Mona Visa

No. 19 by Chanel

The world is changed.

Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it.

Thousands of years from now, a Gandalf-like perfumer combs dusty archives, looking for clues. Looking for answers. What were these great works of art like before we changed them? Before we lost them?

Chanel No. 19 is the best fragrance ever created. There's nothing better. I wish everyone could have the same experience I did: I was fourteen or so, having fun in a cosmetics store, smelling different perfumes and suddenly-- there it was. Heaven. Perfection. Clear and simple and exponentially better than anything else.

I hadn't read a thing about it, and I only discovered years later that Chanel No. 19 is considered to be a "bitchy" or cold perfume to be worn by heartless cold bitches. This is not true. Don't believe those reviews. Those are words written by damned souls.

It's easy to hate something because it's beautiful. I can forgive this kind of jealousy; it's so transparent.

Harder for me to forgive are the changes to Chanel No. 19 itself.

No, stop. I don't want this review to be yet another ode to the past, another "back in my day" whine, a howl about how the band is much better live and how you kids will just never know what you missed. More and more that kind of review disappoints me. Because things change. The world changes. Perfumes change too. I'm getting older, you're getting older, there is no Santa Claus and the cup of coffee you just drank is *much* closer to your last cup of coffee than it is to your first.

Still. It's hard for me not to cry about this one. It is my precious and I do collect it to somewhat ruinous effect.

Apr 9, 2021


Nombre Noir by Shiseido

Nombre Noir is a haunted gothic rose that smells *exactly* like the early 80's. It deepens with jammy notes of blackberry, osmanthus, and flux capacitor. ( I'm not sure how else this can smell so exactly like the 80's! They put *something* in the water during the Cold War.)

Nombre Noir is an 80's fragrance without any of the 80's fragrance PTSD. It didn't permeate every mall and magazine like Giorgio. It wasn't worn in the high school hallways and locker rooms like Poison. And yet Nombre Noir feels like it was actually there. Nombre Noir is the atmosphere of my own dark, perfect, alternate past.

Nombre Noir smells like the deepest velvety purple rose, a rose so dark it's almost black. It's a rose with blackberry jam and carnations (maybe just one carnation, this isn't Ho Hang Club). No soap, no sugar, some spice. It is sad somehow, but it's not depressing or tedious. It's the fragrance that a smart goth girl would wear.

Or at least it was. Nowadays, Nombre Noir is so insanely expensive that it's probably just the smell of bad judgement.

Nombre Noir is uniquely beautiful. It is worthy of praise. But I think it has probably been a bit overpraised and over promoted. There are other rose fragrances out there. There are better rose fragrances out there. Still, if you are lucky enough to own a bottle of this... I guess I should be brave enough to admit that I'm terribly, terribly jealous.
Apr 2, 2021


Lost Cherry by Tom Ford

Ladies and Gentlemen, stand back. I am going to wear Lost Cherry. I am then going to rhapsodize about it and fill this review with so much purple prose that everyone who reads it will be embarrassed for me. I'll probably edit 90% of what I write today out by tomorrow, lest the shame of this review stain my children and my children's children and their children unto the fourth generation.

I LOVE LOST CHERRY. I love it. I love it even though I know it doesn't deserve me OR all the money I pay for it. I love it even though the name is, somewhat ironically, tasteless. I love it even though the pure red cherry note disappears disdainfully within an hour. I love it, even though I feel like a bit of a fashion victim every time I put it on. I love it, and I know all about things like cognitive dissonance and Stockholm Syndrome.

I love it but this is the last time you are doing this to me, Mr. Ford. (Do you take American Express...?)

When I first spray Lost Cherry on my wrist, it's a cherry pie cloud. But after fifteen minutes (the bad jokes just write themselves here, don't they) that note is gone. And the fragrance, um, falls flat for a bit.

Eventually the other notes catch fire though, and Lost Cherry descends into dark, delicious euphoria. Bitter almond is balanced to an almost marzipan effect with that boozy cherry syrup, and it's all topped with just enough jasmine to make your head spin.

These notes smolder for about two hours... there's never enough time when it's this good. Any thoughts of this being another fruity forgettable fragrance are gone.

The dry down is heavenly. It's detectable on my skin indefinitely as a powdery, boozy, cherry-clove-cinnamon scent. Cinnamon isn't named in the pyramid, but I promise, it's everywhere in this dry down . Maybe it's some sort of an effect created by the other notes. In any case, for hours the cinnamon and cloves and cherry booze powder weave around each other, and it's lovely. Lost Cherry is a gourmand without vanilla, it's fruity without being insipid, and it has flowers but isn't a floral.

