Category Archives: Fragrance

Tableau de Parfums Miriam: I Think I Know Your Cousin

Image

I have a hotch potch of similar looking sample tubes and tried a new one yesterday without looking too closely at the label. What I ended up smelling was, I initially thought, Noontide Petals by Andy Tauer, but in fact turned out to be Miriam by Tableau de Parfums.

A few minuets of googling explained why I had been thinking of Noontide Petals. Miriam was Imagecreated by non other than our old friend Andy Tauer and his trademarks are all over it.

Tableau de Parfums is a collaboration between  a filmmaker, (Brian Pera), and a perfumer, (Andy Tauer). With each of the three perfumes in the range comes a DVD and a novella.

Personally, I’m not sure I like the idea, since to me, the fun of perfume is where it takes you in your mind and memory, and this should never be prescriptive. I like to smell a scent, and see where I go. It’s often a different journey and can jog long forgotten memories more effectively than any photograph.  However, in this case, the perfume itself is fabulous and has many hallmarks of a Tauer, a brand I regard very highly.

With more Chypre qualities than Noontide Petals, and more Violets, Roses and Ylang,  Miriam is indeed closely related to Noontide Petals but holds her own. Miriam has a wonderful vintage feel,  as does the bottle, and this was, unsurprisingly Tauer’s plan. In fact there are old fashioned notes in Miriam that make me think of a well used, beautifully polished antique dressing table with a fine layer of face powder and talc and some rosewater spilled onto the wood. There’s a hint of nail varnish, and a general impression of a messy boudoir, with shoes in the floor, and earrings by the side of the bed. However , this is very ladylike, and no messy Worth Courtesan.  Miriam keeps her cool with Citrus notes and Lavender, making this wonderful for summer, yet sophisticated enough for dinner at dusk. You can smell the individual ingredients, as if it was made with basic old fashioned methods, rather than today’s overprocessed factory synthetics.

The basenotes go a bit spicy and woody with Amber and Sandalwood  providing a softer background for the bright, chic opening. It ends dry and dusty, but still pretty with plenty of femininity left in the faded flowers.

Frankly, it’s gorgeous and I would be more than happy with a full of bottle of  ladylike, Miriam and her face powder and her nail polish. This is where it took me.  I wonder where it will take you? No two journeys are the same.

PS Does anyone else think Miriam looks like a cross between Anjelica Huston and Carla Bruni?

Hello to my USA Readers, This is For You. Obsession by Calvin Klein

obsess

I see from my blog dashboard that I have a lot of readers from the USA, a country that has given me several wonderful holidays (Hello San Jose, Yosemite, Carmel and San Francisco!). In honour of your special day, I thought it only right that I should review an American Classic.

Calvin Klein Obsession came along at a time when heavy, spicy perfumes were few and far between. There was Opium and Youth Dew and Cinnabar and that was about it on the Oriental Spicy front. Obsession was created in 1985, the same year as Dior’s Poison (Loud? Let’s just say it made an Aerosmith Concert sound like birdsong). Obsession had the big, brashness that was so characteristic of 1980s fragrance and fashion, think Alexis Carrington and her shoulder pads slamming open a dramatic set of double doors.  I miss you Joan. *sigh*

With a moody black and white ad campaign that was probably shot on a beach in the Hamptons, the market was ready for Obsession, even if train passengers were not.

Obsession opens with Spices, Amber, Sandalwood, a hint of Bitter Orange that’s pitched just right, and a whole host of other goodies that makes this shout “I’M HERE” as soon as you enter the room. Longevity is very good for a scent that’s High Street, mainstream and pretty inexpensive, and I have a sneaking fondness for it. On me, it unfolds in layers: Spice first, a slight booziness like Christmas,  Oranges, then Musk and Incense. I like it, but I am careful to spray just one squirt (base of throat) and no more, especially if I am going to be around food.  I love both perfume and food, but I do believe that perfume should never drown out the smell of either your meal or anybody else’s.

I had a bottle of Obsession in 1995, and again in 2005, and I don’t recall any differences in the formulation. Purists swear it’s been messed with, but I didn’t find  any  discernible anomalies .

