Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Diamondflame

Total Reviews: 839

Bourbon Vanilla by Ermenegildo Zegna

Expectations aside, this could potentially be a challenging fragrance for fans of vanilla scents. First off there’s nothing boozy about Zegna’s interpretation of the popular bean. It smells unpleasantly chemical - a bad facsimile of raw still-in-the-pod vanilla beans with a strongly bitter almost almond-like tinge to it.

Performance is excellent but given its nose-curling opening act it is not exactly an advantage. While the scent did get better late stage as it recedes into the deeply woody dry down, it took some serious willpower on my part not to scrub it off my skin prematurely.

With so many contenders in an already crowded field, this one sticks out for all the wrong reasons. Small wonder [b]Bourbon Vanilla[/b] gets sent to the locker room early (discontinued).
13th July, 2021

Noble VIII Rococo Immortelle by Clive Christian

Immortelle or everlasting flower has a love-hate relationship with me. Gloriously showcased in Annick Goutal’s Sable (vintage) but somewhat discordant and a drag in Histoires de Parfums’ 1740 and Diptyque Eau Lente. Its curry-like hint of spice coupled with that maple syrupy undertone doesn’t exactly make it an easy partner in perfumery though it seems many perfumers welcome the challenge.

This Clive Christian entry takes a cautious approach with immortelle, using its baritonal almost hay-like warmth as a counterpoint to the brighter cooler notes of the citrus and the drier texture of papyrus. It is this delicate tightrope act that makes it interesting, even euphoric for me. Heck, I don’t even miss the vetiver. A light ambery finish provides that post-date afterglow.

This is not an immortelle-forward fragrance despite its name. And because of its hefty price tag I was even better prepared to hate it. Fortunately or perhaps unfortunately (for my wallet) her charms as an elegant spicy aromatic scent won me over. I felt compelled to ask her out on a ‘date’.

With me she danced like a graceful ballerina. Light on her feet, she leaped and she twirled. Fresh, airy, aromatic. I was impressed as this phase lasted a good number of hours, a gift that keeps on giving in whiffs of olfactory pleasure. The drydown when it finally arrived felt warm but far from sweet.

While I do believe the scent may play out differently on other wearers as immortelle notes tend to do, it seems this particular version has nothing but everlasting love for me. It’s high time I revisit our relationship.

09th June, 2020

Sahraa Oud by Fragrance Du Bois

Ok, let’s address the elephant in the room: Sahraa Oud is not an oud-forward fragrance, despite its name and claims to a substantial oud content. If you’re looking for oud-focused scent, please look elsewhere. Sahraa Oud is first and foremost an amber-centric scent. And a darn good one at that, its opulent radiance especially enjoyable when the weather is cool and dry. A flat cheap amber this is not. Sahraa Oud plays a hauntingly beautiful symphony of rose-tinted amber, saffron-laced oud over silky sandalwood.

Yet there is something comfortingly familiar about the central amber accord. It reminds me of classic orientals, possibly some vintage Guerlains. I’ve also heard comparisons to Andy Tauer’s fabled L’Air du Desert Marocain. While that could only be taken as a compliment it falls a little short: Sahraa Oud will turn more heads. It is that stunning. And it smells pretty much like its price tag - expensive. But don’t let that stop you ‘cuz when you feel like a billion dollars, when it starts to rain lace knickers and silk thongs, you know it is worth every cent and then some.

Thumbs up. Way up.
10th March, 2020
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Black No. 1 / Blackbird by House of Matriarch

Evergreen conifers laden with snow. A curl of smoke from dying embers. Black leather. Burnished steel. Spellbinding magic.

The Witcher was here.
22nd February, 2020

Lucky Oud by Bortnikoff

A lovely blend of floral sandalwood with woodsy leathery underpinnings. I don’t find it excessively sweet; the sandalwood is clearly not from the famed buttery Mysore variety. Can’t really comment on the wild Thai Lotus other than it seems to bring a subtle floralcy to the sandal note. Skeptics might even be tempted to call it a marketing ploy to play up the desirable ‘exotic factor’. I’m sure some would disagree but IMO Dimitry could have used another flower in its place and it probably wouldn’t have made all that much of a difference scent-wise.

