Fragonard Emilie: A Beautiful Jewel on Your High Street

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At the risk of sounding like a gushing fan, I adore Fragonard.  With packaging that makes my dressing table weep with joy, scents that go back to their Grasse roots ( pun intended), ingredients of high quality and prices that are very reasonable indeed, the only fault I could find with Fragonard is that they weren’t near enough for me to try and buy.

Well that last niggle has finally been solved by dear old Marks and Spencer, provider of knickers to Britain’s women in times of peace and crisis. Even in my tiny local M and S, there is now a decent Fragonard range and after dropping some subtle hints around my recent birthday, my husband and children bagged me a box of three mini Fragonards in parfum strength and today I am wearing Emilie.  (I got the soaps too).

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Emilie has been compared to Yves Saint Laurent Paris  since it has dominant roses and violets, but I think Emilie is more intense and more of a classic blend.  Whereas Paris has a whiff of the eighties about it  (no bad thing, I love Paris and I love the eighties) I find that Fragonard scents remind me of thrice milled soap- the kind you find in hotel bathrooms in high end establishments.

There is a timelessness about Emilie.  It has the roses and violets, but it also has my favourite ingredient- Lily of The Valley, which makes Emilie the choice of a modern girl with taste, but could just have easily been found on a dressing table in the 1930s.

Today and yesterday I have been wearing the parfum and boy, does it last!  After ten hours of wear I got back home and thought I had just sprayed something on my sleeve ( I usually have) but no, it was just Emilie enjoying a little renaissance after I had come in from the rain- it was almost self renewing.

So if you like your roses, your lily of the valley, the smell of expensive pure white soap, a hint of violets and a whisper of heat from an ambery basenote, then you have a treat in store, just left of the Food Hall if you’re local to me.

The box I am using is this one:

fragmini

 

but you can buy full bottles of Emilie from Marks and Spencer for just  £26 for 100m. Just look at that packaging- I’ll take ten!

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Sticky Leather Sky Giveaway Winner!

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I can’t remember when I have last felt so moved by a bottle of perfume.  I asked you to name your favourite poem to win a bottle of Pell Wall Sticky Leather Sky and I ended up being transported to the full gamut of emotions by the entries I have been sent.   It was impossible to pick a favourite so I did it the diplomatic way and asked two small children to put the names in a Lego Box.  The winner is Patsi who left  a beautiful poem in the comments section of the blog post.  The poem is too beautiful not to share, so here it is, reproduced in full.  The Poem is called To His Lost Lover by Simon Armitage.

To His Lost Lover

Now they are no longer
any trouble to each other

he can turn things over, get down to that list
of things that never happened, all of the lost

unfinishable business.
For instance… for instance,

how he never clipped and kept her hair, or drew a hairbrush
through that style of hers, and never knew how not to blush

at the fall of her name in close company.
How they never slept like buried cutlery –

two spoons or forks cupped perfectly together,
or made the most of some heavy weather –

walked out into hard rain under sheet lightning,
or did the gears while the other was driving.

How he never raised his fingertips
to stop the segments of her lips

from breaking the news,
or tasted the fruit

or picked for himself the pear of her heart,
or lifted her hand to where his own heart

was a small, dark, terrified bird
in her grip. Where it hurt.

Or said the right thing,
or put it in writing.

And never fled the black mile back to his house
before midnight, or coaxed another button of her blouse,

then another,
or knew her

favourite colour,
her taste, her flavour,

and never ran a bath or held a towel for her,
or soft-soaped her, or whipped her hair

into an ice-cream cornet or a beehive
of lather, or acted out of turn, or misbehaved

when he might have, or worked a comb
where no comb had been, or walked back home

through a black mile hugging a punctured heart,
where it hurt, where it hurt, or helped her hand

to his butterfly heart
in its two blue halves.

And never almost cried,
and never once described

an attack of the heart,
or under a silk shirt

nursed in his hand her breast,
her left, like a tear of flesh

wept by the heart,
where it hurts,

or brushed with his thumb the nut of her nipple,
or drank intoxicating liquors from her navel.

Or christened the Pole Star in her name,
or shielded the mask of her face like a flame,

a pilot light,
or stayed the night,

or steered her back to that house of his,
or said “Don’t ask me how it is

I like you.
I just might do.”

