If ever there were a more traditional gentlemen’s cologne than Penhaligons Blenheim Bouquet I have yet to come across it. It’s almost impossible to smell it without thinking of gentleman’s clubs, polished brogues and umbrellas.
Blenheim Bouquet opens in the classic style with citrus and lavender, replete with zingy limes and lemons. So fresh and crisp are these notes that I couldn’t help thinking of a pile of starched cotton handkerchiefs in a pure white pile with a hint of lavender about them. This zesty opening number stays fresh and sharp for around an hour on my skin before it beds down into a still-lavender fug with a hint of vetiver and suede. This last bit could be my interpretation, since there is neither vetiver nor suede listed. It was originally for men, but is equally good as a unisex scent.
Many purists are alarmed and disappointed at the reformulation of Blenheim Bouquet, to the point that several loyal fans have been lost, but I cannot comment as I haven’t smelled it pre-now. I do however, sympathise with those disappointed- it is so irritating when your favourite scent loses its heart.
Blenheim Bouquet was created in 1902 by Walter Penhaligon himself and the packaging is so classy that it makes you want to refurbish your bathroom in great splendour to match.
It has not escaped my notice that Penhaligons is by Royal Appointment to both HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH Prince Charles. My Mum met Prince Charles just the other week. It was a huge thrill-( he was “charming and lovely”)- and although I asked her, she wasn’t close enough to find out what he smells like. But I bet it was this.
Here is the link to the Penhaligons website in case I have whetted your appetite. If you’re not sure which one to choose, I can recommend this set of samples at just £16.
Jasmine, like vanilla, has been (over) used so widely and added to so many other ingredients that it’s all too easy to lose sight of what jasmine actually smells like. Even then it can be hard to say because there’s a whole spectrum of jasminec characteristics.
I have wavered on jasmine in the past, finding it a little indolic, like so many others before me. There could be an explanation for this: synthetic Jasmine is used so widely to mask unpleasant smells (think cheap air freshener in public loos) that the nose can start to associate it with toilets, hence the indolic tag that keeps cropping up. The other end of jasmine is that it can be very heady: not in the same league as tuberose, but on the same track, and often paired with orange blossom so that the two become difficult to isolate as separate notes.
However, my mind was firmly made up for me when I smelled Serge Lutens Sarrasins ( bear with me, I know where I’m going). It immediately took me back to my childhood when I would pick enormous bunches of bluebells and take them home (I wouldn’t do that now- I would leave them there!). Bluebells remain my favourite flower (like little fairy’s hats) and funnily enough, jasmine, naked and plain, really reminds me of freshly picked bluebells. It wasn’t until I reviewed Sarrasins that I realised this and fully entered the portal of Jasmine fandom.
Which brings me to Library of Fragrance Jasmine: where does it fall on the Jasmine spectrum? Right where I hoped it would. It smells like clean, freshly unfurled petals with a hint of characteristic pure jasmine soapiness. Even better news: on me it lasted over eight hours and I kept getting delightful little wafts well into my evening, having applied it late morning.
Although Library of Fragrance scents are perfect for layering, opening up all sorts of wonderful possibilities, I would actually wear this one alone. Jasmine has been stuck in the crowd too long. How refreshing to find it doing a beautiful solo.
Where to buy it The Library of Fragrance range is available in branches of Boots across the UK- even quite small branches like my local one. You can also try the Library of Fragrance website, which often has fantastic special offers, inclusind purse sprays.
I have reviewed several 4160 Tuesdays scents before, but in case you missed them, here’s what you need to know: Perfumer Sarah McCartney founded 4160 Tuesdays and says that if we live to be 80 we will have 4160 Tuesdays. Use them to do something you love. Sarah uses Tuesdays to make perfumes. And I’m jolly glad she does.
4160 Tuesdays Urura’s Tokyo Café now called Tokyo Spring Blossomopens with grapefruit and mandarin, then beds down into the heart notes: rose and violet, before merging gloriously into the base notes: raspberry leaf and myrhh.
It was intended to smell like a Spring Breeze and was made for a charity event at thec Café of Sarah’s friend Urura, whose name, spookily enough, turns out to mean Spring Breeze. In other words, this was meant to be!
