Perfume Reviews

Reviews by SubUmbra

Total Reviews: 15

Porter Sa Peau by Roberto Greco

Porter Sa Peau blows something quite salty at us from within a bed of musks. Earthy bouquets of hawthorn, angelica, and orris root shift from cool to warm in a puzzling display. There's a fascinating transference of energy that happens in this perfume which is unpredictable and rarely smelled.

The musks pervade from start to finish, progressing in textured stages from furry to slick, airy to powdery.

I initially worried that once the sharper, cooler aldehydes evaporated, all I'd be left with was a powder-bomb – something I'm not personally fond of. Thankfully, that kind of predictable transition doesn't happen here.

Instead, indolic jasmine picks up where the aldehydes left off, continuing that temperature push-and-pull with the warmth of ylang ylang and sandalwood. A slightly sweet and toasty grain note emerges deep in the later stages.
15th January, 2021

Carduus by Jorum Studio

The brand says this was inspired by childhood summers spent foraging in Scotland -- but to me, it's more akin to a late New England autumn.

Mind you, this is about as far away from a “pumpkin-spice-happy-fall-ya'll” fragrance as a perfume could be.

Instead, it depicts crunchy, half-degraded leaves; animalic incense tears; mildew-laden fruit baskets; phenolic hints at far-off smoke.

The perfume's story isn't that of the self-medicating, cinnamon-spiced revelries we humans hold at this time of year. It's more akin to the frenzied daily foragings squirrels have to conduct to prepare for what comes after autumn. A whimsical comparison for sure, but thoughts of gnawed tree bark, damp furry tails, and scattered acorn skins are so easily conjured when wearing this fragrance.
28th September, 2020

Patchouli Intense / Patchouli Homme by Nicolaï

This incredibly handsome patchouli-fougere-mousse fragrance is thick and rich as shaving cream. I call it a mousse fragrance because it very well may be just as much about the wet, well-lathered moss as it is about green patchouli. There's no earthiness to be found here: just a balance between long-lasting, creamy-fougere notes and the more minerally, vitamin-esque side of moss and geranium. Light vanilla peeks through toward the end. I often wear this to work, but sometimes, I even wear it when I'm having a stay-at-home day.
03rd December, 2019
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Skiff by Madhat Scents

I grew up in a New England seaside town, my father an avid skipper aboard our 36-foot Allmand cruiser, Starlight. Many summers were spent inside the musty galley of this vessel. Half-used bottles of WD-40; salt-cured fishing tackle; dusty curtains older than the boat itself -- these were the practical objects which decorated my father's home-away on the sea.

When I saw that Madhat had put out an ocean-inspired fragrance entitled "Skiff" -- the familiar marine term for a small, typically-rowed angular boat (think "The Old Man and the Sea") -- I had a feeling this might be for me. It turns out Skiff was a fulfilling blind buy, both from a fragrance appreciation standpoint and an emotional one.

There's an almost varnish-like quality akin to the astringent woody signature of a Slumberhouse, but much smoother and at home in this interpretation of an early-morning row on the water; the boat's wooden core coated with this season's layer of paint. A sharp melony note - what I believe to be Alcohol C-6 Hexanol or something similar - provides a nice contrast to the other, mostly mellow, materials.

Darker, berry-like fruit is also found, though this note goes through more of an evolution over time.

There's an underlying sweetness which isn't easily placed. My guess is immortelle or fenugreek for their maple-like quality. At first, this feels a little strange in tone with the rest of the notes, but taken in concert with them, the sweetness builds out a musty quality which really does remind me of the inner galley of our old boat (mind you, it was larger than a skiff).

My boating experience was exclusively in the New England North Atlantic, but Madhat's website places this fragrance just offshore of Havana. I was puzzled by this for the first hour or two, but now find the more this dries down, the more I agree with geographical placement: overripe melons and berries begin to ferment in the progressive heat of a subtropical morning; Cuban cigars balanced on the gunwale trim -- unsmoked and naturally sweet -- begin to wilt and unfurl their strands of tobacco. But mostly, the scent floats into a slightly-salty, slightly-musky synergy of ambergris and seaworn wood.

After my father's passing a few years ago, my mother and I decided to sell Starlight. She had been on stilts for more than a couple seasons; required far too much work; had antiquated controls often difficult for even my long-time Skipper of a father to work with; and ultimately became a financial liability. For a time after my father's passing, I viewed my time on board the Starlight as something I took for granted in the ignorance of my youth; an outlook shaded by my recent grief. On the day the movers came, I stood aboard it one last time, coming to terms with yet another loss, but climbed off feeling a sense of relief and acceptance that someone else now had the opportunity to forge memories in this craft that housed so many of mine.

In short, "Skiff"'s salty, musty elements bring me right back to the best of my youth, and I'm incredibly grateful for that. On its own, Skiff is a mellow, enjoyable wear that even someone in a landlocked state may appreciate.

