Sauvage Elixir by Christian Dior

I'll second everything Jack Hunter has said in his review below this one.

This stuff is very well blended and is, at least according to my nose, composed of high quality ingredients. I would particularly call out the lavender, which has a big, 1980s Fougere quality that makes this scent smell elegant and well suited for mature, elegant folks. But the scent also works for me, and no one has ever mistaken me for elegant. The rich, smooth sandalwood also deserves praise for the way it smells and for how it acts as a bridge from the heart to the base of the fragrance. I am comfortable with the price/value relationship here, but some folks will doubtless feel this scent is too expensive for a mainstream designer release. I am looking forward to cooler days because I think this scent will really shine in cool to cold conditions. Recommended.
Sep 1, 2021

Brioni Eau de Parfum by Brioni

Blue--but elegantly so. Gasoline/petrol violet is noticeable here, but it is toned down a bit as compared to the ever so vaguely similar Fahrenheit. Smooth leather marks the base. Longevity is not as lengthy, nor projection as formidable, as I had expected given what seems like copious amounts of aromachemicals in use here.

The presentation is also classy and elegant, as befits the Brioni name. A gentlemanly fragrance that is suitable for most situations and seasons. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Aug 11, 2021

The Alchemist's Garden : 1921 by Gucci

Update, mid-August, 2021:I cannot explain why or how, but over the last two weeks, the longevity of this scent has improved markedly. I am now getting 3-4 hours of moderate projection and 6-8 hours of total longevity in sweltering heat and humidity rather like standing in a steak shower. Since my prior reservations about 1921 were performance related, I have revised my rating to a thumbs up. This really is a lovely dry citrus fragrance.

Original Review: Summer in the tropics, where I find myself at the moment, is a time of high heat and intense humidity. These conditions usually cause me to experience big upswing in projection and longevity from my fragrances, which is a good thing because daytime in this climate calls for light hesperdic fragrances which usually disappear fast in more temperate conditions. I say all of the foregoing to preface my disappointment with 1921. I do not expect extended duration from citrus scents like 1921, but the almost instant disappearance of this scent from my skin is shocking. Even in the conditions in August in Port Vila, I can barely detect this fragrance 45 minutes after spraying it. It is immediately a skin scent with virtually zero projection and, by the end of hour 1, neither I nor anyone else can detect the scent even with noses pressed to the point of application.
When you consider the price charged for the fragrances in the Alchemist's Garden line (something like $325 for 100 ml--I bought this bottle in Dubai, from one of the Gucci botiques, but the currency conversion is pretty accurate as of the date I am writing this review), this abysmal performance is simply unacceptable.
This fact is a true shame because while it hangs around, the scent is great. Nice, dry citron undergirded by verbena, which ironically is, I think, intended as a fixative, resolved into a lightly citrus neroli before the base brings a good impersonation of another non-functional fixative--oak moss. The packaging is as superb as the smell--as with all of the scents from this product range. Spraying my clothes (something I don't typically do) helps longevity a bit, but not very much.
The smell is so good, that I am giving this fragrance a neutral, but anyone with even the most minimal concerns about projection and duration in their fragrances should avoid 1921. In fact, anyone who isn't a big Gucci fan and collector probably will not have much interest in this fragrance.
Aug 6, 2021

Coromandel Eau de Parfum by Chanel

This post is only to second Varanis Ridari's comment in his review suggesting that Coromandel EdP is quite good in extreme dry heat.

As it happens, I am just back from doing some off-roading with friends in the Rub' al Khali here in Dubai. We camped overnight. I had a small career sample of this fragrance that I had been given at a Chanel boutique. I packed this sample because I wanted to test out the idea of using this fragrance in these conditions.

Coromandel really "blossomed" in the extreme daytime desert heat (110°+) and dry air (>20% humidity), becoming a very rose heavy, but not too jammy, feminine-unisex fragrance. Later, in the cool night air, it also worked well, displaying the smooth unisex patchouli notes highlighted in previous reviews. Longevity was excellent. Projection in the very high heat was formidable. I used only a single light spray on each side of my neck. Any more would have been too much.

So if you live in the desert or are heading to a hot, very dry summer environment, and you have Coromandel but use it only in cool weather, give it a try. It works well. However, guys like me who don't like to wear scents that are too purely feminine, should be aware that this scent reveals stronger feminine-centric notes in these conditions. Everyone also needs to be mindful not to overspray in high heat conditions to avoid choking folks in a cloying rose miasma.
Jun 8, 2021

No. 22 Parfum by Chanel

TLDR: Excellent (4.5/5). If No. 5 seems quite old as she reaches her 100th birthday, her 99 year old sister still has a contemporary bounce in her step.

