Niche Fragrance Magazine


NeoXerxes - page 2

NeoXerxes has 60 articles published.

Xerjoff’s Oroville: Mediocre, Floral Tobacco

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What I’ve managed to try from Xerjoff’s Shooting Star collection has been mostly excellent. From the refreshing Nio to the charismatic Uden, each of the fragrances from the line have one thing in common: quality ingredients. At the first sniff it is quite obvious, and this trait is also present in many of the other offerings from the house. But… as any decent cook will know, while quality ingredients are important, they aren’t everything. Xerjoff’s Oroville is a great example of a fragrance that fulfills the promise of quality ingredients, then falls short in execution. KEEP ON READING

Arabian Nights: Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Oud

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The evocative power of fragrance is known to everyone who reads this blog. Upon the first whiff, one will think (fondly or otherwise) of a friend, a place, a moment in time, a favored sweater, or even a song. But Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Oud is one of the only fragrances that has made me immediately think of a book. That book is the classic (love it or hate it) 1001 Arabian Nights.

Does Kurkdjian’s fragrance have oud? Yes. Saffron and exotic spice? Of course, even that. Read a description of this fragrance and you will find ingredients that might combine to produce something typical. But lest we get carried away and assume the authenticity of Kurkdjian’s interpretation of oud, we should remember that Kurkdjian embraces a distinctly European style of perfumery: Quality musks, buoyant new synthetics, and a certain wearable freshness are hallmarks of Kurkdjian’s style, blended to perfection as only a master perfumer could achieve. Kurkdjian’s Oud is not a traditional oud. This is not even something like, say, Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle’s attempt at authentic oud with a European medium, as its fragrance “The Night” managed to achieve. Nope. This is something new, yet old. European, but also distinctly Arabian. KEEP ON READING

Shaving Cream in a Barbershop: MDCI’s Le Barbier de Tanger

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From the respected brand MDCI comes the magnificent Le Barbier de Tanger, a scent that promises a relaxing journey into the barbershops of Morocco. MDCI is known for artful blends done with high quality ingredients. Le Barbier de Tanger fits the bill and earns a thumbs up from this reviewer.

To even begin to describe this fragrance, I have to mention a few others: Chanel’s Platinum Egoiste, MDCI’s Invasion Barbare, Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Masculin Pluriel, Creed’s Green Irish Tweed, and Penhaligon’s Sartorial. Le Barbier de Tanger channels all of these fragrances to some extent, but only smells a bit like one of them. Perhaps the closest comparison is Chanel’s Platinum Egoiste, which has the same powdery-barbershop texture and overall vibe of this fragrance, but Le Barbier de Tanger is higher quality and more natural-smelling. KEEP ON READING

Sparkling Citrus: Dior Homme Cologne

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Nowadays, designer fragrances are a dime a dozen. If they aren’t monotone monotonous monstrosities of one form or another, they are inevitably sweet enough to cause cavities. It is a rare thing that I find to be a designer fragrance to be worthy of purchase, but when I do, I make sure to scream about it from the nearest mountaintop. So dear readers, please envision me screaming from the top of my local hill: The latest edition of Dior Homme Cologne is fantastic! And it smells niche quality, if you know what I mean. KEEP ON READING

Acqua di Parma’s Colonia Essenza: Modern Italian Elegance, Bottled

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By now it should be clear that I enjoy Acqua di Parma fragrances. The original fragrance, Colonia, is one of my favorite fragrances of all time, and I have taken the time review other fragrances ranging from the Blu Mediterraneo line to the first fragrance of the new Note di Colonia collection. Today I return to a staple, Colonia Essenza, which was created to be a modern interpretation of the original Colonia fragrance. In so doing I will make numerous references to Colonia (review here) in order to draw useful comparisons that might help with purchasing decisions. KEEP ON READING

Sample Impressions: Al Kimiya’s Hayat

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Tom Ford’s Oud Wood, Acqua di Parma’s Colonia Oud, Creed’s Royal Oud—each of these are great examples of fragrances that seek to make oud pleasing to the masses, with very little (if any) oud. Standing in stark contrast to those tame beauties, Al Kimiya’s Hayat is an example of what can be crafted when a talented perfumer attempts to make an actual oud palatable.

