Category Archives: Fragrance

Serge Lutens Daim Blond: Apricots? And Suede? Mais oui!

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When I first smelled Serge Lutens Daim Blond, it was a sort of blind smelling in so far as I knew nothing about it and knew nothing of the notes. The first image that popped into my head, unbidden, was of a school corridor. I couldn’t fathom it out. Who wants to smell like a school corridor?

Fast forward a few months and I tried again. This time I had two samples and wore Daim Blond exclusively over a couple of days. Ah, now I get it.

 Daim Blond is a toned down leather, in fact, it’s suede rather than leather. Still cow hide, but softer.  In the background is something clean and medicinal. Hawthorn? Cardoman? Maybe this is where the school corridor image came from. Leather satchels and a hint of spicy Dettol? I tried again. This time, it made me think of something very expensive: say an Hermes handbag concession or a luxury car showroom. Must be all that new smelling suede.

And then there’s the curious Apricots. Normally one glimpse of anything  remotely Peachy on a list of notes and I run a mile in the other direction, but the apricots in Daim Blond kind of bloom like a rich juicy flower, and I found them quite pleasant, almost orangey.

It’s a curious blend, with fairly subtle sillage and longevity of around five hours.  Now that I’ve got it to know it better, the school corridor has gone and in it’s place is an expensive handbag on the seat of a brand new showroom-fresh luxury car that I can only look at by pressing my nose against the glass.

There is Heliotrope and Iris in there too, but I could smell neither. I could be ignoring the Iris though, since she and I don’t get on.

This is a subtle and classy scent. It doesn’t show off. It’s smooth, and pretty, but not so pretty that it tries to draw attention to itself. It would smell superb on a man, especially a billionaire.

Daim Blond smells of money.

Avon Wilderness for Men: I Will Let You Into A Secret

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 I have been trying not to review this, but since I  wore it off and on for five days and loved it (to me , five days on the trot is a long unbroken run), I thought I’d better get it off my Non-Hairy chest.

For a long time now, I have been getting impatient with Avon fragrance for women. I finally gave up after my eighth bottle of women’s fragrance ended up with the same nasty basenote as the previous seven, for which certain eBay buyers are grateful. When they discontinued the fabulous Timeless, I was indignant.  When they brought out yet another series of new fragrances in their last brochure, all fruity floral, their fate was sealed. No longer would I order any more Avon fragrances for Women (with the exception of Avon Soft Musk, which is a jolly good Musk and excellent alone or used for layering).

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However, over in the Men’s section, there were all sorts of good things going on. With promises of Musk, Patchouli, Amber, Juniper, Grapefruit, Cypress Greens, Woods, Orientals, Lavender and Mandarin zest, suddenly my ears pricked up again.

I ordered a bottle of Wilderness for Men simply because I liked the sound of the notes: Amber and Patchouli are enhanced by wood notes and musk and hints of juniper and grapefruit. At 7GBP for 100ml, I figured this blind buy wouldn’t bankrupt me and I suppose I could always give it to my husband.

When it arrived from Jill, my Avon Lady, it was a very hot day and I wasn’t sure if I wanted Amber and Patchouli. Actually what I wanted was an icy Pimms, but let’s not be greedy.

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The Patchouli and Amber were remarkably refreshing and this may be down to the Grapefruit and Juniper lightening both notes up. The juice itself is sea green, with a black lid, and unlike the women’s fragrance range, it actually smells like its ingredients. I can easily pick out the Grapefruit and the Patchouli. There’s a slight powderiness to it too, that I like.  The powderiness falls into the chalky and clean category, like a fresh white mist, making this a great summer buy and smelling more expensive than it should at this ludicrously cheap price.  It’s an EDT rather than an EDP, so longevity is only around three hours, but as usual, I spray clothes and hair to make it last longer.

Finally my Avon brochure is back in favour, or at least the back half of it is.  Sometimes you have to move stuff if you want to find something.

