GreysolonGreysolon's Perfume Reviews

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Greysolon 4 years ago 4
7
Scent
7
Longevity
6
Sillage

The long, lost cousin of Divine's L'Homme Sage
Like many of the newer Serge Lutens' fragrances, Baptême du Feu seems created to have a gentler, less conspicuous personality. There's none of the oak leaves and dirt of Chene, no Fleurs d'Orange flower bombs, and certainly none of the sticky pine resin and charred bark of Fille en aiguilles.

Baptême du Feu takes a while to dry down before its personality emerges. When it does, it's a nice, warm, well mannered, well blended fragrance. While those qualities seem complimentary, there's a downside to being just nice. Aside from a bit of ginger and powdery carnation, nothing stands out to provide a defining character. The overall effect is a pleasant, spicy warmth revealing a pedigree in Lutens' Five O'clock Gingembre and Vitriol d'Œillet. But those fragrances have personality and backbone; they make a statement. Baptême du Feu is meek by comparison.

Despite the family bloodlines, Baptême du Feu has more in common with L'Homme Sage by Divine. Both fragrances have a very similar structure based on warm, blended spice notes. While Baptême du Feu is slightly sweeter with a touch of powdery carnation, L'Homme Sage has of range and variety of spice accords endowing it with a depth of character and definition Baptême du Feu cannot match.

If it can be said without sounding like an insult, Baptême du Feu is, at best, nice. Unfortunately, "nice" means it lacks the personality of Luten's typically bold fragrances. I miss that quality in the newest entries from this house.
1 Reply

Greysolon 5 years ago 5
7
Scent
5
Longevity
5
Sillage
5
Bottle

Northern Thymes
A few days ago I visited my favorite local book shop and was surprised to find the owners now stock the Thymes' line of candles, room scents, bath products and perfumes. I've used their candles for years but didn't have a clue the company made perfume. Not only that, I've always thought the name "Thymes" sounded English so I just assumed, as any perfume snob would, I was buying a fine, imported product. Nope. Turns out the house is located in Minnesota, ya sure, you betcha! Well, with quality of this level Minneapolis must be the new Paris!

So I decided to try Eucalyptus first. It seems to me if a perfumer can achieve a balanced scent using eucalyptus -the aromatic note most likely to be overwhelming- then this might be a line of fragrances worth exploring.

As the fragrance dries down lemon, petitgrain and eucalyptus are balanced and beautifully ethereal. There's no mentholated, sinus clearing punch in the face one might expect from a fragrance called Eucalyptus. Once everything settles this turns out to be a modest, pleasant scent that wears very comfortably. The petitgrain balances the lemon with a light orangey note and the woody base picks up a nice aromatic quality from the eucalyptus. And while eucalyptus can be sensed in the blend, it never overwhelms and simply keeps everything open and airy.

Even though this is a light, quite modest scent, it smells very natural and is satisfying to wear. I imagine it would be very office friendly. Nothing earth shattering in it's formulation, just a well crafted scent. Who ever composed it has a skilled hand balancing ingredients. The price is good too: about $30 US for 50 ml.

Finally, for the past few years members of Parfumo have debated how best to stem the tide of fragrance regulations coming out of the EU. One recurring suggestion is the full disclosure of ingredients so consumers can make an informed decision about a fragrance. The common counter argument is that the ingredient list is proprietary information. Well, not so with Thymes. To my non-chemist's eye it appears the list of the ingredients discloses everything in the bottle. This might be helpful for anyone with specific allergies.
2 Replies

Greysolon 5 years ago 4
7
Scent

The almost lovable curmudgeon
Of all the essences that make up the vast vocabulary of perfumery few elicit as much mixed up, love-hate sentiment as patchouli. Examples of this can be found in reviews for patchouli-centric fragrances which read like regret filled soliloquies to failed relationships…

“I love patchouli, I really do, but…”

My love-hate relationship with the essence generally follows this pattern: I spritz on a patchouli rich fragrance and for the first hour or so it’s heaven. The seductive tendrils of scent are so exotic and alluring. But patchouli is also tenacious and it’s not long before the smell is omnipresent and clingy. Eventually this constant embrace leads to the feeling of an oily diffusion creeping over my skin making me itchy and claustrophobic.

I love patchouli, I really do, but…

…but I really do love patchouli and I wanted to find a scent that wasn’t a perfume boa constrictor. So I enlisted the braintrust of Parfumo’s “Fragrance Consulting Forum” for suggestions. I described my ideal patchouli perfume as having a dry, leafy setting of the essence. Serge Lutens Borneo 1834 was suggested by several members and it fits the description of my imagined fragrance perhaps just a little too well.

Borneo 1834 is -almost- a lovable curmudgeon of a scent. Like all lovable curmudgeons, it has a gruff, contrary exterior before revealing its warmer, slightly softer heart. But even when Borneo 1834 settles down it occasionally lets out a grumpy, contrarian harrumph.

