Category: Fragrance

October 9, 2009

Bond No. 9 Lexington Avenue

First: a word about art and money. Mediocre works with outrageous price tags are going to get (deservingly) harsher criticism. (Looking at you, Soup Can Man!) Arrogantly priced houses should be held to a higher standard. One as expensive as Bond No. 9 ($205 for 100mL) had better be bottled transcendence. I’ve tried a dozen or so of theirs, most of which weren’t anything special, and precious few could justify their price tag. That being said, I’d fork over the cash for this masterpiece in a New York minute.

It’s been compared to Serge Luten’s aggressively spiced Feminite du Bois, but Lexington Avenue strikes a balance between invigorating and comforting. Resinous blue cypress paired with fennel, similar to anise or licorice, for a bracing foundation. They balanced it with cozy gourmand notes of toasted almond and “crème brulée” over creamy sandalwood. Neither side of this spectrum would work alone, but together the result is incredible! A little olfactive alchemy and you’ve got creamy spiced woods woven with traces of peony. Perfectly wearable with a fascinating something that surprises you, catches your interest, and keeps you coming back.

Notes fluctuate but none of them take over or fade away completely. Generally the more resinous elements stand out in the opening, and softer gourmand side sets the tone hours later. Bond No.9’s eau de parfum formulations are even richer than the average edp, so the longevity’s wonderful, lasts 8 to 10 hours easily. Sillage is moderate on cooler days, but in warm weather that spice can fill the whole room. It’s hard to test due to Bond No.9’s limited distribution, but if you find Lexington Avenue, just close your eyes, pretend you didn’t see the hideously kitsch shoes all over the bottle, spritz, and experience … transcendence.… (More) “Bond No. 9 Lexington Avenue”

October 8, 2009

Dirty English: Me Versus The World

It was fairly early into my exploration of fragrance that I realized I particularly enjoyed a few notes, more than others.   At the top of the list was cedar, and I’ve come to enjoy it in all it’s shades and nuances.  Perfumery mainly uses two species, the Virginia Cedar, which is the sharp, resinous, woody scent that most people associate with hamster bedding or pencil shavings.  There’s also Atlas Cedar, which is a more distinguished, camphorous smell, beautiful in it’s own right for entirely different reasons, and used in entirely different applications.   Rarer are the perfumes that use cypress, which is a nice balance of the qualities of both and was used, along with Atlas cedar, in Juicy Couture Dirty English.  I have said for a long time now that this is the most underrated fragrance of 2008, missing the ballot altogether for Best New Fragrance in the 8th Basenotes Awards entirely, replaced instead with things like Diesel Fuel For Life and Lancôme Hypnôse.

But enough reminiscing.  Dirty English opens in a very unusual way, in that it blends sweet citrus notes with spicy cypress and caraway seed.  Let me take a step back and say how much I enjoy the addition of spice notes to fragrances, and what a difference they can make.  The black pepper note in Ralph Lauren Romance Silver saves it, it gives character and strength to Burberry London, it turns the entire composition on it’s ear in Cereus No. 7, it…well, you see where I’m going.  The maneuver is a good one, and it’s a very distinct spicy opening.  The edges of the sweetness and spice fade, and the drydown is much like the opening, but with the growing presence of moss and leather to esconce it firmly in the masculine category.  Where … (More) “Dirty English: Me Versus The World”

June 8, 2009

NEV2: Initial Impressions, Part Two

Okay, my nose has had time to recover, so I’m going to dive into the second half of these samples.

  • Parfums 06130 Cedre: I’m reminded a great deal of Viktor & Rolf Antidote, which isn’t a bad thing but Antidote would be the cheaper alternative. May well do this one side by side with it, Cedre seems slightly softer.
  • CdG Red Sequoia: This stuff is very, very good. I was predisposed to like it as a concept, but the execution is just as good. I’m consistently amazed at how many unique variations there are in the men’s woody category. Less sweet and more spicy compared to Palisander. Looking forward to it, not disappointed in the least.
  • L’Artisan Parfumeur Timbuktu: Very interesting, very green and earthy. I’m also getting a great deal of fruit, maybe a mango note a la Un Jardin Sur Le Nil? This thing is exceeding my expectations so far, I’m actually much more curious about it now than I was before.
  • Keiko Mecheri Bois De Santal: Sandalwood counterpointed with white osmanthus makes for a very interesting composition. I think this one leans only slightly towards the feminine side of unisex, but I won’t have any reservations in applying it. Quite lovely stuff, I like this note more than I did the one in the Ormonde Jayne creation.
  • Andy Tauer Une Rose Chypree: Altogether different from what I was expecting. Rose as a complement to a camphorous tea leaf that’s stealing the show, and a dash of cinnamon to break down any gender barriers. It’s unlike anything else I’ve smelled. Beautiful, simply beautiful.
  • Parfums de Nicolai New York: About all I can get is a strong sicilian lemon note, so this one’s revealing no secrets before I wear it. The note pyramid is quite intriguing, so I’ll
(More) “NEV2: Initial Impressions, Part Two”
June 8, 2009

