Category Archives: Classics

Thierry Mugler Aura: The Mugler I’ve Been Waiting For

aura ad

A new Mugler female fragrance is big news in perfume land. There have been flankers a plenty, but only three big ones since gamechanger Angel barged in and took over beauty counters in 1992: Alien, Womanity and this one: Aura.

It was in 1995 that I first tried Angel in the Harrods Perfume Hall, which seemed such a good place to try a Mugler for the first time that I did it again on Saturday.  I managed to sweet talk the lovely Sales Assistant in the Harrods Perfume Hall into not one but two samples of Aura.   Also, it provided brief respite from supercar spotting with my son in Knightsbridge.

aura bottle parfumo net
Photo by profumo.net

Aura has two brand new ingredients that were invented to fox bloggers and perhaps to ensure a lack of imitation.  When you think of how many big patchouli gourmands Angel inspired, it’s hard not to expect the same here.  However, Aura is not so easy to describe.

It opens with rhubarb and orange flowers.  I love rhubarb in fragrance.  If you have ever smelled Jour D’Hermes or Aedes de Venustas original then you will know how fabulous it can be.  It has a kind of  vegetal autumnal fruitiness that is perfect alongside the other ingredients in Aura.  The orange flower is to my nose, very girly and has facets of clean white soap alongside its typical white-flower headiness.

Photo by Mugler.Fr
Photo by Mugler.Fr

The two secret ingredients are Wolfwood from Firmenech (The flavour and fragrance  brand) and Tiger Liana, which  is totally going to be my stripper name if times get tough.

Tiger Liana alleges to be a smoky sugared almond note, but it’s hard to pick out a note I’m only guessing at, so in all honesty, I can’t tell you if it’s there or if my brain is putting it there .  I can pick out some wonderful dry, smoky woods, but I don’t know if its Wolfwood or just dry, smoky woods. In any case, the woody notes are there alongside the big. big orange flower, which I found to one of the most prominent notes in Aura.

photo from Fragrantica
photo from Fragrantica

The strongest overall impression Aura gave me was one of huge, juicy leaves in a rainforest with added gourmand and floral facets that frame  this green scent for the modern palate.   Aura has a wonderful “wetness” note to it that smells as leafy as the bottle is green.

As for the vanilla bourbon, well I didn’t really notice that until the end of the day when the leafy footprints  had faded and left only a rich vanilla liqueur in its place.   Longevity, by the way, is excellent.  I wore two sprays from morning until night.

Of all the Muglers, this is my favourite.   I don’t think it will be the game changer Angel was, but I think it’s one of the most palatable of the Muglers and the turned-down volume of it will be a crowd pleaser.   As for the  chiselled green jewel of a bottle -it is a huge divine emerald, which, if it were real, would be unapologetically vulgar and would look great on my third finger.

aura 9

My verdict? This is my favourite Mugler, but not the best. The best one is Angel, but that’s not my favourite.

Further reading: Thomas Dunckley, aka The Candy Perfume Boy, is for me, the last word on Mugler.  Here’s his review of Aura, which, and I’m not just saying this, is better than mine.  Please don’t enter it in the Jasmine Awards Thomas. I’d like an outside chance next year.

Stockists

This launches on June 30th and will be widely available. You can currently pre order it from The Fragrance Shop UK.   You should be able to find it post launch  from John Lewis and Escentual to name but two.  The bottle is refillable, which I totally applaud in this wasteful day and age.

