Category Archives: Fragrance Review

1899 by Histoires de Parfum

1899 by Histoires de Parfum

In the latest release from Histoires de Parfum, the brand’s perfumer Gérald Ghislain found his inspiration in American author, Ernest Hemingway. While I’m not as well read on the Nobel Prize winning author’s work, I did read an Old Man and the Sea in middle school. A quick search reveals he was quite the rolling stone having had four wives and lived in Cuba and the U.S. I suspect the scent’s sharp opening, which is unequivocally masculine, can be attributed to Hemingway’s “most interesting man in the world” appeal.

1899 opens with a blast of vitality. It’s one part boozy, one part sweet and delightfully spicy. While there are no tobacco notes listed, every time I wear 1899, I envision wearing a fisherman’s sweater while lighting a pipe by a crackling fire. Perhaps that’s the old man by the sea fantasy that lies in the depth of my subconscious but the opening does remind me of the sweetness associated with pipe tobacco. Nevertheless, Italian bergamot, juniper berry and black pepper really do a nice job of setting the stage for Ghislain’s homage to Hemingway.

If you’re a fan of cinnamon I suspect you’ll like 1899, as it’s prominent throughout. I like that vanilla is also used as it softens the scent’s spiciness a bit but the character remains. As 1899 dries down, it becomes the type of skin scent that raises an eyebrow ever so interestingly. It’s soft and woodsy with just a bit of the opening sweetness remaining.

I wouldn’t classify 1899 as an office scent, but that didn’t take away from its likeability factor. I’ve been wearing it a lot and it’s become a fall favorite.

I suspect a lot of guys will like 1899. Its presence is strong and bold and there’s no questioning whom it’s meant for. That said, I could still see women wearing this and wearing it well. I remember I smelled Comme des Garcon 2 Man on a woman and it blew my mind. I think 1899 would do the same.

Put this on your “ to sample” list gents. It’s a winner in my book.

Fate Man by Amouage

Amouage Fate Man

My first recollection of cumin in a fragrance was Le Labo’s Rose 31. It confused me early on as I found its warm, sweaty body order like smell jarring. When I realized it was supposed to be there, the scent grew on me. and it has become one of my favorite scents. Saffron caught my attention when I was in Paris a few years ago and sampled L’Artisan’s Safran Troublant at the Lourve. Its sweat heat was an instant win for me. Both cumin and saffron are prevalent in the opening of Amouage’s Fate Man, which not only caught my attention but has continued to excite my olfactive bulbs.

Fate Man for me has been a troubling scent. Every time I’ve worn it, I realize another layer and for that reason, I appreciate its craftsmanship. The very first time I wore it, I picked up the cumin and saffron right away in the top notes and they pretty much overshadowed everything else. On another wearing, about four hours or so after applying it, I was in awe that my nose picked up the floral notes in the middle. I surely didn’t think it would go there after the pungent opening I experienced and that dramatic shift impressed me. I have since recognized there’s more going on in Fate Man’s opening and that tug of war between the freshness of mandarin and the zestiness of ginger and the animalic presence of cumin piques my interest. I should footnote here that my early test of Fate Man occurred in the middle of the summer and perhaps that heat agitated the cumin enough that it presented itself in stereo while the other notes were in analog.

If you’re a fan of Amouage’s collection of fragrances, you’ll recognize that Fate Man fits the story they’ve been telling. Their use of pungent spices, incense and woods has become defining traits of the brand. But Fate Man illustrates what I love about perfumery – just when you think a scent has flattened out, an interesting twist occurs and wakes you up. The right turn it takes in the middle was such a surprise for me that it sealed the deal on how I feel about it. On top of that, its longevity is superb. If Fate Man is your first encounter with Amouage, the amount of cumin you detect could affect your perception of this scent as it can be a polarizing note. In other reviews I’ve read, it would appear cumin played it’s part as opposed to my experience where it played an extended solo. Nevertheless, I suspect Fate Man will do well for Amouage and I look forward to the next chapter in this ongoing story Christopher Chong is superbly narrating.

Fate Man – 50ml – $280.

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Montabaco by Ormande Jayne

Montabaco

Many years ago, as a Christmas gift I received my first desktop humidor. After unwrapping it, I stared at it for a while and day dreamed about how it would look on my desk. After stocking it with cigars and desperately trying to maintain its humidity level, I’d open it just so I could smell freshly humidified tobacco and the cedar that contained it. This gave me the same ahhh feeling I’d get when I visit the walk in humidor at my favorite cigar shop, OK Cigars. After wearing Ormande Jayne’s Montabaco, my ahh ha moment revealed that this scent captures what no other tobacco scent I’ve come acrfreshly humidified tobacco and the moist air that surrounds it, and it’s fantastic.

Montabaco is a part of Ormande Jayne’s Four Corners of The Earth collection, which is made up of four scents. Collectively, they pay homage to the places that have inspired the brand’s founder and creative director Linda Pilkington. Montabaco’s inspiration comes from Latin America.

The scent opens very herbaceous with a slightly sweet edge. It’s zesty and aromatic. The scent has a lift to it as well. I imagine that’s the clary sage that’s present in the top notes. I can see where some may say it’s medicinal in its opening but it doesn’t bother me. There’s also something mysterious about the opening, it’s airy but in a way I’ve never quite experienced.

