Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Oviatt

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Total Reviews: 321
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Moroccan Amber by Dunhill

When I first tried Dunhill’s Signature Collection, the sales associate opined that Moroccan Amber was the best from this line and you know what? He was right. I am not too much of an amber fan and gravitated towards the leather and sandalwood offerings in the collection but this now is my favorite of the four, followed by Indian Sandalwood. Moroccan Amber is the work of Gino Percotino and was meant to be inspired by the spice route. It certainly does have a spicy start, with cardamom and saffron in the opening and middle notes but the star here is a soft, warm amber which is not too sweet or heavy. This is a warm, cuddly, pared down oriental fragrance that is discreet and gentlemanly. While this would be right at home in the watering holes of London’s West End—or Paris or New York, come to that—it has a bit of the Casbah about it. This is the most unisex of the Signature Collection and would be a great autumn into winter scent.
23rd September, 2020
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Arabian Desert by Dunhill

Arabian Desert, part of Dunhill’s Signature Collection, is their entry into the rose/oud market, that note combo so beloved of niche fragrance houses and now drifting into the mainstream. Created by Alexandra Monet, this is in line with the pared down number of notes and also has the bergamot top notes which seem to be thematic with this collection. Now, I do not like the smell of roses and I only just like the smell of oud and even then only when it is very well blended and plays a supporting role. That said, I really like Arabian Desert largely because it is a mellow, scaled back rose and oud which does not shout Midnight at the Oasis but whispers of rich, gentlemanly woods. As with the other offerings in this line, I do not get any bergamot in the opening but I do get a lovely, spicy pink pepper. It is all about the semi-sweet oud note with the rose staying well in the background. The oud (which may or may not actually be oud—I am not a good judge) does remind me of vintage M-7 which is a good thing. This is a rose and oud fragrance as reimagined by a British luxury goods purveyor, gentlemanly and discreet, which suits me just fine.
22nd September, 2020
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British Leather by Dunhill

Dunhill’s British Leather, a part of their Signature Collection, has three simple notes with bergamot as the top note which seems to be a theme for this line even though all four are by different perfumers (in this case, Pierre Negrin). I do not get even a hint of bergamot in the opening and violet leaf which can be such a dynamic element as used in major hits such as Green Irish Tweed and Fahrenheit is missing in action as well. What I do get is a dry, slightly dusty leather note reminiscent of old books. This is not lolling in the backseat of a Bentley Mulsanne or shopping for leather goods in the Via Condotti (or even at Alfred Dunhill!) but picking through shelves of old books in an antiquarian bookstore. Luckily, this happens to be one of my favorite things to do so it gives me a way to appreciate this scent. Think of Heywood Hill on a rainy afternoon—this is British, after all. That said, there are so many wonderful leathers out there that frankly do more for me.
21st September, 2020
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Indian Sandalwood by Dunhill

Indian Sandalwood is one of the pillars of Dunhill’s latest luxury Signature Collection line and they pulled in none other than Carlos Benaim to bring this to life. The old school legacy of Dunhill fits nicely with this last days of the Raj Indian-influenced sandalwood scent. There are only four listed notes which can be a great way to showcase the star of the show, the eponymous sandalwood. That said, I get nothing of the bergamot which is meant to be the only top note in the scent. Right from the start this is a sweet coconut sandalwood—literally like suntan lotion in the opening moments. From there it dries down to a more arid sandalwood with a little desiccated coconut alongside of it. There is an earthy, mossy patchouli note that emerges towards the end of this scent but this is truly a sandalwood scent from beginning to end. Deep into the dry down, the sandalwood and patchouli take on an oud sort of note that is really attractive. It smells of quality ingredients and is very subtle which is saying something coming from the same hand that created the original Polo. There may be better—and cheaper--sandalwood scents out there but this is very nice, indeed, and is subtle enough for the office and could be a good signature scent. The perfect fragrance to wear with a sola topi and a pink gin in hand.
20th September, 2020 (last edited: 21st September, 2020)
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L'Homme Idéal Eau de Toilette by Guerlain

