Category Archive for: ‘Go See’

Cleanliness and Fragrances — Reviews and Essay

Cleanliness and Fragrances — Review Essay

 

Fragrance Reviews begin at the end of this essay. 

 

Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is an ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.      Song of Songs 1:30

Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant?   Song of Songs 3:6

 

 

Most people, throughout most of history, in most times and places, most of the time, stunk.  Left unattended the human body will stink to high heaven in a very short time.  It is eminently natural to stink.  It is said that the Mongol army could not launch a surprise attack because it was possible to smell them from twenty miles away.  They prided themselves on never bathing.  They were barbarians.  The Mongols did not torture people to death, unlike most civilized societies of their time (Weatherford, pp. 115-16).  The Romans and most other civilized societies made torture a public spectacle to entertain and intimidate their citizenry.  They were sadistic.  What made the Romans civilized and the Mongols barbarians was that the Romans took baths and the Mongols stunk.  The Mongols believed that a person’s body odor was part of their soul (Weatherford, p. 12) , and this probably was part of the reason they refused to bathe — in addition to the scarcity of water on the Central Asian steppe.

It is the practice of bathing, the attendance on personal hygiene, the mitigation of offensive odor from the body, rather than moral superiority, that distinguishes civilized people from uncivilized.  Not stinking, or actually smelling good, is the mark of civilization.  One of the most commendable achievements of modern capitalism is that it has made people smell better.

In former times the practice of bathing was much less common and human body odor was ubiquitous, although attitudes toward body odor and bathing are highly variable from culture to culture (Ashenburg, Introduction).  The ancient Egyptians were known for being fastidious about bathing and personal cleanliness (Ashenburg, p. 6).  They were one of the earliest civilizations.

It was Christian hatred of the body that brought about the demise of the Roman public baths and ushered in a long era of despising and devaluing bodily cleanliness and sanitation (Ashenburg, p. 58f.)  From the 16th to the 18th centuries it was not unusual for people to go for a year or more without ever bathing.  Even the aristocracy was noted for rank malodor (Ashenburg, Ch. 4).  Queen Elizabeth I bathed once a month “whether she needed it or not” (Ashenburg, p. 99).  If the queen only bathed once a month, imagine what the rest of the people were like.  It was a different time.

This long era of filth and stink in the western world began to recede in the last half of the eighteenth century and accelerated in the nineteenth, especially with the advent of running water in the home.

As cities expanded, and people worked close to one another in crowded offices and factories, they grew unhappily aware of the smells produced by their own bodies and those of others.  The arrival of women in the work world accelerated this new sensitivity.  The fastidiousness that had first surfaced, tentatively, in late eighteenth-century Europe was becoming an American obsession.  At the same time, prosperity was at an all time high.  People could afford the products that would enable them to live in a smell-less zone, a safe place where they would neither “offend” nor be “offended.” (Ashenburg, p. 244)

Advertising campaigns in the 1930s and 40s promoted deodorant, shampoo, and razors to women, and later sanitary napkins (Ashenburg, p. 5).  A major industry has been built in the twentieth century around suppressing natural body odor and replacing it with something supposedly better.

My own attitude is that one should have to get pretty close to another person in order to smell their body.  Smell is intimate, and one’s personal body odor should be largely private.  If you can smell a person from more than a few feet away (and that includes perfume, or anything), that person is not civilized and is out of place in a modern society.

“the slovenly folk, who have been going on the theory that they can take a bath or leave it, are to be brought to their senses,” (NYT, July 10, 1927.  Ashenburg, p. 255)

“Odors are unnecessary and those that have them are violating rules of courtesy.” (Ashenburg, p. 254; quoting Hadida, 1932, pp. 98-104)

“Smelling someone’s real body or allowing your own body to be smelled has become an intrusion, a breach of a crucial boundary.”  (Ashenburg, p.271)

San Luis Obispo, CA, law bans people from the library for having offensive odor.  This provision was part of a list of disruptive behaviors prohibited from the library.  (Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2005.  Ashenburg, p. 273)

Why not make scentless the modern ideal, since ever greater cleanliness seems to be the American way?  There is a lot to be said for that, and the only argument I would make against it is that people have always smelled, and so we are accustomed to our bodies emitting odors and to perceiving the odors of others.  If we are going to smell, why not smell good rather than offensive?  Scentless in my view is too conservative and carries the war on body odor to an untenable extreme.  The aesthetic I advocate is that body odor should be minimal and not intrusive or attention seeking, pleasing if possible, but at least minimally offensive.

The word ‘perfume’ comes from the Latin per fumum meaning “through smoke.”  (Morris, p. 16)  The earliest perfumes were likely the burning of wood or meat to offer a pleasant savor to the gods.  Burning incense to the gods was a widespread practice in the ancient world. (1 Kings 11:8, Ezekiel 6:13)  The sweet smell of the incense was judged to be pleasing to the gods and the rising smoke and fragrance would carry aloft the prayers of the people and provide a pleasing presentation to the deities.  In the thirtieth chapter of Exodus God commands Aaron to build an altar and burn incense on it.

