Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Smell'dwell

Total Reviews: 26

Derby by Guerlain

TLDR: (Reviewing the current formulation, black wood framed bottle with white lettering, from the Les Parisiens range.) A very well done version of the 1985 classic that lacks the mammoth animalic punch and oakmossy base of the original but which remains excellent (4.5/5).

I started wearing fragrances with some regularity in the late 1970s. By the beginning of the 1980s, I had been exposed to some less well known, high-end products thanks to the largess of an uncle who would gift me his 75% empty splash bottles when he became tired of them.

while in college, I was lucky enough to land a well-paying job and was earning enough to pay tuition and to buy the occasional fragrance. One of these was Derby. I got it by chance just after it was released. I happened to smell it in a store, loved it immediately, and bought a bottle. I have a vintage bottle of this fragrance that I have owned for many years and once in a while will use a little of my it to remind myself how much I enjoy this scent. I got a bottle of the current formulation of Derby last fall in an effort to stretch the remainder of my vintage bottle as far as I could.

As others have noted, Derby had a bit of an edge in the original formulation. The current version has lost this edge.

Today's Derby has much of its original sparkling (aldehydic, I think) opening and spicy floral heart in tact. The base, however, is now a shadow of what it once was. The "civilizing (neutering?)" effects of the revising of the basenotes manages to pull a classic into the modern era. 21st Century Derby is barely animalic at all and has so little oak moss as to effectively have none. The leather is still there, but it is clean now. The vetiver and patchouli assert themselves more than they do in the original.

It is, for all of the IFRA-driven changes, still a great scent with eternal longevity and enough projection to qualify as "beastly" if not judiciously applied.

For me, this was once a cold weather fragrance, but in the current formulation, I now enjoy Derby in early spring and throughout fall. For lovers of 1980s era leather chypre fragrances, Derby remains a quintessential expression of the genre and a bottle-worthy acquisition in the current formulation. The Guerlain boutique exclusive Les Parisiens range seems to be shrinking (Heros and Arsene Lupin Dandy appear to have been discontinued), so interested people may want to get hold of Derby before the current version joins the original in the realm of the very hard to find and becomes available only in the unbelievably expensive fragrance arbitrageurs market.
13th April, 2021

Gold Man by Amouage

TLDR: Excellent (4.6/5). Powerful, indolic, animalic and not for the timid.

Guy Robert approached his assignment to create the first Amouage men's fragrance by throwing the "how to make a successful mid-1970s to mid-1980s fragrance" handbook right out the window.

Those who remember his original 1976 Gucci Pour Homme will know that M. Robert knew how to work within the rules for men's scents of the day (if occasionally pushing close to the edges of those rules). So what he chose to do with Good Man is remarkable. "Hey," you can almost imagine him saying, "let's use Chanel No. 5 as the inspiration for our opening.". Bold move. So why not continue with a rose, jasmine powdery middle and accent it with an incense note? The basenotes are animalic ambergris and civet with some dirty patchouli and a bit of sandalwood included to smooth things out. It is all somewhat remarkable.

This fragrance may have been typical of the fragrances found in the Middle East in the early 1980s, but I doubt it. I suspect that this scent pushed limits at that time. It still does today.

But for me, it all works very, very well. I'm comfortable with fragrances that have elements traditionally associated with feminine fragrances, particularly when they progress to a complex, animalic dry down the way Gold Man does.

I find this scent similar to Guerlain's Jicky, especially in the basenotes, albeit with incredibly long-lasting and stronger projection. This stuff is truly "beastly" and needs to be applied the way Good love affairs are conducted: with discretion and respect for those closest to you (to paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill). A little goes a very, very
l-o-n-g way.

Like all Amouage products, the presentation is well done, the atomizer is very good and the ingredients and blending are, at least to my nose, superior.

This one will not appeal to most folks. But folks who find it appealing will love it, I suspect. Sample this one first. It is something very special. because it is not universally loved, you can find it for heavily discounted prices if you search around a bit. Thumbs up.
12th April, 2021

Jicky Eau de Parfum by Guerlain

TLDR: Very Good (3.75/5). History in a bottle. If it works with you body chemistry, it is simply grand. SAMPLE FIRST!

As so many of the comments here attest, this grand old classic doesn't work for everyone. The civet, which must be synthetic in the current, post-IFRA formulation, is too animalic for some folks to find it tolerable and for others, the interplay with their personal scents or body chemistry causes this fragrance to go unpleasantly fecal.

For me, it does neither. It is just a shimmery olfactory portal to Belle Epoque Paris. It is not entirely clean smelling, to be sure, but it is magical. I don't imagine Belle Epoque Paris smelled entirely clean either. Indeed, current day Paris doesn't smell altogether clean.

