Monday, 23 June 2014

Rothenstein Deja Vu

I received a sample of Rothenstein Deja Vu about three years ago and after trying it once, it languished at the bottom of a sample drawer in my bedroom until I dug it out a few days ago.

I had never heard of Rothenstein, and in fact I still don't know much about them. Type the name into a Google search and one finds very little about the house or the perfume. Precious little. Fragrantica has it listed, with the sketchiest of note lists (fruits, vanilla, florals) that leads me to believe it is a fruity floral. 

Trying it again last week, I think this is probably as accurate as it will get. On my skin Deja Vu smells warm, sweet (but not overly so), vanillery, with some fruit and what I smell as a light rose note. This probably seems like damning with faint praise. If I'm being honest, there is probably a reason the sample was at the bottom of my drawer - it is a little bit boring to my nose, albeit perfectly nice. And that is the problem for me. It is all niceness, with no claws; not how I generally prefer my perfumes.

That is just my opinion, of course, and one could do a lot worse than try Deja Vu. The bottle is rather risque, with the buddist figures on top in a rather shall we say 'interesting position'!

Image credit - Fragrantica

Monday, 2 June 2014


I am reading: 

Ian McEwan's Sweet Tooth. I don't know how many of you have read novels by this great British author, but if you haven't I can certainly recommend giving him a go. He is one of those authors that always leaves you in a state of unease. It is hard to explain, but I'm sure all of you have experienced something similar from an author before.

I am watching:

Episodes. Starring Matt Le Blanc as well as a couple of talented British actors including Tamsin Greig. It isn't flawless, by any means, but fairly good.

I am listening to:

A lot of classical music, courtesy of my wife, who is getting back into playing the piano again.

I am wearing:

Perfume, of course, but in a fairly random come-what-may fashion. I like it that way.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Tom Ford Neroli Portofino

I can see why Neroli Portofino is so popular, and if what I have been told is correct, one of the line's bestsellers. 

It simply smells lovely. That's all there is to it. The opening is one of the best takes on a citrus cologne that I know of. It is fresh, zingy and so uplifting.

The perfume, befitting of a cologne, is not long lasting, nor complex, but who needs those on a warm spring day when one simply wants to smell as nice as possible, even if only for a short while?

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Thoughts on Tom Ford Private Blend Collection

It took me ages to try Tom Ford's more exclusive line. It isn't particularly easy to find in the UK outside of London, at least in my experience, and it only came to my home town just under a year ago.

Since then I have sampled the line extensively and below have set out my thoughts on some of (not all) the Private Blends. These are really just snap shots, in most cases the first feeling that comes to mind, so don't take any of what follows as balanced and overly objective.

Santal Blush - reviews I've read are fairly mixed. Quite a few harp on about Australian Sandalwood, blah blah blah, how it can't compare to Mysore, but in my opinion the perfume smells good and uplifting, a bit how the Le Labo Sandalwood makes me feel. It is slightly synthetic but enjoyable.

Cafe Rose - not overly complex, but smells rosy with a hint of the Tuscan Leather accord. Again, it smells really good and I can happily wear it.

Noir de Noir - I thought this would be one of my favourites, but for some reason I find it a little dull. Not in the sense of boring, but rather slightly murky and muddled. It does't perform particularly well with my skin chemistry.

Plum Japonais - this one is Lutenesque, in my opinion. It is essentially fruit and woods, with some spice. I think it is a bit of a nod towards Feminite du Bois, but perhaps a bit spicier.

Italian Cypress - one of my favourites. It is one of those rare perfumes that manages to balance the coniferous notes, without being a pine overdose. It is sophisticated, even-keeled and perfect for a summer day, as it has more heft than citrus, but stays fairly cool and fresh, if you know what I mean.

Tuscan Leather - I admit I like it. It is strong and quite forceful, a bit of a hairy chest, but is in my opinion a lovely leather fragrance. I'd be surprised if this is not one of Tom Ford's best sellers.

Tobacco Vanille - I've reviewed this one before. It is best worn with restraint, especially in warmer weather, as it can be overpowering and frankly quite overwhelming at times. Having said that, it is a lovely tobacco perfume and again, I think it is one of Tom Ford's best sellers and I can understand why. It tends to sweetness, with the vanilla.

Arabian Wood - I don't like it at all. There is no logic to this necessarily, but my gut churns when I smell it. I think this is another that is well-loved in the perfume community.

