freewheelingvagabond

Dunhill Pure by Dunhill

Dunhill Pure wears as a fresh aquatic / shower gel scent. When smelled up close, there are some greener elements, and the notes of lotus. Any spices are dialled to the absolute minimum. The "Pure" name is appropriate given it smells fresh, clean, even simple. There's a soft quality to it with a vague soapy-musky drydown that's quite sparse. It smells quite unisex, and, if the quality and complexity were a couple of notches higher, it wouldn't be out of line in the Hermes Les Jardins series. Any guy expecting any herbal/aromatic or spicy element is likely to be disappointed. Sillage is muted, and longevity is on the shorter side. One could do much worse, just as one could do much better as well.

2.5/5
Nov 21, 2021


Amour de Palazzo by Jul et Mad

Amour de Palazzo is a soft, intimate musk fragrance evoking cool skin and powder. The musk in question is an ambergris accord that's creamy, salty, slightly sweet. There are some vague spices, labdanum with hints of patchouli; everything rendered delicately, like a baroque oil painting. Amour de Palazzo is long-lasting and wears close to skin, showcasing its refined sensuality.

3.5/5
Sep 20, 2021


Bel Respiro Eau de Toilette by Chanel

Bel Respiro (EdT) is a cool green fragrance, hinting at grass with a bit of melon and a touch of pepper. There are subdued floral notes in the green accord that transitions very slightly, from a brief sharpness to a soft subtly spicy (pepper) character, with the brief illusion of a leathery note, evoking a handbag. It's a skin scent with moderate duration that works best in spring, and is discreet enough to be worn to a job interview. A lovely note of sandalwood in the late dry down.

3.5/5
Sep 20, 2021


Ylang 49 by Le Labo

Ylang 49 is a floral chypre in the new style with ylang-ylang paired with a dry-down of patchouli, oakmoss and a touch of benzoin. While it smells great on paper and on skin, too, at first, it eventually turns sharp-screechy-synthetic by the hour mark on skin. I've had a similar reaction to The Noir 29, so it could just be the brand itself.

3/5
Sep 20, 2021


Journey Man by Amouage

A wonderful layered scent of juniper berries with incense, tobacco, and spices, mostly sichuan pepper with a dash of cardamom.

The spicy opening transitions into a dry woody incense scent with green tobacco (similar to Tribute), a hint of smoke, and a touch of leather in the dry down. There is minimal sweetness, and the blending is seamless.

While being easy to wear and a bit mainstream (Alberto Morillas ....), Journey Man still has the unmistakable Amouage character.

4/5
Sep 13, 2021


Prada L'Homme L'Eau by Prada

This borrows the central accord of Prada L'Homme's chic barbershop fougere but almost drowns that in a note of dryer sheet. The ginger somehow makes it harsh/synthetic without adding any zest. The mid-phases reveal soft iris notes intermittently, before the base of sharp woody notes. It doesn't have the refinement or the softness that one finds in all the other Prada perfumes. Moderate sillage and duration.

2.5/5
Jul 26, 2021


Havana by Aramis

Havana is a herbal spicy bay rum tobacco scent with a lot of spicy notes. After the cacophonous opening that singes the nostrils, Havana settles into a tobacco accord that's not far removed from vintage Dolce & Gabbana pour Homme that came out in the same year. Havana tones down the amber to go full throttle with its spiced tobacco accord which is dense, green, almost bitter with noticeable clove oil, pimento, and a hint of leather. The late dry down of Havana is softer and sexier, when the sharp edges become a bit blurred to reveal a warmth and smoothness with hints of tonka and resins.

Havana successfully reimagines the brisk, tonic-like profile of aftershaves in perfume form, much to the delight of wet shavers and others. Havana is bold, brash and uncompromising throughout much of its development, and surprisingly reveals a refined sensuality in the base. This is best enjoyed in warm weather with a lavish application –– laid back and immensely satisfying.


4/5
Jul 26, 2021


Monsieur de Givenchy by Givenchy

Note: Review is of the vintage version.

A splendid classic textbook citrus chypre. Very traditional opening of brisk lemon and tart bergamot finely interwoven with lavender, on a dry-down of oakmoss and sandalwood. Elegant, refined, subtle, abstract, and uncomplicated. Wears close to skin with reasonable duration for this style of perfume. Just as good as Chanel pour Monsieur or Eau Sauvage, if not better.

