Jardin d'Amalfi by Creed

Normally I didn't pay much attention to this particular sub-line of Creeds, not after sniffing some of their other output like Pure White Cologne and Sublime Vanille- while neither was bad they didn't seem particularly mind-blowing and certainly not worth the price, if any fragrance can be said to be worth 500 dollars.

Jardin d'Amalfi caught my interest because its name often popped up alongside Tom Ford's Mandarino d'Amalfi fragrance. I thought I loved Tom Ford's take on the Amalfi coast, but honestly Jardin blew it out of the water.

The opening is definitely the best I have ever smelled, an incredibly soft and expertly blended mixture of fruits, aquatic notes, and just touches of florals and spices in the opening. Mandarino as the name suggests is heavier on the orange and is slightly more stringent. They are two different fragrances but are in the same vein.

The mid-notes is just as lovely as the opening, and just during the time Mandarino and most aquatic fragrances start to diminish into skin scents, this one just keeps going, largely due to the strength of the musk and florals underneath it. Unfortunately this is where it might start to lose appeal to some, and it certainly becomes less of a delight, even if it still smells great, to me. The base is undeniably feminine, but it still projects well. But it's more a matter of preference and not anything lacking in the scent itself.

Honestly this feels like one of the only Creeds that lives up to its pomp, as it has undeniable class, uniqueness (no major label has seemingly tried to clone it, though clones do exist), and artistry. It is lovely, naturalistic, performs well and more or less perfect for warm weather. Huge thumbs up.

Blue Jeans by Versace

Blue Jeans always drifted on the corners of my awareness- I am not old enough to remember when it was actively used, let alone sold in department stores. Indeed, the only place to buy this now is online or from independent fragrance stores or kiosks in malls. Never big enough for my local drug stores to carry it alongside legends like Drakkar Noir but still talked about enough. Now I know why.

Right out of the bottle it smells like, quite frankly, a mix of baby powder and citrus. There is something undoubtedly great about it, as baby powder smells the way it does because it is more or less universally appealing, and the added citrus notes makes it just different enough from baby powder that you wouldn't necessarily mistake it as such.

Blue Jeans never loses that powdery smell even as it transforms into a cocktail of very clean-smelling florals, once again, about as inoffensive as you get. The branding- putting aside the rather strange mash-up of Roman, Medieval Italian, and Americana imagery- as a "very casual" kind of cologne makes perfect sense at this point. There are a lot of notes in here from start to finish but none of them are challenging or meant to elicit eroticism, unlike the tabacco notes of its cousin The Dreamer.

It dries down into what feels like an overly familiar mix of woody, warm notes, the vanilla probably being the most dominant on my nose. If you were looking for a 90s scent that may have been everywhere at one time but is nowhere now, this is where it starts to smell a bit similar to many others.

Thing is, it will take you all day to get there because this thing projects a whole lot, and lasts all day with only a couple pumps. I'm not sure if this was the original performance or a part of a reformulation but it lasts just as long if not longer than a couple of Parfum strength fragrances I own, at an EdT concentration.

Overall I find myself fascinated by this thing from top to bottom, and can be a good choice for those who want people to smell their cologne but not be off-put by it. It makes me wonder what the flankers were like but since those are discontinued you basically have to have Creed money to afford them.

Platinum Égoïste by Chanel

I find myself largely frustrated by Egoiste. It might just be a preference thing admittedly, but although it smells very good, it also smells very common, probably because it has been copied, but I know enough to know that it also copied so much from the past itself. In essence, it perfects what came before it, but in return it lacks a certain distinctiveness in the modern day at least, and I've smelled enough to know it wasn't that unique even back in the 90s.

Its strength really lies in the craftsmanship which is undeniable, there are a lot of notes and they all seem to be expertly blended. Egoiste takes what was already around before in a variety of men's colognes and starts it out sparkling and fresh. This is really where it pulls you in, but the mids and base just dry down to a woody bases that were ubiquitous back then as now.

