A parcel from Boulder Colorado always lights me up like Christmas (Remember Christmas? It was SO last year!) It usually means that the very talented perfumer, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has sent me some samples to see what I think. Dawn is an independent niche perfumer who works with natural materials to produce a diverse and high quality range of artisan perfumes. Each one is created by Dawn herself in her lab. She answers to only herself and her loyal customers, new and old. I like that in a perfumer.
For the past few days I have been wearing the fabulous DSH Musc al Madina. This is a musk with a supporting cast that really showcases its talents and brings out its very best. As you know, the musk genre is a vast spectrum that starts with clean and tidy laundry musks and reaches the nether regions of dirty animalic musk such as Serge Lutens Koublai Khan, to name the most notorious example that springs to mind.
Musc al Madina danced with gossamer veils for me, dropping each one like a tease. Firstly, my impression was that this is a wonderful 70s style musk that goes with denim flares and flicky hair. It’s how my primary school teachers and my Mum would have smelled when I was 6 in 1976. (Don’t do the maths. I’m young, OK?) This is a fuzzy blanket/soapy musk that reminded me strongly of talcum powder. But then it changed. Then the vetiver came out and this became a masculine woody musk, full of spices (My beloved myrhh) and peppery geranium. All change for phase three when this settles into a Middle Eastern delight. The oud emerges but with soft smoky edges tinged with Ambergris. This is seamlessly blended so the musk stays centre stage whilst the backdrop changes. Longevity is excellent at around eight or nine hours.
Musc al Madina is intriguing and clever and I can think of few people that it wouldn’t suit. The powdery finish gave me the vintage style hit that I always seek,with a hopeful heart. The spicy, soapy, woody finish left my nose firmly glued to my wrist.
Musc al Madina deserves classic status.
You can buy DSH Musc al Medina from the DSH Perfumes website. My sample was kindly supplied by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, for which my warmest thanks. Opinions are my own.
Thank you so much for all your entries in the Big Four giveaway to celeberate four years of this very blog. I had a great response and can now announce the winers. (Drum roll please)
The winner of Elizabeth Taylor Violet Eyes is @StephanTweets from Twitter. I will Tweet him and let him know. Congratulations Stephan!
The winner of Library of Fragrance Nutmeg Ice Cream is Tania. Congratulations Tania!
The winner of Perfumer’s Club “Valerie” is Jill Edwards. Congratualtions Jill!
And finally, the winner of Perfumer’s Club “Victor”is Steven Tuckwell. Congratualtions Steven!
Can all winners please email me their addresses to firstname.lastname@example.org please.
For those who didn’t win, there will be more giveaways throughout the year so watch this space. Here are the details of stockists where you can buy the above fragrances, and none of them will break the bank!
Elizabeth Taylor Violet Eyes is from Fragrance Direct at only £2.99 for 15ml. Library of Fragrance Nutmeg Ice Cream is available from the Library of Fragrance website for just £15. The Perfumer’s Club selection is available from the World Class website. A long lasting 83ml bottle is just £14 and longevity is a guaranteed six hour minimum. In my opinion, Valerie smells very similar to Black Opium, so if that’s your poison, you’ve found a real gem. Victor is all about the grapefruit and the vetiver and was my secret favourite of the four.
Photos: Envelope photo from www.thepeoplesdesignlab.org.uk Elizabeth Taylor photo from makeupalley.com. Valerie photo from www.World-Class.co.uk and others are my own.
I was recently sent a travel size bottle of Dusita Issara by my dear friend Patsi, who I know via this very blog. I knew absolutely nothing about the brand or the perfume, so naturally, I was keen to try it. Reader, I can tell you that I am jolly glad I gave it a chance. Dusita Issara is utterly delicious and has been wafting about my person enticingly all day. In fact, my perfume is the only glamorous element to my day at all. You should see the weather here in Wales. Gloom.
Parfums Dusita is a new perfume house, and the brainchild of Pissara Umavijani, who trained in Paris and launched Parfums Dusita in 2015. Its haute perfumerie, so it won’t be cheap, but I can tell you that it will be good
The most noticable note in Issara is musk. Now, as you know , there are many kinds of musks and when I find one I like, I become instantly loyal to it. There are dirty musks such as Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan ( We didn’t get on) and clean laundry musks such as Philosophy Amazing Grace. I’m somewhere in the middle myself. Luckily, Dusita Issara hits the spot, falling just between the two. Now throw in one of my favourite ever perfume notes , namely oakmoss, and add a dry touch of vetiver and you pretty much have Issara (obviously it’s a lot more complicated than that, but that’s the lasting accord it has on me.)