How he never figured out a fireproof plan,
or unravelled her hand, as if her hand

were a solid ball
of silver foil

and discovered a lifeline hiding inside it,
and measured the trace of his own alongside it.

But said some things and never meant them –
sweet nothings anybody could have mentioned.

And left unsaid some things he should have spoken,
about the heart, where it hurt exactly, and how often.

©Simon Armitage

 

Pell Wall Perfumes Sticky Leather Sky: Fifty Shades of Tan

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I love perfumes with a good back story and the story behind the creation of Pell Wall Sticky Leather Sky is so whimsical I simply had to share it with you.

I have often thought that perfume and poetry have much in common:  both are open to interpretation.  For example, a poem I love may not move you at all, and my revulsion towards, say, Theirry Mugler Womanity may not be shared by its fans, but nobody is wrong.  Both perfume and poetry are open to personal response, as is the Charles Ives concert  described in the poem.

Sticky Leather Sky was inspired by a poem by Claire Trévian, which was written for a poetry festival called Penning Poems, the brainchild of Odette Toilette and Claire herself.  This artistic collaboration set a chain reaction in place which resulted in a fragrance : Sticky Leather Sky. The poem is beautiful and reading it whilst wearing Sticky Leather Sky puts the experience into a new dimension (my son would call it 4D).

I have reproduced Claire’s poem in full here, because it is too beautiful to cut short.

 

Listening to Charles Ives
The street vainly imitates a theatre,
dropped pennies and reflectors footlight my walk
the rumble of a crowd gathers and storms.

Beats rain down and hide in the gutter,
rivulets form around the clutter
of the pavement’s percussion orchestra.

Hush.

Sticky leather sky.

The air vibrates still
through drum-buildings.

I think of us listening to Charles Ives.
You heard cacophony, I heard the silence
after the tempest, when the bells

had ceased, but their ripples
reached to our seats like
the promise of a tomorrow.

©Claire Trévien

 

Now you can see where the scent got its name, but what does it smell like?

My first impression was that of walking through a market (think Camden- raw and noisy) where the belt stall gives off an almost nutty, animalic waft as you walk past.  Wait a bit longer and it is the smell of the hint of chest hair belonging to a man who has just arrived on a motorbike.

yjstorecom

www.yjstore.com

In amongst all this is a bit of vetiver and bergamot to give the opening that manly, just-got-out-of-the-shower feeling ( I can definitely smell Palmolive Soap!).  However, this is equally good on women and hangs around a lot longer than a bad boyfriend. In fact, I couldn’t help thinking it ties in rather nicely with the current Fifty Shades of Grey Meme.  Sticky Leather Sky may well bring out the animal in you.  This is dirty leather, not sensible shoes.

sticky leather sky

Pell Wall Perfumes

 

Giveaway news!

I have one boxed 30ml bottle of Sticky Leather Sky to give away.  Simply tell me the name of a poem you like.  It can be anything at all from Spike Milligan (who is one of my favourites) to Shakespeare, from John Donne to Wendy Cope.  I will pick a name randomly on Tuesday 24th February so do get your answers in by midnight that day if you can.  Please note that due to posting regs, the giveaway is UK only.

 Stockists:  The Pell Wall perfumes website sells bottles of Sticky Leather Sky and two types of great sample packs too if you want to try before you buy.   My bottle was provided by Pell Wall perfumes, for which, many thanks.

 

Its Sunshine and Pancake Day! Sunshine and Pancakes by 4160 Tuesdays

fragrantica

fragrantica

 

Sarah McCartney is a  blogger’s dream.  When searching for a perfume to match the season, there could be only one choice for today and it’s particularly appropriate because what I seek right now is optimism and this has it in spades.

Sunshine and Pancakes opens with bright, morning fresh oranges and lemons ( say the bells of St Clements). The scent is clean, bright and prickly- you could say astringent- which in my book, is always a good thing.  The clever thing about this, and indeed, about so many 4160 scents, is the metamorphosis that takes place once your skin warms it up.

www.thestudentroom.co.uk

www.thestudentroom.co.uk

You start with citrus, which then becomes the actual smell of pancakes.  Sarah comfortably sidesteps the Lemsip trap and includes both honey and lemon in the mix without getting remotely medicinal.  This gentle gourmand mash up blends in seamlessly as the honey/vanilla “Who’s-cooking-pancakes- smell segues into the base notes.  The baseneotes are woody with sandalwood and prickly Benzoin but still has a hint of the morning about it, like the ground drying under the sun after a downpour.  There is a warm earthiness emerging, just as the day dawns and the sun comes out.