Of shittim wood shalt thou make it. . . And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps he shall burn incense upon it.  And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.  Exodus 30: 1-8

Of the three gifts that the wise men brought to the baby Jesus, two of them were fragrances.  In a world where obnoxious smells were the rule, pleasing fragrances were valued on a par with gold.

There is archeological evidence of a thriving perfume industry on the island of Cyprus as early as 2000 BC.  Perfumes have been found in Egyptian graves going back to 3000 BC.  (The Scotsman: Scotland on Sunday, September 21, 2014)

A pleasing fragrance, a sweet savor, was thought to be better than the ordinary rancidness of daily life and thus worthy of presentation to the gods.  So also in perfuming the body one gains favor and elevates oneself in the noses of one’s peers and especially in one’s estimation of oneself.  One gains in self confidence and self esteem knowing that one’s fragrance is apt to make one pleasing and attractive to others.  A pleasing fragrance is a sign of cultivation, sophistication, aristocracy.

The European tendency to be more accepting of the stink of everyday life is a cultural difference which I regard as somewhat primitive.  You have to keep in mind that the smells that come off of our bodies are the result of bacteria and fungi inhabiting our skin and orifices and these organisms can be pernicious. They can create infections, irritations, illnesses.  They can cause your teeth to rot and fall out.  The odor that we perceive is only the first indication of their presence in significant numbers and the impact they are beginning to have on our bodies and health.  Body odor tells us that it is time to wash off the bacteria before things get worse.  Modern hygiene has made us healthier and lengthened our lives — not to mention improved the aesthetic quality of our personal interactions.

The modern perfume industry began in the eighteenth century, mainly in France and Germany, with the return of bathing.  As people bathed their bodies they found it pleasant to anoint themselves with fragrant waters and oils.  The spread of the use of fragrance grew in conjunction with the development of porcelain ceramics and glass which were used to make containers for these fragrant concoctions, because they would not react with the fragrant oils and extracts in the perfumes.  (Morris, 1999, pp. 74-82)

This nascent perfume industry, catering as it did to the aristocracy, was nearly obliterated in the French Revolution.  However, Napoleon Bonaparte, who came to power in 1804, was a dandy, who was very conscientious about bathing and hygiene, even on military campaigns, and he revived the perfume industry in France, giving it generous support and encouragement (Morris, 1999, pp. 84-87).  The discovery of chemical solvents in the 1830s that allowed for the extraction of exotic scents from many flowers and plants that had never been possible before, led to an explosion of perfume manufacturing.  Many of the major perfume houses that exist today got their start in the nineteenth century.  It was the growth and rising affluence of the middle class and the increasing attention to bathing and hygiene that fostered this prodigious growth of the perfume industry.

Today the fragrance industry is a multibillion dollar worldwide behemoth that employs sophisticated technology, marketing, and huge budgets for product research and development.  The Perfect Scent by Chandler Burr is an excellent inside look at this modern industry.  I am not going to go into surveying it here.  I think this is long enough already.  But Burr is an excellent, knowledgeable writer whose books are readable and very interesting.

I want to make one more philosophical foray into aesthetics and taste before I leave you to peruse my reviews of individual fragrances.  Ashenburg gives an unwarranted amount of space to Sissel Tolaas, who runs a research lab in Berlin devoted to scent (Ashenburg, 2007, pp. 271-74).  Among other projects, the lab is building an archive of scent which includes over 7000 aromas neatly labeled and catalogued.  Tolaas hopes to develop a vocabulary of fragrance that will allow us to describe and discuss fragrances in words for which for which our current linguistic capability is dearth.  These are laudable projects and I do wish her success in these efforts and I remain interested in her progress.  Where I differ with Tolaas and the slant that Ashenburg gives to her, is her aesthetic.  It is best illustrated by an anecdote that she relates herself:

Once at the Berlin Film Festival I wore a beautiful evening dress and put on a smell which was the absolute contrast — the smell of garbage and the stench of dogshit!  And people were completely confused because the way I looked and the way I smelled had nothing to do with each other.  And I had the most fun time in my life!  In this case the purpose of smell was to say “leave me alone.”

Normally the role of smell in our society is to say “come to me!” but I did the opposite and I succeeded.  Maybe at some point we will have smells for different purposes, the “stay alone” smell, “come halfway” smell, “come close” smell.  What’s wrong with that?!”  ( Tolaas, Huffington Post, September 24, 2013)

What’s wrong with it is that you don’t need smell to communicate those intentions, and Tolass was sending out a very mixed message by her appealing dress on the one hand and her offensive odor on the other.  The point was to create confusion in people and thus draw attention to herself.  She was at an event where everyone would be dressed fashionably and thus dress alone may not have been sufficient to make a distinguishing splash, so she doused herself in stink in order to make herself stand out from the crowd.  A kind of grandstanding with odor and dress.  There is also a hostile, contemptuous element in it.  It’s childish.

My view is that smells are mostly offensive, probably 80 percent, ranging from the mild to the disgusting.  The evolutionary purpose of smell was primarily to warn us of danger and secondarily to help us find something to eat.  In civilized societies the role of smell in meeting these needs has been minimized and thus smell has been freed from its primary function of perceiving hazard to offering the possibility of aesthetic enhancement, in the same way that clothing has gone beyond simply protecting us from the elements to making a personal statement about ourselves in society.  Deliberately wearing a fragrance to make oneself stink in public is either a reflection of low self esteem and the anticipation of rejection, or a childish, sassy provocation.

