Wild Gardener

Fidji by Guy Laroche

Fidji is a chypre in that pale green hue of the fifities. Banana yellow flowers and flaky salicylate give an old world innocence to this modest link between Ma Griffe and the seventies chypres. It doesn't call attention to itself, but when you do notice it, Fidji is of those scents - along with Vacances - that make the heart sing.


First Eau de Parfum by Van Cleef & Arpels

First isn't so much a pyramid as a Nile delta of notes, fanning out as it does from mandarin and peach to a multi layered masterpiece.
It starts with a quote from Roudnitska's Femme, but any sense that it's an homage to Ellena's teacher is soon put aside. The pupil doesn't follow the master but begins his own journey - which heads away from the chypre to a milky-soft floral. Sumptuously done, you may not want to wear this, but any perfume lover should try it at least once.
(In vintage, of course)


A*Men / Angel Men by Thierry Mugler

How are Angels like birds?
The males are more sombre.

This feels like Angel self-censoring, afraid to show exuberance or bright colours.


Casmir by Chopard

This is a feminine with almost no floral at all. Which means it can’t be a fruity floral, even though that’s where it seems to have its roots.
A Fruity Woody might be closer, although that leaves the large quotient of ‘plastic’ unaccounted for.
A modern, if even Post Modern fragrance ( - Post Modern: in that it doesn’t really play by the old rules) it’s an abstract scent which has a tenuous relationship with the natural world of flowers woods and fruits. And in this sense is possibly closer to No5 than many of the things that were released in the intervening 70 years.
Not having been on the scene in the early 90’s, it’s hard for me to know whether this - or Annick Menardo’s Roma Uomo came first. They both have a similar feel, which surfaces in the Narciso’s for Her. And more latterly, Dominique Ropion has visited this kind of thing on some of his more interesting works – like Peau de soie (2016).
And the feel is: partly : plastinated flowers, strange musks and sour woods, and slightly more realistically – or at least traditionally : mandarin, fruitiness and powder.
Dry.
And venomous.
These are both words that come to mind, like a pint of Snakebite in a glass of sawdust.
Which has been shrinkwrapped in industrial plastic and powdered in a ladies boudoir.
Whatever it may be, this is Not the kind of thing you would get a fashion house releasing today; they just don’t have the nerve.


B*Men by Thierry Mugler

A problem with some A*Men flankers is their lack of bouyancy, they can be heavy and ponderous.
B*Men, on the other hand, is a mix of bright fruitiness and dark woods. The acid rhubarb - which fades to a neutral fizz - makes a perfect foil for the brooding base notes.


Ténéré by Paco Rabanne

This vaguely recalls Terre d’Hermès, and – to a greater extent – 1 Million. But more than anything it feels like a woody-citrus Aftershave, a stereotyped Man Scent of grapefruit and woody spice on a weak Powdery Amber.
There’s a green apple note - which feels like retro shampoo, and that makes this rather skeletal fougère little more than a Mr Clean from the eighties.
It’s one of the lesser Paco Rabanne’s in my opinion, and when you consider how dated it is, like much of the fashion from that time, it’s not suprising to find it’s deleted from the catalogue.
If you really miss this sort of thing, try Terre d’Hermès Eau très fraîche.


Jicky Eau de Toilette by Guerlain

Putting on Jicky, always feels like being mooned by some smirking twerp, the mixture of dirty civet arse and smarmy sweet leer (and nothing in between) is both provocative and annoying.

The author of Jicky boasted that it's one of just two quality fougères (both by Guerlain) and the rest were "only fit for truck drivers". This isn't one of the best fougères in the world, but it seems to think it is, there's an air of complacent superiority about its antique aroma.

As old as the Eiffel Tower, Jicky is a relic of a bygone age. It stands in relation to today's perfumery in the same way that M. Eiffel's novelty for the Paris Expo relates to the architecture of now.

Because Jicky's structure (like the tower) is heartless (according to Roja Dove) the soaring skeleton and broad sweet base seem a bit weird when compared to a three tier pyramid. At the time, this was a radical departure from the norm, but unfortunately, this kind of skeletal super structure, plus void, plus chewy amber base can also be found in some of the most lazily constructed masculines knocking around at the bottom of the market.

Without being clad in today's shiny exterior (acid fruity floral, orange syrup / spiky wood) Jicky not only doesn't have a normal structure, it also seems rather gauche, and very old fashioned by current standards.

To be fair there's more to Jicky than that, it turns into one of the best cinnamon perfumes there is, the best part by far being the discrete, dusty, warm spicy drydown; but a tail end flourish doesn't justify the tedious dirty joke at the outset.

