Top Rated Reviews - 2015

ColinM 6 years ago 19

A must!
Bentley for Men intense is ridicolously good. Breathtakingly good, the kind of good which makes you feel there’s still hope for perfumery – both niche and designer, as Intense easily stands above most of both – and it is somehow rooted into both. As other reviewers noted in fact, it brilliantly takes its inspiration from Idole de Lubin for all the exotic boozy-woody stuff, a couple of Tauer perfumes (I strongly agree with L’air du Désert Marocain reference in particular, I clearly smell almost the exact same base of tasty spicy ambroxan for a while), and Amouage’s Jubilation XXV. I would also add Gucci pour Homme I, not because of the notes (even if I get some subtle similarities) but because of a sort of common ground of dark, breezy and understated woody-incense elegance which so far, basically only Gucci pour Homme I itself was able to express at its best – and now, Bentley does it too. Intense is decidedly darker, though: it’s boozy, peppery and leathery with a genius aromatic breeze of greenish, fougère-like notes of bay leaves and a hint of cocoa-like patchouli (think Lutens’ Borneo 1834), but as for many fragrances by Nathalie Lorson, showing an irresistible sort of dusty, weightless resinous-talc texture making it smell discreet, warm, slightly sweet and extremely sophisticated. Also slightly fruity too.

And for once, the “concept” and the skills of the nose are supported by a decent budget, as this smells clearly a great quality fragrance also from the point of view of the materials. It is rich (despite being unobtrusively “thin”), deep, vibrant, it has a brilliant evolution from the sharp boozy-leathery-patchouli opening (the leather in particular is really good here for me – Amouage-like, again) to a fantastic amber-incense drydown with sweet echoes of benzoin, leather and talc. It is really mannered and refined, at the same time totally safe and versatile, almost close to skin as a proper classy scent should wear, but long lasting. My expectations were quite high given the praise by a couple of “key” reviewers for me, but it easily surpassed them, and I think Bentley and Firmenich couldn’t really do better than this. Well to cut it short I can’t say better what other reviewers already said – this is easily one of the very best fragrances of the last decade, period. Apparently the prices dropped as I paid 40 eur/100 ml on a French website, and that’s a steal for such a great fragrance.

2 Replies

ColinM 6 years ago 16

Summer keeper
Yes, this Guerlain Homme series is definitely the last great Guerlain’s series for men. While the Intense flanker is just near pure perfection, this Boisée is more contextualized into a “summer-fresh” cluster, so perhaps it’s slightly less versatile and less “fascinating” than that; but still, it perfectly keeps and even enhances some facets of the unsurpassed quality of Homme and Homme Intense. So, this is a summer scent: easily among the most sophisticated ones you can get in today’s mainstream market. The only “competitors” I would find would be either some good classics (but lacking in some “contemporary twist”) or maybe some Hermès... but while they tend to be more unisex and lighter, this Eau Boisée feels bolder and with a more decided masculine shade. The clever elegance with which Wasser kept the “masculine” rhum note giving it a summery vibe thanks to mint and herbal notes is brilliant, so is also the tremendously enjoyable vetiver grass note – which is vetiver, but with a twist; grassy, kind of anisic, slightly citrusy, irresistibly natural and bracing. I perfectly get the comparison with Terre d’Hermès and maybe there wouldn’t have been any L’Eau Boisée without that, but honestly, there’s really no game for me. L’Eau Boisée smells far more crisp, natural, invigorating and complex than Terre. There’s surely something synthetic going on here too, but to my nose this smells so bright and natural. It feels golden, and it feels stereo. And plus however there’s a couple of differences; this Boisée is grassier, greener, more peppery, slightly smokier, and with a boozy note. Utter class, utter quality, utter skills. An effortless summer gem.


GothicHeart 5 years ago 14

Deleterious dilettante...
The only thing distinguishing whether any given substance is either a poison or a remedy is the quantity taken. And the only exception to this rule I've met thus far is Dior's purple chem grenade. Warnings like "Beware! I saw Poison in her toiletries!" before visiting some girl's private chambers were not uncommon at all during its reign of terror. And I've seen many a tough guy being on the slave end of a leash as soon as they managed to get on their feet again, after being floored by Poison which had viciously bitch-slapped them to submission a few moments ago. And their mullets didn't save them. On a second thought, I believe that nothing could save them.

Although one of the most desirable traits of poisons is nontraceability, this one had none. It could be traced from two blocks away and linger like forever in the crime scene after the job was done. Had someone splashed it in 1985, it would have probably been there till the early '90s.

