Friday, February 5, 2016

Ambré Baldessarini

Unless you're willing to gamble $30, I do not recommend buying a bottle of this without wearing it first.  Notice I said "wearing", and not "sampling".  That’s because this fragrance smells very different when you wear it, as opposed to going to a store, spraying the back of your hand, and spending the next few hours pressing your snout against your hand.

When you smell Ambré Baldessarini up close, it smells really good, like this dark, spicy, mysterious oriental.  It reminds me of Michael Kors For Men, but without the tobacco note.  Wearing it is a completely different story.  First off, this is a really subtle perfume – don’t expect much projection with it.  It’s a skin scent for sure, so others will have to get right up close to you to be able to smell it.  Second, it smells a lot less mysterious and dark when you wear it around.  I basically smell a small hint of warm amber, with some light spicy and fruity notes on top of it.  I also smell some pointless white musk, which contributes nothing of value to the fragrance.  It’s a pretty light scent, which is surprising for perfume called “Ambré”.

And that's about it.  Ambré Baldessarini is merely an okay fragrance, not bad, but nothing special either.  I think it smells better on a smelling strip than wearing it around all day.  There’s nothing particularly unique about it – lord knows there are a ton of other oriental fragrances with freaking apple and spicy notes in them.

Overall, my opinion on this scent is, "Eh".  I'll keep wearing it and see if my opinion changes after a few more wearings.

MY RATING:  6/10

Monday, February 1, 2016

Versace L'Homme, Revisited

Due to popular demand, as well as my own curiosity, I’m revisiting this old warhorse: Versace L’Homme.  I’ve had a bottle of this juice for a few years now, but I don’t think I’ve worn this in like three years.  I never really liked it that much, but I've seen so many positive reviews of it, my curiosity was piqued.  I have the current reformulated version.  I’ve never smelled any of the older versions.

It still smells the same way I remember it from three years ago – dry and woody, but heavy and loud.  I was hoping I’d detect the oakmoss, labdanum, patchouli, and all the other notes people talk about with this one, but I don’t.

It's growing on me, though.  I think I had the wrong expectations about it before.  Because it’s an 80s scent, I expected a typical leather and moss-dominant powerhouse, but that’s not really what this is.  Versace L’Homme, to me, smells a bit more refined and restrained than, say, Oscar de la Renta Pour Lui.  It’s certainly a powerhouse, no question about that, but it’s not as brash as most.  It's relatively conservative, which is something I did NOT expect from an 80's scent, and especially from a daring designer like Gianni Versace.

Oh, and it’s masculine too, that’s for sure.  I cannot imagine any woman wanting to sneak a spritz of this.  However, it’s more this kind of masculine:




rather than this:


or this:




I really like the drydown.  I can sort of smell the leather by then, but it’s so well blended with what I'm guessing is cedar, patchouli, labdanum, amber and moss, it's impossible for me to distinguish any of the notes.  Whatever it is, it smells warm and rich, but still dry.  I’m not used to smelling leather this dry.  I like it a lot.

I'm surprised most reviewers don't mention how strong this is.  I did one spritz on the back of my hand this morning, and it's still pumping out the aroma seven hours later.  I find this fragrance very strong, and worthy of the powerhouse label.

Back in the mid-nineties, when I was just out of law school, my Dad and I were members of this group called “The Esquire Smokers Club”.  We were nothing more than a bunch of guys who'd get together at a restaurant every few months, smoke cigars and shoot the shit.  Most of the guys were a lot older than me, and it was primarily a group of lawyers, doctors, businessmen, and politicians.  We’d wear tuxedos for our cigar meetings too, and drink Scotch and martinis.  Versace L’Homme would have been the perfect frag to wear at one of those meetings.  Those were good times, and this fragrance brings back some nice memories for me.

Thumbs up for Versace L’Homme now.


MY RATING:  8/10


UPDATE 2/2/16

I'm actually wearing Versace L'Homme today, not just sampling it, and I'm really enjoying it!  It still smells the same as I remember it, but for some reason I really like it now.  I think I finally "get it" with this scent.

I probably had chronic olfactory fatigue a few years ago from extended exposure to Lapidus Pour Homme.

NEW RATING:  9/10

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Happy For Men

I've read so many positive reviews of Happy For Men on both Basenotes and Fragrantica, I expected and wanted to like this, but nope.   I hate this scent.

I expected a nice simple, dry citrus fragrance with some woody notes in the base, something I'd enjoy wearing in warm weather.  Instead, what I get is a few minutes of boring bergamot and orange in the beginning, which is overpowered by a metallic calone note and a chemical white musk note.  Unfortunately the bad synthetics dominate this fragrance, and Happy For Men ends up smelling like Johnson & Johnson's baby shampoo.

Happy For Men is a terrible fragrance.  It smells like one of those awful "fresh laundry" or fabric softener perfumes the Clean company would release.  I am amazed there are people who want to smell like this.

They should call this Miserable For Men.

MY RATING:  2/10

Cigar

No blog about men’s colognes is complete without a review of Cigar.  This is just one of the coolest fragrances ever.  Look at the packaging and the bottle – how awesome is that?  The scent is just as awesome.

Tobacco is such a great perfume accord.  In women’s perfumes it smells sexy and ultra-feminine, and in men’s fragrances, its smells totally virile.  Not surprisingly, Cigar smells ultra-manly.

Its depiction of tobacco is very realistic.  Cigar makes careful use of patchouli, cedar, pepper, leather and amber to create something that smells almost exactly like a wooden humidor full of fine quality cigars.  This isn’t some cardboard box of White Owls – we’re talking about a nice cedar humidor full of Partagas and Davidoffs.  Cigar even captures, somehow, the slight dampness of the inside of a humidor.  I don’t know how they do it, but Cigar manages to have a subtly moist aroma, essential in any good tobacco fragrance.

