A very plush glamour-puss of a rose with pronounced sillage, and a departure from Lebreton's atmospheric scents. A lipsticky, fully-bloomed, waxy rose... a little fruity to start, then growing richer and more wine-like. Some hints of green stems. Nothing loud, no shouting here. A soft patchouli base, discreet and well mannered. I could see this being someone's reference rose scent. About 6-7 hours of endurance. Surprisingly, I rather like it, despite not being much of a rose fan.
I've been trying for over a year to get a decant or sample of Castaña after getting a whiff of it in a swap with another Basenoter. It's only carried by one retailer in the U.S. as of this writing, and samples aren't available. I finally found it offered by a splitter, and I bought 15mls. It is heartbreakingly gorgeous, all cardamom, vetiver, and hazelnuts (to me, anyway, though it's supposed to be chestnuts). The smell was downright celestial, I could have just wrapped myself up in it forever. But after two full wearings, the longest it lasted on me was about an hour and a half. And I'm just not going to spend $185 for a bottle of perfume that claims to be an EDP but only has that kind of duration. I'd consider that insufficient even if it was an eau de cologne.
It deserves all kinds of accolades for the beauty of its composition, but gets reduced to a neutral rating for its pathetic longevity.
I do wonder, however, whether something in it might cause me to go anosmic to it quickly, given that other reviewers find its lifespan acceptable, and the fact that even when sprayed on fabric it disappears so rapidly for me.
First off, the bottle is gorgeous, and would befit a scent costing 5 times as much. It's really heavy, with an inch-thick glass bottom; pick this up by the cap and you could run the risk of losing a toe if you didn't snap the cap down fully. I weighed it on my kitchen scale: 1.5 pounds. All-metal sprayer mechanism, too.
I'm wearing this today side-by-side with my vintage Moustache eau de cologne. Note: this is NOT the vintage EDT concentree version with the tall gold cap. This is the old EDC with the hockey puck cap.
I'm sure no one expected this new version to hold up well against the original, given the restrictions on oakmoss and civet. I certainly didn't. But I have to say, this new stuff is not bad at all, although of course it's very, very different from its predecessor.
Original Moustache comes straight out of the gate with a huge bergamot/lime citrus blast, and unusually with oakmoss and civet appearing right at the start and sticking around for the whole ride. You hear a lot of complaints about "mustiness" in Moustache, and I think that smell is a variation on Roudnitska's signature "rotten fruit" accord -- but here the must is from lightly spoiled citrus rinds rather than peaches or melons. Have you ever had an orange or lemon go spoiled while sitting out, and noticed the gray fuzz that develops on the rotten spot? That's what the musty fruit in old Moustache smells like to me. And I like it. I also like the light note of pine that floats in and out of the whole scent.
You also hear people compare Moustache to Eau Sauvage, which I've never perceived, except for the basil notes. And Moustache had loads more of the mammalian funk (civet again) than ES. Moustache had some of that "clean/dirty" dichotomy that the French do so well.
The new stuff has, of course, been substantially neutered -- no civet, no spoiled fruit. It does have evernia prunastri listed in its ingredients, and there's some oakmoss echo in the mid and base phases. But primarily it's a clean, crisp citrus (mostly lime to my nose), with light-handed basil and tarragon. No florals that I detect, though geraniol is listed. It's dry, very pleasantly astringent, and not at all sweet -- unlike what I hear about its new EDP version sibling. There's nothing groundbreaking here, but it's a classic and well-mannered scent that would be a fine purchase for anyone looking to add a summer citrus to their wardrobe. And it would be an excellent scent for a young man just starting out in fragrances, especially with its very manly bottle.
It could have been so much worse. At the price, I'm pleasantly surprised.
Oh, and about longevity: normal for citrus colognes. I've had both on for about 4 hours, and the vintage cologne is long gone. The new is at skin level, like I'd showered with a lime soap. I sprayed some of the new stuff on my shirt at the same time, and it's still going strong. Both are still clearly detectable on paper.
My original plan was to pass this on to the boyfriend after I tested it, but that's not going to happen now. I'll be hanging onto this and using it as a citrus refresher this summer. It's completely unisex.
