Urban Reivers- Damn Rebel Bitches (2016): a Fragrance for Strrrong Women

drb bottle

I was recently sent a sample of a new fragrance from Urban Reivers.  This scent goes to number one on my favourite ever perfume names list, knocking I Fancy You and Fat Electrician off the top spot.

Urban Reivers have a small, but very classy shop in Edinburgh, which I shall be sure to visit one day. Edinburgh has a way of clarycalling you back, doesn’t it? The name is a mixture of the old and new. Reivers were violent cattle raiders that ravaged the English Scottish borders between the 14th and 17th centuries. Life was tough and so were they. The “urban” bit has been added as a nod to modern Scotland.

drbDamn Rebel Bitches was cooked up over a cauldron stirred by Sarah McCartney, who you will know from 4160 Tuesdays. You just know that when Sarah rolls her sleeves up, this will be no ordinary smell-alike mass market popsicle. NB The cauldron isn’t literal- her studio is more test tubes and maceration, but you get the picture.

Opening in dramatic fashion with blood orange that sticks around and doesn’t quit, Damn Rebel Bitches falls somewhere between a cologne and a gourmand. I’m not a fan of gourmands, but when they are sober and unsweetened, like this one, I am all nostrils. The orange is joined by clary sage, malt and pink peppercorn. Pink peppercorn is a berry not a spice and has been used in seemingly endless measure lately with the trend for pink fruity florals. Have no fear, pepper dodgers, here it is muted and adds just enough of a fruity pinch to keep the orange on track.

There is a thread of molasses running through here like a mining seam, which I figured must be the malt and hazelnut. Traditional Dundee cake

Now, I know I said this gourmand was unsweetened, but sometimes molasses and very dark brown sugar can start to smell like something else when you sniff them up close. It’s almost as if they smell like dark, dried fruit or fudgey nuts. Such is the case here and the combination of sharp orange and nutty malt made me think of the chewy cherry and fruit topping on a Dundee Cake (I could eat a whole one if left unsupervised). The herby note comes from the clary sage- a beautifully green note that I love, but doesn’t always work for me in fragrance. Here though, it works beautifully and that herby touch adds a stretch of countryside into the pot.drb1

There is a middle phase to Damn Rebel Bitches that smells like red Skittles, but it faded as soon as I named it. It’s as if the playful pink peppercorn starts a fight and loses. The final act is an orangey, herby accord that smells like a posh liqueur. Think Cointreau, but with flashes of greenery and dark wood.

I love how the notes evoke a wildness. There is a feeling that the ingredients were gathered many years ago: hazelnuts, malt, clary sage- all could be found by the wild haired Damn Rebel Bitches whose courage went largely unnoticed because, well, because they were women. These brave women deserve to be remembered and I salute Urban Reivers for doing so.

Stockists

You can buy Damn Rebel Bitches from the Urban Reivers website or from the shop in Edinburgh. My sample was kindly sent to me by Urban Reivers, for which, many thanks. Opinions are my own.

Read More

Cafleurebon writes a wonderful blog post about Damn Rebel Bitches and you can find out more about the eponymous heroines of this fragrance here.

Miller Harris Lumiere Doree (2016)

lumiereLumiere Doree is one of the latest in a  small collection of new launches from IScent favourite: Miller Harris.  I was recently lucky enough to actually visit an actual branch (Covent Garden) on a recent whistle stop away day with my friend Rachael. I couldn’t walk past- I simply had to pop in. It’s Heaven for Fumeheads as it’s right next door to Penhaligon’s. My cup runneth over…

miller harris bag

The giant bag

Now, I wasn’t going to buy anything. We had taken a finite amount of dosh with us, and I had an emergency credit card in my bra. Well, Miller Harris Le Pamplemousse was a third of the usual price and it’s my favourite ever Miller Harris, so that, to me, constituted an emergency. Unfortunately, on that particular day Miller Harris only had gigantic bags, so it was more Pretty Woman than a  tiny package in  a rucksack next to my water bottle. Apologies to all those I stabbed with the sharp corners of my giant bag.  You can see why I needed a cupcake at Sweetheart Cupcakes to get over the trauma.

cupcakeThe lovely assistant in Miller Harris kindly gave me two samples: Lumiere Doree and Vetiver Insolent. Today I am reviewing Lumiere Doree whilst trying not to think about the runny centred Nutella cupcake I ate shortly afterwards.

