"Poor man's Terre d'Hermès" indeed, but given the price, that's definitely a plus. And it's not the only one, actually. Citrus & Wood is definitely similar to Ellena's bestseller to many extents, as it is basically the exact same "airy", hyper-clean, very contemporary Iso-E infused woody blend with a zesty, classic eau de cologne-inspired top accord of citrus notes. But it has a couple of unexpected twists that make it quite worthy the purchase regardless of whether you like and/or own Terre already.
First, Citrus & Wood is even cleaner and crisper than Terre d'Hermès, slightly more soapy and floral, a bit spicier at heart, and somehow overall less syntethic as well. I've tested it extensively in the past few days and that's probably the feature I enjoyed the most - the fact that it smells very laid-back, very natural even if it obviously isn't, not cloying and not "plastic" at all as one may expect. The citrus notes do smell like proper citrus, properly fading in a couple of minutes as proper citrus notes do, and the woody notes do smell like realistic, freshly cut, sharp wood (Ikea stuff, don't expect any raw- dirty smokiness). It's obviously that ubiquitous industrial cedar-pencil aromachemical again, but whoever created this on behalf of Yardley, did a great job in infusing some life in it and making it smell smoother, softer, less dry and less blatantly artificial as many others did. Partially thanks to the use of the floral tones and partially to the quality top citrus accord, it all smells very uplifting, fresh, vibrant and classy.
Shortly this is a great clean citrus-woody scent which can be perfect basically anythine and anywhere, more than safe and greatly inoffensive but classy and pleasant. A great alternative to Terre d'Hermès (and similar scents) with a smoother, lighter and cleaner presence. The projection is decent and the persistence is a bit short - as you'd fairly expect with this type of notes, but given the cheap price and the fantastic top notes, it's a pleasure to reapply.
It's fun, I almost never agree with drseid's reviews (both for his tastes and often his descriptions as well), but this time I think his review, contrary to the others, perfectly describes this scent. I can't really add anything to it as it reflects my experience as well - strong metallic cedar with fruity peppery nuances and a lemon-y incense vibe on the drydown, exactly creating an (I quote) "acid-like" scent. Spot-on. And above all, to me as well this smells unmistakably and very strongly metallic, so I guess that the fact that we seem to perceive this quality very clearly and others don't, may be due to a difference among batches. Well anyway it's not a bad scent, actually it's quite nice. It's a sharp, complex but overall well-enginereed take on cedar, quite contemporary but richer and more natural than most "modern" woods (i.e, Comme des Garçons). Quite sharp and sour but quite enjoyable as well.
This is an embarassingly grotesque parody of an old-school lavender scent with absolutely 0 (zero) vetiver in it. Just sickening cheap lavender and a ton of moldy camphoraceous musk. Weirdly dusty and humid at once, basically like licking the sweaty neck of a decommissioned drag queen.
I never tried the vintage version of this scent, but the current one I just received today smells nothing short of dreadful. It's truly the nightmare of a toilet janitor - or the wet dream of a pervy one. Both the citrus-neroli accord, the spicy pine-herbal accord and the musty, lavender-ish woody accord smell all like three different cleaning sanitizers mixed together. Aseptic, sharp, acrid, flat and artificial to the bone, with no evolution whatsoever except for a sligthly more prominent presence of the cheap musky-woody foundation on the drydown. You'll smell clean, that is for sure, just like a bathroom which has just been cleaned and sanitized with three or four differently-scented products.
Well since there's no reviews, I guess my two cents may serve some future readers. Baume Tolu is an uncomplicated, surprisingly nice sort of mellow and smooth Oriental blend of zesty, piquant and fruity tea-ish notes - this including mandarin as well - laced with an accord of marigold (sort of a juicy, syrupy-floral-resinous smell) and a balmy base of nondescript clean woods and vanilla. It may sound sweeter and thicker than it actually is: on the contrary Baume Tolu is rather elegant, almost transparent and definitely discreet (nothing like Lutens, if you were thinking that). This is more a sort of a fresh, lively, sweet fruity tea scent tinted with resinous flowers and infused with some light spices and vanilla. It is very bracing and classy, totally unisex and delightfully friendly and easy to wear. The quality does not seem "top-notch", basically it smells like a sort of higher-end version of L'Erbolario or L'Occitane stuff, but still is quite better than them.
Anyway, once the zesty-fruity top notes tame down and the (light) immortelle note kicks in, Baume Tolu gently evolves towards a very peculiar and very enjoyable sort of silky, round, bright and still inexplicably uplifting woody-resinous blend with a light fruity aftertaste, overall maybe a bit lighter than one may hope and also maybe a bit too flat to keep your attention, but still totally pleasant.
Overall I think it is a bit too light and probably too artificial as well to justify the full retail price; but on the other hand it smells undoubtedly nice and mood-lifting, so if you can get some discount, then grab a bottle for sure!
Out of the dozens of classic "clean" fougères I tried over the years, Patrick is - to this day - the absolute winner of the category for me. Others are more complex, more refined or more praised, but when it comes to comfort, I think this is the ultimate grail. It's subjective, I know, but it works for me. As other reviewers said, the structure of Patrick is fairly simple, but not simplistic; it's basically a soapy fern scent, so there's a ton of sparkling crisp greenness laced with a fresh breeze of soap, all supported by a sort of nondescript mossy-earthy feel. It smells natural (sort of), deep enough to let you appreciate the notes, yet not too powerful - actually the contrary, this is a rather distinguished and discreet fragrance (contrary to many vintage examples of this same category, which may contain thicker and more natural ingredients, but mostly smelling way too rougher and bolder than Patrick).
