Perfume Reviews

Reviews by likouala_man

Total Reviews: 15

Musk Lave by Areej le Doré

I've never done such an about-face as I did on Musk Lave. I've been working through some of ALD's offerings, trying full bottles of War and Peace (amazing) and Agar de Noir (stunning). Nothing I've come across in the past prepared me for the strange accords that make up Musk Lave. I started by reading a rather negative review by the very articulate Kafkaesque, which focused on the 'marshmallow' lavender sweetness of Musk Lave. I took multiple wearings for my mind to sort out what was happening. Reading another review that described the notes in more detail really helped, especially concerning the sandalwood. The effect of verbal descriptions on our perception of smells is a very interesting thing. Initial impressions aside, here's what I get now.

First of all it does smell like lavender! Surprise surprise. And it is a smooth, pillowy soft lavender, not the sharp woody side of it that you get in Lavender frags. It's hard to separate it in the early stages from the very strong and beautiful real animal musk that pervades the juice. It's the musk-lavender accord that my mind initially rejected as bizarre. It smelled like some sort of sweet plastic, very strange. But over repeated wearings I find this increasingly addictive. I realize that I'm actually smelling lavender. The sandalwood contributes to this initial accord as well, but I can't distinguish it as a distinct note at this point. It's just this creamy delicious accord, with a dark pissy-stinky undercurrent from something like Civet? Not listed in the notes?

Only when the lavender and musk have died down, does the sandalwood come into its own. After a couple of hours, the sandalwood is glorious. Once I understood that, it all resolved in my mind. I still don't get the labdanum, oakmoss or 'iris accord' but perhaps with time, my mind will discern these as well. Notice that I say, 'mind' and not 'nose'.

What I love about ALD's offerings is this smell of real things. The mind is slow to sort out what is going on, but this one was really worth the wait and effort. It's almost impossible to find now, and getting rarer with each passing day. I wonder if there will be a Lave Musk II?
19th January, 2021

Agar de Noir by Areej le Doré

I don’t know why Agar de Noir doesn’t get more love. Maybe it’s more unknown than unloved! It is beautiful, long lasting and dirty in the nicest way. It is thick, syrupy and luscious without being cloying, and it’s just so darkly masculine. The effect is calming on me, it’s a true work of perfumery art in my view. I’d swear I smell castoreum in there but it isn’t in the list. I’d like to smell it on someone else to reassure myself I’m not overwhelming everyone around me. It’s very strong. One of my all time favorites. All thumbs up.
31st December, 2020

Mysterious Oud by Bortnikoff

It all started for me with YSL M7, and Ajmal Saif Al Hind, which was a nice Hindi Oud and Rose mix (with a few other things of course, probably saffron, as that's standard). It was powerful stuff. Then I went through a long binge with all those expensive (at the time!) Amouage attars, buying full bottles of many of them. Fast forward 10 years and now Oud is pretty mainstream, with every house obligated to have oud offerings in their lineup, and much of it manufactured oud, not natural. I had a hiatus with my perfume obsession for a few years, but I'm back and bitten hard by the bug. The Amouage attars seem inexpensive now compared with the new batch of offerings from Areej, Bortnikoff, Dove, and Ensar Oud (among others).

So I got me a little sample vial of Bortnikoff Mysterious Oud on Ebay and have been working with it for a couple of days. The guy I bought it from mislabeled the vial with 'Mysterious Mud'. LOL.

Out of the gate, it is very rich, with a complexity that is compelling. One of the first things I get, beside the initial 'gasoline / hydrocarbon' notes of the oud(s) spinning off, is chocolate! A sort of rich candied chocolate. I don't think cacao is listed in the ingredients. It's funny what the mind does when it comes across something it isn't familiar with. The opening for me is very delicious with this rich foody thing going on. Yeah, a spiced candied chocolate oud. Nose buried in wrist, pleasure neurons firing like crazy. That stage lasts for a nice amount of time.

I can smell the different ouds, but the blending is good, they are like different musical registers, with high, middle and low notes. The overall effect is indeed full and 'Mysterious' and exotic in a nice way. Florals? Spices? Incense? My mind needs more time to unpack the full range of impressions.

I don't know if I'd spring for a full bottle of this stuff. I'm just getting started with my sampling of the latest gems from the Russian Emigré community in Thailand. A nice offering from Monsieur Bortnikoff, both exotic AND wearable. Good job. Thumbs up for Mysterious 'Mud'!

13th November, 2020 (last edited: 19th November, 2020)
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Molook Attar by Amouage

I've used Ajmal's Saif al Hind for several years, so i'm familiar with the animalic barnyard side of Hindi Aoud. Saif al Hind is sweeter than Molook, but it's the same basic composition of Taif Rose, Hindi Aoud, and a few spices. I think Saif Al Hind has saffron, and musk, while Molook has sandlewood and ambergris.

