Reviews of No. 88 
Czech & Speake (1981)

Average Rating:  101 User Reviews

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Reviews of No. 88 by Czech & Speake

Despite No. 88's reputation as a "dark" scent (mostly a misconception due to its unique black bottle), No. 88 is a masterfully crafted floral-chypre with a fougere structure, that is both long-lasting and projects very well for the best part of the day.

The cologne version in its current form comes across as quite powdery and packed full of geranium. The rose and woods play a supporting role here. In the more recent Eau de Parfum, the geranium and powdery notes are toned down and allow the rose and woods to come to the front much more. This is reminiscent of the vintage version and it results in a much smoother fragrance overall. Both versions have a touch of sweetness due to the frangipani. To me the cologne is a like, whereas the EdP is a love.

From experience, the Cologne works well in warmer weather - the opening freshness from the bergamot and accompanying florals (geranium and rose) make for a welcome change to the traditional citrus-chypre warm weather scent. Conversely, the new Eau de Parfum works well in the cooler months due to the more pronounced woods, but either can be worn so long as they are used in sensible quantities.

All in all, a unique floral-chypre fougere, centred around rose, with a classy character that is totally unisex.
Feb 24, 2021

This was a pleasant surprise. I like male rose fragrances, but some of them can be pretty challenging. No. 88 is perhaps the best one I've tried so far. I also like Mad Hat Scents Rosa Resin a lot as well, but Czech & Speake's No. 88 is also excellent! This starts out with the rose and geranium, but I get a strong overall clove vibe with this fragrance that I really love. This actually smells something like Sen Sen to me, or it gives me a scent memory of what I remember Sen Sen smelling like, but it was a licorice and anise smell, not clove. Come to think of it, No. 88 has a star anise vibe like the fringes of Rive Gauche Pour Homme. Don't get me wrong, No. 88 doesn't smell like Rive Gauche Pour Homme per se, but I believe there is a star anise presence of something coming off of No. 88 like RGPH has. This is a wonderful fragrance in my opinion and I think it's one I could become even more fond of over time. One of my favorite so far from the British gentleman genre. Well done Czech & Speake!
Jan 24, 2019

This is somewhat intoxicating but sinister, as if it could be the last scent you remember before you die. It’s so heavy and humid it’s claustrophobic. It seems like a deceiver, a beautiful siren luring you to death. Too much of everything. A heavy jungle scent that lures you inside vines of decadent roses until the vines wrap around you and squeeze out all the life. Suffocating.
May 27, 2018

No. 88 was the object of one of Turin & Sanchez's most apposite reviews in The Guide, described as something like "instant Victoriana", if memory serves. And that is spot on: I can see this being worn by Pip and the other gents in Great Expectations and other literature set in that era. It's the instant masculine take on florals that gives off this characteristic Gothic vibe. As the scent progresses, there is a slight almondy influence which adds sweetness but never detracts from the freshness of the whole. And the base carries on in the same vein, with vetiver and sandalwood working in harmony to create a dry-sweet accord. Although listed as an EDC, this has much better longevity on me than the other C&S colognes. Direct rivals are likely to be Floris' No. 89, Trumper's Eucris, perhaps something like Encre Noire for its sheer darkness, and perhaps Richard James for that well-healed English thing. This is good, though, and after two days on skin I can easily imagine dropping money on it.
May 3, 2018

Honestly, it took me a few tries to warm up to 88. It goes on smelling like a fairly typical natural oil perfume - that mix of greens, flowers, and herbs, but 88 wraps its naturals in a chemical sheen that makes everything much louder and brighter than a natural perfume would be. Given time, it reaches a point where it stays most of the day: primarily geranium, with hints of rose for brightness and leafy green herbs for depth. It wears a lot like Brut, not that 88 smells like Brut, but it shares a lot of DNA and has a similar old-school masculine heft and volume, so I think fans of one would probably enjoy the other.

And, for those who care about such things, I've officially received more compliments wearing 88 than I have for anything else in years. One random college girl actually said I smelled like someone's sexy dad, so um, there's that...
Sep 17, 2017

Stardate 20170309:

A decent traditional cologne with some woody twist.
I am not a big cologne guy and this one performs bad so a neutral.