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The Perfume Society Latest Launches Discovery Box: What’s in it?

latest launches

As you may have realised, I’m a sucker for a Discovery Box. I can’t get enough of them. When the Perfume Society launched a year after I started blogging about perfume, it was a match made in heaven.  This is not a sponsored post by the way, I’m just a bona fide fangirl with nothing but a dream in my pocket, a cup of tea on my desk and eleventy billion perfume samples.

ll cards

The Latest Launches Box does what it says on the tin (box) and serves as a great way of getting your hands on samples that would be nigh on impossible to get hold of any other way.  I don’t know about you but I find that perfume counter sales assistants demand nothing less than dinner and cocktails before they’ll hand over a sample these days.  Even the Avon brochure charges 75p now.   And don’t get me started on the price of butter.

delina

So what’s in this lovely box of delights? Well, ~I’ll give you a list but I also give you a little tour via the medium of home movies. Not those sort of home movies, the nice sort.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my face in the shot to make it like a proper Zoella thingy but it was hot and I didn’t want to put make up on.  I know you’ll understand my dear chums.

What’s in it?

Parfums de Marly Delina 1.2ml eau de parfum. I haven’t heard of this line before, so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and reporting back.

tenue

Annick Goutal Tenue de Soirée 0.8ml eau de parfum.: Another brand that never lets me down.  I can’t stop sniffing this wonderful patchouli iris. It really stands out from recent scents that I’ve tried. Gorgeous.

 

Miller Harris Lumière Dorée 7.5ml eau de parfum in the same bolumierex as Miller Harris Ètui Noir 7.5ml eau de parfum. They can be worn alone or layered together. I wasn’t massively keen on Lumiere Doree but when you layer Etui Noir over the top, it’s a real game changer.  Etui Noir is more masculine and leathery and really sets off Lumiere Doree.

E Coudray Rose Tubéreuse10ml Natural Spray.  I adore E Coudray. They always provide very high-quality scents and this is no exception. I crose tubereusean’t say I love this one as much as I love E Coudray Iris Rose. In fact, this one reminded me more of Miller Harris Noix de Tubereuse, so if you like that you’ll probably like this too.

Shay & Blue Dandelion Fig 2ml Natural Spray. Our trusty friends at Shay & Blue London can be relied upon to dandelion figturn out a high-quality scent that uses interesting combinations of notes such as Amber Rose or the amazing Blueberry Musk.  I also recommend English Cherry Blossom and Blood Oranges. Dandelion Fig is a wonderfully earthy scent that I can’t wait to review, so watch this space.

abercrombie

 Abercrombie & Fitch First Instinct For Women 2ml eau de parfum- Initial thoughts: this is a fruity floral, but I will come back and add more details. It’s a hot day so I can only smell so many at a time. I bet you know the feeling. First impressions: loving the magnolia and grapefruit combo.

royal pink diamondYardley London Royal Pink Diamond 1ml eau de toilette. A prettier and fruitier version of the original Yardley Royal Diamond.  This combines peaches, pears and oranges with peony and roses, rounding off with a very pretty musk note.

emblemMontblanc Lady Emblem Elixir 2ml eau de parfum. A pretty enough fruity floral with the emphasis on the fruity (lychee and mandarin with muscles). A vanilla base makes this smell fairly generic to me, but strangely, I’d still buy it. It reminds me of another scent but I’m blowed if I can remember the name. It’ll come to me.  Probably at 4 am,

lav

Weleda Lavender Relaxing Body Oil 10ml. A dab here, a dab there- on your temples, on your wrists, few drops in the bath. You can’t beat lavender on a hot day.

The Very Nature Amethyst Rush– I currently have this scented sachet hanging from my desk as I write and it scents everything I do, which is most welcome in this horrible sticky heatwave. It smells like beautiful talc.

 

And last but not least, here’s me with a little tour and commentary of the box itself.

Stockists

The Perfume Society Latest Launches Discovery Box is just 17.50 from The Perfume Society. If you sign up as a VIP member, you get £5 off this and a discount on all other boxes, access to The Scented Letter fragrance magazine, and exclusive invites to events and launches- and not just in London ( see my Bristol write up).  Boxes can be bought on an ad hoc basis so there’s no 12-month obligation or anything.   My box was given to me by The Perfume Society , for which many thanks.   Opinions are my own.

