Wearing Your Mum’s Perfume- Drugstore Classics From the 1970s

tweed ad

Are you one of those people who recoils at the idea of smelling like their Mum? I am.  I confess that I very rarely wear the same perfume as my Mum, no matter how much I like it.  In fact I try not to introduce her to perfumes I love for that very reason. No offence Mum, if you’re reading this! ( I bet she’s not) and happy birthday for tomorrow.

However, as a child of the seventies I am having a big  fit of nostalgia lately. So many new releases from the last two years have been berry-heavy, vanilla heavy and have more in common with an ice cream sundae than a cosmetics counter.  It used to be aldehydes and oakmoss and now its all candy floss and Kate Moss (which rhymes if you say it right). When did it become cool to smell like cupcakes instead of eating them? Is it any wonder that I long for the seventies?



Seventies fragrances are generally looked down on by the youth of today and no wonder: modern tastes have moved on.  However, as an ardent fan of Coty L’Aimant and Panache and Avon Timeless I fully embrace those aldehydic affordable scents from my formative years and I reckon retro scents are due for a comeback.

I’ve picked ten of my favourites out below just in case you, like me, fancy a shot of retro fragrant frugality.  I have only selected perfumes you can still buy today and perfumes that are still comparably affordable (not counting eBay where even the discontinued can be had for the right price)).  In fact, the added bonus is that all the fragrances I have listed come in at well under a tenner and some are nearer five pounds.   Is it too early to use the C word?  Of course not.  Here I go then- these would make great affordable Christmas presents. Check these out:



Avon Timeless:An ambery, powdery scent created in 1974.  Avon discontinued it in favour of more modern releases but customer demand brought it back in 2012. My Avon Lady tells me it’s her bestseller.

tweed old1


Tweed:Tweed is underrated if you ask me.  Its chock full of citruses and flowers,  goes a bit Mr Sheen  for a bit with lavender and beeswax, then ends up with a woody, patchouli afterglow that lasts a whole day. Cheap as chips and a pleasant change among the sweety/cakey miasma of the Twenteens.



Panache: I wear this often.  Its jasmine, aldehydes and roses last around twelve hours on me, making my little 3.95 bottle fantastic value for money. You can still get it for well under a tenner.



Coty L’Aimant: Many Chanel No 5 fans eschew this  gem, when actually, they were launched a few years apart in the late 1920s and smell very similar.  Longevity is excellent and despite its tiny price, it never smells cheap.


Yardley Lavender: I’ve got the lot: Yardley Rose, Yardley April Violets and Yardley English Lavender. You can’t beat a classic floral. I also love to layer April Violets over existing scent that isn’t, in my open ion, “violetty enough”



Lace: Formerly Yardley Lace, this is now made by Taylor of London. Lace opens with aldehydes and citrus notes, goes through a  blousy, rather loud  floral phase and beds down into moss, amber and  patchouli.  It’s similar to Chique, but soapier.



Chique: With hand on heart I can genuinely tell you that this mossy chypre reminds me of Estee Lauder Knowing and gets better the longer you wear it.  Chique is under ten quid and I proudly own a wear a bottle myself.  Wouldn’t be without it.


Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass: another spicy aldehyde, full of peppery geranium and classic roses.  Perfect from the fridge in summer. Still very good value and widely available.


Charlie Blue: Okay I admit, I didn’t used to like this at all, but once I entered the chypre portal, it made more sense to me. It’s very cheap, very long lasting and has a mossy, spicy base that is harder to find over the High Street counter today. Its remarkably cheap, usually under £4.


Jovan Musk For Women: Launched in 1972 and still going strong today: Every Fragrance Wardrobe needs a musk and this is a good one. This has not dated since its launch and is not just a good quality musk on its own but is excellent for layering too. I bagged my bottle locally but you can find it on Fragrance Direct or Amazon UK.



Jovan Musk is available from FragranceX, Coty L’Aimant is available from allbeauty.com or Fragrance Direct, Tweed, Chique, Lace and Panache are all available from Amazon UK and allbeauty.com, Yardley fragrances are available from Boots or allbeauty.com, Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass is available from Escentual or allbeauty.com, Charlie Blue is available from Boots or Amazon UK, Avon Timeless is available from AvonShop UK.


