“And you sip your Napoleon brandy, but you never get your lips wet”
I was recently sent a bottle of this by a dear friend of the blog, and of me, Rachael. For which, many thanks. Paul Smith Portrait was inspired by his love of travel and photography and Portrait is the result of a collaboration with Barnabe Fillion.
I was unsure what to make of Portrait at first, but the more I have worn it, the more I like it. My initial thoughts were of roses, and the rest came together later, like a jigsaw. The roses are restrained and demure, and stay neatly in their place. This is a very classy scent that never puts a foot wrong.
The rose note has been coaxed out of its tendency to dominate by the inclusion of bergamot and green tea. These classically green notes transorm the rose into an airy scent with a translucent feel. The middle notes add jasmine to the chorus, establishing this firmly as a green floral. In fact, the inclusion of the tea note made me think of Penhaligon’s Malabah.
In the base there nestles clean laundry musks and a hint of resin, although just a faintly spiced toe in the water, rather than fully formed spicy rocks and balsam.
Paul Smith Portrait is subtle, feminine and clean. It’s a gentle floral that will appeal to your girly side when you’re trying to tone down your inner tigress. Paul Smith Portrait For Women is that wide eyed face you pull when you say “Who me? How could you think it?”
Lately I have been asked many questions by people with queries about perfume. These vary from “what smells like…?” queries to “Where can I get…?” queries. It got me thinking, my friends. How about a little post that’s all about your perfume questions and queries?
Just email me or post your question below or on Twitter or Facebook and I will do my very best to answer them. You can even be anonymous if you like!
So, fire away. Do you want to know if there’s a smellalike to a long discontinued favourite? Does a newly reformulated favourite resemble an old one? Which are the best cheap and cheerfuls? Tell Aunty Sam your scented dilemmas. I’m all ears and all nostrils!
There’s a bit of a back story here. A few years ago, dear Lisa Jones, my friend, mentor and bad girl enabler let me try some Vero Profumo Rubj EDP that she had. My dear friends, I’m sorry to say that I did not care for it. I haven’t tried it since and my only lingering memory of it was cumin with muscles.
So, in the random and serendipitous way that such things happen, I was recently offered a batch of “Naughty and Animalic” samples from dear friend of the blog Lânáis-Bambi, for which many thanks my friend. The scent bundle was one of the sample collections that you can buy from Bloom Perfumery in London, so I knew it would be good stuff.
I went straight for Rubj, thinking I knew what my reaction would be, but I was wrong.
Vero Profumo Rubj Voile D’extrait is a beautiful deep floral that I was convinced was as full of violets as Guerlain Insolence. But it’s not. In fact, the flowers, once they settle, are a classy bouquet of tuberose, jasmine and neroli. They don’t come in straight away though, there’s mandarina and bergamot giving this a much lighter entrance than the one I was expecting.
The base notes anchor the flowers with oak moss and musk, giving this a ladylike and classic feel that I wasn’t expecting. Oh, and the cumin? Well, it’s not there, but the cedar gives this a herby, woody nuance that takes a back seat and lets the flowers take centre stage. Its presence gives this a touch of supportive sobriety as the flowers get loud.
I loved this so much that I have taken a lesson from it; don’t write off a different formulation of a scent you didn’t take to. I could drench myself in this stuff and It wouldn’t be too much. It’s glorious and feminine and makes me feel like I am too. I’m so glad that serendipity led me back to it.
I have in my hand a little Avon purse spray of Avon Attraction For Her. It was just £1.99 for 10ml.
Avon Attraction is a fruity floral with a touch of on trend gourmand, and nobody can accuse Avon of not being bang on the money when it comes to rapidly changing perfume trends.
Attraction opens with pear, blackberry and pink pepper, which is a sweet berry not a spice. The pear and blackberry are more summery than autumnal, and the pink pepper makes this smell either very of-the-moment.
