Tsukimi by Annayaké

On my skin, Tsukimi is the quieter little sister of Ume by Keiko Mecheri, with a prominent but velvety plum note surrounded by cinnamon and cedar. Floral notes (carnation? lotus?) peek through, but the overriding effect is calming and sensuous fruit and woods. I'm not a big fan of fruity fragrances in general, but Tsukimi is an elegant and slightly mysterious option in this typically unsubtle fragrance group. It is seamlessly blended, warm, and easy to wear.

Cuore di Rosa / Rose Heart by AbdesSalaam Attar Profumo

Perhaps the most perfect rose scent I have smelled. Here is Damascene rose in all its glory, dignified, mysterious, and voluptuous all at once -- profound and not overtly sweet. Citrus and wood are supporting players, but this is so skillfully blended that the edges where these elements meet are invisible; the other notes never announce themselves but only serve to elevate the wearer's experience of the rose at the core (cuore). Sublime and beautiful.

Un Jardin sur le Nil by Hermès

Given Chandler Burr's swooning review and the general excitement that Hermes tried to whip up for this scent, I have tried mightily to love it. But Un Jardin sur le Nil just doesn't move me.

The initial impression is of a vaguely aqueous accord with grapefruit, accompanied by a slightly sweeter, greener fruit note. Just beneath this is lotus flower, on a bed of amorphous woods. But there's no further development; the scent is quite linear, drifting on in this way until it fades -- on me only an hour or two after application.

On my skin there is also a persistent dry, chalky note that grates somewhat and spoils the generally innocuous atmosphere of fruit and lotus. This arid roughness may be what bothers me the most about the composition.

Jean-Claude Ellena is a skilled nose but in this case has created a mildly pleasant scent suspended in an enormous bubble of hype.

Décou-Vert by Laboratorio Olfattivo

The initial impression is green, green, green -- broken leaves and stems -- and lily, with a prominent musk undercurrent right from the opening. Unfortunately for me, this does not develop further, except that the musk -- my least favorite note -- becomes more insistent. This is a common problem for me: any hint of musk predominates, when I would much prefer a further unfolding of the green and floral notes. Sillage is moderate, as is longevity.

Decou-vert appears to be made from high-quality ingredients, but it lacks the well-defined architecture of Chanel No. 19 and other iconic green scents. It becomes an increasingly soft, blurred green musky floral, mildly acceptable for spring/summer wear, but unremarkable in the end.

Oleander by Lili Bermuda

The original Oleander was a heavenly, creamy floral. The reformulated abomination is an aldehyde-spiked, undifferentiated powdery floral -- mostly orris root (or a synthetic approximation), but without any of the carroty, woody, or cool metallic distinctiveness of other iris fragrances. A badly done retro reboot. What a disappointment.

Dzhari by Phaedon

A beautiful, complex gourmand from Pierre Guillaume -- a fruit and spice market that isn't in-your-face sweet or sharp. Terrifically balanced, nuanced, and dry, with a hint of smoke at the end and a lovely transparency. Very happy with this one.

L'Arbre de la Connaissance by Jovoy

The name translates variously as The Tree of Knowledge (a la the Garden of Eden) or The Tree of Enlightenment (the Buddha's, that is).

Based on a small sample, this has a lovely fresh opening -- just a hint of citrus, but mostly green. Then fig -- a bit of the fruit, but mostly wood. Not sweet -- just heavenly fig, leaves, and woods. Perfect for spring and summer, but probably great beside a fireplace, too. I'm not big on "clean" fragrances, but this could be characterized as clean, and dry, and somewhat cool.

Bought the bottle (nice heavy glass in a presentation box), and the character of the juice seems different somehow. I'm not getting much citrus now. The quality is warmer yet paradoxically more herbal, and somewhat indolic. The fruit note, wet and dense, is heavier. I preferred the scent impression I got from the sample (using a dabber, not a spray). There are no animalic notes in the descriptions I've read, but something a bit musky is fighting the fresh greenness I enjoyed so much initially.

I would be very interested in others' impressions.

Womanity by Thierry Mugler

I was invited to the release of this fragrance in New York and sat through an ultra-theatrical description and demonstration of the proprietary process for extracting the fig, the inspiration for the caviar, etc. It was all quite over the top, as you might imagine, and intended to build maximum anticipation (and boost sales).

