Oviatt

Wood Flake by J-Scent

Wood Flake is less about woods--although they are there--and more about a powdery musk with a slight note of vanilla. Despite the sandalwood and vetiver which are bastions of male perfumery, this leans to the feminine side for me--perhaps because the rose note. Soft, cuddly, not remotely Japanese in its sensibility, this is a well made, quality scent. Perfect for someone.
Aug 17, 2020


Armani Eau pour Homme by Giorgio Armani

Armani Eau Pour Homme (1984) is a late arrival—but absolute peer—to an elite group of citrus Chypres starting with Chanel’s 1955 Pour Monsieur and including Monsieur Givenchy, YSL Pour Homme, Capucci Pour Homme, among others. Le Galion’s Whip (1953) should be included in this august company as well. Armani Pour Homme is a soapy, fresh scent that is clean and elegant; it is fresh and light yet the Sandalwood and Oak Moss in its base give it some real heft. I first smelled it in 1985 when I bought a bottle of Ralph Lauren’s Monogram which had just come out. The sales woman at Bullock’s put a mini of the Armani in the bag. When I got home I discovered it, gave it a try and instantly wished I had bought it instead of Monogram. Just as the Ralph Lauren scent completely synced with that brand’s image, Armani Eau Pour Homme perfectly represents the pared down luxury that Armani is known for. As a complete aside, I remember an article in the London Times in the early 1990s in which Norman Lamont, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, claimed that he was addicted to Armani Eau Pour Homme. He has good taste!
Jul 26, 2020


One Man Show by Jacques Bogart

This is a darker take on Quorum. I get a green tobacco leaf vibe--possibly the basil in the top notes--and from there it just goes on being a leathery, woody, spicy animalic scent, right at home among the Polos and Aramises of the day. This strikes me a sober, suited, day-in-court/board meeting sort of scent for times when you want to be manly and in control. I perceive no floral notes although it could be that--like the gardenia in Z-14--they are so well blended that you do not perceive them separately and they are just there to support the other, drier notes. One Man Show is very strong, like most of this house's offerings and certainly falls into the powerhouse category. It also reminds me a bit of Ferre for Man but without the sunny, Italian warmth which makes that scent so special. This man may be running the show but do not expect too much fun at the company Christmas party and there will be no gossiping tolerated at the water cooler.
Jul 8, 2020


The Swan Princess by The Vagabond Prince

The Swan Princess is a dense, sweet floral scent. The opening notes of violet leaf immediately brings to mind the crisp depth of vintage Grey Flannel. From there the dense florals push through with the iris providing a slight make-up note. The last arrival is the pencil shavings of cedarwood underscored by a soft musk. Smelling this now, it really seems like this should have been called Grey Flannel Pour Elle and small wonder, they share six notes--violet, rose, geranium, moss, cedar and musk. All in all a nicely made, high quality scent with a little gender-bending going on; she may be a princess but she is wearing a gray flannel suit.
Jul 5, 2020


Gentle Fluidity (Silver Edition) by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Several months ago I was killing time in Neiman Marcus and had a sniff around the MFK counter. I have sampled many of his scents over the years and just never found anything that clicked. This last time, there were two new entries, the Gentle Fluidity twins. I tried them both and was drawn to Gentle Fluidity (Silver Edition)--not enough to buy but enough that the SA sent me home with a sample which I promptly put in a drawer and forgot about. Well, I found it and am giving it a wearing.

I love the line up of notes--the spices, the woods, the absence of floral notes all bode well for me. What I had forgotten about the first time that I tested it is the harshness of the opening and a weird turpentine meets canned fish note that announces this scent. Possibly the coriander, this is very off-putting, unless the metallic tang to opening a can of sardines is your thing..... Nutmeg steps in soon enough and the whole scent finishes with a musky vanilla note underscoring the harsh metallic top notes. The metallic note reminds me in some ways of the similar note in Halston Man and Safari for Men which I liken to the taste of licking the steel blade of a Sabatier knife. This is weirdly gourmand in a dry, spicy, savory way and will be a miss for me, despite how well made this is.
Jun 30, 2020


St Johns West Indian Lime by West Indies Bay Company

This is freshness in a bottle. Crisp linen, pressed madras, Panama hat sort of freshness. Gin and Tonic freshness. There is a slight underlying powdery note to this that really evokes barbershops of the past--and present as well as a slight manly muskiness. As others have said, this is fleeting at best, especially in cooler temperatures. If you want this to last beyond your second cup of coffee, you almost need to keep an extra bottle in your desk drawer or gym bag and top yourself up throughout the day; you'll never get scurvy if you do! As with their other scents, the iconic wicker-wrapped bottle is perfectly in sync with the brand, its legacy and its products.
Jun 26, 2020


Land of Warriors by The Vagabond Prince

“Put aside the ranger. Become who you were born to be.”

