Perfume Reviews

Reviews by pince_nez

Total Reviews: 46

1957 by Chanel

What a delight to wear! A joyful scent that is clean, fresh, airy, and at first sniff -- light. But this is not light. It has some heft and a hauteur that declares itself to be a Chanel. This is a complicated study on musk, several layers of it. Each layer carrying with it notes of bergamot, iris, orange blossom, honey -- eventually resting on a skin scent base of cedarwood and musk. Well-constructed, casually elegant, with a distinctive enviable presence. Imminently wearable and yes, can be unisex.

Bravo! Expect more good things to come from Olivier Polge of Chanel!
07th January, 2021 (last edited: 08th January, 2021)

Vétiver by Christian Dior

A deconstructed, elegant, minimalist, and superb take on vetiver. And by far, my favorite.
The effervescence and tartness of grapefruit gives the fragrance a youthful and fresh opening and tempers vetiver's inherent earthiness and medicinal green-ness.
While the coffee note at the base adds a complexity and heft to it without weighing it down.
Seamless and superbly blended, it beguiles.

Definitely unisex and a good introduction to those that generally feel vetiver is not to their liking.

Sadly discontinued. I wish Maison Dior would have the good sense to bring this back, instead of their current pale and aquarelle offerings that are wan and bloodless.

A masterpiece in my book, and highly recommended!
18th September, 2020

Vetiver Oriental by Serge Lutens

A stylized vetiver that borders on the gourmand. It is almost Baroque, with many facets that point to an Orientalized vision. Greenish and woody, spicy but slightly sweet as well.
If a pronounced vetiver fragrance is what you want, this is not it. Rather the vetiver is coy and hinted.
Hidden. It is like going into a deep forest that darkens, with danger pulling you in.

Well made, coherent, and highly recommended! Especially for the cooler months.
12th September, 2020 (last edited: 01st October, 2020)
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Vetyverso by Laboratorio Olfattivo

An intriguing take on vetiver. Fresh and spicy at first, then gradually deepens, greener and more earthy.
The citrus atop spiced by nutmeg and carnation gives it a unique cologne-like opening. There is a tinge of fruit in this trail as well.
The dominant vetiver note then appears, moderated by pepper and makes its presence felt unto the dry down. An olfactive woodiness introduced by cedar anchors the scent at the base. The base is made lovely by clary sage, giving it a unique twist as it accompanies musk in the dry down!
Beautiful scent and quite unique!

This is unisex.
Highly recommended!
12th August, 2020 (last edited: 14th September, 2020)

Kelly Calèche Eau de Toilette by Hermès

A trick that Jean-Claude Ellena did is to make us think that Kelly Caleche is the modern version, the updated younger version, of the venerable Caleche. That it is aimed primarily for younger women (as the ad says) is a misdirection. Because, honestly, this is unisex.
Which of course verifies that fume-heads are not totally so fixated on "genderizing" scent!

This opens green/vegetal even, but of roses (and not the jammy ones). The effluvia of floral notes is turned down as the mix of lily of the valley, mimosa and tuberose is tempered by iris, giving it a tone of grey or beige, instead of pink. The floral heart is there. But it is fresh and green. Not indolic.
And finally, the leather dry-down. This is suede. Of the finest kind, similar to Daim Blond but without the peach note. This leather is not butch. Not harsh or rough. This is leather expressed in a surfeit of elegance. And if you happen to have smelled Rose & Cuir (Frederic Malle), you will sense their uncanny similarities.

This really is unisex, this is apropos for ladies and men of discerning taste and style.

Highly recommended!
28th June, 2020 (last edited: 03rd July, 2020)

Aleksandr by Arquiste

This is actually a beautiful scent! And I think completely unisex. It has a minty-camphoraceous feel at the beginning (perhaps reminding us that Alexander Pushkin and Russia are the inspirations). I suspect from the fir balsam. Then violets, intense. The violets are then wrapped up in suede, or leather. Floral, yet has an animalic edge to it.

This is not, in my opinion, a casual scent. More formal, reserved. For occasions grand, and to impress with elan.

That Yann Vasnier did it, is no wonder!

17th June, 2020

Italian Cypress by Tom Ford

The younger brother of the venerable Polo by Ralph Lauren. That one was a green/ fresh/ piney/ collegiate all-American preppy. This new Tom Ford was raised in the Continent in the manner of Roman "la dolce vita." Suave, urbane, and endowed with a considerable dose of "sprezzatura" as only the Italians have. They are kin, but not alike.
A perfectly balanced and invigorating mix of citrus and basil opens this wonderful juice, then quickly segues into the dominant green and refreshing cypress note that lingers all the way to the end. Mint colors the pine a little, then the drydown becomes woody and a little powdery.

