Category Archives: Floral

Giorgio Armani Si: The Box Ticker


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Giorgio Armani Si is being heavily publicised right now on a perfume counter near you.  Armani’s 2013 new release was created by the legendary Christine Nagel, who is capable of works of genius (Eau de Cartier for example), and  generic bestsellers (Jimmy Choo Flash).

But does Armani Si live it up to the hype? Can it hold its own against other Oh So Rare new perfume launches? (Did that sound sarcastic? It was meant to).  Do join me, dear reader, on my unremarkable journey into the world of Giorgio Armani Si.

This is what I call a box ticker. It is also remarkably like La Vie est Belle by Lancome.

Endorsement campaign by beautiful but classy actress? Tick.

Simple glass bottle, no gimmicks? Tick.

Smells a bit gourmand with a Vanilla overload? Tick.

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Now I hesitate to put the boot in, since Cate Blanchett seems to exude a calming serenity where’re she glides, and it seems almost rude to criticise anything she endorses. However, in the hope that the exquisite and talented Cate never reads this, I feel I have to be honest with you and say this is not great.

The opening of Violet Leaf and Green notes (albeit rather synthetic smelling) could be saved if the Vanilla baseball bat of Doom hadn’t waded in and bludgeoned everything. This could have been a pretty Green and Violet scent, in the same vein as Balmain Ivoire (the new, not the old). But no, the promising opening turns into a gourmand and stays a gourmand all the way through. Sad to report, it’s not even a good gourmand. It’s too sweet. Too synthetic. Even the promised Patchouli was beaten into submission by the villainous Vanilla.

How I long for a new launch to blow me away.  Recommendations welcome.  Giorgio Armani Si? Mais non.

Jean Paul Gaultier Classique: A Fifties Style Nineties Classic

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 During the Nineties, Jean Paul Gaultier co hosted the late night post pub TV programme Eurotrash with the equally bonkers Antoine de Caunes. With his iconic Breton tops and kilts, and that Gallic twinkle in his smiley eyes, I was a fan of Jean Paul  from the start.

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In 1992 he launched Jean Paul Gaultier Eau de Parfum, now called Classique, thanks to a plethora of confusingly named flankers.  I recall reading an interview with him  around this time, though I sadly cannot find it now. The gist of it was that he wanted to base a perfume on the matriarchs in his family and he said that his Mother and Grandmother  smelled of  nail polish remover and face powder and he wanted to include that in his scent.

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He was as good as his word and I can never smell Classique without thinking how he understands that women, gorgeous as we are, often have messy handbags which smell of stuff we’ve spilled. It’s human. We don’t need to be perfect or smell perfect. A smell is a memory encapsulated in a bottle. As a result of this charming vignette, I have always had a soft spot for JPG , or Jpeg as we call him in the Digital Age (joke).

I haven’t ever owned a bottle of Classique myself since I once knew someone for whom this was a signature scent to the power of  a thousand. However, in isolation, it is  marvellous. It’s sweet with Vanilla, but not Britney Vanilla, and has a touch of Anise  and Pear which evoke the strange chemical hint of nail polish remover. It’s floral and feminine with Roses, Tuberose and Neroli, and beds down into a sandy finish with rich Amber and powdery Musk.

Bravo Jean Paul!

… and now a clip of some very large European breasts. Bon nuit mes little British chums and faîtes des bonnes rêves!

Dita Von Teese: Dita Von Teese for Women: Classy and Elegant

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Considering that Dita Von Teese For Women EDP is less than 20GBP a bottle, it’s not half bad. It certainly doesn’t smell as cheap as it is, despite the fact that the actual fragrance must have been produced cheaply once mark ups and overheads are taken into account.

Dita Von Teese is one of today’s classier stars. I’d rather see ladylike Dita’s spangly tassels than a barely dressed starlet on the red carpet letting it all hang out. Slim yet voluptuous, classic and elegant, Dita will never go out of style.

