Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Geo F Trumper Eucris

Geo Trumper is one of those seemingly quaint businesses that can only be found in England. There is quite a history to Trumper, gentlemen perfumers  from Jermyn Street in St James, London. I used to work a couple of blocks away from Jermyn Street, on the dividing line between Piccadilly and Mayfair, and I spent many a lunchtime strolling the arcades between Piccadilly and Jermyn Street. St James itself is home to many gentleman clubs and one can still find many venerable institutions on and around Jermyn Street such as Dunhill, Trufitt and Hill, Trumper, Fortnum & Mason and Paxton & Whitfield (cheeses) to name but a few. I have been waiting to try Eucris for some time. We have a local chemist that stocks a surprisingly extensive range of Trumper products and within the last month they've started stocking Eucris. The notes include blackcurrant, cumin, coriander, jasmin, muguet, musk, sandalwood and moss. Now, if that isn't an intriguing list then I don't know what is. Eucris opens with a tart, fruity note, tinged with green, that I presume is the blackcurrant. It smells like both the fruit and the leaf. Although not listed, it smells like there is a bit of citrus in here too. After this initial opening, I detect a powdery oakmoss  emerging, which strengthens considerably. Eucris, like many of the other Trumper fragrances, smells very cologne-like and quite traditional. Despite the list of notes, I don't detect much florals here, nor spiciness. I don't know if it is a skin chemistry thing, but I failed to pick up much more than just a hint of cumin, while the jasmine and muguet completely eluded me; if they are here, they are very well disguised, or my nose is not trained well enough. One thing there is no shortage of is oakmoss. It is apparent from just after the opening right the way through to the far dry down and lends the perfume quite a dry, mossy chypre style. Again, the woods don't make a huge impact on my skin either and in the end Eucris wears on my skin as quite a severe, dry chypre. In a way it felt a bit like Mitsouko to me, not so much in exact smell, but perhaps a little in style, but more overtly masculine.

Do I like Eucris? Well, I'm not sure. It is a strange perfume and I think I need to give it a few more wearings to make a truly fair assessment. It is not quite like anything else I've worn before, which makes it quite intriguing to me, but I can see this as being a bit hit or miss for many. I don't know how many of you ladies are familiar with the Trumper line. Perhaps give some of them a go - there are other oddities in the line too, such as Eau de Quinine for example, while many are unapologetically masculine, but don't let that scare you. After all, if I can wear tuberose to work, you can stray over to the dark side that is Geo F Trumper! 

Jacques Bogart Silver Scent

It's seldom that I completely dismiss a fragrance. I like to think that I give most a fair chance, even those that don't begin promisingly. In fact, probably more so if they don't, because these can often surprise. However, I'm afraid to say that Silver Scent is not one of those. The notes include citrus notes, aromatic notes, orange blossom, spices, geranium, oud wood, teak bark, tonka bean and vetiver. On paper that reads as delicious and intriguing. The reality is very different though. Silver Scent opens with an astringent blast of synthetic citrus, cloying and so strong and vaporous that it made me gag and want to cough. I smell a lot of orange blossom, but it smells like flat orange soda. There is a sourness to this perfume that reminds me of clothes washed with cheap laundry detergent that haven't dried properly. You must have had this happen to you before - it isn't a nice smell. Later on the fragrance does mellow slightly but it is still pungent, penetrating, entirely synthetic in every way and I couldn't carry on with it; I had to wash it off. On paper it smelled even worse, but I still got that same sour clothes/detergent odour. I hate to be so dismissive of a perfume and perhaps one of you has even tried it and perhaps liked it, and if so, my apologies, but still, this is hideous, at least to me. What makes it even worse is that Silver Scent has such a great list of notes, but this does not remotely translate to the actual product. Pass.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Annick Goutal Eau de Sud

