Category Archives: Musk perfume

The IScentYouADay Away Day: Starring 4160 Tuesdays

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You may have read my previous reviews of 4160 Tuesdays scents.  If you haven’t here’s a recap: Sarah McCartney, former editor of the LUSH Times, decided to go rogue and create her own perfume line.  The line is based on the adage that if we all live to be 80, we will have 4160 Tuesdays.  Sarah uses hers to make perfume.

The press attention and general bonhomie towards 4160 is snowballing and Sarah is no longer just the darling of discerning perfume fans and the perfume blogger. In fact, I have called her the Doctor Who of Scent as her fragrances can transport you to another time and another place.

Friend of the blog, and of me, Lisa Wordbird talked me into attending the 4160 Tuesdays Open Day on Friday 28th November, so after some epic juggling of child care and husband-y work start times, we packed our sandwiches and hit the road.

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Framed quote at 4160 Tuesdays

We could tell that No 8 Issigonis House was 4160 Tuesdays because it was the only unit with snowflakes in the window.  We were warmly greeted by the Great Randello himself, and walked into an inviting 1970s parlour, replete with bookshelf, naice china, and the smell of coffee.

I knew what Sarah looked like as I had seen her photo many times, but what photos don’t capture is that she crackles with energy and wears fantastic shoes. We were treated to tea and nibbles (there’s the naice china- I thoroughly approve) before going up to the bat cave where it all happens.

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You know what children go like when they enter Toys R Us?  That doesn’t come close to me and Lisa in the 4160 Tuesdays workshop. Each bottle from the range was arranged around a wheel of scent, which places them in an order by genre.  The scents were soaked into an unglazed porcelain disc which was then placed at the bottom of a rather lovely glass tea cup, straight from the mid Seventies.  It is an excellent way to really get a good snort of a perfume before trying it, is far more effective than a paper strip, and involves less commitment than trying on skin.

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In between, Sarah chatted about raw ingredients and EU regulations, which isn’t as dull as it sounds and really does affect the face of the perfume industry today.  She could easily go on Mastermind about this without having to swot up.  Before we knew it we were sniffing lids of the raw ingredients.

Galaxolide: beautiful soft white musk, like a baby rabbit’s tail.

Civet: Phew! Old man who smokes too much and never washes ( i.e in my opinion, Serge Lutens Muscs Khoublai Khan) and finally…

Castoreum: obtained from beavers and with a lovely clean leather finish.

I couldn’t stay away from the famous Wall of Scent, which Sarah uses a teaching tool for  Wall of Scent days and other themed days where you can sniff’n’learn ( I am hoping to go on one in 2015).

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Just a small section of the wondrous Wall of Scent

My dears that cupboard!  There were perfumes I knew, perfumes I’d never heard of, perfumes I didn’t know you could still get and perfumes I had been dying to try but could never find.  I tried some vintage Diorella- this is something you cannot ever get to do in a normal shop.

Sadly time ran away with us, so we only managed a taster session today (and a delicious plate of pie of mash), but as we left with our purchases from the Naughty Box, we vowed, (hopefully in not too sinister a manner) that Sarah hadn’t seen the last of us.

In the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, I’ll be back.

You can find out more about 4160 Tuesdays from the website. Fragrances are long-lasting, high quality and always beautifully packaged.  Sarah McCartney’s novel, The Scent of Possibility is available now from here .  My hard copy is signed by the author (smug).

 

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Perfumes Under a Fiver: The IScentYouADay Christmas Guide to Perfume for The Frugal

 

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www.dreamstime.com

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Christmas is coming, the Goose is getting fat,

Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.

If you haven’t got a penny, a farthing will do,

If you haven’t got a farthing, then God bless you.

Don’t think I’m being too early- there are only one or two pay days until Christmas.  Already the shops are full of Quality Street and Tinsel and I’m trying to stay away from the Lebkuchen so that Santa trousers don’t have to be my only fashion choice.