Poison fell like a bomb on our unsuspecting world and burned it to a cinder. The aftermath could be described with just one word. Pandemonium. For a couple of years after it entered our reality (bending it beyond repair), my small city was reeking with it 24/7, to the point of rendering almost impossible to recognise a woman's presence by her perfume anymore.
But its huge (and more than often abusive) overuse is not the reason behind considering it the most important perfume of the '80s. No, it's the fact that I can hardly imagine any other perfume from that decade deserving the title of "cornerstone" that much.
And I'm still more than eager to marry any woman who has a vintage bottle of it, along with Loulou and Byzance, on her dressing table. For these three sentinels guarding her inner sanctum would surely be an irrefutable proof that living by her side would be a perpetual roller coaster. And how could it be any different when the triptych of her woomanhood would speak through Loulou's guile innocence, Byzance's despotic dominance and Poison's mesmerising witchery?

There's not even a single thing even remotely reminding of light whenever Poison enters the stage. If you're looking for some bright and sprigthly mooded perfume, spare yourselves the shock and don't bother trying it.
Just try to imagine a tall, lithe woman, with her long raven narcotic hair being the only thing covering her alabaster body. Now put her in front of an altar made of purple marble, uttering strange arcane chants and gesturing fluidly to the void. You don't know what the crimson liquid trickling from the corner of her mouth is...
Still don't get it? Run!

Last year, my mother, who knows that I'm a perfume junkie threefold the way she was in her prime, presented me with a full 50ml splash bottle which she had been keeping for nearly 30 years. The cabochon glass stopper strummed immediately some half-forgotten '80s tune, hidden in the depths of my heart. I guess it was something coming from an era when cheap plastic gimmicks were treated exactly the way they deserved. Like cheap plastic gimmicks. Its sentimental value aside, I was expecting nothing less than it would have turned into something despicable, if not to dust. Well matey, think again! The bloody hellcat smelled as if she was vialled just yesterday! All her stupendous eminence and glory was there, completely unaltered and still hollering for obedience. And who was I to deny it?
Having not experienced Poison for over a decade, I had almost forgot the facts verifying the theory and the actions triggering the mood. Poison, the way I remember it, was never negotiable or forgiving.

Sillage? If you were standing on the Equator having just damped some and you felt a light tap on your back, you shouldn't be worried. It would be Poison having already circled the Earth.
Longevity? You could spray it on the plaque on Pioneer 10 and see how aliens would deal with it after n years.
Smell? No fancy metaphors here. It smells like Poison and that's it. Period.

Given all that, I overlook the fact that its box's malachite pattern and general layout is shamelessly stolen from Jean Couturier's Coriandre from 1973. I love malachite, and for some strange reason, if someone would ask me what colour should a poison have, I'd answer "green". So according to this abstruse linkage, Poison's box fits its content perfectly.

Aye, the '80s were surely a time when "big hair, big shoulders, big perfume" was the newfound Holy Trinity of voguish mods worldwide, but Poison's irreverent mouth was even bigger. Thus swallowing everything coming its way was rather inevitable back then. The only limited thing about it was the diction it used, since two out of three words it usually spat out were "screw" and "you". The third was always something like "sucker", "loser" or "dreg".
But I never really detested its unapologetic egotism, cause when it comes to perfumes, what we all ardently crave is not them screwing around, but screwing with our minds. And for some 30 years now, Poison still brandishes one of the biggest bloody screwdrivers I've ever seen...

jtd 6 years ago 11

Cuir de Russie
Most of what has been written on classical perfumery falls into three categories: the description, the tribute and the complaint, also known as anger passing for nostalgia.

Take Chanel no 5:

• The description: Soapy. Bubbly. Old Lady perfume. Flowery. Feminine.

• The tribute: The greatest perfume ever made. The ultimate fashion accessory of the 20th century. The perfume that launched thousand ships.

• The complaint can be sophisticated or simplistic, but the meaning is the same: something I am entitled to has been taken away from me and I'm bitter. Blame political correctness for taking animal products off the perfumers palate, blame the governmental nannies for taking away nitro musks. Wherever I point the finger, though, I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to wear this anymore.

Cuir de Russe is a seminal work from one of the acknowledged founders of contemporary perfumery, Ernest Beaux. Describing it, idolizing it or bitching about its current state doesn't seem sufficient.

