Jewel Blend by Abdul Samad Al Qurashi

Jewel Blend has been my first encounter with Abdul Samad Al Qurashi, and all I can say is that it couldn't really go better than this. The very first sniff instantly throws you into the deep gap of difference with Western modern perfumery – not a matter of being better or worse, just deeply different. Basically, Jewel is a powerful, faceted and dense amber-oud blend, softened and sweetened by floral notes and dirtened by a musky, skanky touch. All in a way I was quite un-used to; the texture is thick and oily, the oud is (finally – first time ever for me) a real oud, full of balsamic, animalic, smoky, woody, mystical nuances; it's woody in the most deep and compelling sense – dark, dry, organic, a bit dusty on one side, almost stale on the other. Perhaps a litte challenging at first, but worth the effort of some patience (one hour, and it's pure class, far from the barn). No rubber, no smell of tires. The amber accord itself is also considerably less "friendly" and gentle than the synthetic ones we're used to; it's terribly warm and sumptuously golden, but also spicy, shady, somehow austere and tough. Overall Jewel Blend exudes charm, class and interest, it's a scent to explore and to listen to, a veritable "door to the unknown". The evolution is quite long and comprises a kaleidoscope of whiffs, nuances, echoes which come and go – balsamic, musky, woody, sweet; overall it tends to become drier and darker as hours pass, slowly turning into a tar, smoky-woody accord, which after some hours (6 or 7 possibly) gets again a whiff of balsamic with an unexpected floral accord which returns for a while. The woody accord mutates then again into something more gentle and aromatic (something like cedar or oak), slowly vanishing away. After almost 8 hours you get basically a dusty, delicate, sweet ambery scent with just an echo of woods. All still vibrant and clear hour after hour, even if obviously, lighter and lighter as hours pass – but on a time span of more than 12 hours, so you've really plenty of time to enjoy all this. Now, maybe I paid particular and perhaps unnecessary attention to the evolution, but Jewel Blend can also be simply enjoyed as a classy, compelling, long-lasting and versatile oud-amber scent with floral nuances that lasts for hours and smells great. So basically you can either enjoy it as a "normal" perfume (probably better than most of your others, though) or like a satisfying and charming olfactory "journey", or "experience" if you wish. Needless to say we shouldn't even compare this elegant, versatile, deep and precious oud ambery scent to the sad, plain, cheap synthetic ouds we're used to. Surely worth a try.


Yohji Homme by Yohji Yamamoto

Year: 1999
Nose: Jean-Michel Duriez

My review is based on the original version, although I am given to understand that the recent reissue is quite similar to the original one (oh I wished other houses did that too). Yohji Homme is one of the 2 or 3 "cult" scents of contemporary perfumery (say, post-2000s) which is highly worth its fame and praise. It is, in fact and without doubts, the unique and timeless masterpiece everyone talks about. If you read Turin's guide to perfumes, his review of Yohji Homme is perfect. Like a really few else recent fragrances (I think of M7, a couple of Costume National, Cuiron), it basically smells like nothing else: just pure, white, futuristic synthetic elegance. Yohji is basically a sophisticated woody-spicy scent, with a transparent, polished but warm and dense texture of gourmand notes, slightly creamy and powdery, with also something floral (it smells like iris to me, apart from the lavender note) elegantly contrasting with a dark, boozy subtle undertone of licorice. Above all of this, a rarefied white fog of pure, artificial freshness, some odd but tremendously fascinating plummy and plushy abstract notes providing and irresistible and refined sort of "white glow" all over. What makes Yohji a masterpiece, besides smelling so (so!) great, is the incredible perfection of the composition: it is a complex scent with a lot of echoes, notes, nuances, from spices to sweet notes, a lot of "new" and never-smelled-before going on all over, but still it is so thin, compact, subtle and transparent, almost "zen" and peaceful in a way. It is like that new wave of experimental "cuisine" with those chemist-chefs which stuff recipes and lots of complex flavours in tiny pills. But apart from all of this, it's enough to say that Yohji smells simply gorgeous, addictive, compelling and unique like a really few other scents.