Coty L’Aimant: A Classic since 1927

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Three great things about Coty L’Aimant:

1.  It’s really cheap

2.  It smells a bit like Chanel No 5 (Me and 27 Fragrantica reviewers can’t be wrong)

3. It doesn’t smell cheap

I could end it there, but Coty L’Aimant is so much more than a passable substitute for Chanel No 5.  L’Aimant is a perfume I can never wear since it was my late grandmother’s signature scent. Even in her seventies, she was classy and always smelled lovely. Peppermints, Lavender and L’Aimant. Sometimes a whiff of menthol in Winter.

It’s a perfume that I would love to see more people wearing. It’s old fashioned, yes, but you could also call it delightfully retro. It’s been around since 1927 and is still popular, so you could call it a classic.

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hprints.com

L’Aimant is an aldehyde, although it has such creamy white flowers and a powdery finish that it is sometimes hard to categorise it with other more astringent aldehydes such as Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass or First by Van Cleef and Arpels.  

It used to remind me of a slightly gone off old fashioned powder compact, which is in fact how Chanel No 5 smells to me ( I’ve never been a fan but I suppose I’ll have to review it at some point).

The top notes of L’Aimant are: Neroli, Bergamot, Peach and Aldehydic Notes. Personally, I didn’t get even a soupçon of Bergamot.  L’Aimant is more peachy  and soapy, with the Neroli providing a hint of rich white flowers.

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Middle notes are Jasmine, Geranium, Ylang, Rose and Orchid.  I can pick out Jasmine and Rose, but the others are a pleasant furry blur, with maybe a prickle of Spicy Geranium

Basenotes are Vetiver, Musk, Sandalwood, Cedar, Tonka and Vanilla. I definitely get the Vanilla, Sandalwood and Musk, if nothing else. It is after all, a creamy and warm finish with a flourish of powder puff.

What never ceases to amaze me is that a long lasting perfume of this calibre can still be had for a song.  Last time I looked it was under 8GBP for a 30ml Parfum de Toilette spray. A while back, I posted an article called “Good Perfumes Under Ten pounds: Is It Possible?”.  I’m amazed I left this out.  I’ll just have to do another list. (Look out for forthcoming Top Tens).

I may well be giving Coty L’Aimant  a second chance as homage to my late grandmother, who was always such a lady.

 

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Askett & English Essential: Wake Up, It’s a Beautiful Morning

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My sense of smell is slowly creeping back so I thought I’d try something fresh and astringent. We’re not quite firing on all cylinders, but Askett & English Essential is so fresh and bright, it could break through any fog and stuffiness.

Askett & English is a small English perfume company based in the scenic Chiltern Hills. With only two scents to their name (so far I hope), their reputation depends on quality far more than a larger company who can hide a weak link.

The two perfumes are Essential and Absolute. I have only tried Essential, which I am reviewing today.

If You like O de Lancome or Eau Dynamisante, you’ll love this. It’s an Eau de Cologne with lasting power, and it smells heavenly.  Opening notes are Lemon and Bergamot, and middle notes are Lavender and Jasmine. Base notes are Woodier, with Oakmopss, Vetiver and Cedar. The base notes particularly remind me of O de Lancome with’s its Zingy opening and green, prickly base.

Primarily, the Lime comes through stronger than anything, which is lucky, since I love Lime. It’s sparkling: almost like a gin and tonic. You can imagine the bubbles and the ice cubes in a frosty cold glass.

It smells quintessentially English: as English  as cricket whites and tea roses and honey for tea.  It’s not clear if it’s directed at men or women, but it matters not at all. This would smell excellent on either.

Available from limited stockists, I was kindly provided with a sample from Scent and Sensibility. Both Essential and Absolute cost £60 for 100ml.

In  all honesty, if you already  owned O de Lancome and Eau Dynamisante as well, you probably wouldn’t need this (although need and want mean the same thing when talking about perfume), but if you have neither, this will do nicely.

LUSH Sikkim Girls: Don’t Be Seduced.

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 I have remained unimpressed by LUSH Series 2 Gorilla perfumes, although admittedly I have only tried three of them. I now come to the third and final LUSH Gorilla perfume in my possession: Sikkim Girls. Legend has it that the Sikkim Girls were dangerous seductresses who would attract men with their sensual swaying from side to side. The exotic line drawing on the bottle is a lovely, if rather menacing, illustration of this pair of minxes.

