Stepping Away For A Short Scented Sojourn


Dear perfumed friends, I shall be leaving the blogosphere for a few days to enjoy the last week of the holidays with my two sons and my husband.


I have had a ball this summer, learning and discovering as I go along, as usual.   These last few month alone I have examined the case for and against the classic Opium (and not so classic reformulations).  I’ve realised that even gigantic revered companies can be silly (Miss Dior becoming Miss Dior Originale and Miss Dior Cherie becoming Miss Dior – very silly indeed!).


I’ve discovered wonderful scents that I didn’t know about (Hello 4160 Tuesday and Goodbye Picadilly!), brand new perfumers in Papillon and their gorgeous trifold launch of Angelique, Anubis and Tobacco Rose (hello to the talented Liz Moores!). I enjoyed Tauer’s revival of Eau D’Epices and his new cologne Cologne du Maghreb (Guten Tag Andy!) and I saw my perfume collection diminish, grow and change, like a season all of its own.


What am I looking forward to in September? (Apart from arguments in the shoe shop, and listening to endlessly changing Christmas lists.)  Scent wise, I am looking forward to Tauer Sotto La Luna (its gardenia!), and looking forward to getting the heavy mob in as the weather gets colder.  Goodbye colognes and hello Orientals.


Do please excuse me than as I step away for the last week of the school holidays for some quality time with my adorable and demanding sons. They drive me round the bend but I wouldn’t miss it for the world.


PS The picture you see above is the same as the poster I have above my desk as I blog.  I bought it in Paris and carried it home on the Eurostar.


Creed Love in White: When Rice Things Happen to Good Perfume



Yes you read it right.  Rice things have happened to a perfectly good perfume and it’s as unmissable as a blackcurrant lolly in the middle of a wedding dress. It cannot be ignored.

I tried Creed Love in White yesterday and today and was particularly intrigued by it as I read a rumour that Dame Her Supreme Majesty Angelina Jolie wears it.  If it makes Brad Pitt look up from his motorbike and  say “Baby, I dig you”  then its good enough for me.

Creed Love in White opens beautifully.  White is indeed the right name.  It has sea notes and citrus notes  and magnolia and is as clean as a white chiffon curtain floating lazily in an early morning Malibu breeze with a bracing view of the Ocean (you know, like Angelina’s house. Probably)

However, there’s a big Oops and that pesky, of all things, RICE note barges in and messes up the pure white sitting room with its savoury slightly parched smell. I tried and tried to ignore it.  It veers between savoury dried grass and scorched parchment and it just ruins this for me.

Amusingly, Luca Turin and I are in agreement on this. (Listen to me, talking like he’s my friend or something. Sorry Tania) In fact, he is even more irritated than I am.  In Perfumes The Guide he declares that if a homeless person was offered shampoo that smelled like this, they would decline it and take their chances with the lice.

I don’t think it’s quite that bad, but what on earth were they thinking adding rice into a perfectly good and clean smelling fragrance?

Cacharel Noa took a similar gamble and in my opinion, won.  Noa is a delightfully “white” ethereal scent with a bloom’n’fade coffee bean in the middle. It works.  Creed Love in White does not.

But I bet it smells great on Dame Angie.


PS Two thank yous- Lisa Wordbird- thanks for the loan of the sample! And also thank you to this website which is so addictive that you can get completely lost in it.

Guerlain Samsara: I Can’t, I Simply Can’t

samsara   Everyone has one.  A fragrance that is associated so strongly with another person or time that it cannot be seen as a stand alone fragrance to be viewed objectively.  It could be the signature scent of a former colleague, or in-law, or it could be the smell of a disastrous night out or date. Whatever the reason, many perfume lovers have a smell they cannot detach from, no matter how random or illogical the association.

For me, that smell is Guerlain Samsara.  It may explain why it has taken me so long to get around to reviewing it. Years ago, I knew a couple who had appalling personal hygiene. The smell of Samsara in their flat was all pervading day and night and masked the strong, unwashed smell of hair and clothes and body so that I was never sure if the perfume was musky or if it was the unwashed clothes.  It served to put me right off, good and proper, like the opposite of Pavlov’s dogs.  I see a bottle of Samsara and I walk away, swerving with almost comical briskness.

Decades later, I steeled myself to chase away the perfumed ghosts.

It wasn’t until I spent a few days wearing it that I realised how similar Samsara is to Serge Lutens Feminité du Bois.  Feminité du Bois is woodier and has rougher edges (deliberately, not because it was made badly) but the robustness and dusty spice is similar.  Sadly, to me, Feminité du Bois smells like unwashed knickers ( which I tried to Google and wished I hadn’t), so I guess we’re back to square one on that one.   Or maybe one explains the other.

