Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Wild Gardener

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Total Reviews: 470

Aqua Fahrenheit by Christian Dior

A modern Fahrenheit with watery nuance and ambery bass line.

3*+

Store decant
15th August, 2020

Eau Mohéli by Diptyque

Balsamic spicy drone.

Not to be confused with a fungicide of the same name.

2*

Used vapo with no box
13th August, 2020

Un Jardin en Méditerranée by Hermès

There is a variety of fig called Brown Turkey, and that's what this reminds me of.

A dark, suprisingly sombre creation, this is more a still life than a sunlit garden.

Méditerranée was the first and heaviest of the gardens, and the fact that it wasn't included in a box set suggests Hermès don't think it's one of the best.

I find it gets cloying with a bitter syrupy fruitiness.

3*

Carded vapo sample
10th August, 2020
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Sport Jil Sander for Women by Jil Sander

Green apple, and a Hot Pink spicy floral. This second one may sound rather sexy but being a sport fragrance it's more fun loving than seductive.

Add to that suggestions of an aquatic fougère, and a woody base, and you've got something that's far from a typical feminine. This isn't a crossover or a mixed scent though, Sport for Women is a different kind of feminine. It's a pink fruity floral that doesn't try to smell like eye candy or seduce 'fellas'.

Having certain masculine traits, a deep spiciness and a tonic breeze, Sport for Women asserts itself as equal to men, but after that, it seems to ignore them completely. It's a perfume for women who wear perfume for women. All power to its elbow.

3*+

Carded vial
08th August, 2020

Aqua Mysteri by Le Couvent des Minimes

There's nothing mysterious about this grapefruit and orange flower cologne. It starts with a sweet aromatic zing, and then proceeds to a thick and powdery orange flower.

That's ok in itself but there is a problem. For the first couple of hours it smells chemical. Mysteri seems like a decent composition, but one that's been made on the cheap.

Le Couvent is a budget line and so that's only to be expected, but despite that, Mysteri still smells better than some designer things.

It's available in 10ml.

3*
31st July, 2020 (last edited: 05th August, 2020)

Grès Monsieur Sport by Grès

Cutting aromatic
and
clean cigarette filter.

*

Half used sample in plastic mini bottle.
I should have known...
20th July, 2020

Parfum d'Été by Kenzo

Doe-eyed pink fruity floral, with
sour green muguet and woods.

Parfum d'été starts off quite well, with plenty of nuances, but after that it doesn't go on to explore the contrasts between the two halves. Instead, it takes the safe route to floral cuteness, and - by dumbing down, fails to meet it's full potential.

More dissonance would have made it a more interesting perfume, in my opinion.

3*

Unboxed mini, 2002 version
18th July, 2020

Clair de Jour by Lanvin

A dull blend of herbal-orange head
and dry creamy woods.
And the juice is very weak.

If you Do want a creamy aldehydic, try Ivoire (1980). It's better and easier to find.

2*

Carded sample
16th July, 2020

Good Life by Davidoff

Good Life draws on the Fig Tree genre invented by
Olivia Giacobetti
but Good Life is more than just a fig tree.

Good Life takes the fig tree and zings it up with grapefruit and blackcurrant, the same notes that Calice Becker put into her transcendent What about Adam the year before.

This makes Good Life a combination of vibrant head, fruity fig and powdery-woody-leaves.
A lime green hybrid, it soars beyond the limits of naturalism, twisting its theme into abstract odours that keep you guessing :
what is that? ... is it a fig tree?

Yes it is
and no it's not,

it's an image of a fig tree,
with other plants around
and soil and shade below;
a perfume garden.

4*

Several miniatures
14th July, 2020 (last edited: 27th July, 2020)

Bleu Marine by Pierre Cardin

A fruity powerhouse fougère with an airy aquatic note, Bleu Marine was the precursor of Cool Water, New West for Men and the whole aquatic movement.

But Bleu Marine lacked the courage of its convictions and was a muddled compromise, a bit like like Safari for Men with a sea breeze.

The modern version which is made by Coty has got nothing to do with it, and is a cheap supermarket scent to be avoided.

4* / 2*

BMdC has a design like the outline of three ships, or three sails on the box.
11th July, 2020 (last edited: 27th July, 2020)

Kenzo pour Homme by Kenzo

It's impossible to write about Kenzo pour Homme without referring to Cool Water.
Not that Kenzo pour Homme is a Cool Water clone, it isn't.

