Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Tom Ford Fleur de Portofino Private Blend Eau de Parfum
Tom Ford Fleur de Portofino Private Blend Eau de Parfum

Tom Ford Fleur de Portofino Private Blend Eau de Parfum ($215.00 for 1.7 fl. oz.) begins with an initial burst of crisp bergamot and an almost bitter citrus before it shifts to a smooth, more honeyed citrus with softer floral notes within the first few minutes. This phase is characterized by a sheer, airy quality; it’s not a powerhouse Tom Ford scent (much like the other scents in the Portofino family) while it is worn. It has low sillage and hovers above the skin for most of the wear, though it takes about two and a half for two sprays to become a skin scent, and it lasts about eight hours on me. For those who want a more discreet scent that only they can smell, this is more in line with that preference. The scent doesn’t change much as it wears on: it’s always a lightweight, warm, sweet citrus with white florals.  It is the most floral of the Portofino family and feels the lightest. The scent seemed well-blended, but ultimately simple, with moderate longevity against many fragrances but short longevity relative to other Private Blends.

  • Top Notes: lemon, mandarin, bergamot, tangerine, bitter orange leaf, violet leaf, syringa
  • Middle notes: white acacia, cassie tree, mimosa, magnolia, orange flower templar, Moroccan rose absolute, jasmine grandiflorum concrete
  • Base notes: acacia honey, white vanilla, tolu balsam, civet, ambrette seed

Tom Ford Costa Azzurra Private Blend Eau de Parfum ($215.00 for 1.7 fl. oz.) opens with a salty, spicy breeze of subtle, sweetened mandarin. The first half hour sees the appearance of other notes in the scent, like lavender and lemon, with dry woods, while the mandarin recedes and becomes crisper and less sweet, and the scent becomes more dominated by juniper, driftwood, and oud with a salty, aquatic undercurrent. After an hour, the fragrance first smells salty, lightly aquatic, dry and woody (some of the cedar finally comes through), and I get a fair amount of vetiver (which I think tends to be more prominent on my skin) draped over everything. The scent becomes creamier, smoother as the day goes on, as a blend of wood, vetiver, and vanilla with something that keeps it lighter and a bit dry and green.

The fragrance had more low-to-moderate sillage for the first two to three hours, then dropped to low and finally became more of a skin scent by the sixth hour and lingers just hovering over the skin until about ten hours. As a reference point, Tom Ford’s true powerhouse Private Blends (think Oud Wood, Amber Absolute) are detectable even 24 hour later (as a skin scent, of course). Of the Portofino flankers, this one seemed to be one of the more complex ones with greater and longer sillage and wear. There are a lot of notes in it, and they pop-up here and there throughout the wear, though salty, dry driftwood tends to be in the forefront for much of the wear.  It reminds me of a cool, crisp day at the beach.

  • Top Notes: fucus, seaweed, driftwood, agarwood (oud), ambrette seed, celery seed, cardamom
  • Middle notes: armoise, juniper berry, myrtle, basil, French lavender, Italian lemons, yellow mandarin, oak, cedar, cypress
  • Base notes: Lentisque Shrub, olibanum, incense, vetiver, vanilla

Tom Ford Mandarino di Amalfi Private Blend Eau de Parfum ($215.00 for 1.7 fl. oz.) opens as lightly bitter, crisp and green, and zesty with grapefruit, lemon, and mandarin are detected on a long inhale, but it’s all on the soapy side to my nose; very clean, bright, and green initially. Within fifteen minutes, the sillage has dropped noticeably to hovering about six inches over the skin while that soapy element continue to remain. After an hour, that soapiness finally faded away and gave way to the bloom of the sweet floral note of orange blossom, which gave the fragrance a heavier, more indolic feel compared to the opening stage. The scent dries down to an earthy, softer blend of sweet florals and light citrus with a hint of muskiness after two and a half hours and remains in this stage throughout the rest of its stay. Of the three, it dropped down to a skin scent quickly and seemed to fade fastest on me, only lasting about six and a half hours in all.

