Saturday, 25 June 2011

Guerlain Vetiver

It may surprise you, but (I may be mistaken, but I don't think so) the first time I smelled Guerlain Vetiver was also the first time I smelled vetiver as a note. At the time it blew me away. Vetiver smelled foreign, yet familiar at the same time. Green, grassy, pungent, slightly smoky - it smelled exotic to me. Of course, at the time I hadn't even heard of Frederic Malle, yet alone smelled the unadulterated majesty of Vetiver Extraordinaire, or the ozonic saltiness of Sel de Vetiver, or other intense vetivers like Turtle Vetiver. 

Smelling the Guerlain today, it smells rather less enticing, but only because I have been exposed to such a range and intensity of other vetiver fragrances. Saying this, Vetiver is by no means poor. In fact it is a wonderful example of a high-quality, relatively mainstream perfume, the likes of which is seldom encountered today. I understand Vetiver is quite old now and I'm sure its been reformulated at least once, perhaps twice. Actually, it may just be a poor memory on my part, but it doesn't even smell like it did four years ago, when I first encountered it. Whether this is another formulation twist, or simply my changing sensory appreciation, I don't know. For some reason the vetiver smells less intense. Vetiver was never an absolutely vetiver-centric fragrance. Yes it was the main player, but there was tobacco and nutmeg, and while I still detect these, the perfume smells slightly less rich and aromatic, perhaps a bit dryer, for want of a better word.

Still, I do like Vetiver, and I can't fault it really. If you haven't tried this classic Guerlain for men, give it a go, irrespective of gender. It may just surprise you.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Amouage Library collection

Ok, so now we have Opus I, II, III, IV and V. A few days ago I said that I haven't been that impressed with the library releases, particularly Opus IV. I still stand by my impression of IV. I've tried it numerous times now and it just doesn't wear very comfortably on my skin. I haven't tried V yet, although the notes do sound fantastic. I wrote about II a long time ago. At the time I liked it, and I still think it is nice, although by no means anywhere near one of my favourites in the Amouage line.

So what about I and III? Funnily enough, they were the last two I tried eventually, and have ended up being the best of the lot, particularly III. I should say that these have stellar lasting power. I first tested them on paper a couple of times, just to get a general feel for them, and the scent strips powered through my pockets for almost a week. On skin they project very well too, easily lasting through a vigorous shower. Of course, Amouage is not exactly known for its skin scents...

I don't intend to write in-depth about I and III. The notes for I include bigarade, plum, cardamom, rose, jasmine, tuberose, ylang-ylang, lily of the valley, papyrus, cedar, gaiac wood, incense, tonka bean, sandalwood and vetiver. In other words, everything but the kitchen sink. The first stages are very floral, which along with incense, is an Amouage trademark touch. Remarkably I don't find the florals too much. There are enough woods and incense to balance it nicely. It is very rich and opulent though.

III includes notes of mimosa, broom, clove, nutmeg, thyme, violet, jasmine, ylang-ylang, orange blossom, musk, ambrette, papyrus, cedar, sandalwood, gaiac wood, benzoin and vanilla. While some of the woods and florals are quite similar to Opus I, Opus III smells significantly different. I detect a lot of mimosa to start, with plenty of violet in the mid stage. The dry down was sweet, but not cloying and smelled warm and inviting. Overall II really hit the spot for me and as I already said, I like it the most out of this collection.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Annick Goutal Encens Flamboyant and Ambre Fetich

I have to admit from the outset that I have some difficulties with the Goutal line. Some are intensely blowsy, floral and feminine; others are oddly citrus, and then, with Encens Flamboyant and Ambre Fetiche, the range veers into oddly incense. I say oddly, because both of these smell offbeat to me, straddling the line between compelling, and ever so slightly off-putting. Usually I would like this in a perfume, but for some reason this doesn't translate so well for me in either of these.

Ambre Fetiche, despite the name, opens with a smoky, swirling waft of heavy incense, although beneath this fog does lie amber. It is sweet, but the smoke and incense are sufficient to balance it out. The sweetness is tinged with something sour, like citrus, but this is a feel I often detect with incense. The heart continues very much in the same vein, but slightly toned down. The fragrance becomes linear, with very little variation. In the dry down the amber finally comes to the fore, but by this stage is fairly mild, sweet and tame on my skin. I would have preferred something a bit more daring and complex, rather than the incense assault at the start and the fizzle-out at the end. Perhaps this is a bit harsh, but as far as incense and ambers go, this is not really my style.

