Category Archives: Health and Beauty

Elizabeth Arden Provocative Woman EDP

provocative ad

I’ve been circling this one for a while and wondering how to review it. It sort of does and doesn’t fit into a neat category.  It’s sort of a fruity floral and a spicy woody scent.  It’s sort of provocative but you could wear it to work without inadvertently turning anyone on.   In other words,  it has cast its net very wide.

Created in 2004, the Elizabeth Arden Provocative Woman campaign was fronted by my fellow Welshwoman Catherine Zeta Jones.  We also happen to be the same age, but the similarity ends there.  We won’t get confused as twins anytime soon.

provocative woman bottle

Provocative Woman opens with quince, raspberry, peach, ginger and lotus.  The middle notes are apricot, freesia, papaya and orchid.  The basenotes are hinoki wood, amber, red amber, sandalwood and cedar.

So you can see my problem.  All the fruit from the fruit salad is in here, but with added spice and heat from the ginger and a warm woody finish.  It’s hard to pick out the individual notes. It’s sort of a fruit Pimms accord with a touch of chai tea . There’s a lovely clean whiff of freshly washed hair in among the jelly but the flowers struggle to come to the fore.

provo box

All in all, I can’t help liking this crowd pleasing effort, even if it is a little bit of a mish mash.  I didn’t used to be a fan of fruity florals but I smelled so many different ones that I was won over, and this one has won me over too.

I think the youth market is missing a trick with this fruity number and may well rule it out as being a “Mum” perfume.  In fact, the fruitiness is fun and light and even playful.   The woods don’t get too dark or deep and the faint, faint flowers offer a little flourish of girliness.  I wouldn’t call this provocative,  but it’s certainly womanly.  It’s also a massive bargain. My bottle is a 30ml EDP and lasting power is not bad at around four hours.

Stockists

Elizabeth Arden Provocative Woman is widley available. Try  Amazon UK and Half Price Perfumes to name but two.  Opinions are my own, as is this bottle.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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The IScent Review of The Perfume Society Scented Skincare Discovery Set

 

ScentedSkincareshopWIDGET

I love fragrance and all things that smell nice.  Now that I’m 47 I need good skincare or I end up looking like Zelda from the Terrahawks. Combine  those two things into one and you have a happy Welsh bunny with glowing skin.

latest shot

Recently, my dear scented chums at the PerfSoc (or the Mothership as I call it) sent me a Discovery Set with a difference. There are no actual perfumes or fragrances in this set, yet every item is scented.  My greedy eyes popped at the scented hand cream- I have a serious hand cream fetish. I recently went around the  house Kondo-style rounding up hand creams  and found nine.  Oops.

The Perfume Society asked me for my opinion on the Scented Skincare set, because unlike my children, they listen to me and don’t argue that I’m unfair and that it’s not even dark yet.  Sorry, I digress. Tough day.

latest skincare bundle

So here you are, my dear chums and fellow fans of good smells. This is a round up of this rather splendid set, which retails for £22 despite being worth about £75.  By the way, if you know anyone who is getting married, this makes a fantastic honeymoon present or hen weekend gift.

What’s in the bag?

Firstly, the set comes in a stylish bag with a rather lovely message on the front “be confident, be kind, be beautiful”. Couldn’t put it better myself.  Right. I’m going in.

Aromatherapy Associates Renewing Rose Body Cream 40ml (normally £38 for 200ml)

selfie rose creamThis was my absolute favourite. The scent of roses was stunning: good old fashioned garden roses-none of your modern rubbish. This scent stopped me in my tracks.  I’d wear this just for the smell alone.  I could still smell pretty wisps of roses as I went to bed.

Sukin Detoxifying Clay Masque 100ml – full size product (worth £11.49)

selfie clayThis comes in a little tub that gives you enough for several generous face pack sessions. I haven’t used it yet, but I will say that I found it very difficult not to eat it.  It smells like the most delicious marzipan and even touching it feels good. I can’t wait to get stuck in but it will definitely be when the husband and the kids are out or I’ll be all over Instagram, and not in a good way.

Weleda Pomegranate Body Lotion 20ml (normally £22.95 for 200ml)

Weleda-499x499Trust Weleda to come up with the goods. This beautiful lotion smells lightly of pomegranate and the delicious thick lotion leaves a beautiful subtle scent trail whenever you move.

