Friday, 30 August 2013

Persolaise Review: Made To Measure from Gucci (perfumer unknown; 2013)

I often wonder if some perfume manufacturers enjoy having a laugh at our expense. It's the kind of straw-grasping idea that pops into my head when I try to understand the existence of a scent like Gucci's new Made To Measure. It is so utterly generic, so completely predictable, so resolutely dull that I can't help thinking it could only have been the result of a joke. Maybe it's part of some secret competition to see who can inflict the most boring fragrance upon the mainstream. Perhaps the 'creatives' at Procter & Gamble and Gucci actually enjoy the challenge of trying to convince the world that a masculine scent structure we've all come across countless times before (a 'fresh' citrus top with a synthetically spicy heart and a base of unremarkable ambery woods) is, in fact, original and innovative. I'm probably being far too cynical. Nobody's sense of humour could be that cruel, right? But then... take another look at the name... and feel your heart sink as everything falls into place. Made To Measure is a moniker dripping with quantities of irony vast enough to have caused Shakespeare to gnash his teeth with envy. This stuff is anything but made to measure: it is the very definition of 'one size fits all'. So yes, well done to those folks who will no doubt cackle all the way to the bank after having pulled the wool over the eyes of hapless consumers by spinning some yarn about "judiciously selected ingredients from around the world" and the "Gucci philosophy of attention to detail". I hope they give themselves a hearty pat on the back and tell each other how clever they are. Personally, I don't find this particular joke funny any more. And I certainly don't think this scent measures up in any way whatsoever. Gucci: it's time for you to find a new yardstick.

[Review based on a sample of eau de toilette provided by Gucci in 2013.]


Friday, 23 August 2013

Persolaise Review: Eau De Monsieur from Annick Goutal (Annick Goutal / Camille Goutal & Isabelle Doyen; 1980/2013)

Wow! Cover me with slices of lemon and sprinkle me with a pinch of salt. Eau De Monsieur is back. Sadly, I never had a chance to smell the original version of this fizzy, sherbety creation, but I can safely report that this new edition - tweaked by Camille Goutal and Isabelle Doyen and reminiscent of YSL's Pour Homme - manages to convince the wearer that it's been zapped to 2013 straight from the 70s. With its almost comically yellow, glaringly bright lemon/verbena heart, its sharp, bitter herbal facets and its intriguing saline note (vetivert, perhaps) it harks back to a time when 'clean citrus' meant 'mature gent' in no uncertain terms. As it reaches its drydown, there are moments when its moss element becomes excessively metallic and the detergent-like aspects of its lemon accord make their presence known too frequently. But by and large, this is a solid piece of work whose sunny disposition is hard to resist. If only the mainstream gave men something as radiant as this every now and then.

[Review based on a sample of eau de toilette provided by Annick Goutal in 2013.]


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Persolaise Review: Vaara (Bertrand Duchaufour) and Iris Prima (Alberto Morillas) from Penhaligon's (2013)

I worry about reviewing another Bertrand Duchaufour creation almost as much as I worry about reviewing another oud scent. They are both extremely ubiquitous; some would say excessively so. I'm told that oud is on its way out (personally, I don't think the trend is dead quite yet) but thankfully, Duchaufour doesn't seem to be losing any of his creative energy... although it has to be said that his latest effort for Penhaligon's does play a few bars of an Arabian tune at one point in its development.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Persolaise Review: Thirty Three from Ex Idolo (perfumer unknown; 2013)

This was one I approached with dread. "It's an oud," I was told.

'Just kill me now,' I thought to myself.

"It's exceptionally good," they said.

'Please, make it quick,' my brain responded.

"It's been made with an agar wood oil that's been aged for thirty-three years."

'Here, I'll sharpen the blade for you.' But then, the optimist in me defeated the cynic... and thank goodness he did, because this stuff deserves serious attention.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Persolaise Review: Pour Monsieur from Chanel (Henri Robert; 1955)

Is bitterness now seen as old-fashioned in masculine scents? I asked myself the question the other day when I decided to wear Chanel's Pour Monsieur. Don't get me wrong, I still consider it to be a tremendous piece of work. But it did strike me as smelling of the past, and I wondered if this was because of the inky, almost acrid bitterness of the mossy elements. Modern masculines tend to be sweeter (see last year's Noir from Tom Ford, which traces its lineage back to 1965's Habit Rouge) or woodier (see just about any mainstream melange), although of course, if we're being pedantic, we have to point out that both sugariness and woodiness have been features of some male perfumes ever since the 30s, when Caron released Pour Un Homme. Perhaps bitterness is now seen as being too serious, too grown-up, too uncompromising for the modern man. Or maybe, in keeping with the chypre revival in the feminine market, the note will soon make a comeback on the boys' side of perfumery departments. Whatever happens, Pour Monsieur remains one of the classiest male scents around, and a real gem in Chanel's portfolio. The citrus opening is as sophisticated as anything that's ever been bottled, the herbaceous elements suggest a free-spirited love of the natural world, and the powdery, soapy facets of the drydown convey well-groomed civility. It's quiet, restrained and elegant... and even though, on a literal level, it smells bitter, it doesn't have a cynical bone in its lithe body.

[Review based on a sample of eau de toilette obtained in 2010.]


Friday, 9 August 2013

Persolaise Review: Rive D'Ambre, Shanghai Lily, Fleur De Chine and Plum Japonais from Tom Ford (perfumers unknown; 2013)

I confess I don't find the overarching concept of this year's Tom Ford Private Blend quartet as convincing as last year's. In 2012, the house released four scents under the umbrella title Jardin Noir; the idea was simple, but it worked. This latest set has been dubbed the Atelier D'Orient, a name to which you could justifiably react with a yawn. Still, the dubious label is easily ignored, because at least two of the perfumes are pretty impressive.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Persolaise Review: Perfume Calligraphy Rose from Aramis (perfumer unknown; 2013)

When Aramis released their commendable Perfume Calligraphy, I saw the move as an attempt to corner the Arabic sector of the chest-beating, alpha-male, testosterone-fuelled territory the brand has long claimed as its own. So I was quite taken aback when I first tried this new follow-up to the scent. For a composition made by such a manly brand, Perfume Calligraphy Rose is shockingly feminine, a sort of cross between the girly hues of Gorilla Perfume's Imogen Rose and Amouage's Lyric Man. Soft, powdery and, as its name would suggest, almost completely rosy, it marks a welcome attempt to offer guys a composition that isn't a mind-numbing re-hash of the woody, ambery, citrus accords prominent in far too many current masculines. There is a quiet, animalic leather lurking in the background, and the spices bolstering the central floral accord are by no means inconspicuous, but in the main, this is rose all the way, unfurling its charm with the sort of unostentatious confidence younger men now display when they hug each other in public. Well worth embracing!

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Aramis in 2013.]



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