The citrus opening here is lovely as is the spicy, slightly powdery (from the orris) mid note. As things move toward the base, the patchouli and vetiver bridge the scent into the animalic leathery incense and vanillic Guerlinade notes that feature in this and so many of the house's fragrances that followed Jicky.

I think it is quite a commentary on the quality on display here that this fragrance has been in continuous production for more than a century and a quarter. I cannot conceive of this fragrance having originally been marketed as feminine. To my nose, it is perfectly unisex if not somewhat masculine. Projection is moderate and longevity is impressive on my fragrance consuming skin.

I do not find this fragrance to be an old lady smell. But I do imagine that a fair number of folks will simply not want to smell like Jicky. For this reason, as well as the aforementioned fact that this scent doesn't work with everyone's scent and/or chemistry, you really do need to sample this fragrance before buying.

For my part, I enjoy Jicky for its historical significance and for how well it performs. But mostly, I like how it smells.
12th April, 2021
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Verveine Agrumes / Citrus Verbena Summer by L'Occitane

TLDR: Good (3/5). Bright citrus opening perfect for casual summertime fun.

I grabbed an old weekend bag to head off for a weekend in New Orleans last night and found my bottle of Verveine Agrumes tucked into a pouch inside. So I am wearing it again today for the first time since before Covid.

In the high heat and humidity of the Crescent City, this scent is very nice.

Simple citrus that smells like a blend of (possibly?) natural, grapefruit, lemon and orange oils opens things up. On the heels of this uplifting opening, the verbena emerges and it also smells natural. The scent feels full realized and reasonably well blended, which is a pleasant surprise. There is no furniture polish or cleaning product vibe to this scent, rather, this smells like a reasonably priced perfume. This fact is unsurprising, given that this product is, indeed, an inexpensive perfume, but it nevertheless stands in stark contrast to the bulk of today's inexpensive citrus "mall store" fragrances.

Drydown ends with an aromachemical wood note that is vaguely cedar smelling and not unpleasant. Interestingly, when I first applied this scent today, after the top notes faded, I kept getting a slight oud note when I caught a whiff of myself. "Impossible," I thought to myself until I recalled that I had worn a little Swiss Arabian Dehn El Oudh Mubarak the evening before. The basenote's synthetic component had revivified the prior day's oud. This is a phenomenon I have experienced before with Molecule 01 from Escentric Molecules, so perhaps there is Iso E-Super in here.

Anyway, the accidental layering was quite nice while it lasted. Also quite nice was the way the verbena kept returning in slight wafts during the considerable duration of this fragrance.

This product, therefore, gets a thumb up from me. It is quite good for the price and a nice inexpensive option for casual hot weather relaxation or gatherings.

The bottle and atomizer are decent, just like the scent. Now that you may be getting back to shopping, consider testing this one when you next pass a L'Occitane shop. You might just decide this fragrance is well worth the reasonable asking price and decide to bring a bottle home.
10th April, 2021

Vince Camuto Oud by Vince Camuto

TLDR: Good (3.25/5). Slow developing but quite nice Westernized Oud.

Opens with a spicy saffron that lingers until it is joined by a nice, but synthetic western interpretation of oud. Later in the mid, the oud and remnants of the saffron and spice are joined by a musky patchouli. It is at this point that this fragrance comes into its own. At about 90 minutes, the basenotes come alive with a sweet, amber and leather and some creamy, smooth sandalwood. It is all beautifully blended and very nice.

Vince Camuto Oud is so close to excellence, but the opening of this fragrance is just ok and that reduces the overall rating to merely "good." the opening is dusty and a bit flat for the first 30 minutes, even though the saffron is rather nice. After the first half hour, this fragrance begins to improve.

Once the scent is about an hour into its progression, things get very good, very fast. They get even better during the scent's considerable duration with average sillage persisting for 6-8 hours on my skin. The oud works incredibly well with the rest of the basenotes. This is a great deal dry down.

I am very pleasantly surprised by this fragrance. It is worth at least a sample for fans of clean, Western-style ouds.

I am especially glad that this scent does not contain rose. Rose oud has been done to death at this point. Another so so designer try at a rose oud scent is much less interesting than this fragrance.
09th April, 2021

Perfume Calligraphy Saffron by Aramis

TLDR: Excellent (4.2/5). Slightly sweet, slightly white floral, slightly citrus, but mostly a warm saffron scent with a touch of leathery rose/oud.