If you already own Remy Latour’s Cigar Commander, I can tell you that the scents are similar – they both depict tobacco realistically – but they’re different enough to warrant owning both, that is, if you love tobacco fragrances.  Whereas Cigar is woody and spicy, Commander is greener and a little more herbal.  I own and wear both.

It’s not a powerhouse, but Cigar is both long lasting and projects well.  It manages to smell both aromatic and smooth, which I don’t get in a lot of perfumes.  It has an addictive scent, one that I can’t get enough of.  I need to wear Cigar more often than I do.


MY RATING:  8.5/10

Saturday, January 30, 2016

CH Men Sport

This isn’t really my cup of tea, but CH Sport is a good strong woody spicy scent, in the style of a lot of the stuff Creed was releasing back in the 90’s, only much better. 

In the 1990s, Creed was cranking out a lot of so-called “Millesime” fragrances, which were these ozonic, quasi-aquatic woody scents that, to me, smelled highly synthetic and poorly balanced.  I thought one or two of them, like Erolfa, were okay, but most smelled to me like hairspray; Silver Mountain Water, Millesime Imperiale and Tabarome Millesime were examples of this kind of perfume.  Millesime Imperiale was the worst of the lot, a harsh, obnoxious fake ambergris and rubbing alcohol bomb.

CH Sport is that kind of scent, only Carolina Herrera does it right.  It’s an ultra-dry, very sharp wood and spice scent, with a good sense of proportion and balance.  The harsh pepper, clove and cedar notes are counterbalanced with citrus and subtle aquatic notes, and the whole composition smells transparent, with all the various notes working together to create a nice smell.

It's obvious from the second you spritz your skin that CH Sport makes heavy use of synthetics, but unlike the Creeds, this is well blended, so rather than smelling like a ham-fisted soup of chemicals, it simply smells hip and modern.  Besides being cheaper than natural oils, synthetics are used in perfumes because they last much longer than most naturals, especially citrus notes.  They certainly benefit this fragrance – longevity is excellent, at about ten hours on my skin.  

This isn’t something I’d wear, but if you’re into woody spice fragrances that have a slight watery texture, CH Sport is definitely worth a try.


MY RATING:  8/10

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur

Before any of you start commenting about how this fragrance has been destroyed by reformulation, let me say that I am reviewing the current, re-issued version of Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur by Five Star Fragrances, and I am going to judge it on its own merits. 

But first, let me just get this out of the way: yes, I have smelled the “vintage” version of this scent, so I am well aware that this new version smells different, is weaker, and is less complex.  Granted I’m going by memory, having smelled this when I was a kid back in the Seventies, but I remember that it used to be a lot more herbal smelling, with stronger top and middle notes than this new version.  There, I said it.  Now let’s move on.

I love this scent.  If there is such a term as an “oriental chypre”, then this is it.  Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur smells like Chanel Pour Monsieur with less green, and with a touch of amber and vanilla.  It is very French, and it is very elegant, and although it’s been reformulated, it still maintains a kind of retro 1960s vibe that you never smell in current day releases.  The combination of oakmoss, labdanum and herbal notes create a kind of skanky, animalic smell – those of you who like Moustache or Monsieur de Givenchy will know what I’m talking about.  In fact, I could swear there’s a touch of civet in this scent, but it’s not listed.

It’s a fragrance you can wear any time of year comfortably.  The bright herbal citrus opening is refreshing and dry, and it smells great in hot weather.  The oriental base notes of vanilla and amber are subtle, so they don’t smother you in summer time, yet they provide enough warmth to make this a good cold weather scent too. 

This is not a scent that projects far, and it never really was a sillage beast anyway.  It stays close to your skin, as it should, since this is a soft, gentle scent.  Therefore, don’t go on Fragrantica whining about how there’s no projection – this isn’t Marbert Man we’re talking about.  This is supposed to be a tasteful, classy gentleman’s scent, not a powerhouse.  Longevity is very good, and I can smell it on myself all day in little wisps.  It’s a scent that kind of just lays back underneath your shirt and hums along quietly for hours, with its warm, lemony glow.

With a price of about $20 US for a gigantic 8 ounce bottle, how can you not at least try this?  Get the after shave lotion as well, for the full effect.


MY RATING:  9/10

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Maxim's Pour Homme

Maxim’s Pour Homme is an old favorite for fans of strong scents.  Like a lot of 80’s fragrances, Maxim’s is jam-packed with a ton of notes (all of them strong) all trying to show their muscles.  It smells great, but I find that it smells a lot different on paper than it does on my skin.  On a smelling strip, Maxim’s is extremely spicy and leathery, drying down to the standard macho leather and oakmoss accord.   

On my skin, it smells like a totally different fragrance once the drydown starts.  After about a half hour or so, Maxim’s becomes extremely raunchy, animalic and dirty; I smell nothing like this on a paper strip.  In fact, I would go so far as to say it’s almost a carbon copy of the drydown in Antaeus – a rich, skanky, mossy and dense aroma, where I can clearly smell labdanum, patchouli and oakmoss dominating everything.  I swear there is a huge wallop of castoreum in this, or some other animalic funk.  Some will find the drydown revolting.  Fortunately I really like these kinds of scents because they’re bold, daring and assertive.  Maxim’s is no exception.

Maxim’s Pour Homme is, without a doubt, one of the most masculine fragrances I own.  Its similarity to Antaeus is striking, so much that when my bottle of Maxim’s (which I believe was discontinued years ago) runs out, I’ll probably just buy a bottle of Antaeus, even though Maxim’s is rougher and cruder. 

Though it’s not a sillage bomb, Maxim’s Pour Homme is a testicular scent, fully deserving its powerhouse status.


