Category Archives: animalic scents

Dear Aunty Sam: Your Perfume Problems Part Five: Womanity & Travalo sprays

painting by John William Waterhouse
painting by John William Waterhouse

Well I never realised that I’d be answering perfume problems for s fifth time, but here I am. I guess I’ve opened a can of worms. Still, as a perfume blogger, it’s clearly my job to end olfactory suffering. Call me white rosethe Florence Nightingale of fragrance foibles. By the way, did you know that Florence Nightingale wore Floris White Rose? Florence Fact.

I’m going to answer two problems today.  Do join in if you have anything to add. I bow to your greater knowledge, my dear chums.

My first letter was from Dawn, who has kindly allowed me to quote from her email

Dear Aunty Sam,

I am in horrible mourning because I found out that Mugler absolutely stopped making Womanity. I tried wearing Jo Malone Wood Sage and Sea Salt but I hated it. Is there any way you can give me some fragrances to try that are as quirky as Womanity and that might actually dry down as wonderfully as Womanity did?

Dear Dawn,

Thank you so much for writing to me. First of all, for full disclosure, Womanity is very much not for me. However, there is no right or womanitywrong in perfume and if you need something, then I I want to get it for you. The two biggest notes in Womanity are caviar and fig. My suggestion is that you find a fragrance with caviar notes and layer a decent fig over the top. However, you told me that caviar scents are hard to find, and you’re right. It’s a pretty niche sort of note. If you wanted vanilla or jasmine I could write a list as long as my arm.

Looking at trusty Fragrantica, I can see that Diesel Bad For Men has a caviar note that smells “like a trickle of sweat down a man’s chiselled body”.  You could try layering this with Library of Fragrance Fig or L’Artisan Parfumeur Premier Figueur, which  has some of the woodiness of Womanity.

Now I’m not sure if this will work, so you may have to mix and layer until you find something you can live with. I do sympathise with you though. I am bereft at the loss of Gucci Envy ten years ago.

My other question was from the lovely Rachael, who asked a question that I once had myself until I figured it out.

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Dear Aunty Sam

I’ve been wondering how to decant stuff for ages to make it more amenable to carrying around. I have a tendency to buy ‘bargain’ 50 or 100ml bottles and then don’t want to lug it everywhere with me, particularly in hot weather, when you need extra top-ups, but carry less stuff!

Rachael

Dear Rachael,

if you don’t mind my using unladylike language, a Travalo travel spray has  a sort of  cat’s bum on its bottom. You take your 100ml bottle, remove the nozzle and stick it up the bottom of your Travalo, and then you pump away until its full.   No spill, no waste.  Hope this helps. Once you get stuck in, you’ll find half full Travalos all over the house!

 

 

How About You?

Do you have any advice of your own to add to these dilemmas?  Do you have any problems you’d like me to look into?  (perfume only please, ahem.)   Do let me know.  I always love to hear from you.

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How I Improved My Sense of Smell with The Perfume Society

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Some blog posts are very hard to write because I’m so afraid I won’t do them justice. This is one of them.  I was on such a high after coming back from the Perfume Society Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshop that I was neither use nor ornament for about 48 hours.

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If ever a scarf were the right scarf for an occasion, it was my perfume scarf. It smells good too!

First of all, The Perfume Society is three years old and is the only body of its type in the world.  They know this because they googled to find a perfume society before realising there wasn’t one. The Perfume Society is the brainchild of legendary beauty editor and writer Jo Fairley and her business partner Lorna McKay.  I have been reading Jo’s work since around 2000 ish,  before blogging was invented and  back when I was a One Scent woman.   10299686_1560529210840279_596234111_a

The workshops are not just exclusive to London, so it really is worth subscribing to The Perfume Society, if only to get access to The Scented Letter and Discovery Box discounts.  The workshop I attended was in the basement of The New Moon Tapas Bar in Clifton.

It was a wonderfully informative, but informal session that made me feel like I was BFFs with everyone around the table, and not just my real life BFF Lisa, who was also there.  Jo is an engaging speaker and delivers the workshop in an accessible and inclusive way that felt like a chat with a friend except with far more “Wow! I never knew that” moments.

