ColinMColinM's Perfume Reviews

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05/22/2016
3 Awards
A drastically unimpressive sort of herbal-woody-fresh & musky suede-infused designer mishmash, a sort of fruity “neo-fougère” ideally between Cerruti Essence and Canali Style, just fruitier. Surely, as other reviewers mentioned already, the fruity-ozonic head accord paired with suede and that whole musky-woody foundation echoes Grès Cabaret Homme a bit too, given the nose is also the same, but well... Canali contains too much musky plastic to be realistically compared to that. I mean literally – take all those notes, and wrap them in plastic, that’s how Canali Men smells. Cabaret smells maybe a bit more conservative, but way crisper, bolder and overall much better made than Canali (and it’s way cheaper than that).

I admit that the touch of pineapple (or whatever that head aromachemicals are intended to evoke) works fine with the musky-suede accord though, creating a sort of poor man’s Aventus-like feel in a cheaper disguise (and that says it all, since Aventus isn’t exactly Patou pour Homme). But that’s however a very minor positive nuance of an otherwise desperately dull concoction – which besides being flat and weak from the very beginning, is also ridicolously short-lived. Desperately lacking in anything making it worth even just a third of its current collector’s prices.

4,5/10


05/21/2016
2 Awards
Christine Nagel at her finest, no surprise she’s been chosen to inherit Ellena’s throne. A charming whiff of sophisticated, mellow, androgynous, hyper-modern, clean yet somehow “mysterious” and moody spiced Oriental orange-infused woods. This is Oud & Bergamot by Jo Malone, a refined, minimalist, very well conceived experiment around the contrast between the aromatic, luscious smokiness of oud and cedar (and suede, I think), and the graceful, pastel, zesty and slightly floral touches of bergamot and citrus, with a hint of cinnamon-like touch of sweet – just as in Fendi Theorema for women, also composed by Nagel. All done with an amazingly well-engineered weightless texture taken to the very extreme – basically, pure thin scented air. It feels like a perfect olfactive rendition of some abstract watercolour featuring harmonic drops and brush strokes of pale orange, pale brown, pale black. All smells even, smooth, airy and pale, yet totally “there” under your nose. It’s like smelling a linen shirt previously sprayed with a hypothetical “true” substantial version of Oud & Bergamot – this is how the actual Oud & Bergamot smells. It’s there, and yet it isn’t. Like the suspended memory of a scent, more than an actual scent, and yet it’s there materializing under your nose. Fascinating to say the least. And it’s all done so terribly right, as all notes manage to smell crisp, smooth and clear, yet subtle.

The scent is very simple actually, basically a fairly linear and “white-ish” sort of musky-suede rendition of (synthetic) oud and cedar tinted with some orange and cinnamon. It’s the way Nagel made it that makes it so special. It takes some guts and skills to take these notes and turn them into an impalpable whiff of watercolour mist (I mean, it takes some guts to do it right and not end up with an ephemeral fart of a constipated princess). More than compelling and more than a scent, a little piece of minimalist art. Obviously not a “bomb”, very subtle but quite persistent, more than one may assume: somehow you smell it around yourself for hours and hours even if it seems disappearing from your skin soon. This close to smelling just dull and weak – and maybe it is, and I’m just overestimating it – but I find it just lovely.

8-8,5/10


05/12/2016
3 Awards
Unlike its Creed’s namesake sibling, which is all about “royal” with zero oud, Royal Aoud by Montale contains a ton of (synthetic) oud with a very little dose of “royalty”. In fact, like most of other scents by this brand, it isn’t exactly the most refined or “luxurious” scent around; but I admit I do see the efforts of making something a bit more sophisticated than their average standards. Also, contrary to many other more recent ouds by Montale which contain the same exact flat accord of mostly dry cedar with a weak oud-like shadow, Royal Aoud seems belonging to their “slightly-closer-to-reality” family of ouds – the nicer and more quality ones. Don’t get me wrong, oud here is still artificial to the bone, but it’s quite substantial, and it shows some complex, even nearly-natural-smelling nuances: the note smells in fact medicinal, compellingly woody, slightly “fecal” too at the beginning, quite robust and dirty, with a solid earthy-oily foundation just like real agarwood. Shortly it’s not just a slap of depressingly linear and shallow dry-cedary rubber, and that’s already something with Montale. So far, I got some “good imitation oud” only out of White Aoud and Aoud Cuir d’Arabie – and now, Royal Aoud.

