Category Archives: Floral Oriental

Avon Fragrances – The 2017 Guide

avon 2017 collage

Guess what the most searched for item on my blog dashboard is? Yep. By a country mile, it’s Avon perfume reviews or best Avon perfume. You may have gathered by now that I’m a big Avon fan and I see no sign of that changing any time soon.

avon retro3With a rapid turnover of scents, Avon is almost simultaneously discontinuing and launching fragrance faster than my little fingers can type, but that’s the nature of the game when you’re keeping up with ever changing trends in the beauty market.

The Avon Unique Selling Point is that they provide decent quality fragrance that fits in with current trends and places them at an affordable price point. You won’t get Guerlain quality nor the originality of niche, but you will get good fragrance that could hold its own on the High Street at far higher prices.

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My first Avon round up was in 2014 and my second was in 2016. Both get more hits than any post I have ever written, proving that Avon is definitely getting it right.

Here then, is my third and most up to date Avon round up based on what’s in the brochure right now. I promise not to include anything that’s discontinued nor anything I haven’t personally tried. Nostrils a-flaring? Let’s go.

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  1. Avon Little Sequin Dress

The very latest flanker in the Avon little dress series.  This is a fruity floral that’s light and pretty and does the job nicely, thank you. You can read my review here.

imari

  1. Avon Imari

A recent import from Avon USA, Imari is roses, lemon, sandalwood and aldehydes.  You can read my review here.  I have the EDT, but I would prefer it to be in eau de parfum form. It’s still a good handbag scent though.

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  1. Avon Luck

A vanilla scent right down to its toes. This doesn’t work on me but smells utterly divine on my friend Ellie who fell in love with it.  It lasted ages on her and she couln’t stop smelling her wrist.  My review is here.

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  1. Avon Dreams

Definitely in my top five favourite Avon scents. This is a woody floral that is dazzlingly feminine. Fans of Sarah Jessica parker Lovely will like this.  My review is here. In eth USA it’s called Prima.

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  1. Avon Far Away Infinity

If you like jasmine sambac and vanilla- a combination that has been huge in the last year, then you will love this one.  I found it very similar to Paco Rabanne Olympea, as did many Fragrantica readers. My review is here.far away bottle

  1. Avon Far Away

Avon’s bestseller for so long that I’m willing to bet they will never stop making it.  It even comes in 100ml bottles from time to time. This is a scent I smell very often on other people, possibly more than any other.  It’s vanilla to the point of coconut, teamed with freesia, roses and jasmine,  which ends up, as it began really: vanilla, coconut and white flowers.  I always think it smells warm and woolly like a cosy white blanket. You can buy it here.


little black dress

  1. Avon Little Black Dress

Another bestseller. I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like it. This is an elegant mix of plum, gardenia, jasmine and peony, with a musky base of sandalwood. Some say its smells like Dior J’Adore, and they’re not completely wrong.  You can buy it here.

little lace dress

  1. Avon Little Lace Dress

A bang-on trend combo of jasmine sambac and patchouli. It reminded me of so many far more expensive scents that I’ve smelled over beauty counters, but costs under ten quid.  You’ll know what I mean when you try it. My review is here.

far away bella

  1. Avon Far Away Bella

I love this fruity floral and wear it often. It’s light, long lasting and very- can I say girly? Is that OK? There it is.  It’s very girly. And it wears a little scarf.  Check out my review here.

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  1. Avon Perceive Oasis

Not just my favourite Avon, but in my top ten perfumes of all time. This is another long lasting fragrance: this time its peony, roses and jasmine that makes me smell like a pale pink bouquet. My review is here.

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  1. Avon Life

Created by Kenzo Takada himself, no less, Avon Life is a delightful take on violets that’s light as air and perfect for daytime.  Every note is delicate and translucent, as if painted in watercolours. There’s waterlily, green tea, apple and cherry blossom. You can read my review here.

viva la vita

  1. Avon Viva La Vita

Created for spring, but pretty all year round, Viva la Vita is crisp and fresh. It opens with apple and citrus, and  morphs into a mimosa floral before settling into a cashmere woody scent. My review is here.

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  1. Avon Rare Platinum

A knockout tuberose scent that combines this unmistakable creamy white flower with the tang of grapefruit. It’s presented in a bottle that reminds me of those American air bullet caravans in the 1950s.  Rare Platinum is sensational and I’m never without a bottle.  At £7 it’s a real bargain.  Read my review here.

