Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Wild Gardener

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Total Reviews: 557

Rumba by Ted Lapidus

It’s hard to imagine Jean-Claude Ellena as a rookie. But we all start somewhere, and from time to time in his early days he was paired with more established names. In this case it was Ron Winnegrad who shares the credit, and together they created a strapping oriental. It’s a pretty standard sugar fest of orange blossom - heliotrope - vanilla, but there are some interesting grace notes: incense and moss, cool acid blackcurrant, a fruit syrup of runny boiled sweets, leather, tuberose, plum and peach, a green/citrus note with a fizz like sherbert.

For Ellena, this was the peak of his career as symphonic composer. As the 80’s came to an end, and the Berlin Wall was brought down, Capitalism no longer needed to flaunt it’s opulence in the face of our Commi-Bloc neighbours; the fight had been won and the whole Big Hair - Big ‘fume - Big Shoulders thing was now surplus to requirements.

Having served its purpose the Loads-a-Money jibe - and the stonking fashion that went with it - was thought to be embarrassing and overstated. And sure enough, this kind of florid schmaltz was soon replaced by Eau de Watery scent and Nirvana T-shirt. (Ellena’s contribution being the notable Eau parfumée au thé vert.)

Fortunately for him, because Rumba was a joint enterprise and he was the junior partner, he can just shrug and say It wasn’t my fault guv, honest... !

Balenciaga version
08th January, 2021

Elle by Yves Saint Laurent

Elle is misnamed. It's a dry woody floral that hardly falls on the feminine side, and that's only due to a watery-pink note of lychee and some red fruits. Everything else; the scratchy pink pepper, the lemon, the gritty indoles of sambac, papery flowers, what Luca Turin calls the Feu d'Issey bread-milk note, the patchouli and dark woods, all of them are not Feminine. The only other feminine note is a sweet powdery-woody in the base.
This isn't a criticism of the profile, just the name the marketers gave to it.
It actually works quite well, just not under the name She. 'He' might have been less incongruous, but either way, with it's inherent weirdness, this was always going to be an outlier, a non-conformist luking in it's square cut androgenous bottle.
Elle, this gritty 'feminine' with a hipster beard, should have had a metrosexual twin called Lui; with lavender and not lychee, and keeping the papery florals, but swopping out the dark woods for a plush oriental base. This suitably mixed up affair would be packaged in a bulbous curvy bottle in pink and grey. These two could have been the first Mix & Match pair, to be layered as you feel.
Like Alan Turing, Elle is a Code Breaker; unconventional, an outsider with a different point of view.
But is it a good perfume? I'm not sure.
As a feminine, it's adventurous, but the form - as well as the theme - is rather crude, and this would normally point to a masculine perfume. When seen from this perspective though, Elle seems to function rather better, and guys, it could be worth checking out. Just don't let the name put you off, because after all, gendering perfume is just as arbitrary as it is conventional.
07th January, 2021

J'Adore Infinissime by Christian Dior

J'adore's plastic flowers are bad enough but this is ten times worse.
In this lamentable flanker they're covered by algae, toffee, cat fur and ash, and trod into a mouldy carpet.
It makes me wanna puke.
06th January, 2021
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Ambro by Jacomo

Sour ambery take on Le Mâle.
03rd January, 2021

Vacances (original) by Jean Patou

I love the enthusiasm of this. A green field of flowers fruits and grass, Vacances is a bit gauche but really delightful.

It's a celebration of summer, and the first paid holidays in France - which began the year Vacances was released. It seems designed to channel the joy of urban workers on discovering the countryside.

Those who know Ma Griffe will find echoes in Vacances with it's light green aldehyde style, but in fact it was ten years ahead of the Carven and it's gaity is more infectious; an all round better perfume, and the only sweet pea I know - except for the real thing...

Some perfumes by Henri Alméras don't really hit the target, feeling like they were made to reflect - and exploit - a socio-economic niche, like the pineapple smell of Colony for instance. But while Vacances was clearly aimed at a new market, it is truly felt; a limpid impression of summertime, and a wonderful perfume.
It is, if you like, Patou's Pastorale ...
02nd January, 2021

L'Heure Attendue (original) by Jean Patou

L'heure attendue, the Longed-For Moment; sadly an anti-climax. Mawkish orange syrup and glacial chypre with a touch of oriental, this is part teenage fantasy - part disdain - part desire.
It feels confused; a decent orange floral but there's no clear lead, no direction. You are enveloped in sweetness and bullied by aldehyde and patchouli. There seems to be no way out from this quagmire of mixed emotions.
Be careful what you long for.
01st January, 2021

Amazone (original) by Hermès

A green chypre by the old Hermès, with a rosy heart and their habitual note of leather.
Amazone was composed in '74 by Maurice Maurin, long before Ellena kicked out the saddle fétiche.
30th December, 2020

