Perfume Reviews

Reviews by freewheelingvagabond

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Total Reviews: 434

Monsieur de Givenchy by Givenchy

Note: Review is of the vintage version.

A splendid classic textbook citrus chypre. Very traditional opening of brisk lemon and tart bergamot finely interwoven with lavender, on a dry-down of oakmoss and sandalwood. Elegant, refined, subtle, abstract, and uncomplicated. Wears close to skin with reasonable duration for this style of perfume. Just as good as Chanel pour Monsieur or Eau Sauvage, if not better.

4.5/5
20th July, 2021

Green Lavender Cologne Intense by Art of Shaving

Green Lavender, true to its name, is a rather simple concoction of laveder, tonka, rosemary with hints of cypress. The citrus notes are very subdued and don't stand out. The lavender is sweetish, not medicinal, and the different notes are well-balanced. Green lavender smells good, but is simplistic and a bit one-dimensional. While it does last a few hours, sillage is quite close to skin.

I feel this could have benefited a lot from more depth and complexity, and higher grade materials. In terms of scent profile it's similar to Czech & Speake's Oxford & Cambridge, but falling short in terms of quality. Maybe a good buy if heavily discounted, else it's far more worthwhile to get Oxford & Cambridge for something along these lines.

2.5/5
16th July, 2021

Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca by Guerlain

I have to unfortunately agree with Dane's review here - this is a mint fragrance with a strong synthetic white musk note that's prominent right from the beginning and sustains itself throughout. There are some green notes besides the mint, but it's all about the musk. I like white musk bases, they last on my skin while radiating off it, but this is too sharp and synthetic. I would not have guessed this to be a Guerlain in a blind test. I find Miller Harris' Tea Tonique to be a much more refined fragrance in this vein, with less of the mint. If it's mint you are after, it's worth it to splurge for Menthe Fraiche or even Geranium pour Monsieur.

2/5
13th July, 2021
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Rose Poivrée by The Different Company

Rose Poivrée is a rather bizarre perfume –– a bare-bones dry, woody scent with a hint of rose and an overdose of cumin. I love cumin accords, but in Rose Poivrée it is not very appealing because the whole focus is on the sweaty aspect of cumin, without the warmth, and no other note or accord is there to create any contrast. The rose note fades fast to leave the cumin-woods accord that is pretty much the dry down (the woods smell like a mix of cedar and vetiver).

There isn't anything here to appeal to those who don't like cumin, and rose lovers are likely to be disappointed. I recommend Rose 31 for someone looking for rose+woods+a touch of cumin (note - cumin toned down in recent years), while Declaration d'un Soir is a much more engaging exposition of the rose + dry woods theme minus the cumin.

If you want a perfume that is particularly about the sweaty aspect of cumin –– this is it.

2.5/5
12th July, 2021

Mandarine Glaciale by Atelier Cologne

An extended eau de cologne (as is the case with most from Atelier Cologne), here it is mandarin with a bit of other citrus notes, paired with a very noticeable ginger note. I loved the ginger note in this composition, bringing to mind Dior Homme Sport 2008 (though ginger is even more prominent here). This phase is naturally short lived (about one or two hours), and the dry-down is just a mish-mash of woody notes with a bit of musk, generic and not memorable at all. Adequate sillage and duration, considering the style of composition.

3/5
08th July, 2021

Myths Man by Amouage

An interesting Amouage. The first few hours smell tarry, ashy, smoky, with a bit of leather and some floral nuances in the background. Artistic, unique but perhaps too weird for its own good as a perfume. The dry-down is a wonderful accord of lush floral and soft resins, though it appears after at least three hours. While I love the destination, I am not so sure about the journey.

3/5
08th July, 2021

Maharadjah by Nicolaï

First of all I don't know why Maharadjah seems marketed to women (was it, actually?). It's listed as "for women" on Basenotes and elsewhere.

Maharadjah is a classic masculine spicy oriental, transitioning from minty-peppery lavender laced with cinnamon to a sublime dry-down of patchouli, vanilla and sandalwood. It smells somewhat like a more refined version of Jaipur Homme, which is itself a remarkable perfume. While the opening is a "pleasant" lavender accord, the magic starts to happen approximately ninety minutes after application.

