When I need a floral that does what it says it will do, I go to Yardley. They don’t add vanilla and caramel and syrup: they showcase the flower and add a few notes that enhance it. I already have Yardley English Rose, Yardley April Violets, Yardley English Bluebell and Yardley English Lavender in my collection. They are brilliant alone or layered over other scent that you want to “flower-up.”
Freesia is a naturally light spring time flower, and is often hard to pin down in a fragrance. However, the addition of a chorus of stars makes this an all singing floral treat.
English Freesia opens with, as you might guess, freesia but this is surrounded by refreshing eau de cologne style citrus notes. There’s bergamot, lemon and mandarin as well as a touch of lavender, giving this a unisex appeal, although I am yet to persuade my husband that wearing freesia to the office is a good idea.
The middle notes carry spicy ginger and pepper. You might not think they would go, but actually the ginger goes particularly well with the freesia, helping this airy fairy note to stay grounded.
The base is both woody and floral, although I wouldn’t really call it sandalwood. The mandarins are still there at the end, as is the ginger. All in all, this opens as a citrus, segues into a spicy floral, and beds down into a combination of the two. Longevity wasn’t as good as I might have liked, but I have ways of making it last ( sleeves, hair, lapels, moisturised skin).
For the price, this is a steal. I will probably buy a bottle to add it to the Yardley bouquet on my dressing table.
Well, this HAS been popular. I asked you to send in your perfume problems and you did and now we’re back for part three like olfactory gluttons. This week I’ll be looking at how to make Green Tea fragrances last longer and whether old perfume is OK to wear.
Reader Jane McLeod wrote to me and said:
Dear Aunty Sam,
I’m delighted to hear that green notes are coming back! My favourite note in perfume is the tea note, but despite an on/off relationship with both Bvlgari’s The Vert and Arden’s Green Tea they never last on my skin. I’ve hunted many tea perfumes down, but no luck. Sorry to send you back to yourAunty Sam role of the previous few blogs, but is there any tea fragrance that does last on the skin I wonder?
Please don’t be sorry, I love being Aunty Sam! Green Tea is one of those light hesperide notes that needs anchoring to stay put.
The perfect perfume brand for you would be Atelier Cologne. They take all these wonderful light notes that we love from colognes and use super long lasting ingredients that means even a citrus scent stays citrussy for up to 9 hours. You might like to try Atelier Cologne Oolong Infini. It’s a long lasting tea scent, although I don’t it’s Green Tea. Failing that, spray your usual Green Tea scent on clothes, collars, scarves, sleeves and/or hair.
Fabric often carries scent for longer than skin. You might like to try the new Body Shop Fuji Green Tea range. With lots of body products, you can layer and build your green tea scent for a longer lasting result.
Dear Aunty Sam,
I have a general perfume question. Does perfume ever go off?
I have a few bottles of scent, not all strictly perfume, but ranging from body spray to actual Eau de Parfum, which are open and which I’ve realized have been open for years. Medal of honour goes to a bottle of Joy by Jean Patou, a present from my Mum which is so gorgeous I’ve been saving it for special occasions – so much so that this bottle is coming up to seven years old. I must use it more often!
Does it matter? If they still smell nice in the bottle, are they safe to use?
Love from Eleanor
My dear Eleanor,
Now that’s a very interesting question and the answer is yes and no.
I have some wonderful vintage Balmain Jolie Madame that looks as if it’s over 50 years old. It still smells great. On the other hand, I recently bought a discontinued Body Shop fragrance called Aqua Lily from a car boots sale, which was most definitely “off” despite it being only a few years old. There was a scorched smell that didn’t lessen or go away.
The answer lies in storage. I f a scent has been kept in its box and fairly cool or at room temperature, it should be OK. If it’s been kept out of a box and stored on a windowsill or in direct sunlight, as I suspect my Body Shop find was, then it probably won’t be.
As a rule, many vintage scents were made before the seismic regulations of IFRA banned any remotely harmful ingredients, which means that nobody can guarantee vintage won’t give you a rash, so do a patch test first. The other advice applies to food past its best before as well as scent: use your nose. If it smells good, it probably is good.