Fantasia by Fendi

Tart fruity-floral, belting it out with a sweet powdery chorus in tow. It has the same virtuous air as Tommy Girl but here it's more like green apple shampoo.
29th December, 2020

Burberry London by Burberry

Like muzac in the waiting room that doesn't hide the dentist's drill; London's citrus, papery floral and syrup is spoilt by the high pitched whine that goes with it.
27th December, 2020

Fantasme by Ted Lapidus

The remarkable thing about ionones is they smell of violets on one side and raspberry on the other.
Pierre Bourdon first brings out the violets, and then the raspberry, but the rest is rather stodgy, thick and powdery-creamy. A basic oriental.
25th December, 2020 (last edited: 26th December, 2020)

Vive La Mariée by Les Parfums de Rosine

Orange flower in a ton of syrup.
24th December, 2020

1740 Marquis de Sade by Histoires de Parfums

This is a description of Davana oil from Good Scents :
'A fruity note of syrupy liqueur on a woody, animalic base.'
Mention a cool overtone at the top, and a burnt sugar drydown of immortelle, and you've just about nailed it.

1740 is a robust boozy leather, a gentleman's drinking club, nary a dungeon in sight...

It's a good perfume but in practical terms I never wear it.
23rd December, 2020
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Secret de Vénus by Weil

One of the best orientals ever.

Secret de Venus was one of Shalimar's babies, and after her there came Youth-Dew, and then the line goes to Opium.

But Secret de Venus wasn't just a remake of a classic formula, it had a trick up its sleeve. As well as an alcoholic perfume it was sold as a body oil, like a pure perfume - but in oil. A few dabs and you are wrapped in your own personal cloud of pot pourri - full of nuance and loveliness. Creamy-floral, spicy and bitter-sweet, it really is gorgeous, a rare perfume to make you gush.

And after the highs come the lows; the drydown is long and gets a bit tedious - it is an oriental after all. But despite that, this perfume oil was a winner, and alas - it is no more.
22nd December, 2020

L'Eau Guerrière 20 by Parfumerie Generale

Incense, wood and sweetness; hardly a perfume in my book, more of a background smell.
And seeing as Mark Buxton did this sort of thing ten years earlier with Comme des Garçons 2 Man, it makes L'Eau Guerrière 20 look a bit pointless.
21st December, 2020

A Way for Her by Trussardi

Blackberry hairspray.
20th December, 2020

Mercedes-Benz Intense by Mercedes-Benz

If you like Fahrenheit but find it too heavy, and none of the flankers suit you, this may be the one to get.
It's a blend of violet leaf and light engine oil, with the pepper, citrus and woody ambers of a sauvage masculine.
There's nothing original here but it's nicely done, and - at today's internet prices - it looks like a bargain.
17th December, 2020

Soir de Paris / Evening in Paris (new) by Bourjois

The 1928 version of this was done by Ernest Beaux - who also did No5. And that's no coincidence, the people who run Parfums Chanel also run Bourjois. They are in effect parallel companies, high market and low, and this is their cheap No5, re-engineered by François Demachy with the help of Jacques Polge - who did No5 EdP and Eau Première.
If No5 is Van Cleef & Arpels, this is crap from Ratners; you get what you pay for.
16th December, 2020 (last edited: 17th December, 2020)

Niki de Saint Phalle by Niki de Saint Phalle

Niki de Saint Phalle was famous for artworks that she'd shot, stabbed and mutilated. The first time I saw her was on a giant poster at the Grand Palais. She was aiming a rifle straight at you, finger on the trigger, ready to shoot.

And her perfume is equally direct. A blast of cheesy feet, odora feminis, a milky vegetal note and sweat; like a female Sécrétions Magnifiques (released 24 years later).
And then it turns - abruptly - into a ylang ylang floral, I mean really banana.
And this rides on a fruity-acid chypre with an oriental base.

It's a curious thing this - her perfume, it confronts you with a bunch of lewd squiggles which are quickly painted out with flowery milkshake.

With it's different hues, this recalls one of Saint Phalle's giant multicolour nude statues, lying on her back - legs akimbo; a mixture of playful whimsy and shock tactics.

Technically, the scent is rubbish: jerky, disconnected, a stuffy drydown. But to be fair, my mini has no box and there's some damage to the juice - it has a typical off note at the top. Even so, should it really have smelled like this? From anyone else (except Dali) I would have said No Way...
15th December, 2020

Izia by Sisley

I have yet to find a peony scent that doesn't smell of hairspray. This one has rose and pink pepper as well, but it's still wretched.
15th December, 2020

Macassar by Rochas

Macassar Oil was a frankly gross invention. It was a mix of vegetable oils that men would plaster on their hair, thinking it was a conditioner. But it was also perfumed, and when Rowland and Sons registered Macassar Oil as a trademark in the 1870's, and then started advertising it all over England, it became probably the first mass market perfume for men.