This is not a fragrance for those seeking instant gratification. The first 20 minutes of development is downright rough and unsettled as cocoa, spices, patchouli and a dry, herbal accord vie for supremacy. When patchouli finally reaches its position of dominance, the cocoa and spices settle into an arid base reminiscent of other Christopher Sheldrake creations such as Santal Majuscule and Ambre Sultan. The difference is that Borneo 1834 also has the dry, herbal accord to create the illusion of withered patchouli leaves, which is the soul of the fragrance. Serge Lutens describes it this way: “Why did I pick 1834? That was the year Parisians discovered patchouli. In those days, it came wrapped in silk.” The island of Borneo was on the shipping route between the Asian silk producing nations and Europe and patchouli was folded into the fabric to repel insects.

Sheldrake is a genius at creating a sense of touch through perfume so the crinkly feeling of dried patchouli leaves is right at your fingertips. It's executed perfectly. But he could have made this a more approachable, friendly fragrance by incorporating the contrasting element of silkiness suggested by Lutens. Instead, the curmudgeony roughness of the opening stays with the fragrance and gives Borneo 1834 a vetiver like stoicism rather than the seductive, come hither quality usually associated with patchouli. Borneo 1834 is a wonderful creation, but it demands a particular sense of confidence and character from those who wear it. If you’re looking for a drier patchouli accord with a more inviting personality then something like Chanel Coromandel might be a better choice.

Greysolon 5 years ago 6
10
Scent
10
Longevity
7.5
Sillage

Swoon worthy
If you want a straightforward, this-is-how-it-smells account of Noir de Noir you should read Flaconneur’s review (below). His description is perfect. Seriously, spot on, absolutely perfect. Not only does he list the same elements I discern in Noir de Noir but his descriptions so closely resemble my own associations (semi-sweet chocolate?!) it’s as though he’s channelled the experience straight from my imagination. Well, except that even in my imagination I don’t write nearly as well as Flaconneur. Anyway, since Flac has taken care of all that I’m going to opt for a more visceral take on this incredible fragrance.

Noir de Noir puts me into a wonderful state of sensory overload. It’s like being slightly buzzed on perfume. As a matter of fact, if I could afford to drink the stuff, I probably would. It’s a warm cloud of chocolate liquor and roses lightly dusted with cocoa talc and tinged with the sweaty, pheromone laced notes of saffron, truffles and oud.
Oh, dear lord, I'm starting to feel a little weak just thinking about it.
The scent of Noir de Noir is one of the few things in life that can cause me to swoon. Yeah, me, the guy who would otherwise be terrified of simply uttering the word “swoon” in public is swooning.
Hang on a sec, I’m still feeling a little flushed.
If you want to ratchet up the effect of Noir de Noir even more then I suggest you try this layering recipe for 'Rose Infused Grand Marnier Chocolates': Let’s say you and your significant other are going out for a nice, intimate dinner. You will, of course, be wearing Noir de Noir. Your companion, however, should wear an orange-neroli fragrance like Serge Lutens’ Fleur d’Orange.
Oh. Dear. Lord. I feel a swoon coming on…
2 Replies

Greysolon 5 years ago 7
8
Scent

Carnation boutonnière
Since my interest in perfume didn’t hit full on obsession until midlife, there are gaps in my knowledge of classic fragrances and genres. As a result, I think I’m intuitively drawn to fragrances that are fairly basic and straightforward as a way of wrapping my nose around traditional forms. To my surprise, these intuitive choices occasionally turn out to be simply wonderful, well crafted, perfumes. I know it’s cliche, but quality never goes out of fashion and sometimes conservative, uncomplicated scents need to be part of one's wardrobe for more formal occasions. Vitriol d'Œillet fits this role perfectly.

At this point, you’re probably shaking your head in disbelief and wondering, “Wait a minute! Conservative? Uncomplicated? Is this is really a review for a Serge Lutens’ perfume?” Yes, it really is and, no, I haven't mixed it up with a review for another fragrance. And here's another surprise: when describing Vitriol d'Œillet, the adjectives conservative and uncomplicated also combine to create the fragrant accord of elegance. Yes, you've read that correctly, elegance. There’s another word not often associated with the scents of Le Grande Serge. I stumbled across this description of Vitriol d'Œillet by Victoria, author of the blog Bois de Jasmin, and I think it gets to the heart of why I find it so elegant and proper:
“I find it easier to describe Vitriol d’Oeillet …by describing what it is not, rather than what it is. It is not a romantic perfume nor is it an austere perfume. It is not modern, yet it is not old-fashioned either.”

When I imagine the fragrant details of Vitriol d’Oeillet, my mind instantly conjures up a carnation boutonnière; although the perfume presents a deeper, soft focus idealization of carnation. That soft focus comes from a light dusting of carnation scented talc which keeps the flower from being high pitched and too ephemeral. Then there's one of my favorite accords in all of perfumery; the use of pepper to bring out the natural spiciness of florals. With a little help from sandalwood, the namesake vitriol accomplishes this task beautifully. Finally, this perfume boutonnière even has a few sprigs of bitter greenery (violet leaf?) pinned to the stem of the carnation which prevents the fragrance from becoming too homogenous.

While the name Vitriol d'Œillet and its description on the Lutens' website sound ferocious, there is nothing about this fragrance that is vitriolic. And while I've described this as a soft, elegant fragrance, it is truly unisex and would serve to adorn men's attire with a floral accent now that boutonnières are a thing of the past.
2 Replies

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