Philosophy Amazing Grace

grace

 

Philosophy Amazing Grace is much beloved by the perfume wearer that doesn’t want to announce their presence too loudly.  It is the classy quiet girl that stands still opposite Alexis Carrington in a cat fight: both are majestic in their own way, but incompatible.

Philosophy Amazing Grace opens subtly, stays subtle and has lasting subtle notes, and there is nothing wrong with that at all. Amazing Grace contains : Grapefruit, mandarin and bergamot, freesias, jasmine and rose, and a lasting note of gentle white musk.

 

www.hotelluxurycollection.com

www.hotelluxurycollection.com

In fact I barely noticed that it contained citrus as this has such a muted feel from the start.  The freesias and roses peek out, but the soft musk is in there from the beginning, covering everything in soft white fluff, like a newly dried angora sweater, or a pile of white fluffy towels.

Philosophy Amazing Grace is the kind of perfume you want to wear when you want to smell shower fresh and laundry clean and almost, dare, I say it, unobtrusive.  It is the smell of clean living and a “butter wouldn’t melt” face.  It’s the perfume you would wear to a job interview or when you were trying to get away with something: “It wasn’t me, I am pure as the driven snow.   I even smell like I am “ (deliver this line with wide eyes).

So if you’re looking for perfume that smells “clean”, this is it.  This is one of the best fresh laundry/clean from the shower fragrances ones I’ve come across, although I was reminded several times whilst smelling it, of Library of Fragrance Clean Skin. This is no bad thing.  Amazing Grace is the scent for your duvet day when you don’t want to waft vintage Opium all over everyone to show them who’s Boss.

Stockists:

Philosophy Amazing Grace is available from many stockists: among which are Boots, John Lewis, Amazon UK and  www.Sephora.com . Prices are around £32 for 60ml.  My sample comes from The Perfume Society Beautiful Blossoms Discovery Box

Aftelier Perfumes: Palimpsest

LIQ-EDP-Palimpsest-1

 

 Palimpsest: A manuscript or piece of writing material on which later writing has been superimposed on effaced earlier writing

Mandy Aftel is an independent perfumer based in California with a die-hard fan base, and more accolades than you can shake a stick at- and after trying several samples that she very kindly Fed-Exed to me, I can see why.

Firstly- the name:  After I’d read it a few times and stopped saying Pample-est in my head, I realised that, aside from some Yuzu, this was nothing to do with grapefruit (it’s not Pamplelune) and everything to do with layers.

A Palimpsest is “A manuscript or piece of writing material on which later writing has been superimposed on effaced earlier writing.”

(www.oxforddictionaries.com).  You can see why this is a great name for a perfume that is a cornucopia of layers and which constantly changes on my skin and which juxtaposes the old with the new.

My preconceptions were torn asunder when I first tried Palimpsest, and I have been learning more than ever lately that it will never do to cross olfactory notes off my list of “Likes”.  I usually sidestep peach, honey and yellow flowers, but Palimpsest has all three tied together with a hint of citrussy yuzu, and most interestingly of all, an edge that smells like dried incense smoke.

Initially, there was a sourness to this, which isn’t always a bad thing, but then loud peaches took over, bedding down into richer, dried apricots enveloped in a waft of joss sticks.  Some borderline indolic Jasmine wafts by, leaving an impression but not staying long.  I wouldn’t like to break this down into top,middle and base notes  because it doesn’t stay still.

 

Mandy Aftel, from www.aftelier.com

Mandy Aftel, from www.aftelier.com

One overwhelming impression that it left me with, is that Palimpsest is the exact, and I mean the exact smell that you get when you stick your nose right into a fully blooming daffodil. There’s honey, yellow flowers and pollen and vanilla and that hint of natural spice in a daff that reminds you that it came from a vegetable like bulb. I don’t even know if it was deliberate or if it’s my take on it- is after all the national flower of Wales where I live, so I consider myself an aficidando of sticking noses in Daffodils.