You may think that having written 817 blog posts about perfume that I might know a lot.  Well I know about  1% of what I actually want and need to know.   However, you very much do NOT have to be a blogger in order to attend.   For one thing, the amount of experience and knowledge you need to attend the workshop is ZERO.  No experience required.

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My perfect afternoon. Jo Fairley took this so is sadly not in it. Photo courtesy of The Perfume Society.

So, what happens? Well, we were made comfortable with  refreshments and introduced ourselves, which wasn’t cringy like work training, but friendly like meeting your tribe. There were six of us altogether and it was especially lovely to meet Claire, who I have been following on Instagram and talking to on the perfume group Eau my Soul.

Jo explained that part of the mission of The Perfume Society is to put us back in touch with our sense of smell, referred to by Helen Keller as “The Fallen Angel of the Senses” and she was right.   Back when we were cavewomen, we could sniff out herbs, non-toxic berries and woolly mammoths, but now our sense of smell has been blunted by modern conveniences.

The workshop goes about starting us on the path to putting this right.  We did some very interesting sniffing, giving our impressions in an atmosphere in which there was no right or wrong.  There was also a very interesting exercise in which we tried minty Green and Black’s chocolate to see if it was smell or taste that gave us the minty hit.  The answer really surprised me.  Plus, you know, Green and Blacks. *swoon* (something else we have Jo to thank for).

The third section was the bring a bottle party.  Some of it was 80% proof. Yes, I’m talking fragrance.  Prior to attending, we were asked to bring a bottle of our favourite scent.  I had to be very strict with myself and put the wheelbarrow back before leaving the house with just one: Art de Parfum Gin &Tonic.

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Recognise any favourites?

My adorable colleagues, as I now thought of them,  brought a few each, so we had great fun diving on the stuff we hadn’t smelled yet and sharing opinions. On top of that we were given goody bags to take home. Reader, this was better than my birthday.

As if that wasn’t enough fun, we then got the chance to buy Discovery Boxes and the gorgeous Perfume Society Scented Skincare set at big discounts.  As if that wasn’t enough, we then go to visit a brand-new niche perfumery called Shy Mimosa, which I will write about separately, and where we also had a big discount.

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The tempting shelves at Shy Mimosa

So, was it worth it going?  Did I improve my sense of smell? Yes, and yes and it was wonderful and I had several OMG moments where I made surprising discoveries and oh, my stars, what a day!

If you ever get the chance to attend one, go.  Just go.  They’re not just in London and you don’t need to know anything beforehand. If there’s not one near you, then email The Perfume Society and tell them.   They will listen.  Unless you live alone on a remote island that can only be reached by catamaran at high tide.  Apart from that, if enough people clamour, then you never know…

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Fantastically Foxy: Foxy by DSH Perfumes

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Funnily enough, my children and I  were halfway through Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox when this arrived in the post.  I have been reading this book since the mid-seventies and it kept me company during several commutes in my twenties too.  This utopian story in which handsome Mr Fox overcomes adversaries brings both adults and children back to this classic story.  Also, it marks the only time in my life when I ended up with a bit of a crush on a charismatic fictional wild animal.

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The original book I grew up with

As if she can read my mind, or hear the funny voices when I read in Farmer Boggis’s voice, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz posted me a trio of samples all the way from Boulder Colorado: you know, where Mork and Mindy lived.

So what does Foxy smell like and is it as fantastic as Mr Fox himself? Well, read on.

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Photo from tygertale.com

Foxy instantly smells like a vintage scent. I don’t know how Dawn does this, but usually you have to buy fragrance that’s about 70 years old to get this kind of ambery aged lushness.

The amber smells almost rusty, which seems appropriate when you think of the name of the scent.  There are flowers, although they don’t dominate. I detected jasmine and spiky, peppery carnation. There are spicy herbs and a little heat from ginger, and a fun note of apple brandy, made by and drunk by Farmer Bean from the book, who drinks only cider and never eats.

foxy samples

The final flourish has definite notes of oak moss mingling with the amber, to give this an animalic, rustic heat.  I am often to be found with my face buried in the flank of a sleeping cat and this warm fuzzy finish certainly reminded me of that.  The big star here though, is amber. It’s there at the start, in the middle and at the end. The amber adds a cosy warmth and showcases all the other notes within its embrace.

