Category Archives: High Street perfumes

Chloe Original by Karl Lagerfeld 1975: A Seventies classic at Seventies prices.

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Chloe Original is not to be confused with the current Chloe with a bow around its neck. Chloe Original was created by Karl Lagerfeld in 1975 and is a little bit of a retro classic (although it was not called Original back then. The flotilla of remakes could not have been predicted).

Available for under 15GBP for 50ml (see below), this is easily obtained and a good use of anyone’s perfume budget.  When I first tried it, I found it cloying and too rich with no room to breathe.

However, fast forward a few years and my understanding of scent, and particularly Tuberose, persuades me that this is a very good perfume indeed, and a 1970s classic at that, worthy of standing shoulder to shoulder with its contemporary: Anais Anais.

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The most dominant top notes are Aldehydes (just in the beginning before they fade to powder), Peaches (sadly not a favourite) Honeysuckle and flowers galore. Even if Peaches are not your thing, and they’re certainly not my cup of tea, do bear with Chloe because after a while it turns into a Rose, Tuberose, Jasmine flowerfest with a little Sandalwood and Amber to round things off.

For some, the busy-ness of the many flowers may be de trop, but if you “get” or like Tuberose (they are not always mutually exclusive), then you have yourself a bargain. It is a warm, rich floral, as opposed to being a “fresh” floral or a light cologne floral.

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Longevity is very good at around eight hours, and the price is right too. You can find Chloe on Amazon for a mere 16.50 for 50ml, although I have seen it even cheaper in High Street stores such as Bodycare and Savers, should you be near a branch. I bought a bottle last year for 9.99 for 30ml in my local branch of Bodycare and they are still there.

I have a soft spot for Seventies perfumes and enjoy wearing them. It reminds me of the decade when I was a child and times seemed more simple.  When they are of good quality such as Chloe Original, it’s worth doling out a tenner for a blast from the past that has aged rather well.

 

 

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Michael Kors Very Hollywood: Very Gardenia

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 I underestimated Michael Kors Very Hollywood , seeing it for the first time in my local Asda in the bargain cabinet next to the ubiquitous bargain favourite: Elizabeth Arden Sunflowers.  However, when I got home, I unearthed a sample and tried it. Well, dear reader, I shall be returning to the Asda bargain shelf where this was a mere £15 for 30ml, and such a pretty bottle too.

My first thought after spraying was Tuberose, but it is in fact Gardenia, and a rather beautiful one at that.  There is fruit as well.  As you know, I am no fan of fruity floral accords unless we are talking citrus, but in between some “Frozen” Bergamot (pardon?) and some Mandarin, there sits a little Raspberry. However, the Raspberry is suitably reined in, preventing this from being too fruity floral/cookie jar.

Top notes are all about the fruit: Orange, Bergamot and Raspberry. A top note with too much fruit usually has me running for the hills and this one didn’t.  In fact, I would say the middle note of Gardenia comes through within minutes, followed by the Jasmine.  There are also middle notes of Orris Root and Ylang, neither of which I could discern, but maybe I didn’t want to to- so enchanted was I with the beautiful white Gardenia.

Basenotes are Amber ,Musk and Vetiver, all of which are present and correct and noticeable.  However, the Gardenia welcomes you in, shows you round and never leaves your side, reminding me of an over solicitous Elizabeth Taylor in white maribou.

All in all, the Raspberry shows just enough restraint to make me a fan, and that Jasmine/Gardenia combo is a knockout. The glitzy name covers up a rather gracious daytime floral.  Longevity could be better at around four hours, but spray clothes and hair for longer lasting power, and you’re all set for the day.

Fragonard Étoile: How Perfume Should Be

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 Fragonard provides everything I want from a perfume: Fantastic packaging, traditional scents unswayed by fleeting celeb fashions, good longevity and extremely good value for money.  Not so cheap I’m worried, but just expensive enough to reassure me.

 Fragonard Étoile is no exception when it comes to divine packaging. Just look at it.  I’d probably buy it even if it smelled horrible just to have that bottle in my possession.