Ordinarily, I would love Lumiere Doree, but in reality it was not to be. It opens with sharp summery bitter orange and woody petitgrain.  So far, so fresh-out-of-the-shower-and-wide-awake. The middle notes are orange flower and jasmine, which always go together well and this is no exception. However, I could not get on with the base notes. It consists of musk and amber, but for some reason smelled a bit burnt and resinous on me- as if it was on the fringe of being singed. It made the white flowers and orange  kind of butch and borderline savoury. In fact, when I first sniffed it blind, I was convinced there was some sort of oud-lite in there.  In any case, it certainly warms things up and gives it a little golden glow befitting its name.

Lumiere Doree was sadly, not for me, but it might be for you. In the meantime I shall sniff rapturous sprays of Le Pamplemousse and sigh “Ah! Heaven!”

 

Stockists

You can buy Lumiere Doree from Miller Harris. If you’re hesitant about a blind buy, try the smaller 7.5ml set here.

 

Adam Levine For Her: An Unexpected Pleasure

adam levine

“Who is Adam Levine?” I thought, and “Why is this shaped like a microphone?”

Well, being a middle aged Mum who listens to Elaine Paige’s excellent Radio 2 show, I had to educate myself on Adam Levine when I was handed a bottle of Adam Levine For Her. He’s the lead singer of Maroon 5, has fully embraced yoga and is an outspoken supporter of same sex marriage. In other words, he sounds like he’s just my cup of tea. (NB I can only do three yoga things, but I’ve yet to meet a yoga person I didn’t like.)

Now I’m no snob when it comes to celeb scents: I’m never without Jlo Deseo or Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights or SJP Lovely, but I couldn’t help but wonder what Adam Levine was going to bring to the party.

Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine performs on NBC's "Today" show on Friday, June14, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Well, he has very kindly brought not a fruity floral, not a vanilla cup cake concoction, but a really excellent sandalwood fragrance that impressed me no end. The best thing about it is that it costs under ten quid. With this kind of high class white packaging and a bottle that reminded me of not so much a microphone as a sky scraper, I call this an unexpected delight.

Adam Levine For Her opens with  saffron, citrus, marigold and spices. I got green and juicy fig, which always smells like unsweetened sultanas to me. If that sounds like faint praise, it’s not. I love it. Combined with a hint of peppery spice, this was a promising First Act.  The drydown gave me a little fright when I had pencil shavings for about three minutes, (when it should be roses and jasmine) but then it righted itself and the musty, musky sandalwood emerged and stayed put for the next few hours. Oh, and then the jasmine and roses turned up, better late than never.

It’s so refreshing when a celebrity scent takes a different path from the blanket best seller genre of the day. This spicy, woody scent is so perfect for cold weather that I’ll be ordering it by the crate come winter. In fact, it’s also pretty good for Wales in August. It’s cardigan weather. Again.

Longevity could be better. I sampled the Eau de Parfum strength and was expecting a little more from it, but it stayed on my sleeve until the next day and smelled wonderful.

Big thanks to Lisa Wordbird, who loaned me her bottle for review purposes.

Stockists

You can buy Adam Levine For Her from Fragrance Direct for just £9.99 for 100ml or Amazon UK for only £8.28.

Photos: Top photo my own, photo of Adam Levine  from The Huffpost

Avon Cherish The Moment: New for 2016

cherish the moment I have just been handed a tiny phial of Avon Cherish The Moment by my lovely Avon Lady, Jill, and having no patience, I have tried it already.  Cherish The Moment is the first flanker to Avon Cherish, and I suspect more may be along later.

The top notes, according to trusty Fragrantica, are: Champagne, tulip and cassis. Middle notes are white ginger lily, lily of the valley and orchid. Basenotes are cedar, musk and patchouli.

However in the Avon brochure, it lists the notes as Sicilian mandarin, iris noir and dark patchouli.