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  1. Avon Silky Soft Musk

Not actually my favourite Avon, but again, they’ve come up with the goods by taking their bestselling Soft Musk scent and cloaking it in a silky vanilla accord. Very popular and only about a fiver last time I looked. My review is here.

soft musk

  1. Avon Soft Musk

I own a 50ml bottle of Soft Musk, as does my mother and as does my sister. It is a timeless floral musk with a hint of honeysuckle and peach. A couple of sprays and you can still smell it by tea time. My review is here. 

timeless

  1. Avon Timeless

An ambery powdery scent that was created in 1974. Avon discontinued this, only to bring it back thanks to customer demand, which was loud and long. My Avon Lady says this is her bestseller- many of her older customers have been using and buying it for decades. My review of Timeless  is here.

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17. Avon Attraction

Attraction is a fruity floral with a bit of praline in it, making it bang on the money right now. It opens with pear and pink pepper, travels via jasmine and orchid, and ends up with a gourmand woody finish. You can read my review here. 

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18. Avon Pur Blanca

Last but not least, and todays’ scent, is Pur Blanca.  This is a beautifully clean smelling scent that’s full of powdery white musk notes and smells like you’ve just been freshly bathed. It’s one of my favourite clean laundry musks and always makes me feel fresh as a  white linen sheet on a breezy washing line. My review of Pur Blanca is here.

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Stockists

Everything you see here is available from Avon UK and some are available from Avon USA.  You can of course, also buy from your Avon rep if you are lucky enough to have one. I do and she’s lovely- Hello Jill!

Opinions are my own. I’m just a superfan and paid for all my own stuff.

Over to you

What’s your favourite Avon? Can you remember getting Avon stuff for Christmas when you were little?  Do let me know.  I always love to hear from you.

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Welcome to MoodScent 4! In the Mood for Mainstream Scent

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We are four perfume bloggers based in France, Holland, England and Wales who post on a different joint subject every couple of months. This time we have chosen Mainstream perfumes. You will find links to the other blogs at the end of the post. We hope you have fun reading our different choices and adding your own selection in the comments.

Now, doing this was fun, as it always is, but this particular theme had a touch of serendipity about for me. There I was racking my brains on what to write about and idling fiddling with the bottles on my dressing table. and the answer was right in front of me. I picked up five of my most reached for bottles and realized they are all mainstream scents bought from my local shopping centre.  So here are five fragrances that I bought from the High Street in my local medium sized town in South Wales. In other words, if I can find them, then you’ll definitely be able to.  PS  By a happy coincidence, they are all really cheap.

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First by Van Cleef and Arpels

first by van cleefOur love story began when I obtained a mini bottle of this in a set from Argos.  It was true love and I was in full bottle territory shortly afterwards.  This is the one I reach for when I want to feel grounded.  In other words, it’s the nearest thing I have to a signature scent.

It unfolds from sophisticated aldehyde down to big peppery florals and ends in a mossy flourish. The genius behind it is none other than Jean Claude Ellena.  A 60ml bottle of the eau de parfum is under £30, which I call outstanding value for money.

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Coty L’Aimant

laimant bottl;eAnother classic that I wear for comfort and when I want to feel like my old self.  It was created in 1927, on the coat tails of Chanel No 5 and was made in the same style.  L’Aimant was the signature scent of my late grandmother, who was always such a lady.  It’s a stunning scent and the parfum de toilette is plenty strong enough.  I wasn’t so keen on the cologne though.

L’Aimant opens with aldehydes and peaches and travels through a middle phase of all the best flowers: geranium, roses and jasmine. They segue seamlessly into the woody vetiver base with a dusty, powdery flourish that speaks of decades of class and untouched perfection. I still keep thinking the price is a joke, but it’s not, and neither is this excellent classic.

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Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely.

I feel very strongly about SJP Lovely. It is my response to people who say they would never wear celebrity perfume and that cheap perfume doesn’t  smell good.  Lovely ticks both boxes. It’s a superb fragrance that I wear often. It’s long lasting and classy and the price is so low for quality of this calibre.

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I was introduced to this by my dear friend and shameless perfume enabler Lisa Jones. She said she wore it for the school run, you know, those moments when you notice the time, grab a bottle of what goes with everything and run out of the house. Within days of trying her bottle, I had my own 100ml bottle. It was one of those  fragrances.

Lovely is described as a silky white amber, but it’s so much more.  It opens with lavender and apple martini (don’t ask me!)  and orchid, which I don’t usually like.  The whole thing morphs into a feminine, pretty floral, but as soon as that’s registered, it becomes woody and gets a bit of texture from the patchouli.   Rounded off with amber and white musk, this is a stunning floral with an earthy, warm finish.  I just love the lavender in it that keeps it so ladylike and timeless.

