Les Colognes : Néroli by Annick Goutal

A scintillating orange blossom experience from Annick Goutal!

This is a truly natural-smelling ode to the commonly used neroli accord. This lovely fragrance feels like it was collected by hand from orange flowers, petitgrain, and neroli proper, distilled and put into bottles straight up! Houses like Creed are known for creating high-class creations like this, which - IMHO - can be enjoyed by either men or women, really. Parallels come to mind of Bulgari's Au The Vert scent, which also smells clean and well-made.

A definite must-try for orange blossom lovers!

Colonia Intensa by Acqua di Parma

Acqua di Parma Colonia Intensa starts off just as expected, with a bright citrus peel and ginger rush. Wood and patchouli creep in soon thereafter, filled out with the unusual other notes (mugwort, myrtle, artemisia, e.g.) and the delicate neroli tucked tightly inside. Benzoin's resinous powdery presence also appear in a bit, with a really light leather and musk touch in the drydown.

Some would say there is fennel in here as well. I thought it was in there too, though it's not listed in the fragrance triangle above nor on fragrantica's. It's not too sharp here, which tends to be a bit challenging for me to bear.

Such a mixture of accords: Wood, citrus, spice, leather, green, floral, resin, and musk. The product is similar to Chanel pour Monsieur, Eau d'Hermes, and somewhat like Armani's Acqua di Gio Profumo: Thick, masculine, intense. The panoplea of accords are all in balance with each other, and the result is a strong - not loud - woody-spice fragrance that is truly wearable nearly all year round.

The One Grey by Dolce & Gabbana

Having tried several other "The One" outings - the original and the flankers, that is - I approached The One Grey with an open mind, seeing how unique and distinctive it is on its own merits.

The One Grey has its own character that is shaped from the combination of lavandin (sharp herbal effect) and the vetiver (the damp, bitter variety). The requisite amber, tobacco and cardamom mimic the basic The One dna fairly well, which acts to surround the pronounced bitter herbal lavandin + vetiver combo. Grapefruit seems to interact with the duo, synergizing its own bitter hesperidic quality with them. Grey woods? Can't say I know what that smells like.

Overall, it is a wearable casual version of The One original. I see that it won't please everyone; definitely give this a test before deciding to buy a bottle, as the lavandin and vetiver combo may not be to everyone's liking.

Empire by Trump by Donald Trump

Very nice fruit-spice scent! Trump's Empire scent has a dignified, rich aromatic quality that is a great accompaniment for a formal night occasion.

Empire starts out with a really fresh minty-apple accord (chai note could be discerned from a slight cardamom and / or clove spiciness nestled within). Orange blossom and jasmine add a nice unified floral lightness, with a clear tonka-amber powdery touch with very subtle, clean musk wrapping things up. Provokes imagery of a swank, bespoke hotel full of well-to-do magnates and other upper-crust folks.

Opulent, though not expensive (I got the 3 piece gift set for under USD$50, which comes with a really, really handsome shave bag). Comparisons by other reviewers to Carolina Herrera's 212 V.I.P. Men are on point, as is one other's comparing it to Armani Code Profumo. Empire stands in the class of fresh spicy aromatic colognes which exude esteem and panache, and it won't threaten your credit card limit in the process! :-D

Timbuktu by L'Artisan Parfumeur

A delightful woody-spicy EdT from L'Artisan Parfumeur.

Immediately from application and forward, there is a classic men's cologne vibe courtesy of the combo of vetiver, patchouli, cardamom, and papyrus wood, above all. The baies rose note is subtle, with an ever-so-slight fruity touch that's barely discernible esp. if you "look" to find them (i.e., mango and berries). There's a medium strength presence of resinous notes a la myrrh and frankincense, adding a slight smokiness in the heart that slowly unfolds over time.

This is liquefied incense stick! I feel a sense of calm and reflectiveness every time I whiff Tibuktu. It's not a loud scent, more so a slightly higher than skinscent formulation creating an air of tranquil feelings to wearer and smellers alike.

Colonia Quercia by Acqua di Parma

Acqua di Parma Colonia Quercia is a very classy woody-spicy scent that develops so nicely on the skin.

Bergamot and cardamom start the scent journey out and linger for a while, bringing brightness and a muted citrus peel quality that is accented by the petitgrain's rosy woody touch. Cedarwood adds its requisite starchiness, with the rosy geranium holding hands with the petitgrain and amplifying the floral accord. Herbal patchouli emerges amidst all this, and the oakmoss here is thick and extra-lichen-ish than what I usually experience when it's present in a fragrance. Tonka adds an ironic sweet touch that is the final sensation atop the wood and spice character.

