Category Archives: gourmand perfume

The Perfume Society Velvet Discovery Box: My review

Perfume, beauty products and chocolate in the same box? Is it my birthday already? In the words of Maria von Trapp, these are a few of my favourite things.

The Perfume Society Velvet Discovery Box contains the following items, although I must apologise for the speed at which I went through the Green & Blacks. I don’t even have the wrapper any more. A mouse in a cattery stood a better chance of survival.

Here’s a list of what’s in it, and my verdict on each item.

Atkinsons Pirates Grand Reserve 1.2ml eau de parfum (full size £120 for 100ml)

First impressions: sticky wooden aromatic barrels. This is an interesting take on the gourmand woody genre. The wood smells like it once had brandy in it, or maybe the Pirate in the title is making me think of that? In any case, this has hints of exotic spices, chocolate, rich dark vanilla and patchouli. It has a wonderfully cosy wintery vibe going on, and those woods are addictive! Bravo.

Floral Street Chypre Sublime 1.5ml eau de parfum (full size £55 for 50ml)

This stunning chypre is my cup of tea. It opens as a spring floral with notes of violet and rose, before succumbing to the peppery charms of big geranium blooms. It has that earthy, green accord I always seek from my chypres, whilst some big bold floral notes.  This is a new perfume house that has just opened a boutique in Covent Garden (Guess what street it’s on?). If they keep this up, they’re going to be a roaring success.

Connock Andiroba Eau de Parfum 1.5ml eau de parfum (full size £75 for 100ml)

This beauty from young fragrance house Connock, opens with green tea like notes, but is actually bergamot and lemon. It’s a very clean scent and smells almost therapeutic.  After a few minutes, there are faint hints of my favourite flower- violet. I’d like them to have been a bit stronger if I’m honest, but that’s just me. Andiroba actually stays fairly linear. The opening notes don’t really leave, they just invite more people to the party. The lasting base note is pretty much the same as the opening note, but it’s so invigoratingly good that I don’t call that a criticism.

Avery ‘E’ 4ml pure perfume (full size £90 for 30ml)

My absolute favourite. It took me a long time to appreciate iris, and now I see it as a dove grey suede background. The iris in Avery “E” exudes class and this stunning fragrance reminded me of the glorious Annick Goutal Tenue de Soiree. It also kind of smells like a brand-new car interior, but don’t ask me why. This is full bottle territory.

Lalique Rêve d’Infini 1.8ml eau de parfum (full size £72 for 100ml)

Trusty Lalique has yet to make a fragrance that I dislike, and this is no exception. I can’t put my finger on why I love this brand so much, but maybe it’s because every fragrance makes an impact but is never heavy. Reve D’infini has this beautiful, almost ethereal lightness. Opening with two of my favourites, bergamot and freesia, this is light as chiffon. A touch of lychee seems to go perfectly with the freesia. The base is vanilla, musk and sandalwood, but to my nose, this never got rich, just a slightly warmer, more huggable version of the opening.  The word I’m looking for is diaphanous!

Map of the Heart Gold Heart v.4 1ml eau de parfum (full size £150 for 90ml)

Map of the heart is an Australian fragrance house whose trademark is putting sandalwood notes in every single perfume it produces.  This is no bad thins at all in my book, as I’m a huge sandalwood fan. I find it very clever how Map of the Heart fragrances are easily identifiable, yet so different from each other.  Gold Heart v4. is all about warm gourmand spices such as cardamom and saffron. It never quite goes into spicy food territory, more like aromatic woods. It’s a wonderful fragrance from a new house that is continually impressing me. Lasting power is excellent, and it will smell great on men or women.

Ruth Mastenbroek Firedance 2ml eau de parfum (full size £90 for 50ml)

Ruth Mastenbroek only produces one new scent every few years, but they are worth waiting for. Firedance is a celebratory perfume, heady with smoky roses, oud and leather.  You can read my review here. What can I say? I’m a fan. Also, I’ve met Ruth a few times now and she is gracious, warm and very elegant.

Vince Camuto Amore 7.5ml MINIATURE eau de parfum (full size £60 for 100ml)

The cutest mini bottle ever containing a light anf fruity fragrance that’s impossibly feminine. It opens with blackcurrants, lime and passion fruit, and takes those light as air notes and blends them with lily of the valley, freesia and lotus flower. If you like slightly aquatic hesperide florals, this is right up your street. Such a pretty fragrance.

Valeur Absolue Rouge Passion 1.5ml eau de parfum (full size £59 for 45ml)

The full bottle claims to have real garnets in it, which I will remain open minded about.  The sample I have here is a beautiful soapy floral. It opens with bergamot and white flowers, has touches of my favourite Lily of the Valley, and beds down into a warm vanilla patchouli base with a dominant white musk finish. The vanilla patchouli base is being done a lot lately, but this one is different. It radiates from my skin with the white flowers still present, making this a very ladylike fragrance that makes an ideal evening scent. I love the soapy nuances and the white flowers, so this is a winner for me.

philosophy purity made simple 3-in-1 cleanser for face and eyes 30ml lotion (full size £19 for 240ml)

Takes your make up off and leaves skin smooth and doesn’t make your eyes water like other cleansers I’ve used. This is a cute little bottle that would be ideal for a weekend away or a holiday. It’s a great way of seeing if you want to buy a big gone.