East meets West in Calligraphy Saffron from Aramis. The saffron note here is frequently included in heavier Middle-Eastern focused oud scents like Montale Aoud Saffran or Arabian Oud Asalat Al Sharq. Here, saffron is presented on center stage in a rather western type composition--warm and smooth with less sharp spiciness than is typical in Eastern perfumery and some supporting floral notes, particularly marigold.

Many Eastern scents have floral notes that read "feminine" to western noses. As a decidedly non-metro, CisHet male, this floral scent doesn't trouble me even a little bit. It gives the saffron some traces of sweetness and makes this fragrance easy to wear and something of a surprising compliment-getter.

While projection here is moderate, particularly in the cooler season for which this fragrance is best suited, the fragrance has major longevity. In the later stages of its all-day progression, this fragrance has a slightly sweet rose and oud note. The oud here is clean and westernized. It combines with the other scent notes to produce an inviting leathery scent throughout the drydown.

All together, this scent is warm and inviting. It is very easy to like Calligraphy Saffron. It is an intriguing Oriental fragrance with just enough of an Eastern vibe to be different.

Unhyped as this fragrance is, it is available for reasonable money from time to time at the discounters. It is certainly worth a try for folks who like oud, saffron, or leather scents.

Also, the presentation is high quality, as is the atomizer. The golden Arabic script on the bottle looks cool and suggests the fact that this Aramis Calligraphy line was originally principally marketed in the Gulf.

I really enjoy this stuff. Recommended if you can find it at a decent price (that is, around the original MSRP of $125 or less).
06th April, 2021

Figment Man by Amouage

TLDR: Extraordinary (4.85/5). How can a relatively mainstream house produce such an astonishingly dank, feral fragrance in this day and age? Brilliant!

Others with better noses than me have accurately summarized the component notes. I will not repeat them here.

This fragrance is deep, dark and dank. I would like to meet the person who, having experienced this fragrance, determined that it should be released to the market.

To be clear, I love Figment Man and find myself smelling my wrist over and over when I wear this stuff. I just cannot imagine too many people will share my appreciation for the way this fragrance smells.

I particularly like the earthy petrichor note that emerges as the opening notes recede. The feral animalic notes here are also great.

I like unusual scents like Figment Man. I admire the courage it takes to release such a risky, challenging scent. As I write this review, I have Figment Man on my left forearm and Enclave, also from Amouage, on my right. I have no doubt that the relatively pedestrian Enclave will vastly out sell Figment each year they are both available. I am equally certain that what makes Amouage so special as a perfume producer is the creativity, courage and technical skill that are on display in Figment Man. The skill it takes to formulate and blend a product like Figment Man and end up with a fragrance that works rather than sewer water is indeed rare in a world that produces one insipid aquatic freshie after the next. I do hope that the future of Amouage continues to include a few fragrances like this one even as the easily accessible products like Enclave pay the bills and produce enough profits to keep the house going.

The fragrance landscape needs some wonderfully weird spots as well as more obviously beautiful vistas to avoid becoming monotonous.I

Reviewed from a full bottle after many wearings.
06th April, 2021

Aigle Impérial by Chopard

TLDR: Good (3/5). Smells great. Poor longevity in a cool or climate controlled environment.

Opens with a bright citrus that gives way after a few minutes to a nice green tea note. There is also a nice note of patchouli, clean and bright, no earthy notes here. Running under these fresh, uplifting notes is a clean, western oud.

The oud never departs once it arrives. In the closing phase, a woody incense note, devoid of smoke and sanitized like the oud and the patchouli, comes to stay with the oud for the remainder of the scent's duration.

And the duration isn't very long in the types of conditions for which this scent is best suited (cooler days, climate controlled spaces & even the office). I get 2-3 hours of average to low sillage, which is really very, very nice but by 3.5-4 hours this fragrance is reduced to little more than a skin scent. By 6 hours, this delightful scent has vanished. In the last hour, only the oud is detectable on my skin, and then only with my nose pressed where the scent was applied.

At the prices charged for this scent, even at the discount websites, I expect to get more longevity from a fragrance. The fact that this fragrance is part of Chopard's luxury line makes the lack of performance all the more disappointing.

In hot, steamy conditions, however, this performance issue is alleviated. I have noted as I wear this fragrance today that it fades as I sit in the air conditioned indoors but springs back to life shortly after I hear out into the heat and humidity. I am now nearly 8 hours into wearing Aigel Imperial and the scent is still projecting well in the heat. As such, this may be the ultimate "office oud" since it will virtually cease projecting in a/c cooled office settings only to come alive during an outdoor lunch or a break spent outside in the heat.

Of course, as with all projection and longevity discussions, this effect may well be a product of my individual body chemistry. I suggest you try to get a sample and see how climate changes impact the fragrance's performance on your skin before committing to the purchase of this somewhat pricey product.