Think of being on a fall holiday in the mountains and spending a day out in the woods, then coming home, having a relaxing bath and going out again for a quick stroll before dinner. That's Patrick, that calm, sunset-like feel of balsamic cleanliness, the artificial soapy notes blending with the smell of earth, leaves and cold branches. I know that hundreds of scents feature these notes, and yet I never found such a perfect balance of vibrancy and quiet haziness, creating a feel of deep comfort I basically never experienced with any other fragrance. Out of the many masterpieces I know and the few fragrances I "love" more than this, to this day Patrick is the only scent I can wear for several days in a row without getting tired of it. It's not particularly creative, doesn't scream "art" or utter quality, but it feels "home" in the purest and most irresistible way. Best "cheapo" ever made for me.
I was very eager to try this new creation by La Parfumerie Moderne, which is nearly the only new French niche act (of, say, the last 2-3 years) I personally consider worthy consideration and praise. And I surely appreciate the fact it took nearly two years for them to come up with a single new offering in a time when niche brands launch a whole line once, sometimes even twice a year, that's a true mirage. And well... once I sampled this, my expectations were decidedly exceeded. You can skip my boring detailed review and just trust me: Années Folles is absolutely great, probably the best offering by this brand, and in my opinion, one of the best works by Corticchiato. Années Folles surprised me for several reasons in fact, the first of which in chronological order being its breathtakingly rich opening. The fragrance starts with a truly sumptuous, yet actually rather simple structure of lavender (bold, deep, balsamic and skanky double-distilled lavender absolue) blended in a dusty-herbal frame of Mediterranean herbs and spices (thyme, nutmeg) and paired with a very clever and delightfully harmonic core of geranium and vetiver, which is quite subtle at first, but the drydown will do it justice. A veritable triumph of lavender (I think this was missing in Corticchiato's portfolio?) and woody herbs supported by a gentle cascade of dusty resinous notes of tonka, patchouli and myrrh, vith a vague aftertaste of dry vanilla.
So basically Années Folles opens as a creative, remarkably well-executed mix of a breezy Mediterranean green-woody cologne, a formal, dusty old-school French barbershop lavender-based fougère, and a tangy, warm Oriental spicy-ambery-resinous blend. Floral, herbal and resinous, melting together a classic French inspiration (powdery, soapy, at the same time kind of dirty traditional fougère notes) with a whiff of Mediterranean rawness following Corticchiato's fondness for herbs and green notes, brilliantly warmed by a touch of Oriental aromatic and dusty spiciness (blending with the French part to echo a sort of Guerlinade). All in the most genuine quality, almost an artisanal quality of materials, but with a rather mannered appearance a sort of sophisticated, distinguished, kind of melancholic look in which the rawness and the depth of lavender and of the Mediterranean and Oriental inspirations are elegantly tamed down, as if the center and the perspective of the fragrance still remain rooted in a certain French sense of discreet, slightly decadent chic. Mediterranean and Parisian at once, so to speak, all filtered in faded, dusty sepia tones.
The evolution brilliantly unravels the vetiver heart, with a transition towards a powdery and smoky drydown tinged with masculine nuances of geranium and darker spices, and still a sharp hint of thyme. Some of the initial lavender-herbal raw greenness slowly fades away, bringing in a warmer, sort of talc-like and slightly sweet feel, reaching a (rather close to skin maybe a tad too much for many) final drydown based on a very simple, delightfully cozy whiff of spicy-floral vetiver dusted with fine talc. Lavender remains as a fil rouge throughout the scent, with a shimmering transition from a bolder initial phase, to an ethereal, discreet powdery-soapy presence on the drydown.
So, to cut it short, Années Folles smells fairly old school on one side (a French digest ranging from Guerlain's Mouchoir de Monsieur to Pierre Cardin pour Monsieur), and very modern on the other the modern factor being an extremely fascinating weightless texture, which smells as much rich as crisp and somehow very breezy and almost thin, with a dark shade, or better say a mist feel. French, Mediterranean and Oriental inspirations are very effortlessly blended together in a sophisticated, natural, discreet blend with a very neat composition and a fantastic refined presence on skin. For some reasons this fragrance smells quite different from any other work by Corticchiato, both for the materials used (there's a more massive natural feel here for me) and for the way its is composed and how it behaves on skin. I think this it is at once the most old school scent by him (except maybe for Musc Tonkin) and the most creative one, and it seems he really tried to use at best the natural behaviour of the materials with no synthetic help and no formal patterns rather combining some of them. I really enjoy this fragrance, as it smells rich and fulfilling yet very approachable and actually simple to enjoy, extremely sophisticated but very cozy and versatile. As regards of the projection, Années Folles won't be a bold compliment getter bomb as it soon sits rather close to skin, but that's how many elegant and quality scents perform. Support the last good niche we have, don't miss this!
A drastically unimpressive sort of herbal-woody-fresh & musky suede-infused designer mishmash, a sort of fruity neo-fougère ideally between Cerruti Essence and Canali Style, just fruitier. Surely, as other reviewers mentioned already, the fruity-ozonic head accord paired with suede and that whole musky-woody foundation echoes Grès Cabaret Homme a bit too, given the nose is also the same, but well... Canali contains too much musky plastic to be realistically compared to that. I mean literally take all those notes, and wrap them in plastic, that's how Canali Men smells. Cabaret smells maybe a bit more conservative, but way crisper, bolder and overall much better made than Canali (and it's way cheaper than that).
I admit that the touch of pineapple (or whatever that head aromachemicals are intended to evoke) works fine with the musky-suede accord though, creating a sort of poor man's Aventus-like feel in a cheaper disguise (and that says it all, since Aventus isn't exactly Patou pour Homme). But that's however a very minor positive nuance of an otherwise desperately dull concoction which besides being flat and weak from the very beginning, is also ridicolously short-lived. Desperately lacking in anything making it worth even just a third of its current collector's prices.