These words come to mind when I smell Land of Warriors by The Vagabond Prince. With its four layers of leather (vegetal, spicy, animalic and smoky) this summons up everything from a Pharaoh’'s woven leather battle gear to the leather tunics of the bellicose Celtoi— with a little gladiator thrown in for good measure. That said, Land of Warriors opens with a clean, fresh leather scent that toggles between something modern, like Cuiron, and musty old leather books stacked in the farthest reaches of the Bodleian Library. The smoky, animalic notes--—the real warrior bits--—lie far beneath these clean, bookish notes ensuring that the modern-day warrior can wear this to work, do battle, claim victory and not smell as if he missed his—--or her--shower that morning. That'’s right; modern day Boudicas will enjoy wearing this scent as well.
Jun 24, 2020


Enchanted Forest by The Vagabond Prince

This is a very enchanted forest, indeed, as is has a pastry shop right in its middle! I smell first and foremost blackcurrant, not so much on the vine as in a luscious amber vanilla dessert. Around the edges of this swirls fir and cedar, oak moss and patchouli, all the time playing a supporting role to the berries and vanilla. There is a faunish musk, too, right towards the end. This is what tea in Tumnus' cave would smell like (and you cannot get any more enchanted than the forests of Narnia.....). Slightly sweeter than I generally like but done so well that I cannot help but love it. For that reason it leans slightly more feminine (beware the White Witch) to me but easily unisex nonetheless.
Jun 22, 2020


Bass Solo by The Vagabond Prince

Full and fair disclosure—I received my bottle of Bass Solo from The Vagabond Prince by winning an online giveaway and am I glad I did! Never has a fragrance been more aptly named; there is an underlying hum to this scent that really evokes a bass guitar—in the hands of a master (John Paul Jones, I am looking at you). Bass Solo is an amazing fragrance; it is rich and complex and yet soooo subtle and smooth. First and foremost a wood fragrance with Moroccan and Virginia cedars, sandalwood, driftwood and the unique Wenge wood accord playing starring roles. There is a sweet, milky fig accord almost (dare I say it?) semeny in its silkiness which darts in and out among the woods. Birch tar adds an elusive smoky vibe and musk and patchouli round the whole thing off. While this is not an oud fragrance, it has the feel of one, only with every rough edge worn away without a trace of skank. If Lou Rawls was a fragrance, this would be it. Like the underlying bass note in music, you lean into this scent and have to really listen to hear it but once you have identified the rhythm you will never forget it.
Jun 18, 2020


Vetiver Citron Cologne Intense by Art of Shaving

Vetiver Citron is a solid addition to TAOS's fragrance line. It delivers on both fronts--a lovely, rooty vetiver and some fresh lemon and grapefruit. The other notes--pepper, tonka, etc.--play supporting roles. Vetiver Citron reminds me strongly of the scent which probably inspired it, Tom Ford's Grey Vetiver, but at a fraction of the price. Part of the "Cologne Intense" line, I do not find that this is a sillage monster or particularly intense in any way which actually makes it a perfect all-rounder, completely appropriate for the office. As the notes suggest, this works extremely well in warm weather.
May 25, 2020


Incanto pour Homme by Salvatore Ferragamo

Ferragamo’s Incanto Pour Homme is a fresh, fruity, woody scent with some musk and vetiver at its base. This type of scent has been so overdone—even when this was launched in 2004—that it is easy to dismiss them. When done well, this genre is a great allrounder and completely suitable for the office and anywhere else. Incanto, which is a flanker of the feminine perfume by that name, is done well but adds nothing to the genre. The bitter citrus on top is centered with cedar and geranium which gives it a slightly peppery note to offset the sweetness. Sandalwood joins the musk and vetiver in the basenotes. This strikes me as the kind of scent a girlfriend might like to smell on her boyfriend’s neck. I prefer scents to be a little less fruity and a little more masculine smelling but for what it is worth, this is very pleasant.
Mar 24, 2020


