Category Archives: modern

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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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.

Estee Lauder Modern Muse: A New Launch I Love

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It’s finally happened. A new fragrance has been launched that I love. There wasn’t even a free tote bag to bribe me with. My sample was free from the lovely lady at my local Estee Lauder concession. No obligation to write a nice review, but I will because I love it. (I may have accidentally agreed to a makeover in order to get the sample, however).

I do apologise if I have been sounding like a grumpy old lady when it comes to new launches of late. Muttering away about everything smelling the same and too much vanilla, and too much fruit, and then finally…a miracle! Estee Lauder Modern Muse has only a touch of citrus orange to its name. No red berries. No candy floss, no discernible vanilla, and no overloaded sugary Baby Angel finish.

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For every person that thinks new launches are either a Britney or an Angel homage (i.e me), there are equally those who think many new launches are copies of the much revered Narciso Rodriguez For Her. Modern Muse could be accused of such. Indeed, there are many Fragrantica users who vote that it smells like NR for Her.

However, as much as I love fragrances in the style of NR for Her (SJP Lovely is a permafixture on my dressing table), I feel it would be unfair to simply label Modern Muse as a smellalike. It is in fact, only the base notes which hold any similarity to NR for Her.

Modern Muse opens with clean Petals, Jasmine (in spades) and Tuberose. It is a bouquet of a smell, prevented from being too cloying with a spritz of orange in there somewhere. The middle notes retain the Jasmine and Tuberose, but are now turning woodier as the Patchouli starts to gradually make its present felt.

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The basenotes are a wonderful mix of Patchouli, Wood, Musk and Tuberose. It’s at this point that I feel it must be said that whilst the Musky Patchouli base has much in common with NR for Her, the flowers make Modern Muse, dare I say it, a cut above.

Impossibly feminine, with good longevity and arms’ length sillage, this is a great buy and an important launch.

Estee Lauder still remains, in my eyes, the best quality fragrance you can buy on the High Street. Among all the ubiquitous brands and newbies and celebuscents, Estee Lauder can still provide accessible classics such as Cinnabar, Youth Dew, Private Collection , Alliage, White Linen and Pleasures.  Modern Muse can stand alongside the EL greats without a blush.

 

Giorgio Armani Si: The Box Ticker


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Giorgio Armani Si is being heavily publicised right now on a perfume counter near you.  Armani’s 2013 new release was created by the legendary Christine Nagel, who is capable of works of genius (Eau de Cartier for example), and  generic bestsellers (Jimmy Choo Flash).

But does Armani Si live it up to the hype? Can it hold its own against other Oh So Rare new perfume launches? (Did that sound sarcastic? It was meant to).  Do join me, dear reader, on my unremarkable journey into the world of Giorgio Armani Si.

This is what I call a box ticker. It is also remarkably like La Vie est Belle by Lancome.

Endorsement campaign by beautiful but classy actress? Tick.

Simple glass bottle, no gimmicks? Tick.

Smells a bit gourmand with a Vanilla overload? Tick.

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Now I hesitate to put the boot in, since Cate Blanchett seems to exude a calming serenity where’re she glides, and it seems almost rude to criticise anything she endorses. However, in the hope that the exquisite and talented Cate never reads this, I feel I have to be honest with you and say this is not great.

The opening of Violet Leaf and Green notes (albeit rather synthetic smelling) could be saved if the Vanilla baseball bat of Doom hadn’t waded in and bludgeoned everything. This could have been a pretty Green and Violet scent, in the same vein as Balmain Ivoire (the new, not the old). But no, the promising opening turns into a gourmand and stays a gourmand all the way through. Sad to report, it’s not even a good gourmand. It’s too sweet. Too synthetic. Even the promised Patchouli was beaten into submission by the villainous Vanilla.

How I long for a new launch to blow me away.  Recommendations welcome.  Giorgio Armani Si? Mais non.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Premier Figuier: Fig, Fig and More Fig, followed by the Fig.

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Let’s talk Fig.  I only recently discovered Fig, which is frankly a scandal nine months into a perfume blog, but I have never claimed to know it all.