I can't detect the vetiver or the rose. I would love more rose, but I am relieved not to have much vetiver.

Lost Cherry is safe for work. It's not a siren. It's not overtly masculine or feminine. The come-hither powers of Lost Cherry will probably peak around lunch or other associated snack times.

Lost Cherry's sillage is weak. Projection is such that you, the wearer, might be able to smell it all day but it won't go much beyond your own personal space. If you need a fragrance that collects compliments, do NOT chase this dragon.

It's too late for me. The most I can hope for now is that it won't be reformulated or discontinued. Lost (Paycheck) Cherry is going to be on my dresser for a long, long time.
Mar 20, 2021


Deep Euphoria by Calvin Klein

My review is for a miniature bottle of the EDP. It is less than a year old.

The first note of Deep Euphoria is cascalone. For those of you who don't know, a cascalone is a giant watery raspberry that cleans windows and bathrooms. It's not entirely unpleasant. It demands all of your attention for about ten minutes, and then it takes a nap.

Once the cascalone dissipates I can smell the edges of something very similar to the original Euphoria, and I'm not mad about it. But what I don't smell at all is rose, and I *am* mad about that. When the fragrance pyramid lists a note called Black Magic Rose it's hard not to get your hopes up! Maybe it... disappeared... (sorry, couldn't resist.)

Deep Euphoria is pleasant but unremarkable. The other fragrances in the fruity flanker flock will welcome it happily. In fact, it will undoubtedly become the best frenemy of Black Opium because they smell verrrrrry much alike in spite of the fact that the only official note they share is patchouli.

TL;DR: Deep Euphoria is Black Opium with a little soap and no vanilla.
Mar 19, 2021


La Chasse aux Papillons by L'Artisan Parfumeur

The first wave of La Chasse aux Papillons smelled like Desitin. I was surprised that anyone would make a perfume that so closely resembles a diaper cream.

After ten minutes it unwrapped and the medicinal quality dissipated somewhat. Orange blossoms became more prominent and blended with the tuberose to make it softer and creamier. Tuberose fans will certainly want to give this a try.

Excellent sillage. This is well-made and it lasts for about four to six hours on my skin. It's too strong for work unless used with a very light touch. I enjoyed wearing La Chasse but I can't quite shake the Desitin impression, so when I run out of this bottle I probably won't buy it again.
Mar 16, 2021


Narciso Rodriguez for Her Fleur Musc by Narciso Rodriguez

Fleur Musc for Her is a graceful floral EDP that opens with a citrusy burst of pink pepper and rose. The rose doesn't dominate for long; soon it's overtaken by peony and the clean, white musks that Narciso Rodriguez is known for.

This is an elegant, feminine, forgettable floral. There's nothing offensive about it, but there is something odd going on here.

My guess-- and this is just a guess-- is that Fleur Musc is supposed to be combined with Pure Musc for Her. I suspect that layering these two will give Fleur Musc the depth and projection and personality it lacks.

There's nothing wrong with combining fragrances of course. But I feel a little ripped off. Fleur Musc should be able to stand on its own, and for this reason I am giving it a thumbs down.
Mar 16, 2021


Timbuktu by L'Artisan Parfumeur

My review is for the EDT. I purchased this as part of a miniature gift set less than two years ago.

Bright, fresh citrus, followed sharply by wood. My overall impression is of a walk through a pet store: they keep it clean and spray the Windex as liberally as their institution can afford, but the smell of those hamster cages cannot be denied.

After three hours, Timbuktu wore me out. The piercing cedar-chips smell did not relent and did not evolve. I conceded defeat and washed it off.

Please don't wear this to work, unless of course you don't like the people you work with. But if that's the case, just quit.
Mar 15, 2021


Eau de Rhubarbe Écarlate by Hermès

My review is for the EDC. I have a small bottle that I received new a few months ago as part of a limited edition Hermes collection.

Watery, bright, and a little vegetal. A fresh fragrance.

Rhubarb is an acquired taste in the best of circumstances. My grandmother grew it in fluffy abundance in her backyard and rhubarb pie was a staple at our table when it was in season. Everyone loved it.

Everyone except me.

When I first put this on I recognized the rhubarb immediately. But the longer I have it on the less I can pick out the rhubarb note. Maybe this is something that people go nose-deaf to quickly, or maybe it's just me.

