The Average, The Banal, The Bad & The Ugly: Vol. 1

MFK Baccarat Rouge via

MFK Baccarat Rouge via

I’m introducing a new feature or section to the site focusing, as the title suggests, on The Average, The Banal, The Bad & The Ugly. The name is a play on Sergio Leone’s famous film, “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly,” but none of the fragrances covered here rise to the level of truly “good.” Not by my standards, or in my opinion. A handful of the fragrances may, at best, be deemed “Average” or decent, but they’re a small handful and, in some cases, the classification may be relative to the abysmal character of others in the line, to the price, or something else.

Whether it’s Roja Dove, LM Parfums, MFK, or a smaller brand, they’re all capable of putting out something that is simply not worth extensive discussion, so I’m going to do things very differently in this section as compared to my regular reviews. There won’t be note lists, official descriptions, links to Fragrantica, discussion of other people’s experiences as a comparison, photos of every bottle, a long list of retail links, or anything else. I’m going to take a page out of what Luca Turin and so many other people do, and simply give my opinion in the most general, synthesized fashion possible. In some cases, it may only be a single sentence. In others, I’ll lump five or six fragrances into one passing observation about their overall character. In both cases, it will probably be because they were scrubbers or bored me into a state of total apathy.

I realise this approach won’t be helpful to you in terms of specifics, but I’m afraid I have little choice. I receive so many fragrances each week that I have a backlog of more than 140 samples at this point, and I’m starting to feel quite overwhelmed. Plus, I’m unwilling to write 20 or 30 negative reviews in a row, particularly not in my usual detail. It would be a turn-off for you, the reader, but it would also be a bore for both of us if I were to repeat the same issues or problems again and again, post after post.

Flaming Red by Santi Burgas. Source: Fragrantica.

Flaming Red by Santi Burgas. Source: Fragrantica.

More importantly, it would kill any interest I have left in writing about perfume. And that interest has already been significantly — and very negatively — affected by the sheer number of truly mediocre to dire creations released in the last 12 to 18 months. I’m not the only one who thinks so, either; a good number of my friends and other bloggers as well feel that the distinctiveness or quality of recent releases has declined, perhaps because so many brands are simply churning out more and more fragrances per year.

Whatever the particular reason, I smell so many things each week that either leave me feeling wholly apathetic or that I scrub off with horror that it’s become a really big dilemma for me. It’s exhausting to write thousands of words about something one hates, but I dread it just as much for things that are merely average or banal. But if I were to only write about things I loved passionately, I would probably only post 5 or 6 times a year. So my choice is either to stay silent, to let it impact me to the point where I give up blogging entirely, or to do this, even if that means that there won’t be the sort of detailed explanation that you may have come to expect from me, or any substantive explanation at all.

So, with that explanation of things to come, let’s get to today’s fragrances.


Berdoues Grands Crus Ouds. Source: Pinterest.

Berdoues Grands Crus Ouds. Source: Pinterest.

Oud Wa Ward: It starts as a goopy, fruitchouli-slathered, fruity-floral rose with oud, saffron, and some sharp woody synthetic and eventually turns into a slightly animalic, cheesy oud with synthetic woods and sharp white musk. The cheesy oud in its later stages is decent but, taken as a whole, the fragrance is unimaginative, boring, and redundant. I can’t see the need in this world for yet another fruitchouli rose-oud that is equal to or just barely a step up from a Montale.

Oud Wa Misk: A soft, honeyed, sweet, lemony rose with oud and musk that is much cleaner, fresher, and crisper than its brother, Wa Ward. Better at first than Wa Ward, but perhaps even more banal in the long run when it turns into a generic, vaguely oud-ish, woody scent with extremely sharp, laundry clean, white musk.

Oud Wa Vanilla: Screechy, candied, sugared vanilla with screechy, goopy, gloppy fruitchouli and a rather Westernized “oud,” all engulfed by a screechy, laundry clean white musk. A total scrubber that I couldn’t bear to keep on my skin. Like the others, it also feels totally generic, perhaps even more so. You can find this sort of thing in any cheap Arab shop for significantly less than the $140 retail price asked here.


Un Amore Eterno. Source: Fragrantica.

Un Amore Eterno. Source: Fragrantica.

Clean, soft iris/orris that is accompanied in the opening minutes by a sharp, dry, antiseptically clean, chemical woody note which smells like an ISO E-based synthetic. That fades from sight and visibility, replaced by a powdery, sweet, meringue-ish heliotrope, a thin dusting of Guerlainade-style tonka vanilla, and a clean musk. Over time, a pinch of abstract spiciness joins the mix, along with an indeterminate dark sweetness. Un Amore Eterno is supposed to be a cocoa-dusted iris scent but, on my skin, there was no actual chocolate in any of the three times I tried it, not even when I poured a good part of the vial on my arm. At its core, it’s always nothing more than a powdery, slightly sweetened, Guerlain-style, iris-driven Floral Woody Musk. The sillage and projection are extremely low, and this is surprisingly soft, quiet, and discreet for Roja Dove, although the longevity is excellent.

It feels flat, lifeless, and utterly bland. In my notes, I repeatedly used the word “flaccid” to describe some of its parts and the overall composition. The cumulative effect for me is not only a characterless scent, but one that is completely unmemorable. Such a sad, little, flaccid thing. I couldn’t imagine spending a few hundreds on it, let alone $525 or £375 price for a mere 50 ml. That’s an astonishing figure, if you ask me. For any other brand, Un Amore Eterno would be an average to decent scent; for Roja Parfums, it’s arguably mediocre; but for $525, it’s an eye-roller.


Lemony, honeyed, sweet roses dusted with fiery saffron and screechingly synthetic, Westernized oud. Rose-ouds are a dime a dozen, and this one lacks even the quality of oud to make it stand out. $455 or £295 a bottle? Ridiculous.


