Note de Yuzu by Heeley

Note De Yuzu opens with an holographic note of fizzy / zesty / juicy green citrus. In this phase, the accord is so literal to make me salivate. Very aromatic and hyper vivid without falling too much into functional smells territories. I'm not a huge fan of citrus but the accord is so well executed that I've found it pretty entertaining. Unfortunately the fragrance slowly turn into a Sel Marin clone introducing exactly the same salty / clean musky / woody vetiver base. Now, while I really dig Sel Marin, I find Note De Zuzu a bit redundant for those who already own the former. It could instead make a valid option for those who don't own Sel Marin or have a particular affection for citrus-themed compositions that don't feel too Eau De Cologne-ish.

Rating: 6.5/10

Tom Ford Noir Anthracite by Tom Ford

I perceive Noir Anthracite as a tribute to oakmoss done with a modern twist. It feels like one of those testosterone-driven american fragrances from the 80s (I'm mainly thinking about stuff in the Aramis back-catalog) to which they added a slightly metallic edge and the ever present peppery note. It's simple and deja-vu but I find it extremely easy to wear and, most of all, completely different from the plethora of sticky-sweet-woody stuff that overpopulate the shelves of mainstream perfume shops.

Probably the most interesting fragrance in the Tom Ford's non-exclusive range since Sahara Noir.

Rating: 7/10

Gucci Guilty Absolute pour Homme by Gucci

Gucci Guilty Absolute is probably nothing new to those who have familiarity with niche perfumes themed around smoke, woods and leather but I really believe it represents a daring move from Gucci, to propose this in a more mainstream-oriented section of the market where people either look for sweet-woodyambers or fresh and clean type of fragrances.

A simple and yet striking combo of smoky leather, dry patchouli and woody notes that feels pleasantly unpolished and halfway between industrial / urban and earthy / outdoorsy. It shares a certain kinship with stuff such as Terre D'Hermes but it smells overall more straight-forward and even unapologetic. If you can get past how ugly the presentation is, Gucci Gulty Absolute is probably the only decent fragrance released by this brand since the Tom Ford era.

Rating: 7/10

Dot by Comme des Garçons

What is this?

Ok, at Commes Des Garçons they're not just responsible for daring and artsy stuff, they also provided us with a plethora of easy to like / pop fragrances that have often set the bar for other mainstream brands to follow. Well, Dot doesn't belong in either of these cathegories. Nothing to do with the avant facets of, say, EDP 2011 (the one in the same melted bottle as Dot) or the plush florals of Luxe Champaca. Nothing to do with the abstractness of the original Stephen Jones. Nothing to do with the daring approach of Guerrilla 1. Dot is a complete failure. A disappointment.

A totally uninspired fruity floral with just a tinge of that metallic-incense base that's typical of several CDGs. Not enough character to stand out amongst the most daring deliveries from the house, not good enough to become one of those minor CDGs that while not shining for originality, they still can do the trick as safe-but-solid fragrances.

Too bad because the bottle is cute.

Curium [96Cm] by One of Those

I've to admit Curium left me a bit cold the first time around. As often happens with this brand, it's so easy to overlook their fragrances. Their restrained style and the fact they generally opt for a "everyday-wear" kind of approach to perfumery, doesn't help their fragrances to stand-out at first sniff but I've found that a more in-depth experience usually unveils their subtle twists and charm.

As a matter of fact, after I had tried Curium for the first time, dismissing it as "Not My Thing", I realized I remembered exactly how it smelt like. There's something almost subliminal to it, something apparently irrelevant but that, instead, get stuck in your mind. I decided to give it another chance because something that get stuck in your mind like Curium did, surely deserves further exploration so I grabbed a couple more samples and I'm now discovering I'm growing very fond of it.

How it smells like? Smells like the bone-structure of a modern floral musc that have been devoided of any frill. It's a super-dusty, kind of ambrette-seed-ish / iris-y / non-animalic musc. It's a subtle veil that keeps radiating all around you for a whole day. Smells like a tribute to Marie Curie from, say, Ryoji Ikeda. Something that would probably make perfume purists / classicists recoil in horror. I like it.