On first spray Samsara is immediately woody, green and juicy.  The sandalwood is then the strongest note, followed by the Musk, at least to my nose. There’s a touch of earthy Iris and orris root, and its rich with Amber, but the opening is fruity and juicy and spicy all at once.  There is a waft of definite banana like ylang in the top notes, but it skidaddles before the mood gets serious. The base note holds that unmistakable musky sandalwood that means you can spot Samsara from 20 paces, and longevity is of course, excellent, whether you like it or not.

You could wear Guerlain Samsara on a date and you (and your date) would still be enjoying olfactory reminders three days later.  The success of this is up to you.  Please wear Samsara responsibly. Whatever way I look at it though, and whichever angle I come from, it will sadly always be the smell of a girl who uses perfume instead of soap.

I’m sorry Samsara fans, it’s not you, and it’s definitely me.

PS If you are a friend of mine and you are reading this, you are not the unhygienic couple.  They are long gone.

Dana Raffinée: A Touch of Brass

Raffinee Perfume Dana Raffinée used to be Houbigant Raffinée and sadly I cannot list the differences between the Dana formulation and the Houbigant formulation as I don’t have the old one to compare it to.  However, if you’re a fan of Caron Montaigne (rumoured to be endangered) then you may like this rather similar and classic fragrance.   raffinee-perfume-by-dana-for-women-personal-fragrances_24801_500

First impressions of Raffinée are yellow flowers and powder.  This is probably why it reminded me so much of Caron Montaigne- those were my first impressions of Montaigne too.  However if you take away the oranges from Montaigne you are left with pretty much a decent dead ringer in Raffinée.  The problem is, it looks like Raffinee’s days are numbered too.  In this case, the emergency drill would be to buy the cheapest, which is currently Caron Montaigne , being sold for a song right now over on Amazon.

Raffinée opens with mimosa and spices.  There is a hint of hyacinth in there too, lots of dry rooty orris root and some noticeably rich tuberose. The flowers are not soft nor delicate nor dainty.  There’s no peony here.  The flowers are more blousy and loud and wearing too much make up and trying to look young.

The middle notes are a raft of soapy, powdery spices and this phase seems to last a long time.  The base notes segue into a rather brassy evening scent that smacks of the late 1970s.  There’s no subtlety here.  There’s no delicacy.  But I tell you what Raffinée does remind me of, and that’s a Beryl Cook painting, leopard print, cleavage and a dirty laugh.

It’s not fashionable, but who wants fashionable?  Powdery, soapy, spicy and rocking a tarty, 70s vibe- if Raffinée was a person we’d be going out on the town tonight.

PS Thank you to my dear friend Lisa Wordbird for the loan of the bottle.  She is not rocking a tarty 70s vibe in case you were wondering.


Miller Harris Rose En Noir: I Thought I Knew Rose


  Miller Harris Rose En Noir is,  as I expected from the brand, excellent quality.  From the name I was expecting an enigmatic Gothic Rose, and that is what I got.  And it’s rather wonderful. The Rose in Rose En Noir is immediately likable, but noticeably different.  Its intensity sets it apart from other rose scents for a start, but there is something else- some unusual note that makes this unique.

The opening of Rose En Noir reminded me a little of Tauer PHI Rose de Kandahar in that the Rose has been magnified and almost candied to give it a gourmand kick: so intense that it borders on the medicinal.  Imagine sugarless Turkish Delight concentrated by a hundred and seasoned with black pepper. The note I was trying and failing to identify really surprised me:  it was cumin. Yes, that mainstay of curry and chilli has been used to mouth watering effect here by adding a touch of savoury to what is normally an impossibly feminine note.

Normally if you said “Do try this rose and cumin perfume” I’d try it with no expectations of liking it and then go and drown my sorrows in a bottle of Une Rose Chypree to cheer me up (Vero Profumo Rubj had a similar effect on me).  Incredibly, the cumin note does not smell spicy, but more like a richness, like honey.  In fact, smelling this blind I thought it was a combination of rose, honey and yellow flowers.

There is a cosy warmth to it, like spiced rose petal tea. The notes include no other flower other than Rose, and I like that about Rose En Noir. Using only spices and dried leaves such as cumin, coriander, pepper, tobacco and violet leaf, Rose En Noir remains a centre stage Rose enhanced by a spiced heat.

Nothing is dominant, but everything combined creates a warm cloak about this classically recognisable flower. The base is a patchouli, rose and tobacco-y blend that lasts for around nine hours.  It’s very sniffable and smells like nothing else I can name off the top of my head.  If you like your rose but don’t want to run with the pack, this is for you.

I love that Lyn Harris has found yet a different approach to a flower that has been used in perfume so many thousands of times, and still found a new and interesting angle.  Rose En Noir was created for Liberty in 2006 and is available from John Lewis, Escentual,  and  Miller Harris.

