The weather has been warm for a total of more than a day here in Wales and we have declared it Spring. Sartorially, Spring is always a problem. You can’t wear sandals with a trench coat but is two cardigans overdoing it? We don’t know. Scent-wise, it’s much easier. Warm weather means break out the citruses (like I needed an excuse).
Still smarting from the disappointment that Miller Harris Le Pamplemousse has been tragically discontinued, I managed to dry my eyes and give a wobbly sniffle when I tried Le Petit Grain. What do you know? In researchiong for this post, I find that Le Petit Grain is discontinued too! You can still buy it, but there won’t be any more by the look of things.
Bah. I’m going to review it anyway.
Petit grain is a bitter green flowery note extracted from the leaves and the unripe twigs of an orange tree. It’s not as sweet as blossom, nor quite as sour as pith, but if you want zingy, stop here and buy one.
Le Petit Grain bowls you over with every citrus it can throw at you. However, this simply gives me my Julie Andrews moment. I want to open the window and sing to the cartoon bluebirds when I wear this. There’s lavender, which offers a lovely clean feel and a nod in the direction of classic gentleman’s cologne. Herby notes include tarragon and rosemary which add a touch of English Country Garden. The base notes are oak moss, vetiver and patchouli, just missing the chypre genre by a whisker. This is sharp, herby and grassy by turns and I love it.
Miller Harris Le Petit Grain is a beautiful scent for summer, spring, or anytime you feel like an inner boost. It feels like therapy to wear it and fills me with optimism. I love it when that happens.
Miller Harris Le Petit Grain is available from Amazon UK and escentual.com and TK Maxx if you’re lucky. My sample is from my own collection and opinions are my own.
Flower by Kenzo just hasn’t been on my radar until I opened my Modern Classics Discovery Box from The Perfume Society. You know when something is so familiar that you don’t notice it anymore? Well that must be why I didn’t actually know what Flower by Kenzo smelled like until now. I see it everywhere and yet I pass by. Now I’ve finally taken time to stop and smell the Flower (sorry) What a revelation!
Flower by Kenzo opens with light citrus notes and atouch of herby hawthorn that beds down into soft violet and roses. Now, you might be thinking YSL Paris when you hear violet and roses, but this is more like very expensive luxury thrice milled talc. There is a deliciously clean powdery note that has what can only be called a “fluffiness” about it. It evoked memories of those talcum puffs I used to buy my late grandmothers- you know, a marabou puff in a little round box or tin. Gorgeousness.
The flowers in Flower by Kenzo are present but subdued, as if being inhaled through a diaphanous white veil. The base has a faint spice thanks to the frankincense, but even that’s a mere puff and a wisp. The overriding finish is one of powdery white musk with a hint of violets. This is the ultimate perfect day time scent. In fact, my dear teacher friend Janet (she’ll laugh when she sees this) wears this to work and I can’t think of a nicer way to scent a classroom. This iscomforting, pure, and makes you smell as if you come from a good home with fluffy towels and clean laundry.
Flower by Kenzo is indeed a Modern Classic. It suits all ages and would also make a great first perfume for a young fragrance rookie.
I tried this today in my local House of Fraser just after the school run. The bottle cried out, “own me!” so loudly that I nearly got whiplash. Like Snow White with a Bag for Life, I was rendered unable to pass such a beautiful tempting apple.
Luna is intended as the night time opposite to Nina Ricci Nina, which I have reviewed here. Now although Nina isn’t my thing, I love it because my wonderful niece Liz wears it and she is very special to me. I decided to give Luna a chance. I fell headlong for its looks.
On first spray, this is all synthetic citrus: not invigorating like lemon or grapefruit, more like Haribo Party Mix. The pear note burst forth and was rudely dominant, and then the vanilla and caramel poured in and rounded everything off.
In among the vanilla and pear is tiny bit of jasmine, sandalwood and musk, but all was indistinct and vague.
This is a fruity vanilla scent and is neither too strong nor too weak. It’s almost a confused gourmand. Many Fragrantica readers say that it is almost exactly like YSL Manifesto, so if you like that, you’ll like this too.
I can’t dislike Luna as it’s bang on trend right now, but I will politely sit this one out since overly vanilla fruity scents are not my scene, man.
The bottle, though- oh my days, that bottle! Who wouldn’t want a beautiful blue glass apple on their dressing table? With a tiny vapo spray that’s part of a gold apple stalk? It almost nudges Marc Jacobs Decadence off my list of favourites. Throw all the packaging medals at this one, but not too hard, because that beautiful glass is a work of art
I found this in House of Fraser, but it’s widely available. I used a tester (very thoroughly) and opinions are my own.