PS Don’t save it for special occasions- wear it all the time!
Over to you
One thing I get asked most often is about smellalikes. Readers are often looking for a close match to a discontinued favourite, or a budget friendly match to a pricey special occasion scent. Either way, I’m your woman, so do write in if you have a question on any aspect of fragrance.
I was recently sent a bottle of Clive Christian 1872 For Women to see what I thought of it. I already had friendly feelings towards the brand as I had met the legendary Keith at the Clive Christian desk at Fortnum and Mason. He knows the brand better than I know myself.
My second visit to the same desk yielded a fascinating tour of the scents and some samples from the lovely Tamara. Both were charming and did not appear to mind that I did not (could not) purchase a bottle.
Let’s get the awkward money chat out of the way right now- this stuff is really expensive. Doesn’t mean we can’t sniff anf enjoy though. In fact, if you did have money to invest in scent, you could do a lot worse than Clive Christian with its rich heritage dating from, yes, you’ve guessed it, 1872. Even Queen Victoria let the company use the image of her crown as a symbol of quality, and she could be pretty grumpy.
So, what does it smell like?
The first thing that makes its presence felt with 1872 is citrus and herbs, namely lemon and rosemary. Rather than give this a culinary feel, however, it gives it a light, clean sorbet opening. It cleanses the palate before you’ve eaten the entrée.
The middle note brings out the chorus of jasmine and freesia, but the big diva here is the Rose de Mai. Whilst this precious rose is very much in the room, there is something cold and metallic about 1872. Maybe because it smells faintly aquatic, or because it lacks a warmth- I don’t know. Sometimes, in the hot weather, a cold scent is what you need to cool down so I declare this an excellent scent for summer, (if memory serves. Haven’t seen sun for a loooong time).
As the base notes kick in, this becomes a floral lemon/lime melange. It smells crisp and cool, like pressed linen, and with only a trace of the oak moss I was hoping to be enveloped by. The base then settles like a sunset into richer notes: a hit of patchouli and a satisfying fix of dark guaiac wood.
Some Fragrantica readers reckon that this smells a bit like Calvin Klein CK One. Now, whilst I can see similarities, Clive Christian 1872 has more depth and resonance and far more complexity. I have always found CK One to be a bit shrill on me, in any case.
All in all, if I had a money tree in my garden like my children think I have, then yes, this beautiful green and gold bottle would live happily on my dressing table, and I’d let it bring all its friends.
Clive Christian is available from Fortnum and Mason or from Harrods. My bottle is on loan and opinions are my own. Which rhymes.
Thank you to Claudia: this is on its way back after its little holiday chez IScent.
Yes, it’s National Fragrance Day 2017, although if you’re a fumehead like me, ( and you probably are if you’re reading this blog) then every day is Fragrance Day. Taking a #smellfie is all the rage on this special day , and I felt I must run with the pack.
However, being a bit of a luddite and not having fathomed out the selfie stick I had for Christmas, I was forced to use the least worst shots of a lengthy smellfie session. Plus I seem to either stare or blink- no middle ground.
Dear reader, you can see the conclusion I arived at. The scent I chose, by the way, is Mary Greenwell Fire. I bought it last year from The Fragrance Shop for the princley sum of £19.99 and it’s become a firm favourite. Do not ever throw the lid at anything fragile though, unless you are trying to escape from a dangerous animal. The lid weighs a ton and could smash a phone box. Remember phone boxes? That’s a #scentmemory I’d rather not revisit.
How about you? What would you take a smellfie with? Your SOTD or your favourite ever? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
Dear reader, I am now in my fifth decade and due to toast the start of my sixth in 2020 when I turn 50.
To me, scent is like a Tardis. It takes you back in time so fast that you can be stepping out the Tardis door into 1976 after one whiff of Panache. More instantly evocative than a photograph or a song, a fragrance can whisk you back to the scent of the primary school teacher whose name you forget, but whose perfume you can recall as if a switch has been flicked in your head.