Scandinavian Crime: Norlimbanol up the gazoo. A blistering amount of Norlimbanol is infused with some nose-searing, spicy woody chemical, then splattered with some fruity, pink pepper goop, before being dunked in a vat of some woody-amber aromachemical. Scandinavian Crime was originally released as a Russian exclusive called Unique Russia, but there is nothing “unique” about the scent, not for Russia, Scandinavia or any other part of the world. In my opinion, nothing here separates Scandinavian Crime from a plethora of existing woody-spicy fragrances by Menditorrosa, Nasomatto, Orto Parisi, Montale, or several other brands.



Even if one puts aside the rather astonishing quantity of aggressively strong synthetics, it feels like a “crime” for a house such as LM Parfums to put out such a boring, uninteresting perfume given the sorts of things they use to create. I used to love this brand, and eagerly looked forward to every new release. Now, I simply dread it. I can’t believe this is the same house that made Hard Leather, Sensual Orchid, Army of Lovers, or the interesting, rather original twist on patchouli with Patchouli Boheme. My reviews have gotten more and more negative over the last two years, they’ve stopped sending me the perfumes as a result (which is, quite frankly, a huge relief), and my reaction each time I try one of the latest ones can essentially be summed up by the photo to the right.

Aldeheyx: As compared to Scandinavian Crime, this is almost… er… okay? Well, no, not really, because this sort of ultra-clean aldehydic bouquet was already perfected by LM Parfums in its significantly better, chic-er, polished, and rather appealing Chemise Blanche. I’m hardly one who loves aldehydic fragrances, but that one is extremely well done. It’s a soft, barely floral, ineffably polished minimalistic cleanness that evokes the image and feel of a crisp, white shirt. In contrast, Aldeheyx has a soapy, sterile, razor-sharp chemical cleanness that is exactly the scent of my dry-cleaner’s shop. To a “T.” The German Shepherd in me continues to grimace.


Santi Burgas is a Spanish niche brand that has been around since 2008 or 2009, and I tried all six of the fragrances in its White Collection. I thought Miss Betty Vair, Oikb, and Egnaro were uninteresting, mundane, and unoriginal things with a loudly synthetic character. They were so forgettable that I couldn’t recall anything about them within a day or so of testing, and I have a rather decent olfactory memory.

Photo: Lies Rosema.

Photo: Lies Rosema.

Flaming Red: My feelings about Flaming Red can be summed up by the photo to the left. It makes LM Parfums’ Scandinavian Crime look like the height of natural perfumery, and takes the super chemicals to a whole new level. It completely shut down my nose. For an entire day. Before I got to that point, the notes seemed to be some sort of mix of the lethally powerful Cedramber with Trisamber, Norlimbanol, and, I think, Amber Xtreme. At least, that was my initial impression and a rough guess because I was left utterly reeling from a mere 15 minutes of Flaming Red which seared the inside of my nose, prevented me from being able to smell anything properly for a full 24 hours, and made me physically ill. I tried to test it on a scent strip later, but that was just as bad. (Plus, the strip fumigated the corridor in which it was placed, radiating 5-alarm forest fire smoke, rubber, tar, “oud,” and spiced amber-woody chemicals for more than 20 feet, giving me a piercing migraine even when standing at a distance.)

Bottom line: If the police ever run out of tear gas, I suggest they use Flaming Red instead.

Oud de Burgas: This one isn’t dire, and actually has very good, authentic, properly Middle Eastern Sufiya agarwood, although it won’t be for everyone. It opens with runny, fermented blue cheese oud and animalic barnyard aromas, complete with the scent of steaming, hot cow patties. There is a quiet smokiness that eventually turns intensive, as well as some sharply rubbered, tarry, smoky woody-amber chemicals. The overall result is not a smooth, elegant, refined, or filtered oud blend, but an in-your-face, raw, butch, animalic oud with equally rough leather, smoke, and woods. But there is a place and audience for ouds like this, and it’s not bad. I may be unimpressed by the quality of the materials accompanying the oud, and might think that the blend as a whole is merely average, but at least the key note makes Oud de Burgas stand out and feel distinctive as compared to the many faux-ouds out there. So, if you’re a hardcore oud fanatic, this one is probably worth your testing.

Eau Dada: The only other one worth a sniff, in my opinion, is Eau Dada. This was actually my favourite of the lot at first, thanks to wave after wave of labdanum amber and spicy patchouli, laced with streaks of boozy vanilla. It’s an incredibly basic, simple, linear blend, but wonderfully rich, dark, spicy, and chewy at first. The problem is that sharp, abrasively raspy woody aromachemicals are tossed in as well, first wafting quietly but then turning quite screechy. They impact the smoothness and richness of the main patchouli-labdabum blend, turning it sharp, rough, and overly dry. By the time the drydown rolls around, they’ve very much taken over. The result isn’t for me, but Eau Dada is still the best of the lot, in my opinion, and worth a try if you love patchouli, labdanum amber, or both.

As a side note, Santi Burgas perfumes cost $170 or €145 for 100 ml bottle of EDP, except for its Oud de Burgas which is $340 or €295. Santi Burgas sells individual or complete set samples on its website, and ships worldwide. The fragrances are also sold at MinNY and Essenza Nobile.


I’ve smelt a lot of things in the last year that have made me recoil from their sweetness, but, God in heaven, this may be the most extreme. Even worse, it feels and reminds me of things like La Vie est Belle, Flowerbomb, Alien, Pink Sugar, and any number of tooth-aching, candy-floss, indeterminately floral commercial fragrances that you can find for $24.99 in TJ Maxx and which are dominated by a tsunami of pure white sugar, burnt caramelized vanilla, generically “ambered” syrup, and razor-sharp laundry musk. If I had blindly smelt an unmarked bottle, not once, never, not in a million years, would I have thought it came from Maison Francis Kurkdjian. I wouldn’t have thought it was a niche perfume at all. Baccarat Rouge 540 was one of the fragrances where the mere thought of writing one of my usual, detailed, proper reviews made me want to avoid blogging entirely. Each time I smell it, I shudder even more. I think it’s godawful.


