Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

A Scent by Issey Miyake Review

September 20, 2009

A Scent by Issey Miyake is the latest feminine launch from Issey Miyake, whose last main successful fragrance launched 17 years ago. Over on the ‘A Scent’ website, you can watch a video interview with Daphné Bugey, who mentions that she chose to use a ‘forgotten’ ingredient, that has been extracted with a new modern technique.

a scentA Scent opens with a light citrus note, possibly from the listed Verbena, and a whole lot of green. Green has been a theme of this years feminine launches, with Cristalle Eau Verte and Versace Versense, as well as Miss Dior Cherie L’Eau, and Bvlgari Green Jade all spearheading the trend throughout the year.
Galbanum quickly takes the lead and heads centre stage. This Galbanum is dry, soft, slightly moss like and grassy. The inclusion of Galbanum in a fragrance is very interesting as it seemed to have fallen out of favour with the perfume buying public, and although mentioned in many notes pyramids recently it hasn’t really been as potent as here. Good examples of Galbanum in fragrance are Chanel’s No19, Guerlain’s Vol de Nuit and Estée Lauder’s Private Collection.
Although not particularly harsh, it is softened by light floral accents, with super clean Jasmine beside the Galbanum. There isn’t much of a drydown to speak of, but the fragrance is transparent throughout and not as thick as many green scents have been. A Scent is very different to what the perfume market is used to (fruity-floral) and has been very polarising with customers. Maybe Issey Miyake will be at the front of the new trend in fragrance, as he was with L’Eau D’Issey.

Top: Verbena, Fresh Notes
Middle: Galbanum, Hyacinth
Base: Jasmine, Woods

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Paul Smith Man Review

September 17, 2009

Paul Smith Man, not to be confused with Paul Smith Men (which was the first fragrance released), is the latest release from Paul Smith. The London based designer is famous for his stripy motif. The advertising was shot by Sir Smith himself, and the bottle is a basic black bottle reminiscent of Jil Sander and Comme des Garcons Luxe Patchouli.

paulsmithmanMan opens with a tiny hint of Bergamot-citrus, but is mostly dominated by Anise & Iris – the Iris is carroty, rooty and dry, and persists throughout the life of the fragrance. It feels that it is very ‘Paul Smith’ in style, and reminds me of Men and London.
Behind the Iris is a sweet and light Patchouli note, as well as a warm-dry, resinous-smokeless Incense and Violet (which is the whole plant – leaf and flower, rather than just ‘part’ of it), all appear and do not overpower. The “Spicy Accord” mentioned reminds me of Kenzo Power, with Cardamom and other notes giving a slightly sweet edge to the Violet.
The drydown is Tonka heavy, and the Iris remains present to the bitter end.
Paul Smith Man, although not wildly original (fans of Fahrenheit would probably like this), is still a departure from most mainstream releases and very pleasing, with good longevity and moderate sillage.

Top: Yuzu, Bergamot, Anise
Middle: Incense, Patchouli, Spicy Accord
Base: Orris, Violet, Tonka Bean

BNTBTBB Dirty Review

July 24, 2009

Dirty is apparently inspired by the phenomenon of an “Italian shower”, otherwise known as using deodorant instead washing. It explains why the fragrance smells so clean. The picture is actually of the matching body spray, but I thought it was too entertaining not to use.

DirtyA highly mentholated Mint and Lemon are the top notes. Surprisingly minty-fresh, it’s the Spearmint smell of Wrigley’s chewing gum, except toned down a lot. Also present is the same Oakmoss dustiness as Eau Sauvage.
It warms into an aromatic, light Lavender with herbal notes and the mint still present. It’s not toothpasty, as you would expect from the top, but it’s a fantastic solid Lavender fougere without any aquatic notes. On a card, it is more anisic than it is on skin, and could fool you into thinking it was a replacement for Yohji Homme.
The soft quiet Sandalwood drydown is acres more complex than the synthetics you normally smell in mainstream designer fragrances. It reminds me of warm bark. The problem I have with Dirty is that it doesn’t smell unclean or dirty. I want my fragrances dirty, not the man!

Notes: Spearmint, Tarragon, Sandalwood, Lavender, Neroli, Thyme, Oakmoss

Lacoste Challenge Review

July 19, 2009

Challenge is Lacoste’s most recent release, fronted by Hayden Christensen, best known as the second worst thing about the Star Wars prequels (Jar Jar Binks takes the crown). The bottle is coated with a soft rubbery material, and is meant to go back to Lacoste’s roots as a tennis accessories brand – and apparently Christensen plays tennis. Tenuous.

