The Best Perfumes made by Aramis & Designer Fragrances

RIP ADF 1994 - 2023

In 1994, Aramis - one of the Estée Lauder Companies, created a fragrance for American fashion designer, Tommy Hilfiger.

The fragrance, Tommy, became a massive hit and led to the creation of a new division of Lauder - Aramis & Designer Fragrances. This new division would look after, not only Aramis products, but also designer brands that were licensed to the company.

Donna Karan would join the stable in 1997, and later be joined by brands such as Zegna, Michael Kors and Missoni.

In 2021, Estée Lauder Companies announced that it was to shutter its Aramis & Designer Fragrances division by 2023, and last week saw the license for the brand that started it all, Tommy Hilfiger, move to GBB.

So after almost 30 years of Aramis & Designer Fragrances, let's take a look at the best fragrances they created...

Published:

50

True Star Gold
Tommy Hilfiger (2005)

True Star Gold begins with an odd citrusy scent that tiptoes on the fine line of offensively strange and exotically interesting. The other fruits--kiwi, melon, and currants--take a backseat to the linden blossom. Nice, but not worth the price of the bottle.

What makes this scent truly fabulous is the heart and the drydown. Though the linden blossom is a heart note, it arrives early and is quite mutable, allowing the lily to come forth in the loveliest manner. Not too long after the juniper settles in and does so in the softest way, making TSG a keeper. The lily and the juniper are simply and adorably whimsical and so much fun to wear.

This is the antithesis of a 'power fragrance'; where power fragrances of the 1990s made a statement about how strong, fierce, and confident the wearer was, this fruity-floral quietly whispers to the world how sweetly innocent and carefree the wearer is. (And age is completely irrelevant here--remember, the face/muse of TSG, Beyonce, is thirty). I would never wear this to work if I wanted to be taken seriously. However, this is a wonderful 't-shirt and jeans' fragrance.
exciter76
Review by exciter76

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49

DKNY My NY
Donna Karan (2014)

To me, this sort of smells like a "Diet Flowerbomb", but with more fruit. It's a very similar patchouli to Flowerbomb and La Vie Est Belle, but it lacks the overpowering strength (Which, in my opinion is a good thing, since despite liking those scents, I can never wear them without hurting my head!) There's also a little something strange or tangy in this one, that I can't quite pinpoint, perhaps it's the pink pepper. It makes it unique among other fragrances in this class, and gives it a bit of a kick.
daisyvision
Review by daisyvision

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48

Aramis Always Him
Aramis (2006)

One of my favorite summer scents. (It's always summer here!)
This one has the best lime opening I've found so far, and I LOVE lime.
Aramis Always Him gives a blissful vibe of cool breeze on a beautiful sunny day.
The lime, ginger and mint are there for a good reason. I love that it stays fresh and sparkling from the beginning till the end. Straight forward & sheer, there is nothing complicated about this scent. I love it.
Jasper
Review by Jasper

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47

Surface Skin Tonic
Aramis (2001)

They don't make them fresher than this. They also don't make this anymore. It's a shame.

Cucumber, mint, citrus and the feeling of a melon, but not the actual smell of a melon. This is the coolest scent I've ever tried. Back when I bought it, I didn't reflect on it much because I was already racing on in the search for heavier and more mysterious scents. At a certain point, you look back over your shoulder and see a few worthy aquatics like Surface and L'Eau D'Issey Pour Homme that were there along, deserving more praise.

In an overcrowded market of similar aquatic scents, Aramis Surface is definitely the needle in the haystack. If you stumble across this for a decent price, get it.
Indie_Guy
Review by Indie_Guy

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46

Havana pour Elle
Aramis (1995)

This is a very pretty fragrance, and I use that adjective purposefully in order to distinguish Havana pour Elle from the loftier and perhaps less approachable category of "beautiful." From its bright citrus opening, to its warm heart, to its sweet scintillating drydown, this is a friendly fragrance, without being any less magnetic and seductive for that: it creeps up on one in surprising ways, and lingers in memory.

I am not ordinarily a fan of fruit notes, but here they are so well done that I not only appreciate them, but understand why they are there, and how they contribute to the olfactory impression of a world filled with color, variety and joie de vivre. The honey-and-vanilla finish is like a golden wash of sunlight, seen just on the cusp of dusk: embracing, rich, radiant and full of promise.

Havana pour Elle smells nothing like its brother, Havana, but it evokes the same kind of sensory experience. I don't think it is given the attention it deserves, possibly because Havana pour Elle is so unassuming that its depths don't yield to a passing glance. Sillage is moderate, longevity long - like the smooth, inviting impression it leaves.
Bonnette
Review by Bonnette

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45

Hilfiger Est. 1985
Tommy Hilfiger (2008)

I was shocked that this fragrance wasn't a sensation on here, I received a bottle as a present and as soon as I sprayed it I knew I was in love. To me Hilfiger1985 makes a connection and I guess that is what we all strive for when trying on something new, an initial hit of Wow, a hit that makes you stop thinking and try to let the scent put you somewhere. I could wear this at any occasion and feel comfortable, like an old friend is with me. Yes to me it is that good.

The only downside is the longevity. In a way I'm glad I go against the majority here as its each to their own, it also means its connection to me will find its way back into my collection soon.
Niffty
Review by Niffty

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44

Aramis Life
Aramis (2003)

It took a while, but I really like this. It's not typical of the Aramis 'style' of men's scent and won't ever blow you away like, say, Havana would, but by stealth it has crept into my affections.