When L’Homme Ideal first came out I sampled it at a Guerlain boutique and didn’t especially like it. I am not into sweet gourmand scents which is why, while I can appreciate L’Instant it was just too confectionery for me. I have revisited L’Homme Ideal, buying a bottle to wear in the fall and it is growing on me. The top notes quickly give way to the amaretto accord which dominates the fragrance throughout its lifespan. The base notes do a good job of grounding the amaretto and give it that new Guerlainade note. As is often the case with Guerlains, there is also a Marzipan, patisserie note (as found in L’Heure Bleue) that reminds me of those amaretto biscotti (children love it when you burn the wrappers). However, the almond aspect of the amaretto also gives this a slightly barbershop quality which I like and helps make this fragrance more masculine. Over all, a very nice scent for cooler weather which will work as well with a cashmere sweater and leather jacket as it will with a suit and tie. I am especially fond of the Cologne flanker although I have not yet tried the other flankers.
16th September, 2020 (last edited: 22nd September, 2020)
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Dunhill Icon Elite by Dunhill

As a fan of the original Icon—and Dunhill fragrances in general—I was interested in the flankers of that very successful scent. Icon Elite is a very good scent and certainly takes the original Icon construct to a different place—a much woodier place. I do not get any citrus in the opening but I do get a strong turpentine note that I really love. Good, artist-quality turps, mind you—none of the DIY variety. I get that same note from Hermèssence Agar Ebène which is my favorite thing about that scent.
Icon Elite rapidly gets to the dry woods which are the centerpiece to this scent, underscored by sage and vetiver. Although not listed, I get a subtle musk in the base notes alongside the suede and even a hint of tonka. Elite is fresh, dry and very masculine and seems to be made of quality ingredients which is in line with the return to quality that the original Icon announced. As I write this (in Los Angeles), the sky is red with smoke, ashes are raining down, midday looks like twilight and the smell of smoke is everywhere; probably not the best environment in which to be reviewing a fragrance. That said, if Icon Elite can stand up to the smell of raging wildfires and still hold its own, that is saying something!
10th September, 2020
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Wood Flake by J-Scent

Wood Flake is less about woods--although they are there--and more about a powdery musk with a slight note of vanilla. Despite the sandalwood and vetiver which are bastions of male perfumery, this leans to the feminine side for me--perhaps because the rose note. Soft, cuddly, not remotely Japanese in its sensibility, this is a well made, quality scent. Perfect for someone.
17th August, 2020
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Armani Eau pour Homme by Giorgio Armani

Armani Eau Pour Homme (1984) is a late arrival—but absolute peer—to an elite group of citrus Chypres starting with Chanel’s 1955 Pour Monsieur and including Monsieur Givenchy, YSL Pour Homme, Capucci Pour Homme, among others. Le Galion’s Whip (1953) should be included in this august company as well. Armani Pour Homme is a soapy, fresh scent that is clean and elegant; it is fresh and light yet the Sandalwood and Oak Moss in its base give it some real heft. I first smelled it in 1985 when I bought a bottle of Ralph Lauren’s Monogram which had just come out. The sales woman at Bullock’s put a mini of the Armani in the bag. When I got home I discovered it, gave it a try and instantly wished I had bought it instead of Monogram. Just as the Ralph Lauren scent completely synced with that brand’s image, Armani Eau Pour Homme perfectly represents the pared down luxury that Armani is known for. As a complete aside, I remember an article in the London Times in the early 1990s in which Norman Lamont, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, claimed that he was addicted to Armani Eau Pour Homme. He has good taste!
26th July, 2020
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One Man Show by Jacques Bogart

This is a darker take on Quorum. I get a green tobacco leaf vibe--possibly the basil in the top notes--and from there it just goes on being a leathery, woody, spicy animalic scent, right at home among the Polos and Aramises of the day. This strikes me a sober, suited, day-in-court/board meeting sort of scent for times when you want to be manly and in control. I perceive no floral notes although it could be that--like the gardenia in Z-14--they are so well blended that you do not perceive them separately and they are just there to support the other, drier notes. One Man Show is very strong, like most of this house's offerings and certainly falls into the powerhouse category. It also reminds me a bit of Ferre for Man but without the sunny, Italian warmth which makes that scent so special. This man may be running the show but do not expect too much fun at the company Christmas party and there will be no gossiping tolerated at the water cooler.
08th July, 2020
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The Swan Princess by The Vagabond Prince

