If you’re in a floaty peony sort of mood, I’m afraid you’ve come out of the wrong lift. But if you’re looking for Black Osmanthus, follow that woman with the black lipstick. Follow her into that unmarked door with the smoky jazz drifting out of it. You’ll find what you’re looking for in there.
Black Osmanthus by Marina Barcenilla won this year’s Fragrance Foundation Award for Best Independent Perfume, and I for one, was jolly pleased. It’s not just because Marina does everything herself, including sourcing the absolutes and extracts that she makes her potent potions with, but because Black Osmanthus is not your usual dab it on after a shower and wear it to work fragrance. Black Osmanthus breaks the mould and gives a rude salute , which appeals to the rebel in me that so often, by necessity, gets supressed.
Osmanthus is the name for a genre of around 30 types of blossoming plants. Petals are usually white and the scent is likened to fruity, leathery blossom, often with apricot or peachy cadences.
Black Osmanthus is heavy, leathery, smoky and to my nose at least, has a hint of gorgeous creosote, like a freshly painted fence. This is by no means a criticism- creosote is one of my favourite scents ever.
Black Osmanthus opens with all the subtlety of an Avon Lady knocking your door down with a sledgehammer. On my skin, it takes me straight into smoky, leathery tar territory and I pretty much stay there. I should tell you that Marina wore this the night of her win and in a room full of fume heads wearing their favourite scents, this beautiful smoked leather was distinct and true throughout the evening.
This is made from layers of leathery notes: There’s rich saffron stamens, dark patchouli, almost sticky in its depth, bay rum and myrrh.
The flowers are, if you’ll pardon the pun, no shrinking violets: there’s tuberose and jasmine and they’re not dainty. The oakmoss sits with the other tough guys and makes this the ultimate dark, leathery spicy scent for those who have been seeking exactly this. It reminds me of those little vials of Middle Eastern attar with its amber juice that let the fumes escape like snakes.
Lasting power is fantastic. Spray at dawn and enjoy wafts of it until dusk. And then stay up all night.
Some blog posts are very hard to write because I’m so afraid I won’t do them justice. This is one of them. I was on such a high after coming back from the Perfume Society Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshop that I was neither use nor ornament for about 48 hours.
First of all, The Perfume Society is three years old and is the only body of its type in the world. They know this because they googled to find a perfume society before realising there wasn’t one. The Perfume Society is the brainchild of legendary beauty editor and writer Jo Fairley and her business partner Lorna McKay. I have been reading Jo’s work since around 2000 ish, before blogging was invented and back when I was a One Scent woman.
The workshops are not just exclusive to London, so it really is worth subscribing to The Perfume Society, if only to get access to The Scented Letter and Discovery Box discounts. The workshop I attended was in the basement of The New Moon Tapas Bar in Clifton.
It was a wonderfully informative, but informal session that made me feel like I was BFFs with everyone around the table, and not just my real life BFF Lisa, who was also there. Jo is an engaging speaker and delivers the workshop in an accessible and inclusive way that felt like a chat with a friend except with far more “Wow! I never knew that” moments.
You may think that having written 817 blog posts about perfume that I might know a lot. Well I know about 1% of what I actually want and need to know. However, you very much do NOT have to be a blogger in order to attend. For one thing, the amount of experience and knowledge you need to attend the workshop is ZERO. No experience required.
So, what happens? Well, we were made comfortable with refreshments and introduced ourselves, which wasn’t cringy like work training, but friendly like meeting your tribe. There were six of us altogether and it was especially lovely to meet Claire, who I have been following on Instagram and talking to on the perfume group Eau my Soul.
Jo explained that part of the mission of The Perfume Society is to put us back in touch with our sense of smell, referred to by Helen Keller as “The Fallen Angel of the Senses” and she was right. Back when we were cavewomen, we could sniff out herbs, non-toxic berries and woolly mammoths, but now our sense of smell has been blunted by modern conveniences.