AdPCQ feels moderately dense and slightly creamy (somewhat like Kenneth Cole Vintage Black, which incidentally has oak as a note (that's what "quercia" is referring to)), exuding an aromatic trail that is concentrated for sure! I like it, but I am certain that this is NOT a blind-buy fragrance, as its sweetness - coming it seems from the cardamom and tonka - can be a turn-off to some.

Seems great for casual cooler weather wear, maybe more so for evening hours.

Colonia Leather by Acqua di Parma

POW! Acqua di Parma Colonia Leather comes right off as a sillage monster full of a THICK leather accord, loaded to the max with cedar and guaiac woods and intense, clarified drippy rose petals.

This scent is pungent, aromatic, woody, boozy, oily, and filled out with hesperidic grips from deep within (from the orange and lime, which take a bit of examination to really make out amidst the leather bomb vibe). I like heavy fragrances like this for when all I want to do is to have a solid scent curtain around me that isn't dated nor otherwise cloying.

This is NOT for everyone. It takes some getting used to, and DEFINITELY requires discretion to apply (it can easily become a monstrous offend everyone scent if too much is put on). I like the intense oily leather and hearty wood vibe from it, and I wouldn't mind sampling it every now and then when I feel BOLD, lol. :-)

Oajan by Parfums de Marly

Ooh, this is a nice one! Oajan by Parfums de Marly reminds me so much of several of AJ Arabia / Widian niche offerings that are sophisticated gourmand formulations, full of layers of well-blended notes!

There is a deep, rich quality to Oajan that captivates me and feels like it's communicating a profound message. I know nothing of horse breeds and the whole equestrian lifestyle, for which Oajan is dedicated to; but I need not know anything of those to appreciate this masterpiece.

Osmanthus is a welcome dominating presence here, having a ripe apricot floral air synergized by the classy rich honey and tasteful sprinkles of cinnamon - REALLY pleasant! Davana adds a deep boozy red wine fruitiness that dances on the edges around the osmanthus. The ambergris adds a waxy, slightly bitter cloud inside the scent. And all the remaining notes serve to play artfully subtle supporting roles that inject tiny bits of sweetness and resin in the heart of this amazing cloud.

If I were to have thick liquid black cherry juice in a bottle, that would approximate my perceptions in toto of Oajan. It's friendly, philosophical, dignified, and truly a pleasure to wear - one of the best that I've sampled in recent times, and I've checked out a LOT. :-)

Mon Numéro 10 by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Almost immediately after application, there is something very familiar and friendly that I get from Mon Numéro 10 by L'Artisan Parfumeur.

Full of spicy brightness warmed down by wood, spice, resin and amber, Mon Numéro 10 comes across as classy and reserved. The initial brightness tones down quickly to a near skinscent level, where it takes patience to examine and experience this EdP. There's a Histoires de Parfum sensibility here, where a story is being told to those who would "listen." Aromatic whiffs of the boozy cognac - sharpened by pink pepper and livened up by the elegant bergamot - dance on the skin and brought even more alive by cardamom and cinnamon spice notes. As with several bespoke scents that I have tried out, Mon Numéro 10 is like a carousel of accords that somehow merge into a fragrant mass that - IMO - is enjoyable. (At points, I would describe this "mass" as resembling a stick of very fine artist's clay.)

Balanced, multi-faceted goodness that's worth a test / decant, possibly even a full bottle!

Oud Stars : Alexandria Imperiale by Xerjoff

Deep, woody, multi-faceted potion full of character and thoughtful blending - Alexandria Imperiale, as expected, comes across as thick and aromatic, loaded with notes and aiming to envelope the senses and the mind. Smells very similar at times to its Oud Star sibling, Alexandria II, but it doesn't stay linear unlike that fragrance.

Oud is rich, smoky, and quite present, thanks to FOUR varieties from all over Asia. Cedar fills out this quad agarwood team, with lavender and the various spices (notably, the sage and the atypical marjoram) plus leather do well to give Alexandria Imperiale a most aggressive flair. Cypriol is a welcome shiny touch in this monster, and overall Alexandria Imperiale does well to say several things at once, but doing so with sophistication and pride all the same.

GREAT member of the Oud Stars collection, highly recommended. :-)

Mauboussin Private Club by Mauboussin

Freakishly difficult fragrance to find nowadays, Mauboussin's Private Club takes the charm of the original EdT and EdP scents and intensifies them with spices - thanks to the lovely black pepper, cardamom and coriander in the top. The clean cinnamon found in the original pour Homme scents is still there, along with a warm amber base that packages things nicely.

All I have is a tiny sample of this rarity, enough for me to say that it is a great rethink of the signature Mauboussin scents (which appear to have a great following even now).

Hommage à L'Homme Voyageur by Lalique

"Hommage A L'Homme Voyageur, a new invitation to travel with woody and ambery notes for an asserted man.
"Bergamot, Cardamom, Vetiver, Patchouly[sic], Amber, Moss."

