Perfume Review: M. Micallef Royal Vintage Eau de Parfum

Vintage Aston Martins, luxurious leather, and Cary Grant…. that is the mental image I Royal Vintagehad in my mind when I first saw the ads for the brand new, just-released Royal Vintage from the French luxury house, M. Micallef. Unfortunately, that is not quite what I experienced when I tried this sometimes perplexing leather fragrance for men.

On its website, M. Micallef describes the perfume as follows:.

ROYAL VINTAGE is a very subtle fragrance: opening on tonic scents of pink berries and bergamot, the assertive notes of cypress and leather are lightened by the patchouly and musk notes. Timeless and elegant. […] ROYAL VINTAGE is a perfume for men with timeless, sophisticated elegance.

The perfume opens with pink pepper and citrus in a way that evokes very classique,M.-MicallefRoyalVintagePerfume  old-fashioned men’s colognes and barber shops. The citrus from the bergamot is not like Earl Grey (something bergamot is often associated with) but, rather, like crisp, light, fresh lemon. It calls to mind very classic aromatic fougères and colognes with their lemony start. Under the veil of the pepper and the lemon, there is the faintest hint of woody notes but it is far from predominant at this stage.

Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow interior.Source: Wedcars.

Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow interior.
Source: Wedcars.

Less than three minutes in, the leather emerges. It smells soft and supple at first and, then, increasingly, like a very, very expensive, new car interior. It’s lovely but, as time goes on, it takes on a sour, almost metallic undertone that was quite surprising. One of the very few reviews already out for Royal Vintage is from the perfume blog, Sensate, which wrote:

The pepper note is very strong at first. It mixed with the bergamot and a woody note to create something resembling Old Spice. It’s a bit urinous too, which is a nice addition.

I was really surprised when I read that comment prior to testing Royal Vintage, but I think Sensate is absolutely correct on all of it. There is a faintly retro call-back to such scents as Old Spice and the sour undertone to the leather does smell a bit “urinous.” The latter soon fades, however, and what is left is a very cold, smoky, peppery leather with an undertone of citrus. I wrote in my notes how the combination seemed very masculine and how it would probably be extremely sexy on a man. But then, something else occurred.

About fifteen minutes in, Royal Vintage takes on an incredibly strong smell of old cigarettes and ashtrays. I blame it mostly on the combination of the pepper — which seems far stronger, blacker, smokier, and more biting than any mere “pink” peppercorn — in conjunction with the cypress. A professional wood-workers site describes the latter as follows:

Cypress trees have a distinctive odor when cut. Some describe the odor as earthy; others say it smells like cedar and a few references call the odor sour.

Others, however, find the aroma to be slightly smoky as well. Here, I suspect that the combination of the biting, smoky pepper, the cypress and the leather has resulted in something that is really a bit unpleasant for me. It’s as though a man dabbled on a very classique, fresh, aromatic, citrus fragrance and then went to work for 14 hours in a very Ashtray Blackmonmooring comsmoky nightclub. Let me be clear, the ashtray note is quite different than the smoky pepper note. They are both present, but there is no doubt that what was wafting from my arm included the smell of stale cigarettes. I was so surprised by the strength of the note that I tried Royal Vintage on twice. The second time, I put on much less than my usual amount. And, still, I smelled stale ashtrays, though it was just slightly more subtle, more hidden by the citrus, and not quite so overwhelming.

At the one hour mark, Royal Vintage is still predominantly biting black pepper, smoke, ashtrays, and citrus on a base of soft leather. To my relief, the ashtray note is significantly less pronounced at this time, and eventually fades away entirely, leaving just the smoky note from the pepper and woods. The citrus note is occasionally a little closer to bergamot, though still never Earl Grey bergamot. As for the leather, I noticed that, at my first try with the higher dose of perfume, the leather was much colder than it was the second time around when I put on much less. To be precise, it retained the “new car” aspects of leather for much longer at a higher dose than the second time around when it seemed much sweeter, warmer and akin to buttery suede. I suspect it all depends on how much the black pepper and cypress notes dominate.