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All this in one bottle.  Pretty impressive.  Sunshine and Pancakes makes me want to eat outside and listen to birdsong.

One important note:  when talking pancakes, we are talking the thin British pancakes with crunchy sugar and a hint of lemon, not the doughy, delicious maple syrup USA pancakes that are to die for with some wafer thin crispy bacon.  *cleans dribble off keyboard*.

 Stockists:  You can buy 4160 Tuesdays from the website,   as well as in person from 4160 HQ ( let them know first to check they’re about),  or from Burgin’s in York, and from Rouiller White.  In the USA and Canada you can buy a selection of 4160 Tuesdays scents from Indiescents, LuckyScent and excitingly- the Virgin Atlantic website to buy before you fly.

Happy Valentine’s Day: This is My Special Treat

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Happy Valentine’s Day even if you’re not celebrating it.  Love doesn’t have to be romantic so I hope that you, dear reader, have someone to love and to love you in return today. Love is all you need. The Beatles were right.

Rather than focus on one fragrance today, I wanted to share my salacious wonderment at the arrival of another Discovery Box from the Perfume Society.

When I was younger, my late and much missed grandmother Nanna T, used to give me wonderful Christmas presents that consisted of a wicker basket with a hand sewn floral lining, which was then filled with goodies.  This is the 1980s we are talking about so I would get for example,:  some bath pearls (remember them?), a sachet of Shaders and Toners (remember them too?), bath cubes (ditto!), and all manner of tiny treats.  I loved this gift above all others and have never forgotten it.

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Fast forward to 2015 and I got  a similar thrill at opening my Love Scents Discovery Box from The Perfume Society. and here’s what was in it:

  1.  A tube of Love Heart sweets,
  2. A spray sample of L’Amour Lalique
  3. A spray sample of Carven L’Eau de Toilette
  4. A spray sample of Dear Rose I Love My Man
  5. A spray sample of Van Cleef and Arpels Rose Velours No 17785QY
  6. A 4ml splash bottle of 4160 Tuesdays The Sexiest Scent on the Planet Ever (IMHO)
  7. A spray sample of Signorina Eleganza by Salvatore Ferragamo
  8. A spray sample of Artemisia by Penhaligons
  9. A 4ml splash bottle of Valentino Uomo
  10. A spray sample of Roads Cloud 9 Parfum
  11. A boxed splash bottle of L’Occitane Arlestenne Eau de toilette.
  12. A 10ml tube of L’Occitane Roses et Reines hand cream
  13. A spray sample of Juliette Has a Gun Lady Vengeance

There is a rose theme running throughout and I am particularly blown away by the high calibre of the samples included. Instead of focussing on one fragrance today,  I shall be working my way through this delightful box bit by bit, and hotly anticipating the next one.  It’s like getting a little birthday present, and speaking of which, these make perfect perfume-y gifts.

Stockists

The Perfume Society Discovery Boxes cost £15 from the website. Annual subscription is £25 a year and includes the e-zine Scented Letter, access to meet ups and special perfume events throughout the country, and first dibs on Discovery Boxes, often at a discounted price for members.

Juliette Has A Gun Lady Vengeance: Roses in Yer Face

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 Lady Vengeance  from Juliette Has A Gun immediately makes you feel all feisty just by reading the name, so I cannot use delicate watercolour analogies her, nor would I, since sillage and longevity is nuclear.  No shrinking violets here.

Lady Vengeance was included in the utterly incredible Perfume Society Love Scents Discovery Box (more of which anon) which this month contains a selection of fragrances themed around The Mighty Rose. Very apt with February 14th looming ahead.

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On first spray, Lady Vengeance bashes you about the face with a bunch of roses like a jealous lover. This Bulgarian rose has a pepperiness about it, and a dried rose petal waft, like pot pourri, which runs parallel to the fresh, soft dewy rose petals which are also there.  I also found a hint of nuttiness in it, which for a brief moment brought to mind Tauer PHI Rose de Kandahar.

