Perfume Reviews

Reviews by gimmegreen

Total Reviews: 1201

Acqua di Colonia by Lorenzo Villoresi

Classic cologne with zesty lemon and lime, complemented by neroli and petitgrain and backed by sympathetic herbal notes of sage, lavender and rosemary – it’s a recipe that can’t go wrong for a summer refresher. The mould was created way back with the original 4711 cologne and the family is pretty tightly knit with minor genetic variation. It’s familiar and pleasing and if the citruses are done right – as they are here – then just the thing for hot weather (until one gets bored with it). Villoresi’s offering seems to have a high dose of naturals, so the dreaded screechiness associated with citrus-heavy perfumes is avoided. However, I do wish there had been some departure from the template, however slight – maybe a touch of rose or mint or pepper or even banana – to make it a bit more distinctive.
08th August, 2020

Noir de Noir by Tom Ford

If Tom Ford’s name-making ‘noir’ perfume Black Orchid was Cleopatra’s catacomb – dense like unguent and full of fusty intrigue – this take is much easier, an ad person’s dream version. The chocolate-rose pairing at its heart is the stuff of Valentine’s Day sentiment, easily understood, a bit gauche with a kind of herd-following sincerity about it. Underlaid with creamy vanilla and darker patchouli, it takes a selection of good things and packs them in its box rather well. What Noir de Noir lacks in terms of the nocturnal mysteriousness its name suggests, it attempts to make up with a sense of hospitality bordering on a feeder tendency.
For me the best is saved for last, when in the deep drydown NdN becomes more of a woody rose. But there are enough decent variations on that theme around at somewhat friendlier prices.
08th August, 2020

Wicked Good by Gallagher Fragrances

Stripped-to-the-essence gourmand of just milk chocolate, vanilla and tonka, but the last two presented as their truest selves, deep, dark and full of as much olfactory as gustatory allure. This perfume doesn’t feel foodie at all – it says instead: ‘Here are aromas that just so happen to flavour some foods we like.’ Indeed, no-one chews on a vanilla pod or tonka bean.
The chocolate is pretty much the top note; after it fades, it is all about the interplay of close, thick, slightly boozy tones of the pure vanilla and tonka – which somehow evoke impressions of sarcophagi, boot polish and matured tobacco rather than sweet treats. It has the cured and dehydrated properties of these familiar but often debased ingredients – debased because the flavourings derived from them or bearing their names are frequently at quite a remove from how they actually smell.
Whether this dark, monastic perfume is your idea of ‘wicked good’ will depend on your tastes; if you like the authenticity of vanilla and tonka without the usual shovel-of-sugar accompaniment, then this could be just the thing. Personally, I found that, after the settle, my nose interpreted this as the base upon which a lovely perfume could be created rather than the thing itself. So definitely good for layering, if you are of that persuasion.

08th August, 2020
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Douleur! by Bogue Profumo

Everything points to Douleur! being too clever by half – from the misleading name (who wants to wear a perfume supposedly evoking pain and distress? Ok it was done in collaboration with a tattoo artist and bondage aficionado, but still..) to the stretching of contemporary genre expectations (pushing once-novel designer aquatic-metallic notes to the fore). I get it – this is Gardoni overturning his box of toys, delighting in synthetics, blowing a raspberry at the classicism of MAAI, telling MEM to lighten up. It’s a different mood, more flippant and fidgety but, surprisingly, compositionally still strong.
The trick to enjoying Douleur! (and there will be many who will find little to enjoy no matter how objectively they approach it) is to not sniff it up close. A spray to the back of the hand brought up to the nose will disappoint – smelling at first like a thrown-together wash of aquatic and metallic synthetics before settling into seaweed. But spritz it about the person and what emerges is a cool, ozonic mint and pale pink rose combo, Barbie happily riding a can of hairspray into outer space. It’s tongue-in-cheek and playful, a bit ‘Tocade: the kindergarten years’. I loved the flatlining pale mint – a Scandi interior designer’s orgasm – that runs through it and how surprisingly well it pairs with rose, at times coaxing it into wearing magnolia drag. Fresh and frisky fun, but I find little in it to justify the elevated price tag.
02nd August, 2020 (last edited: 11th August, 2020)