Christine Nagel at her finest, no surprise she's been chosen to inherit Ellena's throne. A charming whiff of sophisticated, mellow, androgynous, hyper-modern, clean yet somehow mysterious and moody spiced Oriental orange-infused woods. This is Oud & Bergamot by Jo Malone, a refined, minimalist, very well conceived experiment around the contrast between the aromatic, luscious smokiness of oud and cedar (and suede, I think), and the graceful, pastel, zesty and slightly floral touches of bergamot and citrus, with a hint of cinnamon-like touch of sweet just as in Fendi Theorema for women, also composed by Nagel. All done with an amazingly well-engineered weightless texture taken to the very extreme basically, pure thin scented air. It feels like a perfect olfactive rendition of some abstract watercolour featuring harmonic drops and brush strokes of pale orange, pale brown, pale black. All smells even, smooth, airy and pale, yet totally there under your nose. It's like smelling a linen shirt previously sprayed with a hypothetical true substantial version of Oud & Bergamot this is how the actual Oud & Bergamot smells. It's there, and yet it isn't. Like the suspended memory of a scent, more than an actual scent, and yet it's there materializing under your nose. Fascinating to say the least. And it's all done so terribly right, as all notes manage to smell crisp, smooth and clear, yet subtle.
The scent is very simple actually, basically a fairly linear and white-ish sort of musky-suede rendition of (synthetic) oud and cedar tinted with some orange and cinnamon. It's the way Nagel made it that makes it so special. It takes some guts and skills to take these notes and turn them into an impalpable whiff of watercolour mist (I mean, it takes some guts to do it right and not end up with an ephemeral fart of a constipated princess). More than compelling and more than a scent, a little piece of minimalist art. Obviously not a bomb, very subtle but quite persistent, more than one may assume: somehow you smell it around yourself for hours and hours even if it seems disappearing from your skin soon. This close to smelling just dull and weak and maybe it is, and I'm just overestimating it but I find it just lovely.
Unlike its Creed's namesake sibling, which is all about royal with zero oud, Royal Aoud by Montale contains a ton of (synthetic) oud with a very little dose of royalty. In fact, like most of other scents by this brand, it isn't exactly the most refined or luxurious scent around; but I admit I do see the efforts of making something a bit more sophisticated than their average standards. Also, contrary to many other more recent ouds by Montale which contain the same exact flat accord of mostly dry cedar with a weak oud-like shadow, Royal Aoud seems belonging to their slightly-closer-to-reality family of ouds the nicer and more quality ones. Don't get me wrong, oud here is still artificial to the bone, but it's quite substantial, and it shows some complex, even nearly-natural-smelling nuances: the note smells in fact medicinal, compellingly woody, slightly fecal too at the beginning, quite robust and dirty, with a solid earthy-oily foundation just like real agarwood. Shortly it's not just a slap of depressingly linear and shallow dry-cedary rubber, and that's already something with Montale. So far, I got some good imitation oud only out of White Aoud and Aoud Cuir d'Arabie and now, Royal Aoud.
Also, it's surely enjoyable how they chose to pair it with an initial solid whiff of clean, bracing citrus, and a sort of floral-resinous, slightly candied base accord, which sweetens and tames down the acrid, medicinal-dirty nature of the oud note, finally revealing a quite pleasant, comforting musky-soapy rose heart with a classic British barbershop vibe (an association also enhanced by the presence of citrus). There's even quite some evolution as hours pass: from a sharp, bitter, dark and quite bold citrus-oud opening to a mellow, powdery, clean yet somehow a bit stale whiter rose-medicinal drydown still bearing some light fruity-grassy echoes of citrus, reminding me a bit of White Aoud's drydown (less sweet and plushy, still musky-vanillic but a bit fresher, darker, greener and more austere). That's quite a transition overall, which is another evidence of the above-the-average quality of this fragrance - compared with other Montale's, I mean.
Nothing to break the bank for, but more than nice to wear and also quite easy to pull off. Kudos!
Encre Noire à L'Extreme opens indeed as an extreme version of Encre Noire, where extreme is to be intended as more powerful, rougher, drier, more woody, somehow more mature, a bit more dirty, and ultimately with some more oomph than that. It doesn't smell particularly natural, and I guess that's part of the concept, but surely it does have something crisper, rootier, earthier if compared to the round, and kind of muted synthetic inkiness of classic Encre Noire. It's also quite woodier, thanks to cypriol and to some more cedar. Be reminded I'm talking about nuances, the main bone structure of Extreme is still clearly Encre Noire nothing dramatically different. But still, especially (and sadly, only) during the early stages, there is indeed enough differences to make this Extreme stand on its own. It smells basically like Encre Noire briefly drenched in wet balsamic woods (cypress) and dusted with pencil shavings and incense ashes, almost making it resemble to a sort of a lighter, drier, more cedar/incense-oriented version of Jovoy's Private Label (Encre Noire à l'Extreme is nothing remotely that complex or intriguing, but there's some slight connections) infused with a drop of L'Artisan Parfumeur's Timbuktu (again not hinting that the quality is the same; just a matter of superficial similarities between notes, especially some sort of similar papery cypress feel). Finally, just mix that with Montana's Graphite kind of freshly cut dry cedar, and here's this Extreme flanker of Encre Noire.
Now, despite the first minutes seemed quite promising, I must say that overall I'm a bit underwhelmed by this scent - the main issue being that it quickly starts to smell a tad more synthetic and flat that I wished, especially at this price point (but I guess there's a reason why this is already widely available at a fraction of its original cost). It's not bad, it's actually fairly decent; but the dry ashy-cedary part soon smells as much nice as muted, generic and heavily artificial, so do vetiver and cypress, and incense all notes, basically. I wouldn't consider Extreme cheap, as even if it smells quite synthetic and a bit dull it's a well-played, ultimately quite pleasant kind of synthetic. Still it doesn't really keep up with the initial promises for me, soon that oomph I mentioned will be just a souvenir. And since Extreme is also heavily linear, there's really no hope for some twists or changes (which in fact, don't happen, except for a weak sort of velvety suede feel I get after a couple of hours, which combined with vetiver, kind of reminded me of Jil Sander Man by Wasser and Menardo from 2007).