So what can I say about it? It is one of the few remaining examples of the sub genre after which it was named. The Russian leathers were defined by their specific combination of the hard and the soft. Rough leather notes, typically created with great helpings of birch tar, are balanced by dry floral notes. They combined the rugged and the refined and played on the Franco-Russian mystique of the early 20th century. They conveyed the sensibility of an era where sophistication was not defined by effete finery, but by an almost swashbuckling pursuit of 'the finer things'.

Does Chanel's Cuir de Russie meet these expectations? Tough to say. Perfume's capacity to evoke a broad sensibility is a function of many factors, from accessibility and social expectation to marketing, cost and personal habit. The Russian Leathers's connotation of class and privilege was likely a smoke-and-mirrors game at the start of the 20th Century. In the second decade of the 21st it is virtually mythology, which Chanel maintain with their heritage pillars: No 5, Cuir de Russie and Bois des Isles.

Cuir de Russie must meet a two-part goal for Chanel. It must remain coherent with the image of Chanel's history yet be desirable to the buyer who doesn't know or care that the perfume has a history. This is the precipice where many vintage perfumes die. They are reformulated, whether due to materials or strategy, and they lose the buyers. Caron's strategy has been to reformulate their heritage products drastically (eg. Narcisse Noir). Vintage lovers protest that their favorite perfumes have been gutted and new younger buyers have little interest in 'old lady perfumes.’ Taking a different tack, Guerlain reissued Vega as true to its original form as possible. Buyers who didn't care about its historical significance didn't buy it and it has been discontinued.

Caron is the cautionary tale and Chanel have paid close attention. Cuir de Russie 'ain't what she used to be,' but is an exceptional perfume that is precicely calibrated for 2015. The reference to the past is apparent but the perfume isn't nostalgic in the least. Neither is it adorned with olfactory signifiers like fruit notes, lingering woody ambers or cotton candy that that would suggest a cynical attempt to trick a younger demographic. The juxtaposition of leather with flowers is the idea at the heart of both the vintage and the current formulations of Cuir de Russie. The current version focusses on the same concepts that the original did rather than try to recreate it. In emphasizing evolution and continuity Chanel have made the current Cuir de Russie what it always was: a reference point and a standard against which other perfumes are measured.

An excellent leather perfume has been evidence of quality and distinction for niche and classic houses. Robert Piguet are 'known' for Bandit, as is Heeley for Cuir Pleine Fleur and Balmain formerly was for Jolie Madame. Cuir de Russie might not be a best-seller for Chanel, but it is critical to their image and their perfume portfolio. Jacques Polge, who oversees the maintenance of the line and is responsible for its current composition, gets high marks for the deliberation and subtlety that make the contemporary Cuir de Russie an exceptional perfume.


ScentFan 6 years ago 11

Return of the Belle Eqoque
Chanel's just-released Misia is a new take on old ideas. Right away I smell the aldehydes that characterize Chanel No. 5 and, in that perfume, prevent me from wearing it. I smell a bit of the green from No. 19. The violet, iris and rose create a lipstick accord with the powder and vanilla notes. When I first smelled it at the perfume counter, I was surprised. Twice I came back to it as I browsed. I couldn't decide if it was beautiful and, if so, was it original or an imitation of something else I'd smelled. Then I realized the designer did this deliberately. Misia was a celebrated woman of the belle epoque (1871-1914) a wealthy appreciator and patroness of the arts. Multiply married, she hung out with Diaghilev and financed the Ballet Russes (and many artists). Great painters painted her, great composers dedicated their music to her. Per FROM THE LAND OF SHADOWS by Clive James, "Her taste was original, penetrating and in most cases definitive...For most of her life she was too rich to be a true bohemian, and too passionate about art to be a true representative of high society." She also knew Colette, the author who first inspired me. More importantly for us, she was a great influence on and friend of Coco Chanel (they were rumored to be lovers). This crowd lived life, much like the cutting edge creative elite and their patrons/admirers still do--fully, joyfully and (to conventional society) scandalously. Good for them (with one or two exceptions, perhaps). Ultimately I fell in love with this perfume. It's a modern version of your great great grandmother's scent if she could afford it--richly feminine but not flowery or ordinary. Since the age of 11, I've wished I was alive during the belle epoque and lived in Paris. Barring that, I'll look up a biography of Misia and read it while wearing this.

Full Disclosure: Hubby sniffed it and said it has a note that reminds him of garages where they work on old cars. He prefers London to Paris, so I ignored that. However, just in case, best test before a buy.