Tokyo Spring Blossom does indeed open with citruses and then beds down into strong rose and violet. They are almost as one, and you can hardly tell them apart, which I love. It reminds me of a cross between those little violet breath sweets and a gob full of top quality Turkish Delight at the same time. However the Myrrh ( or Opoponax if you will) gives this a nice churchy feel, as if you have entered a medieval church at a Christmas Market whilst eating Narnia street food.
The quality is excellent: resonance and longevity both get 10/10 and the price is right too: £40 for 30ml. Bear in mind that this lasts as long as a winter, so you don’t need frequent top ups like you do with other cheaper scents.
What sets 4160 Tuesdays apart from other brands is that there is a hand made artisan vibe about the scents. It’s as if the ingredients still have their rough edges and haven’t been over processed. The rose really smells like sticking your nose in a rose, rather than smelling like an impression of synthetic roses. If these scents were drawings, they would be pavement oil pastels and they wouldn’t stay in the lines.
Urura’s Tokyo Café is available from the 4160 Tuesdays website, and if you’re in the USA or Canada, you can buy a selection of 4160 Tuesdays scents from Rouiller White ( though sadly not this one, at least not yet) Also check out the cute sample sets– good British niche that needn’t break the bank.
In the past, I may have mentioned before that I find Avon a bit hit and miss as far as fragrances go, but I have noticed a definite change lately. Whilst I still question the relentless frequency of new launches, every now and then they come up trumps and deliver the goods, and this has been happening more frequently of late. The strongest quality in Avon’s favour is the price. Competitive doesn’t even begin to cover it. Sometimes the low budget really shows, and sometimes you may find that you have in your hands a genuine bargain.
I also like that they listen to their customers. When Timeless was discontinued in 2012, Avon customers clamoured for its return. To their credit, Avon listened and brought it back earlier this year. I like it when that happens.
In the last six months, I have tried a number of Avon fragrances that have really impressed me. When you think that they usually cost around between £5 each when on special offer or £13 for two at full price , then the value is unimpeachable ( only Premiere Luxe reaches the dizzy heights of £14, but it reminds me of Armani Si). However, the question remains- at these prices do you have to compromise on quality? Well the answer is yes and no.
One range that I don’t get on with is the Today Tomorrow Always range. I have tried them all and don’t like any of them. They seem to have a flat synthetic base note in common that seems to disagree with my skin. Full marks for gorgeous heavy glass bottles and glossy packaging though. I know the range has many fans, so it may just be me.
Avon, if you are reading this, thanks for years of fond memories of trusty favourites such Eau Givrée, Foxfire, Charisma and my first ever perfume, Pretty Peach. Many a childhood Christmas was enhanced by novelty soaps almost too pretty to use and pretty perfume bottles and all sorts of wonders that my mother and grandmother ordered for me from their Avon lady. For all those memories, thank you.
And one last point- please can we have Avon Odyssey back in our UK brochures? It’s available in the USA and we would like it too. Thank you very much. As you were.
You may have noticed that here at IScentYouaDay I like to slip in a Top Ten every now and then, so here’s my Avon Top Ten. Prices vary between £5 and £14.
1. Avon Little Black Dress: A light white floral that keeps its shape: gardenia and honeysuckle with a woodsy finish
2. Avon Timeless: created in 1974, discontinued in 2012 and bought back by popular demand in 2014. Ambery spicy and powdery. A winter treat.
3. Avon Premiere Luxe: A fabulous chypre with blackcurrant, gardenia and woods. Could pass for something three times the price on the High Street.
4. Avon Soft Musk : A classic floral musk that lasts for hours and costs the same as a bottle of wine. (in Lidl)
5. Avon Tahitian Holiday: Reviewed earlier in my blog. A coconutty white floral. Perfect for hot weather. The poor woman’s Bronze Goddess.
6. Avon True Life For Her: A light and pleasant rose/peony combo ideal for everyday casual wear and cheap as chips.
9. Avon Summer White Sunrise: a change from the norm for Avon: a refreshing floral scent with notes of pear and orange blossom.
10. Avon Far Away: not my personal favourite but I couldn’t leave it off the list. This is Avon’s bestseller and I know several people who adore it. It’s rich with Vanilla, coconut , sandalwood and floral notes. It’s instantly recognisable, and a customer favourite.
And sneaking this one in on the end in the hope that our friends at Avon are reading this…
Top Ten of fragrances I Would Love Avon to Bring Back
On my skin, Serge Lutens scents last a very long time: usually around nine hours. The exception was Muscs Koublai Khan, which I detested and couldn’t get rid of. It’s the perfume Rule of Sod. Love it? It won’t last. Hate it? It won’t wash off.