It starts fresh and fruity - the lime and spearmint are prominent, but very quickly backed up with the more floral violet and something sweeter. The violet leaves remain throughout as the dominant note, joined by woods as time passes. Typically for Aramis this lasts a full day and does develop as it dries down. Avoiding overspray is key to ensuring the sweetness does not become overpowering.

Overall this is a fruity, floral woody fragrance which works well for casual and particularly romantic occasions. A little more lime to provide an enduring tang to go with the violets and it would be immense, but as it stands it's a welcome addition to my wardrobe.
Dante
Review by Dante

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43

DKNY Men (original)
Donna Karan (2000)

My first thought when seeing this fragrance was "Cool Bottle!" The down side to it however is that it doesn't really scream practicality... I did however love the fragrance. This scent starts out with a burst of freshness that is almost eye-watering in intensity but gradually levels out into a sweet, slightly green scent that is definitely an attention getter. I did get a few comments about it as I walked down the hallways at work and all were positive. I do feel that the initial burst of 'fresh' may irritate a few sinus passages. The combination of berries, citrus and wood is not a bad combination of ingredients but i suspect that this is a fragrance that may react wildly differently on different individuals. I like the total feel of it though and give it a thumbs up!
Nick Newalani
Review by Nick Newalani

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42

Mediterranean Neroli
Ermenegildo Zegna (2015)

This is a gorgeous fragrance with the divine pairing of bergamot and neroli. And it's the sheer quality of the ingredients that is impressive. The bergamot smells like it has been freshly squeezed into the bottle coupled with the beautiful neroli.

It's a light fragrance but not too light with about average projection. I've been out and about wearing this and have been surrounded in a beautiful haze of bergamot and neroli, very beautiful.

After about ninety minutes the bergamot dissipates and the neroli becomes more sensual. It's so well blended that I cannot until the drydown detect any other notes from the neroli that now dominates.

After another hour I can start to smell woods, moss and musk though the lovely neroli still dominates. The scent though does reign itself in after this on the projection front but I can still smell it.

All in all a very beautiful light fragrance that perfectly suits the Spring/Summer months. The neroli does have extra depth but is so well blended with other notes to pin point exactly how. I'm thinking it's the jasmine that is giving it that sensual aspect but this is subjective.

The presentation is great as well with the box and bottle, this is my first fragrance with a magnetic cap. All in all a thumbs up from me. Lovely!
Jack Hunter
Review by Jack Hunter

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41

Island
Michael Kors (2005)

It's a floral, summer scent. It reminded me of tahiti, and frangipani and coconut. It's nice to smell, even in the cold, but wearing should probably be restricted to warmer weather. Being a casual scent, best to wear during the daytime. It has incredible staying power, I sprayed some on my jacket yesterday morning, and 30 hours later, the fragrance is still noticible, it is a little "warmer" and, whilst still tropical, can stand it's own on a cold day.

This perfume would be lovely to receive as a gift, or give as a gift when you don't know what someone would like, as it evokes images of tropical islands, holidays, sun, beach, relaxing, or a day spa... how can anyone not like a scent that can take you away.

That said, I couldn't buy it for myself, as it is a bit pricy for the usage I would get out of it, and not very daring.

It's pretty, beautiful, nice... but not breathtakingly spectacular. I'm giving it a thumbs up, although you could possibly find a drugstore body spray or some nicely scented suntan oil which does a simular job, because I still like the scent, and think it'll make a good gift.
S
Review by schala-kid

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40

True Star Men
Tommy Hilfiger (2005)

Very underrated, legitimate scent from Tommy Hilfiger. True Star reminds me a lot of Azzaro's Chrome, but it has a bit more pungence from the grapefruit and a nice herbal touch from the saffron.

Leaves a clean, scintillating trail that seems great for casual occasions. Moderate sillage, above skin scent yet not loud at all. Feels like a scent suited for young men in their 20's and 30's, but I as a 40-something didn't feel alienated by this gentle, fresh-aquatic-wood fragrance.

Lasts for most of the day, but it definitely fades away after many hours into skin scent mode without completely disappearing. Pleasant and enjoyable, a bit thought-provoking and able to be worn in various temperatures.
Kaizen1972
Review by Kaizen1972

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39

T for Him
Tommy Hilfiger (2001)

I love this little treasure of a scent and am flabbergasted that anyone could find anything to dislike about it. But, everyone's nose is different... I don't find it boring at all. It's unique and distinct and unlike anything else out there that they're calling "fresh". This one really is. I've never been a big fan of Hilfiger's scents. They're so middle of the road, never take a risk, yes, mostly boring. But not "T". It's clean without being soapy (although I love soapy) which is interesting since it has the infamous "freshly washed tee shirt" note. It's aldehydes all the way for this one...and the problem with aldehydes is that they can come off as cheap and synthetic and induce headaches. But here, they are done to perfection, as good as Chanel (the master (or mistress?) of aldehydes). This one makes me feel clean and cool, even in the hottest weather.
colormechris
Review by colormechris

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38

Wonderlust
Michael Kors (2016)

This is my first written review here so bear with me. This is a sweet, comforting fragrance that I got in a Christmas holiday set. I wear it everyday. The Almond Milk smells delicious to me and the perfume wears well. The perfume has always smelled friendly to me like all the Michael Kors' scents, and accessible. The base note of benzoin is what makes the friendly and accessible vanilla, incense smell.

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37

Missoni Acqua
Missoni (2007)

I'm not big on aquatics. They often strike me as being too artificial, salty or headache-inducing. Missoni Acqua, while still not my cup of tea, is one of the nicest aquatics I've managed to try.

