Category Archives: modern

Chanel Chance Eau Tendre: A Thousand Ballerinas

Image

I occasionally stop by the Chanel counter on my wanderings, although it’s usually to sniff Chanel No 19 and top up my Cristalle levels.  I am not enamoured of No 5, and usually ignore the others (I know! Shame on me).  However, I was sent a sample of Chanel Chance Eau Tendre by those nice people at The Fragrance Shop and I have to say that it is prettier than I imagined.

Opening with Grapefruit, Quince and Hyacinth, it’s pure and Spring like, almost ethereal.  The Quince is like the lightest of apple/pear scents, and the hyacinth, although noticeable, is done with a delicate hand without going all Zoflora on me.  Little Wonder when you find that the legendary Jacques Polge is responsible.

Image
photo wiki

There’s no heavy vanilla or red fruit or spice, or in fact anything heavy enough to pin it down.  It’s like a Will’O the Wisp in its delicacy.  It makes me think of ballerinas in white tulle and pink satin ballet shoes and tinkly melodies and everything that is lovely and nice and pretty and girly.

There are not many perfumes that I would regard as only for men or only for women, but Eau Tendre really does seem to be only for women.  Pale, pretty, dancing women that are elusive like nymphs. It’s so pure that it has a comforting feel to it, like freshly washed crisp cotton sheets, or a soft white blanket.

There is allegedly Amber and Cedar in the base, but all I get is a fluffy sort of Musk, light as clouds. This would be an ideal “first perfume” for a teenager.  It’s not remotely provocative. Longevity is in keeping with its floaty image.  Now you smell it, now you don’t.  Pouf! it’s gone.  Like Tinkerbell in a floaty nightie.

Alyssa Ashley Musk: A Pocket Money Perfume

Image

 Alyssa Ashley Musk  has been around since cavemen, or so it feels.  Cavemen knew a thing or two about the attraction of scent. Musk is so classic it’s almost a cliché, and Alyssa Ashley Musk is no exception.

This is a delightful and rather simple musk.  It’s warm on the skin, and has a clean innocence: there’s nothing dirty or civety to see here; this is no Worth Courtesan (that stuff is filthy!).

I may be trying to compensate for reviewing a £300 bottle of perfume earlier today (Marc Jacobs Ivy £299 a bottle). Maybe that’s why I am singing the praises of this happy drugstore classic that remains eminently affordable and, I am reliably informed, pretty much the same as it ever was. Many a happy hippie smelled of this during the 70s, and I’m all for a bit of nostalgia.

AshleyModels

So what makes this different from other musks?  Well it’s less honeysuckle than Jovan White Musk, which is honey-sweet.  It’s a little similar to The Body Shop White Musk, but smells thinner. It’s not as floral or high pitched as Avon Soft Musk, and it smells a million times better than Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan, which smells of  old roll up cigarettes in a dirty ashtray. (See my review . Phew!).

Alyssa Ashley Musk is currently available for only £8.99 for a 100ml Eau parfumee cologen spray on Allbeauty.com (formerly Cheap Smells, and one of my favourite scent sites). There is always room in my bag for a drugstore classic.

What’s your favourite drugstore classic? Or Cheapie from the Chemist (if you’re in the UK)?

Follow

Marc Jacobs Ivy (Splash): Saw Price. Fainted.

Image

It was only recently that I realised how many fragrances were in the Marc Jacobs stable. In my ignorance, I thought it was Daisy and Dot and that Honey one and that was about it.  I couldn’t have been more wrong, but then the fragrance world has been such a steep learning curve for me that I am almost doing a complete loop the loop.

I started counting his scents and got muddled at around 30. For a start, Marc Jacobs has a range of incredibly classy splashes in sleek urban bottles that look as if they are from the World’s most expensive spa. There’s Cucumber (which I will gladly skip, thank you), Amber, Violet, Cranberry, pomegranate, Grass, Fig and Gardenia.  I haven’t smelled them, but I would move mountains to own any or all.

I have in my hands a sample of Marc Jacobs Ivy, courtesy of LisaWordbird, to whom I owe so much. My first impression was “Oh it’s green”, then “It’s for men”, then after  a few more minutes “Ahh, Vetiver”. Indeed, Ivy is  beautiful and green, and for men, and women, and gives a great Vetiver hit.