All in all this isn't strictly a bad scent, but not a great one either. Not even a very good one for me, just more only boringly nice with a subtle bitter aftertaste of disappointment. This may be a smart choice if you're looking for your first and only night vetiver to own and you don't want to bother trying others: but be sure to get some good discount though, as this isn't worthy the full price tag.
I am missing the black part here, at any stage, but nonetheless... what a compelling smooth and modern vetiver this is. Along the line of Tom Ford's Grey Vetiver, but noticeably more quality to any extent for me: crisper, more natural, more vibrant, with a more dimensional texture, slightly rawer too (or, say, maybe just more genuine-smelling). A bit similar to Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier's Racine as well, mostly for the citrus-vetiver combo, but somehow more transparent, slightly colder and overall more minimalistic than that shortly, more contemporary. The evolution of Black Vetiver is quite simple, basically it starts off with an invigoratingly vivid splash of zesty lemon supported by an initially toned-down elegant accord of smooth, salty vetiver infused with something which smells like a sort of aldehydic musk to me; it's very subtle, but it gives a peculiar texture to the woody base accord, making it smell as a sort of a greyish, breezy vetiver mist sprayed on dry concrete. Well, I'm making it sound more avantgarde than it is, but that's more or less the effect I get here.
Once most of the greenish top notes of lemon fade away, it's all about some really great, high quality, vibrant yet pleasantly civilized grassy-salty vetiver still surrounded by that breezy sort of dusty mist I mentioned above and still lightly infused by some citrus nuances. But most of all it's vetiver though, and it's completely, indisputably pleasant as only good vetiver can be. It smells very natural, very woody and grassy-salty (no inky nonsense or whatever other ill synthetic rendition of it). And like good vetiver does, it smells also at once very elegant, yet terribly laid-back and easy to wear. As the drydown progresses, some more somber, smokier and slightly sweeter nuances arise, but at no point it will get too black just a bit quieter and moodier, but with a palpable salty-breezy feel underneath. More than black, a grey-yellow vetiver.
That's it, it may sound simple and it actually is, but it's a pure, vibrant kind of simple, something more than pleasant to wear. Thank God none of Guillaume's trademark mish-mash concepts are here, no weird mojitos and no chubby gourmands gone wrong. This doesn't smell at all like one of his creations for me, and maybe that's why it smells so nice. By far my favourite modern vetiver, a refined everyday gem and a perfect contemporary companion to the nicest old-school vetivers like Guerlain's or Carven's. Still quite overpriced but totally worthy if you can get some discount.
Another discontinued Creed scent way superior to the near majority of their current abysmally insipid range. Baie de Genièvre is an impressively solid masculine spicy fougère straight out of the early 1980's (still quite 1970's-inspired, with all that herbal-stale dryness) with some quite peculiar features making it surely worthy a sniff at least not a purchase at those vaulted prices, but surely a try. I mean, it's very good, it's a Creed, that's already quite something.
What I really enjoy about Baie is how simple, robust yet very inspired it smells: basically it's a crisp, tasteful blend of citrus-infused, herbal juniper notes with their recognizable sort of very aromatic, edgy, bitter, metallic, super dry and dark-boozy nature; then some sharp, earthy, smoky and salty vetiver (the vintage kind, rooty and dirty, such as in Maitre's Route du Vetiver or Goutal's Vetiver), some very well-fitting sort of sweet-spicy dash of Oriental aromatic powder (they say cinnamon, I trust that, although it smells a bit more generic to me just something slightly sweet, lukewarm and exotic, even slightly fruity at first) and a light note of lavender - which isn't listed, but I think I smell it. A sharp, dry, distinguished and very aromatic blend with a palpable sort of antique vibe rusty metal, smoky old woods, sharp herbal spirits. With just the right amount of late-1970's mojo. There's some evolution, too: it gets progressively warmer, gentler, powderier, less dry and bitter and a bit smoother and smoky-sweeter, with vetiver and herbs creating a sort of powdery barbershop mood. Nina Ricci's Phileas is maybe a distant relative of this, mostly for the same bold herbal-spicy vein and a very similar sort of rusty feel Phileas is more complex than this, but I think they've something in common.
So that's it, a very old-school, refined yet quite rugged, extremely vibrant and very natural-smelling gentleman's scent with nothing wrong in it it smells just very good, period. Maybe not overly exciting, but truly impeccable, with solid materials (juniper and vetiver especially!) and a totally neat composition. Very vintage, and probably a bit dated for many fans of today's Creed's offerings, but definitely a nice option for all fans of classic masculine stuff (nothing macho, but definitely a virile blend). By the way, by vintage and dated I don't mean generic or boring, though: it's actually quite of a statement scent, due to its metallic-smoky-spicy edginess and sharpness which creates a dark, raw vein brilliantly contrasting with its subtle, warm Oriental sweeter side. Extremely versatile as well, it projects quite good without getting too obtrusive. Totally recommended again, not at full vintage prices though: it's good, even very good, but not a Holy Grail.
Well, one must really never judge a book by its cover. Most of the times this motto isn't really that valid with scents, as hopeless houses rarely produce something unexpectedly worthy, but there's some exceptions. I've never been a fan of Ralph Lauren scents except for vintage Safari, as most of the rest epitomizes an abysmal approach to scents the preppier the look, the crappier the smell. But well, Supreme Oud is completely, surprisingly different for the good from anything else I tried from this brand.
