Category Archives: Fragrance for Spring

Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey: The Nineties Never Went Away

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Where the Eighties were all about the size of your phone (big), your hairstyle (big), your shoulder pads (big) and your perfume (gigantic), the Nineties became the decade of anti fashion and everyone calmed down a bit.  After the brash gilt of the opulent ”Greed is Good” Eighties, the vibe was suddenly less is more and the Nineties became the caring, sharing Nineties where we started to look worried about leaving all the lights on the Eighties.

Suddenly it was all about Britpop, The Spice Girls, Meg Ryan rom-coms, pinafore dresses,  Princess Di’s divorce, boybands with “curtain” fringes, blazers over bras , Friends, and the Rachel Cut.

crossroadstrading.com
crossroadstrading.com

Whilst many Nineties fashions faded away into history, Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey stood strong among the rubble and remained a runaway bestseller throughout the Nineties, the Noughties and the Twenteens (I made up that last word, but you can borrow it. What else are we going to call them?)

dianaWhere the Eighties were all about Poisons and Obsessions, the fragrance of the Nineties was a gentle “eau”.

Created in 1992 by the same Japanese designer who kept Steve Jobs in trademark black turtlenecks, Issey Miyake’s L’Eau D’Issey  was an immediate bestseller and still is.  I remember it coating many a dear friend of mine in the mid nineties and just smelling it now takes me back to those turbulent years in my mid twenties.

Top notes are (with thanks to Fragrantica): Cyclamen, Freesia, Roses, Melon and Lotus

Middle notes: Carnation, Lily, Lily of the Valley and Water Peony

Basenotes: Woods, Tuberose, Amber, Sandalwood, Musk, Osmanthus and Cedar

spice girlsIf by some tiny chance you have never smelled this ubiquitous Top Ten scent, I can safely say that many of the floral notes are either not there or drowned out by the aquatic/ozonic/melon accord. This is primarily melon/calone and the flowers listed are a pretty chorus, but by no means do they take centre stage.  I would also say that the base notes described would give an impression of a much woodier musk scent, which this is not.

Having said all that, this is certainly pretty and light, as was its intention, and it also heralded a genre that hasn’t gone away: Clean.

Clean, Laundry Fresh and Fresh Cotton and Fresh Linen and ooh, everything that makes you smell as if you’ve just come in from being hung on the washing line to dry in a gentle breeze. I don’t hate this trend, and sometimes I want that Linen Fresh thing going on, but in general, I want my perfume to be more challenging and interesting than just “cleanangel flash” (especially when the opposite can be such fun! I’m talking to you Bal a Versailles, you filthy madam!).

L’Eau D’Issey almost became a victim of its success in so far as it was everywhere. Having said that, I’d rather smell this than its ubiquitous contemporary Thierry Mugler Angel, which is the same age and couldn’t be more different.

1990s modelsWhilst fragrance trends come and go (some a bit slower to “go” than others), there must be a reason why L’Eau D’Issey has stayed steadfast.

Personally, Calone has never been my cup of Earl Grey, but putting aside my subjectiveness for a moment, this is a brilliantly done scent and has stayed at the top of its game for over two decades.  This is no mean feat when you think how many perfumes are discontinued on a yearly basis.

My theory is that in all the stress and chaos and busy-ness of modern life,  some people need and want a drop of something pure to gently bring them back to earth again.  And who can blame them? L’Eau D’Issey does that very job and does it brilliantly.

Stockists

Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey is widely available. Try allbeauty.com

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This Week’s Latest Avon Release: Avon Femme

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There’s an air of mystery in this week’s Avon brochure.  There is a full page advert for a forthcoming perfume with a little silhouette and  a call to “ask your representative for a sample today!”. Well my Avon lady, the lovely Jill, didn’t need to be asked and I had my sample with today’s order.

Top notes are: Lemon, Plum and Violet.

