Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hermès - Voyage d' Hermès Parfum

AN EVEN SMOOTHER RIDE. This years introduction of an intense version (pure perfume) of the original Voyage will surely please many since the original (Eau de Toilette) was widely considered too weak and fleeting. Personally I didn't have any particular longevity issues with the latter. I did however immensely enjoy its peppery, white musk soapy freshness.

Those characteristics pretty much remain in the top notes of this update, now mingling with the added heart and base of rose and soft amber. The signature cardamom of Jean-Claude Ellena blends exceptionally well with the new somewhat warmer accord. The overall impression of the drydown is that of an rare oriental tea with hints of fizzy citrus, astringent herbs and honeyed blond woods. Crisp juniper adds a dry cleanliness. Elegant and somewhat restrained - as most often with this house.

The Hermès copy presenting this as an evening version of the original is quite clever and spot on. Whereas the original with it´s translucent lemon tang and peppery cedar serves as the perfect morning tonic, the intense version with it´s more seamless progression and soft ambery edges would be an ideal companion for a night out with dinner and opera. Both are excellent and complement each other beatifully.

Year of Launch: 2012

Gender Classification: Unisex

Reminiscent of: Editions de Parfums de Frederic Malle Angeliques Sous La Pluie, Penhaligon´s Juniper Sling

Longevity & Sillage: Moderate sillage, above average longevity

Overall Rating: 7/1o

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Speed Review: Viktor & Rolf - Spicebomb

Year of launch: 2012
Gender classification: Masculine
Perfumer: Olivier Polge
Availability: In production
Dominant Notes: bergamot, pink pepper, cinnamon, vetiver, red pepper, tobacco accord, chili, saffron, leather, grapefruit and elemi.
Reminiscent of: Kenzo Power, Tommy Hilfiger Loud, Paul Smith Man
Packaging & Design: Stylized Hand grenade heavy smoked glass flacon, designed by Fabien Baron
Longevity & Sillage: Standard sillage, well above average longevity - really clings to skin
5 adjectives: Powdery, androgynous, clean, tart, contemporary

Overall rating: 6/10

Thursday, December 29, 2011

L'Artisan Parfumeur - Ecrin d’Eaux de Toilette - Les Masculins - Holiday 2011

AFRICA, ABSINTHE & A MISNAMED TEA-PARTY. In time for the holidays L' Artisan Parfumeur presented two beautifully composed gift sets of 3 x 15 ml of some of their finest fragrances. The feminine box contains Nuit de Tubéreuse, Mûre et Musc and La Chasse aux Papillons while the men's collection features Fou d’Absinthe, Coeur de Vétiver Sacré and Timbuktu.

The latter gift set conveniently found it´s way to my Christmas tree and I have been enjoying it immensely the last couple of days. The selection is perfectly put together balancing both dry woods, fougere soapiness and oriental smoothness. A little something for many different moods.

Timbuktu (2004): Perhaps perfumer Bertrand Douchafours' finest work. Timbuktu, inspired by ancient Mali perfume rituals, is a bone dry, woody blend with great depth and character. Spicy cardamom, austere papyrus and dense frankincense together make for a heady and natural accord. Ripe mango and fresh pink pepper beautifully balance the scorching impact of the arid spices.

There is a subtle presence of vetiver throughout the evolution of the fragrance, no doubt enhancing the slightly earthy, bitter and smoky impression. Myrrh, patchouli and benzoin eventually seal the deal with a smooth and lasting drydown.

Exotic, evocative and complex.

Fou d'Absinthe (2006): The incredibly talented Olivia Giacobbetis' contribution to the world of fougeres is actually somewhat of a contemporary bench mark of said genre. Fou d'Absinthe is not as much a tribute to the "green fairy" as it is a strongly coniferous pine fragrance. The opening is a sharp blast of astringent angelica - boozy and bold. Heart notes appear quickly though, developing the composition into more well behaved territory with creamy pepper, candied ginger and smooth patchouli.

Clove and cistus create a very strong barbershop-vibe, something further accentuated by the pine needles and fir balsam in the basenotes. The references to classic fougeres like Penhaligon´s English Fern, Dunhill Edition and Brut are evident, yet Fou d'Absinthe has a distinct contemporary personality of it´s own - learning from history without living in it. Eau de parfum strength that really does last the whole day, unfortunately a rare characteristic of this house.

Soapy, elegant and masculine.