With thanks to Milton Lloyd who kindly provided me with Tweed, Panache, Chique and Lace. Opinions are my own.


Bruno Fazzolari Seyrig: Pure, Beautiful Nostalgia



Inspired by the aldehydic motifs of late sixties and early seventies perfume, Seyrig centers on an artistic interpretation of the Syringa flower — a relative of lilac that resists olfactory extraction.  – Bruno Fazzolari

Once again I find myself swooning over a Bruno Fazzolari scent. Not only is Bruno a talented artist based in one of my favourite cities ( San Francsico), but he makes considered, unique fragrances that really make their presence felt.

Bruno very kindly sent me a sample of Seyrig recently and I was delighted to receive it.  Naturally opinions are my own.

Seyrig is complex and I will get to the notes in a minute, but here’s what happened to me when I tried it:

First of all- wax crayons and roses for a minute or two until this segues into feminine powdery lilacs.  This reminded me so strongly of my late grandmother who loved lilacs and always smelled lovely: Think Coty L’Aimant, Lily of the Valley,  talc and  soap.  Lilac was her favourite flower and colour and to smell this  evoked vivid memories from way back in the early seventies.  Maybe it was the aldehydes- so popular back then and used in Seyrig with great retro effect. This reminded me of Amouage Dia  a little, so if you like that you may like this too.



As Seyrig settles, there is a faint woody spice seeping in, the way a summer day becomes evening.  You can still smell the lilacs but there is a more human note.  It reminded me of the Armistead Maupin scene, written so beautifully as usual, where Brian sniffs the back of the Mary Ann’s neck and smells her “six o’clock smell” and feels crazily in love with her.  I know exactly what he means.

Here’s the notes in Seyrig: Rose de Mai Absolute, Aldehydes, Red Mandarin,  Syringa accord ( a cvousin of lilac), Ylang Ylang absolute, Muguet accord, Oakmoss, Musk , and my favourite note “radical chic” your version of which may be different to mine!

Seyrig is fabulously retro with its aldehydes, lily of the valley, lilacs and rose.  I fell for it at first sniff and well…it’s hard to type with one wrist glued to your nose.  Very addictive! Thank you Bruno.


You can buy Seyrig from Bruno Fazzolari’s website.  .  Further stockists can be found here . He gets five stars from me for providing a great sample service where you can take $15 off the price of a full bottle when you’ve chosen.  Great idea and very customer-friendly. The price for the sample set is $35 and a full bottle of Seyrig will set you back $110.


Yves Rocher So Elixir Bois Sensuel

so elixir bois


I’m jolly fond of Yves Rocher.  Their fragrances are good quality and affordable and they keep sending tempting little emails offering me free stuff and discounts to keep me loyal.  It works!

The latest launch from Yves Rocher is So Elixir Bois Sensuel and it is indeed both sensual and woody.

Over on Fragrantica several Fragrantica visitors are comparing it to Thierry Mugler Angel, and the rich vanilla and heavy patchouli certainly will have some bearing on this.  I find the original So Elixir very similar to Chanel Coco Mademoiselle too.  Certainly fans of those two mega sellers will find something to enjoy here.

On my skin Bois Sensual has vanilla and woods immediately, with a rich autumnal heat that I could have sworn was amber.  This smells very similar to Parfums Gres Ambre de Cabochard.


In fact there is no amber, and don’t let the fact that I have just compared it to three other scents give the impression that this is generic.  It’s a crowd pleaser yes, but I find it both contemporary and rich.

Oddly enough, this rich warm scent claims to have only three notes: Iris, vanilla and patchouli, but I found woods and amber framing everything right from the start. The iris was harder to find, but iris and I have a chequered relationship anyway.



The full bottle price is reasonable at £18.90 for 30ml but it was a blind buy so I just bought the purse spray for £8.  I love it when brands make purse sprays- it’s better than a sample and cheaper than a full bottle. I think it’s a smart move on the part of Yves Rocher since they have no shops in this country for you to go and have a sniff.

So: Yves Rocher So Elixir Bois Sensuel– hit or miss?  Very much a hit in my book and just right for these colder days.  Sillage is big and longevity around five hours.


