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.

 

Creed Love in White: When Rice Things Happen to Good Perfume

nd.4262

 

Yes you read it right.  Rice things have happened to a perfectly good perfume and it’s as unmissable as a blackcurrant lolly in the middle of a wedding dress. It cannot be ignored.

I tried Creed Love in White yesterday and today and was particularly intrigued by it as I read a rumour that Dame Her Supreme Majesty Angelina Jolie wears it.  If it makes Brad Pitt look up from his motorbike and  say “Baby, I dig you”  then its good enough for me.

Creed Love in White opens beautifully.  White is indeed the right name.  It has sea notes and citrus notes  and magnolia and is as clean as a white chiffon curtain floating lazily in an early morning Malibu breeze with a bracing view of the Ocean (you know, like Angelina’s house. Probably)

However, there’s a big Oops and that pesky, of all things, RICE note barges in and messes up the pure white sitting room with its savoury slightly parched smell. I tried and tried to ignore it.  It veers between savoury dried grass and scorched parchment and it just ruins this for me.

Amusingly, Luca Turin and I are in agreement on this. (Listen to me, talking like he’s my friend or something. Sorry Tania) In fact, he is even more irritated than I am.  In Perfumes The Guide he declares that if a homeless person was offered shampoo that smelled like this, they would decline it and take their chances with the lice.

I don’t think it’s quite that bad, but what on earth were they thinking adding rice into a perfectly good and clean smelling fragrance?

Cacharel Noa took a similar gamble and in my opinion, won.  Noa is a delightfully “white” ethereal scent with a bloom’n’fade coffee bean in the middle. It works.  Creed Love in White does not.

But I bet it smells great on Dame Angie.

518TPazR6gL._SL1000_

PS Two thank yous- Lisa Wordbird- thanks for the loan of the sample! And also thank you to this website which is so addictive that you can get completely lost in it.

Guerlain Samsara: I Can’t, I Simply Can’t

samsara   Everyone has one.  A fragrance that is associated so strongly with another person or time that it cannot be seen as a stand alone fragrance to be viewed objectively.  It could be the signature scent of a former colleague, or in-law, or it could be the smell of a disastrous night out or date. Whatever the reason, many perfume lovers have a smell they cannot detach from, no matter how random or illogical the association.

For me, that smell is Guerlain Samsara.  It may explain why it has taken me so long to get around to reviewing it. Years ago, I knew a couple who had appalling personal hygiene. The smell of Samsara in their flat was all pervading day and night and masked the strong, unwashed smell of hair and clothes and body so that I was never sure if the perfume was musky or if it was the unwashed clothes.  It served to put me right off, good and proper, like the opposite of Pavlov’s dogs.  I see a bottle of Samsara and I walk away, swerving with almost comical briskness.

Decades later, I steeled myself to chase away the perfumed ghosts.

It wasn’t until I spent a few days wearing it that I realised how similar Samsara is to Serge Lutens Feminité du Bois.  Feminité du Bois is woodier and has rougher edges (deliberately, not because it was made badly) but the robustness and dusty spice is similar.  Sadly, to me, Feminité du Bois smells like unwashed knickers ( which I tried to Google and wished I hadn’t), so I guess we’re back to square one on that one.   Or maybe one explains the other.

On first spray Samsara is immediately woody, green and juicy.  The sandalwood is then the strongest note, followed by the Musk, at least to my nose. There’s a touch of earthy Iris and orris root, and its rich with Amber, but the opening is fruity and juicy and spicy all at once.  There is a waft of definite banana like ylang in the top notes, but it skidaddles before the mood gets serious. The base note holds that unmistakable musky sandalwood that means you can spot Samsara from 20 paces, and longevity is of course, excellent, whether you like it or not.

You could wear Guerlain Samsara on a date and you (and your date) would still be enjoying olfactory reminders three days later.  The success of this is up to you.  Please wear Samsara responsibly. Whatever way I look at it though, and whichever angle I come from, it will sadly always be the smell of a girl who uses perfume instead of soap.

