Anybody tried the Boxeuses?
My basenoter friend olfactorynewbie is so lucky to have this as a part of his collection. Somewhere here in Shanghai, we don't know how it came here. A rare frag that is never sold in the market. It is a gift from JP Guerlain to his loyal customers during the celebration of the 180th anniversary of Guerlain. We found 1 bottle from a local website. It's 180 Ans de Creation by Guerlain! The bottle just arrived in my office right now and I sprayed one on my left arm. The bottle is really heavy. Same bottle design with the Charnel Elixirs. 180 Ans is an Eau de Parfum 75ml bottle. I am not good in discerning the notes, I can only describe how it smells. It does have that Guerlainade dry down. It's a soft, powdery, ambery, leathery tonka dry down. It's like Bois Torride from Charnel Elixir. Very elegant and classy.
There's a card inside that says:
To celebrate an exceptional event, Maison Guerlain's 180-year anniversary, Jean-Paul Guerlain has composed a very contemporary fragrance which has been created in traditional Guerlain style. With Sensual amber notes that stir the senses, and a bottle which has been hand-sealed by the "dames de table", this limited edition scent, which will bot be available for sale, has all the rarity and uniqueness of a collector's item.
Last edited by volley2; 2nd September 2010 at 01:06 AM.
Wow, it's time for a new threrad already...
I love 180 Ans - Congratulations on tracking down a bottle!
And I haven't smelled Boxeuses yet, either. Anyone?
It's been crazy hot here, so I've been using that as an excuse to sample my way through some aquatics I'd been avoiding. Today, I’ve been wearing another older aquatic, Royal Delight from Creed.
This is another one where a bunch of citrus, spices, and calone somehow come together to smell like maraschino cherries, much like a very watered down Original Santal or the Floris JF I wore yesterday. But Royal Delight pairs that aquatic cherry smell with a ton of salt and lavender. There’s a violet leaf aspect, too, though this smells nothing like Green Irish Tweed.
It reminds me a lot of MPG’s Garrigue, but it’s less salty. But that’s not saying much, because Garrigue is ridiculously salty, so that means Royal Delight is still pretty damn salty, especially in the heat.
By the afternoon, the fruits finally began to fade, leaving a sour mix of herbs and leaves paired with the ongoing salt and some lingering sweetness. And that's about it. I was looking forward to the signature Creed ambergris/tonka/vanilla/sandalwood base, and Royal Delight didn't have it. There was a mild creamy sweetness if I smelled my skin where I sprayed, which was probably a very light sandalwood, but it left me a little disappointed.
All told, this is another one that's really only for Creed collectors. I'd wear JF before I'd reach for Royal Delight, but I'd pick GIT or Millesime Imperial over either. If you have a thing for weird salty lavender over your aquatic chemicals, you may love this, but I personally think you could do much better in the Creed line. This is the kind of scent they do best, but Royal Delight isn't their best by a long shot.
Amouage Opus III
Well, after testing Opus III on my skin I don't hate it anymore. The first sniff on a card was off-putting and the ylang-ylang and banana notes really came out on the card, but on my skin it played out a bit differently.
Opus III has an interesting opening that can be described in a single word: chaotic. It calls to mind the openings of some of the more daring scents by MPG. There is a whirlwind of clashing notes which creates a bit of a cacophony. Flowers, hay, something a bit dirty, a hint of indoles, powder, nutmeg or some other similar spice. I wasn't sure what to make of it except that I didn't really like it in a purely olfactory sense, but that it's interesting intellectually just trying to figure out what the heck is really going on. That's when I thought back to the premise behind these scents: inspired by libraries, dusty old books, dried parchment, writing utensils, the creative process. Things relating to the search for, and expansion of knowledge. And so, from here on out I tried to view Opus III's development with that concept in mind.
That's when it hit me. Conceptually, Opus III is genius. The opening could just smell like a cacophony of notes, but keeping in mind the inspiration behind the scent, it becomes a bit clearer what one is smelling. The opening calls to mind the image of finding an ancient text up in a forgotten attic that is covered with years, possibly decades of dust. The leather binding is dry and the pages are stiff and yellowing, and the chest you found it in is a bit musty. None of this is unpleasant, although it isn't what one would call pleasant, either. It just is.
Within a few minutes the chaos of the opening has settled down and a very dry and powdery note begins to emerge, along with a hint of banana. Thankfully, the banana note was much more quiet on skin than on paper, and it called to mind nothing more than some ripe bananas hanging on a hook over in the corner of the room. The dry and powdery note has a couple facets and calls to mind two things: the smell of chalk dust, and the smell of a certain type of paper that for some reason made me think of the smell of a Bible I had as a child. There is a hint of sweetness, but the notes remain very dry, but thick and lush. The texture of the scent is so very very full, very dense, slightly stuffy even, but never suffocating.
A slightly rubbery note begins to emerge. Erasers. Yes, the smell of those all too familiar pink erasers. Dusty books and dry paper, chalk, erasers. This could very well be the smell of a small room where Einstein or Feynman pored over tomes of knowledge, jotted thoughts in a notebook and scrawled out equations on a chalkboard. The room is small and dusty and a bit stuffy but it is warm and comforting. It smells very old and yet familiar, comfortable.
Over time the woods of the base press through the chalk/eraser/paper accord, modifying it so that everything smells older, drier. The whole room is now but an image on a piece of film tucked into a photo album in a chest that you will someday find in the future. An old memory, almost forgotten, now recalled in sepia tones.
I don't know what to make of the scent. Conceptually, as I said, it is really genius. After settling down within the first 15 minutes or so, it becomes very comfortable to wear, although it is a very dry powdery scent with a hint of dry woods (papyrus, a gentle sandalwood). Not feminine, per se, and not masculine in any kind of modern sense. It is just old fashioned. It is more the smell of a time and a place and thus is not directly associated with gender, as the time and place recollected are unrelated to either gender as well.
It's very strong and longevity is fantastic. Sillage seems moderate. I wouldn't wear this often, but it would be the perfect scent to wear while doing some intensive studying, especially when all cooped up inside during winter, whether it be in a dorm room, library, or fireside in the den.
4.7/5 conceptually, 4/5 subjectively.
I may pick up a small decant or a few more samples for the few days this winter when it would really hit the spot. This is a one spray scent, in my opinion, so I could probably get away with a mere 2mL to last me all winter.
Worth a sniff if you are into conceptual scents, or are looking for a dry powder comfort scent (think Or des Indes, although this is a bit less ornate/luxurious, although this smells higher quality and far more 'comfy').
Being unfamiliar with L'Artisan, I decided to buy some samples, and they arrived today.
Although shown as unisex, I found Timbuktu, Dzing! and Dzongkha too feminine for my taste. They reminded me of something that my dear old aged Mother would wear. Tea For Two was more interesting with it's tea note, but far too powerful at the top for me.
While I was at it, I tried MPG George Sand which had a vinegary smell to my nose.
I also retried Tauer's L'air du Desert Marocain. It really is a well crafted fragrance but much like several Parfumerie Generale fragrances, also so well crafted, there is a sort of soft furry note which just doesn't agree with me. It gives me a headache. Such a shame, 'cause it really is a beauty.
Life's a bitch. If it were a slut it'd be easy.
That being said, heavy lavender has a very leathery quality, especially with all that salt. I can see how that could totally be a leather note and I'm just reading a couple of the ingredients while other people are better at smelling the big picture. There was a thread a little while back about missing the forest for the trees - I'm probably doing that, focusing on little details while everyone else sees the whole composition better.
Today I wore another aquatic, Skye by Geo F. Trumper.
Skye exploded out of the vial in a crazy chemical stew of sweet spicy weirdness. The primary components seemed to be a mix of really artificial bathroom-cleaner lemon and lavender, but cut with calone and somehow very sweet. There was a pinch of neroli in there, as well as a distinct powdery note. And something spicy and green, like maybe juniper berry or something similar. The end result smelled like someone mixed the Aqua Velva aftershave my dad wore when I was growing up with a bunch of super-sweet fake lemon and somehow made it aquatic. Honestly, it's pretty awful. I can see what they were trying to do - combining classic chypre elements with barbershop powder, while updating it with aquatic elements - but it's a discordant jumble, really.
In the wold of chefs (I work in the food business, for those who don't know), there's a rule: Be careful - just because an ingredient works with one other ingredient, that doesn't mean it will work with the whole dish. I knew a chef who served pasta with tomato sauce and chicken. His restaurant had some success with an orange chicken dish, so he thought it would be cool to add orange to the chicken in the pasta dish. That was the violation. Chicken tastes good with tomato sauce, and chicken tastes good with orange, but tomato sauce with fresh orange in it is ghastly. That's the rule Skye's topnotes violate. In pairs, most of the notes would make sense together, but all mixed together, you get tomato sauce with oranges cut up in it.