I find the Annick Goutal line a strange one. A lot of the feminine perfumes are rich, floral, blowsy perfumes; think Songes for example, while the masculines are mainly citrus-based, and slightly offbeat. Then you get the really odd, like Mandragore or Sables. This is not to say that Annick Goutal is a poor line. Far from it in fact, but I would say that generally speaking it doesn't float my boat. However, Eau de Sud is one that I really like. I think if you are looking for a citrus fragrance with a twist, and more importantly, one that can stand up to a bit of heat and humidity without fading within an hour, Eau de Sud might just be for you. The notes listed include bergamot, mandarin, grapefruit, lemon verbena, peppermint, basil, persian lime and woods. If this sounds very citrusy, it is, and the opening is a brisk, mouth-puckering blast of citrus, yet to me, not like a traditional cologne. The citrus fades to reveal quite a herbal heart, what with the basil, peppermint and the sort of citrusy, yet fragrant lime. In fact, later on Eau de Sud reminds me quite a lot of Eau Savage by Christian Dior; I think it might be the combination of citrus, verbena and basil in particular. For some reason I also find there is a saltiness to Eau De Sud, but not so much a sea saltiness, but the sort of saltiness you find when you lick the cut peel of a lovely, fragrant lemon. Have you ever found that with lemon? In spirit, I am also reminded a little of Sel de Vetiver, again not in actual smell, but that sensation of inhaling a humid, salt-laden breeze at the coast on a summery day.

Eau de Sud to me is a better and more interesting fragrance than the other well-known citrus in the Goutal line, Eau d'Hadrian. As I've already said, it is a citrus fragrance, but it has more going on than the usual suspects. It has enough herbs and woods to give it some longevity and interest, yet it remains fairly light and perfect for a warm summer day. While I suspect it might be favoured by men, I can't see any reason why a lady can't wear this. It is perfectly unisex and actually comes in both the masculine bottle pictured above left, and in the more usual, feminine bottle used by Goutal. I think it is a lovely perfume and highly recommend giving it a try.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle French Lover

French Lover (or Bois D'orage as it is known in the US) was one of the first fragrances I sampled from the Frederic Malle line. In many ways I had only recently become addicted to the whole perfume thing and Frederic Malle was about as niche as could be, for me, and in many ways still is. I admire quite a few perfumes from the line, but I would say that in general, they are not easy perfumes to like; they require a bit of perseverance and even then, there are some you might not grow to like. French Lover is one of those for me. For some reason I have never taken to it, although I do acknowledge that it has a certain something about it. The notes include pimento, galbanum, iris, angelica, cedarwood and vetiver. Other sources list incense, patchouli, mosses, musk, clove and bergamot. What I do know is that French Lover opens with a crackerjack shot of pepper/pink pepper, that reminds me almost of gunpowder, which I think might be the initial burst of galbanum. It is dry, dusty and almost cough-inducing, but as the top notes fade a more recognisable galbanum note seeps through, greener and sappier. Alongside this I detect a very definite clove note and some musk and cedar. There is a floral vibe going as well, or I thought it was floral but perhaps it is angelica. After about fifteen minutes or so I detected a vaguely sour note, slightly spicy and citrusy, which I thought is bergamot. That strange gunpowder note lingers. 

French Lover kept on reminding me of another perfume. At first I couldn't put my finger on it and then it struck me: Isfarkand by Ormonde Jayne. Isfarkand is all about pink pepper, musk and cedar, not a huge leap from pimento, musk, spices and cedar, it must be said. Thinking about it a bit more, I also detect a similarity to Cartier Declaration, without the cumin note. Into the heart and early dry down French Lover softens considerably, with a sweeter mossy note that strengthens and takes this into less austere territory. I must say that I don't detect any iris or patchouli, but that's not to say they aren't there. 

Writing this, I still can't quite say why I don't like French Lover more. It is a good perfume and I know it has lots of fans out there. Perhaps it's the association first of all - I don't personally think French Lover is a very apt name for it. I don't find it a particularly sexy fragrance. If anything it is quite austere and severe, particularly in the first third of development, but that's just my personal take on it. I think it is definitely one of the more masculine fragrances in the Malle line, but having said that, it would be interesting to smell this on a woman. I think a lady who enjoys the style embodied by Ormonde Jayne in particular would quite possibly enjoy this.