 Étoile is in a Lime/White flowers mash up that smells like an expensive soap I once owned which was called French Lime and made both me and the bathroom smell amazing. The more Étoile blooms on my skin, the more I love it.

 Étoile has dominant Bergamot that works exceedingly well alongside Jasmine and Gardenia.  Gardenia can be a little cloying, like its friend Tuberose, but the Bergamot cuts through any cloying-ness and  lifts the white flowers from creamy to refreshing, even chalky, like wet cliffs. It’s utterly delightful and growing on me by the minute.

What I particularity admire about Fragonard is that despite their high quality and beautiful packaging, they offer very big refills at very good prices.  You can buy 600mls of Étoile for only 57Euros.  Compare to that many High Street scents and you have incredible Imagevalue.  My only concern is that if I did have 600ml of Étoile I would be splashing it everywhere, pouring it in the bath, and using it like Eau de Cologne, and then being sad because it would run out after a week. Sometimes small rations are best, so I would opt for the 100ml bottle, still a steal at under 30GBP.

If, dear readers, you can get yourselves down to Marks and Spencer, you can bag yourself Imagea 100ml EDT bottle for a mere £26.  You may see me in the queue with an overflowing basket. Oh! and have you seen the little sampler boxes? My dears! I’ll just have to tell my children that only one of them can go to university.  Did I say basket?  I meant trolley.

The Fragonard range is available at larger branches of Marks and Spencer and also online.

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Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Revitalize: My Treat of The Week

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 Yesterday I went into my local Superdrug to try out the testers by the till, as I often do.  I tried Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Revitalize, left the shop, did a U turn and returned to buy some immediately.

 I was pretty surprised, since I have gone off Elizabeth Arden as a brand, having been unimpressed by so many EA scents, and although I admire the classic Green Tea, I often find that a note of Tea smells too metallic for my liking.

However, wearing Green Tea Revitalize was a different experience altogether.  The first thought that went through my head was Clarins Eau des Jardins. It’s not quite as delicious, but it gives it a damn good run for its money.  It also reminded me of O de Lancome, only without the Mossy base.  It is similar to Clinique Happy with its Orangey Zzzing!  The price of Green Tea Revitalize was a mere £10GBP for a 100ml bottle (sadly I can’t see it online, but check out your local branch if you have one).  Now that’s what I call a bargain.

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Yes, it’s a bit cool outside for these delightful summery hesperides, but I was thrilled with my purchase. I never thought I would buy a Green Tea flanker, although I own and like Spiced Green Tea, with its peppery lightness.

Top notes in Green Tea Revitalize are: are Blood Orange, Watermint and Mandarin.  The Watermint thankfully sidesteps the peril of falling into the ozonic/aquatic category. The Oranges are present and correct.

Middle notes are Magnolia ( a favourite of mine), Lotus, Bamboo and Green Tea.  Last time I had Bamboo and Tea in a perfume, I couldn’t offload it quickly enough. I won’t mention any names, (Givenchy Eau Torride). However in Green Tea Revitalize the metallic Tea and Bamboo notes are softened by the lovely citruses and the soft Magnolia until they don’t give that silvery jarring effect anymore. Some perfumes make my teeth jangle such as White Linen and Chanel No 22 (The Perfumed Dandy will surely have the vapours again!). They are metallic and silvery to my nose.  I think there is a term for this but I can’t remember it, perhaps one of my knowledgeable readers knows?

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In any case, Green Tea Revitalize is my  bargain of the week and  despite my having to spray hair and clothes to keep it going (my scarf smells lovely), it was totally worth the ten pound note I handed over, spent within five minutes of coming out of the cash machine.  Plus it’s a  big 100ml bottle. What’s not to love?

Clarins Eau des Jardins: Summer In a Bottle

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Clarins Eau des Jardins is one of only a handful of fragrances that would cause me to blindly follow a stranger home until they named their scent to me.  It is utterly divine in its citrussy lightness.  Technically, like its sister Eau Dynamisante, it’s not  perfume at all, but a perfumed skin treatment, but put this on after a shower and spray on hair and  clothes for extra lasting power and you will smell incredible, guaranteed.

