Category Archives: Fragrance for men

Ruth Mastenbroek Oxford: Students, Spires and Smoke

rmf_oxford_50ml_edp_web

An explosion of fresh, green, basil and peppery notes bursts from a herbal heart of clary sage with sensuous jasmine; vanilla, amberwood, and oudh bring a cashmere texture to the base.

Oxford (the fragrance) was inspired by those heady student days when you leave home for the first time and everything feels edgy, daring and slightly scary.   Its creator, Ruth Mastenbroek, read Chemistry at Oxford in 1970., hence the name.    I went to Exeter University, not Oxford ( couldn’t get in!) , but I can recall that butterflies-in-the-tummy excitement in the blink of an eye, and this fragrance  encapsulates those halcyon student days.

photo of naked man on the banks of the River Thames, Oxford by Paddy Summerfield
photo of naked man on the banks of the River Thames, Oxford by Paddy Summerfield

Oxford opens with Clary Sage, which I often mistake for lavender.  Clary Sage is no weakling: it is robust and muscly and borders on the smell of weed or filter-less cigarettes.   Cigarette smoke played a huge part in my student memories, and from this scent, I’m guessing it did for Ruth too.   That’s not to say this smells unpleasant: far from it- but there’s a brash masculine, herbal feel to it that reminded me of bristly chins and smoky  late night adventures.

The clary sage mixes with woods and oudh and to my nose, this has a sort of unfinished roughness, again- no bad thing.  It’s that unfinished shape that your student years  form you into.  You think you’re fully formed but you’re nothing like the finished product that you need to be.  Not yet.

RM-im_3
Ruth Mastenbroek

When the herbs and woods have settled down, this leaves a beautiful and very long-lasting impression in its wake.   The clary sage smells more like lavender now, and there’s a heady herbal thing going on (man).  Patchouli stays put like a slightly unwashed squatter.  If you want squeaky clean and generic, you’ve come to the wrong place.

Oxford goes from rough and dirty, to clean and earthy, like the morning after, as you walk home to birdsong after a long dark night of excess.  It grew and grew on me like a persistent suitor, and  has now become my favourite scent from Ruth’s collection.   Oxford has changing facets, like a kaledoscope, and that’s just one of the many things I love about it.

About Ruth

Ruth and her new friend Sam.
Ruth and her new friend Sam.

Ruth Mastenbroek has been making fragrance and fragrant products for far longer than you may realise. Her signature range only has three fragrances, yet Ruth was the brains behind many of the Bath House products and has worked on scented candles for Jo Malone, as well as being a former President of the British Society of Perfumers.

Complete the trilogy

I have previously reviewed Ruth’s RM Signature fragrance, and the wonderful Amorosa. Today I am competing my trilogy.

From the Times Educational Supplement
From the Times Educational Supplement

Stockists

RM Oxford is available from the Ruth Mastenbroek website and from Fenwick and Rouiller White.

Disclaimer

My sample was kindly provided by Ruth, for which, many thanks. Opinions are my own and this is not a sponsored post. In fact, I’ve never written a sponsored post!

Follow

How to Cool Down and Smell Good

 

transparent_crystal_ice_picture_167173

It’s hot in the UK today and we’re totally unprepared.  After wearing three layers to bed and three layers and a coat to do the school run,  I found myself struggling to find summer clothes in the sudden mini heatwave that hit us.

Although Wales, where I live, is my favourite place ever, there are certain weather anomalies that one must learn to endure. You can have rain all summer anda singular freak hot day in October, or a nine-month winter and a heatwave nobody’s ready for, which I think is what’s happening now.

photo from Russia Beyond the Headlines rbth.com
photo from Russia Beyond the Headlines rbth.com

A nice cold, ice cold fragrance feels like an essential rather than a luxury today so I thought I’d tell you a few of my Go-To scents on this sticky summer day.

When the weather’s hot, I want eau do cologne. This is not just because the high alcohol content cools down skin on contact but because the classic ingredients of herbs and citrus remain to this day the most refreshing combination you can get.  Most of the bottles I reach for have cologne elements in them.

