Mitsouko Eau de Parfum by Guerlain

For me the best way to enjoy Mitsouko, whether vintage or current formulation, is to wear the extract. It's the smoothest, prettiest version of this peachy chypre and it won't leave you scratching your head like some of the other incarnations can. The challenge of the EDP and EDT comes from that distinct “peach skin” accord of the opening notes. It's an abstraction, an idea of a natural smell recreated with persicol, oakmoss and other chemicals that will have varied reactions. Some swear they smell a photorealistic peach plucked from the tree. Others like myself smell something both bitter and shrill, like champagne laced with strychnine. But the extract is different. It's for Goldilocks. Somehow the peach comes off sweeter and golden, like it is linked to the milky warmth of sandalwood in the basenotes. This Mitsouko is the one that immediately validates her status as legendary because she is such a timeless, unique and addictive concoction with layers of interest and complexity. It is easy to imagine a person of 1919, 1960, 1989...etc. being faithful to this bottle and wishing that it never change. That isn't to say the EDP and EDT don't have their own devotees, but it will depend upon how you react to that opening accord. When people talk about classic perfumery, French-style, abstract composition, they're talking about Mitsouko. It's the reference chypre, the Mona Lisa of Grasse. The unlikely to be pretty Bergamot, Patchouli, Cistus and Oakmoss accord tinted and Guerlain-ified with fruit and flowers. A perfectly judged, impossible to duplicate, enduring, mysterious masterpiece.

Jafra Private Reserve by Jafra

The bottle pictured is incorrect. JF9 is a 2012 masculine that may or may not have anything in common with the 1980 classic “Private Reserve” (I've never tried JF9 Red or Green, both have a “Private Reserve” label). Anyway, the original Private Reserve was a delicious classic masculine in the Azzaro pour Homme mold. It had a fabulous, warm sillage that filled the room with the scent of a well groomed, tan-skinned hunk of a man. Like a barbershop in Madrid.

Archetipo by Mendittorosa

Incense/aquatic scent. Very natural to my nose. A must try for fans of frankincense and its' cooler, piney facets. Linear and well-blended. It takes me to a volcanic island where hot rocks are steaming on the coastline as cool, salty waves crash upon the shore.

Armani Privé Bois d'Encens by Giorgio Armani

Safe bet for fans of incense. Definitely doesn't shy away from showing it's synthetic-smelling mechanics, but they combine with piney, churchy frankincense for an amped up, long-lasting, arid, fuzzy incense extravagnza for a good 6-8 hours. Fits into the genre with Avignon, Full Incense, Lavs etc. but I have found it to be the most satisfying for an incense fix. I recently gutted my perfume collection to narrow it down to favorite essentials and Bois d'Encens isn't going anywhere, it'll be on my shelf for the rest of my life.

Wonderful and Strange Trio : The Red Room by House of Matriarch

CEDAR! Like a cedar closet, but warmer and sexier if that makes any sense. My least fave of the trio but good nonetheless, especially on cold November nights.

Wonderful and Strange Trio : Future's Past by House of Matriarch

My second fave of the trio. Its a green, wet, piney thing. Still, something slightly ominous and dark in there like a night in the woods. Has deceptive sillage. Before reaching for another spray, ask people around you. You possibly already stink to high heaven to their noses.

Wonderful and Strange Trio : World of Blue by House of Matriarch

My fave of the three. Beurre d'iris and heliotrope! Softly sweet but natural and organic-feeling. Feminine with an otherworldly, angelic vibe. Kind of like Laura Palmer herself.

Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens

Simply the best! An iris for iris lovers. Take everything you know about iris in perfume and throw it away because that was all child's play. This here smells like you stabbed the soil with your bare hands and dug up a buried rhizome in the garden. It's moist, sweet, metallic and a touch disturbing. But alas it is also dry, doughy, and like the breath of an angel. Sillage is close to the skin but it's the kind of somber and beautiful grey day scent that you want to sit close. I love this stuff. I am on my second bottle and it just feels feels right to me. My brain just must be receptive to these notes. Some people loathe ISM and I do not doubt their sincerity. But some people, myself included, can't live without it.

Iris 39 by Le Labo

This is my “sunny” iris. It has nothing in common with my fave Iris Silver Mist, in fact it's the opposite of ISM. However, instead of hating it I love it. It's very Southern California, very Abbot Kinney/cement trapezoid succulent planter. And even though I am not the basic b*tch that would fit this description, I happen to enjoy the way she smells: The iris comes across as a buttery hue of yellow that shines across the whole composition of creamy sandlwood aroma cut by tart lime and ginger. It's got that milky yet slightly tart vibe of Santal 33 and it reminds me of drinking orange tea with cream added. In essence it smells young, modern and liberated from familar gender associations. I do recommend wearing on a sunny breezey day for full effect.

Olibanum by Profumum

Love at first sniff. Alot like Rock Crystal but just a hair better balanced, simpler. And this came first anyway. It's a beautiful light and transparent frankincense frag. Just a tiny bit of white floral to send it flying and the tiniest bit of sweetness of myrrh to help it land. Problem is I go through it too quick like water.

Bois d'Ascèse by Naomi Goodsir

Just the magic of a cool fall crisp evening by the fire in a bottle. Everything here comes together to bring up memories of fall. Leather boots, dead leaves, bonfire smoke. Beautiful. Goes well with Chene by Serge Lutens.

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