When it came time to sample the actual juice, though, I was baffled by the muddy mix of notes. I got some citrus, a hint of salty ocean, and then a dirty hazelnut note that would not go away. Milky and green fig peeked through the burnt nut note here and there, but overall it was a complete disaster on my skin. The drydown was a simple fadeout of dirty hazelnut. This is Mugler's womankind-inspired creation?

I felt I had been the victim of some kind of hoax.

Wild Musk by Coty

Though I'm not a musk fan in general (and in fact usually go out of my way to avoid synthetic musk), I wore Coty Wild Musk Oil all through the '70s. On my skin it leaned more toward a sweet ambery-vanilla impression than an animalic one. Sexy but not in-your-face “dirty.” Men loved it, and I felt glorious when I wore it.

I just rediscovered it, snagging a bottle for less than $15 online. I expected to be disappointed, having in the meantime developed a taste for more sophisticated and complex scents -- but it still casts the same spell.

Narcissus by Santa Maria Novella

Love at first sniff.

I bought a bottle of the "triple extract" at the original SMN shop in Florence two summers ago. They seem somehow to have captured the soul of the flower. The extract is intense, pure, direct, intoxicating. Not a trace of powder or anything extraneous. (Oddly, if the scent were a color, it would be a deep purple.) As it dries down, the indolic character of narcissus becomes more prominent.

This soliflore is complex and beautiful on its own. A joy to wear.

Miel de Bois by Serge Lutens

This was love at first sniff, during a Basenotes Boston event at Barney's. (Fellow attendees who can't wear the fragrance were jealous.) According to Tanya Sanchez (from "Perfumes: The Guide"), "Phenylacetic acid smells like honey in dilution, like urine at concentration." The rest, one might say, is skin chemistry -- which is why some are overwhelmed by what they describe as a urinous note while others are captivated by MdB.

I smell honey, wood, flowers, and even hints of nag champa. This comes terribly close to being an ideal woody oriental on me, a perfect autumn/winter fragrance that manages to combine an ethereal spiritual quality with just a hint of dirtiness. And it has staying power.

Because it tends to elicit such strong responses, pro and con, test MdB on your skin and live with it for a few hours before splurging for a bottle.

Postscript: After the scent has been on my skin for 3 hours or so, the friendly honey note turns wicked -- i.e., New York subway station in July. So disappointing.

Breath of God by Gorilla Perfume [Lush]

Only a master could blend such an unholy and unlikely combination of notes into something so bewitching.After an initial, offputting blast of mentholated joss stick underpinned by fruit, BOG settles down into smoky, woody loveliness laced with narcotic florals and lifted ever-so-slightly by the ghost of that opening minty note. The cedar and pepper are present but not overwhelming. The balance is astounding. I have never smelled anything quite like it -- and I've run the gamut of woody/smoky scents. It doesn't seem to develop dramatically over time, but is a shape-shifter in that every time you sniff, you get something a little different. It conjures up a walk in autumn through a deep forest shrouded in fog.This is a very particular fragrance: think PJ Harvey and John Parish's "Black Hearted Love."I am in love.

Une Histoire de Chypre by Aedes de Venustas

I concur with foetidus. As a chypre girl I was entranced by the green/citrus opening on a woody base, with not a trace of powder, and thought, This is promising! But within a half hour everything just began to fade away, leaving only a trace of moss. I reapplied hopefully from my sample vial, and got the same result. On paper -- and on first impression -- this seems like a chypre lover's dream. But something is missing in the chemistry of the composition; it just doesn't hold together. How disappointing.

Aperçu (new) by Houbigant

If this is a reformulation of the original, it was done in classic style, somewhat reminiscent of the premier Chypre by Coty. (I have the parfum.) Apercu is a gorgeous chypre, opening with a beautifully composed floral/green accord (if there is tuberose here I can't detect it) underpinned by soft woods and spice. Not a trace of powder, thankfully. It strikes me somehow as a scent that both the patrician Katharine Hepburn and the outre Marlene Dietrich could have worn in the '30s, yet it's also quite modern. Reminds me a bit of Tommi Sooni's Tarantella but without the fizzy aldehydes. Sophisticated and timeless.

