Actually, after some thought, I'm going to post short "initial impressions" of each scent before giving it a full wearing, and then later follow up with a full review. It'll be interesting to me, and hopefully to others, to see the differences in the two. It might also help someone who is initially underwhelmed in a scent see that with more extended wearings and a closer analysis, there is a lot to like. Or, maybe not. Only time will tell, I suppose.
Well, here are my initial impressions of those I've done a wrist test of:
Kobe: <sniffing from vial> I've smelled this before. Where? <wracking brain> Ah yes, this smells just like MPG's Pour Le Jeune Homme. Now, I'm not that familiar with PlJH as I've only given it maybe 2 full wearings a year or so ago, but that was the clearest link in my brain. So, I put some on, alongside PlJH. Kobe smelled more natural, deeper, rounder, smoother. No spicy counterpoint equivalent of the rosemary in the MPG.
So we've got a very rich and full petitgrain, neroli, and soft woods/spice blend. I detected no oud, but instead something like guaicwood and some incense alongside sandalwood and a deep and rich but quiet patchouli note that was blended well enough not to smell much like patchouli at all. Very interesting and very good, although a bit more contrast to the richness, and something to add a bit of dryness, may make it more interesting. Still though, very very good. Many people think that Pour Le Jeune Homme smells very natural - one of the most natural - and I agree that it does. Well, Kobe smells more natural.
IRISSs: Well, this is all about initial impressions. My first impression? Silly name. Ridiculous, really. Couple that with the spelling errors, odd language, and bad grammar in the sample vial sleeve (sadly, this is true amongst pretty much all of the line..I think I'll comment on that below w/ my initial impressions of the packaging) and my expectations were rather low. Thankfully upon opening and sniffing the vial my expectations were restored. What did I smell? Iris. Lots of iris. A very natural, rich, multifaceted iris.
On skin, IRISSs opens with one of the clearest and richest iris notes I've ever smelled. If there isn't real iris butter in here (which there is claimed to be) then the perfumer is a damn genius. I'm quite sure there is the real iris butter they mention, as every fake iris accord I've smelled has always been much more "2D" where this was very "3D" - you could swim - drown, perhaps! - in the white velvet waves of this stuff. Carrot peaks out a while later and keeps this interesting. Sadly though, I lose the carrot and the iris, which should be getting more diffuse and expansive (natural iris absolutes/butters have a shimmering transparency to them, and create an aura that is very hard to 'localize' where the scent is coming from. I guess I can best explain it like this: imagine a dandelion w/ a parachute head, y'know, when it is covered in the 'floaty seeds'... fake iris tends to create a smell that is close and clustered, just like the seeds on the parachute head of a dandelion, while real iris.. well, blow on that dandelion and watch the seeds scatter into the air. Same seeds, but they are diffuse, surrounding you. Everywhere. That's the difference). The iris note here stayed unnaturally strong and was quite localized, and I guess this is a natural side effect of trying to boost the strength of (and reduce the cost of using) natural iris butter. Sadly, at this point I felt the iris was not that far removed from Prada's Infusion d'Iris, and like zztop I didn't get many of the other notes to any real degree. An iris soliflore that uses some very good ingredients, with a composition that I feel lets it down. It's too simple, and felt a bit soulless.
Despite all the negativity above I do think it's a very good iris soliflore, if that's specifically what you are looking for. The first 30-60 minutes are true heaven and the rest, well, the rest is.. nice.
I'm hoping this one behaves differently on a full wearing.
Mefisto - From the vial I get the SMW associations mentioned above, but smell a bit of Himalaya I think, too. Smells good, if common.
Oesel - <opens vial, sniffs> Mmm. Damn this is good. Wait, I know this.. I... own this? Fleur du Male. Yup, unquestionably, this smells VERY much like FdM from the vial. Skin test forthcoming. I'm really looking forward to this if it's a more natural Fleur du Male, hopefully with a more distinguished and interesting drydown. Kind of disappointed though that this is yet another scent that smells quite a bit like an already exsiting scent. I'm starting to wonder if Xerjoff's plan was simply to create higher quality and more expensive versions of scents that already exist...
Dhajala Oooh, this is good. A hint of galbanum and then lots of patchouli and incense. I'm picking up a chocolatey accord here. A rich and deep one, not sweet or immature. Smells like a mix of the (far underrated) Queen Latifah for women along with Eau de Patchouli (also way underrated!) by Reminiscence. Seems wearable by a man. Can't wait to test this one more fully.
Esquell My favorite of the women's line from just sniffing the vials/card tests. This smells ultra-feminine, a mix of a beautiful iris and rose over a powdery but not overly sweet, very full base of mostly opoponax. Early thoughts are that this is a more modern, lighter, more chic version of MPG Or Des Indes.
Lua Card test left little impression, although this is likely because I had very little time to sniff. A seemingly high quality fruity floral. Seems like it could be very good for what it is.
XXY The opening here is a mix of earthy but mostly a very high pitched sweet. Reminds me of the excessive sweetness in both By Kilian Straight to Heaven and By Killian Cruel Intentions, especially the juxtaposition of sweet and heavy in the latter. I can't tolerate that kind of sweet and so this is going to be a hard one for me to wear. The sweet notes smell rather sharp - piercing even - and wholly synthetic. The rest seemed to be an unenthused amber over a blah patchouli base. Was this done by Sidonie Lanceusser? I'd almost be willing to bet it was done by her - it has the same trademark qualities of her above mentioned scents for By Kilian. If you like those you might like this. For those who've tested XXY, what did you think of it, and what did you think of the above By Kilian's? Did you notice any similarity in the sweetness?
Fiore d'Ulivo A very nice, slightly soapy mix of flowers over a vaguely lemony laundry detergent musk. That sounds bad and like I dislike it, but it's not and I don't. I think it's very good. Initial impression leads me to believe it's very similar to Maison Francis Kurkdjian's Cologne Acqua Universalis although this smells softer, rounder, slightly less synthetic and slightly more feminine, although a guy could comfortably pull it off, in my opinion. Without prompting, my g/f noted how this smelled quite like Acqua Universalis, as well.