Oro 750‰ by Omnia Profumo

*****
Year: 2010

Notes: bergamot, lemon, lavender, lilac, cyclamen, peony, vanilla, coumarin, frankincense, patchouli, sandalwood, musk

Comment: Oro 750‰ is part of the Metalli Collection
Opening with sweet and full-bodied citrus-aromatic top notes, Oro 750‰ doesn't waste any time in unleashing its delectable floral core.

The lavender imparts a charming aromatic lift to the florals and the notes progress in complete unison. As soon as the vanilla makes its entrance, a dash of coumarin duly follows with its hay-like properties. During this time, an intense sweetness still persists, but the floral reign is short-lived and gradually consumed by the unyielding aromatic accords. Any evidence of frankincense is minuscule.

Possessing a rich woody foundation, the patchouli soon takes over the reins, but only until the sandalwood and musk are ready to reveal themselves. And as the woody-musk base flourishes, one can't help but sense a little disappointment in its humdrum finale, which has been done so many times before.

With an interesting first half, the composition lets itself down when the vanilla becomes more discernible. If the latter half has been just as compelling, it might have been rated higher.

Projection is acceptable and longevity is approximately eight hours.


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Argento 925‰ by Omnia Profumo

*****
Year: 2010

Notes: grapefruit, lemon, tangerine, ozonic notes, coriander, nutmeg, galbanum, geranium, frankincense, Russian leather, birch, cedar, teak, patchouli, vetiver, sandalwood

Comment: Argento 925‰ is part of the Metalli Collection
Argento 925‰ awakens the senses with a piquant citrus blast, prefacing a combination of geranium, galbanum and an ozonic accord. Within minutes, the nutmeg and frankincense surface, leading the composition towards familiar woody territory.

As the citruses finally vanish, traces of what went on before intermingle with the emerging woods, with minimal evidence of any leather. The composite woods are dry, peppery and resinous, but unexpectedly sweet. Resting on a soft sandalwood base, the final stages are ambery and creamy, though rather generic, with a fruity nuance that's almost peach-like.

Although one wouldn't deem its performance as similar to that of a designer fragrance, it still smells like a poor man's niche release. However, it's an interesting creation, which utilises the aquatic aspect effectively well and is relatively easy to wear.

Lasting at least ten hours, its sillage is also very good.


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Métaboles by Ys Uzac

*****
Year: 2011

Notes: bergamot, spearmint, black pepper, clove, liquorice, ivy leaves, tomato branches, galbanum, geranium, raspberry honey, labdanum, amber, benzoin, vanilla, sandalwood, white musks
Ys Uzac is a Swiss niche house, established in 2011 by perfumer Vincent Micotti. Under the artistic direction of Vera S. Yeoh, their ethos is "individuality, classical chic and extravagant expressions". With the name taken from a 1960s concerto by Henri Dutilleux, Métaboles is a classified as a contemporary fougère.

With an aromatic-green opening, similar to Frédéric Malle's Geranium pour Monsieur, the verdant acuteness of both the galbanum and leafy nuances are disappointingly ephemeral. However, the spearmint and geranium are evident for a while, as the clove and liquorice infuse a delicate aromatic sweetness to the proceedings.

During the mid notes, one is hard-pressed to detect any resins, but the raspberry honey appears to spearhead this stage. Some benzoin manages to peek through but, by this point, the sandalwood and white musks are in the process of hitting their stride. With most of the interesting accords having almost completely dispersed, all that remains is a humdrum musky oriental base.

Once again, it's another Ys Uzac creation that starts off promisingly, but is let down by a bland base of resins, woods and white musks. Sillage is no better than its siblings but it does persist for at least eight hours, which is of very little consolation.

As always with this nice house, it's well-blended but its general performance is insubstantial.


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Monodie by Ys Uzac

*****
Year: 2011

Notes: pink grapefruit, red mandarin, rhubarb, mirabelle, plum, galbanum, freesia, cyclamen, rose, caramel, sandalwood, white musks
Monodie is a musical term for "one solo voice singing a melodic part, usually with considerable ornamentation, over a rhythmically independent bass line".

It commences with an exquisitely rich and succulent parade of citruses, plums and rhubarb. The citrus accords are more candied than fresh, and the verdency from the galbanum is both soft and non-intrusive. However, when the delicate floral backdrop combines with the fruits, one can't help but equate its aroma to that of bubble gum. Possessing a woody-musk base, the caramel passes by virtually unnoticed.

Ultimately, it's a quintessentially feminine fragrance but more for the young at heart. Ironically, while its opening is the strongest of the initial Ys Uzac releases, it also has the worst staying power of under four hours.

An alluring opening but nothing more besides that.


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Lale by Ys Uzac

*****
Year: 2011

Notes: bergamot, orange, mandarin, apricot, pink pepper, saffron, white tea, wintersweet, osmanthus, rose, amber, benzoin, frankincense, leather, blond woods
"In French, 'la' means 'the' in the feminine, while 'le' is the masculine, which is fitting since Lale is a scent for men and women."

Lale is a fruity-floral that exudes a tart citrus opening. With quick succession, a smooth and warm osmanthus and apricot coupling emerges, adding some extra sweetness. Some saffron is discernible, but the gentle hints of rose and pepper are sporadic.

It should be noted that its evolution is very rapid, with resins and frankincense coyly peeking through. A leather note is also faintly present but stays in the background. With a hefty serving of woody musks, the composition continues to pulsate at the lowest volume possible.