Rosé All Daé by Gallagher Fragrances

US artisan perfumer Daniel Gallagher’s journey into making his own apparently started when his wife commented on one of the designer fragrances he was wearing, saying that one of her co-workers wore the same scent. This led him via the usual niche detour to search for something different, resulting in eventually realizing his own visions.
Rosé All Daé is inspired by ‘an exceptionally aromatic Cinsault rosé originating from the Texas High Plains’ and is an unusual and, for this wearer, richly satisfying take on the boozy theme. It avoids all the rum/cognac clichés and goes instead for a kind of rich fruity ferment reminiscent of the trail emanating from the cork of a just-opened bottle of a fine wine. My quibble with this one is that no rosé I’ve ever tried smells remotely like this – the olfactory territory is more like a fine, aged dessert wine, essentially honeyed but with pleasing acidity to enliven the experience.
Gallagher recommends Rosé All Daé as a cool weather fragrance, I suppose because it is so unapologetically sweet. If that is a hurdle for you, I suggest you jump it and try Rosé All Daé anyway because it has so much to recommend it. The main thing that fascinated me it is a sense of all its olfactory sensations being continually on the turn – apple and other fruity notes, both drying in the sun and turning into alcohol, a deep rose and honey combo morphing into a Sélection de Grains Nobles wine, the suggestion of spice being conjured out of the interplay of the notes rather than any obvious dusting, a kaleidoscope of impressions suffused with ambery evening light continually changing in a pleasing interplay. Its closest relative seems to be Tauer’s Une Rose Vermeille – not that the two smell alike apart from a passing fruit and rose association, but because of the sheer skill with which the rich sweetness is handled and the successful union of the playful and the serious in both.
02nd August, 2020

Oudrising by Montale

Quite a few Montale perfumes have obnoxious, agglutinated openings. Oudrising is among them, with blaring ‘fresh’ citrus notes, ultra-sweetened florals and a medley of brash woody aromachemicals swamping olfactory perception. So, the wait begins for what the later stages will bring… but sadly there is not much improvement.
Oudrising relies too much on the rush sensation that many Montale ouds have – a feeling of sniffing something volatile like petrol or glue that seems to shoot right up the nasal passages to attack the frontal lobes. Ok for the face-in-plastic-bag look of people hanging around certain car parks I have known, but less interesting as perfume. It’s a big, bold mess of sharp woody notes given extra zing by all kinds of synthetic cooling and diffusive elements reminiscent of budget lemony air-fresheners. There’s a touch of smoky relief as the wear progresses but not enough for my nose.
And then quite surprisingly it flops to pretty much a skin scent of smoky, peppery wood shavings – that could have been a thing, if not for the precipitous drop in volume.
02nd August, 2020

Impermanence by Christèle Jacquemin

The least wayward of Jacquemin’s debut trio, Impermanence is a green woody, enlivened by the tartness of bergamot and brisk herbal-gingery tones. The woody core of the perfume has a pleasing complexity, ranging from sappy fir to an almost incense-like depth. A well-judged tiny dab of palmarosa sweetness creeps in during the course of the wear, bringing a touch of comfort to the outbound journey of this perfume.
As with the other Jacquemin offerings, Impermanence seems to have a high proportion of naturals in the mix, so may not convince noses accustomed to the touching up and smoothing out offered by well-deployed synthetics. It is an easy wear, nonetheless, especially for deskbound types like me yearning for an escape into nature.
But it’s not quite through-composed, faltering in the late drydown (about 3-4 hours in), becoming skin-hugging, thin and sour, a ghost of its former self. Perhaps in tribute to its name…?
02nd August, 2020

Fougère Bengale by Parfum d'Empire

Addictive armpit fougère. Opens with big meaty pungency like immortelle on steroids before revealing a vista of hay but butched up by moss and dry-as-bones tobacco. Floating though this are fresher notes of lavender, tarragon and mint, staking their claim to the fougère terrain. It’s a rugged, outdoorsy perfume, suggestive of the blazing sun and dried sweat but at the same time cooled and freshened by the fougère strain. A bit reminiscent of Goutal’s Sables but this has less of a point to prove and the rewarding tension between its savoury and airy aspects keeps my nose alert and interested.
02nd August, 2020

