rogalal

Y Le Parfum by Yves Saint Laurent

The topnotes here are fun. It's green and herbal (rbaker says minty geranium and I believe him), but also candy-sweet, and the rose facets of the geranium add a clever floral twist.

Within a few minutes, it dries down to a Cool Water-esque marine fougere, but with the salty/sour herbal geranium from the topnotes providing a counterpoint to the artificial beach smell. I've always found that Cool Water-inspired scents feel "green" to me, so the way Y Le Parfum plays around with added green is more clever than the genre usually is.

As far as mass-market masculines go, I like that Y Le Parfum doesn't fall into stereotypical bleachy nonsense, the topnotes are nice, and the interplay of the geranium with the ambrox in the Cool Water base is enough to lift this to a "thumbs up" even though I usually don't like marine fougeres. Surprisingly nice.

Nov 23, 2021


Ralph's Club by Ralph Lauren

Sharp, peppery ginger and nutmeg over the usual men's designer bleachy ammonia smell. As the spicy topnotes fade, it makes room for a pinch of coumarin, with its unpleasant petrol undertone amplified and sharpened by the bleachy ammonia.

OK, so I've said "sharp" too much, but that seems to be the point here, as Ralph's club has foregone any sense of refined masculinity in favor of just smelling jagged and piercing.

As usual with scents like this, fans of mass-market masculines will like it and snobs won't. I'm officially one of those snobs, but I'll say that Kenneth Cole Black does what this does, but better and cheaper.
Nov 22, 2021


Vanitas by Versace

I'm testing the EDT, so thank you to thekelleybelle for explaining that it's different. I would have thought I was insane if I'd expected this to smell like lime and freesia.

Instead, Vanitas EDT is a cheap peachy rose. After a brief aldehydic sparkle, it quickly settles into salty strawberry shampoo.

If asked to imagine a cheap, derivative, stereotypical, intentionally unremarkable perfume, the kind that's almost petty in how deeply crass and tasteless it thinks consumers are, I would think it would smell pretty much exactly like this.
Jul 20, 2021


Daddy Yankee by Daddy Yankee

A metallic lavender fougere along the lines of Polo Green, but with ginger on top for added sharpness, and a fruity element that's too artificial to be described in terms of actual fruit. There are aquatic notes in there as well, so this also has a Cool Water vibe.

This seems to be aiming at the lowest-common-denominator "bleachy grape drink" aquatic crowd, but with a nod to the Polo fans as well. It's not a full-on nostril-melting Axe nightmare, but clearly wants to be liked by people looking for that. I've smelled worse, but this still isn't great. I just can't handle the bleach note. Not for me...
Jul 10, 2021


L'Eau by Diptyque

Clove and orange with a pinch of cinnamon on top. It's a touch powdery and definitely smells like potpourri, which I usually don't like, but L'Eau somehow avoids smelling like a cheap Christmas candle (I think it's the orange that elevates it). The light dusting of powder makes it smell "classic", which also helps. Smelled very closely, I can also pick up the geranium giving a quiet green leafy hum (and a clever touch of licorice) in the background.

I appreciate when a perfume can make me reconsider a genre I generally don't like - I usually hate cinnamon/clove Spicebombs, but L'Eau has enough class and panache that I like it, so it scores major points for that.

Thanks up!



Jul 2, 2021


Acqua di Giò pour Homme by Giorgio Armani

I'm always surprised that AdG is so popular, given that it's so subtle. Quiet melon mixed with the smell of a beach, salty and subtly herbal.

There was a point around 2008 where it was considered a sign of perfume snob credibility to hate melon perfumes, because they were so common (and because Abercrombie piped Fierce into every mall, so melon perfumes were literally forced upon us against our will). Even so, I've always liked AdG. Somehow, its melon is understated and, dare I say, classy. And the salty sea air smell is pleasant.

Sure, the melon smells dated these days, but the real focus is on the beachfront atmosphere, so it doesn't matter. Thumbs up!
Jul 1, 2021


Acqua di Giò Profondo by Giorgio Armani

A few minutes of fake orange and fake pine over a stereotypical bleachy aquatic. I don't know the Armani line that well, but with all their flankers and such, I can't imagine that they don't already have 10-12 scents that already smell like this, because it's such a basic recipe.

Precision engineered for dudes who want to smell like over-applied cheap cologne, but simultaneously don't want to stand out at ALL...
Jul 1, 2021


Jimmy Choo Fever by Jimmy Choo

Black cherry soda and a touch of Coca-Cola over rather pedestrian pink pepper. There's a tiny pinch of mint on top and I suspect that some space-age ionone violets are actually doing most of the work here. The whole vibe reminds me of Guerlain's Robe Noir series (probably because of the cherry), but Fever is simultaneously more crowd-pleasingly candy-like, but also feels more carefully crafted.