MY RATING:  8.5/10

Monday, January 25, 2016

Quorum Silver - Updated Review

I'm wearing Quorum Silver today, after not having worn it in a few years, and I think this is better than when I first reviewed it.  It's still primarily a cedar fragrance, but there's more to it in the drydown.  By about hour six, this thing transforms into what smells like a warm incense fragrance, and is really nice.  I can smell a little bit of amber in the background that rounds everything off and gives it warmth, and it blends nicely with the cedar and the spicy notes like clove and pepper.  The warmth of the drydown is what impresses me, and is a nice contrast to the cold, stone-faced cedar smell you get for the first hour or two.

Quorum Silver deserves a bump up in rating, so

MY RATING:  8/10

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Vetiver EDT by Demeter

The more fragrances from Demeter I try, the more impressed I am with this company.  Yes, I’m sure their perfumes contain a lot of synthetics, considering how inexpensive their prices are, but I don’t care.  Their perfumes smell good, and many smell natural, and that’s what really matters, isn’t it?  Plus, I love how unpretentious their fragrances and their marketing are.  It's a nice alternative to the niche market.

What I’m reviewing here is Demeter’s eau de toilette simply called “Vetiver”.  I mention this because they also have another vetiver perfume under their “Demeter Naturals” series, which I have not tried yet.  What’s nice about their regular Vetiver scent is that it smells quite natural and has a good amount of depth.

The fragrance is both earthy and woody, and those qualities remain for the entire duration of the scent on your skin.  When you first spray it on, it’s dark and smoky, almost smelling like patchouli.  Give it about a half hour, and the smokiness disappears, and the earthy quality of the vetiver comes to the front.  This is a nice rooty, wet soil kind of smell, leading me to believe the quality of the vetiver oil is quite good.  It smells totally natural and multifaceted.  After about an hour or two, the scent becomes drier and more woody, yet the damp, rich vetiver scent remains.  Although vetiver is often described as “woody” (vetiver is a grass, not a wood type), I’m guessing that Demeter augmented the vetiver oil with some cedar here, because I swear I smell a pencil shaving note on top of the earthy vetiver.  It smells to me like synthetic cedar, but it doesn’t matter because the accord works, and just smells good.

Don’t expect a barnstormer of a vetiver here like Annick Goutal’s Vetiver, though.  Like most of the Demeters I’ve tried, this is a subtle skin scent that doesn’t project far.  You wear Demeters for your own enjoyment, not for asphyxiating everyone else in the room.  Longevity, however, like most vetivers, is excellent; I can smell this on myself in excess of 12 hours.

This isn’t a vetiver I wear very often, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a quality scent.  I tend to prefer more bitter vetivers, but that’s just my personal taste.  Demeter have created a very good scent here, one that represents the smell of vetiver very well.  It’s an excellent scent for those of you who are new to this type of fragrance, and want to delve into the world of vetiver for the first time.  The price is certainly attractive.


MY RATING:  8/10

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Chanel Pour Monsieur

The minute you smell Chanel Pour Monsieur, you can tell immediately that it's from another time and place.  Think 1950s-early 1960's Paris or New York, Breakfast At Tiffany's, Irma La Douce era.  It was made in a time when there wasn't a big market for men's fragrances, before Brut came on the scene and became the benchmark for what a men's perfume would smell like.  Chanel Pour Monsieur is an extremely old school green chypre that could just as well pass for a women's scent.  If you haven't smelled it yet, I can assure you that nobody makes new fragrances for men like this anymore.

I've loved this scent for almost as long as I've been interested in perfumes (I bought my first bottle in the mid-90s), but I've held off writing a review of it for so long because it's hard for me to describe what it smells like.  It has more in common with green chypres made for women than any man's fragrance I can think of, though Capucci Pour Homme and Signoricci aren't too far off the mark.

It's light and transparent, herbal, floral and very green.  Think Eau Sauvage blended with something like Givenchy III, and you'll have an idea of what this is like.  If you're not familiar with those, imagine a grassy, mossy smell blended with citrus and a soft floral smell.  It is dry and not sweet.  It dries down to what smells like primarily oakmoss, labdanum and light spices.  It’s famous for its subtle scent and discreet projection, so don’t expect a sillage bomb here.  Its close-to-the-skin projection is what most critics complain about, but I love that aspect of it.  It’s elegant and debonaire.  Longevity is excellent, and I can smell it on myself all day.

I’m about half-way done with my second big bottle of this, and I plan on replenishing it as soon as it’s empty.  I’m relieved that Chanel has the guts to still make this, and make it in such a way that it still smells like it’s a 1955 creation. 

If you’re considering buying a bottle of this, I do NOT recommend buying it without trying it first.  You’re going to love it or hate it.  Those who don’t like it will probably think it smells like an “old lady perfume”.  Chanel Pour Monsieur goes for about $95 U.S. for the big 100 ml. bottle, an expensive mistake if you end up not liking it.

On the other hand, if you try it and like it, by all means buy a bottle and give Chanel incentive to keep making this.

MY RATING:  10/10

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Xeryus

If you've never smelled Xeryus before, don't be fooled by the elegant frosted bottle for the newest edition of this scent.  Xeryus is not light, transparent, aquatic, or sporty, as the bottle might lead you to believe.

No, this is a dark, hairy, all-beef powerhouse from the 80's.  I'm surprised more people don't recognize it as such.  If I were to describe in one word what most 80's fragrances are like, I'd say "dense".  These are complex, thick, syrup-like compositions, containing huge numbers of different notes and ingredients.  Leather and oakmoss seem to be the glory notes for 80's power scents, giving them the transparency of lead, as well as superior strength and staying power.  Xeryus has all of this.

