Fragrance/Cologne Reviews

Welcome to the Principles of Style mini fragrance reviews. Here, you’ll find a distillation of my experiences with some of the Fragrance Community’s most loved and hyped bottles, and maybe even some under-the-radar  fragrances.

Perfumiers are the noses behind the fragrances; much like authors of books, if you enjoy one of their works, you would do well to seek out their other creations. To do the perfumiers and their fragrances justice, and give readers my most accurate accounts, I will only review fragrances I have owned and used extensively.

Take my reviews with a grain of salt and try them for yourself before passing judgement.  Your experience may vary. Different skin chemistry and climates affect the fragrances to a surprising degree.

From time to time, this post will be updated and more reviews will be added as my fragrance collection grows.

Here  is how the rating system works:

Scent:
1/5= Terrible
2/5= Unimpressive
3/5= Not bad, not good
4/5= Good
5/5= Amazing. Elixir of the gods!

Longevity
1/5= 3 hours or less
2/5= 4-5 hours
3/5= 6-7 hours
4/5= 8-9 hours
5/5=  10+ hours. Beast mode!

Projection:
1/5= Near-instant skin scent
2/5= Have to dig my nose in my arm to smell it
3/5= Scent can be felt in conversation-range
4/5= Its presence will be felt in the room
5/5= Go easy on the trigger, it’s beast mode!

Versatility:
1/5= It will be hard finding an time and place to use this fragrance. Daring.
2/5= A little planning is necessary, but it can work
3/5= It’ll do for most occasions, during one or two seasons
4/5= 3 seasons (except summer), day and night, any occasion
5/5= Anytime, anywhere, anyhow. A Swiss-army knife in a bottle.

Value (prices are calculated as Canadian Dollars, and are subject to change):
1/5= Total rip-off
2/5= Overpriced
3/5= A fair price, for what it is
4/5= Good bang for buck
5/5= You get what you paid for, and more.

*Presentation (not important, but it is a bonus. It will not be calculated into the overall score):
1/5= Keep it in the back of your closet
2/5= Well, it’s what’s on the inside that counts
3/5= Looks alright
4/5= This one, you’ll want to show off on your shelf
5/5= Bottled art

Overall Score:
0-5/25: Don’t bother with it
5-10/25: Try it, if you must
10-15/25: Give it a sniff, at least
15-20/25: Decant worthy
20-25/25: Bottle worthy

Keep in mind that these reviews serve as a guide on what to try next; they are not an excuse to blind-buy, or a warning to brush off any fragrances. Regardless of my rating, do not judge a fragrance’s worth before getting intimate with it.

Let’s get to it. Note that there is no particular reason for the order of the fragrances listed.

Lalique White by Lalique

Lalique White Perfumier: Christine Nagel

Classification: Citrus Aromatic

Price: $38 for 125ml on Fragrancex.com

My take on it: Starts off with a citrus accord, mixed with an unorthodox aroma of tamarind, eventually drying down to the smell of pencil shavings, of the highest caliber. This fragrance is best suited for day wear during the spring and summer.
5-Note highlight: lemongrass; white pepper; tamarind; cedar; vetiver.
Scent: 4/5
Projection: 4/5
Longevity: 4/5
Versatility: 3/5
Value: 5/5
*Presentation: 4/5
Overall Score: 20/25

A*Men Pure Malt by Thierry Mugler
Pure MaltPerfumier: Unknown

Classification: Oriental Woody

Price: $94 for 100 ml on fragrancex.com

My take on it: A great cool weather scent. Probably the most hyped of the A*Mens, but it really is the best of Thierry Mugler’s men collection, in my opinion. While still containing the original A*Men’s DNA, like all the “pure” and “ultra” flankers, Pure Malt is a different fragrance altogether and, to me, a much better fragrance than its predecessor. My only qualm with it is that it doesn’t smell much like whisky, but is more malty than boozy or peaty. And, the sprayer sucks.
5-Note highlight: berries; malted grain; patchouli; incense; chocolate
Scent: 5/5
Projection: 5/5
Longevity: 5/5
Versatility: 3/5
Value: 4/5
*Presentation: 4/5
Overall Score: 22/25

