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  1. #1

    Default Eurostar Fragrance Express

    Popped through to London for a few days - and took the opportunity to try a few scents that aren't available in gay Paris.

    First up was Jo Malone. I am probably the last person on this site to sample Jo Malone fragrances and I have a feeling that they are passé among fragrance fanatics and/or not very highly rated, thanks to their simplicity and supposed poor staying power. So I wasn't expecting much. However, all my Chelsea girl friends wear Jo Malone: The Sloane Sq branch appears to be the traditional local shop for girls in that part of town, much as Parfum Nicolai's Raymond Poincaré boutique is the "corner perfume store" in the 8th over here.

    Vetyver Cologne: A chic fresh, lemony scent with hints of grass, roots, powder and white flowers. Touches of earthy lavender in the drydown: Not unlike a lighter, more aerial version of Armani Pour Homme. Smells like spring. Very good - one of the more complex in the line and with decent (five hours plus) staying power.

    Nutmeg and Ginger: Heavier and spicer than Vetvyer, though not wholly unlike the previous scent. I think I detect cedar in there too - in fact, if you were to layer this one with Vetyver, as JM's sales assistants suggest, you would probably end up with a scent close to Creed's first Vetiver or even Guerlain's Vetiver. Strong and persistent nutmeg and cedar drydown.

    Lime, Basil & Mandarin: Does exactly what it says on the bottle. Clean, sparkling and masculine citrus, with an earthy quality that evokes traditional barbershop cologne. A touch of musk and maybe bay rum in the base. Not a hugely complex fragrance but its straightforwardness could be a positive feature in hot weather. A little like Goutal's Eau de Sud in its use of soft, overlapping green tones. Also has much in common with Eau d'Hadrien, though lacks Hadrien's tough minerality. I rated this one my favourite along with Vetyver.

    I also tried Ambre et Lavande and 154 on cards. Both were good, though Serge Lutens' powerful, faintly sinister Encens et Lavande has made all other lavender scents seem insipid to me lately. 154 is intriguing: It begins with a fresh "standard men's cologne" citrus note but broadens to a mix of tart fruits and sweet hay. Reminds me of a Floris scent, can't remember which.

    In summary, much more impressive than I expected. Simple, yes, but these fragrances make a virtue of simplicity. Jo's fans would probably say minimalist rather than simple anyway. They are definitely overpriced, and I expect they will be even more so at the Jo Malone boutique which opens in Paris' Bon Marché this month. Bon Marché is a good place for Jo Malone. Galeries Lafayette is too naff, Printemps is too fashion, Samaritaine is too, er, closed for six years. Bon Marché is chic, unfussy and just right.

    Next up: Divine (sadly nothing to do with Glen Milstead). I tried L'Homme de coeur, which Luca Turin has praised on his blog, and l'homme sage, which has been raved about here recently.

    L'Homme de Coeur was outstanding: I'm always on the lookout for iris scents and this is the best men's version I've come across for a while. It's damp and brisk at the outset, presenting a bouquet of wet, northern-garden herbs, before the iris note opens. For me, iris should smell like a glass of pastis thrown into a rainstorm, and this scent gets this effect just right. It's rough about the edges, masculine, but not altogther unpolished as the smooth drydown demonstrates. Green hints filter in as the scent settles - you'll notice a touch of Cool Water and Green Irish Tweed briefly - and it rests on a woody, earthy base. Hugely impressive.

    L'Homme Sage: Hot, honeyed spices and another killer drydown. This is ambery, cedary, cinnamon and nutmeg with enough of that "dishwater" saffron note to keep it from the health food department. Also hints of salty, dried out driftwood. Guess what? It reminds me of nothing less than Old Spice. Coca Cola and Old Spice. No bad thing. Recommended.

    Both available at Liberty - but check out Divine's website http://www.divine.fr first as the prices in London are absurd: £66 for a 60ml bottle: The same bottle costs €60 bought directly from Divine.

    Finally Ormonde Jayne, which I had wanted to visit for ages.

    Isfahan: A new pepper and cedar scent for men. Quite a departure for OJ, as it is transparent and direct rather than dense and baroque like many of the others in the range. Imagine two parts Blenheim Bouquet, two parts Artisan's Navegar, one part Cologne Bigarade. Isfahan is certainly much better than Blenheim Bouquet or Navegar - it's very contemporary in feel, original, though I imagine its lasting power will not be good on everyone. It faded rather quickly on me, and I don't usually suffer from disappearing scent syndrome.

    Ormonde For Men. Complex, dark, gothic, perverse: like an Aubrey Beardsley illustration. Plays with an intriguing sweet-dry floral-oud accord, which appears dark purple smoky-sweet one moment and deep green grassy-dry the next. Hints of incense, orientals, embers and a medicinal note. Very sexy - remember Opium for men? Ormonde For Men reminds me of this, though you'll also find YSL M7 and even Kouros smouldering to life in your memory when you try this beauty.

    I browsed the women's scents too - mostly excellent, original, complex: Not thin and "nichey" like some boutique perfumes can be, or unrendered and primitive like others. These are rich, complex and polished scents, often startlingly original. Mme_C loved Champaca, a green, summery scent with a Frederic Malle uniqueness, but we were both knocked sideways by the magnificent Tolu.

    Sultry, ambery, smoky, dripping with exotic resins, Tolu curls around you like a succubus. Or Vol de Nuit's sexier younger sister, or Flaubert's Salammbo. Or Eva Green, who I think about a lot, and who was described by her director as "indecently beautiful." She'd wear Tolu. One of the best new feminines I've tried in years.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Eurostar Fragrance Express

    Nice to see your comments on these fragrance houses. I share your enthusiasm for Divine L'Homme de Coeur and Ormonde Jayne Ormonde For Men - these are two very well crafted complex scents that stand out, Coeur being earthy with slight powdery sweetness and Ormonde is warm and sensual feelgood scent. I got the Divine direct too as it saved a lot compared to other online sellers I found and they sent me samples of all their other fragrances. L'Homme Sage was nice but reminded me of something else I had (can't think what). The same went for Isfahan - nice but something familiar about it. The Londoners are spoilt for availability of fragrances - here in Manchester there are not many niche fragrances available and what there is they only have certain fragrances from a range such as L'Artisan and Diptyque. Luckily in this day and age we can easily get hold of samples so I was able to try some before making a choice. There is a Jo Malone counter in Harvey Nichols here so I must try out some of their range too. At the moment I'm trying out the Bond No.9 range there everytime I visit. Also starting today I'm trying Frederic Malle out too via Les Senteurs sample service.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Eurostar Fragrance Express

    Very good review! I`ll reach for my l`Homme de Coeur sample and try it again...
    Last time I was charmed by its top-heart, but its base leaved me uninspired.
    So I still prefer TDC Bois d`Iris and Iris Silver Gris MPG - on that field of iris.

    And you make my blind purchase of OJ pour homme (I still resist to buy Tolu)

    Vetiver Jo Malone is too colognish for me.
    I prefer dark and dry vetivers to colognes on that base...

    Thank you, Mike!
    Vetiver The Great!!!

  4. #4

    Default Re: Eurostar Fragrance Express

    Mike_C,

    Wonderful reviews, thank you! Now more wants than needs.....

  5. #5

    Default Re: Eurostar Fragrance Express

    The ever soo charming Mike C... [smiley=wink.gif]

  6. #6

    Default Re: Eurostar Fragrance Express

    I try, Cedric, I try...

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