Eric Buterbaugh is the celebrity florist to the stars, from Madonna to Demi Moore and Princess Special Alien Snowflake, Gwhiney Paltrow. Given his uber-florist status, I’d expected his seven fragrances to involve rich, deep, hefty florals. Instead, I found them to be impressionistic abstractions and astonishingly synthetic in feel. My two favourite flowers in the entire world, tuberose and hyacinth, were rendered bloodless, then turned even more shapeless and amorphous with a welter of clean musk. The hyacinth was particularly and painfully indeterminate. The rose fragrance was the best of the lot, I suppose, at least relatively speaking, because it had the most clearly delineated notes and identity. Even so, I thought the entire collection was the olfactory equivalent of tofu.

Disclosure: I purchased my samples of Roja Dove’s Un Amore Eterno, Grossmith’s Saffron Rose, and MFK’s Baccarat Rouge. Samples of all the other fragrances discussed here were provided by the respective perfume companies, their agents, or their distributors, with the exception of the LM Parfums samples which were provided by Luckyscent. As always, where I obtain my samples makes no difference to my review or my assessment. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.

66 thoughts on “The Average, The Banal, The Bad & The Ugly: Vol. 1

  1. Great idea! I cannot imagine any other way of dealing with the..blah fragrances out there. And there are so many. (BTW, I really liked Santi Burgas’s Loence.) Cannot wait to read more in this format. 🙂

    • Thank you, Bruno. I’m glad the new format excites you. I’ll still do long-form, detailed reviews, but only for fragrances that merit detailed discussion, don’t leave me numb, or aren’t scrubbers. As for Santi Burgas’ Loence, I haven’t tried it, but will look it up now to see the notes.

  2. Wow, I had the same impressions as you with some scents but didn’t dare to verbalise it like that – thanks for you honest Review. I cannot stand the exuberant adulation I read sometimes in perfume blogs. So I save my money for- hopefully – upcoming scent beauties.

      • Well, would you please give it a try?
        This is Fabrice Croisé here, co-founder of the brand.
        I have delighted in Kafkaesque’s reviews for as long as I can remember, but cannot help but disagree on this one 🙂
        We worked really hard on our fragrances, and dug deep until we fell in love.
        Could it really be that we were so wrong, 8 times?

  3. Thank you for your honesty. We need it! Too many niche brand are quite “protected”, sometime it’s nice and they deserve it but sometime they feel free to do what they want only because of a huge concept, packaging, title & Co. So, thank you again!

    • Thank you, it’s kind of you, Zino. And you’re absolutely right, some brands deserve protection through silence because they’re small, starting out, don’t have massive PR or big funds, are made by totally indie artisans, or some other relevant factor. Big or wealthy companies don’t deserve the same consideration, nor do brands whose fragrances are expensive, that receive endlessly positive praise in certain quarters, or get gushing magazine coverage. There needs to be a counter-balance to all that once in a blue moon, even if it’s merely one person’s opinion. Niche perfumes cost too much these days for one-sided coverage or self-imposed silence.

  4. You know, it’s amusing and refreshing to see this article. It’s a breath of fresh air from your usually comprehensive reviews of fragrances. Maybe it’s a good deed to write something negative, just to balance out the karma I guess.

    I do feel that there are a number of fragrances out there that are mediocre at best but are priced otherwise. Even if the price is astronomical, at least if the fragrance is very well-done, it will seem more justified albeit subjective.

    I haven’t had the (dis)pleasure of trying the fragrances here except for MFK’s Baccarat Rouge. Don’t really have a negative impression of the fragrance: I have no idea what amberwood smells like, but Baccarat does smell like slightly burnt sugar/caramel to me. Not much on the laundry musk, though. It’s different from his usual (I guess signature?) light / floral / clean / feminine-centric fragrances, that’s for sure.

    Can’t wait to see which other fragrances will go down in flames in the next volume 😛

    • I’ll be saving this particular feature for when I have another 20 expensive perfumes to get through in one go that don’t merit extensive discussion, or that left me apathetic, so the next post actually won’t be Vol. 2. It will be more typical, normal reviews, albeit 3 fragrances in one go from a single brand and still part of my attempt to simplify and streamline things. It was actually my New Year’s resolution to be more concise, less verbose, and I clearly failed at that. lol. But I’m going to try to get back on the wagon of concision, at least to the extent that someone like me can manage. 😀 😛

  5. To be honest, and everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I don’t see the point in taking the time to publish anything negative about another person’s work. It doesn’t matter if you like them or not. It is something that someone has put thought, energy and care into and there is most likely some feeling or another attached to it. And for all you know, there may be people out there who really love one of those fragrances. Who are you to say what is good and what isn’t in such a mean and public way? You should honestly think more about other people before you publish such negative opinions. It’s more than a little bit selfish.

    • Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion. You and me alike. Positive or negative. As to the general principle, merit, or value of publishing negative reviews, we shall have to agree to disagree. I shall understand perfectly if you choose to stick to sites that are always laudatory and positive. Feel free not to read me. I wish you the best.

    • Dear bgirlrhapsody, I don’t want to open a polemic, but it seems that you’re doing exactly what you blame.
      By the way, each creator in the art industry know that they’re exposed to positive and negative feedback. If they can’t assume it, it’s better to make “art” for themselves. As a buyer, it’s interesting for me to know what other perfume lover thinks about some brands. I’m free to follow their direction, I’m free to buy what I want, I’m free to never come back on this blog. We’re a free, me, you, Kafka. So, I don’t think there is a reason for Kafka to “think more about other people before to publish anything”.

      As every opinion is welcomed in my mind, thank you for yours.

