Latest Fragrance Reviews, Updated Daily

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    lefay's avatar



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    Décou-Vert by Laboratorio Olfattivo

    My initial impression is green, green, green -- broken leaves and stems -- and lily, with musk as an obvious undercurrent even at the opening. Unfortunately for me, this does not develop further, except that the musk -- my least favorite note -- becomes more prominent. This is a common problem for me: any hint of musk predominates, when I would much prefer a further unfolding of the green and floral notes. Sillage is moderate, as is longevity.

    Decou-vert appears to be made from high-quality ingredients, but it lacks the architecture of Chanel No. 19 and other iconic green scents. It becomes an increasingly soft, blurred green musky floral, perfectly acceptable for spring/summer wear, but unremarkable in the end.

    23 June, 2014

    Colin Maillard's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Passion Boisée by Frapin

    Passion Boisée opens with a peculiar, tasty accord of juicy orange supported by a bold boozy personality, refreshing as a summer night out, on a woody-ambery base (vetiver, Iso E), also slightly mossy with oak moss notes and perhaps leather too. I also detect light spices, an accord of aromatic herbs, and a tiny floral heart. A fresh, flavoured Oriental scent, really aromatic, with Frapin's signature "boozy" vein, and also a nice colour palette – you "see" warm tones of orange, green and brown, like a Mediterranean sunset you're enjoying with your favourite drink (orange and rhum, does that exist?). As minutes pass it emerges more clearly the cloves note, with their pungent-medicinal personality. Like other Frapin scents, it shows a peculiar structure, as I detect some "dissonances" which are not defects, just some "odd-smelling" accords, as it coexists a range of notes: sweetish, fresh, sour, spicy, earthy... however it somehow "works", it's elegant in a peculiar, bizarre, dandy-ish, exotic way. On the drydown it becomes warmer and more harmonic, settling on a cozy, refined, luminous and really pleasant accord of cedar, oak, orange, and subtle mossy notes. One of the nicest among their range. Well done!

    7,5-8/10

    23 June, 2014

    Colin Maillard's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Takis by Farmacia SS. Annunziata

    Aromatic, delicate opening of white musks, rose (but supported by a powdery-soapy side, like iris or violet), ylang which gives its signature "earthy-floral creaminess", woods, vanillin, light citrus notes and also something herbal or grassy, almost earthy. On the base I smell some balmy notes which add "coziness" to this already-much-cozy scent, and also a patchouli note. A velvety, soft, dusty spring scent, lively and clean like a crisp white linen table cloth hanging in the garden. On the drydown it gets warmer and dustier, less white, showing more of its woody-ambery side. A clean, not-that-new "chic" scent, understated and pleasant but also a bit dull – one of those scent that make me wonder why should one voluntarily choose this over dozen of other ones doing more or less the same job (for less).

    6,5/10

    23 June, 2014

    Colin Maillard's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Sofron by Farmacia SS. Annunziata

    Sofron opens with ginger, neroli, light spices (cumin), perhaps ylang, benzoin and perhaps opoponax too, a round, tasty note of vanilla, and a really light sandalwood note, which is almost limited to a generic woody-waxy feel on the very base. But above all, a lively, plummy accord of peach and apricot, which reminds me of scents like Visa by Piguet (2007 version) and Daim Blond, both without the suede accord. Overall the "mood" is aromatic, colourful as in a watercolour landscape – "impressionist", I'd say. Airy, playful and quite pleasant indeed: the fruity-floral accord gives the composition a nice and lively character, although it also smell as clean as a bit generic and mute – in short, it smells like galaxolide, the same "multifunctional" aromachemical firms use in shampoos and bath soaps to deliver precisely this "pleasant fruity-floral-creamy smell". Which smells good, just a bit plain. Anyway, the fragrance evolves then on a sweet-warm floral/fruity note, which as it gets warmer, becomes slowly similar to a "gingerbread" note - and sadly (as I don't really like that smell) that note remains there, quite bold and persistent. Apart from that, I'd locate this scent halfway pleasantly decent and dull (I just read Foetidus review below and yes, "nicely mediocre" for me too!).

