Andy Tauer Sotto La Luna Gardenia: Under The Microscope

sotto la luna

 Andy Tauer keeps me interested in several ways:

1. Andy is approachable and appreciates his fans: always happy to share information about development news on his latest product.  He gives a human face to Tauer perfumes, rather than being a faceless organisation with an unrelated spokesmodel who has been picked for a specific look  The buck stops with him.   Andy is autonomous: he doesn’t make perfume to please a global marketing conglomerate that will sell millions of bottles to a targeted (and usually young) market.  He makes scent that he is curious about and that he is passionate about, and then hopes that we like it too.

2. The quality of Tauer perfumes is indisputable- longevity and quality ingredients are consistent. As a customer you never feel cheated.

3. I don’t love all of them, but those I do love, I love passionately, which makes Tauer an interesting journey of discovery.

 

 Gardenia_sketch_Sotto_la_Luna

 

Sotto La Luna Gardenia is this year’s brand new offering. I have been looking forward to it enormously as I know what Andy has done with Roses. Imagine what he can do to my beloved Gardenia, I thought.

Well interestingly, it wasn’t love at first sniff.  My first impressions, unedited and straight from the top of my head as I was sniffing it, were these keywords: biscuits, mould, Battenburg cake, mushrooms, cream, nuts, Gardenia, Ambergris.

Then I went to bed, wearing another few sprays and thought about it again in the morning (it was still there).  Today I am on my third wear (I was the only one wearing it for the school run that’s for sure!) and my thoughts can now be edited into some sort of sense.

battnburgThe opening notes do indeed smell of plain, crumbly biscuits, like shortbread.  There is vanilla and butter at first.  Then some almonds pop out, which is what made me think of Battenburg Cake- that chequered pink and yellow cake covered in a layer of marzipan ( Mmm, I really want some now. Lisa, are you thinking what I’m thinking?).

The middle phase was more Gardenia, but with a faint mould smell, like a dusty musty blanket.  Unless I’m imagining things I also got celery and mushrooms, The celery note is common in earthy Lily scents and it didn’t surprise me that it was in Sotto la Luna.  The mushroom scent was new to me, but not unwelcome.  It gave this an earthy, salty, savoury tang that seemed to frame the creaminess of the Gardenia.

The base note was trademark Tauer with that background of Ambergris. It gave it a spiky heat that balanced the creamy Gardenia out with a hint of prickliness that reminded me of Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle as it loses the antiseptic heat and moves into a different phase.

gardeniaNone of this in unpleasant.  It’s as if a Gardenia flower had been dissected, examined under a microscope, divided up into different components, displayed and then put back together again, like a jigsaw.  I thought I knew Gardenia and now I have seen it up close and in High Definition.

It won’t be my favourite Tauer (Carillon Pour Un Ange is in my heart forever, along with about nine others), but its so interesting that I can’t seem to leave it alone.  I’ve never smelled anything like it, and I mean that in a good way.

In the UK Sotto La Luna is available from Les Senteurs, Scent and Sensibility ( where I got my sample- thanks Ronny!) on mainland Europe you can get it from Tauer Perfumes, and in the USA Lucky Scent has some in, if you want to try it out.

Look out for Sotto La Luna Hyacinth in 2015 and Sotto La Luna Tuberose in 2016.

Andy Tauer talks about Sotto La Luna Gardenia at les senteurs, London

Crabtree and Evelyn West Indian Lime Cologne: Summer’s Still Here

 

 westindlime

It may be September and it may be getting cooler, but there is always, always a place in my heart for a good cologne.  Trusty Crabtree and Evelyn have come up with the goods in creating West Indian Lime Cologne.

 My understanding of the word cologne is that it will be refreshing, usually have botanical ingredients and will freshen you up but not last very long.  West Indian Lime Cologne covers all those points except for longevity, where it excels.

alime

I had a lengthy squoosh in my local House of Fraser today and I can confirm that four hours later it is still going strong.  The Lime is gorgeously fresh and smells zingy and clean as a brand new freshly ironed handkerchief.

 Although  designed for men, when it comes to a revitalizing and classic cologne scent such as this one, I am first in the queue, biting the ankles of the tall people to get to the front.

 Top notes: Lime, lemon, mandarin, Middle notes: Nutmeg, coriander, rosemary, Base notes: Patchouli, sandalwood, orris.

 What I get on my skin is a slow and steady long release of lime and  mandarin, with no rich nutmeg to speak of, but a hint of patchouli in the long limey drydown.  It’s fantastic and suitable for use all year round.

