There were several reasons why I was not expecting to even like Cartier Baiser Fou, but blow me down if the little madam didn’t bowl me over and cover me in kisses, filling me with avarice for a full bottle.
Reasons I didn’t think I’d like this:
I wasn’t keen on Cartier Baiser Volé,
The box and lid is red and pink so I thought it would smell of candy floss.
It contains raspberries, white chocolate and vanilla, so I assumed it would smell like an ice cream sundae.
Reader, I was wrong. So very, very wrong. I’ll tell you exactly what Cartier Baiser Fou smells like. Back in 2001 I found myself in Duty Free at San Francisco Airport with some unspent dollars. I was a one scent woman back then and was fully stocked with Chanel Cristalle, so decided to buy myself a posh lipstick for the first time ever in my life. It was a YSL Lipstick and it smelled and tasted of roses, violets and strawberries with that powdery waxy lipstick finish.
That, my friends, is exactly what Cartier Baiser Fou smells like.
The notes are: raspberry, orchid, white chocolate and vanilla, but this smells like that delicious expensive lipstick years ago and makes me feel marvellous when I wear it.
This is yet another case where I prefer the flanker to the original. It’s fruity and playful yet grown up and classically powdery. To my surprise, it was not at all tooth achingly sweet. Cartier Baiser Fou reminded me to stop reading the notes and start using my nose.
Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever thought “I’m going to hate that!” and ended up loving it? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
My dears, I returned from the Jasmines only yesterday and it has taken until now for me to process the explosion of glamour and excitement that happened to me.
It was a thrill to receive that first email from the Fragrance Foundation back in January, letting me know I had been shortlisted. Since then, it has been the biggest event in my calendar.
But What Fragrance to Wear?
I wasn’t too worried about what clothes what to wear, although I had a last-minute lingerie malfunction which meant I ended up looking like I was going for a job interview in an undertaker’s. Still, wearing black all the time never hurt Margot Fonteyn or Edith Piaf (is what I keep telling myself). The biggest problem I had was what scent to wear? That one kept me awake for a while, I can tell you. *
The Awards were to be hosted at Bafta, and due to its early 8.45 am start, I had to come up the night before. I stayed in a hotel near the most beautiful station in the world, St Pancras. This was rather handy since there was a large branch of Pret a Manger in St Pancras station. We don’t have Pret in Wales (violins) so, it’s my eatery of choice when I’m back in the Big Smoke.
The Big Day Arrives. I’m All a-Quiver!
Being a swot, I arrived in Piccadilly an hour early on the morning of The Jasmines and made use of a nearby Costa (This is why London is never cheap when I visit). I was as nervous as if I was going to a job interview. As a natural introvert, networking makes my armpits prickle, but perfume people are outrageously lovely, as was the case later on.
Crossing the Bafta threshold was a thrill. Seeing the big gold mask on the wall and seeing uniformed doormen made my heart go all fluttery.
When I arrived, there was a huge floral centrepiece with scented rose petals a-wafting through the air, along with coffee and posh pastries (sorry for the food writing. I’m really hungry). My nerves left me as conversation began to flow.
Here I am, Name Dropping
At one point, I shook hands with a dapper looking Roja Dove. Yes, he was wearing silk slippers, and no, he hadn’t heard of my blog.
I was delighted to see the impossibly glamorous Suzy Nightingale again, and chuffed to beans to meet one of my sheroes, Jo Fairley of The Perfume Society. I have been reading Jo’s writing since the year 2000 and never thought I would be acquainted with her in real life. I also met lovely Penny from The Perfume Society, but it was in the Ladies Toilets so we didn’t get to chat more, sadly. The Perfume Society is my mothership.
I had a lovely surprise when I saw perfume guru Nick Gilbert and perfumer Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays arrive. I wasn’t expecting them and I was over the moon to see familiar faces. An added bionus was that I also got to meet the delightful Marina Barcenilla, who I wrote about only last week.
If I tell you that Sarah McCartney was wearing colour block fortuny pleats with dragon fins on, would you believe me? She was and she pulled it off, although rumour has it she startled a dog earlier in the day: and comedian Jeremy Hardy, but that’s another story.