    6,5/10

    23 June, 2014

    Ross-shire Buff's avatar



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    Royall Lyme by Royall Lyme of Bermuda

    I bought my first bottle of Royall Lyme in Pasadena, USA, in 1963, & so savoured it that I rationed it out to last until 2009(!). I have since used almost half of my next bottle (I won't be able to smell it on my shroud...).
    Like others here, I was surprised to find that while the aroma was as splendid as before, the new lotion certainly doesn't last like the original. On investigating I discovered the very sad news that the company had been bought, & all its potions now made, under licence, in the US. This undoubtedly explains why the new version is inferior...

    23 June, 2014

    spiceman_99's avatar

    United States United States

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    Messe de Minuit by Etro

    I generally leave reviews to the younger people, but having used the ORIGINAL Messe De Minuit I can assure you that the current formulation is about 1/10 the strength of the original and is an entirely different scent. The reason I am writing is the fact that I'm totally disgusted with the new formula. By the way, if you ask Etro what has changed, they reply "nothing". B.S. !!

    23 June, 2014

    Colin Maillard's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Juniper Sling by Penhaligon's

    Juniper Sling opens with a woody accord comprising vetiver and cedar (Iso E), plus juniper berries, a subtle note of cloves, a dusty base of patchouli, amber and perhaps cocoa beans, with a light animalic/musky note which I can not distinguish clearly but however gives a "carnal" and dark allure to the composition – there may be leather too. A decent, unusual take on a classic chypre, more spicy and less flowery, also less animalic/leathery, but with the same camphor feel, at the same time with a masculine, austere barbershop breeze. As minutes pass it also emerges better a rooty-powdery-soapy side of orris roots, and also the leather note arises more prominently, on a balmy-earthy base. Overall I'd say it's a "not that bad" scent, a nice rooty-spicy-earthy composition with a couple of less-usual accords (juniper), but overall it's also a bit artificial and pale. In other words, a missed opportunity.

    5,5-6/10

    23 June, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

    United States United States

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    Flower of Immortality by By Kilian

    Genre: Fruity Floral

    A pretty floral top note is quickly overtaken by a tide of canned peaches. I once synthesized the ester used in peach flavorings in an organic chemistry lab, and it smelled a lot like this. Sadly, the peach note is insufficiently supported by any contrasting materials, and the result is both simplistic and incomplete.

    After a long, long wait, an anemic cassis and rose accord arrives and does what it can to flesh out the olfactory structure, but it’s too little and too late. This still feels more like an artificial food flavoring or a candle than a fine perfume, and at By Killian’s prices a composition this rudimentary is unconscionable. Smell Mitsouko (even in reformulation) or Bond No. 9’s Chinatown for a sense of how peach lactone can function in a fully realized perfume.

    23 June, 2014

    JackTwist's avatar

    United States United States

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    La Rose Jacqueminot by Coty

    A truly unique and wonderful rose creation.

    There is an amber, caramel, burnt sugar sweetness to the base that reminds me very much of Caswell Massey's discontinued Vetiver.

    The rose is quite fragrant without being at all heavy. The depth comes from the supporting materials.

    This was re-issued in 1983 in parfum, edt and edp and can still be found on Ebay, although the parfum and edp strengths are much rarer than the edt.

    Very worth a try and if you are a rose fan, one you simply must purchase.

    23 June, 2014

    Colin Maillard's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Labdanum 18 / Ciste 18 by Le Labo

    Labdanum opens with a pleasant, warm, dusty ambery accord, with perhaps patchouli on the very base, aldehydes, a subtle and discreet vanillin-tonka accord and a well-executed heart of civet and musk, animalic and camphoraceous. Boozy-sweet breeze all over. Almost geometrical in its simplicity, but bold and clear, a journey among nostalgic souvenirs of dusty chypres, just "deprived" of any notes except patchouli, animalic accords and amber. Modern, mature, elegant, simple and most important, smelling good, clear, high quality. The evolution is quite linear but I guess it is part of the concept, and being so pleasant, it is surely not a minus. Bravi!

    7,5-8/10

    23 June, 2014

    Colin Maillard's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Clemency by Humiecki & Graef

    A contemporary floral chypre, a transparent and metallic take on classic feminine scents themes. You clearly smell rose, green notes, aldehydes, a camphor-musky base, fresh citrus/lime notes, perhaps also mint or something equally bitter and fresh (I guess it's the cassis, which is an ingredient I do not know). Velvety, kind of odd base of amber, benzoin, rooty-earthy notes with almost a stale-mold flavour. It soon arises a calone note, quite metallic and somehow milky and opalescent, which gives a sort of filmy, pale density to the fragrance - and in broad terms, an azure-airy "chic" factor. Ambery-dusty-silky drydown, slightly floral, elegant and pleasant. To be honest: not bad, but a bit of a dull scent, not even pleasant at first – then a bit more, but in a totally anonym and negligible way.