MOA Fortifying Green Bath Potion 10ml (normally £27.50 for 100ml)

bathI couldn’t get the lid off because I stupidly tried all the hand cream first.  Today, I finally managed to unscrew it and have a sniff. It smells divine.  It comes in a  glass phial and the scent is bursting with green tea and mint and maybe green grass.  It’s very refreshing and perfect for Spring.

Aurelia Aromatic Repair and Brighten Hand Cream 7ml (normally £28 for 75ml)

AureliaThe scent was divine and the cream sank into my fossilized hands and made them look human again. The smell was terrific and lingered around for a good few hours.  It’s all lavender and herby citrus. Gorgeous.

This Works Sleep Plus Trouble Shooter 10ml (normally £35 for 120ml)

This-WorksThis gentle spray not only has anti-aging properties but is also supposed to aid sleep thanks to its beautiful aromatherapy scent.  You can spray it on your collarbones and shoulders for a revamped décolletage (well, we live in hope), and a good night’s sleep.  Bonus points for giving me a nice smelling pillow the following morning.

Balance Me Restore and Replenish Face Cream 15ml (normally £40 for 50ml)

Balance-MeI slathered this on before bed and looked as if I had slept for 12 hours in a dewy meadow.  My skin glowed this morning.  My cheeks were like two peaches and I didn’t look exhausted like I usually do first thing in the morning. I’ll be getting more of this for sure!

Rosalena Rock & Rose Face Oil 5ml (normally £42 for 15ml)

RosalenaA posh looking facial oil that goes a long way thanks to its little pipette style applicator. The scent is very natural and realistic, though not particularly strong. I haven’t tried it as a facial oil yet as I was covered in Balance Me Restore and Replenish Face Cream last night ( see above),  but this one’s next.

Ultrasun Face 25ml (normally from £20 for 50ml)

Ultra-SunI could tell you how great Ultrasun is or I could tell you a funny anecdote about a stupid person with pale skin, freckles and slightly gingery hair who decided to go to California in August, for goodness sake.  This person, er, we’ll call her “Pam”, used Ultrasun on her face but nothing on her legs.  Her face was a healthy glowing pale beige on her return, whereas her legs were still two different colours 18 months later from severe sunburn.  That “Pam” is so stupid.

AmieAmie New Leaf Deep Pore Exfoliating Polish 25ml (normally £5.95 for 100ml ) Haven’t tried this one yet but I did squeeze a bit out of the tube to smell it.  It has a very light floral scent and a reassuringly sandy texture to really slough those skin cells off.  I’ll be doing the old hot flannel treatment very soon.

 Stockists

You can buy this wonderful bag of treats from the Perfume Society website.  Mine was kindly provided by The Perfume Society and opinions are my own.

Over to you

How about you?  What’s your favourite non-perfume fragrance?   Do you have a favourite body lotion or face cream?  Do let me know.  I always love to hear from you.

ScentedSkincareshopWIDGET

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Flower by Kenzo: A True Modern Classic

kenzo flower

Flower by Kenzo just hasn’t been on my radar until I opened my Modern Classics Discovery Box from The Perfume Society. You know when something is so familiar that you don’t notice it anymore?  Well that must be why I didn’t actually know what Flower by Kenzo smelled like until now.  I see it everywhere and yet I pass by.  Now I’ve finally taken time to stop and smell the Flower (sorry) What a revelation!

talc

Flower by Kenzo opens with light citrus notes and atouch of herby hawthorn that beds down into soft violet and roses.  Now, you might be thinking YSL Paris when you hear violet and roses,  but this is more like very expensive luxury thrice milled talc.  There is a deliciously clean powdery note that has what can only be called a “fluffiness” about it.  It evoked memories of those talcum puffs I used to buy my late grandmothers- you know, a marabou puff in a little round box or tin.  Gorgeousness.

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The flowers in Flower by Kenzo are present but subdued, as if being inhaled through a diaphanous white veil.  The base has a faint spice thanks to the frankincense, but even that’s a mere puff and a wisp. The overriding finish is one of powdery white musk with a hint of violets. This is the ultimate perfect day time scent.  In fact, my dear teacher friend Janet (she’ll laugh when she sees this) wears this to work and I can’t think of a nicer way to scent a classroom.  This iscomforting, pure, and makes you smell as if you come from a good home with fluffy towels and clean laundry.

