No. 19's merit lies in its, simple, clear accords and smooth progression, but I really wish it didn't leave in such a hurry.

    21st June, 2014

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    No. 18 by Chanel

    Genre: Floral

    Chanel No. 18 comes out of the bottle smelling like iris and the warm, savory musk of ambrette seed, and with the addition of a dark, wine-like rose note, that’s pretty much where it stays. For all I know, No. 18’s formula may be long and complicated, but it’s really just these three notes that register. Fine by me. The nuance wrapped up in this apparently simple accord is endlessly fascinating.

    There’s a sort of minimalism at work here, but it’s of a very different sort than that which Jean-Claude Elléna has pursued at Hermès. Elléna appears interested in transparency, so much so that many of his Hermèssence compositions read like x-rays, utterly stripped of flesh. Jacques Polge’s aim in No. 18 seems to be simplicity, rather than slenderness. There’s flesh on No. 18’s bones, and a sense of substance behind its simplicity that makes it much more interesting and gratifying to my nose than skeletal constructs like Vanille Galante or Brin de Réglisse. After all, which is more expressive, a bare skull or a living face?

    Part of No. 18’s magic lies in the depth offered by its three starring ingredients. Few notes in perfumery are as inherently multifaceted as iris, rose, and ambrette, nor in fact are many as purely luxurious (or costly). How many three note combinations can there be out there with the potential richness Polge exploits here? While I can’t imagine No. 18 ever being popular (it’s well-placed as part of Chanels’s ‘Les Exclusifs’ line,) it’s a unique and rewarding scent to wear.

    21st June, 2014

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    No. 5 Eau Première by Chanel

    Genre: Floral

    To describe Eau Première as No. 5 after a facelift might be accurate, but it’s not entirely fair. Eau Première is nicer than that - not so much the product of plastic surgery as the original seen in a magic glass that peels away some of its weight and age to show the young girl inside the woman. The lines are smoothed over, yet the bones are if anything more visible, and the familiar contours are still there. Is the iconic No. 5 formula diminished in this greener, fruitier variation? To a degree, yes; but not without some compensating gains. Everything is lighter and more effervescent, even if there is a little less substance, a little less character remaining. The peach and aldehydes are intact, though obviously brightened, in the top notes, and the unmistakable spicy, lactonic, jasmine-centered floral heart accord appears where it’s expected. Only this time out it’s plainly less plush and powdery than in previous incarnations.

    Eau Première is not only brighter, but fresher than the familiar No. 5, mostly because its floral accord is lighter on the indole, and because it lacks the subtle animalic accents among the base notes. It’s in that sanitized drydown that Eau Première may disappoint admirers of the original No. 5: the new scent does lack some warmth, depth, and longevity by comparison.

    21st June, 2014

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    Nirmala by Molinard

    Genre: Fruity Floral

    Whatever Nirmala was in 1955, this isn’t it. Molinard apparently recycled the name for this Angel imitator, circa 1993. In its third incarnation (since 2000,) Nirmala is a leaner, brighter Angel, both less provocative than the original and less distinctive.

    Nirmala’s lighter touch is evident from the start: the top notes are more tart than Angel’s and suggest citrus rather than lush berries. The two converge after a half an hour or so, as the familiar sweet, foody notes of chocolate and vanilla wrap themselves around the fruit and the patchouli asserts itself in the foundation. Nirmala remains more acidic than Angel, with a touch of chemical abrasiveness at its center. The attempt to lighten an inherently baroque structure leaves Nirmala smelling unfinished – even skeletal – next to its progenitor.

    Divergence occurs as Angel’s notoriously animalic patchouli intensifies, while Nirmala’s stays further in the background. Where Angel is propelled by the discord between its woody oriental base notes and its overwhelmingly sweet fruity floral accord, Nirmala remains more of a straightforward tropical fruit cocktail. This kind of beach vacation twist on Angel has been done better in Profumi di Pantelleria’s Jailia, though admittedly at much greater cost. You can also have the same kind of fun-in-the-sun with the more readily available Fresh Sugar Lychee or Nicolaï’s Eau Turquoise, with less obvious resemblance to Angel.

    21st June, 2014

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    Ninféo Mio by Annick Goutal

    Genre: Green Floral

    Annick Goutal does green well, as evidenced by Le Chèvrefeuille, Folavril, and Eau du Ciel. Ninféo Mio is green indeed, and smells mostly of bitter galbanum, petitgrain, and tomato leaf, set beside a quiet, clean white floral bouquet on a background of powdery laundry detergent musk. There is a brisk camphoraceous top note, and a few herbaceous accents flit past during the middle section, but the scent’s trajectory is mostly linear. As for the fig in ht epyramid: what fig? At no point does Ninféo Mio warm up or soften on my skin, and in its starchy, cold, and immaculate demeanor, it feels almost like a postmodern answer to White Linen.

