Perfume Reviews

Reviews by freewheelingvagabond

Total Reviews: 401

Addictive Vibration by Initio

If I could summarise this perfume in one word, it would be: "bland".

Honestly I've generally not at all been impressed by Initio after trying half their line. They mostly come across dolled up mainstream-ish perfumes aimed at the nouveau riche crowd. The brand exists in the same space as something like Parfums de Marly. Initio's webpage is rather mysterious, with no brand history or information. Instead, there are some instagrammable photos of models projecting 'allure' and 'seduction'. Not sexy or exciting ....

Since I'm naturally disinclined towards the brand, I tried to focus on any positives I could find: this is a floral-musk, slightly sweetened with abstract honey and vanilla. The orange blossom note is also abstract - everything is a pastel shade here. It is somewhat linear, slightly creamy, and there is a slight progression towards a vanilla dry-down. Sillage is close to skin, and duration is reasonable at over several hours. There is an element of cosy sensuality in the later phases, thanks to the musk-vanilla notes.

Overall Addictive Vibrations isn't bad, but rather middling, and more dull than understated, and eventually very forgettable.

08th September, 2020

London by Roja Dove

While Roja Dove's "London" smells nice, it is basically a variation on the ambergris theme of Ambra Mediterranea (or Ambre Sultan minus the herbs), but at one-third complexity and volume, and at three times the prices.

03rd September, 2020

Acqua di Giò Essenza by Giorgio Armani

This is mostly a brighter, sharper, longer-lasting version of Acqua di Gio with some of the musky notes removed and replaced by woody notes. There is an increased focus on the salty/mineral elements, but at no point does it become something like Acqua di Sale or Sel Marin. In this style, I find Acqua di Gio Profumo to be a much better adaptation of Acqua di Gio.

03rd September, 2020
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24 Gold by ScentStory FZE

I don't find any oud in 24 Gold; it's mostly some vague floral notes of jasmine and ylang-ylang, together with some woody nuances, and everything drowned in a big dollop of sugary, vanillic amber. It smells good, but somewhat simplistic, and I find it to be a 'pick-me-up' that gets boring quite soon. I do find the composition to be of good quality, especially considering the price, and sillage and duration are both quite good. While enjoyable on its own, this could be a good perfume for layering.

03rd September, 2020

07 Tanoke by Odin New York

Tanoke 07 is a sheer peppery green-incense. It starts with citrus notes of orange, which dissipates in minutes to lead to a woody, peppery incense fragrance. It is very linear, lasts several hours and wears with close to moderate projection. There is indeed some cypress-like note in there. While I like Tanoke, I get bored of it on my skin after a while. The woody-incense accord is nice but not the most engaging. Additionally I find it to be a bit too sheer (but it is isn't weak or wearing out fast). I would have preferred it to have just a bit more oomph, maybe with an added dimension or two. Definitely recommended to fans of incense perfumes in the style of Comme des Garçons.

03rd September, 2020

Hyde by Hiram Green

Hyde has a beautiful smoky opening with birch accentuated with lemon and tarry-leathery undercurrents; it's intriguing and also very wearable. Unfortunately the volume, depth and complexity reduces drastically after an hour or so, leading to a very soft base of labdanum and dry vanilla with minimal sweetness. I would have liked Hyde a whole lot more if it were able to sustain its beauty and gravitational pull. The base, while nice, is thin, and a far cry from what went on before, and thus Hyde is eventually disappointing.

Among this style of smoky fragrances are Tyrannosaurus Rex, Le Labo Patchouli and Bois d'Ascese. All of those have much more sustained developments and do not thin out after one or two hours.

03rd September, 2020

Narciso Rodriguez for Him Bleu Noir by Narciso Rodriguez

Narciso Rodriguez for Him Bleu Noir EdT (pretty long name!) is basically a play on Declaration and Declaration Essence. The cumin is dialed down, and there's a musk note to align it with the aesthetics of the others in the line. It is a bit more polished, refined and modern relative to something like Declaration Essence, but also much less distinctive as it loses what made those Cartier perfumes interesting. Additionally it just wears too close to skin without much development.

22nd July, 2020

Narciso Rodriguez for Him by Narciso Rodriguez

I understand that this was quite novel when released, and remains distinctive. I don't find any fantasy accord here, and the listed notes are pretty accurate. The whole Narciso Rodriguez parfums aesthetic is a play on musk, and this one is primarily a sweet musk together with notes of violet leaf, on a base of patchouli (somewhat metallic) and amber. It smells nice, but sits a bit too close to skin, though is reasonably long-lasting. One could even think of it as a modern interpretation of Grey Flannel. Unfortunately it's a bit too sharp/synthetic, which is exaggerated if applied a bit liberally due to said projection issues. It got nearly cloying, at which point I decided to part with it. Nonetheless, definitely worth checking out.