Flower by Kenzo is indeed a Modern Classic.  It suits all ages and would also make a great first perfume for a young fragrance rookie.

Stockists

Kenzo Flower is widely available.  Try allbeauty.com or John Lewis. Alternatively, you will find a sample in The Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box like wot I did.

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The Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Box March 2017

fs disc box neat

Every quarter, for the small sum of five pounds, I  receive a Discovery Box from the Fragrance Shop Discovery Club.  Sometimes there are fragrances I’ve already tried and sometimes there are lovely surprises. Either way, I’ve been a member since December 2013 and I always will be.

This month’s box contains six samples, as well as a five-pound voucher off a full bottle of any of your favourites from the box.  So far, my clear favourite is Elizabeth Arden White Tea.

Here’s what’s in the box

Elizabeth Arden White Tea

arden_white_teaAs you know Elizabeth Arden Green Tea has been a classic since it came out in 1999.  Green Tea was created by none other than His Majesty Francis Kurkdjian, and it has genius simplicity written all over it.   There have been many flankers, and I’ve liked all of them.  When I saw White Tea was now A Thing, I worried that they may have “over-flanked” themselves, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Elizabeth Arden White Tea  is light, airy and floaty and smells like a pure white room in a dream home.   There’s clean white musks and sea notes and light notes of white tea.  This is like a spa in a bottle.  This will be on my dressing table very soon.

Jimmy Choo L’Eau

This is in a similar vein to DKNY below, but is slightly sweeter and Jimmy-Choo-Leaudelicately tiptoes onto the very edges of the gourmand spectrum.  I wrote about this last month and you can read my review here. It’s pretty and light and floral, and I predict it’ll be a big hit this summer.

DKNY Be Tempted Eau so Blush

dkny be temptedDKNY Be Tempted Eau So Blush is a light and feminine scent that has a fruity floral opening and big peony notes in the middle- and peony is going to be big this year.   The base is woody and fruity with apricots and musk.  This is a perfect daytime scent and ideal for work. It almost demands to be worn with a pretty frock.

Marc Jacobs Decadence

marc jacobs decadenceMarc Jacobs Decadence comes in such a fantastic bottle that when I first saw it,  I almost didn’t care what it smelled like, I just wanted that bottle. Luckily, it smells pretty good with its saffron and plums and a vetiver and musk base.  If you like Marc Jacobs Daisy, don’t buy this blind as they’re very different.   Decadence is fabulous for the evening whilst Daisy is lighter and better as a daytime fragrance.

Joop! Wow

wowThis one certainly lives up to its name. “Wow” was the first word I said when I sniffed it.  It opens with sharp lime and aromatic cardoman, and settles as a slightly gourmand, warm vanilla, via peppery geranium and dry grassy vetiver.  Despite not having any leathery notes, this reminded me of Dior Fahrenheit, only Joop!Wow! is sharper and with more citrus. I loved it. I sprayed it on me, my husband and my ten-year-old son.  Unanimous thumbs up! We all smell great.

Invictus Intense

invictus intenseI was surprised when I saw this as I thought “Hmm, Invictus is pretty intense anyway, what could they possibly do to make it bigger?”The answer, my friends, is that they turned up the volume and tweaked some knobs until it knocked out every canary within a fifty mile radius.  Invictus Intense is similar to the original, but cranked up to the power of ten.  The salt notes are very prominent.  It’s dry and masculine and not pretty.  It reminded me a lot of Paco Rabanne One Million Intense. If this sounds like your cup of tea, please use sparingly.  For all our sakes.

Stockists

fs disc boxAll of these fragrances are available from The Fragrance Shop.

The Discovery Club is easy to join with no long term red tape.  Just join to get your box and cancel if you want to.  But I bet you won’t! I’ve been getting these boxes for four years and the flat box they come in fits through the letterbox so it won’t end up in the Post Office depot if you’re out.

I purchased this myself and opinions are my own.

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Five Decades of #Scent Memories: National Fragrance Day 2017

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Dear reader, I am now in my fifth decade and due to toast the start of my sixth in 2020 when I turn 50.

