Mary Greenwell Fire: Don’t care how, I want it NOW!

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Having written over 650 perfume reviews, I have had to learn to harden my heart to the idea of buying every perfume I like. But there is a list headed Perfumes I Cannot Live Without which means that on sniffing them, I turn into an avaricious monster as if a switch has been flicked. Today I added Mary Greenwell’s Fire to that list.

I was actually in The Fragrance Shop buying Mary Greenwell Lemon ( purse spray is only £7.50), but I asked to try Fire and fell hook line and sinker.

Created in 2014 by legendary nose Francois Robert, Fire’s top notes fall somewhere between the opening of Shalimar and Terre D’Hermes. and makes you want to glue your nose to your wrist. It is spicy without being harsh, gentle without being insipid, and it brings out the Verruca Salt in me.

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In the middle, the roses, jasmine and tuberose emerge. It segues seamlessly into the woody basenotes which include: olibanum, patchouli, sandalwood, leather, vetiver, teak and cedarwood. The citrus (grapefruit) lightens it without making it flimsy and ensures that this is the kind of scent you can wear all year round.

Fire reminded me of Chanel Coromandel without the Milky Bar. In a blind sniff, I would have been adamant that this was made by Serge Lutens. It has touches of Borneo and Santale Majuscule in it.

You can see then, why I was impressed, but that’s not all. A 50ml bottle is only £19.50. So excuse me if I barge to the front of the queue. This, my friends, is an urgent must buy.

Stockists

Run, don’t walk, to The Fragrance Shop, or buy it online here. I’ll take ten.

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Photos: product photographs from The Fragrance Shop. Verruca Salt photo from en.paperblog.com

Prada Candy Kiss: I’ll Kiss You

 

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Prada Candy Kiss is the new Prada Candy flanker.  I came across a sample in my Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Box.  The original Prada Candy was all about caramel and, incongruously, the cough-mixture like note of benzoin.  Being a caramel dodger (in scent at least, if not in gastronomy), I surprised myself by liking it.  The two of them together make a great team and you can read my review here. Prada Candy Florale was a revelation, adding a surprise note of Limoncello and I liked that too. My review is here.  Well it looks like they’ve got a hat trick with me, because Prada Candy Kiss also has my vote.

Although Fragrantica lists the same notes as Prada Candy, reading the blurb on the sample, it’s a very different story to the caramel/benzoin combo of the original. Several Fragrantica reviewers claim that this is the same formula as Prada Candy, except for having kisses on the box.  I have to say that I beg to differ.  I fell for Prada Candy Kiss after one squirt, despite its name preparing me for a fruity floral vanilla concoction, which it is not.

Prada Candy Kiss opens with orange blossom. It’s sharply green, yet creamy, with a high pitched jasmine-y note.  There is clean laundry and white musk in there too. It’s clean and feminine and the orange blossom had me sniffing and re-sniffing in appreciation over and over again.  There is vanilla in there, and at the risk of repeating myself I’m not a fan of overly sweet vanilla, but it is used lightly here, only bedding in towards the end. Longevity is good at around six hours, but really this is a showcase for orange blossom so if you like that, you’ll like this.  I did not find it a dead ringer for Prada Candy at all, and  now there are three,  I would happily buy the lot.

I’m glad I didn’t listen to my preconceptions. This is a great collection, and they are available affordably in 20ml bottles: ideal for holidays or testing the road before plunging into buy a bigger one.  Out of the whole Prada Candy range, this is actually my favourite, despite me privately declaring once that anything with “candy” in the title would not be my cup of tea.

Stockists

My sample was from the Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Box. You can buy a bottle of Prada Candy Kiss from The Fragrance Shop, House of Fraser and Amazon UK, to name but a few.

 

 

Dolce & Gabbana: Dolce Rosa Excelsa

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Dolce remains one of my favourite recent launches.  It is a shamelessly girly fragrance that opens in Gucci Envy Stylee and blossoms into a floral delight that deftly dodges the perennial vanilla tidal wave. There have since been two flankers: Dolce Floral Drops ( also rather lovely) and today’s scent which is Dolce Rosa Excelsa.

floral drops

Dolce Rosa Excelsa is not all that different to the original Dolce, but has, as you would imagine, more roses.   The common note among all three Dolce scents, however, is the Amaryllis. This is a flower that wears underwear made of fruity blossoms. It is used beautifully here, and is a new way of chucking a nod in the direction of  the fruity floral genre without actually becoming one.  As well as the roses there’s also narcissus, water lily, neroli and papaya flower.  In other words, this is like a delicate tropical flower fragrance, painted in ethereal watercolours.