The middle phase seems to pay homage to Narciso Rodriguez For Her for about half an hour before the rose rallies back wearing several different faces and carrying a hint of spice and amber.  This may well be the effect of the Ambroxan and the ISO E super rather than the inclusion of any spice or actual nuts and cloves.

ISO E super is a synthetic note used widely in modern perfume and it has the effect of making a scent “fuzzy” round the edges with an ambery/woody hint.  It is used very widely in men’s fragrances but, as I found here, when used with the right lightness of hand, it can give depth and a classy finish to a hardcore rose/patchouli/vanilla mélange like Lady Vengeance.

(There is an excellent article on Fragrantica about ISO E Super which was my source).

Juliette Has Gun Lady Vengeance has loud sillage and atomic lasting power.  Roses and Patchouli mean business and they showed up on a motorbike.  It is almost too much for a morning, but I wore it to the 9.15a.m. PTA meeting anyway.  Like me, it becomes more ladylike once the morning is over with.

Stockists:  You can buy Juliette Has a Gun from the website in France, or in the UK from Selfridges and Escentual.  In the USA you can get it from Amazon.com and in Canada from Amazon.ca.

4160 Tuesdays Ealing Green

fragrantica

fragrantica

 

Sometimes when I want to really get a feel for a fragrance, I decant a few drops on a scarf which I drape over my bedroom door.  If I like it every time I go into my bedroom (usually with a pile of laundry… we’re not that sort of blog), then I know I properly, really truly like it.

So it was with 4160 Tuesdays Ealing Green.  I like green scents, always have, so if its got Green in the title, I’ll be interested.

Ealing Green, like all 4160 Tuesday scents has a lovely back-story which I will duplicate in full from the 4160 Tuesday website.

 “I’d long wanted to make a scent for Ealing, my adopted home. I met my husband at Ealing Studios on Ealing Green, at a wedding. Then I was invited to make a midsummer scent for a charity evening, using plants and flowers named in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, so I combined the two ideas and created the scent of Ealing Green on a summer evening, but in the early 17th Century.” Sarah McCartney.

You can smell the grass and the thyme notes that are listed and the scent reminds me of maypoles and monks and madrigals.  This is a very clean scent and I was surprised there was no mint there, but that could have been my mind playing tricks on me with the  zingy herbal grass and thyme.  This takes refreshing to another level altogether, although it stops short of being astringent.  I also love the  quite distinct whiff of violets, which I adore in fragrance.  The whole shebang ends up in a happy mélange of  my beloved oakmoss, some roses and the very faintest hint of earth like  damp knees from a  picnic.

Ealing Green lasts around six to seven hours on me and despite it being a deliciously pure and summery scent, it also goes very well on ice cold skin in modern day ice cold Wales.  It is now all over my favourite scarf and the scent has lasted days on fabric. Ealing Green has done many a school run in the past few days, and has made these chilly mornings a little more bearable.

Stockists

Ealing Green is very reasonably priced, starting at £6 for a 4ml splash bottle, and rising to £10 for a handbag sized 7ml bottle, £40 for 30ml, £60 for 50ml, and £90 for 100ml. When you think how much scent sells for on the High Street ( and its often same-old-same-old) , I regard this as a bargain.

You can buy 4160 Tuesdays from the website,   as well as in person from 4160 HQ ( let them know first to check they’re about),  or from Burgin’s in York, and from Rouiller White.  In the USA and Canada you can buy a selection of 4160 Tuesdays scents from Indiescents, LuckyScent and excitingly- the Virgin Atlantic website to buy before you fly.

www.pgwodehousesociety.org.uk

www.pgwodehousesociety.org.uk

Giveaway winner!

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The winner of the Library of Fragrance giveaway is Trudie Lavender.  Congratulation Trudie!  Thank you to everyone who took part.  I loved reading all your answers: it gave me a little peek into lots of different lives and what you’re all smelling.  We had cats and slow cookers and cardoman and dogs and coffee and basil and lemon household cleaner cloths and Tiger Balm.   Don’t be sad if you didn’t win this time.  I have several more imminent give aways up my sleeve!

Oh- and a very big thank you to the lovely team at Library of Fragrance who sent me the bottles in the first place.  They are a friendly bunch who are passionate about the range!  I bet their office smells amazing…