Maharadjah is definitely in vintage Heritage territory in terms of quality, abstraction, complexity, separation of notes, wonderful transitions, and a lush dry-down – rich without being heavy. It is exquisitely crafted, and wears extremely well with a gentlemanly sillage and excellent duration of a work day. You are not going to get such stuff elsewhere – all the quintessential elements of the best Nicolaï and vintage Guerlain masculines are unmistakably present in Maharadjah.

I have no idea why this was discontinued (and when). Every time I smell it I feel sorry for those fans of Heritage or New York Intense who never got to try this.


4.5/5
08th July, 2021

Hermèssence Ambre Narguilé by Hermès

Ambre Narguilé is a reference gourmand amber, exploring the honeyed tobacco theme. There are vague fruity notes, very expertly edited, that brighten the composition. There are light spices, mostly cinnamon. There is some reference to an apple pie, but it's important to note that Ambre Narguilé is abstract as one would expect; it doesn't literally smell like a dessert or a shisha. It is very minimally smoky, quite sweet, and there is a chic elegance about it. Definitely somewhat dressy, more smart casual than casual, and excellent in all seasons with good duration and an enjoyable sillage. Ambre Narguilé wears like a comforting shawl in winter, and warmer weather brings out the tobacco and fruity notes.

Among "amber" perfumes Ambre Narguilé is quite unique. I find some similarities in 'personality' with Ambre 114, but the latter doesn't have the overly gourmand notes in the Hermès. Ambre Narguilé has inspired several later compositions, but hasn't been bettered.

There is an exuberant optimism about this perfume, maybe because of the brightness and sweet notes. I think that makes it popular and well-liked. I appreciate more the moodier perfumes, the ones that have a bit of gloom - either apparent, or beneath the surface. I can't wear Ambre Narguilé for too many days in a row.

4/5
08th July, 2021

Castile by Penhaligon's

Castile has one of the best neroli openings out there - strong, fresh, vivid, supported by petitgrain and soon augmented by orange blossom. It's quite soapy and refreshing. This is essentially a classic neroli eau de cologne recipe, with some synthetic white musks added to make it tenacious. Sillage and duration are adequate considering the style of composition.

Unfortunately I don't quite get along with the base here - mostly white musk plus some vague woody nuances. The base comes across as a bit synthetic, and a notch below the rest of the composition in terms of material quality. It also smells a bit generic and unremarkable, especially after what goes on before. This one would have been great with a better dry down.

3/5
08th July, 2021

Terre d'Hermès Eau Très Fraîche by Hermès

An extremely refined fresh fragrance using the structure of Terre d'Hermes. Eau Tres Fraiche opens with a blast of orange and grapefruit, sharp, uplifting, and invigorating. There's a vague spicy aspect in the background; the citrus notes last about an hour on skin, before transitioning to a very light base of woods, mostly some cedar and vetiver.

There's a definite link to Bigarade Concentree minus the more noticeable cumin in the Malle. Eau Tres Fraiche is less sharp in the base, and more 'hazy', whereas Bigarade Concentree is more angular.

Eau Tres Fraiche has a subdued sillage and moderate duration on skin. Note that this wears more like an eau de cologne - there's no obvious synthetic materials used to amp up performance.

Despite the name or the note listing, this is not at all an aquatic scent, but rather a very nice dry citrus for warmer weather. The dry down is pleasant, but absolutely top marks for the first one hour.


3.5/5
05th July, 2021

Vanille Tonka by Nicolaï

Vanille Tonka is a clean, dry vanilla paired with tonka and a transparent incense note. There are some citrus notes to begin with, as the vanilla soon comes to the fore; it smells like vanilla pods, rather than flavouring. There are some spices to lift the composition, notably black pepper, all deftly blended. The fragrance develops on skin slowly to a base of dry vanilla and nutty-earthy tonka, with that subtle, elusive incense note, and just a hint of smoke. This is certainly not sweet-sugary, but abstract, grown-up and very refined. At times it even feels there's some hidden bitter element in there, balancing out the other notes.

