Category Archives: High Street perfumes

Yardley Lavender Eau de Toilette: Sometimes Simple Is What You Need

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It’s no coincidence that aromatherapists and masseurs use Lavender as a therapeutic scent, nor that it is a sleep inducing pillow spray. To me, it is also no coincidence that Yardley Lavender (along with or instead of Eau de Cartier) is the perfect hangover fragrance.

When you’re full of toxins and feel nauseous with overindulgence, Lavender steps in like a pure Angel come to visit and carry away those troubles like an open window in a stuffy room.

Lavender is also regarded as an “old lady” scent and this would be a good time to debunk that myth. The old ladies of today were the glamourpusses of yesteryear, and we have them to thank for being unswayed by modern trends and for keeping the market alive for the classic scents that are still being made to meet the demand of  “old ladies”.

These matriarchs are to be respected, as not only were they young once, but some day we will be the old ladies buying the Lavender and the good perfumes that are wasted on the youth. And maybe it was Oscar Wilde who once said “Youth is wasted on the young,”? Or maybe it was me the other day muttering at today’s modern teens? In any case,  calling a scent “old lady” is, to my mind, another way of saying “Classic”, and nowhere is this term more apt than  when used to describe Lavender.

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So what makes Yardley Lavender so special? Well for a start, the price is right at less than 10GBP a bottle on the High Street, and even cheaper online.  However, as well as Lavender (and I can promise you it smells authentic), I can also pick out Geranium and Clary Sage, making this a very green, slightly hippy Hesperide.  Sillage is arm’s length but pleasant. I think people will notice this simply because it will arouse nostalgia, and because it is so simple that it will stand out from today’s commuter trains of fruitchoulis and fake vanilla.

This is a soothing blast of cool summer which, along with it’s slightly  prickly and spicy Geranium, will be ideal as a summer time cleavage cooler straight from the fridge.   I have spoken before about layering and I think this will go very well will other scents: Just go with the flow, don’t let me boss you around!

As much as I love fragrances in all its forms and complexity, sometimes I like to go back to basics.  A Lavender fragrance in a scent wardrobe is akin to a walk in the country after a year in a city.  Sometimes we need that, no matter how beautiful the city.

 

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Hypnotic Poison: If This Ain’t Love, Why Does it Feel So Good?

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I may have acted too quickly. I try and keep an open mind about perfume. I am always happy to try new things, and as you know, dear reader, I will wear something horrible all day just to be sure I hate it.

Mention Dior Poison to me and it elicits a shudder. This was the Eighties’ answer to smoke bombs. Walk into a room wearing this, and it would empty. The able bodied would run and the feeble would sink to the floor and get trampled in the rush to flee, wailing “it’s too late for me, just save yourselves!”

Over the years, I have pointedly ignored the fact that Poison has started breeding. Little flankers everywhere, popping up on the perfume shelves.  I blanked them like a bothersome in-law at a wedding.

Recently, I was offered a test of Hypnotic Poison (thanks LW yet again!) and thought I may as well try it, since I do have to write about 365 scents before my work here is done. I can’t afford to be fussy. Thus I accepted a little loan of Hypnotic Poison. It was not as I expected.

With nary a nod to its sister Poison, I found myself in a tasty mist of Playdoh and Vanilla with thick squishy Coconut in there too. On paper, I am not supposed to like it at all. In actual fact, it was rather lovely.

There is definite Vanilla and oily crushed Almonds to the power of a hundred. I don’t usually like Gourmands, since they remind of hot, flustered baking sessions in the kitchen where I find myself too often some weeks. However, this Marzipan wonder took me back in time to the days when The Body Shop had a Perfume Bar, which I have mentioned before. They did a great oil called Vanilla. It was heady and smelt of Marzipan and had liquor like intensity. And here it is again in Hypnotic Poison. The Body Shop still does a Vanilla fragrance, but it’s not the same.

I am testing the EDT of Hypnotic Poison, rather than the EDP and lasting power is good, despite my hayfever. Strangely, I can’t help liking this nutty, bitter Almond (Arsenic?) scent. The only similarity it has with Poison is the cute round bottle. And thank Heavens for that.

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L’Instant de Guerlain: Nice to Meet You, Iris

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 From yesterday’s High Street fluff back to majestic Guerlain, and L’Instant de Guerlain to be precise.  I have on loan the Parfum itself, in its tiny glass bottle (see photo) and enormous box.  By the time I opened the box, removed the inner sleeve,  and removed the 7.5ml bottle from its little case, it seemed like a tiny Queen on a huge throne  Using the glass stopper as a dabber, I wore this on my throat and forearms (putting a scent on my wrists means it gets washed off many times over the day).