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The portal through which I entered the World of Fig was Hermes Un Jardin En Mediterranee. It knocked me out. It was marvellous.  I was as desperate as Eve to find more Fig stuff. Obligingly, my dear colleague Lisa Wordbird, presented me with her bottle of L’Artisan Parfumeur Premier Figuier to see what I thought.

One thing’s for sure. Having spent a few days alone with this, I can now Fig spot from ten feet away.

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To me, Fig is rich and creamy with heavy green notes around the edges. The fruitiness is like smelling the dried fruit of a Christmas cake before you add it to the mix. Fig equals Sultanas, Milk and green leafery.  However there is one caveat that stops me fully embracing the figginess of Premier Figuier.  There is to my nose, an animalic or musky note that vividly reminds me of a scene in my life many years ago. No names, no pack drill.  Gather round for a fireside story with ole IScentYouADay.

Many moons ago I knew someone who had sterling family ancestry, pots of money and was quite the aristocrat.  However, he had the most appalling personal hygiene. So shocking was it, that the entire abode in which he lived smelled to High Heaven.  Clothes, furniture and air carried the unwashed stench around  from room to room and even onto the street Imagewhen the door was open.  This man, who was terribly nice, and is massively unlikely to be reading this (I hope), had a girlfriend who doused herself in Guerlain Samsara. You may notice I have never reviewed Samsara.

The end result is that  despite Samsara having no fig, Premier Figuier reminds me of that brief window in time when my nose was trying to divide the musk of stale BO from the Green,  fruity rich Samsara.

This is in no way the fault of this lovely Fig perfume, since Premier Figuier is beautifully put together. There are many non fig notes listed: Asfoetida, Fruity notes, Fig leaf, and Sandalwood.

But all I can smell is Fig and Musk, and that rather fetid London Spring of 94.

Jean Paul Gaultier Classique: A Fifties Style Nineties Classic

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 During the Nineties, Jean Paul Gaultier co hosted the late night post pub TV programme Eurotrash with the equally bonkers Antoine de Caunes. With his iconic Breton tops and kilts, and that Gallic twinkle in his smiley eyes, I was a fan of Jean Paul  from the start.

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In 1992 he launched Jean Paul Gaultier Eau de Parfum, now called Classique, thanks to a plethora of confusingly named flankers.  I recall reading an interview with him  around this time, though I sadly cannot find it now. The gist of it was that he wanted to base a perfume on the matriarchs in his family and he said that his Mother and Grandmother  smelled of  nail polish remover and face powder and he wanted to include that in his scent.

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He was as good as his word and I can never smell Classique without thinking how he understands that women, gorgeous as we are, often have messy handbags which smell of stuff we’ve spilled. It’s human. We don’t need to be perfect or smell perfect. A smell is a memory encapsulated in a bottle. As a result of this charming vignette, I have always had a soft spot for JPG , or Jpeg as we call him in the Digital Age (joke).

I haven’t ever owned a bottle of Classique myself since I once knew someone for whom this was a signature scent to the power of  a thousand. However, in isolation, it is  marvellous. It’s sweet with Vanilla, but not Britney Vanilla, and has a touch of Anise  and Pear which evoke the strange chemical hint of nail polish remover. It’s floral and feminine with Roses, Tuberose and Neroli, and beds down into a sandy finish with rich Amber and powdery Musk.

Bravo Jean Paul!

… and now a clip of some very large European breasts. Bon nuit mes little British chums and faîtes des bonnes rêves!

Hermes: Un Jardin En Mediterranee by Jean Claude Ellena.

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 Some fragrance is so good that if you did not know the name of it and  a stranger walked by wearing it, you would follow the stranger home until they surrendered the name of the beautiful aura that surrounds them.

I would follow a stranger home like a stray dog for  Hermes Un Jardin en Mediterranee.  How nice, that just a week after I wrote my Dear John letter to Iris that I should meet and fall in love with Fig within a day. Fickle? Oh yes. Like a widow on the make at a wake.

I love fig. I’ve never tried it before it (I know, shocking), but now I want to try EVERYTHING fig.

