Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Funwithfrags

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Total Reviews: 309

Milk Musk by Molton Brown

An obvious and interesting comparison for this scent is the near-namesake "Milky Musk" by Parle Moi de Parfum. While I don't think that Milk Musk is quite in the same league as that, it is nonetheless good and I imagine those comparing the two might well come down 50/50 in terms of preference.

Just a quick word by way of introduction, though: I've been aware of Molton Brown for the best part of 20 years, and while they've always produced good-quality shower gels and the like, often in excellent packages for gifts, I don't recall them selling any personal perfumes - and certainly not worthwhile ones - until recently. Over the last few years, though, they've come up with a whole range of interesting scents that deserve scrutiny. These are variously EDTs and EDPs, largely follow the formulations of their other products (though perhaps not uniformly), and are kind of priced to be in that "kind of niche / high street / toiletry" segment - more expensive than L'Occitane, not as exclusive as Czech & Speake. A 100ml EDT is often 85 GBP when at retail, whereas an EDP of the same volume is generally 120 GBP. Given my experience with trying many of these in-store, with that long experience of the high street shops, it seems to me that the release of these perfumes has had the effect of making the entire brand proposition somewhat more alluring. So I would say well done for not dumbing down or diluting the brand, which is a common move nowadays.

MM comes in both EDT and EDP editions; I am writing about the EDT although the EDP bottle is pictured above. It's a little like wearing a creme brulee: sweet, creamy and completely comforting. Whereas the Parle scent uses musk and sandalwood (perhaps the better way of arriving at this outcome), Molton Brown make much of tonka, as well as a slightly resinous feel. As a result I feel the Parle has a little more texture to it and a slightly more satisfying outcome. However, that is the production of a genuinely niche house. I suppose what I am getting at is that, for a brand familiar to many high streets to think of conceiving and executing a scent like this, is a real win. Excellent longevity and a good pick for a dismal British winter's day.
08th January, 2021

Colonia Leather by Acqua di Parma

Not sure why I've never reviewed this before, having tried many times, largely on holiday in airports, local shops and the like. But now Christmas has brought me a 180ml bottle so it should be a companion for some time - no bad thing given the replacement of this whole brown bottle series for a new set.

So, if you can imagine something a bit like Tuscan Leather and something very much related to the other old brown bottle colognes from AdP, you're pretty much there. Do those scents from AdP have some kind of common base? It certainly smells like that to me?

In any case Colonia Leather has a strange reversal going on where what you would imagine the fixatives to be appear early and the designated top notes come in later. My first impression is of smoky guaiac wood - a really good instance of this. After a couple of hours the other woods emerge and by the time of the drydown, leather, rose and dry citrus are all evident. That last phase is very much in the realms of Tuscan Leather, and although I kind of prefer the smoky opening, it's robust enough and hugely pleasant at all points. Very wearable, even versatile, and has excellent longevity. In fact, the day two experience is very good indeed. Lovely bottle and packaging makes for a genuinely niche experience.
03rd January, 2021

Pacific Rock Moss by Goldfield & Banks

A nice oceanic opening gives way to deadly dull Eau d'Aeroport. And it's no great shakes in performance terms. Possibly worthy of a negative rating, but I have to find positives somewhere at the end of 2020.
22nd December, 2020
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Theseus by Lorenzo Villoresi

Opens as an unusual, robust floral, quickly overtaken by pepper and juniper (not listed?). Other notes come in pleasingly, as if in an orchestra, gradually building up a cadence. Frankly, I don't detect half the notes, but the impression in terms of accords is of a fresh, slightly resinous, and slightly spicy masculine.

It doesn't seem to last long on me. But it goes on so languorously, and is put together so well, I can forgive it. Really, it must be made for warmer weather. Winter layers are anathema to this kind of thing. I'd take it on holiday, no problem.
23rd November, 2020

Tokyo by Gallivant

A fresh, pepper-heavy scent. At least pepper is what I chiefly get, with other notes, also famed for olfactory or culinary heat, not that prominent. Gallivant does florals well and I would describe this as a largely spice-driven scent, supported and bolstered by florals and amber. It has an excellent sillage trail.