There is a cosy hit of tonka absolute in here , which gives this a vanilla liqueur finish. This is the stuff that makes you want to never, ever stop foraging for Crème Brulée.
Issara is apparently a fresh fougere, but to me, its primarily a musk, with chypre style touches of greenery and oakmoss and that buttery tonka finish. It’s not sweet, but nor is it bitter. If anything, its a bit like smelling marzipan from the next room. Not too sweet, a hint of almonds, and just tantalising enough to keep your mouth watering. if I had to sum up Issara in three words I would describe it thus: green, almondy musk.
I’d defintely put Dusita Issara on my full bottle wish list. It’s totally unisex, so maybe I’ll put it on my husband’s wish list. He won’t mind. He said in the wedding vows that his stuff was all mine. Or something.
It looks as if Dusita Issara is off to a good start as I can see that this is currently sold out already. Bear with them. It’s worth the wait.
You can buy Dusita Issara from the Dusita website. There is a sample service available too, also from the website.
Acknowledgements: Thank you Patsi for the lovely gift of the mini Dusita atomiser. Photographs are all from the Dusita website, except the sheep, which is from Pinterest.
Dearest readers, it’s time I gave something back to you for your loyalty and readership since January 2013 when the whole thing began as a little WordPress blog with a lilac background. Incidentally, before I go on, I’d like to apologise if your comments have gone unmoderated or unanswered recently. There’s a glitch in the sytem which means I have to approve even my own comments. I’m on top of it now, though.
Back on topic- Yes, as promised, it’s time for the IScentYouADay giveaway, now that we are four- that’s the Royal “we”, in case you were wondering. Four years is giddy stuff!
There are four prizes up for grabs- one for each year of the blog. Due to postal regulations, I’m afraid this is only open to the UK and Northern Ireland.
So here’s what I’m giving away:
Library of Fragrance Nutmeg Ice Cream.
With warm almondy notes, this reminded me of Bakewell Tart, warm and crisp and straight from the oven. It’s making me long for that marzipan covered Christmas Cake my mother made me for Christmas (I’m embarrassed to tell you how quickly it disappeared at my hand). Library of Fragrance Nutmeg Ice Cream smells delicious, and so will you when you wear it. 30ml Cologne.
Perfumer’s Choice- Valerie
This is a big hitter for fans of YSL Black Opium. There’s coffee, white flowers, vanilla, patchouli and OOOMPH. Guaranteed to last a minimum of six hours, a little goes a long way, making this excellent value. You can read my review here. 93ml EDP
Perfumer’s Choice- Victor
This is a gorgeous masculine scent (although I like it for me as well) with notes of grapefruit and vetiver. This smells like something far more expensive and famous but I’m blowed if I can name it! It’ll come to me at 3 a.m, no doubt. Guaranteed to last a minimum of six hours. 93ml EDP
Elizabeth Taylor Violet Eyes
Yes, the very bottle I reviewed the other day. Elizabeth Taylor Violet Eyes has notes of peach and cedar and a hint of jasmine. This bejewelled 15ml bottle has only been tested by me, but is otherwise full and boxed. I wasn’t a massive fan, but that doesn’t mean you won’t like it, or know someone who does. The bottle has a little diamante choker on! So cute.
How to Win
Just tell me which one you’d like to win and I will enter you into the draw. You can tell me in the comments scetion below, on Facebook or on Twitter. Closing date is one week from now- 16th January 2017 at midnight. Good luck!
Many thanks to the Library of Fragrance for the Nutmeg Ice Cream Cologne. Thanks also to World Class Fragrance for Perfumer’s Choice Victor and Valerie.
Dame Elizabeth Taylor was not only an acting legend and world famous beauty, but was one of the first celebrities to launch a fragrance. Not THE first, though, that was Cher. NB More celebrity perfume trivia-Antonio Banderas has 57 fragrances to his name and has had his own perfume house since 1997. That calls for a gratuitous photo.
Back to Violet Eyes . Violet Eyes was launched in 2010, and was inspired by the famous and unusual eye colour of Dame Elizabeth herself. However, I was still expecting violets in the fragrance. After all, the juice, bottle and box are all varying shades of purple. There were no violets for me to sniff, though. In fact there were only two dominant notes in Violet Eyes and they were cedar and white peaches.
As you know, I am no snob when it comes to perfume. A tiny price tag won’t make me turn my nose up ( excuse the pun). However, in this case, I find little to recommend it. It begins as a common or garden fruity floral with loud peaches and a good waft of light jasmine. However, within about ten minutes it becomes synthetic fuzzy woods and even more synthetic fuzzy peach. it pretty much stayed that way on me and didn’t really improve.