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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.

travalo close up

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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Avon Imari: It’s Coming to the UK

imari
Photo from Fragrantica. Design may vary for the UK introduction

My dear Avon Lady Jill gave me a little perfume sample when she dropped off  a late item yesterday.  I’m used to this now- Avon launches wide and often, which is fine by me.  However, when Jill said “This one’s called Imari” I stopped in my tracks. “Just a minute,” I thought, “that one’s only available in the USA.”

Dear reader, and fellow Avon fan (probably if you’re reading this) it is true.  Imari is coming to the UK.

sweet honestyThis has got me very excited because if they can bring Imari to us, then what else can they do?  I have always thought that if Avon did a heritage range of old favourites, then the people in my age group, i.e. late forties (but we look younger) would snap them up before you could say Foxfire.  Dare I hope for Eau Givree? For Odyssey? For Charisma?  My wishes are not impossible dreams. They did after all, bring Timeless back when customer clamour deafened, and jolly good it is too.

But did you know for instance, that the USA Avon brochure has Sweet Honesty, Odyseey, Candid and Night Magic?  Dare I hope we’re getting them too over here in the UK?

odyssey

So what’s Imari like?

Well it opens with citrus for a clean, bright opening.  There’s a nice bit of soapy aldehydes in the beginning, before this lurches into rose and patchouli territory, with some big noticeable white flower notes. It’s all rounded off with a bit of musk, incense and amber.  Despite calling itself a chypre, this lacks the mossy note that qualifies it as one, but I’m not going to nit-pick, because I want more.  There is a touch of vanilla in the finish,  but its warm and cosy rather than sweet and cakey.

imari 2

Avon has a particular talent for channelling into what’s hot on the high street and providing its own, more affordable take on current trends.   What delights me about this one is that Avon is looking beyond its younger demographic.  After all, they have all the vanilla and fruity florals and praline combos they could ever dream of.  What joy then, to get something for me and my tribe of fellow grand dames of a certain age (but look younger).  Imari was originally created in 1985, and we know how great all those fragrances were.

Avon Imari will be in the next brochure and you can queue behind me if you like. It won’t be expensive.  Avon UK, if you’re reading this, please bring the others over too!

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Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium

pelargonium

Have you ever smelled a perfume that’s so good it makes you want to write a love song about how much you love it?  A scent that shoots you in the heart like cupid?  A scent that makes the need to own it feel more powerful than lust?

Welcome to Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium.

A pelargonium is a member of the geranium family and has bright velvety petals as vivid as a flame. This flower is more or less the main star in this fragrance, but the supporting cast makes this unforgettably wonderful.

It opens with clary sage and lime. The herby clary sage note complements the peppery petals of the pelargonium until it gives me a vivid image of an English country garden on a cool damp day.  The herby floral accord makes me think of very expensive soap- the kind that makes your bathroom smell like an unaffordable hotel suite. The musk is an almost iris-like musk with its muted, classy subtlety,  yet it is unmistakable and lingers on long after the citrus opening has bloomed and faded.

photo by www. gardensonline.com.au
photo by www. gardensonline.com.au

There is allegedly a carrot note in here somewhere, but unless I’m mistaking one root for another, it comes across as more iris like, which as you know, can smell earthy and rooty.

The base is guaiac wood, vetiver and moss, giving enhancement to the earthiness that peeks out in the middle phase. The oakmoss adds a touch of damp greens, which only makes me fall for it harder. I’ve always found geraniums to smell faintly medicinal, and this facet is showcased with touches of elemi, often used in cough syrup and medicines.  Don’t let this put you off, there’s no TCP note here, more of a clove/violet thing going on.

The Aedes de Venustas range at Shy Mimosa perfumery, Bristol
The Aedes de Venustas range at Shy Mimosa perfumery, Bristol

This is primarily a floral, but it’s as if each facet of the pelargonium scent has been given a partner to showcase its talents and double its impact.  Perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer is a genius and I will be her fan forever.

This is the fragrance I will buy for myself when I get that novel published (and I will).