    5,5-6/10

    23 June, 2014

    Colin Maillard's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Grev by Slumberhouse

    Pungent, powerful, bitter-green opening comprising a massive load of cloves together with herbal-grassy notes, like basil or other herbs, with a slight minty aftertaste. I also detect aldehydes and a subtle star anise flavour. As minutes pass it tends even more on menthol-balmy notes, always with an absinthe-esque, bitter, dark, pungent and sour poisonous green accord, on a slightly ambery base comprising patchouli. The green accord is on the balmy-pine side, smelling of resins (not sticky or syrupy, rather dry) and icy woods. I also detect Iso E providing a thin but warm breeze of incense. The main note is however - and after a while, you'll probably add "sadly" - cloves, which remain there with their cloying majesty for basically the entire evolution of the scent. They tone down a bit after a while, when the pine notes emerge, but they don't disappear – just become slightly less prominent. And this is the only "con" for me, I appreciate the power and the persistence of Lobb's scent, but in this case, being a cloves-circus for the whole time, it may soon become annoying.

    6/10

    23 June, 2014

    Dane77's avatar

    Denmark Denmark

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    Armani Privé Ambre Soie by Giorgio Armani

    A pleasant spicy-sweet oriental, Ambre Soie opens with a blast but quickly fades to a whisper. Like most other Armani Privés, it starts off as very heavy and complex, but (unlike the others) this one seems to almost wear itself out in its initial full-force scream, all too soon turning back on itself to, surprisingly quickly, almost disappear. The scent itself is pleasant enough – a gorgeous amber with spices (cloves, pepper), a fair bit of patchouli, a dusty cocoa-like element, and a very interesting anise note. However, I get considerably more chocolate than amber from this, and it is precisely the anise and its dynamic interference with the main theme that finally saves Ambre Soie from becoming simply cloying and too much. Overall development is limited and remarkably linear. The result is a good safe scent with an interesting composition and very easy wearability.
    In many ways, I consider it one of the best Armani Privés primarily because it manages to avoid becoming too oppressively heavy and pompous, an unfortunate problem that I think haunts too many fragrances in that particular line. However, given its steep price point and limited development and longevity, I find Ambre Soie ultimately rather uninspiring and quite far away from the truly great ambers out there (like Ambre Préciuex, Ambra Mediterranea, Ambre Fétiche, Ambre Nuit, Ambre Russe, etc.).

    Note: This review is based on the original 50 ml version in the wooden box packaging, not the current 100 ml glass bottle. I am not aware if any reformulations were introduced along with the packaging redesign.

    23 June, 2014

    JackTwist's avatar

    United States United States

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    Trésor (new) by Lancôme

    This is everything Barbara Herman and Luca Turin claim it to be - powdery apricot rose with a musky vanilla dry down, worthy of Turin's 4 stars.

    The sandalwood, violet and iris combine to give it a dry green opening and structural support but the gourmand effect of the rose, heliotrope, orris and apricot is its delicious
    heart.

    A fruity floral scent that works due to its restraint and balance.

    23 June, 2014

    oboyo's avatar



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    Verdon by L'Occitane

    Surprised at some of the negative reviews for this fragrance (a urine note?? really??? try showering before applying it!).

    It's fresh and zingy and smells exactly of it's inspiration: a pine-tree filled valley. LOVE the fresh water note, pine and mint - like a natural, more "organic" version of Aqua di Gio but lighter, milder and less chemical.

    23 June, 2014

    Darvant's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Join The Club : More Than Words by Xerjoff

    A lyric, holy and intellectual piece of "meditative" olfactory fatigue More than Words is a further creamy woody complex potion in the Join the Club clan as appointed for us by the Xerjoff's performers. I detect by soon several Mancera's (Roses Vanille), Montale's (vaguely Black Aoud's dry down) and Tiziana Terenzi's (Gold Rose Oudh, Ecstasy and partially Lillipur) hallmarks since you are by soon invested by a really spicy, somewhat "brewing" and barely medicinal woody resins-amber accord enriched by floral patterns (rose, may be iris or violet), something such like "stone dust" and musk. I have to point out anyway that in this case the final aroma appears probably yet woodier than the previous (similarly performing) concoctions. The aroma is luxurious and intense, I feel the agarwood resin by soon probably combined with saffron, patchouli and pepper and supported by musky labdanum, fir resins, amber, a touch of honey, may be castoreum and finally hints of "well hidden" incense. The general atmosphere is musky, gray-translucent, sacramental, muffled in the time and vaguely sinister as a huge high silent monastery unveiling immediately in front of you over the wood in the land of Romagna. The deep dry down is incredibly velvety, balmy-resinous and elusive but absolutely carnal and enconpassing. The final woody-boise-rosey creaminess is irresistibly hellish. One of the best I've encountered in the Join the Club range.