Sure, its core note is the synthetic kind of oud, as in any (or well, the vast majority of) Western interpretation of ouds, but this doesn't automatically mean it's bad. Could be, but it isn't. It's By Kilian's Pure Oud's kind of synthetic oud (and for me, Supreme Oud quite shares some broader similarities with that scent, by the way) very smooth, smoky, somehow weightless and totally pleasant to smell, no Montale-sque cheap and acrid rubberiness. Artificial to the bone, but it smells very dignified and solid. But actually oud here is just part of the show, and I must really give some big credit to Carlos Benaim for the composition of Supreme Oud. The blend is in fact as much crystal clear and simple, as unique and creative: it's basically vetiver, smooth oud and cinnamon with a bare touch of silky powderiness, and a whiff which smells like some balsamic sort of pine infusion to me. Basically a refined, forest-like smoky-woody galore with an Oriental shade of sweet spices and some base talc warmth provided by that undefined base powderiness (maybe there's some vanilla, too).
At first Supreme Oud is drier, sharper, blacker, slightly reminding me of Montana Black Edition, but more centered on balsamic oud and some edgy, tantalizing cinnamon (which combined with those dark woods, basically smells a bit like roasted, coffee-infused licorice); then it slowly gets warmer, silkier, some suprisingly sophisticated and natural-smelling vetiver note emerges together with that whiff of pine I get, while oud becomes more of a smoky-medicinal shade on the background giving some dark bone to vetiver, and you get this incredibly pleasant drydown of oud-ish, balsamic vetiver tinted with a simple, almost minimalistic, yet very distinctive sort of powdery-spicy accord of cinnamon and whatever warmer-sweeter notes there's on the very base. It may sound a bit generic, but trust me it's not. Or well, it's so pleasant you don't really notice how generic it may or may not be. It smells smoky yet sweet, luminous yet somehow black. Its discreet, classy, non-thick and non-rubbery texture makes it also very versatile and probably, totally safe for any situation and/or climate. It's just very refined, very pleasant, and would put a smile on every smoky woods fan's face. Projection and persistence are just perfect not a bomb but not a skin scent, lasting a good day long. I get all of this doesn't sound groundbreaking but Jesus - for being made by Ralph Lauren, this fragrance is a miracle!
One of the most honest, worthwhile and affordably good releases in a long while. I am not a fan of Yves Rocher usually, as despite I respect the brand, none of their releases seemed that interesting to me so far (not even for the price); but Cuir Vetiver quite got me. It is by no means inferior to many decent designers easily showing double the price tag Hermès, for instance: for the similarity of the notes, the composition and the quality, this could have easily been a budget-mainstream release by them. In fact Cuir Vetiver is basically a cheaper, yet absolutely solid sort of fresher Vetiver Tonka meeting Terre d'Hermès with a thin shade of some smoky tonka-infused suede (and that's the only cuir you'll get), and also some tangy cardamom nuance which reminds me of another Hermès scent for men Voyage.
A poor man's Hermès digest, shortly, with a surprising good quality and a not-so-ordinary texture. Specifically I detect here a more than compelling sort of fresh-woody-powdery transparent clarity dangerously close to Ellena's style, and despite Cuir Vetiver smells quite close to the stuff I mentioned above, for some reasons it doesn't feel just like a blatant ripoff of it. I don't get what precisely, but there's more than that. It's like if more than a simple passive carbon-copying activity to monetize on other brands' ideas, this was just more a genuine tribute simply taking inspiration from them with enough skills and budget to elaborate the brief a bit. It's still 90% close to Vetiver Tonka and the other couple of Hermès I mentioned, but the remaining 10% is, well, a little sparkle of uniqueness (after all, it's fresher than Vetiver Tonka, and smokier than both Terre and Voyage unique, in its own and a bit derivative way).
So, all in all, totally recommended. It smells good, classy, versatile, smoky yet fresh and breezy enough to be perfect for any climate and circumstance. And surprisingly natural, too, considering the level of flat syntheticness you usually get at this price range. Sadly the persistence is a bit weak, but it's so inexpensive that you can simply reapply it on and on. For 29 eur/100 ml or so, a total winner in my everyday-replacement-for-more-expensive-stuff book.
Not the most creative or interesting leather around and definitely unworthy its prices, especially now that it's discontinued (sorry, vaulted), but I can't really argue Royal English Leather's quality. It smells good. Almost great, if you're into classic, waxy, dark, austere shoe polish-infused tanning leather scents. True rich and faceted rusty leather, forget today's stupidly flat and artificial Tuscan Leather-ish stuff. Just think of Knize Ten: Royal is definitely close to it, just adding a whiff of flowers, a very pleasant touch of ambery mandarine giving some air, colour and sparkling sweetness to the heaviness of leather, and in the most recent bottles, also Creed's trademark base of metallic-dusty ambroxan. I had the chance of getting an older bottle of this, and that base accord was definitely not there it was quite more all about leather and oily shoe-polish like notes (also darker, drier and spicier, overall slightly heavier too).
That's it: no tremendous twists during its evolution actually, almost no evolution at all, nothing particularly standing out. But it smells good, very good. It's rich, distinguished, totally somehow, slightly pedantically elegant and austere, with the perfect balance of complexity and simplicity: it's nearly only waxy, brownish, lived-in leather - done extremely well, with a subtle sort of ambery-floral-mandarine aura giving a perfect hint of bright sweetness, and yet it doesn't smell boring or simplistic. Not even dated, actually; somehow it does have a vintage feel (think of Knize Ten again), and yet its texture feels crisp, clear, without the old-school thickness one may expect from this type of scent. Quintessentially British in fact: unexcitingly impeccable!
By far one of the most irrelevant, pedestrian, nonsense new launches I smelled in a long time. If something like, say, Dior's Sauvage seemed like that for you, then Mr. Burberry will make your nose explode. Someone on Basenotes' forum mentioned an Axe deodorant, and I now regret having used that same term of comparison for scents which compared to Mr. Burberry don't really deserve that. Because in fact, in my experience Mr. Burberry is the scent which absolutely went the closest to that. Actually it even went further and below no kidding, the 2,50 EUR deodorant I carry in my tennis bag smells more appealing, nuanced and rich than this garbage.