Eau de Gaga by Lady Gaga

If you're up for a cheap thrill, this is it. A zesty / sparkling and aromatic lime opening joined by a kind of watery accord that smells more leafy-violety than actually watery. Everything sharpened by a woody-leather bone-structure. Totally synth and surely not groundbreaking but considering you can find 30ml bottles for 7 euros in discount stores here and there around the globe, you might want to give this a chance as it's actually pretty enjoyable in a hypothetical Azuree Lime ---> woody citrus axis. Completely genderless.

Nice presentation a-la Kilian (ah, the irony). Cheap is good sometime.

Hermèssence Muguet Porcelain by Hermès

I made the mistake to dismiss this new Muguet Porcelaine a bit too easily at first but then a couple of friends whose perceptions and tastes I keep in good regard suggested me to give it a second chance and I did. I've to say I partially changed my mind but I'm still not completely sold on this new Hermessence. Probably because, when it comes to fragrance, muguet is not exactly one of my main focuses.

Anyway, Muguet Porcelaine opens with a bizarre muguet and melon combo that while sounding as intriguing as the pleague and cholera at once, it actually works. From one side there's the bitter green floral facets of muguet but they're juxtaposed to a fresh and slightly sweet melon note that makes of this opening something novel enough to hold my attention while still not resulting overly bizarre or exactly weird. In fact, it's very likable. As usual with Hermessence, the fragrance fades pretty soon to evolve into a more conventional "pretty muguet" where the white floral facets are enhanced together with the general *inoffensiveness* of these light concoctions. Something I believe it would be very easy to wear for anyone into light modern florals done with enough class and taste to not fall into overly predictable territories.

Now, even though I'm a fan of Ellena and more generally of Hermes, I'm still not particularly fond of this new launch. I'm not bothered at all by its transparent / waterecolory character but I probably would have appreciated it more if it was launched as part of the Les Jardins series in which, in my opinion, it would have been more properly contextualized. Anyway, despite being far from the genius of other Hermessences such as Cuir D'Ange or, say, Osmanthe Yunnan, Muguet Porcelaine is still worth exploring for representing a nice twist on a genre I'm personally not particularly interested into.

Cadavre Exquis by Fazzolari + Gardoni

I've to say I've been a huge fan of this project since day #1. I've been patiently awaiting for the final result for quite some time now and I can only confirm that the first aspect that's clear when smelling Cadavre Exquis is that it exudes passion. Passion for perfume, passion for art, passion for sharing. The passion of people collaborating on something they love. You may either like or not what you smell but, to me, it's clear enough that the approach to perfumery that both Gardoni and Fazzolari are showing, comes directly from the way they process art in their minds as opposed to dealing with it as a mere "product".

The perfumers are both pretty well known to the most devoted perfumisti for releasing some of the most attention-grabber fragrances of the last five years or so. Gardoni, the man behind italian Bogue Profumo, enriched the perfume world with gems that now need very little introduction such as MAAI, Cologne Reloaded and, lately, the widely acclaimed Aeon 001 while Fazzolari's Lampblack and Room 237 have immediately jumped up there amongst my all-time favorites in contemporary perfumery. They gathered together to give birth to this trans-atlantic project that is Cadavre Exquis.

The fragrance is the result of a four-hands collaboration based on moulds, samples, paintings / drawings exchanges with only one theme framing the whole project: gourmand. As stated on the Fazzolari's website, The term cadavre exquis refers to the game originated by the surrealist artists of the 1920s. In the game, players collectively assemble words or images to create a poem or drawing, with each player making a contribution of his own while totally unaware of the others'. The result is unpredictable and always surprising. The name itself comes from one of the first assembled sentences as reported by surrealist André Breton: “Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau.” (“The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine.”)

