M/Mink by Byredo

M/Mink smells like the "good twin" to a lot of awful masculine fragrances with notes like honey, iodine and ozone turning into urinal and men's locker room: male body fluids with added cleaning fluids. M/Mink features a honey note that's almost, but not quite sickening: more murky wood than urine. I tend to categorically dislike fragrances with honey in them, but this I find wearable and interesting. There's also a touch of salt which reminds me more of sea breezes than body fluids, though there's an intriguing hint of naughtiness about it.
M/Mink smells old, murky and musty like the perfume clinging to a vintage fur, but it also smells very outdoorsy, wild and free: woody and animalic. I'm surprised that previous reviewers call it chemical and artificial because to my nose it's very natural-smelling, organic, feral, warm. It does have the intense "pow!" of synthetic smell molecules though. It's a "brown" scent for sure, thick and dense and reminiscent of burnished woods or the glint of light in guard hairs. Actually, it reminds me a lot of Neil Bartlett's wonderful novel "Skin Lane".
I'm also a bit surprised that previous reviewers categorise it as masculine. I completely disregard gender designations on scent, but to my nose M/Mink is traditionally feminine, like an old-world perfume. I guess it's the combination of sweetness, warmth and dirtiness that does it - masculine fragrances tend so often to have something nauseatingly fresh, cool, clean, antiseptic about them, like deodorants, even when they feature notes like woods and musk. M/Mink is the antithesis to that. Perhaps it tends to disagree with male skin chemistry?
Mar 12, 2013

L'Eau Serge Lutens by Serge Lutens

If you like really clean and fresh colognes, this is better (less bad) than most. The soapy quality of it is not too unpleasant, not going too far into the "shower-fresh" territory of too many modern masculine fragrances. It's sort of an "updated" fougere type - it has that licorice-like fern note and vague hints of lavender (or perhaps it's the sage) and citrus.
Aug 13, 2012

Jeux de Peau by Serge Lutens

This is awful, truly awful. Like the über strong, sickeningly fake gingerbread accord in some Holiday scented candle. Others say buttered popcorn and it might be that too - only, I'd add, definitely caramel-flavoured ones. After reading the list of notes I definitely feel the bread (very plasticky cheap "freshly baked bread" accord), licorice and immortelle, and it's not a good combo.
Aug 11, 2012

Phul-Nana by Grossmith

If the re-release is anything like the original, I understand why Angela Carter characterised it with a "Phew!" in Wise Children. Phul-Nana opens with an intense blast of candy-sweet, powdery lemon, rose and geranium. Upon application it's pretty much like an intense version of Habit Rouge - that same brand of citrusy/aldehydic powdered sugar oddly reminiscent of bulk candy (for Swedes, specifically "Ahlgrens bilar"). As it warms up on skin, the powder turns more soapy, which is actually an improvement. Without all the sweet powder the lemon note appears more juicy and refreshing, enhanced by something chypre-green and vaguely floral. The sweetness becomes richer, smoother, boozier, in a way that reminds me of some thick, spicy-sweet oriental oil from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. In fact, the whole fragrance is quite "headshoppy" - think of the difference between a dense, syrupy floral incense and the more sharp, clean and airy versions of the same flowers present in conventional perfumery. I'd classify it as a floral oriental, with a character similar to that of Parfum d'Empire's 3 fleurs or Tauer's Le Maroc pour elle - more like perfume oils than most alcohol-based perfumes. Phul-Nana walks a fine line between luxurious and vulgar (a bit like Mona di Orio) - at that price, I don't think I'll ever buy it though I quite enjoy it, but then it's such a sillage monster my sample will probably last me a long time.
Aug 4, 2012

Autoportrait by Olfactive Studio

Autoportrait is intensely woody, the kind of dry woods scent some refer to as "pencil shavings." I love woods, but I agree with alfarom that this is very similar to previous wood scents such as Gucci pour homme and Let me play the lion, hence the neutral rating.
Aug 3, 2012