As time progresses, the notes remained fundamentally the same with the smoky pepper becoming much more manageable with every hour. The leather is soft and tame, underpinned by the sweetness of the musk note which starts to rise to the surface. Then, suddenly, at the three-hour mark, patchouli bursts onto the scene. It’s such an abrupt arrival, it’s quite astonishing — as is the fact that Royal Vintage suddenly becomes another perfume entirely. It’s now all sweet patchouli, soft musk, and suede with green, fresh bergamot. The perfume remains that way for another two hours before fading away entirely. All in all, Royal Vintage lasted around six hours on me. It was always a relatively discreet scent with average-to-low sillage and never loud, though it became very close to the skin around the third hour.

I can’t make up my mind if Royal Vintage is a very retro fragrance or not. Cigarette and ashtray notes are old, classique elements that were first introduced around the early 1900s. Perfumers intentionally sought to replicate some of those accords so that more avant-garde women who had picked up the new fad of smoking as part of their new, liberated or progressive lifestyle could disguise their habit. Hence, scents like Habanita from Molinard. The most famous, of course, is the legendary, fabled Tabac Blond (in vintage version) from the famous house of Caron which is beloved in part because of the leathery-cigarette aspects. But with modern society’s disdain for smoking and our recognition of its dangerous effects, cigarette notes are much less common nowadays than they used to be. Tobacco leaves, yes; cigarettes, no. Etat Libre d’Orange paid homage to the old classics with its Jasmine et Cigarette, but that is a perfume house which seeks to be different on purpose.

All in all, I don’t think Royal Vintage is a very old (or old-time) vintage scent, but itsHumphrey Bogart underpinnings can’t be ignored. I think how you interpret it may depend on how well you know (and like) the classics. I find the citrus cologne opening and the cigarette element to be a definite retro touch. And, to be honest, I wasn’t keen on the latter.

And yet, there is undeniable elegance to Humphrey Bogart Casablancathe perfume, especially in its final stage. For some reason that I cannot explain, it brings to mind Humphrey Bogart for me. He was one of the quieter of the masculine, old Hollywood stars. He wasn’t smooth, blatantly good-looking, or rugged (like Cary Grant or Clark Gable, respectively), but he had a quiet masculinity with a deep, underlying toughness. I always think of him in a leather jacket, too, though his trench-coated Casablanca persona is often more well-known.

Are you a fan of leather perfumes? Have you tried anything that called to mind cigarettes and ashtrays? And will that make you hesitate to try Royal Vintage?

Cost & Availability: Royal Vintage will be officially released at the beginning of February 2013, but I do not know the exact date. It is currently available on the Parfums M. Micallef website where it comes in a 1 oz/30 ml size or in a 3.4 oz/100 ml size. I think the larger size costs $185. To be completely honest, I have no idea how to navigate the company’s eternally confusing website (which also moves up and down in an extremely annoying, jittery way) in order to find the prices there. Thankfully, you can buy Royal Vintage at Luckyscent (currently “available for pre-order” with January 31st given as the shipping date), Parfum1, and Parfumerie Nasreen. The sites only offer the larger 3.4 oz/100 ml bottle which retails for $185. According to the Perfume Shrine, quoting from the press release, the UK price for the perfume will be 76 € for a 30ml/ 1oz bottle and 175 € for the 100 ml/3.4 oz size. Outside the U.S., I’ve read that M. Micallef is carried at first-in-fragrance in Germany and fortnumandmason in the UK. If you want to try a sample of the fragrance, you can do so at both Parfum1 and Lucky Scent at the links listed above. LuckyScent sells a 0.7ml vial for $4. I obtained my vial from Parfum1, via eBay, where a 1.2 ml sample is still available for purchase for $4.50 with $2.95 shipping.