So, the fragrance is supposedly a gourmand but, with much of my joy, there's really not much edible stuff about it. It reads mainly like a cocoa-patch with a camphorous quality up-top and a dark, woody-spicy base with smooth animalic facets. Vanilla does its part too though but without driving the fragrance towards overly sweet territories. In fact, I would describe CE as quite dry in the end. I also get distant florals providing nice refinements. Given the composition process, it's also supposedly a monster, kind of a frankensiein type of composition in which isolated parts were added to the main body almost randomly but, again, the final result feels incredibly coherent and consistent that the chemistry between these two guys seems to have worked pretty darned well.

Don't get me wrong now, Cadavre Exquis is not exactly what I would describe as an "easy" fragrance but it's also far from representing the monster one would expect from the descriptions seen around. Yes, it's bold (but without being overpowering), dark, sometimes even grotesque but in the best possible ways. It has the typical roughness of most indie / artisanal products but it's also very clear that this roughness is something inherent to the style of the perfumers involved. Something completely unrelated to the skills of either. Something that's part of a treasured personal aesthetic that belongs to style and self-expression. Something I would probably compare to the artistic choice of a band to express via a rougher sound as opposed to the super-polished / auto-tuned production of mainstream pop. In other words, a visceral roughness that comes directly from passion.

I could go on and on with a more detailed description of the fragrance itself but I strongly believe any serious perfume lover should at least experience this little jewel that transcends perfumery to bring us back the love for the things we do.

Long live to two of the most interesting and kindest people to populate the current fragrance game.

Rating: no need to rate this. Maximum Support.

Divine Attraction by Initio

I've to say that nothing about Initio Parfums catches my interest. Their whole aesthetic and the style of their fragrances remind me too much of a whatever arabic-inspired insta-niche brand. A sort of early-Kilian wannabe but with less focus on marketing.

Divine Attraction makes an exception though. I was honestly expecting a bold animalic leather but with much of my surprise what I got was a simple and yet very striking leathery-vetiver with industrial facets. Think about an hypothetical love-child between Comme Des Garcons Tar and Garage with a bit of Knize Sec thrown in and you get the picture. So, nothing really animalic or *human* here. This is all about rubbery vetiver and smoky leather turning soon into a clean (almost aseptic) woody-incensey base. The fragrance opens quite brutally with an arresting leather note akin at a motor-oil type of accord. In this phase Divine Attraction feels very industrial and daring but it tames down pretty soon unveiling a smooth and somewhat less interesting drydown based on the cleanest vetiver and other smartly dosed woody notes. Again, very simple and surely overpriced but, at least, not as clicheted as I would have expected.

Very nice, after all, even though I find its life-span a bit too short. It starts very promising but it dies down way too soon.

With that said, if you're drown to modern industrial fragrances, Divine Attraction is worth a sniff.

Boy Chanel by Chanel

Boy aka how to modernize an aromatic fougere while keeping it solidly linked to classicism. This is what I get from Boy and I like it.

A lavender-driven aromatic / herbal concoction with some delicate floral hues here and there. It gets a tad too sweet during the middle-phase but the overall sweetness tames down pretty soon to disclosure the most lovely drydown. A fantastic exercise on how to turn a typical testosterone-driven theme (which way too often smells obsolete) into an androgynous fragrance that feels classic without relying on nostalgia and modern without trying so hard to be original.

A good perfume. As simple as that.


L'Incendiaire by Serge Lutens

I honestly don't get it. What's so special about L'Incendiaire?

If you like amber + incense, it surely smells good but I don't find anything about L'Incendiaire to be so *sumptuous* or *exclusive* to warrant the vulgar price-tag it goes for. Luxury is one thing, vulgarity is another altogether. In the end, let's face it, this is really just another amber incense in the same mould as Sahara Noir.

B#*ch please!

The Night by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

What's the point with The Night? I mean, why buying oud from Estee Lauder?

Yes, it surely smells more truly oudy than anything else offered by a westerner brand but, trust me, for the same price you can get quite a dollop of the real thing.

Good but ultimately pointless.

Cedar Root Black by Henrik Vibskov

I had good expectations from the new Vibskov's Cedar Root Black but I've just realized I was probably being tricked by the cutest bottle design I've seen in a while. In fact, the fragrance is a total disappointment.