Mistero by Calé

I got this mostly for the rhubarb note, which I only detect for a second straight upon application. From the list of notes, this sounds like a pretty common fruity fresh modern masculine fragrance (rum and rhubarb, haven't we been there before?). However, it turns out intriguingly smoky and savory, a bit like a really smoky vetiver with the added warmth and sweetness of tonka bean adding an almost barbeque air. None of these notes are present according to the list though. I suppose the smoky-savory effect might be a result of the spices, woods and musk but I can't pick out individual notes except for a hint of mint that's slightly less fleeting than the millisecond appearance of rhubarb.
Aug 3, 2012

Nuit Etoilée by Annick Goutal

Very evocative, though not of a starry night. I get fir, fir, fir, lemon and some mint, so to me it's evocative of a coniferous forest at any time of day.
Aug 1, 2012

Gershwin by Maria Candida Gentile

Gershwin smells more like room fragrances or natural perfume oils than most commercial alcohol-based perfumes - dense, green and citrusy.
Aug 1, 2012

Azemour les Orangers by Parfum d'Empire

I'm really not a fan of neroli or orange blossom, but I was pleasantly surprised by this. It's juicy, zesty, fresh and bright like citrus fruits, not sickly-sweet and powdery like citrus flowers. There's a certain soapiness to it - pleasant, like well-made, old-fashioned colognes. Underneath the citrus there are intriguing undertones: something dusty-dry (last time I encountered something similar was in Etat Libre d'Orange's Vierges et Toreros) and a hint of animalic cumin. All in all, it's quite a lot like a lighter, fresher, more citrusy and less intensely animalic/spicy version of Eau d'Hermes.
Aug 1, 2012

Un Bateau pour Capri by Eau d'Italie

I'm a fan of the Eau d'Italie line, but this particular offering is a very nondescript fresh floral.
Jul 30, 2012

Creature by Kerosene

Creature is so minty it literally burns my skin - not a very pleasant experience! I can't pick out any of the green notes apart from the mint and the scent doesn't come off as "green" to me. It doesn't remind me of a living creature but rather of an artificial creature, as it has absolutely no warmth or sweetness or body to meld with the skin scent - it just lies there like a slick, clean, synthetic, slightly nauseating, minty-cool aura.
Jul 30, 2012

La Pluie by Miller Harris

I don't get the connection to rain, as there's nothing cool or watery about this fragrance. Instead, it's warm and dry and powdery. The only form of water it might remind me of is steam - as in a steamy sauna. There's also a certain creaminess to it, and buried somewhere beneath the cream and powder a vegetal bite vaguely reminiscent of cucumber. Apart from that, I can't pick out a single note.
Jul 30, 2012

La Fumée Classic / La Fumée by Miller Harris

Not the acrid campfire, incense or tobacco of most other smoky scents - instead it's hot, dry woods, so steaming hot they're just about to catch fire. There's an almost citrusy zest to the fragrance too - no idea which note that might be. It's almost sour-sweet, in a way that reminds me a bit of immortelle - not a favourite note of mine. It only shows up in the bend of my arm - on my wrist the fragrance stays lovely: smoky and dry - but it's enough to semi-ruin the scent for me and make me give it a neutral rating.
Jul 30, 2012

Mediterraneo by Carthusia

I may have found the perfect refreshing citrus cologne. Mediterraneo stays true and fresh without turning on the skin or instantly fading - I guess thanks to the green tea note which reinforces the citrusy freshness and increases its longevity. I really enjoy fresh green tea scents but haven't found one good enough to buy, so that too makes Mediterraneo very welcome in my perfume collection. If you're a citrus (esp lemon and lime, not so much orange or grapefruit) fan or if you like green tea scents but find that too many of them lose their zest and spark and turn a bit "sanitary product", you should try Mediterraneo!
Mar 15, 2012

Comme des Garçons Eau de Parfum / "A New Perfume" by Comme des Garçons

I have to say I don't get much of the "weird" notes out of this. The opening is like a mixture of the true-to-life lily of the valley from CdG's Lily and some vaguely cool, synthetic, CdG-ish accord. As it mellows it turns into a warm, creamy, and, yes, subtly, cleanly leathery lilac scent not far from Rue des Lilas or En Passant. Very wearable, pleasant and pretty - even a little too pretty for my taste.
Mar 15, 2012