I was amazed to see that L’Instant de Guerlain does not contain violets. My very first thought was violets and then iris. In fact, after a few moments I decided this was a little like smelling Apres L’Ondee through several layers of musk daubed white chiffon.  It’s warmed up with a little honey and some magnolia. It’s classy and timeless: you could wear this as a teen and as a 90 year old Grand Dame. There is powder too, but it’s a mere velvety muffler, rather than an old lady’s make up case. It’s a muted Iris/Violet with the light musk softening any sharpness or earthiness

Now I feel that at this point I should pause for thought on the matter of iris. I love iris the flower, and my much beloved late grandmother was called Iris, so I have always associated it with love and beauty. However, in the world of fragrance, I have not got on with it at all. I have been encouraged to persevere, despite the fact that Malle’s Iris Poudre utterly repels me and even suffocates me. I recently tried Maitre Parfumeur et GantierFleur D’Iris and didn’t like that either. I also tried Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile and didn’t much care for that either (although it did defrost me somewhat with it’s prettiness).

Recently my friend and co blogger Lisa Wordbird, whose writing you will now be familiar with, gave me a curious experiment which cured me of Iris phobia. Spraying Guerlain Apres L’Ondee on one arm and Frederic Malle L’Eau D’Hiver on the other, I do believe I finally saw the light. Sniffing one then in the other in rotation brought out the best in both of them and made L’Eau D’Hiver (one of my earliest reviews), much more floral and prettier than it was when I first encountered it. So as my esteemed fellow blogger The Perfumed Dandy told me recently “Never give up on a note”.  Sometimes I guess you just have to look at it from a different angle.

So could I accuse L’Instant de Guerlain with its honeyed, musky Iris notes to have converted me into an Iris fan? I almost think I can.

Disclaimer: I still can’t bloody stand Iris Poudre though!

Beyonce Midnight Heat: Explosion in Tropical Candy Floss Factory

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 After being spoilt like a spoilt thing in recent weeks, with achingly high quality scents to die for, I decided to dip my toe into a fragrance that I have seen everywhere recently from Duty Free to my local Asda. One of many samples I have blagged lately, this generous 2ml dabber is wrapped in purple cellophane like a Quality Street sweetie. No less than 3 members of my household tried to disrobe it hopefully, including one of the cats who is kinky for cellophane.

It is entirely appropriate that this was mistaken for a sweet because Wow! Is this sugary! Take some candy floss, add some sugar, preferably vanilla sugar, then sweeten it up with some caramel, preferably vanilla caramel, then add loads of concentrated Tropical cordial, the stuff that’s so thick and gloopy it sticks to the inside of the bottle. Shake it all about and Bingo! Beyonce Midnight Heat.

It has some similarities with JLo Deseo, However, Deseo keeps it clean and floral, and although it has similar Tropical notes, it is a fresher, brighter fragrance.

Beyonce Midnight Heat is too sticky and hot. The sweetness is overpowering. I should imagine it could be used as an aid to weight loss since once sniffing this, you would find the idea of ingesting sugar completely repellent. In fact, that’s why I might keep this. Those leftover Easter Eggs are still in the house, calling my name. This might be just what I need.

Madame Rochas: soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside

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I mentioned that I’ve bought a couple of vintage perfumes on eBay that have had ‘burnt’ top notes. Madame Rochas is one of them, so I thought I’d try it today against a modern version of the eau de toilette, to see how the burnt, crunchy topping affected my enjoyment of the rich, smooth interior.

I love Madame Rochas because it is quite frankly weird. It has a strange opening with some wacky aldehydes that Luca Turin says smell like ‘just-snuffed candles’. I can’t think of a better description, though it’s stranger and more haunting that simply candle-snuffs to me. In the vintage, this is burned away completely and there is just a rasp of hairspray and over-toasted oils. But fear not! In most vintage ‘fumes it’s just the top notes that get damaged, because they’re the lightest and most volatile ingredients in a fragrance. Once you wait for them to wear off, you get the original heart and base of the fragrance.

While my vintage left wrist is still making me say ‘eurch!’, my modern right wrist has moved on to the lovely salty floral notes of the modern Madame’s heart. As the fragrance develops, the salt fades gradually to reveal what the Rochas website assures me is ‘every flower in creation: jasmine, rose and lily of the valley’. As I’ve mentioned before I can’t tell what is or isn’t in perfume, so forgive me for just sticking with ‘floral’ and ‘rich’ and ‘warm’. However, according to Fragrantica.com, when he composed Madame Rochas, Guy Robert put aldehydes, bergamot, lemon and neroli at the top with flowery heart notes of jasmine, rose, tuberose, Lily-of-the-valley, Oriss root, ylang-ylang, violet and narcissus, whilst the base contains sandalwood, vetiver and musk, along with cedar, oakmoss and tonka beans.