    Ninféo Mio is potent and tenacious, with a chemical edge that leaves it smelling a bit too much like a household cleaner or hair care product for my comfort. The chemical harshness notwithstanding, I actually rather like the way Ninféo Mio smells - just not the way it smells on a person. I think it might work better as a candle or a room spray than a perfume.

    21st June, 2014

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    Nicole Miller for Men by Nicole Miller


    Genre: Woody Oriental

    If you’ve ever tasted Applejack or Calvados, you’ll know Nicole Miller’s topnotes: booze and spiced apples. The apples and alcohol are unfortunately a tad chemical in character, so the impression they leave is more “scented candle” than “personal fragrance.” Of course apple on a spicy-woody fougère base is hardly original, having been essayed by roughly 49% of all masculine fragrances since Green Irish Tweed and Cool Water. (Another 49% are aquatics, leaving the remaining 2% for everything else.)

    Some say this is a leather scent, and Michael Edwards classifies it as a woody-oriental, but I think Nicole Miller treads the by now conventional fruity fougère path quite closely, though distinguishing itself to a small degree by way of an odd, gamy, animalic note deep in its foundation. This bit of mammalian funk is a reminder of bolder animalic fougères like Lauder for Men, Kouros, and Jules, but Nicole Miller doesn’t quite have the guts to go all the way, and winds up seeming almost apologetic. Neither the godsend some claim, nor Satan’s spawn, but a pleasant fruity thing for men that’s outclassed by scents like New York, L’Anarchiste, or the now ironically no-more-expensive(!) Amouage Ciel.

    21st June, 2014

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    Nicolaï pour Homme by Nicolaï

    Genre: Floral
    Nicolai pour Homme enters with a harsh blast of mentholated lavender. As the scent evolves the mint and lavender come to rest on a bed of powdery musk, woods, vanilla, and what just might be a dab of...coconut! Because there's no warmth to this scent, I find it oddly detached, enigmatic, and maybe even alienating. In the end, it creeps me out.

    The drydown is a pretty standard issue woods, clean musk, and vanilla, but to my nose there's something unpleasantly "scratchy" about it. Not my thing.

    21st June, 2014

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    New York by Nicolaï

    Genre: Woody Oriental

    New York garners so much praise that I feel compelled to revisit it from time to time, hoping for insight as to why it fails to move me despite its obvious quality. Here is my last review from 2008:

    “I'm not sure how much I have to add here: an opening citrus blast, followed by...the rapid emergence of a rather dry powder...slowly revealing a warm spicy accord (cinnamon-clove) before fading ever so slowly into woods, with the powdery note still resonating in the background.

    New York exhibits and elaborate and entertaining development, but somehow fails to elicit any emotional response from me. It has all the complexity and changeability of the city of my birth, but it also reminds me of the "new and improved" Times Square: clean, safe, pleasant, and rather soulless, just like Stepford Connecticut.

    Interestingly, I find it quite gender neutral, and I'd love to hear what some of the women think.”

    Another year, another try, and I remain unmoved. Why? Although (or perhaps because) it’s built on such solidly classical proportions, there is something plain and faceless about New York. If I sniff it blindly I detect a handsome, well-made woody oriental, but I can’t name it. When I wear it, I say to myself “Yes, that smells nice,” but I’m never tempted to reach for it. Specifics? The intensely powdery vanilla-amber base notes are just too tidy for me. Where is the touch of smoke civet that makes a scent like Shalimar so subliminally naughty, or the tobacco that enlivens Habit Rouge? What New York lacks for me, I realize are mystery and animalic warmth. It has the feel of a house that’s been staged for resale: every item is perfectly chosen and precisely placed, but nobody’s living there.

    21st June, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

    United States United States

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    New West for Him by Aramis

    New West for Him is alleged to have introduced the melon/cucumber aquatic aromachemical Calone to mainstream masculine perfumery. Given the over-reliance upon Calone for “fresh” marine affects in designer scents (never mind soaps and shampoos,) of the past two decades, it’s tempting to deride New West for ushering a degeneracy from which men’s fragrances have yet to recover. Yet New West bears no resemblance to the banal, chemical aquatic scents and melon-flavored fresh fougères that followed it. Instead, it is a relatively dry, herbaceous-aromatic fragrance on a mossy foundation, wherein the Calone note merely provides a contrasting moist chill. In fact, the play of geranium, pine, oregano, rosemary, and sage in New West is remarkably adept in evoking a sun-drenched California landscape. With its prevalent dry aromatics, pine, and moss, New West frankly bears much closer resemblance to Caron’s Yatagan (also inspired by an arid landscape,) than to any of the 1990s masculine aquatics! Though I wish the drydown was less dependent on a commonplace pencil shavings cedar base note, I still enjoy New West as a unique and characterful composition, and I’m pleased to see it back as part of the Aramis Gentleman’s Collection.

    21st June, 2014

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