Tobacco Oud - yum yum. I love its slightly animalic opening. It wears beautifully on my skin. It has incense as well, and this balances the oud and tobacco, making it a joy to my nose.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Visit to Paris

For someone who is a fan of perfume, Paris is probably the top destination; some might even argue that it is the spiritual home of perfume.

Some readers may be surprised that I haven't been to Paris on a perfume jaunt, considering it is only two and a half hours away from Kent, where I live, but for one reason or another, the last time I visited the City of Light was in 2005, almost ten years ago.

Anyway, my family and I spent a few days in Paris at the start of April, ostensibly to celebrate my wife and younger daughter's birthdays, both of which are in early April. I'm not going to go into any detail of our holiday, save to say that we were based not far from the Eiffel Tower, and did the usual touristy things that most visitors to Paris do, taking in a lot of the famous sights, including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, Sacre Coeur and Mont Martre, Musee d'Orsay, etc, etc. We did a lot of walking too, strolling along the Seine, the Tuillerie Gardens, Ile Saint Louis and so forth.

As a perfume fan, there was no way that I was going to visit Paris without at least some perfume experiences, and I managed to slip away from the family twice to visit the flagship Guerlain store on the Champs Elysees and Serge Lutens at the Palais Royal.

Starting with Guerlain, it was a pleasing experience to be shown around the store. When I arrived they were conducting a skin clinic of some sort, and I thought they wouldn't let me in to that part of the store (there is a more bog standard sort of Guerlain shop right next door that you first enter) but a sweet lady took me upstairs to show me around. The decor is very impressive, and I loved seeing some of the rare bottles behind the glass, some dating back to the eighteen hundreds, which is rather impressive. The lady wouldn't let me take any photographs, which is a shame, although I can understand why, and she struggled to speak English, and my French was even worse, so most of our discussion was conducted with signals and slightly embarrassed exchanges! I'm glad I went, although I have to confess that I am not a Guerlain obsessive. The prices of some of the more exclusive perfumes are astronomical. I had my eye on Arsene Lupin but couldn't commit to buying a bottle.

My second visit was to Serge Lutens, in the Palais Royal complex on the other side of the Rue de Rivoli, close to the Louvre. One thing that surprised me was how big the courtyard and gardens are. I was expecting, for whatever reason, a tiny, dark cloister, shaded by trees, tucked away mysteriously, to be expected from a man like Lutens. In reality, it is not quite like that, but the area is a delight anyway, and quiet compared to the mania just across the road and elsewhere. The Lutens shop itself was small, dark and quite mysterious, painted black and kitted out in a lot of purple. When I first entered the store I was the only person there, and I struck up a conversation with a charming lady who spoke decent English, so we were able to talk about the perfumes at some length. You may have guessed it by now - yes, I did shell out 150 Euros for a bell jar of perfume! I feel guilty paying that sort of money for perfume, but my reasoning was that the bell jar is iconic (although overpriced really) and I don't know when next I will return to Paris, let along Serge Lutens, so I wanted to be able to say that I bought it from the Salon itself. I purchased Muscs Koublai Khan, my favourite musk perfume.

On the subject of MKK, I must say that I am surprised by how subdued it is dabbed on from the bell jar, which has no spray nozzle. I don't know if MKK has been reformulated, because it lacks some of that famous animalic kick it had from a few years ago in my opinion. When I got home I decanted some into a spray bottle and I must admit that it performed much better sprayed, and had more character, but still lacks a little something compared to years gone by. It is still a lovely perfume mind you.

I could have visited a lot more perfume places, but time was limited and I could desert my family for so long. I thoroughly enjoyed Paris itself, and don't regret my visits to Guerlain and Serge Lutens.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Bottega Veneta Pour Homme

I first tried Bottega Veneta Pour Homme months ago, thought it was decent, but sort of filed it away in my mind as 'come back to one day'. I remember writing a few notes about it, jotted down hastily on a scrap of paper, which I came across the other day when I was clearing a drawer at my work.

I can't say that I have worn it a lot since then, but based on my thoughts at the time, this perfume struck me as being quite peppery, with a hint of pine and an element of soapiness, but not overbearingly so. The pepper is not anywhere near as intense as say Frederic Malle's Noir Epices, for example. There is a spicy edge to it, smoothed by what I perceive as possibly nutmeg or even cardamom, but when I say edge, it is really quite smooth.