Also, it’s surely enjoyable how they chose to pair it with an initial solid whiff of clean, bracing citrus, and a sort of floral-resinous, slightly candied base accord, which sweetens and tames down the acrid, medicinal-dirty nature of the oud note, finally revealing a quite pleasant, comforting musky-soapy rose heart with a classic British “barbershop” vibe (an association also enhanced by the presence of citrus). There’s even quite some evolution as hours pass: from a sharp, bitter, dark and quite bold citrus-oud opening to a mellow, powdery, clean yet somehow a bit stale “whiter” rose-medicinal drydown still bearing some light fruity-grassy echoes of citrus, reminding me a bit of White Aoud’s drydown (less sweet and plushy, still musky-vanillic but a bit fresher, darker, greener and more austere). That’s quite a transition overall, which is another evidence of the above-the-average quality of this fragrance - compared with other Montale’s, I mean.

Nothing to break the bank for, but more than nice to wear and also quite “easy” to pull off. Kudos!

7/10


05/10/2016
5 Awards
Encre Noire à L’Extreme opens indeed as an “extreme” version of Encre Noire, where “extreme” is to be intended as more powerful, rougher, drier, more woody, somehow more “mature”, a bit more dirty, and ultimately with some more “oomph” than that. It doesn’t smell particularly “natural”, and I guess that’s part of the concept, but surely it does have something crisper, rootier, earthier if compared to the round, and kind of muted synthetic “inkiness” of classic Encre Noire. It’s also quite woodier, thanks to cypriol and to some more cedar. Be reminded I’m talking about nuances, the main bone structure of Extreme is still clearly Encre Noire – nothing dramatically different. But still, especially (and sadly, only) during the early stages, there is indeed enough differences to make this Extreme stand on its own. It smells basically like Encre Noire briefly drenched in wet balsamic woods (cypress) and dusted with pencil shavings and incense ashes, almost making it resemble to a sort of a lighter, drier, more cedar/incense-oriented version of Jovoy’s Private Label (Encre Noire à l’Extreme is nothing remotely that complex or intriguing, but there’s some slight connections) infused with a drop of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Timbuktu (again – not hinting that the quality is the same; just a matter of superficial similarities between notes, especially some sort of similar “papery cypress” feel). Finally, just mix that with Montana’s Graphite kind of “freshly cut dry cedar”, and here’s this Extreme flanker of Encre Noire.

Now, despite the first minutes seemed quite promising, I must say that overall I’m a bit underwhelmed by this scent - the main issue being that it quickly starts to smell a tad more synthetic and flat that I wished, especially at this price point (but I guess there’s a reason why this is already widely available at a fraction of its original cost). It’s not bad, it’s actually fairly decent; but the dry ashy-cedary part soon smells as much nice as muted, generic and heavily artificial, so do vetiver and cypress, and incense – all notes, basically. I wouldn’t consider Extreme “cheap”, as even if it smells quite synthetic and a bit dull it’s a well-played, ultimately quite pleasant kind of synthetic. Still it doesn’t really keep up with the initial promises for me, soon that “oomph” I mentioned will be just a souvenir. And since Extreme is also heavily linear, there’s really no hope for some twists or changes (which in fact, don’t happen, except for a weak sort of “velvety suede” feel I get after a couple of hours, which combined with vetiver, kind of reminded me of Jil Sander Man by Wasser and Menardo from 2007).

All in all this isn’t strictly a bad scent, but not a great one either. Not even a “very good” one for me, just more only “boringly nice” with a subtle bitter aftertaste of disappointment. This may be a smart choice if you’re looking for your first and only “night vetiver” to own and you don’t want to bother trying others: but be sure to get some good discount though, as this isn’t worthy the full price tag.

6,5/10


05/05/2016
1 Awards
I am missing the “black” part here, at any stage, but nonetheless... what a compelling smooth and modern vetiver this is. Along the line of Tom Ford’s Grey Vetiver, but noticeably more quality to any extent for me: crisper, more natural, more vibrant, with a more “dimensional” texture, slightly rawer too (or, say, maybe just more “genuine-smelling”). A bit similar to Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier’s Racine as well, mostly for the citrus-vetiver combo, but somehow more transparent, slightly colder and overall more “minimalistic” than that – shortly, more contemporary. The evolution of Black Vetiver is quite simple, basically it starts off with an invigoratingly vivid splash of zesty lemon supported by an initially toned-down elegant accord of smooth, salty vetiver infused with something which smells like a sort of aldehydic musk to me; it’s very subtle, but it gives a peculiar texture to the woody base accord, making it smell as a sort of a greyish, breezy vetiver “mist” sprayed on dry concrete. Well, I’m making it sound more avantgarde than it is, but that’s more or less the effect I get here.

