Saturday, 29 October 2011

Acqua di Parma? It must be getting to Christmas!

I don't know what it is like in north America, Europe or anywhere else for that matter, but here in the UK the countdown to Christmas appears well underway. Marks and Spencer is already stocking mince pies and the department stores have been taken over by Christmas decorations, whisky bottles and fancy chocolates. Never mind that it isn't even Halloween yet.

Something I've noticed since becoming more interested in perfume is that Acqua di Parma always seems to step up its presence and advertising in the run up to Christmas. Perhaps it is just more noticeable, but I don't really notice them any other time of year. The strange thing for me is that I don't think that any of the perfumes in Acqua di Parma's range is really suited to the colder winter months, especially Christmas, when I think of roaring fires, spicy puddings, rich meals, cosying up in snug clothes sipping warmed alcoholic drinks and all that cliched stuff. I mean, most of the perfumes in the range, for men at least, are essentially citrus colognes, albeit very well done ones, while in the ladies range you have powdery florals of iris and magnolia. Hardly the stuff of winter, I think.

Maybe that's not the point. After all, a lot of people, especially when buying gifts for others, might not necessarily think of what perfumes are suited to a season, particularly if they only buy perfume once a year. I'm not intending to come across snobbish. People are welcome to do what they want to. It's just that I'm surprised that Acqua di Parma is associated with Christmas time in my mind. 

As a general question, although it's obviously a matter of personal choice, do you have any perfume in mind that reminds you especially of the Christmas season?

Thursday, 27 October 2011

CB I Hate Perfume Musk Reinvention

Fans of CH I Hate Perfume are probably going to hate me for saying this, but I find Musk Reinvention underwhelming. I think it is better than Burning Leaves, and has more presence, which is a good thing. As with Burning Leaves, I have the absolute, which is in oil format and is quite slow to warm up on skin and release its aroma. I still find it somewhat curiously muted and one dimensional.

As far as musks go, I can't quite get my head around Musk Reinvention. Its not a skin musk in the sense of being a sexy, warm scent. Likewise it isn't a white/laundry musk by any means. Its not skanky/animalic either, despite having read a few reviews that describe it thus. Not on my skin anyway.

If anything, Musk Reinvention reminds me of a much weaker, less potent version of a Middle-Eastern musk oil I have tried, which is more spicy/floral than the Westernised idea of a musk. Having said that, I still don't find it particularly compelling or interesting and was hoping for so much more after having read a lot of very positive reviews.

Musk Reinvention is not a poor perfume by any means, but it just isn't for me. I just don't know what all the fuss is about.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

CB I Hate Perfume Burning Leaves

I have one word to sum up CB I Hate Perfume's Burning Leaves - disappointing. I'm sorry, but that is honestly what I feel. I've been trying this one over the last few days and I have an analogy for it. I picture a lovely jelly, all taut and quivering as it comes out the fridge. That is the first ten to fifteen minutes of Burning Leaves, when it smells smoky, yet quite sweet. However after being left for a little while at room temperature, the jelly softens at the edges and turns to an aqueous blob. This is Burning Leaves once the initial opening fades.

I know this sounds harsh and perhaps it's something to do with the fact that I'm sampling the oil-based perfumes in the line. I find oil based perfumes very often quite muted and dull. Burning Leaves, when first applied, hardly smells of anything at all. After a couple of minutes the smell of smoke gradually appears as the oil warms up on skin, but it never gets beyond this. After about an hour or two, this fragrance has almost faded on my skin.

I have another feeling about Burning Leaves, and I'll probably be shot for this by fans of the CB line, but I don't really think this perfume smells that realistically of burning leaves, quite frankly. The part of it I do smell for half an hour reminds me a bit of Winter Woods and Fireside Intense by Sonoma Scent Studio. I have often smelled burning leaves and other vegetal matter, on bonfires, at garden allotments and so forth and to me the realistic smell is both attractive and repulsive. Close up, the sugars in leaves burn, creating an intense caramelised smell, mixed with acrid, sweet smoke. It's a very unique and evocative smell. To me Burning Leaves never quite captures that accord.

