Monday, July 14, 2008

Speed Review: Dolce & Gabbana Pour Homme

Year of Launch: 1994
Gender Classification: Masculine
Availability: In Production
Dominant notes: Bergamot, tarragon, lavender, sweet tobacco, musk
Reminiscent of: Versace The Dreamer, O Boticario Uomini, YSL L'Homme
Longevity & Sillage: Both stellar
Packaging & Design: Simple clean and classic flacon with good finish, nice dark blue packaging with velvety, suede feel.
5 adjectives: Mediterranean, dominant, sharp, daring, complex
Overall rating: 7/10

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hermès - Un Jardin Après La Mousson

Un Jardin Après La Mousson is the third, but hopefully not the last, instalment in Jean-Claude Ellena's Garden Series.

As I've written before on Basenotes about Comme de Garcons Incense Series there's a leisure cool and above all strong sense of luxury to the concept of exploring variations and different facets of a certain theme in several fragrances. This very much applies to this line of Hermès scents. Such an approach of course demands focus, great talent and serious inspiration by the creator. Thankfully all these criteria are, in my view, the trademark of Ellena's work so far.

Un Jardin Après La Mousson breaks the mould a bit compared to the previous two, but the breezy, fruity, fun and lightly floral touch that characterized Un Jardin En Méditerranée (2003) and Un Jardin Sur Le Nil (2005) is definitely present here as well. The previous two had fig and mango in the limelight, whereas this latest launch apparently focuses on the kahli ginger flower. I also pick up the juiciness of watermelon and cucumber. The latter note briefly made me think of Esté Lauders Beyond Paradise for men, clearly an inferior fragrance in every way, but still there is some kinship between the two. Another one that comes to mind, but in a much more abstract way is Diors Fahrenheit, I can't put my finger on what exactly the common denominator is, perhaps there is some honeysuckle in the Hermès? Apart from these slight similarities Un Jardin Après La Mousson is a very unique fragrance, shining in an exceptional, transparent way. Just the muted and delicate use of cardamom, usually one of my most hated notes, shows Ellena's brilliant way of using ordinary ingredients in extraordinary ways.

It has been said before that Ellena´s approach to perfumery is that of an artist painting with water colours. This description is spot on, especially in the case of the garden series. Other creations, such as Eau de Merveilles and Terre de Hermès, have a tad of darkness to them. This trio instead is all about fun and joie de vivre, but without losing the feeling of exclusivity for one second. All three have an impressionistic, youthful and almost naïve feeling to them. Truly a proud continuation of this house's already great legacy in the world of fragrances.

And, as always with Hermès, the packaging and ads are perfect and wonderfully representing the contents of the bottle.

Year of Launch: 2008
Gender Classification: Unisex
Reminiscent of: Esté Lauders Beyond Paradise for men (ever so slightly...), Christian Dior Fahrenheit (in a very abstract way), Kenzo Pour Homme
Longevity & Sillage: I find the longevity of all the Jardins to be excellent, however
the sillage on this one as well as the others is limited
Overall rating: 8/10

Davidoff - Cool Water

Recently I´ve become increasingly relativistic in judging and reevaluating older fragrances. Like many members on the Basenotes Community Board I very strongly dislike where the mainstream fragrance industry is heading and has developed the last couple of years. Way too much effort is put into packaging, limited editions, summer versions, ridiculous pyramid copywriting and such. Genuine creativity and originality has dissappeared in favour of hype and politically correct and synthetic scents that aim to please as many consumers as possible.

Further there is a growing trend of "dual" markets for the big brands. Dior have their 3 upscale colognes, Guerlain their L'Art et la Matiere series, Chanel their Rue Cambon, Hermès their Hermenessences - the list goes on... Practically this means we now have to pay about 3 times more for the same quality that was standard issue during the 80´s while the conglomerates squeeze every penny out of each aquired franchise with their "special editions" and summer versions - products that seldomly even make it to next year.

Unfortunately all kinds of new sub-par "niche" houses have popped up as well recently, capitalizing on peoples quest for the genuine. Fancy packaging and claims (hardly controllable) of all natural ingredients hardly justifies the prices asked by for instance Profumum. In my opinion you earn your respect by decades of quality output. Sadly many lose it much faster in the race for quick success today.

So how does this rant relate to my reveevaluation and growing fondness of Cool Water? A few years ago I dissmissed this fragrance sharply. But recently I started sampling it again and it grew on me with each try. I started to think of it with a strong sense of nostalgia and even appreciated it´s simple old school bottle. The Green Irish Tweed reference is unavoidable, especially since that Creed (in this rare case) is the original. And sure, GIT has more bite and complexity, but CW is close, much closer than the price tag would indicate.

Cool Water is a simple fresh fougere that works perfectly on a mild spring day. Less marine than the concept indicates, I´d say its a herbal, slightly peppery scent with a strong base of oakmoss, musk and pleasant cedar. The overall impression is, pardon the cliche, a modern masculine classic.

I eventually bought a bottle and it has served me very well in the office the last couple of months.

Cool Water, together with Acqua di Gió and Eternity may very well be the initiators of todays downward spiral of forced freshness. But compared to all the mediocre new stuff released, especially by Davidoff themselves, Cool Water will always remain a nice alternative. Good Stuff.
Review originally published on

Year of Launch: 1988
Gender Classification: Masculine
Reminiscent of: Creed Green Irish Tweed, Calvin Klein Eternity
Longevity & Sillage: Both Average
Overall rating: 7/10

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Diptyque - Tam Dao

The keyword for Diptyque's Tam Dao is definitely creamy. This is no nonsense sandalwood with just a few additional, anchoring notes. The opening cypress blast is quite herbal and astringent, but quickly it settles into the creamy smoothness that we so familiarly associate with sandalwood in perfumery. Complementing notes include cedar wood - adding a nice balancing dryness to the luscious protagonist, and a subtle use of incense that strongly reinforces the evocative and spiritual quality of the fragrance. The small elephants on the beautiful graphic print of the flacon further pay homage to India and the exclusive main ingredient.

Criticism towards Tam Dao is often based on its lacking evolution and it being somewhat of a mono-note fragrance. Both these assertions are true to a certain extent, however since the rendition of the sandalwood itself is so flawless, in my view Tam Dao easily belongs to the top fragrances in this category despite its limited development.

In slight contrast to its tranquil character, I've found that Tam Dao works particularly well in bar and club environments as the subtle spiciness blends exceptionally well with cigarette smoke.

To conclude, this Diptyque is a warm, spicy and above all creamy take on sandalwood. A serene, Zen like fragrance that'll sooth any troubled mind with its peaceful nature.

Year of Launch: 2003
Reminiscent of: Kenzo Jungle, Gucci Envy, Yves Saint Laurent M7, Lorenzo Villoresi Sandalo
Longevity & Sillage: Excellent longevity - stays on my skin the entire day. Decent sillage - nice but not overpowering output.
Overall rating: 7/10

Friday, July 4, 2008