      • Totally fair point. I suppose I just like to think of other people before I say something they may find hurtful. I approach almost everything in a way whereby another person’s actual feelings outweigh whatever opinion I may have of them or their work. And, as you say, a certain level of thick skin is usually expected, I don’t necessarily feel that gives one carte blanche to have a poke whenever they fancy it. I mean, it’s super great having spaces to talk about perfumes – great ones and not so great ones – but there are people on the other sides of those bottles too.

    • So are you saying, bgirlrhapsody, that all perfume blogs should always write good things about the perfumes they sample? Why bother writing at all then? Just because someone puts something up for sale, it certainly doesn’t mean they put “put thought, energy and care into” it. Maybe it’s about the money and they just slopped it together.
      “Selfish”??????? Well I better shut up or Kafka will throw me out of “comments”. I have a bit of a temper. LOL
      Kafka – What a wonderful idea! I don’t really want to read about lousy perfumes. Don’t let the sea of mediocrity ruin something you enjoy so much. This blog is a breath of fresh air. I have gotten bored with blogs that gush about or praise everything. They tell me nothing.

      On a plus note, I tried Sensual Orchid. I really really like it. 🙂

      • Hi – would love to weigh in on this, as I am now thrilled to know which ouds not to try. I appreciate the notion of not hurting feelings, but in some instances I don’t buy into the anthropomorphization of corporations: a company isn’t a person. To me, perfume lies in the realm of the aesthetic, like films, paintings, installations, music. A luxury as well as a necessity to help us apprehend the depths and the unexplained or unverbalized in our existence as humans with imaginary capacities. No one would tell off a film critique for completely dismantling a movie on rotten tomatoes, and certainly people go head to head with different opinions. We are all entitled to our own as part of the landscape. I believe K has been quite delicate with small niche houses, and contributed to the growth of several of them, with no self-profit.
        So my point is: when was the last time anyone complained that a film had been criticized in public or an art installation intellectually analyzed as inferior? I think this form of public and critical discourse in fact raises perfumes even more to the level of art as opposed to capitalistic object.
        Thanks K

      • Maya, you’re always a sweetheart, and I appreciate your constant kindnesses to me, past, present, and, undoubtedly, future. Thank you, my dear.

        Onto other topics, yay for Sensual Orchid! As Paskale recently discovered, it really blooms in the heat and becomes something quite head-turning. She’d originally tried it in winter and thought it was nice, but when she tried it again in hot weather, there was such a difference that she fell hard and bought a full bottle. I don’t know the weather where you live, but I wouldn’t be completely surprised if that played a role for you, too. Sensual Orchid seems to turn extra lush and narcotic in warm weather. I have no doubt you smell wonderful in it. Does your daughter like it? (I’ll never forget how Romanza turned out on her skin, and how horrified she was by the experience. hahaha)

    • I see your point bgirlrhapsody, but any artist has to know she or he will be both criticized and loved. Vive la Free Speech! I like to hear what reviewers have to say about new fragrances, positive or negative. I liked a couple of the Eric Buterbaughs myself, but I am in no way offended by Kafkaesque’s comments. I enjoy reading others’ opinions about fragrances no matter what they are. To each his own!

      • Yeah, totally. I’m not offended by them at all. I’ve enjoyed many things K’s written tbh. And it’s interesting to talk about ways of expressing opinions in intelligent and constructive ways.

    • If you don’t have anything nice to say say nothing at all? Hmm. I’ll have to disagree. We all rely on Kafka and reviewers in general to be fair, (brutally) honest and show integrity. Too many ‘online guru’s’ are being paid and sponsored by companies to shower them and their products with praise (whether it’s justified or not). I guess I prefer integrity in this case.

      • Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Missyaparis. To me, it’s the beauty/makeup world that is really plagued with online sponsorship or payment, especially in the case of Instagram stars. With perfume, though, I think the main problem is self-censorship. But it’s one thing to avoid saying anything negative about a tiny indie, artisanal or start-up brand, and quite another when it comes to big, wealthy, or PR-backed perfume houses. It’s also a different situation there are a flood of positive reviews but self-censorship has led to no comment on the other side to give a different perspective, even if it’s just one person’s personal feelings and subjective experience.

        At the end of the day, none of these products come for free and do not involve a volunteer effort. It’s commerce. And sometimes, a different, dissenting perspective is important, particularly when the products are not cheap.

        My interest has never been to benefit the perfume houses, but the consumer. I’m not here to help perfume houses to sell their expensive products. The fragrances I cover are not $50 things, but luxury and uber luxury products. So my goal has always been to help the average person make a decision on how to spend what little money they may have. Not to help the perfume houses. I would prefer not to write at all than to write only if it were positive, especially if it didn’t reflect what I really felt inside. It would be akin to having a blog where current events are only posted or described in a way intended to help the politicians.

        Excepting the situations that I listed at the top, particularly tiny, unfunded brands that are JUST starting out (in which case I avoid giving negative reviews as an ethical principle), I really think that the consumer or the little people should matter far more than the company. There seems to be the thought or mindset in more than one quarter that it’s the company which should be the lauded, praised focus or beneficiary of reviews. I find that to be completely bizarre or baffling. Guerlain, Grossmith, MFK, Kilian, even smaller houses like Arquiste, Jeroboam, Berdoues, Nasomatto, Eric Buterbaugh, etc., none of their stuff is being given away for free or for cheap!

  6. I remember asking you about MFK Baccarat Rouge maybe in January. I never did sample that and glad I didn’t Let’s see; I wondered about Santi Burgas, Saffron Rose, Scandinavian Crime. Roja Dove too? Oh, also the Berdoues were tempting me just by the middle eastern hype and I rather liked the look of the bottles but never sampled.
    My God Kafka, 140 samples??!! Bless you. Bless your nose btw. 😉 Have any of these bad, worse, worst given you a migraine? If not: unreal.
    Great new feature, although I am not so sure for you. :/

    • Yeah, the samples have piled up, mostly because it takes me so long to test things. I do it on skin, almost never ever on scent strips because I believe that muffles some of the notes and, perhaps more importantly, doesn’t reflect the full degree or strength of any aromachemicals that may be in a fragrance. A perfumer (who uses synthetics) feels the same way and once told me much the same thing. The point is, I generally test on skin, and I typically test something a few times, so the result is that it can take me much longer than most to test a fragrance.

