Serge Lutens Five O’Clock Au Gingembre & Bvlgari Blv Pour Homme ~ fragrance reviews

Getting to know civet as a fragrance note can make you gag. Put some costus roots under your nose one fine morn and you may skip breakfast. “Investigating” ginger, doing your ginger homework, is more pleasant: take a crisp ginger root and rub it between your fingers, bruise it with your fingernail, and inhale its lively and clean aroma (bite into the root for added credit); smell and taste yellow powdered ginger; slowly chew a piece of sticky, candied ginger; drink an old fashioned spicy ginger ale; and finally, eat a moist slice of warm gingerbread, straight from the oven, washed down with a ginger infusion, made using boiling water and sliced ginger root (sugar and milk optional). You are now ready to recognize ginger in fragrance.

Serge Lutens Five O'Clock Au Gingembre

In his Five O’Clock Au Gingembre Eau de Parfum, Serge Lutens places candied (not fresh) ginger in a tea-time setting and surrounds it with foody notes — bergamot, tea, honey, cinnamon, glacé fruits and vanilla (with added touches of vetiver, amber and woods). Five O’Clock Au Gingembre has many gingery stages: it starts off “wet” and dense, smelling like ginger cough syrup, then the scent quickly develops to reveal a moist ginger cake aroma and the perfume ends a bit dry — mimicking the aroma of crisp ginger cookies. As Five O’Clock Au Gingembre reaches its conclusion, I smell a bit of amber-y wood and diffuse musk. Five O’Clock Au Gingembre reminds me of Dolce & Gabbana The One for Men; the spice cookie accord I like in that fragrance is similar to Five O’Clock’s ginger ‘desserts’. Five O’Clock Au Gingembre has good lasting power and sillage; it’s a nice enough perfume, and like many ‘English-style’ high teas served at swanky hotels, Five O’Clock Au Gingembre is filling (it performs well) and elegantly presented, but holds no surprises for the taste buds (or nostrils).

Serge Lutens Five O’Clock Au Gingembre is available in 50 ml Eau de Parfum for $120; for buying information, see the listing for Serge Lutens under Perfume Houses.

Bvlgari Blv Pour Homme

Blvgari Blv Pour HommeAlmost a year ago, a Canadian perfume blogger was kind enough to send me lots of perfume samples – including a Bvlgari Blv mini. I ignored Blv because I’m prejudiced — against blue perfume bottles and blue perfume juice; when I see “blue” associated with fragrance, I think of awful ozone and marine fragrance notes (yes, I’ve written about my blue phobia for years; you may yawn). I was fooled by Blv, or simply a fool, because the fragrance has nothing to do with ‘water’ or ‘fresh air’ — it’s a cologne built around a ginger (galangal) note and also contains tobacco flower, gray teak, cardamom, gingko leaves, juniper berries and sandalwood.

Like Five O’Clock Au Gingembre, Blv provides no dramatic twists and turns, no surprises for the wearer. Blv opens with an indistinct woody-floral accord — the wood is dry and the flowers are sweet. What ginger resides in Blv is smooth and not foody; any freshness Blv’s ginger possesses is overpowered by dusty woods, “flowers” and, especially, aromatic juniper berries and cardamom. Gingko seeds can smell disgusting, and fresh ginko leaves smell cabbage-y to me; if there’s any ginko in Blv it’s well hidden — thank goodness. Overall, Blv is a pleasant-smelling, uncomplicated cologne and its powdery-musky base notes smell clean and soapy — and start to grate on my nerves as the day progresses and those base notes refuse to fade. When smelled alongside Five O’Clock Au Gingembre, Blv smells “adolescent” and inexpensive. Are there any great ginger-centered fragrances? Please comment if you have a recommendation.

Bvlgari Blv is available in 30, 50 and 100 ml Eau de Toilette.

Note: first image is Morning Cup of Tea by Heidi Schachtschneider aka dragonflysky at Flickr, some rights reserved.

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  1. capillary says:

    It looks like these comments are missing, Robin, just FYI!

    • Robin says:

      Thanks so much for noticing, will copy them below!

