Top Rated Reviews - 2014

jtd 7 years ago 14

new role
Rose is a flower in the same way that sandalwood is a wood, and vanilla is a spice. Each is so definitive of its category, that it supersedes the classification. With this star quality rose tends to be difficult to hide. The only reason this predicament isn't a problem is that nobody wants to hide the rose.

But if you are a perfumer, there is another nagging problem with the rose: the Beauty Dilemma. The scent of rose is beautiful. So what? What do you do with it? After the the soliflor, the rose chypre, the bouquet, the amber-rose, the rose-oud, the thorny rose--what do you do? Lyric Woman finds a new role for rose and it's not just the same schtick with a different costume and a new score. Rose isn't the star. In Lyric, rose is the narrator.

Lyric has an awful lot packed into it, yet it doesn't come off as overburdened. The Rose serves to temper the experience from the fireworks of bergamot in the topnotes through the spicy heart to the resinous-rose finale. The rose mediates the huge cast of other notes, and the perfume feels lighter than you would expect. No less potent, just not so demanding. The basenotes are a pleasant surprise. The rose-frankincense pairing apparent from the very start of the perfume remains to the end, but there's a savory, nutty quality as well that suggests sandalwood or saffron. Exciting ride, soft landing.

From a land of a multi-millennial tradition of rose-incense pairings come this little twist. We've seen all the ingredients before, but it's a new recipe.

from scenthurdle.com

jtd 7 years ago 14

the road not taken
Two fascinating moments in perfumery happened within a few years of each other. They are the “road not taken” moments. When Thierry Mugler’s Angel hit the scene, women’s perfumery was changed irrevocably. Florals, chypres, traditional orientals were instantly ancien régime. It was a classic paradigm shift, an overthrow of the old order. The floral survived by evolving into Fruity Florals, Orientals were diminished and became Gourmands, Chypres, god help us all, became outlaws and now are effectively black market commodities.

The specifics of how the men’s market changed in the 1980s differ in some respects from the changes in the feminine market, but the parallels and simultaneity of the changes make the similarities more important than the differences. Davidoff Cool Water was the masculine counterpart to Angel.

To say the aromatic fougère was supplanted by the aquatic fougère doesn’t sound like much, but the the newer, more tailored aromatic fougères had just started to surpass the dominance of the 70s big boys like Paco Rabanne Pour Homme and Azzaro Pour Homme. It was the greatest height of the fougère since the release of Fougère Royale in 1882. Musky fougères (YSL Kouros, Paco Rabanne Ténéré, Dior Jules) floral fougères (Caron’s Troisième Homme, Xeryus) spiced fougères (YSL Jazz, Jacomo Anthracite, Laroche Drakkar Noir) were taking the genre in exciting new directions. The fougère is structurally tied to both the oriental (tonka, balsam) and the chypre (oakmoss and coumarin tethering more effusive floral and spiced notes). It is an inherently rich genre and many perfumers were using the fougère structure to find new ideas. It’s worth considering that Michael Edward’s, the most authoritative figure in the nomenclature of perfumery, placed the fougère at the center of the wheel he created as a visual analogy for categorizing perfumes. It is the ur-perfume.

There were still a few great aromatic fougères produced, such as Partick by Patrick of Ireland (1999) a fougère in the chypre direction, and YSL Rive Gauche pour Homme (2003), but for the most part, after the advent of of Cool Water (1988) the aquatic fougère ruled with an iron fist. Dyhydromyrcenol made for the creation of fougères that would have the volume of the best fougère from the 1970s, but lacked the complexity and therefore matched the feminine counterparts that were becoming ever louder, ever simpler fruity florals and candied gourmands. Feminism’s effect on perfumery changed or waned, depending on your perspective, and the empowered feminines like Aromtics Elixir, Scherrer de Scherrer, Dior Diorella, YSL Rive Gauche became ‘Old Lady Perfumes’. Hypergender became a stylistic norm, and countless straight couples could be spotted on the town: her, with hair three feet high and rising dosed with Poison or Angel; him with slicked back hair drenched in Cool Water.

I am sad over the loss of the pre-1988 aromatic fougère. It was just about to take off into some great places. Let’s not forget that these perfume were also the basic blue-print for the 1980’s mens’ power frag. Take a fougère, exchange the lavender for some more spicy elements, and freeze-dry the wood. Voila! Krizia Uomo, Chanel Antaeus, Patou pour Homme. Sometimes the player of a group known for largesse is the one to go for. Scherrer de Scherrer, a chypre that could give Aromatics Elixir a black eye is my go to green/leather chypre. Xeryus has some of that well-dressed thug appeal, seeming more like a perfume for Craig’s Bond than Moore’s. Or perhaps Dench’s M.

