There is a lot of debate about the importance of using natural ingredients in perfumery. Some people maintain that they will not use any non-botanical materials in their skincare and perfume, and that is their prerogative – there are some wonderful creators who produce beautiful fragrances
I can personally vouch for the Roxanna Illuminated Perfume range – I’m a fan of their Vera and Greenwitch solid fragrances and I am intensely envious of the fact that Sam is going to visit Mandy Aftel’s Aftelier Perfumes studio in California when she goes on holiday.
I can appreciate the hard work that goes into creating natural fragrances, where you can only use a handful of ingredients rather than the much broader range used in commercial perfumery. But to be honest, synthetics don’t scare me. (Your mileage may differ, as they say.)
Interestingly, a friend who has suffered with eczema for the last 40+ years, has recently been given a definitive allergen test that has confirmed she is allergic to Linalool. Now, while this is indeed a chemical, it is one that is present in an awful lot of plants. Lavender is a big ol’ Linalool producer, as are cinnamon, mint and basil, so a lot of very virtuous natural products bring my friend out in a hideous rash.
My friend is much safer using synthetically-fragranced products, as she can be certain about their contents. Sarah McCartney has developed a pair of non-allergenic fragrances that I tried recently and liked enormously. There is a lovely, cozy informality to the Alpha and Beta fragrances from Our Modern Lives.
Sarah explained the concept of this fragrance brand as being a mix and match one, to suit a wearer’s personal preferences and lifestyle choices. Along with the two non-allergenic fragrances (which I will be sending to my currently unperfumed friend), she has created a lovely range of seven all-natural fragrances to have an effect on the wearer’s mood and energy – from an energising yellow to a meditation-enhancing blue – and if a wearer chooses, they can layer on the Alpha or Beta fragrance to add radiance and longevity to the naturals. All the fragrances in the collection are beautiful, and having discussed this with Sarah, I am tempted to try layering some IsoE-Super with my favourite naturals to try and extend their life on my skin and increase the sillage.
What Do You Think?
Where do you stand on naturals and synthetics? Are you happy to wear anything as long as it smells good? Or do you feel happier wearing something that is plant-based? All opinions are welcome and it would be interesting to know what you think.
PS EDIT from Sam Check out Glastonbury based Marina Barcenilla’s superb award winning range of all natural fragrances at MB Perfumes.
I have recently returned to full time work and now work in an open plan office. As the proud owner of many olfactory show stoppers that could kill a canary, I have had to adjust my daily perfume wearing somewhat, now that I am no longer alone for most of the day.
Working in an open plan office, and one that also serves as a Reception, means that the big sillages stay firmly on my dressing table. Not wearing anything at all feels a bit undressed to me, like leaving the house without hosiery or black eyeliner. So, what’s the solution? My friends, I have it. ROLLERBALLS.
Yes, the humble rollerball will almost always stay close to skin, not spread molecules of scent into the air con and will, in theory, at least, only trouble those who have to lean over you to admire your incredible spreadsheet skill.
I have in my handbag a small collection of rollerballs that I alternate. Most often, I find myself wearing the Violets. I’ve yet to hear anyone complain ( to my face), and you’d have to sniff my neck and my scarf pretty hard to know it was there. Please note that I will go to Human Resources should strangers do this to me. Whilst I am sure to never spray in the office, I do sometimes spray some 4160 Tuesdays Paradox on my neck and hair before leaving the house. Paradox is a herby violet fragrance that has a non-invasive and non-aggressive beauty, like a rather pretty garden. it lasts all day and has settled nicely by the time I get off the bus to work.
Rollerballs are generally more popular on mainland Europe and in the US than they are in the UK, but that seems to be slowly changing. For instance, Bronnley does a lovely range of affordable rollerballs- citrine lagoon is pretty and light for office wear and one I wear often. The three in the photo however, were from Al Aneeq via Amazon. None were over £4.99 and all are long lasting without going further than a few inches from skin.