De Bachmakov by The Different Company

Funny, there's no tea note listed and yet to me De Bachmakov is a straightforward bright clean crisp green tea scent. I guess that's an illusion created by the combination of zesty bergamot and dew-cool freesia. It's delightful but frankly a little boring - I had expected more complexity from the notes.
Mar 15, 2012

Les Nombres d'Or : Cuir by Mona di Orio

If this wasn't a leather scent I'd say it was the best smoky scent there is. Heck, I'll say it anyway. It's right up there with Chaman's Party and beats all the smoky fragrances from Demeter, CB, DSH, AvaLuxe etc. Novelty smoke scents tend to emphasise warm cuddly sweetness or sometimes a slightly nauseating sharp-and-sweet combination, and even the campfire smoke of Chaman's Party is slightly "oily" and woody, but Cuir is dryly smoky, more like cigarette smoke - in fact a bit like the cigarette note in Jasmin et Cigarette. I'll have to add that I enjoy the smell of fresh cigarette smoke so if you don't you probably won't like Cuir.
With time Cuir turns less smoky and more leathery - I don't mean that different notes are emphasised, it's still basically the same fragrance, but as the acrid smoke is mellowed it gets easier to think of it as leather. The smoke is still there, but smells more smoked or cured (not infused with artificial smoke aroma!) than like inhaling fresh smoke. Considered as a leather scent, Cuir is neither raw and animalic like flayed hides nor soft and refined like suede, but dry and spicy in a way that reminds me of Etro Gomma, Knize Ten and L'Artisan L'eau du navigateur. I still enjoy this part of the fragrance, but not half as much as that initial blast of smoke.
Mar 14, 2012

Les Nombres d'Or : Tubéreuse by Mona di Orio

The tuberose note in Tubereuse is surprisingly toned down, barely perceptible as part of a citrusy-powdery white floral. Granted, I've never smelt actual tuberose but this fragrance doesn't feature any of the two faces of tuberose common in perfumery - neither the lushly indolic nor the weirdly, chemically candy-sweet. Perhaps it's more the Fracas "type" - I have only a vague recollection of the scent but I think it's powdery like Tubereuse, though with a much more pronounced tuberose note.
As Tubereuse warms up and melllows on skin the florals melt into a general creaminess. Hiddena at the heart of the composition is a spicy tang I can't quite identify as Mona di Orio's signature civet but which nevertheless radiates an animalwarmth - perhaps cumin? As it's not clearly discernible it never gets obscene. I find this intriguingly elusive animalic note to be the best thing about the fragrance, but unfortunately it soon disappears completely as the composition turns from creamy to sugary. It ends up candy-sweet, not in the fashion typical for tuberose (think Tubereuse Criminelle, Narciso Rodriquez or Histoire des parfums) but in a powdery way that reminds me quite a bit of Habit Rouge.
Mar 14, 2012

Les Nombres d'Or : Vanille by Mona di Orio

I've given up on finding a vanilla perfume that captures the lovely "sparkly" quality of actual vanilla sugar - I think there's something about using vanilla in perfumery and putting it on skin that simply will make it sweet in a more mellow, liquid, even a little flat or stale, fashion more like custard. Vanille does the next best thing: emphasises the animalic and leathery aspects of (bourbon) vanilla beans. It's sweet but not too sweet, in a creamy-powdery-boozy-musky way. It has the necessary darkness and depth to it to make it a wearable gourmand. As I think is true for all vanilla fragrances it's alas not a pure, true, real vanilla but more of a processed vanilla: vanilla used in a dessert together with other ingredients taking the edge off it. This is no kiddie stuff though, no fake vanilla ice cream or candy - it's a refined dessert using only the best ingredients and of course real vanilla beans. In short, an "adult" vanilla: warm and cuddly and a little naughty.
Mar 14, 2012