New Perfume Releases: Volume 3 – January 26th, 2013

I’ve decided to make “New Perfume Releases” a regular feature of the blog. As always, I will try to cover both men and women’s fragrances, niche and mass-market. So, yes, it will be long, but feel free to scroll through to whatever interests you. (Plus, there are some pretty pictures!) All posts are taken via Now Smell This (NST) or Fragrantica. Each site has some discussion of the fragrance in question so, if you’re interested in further details, be sure to check out the original listing.

Today’s entry will cover everything from the re-invention of a Laura Ashley classic to a new Guerlain lingerie spray, a new M. Micallef fragrance inspired by vintage cars, and the first entirely new perfume from Kerosene in seven years. There will be a return to the oldies with a special Youth Dew limited-edition issue, the clothing house of H&M‘s first “luxury” perfume (in conjunction with the Byredo perfumer), and even a brief foray into the Kardashian world with a fragrance from Khloe Kardashian Odom. (Mea Culpa. I couldn’t really resist.) With a few exceptions, it doesn’t seem as though there are a huge number of new niche scents that will be released in the next few weeks or month.


The much-loved Indie line, Sonoma Scent Studio (SSS), is releasing a new line of natural fragrances. Now Smell This provides the following information:

Indie line Sonoma Scent Studio has launched Cocoa Sandalwood, the first in a new range of all natural fragrances. Upcoming natural fragrances include Spiced Citrus Vetiver and Amber Incense. Also new from the brand is Rose Volupté, which replaces Vintage Rose.

Cocoa Sandalwood ~This all-natural perfume is a gourmand for lovers of natural sandalwood. A luscious cocoa absolute melds with New Caledonia sandalwood absolute, spices, and a lactonic natural peach note. Vanilla and a subtle hint of coffee make the chocolate richer, while woodsy cedar and musky ambrette seed reinforce and complement the sandalwood. For women and men. Additional notes include ginger, cinnamon, clove and rose.

Rose Volupté ~ Rose Volupté is a luxurious plumy rose with a rich base of woods, amber, spices, and labdanum. A warm and long lasting ambery rose. Additional notes include sandalwood, cedar, vetiver, heliotrope, clove, cinnamon, oakmoss and aldehydes.

Sonoma Scent Studio Cocoa Sandalwood and Rose Volupté are available in 5, 17  and 34 ml. (via sonomascentstudio)


According to Fragrantica, one of the most talked-about niche houses in 2012 was the Spanish perfume brand Ramon Monegal. The brand recently announced an exclusive fragrance for Neiman Marcus called Pure Mariposa. The perfume will be released in February 2013, and Fragrantica has the following information:

Pure Mariposa will offer a floral-nectar accord with a festive tone in a dew-covered green forest, surrounded by a breeze of ozonic air, on a rich bottom accord of amber and musk.


Top notes: Orange, Grapefruit Bergamot, Yuzu, Black currant, Plum.
Heart: Oakmoss, Grass accord, Fig, Osmanthus, Jasmine, Lily of the Valley, Rose wardia, Tuberose.
Base: Sandalwood, Cashmeran, Iris, Anchouli, Peach, Tonka, Amber

Pure Mariposa will be available exclusively at Neiman Marcus stores beginning in February 2013. The fragrance is an Eau De Parfum, available in a 50 ml/1.7 oz size and priced at $200.


The Scandanavian clothing brand, H&M, will present its new luxury line called & Other Stories in 2013. Fragrantica states: “The line offers high-quality clothing, fine lingerie, footwear, fashion accessories and a cosmetics line. The first collection of this brand comes out in Spring/Summer 2013. […] As part of this brand, H&M will launch a perfume called Rose Revival, whose creation is signed by Ben Gorham, the man behind niche house Byredo.” There is no information on the notes (besides the obvious rose one) thus far. However, there is a rather cool video if any of you are interested:


Guerlain Eau de LingerieNot a new perfume, but a fabric spray. You see, Guerlain is temporarily going to release a limited-edition lingerie line. (Yes, really. That wasn’t a typo.) And this is the scent that goes with it. NST has the details:

Guerlain will launch Eau de Lingerie, a new scented fabric spray, in February. The spray is being released in conjunction with a limited edition Guerlain lingerie line from Absolutely Pôm.