Middle notes: Jasmine, Orchid and Magnolia

Base notes: Amber, Peach, Wood, and Musk. (Thank you Fragrantica)

Avon Femme opens with bold Magnolia and Plum and wouldn’t smell out of place alongside many other shimmering treats on any beauty counter today. It reminded me of both Next Just Pink and Ralph Lauren Romance (another smellalike! It’s hard to stop seeing them once you start looking). One reviewer on Fragrantica compared it to Versace Bright Crystal and I will take their word for it since I am not familiar with many Versaces (yet).

versace bright crystalHowever, and herein lies the rub, as is the case so often with Avon, the basenotes go all Avon-ade on me.  You know how Guerlain perfumes have the Guerlainade accord?  Well the Avonade is always there too, except unlike Guerlain, it’s not very good.  So many Avon perfumes have been ordered by me. So many times my hopes have been raised and dashed. So many of them have ended with the Avonade base which smells like a cross between sweet plastic and cardboard. Sadly, Femme is no exception. One reason for this may be because Avon is are churning out new fragrances at a rate of knots, hence the sarcastic title of this article. In the last two months Avon has launched Instinct, Ultra Sexy, Our Story, Avon True Life, and now Femme.

rockrollstar.blogspot.com
rockrollstar.blogspot.com

Another reason could be that their low prices means that they compromise on good ingredients.  This shouldn’t be the case when Coty can churn out the excellent Coty L’Aimant for just over a fiver.  Perfume can be done cheaply and well. Sadly Avon seems to be  just doing it cheaply.

Avon never used to be like this.  They had a great stable of reliable perfumes that were ordered again and again by loyal fans. Foxfire, Topaze, Odyssey and Charisma were just some of my favourites. We could even talk about the delightful bottles which are now collectibles on eBay. (I had a beautiful glass and gold giraffe with Occur in it!)

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www.popscreen.com

Wouldn’t it be better if Avon brought back some of their heritage perfumes and made their stable of scents better quality, and with fewer of them?  I feel that we customers are being labelled as having very short attention spans, when most people find something they love and become loyal, if not monogamous, for life.

The only Avon scents I can think of that do not have the Avon accord/Avonade are Soft Musk (which I can’t wear because my mother and my sister wear it) and Rare Diamonds.  The celebrity scents also seem to sidestep the Avonade too, so they’re a safe bet, especially the LaCroix range. Quality not quantity Avon!

I guess I’m saying make me President of Avon Fragrance. Not much to ask. You will find me in the Avon archives for most of the week. Lots of freebies to take home and test.  I can start Monday.

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Marks and Spencer Limited Collection: Butterfly

 

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The Marks and Spencer fragrance department is a bit of a favourite stop off when I’m in town.  Sadly my local branch doesn’t carry the full gamut, but I often feel able to  buy myself a purse spray guilt free, especially when they have 20% off like they did yesterday.  Whilst not all of them are great, I can’t call any of them bad, except Florentyna *shudder*, which I can’t be cruel about since it has a steady and loyal fanbase.  For the prices I have paid, I have never been disappointed by a Marks and Spencer perfume.  Overall, they are decent affordable quality.

Today I am reviewing Limited Collection Butterfly, which comes in a pretty bottle and is an unmistakable homage to Marc Jacobs and his Dots and Daisies.

Fresh and light, this makes an ideal scent for a teenager, or for office day wear.  In other words, it’s more shower fresh than provocative or come hither.

Surprisingly, this opens with cucumber.  The surprise here is that usually I can’t bear cucumber in perfume, but this is combined with lemon, grapefruit and apple and smells wonderfully citrussy.  There are many comparisons with the more expensive DKNY Be Delicious, which also opens with lemons and cucumber, and has identical floral notes.

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www.fragrantica.com

However, just before it comes too “herbal facial wash”, the flowers step in, and some of my favourites too: rose, violet and magnolia.  The magnolia was particularly noticeable.  The base notes are nothing to email home about: amber and musk, and not particularly robust at that.  In fact I would say the base is more violet, citrus and magnolia than anything else.

Longevity is not bad at around four or five hours, and by not bad, I mean that this cost me £2.80 for a 10ml purse spray yesterday, so I’m not going to complain about longevity for that price.