It Is an aquatic, but Kenzo pH is lighter and more streamlined than Cool Water. And because the profile is thinner the chemical feel of the aquatics tends to come out more. Christian Mathieu gets around this by adding a gently sweet and rubbery accord - which cushions the effect but still doesn't hide the theme. The result being that Kenzo pour Homme is more discrete, and more benign than CW; an aquatic with a human face.

Because of this, Kenzo pour Homme was probably the first aquatic to break away from the Cool Water mould and present its own take on the theme; with its 'Zen' response to Cool Water, Kenzo moved the genre forward.

If Cool Water is New Wave, Kenzo was the Seventh Wave.

4*

I have two different types of sample, a tree bottle mini without box, and a vial housed in a slim wood-grain box. Their profiles are close but not identical. The tree is a little sweeter and heavier. A difference in base notes like this can't be due to age degradation, the formulas must be different.
10th July, 2020 (last edited: 27th July, 2020)

1881 Sport by Cerruti

1881 gets the spiky wood treatment.

2*

Carded sample spray
08th July, 2020

Eau de Narcisse Bleu by Hermès

There is a certain type of gardener; an obsessive who grows nothing but auriculas, and who shows them - one to a pot - in a black painted case called a theatre.

With his blue narcissus (a plant that doesn't exist in nature) Jean-Claude Ellena was doing something akin to the auricula fanatic.

When compared with the garden series, you can see how the Hermès Eaux have been stripped right down. All the surrounding baggage has been removed, and, with two or three chords, the subject has been honed down till it reaches abstraction.

In Narcisse Bleu, narcissus, orange flower and galbanum are put under the microscope. It's quite linear, with no head accord, but there are contrasts to keep it going : bitter & sweet, humid & dry, and in the opposite sense there's the harmony of yellow & green that (sort of) makes blue.

Despite the strange colour, the illusion of a living flower comes across thanks to the humid-grainy texture of photo-realistic pollen, which plays an important part in the smell of real narcissus. So, even though this is a fantasy creation, it's a realistic fantasy.

Some while later, the profile develops a brown note which comes from the barnyard side of narcissus absolute - as well as from woods in the base - and here Ellena chose to follow the materials. He let the fantasy push his work in a perfumistic direction. Not because he's a gardener with dirt under his nails who want's to celebrate one of his rare blooms; on the contrary, Ellena is an artist who takes slices of nature, cleans them up, and serves them to his public as floral gems.


With this fantasy creation, Ellena is playing with the line between reality and abstraction; nature and culture. But that doesn't make him just a philosopher in his ivory tower (although I suspect he's something of the penseur), he's also a canny craftsman with a sense of what sells. And so we have Narcisse Bleu, a perfume that is creative and commercial alike, a good perfume.

4*

Carded spray sample










06th July, 2020 (last edited: 15th August, 2020)
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Blue Encens by Comme des Garçons

Blue Encens starts in a modern synthetic style :
'frozen spices', aromatics and sweet amber; and there's a ton of Iso E. There's also an incense overtone; but incense is just a note here and it doesn't really take the theme.
So because of the minor role the incense plays, I find the name is misleading : but then Blue Iso E Super doesn't have the same ring to it.

Having said that, the profile is quite coherent in the early stages - even if it's not really my cup of tea - but as time goes on, a thick oriental fills out the body and the modern feeling is subdued. There's nothing wrong with that in itself, but I think the synthetic vibe doesn't work with an old fashioned oriental.

And because the two halves clash (rather than creating a pleasing dynamic tension) the profile gets a bit confused, and it doesn't quite work.

3*

Mini spray
04th July, 2020 (last edited: 27th July, 2020)

Eternity for Men Aqua by Calvin Klein

Aqua begins with a sharp liquid burst of cucumber, piment and grapefruit.

And then coming up behind this are aromatic, sweet & fruity notes, and a powdery-woody base, which coalesce into something like washed-up Tommy.

Testing these two head to head, it's clear that Aqua is quite shy, and much weaker than Tommy. It's also a bit cheapo and synthetic, but that's the nature of the beast with marine scents.

With nothing too good - or bad to shift the dial, Aqua would have got three stars. But it loses half a star for being a front loaded aquatic on top of a weak fougère, and, because it's too much of a Tommy clone.