Niobe from Cologne  and Cotton

CC_Niobe-400_m

On my dressing table is a large glass bottle of Niobe from Cologne and Cotton. It has the herbs and the citrus and surprisingly in a cologne,  even good longevity.  I have decanted it into a mini travalo for when out and about and I always get compliments.

jr-boboli

Le Jardin Retrouve Citron Boboli: It was a photo finish between Citron Boboli and Verveine d’Ete.  Both are perfect for hot weather and the citrus will really put a zing in your step and take away the hot fussies.  You can read my review here.

eaufraichemybottle1

Avon Little Black Dress Eau Fraiche: This one is going down fast. Lighter than the original, but still recognisably its flanker, this pale green bottle isn’t always available, so when it is, do grab it. My bottle was a fiver from the Avon brochure a few months back. I reviewed it here.

doe

4160 Tuesdays Doe in the Snow: I adore this fresh peachy chypre and have a little travel bottle. In case you were wondering why I never reviewed it,  it’s because I cannot match or surpass this description “citrus fruits, flowers and woods, stirred with an icicle.” That’s exactly what it smells like and it is beautiful.  EDIT- I have since reviewed this and you can read my verdict here.

Copy of sparklycitrus

 

Avon Scent Essences Sparkly Citrus: I bought this for just £2.50 when it was on offer.  It’s a 30ml eau de toilette that does what it says on the tin and smells a lot more expensive that the price I paid. In a similar vein, do try Crabtree and Evelyn West Indian Lime.  I tried it in winter and it was good in cold weather, but it’s fantastic now.

orange sanguine

Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine; I was sent a decant of this by my dear friend Patsi. Hi Patsi!  Atelier Cologne take all the things you love about the lightness and sharpness of cologne and add outstanding longevity.  Orange Sanguine is no exception. I also recommend Atelier Cologne Bergamote Soleil.

lav

Yardley English Lavender is always uplifting, but never more so than when you keep it in the fridge and squirt your hot cleavage with it.  I’m hoping the words “hot cleavage” won’t direct the wrong sort of traffic to my site, but you never know,  the hot cleavage seekers might learn something.

Over to you

What’s your favourite Cool Down scent in hot weather? Do you keep any in the fridge?  Do let me know, I always love to hear from you.

lav

Follow

FiFi 2017 Winner: MB Perfumes Black Osmanthus by Marina Barcenilla

MB-Parfums-Perfume-Bottle-F

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.

mb parfums all

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

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

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

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

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

Black+Osmanthus (1)

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

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

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

Further reading  Check out Stephan Matthews excellent review here.

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

Follow

I Scent You a Night: The Fragrance Foundation UK Awards 2017

Ruby, you are not coming.

As you may have gathered, last Thursday  was the UK Fragrance Foundation Annual Awards Night (aka the Fifis) and saw a major gathering of the great and the good in the perfume industry.  By a happy turn of events, I found my little old self there too.

I attended as a guest of the Clive Christian team, which was both an honour and a privilege and I thank them warmly for inviting me.

I hadn’t been sure that attending would even be possible, with the night being on a school night, during term time and in London, around 150 miles from South Wales where Fort Scriven is situated.  After rearranging my family’s lives in order to facilitate my attendance, and a last-minute ear infection at 5.50am from my poorly son who failed to guilt me into cancelling, I was off.

sam frock

I may have mentioned before how kind perfume people are. Their generosity and thoughtfulness is legend, and tonight was no exception. I was invited to join brilliant perfume writer Stephan Matthews and Fifi award winner and perfumer Marina Barcenilla for a meet up and catch up prior to the noise and chaos. This meant I did not have to walk in alone and when we reached the venue and I saw the sheer enormity of the event, I was wholeheartedly grateful to have people to walk in with.

There were proper paparazzi and a big sponsored backdrop for better known people than I to be photographed on.  Red carpet was everywhere- I have some on my stairs at home, but it doesn’t have the same effect and it’s a sod to hoover.   There were sequinned hosts and black tie waiters with champagne holders that could hold about thirty glasses, unlike me.  I only had one  and stuck to soft drinks thereafter.  I had names to remember and an early bus and I could not figure out where my hotel was from a map.   Adding champagne would have been a disaster.  I might still be there now, looking for the exit.