      When you factor in the time it takes to write detailed analysis for a single fragrance, the time it takes to find retail links, comparative reviews, photos, and the rest, it means less time to test or get through all the other samples, sometimes even from the same collection or line. So, things pile up even more.

      I have to figure out some way to get through the backlog. It’s madness otherwise, and makes me not want to write about anything at all, especially when something is merely average. Luca Turin takes a synthesized, overall synopsis approach without quoting note lists or official descriptions, without giving comparative reviews or pricing, etc., and so do many other bloggers. It’s efficient, so I’m going to try to do something similar, even if it’s completely against my normal tendencies and nature. We’ll see how well I manage.

      • It must become disheartening after so many “merely average” testings; I never use those scent strips after joining the blog. All those SA’s standing around with them,waving the unsuspecting in. But then I no longer can stand to go to a department store or wherever- I just say no thank you and think to myself all of the merely average stuff I used to buy. After discovering the real stuff, all that other is relegated to impulses at wearing what I thought was *the* thing of the moment although not all were average. 🙂

  7. Kafka I for one am glad you’ve shifted to this format because if that’s what saves your sanity as a blogger that’s my biggest concern. I would hate for you to quit completely. As a perfumistas on a budget I want quality for my money and am horrified by so many high end houses using synthetics and charging $250+ per bottle. I feel your honest and sometimes scathing reviews have saved me money and at the same time pointed me toward high quality fragrances that don’t break the bank. Thank you for being you.

    • Awww, thank you for the very sweet comment. Me being me is a massive pain in my own tush. LOL. So, I need to find a way to manage things better and more efficiently, particularly when dealing with a whole slew of fragrances at a time and when none of them excite me. But I have no plans to censor myself or to stop giving my personal opinion of how something comes across to me.

  8. XD, overwhelmed with samples. I just sent a whole bunch to a person, had too, I still have to many. I have sampled a couple from LM, I don’t remember what they are right now off hand, I’ll have to go back and check . I have sampled one from Rojas. It was an extrait , powerful in the opening, but then pulled back. I have a whole bag of MFK samples that I haven’t gotten to yet. For the sweets, I do have the 18 mil of Parfumum Roma’s, Vanitas, I like it, but it is very sweet. I would like to thank you for the introduction to Sammarco’s, Bond T. Lovely and I will be purchasing it. It lasts on me. I have sampled a natural ,House of Matriarch’s ,Coco Blanch. It’s very nice , but it just doesn’t project enough especially for the price.I did pick up a 5mil of it though. Their Orca I couldn’t hardly detect. I did purchase MDCI’s ,Chpyre Palatin. I have sampled Orto Parisi , Bergamask, I believe that is what it called, wow. All you need is one drop. I had one person who did enjoy Nasamatto’s, Duro , but said Bergamask was just to strong. Duro, on me, just didn’t last. The higher they raise the price on some of these, the higher my eyebrows rise . I don’t understand the price to quality these days. I do love and own a natural called Hiram Green’s ,Voyage . Very nice for the price. Apoteker Tepe’s, Peradam is also very nice for the price .I do own that one too. Lorenzo Villoresi along with Monsillage offer nice fragrances for the price.I have one Monsillage. Right now I am sampling Mikmoi Aqua Fortis and I am happily surprised so far .Why I have mentioned a number of these is that there are better fragrances out there for the price. MDCI’s Invasion Barbare aside .I could bathe in that one. Sorry for the rambling.I am glad you are feeling better. I read all of you articles and appreciate your very honest reviews. I don’t comment on a lot of you them, for I tend to wonder off. Thank you again.

    • Hurrah for Bond-T!! I’m so happy you love that one, and I’m pleased you found a few other things you’ve enjoyed from other brands, JBS. Chypre Palatin is superb and a personal favourite, and I also share your appreciation for Hiram Green’s Voyage as well. It’s interesting that Nasomatto’s Duro didn’t last on you. Given the Nasomatto style and some of the extremely powerful materials he always uses, I wonder if you’re anosmic to a few of the aromachemicals. Either it’s that or your skin chemistry really eats through base notes which would be a shame. BTW, some of the House of Matriach fragrances had soft projection and sillage on my skin as well. Without looking up my notes, I think Coco Blanche was one of them, if I recall correctly.

  9. It does seem like the industry is going crazy trying to release so many fragrances, new brands are popping up left and right and TBH, it seems like a money-grab and they think the quality of the fragrances don’t even matter. This is just the impression I get, I could be wrong… but given that the new format seems reasonable and necessary. As much as you hate writing long reviews of bad fragrances, I’m sure most don’t love reading that much about something that isn’t worth anyone’s time or money, so it’s a win-win. And hopefully it will encourage the industry to do a little more thinking before releasing a fragrance. And at this point, it might be best for everyone if some of the industry is weeded out.

    • The number of new releases each year, simply within certain houses, is shooting up just as much as the prices. I do agree with you and think it’s a money-grab, in some cases. When brands like Roja Dove release 5, 6, sometimes 7 things each year, (some of which are $525 or $545 (!!) for only 50 ml… !) well, it simply can’t be like the old days when Guerlain worked for 6 or 7 years to perfect one single fragrance. Something will suffer. And, really, $500+ a scent, Grossmith’s $455, or LM Parfums’ slightly lower prices, relatively speaking, that’s a lot of money. For me personally, I don’t think a good number of the particular fragrances I’ve written about today are worth it. Others will disagree, no doubt. And that’s fine.