 The price is right too at £30 for 100ml and it’s widely available from Marks and Spencer on most High Streets, on Amazon.com if you’re in the USA and  in House of Fraser.  It may be cologne but it has the lasting power of a very good eau de toilette.  In fact it outlasted Jennifer Lopez Rio Glow which was on my other arm and has all but disappeared.

 If you can’t justify £30 on scent this near to Christmas (yes it is- only three more paydays!)  then do my tricky trick of buying it for the man in your life and using it yourself (whilst looking like a generous and tasteful gift giver).  Bwah ha ha!- That’s my villain’s laugh.

 

Musc Ravageur: Maurice Roucel for Editions Frederic Malle 2000

musc   Musc Ravageur was created by prolific nose Maurice Roucel in 2000 and I think it’s safe to say that it has enjoyed cult success among perfumistas. Today and yesterday I have been wearing a roll on sample (thank you Lisa Wordbird) and here’s what I think:

Top notes: Lavender, mandarin and bergamot:  you would think this would make for a cologne-y opening number   à la Jo Malone Lime, Basil  & Mandarin, but it doesn’t.  In fact, it is warm and soft like blankets. I often find lavender quite a cold scent but I barely detect it here.

Middle notes:  Cinnamon and clove:  the faintest hint of cinnamon and no cloves.

Base notes: Sandalwood, tonka bean, vanilla, Guaiac wood, amber, cedar and of course, musk:  It’s the base note that seems to last longest with me.  In fact, the whole thing merges seamlessly  into one long base note right from the get go.

When reviewing Miller Harris L’Air de Rien, Lisa Wordbird, who is a die hard fan of it, says it reminded her of flannelette sheets- you know those warm brushed cotton affairs that fall somewhere between fluffy and towel-y?  Well that’s what Musc Raveguer makes me think of.  There is a slept-in staleness about it that is not unpleasant.  There are flowers peeking out (is that the lavender emerging finally?) and the musk has a muffled sharpness like skin after soap.

Sillage is close to skin.  You could spray this liberally and only those who hug you would probably comment on your incredible smell. It’s the smell of someone up close, or the smell of someone who has got out of bed after retiring following a scented bath the night before.  It is the smell of intimacy and closeness. It doesn’t smell of sex the way Worth Courtesan does, and although it has some faint, vague similarities to L’Air de Rien, Musc Ravageur stands alone as the comforting, intimate smell of longing and romance.

You can imagine a misty eyed lover sniffing his girlfriend’s coat and saying “ahh, it smells of HER”. And that, my dear friends, is Musc Ravageur.

Creed Love in Black: Pure Elegance

loveinblack

 

As you may recall from my recent review of Creed Love in White, I was under whelmed by Creed’s offering, but Creed Love in Black is a different matter.

First of all, on first application (I have a splash sample) it bursts with violets: beautiful sweet, woody violets.  I adore violets and it’s a safe bet that I will enjoy any scent that has them.  However, as you can imagine, this is no one trick pony and the violets segue into a darker more serious fragrance as the cloves emerge in the middle phase.  Cloves don’t always agree with me:  whilst they provide the kind of heat I often seek out, I find they have a burnt edge to them, as if at the bottom of a scorched mulled wine pan.

They are blended beautifully with the violets here though and give the violets a more serious, even sombre edge. The combination of the cloves and violets together frames the Iris, which is prominent, and the base notes dry off into a long lasting and intriguing burst of flowers that are both spicy/rich and delicate at the same time.  The rich Bulgarian Rose rounds things off nicely.

Rather charmingly, Creed Love in Black was inspired by the life of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: still the epitome of cool elegance even years after her death.  Were she alive today, you would never, ever find her taking a selfie. (take note Mrs K.West of Los Angeles).

 Creed Love in Black has the overall effect of restrained prettiness with a hint of spiced wine (probably the cloves reminding me of Christmas) and whilst I like it and enjoyed wearing it today, I probably wouldn’t go as far as spending over £100 on it.  It would make an elegant and distinctive signature scent for the right woman.  I like to think Jackie would have loved it.

shoera.com

shoera.com

My Top Ten Avon Fragrances: New For 2014

tahitind.4908

I may have mentioned before that I find Avon a bit hit and miss as far as fragrances go, but I have noticed a definite change lately. Whilst I still question the relentless frequency of new launches, every now and then they come up trumps and deliver the goods, and this has been happening more frequently of late.  The strongest quality in Avon’s favour is the price.  Competitive doesn’t even begin to cover it.  Sometimes the low budget really shows, and sometimes you may find that you have in your hands a genuine bargain.

