Category Archives: Floral

Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche: Still an Icon

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I have very fond memories of YSL Rive Gauche, (named after the arty Left Bank of the Seine) but it has been so embedded in my memory that I find it hard to de construct.  When considering what to write about it, my first instinct was to write “Rive Gauche smells like Rive Gauche”, which of course, would make a short and inadequate review.

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Created the same time as I was (1970) and launched a year later,  Rive Gauche and its iconic tin canister has certainly  played its part in my olfactory memory.  My first memory of it is of my primary school teacher wearing it in 1978.  I didn’t know its name then, but the scent memory stayed with me.

My mother then wore it in the 80s, which is how I learnt its name.  My recent foray was yesterday, when I tried the modern formulation, and unlike many purists, I did not find it lacking.  It was still very recognisable as Rive Gauche and the memories came flooding back, although the opening was a very 70s melange of powder, soap and white noise.

As I said, it’s heard to break this down.  It’s not an Oriental, but it’s sort of Woody.  It’s definitely an Aldehyde and a Floral.  Longevity is remarkable at ten hours..Image

So what’s it like?  It’s very 70s, yet timeless.  The opening reminded me of  Givenchy Ysatis, which isn’t good on me:  it was soap, powder and dust. However, when this small fog cleared, the good old fashioned smell of Rive Gauche was there, just as I remembered it.  It opens with clean smelling aldehydes, with a background of flowers: definitely Jasmine, Iris, and Rose. The flowers are muted though, in a refined sort of way, rather than the modern “in your face” way that can sometimes happen.

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Dare I say it?  The Iris calms everything down and keeps this both smooth and rich.  It wouldn’t be the same without it.  The finish is slightly woody (Oakmoss), but the florals stay true and rich.  It’s so good I may consider getting a bottle.  I rarely smell it on anyone these days, which is a great shame.

So hard to describe, yet I could recognise it in an instant.  Are there any fragrances that you remember form when you were very young?  Do you find them hard to describe or it is just me?

Stockists You can find YSL Rive Gauche in many places. Try Amazon UK or allbeauty.com

Nina Ricci: L’Air du Temps

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When I first tried Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps in 1991, I was 21 and thought it an innocuous and pretty light floral.  Revisiting it in 2013, aged 43 (but I look younger, we decided *cough*), I realised that my first impression was way off the mark.  This is a floral with a bit of bite. This one is all about the  warmth. The flowers are just the picture frame.

 L’Air du Temps was created in 1948 and the classic bottle represents the dove of peace: a poignant symbol in post war Europe.  The fragrance itself is a complex mix of light and shadow.  The light comes from Rose, Bergamot and Violet: made airy and floaty with a light hand. The shadow comes from spicy warm Amber, raspy Vetiver, Benzoin and deep, dark Cloves. In other words, just when you think you’ve got it sussed, it changes into something different.

lair du temps adThe balance of the two results in a fragrance of genius.  It is light enough to be as delicate as a cloud, yet the base that remains makes it smoky, warm and rich.  When I tried it yesterday the most prominent note was Amber. It was there from beginning to end.  However, this is no rich Oriental: all warm and cosy.  This is almost a sleight of hand.  All those light, pretty florals promise one thing and then they fade into that classy and gently spiced finish that seems to say “there’s more to me than meets the eye.”

This is a classic scent that everyone should have in their collection.  I understand there have been reformulations across the decades, but I cannot speak for them unless I have smelled them.  It is also interesting, that I can’t for the life of me, name a scent that it resembles. (Fragrantica readers say Prince Matchabelli Wind Song, but I would have to have smelled that in order to agree).

For a flawless classic, this is a great price, starting  at around 15GBP.  I’ve run out again, but will be putting that right very soon.

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Tableau de Parfums: Ingrid by Andy Tauer : There is Warmth Behind the Hauteur

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This is the latest scent from the Tableau de Parfums range.: a collaboration between filmmaker Brian Pera and Perfumer Andy Tauer.  Ingrid joins previous creations Loretta (which I haven’t tried) and Miriam (which I have reviewed in this blog and which I liked very much).