Image credit: a33.idata.over-blog.com

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Diptyque Tam Dao

Tam Dao is a fragrance that I actually own a full bottle of, a rare occurrence   for me, as I don't make a lot of full-bottle purchases. I am relatively familiar with the Diptyque line, having sampled Philosykos, Ofresia, L'eau de l'eau,  Neroli and Lierre. It's one of those fragrance lines that always strikes me as being effortlessly chic, not trying too hard, yet occupying a fairly niche position in the perfume world. I find almost all their fragrances relatively simple and understated, but curiously contemplative, none more so than Tam Dao. Sandalwood is renowned for inducing this almost meditative state in various forms, and it is no exception with Tam Dao, which is probably one of the most linear sandalwood perfumes I know. However, simple is not inferior, and Tam Dao is a marvelous perfume. The notes listed are sandalwood, rosewood, ambergris and cypress. Four notes and they combine effortlessly to produce a calming zen-like journey to the east. Tam Dao opens with sandalwood, which never leaves. It is quite a sweet opening, which might be the combination of the creaminess of sandalwood, the effect of rosewood and the greenness of cypress. Just cutting through is a slight smokiness, almost incense-like, but slightly salty, a bit like an ocean breeze loaded with ozone, in a good way, believe me. I take this to be the ambergris accord. I read somewhere once that Tam Dao has real ambergris in it, but having read a fair bit about ambergris and its scarcity, I would be surprised if this is the case, but it does smell very much as described. 

Once the top fades, the sweetness is gone for good and Tam Dao becomes dry and fairly linear. It is still faintly smoky and salty and as already said, the sandalwood is top notch here. If you want a good reference point for sandalwood, I would recommend trying Tam Dao. I think it is a perfectly unisex fragrance, although for some reason I can't help thinking it might be preferred mostly by men, but ladies, you could do far worse than giving it a go. 

Tam Dao wears quite close to the skin and it is subtle, calming and very much takes me on a personal journey. I love to wear it in the evenings, particularly on a warm, slightly sultry evening, when its smoky, sea-laden mixture of woods takes me away to a place I can't quite reach in everyday life.

Image credit: thebroadroom.net/images/

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Alexander McQueen Kingdom

Following on from my previous post, I thought I would do a review of Kingdom today. Kingdom is one of those perfumes that has a reputation for being somewhat, shall we say, skanky. Like a lot of second hand knowledge that proliferates on the internet, I think this reputation is somewhat exaggerated. A common theme that emerges, particularly on Basenotes, I find, is that Kingdom smells a bit like a woman's unwashed genitals. Gasp. The note that is most talked about in this perfume is cumin, one of those ingredients that tends to polarise opinions. You get those that adore cumin and those that are cuminphobes. I personally fall into the former category. Getting back to genitals, I am not by any means a leading expert on lady bits and their odour, but in my limited experience, cumin smells far more like sweat than sex, the sort of sweat that comes from armpits or slightly stale clothes. But, I should stress, to my nose not dirty bodies or clothes, but merely used. In any event, in most cases cumin smells spicy to me rather than sweaty and I like it. 

I'll get back to the boudoir in a minute, but the notes per perfumeguide.co.uk include neroli, ginger, rose, jasmine, lily, cumin, sandalwood and myrrh. I purchased Kingdom as a blind buy about two years ago on sale at a local department store, for the princely sum of £15 - for 75ml of eau de toilette juice. My bottle is the one pictured top left, but the usual bottle seems to be more of a three-dimensional heart shape, which I suspect is the eau de parfum. I wonder how much a bottle costs now that McQueen has sadly passed away? I had heard even before his death that Kingdom was out of production and becoming harder to find anyway. On my skin Kingdom opens very bright and citrusy, with quite a punch of florals too. It is the most feminine phase in my opinion, in what I think is far more of a unisex perfume than is given credit. The citrus dies away very quickly, leaving an emerging rose note that mingles wonderfully with a little jasmine and a well done zing of ginger. As the cumin starts to seep though the character of Kingdom changes from fresh and dewy to something slightly more avaricious. The heart of this perfume is all about the interplay of the rose and cumin and it is wonderful in my opinion. The rose, which starts as quite fresh and innocent, becomes not darker, but almost jammy. If one could take hundreds of rose petals, steep them in sugar syrup infused with lightly roasted cumin, and boil until a jam is formed, I think one would arrive at something approximating what Kingdom is at this stage. I think if anything, it is this jam-like, slightly sweet, yet seductively spicy, even marginally sweaty accord that some think smells a bit like female parts. I think. I may be wrong. For a very short while I can make this association if I think very hard, but ultimately, I just find Kingdom downright sexy, without having to analyse it to death.

