Wild Gardener

Boucheron by Boucheron

Orange blossom & tuberose bubblegum; lifted by tart, green, woody and spicy notes.
A typical 80’s confection, the juice - a Cyndi Lauper shade of auburn - tells you what it’s about, even before it's left the bottle.
This is for those girls (and guys – why not) who just wanna have (a) fun (perfume).
Nov 26, 2021

Eau de Mandarine Ambrée by Hermès

Another of those 'how does he do it?' mysteries from Jean-Claude Ellena.
Mandarine Ambrée does exactly what it says on the tin : mandarin - amber, mandarin - amber, amber - mandarin.
But how does he make the mandarin - a citrus top note, last as long as the base note - amber?
The answer is; it's virtual mandarin, backed with a fruity note.
Once you've figured that one out, this linear and rather straightforward amber tends to lose its interest.
Nov 24, 2021

Divine Folie by Jean Patou

After the Wall Street Crash had started the Great Depression, perfumeries might have knuckled down with sombre creations or just gone quiet. Not so with Patou, they went bananas; with Joy – the ‘most expensive perfume in the world’, and then Cocktail – with three flankers, and no less than six other perfumes, all in 1930! During the next few years the deluge gave way but their exuberance was relentless: Baby Bar (1931), Invitation (’32), Holidays (’34), a perfume to celebrate the cruise liner Normandie (’35) and Divine Folie (1933), a simple but vibrant combo of syrupy amber and zingy orange blossom, sunny and upbeat.
Even though it’s a bit old fashioned it still feels young at heart, a lovely piece of optimism to lighten the gloom.
Nov 22, 2021

Noir Epices by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Quid pro quo :
It’s tempting to see this as the price of Thérèse.
Malle wanted to pubish the ‘lost’ masterpiece by Roudnitka, and his son Michel – who controlled the formula - wanted to get one of his own released.
Noir Epices is spicy pepper at variance with milky rose.
It’s not a patch on Parfum de Thérèse but then - what is ..?
But, at two thirds of the way down the list (percentage of positive ratings on Basenotes) it’s not the worst of the Malle’s either.
All the same it's not to my taste. The spice is too stark and the rose a bit strange.
Nov 21, 2021

Coco by Chanel

Some resinous materials have acid overtones.* These off notes can be felt when resins or balsamics are used in large quantities, and their unpleasant effects can be prominent in what Arctander calls ambra* perfumes. When this happens it’s common for perfumers to hide or disguise the offending notes.

Coco doesn’t try to hide its acid overtone but instead (like Youth-Dew) it aims to disguise it, in this case with a spicy accord, which also has peppery and burnt sugar tonalities. These are backed up by the gritty indole of orange flower, and the woody, earthy, spicy and camphoraceous elements of patchouli.**

Because ambra constructions tend to be base heavy they are long and linear. And this is the case with Coco. The acid overtone stretches way down into the body, making Coco feel a bit purse-lipped after a while, although there is a powdery sandal and balsam note in the drydown which softens it up a little.

There’s some sweetness, but it’s kept well back (for an amber) and overall, Coco feels dry and acid-sour as much as sweet. This is a brave and admirable ploy on the part of Chanel and Jacques Polge, or it may have been they were just making a virtue of necessity; but all the same, I find it rather stark, and starkness isn’t something I look for in an amber.

(Vintage sample, nearly empty)

* Steffen Arctander – Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin
** thegoodscentscompany.com

Nov 18, 2021

Who Knew? by 4160 Tuesdays

Imagine; crossing a jammy rose chypre with a green tea cologne.
Could it be done?
And if it was, would it smell like Givenchy III meets Paloma Picasso?
Who knows?
Nov 16, 2021

Oud Ispahan by Christian Dior

A hissy pink cosmetic with an afterthought of oud.
There’s nothing wrong with this not being an Oud, a perfume could in theory contain a smidgeon of oud and still be a different – and decent - type of scent (in the same way that Angel contains patchouli but isn’t a Patchouli). But :
• this is called Oud Ispahan, and that’s a little bit misleading, and
• it’s cheap smelling with a lot of synthetics (that don’t smell like rose) and
• it doesn’t smell good, or original in any way.
In fact it puts me in mind of ‘Oud J‘Adore’, except Oud Ispahan seems to be aimed at a more prosperous clientelle; who I imagine as the type of woman (because this is clearly meant to be bought by women) who frequent Dubai shopping centres (and the embassy quarters of Paris) rather than those Attar Walla boutiques that only deal in the good stuff.
In business, I was advised to under promise and over deliver. This clearly does the opposite.
Nov 14, 2021

Crimes of Passion: Maxed Out by 4160 Tuesdays

There is booze, coconut and coffee, but our complete waster Max smells of black hash fudge - in a Big way---sweet, but with a bitter edge that holds it down---If you think you don't like sweet perfumes, this one may change your mind---I find it strangely comforting in a sort of crazed Dean Moriarty kind of way.