While Nicolaï has some very complex compositions in her portfolio, Vanille Tonka is comparatively simpler, straightforward and very easy to like, but without sacrificing the refinement that one expects from this range. It wears close to skin with a consistent and noticeable sillage, and duration is over several hours. As a mid-pitched composition, I often find myself reaching for it in warmer weather, when it seems more nuanced and blooms quietly on skin. Vanille Tonka is easy to wear, enjoyable, and comforting enough to work as a "pick-me-up" while having enough facets to sustain one's interest over time.


3.5/5
03rd July, 2021

Capucci pour Homme by Roberto Capucci

A lemony chypre; quite bare bones, dry, without any noticeable aromatics (herbal notes), with a base that's rather thin. While conventional and conservative, it's also sort of fusty and musty and not very appealing. Doesn't have the refinement of Eau Sauvage or Monsieur de Givenchy or Chanel pour Monsieur.


2.5/5

Note: Review is based on a vintage splash.
23rd June, 2021

Valentino Uomo Intense by Valentino

Valention Uomo Intense is basically the idea of Dior Homme / Intense plus a note of "black leather", whatever that might be. In terms of scent profile, it's close enough to being a flanker of Dior Homme. While it does smell good, there is also a ubiquitous "Sephora scent" note in there that detracts from it.

This idea was conceptualised in Dior Homme, and also perfected in it (2005 or the 2012 variant) and in the Dior Homme Intense that followed. Valentino Uomo Intense naturally has that great idea, but the execution isn't as suave or refined, though it does have a preppy appeal.

3/5
23rd June, 2021
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Lui by Mazzolari

Mazzolari Lui is a refined essay on patchouli and amber, fused together with a warm, fuzzy note of musk. The musk is slightly animalic at the start where it's most apparent, and grows more subtle over time, though it's always there. There's some added complexity from the citrus and floral notes but those are always in the background, and there is a definite note of smooth leather somewhere in there. The transition is beautiful from the musk-patchouli beginning to the patchouli-amber drydown. Lui has excellent duration of several hours on skin, together with a wonderful silky sillage that's close and persistent.


Lui is more than the sum of its parts: it is interesting how the musk brings out the best in the amber-patchouli accord. There are several patchouli-ambers on the market (Jovoy's Psychedelique or Mazzolari Patchouli being excellent examples), but most of them can get two-dimensional and boring after sometime. While Lui explores the same idea, it is a more interesting and complete composition, as the musk adds a layer of sophistication. The texture and the animalic touch here reminds me of Diptyque's Oud Palao. Lui is warm, enveloping, and wears like a cashmere shawl in cold weather. An excellent choice as a masculine signature scent, and especially recommended to those who like any of Oud Palao, Musc Ravageur, Patchouli 24, or vintage Givenchy Gentleman.


4.5/5
23rd June, 2021

Aqua Amara by Bulgari

I lived in Phoenix for three years, where the first half of summer (June to mid-July) would be not only extremely hot, but also bone dry. Aqua Amara from start to end is characterised by a "baked earth" dryness that reminds me of those Phoenix days. There's some orange-neroli notes here, with all juice and pulp removed to render everything dry, then fused with a base of patchouli and incense. Strangely, the dry-down appears even more expansive thanks to the incense, as the dry texture of the scent is further exaggerated. Duration is good, and sillage is impressive for a perfume of this style.

Aqua Amara is very cleverly executed by Jacques Cavallier, who has signed many landmark releases (particularly for men). The citrus notes used are quite unique for their texture, and work very well with the dry-down here to create a distinctive and innovative perfume.

3.5/5
15th June, 2021

Tuscan Scent : Incense Suede by Salvatore Ferragamo

A simplistic dry, woody composition with hints of incense and vague sweetness. Linear and one-dimensional. Engaging at times, but eventually monotonous and uninspiring.

2.5/5
15th June, 2021

Cuir Mauresque by Serge Lutens

I love the floral leather accord that is central to Cuir Mauresque, and common to so many others including Chanel's Cuir de Russie (the most famous example), Cuir Cannage, Knize Ten Golden Edition, and Roja Dove's Great Britain to name a few.

There are two significant additional themes in Cuir Mauresque. First there is an accord of dried fruits to the top notes that are sustained throughout the first half of the evolution. This a far cry from the usual sugary accords in so many Lutens, and compliments the floral leather accord exceedingly well. The second is the addition of myrrh and other hazy resinous notes to the base, again carefully cutting out any sweetness except the barest hint of it.