Xeryus is becoming on you in the way it allows to you swagger a bit. It lends authority. It’s a remarkably detailed perfume that tells you not to sweat the details. It has a vaguely threatening edge at the same time it lets you be a pretty boy. Great combo of attributes. Definitely a perfume to play with.
1 Reply

PuchyBlack 7 years ago 13
10
Scent
10
Longevity
7.5
Sillage
7.5
Bottle

"Son of a Bit*h"
For man, true, mysterious, sensual, captivating, manly and fragile at the same,but still keeps this note masculine characters to say " I'm here, feel me, approach to me and falls under my spell without turning you .. ."
A quintessence that is eaten on her man for hours so you get lost in it ... Seducer's perfume par excellence, elixir of Love, of character, where passion collide as the effluvia shots Lightning ... YSL has succeeded, hats Down!
PS:True story. I have a female friend when she smell it, Her nipples instantly get hard...

jtd 7 years ago 12

daily-wear
Perfumer Stéphanie Bakouche, 2007

I'm all for dismissing gender entirely in perfume.  Or at least fucking with it.  It’s been noted that men and women relate differently to their fragrances if they wear only one ("The One").  For women it's The Signature Perfume.  For men it's merely Old Faithful.  The implication is that women are notable for their desire to be noticed, to stand out while men are simply creatures of habit;  that women want a screamer like Dior Poison and men will wear only [insert brand] eau de cologne. This set of assumptions is both limiting and false.  Still, Old Faithful does point to an odd set of circumstances that has lead to some outstanding men's fragrances. (See The Masculine Chypre.)

There are loads of women's perfumes that I can imagine as The One.  Clinique Aromatics Elixir.  Lauder Private Collection. Robert Piguet Futur. Cuir de Lancome.  Amouage Jubilation 25.  Parfums de Nicolai Odalisque.  There are also all the Edmond Roudnitska unisex perfumes (unisex by public acclamation if not by marketing): Dior Eau Sauvage, Diorella, Frederic Malle Parfum de Thérèse. These perfumes, while gorgeous and complex, are conceptually easy for women to wear.  

The One for men, and there are surprisingly many of them, have a more complicated set of goals to fulfill. They need to meet the needs of the male ego.  They must balance individuality with group affiliation and the need to be noticed with the inability to ask for help.  They balance the complications and fragility of masculinity on the fulcrum of beauty. (See Masculine Fragrances for Men.)

The relationship of The One to beauty is complex for men. The fragrance must be attractive from all angles, from start to finish yet not imply femininity or homosexuality.   And despite my vocabulary, it must never be referred to as either perfume or beautiful.  (Cologne and handsome will suffice.)  Its beauty must be recognized instantaneously yet appreciated over the course of years.  These perfumes tend to become classics over the years even if they were initially unconventional.  They lead the way.  Examples are Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel, Aramis by Aramis (granted, a version of the 'feminine'  Gres Cabochard), Old Spice, Guerlain Habit Rouge, Caron Pour un Homme, Chanel Antaeus. Many if not most of the 20th century French men's chypres (Chanel, Givenchy, Rochas...) and fougères (Hermes, Azzaro, Paco Rabanne...) make the grade. 

To my mind there are really only three.  They are flawless, unmatched and I would happily wear any of them forever.  Guerlain Vetiver, Knize Ten, Andy Tauer l'Air du Desert Marocain. Well, make that four. I’ve been wearing  Parfum MDCI Invasion Barbare.

Invasion Barbare's apparent simplicity belies it's breathtaking beauty. It alludes to other genres, the fougère, the oriental, even the woody floral, but smells original.  Its grapefruit and bergamot notes harmonize with lavender and give lift.  The cedar and violet leaf notes add a pitched, quietly hissy quality.  A daily-wear perfume in addition to its other tasks, must also be comfortable, a quality typically associated with warmth and a roundedness.  Invasion Barbare nixes this expectation and stays crisp 12 hours later.   