As Montabaco moves into it’s next phase, the scent turns and the star of the show, tobacco becomes more prominent. A well humidified cigar blooms revealing the beautiful scent of its tobacco leafs. Walk into a humidor and the humidity intensifies this scent. It’s like it lifts it from the leaf and floods the air with it. Montabaco’s tobacco leaf note captures this essence while the use of rose gives it a sweet mossy scent. Once I finally peaked at the scent’s notes, I realized there’s an air note and whatever that is, it’s likely imitating the humidity in the air that makes the scent of tobacco blossom. As the scent moves into its final phase, it becomes more sensual with its use of sandalwood and ambergris, which surrounds more tobacco.

You don’t have to be a tobacco lover to appreciate Montabaco. The way it’s layered with notes like orange absolute, rose, violet, tonka and sandalwood, to name a few, presents a very unique scent. Judging from a few of the reviews I’ve read, I suspect men will either love or hate it, but that’s the beauty scent. On one occasion I wore it, a woman picked up its rose note and complimented me on how I smelled.  If Montabaco is inspired by Latin America, I suspect it’s not the glamorized sexy that we’re often fed to the beat of drums. Its inspiration is the culture beneath the veil. And like the back roads where the really good food comes from fish shacks and rum shops, Montabaco isn’t for everyone but I’m digging it.

Royal Vintage by M. Micallef

ROYAL VINTAGE Before the Elements Showcase, I didn’t know anything about the fragrance brand M. Micallef. Ever since, however, I’ve become a fan and it’s all because of its latest release, Royal Vintage.

M. Micallef was established in 1996 by Martine Micallef and Geoffrey Nejman. The brand is based in Grasse and to date has over 750 retail locations across 39 countries.  That’s impressive.

ROYAL VINTAGE bottle with car

To me everything about Royal Vintage is a throwback as its name conjures. Many men’s fragrance bottles today convey their masculinity through their angles, which are usually sharp and square-ish and via its weight. A men’s fragrance that feels substantial in your hand must be masculine, right? The design for Royal Vintage, however, took its inspiration from vintage cars and iconic cinema. As for the scent, it feels familiar, something I can see many men instantly liking. What we have in Royal Vintage is a masculine scent with enough panache to claim signature scent status.

Like a firm handshake, the slightly peppery opening of Royal Vintage gets your attention. But it’s also cool and confident and the juxtaposition of bergamot freshens it up while adding a touch of sweetness. As it dries down, its woody, leather and musk characteristics are where the scent blooms and it keeps on going. It has wonderful lasting power.

The men’s cologne of yesteryear exuded a bravado that led me to reject them when I was younger. Their masculine quotient was on overdrive. While Royal Vintage reads unequivocally masculine and traditional, it’s quite mellow and possesses a quiet elegance. It reads suits and ties but I can also see it giving a t-shirt and jeans weekend an entirely new life. It’s timeless and can be worn anywhere and I suspect many will add this to their scent wardrobe for years to come.

Royal Vintage – 100ml EDP goes for $185 at Lucky Scent.

A sample of Royal Vintage was sent to me but my opinions are my own.

Walk Good with Prada Amber Homme Intense

Prada Amber Homme Intense

What I love about our sense of smell is that it never lies. It knows what it likes and there’s no denying it. Case in point – sometime ago, I featured a bottle of Prada’s Amber Pour Homme Intense in a piece I wrote for Complex magazine and while I liked it very much, I didn’t wear it with any regularity. Every now and then I’d spray it on and go about my business.

One particular day, perhaps a day when I wasn’t rushing out of the house, I noticed its scent five or so minutes after applying it and I said to myself, “man this is good.” Later in the day, I wondered what smelled so good and remembered what I was wearing and realized it was only getting better. In that moment I wondered why I wasn’t wearing it more often and it dawned on me, that when I was in a jam on what scent to wear for the day, Prada Amber Homme Intense had become one of my go-to scents.

In its simply designed, dark colored bottle, Prada Amber Homme Intense is slick. It opens with a fresh, zesty punch, which is perhaps where the intense part comes in. It quickly settles down but the brightest parts of the opening remain…that’s slick. It also possesses a honeyed sweetness that balances out those spices, which I quite like. It’s smoky and resinous and to my surprise, as it develops, I begin noticing its fougere characteristics. What I really like about this one is how close to the skin it sits. Its dry down whispers leather with just a touch of sweetness.

Prada Amber Homme Intense is polished with confident subtly and I appreciate that. It has a familiar masculinity that reads a bit traditional and I suspect most men will appreciate that.

In the West Indian community when a person is departing, they are often told to Walk Good. Gents, you’ll walk good and confidently with Prada Amber Homme Intense.

Seven Fragrances You Should Know This Fall

The other day as I was exiting the train station here in New York City, I looked up and realized the sun is setting earlier. While that wasn’t the first time that’s ever happened, it always catches you by surprise and it’s a sure sign fall is right around the corner. Continue reading

Him by Hanae Mori

Here we are a week before Labor Day and the melancholy of summer’s end is setting in. I plan on getting in at least one more beach day and BBQ before we say goodbye to summer 2012. With that, fall fragrance releases are here. Continue reading