Stockists

Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium is available from Selfridges at £210. My novel will have to be a bestseller I guess.   My sample was a kind gift from  Aspects beauty PR, for which, many thanks.  Opinions are my own.

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MoodScent 4: Wedding Guest Fragrances- How to Pick the Perfect Scent

Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale The Uninvited Guest
Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale The Uninvited Guest

Welcome to the second post in the MoodScent4 collaboration! We are four perfume bloggers based 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.  

moodscent4 turquoise

Wherever you are in the world, you’re bound to have noticed that it’s wedding season: unless its currently Monsoon season where you are (i.e Wales), in which case, please read this later in the year when the sun’s out.

beautiful

With a number of wedding invites thudding on mats (I’ve had three this year), we thought it only fair to help you out with an informal guide to what scent to wear if you are a wedding guest.

As a wedding guest, there are certain protocols one must stick to.  For example, there’s the obvious blunder of wearing all white to a wedding, or wearing attention seeking outfits that may attract more looks than the poor bride gets.   Also, as a wedding guest, this is no place for racy cleavage and skimpy skirts.  If you’ve invited either of the Hadid sisters, you may want to pop a Post It note in their invitation.  Call me old fashioned, but I’ve seen a bag of oranges wear more string than they had on at the Met Gala (hoiks bosom and clutches pearls).

Don't wear this, unless the bride is wearing less than you.
Don’t wear this, unless the bride is wearing less than you.

Scent wise, the rules still apply, at least in my book. I wouldn’t wear anything loud or experimental that makes everyone look round in church for the wrong reasons.  Neither would I always play it safe and stick with airy florals (although they certainly have a place).

Here then, are my own personal mainstays when I am invited to a wedding.

 

 

lair du temps ad

Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps

I wore this to the wedding I attended on Saturday.  It’s a beautiful classic floral that will be familiar to many, yet in my opinion, has never been overexposed.  It’s gentle, pretty, delicate and warm (dash of amber in the finish).  This is one fragrance I will never allow myself to be without.  Here’s my review. 

raw silk wedding

4160 Tuesdays Raw Silk and Red Roses

With   a name like this, this beautiful scent just cries out to be worn at a wedding, and it suits the occasion perfectly.  This is my usual Go To scent for weddings but I couldn’t find it yesterday.  Like Virginia Woolf, my box of minis and samples needs a Room of One’s Own. Raw Silk and Red Roses smells so deliciously of old fashioned roses, yet it has depth and facets that lift this away from any other rose scent that I have tried.  You can read my review here.

baiser fou bottle

Cartier Baiser Fou

I fell hard for this after not being enamoured of the original Cartier Baiser Volé.  Where Baiser Volé was all about the lilies and not in a good way,  Baiser Fou is the fun, more playful sister.   Smelling like a cross between fresh raspberries, Milky Bars and expensive lipstick, this is perfect for a summer wedding where lipstick ends up on everyone.  You can read my review here.

noontide petals

Andy Tauer Noontide Petals

I have yet to find anything that smells similar to this aldehyde beauty.  It’s bright with citrussy lime and clean soapy aldehydes, but changes throughout the day.   By the time the evening party comes around, you’ll be smelling of tuberose, jasmine, frankincense, patchouli and roses.   It has the added bonus of giving you the sure knowledge that nobody else will be wearing it.   Unless you are going to a wedding full of perfume peeps. You can read my review here.

lovely

Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely

This one gets lots of mentions on my blog and that’s because it’s wonderfully versatile, long-lasting, and as girly as pigtails. I adore  Lovely. The florals give way to rich creamy woods and patchouli and the whole shebang lasts all day. I spray mine in my cleavage and the back of my neck and I was still catching delightful wafts at bedtime.  It’s not overpowering and I guarantee it will go with your dress.  For the price, this remains one of the best value fragrances I know.  It’s usually around £20 a bottle and I’m wearing it today.

How about you?