I also like that they listen to their customers.  When Timeless was discontinued in 2012, Avon customers clamoured for its return.  To their credit, Avon listened and brought it back earlier this year.  I like it when that happens.

In the last six months, I have tried a number of Avon fragrances that have really impressed me.  When you think that they usually cost around between £5 each when on special offer or £13 for two at full price , then the value is unimpeachable ( only Premiere Luxe reaches the dizzy heights of £14, but it reminds me of Armani Si).  However, the question remains- at these prices do you have to compromise on quality?  Well the answer is yes and no.

One range that I don’t get on with is the Today Tomorrow Always range.  I have tried them all and don’t like any of them.  They seem to have a flat synthetic base note in common that seems to disagree with my skin.  Full marks for gorgeous heavy glass bottles and glossy packaging though.

Avon, if you are reading this, thanks for years of fond memories of trusty favourites such Eau Givrée, Foxfire, Charisma and my first ever perfume, Pretty Peach.   Many a childhood Christmas was enhanced by novelty soaps almost too pretty to use and pretty perfume bottles and all sorts of wonders that my mother and grandmother ordered for me from their Avon lady.  For all those memories, thank you.

And one last point- please can we have Avon Odyssey back in our UK brochures?  It’s available in the USA and we would like it too.  Thank you very much. As you were.

You may have noticed that here at IScentYouaDay I like to slip in a Top Ten every now  and then,  so here’s my Avon Top Ten. Prices vary between £5 and £14.

 

1. Avon Little Black Dress: A light white floral that keeps its shape: gardenia and honeysuckle with a woodsy finish

lbd

2. Avon Timeless:  created in 1974, discontinued in 2012 and bought back by popular demand in 2014.  Ambery spicy and powdery.  A winter treat.

timeless

3. Avon Premiere Luxe: A fabulous chypre with blackcurrant, gardenia and woods.  Could pass for something three times the price on the High Street.

premluxe

4. Avon Soft Musk : A classic floral musk that lasts for hours and costs the same as a bottle of wine. (in Lidl)

soft musk

5. Avon Tahitian Holiday: Reviewed earlier in my blog.  A coconutty white floral. Perfect for hot weather.  The poor woman’s Bronze Goddess.

tahiti

6. Avon True Life For Her: A light and pleasant rose/peony combo ideal for everyday casual wear and cheap as chips.

PROD_1157774M

7. Avon Eternal Magic: a dead ringer for Lancôme Hypnôse for a fraction of the price

eternal magic

 

8. Avon Rare Diamonds: reminds me of Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely and even Narciso Rodriguez For Her. Nice bottle too.

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9. Avon Summer White Sunrise: a change from the norm for Avon: a refreshing floral scent with notes of pear and orange blossom.

Avon UK

Avon UK

10. Avon Far Away: not my personal favourite but I couldn’t leave it off the list.  This is Avon’s bestseller and I know several people who adore it.  It’s rich with Vanilla, coconut , sandalwood and floral notes. It’s instantly recognisable, and a customer favourite.

nd.4908

 

And sneaking this one in on the end in the hope that our friends at Avon are reading this…

Top Ten of fragrances I Would Love Avon to Bring Back

1. Avon Eau Givrée

2. Avon Odyssey

3. Avon Charisma

4. Avon Foxfire

5. Avon Ophelia

6. Avon Rare Rubies

7. Avon  Topaze

8. Avon Tasha

9. Avon Casbah

10. Avon Ariane

 

odysseyarianecasbah

 

 

Chanel Egoiste: Pour Homme, pour me.

egoiste

 

 Chanel Égoïste is supposedly for men, but we say knickers to gender labels on this blog.  I have been wearing this for a couple of days now and I have to say it knocks spots off every male fragrance I have smelled in the last year (with an honourable mention to the wonderful Valentino Uomo).

As the weather cools down, with occasional erratic bursts of heat, Chanel Égoïste seems to fit the bill perfectly.  At first spray, it is a refreshing citrus scent with mandarin and peppery carnations. As it beds down, the cinnamon, woods and sandalwood emerge, but they are tempered with the strong peppery (almost dusty) carnation that hangs on with tenacity.  This is no bad thing: Égoïste proves that carnation and sandalwood compliment each other so perfectly that I don’t know why it isn’t done more often.