The middle phase is jasmine, orchid and musk. I have a bit of a problem with orchid in that I don’t think I have ever liked it as a note. It always smells synthetic to me. I’ve yet to find it in a context that I’ve enjoyed. It smells synthetic here, but luckily, it does not dominate and there’s still much to like here. The musk joins in and stays put, making its presence felt throughout.
The base does a bit of fancy footwork with warm amber, leathery labdanum, vanilla and, here’s the uber trendy bit, praline! So, with the fruity pink pepper, the fairly generic jasmine and the praline base note, you have a version of many current perfumes. Except I paid £1.99 for 10ml.
There are two ways of looking at this. My view is that Avon is making scent that resembles the stuff you can buy far more expensively over the counter, but for a fraction of the price. Or, you could call it generic. Personally, I’m all for a good bargain, so I’m sitting on the Pollyanna side of the fence.
Over on trusty Fragrantica, some Fragranticans are comparing this to Love Me by Victoria’s Secret or By Invitation from Michael Buble.
My only bugbear is that I would have liked more projection and longevity, but as a handbag standby, I’m happy with what it gives me.
Avon Attraction is available from Avon UK Online or from your Avon rep if you have one. I paid for mine myself and opinions are my own.
A recent article from The Perfume Society got me thinking. Our dear chums at The Perf Soc invite us to show them our pictures of how we store our collections on Instagram and Twitter for a future feature in The Scented Letter. ( hashtag #scentedstorage)
I warily approached my groaning dressing table with my temperamental camera phone and noticed it was a big messy jumble. Once I tidied up for the photo sesh ( see above) I felt it was high time for an edit. I therefore picked my absolute favourites and took a family photo of them looking their best and all facing the right way.
In a non-subtle attempt to get you all to tell me about your essential kit, I thought I’d take the vain liberty of giving you a mini tour of my curated core collection.
Le Jardin Retrouvé Sandalwood Sacre, 4160 Tuesdays The Gathering of The Clans, Art de Parfum Gin &Tonic, Papillon Perfumery Angelique, JLo Deseo, Gucci Envy, Jolie Madame vintage, Andy Tauer Carillon Pour Un Ange, Hilary Duff With Love.
Le Jardin Retrouvé Sandalwood Sacré: This has been my SOTD for the past 3 days. The sweet, aromatic sandalwood hangs out like a lovable hippy until it turns into a woody, spiced musk.
4160 Tuesdays the Gathering of The Clans:
The Gathering of The Clans is a wonderful blackcurrant, herby, citrus chypre that will always remind me of Christmas 2016 because I could NOT stop wearing it. Plus, there was a real-life Gathering of The Clans.
Art de Parfum Gin &Tonic:
This is so much more than gin and tonic. It’s a fresh breeze blowing through your life. On my skin, it bursts into tiny flowers as the day goes on.
Papillon Perfumery Angelique:
This was love at first sniff, although I found it very hard to describe at first. It defies genre. I always wear it to christenings so it has happy associations for me. It smells like priceless buttery suede and iris and mimosa. There’s nothing like it.
This was an astounding bargain that I refer people to whenever they cast doubt on the quality of celebrity scent. This 30ml bottle cost me a mere £8.95, but before I could stock up, it was discontinued and is now like hen’s teeth. The bottle makes me think of wet jewels. The scent is jasmine, orange flower, yuzu and tiare flower.
Ah, my beloved Envy. It led me astray from my fidelity to Chanel Cristalle. Envy and I were together for several formative years. My house, my bedroom, my clothes and my desk all smelled of hyacinth and lily of the valley and that strange metallic Nineties chime in the middle. Pure Heaven. It was pointlessly discontinued in 2007. Despite a huge clamour for it, Gucci remain tight lipped. I have just over an inch left. Can’t go on. Hankies please.
