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  1. #121
    Basenotes Junkie grayspoole's Avatar
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    Feb 2014

    Default Re: Let's talk about Neil Morris

    Hi all-

    NoCalFragranceReviewer has very generously shared a large cache of Neil Morris samples with me so I am reviving this topic. Read backward to recap the prior discussions as we continue.

    I have 23 samples from the hundred or more perfumes that Neil Morris has created over the 30-odd years of work as an independent perfumer. The first eight are described as the “Signature Collection” on the Neil Morris website.


    A Rose is a Rose
    Amazon Jungle
    Ambra Obscura
    Chasing Autumn
    Dreaming California
    First Snow
    India Cafe
    Midnight at the Crossroads Cafe
    Midnight Flower
    Midnight Tryst
    Only You
    Phantom Rain
    Rose Tattoo
    Vanilla d’ete

    Bavard and Teardrop are on deck to receive the samples next, and it may be possible to add others if the samples hold out. If you own or have tested any of these scents, or if you have any thoughts about the line, please do not hesitate to jump in.

    Here is my first round of testing notes--

    A fresh citrus and herbs scent that projects a rather stereotypically masculine vibe so that it is not something I would personally wear. If that’s your desired effect, however, this would be a pleasing scent on a hot day. The herbal notes are muted and not very distinct, so I do not perceive the stated lavender and “basil blossom” [sic], just a somewhat generic men's cologne/Irish Spring/Mennen feeling, but my nose is not very discriminating when it comes to this genre of scent. Not especially potent or long lasting.

    At first, I get a vivid impression of broiled pineapple slices. Gradually, Afire becomes sweeter and less hesperidic. Initially, its sweetness is dry and somewhat airy, and there’s a very light woody base. The middle phase reminds me of children’s vitamins with their Sweetart candy plus umami, meaty smell. Unfortunately for me, Afire’s late and intensely persistent drydown features that thick, sticky sweet musk or synthetic "patchouli" found in many designer feminine perfumes. I had to learn that this note was to be called "patchouli" because it does not smell like natural patchouli in any way to me. Afire has that "patchouli" perhaps some ethyl maltol too, but I didn’t perceive any of the stated frankincense or vanilla.

    Does what it says on the tin. Clean smells like an expensive bodywash or shampoo, with indefinite floral notes and some white laundry musk. If you don’t want to smell as though you might be daring to wear perfume, Clean would be an excellent choice. I did not get any of the bitter/citrus grapefruit promised in the note list.

    A floral-fruity musk that feels very stereotypically feminine. The well-named Coral reminds me of any number of peachy-hued designer scents that I’ve sniffed at the department stores, as well as the extremely popular BBW Sweet Pea concoction. That said, I have to say that Coral is really very pretty, with a rather fetching and well-wrought balance of citrus, florals, and fruit. The muskiness doesn’t become leaden and cloying, which I find happens in many of the designer fruitchouli drydowns.

    Gotham reminded me very much of Shalimar initially, with opening notes of citrus, oily leather and vanillin. Gotham transitions decisively away from Shalimar in the drydown, eventually becoming a rich and enveloping amber perfume with sweet tobacco. The middle phase offers some beautifully complex narcissus. Gotham evolves in the most satisfying way on the skin, very much like a vintage perfume, and therefore I feel that its ingredients must be of a high standard. (I was bracing for the WAC sledgehammer to hit me in the nose, and it never did.) Gotham is a beautiful composition and very long lasting.

    At the start, Rainflower suggests the smell of an expensive shampoo combined with a cool gust of air from a florist’s refrigerator. Lots of hedione with its watery jasmine feeling, a good lilac note, what I think of as LOTV, and, yes, perhaps, a delicate gardenia (and I love gardenia). If you do not wear florals, you might like this, since there is nothing too sweet, heady, or indolic in this bouquet. Vetiver provides some bitterness and backbone. Rainflower is notable for its longevity, and its white musk drydown remains fresh and clean smelling to the end. Both of these features are uncommon in this type of composition, so Rainflower is worth a test. It reminded me of En Passant, but I like Rainflower better since it does not have the too-vivid cucumber/honeydew note that I find in En Passant.

    More to come (17 more, to be exact). Thanks again to NoCalFragranceReviewer for sharing all of these samples and sparking our discussions.

