Archive for March, 2009

Hilfiger Review

March 30, 2009

Tommy Hilfiger’s Tommy and Tommy Girl set the bar pretty high for further releases, still selling well, yet none of the follow up scents have lasted particularly well. I remember the 10th anniversary editions being particularly dull. True Star Men smells like Aloe Vera juice that has gone bad. Hilfiger’s most recent release, “Hilfiger” is created to be a classic and American icon.

hilfigerThe opening notes are very familiar. Quite generic and like the “man smell” that is put into so many shaving foams and after shave balms. Perhaps this is intended to be familiar, so it sells? Who knows. Citrus with Rosemary, if I didn’t know better I’d think it was a new Hugo Boss.
A sharp Musk note (this must be the ‘Skin Accord’) creeps into the heart and overpowers the shy Rose note. It feels like an acidic and louder version of YSL L’Homme.
The Musky woody drydown doesn’t really grab my attention – it smells like a lot of other designer scents, and brings Versace Blue Jeans to mind, which itself smells of Matey bubble bath. I can’t help but think the desire for a long list of notes has left the scent confused and it ended up as a ‘fresh woody musk’ that consumer panels seem so fond of. There are tonnes of scents out there that do anything Hilfiger does better – for the bubble bath, go for the Blue Jeans, for the Citrus and Rosemary, try Eau Sauvage, for the ‘soft musk’ heart, try L’Homme.

Top: Bergamot, Mandarin, Pink Grapefruit, Juniper, Papaya, Rosemary
Middle: Curcuma, Mahogany Wood, White Tea Rose, Skin Accord
Base: Suede, Sandalwood, Cistus, Tonka, Cashmere Wood


Ma Dame and Ma Dame Eau Fraiche Reviews

March 26, 2009

Jean-Paul Gaultier’s scents are incredibly popular. Le Male and Classique have been in top 10 sellers for as long as I remember, and I’ve never liked either of them. Fragile used to make me smile, after a long time of getting used to it. Fleur du Male was far too potent for me. Ma Dame, however, is completely different from the others. I liked it instantly. It’s cheer-up-juice. I got 2 days of it rammed into my nose at my pre-christmas training, and could probably identify it anywhere in a 1 mile radius.

madameMa Dame begins with Orange and Pomegranate. It’s fizzy for a few seconds, and then a Bubblegum (which smells like the 2p Anglo Bubbly bubblegum I used to buy as a kid from the newsagent) and Aniseed Ball note, with a plastic and neon-bright feeling. There is a powdery note, not Iris, but maybe like Heliotrope, with a bitter sweet Raspberry, which is similar to the raspberry note in Diesel Fuel for Life Men, and Rosewater.
A Cedar note in the heart is thick smelling with the Grenadine so there is still some sweetness. It smells like Grenadine syrup on it’s own, without being diluted with lemonade or water. Also, a dusty vanilla note adds more sweetness, and is reminiscent of Hypnotic Poison, but fruitier.
The drydown is a soft musk note, not in any way sharp or grating like I find many musks, with much of the citrus sweetness still going on. There is no reason a man couldn’t wear this.

Top: Orange Zest, Grenadine
Middle: Fresh Rose, Floral Notes
Base: Musk, Cedar

madameefMa Dame’s summer flanker, Eau Fraiche, is a stripped down version of the original. It’s a lighter concentration.
Fizzes straight out of the bottle like Orangeade, the citrus note is impressive and very well done. Instead of ice cubes in this drink, we have Rose petals, shimmering with Grapefruit juice. The fizz subsides after a few minutes. It quickly turns to roses with a splash of syrupy pomegranate and a hint of musk.
It’s a summer cocktail drink, without any alcohol, and much softer than many summer editions – the newest Escada edition terrifies your nose into submission with the smell of a hundred bottles of children’s sugary strawberry paracetamol.
The drydown is a fizzy Cedar, very similar to Armani Diamonds for Men, alongside the sweet Grenadine. It also brings to mind Versace Men Eau Fraiche. The only fault is that the lower concentration results in poor longevity – so spray it on clothing.