Balmain Jolie Madame vintage
This was a gift from dear chum Lisa Jones. She watched as I entered the chypre portal and never looked back over my shoulder. It’s all her fault and I love her for it. I was once asked what I would put in my dream fragrance. I answered “violets, leather and oak moss” before I realised that I had just described Balmain Jolie Madame.
Tauer Carillon Pour Un Ange
I was an immediate slave to the green notes in Carillon Pour un Ange. It is one of the longest lasting perfumes I have ever tried. It starts with angelic lily of the valley, goes even greener for a bit, and then comes storming back to an Ambergris finish. I love how it lingers on my pillow.
Hilary Duff with Love
Before this was sadly discontinued, I picked up a 15ml bottle in my local branch of Home Bargains for just £3.99. It wasn’t the mainstream fruity florals that were so typical of 2013: it was a thrilling surprise of tropical dark wood and yes, mango. It’s a woody, cedar treat and I’m loath to use it up until I can wangle another off eBay. Oh, and check out the dreamy bottle! It’s like a jewel.
How about you?
And to think life was so simple when once upon a time I had a signature scent. Sigh. Once you’re bitten, there’s no going back.
Now I’ve shared mine, how about yours? How do you store them? Where do you keep them? If you had to really edit your collection what would be in it? Are your favourites discontinued or reformulated? Are they posh and pricey or chypre and cheerful? Am I asking too many questions? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
PS Don’t forget to post your photos to @ThePerfumeSociety on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #scentedstorage
Back in the 1980s there was a fabric conditioner advert on the TV that had a small child sniffing clean laundry and proclaiming “it smells like sky.” I know exactly what that child means when I smell certain perfumes.
There are days when we need something pure and clean and ethereal, especially after, shall we say, overindulgence? You don’t need a reason, sometimes you just feel all floaty.
The perfumes on the following list have been selected for those sorts of days. When you just want to be all mindful and press the reset button in your overloaded brain- and what generation before us, has ever had to remember as many passwords and pin numbers? Poor us, we deserve some soothing scents that say Shh…there, there.
Philosophy Amazing Grace
This has to be the leader of the pack when it comes to smelling as if you live on a cloud. Pure and clean and smelling like you’ve been freshly laundered and dusted with Angel’s blessings, Philosophy Amazing Grace will suit just about anyone.
Eau de Cartier
This was my go-to hangover scent back when I could drink more than two glasses without needing an early night and bed socks. Created by genius Christine Nagel, Eau de Cartier is a harmonious symphony of lavender, violet and bergamot. It’s so gentle, it almost make you feel better just by wearing it.
Library of Fragrance Clean Skin
Library of Fragrance has a spotless record in my book. They always do what they say they’ll do, and they provide excellent quality scents, that despite being colognes, often outlast many eau de toilettes on my skin. Library of Fragrance Clean Skin has a purity about it that made me feel like I’d just stepped out of a regenerating spa bath without so much as a blemish on my character.
Lalique makes superb light and airy scents. They just make me want to pour the whole bottle over my head. Lalique L’Amour is no exception. This is all gentle watercolours. With neroli, bergamot and jasmine, even the sandalwood and musk base enters the room on tip toe.
Cacharel Noa smells like clean, freshly washed hair, with a bloom’n’fade coffee bean in the middle of it. Trust me, the coffee bean seems to pin it down and stop it floating away. I love Noa and I call it excellent value at around £15.
Avon Pur Blanca
The harshest thing that people ever say about Pur Blanca is that it’s “boring.” Well, I don’t find it boring. Sometimes I want to smell like piles of white linen and white soap and fluffy towels, and that’s why I like the bargain that is Avon Pur Blanca.
I won’t hear a word against celebrity scents as long as JLo and Sarah Jessica Parker are churning them out. JLo Glow was created in 2002. It’s long life, especially for a celeb scent, is testament to its universal appeal. Glow opens with grapefruit and neroli and segues inot jasmine and roses. It’s light as a feather and makes me want to wear something diaphanous. There are many flankers, but I still like the original one best of all.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Celestia
My most recent review prior to this one, was Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Celestia. Totally unisex, with mint and bergamot, nothing says clear, crystal waters more than this heavenly scent.
