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A Patrician Personality: Czech & Speake’s Oxford & Cambridge

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Certain fragrances bring to mind an image of class, wealth, and sophistication. For me, these scents are simple, usually modeled after the eau de cologne, and impeccable in both quality and design. Some of my favorite examples are the great Acqua di Parma Colonia, Creed’s exquisite Pure White Cologne, and the elegant Roja Parfums Danger Pour Homme. Put on a nice pair of slacks, shoes, and a tailored shirt, then spritz on one of those fragrances—you’ll see exactly what I mean, as they will lift the spirit and perhaps the ego (but hopefully not too much). Another fragrance in this style is Oxford & Cambridge by Czech & Speake. KEEP ON READING

Sample Impressions: Xerjoff’s Dhofar

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I can’t recall where, but I’ve read Dhofar described as a barbershop fragrance for the dark-haired man. Without hesitation, I’d say that this description is spot on. I’ve also read that Dhofar is too conservative, maybe a little boring. But this description is way off.

Dhofar opens with something resembling an exotic (oriental perhaps?) barbershop accord. Imagine walking into a barbershop, with seated men wearing woody citrus fragrances, smelling exotic spices from the bazaar while having your neck powdered after a shave. Combine all of this with a slightly astringent barbershop and an exotic something that I assume is the jatamansi, and you have Dhofar in a nutshell. Literally, a nutshell. There is something warm and comforting in Dhofar that briefly reminds me of the smell of freshly cracked walnut shells. It’s weird, but awesome. KEEP ON READING

Bruno Fazzolari’s – Feu Secret: the floral blanket

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Somehow along this journey I’ve acquired a comfort scent and it’s none other than iris in its many fragrant forms. I was first introduced to iris on the designer side with Dior Homme and Dior Homme Intense. Immediately, I was drawn to these “lipstick-powdery-makeup bag” smelling offerings, that most manly-man wouldn’t be caught dead in. Iris has always impressed me, because it’s soft, delicate, and one of those “your skin, but better” aromas. Having never been scared to smell like a makeup bag, Dior Homme Intense and I paired quite well, I’m comfortable in my own skin and DHI just made it smell that much better. So, early in my fragrance journey iris has always been that one note I’ve sought after the most, hardly ever is it done up to my standards. Queue my Holy Trinity; Iris de Nuit, Silver Iris Mist, and Xerjoff’s Irisss, I figured it couldn’t get much better than those three. KEEP ON READING

Sample Impressions: Creed’s Royal Water

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As a fan of classic fragrances, I had to track down a sample of Creed’s Royal Water. Like many Creeds, this is heralded as a classic fragrance, and one that is both likable and unique.

Well, it’s damn good. Creed fragrances often smell extremely natural (whether or not they are), and Royal Water is no exception. The citrus in this fragrance is juicy and refreshing, but it is by no means the star of the show. What makes Royal Water unique is its blend of citruses and green herbaceous notes. Peppermint is present, though it seems to support the other elements. Generally, in the top and the mid of this scent, the most prominent note to my nose is basil, which adds a culinary sharpness to the scent that smells natural enough to fool a cook. KEEP ON READING

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

Fan Dance

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If you spend any time at all on the perfume forums, you have may seen a few posts posing one of the essential philosophical questions of our age: "What is a stripper perfume?" At first, I had great hopes of learning about unusual, seductive perfumes in these threads...

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

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

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

L’Attesa by Masque: Wait Up – This is Great

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It is fair to say that Luca Turin’s decision to start writing about perfumes again – and specifically perfumes he loves – in his new WordPress blog, has sent a gust of fresh air through the dusty halls of perfume reviewing. Everyone’s ears are pricked, wondering whom Luca is going to shine his avuncular love on next. For niche brands, it must be utterly nerve-wracking – they’ve all either sent him samples or cornered him at Esxence – and now they must wait for Turinesque rapture….or worse, total radio silence. KEEP ON READING

Iris Quest: Denouement

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For the fourth and final installment of in my Iris Quest (see Parts I, II, and III here), I’m focusing on all the iris fragrances that I (a) either forgot to include the first time round, (b) features iris not as the main player but as one important element in a larger whole – iris as part of an incense, woody, or oriental composition, and/or (c) features iris in the role of cosmetic or lipstick-style scents.

Let’s begin with an absolute heart-breaker….the amazing and utterly unaffordable Irisss by Xerjoff. KEEP ON READING

Iris for a (Red) Wedding

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I’m just kidding about the Red Wedding bit. If you’re currently preparing for a wedding (yours or someone else’s), then of course we hope it turns out much better than it did in The Game of Thrones. Still, it never hurts to come prepared. A good iris perfume, if chosen wisely, can be just the steel dagger in your pants that you need.

