May Top Ten

Current top ten, based on frequency of wear over the past month or so:

1: Creed Green Irish Tweed – Perfect in almost any weather. The only problem is I have to stop myself from sniffing my wrists.
2: Kenzo Once Upon a Time Pour Homme – A subtle fresh woody scent that works all the time, with above average longevity. And the bottle looks really cool.
3: Montale Full Incense – I’ve been on an incense binge, fueled by this scent. Similar to Heeley Cardinal, but unlike that one, Full Incense is alive!
4: Montale Moon Aoud – I got this on sale at Luckyscent, and from my first wearing was overwhelmed by its sheer complexity.
5: Creed Aventus – I love the smokey pineapple top-notes, but I wore this while having historically bad allergies, so I never caught the drydown.
6: Aloes of Ish Royale de Ish – A dry, smoky, rich oudh-based attar. Baroque.
7: Aloes of Ish Black Oudh – Similar to Montale’s Black Aoud, but darker and less transparent.
8: Le Labo Rose 31 – One of my all-time favorites, ever since I bought a bottle in Tokyo after getting lost in Daikanyama. Spicy rose and incense.
9: Profumum Olibanum – Green citrus over incense. The first incense-centered fragrance that made me really appreciate the accord.
10: Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque – Spicy, rich tobacco.

Honorable mentions go to Kilian Back in Black and Parfums de Nicolai New York.

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The Fragrance Shop – Part 1

The Fragrance Shop produces fragrance oils and toiletries. Their creations fall into three broad creative categories: single notes, original blends, and ‘designer-type’ blends. They first appeared on my radar in a Basenotes thread, as they appeared to offer an alternative to Creed’s Green Irish Tweed without the drawbacks, namely high price and significant batch variation (i.e. lack of quality control, spun by the PR types as the result of using lots of natural ingredients… somehow no other house seems to have such issues on a similar scale).

The Fragrance Shop offers a sample pack – you choose up to five scents and then receive a discount (the price of the sampler) on the purchase of a full bottle. Taking advantage of this allowed me to try a fairly wide range of the Fragrance Shop’s offerings without too much effort. Notes for the ‘designer-type’ scents I’ve tried are here; single-note and original compositions will come later.

Green Irish Tweed – Compared to the original, the citrus top-notes are less prominent. The violet leaf and iris heart is very prominent and long-lasting, and unlike the samples I’ve had of the original, the ambergris and sandalwood base can be noticed. This seems to have much better longevity as well. [***]

Millesime Imperial – I’m not sure of my batch of actual MI, but this is very nearly identical. The Fragrance Shop oil seems a bit less heavy on the melon, but lasts longer than the Creed spray. When I run out of my current juice, this is a prime candidate for its replacement. [**1/2]

Gucci Envy – This one seemed to change over two wearings. The first made it seem an aquatic in the generic Boss/CK mold. In the second, it came across as more of an oriental. [not rated]

Terre d’Hermes – This is spot on for the parfum concentration of TdH. While the vetiver base in the EdT comes across as very flinty, the parfum is smooth and luxurious, while somehow maintaining the minerality of the EdT. This is very similar, but the orange top-notes linger for a lot longer. [**1/2]

Tobacco Vanille – Vanilla and spices dries down to tobacco, similar to the original, but with slightly more linear. The beauty of this fragrance is in its simplicity. [**1/2]

Potpourri of Woods and Incense

Comme des Garçons x Monocle Hinoki – Green spicy woody topnotes, dries a bit as it dries down. More linear than Odin 07 Tanoke, but still a wonderful scent. [**1/2]

Divine l’Homme Sage – At first, not as show-stopping as I initially recalled. The fruit (mostly lychee), saffron and cardamom provides an interesting opening and blends quickly with the immortelle, which comes to the forefront of the scent. Amber, patchouli, oakmoss and incense are notable in their supporting roles in the slightly powdery drydown, and this is where it begins to shine. A very well blended scent that seems to defy description on any one of its components and is often more than their sum. [** 1/2]

Montale Full Incense – Wonderful incense. Darker and slightly less green than Profumum Olibanum. Almost soapy, full labdanum foundation. Dries down to a rich, decadent amber and incense blend. [***]