Please join me on my mini odyssey through the smell of the 70s, 80s, 90s, Noughties and Twenteens and do share your #scentmemories below.
The Smell of the 1970s.
I was born in 1970. The first ten years of my life can be summed up, at least in the olfactory sense, as a combination of cigarette smoke (not mine), the smell of a roast cooking, mud, ferns, bluebells, Woodleigh Green Apple Shampoo, Avon Pretty Peach and Avon Occur, in a giraffe shaped bottle, no less. Quite how giraffes and perfume go together, I never thought to question, but he literally had some brass neck.
My teachers wore Cacharel Anais Anais, which hasn’t changed to this day, as long as you sidestep the “Delice” version. I can’t remember what scent my mother wore, but she always smelled nice. My grandmother wore Coty L’Aimant, which I didn’t recognise then, but which moves me to gusty sighs of melancholy now she isn’t here.
The Smell of the 1980s.
Formative years mean a thirst to both stand out and blend in at the same time. I was groping for an identity and slowly moving into and out of adolescence. It was 1981 before I gradually weaned myself off
playing with Sindy dolls. I can still vividly recall the smell of the vinyl heads and strange nylon hair, inevitably knotted to all hell within a week of ownership.
My first ever scent that I paid for myself was a splash bottle of Bluebell perfume from Boots No 7. Long since discontinued, I have sought that bluebell scent ever since. My mother bought me a bottle of Jontue from a trip she went on, and one Christmas I had a bottle of Cachet. I wore this A LOT. I also remember Avon Eau Givreé: a beautiful green hesperide that has long since been discontinued.
My teens saw me receive my first ever bottle of proper fragrance from my father for my 18th birthday. It was Estee Lauder Beautiful and I still love it now. 1988 saw me leave home at go to Exeter Uni, where the most memorable scents were Marlboro cigarettes, red wine and lashings of Cacharel LouLou.
Meanwhile, over in Denver Colorado, Alexis Carrington was cracking the whip. Excess, big shoulder pads, big hair and big smells were all the rage. On the High Street, there was the unmistakable cloud of Giorgio Beverly Hills and a miasma of Dior Poison mingled with Body Shop White Musk and Dewberry. The Nightclubs smelled of Calvin Klein Obsession, and my one little egg shaped bottle took me into the 1990s.
The Smell of the 1990s
The caring, sharing Nineties sobered everyone up and made us wear ozonic scents in an urge to cleanse ourselves of the Eighties excesses. All my friends smelled of Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey, which is no bad thing. I had discovered Chanel Cristalle, also a light scent that was the opposite side of the spectrum to Poison, Obsession and Giorgio. The 1990s saw me graduate and move to London, which smelled very different to Devon. London air is thicker, dirtier and there were more cigarettes smoked and more traffic fumes, but reader, to me it was the smell of freedom and wonder and possibility.
1992 saw the launch of the iconic Thierry Mugler Angel. I remember smelling it for the first time in Harrods Perfume Hall and thinking “but why would I want to smell like chocolate?” I appreciate it now of course, for the multi-faceted classic it is, but back then it was revolutionary among the ozonic and airy fairy Nineties scents. Meanwhile, in 1997, Gucci launched the now much-mourned Gucci Envy. So good was this floral green scent with a vein of metal running through it, that I dumped Cristalle and remained almost exclusive to Gucci Envy until it was cruelly taken from us in 2007.
The Smell of The Noughties
The Noughties saw a revolution in celebrity fragrance. Elizabeth Taylor had been churning them out since 1991, but they were largely seen as fan fodder until 2002 when Jennifer Lopez launched the brilliant Glow. It was a clean, white fragrance that pleased the crowds and began a snowball of celebrity fragrances taking off. Britney Spears got in on it, as did many of her contemporaries and soon the perfumeries were chock full of celeb scents. Sarah Jessica Parker brought new possibilities with SJP Lovely and some of the snobbery dissipated when we realised that celebrity stuff can be pretty darn good. (I’m still a celeb scent geek)
The noughties also mark the only two years of my adult life where I have been without any fragrance and that’s because I had my sons during that decade. Their first scent memory is of my skin. No deodorant, no perfume, just me. It wasn’t easy getting those babies, but it was worth it.
