Richard James by Richard James

A less intense slightly more floral Invasion Babare - which is really odd as there's no vanilla listed in the notes. But the similarity is extraordinary. This is definitely stands up as a scent in its own right though - the Bourbon vanilla in IB can get a bit over-powering after a while whereas this is softer and more subtle.

The One Royal Night by Dolce & Gabbana

Didn't get past the opening. Oud so strong I was almost sick.

Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford

It's the quintessential smoky vanilla, but it gets a bit over powering, and there are plenty of more subtle and alternatives now that offer something a bit more interesting, be it with a more floral, spicy, or woody vibe. Hemmingway, odd fellows bouquet, eau duelle, tabac rouge, aramis tobacco reserve, pure Havane, and, of course, Herod, to name a few.

Valentino Uomo Intense by Valentino

Probably amazing if you like iris. For me it's a total turn off, even in something clearly quality like this.

Mugler Cologne by Thierry Mugler

Got to be up there as one of the best vetiver and best office fragrances around, especially for the money. Not too bitter or earthy, and nicely balanced with the bergamot and neroli. It's worth checking out a few alternatives though that each have a slightly different vibe - vetiver fatale that's less floral, colder, more metallic and more refreshing on hot days; Timbuktu that's a warmer and earthier scent, and of course Terre d'Hermes Parfum that goes in a citrus direction.

Endymion Concentré by Penhaligon's

A very clean slightly soapy soft lavender and leather - an understated classy barbershop scent but with the spiciness toned down and all hard edges removed. Performance is poor despite the ‘concentree' - would make a perfect office scent if it lasted longer but, as it is, it wouldn't see the day through.

Armani Eau d'Arômes by Giorgio Armani

I really like this. The individual notes are nothing new but the blend and balance of the different notes is really nicely and delicately done, and the result is a scent that's far greater than the sum of its parts and the note list - a warm, soft-edged almost orange-citrus-ambery accord, that's like a less dirty, warmer, less bitter Terre d'Hermes. The result is a very delightful, wearable versatile fragrance.

Gucci Guilty Intense pour Homme by Gucci

Pleasant if a little uninspiring. It's definitely got a liquid hand soap / shower gel vibe to it - clean and very wearable / fresh - I get more rose rather than neroli / white flowers (???) It's not really that ‘guilty' or knock-out ‘intense', nor does it have me constantly going back for another sniff. I think it's potentially a bit mis-marketed - as a really pleasant office cologne it's perfect so it really depends on what you're looking for.

Tam Dao Eau de Parfum by Diptyque

Fresh, woody and classy - not sweet like some sandalwoods that get drowned in vanilla or tonka. It's dry and citrusy. I get more cedar than sandalwood in the opening (that pencil shavings smell). The citrus does fade as it dries down after a couple of hours, and the woods get more intense and play more of a solo role which makes this less interesting and a bit linear. For me it's one for bright colder days going in and out of summer where the sun can bounce off the citrus but the woods and amber give it a bit of depth and warmth.

Gucci Guilty Absolute pour Homme by Gucci

A very wearable cosy leather fragrance - not ostentatious or attention seeking like Tuscan leather or Ombré Leather which can get a bit overpowering over time and are certainly too attention-seeking for more relaxed environments or the office. Even softer leathers like Heeley's Cuir Pleine Fleur can get a bit noisy, especially in warmer weather. GApH on the other hand is more subtle, closer to AdP Colonia Leather, more universally wearable. It doesn't smell radically new or innovative, but it perhaps has a place if you're after warm, inoffensive subtle scent with the richness of leather but that's not going to attract too much attention to itself. Like a smart v-neck merino sweater that you can wear to the office or with a t-shirt, that people notice but also don't. Sometimes the art is in the subtlety. Don't over spray it though!

Aramis Tobacco Reserve by Aramis

Love the slightly herbal take on tobacco vanille. Really dislike the iris (and iris in general) - it gives this a slightly thin, milky floral vibe that I'm just not a fan of. Odd Fellows Bouquet and Hemmingway are better floral alternatives but I prefer the woodsier approach of PdM's Herod.

1881 pour Homme by Cerruti

I saw the note list and got very excited by the lavendery herbal top, the black current floral middle, and sandalwoody base. But it's basically the opposite - cypress, clove, juniper and fir. It's not quite a spicy floor cleaner but not too far off. Such a disappointment!

Lavandula by Penhaligon's

Didn't get much out if this other than lavender (no herbal spicy accord, just lavender). A bit pot pouri. Fine if you like that sort of thing.