Like Fetiche, Encens Flamboyant is jam-packed with incense. The opening is very similar, but with more incense. The incense is really heavy and if you are someone who doesn't like a lot of incense, you might be struggling. The heart again is very similar, toned down and becoming linear yet again. In the dry down the incense started to smell a little weird for want of a better word, a bit like an insect repellent. 

Of the two, I perhaps prefer Ambre Fetiche, but both are a bit heavy-handed for my taste. It's not as if I don't like perfumes with character and a bit of force, but these are too much. I find both a little easier to wear in cooler weather. In summer they just bloom and become sillage monsters, at least for me.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Sandalwood, and pickles?

This is not a very original post, since it is based primarily on what I have recently read on a number of other blogs. The perfume in question is Le Labo's Santal 33. Something that people have mentioned when writing about this perfume is a dill pickle note in the opening and this note seems to manifest itself in sandalwood prominent perfumes. Well, I read this and sort of dismissed it out of hand as being rather an odd thing to notice. I have tried numerous sandalwood perfumes and products over the years and have never noticed this note.

Today I wore Sandalo Inspiritu by DSH, which incidentally is a lovely perfume, but I have written about it before and don't intend to go into detail here. Suffice to say that this time, as I applied it, I was immediately struck by a dill pickle note, which amazed me. Now, I am certain that having read quite a lot about Santal 33 recently my mind must have been opened to the possibility of this accord and perhaps I was therefore more receptive to identifying it, even if only subliminally. Actually, the smell of dill and pickles are both very pleasant to me, so I was slightly amused to identify this and actually liked the fact that I experienced a slightly different take on a perfume that I am already quite familiar with.

Have any of you made this association with any sandalwood perfumes?

Sunday, 19 June 2011

A visit to London and Absolue Pour Le Soir

This weekend we went to visit our good friends who live near Canary Wharf in London. I popped into Space NK to test Francis Kurkdjian's Absolue Pour Le Soir. I first tried it in the very same place about 6 months ago and nothing has changed. I still love, love, love it. So smitten am I that I am seriously considering purchasing a full bottle. Am I crazy? I rarely get the impulse to blow £120 on a perfume, but my finger is just itching to type in my credit card number online and get on with it!

I also tried Apom Pour Homme and was surprised by how much I liked it too. It's very much an orange blossom perfume, with a bit of cedar and amber. Kurkdjian is no stranger to orange blossom, with his very good Fleur De Male. 

Later on, when we were all having a coffee together, I presented my wrist to Carmen and asked her what she thought of Absolue. She wrinkled her nose and solemnly declared that it smells like piss. I was taken aback. I mean, I know there is cumin in it, and, I suspect,  civet, but still... A few minutes later I asked her husband, Darren, to have a sniff. He didn't quite wrinkle his nose, but stated that it smelled "something like daisies"! Well, I ask you. And they say opposites attract. No wonder.

Whatever Darren and Carmen think, I still love Absolue. Have you tried it, and if so, what were your impressions?

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Sample Hell

I know I have touched on this topic a number of times before, but my sample collection is now so way out of hand that I don't know what to do. The obvious answer is to give stuff away, spray or dab samples more generously and perhaps have a ruthless cull.

All these options have crossed my mind, but I am a natural born hoarder and hate to throw away anything. Yesterday I brought home all the samples I had been hoarding at my office and I was flabbergasted by how much stuff I had accumulated there. I had a shopping bag of samples, rammed to bursting point. A lot of what I have is fairly generic, department store samples. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but for some reason over the years I have built up a reserve of seven samples of Opus IV, five of Memoir Man, five of Cartier Declaration, Jimmy Choo galore for God's sake and so and and so on. 

So dear reader, what am I to do? I think I might toss the excess samples and focus on core quality, however one defines that. I am open to suggestions. In the meantime, let me go order my next batch of samples!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Amouage Dia Men

It's been a while since I last wrote about an Amouage perfume. Readers of this blog will be well aware of my love affair with Amouage, although I have to say that recent releases have left me rather less inspired. Dia was one of the first perfumes I tried from the line and I love it still to this day.