It is one of those wonderful scents that moves and changes as you wear it.  One minute it’s Gentleman’s cologne, the next it’s as green and fresh as mossy undergrowth in a wood,. Finally , there’s a Vetiver finish with a hint of suede to finish that smells like hiding in the silky lining of a man’s leather jacket.

marc jacobs

Male or female, this will smell good on anyone. Vetiver used to bring out my asthma (elderly alert!)  but here it is smooth and mixed seamlessly with pricky Autumnal spice. There is Cardoman and  a hint of sharp Orange for sure, but what makes this so refreshing in Autumn is its lack of gourmand notes.  The spice is used as if it is part of nature, rather than a  shelf in your kitchen. It prickles your senses like a chilly walk through crunchy leaves on the ground.

Price wise, I nearly choked on my mug of tea, sorry, I mean elegant Martini. Yes this is generous and comes in a 10oz bottle,  and no, I’m  not spending  £299 on it.

 

 

Follow

Tableau de Parfums: Ingrid by Andy Tauer : There is Warmth Behind the Hauteur

Image

This is the latest scent from the Tableau de Parfums range.: a collaboration between filmmaker Brian Pera and Perfumer Andy Tauer.  Ingrid joins previous creations Loretta (which I haven’t tried) and Miriam (which I have reviewed in this blog and which I liked very much).

It’s a new launch, only recently released, and I am lucky enough to have been able to obtain a sample from Scent and Sensibility, which for UK Tauer fans, is a very good way of sampling them without the annoying perfume posting regulations that are the bane of our lives. My sample was £4.50 for a 2ml spray. I consider this excellent value as longevity is so good.Image

Ingrid is hard to categorise.  I recently reviewed Vitriol d’œillet by Serge Lutens which is a Clove/Carnation combo.  At first I thought Ingrid was similar but I was wrong. Ingrid is earthy and reminds me of birch or tar or dried bracken. There is winter spice too, but not in a chintzy Christmas way, you’ll be relieved to know. The Rose is prevalent, and as with other Tauer scents, no Rose is the same twice.  In this case, the Rose reminds me of dried petals in a pot pourri- they have gone paper thin and their colour has faded but their scent has gone faintly peppery. Nevertheless it can still be recognised as Rose.

Image Ingrid is rich and spicy, but dry rather than sweet. It left me thinking I could smell the deep dark scent of Myrrh, but it may have been the resinous Styrax which is used so beautifully.

On my skin, the base notes of Ingrid are Clove, dried Roses, Resin and Frangipani. It’s rich, dark and mysterious yet the ingredients have been used lightly enough not to overwhelm.  It’s a winter scent that would make you stand out in the crowd for all the right reasons. It reminds me of bare wintery trees and faded petals and hot spiced brandy. It is layered and complex and beautiful. Longevity, as ever is excellent. Around ten hours. If ever a perfume was created to be worn in snow against a backdrop of stark bare branches, it was this. It injects spice into winter and warmth into frost.  It makes me think of a woman who is always immaculately dressed,  maybe a little scary, but deep down she has a heart of gold. I will always be friends with Ingrid and Miriam.

EDIT: Scent and Sensibility has now sadly closed.

 

 

Ralph Lauren Big Pony No 4 For Women: Death by Cherrybomb

 Image

On trying Ralph Lauren Big Pony Number 4 For Women, I was shocked to read the blurb. It is apparently intended for a “dynamic woman ready for challenges” and ” it is described with a floral-oriental composition created of wild cherry and violet amber”. I beg to differ.  The total berry overkill makes this a smellalike to Britney Spears Midnight Fantasy: a vanilla/strawberry candy floss concotion.  The only Midnight Fantasy it would create would be for that of a an 8 year old girl longing for a midnight feast having been banned from eating sugar. But I digress.

Ralph Lauren Big Pony Number 4, alleges to be a floral oriental.  Now maybe I’m getting this wrong but this is about as Oriental as fish and chips. On Fragrantica only two notes are listed: Cherry and Amber. The problem is that  the teeth clenchingly sweet Cherries simply dominate and the Amber only has the strength to peep out briefly from under a ten tonne cherry stone. This doesn’t come cheap either, but you can be comforted by the fact that if you know of any fans of Big Pony Number 4, you could easily decant the cheaper Britney Spears Midnight Fantasy into an empty bottle.  Or failing that, cherry syrup. “Dynamic Woman ready for challenges?”  More like a fourteen year old girl having a sleepover and googling Harry Styles on her IPhone.