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Lovely has outrun many celebrity fragrances and is regarded by many critics as  being excellent in its own right.  What makes me love it even more is that SJP herself was involved on every level and had very definite ideas about what she wanted. This was no mere “sign-here” deal.  She got in the way and rolled her sleeves up.

Having said that, credit must go tothe talented noses who actually made it- Laurent le Guernec and Clement Gavarrry for Coty.

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Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps

lairdutempsLike L’Aimant and First, this is a scent that will always be on my dressing table. There’s nothing like it, and that’s hard to find these days in a busy and often generic market. L’Air du Temps was created in 1948 and the dove on the bottle is the dove of peace in the turbulent post war period.

The scent is so familiar to me that it’s almost hard to deconstruct. It’s a gentle, luminous floral that also has peppery carnation, roses, jasmine, violet, a hint of talc and a warm mossy, woody amber finish.

Listing the notes does nothing to do it justice.  If you’ve never tried it, you must, and if you have, then I’m sure you’ll know why I love it so. Nothing the brand has done since has ever beaten this.

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Library of Fragrance

lof scentsLibrary of Fragrance really, absolutely and truly does have a scent for every occasion. It’s a brand that has a friendly, playful image, yet provides serious quality perfume. It is ideal for building a scent wardrobe and learning to layer fragrance, or just for pinning down that nostalgic note you couldn’t put your finger on until now. My recommendations are Musk # 7, Mahogany, Play Doh (see my love for it here), Salt Air, Rain, Snow, Grass, Orange Flower, Four Leaf Clover, Gingerbread and Myrrh.  Some of friends collect them and they look fabulous in the bathroom with their pharmacy style silver lid bottles.

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Cacharel LouLou

loulouLouLou has a special place in my heart.  This was the scent I was wearing when I  was catapulted into adult life from home to university back in 1988.  Everything I did for three years smelled of this.  I still have a bottle of this intriguing anise, plum, patchouli, oriental floral that pays homage to silent movie star Louise Brooks.  I’m certain it doesn’t smell as it did, though  Today’s version smells thinner and more metallic. I remember it was earthier and had a deeper resonance back in the 80s.   Like all of us, it was best in its youth, but spraying this into the air takes me back to  goth nightclubs, red wine, red lipstick and cigarette smoke faster than a time machine could.

It remains remarkably low priced and I adore the Art Deco bottle and  stylised flowers on the box.  I have a soft spot for all the Cacharel range, especially Noa and Anais Anais.

My Mood Scent 4 Chums

Find out what my Mood Scent colleagues put in their round ups.  Read what their thoughts on mainstream scents are from the links below:

  • Tara on A Bottled Rose (representing England) and
  • Esperanza in the Netherlands with her blog L’Esperessence,
  • and last but not least, the lovely Megan, who came up with this idea and brought us all together. Megan is based in France and you can read her blog MeganinSainteMaxime here.

Over to you

What’s your favourite High Street or main stream fragrance? Is there one you’ll never be without? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

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Thierry Mugler Aura: The Mugler I’ve Been Waiting For

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A new Mugler female fragrance is big news in perfume land. There have been flankers a plenty, but only three big ones since gamechanger Angel barged in and took over beauty counters in 1992: Alien, Womanity and this one: Aura.

It was in 1995 that I first tried Angel in the Harrods Perfume Hall, which seemed such a good place to try a Mugler for the first time that I did it again on Saturday.  I managed to sweet talk the lovely Sales Assistant in the Harrods Perfume Hall into not one but two samples of Aura.   Also, it provided brief respite from supercar spotting with my son in Knightsbridge.

aura bottle parfumo net
Photo by profumo.net

Aura has two brand new ingredients that were invented to fox bloggers and perhaps to ensure a lack of imitation.  When you think of how many big patchouli gourmands Angel inspired, it’s hard not to expect the same here.  However, Aura is not so easy to describe.

It opens with rhubarb and orange flowers.  I love rhubarb in fragrance.  If you have ever smelled Jour D’Hermes or Aedes de Venustas original then you will know how fabulous it can be.  It has a kind of  vegetal autumnal fruitiness that is perfect alongside the other ingredients in Aura.  The orange flower is to my nose, very girly and has facets of clean white soap alongside its typical white-flower headiness.

Photo by Mugler.Fr
Photo by Mugler.Fr

The two secret ingredients are Wolfwood from Firmenech (The flavour and fragrance  brand) and Tiger Liana, which  is totally going to be my stripper name if times get tough.