 In a sea of fruits and berries and florals, this makes a welcome change and I wouldn’t object to a little mini revival, albeit sparingly. This has stood the test of the time and still feels current. One squirt usage makes the iconic egg shaped bottle last a very long time, making this a beauty bargain.

Happy Independence Day

LOEWE Quizas Quizas Quizas Pasion: Death By Red Berries

Image

 I was sent this recently as part of my disappointing Discovery Box from The Fragrance Shop. Once a quarter they send out several samples and vouchers for the princely sum of 5GBP. As I may have mentioned before, I remain unimpressed, but my uncontrollable addiction to perfume samples, good or bad, prevents me from cancelling.

This month’s offering contained Loewe Quizas Quizas Quizas Pasion, and I am reviewing it because two of the samples were for men, I haven’t got my head around Elvis Jesus yet (a  stingy 1ml sample, teeny), Mont Blanc smelled pretty similar to this, and after that I was left with Alien Aqua Chic, which I think the Universe wants me to review at some point since I now have three samples of the stuff.

 Loewe is a well established Spanish House that specialises in high end bags. They have now branched out into an extensive fragrance range, including  2007’s Quizas Quizas Quizas. In 2011 they launched a flanker, called Quizas Quizas Quizas Pasion.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to stop typing the long name and I’d like to call it QQQ Pasion. When I first sprayed it, a gang of overpowering Red Berries appeared from nowhere and whacked me over the head. As I came to, a faint whiff of pencil sharpenings and sickly flowers  poked their head through the Red Berry cloud, and a half acceptable note of Pale Woods made its presence felt, though not as much as I would liked. Then everything went a bit butch for a while, then disappeared in a puff of smoke, like a baddie at a Pantomine.

Yes, it’s a fruity floral, heavy on the red berries, and when I say heavy, I’m talking elephants and boulders. This is nothing new, it’s been done to death. However, there is an almost comical melodrama in the blurb, which was too good not to share:

“An aroma, more intense than the most erotic caresses. An eternal memory, never changing, never ending.”

Ahem. I don’t think so. However, if you are lacking in erotic caresses, do splash out on a  bottle of QQQ Pasion, as it’s apparently better than the aforementioned most erotic caresses.  If not, write to Trading Standards and complain that the smell of QQQ Pasion was NOT in fact more intense than the most erotic caresses and you would like your money back.

I might even do this myself, just for kicks.

Lostmarc’h Din Dan: Lemon Sherbert For Grown Ups

Image

A random sample of Din Dan was kindly given to me recently. As luck would have it, it was a very hot day, which is in fact, the perfect weather to wear Din Dan.

Lostmarch is a company based in Brittany with an ethos that insists on locally sourced natural products and which celebrates the beautiful region in which it is 10-mediumbased. Wild and beautiful stretches of beach, and the nearby flora and fauna: all have inspired their creations. In fact the name Din Dan means “underbush” in the local Bretagne dialect. All their perfumes are guaranteed to contain no parabens, propylene glycol, Pthalate or mineral oils, so if you know anyone who often has allergic reactions to perfume, point them in the direction of Lostmarch.

Image
www.avondaletraditionalsweets.com

Din Dan is bright and playful and fun. It smells exactly like Sherbet Lemons. To a UK nose, you will know that this means those hard lemon sweets with a sour and sugary sherbet in the middle.

It is surprisingly delightful as a perfume,  and not what I was expecting. There is supposed to be Mint, which I could not detect. There is also a dominant Lemon Verbena note, which just makes it greener and sharper. I remember smelling Lemon Verbena as a child and rubbing the leaves between my fingers. It’s divine in perfume and they have captured it well here.

Looking at the base notes, I was a bit worried as I saw Peach Blossom. Could this be a case of a sharp citrussy scent meeting a disastrous end of twee proportions? Thankfully not. The Lemon stays true and the Peach Blossom holds none of the cringey Peach notes that to me can be the difference between me buying a scent and me running away from it fast. No to Peaches!  I am pleased to report that the Peach Blossom in Din Dan is more Blossom than Peach and acts a calming back drop when the zingy-ness can no longer keep going.

