RM Eau de Parfum by Ruth Mastenbroek


RM by Ruth Mastenbroek is the first scent by  perfumer Ruth Mastenbroek. Ruth has been in the perfume industry for several decades.  A previous President of the British Society of Perfumers, Ruth is the nose behind many well known scents you may not realise that she was responsible for: she has worked for Kenneth Turner, the House of Bath, Jigsaw and Jo Malone to name a few.


RM  is a delightful floral chypre, that uses many fruits so skilfully that it showcases the natural characteristics of the fruit with none of the sugariness that has been all too pervasive in recent years ( aren’t you just so OVAH sickly fruity florals?) .

On first spray of RM my nose is greeted with a blast of zingy citrus notes: notably bergamot and surprisingly- pineapple. I say surprisingly because I have had disastrous experiences with pineapple notes in scent before now, but here it is rather beautiful with an understated summery feel. The patchouli and sandalwood start peeking through early around now-ish, just as the florals come out and blossom shamelessly all over the place. Here you will find rich roses and heady jasmine. There is also a hint of lily, but my nose was getting distracted by now because my old chum oak moss was making its presence felt.  Now we’re really talking chypres.

The basenotes of RM manage to blend together into one stunning multi layered accord. There’s the lightness of citrus, the feminine florals, and the prickly, mossy base- all in total harmony. It’s a peachy patchouli with a hint of blackcurrant, yet the fruit (despite being half a grocer’s worth) is never overbearing.  RM is a class act that conjures an English Country Garden and impossibly feminine tea dresses, yet the prickly chypre finish gives it a daring edge that was enormously appealing to me,  a die-hard chypre fan. This can be worn all year round.

This is a superb début that heralds the opening act of a high quality and innovative capsule collection. I recently reviewed Amorosa and will shortly be reviewing Oxford to complete my trilogy of Mastenbroek reviews. I was lucky enough to meet Ruth earlier this month ( see my previous post) and she told me that a fourth scent will shortly be joining the ranks. I for one will be first in line to try it. Gangway!


You can buy Ruth Mastenbroek fragrances from  the Ruth Mastenbroek website or from Fenwicks or Rouiller White. My sample was from Ruth herself, for which, warmest thanks. Opinions are my own.

Sarah Jessica Parker Stash SJP



When people tell me they would never bother with celebrity scent, I refer them to Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely.  It’s a superb scent in its own right and still going strong ten years after its launch. There are not many celebrity scents that can say the same. Parker’s interest in its development is well documented in Chandler Burr’s book “The Perfect Scent”. Sarah Jessica was involved in every stage, far more than many celebrity rubber stamp sign offs.


To me, her new scent, Stash SJP, is more reminiscent of her earlier experimentations prior to Lovely. SJP used to mix three fragrances to get a scent she loved and Stash resembles that scent more than Lovely. The three were: Bonne Bell Musk, Comme Des Garcons Incense Series Avignon and  an Egyptian scented oil that she bought from a street vendor. When I tried Stash SJP, I felt like I had an idea of what this previous mash up might have smelled like. The word I’m looking for is glorious.

Stash SJP opens with a masculine swagger of black pepper and grapefruit. Somehow I also got juicy figgy fruit which segued into dark, incense infused woods. Like Avignon, this reminds me of the smell of oak pews in an ancient church. The woody accord comes from massoia woods, vetiver and cedar. The frankincense infuses it with spices. Sage and vetiver add a herby, dried grass flavour.  The overall finish is one of spiced woods, patchouli and a freshness from the grapefruit that keeps it sharp.

This could hardly be more different to its counterpart – it’s the bad sister to goody two shoes Lovely. I think it’s wonderful, although I could have sworn it was full of sandalwood. Stash reminds me of Hilary Duff With Love- now sadly discontinued. With Love is one of my favourite fragrances because of the wonderful dark guaiac woods in it.  Stash SJP has a similar feel, but if anything, is better.  It gives me all those dark woods and that old church aroma I’m always chasing,  along with some zingy citrus and spice to boot. The hashtag is #ComeandFindIt and find it you must, dear friends. This is too good to pass by. Stash SJP has the potential to become a classic. I’ll be getting a full bottle for sure.


Currently, this can only be found in selected branches of Superdrug and Boots. Prices start at £28 for 30ml. Rumour has it that an oil version is coming later.