 

wiki commons

wiki commons

Palimpsest is not only a superb, multi layered and interesting scent, but it is that rare thing- an all natural perfume.  Personally, I don’t mind what’s in my perfume as long as it smells good, but it is no mean feat to maintain this principal.

Mandy is remarkably successful- she was named in the top seven bespoke perfumers in the world by Forbes and Basenotes rated her in the top twenty five most influential people in perfume ( and they know what they’re talking about over there). Her very first brand, Grandiflorum was sold to Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, and she has been her own boss at Aftelier perfumes since 1997.

LIQ-MINI-Palimpsest-1

Despite her success, Mandy remains approachable and down to earth, and her passion shines through in all she does.

I would like to also point you in the direction of a blog that is so good that I treat it like textbook: Perfume Shrine.  The review of Palimpsest on PerfumeShrine is superb and tells you more than I do in fascinating detail. I’m not worthy!

Stockists

Aftelier perfumes are available from the Aftelier website. Prices vary, and samples start at $6 a phial.

Yardley April Violets: Contemporary Classics

 

 

The Perfume Society

The Perfume Society

In the past Yardley has been accused of being “old lady”.  It’s a term I don’t like to use, since the mature set round my way always smell terrific, with wafts of Estee Lauder Cinnabar and Clinique Aromatics Elixir being particular favourites that many younger buyers local to me wouldn’t touch.  So where some might say “old lady”, I would like to say “classic”, and since we are talking Yardley today, then classic seems to be a good fit.

My quest for the perfect violet is never ending and even when I find a good one, I still hunt for more.  Stand-out violet scents for me are Lush Tuca Tuca ( sadly no more),  Penhaligons Violetta,  Pell Wall Deep Purple ( a green mossy violet) and my beloved Balmain Jolie Madame which combines violet with leather and oakmoss.

Clever Yardley has seen fit to relaunch four of their floral fragrances as “Contemporary Classics” and I for one welcome this move whole heartedly.

Yardley April Violets is a back to basics violet, but seems all the more rare for its simplicity.  There are many notes listed, despite it being presented as singularly violet, and it does indeed change on skin the longer its there, but into a plaer version of its its own top note, rather than anything boldly different.  On the Yardley website, there are notes of white peach, orris, mimosa and rose, with sandalwood, vanilla and powdery notes in the base.  To my nose I could smell violets, a hint of iris ( probably the orris), a hint of white musk, and a handful of green notes.  It is both refreshing and powdery at the same time, with an old fashioned note that makes me thirst for simpler fragrant times before the caramel tsunami.

 

Yardley

Yardley

So “classic” was April Violets that it fell out of fashion, or so Yardley thought, and they discontinued it.  However, public clamour brought it back and it is now widely available at a very reasonable price.  Longevity isn’t great: say a weak eau de toilette or a strong eau de cologne, but topping up is part of the pleasure, and at less than £12 for a big 125ml bottle, you can’t go far wrong.

Stockists

Yardley April Violets is currently available on Amazon UK, Amazon.com and Boots.com as well as www.yardleylondon.co.uk.  My sample was from the Perfume Society Beautiful Blossoms Discovery Box.

 

The Perfume Society Beautiful Blossoms Discovery Box

BlossomBoxbox2-350x350

 

Excuse me a minute whilst I gush like a fan.  The Perfume Society Discovery Boxes are my new guilty pleasure.  In fact, I don’t even feel guilty.  They are my new obsession and The Perfume Society haven’t asked me to say so.  I am besotted.

shadersYears ago, when I was a slip of a girl (many, many years ago) my late grandmother gave me a wonderful Christmas gift.  She had decorated a little basket with some fabric remnants, making a frilled lining, and filled it with beauty bits and bobbins.  In it were bath cubes, setting lotion, a sachet of Shaders and Toners (remember them?) bath pearls and various other mini delights.  It was such a cornucopia that I eked it out for a long time and have never forgotten what a treat it was to receive.  I’ve had nothing like it since, but the old feelings came rushing back when I received my first Perfume Society Discovery Box a few months back.  I’m now on my fourth and the thrill has not dissipated.