It settles into a smell after a while that I can best describe as cherry cola over a violet fruitchouli base. As far as mass-market fruitchoulis, the cola/cherry/violet combination is fun and a surprisingly clever, deft mix for something so clearly aimed at perfume newbies. It's no work of baroque parfum artistry, but for what it is, Fever is quite well done. Thumbs up.

Jun 29, 2021


Jimmy Choo Man by Jimmy Choo

Whoa - this is like walking into the men's cologne department of a big Macy's any time since 2003, like the smell of every stereotypical mass-market masculine cliche ingredient all mixed together.

That fake pineapple from Polo Blue and sweet, artificial pine dominate the topnotes, but that metallic artificial lavender buzz that seems to define cheap men's scents of this century is the real star.

Once the pine/pineapple burns off, I'm left with a silvery violet leaf fougere. It reminds me of Polo Green, but modernized with salty sea air and creamy ambox, so I guess it's kind of like Polo Green and Cool Water had a baby.

In a way, I'm unimpressed that this so clearly feels like someone tried to make a hit perfume by combining the famous elements of other hit perfumes. But this fruity/woody aquatic fougere genre often degrades to bleachy "woody amber" nightmares, so I'm impressed that Jimmy Choo Man avoids these pitfalls and focuses instead on the better aspects of a troubled genre.

All things considered, I have to give this a neutral vote, because despite it being passable, everything it does has been done better elsewhere.
Jun 29, 2021


Les Nuits d'Hadrien by Annick Goutal

On me, this smells like a standard citrus Eau, but with extra herbs and greens. I don't smell 80% of the listed notes - mostly just citrus and basil.

I always enjoy a nice old-fashioned Eau like this, so I'm voting thumbs up, but I can't help but feel that this is a little bit unremarkable.

EDIT: A few wears later, I feel bad for calling this "unremarkable". I guess it is, in that there are a lot of colognes that follow a similar recipe, but I have to add that, as I've worn this, I've repeatedly caught little whiffs of it and thought "what's that fantastic smell??" before realizing it was Les Nuits d'Hadrien wafting up in the warm summer. So I'm changing my rating from a regular "thumbs-up" to a much more enthusiastic "thumbs up"!
Jun 11, 2021


Oud Galoré by Chris Collins

A wonderful oud. Chris Collins (via under-rated perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer) has put together a signature spiced pencil-shavings cedar mix as a house note to tie many of his scents together, and Oud Galore is, in my opinion, the best use of it.

The oud here is complex. While it's not especially rubbery or medicinal or fecal, it hints at all these elements just enough to feel more authentic than your average westernized oud perfume. That signature spiced cedar provides a perfect "red" sweetness which acts as a counterpoint, while what smells to me like Cashmeran (thanks to the Molecule 05 I just sampled) fills in the cracks and gives a redwood forest vibe as the scent matures.

Thumbs way up!
Jun 10, 2021


Exit the King by Etat Libre d'Orange

Imagine any stereotypical modern mass-market masculine scent - the topnotes that inevitably smell like artificial grape drink, the jumbled mess of flowers and herbs in the heart, and the base that claims to be a modern chypre or complex mix of woods, but somehow always smells like chlorine.

Now, imagine taking the time and skill to actually craft the quality perfume that these monstrosities pretend to be, where the flowers and herbs are noticeable and smell good, and the base is actually what's advertised. That's what Exit The King smells like to me.

As a perfume nerd, I quite love this as an idea. This is what every unremarkable Hugo Boss and Kenneth Cole discounter masculine claims to be but isn't, like an Axe body spray carefully recreated with care and precision.

But then, stepping back from the grand and playful idea, I'm just walking around smelling like every men's "bleu" cologne and I'm the only one who's in on the joke. It's like hiring a haute chef to recreate a McDonalds chicken McNugget. He'd probably use real chicken instead of McDonalds' infamous pink slime, and use better breading and more complex spices, but you'd still end up with a chicken nugget.

So I'm torn. I think this is really witty and clever - if I were a perfumer, I'm sure I'd try to make something like this, just for fun and as a thought experiment. But I wouldn't want to buy this or wear it regularly, so I just can't bring myself to rate this higher than a neutral.
Jun 9, 2021


Molecule 05 by Escentric Molecules

Interesting... So this is Cashmeran.

It's certainly familiar - I feel like I've smelled this hundreds of times, but at the same time, it's not a specific, singular smell. Instead, it's like a bunch of elements that I've attributed to other things.