The Swan Princess is a dense, sweet floral scent. The opening notes of violet leaf immediately brings to mind the crisp depth of vintage Grey Flannel. From there the dense florals push through with the iris providing a slight make-up note. The last arrival is the pencil shavings of cedarwood underscored by a soft musk. Smelling this now, it really seems like this should have been called Grey Flannel Pour Elle and small wonder, they share six notes--violet, rose, geranium, moss, cedar and musk. All in all a nicely made, high quality scent with a little gender-bending going on; she may be a princess but she is wearing a gray flannel suit.
05th July, 2020
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Gentle Fluidity (Silver Edition) by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Several months ago I was killing time in Neiman Marcus and had a sniff around the MFK counter. I have sampled many of his scents over the years and just never found anything that clicked. This last time, there were two new entries, the Gentle Fluidity twins. I tried them both and was drawn to Gentle Fluidity (Silver Edition)--not enough to buy but enough that the SA sent me home with a sample which I promptly put in a drawer and forgot about. Well, I found it and am giving it a wearing.

I love the line up of notes--the spices, the woods, the absence of floral notes all bode well for me. What I had forgotten about the first time that I tested it is the harshness of the opening and a weird turpentine meets canned fish note that announces this scent. Possibly the coriander, this is very off-putting, unless the metallic tang to opening a can of sardines is your thing..... Nutmeg steps in soon enough and the whole scent finishes with a musky vanilla note underscoring the harsh metallic top notes. The metallic note reminds me in some ways of the similar note in Halston Man and Safari for Men which I liken to the taste of licking the steel blade of a Sabatier knife. This is weirdly gourmand in a dry, spicy, savory way and will be a miss for me, despite how well made this is.
30th June, 2020
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St Johns West Indian Lime by West Indies Bay Company

This is freshness in a bottle. Crisp linen, pressed madras, Panama hat sort of freshness. Gin and Tonic freshness. There is a slight underlying powdery note to this that really evokes barbershops of the past--and present. As others have said, this is fleeting at best, especially in cooler temperatures. If you want this to last beyond your second cup of coffee, you almost need to keep an extra bottle in your desk drawer or gym bag and top yourself up throughout the day; you'll never get scurvy if you do! As with their other scents, the iconic wicker-wrapped bottle is perfectly in sync with the brand, its legacy and its products.
26th June, 2020
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Land of Warriors by The Vagabond Prince

“Put aside the ranger. Become who you were born to be.”

These words come to mind when I smell Land of Warriors by The Vagabond Prince. With its four layers of leather (vegetal, spicy, animalic and smoky) this summons up everything from a Pharaoh’s woven leather battle gear to the leather tunics of the bellicose Celtoi—with a little gladiator thrown in for good measure. That said, Land of Warriors opens with a clean, fresh leather scent that toggles between something modern, like Cuiron, and musty old leather books stacked in the farthest reaches of the Bodleian Library. The smoky, animalic notes—the real warrior bits—lie far beneath these clean, bookish notes ensuring that the modern-day warrior can wear this to work, do battle, claim victory and not smell as if he missed his—or her--shower that morning. That’s right; modern day Boudicas will enjoy wearing this scent as well.
24th June, 2020 (last edited: 25th June, 2020)
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Enchanted Forest by The Vagabond Prince

This is a very enchanted forest, indeed, as is has a pastry shop right in its middle! I smell first and foremost blackcurrant, not so much on the vine as in a luscious amber vanilla dessert. Around the edges of this swirls fir and cedar, oak moss and patchouli, all the time playing a supporting role to the berries and vanilla. There is a faunish musk, too, right towards the end. This is what tea in Tumnus' cave would smell like (and you cannot get any more enchanted than the forests of Narnia.....). Slightly sweeter than I generally like but done so well that I cannot help but love it. For that reason it leans slightly more feminine (beware the White Witch) to me but easily unisex nonetheless.
22nd June, 2020
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Bass Solo by The Vagabond Prince