Opening with some pleasantly refreshing citrus and melon notes, Missoni Acqua has quite a tranquil, beachy feel to it. The floral heart, while somewhat synthetic, managed to impress me with a soapiness that I rather enjoyed.

I like the Summery feel that is portrayed in this fragrance. I'm just heading into Summer now and it makes me so excited for beach season, sun hats and pina coladas.

Watery and fresh, while Missoni Acqua is not particularly complex, the simplicity works. There is a sense of cleanliness, but it's not too dominating like some aquatic scents tend to be. I liked that this fragrance focused more on the fruity aspect rather than the synthetic, oceanic quality.

It was funny how the bottle design made me think of a swimming pool, so everytime I smelt this fragrance, for some strange reason I was surprised to discover that it didn't smell like chlorine.

Some mention a pinch of sweetness in Missoni Acqua, however I disagree, the natural, juicy melon note is what gives this fragrance that quality. The lasting power is so-so, however I consider that a pleasing aspect seeming that in hot weather it's nice to refresh yourself with a few spritzes here and there.
blood-orange
Review by blood-orange

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36

DKNY Red Delicious
Donna Karan (2006)

Completely wonderful smelling, fun fragrance. My 13 year old son compliments it (and Be Delicious). Red Delicious is a definite pick-me-up that can be worn day and/or night. It smells airy and juicy, yet classy, and the bottle is adorable. I don't find this scent to be "sexy" or even particularly sensual. The overall smell is what I can describe only as "sparkling" and this must come from the champagne note. The apple note is definitely red apple, like a McIntosh; sweet and juicy. The drydown is dry vanilla bean and soft amber - warm and inviting. This is a fruity fragrance for cozy winter holidays and it makes me think of hot cider and fresh cool air.
Tovah
Review by Tovah

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35

Loud for Him
Tommy Hilfiger (2010)

Loud? LOUD?! Is TH trying to be ironic? This is one of the quietest fragrances I have ever tried! Very nicely done mind you, a little different from the norm. VERY mild patchouli and rose. Nice stuff but quiet!

Imagine a much quieter, more subtle Voleur De Roses. The rose is the most prominent note tamed by mild tobacco and patchouli. It's a grower!
CoL
Review by CoL

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34

DKNY Red Delicious Men
Donna Karan (2006)

DKNY Red Delicious is deliciously boozy.

This fragrance had the potential to be fresh and Summery, especially with the presence of apple and bergamot, however I'm rather glad that this fragrance is the complete opposite of fresh.

Red Delicious is rich, spicy and warm. This is the scent for a wild man, something that really appeals to me. The booziness originates from the rum and cognac notes, yet the spicyness from the patchouli, saffron and cardamom balances the scent out nicely.

Added notes of coffee and floral components such as iris, orchid and mandarin blossom makes for one very unique fragrance. This is certainly masculine however a daring woman wearing this fragrance is not out of the question.

I only half-heartedly agree that this is an aquatic, it does have slight watery notes, but it is nowhere near as fresh as most aquatic fragrances. The best seasons for DKNY Red Delicious would be Autumn and Spring and perhaps even Winter.

blood-orange
Review by blood-orange

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33

DKNY Men (New)
Donna Karan (2009)

Nothing short of great. The longevity and silliage are above average. The scent is similar to that of a big thick library book. Doesn't sound like something you'd want to smell like, but its just something you gotta smell before you understand. I can see how the fragrance buffs below me gave it a bad rating. Why where something like this when you're into fancy stuff like Creed? But for the average joe living in the city, the new DKNY Men is a great everyday scent. Girls seem to love it too.
Mindphlux
Review by Mindphlux

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32

Extreme Blue
Michael Kors (2015)

This is a clear headed, light but penetrating scent that is built around ambrox and cashmeran plus I think I feel some iso e super in here as well. With accessory notes of pink pepper, cardamom, juniper and cypress the character of the scent leans heavily towards a light incense or clear woods aroma. It reads clear and neutral and is a refreshing scent to wear in hot weather and surprises me at often I get strong wafts of its freshness throughout the day. This late blooming blue juice scent is one of the better fresh scents you can find on the "designer" shelves and in my opinion Extreme Blu "one ups" Escentric Molecules at their neutral synthetic woods game. Nicely done fragrance, but a boring tired name and image - Blu! really? I expected more style from a designer of Michael Kors standing. But it is an excellent fragrance for summer heat.
Buzzlepuff
Review by Buzzlepuff

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31

DKNY Be Delicious Men
Donna Karan (2004)

Maybe I'm too easily pleased but I really like this one! It's a toffee / coffee apple blend which is at once fresh and deep. This may well be a very skin-dependent frag' though judging by the polarisation of opinions that it has garnered!
D
Review by deepthought

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30

Aramis Cool Blend
Aramis (2010)

I sampled this today and was positively wowed. A modern take on an 80s powerhouse.
It is simple, yet exotic, manly yet easy on the nose. It isn't quite like the original, which can be a good thing; instead it is cool and somewhat bright yet reserved. The spices are still there, but in a very modern way. Doesn't smell like anything I can recall. Can't wait to try it durig the summer months. An ethusiastic thumbs up for being a genuinely good, wearable, no excuse frag, but also because I thought it was going to be a let down of a flanker.

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29

Very Hollywood
Michael Kors (2009)

I'm not actually certain as to why so many people dislike this fragrance. To my nose, Very Hollywood is a glamourous, feminine and delicate white floral.

