Category Archives: Oriental

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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Marina Barcenilla Patchouli Clouds: There’s Patchouli, and then there’s Patchouli…

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One of the many highlights of my trip to the Jasmine Awards was the lovely surprise of bumping into Marina Barcenilla of MB Parfums. I had reviewed Marina’s beautiful scent India only last week, and in fact she had a phial of India body oil in her bag for me as a gift. Marina is as delightful as I’d imagined and it is a pleasure to write about her beautiful scents. Today I’m going to review MB Parfums Patchouli Clouds, because it stopped me in my tracks and made me say “Wow” out loud to an empty room.

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Fragrantica

Patchouli is a big old spectrum. The patchouli you find in the base notes of say, Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, will be nothing like the unctuous oil you might have bought in the 70s or 80s ( if you are as old as I am), but it’s all patchouli, in some form.

Patchouli Clouds has a wonderful mixture of spice, citrus,  and damp woods. It starts off as an almost musty wet wood, and calms down into a beautifully aromatic earthiness that made me think of forests after the rain and slightly rotten wood.  Believe it or not, I mean that in a good way.  I love the smell of wood in all its stages: crumbly, freshly sawn, still with the bark on: you name it, I like it. There are flowers too: I found jasmine and roses entwined among the earthy bark.

mb parfums allIn Patchouli Clouds, the scent has more in common with the oils from the Indian joss stick stall in Newport market that I hung around in during my teens.  You know the sort of place: you could buy floaty skirts with tiny mirrored sequins on and leather purses with elephants on the front.  The patchouli you could buy there was not in fancy packaging and it smelled more authentic and natural than anything I’ve ever sniffed over a pristine beauty counter.

Patchouli Clouds reinvents that in a less primitive way.  It still has the patchouli kick of earthiness I seek, but it’s blended beautifully with rich florals and incense to ensure that the star of the show really shines with the right chorus in the background.

Stockists

MB Perfumes Patchouli Clouds is available from the  MB Parfums website, which also has a good sample service. My sample is from Marina herself, for which, many thanks. Opinions are my own.

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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.

jasmine sign

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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The Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box: My Review

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I have in front of me The Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box. I’ve spoken of these little boxes before.  In fact, I’m not sure I’ve missed one since they first began.

The Modern Classics Box is a must for anyone on their first foray into fragrance.  Even if you’re not, it’s great to have the classics at your fingertips, and classics they are: each and every one.

I’m going to be reviewing some of these in more detail soon, but in the meantime, here’s the list of what’s in the box:

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Yardley Contemporary Classics English Freesia

I’m a big fan of florals, and Yardley, bless ‘em, have been doing florals for generations. They do them very well, and Freesia is no exception. I have a whole bouquet of Yardley scents on my dressing table: April Violets, English Rose,  English Lavender,  Bluebell, and after today, it looks like a full bottle of Yardley Freesia won’t be far behind.

Cartier

Cartier Baiser Fou

This new scent from Cartier is worlds apart from the original and far more sober Baiser Vole.  Cartier Baiser Fou (crazy kiss) smells like lipstick kisses, strawberries and milky bar.  I didn’t think I was going to like it, as it sounded too sweet for me, but actually I was completely charmed by it.flower by kenzo

Flower by Kenzo

I wasn’t sure if I knew this one, until I sprayed it and realised “Oh! THAT’S Kenzo Flower!” It’s baby powder, wet wipes, fluffy towels and innocent flowers. I’ll be reviewing this one in more detail soon.

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Marc Jacobs Daisy

Both ubiquitous and glorious, this light, airy crowd pleaser will never go out of fashion, and its not just because of the delightful toy town flower bottles.  See my review here.

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L’Occitane Terre de Lumiere

A stunning summer scent from L’Occitane with notes of lavender honey, bergamot and a warm base of almond and tonka. This makes me want to lie in the sun with a straw hat on and be very, very indolent.columbia

Angela Flanders Columbia Rose

Columbia Road in achingly cool Shoreditch is the scene of the famous Columbia Road Flower Market every Sunday, when the street is filled with greenery and botany and petals and buds. Worth visiting for the scent alone, it’s little wonder that  perfumer Angela Flanders saw fit to open her shop here.

