Anya’s Garden: Bringing an Ancient Cologne Back to Life

 Anya McCoy has been making perfume since 1991, using only natural ingredients.  She is not only a perfumer, but also teaches her art as well as having her own line of scent.  She is also President of the Natural Perfumer’s Guild and a fellow of the American Society of Perfumers.  Based in sunny Miami, which feels like South Wales today I should imagine (we’re having a heatwave and we can’t cope!) Anya kindly sent me some samples and told me her story.


Anya McCoy

Anya McCoy

Anya was seminal in recently helping to bring a Philadelphia cologne recipe back to life.  This cologne recipe ( pictured top)  is 155 years old, so you can imagine the excitement of finally sniffing it after all these years, like unearthing a long lost photograph or tasting an ancient cognac.

Following the recipe exactly as it was written, and using only natural ingredients (and thus adding yet more authenticity), Anya brought the Randolph Parry 1859 cologne back to life and in doing so has produced an elegant heritage cologne that interestingly, does not smell out of place in the Twenty First century.


It was a knotty puzzle that had to be unravelled.  Anya worked with historical fragrance expert Andrine Olsen, who spotted and corrected a small error which then unravelled the formula.  From the recipe we can see Lemon, Bergamot, Rosemary, Cloves, Neroli, Musk and of course, alcohol.

The Randolph Parry 1859 cologne is full of herbs and citrus and smells fantastically refreshing and clean.  It seems especially apt that I am testing this on what is predicted to be the hottest day of the year in Wales.  There is something almost sherbet-y about his- it has an effervescence that won me over.  Imagine if someone poured a gin and tonic onto your skin and the sharp lemony bubbles popped agreeably on your skin- that’s what this smells like.  This could easily blend in with the best of the traditional colognes available today and if it was British it would be at home in Penhaligons for sure.

You can find out more on Anya’s blog here.

Anya also kindly sent me three other samples which I will tell you about.  The samples are small but they are pure perfume and can be purchased from her website.


Ylang Ylang:

It was so interesting to finally smell a tincture of Ylang.  I knew it was a flower with a hint of banana, but until I smelled this I didn’t realise that it has a slightly dirty tang to it, like light but unprocessed patchouli oil.  Almost, but not quite indolic, Ylang Ylang in this form has more in common with heavy duty Jasmine than bananas! In fact, once it settles, it is a little like a patchouli/white flower mash up without the creaminess. Fabulous.


Described as ” An exploration of the most seductive aspects of the narcotic tuberose flower, with skin and musky notes bringing the perfume warm, soft nuances.” Enticing certainly packs a punch.  This musky floral runs deep, and has a richness that almost borders on de trop, but doesn’t quite overstep the mark.  If you like your tuberose rich and “narcotic” rather than perfume-counter sanitized, you are going to love Enticing.  Not for the fainthearted, but unforgettable for those who dare.


Sharper and more cologne-y in style than Enticing, Light contains grapefruit, citrus, neroli, frankincense and juniper berry, making this simultaneously light and spicy. It’s a perfect summer cologne that make me want to eat it, but I don’t know why.  NB Please don’t lick your arm when wearing this. The grapefruit is dominant, but not enough to drown out anything else.  The juniper berry again reminds me of a refreshing gin and tonic ( I’m going to have to pour myself one at some point today- the universe is telling me so).

Stockists: To buy or try any of Anya’s Garden scents, check out the website here. There is a  good sample service if you don’t want to blind buy.

Many thanks to Anya for thinking of me and sending me these lovely samples.


Papillon Perfumery Salome: Beauty Has a Dark Side


Papillon Perfumery Salome is the latest release from Papillon, with this being the fourth release from Nose Liz Moores.  Liz has the awe inspiring accolade of having had all three of her first ever perfumes nominated for a FiFi.  That’s an incredible achievement.

So expectations are high for any future releases and Liz must be feeling “Difficult Second Album Syndrome”, but she has nothing to fear.

Salome by Gaston Bussiere

Salome is both beautiful and disturbing, like its namesake.  This is a daring toe in the water.  Salome was never going to be mainstream. If we want mainstream, we know where we can get it.  This is the special “If you like that, I’ve got something round the back you might appreciate” sort of perfume.  It has a dark side.