Basically this is a truly nondescript, extremely artificial, puzzingly uninspired sort of a counterfeit Bleu de Chanel meeting a sport deodorant with a drop of Interparfums' irritating signature musky-tonka base accord (Armani Code all over again- please fix that time machine, Interparfums!). There's some synthetic citrus, some extremely generic woody stuff with a pointless sort of subtle minty-creamy nuance (a bit as in Paul Smith London), something sweet-spicy, and that's it. I'm using the term something not out of laziness but because it's truly the best approximation I can use I read the composition, but none of the notes mentioned is remotely detectable here for me. It would be a joke to mention cardamom or vetiver here. It's just woody stuff, spicy stuff, citrus stuff, cheap lab replicas of some idea of woods and spices. The same exact materials you find in supermarket deodorants in fact. Just a big generic something. And it's so vastly nonsense that I can't even think of a possible audience for this, neither can I understand how could Burberry approve to invest money for something so desperately unappealing and cheap.
So shortly, if it wasn't clear enough, my opinion is that this is a complete depressing trainwreck on every level quality, inspiration, identity. And if you want to understand better how it smells, I can't really describe it better than I did above I know my description sounded generic but this is truly how this scent smells. I've never been a fan of Burberry but I've always (kind of) respected Kurkdjian's work on commission, even recently for example, Carven Homme from 2014 was quite good, and if you compare it to Mr. Burberry you can definitely sense the immense gap of budget and efforts that separates the two scents. This is on the contrary easily the worst scent Kurkdjian ever put his name on, and one of the worst scents by Burberry ever.
It... could... work! that's what Silver Factory by Bond n.9 is for incense (and for the brand itself). Finally finally! a non-boring, non-flat, no-nonsense incense fragrance, unexpectedly coming from one of the most boring and nonsense niche brands there are today. One of the most improbable and surprising what-were-the-odds coincidences I've ever witnessed. But well, it's here. Silver Factory is very good. It's a deeply creative take on the incense theme, and somehow it does have a pop soul as the name suggests.
First, they finally gave some thickness and substance to incense, instead of diluting & stirring Givaudan's Mystikal incense compound and selling it as-is; it smells solid, vibrant, alive. The substance is made of an array of nuances which are this close to smelling messy, and instead smell just beautifully kaleidoscopic: there's amber, there's a bold metallic vein with a smudged pink shade of iris, there's some odd smell of ashy rubber, even something resembling to a dusty old drop of musky castoreum popped out of a vintage chypre, and a distinguished, slightly urinous touch of lavender and violet. Just as you would assume with something named after Andy Warhol, it's old and new, naif and dirty, cold and oily, dark and colourful mixed altogether. And obviously, completely unisex. If I had to sum this up I'd consider Silver Factory a pinkish ambery-lavendery-candied-metallic incense, but that would make little justice to the funny, cheerful, complex texture of this fragrance. It's at once elegant and juvenile, funny yet troubled, hippie and hipster, but perfectly easy to wear and like.
I agree with what many others said if Bond ever made something nice, it's probably this. Don't get me wrong though, I'm not suggesting you to get it: the price is completely mad and this is surely not worthy that money. But if you get the chance of some deals, then surely grab a bottle!
Somewhere halfway two other prominent Japanese brands making (sometimes) nice scents Comme des Garçons and Kenzo, and a tad below yet connected to the majesty of Yohji Homme, there lies mat; very male by Masaki Matsuhima. The aesthetics are clearly closer to Comme des Garçons and Yohji Yamamoto, and so is the inspiration of this scent for me quite minimalistic, urban, dark and hypermodern; but some notes and the overall texture definitely remind me of a couple of Kenzo's, notably Kenzoair for a similar use of transparent woods and a sort of light, grassy-watery breezy vibe. Finally I can't not mention Lolita Lempicka Au Masculin for the top anise accord, here filtered through a contemporary Japanese sensitivity, and also actually smelling a bit more quality and less juvenile than in Lempicka's rendition. Just add Comme des Garçons Black's smoky licorice to the scents I just mentioned above, and you've quite a good picture of mat; very male. In fact it's pretty much that: smoky licorice, breezy anise, airy woods, an almost unperceivable hint of birch-suede, with a touch of water and a Japanese sense of peaceful, ephemeral suspension. Be prepared to a massively light scent, but it lasts for a decent amount of time.
Shortly a very compelling modern take on a woody-anise-licorice theme, quite synthetic in spirit but actually fulfilling and round enough not to smell annoyingly artificial, or too harsh. Nothing top notch, but it's very (very!) decent. Very easy to like, very versatile, not too derivative, quite unusual too due to its aquatic black sort of atmosphere a transparent, breezy ambiance yet with a subtle, weightless black feel amazingly paired with the sweetness of anise. It can still be found for relatively cheap on eBay, if you like the names I mentioned in my review I'd definitely recommend it.
I think I underrated this line way more than it deserved, except for Cuir d'Ange which stroke me since the very first sniff as the utter overwhelming masterpiece it is. Both Vetiver Tonka and Ambre Narguilé quite grew on me slowly over time, and lately Santal Massoia has done it too even more slowly. It seemed to me a weak sandalwoody thingy at first, while now I quite changed my mind about it (luckily I hesitated to review it right away back then). I mean, I liked it already, but it just seemed a bit too tame at first. On the contrary, it's a fantastic, perfectly compelling and fulfilling scent: and as many fantastic scents, it just requires a bit more attention than usual to get its value at its fullest. Composition-wise it bears Ellena's best features, which this Hermessence line surely and deservedly glorified: transparency, weightlessness, and yet a substantial, consistent, rich presence and persistence just a different, airy concept of richness. If you want to understand the difference between light and weightless, then a couple of these Hermessence scents are quite a magnificent example of that.