Stephan and Marina are a hoot to hang out with and I was in awe of their knowledge: not just of the industry but of the process and raw materials.  Marina, as you may know, is a talented perfumer and very modest with it.  Plus hilarious and sweary also.

photo by kind permission of Sarah McCartney
photo by kind permission of Sarah McCartney

I had a chance to catch up with the charming Dariusz, aka Persolaise and a met a jolly good looking chap who looked very familiar.  I asked him what he did for a living “I’m a model” replied the charming model Oliver Cheshire.  If I was as good looking as him, I’d be a massive big head, but he wasn’t in the slightest and was delightful.

selfie with stephan and persolaise
L-R, Stephan Matthews, Me, Persolaise.

My chum and fume-idol Sarah McCartney arrived around then: a finalist in two categories for Mother Nature’s Naughty Daughters, and looking splendid in vintage couture, with vintage buttons gleaming like jewels.  We founded a two-strong campaign to restore the evening glove.  Check out our YouTube video above that’s snowballed into double viewing figures.

It was soon time to herd us upstairs to dinner and I was separated from my companions to join my hosts on the Clive Christian table.    My eyes had popped out on stalks when on seeing goody bags on every chair, so I popped them back in and tried to look gracious and not like a goody bag greedy guts.  Which I am.

The Clive Christian table were a truly lovely team of people and I was particularly bowled over to have a chat with Victoria Christian herself who, let me tell you, smelled INCREDIBLE. (She was wearing Clive Christian V and C together).  Luckily, fragrance gatherings are one of the few occasions where you can sniff people you have only just met without getting arrested.  Also on my table, I was delighted to see Jo Fairley of The Perfume Society,  who I hadn’t seen since I attended her workshop  last Saturday.

clive christian colour
Not a bribe- I returned it post-review, like a good egg.

You will hear more from me about Clive Christian throughout the year as there are exciting launches coming up soon, so watch this space.

After being entertained 1950s style by the fabulous Bye Bye Baby- a superb Frankie Valli style singing act, the awards began in earnest. There isn’t room here to list all the winners, so follow this link to Now Smell This,  but we had a lovely compere in the form of Natasha Kaplinksy, who looked great but was too far away to sniff.

sam and marina
Double FiFi Winner, beautiful and talented Marina Barcenilla.

I was disappointed that Sarah McCartney didn’t win, but delighted that Marina Barcenilla won for Black Osmanthus.  Marina and Sarah  are true perfumers who make their own stuff,  source their own materials and get  their hands dirty.  I love perfumers who do that and if it were up to me, I’d create a special category for the dirty hands gang.

From Woman and Home magazine
From Woman and Home magazine

The Fragrance Foundation was celebrating its twenty fifth birthday that night and it was fascinating to watch a showreel of perfume ads over the last 25 years.  How things have changed!  The night was finally over, all bar the dancing, but this tired Cinders could bear no more after a very long day.   Finding the exit was like trying to leave Ikea but I just about made it out of there before I turned into a pumpkin.

Them Fragrance Foundation people sure know how to throw a party.

Goodnight, Nos da, Pyjamas.

Who are you wearing?

Samantha Scriven was dressed by The Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice Charity Shop, Cwmbran and the YMCA Shop Blackwood.  Jewellery by Marks and Spencer from four years ago.   Make up by Avon and Rimmel.   Hair by Salon Scriven and two hotel mirrors.   Scent of the Night was Le Jardin Retrouvé Tuberose Trianon.

jr-tuberose

 

How I Improved My Sense of Smell with The Perfume Society

sam smile

Some blog posts are very hard to write because I’m so afraid I won’t do them justice. This is one of them.  I was on such a high after coming back from the Perfume Society Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshop that I was neither use nor ornament for about 48 hours.

lucky scarf
If ever a scarf were the right scarf for an occasion, it was my perfume scarf. It smells good too!

First of all, The Perfume Society is three years old and is the only body of its type in the world.  They know this because they googled to find a perfume society before realising there wasn’t one. The Perfume Society is the brainchild of legendary beauty editor and writer Jo Fairley and her business partner Lorna McKay.  I have been reading Jo’s work since around 2000 ish,  before blogging was invented and  back when I was a One Scent woman.   10299686_1560529210840279_596234111_a

The workshops are not just exclusive to London, so it really is worth subscribing to The Perfume Society, if only to get access to The Scented Letter and Discovery Box discounts.  The workshop I attended was in the basement of The New Moon Tapas Bar in Clifton.

It was a wonderfully informative, but informal session that made me feel like I was BFFs with everyone around the table, and not just my real life BFF Lisa, who was also there.  Jo is an engaging speaker and delivers the workshop in an accessible and inclusive way that felt like a chat with a friend except with far more “Wow! I never knew that” moments.