Coeur de Vétiver Sacré (2010): Karine Vinchon-Spehners' terribly underrated Coeur de Vétiver Sacré is most of all a victim of unfortunate naming. The vetiver in here is after all kept at a minimum - something that has caused disappointment within the community of afficionados of this pungent root. Quite a vocal crowd in the world of perfume lovers...

Forget about the name though, this is a gem of a black tea fragrance with pleasant fruitiness and a gentle apricotish suede like character not unlike the one found in Serge Lutens fragrances like Daim Blond and Santal Blanc. Rose petals and fresh dates rest alongside this cup of steaming ginger infused bergamot and osmanthus tea.

Incense and birch tar add smokiness which makes the overall impression somewhat reminiscent of Knize´s rough Ten and Santa Maria Novella´s Nostalgia but with the leather and petrol accord way turned down. Pepper and coriander contribute some sting while subtle saffron, dry iris and clean musk anchor the fragrance smoothly.

A modern, delicate and cozy oriental.

Overall rating: 9/10 for the gift collection as a whole.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Speed Review: Penhaligon´s - Juniper Sling

Year of launch: 2011
Gender classification: Unisex (quite manly)
Perfumer: Olivier Cresp
Availability: In production
Dominant Notes: Cinnamon, Orange Brandy, Angelica, Juniper Berry, Cardamom, Black Pepper, Orris Wood and Vetiver
Reminiscent of: Guerlain Coriolan, Bombay Sapphire Infusion, Hugh Parsons Blue
Packaging & Design: Elegant Art-Deco patterned mint green box, silver bow-tied clear glass flacon, chrome mirror label
Longevity & Sillage: Miniscule sillage, far below average longevity
5 adjectives: Flat, dry, peppery, weak, clean

Overall Rating: 4/10

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Decades of Decadence part II: Annick Goutal Ambre Fétiche

In the four fragrances comprising the Les Orientalistes-series the House of Annick Goutal takes a welcome departure to the darker and more mysterious sides of perfumery.

I have a great deal of respect for the very natural, honest style of this house - with citrus benchmarks like Eau d´Hadrien, the coarse beauty of Sables and Duel and the true to life dewey freshness of Ninfeo Mio. Yet most of the Goutal back catalogue lacks a certain excitement - more competent, organic little poems than complex epic novels.

This started changing already with the excellent spicy Mandragore and the more intense version Mandragore Pourpre but is even more evident in Ambre Fétiche and the other three orientals Myrrhe Ardente, Encens Flamboyant and Musc Nomade. Especially Ambre Fétiche st
ands out as very "non-Goutalesque" with it´s smoldering spices, opulent richness and heavy duty sillage.

The initial blast is brutal - bitter, medicinal and almost overpowering. But this fierce top swiftly gives way to a creamy and dense amber with a strong and syrupy vanilla presence. Thus far many ambers are similar, especially L´Artisan Parfumeur´s Ambre Extréme comes to mind. But it is what follows that separates Ambre Fétiche from many of it´s niche counterparts.

A beautiful smoke and leather accord, probably achieved with labdanum and birch tar, lifts the whole composition to a whole new level successfully balancing out the intense sweetness. This smoke accord also has a salty steamlike quality much like the one found in Penhaligon´s Sartorial.

The overall impression is deep, dark, voluptous, bohemian and timeless. Both sillage and longevity are amazing. This stays on your skin forever.

Apart from being an excellent fragrance, Ambre Fétiche - as well as the others in Les Orientalistes - are a great work of artistic integrity and cohesion. In an age where fragrance brands compete fiercely with pretentious copy and increasingly ridiculous concepts - this line of fragrances does exactly what it´s supposed to - evoke visions of an ancient, lavish middle east with steamy hammams, luxurious spices and precious incense.

In Ambre Fétiche Isabelle Doyen and Camille Goutal have not only created one of the great modern ambers, they have also successfully widened the brilliance of this esteemed perfume house.

Overall Rating: 9/10

Thursday, December 1, 2011

L'Artisan Parfumeur - Batucada

BRAZILIAN (B)LOWOUT. L'Artisan Parfumeur´s recent movement towards more accessible mainstream compositions definitely continues with this new homage to Brazil and it´s vibrant culture.

Batucada, apparently inspired by a fast paced substyle of samba, is a simple but very enjoyable fizzy fresh blend. Notes of lemon and coconut together with a caipirinha accord constructed with mint, lime and syrupy sugar cane play the main roles together. Some pyramids also mention tiare, ylang ylang, amber, benzoin, sandalwood, vetiver and vanilla. But honestly the firstly mentioned notes along with a little too much calone and some light skin musk is what I mostly pick up.