I've always taken personal offense when people compared Encre Noir to my beloved Sycomore, as if somebody was insulting my own boyfriend. I found original EN harsh, thin, and bad-tempered. But this Extreme version is a whole different animal: a smoky vetiver heart decorated with softer woody resins and incense, well-mannered, even sophisticated. I even like the handsome chunky bottle. And what a bargain -- I see 100ml bottles going for $30-40. And there's shower gel, too.
It's not dank and damp, like the original. Much drier, much more incensey. I never liked that inky aspect of the original EN. The Extreme is just now at the drydown stage on me (5 hours) and it's lovely, soft and grassy/smokey. No evidence of those everlasting woody aromachemicals so common to mass-market men's scent these days.
It's way too butch for me (a woman) to wear, but I would love to smell this on any man. I may have to buy a bottle and just arbitrarily spritz it on male passers-by. They'll thank me later, right?
As luck would have it, my samples of the vintage EDC and the current EDP arrived almost simultaneously, so I have a modern version to compare with this 1987 cologne edition.
The first word that leapt to mind smelling the vintage was "suave". That lightly sweetened citrus and powder: Mmm, a Fred Astaire of a scent. In a tuxedo. But my favorite part might be the moss, which to me is a clear green, without the mustiness that often comes with moss. I didn't pick up much floralcy in it (fine with me!), but the light spice (nutmeg? clove?) and vanilla in the base, along with the woods, carried that suave feeling right through to the end.
By comparison, the modern EDP is denser in every department, as if the whole scent had gone from a tenor to a baritone. Everything's darker, especially the moss and spice. It's not bad, but if the EDC was tapdancing on my skin, the EDP is clogging in wooden shoes. (I'm mixing my singer and dancer metaphors, but hopefully you get my drift.)
Now the sad part: as admirable and pretty as the vintage EDC is, it isn't really something I would want to smell on a man. Unless, possibly, that man was Fred Astaire. It's almost too lovely; I think I prefer my masculine scents to be a little more.... spiky?
I had samples of both the vintage extrait and the modern EDT to compare side-by-side.
I think I might be trying to will myself to like this, just because it's admired by so many Basenoters who I in turn admire. But I'm not having to try very hard -- a citrussy green galbanum opening is a favorite of mine in almost any fragrance. I have to do a little forgiving with the narcissus, but it's not overwhelming enough to annoy me, and the iris is soft and quietly appealing. And that soft greenness carries right through to the classic custardy Guerlain ending.
The modern EDT, by comparison, is just sharper in every angle: much more moss, much less powder, and much more sweetness in the base. Again, not bad, but very lacking in that Guerlain "haze" that makes the parfum seem like you're smelling it through a silk veil.
I don't think I'm ever going to be a fanatic about Guerlain feminines -- that classic Guerlainade base is just not a selling point for me -- but if I were ever to splurge on a full bottle of one, the vintage Vol de Nuit might be the one. Not to mention that its square Deco bottle might be my favorite bottle in all of perfumery.
An opulent scent of the type I associate with wealthy women who want the cost of their perfume to be as much on display as its smell. Somewhat rosey, somewhat woody, with a central floral mass from which I can't distinguish a single flower.
Prior to this, my only Ormonde Jayne experiences were Tiare and Ormonde Woman, both of which misled me into thinking this house specialized in multi-textured foresty greens. I can see the comparisons to Jubilation XXV, but I find the Amouage a more interesting, complex scent than this one (except for its tortuous WoodyAromaChemical drydown). The only aspect of Black Gold that captured my attention was its pepper note. The rest of it I'll happily leave to the matrons of Park Avenue and Knightsbridge.
Did you ever wish your Givenchy III had a more floral heart and warmer base?
I didn't, but I wound up loving Safari anyway.
I'm congenitally opposed to big white florals and opulent scents in general, but somehow that overlay of green galbanum and aldehydes moves Safari into the more-ish column for me. Flowers with their green leaves and stems still attached. Autumnal, but not melancholy, and so well blended.
