Category Archives: High Street perfumes

Cartier Baiser Volé (2011)

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I must apologise to Cartier, since I truly love  Eau de Cartier and its flanker Essence D’Orange, but I have been disappointed lately in other Cartier scents.  As you may know, I recently reviewed the fist-eatingly expensive Baiser du Dragon and found it overpriced and baiser bottlerather an anti climax. I then tried Delices de Cartier., and found it had no staying power on me and left me smelling like pencil shavings. Determined to love the brand, I soldiered on and tried Baiser Volé. Oh dear.

 Baiser Volé left me underwhelmed. It’s not bad by any means, but its glossy packaging and posh Zippo style bottle out-glams the content within. Its top notes, middle notes and basenotes are Lily and Green notes.

It doesn’t change at all and it lasts around four hours. Sadly, as much as I love Lilies and ImageGreen notes, this left me very strongly in mind of Neutradol room deodorisers. You know, those white pots that you leave in a corner until your home smells of Baiser Volé?

At least four Fragrantica members agree that this smells very similar to Yardley Peony, which is only £9.99 for 50ml. Just saying…

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LUSH Gorilla Perfume: Smell of Weather Turning

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Launched in 2011, Smell of Weather Turning is no Rent a Scent High Street number. It doesn’t really even make you smell pretty. It’s unisex, and not particularly feminine. There’s Mint in it too, which usually makes me think of discarded chewing gum.

It sounds like I’m not really selling it, doesn’t it? But I love it.  I love it so much I want to have a song played for it on the radio and send it a Valentine’s Day card. I want to write its name on my pencil case and have a poster of it on my bedroom wall.

Smell of Weather Turning  is the kind of perfume that fills my head with imagery both beautiful and ominous. It’s so cleverly put together it’s like watching a film clip using just your nose. First you have the smell of Hay and Grass and a Hedgerow (hence the Honey and Wild Mint notes). Then…here it comes, the weather turns and you can smell Asphalt and Tarmac and fresh air. The drydown smells slightly medicinal with a hint of Creosote, which is probably what put me in mind of Lonestar Memories. Longevity is very good, though the top notes are so wonderful I had to hold off spraying the sample several times just to revisit them.

 Smell of Weather Turning is beautiful and clever and makes me think of huge landscapes with rolling thunderclouds and hot pavements. Its refreshing rather than smoggy. It’s like fresh air and elements. It’s like having a spell in your handbag. It’s British Weather in a bottle. This should be standard issue to homesick ex pats all over the world.

It’s not pretty, but it is magical and wondrous and tells an epic tale.

I’m in love.

J’Adore L’Eau Cologne Florale: The Less Intense Younger Sister

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J’Adore by Dior has the famous all guns blazing, no expense spared ad campaign with Gazelle-like Charlize Theron strutting through gold, wearing gold, against a gold background, with golden hair. J’Adore is a best selling floral that I have reviewed earlier in my blog, but J’Adore L’Eau Cologne Florale really made me sit up and take notice.

Firstly, and I won’t say this very often, but it’s a hot and sunny day here in the UK. I have even worn sunglasses. For some reason, this seems to be the right weather to wear J’Adore LEau as it’s light and delicate, unlike its Tuberose heavy big sister.

I sometimes find J’Adore a bit cloying and in your face, but J’Adore L’Eau is made with a lighter hand, with the lighter elements added more strongly, and the stronger elements used more lightly.  In other words, this is more like the scent of light flower petals than the thick, tuberose, white floral miasma of J’Adore.

It may be the addition of citrus notes and bergamot that make this more of a floral hesperide, and therefore perfect for hot weather. It’s J’Adore with a lighter touch,  and a few summery bits added in to freshen it up. Thankfully, wise creator Francois Demachy has resisted the temptation to read the word Summer and add cucumber and melon.

J’Adore has more flankers than I’ve had hot dinners, and they haven’t really captured my interest, however this is agreeably pretty and would make a perfect wedding day perfume. It’s delightful, inoffensive and impossibly pretty, like a perfect bride in fact. I think I adore J’Adore L’Eau more than I adore J’Adore.

Try saying that when you’ve been at the Pimms.

 

 

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Guerlain Mitsouko: Well Who Would Have Thought It?

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 Mitsouko is spoken of in revered whispers by perfume lovers. Reviews are dripping with love and awe.  It’s top of every list as a classic, as a best ever, as a masterpiece. It got to the point where I  was starting to feel a bit “Emperor’s New Clothes” about it.  Should I pretend to like it just to fit in?  It smelled like gone off old paper and lemons last time I tried it.