Eau Suave by Parfum d'Empire

Well, ping my pong, this is a surprise. A weird three-point opening of a fruity rose doing the attract-repel thing with some green coriander doing the attract-repel thing with a mossy chypric base. I feared these protagonists would snarl-smile at each other through the course but just a few minutes in things began to merge much better – the rose and chypre base became absorbed into an old-fashioned slightly spicy, lipsticky whole and the greener elements vanished. Here is a rose that tries out and discards clashing apparel to stick to the safer formality of something inherited from a beloved aunt. I like the fullness of Eau Suave – it lights up an olfactory spectrum of floral, spicy, musky, chypric tones – but the sum of these elements seems to be a composition that seems both elusive and yet distinctly reminiscent of old cosmetics. It teases me, but in a good way.
02nd August, 2020

Aziyadé by Parfum d'Empire

Aziyade is a two-step bazaar; first the hot-and-bothering spice market reeking of sweaty cumin, growling ginger and cinnamon; then, some welcome respite – one flaps one’s clothing to shake off some of the pungency – as the door to an air-conditioned chamber is opened, a space where boxes of juicy dates and prunes are on display, arrangements of choice pomegranates and the like dazzle under the bright lights and bling of the setting. Then the realization that one can’t stay here the whole day and must venture back through the spice stalls. A tad overwhelming and lusty, like an aphrodisiac potion with unpredictable effects, I’m not sure if Aziyade is a promise or a threat. Grows increasingly funky over the course of the wear as that cumin just ain’t giving up. I think I’ll join the queue of those who admire it from afar but seldom find occasion to wear it.
09th July, 2020

Meandering Soul by Christèle Jacquemin

Intriguing counterpoint of fennel, tobacco and hinoki that reads as an aged, somewhat salty leather. It’s a dry composition, with, I’d guess, a high dose of naturals – at least that’s how my nose perceives it. The gourmand caramel accent is the oddity here, a poor fit with the rest to begin with until it dies back enough to sit more comfortably. The fennel is the note that remains distinct throughout and I’m not particularly enamoured of its astringency, particularly when the floral sweetness promised by the declared notes fails to come across on skin. Nonetheless, the elements at play here are well-balanced, even if they are not really my bag.

09th July, 2020

Underworld by Christèle Jacquemin

Underworld is photographer-perfumer Cristèle Jacquemin’s vision of a cave suffused with light – an underworld that bears the brightness of the surface. It’s an intriguing creation where the notes matter less than the overall effect, which is novel, jolie-laide and compelling. To my nose Underworld registers like a marine perfume like no other – a scent that seems a combination of sea spray, ozone, minerals, lichen, which is then balanced by warmer elements like resins and pepper. But they all seem to shade into that sea-side continuum, where even the prospect of a medicinal, iodine oud seems lapped by waves. In many ways, this is less Underworld than Otherworld, although the drydown will not be too unfamiliar to niche habitués: a beachside vetiver with an echo of Breath of God. One for those seeking paths less trodden.
09th July, 2020

Aube Pashmina by Huitième Art

Zesty opening of citrus, tomato leaf and other green herbals creates a welcome feeling of being launched into the breeze. It’s difficult to do these kinds of perfumes without giving an impression of shower gels of the bracing variety and Aube Pashmina half escapes that fate. Shares some similarity to Eau de Campagne, but whereas that perfume is drier, with a weedy undergrowth (my preference), Aube Pashmina bulks up on sweet geranium to round off the composition.
27th June, 2020
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Oud Stars : Alexandria III by Xerjoff

Another overburdened Alexandria turn from Xerjoff with many of the same protagonists as in Alexandria II – here the poor donkey rose is so laden with resins and spice that it’s legs are bowed and beginning to buckle. But, hark, here comes a camphoraceous lavender to the rescue on its turbo scooter of diffusive clean musks. So if the opening was world-weary and unwashed, the evolution freshens things up a bit. The oud accord is intensely dry and peppery and the overall mix is somewhat more successful than in Alexandria II: less day-glo, a tad less slopped in syrup, though I still find they could have gone a bit easier on the cinnamon. Big show-off stuff, but by that very token it needs to work harder to impress.
27th June, 2020