Once most of the greenish top notes of lemon fade away, it’s all about some really great, high quality, vibrant yet pleasantly civilized grassy-salty vetiver still surrounded by that breezy sort of dusty mist I mentioned above – and still lightly infused by some citrus nuances. But most of all it’s vetiver though, and it’s completely, indisputably pleasant as only good vetiver can be. It smells very natural, very woody and grassy-salty (no “inky” nonsense or whatever other ill synthetic rendition of it). And like good vetiver does, it smells also at once very elegant, yet terribly laid-back and easy to wear. As the drydown progresses, some more somber, smokier and slightly sweeter nuances arise, but at no point it will get too “black” – just a bit quieter and moodier, but with a palpable salty-breezy feel underneath. More than “black”, a “grey-yellow vetiver”.

That’s it, it may sound simple and it actually is, but it’s a pure, vibrant kind of simple, something more than pleasant to wear. Thank God none of Guillaume’s trademark mish-mash concepts are here, no weird mojitos and no chubby gourmands gone wrong. This doesn’t smell at all like one of his creations for me, and maybe that’s why it smells so nice. By far my favourite “modern” vetiver, a refined everyday gem and a perfect contemporary companion to the nicest old-school vetivers like Guerlain’s or Carven’s. Still quite overpriced but totally worthy if you can get some discount.

8,5/10


04/06/2016
2 Awards
Another discontinued Creed scent way superior to the near majority of their current abysmally insipid range. Baie de Genièvre is an impressively solid masculine spicy fougère straight out of the early 1980’s (still quite 1970’s-inspired, with all that herbal-stale dryness) with some quite peculiar features making it surely worthy a sniff at least – not a purchase at those “vaulted” prices, but surely a try. I mean, it’s very good, it’s a Creed, that’s already quite something.

What I really enjoy about Baie is how simple, robust yet very inspired it smells: basically it’s a crisp, tasteful blend of citrus-infused, herbal juniper notes with their recognizable sort of very aromatic, edgy, bitter, metallic, super dry and dark-boozy nature; then some sharp, earthy, smoky and salty vetiver (“the vintage kind”, rooty and dirty, such as in Maitre’s Route du Vetiver or Goutal’s Vetiver), some very well-fitting sort of sweet-spicy dash of Oriental aromatic powder (they say cinnamon, I trust that, although it smells a bit more generic to me – just something slightly sweet, lukewarm and exotic, even slightly fruity at first) and a light note of lavender - which isn’t listed, but I think I smell it. A sharp, dry, distinguished and very aromatic blend with a palpable sort of “antique” vibe – rusty metal, smoky old woods, sharp herbal spirits. With just the right amount of late-1970’s mojo. There’s some evolution, too: it gets progressively warmer, gentler, powderier, less dry and bitter and a bit smoother and smoky-sweeter, with vetiver and herbs creating a sort of “powdery barbershop” mood. Nina Ricci’s Phileas is maybe a distant relative of this, mostly for the same bold herbal-spicy vein and a very similar sort of “rusty” feel – Phileas is more complex than this, but I think they’ve something in common.

So that’s it, a very old-school, refined yet quite “rugged”, extremely vibrant and very natural-smelling gentleman’s scent with nothing wrong in it – it smells just very good, period. Maybe not overly exciting, but truly impeccable, with solid materials (juniper and vetiver especially!) and a totally neat composition. Very “vintage”, and probably a bit dated for many fans of today’s Creed’s offerings, but definitely a nice option for all fans of classic masculine stuff (nothing macho, but definitely a “virile” blend). By the way, by “vintage” and “dated” I don’t mean generic or boring, though: it’s actually quite of a “statement” scent, due to its metallic-smoky-spicy edginess and sharpness which creates a dark, “raw” vein brilliantly contrasting with its subtle, warm Oriental sweeter side. Extremely versatile as well, it projects quite good without getting too obtrusive. Totally recommended – again, not at full vintage prices though: it’s good, even very good, but not a Holy Grail.

7,5-8/10


03/30/2016
4 Awards
Well, one must really never judge a book by its cover. Most of the times this motto isn’t really that valid with scents, as hopeless houses rarely produce something unexpectedly worthy, but there’s some exceptions. I’ve never been a fan of Ralph Lauren scents except for vintage Safari, as most of the rest epitomizes an abysmal approach to scents – the preppier the look, the crappier the smell. But well, Supreme Oud is completely, surprisingly different – for the good – from anything else I tried from this brand.

