Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Men's Fragrances to Capture (This) Woman's Heart

Evaluating a masculine fragrance is always harder than evaluating a fragrance that is divested of its loaded semiotics of gender, or which appeals to my own femininity heads on. At least I can asses femininity first hand and dismiss the hyperbolic claims of modern advertising with a wave of a well-manicured hand. But what happens when the claims to "assured masculinity" (surely that has a genetic component, so it's not much of a choice most of the time) and "assertive fragility" (or any such oxymoron) are brandished in advertorials? Do they make sense, do they reflect themselves into the scents in question, do they influence my own response on them? The fact is that masculine fragrances, especially in the designer segmentation, are getting sweeter and sweeter by the minute, no doubt following modern ladies' launches which have familiarized modern women with an excessive amount of sugar. 
This, in and of itself, clashes violently with the butch, macho images that sometimes accompany these fragrant launches and confuse me. Other times they're tongue in cheek, and when sprinkled with a good dosage of spices, I get intrigued and in rapt attention despite the sweetness. They're literally tens of fragrances aimed at the more assertive (so the stereotype goes...) sex which I love and would jump the bones of...from Santos de Cartier Cartier (vintage), L'Instant de Guerlain pour Homme Guerlain, Habit Rouge Eau de Toilette Guerlain, and the classic freshness of Vetiver Guerlain, to the subtlety and finesse of Eau de Monsieur Annick Goutal, Equipage Geranium Hermès, all the way to Encre Noire Lalique and the powdery orientalist of Noir eau de parfum (for men) by Tom Ford.
But in general I find myself revering to more retro fragrances when opting to embrace a masculine side. Oddly enough, these are also the ones which make me want to wear them on myself too, with few exceptions. 


Givenchy Gentleman (1974) by Givenchy 
One of the best examples of this is the vintage edition of  Gentleman (1974) Givenchy, a fragrance so seismically changed in the reformulation of the new edition, that it is an entirely different fragrance bearing the same name., i.e. Gentleman (2017) Givenchy. The former is patchouli heaven for those who appreciate that hippie note in their scented grooming, but it is the coalescence with the Cuir de Russie leathery, tarry aspects (bitter facets with sharp citric nuances, and a smattering of earthy civet) and with trickled honey that makes it truly irresistible. Gentleman by Givenchy blooms and blooms on my own skin, and it's even more ravishing and irresistible, if you can believe it, on masculine skin thanks to its generally higher surface temperature. It's one of those retro fragrances that makes me wonder "What were they thinking?" when the news of the change reached me. If you have a bottle of this vintage in your arsenal, consider yourselves lucky indeed. Just don't over-spray, it's a man of few words. 


Antaeus by Chanel 
Everyone mentions Egoiste Chanel when women and masculine fragrances are uttered in the same breath, but I find that the under-rated Antaeus Chanel is the better example. Thankfully Antaeus is among the releases in current production, and although it's a bit thinned out compared with its glorious past, it's still very good, tremendously sexy, and assertively powerful. Its trail of animalic warmth, thanks to a generous helping of castoreum with a subtle vanillic undercurrent, which matches exceptionally well with the labdanum resin, almost makes it moan with pleasure. In fact in blind tests when fragrance consulting with women it never fails to raise that "oh my" reaction with the ladies fanning themselves...
There is an important component of aromatics in the mid-section which temper the animalic oomph and make it escape the modern hysteria for bodily odors. It might be this which makes me comfortable in wearing it myself, to high compliments, I might add. This 1981 creation by Jacques Polge is among the very best in the Chanel portfolio and that's saying something. 


Dior Homme for men by Christian Dior
Never mind that Dior Homme is everywhere, that it is one of the most interesting masculine releases of the last decade, and its flanker fragrances are also excellent, because the formula brings a most unusual iris root note, halfway between face powder or retro lipstick and dusty dried flowers, into an otherwise masculine formula. It doesn't surprise me that many women love it and love wearing it themselves; it's the most approachable from the lot. The iris in Dior Homme alternatively takes on facets of soft skin powder, like the one used in hipster barbershops, of powdered cocoa, and of ambery starch. It's a soft, soft, sooooft fragrance but it retains a hint of freshness, which I consider a very enticing and key component in fragrance in general. You don't want to be totally smothered into a cotton cocoon, after all, when in a social rendez-vous, you want to be able to breathe and appreciate the (hopefully handsome) view. 