Anyway, those floral heart notes are where the two fragrances – vintage and modern – meet. But my vintage left wrist is more garbagey and plush because I’m guessing that Guy Robert’s original jasmine was the skanky indolic kind and he probably had a dollop more oakmoss in there than now, while my modern right wrist is lighter and still a touch salty (I find Tocade a little salty too, if that helps – maybe it’s a Rochas style).

The base is warm, round and maintains the difference between the two eras – that gently salty twist to the modern eau de toilette keeps hovering above the base of creamy sandalwood and gentle musk. This modern Madame has more evident links to Hermès Calèche, another of Guy Robert’s creations, while in the vintage version the growly indolic rumble in the background reminds me of his Dioressence. The modern is certainly a floral aldehyde, but the original smells more like an oriental to me. They are both absolutely gorgeous in their own ways, and neither cost me more than £25. This is good stuff but it’s not big bucks.

I love this fragrance, for its individuality as much as anything else. It’s a bit of a forgotten beauty, but it’s as classy as they come, without being stuffy.

Miss Dior: no longer for maiden aunts

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WRITTEN BY LISA JONES

Once upon a time Christian Dior released a perfume that was a classic green chypre, full of oak moss, jasmine, patchouli and galbanum, and very chic and elegant. It was 1947 and things were far more prim and proper then. Young ladies wore neat tailored houndstooth suits, prim little hats with veils and carried white gloves.

To a young lady in 2013 those clothes would feel like a costume for a party, and perhaps Miss Dior felt similarly out of date. Because she has been completely replaced. The Miss Dior that I have a bottle of is now called Miss Dior Originale and has been put very politely but firmly on the back shelf of the Dior counter.

In her place is the pink-tinted Miss Dior incarnated by the delightful Natalie Portman. Previously known as Miss Dior Cherie, this has also ‘had a little work done’ to lose the strawberry top note, has been renamed Miss Dior and is now a flagship scent for the Dior line. It comes in all permutations – from parfum and eau de parfum to eau de toilette and eau fraiche, plus assorted body lotions, gels and all that stuff nobody buys unless it’s as presents. (Do you know anyone who buys or uses ‘official’ body lotion if it hasn’t come in a gift set or as part of a hotel toiletries haul?)(My daughter’s love of Hermes Eau d’Orange Vert can be traced to a very posh hotel suite and a generous friend of mine.)

However, dear, prim and proper original Miss Dior had a secret. Though she might have looked as prim and proper as Grace Kelly on the surface with her bitter oakmoss, give dear old MD a chance to warm up on the skin and that bitterness evaporates. Then the jasmine comes out to play and the oakmoss and woody old-school patchouli become rounder and warmer than JLo’s derriere in thermal undies.

I’ve been wondering how the new Miss Dior eau de toilette with her top notes of blood orange, heart of neroli and rose and base of patchouli will compare. So today I got out the little sample and spritzed. The top notes are sweet and very briefly citrus, though that is so fleeting as to be cheetah-like. The heart is fruity and floral with an element of something artificial but not in a bad way. Then there’s the base note of patchouli; this is the clean, radiant and persistent patchouli that is a staple in modern perfumery. It doesn’t remind me of JLo’s booty, I’m afraid; not in any kind of thermal clothing. Well OK, maybe in snowboarding pants.

You know how I have been whining about frootichoolis? This is one. I expected to want to chew my arm off and profoundly regret spraying my décolletage, but in fact, it’s OK. It’s not offensive in any way, it seems to be well-balanced, it wears reasonably close to the skin and doesn’t have enormous sillage and the longevity isn’t enormous – it was gone completely within 6 hours. That made me quite happy. I should repeat that this review is for the Eau de Toilette; I imagine the eau de parfum or parfum concentrations would last quite a bit longer and have a bit more projection. Be aware though that often fragrance compositions differ between the concentrations, so sniff the format before you buy it to avoid disappointment.

Givenchy Dahlia Noir L’Eau: the black dahlia lightens up

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I promised myself I would follow IScent’s philosophy this week and try new perfumes, so I went off to the department stores and scrounged a few samples. The ladies at the Dior and Givenchy counters were particularly helpful, so I’m starting with what I hoped would be the least offensive offering: Givenchy’s summer release, which will doubtless be available at a counter near you.