Full and fair disclosure—I received my bottle of Bass Solo from The Vagabond Prince by winning an online giveaway and am I glad I did! Never has a fragrance been more aptly named; there is an underlying hum to this scent that really evokes a bass guitar—in the hands of a master (John Paul Jones, I am looking at you). Bass Solo is an amazing fragrance; it is rich and complex and yet soooo subtle and smooth. First and foremost a wood fragrance with Moroccan and Virginia cedars, sandalwood, driftwood and the unique Wenge wood accord playing starring roles. There is a sweet, milky fig accord almost (dare I say it?) semeny in its silkiness which darts in and out among the woods. Birch tar adds an elusive smoky vibe and musk and patchouli round the whole thing off. While this is not an oud fragrance, it has the feel of one, only with every rough edge worn away without a trace of skank. If Lou Rawls was a fragrance, this would be it. Like the underlying bass note in music, you lean into this scent and have to really listen to hear it but once you have identified the rhythm you will never forget it.
18th June, 2020
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Vetiver Citron Cologne Intense by Art of Shaving

Vetiver Citron is a solid addition to TAOS's fragrance line. It delivers on both fronts--a lovely, rooty vetiver and some fresh lemon and grapefruit. The other notes--pepper, tonka, etc.--play supporting roles. Vetiver Citron reminds me strongly of the scent which probably inspired it, Tom Ford's Grey Vetiver, but at a fraction of the price. Part of the "Cologne Intense" line, I do not find that this is a sillage monster or particularly intense in any way which actually makes it a perfect all-rounder, completely appropriate for the office. As the notes suggest, this works extremely well in warm weather.
25th May, 2020
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Incanto pour Homme by Salvatore Ferragamo

Ferragamo’s Incanto Pour Homme is a fresh, fruity, woody scent with some musk and vetiver at its base. This type of scent has been so overdone—even when this was launched in 2004—that it is easy to dismiss them. When done well, this genre is a great allrounder and completely suitable for the office and anywhere else. Incanto, which is a flanker of the feminine perfume by that name, is done well but adds nothing to the genre. The bitter citrus on top is centered with cedar and geranium which gives it a slightly peppery note to offset the sweetness. Sandalwood joins the musk and vetiver in the basenotes. This strikes me as the kind of scent a girlfriend might like to smell on her boyfriend’s neck. I prefer scents to be a little less fruity and a little more masculine smelling but for what it is worth, this is very pleasant.
24th March, 2020 (last edited: 08th July, 2020)
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Acqua di Parma Colonia by Acqua di Parma

Acqua di Parma’s Colonia has been a favorite of mine for years during which time it went from being a well-kept Italian secret to becoming a global phenomenon with multiple lines and flankers. The Grant/Gardner/Niven mystique never fails to entice and the brand has been developed in an extraordinarily smart and successful way. Beautiful packaging! What about the scent itself? Well, it is a classic cologne with its citrus and lavender construct. In that regard it sits nicely among other great classics like Guerlain’s Eaux, 4711, etc. Colonia, however, ramps up the floral aspect of cologne with a strong damask rose in its heart notes. This pushes it dangerously close to the overly floral, lipstick territory from which I tend to run. However, in this case it is so well done that it is actually perfection. The whole cologne vibe is grounded with sturdy base notes of vetiver, patchouli and sandalwood—all stalwarts of traditional masculine perfumery—which not only give Colonia greater depth and greater lasting power but balance the rosy, lipstick note making the whole thing entirely unisex and surprisingly sexy, come to that. Wonderful grooming products as well, especially the aftershave which I think is among some of the best on offer.
20th March, 2020
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Sacred Water by The Harmonist

The Harmonist philosophy is to offer a scent for each of the elements—earth, water, fire, wood and metal—and serve it up two ways. One version speaks to the Yin in us (nurturing and sensitive, represented by the color black) and one version for our Yang side (powerful and assertive, embodied in the color white). As a first time customer, you are invited to enter the details of your birth (date, time and place) which allocates to you your position in the cosmos.