The fragrance is surprisingly light on my skin as it moves into its heart and dry down. I can sense more of a leathery note emerging and at this stage the spice and pepper has almost completely faded. If this is leather, it is definitely not animalic or forceful. In the dry down Bottega Veneta sweetens a little and there is more of a leathery presence, with perhaps a hint of patchouli, and a return of light, slightly dusty spice. 

Now that I've written this, I've looked up the notes, which according to Fragrantica include Calabrian bergamot, pine, juniper, Jamaican pepper, fir resins, clary sage, labdanum, leather and patchouli. Anyone reading this will probably think I'm fibbing, and that I read the note before jotting down my thoughts, but I honestly didn't!

Overall, I think this is a good perfume, particularly for the mainstream, but personally I would have liked a bit more of a prickle; an edge. Nevertheless, it is well done.

Image credit:

Friday, 11 April 2014

4th Blog anniversary

I've been blogging so infrequently over the last 6-9 months that it should come as no surprise that I missed my own blogoversary, the 4th. I first posted on 29 March 2010, which seems like an awfully long time ago. 

Back then, I was full of enthusiasm, and judging by my output over the last year, it would seem that this joie de vivre has waned, to say the least. 

I'm not saying that I am going to stop blogging, necessarily, but it would not surprise me if this is my last year - time shall tell.

In the meantime, here's to all things perfume. I'm wearing Muscs Kublai Khan today, still my favourite musk perfume.  

Friday, 28 March 2014

The Exotic Island Perfumer - Santal Exotique

Juan Perez's Exotic Island Perfumer line is wonderful. They are different, stand out from a lot of other perfume lines, and to my nose smell well made and well thought out.

Santal Exotique is no exception. Perez's Etsy listing mentions notes of sandalwood (Mysore, Hawaiian and New Caledonian), black vanilla, elemi, incense, tonka, massoia, cinnamon and rosewood barks, pandanus leaf, cardamom, civet and musk.

In execution, Santal Exotique for all of five minutes smells quite foody, in a similar vein to Luten's Jeu De Peux, but after that it quickly transforms into an incensy, slightly milky sandalwood perfume, suffused with light spices. It is deliciously calming and meditative, subtle, but beautiful. The spices are not overpowering, and to my nose the perfume does not descend into a Christmas-fest, luckily.

I was fortunate to be gifted a generous sample of this by a good friend of mine (thank you!) and I can certainly recommend it without hesitation. Equally, this applies to the rest of the line too.

Friday, 21 March 2014

A briefest of overviews - the week that was

You know you've had a great week (not) when you get to Friday and need to refer to text messages you sent to a fellow perfume fan to remember the perfumes you wore.

For the record, I wore Mona Di Orio Oud, Juan Perez Oud Nawab, Neil Morris A Rose is A Rose and another Di Orio, Eau Absolue. They are all perfectly lovely perfumes and I can highly recommend trying any or all of them. I think that Eau Absolue was probably the most in tune with an early spring day, with its citrusy, herbal notes and undercut with musk. 

Friday was scentless, sadly. I hate it when I go through days without wearing or even thinking much about perfume.

If it is springlike where you are, what have you been wearing this week? 

Saturday, 1 March 2014

SOTD - Alexander McQueen Kingdom

I'm not sure what compelled me to wear Kingdom today, other than it was staring at me from my top drawer and I hadn't worn it in a long time.

I snapped up probably the last bottle I ever saw in Tunbridge Wells (and elsewhere for that matter) and don't regret it one single bit. It is a fine and slightly unusual rose perfume, packed with cumin, a note which tends to either attract people, or repel them. I've never had an issue with cumin and enjoy it in food and as a perfume note, so Kingdom is very wearable for me.

I find the dry down quite comforting actually, with a warm sandalwood note that softens the cuminy rose and jasmine. It was marketed as a feminine fragrance, but I actually think it can be worn fairly easily by a man too.

I would strongly recommend trying Kingdom at least once. 

Friday, 28 February 2014

TGI Friday

I don't know about you, but this year already seems to be flying by with unrelenting pace. Two months down and I haven't managed to pause and catch breath.

Life is like that, I guess, and I'm not sure it is going to change, so may as well go with the flow and hope for the best, says my inner voice with alarming alacrity.

As I sit here with a glass of wine, curry heating up on the stove, I'm thinking about what I've done this month and enjoyed, so here goes.