Foxy is fantastically Foxy.  Let it transform you into a twenty first century fox with a retro twist and a crafty twinkle in your eye.

Stockists

You can buy Foxy from the DSH Perfumes website, which also provides an excellent sample service. My sample was from Dawn herself, for which, my warmest thanks. Opinions are my own.

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Five Decades of #Scent Memories: National Fragrance Day 2017

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Dear reader, I am now in my fifth decade and due to toast the start of my sixth in 2020 when I turn 50.

To me, scent is like a Tardis. It takes you back in time so fast that you can be stepping out the Tardis door into 1976 after one whiff of Panache.  More instantly evocative than a photograph or a song,  a fragrance can whisk you back to the scent of the primary school teacher whose name you forget, but whose perfume you can recall as if a switch has been flicked in your head.

Please join me on my mini odyssey through the smell of the 70s, 80s, 90s, Noughties and Twenteens and do share your #scentmemories below.

The Smell of the 1970s.

1970s

I was born in 1970. The first ten years of my life can be summed up, at least in the olfactory sense, as a combination of cigarette smoke (not mine), the smell of a roast cooking, mud, ferns, bluebells, Woogiraffedleigh Green Apple Shampoo, Avon Pretty Peach and Avon Occur, in a giraffe shaped bottle, no less. Quite how giraffes and perfume go together, I never thought to question, but he literally had some brass neck.

My teachers wore Cacharel Anais Anais, which hasn’t changed to this day, as long as you sidestep the “Delice” version. I can’t remember what scent my mother wore, but she always smelled nice.  My grandmother wore Coty L’Aimant, which I didn’t recognise then, but which moves me to gusty sighs of melancholy  now she isn’t here.

BeFunky Collage70s home

The Smell of the 1980s.

Formative years mean a thirst to both stand out and blend in at the same time. I was groping for an identity and slowly moving into and out of adolescence. It was 1981 before I gradually weaned myself off

sindyplaying with Sindy dolls. I can still vividly recall the smell of the vinyl heads and strange nylon hair, inevitably knotted to all hell within a week of ownership.

My first ever scent that I paid for myself was a splash bottle of Bluebell perfume from Boots No 7. Long since discontinued, I have sought that bluebell scent ever since.  My mother bought me a bottle of Jontue from a trip she went on, and one Christmas I had a bottle of Cachet.  I wore this A LOT.  I also remember Avon Eau Givreé: a beautiful green hesperide that has long since been discontinued.

My teens saw me receive my first ever bottle of proper fragrance from my father for my 18th birthday. It was Estee Lauder Beautiful and I still love it now. 1988 saw me leave home at go to Exeter Uni, where the most memorable scents were Marlboro cigarettes, red wine and lashings of Cacharel LouLou.

1980s collage

Meanwhile, over in Denver Colorado, Alexis Carrington was cracking the whip.  Excess, big shoulder pads, big hair and big smells were all the rage.  On the High Street, there was the unmistakable cloud of Giorgio Beverly Hills and a miasma of Dior Poison mingled with Body Shop White Musk and Dewberry. The Nightclubs smelled of Calvin Klein Obsession, and my one little egg shaped bottle took me into the 1990s.

The Smell of the 1990s

The caring, sharing Nineties sobered everyone up and made us wear ozonic scents in an urge to cleanse ourselves of the Eighties excesses. All my friends smelled of Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey, which is no bad thing. I had discovered Chanel Cristalle, also a light scent that was the opposite side of the spectrum to Poison, Obsession and Giorgio. The 1990s saw me graduate and move to London, which smelled very different to Devon.  London air is thicker, dirtier and there were more cigarettes smoked and more traffic fumes, but reader, to me it was the smell of freedom and wonder and possibility.

collage 1990s

1992 saw the launch of the iconic Thierry Mugler Angel. I remember smelling it for the first time in Harrods Perfume Hall and thinking “but why would I want to smell like chocolate?” I appreciate it now of course, for the multi-faceted classic it is, but back then it was revolutionary among the ozonic and airy fairy Nineties scents. Meanwhile, in 1997, Gucci launched the now much-mourned Gucci Envy.  So good was this floral green scent with a vein of metal running through it, that I dumped Cristalle and remained almost exclusive to Gucci Envy until it was cruelly taken from us in 2007.