Just read Oviatt's review; totally accurate, and witty.
The rather kitschy bottle with its elaborately cut glass is a somewhat guilty pleasure for me, too. My 1989 vintage EDC bottle (4 ounces) has an unusual feature: a crystal stopper in its neck, like a parfum bottle. The only other EDT bottle I have with that feature is an old Dior Dune.
This is very, very beautiful, but is actually more resinous incense than I can comfortably handle. The incense almost overpowers the warm spices (which makes me feel deprived) and I can't detect florals in the heart at all. I do sense something grassy, which is probably just my nose misinterpreting the chamomile, and I like that very much. The first part of the base was difficult, as I really disliked the oud following on the heels of the incese, but the late drydown was so beautiful that it was worth the trouble. Had pretty astonishing projection, too. I would LOVE to smell this on a man; too bad you can't fast-forward a perfume straight to the base. Makes me eager to smell La Fumee Maroc, too.
Loved this straight out of the gate. Huge pepper and cardamom on me, so peppery it almost made my nose itch, and I'd have been pleased if this stage had lasted for hours. I was less pleased when the resin started to overpower the cardamom, but fortunately a pretty big dose of iris helped me over that hump. I guess the name made me think the vetiver was going to be rootier/earthier than it was, but it was light enough that it seemed to be duking it out with the resin for the top rung. I'd have been happier if all that resin had been a smoke or tobacco note instead, but even so I thoroughly enjoyed the whole smell experience. Had surprisingly strong sillage (I could smell it when I re-entered the room), but weak persistence, maybe 3 hours. Definitely reads as masculine to me.
Dang. I thought I had a strong appetite for big, bold vetivers. After all, I wrestled MPG's Route du Vetiver to the ground and enjoyed the battle. But Etro's Vetiver laughed at my confidence, grabbed me by the lapels and slammed me against the wall.
This is the biggest, boldest, driest, dustiest vetiver I've encountered. And the only other note I can smell is sage, which is just as dusty.
Still, I have to admire its unapologetic bravado and chutzpah. I can't bring myself to give it less than a thumb's up... although that might just be out of fear.
Very nice orange and spice opening, just barely sweet.
I have to concur with the "mulled wine" description; there's something acidic (wine-like) mingling with the spices and dried fruits to give that impression. You know those "mixed fruits" that people put in Christmas fruitcakes, a mixture of glaceed fruits with raisins and currants? This smells like you stirred those together with spices and some fortified wine, a port or sauternes. The texture is surprisingly light for a scent of that description, though.
It's pleasant, but I'm getting only "macerated dried fruit", not the "decayed fruit" I'd hoped for. Despite the overall spiciness, I can't single out any individual spice, except possibly pepper.
I keep sniffing for the osmanthus, as it's a favorite of mine, and I have to strain to detect it. There's jasmine, but quite restrained. I keep thinking I'm sensing something like mint, or menthol, in the background. I had to Google "Thai shamouti" to see if that was culprit, but it turns out shamouti is a seedless sweet orange from Israel. Maybe that provides some of the acidic quality?
About an hour into it, Theorema turned quite creamy on my skin, with incense, soft rosewood (very nice), and vanillic patchouli, and remained like that til the end, four hours later. I kept expecting lots of amber, in keeping with the oriental theme, but that didn't happen. Despite all the exotic elements, the overall feel remained very "soie" and light throughout, which seems like quite a testament to the perfumer's talent.
I hate to keep using such a cliched term as "pleasant", but Theorema just didn't wow me in the way I expected. I can see how it would be a big hit with lovers of spicy orientals, however; it seems like it would be right at home in the Serge Lutens stable of scents. And it would certainly make a perfectly wonderful Christmas fragrance.
This is a borderline thumbs-up from me; although it's not to my taste, there's no denying that it's beautifully structured and blended.
I must add a coda here: I thought Theorema had disappeared after four hours, but to my surprise it made a strong comeback and started projecting like crazy six hours after I applied it, and is still going full force 9 hours after application. It's the Rocky Balboa of perfumes!