The workshop goes about starting us on the path to putting this right. We did some very interesting sniffing, giving our impressions in an atmosphere in which there was no right or wrong. There was also a very interesting exercise in which we tried minty Green and Black’s chocolate to see if it was smell or taste that gave us the minty hit. The answer really surprised me. Plus, you know, Green and Blacks. *swoon* (something else we have Jo to thank for).
The third section was the bring a bottle party. Some of it was 80% proof. Yes, I’m talking fragrance. Prior to attending, we were asked to bring a bottle of our favourite scent. I had to be very strict with myself and put the wheelbarrow back before leaving the house with just one: Art de Parfum Gin &Tonic.
My adorable colleagues, as I now thought of them, brought a few each, so we had great fun diving on the stuff we hadn’t smelled yet and sharing opinions. On top of that we were given goody bags to take home. Reader, this was better than my birthday.
As if that wasn’t enough fun, we then got the chance to buy Discovery Boxes and the gorgeous Perfume Society Scented Skincare set at big discounts. As if that wasn’t enough, we then go to visit a brand-new niche perfumery called Shy Mimosa, which I will write about separately, and where we also had a big discount.
So, was it worth it going? Did I improve my sense of smell? Yes, and yes and it was wonderful and I had several OMG moments where I made surprising discoveries and oh, my stars, what a day!
If you ever get the chance to attend one, go. Just go. They’re not just in London and you don’t need to know anything beforehand. If there’s not one near you, then email The Perfume Society and tell them. They will listen. Unless you live alone on a remote island that can only be reached by catamaran at high tide. Apart from that, if enough people clamour, then you never know…
The problem with celebrity fragrances is that they keep getting discontinued. Out of my favourites from just three years ago, around six are impossible to get now. The rumour on the grapevine is that celeb fragrances are on the way out, or at least on the way down, and I have mixed feelings about this. Firstly, if all celeb fragrances were of the fruity floral fruitichoulil smellalike genre that so many were, then fine. See ya. No problem here. However, celebrity fragrances are like jumble sales. It might look like a load of junk but when you rummage, you find gold and treasure.
The other great thing about celebrity fragrances is that they are not expensive. They’re competing with other celebrity fragrances which are also not expensive, so they can’t risk sky high prices. That’s not their demographic. Oh, and don’t forget that the celebrity doesn’t actually make them. Celeb fragrances are made by respected houses such as Givauden, Coty and Elizabeth Arden. I really can’t see Beyoncé in a lab coat with a pipette moaning about the price of orris butter, can you? Lovely mental image though.
I have found some absolute gems among celeb fragrances and I am genuinely sad not to be able to buy some of them anymore.
What follows below is an up-to-date, up-to-the minute round up of celebrity fragrances that you can definitely easily buy at the moment at the time of going to press, I promise. Some are old faithfuls that have been around a while, and show no signs of leaving, and some are new. All of them are jolly good, at least in my opinion.
Sarah Jessica Parker Stash SJP
This is my number one favourite. SJP is rare in that she is deeply involved in the scents she creates and her own tastes influence what she launches. In the case of Stash, I applaud her for taking a risk. This smoky sandalwood and incense treat was never going to be a mass market crowd pleaser, but critics and fumeheads love it, as do I. Here’s my review and here’s where you can buy it.
Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely
I wear this regularly and now that my 100ml bottle is going down, I’m looking to replace it. It suits just about everyone and to me, it has a wonderful 50s retro feel. You can read my review here. Many compare it to Narciso Rodriguez For Her. You can buy Lovely in many places at varying prices. I bought mine from here.
A wonderfully clean scent that reminds me of freshly washed hair and clean laundry. It lasts for ages too. Launched in 2002, this shows no sign of going anyway and has become a classic for good reason. You can buy it here.
Britney Spears Curious
This was launched way back in ’04, which is a long time ago in the perfume universe.. I complimented a friend on this and asked her what she was wearing- I was surprised when I found out it was Britney Curious as I’d written it off. Its use of magnolia and pear sets it apart from the usual pink sugary fruity florals and it has a lovely light feel to it with no stickiness. Extra points for the beautiful blue glass bottle, and if you can get one with the puffy squeezy atomiser, even better. You can buy it here.
