Perfume Reviews

Reviews by gimmegreen

Total Reviews: 1386

Emiro by Moresque

I’ve been put off before by the blingy aesthetic of Moresque (coupled with high pricing, natch), but Emiro is a perfume that shouldn’t be judged by its bottle. An extremely potent rosy oud (yup, we needed more of those) that surprises by the perfect smoothness of its blending. And that blend is the key here – those expecting a realization of a perfect rose will be disappointed as will those after ‘Oud – The Real ThingTM’. The rose here is completely entwined with smoky, dry wood notes and the honey of the other floral notes, whereas the oud while not having the organic, fermenting growl some might expect and possibly an entirely ‘other woods’ and aromachemicals creation, has a lovely lingering back-of-the-nostrils bitterness. It’s rich, sumptuous, grown-up stuff, maxing out on the pleasure points, and thus pretty full-on and borderline vulgar. But the blend and that deep woody bitterness are where the magic resides.
24th July, 2021

17/17 Symphonium by Xerjoff

Terry’s Chocolate Orange was a Christmas staple among my British friends when I lived in England – as much of a thing as brussels sprouts cooked to mush, perhaps with somewhat more takers for it than for the poor maltreated vegetable. Symphonium’s opening is likely to ring them yuletide bells for Brits with its creamy milk chocolate and orange theme. There’s nothing fresh about the citrus, this is the confectionary version. A little glimpse of cardamom adds a touch of interest in a composition sorely lacking in complexity. Still, it’s nice enough until one hits the drydown where it flumps around a gassy musk – initially a queasy juxtaposition with the chocolate-orange and then things continue further downhill as the whole thing gets soapy sweet and loses all definition.
This review is for the 2021 extrait version, which has an asking price of nearly 400 euros for 50 ml. Pull the other one.
24th July, 2021

Pluie Sur Ha Long by Ella K Parfums

Lazy, bleached-out aquatic floral that registers as if one were lounging in a bath of hypoallergenic shampoo and has people who have almost certainly not smelled such things reach for descriptors such as ‘lotus’ and ‘water lily’. Just a calming, soft-focus, quivery floral scent with a few bonus points for not coming across as obviously chemical. Familiar and soothing, but something one would expect from a budget brand rather than the pricy Ella K.
24th July, 2021
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A Drop d’Issey by Issey Miyake

A transparent if somewhat high-pitched lilac backed by an inviting musk, clean and milky, which for some reason brings to mind burying one’s nose in a freshly bathed person’s cleavage. The lilac impression doesn’t entirely hold for the course as first the bright jasmine underpinning it becomes more evident and then the whole transitions to a soapier floral with some bleached cedar shavings. Would be well-suited to inhabitants of Scandi interiors.
22nd July, 2021

Mother Nature's Naughty Daughters by 4160 Tuesdays

They’re tree-huggers these daughters – and, just as well, because otherwise they’re about as naughty as model students. Whereas a sizeable number of fruity floral notes is declared, what the nose actually smells is a lovely, cultivated rosy sweetness with a bit of talc, rubbing up against a well-composed resinous-woody base. Such olfactory frottage really can’t be put in the sin bin, it’s way too wholesome for that – but it doesn’t fall short in giving pleasure. And it doesn’t hurt that from time to time the whole thing seems to evoke some plump and juicy confection that one would love to sink one’s teeth into – before returning to the natural world.
17th July, 2021

Boundless by Amouage

A smartly turned-out resinous offering with an added layer of mystery about it, the scent of the healer’s chamber from a fantasy novel. Karine Vinchon Spehner plays skilfully with dark and light, for while Boundless has an array of deep, rich, bass scent impressions it also has a sense of every ingredient deployed to create them still shining, nothing turning fusty or stale. At heart a sonorous and dry vanilla stripped of cloying sweetness and layered up with resins (including the delicate yet piercing smoke of good quality frankincense), Boundless is at the very least an object lesson in creating an amber that intrigues and doesn’t collapse into a dense splodge. But the real trick up its sleeve is how the resins shade in and out, initially coming across as some secret mix of dried herbs, traces of their green life coming through the soothing blend. By degree, they become starker, more powerful, gaining a spiciness and hints of tobacco that takes Boundless towards more traditional ‘masculine’ perfumes territory. This is the point at which I could have lost all interest but for the surefootedness of the execution and the refusal to go down the sweet route; I didn’t feel like leaving this sorcerer’s chamber. KVS has been responsible for two of my Amouage faves – Memoir Man and Opus III, both perfumes that seemed to carve out their own space. Time and further wears will tell whether Boundless will join them.
17th July, 2021