I feel I am being a bit unfair here. Burning Leaves doesn't smell bad, by any means, but I do fault it for its brevity, and for a perfume that is purported to mimic the realism of a smell, I don't personally think it quite achieves that. 

Monday, 24 October 2011

A Monday visit to London

I had to be in the City of London this morning for work. I wasn't sure how long it was going to take, but in the end I finished what I had to do and instead of heading straight back to Tunbridge Wells, I decided to call in on my previous colleagues, who are based close to Victoria Station. I haven't seen them since I left the job, more than three and a half years ago, so it was great to see them all again. I never left under strained circumstances, so there is no baggage here, which made it much easier and nicer. I think they were surprised to see me, as I arrived unannounced. Although I have moved on a lot in the three years or so, I found myself feeling slightly emotional seeing them and the office again and we had a good chuckle as we relived some good times. Although to outsiders these things would appear mundane, such as some of the Christmas lunches we had, who went on the coffee run and who of our ex colleagues were the most boring, etc, it was fun to reflect on past times. I felt a bit sad as I left - I've moved on to a different life, but they are all still working in the same place, doing the same thing...

Seeing as I was but a stone's throw away, I decided to also pop into Les Senteurs on Elizabeth Street. Recently I wrote about how I was disappointed at how much their samples have increased in price, but I'm glad to say that they are just as happy to provide you with free samples if you do drop by. I managed to get samples of Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier's Ambre Precieux, ELDO's Like This and Tom of Finland, Andy Tauer's Pentachords Auburn and Parfumerie Generale's Bois Blond.

There was a lot more I would have liked to take with me, but one doesn't want to take advantage too much. I saw the new Mona di Orio Oud and, interestingly, some car fragrances from Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier, which are wonderfully packaged and I thought were simply new perfumes until I was informed otherwise.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

L'Artisan Nuit De Tuberose

I should start by stating that as much as I like Tuberose as a note (in a way), I find it very difficult to wear a lot of tuberose-heavy perfumes, especially those that emphasise its heady, fleshy, tropical, vamp-like qualities. I know its meant to be the age of genderlessness in perfume, but even today, for a man wearing something like that in public, particularly in an office environment, could be disastrous, to say the least.

I came to Nuit De Tuberose quite late, only first trying it a good six months after it was released, and since then I have tried it occasionally. However since L'Artisan was stocked locally in my town, I've worn it more often and am rapidly learning to appreciate this cerebral take on tuberose. I interprete Nuit De Tuberose as a hologram, or even negative, of tuberose. I suppose what I mean is that when I smell Nuit De Tuberose, my senses tell me that tuberose as a note is there, but in some way it is represented inversely. It's almost as if tuberose has been deconstructed, some parts stripped away (its more obviously fleshy and tropical/coconut/creamy attributes) and then put back together again to reveal something altogether more mysterious and lean, yet still tuberose. So taking the imagery of a negative, I can still see the picture of the subject matter, provided I concentrate and squint and 'hold it up to  the light', but it is other-worldly.

The notes for Nuit De Tuberose include pink berries, cardamom, clove, pepper, tuberose, orange blossom, ylang ylang, rose, mango, angelica, sandalwood, pallisander, musk, benzoin and styrax. This is where I am coming from with my negative analogy - the notes tell me that this is a tropical, tuberose perfume, packed full of florals, yet when one sprays and wears this on skin it comes across spicy (not surprising, considering all the spice notes listed) and dries down to quite a resinous, almost incense-like note (again, perhaps not that surprising considering the resins listed). But its the way the floral notes are represented that to my mind make this perfume genius. They combine in a way that I personally have never encountered before, making tuberose seem almost masculine, quite a feat. 