Rogue made an impact on me because it didn’t go in the obvious direction that it could have. I t could have gone all pink pepper and red berries and vanilla, but it didn’t. In fact, it reminded me of Serge Lutens Daim Blond, which is all about the unusual but genius combination of suede and apricots. Here’s my review of Rogue and here’s where you can buy it.
Rihanna Reb’l Fleur
I have a full 100ml bottle of this. I wouldn’t normally have thought of buying it, but my dear brother picked it out for me himself for my birthday. I was so touched. I hardly ever get perfume as a gift (violins!) and I was delighted to get this whopper. Reb’l Fleur is a heavy hitting, patchouli rich fruity floral with a hit of coconut and vanilla. Sillage is massive and longevity huge. Two sprays in the morning and you’ll be sorted till tea time. You can buy it here.
Celine Dion Sensational
By a happy turn of fate, I stumbled across this in my local Lloyds Pharmacy when I was picking up my husband’s prescription. There was a tester at the till and it was on special offer at 9.99. I didn’t buy it that day, and when I went back, it was gone. However, I fell in love with it. It lasted at least seven hours and was a delicious melange of pear, plum, freesia, lily of the valley and violet. It opens like a juicy tropical fruit scent and segues into a stunning musky floral. The nose behind it is the legendary Maurice Roucel. This one is at the top of my Wanted list. You can buy it here.
Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds
This opens like an aldehyde and ends like a chypre. Full of old school Hollywood glamour, this is bursting with all the rich white flowers: tuberose, jasmine, neroli. It’s not really one for the young palate of today, but as a fan of classic chypres and big eighties sillage, this is right up my street. It’s cheap as chips and widely available. Round of applause for the diamante choker round its neck. You can buy it here.
9. Adam Levine For Her
This is a real gem that often goes under the radar. Lisa Jones let me borrow her bottle and I was very impressed. This comes in a smart white box in a bottle that’s shaped like a microphone. This is a woody, slightly spicy scent with a long, langorous sandalwood base. It is so cheap I was suspicious, but I can vouch for its fabulousness. Plus you know, Adam Levine. Cor. You can read my review here and buy it from here for less than ten quid. Oh, and it’s totally unisex, so ignore the “For Her” label.
Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights
This has featured on my previous best celeb scents list and it qualifies for this one because it is still available and still cheap. It has patchouli, papyrus and amber, and many say that it is a dead ringer for Prada Amber ( and it is!). Still available on Amazon for under £20 for a big bottle. Here’s my review.
The ones I miss
The following celeb fragrances are either available but three times the price they were, or impossible to find. Reader, I mourn them: JLo Deseo, Hilary Duff with Love, Sarah Jessica Parker The Lovely Collection- Dawn, Endless and Twilight, Queen by Queen Latifah, Manifesto by Isabella Rossellini.
The ones I want to try
Antonio Banderas’s vast range (he has been launching scent since 1997), Drew Barrymore’s new ones, Joan Collins’ new ones for Marks and Spencer, Sofia by Sofia Vergara and Elizabeth Taylor Gardenia and Passion, which I still haven’t tried.
How about you?
What celebrity fragrances do you like to wear? Which ones do you miss? Which do you want to try? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
Ever since Liz Moores launched her perfume house, Papillon Artisan Perfumery in 2014, I have been impressed, nay, blown away by the calibre of her fragrances. My superlatives have overtaken each other on each new launch and this fifth scent, named Dryad, was much anticipated by me and the many cohorts of Papillon fans. To say that I was not disappointed would be a vast understatement. In fact, I feel that this was made just for me, even though I know it wasn’t.