The base note, which lasts around eight hours on my thirsty skin, is divine.  With leather, tobacco and warm rich amber, this is so seamlessly blended you can hardly break the notes up.

Unlike many male fragrances on the High Street today, Chanel Égoïste doesn’t have the generic base note I have mentioned in previous posts.  To be honest I would wear more male scents if the bothersome everyman note wasn’t added to male fragrance so often.  The most memorable exceptions I have come across are Coty Aspen, Valentino Uomo (coffee, lavender and leather *swoon*) and believe it or not, Old Spice.

As a wise fellow blogger once told me, it is probably synthetic violet leaf. (Thanks to the legend that is Kafkaesque for that. I learn a lot from Kafka).

However, we have no such worries with Égoïste.  I would happily wear this all winter if a) I had a limitless budget and b) there weren’t so many other bottles on my overcrowded wish list.

Peppery, dusty, spicy leather.  Pure heaven. I am an Égoïste.

Avon Little Pink Dress: Affordable Daytime Chic

lpd   I haven’t always had good things to say about Avon fragrance but in the last six months I have increasingly found more to like.  I do believe Avon is turning a corner. For one thing, they listened to their customers enough to bring Timeless back.  Secondly, they launched Avon Premier Luxe, which is excellent quality and costs around  £10. And thirdly, their prices remain very competitive.  Now maybe if I can persuade them to bring Odyssey back I would be a very happy blogger indeed.  (hey Avon, I know its in your USA brochures- please let us Brits have it too!)

odyssey

 

The Little Dress range of perfumes has been strong right from the start.  Little Black Dress is one of my favourites, and I even carry a purse spray of Little Red Dress around in my bag.  I haven’t tried Little Gold Dress or Little White Dress so I can’t speak for them.  However, I recently tried Little Pink Dress and I was impressed.

On a warm day, the lightness of Little Pink Dress was most welcome.  It opens with citrus: the only fruit I can’t get enough of in a scent.  Then the Peony comes in.  Peony is in my view, the prettiest, and dare I say it, the girliest of floral notes.  It is an almost guaranteed crowd pleaser for fans of floral scents, and I am very much in the crowd.

The base is supposedly patchouli, but I found it remained Peony-ish, with pleasant little floral wafts emanating from my skin as I moved around during the day. Little Pink Dress has often been compared to Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue and I can see why.  Both are light and airy  and open with citrussy notes. Longevity was neither great nor terrible, but since this was recently on sale for as little as £7, then I’m not complaining.

The only mystery about Little Pink Dress is why on earth they thought adding caviar was a good plan?  But don’t panic, it’s imperceptible.  Phew!  I didn’t want another Thierry Mugler Womanity situation on my hands.  Womanity still remains the only perfume, out of hundreds, that made me physically gag and retch.  Caviar in perfume?  Not a good plan.

I would say to Avon: don’t try and do what others are doing, just keep doing what you do best. What Avon does best is affordable, pleasant fragrances.  They don’t smash up the room, nor are they insipid, but they strike a good balance between the two and make the thrill of a new bottle of perfume an accessible treat.  There are still a lot of them that smell similar to one another however, but they seem to be steady sellers so I guess it’s just me.

Avon Little Pink Dress is a delightful and pretty daytime scent and would be ideal for work wear.  Innocent and inoffensive, it makes me want to wear a tea dress and paint my toes pearly pink.

mooseyscountrygarden.com

mooseyscountrygarden.com

Serge Lutens Gris Clair: Hot Lavender!

gris clairgood

 

On my skin, Serge Lutens scents last a very long time: usually around nine hours. The exception was Muscs Koublai Khan, which I detested and couldn’t get rid of. It’s the perfume Rule of Sod.  Love it?  It won’t last.  Hate it?  It won’t wash off.

Serge Lutens Gris Clair falls somewhere in the middle for me.  It’s long lasting but I neither hate nor love it.  Weirdly, it smells a little like hot starched linen on me: as if I have over-ironed a garment (chance would be a fine thing- ask my husband!).  It also smells very masculine, and if I may use a colour here, it smells silver.

Serge Lutens Gris Clair was created by the genius that is Christopher Sheldrake. I don’t love everything he makes, but everything he makes is quite brilliant, objectively speaking if not subjectively.  Woodsy lavender with a hint of resin, this is an unusual combo and I can think of few scents with which to compare it.