I never owned Xeryus back in the day, but it was a popular fragrance then, and its scent was unmistakable and unforgettable.  All these years, I can still remember vividly its leathery, mossy, herbal and soapy smell, as well as its strength.  Like the other powerhouse bombs back then, Xeryus' leather and oakmoss accord was its most powerful feature.  It smelled similar to the heavy stuff like Drakkar Noir and Oscar de la Renta Pour Lui, but Xeryus has always been its own animal.

Xeryus is a strong, long-lasting fragrance that changes over time.  The strong citrus and herbal notes in the opening are surprisingly long lasting, sustaining the opening smell for over an hour.  As the day goes on, Xeryus becomes darker, and by hour five, this is a freaking oakmoss bomb.  You gotta love it.

I recently bought what I assume is the newest edition of Xeryus, pictured above, and it still smells the way I remember it.  Yes, I'm sure it's been reformulated, but the overall smell is the same to me.  If Givenchy decided to use less oakmoss or leather or some other ingredient than they used to, as long as I get the same feeling when I smell it, what do I give a shit?

Hats off to Givenchy for continuing to make this, and keeping the spirit of the original Xeryus.

MY RATING:  9/10

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Back In Business

Hello everyone, it's been a long time!

My "sabbatical" turned out to be a lot longer than I'd expected.  I really needed a long break from all this perfume stuff.  Essentially, I'd lost the urge to read or write any more about perfume.  With the sheer number of niche fragrance releases, as well as reading too much of the "vintage vs. reformulation" debates on the perfume websites, I simply got burned out.  I'm not someone who seeks out niche fragrances, and, as you all know, I don't give a damn if what I'm smelling is a reformulation or an old version of a perfume, so I got sick of reading about perfumes.

Well, I'm getting the urge to write again, finally.  While I've been away, I've been wearing the same kinds of colognes I've always worn, Quorum's still my favorite fragrance, and I've discovered some scents that, though they've been in the marketplace for awhile, are new and exciting to me.  I want to write about them and share my enthusiasm for them.  My wife has been encouraging me for the past few years to start up the blog again, and I think I'm finally ready to give it a go.

If any of you read the reviews on Fragrantica.com, you may have noticed that I've already written a whole bunch of reviews there over the past week or two.  If you want to check them out, look for "shamus1" and click on my icon, then click "My Reviews".  Unfortunately I'm not enjoying reading the reviews there all that much - the reviews have become nothing more than a forum for whining about how this fragrance has been ruined by reformulation, and childish one-upsmanship about "I have the vintage version, and you guys don't!", raining on everyone else's parade.  I was hoping things had changed since 2013, but they haven't, at least on Fragrantica.

I'm hoping my blog will serve as an alternative - like before, I plan to continue reviewing mainly current formulations of the fragrances out there.  If I review an older version of a scent, it's probably because it happens to be the one I have on hand.  I do not collect "vintage" fragrances.  Most of the fragrances I own were not "vintage" when I first bought them, but they may be now, simply because I've held onto them for so long.  Hell, I've had three or four bottles of Ho Hang lying around the house since the mid-1990s!

Anyway, it's nice to be back.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Taking a sabbatical

I should have written this a LONG time ago, but I didn't think I had to at the time.  Due to my work, I have not been able to dedicate any time to this blog, which is unfortunate, since I haven't been able to respond to any of the posts or questions you guys have made recently.  I'm a litigation attorney, and there are times when my job requires all of my mental and physical energy.  The past couple of months have been one of those periods. 

I work on the blog usually at night, after dinner and my kids are asleep, but my work has taken every ounce of energy I have recently, and when I get home, I'm just beat.  As I've noted before, I only write when I'm feeling inspired, and I haven't had the energy to feel inspired to write about perfume!  I'd rather not write at all during these times, rather than just throw together some half-assed, half-hearted crap for the sake of writing.  The quality of my writing nosedives when I'm not motivated.

This is a long way of saying that I'm still alive and well, but that I'm going to be out of commission on the blog for a little while, until my work goes back to a normal pace.  I apologize to all of you who have been following this blog for so long and look forward to the regular reviews.  I'm particularly sorry about not being able to respond to the many comments and questions you've posted during this time.  I will do my best to go back and respond to them as soon as I can.

Don't worry, I'm not shutting the blog down.  It's been too much work and too much fun for me to do that.

Best regards.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sandalo Oriental de Crusellas


This is godawful. They call this sandalwood? It smells like Spic & Span.

I can detect a teeny resemblance to something remotely like sandalwood for maybe thirty seconds after the moment I first splash this on. After that, I get this nasty blob of an odor that smells like some kind of household cleanser. I could barely smell it too, even with vigorous splashing onto my upper body. I swear I must have used a whole ounce of this in one application, just to be able to smell it. After twenty minutes, the smell was completely gone. That's about the only good thing I can say about it.

This is going right in the trash.

MY RATING: 1/10
Fragrance House: Crusellas

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Cuba Orange


"Cuba Orange" is certainly an appropriate name for this, because orange blossom dominates. I must be starting to finally warm up to the smell of orange blossom, because I actually like this! My sampling of John Varvatos Artisan a few months ago opened my eyes to orange blossom done well, and it may have also unexpectedly opened my mind to the note overall. Cuba Orange is a delightful perfume.

This is a sweet floral fougere where all the notes seem to be there to support and prolong the smell of neroli and orange blossom. Lavender, tonka bean, white musk, spicy notes and moss are merely detectable peripherally, and together they enhance the overall orangey vibe. It's all very well balanced, and even though the orange blossom and neroli are the showcase, they aren't cloying or overpowering. The fragrance smells a lot like Dunhill Desire, but it's lot less heavy and sweet than it.

What I love about Cuba Orange is that its scent feels like it has a shiny orange glow to it from beginning to end. It's got a bit of a powdery, dandified feel to it, but Cuba Orange is a happy, uplifting scent that warms the soul and makes you feel good. I can't think of higher praise than that.