My favourite scent genre is the mossy green chypre. It’s hard to get the good ones these days, especially since IFRA made everything so safe that the fragrance industry suffered casualties in the purge. Green chypres have never quite regathered themselves into that glory-days retro mustiness that I am always seeking: like the end of the rainbow, it eludes me the nearer I get. Well, there’s a happy ending to my quest and that rainbow has ended in my lap with a pot of gold, because that’s how I felt when I sprayed my sample of Dryad.
Dryads are mythical wood nymphs, whose lives are intrinsically entangled to the tree they inhabit. When the tree dies, so do they. There’s a wonderful message in Dryad. In all the hectic noise of modern life, it is time we slowed down and inhaled the moss and the leaves and listened to the birdsong, because when the trees die, so do the dryads.
It didn’t surprise me at all that Liz Moores chose this as the name of her fifth fragrance: after all, she lives a sylvan existence nursing broken wings and wrangling stripy tailed lunatics in the heart of the New Forest. So the big question is of course, what does it smell like?
What does Dryad smell like?
Dryad opens with bergamot and oakmoss and a mass of herbs. I find it rare for oak moss to come out straight away: it’s usually a base note, sneaking in at the end. Dryad, though, is all about the oakmoss and it’s pretty much the main figure in this beautiful composition. The greenery is all encompassing: musty, mossy and mysterious, like a dark route through a forest. There’s fauna as well as flora: deer tongue absolute has been used to beautiful effect. Deer tongue has a herby/tobacco accord and it certainly makes its presence felt. This is everything you find in the woods.
The middle phase reminded me of genuine, vintage, Dior Diorissimo: that classic green ily of the valley chypre. You can still buy Diorissimo of course, but it’s not the same as the slightly dirty version I smelled from a vintage bottle a few years back. That bottle of Diorissimo gave me a whiff of sweaty, talcum powdered inner thigh.: not so much a sexy smell, as a womanly smell. It’s no sterile baby powder, but powder it most certainly is. The nymph tries out a ladylike phase before returning to her feral roots.
The base of Dryad, whilst never wavering from the chord I’ve named Oakmoss Major, is a little bit Guerlinade, but greener. There is narcissus and jonquil (a very vernal dafodilly posy) and they merge and move around like weather clouds from one phase to the next.
My overall sign off from Dryad is a picture in my mind of green damp woods, overrun by thick moss, a delicate glove from a vintage handbag, a whiff of Diorissimo and a fluffy talcum puff. Oh, and the warm flanks of a startled faun.
It’s not quite launched yet, but I’ll update when it is. You can currently buy Papillon fragrance from the website or from branches of Les Senteurs in the UK. Check the website for further stockists in Europe, USA and Canada. My sample was very kindly sent to me by Liz Moores, and opinions are my own. Papillon has an excellent sample service. You can read my reviews of the other Papillon scents here: Anubis, Tobacco Rose, Angelique, Salome.
Funnily enough, my children and I were halfway through Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox when this arrived in the post. I have been reading this book since the mid-seventies and it kept me company during several commutes in my twenties too. This utopian story in which handsome Mr Fox overcomes adversaries brings both adults and children back to this classic story. Also, it marks the only time in my life when I ended up with a bit of a crush on a charismatic fictional wild animal.
As if she can read my mind, or hear the funny voices when I read in Farmer Boggis’s voice, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz posted me a trio of samples all the way from Boulder Colorado: you know, where Mork and Mindy lived.
So what does Foxy smell like and is it as fantastic as Mr Fox himself? Well, read on.
Foxy instantly smells like a vintage scent. I don’t know how Dawn does this, but usually you have to buy fragrance that’s about 70 years old to get this kind of ambery aged lushness.
The amber smells almost rusty, which seems appropriate when you think of the name of the scent. There are flowers, although they don’t dominate. I detected jasmine and spiky, peppery carnation. There are spicy herbs and a little heat from ginger, and a fun note of apple brandy, made by and drunk by Farmer Bean from the book, who drinks only cider and never eats.