Released a year after No. 5 as a lighter alternative, No. 22 is, in today's parlance, a flanker to Chanel's Grande dame fragrance. No. 22 is brightly aldehydic during most of its progression after an opening that is nearly 100% aldehydes. This fragrance smells distinctly less animalic than any No. 5. As such, the fragrance seems more contemporary and less old-ladyish than 5 while still having the house's polished demeanor. The heart is less jasmine forward than 5 and the base has a somewhat soapy vetiver that gradually gives way to a vanilla powder. Throughout this progression, the fizzy aldehydes make their airy presence known. No. 22 is an interesting alternative to No. 5 for those who like the idea of the grand dame but find her reality out of step with current tastes.
Jun 6, 2021

Molecule 01 + Patchouli by Escentric Molecules

TLDR: Good (3.25/5). Straightforward, minimalist blend of Iso-E Super warm woods and strong, cleaned-up patchouli notes. the blend works great.

I agree with Buzzlepuff, below. This is the best of the Molecule 01+ series.

The blend of synthetic and powerful Indonesian patchouli is a great addition to the Iso-E Super. The result is an almost minty, medicinal herbal pop of the "best parts of patchouli" anchored by the woody aromachemical. Even if you are anosmic to Molecule 01, as many folks are, you will smell this fragrance. This fact is a benefit, because it makes gauging the correct number of sprays easy. You do not want to overspray this fragrance because even though you may not perceive it, the sillage from This fragrance can be very heavy.

like many synthetic fragrances, this scent has a way of reappearing for the wearer each time s/he moves around. The scent is unisex, projects moderately but persistently, and is very spare. The simplicity here is elegant. I'd rate it safe for the office if not over applied.
This is really nice stuff. It is definitely worth checking out if you like patchouli. Thumbs up.
Jun 4, 2021

Paris-Édimbourg by Chanel

TLDR: Very Good (3.9/5). A departure from the other fragrances in its line, this scent is a thoroughly enjoyable addition to Les Eaux de Chanel.

Paris-Édimbourg represents a bit of a departure for the Chanel Les Eaux line inasmuch as it is the first of these scents to exhibit almost no connection to the house's historic DNA. Apart from a hint of clean musk in the base, which does have at least a passing relation to the bases in several of the EdP versions of Les Exclusifs, the juniper, cypress and even the vetiver in P-Ed are not familiar Chanel notes. As such, this fragrance can be seen as a welcome departure from the somewhat lackluster other fragrances in the line.

While I do enjoy Paris-Deauville on some summer days, the Paris-Venise, Riviera and, to a lesser extent, Barritz offerings were sufficiently unimpressive that I passed on them. So when I tested P-Ed, my expectations were low.

To my considerable surprise, I think this fragrance is the best in the line. The fleeting juniper opening is both herbal feeling and citric. It is followed by a blend of evergreen (perhaps the indicated cypress) and lavender that carries with it an unusual eucalyptus accord whose cool menthol note weaves its way in and out of the scent repeatedly once it makes its first appearance. The vetiver which emerges in the heart of the fragrance is clean, grassy and slightly minty. This is not the vaguely earthy vetiver of Sycomore or the nutty, dry vetiver that whispers in the base notes of so many Chanel scents, it is something new for this house. A faintly resinous incense note is also present from late in the heart of this fragrance. The vetiver and smokey notes add an unexpected depth to what is overall a rather light, almost weightless fragrance for much of its progression.

A fairly artificial woody, musky scent emerges deep into the dry down and lingers for quite some time with the earlier scent notes occasionally resurfacing briefly to accent it. I cannot identify the specific aromachemical used, but it is probably something akin to Iso-E Super.

Longevity stretches out toward 6 hours with no more than moderate projection.

This is a distinctive, appropriately luxurious-smelling unisex fragrance that will work for daytime use in all but very cold weather. The prices for Les Eaux are reasonable by Chanel standards and, at least for me, the quality on display here justifies the cost. I would guess many hardcore Chanel fans will be disappointed by P-Ed because it strays so far from the typical Chanel characteristics. For this reason, I also expect many folks who have never really appreciated much of the house's fragrance output might well find that they quite like this scent. In any event, this fragrance is well worth sampling and gets a strong thumbs up from me.
May 28, 2021

Odeur 71 by Comme des Garçons

TLDR: Good (3/5). An evocation of a specific sort of place in the guise of a fragrance. Oddly compelling.

Before Covid-19, when going to the office was a big part of many folks' lives, lots of people knew the smell of Odeur 71 at a nearly subconscious level.