Tiger Liana alleges to be a smoky sugared almond note, but it’s hard to pick out a note I’m only guessing at, so in all honesty, I can’t tell you if it’s there or if my brain is putting it there .  I can pick out some wonderful dry, smoky woods, but I don’t know if its Wolfwood or just dry, smoky woods. In any case, the woody notes are there alongside the big. big orange flower, which I found to one of the most prominent notes in Aura.

photo from Fragrantica
photo from Fragrantica

The strongest overall impression Aura gave me was one of huge, juicy leaves in a rainforest with added gourmand and floral facets that frame  this green scent for the modern palate.   Aura has a wonderful “wetness” note to it that smells as leafy as the bottle is green.

As for the vanilla bourbon, well I didn’t really notice that until the end of the day when the leafy footprints  had faded and left only a rich vanilla liqueur in its place.   Longevity, by the way, is excellent.  I wore two sprays from morning until night.

Of all the Muglers, this is my favourite.   I don’t think it will be the game changer Angel was, but I think it’s one of the most palatable of the Muglers and the turned-down volume of it will be a crowd pleaser.   As for the  chiselled green jewel of a bottle -it is a huge divine emerald, which, if it were real, would be unapologetically vulgar and would look great on my third finger.

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My verdict? This is my favourite Mugler, but not the best. The best one is Angel, but that’s not my favourite.

Further reading: Thomas Dunckley, aka The Candy Perfume Boy, is for me, the last word on Mugler.  Here’s his review of Aura, which, and I’m not just saying this, is better than mine.  Please don’t enter it in the Jasmine Awards Thomas. I’d like an outside chance next year.

Stockists

This launches on June 30th and will be widely available. You can currently pre order it from The Fragrance Shop UK.   You should be able to find it post launch  from John Lewis and Escentual to name but two.  The bottle is refillable, which I totally applaud in this wasteful day and age.

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Avon Imari: It’s Coming to the UK

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Photo from Fragrantica. Design may vary for the UK introduction

My dear Avon Lady Jill gave me a little perfume sample when she dropped off  a late item yesterday.  I’m used to this now- Avon launches wide and often, which is fine by me.  However, when Jill said “This one’s called Imari” I stopped in my tracks. “Just a minute,” I thought, “that one’s only available in the USA.”

Dear reader, and fellow Avon fan (probably if you’re reading this) it is true.  Imari is coming to the UK.

sweet honestyThis has got me very excited because if they can bring Imari to us, then what else can they do?  I have always thought that if Avon did a heritage range of old favourites, then the people in my age group, i.e. late forties (but we look younger) would snap them up before you could say Foxfire.  Dare I hope for Eau Givree? For Odyssey? For Charisma?  My wishes are not impossible dreams. They did after all, bring Timeless back when customer clamour deafened, and jolly good it is too.

But did you know for instance, that the USA Avon brochure has Sweet Honesty, Odyseey, Candid and Night Magic?  Dare I hope we’re getting them too over here in the UK?

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So what’s Imari like?

Well it opens with citrus for a clean, bright opening.  There’s a nice bit of soapy aldehydes in the beginning, before this lurches into rose and patchouli territory, with some big noticeable white flower notes. It’s all rounded off with a bit of musk, incense and amber.  Despite calling itself a chypre, this lacks the mossy note that qualifies it as one, but I’m not going to nit-pick, because I want more.  There is a touch of vanilla in the finish,  but its warm and cosy rather than sweet and cakey.

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Avon has a particular talent for channelling into what’s hot on the high street and providing its own, more affordable take on current trends.   What delights me about this one is that Avon is looking beyond its younger demographic.  After all, they have all the vanilla and fruity florals and praline combos they could ever dream of.  What joy then, to get something for me and my tribe of fellow grand dames of a certain age (but look younger).  Imari was originally created in 1985, and we know how great all those fragrances were.

Avon Imari will be in the next brochure and you can queue behind me if you like. It won’t be expensive.  Avon UK, if you’re reading this, please bring the others over too!

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MoodScent 4: Wedding Guest Fragrances- How to Pick the Perfect Scent

Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale The Uninvited Guest
Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale The Uninvited Guest

Welcome to the second post in the MoodScent4 collaboration! We are four perfume bloggers based France, Holland, England and Wales who will be posting on a different joint subject every couple of months.  Each time we will individually pick a selection of five or so fragrances to fit a particular mood or occasion. You’ll find links to the other blogs at the end of the post.

We hope you have fun reading our different choices and adding your own in the comments.  