This creates a conflict especially with those that like to match the seasons, a conflict a lot of men's colognes seem to have, trying to start out fresh and end sensual. The intent seems to be to make it universal and trans-seasonal but the result is something that seems right for no season or weather in particular.

All that being said it might just be your favorite scent, to the point where everything else feels extraneous. But for me? Feels like it could have used more focus.

Terre d'Hermès Parfum by Hermès

The original Terre d'Hermes was the closest you can get to a modern fragrance masterstroke, and in my opinion, the Parfum strength version of it is the best iteration of it. The profile of it is pretty much the same as the identical, but turned up. When it comes to men's fragrances, it seems difficult to check all the boxes, a non-linear fragrance where every stage is very nice and undeniably masculine, good for all seasons including the tricky summer, while still being unique and standing out among the crowd.

It does this by truly unlocking the potential of the mandarin orange, which is the hero of the first act, a very well balanced scent which isn't too overwhelming, not too tart or bitter, but also not to fresh or floral. As it wears down, the orange mixes with an earthy stone scent. If I could just bottle the mid-notes of this by itself with nothing else, I would be happy. The base note smells almost nothing like the opening note, but still feels connected, like a camera slowly panning down from the fruits and leaves of the tree down to its bark, woody without being peppery or spicy, and at no time does it ever lose a certain masculine edge.

My only problem with the original was a certain EdT wimpiness, with a fragrance with this much to say, you want to say it a bit louder. The Parfum strength projects and lasts all day with just a couple of sprays, each of its notes given plenty of time to transition into the next. The orange at the top might be a bit more crisp and tart than the EdT, but it never feels out of place. If I had to give it a criticism, it would be that the orange has a certain amount of natural freshness, and I wish there was still some kind of orange at the base. Even this can be nice, as starting the day with the crisp top note and ending it with the old woody note can signify the day's journey. Still, if you're looking for that freshness all day, it may not be the best option.

Mandarino di Amalfi Acqua by Tom Ford

Let's just get this out of the way: Tom Ford's Mandarino di Amalfi Acqua (c'mon Tom, what happy to those short, snappy titles?) has the best orange-aquatic opening on the market and one of the best openings overall I've smelled, especially for summer. Mandarin orange has a natural freshness and I've never met anyone who doesn't like the smell of it. The orange is mixed with clean, fresh accords that blend perfectly with it. It's better than Terre d'Hermes' opening, better than any other attempt at orange that I've smelled. Even when wearing something else, I'll give the handsome blue bottle a squeeze just to smell that opening. It projects quite well at this stage as well.

Unfortunately, the divinity is short-lived and fleeting, maybe an artistic statement on the nature of love. After an hour or so, the lovely orange fades and disappears almost entirely into bright, summery florals that make it smell like every other unisex juice on the market. It's also at this stage where that "unisex" really comes in, the orange opening helps keep things from getting too feminine (while still remaining perfectly good for women to wear), but the floral dry down makes it lean more toward the feminine side.

All that being said, for an EdT, it does last surprisingly long on my skin, even through sweat. For me, the opening is good enough for a recommendation by itself, and even if the dry down is unimpressive, it's also unoffensive and plenty nice.

Concentré D'Orange Verte by Hermès

Smells like orange. The Hermes cologne collection is supposed to be more linear, simple, but still very nice fragrances, and the Eau d'Orange Verte is the pure expression of this. No complexity here, where Terre d'Hermes plays a symphony with the orange tree, this one smashes you in the face with the business end of the fruit, perhaps less ripe than you're used to. "Verte" means green dontcha know- and this does add a very greeny leafy accent to the orangey orange.

I suppose out of all the colognes it became popular enough that Hermes just made it an EdT, but even with that you're looking at like 5 hours max. Still much better than the colognes, whose longevity really makes you ponder what the point is.