May 20, 2015
This has become one of my favorites. Think of the best tube of lipstick you've ever smelled. Add inspired floral notes. That's Misia.
1 Reply

ColinM 6 years ago 11

Easy to underrate
Midnight in Paris falls within that category of scents which start just wrong, but then become more than remarkable. I mean, most of the times it’s rather the contrary – scents which are good and rich at first, then easily lose the magic soon. The first minutes here are a blast of almost nauseating sweet and kind of “bread-ish” Oriental notes comprising powdery resins, almond, something like hay, a generic “clean-smoky” synthetic wood (I guess the “incense” note) and something musky-floral, with rubbery suede lying underneath. I also get the “tea” especially on the drydown, which is quite similar to the tea in Gucci pour Homme II or Tea for Two by L’Artisan. Also if you know Equistrius by Parfum d’Empire, Midnight reminded me that a bit (I guess because of hay, suede and powdery notes). But at the beginning, all of that is quite loud, quite more on the sweeter-edible side, and overall not exactly the most elegant smell around. Still, as minutes pass Midnight in Paris tames down and “tilts back” to a more pleasant balance, becoming more and more enjoyable and finally reaching a truly remarkable drydown. At this final stage – which luckily arrives quite soon – the blend focuses on a really sophisticated sort of velvety, rubbery suede-woody base with a sprinkle of Oriental powdery-gourmand notes – just a sprinkle, now. A couple of key nuances make this quite distinctive and really pleasant: suede, hay and powder (I call it “powder” but actually think more of almond and tonka; it just smells really dusty, slightly floral and kind of “feminine” as if there was some orris - precisely like powder, shortly). Classy, really “velvety”, warm and cozy, basically a sort of hybrid between Bulgari Black and Dior Homme; sweeter and brighter than Black, but darker, drier and more “grey” than the Dior’s. Give it a chance!


ColinM 6 years ago 11

Insensé is one of the many fragrances I shamefully underrated for a long time, I guess for my lack of experience and proper taste. I always misjudged this in the past, always trying it quickly from samples or decants, and always ending up in considering it only a really nice albeit a bit boring and kind of heavy sort of “overly feminine fougère”; I am really glad I grabbed a deal recently and got a small 30 ml bottle of this some days ago, so that I had the chance to wear this at its fullest and give it a proper chance. And I got, as they say, a true “epiphany” about this – from mild enthusiasm to sudden devoted worshipping. It is indeed the hyped masterpiece many rave about, and the hype is fully justified. Actually, no, it even gets way less hype than it should. For me, Insensé has now jumped straight on top of the – however limited – chart of the best floral fragrances for men ever made, because it is hands down one of the best, if not the best one ever. And easily among the best masculine offerings in general ever made. Luca Turin once mentioned two key features of this, which perfectly reflect what I also strongly felt while full wearing this the first time: “melancholy and mystery”. It is exactly how I also view Insensé: this a dramatically romantic, rich and slightly decadent scent which stunningly blends decades of masculine and feminine perfumery in an enigmatic, completely new, clever, breathtakingly creative and above all, irresistibly good unisex floral blend. Which indeed smells mysteriously “different” from anything else. Like a prism, it reflects echoes of perfumes ranging from Cristalle, to Diorella, to Caron’s 3rd Man.

The smell is complex but seamlessly beautiful: there is a rich heart symphony of green herbs and flowers refreshed by a subtle fruit-pine breeze, contrasting a deeply dark, smoky base accord of woods and aldehydes which provide “weight” and baroque gloominess to flowers and herbs. The overall feel is soapy, smoky, lightly waxy, aldehydic to the bone, floating between a nostalgic green-chypre powderiness and a fresher, more austere balsamic-woody feel of many classic fougères. Not simply a juxtaposition of different styles, just a true rewriting using selected key notes and accords from all those inspirations. It may sound simple or boring, it’s definitely not: as I said it’s truly a sort of triumphant gathering of decades of perfumery blending together to compose this incredibly handsome, unique mosaic. Distinctive, bracing and sophisticated in a quite peculiar, decadent way to say the least, probably also quite “gothic” to a certain extent: surely “not for the faint of heart”. Totally worthy the high prices. Leave that shitty niche boutique and save your money for this.


ColinM 6 years ago 10

Pointless for me to review this in detail, that's basically why I never did it before (not that anyone should care). Just go to the nearest perfume shop and experience what is, hands down, one of the greatest masterpieces of contemporary masculine perfumery. What makes this a masterpiece instead of just a really good scent? Everything. It's like listening to Rachmaninov played by your local high school orchestra, then by the Berlin Philarmonic, everything contributes to create a unique, memorable experience - the quality of the instruments, the acoustic of the hall, and obviously the players and the director. L'Instant has them all: it's luminous, classy, versatile, distinctive, delightful to smell on yourself. One of those scents you don't need to be "in the mood for" wearing, 'cause it will smell amazing and work great every time. Total quality from any point of view. This, vintage M7, Dior Homme and Rush for Men basically compose the highest almighty Olympus of post-2000 scents. A perfect blind buy and blind gift to anyone.