This blend of dusty woods, metallic notes, office supplies and other random-seeming notes evokes an empty office environment with remarkable realism--right down to "dust on a not light bulb".

I can appreciate the conceptual fragrance art on display here. I have had a bottle of this scent for quite a long time, but lately I find myself wearing it once in a while and enjoying it. I suspect that my new found affection for this scent is a manifestation of the degree to which I miss the collegiality, ritual, distractions and even, to some extent, the annoyances of working in a bustling office environment.

Before the disruptions wrought by the virus and the [supply your own adjective, I don't want to be political] government responses to it, I would never have believed I could become nostalgic for the office. But I am and Odeur 71 is a way for me to travel back in time to the work environment I used to know.

Therefore, this scent gets a somewhat Proustian thumbs up. (BTW, considered solely as a smell, O71 is a pretty good, if rather synthetic, woody aromatic and proves more easy to wear than you'd suspect from a quick sniff.)
May 23, 2021

Arsène Lupin Voyou by Guerlain

UPDATED TLDR: Good (3.25/5). In higher heat, the unsettlingly 'blue' opening note morphs into bigarde and any aquatic strategies disappear. Now adding 1/2 point to the score and changing to thumbs up to reflect the improvements wrought in this scent when high heat and humidity are present.

TLDR: OK (2.75/5). A hard to find, light, short lived, fresh spicy floral scent with a high price. The ingredients, blending and presentation are all high quality.

I like Arsène Lupin Dandy as well as most of the other limited release Les Parisians (I have not tried Chamade Homme), so when I recently ordered from Guerlain I decided to give Arsène Lupin Voyou a try. While this was a pricey blind buy, I rolled the dice on it because I really enjoy all of the many Guerlain fragrances I own. After a couple of wearings, the jury is still out on this scent. So for now, I am neutral.

Negatives: smells like so many other fragrances on the market; doesn't project much unless you spray heavily--more heavily than I like to spray; the opening notes have an almost "blue fragrance" accord until the blended spices tone down the fresh powdery notes; and longevity is not impressive in the conditions in which I have so far had a chance to wear ALV.

Positives: the longer you wear this fragrance(and it does have a material progression), the less ordinary ALV becomes, the excellent rose note in the mid here is exceptionally realistic with a charming sweetness; the quality of the ingredients seems high to me and the blending is very good; the musky base is clean, smooth and oh so consistent with the house style (in the base, to my nose, this could only be a Guerlain or a very good copy of the Guerlain style); and the presentation (nice bottle with a light color wood cap and bottle surround, excellent atomizer & nice leathesque, top-hinged box) is very good and consistent with the prices charged.

I am just having difficulty getting a grasp on ALV. I am both enjoying (late opening spice, mid and base) and disliking (early top) the notes in this fragrance. I find that unless over applied, this scent fades away very quickly after being a skin scent for most of the few hours it endures. I am also not sure when I will wear this scent, it is too floral-sweet for work and perhaps just a little too retro for evenings in fashionable environments. Perhaps I will try it at a few nice restaurant dinners(?). Similarly, I am not yet sure what weather conditions are best for ALV.

Therefore, as mentioned above, I am not ready to render a final verdict on ALV. If it were from a house for which I had less respect, would I be more harsh in my judgments? Perhaps. But Guerlain has more than earned the benefit of my doubt and patience.

I will update this review as appropriate following more wear time in different humidity and temperature conditions.
May 19, 2021

Mémoire d'une Odeur by Gucci

TLDR: Good (3/5). A somewhat feminine-leaning unisex scent with minimal projection but an overall interesting fragrance.

I bought this fragrance without spraying it on skin at DXB duty-free. On paper, this scent lights up, projects with mighty heft and smells interestingly indolic because of the way the jasmine and the camomile play together. from a blotter, this is an unusual composition that succeeds in evoking a moment in time by being plaintive and smelling ever so slightly dated. I rather liked this scent during my first encounter with it.

On skin, it is like a different product than what one smells on paper. Projection is minimal, sillage nonexistent and the scent is rather damp and flat in the opening. The mid notes are quite floral and probably read as feminine to most noses. The base, which is hardly perceptible on skin, has a vaguely Guerlain-esque woody, vanillic musky note when smelled from about a millimetre above the point where the spray was applied.

While I am not normally one to spray my clothes, my approach with Md'UO is to spray on skin and then spray a diffuse cloud onto my shirt. In this way, the experience is rather more like the way the fragrance smells off paper. The high-quality atomizer makes this routine easy. Used in this way, this fragrance is rather like the CdG Odeur scents (53 & 71), not in the way they smell, but in the way the combination of notes captures an image of a time and place. This is interesting conceptual perfume compounding and I salute Gucci for bringing something so far outside the mainstream to market. Gucci seems to have developed a penchant for occasionally releasing such scents as further evidenced by Hortus Sanitatis, the 2020 limited release in their Alchemist's Garden line.