The flowers are on the fruity side, but stay light and feminine. There is no tooth achingly sweet sugar here. It handles the fruitier flowers of the floral spectrum without ever smelling like  a jug of cocktails. This one, my friends, is all about petals and floaty skirts. There is a soapy clean note which gives it the feel of a very expensive shower gel in a nice ( pronounced naice) hotel bathroom.

Amaryllis at my Mum's house.

Beautiful Amaryllis at my Mum’s house.

The base notes are allegedly musk and sandalwood, but they are light touches, heavily framed by flowers, and the rose in particular comes out towards the end. Longevity is very good.  I could smell this on my wrist after a decent seven hour trial and it was still delicate and feminine. If I smelled like this after a day at the office, I would be more than happy.

Now there are three little Dolces, I envisage a cute little triptych in Duty Free.  This customer would buy one for sure.

Stockists

My sample was in the delightful Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Box. You can sign up here if you like getting samples in the post every quarter for five quid ( I do!).  You can buy bottles of Dolce Rose Excelsa from John Lewis, Boots, or of course, the Fragrance Shop.

 

Dior Poison Girl: I tried..really I did.

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I’m a big fan of Dior Poison. If you ever want to smell what the eighties smelled like, get yourself a bottle of this tuberose/jasmine nuclear bomb. It’s a classic. I also love Hypnotic Poison, which is as different as could be, but a beauty in its own right. Therefore I approached Dior Poison Girl with an open mind and friendly wave. But sadly, we are not going to be friends.

Trying Dior Poison Girl made my heart slump in the same way as YSL Black Opium did. I love Opium, and when I tried Black Opium I felt like I had been bitten and scratched and told to scram. Poison Girl had much the same effect.

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Opening with bitter orange, yet still being overly sweet, Poison Girl blossoms like a generic fruity floral, and indeed there is a whiff of those roses in there somewhere. However, the vanilla, super strength if you please, soon barges in and plonks itself down rudely. After that it takes over. There is some almond in there, which dares to peek in, but to me it smelled more like coffee and chocolate. I usually like almond: done with a light hand it can be creamy and nutty, but not here. Here it smells like a 4D Augustus Gloop Experience. I’m drowning in it and I long to go up the pipe and escape.

Sillage wise, this falls somewhere between Angel and Coco Mademoiselle parfum strength. I’ll quit before IT does.

I predict this will be a big seller, in the same vein as YSL Black Opium and Thierry Mugler Angel. It has the fruity floral hook, followed by the sweet, sweet, SWEET gourmand punch that knocks you out and sticks around. There’s a definite taste for that now, and I can’t argue with sales figures.  But subjectively? I’ll pass on this one.  When I say “pass” I mean “swerve dramatically.”

Dior Poison Girl, I wanted to like you, but we’re never going to be friends.

Stockists

Dior Poison Girl is available from House of Fraser, John Lewis and Debenhams to name but a few.

Taking a little holiday break

I’m just going to take a little break for a week (My husband turns 50 on Saturday), so bear with me.  When I get back I will be reviewing Mother Nature’s Naughty Daughters by 4160 Tuesdays. Initial thoughts: Calvados, peach blossom and stilettos. I’ll explore when I get back, but suffice to say, my nose is glued to my wrist.

Back soon- watch this space!

Sam xx

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The Winners of the Library of Fragrance Easter Giveaway are…

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I can now announce the winners of the Library of Fragrance Easter Giveaway as picked by RandomPicker. Each winner gets one bottle.

Grass: Charlotte Louise Ovel

Salt Air: Jascinth Williams

Baby Powder: Julie Harwood

Please can the winners email me their postal addresses (UK only) to iscentyouaday@gmail.com? Thank you.

Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all who took part. It was lovely reading your preferences and why you liked them. Watch this space for future giveaways. They crop up fairly often.  If you didn’t win, you can buy all the Library of Fragrance range from the website, and you can find a selection from branches of Boots too.

 

 

 

 

Ruth Mastenbroek Amorosa: Verdict- Impressed

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I was recently sent a sample of Amorosa by Ruth Mastenbroek by the lovely Nick Gilbert.  (Check out his blog). What he doesn’t know about scent ain’t worth knowing. He thought I might find Amorosa interesting and he was right.

amorosa bottleRuth Mastenbroek is a niche perfumer, with over twenty five years’ experience in perfume. She has a small but beautifully formed collection of scent that you can find out more about here on her website. Ruth has a degree in chemistry and has worked for Jo Malone, Kenneth Turner and Jigsaw over her lengthy career. She has also been President of The British Society of Perfumers. I think we can say that Ruth is unequivocally a safe pair of hands when it comes to perfume.