 

Gucci pour Homme II

GPHIIPerfumier: Karine Dubreuil

Classification: Woody Spicy

Price: $67 for 100ml on fragrancebuy.ca

My take on it: My absolute favorite scent, so far. It is in my humble opinion, the best tea based fragrance, from both the designer and the niche sides. Hard to believe but this is a fragrance that can actually relax the wearer, what produces that effect, I don’t know. This amazing juice comes in a heavy glass cuboid bottle that can double as a self-defense tool.

5-Note highlight: black tea; myrrh; cinnamon; violet leaf; pimento
Scent: 5/5
Projection: 3/5
Longevity: 4/5
Versatility: 5/5
Value: 5/5
*Presentation: 5/5
Overall Score: 22/25

 

Terre d’Hermes (Eau de Toilette) by Hermes

Terre d'Hermes EDTPerfumier: Jean-Claude Elena

Classification: Woody Spicy

Price: $62 on fragrancebuy.com for 50ml

My take on it: When I wear this, I feel like conquering the world. Smells as if sitting down on a freshly cut tree stump and peeling an orange while working in a lumber yard.
5-Note highlight: orange; grapefruit; vetiver;  cedar; patchouli
Scent: 5/5
Projection: 4/5
Longevity: 4/5
Versatility: 5/5
Value: 4/5
*Presentation: 4/5
Overall Score: 22/25

 

The One (Eau de Toilette) by Dolce e Gabbana

The One EDTPerfumier:  Stefano Gabbana

Classification: Woody Spicy

Price: $45 for 50ml on fragrancex.com

My take on it: A mostly well-rounded date night/close-quarters scent. This is the kind you can spray once on your chest, and go straight to bed with her (or him…them?). Let’s hope your longevity’s better than that of The One.
5-Note highlight: amber; tobacco; cedar; coriander; ginger
Scent: 4/5
Projection: 3/5
Longevity: 2/5
Versatility: 5/5
Value: 4/5
*Presentation: 4/5
Overall score: 18/25

 

Vintage by John Varvatos

VintagePerfumier: Rodrigo Flores-Roux

Classification: Woody Chypre

Price: $39 for 125ml tester at fragrancex.com

My take on it: Nothing “Vintage” about it. A safe, modern scent, suitable for school and/or work. A dumb reach for the fall season.
5 note highlight: rhubarb; tobacco; leather; suede; sandalwood
Scent: 3/5
Projection: 3/5
Longevity: 3/5
Versatility: 4/5
Value: 5/5
*Presentation: 3/5
Overall Score: 18/25

 

Verdon by L’Occitane en Provence (Discontinued)

VerdonPerfumier: Unknown

Classification: Aromatic Aquatic

Price: $58 for 100ml at L’Occitane en Provence

My take on it: A pleasantly refreshing summer fragrance, great as a pick-me-up during hot and humid days. This cologne possesses a cucumber accord can be picked up, despite it not being formally listed in the note breakdown. Verdon is a very soft scent, I literally put on 10 sprays, and it remains mild throughout its short life. Frankly, it is not a cologne that will be missed.  It is not worth searching for this now discontinued fragrance.
5-Note highlight: Mint; lemon; aquatic notes; lavender; cedar
Scent: 3/5
Projection: 2/5
Longevity: 2/5
Versatility: 2/5
Value: 3/5
*Presentation: 3/5
Overall Score: 12/25

 