You may think that having written 817 blog posts about perfume that I might know a lot.  Well I know about  1% of what I actually want and need to know.   However, you very much do NOT have to be a blogger in order to attend.   For one thing, the amount of experience and knowledge you need to attend the workshop is ZERO.  No experience required.

admin-ajax
My perfect afternoon. Jo Fairley took this so is sadly not in it. Photo courtesy of The Perfume Society.

So, what happens? Well, we were made comfortable with  refreshments and introduced ourselves, which wasn’t cringy like work training, but friendly like meeting your tribe. There were six of us altogether and it was especially lovely to meet Claire, who I have been following on Instagram and talking to on the perfume group Eau my Soul.

Jo explained that part of the mission of The Perfume Society is to put us back in touch with our sense of smell, referred to by Helen Keller as “The Fallen Angel of the Senses” and she was right.   Back when we were cavewomen, we could sniff out herbs, non-toxic berries and woolly mammoths, but now our sense of smell has been blunted by modern conveniences.

The workshop goes about starting us on the path to putting this right.  We did some very interesting sniffing, giving our impressions in an atmosphere in which there was no right or wrong.  There was also a very interesting exercise in which we tried minty Green and Black’s chocolate to see if it was smell or taste that gave us the minty hit.  The answer really surprised me.  Plus, you know, Green and Blacks. *swoon* (something else we have Jo to thank for).

The third section was the bring a bottle party.  Some of it was 80% proof. Yes, I’m talking fragrance.  Prior to attending, we were asked to bring a bottle of our favourite scent.  I had to be very strict with myself and put the wheelbarrow back before leaving the house with just one: Art de Parfum Gin &Tonic.

our selection
Recognise any favourites?

My adorable colleagues, as I now thought of them,  brought a few each, so we had great fun diving on the stuff we hadn’t smelled yet and sharing opinions. On top of that we were given goody bags to take home. Reader, this was better than my birthday.

As if that wasn’t enough fun, we then got the chance to buy Discovery Boxes and the gorgeous Perfume Society Scented Skincare set at big discounts.  As if that wasn’t enough, we then go to visit a brand-new niche perfumery called Shy Mimosa, which I will write about separately, and where we also had a big discount.

aedes de venustes
The tempting shelves at Shy Mimosa

So, was it worth it going?  Did I improve my sense of smell? Yes, and yes and it was wonderful and I had several OMG moments where I made surprising discoveries and oh, my stars, what a day!

If you ever get the chance to attend one, go.  Just go.  They’re not just in London and you don’t need to know anything beforehand. If there’s not one near you, then email The Perfume Society and tell them.   They will listen.  Unless you live alone on a remote island that can only be reached by catamaran at high tide.  Apart from that, if enough people clamour, then you never know…

cocottes

Follow

Exploring a New Perfume House: Gallivant London

london gallivant

It’s a wet spring. Roses from Columbia Rd. Georgian architecture. A hint of dustiness. An earthy lush wetness you can almost taste.

Gallivant is a new niche fragrance brand with a capsule collection of four city inspired scents.  Gallivant is the brainchild of Nick Steward, who is perfectly placed to go solo having been Product and Creative Director at the legendary L’Artisan Parfumeur.  Gallivant aims to embody a sense of adventure and exploration.  Each scent seeks to capture the spirit of the city after which it has been named, and I don’t mean just the pretty touristy bits.  The noses behind the range are Karine Chevallier and Giorgia Navarra.

soho1
Me outside an NCP car park in Soho prior to gallivanting around posh Knightsbridge. A city of contrasts.

Surprisingly, this collection also put me ina position I’d never thought I’d find myself in: I’ve been gallivanting around my home county of Torfaen smelling like Tel Aviv.  Who knew?  Reader, I love it. Today I’m reviewing London. The other three will follow: Istanbul, Brooklyn and Tel Aviv.