22nd July, 2020

Vetiverissimo by Fzotic

This is vetiver with some pepper, and some other mildly spicy undertones, but still a conventional vetiver throughout. In fact it smells quite close to what a concentrated version of Guerlain's Vetiver Extreme would smell like if the semi-metallic incense were dramatically toned down while boosting the vetiver component. High quality, good duration and (surprisingly) robust sillage on my skin, but eventually there is no compelling reason why one would choose this over more affordable but quality alternatives, or even vetiver essential oils.

28th June, 2020

Join The Club : Marquee by Xerjoff

Inconspicuous fruity-floral, with some fizz on top and somewhat sweet in the base.

16th June, 2020

Blessed Baraka by Initio

Floral notes together with a heavy-handed dose of sweet synthetic woods, together with vanilla. Robust and persistent, but unfortunately no clarity or separation of notes, linear, and without any iota of elegance or refinement, and two to three times as expensive as something similar from Montale or Mancera.

16th June, 2020

Fougère Bengale by Parfum d'Empire

Fougère Bengale is more of a spicy aromatic scent than a bonafide fougere, with a focus on the spicy-herbal elements. At the beginning there is noticeable ginger, with hints of tarragon, cumin, an ethereal touch of mint, and a large dose of hay. There develops a faint sweetness after about thirty minutes, and there's a note of immortelle, but rather restrained. The overall effect is smooth rather than sharp, light rather than rich. I do not get any note of tea, but there is a smokiness in the initial phase which is akin to tea perfumes. The hay-immortelle-spices develop over a few hours into a very soft base of woods, vanilla and tonka, with minimal sweetness. Sillage is restrained and duration is a few hours on skin based on a moderate application.

Fougère Bengale is an interesting work that I personally find to be somewhat underwhelming. It seems to be lacking in personality, and could do with more oomph and dynamism; particularly, the base is rather faint and insubstantial. Anyone after a fougere or a spicy fougere is likely to be disappointed, as it does not really smell like a fougere in the first place, when benchmarked against references (traditional or modern). In fact, I'm reminded of dry, herbal perfumes like Yatagan. Fougère Bengale isn't particularly sweet, especially considering the notes. There is a rugged, rustic appeal to the composition which often shows up in others in the Parfum d'Empire range.

20th April, 2020

Cara by Farmacia SS. Annunziata

Cozy, gourmand-ish amber that is mid-range, mid-pitched and very well-blended. Notes of almond, tonka, vanilla, benzoin and a hint of caramel, with a restrained, abstract sweetness, solid persistence, airy sillage but not overbearing. One could wear this for days in a row and not get bored. Stylistically it reminds of Tonka Imperiale and Spiritueuse Double Vanille (while it's closer in scent profile to the former), but less dense and heavy than either of those, but still adequately robust. A bit classical in tastes.

12th April, 2020
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Golden Chypre by Grossmith

This is a light floral-woods perfume with what smells like a natural palette. The name is misleading to me, as I don't smell any oakmoss or anything that approximates the standard mossy chypre drydown. Interestingly, the notes pyramid does not have any moss either, which perhaps indicates that Golden Chypre is sort of a reinterpretation of a chypre rather than the stuff itself. It starts off rather bright, even summery, with a seamless blend of citrus and mild spices, before moving on to a floral mid phase which quickly develops into a very light base of vague woods and musks. It smells very natural, but there is not a lot of development, and as noted by others it is too meek and quiet, and somewhat underwhelming.

Even as a (very loose) interpretation of chypre, Golden Chypre is underwhelming when one can have stuff like Chypre Palatin, Dryad (which is closer to a classical chypre) or several other vintages. I appreciate the how it smells very natural and pleasant, but given its shortcomings and price tag, I see it rather pointless.

11th April, 2020

Elysium pour Homme Parfum by Roja Dove

Simplistic citrus-woods-musk concoction with very little development. I mostly get an accord of lemon with musk, and it smells dangerously close to something like Versace pour Homme, Versace Man Eau Fraiche or Allure Homme Sport. The quality seems to be on par with those as well. It sits very close to skin, and lasts about a couple of hours. Considering the price and the pomp, this is a certified failure.

30th March, 2020

Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior

I've had bottles of Eau Sauvage - both the current version and the vintage, and they are both wonderful. I do notice the lack of oakmoss in the current version, but it's not that different. This perfume was never an oakmoss bomb that had to suffer an unfortunate reformulation. In all its versions, I find it an incredibly refined fresh/green fragrance, with hints of lemon, lime, basil, hints of florals and faint whispers of woody-mossy notes all culminating into an accord of breathtaking beauty and immaculate sophistication. It is notoriously weak, especially faint rather than short-lived (it does last a few hours as a skin scent with a liberal application), but this is a perfume where it's all about quality over quantity.