Top: Orange Zest, Pink Grapefruit, Raspberry
Middle: Ultra Fresh Rose, Grenadine
Base: Cedar, Musk

L’Homme Review

March 25, 2009

L’Homme was the first masculine release from YSL after the departure of Tom Ford. It was nowhere near as daring as M7 or Rive Gauche, and instead YSL decided to play it safe. YSL touted it as the fragrance of the modern man, and as YSL did so well, created an androgynous product – looks masculine, could be feminine. To make it more masculine, there was even a special “test tube” edition that looked quite phallic.

lhomme1L’Homme opens with a sweet, floral and almost feminine feeling burst of citrus, with a soft woody note. The citrus smells at first like Lemon. Then it becomes Orange. Then the first act is over in a matter of seconds, and the heart is apparent.
Soft Ginger (rather than rough like with Dior Homme Sport) adds an air of warmth to the fragrance. Then Cedar and a very quiet Pepper note create an aromatic aspect, with a tiny hint of Violet in the background – perpetually shy for fear of creating something too floral.
The drydown is soft, woodsy, with warm hay from Tonka and a grassy Vetiver. The Vetiver isn’t particularly earthy, it feels like all the dirt has been washed off. The sweetness from the Ginger is maintained into the drydown, as is it’s warmth. As a result, L’Homme is subtle enough for everyday use, but not standout enough for night. It’s still a very competent fragrance.

Top: Citron, Ginger, Ozone
Middle: White Pepper, Violet, Basil Flower
Base: Vetiver, Cedar, Tonka Bean, Sandalwood

L’Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme Review

March 23, 2009

L’Instant launched in 2004, a year after the feminine. It has been better received than Guerlain’s newest men’s offering, Homme. Directed by Sylvaine Delacourte – Guerlain’s Artistic Director, who claims to draw inspiration from her travels, such as her Mojito in Cuba for Homme, L’Instant was inspired by a Moroccan Pastilla. If it tastes as good as L’Instant smells, I’m off to Morocco.

linstantOpens with a sweet, sweaty, Cumin-like note with Patchouli in the background. It’s green for a few moments, until citrus appears, Lemon and Bergamot with a sprinkling of Guerlain’s famous Vanilla dust – demonstrated best in Habit Rouge and Shalimar. The citrus note is shortlived, and the Patchouli re-emerges with the sweet dust coating the leaves.
As it unfolds, it feels remarkably similar to Dior’s Midnight Poison Elixir, with it’s “foody” associations, and Prada Amber (the feminine) with it’s warm Ambery Patchouli. A smoky note hangs around for most of the heart.
A boozy feeling note appears as it heads toward the drydown, with the intoxicating Patchouli still ever-potent. It dries to a warm, musky and dirty Jasmine with Ambrette, which is sweet and animal smelling – and almost brings sweaty armpits to mind. It’s even related to Comme des Garcons 8 88 in the drydown.
L’Instant won me over from a sample, and I quickly bought a bottle.

Top: Lemon, Bergamot, Badian Crystal, Pepper, Elemi
Middle: Jasmine Petals, Mysore Sandalwood, Lapsang Tea, Bitter Cocoa Bean
Base: Hibiscus Seeds, Patchouli

Ted Baker M Review

March 15, 2009

Ted Baker is a British design house that is based on quality, attention to detail and a sense of humour. The first fragrance, Skinwear, was launched in 1998, and was followed with a string of scents. The last being a limited edition named “Skinwear 10”, in celebration of the 10th anniversary of Skinwear. The next launches are M and W summer limited editions, which were available in mini form last year. M (alongside W) launched in 2002.