Les Nombres d'Or : Vetyver by Mona di Orio

Vetyver is intensely green, emphasising the bright/juicy/citrusy aspect of vetiver rather than its smoky/earthy/rooty aspect. There is a dry quality to it too, to balance the tartness, and a darkness to balance the brightness, but it's not at all as dry, cool and astringent as say Guerlain's Vetiver. Some vetivers are melancholy, or stern, or at least very reserved, but this one's cheerful and dynamic, though by no means infantile or shallow.
Much as I enjoy iVetyver I'll have to admit it resembles a dozen other vetiver soliflores. Add some iodine and you get Sel de Vetiver and Encre Noir is not far off either. What makes Vetyver stand out - apart from simply being very well done - is the warm nutmeg note I can just barely detect after seeing it in the list of notes. I really love nutmeg in cooking but I haven't found a nutmeg fragrance that works for me yet so that might make Vetyver a worthy addition to my vetiver collection. If you're looking for just one vetiver fragrance to buy this might very well be it.
Mar 14, 2012

Au Lac by Eau d'Italie

Au Lac is a light, fresh, dew-cool, spring-green floral, quite lovely, with just a touch of distinguished powderiness. I feel I "should" agree with previous reviewers that it's unoriginal and not niche enough, but I can't - to me it makes a genre that so often turns harshly synthetic and inhumanly cold, like nothing you should put on skin, wearable, and for that alone it deserves a place in my collection. I think part of the reason I like it so much is that it features a fig leaf note that's simply fresh and green, without the sweetly stale, nauseating milk note that ruins most fig scents for me. Unlike previous reviewers I also do get a subtle marine accord out of it - yes, indeed something like the soft saltiness of Heeley Sel Marin. I really appreciate the softness of this scent, the fact that it succeeds in creating a cool, aquatic atmosphere without harsh ozone or rotting melon and cucumber. In that sense it reminds me a bit of Diptyque Ofreesia, but while Ofreesia has the cool humidity of moist earth and spring rains, Au Lac has the cool humidity of a sea breeze on a summer morning.
Mar 13, 2012

Jardin du Poete by Eau d'Italie

Jardin du Poete opens with a lovely green accord of tomato vine and herbs, but then, as previous reviewers have pointed out, it veers into an unpleasantly synthetic-aquatic territory that makes me think of herbal schampoo rather than any actual greenery. Luckily, on my skin the aquatics are soon subdued by the warm, pungent greenness familiar from other Duchaufour creations, which I really enjoy. The aquatics keep lurking in the background though, veering between a pleasantly salty tang and that too-familiar and too-artificial melon-grapefruit-ozone-ish mischmasch. I can't make up my mind about this fragrance and it appears it can't make up its mind about itself, so I'll give it a neutral rating though I'm tempted to give it a thumbs-up for its no-nonsense herbal greenness.
Mar 13, 2012

Hyle by Farmacia SS. Annunziata

To me, Hyle is the ultimate marine fragrance. Thankfully I get no rancid melon or synthetic aquatic notes, just a big blast of natural-smelling salt. And unlike other reviewers I can't get enough of iodine in my fragrances - I already have and love the super-salty Fleurs de Sel and Sel du Vetiver, but they have other notes in them that make them less marine so I definitely see a need for a purely marine salt fragrance as well. Heeley Sel Marine is the best straight marine scent I've smelt previously, but that one's just softly salty - Hyle is like the stormy open sea to Sel Marin's calm brackish bay. I get no sweetness out of it - it's as invigorating and refreshing as the herbal-citrusy cologne one might expect it to be from the notes, though I don't discern any of those notes. It does however have a certain mellow warmth to it which makes me begin to understand what some reviwers smell apart from iodine, but that's all the better as truly cold aquatic fragrances don't work for me.
Mar 13, 2012

Aube Pashmina by Pierre Guillaume

Pashmina made me expect something powdery-soft and cuddly-warm, but I guess it refers to the geographical location, not the fabric. Anyway, I was unprepared for the bracing greenness of herbs and evergreens. The bright herb garden soon morphs into a dusty-grey, pungent-green concoction reminiscent of Nasomatto Absinth and China White - I still feel the juicy tartness of cut stems and crushed leaves but there's a darker side to it too. Interesting and quite original, and since I'm a sucker for green scents that don't turn on my skin I thoroughly enjoy it.
Mar 13, 2012

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