4.5/5
Jul 20, 2021


Green Lavender Cologne Intense by Art of Shaving

Green Lavender, true to its name, is a rather simple concoction of laveder, tonka, rosemary with hints of cypress. The citrus notes are very subdued and don't stand out. The lavender is sweetish, not medicinal, and the different notes are well-balanced. Green lavender smells good, but is simplistic and a bit one-dimensional. While it does last a few hours, sillage is quite close to skin.

I feel this could have benefited a lot from more depth and complexity, and higher grade materials. In terms of scent profile it's similar to Czech & Speake's Oxford & Cambridge, but falling short in terms of quality. Maybe a good buy if heavily discounted, else it's far more worthwhile to get Oxford & Cambridge for something along these lines.

2.5/5
Jul 16, 2021


Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca by Guerlain

I have to unfortunately agree with Dane's review here - this is a mint fragrance with a strong synthetic white musk note that's prominent right from the beginning and sustains itself throughout. There are some green notes besides the mint, but it's all about the musk. I like white musk bases, they last on my skin while radiating off it, but this is too sharp and synthetic. I would not have guessed this to be a Guerlain in a blind test. I find Miller Harris' Tea Tonique to be a much more refined fragrance in this vein, with less of the mint. If it's mint you are after, it's worth it to splurge for Menthe Fraiche or even Geranium pour Monsieur.

2/5
Jul 13, 2021


Rose Poivrée by The Different Company

Rose Poivrée is a rather bizarre perfume –– a bare-bones dry, woody scent with a hint of rose and an overdose of cumin. I love cumin accords, but in Rose Poivrée it is not very appealing because the whole focus is on the sweaty aspect of cumin, without the warmth, and no other note or accord is there to create any contrast. The rose note fades fast to leave the cumin-woods accord that is pretty much the dry down (the woods smell like a mix of cedar and vetiver).

There isn't anything here to appeal to those who don't like cumin, and rose lovers are likely to be disappointed. I recommend Rose 31 for someone looking for rose+woods+a touch of cumin (note - cumin toned down in recent years), while Declaration d'un Soir is a much more engaging exposition of the rose + dry woods theme minus the cumin.

If you want a perfume that is particularly about the sweaty aspect of cumin –– this is it.

2.5/5
Jul 12, 2021


Castile by Penhaligon's

Castile has one of the best neroli openings out there - strong, fresh, vivid, supported by petitgrain and soon augmented by orange blossom. It's quite soapy and refreshing. This is essentially a classic neroli eau de cologne recipe, with some synthetic white musks added to make it tenacious. Sillage and duration are adequate considering the style of composition.

Unfortunately I don't quite get along with the base here - mostly white musk plus some vague woody nuances. The base comes across as a bit synthetic, and a notch below the rest of the composition in terms of material quality. It also smells a bit generic and unremarkable, especially after what goes on before. This one would have been great with a better dry down.

3/5
Jul 8, 2021


Hermèssence Ambre Narguilé by Hermès

Ambre Narguilé is a reference gourmand amber, exploring the honeyed tobacco theme. There are vague fruity notes, very expertly edited, that brighten the composition. There are light spices, mostly cinnamon. There is some reference to an apple pie, but it's important to note that Ambre Narguilé is abstract as one would expect; it doesn't literally smell like a dessert or a shisha. It is very minimally smoky, quite sweet, and there is a chic elegance about it. Definitely somewhat dressy, more smart casual than casual, and excellent in all seasons with good duration and an enjoyable sillage. Ambre Narguilé wears like a comforting shawl in winter, and warmer weather brings out the tobacco and fruity notes.

Among "amber" perfumes Ambre Narguilé is quite unique. I find some similarities in 'personality' with Ambre 114, but the latter doesn't have the overly gourmand notes in the Hermès. Ambre Narguilé has inspired several later compositions, but hasn't been bettered.

There is an exuberant optimism about this perfume, maybe because of the brightness and sweet notes. I think that makes it popular and well-liked. I appreciate more the moodier perfumes, the ones that have a bit of gloom - either apparent, or beneath the surface. I can't wear Ambre Narguilé for too many days in a row.