Impossibly clean and shower fresh, this scent is all about the citrus.  They’re all here like a basket from a market: Bergamot, Lemons, Oranges, Grapefruit. It’s all as light as a fluffy cloud and squeaky clean.  Just a few flowers, nothing heavy, a touch of Rose maybe, and then an alleged base note of Cedar, Vetiver and Patchouli.  I say alleged because this stays fresh and zingy on me and never ventures into the Autumnal Ooomph that Patchouli and Cedar can provide so well.

A hint of Mint and Bay, and all those thirst quenching fruits, and you’d be hard pushed to find anything more sparkling and  pretty.

Naturally, this is slightly out of season, but I felt compelled to review it alongside a bargain buy I had yesterday, which is in the same vein as this, and which, I felt, merited its own review, rather than a “smells like” mention.

If you ever want to persuade anyone that you are respectable, virtuous and as healthy as an apple from a tree, then wear Clarins Eau des Jardins. You will SO get the job.

 

 

Shalimar Parfum Initial EDP

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Image Sadly, I don’t get on with Shalimar.  I apologise to its fans. It’s not you, it’s me. On my skin it turns to Castrol GTX Engine oil. It’s not good.  However, despite the fact it doesn’t suit me, I do like the “rasp” and the “roughness” of it. Shalimar Parfum Initial was created in 2011 by Thierry Wasser who has a prolific Guerlain portfolio, including the previously reviewed La Petite Robe Noir EDT and EDP. Amusingly, the picture of him on Fragrantica (left) has him wreathed in cigarette smoke.

I was not expecting to like Shalimar Parfum Initial but the Sales Assistant at my local (small) Guerlain counter had laid out a whole load of free samples on the counter and then walked away. Old IScent brushed past with capacious handbag. I only took one.  OK. Two. All right then, I swiped four of them.  It’s love, I tell you.

Shalimar Parfum Initial is unusual in that it is both powdery and green at the same time. Before it has dried on my arm, it smells like a brand new ream of paper, but that impression dies away as it dries.  First impressions once it’s dried is of a Bergamot and Musk merger taking place, the combination of which really seems to work. Bergamot is one of my favourite notes so I was all nostrils a-quiver. However, this is no summer  lightweight.  Against the background of the refreshing but muffled Bergamot, there are delicious hearty Patchouli notes, with raspy Vetiver and pretty Jasmine and Rose.  The Rose is particularly dominant.

There is reportedly a caramel base in the note, but thankfully I cannot detect it.  I get disappointed when a scent I am enjoying goes all sweet shop on me, but that doesn’t happen here.  Shalimar Parfum Initial is different to other scents coming out today.  Its ingredients ensure that this is no “also-ran” in the raft of new launches. It is wonderfully Woody, softened by Musk, but it’s those Green notes that are a real knockout. As it’s Autumn, I am appreciative of the dry, grassy Vetiver which often disagrees with me, but is perfect here. It’s hard to give it a label.  If I had to I would call it a floral Oriental.  But you could also call it a gutsy Green with a prickly Patchouli base. On the Guerlain website it is described as “A radiant amber floral signature”. Whatever you call it, do try it if you get the chance.  This is a modern Guerlain worthy of the name.

Aura by Loewe: The Tide is Turning

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We all know how celebrated the French perfume industry is, but let’s hear some good words about the lesser lauded Spanish perfume industry. As I may have mentioned, I am a big fan of  Jesus del Pozo Ambar (top of my Christmas Wish List as my small bottle is nearly empty), and of course, there’s Balenciaga, Paco Rabanne and even Dana, a Spanish born company that has taken over many drugstore classics such as Tabu, Chantilly and Le Jardin.  Loewe is a Spanish company that is famous for its luxe luggage and bags and has branched out, as have the world and his dog, into the fragrance world.

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FragranceShop.co.uk

The first time I tried a Loewe fragrance , it was from a previous Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Box and it was called Quizas Quizas Quizas Pasion.  I believe I also called it “Death by Red Berries”. Aura is a great improvement, although the leftover red berries sadly didn’t go to waste.  Aura is, refreshingly, a mainstream High Street leather.  Can we call it a chypre? I think we can. I sometimes get muddled by the definition of a chypre, but the excellent Perfume Shrine blog has, what is to my mind, the definitive article on Chypres.  