Luca Turin has a somewhat different sensibility and aesthetic.  But he is French and Italian.  He tells us

France is a country of smells. . . The idea that things should be slightly dirty, overripe, slightly fecal is everywhere in France.  They like rotten cheese and dirty sheets and unwashed women  (Burr, 2003, p. 3-4).

I noticed that in many of the fragrances that Turin favors and praises.  They sort of stink.  He thinks it is sophisticated to like these somewhat offensive smells.  I think it is civilization turned on its head.  One might question whether Turin speaks for the whole kingdom of France, but his comments are echoed by Henry Miller writing in Paris in the 1930s

That’s the first thing that strikes an American woman about Europe — that it’s unsanitary. (Miller, p. 137)

Chandler Burr rightly calls Luca Turin the “Emperor of Scent.”  Turin probably knows as much as anyone alive about scent, its history and the contemporary industry of scent.  In addition he has an extraordinarily discerning and well trained nose for grasping the ingredients and building blocks of a fragrance.  In presenting these fragrance reviews here I don’t claim anywhere near the skill and sophistication that Turin has to offer.  He is the unquestioned master.  His perception of odors is unmatched and his ability to analyze the compositions of perfumes are far more precise than my own.  I am totally untrained in the language of fragrance and the building blocks of modern perfumes.  Everything I have picked up on my own, with gaps and limitations.  The differences I have with Turin are in taste.   What one chooses to wear, in both clothing and in fragrance, has to do with personality and style and the image one wishes to project in the world.  In this we have substantial differences, and this is reflected in our respective evaluations of perfumes.  It is also true that perfumes can smell differently on different person’s bodies.  That might also be a source of difference in some evaluations.  Turin’s Perfume Guide is the standard classic on this subject.  Anyone who is with more than a passing interest in perfumes should have it.  I used it to help select some of the fragrances to sample.  I did not consult it in formulating my evaluations.  My evaluations and comments on the fragrances are my own.

Every fragrance listed here I have used on my body.  Most of the time I bought small samples and wore them for a couple of days.  In many cases one day was enough.  My comments are generally spare, mostly little more than a reaction.  In rare cases I have changed my mind after a second try.  Usually I know right away whether I like something or not.  However, perfumes change on the body after some time wearing them.  Some perfumes might start out good and then slide downhill after a couple of hours.  Less often they will start out somewhat negative and then evolve in a pleasing way later on.  All of the fragrances that I tried are marketed as “Men’s” or “Unisex.”  There are women’s fragrances that I like, but since I haven’t worn them or tested them myself, I didn’t think it was appropriate to include them in this list.

I also tried a number of “essential oils” in an effort to sharpen my powers of discernment of the components of a fragrance.  I don’t know that it helped all that much, but I listed my comments on the essential oils as well.

After some debate I decided to list the fragrances in alphabetical order.  This posed some problems because some fragrances are known by the perfume house that created them, but many are known by their trade names, with the name of the manufacturer being less well known.  I have tried to list them by the manufacturer, but some that are better known by their trade name may be listed that way.  If you are looking for something and you don’t find it by the manufacturer, try looking for it by the commercial trade name.

A key to the entries.  If a fragrance has a + after it, that means I like it.  If you see ++, then it means it is on my shopping list, or I may have bought a bottle of it already.  The vast majority of commercial fragrances I do not like and would not wear.  So these reviews are overwhelmingly negative.

Chandler Burr’s estimation of the typical commercial masculine fragrance is as follows:

The surefire formula for making a bestselling masculine seems simply to be mixing together enough dihydromyrcenol (laundry detergent) with the smell of metal garbage can to choke a horse, then topping that with the scent of cryogenically frozen citrus peel dusted with DDT and a whiff of recycled plastic.  Chrome is fit, at 10 percent dilution, for controlling weeds on your lawn.  Aramis makes a fine garage floor sterilizer.  But following a plan of simply pumping out some metallic doesn’t always work.  All sorts of things that smelled of the effluent of arms manufacturing plants were put on the shelves every year and, for some reason, refused to sell.  (Burr, 2007, p. 151)

I’m not as caustic as that, but I understand where he is coming from.  However, what I do like, I like a lot, and I admire expert perfumers who are able to create interesting, unique fragrances that have a pleasing effect.  I plan to update this list from time to time as I try new samples.

 

 

 

References

 

 

Ashenburg, Katherine (2007)  The Dirt on Clean:  An Unsanitized History.  New York:  North Point Press.

Burr, Chandler (2003)  The Emperor of Scent:  A True Story of Perfume and Obsession.  New York:  Random House.

Burr, Chandler (2007)  The Perfect Scent:  A Year inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York.  New York:  Picador/ Henry Holt.

Hadida, Sophie (1932)  Manners for Millions:  A Correct Code for Pleasing Personal Habits for Everyday Men and Women.  New York: Doubleday, Duran & Co.

Miller, Henry (1961)  Tropic of Cancer.  New York:  Grove Press.

