Au Coeur du Desért by Tauer

This opens with effervescent spices & incense, topped with citrus. There's a powdery softness to it, so that it feels light & airy, not heavy or dense. It begins to sweeten a little ten minutes in, & as it evolves there's smoky labdanum, a touch of cumin, woods, & a subtle hint of something like camphor or menthol. Around ninety minutes in, it's less bright & more intimate, with leather, patchouli & ambergris in the base. From here it slowly fades, until twelve hours in it's barely there.

I don't dish out five stars easily, even to my favourites, but this one is really beautiful! I could hardly stop huffing my arm while wearing it. It's meditative & soothing, very present but not loud, & perfect for a late summer/early autumn day. It's almost ten years since I tried LDDM, but I'd say this one leans more feminine, & where LDDM was dark, this is brighter. It's like a dust devil swishing around you in a sunlit desert landscape, rather than a sandstorm blasting your senses & blotting out the light. To make something so deep & resinous feel so gentle is a very clever trick. Masterful work!
Nov 17, 2021

Sel Marin by Heeley

The opening consists of a lovely salty sea breeze with leafy & lemony overtones, & no trace of calone. Unfortunately for me this impression is fleeting, as it quickly descends into a bilge-like accord of dark, bitter greens with a note of iodine. Perhaps this is what gives some reviewers the impression of seaweed. l also distinctly smell vetiver although it's not listed. After around forty minutes the bitterness fades slightly, & later there are hints of woods & sun-warmed skin. Five hours in, it's faded to a mineralic base, just detectable after nine hours.

l'm not a fan of vetiver, so although the opening was enjoyable, that note killed this one for me. lt also leans a little too masculine for my taste, & l prefer my beachy fragrances on the sun-soaked, tropical side. Cold, northern beaches at low tide just don't do it for me.
Nov 17, 2021

Black Orchid Parfum by Tom Ford

This is one l had to try as a devotee of the original. l'd say it's more harshly woody in the opening, with more fruit & less of the creamy, coconutty floral notes, but as it dries down any differences are much more subtle. lt radiates less, but in the end l think it's so similar to the original that owning both would be redundant.
Nov 17, 2021

Alien Goddess by Thierry Mugler

Apparently this is meant to be jasmine, but l smell rubbery lily, creamy coconut & vanilla. lt's a nice beachy fragrance but not a patch on original Alien, & after two hours it's very soft. l still feel compelled to try every Alien flanker that appears, though. ;)
Nov 17, 2021

Tyger Tyger by Francesca Bianchi

This opens with a nuclear cloud of sickly-sweet fruit, aptly described in gimmegreen's review as resembling those chewy sweets that taste a bit funny. The tuberose is there, but almost drowned out by the overwhelming sweetness. This takes around ninety minutes to calm down, & along the way there's a hint of band-aid style oud, a vague impression of the burnt woods mentioned in the blurb, & then a little almondy heliotrope. It remains very sweet for the duration, with no further development, & lasts around nine hours before fading out.

From the fragrance description, l expected a lot more darkness here to counterbalance the brightness of the honey-laden fruit, & a lot more of the tuberose that l adore. On my skin at least, it comes over as way off balance, & far too fruity & sweet for my taste.
Nov 17, 2021

Sex and the Sea by Francesca Bianchi

The fruity-coconutty opening is quickly joined by soft, powdery florals, mainly mimosa, & something dark, almost leathery. lt doesn't quite read as civet to me, but l'm guessing that's what l'm getting here. From here it slowly settles into a warm, sweet, creamy tropical accord with hints of suntan oil & salty skin. There's immortelle in the heart, & later iris & sandalwood. Being an extrait, it sits quite close to the skin, but it's still softly present seven hours in.

Reading the reviews, this one seems to provoke rather extreme reactions. l'm quite enjoying it myself, but as an evocation of "an intimate encounter on the beach", l much prefer Suntanglam by SP Parfums, which is based on the same idea.
Nov 17, 2021

Mediterranean Fig by Pacifica

This starts off as a juicy, milky, leafy fig, very much like Philosykos, but with a faintly citrussy edge. lt quickly becomes warmer & woodier though, & three hours in it's faded to a pleasant but very soft sandalwood, lasting altogether around eight hours before fading.

l like this, but l'd like it more if it retained the cooling effect & the intensity of the fig that l love so much in Philosykos. l tried it from a dab vial though, so l'll try decanting it into a spray vial next time & see if that makes a difference...
Sep 13, 2021

Indian Coconut Nectar by Pacifica

This one came to me in the form of a rollerball, & when l initially tried it this way l could barely smell a thing. l dislike rollerballs anyway, so l prised off the top & decanted some into a spray vial, which resulted in a vast improvement.