Listening to:
Interestingly, whilst 'm still enjoying my usual music on my ipod, since my wife purchased a piano, she has been playing a lot of classical music and as a result of that, I've been picking up on and listening to a lot of classical music in turn. A lot of is nice, but for whatever reason, Erik Satie has appealed a lot. Try his Gymnopedies.

Food shows on the BBC iplayer, mainly. Anything featuring Michel Roux junior. Apologies to US readers if you're not familiar.

Music documentaries, in particular it Might Get Loud, which features the coming together of Jack White, The Edge from U2 and Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin. Marvellous stuff.

Food features again - Tom Parker Bowles and also Jay Rayner. Again, US readers are unlikely to be familiar, but you would recognise the name Parker Bowles. After all, he is the son of the wife of the future King of England.

Well, I've worn plenty of perfume, and written about it very little. Today I'm wearing two from Parfumerie Generale, Hyperessence Matale and Harmatan Noir. The former is a slightly smoky, green, tea fragrance, while the latter is a slightly smoky, earthy, incense-like mint perfume. Both are very nice by the way.

Here's to a good weekend, and all the best for March. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, role on spring!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

SOTD - Parfum d'Empire Fougere Bengale

My impression of Fougere Bengale is that it would be suitable for people who are skittish about Serge Luten's Arabie. To my nose Fougere Bengale is Arabie Light, but with a twist.
There is a very prominent curry spice note in the perfume, although interestingly Luckyscent do not mention this at all. Their note list includes lavender, tarragon, geranium, tobacco, tonka, vanilla and patchouli. I would guess that the curry note is probably due to a dose of fenugreek or perhaps immortelle, but I can't be certain.
Anyway, I quite like Fougere Bengale, but I can see how some might view it as being a slightly strange fragrance. The curry note is unexpected perhaps, if you've never encountered this perfume before, but is clearly a nod to India and the title says it all.
It is certainly worth trying at the very least.  

Sunday, 23 February 2014

A brief perfume visit in London

I went  to London this past Thursday, my first visit to the capital in 2014, and the first since a day spent up there with friends in late November.

It was a work visit, but as is so often the case, I usually try to squeeze in a flying visit to some perfume store, this time Liberty, as I was not too far from the West End. I've noticed a few negative comments about the Liberty perfume section recently, and if these relate to customer service and general attitude, then I can certainly understand why. In the past, the staff used to leave you alone to get on with your browsing and sniffing, and they still do. However, there is something slightly condescending about them when you do ask a question, or if you make it clear that you just want to be left to your own devices. If the criticism relates to what perfume is stocked there, then I disagree. For a fairly small space Liberty packs in a very good selection of perfume lines.

Anyway, I tried quite a few perfumes on scent strips, and if there is one thing to be learned from this (hardly rocket science to any seasoned perfumista) it is that one should never judge a perfume from how it smells on paper, or any fabric for that matter; the true test is on skin. A case in point is Aedes Iris Nazarena, which smelled totally flat and faint on paper, but wore beautifully on my skin. I think it is a really interesting iris fragrance that has that characteristic fatty feel and earthy smell, but is not particularly 'rooty' or 'carroty'. It is joined by a faint incense that works very well. Another perfume tried on skin was Agonist Infidels, which I was less enthusiastic about, not necessarily because I didn't think it was good, but perhaps it didn't work that well on my skin. Oppopnax is a heavily featured note in this perfume and it came across sweetly resinous, whereas I would have preferred something slightly less sweet and dry, but that is just my personal taste.

I say this quite often, but as much as I love London and what it has to offer (and I did live there for almost six years) I find it far too busy, impersonal, and if I'm being honest, smelly. Certainly by my standards anyway, compared to other UK towns and cities I visit. It seems to get dirtier and smellier each time I visit, although I cannot say whether this is actually the case or simply caused by my state of mind!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Thoughts on Neela Vermeire Mohur and Bombay Bling

Neela Vermeire's initial trio of perfumes are highly regarded, yet for some reason I have not warmed to them generally. I sort of feel bad saying this, as I feel I am going against the grain, but I can't lie and just pretend I love them.

Having said that, I do think they smell highly original and I can't fault them structurally, not that I can even start to suggest I have any true perfume technical knowledge. But, as most perfume lovers will know, that is no guarantee that you will love a perfume, and I can think of quite a few perfumes that I simply don't like, no matter how well made they are.

