Perfume Reviews

Reviews by gmstrack

Total Reviews: 114

Santal 33 by Le Labo

Santal 33 by Le Labo reminds me of the bombastic woody fragrances by CdG, but with different ingredients. Yes, I agree--this does smell like a moustache hipster, from 10 years ago, working in a wood shop, building a new end table and pickling vegetables in the corner. This fragrance suits my personal taste and it is difficult to argue with the quality and performance. Huge projection and sillage—the wearer is working hard in the wood shop for 10 to 12 hours a day, occasionally picking sawdust out of their beard and freshly laundered flannel shirt. 10 years ago, the day in the wood shop was ended at a cozy microbrewery, but now, our moustache is about to turn 33, and still works in a pile of wood chips, but spends spare time with the kids.

25th April, 2020

Kenzo World by Kenzo

Kenzo World opens with delicious berry jam wedged next to cold, watery flowers. The hyperrealistic berry jam is bright and mouthwatering—so intense that one can almost taste the tartness. As the fragrance dries down, it starts to build a transient architecture. Like a tent pitched in the backyard, the juxtaposition of the almost soapy floral notes and the tart berries creates a sense of space. One gets a feeling of coziness while being exposed to some of the elements. For example, a subtle breeze or ray of sun penetrates the tent, but the semitransparent veil protects us from the rain and fog. Over time, the tent starts to collapse, almost deflating, and exposing molten ambroxan. The ambroxan forms an amalgam with the skin, swirling in a thick vortex, dragging the berry jam and flowers down in a nauseating spiral. At this point, the composition is dominated by ambroxan and the original sense of space is replaced by warm, flattened molecules.

Overall, I enjoy Kenzo World as fun contemporary fruity-floral. If I owned a bottle, I would reach for it occasionally, but I am not excited enough to put this on my full bottle list. I am slowly becoming a fan of the perfumer, Francis Kurkdjian, and this composition makes me excited to sniff more of his work.

3.5/5 Recommended to people into fruity-florals and ambroxan
15th March, 2020

Replica Music Festival by Martin Margiela

Music Festival by Maison Martin Margiela smells like amber-y weed that I remember from the 90s—slightly sweet and powdery. IMO, today’s weed is very green and bred to be strong, which results in a scent profile that would be tough to wear. Music Festival is easy to wear, especially if one is into woody fragrances. It does not smell like a dupe of Fille en Aiguilles, but it is similar enough; I would recommend MF to fans of FeA. When comparing the two fragrances, FeA has a dominant balsam fir note, while MF has more smoke/patchouli/weed/leather and a touch of waxy iris. FeA is slightly sweeter with candied fruit and gin and tonic—it makes me feel attractive, while MF feels slightly edgy. I would definitely reach for this fragrance if I owned a full bottle.

4/5 Recommended to people into incense or woody fragrances
30th December, 2019
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Mémoire d'une Odeur by Gucci

I was excited to try Mémoire d’une Odeur by Gucci—everything sounded promising, including the 'genderless' marketing and the vintage bottle. The first spray on the card was confusing. It was difficult to understand the amorphous blob of clean musk with play dough and mint. I finally decided that smelling it on paper was useless and tested it on my skin. Game changer. It took ten minutes for the fragrance to warm up and meld with my skin; but when it did, a soapy musk with a touch of white floral and a slightly sweet herbal note unfolded. Over time, the musk became slightly snuggly--my skin but better. It took me a few wears before I became comfortable identifying the chamomile note. The chamomile note is indeed a chameleon, twisting and winding its way through the floral musk. Sometimes the minty herbaceous character exchanges itself for a subtle fruity sweetness.

Summary: Expensive soap—the best kind; versatile.

Projection and sillage are low—this is a skin scent made for hugs.

Longevity is average with 6 to 7 hours.