The biggest problem with Jicky isn't the intrusive scatology however, its the once revolutionary - and now rather suspect - empty heart, which has become tainted by its association with a boring expedient of bad perfumery.


Or Noir by Pascal Morabito

Imagine No5’s symphonic bouquet, played by a string quartet in a bare wooden room. There are some conventional textures; aldehydes, the peach of Mitsouko, and powder; and one or two interesting ones, curd cheese and the thought that somebody hasn’t washed their feet; but the flat and rather bright tonality makes the performance drag on, and with a lack of development over time I find myself bored with the same clichéd - and rather scratchy – lines repeated over and over.


Coeur de Parfum / Parfum Rare by Jacomo

Coeur de Parfum was one of a distinctive type of coriander chypre that appeared in the eighties. But, arriving late - in 1987, it was effectively the tail end of a batting order that was soon bowled out by Cool Water, the herald of the nineties. (Special mention for excellent last stand by Knowing; '88 not out.)

Cool Water (1988) set the trend for a light aquatic style that would kill the old chypre stone dead. (This lineage stems from Coriandre - 1973, and so you could say it was about time the style gave way to something else...)

You might have thought that after things like Balahé, Sinan and Paloma Picasso, there wouldn’t be much left to say. But Jacomo did their best and released this cool-toned coriander rose, set to an offbeat flowery note of dry marigold, which is supported by a powdery amber facet in the drydown.

I would say Coeur de Parfum is more competent than outstanding, but if you like the other coriander chypres, try this, it’s not bad.


Desire for a Man by Dunhill

Where some perfumes trickle down to consumer products, this one went the other way; from a
tart-fruity shower gel to fine fragrance.
As Dunhill belonged to shampoo makers Wella at the time, this seems entirely appropriate, if somewhat misguided.


Tabac Blond by Caron

If it’s true that Jacques Guerlain used Coty’s Emeraude as the template for Shalimar (1925), Coty didn’t take the moral highground for long, he went and did the same thing to Ernest Daltroff.
He took the flowers and leather of Tabac Blond,
he had Vincent Roubert tart them up with strawberry,
and he called it Knize Ten (1925).
As in the previous incident, the outcome was an improvement on the original.


Cuir Mauresque by Serge Lutens

If you make a Venn diagram of three overlapping circles, and label each one Emeraude, Knize Ten and l’Heure Bleue Eau de Parfum, this would be in the middle. It’s got the medicinal rubber and pink floral of Emeraude, the sweet gourmand and aldehyde gabardine-leather of Knize Ten, and a spangling of l’Heure Bleue.
Not wanting to pay three hundred and seventy five dollars for what’s already in my collection, I think I’ll pass.


Burberrys for Men (Original) by Burberry

A fougère from a time when the position of Western Male at the Top of the Heap was more or less assured (for better or for worse) and his perfume didn’t have to work too hard.
Burberrys for Men was released in 1981, the year that Indiana Jones ran rings round the Gestapo to secure the Holy of Holies in Raiders of the Lost Ark. But that’s not to say this is a complacent old fougère living on War Stories, there’s a piquant touch that perks it up in a most contemporary way.
1981 was the year in which the ZX81 and IBM Personal Computers were released, and the first Stealth Plane took to the air; so you can see, it was a year that was foundational in ways that were less significant than the emergence of a new style of Men’s Cologne.
But, coming back to our topic in hand.
Burberrys for Men is piquant, but it isn’t like today’s generation of savages where everything is stuffed with aggressive chemicals. It uses nothing more invasive than juniper, black pepper and some green notes.
It’s a more or less standard fougère with piquant, herbal-green, and dark woody elements, and crucially, it also uses the key anisic note of Azzaro pour Homme (1978).
It is fair to criticise Burberrys as a peppery Azzaro clone, but I find it's quite well done (even if a bit of a Powerhouse).
It’s very modern for its time and it seems to be a transition away from the late seventies fougére (which was dominated by Azzaro) and towards something more penetrating. The dark and woody-peppery style anticipates the Spiky Woods, which is still a dominant masculine trope today.
In fact I would argue it’s one of the steps on the way towards the Spiky Woods. But unlike many of today’s masculines, Burberrys has some of the urbane chic that the fougère always aimed for - but often failed to capture, and the vibrant modern feel of the Spiky Woods - but without the drawbacks.


Cavale by Fabergé

A fugue of anise : watery fennel, woody star anise, aniseed, roasted licorice; and this on a base of leather chypre.
Basically, burnt woody Azzaro pour Homme.


Clandestine by Guy Laroche

A glassy lollipop of rose hip syrup and patchouli. Very sweet, and piquant, a 'take it or leave it' scent like Parfum de Peau - its mid eighties contemporary.
Great stuff, it kicks the ass of many modern fru-chouli's but it's probably too challenging - and too dated - to get much interest these days.