Since the very first minutes, Santal Massoia goes back to Gucci Rush for Men's territory: clean, modern, transparent, onirically creamy sandalwood-cedar notes, here paired with a subtle, marvelously comforting sort of milky-fruity note (the fig nuance). Take Gucci Rush for Men, for once not raping it like any other depressing ripoff of it did in the past years (from Azzaro Chrome to Pal Zileri Sartoriale), mix it with Carbone de Balmain's concept of a fig-infused woody accord, give it a luxury, extremely quality substance and elegance as in the very few best sandalwood scents of all times, tweak the volume know down to left a bit, spray it on an angel's wing, distill it, there's Santal Massoia. By the way, the angelic component I wasn't kidding about that will emerge even more clearly on the late drydown, a fantastic, ephemeral sort of watercolour touch of bright, vibrant yet extremely delicate floral nuances with a light woody undertone, oddly even more fresher than the early stages.
A superb piece of classy understatement, nowhere and anywhere on your skin, one of those subtle scents which seem always about to vanish and yet you smell around them for hours, and hours. Just pure white brilliance with a sophisticated, somehow opalescent and dreamy texture as in some old Polaroids of a trip to Middle East. It's very simple actually, a delicate (and amazingly high-quality) creamy sandalwood, and yet Ellena's ability makes it smell just like heaven. A dreamlike reflection of heaven, actually, given its smooth, glassy, see-through substance. Just give it a shot. Amazing and completely unique.
N. 89 by Floris is a delightfully old-school dandy gem, quite a prototypical British soapy barbershop scent all about rose, lavender, mossy woods and citrus. It's astonishingly uncreative, but truly impeccable to any extent. And surprisingly rich and good quality even in the current version, which smells absolutely great, round, not overly synthetic or flat as many current versions of old fragrances or as other inferior, similarly-themed English products like Geo Trumper's ones (Floris is quite better quality-wise for me). Bronnley's Gentleman cologne does quite a similar job at a more affordable price, but No. 89 smells probably a bit deeper and more distinguished than that, also more rose-y and powdery. Very classy, very solid, very gentlemanly, a tad pedantic yet less boring than it may seem. More than pleasant all in all. British barbers' soap at its finest.
Dia Man by Amouage is stunning. Stunning! Not my favourite Amouage to wear daily and forget about it, due to its very subtle presence on skin (which for me would be a crime to miss, so I'd rather wear it when I've enough attention and peace of mind to appreciate it), but surely and by far, probably my favourite ever of their range as a work of... hell, there, I'll say it: a work of art. I think it accomplishes a level of vibrant creativity and impeccable perfection no other Amouage ever did, except maybe for Ciel. But Dia probably pushes the limit even above that. It manages to be smoother, to subtract even more, to make an even more precarious, complex and thin balance perfectly stand still as a transparent ice sculpture. Just replacing ice with air. Others in their range are more easy to love, richer and more fulfilling maybe, surely performing better and thus being more appealing and easier to wear. But Dia Man is just something different.
On paper it is seemingly quite a simple, understated floral-suede-vetiver scent with spicy-green accents and you could wonder where's the deal. The deal is precisely in how Dia transform that mildly promising, yet probably not-overly-exciting structure into something completely amazing. And that sadly can't really be described with words, which would only make it sound undeservedly boring. Or well, mines would surely. I could mention a mind-blowing weightlessness, a unique sense of natural refinement, an amazingly, almost hypnotic slow evolution bringing in and out vetiver, smooth smoke and posh powdery suede, quiet clean woods, delicate breezy flower petals (orris, peony, ylang) which you can almost feel agitated by some gentle wind, an incredibly crisp yet almost unperceivable sort of grassy-minty aroma breezing erratically through the notes as a fairytale ghost of an elf, a genius touch of silky fruitiness... but that would all make Dia sound just as another good scent while it isn't. Not because it isn't good, obviously, but because it's beyond a scent - it's a world, really. I would add totally unparalleled if Hermès Cuir d'Ange didn't exist, as in some way, I think these two scents share some connections both in some notes (especially the powdery-suede treatment), in their stunning quality, and in their general texture and inspiration. But creativity-wise, Dia is probably a tad superior to that, as it dares a bit more in terms of minimalism and complexity. The palette is broader here, so to speak, but surely they share some roots.
Pardon this personal detour but in a way, Dia Man reminds me of some summer holidays I used to spend in Switzerland, Engadin valley, some years ago. I always admired and deeply enjoyed the sense of cleanliness, clarity, purity and almost unsettling calm you can feel wandering through the lakes and the Graubünden mountains in the summer season, together with the warm, cozy, subtle yet somehow also very austere, pragmatic, even slightly decadent neat elegance of many houses and cafés there. In my memories the world there was all green and blue with a sprinkle of flowers, a constant uplifting crisp breeze, a Swiss sense of restrained elegance combined with a deep, archaic love for nature and for the mountains, with their dark shades and primitive secrets (which a couple of clouds are enough to transform from heaven to the most frightening place on Earth). I mean, Nietzsche spent his holidays there, in Sils Maria's village you get what I mean. It's not only about some fresh air and good food to seek some rest. It's like wandering through human nature. Now ironically Amouage's heritage hasn't much to do with of all that (or maybe it has?), and yet the refreshing, soothing sense of sophisticated, almost meditative yet also very civilized raw naturalness is quite the same. Probably natural elegance hasn't ever make so much sense as it would for Dia Man. And it's something really beyond simple charm, or a simple natural feel. It's truly the modulating smell of a whole ideal world in a bottle, a blend of crisp archaic nature and modern cozy refinement. And the choice of giving it such a discreet, subtle texture is just pure genius to me, as it really feels like a call to your sensitivity and intellect to appreciate it at its fullest. Brilliant!
