Illuminum Arabian Amber

It was a surprisingly chilly day and I was in the mood for something warming, so I decided to test out Arabian Amber today in the hopes that it would give me that warm feeling that ambers tend to do.

Arabian Musk

Arabian Musk

In Bottle: Clean and very heavy on the bergamot. I get woodsy from this too as well as ylang-ylang.

Applied: The strange thing about Arabian Amber when I tried it on me was that it wasn’t very warm. Ambers or scents that bill themselves as ambers tend to warm up. I get the bergamot in the beginning that does a nice job introducing the woods that roll in during the midstage. The cedar in this is sparingly used and tempered so that it doesn’t overtake the entire fragrance. It’s definitely present and definitely threatening to take over, but it doesn’t because of the lovely touch of spice and light-handed smoke that funnels up through the scent. Arabian Amber has a bit more of its namesake as the fragrance ages and has a much more prominent ylang-ylang presence than I thought it would have. The ylang-ylang reminds me of Illuminum’s Cashmere Musk as it dries down to a smoother woodsy and ylang-ylang fragrance that joins up with the clean patchouli for a pleasant finish.

Extra: Launched in 2011, Illuminum is a British fragrance house created and led by Michael Boadi. The house focuses on contemporary, sleek and modern design.

Design: Still not that big of a fan of the bottles.

Fragrance Family: Woodsy

Notes: Bergamot, nutmeg, black pepper, cedar, ylang-ylang, oppoponax, frankincense, patchouli.

I expected a lot more warmth from Arabian Amber and while it does have a bit of warmth to it, I noticed the ylang-ylang in the fragrance more than I noticed the spices or the amber notes. I’m not sure this one is for me but it certainly smells nice enough. Arabian Musk is available in 50ml or 100ml and you can buy a bottle at Luckyscent or Illuminum’s website.

Reviewed in This Post: Arabian Amber, 2012, Eau de Parfum.

Disclaimer: The fragrance sampler spray reviewed in this post was provided to me for free for the purposes of review. In no other way am I receiving pay or compensation for this review. This review was written based upon my personal experiences and opinions of the product.

Tom Ford Jasmin Rouge

Still on the look out for a good Jasmine that exceeds Thierry Mugler’s Alien. I still think that one’s a fabulous jasmine, though it is a bit of a one note fragrance. So in search of a bit more complexity, I looked up Tom Ford’s Jasmin Rouge.

Jasmin Rouge

Jasmin Rouge

In Bottle: Strong jasmine with a bit of buttery leather and a shade of very nice spice and wood.

Applied: Jasmin Rouge is a very strong fragrance. Its initial spray is marked with a powerful but beautiful jasmine note that overtakes the space around you. This is the kind of fragrance that announces its presence so be careful when you go to test it or use it for the first time. As the scent ages, I get a bit more of the spices in this fragrance, the peppery kick being most noticeable to me as the leather amps up with its buttery, soft texture that takes the jasmine and leather dominance all the way to the end where I get a few wafts of woodsiness and spices but it is mostly jasmine and leather I’m getting from this. I almost want to describe Jasmin Rouge as a jasmine and fluffy leather fragrance. It smells like it should be floating in the sky, projecting its glory all over everything within a 100ft radius.

Extra: Jasmin Rouge was released along with two other fragrances to the Tom Ford Signature Collection in 2011. So this baby is still new and if you wanted a hand at a leather jasmine then this might just be your stuff.

Design: The bottle screams Tom Ford design. Some fragrance houses just have a look and feel to their bottle designs that makes their products very recognizable. Chanel has it, Hermes has it, and Tom Ford definitely has it. Jasmin Rouge’s bottle is a pleasing shape and weight in an appropriate red color. It has a very nice sprayer that distributes a great even spray.

Fragrance Family: Oriental Floral

Notes: Bergamot, mandarin, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, black pepper, white pepper, sambac jasmine, broom, neroli, ylang-ylang, clary sage, vanilla, labdanum, leather, wood, amber.