Cochine White Jasmine & Gardenia Hand Cream 5ml (full size £24 for 100ml)

A stunning white floral fragrance that lingers for along time after you’ve finished applying.  This really is a tiny little tube- you might get three or four applications from it if you’re not over generous. However, the stunning scent filled the room and made me want more. Cochine is a luxury Vietnamese fragrance house, by the way, and you don’t get many of those to the kilo!

Green and Black’s Velvet Edition Orange and Almond Dark.

There’s a way of eating this that helps you understand your sense of smell and taste more. It blew my mind when I tried it at The Perfume Society Improve Your sense of Smell Workshop. You hold your nose, eat the chocolate until it’s mushy, then release your nose. The impact of the flavour is like a punch (but doesn’t hurt). It makes you realise how closely taste and smell are interlinked. It also works with Green and Black’s Mint chocolate. And in fact, the Green and Black’s selection box I had for Christmas was of course, purely for experimental research and that is why it was gone so quickly.

Over to You

Have you tried this Discovery Box? Have you ever tried a random fragrance from a Discovery Box that has ended up being your favourite?

Stockists

You can buy the Velvet Discovery Box from the Perfume Society website. Subscribers get big discounts too. Warm thanks to The Perfume Society for supplying my box with no conditions attached.  This is not a sponsored post and opinions are my own/

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4160 Tuesdays: Three Newbies for 2018

actual poster at the 4160 Tuesdays studio

On my recent trip to the 4160 Tuesdays Mothership in London, I was privileged to sample the new stuff that’s a -brewing for 2018. You may have tried them already, but in case you haven’t and you’re curious, here are my thoughts on Eat Flowers, Amberama and Amber Mambo.  SPOILER ALERT  I love them.

Eat Flowers

Fig one: actual poster at the 4160 Tuesdays studio

Eat Flowers is, as the name would suggest, unapologetically floral.  However, floral is a very wide spectrum so I could be blathering on about anything. I’ll narrow it down. Eat Flowers has a retro vibe in a Biba sort of way, or maybe that’s me thinking of the poster that inspired it? (see fig one). It’s dusty and pretty, like pot pourri, but still with moisture in the petals . I sniffed iris, possibly violets and basil in there too, along with faint nuances of rose.  By rose, I mean the old fashioned faded pink roses from a tablecloth. It’s feminine in a terribly proper way, and smells as if it would make a terrific soap and candles.  My son says it reminded him of Autumn, but to me, it’s bedtime in Spring, with a powdery warmth, like brushed cotton pyjamas. It has a delightful retro feel. It’s pre-digital age. It’s from back when we wore dresses and read books and had bubble baths. In case you’re not into iris- this one’s safe.  It has smooth classy touches of it but won’t overwhelm.

retrosweets.co.uk

Amber Mambo

My son’s very first unedited impression? “lemon fudge.” He’s not wrong. Nobody’s impressions of a scent are ever wrong.  In fact to my nose, the citrus and  warm amber combo gives this a hint of the cola cube.  Remember them? 20p a quarter from the sweet shop? (Yes, kids, I’m nearly 50). Amber Mambo is a wonderful coca cola sort of scent and has a spicy fizz in its heart.  It reminded me of the wonderful Mrs Gloss’s Lemon Sherbet, but this has more heat and  is more golden. To me, this is pure, welcome, idyllic nostalgia. Bring on those cola cubes!

from BestPartyEver.com

Amberama

Now this one has sandalwood, amber and citrus, and if I’m not mistaken, a welcome flash of rose like a bowl of Turkish delight in a wood panelled study. It has a cheerful fruitiness about it that gives it a modern, playful finish, as if bringing a bunch of pink balloons into a dusky gentleman’s club and blowing raspberries. Just a minute- raspberries! That’s the fruit that’s in here. Yummy, delicious, tart/sweet raspberries. Glorious! Raspberries, amber and sandalwood. Irresistible. PS If you like Eau My Soul and  fancy a  a fruited up version, then this one’ll do nicely.

Stockists

You can buy all of these from the 4160 Tuesdays website.  They are currently limited stock, but if there’s a clamour, more will get made.  With warmest thanks to Sarah McCartney for giving me an early preview.

This is actually what Sarah looks like when at work. She didn’t know I was taking this.

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How my Perfume Dreams came True: A Chypre Workshop at 4160 Tuesdays

Sarah McCartney, Goddess of Love and Perfume.

I’m among friends here, aren’t I? So you’ll all understand how much of a big deal being let loose in a perfume lab with a pipette was for me last Saturday.

Yes, my scented chums, a little dream of mine came true when I attended the 4160 Chypre Workshop and made my own chypre.

With perfume being My Thing, and chypres being My Favourite Genre, it was pretty much an all-my-birthdays-are-happening-at-once sort of day.

So what goes on at a chypre workshop?

Sniffing

There were around six of us and the workshop took place upstairs at the 4160 Tuesdays studio in London. We were greeted with tea, coffee and goodies, and were allowed to fiddle about with the many 4160 Tuesdays purse sprays that were lying around. That would have kept me happy all day, but it was about to get even better.

We are ready.