Here’s what I reckon it smells like:

Cherish the Moment opens with a fruity overture: I can definitely smell mandarin and Ribena-lite cassis.  There are big tulips too. Tulips always smell synthetic to me when found in Avon fragrance, but not always in a bad way. The middle is more floral, but I would have said jasmine, not lily of the valley. The ginger lily is there: there is a  slight tang of spice going on, which leads nicely into the woody base. However, I find that the tulip and orchid kind of take over a bit. I can’t help feeling they could have had the manners to take a back seat and let some of the other stars shine.

cherish-c9-fCherish The Moment reminds me of Avon Incandessence: sadly an Avon I didn’t get on with. However, Fragrantica users have compared it to Bombshell from Victoria’s Secret, so if you can’t find that, then Avon Cherish The Moment might make you happy in the meantime. The price is  a bargain at only £12 for a 50ml EDP, 10ml travel spray and a body lotion (correct at time of going to press in today’s brochure). You could find something similar on the High Street and pay a heck of a lot more. You can’t knock Avon prices.

 

Avon Cherish The Moment is as edible as a big pink jug of cocktails.  Fans of gourmand scents will already find something to like in Cherish and in keeping with that, whether by accident or design, Cherish The Moment also smells good enough to eat. It’s a bit sweet for my palate, but if I was a betting woman, I’d put money on it being a big success.

Stockists

Avon Cherish The Moment is from your Avon rep or from AvonShop UK.

 

 

Mother Nature’s Naughty Daughters, (2016) 4160 Tuesdays

mothr nature bottle

Supra-naturals: The ones we make with the posh naturals combined with most excellent synthetic molecules to make scents of great beauty.- Sarah McCartney

Perfumer Sarah McCartney (I’m going to add the word inexhaustible) has an encyclopaedic knowledge of perfume regulations. If you don’t believe me, put her on Mastermind. This knowledge, which by necessity would resemble several complex  mazes in someone’s head,  led her to concoct a “Supra-Natural” scent.

Why are Mother’s Nature’s Daughters Naughty? Well they’re more rule-bendingly naughty than wicked, but they have a twinkle in their eye.

Many of the off grid, twigs-in-your-hair style fragrance notes involved in Mother Nature’s Naughty Daughters are prohibited or severely regulated in their natural and absolute form by both IFRA and the EU . There’s also the complication that these truly natural ingredients have a lot of variables when they land on skin. Sarah has therefore, rather resourcefully, used natural ingredients to create a synthetic sure-fire replication of these notes without actually breaking any rules. Still with me? Trust me, she knows what she’s doing.

horlicks-malted-drink-light-169784So having gone through all that, whilst exploring the delightful sounding broom absolute for the first time along the way, what does Mother Nature’s Naughty Daughters smell like?  This is a rosy chypre (complete with textbook woody, mossy base), but at the same time, it’s a playful fruity floral that also happens to be a gourmand. In other words, this will please fans of all three genres.

What I have here is an opening that reminded me briefly of calvados: orchard fruits and booze. The fruit is framed with praline which gave me an instant hit of those divine liquid centred boozy liqueurs you get at Christmas (which I could eat endlessly, with my eyes closed going “MMM”).  Blackcurrants come out, which can smell like cat pee, but here they are rich and bitter in a good red wine-y sort of way. There is a syrupy note that bridges the top phase to the middle, although nothing is as prescriptive as that here. pimmsRoses pop out, but with brown sugar frosting their petals. Is that the broom I can smell? It is reportedly a nutty, woody, hay-like note and that’s certainly there, along with a waft of warm Horlicks (that’ll be the malt).

So far this has given us a little tour covering most of an English Country Garden. So where does the base leave us? On some damp aromatic moss, on a cedar bench after the rain, with a glassful of sticky Pimms and pear pips. Which is not just fine by me, but wholeheartedly agreeable. If birdsong could be bottled, that would be in here too.

Stockists

Mother Nature’s Naughty Daughters is available from the 4160 Tuesdays website.

Made with this kind of broom before it becomes a broom.

Made with this kind of broom before it becomes a broom.

Photo credits: Top photo from www.4160Tuesdays.com , Horlicks photo from www.caloriecount.com, Pimms photo from www.christinascucina.com and broom photo from www.thingsthatgoboo.com.