An hour after I put it on, it has faded somewhat, but I don't think it has essentially changed or evolved. What you get when you first put it on is what you'll have an hour later, only with less overt rhubarb and more clean, watery, slightly soapy notes.

I don't like rhubarb but I think a rhubarb lover might really like this. Safe for work unless you work around slugs and snails because they will occasionally try to eat you.
Mar 15, 2021


Poison Girl by Christian Dior

My review is for a decanted sample of the EDP.

It's nice. It's young. It's a friendly vanilla with flowers on top. The first thing I thought when I smelled it was, "This is something a young girl would wear."

Poison Girl starts with fresh flowers and candied vanilla all at once. The orange blossom is the star, and there's enough sugar to almost make this a creamsicle note. The roses play a supporting role but they never take center stage. This ain't your Grandma's bathroom! No rose-shaped soaps are anywhere near our Poison Girl.

The flowers don't last too long, maybe an hour, and then this settles into a pleasant, slightly powdery, orange-vanilla fragrance. It would be safe for work. Sillage is modest. It lasts six hours on my skin.
Mar 14, 2021


Green Spell by Eris Parfums

This review is for a sample of the EDP that I received yesterday. I ordered it from the Eris website a few days ago.

The first moment of Green Spell is perfectly, unapologetically green. It's not sweet. It's not floral. Citrus is here, but it's under cut stems, like an unripe, chilled grapefruit peel that has been rolled in tomato leaves.

Green Spell is refreshing and pleasant but not comforting. It's slightly uneasy. It's the scent of the Venomous Tentacular creeping up behind you. It's a bouquet of dandelion stems.

Green Spell starts strong but after an hour it settles down. Maybe it settles down too much. Two or three hours into the dry down, and Green Spell was powdery and dry. Dry, but still as green as a grass snake.

Six hours later I can still detect it on my skin. Much fainter but still fresh, cold, and powdery-earth green.

Thumbs up. It's not for everyone. But if you've been going stir-crazy indoors after a long bleak winter this may be just what you need.
Mar 11, 2021


Rose & Cuir by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

My review is of the EDP that I received in the mail a month ago from a major department store. It is the 7ml mini that is part of Frederic Malle's Roses: A Collection edition.

This is new-car smell. With roses. I think I would have named this Cuir & Rose instead of the other way 'round, because the leather is much stronger than the flower note-- this is absolutely positively not a floral, in spite of the name.

I can tell it's a well-crafted fragrance but I don't know if there's enough depth or roundedness here for me.

It's dawning on me that this is much more masculine than I expected. A man who might not otherwise wear a rose-scented fragrance could be quite happy with Rose & Cuir.

After about fifteen minutes the roses (and that bit of dark fruit, the description says blackcurrant, so it must be that, but there's something like rum or brandy here too) are all but gone. And then I smell cedar, strong but soft. It's a bit like Feminite du Bois in a white suede jacket.

And although I didn't detect it, when I asked my 18 year-old son to use one word to describe this fragrance he said, "Grass."

Rose & Cuir is for someone, but not me. I would be very happy to smell it on someone else, though.
Mar 10, 2021


Jour d'Hermès Absolu by Hermès

My review is for the EDP. I obtained this from the miniature splash bottle that was included in an Hermes set. My sample is about a year old.

This smells more like peach than apricot to me. This peach is still on the tree and has spent all day in the sun, which is just barely starting to set. This is a feel-good, relaxed, vacation-in-the-Mediterranean kind of perfume. It's not too fruity though, and it's not too flowery; I think it's a fair balance of both.

But it's not an intense, heavy, heady perfume. I really don't detect much jasmine. The fragrance pyramid doesn't list this, but I feel like there is a good dose of water or watery notes here.

I think this would be fine for an office environment, but it might cause the wearer to daydream or gaze out the window a bit too often.
Mar 10, 2021


Mûre et Musc Extrême by L'Artisan Parfumeur

My review is for the EDP. My bottle is a miniature, it's part of the L'Artisan Parfumeur set, and I bought it new about a year ago.

Mure et Musc smells exactly like Ivory Soap Flakes. Pure, white, fluffy flakes. A big bowl of blackberry jam is somehow underneath it all. You didn't know you wanted to smell like blackberries and soap flakes but trust me, you do, you really do.

I'm still not entirely sure what a "musk" note is. I picture a Musk Ox. Whatever it is, though, Mure et Musc smells fantastic.