The Big Moment
At 9.30am we were ushered into the awards room. There was a big screen and a stage at the front, where the judges and hosts were seated. The category I was shortlisted for was the “Best Digital Experience” award for my article about Mandy Aftel’s Memento Mori. I had stiff competition, and was honoured to be among them. Thomas Dunckley, aka The Candy Perfume Boy won, and deservedly so.
Thomas is a gifted writer who manages to combine unimpeachable expertise with wit and warmth. He won two in total, leading me to ask him to please start writing badly in order that I may have a chance one year. He gallantly agreed, but reader, I think he is incapable of writing badly.
There were many winners that morning, and all of them deserving and worthy of the beautiful Lalique awards. What struck me most, however, was the atmosphere. It was friendly, celebratory and warm. The perfume world has people from all walks of life, including a mum of two from Cwmbran who grew up in a council house (ahem), and Roja Dove.
Earl Grey at Simpson’s
I felt deeply honoured to be treated to a pot of Earl Grey at the former Simpson’s on the Strand by perfumer extraordinaire Sarah McCartney, Sarah is fantastic company and so curious about the world and the people in it.
We were joined by another very talented perfumer, Ruth Mastenbroek. I tell you, I was not ignorant of the privilege this affords to a perfume blogger and I felt quite tongue tied despite them both being engaging and lovely.
They did lose me when they started talking about parabens, but I was thinking “Wow, look at me. With them. Up here!” We were also, by pure coincidence, just a few tables away from comedian Jeremy Hardy. Sarah had bumped into him a total of four times that day and I can promise that none of it was planned, officer.
Like the best dreams, the bubbles popped and by 3.15 I was back in Cwmbran collecting my son from school, wondering what to make for tea and thinking “This is what Pam Ewing must have felt like when Bobby got out of the shower” It couldn’t have been a dream. It felt too real.
My dear chums, I am financially poorer after the hotel and train bill, (and Pret and Costa) but I don’t think I have ever felt richer or luckier. Thank you to the Fragrance Foundation for letting me experience such an unforgettable day.
*My SOTD was Sandalwood Sacre by le Jardin Retrouvé.
And the Winners are…
Best Digital Fragrance Experience
‘Six Scents to Put Hairs on Your Chest’ by Thomas Dunckley for The Candy Perfume Boy
Jasmine Literary Award
‘Every Scent Tells a Tale’ by Joanne Harris for Good Housekeeping
Best Digital Article on Fragrance
‘A Scent for Self-Appreciation’ by Lizzie Ostrom for The Pool
Jasmine Soundbite (News Press) ‘Smells Like Tom Hiddleston (I Wish)’ by Lesley Thomas for The Times
Jasmine Visual Award
‘A Perfume Paints a Thousand Words’ by Jan Masters (words & creative) and Roberto Greco (creative) for Harrods Magazine
Best Article in a Consumer Magazine ‘The Wearing of the Green’ by James Craven for Les Senteurs
Most Creative Visual Award
‘All of a Quiver’ by Jan Masters (words) and Rebecca Baio, David Newton & Barney Pickard (creative) for Harrods Magazine.
Jasmine Soundbite (Independent)
‘Eau so Masc – Thoughts on Gender in Perfumer & the Rive Gauche Rebellion’ by Thomas Dunckley for The Candy Perfume Boy
Jasmine Rising Star Award
‘2017 – The Year of the Milk Notes’ by Lauren Crabran for Scents Blog
Jasmine Soundbite (Magazines)
‘Midnight Garden’ by Jan Masters for Harrods Magazine
Jasmine Independent Literary Award
‘Scenting my Mental Illness’ by Laurin Taylor for Basenotes
Jasmine Soundbite (News Press)
‘Smells Like Tom Hiddleston (I Wish)’ by Lesley Thomas for The Times
Best Practical Guide to Fragrance
‘The Top Ten Niche Fragrances Every Beginner Should Sample’ by Clare Vukcevic for Basenotes
I have in front of me The Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box. I’ve spoken of these little boxes before. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve missed one since they first began.