Having never been to Tokyo I cannot speak as to the success of this eponymous fragrance in evoking its spirit. What I can say is that one can still buy Ted Baker's XO Men, which is near identical and not much inferior to Tokyo if memory serves, for about 15 GBP for 100ml, as opposed to Tokyo's 65 GBP for 30ml. I know which I'd buy, hence the neutral rating here.
15th November, 2020

Amsterdam by Gallivant

So far, so good from this label, which manages to pull off scents that are not only of good quality but also artistically satisfying, composed skilfully, and have a coherence with their itinerant theme.

Amsterdam is for the most part a floral backed up by a musky, woody base. The opening is rather synthetic, but not in an unpleasant, screechy way, and has some of the Escentric Molecules feel to it. Of course, you can't have Amsterdam without tulips, and there is a fresh tulip note which lasts throughout. If anything, you might say that there is too much an emphasis here, really ram-rodding that point home - we're in Holland folks - but it's not a problem to my nose. Wood and musk weave in and out as companion notes.

A very satisfying scent that won't suit everyone, I am sure, but I got something out of it.
14th November, 2020

Colonia Ambra by Acqua di Parma

On application, CA betrays a definite sense of the house style of AdP, at least in their brown-bottled offerings. This is something like a powdery, hesperic-woody accord, that is a little on the synthetic side - but rather good synthetic, and hard to mistake once you've had a bit of practice.

Beyond that, I have to agree with reviewers here who see little concerning amber present. CA gives off a strong rose note and is pleasant in a dark kind of way. But as it doesn't go anywhere, as the Oud and Leather variants do so well, it has a slightly unfinished vibe about it. It receives a neutral rather than positive rating because it certainly suffers by comparison with the terrific stablemates mentioned.
26th October, 2020

Explorer by Montblanc

I came into this testing with very low expectations. And although they were kind of met, with Explorer very much betraying the designed-by-accountants kind of vibe I thought would be there, there are some positives, if that's not stating things too strongly.

Although there is a strong ambroxan presence, it's not overpowering. There is a decent savoury-herbal opening. And although many of most alluring designated notes are laughably absent, the drydown is fairly coherent, making for a dark, taut masculine that's at least wearable.

Worse than Aventus, better than Sauvage, identical to a whole series of other designer scents tenuously connected to the outdoors - all check.
12th October, 2020

Beat Café by Jusbox

This one is a bit like coming home for me. I was expecting something similar to Je Suis Un Homme, that is, a leather scent with cognac overtones. In fact, part of me was expecting a bit more, as I'm not that keen on the bigarade note in JSUH, so I break it out fairly seldom although I'm a fan of the whole composition. Beat Cafe omits this note and I liked the look of the sweet and spicy accords listed.

And I would say my hopes were met. There is an initial pepper and cognac opening before the leather and tobacco come in. I'm purring long before the drydown. I think this had some of the listed notes. I kind of don't care. It develops slowly at this stage, but it's done enough. And it lasts and lasts, especially on clothes.

A little bit more rugged than JSUH, a little less polished. Less Napoleon emerging from the boudoir with a lackey brushing his lapels; more the smell of Kerouac's fingertips as he finishes the last paragraph of "On the Road". Beat Cafe delivers exactly what I want in a leather.
10th October, 2020

Perfecto Fino by Czech & Speake

Posting my comments on a thread as review:

There is a nice opening of citrus and grass. It has a very outdoors feel to it. There are some smoky notes just after this reminding me of putting different kinds of wood on a barbecue. Spices and tobacco comes later, but I don't detect leather. I do feel that the grass and smoke are very well done.

After a while the drydown on exposed skin is a little faint but a very pleasing tobacco and sandalwood. However, I still get the spices from under my shirt and these are not so good, a little stale and a little flaccid.

A few observations: it's interesting that the overtly cigar-box themed PF doesn't include cedar, which is a staple of the genre.

I think a lot of people will like this, but on one wearing I wouldn't buy it myself. For half the price you could buy Je Suis Un Homme. For another £30 or so you can buy Derby.

It's also interesting that C&S evidently think that they can have Perfecto Fino and Spanish Cedar in the same collection and sell both. For me, although not completely similar, they operate in the same space. SC has more birch tar than smoke and (for me) has more coherence with fewer ingredients; it's also a bit stronger. PF has more breadth. Perhaps C&S have a loyal enough clientele and they know what they like. But if you're only an occasional shopper at this price point, I'd choose Spanish Cedar.