This is how roses used to smell before factory farming chased the old-fashioned scent away.  There’s something slightly earthy about it too, thanks to the patchouli and amber in the base. This is patchouli with rough edges and it complements the centrifola rose like Mellors complemented  Lady Chatterley.

kate-middleton-wedding-dress-inspired

Illuminum White Gardenia Petals

This scent of green notes and heady white gardenia may well be my absolute favourite from the box.  As worn by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge on her wedding day, this beautiful fragrance is right up my street, even if I can’t quite compete with Catherine’s untouchable glamour. I’ll be reviewing it in more detail very soon.

Narciso Rodriguez for her EDP

This beauty has been a classic since its launch.  NR For Her was created by the ultimate dream team of Christine Nagel and Francis Kurkdjian and I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t smell wonderful in it, including me! You can read my review here.

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Philosophy Renewed Hope in a Jar Eye (lotion tube)

I don’t know what this is like yet, but buy the sound of the name, I need it BADLY.  After squinting at computer screens and phone screens, and being tormented by hay fever and contact lenses, my forty-seven-year-old eyes need all the help they can get.  I’m fifty in three years’ time but I don’t want to look like I am!

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Minnies Literally Lovely Shimmering Body Lotion.

A sachet sized treat that is going in my overnight bag. Possibly too glamorous for the school run, but I’ll be spoiling myself with this next time I get away from it all.

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As usual with Perfume Society Discovery Boxes, there are scent sniffing strips and handy postcards with discussion prompts and facts about each item.  All the goodies come in a smart white gift box with the Perfume Society Logo on. They make excellent gifts for your friends or for Mothers Day,  but I’m not giving mine away!

Stockists

These boxes are exclusive to The Perfume Society, and cost £17.50 each or £12.50 if you are a VIP subscriber. My box was kindly sent to me by The Perfume Society.  Opinions are my own.

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Dear Aunty Sam: More of your Perfume Problems Answered

a passing cloud arthur hughes
A Passing Cloud by Arthur Hughes

Two weeks ago, I invited you to send me your perfume problems.  rsz_dr_samThis week  a dear friend of the blog, Cassieflower, came to me with the following problem.  Reader, I share her pain.  It hurts when a favourite is reformulated or discontinued .  Cassieflower, you are not alone!

Dear Aunty Sam,

I hope you, or indeed some of your readers, can help. My all-time favourite perfume is Fidji by Guy Laroche, and even though this can still be found cheaply on lots of sites it really is only a shadow of its former self. I used to wear it in parfum strength but nowadays the only offering is edt, and that just don’t cut the mustard with me. Any suggestions for a replacement would be most welcome. Pleeeze and fankoo

Firstly, you have excellent taste. That’s a given. Guy Laroche Fidji is quality stuff. I had a bottle back in the 80s and it was green and gorgeous andfidji beach landed me compliments. Unfortunately, reformulations are so very widespread, as we know. There’s a whole support group for traumatised fans of original YSL Opium, or at least there should be.

I went out today and tried Fidji in my local Perfume Shop to jog my memory. It is indeed far weaker than I remember it. However, it reminded me of two perfumes. The first is Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps.  Fidji is almost a greener flanker to L’Air du Temps.  Both have the orris root, carnation, iris, violet, spices, oakmoss and aldehydes.   The second scent that Fidji reminded me of is Clinique Calyx. It’s not as close a match, but Calyx has the transparent greenery that Fidji has, albeit with a  touch more tropical/botanical fruit going on.

As for Fidji itself, it does seem to be widely available in eau de toilette form and not much else. The only advice I can offer is drench yourself in the EDT in summer and break out the L’Air du Temps eau de parfum  in colder weather.  I promise you will always smell wonderful.

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I also had a plea from reader Mia who has fallen in love with Maison Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540– and who can blame her?  However with a hefty price tag,  Mia is looking for something in the same vein that is slightly kinder on the old budget. Mia- you are singing my song! I’m having a very frugal March at the moment.

Dear Aunty Sam

Hello! I’ve fallen in love with Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540. Smells like warmed skin and caramel but 100000x better. I can’t stop sniffing my wrists and cooing sweet nothings to this scent when I’m wearing. Problem is, I can’t afford it atm. Any cheaper recommendations to tide me over? Thank you so much!

Dear Mia,

Thanks so much for writing in. You’re among friends here.  Please help yourself to tissues.  We’re used to traumatised perfume fans.

Baccarat Rouge 540 is indeed as lovely as you say, although it barely stayed on my skin at all.  It was close to skin immediately after I baccaratsprayed and then poof! Gone.

