Classic Orange by Von Eusersdorff

Year: 2013

Notes: Sicilian blood orange, petitgrain, Chinese osmanthus, black tea, suede, Hawaiian sandalwood, musk
With the emphasis on the sweetness of blood orange and the bitterness of petitgrain, Classic Orange is a very respectable citrus aromatic, particularly for the first few moments.

The opening is true to the olfactory sensation of piercing a fresh orange, with its succulent tangy juice gushing forth. The piquancy of the petitgrain provides a complementary foil to the sweet nectar of the blood orange. The aromatic notes remain mostly in the background but the osmanthus is clearly noticeable – prefacing a demure creaminess found in the impending sandalwood.

Alas, within an hour, all that's left are mute traces of orange, suede, sandalwood and musk. Within a couple of hours, there's hardly any evidence of it at all. While it's decent, it simply isn't as satisfying as Atelier Cologne's Orange Sanguine.

Projection starts out loud but dies down considerably, within a matter of minutes.


Wode by Boudicca

Year: 2008

Notes: juniper, clary sage, coriander, cardamom, nutmeg, saffron, tuberose, angelica root, black hemlock, opium, tonka bean, styrax, amber, labdanum, leather, tree moss, musks

Comment: Eau de Parfum review

Wode is derived from the word 'woad' – the name of a flowering plant from which a vibrant blue dye is extracted and, in paste form, was allegedly used by Queen Boudicca / Boadicea as war paint. When exposed to air, the paste's initial muddy hue turns into a deep shade of blue, thus inspiring Wode's reverse concept of oxidisation: vanishing paint.

Within moments of applying, the cobalt blue pigment, from the sprayed mist, fades completely, leaving only the scent behind. Created by Escentric Molecules mastermind Geza Schoen, it's thankfully available both with and without the aforementioned marketing gimmick, dubbed as 'Paint' (Eau de Toilette) and 'Scent' (Eau de Parfum) respectively.

Upon application, one initially observes an abundant sweetness, followed by its spicy aromatic properties. The juniper-led opening is brisk and crystalline, as the composition heads down a smoky woody-green route. With the inclusion of black hemlock (Queen Boadicea's preferred method of suicide, after being brutally defeated by the Romans), many of the notes remain indistinguishable as they meld into one another effortlessly.

Although the sweetness soon recedes, the potential dryness of both the styrax and leather is counterbalanced by complementary accords of tonka bean, labdanum and amber. As the tree moss gradually emerges, a sultry chypré-esque drydown ensues, against a soft bed of various musks (with synthetic castoreum allegedly being one of them). It's only during these final moments when a charred bitterness faintly presents itself.

Not to be confused with Boadicea The Victorious (another English niche house that surfaced the same year), Wode is packaged in an inappropriately shiny spray paint can, to symbolise "rebellion and anti-establishment values". Sadly, the fragrance itself fails to live up to expectations.

For while Wode is a pleasant creation, it isn't as provocative as the packaging, the vanishing paint concept nor the sentiments that fuelled Queen Boadicea's uprising.


L'Eau de Phaedon by Phaedon

Year: 2014

Notes: yellow mandarin, aloe vera, agave leaves, white neroli, jasmine, woods, musk
L'Eau de Phaedon is a floral-woody musk that's "an allergen-free, fresh, suave cologne for the whole family".

With fleeting mandarin top notes, plastic white florals and spurious watery green chords, it exudes a cheap and synthetic aroma. The light woody-musk base complements its laundry clean premise but, overall, it just smells artificial, innocuous and exceedingly bland.

There's absolutely nothing at all that's redeeming about it, with low sillage and poor longevity.


Colonia del Forte 1265 by Profumi del Forte

Year: 2011

Notes: bergamot, lemon, orange, petitgrain, lavender, neroli, rose, heliotrope, rosemary, thyme, musk

Comment: Colonia del Forte 1265 is part of the Colonia del Forte Collection

The Colonia del Forte Collection are all Eaux de Toilette, centred around "personalities that have revolutionised Tuscany, Italy and the world". Named after these historical figures' year of birth, Colonia del Forte 1265 honours the memory of Durante degli Alighieri (commonly known as Dante).

This woody-floral begins with a swirl of citruses and lavender, verging closer to Eau de Cologne territory than its siblings from the same collection. Within moments, a floral sweetness unfurls against a soft powdery backdrop (courtesy of the heliotrope), as a smattering of herbs are discernible but non-intrusive. Featuring a woody-musk base, both the rose and lavender continue to linger, producing a comforting aromatic denouement.

Out of the three creations, in the Colonia del Forte Collection, it's the most preferred. Unfortunately, it's also the least tenacious and stays close to the skin.


Colonia del Forte 1452 by Profumi del Forte

Year: 2011

Notes: orange, tangerine, aldehydes, petitgrain, flowers, herbs, cream

Comment: Colonia del Forte 1452 is part of the Colonia del Forte Collection

The Colonia del Forte Collection are all Eaux de Toilette, centred around "personalities that have revolutionised Tuscany, Italy and the world". Named after these historical figures' year of birth, Colonia del Forte 1452 honours the memory of Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (commonly known as Leonardo da Vinci).

Termed as a citrus-aromatic, it commences with a pairing of orange citruses and aldehydes that's as sugary as boiled sweets. The florals are mildly detectable underneath the orange syrupiness, with jasmine being the most identifiable note. As the creaminess intensifies, the herbs add a light bitterness to counteract the overwhelming sweetness (during which time, an intriguing effervescence suddenly kicks in).