I will start by saying that I like Amorosa very much, but I will also say that I didn’t take to it at first. I was wearing airy hesperides the day I got this in the post, which may have been a contrast too far.

This floral bucks the trend by being rich and woody straight away. It opens with a light flourish, but the rich amber, vetiver and patchouli can’t wait their turn. I therefore get an interesting juxtaposition of feminine white flowers,( namely: tuberose, tiare and jasmine) with prickly, dark edges. The galbanum provides a cologne like touch of leafy greenery. I thought I could smell lavender in this, and it does indeed have something of the fougere in there, but it may be the violet leaf. The watermelon is another interesting find in so far as you wouldn’t normally discover it in such a rich fragrance alongside patchouli and creamy tuberose, but it really works.

Amorosa is like nothing else I have ever smelled, and that’s not damning with faint praise, it’s more a round of applause for Mastenbroek’s audacity. This is a scent that kept me guessing. When all’s done though, and the basenotes are there (for a long time incidentally), I am left with a fabulous rich white floral, lightened by watermelon that doesn’t smell watery or cucumbery as it so often can. The base is heavy, but balanced, and those heady white petals never take their leave.

The more I wear this, the more I like it, and I am jolly grateful to Nick for thinking of me. It wasn’t on my radar, but I’m so glad he tapped me on the shoulder and turned my head in the direction of beautiful, complex Amorosa. I look forward to getting to know Ruth Mastenbroek’s work more closely after this impressive first encounter.

Stockists

Ruth has an immediate fan in me by providing a user friendly sample service. At just £3 per vial, postage is free. I like this. Full bottles are available from the website and you can also buy Ruth’s fragrances from these stockists.

Photos: Photo of Ruth Mastenbroek from www.ruthmastenbroek.com. Photo of Amorosa from Fragrantica.

Library of Fragrance Easter Giveaway!

 

lof giveaway

After all the excitement of National Fragrance Day, (Boy, was it busy on Twitter!) I thought I’d round things off with a lovely giveaway. Our friends at The Library of Fragrance have very kindly supplied me with a delicious smorgasbord of fragrances. As much as I want to rub my hands together like Gollum murmuring “the precious!” it really is much fairer to spread the joy. Each winner will receive one bottle of their choice. If you don’t win, do visit the Library of Fragrance website where all these and more are available for £15 or sometimes less. You can also find a selection in Boots.

Up for grabs are three great scents from The Library of Fragrance:

Baby Powder

Baby Powder is delightfully evocative alone or adds a powdery finish to anything you care to layer it with.  It smells exactly like baby powder (or wet wipes) with a uniquely clean, pure finish. It makes you feel all wholesome and as if you want to put a onesie on and have an early night after your bath.

Grass

Grass is one of my favourite LOF scents. Refreshing and green, yet juicy and sweet, this is great to wear alone or to layer with fresh, light florals such as LOF Orange Blossom or LOF Freesia.

Salt Air

Salt Air perfectly captures that crest of sea spray that makes you feel so alive when you stroll along the promenade. Somehow salty, fresh and ozonic all at once. You know the song?

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside. I do like to be beside the sea. I do like to walk along the prom prom prom, where the brass band plays tiddly om pom pom.

In case you don’t know it, apologies.  If you do, here is today’s earworm that you won’t be able to get out of your head. You’re welcome!

How to Win

Simply tell me which one of the above three fragrances you would like to win. Each winner wins one bottle of their choice. Just comment on the blog, on Twitter (@iscentyouaday), or on the Facebook page. Entries are chosen via Random.org, so friends and family  and previous winners can all join in.  Because of postal restrictions, the giveaway is only for UK based entrants. Good luck and happy sniffing! The closing date is midnight on March 29th 2016.

The Precious!

My own personal collection. Can you tell I’m a fan?

National Fragrance Day: A Round up of the best Nostalgia Scents

#smellfie

#smellfie

Today is National Fragrance Day! I hope you’re all wearing something that makes you feel fabulous. I can’t make my mind up and have about five on each arm. Check out my #smellfie! Jolly hard without a selfie stick.