      With regard to this short(er) format, it will really only be for this feature, which will hardly be an every day occurrence. I don’t plan on there being multiple volumes of this in a row, one after another. I’ll save it for when there are a lot of expensive or big fragrances that I can’t bear to write about in detail. That said, I plan to streamline my regular reviews as much as possible, whenever and wherever possible, for the sake of readers and myself alike.

      In any event, thank you for your support and understanding, Dorje.

      • Loving this new review format so much! I think we the readers, sometimes take you for granted, and the time you give to your love of perfumes and in helping us experience them, i realise your backlog of samples etc and dissilusion with the current flood of overpriced, overated, mediocre fragrances can dent your enthusiasm and maybe even cause you to not enjoy writing your blog etc as much, also there is the issue of time, im sure you have lots of other things going on in your life too, and there are only 24 hours in a day!

        Why should mediocre perfumes warrant the same detailed reviews as wonderful ones? The time, thought, detail and effort you put into your reviews make it a great experience in itself, even the carefully chosen illustrations help to take the reader on a a sensual journey, with this new streamlined form of reviews, we will now be sure that any long journey, will lead to a great destination! We dont need to spend the same quantity of time, reading as many in depth, detailed reviews of lesser scents, only to find out at the end that they are mediocre and not worth the crazy prices their makers feel justified in asking for them! So i say keep up the great work, your knowledge and input have saved us all much time, expense, and dissapointment!

        Thankyou again so much K.

        • I was extremely touched by your kind, thoughtful, and generous comments, Hasan, particularly as the regular reviews do take quite a considerable amount of time. Thank you for seeing and recognizing that, but also for everything else you wrote. It means more to me than you can know.

  10. Thank you dear for those reviews. I trust your tastes and will stay away from them except for one – I am sooo curious about Oud de Burgas, where can I find a sample?

    By the way the pictures of the German Shepards made me laugh out loud!

    • I provided a link to the Santi Burgas’ brand page for anyone who wanted to sample the Oud or Eau Dada. If you go to the link in the review, go to the perfume list page, click on the Oud de Burgas, then click on the size or bottle option. It should show a scroll down feature that drops to show the individual sample and its price. You can buy a single sample there, on that actual Oud de Burgas page, or there are Discovery Sets of samples on the main perfumes page if you want to try more than one thing. I hope that helps.

      • Oh I didn’t see it! Thank you! I just ordered a generous 3ml sample! I cannot wait!

  11. I love this post! Early, I was already having a bad day and you made me laugh. No, negative reviews don’t usually make me laugh, and I think we all sometimes feel bad about criticizing other people’s work. But you made the words descriptive and funny, lightening my mood. I don’t always comment but wanted to encourage these posts. First, think of the money you saved people (as well as the aggravation of paying a lot for an awful scent). Second, you write so well even snippets are a pleasure to read.
    You made my day!

    • Thank you for the very sweet comment, Megan. 🙂 I’m sorry you were having a bad day, and I hope the rest of your week is better, but I’m glad I could lighten your mood just a little yesterday.

  12. Dear Kafka as always thank you for the review. I was curious about LM Unique Russia (and remember asking you about it last year – a friend’s mother was coming here to visit from Russia so I was debating asking her to bring over a bottle). Good thing I did not!!! There was no reviews on it.
    Thank you for all the honesty. We need your and other people’s unbiased opinions – too often the reviews are not objective

    • Ah, yes, I remember you asking about Unique Russia now, Marianna. It was during the Malefic Tattoo review, but Unique Russia was a hard-to-access exclusive back then. I don’t know a ton about your personal tastes and the notes you love/hate, but, from what little I do know, I don’t think Unique Russia/Scandinavian Crime would be up your alley. No, not you, not this. So, you’re right, it’s just as well you didn’t get bottle back then.

  13. Someone’s got to do do this, and you do it so well! Bravo! I love the format.

    You’re entirely right that writing 20-30 bad reviews in a row would not only bore us (my comment above notwithstanding) but I’d hate for you to stop blogging, or endure any negative consequences whatsoever. Myself? I’ve smelled lots of lovely new scents lately, but I don’t smell as many as you by a lonnnggggg shot!

    Scandinavian Crime is a truly awful name for a fragrance, though I imagine if it were fabulous, I’d be thinking it was clever. Then again, I’m rather (no, totally) sick of cleverness in fragrance names and concepts.

    • The “cleverness in fragrance names and concepts” thing can be a big turn off when it’s not accompanied by actual quality, substance, or distinctiveness in the scent(s). There are a few brands that I’ve tried lately where I honestly think they spent more time on the concepts, names, story, and design graphics than on the actual compositions. They really should be the subject of Vol. 2, and I had mulled over that for weeks now, to be honest. But I won’t mention them in the end because they’re not big, wealthy houses like Roja Dove, LM Parfums, MFK, Grossmith, etc., their fragrances aren’t hugely over-priced, and/or they haven’t hired actual PR management marketing firms like two of the brands in this post to publicize or back them. That sort of thing makes a difference.

  14. I love these reviews. These are the best ever. More of this, please! I felt the same way about Baccarat Rouge. I kept trying it and going, “What? What is this goop?” It smells synthetic and too sweet and rather gelatinous. Gwhiney Paltrow might like it for her “Goop” pages.

    I actually like a couple of the Eric Buterbaughs, violet is pretty good, but then I do like Jean Claude Ellena’s work so I can do the impressionistic thing that lots of folks think is bland and soulless-lol.

    • By the way, I have at least 50 vials to sample myself. I’m just giving up on some of them and selling them on Ebay untouched. The ones I didn’t pay for and some that I did are going!