The powdery floral fragrance will include notes of iris, rose, vanilla, sandalwood, ambrette and white musk.

Guerlain Eau de Lingerie will be available in 125 ml, €65, at Guerlain boutiques.

If you’re interested, NST has a small discussion on what it’s supposed to smell like, as well as links to articles about it in French Marie-Claire and French Vogue. Just click on “details” up above.


Following on the heels of his successful 1 Million fragrance, Paco Rabanne is launching 1 Million Intense. Fragrantica has the following information:

Masculine fragrance 1 Million from the designer house Paco Rabanne has experienced tremendous popularity since it was launched in 2008. The only previous reissue of this perfume is 1 Million Gold Absolutely, a pure perfume version presented in 2012. In 2013, there is also a new version launched – 1 Million Intense. The new perfume is announced as the embodiment of extravagance. 

The spicy – woody – oriental compositions of this intensified and deeper version begins with fresh and spicy notes of blood mandarin, cardamom, black pepper and saffron. Rose absolute, neroli and cinnamon form the perfume’s heart, situated at the base of white leather, orris root, patchouli and sandalwood.

Top notes: blood mandarin, cardamom, pepper, saffron
Heart: rose absolute, neroli, cinnamon
Base: leather, patchouli, sandalwood, orris root

The fragrance is available as 50 and 100 ml Eau de Toilette Intense.


Laura Ashley has re-invented and re-launched their original 1981 fragrance, Laura Ashley No. 1. NST has the following information from the press release:

Exclusively designed for Laura Ashley in 1981, to complement the charming floral prints and delicate geometric designs of that era, the original No.1 fragrance has been reinvented for 2012. Laura Ashley No 1 perfume, 2012 version

Today’s modern interpretation, designed by renowned perfumer, Azzi Glasser, uses the finest ingredients to create an evocative fragrance with top notes of cassis, Victorian plum, violet leaves, marshmallow and green water stem. Heart notes of wild bluebell, purple rose, white gardenia and chamomile provide a beautiful floral scent, whilst base notes of sandalwood, patchouli oil and creamy musk, complement the blend perfectly.

Retaining all the charm of a very floral, fragrant and famous history, the perfume captures the heart of Laura Ashley’s style. The floral bottle replicates perfectly the brand’s identity of bold, beautiful stand-out print, which has defined their place in home decor and fashion as innovative experts, blending old and new to keep their charm.

Laura Ashley No. 1 is available in 30 ($52) and 60 ($68) ml Eau de Parfum, and can be found now at the Laura Ashley US website.

There is a lively discussion on the NST site about the “modern interpretation,” so if you’re interested, have fond memories of the ’80s, or liked Laura Ashley, don’t hesitate to check it out.

In The “I Don’t Have Any Words” Category:

I truly don’t know what to say about this next one and its supposed “vortex,” so I’ll just quote verbatim from Fragrantica:

Married couple Khloe Kardashian Odom and Lamar Odom launched their first joint fragrance Unbreakable (now renamed Unbreakable Bond) in 2011. The fragrance has experienced rapid success, and so did its festive limited edition Unbreakable Joy from 2012.  In February the 2013, the couple will delight their fans with a new fragrance called Unbreakable Love.The new creation is described as a lively and sensual fragrance vortex for women and men. Its top notes include delicate exotic neroli and the citrus freshness of bergamot, associated with a floral heart and deep notes of cedar and musk.

Unbreakable Love is available as 100 ml Eau de Toilette.

This may be the time to bring up, once again, how celebrity perfumes are made, and how marketing, branding, use of the cheapest or most synthetic ingredients, and the financial bottom line are the driving forces — not the desire to make great, original perfume. A fellow blogger, Scent Bound, has a really great discussion of those things in an article entitled: “The Making of a Celebrity Fragrance.”