It’s a new launch, only recently released, and I am lucky enough to have been able to obtain a sample from Scent and Sensibility, which for UK Tauer fans, is a very good way of sampling them without the annoying perfume posting regulations that are the bane of our lives. My sample was £4.50 for a 2ml spray. I consider this excellent value as longevity is so good.Image

Ingrid is hard to categorise.  I recently reviewed Vitriol d’œillet by Serge Lutens which is a Clove/Carnation combo.  At first I thought Ingrid was similar but I was wrong. Ingrid is earthy and reminds me of birch or tar or dried bracken. There is winter spice too, but not in a chintzy Christmas way, you’ll be relieved to know. The Rose is prevalent, and as with other Tauer scents, no Rose is the same twice.  In this case, the Rose reminds me of dried petals in a pot pourri- they have gone paper thin and their colour has faded but their scent has gone faintly peppery. Nevertheless it can still be recognised as Rose.

Image Ingrid is rich and spicy, but dry rather than sweet. It left me thinking I could smell the deep dark scent of Myrrh, but it may have been the resinous Styrax which is used so beautifully.

On my skin, the base notes of Ingrid are Clove, dried Roses, Resin and Frangipani. It’s rich, dark and mysterious yet the ingredients have been used lightly enough not to overwhelm.  It’s a winter scent that would make you stand out in the crowd for all the right reasons. It reminds me of bare wintery trees and faded petals and hot spiced brandy. It is layered and complex and beautiful. Longevity, as ever is excellent. Around ten hours. If ever a perfume was created to be worn in snow against a backdrop of stark bare branches, it was this. It injects spice into winter and warmth into frost.  It makes me think of a woman who is always immaculately dressed,  maybe a little scary, but deep down she has a heart of gold. I will always be friends with Ingrid and Miriam.

EDIT: Scent and Sensibility has now sadly closed.

 

 

Ralph Lauren Big Pony No 4 For Women: Death by Cherrybomb

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On trying Ralph Lauren Big Pony Number 4 For Women, I was shocked to read the blurb. It is apparently intended for a “dynamic woman ready for challenges” and ” it is described with a floral-oriental composition created of wild cherry and violet amber”. I beg to differ.  The total berry overkill makes this a smellalike to Britney Spears Midnight Fantasy: a vanilla/strawberry candy floss concotion.  The only Midnight Fantasy it would create would be for that of a an 8 year old girl longing for a midnight feast having been banned from eating sugar. But I digress.

Ralph Lauren Big Pony Number 4, alleges to be a floral oriental.  Now maybe I’m getting this wrong but this is about as Oriental as fish and chips. On Fragrantica only two notes are listed: Cherry and Amber. The problem is that  the teeth clenchingly sweet Cherries simply dominate and the Amber only has the strength to peep out briefly from under a ten tonne cherry stone. This doesn’t come cheap either, but you can be comforted by the fact that if you know of any fans of Big Pony Number 4, you could easily decant the cheaper Britney Spears Midnight Fantasy into an empty bottle.  Or failing that, cherry syrup. “Dynamic Woman ready for challenges?”  More like a fourteen year old girl having a sleepover and googling Harry Styles on her IPhone.

Estee Lauder Beautiful: Beauty is Subjective

paulinaI had my first bottle of EstImageee Lauder Beautiful for my 18th birthday, bought for me by my father. I don’t know how he chose it.  He and Mum had been divorced for eight years by then, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t her idea.  It was 1988 and the adverts on the TV and in magazines portrayed the beautiful Paulina Porizkova as a bride. Certainly there is something very bridal about this many flowers in one place.

Beautiful pretty much uses so many floral notes that there are none left for anyone else.  Back then I noticed Roses.  These days I notice the Tuberose and the Jasmine more powerfully than any other notes.  In fact I’d go as far as to say that it doesn’t do to break Beautiful down into individual notes.  The cacophony of different flowers almost produces abeautiful-estee-lauder-perfumes new hybrid flower, which, if it existed in real life, you would only ever need one in a bouquet, and nothing else.  That would be plenty, believe me.

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My taste has changed since I was 18, which was 25 years ago.  These days I don’t like my scents so sweet. However the creamy, loud, sweet flowers of Beautiful will always hold a place in my heart as it is the first proper bottle of perfume I ever owned.  I will never forget the thrill of seeing the pink and gold box when I took off the wrapping paper.