Mad for it Max
Nov 13, 2021

Lava Rose by Strangers Parfumerie

A Fantasy Lava, and rose

A dark grey mineral, and rose.
Plastic tar and volcanic vomit, and rose.
It’s bitter, with a sweet-powdery nuance ; it’s Rock Snake and rose.

An oud–rose, without the oud.

A crazy beauty, as Portia says.

Nov 9, 2021

Les Elixirs Charnels - Oriental Brûlant by Guerlain

A thick and powdery fog of a dull fruity amber, even the bitter ‘burning’ note doesn’t spark any interest.
To my mind, this is faux luxe of the most dubious sort, intended to lighten the bank balance of Matrons who believe that a high price tag
Must guarantee good taste.
In reality, I find the dry sweet-&-sour drydown to be
Nov 6, 2021

Mandragore by Annick Goutal

A weird root that smells like a weird fruit, woody and over ripe at the same time, Mandragore is like a hollowed out Halloween pumpkin, tough on the outside but rotting in the middle. A rooty-orange bitter and woody fruit, it’s a bizarre hybrid; one that fascinates - even if it doesn’t seduce.

Mandragore is mandrake, beloved of necromancers - who would make an effigy of the human shaped tuber before cursing it - and their victim - with black magic.

It’s also the first of three works by Isabelle Doyen which run along the same lines. I guess she liked it so much she did a purple version, and then Nuit Etoilée which is an inverted version of Mandragore Pourpre.

All of this would come as a surprise to those who know Annick Goutal for their feminine florals. Mandragore is something else for the house - and something else in general.

It isn’t a date perfume, and it’s not office safe. I hate to say it but it’s a Halloween scent, ideal for scary masks and all the rest of the plastic crap that has taken over the festival of Samhain and turned it into an orgy of frivolous consumption, in the same way that the Left have turned the traditional spring celebration of May Day into the earnest parades of Labour Day.

So next November Eve, if you really want to give your friends a scare, douse yourself in Mandragore and tell them a good old fashioned ghost story.
Nov 4, 2021

Ambre Russe by Parfum d'Empire

The opening is fine, a flourish of smells. But they inevitably fade out leaving a dry woody Amber; with incense, a touch of dried fruit, and a note of burnt sugar like immortelle.

It’s not bad, but personally I won’t be wearing it. Nothing against Ambre Russe, it’s a nuanced work. But there’s not enough going for many ambers to make me wanna buy them, I think there’s something lacking in the genre.
Not sure what that would be though...
Oct 30, 2021

Prélude by Balenciaga

An almond rose, powdery sweet and innocent
with a sour balsamic undercurrent.
Not bad.

(A miniature version of the bottle shown above)
Oct 26, 2021

Patchouli by Réminiscence

A sweet patchouli-amber.
Nice, but I would say Middle of the Road; neither smelly afghan coat nor camphoraceous, a good start for those new to patchouli.
Oct 26, 2021

Asja by Fendi

Asja may be derivative but it has an interesting fruity intro.
It feels like a mix of red - and tree fruits, i.e. raspberry/strawberry, and pear/apple, and there’s also a peach note. And on top of that there’s cool citrus-aldehydes.
As well as that there’s a gritty note of eugenol and clove, which gives contrasting texture - as well as a spicy angle to the liquid and bitter-sweet fruitiness.
The opening gambit is well worked, but sadly, as it merges with the corps of powdery amber it starts to feel like Opium, and from another angle, there’s a cool fruity wind that smells like Poison.
Asja wasn't just a mix of these two influences, and it takes a different fruity direction near the base - which also reminds me of something - but in the big picture it was surplus to requirements.
A decent but cliché ridden work.
Oct 23, 2021

Oud Assam by Rania J

On her website, Rania J advises people to be cautious. She asks them to try this before buying, because it can be 'challenging for non oud lovers'.

The reason for this warning may be the knife edge overtone that appears at the top of the scent. It gives a sharpness to the antiseptic smell of natural oud; and, if it's worn (discretely) in a medical setting, Oud Assam blends perfectly with the background hum of strict hygene. But if you are wearing it in quantity, this opening could be too strident for those who aren’t used to such things.

Under the synthetic note and the disinfectant oud, there are smoky and leathery facets which are faintly touched with orange.
And, with incense and pepper it's unsweet-bitter. But having said that, I detect something softer and sweeter, almost floral, which (according to Wikipedia) is a mark of real agarwood. Later, there's the rich acid barnyard note - which could be mixed with narcissus, and the cheesy aroma, which oud lovers will know...

I get fruity maroon, leathery, woody, cheesy and fungal Breton cider from the empty sprayer - the smell of rotting apples on the humid earth.
And then there's a dry floral, and a salty note of vetiver, and musk from my cuffs ...
This really is complex stuff, and a welcome change to yer regular high street pong. I wish I had more juice to do a fuller review, this empty sample gave out a few paltry squits and now it’s gone.