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Aura is simply made. Top notes: Red Berries, Bergamot and Pink Pepper. Middle notes: Rose, Violet Leaf, Iris and Jasmine and Base notes : Cedar, Leather and Sandalwood.  It’s an unusual journey. Initially I was on the brink of dismissal when I caught a waft of red berries again, but as I persevered, I realised that the basenotes were as good as their word and what I am left with after a an hour is a Leather, Rose, Sandalwood mélange which is really rather good.

Longevity could be better: on me it fades after two hours, but that’s not to say it won’t last longer on you.  You may recall that Delices de Cartier evaporated immediately on my skin, yet others praise its twelve hour longevity on them.   If I were Queen of The World (and it’s just a matter of time), I would order Loewe to stop using the red berries, and crank up the Leather. But that’s just me.

It’s not a chypre in the same class as, say, my beloved Jolie Madame, nor is it a leather in the same league as Cuir de Russie or Bulgari Black. However, I am so thrilled to meet a new launch that doesn’t smell like a candy shop, that I feel it would be churlish to criticise.  When you finally coax something out the woodwork, you don’t want to scare it back off again.

Aura by Loewe is available from the Fragrance Shop for £53.50 for a 40ml EDP with body lotion.  Not to be confused with Aura by Swarowski.

JLo Glow: Off to a Great Start

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Jennifer Lopez was one of the first celebrities to launch her own signature fragrance line.  She follows early pioneers of Celeb scents Cher, Elizabeth Taylor and Antonio Banderas.  JLo Glow was launched back in 2002, and has broken records with its hugely successful sales figures. It is worth looking at an early celeb scent to see how and why things changed so much  from Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds and JLo Glow (both very good) to the fruity floribundances we have today.  (PS I just made up the word floribundances. You may use it. You’re welcome).

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Amazon.co.uk

Today in 2013, High Street perfume shops would look very meagre without the vast range of celeb scents padding out the shelves. It has become a phenomenon. I often tell people (and my Mum) it is worth remembering that all celeb scents are made by professional, experienced Noses, but are often at the cheaper end of the market. Keep looking past the tacky packaging (I’m looking at you Justin Bieber) and you stumble across a gem such as Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights or Hilary Duff With Love: both celeb scents that I consider excellent. The name means nothing to me, I just want to know if it smells good. And if it does, I’ll wear it. I don’t care whose name is on the bottle. My snobbery went out the window a while back when I spent 3.99 on 15ml of Duff’s With Love and I had an epiphany smelling the rich Tropical Guaic Wood . Not what I expected at all.

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Amazon.co.uk

I often think the celeb scent market is like a jumble sale. It may look unpromising, but if you keep trying, you may find treasure.

Right at the start, before the boom began, there was JLo with Glow. Still around now, and still a steady seller, I tried it recently and was very pleasantly surprised. It’s soapy and clean smelling, like freshly shampooed hair. It reminded me a little of Cacharel Noa, only without the bloom’n’fade coffee bean opening.

The soapiness is not aldehydic, like say, First by Van Cleef and Arpels which stands a league above, but it is more Herbal Essences.  If you, like me, buy your shampoo based on whether you like the smell, then you may like this clean hair scent with light flower petals, light grapefruit, and gentle White Musk.

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After the soap faded into an innocent gentility, there was some definite Tuberose action going on, which lasted until the very end. Longevity was excellent in fact.  I tried two sprays of Glow at 9.15am and at 6pm it was still close to skin. Not bad at all for a good value scent.  I had a slight issue with the fact that the very last hours of the basenotes were a bit synthetic, but the good points outweigh the bad by a long chalk.

Adding to the bonhomie I am feeling towards this gem is the rumour that JLo is very involved in her scents, and they are much more than a sign off to her.  I am already a fan of JLo Deseo, and now I am a fan of Glow too.

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You can buy Glow from many places, including allbeauty.com and Amazon UK to name but two.

