Category Archives: Floral Oriental

Five Decades of #Scent Memories: National Fragrance Day 2017

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Dear reader, I am now in my fifth decade and due to toast the start of my sixth in 2020 when I turn 50.

To me, scent is like a Tardis. It takes you back in time so fast that you can be stepping out the Tardis door into 1976 after one whiff of Panache.  More instantly evocative than a photograph or a song,  a fragrance can whisk you back to the scent of the primary school teacher whose name you forget, but whose perfume you can recall as if a switch has been flicked in your head.

Please join me on my mini odyssey through the smell of the 70s, 80s, 90s, Noughties and Twenteens and do share your #scentmemories below.

The Smell of the 1970s.

1970s

I was born in 1970. The first ten years of my life can be summed up, at least in the olfactory sense, as a combination of cigarette smoke (not mine), the smell of a roast cooking, mud, ferns, bluebells, Woogiraffedleigh Green Apple Shampoo, Avon Pretty Peach and Avon Occur, in a giraffe shaped bottle, no less. Quite how giraffes and perfume go together, I never thought to question, but he literally had some brass neck.

My teachers wore Cacharel Anais Anais, which hasn’t changed to this day, as long as you sidestep the “Delice” version. I can’t remember what scent my mother wore, but she always smelled nice.  My grandmother wore Coty L’Aimant, which I didn’t recognise then, but which moves me to gusty sighs of melancholy  now she isn’t here.

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The Smell of the 1980s.

Formative years mean a thirst to both stand out and blend in at the same time. I was groping for an identity and slowly moving into and out of adolescence. It was 1981 before I gradually weaned myself off

sindyplaying with Sindy dolls. I can still vividly recall the smell of the vinyl heads and strange nylon hair, inevitably knotted to all hell within a week of ownership.

My first ever scent that I paid for myself was a splash bottle of Bluebell perfume from Boots No 7. Long since discontinued, I have sought that bluebell scent ever since.  My mother bought me a bottle of Jontue from a trip she went on, and one Christmas I had a bottle of Cachet.  I wore this A LOT.  I also remember Avon Eau Givreé: a beautiful green hesperide that has long since been discontinued.

My teens saw me receive my first ever bottle of proper fragrance from my father for my 18th birthday. It was Estee Lauder Beautiful and I still love it now. 1988 saw me leave home at go to Exeter Uni, where the most memorable scents were Marlboro cigarettes, red wine and lashings of Cacharel LouLou.

1980s collage

Meanwhile, over in Denver Colorado, Alexis Carrington was cracking the whip.  Excess, big shoulder pads, big hair and big smells were all the rage.  On the High Street, there was the unmistakable cloud of Giorgio Beverly Hills and a miasma of Dior Poison mingled with Body Shop White Musk and Dewberry. The Nightclubs smelled of Calvin Klein Obsession, and my one little egg shaped bottle took me into the 1990s.

The Smell of the 1990s

The caring, sharing Nineties sobered everyone up and made us wear ozonic scents in an urge to cleanse ourselves of the Eighties excesses. All my friends smelled of Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey, which is no bad thing. I had discovered Chanel Cristalle, also a light scent that was the opposite side of the spectrum to Poison, Obsession and Giorgio. The 1990s saw me graduate and move to London, which smelled very different to Devon.  London air is thicker, dirtier and there were more cigarettes smoked and more traffic fumes, but reader, to me it was the smell of freedom and wonder and possibility.

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1992 saw the launch of the iconic Thierry Mugler Angel. I remember smelling it for the first time in Harrods Perfume Hall and thinking “but why would I want to smell like chocolate?” I appreciate it now of course, for the multi-faceted classic it is, but back then it was revolutionary among the ozonic and airy fairy Nineties scents. Meanwhile, in 1997, Gucci launched the now much-mourned Gucci Envy.  So good was this floral green scent with a vein of metal running through it, that I dumped Cristalle and remained almost exclusive to Gucci Envy until it was cruelly taken from us in 2007.

The Smell of The Noughties

The Noughties saw a revolution in celebrity fragrance.  Elizabeth Taylor had been churning them out since 1991, but they were largely seen as fan fodder until 2002 when Jennifer Lopez launched the brilliant Glow. It was a clean, white fragrance that pleased the crowds and began a snowball of celebrity fragrances taking off.  Britney Spears got in on it, as did many of her contemporaries and soon the perfumeries were chock full of celeb scents. Sarah Jessica Parker brought new possibilities with SJP Lovely and some of the snobbery dissipated when we realised that celebrity stuff can be pretty darn good. (I’m still a celeb scent geek)

noughties collage

The noughties also mark the only two years of my adult life where I have been without any fragrance and that’s because I had my sons during that decade.  Their first scent memory is of my skin.  No deodorant, no perfume, just me.  It wasn’t easy getting those babies, but it was worth it.

The Smell of the Twenteens

Now things really start to spice up. I started my blog on January 2nd 2013. It was a combination of an urge to write and a channel for my reawakened perfume passion. This was brought about by a lean period, during which Chanel was very much out of reach.  As a result, I developed a bit of a cheap and cheerful habit as my receipts from allbeauty.com will attest.  From that, and the three huge boxes of samples that dear Lisa Jones let me borrow, the floodgates opened.