4160 Tuesdays London 1969: A Refreshing Retro Breeze

4160 Tuesdays  has a knack of giving perfumes such great names that you’re brimming with the anticipation of a little voyage into a vignette before you even put it on.  It’s like having a pair of shoes called “Magic Carpet” or a coat called “Russian Princess”.  Immediately, life gets more interesting and fantastical through the power of suggestion.

Thus it was in merry, hippy Carnaby Street mood,with “here comes Georgie Girl” in my head, that I first tried 4160 Tuesdays London 1969. Now you may notice that certain brands have a recognition factor. This is no bad thing:  The old Guerlains have it and you can usually tell a Serge or a Tauer by its je ne sais quoi.  4160 Tuesdays has it too:  a kind of rich, woody blank canvas base that makes it recognisable…or so I thought until I tried London 1969.

Alert with zingy lemon, zesty grapefruit and a kind of lime sherbert that took me back to my childhood, London 1969 is like licking a lolly on a hot day in a floppy hat, in glorious techniclour as you mingle with the cool cats outside Biba. No, I wasn’t around then, ( it was the year my Dad looked at my Mum in a funny way though, I was born the following year) but Sarah McCartney is the Doctor Who of perfumers: she can take you back in time and space with a mere smell.

The Dark Heart of Havana had me sipping coffee in a Cuban Pavement Café, Time to Draw The Raffle Numbers was all polished floors and marmalade in an empty church hall, and The Lion Cupboard had a whiff of peppermints, old wood and pocket fluff and made me feel pleasantly Narnia-ish.



I don’t know what the notes are in London 1969, but if you like Annick Goutal Eau D’Hadrien on steroids, or O de Lancome with the volume pumped up, or Miller Harris Le Pamplemousse, then I can almost guarantee you’ll love London 1969.  And the sky will be blue, and your sunglasses big, and there will be red buses and black cabs and optimism.  It’s not widely available yet, but it will be.  Sarah, please make it so! It’s glorious, as is the sunshine.


PS- UPDATE- London 1969 is now available on the 4160 website in the drop down menus in 8ml and 30 ml bottles.

Estee Lauder Sensuous: It’s Just Not That Into Me


It is a fact, universally acknowledged, that I cannot walk past the Estee Lauder counter without pressing a nozzle of some sort.  Today that nozzle was Estee Lauder Sensuous and let’s just say there was no chemistry  during our  first meeting. Sensuous left me within moments of our first introductions without a backward glance.  I don’t think there’s going to be a second date.

There is no rhyme or reason as to why some perfumes are anosmic to some and not others.  Cartier Delices de Cartier was one memorable example ( or should that be unmemorable?).  I sprayed and sprayed and practically used up a whole sample before realising I couldn’t smell it at all.  Luckily, with Estee Lauder Sensuous I judiciously sprayed my sleeve so I can vaguely recall what it smelled like and can report back.

It reminded me a little of Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial in that it is a powdery floral with a smoothing hint of vanilla/honey round the edges. It’s very close to skin (that’s an understatement) and disappeared within about three minutes.  Now, I know this is just me as it wouldn’t have been a steady seller since its 2008 launch if it were anosmic on everyone.

The strongest notes I can smell are still very faint and they are sandalwood, honey and magnolia.  If it was stronger I think I would actually like it, and by stronger, I mean noticeable without trying to inhale my entire arm in one snort just to catch a passing zephyr of it.  It’s  reasonably priced however, possibly one of the cheapest Estee Lauders in fact, so if it hangs around you’ve got yourself a  bargain.

My overall verdict? We could have been good together if you’d stuck around to get to know me. Mystifying.

Elizabeth Arden Sunflowers Summer Bloom



I’m going to start by saying right away that I don’t like the original Elizabeth Arden Sunflowers -to me it’s nothing special at all.   However,  I tried Elizabeth Arden Sunflowers Summer Bloom today and yes, it’s a fruity floral, and no I’m not a huge fan of the genre, but this one is rather lovely and is excellent value.  It was a big 100ml bottle that came in a penny under ten quid and as an eau de toilette the expectation is that it lasts around six hours (so said the sales assistant who sold it to me, but then she would say that wouldn’t she?)

As a fruity floral, this smells like many others, but its strength is that the smellalike-ness (just made that word up) is to your advantage when the price is 9.99.  In other words if you like fruity florals, you may as well get Summer Bloom over the megapriced smellalikes in the higher price range that ultimately do the same job.