The same applies to oils and solid perfumes. A little subtle application won’t fill a commuter train or bus nor an office. A dab on the neck and in the cleavage will suffice.
Here’s my handbag sized collection:
Al Aneeq White Musk- not as clean a laundry musk as say, The Body Shop White Musk, but a sophisticated 70s s style musk that lasts all day and makes my daily scarf smell delicious.
Al Aneeq Gardenia- a strong white flower that skips over the big creamy Not Tuberose note and becomes a rather traditional linear white flower scent with a hint of honey.
Al Aneeq Violet- My favourite. This is a pure Parma violet violet that I’ve had for about a year and doesn’t seem to go down. I also use it for layering over other fragrances I have which I feel are not violet enough. (Bit not for work).
Bronnley Citrine Lagoon– smells as fresh as stepping out of a clean marine scented shower. Light, pretty and smells a bit like outdoors.
So here are my humble dos and don’t for wearing fragrance in the work place:
Check nobody in your office will object to fragrance (some offices are scent free)
Go small- a few dabs of a rollerball or oil are plenty.
Use light florals or citrus notes
Don’t wear the big ones: Opium, Giorgio or Shalimar. It hurts me to write that, so please go nuts at the weekend and marinate in them.
Don’t spray any perfume in the toilet or everyone will associate your perfume with toilets.
Don’t spray perfume in an open plan office, or you will get looks, mutterings and people saying “what’s that smell?” Not the effect you were going for.
If you are a secondary school teacher, you can probably wear whatever you like. The chorus of Paco Rabanne and Lynx will drown you out anyway. Spray with abandon!
What’s your take on perfume at work?
Let me know your opinion. Where do you work? Do you slather it on or hold back?
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?
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/
Hello! Lisa Wordbird here. I’ve persuaded Sam to let me come and play, and I would love to know what you want to read about. I have a big box of samples and I’ll review things you’re interested in if I have them or I can get hold of them.
Like Sam, I’m a big fan of a bargain and I think an inexpensive perfume can be just as beautiful as something incredibly costly. Equally, I think that there are perfumes that justify a whopping pricetag. I’m a fan of artisan perfumers like Andy Tauer, Sarah McCartney and Liz Moores, and I appreciate how much goes into creating and producing their perfumes.
Equally, I recognise that some of the greatest geniuses in the fragrance industry are the ‘functional fragrance’ creators. These are the unsung heroes and heroines who produce delicious scents for shower gels, fabric softeners and shampoos on an ingredient budget of sixpence a kilo. Don’t believe me? I am eking out a Shower Crème from Lidl called Indian Summer, which is a gorgeous woody oriental. It cost less than £2 when I bought it 18 months ago.
Personally, I lean towards orientals, incense, chypres, leather and animalic fragrances. Some of the things I like make Sam say ‘Eurgh!’ and look at me as if I’ve left the house without my trousers. However, Sam likes some white flowery things that make me go ‘yikes!’ and feel like I’m a drag queen.
Some things we both love, like vintage Miss Dior. Oh, I love vintage perfumes, too. Partly this is because they can be so much cheaper on ebay, partly because things I bought years ago now count as vintage because they date back to before the IFRA made companies reformulate perfumes to reduce possible allergens. (They’ve done it a couple of times now. The IFRA are not my friends.)
So – what would you like to hear about? Vintage perfume? Scented toilet paper? My boundless love for the Yves Rocher Secrets d’Essences range? Please let me know, and I’ll do my best.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 Oasis, Far 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
As you may have noticed, I’m a die hard Avon fan and have written so many Avon reviews that I should get some sort of badge or professorship or something. What I haven’t mentioned much is how good the men’s fragrances are. The price point is kept low and yet quality is not compromised.
I’ve reviewed three of my favourites here, but there are many more worth a try, and even blind buys won’t break the bank.