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The biggest scent launch of the Twenteens has to be the seminal Lancome La Vie est Belle. The fruity floral explosion of the early ‘teens segued into a river of caramel and praline   Hot on its heels was YSL Black Opium , which dismayed many Opium fans, but brought a  cohort of new fans to the brand.

In recent  times, I’ve been coming across the semi-ubiquitous jasmine sambac note that  seems to be so popular right now.  You can find it in  Paco Rabanne Olympea,  Givenchy Dahlia Divin and Versace Eros. The big launch of 2017 is Mon Guerlain, and whilst it’s not my cup of tea, I do harbour hopes that it will  lead us into a big lavender  trend.

As we point in the direction of 2020, I’m looking forward to the alleged forthcoming trends of milk notes, peony and a renaissance of my favourite genre: green notes.

Interestingly, celebrity fragrance sales are on the wane, but guess what’s on the up?  Niche perfume.  Which is very good news indeedy.

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How about you?

What scents bring back instant memories for you?  It doesn’t matter how random or everyday they are, I always love to hear from you.

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Marina Barcenilla Patchouli Clouds: There’s Patchouli, and then there’s Patchouli…

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One of the many highlights of my trip to the Jasmine Awards was the lovely surprise of bumping into Marina Barcenilla of MB Parfums. I had reviewed Marina’s beautiful scent India only last week, and in fact she had a phial of India body oil in her bag for me as a gift. Marina is as delightful as I’d imagined and it is a pleasure to write about her beautiful scents. Today I’m going to review MB Parfums Patchouli Clouds, because it stopped me in my tracks and made me say “Wow” out loud to an empty room.

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Fragrantica

Patchouli is a big old spectrum. The patchouli you find in the base notes of say, Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, will be nothing like the unctuous oil you might have bought in the 70s or 80s ( if you are as old as I am), but it’s all patchouli, in some form.

Patchouli Clouds has a wonderful mixture of spice, citrus,  and damp woods. It starts off as an almost musty wet wood, and calms down into a beautifully aromatic earthiness that made me think of forests after the rain and slightly rotten wood.  Believe it or not, I mean that in a good way.  I love the smell of wood in all its stages: crumbly, freshly sawn, still with the bark on: you name it, I like it. There are flowers too: I found jasmine and roses entwined among the earthy bark.

mb parfums allIn Patchouli Clouds, the scent has more in common with the oils from the Indian joss stick stall in Newport market that I hung around in during my teens.  You know the sort of place: you could buy floaty skirts with tiny mirrored sequins on and leather purses with elephants on the front.  The patchouli you could buy there was not in fancy packaging and it smelled more authentic and natural than anything I’ve ever sniffed over a pristine beauty counter.

Patchouli Clouds reinvents that in a less primitive way.  It still has the patchouli kick of earthiness I seek, but it’s blended beautifully with rich florals and incense to ensure that the star of the show really shines with the right chorus in the background.

Stockists

MB Perfumes Patchouli Clouds is available from the  MB Parfums website, which also has a good sample service. My sample is from Marina herself, for which, many thanks. Opinions are my own.

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My Trip to The Jasmine Awards 2017 by Samantha Scriven aged 47 and one month.

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My dears, I returned from the Jasmines only yesterday and it has taken until now for me to process the explosion of glamour and excitement that happened to me.

It was a thrill to receive that first email from the Fragrance Foundation back in January, letting me know I had been shortlisted.  Since then, it has been the biggest event in my calendar.

But What Fragrance to Wear?

I wasn’t too worried about what clothes what to wear, although I had a last-minute lingerie malfunction which meant I ended up looking like I was going for a job interview in an undertaker’s.  Still, wearing black all the time never hurt Margot Fonteyn or Edith Piaf (is what I keep telling myself). The biggest problem I had was what scent to wear? That one kept me awake for a while, I can tell you. *

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The Awards were to be hosted at Bafta, and due to its early 8.45 am start, I had to come up the night before.  I stayed in a hotel near the most beautiful station in the world, St Pancras. This was rather handy since there was a large branch of Pret a Manger in St Pancras station.  We don’t have Pret in Wales (violins)  so, it’s my eatery of choice when I’m back in the Big Smoke.

The Big Day Arrives. I’m All a-Quiver!

Being a swot, I arrived in Piccadilly an hour early on the morning of The Jasmines and made use of a nearby Costa (This is why London is never cheap when I visit). I was as nervous as if I was going to a job interview.  As a natural introvert,  networking makes my armpits prickle, but perfume people are outrageously lovely, as was the case later on.bafta sign

Crossing the Bafta threshold was a thrill. Seeing the big gold mask on the wall and seeing uniformed doormen made my heart go all fluttery.

When I arrived, there was a huge floral centrepiece with scented rose petals a-wafting through the air, along with coffee and posh pastries (sorry for the food writing. I’m really hungry). My nerves left me as conversation began to flow.

Here I am, Name Dropping

At one point, I shook hands with a dapper looking Roja Dove. Yes, he was wearing silk slippers, and no, he hadn’t heard of my blog.

