Vetiver Oriental by Serge Lutens

Review of Palais bell jar:

Everything the pyramid says is here, is here. It comes down to how the balance works for you.

I'm finding this a lovely scent that thankfully doesn't plunge into Sheldrake's typical dense fruitiness. It does, however, flirt with gourmandishness via the combo of chocolate and amber. As gourmands are not my thing, I'd have preferred either/or, and given the "oriental" designation in the name, the chocolate seems more expendable. But, while the amber-sweetened chocolate is more present than I'd have wished, it's far from overwhelming. I'd rather have more vetiver in the mix, but it's certainly here, closely mated to the gaiac and musk in a dusky woody-grassy accord that's subtle and somewhat fascinating.

I don't think this is ever going to rise through the ranks to become a personal favorite of mine, but I can easily see how someone else would fall in love with it.
Nov 6, 2021

Fath's Essentials : Les Frivolités by Jacques Fath

Ah, gimmegreen, you're too kind. This is the sweetness of decay: a funeral parlor, or perhaps even a morgue. I'm off to scrub, and hoping I won't also need an exorcism.
Oct 6, 2021

Pourpre d'Automne by Violet

GimmeGreen's "lipstick perfume done right" is right on point, as everything before and after (or is it above and below?) seems intended to support the lipstick-y iris in the heart. It's a warm iris—a neat trick with the notoriously cool, rooty floral. Quite lovely, and my iris-loving wife gave it a thumbs up, as do I.
Sep 18, 2021

Bois d'Ombrie by Eau d'Italie

The fragrance that triggered my interest in Eau d'Italie was Bois d'Ombrie. A number of BN reviewers I respect sing its praises, and it seems my sort of thing categorically: leather, tobacco, vetiver, woods, iris, spices—what's not to like?

Alas, I have a problem with BdO noted by its detractors: specifically, the bitter, vinegary vegetal note simply doesn't click for me. It's too bad, because it seems as if someone dumped a bottle of vinegar into a brew I would otherwise have loved. But then, perhaps that divisive note is the point. After all, the rest of the profile is fairly common amongst masculines of a certain era. So, I wave to those across the divide who enjoy this, but I'll be staying on the other side, happily without a bottle of Bois d'Ombrie.
Sep 14, 2021

Paestum Rose by Eau d'Italie

Opens as a light, spicy rose, very pleasant. The incense and woods show up later, but don't change the fundamental nature of the scent. This is an easy wear, airy and neither too sweet nor too dry. I could ask for more in the way of performance, but that might undermine its charms. I haven't decided if I need a bottle, but I'm at least thinking about it.
Sep 14, 2021

Baume du Doge by Eau d'Italie

The consensus on this seems to be that the drydown is a letdown after the more distinctive opening; an opening that gets mixed reviews. The spices and vanilla with a touch of cedar say “woody oriental” while the orange says “gourmand,” with the net effect being something like a creamsicle melting in your spice cabinet. Really, it all smells delicious, but at the same time all that sweetness seems a bit too desperate to be liked.

The mint (or mint-like) note becomes more prominent as the orange and most of the spice recedes. The vanilla and some unassuming wood remains. It doesn't quite turn to toothpaste, but yeah, the drydown is a letdown. Not that I wanted more spicy creamsicle, but it was at least an idea, whereas this is barely an afterthought.

Ultimately, the drydown morphs back into woody oriental territory—sort of like a vanilla-flavored toothpick. Which is better than it sounds, but not enough better.
Sep 14, 2021

Sienne L'Hiver by Eau d'Italie

Whatever else one could say about Sienne l’Hiver, you can’t fault it for lacking a concept. This is as valid an expression of winter in a bottle as one is ever likely to get. How you feel about that is something else.