An odd aromatherapeutic property of lavender is that it is both stimulating and sedative.  Invasion Barbare functions similarly and suits all the tones and moods of a day.  It is graceful.  Is there really any other criterion for a perfume you’d wear every day?
2 Replies

Belgwen 7 years ago 12
10
Scent
7.5
Longevity
5
Sillage
7.5
Bottle

The Special Place in My Heart
My family owned and operated a restaurant named "Bosfor" that was located right on the Bosphorus for over 50 years. Standing upon round blocks buried deep into the sea, it was surrounded by water on three sides, had a splendid view of the canal, the dark blue waves that rose and splashed against its windows, and the glorious sunsets of the Marmara Sea that conjured images of pure magic when I was growing up. My mom says that countless folks including many international celebrities over the years have patronized our restaurant and enjoyed our delicious food. It was eventually demolished by the merciless local government due to refurbishment of the old western side of the city. To me however, the Bosphorus and that restaurant will always have an irreplaceable place in my heart. Besides the standard steak, chicken, and seafood dishes that come out of most professional kitchens, we also served traditional deserts that my parents said many people came from all over the world specifically to sample. One of them was our famous, fresh made lokum, which our pastry chef made with a secret ingredient he never shared with anyone, not even my parents! I remember it being so much different than any of the lokums that you could buy in the stores. Though it was thick and chewy to the point sticking to your teeth, it made up for that little inconvenience by hitting your tongue with the right amount of sweet & savory that was to die for.

Traversée du Bosphore captures that lokum of my childhood perfectly. The hint of a pink flower, the powder, and the gel-like consistency... The pure creative genius of Bertrand Duchaufour is evident when you look at the notes pyramid and notice that instead of the traditional rose + vanilla + heliotrope to form the powdery notes, he took an unconventional route by combining iris and pink fruity notes to capture the flavor of a powdery confection. The leather, I believe, was added here to reflect the rubbery quality of lokum rather than to make a statement of virile sensuality. It was a most fruitful choice, because of all the lokum fragrances I've ever tried, this composition is the only one that gave me that impression so accurately. Lasting power is around 8 hours on my skin. Although in no way could this be described as a skin scent, the sillage is fairly close throughout its lifespan. I can only picture Mr. Duchaufour taking a bite out of a piece of lokum when he was traveling through Istanbul and being moved enough to want to go straight back to his laboratory to recreate that delicious sensation. Well, they don’t call them “Turkish Delight” for nothing! :) I recommend this fragrance not only because it is an exemplary mature gourmand, but also for the travel-lovers out there who might just be vicariously transported to the same time and place of my childhood and that of the nose behind it.

Mr. Duchaufour: Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for helping me relive my memories with this precious elixir.
6 Replies

ScentFan 7 years ago 12
10
Scent
7.5
Longevity
7.5
Sillage
10
Bottle

Smelling Like a Potentate
If I had to explain to a space alien what perfume is, I'd hand over a bottle of Bal à Versailles. Learning Jean Desprez created three versions to be worn at once, I hunted them down. The tall one was a gift I’ll always treasure—the famous EdT flacon. Not wanting to open it yet, I obtained a smaller version. Now I can simultaneously wear the vintage Parfum, EdT and EdC as Desprez intended. Surely he designed it with potentates, rock stars, multibillionaires in mind, wanting its wearers to be as drenched in the glories of scent as they were in the glories of life. I can’t imagine what garden Jean Desprez got his flowers from because these are regal blooms, blended to create an instantly hypnotic, luxurious, and indolic powerhouse of jasmine, rose, and orange blossom at first, brightened with neroli, bergamot and other citruses — cassia and rosemary keeping the mix from going over the edge. Soon the heart kicks in with patchouli and sandalwood, primarily. Other florals enter, Vetiver adding sophistication. Sultry amber, musk and civet anchor the base, with balsam, vanilla and cedarwood playing supporting roles. Yet, individual notes don’t stay prominent in awareness. They become a symphony. And this is just the parfum. Put all three on my arm and Deprez’s magic is revealed. BaV becomes complex, intriguing, unpeggable, unique. I understand why this was Michael Jackson’s signature scent, why Liz Taylor adored it. Little chance of walking up to most department store fragrance counters and leaving smelling like this. I’m glad to have discovered it later in life, after learning it’s okay to do as we please, including smelling like a potentate not only at the opera, but at the supermarket, too.