29th March, 2020

Red Tobacco by Mancera

Red Tobacco?

More like a fuzzy, persistent blob of brown sugar.

18th March, 2020

Vetiver Extrême by Guerlain

This is essentially Guerlain's Vetiver, with the tobacco notes removed and a flinty, fresh-mineral light note of incense added. The base is mostly that metallic incense, which isn't among the better incense accords I've tried. The opening and mid-phases are quite nice, when the vetiver and other green notes are still perceptible, with the incense in the background. Sillage was close but consistent on my skin, and duration was reasonable at over five hours; in fact, it is stronger and lasts longer than the original (which is too faint, at least in its current formulation).

Vetiver Extreme is more of an incense than a vetiver; and, there are better vetivers, or incense fragrances out there, not to mention vetiver+incense combos such as Timbuktu or Dzongkha. Vetiver Extreme is perhaps worth a try for anyone looking for a simpler, straightforward vetiver and incense perfume, and doesn't have high expectations.

30th January, 2020

Green Irish Tweed by Creed

Note: Review is of the current version.

Green Irish Tweed has been debated, discussed and reviewed to death, so I'd just state the essentials -

• It's different from Cool Water (current, or vintage), so let's get that out of the way. It is closer to Aspen (Coty) than Cool Water.

• It's definitely changed over the years. It used to be a beautiful fresh-green fragrance with notes of iris and violet, together with grassy, green notes that persisted throughout, over a warm-musky base of ambergris that was sharp, and held everything together in place. That's how it used to be till about 2015. I've had several samples and bottles since 2016, and it has changed for the worse. The notes are still there, but the top-fresh notes collapse quickly to give way to a flat iris note, the violet note seems to have disappeared, and the base is musky ambergris but without the sharpness, and it just feels muddled, as if the original took a good beating in a round of boxing. I thought I had received a sample that had lost the top notes, but I did not have any doubts once I purchased two retail bottles from different places across different years, and found the perfume to be consistently underwhelming in the way described.

• I loved the earlier version, even more so in slightly cooler weather, when the freshness cut throughout and stood out. Now, it's not that good anymore. I would suggest one to refrain from trying to chase down any 'holy grail batch': it's 2020, and one would do well to sample around.

That's all, in a nutshell.

21st January, 2020

Hommage à L'Homme Voyageur by Lalique

Hommage a L'Homme Voyageur is a smart contemporary fragrance, with lots of green notes in the form of patchouli, papyrus, vetiver, with some vague/fleeting bergamot, hints of cardamom, and a cosy, slightly warm dry-down. Patchouli is the star here, together with vetiver. It appears a bit dark, but soon mellows out during the mid-phase; a hint of smoke in the first couple of hours. The base patchouli and vetiver, plus some soft, warm vanilla-amber in the far background. The overall style is dry, woody.

This is an interesting modern take on patchouli, and reminds me a bit of darker vetivers such as Private Label by Jovoy. I find it to be moderately long-lasting but sitting a bit too close to skin, as with most Lalique stuff. It could have been a bit more distinctive, but there's much to appreciate here (especially, considering the competition), and it could work as a work scent. Definitely not for those who can't get along with patchouli, or vetiver.

19th January, 2020

Zdravetz by Bruno Fazzolari

Zdravetz comes across as a very watery-transparent geranium/rose with something that hints at green notes; no discernible leather or suede. Unfortunately it smells dangerously close to scented products (shampoo or dishwashing liquid). One positive aspect is that this doesn't seem to turn sour on my skin. Vanilla is listed but I don't get any, and this isn't sweet. Not much personality here, and not sure why anyone would get this instead of dozens of other fresh florals at one-tenth the price. Perhaps Fazzolari's weakest offering (and I've tried them all except Unsettled and Feu Secret).

02nd January, 2020

Dries Van Noten par Frederic Malle by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

An adult gourmand-woody, with the emphasis on the sweet wood notes. There is a definite confectionary aspect due to ethyl maltose, but it is a little abstract and gradually subsides. The woody notes are an amalgamation of sandalwood (not Mysore), guaiac wood, patchouli fused together with vanilla. There is a creamy (but not Mysore sandalwood creamy), milky aspect that's persistent throughout. Opening note of saffron with touches of other indiscernible spices provide an interesting counterpoint to the ethyl maltose, and the woods/vanilla accord that develops later. There is a bit of development in the first one or two hours, and thereafter it is linear, with an accord of sandalwood, guaiac wood and vanilla. This dry-down is warm, cosy and comforting. It is reasonably diffusive on skin with adequate sillage, and excellent duration at over eight hours. I find the dry-down to be a tad unexciting at times, which more of a reflection of my personal taste. It reminds me of Jeux de Peau and Petits Papiers in passing, and the sweet gourmand aspects in Music for a While released later are vaguely similar. Fans of Angel / Angel Men might also find much to love here. A very refined essay on the gourmand-woods genre (with the focus eventually on the woods) that doesn't push boundaries, but the quality and execution are top notch.