The result? It's that floral "Russian leather" accord in its most glorious rendition, at perfect pitch and volume. It transitions from a contemporary fruity leather accord that is revealed to be all smoke and mirrors by an hour, when the central floral leather accord is in full bloom. This leather accord is sustained throughout for several hours when the resinous base notes join force to create an astonishing dry-down that is at par with the best in history.

Whether one likes Cuir Mauresque or not depends on whether one likes this central floral leather accord, and how one reacts to its particular interpretation here with subtle dried fruits and the resinous base.

I've tried dozens of perfume interpretations of this style of leather, including several formulations of Chanel's Cuir de Russie. Cuir Mauresque is the best bar none.


5/5

Note: Review is based on bell jar bought in 2017
15th June, 2021

Great Britain by Roja Dove

Roja Dove's ostentatiously priced Great Britain is an insignificant variation on the theme of Chanel's Cuir de Russie. While Great Britain is about as complex and abstract by construction, there is also something dense about it that results in an inadequate separation of notes, and the overall composition smells muddled. Additionally it is rather muted on skin with disappointing longevity.

Roja Dove has successfully "reinterpreted" vintage scents within portfolio, Diaghilev being a leading example. Great Britain doesn't make the grade at all.

2/5
15th June, 2021

B683 Extrait by Marc-Antoine Barrois

Fruits and hot plastic with some spices, followed by a screechy dry-down of synthetic woods. The central accord has similarities to Ganymede minus the leather, and Ganymede is vastly superior to this.


2/5
15th June, 2021

1861 Naxos by Xerjoff

Pure Havane minus the fun.

2.5/5
15th June, 2021

Bracken Man by Amouage

If one ignores the branding (including notes), this is nothing but a mish-mash of two wonderful men's perfumes - Aramis Havana and Montana Parfum d'Homme (which already smell quite similar to one another), with a smidgen of earthy patchouli added, and "refined" / "scrubbed up" so as to match the aesthetic sensibilities of the average Amouage customer. Moderate duration, while sillage is close to skin.

2.5/5
15th June, 2021

Ganymede by Marc-Antoine Barrois

Ganymede is a fruity leather. I admire much here: first the abstract fruit notes, the subtle use of spices (saffron, hint of cumin), hazy floral notes, and everything tied together by interesting leather accord based around immortelle. In its essence it's the leather accord of Histoires des Parfums 1740, but the sweetness removed and then everything almost "steam-distilled" so as to make it transparent and diffusive. Then there's a mineral-metallic hint, contrasted by the overall fuzzy texture of the scent.

While there's much to love, Ganymede strangely appears thin-bodied both on card and on my skin, though does possess good persistence. I don't detect anything salty or aquatic here. Ganymede is a complex, abstract and wearable perfume, recommended to anyone interested in a leather scent, though it might be missing a spark somewhere.

3/5
15th June, 2021

Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens

Iris Silver Mist is a straightforward iris, part rooty and part powdery, fresh/clean with some musks and very little development from start to finish. While I wonder if I'm anosmic to some of the aromachemicals in here, it comes across as quite simplistic, though not unattractive. Quite similar to Iris Cendre, but lacking the tobacco and other subtle touches of the Naomi Goodsir creation. Additionally it's quite thin on my skin with moderate duration and disappointing sillage.


2.5/5

Note: Review is based on a "vaporisateur tout noir" version circa 2018.
15th June, 2021

Ore by Slumberhouse

Ore is a resinous amber with a twist of cocoa, accentuated by sweet, woody notes.

Thick, oily, with good depth but not particularly complex or abstract; largely linear and gets monotonous after a while. While Ore smells attractive on a scent strip, it doesn't really work as perfume, coming across as rather one-dimensional and somewhat unfinished.

Duration is at over several hours, but it wears very close to skin.


2.5/5
15th June, 2021

Putain des Palaces by Etat Libre d'Orange

Putain des Palaces is a floral amber, centred around an accord of violets and rose. Opening brightly, the floral notes are slightly candied, and accentuated by a hint of leather. In the soft, powdery dry-down that follows later, the floral notes with the accents are sustained. On my skin it lasts several hours with a close but consistent scent cloud, based on a liberal application.