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Dita Von Teese for Women smells delightfully feminine, with a retro vibe about it that defies today’s sweet fruity candy floss efforts and Baby Angel derivatives. It is definitely for evening wear, or more specifically, date wear.  It opens, unusually, with Bergamot, which is a brave choice considering it ends in smoky Guaic woods, Patchouli and Musk. Through it all comes the heady Tiare flower, a creamy white flower, less intense than tuberose but no less pretty.  Somehow it works. The Bergamot and floral opening gives a grown up and prim impression that leads into something more seductive as the evening wears on. By the end of the evening you’ll be unfastening your pearls for sure.

I cannot review this perfume without mentioning the stunning bottle. Black and fluted, it has an unmistakeable vintage vibe, and its black tassel is a cute little quirk. This is what I was hoping Kylie Minogue Couture was going to smell like, except that it let me down with a cheap and empty smelling faux vanilla base note. Not so Dita Von Teese, with its classy basenotes ending the show with a smoky trail of spiced Musk in its wake.

Poor Dita is in the unenviable position of having her fragrance reviewed the very day after I have reviewed the masterpiece that is Un Jardin en Mediterranee. However, I have also had to clean up after a small boy and a wayward kitten today, so it’s all about balance.

 Dita Von Teese for Women probably won’t be a favourite Must Buy, but I admire and like it, and the little handbag bottle is just adorable.

Bravo Dita.

Hermes: Un Jardin En Mediterranee by Jean Claude Ellena.

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 Some fragrance is so good that if you did not know the name of it and  a stranger walked by wearing it, you would follow the stranger home until they surrendered the name of the beautiful aura that surrounds them.

I would follow a stranger home like a stray dog for  Hermes Un Jardin en Mediterranee.  How nice, that just a week after I wrote my Dear John letter to Iris that I should meet and fall in love with Fig within a day. Fickle? Oh yes. Like a widow on the make at a wake.

I love fig. I’ve never tried it before it (I know, shocking), but now I want to try EVERYTHING fig.

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Un Jardin opens with a quick and dirty boozy waft, almost like Rum and Raisin. Then when that burns off, you are left with a citrussy green aroma that is as pretty as the scent of a passion fruit, yet without any sickliness. In fact passion fruit is the nearest thing I could think of to describe fig. The perfumed aroma of a passion fruit, just opened, is a masterpiece of nature.  It is aromatic and natural and well, it smells like perfume. And so it is with fig. Both green and milky at the same time, this reminds me both of fresh dates and clean, leafy notes simultaneously.

This is a grown up’s perfume- I’d be surprised ( and delighted) if I smelled this on anyone under 25. There are similarities between this and Kelly Caleche, also by Jean Claude Ellena, in that there is a green “polished leather” note surrounded by petals that is common to both.

It has curious notes which make a refreshing change from the usual: Pistachio and Oleander, and Red Cedar and Cypress. Yet if I had to describe this without looking at notes, I would have said that this is Kelly Caleche with a punchy, rich middle, like drops of amber that melt on the tongue.

unjardinThis is the kind of fragrant moment that stops me in my tracks. From a casual “can I try this?” to a glazed eye robotic “I Must Buy. I Must Buy”, Un Jardin en Mediterranee had me entranced.  For a perfume blogger, I don’t have many full sized bottles. Only a few have caused me to fall in love quickly and have given me the Must Have feeling: Eau de Cartier, Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely, and Balmain Jolie Madame are good examples. Un Jardin is now another.

Jean Claude Ellena has mixed it seamlessly, with his trademark watercolour style, making the aroma a perfect dream of a light summer fig through smoked glass.

Hermes Un Jardin en Mediterranee  is Sheer Heaven. Nose glued to wrist. I feel sorry for whatever I review next since it will have a lot to live up to.

PS My seven year old son adores this and calls it awesome. He’s got taste, like his mother.

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Fleur D’Iris Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier: We Need To Talk About Iris

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I’ve had a problem with Iris for quite some time now. We simply can’t agree with one another. I like her pretty sister Violet, and even her melancholy friend Heliotrope, but Iris and I just can’t see eye to stamen.  I love the flower, and Heck, my dear late grandmother was called Iris and had I had a daughter, it would have been her middle name. But I still can’t get on with Iris.

Several kind parfumistas have made go back in the room and play nice until Iris and I can be friends, but  I guess we’re just not to be. I’ve tried, Lord knows I’ve tried, but we’re just not compatible.