  • Top Notes: tarragon, spearmint, black currant bud, mandarin, bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, basil
  • Middle notes: black pepper, coriander seed, orange oil, orange flower, clary sage, jasmine, shiso leaf
  • Base notes: vetiver, amber, labdanum, musk, civet

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Fleur de Portofino

The scent doesn't change much as it wears on: it's always a lightweight, warm, sweet citrus with white florals.  It is the most floral of the Portofino family and feels the lightest.
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Costa Azzurra

Of the Portofino flankers, this one seemed to be one of the more complex ones with greater and longer sillage and wear. There are a lot of notes in it, and they pop-up here and there throughout the wear, though salty, dry driftwood tends to be in the forefront for much of the wear.  It reminds me of a cool, crisp day at the beach.
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Mandarino di Amalfi

The scent dries down to an earthy, softer blend of sweet florals and light citrus with a hint of muskiness after two and a half hours and remains in this stage throughout the rest of its stay. Of the three, it dropped down to a skin scent quickly and seemed to fade fastest on me, only lasting about six and a half hours in all.
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Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Arabian Oud Kalemat Eau de Parfum
Arabian Oud Kalemat Eau de Parfum

Arabian Oud Kalemat Eau de Parfum ($59.99 for 3.4 fl. oz.) is described as having the following notes: top — bilberry and anise; middle — rosemary and Kashmir wood; base — musk, sweet amber, honey leaves. I bought this scent-un-smelled on a recommendation from Kafkaesque, though the recommendation was stronger for my husband than for me. It is one of the most elegantly packaged perfumes I’ve personally come across, as it is packaged in a large, rectangular box made to resemble a book. Once opened, with a pull of the brow nribbon, it opens again to reveal the perfume itself.

Initially, right as it was first sprayed and started to dry on the skin, it was a burst of sweet berry jam, which immediately transitioned into a blend of lightly sweetened honey and smoke and some rose. Over the next hour and a half, everything seemed very well-blended; there were few notes that really stood out–a blend of barely-sweetened florals with bits of woodiness, spice, and a sly hint of greenness. It made me think of honeycombs set in a lush garden during late fall, as I still detected the underpinning of smoke, more tobacco-like than incense-like. There was a general sweetness and rosiness that was most notable for the first few hours of Kalemat with a little spiciness and woodiness. After four hours or so, it became a softened blend of amber, woods and musk with honey drizzled on top with a flourish. It’s such a cozy, warm, perfect-for-winter scent. Less heady than some of my other go-tos but not a subtle scent either–it’s a very comforting and warming.

On me, it had moderate sillage for two hours, and then stayed close to the skin for the next ten hours. My husband quite enjoyed it, and he said it was “near the top” of his perfume list, and for him, he also found that the projection wasn’t too large and didn’t project for long, as it wore more closely for him as well.

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Kalemat Eau de Parfum

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Monday, November 11th, 2013

Tom Ford Oud Collection
Tom Ford Oud Collection

Tom Ford Oud Collection is an expansion of the usage of Oud in Tom Ford’s Private Blend fragrance range, which is centered around Oud Wood. I reviewed that scent a few years ago, and it remains my favorite fragrance of all-time (though it jockeys with Tom Ford’s Amber Absolute and Bois Marocain). There were rumors of Oud Wood being discontinued, but luckily the brand confirmed it was staying in line and merely being repackaged for the Oud collection launch.

The collection features three scents: Oud Wood, Tobacco Oud, and Oud Fleur. The latter I don’t have, so I can’t speak on, though it seems to be the more interesting scent between the two newer scents from early reviews. In addition to the two new eau de parfums, Oud Wood now has companions in the form of soap, shower gel, and body moisturizer.  Private Blend fragrances are available in the following sizes:  1.7 fl. oz. ($210), 3.4 fl. oz. ($290), and 8.4 fl. oz. ($520).

To quickly summarize Oud Wood, it opens with a spicy, smoky air–rosewood and cardamom–that is a little sharp initially, but it transforms into an amber and sandalwood mix with an underlying touch of vetiver with just a lingering smokiness. Towards the end, it is a mix of amber, vanilla, and woods; rich and earthy and warm. For a really great, in-depth look at Oud Wood, I recommend this review.

Oud Wood Bar Soap ($35.00) is a lot like the first forty minutes of the eau de parfum, but the scent doesn’t linger on my skin for very long–an hour or so post-shower, and I really can’t detect it. It produces a rich lather that’s hydrating, and thankfully, doesn’t leave the skin feeling squeaky-clean. The Oud Wood Body Moisturizer ($65.00) follows a similar pattern as the fragrance on a more muted scale that always wears close to the skin, though it lingers for far longer than the soap; after eight to ten hours, it’s mostly gone on me. It has the consistency of a slightly thicker lotion, but it is thinner than a cream. To contrast that against the eau de parfum, I can still get faint whiffs the eau de parfum of Oud Wood twenty-four hours later.