This is a fresh/ cypress green/ aromatic and woody fragrance that smells wonderful!
By far one of the better Tom Fords around. It's a shame it got discontinued. Scour the internet to get one, if you can.

Tenacious and clingy. With moderate sillage. This is one beautiful Italian.

Highly recommended!
27th May, 2020

First Eau de Parfum by Van Cleef & Arpels

I knew a woman who worked in Wall Street some years ago. She was intelligent, smart, beautiful, and determined. This was her perfume!

No need to rehash what Jean Claude Ellena has done with Frederic Malle and Hermes, in his signature "aquarelle" style, ghostly wisps of odor floating on air, beautiful but fleeting and devoid of "form."

This one has big-boned "form." Everything here is over-the-top. This is perfumery in the grand manner. There is an excess of aldehydes, flowers, woods, and a menacingly animalic dry-down caused by civet.

This is a perfume for intimidation. More dense than Chanel No. 5, and less joyful than Joy, with the bite of "1000."

It is a masterpiece!

14th May, 2020

Carven pour Homme by Carven

This fragrance would be the equivalent of the French word "soigne." Well-mannered, and dressed elegantly. Suave in an affable and nonchalant way. True that this is a more genteel version of Grey Flannel, but I do like it. This also reminds me of Green Irish Tweed from Creed, although I think that one has more Calone and oceanic notes.

Opens with the freshness of grapefruit and the minty tinge of violet leaf balanced by some spiciness from nutmeg and sage.
Cedar anchors it in a base of sandalwood and the earthiness of vetiver.

The violet leaf accord is dominant. You smell it from the start and does not really disappear.

Ideal for men that can carry off a dapper or refined look. Very Continental. I cannot really see how someone brusque can pull this off.

Smells wonderful! Recommended!
13th May, 2020 (last edited: 10th June, 2020)

Cuir Beluga by Guerlain

Though lovely, this has nothing to do with smelling like leather. It's more like the softest, finest suede. It is fairly linear and upon first sniff it smells like the most expensive play-dough. There is a whiff of cherry and almond there, eventually going into gourmand territory with its vanilla base -- powdery with fluffs of heliotrope and the warmth of amber.
This stays close to the skin. Persistently clingy, personal. Not a sillage monster either.
I would find this difficult for a guy to pull off, unless you like doing parody. Or want to strut your stuff -- as a dandy.

A Guerlain, nonetheless. Though the price-point is a tad steep.
27th March, 2020 (last edited: 30th March, 2020)

By Man by Dolce & Gabbana

This is very much a scent of the outrageous, extravagant, and indulgent 80s!
A heady/ spicy/ aromatic oriental powerhouse that has "machismo" written all over it! Housed in a zebra bottle, which is by turn novel and kitschy, it roars and beguiles.
The juice is wonderful -- zesty citrus and dirty lavender opens it, giving it a zing. Then mixed in with these are spicy pepper, artemesia, and warm woods, giving it body. Leather/ amber/ sandalwood anchors it at the base for some heft.
Better than Dolce & Gabanna pour Homme (which came much later) or even the ever popular The One!
Strange why this was discontinued!

This is one sweet-smelling, sexy Italian!

18th May, 2019

Oud Minérale by Tom Ford

I fail to understand why this scent is bashed herein. Because on me this take on oudh with marine notes is -- awesome!
I sampled this yesterday at Barneys. First on a scent card, then on myself. The result was nothing short of amazing!
If by marine or seaweed notes you immediately conjour Acqua di Gio pour homme or L'eau d'Issey, you would be off the mark. This is not the ephemeral, Calone-inspired, sea breeze-tinged fragrance of yesteryears. Rather a new take on oudh. An odd combination really. And rather way out on left field.
It stands out because it is so unexpectedly delightful. It basically is not meant to work well, this combination. But it does, surprisingly!
On first sniff you get a green/ spicy/ vegetal whiff that connotes driftwood or seaweed or the salty tang of the ocean. It is not sharp. More rounded, but has an edge. There is a touch of earthiness in it -- like vetiver. The smokiness and medicinal aspect of the oudh is not front and center. Rather it muted, made to play in the background.
What you get is a marine-inspired oudh fragrance that is imminently wearable, versatile, refined, and well-behaved. This oozes class.
Sillage is good. And this is not too dark to wear, even in Spring.

24th April, 2019 (last edited: 01st May, 2019)

Gabrielle by Chanel

Though composed of top-notch raw materiel, this floral/ woody/ musk fragrance is not substantially different from most of the Chanel line up. Excellent advertisement to go with it when it first came out, sleek - modern - soigne.
The juice unfortunately is a mild disappointment. It is not ground breaking, though it smells pretty. Opens with a bright zing from citrus and aldehydes, then segues into its heart of white florals, after which it rests, ever so gently on a base of sandalwood and musks.
But then again, so does the great No. 5!
If nothing else, I consider this new one a variant and iteration of the classic No. 5. Get that one instead!