So what happened to change my mind and tempt me into the web of love for Mitsouko? All I can think of is that must be the weather. I last tried Mitsouko in Winter and it smelled like petrol.  It also reminded me of  Guerlain Jicky, which I still can’t love.  I was starting to think I wasn’t a proper perfume lover and all the other perfumistas would laugh at me. But no, they’re not like that for one thing, and for another thing, as I have said before, there is no right or wrong in perfume, only your personal response.

I tried some Mitsouko this morning, rather disconsolately, before writing it off as an unloved scent. It is a bright, sunny day: more demanding of a light citrus if anything. Suddenly, I couldn’t stop sniffing my wrist. There is a delightful roughness to Mitsouko today, almost like a prickle that I often find in aldehydes or chypres. It’s probably the oakmoss. The peaches are there, which I still have a bit of a problem with, but the spices, lilac, amber, and vetiver make this a delightful, slightly raspy beauty.

It is important to remember that this was made in 1919, the year WWI ended. The lives of women were far more austere then, with a post war lack of frivolity. Their tastes were different. They had not been exposed to years of talc, soap, bleach, air freshener and the thousands of perfumes available to us today. I therefore couldn’t help noticing that what makes Mitsouko stand out is an almost total lack of sweetness or sugariness so common in  thousands of scents today. It’s as if Mitsouko could teach us a thing or two about going back to basics.

No vanilla, no blueberries, no gourmand notes (unless you count those peaches): just the spice, flowers, bergamot, oakmoss, and vetiver grass, made complex by their juxtaposition.  I prefer this when it has settled and the peaches have retreated. When that’s happened, you are left with an addictive chypre, replete with spice and a pepperiness that balances all the flowers and stops this from  being just another bouquet.

The only fragrances similar to Mitsouko are L’Heure Bleu and Jicky. However having said that, these three would have smelled very different to a woman in 1919, in the same way that in a few decades time, all our fruity flroals will smell identical to someone looking back at perfumes made from 2005 onwards.

It is said that L’Heure Bleu represented the start of the war, and Mitsouko the end.  Mitsouko is  a combination of melancholia and optimism.

Mitsouko is as essential to a scent wardrobe as a good coat is to your sartorial needs. If you like perfume at all, the Guerlain Heritage scents are a living museum of where modern scent began and it is important to try them, even if you don’t like them.

 

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Yardley Royal Diamond: So Nearly a Gem

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Yardley makes excellent soliflores. That is a single note, unchanging fragrance that  doesn’t have a top note, a middle note and a basenote. It is usually a simple one trick pony such as Lily of The Valley or Rose, both of which Yardley make exceedingly well and at a very agreeable price.

Yardley Royal Diamond is a recent foray into hybrids. I am still not sure they shouldn’t stick to what they do best. Royal Diamond smells like vodka when you first put it on, followed closely by strong Pear and a little Bergamot. You would think, that as a hesperide lover, I would love this. Sadly I do not.. It is a clean smell, with Lily of the Valley and Roses in the heart. However I think the note that jars for me, and which stops me loving this, is a Honey note. It kind of stops it being the lovely crystalline clean scent that it promises to be. There is also foodie Vanilla in it. It spoils it the way that cake crumbs would spoil an ice cold sparkling gin and tonic.

After a while, I went off this when it turned into a vaguely ozonic scent, of which I’m not a fan. In fact, in the latter stages it smelled so similar to  Parfums Gres Cabotine Bleu that I wore one on each arm and kept getting them mixed up.

Yardley Royal Diamond  was launched in 2012. I love their simple floral scents such as April Violets, English Lavender and Orange Blossom. However, apart from a sneaking fondness for the nostalgic Panache (which Yardley last owned in 1999), I do prefer Yardley when they keep their ingredients separate.  I just think if you’re going to use clean and pure notes such as Lily of The Valley, Bergamot and Peony, then you don’t add Honey and Vanilla.

It’s not unpleasant, worth a try if you come across it, but it’s not on my Wishlist either. If you will forgive me the clumsy paraphrase, I would like to say to Yardley “You do it best, when you mix nothing at all”

Giorgio Beverly Hills: The Alexis Carrington of 80s Fragrance.

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Alexis Carrington, despite her deadly wiles, was actually  quite the femme at heart. She may have had the biggest balls in Colorado but she could still pull off a maribou peignoir and a dry Martini. She was unapologetically glamorous, and an icon of 1980s excesses.

Which brings us to Giorgio Beverly Hills.  Created in 1981, this had a kind of “damn you to Imagehell” sillage that would floor anyone in its wake. I can’t help chuckling at Luca Turin’s spot on description , “ a cute,twelve-foot-tall-singing-canary. At first impossible to ignore, and at length, too big to love“.

It must have been great PR for the brand when Giorgio was banned from several restaurants in LA. After all, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.  And the sillage?  If this were a noise, it would be on a par with being in the front row of an Aerosmith concert.