The notes include an eclectic range: Amber, Sandalwood, Rose, Carnation, Tuberose, Narcissus, Lilac, Bergamot, Jasmine, Geranium, Marigold…If you saw the notes written down and had never smelled Beautiful, you imagination would be thoroughly confused by all the contradictionsbeautiful.

Creamy flowers, loud and proud, with a warm, sandy finish. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but to me, it speaks of the idealised glamour I aspired to when I was 18, when even my spectacles were rose tinted.

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Andy Tauer Le Maroc Pour Elle: In The Beginning…

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Le Maroc Pour Elle is the first perfume that Andy Tauer launched.  Luckily for us, its success persuaded him to make more and his second perfume, L’Air Du Desert Marocain, was even more successful and is spoken of in reverent tones by many a perfume fan. The rest is history.

 Le Maroc Pour Elle was an unusual one for me.  My first impression was that it smelled like a cross between Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass and  Worth Je Reviens.   However,  and it’s a big however, when the rose kicks in, the whole puzzle really comes together and makes sense.

Within around ten minutes this smells like one of those wonderful independent shops filled with a plethora of incense and candles and tiny phials of perfumes oils and pot pourri.  It’s very BoHo, very hippie, and has a whimsical nostalgia about it.

The lavender is strong, and pervades throughout, which can sometimes give a soapy/detergent feel when used with a heavy hand, but here, it is kept in check by the roses.

The base stays light, unlike many Tauers in which the basenotes become richer and resonant in the final phase. Le Maroc Pour Elle makes me think of a retro hippy market on a summer’s day, incense is in the air, you’re wearing freshly laundered clothes and walking past a flower shop. You’ve got all the time in the world and the sky is blue.

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PS My three year old stopped what he was doing and ran across the room to say “Mum, you smell LOVELY” whilst my seven year old said “No you don’t, you stink.”

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Andy Tauer PHI Rose de Kandahar-It’s Here!

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I am an unabashed fan of Andy Tauer. That doesn’t mean I blindly love everything he does: for some reason Reverie au Jardin disagrees with me, but I’d pretty much take a Tauer scent any day of the week.

What I love about Tauers is that Andy is a one man show.  He’s not a boardroom full of shirts looking at focus groups and trends.  He doesn’t have to go through a comittee and he’s not part of a global organisation (apart from having a distribution partner).  He’s a lone wolf and that makes things very interesting right from the start.

The development of PHI Rose de Kandahar has been well documented via Andy’s blog and Facebook page and it’s finally available in the UK.  This is a limited edition as Andy’s vat of Rose de Kandaher absolute is not bottomless (hence its inclusion in the “Collectibles” range). So now I finally have my treasured sample. Was it worth it?  Oh yes.

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fragrantica.com

PHI Rose de Kandahar has a Middle Eastern richness to it. Initially it’s honeyed roses and almonds and dried apricots: it reminds me of a scented Souk. At first this edible combination was very Turkish Delight, just for a moment.  But what happens next is that it transforms into, unless I’m mistaken, something not unlike a good Arabian Oud.  I often find Oud too strong for me, but in Rose de Kandahar it’s like a robust backdrop to something altogether more delicate. The irony is that there is no Oud in it, but the combination of tobacco, ambergris, vetiver and patchouli gives this a very rich and almost prickly base.   It’s like serving an aromatic Bacchanalian feast on a rough granite table. The contrast of the rough with the smooth enhances the delicacy of the ingredients.

Here are the notes as listed on Fragrantica:

 apricot, cinnamon,
bitter almond, bergamot

Rose of Kandahar essential oil,
Bulgaria rose absolute, Bourbon geranium, dried tobacco leaves.

patchouli, vetiver, vanilla,
tonka beans, musk, ambergris.

 There is an interesting Feel Good back-story to this.  The Kandahar roses that produce this absolute were grown in Afghanistan by farmers that have been subsidised to produce roses instead of growing plants that provide the base materials for drug use (“Hungerhilfe”). In other words, Make Roses, Not Drugs.

The wonderful fragrance alone is reason enough to love this, but  add the milk of human kindness and  you have just one of the many reasons to love PHI Rose de Kandahar.