Morris, Edwin T.  (1999)  Scents of Time:  Perfume from Ancient Egypt to the 21st Century.  New York, Boston, London:  Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bulfinch Press/Little, Brown & Co.

Turin, Luca and Sanchez, Tania (2009)  Perfumes:  The A-Z Guide.  New York and London:  Penguin Books.

Weatherford, Jack (2004)  Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World.  New York:  Three Rivers Press.

 

 

The Fragrances

 

 

 

A*Men by Thierry Mugler      Smells like the Wysteria incense my dad used to burn.  But also has a strong vanilla fragrance that becomes dominant.  Very durable.  Too sweet and perfumey for me.  Womanish.  A woman could wear this.

 

Agonist  Black Amber           Rather light, grassy, hint of vanilla, some wysteria if applied more heavily, vaguely pleasant, not strong, not durable

 

Agonist  Dark Saphir           Fresh, Soapy, clean, little bit smoky, pleasant, not bad, durable    +     Second time better, more smoky, incense, pungent, good  ++

Agonist Infidels      Smoky, herbal, kind of biting.  Nice.

 

Amouage Ciel Man          Citrus, lime, fresh, clean, something slightly dark, not strong, not durable

 

Amouage Epic        Nothing

 

Amouage Gold      Detergent, stinking, offensive

 

Amouage Honour         Spicy, smoky, fresh, clean  very durable   + +

 

Amouage    Journey Man          smoky, spicy, pungent, clean, rather nice.  Softens later on but still retains its spicy character.  Very durable.  Excellent.   ++

 

Amouage   Jubilation   XXV  Mens        smoky, moderate, durable   + +

 

Amouage Lyric      Detergent, chemicals, durable

 

Amouage Memoir     Fresh & light at first, smoky, can’t make up my mind.  Second try:  Negative.

 

Amouage  Opus VIII               Rancid, watery, rotting vegetables, foul,  not strong, fortunately not durable, threw it out

 

Amouage Puro  Nejma    Fruity, rich, dark, pungent  Durable   Excellent     + +

 

Amouage Silver      Moth balls, offensive, choking

 

Andy Tauer  Lonestar Memories     Stinks  chemicals  detergent  very durable

 

Anise   — Smells like licorice, but better than licorice.  It has a sweetness and a smokiness, rather pungent.  Very pleasant and fresh.  Could wear it alone.  Fairly durable.  I only used a very little bit.

 

07-31-14   Tried a bit of anise w a little bit of lime oil on top.  At first it smelled a little rancid, then got itself under control.  The lime seems to freshen and brighten the anise, but the lime disappears quickly, but then occasionally reappears from time to time.  Anise is much stronger and more durable than the lime.  Good mix.

 

 

Anubis  Papillon Artisan Perfume          Musky, woody, little spicy, fairly strong, not bad, not durable

 

Armani    Acqui di Gio — watery, somewhat offensive, very durable, definitely a no

 

Armani        Light, fresh, little bit spicy, not durable.  So light hardly noticeable.  Don’t really like it.

 

Armani /Prive  Ambre Soie    Light incense, Pleasant,  not long lasting    +

 

Aspen         Very nice.  Fresh, woodsy, clean, slightly bitter, but pleasantly so.  The opposite of sweet powdery, perfumey.  Has a kind of tang, but not citrus.  Very interesting.

 

Bogner Wood Man            Light, pleasant, slightly perfumey.  Not much.

 

Bulgari Pour Homme —  Light, watery, little bit detergent.  Don’t like it.  Very durable.

 

Bulgari Aqua Marine Pour Homme          Clean, fresh, watery.  Not offensive but not compelling either.  Fairly durable.

 

Burberry  Brit — Spicy  >  Old Spice Lite    durable  not bad

 

Burberry London — Grassy, citrus, light OK, but not much

 

Burberry  Touch —  Grassy, pungent, watery.  Don’t care for it.

 

Burberry Weekend            Fresh and clean, little bit grassy, little bit spicy.  Maybe a little bit soapy, but that fades.  Durable.  Rather fresh and pleasant.  Not all that bad.   +

 

By       Dolce Gabana       Sweet, perfumey, light, slightly watery, little bit sickening.  Not distinctive.  Unfortunately rather durable.  Threw it out.

 

Byredo     Rose Noir         Woman’s fragrance Not review  (complimentary sample)

 

Byredo  Encens Chembur    Light, fresh, crisp, pine, incense, very clean.  Doesn’t last.

 

Byredo   Oliver Peoples          Incense, citrus, pungent, good.  Little bit smoky.  Smokiness grows.  Very nice.  Long lasting.  +

 

Calvin Klein  Obsession —  Spicy > Old Spice but light,  OK usable, but not impressive

 

Canati  — Sweet, musty, pungent > mothballs   don’t like it

 

Calvin by Calvin Klein           Light, fresh, kind of spicy, reminiscent of new carpet.  Durability only moderate

 

Carrot seed — Essential oil.  grassy, waxy, little bit sharp, herbal.  Not strong, not durable.

 

Cuiron Helmut Lang     Nothing.  Couldn’t smell it.  Very indistinct, no character.  Later becomes watery and gains strength.  Very unimpressive.

 

Cedarwood —  Essential oil.  Heavy, musky, woody.  Without the sweetness and freshness of real cedar.  Not very durable.

