4 stars: 419 posts

4 stars means “very good,” a fragrance with enough character to be memorable, and enough tenacity and diffusion to be noticed. It may either lack that ineffable “spark” that makes a perfume truly outstanding for me or else it may simply need more time on the market to determine its staying power.

Comme des Garcons Black : Perfume Review

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If you’ve never tried any Comme des Garçons fragrances, think of the stuff you might smell at your car mechanic–tar, machine grease, burnt rubber. Today’s collection includes more than a dozen perfumes, and by and large, they have an industrial, deliberately synthetic feel (even if created with natural materials.)  To some people, these are the ultimate edgy perfumes, to others–smells to avoid.

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Whatever camp you belong to, Black Eau de Toilette is likely to be a love it or hate it perfume. The name doesn’t lie–it’s a dark, potent brew. If you’ve ever dreamed of smelling like molten asphalt or barbecued ribs or a cross between the two, then your wish has come true.

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Ormonde Jayne Cuir Imperial : Perfume Review

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A certain type of leather scent is guaranteed to catch my attention. Dark, spicy, with a hint of birch tar smokiness. Think Chanel Cuir de Russie on the elegantly austere end of the spectrum or Serge Lutens Cuir Mauresque on the opulent dimension.  Ormonde Jayne Cuir Impérial falls somewhere in between. It places a trimmed down and polished leather accord against a Nezami garden of pleasures–rose, sandalwood,  saffron and iris.

Cuir Impérial reveals all of its treasures readily, and its opening is exciting. The blend of spicy and lemony notes makes for a bright start, and if you wonder how a spice can be zesty, try crushing a pod of cardamom. The lemony bite in the top notes of Cuir Impérial is fueled by cardamom, along with a dose of bergamot and pink pepper.

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Chanel Paris-Deauville : Fragrance Review

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Deauville doesn’t evoke a particular scent for me. The name of this resort town on the coast of Normandy mostly reminds me of A Man and A Woman, the 1966 French film starring the incomparable Anouk Aimée. I have visited Deauville several times but only for work, unlike most normal people who travel to Normandy on vacation. As a result, when I sprayed Chanel’s Paris-Deauville on my wrist, its fragrance made me bypass France entirely. Instead, it took me to Sicily.

I smelled the bitterness of orange peel and green leaves unfolding on my skin and I could almost feel the breeze from the Ionian sea and the bright flavor of orange granita. The hot stones and sun bleached grasses slowly enter the picture. And then before the fragrance even reveals its jasmine inflected heart, I already recall the opulence of blossoms in Aci Trezza, the rocky strip of the Riviera where Ulysses might have fought the Cyclops. My memory erases the misdeeds of the 1960s real estate developers, which make the Cyclops seem rather innocuous, and instead as I wear Paris-Deauville, I escape to visions of endless blue sea, cliffs, orange orchards and jasmine vines.

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By Kilian Noir Aphrodisiaque : Perfume Review

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Tonka bean, ginger, vanilla, Sichuan pepper, coriander, rose, mint… The flavors Jacques Génin uses in his confections might as well be taken straight from a perfumer’s palette. The Parisian chocolatier is known for his daring combinations of flavors and his impeccable craftsmanship. His caramels are legendary. His millefeuille is a towering delight of cream and shards of pastry. His pâtes de fruits look like jewels. He pairs chocolate with spices, roots and herbs, but the result is rarely predictable. Even an ingredient as ubiquitous as cinnamon becomes a surprising note in his hands, as it reveals its floral and woody nuances.  Not for nothing, the epithets used to describe Génin include “wizard,” “madman,” and “genius.”

Génin’s most recent collaboration is with by Kilian, an artisanal fragrance house led by Kilian Hennessy, and perfumer Calice Becker.  As an inspiration for a perfume, chocolate is a complicated note. It tastes sweet, but it smells animalic and pungent. Part of the flavor in most commercial chocolates is given by vanilla, which softens the animalic tang but also rounds out and simplifies the scent. So instead, Becker looked to Génin’s favorite ingredients such as Ceylon cinnamon and Calabrian bergamot to craft her perfume.

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Hermes Cedre Sambac : Perfume Review

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The moment I set my foot in lands where jasmine blooms, I find a flower to smell–a single blossom, a sprig, a garland. I think that I know exactly what jasmine smells like, but every soil makes for a different scent. Jasmine in Provence has an apricot nuance. Indian jasmine smells leathery. Spanish jasmine has a cinnamon inflection in the afternoon and a simmering musky warmth in the evening. Indonesian jasmine is green and sweet, the most unexpected combination. Smelling Hermès’s Cèdre Sambac, I wonder where the perfumer Christine Nagel found an inspiration for such a creamy yet transparent impression.

Nagel says that the inspiration for the five new Hermessences came from the Middle East. Jasmine attars from that part of the world have a certain richness that can be either opulent or smothering, depending on the attar-blender’s skill and the perfume lover’s capacity for jasmine. Cèdre Sambac, however, is all glow.

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  • Alexa in My Selection of 10 Fragrances for Fall: I haven’t read anything by Hosseini, but have been meaning to. So thanks for the reminder! I read The English Patient and really enjoyed it. I hope you’re having a… October 23, 2018 at 6:15pm

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  • Andy in French Fig Jam: I’ve never had pineapple jam, and hers uses this method with green apples. I think that’s the one I’ll try, or maybe the one with pineapple, mango, and banana. It’s… October 23, 2018 at 1:07pm

  • Debi Sen Gupta in Paris Autumn Walks : The Basilica of Saint Denis: Great. There is a lot of information online but doesn’t really bring out the feel of the place. And hardly any tourists. When I was there one family was leaving… October 23, 2018 at 12:52pm

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