When Galop was released, I was very excited about a new nose at my favorite of the big houses, and I got two carded house samples of it. I was shocked when I found it absolutely repulsive. Not just mediocre, but truly repellent, in that pesticide kind of way. They were screechy, nose-burning, super-synthetic. When the leather emerged, it was nothing like the usual Hermes leather or suede, but like the chemicals that would be used for tanning leather.
I really thought my samples must have gone bad. I couldn't imagine Hermes producing something this dismal. Then I got a chance to try Galop again in a Basenotes sample pass. I'm testing this one simultaneously on paper and skin, just in case something in me is reacting badly with Galop.
The opening is still a bit harsh, but not searing -- on skin it goes straight into a bright rose that I wouldn't really call fruity. And the leather is almost immediate, when I didn't expect it til later in the development. It's a soft leather, very Hermes-like, very lightly decorated with saffron.
On paper it's quite different: all rose and fruit, no leather in sight. I don't think I know what quince smells like, but this fruit is soft, pale, maybe like an Asian pear; not like a stone fruit, and certainly not at all over-ripe or rotten. Quite fresh, in fact.
I didn't get much development beyond that over the course of 3 hours, and three generous sprays had completely disappeared from my skin at the end of those three hours.
Even if I was a big fan of rose and saffron (which I'm not), Galop would unfortunately still be a no-go for me due to its poor longevity, undistinguished blending, and a thin, frail texture. Still, I'm glad to know it isn't as atrocious as those bad samples I had, which can now go immediately into the rubbish bin.
Have you ever sniffed a freshly-opened jar of olives packed in olive oil that had a lot of dried Mediterranean herbs in it? Add just a little fruity sweetness to that aroma and that's what Archives 69's first minutes smelled like to me. Such a great opening, it almost made me laugh out loud.
Just a few minutes in, I'm getting some berries, not too sweet, balanced with some truly delicious moldy plums and nearly-rotten citrus. (You know how if you leave citrus sitting out in a bowl it devlops that pale grey mold on it? That's what this smells like to me, and it's wonderful, with a faint whiff of metallic twang.) This stage is so fabulous I want it to last forever.
After about an hour, a little more sweetness develops, but fortunately not at the expense of the overripe plums and citrus, which are still enchanting me. The late stage of resinous patchouli kicked in at about the 90-minute mark, and is so well blended that the overripe fruits sort of float above those heavier elements.
This is a heavenly scent experience, and by far the best ELdO I've encountered. I've liked a few (Fat Electrician, Like This), but never enough to go for a FB. Archives 69 manages to be edgy, avant-garde, and wearable all at once, and is the first ELdO that made me say "I want a full bottle and I want it NOW."
For the vintage version, with the wicker-printed cap, label, and box:
These topnotes are heartbreakingly lovely. And surprisingly intact, for a 40+ year old cologne concentration. The opening is just like crushing both the leaves and the fruit from a citrus tree in your hands, and then burying your face in them. I don't get a specific citrus, neither lemon nor lime, and there's no herbaceous quality like Eau Sauvage.
But heartbreaking they are -- gone in 30 minutes. After that, I get just the faintest whiff of a little mossy animalic, and the whole thing has disappeared in just under an hour.
Isn't that odd, that the topnotes would survive but the base be gone? Is that an effect of the hedione? You can sure see that this was a stop on Roudnitska's path from Eau d'Hermes to Eau Sauvage/Diorella. But I get no hint of the rotten fruit that's in Diorella and Femme.
JTD's review mentions it being a long-lasting cologne, but everyone else I've heard discuss it seems to get the same brief lifespan that I did.
It's a frail, fleeting thing, but while it lasts it's pure Roudnitska magic.
Edit: a fresh coat on top of the previous allows me to detect a bit more of the mossy animalic underneath all that juicy citrus. Even more beautiful.
The candy is abundant. (The maturity, redundant.)
The fruits are glacée. (The passers-by will surely pay.)
The flowers are limp. (The meek demeanour of a wimp.)
The width is a mile. (The people request exile.)
The depth is a micron. (The classic perfumery is gone.)
