Hot Enough for You?

Today I am (shockingly!) doing a review of a couple of fragrance samples I was sent recently by the lovely Musette. I thought this’d be a fun juxtaposition of two scents – one of which sounds very masculine (while we’re stereotyping) and one very feminine. I’m in the heat dome in the southwestern U.S., although there’s plenty of that going around worldwide this week, so this has been a pleasant diversion.

Frederic Malle Uncut Gem has notes of ginger, bergamot, mandarin, angelica root, nutmeg, leather, vetiver, frankincense, amber, musk. Apparently it’s based on Maurice Roucel’s personal cologne, their website’s blurbage says “an unapologetically manly scent” that also “plays with the tired codes of masculinity while extracting their telluric force” which … what? Telluric is a word I had to look up (it means of the earth or soil; someone busted out their thesaurus, didn’t they?) Also, “Uncut Gem” makes me think of that Adam Sandler movie, which I’m not sure is a plus in this instance.

Anyway, unsurprisingly, is this gorgeous. It immediately made me ponder how terrible generic mass-market man-frags can be, whatever woodsy nonsense they put in the base that’s like fingernails on my olfactory chalkboard. In Uncut Gem I get an herbal-cocktail cologne at the top, mostly leather and vetiver in the middle, drying down to a dry vetiver musk on the skin.

By traditional perfumery standards, okay, sure, this is a masculine, but I’d happily wear it. It’s more a vetiver cologne vibe, but nobody’d smell it on me and make the assumption that I accidentally put on something hairy-chested from the men’s counter at Macy’s. I got whiffs of it throughout a very hot day and thought it was lovely and refreshing and surprisingly long-lasting without being obtrusive. I got just a ghost of it the next morning, and I’m wearing it again on yet another very hot day, and it’s perfect.

On the more traditionally feminine side of the fragrance spectrum, Tiziana Terenzi’s Kirkè is “a lush bouquet of sweet fruit” including passion fruit, raspberries, pears, heliotrope flower and musk. Tom gave this the thumbs down on his recent review, calling it “fruit salad and old sweat,” which frankly sounds potentially right up my alley as I said in comments. Musette saw that and promptly sent me her sample so I could try it out for myself!

As Tom said, this thing is basically fruit salad, I think maybe with a lot of added sugar syrup. You know what it doesn’t need? The powdery sweetness of heliotrope, but that’s what comes next, on top of the fruit. Just when I was starting to question my life choices, though, the powder settles and something raspy like sandalwood (rather than the sweat Tom got, sadface!) shows up.  In the drydown the fruit takes on an almost over-ripe aspect, like the smell of a very ripe cantaloupe that’s sitting right on the line between deliciously fragrant and a bit too far gone.

That probably all sounds pretty terrible, but honestly? As it cranked out that overripe fruit + raspy wood thing for hours, I kept sniffing at it compulsively. I don’t want a bottle, but I thought it was kind of an interesting ride and it didn’t fill me with regret.

So, are you in a heatwave right now? What’s a fragrance that you can’t quite make up your mind about loving or hating, or one you’ve changed your mind about?

images via Pexels

  • Maggiecat says:

    It is supposed to be 105 here today! And in this weather (typical of North Texas summers) I cling to citrusy/lemony scents as a rule. However, these are the only fruits I love in perfumes, so the Kirke’ is out for me. Uncut Gem might be worth a sniff though….

  • Musette says:

    Welp! I didn’t read any of the marketese (or, in fact, anything else) for UGem, so I had only my own nose to go by – and I, too, found it lovely.
    The Kirke’ – well, I don’t think my nose is anywhere near as sophisticated as yours, so I mostly got just a mishmash of fruit. It wasn’t the worst thing I’d ever worn, though, so I just kinda… heh’d . It sounds as if you had a rather nice time with it!

    • Musette says:

      and our weather is crazy! From 90s to 70s, drought to torrential rains… ugh

      Wearing the heavy hitters (Tribute Attar and CFlower) on the hottest days, No5 on the mids
      Also… wearing the Morillas Ines de la Fressange at night…

      • March says:

        Well don’t you smell fabulous! And I like those heavy hitters in the heat, they just … bloom. As long as you’re not killing anyone in the gym lol. I dunno, 70 and torrential rains sounds pretty good right now!

    • March says:

      I’m glad you liked Uncut Gem, clearly it’s had some negative reactions (none of which I read, so insert shrug emoji.) The other one I probably won’t wear again, but at least I wasn’t bored.