I wouldn't say that Dia is incredibly innovative. It smells very masculine, although with that trademark Amouage use of lots of floral notes it is by no means run-of-the-mill. Above all, Dia smells to me of high quality ingredients, masterfully blended. It really does speak of class. Dia opens fairly gently, with citrus notes that are very quickly joined by herbs and cardamom. As I also said, there are some heft floral notes too. I detected mainly ylang-ylang and rose, although the list of notes mention peony, ylang-ylang and plum blossom. The heart is where Dia really sings, as the vetivier and patchouli come to the fore and a more structured chypre accord becomes recognisable. It smells slightly mossy, refined, sophisticated and, quite frankly, stunning. I also detected a slight creaminess, which I thought was sandalwood, and a hint of leather. Again, the notes do mention leather, but palisander rather than sandalwood.

In the dry down the vetiver becomes the most prominent note to me and Dia becomes woodier and more masculine in feel. The patchouli lends a slight earthiness that probably counter-balances the florals.

The notes are cistus, bigarade, cardamom, frankincense, labdanum, peony, ylang-ylang, orris, plum blossom, vetiver, leather, patchouli, amber and palisander. I have to admit that overall Dia is so well blended that I don't smell half these notes, although I would suspect that the whole in this case is greater than the sum of its parts.

I know this is a slightly technical review, with lots of notes and quite a lot of complicated development, but don't let that put you off. Dia is a lovely perfume well worth looking out for. At  least sample it. It is quite masculine, but the slightly mossy, floral chypre feel to it would make it, I suspect, a little easier for a woman to try.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Cartier Roadster Sport

I am not usually a fan of sports fragrances, and even less so of sports fragrances released almost as a flanker of an original. They are usually generic dross that do little to inspire.

When I received a sample of Cartier Roadster Sport last week from Mel, my friend at Hoopers Department Store, I felt a sinking feeling, certain that it was going to be crap. Well, lo and behold, it is rather good. I did enjoy the original Cartier Roadster, despite my slight aversion to mint in perfume. Actually, Cartier produce well thought out and crafted perfumes in general - I don't think I have ever smelled an outright dud. Roadster Sport is far less heavy on the mint. It does make a muted appearance in the heart, but this is after an extremely citrusy opening, which thankfully does not smell generic and cliched. There is a herbalness evident throughout development that ends in a mild patchouli and woods combo.

The notes from Basenotes include bergamot, mandarin,  orange blossom, sage, rosemary, black pepper, patchouli and gaiac wood.  I wouldn't say that Roadster Sport is staggeringly original, but for what it is, in a mind-numbingly dull stable of sports shite, it is actually very good and wearable and I would recommend it. It also goes to show that perhaps I should get over my sports cologne prejudice, at least in this case!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Blog subject matter

Regular visitors to my blog will hopefully be of the opinion that I write about a broad variety of topics. I don't claim to write with authority, and nor do I try to. After all, my blog is my hobby and most of what I write about is simply for enjoyment. I do try to mix it up though, with an attempt to write about specific perfumes, very often with comparisons to similar styles and also about perfume in general, or related quirks. Occasionally I include something personal, or at least a brief insight into who I am.

Anyway, this post is not an attempt at self-analysis. I don't obsess about who or who doesn't comment on my posts, nor the number of responses, but I would be lying if I said I didn't pay some attention to it. One thing that has become increasingly clear is that I tend to receive the most responses to posts that are either personal, or request the reader's opinion or view on the subject matter. My posts to do with actual reviews of perfumes regularly receive a lukewarm response. Now, whether that has something to do with the quality of review or not, I wouldn't know, but I suspect that most readers of blogs respond more enthusiastically to a post that is conversational and 'general'. I know I certainly do, although I do like to read reviews of perfumes too, and in many cases such reviews have been the initial stimulus to try a new perfume, or indeed a forgotten one, so I do value this style very much.

So, what is the point of this post then? Well, I just wanted to observe this trend on my blog, and I have two questions:

1.) Do those of you who blog find a similar response to your posts?
2.) Whether you blog or not, do you find yourself drawn more towards general conversational posts, or review-type posts?

A final observation - I love the sort of post that covers a perfume family or a note in some detail. I don't have the technical know-how or ability to write in this sort of depth, but there are some talented bloggers out there who excel at this sort of thing. I'm not biased, but one blog that consistently ticks this box is Perfume Shrine, an excellent place to visit indeed.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Farmacia S.S Annunziata Patchouly Indonesiano

Following on from my previous post, another patchouli perfume sample I ordered fairly recently is Patchouly Indonesiano. I know next to nothing about Farmacia S.S Annunziata and the name is so long-winded that this is the last time I will type it!

