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I Scent You a Night: The Fragrance Foundation UK Awards 2017

Ruby, you are not coming.

As you may have gathered, last Thursday  was the UK Fragrance Foundation Annual Awards Night (aka the Fifis) and saw a major gathering of the great and the good in the perfume industry.  By a happy turn of events, I found my little old self there too.

I attended as a guest of the Clive Christian team, which was both an honour and a privilege and I thank them warmly for inviting me.

I hadn’t been sure that attending would even be possible, with the night being on a school night, during term time and in London, around 150 miles from South Wales where Fort Scriven is situated.  After rearranging my family’s lives in order to facilitate my attendance, and a last-minute ear infection at 5.50am from my poorly son who failed to guilt me into cancelling, I was off.

sam frock

I may have mentioned before how kind perfume people are. Their generosity and thoughtfulness is legend, and tonight was no exception. I was invited to join brilliant perfume writer Stephan Matthews and Fifi award winner and perfumer Marina Barcenilla for a meet up and catch up prior to the noise and chaos. This meant I did not have to walk in alone and when we reached the venue and I saw the sheer enormity of the event, I was wholeheartedly grateful to have people to walk in with.

There were proper paparazzi and a big sponsored backdrop for better known people than I to be photographed on.  Red carpet was everywhere- I have some on my stairs at home, but it doesn’t have the same effect and it’s a sod to hoover.   There were sequinned hosts and black tie waiters with champagne holders that could hold about thirty glasses, unlike me.  I only had one  and stuck to soft drinks thereafter.  I had names to remember and an early bus and I could not figure out where my hotel was from a map.   Adding champagne would have been a disaster.  I might still be there now, looking for the exit.

Stephan and Marina are a hoot to hang out with and I was in awe of their knowledge: not just of the industry but of the process and raw materials.  Marina, as you may know, is a talented perfumer and very modest with it.  Plus hilarious and sweary also.

photo by kind permission of Sarah McCartney
photo by kind permission of Sarah McCartney

I had a chance to catch up with the charming Dariusz, aka Persolaise and a met a jolly good looking chap who looked very familiar.  I asked him what he did for a living “I’m a model” replied the charming model Oliver Cheshire.  If I was as good looking as him, I’d be a massive big head, but he wasn’t in the slightest and was delightful.

selfie with stephan and persolaise
L-R, Stephan Matthews, Me, Persolaise.

My chum and fume-idol Sarah McCartney arrived around then: a finalist in two categories for Mother Nature’s Naughty Daughters, and looking splendid in vintage couture, with vintage buttons gleaming like jewels.  We founded a two-strong campaign to restore the evening glove.  Check out our YouTube video above that’s snowballed into double viewing figures.

It was soon time to herd us upstairs to dinner and I was separated from my companions to join my hosts on the Clive Christian table.    My eyes had popped out on stalks when on seeing goody bags on every chair, so I popped them back in and tried to look gracious and not like a goody bag greedy guts.  Which I am.

The Clive Christian table were a truly lovely team of people and I was particularly bowled over to have a chat with Victoria Christian herself who, let me tell you, smelled INCREDIBLE. (She was wearing Clive Christian V and C together).  Luckily, fragrance gatherings are one of the few occasions where you can sniff people you have only just met without getting arrested.  Also on my table, I was delighted to see Jo Fairley of The Perfume Society,  who I hadn’t seen since I attended her workshop  last Saturday.

clive christian colour
Not a bribe- I returned it post-review, like a good egg.

You will hear more from me about Clive Christian throughout the year as there are exciting launches coming up soon, so watch this space.

After being entertained 1950s style by the fabulous Bye Bye Baby- a superb Frankie Valli style singing act, the awards began in earnest. There isn’t room here to list all the winners, so follow this link to Now Smell This,  but we had a lovely compere in the form of Natasha Kaplinksy, who looked great but was too far away to sniff.

sam and marina
Double FiFi Winner, beautiful and talented Marina Barcenilla.

I was disappointed that Sarah McCartney didn’t win, but delighted that Marina Barcenilla won for Black Osmanthus.  Marina and Sarah  are true perfumers who make their own stuff,  source their own materials and get  their hands dirty.  I love perfumers who do that and if it were up to me, I’d create a special category for the dirty hands gang.