I rarely wear this scent, because I don't really know for what situations it is suited. However, I can see from the level in my bottle that my wife likes it and uses it more than I do.

my wife's appreciation of this fragrance notwithstanding, I find this scent unisex. I am, however, a big fan of No. 19, Jicky, and other scents that might be said to tilt to the feminine side of unisex. Perhaps being a tall, burly, bearded comfortably and unambiguously cis-het male makes me less concerned that someone might think my cologne smells feminine. be that as it may, what I am sure is that Md'UO doesn't smell 'girly' or fey, even if it has some elements that are associated with female-targeted fragrances when they are blended as they are here.

The bottle is quite nicely styled and gender neutral.

So for me, this scent gets a rather tepid thumbs-up. DEFINITELY not one to blind buy and not an easy scent to find occasions to wear. Test on skin before deciding on this fragrance. Still, I do not regret buying this scent.
May 14, 2021

Sculpture Homme by Nikos

TLDR: Good (3.3/5) Unique and well blended sweet unisex fragrance with an affinity for warm evenings. Interesting bottle.

When I saw this fragrance offered for a bit less than $10 on one of the discounter sites, I added it to an order because I thought the current bottle looked interesting. Silly reason to buy, I know, but the truth is what it is.

Imagine my surprise, then, upon spraying this juice and discovering a unique, interesting fragrance with, as others have noted below, an intriguing mix of notes found all over the designer fragrances of the late 1990s. But these various notes come from designer fragrances aimed at both men and women. The result is a very contemporary seeming, utterly unisex, warm weather evening fragrance.

By the time this scent came to market in 1995, my clubbing days were behind me for the most part, so I completely missed Sculpture Homme when it was new. Given its sweetness, heady aldehydic opening and eccentric choice of mid notes, I am surprised it did not give Gaultier's original Le Malle more of a run for its money when both fragrances were new to the market (and the clubs). But, in any event, today Le Malle is seen as a classic and Sculpture is an oddity. (For clarity, the two fragrances are very different and Le Malle is the better scent, but they seem pointed at the same audience.) Sculpture Homme is an interesting curiosity that I occasionally put on prior to a casual evening out. I find I like it quite a bit even though it is not the sort of fragrance I typically enjoy.

I won't rehash the thorough note discussions in prior reviews. I think they are spot on for the most part. I will just note that the tobacco accord in the base reminds me of the smell of the sweet, aromatic pipe tobacco one of my uncles used to smoke--which is to say, it is pleasant without being at all cloying. I get considerable projection from this fragrance in both high and low humidity conditions as well as longevity approaching 8 hours.

The bottle is reflective of the fragrance's moniker, that is, sculptural. It looks great on a shelf. For me, then, this one is a thumbs-up. In fact, at the give-away prices for which it is occasionally offered, Sculpture Homme is a most enthusiastic thumbs-up indeed.
May 13, 2021

Eau d'Hadrien Eau de Toilette by Annick Goutal

TLDR: Excellent (4/5). Among the very best citrus EdCs money can buy.

JackTwist's review below gets it exactly right: citrus without too much sweetness. The dry grapefruit makes this scent something special. Great aldehydic pop and sparkle throughout the early and mid notes of this fragrance. There is a synthetic woody note in the base of the current formulation, but it is nice enough and seems to have some fixitive properties because the longevity here is very good for such a hesperidic fragrance. Moderate sillage blossoms considerably in high humidity.

Utterly unisex with good presentation & a very good atomizer. A great EdC!
May 13, 2021

Sahraa Oud by Fragrance Du Bois

When I first got Sahraa Oud, I was excited. I had tried a tester in the shop in Dubai from which I purchased my bottle and was pleased by the more ephemeral way in which the natural oud presented itself in this fragrance. It was shimmery and faintly medicinal and lovely.

I took the bottle with me, sealed in the box, when I returned to Chicago, where it was still cold at the time. When I first used this bottle, the smell was, frankly, bad. Nothing like the way the tester smelled at Plethora in Dubai Mall (a well respected retailer, my bottle is 100% genuine, without doubt). It was as if the bottle was filled with a different fragrance altogether, one without oud, dominated by an almost rancid buttery smell and cardamom.

Feeling badly let down, I set the bottle aside. Today, about three months later,I rediscovered my bottle and applied a spray or two. What do you know, masceration has helped, I would say the scent is starting to approach the way it 'should' smell. The oud is here now, with some saffron and rose, the rancid smell is gone and the cardamom is just a trace note now.