Avon has turned my head yet again. In fact, this is the third Avon scent that I have bought that I can’t seem to leave alone. Last Summer I wore Avon Perceive Oasis on more days than anything else, and just before Christmas I bought the wonderfully tuberose-y Avon Rare Platinum. I am now the proud owner of a 50ml bottle of Avon Little Black Dress Eau Fraiche. It cost me a mere six pounds and I smell grrrreat.
The original Avon Little Black Dress is not vastly different to this fresh take on it. You can tell they’re related, even if the original is the richer cousin and the Eau Fraiche is the flaky, day dreamy sister. Where Little Black Dress has plum, heady white flowers, sandalwood and musk, the Eau Fraiche has lighter white flowers, no woods, and light, clean musk.
Little Black Dress Eau Fraiche opens with lemons. It’s a light and pleasant debut and the juxtaposition of lemons over the middle phase of creamy white flowers gives me the faint impression of the billowy pillowy topping of a lemon meringue pie. This however, is thankfully a sugar free version. No sickly sweetness here- all is fresh and pretty. The base notes fade into a musky, clean laundry accord, with a touch of girly peony for a feminine flourish at the end.
This is light enough to please the kind of perfume palate that also appreciates such scents as Marc Jacobs Daisy and Chanel Chance. It’s light, inoffensive and passes the commuter test with flying colours (i.e nobody will try and climb out of the carriage window if you get on the train wearing this). I know it’s January, but this is what I can’t stop spraying right now. Dear diary, today I tried a flanker that I preferred to the original.
You can buy Avon Little Black Dress Eau Fraiche from Amazon UK or from your Avon rep. I can’t find it on the Avon UK website at the moment, but it’s still in brochures. I paid a mere six quid for 50ml of EDP in a pretty box. Hurry up though- I’ve got a feeling it’s occasional scarcity means a future discontinued label.
I thought I’d start the year with a bit of Agent Provocateur for no other reason than I’ve been spraying it on for the past three evenings and pulling sceptical faces. I need to get it out of my system.
I have previously reviewed Agent Provocateur EDP and Agent Provocateur Petale Noir, both of which I liked and would definitely wear ( Also very reasonbaly priced!). However, Agent Provocateur Pure Aphrodisiaque sadly did not deliver anything like the promise that its name suggests. Speaking of suggestive, have you seen the design on the front? I’m clutching my pearls and reaching for the smelling salts.
The fragrance opens agreeably enough. I rather liked the first couple of seconds, but any longer than that and I found this plasticly and sickly. Straight away there’s pear and orchid which gives this a very synthetic feel. I have yet to find a good orchid scent that doesn’t smell plastic and this is no exception. After that it gets sweeter, but not in a pretty-petals way, more in an artificial vanilla sort of way. Note-du-jour jasmine sambac has been switched to “nuclear” and poured in at the end, drowning bystanders. Honestly, when did jasmine sambac become government issue in every new mainstream release?- or am I being a grouch? The basenotes purport to be amber and musk, but were finished off by the jasmine sambac in its quest for World Domination.
The verdict on Agent Provocateur Pure Aphrodisiaque is thus: Guilty of being generic and nothing special. I sentence it to indefinite exile from my dressing table. Stick to the earlier AP stuff because they are unsung heroines and deserve serious love. PS if you like the sound of pear and orchid, you can also try Avon Incandessence, because it’s very similar indeed.
Stockists: Agent Provocateur Pure Aphrodisiaque is available from The Fragrance Shop and you can find a sample in the Discovery Club Box December edition. I recommend them! Fab quarterly boxes at only a fiver each.
Four years ago today I decided to start a blog about something I was passionate about.
In that four years I have learned to love things I didn’t used to like, go off things I once loved, and try things I’ve never tried before. I don’t want to scare you away by using the word “journey” but that’s what it’s been and that’s what it still is. I never give up seeking treasure and thunderbolt moments and even when I get them, I am still thirsty for more.
The best bit has been meeting you lovely readers, albeit via the Internet. I have never met such a lovely or more generous bunch of folks. With your comments, likes, suggestions and shared memories and anecdotes, you have made every moment worthwhile. It’s been a tricky couple of years on the personal front, and I can honestly say that focussing on this has really helped me, even on those days when negative thoughts block out the sunshine.