Thankfully, that mess settles down pretty quickly (though it pretty much guarantees that anyone who only tries Skye on paper won't give it a second thought unless they're some kind of aquatic barbershop masochist). Things got better as a surprising iris note pushed through, kicking out the green herbs and most of the lavender. So I basically ended up with sweet, lemony, powdery iris for the heart. This faded after an hour or so, leaving soapy neroli, made sweet and quite chemical by the lingering calone. That's about it - I didn't get much of a proper base except for the powdery soapy smell (white musk) that stayed on as the neroli faded.
While I'm making this sound just awful, the iris heart and the neroli were completely fine, if you're into sweet aquatics. That being said, I don't really think I'd go so far as to actually recommend Skye to anyone except for maybe fans of classic barbershop scents looking to expand into 80's aquatics, but that's a pretty slim group of people...
I had some decants come in the mail this week from a couple of trades. I love it when I get to open these packages.
Anyway, today I am trying for the first time L'Instant de Guerlain.
It is generally very well regarded here on Basenotes, so I was very excited to try it. I too, find this one to be very beautiful. When I first sprayed this on, I had a moment or two of doubt that it was going to smell too "mature" for my tastes. It didn't develop that way at all though. Instead it became a wonderful, semi-sweet, just the right amount of gourmand (I generally dislike gourmands), smooth fragrance.
I've been trying to decide all day so far if this is too formal smelling to wear to work as a daily fragrance. I'll need some more full wearings to decide that for sure, but I do know that I can't wait to wear it again.
The one thing that is bugging me about it, is I know for a fact I've never smelled it before, however there is something very familiar in the base. It wasn't familiar until it got to the base, but I know I've smelled something that bears as strong resemblance to that base. It's driving me crazy as I try to figure out what it is. Any thoughts?
Catching up, yesterday, in honor of the Sniff & Speak Opposite Gender Day, I went nuts and wore Chanel No. 5, the parfum extrait.
My mother always wore this on special occasions when I was growing up, so No. 5 has a familiarity to me, but I was eager to see what it smelled like in detail, knowing what I know now.
As expected, it kicked off with aldehydes, specifically the ones that smell like champagne. It was very powdery and soapy right from the start. There was a blast of florals when first applied, too, which were quickly enveloped by the powder. It mostly smelled, on me, like old fashioned floral-scented cold cream. It definitely had that classic "white floral" accord of rose, muguet, and ylang ylang, which smells less like it's individual ingredients and more like a distinct smell of its own. This accord, combining with the powder and some incoming iris was what I think made that cold cream smell. There was something fruity, like artificial peaches, and something spicy (I thought clove, but I'm sure they'd say carnation). But all of this was merely what flavored the creamy soapy powdery smell, which was definitely the star of the show.
I know this is blasphemy, but once the aldehydes faded, the heart actually reminded me of Old Spice, which is another powdery classic that pairs that "white floral" accord with spices (I've been saying it forever, but every woman who's into classic scents need to try Old Spice on at least once - this just made me even more sure of that).
Slowly, the legendary No. 5 creamy basenotes welled up under the powdery florals. I'm assuming it's a combination of orris, sandalwood, vanilla, and suede, but it's pretty seamless so the notes didn't really stand out - It was mostly just rich, creamy, soapy, and still quite powdery. I was expecting chypre basenotes of galbanum and moss, but I never smelled them (I'm wearing the current formulation, which is probably why).
All told, I expected to feel stupid wearing Chanel No. 5, but I actually didn't, mostly because of the Old Spice similarities, so that was a relief. But I just don't personally care very much for really powdery scents, so No. 5 just isn't going to be a favorite for me, personally.
As a side note, much has been made of the extrait version of Chanel No. 5 being one of the only perfumes in existence that actually uses real Grasse jasmine. At no point did I ever smell any jasmine and, as I was comparing the floral heart to uber-cheap Old Spice, I couldn't help but wonder why they would waste their money on such an expensive ingredient, only to bury it under synthetics and all that silly powder...
Last edited by rogalal; 6th September 2010 at 01:26 AM.
Catching up, yesterday I wore Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere.
It's weird. Much like Jean-Claude Ellena has his list of favorite notes that he likes to re-use, No. 5 Eau Premiere seems to pick and choose some favorite Chanel notes and rearrange them into something new.
It kicked off, as expected, with aldehydes, but they seemed to be paired with a light ginger note, so there was sort of a ginger-infused champagne sparkle on top. It quickly broke out into a heart that reminded me a bit of 28 La Pausa, with it's almost-funky orris root paired with citrus. There was another note in there that I couldn't place that ended up being the star of the show, though. The closest thing I can compare it to is the smell of tamarind pods - kind of sweet, kind of fruity, but also woody and a bit dark and always flirting with a dirty grossness that never showed through, but was clearly hinted at. It was an interesting smell, and its woody quality went a long way towards making Eau Premiere feel more unisex.
Given time, that tamarind-esque accord became all I really smelled after everything else faded. In a way, it was probably some combination of that ginger note with the citrus and the funk from the orris root mixing with some sort of wood note that made this smell, but it formed such a cohesive whole that it might as well have been a specific accord.
I applied it twice, and both times it faded before getting to any base notes (it was a hot day), so I can't really report on those.
All in all, I found No. 5 Eau Premiere quite interesting, but it didn't quite grab me. As for it's success at reinventing No. 5 for a younger generation, I didn't smell any of the things that make No. 5 magical for so many people (the powdery flowers, the hidden spices, the moody greens, or that super-creamy base). Aside from the tiny bit of aldehydes in the top (which come off more like a sparkling beverage than a classic perfume), Eau Premiere was much more a fruity/woody concoction with some interesting iris. If this intrigues you, by all means give it a try. Oh, and I personally think this would have been a much more interesting release if they'd marketed it to men...
I am copying this from the Boxeuses thread, since I have lost interest in writing reviews for the directory due to their non-appearance for months. But maybe, people are not missing out on anything at all
BOXEUSES (Serge Lutens) - first impression
Alright, I think I'll need more time with my "boozed plum". Now, 2 hours into it, the sugar plums and plum cordial or plum schnapps associations are pulling back, giving way to a moderate sillage combo with a 'leathery idea' and smoke and yes, maybe castoreum, but I am not expert enough to tell for sure. Sorry, I am very strict with my leathers being lifetime spoiled with Lanvin Scandal. That's my leather. Period. Back to Boxeuses, I agree it has nothing in common with what I recall Daim Blond to be like. I enjoy the ride on a Serge Lutens beaten track with a different twist. It somehow made me think of a wintery landscape, pre-xmas-y culinary delights and so forth. If you don't like the Lutens opulence, I think this one is not for you. Unfortunately, I have no idea of vintage Rochas Femme with its famous prunol base as I could image a comparison is in place here. Anyone?
Today, thanks to the last drops from a very small hidden tester at Neiman's, I'm wearing the upcoming re-release of Houbigant Fougere Royale.
I have to admit that I wanted to smell this more out of curiosity than out of any expectation that I'd actually like it. I'm not a huge fan of lavender, and upfront tonka has a weirdly animalic quality to my nose that I really don't like much, so my overall experience with fougeres hasn't been that great. Boy, was I in for a surprise. I really liked it. A lot.
For those of you who actually read my crazed ramblings here, you know that I wear something different every day and I almost never like anything, so that's really saying something.
To start off, the lavender was subtle. The focus was actually on coumarin (with a big thanks to the Houbigant rep for explaining it, because I couldn't figure out the note). The overall effect was green and leafy, but not in the current niche way that's like a big blast of chlorophyl or tomato leaf. This was darker and earthy and more moody, like a more mossy leaf. If you can, imagine an opening in a forest, where the ground is filled with ferns between the trees. The weather is warm and the air is moist, but the canopy of trees is keeping everything in the shade, so there's a damp chill despite the warmth. It's not the evergreen forest you get with cedar or vetiver or frankincense. This is a deep rainforest, but with a moody chill over it. It's written in grays and greens, as opposed to browns.
It stayed pretty linear for hours, but the overall smell was beautiful, so I'm not complaining. Unfortunately, I got the literal last drops from the sample, so it wasn't enough of a full application to get last through to the base notes, so I don't know where it went, but there had to be moss in there - I could smell that from the top.
There was talk at one point that this re-release would actually be exclusive specifically to the San Francisco Neiman Marcus, but no one said anything about that today. Anyway, I'm pretty sure I'll be picking up a bottle of this if I can...
If possible, I'd definitely suggest trying a sample of Fougere Royale. If you're into green scents, it's a take on the genre I haven't smelled before. If you're into forest scents, it's likewise a unique take on that genre. Or if you're just a perfume aficionado, it's worth tracking down a sniff just to smell a scent that defined a category.
While passing through the stores, I also smelled some other interesting things.
Hermes Eau Claire de Marveilles - like someone toned down the weird gross moss/chocolate of Elixer de Marveilles and made the whole thing clean and soapy. I need to give it a real test before reaching an opinion.