My nose couldn't process Molook for the first few wearings. It sort of reminded me of Homage, and other Amouage attars.
There is something a little harsh and austere about Homage. Maybe it's the frankinsense?

A week into the testing of Molook, i'm hooked on the stuff. My wife complains when i wear it, so i'm wearing it on the skin on my chest, and hopefully several layers of clothing can filter most of what she doesn't like! Maybe she will grow to like it as well. Then again...

I think Molook gets this mukhallat genre exactly right, it's warm, compelling and mysterious. After starting out with the 3 ml small size, I just sprang for the big 12 ml bottle from Amouage (AKA Tola). Hopefully it will last me for the rest of my life on earth. Since it is discontinued, I don't want to ever run out. If you are into bottles, the Amouage attar bottles are works of art.

The tiniest drop stinks to high heaven and lasts for 10 hours of so, so go easy! It's beautiful, get it while you can.
21st March, 2016 (last edited: 25th March, 2016)

Himalaya by Creed

Himalaya is a fragrance which has 'moments'. First there is the opening moment, the citrus blast together with some spicy pepper and some accord which just comes off 'creamy'. It is very delicious at this point, heady, intoxicating. Later the warm woods blend in and it is still very beautiful. Then even later there is a moment of sourish, conventional amber which I don't like much, but this too passes and the drydown is soft, close to the skin, and nice. I've owned Himalaya a couple of times over the years. The memory of it stays with me. There is something about it that calls you back.
15th May, 2011

Wild Lavender / Inglese by Lorenzo Villoresi

I've done a 360 degree reversal on this one. I loved it from the samples I'd tried, so I bought a big bottle. However with the bottle in my cupboard, I almost detested it when I first tried it and tried to get rid of it but never succeeded. So I tried it again and began to appreciate it. It is very clean and fresh though quite short lived. I love lavender in its astringent incarnation so this partly gives me that. Villoresi frags are unlike other perfumes, it is true. You can tell Villoresi is not working in the French tradition but just experimenting and finding his own way. The results are striking smells that are very evocative and 'artistic'. So after that journey, I give it thumbs up and recommend it to lavender buffs.
21st June, 2009

Steam Aoud / Oud Hoggar Mota by Montale

Well, Steam Oud finally. I definitely get the 'wet' note here (an entirely new take on 'aquatic' that's for sure) and the 'steamy' wet note is just as surprising as the 'water' note in Milliseme Imperial. How do they do that? Steam Oud is milder than the powerhouses Black Aoud and Aoud Lime both of which assault the senses early on, but Steam Aoud does last a good long time on my skin. And the drydown is really subtle and mild (about 6 hours after application). There is a pleasant spiciness which I can only assume is the 'hoggar motu'. The spice is a slightly mysterious and quite exotic otherworldly note that blends nicely with the aoud during the development. Strangely, what all this evokes for me is the wet and steam of washing clothes and then having the damp clothes sitting around in piles! It is that particular rank and dank mustiness that is fascinating. There is a slight suggestion of mold or mildew which is intriguing but slightly offputting too. I keep going back and forth on this one, but I do like it. It is mysterious.
19th June, 2009 (last edited: 30th July, 2009)

Royal Scottish Lavender by Creed

I'm on my second bottle of Royal Scottish Lavender. After a year away from it and tiring of the sweet and fruity genre, I came back to this dated, sharp, but nicely composed fragrance. I did wonder if the composition had changed as I didn't notice the vanilla at all in my first bottle of RSL. The lavender seemed more antiseptic and astringent the first time around, but the nose perceives scents differently the second time around too. This second bottle does give a clear vanilla note. I've tried most of the Creeds and this one gets my vote for most long term appeal. It is good stuff, especially for the summer and makes me want to get to know lavender better. Maybe I'll spring for a bottle of LV Wild Lavender soon...
01st May, 2009

Erolfa by Creed

Finally, my bottle of Erolfa arrived! I'm still figuring it out, and it smells a bit different each time I apply it. I can definitely see the resemblance to Imperial. The one thing that really stands out to me is the Coriander note! It is prominent and very sharp and strong. We eat a lot of freshly prepared curry in our household and the coriander note here is startling. I immediately thought 'curry'! Now this is not the way Erolfa is normally analyzed, I know, but that is how it hit me. I think it is largely the coriander which provides the pungent 'tangy' note described by so many (or perhaps the coriander blending with someone else). All in all I love this once the coriander settles down a little and integrates. Then all is lovely. The combination of creamy house-notes from Creed and the tangy stuff is pure magic to me. I love it. Clean, fresh and dirty all at the same time.
10th July, 2008