The world needs more fragrances like Mémoire d’une Odeur

10th August, 2019

Aoud Musk by Montale

Aoud Musk by Montale opens with a slightly sweet hit of syrup that quickly recedes and exposes a semi-challenging oud accord. The oud accord is comprised of moldy basement and soil and sits on top of a mainstream designer ‘musk’. This musk reminds me of Brut or powerhouse fragrances from the 80s marketed toward men. Aoud Musk makes me think of Fahrenheit without the violet leaf—the notes are very different, but both fragrances have a similar vibe. A saffron note is screaming for help under all of the designer musk, and the first time I tried the fragrance, all I could smell was leather. However, after a couple wears, it became clear that I was smelling oud on designer musk with saffron.

Good, but not my cup of tea

28th July, 2019

Sunny Side Up by Juliette Has a Gun

Sunny Side Up by Juliette Has a Gun is one of ‘those molecule fragrances’. Familiarity with the house is needed to put this fragrance into context, otherwise the note list could drive expectations in the wrong direction. One should not expect ‘natural’ sandalwood nor should one expect a sweet floral fragrance with mass-market appeal. Instead, think of woody, beachy skin scents such as Sensuous Nude by Estee Lauder or Eau de Merveilles by Hermes, and add the spooky minimalism of the Eccentric Molecules series. Sunny Side Up radiates off warm skin and plays tricks with your nose. It seems to bring some of the warm skin with it as it appears and reappears. Your nose will chase the fragrance all the way to your skin, where is suddenly hides, only to show up again when you are not paying attention. The sandalwood accord is a garage band with iso-e super as the lead guitarist, but it plays like a proper orchestra. Being a warm skin scent, Sunny Side Up works in the summer, in fact, this fragrance should work in all types of weather and for all types of settings.

Brilliant! 4.5/5
25th July, 2019

Twilight Shimmer by Michael Kors

Twilight Shimmer (Eau de Parfum) by Michael Kors opens with a densely packed blast of designer sweetness. The opening reminds me of a fruity patchouli fragrance, but without floral notes. Vanilla and generic fruity notes dominate during the opening, but it is clear that there is a woody accord screaming for help under all of the designer mall candy. Eventually, the fragrance unfolds and reveals a bold smoky accord that sticks around long into the dry down. I’m not getting oud, just smoke and a touch of woods that could be mistaken for patchouli. The candy-smoke combo reminds me of By the Fireplace by MMM. This fragrance could work for someone who likes sweet fragrances or dislikes florals. I wish that I could detect the oud in the fragrance. I can’t, so this is not going on the full bottle list. On the other hand, I can really see Twilight Shimmer working on the right person. Performance is decent, the bottle is beautiful, and the price is fair.

21st July, 2019

L'Interdit (2018 version) by Givenchy

L'Interdit (2018) by Givenchy is bubblegum tuberose turned up to 11. Typically, we can find this type of tuberose in niche fragrances, but it is loud and clear in this designer offering.

My husband said that I smell like bubble gum with a little bit of mint. He seems to like it.

I'm not getting bubblegum, but I am getting a juicy grape/cherry note that lasts for hours. Normally fruity notes bother me, but this is bright, happy, and almost good enough to eat. Sometimes this smells a little like Dr. Pepper with a pretty woody floral background. I don't really smell patchouli, but after a couple hours, a green musky note appears.

I'm quickly make my way through a sample, and that is usually a sign that I enjoy a fragrance.

Excellent performance...

08th July, 2019

L'Autre Oud by Lancôme

L’Autre Oud Eau de Parfum by Lancome makes me think of drinking red wine in a horse barn. The rose is bright and a little jammy—in the same category as the rose found in Portrait of a Lady. The oud is tame and blended with the saffron, which turns into a slightly animalic leather. The leather is very soft and elegant and is supported by sweet hay. The horse did not take a dump, but we can feel her presence. A quiet patchouli note supports both the rose and oud, tying the notes together. Yes, L’Autre Oud is just another (French) rose-oud fragrance, but it’s high quality and nicely blended—it smells expensive, which is pretty cool, considering that a discounted 75 mL bottle can be found for a little less than $100.