Lostmarch Din Dan makes a welcome and refreshing change to the summer scents being sold on the High Street. On a hot day, this is almost unbeatable. If you like Chanel Cristalle and Annick Goutal Eau D’Hadrien, then it’s definitely worth giving this one a try.

LUSH Furze: Thanks. Thanks a lot.

Image

Oh dear LUSH, what happened? You have made so many beautiful scents such as Karma, Tuca Tuca, BScent, Icon and Smell of Weather Turning. Yet this year I have quite vehemently disliked 2013’s Euphoria, Sikkim Girls and now Furze.

Image
borrowed from www.thetimes.co.uk

I wasn’t going to review Furze today, but since my son just emptied my entire 7ml screw top bottle over the sofa, it looks like I have no choice. How I wish that he had chosen any other perfume but this one. It is now destined to be a semi permanent reminder of my dislike of Furze.

 Furze takes me back to my first ever Sindy Doll. Whenever I took her head off it smelled just like this. It’s sweet vinyl, drowned in some kind of bitterness. There are very few notes listed: Coconut, Neroli, Vanilla and Floral notes. The Coconut is concentrated to the point of being almost medicinal, the Vanilla is used with a heavy hand until it smells like Cyanide (Almonds), and the floral notes are a big sticky mess. This is not the Neroli I know and love. Frankly, this is dreadful. It’s overly sweet and it makes my eyes sting. Or maybe that’s emotion at the fact that my sofa is now one big giant room fragrance device smelling like Cleaning fluid and Sindy Dolls’ heads.

If you like sickly sweet, vinyl smells with a hint of petrol, then this is your lucky day.

Leo, this review is for you. Mummy not happy.

Hermes Kelly Caleche EDT by Jean Claude Ellena: Stand Back and Admire

 Image

It has often been said that the scents of the great Jean Claude Ellena are like watercolours. The ingredients are blended with such masterful grace that you cannot see where one begins and another ends. Indeed it seems almost pointless to analyse his fragrances note by note, since the final symphony is the masterpiece, rather than each orchestral unit.

My esteemed fellow blogger The Perfumed Dandy has likened JC Ellena scents to seurat.baignadePointillism rather than watercolours and this metaphor makes a great deal of sense. Once upon a time I stood very close to Seurat’s stunning “Bathing at Asnière”, and close up, trying to analyse his skill was indeed pointless, if you’ll pardon the pun. Close up it was a blurred mess of greys and pastels: blob over blob, making no sense at all. It was only as I stood back and looked from the back of the room that you can see how skilful the artist is.

And that my dear readers, is how I see Hermes Kelly Caleche. It’s the overall picture, not the individual notes. Yes there are lots of ingredients, including Violet, Rose and Mimosa, all of which can be clearly detected, but it is impossible to talk about Kelly Caleche without mentioning the gentle use of Leather. Could Leather ever be so delicate when done with floral notes? In this case yes. Despite Leather being largely considered a heavyweight, or associated with strong notes such as Tobacco or Spice, here it is surrounded by watery flower petals, as delicate as butterfly wings.

The lasting impression that Kelly Caleche gives me is of a shop that sells nothing but very Imageexpensive leather riding boots. If you need to look at the price tag, you can’t afford it. The leather is highly polished and glossy, no Cuir de Russie horsiness here. Behind the coiffed assistant (who is always French in my scenario), there is a vase of Mimosa and Roses.  Someone is eating a Parma Violet (probably me).  The leather fills the room and joins the flowers in one gorgeous glorious fragrance.

And that is what Kelly Caleche says to me. Stand back and admire.

Panache : A Welcome Reminder of Perfumed Days Past.

 Image

I have an unerring soft spot for 70s perfumes. It was my first ever decade. I was born in 1970, although I only look 27 (*cough*). Women in the 70s and early 80s gave me my blueprint for the future. How they smelled, what they wore, what they did. I looked at them and thought “I too will wear jumpsuits and big sunglasses and smell of that perfume one day, whilst smoking Menthol cigarettes and drinking Babycham”. The scents that I can remember are Avon Sweet Honesty, and Timeless, Tweed by Lentheric, even Tramp by Lentheric (imagine giving that to someone today!) Charlie, Aqua Manda, Coty L’Aimant and of course, Panache.

