Perry Ellis Night by Perry Ellis

I cannot understand what this fragrance has to do with "Night." There is not even the slightest hint of anything dark or mysterious about it. It's very pleasant and fresh, and I like it on a warm spring or summer day. It's mostly about the citrus, with the other notes acting as anchors to make the citrus last longer than it would otherwise, but not really asserting their own identities.

Thumbs up for the fragrance, but thumbs down for the ad wizards who put it in an opaque black bottle and decided to call it "Night." Foo!

cK one by Calvin Klein

I don't actually consider CK One to be a fragrance. To me it's more of an after-shower refresher (not unlike 4711, which famously marketed itself as "the refreshant cologne" for many years). On my skin it's barely detectable after ten minutes --- which is fine, because then I can apply a real fragrance with some staying power, if I'm so inclined.

As a fragrance, it's too bland and unobjectionable to dislike. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, "there's no 'there' there." On a hot day or after a shower --- sure, but again, it doesn't last, and doesn't really smell like anything except a generic "fresh" for a few minutes.

Pi by Givenchy

Although it's not listed in the notes here, there is a very distinct coconut note shortly after the opening top notes begin to fade into the mid-notes, and it lingers well into the drydown. Whether this is intentional, or a by-product of how the other notes interact, it is quite unmistakable, and helps prevent Pi from being just another vanilla-amber scent. It works surprisingly well in warm weather, without smelling like suntan lotion.

Poison by Christian Dior

My first experience of Poison was at my sister's wedding reception in the 80's. One of her friends walked by, and I was immediately intoxicated by the rich, fruity, floral, ambery and potent scent. I had to ask what she was wearing, and ever since, Poison has been one of my favorite perfumes for women. It radiates confidence, sensuality and sex in a deliciously voluptuous way. It's mysterious and captivating and mature --- not for young girls or the office! For me it conjures up dark velvet curtains, purple and wine-colored cushions with everything moving in slow motion --- every second to be savored.

The musical parallel I get is the Arabian Dance from Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker," or something slow and sultry by Cassandra Wilson ... maybe a deep midnight raga played on shehnai.

St Johns Indian Gold by West Indies Bay Company

Indian Gold is clearly a Canoe wannabe. It has a slightly different composition and is a bit more concentrated and longer lasting, but has the same basic DNA as Canoe, with topnotes of lavender, citrus and clary sage, midnotes of carnation, geranium, spices and woods, and basenotes of vanilla and musk.

Fred Hayman's Touch is a more recent example of this formula. It's a classic scent and well-executed, but not original enough to rank highly.

Other members of the family include Jade East, Brut, Pinaud's Clubman and Nine Flags: Luxembourg - Meadow Grass.

McGregor by Fabergé

Anyone who misses McGregor should try Sung Homme. I have compared them on opposite hands several times and the progressions are virtually identical, although Sung Homme lasts a bit longer.

Camp Beverly Hills for Men is also very similar, but also discontinued.

Ho Hang by Balenciaga

Ho Hang opens with a light citrus freshness reminiscent of Monsieur Givenchy or original Armani Eau Pour Homme. As it unfolds, the cedar, rosewood and geranium appear, adding a dry woody complexity without overpowering the citrus. On my skin it lasts all day, but in a subtle and unobtrusive way.

This is a classy gentleman's scent if there ever was one, and also a wonderful "time capsule" of an aesthetic that seems to have passed out of existence these days.

Phileas by Nina Ricci

Named for Phileas Fogg, the hero of Jules Verne's 1873 novel "Around the World in 80 Days" (played by David Niven in the classic 1956 film), the intent was to create a fragrance using ingredients from all six continents (since nothing much grows in Antarctica, only the other six were included.)

The ingredient list is complex, but the overall effect is classy and refined, and tends more toward the dry herbal than the sweet balsamic Orientals. There is something elegantly Victorian about it, yet modern as well. It might be the perfect fragrance for Steampunks, since it styles itself as a bridge between the antique and the modern.

Silky Rose by Jovan

Despite the "Rose" in the name, this scent is more along the lines of cotton candy-soda pop-bubblegum apparently being marketed to teenage girls and pre-teens. Weak, fades quickly and zero sophistication or interest for anyone over the age of 14.