So the bottom line on Aigle Imperial is mixed. While the scent persists, it is really good. It smells of quality, if synthetic, ingredients. The oud, in particular, is very good. The combination of fresh notes with oud is deftly handled. This is a good warm weather oud, which is a difficult thing to find, in my experience. But since the scent fades to almost nothing so fast in less steamy conditions, all of this goodness is too frequently gone too soon. For this reason, the rating is just "good" and the thumbs up is a tepid one.

Presentation is good. The bottle is elegant, the atomizer is high quality and the rest of the packaging is also very nice.

Worth a try for those looking for a warm weather oud, I think, but only if you can buy it at deep discounts.

Review based on multiple wearings at moderate temperatures and humidity from a full bottle.
03rd April, 2021 (last edited: 10th April, 2021)

The Alchemist's Garden : Hortus Sanitatis Eau de Parfum by Gucci

TLDR: Extraordinary (4.75/5). Unique scent masterfully blended from high quality ingredients.

Reviewed after multiple wearings from a full bottle.

This fragrance is an intriguing addition to the Alchemist's Garden line from Gucci. I own several of these fragrances and like them all (Voice of the Snake & A Midnight Stroll + this one). Hortus Saitatis, "the garden of health," has a medicinal opening, appropriately enough. We get a very realistic papyrus with herbal notes that give a slightly mentholated, but not minty, note that hints at Gucci Guilty Absolute's bandage note. This opening is quickly joined by the faintest sniff of what I suspect to be a camphorous natural oud.

The scent progresses and morphs over and over again. The blending here is so good that it is virtually impossible for me to pick out specific notes. There is a subtle, smokey incense note that comes and goes in the first half hour and that eventually becomes more assertive as things transition from opening to heart notes.

Things get woody, which adds to the dry grassy tone of the papyrus, and the herbal opening develops a pronounced spicy vibe, perhaps from the credited ginger.

The medicinal note never quite goes away, nor does the smokey woody incense quality.

As we reach the base, we get a dry, green rose note which persists through the scent's long duration. A youtube reviewer called this phase "barbequed roses", and I can smell this concept here, but I get more than that from this fragrance because the medicinal herbal astringent element tempers the rose and smoke. There is nothing "jammy" here.

I am ultimately left with an image that recalls an olfactory experience I once had on a visit to the Chelsea Physic Garden in London. This garden, which is itself, in fact, a hortus sanitatis, a garden full of plants with medicinal benefits, was undergoing a slight clean up following a windy few days and the staff were burning some twigs and things that had been knocked to the ground by the winds.

There were flowers in bloom, the herbs and other plants were very fragrant and the floral and herbal smells combined with the slight wafts of smoke to create a remarkable, heady aroma. That smell is what I get from this fragrance. It is remarkable and curiously addictive for me. Perhaps Alberto Morillas was also at the garden that day or had a similar experience at some time in a different garden. Who's to say?

In any event, I love this scent and believe it is a masterpiece. That Gucci produced this fragrance at all is remarkable in an age where designers rarely take chances. Seekers of unique fragrances need to get a sniff of this one before it disappears (as something so non-commercial surely will before too long).

Not a blind buy, although I bought it blind and am glad I did. For me, full bottle worthy with a back-up in my immediate future. Like all of this Gucci line, presentation is excellent. Longevity is 10+ hours and projection is moderate for 6-7 hours.

One additional point: there are hints of both Gucci Pour Homme (2003) and Gucci Pour Homme original (1976) here. Now, to be clear, this scent does not smell like either of them, but the papyrus and slight oud notes of the opening are clearly a nod to GPH1 (but for those folks seeking a fragrance much closer to GPH1, I would recommend Parle Moi De Parfum's Papyrus Oud/71 which is as close as it gets to GPH1). Additionally, in the heart of 1976 GPH, there is sharp, dry, beautiful medicinal note combo that I have never found anywhere else until I smelled Hortus Sanitatis. I have worn this and original GPH side-by-side, and there is a phase in the middle of HS' progression that embodies the GPH note exactly to my nose. It has always been this note that elevated the original GPH in my estimation. It does the same thing here. However, to reiterate, for clarity, taken as a whole, HS does not smell like the whole of either version of GPH. I think it might well smell better.
25th March, 2021 (last edited: 11th April, 2021)

H24 by Hermès

TLDR: Rating: Good (3.8/5). Mild up-thumb.

After 2 partial day wearings from a full bottle, I am cautiously optimistic about H24: this line will probably eventually give rise to a very special fragrance. But this first H24 release is not a special scent.