We went upstairs to the studio and sat around the Big Table, whilst trying not to be distracted by The Wall of Scent: a cabinet full of vintage and modern scents. Some are  classics and some are just plain nigh on impossible to find.  I had to turn away or I wouldn’t have got anything done.

First of all, Sarah doesn’t so much teach, as blow your mind.  I won’t put spoilers in, but just for starters there’s a theory behind the disappearance of the Marie Celeste that may be related to something we handled at the workshop. There’s also a shocking list of chemicals that will make you think twice about natural ingredients.  NB I contain zinc, hydrogen dioxide and potassium, but you should see what’s in a kiwi fruit!

This is my “doing maths” face.

Learning

Random facts:

  • Some ingredients cost more than a kilo of gold bullion and tiaras.

  • There are Mysore sandalwood trees that have armed guards 24/7.

  • What I learned about the history of “powdery notes” very nearly put me off “powdery notes.”

  • Cocoa absolute smells and looks like Marmite, until you do stuff with it.

  • Orris butter will blow your mind in the same way wasabi paste once blew my head off.

    Making notes

The first thing we did was smell sniffing strips. As a perfume blogger of over five years standing, this was a new experience in that there were many ingredients I had never smelled on their own. For example, galbanum, used so beautifully in Chanel Cristalle, smelled much grassier and earthier than I imagined. ISO E Super on its own smelled faint and vaguely ozonic, but lined up alongside say, iris or veramoss (oakmoss substitute) and it emphasises the strength of its surrounding ingredients and brought out the best in them like a great backing singer.

Although my brain didn’t want to leave the studio, my stomach had other ideas and so we all crossed the road and had lunch together.

Eating

Despite having unbridled access to granola flapjacks and chocolate cookies, we headed to the divine Paolo’s Café on Vale Road for our lunch. The hardest part was choosing from the delicious brunch menu, and the easiest part was guzzling the delicious chips. there was a brief sleepy time period which my brain had to fight, but I put that down to an early Welsh start.  Paolo’s Cafe is worth the trip, trust me.

Making Your Own Perfume

The afternoon session was where we made our own perfume. Several things shocked me about this.

  • The lack of uptightness from Sarah when she let six fume heads loose on several jars of the good stuff without saying “Get off my things” as I probably would have.  In fact, she was highly encouraging and happy to get stuff out of the cupboard on request.
  • Making perfume involves a great deal of trying different combinations of fragrance together.

In case this sounds like stating the bleedin obvious, I’ll explain what this meant to me: I had a preconceived notion of all the perfume ingredients I would use in my dream perfume. When I tried this on sniffing strips, they didn’t “agree” with each other, much to my surprise. So the iris and galbanum that I had initially planned to include, stayed in the bottle since they didn’t get on, at least not on the day they met.  I also loved the Jasmine on the smelling strip, but again, it didn’t play nice with its new friends so it had to go. Along with all my preconceptions of how easy making perfume looks

  • .There’s an awful lot of maths and a bit of chemistry. I needed help from the teacher with the maths as I’d been up since 5 am. Luckily the teacher was very nice about it.
  • You start by making a “mod” in a little bottle. Once you’ve chosen your smelling strips and they smell like they all get on okay, you drop tiny drops of actual ingredients into your mod jar to see if they get on in person, as it were. Mine didn’t make enough noise, so I cranked up the Ambroxan and the violet and  added some stuff  from a new jar I came across called Karmawood. Thus Mod 2 was created.
  •  Lisa and I were both shocked that our bottles were topped up with the good stuff.  We had both thought that our mods would be added to some kind of suspension agent, but that wasn’t the case. The big pipettes came out and six of us went away with a combined total 300ml of very, very good ingredients between us. There’s no diluting. We used the proper big jars and filled our bottles to the brim.

It is worth noting however, that the ingredients we used were not 100% strength, as I am reliably informed that that would knock you out cold.  For perspective, a 5% rose is very, very strong. These are the jars that we used to fill our bottles.

  • Here’s the maths. You  divide the number of ingredients and proportion of those ingredients into 50ml so you can fill your bottle. Thus: You have say, five ingredients and you want double karmawood and violet, but single doses of everything else and your sheet looks like this: 8ml veramoss, 8ml bergamot, 16ml karmawood, 16ml violet, 8ml Ambroxan, In fact that came to 56ml so I under pipetted and topped up with a “blob of rose”.  If you had twelve ingredients you would…nope, sorry, can’t do it.
Maenad

My very own fragrance in my very own bottle to take home.

I called mine Maenad, which is the name of the handmaidens to Bacchus, God of Wine.  Lisa named hers Watson because it has a “lemon entry”. (“Elementary Dear Watson.”) Sarah recommended a spray or three, and then put them to bed for two weeks to mature.

Having my very own custom-made perfume was a deep and gratifying thrill, and trust me, I’m going back to make more.  I wasn’t very good at perfume making, but the wonder of it all was the biggest olfactory thrill of my life. Usually, only Sir David Attenborough can make my jaw drop like that.

By the way, if you’re familiar with the 4160 Tuesdays Naughty Cupboard ( sale page), I am here to tell you that it is an actual cupboard and I stood in front of it drooling for a good twenty minutes. ( I also bought stuff, more of which anon.)

