Amber Oud definitely deserves a sideways thumb. First, as other reviewers pointed out, the oud is barely detectable and doesn’t even show up until at least 30 minutes into the drydown and even then, the castrated oud meekly waves a hand in protest of the giant benzoin troll dominating the party. Finally, pleasant boozy amber takes over after the troll stops farting and a hint of bay leaf darts in and out. Overall, AO is a high quality fragrance, although I wouldn’t say that it is worth the ridiculous price, especially considering that AO seems slightly generic. If you enjoy heavy duty benzoin bombs (for example, Chergui) then this will probably be your cup of tea. If you like your oud prominent and challenging, then look elsewhere. 3/5
This is a sad, sad day. After a long day at work, I arrived at home to find a delivered package containing Musc Nomade and Ambre Fetiche. With a wagging tail I tore open the package and eagerly applied Musc Nomade to my wrist and started huffing away. Snort. Snort. WTF? Snort. Oh no. I am not able to smell parts of this composition. The musc note is incredibly faint and I think I’m detecting ambrette, but otherwise only pale amber with a touch of chicken soup fades in and out. As such, I will refrain from rating Musc Nomade because, sob, I just can’t smell it! Take my advice: do not blind buy Musc Nomade!!!! Next day edit: OK, this is completely perplexing, but now I think I can smell the composition. The musc is almost a texture, not a discernable note. I’m finding the MN experience very subtle and almost spooky. It’s like the ghost of someone’s flesh lingers in the air, but it is difficult to really describe what that flesh smells like; it’s sort of like a faded memory that keeps snuggling with you. This is hands down the creepiest review I’ve written and I’m going to stop typing now. Two days later: Yes, I can definately smell blackberry-musc accord, but the problem is that I need to dump half the bottle on my head to detect the whole composition. Final verdict: MN is a unique, comforting musc with an almost haunting beauty. It is, however, wimpy beyond belief.
Sensuous Noir by Estée Lauder is not a ground breaking fragrance by any stretch of the imagination; however, when compared to other designer fragrances, SN is a breath of fresh air. Basically, it is a sweet, woody oriental with a crowd pleasing pine/patchouli/vanilla-dessert note combo. Do yourself a favor during your next visit to your local department store: walk past Coco Noir and continue straight to SN—you will not be disappointed. Actually, stay at the EL counter and continue sniffing your way through the entire line. Be sure to stop at Cinnabar and Private Collection. If you find the two aforementioned fragrances too “vintage” for your taste, check out Bronze Goddess and Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia; there should be something for everyone. Longevity and Projection: Good Overall 3.5/5
I just wanted to hate Coco Mademoiselle; let’s check out my list of complaints: 1) I usually dislike fruity perfumes. Fruit should be eaten—dang it! 2) The note listing = boring cliché line-up. Yay—another fruity-floral with a dash of patchouli. Bleck. 3) It’s painfully ubiquitous. Anyway, Mademoiselle is, indeed, all of the previously mentioned items; however, in spite of the reality surrounding this fragrance, I still enjoy it. First, the citrus fruit somehow sticks around past the opening and blends with the patchouli and lychee creating a warm, pink haze that weaves through the composition. Below the pink haze is a touch of musk and above the pink haze one can detect the icy fluttering of jasmine and rose. The floral component is high quality and can be found in other Chanel fragrances; IMO this is one of the features that keep Mademoiselle from sliding into the pit mediocrity. An hour later, the delicious patchouli-vetiver-tonka combination takes over. This is, by far, my favorite phase and I’m shocked at how much my wrist finds its way to my nose. After the release of Coco Noir and Chance, I have a newfound appreciation for Mademoiselle…
Shalimar Parfum Initial by Guerlain is not a disappointing “very berry cupcake”. Basically, take Shalimar EDC, add a dash of Angel, hit yourself in the head, and there you have it. The composition opens with citrus, vanilla, iris, and spicy leather, and at this stage, the genetics of Grande Dame dominate the composition. As the fragrance develops on the skin, I pick up liquorice loud and clear. Basically, a huge liquorice root is chasing me around the room, trash talking and spewing obscenities. An hour later, the liquorice thug sulks in a corner and suddenly crazy Auntie Angel shows up with caramel and funky patchouli. Crazy Auntie and I are fabulous friends—we have caused quite a bit of trouble together—and we spend the next four hours trying on clothes and deciding if I look better in the vintage floral dress or the one made out of rubber (it snaps). 4/5 Just try it!