Boss Jour Pour Femme EDP: Can It Be True? A Hat Trick?

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I know it seems like all I do is complain about identical new launches, but I appear to have stumbled upon a miracle.  In the last three days I have discovered three decent newly launched fragrances that I actually like. Not only do I like them, but they are not made of candy floss, nor overloaded with vanilla, nor are they mere run of the mill fruity florals. I may need smelling salts.

In my lovely Discovery Box from the Fragrance Shop (I’m getting round to writing about it!) was a sample of Hugo Boss Jour Pour Femme. Seeing how thrilled ole Gwyneth is with it in the ad campaign did it no favours in my book.  I may be getting old but it feels like only five minutes ago that she was equally thrilled with Estee Lauder Pleasures sitting there in her meadow, all smiles.

Gwynnie aside, I was seriously thrilled to see that Boss Jour Pour Femme has a strong lime accord and no soft red fruit of any kind whatsoever.  There’s no Vanilla and no sugary sweet note to be seen.

Top notes are Lime and Grapefruit blossom: both present and correct and both of which give this a wonderfully uplifting citrus green opening.  Middle notes are Honeysuckle, which if I had my way, would be toned down a notch, but then it has Lily of The Valley, which if I had my way, would be turned up a notch. There are Freesias and White Flowers and the mood is light.  Basenotes are Amber and Birch, but neither wipes out the Lime and the Lily of The Valley.

I’m going to stick my neck out a bit here. As you know I am a passionate champion of Gucci Envy and there has been nothing like it before or since. However, I will be so bold as to say this has a little in common with the much missed Envy in that the Freesia and Lily of The Valley are so white they are almost green, if that makes sense. In fact, this smells similar to Isabella Rossellini’s Manifesto too, which also has some notes in common with much missed Envy.

Boss Jour Pour Femme is a follow up to last year’s Boss Nuit Pour Femme, which I pretty much ignored. If this hadn’t been included in my Fragrance Shop Discovery Box, I would never have tried it, so I guess I have to thank whoever decides what to include in those delightful black boxes once a quarter.

Who’d have thought it? A fabulous Lime and Lily of The Valley mash-up that smells clean, non juvenile,  and rather wonderful.

I bet Gwyneth got loads of free bottles. Gwyneth gets everything.

 

Elizabeth Arden Untold: Something Familar About This Angelic Creation.


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fragrantica.com

I have mixed feelings about Elizabeth Arden.  The smart packaging, the prestigious name and the accessible prices all appeal to me. However, the more EA fragrances I try, the more I am disappointed. I do like Fifth Avenue, but didn’t like Sunflowers, True Love, Mediterranean. Red Door or SplendorGreen Tea is excellent, and I say that objectively as one who doesn’t like Tea as a note.  Elizabeth Arden Untold is probably one of the better ones and they seem to have gone to some trouble with the pretty faceted bottle too.

I first tried Elizabeth Arden Untold as a spray across a beauty counter and wandered around pondering it a little. After receiving a sample in my Fragrance Shop Discovery Box (more of which anon), I was able to wear it a little longer.  This is very like Rochas Soleil Rochas, a lovely scent that I have on my dressing table, although the more perfume I try, the more I find its borderline too sweet for me.

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 Elizabeth Arden Untold has three quite dominant notes in common with Rochas Soleil: Pink Pepper, Pear and the Patchouli basenote.  It starts as a light white floral: the Pear and Pink Pepper are certainly discernible, but it ends up smelling not unlike an Angel Lite, although with a touch more of the old floral notes than Angel’s nuclear finish. The Patchouli base swamps all other notes, hence the slight Angel comparison. NB A slight comparison to Angel is like describing being only slightly knocked over by a demolition wrecking ball.

 Untold was created for its 2013 launch by Clement Gaverry, who is also credited with one of my favourite scents: Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely. He is obviously fond of the Patchouli base, which is no bad thing.

I was ready to like Untold, but at £38.50  for a 30ml bottle, I’ll stick with my almost identical Rochas Soleil Rochas for £11.75. There is very little difference, except in the twenty odd quid you’ll have left to buy something else.