The Smell of The Noughties

The Noughties saw a revolution in celebrity fragrance.  Elizabeth Taylor had been churning them out since 1991, but they were largely seen as fan fodder until 2002 when Jennifer Lopez launched the brilliant Glow. It was a clean, white fragrance that pleased the crowds and began a snowball of celebrity fragrances taking off.  Britney Spears got in on it, as did many of her contemporaries and soon the perfumeries were chock full of celeb scents. Sarah Jessica Parker brought new possibilities with SJP Lovely and some of the snobbery dissipated when we realised that celebrity stuff can be pretty darn good. (I’m still a celeb scent geek)

noughties collage

The noughties also mark the only two years of my adult life where I have been without any fragrance and that’s because I had my sons during that decade.  Their first scent memory is of my skin.  No deodorant, no perfume, just me.  It wasn’t easy getting those babies, but it was worth it.

The Smell of the Twenteens

Now things really start to spice up. I started my blog on January 2nd 2013. It was a combination of an urge to write and a channel for my reawakened perfume passion. This was brought about by a lean period, during which Chanel was very much out of reach.  As a result, I developed a bit of a cheap and cheerful habit as my receipts from allbeauty.com will attest.  From that, and the three huge boxes of samples that dear Lisa Jones let me borrow, the floodgates opened.

twenteens

The biggest scent launch of the Twenteens has to be the seminal Lancome La Vie est Belle. The fruity floral explosion of the early ‘teens segued into a river of caramel and praline   Hot on its heels was YSL Black Opium , which dismayed many Opium fans, but brought a  cohort of new fans to the brand.

In recent  times, I’ve been coming across the semi-ubiquitous jasmine sambac note that  seems to be so popular right now.  You can find it in  Paco Rabanne Olympea,  Givenchy Dahlia Divin and Versace Eros. The big launch of 2017 is Mon Guerlain, and whilst it’s not my cup of tea, I do harbour hopes that it will  lead us into a big lavender  trend.

As we point in the direction of 2020, I’m looking forward to the alleged forthcoming trends of milk notes, peony and a renaissance of my favourite genre: green notes.

Interestingly, celebrity fragrance sales are on the wane, but guess what’s on the up?  Niche perfume.  Which is very good news indeedy.

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How about you?

What scents bring back instant memories for you?  It doesn’t matter how random or everyday they are, I always love to hear from you.

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Perfume Questions? Ask Aunty Sam…

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Dear beloved readers,

Lately I have been asked many questions by people with queries about perfume. These vary from “what smells like…?” queries to “Where can I get…?” queries. It got me thinking, my friends.  How about a little post that’s all about your perfume questions and queries?

Just email me or post your question below or on Twitter or Facebook and I will do my very best to answer them.  You can even be anonymous if you like!

So, fire away.  Do you want to know if there’s a smellalike to a long discontinued favourite?  Does a newly reformulated favourite resemble an old one?  Which are the best cheap and cheerfuls?  Tell Aunty Sam your scented dilemmas.  I’m  all ears and all nostrils!

Email iscentyouaday@gmail.com

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Vero Profumo Rubj Voile D’Extrait

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There’s a bit of a back story here. A few years ago, dear Lisa Jones, my friend, mentor and bad girl enabler let me try some Vero Profumo Rubj EDP that she had. My dear friends, I’m sorry to say that I did not care for it. I haven’t tried it since and my only lingering memory of it was cumin with muscles.

sample of rubjSo, in the random and serendipitous way that such things happen, I was recently offered a batch of “Naughty and Animalic” samples from dear friend of the blog Lânáis-Bambi, for which many thanks my friend. The scent bundle was one of the sample collections that you can buy from Bloom Perfumery in London, so I knew it would be good stuff.

I went straight for Rubj, thinking I knew what my reaction would be, but I was wrong.

Vero Profumo Rubj Voile D’extrait is a beautiful deep floral that I was convinced was as full of violets as Guerlain Insolence.  But it’s not.  In fact, the flowers, once they settle, are a classy bouquet of tuberose, jasmine and neroli. They don’t come in straight away though, there’s mandarina and bergamot giving this a much lighter entrance than the one I was expecting.