Avon Attraction for Men
First of all, let’s clear this up. The male version of Attraction does not smell even remotely related to the female counterpart, which is a fruity floral with a patchouli base. Oh wait, hang on, there is patchouli in both male and female versions. Hold the phone. Right, but apart from that, Avon Attraction for Him is not similar, but that’s not to say it’s not good either. It is good. In fact, for the tiny price that Avon asks for it, it’s pretty damned good indeed.
Avon Attraction for Men opens with cardamom and ginger. There’s also juniper, which makes this smell a bit like gin, but that’s OK. After that, the clary sage came out. Now, I sometimes have a problem with clary sage as it does have a tendency to show its muscles to everyone, and I have to say, this is no exception. It’s kind of got a fougere thing going on, with bits of lavender and herb garden, only more medicinal. The clary sage kind of takes over and hits a peak before dying down into a clean, shaving foam style spicy skin scent with hints of clean musk. All in all, it’s quite an adventure for under a tenner. Lasting power is about four hours on my skin, longer on my husband’s furry forearm.
With thanks to the Avon PR team who sent me this with no conditions attached. Opinions are my own.
Avon Destination Grand Canyon
For a mere fiver, I bought this for my husband for Christmas. Reader, I had an ulterior motive. I wanted it for myself but couldn’t justify yet more bottles popping up on the old dressing table. Destination Grand Canyon is a fabulously woody, wood scent with lots of woody woodiness. What I love about this is that the almost ubiquitous violet leaf note that is inserted into so many mainstream masculines, is a no show here. You might know what I mean. Many over the counter male fragrances have a synthetic metallic tang in the base that can be very off putting. To me it reminds me of jangly tooth fillings. In Avon Destination Grand Canyon however, it is about sharp citrus (grapefruit) woods, and a hint of tangy patchouli musk in the base. Don’t forget the elemi, also used in cough mixture, but fabulous for giving a deep gravelly voice to woody scents.
Many Fragrantica readers have likened this to the legendary Hermes Terre D’Hermes, and my friends, they are right. Longevity is fabulous and the price is small. I shall be borrowing my husband’s Christmas present until it is all gone and he will need another bottle for Father’s Day.
Avon Elite Gentleman Weekend
Avon Elite Gentleman Weekend is a flanker to the pillar scent, Avon Elite Gentleman and was launched in 2016. It opens with the sharp fresh green scent of cypress- or conifer to you and I. If you’ve ever rubbed a bit of conifer between your hands and sniffed (and who hasn’t, right? It’s not just me is it?) you’ll know the sappy, sharp green scent I mean. There’s grapefruit too- surely the zingiest of all zingy notes. So far, so shower fresh. After that there’s a burst of fougere style lavender, and the faintly metallic tang of the ‘ole violet leaf.
The violet leaf is quickly blanketed with warm spicy cardamom which lines the way for a leathery labdanum finish. All in all, not bad at all, especially for the tiny price. I don’t know enough about male fragrances to compare this to anything, but I will say that it is easily as good as several male fragrances I have tried over the counter in The Fragrance Shop.
Elite Gentleman Weekend is overall a refreshing green scent, with a hint of lavender that calms down into leathery woods as the day goes on. Longevity is pretty good at four hours. Jamie Redknapp is the face of the scent.
With thanks to the Avon PR Team who sent me this with no conditions attached.
Over to you
How about you? Have you tried any Avon men’s fragrances? Does this post make you want to or have I put you off? Tell me about any male scent bargains I don’t know about yet!
You can buy all of these fragrances from Avon UK or from your Avon rep if you have one. Avon Destination Grand Canyon is currently not on Avon UK, but you can buy it from Amazon or eBay. At the time of publishing and or purchasing, prices were: £5 for Avon Destination Grand Canyon (brochure only), £7 for Avon Elite Gentleman Weekend and £11 for Avon Attraction.
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.)