Gallivant London

London the fragrance opens with cucumber and roses on my skin.  Don’t be put off by the cucumber- it doesn’t remind me of teenage spot treatment and cleanser in this context.  Gallivant London is Inspired by the flower market of Columbia Road. The rose de mai flourishes from the first spray and sticks around throughout. Touches of leather come through- funnily enough, a smell I often associate with London, especially the market on Petticoat Lane.

columbia

This leathery rose pretty much stays as a leathery rose, but the cucumber melts away, having made its introduction.  Enter stage left a pleasant earthy woodiness in the form of patchouli, cedar and sandalwood. That rose never waivers though, which gives this a pleasing juxtaposition of male and female, soft and hard, gentle and tough. In other words, a perfect capture of this eclectic and multi faceted city.

banksy
Poodle Guard Dog by Banksy, from visitlondon.com

Stockists

London is available from the Gallivant website and in the USA, from Luckyscent.  My samples were very kindly sent to me by Gallivant, for which, many thanks. Opinions are my own.

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

stash-ad

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

withlove

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

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

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

stasg long ad

  1.  Sarah Jessica Parker Stash SJP

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

lovely

  1.  Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely

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

jloglow

  1.   JLo Glow

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

curious_britney_competition

  1.  Britney Spears Curious

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

rihanna3

  1.  Rihanna Rogue

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

reblfleur

  1.  Rihanna Reb’l Fleur

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

sensational

  1.  Celine Dion Sensational

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

liz t

  1. Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds

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

adam levine

9.  Adam Levine For Her

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

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

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

jlopez_deseo-perfumeThe ones I miss

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

celeb discont

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.

Follow

Our Modern Lives by 4160 Tuesdays: And…Breeeaaaaaathe

 

stressful-jobs (1)
Image from www.smartmeetings.com

Off the top of your head, how many pin numbers do you need to remember? How many passwords and usernames? How many social media accounts do you have? How many text messages do you need to respond to? How many emails remain unanswered?

omlThe digital age has done us all huge favours, such as Netflix and Facebook.  But there’s a downside isn’t there? The digital age is both a privilege and a curse.

The cost of living has rocketed, house prices have gone insane, roads are congested, everything is conducted via a screen and more seems to be expected of us these days.  Our modern lives are tough.  No wonder relaxing has become a life skill that many have forgotten.

Which brings me nicely to the new range of fragrances from Sarah McCartney at 4160 Tuesdays.  Yes, that introduction was a bit of a transition, but if you nodded even once,  then you’ll know where she was coming from with this collection: “Our Modern Lives.”

Alongside creating perfumes (usually on Tuesdays, hence the name), Sarah is also a yoga teacher.   She knows how to stop the white noise.

oml samples

Our Modern Lives is intended as a soothing balm to your soul. There’s a scent for when you need to look away from the damn screen (after you’ve read my blog, of course) and scents that uplift, energise and revitalize, without you having to go to a spa or anything.  I would call them Mood Scents.

Here are my impressions of them, and at the end I’ll tell where you can get hold of them. They’re not expensive either.  By the way, you can mix them all up if you like and make your own blend.

The synthetics

OML a

Butch and woody are two words that I would use to describe this, but they would also make good names for a duo of male strippers. The woods are dark and rich with lots of amber.  It might be Butch and Woody (hi guys!) but it is, like all scent in my opinion, unisex, as are all of these fragrances

OML β

Tricky to type, but gorgeous to sniff.  This starts off with a crystalline vodka scent and smells as pure as an icicle.  It reminded me a little of Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Celestia, so if you like that, you might like this too.

oml my samples

The Naturals

Creating scent out of solely natural ingredients post IFRA bans and regulations  is a bit like riding a unicycle whilst crossing the road, knitting and saying your five times table.  But that’s not your problem to worry about.  When you feel like screens are sucking your eyeballs out of your face, switch them off and sniff these.

Red-Harvest- Gratitude

This is beautiful. There are red berries and raspberries and roses. Rather than being like candy, it reminded me of my childhood and of cherries.  It may give you different emotions and memories, but I am sure it will evoke happy thoughts.

orange sunset bbc
BBC

Orange-Sunset-peace

Of course, there’s going to be orange in this, and there is, but there are also neroli (steam distilled orange blossom), peaches and a hint of beautiful geranium. This may be my favourite.

photo by RHS.org
photo by RHS.org

Yellow-Sunrise-Hope

This gave me a boost of feel good citrus, like freshly squeezed orange juice,  but  also something else that I couldn’t initially put my finger on. Then it hit me: what goes with fresh orange juice?  Fresh coffee! Genius. I can smell the narcissus in this one too, giving you a little posy of flowers to go with your juice and coffee.

orieldavies
Oriel Davies Gallery

Green- Leaf-New

As you may know, green is my favourite genre so I was bound to love this one, and I do. It’s so green it’s even got spinach in it, not that I could smell it, unless you count the sort of lush damp vegetal scent that hovered in the background. This has lime and mint and green mandarin essential oil.  Do you know what? After ten minutes, I could smell spinach. This is beautiful and foresty. The Popeye muscles are up to you.

