Category Archives: modern

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

 Image

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

Image

 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.

Follow

Clarins Eau des Jardins: Summer In a Bottle

 Image

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

Image

 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.

Image
cheapsmells.com

 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.

 

Aura by Loewe: The Tide is Turning

Image

We all know how celebrated the French perfume industry is, but let’s hear some good words about the lesser lauded Spanish perfume industry. As I may have mentioned, I am a big fan of  Jesus del Pozo Ambar (top of my Christmas Wish List as my small bottle is nearly empty), and of course, there’s Balenciaga, Paco Rabanne and even Dana, a Spanish born company that has taken over many drugstore classics such as Tabu, Chantilly and Le Jardin.  Loewe is a Spanish company that is famous for its luxe luggage and bags and has branched out, as have the world and his dog, into the fragrance world.

Image
FragranceShop.co.uk

The first time I tried a Loewe fragrance , it was from a previous Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Box and it was called Quizas Quizas Quizas Pasion.  I believe I also called it “Death by Red Berries”. Aura is a great improvement, although the leftover red berries sadly didn’t go to waste.  Aura is, refreshingly, a mainstream High Street leather.  Can we call it a chypre? I think we can. I sometimes get muddled by the definition of a chypre, but the excellent Perfume Shrine blog has, what is to my mind, the definitive article on Chypres.  

Image
wiki commons

Aura is simply made. Top notes: Red Berries, Bergamot and Pink Pepper. Middle notes: Rose, Violet Leaf, Iris and Jasmine and Base notes : Cedar, Leather and Sandalwood.  It’s an unusual journey. Initially I was on the brink of dismissal when I caught a waft of red berries again, but as I persevered, I realised that the basenotes were as good as their word and what I am left with after a an hour is a Leather, Rose, Sandalwood mélange which is really rather good.

Longevity could be better: on me it fades after two hours, but that’s not to say it won’t last longer on you.  You may recall that Delices de Cartier evaporated immediately on my skin, yet others praise its twelve hour longevity on them.   If I were Queen of The World (and it’s just a matter of time), I would order Loewe to stop using the red berries, and crank up the Leather. But that’s just me.

It’s not a chypre in the same class as, say, my beloved Jolie Madame, nor is it a leather in the same league as Cuir de Russie or Bulgari Black. However, I am so thrilled to meet a new launch that doesn’t smell like a candy shop, that I feel it would be churlish to criticise.  When you finally coax something out the woodwork, you don’t want to scare it back off again.

Aura by Loewe is available from the Fragrance Shop for £53.50 for a 40ml EDP with body lotion.  Not to be confused with Aura by Swarowski.

JLo Glow: Off to a Great Start

 Image

Jennifer Lopez was one of the first celebrities to launch her own signature fragrance line.  She follows early pioneers of Celeb scents Cher, Elizabeth Taylor and Antonio Banderas.  JLo Glow was launched back in 2002, and has broken records with its hugely successful sales figures. It is worth looking at an early celeb scent to see how and why things changed so much  from Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds and JLo Glow (both very good) to the fruity floribundances we have today.  (PS I just made up the word floribundances. You may use it. You’re welcome).

Image
Amazon.co.uk

Today in 2013, High Street perfume shops would look very meagre without the vast range of celeb scents padding out the shelves. It has become a phenomenon. I often tell people (and my Mum) it is worth remembering that all celeb scents are made by professional, experienced Noses, but are often at the cheaper end of the market. Keep looking past the tacky packaging (I’m looking at you Justin Bieber) and you stumble across a gem such as Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights or Hilary Duff With Love: both celeb scents that I consider excellent. The name means nothing to me, I just want to know if it smells good. And if it does, I’ll wear it. I don’t care whose name is on the bottle. My snobbery went out the window a while back when I spent 3.99 on 15ml of Duff’s With Love and I had an epiphany smelling the rich Tropical Guaic Wood . Not what I expected at all.

Image
Amazon.co.uk

I often think the celeb scent market is like a jumble sale. It may look unpromising, but if you keep trying, you may find treasure.

Right at the start, before the boom began, there was JLo with Glow. Still around now, and still a steady seller, I tried it recently and was very pleasantly surprised. It’s soapy and clean smelling, like freshly shampooed hair. It reminded me a little of Cacharel Noa, only without the bloom’n’fade coffee bean opening.

The soapiness is not aldehydic, like say, First by Van Cleef and Arpels which stands a league above, but it is more Herbal Essences.  If you, like me, buy your shampoo based on whether you like the smell, then you may like this clean hair scent with light flower petals, light grapefruit, and gentle White Musk.

glow ad

After the soap faded into an innocent gentility, there was some definite Tuberose action going on, which lasted until the very end. Longevity was excellent in fact.  I tried two sprays of Glow at 9.15am and at 6pm it was still close to skin. Not bad at all for a good value scent.  I had a slight issue with the fact that the very last hours of the basenotes were a bit synthetic, but the good points outweigh the bad by a long chalk.

Adding to the bonhomie I am feeling towards this gem is the rumour that JLo is very involved in her scents, and they are much more than a sign off to her.  I am already a fan of JLo Deseo, and now I am a fan of Glow too.

Stockists

You can buy Glow from many places, including allbeauty.com and Amazon UK to name but two.

Boss Jour Pour Femme EDP: Can It Be True? A Hat Trick?

 Image

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.


Image

Image
fragrantica.com

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.

Image
fragrantica.com

 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

 Image

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.

Image
fragrantica.com

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.

Image
pfaf.org

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


Image

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.

Image
fragrantica.com

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.