Interestingly however the area of skin you apply it affects its presentation and evolution. In the crook of my arm the oud shows up early: a deep baritone presence with slightly rubbery nuances. On the back of my hands however, I get more of the tea rose and warm floral sandalwood and less of the oud.

In a nutshell: refined. Or perhaps ‘underwhelming’ if your tastes lean towards the stronger more challenging end. Thankfully mine don’t.

Not a projection beast, Lucky Oud is arguably the house’s friendliest oud fragrance to date. While I’m not blown away, I can’t deny its charm as a versatile oud number for daily wear.
12th February, 2020

War and Peace by Areej le Doré

Rose and Leather. Musks and Powder. War and Peace. This is an intriguing shapeshifter. Which particular combos you get seems to vary with ambient temperature and humidity. On a cool day as it’s been today I seem to catch more of the rose and leather off the top, and light vetiver and ambery resins up close. On warmer days it goes all Habit Rouge on me - very powdery with animalic, nearly fecal undertones.

I love the rose-dark leather duet but the other, not so much. The ingredients feel top notch and as with most Areej Le Doré fragrances, offer room for the composition to evolve into something great. I know some owners of War and Peace are wondering if they should sit on it, wait for the war to be over or sell it on eBay to the highest bidder for some peace of mind. I know what I would do: WEAR IT.
20th November, 2019

Plumeria de Orris by Areej le Doré

Mildly soapy yet barely indolic white florals arranged delicately over the apricot-tinted suede of orris butter, embellished ever so slightly with the creaminess of sandalwood, Plumeria de Orris bears the hallmark of a classic floral oriental, with emphasis on the floral aspect. Clearly this isn’t something I’d recommend to the average guy.

Since I received my bottle 3 weeks ago I had taken my own sweet time with it and grown to enjoy it even more with every wear. Starting with 2 sprays I’m now averaging 6 to 8. It really blossoms with generous applications. Yet despite the oft-challenging quality of natural ingredients I am amazed at the level of balance and refinement achieved by Russian Adam here. It is almost unrecognizable as an Areej Le Doré fragrance, to be honest. Tag on some aldehydes and it could well be mistaken for a long forgotten vintage Chanel parfum from the good old days when each bottle contains more of the good stuff rather than fillers. Believe in the hype or don’t, either way Areej Le Doré is bent on bringing the ‘fine’ back to fine fragrances.

Projection and sillage are at a polite arm’s length for the most part. Longevity is as usual with this house, second to none. As for the civet, alas, it isn’t quite the snarling creature I was half-hoping for.

Still I’m excited to discover how Plumeria de Orris would evolve over the next year or so but at the rate I’m spritzing myself with this, I’m afraid I may never find out.
18th November, 2019

Mandarava by Parfum Prissana

A gorgeous floral incense made of excellent ingredients, with luscious champaca and jasmine notes cutting through the dry ash of burning incense beautifully. The inspiration was clearly one borne of the perfumer’s own Buddhist faith for the scent is nothing if not evocative of a grand temple’s inner sanctum, at least for the first hour. Such associations cannot help but give pause to Mandarava’s wearability as a personal fragrance. Thankfully its remaining lifespan leans more towards classical florals /incense orientals.

I’ve been looking for great incense compositions for a long time and I think I’ve finally found the perfumer who can weave magic with this material. Next to MA NISHTANA, MANDARAVA is yet another impressive incense masterpiece Prin Lomros’ late grandmother would have been proud of.
08th October, 2019

Squid by Zoologist Perfumes

An airy almost ozonic scent featuring a back-and-forth but shortlived tug of war between the briny saltiness of ambergris and the warmer resinous axis of opoponax /benzoin.

In the absence of complex structures SQUID feels decidedly contemporary to me yet smells unlike any designer fragrances already out there. It made me curious so I had to, well...Google further.