Red 360o (for men) by Perry Ellis

Red 360Parfumier: Jean-Louis Grauby

Classification: Oriental Spicy

Price: $26 for 50ml at fragrancex.com

My take on it: Acqua di Gio, spice edition. Although not technically an aquatic, it is considered  by many a clone of Aqua di Gio, but with the added spices. I’m not in love with their scents, but if I had to choose between the two, it’s no-brainer. Red 360 wins, hands-down. To me, it smells better, performs better, and is much cheaper than ADG.  Red 360 is more commonly used as a summer fragrance, but the spices in its composition give it enough depth to stand its own ground in cold weather.
5-Note highlight: Bergamot; cinnamon; cloves; nutmeg; sandalwood
Scent : 3/5
Projection: 3/5
Longevity: 4/5
Versatility: 5/5
Value: 5/5
*Presentation: 3/5 (some say it looks like a dildo, but I say it looks like a disco stick)
Overall Score: 20/25

 

Narciso Rodriguez for Him by Narciso Rodriguez

Narciso For HimParfumier: Francis Kurkdjian

Classification: Aromatic Fougere

Price: $63 for 100ml on ebay.ca

My take on it: This outstanding fragrance possesses a surprisingly simple 4-note composition. An artful nod to minimalism that shows it is not the tools given, but the user, that can make the ordinary into the extraordinary. A perfect rainy day scent, its smell has been compared by many to wet concrete, which I don’t, personally, get.  It’s a love it or hate type fragrance, and I love it. Best suited for the spring and fall.
5-Note highlight: Violet leaf; patchouli; musk; amber.
Scent:  5/5
Projection: 5/5
Longevity: 5/5
Versatility 3/5
Value: 5/5
*Presentation : 5/5
Overall Score: 23/25

 

Individuel by Montblanc

Individuel by MontblancParfumier: Pierre Bourdon

Classification: Oriental Woody

Price: $43 for 75 ml on fragrancex.com

My take on it: Dryer sheets, in the best kind of way. Imagine that feeling of cozyness of snuggling under freshly washed blankets, now capture it in liquid-form, that fragrance is Individuel once it hits the mid-notes. Many reviewers claim it’s essentially a carbon copy of Creed’s Original Santal, and a reincarnation of Joop! Homme. Individuel, to my nose, is the best of the bunch. A calming and comforting fragrance for day-time casual use.
5 note highlight: raspberry; sandalwood; cinnamon; vanilla; juniper berries
Scent: 4/5
Projection: 4/5
Longevity: 4/5
Versatility: 4/5
Value: 5/5
*Presentation: 4/5
Overall Score: 21/25

 

Aqva pour Homme by Bvlgari

AQVAParfumier: Jacques Cavallier

Classification: Aromatic Aquatic

Price: $45 for 100ml tester on ebay.ca

My take on it: For the pleasure of many that perceive aquatics in the same way as I do, Aqva is an aquatic fragrance that doesn’t smell like dead sea creatures,and it’s not overly salty-smelling, which I get from quite a few aquatics. One of my all-time favorite freshies, Aqva is nothing mind-blowingly amazing, but it’s a solid fresh aquatic-citric fragrance for hot summer days. I just wish the bottle was better shaped for display in a vertical position like 99% percent of cologne bottles out there, or came with a stand.
5-Note highlight: Seaweed; mandarin; orange zest;  petitgrain; cedar;
Scent: 4/5
Projection: 4/5
Longevity: 4/5
Versatility: 4/5
Value: 4/5
*Presentation: 3/5
Overal Score: 20/25

 

Silver by Al-Rehab

Al-Rehab SilverParfumier: Unknown

Classification: Woody Floral Musk

Price: $20 on ebay.ca

My take on it:  A good bang-for-buck alternative to Creed’s Silver Mountain Water. Compared to SMW, Silver has a much better quality-to-price ratio; however, Silver is a cheap fragrance,and it should be made clear that it won’t likely replace something as well-constructed as SMW. If you want something to smell like Silver Mountain Water, save your cash and go for Silver Mountain Water. Enjoy Silver for what it is, a decent freshie with a metallic twinge. Good for spring and summer, day-time casual use.
5-Note highlight: Green notes; watery notes; citruses; musk; wood notes (yes, this is the actual note breakdown)
Scent: 3/5
Projection: 3/5
Longevity: 4/5
Versatility: 3/5
Value: 5/5
*Presentation: 3/5
Overall Score: 18/25