 I was so ready to like Sikkim Girls. It opens with Jasmine: a loud, floaty yellow cloud of it.  Sadly , this is not a good Jasmine. It reminded me of the kind of 99p perfume oils you would buy on a market stall. Or even,  public toilets  with the added gentility of Council supplied air freshener.  Jasmine can often have an indolic quality which may be why it makes people think of toilets, but I  reckon if I can handle Serge Lutens Sarrasins, I can handle anything.

 Just as I was  considering washing it off, the Frangipani kicked in. This did nothing to change my mind  and just left a nasty taste in my mouth, liking eating Bakewell Tart in a tiled lavatory. The Vanilla background reminded me of the dreaded Furze (my sofa still smells of it five weeks after my sons decanted a 7ml bottle of it onto the arms).  So what have we got? Cheap Jasmine toilet freshener against an oversweet synthetic Almond and Vanilla background.

 It baffles me why last year’s Gorillas were so good and why this years’ are so bad (again, I have only tried three, to be fair to LUSH). There was an excellent post recently from Another Perfume Blog who came up with an interesting theory:

” It makes me wonder if the Constantines are evolving as perfumers in a way that perhaps every perfumer does, with the difference that—because they own their own shop—they are selling what they make at each stage, where a perfumer working for a big brand might consider such products to be part of the learning process, or to be early-stage accords to be fleshed out into a perfume.”

I agree with this theory: these perfumes smell unfinished, or even crude to my nose. When I think of how lovely violetty Tuca Tuca was, I find it hard to believe that the same perfumers made this awful mess.

Another fact that shocked me is that the Jasmine that I find so cheap smelling is Jasmine Absolute. And yet never before has it smelled so trashy.

At £27.50 for a little 25 g bottle, it’s not the cheapest, despite how it smells. If I had £27.50 to spend on perfume, I can think of twenty other things I would rather do with it.

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Next Just Pink: And Other Budget Buys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andy Tauer Pentachord Verdant: Experience Required But Not Essential

 

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I’m a Green fan. I’m hard core. I like them bitter. The more bitter, the better. If you hate Green notes, I’d be amazed if you like Tauer Pentachord Verdant. And boy, is verdant the word!

The Pentachords are a series of three fragrances made up of five notes each. Its simplicity is its charm. Andy Tauer never has to please a committee when he creates perfume and that’s why I am a devotee of the brand. I always love to see what he’ll come up with next.

In topping up my depleting supply of Carillon Pour Un Ange samples (Cannot live without it now), I added a Pentachord sample to the cart, and I was surprised, by it, but not disappointed.

Firstly, there are no flowers here, it’s like a dark canopied forest with a freshly turned floor after a heavy rain. It’s green like nettles, leaves, broken ferns and moss. Not a whisper of a petal. Like I said, it’s hard core. The Petal People ran away scared, but the Green Guerillas merely tutted and marched on through the branches. This didn’t faze them.

Pentachord Verdant is almost one dimensional, in that it doesn’t change much, although there is a tangy basenote that I thought was Ambergris. In fact I was mistaken and it was Amber and Tobacco. To me, this smells like a green tobacco, unripe and unsmoked and still wet.

So extreme is this that it just about borders on smelling of leaf mould. It’s pungent but stops just before it goes off. It’s rank and high, like rotting undergrowth turning into new fresh soil ready for green shoots. Wonderful!

I can’t help thinking  that now I will have to track down the other two Pentachords: Pentachord White and Pentachord Auburn. This got my interest, kept it, and made me into a fan.

Tauer samples are available from Scent and Sensibility or Les Senteurs in the UK. Or if you happen to be in Zurich, pop into the shop and go nuts with your plastic. I know I would.

Paco Rabanne Lady Million: All That Glitters

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

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

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

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

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photo by waugsberg

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

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

Lady Million is white flowers, with lily of the valley, gardenia and neroli out and proud and dominating. Sadly, the white flowers smell horribly synthetic to me, or maybe I have been spoiled by better scents now.

