The Average, The Banal, The Bad & The Ugly: Vol. 2

Atramental from Room 1015. Photo: Roberto Greco.

Atramental from Room 1015. Photo: Roberto Greco.

Today, a look at seven niche fragrances that didn’t do much for me, leaving me either shrugging, apathetic, or running to scrub. There are a few more entries this time around in the “Average” category as compared to Volume 1 because one or two of the perfumes have decent or wearable elements, typically right at the start. However, when all the factors are taken as a whole, from start to finish, and in relation to the price as well, then their sum-total amounts to merely okay or “average,” in my opinion. The rest of the scents fell into other categories, as you will see.

As in Volume 1, I’ll be following an abbreviated format and there won’t be note lists, official descriptions, photos of every bottle, links to Fragrantica, discussion of other people’s experiences as a comparison, a long list of retail links, or anything else. I’m going to take a page out of what Luca Turin and so many other people do, and simply give my opinion in the most general, synthesized fashion I can manage.

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Parfums MDCI Les Indes Galantes

Les Indes Galantes in the basic tasseled bottle. Source: Luckyscent.

Les Indes Galantes in the basic tasseled bottle. Source: Luckyscent.

I had such hopes for this one. Les Indes Galantes, the latest fragrance from Parfums MDCI, seemed like such a promising scent based on early reviews, the brand’s focus on quality and luxury, the fragrance’s note list, and the perfumer who created it. Yet, it turned out to be the latest in a trend I’ve experienced repeatedly over the last few months, a trend that is starting to make me feel like a crash test dummy. Again and again, my initial excitement or anticipation over a fragrance ends up crashing head-long into the wall of a very different reality. I know I’m not the easiest person to please, perfume-wise, and I know a number of bloggers felt 2015 wasn’t a great year for new releases, but the repeated crashes into that wall of reality and disappointment are starting to take a toll on me.

Most of the time, it’s the inevitable result of marketing hyperbole but, in the case of Parfums MDCI, it wasn’t completely foolish or irrational to have some hope, particularly since this is the same company that made the superb Chypre Palatin and a number of other things that the niche world really admires. But wearing Les Indes Galantes was a completely different experience than the brand aesthetic, note list, perfumer, and early rave reviews had led me to anticipate. I was genuinely surprised and disappointed at how things turned out. While wearing it, the words “Oh dear” rang through my mind again and again. Part of it is my fault or issue because I hadn’t realised it was meant to be quite so gourmand a fragrance as it turned out to be. The real source of my dismay, however, was the fact that I couldn’t rid myself of thoughts of inexpensive Bath & Body Works products, inexpensive holiday candles, and a rather traumatizing fragrance from Profumum Roma. I have no doubt that hardcore gourmand fiends and Theorema lovers will adore Les Indes Galantes, but I don’t know about everyone else.

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Fragrance Recommendations: Leathers, Vetivers, Fougères & More

Source: mf.techbang.com

Source: mf.techbang.com

Every week, I get at least three or four emails from people seeking fragrance recommendations. The vast majority of them are men, but there are some women, too. Most of them are not long-time readers of the blog and have simply stumbled upon it, so they don’t know my long-time favorites that I talk about often, but a few are subscribers who seek specific suggestions. Sometimes, people start by giving me a brief idea of their tastes and/or names of prior fragrances they’ve worn. Typically, though, the information is insufficient for me to know what might really suit them, so I write back with a list of questions, trying to narrow down what notes they have issues with or love best, how they feel about sweetness or animalics, how their skin deals with longevity or projection, and what sort of power they want in both of those last two area.

Ralph Lauren Purple Label editorial ad via tumblr.com

Ralph Lauren Purple Label editorial ad via tumblr.com

What I’ve noticed is that I tend to make certain recommendations time and time again for particular genres or fragrance families. So, I thought I would share them with all of you. However, please keep in mind that these names are in response to some pretty set criteria given to me by the person in question, even though many of those factors end up being quite similar. For example, the men who like dark, bold, rich or spicy orientals all seem to want a certain sillage or “to be noticed in a crowd,” as several have put it. In contrast, most of those who want clean, crisp scents prefer for them to be on the discreet side and suitable for professional business environments. Men whose favorites are classical designer scents that fall firmly within the fougère, green, fresh, or aromatic categories (like Tuscany, Guerlain’s Vetiver, or vintage Eau Sauvage, for example) tend to want very traditional scents, even “old school” in vibe, and not something sweet, edgy, or with a twist. So, that is what I try to give them as recommendations, which means that there are a whole slew of fragrances that fall outside the category.

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Mid-2014 Best & Favorites List

Photo: my own.

Photo: my own.

We’re more than half way through 2014, so I thought it would be a nice time for a mid-year look at some of the perfumes that caught my attention. I used to do a list of favorite things that I had tried after every 100 posts, but that practice has fallen by the wayside due to the demands of my schedule. A few weeks ago, I was thinking of some of the fragrances I have covered since the beginning of the year, and the ones on my personal list of things to buy, so it seemed like a good time for an updated list.

Perfume reviewing is subjective and personal by its very nature, so winnowing fragrances down to a list like this is even more so. My criteria for selection varied. Some of the fragrances were not really for me, but I think they’re good examples of their genre and done very well. Others are on the list for the most subjective reason of all: I either bought full bottles for myself, plan to get them, or would love to do so, if their high price were not a consideration. Ranking things is an utter nightmare, but the Top Four are firmly placed in accordance with my feelings. The remainder of the perfumes are generally ranked within one to two slots, plus or minus, of where they are in my wholly subjective estimation. None of the 25 fragrances on this list are based on their date of official release, but on what I’ve covered since January 1st through to the end of June. And all of them are current releases, not vintage fragrances. Continue reading