Here are the notes: Jasmine, Carnation, Turkish rose, Africa stone, Patchouli, Bitter orange, Oakmoss, Styrax, Bergamot, Orange blossom.

Here’s what I got from it:  This is like opening a bottle of perfume that hasn’t been opened since the 1940s.  Its smells vintage already.  It has that dark smoky richness that makes you sigh with pleasure. There is jasmine and orange blossom in among some dried leathery tobacco- Think Caron Tabac Blond.  Then the whiff of sex comes out like an animalic siren call.  A whiff of styrax brings to mind that jolt that Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles gives you, but the blending is so seamless that you can’t tell where one phase starts and another ends.  Salome is from another decade.  It makes me think of a time when le Smoking was de rigeur, when women wore aged fur stoles and when perfumes lasted days on a dirty neck where soap never reached. Anais Nin would have worn it.

Salome is rich, glorious, vintage, sexy and dark. It reminded me of vintage Ivoire de Balmain, or Bourdon’s Courtesan: with a hint of crotch, and a lot of crumpled sheets on a double bed.  It’s the walk of shame at dawn wearing yesterday’s knickers and carrying your shoes in your hand.

I loved it.

Liz, you’ve done it again.

Stockists:  About to launch any minute, Salome will be available from the Papillon website, which also does a good sample service (honestly they’re all amazing).  And since Papillon is already stocked at Les Senteurs, I imagine Salome will be as well.

Papillon Perfumery

Papillon Perfumery

Library of Fragrance, Peony, Iris, Wet Garden


Library of Fragrance gives you the chance to be your own bespoke Perfume Mixer Upper and with this trio of summer florals, I found myself layering and mixing and matching until I found just the combination that suited me.

I must confess, in the interest of full disclosure, that I was sent a selection of bottles free from Library of Fragrance to see what I thought.  This is very kind and always very deeply appreciated. Opinions are my own, however.

So here’s my opinion on Library of Fragrance Iris, Peony and Wet Garden, separately and together.


Library of Fragrance Iris

Iris and I have a complicated relationship.  It was the name of my beloved late grandmother, who was deeply loved by all who knew her, and I so wanted to love her namesake fragrance.  But I didn’t.  Then, after a complicated route that went from carroty, to violetty via stifling and powdery, I ended up falling hard for Prada Infusion D’Iris and ended up putting it at the top of my Christmas list. Finally Iris and I were friends.

Library of Fragrance Iris has the best of Iris:  no carrots, no stifling open-a-window-stuffiness and all of the translucent violetty florals. Giving it a bottle of its own, undiluted with anything else is also a great way to explore single note fragrance. Library of Fragrance Iris is perfect with the next two fragrances because it tones them down to give you a smoother, calmer summer garden floral.




Puzzlewood, Gloucs. Photo my own



Library of Fragrance Wet Garden

I was expecting this to smell more earthy and rainy.  With Library of Fragrance they don’t just give you the pretty stuff, you get the whole shebang, so I was half expecting a whiff of soil and rusty watering cans.  In fact this is more evocative of the scent when walking through the bedding plant section of a Garden Centre in the rain.  This is the smell of buds, a little moss, wet petals, but mostly, and quite dominantly in my opinion, it is the smell of a hyacinth.  The hyacinth is one of my favourite scents and it doesn’t always translate into perfume, but sometimes you get lucky. In this case, I did get lucky, but then it got a little sharp after a while.  No matter, I had my trusty bottle of Library of Fragrance Iris which toned it back down again.  Once I’d done this, the violets that were barely a whisper in Wet Garden stood out more prominently and I ended up with the happy scent of a springtime bouquet.

Library of Fragrance Peony

The Peony is one of the prettiest and most feminine notes I know, often used for girly effect and a note that is very seldom used in the crossover between masculine and feminine. However, in this case, I have to say it  was the most complex of the three, being a bit more high pitched than I was expecting, and resembling first a spicy, soapy rose, then a sour plum.  The plum thing was a bit of a funny moment.  The smell was so familiar but I couldn’t put my finger on it.  I walked away from my blog and had a think.  Then I tried Mary Greenwell Plum on one hand and Cacharel LouLou on the other.  Yes, it did indeed resemble plum, more in fact than peony.  No bad thing, I’m just telling you what I smelled. If it was a colour it would smell purple.

However, here comes our friend  Iris to calm down the Peony like a sober friend on a hen night.  Together, they work better than they do alone.