Bois Datchaï by Maison Crivelli

In the contemporary perfume scene it’s easy to forget sometimes that woody scents don’t have to go down the cymbal clash and bass drum pathways of ‘oud’. Here’s a case in point, faintly reminiscent of that radiant fruity-woody classic Feminité du Bois, but sufficiently different to merit attention on its own strength. Bois Datchai plays off lovely dry and scratchy papyrus and black tea notes against cedar, embellishes with a touch of light incense smoke and subtle spicing, and plumps things out with an organic fruitiness that seems to come from within. It exudes ease, balance and a gentle warmth, and seems just the thing for an autumn reverie.
17th July, 2021

Zeste d'Or by Evody

Whippy little barbershop citrus with lather to spare. Twinkles of cardamom and clean vetiver enrich its foam. Cooling and energizing? Yup. Like about a couple hundred other offerings in a similar vein? Yup to that too.
10th July, 2021

The Great Battle in the Garden by Dear Diary

I’m favourably inclined towards fruity florals as long as they get the fruit and flowers right. But most don’t. The fruit tends to be completely undifferentiated and of the gumdrop variety and the florals consequently turn to syrup. Exceptions, like Tauer’s Une Rose Vermeille, thus become even more precious.
The Great Battle in the Garden fails not just on the mush front but also in its attempt to assay a pale iteration to this traditionally gaudy genre. Light synth versions of peaches and raspberries mingle with cool violet ionones and watery roses at the start, soon turning into an anaemic talcum-powder scent. What really undoes this most minor of skirmishes (calling it a great battle is a bit of cheek) is an odd skin musk, which is the real antagonist here in its refusal to make peace with the mood music of the rest, constantly snapping it’s fingers and calling ‘Here! Here!’.
10th July, 2021

Sigismondo by V Canto

Among oud aficionados there’s often poo-pooing about how a scent profile heavy on fermented tones means that the distiller has got things wrong and oversoaked the wood. Such things rarely bother me; if it catches my nose and attention, that’s what counts.
In Sigismondo, from the ever-prolific Paolo Terenzi’s hand, we encounter a cheese-and-leather oud in a decent state of ferment, but with the added twist of coming across as toasted. This is an effect I’ve not encountered before, and it provides a certain appealing mellowness and intrigue to what is otherwise quite a straightforward oud offering with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top and a tight rein on the sweeter elements. Sigismondo is crafted with restraint and thus may disappoint those who prefer more bombastic ouds. It would have been a job well done if it had stayed the course. But, alas, poor Sigismondo… After about three hours it had become pretty much a skin scent, and the oud at its core had also altered into a more standard dry woods affair.
10th July, 2021

Pyrit Ana Tra by Olivier Durbano

Pyrit Ana Tra is a full-bodied herbal-resinous concoction, like opening a chest packed full of aromatics in brown paper bags, old things mingling with new, the scent potent, warm and intriguing. Earthy tones mingle with woody ones, ripe, sweetish tobacco is rubbed up against the power of cypriol, deepened by bitter linctus greens, the whole almost sliceable. What could easily have been yet another over-dense indie offering turns out to be genuinely intriguing, because, despite the full-spectrum nature of this perfume, there is a sense of proportion and balance, of aspects being set off against each other, which prevents it from turning to sludge. Things that captured my attention: 1) wrapped around its rich, gummy heart is a grounding bitter, smoky woodiness and 2) an accent of licorice that pings against everything else. Not a casual-wear perfume, Pyrti Ana Tra requires a certain receptiveness on the part of the wearer. I wore it on a cold day when the heating was on the blink and it seemed remarkably suited to this circumstance.
I must confess to a decline in interest after about four hours, when, during the convergence of the deep drydown, a perhaps inevitable muddying of the elements at play took place. Still, if resins-prominent perfumes call to you, you should pay Pyrit Ana Tra a visit.
10th July, 2021