I find SH engaging, even fascinating, on an intellectual level. I’m still working out how that translates to my desire to wear it. The main issue I have is a note others have flagged as “olive,” though no such note is in the pyramid. While not the all-out vinegar assault of Bois d’Ombrie, it still keeps me at an emotional arm’s distance, more so than the olfactory “coolness” achieved without camphor or conifer. I probably won’t shell out for a bottle, but I might return to the sample the next time I get nostalgic about snow. So, a conditional thumbs up.
Sep 14, 2021

Ambre Fétiche by Annick Goutal

Cream that whips you back. I'm not an amber aficionado, but this is one I might break out on occasion. Mostly, though, I prefer more leather and less amber.
Sep 14, 2021

Iceberg Universe Femme by Iceberg

Iceberg Universe Femme snuck into my home as a freebie accompanying something I bought. I had no great expectations, particularly as the package design (from a designer label!) is utterly clueless. The fragrance is, in fact, a perfectly nice peachy vanillic floral. If not a “masterpiece” by a wide margin, neither is it so dire as the afterthought packaging suggests. Rather generic, yes, but in a casually appealing way, in the manner of a tasteful feminine skin lotion. In a field rife with fragrances that attempt more to lesser effect, that’s not such a bad thing.

No, I will not be buying a FB.
Sep 14, 2021

Hommage à L'Homme by Lalique

I’m with those who perceive this as a dry, woody (more than oudy) tobacco scent. Grapey violets are there close to the skin, but not in the sillage—at least, not on me—lending a bit of pipe-tobacco sweetness to what’s otherwise more of an unsmoked cigarette vibe. I’m liking it off the bat, and at the price this is going for, a FB might just be a no-brainer.
Sep 14, 2021

Ambar del Sur by Carner Barcelona

Fragrantica member Tamlin describes Ambar del Sur as, "a spicy amber scent that almost reminds me of a salty broth seasoned with dry herbs. There's something a little bit weird about it...something that's almost a bit sour and funky." That comes close to my experience, though on top of a garden variety sweet vanilla and tonka. I think the salty/weird/sour/funky aspect is a bergamot-glazed synthetic ambergris with some attempt to make it more realistic than the usual ambroxan bomb. Combined with the "amber accord" in the heart and the vanilla/tonka base, you've got amber and ambergris together for a sort of oceanic oriental, though arguably not as interesting as that might sound.

I'm not fond of either aquatics or vanillic ambers, so this isn't my thing. I had hopes that the sandalwood, cistus, and myrrh would outweigh the vanilla and tonka, but not to my nose. I'm also not having any of the performance/longevity issues some wearers report, more's the pity.

If you like modernist ambers, this might work well for you. My sample will go in the "out" box
Sep 14, 2021

Y by Yves Saint Laurent

This doesn't just smell awful, but also cynical.

0/10, unless we're allowed negative numbers.
Sep 14, 2021

Gucci by Gucci pour Homme by Gucci

The pyramid promises all sorts of good things. The juice delivers none of them. A cookie cutter ozonic, like any random scented magazine flap peeled back to sell another mass-market blue scent.

To think Gucci used to be a quality fragrance house.
Sep 14, 2021

Balenciaga Paris L'Essence by Balenciaga

A good woody violet leaf fragrance, unisex in practice if not in labeling, for those wanting something more demure and modern than Grey Flannel. For my money, Olivier Polge does better here than at Chanel. Even if a tad faceless, Paris L’Essence is still streets ahead of the last few designer frags I sampled in both character and competence—so of course, this one is discontinued. Not FB-worthy for me, but definitely for someone.
Sep 14, 2021

Oriens by Van Cleef & Arpels

The house and the name enticed me to try this, though the reviews filled me with dread.

Well, it’s not dreadful in that it smells offensive, but rather in that it smells cheap and unimaginative—not the image you’d think VC&A would go for. A textbook fruitchouli, with all the artistry and excitement one usually finds in a textbook. Next.
Sep 14, 2021

Baiser Volé by Cartier

Baiser Volé promises to be a “pure floral,” whatever that means in today’s designer parlance. Most unfortunately, the flower it promises is lily—and not muguet.