Starting with Bombay Bling, I will say that I like it, and it is my favourite in the line. I like the dry down, which is lightly spiced with some incense and a residual hint of mango and milkiness. The opening is a bit of a let down for me, because it doesn't smell as juicy and tangy as I had hoped, judging from the reviews, which waxed lyrical about the mango note. In fairness, maybe some of this is down to skin chemistry. Where Bombay Bling does succeed on the mango front is that it does evoke that slight chalky sensation one gets from eating the fruit. And there is a definite lactonic, milky feel too, which could be a representation of a mango lassi. As I write this, I can actually conclude that Bombay Bling is a good fragrance, albeit not as exuberant as I had hoped.

Moving onto Mohur, I find it hard to be positive. For my Mohur-loving friends out there, apologies, but I can't pretend to like it. Everything I've read about Mohur makes me think that I should like it, but on skin it just does not work for me. 

One thing I find as a common thread through all the Vermeire fragrances is that milky, lactonic note. I can't decide if I like it or not, but it is very distinctive to my nose. Interestingly, I noticed a similar note in Penhaligon's Vaara, which is another Bertrand Duchaufour fragrance and also Indian-inspired.

Friday, 31 January 2014

A*Men Pure Malt

Let me start by saying that I like A*Men Pure Malt. I've had a largish decant of it for a few years now, and every now and then enjoy wearing it. Perhaps it is also worth mentioning that I like Angel, and the original A*men, for that matter. 

What I don't get about A*Men Pure Malt, is the reference to notes such as 'peat' and 'smoky'. Most reviews and note lists seem to suggest that Malt in this context refers to malt whisky. If this is the case, I don't personally think that A*Men Pure Malt smells remotely like any whisky I have drunk, and without wanting to sound pompous, I have drunk quite a few, being a fan of malt whiskies. 

I think A*Men Pure Malt smells very good, no doubt, but it is neither smoky nor peaty in my opinion. If you want good examples of smoke and peat in whiskies, try Laphroaig, from Islay for example, or perhaps even Talisker from Skye. Neither of those smell remotely like A*Men Pure Malt. Perhaps I am too harsh in expecting some olfactory photo-accurate representation of a malt whisky.

So what does this ramble achieve? Probably very little. But to re-emphasise, Pure Malt is a very nice perfume, and surprisingly musky in the dry down, which I like.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Aqua Universalis and Universalis Forte

I'll admit that I am not really sure what the difference is meant to be between Aqua Universalis and Forte. My presumption is that it would suggest different concentrations, but on my skin, certainly, they smell very different, particularly in the top notes.

I'll cut to the chase and state that I far prefer the original. Forte is too sweet, for starters, and in the opening has a curiously sour citrus note that does not sit comfortably with me. The sour smell is dank, a bit like clothing that has not dried properly.

Not very scientific, very subjective, but there you have it.

Incidentally, I really do like the original very much. It is essentially a laundry musk with citrus, but done very well.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Sort of catching up

Gosh, it is already the 10th of January. Where does the time go? Before we know it, bloggers will be honing their best-of-2014 lists!

I don't think I have read a single perfume blog so far in 2014. It isn't for lack of wanting to, but there just isn't the time in my life at present. Work commitments are a bit hairy, to say the least, plus we have been focusing on family time, as my older daughter Hannah turns 7 next week, and we had her party last Sunday.

If you were expecting a proper perfume review from me, dream on. I have been wearing perfume on some days, but in the mad rush I more often than not haven't. Arrh!

This week I did go on a bit of an orange theme, but only by spraying four different perfumes on scent strips and having a good time comparing them all side by side, so to speak. The four in question were Atelier Cologne's Neroli, Serge Luten's Fleurs d'oranger and two of Francis Kurkdjian's, Aqua Universalis and Aqua Vitae.

Neroli smells fantastic in the top and middle notes, and then fades considerably, as to be expected with this style of perfume, but it is a lovely fragrance. It does what it says on the tin, but there are plenty of other good neroli perfumes out there that are very similar. 

Fleurs d'oranger is a powerful orange blossom fragrance, but overall far more of a white floral, with spices and cumin. It is bold, and certainly not a perfume that I would easily be able to pull off but I do like it a lot.

Aqua Universalis  and Aqua Vitae are both very much orange and musk. Universalis is the muskier of the two, and a bit more dry and woodsy. I think it smells amazing, and with this one I can very definitely see the link back to Kurkdjian's work with Gaultier's Le Male and Fleur de Male. Vitae is my least favourite of the four. It is a touch too sweet for my liking, and looking at the notes, I can see Tonka Bean and vanilla listed, which is no surprise.


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