The Modern Classics Box is a must for anyone on their first foray into fragrance. Even if you’re not, it’s great to have the classics at your fingertips, and classics they are: each and every one.
I’m going to be reviewing some of these in more detail soon, but in the meantime, here’s the list of what’s in the box:
Yardley Contemporary Classics English Freesia
I’m a big fan of florals, and Yardley, bless ‘em, have been doing florals for generations. They do them very well, and Freesia is no exception. I have a whole bouquet of Yardley scents on my dressing table: April Violets, English Rose, English Lavender, Bluebell, and after today, it looks like a full bottle of Yardley Freesia won’t be far behind.
Cartier Baiser Fou
This new scent from Cartier is worlds apart from the original and far more sober Baiser Vole. Cartier Baiser Fou (crazy kiss) smells like lipstick kisses, strawberries and milky bar. I didn’t think I was going to like it, as it sounded too sweet for me, but actually I was completely charmed by it.
Flower by Kenzo
I wasn’t sure if I knew this one, until I sprayed it and realised “Oh! THAT’S Kenzo Flower!” It’s baby powder, wet wipes, fluffy towels and innocent flowers. I’ll be reviewing this one in more detail soon.
Marc Jacobs Daisy
Both ubiquitous and glorious, this light, airy crowd pleaser will never go out of fashion, and its not just because of the delightful toy town flower bottles. See my review here.
L’Occitane Terre de Lumiere
A stunning summer scent from L’Occitane with notes of lavender honey, bergamot and a warm base of almond and tonka. This makes me want to lie in the sun with a straw hat on and be very, very indolent.
Angela Flanders Columbia Rose
Columbia Road in achingly cool Shoreditch is the scene of the famous Columbia Road Flower Market every Sunday, when the street is filled with greenery and botany and petals and buds. Worth visiting for the scent alone, it’s little wonder that perfumer Angela Flanders saw fit to open her shop here.
This is how roses used to smell before factory farming chased the old-fashioned scent away. There’s something slightly earthy about it too, thanks to the patchouli and amber in the base. This is patchouli with rough edges and it complements the centrifola rose like Mellors complemented Lady Chatterley.
Illuminum White Gardenia Petals
This scent of green notes and heady white gardenia may well be my absolute favourite from the box. As worn by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge on her wedding day, this beautiful fragrance is right up my street, even if I can’t quite compete with Catherine’s untouchable glamour. I’ll be reviewing it in more detail very soon.
Narciso Rodriguez for her EDP
This beauty has been a classic since its launch. NR For Her was created by the ultimate dream team of Christine Nagel and Francis Kurkdjian and I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t smell wonderful in it, including me! You can read my review here.
Philosophy Renewed Hope in a Jar Eye (lotion tube)
I don’t know what this is like yet, but buy the sound of the name, I need it BADLY. After squinting at computer screens and phone screens, and being tormented by hay fever and contact lenses, my forty-seven-year-old eyes need all the help they can get. I’m fifty in three years’ time but I don’t want to look like I am!
Minnies Literally Lovely Shimmering Body Lotion.
A sachet sized treat that is going in my overnight bag. Possibly too glamorous for the school run, but I’ll be spoiling myself with this next time I get away from it all.
As usual with Perfume Society Discovery Boxes, there are scent sniffing strips and handy postcards with discussion prompts and facts about each item. All the goodies come in a smart white gift box with the Perfume Society Logo on. They make excellent gifts for your friends or for Mothers Day, but I’m not giving mine away!
These boxes are exclusive to The Perfume Society, and cost £17.50 each or £12.50 if you are a VIP subscriber. My box was kindly sent to me by The Perfume Society. Opinions are my own.
Two weeks ago, I invited you to send me your perfume problems. This week a dear friend of the blog, Cassieflower, came to me with the following problem. Reader, I share her pain. It hurts when a favourite is reformulated or discontinued . Cassieflower, you are not alone!