The notes include Iris, tonka bean, woods, lavender, incense, and amber.  What I admire about it is the fact that without the lavender, this would be a superb, if not unique, incense-y oriental.  However, the lavender jars and almost puts my teeth on edge, but I don’t regard this as a bad thing.  How would we have discovered that olives and Martini go so well together if someone hadn’t dared to try it?

So what we have in Gris Clair is a warm, spicy scent whose cosy edges are blown away.  Lavender is a cold scent.  Amber is warm.  Sheldrake has wrapped a woolly blanket around the hard edges of a skyscraper.  It’s hot and cold.  It’s different.  It’s audacious.  But it’s not for me.

StormFlower by Cheryl: Does it Have The X Factor?

stormflower

 

Cheryl  Fernandez-Versini re-debuts tonight on the UK’s X Factor. She also debuts her first ever perfume StormFlower this week.  Coincidence?  No just common sense PR.

Cheryl Tweedy Cole Fernandez-Versini  has the dubious honour of being Mr IScent’s favourite member of Girls Aloud.  He has all their albums and Cheryl’s too.  Naturally, Cheryl is not a patch on me in any way, and he loves me the most, we decided.

I tried StormFlower today and I must say that yes, I quite liked it.  I was hoping it wouldn’t be the bearer of too much vanilla as so many celeb scents have been lately,  and I was fearing it would be too sweet for my taste, knowing that Cheryl is partial to a bit of Viktor and Rolf Flowerbomb.

o.27497My first impression of StormFlower is freshly sliced Papaya, followed by Freesia, followed by a pretty generic base note of faded top notes with a faintly spicy synthetic finish.

In fact, the top notes are mandarin and nectarine.  Nectarine is thankfully not as talcum powdery or as sickly as peach can sometimes be, and seems to be juicier and lighter.  Mandarin is always welcome with its citrussy refreshing tang.  Middle notes are Freesia, which is noticeable and is coupled well with the juicy top notes.  Added to the mix is a touch of peach blossom which again shows restraint from an all too easy peach fest.

The disappointment here is in the base note which dries down into a nothing-special cheap smelling synthetic muddle.  It’s supposed to be sandalwood, vanilla and musk (nothing new there), but falls rather badly at the final hurdle. The base note cheapens the promising start and pretty, feminine middle phase.

It can come as no surprise that I’m about to start using X Factor metaphors, so here goes.  Would I put StormFlower through to the next round?  Well for starters it depends on the calibre of the other candidates. Some years in X Factor, there are mediocre finalists that wouldn’t have got to the finals had they been on the show the year before.  I feel that this is the case with StormFlower.  In light of nothing else particularly robust in the celeb field this year, this is a strong contender, but had this been the year that say, Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely was launched, then it wouldn’t have even got to Boot Camp.

But don’t listen to me: this pleasantly uplifting tropical and fruity scent will sell and sell and then probably sell some more. Madame Ferndandez-Versini  (how exotic that sounds!) can sleep tight, knowing all her direct debits will go out this month with a bit of change in the bank for a treat.

I won’t be buying this, but I’m pretty sure thousands of others will, and fair play to them.

Stepping Away For A Short Scented Sojourn

felix3

Dear perfumed friends, I shall be leaving the blogosphere for a few days to enjoy the last week of the holidays with my two sons and my husband.

I have had a ball this summer, learning and discovering as I go along, as usual.   These last few month alone I have examined the case for and against the classic Opium (and not so classic reformulations).  I’ve realised that even gigantic revered companies can be silly (Miss Dior becoming Miss Dior Originale and Miss Dior Cherie becoming Miss Dior – very silly indeed!).

I’ve discovered wonderful scents that I didn’t know about (Hello 4160 Tuesdays and Goodbye Picadilly!), brand new perfumers in Papillon and their gorgeous trifold launch of Angelique, Anubis and Tobacco Rose (hello to the talented Liz Moores!). I enjoyed Tauer’s revival of Eau D’Epices and his new cologne Cologne du Maghreb (Guten Tag Andy!) and I saw my perfume collection diminish, grow and change, like a season all of its own.

What am I looking forward to in September? (Apart from arguments in the shoe shop, and listening to endlessly changing Christmas lists.)  Scent wise, I am looking forward to Tauer Sotto La Luna (its gardenia!), and looking forward to getting the heavy mob in as the weather gets colder.  Goodbye colognes and hello Orientals.

Do please excuse me than as I step away for the last week of the school holidays for some quality time with my adorable and demanding sons. They drive me round the bend but I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

PS The picture you see above is the same as the poster I have above my desk as I blog.  I bought it in Paris and carried it home on the Eurostar.