The sandalwood makes its presence felt not long after this and I think the myrrh blends in quite well, lending a slightly sour, dusty note that goes very well with the wood and spice, and tempers the jammy rose at the same time. Into the dry down and Kingdom becomes for me a classic spicy rose combo, fairly linear hereon in, but still compelling. I don't know if it is just me, but I don't find Kingdom that feminine. I think if the spicy cumin was missing, the rose might become a bit too sweet and cloying, but it is well balanced. I think Kingdom wears better in warmer weather; I've been wearing it quite a lot this summer and it is working wonderfully on my skin. It is not a heavy fragrance, and if anything, the rose and spices make it seem almost refreshing. In fact, I would say if you are looking to wear something this summer that does not involve the usual citrus cologne, give Kingdom a go, if you can still find it, and before it gets expensive.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Juliette Has a Gun

I noticed that our local Fenwick department store, which already has some decent niche-ish fragrance lines such as Serge Lutens, Van Cleef & Arpels, Creed and Penhaligons is now stocking the Juliette Has a Gun line too. A while back, when I was going through a bit of an oud phase, I had thought of ordering a sample of Midnight Oud, but for some reason never got round to it. Midnight Oud is not included here, but I think I have read that it was only a limited edition anyway, so perhaps that is why. I understand that Juliette is a line of rose-centered perfumes and I must say that this does appear to be the case. I tried the whole range on paper, but only tried Calamity J on skin. My wife, who is not a huge perfume fan, but does like rose, enjoyed all of them, which is a rare occurrence for her! I must say that none of them blew me out the water - they are all solid, decent perfumes, but I think if you are someone who has had some niche exposure, particularly to some of the edgier rose fragrances around, you might be left feeling slightly let down. Having said that, I thought they were all quite nice. 

The reason I wore Calamity J is that I had read that it is the most masculine in the line. I can't believe I just wrote that - I thought I was a male who is not averse to pushing the so-called gender boundary in perfume, but hey ho, that's how I felt today. Calamity J is nice, no two ways about it. It is quite a gentle fragrance though, slightly spicy, slightly ambery, with a rose accord that is neither too dewy and girly, nor grandma powdery. I really liked it and it wore well on my skin. I felt that it was perfectly unisex and I would wear it again without hesitation. Having said that, I possess samples of what I believe are better and more daring rose perfumes, such as Frederic Malle Un Rose, Le Labo Rose 31, Rose Poivre by The Different Company, Voleur de Roses by L'Artisan and I could go on. In fact, one of my more interesting rose perfumes (funnily enough the only one that I own a full bottle of) is Alexander Mcqueen's Kingdom, which I bought for £15 on a sale about two years ago, but that will be the subject of a separate review another day.

But I like the Juliette Has a Gun line. The bottles in particular are quite striking and have a nice heft and feel in the hand. They are solidly built and look lovely. The juice is decent too, if not groundbreaking, but if you are someone who is looking to move on from department store rose staples such as Stella and Paul Smith, you could do worse than giving this line a go.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Parfumerie Generale - Cuir Venenum

The picture on the left is kind of how I imagined Cuir Venenum would smell, or perhaps it is how I hoped it would smell. I'm generally quite a fan of PG, having sampled a lot of their range and they tend to be quite interesting, rather unusual perfumes. Cuir Venenum is unusual, granted, but not in the way I wanted it to be. The notes listed are leather, orange blossom, myrrh, citrus, cedar, coconut(!) and honeyed musk. On my skin Cuir Venenum opens with a slightly peppery, musky kick, with what I think is a dose of bergamot. I did detect something floral, which at the time I thought might be ylang-ylang, but probably is the orange blossom. However, it isn't an orange blossom note I'm familiar with. The first time I tried Cuir Venenum, I did not detect leather at all. On subsequent wearings I do find a bit of leather, but if you are a leather fiend who likes them strong, this will leave you wanting. Knize Ten this is definitely not.