Yet another flanker. This time for the Dahlia Noir line. It will be called Dahlia Noir L’Eau and will be released sometime in Spring 2013. Fragrantica has the details:

Dahlia Noir L’Eau is more vivid, livelier and a fresher scent than the original, but it is still elegant and sensual. With this composition Francois Demachy wants to show the delicate side of the dangerous black dahlia flower. The top sparkles with cool crystal citruses and neroli, which lead to the floral heart of rose petals. The base is made of patchouli, cedar and musk, giving a chypre character to the perfume.

Top notes: citrus, neroli
Heart: rose Base: patchouli, cedar, musk

The fragrance will be available as 50, 95 and 125 ml Eau de Toilette.


Kerosene Fragrances has a new perfume called Unknown Pleasures. Fragrantica provides the following information:

Kerosene Fragrances Unknown Pleasures is a new fragrance presented in 2013, after seven years. The first fragrance presented by Kerosene Fragrances to the market was R’Oud Elements, and it was followed by seven more editions during 2012.

About the fragrance: “You’re walking down a cold street in Manchester, listening to Joy Division, sipping on a warm cup of London Fog. This fragrance opens up with the smooth sweetness of honey with Earl Grey tea, with a zing of lemon. It dries down to a cozy vanilla, soft tonka bean and waffle cone base, sure to make any gourmand lover smile.” The perfumer of the edition is John Pegg.

Official notes: Earl Grey tea, lemon, honey, bergamot, tonka, caramel, vanilla and waffle cone.

Fragrance Unknown Pleaures has been available in a gold colored flacon 100 ml EDP since 2013.


Estée Lauder’s Youth Dew turns 60! In celebration, the company is releasing a limited-edition anniversary edition in March 2013. You can read all about the history of the famous original in a detailed article on Fragrantica. The site also provides the following information on the special, limited-edition release:

Youth-Dew Limited Edition Estée Lauder for womenThis year, in honor of the jubilee 60th birthday of Youth Dew by Estee Lauder, a limited edition with an unchanged composition has been introduced, in a glass bottle with a ribbon embellished with tiny crystals. The body of the bottle in this case is “tightened with a lovely gold-colored bow that highlights the’waist’ and emphasizes the silhouette.” Small crystals accentuate the festive mood. Youth-Dew Limited Edition 2013 arrives as 67 ml EDP and will be available from March 2013.

Youth-Dew is one of those fragrances that you must try if you really like perfumery. It is one of those that you either love with all your heart or you can never grow fond of it. A fragrance that belongs to history and ancient times, but is also so close and dear to us because it was worn by our grandmothers and mothers. Unique and characteristic. The fragrance that I remember from my early childhood. The fragrance that is respected because of its history and involvement in the development of modern perfumery.

Official notes of the fragrance

(60th birthday of original edition)
top notes: rose, daffodil, lavender
heart: jasmin, ginger, spices
base: moss, vetiver, patchouli

Estée Lauder is also releasing a limited-edition flanker to its Bronze Goddess series called Bronze Goddess Eau Fraiche SkinScentFragrantica provides the following information:

Bronze Goddess Eau Fraiche SkinScent is a new, limited edition of the Bronze Goddess collection which will be launched in March 2013. According to Moodiereport, the new fragrance will be available in duty-free stores in Europe, Middle East, Asia and America.

After golden-turquoise and sunny orange bottles sprinkled with golden glitter, here comes the golden edition—a bottle colored in gold evoking warm summer, hot and soft sand, a luxurious vacation full of excitement spiced with exotic and glamour. The fragrance contains notes of amber warming citrusy zests of mandarin and lemon, with a heart blooming with milky white petals.

Bronze Goddess Eau Fraiche SkinScent 2013
mandarin, lemon, milky floral notes, amber

Bronze Goddess Eau Fraiche SkinScent arrives as limited edition, 100 ml eau fraiche.