Photo by kind permission of Sarah McCartney

I would like to thank Sarah McCartney from the bottom of my heart for a breathtakingly memorable and exciting day. In case you haven’t gathered, I would recommend these workshops as a must for anyone even remotely interested in scent. You won’t be sorry and  the thrill of holding your own bottle of fragrance  feels amazing.

I also want to thank the wonderful people I met that day Jo, my scent twin and editor of .Cent magazine  Lily,  Claire the Sit Down Comedian, and Justin. And of course, my darling Lisa who picked me up at 7am, drove to London, found a parking space and drove us back, getting home to Wales at 10.30pm, and stinking joyfully.

How to get on the course

You just book it here on the website. You don’t need to know anything beforehand. I’m going again next year. I might see you there.

 

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Top Ten Perfumes Under Ten Pounds 2018

If you’re anything like me in January, your credit card won’t be speaking to you and you’ll be searching coat pockets for loose change and forgotten fivers. It’s as traditional as losing the scissors when wrapping presents.

If you’re a perfume fan and feeling frugal, I bring glad tidings. There are perfumes out there that cost under ten quid and smell good. You heard me. It’s true. In fact, the majority of perfumes I reach for on a day to day basis are often cheap and cheerfuls that I don’t mind running out of and can be easily replaced.

So, my friends, clutch your tenners and follow me as I tell you about my top ten fragrances under ten pounds.

  1. Coty L’Aimant.

My £5.99 bottle reminds me of my late grandmother, who was such a lady and never went shopping without a brooch and a scarf.  She was class all the way and loved Coty L’Aimant. She was born around the time it came out in 1927 and wore it to dances in the war. It was made in similar style to the newly launched Chanel No 5 which had come out three years earlier in 1924, and smells very similar. I also adore the Art Deco bottle and deep pink box with the gold edging. All this for under ten quid.

  1. Elizabeth Arden Green Tea

Whether you opt for the pillar scent (which is a classic) or any of the excellent flankers, the Elizabeth Arden Green Tea range is a safe bet. Light, feminine, inoffensive, floral and citrussy, they make ideal summer or office perfume and almost always cost under ten quid, unless you see them in Duty Free where they cost a lot more. I particularly like Green Tea Revitalize and Green Tea Exotic

  1. Alyssa Ashley Musk

This is a perfect pocket money perfume that smells amazing, gets compliments and has a subtle but pretty sillage.  It was particularly popular in the 1970s but has a lot to offer the woman of 2018. It’s a warm, light, cosy musk that makes people want to nuzzle you. You can buy it here.

  1. Bronnley Eclectic Elements range

This range of fragrances was created to attract a younger crowd to Bronnley, and I’m certainly a fan of both the classic stuff and the Eclectic Elements Range.  In other words, I’m a dream customer. Bronnley gets my seal of approval for making rollerball fragrances. Although rollerballs are plentiful in Europe and the USA, they’re harder to get in the UK, so I’m hoping more brands will do this. The rollerballs are priced at under ten pounds, but if you go onto allbeauty.com today and sniff out their sale, you can find 50ml eau de toilettes at £10 too, although that’s sale price, not usual price.

  1. Yves Rocher Plaisirs Nature Range

My SOTD today is a little 20ml bottle of Yves Rocher Orange Flower-Lavender- Petitgrain EDT. It cost me £7.99 and I got two for the price of one. It’s wonderfully uplifting and pretty and combines white flowers with juicy nuances of orange and calming lavender. I also have the Mandarin, Lemon and Cedar, which is equally good and equally cheap. Check out my review here.

  1. Trust Yardley

The Yardley Collection of simple floral eau de toilettes are hard to beat. I own Yardley April Violets, Yardley English Rose and Yardley English Lavender. I wear them alone or for layering and I get compliments every single time I wear the rose.  The violet helps me “violet-up” fragrances that I feel are missing that…well, that violet note. I also recommend the Lily of The Valley and the Freesia. You can buy them here or in Boots.

  1. Avon Calling!

Of course, I can’t write about bargain fragrances without mentioning my old friend Avon.  Avon is my Go-To guilt free brand. I own about six and my favourites are Avon Perceive OasisFar Away Bella and Rare Platinum, which is a gorgeous tuberose and grapefruit combo. Every brochure has a bargain and I never need to wait long until my favourite is £6 or £7. I’ve converted several friends too. The list of perfumers who have worked for Avon reads like a Who’s Who of the Industry: Christine Nagel, Olivier Cresp and Christopher Sheldrake are just three that I can think of off the top of my head.  It’s a guilt free win/win pleasure. Here’s the link.  Products vary seasonally so if your favourite isn’t around this week, come back and check again.

8. Go Old Skool

amazon.co.uk 

By old school, I mean take a second at what your Mum wore growing up.

If I told you that Tweed reminded me a little of Jicky, would you be shocked? It does.

How about if I told you that Taylor of London Chique is a fabulous earthy, woody chypre that has much in common with Estee Lauder Knowing?

Neither are dupes, but both deserve more love and recognition. I’m also a big fan of Panache and I’ve only now finished a £3.99 bottle that gave me twelve hours longevity after two morning sprays. I have found all of these bottle for well under ten pounds, and even under five pounds. Try allbeauty.com or Fragrance Direct.