I'm honestly not sure how I feel about it. It certainly does what it sets out to do very well with little compromise and I can certainly respect that. Orange is a rather universally liked scent so it probably won't put anyone off. Still, with Terre d'Hermes and all of its apostles sitting literally inches away from it, I don't see much reason to favor it unless you absolutely must smell purely like oranges for some occasion.

Terre d'Hermès Eau Très Fraîche by Hermès

I suppose one of the main problems with the original Terre d'Hermes and its stronger Parfum variant is that it's not generally seen as very "fresh" and people want freshness. The problem is with that is I always thought the Terre opening was quite fresh due to the natural citrus, it only lost that freshness during the latter parts of it.

Eau Tres Fraiche (very fresh water) version of this makes an attempt at creating a more fresh, summery version of original TdH, but it does this not by messing with the woody, not-so-fresh dry down but by simply replacing the well-balanced orange with a more sharper aquatic citrus accord. It would had made much more sense to make it more fresh or aquatic or even floral into the dry down, the woods at the bottom are simply not tres fraiche. In short, it fails to do what it set out to do.

On top of that, we're back down to the wimpy EdT concentration, and after enjoying the Parfum strength so much, it feels like a significant step down. If you want a fresh orange fragrance that actually smells like fresh orange the whole way through, then take a step over to the cologne section and try out Hermes' Eau d'Orange Concentre, though the orange there is much sharper. If you like the opening more than the original EdT then it's fine, but for me there's just little reason for this to exist.

Aventus Cologne by Creed

Everything about the new Aventus variant is confusing and weird. It's called "Aventus Cologne", cologne being the colloquial term for men's fragrance, however this is marketed as unisex (more on that in a bit). It's not an Eau de Cologne, but an EdP like every other offering by Creed. I suppose they're using the original-original definition meaning perfumes in a particular style from Cologne, but not having smelled any perfumes from the 1700s I can't really speak to that.

It has the same design as Aventus save for a light gray instead of black theme, though in many ways the two fumes are very different. I'm somewhat convinced that this started out as a different concept (maybe a fragrance for teenagers? They did make something truly awful for babies the other day), and the genius marketers decided to make the new concept an Aventus flanker to help drive sales, along with a really stupid graffiti-themed advertising from the 90s. Shame too, because it's actually quite nice.

I didn't like the original Aventus due to its fizzy fruit basket opening where it seems like pineapple overpowers everything. The Cologne's opening is only tangentially similar to that, it's much more of a fruity aquatic. Strangely, it reminds me of another fragrance (also a variant to a popular main entry that should have been its own thing) released in 2019, Azzaro Chrome Aqua. The Chrome Aqua was more soapy and a tad metallic, but the Aventus Cologne is more toned down and leans more into a ginger-mandarin. But where it separates itself entirely from other aquatics is in the mid and the base, a nice mix of wood with a touch of vetiver. It's quite nice, but...

Well, performance becomes the big demerit for this guy. It doesn't project a bunch, and doesn't last too long. Longevity is not even in the same ballpark as Green Irish Tweed, which seems to last longer than an Irish folktale, and performs worse than Millesime Imperial, which is already more of a subtle fragrance. 4-5 hours and it's gone, not good for something to wear to work or school. There's also little that sticks out about it in a lineup of other aquatics, and someone has to be right up on you to appreciate the more complex layers. Overall, it's nice, surprisingly complex, but underwhelming, I'm left wishing it was half as bold as the marketing would suggest.

Oh, and it's not unisex as Creed claims- if it is then 80% of the whole men's fragrance aisle at Macy's is also unisex. It's more masculine than Millesime Imperial, which is just barely unisex. Creed already has a number of great unisex fragrances, I don't know why they feel the need to list everything as so.

Creed pour Enfants by Creed

I had a lot of questions about this fragrance. The concept of "good" fragrances for younger humans may seem excessive at first, but there's no doubt that they many of them could use it. Soap and water and shampoo only go so far. My main question was what age range and specific purpose the spray might have. Is it one for actual babies, to cover up the smell of soil? Younger children, older children? Is it meant to be some kind of daily fragrance for bourgey private school, or something for weddings and piano recitals? After giving it one sniff, I quickly came to the conclusion that this fragrance is for absolutely no one, and my only remaining question is what in the flippin' heck the creators were thinking.

