Category Archives: modern

YSL Saharienne: Cologne? In Autumn? Yes Please.

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 I have been to visit my local perfume counter several times over the past few weeks. No surprises there. However, what’s been different is that I have been visiting only one bottle.  In passing, I carelessly tried YSL Saharienne a few weeks ago and several hours later, I was still obsessively sniffing my sleeve trying to remember which bottle that heavenly smell was from.

Image Saharienne is so good it is on my long list for Christmas.  That’s no backhanded compliment. I am planning to request a special bottle of something from Santa and I am finding it so hard to narrow it down to just one from hundreds that I love. It’s like an X factor audition. Last year it was Eau de Cartier, which will always remind me of Christmas Day 2012. But I digress.

I have always loved a good cologne, and Saharienne fits the bill and then some.  What makes this stand out from all my beloved O de Lancomes and 4711s and  Eau Dynamisantes, is that Saharienne is packing heat.  Right there in the base, after the Bergamot and divine citrussy Mandarins have calmed down, out comes the smoothest of Sandalwood with a hint of spiced Ginger Beer.  It’s smoother than David Niven in his heyday. It’s blended so seamlessly that the Ginger and Sandalwood look like they’ve always been friends with the Citrus family. It’s as if they’ve been going on holiday Imagetogether for years and have started to look alike.

Sadly, Saharienne’s drawback is longevity, or lack of it.  A few hours at most, I would say.  However, my coat sleeve smelled lovely for days and it’s jolly good value at under £30 for 50ml of EDT. The faceted glass bottle is rather pretty too, bringing to mind Ralph Lauren Safari or YSL Cinema.

It’s a cologne for Autumn. It’s both refreshing and warm, like ice cold Ginger Ale over ice, with a little bit of bite.  Good work YSL. Very nicely done.

In fact, maybe at this price, I’ll get two.

Serge Lutens Vitriol D’œillet: The Carnation Bites Back

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I really didn’t know what to make of Serge Lutens Vitriol D’œillet when I first sprayed it.  I thought it was a slightly bitter Aldehyde with brash, unadulterated sour limes. However, it soon morphed into something altogether different as it dried, but the opening  blast was worthy of a Tauer and reminded me of how Andy Tauer uses Aldehydes and Bergamot in a retro way.

Paradoxically, once Vitriol has calmed down, it heats up.  Before long, spiky, spicy Carnations take over.  Their prickliness is enhanced with a backdrop of strong clove, pepper and chilli. However, there still seems to be some Bergamot in the backdrop, even though it is not listed as a note.

Image I find Vitriol very unusual.  I have to pay it the compliment of saying that although I’m not sure I like it, it has really kept my interest today and I can’t stop sniffing it.  It’s almost like a mystery that I want to solve.  The Carnation is there, but it’s not a floral scent.  The edible spices are there, but it’s not savoury. It has Peppers and Chili but is not a gourmand.

In fact, I’m not sure what category I would put this into, but I really want to get to know it better.  I guess I’ll put it in the “Fascinated” category.  This one might just creep up on me and make me fall in love with it, but right now, the jury’s out. Oh, and don’t buy it blind.

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Ghost Whisper: Same Old, Same Old

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 I was put off from trying a Ghost perfume after a rather unpleasant experience with Ghost Sweetheart. It had an unpleasant tang that I couldn’t bear and couldn’t seem to wash off (Lemon, Spearmint and Pineapple!).  However, Ghost is a prolific fragrance brand and I thought I’d keep an open mind.

 Ghost Whisper comes somewhere in between Just Cavalli and Boss Jour Pour Femme. At first my heart leapt when I thought I could discern Green notes and Bergamot, but just as I thought I could smell them (to my delight) the notes kind of went off and I ended up with a milky mandarin with a synthetic Jasmine backdrop, rounded off with a little faint White Musk. Not as good as I’d hoped.

To me it smells very generic and nothing new or exciting.  As a mainstream brand, I guess Ghost isn’t in it for originality, more for meeting its market.

Top notes are Mandarin, Star Fruit and Almond. Middle notes are Jasmine, Honeysuckle and Orange Blossom. Base notes are Musk, Cedar and Heliotrope.

There is no trace of Heliotrope, maybe one sniff of Almond (maybe that provides the milkiness?) and the flowers are all blustered together into a big mush.

I didn’t particularly love or hate this, I just felt it was mediocre.  It is very “now” though. Hopefully this too shall pass.

 

PS I reviewed Ghost today by pure serendipity, not because it’e nearly Halloween and I wanted to do something with a spooky name. I have only just realised I may be open to accusations of corny Halloween allusions.

 

 

Estee Lauder Private Collection Amber Ylang Ylang: A Perfect Balance

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 I have been wearing Estee Lauder Private Collection Amber Ylang Ylang today and I am more than satisfied with this tender golden treasure.  Sometimes I want some heat and spice, but not too much. Yesterday I went overboard with the very robust La Fumée, and today I wanted to tone things down a bit.

Amber Ylang Ylang does what it says on the tin.  However, it doesn’t end there. The genius here is not just in matching these two, but in the expert blending so that one enhances the other without taking over.

Amber is one of my favourite notes for Autumn: it’s the gentler side of the Oriental genre. Ylang Ylang is one of those flowers that rarely overpowers.  Estee Lauder wisely held back from using dominant Jasmine in this one and played a gentler card alongside the rich Amber.