4/5
Jul 8, 2021


Maharadjah by Nicolaï

First of all I don't know why Maharadjah seems marketed to women (was it, actually?). It's listed as "for women" on Basenotes and elsewhere.

Maharadjah is a classic masculine spicy oriental, transitioning from minty-peppery lavender laced with cinnamon to a sublime dry-down of patchouli, vanilla and sandalwood. It smells somewhat like a more refined version of Jaipur Homme, which is itself a remarkable perfume. While the opening is a "pleasant" lavender accord, the magic starts to happen approximately ninety minutes after application.

Maharadjah is definitely in vintage Heritage territory in terms of quality, abstraction, complexity, separation of notes, wonderful transitions, and a lush dry-down – rich without being heavy. It is exquisitely crafted, and wears extremely well with a gentlemanly sillage and excellent duration of a work day. You are not going to get such stuff elsewhere – all the quintessential elements of the best Nicolaï and vintage Guerlain masculines are unmistakably present in Maharadjah.

I have no idea why this was discontinued (and when). Every time I smell it I feel sorry for those fans of Heritage or New York Intense who never got to try this.


4.5/5
Jul 8, 2021


Myths Man by Amouage

An interesting Amouage. The first few hours smell tarry, ashy, smoky, with a bit of leather and some floral nuances in the background. Artistic, unique but perhaps too weird for its own good as a perfume. The dry-down is a wonderful accord of lush floral and soft resins, though it appears after at least three hours. While I love the destination, I am not so sure about the journey.

3/5
Jul 8, 2021


Mandarine Glaciale by Atelier Cologne

An extended eau de cologne (as is the case with most from Atelier Cologne), here it is mandarin with a bit of other citrus notes, paired with a very noticeable ginger note. I loved the ginger note in this composition, bringing to mind Dior Homme Sport 2008 (though ginger is even more prominent here). This phase is naturally short lived (about one or two hours), and the dry-down is just a mish-mash of woody notes with a bit of musk, generic and not memorable at all. Adequate sillage and duration, considering the style of composition.

3/5
Jul 8, 2021


Terre d'Hermès Eau Très Fraîche by Hermès

An extremely refined fresh fragrance using the structure of Terre d'Hermes. Eau Tres Fraiche opens with a blast of orange and grapefruit, sharp, uplifting, and invigorating. There's a vague spicy aspect in the background; the citrus notes last about an hour on skin, before transitioning to a very light base of woods, mostly some cedar and vetiver.

There's a definite link to Bigarade Concentree minus the more noticeable cumin in the Malle. Eau Tres Fraiche is less sharp in the base, and more 'hazy', whereas Bigarade Concentree is more angular.

Eau Tres Fraiche has a subdued sillage and moderate duration on skin. Note that this wears more like an eau de cologne - there's no obvious synthetic materials used to amp up performance.

Despite the name or the note listing, this is not at all an aquatic scent, but rather a very nice dry citrus for warmer weather. The dry down is pleasant, but absolutely top marks for the first one hour.


3.5/5
Jul 5, 2021


Vanille Tonka by Nicolaï

Vanille Tonka is a clean, dry vanilla paired with tonka and a transparent incense note. There are some citrus notes to begin with, as the vanilla soon comes to the fore; it smells like vanilla pods, rather than flavouring. There are some spices to lift the composition, notably black pepper, all deftly blended. The fragrance develops on skin slowly to a base of dry vanilla and nutty-earthy tonka, with that subtle, elusive incense note, and just a hint of smoke. This is certainly not sweet-sugary, but abstract, grown-up and very refined. At times it even feels there's some hidden bitter element in there, balancing out the other notes.

While Nicolaï has some very complex compositions in her portfolio, Vanille Tonka is comparatively simpler, straightforward and very easy to like, but without sacrificing the refinement that one expects from this range. It wears close to skin with a consistent and noticeable sillage, and duration is over several hours. As a mid-pitched composition, I often find myself reaching for it in warmer weather, when it seems more nuanced and blooms quietly on skin. Vanille Tonka is easy to wear, enjoyable, and comforting enough to work as a "pick-me-up" while having enough facets to sustain one's interest over time.