The notes, according to Luckyscent, include patchouli from Indonesia. Yip, that's it, although I expect there is other stuff in there, of course. Because I wore this at the same time as Patchouli Noir, I couldn't help but compare the two fragrances. The opening is startlingly different to any other patchouli fragrance I have encountered. The first time I wore it, I kept on thinking I could smell some sort of bug spray or insecticide, so strong and camphorous was this. The patchouli is bone dry, with an initial smell of rum or cognac. I wouldn't say that it starts intense, but it leaves, as I said, a very austere smell in its wake, and I can see what Luckyscent mean when they say it smells medicinal.

The heart continues in much the same vein. At one point the intensity of that camphorous note comes across like eacalyptus, resinous even. This fragrance does not sweeten at all and remains somewhat aloof. In the dry down Patchouly Indonesiano does lose its intensity and becomes milder, but at no point can I say it is an accommodating perfume. Kudos to it - it is unlike any other patchouli fragrance I have tried, and I have tried a good few. However, it is close to off putting to me, but like a lot of good perfumes, it teeters on the line between compelling and repulsive, leaving you wanting to discover just that little bit more about it.

I find Patchouli Noir a more wearable fragrance and I could see myself reaching for it more often were I to own a bottle, but Patchouly Indonesiano wins hands down for originality.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Il Profumo Patchouli Noir

I went through a bit of a patchouli craving a couple of months ago and ordered a number of samples from Luckyscent. One of them was Patchouli Noir, of which i had read some very good reviews.

The notes from Luckyscent include mint, cedarwood, patchouli, poppy seed and vanilla. I suspect this is a relatively sparse list, but the two primary notes give you an idea of what is to come - essentially a strong patchouli softened and cozied later by the vanilla. However, it is not as simple as that. The opening minutes provide that characteristic feel of a true patchouli fragrance, with plenty of camphorous, cocoa patchouli. If you've ever tried Borneo 1834 by Serge Lutens, for example, you will know what I mean, although I think Patchouli Noir is perhaps a little stronger in the opening.

The patchouli note becomes richer and almost 'thickens' as the fragrance progresses and becomes a little sweeter. I haven't a clue what a poppy note smells like in perfume and whether its presence is felt or not, I cannot vouch for. After this, Patchouli Noir begins to morph quite noticeably as a much stronger vanilla note takes over. Fortunately, for me, this is a not a cloyingly sweet vanilla, but warm, enveloping and almost cozy in feel. There is still an edge of Patchouli to balance things which now has more of a minty feel. It's interesting, to be sure.

In the late dry down Patchouli Noir becomes very relaxed in feel, with the vanilla much cozier, almost a skin scent, which is a dramatic turnaround from the intense, patchouli-laden start.

I do like Patchouli Noir, only I was expecting it to be perhaps a bit darker and more challenging than it actually turned out to be, but nevertheless it is very well done. I think it is a patchouli scent for patch lovers, but won't deter others who are perhaps a bit more wary of the note and is a good compromise.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Perfume for a long day and journey?

Today is a very early start as I am up at 5am to drive to Bournemouth for work. For those of you who aren't familiar with the UK, Bournemouth is a large university and resort town on England's south coast, in Dorset, situated to the west of Southampton.

It takes about 2.5-3 hours to drive to Bournemouth from Tunbridge Wells, depending on traffic and my colleague and I are going only for the day. This means leaving at 6am and getting back at 9pm, with a day's work sandwiched in between. I feel tired already!

So I was wondering what to wear for the journey and for some reason I am in the mood for patchouli. I'm not sure why - perhaps I feel the need for inward contemplation and patchouli sometimes assists me in that respect.

So I'm wearing Noir Patchouli by Histoires de Parfums on one arm and Intrigant Patchouli by Parfumerie Generale on the other.

What perfume do you like to wear on a long (ish) journey? Would travelling by aeroplane change your mind?

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Gucci Guilty

Today I tried Gucci Guilty (for men) for the first time. Described by Gucci as an aromatic fougere, Guilty includes notes of lemon, lavender, orange flower, patchouli and cedar wood. 

I have to be honest, I don't really have much to say about Gucci Guilty. To be fair, it doesn't smell bad, but it is so yawn-inducingly bland that I don't have much of an opinion.

It starts off smelling quite citrusy, then gains a bit of sweetness, perhaps by the lavender, then fades to an unobtrusive light woods, with perhaps a touch of amber. The presence of patchouli   is muted, as is so often the case and that's it folks. Gucci Guilty. I'd feel guilty that something so bland has been released.


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