Category Archives: Citrus fragrance

Pure Sylvan Magic: Papillon Artisan Perfumes Dryad

dryad
John William Waterhouse: Hylas and the Nymphs

Ever since Liz Moores launched her perfume house, Papillon Artisan Perfumery in 2014, I have been impressed, nay, blown away by the calibre of her fragrances.  My superlatives have overtaken each other on each new launch and this fifth scent, named Dryad, was much anticipated by me and the many cohorts of Papillon fans.   To say that I was not disappointed would be a vast understatement.  In fact, I feel that this was made just for me, even though I know it wasn’t.

hamadryad
Hamadryad by John William Waterhouse

My favourite  scent genre is the mossy green chypre.  It’s hard to get the good ones these days, especially since IFRA made everything so safe that the fragrance industry suffered casualties in the purge. Green chypres have never quite regathered themselves into that glory-days retro mustiness that I am always seeking: like the end of the rainbow, it eludes me the nearer I get.  Well, there’s a happy ending to my quest and that rainbow has ended in my lap with a pot of gold, because that’s how I felt when I sprayed my sample of Dryad.

Dryads are mythical wood nymphs, whose lives are intrinsically entangled to the tree they inhabit. When the tree dies, so do they. There’s a wonderful message in Dryad. In all the hectic noise of modern life, it is time we slowed down and inhaled the moss and the leaves and listened to the birdsong, because when the trees die, so do the dryads.

It didn’t surprise me at all that Liz Moores chose this as the name of her fifth fragrance: after all, she lives a sylvan existence nursing broken wings and wrangling stripy tailed lunatics in the heart of the New Forest.  So the big question is of course, what does it smell like?

What does Dryad smell like?

Dryad opens with bergamot and oakmoss and a mass of herbs.  I find it rare for oak moss to come out straight away:  it’s usually a base note, sneaking in at the end.  Dryad, though, is all about the oakmoss and it’s pretty much the main figure in this beautiful composition. The greenery is all encompassing: musty, mossy and mysterious, like a dark route through a forest.  There’s fauna as well as flora: deer tongue absolute has been used to beautiful effect.  Deer tongue has a  herby/tobacco accord and  it certainly makes its presence felt. This is everything you find in the woods.

Woburn Abbey
Woburn Abbey

The middle phase reminded me of genuine, vintage, Dior Diorissimo: that classic green ily of the valley chypre. You can still buy Diorissimo of course, but it’s not the same as the slightly dirty version I smelled from a vintage bottle a few years back.  That bottle of Diorissimo gave me a whiff of sweaty, talcum powdered inner thigh.: not so much a sexy smell, as a womanly smell.  It’s no sterile baby powder, but powder it most certainly is. The nymph tries out a ladylike phase before returning to her feral roots.

parfums Christian Dior
vintage Dior advertisement

The base of Dryad, whilst never wavering from the chord I’ve named Oakmoss Major, is a little bit Guerlinade, but greener. There is narcissus and jonquil (a very vernal dafodilly posy) and they merge and move around like weather clouds from one phase to the next.

orieldavies
Oriel Davies Gallery

My overall sign off from Dryad is a picture in my mind of green damp woods, overrun by thick moss, a delicate glove from a vintage handbag, a  whiff of Diorissimo and  a fluffy talcum puff.  Oh, and the warm flanks of a startled faun.

Stockists

It’s not quite launched yet, but I’ll update when it is.  You can currently buy Papillon fragrance from the website or from branches of Les Senteurs in the UK. Check the website for further stockists in Europe, USA and Canada.  My sample was very kindly sent to me by Liz Moores, and opinions are my own. Papillon has an excellent sample service. You can read my reviews of  the other Papillon scents here:  Anubis, Tobacco Rose, Angelique, Salome.

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Yardley English Freesia

yardley freesia

When I need  a floral that does what it says it will do, I go to Yardley. They don’t add vanilla and caramel and syrup: they showcase the flower and add a few notes that enhance it.  I already have Yardley English Rose, Yardley April Violets, Yardley English Bluebell and Yardley English Lavender in my collection. They are brilliant alone or layered over other scent that you want to “flower-up.”

