The reality is I am usually lathered in a scent I have created the night before - it is the best way for me to test a creation and decide whether it has a future in the collection. When you make perfume, you also start to understand that the brands charging hundreds for their scents are usually paying ten fold for the box and bottle compared to the oil contained within them. It therefore takes A LOT for me to buy a perfume.
Sites like Fragrantica and Basenotes have their uses - on the whole though, reviewing is an art that not many people are skilled at. Unfortunately the loudest voices have often declared themselves the masters of taste and drown out some of the more helpful reviews. That is right folks, reviews are supposed to be helpful. These sites are however a huge catalogue of what is out there and an amazing place to discover the houses you never knew existed.
Comme des Garcons produce some of my favourite scents. What they do with synthetic notes is marvellous to me and though not everything is necessarily what you would reach for daily, they are bottles of art. "Zagorsk" reflects my love of green scents and in my opinion is the best in the Incense series. The pine note is electrifying and the incense here is cold and metallic. I also regularly wear the scent "Tar" from the Synthetic collection. It does what it says on the tin. Think warm, hard tennis court and you are about there. Linear and predictable yet beautiful simplicity. A pet peeve of mine is when someone says "It smells amazing, but not as a perfume - I would like it as a candle or room-spray." In the end perfumes fragrance the space around you - whether the vessel to do that is a candle, diffuser or your skin, does not matter at all to me. I frequently use Feu de Bois room spray from Diptyque on my skin and clothes - if they made a perfume I can guarantee the oil content would be less and the price much higher! Yes it does not diffuse as well (room diffusers use a base which evaporates less rapidly) but it is still beautiful and one of my favourite woodsmoke scents.
Talking of woodsmoke that takes me on to one of the best out there (other than Rook by Rook that is). I tend to buy a new fragrance whenever I visit a new city. Call it an olfactory fridge magnet. On my first trip to the Vatican I found a beautiful perfumery and that is where I bought "Bois d'Ascese" by Naomi Goodsir. This throws out a wonderfully rich plume of warm and aromatic smoke. Is it balsamic and ambery and has a wonderful oakmoss in the base.
Let's move on to a couple of dislikes. My first would be "Santal" by Le Labo. An element of this is probably from over exposure. The other is a possible reformulation. After the Lauder take over It seems to have lost its journey and the dill pickle vibe really turned up. The house of Le Labo has some lesser worn but wonderful scents. Their "Patchouli" is challenging and complex and on the more gentle end of the scale, their "Guaiac" from the city specials series is superb. My next big dislikes are "Neroli Portofino" by Tom Ford with "Tobacco Vanille" coming next in the list. I love neroli but this has not been executed in a way that respects the beauty of the note (disclaimer: just my opinion). My dislike for Tobacco Vanille is based on association alone. It seems to be very similar in scent to what they use to clean the floors of some of the toilets in Soho clubs - I know it is very popular but I just can't separate the two.
I am too, huge fan of room sprays and candles. Along with Diptyque's "Feu De Bois" spray, me and my mum are both huge fans of "Amber." In the candle world I love "Un Gardenia La Nuit" from Malle - Its REALLY expensive but has wonderful floral, incense and smoke notes. You can also pretty much add every Cire Trudon candle in to the mix with special mentions for Solis Rex and Abd El Kader. Trudon are truly the masters of candle perfumery. The latest candle range I have discovered and love is Evermore London. If you haven't tried them you should. Moon and Tides are both beautiful. The way they burn is exemplary and puts some astronomically expensive candle brands to shame!