I’m pretty picky when it comes to how jasmine is treated in a fragrance. I know practically every modern women’s perfume has jasmine present in one form or another which only makes me pickier about its usage in a less mainstream interpretation. Thing is, I like Jasmin Rouge just fine. I just don’t know if I love it enough to replace Alien.

Reviewed in This Post: Jasmin Rouge, 2011, Eau de Parfum.

Alan Cumming Cologne

Alan Cumming clearly has a sense of humor as the fragrance’s name in this case is “Cumming”, quite simply. The name has wrinkled noses the world over who don’t see exactly how high-brow the humor behind this scent actually gets. Whether you share the humor or not, you can at least give Cumming a try. I’m rather surprised that the nose, Christopher Brosius of Demeter and CB I Hate Perfume fame, didn’t take this fragrance more literally. Okay, okay, I’m done with the jokes. I promise.

Alan Cumming Cologne

In Bottle: Earthy and leathery up top. Very surprising for a celebrity fragrance composed in 2004. But we are talking Brosius here and say what you want about the man, but he is not one to conform to expected norms.

Applied: Loud opening with an earthy leather and whisky combination folding you in, making you think things will only get stronger from there. But the fragrance heads into its mid-stage in a surprising twist. The pepper takes up a bit of fight from opening to mid-stage lending the fragrance a hint of spice. The scent then goes from heavy to light, something that I didn’t expect this fragrance to do as the mid-stage smells of warm and smooth nuttiness, woods and earth. Nicely done, I don’t smell any of the heavy leather from the opening but there’s a minor trace of it giving this scent a bit of complexity during the mid-stage. This is an oxymoron of a scent, and surprisingly lovely as a result. Over the years of smelling celebrity perfumes, I’ve come to expect predictability but Cumming is a pleasant left fielder.  The interesting bit at the end of this fragrance is a smooth earthy scent. Quite personal, and–dare I say it?–rather sophisticated. This fragrance isn’t for everybody mainly because the opening does turn a lot of people away. If you like the opening, or can stick it out for about an hour, the fragrance does take a turn for the very interesting and very wearable.

Extra: I had to stop myself halfway into that introduction paragraph and wonder why I can find humor in Cumming and it’s ad campaign when I found Marc Jacobs Bang and its ad campaign an eye roller. There are several reasons why, but the one that comes readily to mind for me is the fact that Cumming knows its name, knows it’s funny, and runs with it. Bang seemed to be named thus to sell itself as sexy or shocking. This, this is just in good fun and I can more readily appreciate that far more. If you’re interested in the Cumming fragrance, there’s 2nd Alan Cumming also by Brosius. You can read up about it on Brosius’s site here.

Design: Simple rectangular bottle with a tall cylindrical cap. The name on the glass written in a slight bit haphazardly and–let’s not kid ourselves–it was obviously designed with the name in mind. I can get on board with funny things like this. Perfume is all together too serious sometimes.

Fragrance Family: Earthy

Notes: Bergamot, black pepper, scotch pine, whiskey, cigar, heather, douglas fir, leather, highland mud, peat fire, white truffle.

Probably one of the best celebrity fragrances that I can commend out there. And it’s been described as an anti-celebrity fragrance. Heck, I’m on board with that. It’s interesting, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it’s one of the few that can stand on its own as a fragrance.

Reviewed in This Post: Cumming, 2006, Eau de Parfum.

Bruce Willis Cologne

Hey, did you guys know Bruce Willis came out with a perfume? Yeah, me neither. The reason? The distribution company for this fragrance does not service North America. So, amusingly enough, tracking this stuff down is even harder than tracking down some niche perfumes.