I recently obtained a sample of Yardley English Freesia from the Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box and I can report that standards remain high on the flower front.

Freesia is a naturally light spring time flower, and is often hard to pin down in a fragrance.  However, the addition of a chorus of stars makes this an all singing floral treat.

mod class official

English Freesia opens with, as you might guess, freesia but this is surrounded by refreshing eau de cologne style citrus notes. There’s bergamot, lemon and mandarin as well as a touch of lavender, giving this a unisex appeal, although I am yet to persuade my husband that wearing freesia to the office is a good idea.

photo by www.bakker.com
photo by www.bakker.com

The middle notes carry spicy ginger and pepper. You might not think they would go, but actually the ginger goes particularly well with the freesia, helping this airy fairy note to stay grounded.

The base is both woody and floral, although I wouldn’t really call it sandalwood. The mandarins are still there at the end, as is the ginger. All in all, this opens as a citrus, segues into a spicy floral, and beds down into a combination of the two.  Longevity wasn’t as good as I might have liked, but I have ways of making it last ( sleeves, hair, lapels, moisturised skin).

For the price, this is a steal. I will probably buy a bottle to add it to the Yardley bouquet on my dressing table.

Stockists

Yardley English Freesia is available from Boots or Amazon.co.uk. Prices range from around £9.99 for 50ml upwards, making this a bargain.  My sample was from the Perfume Society Modern Classic Discovery Box which is available here. Opinions are my own.

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Miller Harris Le Petit Grain: Welcome Spring!

petitgrain

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).

lepg sampleStill 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.

Photo by Brambleberry.com
Photo by Brambleberry.com

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.

Stockists

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.

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Flower by Kenzo: A True Modern Classic

kenzo flower

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!

talc

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.

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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.

Stockists

Kenzo Flower is widely available.  Try allbeauty.com or John Lewis. Alternatively, you will find a sample in The Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box like wot I did.

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Nina Ricci Luna For Women (2016)

luna

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.

nina inaOn 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.

luna ad

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

Stockists

I found this in House of Fraser, but it’s widely available. I used a tester (very thoroughly) and opinions are my own.

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Dear Aunty Sam: Your Perfume Problems Answered-Part Three

evelyn de morgan
Evelyn de Morgan, The Love Potion

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.

rsz_dr_sam (1)

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?

Jane

Dear Jane,

Please don’t be sorry, I love being Aunty Sam!  Green Tea is one of those light hesperide notes fuji-green-tea-eau-de-cologne-1-640x640that 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.

atelier-cologne-oolang-infini-perfume-unisex___2 (1)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.

 

fuji-green-tea-premium-selection-2-640x640

Dear Aunty Sam,

joyimageI 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

rsz_dr_sam (1) 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.

vintage perfumeThe 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.

I always love to hear from you.

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L’Occitane Terre de Lumiere: The Perfect Summer’s Day

terre de lumiere big bottle

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.

terre de lumiere advert

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?”

lav

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.

terre de lumiere

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.

Stockists

L’Occitane en Provence Terre de Lumiere is available from L’Occitane stores and online at L’Occitane. I received my delightful mini 5ml splash bottle from the Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box, which you can buy here.

modernclassics ps

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The Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Box March 2017

fs disc box neat

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

arden_white_teaAs 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 Jimmy-Choo-Leaudelicately 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 temptedDKNY 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 decadenceMarc 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.

Joop! Wow

wowThis 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.

Invictus Intense

invictus intenseI 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.

Stockists

fs disc boxAll of these fragrances are available from The Fragrance Shop.

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.

I purchased this myself and opinions are my own.

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Clive Christian 1872 For Women: Living the Dream


cc 1872

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.

cliveMy 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.

clive christian colour

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).

cc trio

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.

clive-logo

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.

Stockists

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.

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Exclusive! 4160 Tuesdays: Codename Sea Goddess.

mermaid red
Mermaid painting by Victor Nizovtsev

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.

mermaid
John William Waterhouse

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.

sea goddess boxIt 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.

bsac
Bsac

Stockists
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.

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