2*+

20ml travel spray in the shape of a fat credit card, the most interesting thing about it.
02nd July, 2020 (last edited: 27th July, 2020)

Léonard Eau Fraîche by Léonard

A fleeting eau de cologne with a light chypre base.

4*

Boxed mini, 5ml.

A little faded now, but still good.
01st July, 2020

5th Avenue by Elizabeth Arden

CK clone.

3*

Mini flacon, no box, 3/10ml
28th June, 2020

Drakkar Dynamik by Guy Laroche

Dynamik was a failure, apparently.

It didn't fail because it was a blob of sweet gunge with spiky notes, or, because the fruity-woody theme was banal, Dynamik failed because it was ahead of its time.

It was released at the end of the nineties but, after a decade of aquatics, Dynamik still bore the marks of Cool Water: fruity, mossy, ozone. But Dynamik was also trying out a new - and related - style, the spiky woods, which would later find it's hero in Sauvage (2015).

In 1999, with Millennial angst in the air, it seems that people were not ready for an aggressive new style, even in this relatively mild form. Scanning the other releases from the year there seems to be nothing resembling a spiky woods, just a few aquatics and sport fragrances. In fact the whole year was pretty low key, with one or two exceptions.

Dynamik seems to have been out on a limb in this spiky-aquatic zone, and with poor sales, and no critical mass to back it up in the market, Guy Laroche decided to pull the plug.

If Dynamik were released today it would probably pass, but with little comment, except maybe to note it's got a salty-aquatic feel. I imagine many punters would see it as just another sweet, fruity and piquant fougère in the Sauvage style.

To give credit where it's due, Dynamic was - and I hate to say this - a noble failure. It wasn't noble because it was a good and deserving scent that failed, it was nothing of the sort; it was hackneyed and boring. Dynamik was noble because it bravely tried to innovate in a conservative market, but it did so at the wrong time, and half heartedly, and then suffered the consequences that flowed from these mistakes.
So, pathetic might be a better adjective...

Sadly, the new style that Dynamik flirted with was the spiky woods, which may have been a failure in '99 but this mega-shouty style has caught on in a big way, as anyone for miles around could tell you if you wore it.

Dynamik is interesting as a lesson on how the aquatic merged into the spiky-woods, but that doesn't mean it's something I would want to smell in the street, ever.

**

Vapo, no card, unused
25th June, 2020

Les Nuits d'Hadrien by Annick Goutal

Sweet patchouli flanker of Eau d'Hadrien. Clever. Not sure it works though.

***

Cardless vial, part used
24th June, 2020

L'Eau de Sonia Rykiel by Sonia Rykiel

Cool Water Woman clone.

3*

Vial in blue plastic case
22nd June, 2020

Happy by Clinique

Clinique's answer to CK One.
The same kind of thing but
less bright, more orange
and not so good.

3*

Carded vial
20th June, 2020

Silvestre by Victor

Evergreen forest cologne with a pink and flowery heart.

Give me Pino Silvestre, or Colonia - Acqua di Parma
but not both at the same time.

3*

Vintage miniature with no box
16th June, 2020 (last edited: 10th July, 2020)

Jungle pour Homme by Kenzo

This Sonata for Three Woods is a strange beast. It opens with a fizzy and very sweet Atlas Cedar (which I think smells of urinal Cake), and this is modulated through the amber-like tones of Gaiac wood; and then the profile moves on to the ordinary dry woodiness of Cedarwood.
This may not sound like much, but it's one of the strangest woody scents you could ever hope to smell.

At the start it's bizarre, and just too sweet, but as time goes on it gets more ordinary, and salubrious, 'til you want to know every detail, every texture of what it's got to say; he's a real Silver-tongued Charmer - as an Ozzie friend once put it.

With that weird smell of toilet bowl and toffee, Jungle Homme was too Leftfield to survive a conservative world like men's perfume. But, its spirit lives on in Pi (1999) which took the ambience and gave it an orange glow. But Pi didn't pick up on the bitter undercurrent, the crucial part of JH that stops it getting sickly and gac.

As far as I can tell, Jungle Homme has nothing to do with Zebras.