The Seventies to me is a faded memory of being so short that I lived among a forest of legs, where every street had an Avon Lady, and where my Christmas present every year contained my first ever perfume: Avon’s Pretty Peach.

Having reviewed Elizabeth Arden’s Blue Grass, I thought I’d go back into the past again and review Yardley’s/Taylor of London’s/Lentheric’s Panache (The recipe has changed hands a bit). It used to be made by Lentheric, as did so many of its fellow drugstore classics. I even remember the TV advert where a glamorous woman went to a party and charmed everyone there with her smiley face and nice smell.

Having bagged my bottle for the princely sum of 5.99GBP for 30ml, I couldn’t wait to try it.  I wasn’t disappointed. This a classic aldehyde right down to the tip of its 70s peeptoe sandals. It’s certainly a relation of Blue Grass: the common notes are Rose, Geranium and Aldehydes. However, it’s not quite as sharp as Blue Grass, with a powderiness that calms it down and makes it more wearable. The base notes come through right from the start: Myrrh, 70s style Sandalwood (in spades), and Oakmoss (or a good impression of it). However, despite the wood and spice in the base, this remains a light daytime scent, with all the flowers popping up to keep it pretty and not too in-your-face as Blue Grass can sometimes be. There’s citrus too: Oranges and Lemons, although I can only smell the Lemon, not the Orange.

The overall impression is a floral day time perfume with a powdery background, bedding down into woody notes with a hint of Palmolive.

Image Longevity is a surprise. For 5.99GBP this lasts around eight hours. It is excellent value for money and I would put it in the same category as Avon’s Timeless as a very cheap and massively underrated beauty.

I would love to see a revival of 70s drugstore classics to wipe out the sea of cheap vanilla and berries that seems to be everywhere.  Whatever you do this week, do it with Panache.

Andy Tauer Une Rose Chyprée : Bring Me Pearls

 Image

I do love a good rose, although a rose soliflore would be too bland for me.  I also love anything with Bergamot in, as well as a good spiky Patchouli and if possible, a bit of Oakmoss from time to time.

Lucky for me then, that Andy Tauer has created Une Rose Chyprée, which is all my favourite things in one big Perfume Sundae. Luckily Andy resisted sticking a cherry on top ( I am so over cherries! See my recent reviews of Delices de Cartier and Louve).

The opening notes of Une Rose Chyprée remind me a little of Noontide Petals.  It must be the Bergamot. Bergamot is so often used in hesperides and  colognes that it’s refreshing to  find it used in a powdery capacity in this floral Chypre.  Used in a similar way to Noontide Petals, the Bergamot has a lovely chalky quality, which I find thirst quenching, like wet chalky cliffs. It’s here in spades in Une Rose Chyprée.

Along with Bergamot comes a prickle of Patchouli and Vetiver, spiky Geranium and of course the Rose. The Rose is so intense that it becomes spicy. In fact, it reminds me of the kind of peppery rose scent that comes from the dried petals of a Tea Rose in a bowl of Pot Pourri. It’s not fresh and dewy, it’s aged, like good antique wood.

Put this together with a touch of Oakmoss and dried Vetiver grass, and you have a wonderfully spicy rose that is anything but bland. The powdery note gives this a charming retro feel. It makes me want to dress up when I wear it. Don your Pearls and lipstick ladies, this is elegant and ladylike.

Once again longevity is excellent. The only reason I kept respraying because I love the wet top note so much as it dries and settles. Une Rose Chyprée is ladylike, yes, but my addiction to it is not.

In the UK Tauer samples are available from Les Senteurs. Image Longevity is excellent, (around 12-14 hours per spray) and this is the Eau de Parfum concentration. Even the samples last over a week of constant daily wear on me, although I generally keep for them for best.

A Footnote Incidentally, Speaking of Tauers, I have just got back from the Hell that is Legoland (“L’Enfer est les Autres” J.P. Sartre). My scent was Carillon Pour Un Ange. It is the total antidote to crowds and hotdogs and commercialisation. I could handle the horrible bustle if I could just smell those Lily of The Valley and go to my happy place. There. I’ll bet you never thought you’d hear Carillon Pour Un Ange and Legoland in the same sentence, did you? Actually, neither did I.