Good Girl Gone Bad by Kilian 2012



Kilian Hennessey, the hottie of the perfume world, has just opened a By Kilian boutique in the exclusive Burlington Arcade in Knightsbridge.  You may recall that I mentioned my visit in my recent post Pia and Nick’s Smelly Cakey Perfume Meet Up.

On a day where sniffing perfumes was the number one activity, it seemed ironic to me that I fell for the first one I smelled and could find nothing to compare during the rest of the day. To be fair though, all subsequent scents were drowned in a general miasma and were hard to distinguish.


Good Girl Gone Bad had been sprayed prior to me entering the boutique and that big tuberose was my first scent of the day. “What is that amazing tuberose-y smell?” I exclaimed as I crossed the threshold. Dear reader, this good girl went mad for it.

Good Girl Gone Bad opens with Indian tuberose. There’s a lot of Osmanthus in there, (which smells like apricot blossom), but the tuberose kept tapping me on the shoulder. There’s jasmine too, but that didn’t get much of a look in, nor did the rose, nor the narcissus. To me, this was all about the tuberose. Sometimes it can get so intense that it almost collapses into a vegetable note- usually celery or even  fennel.  That’s exactly what happens here. The tuberose, so rich and creamy, becomes both celery like and slightly salty at the same time. It’s borderline savoury, but doesn’t quite  put its toe over that line. At the same time, this is feminine- almost exaggeratedly so. There was talk of a Parisienne countess who owns a carafe of it- or did I imagine that?

I’ve never smelled tuberose quite like this. It was like a drug to me. There’s allegedly amber and cedar in the base,  but you know when you fall in love and can see nobody else in a crowded room? That’s the tuberose in Good Girl Gone Bad. I only had nostrils for you, my darling.


You can buy this at By Kilian, or at Harvey Nichols. It’s really expensive, so if you buy a bottle, you have to give me a decant. I’ll be your best friend.

 Photos: Fragrantica and The Telegraph

Avon LIFE For Her by Kenzo Takada for Avon (2016)


Sit up and take notice, Kenzo fans: Kenzo Takada has made a fragrance for our chums at Avon. Avon LIFE For Her has just launched and I managed to bag myself a sample ( there’s also a For Him but I haven’t tried that one). Being a pre-Christmas launch, I wasn’t expecting anything quite so light and summery, but the only rule in perfume is that there are no rules. LIFE is Kenzo’s take on violet, so as a violet fan I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

LIFE opens with a white tea note. It’s similar to Elizabeth Arden Green Tea but less metallic and less green. There is prominent water lily, making this a treat for fans of The Body Shop Fijian Water Lotus who want something in the same ozonic vein. A touch of apple adds to this clean wholesome accord.


By the middle phase I’m still waiting for those violets to turn up, and I do believe they sneak in dressed as irises to fool me. There is the typical iris sobriety here: a touch of grey rootiness that is contrasted here with a bright floral sweet note. Nothing to do with vanilla or gourmand: it’s more like the sweetness of a small spring flower magnified into intensity. The vegetal note from the iris sticks around, and the musk mallow (aka ambrette) does nothing to dispel it. There is allegedly patchouli to round things off, but I still found this to be an ozonic tea scent.

It’s pretty and light, and would be the ideal scent for a hot day if you like your fragrance to be of the the airy, green tea sort. It’s not for me right now, but I’ll give it another go in summer, when it will go perfectly with short sleeves and a cloudless sky.


Avon LIFE is available exclusively from Avon. In the UK try Avon UK or your Avon rep.





Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Chinchilla: Animal with a Capital “GRRR”


Dawn Spencer Hurwitz very kindly sent me a batch of samples recently. I was delighted to receive them and delighted to review one of them here. There’ll be more reviews to follow, but I felt an urge to get stuck in when I wore the stunning Chinchilla today.

Chinchilla was inspired by olde worlde glamour: a world where women still wore chinchilla stoles and their best diamonds to dazzle suitors. Chinchilla has a vintage feel to  and I mean that in its most literal sense. You know when you open a bottle of vintage perfume and it’s gone amber? That’s what chinchilla smells like. But it’s more than that. Chinchilla packs an animalic punch that puts this straight to the top of the “Perfumes That Smell of Sex” Top Ten.

plymouth_auction_1086Containing civet (secreted from glands of the civet cat), hyrax (from hyrax urine crystals) AND castoreum (from beavers), this animal note is unmissable and written in bold. There’s honey too, which always reminds me of the smell of skin. Like all the best vintage scents, this has a wonderful chypre feel with oakmoss, bergamot, musk and vetiver. It reminds me of scent from the 1920s and 30s. If you yearn for the olden days when perfume smelled like perfume and came in heavy glass bottles, then Chinchilla is for you. Personally, I adore a classic vintage-feel chypre with a hint of Grrr, so Chinchilla is for me, too.