Dear Aunty Sam,
I hope you, or indeed some of your readers, can help. My all-time favourite perfume is Fidji by Guy Laroche, and even though this can still be found cheaply on lots of sites it really is only a shadow of its former self. I used to wear it in parfum strength but nowadays the only offering is edt, and that just don’t cut the mustard with me. Any suggestions for a replacement would be most welcome. Pleeeze and fankoo
Firstly, you have excellent taste. That’s a given. Guy Laroche Fidji is quality stuff. I had a bottle back in the 80s and it was green and gorgeous and landed me compliments. Unfortunately, reformulations are so very widespread, as we know. There’s a whole support group for traumatised fans of original YSL Opium, or at least there should be.
I went out today and tried Fidji in my local Perfume Shop to jog my memory. It is indeed far weaker than I remember it. However, it reminded me of two perfumes. The first is Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps. Fidji is almost a greener flanker to L’Air du Temps. Both have the orris root, carnation, iris, violet, spices, oakmoss and aldehydes. The second scent that Fidji reminded me of is Clinique Calyx. It’s not as close a match, but Calyx has the transparent greenery that Fidji has, albeit with a touch more tropical/botanical fruit going on.
As for Fidji itself, it does seem to be widely available in eau de toilette form and not much else. The only advice I can offer is drench yourself in the EDT in summer and break out the L’Air du Temps eau de parfum in colder weather. I promise you will always smell wonderful.
I also had a plea from reader Mia who has fallen in love with Maison Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540– and who can blame her? However with a hefty price tag, Mia is looking for something in the same vein that is slightly kinder on the old budget. Mia- you are singing my song! I’m having a very frugal March at the moment.
Dear Aunty Sam
Hello! I’ve fallen in love with Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540. Smells like warmed skin and caramel but 100000x better. I can’t stop sniffing my wrists and cooing sweet nothings to this scent when I’m wearing. Problem is, I can’t afford it atm. Any cheaper recommendations to tide me over? Thank you so much!
Thanks so much for writing in. You’re among friends here. Please help yourself to tissues. We’re used to traumatised perfume fans.
Baccarat Rouge 540 is indeed as lovely as you say, although it barely stayed on my skin at all. It was close to skin immediately after I sprayed and then poof! Gone.
I’ve been digging around on your behalf and I came across what I think is the best match. There is a company called Dua Perfumes who make a scent called Casino Royale. This has many notes in common with MFK Baccarat Rouge 540: notably saffron, mandarin, cedar and fir balsam ( actually pine in Baccarat, but same forest).
The bad news is that they are based in the USA. The good news is that there is a company in the UK called FragranceSamples UK who stock samples of other Dua perfumes, although not Casino Royale. I’m sure if you ask them nicely they could get some in. Sample prices are just over £11 for a generous 5ml sample, so not quite as spendy as Cap’n Kurk! You could also try Givenchy Pi, which has a similar herby orange opening and a muted gourmand base via almond and tonka notes.
Got a perfume problem? A scent situation? A fragrant foible?
Do keep sending in your questions. If I can’t answer them, I am sure helpful readers will be able to share their experience and knowledge too. We’re a lovely bunch.
Write your questions in the comments box below or email me on email@example.com. If you are very shy, I will even answer them privately. I’m nice like that.
Over to you
Do you agree with my answers? Would you add or change anything? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
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.
Perfume people won’t have failed to notice that Guerlain has just launched its first new scent ( and thereby hangs a debate) since 2012. Mon Guerlain is fronted by the unfairly beautiful Angelina Jolie, and I reviewed it here.
I have an unused sample of Mon Guerlain ready to give to you . I used up all of my first one and haven’t touched this one at all. It’s only a little giveaway, but if you have had trouble getting hold of a sample, just leave a comment below or on FB and Twitter to win this one. If you’re not already following me on social media, please do join my little insta-twitter-book-lovin’ ramblings!
Earlier this week, I asked you to send me your perfume problems. I then chewed the arm of my glasses and looked studious, whilst reading them, just like a proper Mumsy Agony Aunt.
I was so pleased to get so many questions, some of which I answer below. Incidentally, I also see questions on my WordPress dashboard which tell me what people type into Google in order to be led to my site.