Well, this HAS been popular. I asked you to send in your perfume problems and you did and now we’re back for part three like olfactory gluttons. This week I’ll be looking at how to make Green Tea fragrances last longer and whether old perfume is OK to wear.
Reader Jane McLeod wrote to me and said:
Dear Aunty Sam,
I’m delighted to hear that green notes are coming back! My favourite note in perfume is the tea note, but despite an on/off relationship with both Bvlgari’s The Vert and Arden’s Green Tea they never last on my skin. I’ve hunted many tea perfumes down, but no luck. Sorry to send you back to yourAunty Sam role of the previous few blogs, but is there any tea fragrance that does last on the skin I wonder?
Please don’t be sorry, I love being Aunty Sam! Green Tea is one of those light hesperide notes that needs anchoring to stay put.
The perfect perfume brand for you would be Atelier Cologne. They take all these wonderful light notes that we love from colognes and use super long lasting ingredients that means even a citrus scent stays citrussy for up to 9 hours. You might like to try Atelier Cologne Oolong Infini. It’s a long lasting tea scent, although I don’t it’s Green Tea. Failing that, spray your usual Green Tea scent on clothes, collars, scarves, sleeves and/or hair.
Fabric often carries scent for longer than skin. You might like to try the new Body Shop Fuji Green Tea range. With lots of body products, you can layer and build your green tea scent for a longer lasting result.
Dear Aunty Sam,
I have a general perfume question. Does perfume ever go off?
I have a few bottles of scent, not all strictly perfume, but ranging from body spray to actual Eau de Parfum, which are open and which I’ve realized have been open for years. Medal of honour goes to a bottle of Joy by Jean Patou, a present from my Mum which is so gorgeous I’ve been saving it for special occasions – so much so that this bottle is coming up to seven years old. I must use it more often!
Does it matter? If they still smell nice in the bottle, are they safe to use?
Love from Eleanor
My dear Eleanor,
Now that’s a very interesting question and the answer is yes and no.
I have some wonderful vintage Balmain Jolie Madame that looks as if it’s over 50 years old. It still smells great. On the other hand, I recently bought a discontinued Body Shop fragrance called Aqua Lily from a car boots sale, which was most definitely “off” despite it being only a few years old. There was a scorched smell that didn’t lessen or go away.
The answer lies in storage. I f a scent has been kept in its box and fairly cool or at room temperature, it should be OK. If it’s been kept out of a box and stored on a windowsill or in direct sunlight, as I suspect my Body Shop find was, then it probably won’t be.
As a rule, many vintage scents were made before the seismic regulations of IFRA banned any remotely harmful ingredients, which means that nobody can guarantee vintage won’t give you a rash, so do a patch test first. The other advice applies to food past its best before as well as scent: use your nose. If it smells good, it probably is good.
PS Don’t save it for special occasions- wear it all the time!
Over to you
One thing I get asked most often is about smellalikes. Readers are often looking for a close match to a discontinued favourite, or a budget friendly match to a pricey special occasion scent. Either way, I’m your woman, so do write in if you have a question on any aspect of fragrance.
L’Occitane en Provence is one of my favourite brands and I was not surprised to discover that once again they have come up with the goods and produced yet another gorgeous fragrance. L’Occitane Terre de Lumiere encapsulates the perfect lazy summer day. Its evocative powers are as potent as a genie.
It was inspired by the “Golden Hour” i.e that bit before dusk where the sun starts to wane and you decide it’s not too early for a glass of special grape juice (ahem). To me though, this made me think of an English country garden with lavender bushes and birds chirping and bees quietly humming in the mixed borders, and “is there honey still for tea?”
Terre de Lumiere (land of sun) opens with bergamot, gentle musks and pink pepper. Apart from a clean citrus blast of fuzzy lime though, this marches straight into honey and lavender territory and this is really its main characteristic. Lavender and honey go so brilliantly well together that I don’t know why it isn’t done more often. This just hums with July heat and lazy bees. I’m also heartened to see the lavender being used, as I think its vastly underrated and underused.
The base of Terre de Lumiere is vaguely gourmand, but in a warm, nutty way, rather than a sticky cakey vanilla way. I hope my technical language isn’t blinding anyone with science today! There are almonds and tonka in the base, but to be honest, the lavender and honey are the Taylor and Burton of this movie and nobody else gets much of a look in.
This is a beautiful summer scent, but beware! Wearing it makes you want to be very lazy and seek out a hammock and a cold drink.