Iris Poudre by Frederic Malle

Despite the name, Iris Poudre is neither very powdery nor very iris-heavy. Boy, it’s beautiful, though. Wearing it feels like a celebration. It envelops the wearer in a white, balmy, creamy cloud of aldehydes and sweet flower petals, with subtle hints of a cool, floral iris glinting like pearls threaded into layers of white tulle. When I wear it, I feel like I’m ten again, digging through my mother’s clothes and playing dress-up with her costume jewelry. KEEP ON READING

M. Micallef No. 1 for Ozzwald’s NYC

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Apparently, fragrances sell out when IFRA rears its ugly, little head into the businesses of our favorite niche houses. Luckily, I’ve acquired a fair share of Pre-IFRAban No. 1 for Ozzwald’s which is due to be reformulated.

The first thing that comes to mind, I’ve smelled this before, but where? The fruited-apple-y-vanillic opening, a ha, Aventus 2.0, perhaps? Where Aventus gives you that pineapple-apple-birch-vanilla opening (well the good batches at least), No. 1 runs the course of fruits backed by a wallop of vanilla. No. 1 is definitely very mainstream in a très-niche world. Two other fragrances immediately come to mind in the first couple of minutes, Paco Rabanne 1 Million and Xerjoff JTC Comandante, no shade, I like both, but Comandante is only a mere few seconds similar to No. 1. Obviously Paco Rabanne is of no help in me comparing the notes of the two, to find similarities other than “fruity notes”. KEEP ON READING

Welcome to the Opera: La Tosca by Xerjoff

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La Tosca XJ Casamorati Collection
La Tosca XJ Casamorati Collection

When I received a sample of La Tosca I was quite elated by this new editon from Xerjoff because it is a genre of fragrance that I was searching for a long time. It also made a possitive impression on people around which is always nice as a bonus. But as I payed more attention to its details suddenly I had a strong déja-vu feeling because La Tosca, despite having an unarguably captivating appearance, is not a completely new, original stuff. This opera had already been performed before in a heavier, lower key note at the Sospiro theatre. The scent I am thinking about might be regarded as the bolder forerunner of La Tosca and is called Opera. Same nose, same brand owner. The thing is I never, never ever could wear Opera at the concentration that it has. Majestic, full of sweet-salty contrasts, too bold, Opera is a predator disguised in a long black velvet gown. Everything seems strange and enveloped in danger when I smell it. Those all sorts of fruits, tropical flowers and amber gris evoke for me the smell and almost the taste of a dessert called halva, you know it? It is very dense, nutty and sweet, made of tahini and sugar. This tahini flavor I get mostly from Opera. Strange. But La Tosca…well, La Tosca has the same DNA but she`s easier at heart, fresher somehow and she smiles. And that`s enough for me not only to feel comfortable with it for a test run, but to reach for it again and again. I need it. I developed a passion for it.

Stagecourtains1 KEEP ON READING

When mainstream beats niche: Salvatore Ferragamo Tuscan Scent Collection

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tuscan scent salvatore ferragamo__41588_big_line_cat
Salvatore Ferragamo Tuscan Scent Collection, 2014

Once in a while, a designer house throws on the market a high-end collection (or two) of unexpected quality that could perhaps enchant even the most fastidious niche aficionados. I was elated to discover that Salvatore Ferragamo has stepped outside their mainstream field with it`s two Quintessencial Collections, first in 2013 launching the outstanding line of EDT`s in sleek bottles under the name Tuscan Soul (if you`re into amber do try Terra Rosa) and continuing an year later with the black triptych called Tuscan Scent which are all EDP`s. I feel the latter deserves some extra attention because it`s something truly creative and groundbreaking having all the qualities one could hope for and imagine.
Last summer my bestie who is also a perfume enthusiast came to visit me for a week and we literally spend our time together sniffing as many scents we could both in town and from my drawer, laughing, drinking Aperol Spritz, smoking Gauloise Blonde and talking about everything until late at night. It was PERFECT. One day she went alone for a stroll alone and I remember it was raining that day and quite cold. She came home with her coat all soaked up and approaching her neck to my nose she said: SMELL! Oh, wow! The scent she was wearing smelled very natural and had something equally tempting and dangerous to it. It was Golden Acacia applied several hours before and her skin turned it into, well, something quite magical. That raised of course my interest to try it myself and the next day I sprayed it on my wrists and took a deep breath. And it played its magic on me too. KEEP ON READING

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