There are two questions that I see every single day without fail. Yes, my friends, the two most popular questions are:
What’s the best Avon perfume?
What cheap perfume smells good?
Now you may have noticed that these two particular questions have entre blog posts devoted to answering them. Nobody can accuse me of not giving my readers what they want.
With that having been said, here are some other questions that I received this week.
I am very grateful to all who sent me a Dear Aunty Sam question. I wish I could tell you that there’s a T-shirt and a mug on the way to you, but I can’t. I think I may repeat this experience in future, so please do send any questions as they occur to you. I’ll be your olfactory DJ.
Dear Aunty Sam,
Like you, I miss Gucci Envy and only have a little bit left. What can I wear instead when this runs out?
A good question and one to which I still seek an answer myself. We’ve asked the Why Did it End? question but the wind took our words away and no answer was given. Meantime, here are some that I find have some of the Gucci Envy notes in common, namely green notes, lily of the valley and hyacinth.
I’ve fallen in love with Yardley’s Polaire. But as ever with Yardley 20 minutes in and unless I’ve gone nose blind I can smell nothing at all. Is there something out there that smells the same, but with actual longevity and a bit more sillage?
I haven’t smelled Yardley Polaire recently so I’m working blind here. However, I notice that the prominent notes are pear, freesia and rose. There are two scents that also contain these notes. One is Dior J’Adore and the other is Elizabeth Arden Fifth Avenue ( although more freesia than pear) However, if you want to stick with Polaire, there are a couple of things you can do to extend its life.
What I usually do is spray my hair. Hair carries scent very well- usually until bedtime! However, some people claim this dries hair out. Secondly, and I’m going to talk boobs here, spray it in your cleavage before you get dressed. As your body heats up throughout the day, you get nice little wafts under your nose. You can also make scent last longer by moisturising skin before applying it. Don’t forget a quick spray on your lapels or scarf.
There is another theory, however. Some people say that when a perfume really suits you, you stop being able to smell it. This is so subjective that I find it difficult to prove, but there may be some truth in it. Maybe Polaire just really suits you!
Dear Aunty Sam
I have begun to make some fragrances. I have at least three that are absolutely delightful, unlike anything else I’ve ever tried. I really feel there’s a market for these, especially in this size, being affordable for almost everyone.
How do I go about getting someone to be willing to sell my fragrances in their shop (either online or not) or work with me in promoting mine?
Firstly, congratulations on your perfumes. I do love an entrepreneurial spirit. Secondly, before you sell them commercially, do they meet the necessary compliance? There are many perfume ingredients that have been banned by IFRA in order to ensure that scents do not cause rashes or reactions. Forgive me if I’m preaching to the converted- you may well already know this. Thirdly, have you tried Etsy? There are many beautiful handmade scents there and it strikes me as a good starting point.
I would really recommend one of the Studio days run by Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays. What she doesn’t know about making and selling perfume just isn’t worth knowing. You can find out more from the 4160 Tuesdays website. Oh, and in answer to your question about promoting your scent, my advice is, as you might imagine, harness the bloggers!
That’s all I’ve got room for this week. I hope you enjoyed my first brave fumble into the mailbag. Do you agree with my responses? Do you have any questions of your own? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
It’s finally here. The much hyped, much talked about new fragrance from Guerlain. Angelina Jolie makes such a perfect spokesmodel that you can’t help but wonder at the fact that this is her first fragrance campaign. Understandably, most of the campaigns that keep her busy have more altruistic ends, although she is donating her full fee to charity, which again, does not surprise me.
Strictly speaking, this isn’t a new fragrance, but a slightly edited version of Mon Exclusif, which I can’t comment on because I never smelled it.
In some ways, Mon Guerlain was a pleasant surprise and in other ways, it was a disappointment.
The pleasant surprise is the audacious use of lavender. This is a prominent note, even in the TV advert, where bunches of lavender are placed strategically around the pristine French country manor that an ethereal Jolie wanders around whilst wistfully smiling. It’s clearly not her real house as white walls and white sofas don’t exist when you have six children or teenagers.