Before now, sometimes I said "this made me gag", usually as an exaggeration. This stuff after one sniff was enough to make me stomach seriously curl, and cause me to throw the test card away from me. I don't exactly know why it causes such a recoil, it might be whatever they're using instead of alcohol. Being a masochist I forced myself to smell it some more to see if it was something could grow on me, and while the urge to spew could be suppressed, there is little else positive to say about it. The only thing I smell from the pyramid is a heaping of plum coated in 20 layers of sugar, it smells like the plastic baby embedded deep inside of a King Cake (look it up), sickly sugary sweetness that somehow never smells pleasant for even a millisecond.

In theory, a fragrance for children would focus itself on being as pleasant as possible, fruits with some flowers mixed in, there is literally no reason to make it more complicated than that. I wasn't joking about wanting to sit down the perfumers and ask them what exactly they were going for, as nothing here seems to make any kind of sense, and it doesn't seem like Creed would do something so abominable without some kind of reason. In any case, I would douse a baby in Creed Aventus or even Drakkar Noir before giving them a spritz of this literally sickening garbage.

Chrome Aqua by Azzaro

There's something quite elegant in the simplicity of this one. Marketed as an aquatic version of Azzaro Chrome, I don't see too much similar between the two and it's a little annoying it shares a name and bottle design with Chrome, because the Aqua is much better.

Chrome Aqua is a fruity-fresh soapy aquatic from beginning to end. While apple is considered a heart note, I find it holds hands with grapefruit and aquatic notes on the top, and never fully decays, the pleasant top sticking around for the life of it. If Chrome Aqua is heavily synthetic it is very good at hiding it. The fruits and herbal notes in Aqua stays nice and cool, never warming up. Most aquatics try to be "Aquatic Plus", starting out with a refreshing clean smell but trying to do something complex with it underneath to very mixed results. God forbid you smell clean and fresh the whole way through without some kind of "signature profile."

It's perfect as a daily fume in the hot summer, or for times when you're in close contact with strangers and don't want to offend. A couple squirts on the arm has decent projection, but if others do smell it the worse they will think is that you use too much soap, as it doesn't smell a ton like standard cologne. For conventions and gatherings where body odor is a problem, it can be quite the sniff of fresh air. There's nothing cloying or headache-inducing about it. It's what it says on the bottle, and it does what it does with surprising effectiveness.

The bottle shares its uninspired design with Chrome, the two can even be mixed up due to their similarity. Aqua's glass is frosted with "Aqua" lazily printed on it. The original Chrome bottle was designed 23 years before this one was released, and somehow the Aqua looks older, but maybe 80s nostalgia is the point here, and the straightforward design matches the juice to an extent. Still, those looking for a nice aquatic at a department store will spot this one from the shoe section, and it'll be just what they are looking for. A hearty recommendation.

Armani Code Absolu by Giorgio Armani

Every Macy's I went to was telling me how popular and great this fume was and throwing me samples, and I have to admit, it deserves at least some of the hype.

It's essentially a tonka-vanilla bomb from start to finish, its linearity is somewhat refreshing in a way. I don't really smell much of the purported top notes and it settles into a very warm tonka-vanilla with some nutmeg in there just a few seconds after spraying.

About spraying, you'll only want to do that once, because this stuff has some of the most projection and longevity I've seen, especially from your designer brands. One squirt on my arm lingered on my nose off and on for the rest of the day. If there's one thing that puts this above competitors, it will be noticed and you'll be able to stretch a bottle out for some time. Also unlike many competitors, it smells quite natural and likely won't produce headaches as much as some of the ambrox-bombs. Might be an attempt to break into the Tom Ford (but for a lot less) market, and if the Macy's ladies are telling the truth and not just pushing a product, it's working. If this helps start a new trend away from synthetic freshies I'll welcome it.