Sacred Water, is an interesting aquatic (described as “Captivating, Essential and Mystical”) that evokes waves crashing against a rocky shore. Mineral notes along with aquatic mosses, woods and grey amber bring this to life. Like all good oceanic scents, there is a note of decay as the ocean constantly renews itself and this decay reminds me strongly of the mustiness associated with a beach house that is being opened for the first time in the summer; not especially nice, but comforting nonetheless.
14th March, 2020
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Velvet Fire by The Harmonist

The Harmonist philosophy is to offer a scent for each of the elements—earth, water, fire, wood and metal—and serve it up two ways. One version speaks to the Yin in us (nurturing and sensitive, represented by the color black) and one version for our Yang side (powerful and assertive, embodied in the color white). As a first time customer, you are invited to enter the details of your birth (date, time and place) which allocates to you your position in the cosmos.

My destination scent on the yang side is Velvet Fire (“Charismatic, Radiant and Sensual”) which has top notes of lavender, coriander and one of my favorite notes in perfumery, clary sage. The heart notes are tobacco and cypress with a base of oud (seemingly ubiquitous in modern perfumery) and tonka. The herbal opening gives this a freshness that never quite leaves even when the tobacco and oud take over. This is oud done right, a bit of skank in a supporting role that never dominates.
14th March, 2020
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Golden Wood by The Harmonist

The Harmonist philosophy is to offer a scent for each of the elements—earth, water, fire, wood and metal—and serve it up two ways. One version speaks to the Yin in us (nurturing and sensitive, represented by the color black) and one version for our Yang side (powerful and assertive, embodied in the color white). As a first time customer, you are invited to enter the details of your birth (date, time and place) which allocates to you your position in the cosmos.

Golden Wood (“Comfortable, Majestic and Powerful”) is a real standout for me—elemi and malted barley give way to oak and black pepper with a leathery birch and tonka base. This is beautiful stuff—sweet with an almost nutty pipe tobacco note that reminds me, in some ways, of Naomi Goodsir’s Cuir Velours. This feels totally masculine to me but could be devastating on a woman. Golden Wood is a cashmere sweater and tweed sort of scent that is sure to be a favorite.
14th March, 2020
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Hypnotizing Fire by The Harmonist

The Harmonist philosophy is to offer a scent for each of the elements—earth, water, fire, wood and metal—and serve it up two ways. One version speaks to the Yin in us (nurturing and sensitive, represented by the color black) and one version for our Yang side (powerful and assertive, embodied in the color white). As a first time customer, you are invited to enter the details of your birth (date, time and place) which allocates to you your position in the cosmos.

Hypnotizing Fire (“Attractive, Warm and Mysterious”), which is my “road to success” scent in the Feng Shui world, is my favorite. It has warm patchouli and vanilla with a rose heart with pimento top notes and opoponax in the base that really speaks to me. I am not alone—it is a best seller in the Los Angeles market. Warm and seductive, this is sure to be a hit with niche perfumistas with a yen for high quality patchouli, rose and vanilla. But just like the note of decay in Sacred Water, there is a slight off note, a dirty/sweaty note that adds depth and—while not quite nice—adds to the seduction.
14th March, 2020
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Challenge by Lacoste

Challenge is a light, woody, musky scent that does evoke the wood of an old racquet and the the plastic grip tape that cushions the handle, which is cleverly represented by the bottle's lid. I do not get any citrus in the top notes. Pleasant, with a soapy cleanliness about it but the game is over all too soon.
13th November, 2019 (last edited: 20th March, 2020)
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Hermèssence Paprika Brasil by Hermès

Paprika Brasil is a bit of an odd fish. It does not smell so much to me of the peppers and wood of its name. The iris note is there but smells more to me of violets and hawthorn. Another reviewer suggested that this is close to Fahrenheit, which I can see, but this reminds me even more of Grey Flannel--a darker, slightly spicy Grey Flannel. All of that said, the iris note skews this to the feminine side for me. I am not an unreserved fan of Ellena's work for Hermes and while there are a few in the Hermessence line that I like--Poivre Samarcande being my favorite--this is a neutral for me.
06th September, 2019
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Blu Mediterraneo : Fico di Amalfi by Acqua di Parma

Fico di Amalfi has a fresh, citrusy opening followed by a peppery fig heart--not too sweet but definitely fruity. Musk and cedar in the base notes gives this some heft but it still remains a light, fresh scent, in keeping with the Blu Mediterraneo mandate. There is jasmine here, but it is so well blended that, like in Eau Suavage for example, it does note read as a floral so much as just giving the whole a slight indolic note. Of the ones i have tried, this is my favorite of the Blu Mediterraneo line and the only one I own. Great for late summer into fall.
30th August, 2019
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Eau du Coq by Guerlain