I have increased my star rating of the fragrance accordingly and will update after letting the bottle rest for a bit more time.

For now, I am neutral, but hopeful.
May 7, 2021

Old Spice by Procter & Gamble

After a comparatively warm day spent doing plenty of work, followed by cooking over a Smokey charcoal grill, a shower was called for. But by the time I stepped out of that shower, it had grown pretty cold outside. So what to wear in a cooler house for a couple of hours before bed? Old Spice.

No need to go on about the scent because you have either known it, own it or read about it in the many great comments below. I'll just say three things about this classic and wrap it up: (i) my bottle is glass and was purchased decades ago, but sniffs of newer formulations have confirmed that P&G have knocked the daylights out of this classic--if you can find older bottles, they smell better than what you can buy at the local pharmacy today; (ii) scent is a powerful memory trigger and every time I pull Old Spice off the back of the bottom shelf, it brings with it fond memories of my late father and uncles, all of whom smelled of Old Spice at many a family party--this scent layers well with beer and Irish whiskey, if my memories are accurate; & (iii) if you took high quality versions of this fragrance's ingredients and blended them today, you'd have the makings of a quite good retro hipster barbershop scent that on to which some niche house could slap a cool name and sell as a cool men's frag--this stuff is better than most folks think.

Bottom line: this is a history lesson in a bottle and a must-own for every serious fragrance collector. Thumbs up.
May 1, 2021

Viking by Creed

TLDR: Excellent (4.5/5). A well blended, high quality exploration of the interplay between warm and cool scents. Deserves more praise than it receives.

I find myself in nearly complete agreement with Buysblind's comments below. Viking is very good. The more time I spend with it, the more I like it and the more subtle bright spots I find in the composition.

The mint in this fragrance is exceptional. It smells green and natural, like it is fresh from a garden. I am on an extreme vintage fragrance kick at the moment, so that may explain why the base of Viking seems so great to me. Or perhaps it just really is great. The patchouli and vetiver interplay in the final phase of the scent, accented with the camphor note from the lavandin, is complex and is a neat echo of the mint and cinnamon in the early phases. Strong thumbs up for me.
Apr 28, 2021

Carven L'Eau Intense by Carven

TLDR: Good (3.1/5). Lots of lavender and mint with suprisingly good longevity. Shines in the heat.

Carven L'Eau Intense was great on a tester strip, but during full day use, this scent feels to me like something created for Carven from a scent idea MFK rejected for being too cloying and, at least as presented here, artificial smelling.

Things get underway with an OK citrus opening and a somewhat toothpaste-like mint. These notes lead into a lavender heavy set of mid notes. There is a pretty uninteresting generic amber-woods base underlying it all. Normally, this fragrance would, at best, get a neutral from me.

Instead, after today's wearing, I have to give this one a tepid thumbs up. It does have very good longevity and projection for a fragrance of this type. And I did get a compliment while wearing it today, so I guess it smells better to others than it does to me. Today was unseasonably hot and this is the first time I've worn this fragrance in real heat since I bought it.
This scent comes into its own in these conditions. So hot weather performance raises the rating on this scent above the neutral rating I was going to give it based on a few previous wearings.

This scent displayed more complexity and smelled less cloying in the hot weather today. The mint smells less like something from a dental office in hot weather as well.

I do like the bottle design. I suggest that you try to sample this fragrance on a hot day and see how it works for you rather than committing to it based on how it smells in the store.

Apr 27, 2021

Number 3 / Le 3ème Homme / The Third Man by Caron

TLDR: Good (3/5). Interesting spiced florals bracketed by herbal lavender & citrus in the opening and the classic Caron basenotes. Distinguished.

This fragrance is not so much the charming roguish Wells as Harry Lime in the film for which the scent is named, but rather the slightly out of date, unflappable Wells who shilled for Perrier and Paul Mason wines in his later years to pay the bills.

What always struck me about those ads was the way Wells retained his dignity while doing something he must have felt represented a profound come down. Le 3ème Homme is similarly unflappable and dignified. The scent is structured as a fougere. Yet, there is so much of a floral heart and so little moss in the base that the description really doesn't give you much insight into this scent.

This fragrance is tightly blended. It is possible to pick up some specific notes, the carnations and the rose, for example, but other elements like the cinnamon which spices the flowers are just suggestions playing important supporting roles in the composition.

The overall effect of this fragrance is somewhat calming. It creates an aura of restrained dignity which accompanies the wearer in any situation they may find themself.