And apparently my Saks does carry the Cartier Les Heures du Parfum exclusives, they were just hidden (apparently, the SF Saks perfume department is so small that they actually only put out a small selection of what they carry - odd.) My favorite was XIII, which was a woody incense, but in a more creamy, feminine vein with a little bit of something funky rumbling in the background. I also found I interesting, in a confusing way. More creamy incense, but paired with a funky sort of weirdness. On paper, it was baffling, like someone mixed elements of Jicky, root beer, and L'Air du Desert Marocain. I need to get a sample to sort this out - that description just can't be right...
The biggest surprise were the new Chantecaille exclusives. I didn't much like their simplistic regular scents, so I had no hopes at all for their exclusives, but they were surprisingly nice. Their Vetiver was a straightforward heavy green vetiver over an incense-laden sandalwood, which seemed quite wearable (and I'm a sucker for a new vetiver). Kalimantan was the big surprise, a woody incense, but in the creamy, more feminine style of Costes or 10 Corso Como. Both qualify as required sampling for me.
The new Acqua Di Parma Essenza was nice, like the expected citrus cologne, but with a gritty dirtiness to it that made it stand out. Nice enough, but I feel like I've smelled a million of those by now, so it's hard to get excited over another one (yet, strangely, I didn't think that about the Chantecaille Vetiver - I guess it's a matter of personal taste...)
Catching up (I swear half the time I try to come here, the site is down…), I wore The Different Company Sel de Vetiver on Tuesday.
This is another one where what I smelled doesn’t really agree with the reviews here, or the notes elsewhere. On me, Sel de Vetiver kicked off with a mix of aldehydes and cypress, which made for a very distinctively old-school feminine take on woods. It’s possible that this was my nose misreading a mix of bright nutmeg and a particularly woody iris (that’s what the notes say, but I can’t detect any iris in here to save my life). This classic-smelling top was quickly joined by the expected vetiver. As the scent progressed, the focus definitely became the vetiver, which did have a pinch of saltiness to it, but not enough to gross me out (I don’t like salty scents much). Throughout the day, I smelled the cypress from the top occasionally, too. By the late afternoon, I could clearly smell the geranium in the base.
All in all, I didn’t much care for the old-school feminine topnotes, though I have to admit that they did make for a clever pairing with the vetiver. Somewhere out there, there’s a woman who’s scared of big vetiver scents who will find Sel de Vetiver very wearable because of those topnotes.
Yesterday, I wore Victrix by Profumum.
Finally, I’m trying a Profumum. I’m not sure about the rest of the line, but I’m struck by how Victrix smells like an attar of essential oils, but watered down into a perfume concentration.
To be honest, I had a really difficult time wrapping my nose around Victrix. It was clearly a mix of stuff, but it came together into a cohesive whole that I found very tough to put into words. The best description I could come up with was that it smelled kind of like celery, but boiled, dank celery, with a darkness to it. It also reminded me of the smell of water that’s had artichokes boiled in it, but after the artichokes are removed. There was also a bright element, kind of like the sharpness of pine, but minus any smell of actual pine. This sort of dank green vegetal smell lasted for hours, until it faded to a smell I only recognized from the olibanum essential oil I tried a few weeks ago. It was kind like the smell of chemical fertilizer – green and resinous, but somehow artificial – it’s the smell of Miracle Gro, not anything fecal like “natural” fertilizer.
That’s about it. I was expecting recognizable vetiver and woods, but any of those were absorbed into the dank vegetable smell. Victrix was certainly interesting, but I didn’t like it very much. In this same vein, I much preferred the topnotes of Byredo’s Green (though Green let me down with its weak soapy basenotes). But I can see why Victrix has its fans – it’s distinctive and different and presents a unique vision of greenness.
Continuing my trend of smelling things that no one else smells, today I’m wearing Jasmal by Creed.
Straight from the vial, Jasmal smelled mostly like jasmine (predictably), but dirty. It wasn’t the indoles typically paired with jasmine, though. I couldn’t quite place what it was, but it reminded me of the fecal aspect of oud, but without that actual oud smell – maybe a tiny pinch of civet, but it felt more “flora” than “fauna”.
The stank quickly went away, replaced by the familiar round, wet, green smell of Cis-3 Hexanol (that green aquatic leaf ester note that’s halfway between lily and cucumber). On me, this faux-lily note almost overpowered the jasmine for much of the heart of Jasmal. The whole thing got a pinch more woody as some galbanum crept in, while there was a sweet citrus quality going on because of the bergamot.
By the early afternoon, the whole thing has pretty much faded, with just a pinch of bubble gummy jasmine remaining, tempered with the galbanum. From the notes, I was expecting ambergris in the base, but maybe that was actually what gave that odd animalic note to the topnotes.
Oddly, Jasmal reminds me of Windsor, in two ways. First, it’s officially floral, but somehow unusual enough to feel more unisex than one would expect. Second, it seems to be based on very few notes, which come together in unexpected ways (seriously, who would expect ambergris to make jasmine remind me of oud?). As such, Jasmal has kind of failed me, because I was on the hunt for a great, simple jasmine scent, which Jasmal certainly is not. But it actually ended up being much more interesting than I expected, so that makes for a good trade-off.
In the end, I’d recommend Jasmal to male fans of interesting, weird, classic male florals (like Windsor or Hammam Bouquet) – not that it smells like either of those, but because it holds the same sort of quirky appeal. It could also be a jasmine for women who don’t like their jasmine to up-front and literal. And if you enjoy watery, almost aquatic florals, but with an almost woody dark quality, Jasmal may be perfect for you.
I went to Saks yesterday and sampled Cooper Square by Bond No.9.....This is fantastic.....Made the purchase.....Big Bottle of course!!!
I get how everyone else totally sees this as a leathery oriental. That cherry-ish note is playing around over a sort of a creamy suede-ish oriental note. But I still smell all that salt, and there's definitely a chemical aquatic note in there. To me, that makes the whole thing read as aquatic, but it probably was misleading for me to categorize Royal Delight as an overall "aquatic" scent, largely because it lacks the violet leaf that Creed usually uses in their textbook aquatics. I guess I'm trying to say that this isn't GIT, but it still makes sense in the same line as GIT. Maybe this is the definition of an aquatic oriental?
Parfumerie Generale (Private Collection) - Bois de Copaiba
Well, I was about to leave from my local store here (got samples of Epic Woman and another Ubar ) and spotted this specific one among the many PGs and said "I have never tried this one" sprayed it on and eventually left.
It's fantastic! And I don't mean this to turn it down, but it sings so loudly "L'Heure Bleue" that I could hardly believe it. It's quite potent just like L'Heure Bleue is. The main difference to me is that Bois de Copaiba is a tad less 'ladylike' if that's an issue for you personally with L'Heure Bleue and the underlying woody note present in Bois de Copaiba. The downside, of course, is the drydown and that's where they split up eventually - the Bois goes into the 'bois' and loses its magic a bit. DO TRY IT if you are beguiled by L'Heure Bleue but do not dare to pull it off as a guy I should possibly add that my L'Heure Bleue comparison is vintage EdP.
I'm trying to get a little more focused on my sampling, with the San Francisco Meet-Up in just a couple of weeks. I want to finally try some scents I've really liked on paper that I would consider buying at the meet-up. In that spirit, today I'm wearing YSL Body Kouros.
After almost falling in love with classic Moschino Pour Homme, largely thanks to its mace note, I was excited to try Body Kouros, another scent theoretically based on mace.
The mace in Body Kouros is just as I liked it in the Moschino - A bright, sweet, woody, spicy smell halfway between cinnamon and nutmeg. There's a very short-lived blast of lemon in the topnotes, as well as a sort of woody darkness under the mace. Unfortunately, something just won't sit right on my skin. Body Kouros had some other bright ingredient in the heart (maybe the eucalyptus or the anise the other reviews mention - neither of which I smelled clearly). The mace was always there, clear and sweet and bright, but the other mystery brightness clashed with it, leaving a weird, almost chemical sourness on my skin. As the day went on, the weird sense of a pleasant smell with something just sort of "off" lurking in the background never left. By the afternoon, the off-note brightness was replaced by a weird smell remininscent of chrlorine or bleach hiding behind the lingering mace. Because this is from 2000, I'm assuming it's my old nemesis "woody amber".
All in all, I really wanted to like Body Kouros. I understand that a Kouros flanker would be disrespecting its heritage if it were purely fresh and clean and didn't have hints of "ick" to give it some balls. But I'm afraid I'm just not enjoying this. If you have a love for metallic current masculines, you may appreciate Body Kouros more than me, but I'd highly reccomend that anyone who likes Body Kouros should really track down a sniff of the rare (but not impossible to find) Moschino Pour Homme for a slightly more pleasing take on mace.
Do sample Bois de Copaiba! It is interesting and I was complimented on it (I hardly ever get ). I think top and heart are really nice with an interesting, yes haunting twist. Maybe the current EdP is worse than Bois de Copaiba? I only know the current extrait is rather flat compared to my vintage EdP. I'd be curious to read your observations here.
And how does Bois de Copaiba fit in to this?
