La Collection Privée: Fève Delicieuse by Christian Dior (2015)

Nose: François Demachy

I wouldn’t say that Fève Delicieuse (“delicious bean”, or in North-Center Italian slang, “delicious d*ck”) smells completely horrid, but it’s really almost there. It doesn’t really “smell Dior”, and surely not “Collection Privée”. Not that the rest of the line was breath-taking, but Fève is basically nothing different quality-wise and overall concept-wise from the cheapest Oriental-gourmand ranges of fragrances and grooming products sold in drugstores or supermarkets. Stuff like Italian brands I coloniali, or Tesori d’Oriente - but way below Les Nereides or L’Erbolario, to give you a rough idea of how cheap this is. Imagine that kind of stuff blended with some sort of clumsy imitative Mugler-esque kind of “allure”, sort of echoing some A*Men flankers but without that consistency and playfulness (and they cost half of this anyway).

Basically Fève Delicieuse is a thick, annoyingly flat and cloyingly artificial Oriental-gourmand candy of vanilla, amber, tonka, cedar, powdery-caramel and spicy notes tinged with a tame hint of smoke and some pleasant sort of earthy-vegetable suble nuances, which are quite nondescript but help in lowering the diabete-inducing ratio of sweetness and represent the only sparkle of interest in this disgraceful bucket of dullness. There is basically no evolution and no particular “twists”, just a sticky slap of melted toffee candies laying on your skin, decreasing in power as hours pass – thus becoming more pleasant. Sweetness is the main and most feature of Fève Delicieuse: mediocre, cheap, unrealistic, alienating sweetness, truly comparable with any low-brow drugstore gourmand scent for teenagers. I was not the most enthusiastic fan of the rest of the “Collection Privée” collection apart from Leather Oud, but still I clearly got a sense of decent quality, complexity and craft among the others – or at least, some efforts for that. To this extent Fève Delicieuse is an astonishing ugly duckling among them (minus the happy ending), since it smells not only cheap, but also completely uninspired, simplistic, tired, a more than generic “déja-vu” with a crazy price tag and no reasons to exist. If you’re a fan of The Office US, then I’m Michael and this is my Toby.


O/E by Bogue (2015)

I’m very puzzled by the distance between the hype which has graced this brand from the very beginning of its journey into niche, and the actual quality of their fragrances I’ve tried so far. Both MAAI and Cologne Reloaded seemed to me some very dull and pedantic exercises around very classic structures, something I guess pretty much any nose working for any company anywhere between the 1950’s and the 1990’s would have been able to compose blindfolded; and now this, “O/E”. If on one hand it’s at least a bit more modern and more creative than the other two, on the other hand it kind of reinforces my conclusion that toying around classic structures seems really the main and only skill of Gardoni, or whoever is the nose behind Bogue fragrances. Because O/E smells horrid. A trainwreck. Pardon my French but it really is. Theoretically it would be a “citrus-green leather chypre”, so to speak, so imagine – on paper – a very bold citrus-green top accord built on a dark, herbal, even skanky and slightly powdery-vanillic foundation of woods, oakmoss, and some rusty tan leather.

The problem is that it seems the brief was then handed to a clueless janitor with the specific request of cutting costs and sourcing materials in his storage closet. The citrus-green top accord smells astonishingly cheap, acrid, artificial, flat and harsh, something way more suitable for cleaning tiles than scenting skin. And it’s just clumsily sticked as-is on a more than mediocre leathery chypre foundation, which smells no better than any robust pre-world war II drugstore aftershave did. Mennen quality, to get you an idea. The notes smell from bad to dull per se, and they’re significantly poorly blended, thrown one against the other like a toddler would do with his toy cars. All topped with spices, with the same grace (and purpose, ultimately) of someone rapidly throwing a handful of sand in your face to rob you and run away. I’ve nothing against modernity and “clashy” compositions, as long as there’s some talent behind them. Here I don’t really see any. It’s just noise, cheapness, itch. A decent idea completely gone wrong. Persistence is remarkable though, which is good if you’re into scrubbers; evolution is close to zero, just some lemon and herbs fading away and (surprise, surprise) synthetic cloves growing in presence together with some vanillin and cheap leather aromachemicals. Probably the nicest part, if compared the early abysmal stages. Nothing different from the drydown of any 1 dollar aftershave, but at least it’s wearable (at 180 times more the price). I wish the best to Bogue but seriously... not with this, really.


