Blamage by Nasomatto

*****
Year: 2014

Notes: spices, smoky notes, balmy notes, woods
Blamage is the tenth and, thankfully, final release from Nasomatto.

Again composed by Alessandro Gualtieri, it's described as "an unwise and unfortunate creation caused by bad judgement and care" by "making real mistakes and using coincidence". As always with this house, the Richter scale for pretentiousness oscillates wildly...

Blamage isn't a dark or intensely masculine affair but, characteristically, follows in the footsteps of China White and Silver Musk. One is unable to detect anything smoky about it, but there's certainly a subdued jammy floral core that accompanies the spices. Also, the woods are soft and translucent.

As it stands, it's mellow, lasts exceptionally well and provides little sillage. Yet, based on how it smells, it does come across as a somewhat unfinished Sospiro imitation, which isn't the greatest way to bring Nasomatto to a close. And while it may disappoint some existing fans of this house, it probably won't win over many new ones either. So much for the "drive for perfection".

RIP Nasomatto.


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Spanish Cedar by Czech & Speake

*****
Year: 2014

Notes: bergamot, blackberry, plum, clove, galbanum, cedar, guaiac wood, sandalwood
"With my new fragrance the cedar is not from Spain but my motives are linked to Spain. Memories of boyhood holidays in Menorca, of sandy coves surrounded by sun bleached pine and cedar trees that would produce an unforgettable resinous smell. This fragrance to me is the memory of these days..." (sic)

With a juicy fruity opening, the clove is rather subtle and one has trouble detecting much galbanum. In fact, it's a woody-fruity fragrance that reveals the guaiac wood and cedar early in its development. While there's nothing wrong with that, the only really interesting thing about Spanish Cedar is the fermented plum aspect.

It isn't particularly smoky and its soft woody manner is akin to Czech Speake's previous effort, Vetiver Vert. As for being the first Eau de Parfum release from this house, one is quite disappointed by its reserved performance on the skin. To be perfectly frank, it mostly smells like the late-drydown of so many uninspired niche offerings, with a derivative woody-oriental base.

For such a milestone, with regards to the higher concentration, one expected so much more.


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Sorriso by Profumum

*****
Year: 2013

Notes: bitter orange, bitter chocolate, vanilla, tropical woods
While Montale can be accused of shamelessly regurgitating their oud line, Profumum could also be accused of doing the same with their gourmand vanillas.

Dulcis in Fundo, Acqua e Zucchero, Vanitas, Battito d'Ali, Dolce Acqua... and now Sorriso. That makes a total of six gourmand vanillas in this Italian house's range. Personally, after releasing Battito d'Ali, Profumum should have taken a long break from this olfactory theme.

As for Sorriso, it certainly isn't a chocolate-infused version of Dulcis in Fundo, as there's virtually no evidence of any citrus. Instead, it's simply an inferior reworking of Battito d'Ali. With a gentle and restrained demeanour, the translucent accords initially create a fudge-like aroma. However, it soon develops into a more of a marshmallow vanilla, with dusty chocolate nuances, and stays that way. And while it's reasonably tenacious, it still lacks the potency of earlier Profumums.

There was once a time when Profumum offered some diversity. Nowadays, it's more concerned with translucent woody borefests, the odd disappointing floral scent and lacklustre reiterations of vanilla. Moreover, it's been over five years since anything particularly noteworthy has come out.

So, is Profumum really resting on its laurels? Based on Sorriso, it very much seems to be the case.


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Monsieur by Huitième Art Parfums

*****
Year: 2013

Notes: wood incense, papyrus, poplar, patchouli, cedar, vetiver, oakmoss, sandalwood
One had great expectations for Monsieur but, in hindsight, one should have known better...

Inspired by "the exploration of a forest" and presumably "dry and green, mixing elements of grass, earth, crisp air currents, and damp stones", one wonders if the wrong press release was issued.

With a very dry structure, it's a derivative woody-incense affair, with cedar, sandalwood and wood incense being the most identifiable notes. The anticipated multifaceted woody cocktail isn't anywhere to be found, any verdant aspects are virtually negligible, and its silky smooth development provides no surprises or quirks.

Put simply, it's a woefully restrained and paltry offering that adds nothing new to this genre.


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Rose Cut by Ann Gérard

*****
Year: 2014

Notes: aldehydes, rum, pink pepper, rose, peony, patchouli, benzoin, vanilla, oakmoss
"The name Rose Cut refers to an ancient diamond cutting technique that lends the stone a soft radiance..."

Rose Cut is Ann Gérard's fourth release, once again composed by Bertrand Duchaufour, and is described as a chypré. This is actually incorrect, as it's really a floral-oriental.

Devoid of any citrus top notes, labdanum and natural animalic musks, this fragrance doesn't even deserve to be classified in such a way. It's completely misleading and an insult to consumers. Moreover, it smells like a waxy and synthetic department store rose scent, with a price tag that's far from justifiable.

With an unimpressive aldehydic opening, a repressed booziness and a generic rose oriental premise, Rose Cut is utterly derivate. Possessing moderate sillage and good longevity, Bertrand Duchaufour should be ashamed of himself for creating such a cheap-smelling monstrosity.