I wouldn't say that Nuit De Tuberose is an easy perfume to wear and get to know. I think its rewards reveal themselves slowly, with numerous wearings, but I've come to love this perfume. While I wouldn't say Nuit De Tuberose is masculine, it is the most masculine-friendly tuberose perfume I know of. 

Friday, 21 October 2011


The rest of my samples have finally arrived. It's taken a day shy of a month, but at least they're here. 


Wednesday, 19 October 2011

L'Artisan Batucada

Fenwick in Tunbridge Wells stocks the L'Artisan line now, as I may have mentioned before. The other day I found Batucada on the shelves. What is it about this name, but I keep on wanting to call it Barracuda! Anyway, the official list of notes from L'Artisan's website is brief in the extreme: Tiare flower, Caipirinha accord and skin notes.

In reality, Batucada is a very well executed citrus fragrance, with a bit more oomph than is usually encountered in this genre. When I wore it, I detected mostly a luscious orange and mandarin note, a lovely combination of sweet citrus yet with just enough acidity or bite. There is also an underlying tropical-ness to this perfume, which to me smells like orange juice just slightly sweetened by coconut milk. Not the creamy coconut flesh mind you, but the clear juice one finds in the hollow middle. 

As Batucada dries down, the citrus does fade somewhat and is joined by a note that is ever so slightly musky, but more salty really. I suppose this is the skin notes they refer to.

I actually think Batucada is a really nice perfume, a citrus that manages to last quite decently, and is just different enough to stand out a bit. I wouldn't say it is a massively complicated fragrance, and definitely reminds me of summer and warmer weather, so I can't really see myself wearing this over the next few months as we go from autumn to winter. I don't know how realistically this perfume evokes Brazil and the 'effervescence and rhythm of Rio' as L'Artisan purport, but  I do like the top and middle notes the best, when it smells fun, fresh, yet quite sophisticated for what it is.

Monday, 17 October 2011

A visit to London, running for the Stroke Association and perfume, of course

 I don't think I've mentioned this before, but about two months ago my better half took up running again and as part of the motivation to keep going, signed up for a 10km run as part of raising money for a charity. This took place about six weeks ago and she completed the race in approximately 1hr 17min. Since then she has kept up the good work and yesterday took part in another 10km race in London's Hyde Park, this time for the Stroke Foundation UK. She did very well, completing the race in just under 59 minutes, shaving 18 minutes off her personal best! I know I am perhaps biased, but I think that is pretty damn impressive, so well done my wife.

London, as ever, was absolutely manic. I think it's the busiest I've ever seen it in mid-October, on a Sunday. Similarly to the last time we were there, in July, it was just as difficult to get around with a pushchair, not helped by the fact that some Underground lines weren't running due to engineering works. 

As always, no visit to London is complete for me without at least one perfume excursion. Unfortunately I did not manage to get to Selfridges, Harrods or Liberty, and Les Senteurs was closed. On the subject of Les Senteurs, I've always sung its praises, and nothing has led me to believe that this store offers anything less than stellar service, but I am disappointed at how expensive their samples have got. Not long ago you could order 6 generous samples for £15 inclusive of postage, then it went up to £18 which is still very reasonable. Now you can only order 4 samples at £5 per item. If you worked that out on a 6-sample basis, that is a price increase of 67%. I know raw materials and other costs go up, but that is a big jump, sadly.

Anyway, back on topic, I did manage to go to House of Fraser in Victoria. If you know this part of town at all, you may recall that this department store used to be the flagship of a group of stores called Army and Navy. Although they've been owned by House of Fraser since 1976, I still prefer the name Army and Navy Stores. It sounds more quaint. Well, House of Fraser carries a solid range of perfumes, but fairly standard. On this occasion I saw that they are now stocking the DSquared line. I tried two of them, the names escape me. There were about ten of these blighters, so I honestly couldn't remember but I thought they smelled quite nice. They lacked a bit of oomph, fading half way through but I thought for what they are they are decent.