Tarantella by Tommi Sooni

The story goes that Tarantella was inspired by a walled garden in Avignon filled with plants from southern Italy. Whatever the inspiration, this creation is a classic, beautifully composed chypre with an aldehydic, green/citrus opening and a lush floral/herbal heart on a sultry mossy, woody, and subtle leather base. (Beware if you're sensitive to aldehydes; the fizzy top notes may ruin the fragrance for you.) Tommi Sooni designed this scent for women age 25+ (be still my heart) and with the redoubtable Charlotte Rampling in mind. Like her, Tarantella is graceful and elegant but with a smoldering heart.

Narcotic V / Narcotic Venus by Nasomatto

This reminds me a bit of Carnal Flower, but without the cool, camphorous opening note and with a bit more complexity. The tuberose, jasmine, and lily accord, indolic and overtly sexual, is balanced by spices that cut the sweetness. This is a lush, womanly scent that doesn't mess around!

Soir d'Orient by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier

I got a sample of this about a year ago, just revisited it, and fell in love. The oud is up front, rising from the skin like a bitter, smoky drug. Amber and leather quickly emerge, and then the notes melt together into a mysterious, narcotic vapor. There is an underlying but understated sweetness that may be vanilla, or just further development of the amber. Although it bears a passing resemblance to other ambery scents, this one stands out as deeper, more sophisicated, and in the end just lovelier. I began a mad search for it online, only to discover that it was a limited-edition fragrance that has been discontinued. How I wish I'd bought a bottle (or three) when I had the chance! I always seem to fall for the unattainable ones. How sad to discover my HG scent after it has vanished from the earth.

Infusion d'Iris by Prada

I'm not a fan of powder, and so had my doubts about this. But it surprised me. It has both a cool, mineral austerity and a wistful, abiding depth that reminds me of L'Heure Bleu in emotional tone if not in actual olfactory similarity. Infusion d'Iris manages to be sophisticated and well mannered while hinting at something passionate and ageless. It starts out as a light slip of a thing; then incense and cedar begin to emerge and anchor the soft floral and iris notes. Quite lovely, not a mainstream fragrance, and more original and interesting than Prada's original scent.

Cozé 02 by Parfumerie Generale

I just unearthed a sample I've had for a while, was smitten, and had to order a bottle. Coze starts off spicy and slightly herbaceous, quickly cools down to a white smokiness, and lingers for hours with hints of dark chocolate and vanilla (which curiously are dry here, and not overly sweet). I don’t seek out gourmands -- most are cloying -- but Coze manages to be both restrained and seductive. Not for the shy.

Black Orchid Eau de Parfum by Tom Ford

The name is so enticing, and the reality so crass. I can appreciate many complex and "challenging" orientals, if they’re high quality and thoughtfully constructed, but this isn’t one. On first blast it has a sickly sweet gourmand, boozy, borderline rotten, sweaty animal pong. After a few moments I detect an ambery accord similar to that of the original Prada fragrance -- and then it quickly devolves into something anemic, faintly metallic, and toxic/synthetic. I have the sense that Ford was aiming for “provocative” and landed very wide of the target. Beware.

L'Eau de Jatamansi by L'Artisan Parfumeur

I haven't tried this yet, but Aedes describes it as a "spicy, aromatic iced tea blend" and a totally organic EDT, and lists the notes as follows: jatamansi, grapefruit, cardamom, clary sage, rose and ylang-ylang; Indian papyrus, incense and guaiacum.

Badgley Mischka by Badgley Mischka

To my nose this is a foodier version of the original Prada. Given the notes listed, Badgley Mischka is surprisingly cloying, offering the impression of booze, sugar, and caramel rather than fruit, flowers, and woods. I am not a fan, but can understand how others might like it. Very glad I bought a small sample before springing for a bottle.

Le Dix by Balenciaga

I wore this in the '90s and loved the wistfulness and elegance of the violet accord. A couple of years ago I bought another bottle (the EDT) and was stunned by the contrast with my remembered, cherished scent. The new version was sharp, raspy (aldehydic), more powdery, and lacking the smooth translucence of the original. (In fact, it reminded me somewhat of Chanel No. 5, whose aldehydes smell ragged and harsh on my skin.) Yet another abomination of reformulation, no doubt. A tender masterpiece destroyed.

Tolu by Ormonde Jayne

I second Ayala's review: this is warm, somewhat sweet and deep, and rather linear over the drydown -- and of course with that unmistakable Ormonde Jayne base. Has anyone else noted a striking similarity to Plus Que Jamais, which Guerlain released in 2005? PQJ may be a touch more foodie -- but otherwise these must have notes in common. Both are eminently wearable without being truly outstanding.

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