Nicolai’s New York Intense by Patricia de Nicolai

A beautiful invigorating fragrance with elements of fougère (citrus lavender oakmoss) and chypre (adding balsam & animalics) structures. The opening is quite dry vigorous citrus (most lemony to me) that is very slightly soapy & powdery, with rapidly entering herbal lavender/thyme & bracing spices. Then subtle incense & waxy floral enter, with fuzzy musks starting to smooth everything out. Finally the gorgeously smooth woody ambery mossy musky balsamic base comes on strong with leathery smoky castoreum as beautiful modifier. IMO, this gorgeous drydown is absolutely the highlight of the fragrance, perfectly balanced, smooth, strong, and persistent. The only weaknesses for me relate to the citrus note in the opening, which is distinctly, but subtly, rough for a while, and also seems a bit too persistent & obscures what would otherwise be even more lovely incense & waxy floral middle phase. Maybe the roughness & overbearingness of the citrus opening followed by exquisite subtly smoky smooth spiciness is a metaphor for New York? But overall this is fantastic & great price for 30 ml bottle.

Nishane’s Ege by Ilias Ermenidis

Ege is a gorgeous contemplative fragrance, but the marketing copy & asserted notes are risible. The dominant theme throughout is aldehydes, with a beautiful slightly metallic soapy fruity fatty waxy citrus herbal spicy aromatic opening. The top is subtle, not overwhelming. The aromaticity transitions into a sweet powdery muguet heart, but the aldehydes remain prominent. As the aldehydes settle down further, a watery oceanic basenote appears (calone, almost certainly), backed up with an exquisitely smooth velvety musky mossy ambergris drydown. This drydown is transparent enough to allow the aldehydes to continue displaying their fruity fatty soapiness, but with absolutely perfect balance & subtlety. I love this fougèrey fragrance, one of my favorite new samples in a long time.

Zoologist’s Nightingale by Tomoo Inaba

This is a beautiful very classical chypre that isn’t breaking new creative ground but is gorgeously composed & resists the impulse towards commercially appealing oversweetness to achieve an exquisite sweet-dry balance that is powdery without being either cloying or dusty. Top is fruity citrus spicy balsamic animalic with a leathery “oud” hint (to me it is more a castoreum + cypriol accord but whatever). Heart is a very strong sustained rosy powdery floral. Base is very well integrated woody balsamic mossy musky accord that continues (appropriately, obvs) the powdery theme. Strength & longevity are very good. The only weakness for me, and it’s a very subjective & subtle one, is a tenacious citrus facet that persists well into the base & distracts from the earlier phases of drydown (altho it does thankfully depart for the extended drydown). But this is a great fragrance! If I didn’t already have an entire row of chypres in my wardrobe, this would be a no-brainer FB purchase. And I may buy it anyway…😹😹😹

MDCI’s L’Homme Aux Gants by Nathalie Feisthauer

Beautiful spicy vanilla fruity leathery opening, and very smooth well-balanced powdery woody balsamic vanilla extended drydown. Where things go off the rails for me is the enormously overdosed hedione floral heart, which is nearly indistinguishable from dozens of “rose oud” fragrances and lasts for hours before finally receding to permit enjoyment of the very nice drydown. It’s a shame, because with an interesting inventive proportionate heart, this otherwise technically adept composition would be a keeper. Excellent strength & longevity.

Nicolai’s Eau de Yuzu by Patricia de Nicolai

Gorgeous perfectly balanced bittersweet citrus (“yuzu”) opening with some meaty woody guaiac backing. Then nice herbal juniper berry chimes in. While there isn’t a heart per se, there does seem to be a muguet floral facet to the very smooth & powdery middle phase. Woody drydown is perfectly balanced musky woody vetiver sweetened with vanilla & remaining hint of citrus even after three hours. This is a fantastic citrus wood cologne composition, and a great price at $50 for 30ml! This is nearly as elegant a citrus woody as Five by Bruno Fazzolari, but is well under half the price.

Pierre Guillaume’s Harmatan Noir

Strong sharp aldehydic citrus & bitter minty green herb over smooth powdery spicy tea, with a lactonic hint. Together these evoke a minty spicy Indian chai with milk. These top notes remain strong & last a very long time (more than one hour), and are suitably fuzzed up with musks. Over this time jasminic floral heart note builds, but itself doesn’t last super long until transition to woody, slightly balsamic, slightly animalic base containing some continuity with preceding greenery. To me, this reads sort of like a chypre, with citrus spicy top, floral heart, woody balsamic animalic base, but is an interestingly different structure than the norm. I love this gorgeous fragrance (indeed bought FB), particularly the opening & transition to floral heart, which isn’t unduly smoothed out/prolonged with the usual suspect aromachemicals.

Les Indemodables O-word Velours by Florence Fouillet Dubois

Citrusy aromatic opening, followed rapidly by mega myrrh with just enough vanilla to make it tolerable, but without overtly sweetening it up. Decent musks smooth out the bottom end. I feel like there’s a lot of isobutyl quinoline in here giving it a strong leathery vibe, but I could be wrong. (There is so much grotesque racist exoticism in the perfume industry, I wish they could at least stop using the O-word as a descriptor. I mean there are many other ways to describe this genre of scent, it’s just unnecessary.)

Jul et Mad’s Nin-Shar by Sidonie Lancesseur

Opening is strong citrus & incense, then transition to herbal sweet-fruity floral top notes. Rosy floral continues into the still very sweet heart to play equal billing with camphoraceous patchouli, supported by fuzzy musks. Base is amber (of the vanilla, labdanum, benzoin kind) & wood. Anything interesting about this composition is obliterated for me by what seems to be pretty substantial overdose of “Grojsman accord” comprising iso E super, methyl ionone gamma, hedione, musk chems. This alludes to POAL, has similar strengths & weaknesses.