There's a fruity note in the opening, almost like apples, & then a realistic but not-too-sweet coconut with vanilla. After a few minutes it's more smooth & creamy, & quite delicious. lt fades fast though, & it's all over after four hours. l don't get any of the listed vetiver, but there is a little woodiness in the drydown.

l tried this on a cool day, & l think perhaps more heat might make this one project more. l wish it lasted longer, but it's inexpensive enough for generous & frequent reapplication, & l do enjoy these kinds of tropical, beachy fragrances.
Sep 13, 2021

Waikiki Pikake by Pacifica

A friendly, very pretty, minty jasmine with very little of the indole that some find off-putting. lt warms nicely on the skin, & the sandalwood takes over around ninety minutes in. lt's quite soft, & fading fast after three hours, but it's a pleasant enough wear for a summer's day, & lasts around eight hours as a skin scent.
Sep 13, 2021

Jasmine by Demeter Fragrance Library

This is a straight-up jasmine soliflore, not unlike Montale's Jasmin Full in the opening, with a hint of hard candy & a touch of inky indole. Over the first forty-five minutes it slowly becomes softer & creamier, & from this point it fades until three hours in it's barely there. Nice, but like most Demeters it needs frequent reapplication to be enjoyed for any length of time.
Sep 13, 2021

G Clef by Sarah Baker Perfumes

The name is apparently jazz-inspired, although l'm not sure l get the connection here. What l do get is something very similar to another fragrance of hers, Greek Keys. However, where that one has a megadose of calone with enormous projection, this one is more subtle. The calone is still very much a player here, but it's more tempered with citrus & lavender in the opening, & grassy, hay-like notes in the heart & base. l smell less of the ocean, & more of the grass-covered dunes along the shoreline. Heat seems to amplify the sweetness of the coumarin note, but l don't get the listed amber. lt's still going softly seven hours in, & even post-shower l can still smell it faintly.

This is easily unisex, & l'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys a modern fougere & the scent of the ocean.
Aug 22, 2021

Symmetry by Sarah Baker Perfumes

ln the opening phase, this is very much a woody fragrance with a slightly animalic flavour, & that "band aid" type of oud. The listed wood note is cypriol, also known as nagarmotha, which apparently has aspects of oud, cedar, tar, patchouli, smoke & leather. l'm definitely getting all of these impressions, & it seems this note is overpowering everything else on my skin, because l'm not getting the listed citrus notes at all, although there is a certain freshness here for the first twenty minutes. After this, it mellows into a slightly sweet, smoky, incensey, woody heart, & the initially strong projection softens considerably. Five hours in, there's been no further change, but it's still faintly there after thirteen hours.

This one is supposed to combine a cologne-style fragrance with an evocation of "the bustling markets of the Ancient World". lt's an interesting idea, but l wouldn't call it remotely cologne-like, & my imagination tells me to expect something a lot spicier from that description. lt is, however, a nicely autumnal fragrance that leans masculine but is easily unisex.
Aug 22, 2021

Far from the Madding Crowd by Sarah Baker Perfumes

From the first spray, this brings to mind sunlit meadows & warm, fertile earth. While initially it's a little too sharp for my taste, with blackcurrant & a hint of grapefruit, there is a subtle sweetness to the fruit. And over the first hour the sharpness dies away to reveal a dry, grassy, hay-like accord, which slowly turns more earthy & herbal, & later there's a mineral note in there. At the four hour mark it's soft, but it persists for a good twelve hours as a skin scent.

This one is meant to represent a "romantic picnic in the countryside", & l certainly get the sense that l've been for a roll in the hay! Without any sexual connotation though, despite the animalic note of castoreum listed here. And there's definitely Ribena being served at this picnic.

lt's not something l'd wear often myself, but l'd recommend this to anyone who loves the smells of the great outdoors, especially the countryside in summertime.
Aug 22, 2021

Bascule by Sarah Baker Perfumes

This opens with a sour bergamot, grassy notes & a subtle hint of dirt. The texture is fuzzy, kind of like mimosa or suede. As it progresses, there's a whiff of peaches, then leather, musk & tobacco. The floral note is very faint, & thankfully l don't get any of the listed "metal tack". After the first hour it's very soft, & six hours in it's barely there.