Dree Hemingway for Paco Rabanne

The other sticking point with me is the honey note. It seems to make the essential freshness of the white flowers sticky and cloying.  There is a place for sweetness in a perfume- Givenchy Amarige is an  example of how sweet can work without sweeties, but in Lady Million the honey took away the white, clean notes of the Gardenia and replaced it with something that left the flowers rather droopy and flat.  It’s like a sticky stain on perfect white cotton. I’ll pass, but it might smell better on you. Millions of fans can’t be wrong, but I can.

Stockists

You can buy Lady Million from The Fragrance Shop, or Boots to name but two. It’s widely available.

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

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Escada Especially Escada Delicate Notes: Dare to Breathe

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Created in 2012, this new release from Escada sits as delicately as a fairy’s wing in the palm of a hand. Standing out from the weekly rent a scent releases, this is refreshingly not a vanilla drenched fruity floral, although it is most definitely floral.

Kept light and airy as a feather with delicate notes (see, it lives up to its name!) of Rose, and Grapefruit, this is a scent that is almost translucent in its lightness of touch. Delicate Notes is feminine in the extreme, and I would normally say it wouldn’t work for a man, but I have it on good authority that in hotter climes, Roses work beautifully on male skin.

There are two types of Rose in Escada Especially Escada Delicate Notes, and the notes are used sparingly. It’s definitely the petals of a dew kissed Rose, but there’s no Turkish Delight. If La Fille De Berlin is the dark eyed Evil Twin of Rose Fragrances, then this is the pretty and good sister, who always gets good grades at school.

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Delicate Notes escaped my attention several times. I saw it in The Perfume Shop next to several other launches that inevitably came with a beach bag. Turning my snobby nose in the air, I turned and left. However, trying a free sample a week later made me think again. This is quite similar to Gucci Envy Me in that it is a gentle, light floral with a hint of clean laundry. The person who wears this is as fresh as a daisy and has never smoked a cigarette or gone to bed without taking off their make up first.  It’s pure and clean and lovely.

Lasting power isn’t bad at all, at around five hours, and I would seriously consider making this a full bottle purchase. Florals can be hard to get right, but this is light as air, and perfect just as it is.

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Kate by Kate Moss: A Fleeting Glimpse of Beauty

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photo by mirror.co.uk

Back in 2005, I often saw photos of Kate Moss dating Pete Doherty and despaired of them ever finding a bar of soap or some toothpaste. She appears to have cleaned up her act since, although I can’t help thinking that this enigmatic stalwart of the modelling world probably smells of cigarettes and Glastonbury. She does scrub up well for work though, so if I focus on her indisputably glamorous side, I can probably enjoy her fragrance: Kate by Kate Moss.

The packaging is pretty and retro in a seventies sort of way and opening notes are delicate and pretty- you can immediately pick out the pretty Peony and Violet Leaf. It is an inoffensive scent, ideal for office wear, and mild enough to squoosh on in the morning. And squoosh you must! This scent is fleeting and faint, and needs a good blast in order to make even an apologetic impact, though impact may be too strong a word. One spray will not pass muster. Use lavishly and you still won’t offend even the most delicate of asthmatics.

I was wary when I saw Pineapple in the top notes, but I can safely report that there wasn’t so much of a hint of it, nor should there be (great on pizza, terrible in fragrance!) Base notes allege to be Musk, Cedar and Patchouli, but if this ever lasts long enough to contain base notes, I’ll eat my cat.

Several reviewers on Fragrantica have compared this to Stella McCartney’s Stella in Two Peony.  I have smelled both, and there are indeed similarities.  I can tell you though that the difference is, unsurprisingly, that Stella costs more and lasts longer. You get what you pay for in this case.

However, Kate by Kate Moss is harmless and inoffensive, unlike its namesake, who I always thought was more of a L’Air de Rien  sort of girl. It’s as if some one has tried to tame a wild girl and make her be a secretary. Worth a tenner though, and we should always be grateful about absent pineapple.