Category Archives: modern

Narciso Rodriguez For Her EDT: About Turn

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 I have often sung the praises of Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely: it is affordable, beautifully packaged and smells wonderful.  However, having finally met Narciso Rodriguez For Her, I feel my credit ought to have gone elsewhere.  They are so alike it is easy to mix them up when tested blind.  I could not tell them apart.

Whilst I still love Lovely, and will always have a bottle of it on my dressing table, it was launched in 2005, whilst NR for Her was launched the year before in 2004.  The similarity could be either coincidence, or homage. I refuse to think of it as olfactory plagiarism as I am so fond of Lovely and its Diffusion Line.

However, a great deal of credit must go to the Narciso Rodriguez Dream Team Christine Nagel and Francis Kurkdjian, both legends in their own right.  Interestingly, I always thought SJP Lovely was also similar to Lanvin Rumeur, which was created by, yes Francis Kurkdjian. And so the happy circle goes on.

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The similarities can be found in the fact that both perfumes start as a  rich floral that becomes Patchouli like and Woody almost as soon as the floral notes have registered.  Rather than being woody in a masculine sense, the prickly Patchouli and the clean florals produce an agreeable vintage note of nail polish, at least to me.  They both remind me of a 1950s dressing table with a layer of fine face powder and open bottles of nail colour and  several glass cut perfume bottles.  Both are impossibly feminine and elegant and I love them.

I am describing them together in one breath because try as I might, I cannot tell them apart. The notes listed for both are very different.  NR For Her purports to contain Bergamot, Neroli and no Patchouli at all.  Lovely is supposed to contain Lavender, Martini and Salt, yet both end results are the same.

The similarities are not necessarily a criticism.  As a diversion from the heaving mass of fruity florals and cheap candy floss patchoulis that the Noughties have drowned us in, these quality scents are worth their weight in gold.

I would go as far as to say that NR For Her was a game changer which spawned SJP Lovely, Estee Lauder Modern Muse, and even Avon bargain scent Rare Diamonds as mentioned earlier in my blog..

We needed NR For Her, and it came.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Passage D’Enfer: Heavenly!

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 How I love a bit of incense at Christmas!  Being a fan of both Andy Tauer’s Incense Rose and Comme Des Garcons Avignon, I am always ready to try a good churchy incense fragrance and L’Artisan Parfumeur Passage D’Enfer was no disappointment.

 Passage d’Enfer was created by the legendary, and prolific, Olivia Giacobetti, who  also has Frederic Malle’s En Passant and Hermes Hiris under her belt, to name but two of many.

The notes are simple, and sometimes that is all I ask of a perfume.  I get soft Wood and church standard Incense.  I know what I’m talking about here as I have sat through many a High Anglican Mass complete with Latin, plainsong, and thuribles, and jolly nice it was too. There is nothing Hellish about Passage D’Enfer, this is a divine scent that smells of aged church pews. The Lily and Musk were off the day I tried this and I couldn’t find them anywhere, but I didn’t mind. Their colleagues more than made up for their absence.

My only tiny bugbear is that with a smell this good, I would like to crank up the sillage and longevity and really make it sing like a choir, but sadly, it close to skin and rather faint after less than half an hour.  I guess I love it so much my skin just gobbled it all up.

Passage D’Enfer can be bought for around £80 per 100ml.  If it lasts on you, you have a wonderful winter gem of a fragarcne.

Avon Far Away Exotic: Much to my Surprise

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 I am a big Avon fan, although as I have said many times, the fragrances are hit and miss. The bestselling Avon fragrance, and one which they dare not discontinue for fear of riots, is Far Away.  In fact, as I  walk around my local town centre, I smell the slipstream of at least three people wearing this, every single time.  It is immensely popular. However, to me it smells like Vanilla and Coconut talc and it’s not to my taste at all.  It could be worse though, and I certainly don’t object to it. It is instantly recognisibale, however.

You can imagine my surprise then, when I tried Avon Far Away Exotic and thought it smelled Imagevery pleasant. It opens with ripe and juicy fruit: thirst quenching, like freshly cut apricots (I found out it is actually Mandarins and Mangos).  So juicy and unexpected was this that I could not stop sniffing and even briefly contemplated buying a bottle.

However after three hours of genuinely enjoying the lush fruits, Far Away Exotic reverted to type and the basenote ended in the familiar vanilla/coconut talc of the original Far Away.  I was nearly there!  And for under 6GBP (current price), I wouldn’t call it bad value at all.  To be honest, anything that doesn’t smell like fruity floral candy floss deserves a chance. We need to encourage changes of direction.

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Serge Lutens Mandarine Mandarin: A Festive Brew

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 This is my second time of trying Serge Lutens Mandarine Mandarin.  The first time smelled like orange crème brulee, which as much as I would to try that, I feel sure that I don’t wish to smell of it.

The second time, I like this a little more, but there is a note like dried Pot Pourri that just stops me short of loving it.  Maybe it’s the tea?