Sure, its core note is “the synthetic kind” of oud, as in any (or well, the vast majority of) Western interpretation of ouds, but this doesn’t automatically mean it’s bad. Could be, but it isn’t. It’s By Kilian’s Pure Oud’s kind of synthetic oud (and for me, Supreme Oud quite shares some broader similarities with that scent, by the way) – very smooth, smoky, somehow weightless and totally pleasant to smell, no Montale-sque cheap and acrid rubberiness. Artificial to the bone, but it smells very dignified and solid. But actually oud here is just part of the show, and I must really give some big credit to Carlos Benaim for the composition of Supreme Oud. The blend is in fact as much crystal clear and simple, as unique and creative: it’s basically vetiver, smooth oud and cinnamon with a bare touch of silky powderiness, and a whiff which smells like some balsamic sort of pine infusion to me. Basically a refined, forest-like smoky-woody galore with an Oriental shade of sweet spices and some base talc “warmth” provided by that undefined base powderiness (maybe there’s some vanilla, too).

At first Supreme Oud is drier, sharper, “blacker”, slightly reminding me of Montana Black Edition, but more centered on balsamic oud and some edgy, tantalizing cinnamon (which combined with those dark woods, basically smells a bit like roasted, coffee-infused licorice); then it slowly gets warmer, silkier, some suprisingly sophisticated and natural-smelling vetiver note emerges together with that whiff of pine I get, while oud becomes more of a smoky-medicinal shade on the background giving some “dark bone” to vetiver, and you get this incredibly pleasant drydown of oud-ish, balsamic vetiver tinted with a simple, almost minimalistic, yet very distinctive sort of powdery-spicy accord of cinnamon and whatever warmer-sweeter notes there’s on the very base. It may sound a bit “generic”, but trust me it’s not. Or well, it’s so pleasant you don’t really notice how generic it may or may not be. It smells smoky yet sweet, “luminous” yet somehow black. Its discreet, classy, non-thick and non-rubbery texture makes it also very versatile and probably, totally safe for any situation and/or climate. It’s just very refined, very pleasant, and would put a smile on every smoky woods fan’s face. Projection and persistence are just perfect – not a bomb but not a skin scent, lasting a good day long. I get all of this doesn’t sound groundbreaking but Jesus - for being made by Ralph Lauren, this fragrance is a miracle!

7,5-8/10


03/18/2016
1 Awards
Farmacia SS. Annunziata is among the very few Italian brands which keep offering good, sometimes brilliant products with a classy, humble, understated and totally appreciable attitude. Most of their fragrances are simple, maybe simplistic sometimes, but straightforward, very decently priced and with solid performances and quality. And most of all, they share a sort of melancholy, of distinguished darkness, which quite reflects their antique allure and their connection to their ancient roots (which for once, are real).

This new addition to their range got me intrigued from the name already, as I figured that a “Florentine leather” in Farmacia’s style would have surely been interesting to smell. And in fact, it’s quite like I imagined. It’s dark, gloomy, elegantly dry thanks both to the rusty, tanning, sharp and whiskey-infused leather accord, the subtle inky-woody smokiness, but oddly enough also to the sweet-tangy top notes of bergamot and elemi. They should be “bright” and fresh theoretically, but together with the resinous-ambery base notes, they create here a sort of powdery, dusty, sweet-candied and almost moldy “Guerlinade” evoking dusty furniture, vanillic aged paper, an overall sort of “moody Mediterranean” kind of inspiration as you would imagine if thinking of a Medieval Florentine pharmacist boutique. Which is quite a dark inspiration if you think of it, given today’s perception of the “dark ages” of Middle Age. Classy, gloomy, totally Italian. Foreign people tend to associate Italy to “freshness” and “joy”, but I think we’ve quite a dark-veined history and national attitude, and some fragrances did or do reflect that (think of vintage glories like Ferré for Man, Moschino pour Homme, Krizia Moods and so on).