As it turned out the IFF perfumer Celine Barel was also credited with a slew of designer releases such as CK Shock for Him Street Edition, David Beckham Signature for Him and Clean Summer Sailing. In other words she has full-fledged designer cred. If ‘inclusivity’ is indeed the reigning buzzword I guess Victor Wong is a very clued-in practitioner.

Congratulations once again to the house for another edition of intriguing but wearable art. If you’re looking for a Zoologist with mass market aspirations, be sure to catch this SQUID.
26th September, 2019

Thirty-three by Ex Idolo

33-year old aged wild oud?? Yeah, right. Where’s the oud, really? In the marketing copy, that’s where. Nowhere else. Doesn’t Ex-Idolo know oud scent profiles vary with age and terroir? The fact they just labeled it as Chinese rather than a specific province is a dead giveaway. Not to mention how expensive wild oud oil truly s... I’m notifying the BS police on this one and in good conscience won’t be recommending it.

Other than the poorly researched ad copy, scent-wise Thirty Three is decent enough as a woody rose-patchouli fragrance to be worn by either gender without offending anyone. It almost makes up for its lack of character, making it a suitable albeit pricey option for any beginner dipping their toe into a crowded and highly competitive genre.

28th August, 2019

Aramis Tobacco Reserve by Aramis

Warm, airy and aromatic with just a touch of coumarinic sweetness in the base and a lick of salt you could almost taste. I went in with low expectations and walked away pleasantly surprised.

After smelling many of the more bombastic attempts by perfumers to replicate the intriguing scent of lingering cigar smoke none succeeded with as much finesse. Aramis TOBACCO RESERVE got pretty darn close, but still, no cigar.
20th August, 2019

Mown by Hendley Perfumes

I can see why MOWN could be evocative to someone. It is a comforting scent - warm, toasty and almost savory/buttery in parts. It reminds me of sunny childhood days chasing one another all over the field and coming in for late breakfast in an airy sunlit kitchen. The aromatic bits of tobacco are however much less apparent to my nose and could easily be missed. But the hay is front and centre.

If Serge Lutens Chergui and Jeux de Peau have a younger sibling, this could well be her. She's a little shy though, and may need some coaxing on fabric.

I'd rate it a 7 out of 10.
16th August, 2019

Beau de Jour by Tom Ford

A stripped down re-mix of old school aromatic fougeres employing Tom Ford’s olfactory sleight of hand to conjure up oakmoss’ bitter dryness within what is essentially a lavandin-and-patchouli one-two punch.

BEAU DE JOUR gives a pretty good performance though, projecting the occasional aromatic whiff of ‘20th century gentleman-style grooming’ within the first 3-4 hours of wear. ‘Barbershop’, anyone? Somehow it brings up for me images of authoritative patriarchs, stern headmasters and influential business barons. Unfortunately the drydown is not quite as evocative and if that aspect is important to you, it’s probably best to look elsewhere.

Yes, nobody’s going to give it marks for ‘originality’. No doubt you could find similar fragrances with better value propositions IF you knew where to look AND care to spend the time to do so. Tom Ford knew this. He made a calculated bet that his target clientele comprises of busy men who probably make a lot more money in the time it takes to search and acquire a cheaper (vintage) fragrance of similar persuasion.

As someone who enjoys this style of fragrance AND appreciate the value of time, this purchase is a no brainer. Well played, Tom.

15th July, 2019
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A Midsummer Dream by Roja Dove

OMG, this is DROP-DEAD GORGEOUS! I don’t really pick out individual notes as they seem to ‘vibrate’, weaving in and out far too quickly for my nose to get a firm lock on, the melange of notes blending seamlessly into one another. Light florals, spiced resins, cool carroty iris, grassy-vetivery and woodsy-vanillic at various points during its languorous evolution.