A thin and extremely derivative woody-peppery thing that you won't be able to tell apart from the plethora of other similarly themed fragrances that invaded the market during the past 15 years or so. From woody-peppery to nothing at all in a matter of minutes.

Completely irrelevant.

Lotus Dust Red by Henrik Vibskov

It's getting very easy to review the majority of new releases because the level is getting so low that there's really not much to say or rant about.

Lotus Dust Red really smells like a whatever floral-tea fragrance that could very easily be a minor release amongst those countless tea-flankers from Bvlgari. As entertaining and interesting as a bus-ride to work.

Grace by Grace Coddington by Comme des Garçons

I generally dislike rose notes in perfumery. Especially when they lean towards the watery side of the spectrum (eg Amouage Lyric Man which is possibly my biggest fragrance nemesis ever) so I really didn't expect to like the new collaboration bewteen the iconic Grace Coddinngton and Comme Des Garçons. Well, as a matter of fact, Grace surprised me.

An extremely easy to like and very well refined modern rose with a fragile character. Pale, almost whispered but with enough personality to avoid falling into the "fragrance for people who actually don't like fragrances" cathegory. Agrees with white linens, torrid summer nights and walking barefoot but with that certain crystal / plastic quality to keep it urban. There's really not much else to say about Grace smell-wise as the frangrance feels really simple while completely avoiding feeling simplistic. I guess in this specific context we could easily refer to it as a succesful example of true minimalism.

It won't probably make the best starting option for those who are not familiar with this seminal brand yet, but if you're looking for something effortlessly elegant, Grace could really fit your bill.

As the Grace Coddington fragrance, I rank it very high. I believe it completely reflects her personality and style (they really nailed the brief here). As a Comme Des Garçons, I find it a minor release but surely one of their bests amongst their "easiest" launches. Definitely worth a shot. A few words of reference: Hermessence Rose Ikebana, Charenton Macerations Asphalt Rose, Comme Des Garçons 2.

Zagaria by Acqua Flor

Aqua Flor is a relatively new brand from Florence that offers a huge range of fragrances with an aesthetic that's not so distant from other, more popular, florentine farmacias such as Farmacia SS Annunziata or Santa Maria Novella. I approached a bunch of their fragrances knowing nothing about the brand and, overall, they all strikes as more or less successful replicas of other more popular compositions.

Zagaria is a versatile, masculine citrusy cologne that shares similarities with both Bel Ami Vetiver and Etat Libre D'Orange Je Suis Un Homme. A pretty decent woody citrus with leathery nuances. Probably one of my favorite in their whole range but given the price I don't see many reasons to pick this over the aforementioned fragrances. Tends to become a bit generic during the late dry down.

Hussar by Acqua Flor

Again, my main gripe with this line is the lack of imagination and creativity. Some of their fragrance are actually pretty decent but they all feel like been there done that type of stuff.

Hussar is a tarry industrial leather a-la Nostalgia and Map Of The Heart Black but sweeter than either. So, smoky leather, dark spices and woods on a sweetish / vanillic base. Nice and competently done but ultimately derivative.

Aoud by Acqua Flor

Aqua Flor Aoud reminded me of a cheaper version of Kilian's Pure Oud. A stark smoky woody thing that while avoiding smelling like straight up woodyamber it still feels like a wannabe composition that isn't able to stand out in a overly crowded territory.


Flamboyant by Acqua Flor

I'm afraid this is anything but Flamboyant. Instead this is a very generic transparent citrusy thing with that undefined, faux sandalwoody / mall-oriented woody base. Smells like one of the latest Yves Rochas. Anyone.

Brisas by Acqua Flor

A verbena driven super classic Eau De Cologne. In other words, a Guerlain's Eau wannabe.

Seriously, 120 euros for this? Not even Jo Malone.

L'Attesa by Masque

Today's fragrance market seems splitted between brands creating new trends and others following them with way too often terrible results. Between blingy and vulgar luxury versus pretentious artsy characters with little substance. Between the so called insta-lines (brands launching 15, completely irrelevant, new fragrances at the same time) and mysterious people resurrecting mysterious brands from another era with *ancient* formulas found in lost apothecary shops around the globe. In this sad and pretty pathetic scenario, Masque is doing its own thing by simply delivering pieces of outstanding perfumery as opposed to ephemeral fashion items and shallowly consumerist luxury products.