For some reason Cuir Venenum seems fruity to me and I would have classified it as a more feminine, fruity leather. At times I detect a plummy note, which with the cedar was not miles away in vibe from Feminite du Bois. This was especially so in the heart and dry down. This is a very subtle, slightly sweet leather fragrance and I can see it being quite popular with women in particular. I  think Cuir Venenum is a decent, understated fragrance, but is totally not my cup of tea; I much prefer PG's other leather scent, Cuir D'Iris.

Speaking of leather fragrances, which ones do you like? I particularly enjoy Montale's Cuir D'Arabie and also like Parfum D'Empire's Cuir Ottoman. I find Knize Ten quite a challenge to wear, while I'm relishing the thought of sampling Serge Luten's Cuir Mauresque when it comes to London later this year.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Montale Greyland and Les Nez Let Me Play the Lion

I've had samples of Greyland and LMPTL for ages. I've always found them to be quite similar fragrances, so thought I would do a side-by-side review of the two today. The notes for Greyland are cedar, teak, sandalwood, pepper, elemi, cardamom, musk, benzoin and rock rose while those for LMPTL are sandalwood, cedar, incense and spices. As you can see, the notes are similar and the key here is the use of sandalwood and cedar. Greyland opens dry, with plenty of cedar, the sort that screams iso-e super, I suspect. I don't detect much else. It's not sweet, and I don't find it particularly spicy, despite the use apparently of pepper, elemi and cardamom. It's quite a strange opening. In the heart this becomes mostly about cedar and again, I struggle to detect much else. There is perhaps an ever-so-slight skankiness which might come from the rock rose and musk, but the overiding feel of this fragrance is harsh and dry. The sandalwood fails to make much of an impact, but the obvious association for me is to 10 Corso Como, with less sandalwood. It isn't a poor fragrance, but I honestly find it a bit boring.

LMPTL opens a bit sweeter than Greyland, but again, is a strongly cedar-dominant fragrance. There is more of a creaminess from the sandalwood, which is more apparent here. I don't know if my mind is drawing associations from the name, but there is a feel to this perfume that smells 'hot' - a little like dusty, grassy savannah, but having said that, the name comes from a Shakesperean play I think and has little if anything to do with lions themselves, but there you have it! Again, like with Greyland, I draw comparisons with 10 Corso Como. The fragrance overall is sweeter than Greyland and has more sandalwood. There is an incense in here too, which makes LMPTL wear even more like Corso Como than the other.

In summary, if I were to choose I think I would take LMPTL over Greyland. It is that little bit more interesting, but not by much. As I have samples of both of these and 10 Corso Como, I think I have three to choose from that are remarkeably similar, and in my opinion, all a little dull, if well-executed. Having said that, give one or all of them a try, if you haven't done so already. You never know.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Mandy Aftel and Natural Perfumery - Essence & Alchemy

I'm sure a lot of you will be familiar with Mandy Aftel, the name and perfumer behind Aftelier, for whom she creates entirely natural perfumes. This post is not about Aftelier perfumes, which I have not yet sampled, but rather, about a book that Mandy wrote in about 2001, called Essence & Alchemy, a Book of Perfume. For someone who is so interested in perfume (and I do read a lot generally) I am surprised that I haven't read more books about perfumery and perfumes. Our local library does not stock a great selection of perfume-related books; in fact they stock only three, one of which is the book by Mandy. If you have not read this one yet, I would urge you to give it a go if you are at all interested in perfume, particularly if you are curious about natural versus synthetic perfumery. Now, I want to make it very clear that I do not have particularly strong feelings for or against one or the other, and this is a real minefield of a topic. I should also state that it is only the first chapter, entitled The Spirit of the Alchemist: A Natural History of Perfume, that really goes into the natural versus synthetic issue in any great detail. The next five chapters cover essential perfume basics and then the construction of a perfume using the base, heart and top notes, with some very interesting discourse on the various materials, their origins in perfume and how to make some of them workable in perfumery. There is a very interesting chapter called Perfume and the Boudoir, which discussed sexuality and perfume, particularly our obsession with the smell of our genitals and other body parts through the ages, with some choice input from famous people like Napoleon, Henry Millar, Baudelaire, Walt Whitman and Casanova. 