26th October, 2018
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Vert Bohème by Tom Ford

An intense green floral that sparkles. Galbanum and mandarin first erupts into a green fizziness and segues into a white floral middle phase of magnolia and honeysuckle then fades (mercifully and quickly) into a hint of faint violet cloud.

A Tom Ford creation that I cannot, in good conscience, endorse.
For the record, this is not unisex.

A disappointment.
28th September, 2018 (last edited: 29th September, 2018)

Neroli Portofino by Tom Ford

If you are a fan of 4711 or Jean Marie Farina (by Roger & Gallet), you will mostly likely enjoy this frag. Fresh/ invigorating/ citrus-herbal-aromatic take on the "kolnisch wasser" genre, this one is quite nice.

It is amplified chic, per Tom Ford, as housed in an aqua square bottle. A great day fragrance, and considerably overpriced and over-hyped. But if you don't mind that, this is certainly enjoyable.

28th October, 2012

Eau de Sisley 2 by Sisley

Of the trio of "eaux" by Sisley, this in my opinion is the standout. Fresh/ lemony-floral/ green fragrance that is enhanced by basil and dries down to a woody-vetiver finish.

Not as green as their Eau de Campagne, but wonderful still nonetheless. This can be worn with equal aplomb by women and men. Eau de Sisley 3 has more a darker hue, tinged by rose. It is more feminine IMO.

On a similar note, if you have come across Barneys New York's Route du The -- you may know right away that smell quite alike.
20th October, 2012 (last edited: 28th October, 2012)

Balenciaga Paris L'Essence by Balenciaga

A lovely compelling fresh green fragrance. Evocative/ distinctive/ unique/ endearing composition that highlights violet and violet stems and the rooty medicinal aspect of vetiver.

This can be worn equally well by a man.

30th April, 2012 (last edited: 06th August, 2018)

Aventus by Creed

Perhaps we are bowled over and get awe-struck when we deal with Creed fragrances. Now that Frederic Malle and others which are more niche and forward-looking (Byredo, Margiela, Kurkdjian, Tauer, etc.) -- even Kilian and Amouage -- have risen to ascendance -- this illustrious house seems to have slightly lost its cachet.

Enter Aventus. It is expensive. It is exclusive. It is luxury personified. But ground-breaking it is not.
If you happen to have come across Jacques Bogart's "One Man Show" in the early 80s, you'd have found Aventus. Yes, Aventus is better made. But is it worth it?

Non, in my opinion.
06th December, 2011 (last edited: 05th January, 2012)

Fuel For Life pour Homme by Diesel

A fresh/spicy woody fragrance for the modern man! The grapefruit blooms first but this is quickly eclipsed by a very forceful anise note (like in le must de Cartier pour homme) tempered by the subsequent tartness of raspberries. Violet leaf then kicks in -- green/fresh/vegetal/ slightly spicy. Until finally this whole scent structure alights on a bed of doughy and sweet heliotrope and dry woods (cedar?).

Can this be unisex? Perhaps. Imho, it's more masculine. As a tongue-in-cheek appeal, the canvas covered whisky-flask looking bottle is very apropos!

22nd November, 2011 (last edited: 05th December, 2011)

Guerlain Homme Eau de Toilette by Guerlain

An ice-fresh citrus-mint fragrance darkened by rum and finished off with limes that is meant to evoke -- the mojito! This is an ideal summer scent -- fresh/ young/ playful yet elegant!

The sleek stream-lined bottle, designed by Pininfarina, obviously helps in its appeal.


17th November, 2011 (last edited: 16th May, 2019)

Bottega Veneta by Bottega Veneta

Jasmine/ plum/ patchouli/ leather -- so says Botega Veneta's ad on their premier perfume.
Could it really be this simple? I am sure there are other ingredients thrown in there but this scent's development follows this fragrant route. Fresh lightly indolic jasmine opens followed closely by the deepening sweet richness of plum then the dankness and spiciness of patchouli interfers until it settles into the softest animalic warmth of suede.

A marriage of Italian chic and German precision (Tomas Maier is, after all, a German) -- this frag succeeds brilliantly. It is warm but not frilly, its development properly delienated and in its simplicity and understated elegance, it is relentlessly chic.

Like the darker/spicier Daim Blond (its distant cousin) -- this is unisex.

A beauty! Recommended!

16th November, 2011 (last edited: 13th February, 2013)

Diorissimo Eau de Toilette by Christian Dior

The scent of a field of lily of the valley shrouded in the hazy/ dewy/ cool/ evanescent veil of fog on a spring morning! Prim/ proper/ Victorian/ virginal -- Diorissomo exudes a child-like innocence in its simplicty. And that is perhaps its genius.

This a white floral scent that floats/ light as air.