There is a slight tropical element to this fragrance, possibly due to the jammy raspberry note. This fragrance is a little similar to Marc Jacobs for women, especially in regards to the strong gardenia note.

I like the creaminess that this fragrance conveys. To me this scent is smooth and divine. Its milky-creamy aspect makes this a perfect choice for white floral lovers.

I do think that this fragrance is indeed very Hollywood. Both the scent and the bottle feels very chic and extravagant.

The lasting power is amazing, lasting well into the next day. I'm impressed with this latest creation from Michael Kors.

blood-orange
Review by blood-orange

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28

Hilfiger Athletics
Tommy Hilfiger (1998)

Savage opening probably precluded it from mainstream success. It's a shame as it had niche appeal at a low price. I assume this was created by a freelance perfumer for Hilfiger's brief. Either way, it should have been taken on by a more high-end fragrance name where it may have faired better. It's sad that supply seems to have all but dried up. I will use my remaining 25ml wisely.
0
Review by 0j76

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27

Donna Karan Essence: Wenge
Donna Karan (2005)


Wenge is quite similar to Black Cashmere. It is softer… not as dark. It has the addition of labdanum, a noticeable vanilla, and more amber; in fact, with its sweet note, Wenge approaches gourmand status. The wenge (wood) note is like a sweeter sandalwood note and the sweetness has a strong transforming effect on the whole fragrance because the wenge note is there from beginning to end contributing its essence and character to the fragrance. I think the incense is a bit weaker in Wenge than in Black Cashmere and Wenge is less dramatic and more comfortable. Wenge has that heart of sweetness that escapes Black Cashmere. Whatever the differences between BC and Wenge, they both work handsomely: Wenge is another great fragrance, different enough from BC to deserve a consideration even if you own BC.

foetidus
Review by foetidus

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26

True Star
Tommy Hilfiger (2004)

I picked a bottle of this up on a whim and I don't regret it for a minute! I was browsing a TH sale, bypassed Tommy Girl which honestly, I find a little noxious and always end up with a headache when I try to wear it (though it smells great on some people) and was ready to feel similarly about True Star but to my surprise it was a completely different beast.

Shades of Issey Miyake but less instantly recognisable (but by no means less special), an advantage in my opinion, it is subtle, sensuous in a light, complex (but not astringent or ascerbic, as many complex fragrances seem to be) way.

For me, this one is about as good as it gets if you want a light fragrance that still has personality- understated, watery & softly oriental yet hints at depth (deep water?). Lovely. BIG thumbs up! Perfect for work.
miss mills
Review by miss mills

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25

Adventurer
Aramis (2014)

Clean, masculine and different than the rest in the 'fresh' genre. Don't listen to all of the negativity. This one is a beast that lasts 8 hours at the office. Smells like a vacation to Sandusky, OH in 1987 - but that is a GREAT memory for me. Definitely mischief with the absinthe, maturity with the lavender (which is a major part of this one) and adventure with the cedar. Very much like Azzaro Visit - which is another misunderstood smell.

Its got value, heart - and will make all of the negative experts on this one turn their heads...because they are too busy trying to sort out Creed batch numbers. Get it.
DaveFriday
Review by DaveFriday

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24

Mustang Cologne
Mustang (2007)

This is such a criminally underrated scent! You can detect every note, each of which folds neatly into the others to make the perfect and sophisticated blend of woods, florals, and tobacco. I challenge anyone to wear this during the Fall/Winter months and NOT receive compliments.
D
Review by dreese

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23

Eau de Prep
Tommy Hilfiger (2011)

One of the best grapefruit openings I've smelled in a long time. It's a little on the sweet side, making it not so natural smelling, but at the same time, it does possess and authentic grapefruit smell, not like candy or anything.

After 5 minutes it sweetens up, and I lose interest.. but wait.. then something magical happens. It suddenly becomes green, with a splash of patchouli. The patchouli in this (although not a listed note) is similar to that in A*Men Pure Shot/Energy. A very clean smelling patchouli.

I think it's a perfect signature fragrance. Might even throw some people off into thinking it's a high end niche fragrance. Nothing too special, aside from the amazing grapefruit up top, it's still not a fragrance that hasn't been done 100 times already. I just think this one may be notably better than all its predecessors.
The_Cologneist
Review by The_Cologneist

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22

Pure DKNY
Donna Karan (2010)


Pure in this case means white, light, flying, slightly green and barely milky and honeyed. The ugandan vanilla is one of the main ingredients but the fragrance turns out soaring and averagely sharp. Pure smells very clean and dynamic as a white dressed young joyful girl in the course of a sunny day. The blend of rose, benzoin, sandalwood and amber produces a white-woody indolic composition enriched by lazy freesia and jasmine. The other mentioned floral note is orchid that with its almost human and acid feel, transmits moderately that kind of floral gassy and powdery sultriness that makes the smell suitable for the hot sunny wheather. The synthetic feel is not overbearing. Unpretentious but not bad for your easy spring time days.
Darvant
Review by Darvant

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21

Aramis Bermuda Tonic
Aramis (2005)

Yet another amazing aquatic from Aramis. Opens with a punchy booze note which slowly dries into a very dry and almost savoury (in a good way) coconut. About two hours into the journey that coconut remains strong and in place but turns slightly sweeter (but not too sweet) as some subtle mint starts to come through. From there, Bermuda Tonic changes very little - it's actually a very simple and fairly linear scent - but that doesn't matter, because it's so good. Sillage and longevity are pretty good considering it's only supposed to be a light skin scent and, with an RRP of less than £30 for 100ml, it remains the cheapest frag in the Aramis range. The one problem with Bermuda Tonic is that, even though it is still available and not discontinued (5 years after it was released - not bad for a limited edition), online prices are starting to get silly (though you can still get it) and almost impossible to find on the high street, where it will be cheaper. If you do happen to stumble on a bottle in a high street shop, then buy it immediately because this will be the next Havana in terms of panic buying.
G
Review by great_badir

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20

Aramis Modern Leather
Aramis (2017)

The most generic of the trilogy of themed Aramis scents from recent years (the other two being Tobacco Reserve and Special Blend), although it's just nice enough to get a thumbs-up.