Pin des Calanques by N-Cigale

A strange juxtaposition of soft-focus violet and astringent mountain pine that wheels around the wearer like a sorcerer’s swirl. There are all kinds of odd things poking out from it: smudgy lipstick notes, somewhat salty wood powder, temple incense and a hint of coconut – but they’re held aloft in a composition whipped full of air and with musk propulsion. It has a ditsy cheerfulness about it that dispels the initial ‘What the @#%* is this?’ reflex.
In the later stages Pin des Calanques turns into the love child of suntan lotion and medicated soap. Nowhere near greatness, but digressive fun for a while.

10th July, 2021

Megaflower by Hermetica

For this one Hermetica promise ‘a bouquet of sparkling orange flower…, wrapped with ambery elements that add an inviting warmth’. And, up to a point, this is true – this perfume responds on my skin like Imperial Oppoponax the Orange Blossom Edition, if such a thing existed. It has some of the lovely orange-hued amberiness of the Les Néréides creation paired with a supple, clean (if not entirely convincing) orange blossom note. The thing is swiped clean of indoles, and that makes sense in what is essentially a simple, approachable and refreshing composition. At first it comes across as something of a weakling, lacking the penetrative power usually associated with orange blossom, but recovers after half an hour or so. The amber elements seem to fall away in the drydown, leaving a washed, uncomplicated orange blossom scent. Nice, but at Hermetica prices? Not so mega.
10th July, 2021
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Francesca by Mazzolari

Hazy, powdery musk job with a purposeful shapelessness to it – one senses design here rather than yet another violet or heliotrope cloud of mauve. These things are inevitably sweet, but it’s a mellow sweetness, in this instance textured with silken wood powders and something that reads like lemon custard at the top which gradually morphs to confectionary vanilla and woozy heliotrope. Such marshmallow perfumes are meant for comfort and wallowing in, rather than making any dramatic statement. Sadly, this one has a gassy chemical-smelling undertow that becomes increasingly apparent as time goes by.

10th July, 2021

Figue Fresh by N-Cigale

The start:
This wretched fig trades sunbeams for an attempted icy cool but is a chemical mess unworthy of mopping the floor with. Take one unwavering, resolutely mono, green fig accord, combine with mouthwash mint materials and dose with calone for a nausea-inducing experience. Smells like it was made for pennies and put me in a foul mood.
The drydown:
Improves greatly after a few hours to become a straightforward green fig. However it is still nowhere near being a match for the more luminous examples of this genre – a case of not being able to escape its genes.

10th July, 2021

Rose de Pushkar by Ella K Parfums

I’d never tried anything by Ella K before but their aesthetic and some of the note combinations in their offerings were calling out to me, whereas their pricing kept pushing me back with insults. Eventually I succumbed to temptation, got a few samples and was quite tickled by the bright, juicy pink colour of the juice of Rose de Pushkar. The vial kept emitting a strong fruity rose scent in the manner of some peonies, but when sprayed on skin it was markedly different – with a rich but quite dry rose backed by patchouli in the mix for sure, but also volleys of warmth from pepper and incense, and a properly assertive cheese-and-leather oud. What Rose de Pushkar does very well is combine bold and punchy notes in a balanced manner, so it evokes some of the pungent vibrancy of the desert locale its name refers to without going overboard. And, curiously, its presence in a room maintains that fruity rose quality that only fringes the wearer’s perception. At first I thought that it’s undoubtedly lovely stuff, but for anyone whose collection is already heavy on the rose-ouds (as mine is), it may not offer enough points of difference. But subsequent wears changed that opinion: for one, the intriguing deployment of spicing in the far distance, a bazaar at the outskirts of perception; for another, an enticing darkness brooding over the entire composition, suggesting pockets waiting to be discovered, adding mystery to the rose. Rose de Pushkar is much more than what first meets the nose.
04th July, 2021