It became so prevalent that wives and mothers would crochet antimacassars, a kind of doily that was draped over the back of setee's and armchairs to stop their men's greasy barnet staining the furniture.

There is an old looking recipe on the internet for home made Macassar oil, presumably based on the original formula. It runs like this : half a pint of bear oil [!], orange flower, jasmin, rose, carnation, bergamot, rosewood, ambergris, cloves and musk.

Macassar Rochas was also a concoction of woods, spices, florals and amber, but it didn't leave an oil slick on everything it touched. It reminds me of ashtrays, tea cosy's and ticking clocks on the mantlepiece; and those bloody doilys...
14th December, 2020

Mûre et Musc Extrême by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Many perfumes have a notional pyramid shape but this one is like a wedge. The thin end is the blackberry note at the top. And then, as it goes, the profile widens out with musks, praline, spices and moss, woods, and a note of indole, which becomes green orange-flower leaves - not the petitgrain I had imagined. These novelties give some passing interest, and the drydown is nice on bare skin, but on the whole I find it a bit chemical, and a bit clunky at times.

To me, Meme recalls the poster drawn by El Lissitzky, Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge (Klinom Krasnim if you want to search it) and their fruity oriental is l'Artisan's Red Wedge, except it's purple.
11th December, 2020

VIP for Men by Giorgio Beverly Hills

A low sweet rumble with a glint of steel.
07th December, 2020

Véga by Guerlain

Jacques Guerlain was old enough to retire when Véga was released. It was one of his last works, but even so, it's still beautiful. A wonderfully delicate rose with an iris bouquet; aldehydes at the top, animalics in the bottom, and a slight fruitiness - although fruity notes aren't listed. The base is a soft oriental, which may have been influenced by Shalimar Eau de Cologne - released the same year as Véga.

The version I have is the 2005 re-issue, which feels like it has Jean-Paul Guerlain's fingerprints on it. There's a sour edge to the opening that goes against the grain of the main body. It reminds me of J-P's Vetiver Guerlain.
But despite the tinkering, Véga is still an accomplished work; subtle, allusive, hard to pin down.

The name is interesting, Vega is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra, named after the lyre of Orpheus. He was the bard of Greek myth, who had the power to enchant with his music and poesy. Wikipedia says Opheus is portrayed, or referred to in countless forms of art and popular culture including poetry, film, opera, music, and painting. Someone should add perfumery to the list.
04th December, 2020

Tumulte pour Homme by Christian Lacroix

Cedar, aromatics and incense make for a thin attempt at minimalism. It doesn't really work because the aromatic smells cheap and the timbre is off.
03rd December, 2020

Chanel Pour Monsieur Concentrée by Chanel

Like having the perfect menu, and some numptie comes along and swaps the white wine for cola.
02nd December, 2020 (last edited: 03rd December, 2020)

Terre d'Hermès Parfum by Hermès

Terre is an abstraction of mineral, citrus, amber and woody. And here, the lead is nudged towards green with a vegetal note of perilla.
The balance shifts from brighter and fresher to deeper and fuller.
The profile is more complex, and rounded, as though Terre has come of age, going from youthful Eau de Toilette to mature Parfum.

This is no way just a flanker, it's as good or even better than the original, the jewel in Ellena's crown.

02nd December, 2020

Ivoire (original) by Pierre Balmain

At first sight it may seem that Ivoire is just what it says on the tin, an ivory coloured aldehyde. But look closer and it's like a pointilliste painting where blobs of colour blend to give an impression from a distance. Green, banana, rosy, biscuit, woody, moss, raspberry and musk all combine to give a multifarious impression that changes like creamy shot silk.
Subtle and clever work.
01st December, 2020

Castelbajac Homme Cool by Jean-Charles Castelbajac

Seeing that English is the modern lingua franca, French youth have adopted certain words into their slang - thinking it gives them some caché.
Cool is one of them, and it wouldn't be out of place to hear someone say C'est un homme cool, He's a cool guy. But they have to be careful because cool sounds like cul, the French word for arse.

This grapefruit, aromatic and woody amber is the latest blue masculine to hit the shelves. It's shallow and synthetic and goes from screechy head to powdery base faster than a boy racer in his pimped up Skoda.
In other words it's complete crap.
Homme Cul.
28th November, 2020 (last edited: 29th November, 2020)

Cialenga by Balenciaga

A blancmange rose on a dusty chypre base.

3*

Carded sample of pure perfume
25th November, 2020