Perfume sales sky rocket before Christmas: it is no accident that Autumn is perfume launch season, and the selection on the High Street at the moment can be a) overwhelming and b) expensive.  From my dashboard here at IScent HQ, I can see  the most frequent internet search terms that lead people to my site.  The searches that I am seeing over and over again are “good cheap perfume” and “cheap perfume that smells good”.   I can see there’s a demand, and like an olfactory Wonder Woman, I’m here to solve your problem.

It sounds unfeasible that in a world where living costs are so high, it is still possible to buy perfume that doesn’t smell like cat wee for five quid, but it can be done.  Like all things, it’s just a matter of being selective.  I’m not promising you the moon and the stars, (or Sun Moon Stars– yuk!) but wearable, decent perfume for you or a friend or a colleague (if you’re doing Secret Santa) is within the reach of even the thriftiest shopper.

Here goes: I have smelled the good, the bad and the ugly to make this list:

 Perfume for Under a Fiver.

 In no particular order, all of these perfumes are under five quid and would be ideal for Secret Santa gifts or stocking fillers. Prices correct at time of writing

 

  1. Jean Yves Grasse Experience: For fans of Aromatics Elixir, this mossy chypre can be had for under a fiver. Available from Amazon UK
  2. Coty Chanson D’Eau: a wonderfully green and uplifting scent from Coty.  For under a fiver you get a free body spray too.  You can buy it from Amazon UK
  3. Coty L’Aimant The perennial classic.  I prefer the Parfum de Toilette to the cologne spray and  you can get it for under a fiver on Amazon UK.  To me, it always smells similar to Chanel No 5.
  4. Taylor of London Panache: the darling of the seventies, don’t write Panache off.  It’s a great floral aldehyde with 12 hour longevity.  I wear it regularly and its especially good in cold weather. You can buy gift sets for a laughably cheap 3.99 on Fragrance Direct
  5. Chique Another Taylor of London classic:  Its utility packaging and Seventies name hides a terrific mossy chypre that left me reminded me of Estee Lauder Knowing.  Buy a set off FragranceDirect for 3.99 .
  6. Avon Timeless Available from AvonShop Uk for five quid, this is a powdery, ambery classic that was brought back by popular demand. My Avon Lady, the lovely Jill, can vouch for its popularity.
  7. Milton Lloyd Tweed Mademoiselle– a fruity floral that smells like many new releases,  and is even better than many more expensive mass market fragrances.  Its a fruity floral (not my favourite genre, but always a bestseller),  and is light  and pretty with  the emphasis on the florals.  Anyone who likes Miss Dior Cherie might like this one too. You can buy it from Amazon UK.
  8. Bronnley Lime and Bergamot: From trusty Bronnley comes a light citrussy floral cologne that is a real crowd pleaser.  Currently on sale on Fragrance Direct for 4.99
  9. Milton Lloyd Panache Mademoiselle: if you like the light airiness of Estee Lauder Pleasures then you’ll love this. You can buy it from Fragrance Direct for 3.99. I have a bottle myself.
  10. The Body Shop White Musk Mini Spray: a perennial favourite, the legendary White Musk now comes in an affordable handbag sized bottle that costs a mere five quid and you can buy it  right here.

So there you have it- perfume under a fiver?  Yes it can be done and I wouldn’t let you buy it if I wouldn’t wear it myself. Let me know your thoughts on fragrant frugality! I always love to hear from you.

 

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The Body Shop Red Musk: Red, White and New

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The Body Shop White Musk is such a well loved classic that they wouldn’t dare to discontinue it.  Popular since the 1980s, it remains a steady seller and even those who don’t wear it have some nostalgia for it.  I know this because whenever I wore it to meetings in my previous job I would often hear “that reminds me of my first girlfriend/ the student house I shared/my wife when we first met”. Personally, I am never without my little bottle of Body Shop White Musk oil, which lasts me about a year. (But then I am promiscuous when it comes to other scents)

Good old White Musk
Good old White Musk

The Body Shop has already launched two flankers, both of which I have reviewed on this blog: White Musk Libertine and White Musk Smoky Rose. Sadly neither blew me away, but the new launch for 2014 is Red Musk, and they could be onto something here.