From Woman and Home magazine
From Woman and Home magazine

The Fragrance Foundation was celebrating its twenty fifth birthday that night and it was fascinating to watch a showreel of perfume ads over the last 25 years.  How things have changed!  The night was finally over, all bar the dancing, but this tired Cinders could bear no more after a very long day.   Finding the exit was like trying to leave Ikea but I just about made it out of there before I turned into a pumpkin.

Them Fragrance Foundation people sure know how to throw a party.

Goodnight, Nos da, Pyjamas.

Who are you wearing?

Samantha Scriven was dressed by The Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice Charity Shop, Cwmbran and the YMCA Shop Blackwood.  Jewellery by Marks and Spencer from four years ago.   Make up by Avon and Rimmel.   Hair by Salon Scriven and two hotel mirrors.   Scent of the Night was Le Jardin Retrouvé Tuberose Trianon.

jr-tuberose

 

How I Improved My Sense of Smell with The Perfume Society

sam smile

Some blog posts are very hard to write because I’m so afraid I won’t do them justice. This is one of them.  I was on such a high after coming back from the Perfume Society Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshop that I was neither use nor ornament for about 48 hours.

lucky scarf
If ever a scarf were the right scarf for an occasion, it was my perfume scarf. It smells good too!

First of all, The Perfume Society is three years old and is the only body of its type in the world.  They know this because they googled to find a perfume society before realising there wasn’t one. The Perfume Society is the brainchild of legendary beauty editor and writer Jo Fairley and her business partner Lorna McKay.  I have been reading Jo’s work since around 2000 ish,  before blogging was invented and  back when I was a One Scent woman.   10299686_1560529210840279_596234111_a

The workshops are not just exclusive to London, so it really is worth subscribing to The Perfume Society, if only to get access to The Scented Letter and Discovery Box discounts.  The workshop I attended was in the basement of The New Moon Tapas Bar in Clifton.

It was a wonderfully informative, but informal session that made me feel like I was BFFs with everyone around the table, and not just my real life BFF Lisa, who was also there.  Jo is an engaging speaker and delivers the workshop in an accessible and inclusive way that felt like a chat with a friend except with far more “Wow! I never knew that” moments.

You may think that having written 817 blog posts about perfume that I might know a lot.  Well I know about  1% of what I actually want and need to know.   However, you very much do NOT have to be a blogger in order to attend.   For one thing, the amount of experience and knowledge you need to attend the workshop is ZERO.  No experience required.

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My perfect afternoon. Jo Fairley took this so is sadly not in it. Photo courtesy of The Perfume Society.

So, what happens? Well, we were made comfortable with  refreshments and introduced ourselves, which wasn’t cringy like work training, but friendly like meeting your tribe. There were six of us altogether and it was especially lovely to meet Claire, who I have been following on Instagram and talking to on the perfume group Eau my Soul.

Jo explained that part of the mission of The Perfume Society is to put us back in touch with our sense of smell, referred to by Helen Keller as “The Fallen Angel of the Senses” and she was right.   Back when we were cavewomen, we could sniff out herbs, non-toxic berries and woolly mammoths, but now our sense of smell has been blunted by modern conveniences.

The workshop goes about starting us on the path to putting this right.  We did some very interesting sniffing, giving our impressions in an atmosphere in which there was no right or wrong.  There was also a very interesting exercise in which we tried minty Green and Black’s chocolate to see if it was smell or taste that gave us the minty hit.  The answer really surprised me.  Plus, you know, Green and Blacks. *swoon* (something else we have Jo to thank for).

The third section was the bring a bottle party.  Some of it was 80% proof. Yes, I’m talking fragrance.  Prior to attending, we were asked to bring a bottle of our favourite scent.  I had to be very strict with myself and put the wheelbarrow back before leaving the house with just one: Art de Parfum Gin &Tonic.

our selection
Recognise any favourites?

My adorable colleagues, as I now thought of them,  brought a few each, so we had great fun diving on the stuff we hadn’t smelled yet and sharing opinions. On top of that we were given goody bags to take home. Reader, this was better than my birthday.