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Un Jardin opens with a quick and dirty boozy waft, almost like Rum and Raisin. Then when that burns off, you are left with a citrussy green aroma that is as pretty as the scent of a passion fruit, yet without any sickliness. In fact passion fruit is the nearest thing I could think of to describe fig. The perfumed aroma of a passion fruit, just opened, is a masterpiece of nature.  It is aromatic and natural and well, it smells like perfume. And so it is with fig. Both green and milky at the same time, this reminds me both of fresh dates and clean, leafy notes simultaneously.

This is a grown up’s perfume- I’d be surprised ( and delighted) if I smelled this on anyone under 25. There are similarities between this and Kelly Caleche, also by Jean Claude Ellena, in that there is a green “polished leather” note surrounded by petals that is common to both.

It has curious notes which make a refreshing change from the usual: Pistachio and Oleander, and Red Cedar and Cypress. Yet if I had to describe this without looking at notes, I would have said that this is Kelly Caleche with a punchy, rich middle, like drops of amber that melt on the tongue.

unjardinThis is the kind of fragrant moment that stops me in my tracks. From a casual “can I try this?” to a glazed eye robotic “I Must Buy. I Must Buy”, Un Jardin en Mediterranee had me entranced.  For a perfume blogger, I don’t have many full sized bottles. Only a few have caused me to fall in love quickly and have given me the Must Have feeling: Eau de Cartier, Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely, and Balmain Jolie Madame are good examples. Un Jardin is now another.

Jean Claude Ellena has mixed it seamlessly, with his trademark watercolour style, making the aroma a perfect dream of a light summer fig through smoked glass.

Hermes Un Jardin en Mediterranee  is Sheer Heaven. Nose glued to wrist. I feel sorry for whatever I review next since it will have a lot to live up to.

PS My seven year old son adores this and calls it awesome. He’s got taste, like his mother.

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Miller Harris L’Air de Rien: Dirty and Wonderful

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I have longed to try this, and made no secret of it. Yesterday, whilst I was at the beach, a good fairy left a 5ml phial on my doorstep. She looked suspiciously like our friend Lisa Wordbird, so once again, dear Wordbird, I thank you.

In previous reviews I have unexpectedly found the scent of unwashed underwear in Feminite Du Bois, Worth Courtesan (filthy!) and Balmain Ivoire de Balmain (vintage not modern). I fully expected a similar grimace from L’Air de Rien. Even Luca Turin in Perfumes the Guide says it smells of soiled underwear.  I couldn’t wait.

To my surprise, I loved L’Air de Rien.  I’m not sure I want to smell like it, but I love it the way I love a masterpiece in a gallery that I wouldn’t hang at home.

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It smells like the inside of a house or flat. You know how your friend’s homes have a particular smell that nobody else’s has? It’s not a bad thing, in fact it’s rather comforting.  Well L’Air de Rien smells of the inside of a flat where the hostess hasn’t yet showered after last night’s party and has burnt lots of  joss sticks to kill the worst of the spilled wine/crashed out guests smell.  It doesn’t smell of a person, it smells of a scene.

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It taps into the most basic of attractants: an unwashed body and  a musty Musk.

L’Air de Rien was created for Jane Birkin (also the inspiration behind the Birkin bag), an Englishwoman abroad, who despite her life in Paris, has lost none of her coarse accent  if Luca Turin is to be believed.  Created in 2006, it could easily have passed muster decades earlier.  It’s very Bohemian: hedonism, a bath once a week (whether you need it or not), cheap red wine and no money for food.

I suppose I should give a cursory mention to the notes listed on Fragrantica, but to do so seems to over analyse what amounts to a vivid scenario of a scent, where analysis could prick the bubble and make it disappear.

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Here we go: Neroli, Musk, Amber, Oakmoss, Vanilla,  and Patchouli.

But ignore that and just go with what you feel.

I think Miller Harris  L’Air de Rien is a work of genius and brings back memories of my London days in my mid twenties when parties were frequent and long term responsibility was far, far away.  Miller Harris scents are so evocative: often conjuring entire random scenes and memories in my head, and L’Air de Rien is the Queen of them all.

