All posts by iscentyouaday

Chanel No 22 : Smothered By A Bridal Veil

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My immediate and accusatory reaction on smelling Chanel no 22 was “Pierre Bourdon– is this your doing?” but on this occasion, my perfume Nemesis Bourdon was Not Guilty.  This is in fact the work of Errnest Beaux, and was created in 1922. It has since been relaunched as part of the Les Exclusifs line, but I am reviewing the pre relaunch version.

This is feminine, soft and pure. It’s how I imagine the colour white would smell. It has Lily and Neroli and is very heavy on the Iris. There is a metallic note in the opening too, which made me think of silver.  It has sweetness too, but the sweetness of a blooming bouquet of White Flowers into which you have fallen nose first on a hot stifling day and cannot escape from. It is, in my opinion, a little de trop. However, it has more fans than I do, so I must gracefully concede and bow to the genius of Monsiuer Beaux.

The truth is, (whisper if you dare), that I cannot bear this stuff and had to wash it off. The reason for this is something I alluded to in my introduction above. This smells way too much like my much loathed Iris Poudre by, yes you’ve guessed it, Pierre Bourdon. Now although he didn’t create Chanel no 22, it is impossible for me to believe that he had never smelled it before he rolled his sleeves up in the lab and got creative. The heavy Iris, the Musk base, the stifling sweetness- to me this equals Iris Poudre.  It is clear to me that I must one day review  Pierre Bourdon for Frederic Malle Iris Poudre (to give it its full title)   since it keeps recurring through my reviews like a baddie in a Pantomime. Watch this space.

So Chanel No 22, you’re pretty and nice, but you make me want to breathe real Oxygen and open a window.

Guerlain Vol de Nuit: The Perfume of Perfumes

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Vol de Nuit (Night Flight), was created in 1933 by Jacques Guerlain himself. It’s a very hard fragrance to review because it does not fall nicely into a specific genre.  It is however, utterly classic and vintage and beautiful. If I had to explain perfume to an alien visiting our planet, I would just let them smell Vol de Nuit. It kind of explains what perfume is and should be.

The opening is spicy and aldehydic, with a nod to bergamot and a passing wisp of citrus lemon. You can tell that Vol de Nuit is related to Jicky. They are first cousins, at least during Act One. Then old fashioned powdery notes sidle in, followed by sandalwood and spicy carnation. Finally this marvellous radiant symphony calms down into iris, sandalwood, violets and musk, but still hangs on to the carnation spice and slightly bitter orris root, so earthy and pungent.

This lasts and changes and evolves. It has been on my wrist all day and never left me. It is, quite frankly, a classic of the fragrance world and to leave this out of the Greats would be like leaving Mozart out of a classical music Hall of Fame.

You can tell that Vol de Nuit comes from the same family as the other Heritage Guerlains, Jicky (1889) and Mitsouko (1919). I sometimes have problems with both since I haven’t yet trained my modern, sanitised nostrils to adjust themselves as necessary. Both need to be smelled within the context of their time in order for their greatness to be appreciated. However the slightly later Vol de Nuit (1933), is instantly accessible today and by far my favourite Guerlain.

You could call it Oriental as it certainly has spice. You could call it an Aldehyde: after all, it’s green and soapy. You could call it a Floral: replete with Narcissus,  iris, carnation and violet. Or you could call it one of the most beautiful and versatile fragrances of all time, if you are me.

There are a lot of perfume houses around today that could learn a thing or two at the knee of Grande Dame Vol de Nuit. When I wear it, I want to don fox fur and red lipstick and smoke cigarettes, but being a kind non smoker, I will just have to settle for the red lipstick. Wearing this transports me from stressy normal life and makes me want to be enigmatic and silent at the the bar of the Hotel Meurice until handsome men buy me drinks.

Vol de Nuit. Night Flight. The scent of your dreams.

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You can buy Vol de Nuit from  Fragrancenet.com and  John Lewis

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Vera Wang Lovestruck Floral Rush: Nothing to See Here, Move Along…

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Vera Wang Lovestruck Floral Rush is Vera Wang Lovestruck with the volume turned up and a squoosh more synthetic musk. It doesn’t last very long. I have been using a 1.2 ml sample today and it ran out at lunchtime.

I smelt the original Vera Wang Lovestruck at a beauty counter recently and had almost no reaction to it. The impact was mild. It’s another light floral. There’s lots of them around right now. I went about my business as if nothing had happened. The day I wore Cinnabar and Lanvin Rumeur, to name but two, I couldn’t get my nose from my wrist. When I tried Lovestruck Floral Rush, I guess I was left waiting for it to live up to its name. There’s nothing new here. This is pulp fiction for the modern perfume consumer.

It sounds very glamorous with its top note of Champagne Darling, and it’s Passion Flower and Marigold. The base claims to be Cashmere Woods, Musk and White Amber. However, whilst I did catch some synthetic and rather cheap smelling Musk, I would still describe this as a light  modern floral whose only USP is it’s fabric sprig on the lid.