  2. #122
    Freed from BN Institution

    N.CAL Fragrance Reviewer's Avatar
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    Jul 2011

    Default Re: Let's talk about Neil Morris

    It's my pleasure to have you Grayspoole as well as others to experience some nice offerings from Neil Morris. These fragrances you don't find on the counters in department stores, so it's a nice breath of fresh air. I look forward to reading your thoughts and others, which ones stand out to you. Happy sniffing everyone
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  3. #123

    teardrop's Avatar
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    Sep 2010
    The south of England
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    Default Re: Let's talk about Neil Morris

    Thanks grayspoole for adding your impressions here, l enjoyed reading them. lt's good to see that this thread lives on!
    "What is this secret connection between the soul, and sea, clouds and perfumes? The soul itself appears to be sea, cloud and perfume..." - from Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis.

  4. #124
    Basenotes Junkie grayspoole's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014

    Default Re: Let's talk about Neil Morris

    Hi all-

    Round Two of Testing

    As I’ve noted, there are a LOT of Neil Morris samples in this pass. My notes will be brief, especially since some of these perfumes do not seem to be currently available for sale. I will provide a wrapup and ranking at the end. Neil Morris is such a prolific perfumer that I am trying to figure out if he has a “style” and how best to describe it. But perhaps perfumers do not need to have a style...?

    Storm (2007) (Available on NM website)
    Given its name, Storm opens surprisingly sweet and fruity, then a dry vetiver/petrichor note emerges. The base relies on a husky, heavy aquatic musk. The sweetness persists with a hint of vanilla-scented plastic doll head, which is not my thing.

    Zephyr (2007) (Available on NM website)
    Bright citrus opening evolves into a synthetic orange /vitamin note. I am picking up this gourmand “orange” ingredient in a number of these compositions. Some indistinct floral notes. I did not find the sticky candied quality of Zephyr refreshing.

    Amazon Jungle (Not currently listed on NM website)
    A Zest soap opening, with lots of lime and soapy aldehydes, backed up by a faint smell of fetid undergrowth or animalic musk.

    A Rose is a Rose (2011) (Not currently listed on NM website)
    This opens with a lovely velvety damask rose note, but it turns sharp rather quickly with astringent aldehydes, a synthetic peony note. and the mineral-rich scent of freshly turned soil. I love just about any rose-centered composition, but this one left me rather puzzled--it seemed like a reluctant, ambivalent rose to me.

    Ambra Obscura 2013 (Not currently listed on NM website)
    A very dense, rich amber with a strong immortelle/maple syrup note. This smells very close to Goutal’s Ambre Fetiche (which I own and enjoy wearing) but Ambra Obscura may a little less smoky and a little more skanky.

    Asea 2011 (Not currently listed on NM website)
    I don’t like pungent, cloying aquatics, so this was a pleasant surprise. Fresh citrus and herbal opening that eases down quickly into an airy, powdery citrus cologne.

    Chasing Autumn (2014) (Not currently listed on NM website)
    A thick pall of Liquid Smoke dominates this scent, and one small spray almost made my eyes water. In time, the charred wood smell thins out and I can begin to detect some faint conifer and resinous notes, but it is still mostly smoke on my skin. Not wearable for me. I washed it off after an hour, and I would feel like I had just run out of a burning building.

    Dreaming California (2016) (Not currently listed on NM website)
    Bright opening, with bergamot and a light tangy sweet fruitiness. Luckily, this does not have the candy orange ingredien that I dislike in some other Morris compositions, but the peony/cherry blossom stuff. The base is blond woods and light musk. This feels very much like a designer feminine and reminds me of Coral.

    First Snow n.d. (Not currently listed on NM website)
    Sweet aquatic opening, with a suggestion of petrichor. Develops into an astringent aldehydic scent, accompanied by a sharp Superglue note. Improves greatly as it dries down to a light woody musk, with a hint of greenness.

    India Cafe n.d. (Not currently listed on NM website)
    Aromatic chai spices…cinnamon and cardamon, tea, light nag champa, sandalwood, and frankincense. A transparent incense composition that I found I enjoyed very much.

    Let's see...fifteen to go! If you have experienced any of these scents, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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