24th June, 2019

Explosions d’Emotions : Skin On Skin by L'Artisan Parfumeur

A better name for Skin on Skin by L'Artisan Parfumeur is Car Seat on Handbag. The main note in the fragrance is leather, which comes across as very synthetic and forced. It reminds me of a new car or suede handbag, not skin or animalic intimacy. I was hoping that the iris note would save the day, but unfortunately it plays a supporting role to the car seat and plays out as powdery candied violets with some woody notes. What about the whisky and saffron notes? Maybe, but like I said--leather!

Does the fragrance match the marketing? No.

Does the fragrance match the name? Maybe. If you want to smell like dead animal hide on top of your own skin, then this might be for you.

Does the fragrance bring anything new? No.

Does it smell good? Yes--if you are into fake suede, but if not, run away; don't look back.

09th June, 2019

Iris by Crabtree & Evelyn

Iris by Crabtree and Evelyn is an inexpensive option for those craving a woody iris that is elegant, calming, and versatile. The opening is amazing and I wish it lasted. There is a subtle sweet citrus-type brightness that ties the patchouli to the earthy orris root, but unfortunately, it quickly dissipates, leaving behind a slightly green, slightly buttery, slightly sweet, woody orris decorated with violets and cedar.I would not describe this fragrance as cutting-edge or challenging--there is a soapiness that makes this fragrance appropriate for the American office, but it has a gentle meditative aspect that is difficult to find in this price range. Speaking of price, this discontinued fragrance seems to hold its value--bring it back!

09th June, 2019

Sud Magnolia by Atelier Cologne

Sud Magnolia by Atelier Cologne--ya basic, buuuut, you smell really good, last forever, and project like a beast. I bombed out my coworkers for several hours with just two sprays. The opening is sweet, juicy citrus with soapy rose and magnolia. I've never sniffed magnolia flowers, so i'm just going by the note list. The sweet juiciness quickly dries down to a fruity floral turned up to 11. The trademark Atelier clean, woody musk plays a big role in this fragrance and sometimes a warm saltiness in the form of celery shows up.

Sud Magnolia isn't original at all, but it's well done--good luck getting rid of it in the shower.

20th May, 2019

My Kind of Love : Adults by By Kilian

Adults by By Kilian opens with candied fig and a synthetic (in a good way), yet pretty coconut-laden sandalwood. Sniffing this on a blotter is really nice, but once it hits the skin and dries down, it falls apart, and becomes mushy and synthetic in a bad way. Given that I'm drawn toward sweet, woody fragrances, I really wanted to like this, but it smells like a sugary department store fumigator.

I'm really striking out with By Kilian so far, but it's possible that I just need to sniff more of their fragrances to find one that really 'wows' me.

19th May, 2019
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Vanille Insensée by Atelier Cologne

Vanille Insensee by Atelier Cologne is one of the only three vanilla-centered fragrances that I would consider adding to my collection. The list also includes Salimar EDC and L de Lolita Lempicka (sadly discontinued). Lately, it seems like half the beauty and bath products on the market are laced with vanilla, and I can see why—it is universal, comforting, and not “perfume-y”. On the other hand, if I am going to burn a hole in my wallet and purchase a fragrance, I except something more than vanilla extract. Vanille Insensee reminds me of a vintage perfume that developed for several hours on the skin. The top notes are long gone and only a hint of floral accord remains. What is left is a gently humming benzoin-laden vanilla with a dose of subdued “oakmoss”, a touch of vetiver, and airbrushed musk. That being said, VI is far from vintage with its burnt sugar turned up full blast and the civet strategically omitted. Even the moss accord has been declawed and given a bath.

VI is very approachable, yet it provides the wearer with something more than vanilla scented body lotion. My favorite part is the freshly cut hay accord that is screaming for help under the pile of sugar and moss/musk.