There is always a book of sniffing strips, postcards with notes about each perfume and discussion prompts in case you want to get a perfume club going ( and I do), and then last but not least, there is a selection of seven or eight perfume samples, often hard to get, and usually an “extra”, which in the past has consisted of Liz Earle skincare, Crabtree and Evelyn hand cream,  and L’Occitane Roses et Reines hand cream.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This month I have the Beautiful Blossoms Discovery Box and it contains: a quad of Yardley floral EDTs,  Miller Harris Couer de Jardin, Fragonard Jasmine, Jimmy Choo Blossom, La Perla Peony Blossom, Ruth Mastenbroek Amorosa, Agonist Isis, Chloe Love Story , Philosophy Amazing Grace and Elemis British Botanical Shower Cream.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I can sit there sniffing away of an evening with the TV on, blissfully trying stuff out for my blog and feeling very much in my element.  It also means my sample selection has expanded in a way that makes my eyes light up like a miser in a goldmine.

So this isn’t a review of a perfume, but if you like perfume, these Discovery Boxes will save you a traipse round a  High Street smelling of so many perfumes you can’t remember the name of the one you liked.  Or they might fill a very pleasant evening of wrist sniffing whilst watching old reruns of House MD on Netflix with a  cup of tea.  Like what I do. Bliss.

Stockists

The Perfume Society Discovery Boxes are available on the Perfume Society website for £15, although subscribers get first dibs and a discount.

 

The Body Shop Fijian Water Lotus.

water lotus

Fijian Water Lotus is the latest addition to the Body Shop’s excellent Voyage Collection, two of which I have reviewed elsewhere on this blog.  Today I treated myself to a little £5 for 10ml bottle of Fijian Water Lotus (for which, bravo Body Shop for offering affordable purse sprays!).

As the name suggests, this is an aquatic/ozonic sort of affair, which would please fans of say, L’Eau D’Issey by Issey Miyake or Marks and Spencer Isis. It is full of sea notes, though without the salt, and the zinginess is maintained with sharp mandarin and lemony blossom (litsea cubeba if you must). It is often hard to maintain that “fraiche” accord for more than a top note presence, but here it is achieved successfully, although after two or three hours it does bed down into a very clean basket of laundry.  I must add that if anyone’s laundry smelled this good, I would be asking for the name of their fabric softener.

o.27684

In the latter stages, Fijian Water Lotus still maintains a blue image that makes me think of crashing waves and blue skies, and the citrus is still there, but don’t expect astringency to hang around for the entire show.  All in all, this is a great summer scent and I foresee several Body Shop Oceanus fans coming out of retirement to purchase this.  It’s not quite Oceanus, but it sure does tick all those sea spray/ crest of a wave/ ozonic boxes that feel just right on a sunny day.

Not QUITE Oceanus

Not QUITE Oceanus

Stockists

Available from the Body Shop online or in store starting at £5 for a 10ml purse spray and rising to £16 for 100ml EDP.  There are lots of nice ancillary products to match too if you want to do layering.

Pell Wall Perfumes Anjin: Turn Up The Heat

Anjin-by-Pell-Wall-30ml

 

Pell Wall perfumes, based in Shropshire, is the brain child of Chris Bartlett, who left his job to become a full time perfumer.  Don’t you just love people who do that?  If people like Chris and other great indie perfumers  didn’t take the plunge, we’d all be missing out on original and exciting niche fragrances.

Pell Wall Perfumes Anjin is not like anything else I have smelled before because it has very dominant chillies in it, or pimentos to be precise.  I’ve never been one for gourmands in particular, but when they are as astringent and spicy as Anjin, I take it all back.  This could not be further away from your cupcakes and candy floss, which just goes to show how vast the gourmand spectrum can be.