Here are the notes according to out trusty friends at Fragrantica:

Top notes: pear, water lily and ivy, middle notes: violet, jasmine and hortensia, base notes: cedar vanilla musk

What I actually got is this:  it opens as a fruity floral, with an emphasis on the floral rather than the fruity.  The fruit is actually pear, which is one of the least offensive fruity notes you can get (the worst offenders are synthetic red fruits). The flowers that come out are the jasmine and the violet.  The base is not really vanilla, cedar and musk, but a faded version of the top notes, but not too bad at all. Longevity is around three hours and a bit.

This is a case of the flanker being much better than the original.  If you’ve got a tenner and you’re feeling summery you could do a lot worse than this pretty and light scent.

The drawback is that this is hard to find and seems to be exclusively available in The Perfume Shop in the UK.  My fear is that this exclusivity will lead to low sales and discontinuing. This will be a shame, but since it only launched in April 2014, maybe there’s still time.


 PS In case you were wondering, hortensia is another name for hydrangea and  apparently has “clean, camphorous tonalities” according to Fragrantica.  Personally, I wouldn’t dwell on it, as the note wasn’t there, but I do love them in the garden and have therefore posted  a gratuitous photo of them.

Yves Saint Laurent Opium Old-vs-New:  The Verdict


  For a few days now I have been mulling over the comments of readers and my own response to old and new YSL Opium.  We’ve heard passionate arguments in favour of the older formulation, and several positive comments about the new one ( including from yours truly). Now that friend of the blog Lisa has kindly let me borrow her gorgeous bottle of old Opium ( see photo) and I have tried both the old and the new, I feel qualified to give my opinion.

New Opium is still a wonderful daytime scent that I would happily have on my dressing table. It’s widely available and there’s nothing wrong with it at all: it’s even suitable for daywear in August.

Old Opium, which I am wearing now, is indeed the “woah there” scent that friends of the blog Sally and Lisa argued so passionately in favour of and can only be had on eBay it would seem.  It’s a whopper with sillage that could kill a canary.  It’s shamelessly blousy and glamorous: like a drunk at a party- loud and unmissable but witty and fun.  It’s powdery and classic (some would say old fashioned, I say classic) and has done a trolley dash through the Oriental Perfume Ingredients Store and bought everything.  It’s fabulous and it was in its day, a groundbreaker.

Here’s my verdict:  New Opium is indeed a shadow of the Old Opium, to the point where it is in fact a lite version and should have been labelled as such.  New Opium is excellent in its own right but the very fact that I would recommend it for daywear even in August goes to show how weak it is compared to its night-time-only- it’ll-blow-your-socks-off original. What YSL should have done is kept old Opium intact and called new Opium by the name of a flanker such as Eau D’Opium or Opium Summer (In fact confusingly there is an Opium Summer-Eau d’été- a name which would have suited the current formulation)

I therefore declare YSL guilty of murdering a perfectly good scent and replacing it with an imposter.  A good imposter, but an imposter nonetheless.  They may be cousins  but  they don’t even look alike. *gavel*

Prada Candy Florale: A Clever Surprise

nd.24487   Remember that shampoo from the 80s that was called Once?  It was two tone and  you had to shake it before use and presto!  It was both shampoo and conditioner. Why did I think of Once when I was trying out Prada Candy Florale?  Mainly because Prada Candy Florale surprised me and completely changed half way through wearing it. nd.12426

I have reviewed Prada Candy  elsewhere in this blog (I won’t do a link to my own blog as it gets very weird),  and despite its name making me think it was going to smell like a sweet shop, it was  actually very good and not too sweet at all. Prada Candy was simply Musk, Benzoin and Caramel.

Prada Candy Florale has all of these but with added Peony and wait for it: Limoncello- that bitter, palate cleansing lemon liquer that you only drink in tiny shots. Prada Candy Florale doesn’t smell like a close relation to Prada Candy,

but the Florale bit is as good as its word.  Florale uses the prettiest and girliest of flowers: the Peony.  It does the job and it’s a safe bet if you’re not going for an edgy floral. Here’s what happens when you wear it:  it opens as a very pretty, almost green floral with dominant Peony and very little trace of Benzoin or Caramel or anything else really.

Then, and here’s the clever bit, it changes into a delightful lemon eau de cologne style scent that hangs around for about four hours.  The transitional bit is interesting: a sort of citrussy floral bouquet with a hint of creosote-y benzoin, but when it settles it smells so much like a lemon eau de cologne that I had to check which tester  I had used, thinking I must have sprayed one over the top of it.  

Prada Candy Florale impressed me a great deal.  Sometimes new launches are all so samey that I think I will always be buying old school scents from the bottom shelf for evermore.  But then something like this comes along and I applaud its audacity in not playing it safe.  I don’t like it enough to shove anything off my existing over crowded wish list, but thank you Prada for giving us something a bit new and a bit different.


PS My sample comes from the latest quarterly  Discovery Club Box from The Fragrance Shop. I love them- make it monthly Fragrance Shop!