So what is this twelve foot canary like? To me, it smells one dimensional.  It’s almost like a very loud air freshener, packed with faker than fake Jasmine, Peaches and Tuberose.  Like its Los Angeles origins, this doesn’t even try for a dose of reality. It is shameless in its fakery, making synthetic a proud trademark, rather than something to hide.

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Back in 1990, I often had a lift home from a female colleague.  She wore Giorgio every day, spraying it in the morning and again at lunchtime. By the time I got in her Giorgio capsule, sorry, car, at 5.30pm, it was like a futuristic torture chamber made of scent.  High pitched, synthetic and for some reason, smelling as alarmingly yellow as it looked, this smelled loud, long and cheap. There was a kind of hollowness to it, as if there were no base to anchor it, just a high pitched screech of a scent.

I can’t tell you what the drydown smelled like since it never seemed to drydown.  It smelled linear to me.  Five hours later, it would smell the same as of it had just been applied.

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Having said that, I find it hard to dislike Giorgio and have a sneaking affection for it, in the same way that I loved Prince, Duran Duran, Dallas and Dynasty. I’ve seen it going cheap in discount shops lately, and it made me feel sad for it, like its best years were behind it, and its facelift was starting to sag.  But in it’s heyday, Wow, knock ’em dead Giorgio. There she goes.

Stockists  

You can find Giorgio Beverly Hills  from Amazon UK. I’ve also seen it in Home Bargains and Savers in store. Opinions are my own.

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Délices de Cartier: A Fleeting Acquaintance

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 Being a huge admirer of Christine Nagel’s Eau de Cartier, I was curious about the famed Délices de Cartier and thus resolved to try out the EDP.

Sadly, I shan’t be  eulogising in quite the same way over Délices de Cartier.  According to the notes, I should be getting Bergamot, Cherry and Pink Pepper. Middle notes should be Jasmine, Violet and Freesia, with base notes being Musk, Sandalwood, Amber and Tonka Bean.

Sadly, after a faint, almost watery whiff of Bergamot and Cherries, this dies down into the schoolroom scent of pencil shavings, before disappearing completely.  I was reminded very much of another fragrance that I had been equally looking forward to.:Parfums Gres Cabotine Rose.  I loved the original Cabotine, and I like Roses, so I was eager to get the cellophane off (don’t you love that moment?) A barely there smell of nothing much, then pencil shavings, then pouf! There it was, gone.

Don’t let this turn you against Délices de Cartier, since many reviewers on Fragrantica declare it be wonderful and long lasting. It might well be on them. Sadly, on my skin, nothing remarkable took place today.

Hmm, two days of cherries.  I can safely declare I am over them.

Ô de Lancôme: Sparkle for Summer

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There have been almost three consecutive warm days here in Britain. Can we call it Summer yet? Granted Day Three was followed by freezing rain and wind, but trust me, three days still count.

When the weather is warm, it calls for a change in perfume as much as it calls for a change of clothes.  Wearing Gourmands in the hot sun just makes me feel sticky. Even Orientals must be super Lite. Personally, I think you can’t beat a good citrus or a shot of Bergamot when the temperature rises.

If I had to choose only one perfume to wear in the summer, I would have to say Ô de Lancôme narrowly gets my vote. In the top three would also be Chanel Cristalle, Guerlain Pamplelune, and maybe Yardley English Lavender, straight from the fridge.

What gives Ô de Lancôme the edge is that it is so unashamedly refreshing, that it almost crackles and sparkles on your skin when you apply it. It’s like ice cold lemonade, you can almost feel the tiny bubbles pop.

Top notes are , unsurprisingly  Lemon and Bergamot  with a crisp fresh hint of Orange, and a slight whisper of Honeysuckle. It’s the Lemon that dominates though.

Ô de Lancôme could almost be regarded as a spritz or cologne, so sharp and refreshing does it feel. However, it is worth taking this 1969 creation seriously. Oakmoss has been added (not real Oakmoss, thanks to IFRA, but it will do), along with Sandalwood and Vetiver. So what starts with high octane Lemons, slicing through a sultry heat, beds down into something more earthy and raw, but no less refreshing. In fact, it’s the perfect scent for a late afternoon. By evening, things will get a lot more interesting. Longevity is good. I could smell this in my wrist six hours after spraying it, albeit the Earthy, Woody base, but it was still there, doing its job.

Lancôme has also introduced Ô de Lancôme de L’Orangerie, which I can also vouch for, as well as Ô d’Azur de Lancôme. I‘ve tried the whole range, and they are all good, but I have a special place in my heart for the original.

This ladylike summer scent will never go out of fashion.