National Fragrance Day is the perfect time to look at the role that our sense of smell plays throughout our lives. Carrying on the theme of scent memory, I have rounded up ten of what I feel are the most evocative and triggering scents around. Smelling the fragrances below is like using a time machine. If ten scents could tell my life story, it would be these.

samleo

1. Library of Fragrance Baby Powder

Although I never used baby powder on my children, the smell of this brought back what I fondly call The Wet Wipe Years. Little peachy baby bottoms and those chubby hands that gripped my finger- all brought back in an instant. They were the most magical years of my life. I have forgotten the torture of sleeplessness. All I remember is how entranced I was with everything they did. And yes, I was a crashing baby bore and I don’t care.

seaside

2. What I Did On My Holidays 4160 Tuesdays

This fragrance from Sarah McCartney captures the smell of peppermint rock, sun lotion and the unique vinyl smell that says “seventies caravan interior”. Despite it’s playfulness, it’s worth taking seriously. However, it definitely wouldn’t be a bad thing to accessorize this with a Kiss Me Quick hat.

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3. Library of Fragrance Grass

I once described this as smelling like fairytale grass. This is the opulent green grass that was coveted by the The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Sweet, juicy and green, this is a knockout on a hot day. An honourable mention must go to Library of Fragrance Tomato which took me back to my late grandfather’s greenhouse faster than a TARDIS.


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4. Christian Dior Poison

Although I never wore this myself, one sniff transports me back to the sixth form common room in 1987 when Poison was still new and much beloved of my fellow sixth form girls. It was indisputably iconic and despite me not liking it at the time, one sniff today sends me into raptures that make think of Alexis Carrington Colby Dexter. More than any other fragrance around at the time, Poison WAS the Eighties.

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5. Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey

In a similar vein the Nineties could be summed up by one fragrance. Most of my friends smelled of it and I can never smell  L’Eau D’Issey without thinking of those carefree years in London. I wore Chanel Cristalle unwaveringly during this era, but I remember what my friends smell like more than what I smelled like. No responsibilities, very few mobile phones and dog eared copies of Time Out to get my social life in order.

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6. Library of Fragrance Salt Air

This is a magical fragrance that does exactly what it promises. This is the salty air of the harbour in Tenby, without the fish. It has that unique tang of sea spray and seasides. Refreshing and addictive, Salt Air will take you back. And make you fancy a bag of chips from the paper.

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7. Cacharel LouLou

There I was, arriving at Exeter University in October 1988, having marinated myself in LouLou to tell this new world I was coming. You couldn’t miss me. It’s ironic that I thought Poison was too strong, but wore half a gallon of LouLou to breakfast. Belated apologies to my fellow diners.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rex Features (1350527r) Anita Roddick of the Body Shop Various

Photo by Rex Features

8.The Body Shop White Musk

This is another Eighties scent I wore, which along with Dewberry, scented every bus, train, home, school and High Street throughout the decade. I yearn for the long gone Body Shop Perfume Bar. Huge bell jars of perfume oils with long glass dipping sticks. Sit and sniff and then go up and get a little plastic bottle filled from the counter. Sadly there are no plans to ever bring it back, but think how popular it would be if someone did! (hint, hint). Out of every perfume I have ever worn, this gets the most misty eyed comments.

millerharris jardin denfance

9. Miller Harris Jardin D’Enfance Collection

A beautiful capsule collection of three scents inspired by childhood memories of gardens. It’s spot on too: in Cassis D’un Feuille there’s earthy tomato and blackcurrant and fern. In Coeur de Jardin there’s pear, flower petals and moss. Poirier d’un Soir is very, very pear indeed, and has a lovely innocence about it.

19/10/2012 Product photography for Local Morsels web magazine which showcases local products and suppliers in the Bradford on Avon and Bath area.

10. Christmas

And finally, let’s not forget Christmas. For a trip right back to the Christmases of childhood, Serge Lutens Arabie is a rich gourmand that is saturated with rich dried fruit like my mother’s whisky drenched Christmas cake. It also smells very much like Nigella’s Black Cake, in which the fruit is so drunk it has to spend a night in the cells. If you can’t get hold of any, then Library of Fragrance Gingerbread or Fireplace will give you that fireside moment that says “is it cooked yet Mum? I don’t mind it warm.”

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Stockists:

All Library of Fragrance scents are available from the Library of Fragrance website. Prices range from £9.99-£15.00. 4160 Tuesdays What I Did on My Holidays is available from the 4160 Tuesdays website. Christian Dior Poison is available from Debenhams, Amazon UK and John Lewis. Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey is available from allbeauty.com, Boots and John Lewis. Cacharel LouLou is available from Boots and allbeauty.com to name but a few. The Body Shop White Musk is available from The Body Shop. The Miller Harris Jardin D’Enfance range is available from the Miller Harris website.  Serge Lutens Arabie is available from allbeauty.com and Escentual.