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Today I wore Fleur D’Iris by Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier. The bottle is lofty and regal in appearance, and is on kind loan from Lisa Wordbird,  a fellow blogger who is great friends with Iris. I thought if  I’m going to give Iris a chance, I’d better go for quality. Sadly, I could only manage half a day with this.

Fleur D’Iris is indeed floral as the name suggests, but floral in a fuzzy suffocating way, like being smothered to death by baby blankets, or having a close, stuffy smell infiltrating ears, nose and mouth. It’s claustrophobic, like a stifling car with no open windows and no air con. Then there are the carrots. Carrots, both raw and cooked, strong as you like, yet inescapable. Then there is the earthy rootiness, like a freshly dug bulb. And finally, the kind of distant sweetness you can find if you sniff a dried up crispy babywipe.

There are several notes in Fleur D’Iris, including Green notes, Rose, Musk and  Vetiver. However, once I noticed Iris in this, it dominated completely.  If you like Iris, this is a quality scent with  outstanding longevity. The longevity is ironic.  I find anything I dislike stays around for hours like an uninvited Dr Seuss character.  Fleur D’Iris?  No less than fourteen hours and I can still smell it.  Just my luck.

I gave it my best shot guys. I know I sound like a Sommelier that doesn’t like red wine, but as much as I love perfume, I cannot love Iris. Don’t leave me.  Think of my good points! I can be fun, playful, witty…don’t go!

Miller Harris L’Air de Rien: Dirty and Wonderful

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I have longed to try this, and made no secret of it. Yesterday, whilst I was at the beach, a good fairy left a 5ml phial on my doorstep. She looked suspiciously like our friend Lisa Wordbird, so once again, dear Wordbird, I thank you.

In previous reviews I have unexpectedly found the scent of unwashed underwear in Feminite Du Bois, Worth Courtesan (filthy!) and Balmain Ivoire de Balmain (vintage not modern). I fully expected a similar grimace from L’Air de Rien. Even Luca Turin in Perfumes the Guide says it smells of soiled underwear.  I couldn’t wait.

To my surprise, I loved L’Air de Rien.  I’m not sure I want to smell like it, but I love it the way I love a masterpiece in a gallery that I wouldn’t hang at home.

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It smells like the inside of a house or flat. You know how your friend’s homes have a particular smell that nobody else’s has? It’s not a bad thing, in fact it’s rather comforting.  Well L’Air de Rien smells of the inside of a flat where the hostess hasn’t yet showered after last night’s party and has burnt lots of  joss sticks to kill the worst of the spilled wine/crashed out guests smell.  It doesn’t smell of a person, it smells of a scene.

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It taps into the most basic of attractants: an unwashed body and  a musty Musk.

L’Air de Rien was created for Jane Birkin (also the inspiration behind the Birkin bag), an Englishwoman abroad, who despite her life in Paris, has lost none of her coarse accent  if Luca Turin is to be believed.  Created in 2006, it could easily have passed muster decades earlier.  It’s very Bohemian: hedonism, a bath once a week (whether you need it or not), cheap red wine and no money for food.

I suppose I should give a cursory mention to the notes listed on Fragrantica, but to do so seems to over analyse what amounts to a vivid scenario of a scent, where analysis could prick the bubble and make it disappear.

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Here we go: Neroli, Musk, Amber, Oakmoss, Vanilla,  and Patchouli.

But ignore that and just go with what you feel.

I think Miller Harris  L’Air de Rien is a work of genius and brings back memories of my London days in my mid twenties when parties were frequent and long term responsibility was far, far away.  Miller Harris scents are so evocative: often conjuring entire random scenes and memories in my head, and L’Air de Rien is the Queen of them all.

Estee Lauder Pleasures: Practically Perfect In Every Way

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Estee Lauder Pleasures was launched in 1995 and was a huge hit. After the excesses of the Look At Me 80s, this 90s fragrance was all about everything that was light, airy and pure. You know, like Gwyneth Paltrow.

