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Champs Elysees: Guerlain, how could you?

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Luca Turin hates Guerlain Champs Elysees. HATES IT. However, I don’t always agree with him so I went ahead anyway. I mean it’s Guerlain so it can’t be bad , right? (apart from La Petite Robe Noire, which smells of cherries and Caramac, but that’s for another day). It can’t be awful if it’s Guerlain, can it?

Well it is. If you told me some famous popsy invented this on the back of an album tour on a limited budget for maximum publicity, I’d believe you. In a blind test, if you asked me which is the Guerlain, I would dismiss this with an instant snort and say “well it’s definitely not THAT one, no way is that a Guerlain”. And I’d be sadly mistaken.

It almost goes without saying that Guerlain has made some true greats that have stood the test of time and succeeded through generations, passing the torch of good taste from woman to woman down the decades. Take Jicky for example, rumoured to be a favourite of Jackie Onassis and created in 1889, or the perennial L’Heure Bleu, created in 1920 and still going strong, or the heavenly Apres L’Ondee, still beautiful after 106 years.

And then there’s Champs Elysees. Created in 1996 and a melting pot, it would seem, of every note they could manage outside the oriental bracket. Can I just ask: why  the melon note? Why? Why have they put melon in there with lilac and peaches and lily of the valley and almonds and anything else they could find lying round the house or garden that day?

This is not to be mistaken for the original Champs Elysees created by Jacques Guerlain in 1904. The only similarity is the name. The modern version was created by Olivier Cresp, who has a lot to answer for , since he is also guilty of creating Angel. (Don’t get me started on Angel, that Marmite of perfumes that divides so vigorously).

If you want Guerlain at its best, get the early ones. A hundred years of women can’t be wrong.

Champs Elysees? turn left and avoid. Much too busy.

Rochas Soleil Rochas: It’s Patchouli Jim, but not as we know it

o.2420I bought this blind, not having seen it around anywhere, but if I’m honest, I was attracted to its affordability. I researched reviews and lists of notes on Fragrantica and finally took the plunge for the princely sum of £11.95 for 75ml.

I was not disappointed. I wore it in the morning, I wore it in the evening, and I wore it at bedtime. Although I often say I am repelled by the raft of fruity florals flooding the market, when the fruit is orange, I make an exception.  Rochas Soleil Rochas is a light patchouli wrapped in orange and orange blossom with a hint of rose. There’s none of that ghastly powdery-ness and it remains fresh despite having a hint of spice.

If you like Dior Dune, you may like this too. For some reason I can smell or sense a sandiness to both scents. Not the seaweed, salty type, but more of a sunny, dusty scent that’s common to both. I don’t know they achieve this, but try it and see if you sense sand too.

Soleil was created in 2008, and  was intended as a floral chypre, recreating a sunny day in Paris. Notes include pear, orange blossom, tuberose and pink pepper. What I get is orange blossom and patchouli., with a hint of tuberose, but added delicately, not in its usual heady way. It’s a definite favourite, although I think more of a summer scent than a winter one. Having said that, the patchouli adds just enough spice for you to get away with it, although the people who smell you will be inspired to go and look at holiday brochures shortly after you waft past, without knowing why.

Jesus del Pozo Ambar- Orange and Spice and All Things Nice

nd.9315I bought Jesus Del Pozo Ambar  after developing a penchant for amber notes via  Ambre de Cabochard by Parfums Gres (more of which at a later date). I bought it blind, wanting something stronger than a light floral as the nights drew in.  I wasn’t disappointed.

My first thought as I unwrapped the gorgeous amber glass bottle and sprayed was “Cointreau”. Those of us who no longer discuss our age may remember the fabulously glamorous adverts from the 80s. “Ah cointreau, the ice melts…”. So immediately I had a trip down memory lane with a burst of alcoholic orange liqueur.

However, creator Marie Salamagne stops this from being sickly and keeps it fresh and light with the addition of cardoman and bergamot. It stays aromatic rather than cloying, although the hint of vanilla has been used sparingly (phew).

Although there are allegedly notes of Peony in Ambar, I don’t get flowers in this at all. It’s clean and masculine and almost herbal, and could, in my opinion  easily pass for a men’s eau de toilette.  It’s odd how the ultra feminine Eau de Cartier is targeted at a unisex market, yet this crisp citrus/spice scent is aimed solely at women.

Oh and the amber is here, of course. It’s warm and wintery and the bitter orange stops it being too thick and heavy.

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality since I bought my 30ml bottle for less than £10 from allbeauty.com, although they only seem to have the more expensive large bottles now. If you can find the small bottles again, they are worth having in your scent wardrobe. I can honestly say I have never seen this for sale on any High Street in the UK, although those of you who live in or near cities may have done so. I  don’t myself, so I often buy online via eBay or even Amazon.

Jesus del Pozo was incorporated in 1974 and sadly, the man himself passed away in August 2011 but not before firmly cementing his award winning reputation in his native Spain and in 120 countries worldwide.  His most famous scent is J del Pozo Halloween, named for its completion date rather than for any gory ingredients or notes.

