Tom Ford Private Blend Tobacco Oud ~ fragrance review

Tom Ford Private Blend Tobacco Oud

I’ve never been tempted to smoke, but I love the smell of tobacco. Years ago I lived in an apartment whose former occupant smoked Dutch Masters cigarillos. I found a few empty packages — plus an envelope crammed with skull x-rays, go figure — in a cupboard. When the seasons turned, the fetid aroma of long-dead cigarillos wafted from the sheetrock. Delicious. Where I now live, on warm nights my neighbor settles into his backyard hot tub after swing shift at the sewage treatment plant and watches movies on his laptop while he smokes cigars. I like smelling the hint of smoke that made it as far as my bedroom window.

But, for me, head and shoulders above these smells is the aroma of pipe tobacco. Maybe it’s because one of my grandfathers smoked a pipe (when he wasn’t burning through packages of Winstons, that is), or maybe it’s the romantic idea of things associated with pipes — wood-paneled libraries, fireplaces, and cocker spaniels — that allures me. Whatever the case, I’ve longed to find a perfume that captures this fragrance without being too sweet or on-the-nose precious.

Could Tom Ford Private Blend Tobacco Oud be it? I ordered a decant unsniffed…

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Memo Luxor Oud ~ fragrance review

At Luxor, Thebes, Upper Egypt

French niche line Memo just launched Luxor Oud* (Oud of the Pharaohs), an olfactory nod to “ancient Egypt and its monumental architecture;” Memo PR provides images of Luxor, the Nile, and crocodiles (ever smelled a crocodile?) Having recently seen the striking Tutankhamun exhibit here in Seattle, I was ready for a perfume snapshot of the New Kingdom. I wanted a spooky-quirky “mummification” perfume (ingredients used in preserving the body after death included beeswax, honey, juniper berries, cinnamon, lichen, palm wine, resins from evergreen trees, wet earth from the Nile riverbanks…even tar (used during the Greco-Roman period). I would also have been thrilled with a kyphi (incense) perfume, with aromas of herbs, wine, raisins, mastic, honey and storax.

Perhaps what I wanted from Luxor Oud was too “literal” and unimaginative? After spraying on Luxor Oud for the first time, I wondered: “Were there strawberries in ancient Egypt?” “Was Luxor the birthplace of fruity perfumes?”

Luxor Oud reminds me of a better-made, higher quality Estée Lauder Wood Mystique — a fruit-ful oud(ish) fragrance. Luxor Oud opens with a powerful fruit accord, accent not on citrus but on red fruits (not the ugly raspberry-scented toilet paper note of Wood Mystique but a smoky strawberry aroma). A mellow, low-impact rose note tinges the fruit — supplying a hint of flowers…

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Estee Lauder Wood Mystique ~ fragrance review

Estee Lauder Wood Mystique advert

Last October, Estee Lauder launched Wood Mystique* — a unisex, limited edition oud fragrance aimed at the Middle East perfume consumer. Ad copy swooned: “Elegant, mysterious, lavish…enter a world of opulence and richness beyond compare.” As much as I like Estee Lauder, this was something like Betty Crocker launching a “complete” Lebanese meal in a box — “Beirut Skillet! Come Visit the Souk in One Easy Pan! And Clean-up’s Easy!” I wasn’t convinced the concept would work.

As soon as I sprayed on Wood Mystique, I was dismayed; it smells a tad tawdry and destitute, “worn out” — like a Tennessee Williams heroine who’s seen better times and is trying to make ends meet and keep up appearances (Blanche DuBois transported to Cairo, black haired, eyes outlined with kohl, sporting a well-worn thawb). Wood Mystique’s powdery-tart roses and pale peonies smell of dusty, dry flower arrangements. These floral notes, for all the hype of their purity and naturalness, have an artificial vibe, like aromas you’d smell on scented facial tissues…

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Robert Piguet Casbah, Nasomatto Pardon & Linari Fuoco Infernale ~ fragrance reviews

Robert Piguet Casbah, Nasomatto Pardon, Linari Fuoco Infernale fragrance bottles

I do not exaggerate; at this moment, I have SIXTEEN perfumes on my desk that ‘deserve’ reviews…for summer. The best I’ll be able to do (summer is going by fast) is combine these fragrances into four or five reviews; so today I’m writing about three fragrances I like and never got around to reviewing when they were released.

Robert Piguet Casbah

Robert Piguet Casbah (from the Nouvelle Collection and “dedicated” to Morocco) was developed by perfumer Aurélien Guichard and includes notes of cedar, iris, pepper, nutmeg, angelica root, vetiver, tobacco leaf, smoky floral accord and incense.

Casbah is a rich, leather-incense fragrance (it would fit in perfectly with the Comme des Garçons incense line). As I sniff Casbah, I detect pepper, nutmeg, smoke and vetiver (while wearing Casbah, the spice notes sometimes blend with the incense smoke to create the aroma of an exotic, well-spiced dish cooking on a hearth). Casbah is a well-blended incense fragrance; the note that stands out most forcefully is leather (a smooth, semi-sweet leather). As I wear Casbah, I notice a shift from the early “food-y” stage of the fragrance to a more “churchy” incense scent near the end of the perfume’s development…

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Histoires de Parfums Petroleum ~ fragrance review

gas pump

Admission: I was a clandestine gasoline sniffer. As a child, whenever I filled the gas tank of the lawn mower or outboard motor, I’d save, and sniff, the cotton rags I’d use to mop up the gas can; those gasoline-drenched rags smelled heavenly to me. Enter: Histoires de Parfums Pétroleum (by perfumer Gerald Ghislain). In the Pétroleum PR materials, reference is made to “Black Gold”…and I’m not sure if that’s describing oud or petroleum (both would qualify for that title, I guess, and both aromas are present in Pétroleum).

Pétroleum includes fragrance notes of oud, bergamot, orange, aldehydes, rose, amber, civet absolute, leather, patchouli and white musk; the fragrance opens with strong aldehydes tinged with orange and smooth, almost powdery, leather. As this rather “lush” opening subsides, I detect the “petrol” aspect of the fragrance…

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