I also sprayed on a blotter possibly my favourite Guerlain, Le Heure Bleu, in eau de parfum concentration. Honestly, this perfume just has a knack of speaking to me. I can't really explain, but smelling it is like opening a door into a world of grace, mystery and contemplation.

The final perfume I tried, on a blotter, was Bottega Veneta. My word, but this was entirely unexpected. It is lovely, lovely, lovely. I don't know how it wears on skin but it reminded me quite a lot of the style of Serge Lutens, in perhaps a slightly more pared down style. It smelled quite plumy, with hints of leather and amber. If this is a mainstream perfume, then we need more of this! Yum.

So, after a Chinese meal at our old haunt in Strutton Ground we headed back home, only to find that there were engineering works on the mainline trains as well, so we had to get a replacement bus back to Tunbridge Wells from Tonbridge (meaningless I know, unless you live in Britain,...). We waited half an hour for the bus, while the driver sat in his cab finishing eating his takeaway while we shivered in the chill evening, finally getting back home at about 9pm that night. The kids were absolutely stuffed, but the good news is that they slept well!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Samples frustration

As some of you might recall, I ordered a whole bunch of samples from The Perfumed Court in September. 22 September to be precise. About 10 days later I received the first lot of samples, which was great. I didn't think 10 days was necessarily unreasonable coming from the USA to the UK. Then a few days later I received an email stating that because one of my other samples still wasn't in stock they would send the rest of the samples rather than delaying any further. That was on 3 October. On 8 October I received about six emails stating that my order had shipped. I presume each email related to a separate shipment, or perhaps not. I really don't know. Well, it is now 15 October and I still haven't received anything.

I hate to be picky and come across as a moaner, because I usually am not, I promise you, but I do find this delay a bit unreasonable. I ordered about 20 samples and to date have only received 9 of them. Now I know the people who run The Perfumed Court do it mostly part time (I think) and that they are each based in different parts of the USA and thus stock is not located in a central location, but still, I think this service is just a bit tardy, considering I did part  with close on $100 more than three weeks ago and so far I have less than 50% of what I paid for.

I'd be interested in finding out what your experiences have been, if any. I'd prefer if you emailed me rather than posted here, because my intention is not to bad mouth The Perfumed Court, but I do find my experience with them a bit patchy. Still, I do like what they stock, which is a fantastic select of often hard-to-find stuff.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Weekend roundup

Well, it's weekend again here in the UK, and another mostly unseasonal one its been. It still hasn't turned very cool, although the nights are drawing in very quickly now. The clocks turn back on the 30th and it is almost Halloween! I can't believe how fast this year is going. Again...

Perfume-wise it has been good though. I've worked through my Serge Lutens samples and was also very pleased to encounter Tubereuse Criminelle. The only one I haven't written about yet is Iris Silver Mist. I'll have to save that for another week.

As the weather is so strange and unseasonal, I don't really know what to try on. Just when I think it is cooling down, the days will end warmly, with some humidity. I don't really want to wear any citrus or light perfumes now, but at the same time I don't feel quite ready for the heavies. 

My wife is running a 10km race for charity on Sunday, in London's Hyde Park. She's getting very fit and I do envy her. I wish I would get off my arse and start getting in shape. Well, there's always next week...

So, two questions:
  • what perfume to wear during change of seasons?
  • what perfume would you wear to a sports event, assuming you are merely a spectator?
Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Serge Lutens Rose de Nuit

I think folks might be getting a little tired of my Serge Lutens week. I'm almost finished, I promise. Rose de Nuit is the last one. 