The Smell of the Twenteens
Now things really start to spice up. I started my blog on January 2nd 2013. It was a combination of an urge to write and a channel for my reawakened perfume passion. This was brought about by a lean period, during which Chanel was very much out of reach. As a result, I developed a bit of a cheap and cheerful habit as my receipts from allbeauty.com will attest. From that, and the three huge boxes of samples that dear Lisa Jones let me borrow, the floodgates opened.
The biggest scent launch of the Twenteens has to be the seminal Lancome La Vie est Belle. The fruity floral explosion of the early ‘teens segued into a river of caramel and praline Hot on its heels was YSL Black Opium , which dismayed many Opium fans, but brought a cohort of new fans to the brand.
In recent times, I’ve been coming across the semi-ubiquitous jasmine sambac note that seems to be so popular right now. You can find it in Paco Rabanne Olympea, Givenchy Dahlia Divin and Versace Eros. The big launch of 2017 is Mon Guerlain, and whilst it’s not my cup of tea, I do harbour hopes that it will lead us into a big lavender trend.
As we point in the direction of 2020, I’m looking forward to the alleged forthcoming trends of milk notes, peony and a renaissance of my favourite genre: green notes.
Interestingly, celebrity fragrance sales are on the wane, but guess what’s on the up? Niche perfume. Which is very good news indeedy.
How about you?
What scents bring back instant memories for you? It doesn’t matter how random or everyday they are, I always love to hear from you.
My dears, I returned from the Jasmines only yesterday and it has taken until now for me to process the explosion of glamour and excitement that happened to me.
It was a thrill to receive that first email from the Fragrance Foundation back in January, letting me know I had been shortlisted. Since then, it has been the biggest event in my calendar.
But What Fragrance to Wear?
I wasn’t too worried about what clothes what to wear, although I had a last-minute lingerie malfunction which meant I ended up looking like I was going for a job interview in an undertaker’s. Still, wearing black all the time never hurt Margot Fonteyn or Edith Piaf (is what I keep telling myself). The biggest problem I had was what scent to wear? That one kept me awake for a while, I can tell you. *
The Awards were to be hosted at Bafta, and due to its early 8.45 am start, I had to come up the night before. I stayed in a hotel near the most beautiful station in the world, St Pancras. This was rather handy since there was a large branch of Pret a Manger in St Pancras station. We don’t have Pret in Wales (violins) so, it’s my eatery of choice when I’m back in the Big Smoke.
The Big Day Arrives. I’m All a-Quiver!
Being a swot, I arrived in Piccadilly an hour early on the morning of The Jasmines and made use of a nearby Costa (This is why London is never cheap when I visit). I was as nervous as if I was going to a job interview. As a natural introvert, networking makes my armpits prickle, but perfume people are outrageously lovely, as was the case later on.
Crossing the Bafta threshold was a thrill. Seeing the big gold mask on the wall and seeing uniformed doormen made my heart go all fluttery.
When I arrived, there was a huge floral centrepiece with scented rose petals a-wafting through the air, along with coffee and posh pastries (sorry for the food writing. I’m really hungry). My nerves left me as conversation began to flow.
Here I am, Name Dropping
At one point, I shook hands with a dapper looking Roja Dove. Yes, he was wearing silk slippers, and no, he hadn’t heard of my blog.
I was delighted to see the impossibly glamorous Suzy Nightingale again, and chuffed to beans to meet one of my sheroes, Jo Fairley of The Perfume Society. I have been reading Jo’s writing since the year 2000 and never thought I would be acquainted with her in real life. I also met lovely Penny from The Perfume Society, but it was in the Ladies Toilets so we didn’t get to chat more, sadly. The Perfume Society is my mothership.