I found the following excerpt from the book particularly interesting and enlightening: Mandy is discussing some of the finer points between natural and synthetic ingredients when she moves onto the subject of Kirlian Photography and states, 'discovered by the Russian electrical technician Semyon Kirlian in 1939, Kirlian Photography is a technique of taking pictures by means of electricity. An object is placed directly on photographic paper or film laid atop a metal plate to which a high-voltage current is applied. This records the energy field that surrounds living organisms, which appears as bright colours or halos surrounding the objects. A photograph of a freshly cut leaf reveals a colourful aura that diminishes over time until the leaf dies. A strong energy field that radiates outward is also visible when pure essential oils are photographed on a blotter strip. The energy field takes distinctive shapes that correspond to people's descriptions of the scents - heavy, soft, sharp, bright and so on. The field, which is lacking altogether in photographs of synthetic essences....' That is certainly food for thought, no?

There are quite a number of other interesting comparisons between naturals and synthetics, but I do not have the space of time to mention them here. However this paragraph above about the 'life force' of natural essences, as opposed to the 'dead' image of the synthetics has really made me think about naturals in a slightly different light. The other thing this book has got me thinking about is the attraction of home perfumery. I can't say for sure that I will purchase my own home equipment and sets of essences to carry out some Dr Frankenstein DIY shenanigans, but my curiosity is piqued. 

Friday, 9 July 2010

Testing frenzy at Liberty, London

I had the pleasure of spending a morning in London yesterday, attending a thrilling course entitled "How to extract profits from owner-managed businesses". London is one of those cities that for me is hateful in the summer. I find it overcrowded, thronging with tourists wandering aimlessly around getting in the way, hot to the point of stifling on the public transport systems and most of all, smelly. Not smelly in a good way, but one is overwhelmed by the smells of unwashed sweaty bodies, sewers and drains that are putrid and faecal and then the assault of fumes; of exhausts, tar, building rubble and hot food. Perhaps this is a bit unfair, and I'm sure thousands of people adore summery London, but I'm glad I don't work or live there anymore. Rant over, but staying with smells, I was able to visit Liberty, the department store near Oxford Circus, which has a fantastic selection of niche and other perfumes. Just to give you a flavour for what is there, they stock Frederic Malle, Le Labo, Diptyque, Rosinne, Comme de Garcon, Serge Lutens, Caron, L'Artisan, Nasamotto, Francis Kurkdjian, Etro, Essentric Molecules, Keiko Mecheri, Annick Goutal, Miller Harris, Byredo,  Costume National, Ineke, and um, I can't remember the rest, but there is more. For those of you who haven't been to London before, or perhaps have visited the usual haunts, like Harrods or Selfridges, I can heartily recommend popping into Liberty if you are in the West End.

I was like a kid in a sweet shop yesterday, spraying crazily onto scent strips and I got to the point where I reached sensory overload, but it was brilliant! I'm setting out below a brief note on what I tried, all on scent strips with the exception of Nuit de Tuberose, so these are only initial impressions and could quite easily develop differently on skin.

Le Labo Labdanum 18 - I was pleasantly surprised. I've read a lot of mixed reviews but it is very interesting. True, it is sweet and for a good time it smells uncannily like Johnsons Baby Powder to me, but it veers into some interesting territory. I can understand the comparisons with Shalimar and even Musk Ravageur.

Le Labo Neroli 36 - again pleasantly surprised. This is about as true a Neroli scent I think you can get. It's quite dry and restrained, but I think would wear brilliantly in summer.

Serge Lutens Bois et Violette - it was immediately obvious the connection with and progression from the original bois progenitor, Feminite du Bois. Tasteful and elegant. My wife liked it, so it must be a winner....

Francis Kurkdjian Lumenier Noir Pour Homme - better than I thought it would be. Quite musky, with little nods to Le Male here and there, but thankfully far less synthetic. I quite liked the little ginger fizz that mingled with the laundry-like musk. Another hit with my wife, hooray!

Nasamotto Black Afgano - quite pungent and to my nose mainly a vetiver fragrance. I actually loved this on paper. My wife recoiled in horror. Tick.

Byredo Baudelaire - another vetiver, quite smoky. Again, I liked this. Byredo has been hit or miss with me, but this one is nice. Would like to get my hands on a sample.

L'Artisan Tea for Two - a typical L'Artisan scent, slightly exotic but a bit too restrained. It is interesting though, with a nice spiced chai mingling with a subtle milky accord. A smidgen of incense to perk it up.