It does feel dated. As others have said, it feels more a creature of the 1930s or per-war 1940s than something from the beastly aromatic heyday that was the 1980s.

So to sum up, this fragrance is dignity personified. It is something of a gender bender in the heart notes and it is dated. So, inasmuch as I have hit the wall with the current hoards of Sauvage/Aventus type fragrances and sweet semi-gourmand scents that resolve into ambery woods, I really enjoy this fragrance because of it quirks. Worth sampling for lovers of older style scents.
Apr 26, 2021

Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca by Guerlain

TLDR:Good (3.1/5). A great choice for hot days when you want to spend a little time with a cooling mint scent.

The successful non-dental integration of mint into fragrance is, I think, an under-appreciated skill and here, as with some of her other work (Cartier Oud & Menthe and, arguably, Roadster), Mathilde Laurent shows her great craftsmanship with this tricky component.

Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca reminds me of a specific type of Moroccan-style tea shop that can be an oasis on a brutally hot day. There are flowers adding color and their fragrance to the small room. Fresh cut lemons are also contributing their zest to the atmosphere. But the dominant smell is the mint tea that the place is making and serving. That is the impression I get from this scent.

As Knit At Nite notes below, this is a scent for hot days. I appreciate that the citrus here is minimal and that the fragrance is light and refreshing. I often feel like I get stuck in a citrus cologne rut during extended periods of intensely hot, humid weather. This fragrance, along with Shishedo's Zen For Men and F. Malle's Geranium Pour Monsieur are great ways to break the citrus up by adding other smells in such conditions. But unlike the other two mentioned scents, AA Herba Fresca never gets heavy, even on 45°+ (114°+ F) days.

Of course, a consequence of this lightness is poor performance. However, this issue can be addressed with a travel atomizer and reapplications. In extreme heat, you come to the realization that this aspect of these types of very light EdC products is a feature and not a bug--the cooling effects of the evaporation of an alcohol based product on hot skin is a welcome relief on scorching days.

As to ancillary matters,the version of the bee bottle that Guerlain uses for this Aqua Allegoria range is very nice. I like the golden metal honeycomb added in place of the traditional bees.

I have come to the conclusion that many reviewers simply dislike aspects of mint in fragrances. I am not one of these folks. Well integrated mint is, for me, a joy in fragrances and so I like this scent very much. Thumbs up.
Apr 23, 2021

Nouveau Monde by Louis Vuitton

TLDR: Excellent (4/5). Sophisticated rose oud with saffron and (most likely) some real, slightly rough oud blended with great synthetics. The interplay between the oud and the minor notes is beautiful.

Saying Jacques Cavallier is very good with oud is, I guess, rather like saying Messi is very good with the ball at his feet. Still, if M7 didn't cement M. Cavallier's place in the oud fragrance hall of fame, the ouds in the Louis Vuitton line have to have done so.

I have at least sampled all of the LV ouds except the recent Pur Oud*. Nouveau Monde is the only one of them I chose to get in a full bottle. I have still waited quite some time to review this fragrance because initially, I was unsure this fragrance was anywhere close to being worth what I paid for it.

After a number of wearings, I have concluded that this stuff really is excellent--even at the price.

The oud here is great. I am relatively certain there is some real oud blended with the synthetics. There is some fecal waft in the tippy top notes but it fades fast and from there on out, the oud is Western-smooth and endures for ages.

What makes this fragrance, and the nose work on display here, stand out is the beautiful way the oud is framed. Saffron and cardamom are here, as is a dry rose. So far, so typical, but there is also patchouli harmonizing with cacao and a nice warm vanilla. Some woods anchor the base. This is great formulation and blending and it lifts this fragrance above the many similar products out there.

I have ultimately come to love this fragrance more than the many other Western designer ouds I own (I am currently really into this type of fragrance). There is a beautiful subtlety to Nouveau Monde that comes from the way the other notes interact with the oud that.

These Vuitton fragrances are well and stylishly presented and the atomizers are very good. Try to get a sample or decant and give this scent a couple of full days wear before you decide about it. At the asking price, you'll probably have planned to do so anyway.

You may come to like Nouveau Monde as much as I do, in which case, the price is abundantly fair. Recommended.
*While typing this review, I learned that one of my sisters-in-law, who thinks that (like solar and wind energy,) money is infinitely renewable, has a bottle of Pur Oud waiting for me when I get back to Dubai. (Yeah!). Look for a review of this LV fragrance in the fall after I get to wear it a few times.
Apr 21, 2021

Gucci Guilty Oud by Gucci

TLDR: Good (3/5). Better than run-of-the-mill designer ouds, but nothing too special. Thumbs up, barely, because of the quality of the oud used here.