Acqua di Parma Colonia by Acqua di Parma

Acqua di Parma’s Colonia has been a favorite of mine for years during which time it went from being a well-kept Italian secret to becoming a global phenomenon with multiple lines and flankers. The Grant/Gardner/Niven mystique never fails to entice and the brand has been developed in an extraordinarily smart and successful way. Beautiful packaging! What about the scent itself? Well, it is a classic cologne with its citrus and lavender construct. In that regard it sits nicely among other great classics like Guerlain’s Eaux, 4711, etc. Colonia, however, ramps up the floral aspect of cologne with a strong damask rose in its heart notes. This pushes it dangerously close to the overly floral, lipstick territory from which I tend to run. However, in this case it is so well done that it is actually perfection. The whole cologne vibe is grounded with sturdy base notes of vetiver, patchouli and sandalwood—all stalwarts of traditional masculine perfumery—which not only give Colonia greater depth and greater lasting power but balance the rosy, lipstick note making the whole thing entirely unisex and surprisingly sexy, come to that. Wonderful grooming products as well, especially the aftershave which I think is among some of the best on offer.
Mar 20, 2020


Hypnotizing Fire by The Harmonist

The Harmonist philosophy is to offer a scent for each of the elements—earth, water, fire, wood and metal—and serve it up two ways. One version speaks to the Yin in us (nurturing and sensitive, represented by the color black) and one version for our Yang side (powerful and assertive, embodied in the color white). As a first time customer, you are invited to enter the details of your birth (date, time and place) which allocates to you your position in the cosmos.

Hypnotizing Fire (“Attractive, Warm and Mysterious”), which is my “road to success” scent in the Feng Shui world, is my favorite. It has warm patchouli and vanilla with a rose heart with pimento top notes and opoponax in the base that really speaks to me. I am not alone—it is a best seller in the Los Angeles market. Warm and seductive, this is sure to be a hit with niche perfumistas with a yen for high quality patchouli, rose and vanilla. But just like the note of decay in Sacred Water, there is a slight off note, a dirty/sweaty note that adds depth and—while not quite nice—adds to the seduction.
Mar 14, 2020


Golden Wood by The Harmonist

The Harmonist philosophy is to offer a scent for each of the elements—earth, water, fire, wood and metal—and serve it up two ways. One version speaks to the Yin in us (nurturing and sensitive, represented by the color black) and one version for our Yang side (powerful and assertive, embodied in the color white). As a first time customer, you are invited to enter the details of your birth (date, time and place) which allocates to you your position in the cosmos.

Golden Wood (“Comfortable, Majestic and Powerful”) is a real standout for me—elemi and malted barley give way to oak and black pepper with a leathery birch and tonka base. This is beautiful stuff—sweet with an almost nutty pipe tobacco note that reminds me, in some ways, of Naomi Goodsir’s Cuir Velours. This feels totally masculine to me but could be devastating on a woman. Golden Wood is a cashmere sweater and tweed sort of scent that is sure to be a favorite.
Mar 14, 2020


Velvet Fire by The Harmonist

The Harmonist philosophy is to offer a scent for each of the elements—earth, water, fire, wood and metal—and serve it up two ways. One version speaks to the Yin in us (nurturing and sensitive, represented by the color black) and one version for our Yang side (powerful and assertive, embodied in the color white). As a first time customer, you are invited to enter the details of your birth (date, time and place) which allocates to you your position in the cosmos.

My destination scent on the yang side is Velvet Fire (“Charismatic, Radiant and Sensual”) which has top notes of lavender, coriander and one of my favorite notes in perfumery, clary sage. The heart notes are tobacco and cypress with a base of oud (seemingly ubiquitous in modern perfumery) and tonka. The herbal opening gives this a freshness that never quite leaves even when the tobacco and oud take over. This is oud done right, a bit of skank in a supporting role that never dominates.
Mar 14, 2020


Sacred Water by The Harmonist

The Harmonist philosophy is to offer a scent for each of the elements—earth, water, fire, wood and metal—and serve it up two ways. One version speaks to the Yin in us (nurturing and sensitive, represented by the color black) and one version for our Yang side (powerful and assertive, embodied in the color white). As a first time customer, you are invited to enter the details of your birth (date, time and place) which allocates to you your position in the cosmos.

Sacred Water, is an interesting aquatic (described as “Captivating, Essential and Mystical”) that evokes waves crashing against a rocky shore. Mineral notes along with aquatic mosses, woods and grey amber bring this to life. Like all good oceanic scents, there is a note of decay as the ocean constantly renews itself and this decay reminds me strongly of the mustiness associated with a beach house that is being opened for the first time in the summer; not especially nice, but comforting nonetheless.
Mar 14, 2020

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