Given the date of release, one would be forgiven for suspecting that this would follow the vein of Tuscan Leather or Dark Rebel in the creation of a leather accord, Modern Leather has no connection to either. It's neither very modern nor very leather-y.

Modern Leather strikes me as mostly being about a watery violet, a kind of barbershoppy, more old-school Hommage a L'Homme. Violet strangely isn't listed in the note pyramid, but gives the composition a fruity touch, balanced by basil and some danker elements like patchouli, which become more dominant as it develops on skin.

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19

DKNY Be Delicious
Donna Karan (2004)

I really love this scent. It is subtle yet energetic. Not too loud or overpowering. I love the light fresh scent that lingers nicely. This is definitely an every-day scent more so than a night out. It doesn't have the excessive sweetness that some of the other DKNY scents have, and that is wonderful for me! No headache with this!
AppleJack522
Review by AppleJack522

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18

Aramis Black
Aramis (2015)

Liquid "asiatic" silence, urban elegance, smooth suede, a sort of Ulrich Lang Nightscape-like "muffled-aqueous-mystic" atmosphere, a solid "kind of minimalistic" essential scent, despite nothing actually sounding groundbreaking under my profane nose. According with my personal high consideration on the prestigious Aramis House I hardly could assert to dislike this "shady" new generation juice, anyway (as well as yet by me declared about Aramis Gentleman) the problem in here is that I don't see that quite original twist of innovation that has countersigned this pioneering brand in its gorgeous past. In this case I detect a nice and distinguished spicy-leathery "liquid"/light (moody) scent which seems an ideal combination of Cartier Declaration for men, Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme, Kiton Black (resins, cardamom, tonka, amber, vetiver etc) and La Nuit d'Issey by Issey Miyake (by introducing specific facets of each one of the previous juices). Liquid frankincense, "lemony" grapefruit, aromatic juniper berries, fluidy spices (mostly cardamom imo), mineral-breezy-salty-aqueous elements, dark casual patchouli, soft suede and vetiver. Frankly I miss the boozy touch from cognac, catching may be just hints of sweet spiciness in the middle of a woody/leathery/incensey/spicy saltiness. I get a sort of vague kind of anisic (fennel conjuring) faint undertone and a virile citric/woody simil-organic saltiness (vaguely) a la Chopard Heaven For Man. Leather gradually emerges in a more marked way in the middle zone between the central and the bottom phase (kind of velvety, shadowy, "ambiental", "fluidy" and enygmatic) and I have to finally admit that the leather touch is quite refined, salty and smooth as usual for Aramis (finally I get a minimal touch of the original Aramis's leathery woody nature but overall in a polished and cleaner way, purified from heavy oakmoss, mirtle oil, aldehydes, hesperides etc). Dry down is basically a sharp shadowy combination of vetiver, green aromatic notes, suede and liquid resins, a modern metropolitan concept of minimalism combining severe elegance and lounge bar "aseptic" refinement. A more than decent new release from Aramis.
Darvant
Review by Darvant

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17

Zegna Uomo
Ermenegildo Zegna (2013)

If you were to scoop out the fruit from a honeydew melon and leave a watery nectar on the rind, that's primarily what this smells like on my skin. There is a bit of pepper, and a nice sage note behind the melon. The overall impression makes me think of Aloe Vera, with its barely detectable "cytoplasmic" smell, and cucumber water.

If you want something with bravado, darkness, or machismo this couldn't be less like what you're after. This is like splashing your face with cold lagoon water brought to you in a hollowed out melon rind. It's fresh and mild and even a little sexy in an indirect way, insofar as it almost hints at clean nude skin.

Projection is light, which suits the simplicity and cleanliness of the scent. Also, the juice itself is fairly weak. You could easily wear two or three sprays and only be noticed by people close to you. It's a bit like an aftershave gel in that respect. It behaves extremely well on a hot day; the scent amps up a bit if you're hot and sweaty, but doesn't get cloying or "perfumey." It's refreshing.

It can be had fairly cheaply online. Lastly, the bottle has a smart, sleek look. Well worth the money you pay, unless you've already got something similar.
V
Review by valkilmer

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16

DKNY Delicious Night
Donna Karan (2007)

This is, to me, the ultimate clubbing fragrance.

It's clean yet dark and sultry. Sexy but playful. It's berries with the depth of amber and patchouli. A little incense-y but in a light, clean way.

It reminds me of a night out. You've gotten all pretty, you're sitting in a bar with some fruity girl-drink or another, about to hit the dance floor, on top of the world and loving it.

It's not very versatile though, I wouldn't wear this as an everyday frag. It just puts you in a party mood.