Shot in the dark here, but if you enjoy Dodo by Zoologist, do consider Skiff!
25th June, 2019

Acqua di Sale by Profumum

We often wear perfumes for intensely personal (read: romanticized) reasons - quality be damned.

I'm personally glad to call Acqua di Sale a "quality" fragrance, but perhaps I'm doing so because it reminds me so fondly of growing up on the shores of the Northeastern United States.

Perhaps I feel such a close connection to this fragrance because I'm a self-professed "summer boiii" and love to love the warmth of sunshine and all the other romanticized cliches that go along with that.

Acqua di Sale is purely a wash of summertime memory and joy to me. Whether you find it to be of quality or not, I'll always want to wear this because I almost always want to experience heat and brine and cool waters and humid air and other scent memory.
09th April, 2019 (last edited: 15th April, 2019)

Vetiverus by Oliver & Co.

This is a dirty vetiver, akin to Encre Noir but more musky and earthy, plus what I can only assume is a heavy-handed dose of nagarmotha.

I have worked with nagarmotha before and, in my opinion, it is best used sparingly. Whatever is causing this scent to overpower the experience for me was clearly used too much for my taste, though fans of incredibly earthy vetivers will love this.

The opening is reminiscent of birdseed to me, and I can't get past that. A hint of something spicy in the deep drydown is very pleasant, if incredibly faint.
20th March, 2019

Dryad by Papillon Artisan Perfumes

We all have a note (or notes) that, for whatever reason, is amplified on our skin, for better or worse.

For my skin chemistry, orris is amplified for the worse.

Instead of a rich, powdery feel that others report from orris root, I receive a harsh, mega-perfumey note that overpowers everything else. The only orris/iris fragrance I've tried where that does not happen is Iris Rebelle by Atelier Colognes.

Unfortunately, my sensitivity to orris remains with "Dryad" -- however, when I really stick my nose down into it to smell the other elements, I find it to be an incredibly well-balanced and pleasing chypre. Those who do not share my orris affliction will likely have an even more well-balanced experience.

There is a (likely unintentional) note here that reminds me of cap-gun smoke. Yes, cap-gun smoke. In a good way.
18th December, 2018

Pardon by Nasomatto

I'm not sure that this is as complex to me as others find it, but it is indeed a well-balanced, rich, dark fragrance with a beautiful sandalwood note.

In fact, I would call this just as much a sandalwood frag as much as it is a chocolate or boozy one (in my opinion, it's more woody than boozy, especially in the drydown).

Very classy, almost old-school vibe. Smoother than any sandalwood frag I've smelled so far.
16th November, 2018

Tobacco Nuit by Atelier Cologne

This contends with any Amouage: strong from start to finish, this begins with a sweet, complex tobacco/citrus and ends with a drier tobacco plus a hint of smokey incense. Beautiful.
08th November, 2018

Rose Anonyme by Atelier Cologne

When I reach for a rose, there's two I always depend on: this, and Noir de Noir. But this is much more wearable day-to-day than the latter, which by contrast feels more dressy.

No, Rose Anonyme is far too balanced to come off as one extreme or another: it's a rose that's both juicy and dry; floral and resinous.

If you love rose as I do, this should be on your list if you haven't already tried it.
08th November, 2018

Iris Rebelle by Atelier Cologne

Iris Rebelle makes me feel incredibly happy. Unlike iris & orris bombs that smell too "perfumey" and cloying, this takes a spicier, peppery turn.

For my money, this is one of the best iris scents there is. It's piquant and memorable, but not too overbearing.

I get much better performance out of it than others have reported.
08th November, 2018

Cubano Gold by Victory International

I'm compelled to review this fragrance simply because of how hugely surprised I was by it. Buying this was simply a roller coaster: the box looked great, so I was confident in that... then the price, though shockingly cheap, made me wonder about its quality...when I got it home and looked at the kitschy nightmare that is the bottle, I was once again worried...only to find from following sprays that this is in fact a lovely evening "clean" scent with the most subtle tobacco hint. If you find it, buy two bottles: it's definitely inexpensive enough to warrant it.
08th October, 2018

Vientiane by Providence Perfume Co.

A true celebration of sandalwood - an easy choice for those who love the category.
29th August, 2018
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Fur by Madhat Scents

It's like a fire in Maine: salty, dense, and a little 'humid,' to account for the musks.

This is a scent that sticks with you for over 24 hours and evolves into a rich animalic over that time. The fun part is, you won't notice the musks until at least an hour or two after application.

Prior to those peeking out, you'll start to get hints of vanilla and spices, but those always hover in the back.

16th August, 2018

Rosa Resin Extrait de Parfum by Madhat Scents

What strikes me about this excellent rose fragrance is how it so readily bounces between refreshing and smokey. Yes, it is potent and deep and resin-y with a touch of smoke, but it also manages to refresh my nose each time I bring my wrist up.
15th August, 2018