MY RATING: 8.5/10
Fragrance House: Cuba Paris

Monday, March 4, 2013

Tobacco 1800


Like most so-called tobacco fragrances, this one does not smell like tobacco.   It's not even close.   However, that's not to say it isn't any good. In fact, this is a great scent.

From beginning to end, Tobacco 1800 smells almost exactly like the drydown of Kouros.   I would even go so far as to call this a Kouros knockoff, only a lot lighter than it.   The unmistakable accord of musk, honey, civet, incense, moss and patchouli that you get in the tail end of Kouros is exactly what Tobacco 1800 delivers, and it delivers it admirably, as the scent stays rock solid and never goes to mush. I  only expect Kouros fans to want to try this scent, so there's no need for me to reiterate how awesome the Kouros drydown smells.

Granted, Kouros is a superpowerful fragrance, and when I wear it, I want the whole neighborhood to smell it.  Even though Tobacco 1800 lacks the strength of Kouros, I do have a use for this cologne.   Because it doesn't have brutal sillage, it's perfect to splash on after a shower or bath at night, when I'm just relaxing at home, ready to go to bed.   Sometimes I want to smell Kouros at night but don't want to wear something so powerful at the end of the day; I don't want to taste my cologne when I wake up in the morning.  Tobacco 1800 is perfect for those times.

For a "cologne water", this has surprising strength.  Though it doesn't have powerhouse projection, it's not quite what I'd call a skin scent either. Staying power is also good for a cologne water, lasting about five hours on my skin, perfect for wearing at the end of a long day. Great fragrance here.

MY RATING: 8.5/10
Fragrance House: Crusellas

Bijan Men




With all the powerhouse fragrances I've owned, worn or sampled, I still find Bijan Men to be one of the most ferocious.   It was the first fragrance I ever bought for myself, back in 1993, and I've gone through a period of liking it, then hating it, and now liking it again.   This is a scent you can't be indifferent to, because it's so powerful.   I'm amazed when I hear people say that the current version of Bijan Men, which is made by Five Star Fragrances, smells watered down compared to the original version by Bijan.   Granted, I'm going on my memory of that first bottle I had twenty years ago (it was the original version), but the current juice smells to me just as searing and brash as it was back in the day.   The scent also is the same as I remember it.

The opening and middle stages are violently strong.   This is an extremely spicy fragrance, almost to the point of absurdity.  If you've never tried this, you are either going to love it or think it's the most obnoxious stench you've ever encountered.   I used to think it smelled like hairspray and gasoline.   Now that I like it again, I recognize it for what it really is: a head-on assault of clove, nutmeg and carnation. The stinging middle notes are so assertive, they completely overpower the base notes for the first few hours; it took me numerous wearings to even realize that Bijan Men is an oriental fragrance - the aromatic notes are so strong they almost steamroll the sweet benzoin and amber in it.   There's also, of course, a ton of leather, moss and patchouli in there, so this frag has plenty of macho power.

A lot of reviewers (that is, those who like this scent) describe Bijan Men as being a sophisticated, debonaire fragrance for a classy, mature gentleman.   I don't really get that.   I find it brutal and crude, and it stays that way for hours and hours, even well into the drydown.

However, that crudeness is what I find most appealing about Bijan Men.   It takes balls for a company to even still produce this, never mind for someone to wear it.   I love it for its audacity and aromatic strength.   It may not be my favorite power scent, but it's a damn good one.

You may love it or you may hate it, but you definitely won't find it lacking in masculinity.


MY RATING: 8/10
Fragrance House: Bijan, Five Star Fragrances

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Clive Christian V For Men




I've read other reviews of Clive Christian V For Men, and I don't find it to be as chock full of ingredients and notes as others do. What I do smell here is an excellent incense fragrance, plain and simple. It smells like high-grade frankincense, like what you would smell in a cathedral during a funeral.

I love the smell of this kind of incense, and CCV has everything I look for in an incense fragrance - it's dry, complex, smoky, peppery, spicy and exotic. It's a smell I prefer to smell in the air, rather than wearing, but it's a great smell any way you cut it. I just don't detect a lot of development in CCV that others do, so there's no real unfolding of the scent. It smells exactly the same to me from the second I spray it on until the very end. That's perfectly fine with me, because I find good quality incense to be inherently multifaceted, so linearity with this kind of perfume is a virtue for me. Unlike Tabaco Latino, CCV doesn't get tiresome to wear.

On the other hand, I can't see myself ever buying this at its crazy price of $310 for a 50 ml. bottle. That's because you can buy an equally good frankincense fragrance, Avignon by Comme des Garcons, for about a third of that price. To me the two perfumes are almost identical, so there's no reason I'd go for the Clive Christian.

MY RATING: 8.5/10
Fragrance House: Clive Christian

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Tabaco Latino

This is going to be a brief review because this fragrance is straightforward and simple.  It's tobacco, and that's it.

The simplicity of Tabaco Latino is both good and bad.  The good thing is that tobacco fragrances smell really good, and there's no question that's all this is.  It's neither a dark bitter tobacco note (like in Quorum) nor a heavy sweet pipe tobacco accord.  We're talking about a semi-sweet, dry, woody tobacco accord, like what you smell in The Dreamer (Versace), Dolce & Gabbana Pour Homme or the base of Bogart Pour Homme.  I think I've described it before as the smell of unsmoked cigarettes.  It's not my favorite type of tobacco accord, but I do like it.  I personally prefer the bitter cigar tobacco note you get in Quorum, but so be it.

And that's all you get.  Other than a teeny burst of citrus in the very beginning, all you smell from beginning to end is the same tobacco scent, with no development whatsoever.  It's a well made fragrance that smells quite good, but smelling exactly the same thing for 15 hours (yes, longevity is that good) can wear you out.

Despite its tiresome linearity, I do like Tabaco Latino and recommend it to fans of tobacco fragrances.