As if that wasn’t enough fun, we then got the chance to buy Discovery Boxes and the gorgeous Perfume Society Scented Skincare set at big discounts.  As if that wasn’t enough, we then go to visit a brand-new niche perfumery called Shy Mimosa, which I will write about separately, and where we also had a big discount.

aedes de venustes
The tempting shelves at Shy Mimosa

So, was it worth it going?  Did I improve my sense of smell? Yes, and yes and it was wonderful and I had several OMG moments where I made surprising discoveries and oh, my stars, what a day!

If you ever get the chance to attend one, go.  Just go.  They’re not just in London and you don’t need to know anything beforehand. If there’s not one near you, then email The Perfume Society and tell them.   They will listen.  Unless you live alone on a remote island that can only be reached by catamaran at high tide.  Apart from that, if enough people clamour, then you never know…

cocottes

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Dear Aunty Sam: Your Perfume Problems Answered-Part Four

‘La mauvaise nouvelle’ (‘Bad News’) (1804) by Marguerite Gérard (1761-1837). Oil on canvas. Musée du Louvre, Paris

Once again, I am putting on my glasses and trying to look important  Yes, indeed:  it’s time for more of your perfume problems!

I must apologise to poor Charlotte who wrote in with this week’s problem.  It’s taken me so long to respond and I apologise profusely.  I do hope you still like me Charlotte! I blame the Easter Holidays,  a camping trip, several writing jobs, my two children,  four workmen,  a drain, a flood and a loss adjustor.  I’ll be quicker next time, so do write in! You can email me on iscentyouaday@gmail.com or comment below or on my Facebook page.

Here is Charlotte’s letter:

Dear Aunty Sam

I absolutely love Viktor &Rolf Flowerbomb but it is SO expensive! Can you suggest other scents that are very similar but not quite so pricy?

Charlotte

flowerbomb ad

My dear Charlotte,

rsz_dr_sam (1)This is an excellent question and I’m sure you’re not alone in wanting an answer.  Viktor and Rolf Flowerbomb is much beloved, but as you point out,  not very cheap.   Many perfume fans reckon it smells similar to mega blockbuster Lancôme La Vie est Belle. To give credit where it’s due, Flowerbomb got there first, way back in 2005,  whereas La Vie est Belle didn’t emerge until 2012.

So what can I recommend that will make you smell amazingly Flowerbomb-like and still be budget friendly?  Here goes:

World Class Perfumes Perfumer’s Choice “Natalie”

natalieThe World Class Perfume Group owns Milton Lloyd and Taylor of London, who make a lot of the Lentheric and Yardley stuff of yesteryear such as Panache and Chique.

The Perfumer’s Choice arm of the business has a small range of very long-lasting fragrances which are guaranteed to last at least six hours, and I can vouch that they definitely do.  Natalie is so similar to La Vie est Belle that I thought I’d sprayed the wrong bottle.  It lasted around eight hours and has the combo of flowers and warm, sweet gourmand notes that make it so similar that this blogger was fooled.  The packaging ain’t fancy, but, boy, it’s value for money.  I reviewed it here and at the time, I couldn’t quite make the connection as I don’t think I was familiar with its doppelganger at the time,  but I smelled it recently and thought YES.

Coming in at the very reasonable price of £14 for 83m of EDP, or £7 for 50ml of Parfum de Toilette (to me PDT is stronger than EDT, not quite as strong as EDP) Perfumer’s Choice Natalie is available from this website or from Amazon UK.

Agent Provocateur Fatale

agentprovThis has the big white flowers and the patchouli and orchid of Flowerbomb.  Imagine Flowerbomb with an accent of grated dark chocolate and you’re not far off AP Fatale.  Available for just 12,95 from one of my favourite sites : allbeauty. com, this is far cheaper than Flowerbomb and possibly cheap enough to risk a blind buy.

I hope this helps you Charlotte, and again, I do apologise for the lengthy delay

Ask me for help!

Are you pensive about perfumes? Fanatical about fragrance?  Addled by aldehydes?  Confused dot com?  I’m here to answer any questions you might have, whether it’s a smellalike, a reformulation question or a where-can-I-buy-it query.  Just ask.  I always love to hear from you.