Normally, I find myself in agreement with Brooks Otterlake's reviews. On this one, however, I have to take issue with his conclusion that Gucci Guilty Oud is "not quite as nice as the cheaper [Banana Repiblic] Oud Mosaic, which has a better and stronger version of the oud accord".

As I type, I have Oud Mosaic on one hand and this fragrance on the other. On my skin, the oud in the Gucci is stronger and smells closer to a slightly medicinal, vaguely animalic version of the real thing than the oud accord used in the Banana Republic product.

I do agree that the fragrances are similar. After multiple wearings of both scents from full bottles, I find the berry and pepper top notes of this fragrance preferable to the cardamom and plum in Oud Mosaic, but in the way I find a sprained ankle better than a sprained wrist--they are both undesirable, but one is just a bit less desirable than the other.

I could happily do without the fruit in both compositions. It feels forced and, if anything, detracts from my enjoyment of these scents. I suppose that the reality of the modern marketplace is that fruity notes and sweetness sell fragrances and add considerable pop to the behaviour of this sort of fragrance on in-store test strips. is

Mercifully, the fruit fades from both of these scents quickly to be replaced by a jammy rose that compliments the oud (even if it is a combination that has been done to death at this point). I get better longevity from Guilty Oud, up to 12 hours on my skin, than I get with Oud Mosaic. Both are moderate projectors over the first few hours.

Presentation and atomizer are both better with Oud Mosaic. These products are close enough to be duplicative. You don't need both.

So even though I would give the Gucci a slight edge in the ratings if pressed; I would buy the much cheaper Banana Republic product. Prices for Guilty Oud continue to creep upwards (as best as I can tell), and Oud Mosaic is dirt cheap. Value for money matters to most folks and by that measure only, Gucci Guilty Oud doesn't come close to the otherwise inferior Oud Mosaic.

Quick aside: Guilty Oud also is emphatically not as good as Gucci Intense Oud. Guilty Oud is not, in my opinion, interchangeable with Intense Oud. Intense Oud smells of higher quality, is better blended and has a superior oud accord. Of course, Intense Oud is also getting very, very expensive. I recently bought a heavily discounted tester of Gucci's The Voice of The Snake from the luxury Alchemist's Garden Collection for only $7 more than the same seller was asking for Intense Oud. If memory serves, the difference at retail was about $150 and the superiority of the more expensive fragrance is telling when they are compared side-by-side. But I digress.

To sum up Gucci Guilty Oud: it is good, but not appreciably better than scents costing well under half of its current asking price. As such, I give this one the most tepid imaginable thumbs up solely in recognition of the fact that considered purely on its own merits, Gucci Guilty Oud is a decent, if by no means unique, rose oud fragrance with decent longevity.
Apr 20, 2021

Noir Premier : Or Intemporel 1988 by Lalique

TLDR: OK (2.8/5). I second everything Brooks Otterlake wrote below.

Gourmand sweetness and some indistinct florals and spice notes sharing the stage with honey-sweet tobacco. Too syrupy for me--I don't like to eat and smoke at the same time.

The components all smell fine, I just don't like how they come together to form the whole of this fragrance.

I can see fans of sweet gourmands really enjoying Or Intemporel. I can also imagine people being lured by the excellent presentation (the bottles of all the scents in the Noir Premier line are beautiful and a classy reminder that Lalique is, first and foremost, one of the world's greatest glass makers).

Sample first, if possible, unless you cannot resist the combination of the packaging and the low discounter website prices. That's how I ended up with a bottle.

My wife takes sprays on cooler days, so she obviously enjoys this scent--and the bottle looks great on my shelf.

Apr 19, 2021

Aimez-Moi Comme Je Suis by Caron

TLDR: Very Good (3.75/5). Semi-sweet, nutty vetiver that leads to a plessant, if predictable woody amber.

I have waited some time to review Aimez-Moi Comme Me Suis because, candidly, my first reaction to the scent after blind buying a bottle was "Oh, is that all."

I like Caron and was somewhat excited to see which direction the house was headed under Jean Jacques now that the recent creative and ownership changes are sufficiently in the past for any turmoil to have subsided.

This scent suggests that M. Jacques has been tasked with squaring the circle, that is, creating more commercially viable products without leaving behind all that makes Caron what it has been. As such, the requisite nods to Pour Un Homme (the vanilla) and Le 3e Homme (the tonka/vetiver interplay in the base) are here. So is at least a fleeting nod to current trends in younger men's fragrances (a bit of sweetness in the grapefruit opening--yuzu would have been more on trend, but after the reception afforded Yuzu Man, one can understand the Caron choice to use the second most currently trendy citrus in the opening).