  1. Al Aneeq, Crown Perfumes and Al Rehab.

These are all brands that sell rollerballs of high quality, no alcohol fragrance.  I own the White Musk and the Al Aneeq Violet, which is a big generator of compliments. (“Yum. I smell Parma Violets!”). Prices start at £1.99 for the delectable Choco Musk, and my trusty 10ml (very strong) violet rollerball was 3.99. Find them on Amazon or eBay. Great for handbags.  Prices vary.

  1. Marks and Spencer

And so, we arrive at the perfume shelves of Marks and Spencer. Your ten-pound note will serve you well here.  First of all, there are delicious 10ml  and 30ml purse-size sprays such as Autograph Blush (light roses and violets, powdery finish, ultra-feminine, not too sweet) or the new Belle.  I’ve also seen White Orchid and New York in purse spray sizes in store too. Then of course, there’s the classic pillar fragrance Florentyna, which I reviewed last year. Both flankers are worth a look too and any of them will give you change from your tenner.

How about you?

What are your favourite cheap and cheerfuls? Do you have any under a tenner? Do drop in and tell me . I always love to hear from you.

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The ISCENT Awards and Review of 2017

 

Welcome to the I Scents 2017! Find your seat. The drinks will be around in a minute. I hope you’ve got your glad rags on and are ready for a fragrant bonanza.

2017 has been a very interesting year for fragrance, with even the big hitters bringing out major new launches.  If I’m honest, I found far more to love in the world of niche and indie than I did over the beauty counters.  I also had some wonderful real-life perfume experience to break the loneliness of the long distance blogger.  It was a delight to meet up with Sarah McCartney, Jo Fairley, Suzy Nightingale (albeit briefly in the toilets at the Jasmines!), Marina Barcenilla, Ruth Mastenbroek, Stephan Matthews, Thomas Dunckley, Persolaise and Nick Gilbert.  If that sounds like star struck name dropping, that’s because it is.

Ladies and gentlemen, here are the awards, presented by your hostess, Samantha Scriven (applause. Whooping. Wolf whistles.)

Best mainstream

I was moved by very few mainstream launches this year and we saw some big ones come from Chanel, Mugler, Jean Paul Gaultier and Guerlain. Whilst I liked Chanel Gabrielle, I didn’t think it was worth the high price and I found longevity very poor at around an hour.  Can’t stop singing the Beyoncé song from the fabulous advert though.

There were, however four launches that really made me sit up and take notice. I’m not even going to pick a favourite, because they all were. If you pushed me into owning just one though, it would be Alberto Morillas’ Gucci Bloom for Gucci. I’m a sucker for a bunch of white flowers at the best of times and I’m pleased to see them hopefully capturing some new hearts with this beautiful scent and stunning campaign.

Gucci Bloom -winner

Gucci  really made me sit up  and take notice with this one. I have been in a sulk with them since envy was scrapped, but they may be back in my good books again. Gucci Bloom is a wonderful white flower fragrance that is unapologetically feminine and floral.  I love that it takes floral scents back to basics,  stripping away all sugary artifice, whilst showcasing all the best bits of nature. Read my rave review here.

Cartier Baiser Fou

Baiser Fou is the flanker to lily based pillar scent Cartier Baiser Vole, and in my opinion, the better of the two.  Baiser Fou is all about  raspberries, Milky Bars and posh lipstick.  I love this playful and lovable scent, which always makes me think of summer weddings. My review is here.

Mugler Aura

It’s not very often Mugler brings out a brand new pillar scent, although flankers are frequent.  Aura is one of the most wearable Muglers.  It doesn’t have the nuclear sillage of Angel or Alien, nor the  divisive  love/hate of the discontinued Womanity (shudder).  However, with new notes of Tiger Liana (my future stripper name) and Wolfwood, this makes for an unusual and audacious scent. You can read my review here.

La Vie Est Belle L’Eclat

from Lancome UK

Whilst I feel Lancome La Vie est Belle has become ubiquitous, spawning many homages and dupes in its wake, La Vie est Belle L’Eclat offers something new.

The floral notes are there but the sugary caramel of the pillar fragrance  has been toned down, leaving a rather classy floral scent, with a hint of sweetness. The bottle is stunning too- I can’t stop touching the elaborate chiselled glass.  Lancôme, I salute you.

 Fragrances I Can’t Live Without

It is frankly impossible to only issue one award in this category.  It’s like asking me which is my favourite cat (don’t).  To choose one implies I don’t love the others as much, and that’s not true.  I have therefore listed the fragrances I fell headlong in love with in 2017.  If you have to take away my whole collection, just leave me these and I’ll be happy.

Aftelier Velvet Tuberose

4160 Tuesdays Killer Rose 

4160 Tuesdays Eau My Soul

Photo by Thomas Dunckley for Papillon Perfumery

Papillon Dryad

Marina Barcenilla India

DSH French Lily

Ruth Mastenbroek Firedance

Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium

Best New Perfume House 2017

Gallivant -winner

Nick Steward founded Gallivant with years of experience in his pocket from his previous tenure at L’Artisan Parfumeur. Basing each scent on a city vibe, Nick has created a scent wardrobe that takes you all around the world. What I like about this brand is that he hasn’t gone for the obvious, but has suggested the unseen underbelly of a city.  He’s gone for Brooklyn rather than Central Park and has given Tel Aviv a feel-good optimism. Gallivant is innovative, evocative and original. I look forward to seeing more from this exciting new house.