What scent do you wear to weddings? Do you have a favourite or do you  choose as you go?  Do let us know.  We’d love to hear from you.

Me with my two sons at a wedding two days ago.
Me with my two sons at a wedding two days ago.

Further Reading

I am chuffed to beans to have three international colleagues to collaborate with.  Find out what Tara,  Esperanza and Megan all had to say on the subject of wedding guest perfumes.  Between us we cover Wales, England, the Netherlands and France, which makes us the last word on European fragrances.  We decided.

A Bottled Rose

L’Esperessence

Meganinsaintemaxime

moodscent4 turquoise

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How to Cool Down and Smell Good

 

transparent_crystal_ice_picture_167173

It’s hot in the UK today and we’re totally unprepared.  After wearing three layers to bed and three layers and a coat to do the school run,  I found myself struggling to find summer clothes in the sudden mini heatwave that hit us.

Although Wales, where I live, is my favourite place ever, there are certain weather anomalies that one must learn to endure. You can have rain all summer anda singular freak hot day in October, or a nine-month winter and a heatwave nobody’s ready for, which I think is what’s happening now.

photo from Russia Beyond the Headlines rbth.com
photo from Russia Beyond the Headlines rbth.com

A nice cold, ice cold fragrance feels like an essential rather than a luxury today so I thought I’d tell you a few of my Go-To scents on this sticky summer day.

When the weather’s hot, I want eau do cologne. This is not just because the high alcohol content cools down skin on contact but because the classic ingredients of herbs and citrus remain to this day the most refreshing combination you can get.  Most of the bottles I reach for have cologne elements in them.

Niobe from Cologne  and Cotton

CC_Niobe-400_m

On my dressing table is a large glass bottle of Niobe from Cologne and Cotton. It has the herbs and the citrus and surprisingly in a cologne,  even good longevity.  I have decanted it into a mini travalo for when out and about and I always get compliments.

jr-boboli

Le Jardin Retrouve Citron Boboli: It was a photo finish between Citron Boboli and Verveine d’Ete.  Both are perfect for hot weather and the citrus will really put a zing in your step and take away the hot fussies.  You can read my review here.

eaufraichemybottle1

Avon Little Black Dress Eau Fraiche: This one is going down fast. Lighter than the original, but still recognisably its flanker, this pale green bottle isn’t always available, so when it is, do grab it. My bottle was a fiver from the Avon brochure a few months back. I reviewed it here.

doe

4160 Tuesdays Doe in the Snow: I adore this fresh peachy chypre and have a little travel bottle. In case you were wondering why I never reviewed it,  it’s because I cannot match or surpass this description “citrus fruits, flowers and woods, stirred with an icicle.” That’s exactly what it smells like and it is beautiful.  EDIT- I have since reviewed this and you can read my verdict here.

Copy of sparklycitrus

 

Avon Scent Essences Sparkly Citrus: I bought this for just £2.50 when it was on offer.  It’s a 30ml eau de toilette that does what it says on the tin and smells a lot more expensive that the price I paid. In a similar vein, do try Crabtree and Evelyn West Indian Lime.  I tried it in winter and it was good in cold weather, but it’s fantastic now.

orange sanguine

Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine; I was sent a decant of this by my dear friend Patsi. Hi Patsi!  Atelier Cologne take all the things you love about the lightness and sharpness of cologne and add outstanding longevity.  Orange Sanguine is no exception. I also recommend Atelier Cologne Bergamote Soleil.

lav

Yardley English Lavender is always uplifting, but never more so than when you keep it in the fridge and squirt your hot cleavage with it.  I’m hoping the words “hot cleavage” won’t direct the wrong sort of traffic to my site, but you never know,  the hot cleavage seekers might learn something.