The final flourish has definite notes of oak moss mingling with the amber, to give this an animalic, rustic heat. I am often to be found with my face buried in the flank of a sleeping cat and this warm fuzzy finish certainly reminded me of that. The big star here though, is amber. It’s there at the start, in the middle and at the end. The amber adds a cosy warmth and showcases all the other notes within its embrace.
Foxy is fantastically Foxy. Let it transform you into a twenty first century fox with a retro twist and a crafty twinkle in your eye.
You can buy Foxy from the DSH Perfumes website, which also provides an excellent sample service. My sample was from Dawn herself, for which, my warmest thanks. Opinions are my own.
Being obsessed with both cats (I’ve got three) and fragrances (I got eleventy hundred), I was delighted to receive a bottle of Kitten Fur fragrance from my good friends at The Library of Fragrance.
Now, I always go a bit clucky when I talk about my boys as kittens, but I distinctly remember the kitty smell of them when they gingerly emerged from the cat box for the first time. I couldn’t wait to cuddle them but when I buried my nose in their fur, I couldn’t help wishing that I hadn’t. There was a whiff of cat pee, kitten bums and dribble. Don’t panic, reader, I can assure you that Library of Fragrance Kitten Fur has none of this.
As cats gradually gorw out of kittenhood, their cleaning gets more fastidious. Ask my sleek black 9 year old, Ruby, who cleans herself up to 57 times a day. The scent of her is more subtle now, but in a dark room I could pick my black cat out just by sniffage, and it is now that we are more in Library of Fragrance Kitten Fur territory.
My nose tells me that this has tonka bean in it. A light combo of vanilla and almond, this is much more like the cuddly, comforting scent of a cat. In fact, I often think my cats’ fur smells faintly of plain biscuits, and this is captured perfectly.
There are also musks in here, but not the animalic civetty musk that smells “dirty good”, it’s more like a clean but nevertheless distinct musk. The overall feel is one of a cwtch in a bottle. Cwtch means “to comfort” in Welsh and it’s more of an uninhibited wrapping round of arms than a polite hug.
Kitten Fur is like a warm, fluffy gourmand scent that purrs. It made me feel very soppy indeed. Spray liberally, and….rest.
Watch this space for a Kitten Fur giveaway!
Library of Fragrance Kitten Fur is available from The Library of Fragrance website. My bottle was sent to me by The Library of Fragrance, for which, warm thanks. Opinions are my own.
I was recently sent a bottle of Clive Christian 1872 For Women to see what I thought of it. I already had friendly feelings towards the brand as I had met the legendary Keith at the Clive Christian desk at Fortnum and Mason. He knows the brand better than I know myself.
My second visit to the same desk yielded a fascinating tour of the scents and some samples from the lovely Tamara. Both were charming and did not appear to mind that I did not (could not) purchase a bottle.
Let’s get the awkward money chat out of the way right now- this stuff is really expensive. Doesn’t mean we can’t sniff anf enjoy though. In fact, if you did have money to invest in scent, you could do a lot worse than Clive Christian with its rich heritage dating from, yes, you’ve guessed it, 1872. Queen Victoria let the Crown Perfumery company use the image of her crown as a symbol of quality on their bottles, and when they went out of business, Clive Christian stepped in and the brand was born (and the beautiful bottles are the same design).
So, what does it smell like?
The first things that make their presence felt in 1872 are citrus and herbs, namely lemon and rosemary. Rather than give this a culinary feel, however, it gives it a light, clean sorbet opening. It cleanses the palate before you’ve eaten the entrée.
The middle note brings out the chorus of jasmine and freesia, but the big diva here is the Rose de Mai. Whilst this precious rose is very much in the room, there is something cold and metallic about 1872. Maybe because it smells faintly aquatic, or because it lacks a warmth- I don’t know. Sometimes, in the hot weather, a cold scent is what you need to cool down so I declare this an excellent scent for summer, (if memory serves. Haven’t seen sun for a loooong time).