I think starting an own thread would be interesting since there are experts around for this. I am certainly not. I think if you find the current extrait powdery you'll feel the same way about the vintage EdP or even worse. You guys all meet up soon for a Basenotes shopping day, right? Why don't you ask one of your friends to swap a small vial with you? The vintage EdP is still available on ebay, if you like it.
Bois de Copaiba could give you what you are asking for with no/little powder, but it's lacking the magic in the drydown turning more towards the "bois" aspect of it.
Catching up, I spent Saturday morning going around town warning the stores that the Basenotes SF Meet-Up would be coming (we could use a few more people – anyone going to be in town the 25th???). Along the way, I sprayed on the new “C” for Men by Clive Christian.
On paper, C’s similarity to Tom Ford’s Tuscan Leather was pretty striking (the SA’s were even commenting on it). On skin, it did smell quite similar, but with an herbal facet in the background (I’m guessing juniper berry, but it was quite subtle so I really don’t know). It was also a bit smoky, an element which would become more important with time.
By the heart, a very burnt birch tar came through, so “C” ended up straddling the line between Tom Ford’s synthetic leather smell (which focuses more on the realistic smells of the chemicals and dyes used in leathermaking) and the classic birch-tar-based Russian leathers.
By the base, the Tom Ford-esque elements faded and oud came in, pairing up really well with the smoky birch tar. As time passed and the birch tar slowly faded, the whole thing got sweeter. At first, it was the sweet creamy base of Iso E Super – later, it was a subtle vanilla and creamy incense under the oud.
All in all, “C” for Men really is a pretty amazing leather scent, especially if you like smoky woods with your leather and enjoy a clean, creamy oud. I really liked it, but not $385-for-a-bottle liked it. Oh well, if I win the lottery, this will be one of the first things I pick up…
Today I’m wearing the new Bond No. 9 Cooper Square.
This is actually a very old-school smelling scent, and very well done, at that.
It kicked off with that mace note I’ve been enjoying lately (it’s woody and sweet and somewhere between nutmeg and cinnamon – it was the main bright ingredient in Body Kouros), paired with bergamot and a juniper berry note that went a long way towards making Cooper Square smell more like a classic 80’s powerhouse than a current niche.
A very 80’s leathery note came in under the bright, herbal mace note, further enforcing the 80’s retro feel. The heart was a long, slow fade from the bright mace over leather to a more fruity leather, all of which happened under the thoughtful watch of a very 80’s powerhouse patchouli. It’s hard to describe it – it reminded me of a Lutens trick (not that this smelled like anything Lutens would do, though) where the leather merged seamlessly with a sort of red fruit smell to form something weirdly cohesive. Theoretically, this sweet fruity characteristic was probably the listed cognac note. Given a few hours, it dried down to a distinctively 80’s chypre base of powerhouse patchouli and vetiver with the green sweetness of galbanum continuing to flavor the remaining leather.
I have to say, if Gucci or YSL put out a scent like this today, there would be a 20-page thread here filled with people peeing themselves with delight, gushing about how they’ve returned to their roots. But, this is a Bond No 9, which means that it’s too expensive and/or “foofoo” for most powerhouse collectors to take it seriously. So, aside from a few brave souls (like Gary above!), Cooper Square will probably end up getting lost in the huge pile of Bond No 9 releases, which is a shame because there are a lot of people here who have been waiting many years for something retro of this caliber to come along, and most of them will probably end up skipping over Cooper Square…
rogalal, it just came to my mind that HdP's 1725 Casanova comes quite close to L'Heure Bleue's drydown according to Luca Turin and I can see his point. Are you familiar with it?
I just realized that I never posted my thought about what I wore Sunday or last night, so I'm playing catch-up.
Sunday morning: Nasomatto Duro
A loud blast of oud leading into a loud blast of burnt birch tar leather. It lacked the panache of Clive Christian's New "C" for Men, which did this same thing with way more subtlety and character, but it made up for it with sheer, loud exuberance. Then it dried down to a really loud puddle of that metallic "woody amber", which, in extrait concentration, mostly smelled like ammonia. I have to begrudgingly admit that that mix of birch tar and "woody amber" actually smelled kind of interesting while they coexisted, but the following hours of pure ammonia were more than I could handle.
Sunday evening: Hermés Concentré d'Orange Verte.
I really expected this to be a pretty straightforward citrus-topped cologne, but it was much more of a classic-style masculine chypre, complete with the juniper berry and angry 80's basil making the citrus topnotes quite dirty and dark. It even ended with a chypre base. While I do enjoy a bit of dirty grit with my citruses, Concentré took it a bit far for me, quite literally drowning any brightness from the orange in a rough sea of angry retro spices. I can see how lovers of masculine classics enjoy this, but it wasn't really my style.
Yesterday night: Hermés Eau de Gentiane Blanche
A perfect example of minimalism in fragrance. I swear this only has three notes: black pepper, some sort of creamy/musky/soapy white floral, and that Ellena green bell pepper note. It starts as pepper over the mystery flower and slowly gets greener as the black pepper fades and the bell pepper comes in and takes over. It's not minimal on silage (it's actually quite strong) and I could clearly smell the bell pepper on my arm the next morning, so it's got longevity, too. It just doesn't do very much, so your enjoyment really depends on how much you like black pepper and that weird flower note.
Today, I've broken out my sample pack of the three new-ish Sisley frags. Fittingly, I'm starting off with Eau de Sisley 1.
I remember really liking this on paper at the store when it came out, largely thanks to the citrus in the topnotes, but the citrus I almost fell for faded almost immediately on my skin. This left something I'm having trouble describing. Imagine the drydown of a really stereotypical fruity floral, the part where the last of the heart is fading into the base. There's a lingering fruitiness from some almost-faded cassis, and there's a generic sort of flowery quality, probably from some ylang. But it's mostly just a sweet chemical stew, not quite vanilla, not quite amber, and not quite musk, but with sweet elements of each. It's an unremarkable smell I've encountered dozens of times in unremarkable women's designer releases. Somehow, Eau de Sisly 1 manages to recreate the most boring, tepid part of an already overplayed stereotype and translate it into the star. In the base, a decent galbanum came in, but it felt pretty unremarkable, too. All in all, I think Sisley has managed to create one of the most boring releases I've smelled in quite a while. That's not to say that it smells bad. It's just really "meh."
Hopefully, 2 and 3 will make up for this...
Sorry to ruin the aesthetic appeal of this page with this picture and scent. These ugly bottles with a supersize Polo Logo looks like those water-bottle that little kids use in kindergarten.
I sampled them today. Initially I thought these 4 colorful fragrances were meant for kids. The scent however is not that bad. Not bad as in - ok if you like modern designer scents, especially from RL. People who love Creed or L'Artisan should stay far away. You wouldn't want these bottles placed next to your noble bottles.
no.1 is a fresh citrus - smells a lot like Polo Blue.
no.2 is a light oriental - It has a tonka bean type vanilla smell. It reminded me of some other recent oriental scent, I can't remember which one.
no.3 is a green scent - I like this one a bit, it's not green like the original Polo, it's a modern blend.
no.4 is ? - I didn't tried it as I ran out of spot on my arms and wrists.
The interest thing is - I also sprayed them on cards which I took back home. When I opened my bag at home I smelled this fantastic aroma - When the scents blended together, they smells really good. Are these scents meant to be layered?
Edit: These are Ralph Lauren's Big Pony perfume, I think I preferred 'My little pony'.
Last edited by eau_de_amour; 15th September 2010 at 10:35 AM.
Thanks for the review, eau_de_amor. Did you have a favorite of the four? When I checked out the ponies, the salesman described #2 as "the chocolate one" and said that it was selling the most.
Today I'm wearing the next Sisley, Eau de Sisley 2.
It went on mostly citrus, but with a bright burst of mint. Given time, a sort of brown Lipton tea smell came in, which formed most of the heart of Eau de Sisley 2. If forced, I could pick out vetiver and maybe petitgrain, as well as something flowery, but everything really came together into a tea smell for me. That's about it, really. It started more sweet and citrusy, but with that bright mint, and ended up a bit more woody, but only in the sense that the tea smell could be described as vaguely woody, not in the sense that this actually ever smelled like wood.
I get the feeling that this could really sing in very hot weather. There's a brightness in Eau de Sisley 2 that permeates from top to bottom. It's been warm today, but not scorching, and I'm sad to say that I've found this a bit forgettable, but I really do think that it could be amazing on a truly hot summer day.
Thanks, ROtto. I never really make it out to the peninsula (no car), so unfortunately Burlingame might just as well be Cairo for me. But it's good information to know...
Today, predictably, I'm wearing Eau de Sisley 3.
3 Went on with a watery mix of nondescript florals - mostly rose, I think. The whole thing was weirdly sweet, like the vanilla drydown of a fruity floral. The main point of interest was a really buttery (and I mean that literally) benzoin in the mix. If this sounds kind of challenging and niche, it wasn't really. It was much more of an interesting fruity floral than anything done for the sake of art.