L'Artisan Passage D'enfer - not quite sure about this. It is even lighter than Tea for Two, and reminds me a little of the style used in Timbuktu.

Marrakesh Musc Le Orientalist - starts off intensely sweet but luckily turns to more familiar musk territory. A decent musk, I'd like to test this on skin. I wouldn't call it skanky, but it did wander into territory that was quite sexy.

L'Artisan Nuit de tuberose - this was the only one I tested on skin and I was quite impressed. This is another one that has either received rave reviews (Grain de Musc) or disdain (Peredepierre). I was expecting more tuberose but it was very subtle. Definitely could be worn by a man. I liked the spicy and peppery opening and again, I'd love to get a sample to test properly. On paper the tuberose was more evident and there was a slighly strange, almost 'off' or rotting note that emerged, which I never detected on skin. Worth a try I reckon.

Robert Piguet Fracas - I've read a lot about Fracas in the past. It's nice, but honestly I think Frederic Malle's Carnal Flower was far more interesting. Fracas is tuberose straight up, slightly fleshy, a bit coconutty, but that's it, in my opinion of course! My wife recoiled - I don't think she likes white florals...

So that was it. I really enjoyed this visit and I'd love to get back to Liberty as soon as possible. Next time I'm in London I need to get over to Selfridges to try the new Amouage Library fragrances. Have a good weekend everyone.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Amouage Gold Man

I may have mentioned it before, but I am a big fan of the Amouage line in general. Most of their perfumes suit my skin well and I like their lush, rich compositions, very often including high-quality ingredients such as frankincense, oud and rose. I have read Amouage being described as slightly conservative and old-fashioned, and I'm not sure why that is, because I don't find the perfumes to be that at all. They perhaps do harken back to an older style of perfumery, intense and uncompromising in a way, but I think the execution of most of them is decidedly modern. Anyway, onto Gold Man. It opens with a heady rush of green florals, which immediately struck me as being very unusual for a masculine fragrance. I know florals are more acceptable in Middle-Eastern perfumery, but even so, this struck me as very feminine in style, with a greenness that reminded me of green, leather chypres such as Bandit or A la Nuit. Just cutting the floralness is a biscuity/amaretti sweetness, almost caramel-like, but it fades quickly. I wasn't entirely sure of the florals, but definitely detected a strong lily of the valley note. As I said already, there is a definite chypre feel to Gold, with a slightly smutty leatheriness just beneath the surface. As the top faded I started to detect a metallic iris note and even a smidgen of incense, which prevented the florals from becoming too feminine. There is quite a lot of sandalwood and patchouli in Gold too, which are apparent in the heart, and I'm sure these notes are rounded off and enhanced by a generous dose of civet. At times I detected an almost rotting note, not unpleasant though, that weaved its way in and out of the composition.

In the dry down Gold never entirely loses its floralness and with the addition of oakmoss, the chypre style is even more confirmed, should it not have been apparent at the start. The incense that I thought I detected earlier never resurfaces, at least not on my skin, which I found a little surprising, considering Amouage's use of its famous silver frankincense. I should also state that Gold, particularly in the early phases, is not for the faint-hearted. It is a bit of a sillage monster and should be applied with caution, unless you want to stink out a room and its occupants. Having said that, the second half of the progression is a lot less blowsy, and it ends up as a fairly recognisable, traditional chypre, at least I think so. I should also state that in my opinion a lady could wear this as easily as a man could. In fact had I not known this was Gold Man, I would have thought it is a chypre for a woman, it is that floral.

I'm not sure if I really like Gold Man. I'm not generally a huge fan of chypres. I wear them, but there are other families and styles that I prefer, and I must say that other Amouage perfumes like Jubilation XXV, Reflection, Lyric and Epic are far more my kind of thing. I have read reviews, particularly by men, on Basenotes, that Gold Man is show-offish, crass and vulgar. I must say I find that surprising, unless you are a man who has major preconceptions of what a masculine or feminine perfume ought to smell like. Admittedly Gold is strong and a bit loud to start with, but I think this is more a result of its intense floral top and early heart notes, rather than for any other reason and in the end it is a decent green/leather chypre, but not really my cup of tea.



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