I am a great fan of rose fragrances. I've tried a good few and Rose de Nuit is one that I've wanted to sample for a long time. One of my all-time favourite rose perfumes is Une Rose by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle. It is dark, fleshy, complex, rich, sexy and just plain brilliant. It's perhaps no surprise that Rose de Nuit ticks a lot of boxes for me too. Like Une Rose it is so much more than simply a rose fragrance. I love the start, am not so sure about the middle and am sucked in by the dry down. Rose de Nuit, like Une Rose, shares a warmth, complexity and sophistication, hinting at roses, but in a very roundabout way. It starts quite fresh and rosy, then quickly morphs into something altogether darker, becoming woodier, suffused with a sweetish rose note. I love this phase. 

In the heart it smells a bit more leathery, with a note slightly like varnish and lacquer. I find this phase ever so slightly synthetic. In the dry down Rose de Nuit becomes much earthier and fleshy, hinting at carnal pleasure. It is not particularly dry on my skin, which other writers have suggested and at this point it reminds me most of Une Rose, when it reveals a fleshy, animalic and almost wine-like note. It is a stunning perfume.

Like Santal de Mysore, which I wrote about a few days ago, it is one of those perfumes that elicited a 'wow' moment for me, which is a good sign. As with Santal de Mysore, I tried a wax sample of Rose de Nuit a couple of years ago and again, it bears very little resemblance to the actual perfume, except for the extreme dry down phase.

Although I love Rose de Nuit, I still think it comes a very close second to Une Rose, which is still my favourite rose fragrance of all!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle

I was in Fenwicks, one of my local department stores yesterday, when lo and behold, on the shelf I saw Serge Luten's Tubereuse Criminelle. I knew that this is the time of year when one of the good uncle's non-export perfumes is made available as a limited edition to the general public outside of Paris, but I didn't realise that this year is the turn of this wonder.

Now, I should mention upfront that I struggle with Tuberose as a note. I find it very often to be too feminine and floral for me to pull off successfully and I feel self conscious. Nevertheless, I decided to take a risk at lunchtime, knowing full well that I had to return to the office, not an environment for sillage-crazy tuberose. Well, I was amazed. The opening of Tubereuse Criminelle astounded me. I can honestly say that I have never smelled anything like it. I was not prepared for the pungent, intense shock of a note that smells so strongly medicinal. To me this note smells like TCP, an antiseptic that I knew from my childhood. Others have described the opening as smelling like diesel, gasoline, winter green, Deep Heat and camphor. I can understand how this perfume could evoke all those aromas. 

Tubereuse Criminelle smells quite sinister to start with. Just underneath that medicinal note is something fleshy,almost decaying. It is almost the perfume equivalent of minty mouth freshener just, barely just, covering up the smell of bad breath. Of course, I am not suggesting for a moment that this is what Tubereuse Criminelle actually smells like. If this seems gross, its not. It's brilliant, possibly the most compelling opening I've ever experienced in a perfume,.

The tuberose gradually comes to the fore, tinged with orange blossom, but it never gets too sweet, luscious and overwhelming. It stays quite spicy and dry, probably from the cloves and what I think might be a touch of coriander. Luckily for me Tubereuse Criminelle never becomes too feminine and I didn't become self conscious about wearing it.

This is a slightly abstract concept of tuberose, one that I am enchanted with, rendered almost, but not quite, sexless, which is saying a lot when tuberose is involved. If there is another tuberose perfume that does this for me too, it is Nuit de Tuberose, by L'Artisan.

As much as I am blown away by the underlying beauty and subtlety of Tuberose Criminelle, I am most spellbound by its ugly duckling opening. I would happily buy a bottle just for that.

Image credit - and/or Perfume Shrine

Monday, 10 October 2011

How the time has flown...

I can still remember the day clearly. My wife and I flew to the UK on 9 October 2001, about to embark on an adventure (not through time and space) and a new life in England. We had two suitcases and enough cash to last us for about a month, if that.

Ten years on, we are still here, and now own a house (well, actually the bank owns it, more or less), have two children, furniture and a hell of a lot more 'stuff' than could be fit into two suitcases.

Are we better people ten years later? I like to think so. In a way it feels like I've fit more into a decade than I did into the first three decades of my life.

