Review: Etat Libre d’Orange Putain des Palaces — 4.0 points

I leave the English translation out of this one, as I am sure you are able to figure it out and connect the dots between the name and the perfume. I would rather stick to the more elegant sounding French name as the perfume evokes a fantasy of powder puffs, rouge, and a coquettish figure wearing them.

Putain des Palaces (Etat Libre d’Orange, 2007), at its core, is a classical cosmetic rose. It is dominated by the familiar notes of violet and rose. It starts out with the cold sugar crystals of violets and warms up to the honeyed sweetness of rose. The lambent rice powder provides the vanity table experience.


But if it were just a well-executed cosmetic rose, Putain des Palaces would not be nearly as interesting—after all, cosmetic roses are a dime a dozen. Drôle de Rose (L’Artisan Parfumeur, 1996) and Lipstick Rose (Frédéric Malle, 2000), as examples, easily come to mind. Instead, its creator, perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer, opts for a twist that sets the story apart. The hint of soft leather is almost as if to suggest that this is the inside of a cosmetic bag, storing down powder puffs, lipsticks, and scented talcum. Then, cumin adds a subtly risqué element to it. The sweaty, animalic note of this spice is the perfect foil for the sweetness of the violet and the rose; it insinuates a delicate pleasure of the flesh.

The dry down of rosy powder puffs juxtaposed to an animalic spice is elegant yet sultry. Its powdery aspect is airy and dry, unlike many powdery accords that tend to be opaque with dense, musky finish. Putain des Palaces is classically feminine at first, but the dusky animalic vibe of cumin keeps the sweet flowers grounded enough to feel unisex, and I can imagine layering it with dark incense and woods, especially with its comparable tenacity.

Source: fineartamerica

Review: Guerlain Vétiver — 5.0 points

Vétiver (Guerlain) is a paradoxical tour de force. The astounding amount of vetiver oil is dressed up with ingredients that extend the natural facets so that the sum, despite ornamentation, still feels minimalistic. At the time of its creation in 1959 when complex, opulent perfumes were de rigueur, its pared down approach was far ahead of its time.

Jean-Paul Guerlain skilfully orchestrated the composition to highlight the juxtaposition of bright and dark aspects in vetiver. The lingering bitterness, a character shared also by grapefruit, dominates at the start and is cleverly pushed by citrus. The liquorice aspect is enhanced by spicy-sweet clove. The dark smoky woods complemented by mossy notes. It is essentially vetiver but with its contrasting facets amplified so that it feels almost baroque.


Personally, I love its suave character. The pairing of the spicy-sweet, fruity note of cloves with a floral note creates the impression of a white carnation boutonière pinned to the left lapel of a suit. Likewise, the combination of sweet spices, smoky woods, and floral conjures up the multiple facets of tobacco. It is a vetiver with a panache and great tenacity.

Combining the rich aesthetics of a grand parfum and the uncluttered clarity of a modern composition, Vétiver feels timeless. And, I would reach for it whenever I want to feel the rich complexity of the woods effortlessly.

Source: Parfum de Pub

Review: 27 87 Elixir de Bombe — 4.0 points

In this era where syrup and fruit salad dominate the market, another gourmand fragrance will have a hard time catching attention. That was exactly my thought upon the first spritz of Elixir de Bombe (2016) created by perfumer Mark Buxton for the Barcelona-based niche perfume house 27 87. But the more I wear it, the more it grows on me, as it shifts from a plain, sweet bonbon to a master’s confection with the manifold nuances and flavours.

Elixir de Bombe is one of those fragrances that needs some test wear to be certain that you love it. It is brazenly sweet; the opening already gives the impression of syrup. But the sweetness is foiled by pink pepper and ylang ylang that brightens the accord, and these are soon joined by ginger. The warm spice is an elegant solution to countering the sweetness, and its employment here is similar to that in balancing the floral sweetness of ylang ylang in Eau Mohéli (Diptyque, 2013). Still dominated by sweetness, it gets more exciting with herbal, gingery, earthy, and resinous facets that it feels like being taken on a technicolour ride with a harlequin.


Then, dry amber takes centre stage and plays a crucial role in the dry down. It balances out the syrupy sweetness and sets a dusky tone to the composition. The resinous warmth of labdanum, the powdery touch, the leathery accent, and the spicy effect form a complex counterpoint to the sticky sweetness of toffee. This is the part that grows on me, and it lasts and lasts.

The gourmand character of sticky crème caramel that goes hand in hand with complex amber is fun and sophisticated. It is a feat to dose the caramel with such a heavy hand whilst orchestrating opposing elements skilfully to tame the sweetness. It is intensely sweet, especially in the beginning, but the effect—unlike the heft of gourmands such as Angel (Thierry Mugler, 1992) or Casmir (Chopard, 1992)—is intimate, polished, and unisex enough. So, unless you have put a ban on all perfumes sweet, give this intrepid fellow a try. Love it or hate it, a character like this does not leave you indifferent.

