Category Archives: clean scents

Avon LIFE For Her by Kenzo Takada for Avon (2016)

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Sit up and take notice, Kenzo fans: Kenzo Takada has made a fragrance for our chums at Avon. Avon LIFE For Her has just launched and I managed to bag myself a sample ( there’s also a For Him but I haven’t tried that one). Being a pre-Christmas launch, I wasn’t expecting anything quite so light and summery, but the only rule in perfume is that there are no rules. LIFE is Kenzo’s take on violet, so as a violet fan I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

LIFE opens with a white tea note. It’s similar to Elizabeth Arden Green Tea but less metallic and less green. There is prominent water lily, making this a treat for fans of The Body Shop Fijian Water Lotus who want something in the same ozonic vein. A touch of apple adds to this clean wholesome accord.

avon-life

By the middle phase I’m still waiting for those violets to turn up, and I do believe they sneak in dressed as irises to fool me. There is the typical iris sobriety here: a touch of grey rootiness that is contrasted here with a bright floral sweet note. Nothing to do with vanilla or gourmand: it’s more like the sweetness of a small spring flower magnified into intensity. The vegetal note from the iris sticks around, and the musk mallow (aka ambrette) does nothing to dispel it. There is allegedly patchouli to round things off, but I still found this to be an ozonic tea scent.

It’s pretty and light, and would be the ideal scent for a hot day if you like your fragrance to be of the the airy, green tea sort. It’s not for me right now, but I’ll give it another go in summer, when it will go perfectly with short sleeves and a cloudless sky.

Stockists

Avon LIFE is available exclusively from Avon. In the UK try Avon UK or your Avon rep.

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Chanel No 5 L’Eau (2016)

lilyrose-iamges

The funny thing about Chanel no 5 is that I seem to prefer the flankers. Whereas I spend a lot of time bemoaning too many flankers, or flankers gone wrong (I’m looking at you Black Opium), when it comes to Chanel No 5, I can’t get enough of those perfectly executed beauties. I loved Eau Première and now I love Chanel no 5 L’Eau .  (Disclaimer- I haven’t tried  the other flanker Chanel No 5 Eixir Sensuel so cannot comment)

My sample of Chanel No 5 L’Eau arrived in the post two days ago and I have been wearing it ever since. The original Chanel No 5 is far from my favourite perfume. It’s arguably the most famous, however, which is how many women end up having a bottle gifted to them, whether they like it or not. That’s not to exclude the many women ( or men) who made an informed choice to wear it. It’s high quality and a classic, but to me it’s always been as if I’m not in on the joke.

chanel-no-5-leau-bottleL’Eau is a different story. Where Chanel no 5 is the tweed suit, Chanel no 5 L’Eau is the lingerie you wear underneath. The best and prettiest ingredients from Chanel No 5 have been taken and used lightly here, leaving the heavy stuff behind. It’s as delicate as a silk slip, yet don’t be fooled by the metaphor of lightness. In it’s way L’Eau is as powerful as No 5, but without the stale face powder note I often get with the original. It’s the flowers I notice the most in L’Eau, not the amber, patchouli, civet or oakmoss of the original.

With L’Eau, the jasmine and roses are prominent to me, as are the aldehydes, but this is far more floral than No 5 and less sober. I’m pleased that the alleged vanilla is a no show. The orris has a buttery, rooty note and the citruses keep it light and cologne-y. The soapy powdery note that is the trademark of No 5 is still there, but not as cloying. This is fluffy like a talcum puff, with a hint of white musk in the base.

Chanel No 5 L’Eau is a Chanel No 5 I can get on board with, roll about in, and marinate in. It’s no weakling: it’s fragility is its strength. This is a delicate beauty with muscles. 

Stockists

You can buy Chanel No 5 L’Eau from Boots, Chanel and The Fragrance Shop.

Art de Parfum: A Perfume House to Watch

art-de-parfum-head

Recently I was sent a set of samples from those nice people at Art de Parfum. It’s a small British House, that currently just has five  fragrances. Wisely, they have started small, but what that they have done so far, they have done very well indeed. All scents are unisex and all are highly concentrated pure perfumes made with oils, so you’re getting quality and longevity right from the first drop.