How about you?
Do you agree with my list? What’s your favourite scent that says “I want the world to go away today and I’m staying under this lovely white duvet”? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
Reviewing a Maison Francis Kurkdjian scent feels slightly intimidating, like entering a posh hotel in my oldest pyjama bottoms. I don’t feel as if I am qualified, if you like. I am pretty much in awe of M. Kurkdjian so spent a lot of time learning how to spell his surname for a start. Least I could do really.
I obtained a sample of Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Celestia from the recent Perfume Society Heaven Scents Discovery Box. It had an immediate impact on me. It felt like the ultimate in crystalline, fresh, pure scent. You know that feeling when you’re so hot that only an ice cold waterfall will do? Well Aqua Celestia is for when you can’t find one.
Opening with mint and lime in spades, this will make you smell impossibly clean: as if you’ve never sweated a milli drop in your whole life. There is a hint of mimosa, which is lightly floral with a faint tinge of sweetness around the edges, like a blurry border. The lime and mint meets a base of clean musk, and Aqua Celestia sits on my skin, like the tears of an angel. It smells like I live on a cloud. Pure bliss.
My only teeny whinge is that it’s not as radiant, nor as longlasting as I would have liked, but then I am only testing the eau de toilette, so I’ll have to wait for the eau de parfum, if it’s coming.
Avon Viva La Vita is a fresh fruity floral that has enough sharpness to take you into Spring without being cloying or sweet.
The most noticeable notes are apple and grapefruit, both of which smell fresh as a spring morning with just enough zing to get you going in the morning.
The middle phase is all about the roses and magnolia, adding a feminine touch to the fruity opening. I couldn’t find the mimosa, but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment.
The base is sandalwood and cashmere, although both were indistinct. I prefer the uplifting fruity top notes and the floral middle phase middle notes to the base, which I found a bit “meh.”
Viva La Vita smells impossibly girly and pretty and I would consider getting a full bottle. I’m craving light feminine florals as winter begins to outstay its welcome. Over on Fragrantica, some readers are comparing this to Dior J’Adore, but others claim it is a generic Avon scent that smells like the existing Avon Femme and Avon Dreams. I can’t remember what those two smell like, but I do have some Avon purse sprays arriving next week so maybe I can check it out then.
Avon Viva La Vita is due for release this month, so I can’t tell you the price yet. Check out Avon UK for news. I’m guessing it’ll be pretty good value though. I tested the EDP sample, which I paid for (75p!). Opinions are my own.
Shay & Blue London Blueberry Musk was included as a sample in the recent Perfume Society Heavens Scent Discovery Box. I’ve tried and reviewed several Shay & Blue London scents now and have yet to find one I dislike. In fact, I wore Shay & Blue English Cherry Blossom throughout most of Spring last year and will probably do so again.
Blueberry Musk was a bit of a surprise. There I was, expecting something with musky berries akin to L’Artisan Parfumeur Mure et Musc, when what do I get but a flashback to the Body Shop 1986. Yes, there’s a big suggestion of Dewberry here. If you were a fan of that, then you’ll be a fan of this. However, this is no mere 80s throwback, my friends. With big, beautiful middle notes of magnolia and jasmine, this is more of a modern white floral with a deliciously fruity twist. There’s no sugary sweetness though- which would have put me off. I’ve always thought blueberries were a touch musky anyway, so they are particularly well served by the musky finish.
This could well be a Shay & Blue London bestseller. Deliciously light and pretty, with a playful dab of Dewberry, I do believe I am in full bottle territory.
In an effort to shake off the gloomy torpor of February, and in acknowledgment of the lettuce and courgette shortage, I thought it was high time I looked more closely at my favourite perfume genre: the green note.