There's a smokiness (and later on, a light fecundity) that I would assume came from oud, a forest floor smell I would have assumed was cedar, and a green sharpness that I would have assumed came from some sort of resin or incense. It has the dark but sweet feeling of pine, but doesn't smell like pine. And it has a zing that I'd attribute to pepper or vetiver, but without smelling like pepper or vetiver.

This reminds me of Hedione (another aromachemical), in that Hedione smells like the juiciness of citrus without the citrus. This smells like the woodiness of wood without smelling like an actual wood.

On a personal note, I really like how this smells. I now see that a lot of my favorite perfumes are Cashmeran bombs, and that my favorite ouds, specifically, are my favorites because of what Cashmeran does to oud. It's remarkably wearable on its own, satisfyingly complex and not artificial-smelling despite being just a single chemical. My only complaint is that this is clearly a top and heart note, and not a base, because it just sort of fades after a few hours, but the few hours are quite satisfying. Thumbs up!
Jun 8, 2021


Eau de Gingembre by Mizensir

I'm a little torn by Eau de Gingembre. Despite all the listed notes, all I really smell is candied lollipop lemon mixed with ginger. It's an effective combination, and a novel take on the traditional citrus Eau formula (basically replacing the herbs and flowers with ginger). That being said, it feels really simple.

I'm a big fan of upfront ginger in perfumes, which is quite rare, so I'm happy with this, but it feels lacking, to be honest. I've smelled ginger extract and it's kind of awful, so I appreciate that it probably took a lot of complicated chemistry to make this smell so simple, but the resulting smell is still so unadorned that this is officially doing the exact minimum possible amount of work required to be acceptable by me, and I can't write a review without bringing that up. Thumbs up, but hesitantly...
Jun 8, 2021


Sierra Vista 2142 by Krigler

A retro-smelling minty fougere that lands somewhere between the faux-grape mass market appeal of Polo Green and the silvery pine of Duc De Vervins, but with a luxury richness that reminds me of something Bond No 9 would have done back in their "designer-but-better" 00's phase.

This smells great and is very well put together, so it deserves a hearty thumbs-up, but it's impossible not to mention that the $425 this costs could buy a fantastic 15-bottle collection of the various discounted classics that this mimics. But if money's no object, this is a great choice.
Jun 8, 2021


L'Oudh by Tauer

A rather haunting oud.

I agree with notspendingamillion - the oud itself here definitely smells like the sweet, raw rubber odor of a tire store. But just as important is a surrounding mix of forest smells. Sweet pine is upfront, with green resins and flashes of hamster cage cedar. It all feels like the natural smell of a forest floor.

I think it's the sweetness that separates this from other western oud perfumes. So many seem to focus on a flash of faux oud and then settle into saffron and charred woods, while L'Oudh goes sweet and natural instead, with the smoke and saffron conspicuously missing.

As such, this is a standout in a crowded field. Definitely a thumbs up!
Jun 4, 2021


Volutes Eau de Toilette by Diptyque

A modern "oriental" perfume clearly based on Hermes Ambre Narguile, with its signature mix of pipe tobacco, honey, pie spices, and fruit with ash running through the whole thing. It dries down to a nice, spiced vanilla.

Not badly done, and there was a point 13 years ago where this was my absolute favorite style of niche perfume, but I've smelled a LOT of these since then and almost no one seems to have made a significant improvement to Jean Claude Elena's original recipe, with its vanilla pudding amber drydown.

The EDT sticks fairly closely to the to the Hermes formula, though is possibly a bit lighter on the pie spices, which leads to the less lavish base.

But the good news is that the EDP improves things considerably by adding a smoky, peaty whisky note, which amplifies the ash in a good way, while the booziness plays with the fruit and spices to give a deep raisin character. This is the rare exception that seems to have found a way to bring new life and excitement to what's becoming a tired cliche. Nice work!

Thumbs way up for the EDP, but the EDT gets a neutral.
May 26, 2021


Volutes Eau de Parfum by Diptyque

A modern "oriental" perfume clearly based on Hermes Ambre Narguile, with its signature mix of pipe tobacco, honey, pie spices, and fruit with ash running through the whole thing. It dries down to a nice, spiced vanilla.

Not badly done, and there was a point 13 years ago where this was my absolute favorite style of niche perfume, but I've smelled a LOT of these since then and almost no one seems to have made a significant improvement to Jean Claude Elena's original recipe, with its vanilla pudding amber drydown.

The EDT sticks fairly closely to the to the Hermes formula, though is possibly a bit lighter on the pie spices, which leads to the less lavish base.

But the good news is that the EDP improves things considerably by adding a smoky, peaty whisky note, which amplifies the ash in a good way, while the booziness plays with the fruit and spices to give a deep raisin character. This is the rare exception that seems to have found a way to bring new life and excitement to what's becoming a tired cliche. Nice work!