NEV2: Initial Impressions, Part One

My package from Luckyscent arrived this afternoon and I don’t have nearly the self-restraint to let these go untested until they each come up on their day for testing. During the first set of niche samples I put my initial impressions up on Basenotes (in this post, to be precise) and it also gave me a bit to work with in my writing, so without further ado…

  • CdG Incense Avignon: Very nice woody incense, I was on the fence about Kyoto but this one’s a different creature, it seems lighter and sweeter. Warm, spicy and pleasant. Feeling optimistic about wearing it.
  • Le Labo Rose 31: My first experience with Le Labo and this thing is impressive! Rose and a black pepper note dominate the composition, this feels to me more rugged, more wearable for me than Czech and Speake No. 88.
  • Dominico Caraceni 1913: Been curious about this one almost from the beginning. It’s nothing like I anticipated, the rose note is much more prominent than I expected, and the cypress seems to carry the base. Not getting much olibanum as is listed. Very puzzling, going to be an interesting one to wear.
  • Montale Red Vetyver: I’ve not had great luck with Montale but they’ve all been oud-centric creations in the past. RV is an altogether different creature from those. The Terre d’Hermes comparison is spot on, it came to mind immediately, but there’s also a hay note. Not a barnyard, just damp hay. Interesting, will probably give it a side-by-side wear with TdH.
  • Mazzolari Lui: The note pyramid for this one sounded divine. Very rich-smelling but there’s an overpowering animalic note, the ambergris is over-the-top. I’m hoping the story will be different once I get it on my skin but right now I’m holding out much less
(More) “NEV2: Initial Impressions, Part One”
June 8, 2009

Fresh is dead, long live fresh: The Anatomy of the Discriminating Man’s Summer Scent

Before I actually tackle the matter at hand, I’d like to thank Nukapai at Basenotes for putting the question to me, on Twitter (where else?). When I commented that most of my wardrobe was for cool to cold weather and I needed more summer variety, she wanted to know what I thought made a good summery scent. I think the answer deserves a bit more than the 140 characters than I would’ve been limited to there.

I believe different people have different criteria they subconsciously rate fragrance on (or consciously rate, in instances such as these where I have to consider them). For me, these criteria include, but are not limited to:

  • How well it captures the spirit of summer.
  • Projection is above average.
  • It flourishes in hot weather, becoming more open and vibrant instead of cloying or stifling.
  • Price is reasonable enough that I don’t feel bad wearing it any old summer day or night.
  • Is, at the very least, unique enough that you don’t smell like a fresh-faced 19 year-old trying to get lucky at a South Beach club.

There are some intangibles that I’m leaving out because they’re basically the byproduct of synesthesia (we weren’t really going to critique fragrances on the color or shape they evoke, were we?) You’ll note longevity isn’t on here, mainly because I consider these to be for only a few hours of fun, and sometimes that’s all you really want out of your selection.

Now, there are tons of fragrances that hit 3 to 4 of these criteria. A good example of 4 out of 5 would be Juicy Couture Dirty English (review coming soon). Good projection, very reasonably priced (especially now that gift sets are hitting TJ Maxx for $50 and that includes a 100mL bottle), and undermarketed, at least … (More) “Fresh is dead, long live fresh: The Anatomy of the Discriminating Man’s Summer Scent”

June 8, 2009

Thierry Mugler A*Men – The Ten Ton Pacifist

Recently on Basenotes I ran the first-ever Basenotes March Madness, and one of the criteria for a fragrance being in the running was to have the most reviews. A*Men led the pack by a huge margin, but it’s also probably the most divisive fragrance mentioned on the boards. It’s very polarizing, you either love it or hate it. I’m firmly ensconced in the “love it” group.
The bottle comes a few ways, either the black rubber bottle with blue star, or the metal bottle which is refillable at any Thierry Mugler counter, such as the Macy’s in Louisville. I have to admit I’m a huge fan of the bottle both ways, it’s so distinct, so memorable. But let’s be honest, we care about the inside of the bottle more than the outside.
Given how polarizing the fragrance really is I can’t do anything other than give my opinion, and hope you’ll keep it in mind on your journey with the fragrance. It’s sweet and chocolatey, yet very complex, especially for what’s still essentially a gourmand. There’s plenty of notes jostling about, there’s a peppermint note that most people find gives it a sort of “edge”, a metaphorical spearhead for the rest of the gourmand notes to come; chocolate, coffee, and caramel. I suppose you first have to enjoy chocolate to like it at all, and then on top of that, you have to like it in gratuitous amounts because there’s plenty of it in Angel Men. Projection and longevity are both in a class of their own, so spray responsibly. It’s the definition of a sillage monster, it enters the room before you do and leaves after. Despite the larger-than-life cloud this thing projects, I consider it a “comfort scent” much like people have comfort foods, and if I’m feeling … (More) “Thierry Mugler A*Men – The Ten Ton Pacifist”

June 3, 2009

Niche Experiment Volume Two

Luckyscent is getting more business from me as I delve back into reviewing niche. Expect to see reviews for:

Andy Tauer Lonestar Memories
Andy Tauer Une Rose Chypree
CdG Series 2 (Red): Sequoia
CdG Series 3 (Incense): Avignon
Domenico Caraceni 1913
Keiko Mecheri Bois de Santal
L’Artisan Timbuktu
Le Labo Rose 31
Mazzolari Lui
Montale Red Vetyver
Parfums 06130 Cedre
Parfums de Nicolai New York… (More) “Niche Experiment Volume Two”

March 15, 2009

Five Fragrances To Live Life To

Inspired by Redneck Perfumisto’s plug of Chandler Burr’s GQ article, I’m gonna see if I can’t pare my wardrobe down to five fragrances that let you do anything in life, and smell great doing it.