Here’s a review of the four scents I received. Actually, I received Sensual Oud too, but I can’t currently locate it. As soon as I do, I will review it. In my defence, it was the summer holidays and with two primary aged kids around, I’m glad that one perfume sample was all I mislaid.  I still have my sanity.

I had a major love affair with one of these delightful fragrances but wouldn’t turn any of them down. Every single one deserves praise and a bright future. But as for me? I’ll take a bottle of the Gin and Tonic. No, make that a case. A lorryload! I’ll take it all.

sea-foam

Sea Foam

The name of the scent was enough to have me reaching for it before all the others. I have been disappointed enough times in the past by perfumes that promise a marine accord but don’t deliver. Sea Foam does. It has that salty ozonic tang that I need and want from a scent that promises me crashing waves and seaside vibes. I wouldn’t call this oceanic- that has connotations of synthetic “blue” notes to me, but I would call this one of the best “sea notes” perfumes I have ever tried.

Opening with sharp, tangy citrus (bergamot and lemon), the middle blends into milky fig and seaweed. Now at this point, you might think that it would start to resemble Thierry Mugler’s Womanity, which is the only scent that ever made me physically retch. Sea Foam could not be further away from that. Think of salty skin, the dry greenery around the dunes and the actual, almost dirty scent of the waves. This beds down into dreamy sandalwood and vetiver, but those salty, fresh notes linger on.

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Excentrique Moi

Well this just has to be one’s new name for oneself when one goes all Third Person. Beautifully scented and named with a swagger, Excentrique Moi is all about the leather, which is ironic as according to Fragrantica, there’s no leather in it, but this is my blog and I say “leather!” There’s also deep, dark guaiac wood, which is a note I love ever since it was used in Hilary Duff With Love, now sadly discontinued. The patchouli is strong and earthy, and paired with dark tea and a bit more smoky, musky wood, this makes for a terrific scent that would suit anyone, especially as the weather turns colder. Buy it for the man in your life, and then use it all yourself. No guilt!

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Signature Wild

This smells both leathery and dirty at the same time. Don’t be put off, dirty is good in perfume. Signature Wild makes good use of artemesia, which has a touch of aniseed and booze to it- artemesia is famously used in absinthe. We’re not in Pernod territory, but more Gentleman’s Club with an extra dose of “your place or mine?”. The top notes smell like Christmas booze: rum or sherry. After that it’s sultanas, leather and woods. That tang of artemesia just takes it out of the ordinary and makes it unforgettable.

gin-and-tonic

Gin and Tonic

I wasn’t expecting to like this half as much as I did. I’ve smelled similar gin based scents before and have been left unmoved. However, this one had me in raptures and I’ve been wearing the sample spray for two days now, wondering if I can get a third day out of it. Yes, it opens with gin, or juniper to be more precise, but there is much more to it. The juniper is astringent, almost metallic, but it doesn’t stay that way, it just does a solo before joining the chorus. The grapefruit and lime zest give you that zing, and the middle note is just plain gin. It’s such a realistic take on a gin and tonic that you can almost feel the bitter bubbles popping on your skin. The drydown takes me into musky, woody territory with vetiver, woods, incense and ambergris. This base never gets too heavy though, because the gin and citrus just slices through until astringent and earthy sit together as one accord. Fantastic.

Stockists

You can buy Art de Parfum scents from the website, or from Bloom Perfumery in Covent Garden, which also does mail order. I would like to thank Art de Parfum for sending me these samples. Opinions are my own.

Orla Kiely by Orla Kiely

orla kiely bottle

Orla Kiely is the Irish designer who always reminds me of a 21st century Barbara Hulanicki with her quirky geometric prints and repeat patterns. It seemed inevitable that a fragrance would follow and I’m glad it did. This pretty scent is not only ideal for daytime and work wear, but has a very agreeable price: retailing at under £20 a bottle.