LUSH Gorilla Perfumes: TUCA TUCA: But How Interesting, Violet.

Image

Working my way through some of LUSH’s latest releases, My heart was sinking. I have not been won over. However, in an older sample set, I came across 2010’s delightful Tuca Tuca. Happy as a polka dot, and pretty as a Posy, Tuca Tuca and its pretty Violets would be welcome on my dressing table any time.

 Tuca opens with both Violets and Violet Leaf, and if you’re looking for a Parma Violet fix, then you’ve come to the right place. Like Roses, Violets can often smell a bit Turkish Delight if it’s done too sweetly, but Tuca Tuca has added Vetiver to stop it going too frilly and girly. You might think, as i did, that the addition of Vanilla might over sweeten it, but it doesn’t, it just has a pleasant muffling effect to stop the violets soaring too high. The Cassis is strong, but so well aligned with the Violets that it just sort of blends in naturally, so that you can’t see the join between the two. Longevity is good at around five hours.

I can’t escape the thought that this smells like a Bath Bomb, and it does have that lovely fizzy, powdery tinge that so many Lush products have. Tuca Tuca was named after an Italian dance, and I do love that all their scents have a story or an origin behind them.

Sadly, the recent range, Set In Stone, has not moved me. I have tried Sikkim Girls, Euphoria and Furze, and I much prefer the 2010 range.

Tuca Tuca is agreeably affordable, starting at 5.50GBP for a delightfully retro push up solid perfume, rising to  a mere 24GBP for a full sized bottle.

There’s not many Violets around on the High Street these days, so start the purple revolution and wear your violets with pride.

 Image

Robert Piguet FRACAS (EDP): Remarkable simplicity.

Image

 Fracas has been around since 1948 and was relaunched in 1998. It has been popular since its conception by the great Germaine Cellier (who I love just for making my beloved Balmain Jolie Madame).

Famous fans are rumoured to include  Supermodel Iman, Madonna, the late Edie Sedgewick,  the late, great Isabella Blow, and Joanna “Lovely”Lumley to name but a few (I left out Ivana Trump).

Fracas has inspired other perfumes too: Madonna’s Truth or Dare is said to be a homage to Fracas since it was her late Mother’s favourite scent. Karl Lagerfeld’s Chloe Original is a massive Tuberose, and not at all dissimilar.

I have been wearing Fracas today and could not help but admire it. It’s longevity is excellent, bordering on the clingy, like a guest that just won’t leave, but that’s no bad thing in a perfume.

I was surprised to see on Fragrantica that as many as 25 notes were listed for Fracas. After the admittedly fruity citrus top note, which smells similar to freshly sprayed Joy by Jean Patou, I got only one note in the drydwon. Tuberose. In spades, and shovels and with bows on. Tuberose has that unmistakable floral creaminess, rich and cloying, almost to the point of smelling medicinal, in the ways that Lilies can. I am growing to like Tuberose rather than love it, even though it has my great respect already.

I remember some years ago buying a 30ml bottle of KL Chloe Original, and passing it on after about a month of not getting on with it all. What I thought at the time were overly sweet flowers, was in fact a huge Tuberose note, so if you like Fracas, you might want to try Chloe Original. It’s usually not much more than around 15GBP for 30ml these days. Madonna’s Truth or Dare is even less, and not bad at all: surprisingly traditional and ladylike for one whose crotch seems so familiar to me.

Whilst I understand that Tuberose is very beautiful and greatly esteemed, I think it’s going to be something I grow into. At the moment I am not enamoured, although I do quite like its clean soapiness. Fracas is impossibly feminine and beautiful, and even though I’m not in love with it, it has certainly held my interest all day and I can’t stop sniffing it. I wish more people would wear it. I can certainly handle it on them, if not myself.

Classic and sophisticated, wear with a light hand, but do try it.

PS I have included a link to The Celebrity Fragrance GuideA fascinating list of celebrities’ favourite perfumes. I can’t vouch for its authenticity, but I went into a trance whilst reading it- utterly compulsive and fascinating.