 

Declaration D’un Soir by Cartier

Declarationd'un SoirParfumier: Mathilde Laurent

Classification: Woody Floral Musk

Price: $43 for 100ml tester at fragrancex.com

My take on it: My favorite of the Cartier fragrance house, and my favorite rose-centered fragrance  from the designer world. As close to masculine as a rose scent can be, if the idea of rose in the composition of a men’s fragrance is off-putting, try this cologne, it may change a few minds.  The fresh spices man it up, and keep it from becoming cloying and powdery like an old lady’s perfume.
5-Note highlight: rose;  cardamom; black pepper; caraway; sandalwood
Scent: 5/5
Projection: 4/5
Longevity: 4/5
Versatility: 4/5
Value: 5/5
*Presentation: 4/5
Overall Score: 22/25

 

Club de Nuit Intense Man by Armaf

clib de nuit man intenseParfumier: Unkown

Classification: Woody Spicy

Price: $ 35 at fragrancebuy.ca

My take on it: A Creed’s Aventus “clone”. While nothing can substitute Aventus, this is a very good alternative. The main difference, to me, is that CDNIM opens with a lemon note, whereas Aventus bursts forth with a pineapple note. Personally, I like pineapples in my Pina Coladas and fruit salads, not on my skin.  I prefer CDNIM, given the huge price difference and Aventus’ poor batch consistency, which is inexcusable for a company as prestigious as Creed, but that’s another story. Enjoy CDNIM as a fragrance in its own right. To prevent confusion when purchasing, it is the bottle in all black, not the female version with a gold-coloured chain.
5-Note highlight: lemon; birch tar; musk; ambroxin; black currant
Scent: 5/5
Projection: 4/5
Longevity: 4/5
Versatility: 5/5
Value: 5/5
*Presentation: 4/5
Overall Score: 23/25

 

Fahrenheit by Christian Dior

dior fahrenheitParfumier: Jean-Louis Sieuzac & Marice Roger

Classification: Woody Floral Musk

Price : $65 for 50ml at acegiftsplus.ca (bought offline)

My take on it: A classic 80’s fragrance, famous for its petrol/gasoline smell. “Unabashed manliness”, as described by the Fragrancebros. If  I were to personify this fragrance, it would be a rough-and-tough dude in a leather jacket, riding a bad-ass Harley Davidson motor cycle. It is not for the faint of heart (err..nose). This one is in a totally different league than the weak sauces of today’s designer market, even though it has suffered multiple reformulations over the years. Withstanding the test of time, this classic cologne is still relevant and wearable in the modern era. Don’t let that petroleum association turn you off,though; to myself and many, Fahrenheit is a masterpiece.
5-Note highlight: violet leaf; lavender; leather; patchouli, nutmeg
Scent: 5/5
Projection: 5/5
Longevity: 5/5
Versatility: 3/5
Value: 3/5
*Presentation: 5/5
Overall Score: 23/25

 

L’Homme by Yves Saint Laurent

L'HommeParfumier: Anne Filipo, in collaboration with Pierre Wargnye and Dominique Ropion

Classification: Woody Floral Musk

Price: $66 for 60ml on fragrancex.com

My take on it: Not every fragrance needs to be a projection monster that only dies after an intense steel wool and acid srub; sometimes, less is more. L’Homme, to me, is what I’d deem as an office-friendly cologne. It is a safe and versatile scent that is unlikely to offend anyone that happens to catches whiff. Generic, but one of the best generics out there; it’s what other generic fragrances try to achieve. Great for day time use, year round.
5-Note highlight: ginger; bergamot; white pepper; sandalwood; tonka bean
Scent: 5/5
Projection: 3/5
Longevity: 4/5
Versatility: 5/5
Value: 4/5
*Presentation: 4/5
Overall Score: 21/25

 