Orla Kiely opens with refreshing bergamot, tea and peach. You’ll be pleased to know that my description doesn’t make it smell like Liptons Iced Tea, although I wouldn’t mind if it did. The flowers emerge gradually and there are some pretty petals in here- namely roses, geranium and peachy osmanthus. A little hint of juicy fig peeks out and there is a whisper of chocolate. The chocolate is thankfully used sparingly here  The tea and the bergamot restrain it from going down an overly sweet route.

orla collection

The base is sandalwood, fig and again the very mild soupcon of chocolate. For a few moments there was a definite hint of pencil shavings on my arm, but sandalwood can sometimes do that to me. The finish is a woody floral melange with a refreshing tang of tea. All in all, a good buy that will stand you in good stead for Spring and Summer. It should almost go without saying that the box is pretty too!

One Fragrantica user reckons that this is similar to Must de Cartier Eau Fine, which can’t be a bad thing with change from a twenty pound note.

Stockists

Orla Kiely is available from Amazon.co.uk at 19.95 for 100ml. I received my sample in a Perfume Society Discovery Box.

Photos

Photographs: Top photo from Fragrantica, bottom photo from www.thewomensroomblog.com

Moschino Fresh Couture

moschino fresh couture

Moschino are having fun again and supplying a cheeky wink with your fragrance.  Moschino Fresh Couture looks like a bottle of Febreze ( which I love), complete with handy spray gun.  However, that doesn’t mean the juice inside isn’t to be taken seriously as a good fragrance, because it is very good indeed.

Moschino Fresh Couture is a beautifully light and uplifting fragrance. Opening with eau de cologne style notes of mandarin and bergamot and banana-y Ylang Ylang ( if bananas had petals, that’s how they would smell), there is an immediate feel good vibe going on.

Middle notes are dominated by the playful combination of raspberry and peony, making this pretty and feminine. Base notes are white patchouli, which gives this a pleasant oomph, matched with Ambroxan and woody notes, which I did not really discern.

linda evangelista

This is right up my street for Spring and Summer. Unsurprisingly, there is a pleasing fresh laundry accord, and with the citrus, raspberry and pretty peony, this so light and refreshing that you are sure to get compliments. It’s impossible not to feel its optimism and playfulness, and not just from the post ironic bottle.

I obtained my sample from the Perfume Society Scent With Love  Discovery Box, which seems to have a plethora of fruity florals. Once upon a time I would have pulled a face, but somehow the raspberry and peony blend so well together, this could sway the surliest of curmudgeons into wanting to ditch work and fly a kite.

Stockists

You can get a sample of this, along with many others, from The Perfume Society Scent With Love Discovery Box, or buy a full bottle from Selfridges or Amazon.

Shay & Blue London: English Cherry Blossom

cherry blossom

Shay & Blue London has been around since 2012 and is snowballing in popularity thanks to its availability in your local Marks and Spencer. The sample I am reviewing today is from the Perfume Society Scent With Love Discovery Box.

Cherry Blossom doesn’t usually interest me. I find it a bit too sweet and cloying after a while. However Nose Julie Masse for Shay & Blue has come at this from a different angle. By adding citrussy bergamot, the cherry blossom stays bright and light. There’s a nuance of black cherry too- an accent of lovely dark fruit that doesn’t overpower like plum can.  There are woody notes in the base, appropriately enough cherry wood, of course, and blessedly, no vanilla or anything to make this into confectionery.

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Throughout the morning, its the bergamot that hangs out with the cherry blossom, keeping it company. I love bergamot alone or in anything so this was a welcome innovation that gives this lovely English Cherry Blossom a fresh and uplifting feel for spring or summer. Impossibly feminine and pretty, I would definitely bag myself a full bottle of this gorgeously pretty scent. Its my birthday next month so this will be making it onto my wish list.

The Perfume Society Discovery Boxes, are as you may have gathered, a favourite thing of mine and I will be reviewing more from this box of delights very soon.

scentwithlove

Stockists

Scent with Love Discovery Boxes are available from The Perfume Society  and  Shay & Blue London fragrances can be found at Marks and Spencer in-store and online. English Cherry Blossom is a new launch for 2016 so look out for it on the shelves soon.

