Category Archives: High Street perfumes

Dior Poison: If Darth Vader Was A Woman…

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Dior’s Poison blazed the trail for outrageous 80s scents that everyone still remembers.  They typified the 80s era of greed, glitz and excess. You were nobody unless you had shoulder pads, stilettos, and a mobile phone the size of a house brick. The mantra was “More is More” and Poison added it’s volume to the  clamour of noise to ensure anyone who wore it made an entrance.

Some perfumes are born a myth. Provocative and mysterious since its creation, Poison is Dior’s ultimate weapon of seduction.

Meanwhile, many people were wrinkling their noses at this confusing cacophony of perfume notes that were the olfactory equivalent of entering a nightclub whilst watching a television show and listening to music at the same time.

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photo:Wiki

Sometimes I can look at the notes in a perfume and ascertain whether I would like it or not.  This is not a substitute for trying it on skin, but it often helps me make a list of future Must Tries.

If you look at the notes in Poison, it would still be hard to imagine what it smelled like.  Smelling is believing. There’s Plum, Booze, Amber, Patchouli, Jasmine, Roses, Woods, Honey, Incense, Tuberose, Carnation, the kitchen sink, a cuddly toy, a coffee maker and Uncle Tom Cobley and all. I could go on. I can usually smell a hint of Liquorice too.

Poison will swallow up all  its rivals. In a room of a dozen different perfumes, you would only be able to smell the Poison wearer. It obliterates and dominates. Longevity is as long as a prison sentence and harder to reduce.

However, I will go against the grain and say it’s brilliantly done.  It captures an era in a bottle more effectively than a spell. It takes me back to being 15 years old and watching Joan Collins strut her stuff on Dynasty, whilst over on BBC, JR was pouring himself a large Scotch in the middle of the day, and on the news, Diana was all coy glances and dazzling gowns.  One whiff of Poison and I am there.

The bottle is like Cinderella’s pumpkin: full of dark magic.  I don’t want to smell like this, but I am so glad they made it.

Marks and Spencer Florentyna White Flowers: A Lily, Ungilded.

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I tried this yesterday on my travels, and I was very impressed with it.  At its highest price, it is only 6.50GBP for a 30ml bottle, but the current sale means that a gift set containing a 30ml EDT and body lotion is only 4.75 today (see website or your local store, but hurry!).

It does what it says on the tin.  It is white flowers and nothing more, nothing less, but it is done very well.  It opens with unmistakable Lily, which sidesteps its occasional tendency to go all Image

vegetable soup on me,  and is enhanced by the addition of pretty orange flower and jasmine.  That’s about it really.  There’s no fancy allusions or long lists of aspirational base notes or middle notes.  It’s a clean, white scent that lingers for around four or five hours and is very feminine.  There is a hint of posh white soap in there somewhere too, which , as a fan of posh white soap, I never object to.

For a clean, inoffensive daytime Lily scent, this is the cheapest I’ve seen.  The price tag is deceptive: you could pay a lot more for lower grade tat elsewhere on the High Street.  This is classy and damned good.

Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl: Worth Taking Seriously

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First of all, the creator of Tommy Girl is a legend in her own right. Calice Becker is the creator of Balmain Vent Vert,  Dior J’Adore,  Estee Lauder Beyond Paradise (which automatically makes Luca Turin one of her greatest fans), and a whole stable of Killians, to name but a few.

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photo by fragrantica.com

And yet Tommy Girl has a reputation for being popular with teenage girls.  It’s very much a must have within certain age groups, and I should imagine many a sixth form common room has been much improved by Ms Becker’s fragrance.

 Tommy Girl is a refreshing change from many young fragrances in that it is invigorating and effervescent rather than overly sweet. Opening notes are citrussy and refreshing, but they deftly sidestep the temptation to wander into Davidoff Cool water or Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey territory.

This is achieved by the right balance of floral preventing this from becoming aquatic.  There is refreshing Grapefruit, but also Magnolia.  There is sharp Lemon and Mandarin, but also Roses to tone it back down again. Violet, Honeysuckle and Camellia keep it young and pretty without going over to the Twee side.

The only note I take issue with is the alleged Leather in the basenote, which I did not get at all.

This is everything light and refreshing and youthful, but at the end of a long day, you still get some faded florals clinging prettily to your skin. A bargain, and possibly a modern classic.

Stockists

Tommy Girl is available from www.Boots.com or www.allbeauty.com and is usually well under £20.

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Calvin Klein Downtown: For Bright Young Things

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This is a recent launch for Calvin Klein (September 2013) and it is intended for the young.  In which case, it is ideal.  Calvin Klein Downtown  caters for the current youthful preference for sweet, berry like fragrances.  However, it (thankfully) holds back from the ubiquitous Vanilla Bazooka that is blasted hither and thither today, and produces a decent enough daytime scent.

