The Scented Hound

Abbreviated perfume & fragrance reviews from one man's perspective


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Vintage Houbigant Essence Rare Parfum Extrait

WHAT I SMELL:  Essence Rare opens with what seems to be fading aldehydes that are quickly met by a spiced geranium.  The perfume deepens quickly as the perfume moves to a civet and amber making it very mature almost from the start as there’s nothing light nor fluffy about it.  As it continues to develop, the oakmoss pushes itself to the forefront and it’s here the perfume puts out a strong forcefield as it’s all powdered and dry oakmoss, spice and civet.  After quite some time, the perfume begins to retreat a bit and thankfully a beautiful sandalwood laced with warm florals begins to take the perfume from the overt to the almost sublime.  In the end, Essence Rare is still mature, but it’s much more approachable, albeit with a strong personality.

Essence Rare Notes:

Top:  aldehydes, bergamot, lily of the valley
Heart:  geranium, rose, iris
Base:  sandalwood, ambergris, vanilla, oakmoss, musk, tonka bean, vetiver, civet

WHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME:  Forgive me, but the image of Dana Carvey’s “Church Lady” popped in my head.  The perfume seems stuck in the 70s, is a bit unforgiving and begs to be noticed.

THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE ESSENCE RARE:  solid, stocky, bold

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT ESSENCE RARE:  Bois de Jasmin, Fragrantica

BOTTOM LINE:  I found the iceberg bottle pictured above at an antique store for $15, so I thought, why not.  As many of you know, I love vintage perfumes, but Essence Rare is a rarity where it’s anything but a love.  What I typically like about these small extrait bottles is that they generally stay fresher than some of their larger counterparts.  I’m sure that there has been degradation with this, but I believe that Essence Rare was pretty much a powerhouse from day one and it does feel very dated.  So my 2 bones rating is based solely on this bottle…but maybe it’s just that bottle and some day I’ll run into one that makes me reconsider.

It should be noted that Essence Rare was reformulated in 2018 and the perfume was once again created by Jean-Claude Ellena.  But everything that I have read about it states that this new version is much lighter and rather pretty and no doubt more approachable to today’s market.

  • Bone Rating: 2 out of possible 5 bones
  • Scent: Floral Aldehyde
  • Note:  Jean-Claude Ellena
  • Classification: To me, very unisex
  • Expense:  Prices vary.  Review based on the 1976 reissued version parfum extrait.

 


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Guerlain Lui

WHAT I SMELL:  Lui opens with a warm, lightly spiced benzoin that’s deeply sensuous and lightly tar like, but without the heavy weight.  Soon enough, a buzzing carnation makes an entrance in the quietest of ways.  And then, a nutmeg and clove spice begins to take shape after a short time adding just a bit of a bite.  The perfume is rather brooding in it’s spicy persona with a mix of benzoin, leather and vanilla spice carrying the perfume on its journey.  In the end, you’re left with a light smoky dry haze of a perfume that hugs close to the skin.

From the Guerlain website:

Feminine. Masculine. Why choose? LUI is a fragrance that likes to blur the boundaries. Not entirely feminine, nor truly masculine, it is both at once. Inspired by a generation that is breaking free from gender norms, Guerlain had the idea of an unmistakably universal fragrance.

Its ambiguous fragrance trail is based on benzoin: floral, spicy and woody in turn, this resin is revealed in all of its complexity as the composition created by perfumer Delphine Jelk unfolds. Fused with powdery and spicy carnation accents, they form an equally unexpected and harmonious blend.

WHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME:   Autumn in Paris.

THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE LUI:  reserved, contemplative, semi-spicy

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT LUI:  The Black Narcissus, Colognoisseur

BOTTOM LINE:  I love Guerlain perfumes, but I don’t love Lui.  Truly a fall and winter perfume, the nutty-ish spice almost reminds me of the season’s tragic “pumpkin spice” phenomena.  And weirdly, Lui doesn’t make me feel any emotion as I wear it.  Instead, it just rather bores me.

  • Bone Rating:  2.5 out of possible 5 bones
  • Scent: Spicy Woody Floral
  • Nose:  Delphine Jelk
  • Classification:  Unisex
  • Expense:  $185 for 50 ml eau de parfum


17 Comments

Bucoliques de Provence by L’Artisan Parfumeur

bucoliques-de-provenceWHAT I SMELL:  Not surprisingly, Bucoliques de Provence opens with a soft cashmere iris which is soon met with a deep brown sugared and herbal lavender.  It’s slightly medicinal, but very comforting; and in all it’s just so pretty and calming.  Soon, a mix of herbs and spices pepper the lavender, making the perfume feel a bit chewy vs. the standard powdered dry lavender that we associate with the note.  As the perfume continues to develop, it begins to flatten and it takes on a more woody consistency.  At the same time, the spices really come forward…actually, in a quite caustic manner.  What used to be calming, now has an unfortunate bite.  After quite some time, the lavender turns to a laundry detergent familiarity and the perfume feels like it should be used as more of a bed or room spray.  Supposedly there is some leather in here, but I’m not picking any of it up.  Instead I am getting a dried flower kitchen witch vibe…and that’s not a good thing.  After quite some time, the iris comes back in with a light powder and the kitchen witch begins to dissipate.  The perfume becomes soft and kind of pretty…but unfortunately I’m left with a headache caused by the kitchen witch development

kitchen-witch

Kitchen Witch

From the L’Artisan Parfumeur website:

Bucoliques de Provence is a limited edition fragrance. It marks the beginning of a new collection inspired by different regions of France. This perfume pays homage to the history of Grasse. Perfumery in this region with its distinctive lavender fields, dates back to the 17th century and is linked to the historic production of leather. The perfumer has combined lavender and leather with iris and spices creating a soft, faceted scent. Bucoliques de Provence is modern in its pure and naturalistic approach.

Inspired by the savoir-faire of artisans in Grasse, an accord of leathery lavender, modernised by iris and spices.

gray-gooseWHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME:  A gray goose…kind of pretty, but not as pretty as a white swan, a little annoying and not as fun as a duck.

THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE BUCOLIQUES DE PROVENCE: wannabe, wafting, cleanser

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT BUCOLIQUES DE PROVENCE: The Scented Salamander, Chemist in the Bottle

BOTTOM LINE: The perfume’s opening is divine until you get to the kitchen witch in the middle which makes you want to run.  In the end, the perfume does calm down and becomes a quiet powdered iris, but that’s not enough of a save to make me want to come back.

  • Bone Rating:  2.5 out of possible 5 bones
  • Scent: Leather?
  • Nose: Fabrice Pellegrin
  • Classification: Unisex
  • Expense: $105 for 50 ml eau de parfum