m1M has a citrus opening, which smells like lemon, but it’s not. It’s Yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit used during bathing, and is usually cut in hot springs to scent the water. There is also a sweet Tea and Pepper note, which feels similar to Bvlgari Pour Homme Soir. There is an Ozonic, breezy feel throughout the topnotes.
The heart bears a warm, light green leafy note, over a scent like Hay, with a light fizzy Incense accord. Slightly smoky, but it’s really been given a light touch and seems as though it’s being smelled through a veil of steam. There are similarities to Odeur 71, with it’s abstract incense note, and L’eau d’Issey. The Coriander is also present, with a quiet Rose note similar to dunhill London’s.
The drydown is a powdery, soft, rooty Vetiver, with Chocolate. Which smells a lot better than it sounds. It’s surprisingly sensual and just smells great.

Top: Yuzu, Roseberry, Black Pepper
Middle: Coriander, Elemi, Gaiacwood
Base: Vetiver, Tonka Bean, Musk

Guerlain Homme Review

March 12, 2009

Guerlain Homme has gotten a lot of stick from the Perfumista community. It’s not “Guerlain” enough for them. For the mainstream consumer, it’s too different. So who exactly is it aimed at? I guess, since it became one of my favourites from the first sniff at the pre-release training for it last year, it’s aimed at me. Instead of being based on a normal ‘top-to-bottom’ development, it’s a trio of accords, Mojito, Fresh Floral and Green Woody, that interact and come in and out of play. All of which I was lucky enough to smell separately – I can’t describe the beauty of the Fresh Floral accord, but I would wear that alone.

guerlainhommeThe atomizer lets out a shiny, bright Mojito. Sugar and Lime with Mint and Rum. This is very realisitc, quite sweet, and not at all like toothpaste or alcohol like you might expect.
A light herbal floral accord is underneath the Mojito. Citrus shines through, the mixture of Bergamot and Lime, with a light tea note and Mint and Geranium creating a strange olfactory effect.
The soft woods in the drydown are given a tart edge from the Rhubarb. The Mint returns with the green floral heart in on and off puffs, like a plug in room deodoriser, and the Lime persists all the way to the drydown.

Top: Bergamot, Lime, Key Lime, Pelargonium
Middle: Green Tea, Mint Leaves, Geranium, Rhubarb
Base: Cedar, Vetiver, Rum, Sugar Cane

Guerlain Vetiver Review

March 9, 2009

Guerlain’s Vetiver was originally created in 1959, and was relaunched in 2000. This review is of the relaunched (and apparently reformulated) version. There is a great deal of fuss created over the ‘vintage’ scent, but as I’ve never smelled it and love the current version, I don’t think I’m missing out. Vetiver is a staple to many men’s wardrobe, and is used by many women too.

vetiverVetiver is tough, bitter, astringent and woodsy through a floral and citrus opening. Clean and green, with a slightly soapy feeling, but at the same time earthy and dirty.
The soap feeling is gentlemanly, and not girly, as in it’s not related to an aldehydic scented soap like No 5, I think it’s the combination of Neroli and Vetiver that create this image of ‘man soap’ – the same effect is present in Zara’s much less complex Vetiver.
The heart has a spicy edge which is similar to Yatagan, but this is softened by the green feeling which is maintained throughout the life of the fragrance. The Cedar and Sandalwood create warm and comforting feeling.
It dries down to an earthy, dirty, Hay-like Tobacco and Vetiver base, which is slightly honeyed but not at all sweet, and the Pepper note creates a spiciness. The Nutmeg is present, but only just, the grassy Vetiver note is what is meant to shine throughout the fragrance and Jean-Paul Guerlain did a fantastic job keeping the focus on it.