    23 June, 2014

    Marais's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    Vetiver Root / Green Tea / Cedarwood by Korres

    A non-challenging scent for the vetiver-ambivalent. The vetiver is definitely present but is conjoined with those designer note staples of cedar, lavender and tonka, so that the overall impression is 'look what Ma got me at Macy's/Debenhams'. One advantage of that common admixture is good longevity (8 hours from 5 sprays). It is relatively light and all-season versatile. When I first bought this (blind) it smelled very harsh (think vintage Rose Clear, before the floral-smelling reforumulation) but it has aged well and now seems a lot smoother, 3 years later. Korres claim that this contains a high proportion of natural ingredients, which some say can mature in this fashion. Inexpensive.

    23 June, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

    United States United States

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    Pure White Linen by Estée Lauder

    Genre: Floral

    At the risk of fragrance heresy I will admit that White Linen’s starched, sexless, and uptight demeanor never appealed to me. Pure White Linen does for the original approximately what Eau Première would do for Chanel No. 5 some years later – it lightens and brightens the formula with soft green and fruity floral notes, presumably to appeal to a younger, “hipper” audience. Yet where Eau Première smells like a reasonably close variation on No. 5, Pure White Linen makes only oblique references to its predecessor: lots of aldehydes, spanking clean florals, and most importantly, a “scratchy” white musk base note.

    Pure White Linen’s top notes are a blend of fruit, mellow, grassy green notes, brisk aldehydes and (yes) white florals. The overall effect is sweet, perky, and far more relaxed and amiable than mama White Linen. The floral notes come into sharper focus over time, with crisp jasmine and rose occasionally recognizable within the mixed bouquet. Persistent green notes and that signature White Linen aldehyde and abrasive white musk accord prevent the heart from growing overly sweet or cloying.

    Pure White Linen holds its shape for several hours without much evolution once its core structure falls into place, projecting boldly from the skin all the while. The clean musk and wood drydown is prim and proper, but far sweeter than Lauder’s original, with the screechy, nails-on-a-chalkboard effect that so sours me on the first White Linen buffed smooth by powdery materials. (Heliotropin?) Pure White Linen may end up smelling more prosaic than White Linen, but it’s also much friendlier; a smell for humans, not mannequins. Given my usual predilection for originality and innovation in fragrance, I’m almost ashamed to admit that I enjoy it much more than the original.

    23 June, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

    United States United States

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    Punjab by Roberto Capucci

    Genre: Woody Oriental

    Capucci’s Punjab starts out on the skin as if it’s going to be a muscular 1980s fougère in the manner of Jules or Lauder for Men, and that’s precisely what it is…for exactly ten minutes. Then, quite suddenly, the bergamot and moss that prevailed at Punjab’s opening are overtaken by a cinnamon, carnation, and jasmine accord that reminds me more than a little of the parallel cinnamon, carnation, and rose in the likewise extinct Patou pour Homme. Punjab also shares some of the Patou’s incense and amber, but it distinguishes itself with more obvious moss and leather in its base notes, compositional traits that again align it more closely with the 1980s fougère “power scents.” In fact, the thing that interests me most about Punjab is the balanced tension it maintains between woody oriental and fougère character. While not overwhelming in its projection or sillage, Punjab is no lightweight, and it persists on the skin for hours before its warm ambery, labdanum-infused drydown. An excellent scent and a sad loss.