I’m sorry Samsara fans, it’s not you, and it’s definitely me.

PS If you are a friend of mine and you are reading this, you are not the unhygienic couple.  They are long gone.

Dana Raffinée: A Touch of Brass

Raffinee Perfume Dana Raffinée used to be Houbigant Raffinée and sadly I cannot list the differences between the Dana formulation and the Houbigant formulation as I don’t have the old one to compare it to.  However, if you’re a fan of Caron Montaigne (rumoured to be endangered) then you may like this rather similar and classic fragrance.   raffinee-perfume-by-dana-for-women-personal-fragrances_24801_500

First impressions of Raffinée are yellow flowers and powder.  This is probably why it reminded me so much of Caron Montaigne- those were my first impressions of Montaigne too.  However if you take away the oranges from Montaigne you are left with pretty much a decent dead ringer in Raffinée.  The problem is, it looks like Raffinee’s days are numbered too.  In this case, the emergency drill would be to buy the cheapest, which is currently Caron Montaigne , being sold for a song right now over on Amazon.

Raffinée opens with mimosa and spices.  There is a hint of hyacinth in there too, lots of dry rooty orris root and some noticeably rich tuberose. The flowers are not soft nor delicate nor dainty.  There’s no peony here.  The flowers are more blousy and loud and wearing too much make up and trying to look young.

The middle notes are a raft of soapy, powdery spices and this phase seems to last a long time.  The base notes segue into a rather brassy evening scent that smacks of the late 1970s.  There’s no subtlety here.  There’s no delicacy.  But I tell you what Raffinée does remind me of, and that’s a Beryl Cook painting, leopard print, cleavage and a dirty laugh.

It’s not fashionable, but who wants fashionable?  Powdery, soapy, spicy and rocking a tarty, 70s vibe- if Raffinée was a person we’d be going out on the town tonight.

PS Thank you to my dear friend Lisa Wordbird for the loan of the bottle.  She is not rocking a tarty 70s vibe in case you were wondering.

artbrokerage.com

artbrokerage.com

 

Miller Harris Rose En Noir: I Thought I Knew Rose

rose

  Miller Harris Rose En Noir is,  as I expected from the brand, excellent quality.  From the name I was expecting an enigmatic Gothic Rose, and that is what I got.  And it’s rather wonderful. The Rose in Rose En Noir is immediately likable, but noticeably different.  Its intensity sets it apart from other rose scents for a start, but there is something else- some unusual note that makes this unique.

naturalgarden.org

naturalgarden.org

The opening of Rose En Noir reminded me a little of Tauer PHI Rose de Kandahar in that the Rose has been magnified and almost candied to give it a gourmand kick: so intense that it borders on the medicinal.  Imagine sugarless Turkish Delight concentrated by a hundred and seasoned with black pepper. The note I was trying and failing to identify really surprised me:  it was cumin. Yes, that mainstay of curry and chilli has been used to mouth watering effect here by adding a touch of savoury to what is normally an impossibly feminine note.

Normally if you said “Do try this rose and cumin perfume” I’d try it with no expectations of liking it and then go and drown my sorrows in a bottle of Une Rose Chypree to cheer me up (Vero Profumo Rubj had a similar effect on me).  Incredibly, the cumin note does not smell spicy, but more like a richness, like honey.  In fact, smelling this blind I thought it was a combination of rose, honey and yellow flowers.

There is a cosy warmth to it, like spiced rose petal tea. The notes include no other flower other than Rose, and I like that about Rose En Noir. Using only spices and dried leaves such as cumin, coriander, pepper, tobacco and violet leaf, Rose En Noir remains a centre stage Rose enhanced by a spiced heat.

Nothing is dominant, but everything combined creates a warm cloak about this classically recognisable flower. The base is a patchouli, rose and tobacco-y blend that lasts for around nine hours.  It’s very sniffable and smells like nothing else I can name off the top of my head.  If you like your rose but don’t want to run with the pack, this is for you.