Over to you

What’s your favourite Cool Down scent in hot weather? Do you keep any in the fridge?  Do let me know, I always love to hear from you.

lav

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FiFi 2017 Winner: MB Perfumes Black Osmanthus by Marina Barcenilla

MB-Parfums-Perfume-Bottle-F

If you’re in a  floaty peony sort of mood, I’m afraid you’ve come out of the wrong lift.  But if you’re looking for Black Osmanthus,  follow that woman with the black lipstick.  Follow her into that unmarked door with the smoky jazz  drifting out of it.   You’ll find what you’re looking for in there.

mb parfums all

Black Osmanthus by Marina Barcenilla won this year’s Fragrance Foundation Award for Best Independent Perfume, and I for one, was jolly pleased.  It’s not just because Marina does everything herself, including sourcing the absolutes and extracts that she makes her potent potions with, but because Black Osmanthus is not your usual dab it on after a shower and wear it to work fragrance.  Black Osmanthus breaks the mould and gives a rude salute ,  which appeals to the rebel in me  that so often, by necessity, gets supressed.

Osmanthus is the name for a genre of around 30 types of blossoming plants. Petals are usually white and the scent is likened to fruity, leathery blossom, often with apricot or peachy cadences.

Black Osmanthus is heavy, leathery, smoky and to my nose at least, has a hint of gorgeous creosote, like a freshly painted fence.  This is by no means a criticism- creosote is one of my favourite scents ever.

sam and marina
Marina Barcenilla at the FiFis. She let me hold her award for the photo. I am planning to steal it.

Black Osmanthus opens with all the subtlety of an Avon Lady knocking your door down with a sledgehammer.  On my skin, it takes me straight into smoky, leathery tar territory and I pretty much stay there.  I should tell you that Marina wore this the night of her win and in a room full of fume heads wearing their favourite scents, this beautiful smoked leather was distinct and true throughout the evening.

Black+Osmanthus (1)

This is made from layers of leathery notes: There’s rich saffron stamens, dark patchouli, almost sticky in its depth,  bay rum and myrrh.

The flowers are, if you’ll pardon the pun, no shrinking violets: there’s tuberose and jasmine and they’re not dainty.  The oakmoss sits with the other tough guys and makes this the ultimate dark, leathery spicy scent for those who have been seeking exactly this.  It reminds me of those little vials of Middle Eastern attar with its amber juice that let the fumes escape like snakes.

Lasting power is fantastic.  Spray at dawn and enjoy wafts of it until dusk.  And then stay up all night.

Further reading  Check out Stephan Matthews excellent review here.

Stockists  You can buy Black Osmanthus samples from the MB Parfums website, but beware, this may lead to a full bottle and you will have to get used to telling strangers what you’re wearing.

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I Scent You a Night: The Fragrance Foundation UK Awards 2017

Ruby, you are not coming.

As you may have gathered, last Thursday  was the UK Fragrance Foundation Annual Awards Night (aka the Fifis) and saw a major gathering of the great and the good in the perfume industry.  By a happy turn of events, I found my little old self there too.

I attended as a guest of the Clive Christian team, which was both an honour and a privilege and I thank them warmly for inviting me.

I hadn’t been sure that attending would even be possible, with the night being on a school night, during term time and in London, around 150 miles from South Wales where Fort Scriven is situated.  After rearranging my family’s lives in order to facilitate my attendance, and a last-minute ear infection at 5.50am from my poorly son who failed to guilt me into cancelling, I was off.

sam frock

I may have mentioned before how kind perfume people are. Their generosity and thoughtfulness is legend, and tonight was no exception. I was invited to join brilliant perfume writer Stephan Matthews and Fifi award winner and perfumer Marina Barcenilla for a meet up and catch up prior to the noise and chaos. This meant I did not have to walk in alone and when we reached the venue and I saw the sheer enormity of the event, I was wholeheartedly grateful to have people to walk in with.