This is a perfume blog, but I'd like to dedicate this post to England, and its people, who've made us feel welcome and offered us a life of opportunity.

Serge Lutens Encens et Lavande

I'm on a bit of a Lutens bender, as you may have gathered, as I work my way through some of the non-export samples I got from The Perfumed Court recently.

Encens et Lavande was the one I was most doubtful I would like. It's a bit strange, because a few years ago I used to love the smell of lavender, and in fact I still do - the front path of our garden is lined with lavender that blooms magnificently in summer, scenting the air when it is hot and attracting lots of bees and bumblebees. I suppose for me the reason why lavender can be a bit off-putting in perfume (aside from the cliched old-granny associations) is that it can overpower and dominate, at the expense of other notes.

When I ordered this one, I was very interested in finding out how it compares to Gris Clair, another lavender perfume in Lutens' lineup and, funnily enough, the only full bottle in his line that I happen to own. Although I do like Gris Clair, the lavender note in it can become a bit overbearing and cloying at times, particularly in warmer weather. It is also a curious juxtaposition of warm and cold, sweet and herbal. Gris Clair is an austere scent, but in my opinion very well done. I can understand how it does have its detractors though.

The opening of Encens et Lavande left me feeling a bit dismayed. The lavender is strong, pungent and almost oily. It really does smell like you have just mangled the flowers and stems, letting the essential oil drip into a bottle, unadulterated. In a way, I do admire this, and is typical of Lutens ability to shock or jolt the senses, particularly in an opening. Just as I thought this was going to be a no-no for me, the incense seeps through into the composition, tempering the lavender and created a wonderful yin and yang of the resinous, pungent lavender, and a warmer, woodier, yet smoky incense. I haven't seen a lot of notes listed, but two additional ones mentioned are amber and clary sage. As the fragrance moves into its heart and dry down, the amber manages to sweeten the composition, but not too much, still allowing the more resinous incense and lavender to play against each other, while the sage adds a slight herbalness that manages to come across as aromatic rather than too green.

I read a review somewhere that said Gris Clair moves from light to dark, while Encens et Lavande does the opposite and ends up as a fairly warm and comforting scent. I would concur with the opinion. I wouldn't ever say that it ends up warm and fluffy, but it feels like one is enveloped in a warm, snug blanket, sat in front of a subsiding fire in winter, with a smell of slightly sweet herbs mingling with smoke from glowing embers , although I must stress that this is not really a smoky fragrance. 

Although I could and would wear this in warmer weather, I can really see myself wearing this mainly in the cooler months and I can't wait to try this over Christmas. It's a bit weird, but actually I would say this one veers towards masculine, if only because lavender is so often used in men's fragrances (which makes me wonder why lavender is then so often thought of as an old lady smell?).  Another winner from Lutens and I am so glad I've managed to sample this excellent perfume.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Bleu de Chanel revisited

The best thing about Bleu de Chanel is its slick and sleek packaging and bottle. Millions was spent on the marketing campaign last year and by all accounts it has worked; this along with the juggernaut Chanel brand has catapulted Bleu de Chanel into the heady realm of one of the most successful and popular men's fragrances of the last twelve months.

Well, frankly, I clearly am not one of those who view Bleu de Chanel thus. When I wrote about it more than a year ago, I felt that it was a boring, generic and uninspired perfume. Twelve months on my opinion hasn't changed. I wore it again today and I can barely recall a single thing about it, other than it must be the most yawn-inducing dreck ever put out by Chanel. There's nothing bad about it, there's nothing good about it. It's telling that the only thing that stands out for me is the packaging. Although I've never cared much for Allure and its flankers, they are a damn sight better than Bleu de Chanel. If this is the way Chanel's mainstream perfumes are headed, I think I'm going to head in the opposite direction.