Serge Lutens Gris Clair falls somewhere in the middle for me. It’s long lasting but I neither hate nor love it. Weirdly, it smells a little like hot starched linen on me: as if I have over-ironed a garment (chance would be a fine thing- ask my husband!). It also smells very masculine, and if I may use a colour here, it smells silver.
Serge Lutens Gris Clair was created by the genius that is Christopher Sheldrake. I don’t love everything he makes, but everything he makes is quite brilliant, objectively speaking if not subjectively. Woodsy lavender with a hint of resin, this is an unusual combo and I can think of few scents with which to compare it.
The notes include Iris, tonka bean, woods, lavender, incense, and amber. What I admire about it is the fact that without the lavender, this would be a superb, if not unique, incense-y oriental. However, the lavender jars and almost puts my teeth on edge, but I don’t regard this as a bad thing. How would we have discovered that olives and Martini go so well together if someone hadn’t dared to try it?
So what we have in Gris Clair is a warm, spicy scent whose cosy edges are blown away. Lavender is a cold scent. Amber is warm. Sheldrake has wrapped a woolly blanket around the hard edges of a skyscraper. It’s hot and cold. It’s different. It’s audacious. But it’s not for me.
4160 Tuesdays has a knack of giving perfumes such great names that you’re brimming with the anticipation of a little voyage into a vignette before you even put it on. It’s like having a pair of shoes called “Magic Carpet” or a coat called “Russian Princess”. Immediately, life gets more interesting and fantastical through the power of suggestion.
Thus it was in merry, hippy Carnaby Street mood,with “here comes Georgie Girl” in my head, that I first tried 4160 Tuesdays London 1969. Now you may notice that certain brands have a recognition factor. This is no bad thing: The old Guerlains have it and you can usually tell a Serge or a Tauer by its je ne sais quoi. 4160 Tuesdays has it too: a kind of rich, woody blank canvas base that makes it recognisable…or so I thought until I tried London 1969.
Alert with zingy lemon, zesty grapefruit and a kind of lime sherbert that took me back to my childhood, London 1969 is like licking a lolly on a hot day in a floppy hat, in glorious techniclour as you mingle with the cool cats outside Biba. No, I wasn’t around then, ( it was the year my Dad looked at my Mum in a funny way though, I was born the following year) but Sarah McCartney is the Doctor Who of perfumers: she can take you back in time and space with a mere smell.
The Dark Heart of Havana had me sipping coffee in a Cuban Pavement Café, Time to Draw The Raffle Numbers was all polished floors and marmalade in an empty church hall, and The Lion Cupboard had a whiff of peppermints, old wood and pocket fluff and made me feel pleasantly Narnia-ish.
I’m actually a bit of a fan of the original Light Blue. Having expected an ozonic melon fest, I was pleasantly surprised at how floral and multi layered it was. There have been several flankers since: all seemingly named after a page in a holiday brochure or made-up adventure films, but today’s review is about Light Blue Escape to Panarea. (see what I mean about sounding like an adventure film?)
First of all, this is a light floral. Yes there is fruit in it, namely pear, but I wouldn’t regard it as a typical fruity floral. It holds back on the sweetness for a start and has completely left out any ubiquitous vanilla that seems so unavoidable these days.
Top notes are simply bergamot and pear, both of which I like. Middle notes are: Jasmine and Orange Flower, both of which work well in summer, and base notes, unusually, consist of Ambergris, Tonka bean and musk.
Put all these together and what you get is a refreshing citrus floral with a base that lacks the expected weight of the ambergris but is instead a well rounded and faintly sweet daytime perfume that would pass the commuter train test with flying colours.
The most prominent notes are the orange flower and pear, with the Musk just feathering the edges gently as the base notes meld together.
I like it because it’s not cloying or overly sweet, because the flowers stay true and don’t merge into a hollow mess, and because it’s pretty and delicate on a hot day.
Even if you splash it all over, it has more staying power than a cologne, but enough delicacy not to be remotely offensive if you wear too much. Lasting power is around four hours. Frankly, I’m a fan.