Even though the blackberry note is strong, it's balanced by the fluffy soap smell, so this isn't a gourmand. It should be safe for work, but I don't think it should be worn if you're going camping. It may attract bears.
Mar 10, 2021


Narciso Rodriguez for Her Pure Musc by Narciso Rodriguez

My review is for a carded sample of the EDP that I received from an eBay seller this week.

This is a big, soft white flower. Or a bowl of warm white petals.

I personally don't get much of the soap that others do, but this is a clean fragrance. I'm not that familiar yet with different notes in perfume; I wouldn't know "musk" if it bit me. But this feels intimate without any smothering vanilla. It's attractive but not a siren.

Pure Musc for Her feels more elegant and substantial than your average floral. It could be safe for work if used with a light hand.
Mar 9, 2021


My Kind of Love : Princess by By Kilian

My review is for a carded sample of the EDP I received this week from an eBay seller.

Holy toasted marshmallows and creme brûlée, Batman! This is the first thing I smell, it's immediate, it's big, with the lemon juuuuuust underneath it. It actually made me hungry. I'm impressed with the deliciousness and authenticity of this marshmallow note. This puts a big smile on my face! It's time for lunch.

The dry down is the ginger & green tea, very light, very faint.

This is a fun fragrance even though I am not particularly a fan of gourmands. I like my sugar cookie-type body scrubs from Bath & Body Works, but I don't really think anyone wants to pay Kilian money to smell like a marshmallow. Angel is still around! And Angel lasts and lasts. Princess does not. (Princess is no weakling though. I'd say it's about half of Angel's strength.)

As a perfume bottle collector, I can't say this bottle has much to recommend it in the aesthetics department. I can forgive a fragrance so much, honestly so much more than I should, if it comes in a gorgeous bottle. Or at least something with personality! Or a bottle that's fitting for the fragrance inside somehow-- I know, it's kind of the opposite of the Frederic Malle approach, but I understand and appreciate what he's doing, too-- but this bottle is just a drab little thing. The six year-old girl in me is delighted with the perfume but wants to know why the bottle is so ugly, Kilian.

Ultimately, I don't know who this fragrance is for. What comes to mind is an absentee parent, wracked with guilt, buying it for a teenaged child. And that's not a pleasant thought. At that price...

ETA: Credit where credit is due, twelve hours later this fragrance is still here on my wrist and it's still delicious.

ETA, the next day: It's still detectable, twenty-four hours after I first sprayed it on my wrist. Marshmallow-y vanilla, and pleasant, even after washing my hands several times over the past day.
Mar 9, 2021


Bandit by Robert Piguet

My review is for a sample of Bandit EDP that I received two days ago from on online site called surrendertochance.com. I'm not sure what vintage it is, but it appears to be a 1ml decant.

My first impression is-- wow. I can't say anything about it that hasn't been said.

This is Chanel No. 19's much older sister. She sits in a dark corner of the bar, drinks absinthe, and tells stories about the war. She wears a black leather jacket given to her by Ernest Hemingway (that jacket is where the smell of smoke comes from btw. She kicked the habit ages ago).

If you are a man, can you wear this? If you have to ask, the answer is no.
Mar 8, 2021


L'Arte di Gucci by Gucci

My review is for a decanted sample of the EDT that I obtained two days ago. I don't know how old it is, but since L'Arte di Gucci was launched in 1991 and discontinued in 1994 it probably doesn't matter.

The roses and aldehyde jump out immediately. It's very reminiscent of the rose note in Montale's Black Aoud. At this point I was nervous. I can't tolerate Black Aoud for long.

But after five minutes or so L'Arte smoothes out into something soft, beautiful, and almost kinda...sorta... nsfw. Wow, definitely. And this is just the EDT.

Oh, this is a heartbreaking fragrance to have fallen for.
Mar 8, 2021


Bitter Peach by Tom Ford

"You think YOU fade fast, Lost Cherry? Hold my beer."

This review is for a sample of Bitter Peach given to me yesterday. It was obtained directly from a major department store that rhymes with jordstrom.

When I first spray it on, there's definitely a big, perfect peach note. It smells like the cooked or stewed peaches from a cobbler. Underneath the peach, the blood orange is just detectable. It's not sugary or jammy or flowery; there's a bit of sparkle or fizz that reminds me of drinking peach-flavored Perrier.

That was the first five minutes.

After that, most of Bitter Peach vanished. The dry down was faint and tedious. Rum? Maybe a whiff, but Bitter Peach is a very miserly, tightfisted bartender.