I love that Lyn Harris has found yet a different approach to a flower that has been used in perfume so many thousands of times, and still found a new and interesting angle.  Rose En Noir was created for Liberty in 2006 and is available from John Lewis, Escentual,  and  Miller Harris.

4160 Tuesdays London 1969: A Refreshing Retro Breeze

stylus.com

stylus.com

4160 Tuesdays  has a knack of giving perfumes such great names that you’re brimming with the anticipation of a little voyage into a vignette before you even put it on.  It’s like having a pair of shoes called “Magic Carpet” or a coat called “Russian Princess”.  Immediately, life gets more interesting and fantastical through the power of suggestion.

Thus it was in merry, hippy Carnaby Street mood,with “here comes Georgie Girl” in my head, that I first tried 4160 Tuesdays London 1969. Now you may notice that certain brands have a recognition factor. This is no bad thing:  The old Guerlains have it and you can usually tell a Serge or a Tauer by its je ne sais quoi.  4160 Tuesdays has it too:  a kind of rich, woody blank canvas base that makes it recognisable…or so I thought until I tried London 1969.

Alert with zingy lemon, zesty grapefruit and a kind of lime sherbert that took me back to my childhood, London 1969 is like licking a lolly on a hot day in a floppy hat, in glorious techniclour as you mingle with the cool cats outside Biba. No, I wasn’t around then, ( it was the year my Dad looked at my Mum in a funny way though, I was born the following year) but Sarah McCartney is the Doctor Who of perfumers: she can take you back in time and space with a mere smell.

The Dark Heart of Havana had me sipping coffee in a Cuban Pavement Café, Time to Draw The Raffle Numbers was all polished floors and marmalade in an empty church hall, and The Lion Cupboard had a whiff of peppermints, old wood and pocket fluff and made me feel pleasantly Narnia-ish.

wikipedia

wikipedia

I don’t know what the notes are in London 1969, but if you like Annick Goutal Eau D’Hadrien on steroids, or O de Lancome with the volume pumped up, or Miller Harris Le Pamplemousse, then I can almost guarantee you’ll love London 1969.  And the sky will be blue, and your sunglasses big, and there will be red buses and black cabs and optimism.  It’s not widely available yet, but it will be.  Sarah, please make it so! It’s glorious, as is the sunshine.

 

PS- UPDATE- London 1969 is now available on the 4160 website in the drop down menus in 8ml and 30 ml bottles.

Estee Lauder Sensuous: It’s Just Not That Into Me

sensuousel

It is a fact, universally acknowledged, that I cannot walk past the Estee Lauder counter without pressing a nozzle of some sort.  Today that nozzle was Estee Lauder Sensuous and let’s just say there was no chemistry  during our  first meeting. Sensuous left me within moments of our first introductions without a backward glance.  I don’t think there’s going to be a second date.

There is no rhyme or reason as to why some perfumes are anosmic to some and not others.  Cartier Delices de Cartier was one memorable example ( or should that be unmemorable?).  I sprayed and sprayed and practically used up a whole sample before realising I couldn’t smell it at all.  Luckily, with Estee Lauder Sensuous I judiciously sprayed my sleeve so I can vaguely recall what it smelled like and can report back.

It reminded me a little of Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial in that it is a powdery floral with a smoothing hint of vanilla/honey round the edges. It’s very close to skin (that’s an understatement) and disappeared within about three minutes.  Now, I know this is just me as it wouldn’t have been a steady seller since its 2008 launch if it were anosmic on everyone.

The strongest notes I can smell are still very faint and they are sandalwood, honey and magnolia.  If it was stronger I think I would actually like it, and by stronger, I mean noticeable without trying to inhale my entire arm in one snort just to catch a passing zephyr of it.  It’s  reasonably priced however, possibly one of the cheapest Estee Lauders in fact, so if it hangs around you’ve got yourself a  bargain.

My overall verdict? We could have been good together if you’d stuck around to get to know me. Mystifying.