Given time, the butter faded into the sweet, creamy flowers, allowing something like strawberry (maybe cassis) to come through.
By the afternoon, the whole thing had faded down to a nondescript sweet spot on my arm that carried hints of galbanum if I tried hard enough to pick it out.
All in all, 3 seems to occupy that space that's a step nicer than Lola or Britney Spears, but no where near as intriguing as the more artful perfumes out there. I personally think that Bond No 9 rules this particular niche, and Eau de Sisley 3 lacks the luxury concentration to be able to take on Bond.
Sadly, I'd say skip it. It may be one of the nicer things at the mall, but you can do better...
I just sampled D&G's The One Gentlemen.....This is very nice!!!
I have to admit that I've been going to sleep for the last few days in the new Diptyque Eau Duelle. Finally, I gave it a full wearing today.
On me, Eau Duelle seems to be all about the interplay between two very different personalities. On one hand, there's the green. It's largely vetiver, but I get hints of that ivy note from Eau de Lierre (which was made by the same perfumer, so that's not a surprise), as well as the cilantro-tinged green bell pepper I know best from Poivre Samarcande. On the other hand, there's a very sweet vanilla. It's not the chef's vanilla of Guerlain - it's more the super-sweet bourbon vanilla that I generally dislike because it tends to smell like cotton candy when paired with fruit or citrus in those awful teen-themed mall perfumes. Essentially, Eau Duelle is a long, drawn-out fight between these two personalities.
Honestly, this could have been a complete trainwreck. With too little vanilla, it could have been relentlessly green (which probably would have made me happy but would likely have turned off the unisex crowd). With too much, it would have been some sort of horrifying grassy cotton candy nightmare. Somehow, it manages to walk the tightrope and never fall into either abyss.
There are other notes involved, too. There's pepper on the top, and something that registers to me as similar to bergamot, which I'm assuming is the listed tea note. I also get something slightly animalic lurking behind the vanilla in the heart, which smelled like musky tonka today but smelled like a particularly funky carroty orris last night.
On me, it spent the first couple of hours in an attention-grabbing jumble (I just couldn't stop sniffing - it was just so odd, but in a good way) before all melding together later into something akin to vetiver ice cream (if that existed...). The whole thing is pretty linear, all told, largely because vanilla and vetiver are the main ingredients and they both share huge longevity and stretch from the top to the base. The movement is largely created as other background players come and go over the day.
So, I'm quite intrigued, but I still don't think I'll spring for a full bottle. I'm captivated by the novelty, and I'm a huge fan of the green notes used here, but the sweet vanilla is a bit of a problem for me, even though Eau Duelle does a good job keeping it under control. It's impossible not to think of Fat Electrician when testing this, but I definitely like Eau Duelle better (Fat Electrician worked for me until that huge tobacco leaf note came in and beat down everything else). Though Fat Electrician is probably more green and less sweet, and hence a bit more masculine.
All in all, I would definitely suggest sampling Eau Duelle if you're into vetivers or greens - it's not a purist green scent, but it sure is interesting. It strikes me that it may disappoint if you're looking for a typical winter gourmand comfort scent - this just isn't that kind of vanilla. It's only gourmand in the sense that it's sweet, but I'd classify it more as a novel oriental-style scent.
Wandered down to Douglas recently and tried a few new things.
D&G the One Gentleman is, it turns out, what they were passing out samples of last week at Bijenkorf. It didn't make enough of an impression on me then to ask what it was. It still doesn't. A slightly spicy, vaguely fruity something that doesn't do much for me. It's nice enough, and they look like they are expecting to sell a lot of it, but D&G has never interested me much. Not something I need.
I really like the pepper opening of Marc Jacobs Bang. Unfortunately, at least on me it doesn't last. Really doesn't last, in that after what seems like 30 seconds it is replaced with a big blast of Cedary wood (I'm no expert, but is it ISO E Super?). Then that changes into a very green Vetiver, with not so much a transition as a jump cut. The middle and base are ok, I guess, but nothing special, and I would rather wear Declaration or Encre Noire. The only thing I really like about it is the opening, and that is almost nonexistent. Another 'no'.
The bottle of Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight in Paris, which looks nice in photos, unfortunately looks somehow 'cheap' in person. The scent itself is... strange. I can hardly smell the opening at all; I get a slight hint of 'soap', but nothing else (maybe there's something I can't smell?). The middle is somewhat interesting, but not necessarily in a good way. The tea/lily of the valley notes are not too bad, but they seem to me to be fighting with the leather notes (?) from the top and then the tonka notes (?) from the base. For me, this dissonance is something I actively dislike. The base is a very nice creamy sweet tonka/vanilla. Unfortunately, that base is not really to my taste, and so this is another 'no'. This was EdP, which was their tester, and also available for purchase in 125ml.
They had Kenzo Boisee for sale, but no testers (odd, that).
And I passed on even smelling the Big Ponys. Even if I expected them to be something special (which I don't), I can't imagine wanting to give any money to the monster marketing machine that is RL.
Trying out Jubilation XXV again last night ... I think I have to indulge myself before long , I woke up this morning and hours after application it still smelt wonderful
Today I'm continuing to test potential SF Meet-Up purchases with the discontinued-but-still-available-around-town Virgilio by Diptyque.
Virgilio is probably the truest spice scent I've ever tried. There's realistic basil, thyme, and maybe oregano giving it a smell like opening up the spice cabinet. Sage and bay leaf are in there, too, giving a light tea quality behind the spices. I kept thinking I smelled a pinch of vetiver, also, and there was just a slight tinge of wood, but the spices were definitely the stars.
To put this in perspective, most spicy scents I've smelled and enjoyed have focused more on the sweeter, more tea-ish spices (Green Green Green and Green, X for Men, CDG White, etc). Other, older-style spicy scents seem to always use juniper berry, which makes everything darker (imagine just about any spicy 80's scent, or indeed even the basic idea of an 80's masculine). Virgilio is neither of these. It actually smells like spices, which is either brilliant (if you like interesting green scents) or awful (if you're turned off by the idea of smelling like cooking herbs).
Virgilio's base smells pretty much dead-on like the frankincense essential oil I tried on a while ago - creamy, sweet, and nuanced, with a distinct redwood forest smell on top. That pinch of vetiver is still there, and I can still sense echos of the basil, too.
If you like woody incense scents, you'd probably like Virgilio. The reliance on heavy frankincense reminds me of Heeley's Cardinal, but with kitchen spices instead of the cedar. If you like dark green vetivers, you may also like it (not that this smells like vetiver, but it has that same sort of spicy green appeal). It's from 1990, but it smells remarkably modern, except that if it came out today, there would probably be a big slug of Iso E Super in it. As such, it's quite wearable and interesting. I personally don't think I need a bottle (I love the smell of frankincense, but I find its creamy sweetness a bit off-putting in large doses), but I can attest to its quality and would definitely suggest giving it a sniff before it disappears.
Yesterday, I tested another potential Meet-Up buy, Omniscent 0.96 by Yosh. I wore the new EDP version, as opposed to the older pure oil.
I found Omniscent really interesting, but I can see why it's so fiendishly unpopular. It's got a lot going on, and it flashes back and forth between extremes in a way that I can understand people finding awkward. In a way, I get what she was going for - actual omniscience (knowing and seeing everything), would be kind of a hot mess of conflicting information.
Ostensibly, Omniscent is the closest thing Yosh has to a masculine. It's also the polar opposite of everything else she does (she specializes in clean, simple florals and "easy" scents made with natural oils). It starts off with very dark herbs, the kind that are so dark they actually end up smelling leathery. This most likely includes the kush note (for the uninitiated, kush is a varietal of marijuana). But there are florals peeking out beneath them, something sort of fruity and resinous, and some sort of powdery aldehydes on top. In theory, this stage reminded me of SMN's Melograno, with it's odd mix of Old-Spice-esque powdery florals and woodsy, old-fashioned fruits and spices, but all played against a big, dark, leathery odd accord. It's the smell of a very rich man a long time ago, when aristocratic weirdness like No. 88 or Hammam Bouquet made perfect sense.
Given time, the smell on my skin becames less leathery and more focused on the fruity resinous note. I'm not sure what it was. As a weird comparison, if you imagine galbanum as smelling resinous, green and round, the note here was resinous, fruity, orange, and round. With the powder fading slightly, the florals eventually pushed through, and the next stage of Omniscent was basically a long slow fade from leathery fruity resins to flowery fruity resins. Late in the day, the resin note finally subsided, leaving creamy florals over a sort of vanilla/sandalwood base.
So, Omniscent started in aristocratic Italy, meandered through niche/attar territory of Middle Eastern resins, and ended up in the golden age of women's classic perfumes. As an art piece, it's quite a trip, and I'm quite sure that I'd note many new things with subsequent wearings, but the larger question is who would actually wear this. Serious perfumistas who are more interested in having something truly fascinating to sniff than actually smelling like what's expected should track down a sample at once. Omniscent is the fragrance equivalent of a Kafka novel, in German. If you're seriously into it and in the mood, the payoff will be worth it, but if you're not, it'll just be painfully confusing and mildly unpleasant.