Yves Rocher So Elixir Bois Sensuel is available from Yves Rocher UK or Yves Rocher France

Y by Yves Saint Laurent: Retro Elegance




I noticed recently that a small selection of YSL past favourites have been re released into a carefully curated Heritage range.  I have always wanted to try Y by YSL, having read of its legendary  green notes and its mossy finish- which is usually enough to get me hooked.  I was not disappointed and upon finding a bottle in my local House of Fraser, I duly drenched myself in it.

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When first applied, it reminded me of a bottle of perfume that has been sealed for a long time before being opened.  There is a slightly “off” tang about it, like an old vintage perfume that has yellowed with age.  I realise that doesn’t sound like praise, but it is, I can assure you.  After a few moments there is a touch of green bitterness, not unlike Clinique Aromatics Elixir, and the aldehydes- sharp and uncompromising, dominate throughout the opening number.  Y then dies down quietly in a powdery green chypre that fans of Chanel No 19 and Guerlain Chamade will enjoy.

Every flower is here: all the heady, blousey ones- tuberose, rose, honeysukle, hyacinth, jasmine. There is Orris root to, which calms any stray sweetness into submission.

The basenote is where this really gets my loyalty for life (actually, it had me when I took its lid off).  With classic, textbook chypre characteristics, Y has a slightly bitter, slightly powdery finish heady with thick oakmoss, amber and patchouli.  There’s benzoin, styrax and a touch of civet too, just to drive the point home.

I should point out that I cannot make any comparisons between this and previous formulations as I haven’t smelled them.  Suffice to say, I was overjoyed to find a bitter, mossy green chypre on a modern day beauty counter.

YSL Y is fabulously retro and I fear that a youthful modern nose, attuned to sweetness and berries may wrinkle in disdain, which may explain why it’s not on the bestseller lists. Yves Saint Laurent Y is a classic-a green bitter chypre that you don’t have to seek out on eBay.  It already smells vintage and it makes this nostalgic chypre fan very happy.


Y is available from House of Fraser, John Lewis, Amazon UK and Harrods

Gucci Bamboo: And…Rest


I’m still in a sulk with Gucci for not bringing back Gucci Envy, so I tried Gucci Bamboo with a bitchy face on.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is a fresh break from the rich’n’cloying smellalikes that have been coming thick and fast of late.  It opened with a whisper and is still there now, all subtle and classy.

Gucci Bamboo opens with top notes of bergamot, and whilst in this case it was not zingy cologne time, it radiated like a muffled lime with lily accents- sounds like a Dulux advert doesn’t it?  Well if Gucci Bamboo were a room, it would have floor to ceiling windows and wispy white curtains billowing in a spring breeze.




The middle phase has the lily, orange blossom and gentle Ylang Ylang (or banana flower as I call it in my head).  There is a light floral sweetness to this that has nothing to do with the recent trend for caramel, chocolate, and candy floss in scent.  Phew!

In the basenotes, which is the phase it’s at now on my skin, there is a hint of vanilla, but it’s not that in-your-face-cakey smell that it’s so easy to get hold of these days, it’s more a soft pile of pillows that tones it all down before putting it to bed. I would almost call it a hint of powder in among the faint warmth of some very mild amber.

Gucci Bamboo is absolutely perfect as a daytime scent and to me, it had a nostalgia that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.  In any case, as a new release it stands apart from the crowd as a gentle “Shhh” among the noise.


Gucci Bamboo is available from FragranceDirect, Escentual,  and Boots to name but a few.

Marc Jacobs Decadence

marc jacobs decadence


Famous for his fabulous show stopping bottles, Marc Jacobs usually puts his money where his mouth is and produces good quality scent.  Not all of it is my cup of tea, but I respect the brand and like his work.  Not that my opinion will rock his world either way- they all shoot up the bestseller list without my help, as will Marc Jacobs Decadence.

I tried Decadence today after walking past the bottle twice thinking it was a free bag that you get with the bottle.  I opened the bag to find a little spray nozzle inside- how cute!  I was charmed.  I duly slathered on a good tsunami of it so it wouldn’t wear off by the time I got home (and it hasn’t).