Red Musk opens with vodka and spice and beds down into a very tobacco-y haze that reminded one Fragrantica user of Serge Lutens Chergui.  A compliment indeed.  In fact, although lacking in the hay notes of Chergui, there is a touch of  Serge Lutens Louve in the dried scent of cherry tobacco as the drydown kicks in.  Several hours later, this is White Musk with a hint of spiced fruit cake, but a sugar free cake, solid with dense dark spice and none of the sickly cakiness I get so tired of in scent.

This has a masculine tang about it which makes it a perfect unisex fragrance, and is rounded off nicely with a tobacco-y musk Final Act.  All round, it’s not bad at all and I’m pleased to see this veer away from the sweet and further towards the rich.  Longevity is good at around six hours so far on skin and its been making my coat sleeves smell delicious.

Stockists:  Body Shop Red Musk is available online or in store. Readers in the USA can also get it online or instore via The Body Shop USA and in Canada there’s The Body Shop Canada.

Library of Fragrance Musk #7: The Perfect Ingredient

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Musk is a scent that should, in my opinion, be in every scent wardrobe.  However, out on the High Street, it’s not that easy to find a straight forward musk that hasn’t been tampered with.  I like to wear musk alone or, more often, layered with other scents and Library of Fragrance Musk #7 is perfect for this.

On the Demeter website the description of #7 reads :

Bergamot and lemon peel, with fresh herbs, amber and patchouli form the attitude of this fragrance, the first of our Musk’s to be declared commercial grade. White Musk # 7 is A fresh and delicate blend that speaks in whispers.

I definitely picked up on the bergamot in the opening and  a little heat from whispery amber in the base, but otherwise this is a straightforward, uncomplicated classic musk.

It’s a gentle almost single note musk that adds warmth and depth to the other fragrances in the line and goes especially well with Library of Fragrance cabochardPatchouli.  I also love Musk over anything with roses in, so I often layer Library of Fragrance Musk over The Body Shop Mountain Atlas Rose oil and also over any heavy hitters to tone it down a bit for day wear. (Very good over Gres Cabochard!).

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Library of Fragrance Musk #7 is a white musk that is ideal for daywear, passes the commuter test and lasts around five hours.  I recommend it alone or as an extra spoke in your wheel.  A musk base can add a new dimension to your existing scents and give you a different way of wearing them

Library of Fragrance Musk #7 is £15 a bottle or £25 for two from Boots.  In the USA and Canada, this is called Demeter Musk #7 . You can buy it on Amazon.com.

Library of Fragrance Patchouli: Taking Me Back to The Good Old Days

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Library of Fragrance Patchouli is a single note patchouli that is a rare thing indeed in today’s fragrance market.  Patchouli has been overused and over sweetened and often coupled with vanilla and red berries and fruits and chocolate and Ooh… everything in the candy store until its true identify has been quashed.

What I want from patchouli is that earthy, unctuous oily fragrance that I used to buy from the Indian market stall of my teenage years.  Surrounded by floaty skirts and joss skirts there clustered the tiny bottles of patchouli oil that did exactly what it said on the tin.  Library of Fragrance Patchouli brought those days back to me.  It is a single note patchouli that retains that unctuous oiliness that I recall from my youth and makes me think of denim jackets covered in Led Zeppelin badges that I remember so well from the 70s and early 80s.

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It embodies one of the great qualities of the Library of Fragrance range in so far as it is perfect alone or layered with other scents.  Friend of the Blog Heather in Texas (Hi Heather!) has written to me about the joys of layering, (although she uses mainly oils), and I reckon she’s onto something.

Out of so many new launches in the past year, and there have been hundreds, I have only found a rare handful that I genuinely like and would wear.  All too often the industry is  playing to their biggest market and that market is the young end of the market with a taste for fruity florals and candy sweet fruitichoulis.  You can’t blame them, it’s business not a charity after all, but some of us are feeling a bit left out, right?

Layering means I don’t have to put up with this, and Library of Fragrance Patchouli is an ideal way for me to add a bit of muscle to lighter scents, or to layer it with the excellent Library of Fragrance Musk#7.

Library of Fragrance scents are available from Boots on your local High Street or from their own website  Library of Fragrance.