Dioressence by Christian Dior

Luca Turin writes that Dioressence has been through multiple versions and rates it between four and two stars. The bottle I have isn’t the version shown in the picture above but one from 1995, a ribbed column in a blue mosaic box. The juice is an uneasy balance of resiny orange chypre and milky amber, and we all know that milk and orange juice don’t mix.


The President's Hat by Gorilla Perfume [Lush]

It hardly seems right to speak about classic Gorilla scents, but if there were such a thing, this would be it. Totally unlike their dayglo fruity concoctions of late, this is an understated marvel. A simple thing, it does sort-of smell like a well worn hat : dirty - animalic greasy felt, rubbed with castoreum. There's not much to it, but what there is is spot on, just right.
I suppose, if you like it, you'll love it. If you don't, you'll probably wonder what all the fuss is about.
Leather perfumes rarely do it for me, they often seem fake. This however, whatever it is, it's the real thing.
Chapeau bas aux Gorilla !


Sortilège by Long Lost Perfume

A clunky attempt at No5, which, by comparison to the Chanel lacks character.
It has little of the soft pink loveliness you get with No5. Instead there’s a brief strawberry-peach intro which gives way to a creamy aldehydic where the bananary note of ylang sticks out. As that fades it gets to feel gappy and rather anonymous, and the whole thing is generally short lived compared to a modern Chanel EdT.
This is a pristine Le Galion miniature, still in its box, and so in my opinion it’s not worth chasing the vintage. Perhaps the Long Lost Perfume or the 2014 version is better, I don’t know.
The truth is, if you’re going to take on the most famous perfume in the world you’d better be top drawer, and this one ain’t.


The Sexiest Scent on the Planet. Ever. (IMHO) by 4160 Tuesdays

About as sexy as your average Comme des Garçons in my opinion (but clearly she was joking).
A woody-synthetic cloud, backlit by a warm glow of vanilla and ambergris (apparently). It’s a kind of opaque minimalism, which is somewhat in the vein of French Lover but not as well crafted.


Lady Rose Lion (Monkey Unicorn) by 4160 Tuesdays

Is this La Dame à la licorne ? Or should it be Lady Bowes-Lyon, "The Unhappy Countess" ?
('An 18th-century British heiress, notorious for her licentious lifestyle' - Wikipedia)
Whoever, or whatever this is supposed to be, it’s bizarre and not too pleasant; a starchy maiden aunt wearing tweeds and a frown. It's a clash of milky woody-amber ... apple pie with too much cinnamon ... hard edged patchouli-blackcurrant.
But that’s not the worst of it, the drydown is seriously bad; a sickly, milky labdanum and patchouli thing that (slightly) turns my stomach.
One thing with doing wacky out-there designs, you’re liable to get the combinations wrong from time to time ... this is the kind of thing that results. Boerk !


The Lion Cupboard by 4160 Tuesdays

The whimsical names of Sarah McCartney’s perfumes may put some people off, which would be a shame. This one is a slightly crude but entertaining tangy fruity-woods, a bit like a punk version of Féminité du bois.

Polish is not her forté. She makes vibrant pieces full of enthusiasm, rough creations which might turn bland if they were smoothed and finessed.
It’s a question of temperament. If you watch her YouTube videos you can see McCartney’s work is an extention of her self. These are no made-to-order focus-grouped market fodder; she does what she likes, and, as a consequence, despite their technical shortcomings, 4160 scents are genuine and authentic. They are original scents that contain original ideas.
If I were wearing a scent Out-on-the-Town with the aim to drop someone’s panties (although the mechanics of that leave me entirely baffled) this would go down like a fart in a perfume shop. It’s the sort of thing I could wear to a solstice sunrise or a childs birthday party, celebratory and fun, and just a bit silly.


Baume du Doge by Eau d'Italie

Because incense and amber are basically room fragrances to me, this gives the uncanny feeling that mass has just been said in my lounge.


Eau de Lingerie by Guerlain

Air care for underwear.
According to Fragrantica, this cold pink musky iris used to be part of the Elixirs Charnels range, which cost 65 euros for 120ml.
Now it's been rebranded, and as one of the Matières Confidentielles, it goes for three times as much.
So, if you really want your knickers to smell of peachy laundered cotton, why not try one of the Infusions d'iris at a quarter of the price?


White Patchouli by Tom Ford

According to Basenotes and Fragrantica, White Patchouli is made by Givaudan.
But the sample I'm smelling is labelled Robertet.
(Disclosure : it came from a flea market in Paris - make of that what you will.)
Regardless of what it might actually be, this is a suede patchouli that would be just alright if it wasn't so bitter-sharp and chemical.

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