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Serge Lutens Vitriol D’œillet: The Carnation Bites Back

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I really didn’t know what to make of Serge Lutens Vitriol D’œillet when I first sprayed it.  I thought it was a slightly bitter Aldehyde with brash, unadulterated sour limes. However, it soon morphed into something altogether different as it dried, but the opening  blast was worthy of a Tauer and reminded me of how Andy Tauer uses Aldehydes and Bergamot in a retro way.

Paradoxically, once Vitriol has calmed down, it heats up.  Before long, spiky, spicy Carnations take over.  Their prickliness is enhanced with a backdrop of strong clove, pepper and chilli. However, there still seems to be some Bergamot in the backdrop, even though it is not listed as a note.

Image I find Vitriol very unusual.  I have to pay it the compliment of saying that although I’m not sure I like it, it has really kept my interest today and I can’t stop sniffing it.  It’s almost like a mystery that I want to solve.  The Carnation is there, but it’s not a floral scent.  The edible spices are there, but it’s not savoury. It has Peppers and Chili but is not a gourmand.

In fact, I’m not sure what category I would put this into, but I really want to get to know it better.  I guess I’ll put it in the “Fascinated” category.  This one might just creep up on me and make me fall in love with it, but right now, the jury’s out. Oh, and don’t buy it blind.

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La Vie est Belle Legere: Now it’s Just Right

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Forgive my brief absence.  I spent a few days in beautiful West Wales with family (the photograph is of Cenarth Falls, Pembrokeshire). Sadly I did not make it to nearby  Caldey Island, nor did I manage to purchase the world famous Lavender soliflore that the Monks of Caldey make. It’s considered the best Lavender soliflore in the world by none other than Luca Turin himself. There is still time though.  I’ll be going back when there are fewer big waves. Image

I reviewed Lancome’s La Vie est Belle earlier in my blog and found it pretty, but  a little too gourmand for true love.  At the time I remember wishing they’d crank up the flowers and phase out the praline.  Well, it looks like my wish came true.

 La Vie est Belle L’Eau de Parfum Legere (also known as La Vie est Belle Legere is a perfect balance.  You can still smell the Angel influence (as with most modern gourmands) but they have turned up the volume on the Jasmine (Jasmine Sambac to be precise) and really toned down the Caramel and Praline notes that put me off the original.

I also found the top Blackcurrant note very pleasing and more noticeable this time round.  As much as I dislike red fruit and an over use of berries in scent, I rather like a touch of thirst quenching Blackcurrant if it’s done without too much sweetness.

I did hesitate before reviewing this since I have already covered La Vie est Belle, but I found this different enough to merit its own review.  The drawback is that you will still smell like other people. It’s very mainstream.  Imagine if you diluted Angel by 90%, added some fresh, sharp blackcurrants and filled the gaps with radiant Jasmine. You’d pretty much have this at the end.  I found this far more wearable than the original, and wouldn’t turn down a bottle, but I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to purchase it. A good scent though: very pretty.

Stockists

You can buy  La Vie est Belle Legere  from Debenhams or allbeauty.com .

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Estee Lauder Private Collection Amber Ylang Ylang: A Perfect Balance

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 I have been wearing Estee Lauder Private Collection Amber Ylang Ylang today and I am more than satisfied with this tender golden treasure.  Sometimes I want some heat and spice, but not too much. Yesterday I went overboard with the very robust La Fumée, and today I wanted to tone things down a bit.

Amber Ylang Ylang does what it says on the tin.  However, it doesn’t end there. The genius here is not just in matching these two, but in the expert blending so that one enhances the other without taking over.

Amber is one of my favourite notes for Autumn: it’s the gentler side of the Oriental genre. Ylang Ylang is one of those flowers that rarely overpowers.  Estee Lauder wisely held back from using dominant Jasmine in this one and played a gentler card alongside the rich Amber.

Longevity is very good.  I tried this not long after 9am and it’s there, although close to skin, eight hours later. It reminded me of sparkling ginger ale in that it is both spicy and refreshing at the same time.

There is Bergamot in the opening notes, which probably gives this its sparkle, whilst Cinnamon, Incense and Sandalwood warm up the Amber without getting heavy handed.

Overall, this is a delightfully warm and cosy scent, but what makes it stand out for me is the restraint used.  It’s an Oriental Lite pleasant enough for daywear.  In fact, daywear should be positively encouraged. I would love more people to wear this.