Others here mention good performance. Maybe this one has been reformulated for the worse like the other ones from C&S when they changed suppliers and moved production to UK from Italy.
Mar 9, 2017

As a novice with scents, I am cautious to offer opinions. Many of the components are new to me.
I've never tried RoseOtto before, the opening seemed a bit like patchouli, then showing a keenness of rose; settling into a subtle vetiver and sandalwood partnership overcast by some scents of unknown essence. Very precise. For Holmes not Watson.
Feb 21, 2017

Nothing special about 88 to me. Smells like an expensive soap. Smells more feminine to than unisex. Not a bad fragrance, just not for me.
Jan 12, 2015

Two components are dominant on my skin: a dark, harsh and earthy Vetiver root, and a deep, rich, dark Rose Otto. Darkness concentrated. Geranium provides for glimpses of light, akin to sun rays breaking through the small windows in an old Gothic church. Impressions of incense and of a medicinal licorice are added in the drydown, and the base develops sandal wood that has a waxy undertone. Darkness, Victorian, Edwardian formal assertiveness in a bottle. At times with edges, harshness, and composed of excellent raw material.

Porformance is excellent, with great projection, strong sillage and about nine hours of longevity on my skin. A classic dark woody/floral creation. 4/5

Dec 14, 2014

A dark, humid, camphoraceous masculine chypre centered on rose, sandalwood, bergamot, with earthy-mossy notes and an overall kind of dusty-musky breeze. Dense and slightly animalic at first, shady and strong, not far from classic stuff à la Cabochard, just less complex, more woody and masculine, and without leather, but that is the mood – a nostalgic, a bit "heavy" and to be honest, boring after a while, austere and elegant fragrance, quite in a decadent meaning. The drydown features mostly a sort of dark-soapy note with nuances of wet dead roses. Not bad, not stunning, frankly a bit plain and monotone (above all because of a general humid "heaviness), but if you like the – few – notes, then it may work for you.

Jun 26, 2014

Genre: Woods

Pluran mentions No. 88 in his review of Montale's Black Aoud, and the comparison is quite apt. Both are rich, dark, woody rose scents of tremendous intesity. I agree with pluran's assertion that No. 88 is the more complex and rounded of the two. It's more polished than Black Aoud, but that extra polish makes it less arresting than the Montale scent. Both are outstanding masculine rose-based fragrances, but I prefer the blunt savagery of Black Aoud to the sophisticated romance of No. 88. Personal preferences aside, No. 88 is a great scent, and a "must-try" for anybody who assumes that roses are not meant for men.
Jun 21, 2014

The first few minutes were just as I had expected: a lightly soapy rose, a hint of geranium. Understated and somewhat Edwardian in style. Picture a dandy in a Homburg, a sharp 3-piece suit and a cravat walking down Bond Street on a cool, crisp morning. But as the rose fades away, what gets left behind paints a completely different scene. The dandy has ducked into an alley and found himself at a little Indian spice stall. I'm talking about dirty-earthy-musky vetiver roots and faintly spiced sandalwood. If you enjoy such masculine basenotes, this could well be your holy grail. Alas, I don't.
Jun 19, 2014

I could imagine a vampire wearing this when trying to seduce a woman...not a twilight vampire either but the gothic yet mysterious vampire that can lure you in. This is very gothic smelling it smells like dusky roses on a misty night. Roses on men is not something I would normally put together however this works very well if you are not afraid to flaunt it. It holds a air of mystery about it, masculine yet feminine at the same time. I could think that this would have been big on the new romantic scene in the 80's.
Mar 27, 2014

For us baby boomers think: Cashmere Bouquet bath soap circa 1950s. This is a perfect replica and... nothing to sneeze at.

Like stepping out of the shower on a summer day: super fresh with great longevity and character.
Apr 27, 2013

Superb. I was expecting dark, foreboding, and ominous. What I instead got was pleasant, inviting, lightly oriental, slightly rosey. Longevity and projection are fantastic!
Apr 20, 2013

My initial expectations of this have been more than surpassed. It took me a while to get around to ordering a sample and I was trying to keep my expectations low based on other reviews of 88 I've read. I'm a sucker for so-called "dark" scents and was curious for some time about this, being that it is supposedly Ozzy Ozbourne's signature smell and seems to have a reputation of being "temple" or "funeral"-like. However, I tend to dislike many incense smells (while I occasionally burn incense in my house, incense notes in perfume tends to give me sneezing fits).

I definitely get the dark atmosphere 88 conjures for people. But I'm actually very surprised by how fresh it smells on me. Putting it on right after a shower, it doesn't project any kind of dirty aura, but rather one that is, in my mind, clean and refreshing. I chalk this up to the geranium note, which I seem to be getting very strongly on my skin. The rose note is more subdued. I was thinking this would be similar to Montale's Black Aoud, one of my absolute favorites, but, no, these two fragrances are very different, and in a very good way. I live in San Francisco a few years ago and 88 totally reminds me of a scent you get from the head-shops on Haight Street, sweetly mysterious and enticing.
Dec 24, 2012

It's rare that I place such high expectations on something...and in this case, I was absolutely salivating at the note pyramid. I traded for a little decant through BN and the vial contents smelled amazing, though it really was not enough to cover my wrist. I finally got a hold of a partial bottle on eBay, and BAM. Expectations exceeded.