The business carries on under new management true to his spirit.

Eau de Cartier-Eau Divine!

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Eau de Cartier was like a thunderbolt for me. A quest for a perfect perfume becomes addictive.  Fighting my way through a forest of celebrity fruity florals and past rivers of cloying vanilla and candy floss, Eau de Cartier was like finding a mirage in a desert.

The previous week I’d received a sample of Cartier Baiser Vole and was underwhelmed by its single note Lily that stayed linear and flat on me..  When  a sample of Eau de Cartier came my way, I wasn’t expecting to find a dream come true.

However, this fragrance floored me.   Like a jaded pioneer finding a gold nugget, I suddenly sat up and took notice.  It’s bergamot, but soft, it’s lavender but not in a detergent sense, it’s coriander, but the leaves not the spice, and finally, it’s a soft violet leaf, still wrapped in bergamot and smelling deliciously fresh.

Eau de Cartier stays light and airy and cuts through the heat of a summer day.  It’s like the fresh air outside an expensive florist in Spring.  I’m also glad that it stays true to its lightweight feel without resorting to the cucumber-melon route. I think they must have made it just for me.  I would like to thank Nose Christine Nagel for creating it in 2001, even though I was involved in a  serious relationship with Chanel Cristalle back then.

I was surprised to learn this is a unisex scent as I find it quintessentially feminine, but it has a male fanbase too. Fragrantica has reviews from both men and women.

Understated and classy, I would rather walk through a mist of this than today’s fruity, vanilla sodden smell-alikes that seem to scent every High Street. Next time you are in a perfumery or department store, ask to try a sample of this, especially in time for Spring.  You will feel wreathed in ethereal glory.

Stockists

You can buy this from Fragrance Direct or allbeauty.co.uk to name but a few.  Prices are very reasonable.

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LouLou? c’est moi.

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When it launched in 1987, Cacharel LouLou was a sellout. Its glamorously dark advertising campaign full of classy Louise Brooks images and its whisper of Bohemia  have made it a steady success for nearly 25 years. I recall buying it by the armful and wearing it by the bucketload as a goth-ish student in the late 80s and even now, whenever I wear it, it takes me back to those heady early years after leaving home and finding my way in the world.

LouLou seems to be loved and hated in equal measure, a bit like the ubiquitous Thierry Mugler Angel, yet it is highly rated by perfumistas, if not by early morning commuters.

So what does it smell like? It’s different for everyone but on me, the highest note at first spray is anise, followed by dark plum, blackcurrant, incense and tuberose. On paper, this may sound like a list, but it always makes me visualise some kind of Parisian nightclub in the 1920s. To me it’s a musky licorice, on others it’s vanilla and incense. It changes constantly throughout the day, although I still maintain it’s an evening scent, Oh, and do spare those early morning commuters, it’s way too much before cocktail hour.

The bottle is deliberately retro: it recalls Art Nouveau cinemas with their chunky and elegant towers and entrances. This is not surprising considering its muse was silent movie star Louise Brooks, star of Pandora’s Box, whose glossy chic bob started a phenomenon  Either way, it’s distinctive, and the thrill of buying the cellophaned box with its dark and naif flower motif has never left me.

I often find with LouLou that wearing it influences what I wear. Once I put it on, I have to wear black, with pillar box red lipstick. And I have to have adventures….

Cabotine cuts through the cold

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After yesterday’s grown up lady perfume, I decided I wanted something lighter and more playful as a contrast today.  Cabotine, from Parfums Gres, Paris, is an affordable classic if you like green notes. Created on a budget and with quiet publicity, it’s been a steady seller since it’s creation in 1990.

Despite its “Broccoli” lid, Gres Cabotine is fresh and almost bitter on first spray, but the drydown happens quickly. Its USP is the use of ginger lily. Unfortunately, this rare flower only  blooms for a few weeks each year so continuous production would have been a problem.  However, once a satisfactory synthetic substitute had been found, Cabotine was away and running.

The gingery note is barely perceptible  but enough to stop this from being  a plain common or garden “green” scent. What I get is carnation with the faintest of floral spice, but softened into something wearable and clean scented. A hint of soap, a big bunch of carnations, a pinch of ginger lily and a lasting, floral, green fragrance…that’s Cabotine.

Luca Turin might hate it, but I don’t.

Stockists

Cabotine is available from our friends at allbeauty.com right here and is jolly good value!

 

It’s Lanvin Arpege for a cold January day

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I have a small bottle of Lanvin Arpege, only 5ml. I have worn this and no other today. It is formal, cold even,  with a hint of talc and nail polish. Yet it makes me think of past glamour, of satin gloves, and a sipped glass with no lipstick marks. It smells like it’s been  archived on my late grandmother’s dressing table and brought to life again on my warm skin.

If I had to categorise it, I would say a rose musk,  an aldehyde with no sense of humour, but both sombre and beautiful at the same time. When you rank this against today’s raft of fussy and frilly fruity florals, it’s like pitching HEAT magazine against Charlotte Bronte. It’s Grace Kelly among the Kardashians.

I’d wear this to a funeral. But I’d also wear it to bed.