  2. Robin says:

    The 50 original comments for this article were not properly imported when we moved domains in 3/09, so I’ve copied them below in one large chunk:

    On July 2, 2008 bartamy said:
    Great review, thanks. The ginger in D&G’s The One (Homme) was too sharp for my taastes; the SL Gingembre was much better; more rounded, not sharp at all.
    On July 2, 2008 KevinS said:
    Yes, SL 5 O’Clock is smooth; I like my ginger to slap me around a bit! K
    On July 2, 2008 joe805 said:
    I’ll have to try the SL at some point. I cast Blv Homme aside after sampling my mini when I first received it, then I tried it again after reading about the supposed “ginger” notes. I guess I get something spicy, but it smells nothing to me like fresh or even powdered ginger spice. Blv Homme is the kind of synthetic I hate even though it starts out pleasant (though too “generic men’s frag” for my taste), and I become nauseated after awhile by the cheap-smelling synthetic musk base (which I’ve noticed in other Bvlgaris). Thanks for the reviews.
    On July 2, 2008 KevinS said:
    Joe: the base of Blv is never-ending,never-fading.
    On July 2, 2008 oblitterati said:
    Two of my favorite scents! Years ago I adored BLV and wore it nearly daily. I haven’t sniffed it since, and I’m afraid it won’t seem nearly as sophisticated as it did when I was actually an adolescent. At the time I thought it had an unusual 5spice/dried ginger/roast duck in Chinatown thing going which I hadn’t encountered before. I still think it’s a cool scent for a teen girl, but I do recall it becoming cloyingly foody on hot days. Ahh.. nostagia.
    On July 2, 2008 KevinS said:
    oblitterati: Roast duck! HA! Maybe that was the gingko!
    On July 2, 2008 joe805 said:
    Oblitterati: was this the women’s or the men’s version of Blv you were wearing?
    On July 3, 2008 oblitterati said:
    I’m actually not sure. When I first started wearing it, there was only one BLV that was marketed as unisex. I remember that unisex became one of the sexes and they launched a partner, but I don’t recall whether it became the mens version or the ladies.
    On July 2, 2008 george3b said:
    hmmm..the SL sounds very interesting. I think the only ginger fragrance I’ve smelt was Zenzero which I liked (have sniffed The One for men but was put off by some sour middle note).
    On July 2, 2008 KevinS said:
    george3b: Zenzero…one I’ve never tried, thanks.
    On July 3, 2008 george3b said:
    Kevin, Zenzero is for women.. =) The top notes have a lot of ginger to it but it soon fades and turns into something very similar to Vanille Noire du Mexique. Nice but not FBW.
    On July 2, 2008 bartamy said:
    George, I agree with you about that middle note. I’m trying to look past it, but so far it’s been unsuccessful.
    On July 2, 2008 Mikeperez23 said:
    Great ginger? What about Envy for Men by Gucci?

    I was deeply disappointed in 5OAG also – it seemed too too similar to Rousse, and that honey note in the base note really annoyed my nose.

    I’m holding out for the new Serge Noire.
    On July 2, 2008 KevinS said:
    Mikeperez23: sometimes the readily available passes me by…have never smelled Envy for Men!
    On July 2, 2008 SFLizbeth said:
    I love both ginger and bergamot (sipping ginger tea as I write)….. I might have to try this one to see how it develops.

    I always have to try SL frags a few times to see if they’ll work for me.
    On July 2, 2008 KevinS said:
    SFlizbeth: ginger/bergamot go well together…esp. with black tea.
    On July 2, 2008 SFLizbeth said:
    Kevin, thanks for the tip!
    On July 2, 2008 HopeB said:
    There’s something oddly appealing about a gingery, English high tea perfume–but I don’t know if I’d pay SL prices for one. I think I try it, if it weren’t so $$$–what I love it !?
    On July 2, 2008 KevinS said:
    HopeB: perfume prices, like gasoline, seem to be on an unstoppable rise…niche stuff especially.
    On July 2, 2008 marchlion said:
    Hey, Kevin — totally seconding the Envy for Men — speaking of fragrances you wouldn’t touch with a barge pole (it looks like Scope mouthwash) except I read about it in The Guide and I love ginger.

    I thought Envy was great, although then I went on a search to amp up its ginger, which fades too quickly for me. You could layer it with the Serge (which I find dull, frankly, at that price) or, cheaply, the Origins ginger essence (they have an $18 rollerball) or my personal fave, Roger & Gallet Gingembre.
    On July 2, 2008 KevinS said:
    March: oh…WILL try the R&G Gingembre…(and forgot to say yesterday on your blog…if you DO end up buying that long old-timey floral dress and bonnet…POST A PHOTO! )
    On July 2, 2008 Ann said:
    Kevin, I do love ginger in all of its edible forms, but I”m still a learner when it comes to ginger as fragrance note. And I’m hesitant to admit that I haven’t even tried the 5:00 yet. Well, I’ll have to remedy that or I’ll get kicked out of the perfumista club!