It does what it's supposed to very well, works perfect as a night-out scent for a young woman. It's fairly strong so don't overdo it.
I
Review by Izzie

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15

Havana Reserva
Aramis (1996)

Aramis Havana Reserva (1996) is a fascinating flanker to the original Aramis Havana (1994), even if the differences between it and the original aren't great enough to really justify a purchase outside hardcore Havana lovers. The point of Havana Reserva seems to be presenting a richer, smoother, easier take on Havana; and Lauder accomplished this by bringing in perfumer Edouard Flecher to work his magic. This is a bigger deal than some may realize, as he created both Davidoff by Davidoff (1984) and Montana Parfum d'Homme (1989), the latter of which was a really big rival to Havana in the European market alongside Roger & Gallet Homme (1985), where it was mostly found. The original Havana was the last in line of the old "smoky" tobacco fragrances that were popular in the 80's, making it odd that it appeared in the mid-90's alongside more fresh or floral tobacco stuff such as Dolce & Gabbana pour Homme (1994). The mix of smoke, rum notes, and spices with the tobacco courtesy of Nathalie Feisthauer and Xavier Renard made Havana a cult classic however. Havana Reserva has a lot in common with Flecher's Montana Parfum d'Homme too, making it something of a MK II of that scent in the eyes of some. I guess considering this was the mid-90's, some people probably thought the original Havana was too loud or "old-school", and Aramis was still trying to diversify its market away from the old guys still buying bottles of the original Aramis by Estée Lauder (1965).

Aramis Havana Reserva opens with sweeter citruses than you may expect if you know the original, with tangerine and orange mixing down with the floral tobacco Flecher seems to like using, adding jasmine and coriander to the usual Havana spice and smoke mix. This has the effect of softening these spicy smokey elements a lot, furthered by a dollop of vanilla to sweeten it up. Havana Reserva therefore becomes something of a missing link between Havana and the later Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille (2007) also produced by Lauder, although way better than the Tom Ford. Reserva is more like suits at a casino playing craps than the original's blue collar dads in Hawaiian shirts playing poker in the basement with brewskis. The rum and coke has been upgraded to Manhattans in hi-ball glasses. Wear time is roughly the same, and this is no screamer of a scent, actually having less projection than regular Havana even if roughly the same sillage is present. It seems almost like Havana Reserva was made with similar performance standards as Tuscany per Uomo Forte (1994), in that it is a more "concentrated" but not more potent mix. Differences in purpose of course exist between the flanker of Aramis Tuscany per Uomo (1984) and this flanker to Aramis Havana, even if they come from the same train of thought. Best use would be for indoor cozy time during colder seasons snuggling with someone close, or where the original Havana may seem impolite with its brusque nature, and you absolutely need your fix.

Nowadays we'd just call something like Havana Reserva an eau de parfum and just be done with it (maybe Havana Parfum d'Homme is too on the nose); but these were the days when guys would turn pale if you tried sticking anything but "cologne" or "eau de toilette pour Homme" on bottles, since "p words" like "parfum" meant it was for (eww) girls. I like Reserva a lot, but seeing how limited this was back then, and how much more crazy rare it is now that its limited production has long since been ceased, I don't see a point to owning it outside of collecting. Good (older) bottles of Montana Parfum d'Homme made by Montana or Selection Beauté are going to remain cheaper than this no matter how long its been since both were out of production, so never will there come a time where this Edouard Flecher creation becomes a better value than the one its arguably based on. Still, Aramis Havana Reserva is a nice treat if you have the coin, and a kinder/gentler Havana isn't something anyone asked for, but also something a fan wouldn't turn away either. Once again, I must emphasize that the similarities between Havana and Havana Reserva far outweight any differences, so if you don't directly smell them side-by-side, you could miss the plot and be left with an expensive bottle you need to flip, especially since Havana proper was re-issued and is much easier to find. If you're a die-hard tobacco fragrance fan with a crush on Havana, then chances are you already love this, and probably own backups. Thumbs up
Varanis Ridari
Review by Varanis Ridari

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14

Tommy
Tommy Hilfiger (1994)

Yeah, it smells a little cheap and thin but this is one of the best time machines in fragrance for me. I didn't even wear Tommy in the 90's but this does take me right back to that time. The bluegrass note in it is probably the main nostalgia driver for me since there was a similar note in Michael Jordan cologne, something I did wear in the 90's and was in abundance around me at that time, having worked at a store that sold it.

It's casual, youthful and cooling. Very decent stuff and still smells nice today.

Projection is not bad during the first couple hours and then it still hangs around a little better than skin scent for 4-5 hours.
speedracer
Review by speedracer

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13

DKNY Women
Donna Karan (1999)

Beautiful fizzy pop soda that smells like an avant garde concept. This literally bristles with humour and intelligence. I would say though that this is nothing like L'Eau D' Issey because it avoids the tiresome Calone note that defined the 90's. Excellent!
M
Review by mikey_p

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12

Tommy Girl
Tommy Hilfiger (1996)

This perfume is an absolutely beautiful, feminine fruity-floral! In his book "The A-Z Guide to Perfume" Turin says that this fragrance was inspired by the scents of flavored teas, and I can totally see that! I am a huge fan of a lot of flavored and specialty teas, and many of the loose leaf varieties have scents that are similar to what you smell in "Tommy Girl." It is, overall, a very sparkling, bright, sweet, fruity, flowery, pretty, delicate, feminine and refreshing scent! I would definitely buy a bottle of this perfume, and I would wear it all the time! It is, quite simply, a fragrance that gives off a lot of positive vibes! I have nothing bad to say about it at all! If there is anything to criticize though, it would be that "Tommy Girl" is a very light scent that doesn't have great longevity. It is definitely one that you'll probably need to reapply throughout the day, as the scent does fade a bit fast. I first tested this one from the actual bottle they had at one Tommy Hilfiger store I visited. But, by the time I got home the scent had disappeared, and I couldn't recall anything I wanted to sat about it! So, I finally got a sample, and was able to write this review as I sit here smelling the perfume on my wrist! :) So, yes, this is definitely a lighter scent, but that makes it a great recommendation for anyone who is looking for a great every day perfume, or one that's appropriate to wear to the office or to a job interview. This perfume is definitely a great choice, especially since it also smells so pleasant that I think it should put everyone in a good mood all day! :)