Finally, the variations in price of the C&S parfums are quite interesting. They range from £95 to £160. Spanish Cedar is £130, Perfecto Fino £150. Are they trying to give us some indication of what it costs to produce these scents?

Could have been great but far too flabby for me to countenance.
05th October, 2020

Terre d'Hermès by Hermès

The world needs another review of Terre like it needs a hole in the ozone layer, so I'll keep it brief: citrus doesn't get much better than this. Immediate warmth and ongoing freshness. Yes, it does fulfil the "earth" brief. I don't think this will get old any time soon.
25th September, 2020

Duc de Vervins by Houbigant

A nicely balanced and well composed fougere with all the right notes (pace Morecambe and Wise) played at a regrettably remote distance.

15th September, 2020

Istanbul by Gallivant

On first smelling, my immediate thought was, "what a pleasant, well-supported oud scent". It's therefore interesting to see that no oud is listed in the ingredients. There's certainly a heavy-ish spicy resonance (perhaps resin-ance) to it. It doesn't change much over the course of the day, but it really is consistent. In composition it hits a lots of Goldilocks zones, being "just right" along many parameters. Prominent notes are vanilla, myrrh, and patchouli. It probably works as a genuine unisex, and might be recommended for those who like the idea of oud but find the real thing oppressive.
10th September, 2020
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Cedrat Boise by Mancera

This is certainly powerful for a cedrat-driven scent. I have to say, though, I'm not sure I remember L'Occitane's cedrat EDT being ever so different from CD in its overall composition. Consistent, strong sillage, if that's what you're after. In my view, it's the cedrat note that sets this composition apart from cheaper scents.

It is a little disturbing that it stays fresh for quite this long. I find it linear, unremarkable, but there's something endearing in just how much Mancera has put in for the punters.
08th September, 2020

Jaspé by Téo Cabanel

I don't really like doing this to a house whose samples I've generally been enjoying for their 3-d assertiveness and occasional originality. I'm having to force myself, for instance, not to drop money on the excellent Barkhane.

Jaspe, however, is a very different experience over several testings. For a start, the opening is rather confused to my nose, with citrus and lavender in discord. Then "fern" comes in - fougere territory? Not really. This is a nice accord but it doesn't connect effectively with anything else. For anyone reading the note profile and expecting a robust masculine once the basenotes come in, this is further disappointment, as the contours of these notes are largely absent, making for a rather smooth and contrastless effect.

And for a final downer, the whole thing is rather subdued. So this is not the negative review that is deserved when evident cynicism or design by committee is detected. Rather, in this reviewer's opinion there are failures of composition, vision, and performance here. I expected a lot more.
05th September, 2020

Cedar Woodpecker / 10 by Parle Moi de Parfum

Two notes only are listed: cedar and iris. However, it's not quite that simple: the marketing suggests "a blend of different cedarwood essences". There's no further explanation but it does help explain why the cedar CW is somewhat hard to place. Iris, on the other hand, has not been a favourite note of mine but can be used to good effect.

The point stands that when you list (and compose with) two notes, you need them to do something interesting,or hope that they speak for themselves in terms of quality. I would cautiously submit that CW does both. The scent seems to have been concocted with good quality raw materials, providing excellent sillage and longevity on my skin. Despite the unavoidable conclusion that what you see is what you get, I do find a worthwhile development during the lifetime of the scent, which could be described as the move from freshness to opulence. The early stages speak of freshly cut wood and florals, with little in the way of accepted top notes. It then purrs along for a while before both accords go through the gears and provide a more luxurious, date-night kind of feel. The success of CW in one sense is to make the two accords work together so well.

The composition is warm, detailed, and very well balanced. At the end of its life CW does seem to want to turn into Tom Ford Noir, which is a little disconcerting but, given that it's taken all the right turns in getting there, I can forgive it when it arrives at such a mainstream conclusion. And it's more like Cuir Cannage for more of the time, so it gains approval.
01st September, 2020

Uomo by Lorenzo Villoresi

It's hard to think of an insightful analogy to express my experience of LVU, so I'll keep it straight. There are some very good notes here and others that are a little incongruous. This might have achieved a resolution with longer life on the skin, but the duration is next to nothing and so the resolution never transpires. The incongruity comes from the strong herbal notes of laurel and juniper weaving in and out of the composition in its early stages.