This is no one trick pony though.  As Anjin’s  citrussy, almost stingy-eyed opening dries down, it becomes smooth yet prickly, a bit like sharp lemony patchouli.  With bold styrax adding an almost-but-not-quite creosote touch ( not a criticism, I love it), and clove and coriander making their spicy and herbal presence felt, Anjin  is a long-lasting  treat that smells equally good on male or female skin.  I loved it on me, but it smells even better on my 17 year old nephew, who also loved it, and now has the bottle.   I am always pleased when young folk try a fragrance that steps away from the High Street norm- and what a pleasant surprise to find a 17 year old who is NOT marinated in scent du jour Paco Rabanne One Million!

wisegeek.org

 One of the things I admire about Pell Wall is the sheer versatility:  Chris has produced a range that includes violets, (Deep Purple), Lily of the valley and roses (Pretty in Pink), earthy leather (Sticky Leather Sky) and Red Hot Chilli Peppers (Anjin) without stinting on quality or showing any weak links.  Anjin would make an original choice for summer and refreshingly, didn’t smell synthetic.  In fact wearing this when you have a cold might even feel therapeutic.  That chill just cuts through everything.  Anjim impressed me and I would wear it myself had I not given it away in the name of olfactory education earlier today.

Pell Wall Perfumes

Stockists

Anjin is available from the Pell Wall website for the reasonable price of £23 for 10ml or £36 for 50ml.  Fret not about taking a gamble based on my word alone though, Chris offers great sample sets and discovery sets and I can vouch for the quality and longevity.  My particular favourite is Pretty in Pink, which I reviewed earlier in this blog.

4160 Tuesdays: What Katie Did on Friday Night

whatkatiedid

 

What Katie Did on Friday Night has taught me a valuable lesson.  It has taught me to completely disregard the notes a perfume has before trying it.  I used to read the notes and form preconceptions like a fussy eater reading a menu.  But I fell hard for What Katie Did, and  having done so, found myself feeling surprised that  after falling for it, I realised that many of the notes would have been roundly and foolishly rejected by me and may have caused  me missing out on a gem.

What Katie Did reminds me of maraschino cherries:  that rich, deep almond like taste that enhances any throwback drink, or indeed, tastes wonderful alone, eaten with a cocktail stick straight from the jar.  Described by Maria Angelidou as smelling like “tart cherry jam” its borderline sourness is what gives it its USP, and I remain addicted.

 

www.promosgroceries.com

www.promosgroceries.com

Previously I had tried and rejected cherry scents: I was almost anosmic to Cartier Delices de Cartier which faded as soon as it landed on my skin, despite other reviewers reporting twelve hour longevity. I had also turned my nose up at anything containing watermelon or cucumber, but here they are, giving the sour cherries a dewy lightness. I hadn’t much liked raspberries either, but here they smell just right.  I realise I am beginning to sound like my five year old son “There are brown bits on the edge of my egg”, “my sandwiches aren’t triangles”, but I have been taught a lesson.

This is the second time Sarah McCartney has had me learning to love things I would have previously eschewed.  New York 1955 contains ice cream and candy floss, two things would have put me off completely, but the addition of violets made me buy a bottle and wear it with pride.

What Katie Did on Friday Night is a revelation and has made this fussy eater start ignoring the menus.

Stockists

You can buy What Katie Did On Friday Night from the 4160 website.  You can find further stockists here.  Big kudos to 4160 for making several affordable sample and discovery set options which you can buy here.

L’Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse aux Papillons

la chasse

With such a whimsical name, it was easy to be attracted to this scent like a butterfly to a buttercup.  With a seemingly mixed bag of reviews from the gushing to the nonplussed, I have to sadly align myself with the latter camp.

La Chasse aux Papillons opens with a whisper and then gets dirty, like twigs.  There is a hint of dried up buds, and an indolic background of jasmine.  Tuberose is alleged to be the dominant mistress here, but I could not smell any.  There is definitely Lime Blossom, but again, a dryness, like a flaky leaf, emerged on my skin.  Maybe Tauer’s Zeta spoiled me for other lime blossom scents.  There is freshness to this of sorts, and it certainly suits the spring season, but I was not enamoured of the white flowers with a hint of mud and dried leaves, nor of its light sillage and poor longevity.  I found it to smell almost medicinal or clinical, but that could be my brain getting confused because jasmine is often  used in commercial air freshener and soap.  Jasmine has many facets, and I didn’t care for this one.