I had a lovely surprise when I saw perfume guru Nick Gilbert and perfumer Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays arrive. I wasn’t expecting them and I was over the moon to see familiar faces. An added bionus was that I also got to meet the delightful Marina Barcenilla, who I wrote about only last week.
If I tell you that Sarah McCartney was wearing colour block fortuny pleats with dragon fins on, would you believe me? She was and she pulled it off, although rumour has it she startled a dog earlier in the day: and comedian Jeremy Hardy, but that’s another story.
The Big Moment
At 9.30am we were ushered into the awards room. There was a big screen and a stage at the front, where the judges and hosts were seated. The category I was shortlisted for was the “Best Digital Experience” award for my article about Mandy Aftel’s Memento Mori. I had stiff competition, and was honoured to be among them. Thomas Dunckley, aka The Candy Perfume Boy won, and deservedly so.
Thomas is a gifted writer who manages to combine unimpeachable expertise with wit and warmth. He won two in total, leading me to ask him to please start writing badly in order that I may have a chance one year. He gallantly agreed, but reader, I think he is incapable of writing badly.
There were many winners that morning, and all of them deserving and worthy of the beautiful Lalique awards. What struck me most, however, was the atmosphere. It was friendly, celebratory and warm. The perfume world has people from all walks of life, including a mum of two from Cwmbran who grew up in a council house (ahem), and Roja Dove.
Earl Grey at Simpson’s
I felt deeply honoured to be treated to a pot of Earl Grey at the former Simpson’s on the Strand by perfumer extraordinaire Sarah McCartney, Sarah is fantastic company and so curious about the world and the people in it.
We were joined by another very talented perfumer, Ruth Mastenbroek. I tell you, I was not ignorant of the privilege this affords to a perfume blogger and I felt quite tongue tied despite them both being engaging and lovely.
They did lose me when they started talking about parabens, but I was thinking “Wow, look at me. With them. Up here!” We were also, by pure coincidence, just a few tables away from comedian Jeremy Hardy. Sarah had bumped into him a total of four times that day and I can promise that none of it was planned, officer.
Like the best dreams, the bubbles popped and by 3.15 I was back in Cwmbran collecting my son from school, wondering what to make for tea and thinking “This is what Pam Ewing must have felt like when Bobby got out of the shower” It couldn’t have been a dream. It felt too real.
My dear chums, I am financially poorer after the hotel and train bill, (and Pret and Costa) but I don’t think I have ever felt richer or luckier. Thank you to the Fragrance Foundation for letting me experience such an unforgettable day.
*My SOTD was Sandalwood Sacre by le Jardin Retrouvé.
And the Winners are…
Best Digital Fragrance Experience
‘Six Scents to Put Hairs on Your Chest’ by Thomas Dunckley for The Candy Perfume Boy
Jasmine Literary Award
‘Every Scent Tells a Tale’ by Joanne Harris for Good Housekeeping
Best Digital Article on Fragrance
‘A Scent for Self-Appreciation’ by Lizzie Ostrom for The Pool
Jasmine Soundbite (News Press) ‘Smells Like Tom Hiddleston (I Wish)’ by Lesley Thomas for The Times
Jasmine Visual Award
‘A Perfume Paints a Thousand Words’ by Jan Masters (words & creative) and Roberto Greco (creative) for Harrods Magazine
Best Article in a Consumer Magazine ‘The Wearing of the Green’ by James Craven for Les Senteurs
Most Creative Visual Award
‘All of a Quiver’ by Jan Masters (words) and Rebecca Baio, David Newton & Barney Pickard (creative) for Harrods Magazine.