    But I digress. I’ve only worn one frag with ginger in it that I can recall, which is Three as Four. This was a ltd edition put out by Colette a year or two ago and has a lovely iris/ginger accord. Don’t know if it would be suitable at all for a man, though. Let me know if you’d like to try a sample.
    On July 2, 2008 KevinS said:
    Ann: I LOVED that scent, and like an IDIOT didn’t buy a bottle when I had the chance. At the time I thought it too, a-hem, expensive. Oh how times have changed…it was a bargain price.
    On July 2, 2008 Ann said:
    Almost everything I bought a couple of years ago or more seems like a bargain now! :-\
    On July 2, 2008 dagmar said:
    I have not tried the BB yet but it sounds lovely. The SL I really like but not sure enough to buy. About 5 minutes after a spritz, it smelled really really smoky to me, then softened into a lovely gingery spice. I like the idea of tea-based scents and hope to see more of them. However, I was disappointed in L’Artisan’s “Tea for Two,” which smelled a little too harsh and tobacco-y.
    On July 2, 2008 KevinS said:
    dagmar: tea scents are problematic it seems…the ones I’ve really LOVED have been ones that fade within minutes. Did you ever try the tea from comme des garcons in the green series? smoky, but LONG lasting.
    On July 3, 2008 dagmar said:
    Thanks, KevinS I’ll have to try that one.. Has anyone ever tried, “Sky Between the Branches?” (tea not perfume). It’s a green tea but not fruity and boy is it delicious-smelling. Would make a beautiful perfume base.
    On July 2, 2008 2scents said:
    I love ginger in any form and I love 5 o’clock. I bought a bottle during the recent Beautyhabit discount and I am very pleased with it. I think that if it came from any other house than SL it would be getting a lot more love. And perhaps tea scents are not as au courant as they were several years ago. Of course, a totally different take on ginger is the new Jardin Apres La Mousson, which reminds me a lot more of a true ginger soda on a hot day.
    On July 2, 2008 KevinS said:
    2scents: I’m afraid my skin neutralizes Mousson almost on contact unless I drench myself in it…it’s so watery and quiet on me.
    On July 2, 2008 monkeytoe said:
    I really like Pacifica’s Tibetan Mountain Temple. It isn’t a pure ginger, but the ginger really blooms on my skin with undercurrents of orange, vetiver, and frankincense. Plus it is cheap–less than twenty bucks for 1.2 ounces.
    On July 3, 2008 KevinS said:
    Monkeytoe: didn’t realize TibetanMt Temple was in an EdT…I have tried the candle.
    On July 3, 2008 jawhara said:
    Ginger Lily by Hong Kong based label Shanghai Tang definitely is a great ginger scent. It starts of very fresh (no “big fresh note”, though…) and invigorating with ginger and citrus, which over the course of one or two hours slowly morph into what strangely always reminds of some kind “vanilla plastic”. Sounds horrible, but in reality is a very pleasant, slightly powdery, unsweet vanilla, that wears very close to the skin and fits nicely with the label’s tong-in-cheek/ pop art attitude.
    Sadly it’s only available in one of their boutiques (see
    On July 3, 2008 KevinS said:
    jawhara: thanks
    On July 3, 2008 bklyn fragrance lover said:
    Montale has Ginger Musk, I haven’t smelled it though.
    On July 3, 2008 KevinS said:
    bklyn fragrance lover: knowing Montale, the musk triumphs
    On July 3, 2008 lareinarumbera said:
    i’ve been wearing blv for women for years now, i love the hot/cold thing the ginger does in this… great review of the men’s version, which also has a nice gingery note…

    ginger is definitely a spicy yet clean note that i don’t tire of easily.

    on an unrelated note, i tried several of the recommendations from three weeks ago – next up on my list to buy is l’eau par kenzo and/or (most likely… and, not or) parfum de l’ete (also by kenzo) and probably hermes (?) orange verte concentree… thanks for the suggestions, everyone, and especially the lovely lady, ROBIN! i’ll probably pick them up duty free on my way back home.

    someone also told me to try fresh hesperides, has anyone tried that one? supposely it’s a citrus that’s designed to last longer.
    On July 3, 2008 NowSmellThis said:
    So glad the Monday Mail article was helpful! I’ve only tried the Fresh scent on paper, not on skin, but Bond No. 9 Eau de New York is another long lasting citrus.
    On July 3, 2008 SFLizbeth said:
    I’ve tried the fresh hesperides, but it turns very sharp on me. Fresh used to make a scent called Cukecumber de bai, but discontinued it. It lasted for avg 6-7 hours on me, and was fresh, crisp & clean at the same time.
    On July 3, 2008 oblitterati said:
    I’ve had a similar experience. The citrus is very sharp and bitter grapefruit that at first I didn’t care for, but then later when I tried it on my skin on a hot day it softened into something quite lovely. It’s worth a try.
    On July 3, 2008 sarcon said:
    I love ginger. I’ve been enjoying Reed’s extra ginger ale and GUS dry gingerale. yum.

    anyway, a cheapie but a goodie is Revlon Skinlights scent, if you can still find it. Ginger and lavender. it’s sort of soft and sharp at the same time.