So how much you like it will depend on how much you like the tonka-vanilla combo, as this is where this one lives comfortably and tries to perfect. Not entirely sure if it's a great summer fragrance, but I wouldn't object to it. It was a pleasant surprise, for sure, just disappointed I found out about it in the spring.

Millésime Impérial by Creed

This is probably my favorite fragrance, I wear it regularly, especially during the warmer months. It seems to fit so many occasions, from an office setting to be smashed up against other sweaty humans at a convention (and trust me, you'll get thanked if you smell nice in an ocean of not-nice in those occasions).

It's fresh without being being cloying and synthetic, a very natural salty note mixed in with some nice, but not overwhelming fruity tones. After drying down, it has a nice mix of fruity notes without ever losing the salty marine feel.

It's marketed as unisex, but I feel it's perfect for young men. Women would probably be more satisfied with Silver Mountain Water, which has a lot of the same body but is cooler a bit more floral (I actually alternate SMW with MI during conventions).

Now, I used to love the old bottle, but the new bottles are 100% gold and it's gaudy incarnate. In my mind it might earn it with how great the fragrance is, but unless it's actually made out of gold such a bottle is just too gaudy to display.

Green Irish Tweed by Creed

I love this fragrance, but I feel like I'm a couple decades too young to actually wear it. Creed is great at naming things and they nailed it with this one, as it invokes middle-aged college professor or an old gentleman walking down the Irish coast.

And it's fitting, because it opens up pleasantly aquatic, not the rolling glens of Ireland but its rocky coastlines. Fresh and slightly salty (though not as much as the Millesime Imperial), but its freshness feels "old" and natural like a slow-growing moss. As it dries it never loses that character, which makes it a bit more linear than a lot of fragrances, but the smell is so nice you don't want it to transform too much. Even the ambergris at the base recalls our dark mother, the ocean.

Unfortunately the things that make it so nice also seem to cage it off for men in certain age groups or settings. Its sophisticated fresh mustiness simply doesn't work so well with younger people hanging out with people their own age. Luckily, Creed also has them covered with scents like Silver Mountain Water and Millesime Imperial. I still find reasons to wear it though, when I want something different or just want to smell the lovely stuff for a while.

I'm not sure why the bottles are all-black, but at least that works way better than the tasteless all-gold bottle of Millesime Imperial that is probably right next to it.

Aventus by Creed

Look, I don't like pineapple. It's not just the taste, if you put one pineapple slice on a pizza the whole pie tastes like it, and that's what I feel the central problem with this fragrance is. But I think it's also why people love it.

It starts out with a rather rich fruit bouquet, although pineapple seems to overpower everything like it normally does, which then rots into something different as it dries, mixes into something that isn't actually all that bad somehow. It's certainly distinctive, and it projects. People will know you're wearing something, and noses who know will know it's Aventus. That sickly pineapple note remains throughout though, and it ruins it for me after a full day of wearing.

There's also not a single Creed I've tried or worn which triggers migraines in people I know, but Aventus broke that trend. I'm not sure if it's the boldness or projection of it which makes it stand out, but the classy subtlety of Millesime Imperial or Green Irish Tweed is not there. Luckily I've not been unfortunate enough to meet someone who bathes in this stuff, and I pray I never will.

But yes, I can see why people like it, as it is distinctive and if you happen to love the fruity opening it will no doubt grab you, or those close to you.

Wanted by Azzaro

I like to think that Wanted's marketing and design is some complex avant-garde artistic statement, a political statement on the vapidness of gun culture, how under the hyper-masculine facade lies fear and insecurity, repackaging unnecessary aggressive toughness into a need for safety. Owning an actual revolver, seeing this bottle in the fragrance section made me gag a little. Just as I may stop to gawk at the trashiness of Invicta watches in a display case, I needed to know what offensive sludge came out of the criminally tasteless bottle.