The base notes anchor the flowers with oak moss and musk, givingtuber this a ladylike and classic feel that I wasn’t expecting. Oh, and the cumin? Well, it’s not there, but  the cedar gives this a herby, woody nuance that takes a back seat and lets the flowers take centre stage. Its presence gives this a touch of supportive sobriety as the flowers get loud.

I loved this so much that I have taken a lesson from it; don’t write off a different formulation of a scent you didn’t take to. I could drench myself in this stuff and It wouldn’t be too much. It’s glorious and feminine and makes me feel like I am too. I’m so glad that serendipity led me back to it.

Stockists

You can buy Vero Profumo Rubj Voile D’Extrait from Bloom Perfumery. Check out the Bloom sample service too.

Acknowledgments

Thank you to Lânáis-Bambi for the beautiful set of samples.

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DSH Musc al Madina: This Musk Deserves Classic Status

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A parcel from Boulder Colorado always lights me up like Christmas (Remember Christmas? It was SO last year!) It usually means that the very talented perfumer, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has sent me some samples to see what I think. Dawn is an independent niche perfumer who works with natural materials to produce a diverse and high quality range of artisan perfumes.  Each one is created by Dawn herself in her lab.  She answers to only herself and her loyal customers, new and old. I like that in a perfumer.

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For the past few days I have been wearing the fabulous DSH Musc al Madina.  This is a musk with a supporting cast that really showcases its talents and brings out its very best.  As you know, the musk genre is a vast spectrum that starts with clean and tidy laundry musks and  reaches the nether regions of dirty animalic musk such as Serge Lutens Koublai Khan, to name the most notorious example that springs to mind.

DSH_im3hr_hs-300x300Musc al Madina danced with gossamer veils for me, dropping each one like a tease.  Firstly, my impression was that this is a wonderful 70s style musk that goes with denim flares and flicky hair. It’s how my primary school teachers and my Mum would have smelled when I was 6 in 1976. (Don’t do the maths. I’m young, OK?) This is a fuzzy blanket/soapy musk that reminded me strongly of talcum powder. But then it changed. Then the vetiver  came out and this became a masculine woody musk, full of spices (My beloved myrhh) and peppery geranium.  All change for phase three when this settles into a Middle Eastern delight. The oud emerges but with soft smoky  edges tinged with Ambergris. This is seamlessly blended so the musk stays centre stage whilst the backdrop changes.  Longevity is excellent at around eight or nine hours.

Musc al Madina is intriguing and clever and I can think of few people that it wouldn’t suit. The powdery finish gave me the vintage style hit that I always seek,with a hopeful heart.  The spicy, soapy, woody finish left my nose firmly glued to my wrist.

Musc al Madina deserves classic status.

Stockists

You can buy DSH Musc al Medina from the DSH Perfumes website. My sample was kindly supplied by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, for which my warmest thanks. Opinions are my own.

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IScentYouADay Turns Four! It’s my Blogaversary.

 

#smellfie
#smellfie

Four years ago today I decided to start a blog about something I was passionate about.

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My very first review was Lanvin Arpege

In that four years I have learned to love things I didn’t used to like, go off things I once loved,  and try things I’ve never tried before. I don’t want to scare you away by using the word “journey” but that’s what it’s been and that’s what it still is.   I never give up seeking treasure and thunderbolt moments and  even when I get them,  I am still thirsty for more.

 

The best bit has been meeting you lovely readers, albeit via the Internet. I have never met such a lovely or more generous bunch of folks. With your comments, likes, suggestions and shared memories and anecdotes, you have made every moment worthwhile. It’s been a tricky couple of years on the personal front, and I can honestly say that focussing on this has really helped me, even on those days when negative thoughts block out the sunshine.

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The worst bit? Oh, that’s easy. The worst bit was smelling Etat Libre D’Orange Secretions Magnifiques. No contest, right Lisa?

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It’s time to pay it forward, so watch this space for several giveaways.  It’s the least I can do to say thank you.

Here’s to having fork handles on my cake!

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