To me, scent is like a Tardis. It takes you back in time so fast that you can be stepping out the Tardis door into 1976 after one whiff of Panache.  More instantly evocative than a photograph or a song,  a fragrance can whisk you back to the scent of the primary school teacher whose name you forget, but whose perfume you can recall as if a switch has been flicked in your head.

Please join me on my mini odyssey through the smell of the 70s, 80s, 90s, Noughties and Twenteens and do share your #scentmemories below.

The Smell of the 1970s.

1970s

I was born in 1970. The first ten years of my life can be summed up, at least in the olfactory sense, as a combination of cigarette smoke (not mine), the smell of a roast cooking, mud, ferns, bluebells, Woogiraffedleigh Green Apple Shampoo, Avon Pretty Peach and Avon Occur, in a giraffe shaped bottle, no less. Quite how giraffes and perfume go together, I never thought to question, but he literally had some brass neck.

My teachers wore Cacharel Anais Anais, which hasn’t changed to this day, as long as you sidestep the “Delice” version. I can’t remember what scent my mother wore, but she always smelled nice.  My grandmother wore Coty L’Aimant, which I didn’t recognise then, but which moves me to gusty sighs of melancholy  now she isn’t here.

BeFunky Collage70s home

The Smell of the 1980s.

Formative years mean a thirst to both stand out and blend in at the same time. I was groping for an identity and slowly moving into and out of adolescence. It was 1981 before I gradually weaned myself off

sindyplaying with Sindy dolls. I can still vividly recall the smell of the vinyl heads and strange nylon hair, inevitably knotted to all hell within a week of ownership.

My first ever scent that I paid for myself was a splash bottle of Bluebell perfume from Boots No 7. Long since discontinued, I have sought that bluebell scent ever since.  My mother bought me a bottle of Jontue from a trip she went on, and one Christmas I had a bottle of Cachet.  I wore this A LOT.  I also remember Avon Eau Givreé: a beautiful green hesperide that has long since been discontinued.

My teens saw me receive my first ever bottle of proper fragrance from my father for my 18th birthday. It was Estee Lauder Beautiful and I still love it now. 1988 saw me leave home at go to Exeter Uni, where the most memorable scents were Marlboro cigarettes, red wine and lashings of Cacharel LouLou.

1980s collage

Meanwhile, over in Denver Colorado, Alexis Carrington was cracking the whip.  Excess, big shoulder pads, big hair and big smells were all the rage.  On the High Street, there was the unmistakable cloud of Giorgio Beverly Hills and a miasma of Dior Poison mingled with Body Shop White Musk and Dewberry. The Nightclubs smelled of Calvin Klein Obsession, and my one little egg shaped bottle took me into the 1990s.

The Smell of the 1990s

The caring, sharing Nineties sobered everyone up and made us wear ozonic scents in an urge to cleanse ourselves of the Eighties excesses. All my friends smelled of Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey, which is no bad thing. I had discovered Chanel Cristalle, also a light scent that was the opposite side of the spectrum to Poison, Obsession and Giorgio. The 1990s saw me graduate and move to London, which smelled very different to Devon.  London air is thicker, dirtier and there were more cigarettes smoked and more traffic fumes, but reader, to me it was the smell of freedom and wonder and possibility.

collage 1990s

1992 saw the launch of the iconic Thierry Mugler Angel. I remember smelling it for the first time in Harrods Perfume Hall and thinking “but why would I want to smell like chocolate?” I appreciate it now of course, for the multi-faceted classic it is, but back then it was revolutionary among the ozonic and airy fairy Nineties scents. Meanwhile, in 1997, Gucci launched the now much-mourned Gucci Envy.  So good was this floral green scent with a vein of metal running through it, that I dumped Cristalle and remained almost exclusive to Gucci Envy until it was cruelly taken from us in 2007.

The Smell of The Noughties

The Noughties saw a revolution in celebrity fragrance.  Elizabeth Taylor had been churning them out since 1991, but they were largely seen as fan fodder until 2002 when Jennifer Lopez launched the brilliant Glow. It was a clean, white fragrance that pleased the crowds and began a snowball of celebrity fragrances taking off.  Britney Spears got in on it, as did many of her contemporaries and soon the perfumeries were chock full of celeb scents. Sarah Jessica Parker brought new possibilities with SJP Lovely and some of the snobbery dissipated when we realised that celebrity stuff can be pretty darn good. (I’m still a celeb scent geek)

noughties collage

The noughties also mark the only two years of my adult life where I have been without any fragrance and that’s because I had my sons during that decade.  Their first scent memory is of my skin.  No deodorant, no perfume, just me.  It wasn’t easy getting those babies, but it was worth it.