Love Mimosa by Amouage

Aquatic mimosa – and there’s the problem. Why take this optimistic scent of spring and submerge it in a swimming pool? Those less bothered by such things, may appreciate more the heady mix of mimosa, buddleia and ylang at the heart stage of this perfume. For me there was just a tad too much distracting chemical prickle. For a while it turned into abstract mush, like something one might smell a kilometer downwind from a shampoo warehouse, before doing a final turnaround hours later and revealing where it had been heading all the while – towards a true, soft yet persistent, powdery but not overly so, fluffy mimosa. I found this too long to wait, other may enjoy the ride getting there.
27th June, 2020

Patchouli Leaves by Montale

Rampant promiscuity seemed like the only attractive feature of hippiedom for me (of course they preferred to call it ‘free love’). The flares, the music, the flowers in the hair passed me by; peace, yes, well I wouldn’t quarrel with peace. But the ultimate repellent seemed to be the hippie juice – patchouli oil – which seemed standard issue; I couldn’t imagine getting up close and tumescent with anyone reeking of the stuff.
Over the years my attitude to patchouli has matured a bit. I realize that its full throttle expressiveness can take the wearer on a journey, that its intensity has rewards, helping draw together sensation and emotion into a palpable rush. But it is a scent I still always approach with caution and could never think of wearing every day; I need to be in a frame of mind capable of channelling its power.
All that throat-clearing is just to say that one needs that receptivity to love Montale’s Patchouli Leaves. It’s a one-spray perfume presenting a huge but properly rounded patchouli realization – the narcotic main event ringed first with enticing humid soil and phenolic accents and then gathering up a creamy, dark chocolate layer before yeasty vanilla and a rich amber base finish the experience. All the time it stays true to its dominating ingredient – patchouli – nothing in the composition deviates from it. This singlemindedness has won it many fans. I won’t argue with them, but my own preference is for something a bit more characterful, a point of imbalance even, say the Lethe-like darkness and density of Goutal’s Mon Parfum Cherie Par Camille, the booziness of Patchouli Antique or the smoke-and-wood luxuriousness of my current patchouli fave, Meo Fusciuni’s Narcotico.
27th June, 2020

J'ai Fait un Rêve Clair / J'ai Fait un Rêve Elle by Majda Bekkali

White floral with the associations of heat and stupor removed, carried on a cool spring breeze instead. Led by orange blossom and jasmine, backed by a diffusive clean musk (but with a touch of something that has the skin-like quality of ambrette), with all the butcher elements held firmly in check – the spice, resins and leather accents in the declared notes are barely perceptible – the overall feel of this perfume is relaxed, the contemplation of sunshine from a shaded spot. Nothing thrillingly original here, the delicacy of expression is the main attraction. This is difficult to maintain over the course of the wear and the late drydown is a slump into the average with just a simple orange blossom and musk scent remaining.

12th June, 2020

Equistrius by Parfum d'Empire

Its seems pernickety to draw attention to the paleness of an iris-violet perfume – isn’t that the default mode? But it’s that cool, listless, take-me-or-leave-me manner that means I can like Equistrius but not go much beyond such moderate affirmation. It’s difficult to be ravished by something so water colour and marshmallowy. One cannot expect definition from iris or violet, and here that tendency towards a dozy blur is only accentuated by fine powders and an expansive ambrette musk. The whole has an affectlessness that resists my every embrace.
12th June, 2020

Red Tobacco by Mancera

Obnoxious opening with aggressive spices (the nutmeg in particular); thick, muddy, resinous tones; a flooding sweetness (not particularly fruity to my nose); the entire thing casting a vast penumbra of paint thinner.
Resolves swiftly and much more successfully into a dense, bass pipe tobacco and vanilla centred main theme, the spices now in check, the paint thinner revealed to be a morphed woody ‘oud’, and the sweetness quite receded. There is a dry fruits richness about the tobacco that is right at home. I can see why some rave about this one, but for me it seems to trigger associations of the assumed seriousness of old boys’ clubs, all back-slapping one-upmanship and blue cigar-smoke haze..
12th June, 2020