Decadence opens with saffron and plum.  I also found the amber and vetiver comes through straight away making this  fruity and rich at the same time.  It’s heady stuff- It doesn’t pass the DayJob test at all so don’t wear it to the office. Saffron, plum, amber and vetiver- all these come at you with a sledgehammer.  The 2015 Scent du Jour of Jasmine Sambac is also noticeable, as is  a hint of rose, although poor rose gets  a bit overlooked with everything else going on.

Decadence smells very masculine, but that doesn’t put me off.  There were  moments when this reminded me strongly of Elie Saab, and then for a few moments, it reminded me, oddly enough, of Paco Rabanne 1Million Cologne.  There is a rich statement-making trail to Decadence and I reckon it will scent many a night out for at least the next two years.  You will smell it in restaurants, powder rooms and wine bars and say “Oh! That’s Marc Jacobs Decadence, I’d know it anywhere” and you may or may not feel glad that it’s nudged Angel off the  Top Spot for a bit.  Mystic Sam also predicts it will a total sell out at Christmas too.

Whilst I don’t love this myself, I do like it  and  the bottle is good enough to buy on its own – it would grace any dressing table and it should , and probably will, win awards.


You will find Marc Jacobs Decadence is stocked widely.  You could try House of Fraser, The Fragrance Shop, or Amazon UK. Prices are in the region of £49 and vary according to stockist.

Friedemodin Rosée de Nuit



Inspired by our childhood gardens in northern Sweden and Germany, we invite you on our olfactory journey. Insert the key and enter through the heavy wooden door to find yourself in the wild enchanted garden surrounded by the beautiful scents of green leafy plants, jasmin and fresh herbs.


Friedemodin is the brainchild of Elisabeth Modin and Nina Friede.  The collection of four scents encapsulates their combined love of travel and fragrance.  Previously on this blog I have reviewed Vertine and Jardin Mystique, both of which were excellent, and today I am reviewing Rosée de Nuit.



Incongruously, there are no roses, as you would expect.  However, I could swear there was a whisper of lovely satin rose petal in the background.  There is a light airiness about the Friedemodin collection that reminds me of watercolour paintings.  If you read the notes in each perfume, you would  think these would be hard hitters with monster sillage, but in fact they are gentle and even ethereal.



Rosée de Nuit has definite woody notes and comes at this from several angles:  there’s teak, there’s “Woodsy notes” (thanks Fragrantica!) and there’s sandalwood and allspice.  But overall, this is gentle petals in a sylvan surrounding, with a hint of spice floating on air.

Maybe it’s the patchouli or the violet or the combination of both, but this is an incredibly elegant feminine perfume that makes me feel wonderful.


Friedemodin Rosée de Nuit is available online from the website, or from Harvey Nichols.  Further stockists are listed on the website here.

Rihanna Rogue: Hiding a Surprise



I was in my local chemist yesterday waiting a long time for my husband’s prescription.  The fragrance of the week was on the counter, and like a moth to a flame, I naturally had to completely drench myself in it.  It was Rihanna’s Rogue, which I had never tried before. Expectations were low.  A little cynical voice in my had said “Nah, just another celeb-bandwagon-thingy” and as I smelled it I thought “If this was air freshener it would be called Vanilla Bouquet”. I was unimpressed with the initial melange of fruit, flowers and vanilla overkill and thought little more of it.

But wait! After getting home about half an hour later I sniffed the air and thought “I can smell Serge Lutens Daim Blond”. That’s the second time this week my olfactory memory has come up with the file on Serge Lutens.  It must be the universe’s way of telling me to buy one.


I looked on Fragrantica to see if I was alone in finding this similarity.  I was not.  Well sort of.  Several readers voted that Rogue smelled similar to Bottega Veneta, which in turn is also voted on as smelling like Daim Blond, so indirectly we were on the same page ( well the same site anyway). With a base note of vanilla and suede, Rogue is like a slightly less smooth version of Daim Blond’s distinctive suede and apricot finish.  Rogue is not as seamlessly blended, nor as long lasting, but it is about one sixth of the price.  Neither does it have apricots, but rather plums and vanilla, but the similarities rang out nonetheless.

So whether it was homage or a happy accident, fans of Serge Lutens Daim Blond may have a low budget treat on their hands.

Here it comes…

I found love in a hopeless place.


Rihanna Rogue is widely available.  Try Amazon UK, Lloyds Pharmacy, or allbeauty.  It’s currently on offer for around ten quid. Serge Lutens Daim Blond is available from Escentual and Amazon.com.