What I got was surprising to say the least. A pleasant, fruity opening that transitions into something common and inoffensive. I bought a bottle on a whim and it kept confusing me, there was nothing daring or distinctive or outlawish about this fragrance, it makes Bleu de Chanel smell like an international crime lord. The whole thing is such a contradiction that it's hard to believe it wasn't done on purpose. It's a fruity, pleasant, inoffensive thing that far better suits an eager-to-please office worker than a rough riding outlaw. As a result, I wear it from time to time when I need something nice but not too noticeable or distinctive. I keep it on my shelf so that I may appreciate it as a piece of postmodern art.

Bleu de Chanel Parfum by Chanel

I never liked the previous attempts in this series, despite its popularity it always seemed confused and muddled, trying to cash in on trends while also creating something distinctive, an aquatic that didn't want to commit to freshness, a Chanel that was insecure in its purpose. And yet, despite all of this, it was quite popular, enough to spawn an EdP that wasn't any better.

I was curious as to what the new incarnation would smell like, a full-figured Parfum pour Homme. The Bleu Parfum is much more focused, a rich lavender that dries into a deep woody aroma without ever truly losing that lavender. The aquatic tones are much more subtle and work in service of everything else. One-to-two squirts will do you at most, and it lasts quite a while, as you might expect from a Parfum. Its projection is nice granted that you go easy on it, an arm's length with decent sillage.

I'm not sure if it fits all occasions to seasons, but there are times when this really hits the spot.

Y Eau de Parfum by Yves Saint Laurent

If you want to know what fume enthusiasts mean by "synthetic", all you have to do is give this stuff a quick sniff. That being said, I go back and forth on the stuff as a whole. The opening is no doubt a synthetic cocktail, but it weirdly works on some level, the use of apple makes it less cloying than it should be. I have to admit, there's something annoyingly pleasant about it. The "clean" synthetic opening gives way to a boring but inoffensive middle warmth, adding to my confusion as to what I really think about it. Its base is even more boring, and tempts me to push it into thumbs-down territory.

There are better options if you're want to go this route, but it's also not the worst thing you could put on.

Versace pour Homme Dylan Blue by Versace

Dylan here seems a little confused as to what he wants to be, there's certainly a lot of stuff going on with this one but it never seems to jive together into a real olfactory statement. It opens up fresh but not super fresh, and then gets into a complex blend in the middle. In some ways, all this muddling just makes it smell generic all the way down to the base, I might be able to pick it out of a lineup simply due to its lack of distinguishing features and its muddy middle.

It does stick around, though, and its projection is considerably more than your average EdT. I keep it as a token Italian fume in a lineup, and I liked it marginally more than Eros. So I guess it's not bad? Not something I'd personally buy again, though.

Explorer by Montblanc

Ahh Montblanc, everyone's favorite "lifestyle brand" filled with thousand-dollar pens, overpriced "luxury" watches with off-the-rack designs and mechanics. When I heard they tried to ape Aventus I was intrigued, and tried not to let my pre-baked bias against the brand affect my judgement when I first gave it a sniff, which includes pretending like Aventus doesn't exist and this is a completely original scent. So I got 50ml and decided to test it out on people around me.

This is quite masculine and mature, and I have to give it some credit for not trying too hard on the opening, the bergamot is pleasant and doesn't decay too badly on the dry down. The mids are quite leathery, but it really starts to break down in the base layer, which other, more expensive hypothetical similar fragrances might not. And unlike that purely hypothetical fragrance, Explorer doesn't trigger headaches in those sensitive to smells in my own testing, something that is important to those who have those people in their lives.

It doesn't last terribly long and doesn't project a bunch. If it were more headache-inducing it might deserve a lower rating, but as it is I'll give it a thumbs-up. It's a good fragrance for those looking for a more subtle, masculine fragrance. The fact that it seems to be more neutral-smelling and doesn't have some of the more common migraine-inducing notes in my experience is enough for me to recommend it.

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