Category Archives: High Street perfumes

High Street Fragrance Shopping:The Thrill Of The Chase

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Great perfumes may be more accessible than you think. Niche is nice work if you can get it, but sometimes you want instant gratification ( and testers!) and that’s where your local High Streets and Retail Parks come in handy. Without a doubt,  the fragrance market is half drowned in  mainstream celeb-tastic fruity florals and foodie florals, but if you look carefully, you might just strike Gold (and I do not mean Paco Rabanne 1 Million *shudder*).

Argos is currently selling an excellent mini set of perfumes that contains Rumeur, Arpege, First, Paul Smith Extreme and C’est la Fete. You might now see why I have reviewed all five. They come in 5 ml mini bottles and I was excited to see at least three good quality names in there. This does not happen very often.  Mini sets usually have Anais Anais, a Ted Baker, and two others of no consequence.  Contents may vary slightly. Get it while its hot. Or before I buy them all, whichever is quicker.

Meanwhile, in Bodycare, you can buy a 100ml bottle of Grès Cabochard for a mere £8.99, (instore only) which often retails at twice that price even on eBay. Buy it if you like classic leather notes.  Superdrug usually has a range of fragrance special offers, plus lots of lovely testers, so pop in if you’re passing.  I’ve picked up several bargains there in the past, including Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Revitalize for ten quid.

I often pop into my local Perfume Shop and although there prices are not competitive, every now and then they have a bargain box to rummage through and there are random bargains to be had if you get lucky.

Don’t overlook your local Boots either:  the old time classics such as Tweed and Coty L’Aimant can be had for a song.

These are for UK stores only, but if you hear of any other bargains anywhere, I am all ears.

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Jovan White Musk: Get Your Coat, You’ve Pulled.

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Jovan really wants you to hook up with someone. If you are single, they will do their darnedest to put it right. Take a look at the website– a close up of two mouths about to slobber over each other. If you are a Kath and Kim fan then you’ll know what I mean by a Kath’n’Kel French kiss. They repeat  that their perfumes will attract the opposite sex. Let’s hear that again- their perfumes will attract the opposite sex. All you need is a bottle of Jovan anything and a large butterfly net. In fact Sex Appeal by Jovan is categorically designed to attract the opposite sex.  They’re not even subtle about it. It says on the websiteThis provocative, stimulating blend of rare spices and herbs was created by men for the sole purpose of attracting women” See? Shameless.

 So should Jovan be relegated to the nudge, nudge wink, wink slightly dated era of blind pheromone traps? Or should it be taken seriously as an affordable fragrance worth buying?

Well I am married and have no need to attract men (well, maybe just the one), but I can report that Jovan White Musk for Women is rather pretty and will certainly “do”. The Body Shop’s White Musk has long been a favourite of mine, maybe for twenty years now, and with good reason. It’s a flagship product that Body Shop customers just wouldn’t ever let them discontinue. I wondered if Jovan was up there with the Body Shop, so decided to seek out a bottle.  So just for a change and because the act of buying perfume is like a drug to me., (Whoops, tried not to actually say that aloud to myself) I picked up a bottle of this from my local High Street toiletries store (Okay it was Bodycare if you must know). In exchange for £6.15 I got a 59ml bottle of Jovan White Musk. It’s a “concentrated cologne” which makes me wonder what the difference is between an eau de toilette and a “concentrated cologne”. Not much I’ll wager.

When first sprayed, this is quite tangy with honeysuckle and jasmine and really smells best when it beds down a bit. The flowers warm it up and make it sweet rather than cold, but the best  bit comes in the drydown. Emitting a subtle soft musk waft as you move, this is an ideal office or daytime perfume. It’s cosy and feminine and cheap enough to carry around in your handbag to make up for its non fantastic longevity.

Its also great to use if you like layering scents. If something woody is too harsh, this can soften it. If Amber is too much for daytime use, you could back it up and calm it down with a spray of White Musk.

I can promise it will make you smell nice, but I can’t promise it will bag you a man. Still for £6.15, maybe it’s worth a shot for all you adorable singletons out there. (I feel I should play you a love song now). Please wear Jovan responsibly. You might have adventures.

Stockists

You can buy Jovan White Musk from allbeauty.com or Amazon UK. It’s well under a tenner. Bargain.

 

JustCavalli: Soft florals to die for

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Just Cavalli  one is hot off the press. Created by Nathalie Lorson (Boucheron Jaipur Saphir, Chloe Innocent) and Fabrice Pellegrin (Oriflame Paradise, Swarovski Aura), its refreshing to see a  new scent that isn’t a run of the mill fruity floral.

Top note is definitely the delicate Tiaré flower, with Rosewood in the heart, and, although its not listed, definitely Musk. Its light and feminine, but the Musk gives it a softness and resonance that keeps the flowers going a bit longer. It’s fresh and very slightly powdery, but makes me think of powdery snow rather than talc.

Due to be launched in Feb 2013, I was lucky enough to be given a sample of this in my local Perfume Shop. What sticks in my mind though was the look of surprise when I blagged them for my blog. “I write a perfume blog, and I’d love some samples if you have them,” I said. “Do you?” she asked with so much surprise I felt positively affronted. What’s wrong with being covered in snow, wearing wellies and a Parka and carrying a Bag For Life? Knackered parents can write perfume blogs you know! It was kind of an am dram version of that scene in Pretty Woman. I feel like going back there wearing Chanel Coromandel and saying “You work on Commission right? Big Mistake. HUGE” and wafting back out again.

