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Atelier Cologne’s Gold Leather: Fruity Goodness

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You are slumped on a Chesterfield sofa, cradling a tumbler of Bacardi in your hands.  You have just binged your way through a whole packet of Jaffa Cakes. Life is good. How do you smell?  Even better!  Atelier Cologne’s Gold Leather summons up exactly this image, with some plum and woods thrown into the mix.

Christophe Cervasel and Sylvie Ganter, creators and founders of Atelier Cologne, met in New York in 2006 and realized that they shared a passion for classic Eau de Cologne. Together, they created the first fragrance house entirely dedicated to cologne—colognes so special that they are meant to be worn as pure perfumes. Since then, they have become darlings of the niche world, creating high quality, well-blended fragrances each centered around a core note (vetiver, vanilla, neroli, etc.). KEEP ON READING

Sample Impressions: Floris 1962

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A sucker. Yep. That’s me. A sucker for the hype train… One way ticket on the Hype Train Express. Hype central.

When folks on a certain fragrance forum began discussing Floris 1962, praising it as the second coming of vintage greats, I had to get myself a sample. And upon obtaining one—luckily for me (and perhaps for you, dear reader)—I found that (for once) the hype was indeed justified.

Floris is a house that can be hit and miss for many people. Classic in style but true to their roots, many of their fragrances have a distinctly British and conspicuously patrician soapiness to them. Despite exploring many of their offerings for a number of months, I found only one Floris fragrance—the limited edition Victorious—that I simply had to add to my collection. Well… That number will very likely become two. 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

Vento nel Vento by Bois 1920: A Rich and Satisfying Treat

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Vento ne Vento by Bois 1920 is one of the most satisfying fragrances I’ve worn in a while. Like Dior’s Mitzah, Tom Ford’s Amber Absolute, the recent Contre Bombarde 32, and Bois 1920’s own Real Patchouly, Vento nel Vento blurs the lines between amber, incense, spices, and woods, making it rather difficult to pin down. Which is exactly what I like about it.

Listen, this is not ground-breaking stuff. But it is a good kitchen-sink of a thing that’s absolutely perfect for when you feel like wearing something oriental-ish without condemning yourself to a full day of enough straight-up amber to put you in a sugar coma or, worse, a monastic incense that feels like a hair shirt by dinnertime. This gives you everything rolled into one – amber, resin, smoke, spice, sugar, patchouli – boom! And you’re done. KEEP ON READING

Absolue d’Osmanthe Eau de Parfum — Perris Monte Carlo

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The Osmanthus, or Osmanthus fragrans, is a flower famously associated with the Chinese provinces of Guizhou, Sichuan and Yunnan as well as Taiwan and Southern Japan.  In fact, it is the city flower of Guilin, the beautiful city by the Li River, whose name actually means “Forest of Sweet Osmanthus.”   Osmanthus is famed for its fragrant flowers which have a strong, sweet fruity scent often associated with smell of peaches or apricots.

With its strong ties to the lore of the Orient, the Osmanthus fragrance note is often paired with tea notes like Oolong (Providence Perfume Company’s Osmanthus Oolong) or Yunnan (Elléna’s Osmanthe Yunnan for Hermès).  However, given its Far East associations, Osmanthus is used in a surprisingly large number of perfumes (Basenotes lists over 400 perfumes containing the note) across a wide spectrum—it is even successfully paired with oud (Tom Ford’s Oud Fleur, Mona di Orio’s Oudh Osmanthus and Xerjoff’s Oud Stars), which, given the current craze for oud fragrances, comes as no surprise.  Given its distinctive nature, it adapts well to the soliflore category, like a The Different Company’s Osmanthus and Absolue d’Osmanthe. 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

Bois 1920 Vento nel Vento: The three-dimensional amber

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I’ve found that a lot of traditional ambers make me nauseous, for example, TFPB Amber Absolute, and Profumi del Forte Ambra Mediterranea, are too potent for me. So, it’s great to have come around to something that wears like a veil of silk and not fifty-layers of flame retardant Kevlar.

Vento nel Vento starts off with all the nauseating components I typically don’t like, less the nuclear size potency. The start of Vento is dominated by patchouli, heaps of resins; frankincense, benzoin, and labdanum. The patchouli comes off chocolate-y, with a slight gourmand tinge of raw cocoa powder. KEEP ON READING

Everything is Orange: The Best Orange Fragrances for Men

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Orange and its derivatives are some of the most popular notes in all of perfumery. Depending on how they are presented and what portions of the tree are used (orange, orange blossom, neroli, and petitgrain are all derivatives of the orange tree), orange-based fragrances often come across as uplifting and clean. After testing a large portion of the niche market, here are some of my picks of the best orange-based fragrances for men:

Tom Ford Neroli Portofino: Neroli Portofino is on many of my top lists for a good reason. This is the epitome of the fresh neroli fragrances and is a classic cologne that actually lasts, especially in the heat of the summer. Mixing soapy oceanic accords with neroli, Neroli Portofino straddles the gap between a classical cologne and modern aquatic. Two flankers – Acqua and Forte – were recently released, and while the Acqua is totally forgettable and fleeting, the Forte would be nice for folks who would prefer a less soapy version of the original with added leather. KEEP ON READING

Acqua di Parma’s Fico di Amalfi: Figs on an Ocean Breeze

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Like the rest of the Blu Mediteranneo line, Acqua di Parma’s Fico di Amalfi is an atmospheric fragrance. Quite different than the dry, woody fig of Diptyque’s Philosykos, or the tropical blend of D.S. & Durga’s Debaser, Fico di Amalfi is a wet, juicy fig combined with oceanic and airy notes.