(says the contents of the sampler card)

This wonderful men's EdT starts out with a pleasant, wet bergamot fruit note, kept bright with cardamom spice and strong herbal patchouli. There's a dark, grassy accord that creeps in, thanks to the vetiver and moss notes, warmed up by a nice, slightly aromatic ambery heart.

I get a woodiness from Hommage à L'Homme Voyageur, though I don't see any such note listed on the sample's card that I got. It's a dark, starchy wood (perhaps papyrus, as listed on the basenotes triangle above) - definitely not sandalwood, but like a lightened up cedarwood.

Overall, Lalique's Hommage à L'Homme Voyageur has moderate projection, very linear and behaved and livening up my senses with every sniff! (I see some similarities with Histoires de Parfums' This is Not A Blue Bottle 1.1 (2015), both having a nice aromatic spicy air that lingers like a good friend.)

Very nicely blended and a pleasure to wear casually or even for formal occasions.

Armani Code Absolu by Giorgio Armani

I just HAD to get a bottle of this, once it became available on the Giorgio Armani Beauty website!

Now that I have a LOT of the flankers of Armani Code now - original, Colonia, Special Blend, A-List, Profumo, Ultimate - and having tried Ice, Sport, et. al...Absolu seemed a logical next buy for me from Armani.

Absolu takes the common theme of aromatic-oriental that was found (more or less) in ALL the prior inceptions of Armani Code, and deepens it further. The rum accord (strangely not listed in the basenotes triangle above), nutmeg and vanilla add a boozy sensuality that has perceived depth. Apple and orange blossom add a fragile fruity-floral touch, with an earthy carrot seed presence ever so lightly accentuating the edges of the tonka bean. The Armani Code DNA is definitely, unmistakably there; but I wouldn't deem this an unnecessary, indistinguishable re-release of Armani Code proper.

This is some nice, classy stuff! Upon my first application of Armani Code Absolu on my wrist, I couldn't stop sniffing it! Also, I can't stop beholding that handsome goldish bottle, and the potion within is definitely worth checking out.

Unlike Aqua di Gio Absolu - which ended up being an overly heady clone of typical men's colognes today, along the lines of its Stronger With You scent - Armani Code Absolu is a legitimate flanker that takes the original and "aerates" and deepens it to something wearable and identifiable as a Code rethink.

Take the unbridled intensity of the Profumo version, and soften the core pungency by 50%, and that's what Armani Code Absolu feels like. And there is a slight resemblance to Uomo by Salvatore Ferragamo, putting it within tasteful access of contemporary tastes.

Excellent for evening wear in cooler temps. Kudos to Armani for releasing this great smelling, great performing big brother to the arguably legendary Armani Code line! :-)

Oud Stars : Alexandria II by Xerjoff

A lavender-heavy, semi-oud experience from Xerjoff.

Alexandria II is a moderate projection EdP which leans in the woody-spice direction, with a light presence of agarwood in the midst of a storm of cinnamon, nice rosewood, and slight sweetness from vanilla in the base. Apple adds a fruity pungency that brightens this beast up. Musk is quite evident, a definite sexy touch to this hyper-long-lasting potion.

Really pleasant and surprisingly not noxiously loud.

Oud Stars : Alexandria by Xerjoff

Revolving with floral, wood, fruit, spice and resinous accords in a strong way. Alexandria (2012) starts out quite heavy, with lavender giving this a decidedly herbal bite. After many hours, Alexandria eases back to a laid back, resinous powdery quality that lingers gently for several hours more.

A well-made scent with a more perceptible oud presence versus Alexandria II. A bit hard to find, as I believe this one was discontinued.

Fantasy by Britney Spears

Whatever else you may think of Britney Spears, Fantasy comes across as a genuinely pleasant, nicely blended perfume.

Fresh, tangy, sensuous...this is a friendly wear, unpretentious and balanced, in no way smelling cheap nor childish. Doesn't smell like cupcakes per se, more so the fruity buttercream frosting some may have. Even then, it's not cloyingly sweet, and it borders on gourmand though it's more properly a citrus-floral.

Really nice perfume that seems wearable by women of any age.

Private Show by Britney Spears

Another semi-gourmand perfume from Britney Spears.

Private Show has a moderate sweet candy vibe to it, not as tangy as Fantasy and having a brighter, fresher quality - like you'd smell in a clean mall, emanating from some nondescript fragrance shop. Floral notes are rather light, adding tart accents to the dominant hesperidic duo in the head. Can't detect the iced coffee (and I drink those all the time, LOL).

Upbeat and friendly, Private Show is a credible perfume that especially younger ladies could enjoy.

Coco Mademoiselle Eau de Parfum by Chanel

Sensual, classy perfume from Chanel.