E Coudray Givrine: I’m being Lady Samantha

givrine

I’m attempting to be ladylike today. Wearing Givrine makes me want to talk like Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter and wear a tight skirt suit and court shoes. It might well have that effect on you too. E Coudray Givrine was created in 1950 and to me, at least, embodies all that was elegant about the decade.

Packaged up in a bottle that any dressing table would gratefully accommodate, Givrine is an interesting blend that doesn’t quite sit in any particular genre. It’s a floral, but it’s more than that. It has green touches, but it’s not quite green. It has melon and cucumber, but isn’t a calone. It also has kumquat. Yes, kumquat. I believe this may be a modern addition from Nose Evelyne Boulanger, since Paris wasn’t awash with them in 1950.

What I like about Givrine is its retro feel. There’s Lily of the Valley,  a touch of talc and a bunch of peonies in there somewhere too. There’s enough citrus to stop this being too powdery: namely lime and kumquat, which is like a small tightly concentrated herby-lemon. It smells both clean and traditional: not quite laundry clean, more like kissing a pristine aunt wearing face powder. The base is woody and musk, with light touches of patchouli and sandalwood. Longevity is robust at around seven hours.

rsz_coudray_banner

Givrine has been modified for the modern palate without losing its classic feel. It makes me think of those maribou puffs for talcum powder that ladies used to get every Christmas when I was growing up. Add in some of my beloved lily of the valley and you have a happy Sam in a floaty cloud wishing you a very good evening.

Stockists

E Coudray Givrine is available from Escentual or Cologne and Cotton, from whom I obtained my sample and the second photograph ( Thank you!).

Stella McCartney POP: Review

POP-Refresh_Featured-Image

Stella McCartney does it again. She’s gone and made a perfume to fall in love with. Many a time have I had readers mourning how Stella In Two Peony and Stella L.I.L.Y are hard to get and I predict that the same will happen again should the delightful POP ever be discontinued. However, with its success already snowballing, I don’t see this being a problem.

You may be aware of the achingly cool TV ad that stars none other than Lola Leon doing achingly cool stuff with other cool 2016 IT Girls. Yes, it made me want to frolic in a pink Cadillac with a swimming pool in the back seat, but I can’t. But what I can do is smell like one of the gang. I’m a sucker for a good ad campaign and dreamy music.

pop car

So what’s in the playful pink-topped bottle? There is a green earthiness in the opening of POP which I put down to the tomato leaf and the citrus. This tempting overture blooms briefly and brightly. Once this happens, tuberose and sandalwood tell the other notes “we’ll take it from here, thanks, you can go home now.”

Frankly, the tuberose and woods were so sniff-tacular that I didn’t notice anything else after the drydown. The tuberose gets to stretch its muscles until it’s practically doing handstands just to show off. It blasts you with its full force, like a superheroine. Sometimes when white flowers reach the xenon of their powers, they turn a bit celery, but this goes beyond celery into earthy herbal with a white musk flourish to round things off. Line up some quieter sandalwood alongside and you have a terrific accord that makes tuberose smell richer than Lola’s Mum.  If tuberose has previously put you off, this could be the one that tempts you through the portal.

pop images

This fragrance is aimed at the millennial generation on the cusp of life’s adventure. I applaud the fact that tuberose has been used, rather than the generic fruity floral vanilla monster that won’t go away lately. Then again, this is Stella McCartney we’re talking about. Generic was never on the menu.

Stockists

You can buy full bottles of POP from The Fragrance Shop. (That sounds very 70s to my ear. Us kids used to love a bottle of pop on a hot day!)

OR

You can also get a sample by signing up to the Fragrance Shop Discovery Club scheme. Use my exclusive promo code SCENTDAY at the online checkout when subscribing and the first box is free of charge. Subsequent boxes are £5 inc P&P and include discount vouchers for full bottles of the samples within. To find out what’s in this quarter’s box, have a look at my post here. UK only. Offer ends on 31st August.

The Winner of the Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Box is…

jimmycvhoo2

Congratulations to Vicky ( via Twitter) who will shortly be receiving a Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Box with seven fabulous samples, including Stella McCartney POP, Narciso Rodriguez EDP Poudree and Jimmy Choo Illicit to name but three.

