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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Vetyver Nothing special
Creed Green Irish Tweed — Grassy, Fresh, clean, later spicy. Durable. Nice one. ++
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
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.
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 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
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 Fourreau Noir Smoky, rather strong, very durable compliment from a girl ++
Serge Lutens Gris Clair Smoky quality that grows +
Sergei Lutens Muscs Kublai Khan Musky like dust not durable
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 Patchouli Absolu Pungent, smoky, woodsy, strong, very nice, durable. ++
Tom Ford Private Blend Tobacco Vanilla Strong vanilla odor sweet womanish fairly durable
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