The patchouli is... where? (The hippies say a prayer.)
The sillage is choking. (The perfumistas are all balking.)
The persistence is relentless. (The wearers, all repentless.)
The Julia Roberts is smiling. (The sheep are single filing.)
The cash registers are ringing. (The fat cats are all singing.)
The life may be beautiful.
The fragrance is a bore.
Original review by Cook.bot
Greek chorus by Suspended
A list of my top five Desert Island Perfumes would vary depending on the month, week, even hour that I listed them, but one thing that would never change about the group is that it would always include Sycomore. Like Eau d'Hermes, it inspires such unmitigated devotion from me that I find it difficult to talk about. I just hope to never be without either of them until the day I die.
Devoid of florals, it's unlike any other Chanel I ever smelled. Elegant and velvety, it's unlike any other vetiver I ever smelled. Damp, mossy and smoky, it should be bleak but instead elevates my mood at any time of day and in any weather.
I don't get the comparison people make to Encre Noir, which I find harsh and bitter, nor do I sense the marijuana smell that others ascribe to it. To me Sycomore is a walk on the moss-covered ground of a cypress forest on a crisp, grey day, with the woodsmoke from a distant campfire occasionally wafting across your path. And its perfection could not be better summarized than in Turin's assessment: "If putting it on does not make you shiver with pleasure, see a doctor."
Like its three house siblings, Vaporocindro is utterly unlike anything else I've ever smelled. Each stage of development is so pronounced, and so different from its predecessor, that it makes for quite a rollercoaster of a ride.
The lilac and green apple are prominent co-stars, but only in the opening 20 minutes. You'd think that would make for a juicy start, but it's surprisingly dry, and I liked it a lot. I was scared about the narcissus in the heart because that's a headachey floral for me, but between the turmeric and black pepper, that stage is more about the spice than the daffodil, and has a more herbal/medicinal effect than floral. (It smells more of raw turmeric tubers than of the dry powdered spice.) And by 'medicinal' I don't mean anything negative, but more like something soothing that would smell 'good for you', in the way that chamomile or horehound does.
It takes about two hours for the drydown to kick in, and it's a far gentler affair than those bold listed notes would imply. The cumin and coffee make a surprisingly pleasant, almost cozy combination (nothing armpitty here), and personally I don't detect oud. It's woody, yes, but nothing like those Everlasting Gobstopper Woody Aromachemicals that are so ubiquitous nowadays, and it has the good grace to just gently fade away after 7 or 8 hours instead of staggering on forever like the norlimbanol/ambroxan monsters.
Like all the January scents I've tried, it's very creative and interesting in its development. I'm still deciding whether it's wearable for me, and I do think I might prefer to smell it on a male.
One other thing: I usually detest market-speak like "flower vapor", but in this case that phrase seems apt. The florals here (lilac, narcissus) actually are vaporous, the way that a bouquet might scent a steamy room as opposed to mashing your nose into the the heart of a flower. A result, I suspect, of masterful blending.
In the early '80s I was a dedicated wearer of YSL's "Y", but one sniff of Rive Gauche and I remember how prominent it was at the perfume counters and on my friends. And this is in that same green citrusy rose family as YSL's "Y", but with a much bigger rose. This is the scent that Don Draper's second wife would have worn, with her French-Bohemian chic and her batwing Pucci dresses.
I'm getting a Parisian-soap sense from this, and finding it captivating, even though I usually dislike soapiness. There's something so retro about this soap lifted by aldehydes, kind of like original Ivoire. This is also making me recall Rabanne's "Calandre", another great favorite of mine in this era, with its soap-and-metal accord. It's interesting that so many reviewers can't detect the rose here; to me it's large, and I sense none of the other florals some describe. There's nothing sweet about the floral aspect, in fact it's rather spiky. I can picture this fitting right in with the Le Smoking era of androgynous Saint Laurent fashions, even though I'd only ever associated "Y" with those images at the time. In fact, this current version would make a great casual office scent for a man today.