Aquamarine-Waves/Wi-Fi-Clarity

mermaid redYou may recall my recent gushing reviews about Aquamarine Waves. It’s working nick name was Sea Goddess prior to its launch.

This is a marine scent with no cucumber  and melon accord- that would be too easy and lots of people have aloready done that.  Not here, no Sir.  Sarah used seaweed to get this right.   She did  filter it out afterwards, you’ll be pleased to know.

Blue Screen/Blue Horizon- Perspective

Equally good on skin or in the air around you, this is designed to aid meditation.  We spend too long on screens, and it’s not always our fault in a digital dependent society.  Many people use screens for their work and that goes round the clock now.  This beautiful scent helps you to look up and see the blue of the sky instead of the screen. Frankincense, lavender, vetiver, mint and eucalyptus all help to transport you somewhere else for a bit.

Indigo-Into the Night

Moon Set by Nancy Brace
Moon Set by Nancy Brace

This is the strongest and richest in the collection. Indigo has definite 4160 Tuesdays fingerprints over it. This is the smell of that 3 a.m. Cognac when you can’t sleep- yes, there’s cognac in it but please don’t drink it, no matter how good the party was. There’s something dark and slightly rubbery about this one. It reminds me of cannabis and vinyl records.  No bad thing. There’s also osmanthus absolute, cedarwood, rum and leathery labdanum.

It’s a mood in a bottle: after all, 3 a.m. is often called the darkest hour of the soul.

Stockists

This is a crowd funding project and it’s still possible to bag your swag by following this link. Personally, I reckon they should come in phials like a pencil case so you have a colour for every mood. It would be hard to stop at one. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have mood swings, mood slides and a mood roundabout in your head.  My samples were kindly sent to me by Team Tuesdays and Sarah, for which, many thanks.  Opinions are all my own.

Follow

Fantastically Foxy: Foxy by DSH Perfumes

foxy pic

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.

mr fox original
The original book I grew up with

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.

tygertale
Photo from tygertale.com

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.

foxy samples

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.

Stockists

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.

Follow

Miller Harris Le Petit Grain: Welcome Spring!

petitgrain

The weather has been warm for a total of more than a day here in Wales and we have declared it Spring.   Sartorially, Spring is always a problem. You can’t wear sandals with a trench coat but is two cardigans overdoing it?  We don’t know.  Scent-wise, it’s much easier. Warm weather means break out the citruses (like I needed an excuse).

lepg sampleStill smarting from the disappointment that Miller Harris Le Pamplemousse has been tragically discontinued, I managed to dry my eyes and give a wobbly sniffle when I tried Le Petit Grain. What do you know? In researchiong for this post, I find that Le Petit Grain is discontinued too!  You can still buy it, but there won’t be any more by the look of things.

Bah. I’m going to review it anyway.

Petit grain is a bitter green flowery note extracted from the leaves and the unripe twigs of an orange tree. It’s not as sweet as blossom, nor quite as sour as pith, but if you want zingy, stop here and buy one.

Le Petit Grain bowls you over with every citrus it can throw at you. However, this simply gives me my Julie Andrews moment. I want to open the window and sing to the cartoon bluebirds when I wear this. There’s lavender, which offers a lovely clean feel and a nod in the direction of classic gentleman’s cologne.  Herby notes include tarragon and rosemary  which add a touch of English Country Garden.  The base notes are oak moss, vetiver and patchouli, just missing the chypre genre by a whisker.  This is sharp, herby and grassy by turns and I love it.

Photo by Brambleberry.com
Photo by Brambleberry.com

Miller Harris Le Petit Grain is a beautiful scent for summer, spring, or anytime you feel like an inner boost.  It feels like therapy to wear it and fills me with optimism. I love it when that happens.

Stockists

Miller Harris Le Petit Grain is available from Amazon UK and escentual.com and TK Maxx if you’re lucky.   My sample is from my own collection and opinions are my own.

Follow