A Quiet Morning by Miller et Bertaux (2008)

A Quiet Morning by Miller et Bertaux is quite a nice little discovery I’ve made recently, together with the fact that Miller and Bertaux aren’t, as I imagined, the umpteenth irritating couple of 30-something niche hipsters dressed in white garbage bags, rather two eccentric, laid-back middle-aged beardy gents. I’m not crazy for the other scents of this brand I’ve tried, but A Quiet Morning works darn good instead. It’s very minimalistic, but for once, it doesn’t seem to rely to the same trite array of synthetic aromachemicals which are in fashion in the “minimalist” side of perfumery. In other words don’t expect just another ripoff of some Comme des Garçons/Andrea Maack-like stuff. Neither a dull citrusy or floral faint nonsense. This is a pretty different take on minimalism – for the better. It takes (well, it took me) a while to appreciate it and it’s probably easy to dismiss it at first, but the truth is that it manages to smell somehow very natural and breezy, yet amazingly modern in its transparent thinness, still keeping it not cold or blatantly synthetic. It creates instead a very peculiar “aura” of warm, sophisticated clean subtleness and lightness which contrary to many other cases, at no point becomes “dullness”. It’s actually a very substantial scent with some seriously enjoyable transitions and depth: it’s just filtered through clear, thin pastel glass, smelling rarefied and delicate, but so to speak, very robust “in spirit”. And briefly put, it doesn’t smell like anything else. 

The fragrance opens with a quite sharp yet weightless sort of bitter cedar, and actually oud-like note (emptied of any “animalic” dirt), quite woody, dry and spicy-medicinal, blended with a nose-tingling accord of ginger (or something similar to that) cumin and saffron, and a touch of rose – or, again, something similar to it, slightly floral and fresh-juicy. A tasty, dry, almost edgy spicy-woody-floral accord which soon starts to unravel a warmer heart: clean, soapy hints of sandalwood blend with a really enjoyable, very subtle yet crystal crisp accord comprising something like a honeyed saffron note paired with a microscopic drop of warm floral soap. I’ve mentioned the word “soap” a couple of times but don’t get me wrong; A Quiet Morning isn’t really a “soapy” scent, it just has some light hints of that (and this scent is all about shimmering, light “hints” of things). It’s dry, dusty and breezy, but has indeed a sort of slightly soapy-sweet and “juicy” base texture, mostly due to sandalwood and that touch of honeyed-floral spices. 

On the drydown it becomes more and more warm and a tad sweeter too, before turning again more dry and woody, with a slightly bolder presence of (good, seemingly quite real) sandalwood still lightly infused with a sort of medicinal cedar-oud note, and a simply, quiet but somehow distinctive floral-spicy accord – which after some time starts reminding me of tea a bit, as some herbal accents pop out. All still feeling very light, clean and “peaceful”, albeit slightly smokier and darker than the first hours. The overall effect is very nice and enjoyable, achieving a rather unique sort of “spicy-woody airiness” that I basically never found so far in fragrances. It’s indeed a “quiet morning” feeling - soft, clean, cozy. It’s a very light scent, but somehow it projects and persists well better than it seems, staying more “around you” than on skin – which is an effect I’ve often noted in many (good) sandalwood scents, so maybe it is due to that. Probably too light for many given all the “bombs” we’re used to today, but an unusual, fascinating little gem. 


Gentlemens' Eau de Toilette by James Bronnley

As a longtime fan of classic British horror movies produced by Hammer or Tigon, I’ve always lived with a sort of “mythical” imaginary of the British countryside - permanently foggy, rainy, unwelcoming, with small shabby cottages and ghastly antique boutiques where everyone looks like Peter Cushing or the Shadmock from “The Monster Club”. Well, this little gem by James Bronnley I acquired by a complete casual chance, is the closest, most vibrant thing to all that world I’ve ever smelled. It has them all: while being apparently a very traditional citrus-herbal “barbershop” cologne, it has an impressive feel of dusty-camphorous decadence, impeccably blended with a distinguished smell of powdery moss, grass, aromatic herbs, vetiver and a nondescript, quite bold sort of “damp wood” feel (I think due to moss again, infused with something resembling to chamomile or sunflower), and a top accord of greenish citrus and neroli – which isn’t really “zesty” or particularly fresh, rather more bitter, dry, slightly floral and creamy.