PS My cat Danny the Ginger Ninja went MAD for this.


You can buy this and other DSH perfume from the website. Sample kindly supplied by Dawn, with warm thanks from me. Opinions are my own.

Chanel No 5 L’Eau (2016)


The funny thing about Chanel no 5 is that I seem to prefer the flankers. Whereas I spend a lot of time bemoaning too many flankers, or flankers gone wrong (I’m looking at you Black Opium), when it comes to Chanel No 5, I can’t get enough of those perfectly executed beauties. I loved Eau Première and now I love Chanel no 5 L’Eau .  (Disclaimer- I haven’t tried  the other flanker Chanel No 5 Eixir Sensuel so cannot comment)

My sample of Chanel No 5 L’Eau arrived in the post two days ago and I have been wearing it ever since. The original Chanel No 5 is far from my favourite perfume. It’s arguably the most famous, however, which is how many women end up having a bottle gifted to them, whether they like it or not. That’s not to exclude the many women ( or men) who made an informed choice to wear it. It’s high quality and a classic, but to me it’s always been as if I’m not in on the joke.

chanel-no-5-leau-bottleL’Eau is a different story. Where Chanel no 5 is the tweed suit, Chanel no 5 L’Eau is the lingerie you wear underneath. The best and prettiest ingredients from Chanel No 5 have been taken and used lightly here, leaving the heavy stuff behind. It’s as delicate as a silk slip, yet don’t be fooled by the metaphor of lightness. In it’s way L’Eau is as powerful as No 5, but without the stale face powder note I often get with the original. It’s the flowers I notice the most in L’Eau, not the amber, patchouli, civet or oakmoss of the original.

With L’Eau, the jasmine and roses are prominent to me, as are the aldehydes, but this is far more floral than No 5 and less sober. I’m pleased that the alleged vanilla is a no show. The orris has a buttery, rooty note and the citruses keep it light and cologne-y. The soapy powdery note that is the trademark of No 5 is still there, but not as cloying. This is fluffy like a talcum puff, with a hint of white musk in the base.

Chanel No 5 L’Eau is a Chanel No 5 I can get on board with, roll about in, and marinate in. It’s no weakling: it’s fragility is its strength. This is a delicate beauty with muscles. 


You can buy Chanel No 5 L’Eau from Boots, Chanel and The Fragrance Shop.

Tauerville Vanilla Flash: Review



Vanilla Flash is the kind of fragrance that will convert vanilla dodgers into vanilla lovers. As I have said before in this blog, in my opinion, vanilla has been frankly abused and overused in its synthetic cheapest forms in High Street commercial scents, to the point where we can lose sight of why it was so beloved in the first place.

Not like this
Like this

Tauerville Vanilla Flash has restored my faith in vanilla and made me love it again. There’s nothing synthetic smelling or cheap smelling about this beauty. This is the smell of the vanilla pod when you open the little perspex tube it came in before it has been used: that wizened, bendy twig like pod in its most pristine, ripe form. THAT sort of vanilla is what we’re talking about here: milky and rich. There’s no bucket of sugar and no cake flavouring.

The addition of cheap vanilla to floral scents has ruined many a decent sniff for me.  Here, on the flip side of that coin, rose has been added to very high quality vanilla. Rose and tobacco in fact. What you have here is a vanilla scent in which vanilla is part of the chorus, and a very harmonic chorus that is.

The tobacco gives an oaky, coconutty feel to the rose that reminded me both of pipe smoke and the actual wood of a pipe at the same time. The roses are subtle yet impossible to miss. Put both of these alongside vanilla and you have a unisex vanilla that has absolutely nothing to do with a cupcake and everything to do with a cool milkiness infused with woody roses and a hint of pipe smoke. Round it off with some patchouli and a gentle hint of spice, and you have Vanilla Flash. 

This vanilla dodger will be getting a full bottle. My faith in vanilla has been fully restored.


You can buy the Tauerville range from Les Senteurs in the UK, Lucky Scent in the USA, or, of course, the Tauerville website.

Photos-top photo by Fragrantica, photo of pod by ZoeBakes.com, Photo of cupcake from HealthyRise.com