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Wherever you are in the world, you’re bound to have noticed that it’s wedding season: unless its currently Monsoon season where you are (i.e Wales), in which case, please read this later in the year when the sun’s out.

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With a number of wedding invites thudding on mats (I’ve had three this year), we thought it only fair to help you out with an informal guide to what scent to wear if you are a wedding guest.

As a wedding guest, there are certain protocols one must stick to.  For example, there’s the obvious blunder of wearing all white to a wedding, or wearing attention seeking outfits that may attract more looks than the poor bride gets.   Also, as a wedding guest, this is no place for racy cleavage and skimpy skirts.  If you’ve invited either of the Hadid sisters, you may want to pop a Post It note in their invitation.  Call me old fashioned, but I’ve seen a bag of oranges wear more string than they had on at the Met Gala (hoiks bosom and clutches pearls).

Don't wear this, unless the bride is wearing less than you.
Don’t wear this, unless the bride is wearing less than you.

Scent wise, the rules still apply, at least in my book. I wouldn’t wear anything loud or experimental that makes everyone look round in church for the wrong reasons.  Neither would I always play it safe and stick with airy florals (although they certainly have a place).

Here then, are my own personal mainstays when I am invited to a wedding.

 

 

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Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps

I wore this to the wedding I attended on Saturday.  It’s a beautiful classic floral that will be familiar to many, yet in my opinion, has never been overexposed.  It’s gentle, pretty, delicate and warm (dash of amber in the finish).  This is one fragrance I will never allow myself to be without.  Here’s my review. 

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4160 Tuesdays Raw Silk and Red Roses

With   a name like this, this beautiful scent just cries out to be worn at a wedding, and it suits the occasion perfectly.  This is my usual Go To scent for weddings but I couldn’t find it yesterday.  Like Virginia Woolf, my box of minis and samples needs a Room of One’s Own. Raw Silk and Red Roses smells so deliciously of old fashioned roses, yet it has depth and facets that lift this away from any other rose scent that I have tried.  You can read my review here.

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Cartier Baiser Fou

I fell hard for this after not being enamoured of the original Cartier Baiser Volé.  Where Baiser Volé was all about the lilies and not in a good way,  Baiser Fou is the fun, more playful sister.   Smelling like a cross between fresh raspberries, Milky Bars and expensive lipstick, this is perfect for a summer wedding where lipstick ends up on everyone.  You can read my review here.

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Andy Tauer Noontide Petals

I have yet to find anything that smells similar to this aldehyde beauty.  It’s bright with citrussy lime and clean soapy aldehydes, but changes throughout the day.   By the time the evening party comes around, you’ll be smelling of tuberose, jasmine, frankincense, patchouli and roses.   It has the added bonus of giving you the sure knowledge that nobody else will be wearing it.   Unless you are going to a wedding full of perfume peeps. You can read my review here.

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Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely

This one gets lots of mentions on my blog and that’s because it’s wonderfully versatile, long-lasting, and as girly as pigtails. I adore  Lovely. The florals give way to rich creamy woods and patchouli and the whole shebang lasts all day. I spray mine in my cleavage and the back of my neck and I was still catching delightful wafts at bedtime.  It’s not overpowering and I guarantee it will go with your dress.  For the price, this remains one of the best value fragrances I know.  It’s usually around £20 a bottle and I’m wearing it today.

How about you?

What scent do you wear to weddings? Do you have a favourite or do you  choose as you go?  Do let us know.  We’d love to hear from you.

Me with my two sons at a wedding two days ago.
Me with my two sons at a wedding two days ago.

Further Reading

I am chuffed to beans to have three international colleagues to collaborate with.  Find out what Tara,  Esperanza and Megan all had to say on the subject of wedding guest perfumes.  Between us we cover Wales, England, the Netherlands and France, which makes us the last word on European fragrances.  We decided.

A Bottled Rose

L’Esperessence

Meganinsaintemaxime

moodscent4 turquoise

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YSL Black Opium Floral Shock

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As you may know, I’m not really a fan of Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium.  I am a fan of Old Opium or OO as dear Lisa Jones calls it,  but sadly,  Black Opium was a turkey for me.

Ironically, I have in the past complemented two strangers on smelling fabulous, only to find out it was YSL Black Opium.  I guess, like stilettoes, it’s good on other people but not for me.

black opium

Recently I came across the latest Black Opium flanker,  Floral Shock. Anything with Shock in the title is always worth a punt and I tried two squirts on skin, one on sleeve and one on a blotter.  Reader, if I told you that the blotter is still going strong after a week, would you believe me? It is true. This stuff has nuclear longevity, which makes it a curse or a blessing depending on your preference.