06th August, 2017

Replica Lazy Sunday Morning by Martin Margiela

Lazy Sunday Morning by Maison Martin Margiela immediately reminded me of Narciso Rodriguez for Her EDT given the generous dose of slightly animalic, fruity musk. However, once one zooms in for a closer look, it is clear that the two compositions are very different. Both open with fruit and musk: LSM presents a large dose of aldehydes, while NR for Her has just a pinch of shimmer that quickly dissolves into the bold fruit (peach accord). Next, it becomes clear that the main floral note in LSM is not orange blossom, but in NR for Her it sticks around until the end. The floral note in LSM simultaneously melds with the sharp-edged aldehydes and the snuggly musk. To me this is what makes the fragrance brilliant—it lifts off the skin while For Her forms an amalgam with skin and hair. LSM has a subtle salt accord (feminine sweat) that slowly evolves within the folds of musk—it IS the skin wearing perfume.

How does one choose between the two? I think the aldehydes offer a big enough punch to be off-putting for aldehyde wimps (like me), but LSM almost makes For Her feel like the pretty, polite younger sister.

Maybe I’m a sucker for the marketing.

05th August, 2017

Replica Lipstick On by Martin Margiela

Lipstick On by Maison Martin Margiela was a pleasant surprise. The iris is the waxy, play-dough type and it is paired with a touch of rose and galbanum. Yes, this absolutely smells like grandma’s makeup bag, but manufactured in 2015. One could accuse LO of being “generic”, and maybe it is not a groundbreaking fragrance, but it is nicely done. There is a brightness that sticks around after the opening that keeps the whole thing from becoming too sweet and doughy—cherry-almond pastry coupled with earthy-wax. When I take a good snort, a 3D architecture unfolds with all of the high notes, mid notes, and low notes taking a turn. As the fragrance develops on skin, it slowly warms up and becomes snuggly—one of my new favorites!

27th May, 2017

Eau Parfumée au Thé Bleu by Bulgari

If someone were to ask me to describe Eau Parfumée au Thé Bleu, I would tell them that it is a starched iris and orange blossom with a heavy hit of spices and tea. The first opening of Bleu is hard-hitting and even abrasive, but to me, it is one of the most gorgeous orange blossom compositions I have ever sniffed. The juxtaposition of the suntan lotion with intense chai spices is intriguing. Typically, spiced tea accords are paired with sweet, creamy vanilla, so the aforementioned combination is rather unexpected. The base of the fragrance is similar to the clean, starched iris found in Infusion d’Iris by Prada, but the effect is almost hot and dry instead of cold and metallic. Overall, I am impressed by the Bulgari Eau Parfumée line and would recommend it as an outstanding example of tea-based fragrances; although, I would wear Bleu while in the mood for iris or orange blossom, not tea. Note: there is definitely a lavender accord kicking around, but I typically have a tough time picking out lavender—it appears and disappears, darting in and out of the cloud of iris and white musk.

21st May, 2017

My Burberry by Burberry

I recently received a sample of My Burberry by Burberry from the local Macy’s, stuffed it in my bag, and promptly forgot about it. To be honest, I was not that excited to try it and figured that I would save it for a rainy day when I had nothing better to do. Anyway, when I finally did get around to trying it on, I was pleasantly surprised and regretted not doing so earlier. The fruity, acidic opening quickly transitions to a green, fruity-floral. There is a prominent rose note that reminds me of shampoo from the 1980s, but the overall effect is quite pleasant. The aquatic aspect of the fragrance is not salty nor drenched in melon—it is more of a dewy, mountain spring accord. The fruity aspect adds a brightness that nicely ties in with the floral notes, lifting the composition off the skin. To me, My Burberry does not (literally) smell like “an English garden after the rain”, but it successfully evokes the fantasy.

Final verdict: My Burberry is not original or groundbreaking, but the mission was accomplished by the perfumer, Francis Kurkdjian, who consistently produces simple, yet intelligent compositions for the contemporary market. I would recommend this to someone who enjoys fragrances that are “fresh” and feminine, or to fans of fruity-florals, springtime florals, and aquatic florals. I would not recommend My Burberry to the budget conscious, because there are alternatives out there for a fraction of the price.