Vera Wang is globally famous for her exquisite bridal gowns and I can see that this simple and inoffensive  scent (I’m trying not to say bland) would be a good bridal fragrance since it would neither offend or dominate. But sometimes I WANT to offend and dominate, dammit!

Lovestruck Floral Rush– wear and conform. Zzzz.

Givenchy Organza: Falling In Love Again, Never Wanted To…

 

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What am I to do? I can’t help it. The perfume quest bears similarities to life itself. It has chapters and passionate phases which burn bright and fade to ash. It is often littered with disappointments and dashed hopes, but contains bursts of joy and contentment and if you’re very lucky, an occasional thunderbolt of deep love that leads to a lifelong companionship.

Just yesterday, I was struck by a thunderbolt. I fell in love. I didn’t mean to. It wasn’t convenient, and I can assure you with some vehemence, that I sure as hell wasn’t dressed for the occasion.

It happened in Boots the Chemist. I was rain spattered and cold and you really don’t want to know what I was wearing. Let’s just say I was built for comfort and not for speed that day. I sighed as I looked at all the new fruity florals promising the same old same old. Then I saw a familiar bottle that looked like it had come out of retirement. With the strange Greek looking bottle, created in 1992, it wasn’t one I see regularly on the glass tester shelf. I had a vague memory of trying it around the time of it’s launch and thinking well of it, but not pursuing it further. I was younger back then. I’ve changed now.

Fast forward to my local Boots yesterday: I sprayed once and fell in love with it. I sprayed again, on both wrists, and on my coat sleeves as well. It was love all right. I’d been shot with cupid’s arrow.  Givenchy Organza is a perfect balance between White Flowers, namely Peony, Gardenia, and its non identical twin Tuberose, coupled with White Woods, dark Guaic woods, Amber and Nuts. I’ll say it again: “nuts”. This is not too Woodsy, as the Flowers calm it down. It’s not too Flowery as the Woods and Amber spice it up. The Walnut and Nutmeg add an oiliness with a hint of woody bitterness. The bitterness is taken on by the soft Florals, and so it comes full circle…Somehow the perfect balance has been achieved. This adorable and wearable Oriental Floral has had me sniffing my coat sleeve and afraid to wash my arm for two days. (Note- I have washed my arm, you may have no fears on that score. Your blogger is both spotless and fragrant, dear reader).

There are other Oriental Florals, sure, but this one stopped me in my tracks. It’s strong, yet pretty, and has resonance and depth. It’s perfume-y in the way I remember my mother and her friends smelling when I was growing up: exotic and heady. However, it is sweetened up by the flowers, and not merely an Oriental Spice like say, Opium or the wonderful Cinnabar. 

I love it so much that my immediate fear is that it may be discontinued and I will need to shoplift great crates of the stuff. (Another Note: I do not advocate crime and speak of shoplifting only to describe an impulse. Other methods of procurement are available). However, this is a healthily non-cheap price: just under £30 for 30ml, and seems to be widely available. At the moment.  My fragrance abandonment issues may come from a total inability to forgive Gucci for discontinuing the unique and beautiful Gucci Envy. A moment of silence please for a lost and perfect jewel. (Well, sometimes it’s on eBay, but even those are dying out).

I have had lots of perfume flings. I’ve bought bottles that I have liked, used, and then parted with on good terms. I have perfumes I am friends with, and will always have in my life, but am not in love with. However, only four times have I ever truly fallen in love and entered into a long term relationship with a fragrance. I’m not a total slut- I know all of their names: Chanel Cristalle, Gucci Envy, Eau de Cartier and now, Givenchy Organza. I need it in my life. I think it’s serious. All I have is my coat sleeve, like half a phone number on the back of a soggy bus ticket.

Organza will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine.

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Vivienne Westwood Anglomania: Ladylike and Slutty.

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This is an interesting one. Like all my favourite fragrances, this is one of those scents that changes as you wear it, rather than staying static. When I first applied this, I thought little of it, then glibly dismissed it as a smell-a-like of Gres Caberet i.e another Rose Musk. Pretty but nothing to email home about. How wrong I was. Well not totally, as it IS a sort of Rose Musk.

Vivienne Westwood Anglomania has a trick up its perfumed Kimono sleeve. I sprayed some on my skin and some got on my clothes as I did so. As the day wore on, the musk emerged, as did a hint of pretty and old fashioned flora: rose and peony. How very ladylike, I thought to myself. However, as it wore off on my skin and warmed up on my clothes, I realised that this begins to smell intimate and a bit…well…private. This is not in the knicker gusset league of Worth’s Courtesan, it’s more an impression of being too physically close to someone you don’t know very well. There’s a slight bit of discomfort, with a shiver of the forbidden.

The musk smells like you accidentally stuck your nose in someone’s cleavage and although you feel terribly awkward and British about it, a dark and secret part of you enjoyed it. The musk suggests closeness to skin, intimacy, as if the wearer is gently breathing down your neck or leaning over you. And this is the secret that Anglomania has up its camisole. It’s pretty and ladylike with a rather rude side, like a piano teacher with no knickers on.