This scent is a minimalistic green aromatic with citrus and metallic notes. It bucks current designer trends and seems an almost perfectly calculated office scent. (If we ever get back to a society where offices are again a thing, this fragrance might become popular with folks who are tired of the blue/aquatic inoffensive blandness of the pre-pandemic blockbuster workplace scents.)

This product is the embodiment of tasteful restraint. There is nothing here to dislike, although the "frag bros" will fault H24 for lack of "beastliness". Those of us who will celebrate the bros' frustrations will mostly like it, but will not find anything compelling enough in this scent to move us to love.

I cannot join the voices I've heard who celebrate H24 for being challenging because it is not. Rather,it is bland and inoffensive in a different way than most bland and inoffensive scents. The publicized metallic note is mildly interesting and works well with the grapefruit opening which it follows in the scent's progression. The light floral note is not as successfully integrated into the composition.

The base here is a pleasant enough melange of woods made just a little bit atypical by the metal of the Sclarene. I think the metallic notes push this one into the more masculine side of the ever-blurring gender divide, but it is nearly unisex and I am sure there will be women who choose to wear and enjoy H24.

Siliage is minimal and longevity is just under 8 hours on my skin, the last 2.5 hours of which are essentially as a skin scent.

Perhaps in the summer, the season for which I think this fragrance is best suited, additional nuances will emerge from this juice, but as I wear this version of H24, I cynically believe the more intense formulation(s) is (are) already awaiting release as the weather gets cooler in the northern latitudes. The flankers almost suggest themselves: "Intense Metal", "Eau Tres Fraiche" or "H24 Cologne", anyone? I suppose that original formulations designed to support flankers is the landscape on which the entire designer industry now walks, for better or worse. But after 15 years, perhaps we were entitled to expect a bit more confidence and daring from a house that last gave us the celebrated Terre.

In any event, this one is nice enough for what it is and gets a mild thumbs up from me particularly because this scent is atypical enough to be of at least some interest for many fans of designer fragrances.

Presentation is fine, but not special. The bottles are not distinctive, but they are well executed and tastefully restrained--just like everything about H24. Ultimately, Hermes played it safe here, which is a shame because a bit more confident risk taking in the direction they have moved with H24 could have given us all something great.
03rd March, 2021

Valentino Noir Absolu Oud Essence by Valentino

TLDR: Excellent (4/5). Recommended.

Surprisingly high quality leathery oud scent with a smoothing, creamy sandalwood note.

Myrtle adds a bit of sweetness to the powerful opening hour or so, then fades taking any trace of sweetness with it. A slight animalic note emerges in the base accompanied by a twinge of herbal cardamom with what might just be a little coffee per my nose (?). The final 6-8 hours are more game yet elegant and Arabic/Middle Eastern in overall feel.

Projection is strong for the first 90 minutes on my skin in a dry, cold climate. Longevity is at least 9 hours on my usually scent-devouring skin.

At the prices at which I found this fragrance in Dubai (230 UAE Dirhams/about $75-80 right now), this product is a great bargain. Thumbs up.

Final thoughts: (1) is the oud here natural/real? I suspect there is a little but of the real thing in this fragrance. The animalic notes in the base and the way the oud hangs around over the considerable scent duration indicates to me that either an exceptional quality, very natural smelling synthetic, oud oil, or a blend of both is included here; (2) for me, this is a cold weather scent. The opening is just too strong in hot environments. I brought my bottle back to the cold Midwestern U.S. and have enjoyed it since I got back here.
Get your nose on this one if you can. I would say this fragrance is a safe blind buy for those folks who enjoy dry oud scents.
02nd March, 2021

Le Gemme : Onekh by Bulgari

TLDR rating: Excellent (4.15/5)

Incense tinged, resinous oud. Labdanum is prominent here, lending a slightly honeyed leather note during the opening and middle of the progression. Some amber, probably also from the labdanum is noticeable in the early stages as well.

The sweetness here is transitory. Mostly what I get is a very dry, spicy scent that ultimately gets pleasantly oudy in the dry down. In a sea of sweet, rose/saffron oud scents, Onekh stands out simply by having neither these notes nor meaningful sweetness.

I find this fragrance very enjoyable. I get very good 10+ hour longevity and significant sillage for the first half of that time.

Thumbs up for sure. Elegantly presented as with all of the Le Gemme series. Masterfully blended from superior smelling components. Definitely worth a sniff!

01st March, 2021

The Alchemist's Garden : A Midnight Stroll by Gucci

Dark frankincense dominated scent masterfully blended from extremely high quality ingredients. Rather than veer off on to an overly sweet path as some incense scents will do, this fragrance remains smoky, dry but never ashy. As the dry down progresses, a marked wood tone (cypress) asserts itself and warms the scent.