 

Clove bud —  Essential oil.  Smells just like cloves.  Spicy, pungent.  Lovely.

 

CB I hate Perfumes  Lavender Tea Absolute            Fairly strong  Long lingering   +

 

Compagnia del Indie  Vetyver       light pleasant   not long lasting

 

Carven  Vetiver            Nothing much.  OK.

 

Charvet Cuvee Speciale      Stinks and is durable.  Double negative.

 

Charvet Cuvee Special         Stinks

 

Comme de Garcons Avignon    Incense, Smoky, very strong, pungent,  use sparingly  very durable  gets better  ++   Bought larger sample  Very strong, pungent, very durable, Too much.   Sweet.  Threw it out.

 

Comme des Garcons    Series 3:  Incense Avignon           Smoky, spicy, nice.  Not real strong.  Lasts for a while and then fades.    (Complimentary)

 

Comme des Garcons  Series 3:  Incenses Kyoto        (Complimentary)     Incense, smoke.  Not real strong, but present.  Slight hint of water.  Clean.  Lasts fairly good.

 

Comme des Garcons   Wonderoud          Wood, earth, leaves, musky, > smoke   Not real durable

 

Comme des Garcons    Blackpepper        Peppery, spicy, smoky,  Not real strong.  Not durable.

 

Courduroy by Zith        Sweet, perfumy, womanish.  Fairly durable

 

Clive Christen   X for Men      A little too sweet.  Durable

 

Clive Christian No. 1 for him          Grassy, stinky.  Nothing.  Short-lived.

 

Creed Green Irish Tweed —  Grassy, Fresh, clean, later spicy.  Durable.  Nice one.  ++

 

Creed   Spice and Wood  (Complimentary)         Wood, leaves, earth,  Not real strong. Faint spiciness emerges.  Vague sweetness, maybe floral, but very very subtle.  Does not have much punch.   Not impressed.

 

Creed     Royal Mayfair        Grassy, fresh, little citrus, shit.  Reminds me of Gray Flannel.  Softens later on.

Not durable.

 

Creed Vetyver              Nothing special

 

Creed Royal Water      Grassy, little bit spicy, very light.  Not durable. Unimpressive

 

D & G Masculine         Spicy, some citrus, rather pungent, little musky,  pleasing, becomes sweeter after a while, somewhat oppressive, quite durable.  I’m giving it a   + but I don’t wear it very much because it’s after effect is so strong and lingering and frankly rubs me the wrong way.  It is much better when you first put it on.  If it would disappear after a couple of hours, I would be much more inclined to wear it.  It makes a good impression, but then hangs around too long.  +

 

Dark Blue by Hugo      Sort of stinks, sweat plus baby powder,  not durable, fortunately

 

Davidoff  Hot Water —   Sweet, sickening, threw it out

 

Davidoff  Cool Water — Spicy, fresh, little bit pungent,  pretty good

 

Davidoff Cool Water    Edt         Very light, fresh, hint of pine, unimpressive

 

Declaration by Cartier         Sweet, syrupy, perfumey, sickening, offensive.  Strong, enduring.  After 3 hours had to wash it off, but it still lingered.

 

Dior Homme         Very light, fresh, little grassy, powdery, womanish, next to nothing, powdery smell becomes stronger.

 

Donna Karan Fuel Original        Not bad, Nothing special

 

Dunhill Black           Little grassy, musky, fresh, light,  not impressive, not durable.

 

English Pear and wild flower — Essential oil.  Strongly soapy, choking,  grows more intense.  Very durable.

 

Egyptian Musk — Essential oil.  Fresh and clean.  Little bit soapy.  Very light.  Hardly smell it.  Emerges later.  Watery, clean.  Somewhat durable, but fades.

 

Escada Pour Homme Light Silver Edition      Clean, fresh, slightly smoky,   Not real strong.  Moderately durable  Pleasant.  +

 

Etro  Messe de Minuit       Smoky, pungent, durable   excellent  + +

 

Exceptional —    Grassy, light, insubstantial.  Not impressed

 

Farmacia Annunziata  Patchouli Indonesiano   (Complimentary)   Sharp, Chemical, vinyl, linoleum, kind of musky, don’t care for it.

 

Fennel — Essential oil.  Pungent, sharp, spicy, clean > anise.  Later becomes sort of toasty, but sweet.  Durable.

 

Frank No. 1    Frank Los Angeles         Fresh, clean, herbal, fruit > grape juice? little bit smoky.  Nice.  Not strong.  Not durable.  Unimpressive.

 

Frankincense — Essential oil.  Light, clean, woodsy, not much.  At first I could hardly smell it at all.  After about half an hour a beautiful smoky, wood fragrance emerges.  It is not strong, but it is marvelous.  An exhilarating surprise.

 

Frapin   Passion Boisee         Hard to describe.  Indistinct.  Dust, grass, not real strong.  Not interesting.

 

French Lavender —  Essential oil.  Fresh, clean, musky, very light at first but grows stronger and lasts all day.  Becomes spicy, little bit smoky.  Very pleasant.