Rose de Mai by Perris Monte Carlo

I’m keen on all things rose and chase down soliflores with the enthusiasm of a sniffer dog following a trail. The fantasy is that one day I’ll find a rose perfume that comes close to the light-yet-deep, lively and enlivening aroma of fresh, scented roses. One can but dream.
Perris’s Rose de Mai promises a version of the particularly dewy, green-accented scent of the Grasse rose from which it gets its name. But there’s an active role for geranium in the composition, a perfumery note used to support and bolster the rose – but this is a case of the brassiere worn over the blouse, all a bit too evident. Otherwise the rose materials are decent but not standout – and that’s the problem. Nice enough, but I can’t see why one needs one more rose perfume in this vein.
12th June, 2020

Luce by Meo Fusciuni

Mushroom amber. Not sure how this translates as an evocation of light but it’s an intriguing, if mild-mannered, take. This is amber draped in leather, raw wood, dusky vanilla, papery patchouli, hints of licorice, and it’s a dry, non-sweet composition, that in its totality has some of the otherworldly, rubbed skin smell of mushrooms. Or perhaps the elusive, gently salty musk of ambergris is the intention? Surely a scent to be wafted into reading rooms of old libraries, if they don’t already smell that way.
Less interesting in the drydown, when it turns into a hum reminiscent of some formless orris compositions.
12th June, 2020

L'Oblìo by Meo Fusciuni

L’Oblio is grandma’s restorative tisane – it has that sharpish dried medicinal herbs briskness about it, but ultimately the intention is to soothe. The unusual yerba mate main theme (which here has slight accents of mint and thyme in its odour profile alongside the more general impression of dried leaves and twigs) is supported by subtle and dusky iris and a light woody backing. It’s not particularly complex, has demure sillage and smells more like a naturopath’s tonic lotion than a perfume, so is unlikely to garner many fans. I’m not wild about it either, but I do like it.
29th May, 2020

Indomable by Morph

A slathered-in-syrup oud that will only appeal to those who are not put off by this overindulgent style – and there are many who are irresistibly drawn to it, like ants on the scent trail of a dropped piece of baklava. I used to run the other way, until my nose got a little less uptight about what it thought it liked, and now I’m willing to be turned. This one, I find, would be nice to scratch the occasional sugar craving, not something I’d reach for often. It’s direct – the saturated sweetness is the main event, and it isn’t messed around with by including weird off-notes for ‘interest’. Instead there’s some synthetic oud for greater body and vanilla in pure candy mode (no dark earthy mysteries to dwell on here). To round things off, some sympathetic patchouli and a hint of cloves and almonds. It’s a red velvet job – tacky in a souvenir shop context, but can be made to work in dim lighting.
29th May, 2020

Fleur de Foudre by Pierre Guillaume

Slightly sun-bleached and salty vetiver with a sprinkle of pepper and a tartly fruity top – a bit like green mango. The main point of interest is the spacious feeling created by the aldemone (apparently smelling of wide-open spaces after a rainfall; I’d remove the rainfall bit and just go for that sense of ozonic vista) and other smoothing synthetics. Fans of beachside vetivers like Sel de Vetiver should also check this one out. Linear in the main and a bit thin, but interesting and somewhat unusual nonetheless.
29th May, 2020

500 Years by Etat Libre d'Orange

500 Years is the final instalment for me of ELDO’s ‘Orange Extraordinaire’ trilogy of spiced woody roses and the one I find least tempting. There’s a feint at the start with a brief impression of a mumsy sugarbomb rose in the manner of Oud Satin Mood, but, surprisingly it dissipates swiftly and almost completely, even the sweetness. What follows is a dried rose petals, sawdust and spice combo that, while successfully unified, seems content to go for the middle ground rather than the stars. ELDO’s marketing department takes a rather lofiter view, though, claiming ‘the story of mankind [sic] delivered to you in a perfume’, no less. They’d have done better to go for the desert spice routes clichés more suited for this one.
29th May, 2020