The musk reminds me of Frederic Malle’s Iris Poudre, the closeness of which I find nothing less than claustrophobic. However, Anglomania has a nice aftertaste of incense smoke, like the faint dust left behind by a spent joss stick on a cold windowsill, with a tiny pot of wilting violets next to it.

Many people get leather notes from this, but I was not one of them. To me, this is a Floral Musk with a hint of Violets and Powder, delicate and intimate, with a dirty wink.

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Jo Loves…The Summing Up and The Verdict

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I enjoyed getting to know the eight fragrances in this new collection from Jo Malone (the woman, not the brand). They are distinctive in that the number of notes in these fragrances is minimal. Some only have one. It’s about simplicity  It’s about balance. The range is varied enough to avoid being a mainstream crowd pleaser, but has enough genres to keep people interested.

Despite having reviewed 74 fragrances so far, there are actually very few full bottles on my dressing table.  Many are samples, or borrowed, and some are my own beloveds.  I cannot see myself buying a full sized (100ml) bottle of any of the Jo Loves range, but I might consider a 30ml bottle of Pomelo or Mango Nectar.  Pomelo because although I’m sure it’s been done before, I was rather charmed by Grapefruit and Suede together.  Mango Nectar I might buy just for fun on a sunny day.  It’s not a serious perfume, I doubt you could wear it to a board meeting, (Oh go on, why not?”) but sometimes a single note done exceptionally well can have a place in any perfume wardrobe. I would also consider the Gardenia in the same way. It’s a bit like having a well cut pair of trousers in your wardrobe, plain and essential, but once you accessorise and wear them with other things, they can work much better.

It’s not clear what future Jo has in mind for these products, but a sample set would eliminate any criticism of “inaccessibility”. Currently a website and showroom by appointment is all there is.  Fans will be hoping for a franchise, I am sure. There’s the exclusivity of niche, and there is cold shouldering eager customers. It’s a fine line.

Jo Loves…Pink Vetiver

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A combination of Pink Pepper and Vetiver, Jo Loves…Pink Vetiver allegedly has nine different notes. I can smell two, and they are, as you might imagine, Pink Pepper and Vetiver. This is a manly, almost abrasive scent that has excellent longevity. I often find that the Law of Sod dictates that a disagreeable fragrance has excellent longevity to the point where it won’t leave you alone even after a shower, whilst favoured scents can disappear within an hour.

 Pink Vetiver is not dissimilar to an inexpensive fragrance that I bought for my husband a year ago.  Patrick Dempsey Unscripted is made by Avon, and smells rather good on him. As I suspected, the dominant note is Vetiver. Sadly, it smells scratchy and dreadful on me.

Pink Vetiver is unchanging: linear, you could say, and the spiky Vetiver just beds in and won’t go home. I’ve got my pyjamas on, I’m brushing my teeth, but Mr Vetiver just won’t get the hint. I guess I’ll just have to leave him in the dark and go to bed.

It’s not a bad fragrance at all, but if you don’t like Vetiver, you’ll never be friends with this one.

Jo Loves…Green Orange and Coriander

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This is more like it. I love the smell of fresh Coriander leaves and they are certainly discernible Jo Loves Green Orange and Coriander. It’s blatantly unisex and would smell good on either male or female. It’s a clean bathroom-y sort of smell like expensive candles or high end citrussy bath oils in a five star hotel. Again, like all fragrance in the Jo Loves range, this is quite linear. Unlike a moody, changeable Serge Lutens, for example, what you apply at breakfast is what you still smell of at lunch. Inexplicably, my first thought after spraying was of Imperial Leather soap, but then the Coriander and Orange burst in at the same time, in equal measure. To my delight, the Orange is sharp and juicy, rather than sweet and sherbety. There is a bit of Oakmoss in there to make it slightly earthy, even masculine. It’s has definite zing, but is somewhat grounded nicely by the Oakmoss. All in all, it’s good and stays good. Longevity is very impressive: around seven hours for two sprays. (I still say I can smell a faint whiff of Imperial leather though, but don’t tell anyone, it might just be me).

This is my second favourite Jo Loves fragrance after Pomelo.

Jo Loves… Gardenia: Lonely Without its Other Half

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 This is a beautiful, white, fresh Gardenia that goes on and stays on a long, long time. It’s clean, almost bridal in its purity and as a White Flower note, it’s hard to beat. I was, however, looking for its sister Tuberose. The two are so often seen together that it’s odd seeing one of them alone. No matter, I’ve always secretly preferred Gardenia when faced with the two. It’s nice to see her on her own without her slightly cloying sister.

 I would say this is a very good, unchanging fragrance of a single note. It is a Gardenia linear soliflore. It doesn’t change, but sometimes you want that in a perfume. This is not my favourite Jo Loves, my heart belongs to changeable Pomelo, and I have smelt Gardenia before so many times that I feel, as beautiful and pretty as this is, I’ve been here before.  If you want to smell of Gardenias all day long without having to top up, this is for you.