ChallengeChallenge opens with a citrus, herbal, green ‘smell’. It doesn’t smell particularly like any of citrus fruit I can think of, and the aromatic notes are quite disappointing too – Challenge doesn’t really grab attention. It does however remind me of a shower gel, rather than a fragrance.
As the heart appears, there is something vaguely sweaty or dirty behind a quiet and slightly peppery Ginger note. As usual, the Violet here isn’t floral, but rather Violet Leaf, which smells sharp and synthetic. It smells like YSL L’Homme, but missing a magical something. Challenge is made more tolerable by a surprising Pine needle note throughout the heart, and the wonderful drydown which is soft, creamy and woodsy – and actually smells very good! The problem is that the journey to the base is quite difficult, and then the base doesn’t last long enough on skin to justify it.

Top: Lemon, Bergamot, Orange
Middle: Ginger, Juniper, Lavender, Violet Blossom
Base: Teakwood, Ebonywood

BNTBTBB Dear John Review

July 17, 2009

Dear John is the first BNTBTBB fragrance I smelled. A friend of mine worked for Lush, and was wearing it on Christmas Eve last year at a get together. I thought it smelled good at the time, and it piqued my interest in the line, but it took me forever to order the sampler set. The problem with ordering that sample set is that I now really love some of their scents.

Dear JohnDear John opens on Cloves with Limes. And is nothing else at first- then some Coriander appears, and it creates some much needed warmth. Some Coffee comes along, with a hint of Pine. It is green and friendly. Cool to smell, but inviting.
An almost hazelnutty Vetiver note, as well as something I read as Lavender are present for the heart, alongside a potent Anisic note. The Anise is dense and camphoraceous, and nothing like the transparent Anise from Kenzoair. The Lime is incredibly persistent, which is strange because I always expect citrus notes to evaporate rapidly, especially natural versions of them.
Dries to a powdery, but vegetal Cedar, which smells very good. There aren’t many words to describe the Cedar, in fact the only one I can think of is quality.

Notes: Coffee, Lime, Pine, Cedarwood, Coriander, Vetiver, Clove Leaf

Prada Infusion de Fleur d’Oranger Review

July 14, 2009

Prada have been incredibly successful (and deservedly so) with Amber and Prada Man, then more recently with Infusion d’Iris and Infusion d’Homme. I’ve enjoyed all of their releases thus far, and was excited when I heard about the summer flanker for the infusion range, Infusion de Fleur d’Oranger. I was hoping for a lightweight Neroli for summertime. But it seems they spent the money on the packaging, and not the juice, which is not a surprise considering the way the industry works. Prada have had a huge let down in the first of their series of ‘ephemeral infusions’ based on their Exclusive boutique range.

Infusion de Fleur d'OrangerIdFdO opens with Neroli, the kind I recognise from Gaultier’s terrifyingly potent Fleur du Male. And just as soon as you catch that, it whizzes past your nose and is replaced with a light, powdery Tuberose with hints of white florals, presumably from the Jasmine and Orange Blossom, but none of it has any presence, skank or body, it’s just “there”.
And before you know it, that’s gone too. And you are left with a cheap smelling linen water. It’s slightly musky and powdery too, which must be the Serenolide – a Givaudan molecule described as “an elegant white musk with sweet fruity connotations providing warm and soft velvety notes that blend well with all kinds of trendy fruity accords”. The longevity is exceedingly poor, at probably 2 hours tops. Frankly, I’d expect to find this fragrance in Asda’s own brand ironing water, not a fine fragrance.

Top: Mandarin, Neroli
Middle: Orange Blossom, Tuberose, Jasmine
Base: Serenolide, Powdery Notes

Terre d’Hermes Review

July 12, 2009

Terre d’Hermes is meant to be an olfactory journey through the elements of earth, air and water (wait, no fire?). It was composed by Hermes Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena, famous for his transparent fragrance structures and launched in 2006. TdH has been massively popular and is the second most reviewed fragrance over at Basenotes (behind A*Men). It famously contains 55% Iso E Super in it’s formula.

Terre d'HermesOpens as a harsh and loud bitter Orange with a tiny hint of Grapefruit. Fortunately, this part is shortlived.
As the citrus subsides, earthy, scorched, dry Vetiver appears, but is dominated by the Pepper notes – which are just lightly spicy and nose-tingling. Soft and elegant, with a tiny hint of Patchouli, which has also been given the Ellena touch (a ghostly presence). There is also a minty-herbal note, which is possibly Geranium, and Benzoin, dry, resionous and vanillic, making me think “smoke”.
After this comes the ‘mineral’ smell, a cold, sharp crystalline note. Like breeze over a rocky desert (the advertising for Terre d’Hermes is perfect in this regard). The sparkling clear-ness reminds me of Paul Smith Story.
The long drydown remains crystal clear and Cedar like, projecting for miles with fantastic longevity. It performs particularly well in the heat of summer.

