Category Archives: Musk perfume

Flower by Kenzo: A True Modern Classic

kenzo flower

Flower by Kenzo just hasn’t been on my radar until I opened my Modern Classics Discovery Box from The Perfume Society. You know when something is so familiar that you don’t notice it anymore?  Well that must be why I didn’t actually know what Flower by Kenzo smelled like until now.  I see it everywhere and yet I pass by.  Now I’ve finally taken time to stop and smell the Flower (sorry) What a revelation!

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Flower by Kenzo opens with light citrus notes and atouch of herby hawthorn that beds down into soft violet and roses.  Now, you might be thinking YSL Paris when you hear violet and roses,  but this is more like very expensive luxury thrice milled talc.  There is a deliciously clean powdery note that has what can only be called a “fluffiness” about it.  It evoked memories of those talcum puffs I used to buy my late grandmothers- you know, a marabou puff in a little round box or tin.  Gorgeousness.

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The flowers in Flower by Kenzo are present but subdued, as if being inhaled through a diaphanous white veil.  The base has a faint spice thanks to the frankincense, but even that’s a mere puff and a wisp. The overriding finish is one of powdery white musk with a hint of violets. This is the ultimate perfect day time scent.  In fact, my dear teacher friend Janet (she’ll laugh when she sees this) wears this to work and I can’t think of a nicer way to scent a classroom.  This iscomforting, pure, and makes you smell as if you come from a good home with fluffy towels and clean laundry.

Flower by Kenzo is indeed a Modern Classic.  It suits all ages and would also make a great first perfume for a young fragrance rookie.

Stockists

Kenzo Flower is widely available.  Try allbeauty.com or John Lewis. Alternatively, you will find a sample in The Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box like wot I did.

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L’Occitane Terre de Lumiere: The Perfect Summer’s Day

terre de lumiere big bottle

L’Occitane en Provence is one of my favourite brands and I was not surprised to discover that once again they have come up with the goods and produced yet another gorgeous fragrance.  L’Occitane Terre de Lumiere encapsulates the perfect lazy summer day. Its evocative powers are as potent as a genie.

terre de lumiere advert

It was inspired by the “Golden Hour” i.e that bit before dusk where the sun starts to wane and you decide it’s not too early for a glass of special grape juice (ahem). To me though, this made me think of an English country garden with lavender bushes and birds chirping and bees quietly humming in the mixed borders, and “is there honey still for tea?”

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Terre de Lumiere (land of sun) opens with bergamot, gentle musks and pink pepper.  Apart from a clean citrus blast of fuzzy lime though, this marches straight into honey and lavender territory and this is really its main characteristic.  Lavender and honey go so brilliantly well together that I don’t know why it isn’t done more often. This just hums with July heat and lazy bees. I’m also heartened to see the lavender being used, as I think its vastly underrated and underused.

terre de lumiere

The base of Terre de Lumiere is vaguely gourmand, but in a warm, nutty way, rather than a sticky cakey vanilla way. I hope my technical language isn’t blinding anyone with science today! There are almonds and tonka in the base, but to be honest, the lavender and honey are the Taylor and Burton of this movie and nobody else gets much of a look in.

This is a beautiful summer scent, but beware! Wearing it makes you want to be very lazy and seek out a hammock and a cold drink.

Stockists

L’Occitane en Provence Terre de Lumiere is available from L’Occitane stores and online at L’Occitane. I received my delightful mini 5ml splash bottle from the Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box, which you can buy here.

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The Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Box March 2017

fs disc box neat

Every quarter, for the small sum of five pounds, I  receive a Discovery Box from the Fragrance Shop Discovery Club.  Sometimes there are fragrances I’ve already tried and sometimes there are lovely surprises. Either way, I’ve been a member since December 2013 and I always will be.

This month’s box contains six samples, as well as a five-pound voucher off a full bottle of any of your favourites from the box.  So far, my clear favourite is Elizabeth Arden White Tea.

Here’s what’s in the box

Elizabeth Arden White Tea

arden_white_teaAs you know Elizabeth Arden Green Tea has been a classic since it came out in 1999.  Green Tea was created by none other than His Majesty Francis Kurkdjian, and it has genius simplicity written all over it.   There have been many flankers, and I’ve liked all of them.  When I saw White Tea was now A Thing, I worried that they may have “over-flanked” themselves, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Elizabeth Arden White Tea  is light, airy and floaty and smells like a pure white room in a dream home.   There’s clean white musks and sea notes and light notes of white tea.  This is like a spa in a bottle.  This will be on my dressing table very soon.

Jimmy Choo L’Eau

This is in a similar vein to DKNY below, but is slightly sweeter and Jimmy-Choo-Leaudelicately tiptoes onto the very edges of the gourmand spectrum.  I wrote about this last month and you can read my review here. It’s pretty and light and floral, and I predict it’ll be a big hit this summer.

DKNY Be Tempted Eau so Blush

dkny be temptedDKNY Be Tempted Eau So Blush is a light and feminine scent that has a fruity floral opening and big peony notes in the middle- and peony is going to be big this year.   The base is woody and fruity with apricots and musk.  This is a perfect daytime scent and ideal for work. It almost demands to be worn with a pretty frock.