Personally, I could define very few differences between Floral Shock and Black Opium.  The opening of Floral Shock is lighter than the opening of Black Opium and has more florals, as the name would suggest.  Both open with pear and vanilla and sweet syrupy fruit,  at least to my nose.  Both have strong coffee notes and thick vanilla.  In fact, the main difference between Black Opium and Black Opium Floral Shock is that the top notes of Floral Shock are slightly more floral.  The flowers do a little shimmy number, and then Floral Shock turns back into Black Opium again.

The Fragrance Shop UK
The Fragrance Shop UK

Apparently, Floral Shock has no patchouli in it, but I discerned plenty, or maybe I was getting confused because Black Opium has it and this is very similar.  What I know for sure is that if you already own a bottle of Black Opium then you probably don’t need this one too. There’s not much to play for.  In a fight it would be a draw.

This review  is, of course,  just my opinion and not gospel.  You may be one of the strangers I stopped and said “Sorry to bother you, but you smell amazing.  What is it please?” If you do wear this, you probably smell great, but trust me, on my skin this was red syrupy fruit, pears, coffee, vanilla and a little touch of migraine.

Fans of YSL Mon Paris and Dior Poison Girl may well enjoy this too.

Stockists: I found this in House of Fraser. You can also buy it from The Fragrance Shop UK among other places.

How About You?

Have you tried Black Opium or Black Opium Floral Shock? or are you a fan of the original? Or even the original original?  Do let me know.  I always love to hear from you.

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FiFi 2017 Winner: MB Perfumes Black Osmanthus by Marina Barcenilla

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If you’re in a  floaty peony sort of mood, I’m afraid you’ve come out of the wrong lift.  But if you’re looking for Black Osmanthus,  follow that woman with the black lipstick.  Follow her into that unmarked door with the smoky jazz  drifting out of it.   You’ll find what you’re looking for in there.

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Black Osmanthus by Marina Barcenilla won this year’s Fragrance Foundation Award for Best Independent Perfume, and I for one, was jolly pleased.  It’s not just because Marina does everything herself, including sourcing the absolutes and extracts that she makes her potent potions with, but because Black Osmanthus is not your usual dab it on after a shower and wear it to work fragrance.  Black Osmanthus breaks the mould and gives a rude salute ,  which appeals to the rebel in me  that so often, by necessity, gets supressed.

Osmanthus is the name for a genre of around 30 types of blossoming plants. Petals are usually white and the scent is likened to fruity, leathery blossom, often with apricot or peachy cadences.

Black Osmanthus is heavy, leathery, smoky and to my nose at least, has a hint of gorgeous creosote, like a freshly painted fence.  This is by no means a criticism- creosote is one of my favourite scents ever.

sam and marina
Marina Barcenilla at the FiFis. She let me hold her award for the photo. I am planning to steal it.

Black Osmanthus opens with all the subtlety of an Avon Lady knocking your door down with a sledgehammer.  On my skin, it takes me straight into smoky, leathery tar territory and I pretty much stay there.  I should tell you that Marina wore this the night of her win and in a room full of fume heads wearing their favourite scents, this beautiful smoked leather was distinct and true throughout the evening.

Black+Osmanthus (1)

This is made from layers of leathery notes: There’s rich saffron stamens, dark patchouli, almost sticky in its depth,  bay rum and myrrh.

The flowers are, if you’ll pardon the pun, no shrinking violets: there’s tuberose and jasmine and they’re not dainty.  The oakmoss sits with the other tough guys and makes this the ultimate dark, leathery spicy scent for those who have been seeking exactly this.  It reminds me of those little vials of Middle Eastern attar with its amber juice that let the fumes escape like snakes.

Lasting power is fantastic.  Spray at dawn and enjoy wafts of it until dusk.  And then stay up all night.

Further reading  Check out Stephan Matthews excellent review here.

Stockists  You can buy Black Osmanthus samples from the MB Parfums website, but beware, this may lead to a full bottle and you will have to get used to telling strangers what you’re wearing.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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Dear Aunty Sam: Your Perfume Problems Answered-Part Four

‘La mauvaise nouvelle’ (‘Bad News’) (1804) by Marguerite Gérard (1761-1837). Oil on canvas. Musée du Louvre, Paris

Once again, I am putting on my glasses and trying to look important  Yes, indeed:  it’s time for more of your perfume problems!