According to the website, this is meant to be an "equestrian" fragrance, & apparently the name refers to the natural arc a horse's body makes as it takes a jump. There's very little of the barnyard that you might expect, though. lt's like a retro-style fruity, leathery chypre without the moss, & very understated. Not really my cup of tea, but l think it might appeal to chypre lovers of any gender.
Aug 22, 2021

Flame & Fortune by Sarah Baker Perfumes

Fleeting fruity notes of mandarin/apricot are swiftly followed by a kind of creosote/burnt wood effect, then creamy tuberose, pepper & a faint whiff of ginger, all within the first ten minutes. Over the first hour, this all smooths out into a prominent iris, underpinned by smoky labdanum. Six hours in it hasn't changed, & as l've found with the others from this latest collection, it stays close to the skin after the initial phase. It lasts through a shower however, & is still faintly there after twelve hours.

This one is meant to represent "pulp fiction in a fragrance", & to evoke fire, smoke & the desert. l've never been to an actual desert, so l can't comment on that, but there is a pleasant smokiness here, & for me it's the most interesting from this collection so far. Thankfully l don't get the "motor oil" note, but l would have liked more of the listed mezcal. l think this will work nicely in cooler weather.
Aug 22, 2021

Gardénia Eau de Parfum by Chanel

Juicy pear is clearly detectable in the opening, almost rhubarb-like in its tartness. Ten minutes in, this subsides to reveal a pretty, clean white floral with a lactonic aspect. It's not gardenia, but jasmine & tuberose, with a summery, beachy feel. For a while l quite enjoy it, but after a couple of hours with no further development it starts to seem a bit flat & featureless. It lasts around eight hours before fading.

l tried the EDT over ten years ago, & it left me with a similar feeling. It's a nice enough perfume, if you want to feel elegant & pleasant to others. But it's not gardenia, & there's nothing to keep me interested after that first couple of hours. The EDP's performance is far superior to the EDT, though.
May 30, 2021

White Flowers by Creed

The crisp, fresh & fruity opening, which is apparently apple & lemon but not really discernable as such, is very quickly overtaken by a huge dose of white musk. The combination overwhelmingly reminds me of air freshener, laundry detergent or some such household product. There's nothing here resembling any white flower, & for a couple of hours l'm tempted to scrub, but then suddenly the narcissus comes through clearly, & the heart is leafy, green & full of the joys of spring. This phase lasts for many hours, before fading into a base of sandalwood, & finally disappearing ten hours in.

l enjoyed the springtime vibe of the drydown, but l wouldn't want to go through that opening phase again anytime soon...
May 30, 2021

Gardénia Eau de Toilette by Chanel

l, too, am underwhelmed.. at first it's just a generic "perfume smell" on me, then there's a whiff of tuberose & jasmine, but absolutely NO gardenia. lt disappears on my skin in less than an hour. Not unpleasant but l'm so disappointed considering this is a Chanel, that l have to give it a negative rating.

Note: this review was written in 2010, & later somehow ended up on the page for the parfum, so I've moved it here.
May 27, 2021

Angels’ Share by By Kilian

A boozy, nutty oriental, this reminds me somewhat of Givenchy's Organza in the opening phase. As another reviewer mentioned though, there's a sharpness tempering the sweetness, & like that reviewer, I also find it less bold than l expected. This doesn't matter though, because the drydown is a deliciously warm, rich & comforting blend of praline, tonka & woods. The projection is great for the first couple of hours, & after that l still get nice little wafts as l move. The cinnamon is very faint on me, but the vanilla becomes more apparent in the base, & it's still going softly twelve hours in.

l'm not sure l'd pay full price for it, but this is a very enjoyable winter fragrance that reeks of quality, & l think it's perfect for the festive season.
Jan 13, 2021