L’Instant de Guerlain by Guerlain

L'Instant de Guerlain EDTParfumier: Beatrice Piquet

Classification: Woody Spicy

Price: $55 for 75ml on ebay.ca

My take on it: My favorite Guerlain scent. It opens with a pronounced citrus and is more wearable due with its toned down projection compared to its extreme counterpart. Works best in formal occasions.
5-Note highlight: cocoa; anise; sandalwood; lemon; elemi resin
Scent: 4/5
Projection: 4/5
Longevity: 4/5
Versatility: 4/5
Value: 4/5
*Presentation: 5/5
Overall Score: 20/25

 

London (for Men) by Burberry

London BurberryParfumier: Antoine Maisondieu

Classification: Oriental Spicy

Price: $37 for 100ml tester on fragrancex.com

My take on it:  The best of Burberry’s offerings in the men’s fragrance market. It has been said many times, this is X-mas in a bottle; it even comes with its own ugly Christmas sweater. What’s not to love? Its  performance, but with its modest price, reapplying won’t be much of an issue. Carry a decant.
5-Note highlight: pine (not listed, but it can be smelled); tobacco; cinnamon; guiac wood; leather
Scent: 4/5
Projection: 3/5
Longevity: 3/5
Versatility: 4/5
Value: 5/5
*Presentation: 5/5
Overall Score:19/25

 

Hypnose Homme by Lancome
Hypnose HommeParfumier: Marice Roucel

Classification: Oriental Fougere

Price: $60 (pre-tax) at lancome.ca

My take on it: In my mind, I imagine a Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male “the graduated from college” edition. It’s not on the level of Reflection Man by Amouage, but Hypnose Homme represents itself as its own fragrance entity.
5-Note highlight: mint; lavender; amber; cardamom; bergamot
Scent: 4/5
Projection: 4/5
Longevity: 4/5
Versatility: 4/5
Value: 4/5
*Presentation: 5/5
Overall Score: 20/25


Rochas Man by Rochas

RocgjParfumier: Marice Roucel

Classification: Woody Spicy

Price: $32 for 50 ml at fragrancex.com

My take on it:”Roach-ass”,”roh-kas”, “roh-sha”, I dunno. Either way it’s  pronounced, this fragrance is a solid introduction into the world of gourmands. Rochas Man evokes a latte vibe, comparable to  Bond No.9’s New Haarlem, but with the sweetness toned down, making Rochas man more wearable. It’s a good date/close-quarters scent, for cool and cold weather.
5-Note highlight: lavender; chocolate; coffee; amber; vanilla
Scent: 4/5
Projection: 3/5
Longevity: 4/5
Versatility: 4/5
Value: 5/5
*Presentation: 3/5  (it  looks like a butt plug and it comes in a metallic pink box, its flamboyant, but don’t let that scare you away)
Overall Score: 20/25

 

Spicebomb by Viktor & Rolf

SpicebombParfumier: Olivier Polge

Price: $77 for 50 ml at fragrancex.com

My take on it: Word to the wise, don’t bring this bottle to the airport. The perfumier got the “bomb” part right with the presentation, and this fragrance’s impact can be felt throughout a wide radius; although, it is weak in the “spice” department. Imagine if Yves Saint Laurent’s La Nuit de L’Homme had a little brother, a louder,sweeter, and more playful brother. That, is the vibe that Spicebomb gives off. It’s a great night out fragrance, whether you’re wearing to the club, or the pub.
5-Note highlight: tobacco; cinnamon; pink pepper; saffron; leather
Scent: 4/5
Projection: 5/5
Longevity: 5/5
Versatility: 4/5
Value: 3/5
*Presentation: 5/5
Overall Score: 21/25

 