I like this take on incense, but believe this fragrance will polarize folks who encounter it. Definitely try before you buy, particularly at the pricing prevailing as of this writing.

Like all of the Gucci Alchemist's Garden scents I have tried, little effort seems to have been made to produce a widely appealing scent here. More power to Gucci for releasing so uncompromising a line of scents.

Projection is moderate in the cool weather for which this scent seems best suited. As with other Alchemist's Garden fragrances, longevity is good here. I get 10+ hours on my typically fragrance-devouring skin.

Bottom line: Excellent (4/5).

It is also true, as far as I am concerned, that the presentation on this line is very well done and taken with the scents' overall quality, presents a very aesthetically pleasing experience which helps, at least to some extent, to justify the pricing for this luxury designer/niche output. Thumbs up.
26th February, 2021
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Le Gemme : Gyan by Bulgari

In this case, the beautiful bottle does a great job foreshadowing the fragrance. What I mean by that opening statement is that this fragrance is a masterfully blended, top quality expression of fragrance elements often associated with the colors on the bottle: (1) "black" scents, as embodied by the rich, dark frankincense components; (2) "gold" scents as typified by the middle-eastern combination of spice, jasmine and the aforementioned incense; & (3) "blue" elements embodied in some traces of marine elements and the universality of the fragrance's situational appropriateness.

I cannot imagine a setting where a mature person would not feel comfortable wearing Gyan. (While not something I personally care about, this scent seems to have the mass appeal required to illicit compliments. I received a quite unexpected one while wearing Gyan today).

Projection is moderate. Longevity is average on my skin: about 6 hours in cool, dry conditions, but longer when the temperature or humidity are higher. The scent progresses from a dark and rich incense opening to a middle where the slightly sweet jasmine floral elements become more noticeable and finally resolves into a pleasant subtlety marine/aquatic smell joined by the other elements that is different than, but still reminiscent of, Bleu de Chanel EDP. This final phase, which emerges at about the 90 minute mark on me, lingers for a while and becomes a skin scent after the first few hours.

Thumbs up, particularly at the discounter prices at which it occasionally can be found as of this writing.

Bottom line: Excellent (4/5).

25th February, 2021 (last edited: 07th April, 2021)

One Man Show Oud Edition by Jacques Bogart

Perhaps you can relate to adding items to an on-line shopping cart only to find yourself one item shy of qualifying for free shipping and a savings of $25.

Why not find another cheapie and get free shipping? Even if the extra bottle turns out to be rubbish, you've ultimately spent less than you would have if you'd paid for shipping.

Well, that situation is how I came to blind buy OMS Oud Edition. What a pleasant surprise this sub-$15 tester bottle turned out to be. This stuff is a great value, an enthusiastic thumbs up, and proof that even though the 1980s are well behind us, interesting things can still be built using the DNA of the stars of that era.

Varanis Ridari does a far better job of describing this scent in his detailed, interesting, historical and elegant review (below) than could I. So I will only note that the synthetic oud used here is quite good and the thyme and papyrus notes that somehow manage to creep out from under the thundering cloud of oud that defines OMS Oud Edition from the very first moment, are just smooth and mellowing enough to make this fragrance into an enjoyable & challenging wear (as opposed to an unwearably harsh stinker). I quite like it.

Rating: Very Good (3.6/5). Well worth a bottle at the prevailing prices.
19th February, 2021 (last edited: 11th April, 2021)

BR17: Oud Mosaic by Banana Republic

Better than I had any right to expect given the exceptionally low price.

For the first 90 minutes of so, this is a fairly generic sweet rose our that is raised just above mediocrity by the interesting addition of a realistic plum note.

But then comes the dry down and a surprisingly dry and animallic oud/musk. This kid and musk is accented by saffron and a slight amber which work with well with the residual rose-tinged sweetness from the opening. This element of the fragrance is just great. I cannot imagine that there is real our in this juice, but the accord in the base is good enough that I find myself wondering if just perhaps there is some trade of the genuine stuff in the mix.

In any event, these well blended base notes linger for another 6-8 hours on me and continue to project well for much of the duration of the scent.

Consistent with the exceptional value for money theme of this juice, the presentation is also quite well done and the atomizer on my larger bottle is very good.

Overall rating: good (3.75/5). 17 Oud Mosaic is a highly recommended product at the low prices at which it is generally available as of this writing. Well worth a try (don't judge it until the dry down has reached the base).
12th February, 2021

Boss The Scent Private Accord by Hugo Boss

Could be worse, as is demonstrated by the rest of the "Boss The Scent" product line, but ultimately nothing special. The ginger in the opening is fairly short-lived, but it is nice while it is present. As with all of these "Boss The Scent" fragrances, the maninka note is a bit out of the ordinary and works nicely here with the coffee/cocoa notes that become more pronounced, and really rather nice, as things reach the base.