Longevity is very good.  I tried this not long after 9am and it’s there, although close to skin, eight hours later. It reminded me of sparkling ginger ale in that it is both spicy and refreshing at the same time.

There is Bergamot in the opening notes, which probably gives this its sparkle, whilst Cinnamon, Incense and Sandalwood warm up the Amber without getting heavy handed.

Overall, this is a delightfully warm and cosy scent, but what makes it stand out for me is the restraint used.  It’s an Oriental Lite pleasant enough for daywear.  In fact, daywear should be positively encouraged. I would love more people to wear this.

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.

Serge Lutens Serge Noire: It’s Not You, It’s Me

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Created in 2008 by Uncle Serge himself and the legendary Christopher Sheldrake, Serge Noire, is a fabulously deep and dark spicy scent. On the right skin that is.  Sadly on me, there is a definite “off” note which was backed up my expert in residence, and three year olds don’t have an edit button.

The notes listed had my mouth watering. There is not one note that I don’t love: Patchouli, Amber, Incense, Ebony, Clove, Spices and Woods. I love it all. Pile it on, I can take it.

Or so I thought.  Just as I was blissing out in the smoky tones of the top notes, a note of Baked Bean-like body odour jumped Imageout and slapped me in the face.  How rude, I thought.  I tested a second time, later in the day. There it was again, the unmistakable smell of an unwashed truck driver’s armpits. Just to check it wasn’t me, I stuck my hand under the nose of my aforementioned three year old.  I was vindicated. “Yuk,” he said, “Cheese and onion”.

You see, it’s not just me, I promise. I did not prompt him, and he was in the middle of watching Numberjacks, so his verdict was both random and candid.  As if to torment me more, the other notes smell intoxicatingly good: smoky, dark, spicy and perfect for Autumn. I would love to smell like this, apart from the obvious drawback.

To eliminate random elements, I can assure my dear readers that my personal hygiene is of the highest order and that the side of my wrist has never smelt of BO even on the hottest of days.

It’s just  a combination of chemistry and bad luck. I actually love Serge Noire and will be jealous of anyone who can wear it without this truck driver barging in. I can smell it’s rich potential, in fact, there is even a wonderful hint of black pepper in there when I waft it past my disappointed nose.

I blame myself, I bet this smells lovely on everyone else, and I happen to know a certain reader has just bagged herself a bottle.  I bet she smells amazing in it too. Damn.

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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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.

 

 

Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Iris Poudre by Pierre Bourdon: Behold My Nemesis

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 I’m amazingly lucky to have been able to try Iris Poudre.  It doesn’t exactly fill the shelves at my local branch of Superdrug. Thank you LisaWordbird and your sample collection that would make a grown perfumista weep with joy (she has a phial of vintage Schiaperelli Shocking. Oh boy!).

For the Editions de Parfums range Frederic Malle used many of the greatest Noses in the world to produce their own scents under the Frederic Malle umbrella, giving them complete creative freedom.

 Iris Poudre is in no way a bad scent. It is well made, by expert Nose Pierre Bourdon, who I can now spot a mile off.  If there is a scent that repels me or disturbs me, you can bet that it’s a Bourdon. But that’s just me. Worth Courtesan had a similar effect. A growing sense of unwashed underwear bloomed on my skin when I wore it.  Who made it? Yep. M. Bourdon.  Serge LutensFeminite du Bois with its beautiful opening of smoky Woods turned to knickers on my skin.  Who made it?  Yep. You’ve gusset correctly, sorry guessed correctly, it was my old friend Pierre.

 Iris Poudre was the start of my realisation that when it comes to perfume, Monsieur Bourdon is my frenemy. That is to say, he is a great name in his field and his work is to be admired, but he and I are just a NO GO.

Iris Poudre had a profound effect on me. It was a vehement dislike that induced vivid visuals in my mind. A stuffy car, some kind of threatening menacing female presence (Cruella de Vil?).  An inability to find fresh air.  Someone open the window. I need to breathe!

It is as, the name suggests, a strong Iris that dominates. The Iris has been muffled , like a blanket over the face. Notes include: Iris, Tonka Bean, Vanilla, Musk, Vetiver and Sandalwood.

The Musk does give it a femininity and softness, although to me it still feels like being suffocated.  The Iris is in its Sunday best, having had a good wash.  There is no carroty soil smell here. All is dry and powdery and there is no relief. In keeping with the Perfume Law of Sod, since I dislike this, it lasts nearly fifteen hours.  I had to scrub it off and it was still there, getting on my nerves like a drunken bore at Christmas.  If I had liked it, it probably would have faded pretty quickly. That is the Perfume Law of Sod.

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 Iris Poudre costs megabucks, which is a good thing if it stops people wearing it around me.  However, if you like it and cannot find it or afford it, try the much cheaper Gianfranco Ferre: Ferre for Women.  It is the spitting image of Iris Poudre ( Myself and 60 Fragrantica users agree).  Guess who made it?  Yep, Pierre Bourdon.   Try not to confuse it with  Gianfranco Ferre Essence D’Eau which is a bright honey like yellow flowers scent.

My views are purely subjective of course, you may well love Iris Poudre, especially if you are a fan of Iris.  However I always think smelling a scent you hate is never a waste of time as it helps you establish what you love.