This is naughtiness in a bottle. The vanilla is sweet and bossy at first and then dries down to a slightly powdery “skin, but better” routine. The leather cracks the whip early on, but calms down after rubber shows up. And then, there is something else. At first, it is difficult to place, but suddenly the answer appears…oh no they didn’t. Animalic. Salty. Metallic? Maybe buckles and chains? Is someone smoking in the corner? During my next trip to New Orleans, I plan on drenching myself in this stuff. Well, maybe more than four sprays.
Yes, Shalimar definitely wins in a fight against Chanel No. 5. Shalimar is just as complex as No. 5 (maybe even more so) and lacks the headache inducing aldehydes. (I detect a low concentration of aldehydes in this fragrance, but not in such an offensive quantity.) Projection and longevity: 5/5. The citrus disappears quickly, and the powdery dry down isn’t cheap or pedestrian. Shalimar makes me feel sexy and grown up; the vanilla sweetness is sensual and accessible, while the leather, incense and musk add naughtiness and depth.
I really wanted to love this fragrance; however, Chergui was a major disappointment. The pleasant opening smells like Avon Skin So Soft and conjures up childhood memories. After five minutes, the boring powder arrives. Also, Chergui seems incomplete, as though it hoped to vanish in the hot desert wind. Maybe someday I will revisit this fragrance and experience lounging camels and complex “spicy intensity”. Maybe.
Black Orchid is a huge chocolate flower. The composition is constructed around spicy black orchid, and all of the other components (citrus, jasmine, gardenia, black current, spice, fruit, chocolate, patchouli, and amber) exaggerate each facet of the flower. The result is an enormous 3D black orchid: dark and psychedelic. Woodsy notes are barely detectable, but there is definitely something almost swampy lurking behind the onslaught of sweet chocolate. Also, there is a loud, constant stream of piss coming from the black currant and/or jasmine. Nicely done, just keep it away from me.
Jasmin Noir opens with big, yet soft jasmine and gardenia and dries down to tonka bean and almonds. It’s feminine and easy to wear; a pleasant crowd pleaser. Also, if you find florals difficult to wear, this one might be tolerable. IMO this ballerina birthday cake needs something more. Maybe leather or incense? A big dose of patchouli?
When I was a teenager, the idea of wearing perfume seemed ridiculous; only bimbos and old ladies would spritz themselves down with “embalming fluid”. I was too busy wearing black, listening to counter culture music (whatever that is), and pretending to not care. Needless to say, I never wore any of the classic fragrances from the late 80s/ mid 90s. Recently, I purchased a bottle of designer juice at the local small town drug store, and hoped for the best. Wow. Obsession is a first-rate production, complete with an eclectic cast of characters. The opening is abrasive with an icky soapy-green burst that makes one wonder why Obsession is classified as a spicy oriental. On the skin, it begins to unfold chaotically, leaving a trace of (almost off-putting) powder. Next, a cute and fuzzy animalic note (civet) politely says hello, instead of throwing a Bal a Versailles middle finger. Slowly, the green-forest-creature-powder begins to expose amber and spices and after about 30 minutes the premise that this is not a spicy oriental turns on its head. This is the spicy oriental. Incense, vanilla, sandalwood, and spices are now the main actors, while the rest of the cast quietly scampers on and off the stage as supporting characters. In an attempt to understand Obsession, I applied it to one side of my body and Ambre Sultan to the other. At first, the bombastic Serge Lutens seduced me with delicious sweaty-sweetness, which made Obsession seem like a powdery mess. But, as time progressed it was clear that Ambre Sultan simply turned down the volume, while Obsession told me a story. In fact, I would go as far as to say Ambre Sultan could be a stand-in for one of Obsession’s actors. When I wear Obsession I tend to pair it with a cotton T-shirt and dark eye make-up—the teenager in me definitely approves! Tenacity: 5/5 Sillage: 5/5 Overall: 5/5 (Ambre Sultan 4/5)