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The Very Best Celebrity Fragrances 2017 (The Updated IScent Guide)

stash-ad

The problem with celebrity fragrances is that they keep getting discontinued.  Out of my favourites from just three years ago, around six are impossible to get now.  The rumour on the grapevine is that celeb fragrances are on the way out, or at least on the way down, and I have mixed feelings about this. antonio_banderas_blue_seduction_for_men1Firstly, if all celeb fragrances were of the fruity floral fruitichoulil smellalike genre that so many were, then fine.  See ya.  No problem here. However, celebrity fragrances are like jumble sales.  It might look like a load of junk but when you rummage, you find gold and treasure.

withlove

The other great thing about celebrity fragrances is that they are not expensive. They’re competing with other celebrity fragrances which are also not expensive, so they can’t risk sky high prices. That’s not their demographic.  Oh, and don’t forget that the celebrity doesn’t actually make them.  Celeb fragrances are made by liztemrespected houses such as Givauden, Coty and Elizabeth Arden.  I really can’t see Beyoncé in a lab coat with a pipette moaning about the price of orris butter, can you?  Lovely mental image though.

I have found some absolute gems among celeb fragrances and I am genuinely sad not to be able to buy some of them anymore.

What follows below is an up-to-date, up-to-the minute round up of celebrity fragrances that you can definitely easily buy at the moment at the time of going to press, I promise.  Some are old faithfuls that have been around a while, and show no signs of leaving,  and some are new.  All of them are jolly good, at least in my opinion.

stasg long ad

  1.  Sarah Jessica Parker Stash SJP

This is my number one favourite.   SJP is rare in that she is deeply involved in the scents she creates and her own tastes influence what she launches.  In the case of Stash, I applaud her for taking a risk.  This smoky sandalwood and incense treat was never going to be a mass market crowd pleaser, but critics and fumeheads love it, as do I.  Here’s my review and here’s where you can buy it.

lovely

  1.  Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely

I wear this regularly and now that my 100ml bottle is going down, I’m looking to replace it.  It suits just about everyone and to me, it has a wonderful 50s retro feel.  You can read my review here.  Many compare it to Narciso Rodriguez For Her.  You can buy Lovely in many places at varying prices. I bought mine from  here.

jloglow

  1.   JLo Glow

A wonderfully clean scent that reminds me of freshly washed hair and clean laundry.  It lasts for ages too.   Launched in 2002, this shows no sign of going anyway and has become a classic for good reason.  You can buy it here. 

curious_britney_competition

  1.  Britney Spears Curious

This was launched way back in ’04, which is a long time ago in the perfume universe..  I complimented a friend on this and asked her what she was wearing- I was surprised when I found out it was Britney Curious as I’d written it off.   Its use of magnolia and pear sets it apart from the usual pink sugary fruity florals and it has a lovely light feel to it with no stickiness.  Extra points for the beautiful blue glass bottle, and if you can get one with the puffy squeezy atomiser, even better.  You can buy it here.

rihanna3

  1.  Rihanna Rogue

Rogue made an impact on me because it didn’t go in the obvious direction that it could have. I t could have gone all pink pepper and red berries and vanilla, but it didn’t.  In fact, it reminded me of Serge Lutens Daim Blond, which is all about the unusual but genius combination of suede and apricots.  Here’s my review of Rogue and here’s where you can buy it.

reblfleur

  1.  Rihanna Reb’l Fleur

I have a full 100ml bottle of this.  I wouldn’t normally have thought of buying it, but my dear brother picked it out for me himself for my birthday. I was so touched. I hardly ever get perfume as a gift (violins!) and I was delighted to get this whopper.  Reb’l Fleur is a heavy hitting, patchouli rich fruity floral with a hit of coconut and vanilla.   Sillage is massive and longevity huge.  Two sprays in the morning and you’ll be sorted till tea time. You can buy it here.

sensational

  1.  Celine Dion Sensational

By a happy turn of fate, I stumbled across this in my local Lloyds Pharmacy when I was picking up my husband’s prescription.  There was a tester at the till and it was on special offer at 9.99.  I didn’t buy it  that day, and when I went back, it was gone.   However, I fell in love with it.  It lasted at least seven hours and was a delicious melange of pear, plum, freesia, lily of the valley and violet.  It opens like a juicy tropical fruit scent and segues into a stunning musky floral.  The nose behind it is the legendary Maurice Roucel.  This one is at the top of my Wanted list. You can buy it here.