 Suddenly the fragrance comes back to me. As a child, I would place the peel on a hot burner of the stove, rendering a scent I’ll never forget- Serge Lutens

First off, I love oranges in scent.  I love Jesus del Pozo Ambar,  LUSH Karma, Biotherm Eau Vitaminee, and Ô de Lancome to name but four.  In Mandarine Mandarin the orange is used differently, like a resonant background that gets deeper and darker like a rich spice. There’s no more creamy, burnt note like there was the first time round. This smells like herbal tea, infused with all the parts of an orange that dear Christopher Sheldrake could get his hands on.  There is also a smell like marmalade that has been reduced to gloop on the stove. It’s not an immediate fondness, but it grows.

The notes are Tonka Bean, Orange, Mandarin, Nutmeg, Tea, Labdanum and Amber.  I haven’t listed them in order as they don’t really emerge in order.  Oranges and Tea come though first, followed by Amber and Nutmeg, and then it kind of settles into a cross between the above mentioned pot pourri and Oranges being steeped in dark tea.

Longevity is as good as ever with Serge Lutens and  the quality of ingredients is excellent.  It’s not for me, but it  might be for you, if you like what you hear. Oh and it’s very Christmassy! I wouldn’t wear this, but it would be unbeatable as a room scent at this time of year.

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Dior Dune: The Classic in the Corner

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Dior Dune is a steady seller that has had a firm fanbase for 22 years.  I cannot, off the top of my head, think of a recent launch that is anything quite like it, except perhaps for Penhaligon’s Love Potion No 9, created in 1998, which has some similarities.

Created just after the excesses of the Eighties, Dior’s 1991 creation was  almost a gateway between the heavy Orientals of the Eighties, and the “back to nature” feel of scent in the Nineties.  It kind of had a leg in each camp.

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When I think of Orientals, I often think of strong scents such as YSL Opium or Estee Lauder Cinnabar that, although excellent, can sometimes be too much for daytime (but what the heck, right?). However Dune, with its Woody notes and smooth undercurrent of velvety Patchouli, is certainly light enough for daytime, even office wear, whilst still retaining its originality and character.

The funny thing is that smelling this really does remind me of sand.  It’s smooth, dry and smells like it’s been baked in a dry desert heat.  It opens like an aldehyde, and when I first tried it today, I thought “Things ain’t what they used to be.”, but after half an hour that old familiar smell from when I was 21 came back just as I remember it. There is a sweetness I hadn’t picked up on in my youth, and I would attribute it to the citrus fruit within: in this case Oranges.  I often find that Oranges can work well alongside spice or wood in the same way that it can be used in a fruit cake without taking over.

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The basenotes come in fairly quickly and remain steady for around six or seven hours.  What I have at the end, when all has settled is a warm, Ambery, sandy scent like the heat of a Summer evening after a day on the beach. It’s not at the forefront of any big campaigns, it has just quietly got on with being a little bit of a classic.

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Dior Poison: If Darth Vader Was A Woman…

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Dior’s Poison blazed the trail for outrageous 80s scents that everyone still remembers.  They typified the 80s era of greed, glitz and excess. You were nobody unless you had shoulder pads, stilettos, and a mobile phone the size of a house brick. The mantra was “More is More” and Poison added it’s volume to the  clamour of noise to ensure anyone who wore it made an entrance.

Some perfumes are born a myth. Provocative and mysterious since its creation, Poison is Dior’s ultimate weapon of seduction.

Meanwhile, many people were wrinkling their noses at this confusing cacophony of perfume notes that were the olfactory equivalent of entering a nightclub whilst watching a television show and listening to music at the same time.

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photo:Wiki

Sometimes I can look at the notes in a perfume and ascertain whether I would like it or not.  This is not a substitute for trying it on skin, but it often helps me make a list of future Must Tries.

If you look at the notes in Poison, it would still be hard to imagine what it smelled like.  Smelling is believing. There’s Plum, Booze, Amber, Patchouli, Jasmine, Roses, Woods, Honey, Incense, Tuberose, Carnation, the kitchen sink, a cuddly toy, a coffee maker and Uncle Tom Cobley and all. I could go on. I can usually smell a hint of Liquorice too.

Poison will swallow up all  its rivals. In a room of a dozen different perfumes, you would only be able to smell the Poison wearer. It obliterates and dominates. Longevity is as long as a prison sentence and harder to reduce.

However, I will go against the grain and say it’s brilliantly done.  It captures an era in a bottle more effectively than a spell. It takes me back to being 15 years old and watching Joan Collins strut her stuff on Dynasty, whilst over on BBC, JR was pouring himself a large Scotch in the middle of the day, and on the news, Diana was all coy glances and dazzling gowns.  One whiff of Poison and I am there.

The bottle is like Cinderella’s pumpkin: full of dark magic.  I don’t want to smell like this, but I am so glad they made it.

Prada Infusion D’Iris: My New BFF

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My dislike of Iris has been a running theme throughout this blog, possibly because my first experiencew with Iris was the legendary Iris Poudre by Pierre Bourdon. It’s hard core Iris and brings out the root like vegetable smell of it, like a flower bulb.