The stars of the show here are a mercifully non-sweetened hazelnut accord and a fairly scrubbed, nutty vetiver. As Varanis Rid. notes in his review, the hazelnut eschews any chocolaty or nutella notes. Thank heavens for that. With repeated use in gradually warmer weather, I have come to really enjoy the way these two notes intertwine in Aimez-Moi CJS.

There is more subtlety and grace to this fragrance than is initially obvious. It is not, in fact, a play for the business of the "frag. bros.", nor is it an insipid tonka/amber woods sweetie.

Instead of those things, what we get in this fragrance is an interplay between slight sweetness and dry nuttiness along with a sharpness that is hinted by the grapefruit opening and brought to fruition by the vetiver. It is all well blended and deftly handled.

This scent is well suited for warmer spring and fall days. It is probably neither strong enough for true cold not dry enough for high heat, but ultimalely, those are individual choices. This might well make a good office scent if we ever get back to office culture.

Longevity is considerable and projection is moderate. This is a scent that exudes likeability. I would have worn it regularly if it had been available back when I was doing face-to-face sales meetings.

Presentation is an updated, somewhat upscaled, version of the current Caron bottle with additional metal embellishment. The atomizer is very good.

Upon considered review, I find I like Aimez-Moi Comme Jes Suis rather a lot and find myself cautiously optimistic about the future of a revived House of Caron as a result. Recommended.
Apr 18, 2021

Jacomo de Jacomo Original by Jacomo

TLDR: Good (3.25/5). Smoke, cloves & dry flowers. So much of its time that it seems cutting edge and niche now.

Brooks Otterlake's review mentions clove cigarettes. Exactly! I remember when Indonesian clove cigarettes came into style at the college I was attending. Friends smoked them. This fragrance does indeed smell remarkably like a burning clove cigarette.

The middle of the progression here introduces cinnamon. There is also a geranium note, but things are so dry in this scent that the floral note is dry and brittle. The patchouli in the dry down is also nice.

This is a well blended scent. Whatever is standing in for the oakmoss here is doing a pretty convincing job, particularly in the company of the other elements of the scent.

There are moments here where this fragrance reminds me of Santos de Cartier and even YSL Jazz. At other times, this scent is very idiosyncratic and smells like nothing else. It also smells like the times in which it was introduced. This is utterly early 1980s in its complex structure. Yet were some house to introduce this today, I suspect they would get praise for producing a remarkable cutting-edge niche retro fragrance. The interesting note breakdown makes this scent unique and worth wearing even 40+ years after its introduction.

Bottle is emblematic of its era, but nice enough. The atomizer on my bottle is poor.

Reviewed from a full bottle after many wearings.

Well worth a try for lovers of old-style classic fragrances.
Apr 17, 2021

Bogart by Jacques Bogart

TLDR: Very Good (3.65/5). A classy classic fougere.

On my left back-of-hand is this fragrance. On my right is Jacomo di Jacomo. I am trying both tonight to decide which I'll wear tomorrow. I love these old school scents on cooler spring days.

Bogart is elegant. The scent elements are beautifully blended. There is a surprising similarity between Jacomo and Bogart, but whereas the Jacomo is a tightly packed blend of smells where one note is essentially indistinguishable from those around it (the clove excluded, it stands out), Bogart seems to have space between the notes, allowing each of the notes listed in the pyramid above to have a moment in the spotlight and perform to maximum effect. The overall composition is elegant. this fragrance is like a well dressed gentleman who knows that if his suit and tie are of sufficient quality and well coordinated, adding an aggressively patterned shirt is usually just too much. So many of Bogart's competitors are a bit overwhelming and as such they lack the class of this fragrance. The aforementioned Jacomo, like so many other scents of the era, is like a guy with a nice stripped suit and a well chosen patterned tie who just cannot resist adding a checked shirt to the ensemble. If perfectly executed (and Jacomo comes very close to pulling it off), this strategy can be great, but more often, it all comes off as a bit of a mess.

Perhaps it is because Bogart chose tasteful restraint in formulating this scent that it still works so well today.

I think the notes and performance of this scent are well described in other reviews here, So I will not repeat them in this post. I will just mention that at the prices at which this scent is sold, it is a great blind buy for those who appreciate a classy classic fragrance.

For those of you who didn't follow what I was talking about when discussing pulling together an elegant business outfit, or who think that Adidas make the best business attire, this fragrance most likely isn't for you.

I think I will wear Bogart Eau de Toilet Pour Homme tomorrow. I want to smell elegant.
Apr 17, 2021

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