 Pleasures was everywhere in the 90s including on me: I had a 100ml bottle and a body lotion no less.  It even tempted me away from my steadfast Chanel Cristalle for a  whole summer. There was a new optimism in the 90s. Everything was environmentally sound, and people were hugging trees and taking up Yoga and wearing white floaty shirts. You know, like Gwyneth Paltrow.

So what does it smell like? It smells like a photoshopped meadow on a summer’s day, all delicate blossom and green grass and fluffy clouds. It smells just like its advertising campaign, with original spokesmodel Elizabeth Hurley in the middle, looking ethereal all over billboards and fragrance shop windows.

To me Pleasures smells of Violet and Peony. It’s pretty as a picture. There are no dark or challenging notes, all is light as air. There are Green notes in the opening and  Violet Leaf making its presence felt. Lilac and Lily of The Valley make an appearance, and the basenotes introduce a little White Musk to this delightful bed of flower petals. It is impossibly feminine, almost bridal in its innocence and beauty.

Image I tried Pleasures recently and thought there was a silvery note in it. It’s hard to explain but it was more metallic than I remember, but not to any extreme, more of a tinkly silver wind chime.

Disappointingly, EL has seen the need to produce no less than SIXTEEN Pleasures flankers.  I’ve tried two: Pleasures Bloom and Pleasures Intense. Neither were a success for me.  It was as if someone had bulldozed my pretty meadow. It was as if someone had taken a Jane Austen novel, discovered people liked it and decided to make it into a Musical, a TV series and a range of dolls. Enough already!

 Pleasures is a classic. But leave the flankers well alone. You can have way too much of a good thing.  You know, like Gwyneth Paltrow.

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Karl Lagerfeld Sun Moon Stars: No Wonder KL prefers Apres L’Ondee

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Rumour has it that Karl Lagerfeld wears Guerlain Apres L’Ondee as his preferred scent. I don’t blame him. He must have distanced himself considerably from his earlier efforts, (although KL Original Chloe remains an excellent budget Tuberose for around ten pounds).

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I remember smelling Sun,Moon, Stars in 1995 when a friend of mine had a bottle, not long after its  launch in 1994. At the time, I wore Chanel Cristalle but also had a bottle of original Monsoon, with its little faux woven  pointed cap. I thought Sun, Moon,Stars and Monsoon smelled vaguely similar and remember finding SMS quite agreeable.

I miss the discontinued Monsoon (current Monsoon/Accesorize scents are not in the same league) and recently bought myself a little of Sun, Moon, Stars, hoping for some 90s magic. I bought it, brought it home, and got that familiar thrill when you first take the cellophane off a fresh bottle (I love that frisson!)

But wait…what fresh hell is this? Shreiky ,loud synthetic pineapple, which never smells good in scent, followed by some sort of metallic mess. I drooped. I was crestfallen. I washed it off.

Original Monsoon (apparently made as Wild Lagoon by Coty) was a wonderful Green Marine perfume with a mossy, Patchouli base. Sun. Moon,Stars seems to have lost a lot in translation  and/or has been reformulated beyond all recognition until they can barely justify using the same name.

Top notes are: Pineapple, Peaches, Bergamot, Freesia, Roses and Waterlily. What you actually get is loud, fake, factory farmed pineapple and some cheap tinned peaches.

Middle notes claim to  include Carnation, Heliotrope, Orris Root, Lily of the Valley and Jasmine. It sounds very promising, not to mention ambitious for its price tag, but in fact I couldn’t pick out anything but the Pineapple and Peaches.

Basenotes claim to be Sandalwood, Amber, Musk, Vanilla and Cedar, but by this time it was  a mushy fake fruit mess with metallic undertones.

It’s bad. It’s really bad. It’s too late for me, but save yourselves! Once again, I found myself logging onto to eBay and offloading it onto some poor sap with no nose. My apologies to the poor sap.

Next Just Pink: And Other Budget Buys

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Since starting my blog, I have smelled hundreds of perfumes that have been completely new to me, the good (Amouage Dia), the bad (Halston Catalyst) and the ugly (Thierry Mugler Womanity).

I have smelled expensive scents that smell cheap and cheap scents that smell expensive.  My current perfume crush is Carillon Pour Un Ange which retails at around 99GBP for 50ml. I  have only small phials of it.  For Now.