Cielito Lindo by Rasei Fort

An umami gourmand that riffs on the peculiar but enticing sweet-salt pairing and conveys some of the dry warmth of its Mexican desert inspiration. The main theme is a kind of sweaty caramel that immediately bring to mind the bacon-and-maple-syrup scent associations of immortelle (even though it isn’t listed in the notes), with a sprinkle of cinnamon bringing up the flavour quotient even more. The sweet-savoury balance is well-judged – the caramel never turning fudgy, the salty meatiness not degenerating into broth. Not one to appeal to everyone for sure, but if you’re a fan of immortelle this has to go on to your must-try list.
03rd July, 2021

Faïsa by Ramon Monegal

Huge slather of mumsy body lotion, all chamomile and synth-milk, with some woody aromachemicals within trying to bat their way to the surface. Airless, pore-clogging and pretty grim.

03rd July, 2021

Join The Club : K'bridge Club by Xerjoff

K’bridge Club started off as a hoity-toity exclusive for the Knightsbridge Harvey Nichols store, before becoming more widely available. In its sweet rosy saturation it seemed to have its sights set on the blingy moneybags visiting those premises. A love of things brash and declamatory will serve you well when approaching this perfume, as also an appreciation of all things Montale. Because at first you will think that you are smelling a Montale rose – Intense Café in particular, according to the denizens of Fragrantica, but I haven’t smelled that one, so couldn’t say. The family resemblance is there, however, although the execution is some notches above.
Once one has got over such contextual preliminaries, the thing itself is indulgently appealing. Silky, halva-like roses served up on a bed of vanilla and caramel fudge, with a sliver of bitter woods as backdrop to prevent the thing tipping over. Syrupy, yes, but the smoothness of the execution and a lovely cardamom-like freshness, work a charm in preventing things from getting too sticky. One of those miraculous ‘gorge without getting fat’ jobs – who doesn’t want one of those?
03rd July, 2021

Ramdan Night by Jousset Parfums

I’d almost written off Jousset after trying another of their perfumes, which was so disappointing that any memory of what it actually smelled like promptly vanished from my mind. Ramdan Night is much, much better, yet whether it remains in mind is not entirely assured – it comes across as a Montale oud, and there are so many of those that even followers of the house often have trouble separating them.
That said it is a pleasing affair, not marked by any great note distinction, but by an oud construct of satisfying depth and thrust: properly dark, a bit gasoline-soaked, somewhat dusty/powdery, bitter at the back and sweet up front, with enough gradation to keep the nose entertained and interested. It has a pleasing throw and a freshness ringing it, also common to Montale aouds, and an aspect of bracing undifferentiated spice (à la woody colognes marketed to men) to further enliven it. I can imagine myself wearing this without a second thought on one of those indecisive ‘which perfume shall I wear’ days and being a happy bunny. That’s a recommendation I guess – with Montale proviso duly attached.
03rd July, 2021

Pink Saffron by Jousset Parfums

Jousset Parfums has recently joined the fray - a Swiss indie house with a load of waffle in the ‘About us’ section of their website that will leave you none the wiser about who they actually are. The bottles have labels with a cheeky parrot perched on the brand’s logo, the fumes are all supposedly extraits and their first set of releases goes under the family name of ‘La collection blanche’ (noir will follow) all sheltering under the umbrella of ‘Les collections artisanales’. There’s plenty of ‘hand-made’ and ‘artisanal’ shtick about them, coupled with clothing catalogue visuals and a dime-store product design aesthetic. Want to buy a sample from their website – it will set you back nearly 10 euros.
So what of the joos? Well, on the evidence of Pink Saffron, all corners have been cut and plenty of expense spared. This a sub-Dueto rose-oud job with a getaway saffron glimpsed briefly at the top. The rose is more idea than flower, syrup filling in for natural sweetness, and the ‘oud’ is a petrol and ashes affair. This version of the time-worn combo is alright I suppose, but lacks character, and you’ll get far more successful and punchier variations from budget Middle Eastern houses.
03rd July, 2021