Façonnable Eau de Toilette for Men / Façonnable by Façonnable

If copyright laws applied to fragrances in a similar way to music or literature, Faconnable would owe royalties to both Cool Water (75%) and Calvin Klein's Eternity for Men (25%).

I get hardly anything that isn't already present in those two. Nothing remotely original, though pleasant enough.

Cellini by Fabergé

Faberge's Cellini is the progenitor of Tuscany --- the resemblance is startling. Dry citrus, culinary herbs like oregano, thyme and rosemary, and a warm, ambery base. It definitely conjures up a sunny day in the Italian countryside.

Nine Flags: Italy - Dry Citrus may have started the lineage in the mid-sixties --- the family resemblance is unmistakable.


Red for Men by Giorgio Beverly Hills

According to some Basenotes reviewers, EVERYTHING is a fougere. I think some folks just like the sound of the word "fougere" but don't really understand what it means. A fougere scent is built on a foundation of lavender, coumarin (tonka bean) and oakmoss. Without those three prominent notes, a fragrance is not a fougere.

If there ever was a NOT fougere scent, Red for Men is it. Chypre all the way, folks! The topnotes of cumin and artemisia harken to such leathery chypre classics as Aramis, That Man and Quorum, and the patchouli and oakmoss at the base are hallmarks of chypre scents as well. In between are carnation, spices, green and wood notes. This is a brash and bold scent that reminds me of the red leather suit Eddie Murphy wore in his stand-up film "Raw." It grabs your attention immediately and refuses to let go.

Dunhill for Men by Dunhill

Dunhill for Men was launched in 1934, and to me it conjures up an elegant, swanky and sophisticated gentleman who doesn't take himself too seriously. Think William Powell as Nick Charles in the "Thin Man" movies. If it were music, it would be something by Cole Porter or perhaps Duke Ellington. Definitely the Art Deco era, and definitely more city than country.

They don't make 'em like this anymore, so its an olfactory trip back in time to a more genteel era - refined, rich, and classy.

Nine Flags: Germany - Live Oak by Colton

Germany - Live Oak is my favorite of the original Nine Flags, and I've never come across anything else that smells quite like it. It's a woody chypre with an opening blast of freshness that reminds me of a morning walk in the forest, with sunlight filtered through the trees. Bergamot and lime are present in the opening, with vetiver, oakmoss and black forest pine, along with sandalwood, cedar, patchouli and musk. The play between the fresh and earthy notes is what I find especially enjoyable and unique. Eau Sauvage and Terre d'Hermes both have it too, but in a very different way.

Umbra by Ramon Monegal

Meh. It's pleasant enough, but smells like a million other things out there (CK One, for example). And certainly not worth $185 for 50 ml. Citrus oils are among the least expensive fragrance ingredients, and vetiver and pepper are also not especially rare or pricey.

There are many other similar fragrances that are both less expensive and more distinctive and memorable.

Maxim's pour Homme by Maxim's

Maxim's (I have the original formula) is a paradox. It's clearly a modern fougere with oriental elements, but it somehow conjures up an earlier more genteel time. The Art Nouveau packaging enhances this aura of La Belle Epoch, and the scent brings to mind images of Paris around the turn of the twentieth century. I can imagine sitting in a Parisian cafe seeing posters by Alfons Mucha and Toulouse-Lautrec ... hearing music by Debussy, Faure and Ravel ... watching the passers-by in their finery.

Elegant, complex, smooth and refined are all words I'd use to describe the scent of Maxim's, and it's one I still wear regularly.

C'est Magique Homme by Kesling

I don't know about "Magique," but it is certainly an imitation of Eternity for Men. It has less sillage and projection, but very similar structure, and is pleasantly balanced. Nice enough, but not very original.

Nine Flags: Italy - Dry Citrus by Colton

Nine Flags: Italy - Dry Citrus is the Godfather of a whole dynasty of scents, including Faberge's Cellini, original Adidas for men, Calvin, Tuscany/Etruscan, Bally, and others, and while it is more of a chypre, some classic fougeres (Azzaro Pour Homme, for example) are clearly descended from it as well.