Sarah Jessica Parker The Lovely Collection:Twilight

Image

 I am a big fan of Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely. It’s reasonably priced, beautifully packaged and smells like a cross between Lanvin Rumeur by the legendary Francis Kurkdjian, and Narciso Rodriguez For Her. Not bad for less than £20 for 100ml.

 However, her other fragrances are a little hit and miss.  Covet is Chocolate and Lavender (why?), Covet Pure Bloom has a cheap smelling base, and I can’t speak for SJP NYC  or NYC Pure Crush as I haven’t smelled them.

The Lovely Collection contains two very good budget scents: Dawn (violets and Angelica) and Endless (a Floral Musk). However, Twilight is not one of them.

When spraying Twilight, I was Initially pleased to get Amber straight away: A sheer wash of Amber, but Amber nevertheless.  So far so good.  However, within the hour, it had not only gone overboard with the Vanilla but had been positively drowned by it.  It was cheap Vanilla too, and its teeth clenching sweetness reminded me of Kylie Minogue fragrances with their sugary overkill. Oddly enough, Vanilla isn’t even listed as a note, but that’s all I could get from this. I was so excited to see Galbanum as a top note, but nope. Nada. Not a whiff of it.

This was so disappointingly bad that I washed it off before going to bed. Cheap and shrill and overly sweet, it was like a disappointing evening at the end of a great day.

My advice is to capitalise on Lovely’s loveliness, enjoy Dawn and Endless as quality budget buys, and pretty much skip the rest.

SJP Twilight: So much promise but it sadly didn’t deliver.

Image

Estee Lauder Beautiful: Beauty is Subjective

paulinaI had my first bottle of EstImageee Lauder Beautiful for my 18th birthday, bought for me by my father. I don’t know how he chose it.  He and Mum had been divorced for eight years by then, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t her idea.  It was 1988 and the adverts on the TV and in magazines portrayed the beautiful Paulina Porizkova as a bride. Certainly there is something very bridal about this many flowers in one place.

Beautiful pretty much uses so many floral notes that there are none left for anyone else.  Back then I noticed Roses.  These days I notice the Tuberose and the Jasmine more powerfully than any other notes.  In fact I’d go as far as to say that it doesn’t do to break Beautiful down into individual notes.  The cacophony of different flowers almost produces abeautiful-estee-lauder-perfumes new hybrid flower, which, if it existed in real life, you would only ever need one in a bouquet, and nothing else.  That would be plenty, believe me.

tuber

My taste has changed since I was 18, which was 25 years ago.  These days I don’t like my scents so sweet. However the creamy, loud, sweet flowers of Beautiful will always hold a place in my heart as it is the first proper bottle of perfume I ever owned.  I will never forget the thrill of seeing the pink and gold box when I took off the wrapping paper.

The notes include an eclectic range: Amber, Sandalwood, Rose, Carnation, Tuberose, Narcissus, Lilac, Bergamot, Jasmine, Geranium, Marigold…If you saw the notes written down and had never smelled Beautiful, you imagination would be thoroughly confused by all the contradictionsbeautiful.

Creamy flowers, loud and proud, with a warm, sandy finish. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but to me, it speaks of the idealised glamour I aspired to when I was 18, when even my spectacles were rose tinted.

Follow

Andy Tauer Le Maroc Pour Elle: In The Beginning…

Image

 

Le Maroc Pour Elle is the first perfume that Andy Tauer launched.  Luckily for us, its success persuaded him to make more and his second perfume, L’Air Du Desert Marocain, was even more successful and is spoken of in reverent tones by many a perfume fan. The rest is history.

 Le Maroc Pour Elle was an unusual one for me.  My first impression was that it smelled like a cross between Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass and  Worth Je Reviens.   However,  and it’s a big however, when the rose kicks in, the whole puzzle really comes together and makes sense.

Within around ten minutes this smells like one of those wonderful independent shops filled with a plethora of incense and candles and tiny phials of perfumes oils and pot pourri.  It’s very BoHo, very hippie, and has a whimsical nostalgia about it.