POP-Refresh_Featured-Image

If you didn’t win, remember that you can get your first box free when you sign up to the Fragrance Shop Discovery Club. Boxes cost £5 each, inc P&P and come out quarterly. Each box also contains vouchers for money off full sized bottles of each sample. You can cancel at any time, or even buy a subscription for your friends. Use code SCENTDAY when you check out. Offer expires 31st August 2016.

Poudree

 

Narciso Eau de Parfum Poudree by Narciso Rodriguez

Poudree

I do love a bit of Poudree. I love it in Chanel No 19 Poudree and I love it as a note in any perfume. The powderier, the better. Don’t be put off by the Poudree in the title if you’re not a powder fan- it’s a muted, muffled effect, and not remotely dated.

Narciso EDP Poudree goes on with a flourish of white flowers: namely trusty jasmine and orange flower. There’s no creamy tuberose here, although it would have worked well. There’s a comforting slink of musk running alongside the feminine flora, and this is what resonates most for me. The rose peeks in, but doesn’t get much of a say. The base is comprised of vetiver, tonka, woods, and patchouli. Mainly though, this is a big white floral, with sexy, musky overtones and a woody finish. It makes me feel like a proper grown up, as if I should do my nails and wear high heels before wearing it. Narciso Eau de Parfum Poudree is exceptionally good and probably my favourite from The Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Box from whence it came. (It’s neck and neck with Stella McCartney POP- more of which anon).

You can get a free first Discovery Club Box when you subscribe using my own special discount code SCENTDAY ( exp 31/08/16) . Boxes are £5 each and sent quarterly. I would never have stumbled across this gem if it hadn’t been put under my nose. And that, my friends, is why I like Discovery Boxes.

Stockists

You can buy Narciso Eau de Parfum Poudree from The Fragrance Shop.

The Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Box Giveaway and More!

Poudree

I have exciting news about this quarter’s Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Box. Not only is it a great selection of samples, but I have one to give away AND my very own discount code so that you can get one free when you subscribe. I feel properly famous now. I’ll probably be in Celebrity Big Brother next. (Day One.  Samantha heads straight for the kettle.  The other housemates have labelled her “boring.”)jimmycvhoo2

You may have correctly surmised by now that I am a huge fan of discovery boxes. Many a time have I stumbled across a fragrance that wasn’t even on my radar or my “Must Try” list and many a time has that fragrance ended up being a favourite. Discovery Boxes turn your head and whisper “I know you don’t think you’ll like this one, but have you actually tried it?” It’s also a great way to try new releases and new flankers without traipsing round endless shops wondering what your coat sleeves smell of after trying ten scents in one morning. (Guilty).

POP-Refresh_Featured-Image

This month, the Fragrance Shop sent me a Discovery Club Box to see what I thought. I have been a proud subscriber since the scheme began, so now I have two.  As I often tell my sons “It’s not fair to have two when your brother’s got none.”  I am therefore giving one of them away. The contents are a mix of established classics and new launches. There’s three for him and four for her, but that’s just labels. In my opinion, anyone can wear anything.  There’s also a Fragrance Shop booklet containing discount vouchers on a full bottle of each scent sample in the box. Ill be reviewing some of them shortly so watch this space.

What’s in the Box?

Samples are between 1.5ml and 2ml. Here’s what’s in it:fragshopdiscbox16

1. Stella McCartney POP

2. Narciso Rodriguez Eau de Parfum Poudree

3. Jimmy Choo Illicit

4. Hollister California Wave For Her

5. Hollister California Wave For Him

6. Hugo Boss Boss Bottled Unlimited

7. L’EauD’Issey Pour Homme

Here’s How to WIN

Simply tell me which of the above scents you would most like to try, and you could win the whole Discovery Box. You can comment below on the blog, or on Twitter, or on Facebook. Entries are picked via Randompicker. org and entries closes on July 26th at midnight GMT. Please note that this is a UK only giveaway due to postage regulations.

SummerDisco

There’s MORE! Exclusive Discount Code to my readers

But that’s not all. The lovely team at The Fragrance Shop has very kindly issued me with my very own discount code. If you want to join the Discovery Club, simply sign up online and use discount code SCENTDAY to get your first one free! Boxes are sent quarterly and cost £5.00 including postage.  This offer is available until 31st August. The offer applies to UK residents only due to postal regulations.

All that’s left to be said is Happy Sniffing!