All in all, this is a good buy that I would recommend for young girls testing the path into fragrance, or for day to day wear where sexy isn’t an option. It’s fresh and pretty and will cut through the heat on a muggy day,  if we can remember that far back. I am looking though a rain washed window at a grey rain washed sky as I write this, so we will just have to use our imagination.

www.walesonline.co.uk
www.walesonline.co.uk

Chanel No 5 Eau Premiere: Ta dah!

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You may recall my earlier review of Chanel no 5.  It’s not a favourite, but I understand and admire it.  However, Chanel no 5 Eau Premiere is a different story.

Still faithful to and recognisable as Chanel No 5, Eau Premiere is lighter, and to me, more wearable.

Eau Premiere still has the Aldehydes and the powdery notes of its sister, but the heavy Iris has gone, and the Ambery base.  As a fan of Green chypres, this is more my style. It smells reassuringly expensive too, but whereas a bottle of Chanel No 5 would gather dust on my (overcrowded) dressing table, Eau Premiere would soon run dry.

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www.luxury-insider.com

In many ways, it reminds me of First by Van Cleef and Arpels.  It almost smells too brisk and soapy on first application.  However, on warm skin, on a cold day, both First and Eau Premiere seem to bloom and grow as your day progresses. It smells more floral too: the Neroli, Rose and Jasmine radiate proudly, but do not dominate.

The base is warmer with a hint of dusty Sandalwood and a rasp of Vetiver. Longevity is excellent at around eight or nine hours.  I wouldn’t be tempted to top up in the middle of the day as I enjoy the milder middle and base too much.

This is a more palatable version of No 5 seemingly made for people like me who struggle with the thickness and creaminess of the original. Despite being a lighter version, there is no compromise on quality or sillage. This has not been simply watered down or made into cologne.  Eau Premiere can stand alone as a superb perfume in its own right.

Green, chypre, powdery, light and thoroughly adorable.  Thank you and Bravo to  legendary Nose Jacques Polge.

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Chloe Narcisse: Busy As A Bee

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I have happy memories of Chloe Narcisse. It was created in 1992 and I remember coming back from my local House of Fraser with a bottle of it in a little beribboned gift bag. For about two months I smelled of this every day before ending my fling and returning to my old faithful Chanel Cristalle. It was great whilst it lasted and we had some good times.

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www.discoverlife.org

However, I tried it again more recently and I’m on the fence about it.  It has too many yellow flowers and honeyed sweetness for my taste these days, but it’s not unpleasant, it’s a bestseller, it’s good quality and very cheap (around 10GBP for 30ml).

The opening notes are bright and sillage can fill a room.  Sticky Marigold, yellow Narcissus , Sweet orange blossom and even  sweeter peaches.  The problem here is that my dislike of peaches means I can pick out the slightest hint from a mile off and this is a turn off alongside other sweet flowers.

The middle is equally sweet and reminds me of a very hot day: so sunny you can’t move for the heat, and a loud buzzing of bees in the overwhelmingly overstuffed flower beds. It’s all a little too much. Thankfully the pineapple that’s alleged to be present is not present, at least to my nose.  Many a pineapple has ruined a perfume for me. They are strictly for eating only.narcisse ad

The base is a little calmer, with surprisingly, Tolu balsam as a base note. There is a little spice and sandalwood and I think I prefer the base notes to the rest of it.  It’s like the smell that lingers after the overly lavish bouquet has been taken out of the room.  A faint trace that flowers were here once, but what remains is much more palatable.

I bought a bottle of this last year and had such mixed feelings about  it that I ended up selling it on eBay.  I can’t hate it, it gives me happy memories and I love the little green metallic neck on the bottle, but try as I might, my nose has changed too much to still be that 22 year old with the little gift bag and the free body lotion.

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CB I Hate Perfume: Winter 1972

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CB I Hate Perfume was founded by Christopher Brosius, a former taxi driver who rebelled against the suffocating scents that filled his cab. It’s great news for us that he felt that way because CB I Hate Perfume is a unique brand that breaks the mould.