I've been a huge fan of Masque since day #1 (make it actually day #2 because I've never had the chance to smell their original two launches from 2012 Dolceacqua and Petra) and I've to say they have never let me down.

This time it's the turn of L'Attesa. An iris-centered composition that despite sounding a bit trendy because of its main player (iris seems to get all the rage from quite some years now), it strikes as a timeless piece of classic perfumery. Whereas most iris fragrances feel either too thin by relying on a temporary green / carroty / leathery / rooty effect to then basically turn into cardboard or go totally lipstick / cosmetic, L'Attesa starts with a unique and yet familiar accord of rooty iris and something I would classify as green and kind of sour (the champagne accord?). The iris becomes more classically powdery while the introduction of an extra floral component preserves the fragrance from falling into the usual *woody* whisper we generally get from modern iris perfumes. it's a full bodied iris that keeps all of its iris-y aspects all the way through its evolution. It's powdery but also leathery, rooty and yet floral, buttery and decadent. A grown-up kind of approach to the main theme or something you would expect from the most classical french perfume brands such as Chanel or the likes. Something that won't make any pants drop or won't make you feel any cooler while wearing it. Something only people who actually like fragrances will probably appreciate in its complex sophistication.

L'Attesa is the proof that perfumery is still alive and that it can be something completely unrelated from fashion. Something that lasts over a single season until the next buzz is build around the next *product*. L'Attesa is perfumery. One of those fragrances that has all the characteristics to become a pillar and jump up there with the monsters of yore of this genre.

Symphonie-Passion by Unum

Symphonie Passion is basically a riff on the Encre Noire / Sycomore theme. Less sharp and synthetic than the former but also less plush than the latter. It's like if Sycomore was released as part of the Hermessence line. It's a diaphanous, kind of watercolor-y take on a modern woody-vetiver with distant watery floral facets. It's neither groundbreaking nor novel but I'm admittedly a big sucker for airy and fresh woody vetivers so I admit I like this one as well. Scent-wise there's really not much else to describe or say but there are a couple more aspects of this fragrance I'd like to point out.

1) With a name such as Symphonie Passion I honestly expected a big floral and as much as I generally struggle with big florals, my mind still refuses to connect the scent-profile of this composition to its name / concept.

2) This is a light and airy / transparent vetiver which is something that clashes with the fact it's marketed as an Extrait De Parfum. Nothing about Symphonie Passion is even vaguely classifiable as an extrait.

Downline: I like Symphonie Passion, I really do but it's conceptually not coherent so, in the end, I'll probably pull the trigger only if I'll ever stumble on a serious deal because even though I like it, let's face it, the market offers loads of extremely similar fragrances at a fraction of its price.

Ennui Noir by Unum

Ennui Noir is slowly winning me over as a solid, modern oriental fougere. I've to admit I initially struggled with its almost gourmand facets but the composition is balanced by healthy doses of patchouli and vetiver that keep the overall sweetness in check. Yes, it's by all means sweet and vanillic but it also offers nice juxtapositions that prevent the wearer from smelling like a lavender cupcake.

So, a modern oriental fougere with its blast of lavender, a shaprish woody bone structure that, call me names call me whatever you want but to me shares some similarity with current Azzaro Pour Homme, and a patch / heliotrope / anisic / vanilla combo that is not so distant from L'Instant De Guerlain Pour Homme Extreme. Probably not the most innovative fragrance around but if you're into powerhouses that approach late 70s / 80s perfumery with a modern attitude, Ennui Noir is a solid candidate to become a favorite.

Powerful and extremely long lasting.

Blasted Heath by Penhaligon's

An insanely long lasting and powerful as well as insanely bad, mall-oriented woody-herbal aquatic that you can't tell apart from a plethora of other similarly themed super-mainstream fragrances.

So cheap and uninspired to make even an Avon fan horrifying.

It gets slightly better after a dozen hours but boy it's painful to get there.

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