Me, Nick and Sarah. Photo from the Fragrance Foundation
Me, Nick and Sarah. Photo from the Fragrance Foundation

I was delighted to see the impossibly glamorous Suzy Nightingale again, and chuffed to beans to meet one of my sheroes, Jo Fairley of The Perfume Society.  I have been reading Jo’s writing since the year 2000 and never thought I would  be acquainted with her in real life.  I also met lovely Penny from The Perfume Society, but it was in the Ladies Toilets so we didn’t get to chat more, sadly.  The Perfume Society is my mothership.

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I had a lovely surprise when I saw perfume guru Nick Gilbert and  perfumer Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays arrive. I wasn’t expecting them and I was over the moon to see familiar faces.  An added bionus was that I also got to meet the delightful Marina Barcenilla, who I wrote about only last week.

If I tell you that Sarah McCartney was wearing colour block fortuny pleats with dragon fins on, would you believe me? She was and she pulled it off, although rumour has it she startled a dog earlier in the day: and comedian Jeremy Hardy, but that’s another story.

The Big Moment

At 9.30am we were ushered into the awards room. There was a big screen and a stage at the front, where the judges and hosts were seated. The category I was shortlisted for was the “Best Digital Experience” award for my article about Mandy Aftel’s Memento Mori.  I had stiff competition, and was honoured to be among them. Thomas Dunckley, aka The Candy Perfume Boy won, and deservedly so.

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Thomas is a gifted writer who manages to combine unimpeachable expertise with wit and warmth.  He won two in total, leading me to ask him to please start writing badly in order that I may have a chance one year.  He gallantly agreed, but reader, I think he is incapable of writing badly.

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There were many winners that morning, and all of them deserving and worthy of the beautiful Lalique awards. What struck me most, however, was the atmosphere.  It was friendly, celebratory and warm. The perfume world has people from all walks of life, including a mum of two from Cwmbran who grew up in a council house (ahem), and Roja Dove.

Earl Grey at Simpson’s

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I felt deeply honoured to be treated to a pot of Earl Grey at the former Simpson’s on the Strand by perfumer extraordinaire Sarah McCartney,  Sarah is fantastic company and so curious about the world and the people in it.

We were joined by another very talented perfumer, Ruth Mastenbroek. I tell you, I was not ignorant of the privilege this affords to a perfume blogger and I felt quite tongue tied despite them both being engaging and lovely.

They did lose me when they started talking about parabens, but I was thinking “Wow, look at me. With them. Up here!”   We were also, by pure coincidence, just a few tables away from comedian Jeremy  Hardy.   Sarah had bumped into him a  total of four times that day and  I can promise that none of it was planned, officer.outside bafta

Home Time

Like the best dreams, the bubbles popped and by 3.15 I was  back in Cwmbran collecting my son from school, wondering what to make for tea and thinking “This is what Pam Ewing must have felt like when Bobby got out of the shower”  It couldn’t have been a dream. It felt too real.

My dear chums, I am financially poorer after the hotel and train bill, (and Pret and Costa) but I don’t think I have ever  felt richer or luckier.  Thank you to the Fragrance Foundation for letting me experience such an unforgettable day.

*My SOTD was Sandalwood Sacre by le Jardin Retrouvé.

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And the Winners are…

Best Digital Fragrance Experience
‘Six Scents to Put Hairs on Your Chest’ by Thomas Dunckley for The Candy Perfume Boy

Jasmine Literary Award
‘Every Scent Tells a Tale’ by Joanne Harris for Good Housekeeping

Best Digital Article on Fragrance
‘A Scent for Self-Appreciation’ by Lizzie Ostrom for The Pool

Jasmine Soundbite (News Press)
‘Smells Like Tom Hiddleston (I Wish)’ by Lesley Thomas for The Times

Jasmine Visual Award
‘A Perfume Paints a Thousand Words’ by Jan Masters (words & creative) and Roberto Greco (creative) for Harrods Magazine

Best Article in a Consumer Magazine
The Wearing of the Green’ by James Craven for Les Senteurs

Most Creative Visual Award
‘All of a Quiver’ by Jan Masters (words) and Rebecca Baio, David Newton & Barney Pickard (creative) for Harrods Magazine.

Jasmine Soundbite (Independent)
‘Eau so Masc – Thoughts on Gender in Perfumer & the Rive Gauche Rebellion’ by Thomas Dunckley for The Candy Perfume Boy

Jasmine Rising Star Award
‘2017 – The Year of the Milk Notes’ by Lauren Crabran for Scents Blog

Jasmine Soundbite (Magazines)
‘Midnight Garden’ by Jan Masters for Harrods Magazine

Jasmine Independent Literary Award
‘Scenting my Mental Illness’ by Laurin Taylor for Basenotes

Jasmine Soundbite (News Press)
‘Smells Like Tom Hiddleston (I Wish)’ by Lesley Thomas for The Times

Best Practical Guide to Fragrance
‘The Top Ten Niche Fragrances Every Beginner Should Sample’ by Clare Vukcevic for Basenotes

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The Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box: My Review

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I have in front of me The Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box. I’ve spoken of these little boxes before.  In fact, I’m not sure I’ve missed one since they first began.