I’ve been digging around on your behalf and I came across what I think is the best match.  There is a company called Dua Perfumes who make a scent called Casino Royale. This has many notes in common with MFK Baccarat Rouge 540: notably saffron, mandarin, cedar and  fir balsam ( actually pine in Baccarat,  but same forest).

The bad news is that they are based in the USA. The good news is that casinothere is a company in the UK called FragranceSamples UK who stock samples of other Dua perfumes, although not Casino Royale.  I’m sure if you ask them nicely they could get some in.  Sample prices are just over £11 for  a generous 5ml sample,  so not quite as spendy as Cap’n Kurk!  You could also try Givenchy Pi, which has a similar herby orange opening and a muted gourmand base via almond  and tonka notes.

Got a perfume problem?  A scent situation? A fragrant foible?

rsz_dr_samDo keep sending in your questions. If I can’t answer them, I am sure helpful readers will be able to share their experience and knowledge too.  We’re a lovely bunch.

Write your questions in the comments box below or email me on iscentyouaday@gmail.com.  If you are very shy, I will even answer them privately. I’m nice like that.

Over to you

Do you agree with my answers? Would you add or change anything? Do let me know.  I always love to hear from you.

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EDIT: With warm thanks to the BlackNarcissus whose kind advice led me to revising my first opinion! Thanks Neil xx

Marina Barcenilla India: Better than Heaven or Arcadia

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Better than Heaven or Arcadia

I love thee, O my India!

Marina Barcenilla recently sent me  several of her perfume samples, which I will review in a future post.  However, one stood out so much that I was itching to review it.

Marina Barcenilla was born in Spain and is now based in Glastonbury. The Marina Barcenilla perfume house evolved from her small start-up business which originally made body products such as salts and scrubs.  Customer demand led her to where she is now: a perfumer, and a talented one at that.  I’m jolly glad she went down this path because when MB Parfums India landed on my mat recently, it was love at first sniff.

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Incredibly,  Marina manages to produce this beautiful earthy scent using only natural ingredients. Personally, I have no beef with non-natural ingredients, being composed of C02 and H20 myself, but it really takes some guts and innovation to achieve glorious fragrances with the limitations that can come with such a restriction.  It doesn’t seem to restrict Marina though.  Her imagination and flair has produced some stunning and Award winning results (India won a FiFi Award in 2016).

perfume workshops

India opens with orange flower, Indian Jasmine, tuberose and roses. It’s a rich and heady floral opening, but there’s nothing  light about this.  The heady weight of this stunning opening accord is narcotic in its depth.  It gradually segues into wood and spice that smells both earthy and authentic.   The spice is like tarry resin, yet as the richness dies down, the sandalwood and cardoman emerge in a beautiful accord of aged, incense-infused wood.  Think church pews but still with some bark left on.

India reminded me of both Comme Des Garcons Avignon and Andy Tauer L’Air du Desert Marocain.  It is not exactly like either, however, since  it has a distinction all of its own.  If you like either of those two, however, you will adore India.

mb perfumes all in a row

Longevity is excellent and it just seems to get better the longer I wear it.  India is deep, resonant and evocative.  The base is longlasting and on my skin, at least, it combines woods, jasmine, roses and spice for many hours after I sprayed it.  The ingredients are distinct and vivid.  Reader, it was love.  Real, true love.

Stockists

Marina Barcenilla perfumes can be ordered from the website here. There is an excellent sample service and you can also find other ancillary fragrance products such as candles and  body oils ( I have a rose one which is beautiful). Marina herself kindly furnished me with my samples, for which, my warm thanks. Opinions are my own.

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Perfume Questions? Ask Aunty Sam…

rsz_dr_sam

Dear beloved readers,

Lately I have been asked many questions by people with queries about perfume. These vary from “what smells like…?” queries to “Where can I get…?” queries. It got me thinking, my friends.  How about a little post that’s all about your perfume questions and queries?

Just email me or post your question below or on Twitter or Facebook and I will do my very best to answer them.  You can even be anonymous if you like!

So, fire away.  Do you want to know if there’s a smellalike to a long discontinued favourite?  Does a newly reformulated favourite resemble an old one?  Which are the best cheap and cheerfuls?  Tell Aunty Sam your scented dilemmas.  I’m  all ears and all nostrils!

Email iscentyouaday@gmail.com

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The Perfume Society Heaven Scents Discovery Box

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When a Perfume Society “new Discovery Box” email arrives in my in-box, I break World Speed Records, or at least my fingers do. I’ve usually pressed “buy now” before I’ve read the description and I have never been disappointed. hs samples good A few days ago, my Heaven Scents Discovery Box arrived and it was, as usual, a joy to unravel, like an out of season but very welcome birthday gift. I displayed little dignity in my haste to disrobe the goodies within.