Besides being exceedingly compelling and elegant, the overall feel is just quite more bizarre and puzzling for me, and surely I wouldn’t really associate this fragrance to summer. It may be just me, but I get a very dense feel of grayness, of dusty “countryside” mossiness, definitely something more autumnal for me. Think of entering a shabby cottage and catch a whiff of the inside – the smells of musty dust, cracked damp furniture, dry soaps, old books, cider dripping out of a cracked glass, the dapper landlord lying murdered on the stairs. Basically what many would refer to as an “old man” fragrance – and by “old” I would mean here two, three thousands years old. It’s a spooky and amazingly fascinating foggy mist halfway archaic and funereal, it smells sophisticated and very natural, breezy yet almost oppressive, very distinguished and neat yet almost off-putting. Associations aside, as I said (and as others already said better than me) it’s basically an impeccable “barbershop” citrus-mossy classic eau de cologne with a powerful sense of dusty melancholy, projecting just fine and lasting for long with an utterly enjoyable herbal-powdery drydown, still bearing a decided neroli note. Shortly a British decadent take on 4711 and the likes. Surely quite mature and fairly austere, but truly classy and pleasant. A true little gem far more unique and distinctive than it may seem by the composition, definitely worth it if you’re into classic “gentleman’s” stuff.


Five by Bruno Fazzolari (2013)

Wow. The opening (and well, the evolution too) of Five by Fazzolari is just “wow”. Powerful, deep, extremely clear and completely unique, at least for my experience. A very innovative sort of classic “eau de cologne” with citrus, edgy green notes and a very light powdery-mossy base... but richly infused with a sort of thick, evocative salty-watery feel. I would use the term “ozonic” if it wasn’t so abused and associated to so much garbage. But it is indeed “ozonic” in the most truthful and genuine sense possible. I know what you may think then – “well, basically an ozonic citrus scent?”. Theoretically yes. But actually no, not really. That would be the “concept”, but the notes and the way they’re blended smell deeply different from what you may think and surely from any ozonic-fresh scent I know. Mostly because of the herbal-watery feel, which is truly puzzling. It’s mindblowing for how realistic, faceted, shimmering and deep it is, and for how it interacts with the other notes. It smells truly like damp seaweeds and wet rocks with a gentle uplifting herbal breeze – imagine that, impeccably blended with a more formal “eau de cologne” fragrance (so citrus and lavender, basically).

It’s actually hard for me to do this scent some justice only with words, but yes, probably thinking of a classic “eau de cologne” rich in citrus and powdery notes blended with the invigorating smell of a sunny late afternoon lying on a damp rock on some cozy Sardinian cove, may more or less suggest what Five is about. With a clarity, a richness and a persistence I’ve never, ever experienced with this genre of scents. Truly perfect.  Maybe Villoresi Uomo is a similar, and similarly amazing, unusual and rich Mediterranean interpretation of a classic citrus-herbal cologne, but lacking in what makes Five so special - that bold “iodine-watery” element  which is, well, just brilliant – and is actually the main vein of Five (I mean the main “accord”, it’s quite powerful). Again, please don’t imagine any “calone” thing, or some flat chemical “salty” garbage as in many “sea-salt” niche scent – this is lukewarm, organic, rich living sea water diluted with a distinguished vintage citrus-powdery cologne and a sort of somehow fitting metallic aftertaste (which paired with citrus and a subtle darker mossy base, kind of reminds me of Christopher Street by Charenton Macerations). Fantastic drydown, with the “sea” effect taking the stage over the “eau de cologne” part, leaving a trail of fresh herbs and marine water on your skin. Probably the most interesting, clever and well executed variation on a classic citrus-herbal scent I’ve ever tried, and surely the bes t “marine” fragrance on the market for me.