This is a floral-rich scent that is full of aromatic goodness, with the patchouli standing out from the other notes, with drippy rose petals, gorgeous jasmine and surprisingly strong lychee fruit pungence at the heart. Vetiver is dry and simple, seemingly holding hands with vestiges of the hesperidic head-note trio that lingers throughout the wear cycle. Musk is a light, white variety that adds a tiny bit of sexiness on the edges, next to the dab of subtle vanilla playing a background accenting role.

Coco Mademoiselle seems suited more so for formal evening occasions. A really nice part of the Chanel perfume collection!

Pleasures by Estée Lauder

My oh my, Pleasures is a very bright floral perfume with a classic vibe to it. Very simple, soap-like airiness that - like the bottle color - says "white" fragrance.

The nature of this flower-heavy perfume makes it easy to overapply and become headache inducing. There's a sharp accord (lily? peony?) that even resembles certain bathroom air spray varieties - again, becoming more pronounced with heavier spray-ons.

Otherwise, Pleasures is a really fragrant, beautiful, and mature white flower garden that should be tried before buying.

Beautiful by Estée Lauder

Really intense, old-school ladies' fougere that screams for attention!

Beautiful by Estee Lauder is shaped greatly by the ylang's sweet-powdery edge, tuberose's creamy fleshy touch, loud lily, loud bright jasmine, and warmed a tad by sandalwood and straight green vetiver.

Imagine your typical 1980's MEN's fougeres - Trussardi Uomo comes quickly to mind - and you'll get a good picture of Beautiful's character. Personally, it's bordering on gawdy and too bold. Perfect for the woman who wants to relive the vibe of bright, yester-decade perfumes without fear.

Happy by Clinique

A pleasant citrus-floral perfume from Clinique.

Like it's male counterpart also by Clinique, Happy has a bright, white floral quality that is colored by citrus peel elements from the red grapefruit and bergamot. Happy is a rather clean, uplifting perfume with a slightly pungent edge that warms it down ever so slightly. I can barely recognize the individual notes from the dizzying array swimming around in Happy, save for lily, magnolia, orchid, laurel, and the Hawaiian flower.

Very similar to Estee Lauder's Pleasures perfume, as far as the bright white flower thing. Happy, fortunately, is not nearly as sheer as Pleasures, having IMO more depth and seems a bit more accessible for ladies of various ages (unless bright white floral fragrances don't appeal to them). Nonetheless, a decent perfume that, when applied with discretion, will leave a pleasant trail.

White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor

A very bright, thick, white-floral perfume from Elizabeth Taylor.

Lily is immediately evident as a central player in this scent, and all the other notes seem to dance around it to create different accords: Herbal, floral, slightly resinous, creamy, earthy, and powdery. White Diamonds is slightly in the fougere class of scents, which gives it an old-school 1980's flair to it (but not in a gawdy, outdated way).

White Diamonds has gone on 25 years and counting as a staple at department and discount stores alike, and to this day it remains a classy, rich experience for women.

White Diamonds Night by Elizabeth Taylor

From the very start, White Diamond Night by Elizabeth Taylor announces that it is decidedly different than White Diamonds proper - i.e., with the fruity-citrus smack you initially get to a generally toned down, warmer vibe.

WDN has an added sensuality to it, thanks to the mix of exotic jasmine, freesia and patchouli. Whereas the original White Diamonds is quite old-school bright and powdery semi-fougere, WDN's unmistakable apricot nectar presence takes it in a younger, more contemporary fruity-floral-musk end.

Nothing spectacular nor groundbreaking (it didn't need to be, IMO); WDN is a rethink for a new generation of wearers, offering up an understated, dreamy White Diamonds flanker that could easily have been called "Black Diamonds", really.

Christian Audigier For Him by Ed Hardy [Christian Audigier]

Decent citrus-spice scent from Christian Audigier.

The start of Christian Audigier for Him is a bright, zesty fruit blast with a noticeable boozy rum pairing. Things mellow down within 10 seconds with a definite, tasteful saffron presence, dusty cinnamon, slight amounts of damp oakmoss and vetiver, and a tiny smattering of leather / suede present to warm things up later on in the dry down, with a lingering blackberry accord slightly in the background.

I've smelled this kind of scent before, remotely like Coty Aspen for Men, L'Eau Carven, Jivago 24k, and Van Cleef & Arpels L'Eau du Tsar: Slightly sweet, aromatic, moderately spicy, plus colored by boozy and lingering tangy pungency. A tad bit generic, but not bad for casual wear, IMO!

This one has medium sillage, and it lasts for half a day (not great - resprays would be needed, at least with MY skin chemistry). For a fairly nice, fresh, friendly and basic a masculine scent, this one is a low-priced option and is pleasant (blind buys not suggested - it's a love it or hate it fragrance).

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