Lavender has had an unfair press and is often written off as *shudder* “old lady”. I always eschew such terms. In fact, lavender has been used in gentleman’s colognes since the very early days of scent, and has been in use for pomanders since Elizabethan times. There’s nothing old fashioned about lavender. Old lady? NO. Classic and traditional- YES.
In Mon Guerlain the lavender lights up the top notes and makes it beautifully airy and lilac-like (lilacky?). I love how feminine it is. It has a cleanness and a purity that fits in with the floaty white dress Jolie is drifting about in during the advert. The bergamot and lavender combo that introduces Mon Guerlain was my favourite part.
The middle phase is fairly generic: the combo of jasmine sambac and vanilla has been done beyond cliché now, but if Guerlain are going mainstream, then that’s where they have to go I suppose.
However, (and if this were a personal appraisal, my tone of voice might indicate that you failed your probation), the lavender was not big enough to save this, at least for me.
I cannot argue with sales figures. I cannot deny that gourmands, especially of the caramel type, are not a raging success. La Vie est Belle is practically ubiquitous now and the tide shows no sign of being stemmed.
Mon Guerlain, is admittedly, an understated gourmand, but a gourmand it is. In fact, I’m confused. Lavender and food doesn’t really “go”. Even the Lavender Cupcakes made by my shero Nigella don’t really make my mouth water. In the last stages of wearing Mon Guerlain, what I got was pipe smoke. You know the smell of dried cherry tobacco in a tobacconist? You might not if you’re younger than middle aged me. It reminded me of unsmoked, unrolled rolling tobacco, with lavender and toffees in it.
So what’s my verdict? I think that Angelina will attract buyers, the lavender may repel or confuse younger palates, and the gourmand finish will attract them back if the lavender didn’t put them off. So, a bit of a hybrid, really.
Also: longevity- not good. Usually a 2ml sample lasts me around three days, but this went in 12 hours. Every drop has gone. this is probbaly because II kept having to reapply. It disappeared within about forty minutes.
I wanted to like this. I was open minded, but I just don’t. I hope it marks a fashion for a lavender come back, but other than that, I won’t be getting a full bottle.
Incidentally, although I happened upon a sales assistant opening the box of Mon Guerlain samples on 28th Feb, I saw no trace of this in my local House of Fraser today. Granted, it’s a small branch, but hmm. Naughty HOF.
“And you sip your Napoleon brandy, but you never get your lips wet”
I was recently sent a bottle of this by a dear friend of the blog, and of me, Rachael. For which, many thanks. Paul Smith Portrait was inspired by his love of travel and photography and Portrait is the result of a collaboration with Barnabe Fillion.
I was unsure what to make of Portrait at first, but the more I have worn it, the more I like it. My initial thoughts were of roses, and the rest came together later, like a jigsaw. The roses are restrained and demure, and stay neatly in their place. This is a very classy scent that never puts a foot wrong.
The rose note has been coaxed out of its tendency to dominate by the inclusion of bergamot and green tea. These classically green notes transorm the rose into an airy scent with a translucent feel. The middle notes add jasmine to the chorus, establishing this firmly as a green floral. In fact, the inclusion of the tea note made me think of Penhaligon’s Malabah.
In the base there nestles clean laundry musks and a hint of resin, although just a faintly spiced toe in the water, rather than fully formed spicy rocks and balsam.
Paul Smith Portrait is subtle, feminine and clean. It’s a gentle floral that will appeal to your girly side when you’re trying to tone down your inner tigress. Paul Smith Portrait For Women is that wide eyed face you pull when you say “Who me? How could you think it?”
Lately I have been asked many questions by people with queries about perfume. These vary from “what smells like…?” queries to “Where can I get…?” queries. It got me thinking, my friends. How about a little post that’s all about your perfume questions and queries?
Just email me or post your question below or on Twitter or Facebook and I will do my very best to answer them. You can even be anonymous if you like!
So, fire away. Do you want to know if there’s a smellalike to a long discontinued favourite? Does a newly reformulated favourite resemble an old one? Which are the best cheap and cheerfuls? Tell Aunty Sam your scented dilemmas. I’m all ears and all nostrils!