      I must say my biggest recent disappointment has been Prada Purple Rain. I could not find a sample anywhere and as you know I love, iris, orris, adore it. So I had a friend get Purple Rain for me in Paris. I saved $65 and thought all was great, but I have to say I think I threw away my $. I’m pretty disgusted with Prada and with myself for buying it. I like the fragrance, nice orris and vetiver notes, but it’s here and gone in 15 minutes. To try to make it last I layered it with my $24 Fragonard Iris and what can I smell 6 hours later? You guessed it, the Fragonard and only the Fragonard. I’m pretty unhappy since I like the Prada Infusions generally, especially the original Infusion d’Iris and the Prada boutique Violette No. 7 is lovely.

      So I’m just going to spray that Purple Rain vaporous nothingness till the cows come home and use it up so I can toss the bottle into the recycling bin with my best look of disdain! I’m sticking with Teo Cabanel….

      • “Purple Rain vaporous nothingness”…. ROFL!!! The choice of name is interesting given that it must have been conceived and created wayyyyyyyy before Prince’s death. I wonder if there were copyright issues or a payment for use of the name? As for the actual scent, 15 minutes on your skin? Ouch! That’s a huge disappointment, especially as I can’t imagine the scent was cheap, $65 European savings or not. Not even the vetiver part lingered on?

        You know, the issue of recent purchase disappointments and the accompanying corollary of recent happy surprises would be a good topic for one of my Questions chat posts. I had another idea for the next one, but, with your permission, I’ll keep the Disappointments/Surprises thread idea for future use.

    • GOOP… ha, I have the sneaking suspicion that you and I share the same feelings about Ms. Paltrow. Did you read about her recommendation for a monthly, $400-a-pop, infra-red steam-cleaning of uteruses and lady bits? Or the recommendation to pray, chant, and sing to one’s facial toner and face creams for them to be truly effective? Hmph.

      Regarding Baccarat Rouge, I must confess that part of me is a little surprised that you didn’t enjoy it because I know how much you’ve come to adore gourmands(although I know you also dislike a lot of white musk). Was it the synthetics and musk that made the difference in this case for you?

      • Oh dear, I missed the steam cleaning- ugh! At first I did think I might like Baccarat Rouge but it was the mass of synthetics and the musk that overwhelmed the rose. I do like some sweet roses like Keiko Mecheri’s Attar de Roses.

  15. Whatever keeps you doing what you do so well, my dear!

    The comments here should give you some comfort as to how much your readers support and trust you. We don’t need to be told what to love, but we respect and value your experience and guidance. You are always so generous of your time and insight in guiding your readers towards things they will enjoy, that work for them. A format like this is a necessary part of that process.

    Part of being an educated consumer is knowing how to read positive and negative reviews in balance: knowing who to trust and where our tastes overlap, or diverge, is a key part of that.

    I just purchased a bottle of Moon Bloom, which I adore, and would never have sought out if it wasn’t for you. I discovered Anubis through your wonderful detailed review. You’ve also saved me time, money, and any number of synthetic-induced headaches from some of the abysmal offerings of recent months. I appreciate you saving me time and money seeking out perfumes that would not work for me. Add me to the list of those who appreciate the honesty!

    • You’re always so sweet, Lellabelle. And a big hurrah for Moon Bloom!!! Anubis, too, but that one gets a lot of attention, while Moon Bloom does not. I’m so glad you love it (and tuberose) as much as I do. Poor little, polarizing, hated little tuberose. 😉

      How have you settled in after your Italian trip and flight back? Any jet lag? I think long trips always take a lot out of one, sometimes in ways that one doesn’t completely or fully realise until one’s home and getting back to the regular schedule. For me, the perfume course and my almost boot-camp style run through other parts of Italy in the 12 days that followed were far more exhausting than I knew until I was actually home. And it took a long time to really absorb or process the positive flood of information covered during the course from start to finish. I imagine it must be the same for you, so don’t feel any obligation to write to tell me all the details until you’ve properly settled in and rested. Once you do, though, should you want to write, my email is: AKafkaesqueLife at gmail (put together in the normal fashion. I’ve written it that way to counter spam bots.) In the meantime, thank you for this wonderfully sweet comment and for your support, now and in general. xoxo

  16. Thank Kafka for all your hard work and JOY which you have given me over the time I have been reading your articles. I’m sorry that you have been poorly and I wish you a good recovery. Take your time getting into things again – pneumonia is not nice!
    I really disagree with bgirlrhapsody, its not an attitude I subscribe to and altho it is admirable that we all go about being “kind” to each other, when you’re in business for someone to say actually that is bad – can be really positive. I dont pay lip service to people and I don’t want to read it! You have never ever been bitchy for the sake of it and if you criticise then we all know you do it from your own humble opinion. We are mostly all perfume lovers and there is the good the bad and the downright terrible! And my last point is that some people and organisations just do it for the filthy lucre!!

    • Dearest Katie, I’m so glad my reviews have helped in some way and that you’ve found a few fragrances to love as a result. And, you’re right, some brands do seem motivated by money more than creating really distinctive fragrances. The old days where Jean-Paul Guerlain went through thousands and thousands of mods over the course of 6, 7, 8, or more years in order to perfect a single composition are long gone, alas. Now, a number of companies seem to be a headlong race to put out as many perfumes as they can a year while using hyperbolic marketing and the aura of luxury/exclusivity to compensate for any underlying, internal issues. Tom Ford is a particular culprit, but hardly the only one. It’s become a trend in the niche world as well.

  17. Thanks, Kafka! I also love the new style! And I cannot agree more with Baccarat – to me it was also a messy “something” and a very big disappointment that MFK created it! Unbelievable! I am fearing now that Andy Tauer also starts with this policy to create too much in too little time; eg the Fruitchouly was not the same quality you expect from him normally.