To be fair, this did a pretty good job of establishing a realistic floral vibe, at least until the drydown morphed into a mild woody aromachemical thing. Had it been a flower I liked, I’d no doubt have joined the choir of fans. Alas, as a hater of lilies, I found this more like Baiser Vile. But that’s a matter of taste, not poor execution. If lilies work for you, likely so will this.
Sep 14, 2021

Armani Privé Pivoine Suzhou by Giorgio Armani

Rogalal's review is pretty much on point, though I think the base is a wee bit better/deeper than just fabric softener. Better enough to warrant Privé pricing? No.
Sep 14, 2021

Replica Jazz Club by Martin Margiela

The opening is somewhat cacophonous, which might be a commentary on jazz. Celery, coconut, rancid movie-theater popcorn butter—whatever it is, it adds a sourness that fights with the other notes for the first 20 minutes or so. After that, it settles down into a woody vanilla tobacco that's at once more comfortable and less interesting. The longer it dries down, the more of a respectable vanilla pipe tobacco it becomes and I prefer that aspect of Jazz Club to Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille. Not so much that the opening is worth suffering through, though.
Sep 14, 2021

Fiery Pink Pepper by Molton Brown

Although the peppercorn smell is here, there’s nothing terribly fiery. Instead, it’s a variation on “blue” fragrances: that sort of dry, ozonic grapefruit top note (they say tangerine, but the pepper and elemi emphasize the acidic aspect of the citrus rather than the sweet, which is in any case fleeting), and the nutmeg and ginger in the heart—no doubt accompanied by Iso E Super—acting more like “pepper helper” than establishing their own voices.

Supposedly, the heart also includes jasmine and rose, but these are some of the least assertive florals I’ve encountered. The base has politely balanced patchouli and cedar, and oakmoss absolute that’s likely trivial in a 2015 release and reformulated away by now (though still listed as an ingredient on the website).

Again, it’s nice without being all that remarkable. It has that slightly sweet metallic freshness common to its ilk. I like it a bit better than most of what I’ve sniffed in the genre, which makes me curious about the differences in the EdP, including prominent osmanthus and the addition of musk. Not curious enough to buy a FB, though.

A very mild thumbs up.
Sep 14, 2021

Colonia Essenza by Acqua di Parma

My wife had an instant and sustained favorable reaction. Nothing groundbreaking, but better than TF Neroli Portofino. If you prefer your EDCs bright and astringent, look elsewhere, but if you like a soapy/creamy profile, this should be right up your alley. I wouldn’t pay retail, but FragranceNet’s price, as of this posting, of under $120 for 6 oz sounds right.
Sep 14, 2021

Petit Matin by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

A light, modern eau de cologne with a properly tempered dose of ambroxan under the clean crisp citrus/lavender/laundry musk. Maybe not worth MFK prices, but if you want something simultaneously elegant and casual for easy daytime wear, this is spot on.
Sep 14, 2021

Rehab by Initio

I was prepared for all sorts of madness after reading the reviews, but my takeaway is: Emperor’s New Fougère. Whatever else is allegedly in here—vetiver, tobacco, lavender—it’s crushed under the heel of obnoxiously loud vanilla and musk. I understand the desire to be noticed, but for this? Pass.
Sep 14, 2021

Signature pour Homme by Zaharoff

Quick first impression: will buy. A proper modern fougère with woods, spices, incense, and a well-contextualized oud note.
Sep 14, 2021

Noble XX Art Nouveau Water Lily by Clive Christian

Water Lily is the ostensibly feminine fragrance in this pair. Lily is not my favorite scent by a long shot, but I have a sample, so what the heck. Of course, a water lily is a different flower, but is CC really using water lily extrait?

The opening had that familiar suffocating lily scent—the particular aldehydes and “green leaf,” perhaps—but the drydown is more like carnation: spicy and slightly powdery. Might be the “cashmere musk” in part. There’s some orris and vetiver as advertised, but they’re bit players. I’m not picking up any heliotrope at all, which suits me fine, as the last thing this needs is a marzipan glaze.

As I like carnation, I’m fine with where it’s landed, but the opening isn’t worth fighting through. Lily lovers might feel differently.
Sep 14, 2021

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