Salute by Parfum d'Empire

Having had the good fortune of visiting many a cave vinicole in the Alsace to sample their delights, I was hoping for that dreamy smell of noble mould, damp corks and aired-for-hours wine that hangs around them. Salute, which is wine-influenced according to its maker, does not deliver on that front for me. Instead it opens with a sprightly, sunshine-filled contrast – a properly yeasty iris thrown into a new light by juicy citric tones and a diffusive musk. The settle is considerably different and equally unusual, now there are faint hints of wine but more in the manner of an open bottle sitting in a room rather than a glass raised to one’s nose (or lips). More in evidence is a doughy, rubbery quality – but not in the usual manner of iris, rather with associations of brioche and cocoa. A hint of the succulent grapefruit flesh that so enlivened the opening lingers as does the sense of an overall sheen and polish, a bit like a high-end cosmetic preparation. And that’s not properly doing it justice either; one really has to smell it to get it. The important thing is that it is endearing, if somewhat understated, balanced and novel – I’ll drink to that.
16th May, 2020

Lost in Heaven by Francesca Bianchi

Lost in Heaven is Francesca Bianchi’s one-two sucker punch – biff, a heat blast of a fully stoked mélange of spices (cinnamon and cumin to the fore), resins and pushy animalic notes; bam, a condensed fug of uber-honeyed florals. This is Nicolaï’s kitchen queen Maharinih slugging it out in the boxing ring of perfume maximialism with some dirty-panties mixed floral of yore. Although the materials used are top-notch, the composition suffers from too many bold personalities trying to claim their space on this crowded dancefloor (and yes, Heaven was a bit like that as I recall, despite the music being utter shite). It falls to the patchouli in the base to plead for unity and it makes some headway in that direction, but the going is bumpy. Finally the florals are pretty much sent into banishment and this becomes one of those hot-under-the-collar, growling spicy orientals that, I find, are best admired from a safe distance.
Assertiveness training in a bottle, should one require such a thing.
16th May, 2020

La Danza delle Libellule by Nobile 1942

If you’re after a creamy, candied vanilla that will hang like the fluffiest of clouds around you, then you should be looking here. It doesn’t harm things at all that there’s a spot-on recreation of a crisp red apple at the start riding on this musked up vanilla. Later on that fruitiness takes on a touch of pears as well. Comforting and not too heavy on the calories, La Danza della Libellule is indulgent without the associated guilt – it’s too bright and optimistic for that. Uncomplicated fairy tale fun for my inner child.
16th May, 2020

Aqua Vitae by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

MFK’s promotional guff for this one claims it is ‘carnal by nature and delicate by essence’. This leads me to expect the perfume equivalent of a pinky lightly brushing a nipple.
But I am greeted instead by light, gently sweetened gusts of lemon and petit-grain and all such thoughts cease – this is much more a wake-up-and-go-to-work fragrance than a ‘delicate’ doodah fiddler. Kurkdjian does these breezy, fluffed-up, cologne-style jobs well; indeed one thinks he could turn them out standing on his head. Everything is shiny and safe and fresh and familiar. A slight metallic sheen to the composition lands it close to numerous designer freshies and in the drydown a faux herbal-woody accord offers further confirmation. On the whole Aqua Vitae is pretty reliant on synthetics and, barring that convincing citrus opening, it shows. Nothing wrong with that had the results stood out from the crowd just a teensy bit.
16th May, 2020

Sucre d'Ebène by Huitième Art

Sucre d’Ebène’s opening is singed by rubbing alcohol but fortunately it fades in seconds. Then, a weak orange blossom sings its quivering little song behind a rain of sugar. The notes may say it’s brown sugar but it has that glassy, almost numb scent profile of the white variety to my nose – a curious perfumer’s trick that has a certain novelty value. As indeed does the slightly fruity (think bananas) shade it seems to throw on the orange blossom for a while. Initially I thought this suffered, as many other PG creations do, from excessive modesty – but that’s not quite true; it leaves a trail in a room and lasts the entire day. Sadly, though, the later stages are dominated by the spun sugar aromachemical that is the basis of so many of these sweet gourmands these days although the orange blossom does get truer.
09th May, 2020