No doubt a pleasant and cheerful choice for hot summer days, but ultimately I expect more from a house that has given us such classics as Dzing!, Timbuktu and Bois Farine. Fun but fleeting.

Year of Launch: 2011
Gender Classification: Unisex
Reminiscent of: Aramis Bermuda Tonic, Maître Parfumeur et Gantier Bahiana
Longevity & Sillage: Moderate projection, low staying power
Overall Rating: 6/1o

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Speed Review: Hermès - Santal Massoia

Year of launch: 2011
Gender classification: Unisex
(leaning slightly to the feminine side)
Perfumer: Jean-Claude Ellena
Availability: In production
Dominant Notes: Sandalwood, massoia bark, coconut
Reminiscent of: Eau de Cartier, L'Artisan Parfumeur Bois Farine
Longevity & Sillage: Light projection, below average longevity
Packaging & Design: Standard Hermès Hermessence flacon with an elegant light brown brushed suede cap
5 adjectives: Milky, sweet, airy, floral, woody
Overall Rating: 6,5/10

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Marc Jacobs - Bang Bang

BANG FOR THE BUCK. Apart from the somewhat silly and uninspired name, Bang Bang by Marc Jacobs is actually a very competent flanker to last years successful original.

Just like Bang, the dry, peppery woody base remains but has now been updated with a modern minty top and some opening creamy citrus notes. This adds some welcome herbal plumpness and a zesty sting to the rough, smoky vetiver heart. Deep notes of sage and patchouli mellow the overall impression for a significantly smoother ride compared to the original.

Part of the charm of the original was it´s coarse and minimalist approach, which - at the same -time easily turns into monotony and ultimately boredom. Not so with this update. Overall a more complete and wearable fun fragrance. Uplifting, modern and masculine.

Additional official notes include lemon, fennel, cardamom, sandalwood and cashmere musks.

Year of Launch: 2011
Gender Classification: Masculine
Reminiscent of: Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Geranium pour Monsieur, Hermès Poivre Samarcande, Armani Sport Code
Longevity & Sillage: Moderate projection, very good staying power
Overall Rating: 7/1o

Sunday, October 9, 2011

GUIDE - Fragrances for Fall/

Sweden´s premiere Men´s Style Blog,, recently published my guide on fragrances especially suited for autumn. Article in Swedish here:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Speed Review: Creed - Aventus

Year of launch: 2010
Gender classification: Masculine
Perfumer: Olivier & Erwin Creed
Availability: In production
Dominant Notes: Blackcurrant, bergamot, apple, pineapple, patchouli, oak moss, musk, ambergris and vanilla.
Reminiscent of: Ralph Lauren Romance Silver, Armani Attitude, Paco Rabanne Black XS for Him
Longevity & Sillage: Moderate to good projection, excellent staying power
Packaging & Design: Standard Creed flacon with added black leather wrap and silver plaquet
5 adjectives: Fruity, smoky, crisp, mossy, elegant
Overall Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

DSQUARED2 - Potion

A LIGHTER SHADE OF PALE. DSQUARED2: s first foray into masculine perfumery, He Wood (2007), was a competent albeit simple blend of violets and vetiver. Uncomplicated, yet instantly recognizable and pleasant. Since then a few flankers have appeared, all of them with some merit of their own. All in all a good olfactory resume so far for the extravagant Caten-twins Dean and Dan.

Therefore I was quite excited to try out their latest launch - Potion. Additionally, the nose is the esteemed Annick Ménardo, creator of previous brilliance like Bulgari Black, YSL Body Kouros and Dior’s Bois D'Argent.

And Potion does deliver. But, unfortunately far too weakly. The longevity and sillage of this is incredibly low – more like a fragrant whisper than the eau de parfum strength signalled on the great looking apothecary style flacon… Three spritzes faded into oblivion within an hour on my skin. This really is a pity on this woodsy, spicy and innovative concoction.

During it's brief presence, Potion delivers a smooth, minty almost absinthe-tinged ride. The opening is boldly boozy, herbal and slightly bitter but rapidly mellows down to gentle spices and dry woods. The main accord is austere and strict , creating an almost pale/white impression where very classic ingredients come together in a contemporary manner - much like Comme des Garcons' early stuff.

Official notes include red mint leaves, angelica, thyme, rose petals, black peppercorns, gentian, cinnamon, cashmere wood, patchouli, amber and musk. A note missing from the official list is nutmeg, which I pick up strongly - especially on the dry down. Hints of smoky incense, dry cedar and soft amber purr together before Potion fades out completely.