liz t

  1. Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds

This opens like an aldehyde and ends like a chypre.  Full of old school Hollywood glamour, this is bursting with all the rich white flowers: tuberose, jasmine, neroli.  It’s not really one for the young palate of today, but as a fan of classic chypres and big eighties sillage, this is right up my street.  It’s cheap as chips and widely available.  Round of applause for the diamante choker round its neck. You can buy it here.

adam levine

9.  Adam Levine For Her

This is a real gem that often goes under the radar.  Lisa Jones let me borrow her bottle and I was very impressed. This comes in a smart white box in a bottle that’s shaped like a microphone. This is a woody, slightly spicy scent with a long, langorous sandalwood base.  It is so cheap I was suspicious, but I can vouch for its fabulousness.  Plus you know, Adam Levine.  Cor.  You can read my review here and buy it from here for less than ten quid.  Oh, and it’s totally unisex, so ignore the “For Her” label.

www.fruugo.co.uk
www.fruugo.co.uk
  1. Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights

This has featured on my previous best celeb scents list and it qualifies for this one because it is still available and still cheap.  It has patchouli, papyrus and amber, and many say that it is a dead ringer for Prada Amber ( and it is!).  Still available on Amazon for under £20 for a big bottle.  Here’s my review.

jlopez_deseo-perfumeThe ones I miss

The following celeb fragrances are either available but three times the price they were, or impossible to find.  Reader, I mourn them: JLo Deseo, Hilary Duff with Love, Sarah Jessica Parker The Lovely Collection- Dawn, Endless and Twilight, Queen by Queen Latifah, Manifesto by Isabella Rossellini.

celeb discont

The ones I want to try

Antonio Banderas’s vast range (he has been launching scent since 1997), Drew Barrymore’s new ones, Joan Collins’ new ones for Marks and Spencer, Sofia by Sofia Vergara and Elizabeth Taylor Gardenia and Passion, which I still haven’t tried.

 How about you?

What celebrity fragrances do you like to wear? Which ones do you miss?  Which do you want to try?  Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

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Yardley English Freesia

yardley freesia

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.”

I recently obtained a sample of Yardley English Freesia from the Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box and I can report that standards remain high on the flower front.

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.

mod class official

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.

photo by www.bakker.com
photo by www.bakker.com

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.

Stockists

Yardley English Freesia is available from Boots or Amazon.co.uk. Prices range from around £9.99 for 50ml upwards, making this a bargain.  My sample was from the Perfume Society Modern Classic Discovery Box which is available here. Opinions are my own.

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Dear Aunty Sam: Your Perfume Problems Answered-Part Three

evelyn de morgan
Evelyn de Morgan, The Love Potion

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.

rsz_dr_sam (1)

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?

Jane

Dear Jane,

Please don’t be sorry, I love being Aunty Sam!  Green Tea is one of those light hesperide notes fuji-green-tea-eau-de-cologne-1-640x640that 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.

atelier-cologne-oolang-infini-perfume-unisex___2 (1)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.

 

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Dear Aunty Sam,

joyimageI 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

rsz_dr_sam (1) 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.

vintage perfumeThe 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 always love to hear from you.

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Clive Christian 1872 For Women: Living the Dream


cc 1872

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.

cliveMy 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.   Queen Victoria let the  Crown Perfumery company use the image of her crown as a symbol of quality on their bottles, and when they went out of business, Clive Christian stepped in and the brand was born (and the beautiful bottles are the same design).

clive christian colour

So, what does it smell like?

The first things that make their presence felt in 1872 are 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).

cc trio

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.

clive-logo

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.

Stockists

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.

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Share your #smellfie for #nationalfragranceday!

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.

BeFunky Design triple smellfie

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.

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Five Decades of #Scent Memories: National Fragrance Day 2017

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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.

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, Woogiraffedleigh 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.

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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

sindyplaying 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.

1980s collage

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.

collage 1990s

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)

noughties collage

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.

twenteens

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.

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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.

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My Trip to The Jasmine Awards 2017 by Samantha Scriven aged 47 and one month.

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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. *

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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.bafta sign

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.

Me, Nick and Sarah. Photo from the Fragrance Foundation
Me, Nick and Sarah. Photo from the Fragrance Foundation

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.

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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 big screeb

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.

stage shot jasmine

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

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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.outside bafta

Home Time

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.

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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

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