Best bargain brand

Bargain perfumes are my speciality. I believe that everyone should be able to have affordable perfume and I eschew all snobbery on my blog. In fact, the perfume I reached for most often in 2017 was my trusty £5.99 of Coty L’Aimant.

Avon-Winner

Avon has been producing some wonderful fragrances that whilst recognisably Avon, are bang on trend and can easily stand shoulder to shoulder with more expensive mainstream brands. In fact, the list of perfumers that have worked for Avon read like a Who’s Who of fragrance; Christopher Sheldrake, Oliver Cresp and Sonia Constant to name but three. Most of my Avon fragrances cost me around £7. Unbeatable.

Bronnley

Some superb fragrances from Bronnley who are shaking up their image to attract the younger scent buyer. Whilst I will always be a fan of the classic lemon soaps and floral bath goodies, (don’t ever stop making them!) there are now innovative roller balls and  50ml eau de toilettes in the Eclectic Elements range. My particular favourites are Wild Green and Exotic Embers. The prices are right too with 30ml eau fraiche bottles, rollerballs and candles all within the £10 range (prices are current as from day of publishing this).

Marks and Spencer

My local Marks and Spencer is next door to The Perfume Shop and I find myself in  there far more often than I find myself in the Perfume Shop.  Also, The Perfume Shop deletes all your loyalty points if you don’t use them fast enough, which doesn’t make me feel very loyal anymore.  Marks and Spencer hosts some of my favourite brands such as Fragonard and Monotheme, but their own brand stuff is pretty good too. I’m a big fan of Autograph Blush, Florentyna White and Rosie by Rosie Huntington Whitely. With 10ml purse sprays starting from a fiver, you can cheer yourself up without breaking the bank.

Yves Rocher

My beloved Yves Rocher! Whenever I order from them, I am always sent a free gift (usually something good like perfume) three samples, some sort of BOGOF deal and usually some sort of little surprise or purse spray. I am currently awaiting an order in which I spent £30 and will be receiving four bottles of perfume, a Swarovksi necklace and three samples.  This is not because I am a blogger, but because I am a customer and they are all treated this well. Fragrance quality is very high and I have never been disappointed. Check out my most recent Yves Rocher review here.

 Perfume Superstars Award

The Perfume Society

The Perfume Society

For the second year in a row I hail the beloved Mothership.  The Perfume Society not only hosts workshops and events that are a delight to attend, but I have an addiction to the Discovery Boxes which always, without fail, introduce me to a scent or brands I have never come across before.  Alexander Pope once declared that the point of literature was to instruct delightfully and The Perfume Society certainly fulfill this edict. The Scented Letter is a brilliant read, with breathtakingly good visuals and superb guest writers.  The latest Discovery Box I had even contained Green & Black’s Chocolate. chocolate. #dreamcometrue

2017 Highlights

I’m giving all of these equal placing because every one is indelibly engraved into my memory for when I’m an old lady and don’t get out much.

The Jasmine Awards

What can I say? Such an honour to be a finalist and such a day of contrasts. I began my day at BAFTA, followed by tea at the former Simpsons on The Strand with Sarah McCartney and Ruth Mastenbroek and ended it with the 3.15pm school run in Cwmbran.  Unforgettable! You can read about it here.

FiFis

I shall remember my night at the Fragrance Foundation awards for many years to come. I was invited as a guest of Clive Christian fragrance and the team made me feel so welcome. I got to wear a long dress, which doesn’t happen very often to me anymore, and mingle with the movers and shakers in the Fragrance World. It also marked the start of a friendship with FiFi winner Marina Barcenilla and the lovely Stephan Matthews.

photo by kind permission of Sarah McCartney

The Perfume Society Improve your Sense of Smell Workshop

Photo courtesy of The Perfume Society.

The Perfume Society held a workshop fairly near-ish to me in Clifton.  Since this is nearer than London, it was easy for me to attend, being across the water from South Wales (we have up to two bridges now).

I learnt so much in that afternoon  from Perfume Society Founder Jo Fairley, and would wholeheartedly recommend these workshops to anyone, even if you’ve been before!  Read my review of the day here.

Also featured in…

Check me out! I feel wanted and special. I got to work with all these delightful people this year and feel extremely flattered to be on their radar.

Stephan Matthews

Stephan’s Six- I join the ranks of hallowed predecessors and felt very flattered to be included in this legendary column.

Escentual.com

Escentual-  Perfume Expert Thomas Dunckley, (aka The Candy Perfume Boy)   called me a perfume expert too! I’m not in the same league as  Thomas, but I am thrilled to bits anyway. This is where I give my opinion on the most Christmassy perfume ever: Serge Lutens Arabie.  The photo is Thomas’s own.

 

My Beauty Matches– I’ve written several pieces for My Beauty Matches. You can check them out here and here.  A lovely team of people.

 

WOW Beauty– the amazing Denise of Wow beauty asked me to contribute to her fabulous site and I was delighted to join the fun. If you haven’t checked it out, do drop in. Such a lovely environment!