Apparently, the last thing Edgar Allan Poe wrote was an extremely short horror story. It's generally thought to be incomplete, but some have pointed out that it does a job in its extant form. We can't, though, know what might have come next. That's my experience here. What there is does a job, but one that is mostly to intrigue rather than satisfy.

So the general admiration here is a little strange to me. It's not all bad, though; I found my analogy in the end.
01st September, 2020

Barkhane by Téo Cabanel

As other reviewers have noted, Barkhane is not that original - at least, not for those who are used to sampling niche scents. This is a sub-Amouage effort, for people who want some of that East/West interaction with a discernibly lower price tag. There's certainly not much like this on the high street.

Out of the box and on first spray I had it categorised as a woody oriental (the Cabanel web site corroborates this), but there is a smoothness that speaks of amber. An initial freshness leads to a papery woody accord. This settles down to a terrific mid-life accord where the discernible spices cohere excellently with a touch of oud.

A good, dry/warm wood-driven scent that avoids many of the pitfalls such scents can fall into. Would be good for regular casual wear in the warmer months.
30th August, 2020 (last edited: 01st September, 2020)

Eight & Bob by Eight & Bob

The opening of 8&B is a little disconcerting: alongside the usual fleeting opening notes is a strong spicy gingerbread accord. It gives the impression of an "all-at-once" affect, like those food fights in movies where the protagonists just slam anything that comes to hand into the nearest face. There is then a thankfully brief hint of jellybean. That wears off quickly, but then the inevitable dawns: most of the reviewers here are right. At this point in history, E&B really does smell like any amount of contemporary cheap-and-by-numbers efforts. If we try it again in twenty years, will this association have dimmed? Perhaps.

To its credit, the base notes come through prominently and clearly, and it lasts well. I just can't think of a comparison it doesn't suffer from. For the list prices I can see, this is certainly an also-ran.
29th August, 2020

Eau d'Hadrien Eau de Toilette by Annick Goutal

I liked this from the opening. A bracing, aromatic cologne with hints of fougere. Cypress and perhaps rosemary very evident in the beginning. This dies away to a deceptively long-lasting citrus with the support of aldehydic florals. Such a challenge to get those citric notes to last this long, but that's the artifice here. A new favourite cologne? Well, it could have been, but for some reason the FWF household did not approve nearly as much as I did. I think for the same reason I liked it: some early doors rough edges and contours. Could it be considered a touch old-fashioned? Perhaps, but not many scents so successfully evoke the Mediterranean as does this. Light on and not great staying power, but that's most colognes for you.

I note a lot of buts and hedging here. I don't care.
27th August, 2020

London by Gallivant

After a few days of wear I have this down as a freshie and simply don't detect much if any of what is supposed to be in the basenotes of this scent. As with other reviewers I have been used to getting a complex development from this house's scents and this one doesn't delivery for me in the same way. It is a good, interesting scent as far as it goes, and is a decent wear on a summer's day. But it doesn't go as far as I would like. Can't do more than a neutral for something I expected more from.

Oh, and it's the other end of London to where I'm from.

Cucumber accord and good rose accords.
25th August, 2020

masculin Pluriel by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

To be honest, I find the opening of masculin (lower case?) Pluriel a bit of a mess. It smells fine - that is to say, pleasant - but it doesn't have any of the gaps, the rise and fall, of classic fougeres. This puts all the notes out there at once.

The drydown is fairly well done and there is a strong and effective lavendar accord that pulls the scent, not only together, but within the boundaries of the genre.

It's just a bit boring. It doesn't add to the fougere genre at all, in my view. And I kind of get on with those reviewers who think this is a bit too "modern".
18th August, 2020

Papyrus Oud / 71 by Parle Moi de Parfum

I've tried a few of these PMdP scents over the course of my holiday and the themes that seem to be emerging are of somewhat linear scents missing traditional top notes, but with good performance and everything speaking of high quality basic materials. Another theme is that I consistently pick up fewer notes than listed (apart from the specifically minimal Milk Musk).

PO is a case in point. There is definitely a woody accord, definitely a patchouli note for spice, and discernible incense. However, I do not detect oud, nor any of the listed comestible accords. There is something that provides an overall smoothness and sweetness that offsets what might otherwise be an overly dry and arid scent, so there is some skilful composition going on.