Overall Potion is a well crafted, fairly original blend obviously made from high quality ingredients. This clearly stands out from the majority of new designer releases and reinforces the obviously high ambitions of this particular house regarding fragrances. Creative and extremely wearable.

Ultimately, and unfortunately so, the insanely low staying power and projection significantly lowers the overall experience. Hopefully DSQUARED2 puts out an “extreme” version or something in that direction soon. Apparently the wide range of ancillary products features a perfume oil version that might be worth looking up in hopes of increased output.

Year of Launch: 2011
Gender Classification: Masculine
Reminiscent of: Gucci Pour Homme, L’Artisan Parfumeur Fou d’Absinthe, Cacharel Pour Homme, Hermès Eau de Gentian Blanche, Comme des Garcons White
Longevity & Sillage: Both unfortunately extremely low
Overall Rating: 6/1o

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Citrus Anatomy part V - Guerlain Homme L´Eau

The latest instalment in Guerlain´s Homme-series is actually the by far most accomplished yet. Better and more balanced than both the original and intense versions, L´Eau is highly wearable for summer and crisp fall days. It retains the rum/mojito accord from the original and has a cool, bracing mint note. The harsh and synthetic wood accord from previous versions has been replaced by classic eau de cologne notes with zesty citrus, pungent herbs and icy geranium.

Additional notes include lime, bergamot, grapefruit, cedar and vetiver.

For me this is a perfect update of Hermès Eau de orange verte concentrée. Same elegant classic style but with better longevity and some added complexity. The frosted glass flacon looks good and represents the content very well. Good projection and excellent staying power. Overall a winner and perhaps more importantly - finally a modern classic for Guerlain´s in house perfumer Thierry Wasser.

Overall rating: 8/10

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Speed Review: Tom Ford - Azure Lime

Year of launch: 2010
Gender classification: Unisex
Perfumer: Unknown
In production
Dominant Notes: Lime, Neroli, Juniper, Valencia Orange, Basil, Mint, Musk, something aquatic (calone?)
Reminiscent of: Christian Dior Eau Sauvage, Hermès Eau d´Orange Concentree

Longevity & Sillage: Moderate on both accounts
Packaging & Design: Standard Tom Ford rectangular dark brown glass flacon
5 adjectives: Vivid, sparkling, zesty, aquatic, herbal
Overall Rating: 6/10

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


A(I)RISTOCRACY. French masters of equestrian elegance - Hermès - are described as one of the last outposts of true luxury in Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster by journalist Dana Thomas (2007). I agree with Ms. Thomas’ assessment – their sense of quality and craft are certainly reflected in the selection of fragrances on offer.

In the Hermessence-line in house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena explores different high quality raw materials in “olfactory poems”. This concept of simple, yet personal and original perfume goes especially well with Mr. Ellena’s trade mark airy “legere” style.

My encounters with this range follow below – beginning with my favorite ones (and continuing in descending order).

Vetivér Tonka: Much like L´Occitanes’ Vetyver this is not a vetiver for the hardcore aficionados of the pungent grass/root. Rather Vetivér Tonka takes a mild and tempered approach to vetiver with soft complementing notes. A slight smokiness does however remain, mingling beautifully with sweet caramelized hazelnuts and mellow tobacco. Official notes include Neroli, Bergamot, Vetiver, Roasted Hazelnuts, Dried Fruit, Cereals and Tonka Bean – but the blend is seamless and mostly radiates of a peppery, clean masculinity.

Vetivér Tonka is an incredibly elegant fragrance. Discreet, yet as sharp as a meticulously tailored grey flannel suit. There are similarities to some of Ellenas’ other work, especially Terre d’ Hermès, but I strongly prefer the crisp and straight forward composition of VT. Liquid sophistication.

Ambre Narguilé: This is gourmand done right. Ambre Narguilé perfectly balances “edible” notes with thought and moderation. The end result is best described as a classy and highly wearable cinnamon apple pie. Boss Bottled from Hugo Boss is a bit in this direction but ultimately ventures into synthetic mess. AN instead excels in its ambition of transparent contemporary oriental with sweet honey, creamy vanilla and smoky dried fruits.

Official notes include benzoin, labdanum, musk, vanilla, caramel, honey, sugared tonka bean, grilled sesame seeds, cinnamon, rum, coumarine and white orchids. Rich, dense and opulent – but never too much. Amazing longevity and decent sillage on this one.