Photo credits: Smellfie and photo of me and Leo- my own. Photo of misshapen lollies by Alison Oddy for World of Oddy. Photo of Christmas cake from www.localmorsels.co.uk. Photo of green grass from ravishingraw.com.  Photo of Three Billy Goats Gruff from Goodreads.com. Photo of Anita Roddick by Rex Features. Photo of sea- my own. Photo of Alexis Carrington www.der-denver-clan.de.

National Fragrance Day:How Scent and Memory Go Together

ME AND FRED HEAD TO HEAD

Photo of me with my son Freddie aged two. Taken by Alison Oddy.

From an early age, scent plays a huge part in our olfactory memory. Even if someone hasn’t got perfumania like me (and you probably have too if you’re reading this), you can bet your bottom dollar that they can at least remember their mother’s perfume from when they were a child, or the smell of their grandparents house, or even the soap in the school toilets. A scent can be like flicking a switch in your memory bank. Perfume and memory are intrinsically linked. The Alzheimers Society has recognised this  and is examining it.

“We only have very preliminary results from this test, but together with mounting evidence in the field, we believe odours may be much better facilitators of memory and emotions than, for example, pictures and trigger quite different parts of the brain. These are brain areas that cannot be probed in any other way, yet which are central to diseases like Alzheimer’s.”-Dr Jason Warren, Alzheimers Research UK.

The full article can be found here and is well worth a read.  It’s early days as far as research goes, but it is an indisputable fact that smell can trigger not just recollection, but emotion.
On a personal level, and leaving my groaning dressing table of bottles alone for a minute ( if I must), I can trace my whole life journey through an odyssey of scent. There’s the fresh cut grass of my childhood and the wildflowers you don’t see as much now. The smell of dirt and tomatoes and broken ferns can rush me back in time faster than any modern digital device. Scent is primal.

Pentacon

It’s no coincidence that the very first perfume I bought as a young teenager was called “Bluebell” from Boots, now long discontinued. Near where I lived as a child had fields and woods full of them and Mum always had a posy from me in a yoghurt pot in the kitchen windowsill.

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Me: aged five. It’s OK to laugh.

Holidays provided their own unique library of scent too: coconutty sun screen, weak orange squash with sand in the bottom, and the malty smell of Dad’s pint of John Smiths. Don’t worry, my parents were never drunk in charge of three scamps, but they must have needed one after taking us all to a caravan for a week. Add the smell of roast lamb, real chips cooked in lard ( Heavenly then, prohibitive now), and the smell of soil from my mud pies, and that pretty much sums up the smell of my seventies childhood.

loulouadvert

Say it with me: “oui, c’est moi?”

As I got older, perfume played a bigger part in my life. In the 80s, you still had to take a roll of camera film to the chemist and wait three days to see if you had any good ones. As a result there are blessedly few photographs of my hectic social life throughout my teenage years and university, and no selfies at all. One sniff of Cacharel Loulou though, and I am transported to the exact songs I danced to in the Timepiece in Exeter, in a cloud of Marlboro Lights and the smell of feet that you get in dark nightclubs. I still have a bottle of LouLou, but it’s not the same now I’m a non smoking mother of two with firm dance floor inhibitions. My only late night fantasies now involve an early night and a good book.

www.myluxury.it
In my early twenties I discovered Chanel Cristalle and it got me through five years in London, barely wavering from it, apart from a flirtation with original Monsoon fragrance with the brown pointy cap. Only Gucci Envy in my thirties made me stray. Once I hit 42, I fell headlong into the fragrance portal that made me want to try them all with a thirst I couldn’t shake and here I am, having written 653 posts about fragrance.

sam collection

This is what happens when Lisa comes over.

My favourite smell, perfume aside, is the smell of my sons’ hair. One sniff and it tells me the story of them. Elder son smells of football games in the park. Younger son smells of school and still a little bit of baby. They don’t seem to mind their mother giving their heads a good sniff during a hug and I’m making the most of it before they get too tall for me- not difficult as I’m five foot two. Scent plays a huge part in my life, past and present. And you don’t have yo own to own a flotilla of pretty bottles to think so ( but it helps!).

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me and my boys

What smells take you back? Can you remember your mother’s perfume? The smell of holidays? Grandma’s house? Do share your thoughts. I always love to hear from you.