Mugler Cologne by Thierry Mugler

Mugler cologneParfumier: Alberto Morillas

Classification: Citrus Aromatic

Price: $65 for 100ml

My take on it: My favorite “just got out of the shower” cologne. The story goes that Mr.Mugler (or maybe it was the perfumier) found a bar of soap in his hotel room, which  he really enjoyed; once back in the lab, he set out to reincarnate that soap as a fragrance. That is exactly what Mugler Cologne smells like, a high-end soap. Fresh, green, clean, and very wearable. Men and women alike can enjoy this fragrance, guilt-free. Some even go as far to say that it’s a Creed’s Original Vetiver “clone”; that distinction will be up to you.
5-Note highlight: vetiver (not listed, but it’s evident) ;neroli; bergamot; white musk; petitgrain
Scent: 5/5
Projection: 4/5
Longevity: 3/5
Versatility: 5/5
Value: 3/5
*Presentation: 3/5 (mine came in a weird old-school splash on)
Overall Score: 20/25

 

Allure Homme Edition Blanche (Eau de Parfum) by Chanel
AHEBParfumier: Jacques Polge

Classification: Oriental Woody

Price: $99(pretax) for 50 ml at The Bay.

My take on it: The lemon meringue pie of the fragrance world. Nothing mind blowing, but it’s a very pleasing fragrance that sits closer to the skin. Sources state that the EDP is just a name change from the previous eau de toilette concentree, and that the composition hasn’t really changed.
5-Note highlight: lemon; vanilla; pink pepper; sandalwood; vetiver
Scent: 4/5
Projection: 3/5
Longevity: 4/5
Versatility: 4/5
Value: 2/5
*Presentation: 3/5
Overall score: 17/25

 

Jaipur Homme (Eau de Toilette) by Boucheron

Jaipur Homme edt by BoucheronPerfumier: Annick Menardo

Classification: Oriental Spicy

Price: $29 for 50 ml at fragrancex.com

My take on it: The spices mixed with a powdery accord make me think of a high-end talcum powder,when I smell it. It is old-school, but in a classy way, definitely not in old man kind of way.  Despite its maturity, it is a very wearable fragrance for the cold weather. Unfortunately, I can’t provide an educated opinion on whether the EDT or the EDP is better, but, although the bottle reviewed is an EDT, it has very good performance. This is not one of those juices you’d want to drench yourself in, so spray sparingly.
5-Note highlight: bergamot; cinnamon; cardamom; tonka bean; benzoin.
Scent: 4/5
Projection: 4/5
Longevity: 5/5
Versatility: 4/5
Value: 5/5
*Presentation: 3/5
Overall score: 22/25

Au Masculin (Reformulation) by Lolita Lempicka

Lolita Lempicka Au Masculin reformPerfumier: Annick Menardo

Classification: Oriental Vanilla

Price: $33 for 50 ml at fragrancex.com

My take on it: A star anise lover’s dream turned into a nightmare. After reading stellar reviews about this candy-gourmand, I got all excited and ordered a 5 ml mini, and I instantly fell in love with it. After going through the sample, I bought a full bottle of it. To my surprise, both the bottle (the cap and sprayer were fused together, before), and the juice inside, were completely changed. The original formulation of Au Masculin was a bomb of a fragrance, highly sweet and near beast mode, on my skin. The reformulation, however, is a characterless dilution of what was once a great gourmand. Until experiencing it firsthand with AM, I dismissed the cry-wolf attitudes of other frag-heads, but AM has opened my eyes, and nose. The threat of reformulation is real.
5-Note highlight: licorice; star anise; vanilla; tonka bean; cedar
Scent: 2/5
Projection: 2/5
Longevity: 1/5
Versatility: 3/5
Value: 2/5
*Presentation: 3/5
Overall score: 10 /25

Thank you for reading Principles of Style. I hope you enjoyed this post. If you know the “unknown” perfumiers behind some of the fragrances discussed, let me know. Questions? Suggestions? Wanna tell me your favorite scent? Please put your input in the comments section below; above, under the title picture, if you are reading from the home page .

Thank you for reading Principles of Style. I hope you enjoy this post and found the blog useful. If you have any questions, feedback, or want to share some of your style and scent tips, tricks, and insights, please leave your input in the comments section below, or send me a PM.

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