At Saks in San Francisco, I tried the Cartier series Les Heures.
There will be thirteen, but so far only five are out: One, Four, Ten, Twelve, and Thirteen.
One is basically a suede scent, reminiscent of a new pair of gloves; Four (the cocktail hour) smells like a martini made with fresh basil; Ten is supposed to be seductive, but is actually very fresh and upbeat and kind of cologne-y; Twelve is rich, smooth, and chypré, with jasmine, incense, patchouli, and labdanum; Thirteen is a heavy leather with (to my nose) too much of the birch-tar smell of the tannery. The most promising for me is Twelve; the SA kindly gave me a sample, which is wearing beautifully on the back of my right hand as I write.
Sorry, I must be getting dyslexic; I originally posted Six for Four. Easy to confuse in Roman numerals VI for IV.
Yr good bud,
"Why spend life seeking that which does not satisfy? Why remain a slave, when freedom waits? Let your life shine; illumine the world with your truth!"
Fiat justitia ruat cælum.
Let justice be done, even if the sky should fall.
— Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus
Qui nihil potest sperare, desperet nihil.
Let him who can hope for nothing despair of nothing.
I was curious about those Cartiers, too. My favorite was 13 -I've realized that I'm becoming quite the sucker for birch tar, and complex incenses seem to appeal to me a lot right now.
Speaking of which, I’m continuing my sample-testing of things I could potentially buy at the upcoming San Francisco Meet-Up (4 days and counting!). With that in mind, I’m working my way through a sample pack of the three new Chantecaille Exclusives.
(OK, so they added a fourth in the couple of weeks since I got my samples – doh! I’ll at least do the first three)
Today, I’m wearing Petales.
At least on me, Petales was primarily tuberose, but there was definitely some bubble-gummy jasmine there, too. The bubble gum aspect of it leads me to think it was actually real jasmine essence, which is notoriously expensive. The result was sweeter than your average tuberose – I think there may have even been a pinch of vanilla hiding behind the florals (tuberose is notoriously strong and Petales is no exception, so any vanilla would have been quite hidden). While Petales was sweet, it never reached anything close to saccharine fruity floral sweetness levels. Smelling close, there was a pinch of indoles, but no more than you’d get from an actual bouquet of tuberoses.
By lunch time, the florals had faded and smoothed out enough for the base to peek through. It reminded me of the legendary Chanel No. 5 basenotes – a super-creamy sandalwood with a pinch of vanilla, which smelled quite awesome with the lingering tuberose and jasmine.
In the pantheon of tuberose perfumes, Petales is certainly loud (aren’t they all?), but quite feminine and completely NOT edgy at all. It’s pretty, not dirty. And it is sweeter than most that I’ve tried. The truly hardcore Fracas-lovers may find it a bit “clean”, but I think it still maintains an intelligence often lacking from mainstream florals, and it's nowhere near the generic fruity floral I expected, and it's one "exclusive" that actually manages to smell exclusive.
Side note: The pictures don’t do these bottles justice. The etched patterns are quite nice, and the crystal disco ball caps are heavy and metal, so they do a good job feeling expensive when you actually hold them, if such things are a concern to you.
Yesterday, I started off with Vetyver.
Honestly, there seems to be a tried and true recipe for vetiver scents, and I’m amazed how many of them use the same elements, while somehow managing to smell a bit different just by tweaking the mix. Really, almost all of them seem to combine vetiver with lemon (and verbena, to extend the lemon), along with nutmeg and geranium. With more lemon, you get a hot weather summer vetiver, while heavy geranium gives you a dark, moody autumn vetiver. Just pick your basenotes - mossy chypre elements for that classic feel (Guerlain et al) or incense for a modern niche interpretation, or some soapy musk for a “clean” vetiver. Sure, it’s an oversimplification (I’m ignoring the whole subgenres of soapy neroli vetivers and orange vetivers), but it seems to hold true a lot of the time.
Chantecaille’s Vetyver is no exception. If anything, it’s actually heavier on the supporting notes than the actual vetiver, so it has the feel of a classic like Guerlain or Givenchy, but without the astringent edge you get with too much actual vetiver. As such, Vetyver can easily join the long list of decent vetiver scents that are worth trying if you’re going through a vetiver phase. To be blunt, it doesn’t have anything immensely special to differentiate itself (like Vetiver 46’s funky leather or Encre Noir’s moody smoke or Grey Vetiver’s modern freshness), but it’s every bit as wearable as Etro’s Vetiver or the re-released Givenchy. As such, I can’t imagine this becoming any kind of cult favorite, but there’s nothing ostensibly wrong with it.
As a side note, this is officially an EDP, but it didn’t feel like one. I was hoping for a more luxurious high-concentration feel, but it didn’t quite deliver. Apparently, the luxury is more in the fancy bottle and the price…
Now that BN is back (woo hoo!), I can finally post my thoughts on the third Chantecaille exclusive, Kalimantan.
Kalimantan is probably the most "niche" of the trio, based on a very dense mix of "oriental" ingredients. From the top, there was a slightly medicinal amber played against tonka, which reminded me of Tom Ford's Amber Absolute. But it also had a very buttery benzoin note (like in Costume National Homme). This was all pretty familiar territory, but it took it elsewhere with the addition of cumin. Not the cumin that smells like sweat, but the cumin that smells like someone's frying up Indian food. There was also something lightly smoky in the background and a note that smelled like green wood, like the smell of a freshly broken branch on a new sapling.
On me, Kalimantan didn't change too much over time (which I'm assuming is because it's composed primarily of base notes, without any citrus or fleeting topnotes to fade over time), but this is pretty common in oriental-style amber/incense scents, so it didn't bother me. It was also very much a luxury-concentration EDP, with silage and longevity to spare.
I personally don't like cumin or too much tonka, so I wouldn't bick up a bottle of Kalimantan for myself, but I have to admit that I'm impressed. This whole trio from Chantecaille seems to have been created with serious perfume aficionados in mind, as opposed to the mass market, and that's very rare, even in an "exclusive" line. At this point, these are exclusive to Neiman Marcus, but I expect to hear more buzz about these as people get to sniff them. SF Meet-Up participants, this is one I'm definitely going to make everyone sniff!
Continuing to sample potential Meet-Up purchases, yesterday I wore Bois 1920 Sushi Imperiale.
On first sniff, Sushi Imperiale made me think of what you'd get if you took the gourmand amber out of Hermes Ambre Narguille, leaving the mix of pipe tobacco and cinnamon and pie spices over citrus and then apples. In a way, that turned out to be right, though whatever spices were making me think of pipe tobacco were quickly overwhelmed by a sort of cinnamon/mace/nutmeg mix. While the spices always played an important part, Sushi Imperiale was mostly an intelligently done fruity scent on me. The top was more citrus-focused, while the heart and most of the day was a more nuanced mix, in which I could pick out apple and pineapple mixing with the lingering citrus.
By the heart, Sushi Imperiale ended up reminding me more of cult classic Brandy by Brandy than Ambre Narguile. It had that same sort of fruit and spice vibe, though it trades in Brandy's home-grown charm for the more polished feel of an established perfumer - In Brandy, you can smell the essential oils, while Sushi Imperiale has the definite feel of standard industry chemical ingredients.
The other oddly notable thing about Sushi is that all of this tasty spiced fruit took place in the silage. On my skin, it was decidedly flatter, and had an odd sour green note that I didn't much care for. I tried to justify it by saying that what really matters is the silage, but I actually ended up being a bit turned off by it. But I can definitely see why this has its fans. And it's also very much my favorite of the Bois 1920's that I've tried.
Today I tested another Bois 1920, Sandalo e The.
Wow, talk about topnotes specifically designed to make me not like a fragrance - Sandalo e The kicked off with that faux-citrus aromachemical that reminds me of oversweetened Tang, paired with cumin. Ouch. Unlike the famous Declaration, which uses the bitter sharpness of citrus to interplay with the cumin to artful effect, Sandalo feels simultaneously sacharine and funky, which is just an odd combination.
Thankfully, after a few minutes, things somehow managed to coalesce together into a seamless accord that was neither oversweetened fake citrus nor cumin. It's a smell I recognize from hand creams, lotions, and candles that are supposed to smell like green tea. Long before I knew a thing about fragrances, I was confused by this smell, which smelled absolutely nothing like actual green tea, but that so many companies called green tea. Looking back, I assume it's just a fragrance affectation (kind of like how everyone in the perfume world just sort of accepts that the ocean smells like melon when, of course, it doesn't). Anyway, Sandalo e The ended up smelling like this, which I can now tell is a mix of that sweet fake orange, cumin, some sort of orange blossom, and what I think is cinnamon. For the life of me, I never smelled any sandalwood. While this was quite strong and poured out quite a bit of silage, it petered out by the evening before I could make out any distinct base notes.