Colonia Intensa by Acqua di Parma

I tried this a while ago and again more recently. It's amazing - a perfect balance between fresh, woodsy and subtle spices that just make the woods more interesting (rather assaulting your nose and throat.) Similar ingredients go into lots of other fragrances but it's all about how they're blended and balanced. Some go too heavy on the citrus and are too light. Others go nuts on the spices. This is really classy and well balanced - reasonable performance too.

Prada Amber pour Homme Intense by Prada

A little brutal at the start - a very heady and sweet incense-honey smell. An hour in it settles into a lovely soapy and powdery faint vanilla incense that smells faintly warm and clean.

It's nice but it doesn't seem to have an obviously right season, time or occasion. It's not refreshing enough for summer. It's not sweet enough and too soapy to be sexy for evenings. Warm clean and spicy would be perfect for winter casual but it's not spicy. And the powdery amber-vanilla doesn't really work in the formal office space for me. So it ends up as nice but sort of pointless.

Boss The Scent Intense for Him by Hugo Boss

Very generic. Not really the leathery ginger it claims to be

Concentré D'Orange Verte by Hermès

Still one of the best orange fragrances around. Not too sweet, well balanced with the slight spicyness (from the patchouli?) Very clean and fresh though, but avoids those nasty aldehydes you get in many summer freshies.

1899 Ernest Hemingway by Histoires de Parfums

This is a cleaner, more floral version in the Tobacco Vanille family of fragrances (Atkinson's Old Fellows Bouquet, Eau Duelle, etc.). Most vanilla fragrances can get a bit heavy and monotonous after a while, but this is much brighter and more watery, like a sparkling vanilla champagne with the faint scent of a nearby garden wafting in on the cool nighttime breeze (probably the vetiver that keeps things fresh and light, and slightly cold.) I wouldn't say this was feminine at all. It's just more sophisticated and more gentlemanly than heavier smoker alternatives, less cloying and more interesting as it develops over time.)

It's still a second place to PdM Herod (or how I remember it - it's been a while since my decant ran out) but it's certainly a worthy lighter alternative.

English Lavender by Atkinsons

This is a very natural lavender with a hint of zest. No sweetness at all - just like squeezing a cedrat and natural lavender together. Slightly woody as it calms down but the lavender is always the star of the show.

I tried this as an alternative to l'Occitan thinking they're both billed as more natural / herbal but they couldn't be more different. L'Occitan is much better balanced and blended, richer and more complex - it does have a slightly astringent lavender opening but it mellows quickly, receding into the overall herbal accord. The other big difference is the bergamot in EL vs l'Occitan is more woodsy.

It's not that EL is a bad fragrance - it's just more of a freshy vibe, but there are fragrances that do that far better for me.

Eau de Pamplemousse Rose by Hermès

Refreshing grapefruit drying down into delicate rise. Simple but no less artful for it. Slightly feminine - not much bass - could be great in the heat.

Polo Red Extreme by Ralph Lauren

Overpowering, cloyingly sweet, and emerald pretty revolting stuff. Gives you a headache after just a couple of minutes.

Terre d'Hermès Parfum by Hermès

Fantastic - fresh but not in a fizzy, flighty summer fragrance way. There's a solidity and depth that keeps this interesting and far from the usual kitchen spray scents sporting citrus and grapefruit. It's not a sexy smell - no sweetness at all - but it's got a subtle earthiness - a glimpse of something a little darker and dirtier.

The Odd Fellow's Bouquet by Atkinsons

Intriguing name, less interesting fragrance. Very sweet vanilla tobacco (+chocolate or something like that?) Maybe the faintest hint of florals. Not particularly subtle, sophisticated or refined. More cheap pip tobacco than gentlemen's club. A bit like the inside of Grandma's handbag - Golden Virginia + Dairy Milk + residual perfume.

2 hours later: settles down into something similar to TF tobacco vanille - maybe slightly sweeter and floral. Not a huge fan of either - I prefer spicier, boozier, or smokier alternatives that offer a bit more depth and complexity. These two can get a bit cloying after a while. After a long while OFB mellows out into something not bad but there are better alternatives - eau duelle and earnest hemmingway to name a couple.

Timbuktu by L'Artisan Parfumeur

A super clean vetiver crisp fresh incense. Light and bright. A little bit woody. A little bit sour. Very unique / unusual but definitely pleasant. Difficult to imagine the right situation for it - for me, it's too fresh and not rich enough for evenings out, but it's a bit too exotic for the office - it mellows though, so I might try it a few times to see how much of a distraction it is!

Update: this stuff has really grown on me - I wear it to the office a lot. Definitely in my top 3 Vetivers along side TdHP and Vetiver Fatale (the latter is very clean and fresh and almost too metallic in colder weather which is where Timbuktu really comes into its own - clean and fresh but also with a slight spiciness and warmth). Uprating from 4 to 5.

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