Serge Lutens Santal de Mysore

It was with great glee that I recently opened one of my sample packages from The Perfumed Court and saw the little vial of Santal de Mysore. I was quite taken with the intensity of the appearance of the juice itself, which in a certain light is jewel-like and looks like it carries a punch, a bit like others in Lutens' stable, such as Fumerie Turque, Chergui, Ambre Sultan, etc. 

I've seen pictures of Santal de Mysore packaged in the standard-issue tall bottle, common to the export range and saw it listed on Luckyscent's website, so it leads me to believe that this has been available as a limited edition export at some point. Well, I certainly have never seen it here in the UK, but that's not to say it hasn't. In any event, the bell jar pictured above is so beautiful that I preferred to present this picture instead.

The opening of Santal de Mysore is a little strange. There is quite a hefty dose of sandalwood, but it is mingled with certain notes that are decidedly gourmand. I immediately got the connection with another, more recent Lutens creation, Jeux de Peau. I'm not saying the opening is identical, far from it. While Jeax de Peau smells very bread-and-pastry like, Mysore     is a more restrained version. Many reviews I've read of Mysore describe it as smelling like a sandalwood and curry pudding, or something to that effect. While cumin is listed in the notes, I honestly do not get any curry association with this perfume. I do get a gourmand feel to start, with a little spice, yes. But curry? No. 

The middle phase of Mysore is possibly my favourite part, when I detect a musky skin scent, ever so slightly dirty/sexy, that reminds me a little of Kurkdjian's Absolue Pour le Soir, mixed with a woody sandalwood and what I thought was a gorgeous incense note cutting through. The notes don't mention incense, but list styrax and benzoin, which I think might be lending this effect. 

In the dry down the perfume sweetens slightly and becomes milder, when I can most identify with the progression from Mysore to Santal Blanc to Jeux de Peau. Although these three perfumes were all released at very different times, they all share some lineage. Santal de Mysore is a perfume that has marvelous presence and longevity. I dabbed it from a vial and it wears very well that way, when it is warm and intimate, but still full of character. I suspect spraying from a bottle it could produce quite a lot of sillage. 

I haven't tried many Lutens non-exports, but Santal de Mysore is one of those perfumes that to me I almost knew from first spray I was going to like. I love it when I experience that thought-burst of "wow, this is amazing" and my senses go zing! That's a great sign for me that I have a new perfume love.

Incidentally, a few years ago I ordered the wax samples of the non-exports and I have to say that they give you very little of the true feel and smell of the actual perfume. After I had a shower, the faint smell left was closest to what the wax sample smelled like. I think Santal de Mysore would work equally well on man or woman.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Weekend roundup

I haven't done one of these roundups in a while, not that anyone would miss it anyway, but still...

For what it's worth, a few new releases have made their way to my neck of the woods in the last month or so and while I haven't felt hugely compelled to write about these, I thought I would give a brief overview of my impressions of some the more mainstream releases of late.

Elie Saab Le Parfum - I can't remember much about it. I do recall a honey note, but it struck me as a very sweet perfume, full of musky undertones, but not particular compelling. Pass.

Calvin Klein Shock for Him - I've read some very favourable reviews of this one. Frankly, I don't get it. It smells generic and again, very sweet. Too sweet. Amber gone wrong. Pass.

Serge Lutens Vitriol d'oeillet - readers of my blog will know my love for the good uncle's perfumes. This is a strange one. I can't say it moves me. I also felt the same about Bas de Soie. Jeux de Peaux is the most interesting of his recent export releases, I think. Not quite a pass, but hovering on the fence. At least it doesn't smell like everything else out there.

Tom Ford Violet Blonde - I've only tried this one on paper. I haven't formed an opinion yet. It certainly smells decent. Time will tell. I need to try it on skin.

Diesel Loverdose - WTF. Pass already. Tacky, in capital, shiny, neon letters.