I must apologise to poor Charlotte who wrote in with this week’s problem.  It’s taken me so long to respond and I apologise profusely.  I do hope you still like me Charlotte! I blame the Easter Holidays,  a camping trip, several writing jobs, my two children,  four workmen,  a drain, a flood and a loss adjustor.  I’ll be quicker next time, so do write in! You can email me on iscentyouaday@gmail.com or comment below or on my Facebook page.

Here is Charlotte’s letter:

Dear Aunty Sam

I absolutely love Viktor &Rolf Flowerbomb but it is SO expensive! Can you suggest other scents that are very similar but not quite so pricy?

Charlotte

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My dear Charlotte,

rsz_dr_sam (1)This is an excellent question and I’m sure you’re not alone in wanting an answer.  Viktor and Rolf Flowerbomb is much beloved, but as you point out,  not very cheap.   Many perfume fans reckon it smells similar to mega blockbuster Lancôme La Vie est Belle. To give credit where it’s due, Flowerbomb got there first, way back in 2005,  whereas La Vie est Belle didn’t emerge until 2012.

So what can I recommend that will make you smell amazingly Flowerbomb-like and still be budget friendly?  Here goes:

World Class Perfumes Perfumer’s Choice “Natalie”

natalieThe World Class Perfume Group owns Milton Lloyd and Taylor of London, who make a lot of the Lentheric and Yardley stuff of yesteryear such as Panache and Chique.

The Perfumer’s Choice arm of the business has a small range of very long-lasting fragrances which are guaranteed to last at least six hours, and I can vouch that they definitely do.  Natalie is so similar to La Vie est Belle that I thought I’d sprayed the wrong bottle.  It lasted around eight hours and has the combo of flowers and warm, sweet gourmand notes that make it so similar that this blogger was fooled.  The packaging ain’t fancy, but, boy, it’s value for money.  I reviewed it here and at the time, I couldn’t quite make the connection as I don’t think I was familiar with its doppelganger at the time,  but I smelled it recently and thought YES.

Coming in at the very reasonable price of £14 for 83m of EDP, or £7 for 50ml of Parfum de Toilette (to me PDT is stronger than EDT, not quite as strong as EDP) Perfumer’s Choice Natalie is available from this website or from Amazon UK.

Agent Provocateur Fatale

agentprovThis has the big white flowers and the patchouli and orchid of Flowerbomb.  Imagine Flowerbomb with an accent of grated dark chocolate and you’re not far off AP Fatale.  Available for just 12,95 from one of my favourite sites : allbeauty. com, this is far cheaper than Flowerbomb and possibly cheap enough to risk a blind buy.

I hope this helps you Charlotte, and again, I do apologise for the lengthy delay

Ask me for help!

Are you pensive about perfumes? Fanatical about fragrance?  Addled by aldehydes?  Confused dot com?  I’m here to answer any questions you might have, whether it’s a smellalike, a reformulation question or a where-can-I-buy-it query.  Just ask.  I always love to hear from you.

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The Very Best Celebrity Fragrances 2017 (The Updated IScent Guide)

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The problem with celebrity fragrances is that they keep getting discontinued.  Out of my favourites from just three years ago, around six are impossible to get now.  The rumour on the grapevine is that celeb fragrances are on the way out, or at least on the way down, and I have mixed feelings about this. antonio_banderas_blue_seduction_for_men1Firstly, if all celeb fragrances were of the fruity floral fruitichoulil smellalike genre that so many were, then fine.  See ya.  No problem here. However, celebrity fragrances are like jumble sales.  It might look like a load of junk but when you rummage, you find gold and treasure.

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The other great thing about celebrity fragrances is that they are not expensive. They’re competing with other celebrity fragrances which are also not expensive, so they can’t risk sky high prices. That’s not their demographic.  Oh, and don’t forget that the celebrity doesn’t actually make them.  Celeb fragrances are made by liztemrespected houses such as Givauden, Coty and Elizabeth Arden.  I really can’t see Beyoncé in a lab coat with a pipette moaning about the price of orris butter, can you?  Lovely mental image though.

I have found some absolute gems among celeb fragrances and I am genuinely sad not to be able to buy some of them anymore.

What follows below is an up-to-date, up-to-the minute round up of celebrity fragrances that you can definitely easily buy at the moment at the time of going to press, I promise.  Some are old faithfuls that have been around a while, and show no signs of leaving,  and some are new.  All of them are jolly good, at least in my opinion.

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  1.  Sarah Jessica Parker Stash SJP

This is my number one favourite.   SJP is rare in that she is deeply involved in the scents she creates and her own tastes influence what she launches.  In the case of Stash, I applaud her for taking a risk.  This smoky sandalwood and incense treat was never going to be a mass market crowd pleaser, but critics and fumeheads love it, as do I.  Here’s my review and here’s where you can buy it.