I'm no oud expert, but it strikes me this is an authentic hybrid that blends Eastern oud with scintillating Western highlights; something which Rania J is able to do with authority. Having grown up in the middle east and africa, she now lives in Paris.

And despite her warning, I think that this - with familiar tones in it’s strange coloured brew is a good place to start, especially as you can buy just a 2ml sample.
Oct 21, 2021

VU by Ted Lapidus

Vu pairs a honeyed amber with cold green.

It’s a difficult match, like Shalimar and Envy, one of those marriages that works because of the tensions, not despite them.

May you live in interesting times, as the Chinese curse has it.
Oct 18, 2021

Vison by Robert Beaulieu

It's a consciously retro scent, an aldehydic floral in the style of a parfum fourrure - a fur perfume.
And it’s interesting that François Robert - scion of the Robert family – opened his ouvre in this style. Because this, his first work, echoes that of his grandfather Guy: Caleche - an aldehydic leather, and maybe Lasso (although I don’t know it) a leather chypre with peach - which also features here.
Vison (which means mink) is a rather formless and thick chypre, sweetish but somehow unpleasant with a hide-like feel. Where Caleche is opulent, this is oppressive.
In case you were in any doubt about what you were buying, the bottle cap is wrapped in a furry hat, probably not mink, but anyway - a piece of dead animal.
Oct 15, 2021

Oscar de la Renta pour Lui by Oscar de la Renta

A gunmetal and herb fougère.
I don't know why this won a FiFi, I find it peremptory
and rather boring.

[Vintage miniature]
Oct 13, 2021

Krazy Krizia by Krizia

A sweet & sour powdery amber in the style of Obsession.
Not an original theme, but Dominique Ropion teased out a venomous green and over ripe twist to the fruit and resins. Think Obsession meets Diorella.
Comme des Garçons parfum (1994) has a similar kind of sickly feel but there it’s a bit more spicy.
Not suprisingly then, a challenging work like this has long been out of production. You can still find it though.
Oct 12, 2021

Gigi by Jardins D'Ecrivains

Gigi is one of a trilogy from this house that deals with controversial literary subjects : [Oscar] Wilde – who was prosecuted for gross indecency with another man, Orlando – a gender morphing poet in a Virginia Woolfe novella, and Gigi – a novel by Colette where a young girl is raised to be a courtesan.
Gigi’s story is said to be based on Yola Letellier (you can see her photo by Man Ray on her Wikipedia English page). Letellier married a man forty years her senior, who was a newspaper magnate and mayor of Deauville, the über swanky resort in Normandy where Chanel opened her first boutique.
With this kind of backstory, you might expect these ‘white flowers of the Belle Epoque’ to be different from the average, and they are. Gigi opens with a strange exotic fruit, somewhere between citrus, lychee and peach; enticing but vulnerable, a lustrous milky green, pale, more bitter than sweet.
It develops an orange flower and tuberose bouquet, which is sweetly floral but harshly indolic. It’s as if - as she grows – Gigi masters the art of seduction - but at a price. She remains the innocent, but has a difficult side to her worldly charms.
All three of the trilogy are built around orange flower. The other two are too dusty, dry, and this is the only success; with a fine balance of sweet and sour, it stays open and luminous.
Oct 10, 2021

Les Elixirs Charnels - Chypre Fatal by Guerlain

A milky peach and a bare bone chypre.
What Coty might have lashed up in a rage after smelling Mitsouko for the first time.
Oct 8, 2021

Eau Lente by Diptyque

Autumn is a time of ripeness, the completion of the yearly cycle of growth and maturity, and so, to the weary farmer - whose fields are full of waving grain - it’s a time of plenitude and celebration.
But there is another side to autumn, the decline of summer into barren winter, a shift from growth to decay, from life springing forth - to its return back to the earth.
And it’s this poignant, melancholy side to autumn that Eau Lente captures. Its russet resiny scent is full, over ripe, almost putrid.
It is said that the formula derives from an ancient scent which was known to Alexander the Great, and it wouldn’t surprise me to learn it was used to embalm his body, such is the sweet spicy ripeness of it all.
With Eau Lente I was looking for an autumn perfume, but instead of a harvest festival I found something more akin to a funeral.
Oct 6, 2021

Vétiver Dry by Carven

This isn’t a Vetiver but a fougère in the style of Azzaro pour Homme.

Vétiver Dry is more powdery-full, and it has a geranium note - which makes it a more conventional fougère, but they are basically quite similar.

It has herbs and a green tone which aren't in Azzaro. And, as well as that, there is a possible violet leaf note, which along with a dark pepperiness gives a vague hint of Fahrenheit - which was also launched in 1988.

But despite these differences, this is yet another Azzaro clone; and like (I think) all of them that I’ve smelled, I prefer this to the original.

So leaving aside the name, and viewing it on olfactory terms, this would be of interest to Azzaro lovers, and worth checking out. But, stand alone, it doesn’t say anything that hasn’t been said a dozen times before, it just says it in a softer powdery accent.
Oct 6, 2021

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