The niche house, L’Artisan Parfumeur, will release a new woody-aromatic fragrance called Caligna.  Now Smell This has more details via the company’s press release: “French niche line L’Artisan Parfumeur will launch Caligna, a new woody aromatic fragrance. Caligna will be fronted by dancer Gudrun Ghesquière.” L'Artisan Parfumeur Caligna

Addictive and aromatic. Take a stroll through the Grasse countryside, where mountains and the Mediterranean meet…

L’Artisan Parfumeur, together with perfumer Dora Baghriche-Arnaud, honours an emblematic but less well-known ingredient of the Grasse region: the clary sage. Fresh and sensual, green and woody, fruity and ambery, the highly-facetted clary sage was the starting point for this perfume, and is married to, and enhanced with notes of fig and a jasmine marmalade accord, with all the natural richness of this iconic flower, resulting in an incomparable freshness and luminosity. The warm woody effect of the perfume’s base comes from the resinous depth of lentisk, a native plant of the maquis, and from pine needles, redolent of Mediterranean hillsides.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Caligna will be available in 100 ml Eau de Parfum, £95.


The French luxury niche house of M. Micallef is launching a new fragrance called Royal Vintage in February 2013 that is inspired by beautiful vintage cars. Fragrantica provides information from the company’s press release:

M.Micallef is launching a new fragrance for men named ROYAL VINTAGE at the beginning of February 2013. The new fragrance is dedicated to men with timeless sophisticated elegance, and it gives intensive leather nuances harmoniously blended with strong woody notes and juicy fruits.

In the top notes Royal Vintage offers fruity notes of pink berries and bergamot, followed by leather and cypress in the heart of the composition. Strong masculine notes are warmed with a patchouli accord in the base surrounded with a sensual musky aura.

pink berries, bergamot
cypress, leather
musk, patchouli

“… For this atypical fragrance in our collection, I wanted to reinterpret the EXCLUSIVE bottle using the design codes of these beautiful vintage cars… ” says Martine Micallef. The new bottle of the Royal VIntage fragrance is colored with gray nuances and it comes in very elegant black packaging.


NST has details on a new Stella McCartney fragrance that was just released in the UK. No word on when it will hit the US, though Sephora carries most of the line due to its great popularity, so it’s bound to hit these shores soon. The new fragrance is a flanker to her original L.I.L.Y fragrance but is a stronger version called L.I.L.Y Absolute:

Stella McCartney L.I.L.Y Absolute

Stella McCartney introduces L.I.L.Y ABSOLUTE, her latest, very personal fragrance. Intensely sensual, the affirmation of a fulfilled and confident, modern woman. Mysterious and refined, it fully expresses the woods and lightens the floral notes to create a new, deeper fragrance. It begins with black truffle, spiced with black pepper. The heart is luminous, more illusive, layering lily of the valley, pink pepper and ambrette seeds over a signature of cool oak moss, dry white woods, patchouli and carnal notes of amber. Framed in gold, L.I.L.Y ABSOLUTE evokes a balanced sophistication.

Stella McCartney L.I.L.Y Absolute is available in 50 ml Eau de Parfum, and can be found now at Selfridges in the UK, £65.


Thierry Mugler seems to have developed some sort of refill fountain for his most popular fragrances. It’s called Source, and Fragrantica has more details:

Besides the 20th anniversary of the iconic Angel fragrance (Article: Thierry Mugler Angel Precious Star 20th Birthday Edition, A*Men Gold Edition), Mugler celebrates 20 years of the refill bottles he offers to fans of his fragrances. In that honor he presents Source, a fragrant cell (fragrant fountain) for refills which will “pour” the four most popular editions at the same time: AngelAlienWomanity and Angel Eau de Toilette.

The idea to refill a Mugler flacon will decrease the need for new ones and owners of empty packaging will be delighted with the refills and the somewhat lower price for their favorite perfumes. It is stated that it could save $30 or more on each fragrance if the service is utilized. The latest project of Thierry Mugler Source can be seen in over 2000 stores in France so far, where Thierry Mugler perfumes can be purchased.