I always put green notes into three categories: there’s the hesperide green, the mossy green and the floral green. Hesperide greens are usually light, airy and citrussy and smell clean and crystalline, like Elizabeth Arden Green Tea. Mossy greens would be chypres such as Chanel No 19 or Lancôme Magie Noire. Floral greens would be Chanel Cristalle, Issey Miyake A Scent or Balenciaga Florabotanica.
Green scents give me that hit of purity and greenery I need when I’ve been stuck indoors or when I tire of Orientals (rarely happens, but you know…). The biggest perfume love affair of my life was my twenty year stint with Chanel Cristalle. In all weathers and on all occasions, and even on my wedding day, it was my signature scent until I got promiscuous and sprayed around behind its back.
I have about twenty five favourite green scents. Here is a curated list of some of my favourites:
We had a very happy twenty-year marriage, Cristalle and I. We’re not together anymore, but I think of it fondly and may rekindle our affair one day. What can I say? I had wandering nostrils and couldn’t stay faithful. For years, this light, green scent with a mossy base fragranced my every move. As Edith would say ( who wore Robert Piguet Bandit, incidentally) Je ne regrette rien.
Lancôme O de Lancôme
Lands on skin like tiny lemonade bubbles and broken ferns. Bursting with bergamot and lemon, this is greener than Kermit and as refreshing as standing under a waterfall. O de Lancôme is a classic that has never gone out of fashion, even though they don’t use real oakmoss any more *sob.*
Elizabeth Arden Green Tea
Elizabeth Arden Green Tea is an accessible classic. It does what it says on the tin, but it does it well and without fuss. I adore all the flankers too. They are a safe bet as a blind buy if you like light green floral scents, or as a gift. I particularly like Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Revitalize.
Le Jardin Retrouvé Eau des Delices
You may recall my recent foray into this revived brand from Paris. I was kindly sent several samples last year and every single one of them was divine. Eau des Delices is a fabulously citrussy, herby green that smells like a greener, cranked up, version of the classic 4711 cologne, only greener than green with an extra big dose of green. It’s the lime, neroli, mandarin and oakmoss that gives it that eau de cologne oomph, but with more lasting power.
4160 Tuesdays Ealing Green
4160 Tuesdays Ealing Green is one of my favourite 4160 Tuesdays scents, and that’s saying something. This is as green as a grass stain on your knee at a picnic. It’s also a firm favourite over on Mumsnet, and has a delicate herby, grassy vibe going on. It reminds me of maypoles and madrigals.
Carven Ma Griffe
Now we’re in deep moss territory and I can’t see the exit. Didn’t want to find it anyway. Carven Ma Griffe was everything I’d hoped for. Entrenched in the classic chypre genre, with a blast of retro aldehydes in the opening, Ma Griffe was launched in 1946 and is as ladylike as wearing a skirt suit to the milliners.
Art de Parfum Gin and Tonic
Art de Parfum was another brand that I came to know late in 2016. I fell hook, line and sinker for the delightful Art de Parfum Gin and Tonic. Just enough greenery and tonic bubbles and flowers to keep this unfolding prettily throughout the day. It’s my SOTD.
Chanel No 19
This beauty has an icy detachment that makes me want more. With neroli, lily of the valley, bergamot and oak moss, Chanel No 19 is both unique and unmistakable. Perfect your look of hauteur, look down your nose, then spray as much as you damn well please.
Library of Fragrance Grass and Four Leaf Clover.
Library of Fragrance does green notes extremely well. Library of Fragrance Grass reminds me of the kind fairy-tale grass that the Billy Goats Gruff wanted to eat. It’s sweet, clean and juicy. Library of Fragrance Four Leaf Clover is deliciously sharp and pretty and has that just stepped out of the shower vibe.
How about you?
So that’s my round up of my favourite green scents. I had to resist the temptation to make this about ten pages long, but I’d happily own the lot of them. What’s your favourite? Do let me know, I love to hear from you.