Timbuktu by L Artisan Parfumeur is not what I expected. After reading several reviews and note listings, I ordered a sample hoping for a dry, spicy chypre with incense. The opening is quiet with a hint of spiciness and fruit. Then—bang—strait to stale soap. Did I receive the correct sample? Yes, I’m identifying green vetiver and a strange floral note, but the “warm spicy” part is definitely not detectable. (The opening is far away from the dry down.) Perhaps someone can help me understand this fragrance… 16 hours later, a trace of Timbuktu lingered in my hair. The scent lost the soapy aspect exposing deep smoky woods. I also found that if I apply a very small amount to the skin the smoky-campfire aspect shows through almost immediately. This brings to mind a midnight camp fire in the middle of a hot exotic forest. I have memories of sitting around a fire with friends; drinking, and smelling the trees, flowers and other greenery as the smoke coats my hair and clothes. Timbuktu is this, only strange. Getting better… One week later: I love this fragrance! I can’t stop smelling it and losing myself inside the presented contradiction. Clean yet musky-smoky; dry and hot, yet never powdery; green, but not “fresh”. Also, I challenge anyone to call this fragrance boring given that some of the notes are exotic, especially the floral note (Karo Karounde) and the smoke (cypriol).
So far I’ve tried two fragrances from the Hermes jardin line: un jardin sur le nil and un jardin en mediterranee. Both fragrances open with a blast of bright, clean citrus and immediately one can understand that these are sibling composition. The perfumer, Jean-Claude Ellena, has cleverly crafted beautiful outdoor scenery full of depth and hidden treasures. Un jardin sur le nil begins by presenting a beautiful green mango (with grapefruit) that dominates the composition. After 5-30 minutes on the skin, other aspects of the garden politely appear; most notably a holographic carrot flickers in and out. As the plants in the garden start to fade out, the base of musky-incense takes over and the floral aspect gains power. Un jardin en mediterranee opens with citrus and beautiful, sweet evergreen. The fig is noticeable, but not remarkable. What is remarkable is the ghost of a salty sundrenched tomato permeating the entire garden. Although it takes longer for this composition to fade down (almost 2 hours), the remaining base notes are very similar those of a jardin sur le nil. There is no denying Ellena’s genius; I can close my eyes and feel the sun and the gentle breeze in the salty air. My main issue with both jardins is how the fragrance develops over time on the skin. In both cases, the garden falls apart in an hour or two and all we are left with is a generic musky-perfume base. The garden is in perfect harmony when tested on paper ($) and this is usually a good sign that development on the skin will be either linear or result in disjointed decomposition. Both fragrances display characteristics of the latter, making the experience a little disappointing. I prefer un jardin en mediterranee because I love evergreen notes and I wonder if the addition of the woody basenotes of cedar could extend the dry down.
I can’t believe I enjoy Drole de Rose by LAP, but I do. The note line-up really isn’t my cup of tea, but I’m finding it delicate and charming. 1) Violets (Green grass and wet cement). 2) Iris (Powder and more powder!). 3) Rose (Soapy and candied?) 4) Honeyed baby skin. Drole de Rose treads the line between clean innocence and red lipstick temptress. This makes me think of rainy day tea time with almond cookies and lace napkins followed by a little afternoon delight. Projection: Stays close to skin. Longevity: Could be better.
Headline: Woody Oriental Drinks Rum in Hamster Cage. Straight to Heaven by Kilian is pleasant, but don’t expect to have your world rocked. After reading several reviews, it seems like this fragrance is in a special purgatory: too conventional for some and too medicinal or dirty hippy for others. I definitely fall in with the too conventional camp, but at the same time, I find Strait to Heaven very comforting. Maybe childhood memories of playing in a cedar swamp have something to do with this. The patchouli could be dirtier, the cedar turned down just a tad and, oh yes, dump in something interesting (rum doesn’t count). Heh.