His scents are more about capturing a memory or a mood in a bottle, rather than having the singular aim of making you smell pretty.  Such a concept is refreshing and I look forward trying more.

CB I hate Perfume Winter 1972 is a delightful scent that immediately evoked a very visual memory.  It is, to me at least, the smell of lying in a cosy bed next to a damp, rather mildewy window on a cold night. I love perfumes that take to me to a place or a moment, and they have a definite role to play, in the same vein as Demeter’s scents of realism.

The notes in Winter 1972 are simple: soil, wood and sea.  The soil tincture is certainly the most dominant, with it’s earthy slightly “off” smell which combines beautifully with the Wood and the Sea.  It reminds me of wet bracken on a damp winter walk.

 CB I Hate Perfume also provides samples at 3GBP each, which is another quality that endears them to me.  Often large bottles are too expensive to take a blind buy gamble with, so I always like it when niche brands offer this service.

CB I Hate Perfume Winter 1972 is available from the UK Cult Beauty website or from the CB IHatePerfume website if you are in the US.

Avon Pur Blanca: When Pure and Clean is Needed

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 Avon Pur Blanca is one of the few Avon scents that doesn’t end up smelling samey in the basenote phase.  Having tried many Avon fragrances in the past, I can honestly say that this is a common fault. There are exceptions, and I have bought many bottles blind trying to find them.

Pur Blanca is the kind of scent you get when you’ve just got out of the shower, washed your hair and applied a touch of baby lotion. It is the smell of pure white soap and freshly shampooed hair.  It reminded me a little of J-Lo Glow, another clean soapy scent.

Pur Blanca is currently 7GBP a bottle and shows no signs of slowing down, so I wouldn’t panic about the Avon of habit of discontinuing the good stuff just yet.

The strongest notes in Pur Blanca are Musk and Peony: always well behaved and respectable. There is a touch of Freesia, keeping it pretty, and even a faint hint of Sandalwood to warm the base up.  You could wear it to meet prospective in-laws without causing offence.  In fact, inoffensive is the word here.  It’s suitable for office wear, church, and PTA meetings.  It’s not sexy, it’s perfectly wearable and the worst accusation I can throw at it is that it is safe. But sometimes safe is required, and this serves its purpose nicely.

I don’t think it smells expensive, and the ingredients are a little synthetic smelling- another frequent Avon characteristic- but when you are producing scents to a low budget market, it’s an occupational hazard.

All in all, not a bad use of seven quid.

Guerlain Chamade: When Retro Glamour Is Required

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Guerlain Chamade is like a trip back into the early seventies.  I don’t mean the flares and the joss sticks but a time when ladies wore suits and court shoes just to go to town. Created in 1969, this green spiky aldehyde is a beautiful tribute to all that is ladylike and harks back to a time when everyone said “Good Morning” and “How do you do?”

Opening with the green and musky notes of the dominant Galbanum, as if to say “Don’t mess with me”, it then beds down and shows its feminine side with Lilac and Hyacinth showing a flash of finely turned ankle.

The aldehydes provide a clean, soapy background against which the prickly notes of Vetiver, Balsam and medicinal Benzoin shine through boldly as the longlasting basenotes make their presence felt.

Chamade was named after the drumbeat of retreat during Napoleonic times and is meant to represent the beating of a heart in love.  Even the bottle looks like a teardrop.  It is out of step with today’s brash modernity, but this to me, is all the more reason to wear it. I feel sure that the existence of Chamade went on to influence many 70s drugstore classics: all those greeny, raspy chypres that smell so classic now but were everywhere way back when.

It’s a grown up perfume that I would love to smell on more people today.  It reminds me of an elegant women with a green, tweed suit, a brooch, and a smart leather handbag, off to town to run errands on a pleasant day when the sun didn’t go down without asking permission first.

Stockists

You can buy Chamade from Amazon UK, although the EDP is harder to find than the EDT.

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