Putain des Palaces is firmly in the same olfactory family of the rose-violet "lipstick/makeup accord" as explored in Lipstick Rose, and later in Misia. Lipstick Rose is more rosy, bold, and vivacious, while Misia is more abstract, cool and aloof; by contrast, Putain des Palaces is comforting, warm, and perhaps more approachable.

Putain des Palaces is less quirky than it name would suggest, and is an easy-to-wear versatile perfume that works particularly well in warmer climate. If I forget the brand, the name, the 'concept' and simply smell it - here is a beautiful contemporary perfume, nostalgic beneath the cheerful veneer, and immaculately crafted from start to finish. It's one of the best ones from Etat Libre d'Orange.


4/5
15th June, 2021

Radikal Lotus by LM Parfums

A dark, floral creation. A dark rose, with hints of lotus, saffron, vanilla and patchouly. Sort of an introverted Black Orchid in terms of personality. Many women could find this too dark/masculine, and many men could find this too floral. It reminds me of some darker Montales but more refined, and something like Noir de Noir in terms of its vibes. Worth a try, can't comment much on sillage / duration, but they seem fine. I like it, can't say I love it, and I probably wouldn't wear this (because there are other dark florals I'd prefer). The lotus note is mostly in the beginning, but thereafter it moves more towards a rose, saffron, vanilla, patchouli accord. Minimal sweetness, hint of a syrupy attribute. Definitely worth a try.


3/5
13th March, 2021 (last edited: 15th April, 2021)

Rien by Etat Libre d'Orange

Rien is a bonafide masterpiece, a tremendous tour-de-force composition of leather, aldehydes, musk, spices, patchouli with everything finely interwoven. The perfumer Antoine Lie has mentioned that this is the costliest formula in the whole Etat Libre d'Orange portfolio.

Abstract, complex, perfectly proportioned, wonderful balance between the different elements, and yet there is always a tension. The result is a novel accord, hard to describe because it's so different, nonetheless smells great and is something that would probably make Guy Robert proud. Definitely it's a bold perfume with wonderful silky sillage and lasting tenacity to match, so naturally it was never meant to please everyone.

This is definitely in the musky leather category for me, and would likely appeal to fans of Kouros, Christopher Street (Charenton Macerations). Rien is the quintessential leather perfume of the 21st century - unique, iconic, and yet indelibly evocative of the best vintages in its glorious depth and richness.

Bravo!


5/5
13th March, 2021 (last edited: 15th April, 2021)

Special for Gentlemen by Le Galion

Special for Gentlemen is a nice dirty lavender, with some fougere-ish elements, that immediately reminds me of Jicky and Mouchoir de Monsieur. Moderate sillage and longevity, with a base that is slightly dry-vanillic. I find Mouchoir de Monsieur or even Jicky to be a more engaging wear, and I don't find any reason to recommend Special over those two, especially considering the price. Affable, but not that special. On a somewhat related note, Boy Chanel is a modern update to this style of perfumes.


3/5
09th March, 2021

Black Tourmaline by Olivier Durbano

I don't know how this smelled in 2007, but in 2021 this comes across as a bland, pedestrian incense-y woody amber, clichéd and tired.


2.5/5
03rd March, 2021

Mentha Religiosa by Dear Rose

Mentha Religiosa comes across as an understated minty-sweet-woody composition, with the mint having some toothpaste-y association (as opposed to being herbal), but it is carefully balanced with some woody notes (primarily cedar). I don't smell anything that could be conceived of as incense. The mint subsides over time to lead to a woody dry-down that is soft, and has a vague powdery aspect.


I find Mentha Relgiosa to be have moderate sillage and duration. While it's perhaps a bit simplistic, I find the accord to be quite novel and engaging. A discreet application would make it a nice office scent, while it could be a night out scent with a more liberal application which brings out more of the mint. I'm thinking this could work as a grown up Versace Eros, as it takes a similar idea, but leaves out the sickly vanillic base for a woody dry-down; or the yuppy alternative to something like Piper Nigrum, and ideal for cold spring days or nights.


3.5/5
03rd March, 2021