I have to confess that I have not tried the original Dahlia Noir, but I probably should. It is described on the Givenchy website as a ‘fatal flower’ – a fantasy of the fragrance the scentless dahlia might have. It is a modern woody floral, created by François Demachy, who has also created this new release for the summer season. Demachy has created fragrances for many of the LMVH brands, including Fendi, Acqua di Parma and Dior. LMVH is Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, a massive global group of luxury brands that covers fashion, leather goods, watches, jewellery, wines and spirits as well as perfume and cosmetics. Chaired by Bernard Arnault, this conglomerate controls an enormous swathe of the market – from Marc Jacobs and Givenchy to Bulgari and Benefit – as well as owning Sephora, the perfume and cosmetics retailer.

Givenchy Dahlia Noir L’Eau is described by Givenchy as “a femme fatale veiled in tenderness”, an elegant fresh floral with top notes of citron and neroli, a heart of rose petals and a base of musk and cedar wood. It is indeed a fresh and light floral, with sparkling citrus top notes sprinkled with a suggestion of orange blossom water. It warms to a slightly green but rounded woody heart and a pale musk base that lasts a surprisingly long time. It isn’t too radiant or expansive – you wouldn’t scare the horses or asphyxiate a lift full of people if you were wearing this – but I think it has enough sillage that you would be noticeably scented if you stood next to someone at a bar.

I like it and think it’s good. It’s well considered for the market, age-appropriate and to my great relief it’s not a frootichooli (have you figured out yet that they’re a pet hate of mine?). It also appears to be made with good quality materials – I know little or nothing about the chemicals used in perfumery, but I do know that there are some which I find repellent because of their radiant, patently artificial qualities, and they are often included in ‘watery-style’ fragrances. There aren’t any of those in here, thankfully. I think it says a lot that François Demachy has created the Escale series for Dior, as this reminds me a lot of Escale a Portofino. He obviously has a lot of expertise with kind of scent, because this is exceedingly well-balanced.

Dahlia Noir L’Eau is a perfect flirty summer perfume, actually. Snag a sample now and tuck it away to take on holiday – these tiny spray vials are ideal to drop into that infamous clear plastic ziplock bag.

Vera Wang Lovestruck Floral Rush: Nothing to See Here, Move Along…

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Vera Wang Lovestruck Floral Rush is Vera Wang Lovestruck with the volume turned up and a squoosh more synthetic musk. It doesn’t last very long. I have been using a 1.2 ml sample today and it ran out at lunchtime.

I smelt the original Vera Wang Lovestruck at a beauty counter recently and had almost no reaction to it. The impact was mild. It’s another light floral. There’s lots of them around right now. I went about my business as if nothing had happened. The day I wore Cinnabar and Lanvin Rumeur, to name but two, I couldn’t get my nose from my wrist. When I tried Lovestruck Floral Rush, I guess I was left waiting for it to live up to its name. There’s nothing new here. This is pulp fiction for the modern perfume consumer.

It sounds very glamorous with its top note of Champagne Darling, and it’s Passion Flower and Marigold. The base claims to be Cashmere Woods, Musk and White Amber. However, whilst I did catch some synthetic and rather cheap smelling Musk, I would still describe this as a light  modern floral whose only USP is it’s fabric sprig on the lid.

Vera Wang is globally famous for her exquisite bridal gowns and I can see that this simple and inoffensive  scent (I’m trying not to say bland) would be a good bridal fragrance since it would neither offend or dominate. But sometimes I WANT to offend and dominate, dammit!

Lovestruck Floral Rush– wear and conform. Zzzz.

Givenchy Organza: Falling In Love Again, Never Wanted To…

 

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What am I to do? I can’t help it. The perfume quest bears similarities to life itself. It has chapters and passionate phases which burn bright and fade to ash. It is often littered with disappointments and dashed hopes, but contains bursts of joy and contentment and if you’re very lucky, an occasional thunderbolt of deep love that leads to a lifelong companionship.

Just yesterday, I was struck by a thunderbolt. I fell in love. I didn’t mean to. It wasn’t convenient, and I can assure you with some vehemence, that I sure as hell wasn’t dressed for the occasion.

It happened in Boots the Chemist. I was rain spattered and cold and you really don’t want to know what I was wearing. Let’s just say I was built for comfort and not for speed that day. I sighed as I looked at all the new fruity florals promising the same old same old. Then I saw a familiar bottle that looked like it had come out of retirement. With the strange Greek looking bottle, created in 1992, it wasn’t one I see regularly on the glass tester shelf. I had a vague memory of trying it around the time of it’s launch and thinking well of it, but not pursuing it further. I was younger back then. I’ve changed now.