p.s. This applies to the vintages. The new version is pure swill, IMO.
2 Replies

ScentFan 7 years ago 12
10
Scent
10
Longevity
10
Sillage

A Unicorn
When I first sniffed my sample of L'Heure Bleue I was so startled I closed the vial and lay it by the edge of my keyboard where I could peep at it now and then, much as one would hide behind a tree and peep if suddenly come upon a unicorn. I simply couldn't believe it. Many days later, I tried it again and, once more, couldn't believe it. None of the listed notes can account for this extravagant smell, much like the words horse, white and horn can't create a mythic animal. Bergamot is just bergamot and violet violet, after all. L'Heure Bleue, for me, is actual magic. And I'm talking the current version. I wore it when I remarried my guy. When it's time to die, I hope I'll be wearing either Bal à Versailles, Vikt, Jeke or this. Very hard to be analytical about this fragrance, but I'll try. The intense heart of carnation and neroli blasts up into the top note next to bergamot as if a sudden, opulent masquerade ball broke out in your living room. Vanilla is strong from the start, but there's simply got to be more to this fragrance than this. There must be a little musk from Sita's deer in the Ramayana, or perhaps amber from the golden tears of the daughters of the sun, crying over their brother Phaethon's grave. Sigh. (So much for analytical.) I tried to purchase a vintage version but ended up with a used bottle of what smelled like cherry syrup. Will try again at some point because I hear the original is even better than this, if that's possible. In short, I wasn't sure if I'd love or hate L'Heure Bleue on first sniff. I just kept peeping at it now and then until I realized this unicorn is real.
4 Replies

Greysolon 7 years ago 12
10
Scent
7.5
Longevity
7.5
Sillage

A cult amber
Over the past few weeks I’ve been struggling to write a review of Ambra Nera. But this luxurious fragrance has so many facets I wasn’t able to cobble together a coherent train of thought. Tune your nose to any aspect of this little known gem and it becomes a completely different experience. With that, I decided to throw in the towel and simply list my impressions of Ambra Nera as bullet points:

-If you’re looking for a gourmand amber…
Ambra Nera has an opulent, intoxicating vanilla accord. And I mean intoxicating. I often wear Ambra Nera like a shot of vanilla valium when I want to relax. I smell that deep, incense tinged vanilla and all physical tension evaporates in a swirling amber cloud.

-If you’re looking for an unusual animalic amber…
Ambra Nera has a warm, sweet, yet understated animalic accord. I’m guessing it’s a sweet castor essence. Whatever it is, when I wear Ambra Nera I often have the impression of being enrobed in a warm, luxurious fur. If you’ve ever smelled a mink coat you’ll know what I mean.

-If you’re looking for an amber perfume with an usual note that fits harmoniously with the rest of the perfume…
Ambra Nera is fairly sweet but that’s balanced by a camphorous eucalyptus note. It’s far from prominent but it keeps this voluptuous fragrance open and vaporous as well as providing a touch of overall contrast. Without it, Ambra Nera would tip over into syrupy sweet. Also, I occasionally experience the eucalyptus in concert with the resinous base notes which gives an impression of sweet terpenes found in oil varnishes.

-If you’re looking for an amber incense without the intrusion of an acrid smoke note …
Ambra Nera is tinged with an understated, incense smokiness that balances perfectly with the rest of the fragrance. Tune your nose the right way and the incense notes produce that "medieval church accord" so many people enjoy. In that sense, there is an aura about this perfume that makes me imagine it was created from a very old formula; like it actually dates back to the founding of Farmacia Santissima Annunziata in 1561. Of course, it’s not that old, but there is something of an old soul to Ambra Nera.

-If you’re looking for an amber that will be a distinctive, individual fragrance…
The Swedish website Parfumistan’s Blogg calls Ambra Nera a “cult amber.” In a way, I hope it maintains its cult status. After all, isn’t it nice to find a little known fragrance that conveys something unique about your personality? Since ambers have become so ubiquitous (yes, Sherapop is absolutely right, amber fragrances should be a separate genre) it’s nice to find one that is distinctive and remains a bit of a secret. Every amber lover should try Ambra Nera. Well, maybe not too many of you…
5 Replies

Coutureguru 7 years ago 12
8
Scent

L'Original in pure perfume ...
Having bobbed and weaved around actually purchasing this fragrance for ages, I recently ordered a 7.5ml extrait for peanuts from an online discounter. The EDT version always struck me as being too weak for my perfume munching skin, although I really liked the smell, Rose fanatic that I am. The extrait is just perfect!

ombré |?äm?br?|
adjective
(of a fabric) having a dyed, printed, or woven design in which the color is graduated from light to dark.
ORIGIN French, past participle of ombrer ‘to shade.’ (Online Dictionary)