Possessing good projection and lasting power, some may find it either too sweet or cloying. While it accurately recreates the smell of an orange boiled sweet, with a sherbet-filled heart, a conventional citrus-aromatic Eau de Toilette it most certainly isn't.


Colonia del Forte 1475 by Profumi del Forte

Year: 2011

Notes: lemon, green leaves, sea salt, ginger, vanilla, oakmoss

Comment: Colonia del Forte 1475 is part of the Colonia del Forte Collection

The Colonia del Forte Collection are all Eaux de Toilette, centred around "personalities that have revolutionised Tuscany, Italy and the world". Named after these historical figures' year of birth, Colonia del Forte 1475 honours the memory of Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (commonly known as Michelangelo).

Classified as a woody-aquatic, it ticks all the expected boxes and doesn't smell as synthetic as other releases belonging to the same scent family. With verdant lemon top notes, the ginger is evident straight away – initially coming across as piercing before slowly, but surely, losing its acerbic edge.

Until a faint wisp of vanilla surfaces, it's pretty much a bog standard marine offering, with a spicy facet from the (now more civilised) ginger. The oakmoss foundation is noticeable but, fused with the remnants of what went on before, yields a metallic seaweed nuance.

Overall, it's a competent niche woody-aquatic but still far from distinctive. Sillage is reasonable with longevity of least six hours.


Gendarme Sky by Gendarme

Year: 2007

Notes: bergamot, lemon, sweet lime, cognac, juniper berries, cardamom, Asian pepper, magnolia, woods, Spanish moss
Opening with sparkling citrus, juniper berry and a slightly boozy note, Gendarme Sky progresses towards a dry spicy mire, before the magnolia adds some sweetness.

There's also an ominous aquatic aspect, but one is unable to bypass its cheap and synthetic detergent aroma. It's actually very similar to those cheap body sprays for men, with a fresh or ice olfactory premise, easily found in pharmacies. During the drydown, the woods are warm and translucent, as the moss manages to prevent the entire composition from falling apart.

Interestingly, Gendarme Sky is very different from its predecessors, largely in terms of its general performance on the skin. But while it's stronger and projects quite well (more than expected for a standard Eau de Toilette), it's completely run-of-the-mill with its woody fresh aura.

Bargain bin Procter & Gamble trash, with a moderately expensive price tag.


Gendarme Green by Gendarme

Year: 2005

Notes: lemon, basil, cucumber, spices, musk
The opening for Gendarme Green is a very pleasant surprise, with a delightful citrus and herbaceous blast. But this stage doesn't last for long, as the emergence of cucumber (and possibly a tangerine accord) infiltrates the composition. With a prudent serving of spices, there's really not that much development afterwards, as a gentle tangerine rind aroma fuses with a white musk base.

Compared to other offerings from this house, it's a very unconventional release as there aren't any laundry fresh olfactory associations. In fact, one wouldn't deem Gendarme Green as either a grassy or verdant fragrance but more of a citrus-aromatic, in a somewhat similar vein to the drydown of Eau d'Orange Verte by Hermès.

Interestingly enough, the 'green' denotement isn't really an indication of how it smells, but more the fact that it's an environmentally friendly product. Only available in an aluminium spray bottle, Gendarme Green uses virtually no cardboard packaging or glass, thus producing a lower carbon footprint than most fragrance releases.

Possessing good longevity and moderate projection, it's one of the stronger and better composed Gendarmes. The price is also quite reasonable for both the bottle volume (180ml) and its Eau de Parfum concentration.


Gendarme 20 by Gendarme

Year: 2004

Notes: bergamot, lemon, lime, thyme, lavender, verbena, lilac, jasmine, leather, musk
Released to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the launch of Gendarme, Gendarme 20 is supposedly the original Gendarme but with a greater percentage of perfume oils (20% as opposed to 12%).

Gendarme 20 is pristine, soapy and clean but, unlike the original, it lacks a soul. Although the occasional waft indicates that it has a slightly deeper aroma, overall, it's too ethereal for the majority of its lifespan. In addition, it doesn't produce much sillage, and any difference in longevity between the two is virtually negligible. Being an Eau de Parfum, that's completely unacceptable.

For such a release, one wouldn't have expected such a muted version of the original, but that's how Gendarme 20 comes across. What's ironic is that, for a special release, it's probably the least satisfying offering from this house (although not necessarily the worst).


Gendarme V by Gendarme

Year: 2000

Notes: bergamot, lemon, basil, lemon balm, verbena, ylang-ylang, vetiver, tonka bean, civet
With a 15% concentration of perfume oils, Gendarme V is supposedly a vetiver-based offering. However, one is hard-pressed to detect much vetiver in the composition.

It's only slightly greener than Gendarme, with a tad more citrus and sweetness, plus a less soapy demeanour. Featuring an intriguing ylang-ylang accord, there's also a noticeable raunchy or animalic vibe (courtesy of some civet). With regards to the rest of the notes, they help to create a vague citric green context, which nestles on an almost metallic-smelling tonka bean base.

Ultimately, it isn't the vetiver-centric creation that one had been eagerly anticipating – making it a disappointing precursor to Thierry Mugler's Mugler Cologne. However, both the ylang-ylang and civet do manage to provide a little edge.

As always with most of this house's releases, sillage is low with reasonable longevity.