Vetiver by Lorenzo Villoresi

Lorenzo Villoresi Vetiver, I've been waiting a long time to get my hands on this one. I consider myself a vetiver lover (I have tried many of the heavy hitters MPG RdV, FM Extraordinaire, Goutal, Carlo Corinto, Givenchy vintage, etc). I wasn't put off by the astringent raw blast of RdV, but the strong herbal onset of LVs vetiver smells initially to me like rotting lettuce! Sorry, but that is what I got, just very very herbal green but not in a nice way. Then as the frag settles down and opens up, a wonderful transformation happens. It isn't the vetiver that diminishes, but some other 'green' herbal note in the top notes that thankfully evaporates away. As the notes get properly oriented to each other, a harmonious whole eventually emerges, and this is lovely. It is warm woodsy, soothing, slightly spicy, yet with the raw strident vetiver note never far away. I actually like this vetiver note, and LV just gets better and better as the hours pass. The vetiver turns slightly sour/bitter near the end, when all else is gone, and it must stand alone, but this may just be my skin. For me it is a fragrance designed to smell good only after about 30-40 minutes, and then increasingly good or another 5 hours or so, but think of the design genius this requires! It isn't a matter of a pleasant but short lived accord that thrills right out of the bottle. The real delight is in the long lasting wood-vetiver accord modulated by supporting green and spicy notes. This ranks up there with RdV and Vetiver Extraordinaire as the 'amazing three' in terms of potency, longevity and vetiver_trueness. And it lasts a good long time. Did I mention that the Givenchy Vetyver (vintage but recently re-released in France is VERY good too). You're lucky if you ever see it outside of France. But back to LV Vetiver, two thumbs up for being the wild and lovely thing it is!
03rd June, 2008

Pour Un Homme by Caron

This fragrance is so evocative. I happened to get hold of the older version which is NOT the bright green color and also the bottle label is different. This more vintage one has just "Pour un Homme" on the label with "Caron" near the bottom, while the newer one has "Pour un Homme de Caron". The new juice is bright green in color and the older juice is greenish brown. Now the newer one smells bright and clean while the older one smells darker and dirtier. I am sure the composition is roughly the same lavender-vanillas theme but there are differences. In the vintage there is the definite smell of cat-pee for a 5-10 minutes (AKA civet) and something like a tobacco note, but this isn't listed in the ingredients. In the newer one, I don't get the cat-pee note, and it is the poorer for not having it. I find the newer version sweeter and less complex and naughty, so my vote is for the vintage if you can find it. The label is the give away for this one. The vintage label has just "Pour Un Homme" and NOT "Pour Un Homme de Caron". There is an even older version which has the subtitle on the label "Les plus belles Lavandes", after the name "Pour Un Homme". I've just found a bottle of that vintage on Ebay and will report back after trying it.

06th April, 2008 (last edited: 09th July, 2012)

Royal Water by Creed

Royal Water is a comfort fragrance for me. I've gone to it and then gone away from it several times over the years. There is something there that keeps me coming back. It has gotten the 'you smell great!' reaction from several friends who appreciate beauty and that says something. I'd like to always have a bottle of this around. I like the seamless combination of citrus, floral and musk. It is lively and enchanting.
06th April, 2008

Piper Nigrum by Lorenzo Villoresi

LV's Piper Nigrum is simply wonderful. It should be called Pepper Cream, but Piper Nigrum is definitely cooler! I have sampled a pretty good range of so called 'niche' fragrances, but nothing has held my interest like PN (and his 'brother' Yerbamaté). The ingredients in both of these are unusually 'raw' and 'natural' (certainly you have noticed how these adjectives keep coming up in descriptions of Villoresi fragrances). I find the Artisan fragrances anemic by comparison (and I have tried many of them: 'Tea for Two' is the best of the lot and my wife likes Té pour une été.)Similarly the Creeds are complex and beautiful but fleeting (and who can argue with the genius of Green Irish Tweed, Bois du Portugal, and Imperial). Still, I've ended up selling off (or wishing I could sell off!) many of my 'niche' fragrances over the years but I'd never sell my PN or Yerbamaté. Never!
10th December, 2007
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Yerbamate by Lorenzo Villoresi

Yerbamaté is very complex. The others have exhausted the analysis of 'notes' so I'll just be poetic about how this fragrance makes me feel. I find it soothing and centering, evocative of high windy heights, and the smoke of campfires in the forest. It's a thing of beauty, artistic in the extreme. I don't get much 'powder' from this one, just a lot of 'clean', 'green' and tea-incense. An enchanting marvel; I hope I don't run out anytime soon.
10th December, 2007

Messe de Minuit by Etro

MdM was too sharp and exotic for me. It hurt my nose! I just could not 'love' it. I tried it for a few weeks and then sold it. Etro is an interesting house, though. I still have a bottle of Palais Jamais that I smell from time to time.
10th December, 2007