Passport Amour by CRA-YON

There was something about CRA-YON’s branding that appealed to me – a kind of no-nonsense visual aesthetic, clean lines, carefully chosen colours (flirting with the mainstream but just a shade off), and a tongue-in-cheek sense of fun. But branding only gets you so far, and so: on to the perfume.
For their idea of a passport to love they went bang in the middle with a rose-oud job; nothing wrong with that, just not terribly original. And the perfume itself is good in a big bagful kind of way rather than in a blinding one. Indeed, it has received much pooh-poohing elsewhere, but I’m inclined to be a bit more kind. The rose here is filled in in a primary crayon red: big, syrupy, a bit of pulpy berry fruit in the mix and an LED sheen of unreality about it. For some reason I’m reminded of impossibly red nail lacquer which tends to scream its artifice and yet entices. The woody backing is subdued, letting the primary red theme develop fully; here is no elbows akimbo ‘oud’, just the sufficient amount of shade for the floodlit and heavily made-up rose. A bit blocky, a bit filled out and unsubtle, I can see why some dislike it, but I enjoyed how comfortable this rose was with its own brassiness.
Oddly, however, for such a pumped-up composition, it shrinks dramatically after about three hours to a skin scent, and the balance of power shifts with the woody base catching up and shushing the rose. Re-spraying gives me the same three-hour run.
01st July, 2021

Meraviglia by Note di Profumum

It’s a bit frustrating when a perfume is doing everything right and yet not quite edging into greatness. I don’t quite know what it is about Meraviglia (a rose-patchouli in the Portrait of a Lady/Mata Hari vein), that holds it back – possibly the lack of any one particular aspect being realized in a stunning manner? The interplay of elements is just fine – the central rose-patchouli motif gets a sheer veil of incense smoke, which it wears comfortably, and there is lively coriander providing the traditional floral-to-woods bridge. The rose in the opening stages has some berry fruit to it and there are flashes of mint that finally resolve into the camphor-aspects of patchouli. All good points on the map if you enjoy woody roses – and yet what Meraviglia misses is the wonder promised by its name.
01st July, 2021

1# Nota di Viaggio - Rites de Passage by Meo Fusciuni

The opening cloud of Rites de Passage is magical – a surge, like a grand chorus, of refreshing citrussy and peppery notes with sweet woods and a high church incense creating a melisma of impressions. One feels lifted, ascending to the heavens in a shaft of light almost. The drydown is less impressive and brings things earthwards, as this settles into an accomplished vetiver-incense pairing, still with sparkling glints of pepper and citrus and a hint of new leather and resins to round off things. Surprisingly well-suited to warmer weather, should one desire something a bit more substantial than cologne-style creations.
21st June, 2021

Impressions de Giverny by Fort and Manlé

These Impressions will be watery and indistinct if you spray discretely, but be a bit wanton, apply liberally and the full pointillist brilliance of this evocation of a Japanese garden in Normandy will come to life. Rasei Fort guides the marriage of light and elusive floral and fruity notes (apple, tulips, yuzu, fig leaves, light pink roses) to an array of much more serious resinous, dry woody and ambergris tones with such a sure hand that it quite catches my breath. ‘Yes, the picture is complete,’ I want to say, ‘not a further dot or dab is needed.’ There’s something effortlessly modern about the ripple of impressions, and yet there is also the elegance, restraint and gravitas of some classic perfumes. If this is how spring in Giverny smells, I want to be there.
An active life of about three hours is on the short side for the moola involved.
21st June, 2021