Monday, October 7, 2019

Bottega Veneta Eau de Velours: fragrance review

Bottega Veneta Eau de Velours from 2017, with a seductive name that evokes caresses with the softest materials, is a lasting, worthwhile specimen in the family of Bottega Veneta fragrances. Maybe even more lasting than the first eponymous release, Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum!

via Pinterest

For this very plummy flanker fragrance, which was a limited edition to begin with, we have a presentation in – you guessed it – velvet ribbon caressing the neck of the bottle, substituting the subtle kink of the strip of leather which encircled the neck of the original Eau de Parfum in a bit of tasteful fetish wear.

Those of you who do not like the actual bitter facets of leather fragrances, but instead long for the plush and the decadent sense of luxury that leather suggests, will find this rosier and softer version, Eau de Velours, by perfumers Michel Almairac and Mylen Alran, more to your liking. The leathery core is here, too, but don't fool yourself that it's a defanged mass scent of musks and fruits sprinkled with sanitized patchouli and ready for its close up like so many others. It's definitely close to the original, but the softness, with an interlay of starched iris, makes it less sharp, less androgynous, more comely, and I'm afraid a little bit more "middle of the road," if such a term like that can be applied for the Bottega Veneta fragrance line at all (which i'm sure it can't, but you get what I'm saying).

Eau de Velours is a prime example of those fragrances fit to scent one's autumn scarf – very close to the body, but rising with the body temperature to mingle with one's skin chemistry and becoming one's own. Sensuous but in control, it's commanding attention where you don't need to raise your voice or your eyebrows to make your salient point. Good going, Bottega Veneta!

Related reading on the PerfumeShrine: 
Bottega Veneta fragrance reviews and news
Leather Fragrances Series: a Complete Guide on Leather in Perfumery
How to Seduce with your Perfume
Chypre Perfumes for Newbies

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Estee Lauder Sensuous Noir: fragrance review

This discontinued gem is shining in a deep purple bottle of sumptuous line that would match a wonderful smoky eye that looks so at ease on an autumnal night out. Sensuous Noir takes the good parts of Lauder's Sensuous (that idea of woody notes enhancing the natural scent of the skin) and taking it up a notch, adding patchouli with its dark sweetness interlaced like a shadow on said skin. More voluptuous, more intense, more sensual than the original version of Sensuous, the second version by Estee Lauder - Sensuous Noir includes characteristic wooden tones, an abstract floral hint and soft aromas of cozy oriental balsams that carry the entire composition.

Sensuous Noir has a stronger, more intoxicating and more seductive scent than the prior fragrance by Estee Lauder with half the same name, although the latter is also quite sensuous and silky and worth your time and money.

The top notes include a floral blend of purple rose, jasmine, rose oil, black pepper and spices. The heart focuses on the warm wooden notes, typical for this scent, with the use of the innovative Nature Print technology. The smell of "dissolved wood" in the concept, generated by pine tree and guaiac wood merging, was captured exactly by this technology, and used as a seductive note that was first used as a sensory note and complemented by the innovative Noir cream, lily flowers and patchouli notes. The base notes include benzoin, amber and soft vanilla with an amber overall scent. The final feeling is one of absolute self-confidence!

Please visit Estee Lauder fragrance reviews and news on the PerfumeShrine.com using this link.

Dior Diorella: the Peach, the Peach, the Peach is on Fire.

photo copyright by Elena Vosnaki

Read my fragrance review of Christian Dior's Diorella on this link.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental: Tendrils of Earthy Green

photo copyright Elena Vosnaki

I cannot shake the impression that the task of scaling down, of attenuating the formula of Vetiver Oriental to the richness and sumptuousness of the material's roots is an algebraic challenge, a piano étude aimed at perfecting a specific agilité that is not in tune with the Lutensian way of usual opulence. And yet...and yet the result speaks in hushed, nocturnal voices of a decadent drawl; a few chiseled citrusy consonants, a little rubbery-smoky with the rosiness of gaiacwood, surprisingly sweet-spoken licorice-like (deriving from lots of anisaldehyde) with the earthy bitter edge of dry cocoa and loads and loads of polished woods, almost laminated... Read my full on fragrance review of Vetiver Oriental by Serge Lutens on THIS link.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

The Tender Music of Guerlain Chant d'Aromes

Photograph copyright by Elena Vosnaki

Chant d’Arômes does not aim to be a link in the Guerlain chain, but making a fresh, ever young start it takes us into the realm of the eternally sunny. Although officially classified as a chypre floral by Guerlain, I find that its chypré qualities do not make it difficult, but on the contrary it serves as the perfect choice between floral and chypre for those who do not like the extremes of either category. Its innocence fondles the mystery of youth.

It's the perfect sweet melding of summer into autumn.
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