Brace yourself - some niche poop (again).

No images, no noses, no dates - the poop doesn't deserve any of that. Just a black list of names.


Mon Nom est Rouge by Majda Bekkali 

Given the brand positioning, the price, the "artistic" pretenses, just one word comes to my mind now that it's some 5 hours I am wearing this: pathetic. True pathetic contemporary niche perfumery. Mon nom est rouge is a plain blend of chemical boredom, stuffed with Iso E with a whiff of citral (all that luminous, slightly sparkling incense-like thing) and synthetic amber/ambrette molecules (cetalox, ambroxan, ambrettolide, who cares), and some vague, clumsy, random hints of tonka, flowers, fake mossy notes, fake earthy thingies - just to pretend it's not really about 2 aromachemicals any toddler can put together. But basically it's all about synthetic ambers and Iso E. Now I love purely synthetic scents, *but* only when they're admittedly artificial, and they get creative, playful, smart on that – it's always a matter of honesty and consistency to me. None of which happen here. This fraudulent nonsense about roses and elemi and stuff is hilarious (pretty much like the cow crap-shaped bottle). Now ok, I'll stop the rant, but seriously... no.


Embruns d'Essaouira by Montale

A horrendous calone-menthol scent halfway a random 1990's ozonic fragrance and Colgate toothpaste, on a synthetic, metallic and slightly salty woody base with the same supermarket quality of the calone note. Had to scratch it off earlier than expected (yes, it's *that* bad), so I can't judge about the persistence, but I do hope it's short.


Forbidden Games by By Kilian

Forbidden Games is another completely synthetic (in a cheap and un-creative meaning) fruity-floral bomb, a galaxolide and ketones galore supported by vanillin. Fresh and sweet, loud and plain, dull and teenish. Unworthy any price above 10 dollars (please don't tell me how much it actually costs).


Truly by MariaLux

A synthetic bath soap scented with (synthetic flavours of) iris, white flowers, mint/basil, patchouli, amber, with a vague attempt to reminisce classic floral scents à la early Chanel. It does not stink, actually it smells good, as good as a liquid soap – and not only for the soapy notes, I mean literally, quality-wise too. Shallow and dull to any point of view, plus with a depressing, arrogant tendency to emulate classics with cheap quality materials and no creativity whatsoever. Go get the worst Chanel or Guerlain, it will still be better than this nonsense.


Le Vainqueur by Rancé 1795

Le Vainqueur ("the winner") by Rancé 1795 is similar to all extents to any masculine cheapie from the 2000s, stuffed with calone, melonal, aldehydes, ambroxan (and other typical delicacies of the XVIII century). A white/azure scent, artificial and metallic, even interesting in its own way for the abstractness of the notes – it does not smell of almost "anything" clear, just pure synthetic nowhere, a series of metallic-aquatic-green suggestions, cold and decontextualised, true to life like a Windows '98 background image. More than to cheap designers, perhaps it is even more similar to floor cleansers. I do not get the placement of such a type of scent in a "neoclassic" line. Ugly per se, and most of all, ugly for the price and the pretentiousness of another made-up "historical" brand (founded in 2003).


Irish Leather by Memo Paris

Irish Leather opens with a bitter, minty green-citrus accord of lime, juniper berries, something peppery and something fruity on the base (bitter-fruity, like berries), and as for Italian Leather, a depressing, microscopic "leather" accord built on a mediocre smell of synthetic burnt rubber. Here (luckily, perhaps) this "leather" note is however oppressed by the head pepper-juniper-citral accord, which lasts for hours. If you're into leather scents, compare this to any - even the worst - vintage leather scent and laugh hard ("laugh for not cry"). Outrageous price tag.