If you buy Library of Fragrance Wet Garden, Peony and Iris you get a bouquet you can mix and match.  Iris is great alone or with friends.  Peony needs a chaperone to really shine, and Wet Garden is full of hope and optimism.  Like a trio of sisters, these are cut from similar cloth but different enough to blend or stand alone. This is your English Country Garden fragrance wardrobe kit.

Have fun experimenting and coming up with your own combinations. I liked all three at the same time for a real blast of summer garden.

Library of Fragrance scents cost £15 each in Boots, or two for £25.   There is a large range in Boots and an even larger range on the Library of Fragrance website.  Several, including Iris, cost only £9.99 online) .

Diesel Loverdose Red Kiss: Don’t Kiss Me!



I tried Diesel Loverdose Red Kiss today in my local Perfume Shop and was soon wishing I hadn’t.  I took a thorough squirting on arm and sleeve just in case it was in danger of fading before I got home.  It wasn’t.  It’s still there seven hours later, refusing to leave.

The funny thing is, my interpretation of this is completely different from its description.  Described as a Gourmand Floriental (which I think is kind of a cop out covering three crowd pleasing categories) I found Diesel Loverdose Red Kiss to be a sickly, cloying, sticky, overly sweet candy cane mess that me feel hot and sticky and bothered as the day went on.

According to trusty Fragrantica however, Loverdose Red Kiss is replete with nuts, apples, blackcurrant , bergamot and sugar, with an ambery finish.


Photo by

Unfortunately I got sugar, sweets, chews, lollies, candy floss and sticky strawberry ice cream sauce. Diesel Loverdose Red Kiss made me want to brush my teeth and wash it off my arm.

You may like it.  You may get the tantalising promise of bergamot and blackcurrant, but I didn’t. Oh wait!  A whiff of toffee apple lollies  there. And a synthetic vanilla finish.

To get a good idea of my view on this, eat 24 strawberry lollies  and wash them down with cherryade and custard.

If you’ve tried it, do share your view with me. Perfume is like poetry- there’s no right or wrong interpretation.

Stockists:  Diesel Loverdose Red Kiss is available from The Perfume Shop and Amazon UK to name but a few.

The Perfume Shop

Library of Fragrance Play Doh: Take it Seriously



Library of Fragrance isn’t just out to make you smell good, they’re out to evoke too.  They evoke childhood memories, gardens in the rain, Christmas, beach holidays…you name it, it’s probably there.

Library of Fragrance Play Doh plays a joker card but in fact it deserves to be taken seriously.  Within that evocative Play Doh aroma is actually a thick, rich-as-custard vanilla that immediately made me think of Dior Hypnotic Poison.  Yes- within that adorable pumpkin bottle from Dior is a gourmand marzipan/vanilla that I could not stop sniffing the second I sprayed it ( see my previous review on this blog) . I don’t even like gourmands as a rule, but I adored Hypnotic Poison.  Utterly addictive, and sadly to be retired to the discontinued pile, Dior Hypnotic Poison fans should dry their tears and seriously consider Library of Fragrance Play Doh as a sub.


On top of this affectionate comparison comes another.  Back in the 1990s when I was living in London, I interrupted my twenty year marriage to Chanel Cristalle and had a quick fling with The Body Shop Vanilla Oil.  So rich it was boozy- I often received such remarks as “Have you been baking?” and “Mmm, you smell LOVELY”. Once again, Library of Fragrance Play Doh brings back a memory of that thickly golden scent that they haven’t quite captured these days at The Body Shop.



So wear your Play Doh with pride. You will get misty-eyed people of a certain age entranced by your scent, or entering a bakery and buying a vanilla crown without knowing why. As for me-I’m going to wear it because it’s marzipan without calories.

 Stockists:  You can buy Library of Fragrance Play Doh online from Library of Fragrance. The price is £15 for one bottle or £25 for any two bottles from the huge range.

lofplay doh

Annick Goutal L’Ile au Thé: A Blast of Fresh Air




Annick Goutal L’Ile au Thé is quite possibly one of the most refreshing scents I have ever tried, and I have tried A LOT.  Inspired by a Southern Korean volcanic island, this green tea delight does not disappoint.