Poivre Samarcande: In some ways Poivre Samarcande feels like a tribute to classic Eau d'Hermès. They definitely share the same “dirty” yet refined vibe – most certainly thanks to cumin. At the same time PS is quite modern and not unlike some othercontemporary stuff out there - I suspect this is due to some usage of Iso-E Super.

For instance Poivre Samarcande is similar, to Bang by Marc Jacobs. Similar but vastly superior. I just love the dry, crackling black pepper and salty leather notes in this. Official notes include black pepper, Chili pepper, Oak, Cedar, Musk and Chinese Moss. Spicy, warm and slightly animalic.

Rose Ikebana: A stunningly bright take on rose. Ellena’s trade mark is instantly recognizable in Rose Ikebana that shares a strong resemblance with Eau de Pamplemousse Rose – especially with a sparkling grapefruit note – but also some similarities to the lovely tartness found in the Jardin-series. A natural, tangy rhubarb adds instant freshness to the dewey and gentle rose petals. The overall feeling is of a moist beautiful garden with plump fruit and lush greenery. Delicate, sheer and extremely wearable for men and women alike. Impossible to dislike. According to others longevity on my skin is far better than I perceived myself. Official notes include rose petals, peony, magnolia, pink peppercorns, grapefruit zest, green rhubarb, vanilla, honey, and black tea.

Paprika Brasil: Beautiful and original, Paprika Brasil is by far the most feminine in the range to my nose. Here dry, powdery and floral iris is paired with austere cedar wood. The result is a chillingly chic blend that I picture to be the perfect choice for formal galas or dinners. For women that is. PB is just too much femme fatale for me –its aroma immediately conjures up images of lipstick and expensive red stilettos in my mind. Official notes include pimento, clove and paprika Iris and green leaves Reseda, ember wood and “woody notes”.

Brin de réglisse: In many ways a departure from the rest of the series. Brin de réglisse is more direct and brutal than it’s siblings. The opening immediately has intense licorice and pungent lavender battling it out before settling into a mellow, creamy base of said notes. Reminds me of a slightly less complex but deeper version of Piguet´s Cravache. Fun but unfortunately very fleeting. Personally I think Eau de réglisse by Caron does this concept more effectively, with better staying power and way cheaper. Official notes include lavender, licorice, orange blossom, hay, incense, vanilla and leather.

Iris Ukioyé: Clean and pleasant iris fragrance. Somewhat more contemporary ambiance compared to Olivia Giacobetti’s masterpiece Hiris from 1999. Competent but ultimately unexciting compared to others in the range.

Vanille Galante: For a lack of better words I would describe this as an “organic” vanilla. Very far from the synthetic vanilla accords that are so commonplace in perfumery of today. Vanille Galant has a fleshy substance to it with some indolic notes. Very vivid and not sweet at all. Think of bitter and smoky vanilla pods together with blossoming orchids and pungent jasmine - original and cool. Floral, sharp and quite feminine.

Osmanthe Yunnan: Someone at Basenotes described this one perfectly as smoky, milky apricot tea. Osmanthe Yunnan is gentle and mild and features a toned down version of that peachy suede accord that is found in many of Serge Luten´s creations. On my skin OY wears a tad too weak - it just doesn’t really take off. Nevertheless a pleasant ride while it lasts. Official notes include: Yunan Tea, Orange, Freesia, Osmanthus, Apricot and Leather.
Year of Launch: 2004-2009
Gender Classification: All are unisex – Vetivér Tonka, Ambré Narguilé, Poivre Samarcande & Un brin de réglisse belong to the more masculine ones.
Longevity & Sillage: Great variations – moderate longevity & sillage as a whole with Ambré Narguilé being the big exception.
Overall rating: 8/10 for the series as a whole.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

No More Than meets The Eye - part III: Acqua di Parma

Italian luxe brand Acqua di Parmas' advertising follows the sharp Art Deco-design of their near iconic packaging. Aspirational images and models are put aside in favor of strong graphic character and flacon focus.

(All pictures courtesy of:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Speed Review: Lacoste (Original)

Year of launch: 1984
Gender classification: Masculine
Perfumer: Unknown
In production
Dominant Notes: Lemon, citrus, menthol, clove, sandalwood
Reminiscent of: Paco Rabanne Pour Homme, Monsieur de Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent Pour Homme
Longevity & Sillage: Moderate sillage, good longevity
Packaging & Design: Sporty, deep green glass flacon with white panels screaming Tennis!
5 adjectives: Soapy, mossy, clean, rugged, refreshing
Overall Rating: 7/10