  18. I love this post. I love when someone finally comes out and tells it like it really is. Thank you.

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  20. Trying to be a self pronounced harsh critic on perfumes is your thing Kafka, but please tell me in all honesty why you give those negative advices to your readers about whether or not they should buy a fragrance (to Marianna on June 15, 2016: “I am not familiar with your personal taste but you better should not buy LM ‘s Scandinavian Crime”)? I am so sorry but in my opinion this is a very strange advice that almost seems to me like you are taking revenge on someone.
    Best wishes,

    • I find this all to be enormously amusing. Not have you lied about my actual words in your supposed quotation, words that are not what I actually said, but then you omitted the rest of the sentence that is key. On top of all that, you also clearly decided to ignore the context of prior discussions between myself and Marianna, a discussion actually referenced in the June 15th reply that you’ve intentionally distorted, lied about, and distorted out of context.

      I never wrote the words that you claim I wrote. I never said, “I am not familiar with your personal taste but you better should not buy LM ‘s Scandinavian Crime”)”. What I actually DID say was:

      I don’t know a ton about your personal tastes and the notes you love/hate, but, from what little I do know, I don’t think Unique Russia/Scandinavian Crime would be up your alley. No, not you, not this. So, you’re right, it’s just as well you didn’t get bottle back then.

      1) “but from what little I do know, I don’t think….” — I DO know her tastes, but not as well as some other posters who write weekly about the fragrances they’ve tried, loved, or disliked. Unbeknownst to you, Marianna has emailed me on a number of occasions about perfume and she’s also commented sufficiently enough here for me to know SOMETHING about her tastes.

      2) I never told her “you better should not buy LM’s Scandinavian Crime” — First, the grammar in that alleged, purported quote is atrocious, and I would never write “better should not.” Second, I never told her not to buy it. She told me she was not going to, and I was agreeing with her decision given what I knew of her tastes, given our email exchanges, given our prior discussion about this very perfume, and given what she herself had decided — which was not to go ahead with a purchase. Her decision. Her choice. I was agreeing with her choice. That’s why I said, “So, you’re right, it’s just as well that you didn’t get a bottle back then.”

      3) In addition to lying about my words in your misquote, you also ignored the very first part of my reply which clearly demonstrated a prior discussion about this very fragrance. I wrote: “Ah, yes, I remember you asking about Unique Russia now, Marianna. It was during the Malefic Tattoo review [….]” She talked to me about the fragrance then and her concerns, and I believe we also had a subsequent discussion about it as well, perhaps in one of the emails on perfumery that we’ve exchanged.

      Because, you see, I actually know her, even if I don’t know every part of her personal likes and tastes. She’s filled out a game questionnaire a long time ago that actually details the notes she doesn’t like and I recall enough of it to know why her decision regarding Scandinavian Crime was right for her, even if it’s a few parts of that 6-part, page-long survey. Once again, we’ve conversed and emailed. Including about this specific, actual perfume last year.

      In short, there is a CONTEXT, background, and HISTORY for why I didn’t think Scandinavian Crime would suit Marianna and for why I agreed with her decision that it would not be for her, but you’ve intentionally ignored that in your rush to skew my words. It was obvious right from the “Ah, yes, I remember you asking about Unique Russia now, Marianna. It was during the Malefic Tattoo review”….

      You’re presenting me in a way that suits your personal narrative of me and your projected perceptions, like the absolutely hilarious “Trying to be a self pronounced harsh critic on perfumes is your thing Kafka.” “Self pronounced”? ROFL. You’re free to think what you wish, but thank you for amusing me so.

      Finally, the name that I write under is “Kafkaesque.” It’s right there in the blog title, it’s in the URL, and it’s the name attached to this very reply. The name is not “Kafka.” I do not know you. My friends and frequent readers have chosen to give me an affectionate nickname, and I appreciate the affection behind it. But I do not know you. And the name is Kafkaesque.

      Your presumptuous over-familiarity is not warranted, but, again, do as you wish. It is of no concern to me. You have shown your own agenda, bias, and issues clearly enough in so many parts of your comment, from lying about my actual words to distorting them and, also, intentionally omitting clearly evidenced context, fact, and prior discussion between myself and a frequent commentator.

      You may reply or not reply, continue to read the blog or not read, claim I am something or not claim — it matters not to me. Much as your words amused me, there is clearly little point in continuing a discussion with you. Goodbye.

      • I am new to this blog, and new to the world of niche perfume as well, not having worn any since the ’80s. When I recently began smelling what was out there, I was appalled, confused and bewildered…. what happened to perfume? As I began my research I found out about IRFA and much more. Thank the Creator I found Kafkaesque’s blog. The thoroughness, the honesty, the poetry and the passion behind the words enchanted me and the blog has become a guiding light as I begin my scentual journey of experience.

        You go girl! Your lawyer’s training shows in every well-researched review you so generously offer your readers, your heart shows in every word you create and image you combine.

        I do not have the time, the patience or the desire to be bothered by the banal, the mediocre and the hype. I am after the Real Deal and the journey, so I welcome the guiding light of a true connoisseur. I offer my thanks for all you do.

        • Welcome to the blog, Jody Joy, and thank you for the kind words on the blog.

          And welcome back to the perfume world as well! 🙂 I can imagine that the changes wrought by IFRA must have been a shock indeed if you haven’t worn scent since the 1980s. Even without the draconian restrictions, the style of perfumery has changed so much, not to mention the genres emphasized today that were never a focus of the 1980s. From Jean Claude Ellena’s wispy, discreet, gauzy minimalism to the obsession with ultra-sticky gourmands and foodie scents, it’s quite a different landscape than the old days when Opium, Amarige, Giorgio, Coco, and their like ruled the air. (Alas. I so miss those days. lol)

          I look forward to getting to know you and your perfume tastes a little in the days and months to come. Hopefully, we can find you some new loves to replace the old ones you miss.

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  23. Although your comments date back to 2016, I read them just a few minutes ago… and I cannot stop laughing at the GS pictures which say much more than any words. In particular, the first one strongly reminds me of my so beloved Roscoe and his reaction when he was “disappointed”. As usual, you write beautifully and each time I enrich my vocabulary. Thank you for making my day!

    • I agree! I enjoyed this blog piece more than I did when it was first published in 2016. 🙂

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