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A Scent by Issey Miyake: Here Comes Summer

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Issey Miyake is the epitome of Nineties fragrances. He blew away the cobwebs of loud shouty Eighties scents that would enter the room before your shoulder pads could squeeze through the doorway. Along came the calm, caring, sharing Nineties with its neutrals and its Green is Good philosophy. L’Eau D’Issey, created in 1992, was everywhere. At one point in the 90s I think I knew more people who wore it than people who didn’t  It’s not my cup of tea, but that clean, Ozonic scent  can whisk me back to 1993 quicker than you can say Sleepless In Seattle.

Fast forward to last week, 2013.  I’d heard that Issey MiyakeA Scent was very similar to Chanel Cristalle. I knew that Issey Miyake made good perfume. I saw that Escentual had a sale on. These three facts dovetailed until I found myself the proud owner of a rather beautiful bottle of A Scent by Issey Miyake last week.

It is very similar to Cristalle. In fact, if you cannot afford Cristalle this is a good bet. I bought my 30ml  for £15.00. If anything it is greener than Cristalle. The instant visual image it planted in my head was of scenes when I was young and always picking flowers and grasses and mashing them up to make mud pies. I’d dissect ferns and leaves and flower stems and get a good green and bitter juice out of them.  This came rushing back to me when I smelled A Scent. The bitter Galbanum is delicious, coupled with citrussy Lemon. However, the bitterness is tempered with flowers to sweeten it and tone it down. I was amazed to see no Lily of The Valley in here. I was sure I could smell les muguets.

On a hot day this lively, clean green will slice through any heat and leave a refreshingly bitter note on your skin, a bit like  a Gin and Tonic with Lime. It’s zingy and clean and glorious, if you, like me, love your Green notes.

It even has slight similarities with my beloved and much mourned Gucci Envy. It’s all Grass and Lemon and Hyacinth.

My only gripe with this is that the spray comes out fast, rather than misting you sparingly,  and therefore my bottle is already 2cm down after only two days of wear. Longevity isn’t great, but if you use my age old tip of spraying clothes and hair, you should should get pleasing whispers of it by the end of the day.

Beautiful and pure as crystal, this may yet knock my Cristalle off her Queenly perch. IScent loves A Scent.

 

 

Thierry Mugler Womanity: Run Don’t Walk (to wash it off)

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Thierry Mugler Angel is here to stay. I don’t like the chocolate overdose it leaves on my skin, but many people do and there are too many of them for me to argue with. Alien is wonderfully strange, but manageable in small doses.

And then there is Womanity. This is so vile I was almost gagging at the thought of giving it a second chance for the sake of this review. This is no exaggeration. Womanity is the first perfume that actually makes me physically nauseous.

The concept behind Womanity was indeed unique, but unique doesn’t mean it’s going to work. In 2010, Mugler invited women to contribute to the finished product by writing their views and wishes on the Womanity website. The idea was that womankind itself helped to create Womanity. I can’t decide if this is insulting or not, seeing as the finished product is so very rank (at least to me).

It has not escaped my notice that despite being launched in 2010, Womanity has not hit any of the top ten best seller lists anywhere in the world. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since many excellent  perfumes stay small and exclusive, almost deliberately eschewing the limelight. Mugler, however, not so much. He’s a game changer and trailblazer. Exclusive he is not.  But then if you choose to put Caviar in scent, you are either attention seeking or trying to show us new ways in which to perceive fragrance.  The jury’s out.

So what does it smell like? Here’s what it’s supposed to smell like: Fig, Caviar, Fig Tree and Fig Leaf.

Here’s what it actually smells like: very old, crumbly Bakewell Tart that has been in a dusty, airless biscuit tin so long that the butter in the crust has gone rancid and the almonds have gone sickly sweet and rank.  With a hint of fish.

I was lost for words. I was agog with astonishment that this sells to anyone at all. I am  aware that all perfumes smell differently to everyone and no reaction, positive or negative, is bad or wrong, but Oh My Days…this is putrid.

Incidentally, my sample is an authentic Eau de Parfum and was obtained from the great Escentual. It’s not the supplier who is at fault here, it’s the panel that said “Mmm, yes, that’s it, let’s use this one.”

 Womanity was made by Nose Alexis Dadier and the fragrance and flavour company Mane.  Mugler was keen to include a savoury note. I can see how he might think that might work. He has changed the face of the perfume industry before. Angel was, and is, a shameless gourmand that has released thousands of wannabes in her wake.  Alien has a uniquely strange bottle and is loud, shouty Amber and Woods. But Womanity? Old biscuits and a hint of fish.  It’s not often a perfume turns my stomach.

Congratulations, by the way, to Halston Catalyst. You are now the second worst perfume I have ever smelt. Womanity has knocked you off your pedestal.  And had me running to the sink.

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