The Modern Classics Box is a must for anyone on their first foray into fragrance.  Even if you’re not, it’s great to have the classics at your fingertips, and classics they are: each and every one.

I’m going to be reviewing some of these in more detail soon, but in the meantime, here’s the list of what’s in the box:

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Yardley Contemporary Classics English Freesia

I’m a big fan of florals, and Yardley, bless ‘em, have been doing florals for generations. They do them very well, and Freesia is no exception. I have a whole bouquet of Yardley scents on my dressing table: April Violets, English Rose,  English Lavender,  Bluebell, and after today, it looks like a full bottle of Yardley Freesia won’t be far behind.

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Cartier Baiser Fou

This new scent from Cartier is worlds apart from the original and far more sober Baiser Vole.  Cartier Baiser Fou (crazy kiss) smells like lipstick kisses, strawberries and milky bar.  I didn’t think I was going to like it, as it sounded too sweet for me, but actually I was completely charmed by it.flower by kenzo

Flower by Kenzo

I wasn’t sure if I knew this one, until I sprayed it and realised “Oh! THAT’S Kenzo Flower!” It’s baby powder, wet wipes, fluffy towels and innocent flowers. I’ll be reviewing this one in more detail soon.

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Marc Jacobs Daisy

Both ubiquitous and glorious, this light, airy crowd pleaser will never go out of fashion, and its not just because of the delightful toy town flower bottles.  See my review here.

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L’Occitane Terre de Lumiere

A stunning summer scent from L’Occitane with notes of lavender honey, bergamot and a warm base of almond and tonka. This makes me want to lie in the sun with a straw hat on and be very, very indolent.columbia

Angela Flanders Columbia Rose

Columbia Road in achingly cool Shoreditch is the scene of the famous Columbia Road Flower Market every Sunday, when the street is filled with greenery and botany and petals and buds. Worth visiting for the scent alone, it’s little wonder that  perfumer Angela Flanders saw fit to open her shop here.

This is how roses used to smell before factory farming chased the old-fashioned scent away.  There’s something slightly earthy about it too, thanks to the patchouli and amber in the base. This is patchouli with rough edges and it complements the centrifola rose like Mellors complemented  Lady Chatterley.

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Illuminum White Gardenia Petals

This scent of green notes and heady white gardenia may well be my absolute favourite from the box.  As worn by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge on her wedding day, this beautiful fragrance is right up my street, even if I can’t quite compete with Catherine’s untouchable glamour. I’ll be reviewing it in more detail very soon.

Narciso Rodriguez for her EDP

This beauty has been a classic since its launch.  NR For Her was created by the ultimate dream team of Christine Nagel and Francis Kurkdjian and I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t smell wonderful in it, including me! You can read my review here.

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Philosophy Renewed Hope in a Jar Eye (lotion tube)

I don’t know what this is like yet, but buy the sound of the name, I need it BADLY.  After squinting at computer screens and phone screens, and being tormented by hay fever and contact lenses, my forty-seven-year-old eyes need all the help they can get.  I’m fifty in three years’ time but I don’t want to look like I am!

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Minnies Literally Lovely Shimmering Body Lotion.

A sachet sized treat that is going in my overnight bag. Possibly too glamorous for the school run, but I’ll be spoiling myself with this next time I get away from it all.

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As usual with Perfume Society Discovery Boxes, there are scent sniffing strips and handy postcards with discussion prompts and facts about each item.  All the goodies come in a smart white gift box with the Perfume Society Logo on. They make excellent gifts for your friends or for Mothers Day,  but I’m not giving mine away!

Stockists

These boxes are exclusive to The Perfume Society, and cost £17.50 each or £12.50 if you are a VIP subscriber. My box was kindly sent to me by The Perfume Society.  Opinions are my own.

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Marina Barcenilla India: Better than Heaven or Arcadia

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Better than Heaven or Arcadia

I love thee, O my India!

Marina Barcenilla recently sent me  several of her perfume samples, which I will review in a future post.  However, one stood out so much that I was itching to review it.

Marina Barcenilla was born in Spain and is now based in Glastonbury. The Marina Barcenilla perfume house evolved from her small start-up business which originally made body products such as salts and scrubs.  Customer demand led her to where she is now: a perfumer, and a talented one at that.  I’m jolly glad she went down this path because when MB Parfums India landed on my mat recently, it was love at first sniff.

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Incredibly,  Marina manages to produce this beautiful earthy scent using only natural ingredients. Personally, I have no beef with non-natural ingredients, being composed of C02 and H20 myself, but it really takes some guts and innovation to achieve glorious fragrances with the limitations that can come with such a restriction.  It doesn’t seem to restrict Marina though.  Her imagination and flair has produced some stunning and Award winning results (India won a FiFi Award in 2016).

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India opens with orange flower, Indian Jasmine, tuberose and roses. It’s a rich and heady floral opening, but there’s nothing  light about this.  The heady weight of this stunning opening accord is narcotic in its depth.  It gradually segues into wood and spice that smells both earthy and authentic.   The spice is like tarry resin, yet as the richness dies down, the sandalwood and cardoman emerge in a beautiful accord of aged, incense-infused wood.  Think church pews but still with some bark left on.