Personally I’d wear it even if I find it leaning a touch towards the feminine side of the divide. And if I happen to catch a whiff of this out there, there is a 100% chance my STALKER MODE will be activated. Truly top shelf stuff!
11th June, 2019

Aurum d'Angkhor by Sultan Pasha

Do you look at a Van Gogh painting and scrutinise the brush strokes and the myriad hues used by the legendary artist? Or do you simply enjoy the wonder of the experience? Very much in the same vein ask not what Aurum d’Angkor smells like for surely there are no words that do it justice. It is the scent that time itself forgot, of trees and roots so ancient they lived through the rise and fall of mighty kingdoms, of blooms and secret tinctures of such grand opulence they once graced the skin of monarchs and heirs of royal lineage.

All these from a single drop of perfume?
Mind: BLOWN.
Now excuse me while I pick up my jaw from the floor.

27th May, 2019

Homage Attar by Amouage

On my skin HOMAGE was mostly a faint soapy rose over a cloud of frankincense with hints of neroli brightening it somewhat in the beginning. Despite a more-than-generous application, the depth and range of development I had come to expect from such a fabled attar did not materialise. What’s going on, Amouage?

Surely anyone would have been forgiven for having similarly sky-high expectations. It even drove me to seek out and blind buy a decant of the red box vintage just to make sure I get the really great stuff.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not bad, just that its symphony seems lightweight in the deeper bass section. There’s no oud, no amber, no sandalwood to offer deeper contrast and anchor the composition. Projection is weak but lasts well as a skin scent. Had this been a blindfold test there was a mid-phase where I might even pass it off for an aldehydic Chanel which under ordinary circumstances is a big compliment. But we are talking about THE ‘legendary’ Homage from Amouage; this experience was nothing if not a major letdown.
10th May, 2019

Bonheur by Bortnikoff

Airy and aromatic in equal measures, BONHEUR is an excellent composition showcasing the backlighting effect of ambergris on what is essentially a chypre oriental. There is a breezy-fresh almost marine-like undercurrent smoothing out the spikes from the spices and moderating the warmth of the tonka/vanilla base.

Projection is above average for the first hour or two but settles down fairly quickly to a polite yet noticeable presence thereafter. I get the occasional whiff as I go about my usual activity.

Overall I am impressed. Having had the pleasure of wearing ambergris compositions from Areej Le Doré, Bortnikoff’s BONHEUR is arguably the easiest to wear, comfortably positioned between the more aromatic Atlantic Ambergris and the sweeter Baikal Gris.
30th April, 2019

Iris Homme by Parfum Satori

Zesty lemons softened by a hint of orange blossoms pave the way to a cool if slightly powdery iris heart. There is a touch of warmth from the base sandalwood but the overall texture remains clean, airy and dry with an almost Zen-like austerity about it. I thought it smells and wears a lot like pure frankincense.

An iris bomb this is not but more of a polite and polished Japanese interpretation of the citrus-floral-woods genre with a projection that is gentlemanly modest yet robust enough to last the average work day (not in Japan apparently).

Is IRIS HOMME worth paying a premium for? It depends. If I were new to fragrances, probably not. But at the stage I am at, it makes a fine wardrobe addition.
25th March, 2019

Hyde by Hiram Green

If I’d tried something as smoky as HYDE 10 years ago I’d have scrubbed it off within minutes. The birch tar opening is pitch black, tarry and acrid, quickly overwhelming whatever hesperidic topnotes this fragrance may have in the beginning. Do not spray this at the office!

At this juncture I couldn’t help but compare it to another smoky beast - Zoologist’ T-Rex with its savage roar of an opening. Objectively speaking HYDE is the tamer creature. And where T-Rex rampaged on to an interesting ashy floral phase, HYDE mellows down more conventionally, bedding to a comfortably warm vanilla and leathery labdanum.

What_? That’s it?? To be honest my expectations were a little higher to begin with. Blame it on the over-the-moon reviews it’s gotten thus far. Mind you, HYDE isn’t bad, it IS good. But it tramples on old grounds, plays like a B-grade movie with the edgy opening act, a conventional storyline and an ending you could spot from a mile away. Running time seems to be on the shorter side too. The whole experience made me miss Ambre Noir from Sonoma Scent Studio even more.