Montale Moon Aoud – Immediately rosy and soapy, with a faint medicinal oud note. As this settles, creamy sandalwood and saffron join in. In the drydown, this resembles a more elegant, subtle Black Aoud. It lacks the transparency of the latter’s rose, as well as the rose and tar image, but the subtlety and elegance make a compelling case for this in its own right. After everything settles (maybe ten minutes), this is a light rose over a leather-tar(oud)-sandalwood-musk combination. All of the notes seem to swim around each other, with great longevity. Very attractive. [***]

Odin 07 Tanoke – Topnotes of a dry spicy orange mixed with ginger, hints of nutmeg, pepper and smoke mingle well with redwood, cedar and gaiacwood. A slight hint of sweet patchouli mingles as well. In the drydown, some smoky incense increases the complexity of the blend. Awesome. [***]

Ulrich Lang Anvers II – Hints of green herbs and geranium are overwhelmed by some cloying candied sweetness (basil and rhubarb?). This sweetness persists although it lessens as the drydown continues, but it overrides any other changes that might be occurring. One word that springs to mind: cacophony. [*]

Zirh Ikon – Spicy, citrucy incense on the top, drying down to more spicy incense. Slightly cold synthetic edge dampens what is otherwise a great scent. Definitely assertive and somewhat aggressive, but dries down to something more refined. [*1/2]

Mona di Orio Les Nombres d’Or

Mona Di Orio Ambre – Interesting mix of floral and citrus topnotes, all blended together with a very powdery amber. This is very rich and powdery, a bit on the sweet side. Picks up some green notes on the drydown, blending in with some woods for depth and dryness. An opulent take on amber. [**1/2]

Mona Di Orio Oud – Starts off with oud funk and slight citrus. Dries down to a rich, mysterious osmanthus and faint oud blend. At once, it is woody, leathery, slightly animalic, ambery, and musky. [***]

Mona Di Orio Vetyver – Green spicy citrus accord on top, similar to Guerlain Vetiver. As it dries down, ginger, nutmeg, and musk come to the fore. A very nice entry in a genre filled with poor ones. [**1/2]

La Collection Privee de Christian Dior

Dior Ambre Nuit – Smooth and creamy throughout. Starts off slightly rummy (I’ve seen favorable comparisons to Kilian’s Straight to Heaven), with a bit of rich orange and a hint of bright patchouli. A touch of fruit and roses joins the mix before sandalwood and birch seem to blend in with the amber. As far as ambers go, this is very elegant and could work well in warm weather. [***]

Dior Bois d’Argent – Everything I hoped Odin 03 Century would be. Honeyed birch over a dark muted patchouli. The honey and patchouli combine for the faintest sweetness and beeswax. Doesn’t seem to project a ton. [** 1/2]

Dior Cologne Royale – Classic AdC. Light herbs and airy dry citrus over a soft herb and musk base. Very natural smelling, but fairly conventional. [**]

Dior Granville – Wonderful herbal citrus opening with a bit of minty eucalyptus lift that takes over the heart. This then dries down to a more standard amber-woody base, but the eucalyptus leaves its mark. Wonderful, but longevity is suspect. [**]

Dior Milly-la-Foret – Orange blossom, iris, jasmine, musk, sandalwood. Soft touch. [**]

Dior Mitzah – Amber, incense, patchouli. A sweet oriental, with amber cloaked in honey, rose and high-toned patchouli dominating the topnotes. Picks up some spices as it dries down to a soft patchouli base, but incense doesn’t seem to really show itself. Interesting, and definitely unisex. [**1/2]

Dior New Look 1947 – Tuberose, Ylang ylang, Iris, Damask rose, Sambac jasmine, Peony, Vanilla, Benzoin Lots of tuberose on the top – soft powdery floral. The focus of the florals seems to shift as this dries down, eventually settling on a pure rose and jasmine. [**]

Dior Patchouli Imperial – Bright patchouli with an orange twist on the top, dries down to a muted patchouli with a distinctively soapy vibe. Interesting, but nothing too special. [*1/2]

Dior Vetiver – Topnotes are green, soapy and slightly citrusy, although this is less spicy than Guerlain’s rendition. Somewhat simple and linear; a quality addition to an overcrowded genre. [*1/2]