Every quarter, for the small sum of five pounds, I receive a Discovery Box from the Fragrance Shop Discovery Club. Sometimes there are fragrances I’ve already tried and sometimes there are lovely surprises. Either way, I’ve been a member since December 2013 and I always will be.
This month’s box contains six samples, as well as a five-pound voucher off a full bottle of any of your favourites from the box. So far, my clear favourite is Elizabeth Arden White Tea.
Here’s what’s in the box
Elizabeth Arden White Tea
As you know Elizabeth Arden Green Tea has been a classic since it came out in 1999. Green Tea was created by none other than His Majesty Francis Kurkdjian, and it has genius simplicity written all over it. There have been many flankers, and I’ve liked all of them. When I saw White Tea was now A Thing, I worried that they may have “over-flanked” themselves, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Elizabeth Arden White Tea is light, airy and floaty and smells like a pure white room in a dream home. There’s clean white musks and sea notes and light notes of white tea. This is like a spa in a bottle. This will be on my dressing table very soon.
Jimmy Choo L’Eau
This is in a similar vein to DKNY below, but is slightly sweeter and delicately tiptoes onto the very edges of the gourmand spectrum. I wrote about this last month and you can read my review here. It’s pretty and light and floral, and I predict it’ll be a big hit this summer.
DKNY Be Tempted Eau so Blush
DKNY Be Tempted Eau So Blush is a light and feminine scent that has a fruity floral opening and big peony notes in the middle- and peony is going to be big this year. The base is woody and fruity with apricots and musk. This is a perfect daytime scent and ideal for work. It almost demands to be worn with a pretty frock.
Marc Jacobs Decadence
Marc Jacobs Decadence comes in such a fantastic bottle that when I first saw it, I almost didn’t care what it smelled like, I just wanted that bottle. Luckily, it smells pretty good with its saffron and plums and a vetiver and musk base. If you like Marc Jacobs Daisy, don’t buy this blind as they’re very different. Decadence is fabulous for the evening whilst Daisy is lighter and better as a daytime fragrance.
This one certainly lives up to its name. “Wow” was the first word I said when I sniffed it. It opens with sharp lime and aromatic cardoman, and settles as a slightly gourmand, warm vanilla, via peppery geranium and dry grassy vetiver. Despite not having any leathery notes, this reminded me of Dior Fahrenheit, only Joop!Wow! is sharper and with more citrus. I loved it. I sprayed it on me, my husband and my ten-year-old son. Unanimous thumbs up! We all smell great.
I was surprised when I saw this as I thought “Hmm, Invictus is pretty intense anyway, what could they possibly do to make it bigger?”The answer, my friends, is that they turned up the volume and tweaked some knobs until it knocked out every canary within a fifty mile radius. Invictus Intense is similar to the original, but cranked up to the power of ten. The salt notes are very prominent. It’s dry and masculine and not pretty. It reminded me a lot of Paco Rabanne One Million Intense. If this sounds like your cup of tea, please use sparingly. For all our sakes.
The Discovery Club is easy to join with no long term red tape. Just join to get your box and cancel if you want to. But I bet you won’t! I’ve been getting these boxes for four years and the flat box they come in fits through the letterbox so it won’t end up in the Post Office depot if you’re out.
Welcome to the first joint blogging project by MoodScent4! We are four perfume bloggers based in France, Holland, England and Wales who will be posting on a different joint subject every couple of months. Each time we will individually pick a selection of five or so fragrances to fit a particular mood or occasion. You’ll find links to the other blogs at the end of the post.
We hope you have fun reading our different choices and adding your own in the comments.
Dear readers, and by that, I mean my beloved existing readers, and hopefully some new ones too.: Welcome!
I have not been hijacked. I am excited to be a part of a new seasonal collaboration with three excellent bloggers, whom you may already know if you are fume heads, fragonerds or perfumistas. Megan, Tara, Esperanza and me will all be putting our own take on a scent theme and our first one feels particularly relevant to your favourite Welsh perfume blogger (I hope that’s me).
Wales, as you may know, is very green and lush and this is because it rains like mad. I therefore feel like an expert when I talk about Rainy Day Scents. Here’s my pick of five rainy day scents and the reasons behind my choices:
1 Library of Fragrance Paperback
Hearing the rain patter against the window makes me long for a window seat and a good book. In my mind’s eye I am a painting called “woman with book”, but in reality I haven’t got a window seat and I might steal five minutes on my phone Kindle whislt stirring spag bol, feeding the cat and kicking the dishwasher shut if I’m lucky.