So, if you're a fan of those "green tea" scented hand creams they sell at expensive home stores, you may really love Sandalo e The, and don't let the questionable topnotes scare you away. But if you don't like super-sweet, rather artificial spicy citruses, don't bother.
Amouage Memoir Man
This scent is really quite interesting. I definitely need to give it another few wearings before I fully understand it, but I will give some initial impressions.
This starts out with a very realistic absinthe accord. It's rounder and deeper (and has less pine/fir) than the accord in Fou d'Absinthe, and is not the brutal live wormwood plant accord in the opening of Yatagan. Here you get a hint of wormwood oil (which is aromatic, green, almost minty like spearmint but darker and smoother and more full bodied), a very round anise note that persists through most of the fragrance, and a mint note that smells more like mint leaf than mint toothpaste or mint gum. The mint is a minor player though, so do not fear. I couldn't detect the basil as a standalone note but have a feeling that it is acting in such a way to flesh out the accord which could otherwise be too aromatic and thin. Well, this is anything but thin.
The opening of this scent is dark, mysterious, and hard to pin down as the notes dance and swirl like the opalescence in a fresh absinthe louche. It is unmistakably green but is not rendered with hues of green normally seen in perfumery. We get an almost washed out green with hints of olive and black tones.. something like this
The anise element of the absinthe accord is present from early on in the fragrance well into the drydown and imparts a round darkness to the scent that hums quietly in the background - never silent but never obtrusive. Quickly the anise accord is joined by a dark woody accord.. cedar rounded out with lavender absolute. Lavender absolute smells quite a bit different than lavender oil - it is sweet and round and coumarinic and yet dark and has some fruity/berry elements. In Memoir man it never jumps to the fore but acts to deepen the absinthe accord and perhaps more importantly round off the woody notes.
The drydown features a prominent cedar/guaiac accord that is subtly smoky. The oakmoss is detectable via the leathery and slightly salty notes it provides.
This scent is unquestionably dark and woody. Unquestionably darker and more brooding than Epic, and also more woody where Epic was more spice oriented. This is just as resolutely masculine as Epic Man, but far less oriental in nature. Memoir Man has an undeniable European feel, not so much as in the European tradition of perfumery, but instead a post-industrialized Europe that is just moving into the Romantic Era. The opening is downright melancholic. The dry down is beautiful but there is always a sense of bleakness present throughout - a black thread woven throughout the fragrance. And yet the scent is so very strong, not only in projection and sillage (both of which are as notable as in Epic Man!), but there is a sort of.. assuredness present that stands resolute against the melancholy and prevents the scent from ever becoming depressing.
The green elements of the opening last for the first hour or maybe two and this is where the scent is most enjoyable, to me. The drydown does become progressively "more similar" to Gucci PH (the original), with a fairly strong pencil shaving cedar accord tempered here by the lavender absolute, rose and vanilla (and I think I smell a bit of jasmine?) but as mentioned, this scent always retains a darkness that the Gucci never has. In Memoir, the accord is also fuller and weightier. Gucci PH is more like an idealized autumn day, while Memoir Man is that same day plunged into darkness as a storm rolls in.
Fans of Gucci PH, Fou d'Absinthe, Yatagan, Epic Man, and anyone who enjoys dark scents or very woody scents should definitely check out Memoir Man. I'm not 100% sold on the dry down yet - I wish it had more jasmine or something to smooth it out a bit more and make it even darker (the darkness abates considerably from the opening after the first few hours of wear). If it had those tweaks (which are just personal preferences, mind you) this would easily be one of my favorite scents of all time. I'm going to try layering it with Memoir Woman as that has a much more noticeable (almost grape-like) jasmine accord (it calls to mind a niche take of Dior's Poison, from my cursory sniffing). The Memoir duo seem to have been designed, not only conceptually but olfactorily, too, to be layered, and I think the unification of these two 'disparate souls who see themselves reflected in each other' could be a very beautiful reunion, indeed.
One more interesting thing: my girlfriend loved this on me. She didn't know what it was and I had told her nothing about the ad copy but she said that it smelled dark, mysterious, and even "scandalous" on me, and said something to the effect of "It smells like.. well, if you could capture the smell of doing something you shouldn't be doing. Like the essence of one of those bad-boy men who women want despite themselves, and yet it simultaneously has this refined elegance and doesn't seem forced or contrived in any way."
An interesting take given what is mentioned in the ad-copy. That just confirmed that the scent really DID smell that way and it wasn't simply (a fear I always have) that the ad copy and expectations were altering my actual perception of the scent.
Thanks for the detailed review, SOS. I'm intrigued by the concept of lavender absolute vs lavender oil. I think that may be the explanation for how the Fougere Royale re-release smelled. I was expecting lavender and got a deep, green, moody coumarin-esque note, the likes of which I'd never smelled before.
Speaking of unique smells, today I'm testing vintage Habanita EDC by Molinard, thanks to a generous sample from a nice BNer at yesterday's meet-up.
Franky, the smell of this straight from the vial kind of scared me, and left me quite bewildered how it would appeal to the tastes of the person who brought it. On my skin, it behaved better, but was still pretty wild. Imagine a very astringent cognac with alcohol fumes rising from it, the kind that burns when it goes down. Given a minute, some of the booze evaporated off, replaced by a smoky burnt smell. It wasn't quite burnt caramel - it was more like someone poured a bottle of cognac into a pan and left it on the stove to burn. It wasn't entirely unpleasant, but I certainly couldn't see how Habanita could be so popular, based on this smell.
Then it hit me. It's an old French scent. It never ceases to amaze me how so many of them smell so awful for the first 20 minutes, in order to smell so good for the rest of the day (think Jicky's poop explosion or Pour Un Homme's filthy urinal opening).
True to form, a few minutes later, everything settled into a very nice, traditional "oriental" scent. I mostly smelled a lightly powdery, slightly flower-dusted amber, but there was a lingering burnt booze aspect that registered almost like leather, but somehow more refined and herbal. Given time, a subtle vanilla came in underneath everything and really tied it all together. I'm testing the cologne concentration, so it was mostly faded by the time the vanilla came in, but I'd imagine that the extrait must be pretty amazing, allowing these basenotes to really sing.
So, in the end, I quite enjoyed vintage Habanita. I'm still not sure what element of what I smelled was supposed to be the tobacco note, and I don't quite get the vetiver either (most reviews describe it as a vanilla/vetiver/tobacco mix), but a smoky boozy herbal vanilla amber is a beautiful thing. If you like traditional "oriental" scents like Coromandel and you're willing to sit through about 15 minutes of mildly frightening topnotes, you should really give vintage Habanita a try. Anyone tried the current formulation? What's the difference?
I only really know it's VI because that's what the sample says on it...
Because my SOTD was a cologne that faded by the mid-afternoon, I had ample time to do another test today. So, I'm wearing the new Jo Malone English Pear & Freesia.
To be honest, I expected this to be just awful. Pear as a note fades within minutes (those pear-scented molecules are apparently notoriously tiny and evaporate almost instantly upon contact with warm skin) and I honestly figures this would be just another stupid fruity floral. Well, it actually wasn't stupid, but it still wasn't great, either.
They actually made the pear a bit more intelligent by pairing it with those aldehydes that smell like champagne. The result reminded me of that Martinelli's Sparkling Apple Cider - the stuff they sell in a champagne bottle - but made with pear juice instead of apple. There was a pinch of rose hidden in the background, but the main floral note was kind of a white floral (which I'm assuming was freesia, a note I'm not familiar with) which was simultaneously soapy and kind of inexplicably dirty. While this was far from being truly challenging, the end result was much more interesting than I expected.
Then, it just sort of died. The notes promise a base of "amber, patchouli, and woods", but there was no discernible base there to my nose. It's almost like it's only the top half of a fragrance. I guess that's the point of these layering scents - they're designed to be incomplete. But I found it frustrating. If this had dried down to a Chanel-esque vanilla sandalwood, I would have considered a purchase (the pear champagne topnotes actually quite appealed to me). As is, it might be fun for a little repeat-application splash scent, but don't expect anything grand.
ad Habanita )
To me this is almost a group of fragrances playing with the same main accord. I have Habanita vintage and current EdT as well as the current Parfum. Enslaved by Roja Dove is joining in here.
I have to say that I am not a big fan of the vintage Habanita (for the reason you mentioned) and much prefer Enslaved (in particular the Parfum) over Habanita Parfum. Enslaved comes accross as slightly 'warmer', whereas Habanita Parfum has a 'greener' touch (galbanum) and is more 'leathery' to the feel. I'd go with Habanita current EdT and Enslaved Parfum (with its rich ambergris base... to die for).
I sampled Bvlgari Man at Macy's Saturday the 25th of September.....I sprayed 3 sprays on my arm.....nothing.....this is not interesting at all.....I kept waiting and waiting and waiting.....nothing.....This has to be one of the most boring fragrances that I have ever sampled.....The bottle is very nice.....The fragrance is average at best.....Gary
Today, thanks to another generous BNer at the SF Meet-Up, I’m test-wearing Serge Lutens Mandarine Mandarin.