29th April, 2017

Good girl gone Bad by By Kilian

Good Girl Gone Bad, as other reviewers have mentioned, brings to mind “girl” but does little to bring us anything “bad”. The price, name, and presentation set a level of expectation that, I must admit, is difficult to satisfy; so with that being said, I braced myself for mediocrity. The opening is a nice mixture of aldehydes, peach, and laundry detergent. The floral notes are quite soapy and free of animalic aspect, mostly rose and sterile white floral. Sometimes, there is a trace of smokiness lost in the starch, so maybe someone is had a cigarette in the laundry room two weeks ago? I can almost see GGGB as a nod to Arpege with its bold peach and aldehydes, but it falls short of being anything memorable. I’m having a difficult time deciding on the rating because the price is ridiculous for what it is. A solid middle-of-the-road fragrance is reasonable at $80-100 for 50 mL, but at $260, one begins to wonder if the tailor fooled the emperor.

29th January, 2017

Pétroleum by Histoires de Parfums

Petroleum by Histoires de Parfums opens with citrus rubber band-aid and then morphs into WWIII as all the petrol fields in the world start smoking at once. WWIII simmers down and to expose that trademark old books and furniture accord that HdP does so well. Now I’m getting a touch of carpet infused with cigarette smoke. The carpet (and maybe the couch) is probably on fire because burning plastic is in there somewhere too. This probably sounds terrible, and to some it probably will be, but there is an elegance to the whole mess that makes it seem, well, wearable. Under all of the madness a dignified, soapy leather is screaming for help. It’s definitely one of the strangest fragrances I’ve ever tried.

I’m not going to wear it, but someone should.

16th January, 2017

1826 Eugénie de Montijo by Histoires de Parfums

1826 by Histoires de Parfums is a dignified patchouli fragrance that doesn’t strike me as particularly feminine or masculine. There is a touch of powdery iris that keeps the whole thing from smelling like patchouli oil. The overall effect is earthy-clean. This is a far cry from all of the candy-patchouli clones out there and a nice option for someone into patch but looking for something different. One thing that I really enjoy about HdP fragrances is the old books/furniture accord that seems to be infused in some of the compositions. Maybe this is just my take on it, but for those who enjoy that sort of smell, I highly recommend checking out HdP.

16th January, 2017

Tubéreuse 3 L'Animale by Histoires de Parfums

Tubereuse 3 Animale by Histoires de Parfums opens with intense grapy tuberose with a touch of menthol. The fragrance quickly settles down into an oak moss (maybe)and pipe tobacco combination that comes across as a bit vintage. I’m not really picking up on the “green grass” note because the composition leans a little towards musty books and fruit—a little reminiscent of Mitsouko. Also, I’m not entirely sure about the “animale” part; the tuberose is definitely full-on, but not as indolic as other tuberose fragrances. The quality/performance is decent, so I would definitely recommend this fragrance to someone wanting to smell like white flowers and old books.

16th January, 2017

Gucci Guilty by Gucci

Gucci guilty is a fragrance that I always wanted to dislike, but just could not find the gumption to be completely grossed out. It’s excessively fruity in that shrill North American mall sort of way—one of my pet peeves when it comes to designer fragrances. Guilty opens with a boozy lychee note that settles down into a synthetic peach that just doesn’t want to go away. After being hit over the head with terrifying fruit, one becomes aware of a nice green spring floral note (lilac / lily-of-the-valley) and a touch of sensual musk similar to the one found in NR For Her. The result smells like a quintessential designer fragrance for women, with a touch of weirdness, maybe a little sweat. The best part is that Guilty doesn’t fall apart on the skin and it continues to develop into something more approachable as the hours wear on.

Not my thing, but not bad; a nice springtime scent

16th January, 2017

Orchid Soleil by Tom Ford

Orchid Soleil by Tom Ford is a pleasant surprise and proves that risk taking can still happen once in a while in the mainstream fragrance world. The end result is a plastic-y white floral that is creamy, yet slightly salty; just weird. There is a warm sweetness, but not in a typically vanilla-candy-mainstream way. I’m convinced that Orchid Soleil was designed for androids on tropical vacation. We should start taking bets—when will OS be discontinued?