Library of Fragrance Paperback has the vaguely coconutty smell of the aged page of a book. It’s more Hay on Wye than Waterstones, and I love it for that. You can read my review here,
2. Miller Harris La Pluie
You know how some perfume gives you vivid pictures in your head? La Pluie made me think of cosy houses, red buses and puddles, It’s enormously comforting, despite being inspired by the tropics. I found it terribly, terribly English and thoroughly beautiful. You can read my thoughts here.
3. Elizabeth Arden White Tea
Not a typo. Not a drill. The classic Elizabeth Arden Green Tea has a new friend called White Tea, which I tried earlier last week. You may recall my post about floaty white fragrances, and had this been known to me then, I most certainly would have included it. Elizabeth Arden White Tea is a soft, clean musk that makes you feel like you are wearing clean white cotton and living in clean white rooms: neither of which matches the reality of my life, but this scent is the one I want to wear when the weather’s gone to hell outside and I want to feel calm within.
4. Marina Barcenilla India
I reviewed this gorgeous spicy woody scent recently and it is exactly what you need when the rain is lashing down outside and you want to remember what heat and warmth smells like. This will make you feel snug as a bug in a rug. On my skin, India unfolds like a dance of the seven veils. How it starts is not how it ends, which also sums up the kind of film you should curl up and watch whilst wearing this cosy blanket of a scent.
4160 Tuesdays Aquamarine Wave
When I reviewed this recently, the working name was Sea Goddess. It’s not officially released yet, as it’s part of a crowd funding project that you can take part in. However, this is the best marine scent I think I have ever smelled and when the drizzle through the window looks unwelcoming, it’s good to remind myself that summer days on the beach will be mine to enjoy soon. One day. Maybe not today, Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not until August, but one day. And Wales has ALL the best beaches.
Find out what my MoodScent 4 colleagues have to say on rainy day scents right here:
I am particularly delighted that this piece marks my 800th post on this blog. I can think of no lovelier way to mark it than by collaborating with these three wonderful bloggers. Moodscent 4 will be a seasonal and occasional project throughout the year, so I do hope that you will enjoy this one and look forward to the next one.
PS Normal Iscentyouaday service will be resumed tomorrow.
How about you?
What are your favourite rainy day scents? Do let us know. We’d love to hear from you.
I was recently sent a bottle of Clive Christian 1872 For Women to see what I thought of it. I already had friendly feelings towards the brand as I had met the legendary Keith at the Clive Christian desk at Fortnum and Mason. He knows the brand better than I know myself.
My second visit to the same desk yielded a fascinating tour of the scents and some samples from the lovely Tamara. Both were charming and did not appear to mind that I did not (could not) purchase a bottle.
Let’s get the awkward money chat out of the way right now- this stuff is really expensive. Doesn’t mean we can’t sniff anf enjoy though. In fact, if you did have money to invest in scent, you could do a lot worse than Clive Christian with its rich heritage dating from, yes, you’ve guessed it, 1872. Even Queen Victoria let the company use the image of her crown as a symbol of quality, and she could be pretty grumpy.
So, what does it smell like?
The first thing that makes its presence felt with 1872 is citrus and herbs, namely lemon and rosemary. Rather than give this a culinary feel, however, it gives it a light, clean sorbet opening. It cleanses the palate before you’ve eaten the entrée.
The middle note brings out the chorus of jasmine and freesia, but the big diva here is the Rose de Mai. Whilst this precious rose is very much in the room, there is something cold and metallic about 1872. Maybe because it smells faintly aquatic, or because it lacks a warmth- I don’t know. Sometimes, in the hot weather, a cold scent is what you need to cool down so I declare this an excellent scent for summer, (if memory serves. Haven’t seen sun for a loooong time).
As the base notes kick in, this becomes a floral lemon/lime melange. It smells crisp and cool, like pressed linen, and with only a trace of the oak moss I was hoping to be enveloped by. The base then settles like a sunset into richer notes: a hit of patchouli and a satisfying fix of dark guaiac wood.
Some Fragrantica readers reckon that this smells a bit like Calvin Klein CK One. Now, whilst I can see similarities, Clive Christian 1872 has more depth and resonance and far more complexity. I have always found CK One to be a bit shrill on me, in any case.
All in all, if I had a money tree in my garden like my children think I have, then yes, this beautiful green and gold bottle would live happily on my dressing table, and I’d let it bring all its friends.
Clive Christian is available from Fortnum and Mason or from Harrods. My bottle is on loan and opinions are my own. Which rhymes.
Thank you to Claudia: this is on its way back after its little holiday chez IScent.