    I also like DSH’s various ginger fragrances.
    On July 4, 2008 KevinS said:
    sarcon: hm, a crisp ginger-herbal lavender does sound nice.
    On July 3, 2008 IrisNobile said:
    Of course my favorite ginger is my long time awaited Un Jardin Apres La Mousson… the ginger opening is number one, number one, and only one to me! The fragrance is so unique, beautifully done I am so happy to finally own a bottle. Also another one worth mentioning would be Donna Karan Deliscious Night, i would never guess that Donna can pull this off. I adore the opening of the candied ginger, my favorite snack afterall! There is also this fragrance called Cabotine by Gres, now this one features that beautiful flower called ginger lily. It is actually a very unique, a little retro fragrance. It is just a little bit spicy, more floral but very nice. Anything else? If I think of anything else I’ll let ya’ll know!

    As for the Blv pour homme, I bought it before for my boyfriend. He liked it at first, then got kinda bored with it – so I put my hands on the bottle. It actually does have a hint of ginger/lemon/herbs in the opening, then it quickly becomes a little more woody, and kind of creamy too. It reminds me of my beloved Noa by Cacharel, seriously! Nice one, I think for both men and women.
    On July 3, 2008 StarAngel said:
    I adore this Serge Luten’s fragrance. It starts out very spicy and almost too masculine for me. But the dry down is so wonderful! Sometimes it smells very lime/coke. Sometimes I think I’m wearing Cartier’s Le Baiser Du Dragon. I love the changing nature of it, and also the sillage. I’ve been wearing it all day, and it’s just now starting to fade away.
    On July 4, 2008 KevinS said:
    Iris Nobile: I’m with your beau…the LONG lasting drydown of Blv is too much…unless you adore those last notes it is a trying time.
    On July 3, 2008 pearlbailey said:
    For some kick-ass ginger, try Liz Zorn’s “Ginger in Love” perfume oil extrait. It’s like a ginger soliflore. Serious ginger action, with a little vanilla, hint of orange, spices.
    It’s not on the Soivohle web site currently, but I emailed her a few months ago to ask if it was discontinued and she said she still had it in stock in her store.

    Enjoyed your reviews Kevin! I like the 5 O’Clock, and bought the bottle unsniffed when it launched, since I knew the notes were right up my alley, but it hasn’t beaten out Rousse as my spicy favorite….
    On July 4, 2008 KevinS said:
    pearlbailey: I always like to hear when an unsniffed purchase works out. K
    On July 4, 2008 nlb said:
    I’ve been wanting to try this for a little while, but I have to admit…their releasing “Five O’clock eau Gingembre” to the U.S. market, while not releasing something like “Iris Silver Mist”, offended my delicate sensibilities–what, so now Americans are only content when shoving food in their faces? We can only stretch our imaginations to include a big slice of gingerbread cake smothered in honey? Now, mind you, that does sound totally scrumptious…with a perfectly steaming cup of “Constant Comment” tea accompanying it, perhaps with a dash of cream and nutmeg…but anyway. I should try this. Perhaps the limited releases have more to do with public health regulations than anything else, so I suppose I’ll let this one slide.

    You could always grab the new Tom Ford release, if ginger is your current flavor; albeit, he seems to appreciate notes that appear to be rolled in used underpants, then put through something like a santitization/pasturization process.

    A cheapie and goodie is Origin’s “Ginger Essence”. It doesn’t develop into anything deeply evocative or complex but it certainly smells like ginger. And it makes people around you appear happy and very nice. I’m not sure whose perception is being altered in the process.
    On July 4, 2008 KevinS said:
    nlb: the Tom Ford (the One) didn’t do it for me unfortunately and Origins ginger disappears quickly (my skin eats light ginger I guess). You’d think SL would do a limited release in the US of Iris Silver Mist!
    On July 5, 2008 dagmar said:
    Especially as “Perfumes: The Guide” talks about it so much! I’ve dying to smell it.
    On July 5, 2008 KevinS said:
    Buy a sample online and satisfy your curiosity!

  3. obsernity says:

    BLV is on its way from ebay after finding an offer I couldn’t refuse. I love marine accords (or is that the Aqva only?) or fresh woodies and blue doesn’t put me off. At £24 for 100ml, including postage, it’s well under even the best offer my store could come up with.
    Another guilt-less purchase to add to my collection :)

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