India reminded me of both Comme Des Garcons Avignon and Andy Tauer L’Air du Desert Marocain.  It is not exactly like either, however, since  it has a distinction all of its own.  If you like either of those two, however, you will adore India.

mb perfumes all in a row

Longevity is excellent and it just seems to get better the longer I wear it.  India is deep, resonant and evocative.  The base is longlasting and on my skin, at least, it combines woods, jasmine, roses and spice for many hours after I sprayed it.  The ingredients are distinct and vivid.  Reader, it was love.  Real, true love.

Stockists

Marina Barcenilla perfumes can be ordered from the website here. There is an excellent sample service and you can also find other ancillary fragrance products such as candles and  body oils ( I have a rose one which is beautiful). Marina herself kindly furnished me with my samples, for which, my warm thanks. Opinions are my own.

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Perfume Questions? Ask Aunty Sam…

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Dear beloved readers,

Lately I have been asked many questions by people with queries about perfume. These vary from “what smells like…?” queries to “Where can I get…?” queries. It got me thinking, my friends.  How about a little post that’s all about your perfume questions and queries?

Just email me or post your question below or on Twitter or Facebook and I will do my very best to answer them.  You can even be anonymous if you like!

So, fire away.  Do you want to know if there’s a smellalike to a long discontinued favourite?  Does a newly reformulated favourite resemble an old one?  Which are the best cheap and cheerfuls?  Tell Aunty Sam your scented dilemmas.  I’m  all ears and all nostrils!

Email iscentyouaday@gmail.com

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Fragrance for the Frugal 2017

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Now that my blog is four, I thought I’d better do some housekeeping. One of my most popular articles is “Perfume for Paupers”, written two years ago. It  was my guide to how you can smell good without blowing the budget. It was written from the heart (and from past experience ), since I believe that you don’t have to be rich to smell good.

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Nope. No money in the money box.

However, as you know, the industry changes faces like a kaleidoscope in even a short space of time.  For example, many celeb scents that I reviewed  then, have been discontinued, and many new affordable options have appeared on the market in just two years.  However, much of what I wrote in my earlier article still stands: shop around, be selective, use eBay, look past the label.  I reckon it’s time for an update.  Here’s my guide on how to smell good without feeling bad.

Edith Evena as Lady Bracknell
Edith Evena as Lady Bracknell

Leave your snobbery at the door

I used to be in an exclusive long term relationship with Chanel Cristalle and would only rarely have flings with other scent on the side.  During a frugal period in my life, I decided to shop around, and my love affair with scent truly blossomed.  I hold allbeauty.com and Home Bargains responsible for this. I bought the cheapest scent I could afford and ended up finding some firm favourites.   High price tags do not always mean high quality., and vice versa.  Don’t overlook celebrity fragrances either. They are all made by professional Noses and  are usually cheaper than other brands. Some of my favourite celeb scents are under £10. 

Recommended: Celine Dion Sensation,  Sarah Jessica Parker  Lovely,  JLo Glow, Madonna Truth or Dare.

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Avon

Ok, I’m starting to sound obsessed with Avon now, but when you an find a decent perfume for under seven quid, well, then it’s very hard to stay away. In fact my SOTD is Avon Rare Platinum and those tuberose wafts are very pleasing to my nose today. Avon Perceive Oasis was my summer scent more than any other in 2016. I even bought a back up bottle.  I give Avon a further thumbs up for selling purse sprays at just £3 and for currently selling Scent Essence Lime Verbena for just £2.50 for 30ml.  All prices correct at time of posting.

Recommended:  Lime Verbena, Avon Little Black Dress Eau Fraiche, Avon Rare Platinum, Avon Perceive Oasis, Avon Tahitain Holiday, and for fans of La Vie est Belle, Avon Cherish.

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Go for preloved

I have bought a lot of perfume from eBay and have never been let down. EBay is pretty strict on counterfeit and it’s not worth most people’s trouble to try and sell the odd fake. Having said that, there’s no guarantee it’ll never happen to you, but in seven years I’ve not been conned.  EBay is also great for perfume samples which helps avoid costly blind buys. I’ve also scored some blinders from a local car boot sale.  Never underestimate how much somebody else can dislike a perfectly good bottle of perfume and be desperate to get rid of it. That, my friends, is when you  circle and swoop.

Success stories:  100ml of Cabotine for £3.99 on eBay, bottle of LouLou and assorted samples for £7 on eBay, bottle of half used 100ml of Rive Gauche for £4 at car boot sale.  Full 50ml bottle of Chanel Coco EDP for £26 on eBay.

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Go retro

Some of my favourite cheap and cheerfuls are the kind of scent young folk today might label as “Nan perfume”.  I prefer the term “classic. ” Nobody will put me off Coty L’Aimant or Chique and I could buy both bottles with ten quid and still have change for a Daim Bar.

Recommended: Coty L’Aimant, Yardley April Violets,  Chique.

 

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Get good samples

If you’re saving for a bottle of the good stuff and in between bottles,, why not just buy a few samples and use your favourites on high days and holidays? It’s cheaper than a full bottle and you can always smell expensive without having a shelf full of posh bottles and no money in the bank.

Recommended: The Perfume Society for great, hard-to-find samples, and The Fragrance Shop for a quarterly box of new releases.