Top: Grapefruit, Orange, Flint
Middle: Pepper, Pink Pepper, Geranium leaves, Patchouli
Base: Cedar, Vetiver, Benzoin

BNTBTBB Ladyboy Review

July 10, 2009

Ladyboy is BNTBTBB’s ‘punk’ fragrance. It is apparently loved by “fiercely good looking” gay guys, as well as straight guys and girls (so everyone but Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgenders?) Words I would use to describe it are ‘flamboyant’ and ‘unconventional’ – especially as this in their Men’s offering.

LadyboyLadyboy opens with a brash, radioactive Banana. On a card it smells more like “refreshers” sweets, but on me it reminds me of the flavouring used in antibiotic syrup that I had to take when I was 6. The Banana is stood, rather unashamedly in front of the lush Violet Leaf (very good quality, not frustratingly synthetic) and Chamomile – a combination that smells like Raspberry leaf to me.
The Seaweed in the drydown is almost unrecognisable (I spent an entire weekend sniffing seaweed last week, I know what it smells like) – it isn’t salty or briny, but it does suggest the seaside. It’s strangely powdery, smoky and sweet but somewhat like the breeze. If the Banana wasn’t still so potent, it would probably save the fragrance for me.
My dislike of Banana as a flavouring/smell/taste/texture doesn’t make me dislike Ladyboy. What makes me dislike Ladyboy is that it all smells too strange together. Though the sugariness gives it a similar feel to Black XS, it is very unconventional, but I don’t know if it’s necessarily a good thing.

Notes: Banana, Violet Leaf, Seaweed, Labdanum, Oakmoss, Chamomile

Dior Dune pour Homme Review

July 6, 2009

Saturday was the Green Sniff n Speak day over at Basenotes. I took the opportunity to revisit one of my favourite summer scents, Dior’s fantastic Dune pour Homme, first launched in 1997.

Dune pour HommeDune opens on sharp Bergamot, and wet green leaves. It’s like leaves that still have raindrops on them. The sharpness is left behind quickly, and it becomes smooth.
There is a distinct Fig note in the heart, creamy and milky (like when you cut a leaf open and the milky looking liquid comes out) and rich, as well as perfectly ripe – just taken off the tree. The Fig is surrounded by an aquatic, watery feeling note – the effect Hedione helps creates in fragrances.
The verdant “green-ness” is maintained throughout the fragrance, is somewhat tart and reminds me of Rhubarb leaves.
The aquatic note recedes for the drydown and Dune is left as a soft, fuzzy and comfy Cedarwood and Tonka combination, which although not innovative, is very pleasant and enjoyable

Top: Fig Leaves, Basil Leaves, Blackcurrant Leaves, Mandarin
Middle: Hedione, Rose, Moss, Sage
Base: Fig Tree, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Tonka Bean, Vanilla

BNTBTBB Breath of God Review

July 1, 2009

B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful is the sister-brand of Lush, the natural bath bomb/soap/toiletries giant. So far, BNTBTBB’s fragrances haven’t gone into massive distribution, with stores in the UK, Japan and Austria. So if they aren’t available nearby, I apologise for teasing you. Breath of God could well be the brands most famous fragrance after Luca Turin raved about it (5 stars) in an update to Perfumes: The Guide. According to BNTBTBB it is a combination of Exhale and Inhale – 2 of the brands body sprays (which I’ve yet to smell, so can’t verify how similar they smell together).

Breath of GodNeroli, lightly floral and citrus with a big Vetiver note. There are hints of Melon, which detract from the smokiness of the Vetiver, and the soft pepper note makes the woody facet of Vetiver (which can also be nutty, grassy and salty, as well as anything else) stand out. It is earthy, dark and utterly mesmerizing for fans of the Vetiver note. Who knew that watery, sparkly Melon and rooty Vetiver went together so well? The Musk that is used is soft and I don’t find it grates or annoys my nose like many musks present in many designer fragrances do. You can just about smell the Rose in the heart, against the Vetiver (I’d like to mention that at this point, it’s still entirely melon on the card. Try it on the skin) with a dusky, mossy feel. It becomes increasingly smoky, and much less earthy as it dries down. I’m not certain if there is in fact any incense in the fragrance, but the smokiness that Simon Constantine has created definitely suggests it is there. Breath of God is an utterly fantastic Vetiver fragrance.

Notes: Cedarwood, Rose, Ylang Ylang, Vetiver, Lemon, Grapefruit, Neroli, Black Pepper, Sandalwood, Cade.