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11

Perfume Calligraphy
Aramis (2012)

Perfume Calligraphy is an abstract expressionist tableau of crisply drawn scent lines made of lemon, cardamom, saffron/ rose and oud woods with a sweet oriental perfume base. A calligraphy of perfume - good name! This is a provocative and mysterious fragrance that is very appropriate for man or woman. It wears like a scarf woven of swirling paisley and smoke ribbons colored with lemon, roses, saffron, oud and amber musk. The lemon and myrrh are a contrast with the saffron and roses. The rose lightly introduces the oud which spreads out through a warm amber slightly animalic base. Perfume Calligraphy is a fragrance that seems to swirl around as if it were ephemeral smoke. The fragrance notes are lightly applied keeping it away from the big bold oud pathway taken by so many. This fragrance travels a more delicate road through a 1001 Nights Tale of mystery, romance and intrigue. Perhaps the only negative about the fragrance is it is very light in intensity, and after the first hour Perfume Calligraphy calms to a gentle presence that hangs around for 4 hours or so, before becoming a very quiet skin scent presence.
Buzzlepuff
Review by Buzzlepuff

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10

Michael Kors for Men
Michael Kors (2014)

Fans of the 2001 original version - “Michael” - will enjoy this update as the DNA is still there minus the powerhouse longevity and projection.

The prominent tobacco note is toned down and blended right in the middle of the juice with a dash of spicy pepper, a smooth suede and a mild sweetness from the sandalwood. If you are familiar with the differences between Polo Green and Polo Modern Reserve, this is essentially the same re-composition. Tone down the tobacco and add sueded leather.

Or, if the original is a pint of Guinness with a shot of Jameson, then this one is a chilled Harp Lager. What, you didn't know Michael Kors was Irish!?

IMO, the Michael Kors men's line gets a bad rap when in fact the juice is well blended with original compositions compared to other designers offerings. The simple blocky rectangle bottle design and less than creative flanker line (EXTREME!!!) probably don't help much. Give it a sniff anyway...

4 stars.

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9

Donna Karan Gold
Donna Karan (2006)

Donna Karan Gold is one of only a handful of mainstream releases in the past 10 years or so that to my nose packs the kind of bold olfactory punch that used to be associated with classical perfumery and those whoppers of the 1980s and early 1990s. Not to say that it smells retro–it is in fact thoroughly modern, even a little strange.

Maybe that's because in addition to the standard progression through top, middle, and bottom notes, Gold also manages the neat trick of completely changing its personality mid-stream, while still keeping lily as its dominant note. It doesn't dry down so much as it changes its mind, morphing about midway through from a cool, crisp, almost hyper-real interpretation bordering on the vegetal into an amber-ey floriental interwoven with spices, vanilla, and warm woods.

Of course, something this wonderful was doomed to eventually get the ax, although there's plenty of the stuff to be had at all the usual online sites. The EDP, housed in what is likewise one of the more gorgeous perfume bottles in recent years, is the stuff you want to look for.
PerfumePorMoi
Review by PerfumePorMoi

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8

Missoni (2006 version)
Missoni (2006)

Genre: Floral Oriental

Missoni opens with a buxom honeyed fruit note that's rescued from triviality by a judicious helping of …bittersweet chocolate. I can just imagine perfumer Maurice Roucel deciding to show off his brilliance by taking up the fruity floral cliché that now dominates the realm of mass market women's fragrances, and through virtuosic sleight-of-hand transforming it into something original and beautiful. This grand initial flourish left me curious as to what might follow, and if Roucel could possibly sustain the act. As it happens, the next episode is a cool, bright, yet paradoxically indolic/animalic floral accord that's at the same time both heady and refreshing. Meanwhile, the fruit takes on an exotic, tropical character as it recedes a few steps to further expose the floral blend. The honey and dark chocolate march on steadily beneath it all.

With its tropical fruit and blossoms, Missoni brings to mind Estee Lauder's Beyond Paradise, but Missoni is a richer, weightier scent. Where Beyond Paradise has hints of green aquatics in its background, Missoni rests on what smells like a trimmed down oriental amber base, and where Beyond Paradise is cool, abstracted, and ethereal, Missoni seems comparatively warm, grounded, and organic. Fruity floral oriental is how I'd sum up Missoni, and I enjoy it for the fact that it avoids on one hand the ponderous, opaque gourmand style, and on the other the crude, excessively cheerful banality that typifies the modern fruity floral. Nice.
Way Off Scenter
Review by Way Off Scenter

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7

Tuscany per Uomo Forte
Aramis (1994)

Released ten years after the arrival of Aramis Tuscany per Uomo (1984), Tuscany per Uomo Forte takes Tuscany in a darker, denser, greener direction. This shift makes the scent less immediately distinctive, so this is less of a lost masterpiece and more of an also-ran powerhouse masculine, but the craftsmanship is impeccable so there's still plenty to admire here.

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6

Perfume Calligraphy Saffron
Aramis (2013)

The opening is a mix of bergamot in the background and saffron in the foreground. It is a rich and voluptuous saffron, and not the dry saffron I get in Comptoir Sud Pacifique's Sultan Safran for instance. A nice dyad of top notes, with the bergamot adding brightness.