Pinterest

Pinterest

Pity though, because I liked Premier Figuer and Timbuktu too and have a whole tin of L’Artisan samples to plough through yet.  But in the world of fragrance I would lack discernment if I loved everything a brand made, wouldn’t I?

I still love you L’Artisan Parfumeur, but I’ll leave this one to its fans.

Stockists

You can buy L’Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse aux Papillons on Amazon UK, Amazon.com and of course from www.lartisanparfumeur.com.  I have the sample tin, which is a great way to try before you buy, and you can buy it here.

sample tin

Colognes For Summer: My Pick of the Best

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shop.4711.com

As the weather changes, so does our perfume wardrobe.  The spicy patchoulis and leathers take a back seat, (although with changeable UK weather they never go away), and the pretty cologne bottles come out to play.  Cologne traditionally doesn’t have staying power.  The high alcohol content cools skin on application and not much more is expected of it.  However many of the fragrances labelled cologne today have the lasting power of an eau de toilette, that is between 4-6 hours, making colognes a good bet for the summer and justifying a cooling lunch time top up.

I’ve trawled through some of my favourites and have listed them below.  Although they vary in price, I consider all of them to be good quality and value for money, otherwise I wouldn’t rave about them to you.   Do feel free to tell me of any of yours too-I always love to hear from you.

Escentual.com

Escentual.com

4711 Original cologne:  The classic.  It reminds me of a school exchange trip to Germany in 1986 where I first discovered this timeless scent. The scent itself  doesn’t last long, but reapplying it is a pleasure in itself.  This  has been around since 1793 and the closely guarded formula contains herbs, citrus and a mossy backdrop.  This is the textbook classic which many say provided the blueprint for all colognes that followed, and still smells great today. You can buy it just about everywhere.  Try Amazon UK,  Boots.com,  Escentual.com or allbeauty.com.

immortelle

Cologne and Cotton Immortelle

Cologne and Cotton Immortelle:  A citrussy spicy opening leads into traditional style orange and lemon cologne with a handful of green notes that lasted an easy four or five hours on me. It beds down into a deeper, slightly bitter citrus that reminded me of Guerlain Pamplelune.  Available from Cologne and Cotton online or in store. A big thumbs up to the glorious heritage style packaging and generous 150ml bottles too!

thelibraryoffragrance.com

thelibraryoffragrance.com

 

Library of Fragrance Rain:  The lovely Vanessa Musson of Bonkers About Perfume described this as “minty tangerines”, and I totally agree.  It has an ozonic, refreshing tang that smells as fresh and clean as a rainy day.  Lasting powder was around four hours. You can buy it from Boots or from Library of Fragrance online

CC_Niobe-400_m

Cologne and Cotton Niobe

Cologne and Cotton Niobe I reviewed this recently and liked it so much that I decanted it into a Travelo and carry it round in my handbag.  It opens with citrus and ends with spice, but is never cloying- always uplifting.  Made for men, but used by me.  You can buy a generous 150ml bottle from Cologne and Cotton online or instore.

westinidanlime

West Indian Lime by Crabtree and Evelyn

Crabtree and Evelyn West Indian Lime Cologne I tried this on in winter and it lasted around six hours on me and I stood there in my damp coat and wet boots dreaming of summer. This is a glorious lime that packs a punch and lingers around like a good mood.  You can buy it from House of Fraser, Marks and Spencer, and Amazon.com

eaudecartier

Eau de Cartier

Eau de Cartier  One of my early loves, which I reviewed within months of starting this blog.  It’s my hangover scent: Lavender, mint and bergamot in perfect harmony- even Luca Turin thinks so.  Strictly, it’s an eau de toilette, but it behaves like cologne and smells like cologne, so I will shoe horn it in anyway.  You can buy it from allbeauty.com, Sephora.com , Debenhams or Amazon.com and Amazon UK.

eau dhadrien

Annick Goutal Eau D’Hadrien

 

Annick Goutal Eau D’Hadrien  Lemons, lemons, lemons, citrus and lemons.  With a hint of aldehydes. Don’t buy it if you don’t like lemons, but what could be better in summer?  This is a classic that will never go out of style. You can buy it from allbeauty.com, Escentual.com and Selfridges to name but a few.  You could also try Sephora.com or Amazon.com

farina

Jeanne Marie Farina

 

Roger & Gallet Jean Marie Farina eau de cologne  There is a complicated back story here as to whether Roger & Gallet introduced the very first cologne to the world, or whether it was the 4711 gang.   There is a great article here which explains it more fully, but I think its’s safe to say that the Roger  and Gallet brand has been around since 1693, pre-dating the 4711 history.