Reading the top notes of Lemon, Bergamot and Plum, I would have expected a fruitier opening, or at least a citrus opening, but it was sweet in a milky Vanilla way, like white chocolate.  Interestingly, Vanilla is not listed as a note, but the sweetness certainly hints at its shadow. Middle notes are Gardenia, Pink Pepper and Patchouli, but I found these notes indistinct and wouldn’t have guessed from a blind sniff.

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A few hours later and I’m sniffing my arm again.  It’s now become a milky musk, not a million miles from Just Cavalli.  Oh wait!  Here’s a faint hint of Gardenia. Better late than never.

As a scent for the young, it is a toned down version of all the fruity floral vanilla horrors I have previously reviewed (Taylor Swift I’m looking at you).  I wouldn’t wear it myself, but then, at 43, it wasn’t made for me. However, as a blessed relief  from the overuse of heavy handed ingredients currently en vogue, it fits the bill.

I found it a little non-descript, and borderline gourmand, but sometimes that’s better than “get out of the lift, she’s doused herself in that stuff again”.

Stockists

The price is reasonable at under £30 for 50ml of EDP on Amazon UK or you can find it on allbeauty.com. The face of the fragrance is the beautiful Rooney Mara.

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Taylor Swift Wonderstruck: I Am Never, Ever, Ever Going to Buy You

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I was in two minds about reviewing Taylor Swift Wonderstruck as I thought I may risk repeating myself.  However, I suffered the wearing of it for a whole day so you’re all going to suffer with me. (insert spooky villain’s laugh here)

 Here’s the repetitive bit:  Why oh why do so many modern, low priced fragrances smell like an explosion in a candy floss factory?  This has been done so many times that I cannot pick out one single aspect of Wonderstruck that makes it different from any other fruity floral over-vanilla-ed modern scent.  It smells similar to Beyoncé Heat, Beyoncé Midnight Heat, Aquolina Pink Sugar, Britney Spears Midnight Fantasy, Juicy Couture, Kylie Minogue Showtime and many others.

Top notes are: Freesia, Blackberry, Raspberry, Tea and Apple Blossom

Middle notes are: Vanilla, Honeysuckle and Hibiscus

Base notes are: Sandalwood, Amber, Peach and Musk.

At least that’s the official line.  What you actually get is cloyingly sweet Red Berries, Peach and Vanilla. And then more Vanilla. And some Sugar and more Berries.

We have been here before to the point of tedium.  I would like to say it’s lazy perfume making, but the sad fact is that this stuff is selling.  As long as people are buying it, our calls for a change will be drowned out by the clamour for candy floss.

I did notice a tide of change recently when the Fragrance Shop Discovery Box contained a leather chypre (Loewe Aura)and a good powdery lime (Boss Jour Pour Femme), so there is hope.  In the meantime, I am just waiting for the pink tidal wave to go back from whence it came.

Taylor Swift Wonderstruck?  Nice bottle. If you like that sort of thing.

Guess Seductive: Vanilla, We Are O.V.A.H

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 Guess Seductive smells so generically of the recent fad for vanilla florals that it is almost as if someone invented one scent that summed up all the others as an example of its time.  Imagine a perfume museum of the future. Visitors want to smell what was all the rage between around 2007 and 2013. “Smell this” says the curator of the Perfume Museum Of My Dreams “it’s like a mixture of all that was bad back then, whisked together into one bottle. If you smell this, you won’t need to smell the others”

 Guess Seductive opens with fruit: namely Pear, Blackcurrant and allegedly Bergamot (there was NO Bergamot and I can always seek it out). Pear can work on its own, in moderation. Blackcurrant can be pleasantly sharp and clean.  Mix them together and you have overly sweet Pear and Blackcurrant cordial: undiluted and sticky.  If you look up, all will go dark as the giant Vanilla Bulldozer wipes out the light from the sun and renders you unable to smell anything but sticky fruit and tooth achingly sweet synthetic Vanilla.  We are talking cheap Vanilla essence from the home baking aisle, not the seeds from a good vanilla pod that can occasionally be used for the good (sparingly. SPARINGLY!).

Whilst your nose begs for mercy, the cheap fake white flowers come out in all their plastic glory, like a tawdry, gold digging bride.

At just under £15 for 30ml, this is money badly spent. I hope I have saved you the trouble. I am so glad I tried before I buyed. (NB I know that’s bad grammar, but it rhymes).

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Marc Jacobs Daisy: The Ubiquitous Daisy

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Marc Jacobs Daisy has been a steady bestseller since its launch in 2007. With its distinctive bottle, it was the scent that launched countless flankers. Trying it today, it reminded me very strongly of Chanel Chance Eau Tendre.  I can barely tell them apart in fact. Both scents are pretty, subdued, and overtly feminine.  Both make inoffensive office wear and both would suit a young girl starting on her perfume odyssey.

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I was initially sceptical when trying it, since it really does smell ubiquitous and overly familiar: a victim of its own success. However, the violet and violet leaf won me over slightly, which stopped me disliking this. The violets come out almost immediately, followed by muffled grapefruit.  That is to say the grapefruit isn’t sharp and citrus, more subdued and covered by white flowers.  The gardenia comes out alongside the violet, and the base is a pleasant melange of pale woods and violet leaf.  All in all, it’s light and pretty and feminine, but my problem is its popularity.