Then I detected maybe something waxy, like a nice lipstick... At first I thought of Lipstick Rose, but no. I couldn't put my finger on it. After an hour it hit me.

Carmex! The dry down smells like Carmex.

On the whole, Bitter Peach is nothing. It has no projection and no sillage. The bottle is pretty, but even typing that out feels like I'm damning with faint praise. I can't even say that this is safe for work, because most people work for money.

I couldn't possibly recommend this.
Mar 7, 2021


Light Blue by Dolce & Gabbana

This review is for a carded sample of the EDT. My sample has been kept in a cool, dark place but it is about four years old.

My first impression is of soap. A tart green apple and a bar of soap. Light, fresh, clean.

It develops a sort of aquatic vibe after about 30 minutes, and I'm reminded of Acqua di Gio. And soft white flowers. A cool breeze, like an early Spring morning. The jasmine is light and very chaste.

I think men could wear this easily. It belongs somewhere on the CK One spectrum for sure.

Use it with a light hand for the office. It's only an EDT but it's quite strong.

Not my cup of tea in general but I can certainly understand why people like it.
Mar 7, 2021


Iris Nobile by Acqua di Parma

My review is for a carded sample of the EDT.

Iris Nobile is like a garden experienced at a distance. The iris takes a back seat to the other flowers far too quickly, but overall it's a beautiful etched-in-air mirage.

No soap, thankfully. The longer I smell it, the more I like it, and the more I think I will find a sample of the EDP.

This would be appropriate for an office setting.

Not much projection or sillage, and it's probably too feminine for most men to want to wear.

My husband likes it on me, says it's one of the best fragrances I've tried so far. I'm giving this a thumbs up, and I'm going to find the EDP.
Mar 7, 2021


Dune by Christian Dior

This review is for the Esprit de Parfum concentration of Christian Dior's Dune.

I'm at a loss to describe it. It's glorious. I wish I were better at identifying notes and layers. It's not floral, it's not sweet, it's not light. It's not pheromone sexy but it is warm and sort of delicious. Slightly spicy but not cinnamon. There must be some sort of vanilla, which I usually do NOT like, but whatever is happening here works. It's a much rounder or layered vanilla.

It's not soapy.

You could wear it to work, if you were careful. This Esprit concentration is pretty strong.

A man could wear this. Absolutely yes.

Whatever Dune is, it's a thumbs up from me. It's dark and dry and pairs perfectly the Dune 2021 trailer. (I hope the movie will be good, but if not, we'll always have Dune 1984, with Sting in that codpiece.)

Edited to add: The dry down is somewhat reminiscent of vintage Obsession.
Mar 6, 2021


Burberry Body by Burberry

Apples!

I thought I would definitely find some sort of apple note on the fragrance pyramid. It was so clear! But no, the pyramid says peach.

I did not expect to like this. I was annoyed with it before I even tried it, because it's one of those ubiquitous "free samples" that I intend to get around to, but never actually do. Time passes. Guilt increases. The samples multiply... I think they breed.

So with the odds stacked against it, I sprayed it on my wrist. It immediately brought a smile to my face. It smells a bit like YSL's Paris.

It doesn't have much projection. It's lovely and fresh, but you need to get right up to it to smell it. This was the EDT version though, so try the EDP or the Intense version if you want something bigger.
Mar 5, 2021


Féminité du Bois by Serge Lutens

It's a bit of a paradox. Woody and soft and the same time, with cinnamon floating above it.

My problem with it is that it seems to disappear on my skin. I can't smell it after an hour. This is not acceptable for an EDP, especially one in the Lutens price range.

But I am going to give it the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the problem is me.

It's possible, just possible, that my nose is burned out. That it's fried. That it's totally desensitized from all the 80's fragrances I grew up loving.

Maybe the huge shoulder pads combined with Poison did some kind of lasting damage. The atmosphere of 1984 was 51% Giorgio, as the Good Lord intended, but does that mean that years later I can't enjoy something delicate and sophisticated like Feminite du Bois?

Am I suffering from the Obsession Effect?

Or do I just have a weak sample. I think I will withhold final judgement, obtain another sample, and try this one again. Stay tuned.
Mar 5, 2021


Encre Noire by Lalique

It smells like your nose is down in wet grass and mud, very close down.

Encre Noir is that place in a basement where wooden supports might meet the dirt. It's also slightly nauseating.

A better name for this fragrance would be Crawl Space, or Eau de JW Gacy.
Feb 24, 2021

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