    23 June, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

    United States United States

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    Private Collection - Psychotrope by Parfumerie Generale

    Genre: Leather

    Psychotrope opens on a resolutely “modernist” late 20th century gesture, combining indolic green jasmine, melon, and tomato leaf. The indolic jasmine and melon immediately recall Edmond Roudnitsaka’s masterful Le Parfum de Thérèse, released posthumously by Frederic Malle, but composed (decades before its time) during the 1950s. Though both scents feature leather alongside their melon and jasmine, Pierre Guillaume’s tanned hide accord is both drier and more conspicuous than Roudnitska’s. Le Parfum de Thérèse represents the apotheosis of fruity floral compositions, but Psychotrope in its early phase is more difficult to classify. Psychotrope’s tomato leaf renders it somewhat bitter and more overtly herbaceous in character, and for a time it vacillates indecisively between leathery green and fruity floral in gestalt.

    Psychotrope’s leather takes on a smoky birch tar character and intensifies progressively as it dries down, so that after a full wearing I’m comfortable calling it a leather scent. I’ve seen Psychotrope described as "dark," and Guillaume lists a “black leather” note in the pyramid, but to my nose this is a buoyant and transparent, if not necessarily bright, scent. Even in its drydown Psychotrope dispenses with the sweet amber, moss, or heavy woods that weigh down many leather scents, and its relatively reticent in both sillage and projection. I concede that there’s plenty of mystery about Psychotrope, but nothing threatening or sinister. The scent is about beguilingly soft-focus understatement rather than nocturnal drama. So much so in fact, that I think it could benefit from being more assertive. As it is now, Psychotrope requires heavy application to register much impact. Thumbs up nonetheless for its originality and an interesting development.

    23 June, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

    United States United States

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    Promesse de l'Aube / FK1 by MDCI

    Genre: Chypre

    Promesse de l’Aube is a sweet, delicate, and exceptionally pretty peach chypre scent that marries classical structure to modern transparency. It’s precisely what I imagine Mitsouko would have smelled like when she was a little girl of ten or eleven, before she developed feminine wiles, gained carnal knowledge, and became jaded. As befits so poised a fragrance, projection, sillage, and longevity are all well modulated, and Promesse de l’Aube remains radiantly sweet right through its feather-light vanilla chypre drydown. Writing this description I realize that Promesse de l’Aube is also very close to Aurélien Guichard’s Chinatown, though without some of the intentionally dissonant earthy elements that make Chinatown so compellingly odd. Compared to either of these other peach-centered fragrances, Promesse de l’Aube is not only clean, but bland. There is a coy, precious quality about this scent’s beauty that evokes a porcelain doll more than a living woman.

    Promesse de l’Aube is undeniably beautiful, but its pricing makes the already exorbitant and frankly more distinctive Chinatown look like a bargain at about $200 US for 100 ml. Promesse de l’Aube is nice, but it’s not that nice. Granted, the Parfums MDCI bottle is pretty cool, but then Chinatown has a nice bottle, too. And if you’re serious about peach in a chypre context, there’s always Mitsouko. Even the 1 oz. Mitsouko parfum is far less costly than this Parfums MDCI offering.

    23 June, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

    United States United States

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    Private Collection by Estée Lauder

    Genre: Green

    Private Collection is one of those few fragrances that I can honestly describe as timeless. It could have been done in 1923, 1953, or as it happened, 1973. It’s not merely a classic, but a classical structure: a soapy, green aldehydic floral on a dry chypre platform. It’s stately and reserved, yet just short of stuffy, perhaps because of the keen, bitter edge lent by its prominent galbanum note. The opening burst of powdery greens and aldehydes peels back partway to reveal a clean jasmine and narcissus accord as crisp as a starched, pressed collar. Private Collection runs a linear course once the green floral chypre heart coalesces, the major developmental event being the emergence of a dry, yet rounded rose from among the other floral notes.

    Like many of Estée Lauder’s offerings, Private Collection is potent and enduring. It projects well off the skin for several hours before settling down into its moss, white musk, and wood foundations. Cool, clean, and almost entirely bereft of sweetness, Private Collection is utterly genderless, and used in moderation it would make a great alternative to conventional “fresh” men’s scents.

    23 June, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

    United States United States

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    Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia by Estée Lauder

    Genre: Floral

    What an unusual scent! The name had me expecting a conventional aldehydic/indolic white flower, but what comes out of the bottle is something else altogether, and I can see why opinions are so deeply divided.

    There are indolic white flowers here, but they ride in on a bold and novel accord of pepper and overripe cheese that reads like an exaggerated take on the pungent (and yes, cheesy,) undertone that distinguishes gardenia from other white flowers. You’re liable to find it either mesmerizing or whiplash-inducing, depending upon your temperament. The pungency is slow to fade, but as it does the tuberose becomes more conspicuous, to the point where it eventually dominates the composition. At the same time, Tuberose Gardenia grows more simple and transparent, eventually revealing the spicy - woody base that has all along provided a firm backbone for the composition.