This one’s interesting. It kicked off, not surprisingly, with mandarin. But it was paired with a mix of notes I really couldn’t place. It was a lot like tobacco leaf, but much more rich. If you can imagine the smell of brown paper towels, but made so rich that they border on suede or bread, that‘s close, but the end result is more pleasant than I’m making it sound.
Given time, the mandarin faded to a smell reminiscent of dried apricots, which combined with some sort of effusive aldehydes to dominate the sillage while the smell on skin continued to be the rich, almost bready tobacco leaf.
Eventually, a subtle patchouli emerged from underneath the tobacco, while gaiac wood (which often smells to me like vanilla sandalwood mixed with orange) cleverly continued the fruit theme while giving the base a rich, creamy texture.
In all, if you’re looking for a bright, fresh citrus, Mandarine Mandarin certainly isn’t it. But, if you’re looking for a rich Lutens composition, complete with the expected twists and turns, which just happens to incorporate citrus, you’ll likely enjoy this.
Also, thanks for the Habanita rundown, Larimar.
I knew in theory that the Roja Dove was based on a vintage scent, but I didn't know it was this one.
It's on the test list now...
Today, against the best advice of many here, I’m wearing the Amouage everyone loves to hate, Reflection Man.
Honestly, I can see how many people find the so unappealing, but at least it’s interesting.
The primary note that I got for most of the day from Reflection Man was that weird tobacco/papery musk that I find a bit disturbing. Not to get graphic, but it reminds me of the smell of cheesy man-parts. If you’ve smelled Ava Luxe Vamp, it’s the main note in that (actually, Ava Luxe seems to like this note – it’s in Love’s True Blueish Light, too). It’s especially rich in the Amouage, paired with some cinnamon and nutmeg, which actually does take away a lot of the gross connotations it has for me in the Ava Luxes.
Paired with this cinnamon papery musk, for whatever reason, are aquatic notes. In the top, calone is pretty prevalent. In a bizarre way, it reminded me of A&F Fierce, the smell they pipe through the malls. Fierce has that weird dirty quality that’s simultaneously aquatic, herbal, and filthy. Reflection Man does this, too, but in a different way.
Given time, a pinch of that metallic “woody amber” note came in. To my nose, the mix of calone and woody amber smells like Windex, and I really don’t like it, though it’s a very common trick in “fresh” masculine designer scents. So, there was a point in Reflection Man that smelled like papery man-cheese mixed with cinnamon and Windex.
Thankfully, the papery musk faded as a decent creamy iris note made its way in, which would have been excellent with the cinnamon, except for the fact that the Windex note took a while to die off. By late in the afternoon, most of the unpleasantness had faded, and I was left with a nice Chanel-esque creamy vanilla/sandalwood/orris base, which managed to be the only part of Reflection Man that smelled like something that costs this much.
To be fair, Reflection Man did manage to keep my interest all day, but I just can’t imagine anyone wanting to smell like this. The weird interplay between expensive notes and really common, cheap-smelling ingredients was done awkwardly. I think they were using that papery musk to try to tie the aquatic notes to the expensive-smelling base, but I think it’s questionable whether it worked – Really, it took a few solid hours before this really felt like a cohesive scent.
So who should try this? I really don’t know. Vamp and Love’s True Bluish Light both have avid followings here. If you think you’d like them layered with Fierce, you may just love Reflection Man. If not, don’t bother…
Thanks for the review of Reflection Rogalal.
I've had it go funky on me and behave in ways similar to your experience, and other times (most times) I have it behave entirely differently, with a wonderful greenish/camphor/rosemary opening, a beautiful neroli note in the heart (similar to the rendition of neroli/amber that is in Kurkdjian's APOM Homme), and a jasmine/vanilla/sandalwood drydown.
It's interesting that you mention calone. I don't get calone but there is definitely something that registers as very fresh, although not at all melony.
If you ever have time and any inclination whatsoever I'd suggest sampling it one more time. I know that with myself and mtgprox, and perhaps others, this scent can behave radically differently on separate wearings. I also think that there are some notes that people are anosmic to, given the extremely disparate reviews that this scent has generated. I actually think a temporary anosmia or at least hyposmia is what causes Reflection to smell oddly on me at times.. or maybe it's just developing differently due to small changes in skin chemistry?
Also, have you tested Secretions Magnifiques? I think there is a common musk in the two... the part you are reading as "man cheese." Sometimes this note shows its head for me in Reflection (ugh!), but usually it is either not present or develops in such a way as to read as something entirely different.
This seems to be truly a love or hate scent!
Interesting... I really like the idea of a spicy neroli. It's ridiculously hot today, so that may be messing with my Reflection experience. As for the aquatic element, it struck me as calone (not melon), but more herbal and a bit fruity. Maybe that fruity element was the neroli...
I almost think the fruity element is either part of the 'pepper berry' accord (what does a pepper berry smell like? Also.. fragrantica lists the note as pimento (allspice).. and that seems to fit, too, especially as a number of people pick up nutmeg/cardamom/cinnamon influences and there's little explanation for that from any of the other listed notes). My second guess is that it is a specific type of orris that has a raspberry like note to it. I was once gifted a sample of a very fine orris absolute from another DIY perfumer and it was the best orris I had ever smelled.. delicious raspberries amidst a wispy, misty, silvery more traditional orris backdrop. Not at all woody or thick or suede-like - this stuff was extremely ethereal. I do think a similar orris is present here as I don't get the chalky aspects of some orris notes, like those used in Infusion d'Homme. Orris that is high in irones (which are responsible for the berry and violet like notes) are known to cause headaches and people often quickly become fatigued to them, so this could be responsible as well for the multitude of reactions to this scent.
I am prone to think it is my nose more than my skin that is causing my different readings as testing on paper does not always yield consistent results for me, either. Another very weird phenomenon with this scent that has only happened very rarely with a select few other scents is that if I smell certain chemicals and then come back to smell Reflection, it immediately smells radically different. I think a few of the lemony/waxy aldehydes do this, as if I smell Jubilation 25 and then Reflection.. well, something is blocked and missing in Reflection and it feels very very flat and plasticky, far worse than say, Rive Gauche PH or Body Kouros's kind of flat/waxy/plastic textures.
This is a difficult scent with a multitude of facets and I still don't fully understand it, even after 50+ wears in the last year. It can be a really horrifying scent when it turns (not too long ago I got the windexy note, a bit of the Secretions Magnifique wet dog note, and a scratchy wood note...eek!), but when it all comes together, it is one of the most beautiful scents I've ever smelled. Almost too beautiful to be considered a masculine (I can definitely understand those who find it too feminine and would not feel comfortable wearing it! I don't actually think it is feminine, but just uber-lush and rich in a way that very very few scents for men are).
I've got some on paper right now and it must be a good day as it smells just right. A camphory opening that had a few moments of fruit, then a faint petitgrain note and a hint of evergreens (the rosemary?) behind a strong iris note that has just a hint of ylang ylang to thicken it up. The evergreen/iris pairing is not that uncommon (we see it in L'Homme de Coeur, for instance, where the orris is paired with juniper and cypress, and also in Iris Pallida amonst others), but it's a bit different here as the emphasis is far more on the iris than the woods, again pushing it into the realm of the lush. It's not until about an hour in that the neroli really takes center stage.
I wish I could say something as simple as "Oh, the scent only behaves in cool weather" but I've not found any one factor like that that I can point to. As long as it behaves on me the majority of the time I'm happy with it.. its slight change from wearing to wearing revealing new and different facets is interesting and keeps me intrigued. Should it ever start to behave like it did on you, and how it has on me, for the majority of the time, I'll sadly have to say goodbye to one of my favorite scents!
OK, I had to break out the Reflection Man vial again...
On paper this time, I can totally smell the neroli, right from the top. I still think it's paired with calone, though. That cinnamon/pepper smell is there again, and that papery musk is still a featured player to my nose. That being said, I'm really sensitive to elements that I think are gross. Civet and even upfront tonka hit me like a ton of bricks, while others barely notice them, so my nose could be exaggerating it, but I still swear I smell something sperm-ish in there. It all comes together into something very rich and thick - it really does have that luxury concentration thing going on. That being said, I still don't think I actually like it. More for you then! (along with my apologies for calling something you enjoy "sperm-ish"... Don't worry, some of my best friends are sperm-ish... )
Like I said, I get some similarity between Reflection and Secretions Magnifiques, so.. no, it doesn't surprise me to hear that at all. Maybe Reflection Man is more virile than I thought!
I wonder if it's just some kind of human-smelling musk or something, or if its an effect of one or more of the flowers (or both?). My initial thoughts are that it might be the ylang ylang to blame.
I also think the papery note may be a combination of sandalwood and iris. I know I've used such a combination in my own blends to get a sort of papyrus/paper note. Balanced right, the iris smooths out the sandalwood just enough so that it doesn't smell ostensibly woody, but instead both drier and smoother, ie papery.