This fragrance is ultimately rather an ordinary, linear, sweetish gourmand and is somehow less than the sum of its parts (which are interestingly atypical & suggest that more was possible here). Perhaps it is the blending or ingredient quality that is holding this one back.

At discounted prices, those who like sweeter gourmand scents, particularly fans of cocao, will most likely enjoy this one. It is certainly vastly better than the other members of "The Scent" range. I get moderate projection and better than average longevity. I don't regret buying it at the low price I paid, but if it ran out tomorrow, I would be neither disappointed nor inclined to re-buy it.

Bottom line: Good (2.75/5)

(Scale: yuck {<1}, OK {1.1-2}, good {2.1-3}, very good {3.1-4}, excellent {4.1-4.6} & extraordinary {4.65+})
10th February, 2021

Gucci pour Homme (original) by Gucci

The guys at school who 'discovered' cologne in my junior high school years all seemed to discover the same thing: Polo. After Christmas 1978, it seemed everyone got a little green bottle in their stocking--or at least it smelled that way. Polo as a powerhouse in its original formulation and my peers had yet to learn discretion in the use of scents. I quickly came to loathe the stuff.

An aunt who was always up on the current trends had gifted me a bottle of Polo that same Christmas, but I didn't keep it. Instead, I exchanged it at a local department store for the original Gucci Pour Homme. More than 40 years on, I still love Guy Robert's franco-Italian gem. I am still in possession of the last bottle I was ever able to buy (on a clearance rack in a drug store) and I almost never use it for fear that it will prove irreplacable.

I now own Polo Green, a vintage Kourous and many other scents of the era from which this GPH emerged, and I have come to appreciate all of them. But GPH is still my favorite from those days and was undoubtedly the root cause of my current fascination with fragrance in general and the more esoteric of current men's scents, in particular.

As others have noted, the juice is a chypre whose lemon top note is special and whose once relatively ordinary ingredients seem special today because we are generally denied them by regulations and because they are certainly not on trend today.

So in today's world, this stuff is extraordinary and, for me, it carries so many find memories that it is a cherished part of my collection. Does that fact mean that you should pay the extortionate prices asked for one of the remaining NOS bottles? Good heavens no. But the original GPH is certainly worth smelling if you get a chance if only as a reminder of how good some of the less celebrated chypre scents of the late 70's really were.

(I must also note that given the cult following GPH has among those "in the know", it surprises me that no one in the niche/indie world has, so far as I can tell, recreated it. I would think doing so could be something of a sound business proposition for someone with the skills. Particularly in light of Parle Moi Dr Parfum's Papyrus Oud's successful recreation of the follow-up, Gucci Pour Homme I.)
08th February, 2021

Neandertal Light by Neandertal

I always begin reviews like this one by noting that I like conceptual but wearable scents. Here, let me also add that I am a sucker for particularly cool bottles. On both counts, Neandertal qualifies.

Light, considered purely for what it delivers as a fragrance, is a slight thumbs up for me.

The opening blend of dry spices has a light floral note & is interestingly underscored with hinoki and ozonic notes from the listed violet leaf. As things dry down, an intriguing yin and yang middle where oris' buttery softness contrasts sharply with a pronounced metallic aromachemical slowly overwhelms the top notes. This phase is in turn displaced ever so gradually by dry leather accented by a vaguely sweet amber.

I appreciate the studied contrast between elements of each layer in the scent and note that in spite of the manufacturer's statements about linearity and function as a snapshot suspended in time, the scent does progress through a marked transition between disparate layered notes over time. I think that considerable skill is on display in the blending here and, to my nose, each of the top, mid and base layers can be perceived as a comment upon, and perhaps amplification of, the contrasts in the layer preceding it.

Overall rating is just an OK, however, since the metallic element is not as deftly handled as the others and is too forward in most of the mid, diminishing the effects of the overall composition.

This one is ultimately similar to many of the CdG scents (Odeur 71, 2 Man & Hinoki come to mind) and just not quite as good as most of them.

Worth sampling (and perhaps bottle worthy for lovers of conceptual art scents in fantastical artistic packaging).
07th February, 2021

Roi Sans Equipage by Henry Jacques

To my nose, the notes pyramid is spot on, but this fragrance is more than the sum of its parts. The quality of the ingredients is unmatched. The blending is pure genius. I am glad to own a bottle, (although it took me some time to convince myself to part with the asking price).