Tobacco Oud opens with a burst of smoke, spice, and almost reminds me of incense burning at an altar. It’s dry, like walking in the woods during autumn, when it’s chilly enough that fireplaces are crackling, but there’s no snow or rain yet. Or stepping into a dry sauna–it’s just a lot of smokiness and drier woods to me; I keep thinking cedarwood (which is a note). There’s amber in the background, somewhere, that’s fleeting initially, and then it settles in for a long stay. It morphs into a mix of smoke, spice, amber, labdanum, and the beginning tendrils of vanilla. Finally, it becomes a more comforting, warmer scent that smells of lightly sweetened vanilla with a soft smokiness and a wee bit of spice that lingers. Oud is here and there throughout the first few hours of wear; it’s not the star–the smokiness from tobacco is definitely more in the forefront. If you’re looking for a strong oud note, it’s not in this scent. It has moderate projection and wore twelve to sixteen hours (two sprays) on me.  If you like Tobacco Vanille, Amber Absolute, Sahara Noir, or Oud Wood (or some combination of them), I think you’ll like this one.

Tobacco Oud has received some comparisons to Amber Absolute, which I can see and not see. I found Tobacco Oud’s metamorphosis was greatly influenced by the number of sprays; less than two, and it was very, very dry and lacked warmth, but three sprays gave me that warmth that I missed the first time I wore it, and that warmth made me understand some of the comparisons to Amber Absolute. With that being said, Amber Absolute is much, much heavier on the amber; it’s headier, thicker, warmer, cozier; when Amber Absolute opens, I get that resinous quality but not the smokiness that I wafts from Tobacco Oud. Amber Absolute is also sweeter throughout the wear, where Tobacco Oud turns slightly sweeter from the tonka bean after six to eight hours of wear. Even if the two had more similarities than differences, the most marked difference is that Amber Absolute is a monster–it has more projection, longevity, and overall, it is just more potent. Amber Absolute–one spray split between my wrists–is still a skin scent twenty-four hours after I’ve applied and taken a shower.

Tobacco Oud is standing in front of the hearth and warming your hands, a brief respite from the cool outdoors.  Amber Absolute is curling up in a luxurious blanket in your favorite chair and settling in for the night.

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Tobacco Oud Eau de Parfum

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Oud Wood Eau de Parfum

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Oud Wood Bar Soap

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Saturday, September 28th, 2013

Tory Burch Eau de Parfum
Tory Burch Eau de Parfum

 

Tory Burch Eau de Parfum ($62.00 for 1 oz./30ml, for the bottle pictured, but it is available in various sizes) is supposed to contain the following notes: neroli, grapefruit, cassis, bergamot, peony, tuberose, jasmine sambac, vetiver, and sandalwood. The bottle totally caught my attention–the cap is gorgeous (to me) with its gold metal design and over-sized, square shape.  The opening was a loud, burst of grapefruit that then became a mix of sweetened grapefruit with florals playing in the background. Of the florals in this, tuberose seemed most prominent on my skin, as it was sweet, strong, and a little heady, and then I noticed jasmine tinkling around. I’m missing the creaminess I’d expect from the notes in this. The grapefruit and florals overwhelm the vetiver and neroli; there’s a hint of vetiver lurking about–a little earthy, green vibe I get only if I take a slow inhale with my nose to my wrist and close my eyes.  Two hours in, the vetiver is stronger, more noticeable, but it’s mostly a skin scent at this point.

My overall impression was of an incredibly sweet floral but it seem like something I’ve smelled many times before. For me, it was kind of like some of the more heavily scented moisturizers on the market with something floral-rather that lingers and can be smelled all day long–the scent ran together with all those memories.  I don’t typically reach for floral-heavy scents, though I usually find I can appreciate scents for what they are even if they are not to my personal taste, but I couldn’t get there with this one. Perhaps I was expecting something more complex, given the variety of notes, but if you like something sweet and flowery, it might be right up your alley.