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Photos: Top photo from basenotes, middle photo of cherry blossom from www.eskipaper.com, Discovery Box photos from The Perfume Society, bottom photo by www.brambleberry.com

DKNY Be Delicious Fresh Blossom

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Today I tried DKNY Fresh Blossom, which was in Superdrug and priced at £18.  I couldn’t resist having a thorough  couple of squirts, but now I’m home I have only my memories.  Yes, short longevity doesn’t begin to cover it.  This was a bit of a funny one on me.  At first its pretty and light: there is apparently grapefruit and apricot as it opens, neither of which I could detect. I did find a few light and pretty floral notes- certainly a touch of rose. The base notes are allegedly woods and apple, but I didn’t get that far.

It reminded me very much of the much cheaper Intimately Beckham For Her which I reviewed earlier in the blog  and which I liked a lot.

However DKNY Be Delicious strangely began to smell like wet shoes before disappearing altogether. Two hours later there is no trace whatsoever on me. Did I dream it?

It’s a bland and feminine fruity floral that on me at least, had a touch of wet wellies before deserting me completely.  It was a genuine sample, so no questions on that score, but it left me thinking “What just happened?” So I’ll hang on to my eighteen quid if you don’t mind, Donna Karan.

As always, this is just my point of view.  It may smell great on you and last for ages! Let me know if it does.

Stockists

DKNY Be Delicious Fresh Blossom is available from Superdrug and many other retailers.  Try Boots or Amazon, but try before you blind buy.

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The Perfume Society Les Infusions de Prada Discovery Box

PRADA PINK

Being a fan and a full bottle owner of Prada Infusion D’Iris, I was delighted to see that iris has been joined by some new friends in a beautiful capsule collection. It’s hard to believe that Prada Infusion D’Iris has been around since 2007.  I came to it only last year and found it quite ground breaking.

NowSmellThis
Photo of Daniela Andrier from NowSmellThis

I have had a complicated relationship with Iris: sometimes it turns me right off, and sometimes it attracts me like a bee to nectar. It often depends who it’s hanging out with.  Prada Infusion D’Iris pleased me no end since it seemed to fuse my love of hesperides with a gentler, watercolour version of iris.

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All of the Infusions de Prada range were created by Daniela Andrier, who has this to say:

“At first they appear to be very simple, as if you were “tattooing” water with an ingredient-but in reality each is a very complex formula…the base composition allows the beauty of a flower, wood or fruit to be revealed in a bright sensitive way”

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Imagine my delight at finding a Discovery Box with all of the following inside:

Les Infusions de Prada Iris Cedre

Imagine Infusion D’Iris with a drier, more sober iris within. The galbanum keeps this springlike and the very faintest wisp of incense adds a unisex edge. The iris used here is Iris Pallida which is matured for four years after picking. It would feel rude not to appreciate it after all that time. Luckily it’s dreamy and gorgeous, so no forced politeness required.

Les Infusions de Prada Fleur D’Oranger

Playful and light as air, the orange flower green notes are present, with the orange being more dainty than sharp. There is a base note of serenglide which adds a ghost of floaty white musk.

Les Infusions de Prada Oeillet

Oeillet is carnation, and this opening is zingy like lime. There is bold styrax, but it’s used with a light hand. There is definitely patchouli, but its done with faint watercolours rather than bold acrylics. The spices within are on the herbal spectrum rather than the foodie spectrum and in fact I found the wispiest wisp of liquorice.

Les Infusions de Prada Amande

I’m not usually a fan of gourmands, but I’m always going to be a fan of this almond infusion. There is vanilla, but it is sugar free. No cupcakes or candy floss here. This is creamy and classy, like expensive cashmere. The mandarin and lime that is pretty much a characteristic of the collection, keeps this bright, rather than sweet.

Les Infusions de Prada Vetiver

This could easily play a little trick on your nose. In a blind test, you would not pick this out as Vetiver. However, after about half an hour, coaxed by touches of ginger and citrus, the dried grasses finally emerge. This would make a great unisex scent as it has a slightly masculine finish, but starts like an expensive herbal cologne. It reminds me of very expensive hotel bathrooms. NB Here on my blog, there is of course, no gender barriers to whatever you want to wear. Or do.