Jean Marie Farina is my favourite Roger & Gallet and is named after the heir of the original recipe, who converted aqua mirabilis into eau de cologne back in 1806.  It combines spices and lightness with herbs and citrus and in my eyes at least, it is a classic.  It is widely available, but I like buying it from my local Marks and Spencer, one of the few High Street stockists outside big cities.

eaudynami

Clarins.com

 

Clarins Eau Dynamisante  Bright, astringent and refreshing, Eau Dynamisante has it all.  In my previous review of ED here on this very blog, I described it as the freshness of an open window on a stuffy day. This Clarins range defies categorization as it is neither a cologne nor an eau de toilette but a firming skin treatment.  However, by being full of citrus and herbs and having a short but refreshing staying power, I would say that as cologne, it fits the bill.  I also adore Clarins Eau Des Jardins (see my review) which smells so good I almost want to drink it (but don’t!). You can buy it from any good beauty counter, or you can try allbeauty.com, Sephora.com, Amazon.com or Escentual.com.

 

Penhaligon’s Bluebell.

bluebell

I have long wanted to try Penhaligons Bluebell, despite knowing that it was a favourite of Mrs Thatcher, of whom I was not a fan.  Interestingly, it is also rumoured to have been a favourite of the late Princess Diana, and the very current Miss Kate Moss.

The reason I have longed to try this is two fold.  Firstly, when I was growing up there was a field and some woodland near our house which were  awash with bluebells every year.  I would pick huge bunches of them and the smell of them is a memory that has always stayed with me.  Olfactive memory is never to be underestimated and can pack more of a punch than a photo.

The second reason, tied in with the first reason, is that the very first bottle of perfume that  I ever bought myself with my own money was a little glass bottle of Bluebell perfume from Boots The Chemist.  It was a splash bottle, square, and made of frosted glass.  It has long since been discontinued but I remember buying it in my early teens and splashing it on liberally.

 

Bluebells in the Forest of Dean. Photo by me

Bluebells in the Forest of Dean. Photo by me

I had a Penhaligons Scent Library sample tin for Christmas, but Bluebell was missing.  Luckily dear friend of the blog  Patsi came to the rescue and I was delighted to receive a sample of both Bluebell and Violetta from her yesterday, for which, many thanks indeed Patsi.  I cannot pick a favourite from the two!

Penhaligons Bluebell lived up to my expectations.  It smells exactly like a fresh bluebell, only cranked up a little and made more intense.  The natural smell of a bluebell is more subtle, but we’re not going for realism here, we are going for reproduction. There is slightly metallic, medicinal tang to it, a little like Jasmine at its freshest.  Alongside the central bluebell note ( listed as Hyacinth, but all the same family)  are other floral notes that fill in the gaps as the sharp, high pitched Bluebell wavers, unable to keep the fresh note going.  Here I can discern Lily of The Valley and a faint rose, before the Bluebell note melds into the spicier, base notes with its cloves and cinnamon, used sparingly, like a faint outline.

 

kew.org

kew.org

There is a definite vegetable note in the base, reminding me that bluebells are related to asparagus, but it is eclipsed by wafts of  pleasing flora.   Would I buy this? Yes.  And I would also buy Penhaligons Violetta and wear them together, because, oh boy, that smells amazing!

Stockists

You can buy Penhaligons Bluebell from Penhaligons and Penhaligons stockists and franchises, which you can find here.  You can also find Penhaligons on allbeauty.com, Amazon UK and Amazon.com, as well as eBay.