Avon Far Away is Avon’s best-selling perfume by a country mile. Even the flankers are good. You may recall my review of Avon Far Away Infinity and Avon Far Away Exotic. Today I am reviewing Avon Far Away Bella, and let me just say that it won me over as soon as I saw that it was wearing a little scarf.
So how does it smell? Pretty darn good, especially when you think that I bought it from a recent Avon brochure for the princely sum of five pounds for a 50ml Eau de Parfum.
Did I mention longevity? Around six or seven hours, so a few squooshes in the morning should set you up for the day. Incidentally, don’t expect this to resemble the original Far Away, which is a cosy feast of vanilla and coconut, because it doesn’t.
Avon Far Away Bella opens with a refreshing fruity note, namely oranges. This lacks a sickliness that some fruity overtures can have. So often the red berries and the pink pepper brigade can drown any notes to come, but this mandarin note is rather pretty and uplifting. The middle goes floral, and we’re talking magnolia, so again, not too sweet, and not too heady. I definitely got a blast of jasmine too. The base is simply tonka bean. This is a hay like note with a faint background of almondy vanilla notes. In Far Away Bella, the use of tonka instead of ubiquitous vanilla extract is an understated touch that I appreciated. You may have gathered by now that too much vanilla turns me off, but this is a pleasant sweetness blended with a light hand.
Over on Fragrantica, some readers are saying that it reminded them of Gucci Flora Glamorous Magnolia, no less, as well as Yves Saint Laurent Cinema Festival. I have smelled neither, so cannot comment, but these people usually know what they’re talking about.
My verdict is that Far Away Bella is a heck of a gem and a heck of a bargain. It’s a light and pretty fruity floral that smells very current and holds back on the sugar. I reckon the youngsters will go for this, as well as the 47 year old perfume bloggers. Nicely done, Avon.
How about you?
How about you? Do you have a favourite Avon fragrance? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
You can find Far Away Bella on Avon UK, or from your Avon rep, if you have one, or on eBay. The current brochure price is £9 but this can vary from month to month, depending on offers. I purchased my own bottle and opinions are my own.
For a long time now, I have been searching for the perfect marine scent. It has to remind me of the sea, be invigorating and NOT smell like cucumber. Doesn’t seem like too much to ask, does it? But apparently it is. Or was. Read on Macduff.
Before I go on, I’d like to ask if any of you remember a shampoo made by Boots Naturals called Sea Kelp? I used to adore that scent and used it until they stopped making it. I can’t even find an old photo on Pinterest. It was a beautifully scented shampoo that had marine notes and made my hair smell so good that I often wished they made a perfume of it.
Many times have I have sniffed something in a vageuly aquamarine coloured bottle and thought, “maybe this will smell like Sea Kelp shampoo?” and been disappointed. Cucumber and melon- yes. Sea notes? No.
However, I recently received a small glass phial ( vial or phial? you can use either, I checked) of a scent that is currently being called “Sea Goddess”. This may or may not be its final name: it’s still in development at the hand of Sarah McCartney at 4160 Tuesdays.
Sea Goddess opens with a burst of citrus. I could discern sharp lemon and bitter grapefruit: the kind that makes you do an involuntary wink when you eat it first thing in the morning. This wakes you up and prepares you for the swishy swish of sea notes that follow.
Sea notes are hard to define and are often subjective, but here’s my take on them here: with an invigorating tang and a hit of saltiness, Sea Goddess makes you wish you were next to the sea and makes you feel an urgent need to down tools and find some surf , like a Bisto kid following his nose.
It is rare to find a sea note perfume that is as on the button as this one . What gives it that unique 4160 Tuesdays touch is a dose of Britishness towards the end. There is an almost, but not quite, dirty tang of seaweed towards the bottom. Rather than put me off, this adds to its authenticity. This is how the seaside really smells.
We can romanticise the white crests of foam as the waves crash, and we can imagine ourselves getting a revitalizing burst of ozone into our poor urban lungs, but don’t forget what the beach really smells like. There’s salt and wet sand and sea weed. It’s all here, my friends. Because a real Sea Goddess will get sand on her fins and seaweed on her arms.
This is the ultimate sea note scent. No cucumber. No melon. This is the sea and the beach, captured in a glass vial like a snow globe.
This is nearly available from 4160 Tuesdays, but not quite yet. It may be given a different name, but I will let you know. Talk about a teaser! Sorry about that. My sample rollerball phial was from Sarah herself, for which, my deep gratitude. Opinions are my own.
UPDATED 31st March 2017
Sea Goddess is to be called Aquamarine – Waves and is available via this link. I’ll see you in the queue! I’m buying a couple of gallons.