As the base notes kick in, this becomes a floral lemon/lime melange. It smells crisp and cool, like pressed linen, and with only a trace of the oak moss I was hoping to be enveloped by. The base then settles like a sunset into richer notes: a hit of patchouli and a satisfying fix of dark guaiac wood.
Some Fragrantica readers reckon that this smells a bit like Calvin Klein CK One. Now, whilst I can see similarities, Clive Christian 1872 has more depth and resonance and far more complexity. I have always found CK One to be a bit shrill on me, in any case.
All in all, if I had a money tree in my garden like my children think I have, then yes, this beautiful green and gold bottle would live happily on my dressing table, and I’d let it bring all its friends.
Clive Christian is available from Fortnum and Mason or from Harrods. My bottle is on loan and opinions are my own. Which rhymes.
Thank you to Claudia: this is on its way back after its little holiday chez IScent.
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.
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.
In 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.
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.
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
Two weeks ago, I invited you to send me your perfume problems. This week a dear friend of the blog, Cassieflower, came to me with the following problem. Reader, I share her pain. It hurts when a favourite is reformulated or discontinued . Cassieflower, you are not alone!
Dear Aunty Sam,
I hope you, or indeed some of your readers, can help. My all-time favourite perfume is Fidji by Guy Laroche, and even though this can still be found cheaply on lots of sites it really is only a shadow of its former self. I used to wear it in parfum strength but nowadays the only offering is edt, and that just don’t cut the mustard with me. Any suggestions for a replacement would be most welcome. Pleeeze and fankoo
Firstly, you have excellent taste. That’s a given. Guy Laroche Fidji is quality stuff. I had a bottle back in the 80s and it was green and gorgeous and landed me compliments. Unfortunately, reformulations are so very widespread, as we know. There’s a whole support group for traumatised fans of original YSL Opium, or at least there should be.
I went out today and tried Fidji in my local Perfume Shop to jog my memory. It is indeed far weaker than I remember it. However, it reminded me of two perfumes. The first is Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps. Fidji is almost a greener flanker to L’Air du Temps. Both have the orris root, carnation, iris, violet, spices, oakmoss and aldehydes. The second scent that Fidji reminded me of is Clinique Calyx. It’s not as close a match, but Calyx has the transparent greenery that Fidji has, albeit with a touch more tropical/botanical fruit going on.
As for Fidji itself, it does seem to be widely available in eau de toilette form and not much else. The only advice I can offer is drench yourself in the EDT in summer and break out the L’Air du Temps eau de parfum in colder weather. I promise you will always smell wonderful.
I also had a plea from reader Mia who has fallen in love with Maison Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540– and who can blame her? However with a hefty price tag, Mia is looking for something in the same vein that is slightly kinder on the old budget. Mia- you are singing my song! I’m having a very frugal March at the moment.
Dear Aunty Sam
Hello! I’ve fallen in love with Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540. Smells like warmed skin and caramel but 100000x better. I can’t stop sniffing my wrists and cooing sweet nothings to this scent when I’m wearing. Problem is, I can’t afford it atm. Any cheaper recommendations to tide me over? Thank you so much!
Thanks so much for writing in. You’re among friends here. Please help yourself to tissues. We’re used to traumatised perfume fans.
Baccarat Rouge 540 is indeed as lovely as you say, although it barely stayed on my skin at all. It was close to skin immediately after I sprayed and then poof! Gone.
I’ve been digging around on your behalf and I came across what I think is the best match. There is a company called Dua Perfumes who make a scent called Casino Royale. This has many notes in common with MFK Baccarat Rouge 540: notably saffron, mandarin, cedar and fir balsam ( actually pine in Baccarat, but same forest).
The bad news is that they are based in the USA. The good news is that there is a company in the UK called FragranceSamples UK who stock samples of other Dua perfumes, although not Casino Royale. I’m sure if you ask them nicely they could get some in. Sample prices are just over £11 for a generous 5ml sample, so not quite as spendy as Cap’n Kurk! You could also try Givenchy Pi, which has a similar herby orange opening and a muted gourmand base via almond and tonka notes.
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