Bruce Willis Cologne

In Bottle: The scent bills itself as elegant, green and woody. And green is what I’d definitely call this opening. Straight out of the bottle and it is a clean, sharp green grapefruit fragrance with a dash of pepper. There’s a touch of sweet orange in here. Some people have noted that it reminds them of Terre d’Hermes. I can see that. This also reminds me of John Varvatos Artisan without the pepper. But when I said sharp, I really mean sharp. I was actually surprised it didn’t go with the lowest common denominator (aqua and citrus) and the opening is pleasant with a bit of a kick. Not bad.

Applied: After the initial blast up your nose with the pepper and citrus, Bruce Willis (heh) mellows out a little but remains spicy as the rest of its notes come in–when I say notes, I really meant, note because from hereon in, I smell one thing predominantly. But let make a note about the grapefruit. The grapefruit is a bit of a lingerer, holding onto the top to clean up the black pepper a bit and I do like the opening it’s competently done. However, Bruce Willis goes into the mid-stage smelling more woodsy with the cedar note slowly amping up until it reaches maximum tolerance, then keeps going up. And here comes the cedar, loud and sharp and obnoxious and I’m sorry. I think I’ve already established that me and cedar don’t belong together when its overused and Bruce Willis overused the cedar. This fragrance is really strong, and the powerful cedar does not do it any favors for me. Mingled with the pepper and this stuff gets almost unbearably loud. Nothing special, just really loud. Bruce Willis Cologne has fantastic longevity, I’ll give it that and its projection is massive. I sprayed this twice from a tester vial and people could smell me from across the room. When this stuff does calm down hours later, the cedar mellows out a little and I can smell some earthiness peaking through before it disappears too and leaves me with the merciless cedar until I scrub it all off.

Extra: I saw what it was made of and noted the cedar and decided that I did not need more than 2mls of this and I’m glad I only got that much. Bruce Willis Cologne is probably not bad. I just have an unfortunate intolerance for loud cedar. Otherwise, this fragrance is decent. It’s not special, it’s got a pleasant opening but by mid-stage it falls apart on me. If you want something with longevity and projection, this is a good contender.

Design: The bottle’s shape is quite nice, simple, elegantly designed, the cap adds a bit of masculinity to the design. The overall shape and aesthetics of the bottle is rather nice. The metal plate bearing the fragrance’s name and concentration is a tad ludicrous but it could have been a lot worse. Overall the design is pretty decent.

Fragrance Family: Woodsy

Notes: Grapefruit, orange, black pepper, cedar, gum benzoin, vetiver.

And there you have it, a Bruce Willis perfume. A really difficult to find and procure Bruce Willis perfume for people living in North America and given how it smells, I don’t think it’s worth importing it at a hefty price tag. You could get a more well-behaved fragrance that smells close to this with Terre d’Hermes. So unless you’re a Bruce Willis paraphernalia collector, I think the fragrance is a pass due to how hard it is to get and how unspectacular it is by comparison.

Reviewed in This Post: Bruce Willis, 2010, Eau de Parfum.

Star Trek Tiberius

James Tiberius Kirk, the most decorated Starfleet captain–now in a scent. When I saw this perfume on Amazon last year I said to myself, “No way!” But yes way, it exists, and I have a sampler of it. And you know what? It ain’t half bad!

Star Trek Tiberius

In Bottle: You know how for women’s celebrity scents you usually get these candied fruity floral perfumes? And for men’s celebrity scents you usually get some sort of variation of Cool Water? Well, Tiberius is a surprisingly competent fragrance that smells like a dash of black pepper, over sheer cedar (not crazy cedar), with a spritz of citrus.

Applied: That citrus spray is the first thing to go–not unusual, that’s what’s supposed to happen in perfumes. Then Tiberius (I can’t believe I just said that) gets serious and digs into the black pepper and rocks up on the cedar. The cedar used in this is surprisingly not the insane kind, it’s tempered, and wearable to me, almost subtle as it settles on this clean note instead of relying much on the cedar to carry it. The black pepper is ever-present, lending the entire fragrance a very spicy personality. Back to the cedar a bit, as I am always happy to find cedar done well. Tiberius’ cedar compliments the black pepper quite nicely as the two of them head closer to the dry down stage we get a slight flare of sheer sandalwood and a pleasant warmed slightly sweet, but very clean vanilla scent aided by that clean note that’s probably the white musk at work.