I have been keeping half an eye on Alfred Sung Forever for quite some time. Should I/Shouldn’t I? I was drawn in by the promise of Lily of the Valley, by the promise that it was green and the promise that it was made with brides in mind and therefore so would be pretty. Yesterday my bottle finally arrived: a nice big 75ml bottle too. I took the cellophane off (oh ! I love that feeling!) and sprayed. And then I felt a bit sad, as if my ice cream just fell on the floor after one lick.
Alfred Sung Forever is so similar to Elizabeth Arden Splendor that they could be interchangeable. Both have that metallic, hollow almost-but-not-quite floral note running through the middle. It’s borderline ozonic. There was Lily of the Valley, but so fake and so plastic that it gave me less pleasure than just looking at a photograph of Lily of The Valley. There is a plastciky, mass produced note to it that wasn’t a million miles away from the dreadful Karl Lagerfeld Sun Moon Stars. The base note is baby talcum powder.
The reviews on Fragrantica raved about it. Mine will not be one of them. It’s curious that both Forever and Splendor smell the same and both come in large bottles: Splendor comes in a 125ml bottle and Forever arrived in a big 75ml bottle. The price was good at under a tenner, and you know how strong my convictions are on the “You can smell good without being rich” stance, but I guess this was a turkey. I have visions of a giant vat of the stuff, cobbled together for a song and being pumped into various bottles and sold off cheaply. Any leftovers are used in inexpensive “Ocean Fresh” toilet fresheners.
You may be familiar with my Law of Sod when it comes to perfumes: if you hate it, it will never leave you, even with soap and water. If you love it, it won’t hang around. And thus it was that four hours later, I scrubbed and scrubbed and in the end had a shower to get rid of it. It sure does last Forever.
As you may know, I’m a big fan of Yves Rocher and awaiting a parcel for them later this week. I love that the quality is high and the freebies and special offers are plentiful.
It’s shame there are no stores in the UK and I have had to make a few blind buys, but I have never been disappointed. I am particularly fond of Yves Rocher Cléa, which, if you’re a fan, smells a bit like Dove and makes for a deliciously creamy, ambery fragrance. Today I am reviewing Yves Rocher Moment de Bonheur, a rather lovely, simple floral. It opens with drunken rose petals. By drunken I mean that it reminds me of the rose petal perfume I used to make when I was little. I would collect rose petals from the garden and keep them in a jar of water. The resulting perfume would not be um…commercial, but it smelled like rose petals that were on the turn: over ripe if you like and on the point of being fermented. I’m not painting a pretty picture but in fact the rose scent from the stewed and dampened petals really summed up summer for me.
Moment de Bonheur was in fact created for Autumn and was launched in September 2011. This would make sense, since the base has a hint of spice and warmth in the patchouli and cedar finish. However, despite the geranium and green notes, Moment de Bonheur, to me will always be roses, roses, roses: stem, leaves and all. It’s light as a petal and borderline soapy in places, but I love it. If you like rose fragrances you can’t go wrong with this one.
Lady Gaga Fame took me by surprise. With Gaga’s inexhaustible originality and eccentricity, and with the gold claw and black juice of the bottle, I was expecting something clashing and well…Gaga. Maybe a combination of jarring, clanging Cacharel Eden with the daring creosote of Tauer’s Lonestar Memories? Maybe she would have used an ingredient never used before in perfume (is there one? I’m still working my way through…). But no. In Fame : Lady Gaga has (shock, horror), gone all ladylike on us.
Today she is wearing a twin set and pearls and sipping her ubiquitous porcelain cuppa. The notes of the perfume are: Belladonna (more for it’s reputation and mystique than for its scent I feel), Apricots (definitely in there somewhere), Honey (just a soupcon) Orchid (a hint), Saffron (hard to discern), Sambac Jasmine (very bold) and Incense (only in the base and round the edges).
The notes surprised me somewhat since on my skin at least, this is a pleasant, slightly violet, powdery floral with a hint of honeyed apricot, but nothing too sweet. After a few hours, there is a faint tang of something enigmatic and jazz clubby when the incense comes in, but otherwise, this is rather pretty and, dare I say it? – not really edgy at all.
Despite it’s forbidding dark image (and fantastic ads), this would be lovely as day wear, or workwear. The price is excellent at well under £20, and it is widely available at beauty counters and more general stores such as Wilkinsons. It’s good, it’s ladylike, it’s pretty and provides a refreshing change from all that sugar.