Top: Bergamot, Lemon, Mandarin, Neroli, Coriander
Middle: Vetiver, Cedar, Clary Sage, Carnation, Sandalwood
Base: Tobacco, Nutmeg, Pepper, Tonka Bean, Capsicum

DKNY Men Review

March 8, 2009

DKNY Men is the latest release from DKNY. It isn’t a relaunch of the previous scent, in a tall blue skyscraper bottle. The new bottle is shaped like the Flatiron Building in Manhattan. As soon as I read the notes, I had high hopes for the fragrance.

dknymenThe opening is familiar, with a large dose of the cucumber-like aromachemical, Calone, and what feels slightly citrus. Like when you get a waxed Lemon at the supermarket. But there are powdery Iris undertones, which makes the aquatic note smell really weird. Is this Infusion d’Homme sport?
The heart reminds me of several fragrances. It’s plasticky, but not as much as Bvlgari pour Homme Soir. Not as aquatic or citrus as Acqua di Gio, nor as dry or powdery as Infusion d’Homme. And it’s aromatic, but not as much as L’eau Bleue d’Issey pour Homme, with it’s potent herbs of Provence note. It also reminds me of Ted Baker M, a review of which will be appearing on the blog later this month. It reminds me of so many things, it’s as though many good ideas that work in different fragrances have been thrown together in one bottle, and put directly onto the shelves without checking that all the ideas work together.
The drydown is powdery, musky Cedar, before it finally turns into an indistinguishable sour, off pitch note that eventually fizzles out and leaves me completely underwhelmed.

Top: Bergamot, Mandarin, Juniper, Sage
Middle: White Pepper, Cardamom, Lavender, Violet, Jasmine
Base: Cedarwood, Patchouli, Orris, Vetiver

Miss Dior Review

March 7, 2009

It’s the first Saturday of the month, which means it’s Sniff ‘n’ Speak day at Basenotes. March is the month of the Chypre, and Miss Dior is an absolute classic of the genre.

missdiorShe opens with a simultaneously sharp and bitter floral note, as well as something boozy, reminiscent of bay rum to me. It’s loud, but in no way harsh. But whats surprising about Miss Dior is that it comes across as more unisex to me, maybe not so much of the “Miss”.
The heart is powdery, warm, ambery Labdanum with the Oakmoss playing a huge role, with it’s ‘fairytale’ smoky quality. The florals feel scorched and burned, but also dried out and similar to a pot pourri. None of the floral notes are particularly prominent.
The drydown is dry smoky Oakmoss and green Patchouli, with a soft Leather and Vanilla in the background, as well as a downright dirty and almost fecal Jasmine. It’s difficult to imagine this on a “Miss” though, she’d probably be buying “Miss Dior Cherie”.

Top: Gardenia, Galbanum, Bergamot, Clary Sage
Middle: Jasmine, Narcissus, Neroli, Rose
Base: Patchouli, Oakmoss, Labdanum, Sandalwood

Kenzo Tokyo Review

March 6, 2009

Kenzo’s masculines are always intriguing and at least , but they’ve never fared particularly well on the shelves in store. Pour Homme, L’eau Par, Air, all gone not long after appearing on shelf. Tokyo never even made it to my store, but lucky for me it was around in the local department stores. Tokyo was surprisingly inspired by the Japanese capital and it’s neon brightness.

tokyoTokyo opens with a citrus note that lasts for a fleeting moment, grapefruit with orange. As soon as that disappears, a sharp Licorice accord, which brings to mind Yohji Homme and Egoiste, is the main player. It is warmed by a small dose of Ginger. I find the spice notes very prominent.
The heart smells incredibly thick and dark, like a shadow of a huge tree hangs over it. At the same time, there is a light and bright feeling maintained throughout. This juxtaposition holds my interest every time. There is a pink pepper note, which I love in YSL’s Elle, and there is a Mint and an Anisic note – this could be ‘Shiso’, a Japanese plant that is a member of the mint family and apparently reminiscent of Fennel, which itself smells like Aniseed.
The drydown is creamy and woody, soft but thick, due to Gaiac, and still shadowy, with a Chocolate and crystallized Ginger accord hidden in the shadows.

Top: Grapefruit, Lemon, Bitter Orange, Ginger
Middle: Green Tea, Shiso, Maté, Pink Pepper
Base: Cedar, Clove, Nutmeg, Gaiac Wood