However, despite valiant attempts to like Iris, I couldn’t pretend any longer.  Like a long polite lunch with disagreeable in laws,  I decided me and Iris were through, and I wasn’t going to try anymore.

So how come an Iris fragrance has just rocketed to the top of Christmas Wish List?  Step forward Prada Infusion D’Iris, you gorgeous creature you.

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photo:wiki

You may recall that I was recently enamoured with Miller Harris Terre D’Iris which was a citrussy Mediterranean take on the flower. The zing brought out a prettiness in Iris I hadn’t smelled before but I assumed it was a fluke.

Looks like it wasn’t a fluke after all, for Prada Infusion D’Iris has just knocked several competitors off the top spot and Mr IScent will shortly be directed towards a large bottle of it in time for Christmas.

Maybe it’s because the notes are extracted via the soaking method, producing a sweeter result, or maybe it’s because citrus, in this case, orange, brings out a bright, floral side to Iris that I found too grey and powdery before.

The basenotes are Incense, vetiver and galbanum, and whilst they all come through in their own measured way, at the top of the pile is iris, ladylike and prim and sophisticated.  All the carotty, dry root smell has gone, and in its place, a perfect, supremely chic flower.

Superb, excellent, marvellous, splendid and wonderful. Je t’aime, Iris.

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Marks and Spencer Florentyna White Flowers: A Lily, Ungilded.

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I tried this yesterday on my travels, and I was very impressed with it.  At its highest price, it is only 6.50GBP for a 30ml bottle, but the current sale means that a gift set containing a 30ml EDT and body lotion is only 4.75 today (see website or your local store, but hurry!).

It does what it says on the tin.  It is white flowers and nothing more, nothing less, but it is done very well.  It opens with unmistakable Lily, which sidesteps its occasional tendency to go all Image

vegetable soup on me,  and is enhanced by the addition of pretty orange flower and jasmine.  That’s about it really.  There’s no fancy allusions or long lists of aspirational base notes or middle notes.  It’s a clean, white scent that lingers for around four or five hours and is very feminine.  There is a hint of posh white soap in there somewhere too, which , as a fan of posh white soap, I never object to.

For a clean, inoffensive daytime Lily scent, this is the cheapest I’ve seen.  The price tag is deceptive: you could pay a lot more for lower grade tat elsewhere on the High Street.  This is classy and damned good.

Bond No 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory: I’m a Femme Fatale

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 I tried a few Bond No 9s in the past and was unimpressed.  This may have been because a) I wasn’t paying attention and b) I was breaking my golden rule of one at a time. Today I spent some time alone with Bond No 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory, and Reader, I can honestly report that this is true love. I am captivated.

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www.bondno9.com

You may recall my earlier review for Comme Des Garcons Series 3 Incense Avignon and how deeply I fell for it.  Silver Factory has similar incense, except that the incense here smells unholy rather than holy.  There is a whiff of sex and scandal, of Madonna and Whore (don’t mix those two up, she’ll sue). It encapsulates the era and it’s almost impossible to smell it without thinking of beautiful half naked pot smokers trying to find the answers through pleasure and hedonism.

There is Iris in a form I actually like i.e feminine and opaque, with no dry rooty nonsense going on. There is warm Amber, rich deep resins ( a very Sixties vibe, man) and a  girly soupcon of violet and lavender, like a distant conversation in the background.

I could happily wear this every day. It has made me want to revisit Bohemian parties of my past, with the much missed Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground in the background (not in person, sadly) as I stand around in a divine Woodstock-y fug, a social butterfly with a drink in my hand. Sheer Heaven, my friends.

EDIT: This has sadly been discontinued, but In have it on good authority that Tom Ford Plum Japonais gives you a similar fix.

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Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl: Worth Taking Seriously

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First of all, the creator of Tommy Girl is a legend in her own right. Calice Becker is the creator of Balmain Vent Vert,  Dior J’Adore,  Estee Lauder Beyond Paradise (which automatically makes Luca Turin one of her greatest fans), and a whole stable of Killians, to name but a few.

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photo by fragrantica.com

And yet Tommy Girl has a reputation for being popular with teenage girls.  It’s very much a must have within certain age groups, and I should imagine many a sixth form common room has been much improved by Ms Becker’s fragrance.

 Tommy Girl is a refreshing change from many young fragrances in that it is invigorating and effervescent rather than overly sweet. Opening notes are citrussy and refreshing, but they deftly sidestep the temptation to wander into Davidoff Cool water or Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey territory.

This is achieved by the right balance of floral preventing this from becoming aquatic.  There is refreshing Grapefruit, but also Magnolia.  There is sharp Lemon and Mandarin, but also Roses to tone it back down again. Violet, Honeysuckle and Camellia keep it young and pretty without going over to the Twee side.

The only note I take issue with is the alleged Leather in the basenote, which I did not get at all.

This is everything light and refreshing and youthful, but at the end of a long day, you still get some faded florals clinging prettily to your skin. A bargain, and possibly a modern classic.

Stockists

Tommy Girl is available from www.Boots.com or www.allbeauty.com and is usually well under £20.

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