Opening with citruses, namely mandarin and grapefruit, the fragrance maintains Acqua di Parma’s citrus-heavy DNA. Immediately after the spray, within only a few seconds, the citruses recede to the background and one is hit with the smell of a juicy (and I mean juicy!) fig accord. The watery fig note is unmistakable, though it is unique in that it doesn’t share many similarities with the dry figs used in Philosykos or Debaser. Behind the nectarous fig one can detect the citruses, a small hint of crunch green leaves (perhaps from the fig tree), and a powerful oceanic note that is enhanced in complexity by the addition of a soapy benzoin (much like one might find in Prada’s Amber Pour Homme). Fico di Amalfi is certainly a fresh fragrance, and it is exceptionally unique for a fig scent, however it takes inspiration from a number of bestsellers, including the aforementioned fig fragrances, and combines them with soapy elements from successful masculines and a “fresh marine breeze” note that reminds me of the airy lift that one might find in Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino. KEEP ON READING

Men’s Grooming Part 1: Fragrances for Traditional Wet Shavers

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Why should there be a special post on fragrances for traditional wet shavers? Well, as those who embrace this traditional practice have learned, the process of wet shaving is not merely a daily task, but rather is a meditative ritual that can provide delight and even intellectual stimulation. Everything from scent to sound becomes more acute as the razor is brought to the face, perhaps because the brain instinctively understands that this a practice that requires special attention and care. In my own experience, shaving in the early morning will awaken the mind and revitalize the senses far more effectively than an espresso. Because of the alertness and sense of accomplishment that comes from achieving a flawless shave, certain fragrances will provide a particularly enjoyable conclusion to the shaving ritual. I shave in the morning and I am a traditionalist when it comes to pairing my fragrances with wet shaving, so I prefer fresh, barbershop, and conservative scents that are able to extend this sense of alertness and accomplishment well into the afternoon. KEEP ON READING

Amouage Epic Woman: Made to Make Your Mouth Water

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Science & Technology
Chinese Black Dragon – Images

Anybody here remember Opal Fruits? The tagline was: “Made to make your mouth water” – and sure enough whenever an ad for those tangy, sherbet-y little suckers came on TV, my mouth would begin pumping out saliva. Like Pavlov’s dog.

Well, I just have to glance at my dark green bottle of Amouage Epic Woman for my mouth to start to water. Like pickles, umeboshi (Japanese salted plums) and sourpatch gummies, there is an almost physical pleasure to be had in their wincingly tart flavor. It is a credit to Amouage that Epic Woman contains so many piquant green notes and still manages to be so inviting. It smells like something pickled in brine! And yet sweet! KEEP ON READING

Exploring Frederic Malle Samples (Part 2 – Unisex)

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In my previous post, we explored some of the masculine offerings from the wonderful house of Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle. Today we will be exploring a few of the house’s most interesting unisex fragrances. I have sampled each of these extensively and will attempt to provide balanced commentary. These are my impressions:

Cologne Indelebile (Dominique Ropion):

How it smells: Cologne Indelebile is an eau de cologne that actually lasts. Instead of the traditionally fleeting and citrus heavy spritzers that define the genre, Ropion’s creation pairs an intensely floral orange blossom (cut with narcissus) with a blend of musks. Here the musks have significantly more depth than the somewhat flat white musks used in other colognes – it feels like a combination of laundry-clean white musks, something steamy and ozonic (think of the steam note in Penhaligon’s Sartorial), and the tiniest drop of a musk with mild animalic facets. Bright (but fleeting) citrus top cut with mint and a dash of narcissus, floral mid, and musky base. KEEP ON READING

Exploring Frederic Malle Samples (Part 1 – Masculines)

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Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle is a house that is very well-respected in the niche fragrance community. Its esteemed figurehead, Estee Lauder Frederic Malle, is considered to be a talented editor of perfumes. It shows. The compositions crafted for this house are artfully done, stripped of excess, and technically innovative. And true to the brand’s purpose in giving perfumers freedom to express their creativity, the elegant bottles feature prominently the names of the perfumers.

Two significant things that I noticed about the Frederic Malle line: first, the names of the fragrances almost always accurately reflect the smell contained in the bottle; second, one should approach these fragrances as one would a soliflore – most fragrances from the collection are designed to draw out different facets of a single dominant note (tuberose, bitter orange, vetiver, etc.). KEEP ON READING

Oud Satin Mood by Maison Francis Kurkdijan: A Middle Eastern Sweet

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White rose esti- / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Oud Satin Mood by Maison Francis Kurkdijan is a big, fat Middle Eastern sweet, the kind that is doused in rose syrup, thickened with salep, aromatized with mastic, sprinkled with rosewater and pistachios, and then, finally, dusted with a thick layer or five of powdered sugar so thick your teeth leaves indents in it.

Which means, of course, that I love it.

How could I not? I live in a country so thoroughly marked by a Turkish occupation in the late 1500s that every second word in the food vocabulary is Turkish. And since Turkish cuisine is influenced also by high Persian cuisine, we have quite a few Persian woods for food too. Lokum (Turkish delight), halva, tulumba (fried cakes doused in honey syrup), baklava, sutlias (rice pudding) and many, many others – well, you get the picture. KEEP ON READING

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