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  1.  Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely

I wear this regularly and now that my 100ml bottle is going down, I’m looking to replace it.  It suits just about everyone and to me, it has a wonderful 50s retro feel.  You can read my review here.  Many compare it to Narciso Rodriguez For Her.  You can buy Lovely in many places at varying prices. I bought mine from  here.

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  1.   JLo Glow

A wonderfully clean scent that reminds me of freshly washed hair and clean laundry.  It lasts for ages too.   Launched in 2002, this shows no sign of going anyway and has become a classic for good reason.  You can buy it here. 

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  1.  Britney Spears Curious

This was launched way back in ’04, which is a long time ago in the perfume universe..  I complimented a friend on this and asked her what she was wearing- I was surprised when I found out it was Britney Curious as I’d written it off.   Its use of magnolia and pear sets it apart from the usual pink sugary fruity florals and it has a lovely light feel to it with no stickiness.  Extra points for the beautiful blue glass bottle, and if you can get one with the puffy squeezy atomiser, even better.  You can buy it here.

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  1.  Rihanna Rogue

Rogue made an impact on me because it didn’t go in the obvious direction that it could have. I t could have gone all pink pepper and red berries and vanilla, but it didn’t.  In fact, it reminded me of Serge Lutens Daim Blond, which is all about the unusual but genius combination of suede and apricots.  Here’s my review of Rogue and here’s where you can buy it.

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  1.  Rihanna Reb’l Fleur

I have a full 100ml bottle of this.  I wouldn’t normally have thought of buying it, but my dear brother picked it out for me himself for my birthday. I was so touched. I hardly ever get perfume as a gift (violins!) and I was delighted to get this whopper.  Reb’l Fleur is a heavy hitting, patchouli rich fruity floral with a hit of coconut and vanilla.   Sillage is massive and longevity huge.  Two sprays in the morning and you’ll be sorted till tea time. You can buy it here.

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  1.  Celine Dion Sensational

By a happy turn of fate, I stumbled across this in my local Lloyds Pharmacy when I was picking up my husband’s prescription.  There was a tester at the till and it was on special offer at 9.99.  I didn’t buy it  that day, and when I went back, it was gone.   However, I fell in love with it.  It lasted at least seven hours and was a delicious melange of pear, plum, freesia, lily of the valley and violet.  It opens like a juicy tropical fruit scent and segues into a stunning musky floral.  The nose behind it is the legendary Maurice Roucel.  This one is at the top of my Wanted list. You can buy it here.

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  1. Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds

This opens like an aldehyde and ends like a chypre.  Full of old school Hollywood glamour, this is bursting with all the rich white flowers: tuberose, jasmine, neroli.  It’s not really one for the young palate of today, but as a fan of classic chypres and big eighties sillage, this is right up my street.  It’s cheap as chips and widely available.  Round of applause for the diamante choker round its neck. You can buy it here.

adam levine

9.  Adam Levine For Her

This is a real gem that often goes under the radar.  Lisa Jones let me borrow her bottle and I was very impressed. This comes in a smart white box in a bottle that’s shaped like a microphone. This is a woody, slightly spicy scent with a long, langorous sandalwood base.  It is so cheap I was suspicious, but I can vouch for its fabulousness.  Plus you know, Adam Levine.  Cor.  You can read my review here and buy it from here for less than ten quid.  Oh, and it’s totally unisex, so ignore the “For Her” label.

www.fruugo.co.uk
www.fruugo.co.uk
  1. Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights

This has featured on my previous best celeb scents list and it qualifies for this one because it is still available and still cheap.  It has patchouli, papyrus and amber, and many say that it is a dead ringer for Prada Amber ( and it is!).  Still available on Amazon for under £20 for a big bottle.  Here’s my review.

jlopez_deseo-perfumeThe ones I miss

The following celeb fragrances are either available but three times the price they were, or impossible to find.  Reader, I mourn them: JLo Deseo, Hilary Duff with Love, Sarah Jessica Parker The Lovely Collection- Dawn, Endless and Twilight, Queen by Queen Latifah, Manifesto by Isabella Rossellini.

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The ones I want to try

Antonio Banderas’s vast range (he has been launching scent since 1997), Drew Barrymore’s new ones, Joan Collins’ new ones for Marks and Spencer, Sofia by Sofia Vergara and Elizabeth Taylor Gardenia and Passion, which I still haven’t tried.

 How about you?

What celebrity fragrances do you like to wear? Which ones do you miss?  Which do you want to try?  Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

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