Le Vestiaire des Parfums : Caftan by Yves Saint Laurent

The opening is a bright burst of citrus, pepper & frankincense, evoking all of the golden desert tones mentioned in the description. This impression is fleeting however, for within a few moments the citrus fades, & a strangely savoury, slightly yeasty & herbal accord takes over. lt reminds me of the sage found in sage & onion stuffing, & once this thought occurs to me l just can't shake it. This accord continues through the heart along with the incense, with a fuzzy texture. The projection is low, but l wouldn't call this a weak fragrance; it hovers just above the skin & is very much there when l sniff my arm. Much has been made of the vanilla/benzoin sweetness here, but for me it doesn't even begin to sweeten until around two hours in, & even then there's a smokiness that tempers the sweetness. Later l get a soapy impression, before it finally settles into a soft, powdery amber four hours in. At the seven hour mark it's almost faded out.

l'm not sure what to make of this one. There are moments, particularly in the opening & the far drydown, when l really enjoy it. But that savoury-herbal thing is almost off-putting to me, & l haven't seen it mentioned by anyone else. l'd say it's most suited to late summer/early autumn, but l'll try it again before then to see if my impressions change, & whether my skin was just having an off day.
Jan 13, 2021

Monogram Collection : Dōjima by Mona di Orio

Begins as a light, ethereal veil of sweet spices & woods, mostly nutmeg & sandalwood, along with a subtle rice accord. This is joined after a few minutes by a smooth iris, which proceeds to dominate the heart along with the sandalwood, until five hours in it fades to a base of labdanum. The projection is low to moderate, & it reminds me by turns of Santal-Basmati by Affinessence, & a more smooth-textured, less sweaty version of Tom Ford's Santal Blush.

Those looking for a rice-dominant fragrance may be disappointed by this one, as the accord doesn't last long here, but l think it would please lovers of iris & sandalwood. lt's subtle enough to be suitable for a work environment, & l can imagine it being perfect for late summer/early autumn.
Jan 13, 2021

Les Nombres d'Or : Musc by Mona di Orio

Opens as a very soft, powdery, slightly musty heliotrope, with tonka & white musk. l find this distinctly underwhelming, & l'm thinking it's one of those "non-perfumes", for folks who like skin scents that won't offend anyone. Those who love baby powder might find it comforting, & it could make a good linen spray, were it not so pricey! After ten minutes or so, the tonka intensifies, & three hours in it's much sweeter, but otherwise it doesn't change much, & seven hours in it's fading out.

Far from being musk, this is more reminiscent of loukhoum scents like Keiko Mecheri's, or like a de-fanged Sweet Oriental Dream by Montale, with much less rose.

Jan 13, 2021

Louis by The Zoo

This opens like a fresh, green, masculine sport cologne on steroids. There's a lot of galbanum & pine, & herbal notes of cardamom, sage & clove. The projection is very strong, & the whole thing comes off like some kind of bathroom-cleaning product. lt also reminds me a lot of Brut, & the smell that radiated from the boys' changing rooms at school after football, back in the day. lt takes around three hours for those sharp green edges to soften, & then it takes on a more agreeable tone of woods spiced with cumin. Six hours in it's settled closer to the skin & hasn't developed any further.

This one is way too far to the masculine side for my taste, & l'm not overly fond of green scents. But if you liked "the great smell of Brut" back in the seventies, this would be one hell of a trip down memory lane for you!
Dec 18, 2020

Manipur by Neil Morris Fragrances

The opening of this one is distinctly aldehydic, with an impression of an ambery oriental base, overlaid with something green & woody. For a moment l think it's patchouli, & then it hits me: celery! There must be some vetiver here, as it often smells like celery to me. l'm not a fan of this note, & so initially l'm put off, but fifteen minutes in there's a lovely smokiness, & after thirty minutes l begin to get whiffs of creamy tropical flowers, perhaps tiare? Four hours in, it's dried down to a gorgeously sweet, woody, tropical floral, & l'm hooked. After seventeen hours it's still going softly, with a touch of incense smoke & possibly champaca in the base.

Manipur reminds me quite strongly of House of Matriarch's Toukka Ta Tao: another fragrance with a dark/green/woody opening that dries down into tropical flowers. l found that one equally perplexing but ultimately it grew on me, & l can see myself feeling the same about this one after a couple more wearings. It's also reminiscent of Black Orchid & Suntanglam, both of which I own & love. lt's definitely my favourite so far of this latest round of sampling. Thumbs up!
Dec 18, 2020

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