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Swapsies

You’d be amazed how many of your friends have been given perfume they don’t like and don’t wear. Nobody seems to throw it away though, so get asking. You might find they have one of your favourites and that dusty bottle you can’t get rid of might be just their cup of tea. I dare you to ask four friends if they have a bottle of perfume they don’t really wear.  It also works on forums such as Fragrantica, Mumsnet and Fragcomm.

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I bet beautiful Ruby Rose wears whatever the hell she likes. Photo from Pride.

Go unisex

Many men’s fragrances are cheaper than women’s ( though not all). There’s no rule that says you can’t wear his stuff or that he can’t wear yours. Having said that, although I reguarly raid my husband’s scent collection (I chose most of it- ergo it’s mine.) I can’t see my husband borrowing my SJP Lovely to wear for work anytime soon. Shame. Florals can smell good on men.

grand-canyonHere’s what I mean by cheap and cheerful for chaps:  Old Spce (cheap as chips) doesn’t smell a million miles away from Yves Saint Laurent Opium. (Thanks for the tip Portia of APJ), and Avon men’s fragrances are truly excellent. I wore Wilderness for Men for the whole of August one year, with a pretty sun dress. I say Pah! to labels. If it smells good wear it.

Recommended: Avon Destination Grand Canyon ( reputed to smell like Terre D’Hermes), Lynx  Urban DailyTobacco and Amber, Jovan Musk For Men, Lidl XBolt (pleasant, apple-y top note.)

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Al-Rehab, Al Aneeq and Crown perfumes

These mini rollerballs are available from Amazon and eBay. Containing no alcohol,  and usually in rollerball format, these are an unbeatably cheap way to layer notes or wear the scent alone.  The violetjasmine and the rose single note fragrances are pretty good too. They make good presents and a 10ml rollerball is perfect for even the smallest of handbags.

Recommended:  I particularly like Violet and  the White Musk. neither cost me more than 2.99. A friend of mine adores Choco Musk at only £1.99.

How About You?

What’s been your best frugal fragrance?  Do let me know.  I always love to hear from you.

photo by Alison Oddy
photo by Alison Oddy

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How to Get Perfume Samples 2017

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In 2015 I wrote a post entitled “How to Get Perfume Samples”.  I felt it was necessary since these days, it’s easier to get unicorn droppings  and hens’ teeth than perfume samples from Beauty Counters.  My original article has proved very popular, but the Fragrant Firmament spins fast on its axis.  My original article, written in 2015, needs updating for 2017.

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A lot can happen in two years within the industry. Beloved favourites can be discontinued, new starts ups can arrive with a bang, and old lions can go out with a whimper.

Sample services serve two purposes: They avoid you making costly blind buys and they help you fall in love with stuff you might not have 4160 tastercome across.  Whilst I love to seek out samples of stuff I’ve heard of and never tried, I also love it when the choice is made for me. It takes me out of my comfort zone. This is one of the reasons why I am such a fan of discovery boxes, and the Perfume Society in particular. Their boxes are loosely themed and have really changed my mind about no end of scents I wouldn’t have otherwise sought out.

mysamples2The other advantage is one I mentioned pre-Christmas, but which applies at any time of the year. When buying for others, why not offer them a choice? A mixture of samples and gift voucher is my idea of the perfect gift (It’s my birthday next month. I wonder if my husband is reading this?).

Here’s a roundup of sample services that are currently out there just waiting for us to knock on their door. This is a UK Guide by the way, so if I miss your favourite out, it’s just geography, not favouritism.

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The Perfume Society.

Yes I’m a fan. No, they don’t pay me to say so and yes I have almost every one of the Discovery Boxes. In fact, I’m just waiting for the Heaven Scent one, due any day! You can buy them here. They usually contain around nine excellent, often hard-to-get samples and maybe a treat or two  as well. They are my Number One favourite treat.

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ScentSamples UK

A new entry at Number Two. I’m very impressed with the diversity here and find the prices reasonable.  I’m rolling my sleeves up and writing a long list.  Here’s a link to their website.

Inside Les Senteurs, Elizabeth Street
Inside Les Senteurs, Elizabeth Street

Les Senteurs

There are two branches of this divine boutique perfumery in London, but the good news is that you don’t have to live in London to benefit from their sample service.  The bad news is that its very, very hard to choose. Here’s the link.

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4160 Tuesdays

Nobody can accuse Sarah McCartney of not being inclusive.  4160 Tuesdays means reasonably priced high quality artisan scents that cover every genre except “boring”.  The 4160  Tuesdays website even has themed suggestions of sample sets in case you don’t know where to begin.  My favourite is “Frocks and Hats.”

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The Fragrance Shop Discovery Club.

Every quarter since 2013 I have received a box of samples from The Fragrance Shop. These usually include new releases and new flankers, but often they pop a classic or a well-beloved favourite in.  The boxes usually include between 6 to 9 samples and a booklet of money off vouchers if you find one you want in full bottle size. Boxes are just £5 a quarter, and they make great gifts too. You can join in the fun here.