MY RATING:  7.5/10

Fragrance House:  Monotheme, Mavive

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Very Valentino Pour Homme



Very Valentino is described as a woody oriental with a strong tobacco note.   Sounds promising, but I don't get anything even remotely like that at all.   I smell a generic, highly chemical smelling metallic sport fragrance.   It's bad.

All I can think of is metal silverware sloshing around in cold, soapy water when I smell this.   I smell a silvery, screaming synthetic violet leaf note (not listed, so it's probably the so-called tobacco note) on top of a flat, bland, light tonka bean and white musk base that does nothing to temper the olfactory white noise.   It comes off as both soapy and metallic, and just awful.   What is described as woodiness smells like rubbing alcohol to me.   I used to be a smoker, and I've never come across any tobacco that smells like this.

Fans of crap like DKNY Men might enjoy Very Valentino, as the two are similar and truly vile.   It makes Stallion seem like a work of art.  When my wife smelled it on me, she made me promise never to wear it again.   That will be an easy promise to keep.

MY RATING:  1/10

Fragrance House: Valentino


Monday, February 25, 2013

Stallion


This is an example of a fragrance that had potential, but manages to screw everything up in execution.   This stuff is pretty bad.

I say Stallion has potential because it has a stong, macho smell that I like at first sniff.   It's got this weird, dark woody note that smells like cork board, and I really like it.   When you first spray this on, you'll think, "Oh yeah, this is a powerhouse!".   That cork board note makes it smell like a cologne from the Seventies.   Cork board was a popular material used for making bulletin boards back in the 70's, so it's a smell I know well.  These are the things I like about Stalli0n.

The problem, however, is that it's all buried under a shrill, metallic chemical smell, reminiscent of bleach.   Memories of the unforgivably awful Wings For Men come to mind.   The entire fragrance smells heavily synthetic.

After about an hour, the chemical smell does mellow out a bit, and the dark woody/cork note becomes a little more prominent.   The problem, however, is that by hour number two, the scent has completely disappeared from my skin. What the hell?

So to sum it all up, Stallion is a synthetic smelling cologne that has big powerhouse balls for about an hour, and then completely runs out of gas.   If it had much better longevity, I'd probably be able to enjoy this more, since it does smell less synthetic over time.   However, as it stands, Stallion is pretty much a loser fragrance.

MY RATING: 4/10
Fragrance House: Larry Mahan

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Other Fifteen: My Top 25

Putting this article together has been a big task, and one I've been procrastinating on for about a year, but the time has finally come for me to bite the bullet and just get the job done. Several months ago I wrote an article about my Top Ten favorite fragrances, and in it I made note of the fact that I have a Top 25 list as well. This article deals with the other fifteen.

You may wonder why I have a list of 25, and not 20, 50 or some other number. I've always figured that some day I'm probably going to be forced to pare down my collection (which is currently at about 400 bottles) significantly. If that ever happens, I think knocking it down to 25 fragrances is a reasonable number. This was my mindset when I compiled this list a few years ago: I adore these 25 scents so much that I feel could be satisfied if I were only allowed to wear these 25 fragrances, and no other, for the rest of my life.

Like my Top Ten list, this list has remained pretty static during the past several years. There have been a few scents that I've removed over the years - Equipage, Agua Lavanda, Jean-Louis Scherrer, Guerlain Vetiver and Monsieur Givenchy - but I did so simply because I don't wear them much anymore, not because I love them less. Other than that, it's been a consistent list. All of the fragrances on the list are ones I've been wearing for years, and all of them are fragrances that I'm so comfortable wearing, I feel like they're part of me when I do.

Enough talking now, so here they are, in no particular order:


 
Grey Flannel (Geoffrey Beene)

Though this list is not in any order of preference, Grey Flannel is the exception. I came so close to putting this in my Top Ten, it deserves to be #11. Plus I wear it more often than most of the other scents on this list.

I have good memories associated with this one. When my wife and I were first dating back in the early Nineties, she tried to get me into wearing cologne on a regular basis. Her first gift to me ever was a bottle of Eau Sauvage, but before that, she had me sample a bunch of fragrances, and Grey Flannel was one. I liked it because it actually smelled masculine, compared to the others she had me try, which were wimpy aquatic and sporty fragrances (she didn't like them either, but thought I should try out what was hip at the time). I remember saying to her that Grey Flannel smelled like money, and that it was the smell of a real man. As for the others, I remember asking her, "Are you sure these are for men?"

I still love Grey Flannel, and in fact I wear it more now than ever before. Like most on my favorites list, it's a fragrance I've been able to grow with. It's timeless.



Tabac Original Eau de Cologne (Maurer & Wirtz)
 

Even my six year-old daughter likes wearing this on occasion, so how can I not love it? Tabac Original may not smell like a tobacco leaf or a cigar, but it has a brown, hazy warmth that brings to mind smoking jackets, pipe tobacco, dinner clubs, leather chairs, and all things associated with smoking and being a mature man of the world.

Like Pino Silvestre, Tabac is another classic gem that sells for chump change, so there's no reason not to at least have a 50 ml. bottle in the wardrobe.
 

Moods (Krizia)
 

Moods Uomo was God's gift to the world in 1989. It came into this world at the twilight of the 80's Powerhouse Fragrance, a genre that would soon die a painful death at the hands of wimpy aquatic scents.

Moods represents Old School Power at its finest. Its velvety gold blend of rose, tobacco, patchouli and oakmoss has never been matched, and its beauty is from another world. However, don't let its silkiness mislead you into thinking this isn't a powerful scent. Moods has a lot of testicular swagger, which it gets from plenty of macho patchouli and oakmoss. It's just as suitable to wear with gold chains and an unbuttoned shirt as it is with a suit and tie.