L’Ile au Thé opens with a blast of zingy mandarin: pith, pulp and zest. That ought to wake you faster than an Espresso.  Then comes the green tea, almost at the same time, and this green refreshing note never leaves. (It is there in the top notes, there in the heart and there in the base). Just as you are easing into the day,  a middle note of feathery light apricot blossom ( osmanthus) pops up with just a enough fruit to hint at a whisper of sweetness without dousing it in syrup.  The final, and long lasting base note is one of tangy citrussy green tea softened with musk around the edges.

This is equally good on a man or a woman and has a real strength about it that will make everyone think you have just stepped out of the world’s most invigorating shower.  L’Ile au Thé is the antidote to and nemesis of humidty.  Beautiful!


Annick Goutal L’Ile au Thé is available from Escentual, Selfridges or Annick Goutal.  My sample is from the fabulous Hidden Treasures Discovery Box from the Perfume Society.

Annick Goutal

Annick Goutal

Chanel Chance Eau Vive EDP

chance   Chanel Chance Eau Vive is the latest Chance flanker from Chanel. Launched just this week, I was eager to try it and entered my local Perfume Shop to ask for a squirt. A squirt was fine , but when I asked for a sample, the assistant looked at me like I owed her money. What’s going on with the sample thing these days? I’m even a card carrying Perfume Shop Club Points Scheme member, but it was an unhesitating, unapologetic No. Nevertheless, I had several sprays on skin and coat sleeve and it was pleasant enough. Actually I was impressed by longevity since I can still smell traces of this from this morning, albeit a masculine vetiver-y trace.

Chanel Chance Eau Vive opens with quiet fanfare awash with robust grapefruit notes that make this a perfect fresh pick me up for summer. It reminded me very much of Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau So Fresh, with very little difference between the two. I should imagine that if you love one you love the other. In the middle, some light and airy florals emerge that were fairly non-descript and mingled in summery fashion with citrussy notes. The drydown was a bit cucumber/melon on me, but at the end of the day there was, as I mentioned, a trace of vetiver.

Created by the great Olivier Polge, this will be greeted warmly by fans of light, summery feminine scents, and it certainly holds it own. Personally I prefer my fragrances to have bit more oomph, but this does the job it was meant to and would make a great wedding guest scent. Never overpowering, always pretty and unobtrusive: this is a bridesmaid scent that would let the bride shine.

 Stockists Chanel Chance Eau Vive is widely available.  You could try, Boots, or Harrods. It’s also availblae on Amazon UK . It doesn’t appear to be available in the states yet but I imagine it’ll be along in a minute.

Jean Patou: Joy Forever

Jean Patou

Jean Patou


Sometimes when a classic gets a flanker, I feel apprehensive. Let’s face it, sometimes flankers are bad news. There are of course, marvellous exceptions such as Chanel No 5 Eau Premier and Chanel Cristalle Eau Vert, but on the other hand you have the 27 odd flankers to Givenchy Irresistible which frankly, puts me right off the original. Let’s not even speak of the new incarnation of Miss Dior- once a mossy chypre, now a strawberry floral.

I can assure you dear reader, that you may have no such fears from Joy Forever. As so many scents modernise their classic nuances for the modern and youthful palate (often excluding we over 40s!), Joy Forever manages to be contemporary without selling out. Phew!

So what’s it like? It opens with a flourish of citrussy bergamot and fresh, dewy petals. For about ten minutes the marigold comes out in all its yellow flower, peppery glory and there is a definite resemblance to Chloe Narcisse. Panic not though if you’re not a fan, because when that phase segues into the middle note, you have a full blown, soapy, heady bunch of white flowers. Jasmine is particularly dominant, as is orange flower, and there is an almost, but not quite aldehydic soapiness with an outline of freshening citrus around the edges.

It all blends down seamlessly into a prickly, white musky finish full of sandalwood and patchouli.

joy forever

Joy Forever is almost asking to be a bridal perfume with a name like that, but would be suitable for anyone all year round. It is beautiful quality at a reasonable price. I am seriously tempted to buy a bottle, even though I feel that slight sense of shame when I look at my groaning dressing table. Joy Forever is impossibly feminine and as lovely as sticking your face in a big bouquet of fresh florists flowers.


Joy Forever is widely available: try  Selfridges , Amazon UK, allbeauty (one of the cheapest), John Lewis or Harrods. In the US you can buy it from Neiman Marcus