 

Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur edp      Urine plus Vanilla

 

Fueguia 1833   Darwin    Fresh, clean, woodsy > pine,  nice,  good one   fairly durable   ++  I’m going to get this one.  Excellent.

 

Fueguia  1833     Otro Peoma de los Dones   Musky, dusky, rotting leaves, not much

 

Fueguia 1833    Pulperia         Grassy, pungent, sharp, smoky, different, not bad, sort of fresh and clean, interesting, not real durable  +

 

Givenchy Eau de Vetyver        Musty  Durable

 

Grey Flannel    Musky, pungent, little bit grassy, decomposing vegetation, Little bit stinking, little bit shit, musty, Smells like a horse barn, but without the sweetness of hay.  There is a vague medicinal quality, but it is very remote.  Becomes somewhat soapy.  Don’t really like this, but it is wearable.

Gucci Pour Homme  (2003)   Smoky, pungent, strong, but not overwhelming, use sparingly, durable.  Very good one.  Discontinued.  Has become expensive on the secondary market.   ++

Guerlain  Apres L’Ondee   Edt   Very fresh and clean, kind of spicy, earthy.  Little bit sweet.  Maybe a hint of citrus.  Well balanced.  Sort of womanish.  The sweetness seems to grow, but does not become too much.  The earthiness holds it in check.  I wouldn’t buy it, but it is very pleasant.  Fairly durable.  Luca Turin likes this one.  +

 

Guerlain  Bois  D’Armenie           Vanilla  Pleasant, sweet

 

Guerlain  Derby            Grassy, fresh, very light, hint of pine, not much

 

Guerlain  Jicky   EDP        Grassy, little bit pine, clean, light, unimpressive

 

Guerlain  Mitsouko   EDP       Musky >  Patchouli  Fresh, not strong, not impressive

 

Guerlain  Mitsouko   Edt        Little bit Pine, Little bit Musky, little bit horseshit, not real strong, not to my taste

 

Geurlain Sous le Vent        Stinks

 

Guerlain Vetyver          Stinks

 

 

Halston Z12  New bottle 08-14    Little grassy, little musky, little rough like sandpaper, not sweet, powdery, flowery, or perfumey at all.  Totally unwomanish.  Not real strong.  There’s a freshness to it.  Clean smelling but not soapy.  As it goes on becomes stronger and more pungent.  The freshness and lightness disappears.  I like it rather less after an hour or so.  Becomes detergent-like.  Astringent.   Very durable and exceedingly strong.  I don’t like this.  I think I am going to throw it out.

 

Helmut Lang Cuiron       Almost nonexistent.  Very light.  Pleasant.  Practically nothing.

 

Hermessence Poivre Samarchande    Nothing

 

Hermessence Vetiver Tonka    Light grassy, fresh, not durable

 

Histoires Parfums  1740     Woodsy, herbal, rotting vegetation, strong, not durable

 

Histoires Parfums 1899      Little spicy, maybe citrus, little musky,  not strong. Later spicy vanilla.  Pleasant.  Just a whisper.  Not strong, but has some durability.

 

Histoires Parfums  Vidi          Watery, soapy, little herbal, light.  Herbal grows stronger and later dominates.  Little bit spicy or smoky.  Durable.  Interesting mix, but too soapy for me.

 

Hyssop — Essential oil.  Turpentine, Eucalyptus, pungent.  Later softens, less astringent, vaguely sweet.  Rather nice.

 

Intoxicated  Killian   Little spicy, maple syrup, pancakes, not strong, not durable

 

Jean Paul Gautier Le Male —  Vanilla, womanish  don’t like it

 

Jo Malone Ambr & Lavender     Nothing special

 

Jo Malone  Lime Basil & Mandarin   Fruity, lime, clean, little bit sweet, on the light side, not impressed

 

Juniper — Essential oil.  Woodsy, musky, fresh, reminiscent of pine, but the muskiness and woodsiness give it a different character

 

Kinski  Eau de Toilette      chemicals, sweat, mildly offensive, vaguely fresh  durable

 

Kinski       Eau de Toilette            grassy, soapy, musky, hint of pine, rather pungent, not offensive, but not to my taste, after a while somewhat fresh, watery, not bad as a change of pace, fairly durable   Second try.  Do not like this.  Rancid.  Grassy.  Offensive.

 

Knize Ten    Grassy, little bit shit, or decomposing vegetation.  Pungent shit smell grows stronger with time.  Fortunately not real durable.

 

L’Art de la Guerre  Jovoy   Clean, minty, perhaps a little musky, not strong, not durable.  Not much.

 

Lanvin  Vetyver    Light, pleasant

 

Le Labo     Rose 31  (Complimentary)         Rose, little bit sweat, womanish, not real durable

 

Le Labo   Santl 33        Little grassy, little watery, little musky, fresh, not strong, not durable

 

L’occitane Vetyver      Light, almost nonexistent

 

Lubin Idole Edt         Nothing

 

Lubin   Korrigan       Musky, incense, rotting leaves, not strong, becomes softer, sweet, finally kind of powdery, womanish, durable.

 

MEMO    Quartieer Latin      Little bit sweet, flowery, musky, not strong.