Jasmine Soundbite (Independent)
‘Eau so Masc – Thoughts on Gender in Perfumer & the Rive Gauche Rebellion’ by Thomas Dunckley for The Candy Perfume Boy
Jasmine Rising Star Award
‘2017 – The Year of the Milk Notes’ by Lauren Crabran for Scents Blog
Jasmine Soundbite (Magazines)
‘Midnight Garden’ by Jan Masters for Harrods Magazine
Jasmine Independent Literary Award
‘Scenting my Mental Illness’ by Laurin Taylor for Basenotes
Jasmine Soundbite (News Press)
‘Smells Like Tom Hiddleston (I Wish)’ by Lesley Thomas for The Times
Best Practical Guide to Fragrance
‘The Top Ten Niche Fragrances Every Beginner Should Sample’ by Clare Vukcevic for Basenotes
Two weeks ago, I invited you to send me your perfume problems. This week a dear friend of the blog, Cassieflower, came to me with the following problem. Reader, I share her pain. It hurts when a favourite is reformulated or discontinued . Cassieflower, you are not alone!
Dear Aunty Sam,
I hope you, or indeed some of your readers, can help. My all-time favourite perfume is Fidji by Guy Laroche, and even though this can still be found cheaply on lots of sites it really is only a shadow of its former self. I used to wear it in parfum strength but nowadays the only offering is edt, and that just don’t cut the mustard with me. Any suggestions for a replacement would be most welcome. Pleeeze and fankoo
Firstly, you have excellent taste. That’s a given. Guy Laroche Fidji is quality stuff. I had a bottle back in the 80s and it was green and gorgeous and landed me compliments. Unfortunately, reformulations are so very widespread, as we know. There’s a whole support group for traumatised fans of original YSL Opium, or at least there should be.
I went out today and tried Fidji in my local Perfume Shop to jog my memory. It is indeed far weaker than I remember it. However, it reminded me of two perfumes. The first is Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps. Fidji is almost a greener flanker to L’Air du Temps. Both have the orris root, carnation, iris, violet, spices, oakmoss and aldehydes. The second scent that Fidji reminded me of is Clinique Calyx. It’s not as close a match, but Calyx has the transparent greenery that Fidji has, albeit with a touch more tropical/botanical fruit going on.
As for Fidji itself, it does seem to be widely available in eau de toilette form and not much else. The only advice I can offer is drench yourself in the EDT in summer and break out the L’Air du Temps eau de parfum in colder weather. I promise you will always smell wonderful.
I also had a plea from reader Mia who has fallen in love with Maison Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540– and who can blame her? However with a hefty price tag, Mia is looking for something in the same vein that is slightly kinder on the old budget. Mia- you are singing my song! I’m having a very frugal March at the moment.
Dear Aunty Sam
Hello! I’ve fallen in love with Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540. Smells like warmed skin and caramel but 100000x better. I can’t stop sniffing my wrists and cooing sweet nothings to this scent when I’m wearing. Problem is, I can’t afford it atm. Any cheaper recommendations to tide me over? Thank you so much!
Thanks so much for writing in. You’re among friends here. Please help yourself to tissues. We’re used to traumatised perfume fans.
Baccarat Rouge 540 is indeed as lovely as you say, although it barely stayed on my skin at all. It was close to skin immediately after I sprayed and then poof! Gone.
I’ve been digging around on your behalf and I came across what I think is the best match. There is a company called Dua Perfumes who make a scent called Casino Royale. This has many notes in common with MFK Baccarat Rouge 540: notably saffron, mandarin, cedar and fir balsam ( actually pine in Baccarat, but same forest).
The bad news is that they are based in the USA. The good news is that there is a company in the UK called FragranceSamples UK who stock samples of other Dua perfumes, although not Casino Royale. I’m sure if you ask them nicely they could get some in. Sample prices are just over £11 for a generous 5ml sample, so not quite as spendy as Cap’n Kurk! You could also try Givenchy Pi, which has a similar herby orange opening and a muted gourmand base via almond and tonka notes.
Got a perfume problem? A scent situation? A fragrant foible?
Do keep sending in your questions. If I can’t answer them, I am sure helpful readers will be able to share their experience and knowledge too. We’re a lovely bunch.
Write your questions in the comments box below or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are very shy, I will even answer them privately. I’m nice like that.