Maybe I’m being a terrible snob (although if you saw my many cheapo scent bottles, you might not agree). However, both Daisy and Chance Eau Tendre are everywhere right now, even in Winter and whilst I sometimes like a pretty floral, this doesn’t break any barriers down for me, but then again, it wasn’t meant to.  I’d rather smell this than  a fruity-chouli rent-a-scent, but then again there are lots of others things I’d rather smell than this.  Eleven out of ten for the pretty bottle .

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Estee Lauder Private Collection: The Ultimate Evergreen

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Precious and quite rare…like a gathering of flowers, green leaves and spices from your private greenhouse.

Reader, I think I am in love again. If you could see my dressing table (modest by blogger standards) you would see immediately that greens are my thing. Recently I have tamed my greedy impulse to try on five scents at once and go home muttering that everything smells the same.  These days I’m a one scent woman, at least at the counter (at home I practice perfume promiscuity), and thus I came to really know Estee Lauder Private Collection.

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To say it is Green would be an understatement. Bring it on, I say.

As soon as it goes on, it reminds me of the woody base left when O de Lancome has settled down, yet it effervesces as it lands on your skin.

Lemon and Bergamot keep this brisk, and there is a powdery note that arrives after an hour.  This just makes it more wonderful and establishes its status as a classic.  The end is a green, mossy dream, where the green, citrus notes lighten it up whilst it dries down into its woody patchouli finish, like expensive rough green tweed that you just want to keep forever.

I didn’t get the  promised heliotrope, nor the chrysanthemums (thank goodness- I don’t even like them in real life!), but to me this is a masterpiece for green lovers.  Indeed, Mrs Lauder kept it to herself until 1973, but I am very glad she chose to share it.

Longevity is good on my skin: around eight hours and I could NOT stop sniffing it.  My coat sleeve still bears witness several days later and I won’t be getting it dry cleaned anytime soon.

This has made it onto my Top Five  Wish List, (which is almost impossible to whittle down).  It would suit any season, any occasion, and I want ME to smell like THIS all the time.

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Avon Rare Diamonds: I’ll Let You Into a Secret

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As I have written before, Avon fragrance used to be hit and miss. At one point I stopped ordering fragrance from them after one disappointment too many. Things have picked up however.  I recently ordered Rare Diamonds and I might just have stumbled across an Avon treasure (along with Avon Premiere Luxe, which is also pretty good- see my earlier review).

Rare Diamonds is at the end of a pyramid of “If you like that, you’ll love this”.

If you like Narciso Rodriguez for Her, you’ll like Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely (which I own and rate very highly).  If you like Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely, you will probably like Avon Rare Diamonds. This list is also in order of price.  Narciso Rodriguez is around  50GBP for 50ml. SJP Lovely is  a bargain at under 20GBP for 100ml (try Fragrance Direct) and finally, my bottle of Rare Diamonds set me back 6GBP for 50ml of EDP.

Rare Diamonds opens with strong florals in Gardenia, Jasmine and Plum Blossom, bedding down into a rich Woody Patchouli base, tinged with Amber. Thankfully, the promised Guava was absent (why did they even think it would work here?). Staying power is around four hours, and sillage is about arms length but it dies down into a more subtle pleasant aura after a while.

All in all, for six quid you can’t go wrong. The bottle is pretty too, with a faux Diamond stopper and a round glass base. My beauty bargain of the month!

Stockists:  You can buy Avon Rare Diamonds from your Avon rep or online at AvonShop UK

Body Shop White Musk Smoky Rose: Less Than I Hoped For

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I tried The Body Shop White Musk Smoky Rosetoday on my travels and was so attracted to the idea of the name that I asked the staff to open  a new tester, since the existing one was empty: a sure sign of the interest surrounding it.

When I first sprayed it, and when it was still wet, I could smell nothing at all.  When it dried, I could smell a faint hint of Musk, and , would you believe it? Caramel. If there are Roses I can’t smell them.  If they is a smokiness, it manifests itself as the smokiness you get from burnt sugar, or the bottom of a crème caramel.

Image This is pretty popular and has a good fanbase, but I think that’s because vanilla based gourmands seems to soar in popularity around Wintertime.  I love the idea of Smoky Rose, and I’ve always been a fan of TBS White Musk, so you would think this would be a winner. A smoked rose sounds so delicious in winter, but it wasn’t to be.  Sillage is very faint: close to skin straight away.  Longevity is so far two  hours, but faint.

I would love to get the Tobacco Flower, Roses, Frankincense  and Blackcurrant that I was promised, but for some reason this smells like heavily diluted White Musk with a Caramac bar rubbed over the top.

A great idea, poorly executed. Worth a try though, it might smell different on you. Incidentally, The Body Shop online works out much cheaper than buying instore. Sniff instore, buy online.