What I'm sniffing is a contemporary version, and Turin gives pretty high marks to the 2003 renovation of this scent, which I presume this is, but I'd still like to experience that resinous quality that he says gave the older stuff a darker background. And other accounts note that there was a sizeable plonk of sandalwood in the vintage aluminum can version.
Sadly, the two sprays I applied had almost vanished after 90 minutes. I'm going to reapply just to experience that green citrus/rose again and to see if I can find any oakmoss in the drydown. But I already know I'm going to add this to my vintage hunting list, and I regret not giving this scent more attention in its heyday.
The fruity opening blast was a bit shocking, and not a pure peach to my nose, at least not as I think of peach in Mitsouko terms; more like a stone fruit mixture, peach/plum perhaps. I couldn't detect the listed grapefruit, but there is a charming touch of yuzu that joins and lightens the fruit effect. As the heart opens up about 30 minutes in, the fruit yields much of the stage to a very woody rose (rosewood?), and the whole concoction takes on a very warm tone and dense texture, super-creamy and waxy, almost like it should be a lotion. Extremely retro-1940s in feel, like Lana Turner in a bottle. As the drydown approaches, a mossy hay and musk join in, but the woody rose is still going strong pretty much right up to the end.
Although it's not a scent for me, I do admire the concept and it's easy to see how this could steal the heart of a rose lover, with its va-va-voom curves and velvet peignoir feel.
Longevity: Vivid for 4 hours, skin scent for at least 2 more.
Whoa, blast of berries opening! No mistaking the bergamot either, and the peppercorns add a little sharpness to the sweet fruit. This is powdered raspberry drink territory for sure, or maybe Skittles.
As it heads toward the heart at about the 20-minute mark, florals emerge: I can pick out the violet and rose, but not the jasmine and thankfully not any tuberose either.
I'm waiting for this to grow up a little with the appearance of some sandalwood and tobacco, but it has trundled along that raspberry & violets path for a good 90 minutes or so, trailing some pretty powerful sillage along behind it. (After about 3 hours, I did perceive some quite nice soft tobacco, but it was having an awful tussle with that raspberry to fight its way to the spotlight.)
Where are the Knickers? And for that matter, where is the Tart? I'd actually settle for the inside of the Tart's handbag at this point, especially if she had some iris-y lipstick in there. As it stands, I think a more appropriate name for it would be Debutante's BonBon Box.
Another scent for which I am not the target audience, but I could imagine this being very popular with a teenage or pre-teen crowd.
Longevity: I gave up at 3 hours, long before the fragrance did.
The saloon doors burst open with a Bang! and in marches a great big beer, trailing all its fizzy bubbles. Malty and yeasty, but fresh too -- nothing sour or stale here. Within ten minutes, fresh fruits sidle up to join him at the bar: the pear is ordering a gin&tonic, while the apple's only having a glass of seltzer.
At about 40 minutes some of 4160's house raspberry note tries to elbow its way in: No, no, no, you're not needed here, go sit over there in that booth by yourself. Ah, that's better; now there's some room for rose to join the conversation.
As the malty beer note recedes, the yeastiness remains but somehow transforms into the soft yeast of bread dough. The fruits diminish and rose overtakes the beer as group leader. A yeasty rose: who would have thought that would work together? But it absolutely does.
After an hour, some woodiness appears. Not the common cedar aromachemical, more like a polished oak scent, quite refined among such a rowdy crew. And when full drydown is achieved, at about 3 hours, the boozy note darts in and out again, along with some light, fresh tobacco. I feared the return of the raspberry, but that didn't happen on my skin.
The gin note here is brief but brilliant, and lifts the whole concoction up about three levels, like the clear liquor does in Chanel No. 18.
Up the Apples & Pears is one of those fragrances that raises the old question of wearability -vs- work of art. Do I want to wear it? I'm not at all sure. Do I want to smell it? Oh HELL yes. I'm sure many people will find it too gimmicky by half, but for me all these disparate elements worked together to create olfactory magic. It's unlike anything in my scent memory.
I'm mystified by the spell this scent has cast on me. I actually dislike the smell of beer, and I'm by no means a rose fanatic. Personally, I think it's witchcraft.