Elizabeth Arden Fifth Avenue: My Lofty Classic



Elizabeth Arden fragrances,although  very reasonably priced, can be hit and miss:

Hits: Fifth Avenue, Untold, Green Tea and all its flankers, Sunflowers Summer Bloom, Blue Grass

Misses: Sunflowers, Red Door, Mediterranean, Splendor, True Love.

My lists are of course purely subjective, but I would add a great big thumbs up to Elizabeth Arden Fifth Avenue, which I am reviewing today. It deserves a place right at the helm of the Hit list. Fifth Avenue was created in 1996 by legendary nose Ann Gottlieb  and to me, it has stood the test of time where others have fallen.  With it’s light feminine florals and its warm amber base, I would go as far as to say it has a lot in common with Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps.



I mistakenly thought that Fifth Avenue was all about freesia, but in fact I find there is no freesia in it.  Instead, it is chock full of the most classic florals, namely rose, lily of the valley, jasmine, violet, iris, tuberose, lilac and carnation. If flowers had their own version of Who’s Who , all these would be in it. Rather than being cloying though, this floribunda of an accord is lightened with citruses in the opening gambit, bedding down to a floral base with hints of white musk and amber.  Unlike several other Elizabeth Arden scents, lasting power is pretty good.  I thought I’d lost it after an hour or two, but it wafted back to me in the evening when I let my hair down (in the literal sense, I didn’t go and party when the kids were in bed).

I like Fifth Avenue so much that I have a 125ml bottle on my dressing table and its sky scraper style bottle dwarfs my collection with its lofty glass column and its gold lid. I call this a classic, and I call it great value too.  It’s a pretty safe bet as a gift too- it’s sure to please anyone who likes floral scents without killing bystanders ( Hey, Angel, I’m talking to you!)


Elizabeth Arden Fifth Avenue is currently available for a bargain price  at allbeauty.com and is widely available on your High Street or on Amazon UK.

Library of Fragrance Pipe Tobacco: Indulge in Alchemy



I have reviewed many Library of Fragrance scents now and I remain a big fan.  The reasons I love the brand are twofold: You can pick out your favourite notes and wear them alone ( Musk #7 is  a good start or Iris), or you can do a bit of perfume DIY and layer different notes over others until you find a  favourite combo. Either way, at £15 for 30ml, it’s win/win.


Today I am reviewing Library of Fragrance Pipe Tobacco and it’s sort of a two pronged review.



Firstly- Pipe Tobacco on its own smells authentically like Pipe Tobacco.  This naturally, won’t come as a surprise to you, but Pipe Tobacco on its own is a rather appealing smell, and if you ever pass that rare thing, a tobacconists, then do pop in and sniff the air.  It’s a kind of toasted dry woody scent with hints of richness and dark fruit.  It reminds me particular of a wonderful old tobacconists in Exeter called McGahey.

During my university days there, my friend Pippa and I would go and buy posh cigarettes to go to a ball with ( This was in the 80s when smoking was trendy and often done alongside cheap red wine whilst wearing too much LouLou).  St Moritz would be a favourite as they had a posh cover and gold foil on the filters and were by appointment to one of the European Royal families that you find in Hello Magazine ( but I digress).  Inside McGahey the shelves were wooden and the jars were see through and it always smelled like an old wood panelled study. In fact, I did occasionally see a professor in there.


Pipe tobacco may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I found a lot to like about it.

So here’s the second prong of my review:  layer Pipe Tobacco over Library of Fragrance Mahogany and you have a gorgeous woody, spicy, dry scent that made me swoon.  In fact, ( and purists will pelt me with tomatoes for this)  it reminded me of Serge Lutens Chergui when layered together. You have here notes of the aforementioned toasty warm woods, whiffs of hay, the faintest hint of liquorice, spice, dark oak and tobacco.  Together they are dynamite. Worn together yuou have the most terrific woody Autumnal combo with a masculine edge that smells a lot more expensive than it costs.

When people throw tomatoes at you, make chutney.


Library of Fragrance Pipe Tobacco and Library of Fragrance Mahogany are available from the website.  Boots also carries a range of Library of Fragrance scents at £15 or £25 for two.