3.5/5
Jul 3, 2021


Lui by Mazzolari

Mazzolari Lui is a refined essay on patchouli and amber, fused together with a warm, fuzzy note of musk. The musk is slightly animalic at the start where it's most apparent, and grows more subtle over time, though it's always there. There's some added complexity from the citrus and floral notes but those are always in the background, and there is a definite note of smooth leather somewhere in there. The transition is beautiful from the musk-patchouli beginning to the patchouli-amber drydown. Lui has excellent duration of several hours on skin, together with a wonderful silky sillage that's close and persistent.


Lui is more than the sum of its parts: it is interesting how the musk brings out the best in the amber-patchouli accord. There are several patchouli-ambers on the market (Jovoy's Psychedelique or Mazzolari Patchouli being excellent examples), but most of them can get two-dimensional and boring after sometime. While Lui explores the same idea, it is a more interesting and complete composition, as the musk adds a layer of sophistication. The texture and the animalic touch here reminds me of Diptyque's Oud Palao. Lui is warm, enveloping, and wears like a cashmere shawl in cold weather. An excellent choice as a masculine signature scent, and especially recommended to those who like any of Oud Palao, Musc Ravageur, Patchouli 24, or vintage Givenchy Gentleman.


4.5/5
Jun 23, 2021


Valentino Uomo Intense by Valentino

Valention Uomo Intense is basically the idea of Dior Homme / Intense plus a note of "black leather", whatever that might be. In terms of scent profile, it's close enough to being a flanker of Dior Homme. While it does smell good, there is also a ubiquitous "Sephora scent" note in there that detracts from it.

This idea was conceptualised in Dior Homme, and also perfected in it (2005 or the 2012 variant) and in the Dior Homme Intense that followed. Valentino Uomo Intense naturally has that great idea, but the execution isn't as suave or refined, though it does have a preppy appeal.

3/5
Jun 23, 2021


Capucci pour Homme by Roberto Capucci

A lemony chypre; quite bare bones, dry, without any noticeable aromatics (herbal notes), with a base that's rather thin. While conventional and conservative, it's also sort of fusty and musty and not very appealing. Doesn't have the refinement of Eau Sauvage or Monsieur de Givenchy or Chanel pour Monsieur.


2.5/5

Note: Review is based on a vintage splash.
Jun 23, 2021


Putain des Palaces by Etat Libre d'Orange

Putain des Palaces is a floral amber, centred around an accord of violets and rose. Opening brightly, the floral notes are slightly candied, and accentuated by a hint of leather. In the soft, powdery dry-down that follows later, the floral notes with the accents are sustained. On my skin it lasts several hours with a close but consistent scent cloud, based on a liberal application.

Putain des Palaces is firmly in the same olfactory family of the rose-violet "lipstick/makeup accord" as explored in Lipstick Rose, and later in Misia. Lipstick Rose is more rosy, bold, and vivacious, while Misia is more abstract, cool and aloof; by contrast, Putain des Palaces is comforting, warm, and perhaps more approachable.

Putain des Palaces is less quirky than it name would suggest, and is an easy-to-wear versatile perfume that works particularly well in warmer climate. If I forget the brand, the name, the 'concept' and simply smell it - here is a beautiful contemporary perfume, nostalgic beneath the cheerful veneer, and immaculately crafted from start to finish. It's one of the best ones from Etat Libre d'Orange.


4/5
Jun 15, 2021


Ore by Slumberhouse

Ore is a resinous amber with a twist of cocoa, accentuated by sweet, woody notes.

Thick, oily, with good depth but not particularly complex or abstract; largely linear and gets monotonous after a while. While Ore smells attractive on a scent strip, it doesn't really work as perfume, coming across as rather one-dimensional and somewhat unfinished.

Duration is at over several hours, but it wears very close to skin.


2.5/5
Jun 15, 2021


Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens

Iris Silver Mist is a straightforward iris, part rooty and part powdery, fresh/clean with some musks and very little development from start to finish. While I wonder if I'm anosmic to some of the aromachemicals in here, it comes across as quite simplistic, though not unattractive. Quite similar to Iris Cendre, but lacking the tobacco and other subtle touches of the Naomi Goodsir creation. Additionally it's quite thin on my skin with moderate duration and disappointing sillage.


2.5/5

Note: Review is based on a "vaporisateur tout noir" version circa 2018.
Jun 15, 2021

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