Friday, 7 October 2011

Review: The Disappointments (2011)

Here's something that doesn't happen very often: I don't have a perfume I'd like to review this week. To be more precise, I've got plenty which I could review, but none that I feel inclined to review. Allow me to expand...

In my tireless attempts to record my thoughts on what I consider to be either a) the best, b) the most important or c) the most notable perfume releases, I end up trying a large number of new fragrances. Some of these pass the initial elimination round and qualify for Stage 2 of my selection process (stop laughing, this is a serious business) which essentially means that I try them on my own skin for at least two (and quite often three) days. I also inflict them upon the flesh of Madame P and various other relatives and friends who happen to be in the vicinity of my study on any given day. As you'll appreciate, this means my 'perfume research' must, by necessity, be carried out several weeks before a review actually appears here on Normally, this doesn't pose a problem because there's enough temporal slack in the system to allow for a few days of wearing un-reviewable duds. But on this particular occasion, the slack has run out and I find myself with nothing that I consider worthy of your attention.

Having said that, you know what I'm going to do now, don't you? Yes indeed, I am going to name and shame some of the culprits who have failed to push my prose buttons. I realise it may be cruel of me to mention them: after all, many have been produced by companies that don't hide the fact that they are not in the business of making art, which would suggest that it might be unfair to judge them alongside creations with higher ambitions. But this week, the Fragrant Fates appear to have decided that I have no choice but to fill my weekly review spot with names like... oh, let's just pull one out of the hat, shall we? How about CK One Shock For Her? I'd love to hear from someone who actually sees any point in this being released. It initially displays a mint and apple sheesha accord, but then the chemicals take over and reduce the whole to nothingness. The For Him version seems to have been well received by the blogosphere, and whilst I concede that its amber drydown may be pleasant, there's no sense of character or individuality at any stage of its development.

Another newcomer that has found many fans on the net is Mona Di Orio's Oud. Sadly, I can't say I share the excitement. It's mis-named and its central osmanthus accord lacks the refinement and contrasts one would hope to find in a release with such a hefty price tag. I gave it plenty of chances to win me over, but it failed each time. Mind you, it didn't offend me in the same way as Diesel's Loverdose. A noxious, mono-dimensional mess of damp woods, it provided more proof (if more were needed) that smells can truly be depressing. "Have paracetamol handy when wearing," I wrote of it in my notebook. Sage advice.

Francis Kurkdjian's Le Parfum for Elie Saab is rather odd as it's basically a tamer version of his is-it-or-isn't-it discontinued Fleur Du Male for Gaultier. In other words, it's an orange blossom over a lavender-heavy, fougere-like accord... which, yes, does smell as masculine as it sounds. I suppose the gender-bending strategy is interesting, but not interesting enough, if you ask me.

The best of this lot is probably Douglas Hannant from Robert Piguet. After I recovered from the giggles induced by the Harvey Nichols sales assistant demanding that I smell it because "it's by the most stylish man in the whole world," I was overcome by a vision of Joan Collins with large hair and larger shoulder pads, spouting inane dialogue on a glossy American soap opera. Yup, you guessed it: this is an unabashed attempt at an 80s revival scent, complete with tuberose and massive, peachy fruit. It doesn't quite hold its own partly because it's too similar to vintage Poison, and partly because it gives in to the temptation to include a clean facet that smells more 90s than 2010s. Still, some might find it worth trying.

And I'm afraid that's all for today, folks. Fingers crossed, normal service will be resumed next week. Until then, I'd love to know what you thought of any or all of the above. Don't hold back now.

[Samples of some of these scents provided in 2011 by and Mona Di Orio.]



  1. I enjoy reading negative reviews as much as positive ones, so am glad you had this lull to fill. I remember when you threw the question to the floor as to whether you should critique perfumes you didn't care for or just focus on the ones you did.

    Anyway, I recently tried Fleur du Male and didn't like the lavender fougere-y accord, which seemed quite prominent to my nose. I am however, as you may know, a big fan of Elie Saab and don't detect the commonality you mention. I wouldn't have thought I'd like Elie Saab as much as I do if it had even a hint of the barber's shop about it, but stranger things have happened in my taste development! : - )

  2. Out of all perfumes you ... emm... not reviewed here today I tried only Elie Saab - and even that only because of Vanessa who wrote a great story about her hunt for samples of this perfume. And though I do not care at all for it I have to express how surprised I am with your description of it. Not for a second I thought of it even as of a unisex scent - let alone a masculine one. But then I keep re-reading your review for Santal 33 every time I test it - and still have doubts if we were smelling the same perfume! ;-)

  3. Don't you just miss the 80's (perfumewise) sometimes?

  4. Vanessa, I suppose a bit of 'reviewing breathing space' isn't a bad thing at all.

    I daresay the Elie Saab will be enjoyed by many. I love Fleur Du Male, and that doesn't have a particularly large number of fans.

  5. Undina, I suppose lots of people wouldn't consider Fleur Du Male to be overtly masculine (the orange blossom note is very sweetly floral)... so I'm not sure where that leaves us as far as the Elie Saab is concerned.

    Thanks for re-reading my Le Labo review, by the way. Maybe one day we'll be able to smell the same sample together and settle the doubts.

  6. Memoryofscent, yes, I suppose I do sometimes... but only sometimes ;-)

  7. I agree that it's nice to read about the disappointments as well as the successes. Of those you list here, I have only tried CK One Shock for Her, which was shockingly awful, and the Elie Saab, which was not my style. I'm interested in the Piguet, though.

  8. Anotherperfumeblog, the Piguet is probably worth trying, if you've got room in your collection for something decidedly retro.

  9. I'm also a fan of a disparaging review now and then. As a repeated reader of Perfumes: The Guide I do enjoy some of Luca and Tania's waspish comments (guilty pleasure no.546). :)
    I think it's as important to know what a writer doesn't like as what they do like. It gives you a better picture of what their tastes are and where yours overlaps with theirs.
    I know that if certain people say 'me no likey', I won't put that frag at the top of my 'must try' list, however, if others hate it, I might well enjoy it. Funnily enough, Luca Turin is one of the latter - I dislike a fair number of his 5 star fumes and adore a few of his zeros. I still enjoy reading what he writes though. :)

    By the way, I had a sniffaswap with some non-perfumista friends recently and to a woman they all said 'too strong, too strong' about perfumes I thought were incredibly mild, fresh and light. Lord only knows what they'd make of some of my big boppers!

  10. Wordbird, we must have different editions of the book, because there isn't anything particularly waspish on page 546 of mine.

    Ultimately, there will always be a huge amount of subjectivity in perfume appreciation. If you've read Chandler Burr's The Emperor Of Scent, you'll be aware that Turin himself couldn't really give a satisfactory answer to objectivity vs subjectivity debate.

  11. I love reading your reviews! Thank you for posting them.

    Of those mentioned, I rather liked Elie Saab. I didn't know Mr. Kurkdjian was the nose there(I'm a fan of Acqua Universalis.) While I got quite a bit of orange blossom which I happen to like, I didn't get much lavender. Nevertheless, it's beautiful and perfect for summer - I had to buy a bottle.

    1. Elle, thanks very much for your kind words. The Elie Saab has turned out to be quite popular, and I believe it's also won quite a few awards.


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