Fast forward to my local Boots yesterday: I sprayed once and fell in love with it. I sprayed again, on both wrists, and on my coat sleeves as well. It was love all right. I’d been shot with cupid’s arrow.  Givenchy Organza is a perfect balance between White Flowers, namely Peony, Gardenia, and its non identical twin Tuberose, coupled with White Woods, dark Guaic woods, Amber and Nuts. I’ll say it again: “nuts”. This is not too Woodsy, as the Flowers calm it down. It’s not too Flowery as the Woods and Amber spice it up. The Walnut and Nutmeg add an oiliness with a hint of woody bitterness. The bitterness is taken on by the soft Florals, and so it comes full circle…Somehow the perfect balance has been achieved. This adorable and wearable Oriental Floral has had me sniffing my coat sleeve and afraid to wash my arm for two days. (Note- I have washed my arm, you may have no fears on that score. Your blogger is both spotless and fragrant, dear reader).

There are other Oriental Florals, sure, but this one stopped me in my tracks. It’s strong, yet pretty, and has resonance and depth. It’s perfume-y in the way I remember my mother and her friends smelling when I was growing up: exotic and heady. However, it is sweetened up by the flowers, and not merely an Oriental Spice like say, Opium or the wonderful Cinnabar. 

I love it so much that my immediate fear is that it may be discontinued and I will need to shoplift great crates of the stuff. (Another Note: I do not advocate crime and speak of shoplifting only to describe an impulse. Other methods of procurement are available). However, this is a healthily non-cheap price: just under £30 for 30ml, and seems to be widely available. At the moment.  My fragrance abandonment issues may come from a total inability to forgive Gucci for discontinuing the unique and beautiful Gucci Envy. A moment of silence please for a lost and perfect jewel. (Well, sometimes it’s on eBay, but even those are dying out).

I have had lots of perfume flings. I’ve bought bottles that I have liked, used, and then parted with on good terms. I have perfumes I am friends with, and will always have in my life, but am not in love with. However, only four times have I ever truly fallen in love and entered into a long term relationship with a fragrance. I’m not a total slut- I know all of their names: Chanel Cristalle, Gucci Envy, Eau de Cartier and now, Givenchy Organza. I need it in my life. I think it’s serious. All I have is my coat sleeve, like half a phone number on the back of a soggy bus ticket.

Organza will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine.

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Eau de Cartier Essence D’Orange: Refreshing or Refresher?

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From Leathery Tobaccos to a citrussy hesperide: you have my permission to call me capricious. I must confess, I have  an ulterior motive writing about  Eau de Cartier Essence d’Orange since it provides me with yet another excuse, as if one were needed, to wear my beloved Eau de Cartier again today ( see my earlier review). Just as a comparison you understand.

Eau de Cartier Essence D’Orange was created in 2010 as a follow up to the divine Eau de Cartier: an angelically light hesperide full of Bergamot and Lavender and still, in my opinion the best and only fragrance to wear when hungover.  It’s like having an aromatherapist helping you out when all is spent.  Despite reviewing fragrance daily (or as near as I can),  there are not many full sized bottle on my dressing table. Eau de Cartier is one of them. After smelling a spray sample I simply had to have it.  Luckily, it was just before Christmas and Santa got my letter in time.

When I saw there was an Essence D’Orange, I was keen to try it.  At first spray it smells very like Eau de Cartier, but very quickly the soft oranges quietly enter the room.  This is not, as you might expect, a sharp citrussy orange, but more of a fuzzy powdery orange.  In fact after around ten minuets I couldn’t escape persistent thoughts of Orange Refreshers. Opening with a burst of bergamot like its sister Eau de Cartier, the orange does sort of take over, along with a bunch of violets to calm it down and stop it being too dominant.  I also would have said lavender was a noticeable note, despite not being listed. Never mind, you can take my word it, I can definitely smell a hint of lavender.

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This is beautifully unisex and may even smell better on a man. I still prefer my Eau de Cartier, but I have ordered a stash of samples of Essence D’Orange so I always have access to it without investing in the 100ml or 200ml bottle.

This is fresh, airy, light and beautiful. The smell of Orange Refreshers is, admittedly, inescapable, but I rather like it. This, along with Eau de Cartier is the antidote to too many Leathers and Orientals. It is delicious, edible and thirst quenching.

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