I don't have any compunction about giving a thumbs up here, but I would say that on this evidence, if you want to enjoy PMdP scents, you will need to get on with a particular kind of minimalism in terms of accords and development that relies upon the evolution of these few notes to keep interest, as opposed to following the transition of one set of discrete notes to another.
14th August, 2020

Milky Musk / 39 by Parle Moi de Parfum

A very nice musk and sandalwood scent, very comforting and enveloping in all the best ways, with the odd minimalism that I am coming to expect from this brand. Possibly a touch of Philosykos about it. Good stuff.
09th August, 2020

L'Insoumis by Lalique

I've had this on for about 10 minutes and already it's clear that I have about as much understanding of this linear, phoned-in scent as I need. In a word, depressing. A brief fresh opening utterly bypasses any of the aromatics I was expecting and hoping for and goes straight for the "cashmere wood" that doesn't appear in the note profile here but is prominant on the sample break-down. Is there also a touch of that lineny, shorthand-for-freshness violet leaf? A pale imitation of other fragrances that I don't care for anyway. Lalique has done much, much better than this.
09th August, 2020

Café Cabanel by Téo Cabanel

The listed notes suggest an absolute melange, as many gourmand notes as one could possibly fit into a scent. As a result it's not a terribly serious fragrance, but to my nose, this is no worse than the likes of Angel, Bond No. 9, or Valentino. The quality is at least on a par with many of these.

CC opens with a bright tangerine with an instant whiff of creamy notes. The remainder is very stable and does not develop for many hours. The end of the drydown is a comforting gourmand, cocoa-heavy, with a hint of musk. This is not a favourite genre of mine but this last stage is enjoyable. Overall I find CC a little overwrought and overworked, but nice enough for what it is. For a better review, you'll just have to find someone more interested in it than I am.
13th July, 2020

Marcel by Marie Jeanne

Interesting that this is described as a unisex scent when its stablemate, Marcelle, so clearly bears the French feminised version of the name. Well, whatever pleases you.

Marcel itself is what I would describe as a fairly traditional cologne with a definite French touch of flair to it. There are the usual fleeting citrus notes that give way to a heft dose of ylang. The base notes are bolstered by sage from the heart, although I would hesitate to say there's anything approaching leather here. The dry down is familiar to the genre, but ever so slightly sweet and ever so slightly balsamic.

I'm a little confused as to who would wear this and why, but it's pretty well done for what it is. Personally I prefer my colognes more austere and with fewer notes, but on the basis that I may never come here again, credit where it's due.
09th June, 2020

Chypre-Siam by Rogue Perfumery

I think I'm at the end of my Rogue journey, and it's been a good one. Not sure if I've covered all the releases in review, but I was leaving this one to near the end. Sadly, my last 0.5 ml or so seems to have gone missing, so this is partly from memory. I hope it turns up.

In short, Chypre-Siam is just magnificent. I'm not in the market for a chypre right now, and if I had the money to spare I'd be buying Tabac Vert and Fougere l'Aube from this house without a pause. But Chypre-Siam is, for me, the artistic high point of Rogue's current offering. It's right up there with Pour Monsieur EPD and Eau Sauvage EDP in the genre. In fact, I think I like this better. The green opening is complex and fresh. The heart is woody and assertive. And as the last act, some animalic notes thread through the mix to give a leathery and somewhat dirty sign-off. When we're allowed to again, this fulfils the office-to-night brief admirably.

And - get this - I received compliments when wearing this. You know what I mean by compliments: when someone unbidden says something pleasant or positive; as opposed to tapping someone on the shoulder and shoving your forearm up their nose. So this could be you, too, should you wear C-S. And the quality... it just shows that ignoring the rules can be a sign of vision, rather than a test of vision.
31st May, 2020

Champs Lunaires by Rogue Perfumery

I don't have that much of a point of reference for Champs Lunaires, and with it seeming more of a feminine not something I would go for again, but as usual it's been interesting to try it.

It opens up into a milky, abstract floral, and develops over the course of a day into a more creamy sandalwood drydown. The florals accompany it to the end and it makes for a pleasant wear on a hot day, which we're having plenty of in the UK right now.

Overall, it feels like a genteel, ladylike scent for those who want to get off the beaten track a little.
31st May, 2020

Flos Mortis by Rogue Perfumery

Decent indolic scent with a surprisingly pleasant (given the theme) and sweet musky drydown. A rare footnote-quality experience from this house.
27th May, 2020