Perhaps it’s better for me to switch channels and look for the real beast...
26th January, 2019

Eau d'Aviateur by Atelier Flou

A lightly soapy orange-accented musk, repackaged into a fancy bottle with an even fancier price tag. I really wanted to discredit it but I simply couldn’t; smelling it on my skin put me in a cheerful, charitable mood.
25th January, 2019

Tabac Vert by Rogue Perfumery

Aromatic leaves of tobacco warmed over a bed of dry cedar and resinous oakmoss. Tabac Vert eschews the conventionally heavier vanillic accoutrements in favor of a lighter brighter approach, resulting in an elegantly fresh woody chypre.

If Vintage Tabarome reminds one of wood-panelled cigar rooms in men-only clubs then Tabac Vert takes you elsewhere to a private bar with a cigarette on your lips and a glass of Old Fashioned in your hand.

04th December, 2018

Grimoire by Anatole Lebreton

An intriguing portrait of an alpha male painted in hues of dark greens, ashy greys and earthy browns. In my mind it smells primordial, the scent of long-forgotten ancient forests with its intricately woven tapestry of ferns, moss and lichen-covered bark.

OK it’s probably not something the average candy-loving guy would want to smell of. Yet GRIMOIRE surprised me with its thoughtfulness and overall wearability. The blending is seamless, texturally it feels comfortably dry and cool in perfect counterbalance to the saltish skin-like warmth pulsing beneath it like a living beating heart.

GRIMOIRE’s deep grey/green and dry chypre-like profile places it in the same postal code as Guerlain Mitsouko, Dior Eau Sauvage Parfum and Papillon Artisan Dryad - 3 highly respected compositions which makes it a big winner and contender for my top fragrance discovery of the year!

06th September, 2018

Les Trésors de Sriwijaya by Auphorie

A finely blended oriental comprising of smoky resins, warm spices and lush tropical flowers shot through with the house’s note(?) of caramelised Malaccan brown sugar molasses. Lurking underneath it all is a faintly musky leathery animalic presence that rears its nose every once in a while. 3 hours in drydown beckons, an abstract harmony of warm spices and incensy resins.

I’m not blown away by this composition as it stays on the safe side throughout but it wears well and the ingredient quality feels top notch as usual. The fragrance evolution is far from linear with sections of the symphony taking turns to play up their solos.

This is probably not the best Auphorie has to offer but it is easily one of their most wearable. What I appreciate most is the fragrance’s agility and balance, carrying its substantial heft well from start to finish. At no time did I feel overwhelmed despite the oppressive tropical humidity of my locale.
08th August, 2018

Resina by Oliver & Co.

Brand new tires, a dive wetsuit.
Surgical gloves, lightly powdered.
Toasty resins and coffee beans.
A touch of sweetness, a hint of spice.
Sort of an oddball but helluva nice!
31st July, 2018

Ambergreen by Oliver & Co.

Cut grass. Kitchen herbs. Ultrasonic galbanum. Synthetic and harsh in parts but at times oddly riveting in others. I wanted to hate this green ‘thing’ but somehow I couldn’t. AMBERGREEN is to my mind Oliver Valverde’s olfactory interpretation of The Incredible Hulk. Tread carefully with this one...
31st July, 2018

Le Sillage Blanc by Parfums Dusita

After the wonderful bitter green chypre-like opening minutes, what remains in the air is mostly a scrubbed clean and transparent patchouli in the vein of Ulrich Lang’s Nightscape.

Sillage Blanc smells natural with enough roundness to suit either gender but it’s certainly much less than what the accolades made it out to be. If only the opening had extended further into the heart notes I’d be singing a different tune. Right now it feels like I’m in one of those restaurants with a breathtakingly panoramic view but serving mostly solid yet standard fare.

Not impressed.

