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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Perfume Review: Michael Storer Monk, Il Giardino and Jjin

Review by Tom

Gaia over at The Non-Blonde reviewed the womens scents of this new niche perfumer; I thought I would review the mens. Happily, he included samps of the womens as well in my order of the mens, so I will review those as well next time.

Il Giardino opens with soapy greens adding in pleasant lemon/ neroliness that reminds me a bit of an amped-up Dior Eau Sauvage. Black currant and grapefruit are listed as well, but I don't discern them, they just add in to the general pleasantness of the scent. Normally that would be damning with faint praise, but I have to write that when I wore this I would get little whiffs of it and found myself drawn to it: it dries down pleasant as well, still green, but with a pleasantly light woody musk. I surprised myself by really liking this: it's such a happy little scent, managing the feat of being both refreshing and soothing at the same time. At only $38 for 100ml, I could happily keep this around for those days when I have a meeting or something where I don't want to smell challenging or quirky or fly my olfactory freak-flag. It smells nice, without overtly smelling like five other things.

Jjin starts off with mint and a zing of booziness. They list cardamom but I also smell cilantro as well as the mint, the listed black pepper and woods. Also listed is "steamy animalic castoreum, musk and the sexual pheremone Aldron". Can't speak for the pheremone, but either my deskankotron skin got in there and did some serious neutering or the drydown is just a nice, clean skin musk with a lovely light spiciness to it and the barest hint of creamy sandalwood. I'm hoping the latter. $43 for 100ml.

Monk. "Oh, yes! Oh Baby!" I accidentally dumped about half the sample vial if this on my wrist, which elicited the quoted response. Quoted notes of frankincense, tabac, linden, vanilla, and smoke were evident immediately, also with just a touch of listed cocoa and unlisted leather. The cocoa is interesting barely discernible up close, notable but hard to place further off. It's a special-effect of cocoa; it's one of those effects that Lutens pulls off so well, and finding it in a scent that retails for$45 for 100ml makes me smile. Ambergris, civet and musk come in at the drydown as it loses some of the vanilla sweetness and becomes more austere. Of the three, this is the one that I'd like to buy the most, but really at this price point, I could get all three and not feel the slightest twinge. And I just might do so.

Available at


Blogger Kelley said...

Tom, Michael gets mentioned upon occasion on basenotes and I ordered the set of his sents and tried them about a year ago. Yuck! None of them worked for me. In fact, Monk reminds me of an Avon product that a friend of mine death! His Giardino scent, though marketed to men was very feminine and sweet(lily of the valley). Jjin brings back no memories at all. I really wanted to like them because they are so affordable but in this case that might be a red flag. However, have you seen Michael's photo...he is totally hot!

11:17 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom - Monk is the only one that works on me, but I rarely reach for it - if Im in that kind of mood, I usually reach for Messe de Minuit instead. Monk reminds me of the 15th century period rooms in my museum here in Philadelphia. I spend so much time in that museum that its nice to equate a perfume to it.

Il Giardino is one of the few scents that has sent me into convulsions...

The good news is - if they do work for you - they're CHEAP! Refreshing thought, isn't it?

1:23 AM EDT  
Blogger Gaia said...

I only tried them once so far, but my initial impression was just like yours. When I tried Monk my first thought was wishing it'd come in parfum, like the women's scents.
I'll have to get serious about testing them (and also put them on the husband, if I ever manage to get him away from my Serge bottles).

1:28 AM EDT  
Blogger Divina said...

Tom, even when you are not 100% happy with a scent you STILL manage to make me wanna sample, sample, sample! :)

6:09 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't tried these. And I probably won't get round to it. I'm just becoming a sample slacker.

6:12 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Monk. *Want*. Sounds absolutely perfect. Am wondering if my skin would deskank Jjin as well. Probably would, but will have to get a sample and try it on DH. Love the sound of it. And the prices! Incredible.

7:40 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Okay, the Monk thing you've totally got me on. But if I have other incense things I love, do i NEED this?

8:28 AM EDT  
Blogger Beth Schreibman Gehring said...

Tom, that was just so wonderfully evocative and Oohhh....the Monk sounds just enchanting, all of my favorite flavors! Makes me think that it might be the scent that I wear when visiting the Cloisters this December for my every few year pilgrimage to my beloved Unicorn Tapestries! Can't wait to try!

8:38 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


There's always that skin chemistry thing. Haven't seen his photo, no, but I will of course look.

11:19 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I think the price point definitely gilded the experience for me.

Convulsions? Geesh!

11:20 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I do wish there was a bit more depth to them, and they aren't really refines in the way that a Lutens of a Malle is, but then again they are 1/3 to 1/6th the price, aren't they? Even if Djin or Il Giardino didn't rock my world, I'd be happy to use it to scent my sheets or something.

11:23 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


You could not have written anything nicer than that!

And of course, I can happily write the same of you!

11:24 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I can always send them on to you...

Remember, your weekly now! Can't just write about the curtains!

11:25 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


The prices are the clincher for me. It's so nice to find something at less than dept. store prices that don't smell like a dept. store scent.

11:26 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm, just went onto Michael Storer's website where it appears he has raised the price of the men's line by half...

Monk now costs $82 for 2 oz. of edp.

So much for cheap deals...

11:27 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


In your case, maybe not. But those of us who aren't as, encylcopedic as you could use a $40 bottle of incensey goodness that will make our $90 bottle of Messe de Minuit or $125 bottle of Cuir Ottoman last longer. This is like finding a cute pair of jeans at Old Navy that don't shout "I got these for $19 bucks!"

11:33 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


They are worth a sample, certainly, and if they click for you? At that price? Heaven!

11:34 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


$82? Sorry. At $82 I am going to stick to Messe de Minuit

11:44 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wholeheartily agree.

11:50 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Well, I checked and of course markdavid is correct, making this review as obsolete as an Edsel.

I stand behind my reviews of the colognes, but don't think I would care to purchase any of these at the new prices. But then again I haven't tried the perfume strength, so I cannot judge.

11:52 AM EDT  
Blogger ForTheLoveOfPerfume said...

"Oh yes! Oh baby!" works for me, too. ;-) Great reaction, especially when it's on your own skin.

12:31 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

yes, but the news about the change in formulation and price makes it kind of "whaaa?" :-(

12:37 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh My God, I really killed this, didn't I?

Im so sorry...

I feel like Yoko Ono.

Well, lets find a positive, shall we? At least all of the bottles match, now - ala Jo Malone.

12:40 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


unless you personally convinced him to raise the prices, you are merely reporting.

I liked the older bottles better as will, so there.

12:47 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's hear it for "fly[ing] my olfactory freak-flag" on every possible occasion.

3:28 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I agree- but sometime I have to fly it a half-mast!

3:47 PM EDT  
Blogger Solander said...

You know, I think it's "djin", not "Jjin". At least, that's the way I dechipher the letters...

And I have to agree with kelley, I found all three of them rather awful (admittedly, my samples were used ones I got in a swap). They're not THAT cheap, I think they smelled cheaper still... Especially Il Giardino, which I like markdavid found to be an offensively sickly sweet berry scent. Monk was the ok one, but I don't think it had anything to do with the name or description (which sounded like Messe de Minuit!), I remember it as sweetish and meh.

But of course it's great that they work for you!

5:55 PM EDT  

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