Ofrésia by Diptyque

Olivia Giacobetti’s Philosykos turned me on to ‘niche’. Used to the usual fare found in shops, I couldn’t at first believe such a wonder of simplicity and singlemindedness, executed as if it were the most natural thing in the world, could be part of the perfume universe. Since then, that pellucid, true-to-nature style has been much imitated and has particularly influenced the fragrances found in bath products.
Ofresia is another foray by Giacobetti into the ‘I am and I’m beautiful’ genre, this time by hitting a clear, almost aquatic freesia note, reminiscent of bunches of the sunny blooms and their striking, cool-yet-powerful scent, a bit like honeyed lemons, greened jasmine, narcissus and thoroughly shook up syringa bushes all in one. It’s striking, accomplished, presented pretty much nude with only a little woodsy backing, yet it doesn’t quite hit the same spot that something like Philosykos did. Whereas that perfume transported one to an island holiday, this goes only as far as the florist’s and bath-time. Perhaps it’s because freesias have been such a desired and popular theme in toiletries of various kinds that the impact is less striking, safer and a touch more familiar.
21st June, 2021

Vie de Château Intense by Nicolaï

A cooled version of high summer, as Vie de Château Intense brings to mind both fresh-cut grasses (including the delicately sweet milk of their stems) and an abundance of hay. This is a château set in an expanse of civilized lawn, the sun-drenched fields in the distance. And perhaps in accordance with château life it demands decorum via a stiff backbone of proper chypric moss and a touch of leather. This is far from nature pell-mell, rather ordered to the dictates of the salon, an essential quality for a green chypre one may say, but uncommon in today’s perfumery landscape.
21st June, 2021

Mixed Emotions by Byredo

Tisane with a little plate of blackcurrant on the side.
The house statement on this one is about how perfume tries to bottle emotion and that this offering is an attempt to mix the familiar with the unfamiliar. I’d say the unfamiliar is winning here for the most part – I don’t think I have smelled anything quite like it. However, that is not necessarily a commendation: if there was one thing this perfume didn’t do for me, it was rouse emotion. Rather it remained at the level of an interesting study in the juxtaposition of notes that don’t usually appear together, stirring curiosity without winning my heart. Mixed Emotions riffs on one big contrasting accord: juicy, sweetened, slightly sweaty and fermented blackcurrant against drier, woody-herbal nuances of mate, tea leaves and even a greenish coffee. This shadier side of the accord is somewhere between an herbalist’s mix and forest-floor-in-high-summer and does strange but not unpleasant things to the fruit. Those worried about the pissy side of blackcurrant needn’t fear; this one isn’t heading for the nearest wall, unzipping its trousers.
One of those perfumes that is bound to get a ‘What is that you’re wearing?’ reaction, I feel. And even though this didn’t quite push my buttons, we need more of those. Leans more towards the blackcurrant in the later stages.

21st June, 2021

Brumes de Khao-Sok by Ella K Parfums

A raw woods and watery lily job that initially intrigues like a flower discovered in a closed cupboard. But when the resinous sonority of the woody notes thins out, there really is little fat left on this poor thing – and I never was a fan of skinny perfumes. A bit too shivery and wanting for my taste.

21st June, 2021

L'Illusiomagiste by Jean-Michel Duriez

There are rumours that Jean-Michel Duriez has ceased trading, although the perfumes seem to be still available on some third-party websites. If it’s true that the house’s straight-to-the-drydown style has not struck a chord with the buying public, that’s a pity, as there are a few beauties in its line-up, with L’illusiomagiste up there at the front.
An impeccably turned-out and clean-cut vetiver, with something of the Guerlain classic about it but without the palace trappings. Less opulent, but what it loses in ornament and deep pile carpeting it gains in softness, approachability and an aerial quality that seems suffused with light. The top-notch vetiver at its heart is not earthbound, with little of the humid soil and tree bark aspects evident, but a sleek, pomaded thing and it is discretely supported by equally smoothly rendered notes of lavender (blue skies), lemon (cooling drink), elemi (head massage at the barber’s) and incense (‘be blessed, my child’), all humming in unison behind it. If wellness weren’t such a load of tosh designed to make those of us who in the live real world feel inadequate, I’d say this comes close to bottling the admirable idea of it.

10th June, 2021 (last edited: 21st July, 2021)