Estee Lauder Pleasures: Practically Perfect In Every Way

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Estee Lauder Pleasures was launched in 1995 and was a huge hit. After the excesses of the Look At Me 80s, this 90s fragrance was all about everything that was light, airy and pure. You know, like Gwyneth Paltrow.

 Pleasures was everywhere in the 90s including on me: I had a 100ml bottle and a body lotion no less.  It even tempted me away from my steadfast Chanel Cristalle for a  whole summer. There was a new optimism in the 90s. Everything was environmentally sound, and people were hugging trees and taking up Yoga and wearing white floaty shirts. You know, like Gwyneth Paltrow.

So what does it smell like? It smells like a photoshopped meadow on a summer’s day, all delicate blossom and green grass and fluffy clouds. It smells just like its advertising campaign, with original spokesmodel Elizabeth Hurley in the middle, looking ethereal all over billboards and fragrance shop windows.

To me Pleasures smells of Violet and Peony. It’s pretty as a picture. There are no dark or challenging notes, all is light as air. There are Green notes in the opening and  Violet Leaf making its presence felt. Lilac and Lily of The Valley make an appearance, and the basenotes introduce a little White Musk to this delightful bed of flower petals. It is impossibly feminine, almost bridal in its innocence and beauty.

Image I tried Pleasures recently and thought there was a silvery note in it. It’s hard to explain but it was more metallic than I remember, but not to any extreme, more of a tinkly silver wind chime.

Disappointingly, EL has seen the need to produce no less than SIXTEEN Pleasures flankers.  I’ve tried two: Pleasures Bloom and Pleasures Intense. Neither were a success for me.  It was as if someone had bulldozed my pretty meadow. It was as if someone had taken a Jane Austen novel, discovered people liked it and decided to make it into a Musical, a TV series and a range of dolls. Enough already!

 Pleasures is a classic. But leave the flankers well alone. You can have way too much of a good thing.  You know, like Gwyneth Paltrow.

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Stockists

You can buy Pleasures from  allbeauty.com or Fragrance Direct.

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Karl Lagerfeld Sun Moon Stars: No Wonder KL prefers Apres L’Ondee

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Rumour has it that Karl Lagerfeld wears Guerlain Apres L’Ondee as his preferred scent. I don’t blame him. He must have distanced himself considerably from his earlier efforts, (although KL Original Chloe remains an excellent budget tuberose for around ten pounds).

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I remember smelling Sun,Moon, Stars in 1995 when a friend of mine had a bottle, not long after its  launch in 1994. At the time, I wore Chanel Cristalle but also had a bottle of original Monsoon, with its little faux woven  pointed cap. I thought Sun, Moon, Stars and Monsoon smelled vaguely similar and remember finding SMS quite agreeable.

I miss the discontinued Monsoon (current Monsoon/Accesorize scents are not in the same league) and recently bought myself a little of Sun, Moon, Stars, hoping for some 90s magic. I bought it, brought it home, and got that familiar thrill when you first take the cellophane off a fresh bottle (I love that frisson!)

But wait…what fresh hell is this? Shreiky ,loud synthetic pineapple, which never smells good in scent, followed by some sort of metallic mess. I drooped. I was crestfallen. I washed it off.

Original Monsoon (apparently made as Wild Lagoon by Coty) was a wonderful green marine perfume with a mossy, patchouli base. Sun. Moon, Stars seems to have lost a lot in translation  and/or has been reformulated beyond all recognition until they can barely justify using the same name.

Top notes are: pineapple, peaches, bergamot, freesia, roses and waterlily. What you actually get is loud, fake, factory farmed pineapple and some cheap tinned peaches.

Middle notes claim to  include carnation, heliotrope, orris root, lily of the valley and jasmine. It sounds very promising, not to mention ambitious for its price tag, but in fact I couldn’t pick out anything but the pineapple and peaches.

Basenotes claim to be sandalwood, amber, musk, vanilla and cedar, but by this time it was  a mushy fake fruit mess with metallic undertones.

It’s bad. It’s really bad. It’s too late for me, but save yourselves! Once again, I found myself logging onto to eBay and offloading it onto some poor sap with no nose. My apologies to the poor sap.

Update August 2017: Breathe out. it’s discontinued!

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