I am not a 'nose', so I'll give you the dimestore review...

Overtly pungent at first spray - smelling somewhat like the old powdered soap that you would find in a fancy hotel or restaurant in a funnel dispenser. Overwhelming and a bit on the stinky side. My entire olfactory system went on overload and nearly crashed. Thankfully, it only lasted a few minutes, after which the real heart of 88 sinks in and the good stuff emerges. It's pretty masculine for a unisex scent, and I could see a dude in a tux and top hat wearing this while riding a high wheel bicycle past Mary Poppins and the kids watching Burt make chalk drawings on a London sidewalk.

It's classy, but I can also see myself putting 88 on before a concert - or an evening outside on the town. Different from Rive Gauche, but also similar in some ways. It makes me want to shave with a straight razor.

Overall, it's high quality if not a bit short on the longevity. Whatever. I dig the stuff and will probably make it a staple in the rotation during cold midwestern months.

Dec 7, 2012

A great return! Finally returned to the big 88. The last production for sale (OCT 12) is a perfect synthesis of the first 88 and that produced by Forrester. A magnificent masterpiece suitable to dress a true gentleman with class, elegance and poise. Forget all the latest evidence: this is final and a great come-back.
A must-have. The best perfume ever for a man.
Nov 14, 2012

sumptuous fragrance, not so easy to wear, but I remember I did like this kind of EdT -with geranium and rose mixed to woody notes-, a very English one. Very longlasting, almost pervading: you must measure it very carefully.
Oct 14, 2012

Has one of the more heady, sweep you off your feet, OMG openings I've encountered in a while – rich with roses, bright with bergamot, liquerish, with the sheen of some kind of expensive pomade slicked onto a 1920s gent's hair in a marble and gilt Deco salon. A great swirling rush, the kind of perfume hit that the seeker looks for.
Well, it can't stay at that intensity, obviously. What remains is a beautifully judged rose and sweet geranium accord supported by soft billowing sandalwood notes. Substantial, calm and yet pretty horny. The deep base is much tamer and smells a bit stale. A must try if you can bear heavier fragrances.

May 18, 2012

This one has a very oriental aura to me. No 88 makes me think of indian shops, and while i kind of like this aroma, i don`t know if you would feel comfortable wearing it frequently due to this indian shop aura. No 88 starts with a spicy, incensed rose aura. It`s curious that there isn`t spices listed on the pyramid, i do get some mixed with the rose. The rose is sensual, intense, slightly incensed, and it projects over a sandalwood base that is what makes me think of the indian shops. It`s intense at the first 3-4 hours, then it calms down to a soft woody incense aura. This could work amazingly as an exotic incense stick aroma. But for me, on my skin, it doesn`t work so fine.
Jan 24, 2012

The first thing I always get here is spice. Sharp. Clean. Stimulating. Refined. A slight soapiness. A faint rubbery note. The rose is kind of nestled down in there somewhere. I think comparisons with the rose-centered fragrances Montale Black Aoud and Domenico Caraceni 1913 are appropriate. That 88 doesn't share the obliterating spiciness and soapiness of the barbershopper DC13 is a virtue. Black Aoud's rose is centerstage. The rose in 88 is in heavy competition with incense. I don't think I can ever get around the rubber note I've described previously with such horror in my review of Black Aoud, but at least the rose in BA is quite magnificent. 88 is the safe bet. But Black Aoud is the more intelligent and bold choice. It makes the kind of statement 88 and DC13 never could.
Jan 1, 2012

To me a very soapy (doubtless from bergamot) rose. Dark, but not musty. I find it pleasant, but I would not wear it often enough to justify a purchase.
Dec 18, 2011

Smells like incense and rose. I also get the temple/ headshop/ hippie feel people have mentioned. This is not an everyday scent and I wouldn't even say that it smells good. I can see artists and musicians wearing this one. I might wear this to goth clubs, concerts, and costume parties. It's an interesting smell but the occasions to wear it for me are limited.

This is a lot more interesting then I first thought. There's soap. There is also a resin/ pot smell somewhere in there. It is more of a clean hippie rather than a dirty hippie smell. I think the mental image is a guy with a couple of tattoos dressed nicely for the office.
Sep 23, 2011

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