    Three or four hours on and Tuberose Gardenia has evolved into a spicy/woody composition, generously topped with tuberose. The scent remains remarkably potent, even after the indole and aldehydes have retreated, and the generous sillage hangs around for hours. I don’t know that this will ever be a crowd-pleaser, but at its price it probably was not intended to. Distinctive and surprising, and I rather like it!

    23 June, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

    United States United States

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    Parfums des Beaux Arts Prince by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

    Genre: Woody Oriental

    Prince is the kind of serious, complex woody oriental composition that mainstream masculine perfumery has abandoned since the days of JHL, Punjab, and Maxims pour Homme. If not for independent niche perfumers like Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, who would dare compose ambitious, dramatic masculine scents like this?

    Hurwitz launches Prince on an no-holds-barred accord of spices and aromatics, including plenty of clove and cinnamon, anise, lavender, and artemisia. The spices persist as a piercing, medicinal oudh note, dark rose, sandalwood, sweet resins, and opoponax well up to establish a dense, layered oriental arrangement, further augmented by tobacco and leather. As these elements coalesce Prince actually echoes the legendary and lamented Patou pour Homme (albeit distantly), both in its gravity and in its content. I believe the resemblance lies largely in the juxtaposition of cloves, rose, tobacco, leather, and balsams, though Prince substitutes oudh for the Patou’s enormous labdanum note.

    Prince doesn’t sustain quite such depth or richness in its drydown, which smells like a less characterful balsamic blend than the impressive list of base notes would suggest. I smell little evidence of the castoreum, civet, ambergris, or cocoa beans.

    23 June, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

    United States United States

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    Premier Figuier Extrême by L'Artisan Parfumeur

    Genre: Woods

    Not so much “extreme” when compared to the original Primier Figuier as sweeter and tangier, Primier Figuier Extrême aligns more closely with the fig-as-fruit style of Heeley’s Figuier and Parfumerie Générale’s Jardins de Kerylos than with Giacobetti’s woody, sappy Philosykos. In fact, I’d rate Premier Figuier Extrême as the most unambiguously crisp, fruity, and floral of Giacobetti’s fig triplets. That makes it by default my favorite of the three, for as much as I admire Philosykos, there’s something overly emphatic about its milky texture that sits uncomfortably on my skin.

    23 June, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

    United States United States

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    Prelude to Love by By Kilian

    Genre: Floral

    Prelude to Love opens as a very simple herb-seasoned eau de Cologne variant, then dries down quickly to a soft, rooty iris accord that’s enlivened ginger and black pepper. The citrus notes smell pleasantly natural, the Mediterranean herbal accents are nicely balanced, and the interplay of iris and spices is clever, but there’s nothing here that makes me want to spend $130 US per ounce.

    23 June, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

    United States United States

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    Poupée by Rochas

    Genre: Fruity Floral

    Just for the record, “poupée” translates as “doll,” and not the state of a soiled diaper. A different name for the English-speaking market might have been advisable. It’s been done for much less: French Lover/Bois d’Orage comes to mind. On the other hand, while the name may damn it to failure in the US market, it’s otherwise perfect. Poupée is pretty, but lifeless; an attempt at cute that lands instead at trite.

    The bottle says “Doll,” and the contents are pastel pink, so it should come as no surprise that Poupée is Rochas’s lactonic/aldehydic fruity floral. After a plainly artificial opening accord of milky peach and bubblegum, Poupée lets go with a soapy, aldehyde-drenched muguet and hyacinth accord that’s simply too harsh and chemical to please my nose. An admixture of tuberose strives to add some glamour, but only ends up smelling precious in this pre-adolescent context. The tuberose outlasts the sour hyacinth and lily-of-the-valley, and holds sway until Poupée enters its blandly sweet amber drydown. By the time I’ve worn Poupée for a few hours, it occurs to me that Rochas already has a tuberose and amber masterpiece in the much more refined and sophisticated Byzance. Hence, Poupée is not only disappointing, but superfluous.