Eau du Coq is a classic Guerlain eau de cologne, remarkably close to Eau Imperiale. It brings all of the citrus notes and fresh florals associated with the classic EdC construct. Where Imperiale opens with a strong and delicious lime note, du Coq relies on lots of Bergamot. Where Imperiale taps into the famous Guerlain vanilla, du Coq uses a dollop of Civet. Nothing to scare the horses, still fresh and clean.

Eau du Coq has a similar theme to Mugler's Cologne (which came out a century later) which is a clean, bright, fresh EdC but with a little underlying humanity in the form of Civet (which is the elusive "s" note in the Mugler offering).

Long gone before I even finish typing this review but, like Imperiale, worth reapplying at regular intervals.
30th August, 2019
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My Land by Trussardi

This is a recent blind buy for me and I must say that I am happy with it. Not groundbreaking in any way very nicely done. It has that leather and violets combination going for it that works so well in niche scents like Cuir Pleine Fleur with a slightly sweet, nutty tonka base. Almost marzipanny. There is a grassy, dryish vetiver running throughout which firmly grounds it in the classical men's category. The citrus top notes and lavender should push it even closer in that direction but I do not smell the citrus at all and the lavender plays a supporting role, which is nice because it can be very strident in a fragrance. The calone is not overdone. Overall a very nice, safe scent that is fresh and professional yet still a little cuddly in the end. The leather wrapped bottle is very nice, too.
15th May, 2019
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Sandalwood & Cypress Cologne Intense by Art of Shaving

Sandalwood & Cypress Cologne Intense is a great offering from the Art of Shaving, a house which has always done a Sandalwood note really well. Their Sandalwood soap—a hefty bar with a hefty price to match—is one of my guilty pleasures and everything seems to smell better with an underlying hint of Sandalwood. Sandalwood & Cypress opens with a bright Bergamot followed by a slug of pepper (although Cumin is listed, I get no sweaty note here) and then straight to the eponymous notes of Sandalwood and Cypress. During this transition it smells amazingly piney with the crisp, sharp Cypress playing counterpoint to the rich—yet austere Sandalwood note. The basenotes, with their Cedar, Olibanum, Styrax, and Guaiac could overpower but the whole thing—despite its Intense designation—is surprisingly subtle. The Cedar note does have a passing pencil shavings feel to it. All in all, this is a very nice, very masculine scent for any occasion from office to evening and beyond.
01st April, 2019
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Do Son Eau de Toilette by Diptyque

Do Son is a rare thing--a subtle white floral. This is typical of Diptyque's offerings: a few quality notes, beautifully done. This one is all about Tuberose, with Orange Blossom and Jasmine layered on top of a slightly salty marine accord. I smell some phantom Gardenia as well and this line up starts to remind me of a very unsubtle white floral, Fracas, but pared right down to its bones. Do Son--in the Eau de Toilette, anyway--is interesting because it straddles a wide market; my wife loves to wear it and so does my 20 year old daughter. The inspiration--floral offerings at a pagoda in Indochina--seems spot on for this beautiful, pared-down floral.
05th February, 2019
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Ella by Arquiste

Where have I smelled this gorgeous scent before? Why, in the 1970s, of course! Arquiste gets this part just right--it IS a throwback scent but not to the thumping beat of a glitter ball-bedazzled disco. Aviance, Magie Noir and Babe had that sewn up. No, this is a ladylike floral--rose, jasmine--with some obligatory funk in the form of Civet and a swirl of cigarette smoke. Ella evokes the "nice girl" scents of that time--the Anais Anaises and Chloes and Rive Gauches of the day, with freshly washed hair and a ciggie in the ashtray of the VW Golf (don't tell Daddy!). Just as the house's masculine counterpart El smells great, but misses the sweaty gyrations of the discotheque, so too does Ella only halfway deliver on her promise. Pero, no importa--this is great stuff, a quality niche fragrance from another time, right on trend for today.
04th February, 2019