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
The Perfume Society Improve your Sense of Smell Workshop
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’s Six- I join the ranks of hallowed predecessors and felt very flattered to be included in this legendary column.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are certain smells associated with Christmas that we don’t come across in the course of the ordinary year (i.e. the boring non-Christmas period). Now, I might be romanticising things here, but I have vivid Christmas memories of the exact smell of 1970s tinsel, the smell of roasting beef (we didn’t eat turkey) and Mum and Dad smoking all day. In the 1970s you were encouraged to smoke all day and anywhere you pleased. Unimaginable now, I know, but the scent of cigarettes always takes me back to the family home back where chocolate advent calendars hadn’t been invented and the internet was just a twinkle in the sky.
These days, any kind of foodie/boozy scent has me thinking wistfully of Christmas and I use it as an excuse to step outside my usual chypre scented comfort zone and into cosy, smoky gourmands. Basically, I want to smell good enough to eat.
Here are five fragrances that have me salivating around Christmas time. They are rich, evocative, wintry and absolutely delicious. Dive in with me. Sherry?
Zadig et Voltaire This Is Her
The plain white bottle from this achingly cool Parisian brand doesn’t look particular festive but it has dominant chestnut notes and lashings of whipped cream. This is an unusual fragrance, but I like it because of that. They could have played it safe but no, they thought they’d confuse our brains with jasmine and chestnuts and whipped cream and cashmere wool and pink pepper and, did I say whipped cream? It sounds confusing but I promise you, this scent really works and I could happily plough through a whole bottle, and the body lotion and candle too. You can find it here.
4160 Tuesdays Captured by Candlelight
With overtones of Cluedo and Agatha Christie in the intriguing title, this fragrance smells as Christmassy as a tangerine in the bottom of your pillow case. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a Christingle service, but it reminded me vividly of that. What happens is that children attend a simplified Christmas service in a church (an old one for preference) and each child is given an orange with a candle embedded in it. Jutting out of the orange are cocktail stick with little Haribo gummy sweets on. Combine the old wood of church pews with the orange, the sweets, the candlelight and the flask of Baileys you have in your bag, and you’ve got Captured by Candlelight. Check it out here on the 4160 website, which is dangerously tempting at this time of year.
Christmas isn’t Christmas without some sort of marzipan encounter. Hypnotic poison allows you to carry that scent around on your skin. With rich, boozy vanilla and thick, rich almonds, Hypnotic Poison is hard to beat, and very long lasting. By the way, just holding the pumpkin shaped bottle feels like magic. I keep thinking its going to turn into a tiny coach at midnight. You can buy it here.
Hermes Elixir des Merveilles
The nose behind Hermes Elixir des Merveilles is none other than legend Jean Claude Ellena. Famous for his blending, which is often described as having the delicacy of a watercolour painting, Elixir des Merveilles is a gourmand that has the kind of mouth-watering appeal that never feels too rich for a second helping. To my nose, this smells like caramelised oranges, but without any stickiness. Imagine a crème brûlée with slightly seared bitter orange fruit. I’m not usually a fan of gourmands, except at Christmas, obvs, but this one has me drooling with undisguised avarice. You can buy it here.
Yves Rocher Bourbon Vanilla
Never let it be said that I don’t cater for all budgets. This cheap and cheerful vanilla scent from trusty Yves Rocher stopped me in my tracks and made me check the price again. Twice. This is a rich, golden vanilla scent that smacks of boozy vanilla liquor, rather than the more commonly found synthetic cupcake note that sometimes poses as vanilla. Not, this one, though, No Sir. Yves Rocher Bourbon Vanilla will make everyone ask what you are wearing. Even the most curmudgeonly perfume resister will be unable to stop sniffing you. Don’t blame me. Blame Yves Rocher! Oh, and the price? My 30ml bottle was the princely sum of £3.99 five weeks ago.
How about you?
What will be wearing this Christmas? Something cosy? Something new? Do you always wear the same fragrance at Christmas? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.