I don't wear Moods all that often, but not because I don't love it. I'm selective about when I wear it because I never want to tire of it.

 
Lolita Lempicka Au Masculin (Lolita Lempicka)

 

Like A*Men, Lolita Lempicka Au Masculin represents an anomaly in my tastes. It's a gourmand oriental fragrance and it's sweet, which are two qualities I typically don't enjoy. It's also not particularly masculine smelling.

Lolita lights my fire because it creates a magically dreamy, purple haze of spicy scent all around me when I wear it. Its showcase note is anise, a love/hate smell that I happen to love, and it maintains that scent for hours and hours. Lolita is totally enchanting in every way, and no other fragrance gives me that same feeling.

I expect oriental fragrances to smell exotic, but few of them really do. Lolita Lempicka Au Masculine nails it perfectly.


Giorgio For Men (Giorgio Beverly Hills)

Now here is one of those fragrances that NO ONE will dispute is a real powerhouse. It was built to satisfy the true powerhead: loads of oakmoss and patchouli, uber-manly aroma, 24-hour longevity, and the sillage of a nuclear holocaust. Any more than four or five sprays, and Giorgio For Men truly will announce your presence about fifty feet before you walk into a room.

Giorgio For Men is a burly green oakmoss bomb smoothed out with honey and patchouli. It's silky and beautiful, with one of the best aromas in muscle frag history. The main reason I don't wear this every day is because I think I'd have perpetual olfactory fatigue after wearing this for a week.

 
Aramis (Aramis)

 
I've been wearing Aramis since the time I started getting interested in fragrances, so there's no way I can notinclude it in my Top 25. It's one of the first fragrances I ever bought for myself (Bijan Men was the first), and I've loved it ever since. I was 24 when I bought my first bottle, still studying to become a lawyer, and I remember thinking that buying and wearing Aramis was a sign that I was really becoming an adult. The fact that it didn't smell anything like the cutie pie sport fragrances that were trendy at the time certainly helped.

Aramis came out in the Sixties, yet it still smells unique today. Sure, there have been a ton of leathery chypres released over the years, but none of them smell quite like Aramis. It's complex too - at times it smells bitter, other times leathery, other times mossy, and other times aromatic - yet I can recognize it instantly.

I don't wear Aramis as much as I used to, but I know it will be back in my regular rotation again soon. It's so familiar and reassuring to me, sort of like comfort food, I don't think I can ever give this one up. Why else would I own three bottles of it now?

 
Givenchy Gentleman (Givenchy)
 

This has to be, without a doubt, the most patchouli-intensive mainstream fragrance for men ever made. A lot of guys have a hang-up about patchouli, mainly due to its association with hippies and potheads, so it took real balls for Givenchy to release a so-called "gentleman's fragrance" to the general public containing this much patchouli. They could have easily named this "Givenchy Patchouli Pour Homme".

I am aware of two formulations of Givenchy Gentleman: the original 1974 formula and the reformulated version being sold currently. I own and wear both, and although I love them equally, there are differences. The original is a superstrong, crude powerhouse, with a particularly loud, skanky civet note in the base. The current reformulated Gentleman is more refined and smooth, with a little less civet, and just as much leather as patchouli. I think the new version is a slightly better fragrance because it's better blended, but the original version has a brashness that I love.

Either way, you're getting one of the best patchouli or leather fragrances for men ever made.


Jaipur Homme (Boucheron)
 

Jaipur Homme is my favorite oriental fragrance for men. In fact, I think it's the best men's oriental scent of all time, period. It's very powdery, which gives it an old classic feel, but it's also got a strong, exotic spiciness that puts it firmly into the oriental category. Think Habit Rouge blended with Jacomo de Jacomo, and you've got an idea of what this is like.

Much debate is made about which version is better, the eau de toilette or the eau de parfum. I own bottles of both, and I think the difference is negligible. I give a slight edge to the EDP because it's a tad more complex and rich, but the EDT is no slouch at all. They both last a long time, project strongly, and deliver the same unforgettable Jaipur experience.

 
Polo (Ralph Lauren)
 

I've described Azzaro Pour Homme, Moods and Pino Silvestre as being, for me, perfect fragrances. Polo is another perfect fragrance.

Provided you don't bathe in it, Polo is suitable for any occasion, any time of year. Wear it with jeans and a T-shirt, and it comes off as a great casual scent. Wear it with a suit and tie, and it will give you an air of authority. Wear it with a tux, and you'll look and smell like a million bucks. Like Aramis, it's a complex scent, smelling green, dry, sweet, aromatic, grassy, coniferous and mossy at different times of the day. No matter what facet I detect and when, Polo always smells great. I consider it to be one of the greatest men's fragrances of all time.

Though it's a powerhouse, Polo is one of the few I don't like to wear loudly. It only smells right when you put it on in small to moderate doses. Too much, and it smells cheap and obnoxious. With just the right amount, it smells regal.

 
Agua Lavanda (Antonio Puig)
 

Agua Lavanda is my favorite lavender fragrance. It's so honest and pure - nothing hides the rawness of the lavender here. The lavender smells crisp and dry, just the way I love it. The careful addition of oakmoss gives a green tint to the lavender and adds to its earthiness. A touch of tonka bean in the base notes technically make Agua Lavanda a fougere, but the lavender is always the showcase.

Staying power and sillage are of course weak, which is typical of lavenders, but this is Nature in a bottle. I wear this almost every day in the summer.

 
Bel Ami (Hermes)

 
Writing this article made me realize that I rarely talk about this fragrance, which is strange, since it's been one of my favorites for years. Bel Ami used to be a big fat leathery powerhouse when it came out in 1986, and was reformulated a few years ago. It's not quite a powerhouse anymore, and it's a bit less leathery than it used to be, but it's still great. It still comes off as a classic French take on the 80's powerhouse genre, though, and that's what I love about it.