 

Collaborated with…Moodscent Four

This year saw me collaborate with  my wonderful Mood Scent Four colleagues, Esperanza, Tara and Megan. It was all Megan’s idea, so blame her. Megan is a Kiwi, based in the south of France  (meganinstsemaxime) and came up with the idea that four bloggers from four different countries could share their perfume recommendations for different moods and occasions. Every few months we all write about what to wear as a wedding guest, what scent to wear when uplifting is called for, and most recently, our favourite Night Out perfumes. They’re a joy to work with and I am honoured to be their colleague.

Over to you

What were your perfume highlights of 2017? What are you hoping to see more of in 2018? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year and thank you for taking the time and trouble to read my blog posts and follow what I’m up to. it would be very lonely without you all and each one of you is appreciated.

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Happy Christmas and Sorry I’m Late

fireplace.lifcow.com

My dear scented chums, I must apologise for the lack of blog posts here lately. The heart was willing but my time was spread thinner than Marmite.

On my complicated Mind Map To Do List that makes my head spin, is a list of blog posts I have been meaning to get around to writing. Obviously, I haven’t written them, so it’s doubtful now that you will see them before Christmas.

Here then, is a list of blog posts you can look forward to after Christmas (Sorry they’re late. The cat ate my homework)

Purse Sprays and Rollerballs

How I love those handy little perfumes! Travel size, rollerball, mini sprays- I want them all.

Jack Perfume

I have three samples from Richard E Grant that I am looking forward to reviewing (initial thoughts are favourable) but it is Christmas Eve Eve now and I’m not going to get that one done before Christmas.

The Perfume Society Velvet Collection

Another winner of a box from our friends at the Perfume Society- this time with a bar of Green and Black’s chocolate that was gone faster than a stolen car.

100bon -Centbon perfumes

I have a full bottle of Davana &Vanille Bourbon and several wonderful samples to tell you about. The brand is pronounced Cent-bon as a play on words “c’est bon” = “that’s good”. I shall be getting stuck in very soon.

Avon for Men

My love affair with Avon continues and this time I’m looking at the men’s’ range. Watch this space for some great bargains.

I’ll be back now in a minute

As we say in Wales.  I shall have to sign off and come back to you after Christmas otherwise I’ll never get the stairs done or put the ham in for my troupe of Christmas Eve visitors.  If my tales of woe and drudgery haven’t made you run away, please let me take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a wonderful 2018.

I hope to tempt you back with my scented tales and reviews as I approach my fifth blogaversary in January.  Oh, and did I mention giveaways? Lots of them too.

Nadolig Llawen!

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Four Candles: The Best Candles at Christmas

Or is it Fork Handles? (If you like the Two Ronnies you’ll be nodding.) I’m going a bit off piste here and writing a post that’s not actually about a bottle of perfume. It’s still about fragrance though, and I’m dying to add a joke about waxing lyrical, but I won’t. Yes, my dear scented chums, today I’m writing about my absolute favourite candles. Do join me. There’s tea in the pot and a cat will be on your lap in just a moment. After this, I want you to tell me what your favourite candles are so I can tell Father Christmas to get me some too.

Crabtree and Evelyn White Cardamom

Crabtree and Evelyn can always be relied upon to produce fabulous scented goodies in irresistible packaging and this beautiful candle is no exception.  I chose White Cardamom. The thought of cardamom in a Christmas candle really appealed to me and this does not disappoint. The candle burns cleanly with no flickering or spitting and after a few minutes, a distinctly clean and spiced waft permeates the room. When I say spiced, I’m not talking about the mulled wine or mince pie kind of spice, but a kind of aromatic, nutty woody spice with a faint pine tree nuance. Actually, it reminded me slightly of my recent trip to the Celtic Manor spa. The aroma there was a waxy, clean, pine scent very much like this one. Delicious.  Also, you can get a room spray and a reed diffuser in the same range. Try the website.

Safety warning: If you spill a reed diffuser and you have cats, make sure it doesn’t get near their skin as it can really cause them some damage.  Keep our fluffy friends safe from seasonal harm! Also, don’t burn candles near tinsel. I’ve only done it for the photos and it made me nervous.

 

Parks London Gingerbread

This stood out as my absolute favourite. When I hear the word gingerbread I  always think it will smell like rich dense cake. Gourmand scents don’t particularly appeal to me for fear of smelling as if I’ve been cooking all day ( which I often have). Parks of London Gingerbread, however,  manages to take all the best bits of gingerbread i.e the warmth and the uplifting gingery spices, and add a dash of smoky woods to keep everything both spicy and fresh at the same time.  You can buy them here.

True Story: When this arrived in the post I put it on the mantel piece, unlit. When the kids got home the response was thus: “what’s that nice smell? Have you made cookies?” “What’s in the oven?”. This was before I had even lit the candle. It is the nicest candle I have ever owned.

photo from Clive Christian

 

Clive Christian 1872 

What a treat! Clive Christian candles! Due to budget anomalies, I can only admire this brand with my nose pressed against the glass, but I’m a big fan.

I recently received the 1872 top notes candle as a no-strings gift, but of course, I can’t resist telling you about it anyway. Clive Christian 1872 (see my review) smells very similar to the eau de parfum, but has a thicker quality to it, almost like a scented wool blanket. I’ve been keeping the candle next to my bed (again unlit) and the whole room smells as if I wear Clive Christian (I wish). The most prominent notes are the white florals and the mossy herbs and that’s before you light it. When lit, it gives 22 hours burn time and the floral notes come out on top. Utterly gorgeous. You can get these in a trio from here.