While the osmanthus and apricot provide a certain edge, the base notes are somewhat generic. Furthermore, it has almost zero sillage, although it does have stellar longevity of at least eight hours. Sadly, the best part of its development is during the first hour – beyond that, it's nothing more than a woody-citrus musk affair, with some resinous remnants and faint floral traces.

All in all, it's a relatively pleasant unisex release but far from being bottle-worthy.


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Pohadka by Ys Uzac

*****
Year: 2011

Notes: shiso leaves, grass, liatrix, jasmine, davana, labdanum, immortelle, sage, leather, blond tobacco, vanilla
With the name taken from a cello sonata by Leoš Janáček, Pohadka is the best release from Ys Uzac so far, being a leathery-green with lashings of immortelle.

The green aspects come together with the light florals, to convey a sun-baked hay aroma, while the immortelle and tobacco impart an aromatic warmth. With regards to the immortelle, there's no indication of any cumin-like facets – just a smooth intertwining caramel aura. In addition, the sage-infused leather isn't as prominent as the davana, but its suede-like nuances aren't overlooked. A moderate serving of vanilla rounds off what, overall, is a rustic yet tranquil blend.

It's truly a compelling composition but, yet again, its general performance is too soft on the skin to fully satisfy. However, its longevity of at least eight hours is rather good. After exploring this Swiss-based niche house, one does wonder why all their scents are awfully discreet. Of course, not everyone wants to wear a loud fragrance but, at the same time, others would reconsider investing in something that's too sheer.

So, while the sample vial is worth retaining, any further personal (or financial) commitment is completely out of the question.


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Pink by Undergreen

*****
Year: 2012

Notes: lemon, orange, strawberry, clove, elemi, rose, vanilla, caramel, praline, cedar
Undergreen is one niche house that has failed to set the niche fragrance world alight. Sadly, Pink isn't going to do much to turn around this house's fortunes.

As expected, it's a very feminine fruity-gourmand, with a highly notable scratchy or powdery demeanour. All the chords are clearly represented and well-proportioned, and the composition follows the contemporary gourmand formula to a tee.

But for all its excessively sweet and creamy fruitiness, that scratchy or powdery aspect (which comes across as yeast-like) fails to completely subside. When it finally does, the most intriguing accords have already faded, leaving a humdrum praline, caramel and cedar drydown.

If it wasn't for the intrusive yeast-like effect, it might have been awarded an extra star. Both sillage and tenacity are respectable.


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Gold by Undergreen

*****
Year: 2012

Notes: grapefruit, lime, cardamom, ginger, lemon tree leaves, orange blossom, labdanum, myrrh, benzoin, tonka bean, Tolu balsam
Gold is supposedly inspired by "gold, warmth and the richness of life".

Behaving like a spicy-aromatic, with lively and spicy top notes, the cardamom is well-behaved and the ginger is detectable. While it lasts, the orange blossom is focused and unobstructed, with the ginger dancing around the peripheries. With a resinous base, the drydown isn't as sweet as originally anticipated, with some frankincense arising with unexpected regularity.

However, soon the composition completely falls apart – smelling chalky, peppery, vapid and incessantly hollow. While the opening provided some promise, the drydown is utterly terrible. Both lasting power and projection are below average.


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Myrrh Casati by Mona di Orio

*****
Year: 2014

Notes: Peruvian red berries, pink pepper, Guatemalan cardamom, saffron, liquorice, Somalian myrrh, Somalian frankincense, Siam benzoin, Indonesian patchouli, cypriol, guaiac wood

Comment: Myrrh Casati is part of the Monogram Collection
Myrrh Casati is the first fragrance from the new Monogram Collection, which showcases exclusive creations by other perfumers. Composed by Melanie Leroux, it's inspired by Marchesa Casati, "the legendary patron of the arts and muse of eccentricity". However, if this is the best that Jeroen Oude Sogtoen can muster, the future of this house looks extremely bleak.

With the most noticeable accords being myrrh, cardamom, saffron, liquorice and benzoin, it's a soft and spicy oriental. But it's also anaemic and exceedingly dull, with poor sillage and below average staying power. With a distinct soapy demeanour, it's also quite sweet. Personally, one would have preferred something richer, darker and with some edge.

Even though one wasn't a great fan of the Signature Collection, by comparison, Myrrh Casati comes across as both uninspired and very pedestrian. With none of the subsequent releases, after Mona's untimely death, being particularly noteworthy, one may be forced to completely write-off this niche house.


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Ylang 49 by Le Labo

*****
Year: 2013

Notes: ylang-ylang, Tahitian gardenia, benzoin, patchouli, vetiver, oakmoss, sandalwood
Created by Frank Voelkl, Ylang 49 is a floral creation that will probably win many admirers.

However, it's not even remotely a floral chypré but more of a floral-oriental. These fragrance houses can classify their fragrances as they wish, without any regard for the factual truth, but one knows what a bona fide chypré smells like (i.e. with the inclusion of bergamot, labdanum and plenty of oakmoss) and Ylang 49 most certainly isn't one. A ‘new chypré'?! No, that's just glorified marketing rubbish...

Upon the opening, what's immediately striking is the alluringly clean and buoyant banana-like accent amongst the white dainty florals. Its overall structure is both simple and effective, with a soapy linearity that surprisingly continues to captivate. With subdued woods and a hint of benzoin, there isn't much evidence of any oakmoss, and any musky nuances are of the clean aroma chemical variety. During the drydown, a sandalwood accord is faintly noticeable but remains in the background.

With decent projection, and staying power of at least six hours, it could have easily been viewed as a derivative department store fragrance. However, it possesses enough substance to avoid being labelled as such. Chypré or not, it's still a commendable feminine release.


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