Upon first spray, it is clear that Hayat is a different animal entirely. From the outset, I can smell the quality oud clearly and without obstruction. The oud note here smells similar to the one used heavily in the fragrance “Ilm”, also from Al Kimiya. The best I could describe it, which may sound a bit odd, is the smell of a piece of fragrant bleu cheese sitting on a wet, mossy log. For the uninitiated, it will smell strange, perhaps a bit weird, but never unpleasant or disturbing as the oud is always accompanied by other elements. To make it less conspicuous and enveloping (you’ll have to try Ilm for a pure oud in all its alien glory), Hayat buries the lovely oud in mounds of cedar, spices (cardamom, cinnamon, and saffron), patchouli, and cypriot, all rounded out with a traditional dash of lavender. KEEP ON READING

Sample Impressions: Clive Christian’s Rock Rose

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For me, the Clive Christian brand is a mark of quality. Given my experience with Clive Christian fragrances, including and especially the regal 1872 Men, I was excited to receive a sample of the new Rock Rose scent.

The opening of Rock Rose is distinctly citric, with a bergamot that nearly comes across as astringent as lime. Combined with the other top notes of neroli and black pepper, the scent conjures images of classical British men’s colognes. But before this brings to mind typical neroli/citrus fragrances, the peppery notes intensify and blend with a powerfully herbal clary sage, which reminds me of the way the note is portrayed in 1872 Men. Rock Rose is a distinctive fragrance (the overall blend doesn’t remind me of any other fragrance on the market), and from the opening it is clear that Clive Christian spared no expense. KEEP ON READING

Sample Impressions: Acqua di Parma’s Note di Colonia I

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Acqua di Parma’s Note di Colonia line is the closest Acqua di Parma has gotten to creating a private collection. Significantly more expensive than any of the previous collections, Note di Colonia fragrances come in 150 ml bottles that retail for over 300 euro each. Unfortunately, many will find this too high a price to pay for a cologne-style fragrance, particularly from a brand like Acqua di Parma that is known for its fresh, simple, and clean fragrances.

But they’re wrong to dismiss it on price alone. Having tried two out of the three fragrances in the Note di Colonia collection, I find that they easily compete with other high end fragrances in a similar price bracket. The quality is excellent and the compositions are masterfully composed and blended. If you don’t believe me, buy samples—I’d suggest starting with Note di Colonia I. KEEP ON READING

Sample Impressions: Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Baccarat Rouge

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This is a scent that may give you whiplash. Love it or hate it; you will notice it.

I first encountered Francis Kurkdjian’s Baccarat Rouge while in a mall. At some point while walking past the stores, I caught a whiff of an elegant and sweet fragrance. Whipping around, I quickly scanned the area to see who was wearing the lovely perfume… I looked carefully, but no one was there. As with every children’s cartoon, at that point when the myopic villain gets smashed by the anvil dropped from above, I figured that I should look up. So look up I did. Above me, emblazoned with lights, were the words: “Baccarat“. KEEP ON READING

Head to Head: Xerjoff Mefisto vs. Creed Silver Mountain Water

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Today I’d like to do something a little different. I recently had the pleasure of trying Xerjoff’s Mefisto. As can easily be discovered through endless reviews on Fragrantica and Basenotes, it’s clear that some folks find Mefisto to be very similar (a clone even!) to Creed’s Silver Mountain Water. When testing it, I can certainly see the resemblance. But how exactly are these two fragrances similar? And are they different enough? Read on to find out!