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However, there is a place for inexpensive every day perfume that costs so little that you don’t get all miserly  and anxious when you’re down to the last cenitmetre.  There are several excellent options on the High Street right now.  Marks and Spencer are doing pretty good Imagethings with their affordable range.  I have already reviewed Per Una Originale and I have been told that Per Una Exquisite is a dead ringer for the much mourned Quelque Fleurs by Houbigant. The Body Shop stocks trusty White Musk oil, as well as their Scents of the World range (very pretty but longevity not great on me).

I have heard good things about the Next range of fragrances but had not encountered them myself until recently.  Yesterday I treated myself to an inexpensive bottle of Next Just Pink.   And it’s just fine.

For an everyday office scent, this fits the bill. It won’t break the bank at 7.50GBP for 30ml and if you find someone who loves it, they do admirable gift sets too. It  has three notes, according to Fragrantica: Green notes, red fruit and floral notes, so it’s pretty vague.

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Here’s what I think it smells like: Roses, Peony, Soft Musk, Freesia and a whiff of Violets.

It’s pretty, in a clean laundry sort of way and won’t offend anyone. It would also make a good fragrance for a young teen just starting out on their perfume Odyssey.

However, many reviewers compare Just Pink favourably to Ralph Lauren Romance.  I have a sample of this so I tried it side by side.  Ralph Lauren has slightly more depth, but surprise! Our budget buy outlasted it on longevity.  Note by note, there wasn’t much in it.

There’s a lot to be said for a well made, High Street perfume with a friendly price tag. I’ve smelled no end of mainstream new launch fragrances in the £30 for 30ml price bracket that have no more to offer than this. Next Just Pink is going in  the handbag.  *cough* along with the other seven I already have in there.  Must get round to sorting it out.

Paco Rabanne Lady Million: All That Glitters Is Not Gold

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Lady Million by Paco Rabanne established itself in my consciousness on three occasions before I actually tried it.

1. During Richard E Grant’s wonderful TV series on Hotels he was lying on a huge bed interviewing a famous ex groupie. After she had listed her conquests, he said “You smell fabulous, what is it?” Yep. Lady Million

2. Sitting at a  table in a very beautiful pub in Oxford, the next table was full of drunk women (nothing wrong with that, I have been one myself!). One of them was being encouraged to take her purchase out and try it, she did indeed. The familiar gold bottle was taken out of its cellophaned box and sprayed liberally over all and sundry. Yes, it was Lady Million.

3. In Wilkinsons at Christmas, hovering over the perfumes. The Assistant offered me Lady Million ( I ended up buying Blue Grass). Her colleague came up and said “Oh I love that, give me a spray!” and went off to finish her shift.

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So it’s popular all over the world, and has a price tag of around 42GBP  for a 50ml EDT . However, It was a while before I realised what was turning me off. More of which anon.

Thankfully, Lady Million is nothing like her brother, Paco Rabanne 1 Million For Men, which makes me run away, with watering eyes and a rasping chest. 1 Million for Men is vile, loud and abrasive. You can smell it from thirty foot away. Thankfully, I don’t go to nightclubs any more, so I usually escape the toxic cloud.

Lady Million is white flowers, with Lily of The Valley, Gardenia and Neroli out and proud and dominating. Sadly, the white flowers smell horribly synthetic to me, or maybe I have been spoiled by better scents now.

The other sticking point with me is the Honey note. It seems to make the essential freshness of the white flowers sticky and cloying.  There is a place for sweetness in a perfume- Givenchy Amarige is a recent example of how sweet can work without sweeties, but in Lady Million the Honey took away the white, clean notes of the Gardenia and replaced it with something that left the flowers rather droopy and flat. It’s like a sticky stain on perfect white cotton.

It smells much cheaper than it is, and I have smelled cheaper scents that smell better too.  In any case, in not buying a full bottle of this, I am not only saving myself around 42GBP, but also escaping the fact that I will smell like everybody else should I wear it.  I call that a lucky escape.

Synthetic, over sweet, and ubiquitous, I’ll pass.

PS Thank you to The Fragrance Shop for kindly supplying this and other samples.