Anyway, for the shocked looking ladies in my local Perfume Shop- you’re going to sell a lot of this.

 JustCavalli is rather lovely. How nice to find a pleasant floral that hasn’t been doused in fruits and cheap vanilla essence.

PS Not sure about the bottle design. Hmmm.

Swarovski Aura: For the Young and The Tasteless

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 Many perfumes have origins and a backstory that make the scent more interesting, even legendary. LouLou was inspired by the silent movie star Louise Brooks.  Guerlain Apres L’Ondée was inspired by the smell of a spring garden after a downpour, and Madame Grès created Cabochard after a trip to India where she discovered the beautiful scent of the Water Hyacinth.

 Swarovski Aura was inspired by a sparkly clutch bag.  I could just end my review here as it pretty much says what I think.

However, I’ll drag out this synthetic fruity floral in order to give you the full picture. In a faux alligator skin bottle, Swarovski Aura is a run of the mill fruity floral.  If you are fourteen and your duvet cover has The Wanted on it, you’ll love this. It’s very fruity.  Very floral. And you’ve smelt this a million times before.

Let’s just say, in fifteen years time, this won’t be changing hands on eBay. It will be long gone and not even missed. I hope.

This avalanche of smell-alike fruity floral scents makes me me wonder. Are they popular because people keep buying them? Or are they popular because nothing else is being offered right now? It’s like strapless wedding dresses.  Does everyone wear them because they are popular? Or does everyone wear them because that’s all the shops stock right now? It’s a vicious circle.

Swarovski, stick to the sparkly clutch bags.

Lancôme La Vie est Belle- La smell est belle as well

31GF44xVAlL._SL500_AA300_I first tried this latest offering from Lancôme as a squirt on my arm as I walked through my local department store. Julia Roberts is the face of the fragrance, and since she doesn’t do this kind of thing very often, I figured it must be a good product.

I’m more of a Green Notes person myself, and I generally dislike anything gourmand i.e foodie, unless it’s food. In other words, keep your vanilla and your tonka bean and your caramel and praline notes in Thorntons. I don’t want them on my dressing table.

Thus were my thoughts as La Vie est Belle dried down on my skin as I left the department store.

However, I think you have to wear a scent exclusively for a day at least before you really know it. I also think you have to not wear anything else that day (clothes being the obvious exception).

I have a 2ml sample of La Vie est Belle and that is just about enough, and no more, to wear it all day, and that is what I have done today.

Top notes are pear and blackcurrant, as listed on Fragrantica, but I got the vanilla and tonka bean immediately. In fact if you look at the Fragrantica page, you will see that actual users of the perfume vote praline and vanilla as the most prominent notes, beating the fruit and flowers into hefty submission.  Perhaps they too were overwhelmed with confectionery smells by the time they reached the double doors of House of Fraser.

Having dismissed it before and worn it all day, I have sort of changed my mind. There are more floral notes than I first realised, and it is really very pretty. I often roll my eyes at fruity floral, but this one ain’t bad.

My complaint is that it is kind of a mix up of everything. It’s fruity, with its pear and blackcurrant, it’s floral with its Iris and Jasmine, and its gourmand with its praline and vanilla. Just to spread it even more thinly among the crowd, its also Patchouli. Fans of Thierry Mugler Angel or Viktor and Rolf Flowerbomb might like it. It’s kind of a crowd pleaser, and it has indeed been well received. However, it made me go crossed eyed trying to categorise it.

It will has its fans, but the combination of patchouli and praline make it too much like Angel for me.  Pretty though.

LouLou? c’est moi.

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When it launched in 1987, Cacharel LouLou was a sellout. Its glamorously dark advertising campaign full of classy Louise Brooks images and its whisper of Bohemia  have made it a steady success for nearly 25 years. I recall buying it by the armful and wearing it by the bucketload as a goth-ish student in the late 80s and even now, whenever I wear it, it takes me back to those heady early years after leaving home and finding my way in the world.

LouLou seems to be loved and hated in equal measure, a bit like the ubiquitous Thierry Mugler Angel, yet it is highly rated by perfumistas, if not by early morning commuters.

So what does it smell like? It’s different for everyone but on me, the highest note at first spray is anise, followed by dark plum, blackcurrant, incense and tuberose. On paper, this may sound like a list, but it always makes me visualise some kind of Parisian nightclub in the 1920s. To me it’s a musky licorice, on others it’s vanilla and incense. It changes constantly throughout the day, although I still maintain it’s an evening scent, Oh, and do spare those early morning commuters, it’s way too much before cocktail hour.

The bottle is deliberately retro: it recalls Art Nouveau cinemas with their chunky and elegant towers and entrances. This is not surprising considering its muse was silent movie star Louise Brooks, star of Pandora’s Box, whose glossy chic bob started a phenomenon  Either way, it’s distinctive, and the thrill of buying the cellophaned box with its dark and naif flower motif has never left me.

I often find with LouLou that wearing it influences what I wear. Once I put it on, I have to wear black, with pillar box red lipstick. And I have to have adventures….