    23 June, 2014

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

    United States United States

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    Portrait of a Lady by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

    Genre: Chypre

    Let’s start with the name. “Portrait of A Lady” has to be the most outrageous fragrance misnomer since Exceptional launched its non-descript and deadly dull eponymous sports fragrance for men in 2008. If ever a fragrance broadcast “UNISEX” on application, this is it. Heck, had Malle offered it as say, “Black Stallion,” it might have done well as a masculine. First the porn star-worthy “Thunderwood,” now this…someone needs to talk to marketing.

    Portrait of a Lady actually launches on a searing black pepper note that gives Marc Jacobs’s Bang a run for its money. Following soon after are a dark, dry rose, oudh, and a camphoraceous (rather than earthy/sweaty) patchouli note, all supported by a rather stark and austere foundation of wood and frankincense. I see a conceptual relationship between Portrait of a Lady and the peppery-woody-incense rose of Caron’s Parfum Sacré, but the Malle is far less plush and comfortable. There are also parallels with some of the Montale oudh scents, including Black Aoud, which shares also leans on rose, oudh, and patchouli, and with Juliet Has a Gun’s softer and more recent Lady Vengeance.

    Portrait of a Lady’s somewhat surprising drydown distinguishes it from any of these predecessors. Rather than the expected balsamic woody-oriental base notes, Portrait of a Lady settles on a relatively hard-edged, dry accord of oudh, woods, and a proudly synthetic-smelling clean musk vaguely reminds me of Malle’s Geranium pour Monsieur. (Also by Ropion.) My only complaint, based on a single wearing, is that like Geranium pour Monsieur, Portrait of a Lady segues into its drydown early and abruptly. I would enjoy the scent more if the rose, oudh, pepper, and patchouli accord of the middle section lasted for more than a half an hour. When I can manage them, additional wearings may yield a different experience. Even so, I consider Portrait of a Lady well worth trying – for ladies and gentlemen alike!

    23 June, 2014

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    Portos by Balenciaga

    Genre: Leather

    The aromatic blast that introduces Balenciaga’s Portos is a dead ringer for Azzaro pour Homme, which means it’s also a textbook example of the 1980s “power scent.” But where Azzaro blooms into a spicy fougere, Portos follows a path of sweetened patchouli, labdanum resin, and leather. Anyone familiar with Hermes Equipage knows this kind of scent: potent yet civilized, craggy yet also somehow comfortable. It’s all men’s clubs and boardrooms, big leather chairs, martinis, and cigars. Portos’s cousins are scents like Antaeus and perhaps even Yatagan, though it’s less nuanced than the first and far less bold and challenging than the latter. That may ultimately be why the other two have survived it – Portos is not the most distinguished or individual member of this clan. I think that the_good_life nails it when he suggests that Portos represents a sort of common denominator of 1980s masculines. That Portos is the Reagan era’s Jedermann of scent could be part of its appeal for many, but I for one prefer quirkier versions of the big-boned leather chypre formula.

    23 June, 2014

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    Portos by Aramis

    Genre: Fougère

    A brisk citrus/aromatic opening introduces a contrasting dark, yet smooth animalic fougère accord that marks Portos as a close sibling to Jules and Lauder for Men, and a more polite cousin to Kouros. The musky animalic notes in Portos are neither as aggressive nor suggestive as those in Kouros, but Portos still manages the kind of vaguely unwashed masculine swagger that defines many of the 1980s “power scents.” Though clearly allied with Lauder for Men and Havana, Portos distinguishes itself from both in its lack of a strong tobacco note and a generous helping of amber in its base. It’s the Lauder fougère for non-smokers.

    Interestingly, Portos does not radiate in the same strident manner as so many of the big 1980s fougères, which might make it more wearable in today’s more understated fragrance environment. Balance and blending are also outstanding, so that the central accords read as smooth, cohesive units as Portos matures on the skin. The drydown of clean patchouli, moss, and amber is civilized – even elegant – which comes as something of a surprise after the animalic heart. In fact, one Portos’s most distinguishing features is the contrast established between the relatively luminous opening and closing movements and the darker, more dangerous-smelling heart.

    While it’s a shame that Portos has been discontinued, the move is in some sense understandable. With Havana, Tuscany, and Lauder for Men also in production, Lauder/Aramis had crowded their masculine lineup with fougères, and someone in management may have decided that Portos was redundant - especially as muscle-bound fougères lost market traction during the 1990s. Of course now, with fewer bold fougères left standing and the spineless aquatics of the 90s feeling more and more stale, scents like Portos and Havana are sorely missed. Ah, the irony of fashion…

    23 June, 2014

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