Well I never realised that I’d be answering perfume problems for s fifth time, but here I am. I guess I’ve opened a can of worms. Still, as a perfume blogger, it’s clearly my job to end olfactory suffering. Call me the Florence Nightingale of fragrance foibles. By the way, did you know that Florence Nightingale wore Floris White Rose? Florence Fact.
I’m going to answer two problems today. Do join in if you have anything to add. I bow to your greater knowledge, my dear chums.
My first letter was from Dawn, who has kindly allowed me to quote from her email
Dear Aunty Sam,
I am in horrible mourning because I found out that Mugler absolutely stopped making Womanity. I tried wearing Jo Malone Wood Sage and Sea Salt but I hated it. Is there any way you can give me some fragrances to try that are as quirky as Womanity and that might actually dry down as wonderfully as Womanity did?
Thank you so much for writing to me. First of all, for full disclosure, Womanity is very much not for me. However, there is no right or wrong in perfume and if you need something, then I I want to get it for you. The two biggest notes in Womanity are caviar and fig. My suggestion is that you find a fragrance with caviar notes and layer a decent fig over the top. However, you told me that caviar scents are hard to find, and you’re right. It’s a pretty niche sort of note. If you wanted vanilla or jasmine I could write a list as long as my arm.
Looking at trusty Fragrantica, I can see that Diesel Bad For Men has a caviar note that smells “like a trickle of sweat down a man’s chiselled body”. You could try layering this with Library of Fragrance Fig or L’Artisan Parfumeur Premier Figueur, which has some of the woodiness of Womanity.
Now I’m not sure if this will work, so you may have to mix and layer until you find something you can live with. I do sympathise with you though. I am bereft at the loss of Gucci Envy ten years ago.
My other question was from the lovely Rachael, who asked a question that I once had myself until I figured it out.
Dear Aunty Sam
I’ve been wondering how to decant stuff for ages to make it more amenable to carrying around. I have a tendency to buy ‘bargain’ 50 or 100ml bottles and then don’t want to lug it everywhere with me, particularly in hot weather, when you need extra top-ups, but carry less stuff!
if you don’t mind my using unladylike language, a Travalo travel spray has a sort of cat’s bum on its bottom. You take your 100ml bottle, remove the nozzle and stick it up the bottom of your Travalo, and then you pump away until its full. No spill, no waste. Hope this helps. Once you get stuck in, you’ll find half full Travalos all over the house!
How About You?
Do you have any advice of your own to add to these dilemmas? Do you have any problems you’d like me to look into? (perfume only please, ahem.) Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
Ironically, I have in the past complemented two strangers on smelling fabulous, only to find out it was YSL Black Opium. I guess, like stilettoes, it’s good on other people but not for me.
Recently I came across the latest Black Opium flanker, Floral Shock. Anything with Shock in the title is always worth a punt and I tried two squirts on skin, one on sleeve and one on a blotter. Reader, if I told you that the blotter is still going strong after a week, would you believe me? It is true. This stuff has nuclear longevity, which makes it a curse or a blessing depending on your preference.
Personally, I could define very few differences between Floral Shock and Black Opium. The opening of Floral Shock is lighter than the opening of Black Opium and has more florals, as the name would suggest. Both open with pear and vanilla and sweet syrupy fruit, at least to my nose. Both have strong coffee notes and thick vanilla. In fact, the main difference between Black Opium and Black Opium Floral Shock is that the top notes of Floral Shock are slightly more floral. The flowers do a little shimmy number, and then Floral Shock turns back into Black Opium again.
Apparently, Floral Shock has no patchouli in it, but I discerned plenty, or maybe I was getting confused because Black Opium has it and this is very similar. What I know for sure is that if you already own a bottle of Black Opium then you probably don’t need this one too. There’s not much to play for. In a fight it would be a draw.
This review is, of course, just my opinion and not gospel. You may be one of the strangers I stopped and said “Sorry to bother you, but you smell amazing. What is it please?” If you do wear this, you probably smell great, but trust me, on my skin this was red syrupy fruit, pears, coffee, vanilla and a little touch of migraine.
Fans of YSL Mon Paris and Dior Poison Girl may well enjoy this too.
Stockists: I found this in House of Fraser. You can also buy it from The Fragrance Shop UK among other places.
How About You?
Have you tried Black Opium or Black Opium Floral Shock? or are you a fan of the original? Or even the original original? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
I was given a bottle of this at the recent Fragrance Foundation Awards, and I’m glad I was because the packaging and general image wouldn’t have otherwise tempted me. However, a good sniff of Babe Power converted this curmudgeon into a surprise fan.
Babe Power is the first fragrance from fashion label missguided. It’s a hot on trend label for hot on trend people and this fragrance is no exception. It steps out of class and sticks two fingers up at boring old glass perfume bottles and comes in a tin can that looks and feels exactly like a can of energy drink.
I did the sniff test on my family and gleaned the following verdicts: “bubble gum” “Haribo” and the rather unimaginative response: “perfume.”
The very first thing I got from Babe Power was sour cherries. Don’t be put off by the “sour” bit. This is a sharp cherry scent, unlike a sweet sickly “normal” cherry scent. The vanilla is almost indistinguishable from the cherry note as they are so co-dependent and entwined. In fact, just for fun, there’s also apple, pineapple, grapefruit and candy floss in here. The ingredients remind me of a very colourful beach hut style kiosk. There’s flowers too: very girly ones- jasmine, peony and orange flower. The jasmine and peony just peek through, but frankly the big bright fruity notes are partying too loud to answer the door.
This may sound like a mish mash, but actually it really, really works. I love the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously whilst getting the balance right. The sour cherries had me at hello, and the slightly play doh vanilla makes me love it even more.
I would like to predict that this will be a big success, but before I could even review this, it has become a huge bestseller in The Fragrance Shop. I wouldn’t sound very mystic and prophetic when this is already flying off the shelves so fast that passers-by have to duck.
Bravo missguided. Encore!
Missguided Babe Power is available from The Fragrance Shop for 27.50 for 80ml EDP. Opinions are my own.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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 email@example.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?
My dear Charlotte,
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”
The 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
This 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.
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. Firstly, 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.
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 respected 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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. 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).
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).
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.