The drydown sees the development of a lavender and, more predominantly, that if a rose impression. The rose is quite rich, fairly dark and is imbued with a raisinous styrax undertone. The base adds a somewhat restrained tonka, but overall the sweetness expressed in the creation is quite balanced and never richly sweet, intrusive or cloying.

I get moderate sillage, very good projection and ten hours of longevity on my skin.

This scent for cooler spring evenings is quite original in its concept, and whilst clearly dominated by synthetic ingredients is never too overtly annoyingly artificial. The saffron nites is well done. 3.25/5.
rbaker
Review by rbaker

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5

Aramis Tobacco Reserve
Aramis (2018)

Tobacco. Does not smell anything like Aramis. This is much better. It does not smell like Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille. It as a well balanced, molded fragrance. Pipe tobacco, Tonka, sage in the opening. Tonka is often a fragrance killer for me, and while it is present and focused, it doesn't seem garish. Its really an herbal aromatic fragrance to me. As it dries in the mid I do get the iris (orris), but this doesn't have any of the knockout beauty or effemination that can come with it. Here it's use is more textural, giving the fragrance a smoother background creamy butter effect. Longevity was good, projection average. Ideal fragrance performance in my opinion. This is a really good fragrance. I dismissed it because it was made by Aramis, don't.

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4

Perfume Calligraphy Rose
Aramis (2013)

Bold top notes. Spiced. Slight herbal vibe. Gorgeous honeysuckle. Rose moves in moments later. This, is one of the best rose perfumes in my collection... The amber toned sweetness of myrrh and labdanum, blended with the styrax makes this a modern oriental. Lavender lies underneath. It's not too strong - more of a close-to-the-skin thing.

Then, you have a beautiful, warm yet creamy base note combination that embodies the middle or far east. Personally, I think this amazing! One of my favorites.

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3

Pretty Much Everything in the Zegna Essenze range

We kinda cheated here. If we'd have listed these individually they would have taken up pretty much all of the top ten fragrances bar #1 and #2.

The top Essenze scents in question...

Reviewed below is Indonesian Oud.

Indonesian Oud opens with just an extremely brief hint of near-transparent unidentifiable citrus before quickly transitioning to its early heart. As the composition enters its heart the citrus completely disappears as the starring Oud enters the picture. The Oud is slightly peppery and very medicinal with traces of supporting earthy patchouli and airy light rose never overshadowing it. During the late dry-down the development stays quite linear with the Oud and rose remaining. As time passes the rose gains strength reaching near-parity with the Oud that eschews its earlier potency and medicinal qualities, with relatively dry supporting amber joining the effective co-stars through the finish. Projection is excellent to outstanding, as is longevity at well over 12 hours on skin.

Indonesian Oud was another one of the Zegna private Essenze collection winners sniffed on my recent vacation in Las Vegas at their boutique, taking the "runner up" slot to the masterpiece caliber Javanese Patchouli. During its brief trial on skin there I thought the rose played a more prominent role early, but now having worn the composition a few times the Oud is definitely much more the star than I initially thought and in fact is the focal note for most of the composition's highly linear development. Only relatively late in the dry-down does the rose become more assertive (or maybe its the Oud quieting down, allowing it a more prominent role) with only dry amber adding a new dimension towards the finish. The Oud is near-certainly synthetic, but this classic Oud/Rose/Patch composition is quite well put-together by perfumer Jacques Cavallier, distinguishing itself by keeping the Oud at the fore. One minor item of interest is Zegna mentions in all its literature surrounding the Essenze collection that the compositions all feature Italian bergamot. I suppose the opening citrus could indeed be bergamot derived, but quite frankly it was so brief and transparent that it really was forgettable and superfluous. If this was the same bergamot that played such a major role in the stellar Javanese Patchouli I am dumbfounded... I guess it will have to remain one of the great mysteries... The bottom line is the $195 per 125ml bottle Indonesian Oud represents nothing new, is quite linear and likely features synthetic Oud, but the overall presentation is nicely done with some really amazing performance metrics, earning it a "very good" to "excellent" 3.5 to 4 stars out of 5 and a solid recommendation to all.
drseid
Review by drseid
2

Black Cashmere
Donna Karan (2002)

At times (winter, in the evening only) this scent is absolute magic. Exotic, dry wood (like you've never smelled before in a perfume), incense, silk, candle-illuminated tents in a desert camp, completely un-inhibited heart. I can crawl into a cacoon with this and feel completed, or sip deep red, thick, rich wine and bask in the glow of a fire and someone's gaze, wearing this. Snowy evenings, leaves of past, dark, warm, exiting.
pomander
Review by pomander

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1

Havana
Aramis (1994)

Havana is the first scent I loved so much that I purchased a back up. It's currently such a great deal as part of the 'Gentlemen's Collection' that I couldn't resist considering it's held in the $20 range from the major online discounters. Don't judge this masterpiece based on the opening, which is kind of a mess. There are a lot of notes listed but the middle bay rum that rides through till the base of tobacco and woodiness may be the most prominent notes. I was thinking that having a 'bay rum' fragrance in my collection would be a good idea and this totally covers that and more. In the long run this could sneak into my top 10. As long as the price holds(I don't think it will) it is a blind buy as I guarantee there are plenty of basenote-ers that will take it, me included. BTW, this is not one of those scents to wear once, freak out over the opening and post a trash review. Get to know this fragrance and fall in love. Viva Havana! Thumbs up!
ScentSensei
Review by ScentSensei

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