GothicHeart 6 years ago 10

Identity theft...
Cabotine returns home staggering, with her green hat rumpled and her hip a little bloody. Maman Gres alerted and worried asks what happened.
"I don't know. It came from behind in a blur. It bashed me violently aside, and I fell hard to the ground. Next thing I remember is someone, who I'd swear was Christian Dior, with a somewhat guilty expression on his face, helping me on my feet. I think it was green..."
Maman Gres hugs her daughter and takes a couple of sniffs on her. Her expert nose traces a whiff of something which despite resembling Cabotine's smell a lot is somehow different. She picks up the phone...
After a thorough search (which started and ended in a single sniff), the Perfume Forensics Department solved the case. It was Tendre Poison, being no Tendre at all, who sideswiped poor Cabotine and threw her in a side trench. But due to her dad's friends in high places, she finally got away with it and later became a much sought-after celebrity, while poor Cabotine never fully recovered.
3 Replies

ColinM 5 years ago 10

Easy to underrate!
My expectations for Sauvage weren’t extremely low, but neither that high for sure. I was convinced it was probably better than the undeserved skepticism it seems getting here and there from fragrance snobs, but nothing groundbreaking for sure. Now that I’ve finally snatched a sample, I must say it quite reflects the idea I had about it – and actually, it is slightly better than I expected. First of all, in broad terms, it is probably right to consider this the first “Dior’s Bleu de Chanel” (or name another fragrance like that), as the league is more or less the same; but contrary to Bleu de Chanel (and most of similar scents), besides showing a clearly better quality, Sauvage avoids any boring, pretentious, preppy middle-class mannerism and adds a subtle touch of pungent vibrancy, of “rawness” as the name suggests. It is in fact a compelling contemporary take on a classic green fougère theme, opening with a bracing, peppery, crisp green-bergamot accord with a peculiar sort of “cedrat” heart, something bitter and earthy that provides a really nice sort of musky-sour shade to the crisp, fresh leafiness of the main accord. And then there’s a subtle, yet deep base of synthetic ambergris enhanced by some generic woods – “generic” means here nothing smelling overly cheap, but surely not the greatest woody notes around.

So imagine a quite classic and apparently mannered green masculine scent centered on pepper, citrus notes and dry ambery woods with some mossy patchouli lingering below, and give it a modern shape with an exotic, and slightly sombre touch halfway “organic” and “futuristic” (thanks to the cleverly-fitting warm and “grey” note of ambroxan). I must note that Sauvage feels quite much dry throughout its evolution, which I guess may be taken as a “masculine” added value, and also shows a pleasantly nondescript sort of dark, bitter-fizzy feel with a Mediterranean vibe, which reminds me of the balmy smell of air on a cloudy day in some woodland by the sea. Quite some interesting contrasts, overall: dryness, bitterness, warmth. So, again: an office-safe scent for sure, but in no way cheap or uncreative. Nothing exciting, but nothing bad to say the least. It just offers the right tiny amount of creativity within a “pop”, crowdpleasing frame. I think Demachy did quite a nice job in creating a deceptively generic fragrance with some sparkles of dark rawness. And I also appreciate the fact Sauvage smells really simple overall, almost minimalistic composition-wise, and with no overly cheap nuances. Simply put, it smells nice and it isn’t boring at all. As hours pass the ambroxan-woody-patchouli base takes the main stage, making Sauvage smell darker, warmer, dustier, more (again, “generically” ) classy and less bitter, with also some (good!) vetiver popping out. Still quite dry but at the same time quite comforting and sophisticated.

To cut it short, I think this is a good fragrance, quite more peculiar than it may seem at a first rushed test, and I think it is fully justified for Dior to have something like this among their range. Not everything has to be creative, or flashy, or (more or less faithfully) luxury or make some “statement”. Sauvage is a quality, discreet everyday scent with a seducing dark-organic twist and a nice evolution, smooth enough to appeal classic wearers but quality enough to be worthy a sniff for everybody else, including niche-heads. And it would surely be a mistake to dismiss this too early labelling it mediocre or cheap, since it isn’t either of the two. I probably wouldn’t buy this, but I’m glad Dior introduced it.

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