Library of Fragrance- you can never have too many!
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Musc Ravageur: Maurice Roucel for Editions Frederic Malle 2000

musc   Musc Ravageur was created by prolific nose Maurice Roucel in 2000 and I think it’s safe to say that it has enjoyed cult success among perfumistas. Today and yesterday I have been wearing a roll on sample (thank you Lisa Wordbird) and here’s what I think:

Top notes: Lavender, mandarin and bergamot:  you would think this would make for a cologne-y opening number   à la Jo Malone Lime, Basil  & Mandarin, but it doesn’t.  In fact, it is warm and soft like blankets. I often find lavender quite a cold scent but I barely detect it here.

Middle notes:  Cinnamon and clove:  the faintest hint of cinnamon and no cloves.

Base notes: Sandalwood, tonka bean, vanilla, Guaiac wood, amber, cedar and of course, musk:  It’s the base note that seems to last longest with me.  In fact, the whole thing merges seamlessly  into one long base note right from the get go.

When reviewing Miller Harris L’Air de Rien, Lisa Wordbird, who is a die hard fan of it, says it reminded her of flannelette sheets- you know those warm brushed cotton affairs that fall somewhere between fluffy and towel-y?  Well that’s what Musc Raveguer makes me think of.  There is a slept-in staleness about it that is not unpleasant.  There are flowers peeking out (is that the lavender emerging finally?) and the musk has a muffled sharpness like skin after soap.

Sillage is close to skin.  You could spray this liberally and only those who hug you would probably comment on your incredible smell. It’s the smell of someone up close, or the smell of someone who has got out of bed after retiring following a scented bath the night before.  It is the smell of intimacy and closeness. It doesn’t smell of sex the way Worth Courtesan does, and although it has some faint, vague similarities to L’Air de Rien, Musc Ravageur stands alone as the comforting, intimate smell of longing and romance.

You can imagine a misty eyed lover sniffing his girlfriend’s coat and saying “ahh, it smells of HER”.  And that, my dear friends, is Musc Ravageur.

Have you experienced Musc Ravageur? What did you think?  Do let me know.   I always love to hear from you.

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Gucci Eau de Parfum: It’s Persuasive…

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Having been in a huff with Gucci since 2007 (Have I not mentioned they discontinued Gucci Envy that year? I keep it very quiet. Not) I always approach their scents with a “this had better be good” look on my face (ask my kids if you can’t picture it). However trying Gucci Eau de Parfum today has meted this ice queen and I am happy to say that this really ain’t half bad.  You may notice I’m not falling over it with marriage proposals but that’s my skin: more of which anon. When I anointed myself with my Gucci EDP dabber sample, the immediate reaction was “Violets- Serge Lutens Bois de Violette!”.  You can imagine how pleased I was: I adore Bois de Violette. However sadly, this turned to Crayola wax crayons within minutes.

This has happened to me before with several other perfumes: (it’s my skin and may not happen to you), but I thought I’d bear with it as the phase often passes. Having looked up the notes on Fragrantica, I was surprised to see no Violets at all but Heliotrope instead.  I can see why I got confused as they are often used together.  The alleged Caraway note I did not really pick up on at all, although Fragrantica users voted it the most noticeable note.  Maybe I’m missing something, In any case, after an hour or two Gucci Eau de Parfum leaves me with a pleasant Incense-y skin Musk that still remains slightly waxy and with a muted Iris finish.

It’s one of those interesting scents that you can sniff and sniff and get something different from it each time. Apart from Caraway. Mine ran away.

Narciso Rodriguez Musc For Her: Up Close And Personal

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Every good fragrance wardrobe should have a musk. You can wear it alone or layer it, but it is a true staple, like a winter coat.

Today I am reviewing Narciso Rodriguez Musc For Her and I am sampling it in the form of the oil or “Her oil Perfume” as it says on the box. The oil seems hard to get hold of, so you might like to try the EDP, which may have more lasting power.  In my experience, oils last longer, but not in this case it would seem.  Or maybe its my hungry skin.