2016 was a terrible year in many ways. It made my heart feel heavy. There was a marked increase in hate and prejudice, a colossal amount of celebrity deaths and the world in general seemed a darker place. Like many, I feel a need to accentuate the positive. I have been counting my blessings and feeling determined to put kindness back out into the world. Prozac and affirmations help too.
One of the things I am particularly thankful for is the fact that I have made several dear friends via my blog. I truly treasure them. It has always lifted my spirits to read your comments and share your scent stories.
The kindness and generosity of perfume loving people ( fumeheads? Perfumistas?) is legend. They would give you the shirt off their backs and their last drop of anything you “quite fancy trying.” Back in October, I was lucky enough to meet a gang o’perfumistas and ended the day feeling like I had taken part in a giant cuddle. Thanks to Pia Long and Nick Gilbert, we gathered in London and talked and sniffed all the day long, ending with a bellyful of cake and tea. Sheer bliss. People like that make me hopeful. Kindness is rife, rampant and contagious. Long may it ravage us all! Many tiny snowflakes make an avalanche.
Looking back, 2016 was an interesting year scent wise. I got to know several new brands and perfume houses. Perfume trends in general, are, I think, changing. Celebrity sales are down and niche sales are up. The tide is turning and I like it.
What I Am Most Looking forward to in 2017 Liz Moores of Papillon Perfumery has promised a new release sometime in 2017. Rumoured to be a chypre (claps hands and whoops) I am already in the line with a Thermos of tea and sleeping in Liz’s teepee so I can be first in the queue. Despite having made only four perfumes so far, Liz’s fragrances already have the permanence of classics. There are no weak links. Quality is outstanding. By the way, for some reason I always wear Papillon Angelique to christenings. It seems to “go”. New life, optimism, pearls…
In other news the Ruth Mastenbroek promises us a fourth scent in her range. I know little about it so far as it is still in development stage, but rest assured, it will be reviewed right here..
I also plan to head London-wards to drop in on the 4160 Tuesdays studio. I haven’t been since 2014 and I want to see if my new smaller bottom will fit in the swing. I’m hoping Sarah McCartney will let me sniff a few single notes that I sometimes get stuck on, and sell me a load of scent swag. (I’m taking a very large bag).
I am keen to see what Avon comes up with this year. They made two of my most frequently worn scents this year and neither cvost me more than £7. Rare Platinum is a tuberose lover’s dream and Perceive Oasis is peonies and roses on a summer day. I’m also excited to see what else Beaufort London has in store after the show stopping Fathom V. More to come from this audacious house and their wonderfully named “Hell or High Water” range.
And one last thing.. oh yes,. Watchthis space as I put my very shy self into YouTube territory. I’m scared just writing that, but one has to move with the times. Scary!
Check me out! I’ve been experimenting with editing sites. The world is my lobster. Watch this space for disastrous pixellated pics and clumsy graphics until I get the hang of stuff. I’ll soon be running with the pack.
Well, dear readers, it’s time for me to sum up a busy fragranced year and award plaudits to my favourites from 2016. These are purely based on my opinion, which is therefore The Law.
Not all of these are actually 2016 launches: some have just impressed me so much after four years of blogging that I have declared that they deserve accolades. Now, we’d’d best get on before all this power goes to my head and I start doing villain’s laughter.
The IScent Award for Best Longevity
This has to be a three way tie between
4160 Tuesdays Midnight in the Palace Garden
Andy Tauer Carillon Pour Un Ange
Papillon Perfumes Tobacco Rose
I sprayed 4160 Tuesdays Midnight in The Palace Garden into thin air yesterday and 24 hours later it is still there. This is despite eating a roast dinner in the same room and trying on various perfumes throughout the day. It smells like I have been burning very expensive incense among church pews and I love it.
I sprayed two sprays of Tauer Carillon Pour Un Ange on my neck three days ago. Since then I have had three showers and changed my bedding. This morning when I woke up, I could still smell lily of the valley. This is a bottle I purchased in May 2015 and it has barely gone down. I think a genie keeps refilling it.
Made by the delightful Liz Moores in her compound in the New Forest, Papillon Perfumes Tobacco Rose lasted over fifteen hours on me. Rich, woody roses that just stay put. I could bask in it. Two sprays and you’re wrapped in spiced, woody roses until bedtime.
So all three of these niche brands get the Iscent 2016 Award for Longevity. Isn’t it interesting how they are all niche and not mainstream? Just sayin’
Best Summer Perfume – Art de Parfum Gin &Tonic
Gin &Tonic by Art de Parfum stopped me in my tracks with its new take on Gin &Tonic. So much more than just refreshing juniper, I wore this until my sample ran out and had compliments every time. A full bottle is in my sights in 2017. Check out my reviews on the rest of the range here.