As usual I've a bit of a hard time with fragrances known for being skanky, dirty, animalic and in broader terms, challenging. Because they never really seem so to me. And this is the case of Kingdom, too. It's a fantastic fragrance, that's for sure, but I get really nothing dirty or skanky here. Either I'm too used to live in the dirt myself, or have dated particularly clean people, because I get really no smell of sweat or ladies' parts (let alone man's crotches) here, or whatever other kinky stuff. Kingdom seems to me basically a complex, yet actually surprisingly mannered blend revolving around notes of rose, sandalwood, musk and cumin with a dark ambery-mossy base accord, and a silky frame of whiter floral notes. Surely not a light scent, and I see how a hefty dose of rose combined with an equally generous dose of cumin on a thick load of musk and woods can result into something carnal, alluring, almost intoxicating, but it doesn't really seem anything particularly skanky or challenging to wear to me. It's just more very vibrant, warm, refined and sensual, surely much human and somehow carnal, but not exactly dirty to me. Also as I said, it seems actually quite more mannered and smooth than I thought not a bomb, really. It's surely rich and deep, but not loud or more powerful than many others. It's very velvety actually. Most vintage chypres are way more dirty, loud and challenging than this.
Anyway, aside from the fact it smells truly good, absolutely quality and surprisingly versatile (not sure why but in some way, this reminds me of a rose-spicy version of Yohji Homme, with a touch of something androgynous), the reason why I really like Kingdom and consider it a totally worthy gem is because of its charming complexity. That kind of intricated complexity that presents you a very harmonic, balanced, perfectly consistent blend that at first seems almost comprising only a small bunch of notes... until you get captured into it, and thrown among the myriad of nuances it has. And it's like in a well-written poem everything is in the perfect place, with a perfect timing. You don't even have to pay that attention actually; you can wear it and forget about it, it will all come to you. Eventually you'll get whiffs and echoes of carnation, amber, mossy notes, gentle powdery-floral notes, hard spices, even something resembling to silky orange blossoms (I guess the top citrus-neroli notes combined with the whiter/softer side of musk), just as if you're wearing a half dozen of different scents, with an astounding clarity even in the tiniest, most ephemeral details. And yet, you're always wearing just this one. It's a peculiar effect some scents have to release minor notes and nuances erratically during their evolution, and yet to keep their, say, main structure. I mean, it's not that it changes or evolves dramatically ironically it doesn't that much. A pretty linear scent, in fact. But it has this cinematic effect of releasing coming-and-going nuances throughout its evolution, behind the main consistent structure of rose-cumin-sandalwood-musk, which makes wearing Kingdom a captivating, vibrant, extremely fulfilling experience. And anyway it smells just great, deep and classy, it lasts long without being obtrusive or challenging. Total quality. Prices today are really crazy for this, but you wouldn't probably regret the purchase even just to keep it as a reference collector's item (or a beautiful piece of design... I mean, look at that bottle!).
A pleasant offering by a brand I haven't really the highest consideration for. White Oud opens with plushy white musks infused with a nutty-camphor vibe and a sort of subtle, bright floral-fruity top nuance, as much pale as clearly defined (I mean not a generic floral accord, just crisp precise floral notes with a very ethereal, therefore pale substance). Mostly the first minutes are all about clean, Helmug Lang-esque musks though, that sort of lab-like, greyish laundry feel with a very peculiar sort of cold, hard, slightly mineral-salty vibe (I think caused by the base notes of cypriol and woody aromachemicals), which creates a sort of thin, yet stout feel of, say, marble paper, if that makes sense. Thin as paper, yet robust as a rock. It's quite hard to describe, but if that helps, you can think of something halfway Helmut Lang Eau de Cologne and L'Artisan's Timbuktu painted in white icy watercolours.
Then, cypriol emerges together with the tonka-woody accord dusted with patchouli, or better say the way round the top notes (floral, mostly, and the sweetest, plushiest, soap-like side of musks) fade away and tone down considerably, which is quite unusual for musks. White Oud gets then drier, woodier, still white-grey in an aloof, concrete-like way, and to this extent there's some distant connections to another musky cold scent Narciso for Him, mostly for this same similar concrete vibe. White Oud smells more thin than that though, and also considerably more complex. There is in fact this bizarre sort of mineral-nutty note coming and going, probably due to tonka, but emptied of any warmth or exoticness. Actually that's how most of the notes smell here exotic, but somehow emptied of their vibrant nature. Also patchouli, for instance, it smells like a black & white polaroid of it, rather than the full usual note. And it's not just about being more light, it's a more interesting work on the very texture of the notes. Finally, the drydown pleasantly brings back some soft floral accents (oddly similar to orange blossoms at this point) laying them on a woody-ambery base accord (mostly woody, with a dusty touch of amber).
It seems to me that White Oud definitely nails the concept of creating a white-dark woody scent translating the exotic terms of a typical oud scent into a Scandinavian-inspired cold and, say, hard blend. Being not a fan of Agonist I wouldn't have given much credit to this attempt, but the result is quite compelling actually. For as weird it may seem, it does smell like a white oud infusion indeed: it keeps the same nutty-medicinal woody nuances of oud, just replacing any skanky, smoky, oily- thick texture with its exact opposite: musks, floral notes, a dry-cold substance, a touch of exotic-almondy dry sweetness. As a comparison, just consider the similarly-named Montale's White Aoud: I love that (nearly the only Montale I really like), but that's way more easy and simplistic rendition of white oud it's just oud, with some conventional white notes on top, like vanilla and flowers. Agonist's White Oud is instead a more creative, abstract, complex interpretation of the idea of white oud more a veritable translation of it in fragrant terms, if that makes sense.
Well anyway, this is interesting and smart. And also quite pleasant to wear, regardless of any theoretical consideration about it. Maybe a tad boring after you got the magic and the concept, slightly more synthetic than I would have liked (even taking into account that it quite fits the concept smelling so artificial, I mean) and definitely overpriced, but well designed and well done.