Category Archives: Fig

Shay & Blue Dandelion Fig: The Scent of the Garden

dandelion fig bottle

If you spent hours playing in the garden as a child, you may well stop in your tracks and think that Shay & Blue London Dandelion Fig is like a Tardis, taking you back there. That’s certainly the effect it had on me.

dandelion figShay & Blue London make the kind of scents you always wished people would make. Dandelion Fig is one of those.  It’s not a fruity floral and despite its fig notes, not really a gourmand, although the scent of it certainly made my mouth water.  Dandelion Fig takes every refreshing and earthy note from the garden (and not necessarily a neat garden) and brings them all together in one uplifting, leafy, earthy accord.

Dandelion Fig opens with dandelion and lemongrass. When I was growing up, there was a rumour that picking dandelions would make you wet the bed. As a result, they were often seen, sniffed and never picked, at least not until they became clocks.

dandelion quora

The handy thing about dandelions, and one of the reasons why I love this fragrance, is that dandelions provide dock leaves.  Dock leaves when crushed can cure the heat of nettle rash when you’re playing out all day and can’t be bothered to go home and get Germolene (another great smell, if you ask me).  It’s left me with a lifelong liking for green leafy notes in fragrance.

Like THIS!
Like THIS!

After the dandelion there is tomato vine and lemongrass.   You may recall my review of Library of Fragrance Tomato, which I raved about.  It had hints of lemon verbena and that uplifting earthy green scent of the slightly furry vines that hold those juicy plum tomatoes.   Well, tomato vine is here again and teamed with juniper.  The last word goes to fig, which is eked out into a perfectly sized measure against the other ingredients,  enhancing the  juiciness and adding a touch of depth. Dark, juicy fig, to my nose, always borders on wrong and stops just short of it.

This is a scent that doesn’t try to please the masses, but ends up pleasing little old me in spades.  Muddy garden spades.   Dandelion Fig is green, fresh and earthy and out of all the scents in the Perfume Society Latest Launches Box, this and the Annick Goutal stood out from the rest as my absolute favourites.  This is a great fig scent for people who are still unsure about fig. fig tree

Further reading: Check out my reviews of other Shay & Blue fragrances: Framboise Noire, Amber Rose, English Cherry Blossom, Blood Oranges.

Stockists

You can buy Dandelion Fig from the Shay & Blue London website, or you can obtain a sample from the Perfume Society Latest Launches Discovery Box, like I did.   You can also find this in store and online  Marks and Spencer.
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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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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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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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.

moi

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!

signature-wild

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.

Balenciaga Rosabotanica: Roses Among The Greenery

rosabotanica

Now the kids are back in school, I finally had the chance to skulk around in Debenhams Perfume Hall without reprisals.  Bravely soldiering through the enticing displays, I managed to whittle my list down to Perfumes I Hadn’t Tried Before, rather than revisiting old favourites. I was aiming for Florabotanica, but the Tester wasn’t there. I’m quite glad, because today, reader, I found a fragrance to fall in love with. Call it serendipity, or call it Rosabotanica.

rosa-adRosabotanica opens with an abundance of green notes:  glorious leafy fig and tomato leaves. Even greener were the orange leaves, aka petitgrain, which added a zingy bitterness that was most welcome.  This delightful opening was enhanced by touches of citrus, namely grapefruit.  After this vibrant opening, the roses and hyacinth start to come in. The rose smells authentically deep: red and velvety.  I could almost feel those cool, waxy petals. The green figgy notes stop it from being cloying. Not that I mind cloying rose- I’ll take my rose in any old form, I’ve never turned one down. The rose hooks up with the fig and all settles down into a beautiful floral scent with a good dose of woody cedar and earthy patchouli as the base notes settle down for the day.

My only wish is that it were stronger, because I wanted to really marinade in this. Rosabotanica has all the best bits from a fresh garden: grassy cuttings, fresh figs and green tomato vines. The rose is delicate yet rich and the hyacinth always says spring to me. I’d wear this all year round and every day.

Stockists

You can buy Rosabotanica from Debenhamsallbeauty.com or Amazon UK.

 

 

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Adam Levine For Her: An Unexpected Pleasure

adam levine

“Who is Adam Levine?” I thought, and “Why is this shaped like a microphone?”

Well, being a middle aged Mum who listens to Elaine Paige’s excellent Radio 2 show, I had to educate myself on Adam Levine when I was handed a bottle of Adam Levine For Her. He’s the lead singer of Maroon 5, has fully embraced yoga and is an outspoken supporter of same sex marriage. In other words, he sounds like he’s just my cup of tea. (NB I can only do three yoga things, but I’ve yet to meet a yoga person I didn’t like.)

Now I’m no snob when it comes to celeb scents: I’m never without Jlo Deseo or Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights or SJP Lovely, but I couldn’t help but wonder what Adam Levine was going to bring to the party.

Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine performs on NBC's "Today" show on Friday, June14, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Well, he has very kindly brought not a fruity floral, not a vanilla cup cake concoction, but a really excellent sandalwood fragrance that impressed me no end. The best thing about it is that it costs under ten quid. With this kind of high class white packaging and a bottle that reminded me of not so much a microphone as a sky scraper, I call this an unexpected delight.

Adam Levine For Her opens with  saffron, citrus, marigold and spices. I got green and juicy fig, which always smells like unsweetened sultanas to me. If that sounds like faint praise, it’s not. I love it. Combined with a hint of peppery spice, this was a promising First Act.  The drydown gave me a little fright when I had pencil shavings for about three minutes, (when it should be roses and jasmine) but then it righted itself and the musty, musky sandalwood emerged and stayed put for the next few hours. Oh, and then the jasmine and roses turned up, better late than never.

It’s so refreshing when a celebrity scent takes a different path from the blanket best seller genre of the day. This spicy, woody scent is so perfect for cold weather that I’ll be ordering it by the crate come winter. In fact, it’s also pretty good for Wales in August. It’s cardigan weather. Again.

Longevity could be better. I sampled the Eau de Parfum strength and was expecting a little more from it, but it stayed on my sleeve until the next day and smelled wonderful.

Big thanks to Lisa Wordbird, who loaned me her bottle for review purposes.

Stockists

You can buy Adam Levine For Her from Fragrance Direct for just £9.99 for 100ml or Amazon UK for only £8.28.

Photos: Top photo my own, photo of Adam Levine  from The Huffpost

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The Body Shop Black Musk

black musk

 

Today I tried Black Musk in my local Body Shop. I’ve always been a fan of The Body Shop White Musk and consider it a staple in my fragrance wardrobe. There have been several brave flankers, but I still rate the original as the best. After trying Black Musk today, nothing changed that view.

Black Musk opens with a tang of fruit: the red berry like pink pepper was super strength and combined as it was with pear and vanilla, I was not impressed. In fact this reminded me a little of Clinique Aromatics in Black ( overall consensus: meh). Black Musk did improve however, and as it morphed into something reasonable I noticed some pleasant sandalwood and vetiver.

The base notes were recognizably a relative of White Musk, and if it had just been wrapped in the vetiver and sandalwood, I would have liked it. But no. There had to be chocolate and vanilla lobbed in at the end. It’s not so bad now it’s really settled. The confectionery has settled to a pleasant background sweetness, tamed by an infinitesimal touch of sober heliotrope. It has a masculine finish in fact, which means little to me as I think that if you like it, ignore the label and slap it on, regardless of gender.

Overall, I’ve yet to find a Body Shop fragrance as classic as White Musk, although I do rate Italian Summer Fig, Atlas Mountain Rose, Fijian Water Lotus and Honeymania. I don’t seem to be able to write any Body Shop review without mourning the Body Shop of the 80s and 90s. Oh Perfume Bar, how I long for you!

Stockists

You can buys Black Musk online or try it in store. I have noticed that they do lots more special offers online so you might like to try in the shop then buy from the website.

Agonist Vanilla Marble: This is How Vanilla Should Be Done

 

vanillamarblebottle

Agonist is a Swedish perfume house that is the brainchild of Christine and Niclas Lydeen. With Christine’s fashion background in Paris and Niclas’s design flair, together they launched Agonist in 2008 and their popularity as a major niche house is snowballing.

This is the first Agonist scent I have reviewed, although not the first I’ve tried. I shall be revisiting the other two I have after this, since Agonist Vanilla Marble really piqued my interest.

You may know of my oft lamented vanilla ennui, but believe it or not, this new take on vanilla has won my heart. Agonist Vanilla Marble somehow manages to use the warm butteriness of vanilla with none of the added sugar.

agonist creators
Christine and Niclas Lydeen

Top notes are tiare flower, vanilla and almond. Now despite not being a fan of gourmands, I really like almond in vanilla scents. It seems to make this one more of a liqueur and is a welcome step further away from the smell alike confectionery scent that we are currently saturated with at beauty counters. Tiare flower always smells like floral coconuts to me and in this instance, it gives Vanilla Marble a lovely hint of pipe smoke.

Middle notes are orchid, white fig, amber and patchouli. I didn’t catch orchid, but the hint of sultana like fig is in there, along with the welcome warmth of amber and the subtle spikiness of patchouli. The base notes are tonka bean, sandalwood, more vanilla and benzoin.

All in all, this is has a coolness as well as a warmth, reminding me of a milky bar straight from the fridge , but with a grown up tobacco vibe and a golden heat that makes for a cosy, unfussy, not overly sweet vanilla scent that becomes slightly addictive the more I wear it. Equally good on men or women, this is a real gem and gives me hope that a good vanilla scent, done well, will still always be worth doing. Imitators need not apply. This is how vanilla should be done.

Stockists:

My sample was from The Perfume Society Scent With Love Discovery Box, available from here.  You can buy Agonist Vanilla Marble from the Agonist website or from Liberty or Selfridges.  The full list of international stockists  can be found on the Agonist website, where they also provide a sample service and a rather nice discovery box.