Most Original Launch –REEK perfume Damn Rebel Bitches
This has to go to Reek Perfume for Damn Rebel Bitches. It’s a scent that smacks of rebellion. Rustic touches speak of the heritage of the strong women it pays tribute to. With notes of malt, blood orange and herbs, you won’t be surprised to learn that Sarah McCartney was the nose behind the scent Her fingerprints are all over it! (NB That is not her hand in the illustration).
Best Celebrity Launch-Sarah Jessica Parker Stash SJP
This one was easy. It goes to Sarah Jessica Parker Stash SJP. Breaking the mould of the usual celeb fare, SJP goes down the niche-style route of a churchy sandalwood incense unisex scent with not a hint of fruity floral fruitichouli in sight. It’s superb quality and I hope it will set the tone for other innovative celeb launches.
Best Flanker-Chanel No 5 L’Eau
It’s got to be Chanel no 5 L’Eau. Not a diluted version of the original, but a twiddling of the tuning knobs to bring out the lighter and muffle the darker. It’s divine and light and deserves classic status already.Oh, and lightness doesn’t mean a lack of longevity either: this really sticks around. Full marks to the beautifully simple marketing campaign showcasing the lovely Lily-Rose Depp.
Another three-way tie. I simply couldn’t choose! Here are the turkeys, the raspberries, the No-Nos. I don’t want to be mean but I’m going to be anyway. Dior Poison Girl,Estee Lauder Modern Muse Nuit and YSL Mon Paris left me wishing I’d never even taken the lid off. The prices are steep for what they are and the money seems to be going on the marketing rather than the ingredients (what’s new?) Least said soonest mended. Moving on!
Best Winter Fragrance- Le Jardin Retrouvé Sandalwood Sacre
This one has to go to Le Jardin Retrouvé. When I smelled Sandalwood Sacre for the first time, it was like cupid had shot me with an arrow. I simply had to own a bottle and now I do. You can read my review here. Don’t just keep it for winter though. I’m not.
Best Gourmand: Library of Fragrance Chai Tea and Library of Fragrance Tomato
Trust Library of Fragrance to come up with the goods once again. This was a tie between Chai Tea and Tomato. I am sure they won’t mind sharing the award with um…themselves.
Chai Tea combines lightness and spice to bring a new angle on the word “cosy.” if you don’t like your gourmands too sweet ( like me) then Chai Tea will win you over. Meanwhile, back in our very short summer of 2016, (it was a Tuesday afternoon as I recall) Library of Fragrance Tomato took me back to my grandfather’s greenhouse in the 70s faster than a Tardis. As fresh as a new bud and with accents of verbena, Tomato became one of my very favourite warm weather scents.
Best Chypre: DSH Mata Hari
Over the ocean in Boulder Colorado, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz brews and macerates her beautiful perfumes with skill and passion. I was floored by DSH Mata Hari Extrait and in a blind test I would have thought it a priceless original 1920s vintage. It made me want to wear long gloves and arch one eyebrow at people. Glorious! You can read my DSH reviews here.
Best New Scent 2016: Beaufort London Fathom V
Beaufort London Fathom V turned an unassuming day into a vivid montage of sea faring adventure. It transported me to the slimy flanks of a London ship and the distant calls of pirates in one sniff. This stuff is like letting a genie out of a bottle. It’s green times a thousand, with sea notes that you can almost hear. It’s the best sea scent ever, and I can’t see that anything will make me change my mind about that. You can read my love letter to Fathom V here.
Best Natural Fragrance 2016: Mandy Aftel – Aftelier Amber Tapestry
Using only natural ingredients ( and that takes some doing!) Mandy’s instinctive connection to nature transports you to another place, via taste and even flavour. Amber Tapestry unfurls, layer by layer, enveloping the wearer in the kind of warmth that has a uniquely human touch. You can read my review here.
The IScent Fellowship Award: The Perfume Society
I’ve invented a Fellowship Award because The Perfume Society defies other categopries. Not only do they provide white boxes of treasure that even the most jaded perfume palate would salivate at, but they’re a sort of Mothership that we can all turn to when we get a bit lost in the murky depths of fruity-florals-chypres-colognes-my-nose-is-confused-help! Ever had a day like that? I have. The Perfume Society Scented Letter magazine also makes me settle down with a contented sigh and think “I’ve found my tribe” as I read what other perfume obsessives are up to. Fumeheads, you are not alone.