Bel Ami is still an extremely masculine scent, very European in style. I love how it piles on heavy aromatic notes like cinnamon, patchouli, anise, basil and sage on top of leather. It balances out perfectly, and it smells warmer and richer the longer you wear it.

This is one of those fragrances where you get awesome warm whiffs rising up from under your shirt throughout the day. It's like aromatherapy for me.

 
Lagerfeld Classic
(Karl Lagerfeld)
 

This is my latest addition to the list. I've had a bottle for about 13 years, but I haven't gotten to truly love this until the past year or so. It's very powdery and old school, so I needed a few gray hairs on my head before I could really appreciate and feel comfortable wearing it.

Though I love every stage of Lagerfeld, the drydown is what makes it one of my favorite fragrances. It's dark, spicy and musky, and it has a tart skankiness in the base that I often associate with classic French chypres, not orientals like Lagerfeld.

I find myself wearing this more than I ever expected when I first tried it thirteen years ago, and I see myself wearing it for many years to come.

 
Lapidus Pour Homme (Ted Lapidus)
 

Do I really need to say anything more about this that I haven't already said? You all know by now that Lapidus Pour Homme is one of the strongest, most brutal powerhouse fragrances ever made. Quiche eaters and wimps run for cover when you walk in wearing this macho scent.

Lapidus isn't great simply because it's strong. It also smells great (see my review for details). I love this juice.



Pino Silvestre (Mavive)
 

I love pine scents and I love dry green herbal scents, and Pino fits into both categories perfectly. It's a classic herbal fougere with a breezy green scent that smells like a summer wind blowing through a forest. I can't not love Pino *Silvestre.

If you love evergreen and herbal fragrances but haven't yet tried Pino, what the hell are you waiting for?

 
Knize Ten (Knize)
 
I'm sorry to be loading this article up with superlatives, but these perfumes are in my Top 25 for a reason. I love leather fragrances, and Knize Ten is easily the best leather fragrance I've ever smelled, and I've smelled a lot of them.

It smells like the tan-colored leather interior of a luxury car, like a Bentley or a Rolls. It's the perfect culmination of spicy and leathery, ever evolving as you wear it, always getting better the longer you have it on, yet never losing its leathery scent. Its longevity and sillage are shocking in their strength, yet this isn't really a powerhouse fragrance. This is a gentleman's scent (as the label on the bottle states), not a testosterone supplement.

Knize Ten's price tag may seem steep at first ($110 U.S. for 120 ml.), but when you consider how strong and how good it is, it's actually quite a bargain.

******
So there you have it, my Top 25. This is always a difficult list to compile, since there are so many fragrances that could feasibly make the list. If you're interested, here's a list of runners up of some that almost made it, all of which used to be on the list:

Equipage
Monsieur de Givenchy
Scherrer
Acqua di Selva
Worth Pour Homme
Krizia Uomo
Guerlain Vetiver

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pasha de Cartier


I've been wanting to review Pasha for a while now, but I've held off because it's been hard for me to describe what it smells like.   I now own a bottle and have worn it enough times that I think I can finally pull off a review, so here it goes.

Are you familiar with the style that I've often referred to as the "Classic British School" of masculine perfumes?   If not, what I mean is a style of fragrance that gives off a very formal, gentlemanly, serious, dressed up aura.   It cuts across all categories of perfume - fougere, chypre, oriental, floral, etc. - and it's a quality that I find most often in fragrances made by English brands.   Scents like Woods of Windsor Gentleman, Sartoriale (Penhaligon's), Grafton (Truefitt & Hill), Trafalgar (Truefitt & Hill), Bois du Portugal (Creed) and Dunhill For Men 1934 all have it.   They smell prim and proper and refined, and are the kinds of fragrances that would be right at home at a black tie function.   It's a style I've come to enjoy over the years.

Pasha, released in 1992, is an aromatic fougere in the early 90's woody spicy style, but with the cleaned up, formal feel of a classic British gentleman's cologne.   Imagine New West For Him or Escape For Men with a completely dead serious mien. All of the sharp woody and herbal notes in Pasha (and there are a lot of them) are sandpapered down to a smooth finish, so as not to shock anyone.   Every note and facet is carefully and perfectly balanced with one another.

Do not think for a second, however, that Pasha is a boring, superfluous "office scent".   Pasha most certainly makes a statement, especially these days.   If you live in the U.S., you will likely not run into another guy wearing Pasha.   It is a totally masculine scent in every way (it is an aromatic fougere, after all), to the point where a lot of guys will consider it an "old man's" fragrance.   Though it's not a powerhouse, it is quite strong, projecting with so much more authority than flaccid stuff like Ed Hardy or Aqua di Gio.   Longevity is also amazingly good - Pasha has a scent that will not go away unless you scrub it off with soap and water at least twelve hours after applying it.

You also shouldn't write off Pasha as being overly stiff or rigid either.   What sets it apart from the old guard fragrances I listed above is its heavy use of caraway.   I love caraway in fragrances, because it provides a rough, dirty, raunchy edge to any fragrance that contains it.   In a way, it's like a low cost substitute for expensive or banned animalic oils like natural musk, civet or castoreum.   The caraway in Pasha provides a hot blooded shot in the arm that, without it, would make Pasha smell a bit too stiff.   In this respect, Pasha shares a lot of similarities with its older brother, Santos de Cartier.

Pasha de Cartier is a superb fragrance.   I should note that once upon a time I couldn't stand this scent.   It felt way too formal and rigid for me to wear.   That was about seven years ago, however, and since then my tastes have expanded and I've had the chance to give Pasha a few full day wearings.   What a difference.   I'm glad I gave Pasha its day in court, because it's a great fragrance that I intend on replenishing when I run out.

MY RATING: 8.5/10
Fragrance House: Cartier