Papillon Perfumery
Papillon Perfumery

Papillon Perfumery

Papillon Perfumery is the creation of  Nose Liz Moores, perfumer extraordinaire (I’ve met her- she is small and beautiful) There are four scents in the Papillon range and you can sample of all four from here. There isn’t a single one I wouldn’t recommend, and a fifth scent is on its way later this year.

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FragranceSamplesUK

Another one I’ve not come across before, but I’m very impressed with their range and might be making an order soon.  The huge range varies from Tom Ford, Chanel Exclusifs, Tauer and Roja to name but a few. I’ll let you know  what I think if I can ever make my mind up! You can check the site out for yourselves here.

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Pell Wall Perfumes

In the beautiful county of Shropshire, Chris Bartlett creates  exquisite scents under the name of Pell Wall Perfumes. Sample sets and mini bottles are available at reasonable prices and you may well find a lifelong favourite among this imaginative range. I particularly like Pretty in Pink and Deep Purple. Check out the website here.

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eBay

eBay has a vast range of samples from various sellers.  I have never been let down or sold fakes on eBay- they are very strict about that.  I have had some great bargains this way and even if you end up not liking the samples you order, they make great swapping currency.

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Find Your Tribe

Join a group of like-minded fume heads: Sites such as Fragrantica and Base Notes have led to many firm friendships, as well as samples swapping. Alternatively, join a Facebook group such as Fragcom or Perfumeland For Fluffheads.perfumeland

Have I missed any out? Have you had great sample service in the UK? Or have you discovered a favourite through random sample sniffage?  Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

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The Big Four Winners are…

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Thank you so much for all your entries in the Big Four giveaway to celeberate four years of this very blog.  I had a great response and can now announce the winers. (Drum roll please)

 

elizabeth-taylor-violet-eyes-adThe winner of Elizabeth Taylor Violet Eyes is @StephanTweets from Twitter. I will Tweet him and let him know. Congratulations Stephan!

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The winner of Library of Fragrance Nutmeg Ice Cream is Tania.  Congratulations Tania!

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The winner of Perfumer’s Club “Valerie” is Jill Edwards. Congratualtions Jill!

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And finally, the winner of Perfumer’s Club “Victor”is Steven Tuckwell. Congratualtions Steven!

Can all winners please email me their addresses to iscentyouaday@gmail.com please.

For those who didn’t win, there will be more giveaways throughout the year so watch this space.  Here are the details of stockists where you can buy the above fragrances, and none of them will break the bank!

Stockists

Elizabeth Taylor Violet Eyes is from Fragrance Direct at only £2.99 for 15ml. Library of Fragrance Nutmeg Ice Cream is available from the Library of Fragrance website for just £15.  The Perfumer’s Club selection is available from the World Class website. A long lasting 83ml bottle is just £14 and longevity is a guaranteed six hour minimum. In my opinion, Valerie smells very similar to Black Opium, so if that’s your poison, you’ve found a real gem. Victor is all about the grapefruit and the vetiver and was my secret favourite of the four.

Photos: Envelope photo from www.thepeoplesdesignlab.org.uk Elizabeth Taylor photo from makeupalley.com. Valerie photo from www.World-Class.co.uk and others are my own.

The IScents 2016: My Awards to The Very Best of Scent

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Check me out! I’ve been experimenting with editing sites. The world is my lobster.   Watch this space for disastrous pixellated pics and clumsy graphics until I get the hang of stuff. I’ll soon be running with the pack.

samnose16Well, dear readers, it’s time for me to sum up a busy fragranced year and award  plaudits to my favourites from 2016. These are purely based on my opinion, which is therefore The Law.

Not all of these are actually 2016 launches: some have just impressed me so much after four years of blogging that I have declared that they deserve accolades.  Now,  we’d’d best get on before all this power goes to my head and I start doing villain’s laughter.

 The IScent Award for Best Longevity

This has to be a three way tie between

  • 4160 Tuesdays Midnight in the Palace Garden
  • Andy Tauer Carillon Pour Un Ange
  • Papillon Perfumes Tobacco Rose

Here’s why:

midnightI sprayed 4160 Tuesdays Midnight in The Palace Garden into thin air yesterday and 24 hours later it is still there. This is despite eating a roast dinner in the same room and trying on various perfumes throughout the day.  It smells like I have been burning very expensive incense among church pews and I love it.

carillonpicI sprayed two sprays of Tauer Carillon Pour Un Ange on my neck three days ago. Since then I have had three showers and changed my bedding. This morning when I woke up, I could still smell lily of the valley. This is a bottle I purchased in May 2015 and it has barely gone down.  I think a genie keeps refilling it.

tobacco roseMade by the delightful Liz Moores in her compound in the New Forest, Papillon Perfumes Tobacco Rose lasted over fifteen hours on me. Rich, woody roses that just stay put. I could bask in it. Two sprays and you’re wrapped in spiced, woody roses until bedtime.

So all three of these niche brands get the Iscent 2016 Award for Longevity. Isn’t it interesting how they are all niche and not mainstream?  Just sayin’

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Best Summer Perfume – Art de Parfum Gin &Tonic

Gin &Tonic by Art de Parfum stopped me in my tracks with  its new take on Gin &Tonic. So much more than just refreshing juniper, I wore this until my sample ran out and had compliments every time.  A full bottle is in my sights in 2017. Check out my reviews on the rest of the range here.