The Smell of the Twenteens

Now things really start to spice up. I started my blog on January 2nd 2013. It was a combination of an urge to write and a channel for my reawakened perfume passion. This was brought about by a lean period, during which Chanel was very much out of reach.  As a result, I developed a bit of a cheap and cheerful habit as my receipts from allbeauty.com will attest.  From that, and the three huge boxes of samples that dear Lisa Jones let me borrow, the floodgates opened.

twenteens

The biggest scent launch of the Twenteens has to be the seminal Lancome La Vie est Belle. The fruity floral explosion of the early ‘teens segued into a river of caramel and praline   Hot on its heels was YSL Black Opium , which dismayed many Opium fans, but brought a  cohort of new fans to the brand.

In recent  times, I’ve been coming across the semi-ubiquitous jasmine sambac note that  seems to be so popular right now.  You can find it in  Paco Rabanne Olympea,  Givenchy Dahlia Divin and Versace Eros. The big launch of 2017 is Mon Guerlain, and whilst it’s not my cup of tea, I do harbour hopes that it will  lead us into a big lavender  trend.

As we point in the direction of 2020, I’m looking forward to the alleged forthcoming trends of milk notes, peony and a renaissance of my favourite genre: green notes.

Interestingly, celebrity fragrance sales are on the wane, but guess what’s on the up?  Niche perfume.  Which is very good news indeedy.

4160samples

How about you?

What scents bring back instant memories for you?  It doesn’t matter how random or everyday they are, I always love to hear from you.

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Marina Barcenilla Patchouli Clouds: There’s Patchouli, and then there’s Patchouli…

patchouli clouds

One of the many highlights of my trip to the Jasmine Awards was the lovely surprise of bumping into Marina Barcenilla of MB Parfums. I had reviewed Marina’s beautiful scent India only last week, and in fact she had a phial of India body oil in her bag for me as a gift. Marina is as delightful as I’d imagined and it is a pleasure to write about her beautiful scents. Today I’m going to review MB Parfums Patchouli Clouds, because it stopped me in my tracks and made me say “Wow” out loud to an empty room.

patchouli flower_zpsy3n6t9lu
Fragrantica

Patchouli is a big old spectrum. The patchouli you find in the base notes of say, Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, will be nothing like the unctuous oil you might have bought in the 70s or 80s ( if you are as old as I am), but it’s all patchouli, in some form.

Patchouli Clouds has a wonderful mixture of spice, citrus,  and damp woods. It starts off as an almost musty wet wood, and calms down into a beautifully aromatic earthiness that made me think of forests after the rain and slightly rotten wood.  Believe it or not, I mean that in a good way.  I love the smell of wood in all its stages: crumbly, freshly sawn, still with the bark on: you name it, I like it. There are flowers too: I found jasmine and roses entwined among the earthy bark.

mb parfums allIn Patchouli Clouds, the scent has more in common with the oils from the Indian joss stick stall in Newport market that I hung around in during my teens.  You know the sort of place: you could buy floaty skirts with tiny mirrored sequins on and leather purses with elephants on the front.  The patchouli you could buy there was not in fancy packaging and it smelled more authentic and natural than anything I’ve ever sniffed over a pristine beauty counter.

Patchouli Clouds reinvents that in a less primitive way.  It still has the patchouli kick of earthiness I seek, but it’s blended beautifully with rich florals and incense to ensure that the star of the show really shines with the right chorus in the background.

Stockists

MB Perfumes Patchouli Clouds is available from the  MB Parfums website, which also has a good sample service. My sample is from Marina herself, for which, many thanks. Opinions are my own.

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Look! A Tiny Little Video!

I keep blathering on about how I’m going to do vlogging one day and on a whim I ended up filming the opening of my Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box. You only see my unmanicured hands and hear my voice, but  check out my gorgeous cat Ian, who appears to be a  big purr-fumista. I’m sorry, I’ll get my coat… I might actually do this again and you might actually see me in it next time. I have two other cats so I may not be alone.

 

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