True story This may be the second time I’ve mentioned this, but I was lucky enough to meet Clive Christian’s daughter, Victoria at the FiFi’s in May. She was warm and engaging and smelled unbelievably gorgeous. She was wearing her initials: Clive Christian V and Clive Christian C.

Baylis and Harding Pink Prosecco and Cassis

From Clive Christian to Baylis and Harding, there’s something for all budgets here. This pink prosecco and cassis may sound slightly gimmicky (prosecco slogans are everywhere this Christmas) but actually it makes for a lightly floral and fruity scent that would go perfectly next to your bath. And a glass of prosecco. The candle is white and come in a glass jar.  I got mine from Amazon UK

Answers on a postcard If you have ever succeeded in using a candle jar as an actual jar after the candle has finished, please tell me how. I am convinced it is not possible.

Over to you

So that’s my favourite four candles, what are yours? How do you scent your home at Christmas? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

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Avon Imari Elixir: The Flanker Hall of Fame

You know the trouble with flankers? You love the original and it’s so flankered to death that you can barely remember the first and best and then you lose track of which ones you need to buy and which you missed completely.  Then there’s the other side of the coin: the flankers that are so good that you end up saying “Can’t even remember the original. Love this more.”

Avon Imari Elixir falls firmly into the second category.  Now don’t get me wrong, I like Avon Imari, but it left me feeling a little wistful about its lack of longevity. As a light office friendly floral, it’s spot on, but it didn’t last as long as I hoped.

Avon Cosmetics

Avon Imari Elixir says “Stand back and get used to me, because I’m here all day.” And it is.

Imari Elixir opens with unmistakable blackberry notes. These are berry notes that add the juiciness without all the sugar. They have none of the bitterness of blackcurrant, and none of the sickliness of the frequent plethora of sugary sweet pink pepper. Good choice, Avon. The blackberry joins in with jasmine and deep red roses. The vanilla is very much more than a walk on part- it’s warm and buttery but again, not too sickly.  Then in the base, along comes the patchouli, which gives this real staying power and “oomph”, for want of a better word.  Coupled with amber, this rounds off this dark fruity rose with a flourish of warmth and earthiness. Some Fragrantica members have said that this reminds them of Lancôme Hypnose, so if you like that, stock up on this. Imari Elixir is  a fabulous “going out” perfume.

Despite being an eau de toilette, this really has staying power. I call this great value at just £6.

Stockists

This is available from Avon UK or from your Avon rep. My Avon Lady is called Jill and we are on Christmas card swapping terms now, as you can imagine.   Avon Imari Elixir was just £6. I paid for it myself and this is not a sponsored post.

Avon cosmetics

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Avon Far Away: Here’s why it’s Number One

Avon Far Away is Avon’s best-selling fragrance in the UK.  Avon daren’t discontinue it for fear of riots .  It also has the distinction of being the fragrance I smell most when out and about here in South Wales. The women who love it REALLY love and most of them are repeat buyers.

It occurred to me that I have reviewed many, MANY Avon fragrances but not this one. In the past I have dismissed it and not paid it much heed, but last night I sat down and  really paid attention to it.  Reader,  I learned a thing or two along the way.

Firstly, I once dismissed this as so vanilla-y that it borders on coconuts (true-ish, there are coconut notes and vanilla). However, last night, as I let it unfold on my skin, I noticed many facets I hadn’t previously found. First of all, this is a grand white flower fragrance. It bursts with jasmine and gardenia. I thought I could discern tuberose, but no, it was jasmine and gardenia- a pretty heady combo at any time of day. Also present is karo karoundee- a white flower that has similar nuances to tuberose and is often paired with it. No, I hadn’t heard of it, and yes, I did have to look that up. (Thanks, Fragrantica!).

Before the flowers go anywhere, the peaches emerge, coupled with apricotty osmanthus, giving this a very peachy, powdery accord. This gets stronger until it peaks at freesia, peach and white flowers before relaxing into a base note you will recognise when you walk down my local High Street.

The base notes ares rich in vanilla, musk and woods, but mainly  settle to a sweet, peachy and powdery vanilla.

Far Away reminds me of another early Nineties fragrance: Cassini by Oleg Cassini. I wore it a lot as I worked in the evening wear department of  a House of Fraser store. There was a display bottle on a stand and we sales assistants all drenched ourselves in it. The peaches, vanilla and flowers have a sweetness in common with Far Away.

Far Away was created in 1994 and its popularity shows no signs of dipping. There have been several flankers, and the one most like the original is Far Away Gold, which is very similar, note by note, but has stronger amber notes and less fruitiness.  Also, fact fans, Far Away Infinity smells very similar to Paco Rabanne Olympea but is less than ten quid. Just saying.

To sum up, Far Away is not my favourite Avon, but taking a good look at it really opened my eyes to what a great scent this is. Avon has made a wonderful peachy, powdery, vanilla classic that puts good fragrance into an accessible price range. I couldn’t ask for more.

Stockists

Avon Far away is widely available. Try Avon UK, Amazon UK and eBay.  I get mine off my Avon Lady because then she gets commission and she is lovely.

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