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Most Original Launch –REEK perfume Damn Rebel Bitches

reek-perfume-bottle-campaign-dirtyhands-orange-uai-720x900This has to go to Reek Perfume for Damn Rebel Bitches. It’s  a scent that smacks of rebellion. Rustic touches speak of the heritage of the strong women it pays tribute to.  With notes of malt, blood orange and herbs, you won’t be surprised to learn that Sarah McCartney was the nose behind the scent Her fingerprints are all over it! (NB That is not her hand in the illustration).

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Best Celebrity Launch-Sarah Jessica Parker Stash SJPstash-ad

This one was easy. It goes to Sarah Jessica Parker Stash SJP. Breaking the mould of the usual celeb fare, SJP goes down the niche-style route of a churchy sandalwood incense unisex scent with not a hint of fruity floral fruitichouli in sight. It’s superb quality and I hope it will set the tone for other innovative celeb launches.

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Best Flanker-Chanel No 5 L’Eau

lilyrose-iamgesIt’s got to be Chanel no 5 L’Eau. Not a diluted version of the original, but a twiddling of the tuning knobs to bring out the lighter and muffle the darker.  It’s divine and light and deserves classic status already.   Oh, and lightness doesn’t mean a lack of longevity either: this really sticks around. Full marks to the beautifully simple marketing campaign showcasing the lovely Lily-Rose Depp.

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Biggest Disappointments-Modern Muse Nuit, Dior Poison Girl and YSL Mon Paris.

1200_x_500pix_modern_muse_nuit_visual_1poison girlAnother three-way tie. I simply couldn’t choose! Here are the turkeys, the raspberries, the No-Nos. I don’t want to be mean but I’m going to mon parisbe  anyway.   Dior Poison Girl, Estee Lauder Modern Muse Nuit and YSL Mon Paris left me wishing I’d never even taken the lid off.  The prices are steep for what they are and the money seems to be going on the marketing rather than the ingredients (what’s new?)  Least said soonest mended.  Moving on!

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Best Winter Fragrance- Le Jardin Retrouvé Sandalwood Sacre

jr-sandalwoodThis one has to go to Le Jardin Retrouvé.  When I smelled Sandalwood Sacre for the first time, it was like cupid had shot me with an arrow. I simply had to own a bottle and now I do.   You can read my review here.  Don’t just keep it for winter though. I’m not.

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Best Gourmand: Library of Fragrance Chai Tea and Library of Fragrance Tomato

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Trust Library of Fragrance to come up with the goods once again. This was a tie between Chai Tea and Tomato. I am sure they won’t mind sharing the award with um…themselves.

Chai Tea combines Tomato-LOF-Hero.jpg_1024x1024lightness and spice to bring a new angle on the word “cosy.” if you don’t like your gourmands too sweet ( like me) then Chai Tea will win you over. Meanwhile, back in our very  short summer of 2016, (it was a Tuesday afternoon as I recall) Library of Fragrance Tomato took me back to my grandfather’s greenhouse in the 70s faster than a Tardis.  As fresh as a new bud and with accents of verbena, Tomato became one of my very favourite warm weather scents.

Best Chypre: DSH Mata Hari

Mata HariOver the ocean in Boulder Colorado, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz brews and macerates her beautiful perfumes with skill and passion. I was floored by DSH Mata Hari  Extrait and  in a blind test I would have  thought it a priceless original 1920s vintage. It made me  want to wear long gloves and arch one eyebrow at people.  Glorious! You can read my DSH reviews here.

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Best New Scent 2016: Beaufort London Fathom V

beaufort-london_fathom_1-septBeaufort London Fathom V turned an unassuming day into a vivid montage of sea faring adventure. It transported me to the slimy flanks of a London ship and the distant calls of pirates in one sniff. This stuff is like letting a genie out of a bottle. It’s green times a thousand, with sea notes that you can almost hear. It’s the  best sea scent ever, and I can’t see that anything will make me change my mind about that. You can read my love letter to Fathom V here.

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Best Natural Fragrance 2016:  Mandy Aftel – Aftelier Amber Tapestry

Mandy Aftel, from www.aftelier.com
Mandy Aftel, from www.aftelier.com

Using only natural ingredients ( and that takes some doing!) Mandy’s instinctive connection to nature  transports you to another place, via taste and even flavour. Amber Tapestry unfurls, layer by layer, enveloping the wearer in  the kind of warmth that has a uniquely human touch.  You can read my review here.

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The IScent Fellowship Award: The Perfume Society

eauxlalashopaw-1I’ve invented a Fellowship Award because The Perfume Society defies other categopries.  Not only do they provide white boxes of treasure that even the most jaded perfume palate would salivate at, but they’re a sort of Mothership that  we can all turn to when we get a bit lost in the  murky depths of fruity-florals-chypres-colognes-my-nose-is-confused-help!  Ever had a day like that? I have.  The Perfume Society Scented Letter magazine also makes me settle down with a contented sigh and think “I’ve found my tribe” as I read what other perfume obsessives are up to.  Fumeheads, you are not alone.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you and goodnight.

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