Thumbs way up for the EDP, but the EDT gets a neutral.
May 26, 2021


Essences Insensées by Diptyque

An awkward mix of cheap, marshmallowy vanilla with tea and pollen-laden florals. I've spent quite some time trying to pick this apart (oh, that's pink pepper!), but it's time for me to give up and just say that I don't like it.

To be fair, hours in, this somehow ends up as a fairly nice, if oversweetened, mimosa scent.

But even so, I feel like there's a clever idea in here, but it's getting lost in the shuffle. I appreciate the way the pepper makes the flowers smell gritty instead of just pretty, and the mimosa is pretty, but once you add in the marshmallow, it's just too much.
May 26, 2021


L'Eau de Tarocco by Diptyque

The classic citrus Eau has been perfected for centuries now, but current limits on the amount of bergamot and other essential ingredients has necessitated modernization of the concept. Using artificial molecules instead of natural citruses presents its own challenges, mostly that the molecules themselves smell realistic and amazing for a few minutes, but end up smelling like eggs or plastic or worse. Many modern citruses just go all-in on the synthetics, either embracing the saccharine synthetic sweetness (Clinique's Happy for Men comes to mind as one of the most successful) or using aquatic synthetics to drown out the problematic notes (pretty much any citrus Creed).

L'Eau de Tarocco gets points for not smelling like any other modern citrus I've tried. It smells like it's notes list: orange, rose, and saffron. Citrus is often used to enhance rose perfumes, so flipping the script and using rose to extend a citrus eau is clever. The saffron is genius - we all know that rose and saffron are a popular combination, but the saffron really does wonders for the synthetic orange, turning its plasticky drydown from a liability to a strength - saffron makes the faux orange simultaneously leathery and spicy, and miraculously extends the illusion of freshly-squeezed orange juice long after the topnotes fade.

There's not a full, noticeable base, but that's OK with an Eau. I'm also struck, later in the day, that this orange/rose/saffron combination somehow ends up creating the illusion of sugary, lightly burnt grapefruit, which sounds weird, but very much works. I'm impressed by L'Eau de Tarocco's inginuity - thumbs up!
May 25, 2021


L'Eau des Hespérides by Diptyque

Yuck. Spearmint Listerine mouthwash and lemon-flavored lollipops bringing out the worst in each other. And how does it smell oily and fatty?
May 25, 2021


Infusion de Rose by Prada

Beautiful, realistic dewy rose, with a pinch of green and that fruitiness you get from a nice rose oil.

I've tried MANY rose perfumes which I feel are ruined by too much fruit and sweetness, and many more that smell like strawberry/honey shampoo instead of actual rose. Thankfully, Infusion doesn't fall into those traps - it smells like the exaggerated smell of an actual rose garden. If anyone doesn't like this, it'll probably be because of the association with cheap rosewater, which turns some perfumistas off of realistic rose perfumes.

My only quibble is that I found it a bit of a drone - I was expecting some sort of interesting base, but it just stays as realistic rose all day on me. But that's not much of complaint when something smells this good, so it's still very much a thumbs up for rose lovers.
May 24, 2021


L'Eau de Néroli by Diptyque

A fairly basic copy of the Mugler Cologne/Creed Original Vetiver mix of neroli and vetiver. It's peppery and green and fresh, but also soapy.

Viewed within the pantheon of Mugler/Creed copycats, L'Eau de Néroli is soapy enough that it's closer to Mugler than Creed, smelling similar to Bond No 9's Eau De NY, which shares a soapy drydown that reminds me of Irish Spring soap. But I'd personally go with Bond, because Eau de NY is stronger and richer than this Diptyque.

Thumbs up, because this is a formula I enjoy, but with no points for originality whatsoever, and mild annoyance that it's not even the best of the clones.
May 24, 2021


Infusion de Mimosa by Prada

This kicks off with mostly heliotrope, with its flowery almond marzipan smell, and gently fades into mimosa. It's a good combination - the mimosa brings out the honeyed floral nuances of the heliotrope, while the heliotrope adds a sugar cookie sweetness to the mimosa flowers.

Because this is a Prada infusion, I expected an iris base, but it's fabric softener musk instead, which works (it makes this feel more modern than it would without it) but isn't very inspiring.

I like mimosa perfumes and they're usually fairly simple soliflores. I appreciate that Prada is trying to add a little complexity (though not too much) to a genre that's usually pretty literal, but still feel like simpler could have been better. A side note that kind of proves my point: Prada's Almond Infusion is more successful than this, because it's similar, but just a little more simple, which really lets the ingredients sing.
May 22, 2021

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