According to Fragrantica, this claims to have all sorts of notes in  it: Vetiver, Orange Blossom, Osmanthus, Amber, Woods and Vanilla.  When I first applied it it smelled like stale air for just a minute and then it smelled like new shoes still in the box (for some people that would be  enough of a great smell if only they could bottle it!). Within five minutes this had settled down into a clean musk with a hint of Orange Blossom, and maybe the faintest whisper of Amber, but it would frankly be ambitious to try and pin down any of the other notes as this scent is sadly very fleeting on me.  The notes I could smell were like a blur, they have gone almost before you can name them.

This is very close to skin, but nonetheless lovely.  It is sexy, intimate and would only be experienced by those who hug or kiss you.  You’d never fill a room with this even if you smashed the whole bottle on the floor.

Yes, this is a lovely musk and no it doesn’t last long. If it lasts longer on you than it did on me (less than an hour, with my nose right up against my wrist) then I would say buy it.  It could be the staple your fragrance wardrobe needs.

 

 

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Prada Candy: Not For Kids

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www.fragrantica.com

I was charmed by the Prada Candy TV ad campaign over Christmas.  The slightly dodgy but beautiful threesome having a party and the throaty, heavily accented voiceover simply saying “Prada Candy”.  It looked like fun, being them. I guess that was the idea. So anyway, I thought I’d better check it out.

I was bracing myself, as the very word “Candy” makes my heart sink. Was it going to be a Britney?  All candy floss and vanilla and fruit?  Not a bit of it.

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www.prada.com

This is playful, yet grown up: a bit like the strange and pretty girl in the TV ad. It’s very sweet in the opening notes but thankfully there is no red fruit and vanilla and  cake mix.  Phew! Right from the start though, there is caramel. And something prickly and delicious that had me interested straight away.  Well, who would have though it? It’s my old friend Benzoin, whose heated, resin-y tones I  am always pleased to stumble across.  It is the Benzoin that makes me take this seriously.

(NB not to be confused with Benylin, as that’s cough mixture)

Yes, there is Caramel, and a bit of sexy Musk, but the Benzoin really radiates through the base notes so that anyone asking what your scent was might be surprised, like me, to find the word Candy in it.

The Caramel sweetness makes Prada Candy start like a ditzy blonde and bed down into a husky voiced newsreader wearing stockings under the desk.

It’s most definitely worth a second look, and then a third.

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Jean Desprez: Bal a Versailles: The Smell of Scandal

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 My dear chum Lisa Wordbird dropped round to IScent HQ yesterday with samples that made my eyes pop out.  As you know, it’s my blog-aversary in two days and what better way to round off the year than with this notorious and coveted legend?

Bal a Versailles is talked about in the way scandalous scarlet women are discussed.  Part of you is outraged whilst another secretly wishes that you looked that good in fishnets before noon.

Burlesque Artiste Pretty S'Vere courtesy of World of Oddy photography
Burlesque Artiste Pretty S’Vere courtesy of World of Oddy photography

 Bal a Versailles is too much of everything all at once, but somehow it really works. The opening is so brash and bright it borders on the medicinal for a few moments, before plunging like a slutty neckline into spice, resin, balsam and all things nice.

The notes are too numerous to list here, but here are the highlights: Leather, Amber, Benzoin, Vetiver and Balsam. The flowers are present and correct but they get a bit lost in the smokiness of the background, like Can Can dancers in a Cigar room: Jasmine, Roses, Violet Leaf, Lilac.

The whole cacophony results in a smoky, slightly metallic, spicy, leathery, woody fug, which to my mind has a lot in common with Caron Tabac Blond (see my earlier review on this blog).

I do have to marvel at the fact that I found no civet or animalic notes here, when so many Fragrantica users rate it as one of the most prominent notes.  This is unusual for me, as I found animalic notes in Worth Courtesan and Ivoire de Balmain (original, not the recent one) both of which you can find on my blog. In fact, the animal notes were so strong in both that they bordered on the smell of poor hygiene, yet Bal a Versailles?  Not a whisper of it.

That doesn’t stop it being what Lisa called “Definite Date Night” perfume. And by Date Night, we are not talking about a night at the cinema, but the kind that makes you sneak home the next day with your shoes in your hand.