 

MDCI Ambre Topkapi      Light  Citrus, Fresh  Not much

 

Mohave Ghost   Byredo Parfums    Herbal, little watery, little musky, light, not distinctive

 

Montale Dark Aoud          chemicals, detergent, but clean smelling   durable

 

Moroccan Myrrh — Essential oil.  Sweet, spicy, extremely light.  Can hardly smell it.  Later it emerges.  Sweet.  Maybe a little herbal.  Pleasant.   Fairly durable.

 

Narciso Rodriguez Musc for Him    Oily, grassy,  not much

 

Oakmoss — Essential oil. Musky, decaying vegetation, leaves, little bit watery.  Very light at first.  Pungent.  Does not emerge.  Not durable.  Very minimal.

 

Odin    10  Roam     Vanilla, sweet, musky, perfumey, not strong, not durable

 

Odin Tanoke         Grassy, charcoal, pungent  +

 

Old Spice    Spicy, somewhat smoky, subdued sweetness which emerges later on, pungent, clean and fresh, fairly durable.  One of my all time favorites.  Cheap, but very distinctive.  ++

 

Oregano — Essential oil.  smells like oregano, musty, heavy.  Not real durable.  Unimpressive.

 

Oriental Kush —  Essential oil.  Heavy, flowery, incense, sweet, kind of womanish.

 

Ormonde  Jayne Isfarkand   Very light, non existent

 

Oud  — Essential oil. Musky, dusky, little bit watery.  Not real strong.  Increases somewhat with time and becomes perhaps a little more pleasant.  Woody.

 

Parfum d’Empire Ambre Russe        Smoky, pungent, very durable   Excellent  + +

 

Parfum d’Empire    Fougere Bengale        Syrupy, little but smoky, not impressed

 

Parfumerie Generale   Arabian Horse        Leather, leaves, maybe wood.  There’s a softness to it.  Not bad.  Not strong.

 

Parfums MDCI    Le Barbier de Tanger     Musky, herbal, leaves, dusky, somewhat offensive at first.  Later the herbal grows stronger, slight fruitiness emerges.  Not strong, rather pleasant.

 

Paris LA   Lab on Fire       Citrus, lime, fresh, bright, little watery, maybe mint.  Becomes somewhat more watery, and sweeter, mild powder, but retains the citrus element.  Not particularly durable.  Nice but weak.

 

Pi by Givenchy      Very sweet, womanish, cheap, tacky, tasteless woman, vanilla.  Over much.  Can’t stand it.  Threw it out.

 

Prada Pour Homme            Spicy, little bit sweet, reminiscent of baby powder, but not offensive, very light, not durable, unimpressive

 

Profumum Eccelso          Light Pleasant  not durable or distinctive

 

Profumium Fumidus         Smells like rotting potato skins, then later turns smoky.  Not half bad.  Very durable.

 

Profumum  Olibdanum       Grassy  Musky  mildly offensive

 

Puig  Vetyver               Nothing  Unimpressive

 

Ramon  Monegal    Agar  Musk          fresh, light, grassy, watery, pleasant, not strong, very durable, don’t like it

 

Robert Piguet  Vintage Bandit  Edt   Grassy, motor oil, little bit shit, mildly offensive, not strong, not durable.

 

Rosemary — Essential oil.  Pungent > Turpentine or Eucalyptus, can feel in sinuses.  Not durable.  Not strong.

 

Rosewood — Essential oil.  At first nothing.  Couldn’t smell it.  Applied a moderate amount.  Once it is on the skin the scent begins to emerge.  A little bit pine, a little bit woody.  Fresh and clean.  Not real strong.  Seems to develop after a while.  Slight sweet smell emerges freshened by the woodiness.  Hint of anise could be left over from yesterday although I washed my neck well this morning.  Overall, nice, subtle.  Not a strong impact.

 

Salvatore Ferragamo Subtil Pour Homme        Fresh, clean, light, a little grassy.  Not durable.  Nothing special.

 

Salvador Dali  Purple Light         Mothballs, disinfectant.   Fairly durable.

 

Santal Carmin   Atelier Cologne     Smoky, incense, wysteria, very light at first.  Grows stronger and becomes somewhat powdery.  Pleasant, but too sweet and womanish for me.

 

Sassafras —  Essential oil.  When I was a kid, sometimes when we visited my cousin we would walk up on the wooded hill behind the town where he lived.  We would pull up sassafras saplings and cut the roots off them and bring them home to boil and make tea.  The tea was awful.  But the smell of the sassafras roots was wonderful.  It was a sweet, pungent, clean, woody fragrance.  This oil is nothing like that. It is like someone took that sassafras fragrance and painted over it with a translucent gray paint.  It is very muted and subdued compared to real sassafras.  It is reminiscent of pine and shoe leather.  It is clean, but not very strong, not real durable, and nothing like real sassafras which is exhilarating.

 

Serge Lutens    Ambre Sultan          Smoky,  incense, vanilla, little bit pungent, kind of sweet, womanish, at first I liked it but turned against it.  Arabie is better

 

Serge Lutens   Arabie     Strong, pungent, spicy, hint maple syrup, hint of leaves, pretty good.  Fairly durable +

08-08-14  A dark, rich, pungent fragrance.  Strong tea.  Maybe Anise covered w maple syrup or marmalade, a hint of apricot or pomegranate, something vaguely fruity, but way in the background, not pronounced.  Compelling.  Interesting.  Wonderful.  ++   A couple of websites that had this for sale called it “Arabie for Women.”  It does not say “for women” on the box it came in or on the label on the bottle.  I regard it as a masculine fragrance because of its depth, complexity, and richness, although I suppose a woman could wear it.  It would be sexy and alluring on a woman.