  • Dina C. says:

    Uncut Gem sounds good to me, too, since I really like vetiver. It’s in No 19, Silences, Huere Exquise, and the long gone Guerlain Vetiver pour Elle. I’ll have to put this on my list of Things to be Sniffed. The other one though…shudder. No thanks. My problem with a lot of samples is that I like the opening topnotes and dislike the drydown.

    • March says:

      I LOVED that Guerlain, the AG too. Heh, I like a bit of macerated fruit as an experiment! And yeah … I’m not a big re-applier. If I have to keep putting it back on for the good bits to avoid the dry down, it’s not a winner.

  • alityke says:

    Cantaloupe on the edge is just how I like to eat them & I love Diorella & Nicki Verfaille’s Grain de Sable. They both have the over ripe melon note just not on top of other syrupy fruit.
    It wasn’t only Basenotes where Uncut Gem got dissed, quite a few bloggers, IG & YouTubers who I admire were uncomplimentary too. Nowt so strange as folk! I wonder if the macho bullshit blurb influenced influencers to pre-hate Uncut Gem?

    • March says:

      Well then, I’m an outlier, I thought it was lovely! On the other hand I don’t sniff a ton of masculines, so maybe my expectations or experience is completely different. And I agree, I wonder if all that macho stuff in the blurb worked against it, it certainly didn’t smell that way to me.

  • cinnamon says:

    After some weeks of high temps and humidity, our weather broke last week and the highs are now sitting around 70 f. I saw a pic showing the UK currently being just above the heat dome over Europe. That Malle sounds smell worthy; the other thing not so much. I think my most recent beautiful but not me which subsequently changed to love was Killian Dark Lord. Broken record on this.

    • March says:

      I should order up some of that Dark Lord in a sample, I still haven’t tried it and it sounds absolutely wonderful, you’re allowed to be a broken record, I certainly am about some scents! So glad the heat dome is missing you, I did wonder.

  • Tom says:

    It’s hot here and now humid. Well, LA humid. (Los Angeles, not Louisiana, obvs.) just sticky enough that the idea of strolling over to Frederic Malle to test this seems like hiking to Oregon, uphill, in a fur coat. But I do want to try this soooo…

    I didn’t like Kirkè. Going over honeydew isn’t my idea of fun on a plate, and I like it less in a scent. It also kind of died before anything as interesting as raspy woods came out. I got the fruit plate that had gone over served by someone who needed to get to know Lume. Can’t win em all.

    • March says:

      Hey, I don’t know that I LIKED it, I just wasn’t bored! That almost rotten note… I doubt I’ll feel the need to wear it again, but every now and again I enjoy being weirded out!

  • Maya says:

    Hot and humid. We have heat advisories and/or air advisories regularly now. It’s becoming a long, hot summer.
    Maurice Roucel has created some of my most loved perfumes, but I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to try Uncut Gem or not. Now I do, but not the Tiziana Terenzi.

    • March says:

      This heat is ridiculous; it’s times like these I wish I had air conditioning, although I’m limping along without it. The dog seems okay, she’s my biggest concern. I’m hoping it’ll break by the end of the week, we could really use some rain. I really liked Uncut Gem, I thought it was lovely and IMO not at all macho despite their ad copy.

  • Tara C says:

    The guys over on Basenotes hate Uncut Gem so I find your review quite interesting. :-). If I run into it I will try it. There is already another new one coming out from Malle shortly called Heaven Can Wait or some silly such thing. Can’t remember the notes. I’m more looking forward to Guerlain Tobacco Honey, which will be a Harrods exclusive until Nov 30 (boo hiss).

    And yes we are in a permanent heat wave here and the humidity is killing us. Looking forward to fall already.

    • March says:

      Heaven Can Wait?!? Sounds like a Kilian! Tobacco Honey sounds gorgeous, wonder how it’d be with the Guerlain base if that’s there… re the Basenotes guys, who knows, aren’t they all big fans of Creed? I guess our tastes are different. I certainly don’t find Uncut Gem particularly “manly,” more unisex.

    • Portia says:

      TaraC, if you call the top floor Guerlain in Harrod’s they’ll send to the world.
      Portia x

  • Portia says:

    WOW March! Sounds like your sniffer got into gear for this too. Happy day.
    Uncut Gem sounds terrific. I’m going to search it out.
    Kirkè sounds a little bit like Pierre Guillaume’s Pluie de Soleil for Phaedon which I have, find intellectually interesting but never wear. Just too sticky.
    portia x

    • March says:

      “too sticky” — what a great description! Yeah, I don’t know why, but my sniffer seems more back online these days. Of course, your mileage may vary! Tara up above says it’s been dissed by Basenotes, so who knows?