Over to you
Do you agree with my answers? Would you add or change anything? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
It’s finally here. The much hyped, much talked about new fragrance from Guerlain. Angelina Jolie makes such a perfect spokesmodel that you can’t help but wonder at the fact that this is her first fragrance campaign. Understandably, most of the campaigns that keep her busy have more altruistic ends, although she is donating her full fee to charity, which again, does not surprise me.
Strictly speaking, this isn’t a new fragrance, but a slightly edited version of Mon Exclusif, which I can’t comment on because I never smelled it.
In some ways, Mon Guerlain was a pleasant surprise and in other ways, it was a disappointment.
The pleasant surprise is the audacious use of lavender. This is a prominent note, even in the TV advert, where bunches of lavender are placed strategically around the pristine French country manor that an ethereal Jolie wanders around whilst wistfully smiling. It’s clearly not her real house as white walls and white sofas don’t exist when you have six children or teenagers.
Lavender has had an unfair press and is often written off as *shudder* “old lady”. I always eschew such terms. In fact, lavender has been used in gentleman’s colognes since the very early days of scent, and has been in use for pomanders since Elizabethan times. There’s nothing old fashioned about lavender. Old lady? NO. Classic and traditional- YES.
In Mon Guerlain the lavender lights up the top notes and makes it beautifully airy and lilac-like (lilacky?). I love how feminine it is. It has a cleanness and a purity that fits in with the floaty white dress Jolie is drifting about in during the advert. The bergamot and lavender combo that introduces Mon Guerlain was my favourite part.
The middle phase is fairly generic: the combo of jasmine sambac and vanilla has been done beyond cliché now, but if Guerlain are going mainstream, then that’s where they have to go I suppose.
However, (and if this were a personal appraisal, my tone of voice might indicate that you failed your probation), the lavender was not big enough to save this, at least for me.
I cannot argue with sales figures. I cannot deny that gourmands, especially of the caramel type, are not a raging success. La Vie est Belle is practically ubiquitous now and the tide shows no sign of being stemmed.
Mon Guerlain, is admittedly, an understated gourmand, but a gourmand it is. In fact, I’m confused. Lavender and food doesn’t really “go”. Even the Lavender Cupcakes made by my shero Nigella don’t really make my mouth water. In the last stages of wearing Mon Guerlain, what I got was pipe smoke. You know the smell of dried cherry tobacco in a tobacconist? You might not if you’re younger than middle aged me. It reminded me of unsmoked, unrolled rolling tobacco, with lavender and toffees in it.
So what’s my verdict? I think that Angelina will attract buyers, the lavender may repel or confuse younger palates, and the gourmand finish will attract them back if the lavender didn’t put them off. So, a bit of a hybrid, really.
Also: longevity- not good. Usually a 2ml sample lasts me around three days, but this went in 12 hours. Every drop has gone. this is probbaly because II kept having to reapply. It disappeared within about forty minutes.
I wanted to like this. I was open minded, but I just don’t. I hope it marks a fashion for a lavender come back, but other than that, I won’t be getting a full bottle.
Incidentally, although I happened upon a sales assistant opening the box of Mon Guerlain samples on 28th Feb, I saw no trace of this in my local House of Fraser today. Granted, it’s a small branch, but hmm. Naughty HOF.
Lately I have been asked many questions by people with queries about perfume. These vary from “what smells like…?” queries to “Where can I get…?” queries. It got me thinking, my friends. How about a little post that’s all about your perfume questions and queries?
Just email me or post your question below or on Twitter or Facebook and I will do my very best to answer them. You can even be anonymous if you like!
So, fire away. Do you want to know if there’s a smellalike to a long discontinued favourite? Does a newly reformulated favourite resemble an old one? Which are the best cheap and cheerfuls? Tell Aunty Sam your scented dilemmas. I’m all ears and all nostrils!
Now that my blog is four, I thought I’d better do some housekeeping. One of my most popular articles is “Perfume for Paupers”, written two years ago. It was my guide to how you can smell good without blowing the budget. It was written from the heart (and from past experience ), since I believe that you don’t have to be rich to smell good.