30th December, 2019

Pegasus by Parfums de Marly

Lavender-almond-vanilla, in that order. Considerably similar to Le Male, but three times as expensive, and nowhere near as good as Antico Caruso.

28th December, 2019

Delina by Parfums de Marly

A sugary rose, with hints of lychee, on a musky-vanillic base. The note of rhubarb is in the background. Adequate presence on skin, with reasonable tenacity but overall it is disappointing: sophomoric, dull, too earnest, and unintelligent. This is a perfume for dolls, not women. Perhaps a guy could give it a twist.

28th December, 2019

Prada Amber pour Homme by Prada

Cool-warm and reassuringly suave, Amber pour Homme is a fresh oriental with notes of saffron, myrrh, vanilla, spice and floral notes. Clean, soapy with a touch of powder, Amber drifts in and out of shapes, but always hovers in the space between soapy fougeres à la Sung Homme, and heavier fresh-orientals such as Montblanc's Individuel. It's largely linear, and there's a subtle bitterness that persists throughout to counterbalance the array of fresh-sweet notes. There are some common tones with Narciso for Him, especially the musky facets of Amber, but Narciso is much more musk-focussed, and decidely gloomier.

Prada/Andrier revisited this work later in Amber pour Homme Intense, which is deeper, more tailored, and arguably more refined. Amber pour Homme doesn't reinvent the wheel, but reimagines the classic masculine staples of yesteryears in a contemporary fashion, not without a touch of androgyny.

26th November, 2019

Un Jardin sur le Nil by Hermès

An explosion of summery loveliness; green mangoes, florals, breezy and chic. Quite an abstract composition with a bit of complexity, part synthetic and part as natural as sliced watermelon. The dry-down on my skin veers more towards musk than woods, which is a plus for warm-weather scents. In fact, it blooms quietly in hot weather, with close sillage and admirable persistence for something that seems so brittle. It's similar in vibe to some of the other Les Jardin perfumes, especially Sur Le Toit, but is still utterly unique. A pleasure to wear in summer, and sometimes a burst of joy in the dead of winter.

21st November, 2019

Boss Bottled by Hugo Boss

A somewhat simple-smelling composition, with a fruity-spicy opening, apples with mild cinnamon, on a woodsy vanilla base. Nice, but lacking any depth, direction or development; close sillage and moderate persistence. I'm reminded of Spice and Wood as being in the same ballpark but much better, though horribly overpriced. I'm attributing this partial letdown to what I imagine would have been the budget of Boss, rather than Annick Menardo.

21st November, 2019

New York Intense by Nicolaï

Absurdly good.

It does have oakmoss, but it's blended in finely with everything else, with incredible balance, and the fragrance is more than the sum of its parts. It's complex, subtle, rich without being heavy, and abstract.

In my books, among the best perfumes released in this decade, and surely the best 'masculine'. It's right up there with Patou pour Homme, vintage Heritage, and all the be-alls and end-alls among perfumes.

Absolute perfection; sublime.

14th November, 2019

Vert des Bois by Tom Ford

This is a wonderful perfume, deep-green, resinous, with touch of florals, and ever so slightly sweet-smoky in the dry-down. Full of retro charm, but decidedly contemporary, unisex but perhaps leaning slightly masculine, and adequately tenacious on skin with a lovely sillage. One of my (newer) favourites to wear on cool autumn days, and one of the best 'green' perfumes around.

21st October, 2019

Dzongkha by L'Artisan Parfumeur

This is a perfume that I had to wear more than ten times spaced out over more than a year, to finally understand its appeal. More than notes or accords, I was never sure how it smells and whether it is diffusive and tenacious enough. Dzongkha has an array of notes that hint at interesting combinations on paper, and finally it is indeed more than the sum of its parts.

Dzongkha starts off with a spiced floral accord, subtly fruit; cardamom is dialed back. The composition smoothly evolves into its mid phases which is iris with a hint of tea (note that cardamom is still there), and then the base is mostly iris and incense with hints of a leathery accord with a touch of cypriol. The star is definitely the iris and incense, conjuring up a colour of a dark greyish pink, haunting and alluring in equal parts. Dzongkha is perhaps what a spiced, darkened, slightly butch version of Iris de Nuit would smell like. I think what really works here is the fact that Dzongkha is not aggressive, in-your-face, but elegant and spaced out.

I have come to realise that Dzongkha is quite versatile, with more adequate sillage and duration. It's beguiling and elusive, and one of the better examples of a contemporary twist on the classic French perfumes. This is a rare case where investing time in a perfume is truly worth it, and the dry-down is exquisite, and absolutely worthy of the memory space.

14th September, 2019