06-01-15    It has become one of my favorites.

 

Serge Lutens   Chergui    Musky, herbal, not strong, quickly gives way to soft powder.  Not durable.  Womanish.

 

Serge Lutens  De Profundis      Musty grassy repugnant

 

Serge Lutens    Enscense et Lavande      Light, fresh, clean.  Turns smoky.  Not very durable  +

 

Serge Lutens   Fleurs d’oranger    Strong floral fragrance. Didn’t get a strong scent of orange, maybe a subtle hint, but that’s all.  Beautiful fragrance.  I wouldn’t want to smell like this, but it would be gorgeous on a woman.  Very strong throughout the day.  +

 

Serge Lutens Fourreau Noir        Smoky, rather strong,  very durable,  compliment from a girl   ++

 

Serge Lutens  Gris Clair        Smoky quality that grows   +

 

Serge Lutens   La religieuse    Sweet Vanilla at first, but fades, light, has a hint of smoke or incense, but soft.  Not impressed.

 

Sergei Lutens Muscs Kublai Khan        Musky like dust not durable

 

Serge Lutens    Nuit de cellophane          Sweet, fresh, floral > Freesia, later a hint of citrus.  Rather interesting, pleasant.  Long lasting.  Rather strong.  I would never wear it.  Recommend it for a woman  +

 

Serpentine   Comme des Garcons       Medicinal, alcohol, little grassy, not much.

 

Sexiest Scent on the Planet Ever    Tuesdays      Musky, spicy, cloves, hint of mint.  Later on becomes smoky, clove scent grows, > incense.  Fairly durable.  I wouldn’t call this sexual but it is very good.  ++

 

Simply Belle (free sample)   Fresh, clean, watery, hint of smoke, little bit soapy.  Not bad.  I usually don’t like this kind of a fragrance, but I don’t mind this.  Soapiness increases as we go along — a negative.  Fairly durable.  +

 

S-Perfumes   S-ex      Fresh, clean, musky, woodsy, rather light,  vague hint of sweetness or flowers, hint of something herbal: maybe coriander, nutmeg, patchouli?   Grows stronger, rather spicy, interesting. +

 

Tauer  L’air du desert Moroccan            Pungent, not bad

 

Terre D’Hermes        Grassy, fresh, very light.  You have to use a goodly amount.  It does linger, becomes somewhat pungent.  Not half bad.

 

Tom Ford  Bois Morcaine       Light, grassy not much

 

Tom Ford Grey Vetiver — Grassy, light, not much, hardly noticeable

 

Tom Ford    Ombre Leather      Leather, pungent, little spicy, hint of citrus or floral emerges, interesting mix.  Pretty durable.  +

 

Tom Ford   Patchouli Absolu    Pungent, smoky, woodsy, strong, very nice, durable.  ++

 

Tom Ford   Private Blend Tobacco Vanilla         Strong vanilla odor  sweet  womanish    fairly durable

 

Tom Ford    Tobacco Vanille     Vanilla, leather, smoky.  Smokiness becomes stronger, softened by the vanilla.  It’s an interesting blend.  I wouldn’t want to wear it, but it is a well crafted fragrance.  Durability is moderate.

 

Tom Ford   Tuscan Leather          Strong leather and smoke.  I like it.  +

 

Tom Ford   Vert D’Encens      Grassy, smoky.  Not strong at first.  Smokiness grows.  Not to my taste.

 

True Lavender —  Essential oil.  Clean, herbal, little medicinal, somewhat pungent.  Evolves into smooth, polished blend.  Spicy, slightly sweet.  Very nice.

 

Une Nuit Magnetique  Different Company      Flowery plus rotting vegetation.  Sweet shit.  Interesting mix.  The sweetness is not overly so and held in check by the earthiness.  The whole thing is not very strong.  Not durable.  Rather weak.

 

Une Rose de Kandahar  Tauer          Floral, little bit smoky, little bit sweet.  Nice  Not strong. Turns powdery, but still retains some smokiness.  Not durable.

 

White Amber — Essential oil.  Practically nothing.  Musky, little watery.  Can hardly smell it.  Becomes more decisively watery.  Unimpressive.  Not durable.

 

Wit   Parfums Delrae            Clean, somewhat choking,  > moth balls, detergent, musky.  softens later, becomes less astringent, somewhat powdery.  Not terribly appealing, very durable.  Lasts all day.

 

Versace Blue Jeans   Very light, little bit sweet, little bit powdery,  little bit musky, not impressed.  Later, increasingly sweet and powdery.  Womanish.  Dislike.  Moderately durable     Threw it out.

 

Yves Saint Laurent Body Kouros      Smoky, but a little too sweet,  durable

 

Yves Saint Laurent La Nuit de la Homme — Smoky, spicy, rather light, not impressive