However, as you know, the industry changes faces like a kaleidoscope in even a short space of time. For example, many celeb scents that I reviewed then, have been discontinued, and many new affordable options have appeared on the market in just two years. However, much of what I wrote in my earlier article still stands: shop around, be selective, use eBay, look past the label. I reckon it’s time for an update. Here’s my guide on how to smell good without feeling bad.
Leave your snobbery at the door
I used to be in an exclusive long term relationship with Chanel Cristalle and would only rarely have flings with other scent on the side. During a frugal period in my life, I decided to shop around, and my love affair with scent truly blossomed. I hold allbeauty.com and Home Bargains responsible for this. I bought the cheapest scent I could afford and ended up finding some firm favourites. High price tags do not always mean high quality., and vice versa. Don’t overlook celebrity fragrances either. They are all made by professional Noses and are usually cheaper than other brands. Some of my favourite celeb scents are under £10.
Ok, I’m starting to sound obsessed with Avon now, but when you an find a decent perfume for under seven quid, well, then it’s very hard to stay away. In fact my SOTD is Avon Rare Platinum and those tuberose wafts are very pleasing to my nose today. Avon Perceive Oasis was my summer scent more than any other in 2016. I even bought a back up bottle.I give Avon a further thumbs up for selling purse sprays at just £3 and for currently selling Scent Essence Lime Verbena for just £2.50 for 30ml. All prices correct at time of posting.
I have bought a lot of perfume from eBay and have never been let down. EBay is pretty strict on counterfeit and it’s not worth most people’s trouble to try and sell the odd fake. Having said that, there’s no guarantee it’ll never happen to you, but in seven years I’ve not been conned. EBay is also great for perfume samples which helps avoid costly blind buys. I’ve also scored some blinders from a local car boot sale. Never underestimate how much somebody else can dislike a perfectly good bottle of perfume and be desperate to get rid of it. That, my friends, is when you circle and swoop.
Success stories: 100ml of Cabotine for £3.99 on eBay, bottle of LouLou and assorted samples for £7 on eBay, bottle of half used 100ml of Rive Gauche for £4 at car boot sale. Full 50ml bottle of Chanel Coco EDP for £26 on eBay.
Some of my favourite cheap and cheerfuls are the kind of scent young folk today might label as “Nan perfume”. I prefer the term “classic. ” Nobody will put me off Coty L’Aimant or Chique and I could buy both bottles with ten quid and still have change for a Daim Bar.
If you’re saving for a bottle of the good stuff and in between bottles,, why not just buy a few samples and use your favourites on high days and holidays? It’s cheaper than a full bottle and you can always smell expensive without having a shelf full of posh bottles and no money in the bank.
You’d be amazed how many of your friends have been given perfume they don’t like and don’t wear. Nobody seems to throw it away though, so get asking. You might find they have one of your favourites and that dusty bottle you can’t get rid of might be just their cup of tea. I dare you to ask four friends if they have a bottle of perfume they don’t really wear. It also works on forums such as Fragrantica, Mumsnet and Fragcomm.
Many men’s fragrances are cheaper than women’s ( though not all). There’s no rule that says you can’t wear his stuff or that he can’t wear yours. Having said that, although I reguarly raid my husband’s scent collection (I chose most of it- ergo it’s mine.) I can’t see my husband borrowing my SJP Lovely to wear for work anytime soon. Shame. Florals can smell good on men.
Here’s what I mean by cheap and cheerful for chaps: Old Spce (cheap as chips) doesn’t smell a million miles away from Yves Saint Laurent Opium. (Thanks for the tip Portia of APJ), and Avon men’s fragrances are truly excellent. I wore Wilderness for Men for the whole of August one year, with a pretty sun dress. I say Pah! to labels. If it smells good wear it.
These mini rollerballs are available from Amazon and eBay. Containing no alcohol, and usually in rollerball format, these are an unbeatably cheap way to layer notes or wear the scent alone. The jasmine and the rose single note fragrances are pretty good too. They make good presents and a 10ml rollerball is perfect for even the smallest of handbags.