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Cuir de Nacre by Ann Gérard

*****
Year: 2012

Notes: aldehydes, ambrette seeds, ozonic notes, angelica root, cassie, iris, leather, styrax, sandalwood, white musks
Cuir de Nacre is more of an olfactory depiction of the mineralistic frigidity of mother of pearl, with gentle hints of iris and suede. However, there are three fundamental drawbacks about it.

Firstly, the opening is weird and unpleasant, consisting of the ballpoint pen aroma of ambrette seed, aldehydes and the cool coupling of angelica root with an ozonic note. The overall impression is earthy, bizarre and aloof in equal measure. And although this sets the scene for the emerging iris, it fails to competently engage.

Secondly, the iris and leather are rather fleeting. Smelling refined, they are too placid, especially when they are supposed to be integral to the composition. Personally, one can't help concluding that it's more about ambrette seed, styrax and musk than anything else.

Thirdly, for a parfum extrait, its performance is excruciatingly poor. Providing minimal sillage and lasting for less than four hours, it comes across as anything but an extrait. By the time it reaches the drydown, all that's left is a metallic musky aroma that smells woefully like a synthetic department store fragrance.

Composed by Bertrand Duchaufour, it clearly isn't his best work. But the way the iris effortlessly melds into the ambrette seed is the only half-decent thing one can say about it.


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Ciel d'Opale by Ann Gérard

*****
Year: 2012

Notes: bergamot, Calabrian lemon, lime, quince, Sichuan pepper, galbanum, mock-orange, cassie, jasmine, honeysuckle, amber, vanilla, vetiver, cedar, guaiac wood, sandalwood
After Olivier Durbano's success in perfumery, suddenly every jeweller now has their own fragrance line...

Ann Gérard is a French jewellery designer, who has employed the services of Bertrand Duchaufour to make her olfactory collection a reality. And although these fragrances aren't worth getting too excited about, collaborating with a perfumer of such repute was a very wise business decision indeed.

Ciel d'Opale opens with a mélange of citruses, green and peppery accords, and non-indolic white florals. During this stage, both the cassie and honeysuckle are prominent, with a honeyed sweetness seeping through. As for the jasmine, it serves to secure a smooth transition towards a woody ambery denouement.

But, during the mid notes, it suddenly lowers its volume considerably – almost to the point where the fragrance is hardly perceptible at all. As it turns out, the second half of its performance is strikingly discreet, as delicate woods and amber whisper sweet nothings to each other. After such a wonderful shimmering opening, the finale is both hollow and bitterly disappointing.

Providing below average lasting power, the succulent first half is definitely worth experiencing. Sadly, the rest of the composition simply doesn't cut it.


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Perle de Mousse by Ann Gérard

*****
Year: 2012

Notes: bergamot, green mandarin, aldehydes, pink pepper, galbanum, ivy, lily of the valley, hawthorn, Bulgarian rose, jasmine, gardenia, clove, mastic, vanilla, ambergris, musk
While it's a modern chypré, due to the absence of oakmoss, Perle de Mousse attempts to compensate for this in other ways. It doesn't quite succeed in emulating the green floral chyprés of yore but still has its merits.

The overall aroma is verdant and fresh, with a short-lived pairing of citrus and aldehydes. To its credit, the green accords persist for longer than expected, along with an underlining spicy-peppery tone. It's both dark and dewy, with the white florals being the most prominent aspect of its floral bouquet.

As the green floral core subsides, a cocktail of mastic, musk and a touch of vanilla eventually join the fray. One can only assume that the role of the mastic is to add some edge as, without it, the sweet spicy-musk drydown would have been even more uneventful than it actually turns out to be.

To claim that it doesn't hold a candle to the vintage chyprés would be reasonably fair, but it's a better moss-free alternative than other recent releases of this ilk. Yes, its evolution is somewhat limited, and it isn't as tenacious as originally hoped, but it's still a respectable creation in spite of its limitations.


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Purezza by Hilde Soliani Profumi

*****
Year: 2013

Notes: flowers, soap

Comment: Purezza is part of the Gli Invisibili Collection
The name 'gli invisibili' is Italian for 'the invisibles' but, while the releases in this collection are more feeble than imperceptible, Purezza goes one step further.

Purezza is "a scent of freshly washed sheets drying in the sun. The smell of soap and beauty", which is rather an accurate description. However, with so many clean and anti-perfume fragrances already available, there isn't really any point in its existence. As sceptical as one usually is, this clearly isn't art but merely a cash-in on an olfactory theme – exploiting childhood memories and sentimentality as its main selling point.

Yes, it's simple and clean in its general aroma, but it provides nothing more that the use of a good floral laundry detergent and a decent bar of soap can already achieve.


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Rosa d'Inverno by Hilde Soliani Profumi

*****
Year: 2013

Notes: rose, Damascus rose, English rose, plastic, steel

Comment: Rosa d'Inverno is part of the Gli Invisibili Collection
Rosa d'Inverno is inspired by the smell of soft plastic dolls, from the 1960s, which were usually rose-scented to mask their synthetic odour.

Commencing with a rose-infused aroma of plastic and steel, it's initially astringent but soon settles down. With a structural simplicity, this artificial blend of plastic, rose and steel intermingle with each other on an even keel. Possessing moderate sillage and average longevity, the late-drydown reveals nuances of a dusty electrical coil cooling down.

While it's an interesting olfactory experience, it's not a fragrance that one would wish to own.


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