27th November, 2016

No. 5 L'Eau by Chanel

Chanel No 5 L'Eau opens with plenty of orange, which sticks around instead of simply disappearing after the opening. The florals are light and not very distinctive and the luscious sandalwood is nowhere to be found. The aldehydes murmur instead of screech. Eventually, a light, powdery iris shows up and saves the show; the perfume starts making sense. The dry down isn’t a generic aquatic musk—it is that beautiful trademark iris.

27th November, 2016

Jour d'Hermès Gardénia by Hermès

Jour d’Hermes Gardenia by Hermes opens with a promising lactonic gardenia-type white floral and some aldehydes. The jasmine note is prominent. The creamy gardenia accord is tempered by a soapiness; this gardenia is definitely prim and proper with maybe a touch of animalic orange blossom, but nothing that pushes the composition away from the innocent and fresh territory. It definitely smells good, but turns a bit generic and mushy in the dry down. I think Estee Lauder has better gardenia offerings—Tuberose Gardenia offers a gorgeous, realistic gardenia and Beyond Paradise offers a creamy, soapy, abstract gardenia.

27th November, 2016

Stash by Sarah Jessica Parker

Stash SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker is a perfume that suits my personal taste. I just can’t get enough woody incense and Stash really brought it, CdG style. Time for a controversial statement: Stash is better than Santal Blush.

I also enjoyed Lovely, given that NR for Her EDT is one of my favorites. SJP—please release more fragrances!

30th October, 2016

Nirvana Rose by Elizabeth and James

Nirvana Rose by Elizabeth and James has a tart, boozy opening that sticks around well into the dry down. Earthy rose fragrances usually remind me of red wine and NR is no exception. My favorite part is the unapologetic vetiver-musk base that lends a perfect counter balance (darkness) to the ferocious red rose. The rose gives everything lift and dimension and turns the fragrance into something special, almost formal, without feeling like a costume. It deceptively simple, yet everything you want a perfume to be. To me, NR, seems to transcend gender and age barriers. I’m also impressed that it isn’t loaded down with vanilla and candy. Homerun—a true standout among the other designer offerings.

The bottle is gorgeous; the longevity is decent, and it’s not stupid expensive.

Highly recommended. 4.5/5
30th October, 2016

Mon Paris by Yves Saint Laurent

Mon Paris by YSL (2016) is another pointless release and smells like someone sprayed every perfume in a department store at the same time. Even the likes of a crazy perfume hobbyist might be put off by this one, given its military-grade high-pitched fruity-floral screech. I dare the United States military to reinvest in their fragrance-based weapons research program, in fact, I suggest that they employ this simple algorithm: First, hit everyone with a nasty cocktail of rotting carrion, vomit, and fart—that should take care of the majority of people and only a few perfumistas will be left standing, probably trying to dissect the accords while hemming and hawing over whether the composition should be classified a floral aquatic or chypre. Next, launch Mon Paris to take out the stragglers. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it looks like the DoD is releasing another solicitation; time to start writing. BTW—please contact me if you are left standing after both attacks.

02nd October, 2016

Chantilly by Dana

Sometimes, when reading other perfume reviews, a humbling realization strikes in which it becomes clear that a life experience that felt unique or authentic is, in fact, quite common. Chantilly was worn by my grandmother. She would douse herself in about 50 sprays during special occasions—i. e., anytime we would visit—and then toddle around the house doing all of those wonderful grandma things.

As a child, I never understood that we were not “well off” and part of the reason for this was that my grandparents would spend the whole year saving up for Christmas to ensure that the whole family would feel special and cared for. My grandmother spent very little on herself, but she took pride in her appearance by applying makeup to her miraculously wrinkle-free skin and regularly covering her gray hair with dark brown dye from a box. She carried herself with dignity in spite of the polyester dresses and rough southern Italian accent.

As others have pointed out, the affordable Chantilly is several classics rolled into one without coming across as cheap or derivative. It opens with a heavy dose of aldehydes and lemon balanced with a sweet, spicy vanilla musk. The development on my skin, however, is disjointed as the aldehydes remain jagged and piercing next to the sweet oriental base. The lemon curdles the cloying cream as the composition falls apart.

14th August, 2016