Strong but not overwhelming sillage, 8 hours + longevity on me. Comes with a somewhat cheap atomizer that can be installed on the luxurious bottle in place of the lovely stopper for those who prefer sprays to daubs.

Extraordinary; but at these prices, for those with the income of a mere mortal, it has to remain a special occasion scent. Which is a pitty because it would make a remarkable signature scent for an elegant, mature man.
06th February, 2021

Vetiver by Santa Maria Novella

Incandescent vetiver throughout. Citrus accents briefly appear in the opening. They give way to a wonderful, sharp, vaguely bitter vetiver that is gradually smoothed out by an emerging rose note in the mid. Dry down gets vanilla sweetness into the act as the signature note becomes less bright. Longevity is considerable and so is sillage. A master class in using subtle accents to create progression in what is almost a single note fragrance. If you are a vetiver lover, you'll love this scent. I do.


(Scale: Yuck; OK; Good; Exceptional & Extraordinary.)
20th January, 2021

Black Leather by J-Scent

A smokey leather with subtle citrus and floral notes in the background. Tobacco in the heart and an amber infused warm leather with less smoke in the base. The constant leather notes shift subtly during the 5 hours of duration. Not totally linear, but evolving across a range of leather phases like a black leather motorcycle jacket's lifetime journey: from new, stiff strong leather through picking up some smells from cigarettes, friends' fragrances and cafes as it wears in and finally arriving at a comfortable, well worn and friendly softness. A very interesting scent. Masculine; moderate projection and discreet siliage.
14th December, 2020

Cypress Shade by House of Oud

Mimosa in the opening, as noted below by Tennis3040, is quite pronounced. The scent is complex, however, and over time, all of the notes in the fragrance profile put in appearences. The mint and the vetiver hint at their presence early before emerging in the closing stages to join with the oud to create what registers with my nose as a leathery scent. All-in-all, I do get the concept here since the total composition does convey the feeling of sitting beneath a cypress on a sunny day while warm breezes waft the smell of mimosa. I don't, however, love the scent and find I have little desire to wear it. Like all THoO products, the presentation is spectacular and looks like a work of art on my shelf. I just wish this bottle didn't seem destined to stay on the shelf indefinitely for me.
13th December, 2020

Mizu by Di Ser

I bought Mizu while in Tokyo on an August work trip when I discovered that my travel spray of something else was empty. In the hot humid stew that is Tokyo at that time of year, I wanted citrus and thought "why not try a Japanese niche house." I am delighted to have found Mizu this way. I have had occasion to smell yuzu when it was being juiced and the notes in this fragrance are flawless recreations of this delightful, uplifting odor. The fragrance is linear and surprisingly long lasting for a citrus cologne. After the initial yuzu, understated florals join the party. The composition is anchored by a Tonka note, but the yuzu stays center stage from beginning to end. This is, for me, a hot weather scent. It is exceptionally well blended and very Japanese, by which I mean that the elements of the fragrance harmoniously and subtly work to bring the totality of the yuzu element to the fore in all of its nuanced splendor. Unisex, minimal projection and slight siliage.

Overall, exceptional!
13th December, 2020

Bijan for Men by Bijan

I got a bottle for next to nothing as part of an effort to re-acquire the scents I used as a teenager (Pierre Cardin Pur Homme, Drakkar Noir, Polo Green, Kouros & Aramis) to see what they had become post-IFRA. For the price, this one is amazing. A complex, spicy opening followed by a gradual progression to a faintly musky leather in the final stages. It is certainly not in keeping with current trends and that is why I like it so much. Quite wearable. I do not think there is a better value proposition in men's scents today with the possible exception of Fred Hayman's original 273, which is also good and readily available from discounters for less than $10 as I type this review.
10th December, 2020

Petrichor Plains by Mihan Aromatics

An interesting, well composed fragrance that is, as the name suggests, evocative of an urban landscape after a needed and cleansing rain. The scent is herbal with minimal sweetness accented by the aquatic presence that you would expect from a rain-themed cologne. That being said, the petrichor effect here is not as pronounced as the earl stages of Le Labo's Baie 19. The dry down brings woodiness and an earth note (again, as the "Plains" in the name suggests).

Overall, I like this one and am giving it a thumbs up because it manages to be novel yet eminently wearable. I like unique scents and bought a 100 ml spray of this after sampling it.

Unisex. Definitiely SFW. Given the skill with which it is blended, I think the price is quite fair as well.

Overall rating: Very Good (worth sampling for those folks who like interesting niche fragrances).

(Rating scale: Yuck; OK; Good; Very Good; Excellent & Extraordinary.)
09th December, 2020 (last edited: 11th December, 2020)