1.) Aramis Havana. Serial readers saw that one coming after reading the title. It’s a spicy, heavy, masculine fragrance that could be worn every day, or just for those special occasions. If you see fragrance as anything more than just something to keep you from stinking, you owe it to yourself to find a sample of this somewhere, anywhere.
2.) Dolce & Gabanna Light Blue For Women. Burr and I agree on this one. Not only does it break down some useless gender barriers, it’s a damn fine fragrance. Much better than the men’s version, that’s for sure anyway. It’s perfect for casual days, it’s fun and lively, and the smell is delicious. If you just can’t bring yourself to buy a women’s perfume, the highly similar Versace Man Eau Fraiche is, well, highly similar.
3.) Chanel Platinum Égoïste. Your professional needs are met and exceeded with a rich, sparkling fragrance that exudes wealth and power. There’s a fine line between aged and experienced, and PE falls on the experienced side.
4.) Sean John Unforgivable. It’d be hard for me not to include Unforgivable, it’s so pleasant, classy, eminently wearable, and is the easiest “everyday” scent I’ve yet to find. You can substitute Creed Millesime Imperial if you must.
5.) Amouage Jubilation XXV. Kouros had the 5th spot until I opened up JXXV and sniffed it during writing. You see where I’m going with this. It’s just a special fragrance, one that doesn’t come around very often and it’s for those special moments that don’t come around very often. Weddings, anniversaries, significant birthdays, the events … (More) “Five Fragrances To Live Life To”

February 21, 2009

The Palisander Conspiracy, Part II: The Mystery Of M7

I write this with still-shaking hands, the events described below are no more than ten minutes old.

Saturday was a day for rest and relaxation, or so they say.  I was lounging on the couch in nothing more than a pair of underwear when the serenity was abruptly ended.

THUD! THUD! THUD THUD THUD THUD!, went the door, loud, determined, forceful, even angry knocks over and over. I quietly got up and went into the bathroom where the clothes from last night still lay and put them on, listening intently at some scattered conversation at the door. I could pick out the words “Office Depot”, and could hear two voices, which meant there were two guys outside and they were looking for me. Oh hell, what have I gotten myself into. For a full two minutes the door was assaulted with closed fist, and then I heard another sound. A police radio. My fear turned into confusion as I didn’t believe I’d done anything to get me on the wrong side of the police.

I must’ve been a sight to see, wrinkled red shirt, wrinkled blue jeans, wild unkempt hair from sitting on the couch watching MythBusters episodes. I unlocked the door and stepped onto the porch in bare feet. The officer whose eyes I met did not look amused.

“Good morning.” obviously said in sarcasm as it was 3 in the afternoon and I looked to all intents and purposes like I’d just gotten out of bed.
“Good morning, sir.”
“Are you…Brian?”


“No sir, I’ve seen some mail for him but my name’s Daniel.”
“I see, and you obviously do not live with Brian.”

Now, I’m so frequently mistaken for being gay that I was almost offended that he assumed I was straight. As ludicrous as that … (More) “The Palisander Conspiracy, Part II: The Mystery Of M7”

February 21, 2009

The Palisander Conspiracy

Months ago, Basenotes’ mikeperez23 was kind enough to mail me a sample of CdG Series 2 Red: Palisander. However I never ended up seeing it, and was quite disappointed that it either had been lost in the mail or stolen from my mailbox.

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I found out what happened to it.

June 20th, 2008 (or thereabouts)

There was a man, let’s call him Mister P, though his name is actually…

James P.
1416 S 3rd St
Louisville, KY 40208

But this mysterious Mister P used to live at the address that I live at now, and on that fateful day he got the mail, including a padded envelope from Miami, Florida. Not realizing that it was not for him, but perplexed nonetheless, he opens the package. Inside is a tiny glass spray bottle, with one word on it in black on a white label.


Mister P stared at the bottle, and bottle stared back at him as bottles are sometimes known to do in late June when you’ve had a few. He calls a few friends and asks them to come over and help him with a problem. Let’s call them Dick and Jane, since I really don’t know their names this time. They enter his small apartment and sit down across from him at the kitchen table. Mister P turns to them with a look of concern.

“This was in the mail, it was supposed to be for the new tenant at 1420.” He then reveals the tiny bottle, and the confusion was well-nigh palpable. Mister P looks at Jane and Jane looks at Dick and Dick looks at Mister P, then they alternate and look at the other person like a clichéd action movie. After a minute or two … (More) “The Palisander Conspiracy”