The lavender is strong, and pervades throughout, which can sometimes give a soapy/detergent feel when used with a heavy hand, but here, it is kept in check by the roses.

The base stays light, unlike many Tauers in which the basenotes become richer and resonant in the final phase. Le Maroc Pour Elle makes me think of a retro hippy market on a summer’s day, incense is in the air, you’re wearing freshly laundered clothes and walking past a flower shop. You’ve got all the time in the world and the sky is blue.

Image

PS My three year old stopped what he was doing and ran across the room to say “Mum, you smell LOVELY” whilst my seven year old said “No you don’t, you stink.”

Follow

Andy Tauer PHI Rose de Kandahar-It’s Here!

 Image

I am an unabashed fan of Andy Tauer. That doesn’t mean I blindly love everything he does: for some reason Reverie au Jardin disagrees with me, but I’d pretty much take a Tauer scent any day of the week.

What I love about Tauers is that Andy is a one man show.  He’s not a boardroom full of shirts looking at focus groups and trends.  He doesn’t have to go through a comittee and he’s not part of a global organisation (apart from having a distribution partner).  He’s a lone wolf and that makes things very interesting right from the start.

The development of PHI Rose de Kandahar has been well documented via Andy’s blog and Facebook page and it’s finally available in the UK.  This is a limited edition as Andy’s vat of Rose de Kandaher absolute is not bottomless (hence its inclusion in the “Collectibles” range). So now I finally have my treasured sample. Was it worth it?  Oh yes.

Image
fragrantica.com

PHI Rose de Kandahar has a Middle Eastern richness to it. Initially it’s honeyed roses and almonds and dried apricots: it reminds me of a scented Souk. At first this edible combination was very Turkish Delight, just for a moment.  But what happens next is that it transforms into, unless I’m mistaken, something not unlike a good Arabian Oud.  I often find Oud too strong for me, but in Rose de Kandahar it’s like a robust backdrop to something altogether more delicate. The irony is that there is no Oud in it, but the combination of tobacco, ambergris, vetiver and patchouli gives this a very rich and almost prickly base.   It’s like serving an aromatic Bacchanalian feast on a rough granite table. The contrast of the rough with the smooth enhances the delicacy of the ingredients.

Here are the notes as listed on Fragrantica:

 apricot, cinnamon,
bitter almond, bergamot

Rose of Kandahar essential oil,
Bulgaria rose absolute, Bourbon geranium, dried tobacco leaves.

patchouli, vetiver, vanilla,
tonka beans, musk, ambergris.

 There is an interesting Feel Good back-story to this.  The Kandahar roses that produce this absolute were grown in Afghanistan by farmers that have been subsidised to produce roses instead of growing plants that provide the base materials for drug use (“Hungerhilfe”). In other words, Make Roses, Not Drugs.

The wonderful fragrance alone is reason enough to love this, but  add the milk of human kindness and  you have just one of the many reasons to love PHI Rose de Kandahar.

Follow

Diesel Zero Plus Masculine: Stolen From My Husband

 Image

Out of all the fragrances I have bought for Mr IScent, Diesel Zero Plus Masculine is the one he wears every day and likes best. He smells wonderful in it, although it smells different on him than it does on me.  On him, it is a fresh, milky musk which is never overpowering, even at 7am when he kisses me goodbye for the day.

On me, it is fresh, green and spicy and could easily be marketed as a feminine Autumn scent without anyone batting an eyelid.  The most prominent notes when first sprayed are Green notes, Mandarin, Bergamot and  Spice: specifically Cinnamon and Nutmeg. The Green notes are woody and musty, like sodden leaves, but fresh and zingy at the same time.  After a while this beds down into a Musky Sandalwood finish, but with sharpness from the Oranges and Cardoman.  The Anise sneaks in for the final flourish, with warm Amber and Patchouli rounding things off nicely.

It’s ridiculously cheap for this kind of likable quality.  I bought this for around eight pounds in my local Bodycare shop, but it’s pretty much everywhere and very often less than ten pounds.

The bottle has lasted since last Christmas despite daily wear and is still nearly half full, making this extraordinary value for money.  It’s not up there with the Serges or the Guerlains, but it’s an excellent buy and I say phooey to male/female labels.  This is just a great Autumnal scent.

 

Follow