Marc Jacobs Decadence

marc jacobs decadenceMarc Jacobs Decadence comes in such a fantastic bottle that when I first saw it,  I almost didn’t care what it smelled like, I just wanted that bottle. Luckily, it smells pretty good with its saffron and plums and a vetiver and musk base.  If you like Marc Jacobs Daisy, don’t buy this blind as they’re very different.   Decadence is fabulous for the evening whilst Daisy is lighter and better as a daytime fragrance.

Joop! Wow

wowThis one certainly lives up to its name. “Wow” was the first word I said when I sniffed it.  It opens with sharp lime and aromatic cardoman, and settles as a slightly gourmand, warm vanilla, via peppery geranium and dry grassy vetiver.  Despite not having any leathery notes, this reminded me of Dior Fahrenheit, only Joop!Wow! is sharper and with more citrus. I loved it. I sprayed it on me, my husband and my ten-year-old son.  Unanimous thumbs up! We all smell great.

Invictus Intense

invictus intenseI was surprised when I saw this as I thought “Hmm, Invictus is pretty intense anyway, what could they possibly do to make it bigger?”The answer, my friends, is that they turned up the volume and tweaked some knobs until it knocked out every canary within a fifty mile radius.  Invictus Intense is similar to the original, but cranked up to the power of ten.  The salt notes are very prominent.  It’s dry and masculine and not pretty.  It reminded me a lot of Paco Rabanne One Million Intense. If this sounds like your cup of tea, please use sparingly.  For all our sakes.

Stockists

fs disc boxAll of these fragrances are available from The Fragrance Shop.

The Discovery Club is easy to join with no long term red tape.  Just join to get your box and cancel if you want to.  But I bet you won’t! I’ve been getting these boxes for four years and the flat box they come in fits through the letterbox so it won’t end up in the Post Office depot if you’re out.

I purchased this myself and opinions are my own.

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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.   Even Queen Victoria let the company use the image of her crown as a symbol of quality,  and she could be pretty grumpy.

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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).

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.

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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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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.

BeFunky Collage70s home

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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Paul Smith Portrait For Women: Where Do You Go to My Lovely?

paul smith portrait

“And you sip your Napoleon brandy, but you never get your lips wet”

I was recently sent a bottle of this by a dear friend of the blog, and of me, Rachael.  For which, many thanks.  Paul Smith Portrait was inspired by his love of travel and photography and Portrait is the result of a collaboration with Barnabe Fillion.

I was unsure what to make of Portrait at first, but the more I have worn it, the more I like it.  My initial thoughts were of roses, and the rest came together later, like a jigsaw.  The roses are restrained and demure,  and stay neatly in their place.  This is a very classy scent that never puts a foot wrong.

The rose note has been coaxed out of its tendency to dominate by the inclusion of bergamot and green tea. These classically green notes transorm the rose into an airy scent with a translucent feel. The middle notes add jasmine to the chorus, establishing this firmly as a green floral.  In fact, the inclusion of the tea note made me think of Penhaligon’s Malabah.

In the base there  nestles clean laundry musks and a hint of resin, although just a faintly spiced toe in the water, rather than fully formed spicy rocks and balsam.

Paul Smith Portrait is subtle, feminine and clean. It’s a gentle floral that will appeal to your girly side when you’re trying to tone down your inner tigress.  Paul Smith Portrait For Women  is that wide eyed face you pull when you say “Who me?  How could you think it?”

Stockists

Paul Smith Portrait for Women is available from Fragrance Direct  or from the Paul Smith website.

Acknowledgments. Photo from PaulSmith.com.  Opinions are my own Bottle from Rachael P.  Big cwtch from me to you. x

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Vero Profumo Rubj Voile D’Extrait

rubj

There’s a bit of a back story here. A few years ago, dear Lisa Jones, my friend, mentor and bad girl enabler let me try some Vero Profumo Rubj EDP that she had. My dear friends, I’m sorry to say that I did not care for it. I haven’t tried it since and my only lingering memory of it was cumin with muscles.

sample of rubjSo, in the random and serendipitous way that such things happen, I was recently offered a batch of “Naughty and Animalic” samples from dear friend of the blog Lânáis-Bambi, for which many thanks my friend. The scent bundle was one of the sample collections that you can buy from Bloom Perfumery in London, so I knew it would be good stuff.

I went straight for Rubj, thinking I knew what my reaction would be, but I was wrong.

Vero Profumo Rubj Voile D’extrait is a beautiful deep floral that I was convinced was as full of violets as Guerlain Insolence.  But it’s not.  In fact, the flowers, once they settle, are a classy bouquet of tuberose, jasmine and neroli. They don’t come in straight away though, there’s mandarina and bergamot giving this a much lighter entrance than the one I was expecting.

The base notes anchor the flowers with oak moss and musk, givingtuber this a ladylike and classic feel that I wasn’t expecting. Oh, and the cumin? Well, it’s not there, but  the cedar gives this a herby, woody nuance that takes a back seat and lets the flowers take centre stage. Its presence gives this a touch of supportive sobriety as the flowers get loud.

I loved this so much that I have taken a lesson from it; don’t write off a different formulation of a scent you didn’t take to. I could drench myself in this stuff and It wouldn’t be too much. It’s glorious and feminine and makes me feel like I am too. I’m so glad that serendipity led me back to it.

Stockists

You can buy Vero Profumo Rubj Voile D’Extrait from Bloom Perfumery. Check out the Bloom sample service too.

Acknowledgments

Thank you to Lânáis-Bambi for the beautiful set of samples.

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