The top notes are bright and crisp bergamot and lemon, with perhaps some lime, grapefruit and mandarin. Mid-notes include rosemary and oregano, perhaps a touch of thyme, basil and carnation, and the base is smooth vetiver, amber and musk. One online source mentions sage and cognac as base components as well. As its name implies, the scent is dry, not sweet, with a freshness that is very different from modern-day "fresh" or aquatic scents. It's great on warm sunny days or sultry summer evenings, and to me conjures up images of Italy in the 60's --- something that could easily have been worn by Marcello Mastroianni in "La Dolce Vita."

It's more of a casual and informal scent, but with some strength and sophistication to it as well. Molto bene!

Stetson Black by Stetson

A weaker imitation of Dior's Fahrenheit. No more, no less.

KL Homme by Lagerfeld

KL Homme is a spicy oriental, and to me smells mostly like a sweeter, more amber-y, less spicy version of Pierre Cardin Pour Homme. It's smooth and rich, quite concentrated, and elegant. I get the similarites with JHL, but KL Homme is a bit lighter, with the carnation and geranium prominent in the heart. The aldehydes in the opening are front and center, but blended nicely with the citrus and lavender, rendering the whole effect quite natural rather than synthetic. To my nose, Pierre Cardin is more pleasing, but KL has its charm too.

H & R's Guide lists the notes as:

Top: Lemon, bergamot, rosewood, lavender, orange, aldehyde
Middle: Carnation, jasmine, geranium, fern, cinnamon, rose, patchouli, sandalwood, cedarwood
Base: Vanilla, benzoin, olibanum, musk, amber, civet

Nightflight by Joop!

Cool Water and Calvin Klein's Eternity for Men have had many children together, and this is another. The opening is very reminiscent of Cool Water; as it dries down the Eternity DNA becomes more apparent.

Fresh and pleasant, but not particularly distinctive or memorable.

Adolfo for Men by Frances Denney

H&R's Fragrance Guide from 1989 classified Adolfo as a "Coniferous Chypre" along with Polo, Xeryus and Drakkar Noir but many in that group seem to have been more recently reclassified as Fougeres. To me Adolfo has none of the hallmarks of a fougere (the classic lavender/tonka interplay), with a fresh opening, a mellow spicy-woody heart, and a subtly rich base. The opening to me has always smelled like pineapple, although it is not listed in the pyramid, which is as follows:

Top: Bergamot, galbanum, artemisia, lemon, green note, juniper
Middle: Carnation, cinnamon, thyme, pine, jasmine, rose
Base: Patchouli, olibanum, leather, labdanum, moss, amber, musk

Adolfo is distinctive and subtle, by no means a powerhouse, although it is a product of the 80's, and while it doesn't last in memory the way some of its compatriots do, it's still quite pleasant and worth wearing from time to time.

Terre d'Hermès by Hermès

Love, love, love it!!! This is the first fragrance I've tried in at least a decade that I loved immediately and like more every time I wear it. The balance of fresh and "dirty", and the transition from the sparkly opening to the warm, sultry base is just spectacular. It smells like nothing else I've come across, and works really well with my skin.

I came across it while Christmas shopping one evening, and could still detect traces the next morning --- knew I had to have it, but the prices were prohibitive. Fortunately I found an EdT mini with shower gel for less than $20 online, and it has joined the ranks of my top 5 favorites, along with Eau Sauvage, Guerlain's Vetiver, and Armani Pour Homme (the 5th spot rotates between Halston Z-14, Cacharel Pour Homme, Bijan, and Monsieur Balmain).

I believe Terre d'Hermes could become a modern classic. Can the era of bland aquatics be making way for bold and distinctive scents again? Bravissimo to Hermes and Jean-Claude Ellena!

Iron by Coty

A pleasant, mild spicy lavender oriental. Not a powerhouse by any means --- and not even in the same family as Preferred Stock, which is a tangy chypre with prominent pimento and pepper notes. Iron is more akin to other spicy lavender scents of the late 80's like Matchabelli's Hero or Atkinson's Rockford --- and it even has some similarities with British Sterling (even the metallic name), which is very likely one of Iron's inspirations and forbears.

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