Surprisingly, this fragrance started with a loud bang in its intensity; one spray and I felt like I was still tasting the scent fifteen minutes later.  A half hour into wearing this, my husband walked into my office and walked right back out not being able to take the fragrance (and I had initially applied this in a completely different room). It’s not a good sign when your husband comes in for a hello and instead asks, “What’s the smell? Oh… it’s you,” and immediately leaves.   In my notes, I wrote, “Use less,” after that, but as I continued to wear the scent, it faded very quickly.  After wearing it for an hour, I noticed just how much softer the scent had become.  It also became somewhat soapy after two hours of wear.  By the third hour, it was completely a barely-there skin scent that I was only able to smell if I held my nose against my wrist.  The scent was completely undetectable after four and a half hours.  Perfume usually wears well on me–anywhere from eight hours or greater (usually longer than eight)–and given this is an eau de parfum concentration, I was surprised at how quickly this disappeared. I wish it had started out more moderately and had greater wear.

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Tory Burch Eau de Parfum

I don't typically reach for floral-heavy scents, though I usually find I can appreciate scents for what they are even if they are not to my personal taste, but I couldn't get there with this one. Perhaps I was expecting something more complex, given the variety of notes, but if you like something sweet and flowery, it might be right up your alley.
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Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

 

Disney Kiss the Girl Eau de Parfum
Disney Kiss the Girl Eau de Parfum

Disney Kiss the Girl Eau de Parfum ($58.00 for 1.7 fl. oz.; $19.00 for 0.20 fl. oz.) is described as a “refreshing burst of bergamot, wet cucumber, and ozonic accord, and is brought to life with a splash of water notes, wild lilac, and starfruit, all fused together with warm sandalwood and … ambergris.”

It begins with a blast of bergamot–intensely floral–followed by a cloyingly sweet cucumber note. While I like the freshness and crispness that cucumber can add to a scent, when it’s sweet, it reads very synthetic and oddly placed (almost a stale sweetness). The cucumber, halfway through, is more prominent than the bergamot. The fragrance, overall, was sweet, floral, and aquatic. My personal scent preference is towards sandalwood and amber, but I didn’t pick up either of those two scents; at no point while I wore it was it anything other than bergamot and sweet cucumber. It might be because the scent wears away surprisingly quickly on my skin; it is noticeable and has good sillage for the first hour, but by the second hour, it wears closely to the skin. By the third hour, I couldn’t even detect any more. Normally, the average perfume lasts eight hours on me, with some lasting as long as sixteen (to some degree).

Scent is inherently personal, so if you enjoy either bergamot or cucumber, you may like this.  If you were intrigued by the idea of sandalwood and ambergris, I’d recommend trying to sniff it in-store prior to purchasing.  The rollerball-size is a frosted, aqua bottle with silver seaweed, while the full-size fragrance is in a clear, faceted crystal bottle (just like the perfumes for Cinderella and Jasmine) with clear juice.

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Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Marni Eau de Parfum
Marni Eau de Parfum

Marni Eau de Parfum ($50.00 to $155.00, depending on size) consists of top notes of bergamot, pepper, ginger, and pink peppercorn; heart notes of cardamom, rose, and cinnamon bark; and bottom notes of patchouli, incense, vetiver, and cedarwood.  When I initially opened up the box and tested it (on a whim, really, because I hadn’t even photographed it), I had no idea what to expect, but I was so very pleasantly surprised to find it an intriguing, nearly unisex scent that delivers on its promise.

Overall, the scent is driven by rose and smoky, dry woods. It opens with a burst of pepper and something fresh–a little green and I almost get a hint of citrus–that gives way to spicy cinnamon, ginger, and rose. As it dries down, the warmth of the cedarwood comes forth along with a darker, powdery rose. It’s not too heavy; on my skin, I really noted the ginger and spices that gave it a brightness that made it seem lighter, more wearable. But it was still warm, woody, a little smoky, and spicy. Everything seemed incredibly well-blended and done in moderation, and accordingly, it wears close to the skin with minimal sillage but did last for eight hours noticeably on my skin, and then lingered for as long as twelve if I really looked for it.

Another thing I also liked was that it comes in a few sizes: purse spray (0.34 fl. oz./$50.00), which actually comes with a doll; and then the more traditional sizes of 2.2 fl. oz./$105.00 and 4.0 fl. oz./$155.00 were all listed at Saks, though Marni’s own website also lists a 1.0 fl. oz. and 0.33 oz. (“gift box”). No matter how much you love a product, if you don’t use it regularly, it can be hard to finish–true for perfume and makeup (though the former tends to have a much longer shelf life!). Nonetheless, fragrance can have a high investment cost per bottle, so it’s nice when you can still enjoy the scent and its bottling aesthetic in a smaller size.  It comes in a glass bottle with translucent polka dots and a bright, shiny red cap.

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