16th November, 2011

Eau de Campagne by Sisley

A vivid green fragrance that is fizzy at the top/ intense and quite legible with a mossy/earthy drydown. Tomato leaf and basil give this frag a herbaceous and vegetal vibe while the spiciness of geranium add its own kick.

If you like the original Pour Monsieur (Chanel), Diorella, and Cristalle -- even Vent Vert, you will like this too.

Don't complain about its longevity, just re-apply and freshen up!

Highly recommended!
13th November, 2011

No. 19 by Chanel

An iconic/ aloof/ hissing and venomous green chypre of a fragrance that beckons admiration but only from afar. The anti-thesis of the voluptuously powdery rose-jasmine No. 5, this fragrance is for a woman now characterized by angularity and prismatic sharpness, like a crone, still beautiful but now older and "more handsome" -- even butch. Feminine still, but almost heartless.

Ideal for those that want to project elegance tinged with masked steeliness and severity.

Highly recommended and a masterpiece!
10th November, 2011

Prada Candy by Prada

A departure from the singularly minimalist chic that is the Prada ethos. This is a gourmand oriental that is in the vein of Angel (without Angel's angular dialetic sharpness). Having said this, I find Candy (by Prada) exactly like candy -- caramel candy to be exact. Sweet, flirty, playful -- young/ or at least in my opinion, for the young.
Difficult to pull off if you want to present yourself with sophisticated veneer.

The sweetness of caramel blasts you first, then it segues into a vanillic/benzoin combo, after which it finally rests on a powdery/musk combination. The caramel note is all-pervasive and it still faintly lingers in the dry-down.

A dandy can actually pulls this off!
09th November, 2011

Kiton Black by Kiton

Like the angular and minimalist designs of Rem Koolhaas -- this too plays with light and shadow. It is elegant and classy. It opens with a fizzy top which is like soda pop infused with red berries (Kiton is after all Italian), and then it segues into a very pronounced wall of violet leaf -- fresh/ heady/ persistent/ green just touched by the spice of cardamom and rounded by the woody warmth of cedar.

Then it darkens after an hour or so. I smell very distinctly -- pencil shavings! The earthiness of vetiver asserts itself very quickly -- slightly medicinal. Suede finally arrives -- like a soft warm caress though still colored by the lingering violet/vetiver tandem.

Highly recommended!

07th November, 2011 (last edited: 17th July, 2020)

Eau de Pamplemousse Rose by Hermès

As most have already written, mine is but an iteration of the other reviews -- which I mostly agree with.

A classic and straightforward grapefruit/rose frag that is well-executed in the inimitable Jean-Claude Ellena style. Yes, it is fresh -- like a summer drink to be had at the height of the noonday sun. Yet somehow -- despite this evanescent style/ this fizzy frothy top, it darkens and becomes spicier -- an incredible rose note appears -- dewy, dank, dark red intense and indeed beautiful! As if, having just sipped your lemonade -- you find yourself in a field of dark red roses -- its bouquet headily wafting in the breeze!

So though configured to refresh in the classic eau de cologne style, this one intrigues, beckons, and beguiles!

I would call this "Portrait of a Lady" light. Excellent and highly recommended!
07th November, 2011

Idole d'Armani by Giorgio Armani

The House of Armani now has 46 (and counting) fragrances in its stable. Out of that vast number, I can honestly say that I admire only three -- this would be one of them. The original Armani (a dark smoldering chypre beauty, would have sufficed as the signature house frag -- imho) is another.

This opens with a fresh floral/fruity accord that is beguiling, then it deepens and becomes spicier and heady after which it darkens even more -- until it settles into a ravishing mix of patchouli and vetiver. This frag is well constructed and though "Italian" avoids the fruit/salad syndrome so identified with that cliche.

02nd November, 2011 (last edited: 07th November, 2011)

Sweet Lime & Cedar by Jo Malone

A splendid offering from Jo Malone that tells you straight up, without artifice or pretension, that it is -- Sweet Lime and Cedar. Yes, it does have many ingredients, but in the end it reduces to this very beautiful cologne (of average sillage), that is citrusy/ fresh/ slight sweeter (than Lime, Basil & Mandarin) and woody.
It is unisex (as the best ones usually are) and though it breaks no ground and shatters no convention, it is nonetheless a beautiful composition that sits coyly on the left of bombast.

Give this a spin. It is worth it!
24th October, 2011 (last edited: 01st November, 2011)

Green Irish Tweed by Creed

What else could I possibly write about this fragrance that has not been written elsewhere. A one of a kind scent much imitated and copied and the grandfather of all those fresh/ozonic/watery and Calone-inspired scents!

That said, if this was good enough for Cary Grant, this should be good enough for me (IMHO).
Kudos to the master perfumer Pierre Bourdon!
01st September, 2011