Prada Candy - Gorgeous bottle, must say. I'm not really sure of this one. It's not bad, but I just don't warm to Prada's perfumes. Candy still dries down to that weird incipid note that I get from all the Prada perfumes, masculine or feminine. I just don't like their house accord. Still, of the mainstream releases listed here it strikes me, with the Tom Ford, as the most decent of the  bunch.

I'm sure there are plenty more new releases out there, but these are the ones I've stumbled across. I can't say that I'm impressed generally. 

Friday, 7 October 2011

Ungaro III

Following on from my recent post on Ungaro I and II, I have also been sampling Ungaro III. Released in 1993, in short succession after I and II, Ungaro III has the distinction of being the only one of the triumvirate that is still in production and relatively easy to find.

Somewhat ironically, the only one still in production also happens to be, in my view, the least original of the three, and the one that seems most modern and 'in line' with other successful male perfume formulas of the 1990's. The notes include lavender, clary sage, rosewood, coriander, geranium, jasmine, rose, lily of the valley, patchouli, cedar, musk and moss. To be honest, these notes make Ungaro III appear a lot more complicated than it really is. On my skin this wears mostly as a slightly metallic, citrus scent for the duration. Mind you, it isn't a bad fragrance, but a case of been-there-done-that and I'm-sure-I've-smelled-this-before. If I were to compare it to a perfume, it reminds me a bit of Chanel's Egoiste Platinum. It's mostly about citrus, a hint of rose and cedar. 

I feel bad in a way being so neutral about Ungaro III. It is by no means a poor perfume, but it doesn't add anything new to my experience of perfume and is simply a decent, fairly predictable masculine almost-fougere. It certain smells a lot better than some of the dross out there at present, but I wouldn't go searching for a bottle. Now, if they would only bring back I and II....

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Ungaro I and II

So, my samples have arrived and today I tested Ungaro I and II. I'm guessing Ungaro doesn't get much attention, especially among the ladies. Look on Basenotes and there will be plenty of discussion about both of these, each of which is discontinued and very difficult to find, but this tends to be from a very male point of view.

Not surprisingly, both of these do tend to be more masculine and dating from 1991 and 1992 respectively, they feel a bit more eighties in style. Actually Ungaro I feels very eighties in some ways; II smells timeless to me. Getting a bit more specific, Ungaro I opens with quite a bit of lavender, probably my least favourite phase. Soon after it it develops into what I think is a fougere, but not as typical in style as some better known perfumes in this genre. It tends to be a bit woodier, with hints of rose and leather. I really like Ungaro I. It isn't a particularly loud perfume and in a way smells a bit like what I thought Domenico Caraceni would smell like, for some reason, but never did. It is also slightly herbal, with a touch of earthy patchouli, but well blended. 

Ungaro II reminds me in style very much of Guerlain, in particular Jicky meets Mouchoir de Monsieur meets Shalimar. There is also something about it that evokes Di Nicolai's New York, but luckily for me doesn't make me feel ill (I know New York has its avid fans, but it brings me to the edge of nausea, quite literally, and I've never been able to explain why). Ungaro II is essentially a blend of lavender, lemon/citrus, civet and vanilla. It smells great too, but I don't have much more to say about it because if you've smelled the Guerlains in particular, you will have a pretty good idea of what Ungaro II is like. Having said that, it is a very good fragrance and I like it.

The question I'm left asking is why were I and II discontinued? They are lovely fragrances, ever so slightly quirky and superior to some of the dross Ungaro has released since. After 1991 and 1992 came the marine wave, the obsession with clean and fresh. In a way I can see that poor  Ungaro I and II had little chance. Still, given the choice, were I able to get my hands on a bottle, I know which perfume I would go for.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Hooray, some samples at last

After a crappy Monday, I got home to discover that some of my samples from the Perfumed Court have arrived. I've been waiting with bated breath, so now I can't wait to try some Uncle Serge, Ungaro and some oud from Ajmal! Hopefully I'll find the time to actually blog about these for a change...


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