Ombre Rose L'Original comes across exactly as the name suggests, shaded Roses. What starts off as rosebuds eventually culminates in full blooms, powdery and velvety in their pillowy softness. The note pyramid here seems unnecessarily cluttered … I get mostly classic Rose, lots of powder in a natural way (unlike some of the chemical powder horrors I've had my nose on recently … I'm looking at you Teint de Neige) … some Orris and touches of a woody base a long way in. The feeling is almost as if a large bowl of different shades of pink Roses had been placed in a warm, but secluded area … subtle but radiating nonetheless!
The extrait version is smooth and rounded, none of the jagged edges I experience with the opening of the EDT. I cannot be sure of the percentage per volume as it is not listed on the packaging, but it lasts about 5 hours on my skin, projecting smoothly for two hours or so before becoming more intimate. I get beautiful little powdery wafts of Ombre Rose L'Original as many as 8 hours in, especially when I stick my nose down the front of my shirt.
If one doesn't respond to classic fragrances then I would give this a miss. Some people are going to label this fragrance dated, but I love the retro way it smells … it appeals to memories of my colonial upbringing. Ombre Rose L'Original is terribly romantic in a Merchant Ivory 'Room with a View' sort of way. It harks back to a time long before the 80's in which it was first produced.

I shouldn't be able to wear this but I do, garnering lots of compliments now, when 20 years ago eyebrows would have been raised. How things have changed!! Perhaps it has more to do with my own attitude regarding myself and less to do with the way I fear others perceive me.

If one wants to experience true romanticism, Ombre Rose L'Original in extrait formulation is definitely the way to go.
5 Replies

jtd 7 years ago 12

following the perfumer, not the perfume line
Fortunately, you don't spritz on a marketing campaign. You spritz perfume. Set aside the nouvelle orientalism of the Ford 'Atelier d'Orient' collection. But do smell Plum Japonais if you get the chance.

More than most fruits, the plum is about the relationship of the skin and the flesh of the fruit. A thin, intensely acidic skin layer is the first taste of the plum as you pierce the skin with your teeth, but the rush of sweet flesh overwhelms the tartness quickly as you continue to bite. In your mouth, the experience reverses and the sweetness washes away as the meat of the fruit gets swallowed, leaving the skin and its sharpness. Tart, sweet, tart. Each bite is a little opera.

The salty, acidic slap of the pickled umeboshi plum is one of my favorite tastes. The experience is huge and invigorating. It’s the gustatory equivalent of jumping out of a sauna and into the snow. Plum Japonais plays with these fluctuating facets of the plum and makes a woody-plum perfume that is both bold and nuanced. Plum could be a thorny note, given that Edmond Roudnitska claimed the plum as his own with the brilliant Rochas Femme. The reformulation of Femme, with cumin standing in for no longer available animalic elements, kept the plum alive and in the chypre territory. Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake used the plum as the starting place for a wholely new fruited-wood amber genre. Feminité du Bois and its successors have claimed the rights to a plum-cedar empire. Any perfumer hoping to make a principally plum-scented fragrance cannot help but see some big shoes.

Perfumer Yann Vasnier takes the plum into new territory with Plum Japonais. The previous pairings, plum/moss in Femme and plum/cedar in Feminité du Bois, were enormously successful and so is Vanier’s. He matches plum with a fir note, making a sweet and syrupy perfume that doesn’t fall into the gourmand trap. I’ve seen oud, spices and all sorts of things listed in the notes for Plum Japonais, but the overall effect is a sweet, cool woody tone similar to that in Fille en Aiguilles. (Take that, Sheldrake!) In both cases you can embrace the sweetness without reservation and never fear falling into a dessert. Even with notes of cardamom and cinnamon, the perfume still leans more toward the Christmas tree than the dessert table.

Vasnier creates a dynamic similar to the tart-sweetness of eating a plum by focussing on the tensions between spiced sweetness and cold balsamic resinousness. And he manages to do it without stealing from either Roudnitska or Sheldrake. This alone is remarkable. Plum Japonais has an unrestrained opening that is appropriate for a fruity fragrance, but settles comfortably into a dusty wooded-fruit balance that remains strong but close to the skin. The drydown is spectacular, more poised than tempting, and is would be a great treat to reconsider on your wrist at the end of a long day.

(I'm just being introduced to perfumer Yann Vasnier's work and am enjoying it tremendously. Can't wait to try more.)

from scenthurdle.com