Extra: I know a lot of Trekkies might like this as a gift for Valentine’s Day. And if you were wondering if it’s just a novelty item or if it actually has merit as a fragrance then rest assured. Tiberius can hold its own. It’s not groundbreaking. It’ll probably never become a fragrance classic. It’s a little one-dimensional. Despite all this, it is not at all bad. In fact, I’d rank this fairly high in the celebrity and spin-off fragrance corner.

Design: So the bottle’s ugly. I mean, it really is. You see that thing up there. It’s a glass bottle with what looks like a plastic cap. The shape and details lend nothing to class up the appearance of the bottle and ultimately I’m left thinking Tiberius is packaged in some sort of industrial cleaner container. But then, you don’t buy Tiberius for the bottle, or the scent. Though the scent is decent, I am giving a thumbs down to the bottle.

Fragrance Family: Spicy Woodsy

Notes: Citron, black pepper, cedar, vanilla, white musk, sandalwood.

Once again, you can color me surprised. I didn’t expect to like this fragrance at all. I was wholly prepared for another Danielle Steel experience but Tiberius kind of surprised me in a good way.

Reviewed in This Post: Tiberius, ~2009, Eau de Cologne.

Marc Jacobs Bang

Marc Jacobs came out with Bang (raise your hands if you read that as ‘came out with a bang’) earlier this year to a fairly decent media frenzy that at first revolved around his statements about the fragrance, then about the advertising that came out with the fragrance in which some men begged to wonder, “if I were to choose a cologne, do I want it to be the one with a naked Marc Jacobs on the advertisement?” Query of the ages right there. Bang

In Bottle: Bang slaps me in the nose right away with a gigantic dose of peppers. Red, white, pink, black. You got the entire pepper rainbow in this thing. And hey, it’s off-putting but I actually like it.

Applied: Pepper, pepper, pepper. Like grinding peppercorns and spraying them into my nose. The initial reaction I had was to sneeze but it didn’t get to that point. I love pepper. I love how strong and blatant the initial pepper blast in this stuff is. If you want something to wake you up, Bang’s opening is it. But after the pepper blast, Bang heads into something a little more conventional as it veers into a leathery woods scent with a tickle of vetiver and a now very familiar cedar note. But all that is second fiddle to the pepper that just doesn’t go away. Thankfully Bang is light-handed with its used of cedar and has ended up with a competent woodsy mid-stage instead of a cedar mess that so many other cedar-based fragrances suffer from on my skin. The dry down is a decent play between bitter green notes, a lingering tickle of pepper, and a pleasant bit of earthy patchouli and woods.

Extra: The less said about the advertising campaign for Bang, the better. I thought they could have taken this in a few different directions but ultimately picked the obvious, which was disappointing to me. Well, if nothing else, the ad caught a lot of people’s attention.

Design: Bang’s bottle is not for me. It’s a little silly looking, if you ask me, and seems overly gimmicky. The bottle boasts a metallic exterior that looks like it would have once been a statement piece in the world of metal rectangles before someone punched it out of shape in a blind rage. Surprisingly enough, despite its non-traditional appearance and respectable weightiness, the bottle is fairly easy and comfortable to hold.

Fragrance Family: Spicy Woods

Notes: Black pepper, white pepper, pink pepper, woods, elemi resin, benzoin, vetiver, white moss, patchouli.

I’m not a fan of the reputation they built around this fragrance. I’m much less a fan of the silly-looking bottle. But the fragrance is a competent well-blended spicy woods gig.

Reviewed in This Post: Bang, 2010, Eau de Toilette.