There were proper paparazzi and a big sponsored backdrop for better known people than I to be photographed on.  Red carpet was everywhere- I have some on my stairs at home, but it doesn’t have the same effect and it’s a sod to hoover.   There were sequinned hosts and black tie waiters with champagne holders that could hold about thirty glasses, unlike me.  I only had one  and stuck to soft drinks thereafter.  I had names to remember and an early bus and I could not figure out where my hotel was from a map.   Adding champagne would have been a disaster.  I might still be there now, looking for the exit.

Stephan and Marina are a hoot to hang out with and I was in awe of their knowledge: not just of the industry but of the process and raw materials.  Marina, as you may know, is a talented perfumer and very modest with it.  Plus hilarious and sweary also.

photo by kind permission of Sarah McCartney
photo by kind permission of Sarah McCartney

I had a chance to catch up with the charming Dariusz, aka Persolaise and a met a jolly good looking chap who looked very familiar.  I asked him what he did for a living “I’m a model” replied the charming model Oliver Cheshire.  If I was as good looking as him, I’d be a massive big head, but he wasn’t in the slightest and was delightful.

selfie with stephan and persolaise
L-R, Stephan Matthews, Me, Persolaise.

My chum and fume-idol Sarah McCartney arrived around then: a finalist in two categories for Mother Nature’s Naughty Daughters, and looking splendid in vintage couture, with vintage buttons gleaming like jewels.  We founded a two-strong campaign to restore the evening glove.  Check out our YouTube video above that’s snowballed into double viewing figures.

It was soon time to herd us upstairs to dinner and I was separated from my companions to join my hosts on the Clive Christian table.    My eyes had popped out on stalks when on seeing goody bags on every chair, so I popped them back in and tried to look gracious and not like a goody bag greedy guts.  Which I am.

The Clive Christian table were a truly lovely team of people and I was particularly bowled over to have a chat with Victoria Christian herself who, let me tell you, smelled INCREDIBLE. (She was wearing Clive Christian V and C together).  Luckily, fragrance gatherings are one of the few occasions where you can sniff people you have only just met without getting arrested.  Also on my table, I was delighted to see Jo Fairley of The Perfume Society,  who I hadn’t seen since I attended her workshop  last Saturday.

clive christian colour
Not a bribe- I returned it post-review, like a good egg.

You will hear more from me about Clive Christian throughout the year as there are exciting launches coming up soon, so watch this space.

After being entertained 1950s style by the fabulous Bye Bye Baby- a superb Frankie Valli style singing act, the awards began in earnest. There isn’t room here to list all the winners, so follow this link to Now Smell This,  but we had a lovely compere in the form of Natasha Kaplinksy, who looked great but was too far away to sniff.

sam and marina
Double FiFi Winner, beautiful and talented Marina Barcenilla.

I was disappointed that Sarah McCartney didn’t win, but delighted that Marina Barcenilla won for Black Osmanthus.  Marina and Sarah  are true perfumers who make their own stuff,  source their own materials and get  their hands dirty.  I love perfumers who do that and if it were up to me, I’d create a special category for the dirty hands gang.

From Woman and Home magazine
From Woman and Home magazine

The Fragrance Foundation was celebrating its twenty fifth birthday that night and it was fascinating to watch a showreel of perfume ads over the last 25 years.  How things have changed!  The night was finally over, all bar the dancing, but this tired Cinders could bear no more after a very long day.   Finding the exit was like trying to leave Ikea but I just about made it out of there before I turned into a pumpkin.

Them Fragrance Foundation people sure know how to throw a party.

Goodnight, Nos da, Pyjamas.

Who are you wearing?

Samantha Scriven was dressed by The Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice Charity Shop, Cwmbran and the YMCA Shop Blackwood.  Jewellery by Marks and Spencer from four years ago.   Make up by Avon and Rimmel.   Hair by Salon Scriven and two hotel mirrors.   Scent of the Night was Le Jardin Retrouvé Tuberose Trianon.

jr-tuberose

 

How I Improved My Sense of Smell with The Perfume Society

sam smile

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.

lucky scarf
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.

admin-ajax
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.

our selection
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.

aedes de venustes
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…

cocottes

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