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Les Infusions de Prada Iris

The original beautiful, ethereal scent that started the wheel turning. I would be hard pushed to think of a more likeable scent. This is green, light, airy and floral and never overpowers.

Stockists

The Infusions de Prada Discovery Box is available exclusively from The Perfume Society.  The boxes costs £36 (£30 to subscribers) and contain 6 x 8ml bottles and postcards with notes and information about each one.  The box would make a great gift and would be a safe bet for recipients who like light, airy perfumes.

If you want to the full bottles, try John Lewis, Escentual or Selfridges

Thank you to the Perfume Society who kindly provided me with this beautiful box.  Opinions are my own.

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Gucci Bamboo: And…Rest

bamboo

I’m still in a sulk with Gucci for not bringing back Gucci Envy, so I tried Gucci Bamboo with a bitchy face on.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is a fresh break from the rich’n’cloying smellalikes that have been coming thick and fast of late.  It opened with a whisper and is still there now, all subtle and classy.

Gucci Bamboo opens with top notes of bergamot, and whilst in this case it was not zingy cologne time, it radiated like a muffled lime with lily accents- sounds like a Dulux advert doesn’t it?  Well if Gucci Bamboo were a room, it would have floor to ceiling windows and wispy white curtains billowing in a spring breeze.

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pinterest.com
pinterest.com

The middle phase has the lily, orange blossom and gentle Ylang Ylang (or banana flower as I call it in my head).  There is a light floral sweetness to this that has nothing to do with the recent trend for caramel, chocolate, and candy floss in scent.  Phew!

In the basenotes, which is the phase it’s at now on my skin, there is a hint of vanilla, but it’s not that in-your-face-cakey smell that it’s so easy to get hold of these days, it’s more a soft pile of pillows that tones it all down before putting it to bed. I would almost call it a hint of powder in among the faint warmth of some very mild amber.

Gucci Bamboo is absolutely perfect as a daytime scent and to me, it had a nostalgia that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.  In any case, as a new release it stands apart from the crowd as a gentle “Shhh” among the noise.

Stockists

Gucci Bamboo is available from FragranceDirect, Escentual,  and Boots to name but a few.

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Elizabeth Arden Fifth Avenue: My Lofty Classic

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Elizabeth Arden fragrances,although  very reasonably priced, can be hit and miss:

Hits: Fifth Avenue, Untold, Green Tea and all its flankers, Sunflowers Summer Bloom, Blue Grass

Misses: Sunflowers, Red Door, Mediterranean, Splendor, True Love.

My lists are of course purely subjective, but I would add a great big thumbs up to Elizabeth Arden Fifth Avenue, which I am reviewing today. It deserves a place right at the helm of the Hit list. Fifth Avenue was created in 1996 by legendary nose Ann Gottlieb  and to me, it has stood the test of time where others have fallen.  With it’s light feminine florals and its warm amber base, I would go as far as to say it has a lot in common with Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps.

lazada.com.ph
lazada.com.ph

I mistakenly thought that Fifth Avenue was all about freesia, but in fact I find there is no freesia in it.  Instead, it is chock full of the most classic florals, namely rose, lily of the valley, jasmine, violet, iris, tuberose, lilac and carnation. If flowers had their own version of Who’s Who , all these would be in it. Rather than being cloying though, this floribunda of an accord is lightened with citruses in the opening gambit, bedding down to a floral base with hints of white musk and amber.  Unlike several other Elizabeth Arden scents, lasting power is pretty good.  I thought I’d lost it after an hour or two, but it wafted back to me in the evening when I let my hair down (in the literal sense, I didn’t go and party when the kids were in bed).

I like Fifth Avenue so much that I have a 125ml bottle on my dressing table and its sky scraper style bottle dwarfs my collection with its lofty glass column and its gold lid. I call this a classic, and I call it great value too.  It’s a pretty safe bet as a gift too- it’s sure to please anyone who likes floral scents without killing bystanders ( Hey, Angel, I’m talking to you!)

Stockists

Elizabeth Arden Fifth Avenue is currently available for a bargain price  at allbeauty.com and is widely available on your High Street or on Amazon UK.