4*

Impeccable boxed mini
15th June, 2020

L'Eau d'Issey pour Homme by Issey Miyake

There was something in the air in '94. With Monsoon, Blue Jeans and Voyageur, and aquatic flankers of Insensé and Quorum, it was a very wet year.
As well as these, there was of course the arrival of CK One and L'eau d'Issey pour Homme, two formative templates that changed the course of perfume for years to come. Aquatics were officially the new Black.

All of this happened a generation ago, so it's worth going over Issey pour Homme for those who don't remember it : sour citrus with milky-powdery woods, made masculine by spice - which is lightly sweet, a peppery overtone, green herbal nuance, white-lily flowers, the twang of calone.

Like its sister from '92 the masculine is thin and pale but powerful. It has more body than the femme and feels darker, and (as Bal a Versailles puts it) less 'technological'. They both have an amazing ability to project themselves from nowhere - like a ventriloquist.

Both Les eaux d'Issey are on the Parfumista's 101 List, required sniffing - even if they don't get worn that much. But, having said that, à chacun son eau. The Issey's are likely to have a cult following, being good heat-busters for the climate change summers we now get.

4*

Carded mini spray
12th June, 2020 (last edited: 20th June, 2020)

Jovan Musk for Men by Jovan

Sets my teeth on edge.

2*
10th June, 2020

Sì by Giorgio Armani

To Italians, Sì means yes.
In French however, it contradicts a negative but still means no.
For example :

- Il n'y a rien de mauvais avec ce parfum.
- Si. Il me fait mal.

- There's nothing wrong with this perfume.
- You're joking! It hurts my nose.

A feminine spiky woods, trite and chemical.

*
09th June, 2020

White Linen by Estée Lauder

Sophia Grojsman's perfumes are characterised by two things : their rose-violet theme, and their structure based on methyl ionone, Iso E Super, Galaxolide and Hedione. It's a blend that bears her name, the Grojsman accord. (There's a video on YouTube explaining how it works.)

White Linen was Sophia Grojsman's first perfume, and it can be read as her manifesto.
It's a re-working of the rose-violet bouquet, which was popular in the Early Modern era of the 1890's. But here it's been done in a revolutionary new way, based around a massive synthetic structure that's quite unlike anything that existed in the time of mainly natural perfume. In effect she took an old genre and made it brand new again. The fact that White Linen is an aldehydic rose-jasmin - and it resembles No5 - makes it even more audacious. Grojsman was in effect squaring up to Ernest Beaux, just as she took on the male establishment at IFF, and showed them she was their equal.
And she has the imagination and skill to prove it.

White Linen is a rose-violet bouquet, fruity soft, and headed by an unctuous citrus-mandarin accord - as well as the aldehydes - and at the bottom there's a creamy and slightly woody foundation that smells a bit like clean laundry. And, because I tend to smell rose bouquets as pink, my mind always objects; to me this smells like Pink Linen... not white.

Sophia started as she meant to go on - with this superlative rose-violet, and since then the majority of her career has been involved in exploring the variations of this. As I wrote elsewhere, I think she is the Cézanne of perfumery, and not the Picasso that some have said, but there is no shame in this. Cézanne was the visionary, without whom there would have been no Cubism. And without Sophia Grojsman, there could have been no monumental style of synthetic perfumery, a style that was to be an important influence on the Eighties, and beyond.

But Grojsman was more than a revolutionary technician, she is a visionary artist. She is on record saying that, to her, perfume is music for people's souls. And if that's so, this is her choir of heavenly cherubim. Lovely.

4*+
08th June, 2020

Acqua di Selva by Visconti di Modrone

A head of pine, citrus & herbs, with geranium and a dark sous-bois that fills the room with spicy pink flowers.

Not bad, but not as refined as Acqua di Parma on the one side, and not to be confused with the mighty Pino Silvestre on the other.

3*

Victor mini, full, no box
07th June, 2020

Masculin Équateur by Bourjois

Brutal orange fougère.

2*
04th June, 2020

Oxygène by Lanvin

Alberto Morillas writes perfumes like other people write shopping lists; often, and by hand.
This one was a dry aquatic floral, rather front loaded but still not bad.

3*

Mini sprayer crudely stuck to the back of a lenticular card
which, as you move it around, shows three different states of a young woman: before, during, and after she has huffed up the Oxygène.
03rd June, 2020 (last edited: 04th June, 2020)