07th June, 2018

Smolderose by January Scent Project

Opens bittersweet, smoky-oily and jarringly chemical, pretty much like a noxious petrol spill. It settles quickly enough to reveal a drier a little less unpleasant but no less weird melange of fruity/smoky notes that reminds me of cheap shampoos.

I’m disappointed. I’ve heard wonderful things about Smolderose and had looked forward to sampling it. I love rose scents and I’m familiar with rose-oud combos but this oddball is definitely not one of them. I don’t smell any rose of any known genre or subspecies here either.

Maybe I’m hyperosmic to the ‘fruity floral shampoo’ note but IMO it has no business being here. In any case the ‘petrol fumes’ introduction to rose & resins has been done before and with much greater finesse in Histoires de Parfums Rosam. It makes this effort by January Scent Project seems amateurish in comparison.

Ultimately it boils down to the scent. I didn’t enjoy it, couldn’t scrub it off soon enough. And that’s why I’m giving it a ‘THUMBS DOWN’.

04th June, 2018

Binturong by Auphorie

What is a Binturong? Apparently, it's a species of bearcat native to Southeast Asia. Gee, I didn't know that. I must have slept through my Geography classes. Not that it matters, for surely the name is nothing but a marketing decision to align each release with Auphorie's Southeast Asian heritage.

On my skin, Binturong 'purrs' contentedly, a musky leathery oriental of impressive depth and ambition, featuring a barnyard-like almost fecal note that is perfectly tempered by the spices and smoky resins. Thankfully this animalistic aspect hugs the skin so you won't go around reeking of a petting zoo.

After Miyako, this is probably my next favorite from the house. The ingredient quality is topnotch and execution near flawless. I almost feel guilty wearing it when so many people have to make do with expensive yet harsh-smelling chemicals. Fans of Dior Leather Oud should get their nose on this cat before it goes extinct. Or am I already too late?
26th May, 2018

This is Not a Blue Bottle 1.1 by Histoires de Parfums

I am not a fan of screechy woody ambers by any stretch of imagination and This Is Not A Blue Bottle seems to be loaded with the stuff. Fortunately my first encounter with it began last year with a modest dab from a sample because anything more than a single spray is likely to bring me back to the dentist office for a root canal.

Today I wore a single spray to the chest under my shirt. Such a restrained approach to wearing paid dividends. It kept a leash on the screechy base and allowed the rest of the composition to shine. From the electric, almost ozonic orange-laced aldehydes at the top to the warm ambery glow of honeyed musk in the heart. It might not have worked out for some but for me, it did. Beautifully.

I can’t deny the synthetic signature of This Is Not A Blue Bottle is such a departure from the house’ typically richer baroque style but it is clearly intentional and somehow IMO they made it work. The KEY to unlocking its magic is to wear it sparingly.

This Is Not A Weapon of Nose Destruction but it comes close. The power on tap is unbelievable. A single shot to the solar plexus announces my (fragrant) presence with the subtlety of a sports commentator. I dare not attempt it but I believe 3-4 sprays will be the olfactory equivalent of an air raid siren. Joop! Homme has finally met his match.

Olfactorywise, this rates a Neutral from me. It smells like a good designer and reminds me somewhat of Cartier L’Envol. But I appreciate Histoires de Parfums’ audacity to take a cheeky piss on the reigning designer woody amber trend with this irreverent release. That’s why I’m giving this a ‘thumbs up’.

23rd May, 2018

Bel Ami Vetiver by Hermès

Take a best-selling classic, graft onto it a popular more contemporary note and call it a day. JC Ellena made it all look so easy. He basically phoned it in. That’s probably why they call him a ‘master perfumer’.

It seems ‘originality’ is no longer a requirement when you craft for an esteemed house. ‘Commercial success’ is the unspoken rule.

Once again Ellena delivered the goods. Bel Ami fans lapped it up. The cash registers kept ringing while Hermes bean-counters kept smiling. As pleasant as this smells on the surface it fails to hide the stench of cynicism running underneath.

19th May, 2018