Source: 27 87 Perfumes

Review: by Kilian Noir Aphrodisiaque — 4.5 points

Chocolate is a challenging note. The sweet chocolate with which we are familiar is created with the help of vanillin, a principle odorant of vanilla that is used to flavour chocolate, but tuning that up alone would make for an intensely sweet milky bar. The rich overtones of fruits, flowers, spices, and woods are needed to bring out a grand cru chocolate, but the dense note of cocoa can also mask these, leaving the composition flat. For this reason, I am amazed by the sumptuous chocolate accord in Noir Aphrodisiaque (by Kilian, 2016) replete with complexity and glow.


The subtle layers of notes add to the nuances of dark chocolate, making it rich and decadent. Bergamot, juicy lemon, and citron provide a bright prelude that quickly makes way for the confection. Chilly iris lends its cool, dusty texture of chocolate, whilst fruity jasmine bestows its voluptuous, narcotic scent.  A dusting of cinnamon serves as a spicy contrast that balances the languorous richness. It feels as though I had just had a bite into Choc-Abricot of Sprüngli: the dried apricots reveal their intense fruity and floral notes wrapped in bitter-sweet chocolate from Santo Domingo cacao.

These largely confer refinements to the chocolate, but the secret to a bitter chocolate impression lies in patchouli. Its warm, woody, balsamic facet is the perfect foil for the chilly, dusty iris, and its diffusiveness helps lift the composition. The effect is similarly observed in Dior Homme (2005), Coromandel (Chanel, 2007), and Borneo 1834 (Serge Lutens, 2005).

As it develops, it furthers explores the nuances and becomes most addictive. The bitter chocolate impression led by patchouli is softened by creamy and tantalising smoky notes. Here, sandalwood provides the milky chocolat chaud fantasy and tonka bean lends the sweetness and warmth of toasted almonds. The dark woody tang contrasted by a mellow baked good suggestion keeps the dry down engaging and airy.

Perfumer Calice Becker authored Noir Aphrodisiaque, and her signature luminosity and layered complexity are telltale.  It is chocolate from beginning to end, but it does not feel dense and flat. Instead, it peels away in layers to reveal nuances of citrus, floralcy, spice, wood, and vanillic sweetness. It is polished and each transition seamless. I can imagine wearing it at just about any occasion; it is just as alluring and elegant.


Review: Etat Libre d’Orange Delicious Closet Queen – 3.0 points

First of all, do not dismiss a fragrance because of its name! With Delicious Closet Queen (Etat Libre d’Orange, 2007), there is nothing cheap about it—well, other than the name. In fact, the fragrance is a skilfully balanced accord of leather with rugged and soft elements. It is an interesting twist to the theme, even if I find the overall composition still a little too tame.


Created by perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer, the main impression is leather. However, when brightened with citrusy aldehydic notes in the top and modified with a measure of violet, a dash of rose, and raspberry, it acquires a sweet, plush character. But depending on your personal association, the sweetness can be an interesting accent or a turn-off; admittedly, there are times when I find it rather pungent.

But luckily, as it develops, the composition turns warmer and acquires a rough-hewn, dusky character. The fruity sweetness belies a dense amber marked by a spicy balsamic note, perhaps of opoponax. The roughness is softened by sandalwood and cedarwood, a combination of powdery, soft woody note that courses through the composition until the dry down.

I wish that, with a name like Delicious Closet Queen, it would pack more punches. The overall impression is still a soft suede. The dry down bears resemblance of Eau de Cèdre (Armani, 2015). It is tame enough to be spritzed daily for an office and has good lasting power.


Review: Jour d’Hermès — 2.5 points

I like the dawn Jean-Claude Ellena has painted in Jour d’Hermès (2013). I admire his ability to create magical, shape-shifting illusions, and he does right by that promise in Jour d’Hermès.  It is lovely—in the first try in any case. The more I wear it, however, the more I find it increasingly difficult to enjoy.

On the face of it, the promise of dawn in Jour d’Hermès is delightful. It comes as an abstract sunny bouquet, coloured by the various shades of blooms. The green crunch of hyacinth paves the way for solar ylang ylang and lemony rose. As it develops, the floral mélange turns more indolic white-floral in character, most recognisable as sweet orange blossoms. I feel as though I were looking at these flowers through a kaleidoscope, as one blossom morphs into another.


I can almost begin to paint a sunny morning, with opening flower buds and green leaves, if not for the penetrating floral note that detracts me from that fantasy. I begin to notice this aspect some ten minutes into the development, and it becomes more recognisable during each subsequent wear. This particular quality is redolent of La Roche-Posay Anthelios sunscreen. My fantasy of dawn suddenly turns into a stifling hot afternoon at a crowded beach with hundreds of sun bathers and the scents of sunscreen permeating the air, bombarding my nostrils.

Then, there is also the dense musky dry down that clings to skin. This is a departure from the transparency that marks many of his creations and I relish. Even if it confers good lasting power, I find it opaque and humdrum.

It would be lovely and enjoyable for me, if not for the impression of a sticky sunscreen and the monotonous dry down that does little to steer me away from that notion. But then again, this is personal. Perhaps, I may be at fault for having been using the sunscreen too much in the summer that the association is difficult to shake.