Yes it is true: on a superficial level, Xerjoff’s Mefisto does resemble Creed’s Silver Mountain Water. They both open up with an aldehydic/citric blast mixed with a musky note. When smelled side by side, they are certainly different scents, though they do give off the same vibe. But where Silver Mountain Water opens with bergamot and a sweet berry note, Mefisto’s citruses are more Xerjoff (if you know what i mean). One can clearly smell the Italian influence in Mefisto, as the bergamot is blended with an even more prominent lemon and grapefruit. KEEP ON READING

Al Kimiya’s Aurum: Glitter and Gold

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The Al Kimiya (Kemi Blending Magic) line is another magnificent collection from Sergio Momo, the genius behind such titanic collections as Xerjoff, Casamoratti, and Sospiro. The first two I’ve experienced from the line (Aurum and Aqua Regia) are both gorgeous, and truly manage to capture the collection’s theme. With these beautiful compositions, the perfumers have captured the essence of “alchemy”, the mystical art of transforming the simple into the extraordinary.

The opening of Aurum is a blast of strawberry and tart citrus. Both of these elements remain for almost the entire duration of the fragrance and are tempered only by a crystal clear jammy rose and sweet heliotrope. Incense is present in the notes, but is not a major player on my skin. The composition rests on a green, oily base of patchouli and dark chocolate, all drizzled with the “warm skin” effect that is brought by labdanum. Unlike many fragrances of this style, the ingredients smell worthy of the price. KEEP ON READING

Sample Impressions: Amouage Journey Man

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I’m not a big fan of spicy fragrances. Other than a few notable exceptions, modern entries into the genre tend to descend into this beastly and unmistakably cheap woody amber base. Often worse, those that don’t deploy amber with a heavy hand tend to distinguish themselves (or not) with an equally generic tonka bean that overloads the senses in the late dry down. The scents I’m describing all smell the same: boring and tedious. No need to name names. You know what sorts of fragrances I’m referencing. KEEP ON READING

Sample Impressions: MDCI’s Invasion Barbare

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MDCI Invasion Barbare:

Off we stroll into another sample impression post. As usual with this series, the fragrance we are examining is rather controversial. MDCI Invasion Barbare is one of those fragrances that—depending on who you ask—is either an unreserved masterpiece or an outdated, uninteresting flop. Instead of declaring my allegiance to one of these two camps, I’ll take a different approach and will give you my take on why both sides are correct in their estimation of this fragrance. KEEP ON READING

Sample Impressions: Fougere Royale

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Disclaimer: I have not smelled the original Fougere Royale (1882) – these are my impressions of the updated Fougere Royale (2010), which has been completely altered and brought into line with IFRA regulations.

Houbigant – Fougere Royale (2010):

Lately I’ve been in the mood for a nice, properly masculine and old-fashioned fougere. The latest fougere I tried—Chanel Boy—was a disappointment for me. Fougere Royale was not.

I am told that the remake smells nothing like the original. Whether or not this is true, the new Fougere Royale succeeds at emulating a classical style. The two associated perfumers are geniuses, to put it mildly. Rodrigo Flores-Roux is the listed perfumer, and he worked with the magnificent Roja Dove in order to do the original justice with a proper update. The result is a classical aromatic fougere with tea-like herbaceous elements and spiced geranium. KEEP ON READING

Neroli Portofino Acqua: Insulting, Cheap, Weak

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It is no secret that Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino is one of my all time favorite fragrances. When the Tom Ford brand announced the release of two flankers—Neroli Portofino Acqua and Neroli Portofino Forte—I was excited to obtain a few samples and to test them out properly. The first of the two samples I tried was Neroli Portofino Acqua. Here are my impressions:

Reminiscent of a classic eau de cologne, the original Neroli Portofino is a masterpiece. My local climate is extremely hot, and partly for this reason my large bottle of Neroli Portofino gets a lot of love. The fragrance blooms beautifully in the heat, offering up waves of citrus and neroli, all perched on a warm yet unmistakably soapy amber base. Though simple in construction, Neroli Portofino is deceptively complex, as the conservatively clean elements in the dry down are contrasted by a playful and happy floral heart. Despite reports of fleeting longevity and weak projection, I find that Neroli Portofino is also deceptively strong, as it has the Janus-faced tendency to draw closer to the skin in moderate temperatures, but to explode outwards with any hint of sunlight or sweat. KEEP ON READING

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