Well anyway, back to the smell: leather’s surely the main accord here, especially in the central hours of the evolution of Cuoio, and it’s done perfectly. Leathers are quite tricky today, they often tend to smell very synthetic and predictable, either in a dry way or in a sweetish Tuscan Leather-like way. Here, you can clearly get the efforts to create a more credible, nuanced, compelling leather accord. It’s quite dry, dark and extremely sophisticated in its whispered texture, raw yet smooth enough, with a mature boozy touch, a very realistic sort of ashy-cedar frame, and some interesting Oriental nuances of saffron and pepper. Sweeter and more resinous at first, getting drier and spicier as hours pass, ending in a smooth, martially simple pure leather drydown still supported by a sharp, slightly salty cedar note.

Shortly a refined, moody leather scent infused with ashy woods and a clever touch of zesty-resinous powdery amberiness letting a lukewarm ray of evening Mediterranean sun in. Somehow restless and somehow laid-back. Subtler than I expected and definitely lighter than most of other Farmacia SS. Annunziata scents I tried, but not a skin scent (almost, though: that would be my only remark). Surely worthy a sniff.

8-8,5/10


03/10/2016
3 Awards
One of the most honest, worthwhile and affordably good releases in a long while. I am not a fan of Yves Rocher usually, as despite I respect the brand, none of their releases seemed that interesting to me so far (not even for the price); but Cuir Vetiver quite got me. It is by no means inferior to many decent designers easily showing double the price tag – Hermès, for instance: for the similarity of the notes, the composition and the quality, this could have easily been a budget-mainstream release by them. In fact Cuir Vetiver is basically a cheaper, yet absolutely solid sort of fresher Vetiver Tonka meeting Terre d’Hermès with a thin shade of some smoky tonka-infused suede (and that’s the only “cuir” you’ll get), and also some tangy cardamom nuance which reminds me of another Hermès scent for men – Voyage.

A poor man’s Hermès digest, shortly, with a surprising good quality and a not-so-ordinary texture. Specifically I detect here a more than compelling sort of fresh-woody-powdery transparent clarity dangerously close to Ellena’s style, and despite Cuir Vetiver smells quite close to the stuff I mentioned above, for some reasons it doesn’t feel just like a blatant ripoff of it. I don’t get what precisely, but there’s more than that. It’s like if more than a simple passive carbon-copying activity to monetize on other brands’ ideas, this was just more a genuine “tribute” simply taking inspiration from them with enough skills and budget to elaborate the brief a bit. It’s still 90% close to Vetiver Tonka and the other couple of Hermès I mentioned, but the remaining 10% is, well, a little sparkle of uniqueness (after all, it’s fresher than Vetiver Tonka, and smokier than both Terre and Voyage – unique, in its own and a bit derivative way).

So, all in all, totally recommended. It smells good, classy, versatile, smoky yet fresh and breezy enough to be perfect for any climate and circumstance. And surprisingly natural, too, considering the level of flat syntheticness you usually get at this price range. Sadly the persistence is a bit weak, but it’s so inexpensive that you can simply reapply it on and on. For 29 eur/100 ml or so, a total winner in my “everyday-replacement-for-more-expensive-stuff” book.

8/10


03/09/2016
1 Awards
Not the most creative or interesting leather around and definitely unworthy its prices, especially now that it’s discontinued (sorry, “vaulted”), but I can’t really argue Royal English Leather’s quality. It smells good. Almost great, if you’re into classic, waxy, dark, austere “shoe polish-infused” tanning leather scents. True rich and faceted rusty leather, forget today’s stupidly flat and artificial Tuscan Leather-ish stuff. Just think of Knize Ten: Royal is definitely close to it, just adding a whiff of flowers, a very pleasant touch of ambery mandarine giving some “air”, colour and sparkling sweetness to the heaviness of leather, and in the most recent bottles, also Creed’s trademark base of metallic-dusty ambroxan. I had the chance of getting an older bottle of this, and that base accord was definitely not there – it was quite more all about leather and oily shoe-polish like notes (also darker, drier and spicier, overall slightly heavier too).

That’s it: no tremendous twists during its evolution – actually, almost no evolution at all, nothing particularly standing out. But it smells good, very good. It’s rich, distinguished, totally – somehow, slightly pedantically – elegant and austere, with the perfect balance of complexity and simplicity: it’s nearly only waxy, brownish, lived-in leather - done extremely well, with a subtle sort of ambery-floral-mandarine aura giving a perfect hint of bright sweetness, and yet it doesn’t smell boring or simplistic. Not even dated, actually; somehow it does have a “vintage” feel (think of Knize Ten again), and yet its texture feels crisp, clear, without the old-school thickness one may expect from this type of scent. Quintessentially British in fact: unexcitingly impeccable!

7,5/10


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