With a theme of romance, just in time for Valentine’s Day, Heaven Scents lives up to its name.  Here’s what’s inside:

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First and foremost is the very special anniversary keyring from M Micallef. With a beautiful glass perfume bottle that you can fill with the scent of your choice, this is as beautiful as jewellery. I’m already plotting as to how I can wear it as a necklace. It’s far too posh to go next to a bunch of keys and a mini Tesco Club card.M.-Micallef-20-Years

Micallef 20 Years. This is described as a “modern, fruity gourmand”. I must confess that I have never smelled anything from M Micallef so I am looking forward to getting stuck in. The display in Fortnum and Mason impressed me no end, but sadly I was already covered head to foot in eleventy billion perfumes at the time.

Miller-Harris-Noix-de-TuberueseMiller Harris Noix de Tuberose. I have reviewed this previously on the blog. It is a curious mix of nuts and tuberose and I like it much more this time round than I did when I first reviewed it.Prada-Candy-Florale-500x500

Prada Candy Florale: I have tried this little gem before and loved it. Here’s my glowing review. Unusually, it has a hit of limoncello in the middle, which is not what I expected from the name, but I love its playful tartness.

Shay-Blue-Blueberry-MuskShay & Blue Blueberry Musk: I have been really keen to try this one ever since I saw a Facebook ad for it. I wasn’t disappointed. Blueberry and Musk go so well together it’s a match made in Heaven, appropriately enough.  I’ve reviewed it here.

Jimmy-Choo-LeauJimmy Choo L’Eau: Now here’s one that changed my mind. I haven’t been too keen on previous Jimmy Choos but for some reason I have bene craving girly florals lately. This is a flanker to Jimmy Choo, but the L’Eau bit doesn’t mean weaker, just lighter. It’s impossibly pretty and pairs nectarine with my favourite, peony. I am surprising myself by being very tempted to get a full bottle. I guess I want to chase winter away with floaty flower petals.  Here’s my review.

Masion-Francis-Kurkdjian-Aqua-CelestiaMaison Francis Kurkdjian Paris, Aqua Celestia: I fell head over heels for this and plan to proose marriage very soon.  Here’s my full review. 

Weleda Jardin de Vie Rose: This blends Weleda-Jardin-de-Vie-Rosebold Damascene roses with peppery geranium and Ylang Ylang (smells like banana-like flowers). I’m going to come back to this one because I’m still swooning over Aqua Celestia. It was a hard act to follow.

Map-of-the-Heart-Red-Heart-v.3Map of The Heart Red Heart v3: This is a new perfume house that I haven’t heard of before. Anyone who puts sandalwood in all perfumes is going to be my friend forever. Red heart v3 is not as fruity as I was expecting, but the woods are to die for. This is sensual and addictive.

Judith Williams Lifelong Beauty Nutritive Body Butter: Scented boddybutterwith roses, this rich, creamy body butter is a delight to use and leaves skin subtly scented and smooth. The bottle has a handy pump dispenser and is a generous 150ml size.

So, there you have it: my full verdict.  My stand out favourites were Jimmy Choo L’Eau, Aqua Celestia and Red Heart v3.  It’s a fabulous selection. You’ll be certain to find a new favourite.

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 Stockists

The Heaven Scents Discovery Box is available from The Perfume Society website at £17.50 plus postage, or £12.50 plus postage for subscribers.

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How to Get Perfume Samples 2017

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In 2015 I wrote a post entitled “How to Get Perfume Samples”.  I felt it was necessary since these days, it’s easier to get unicorn droppings  and hens’ teeth than perfume samples from Beauty Counters.  My original article has proved very popular, but the Fragrant Firmament spins fast on its axis.  My original article, written in 2015, needs updating for 2017.

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A lot can happen in two years within the industry. Beloved favourites can be discontinued, new starts ups can arrive with a bang, and old lions can go out with a whimper.

Sample services serve two purposes: They avoid you making costly blind buys and they help you fall in love with stuff you might not have 4160 tastercome across.  Whilst I love to seek out samples of stuff I’ve heard of and never tried, I also love it when the choice is made for me. It takes me out of my comfort zone. This is one of the reasons why I am such a fan of discovery boxes, and the Perfume Society in particular. Their boxes are loosely themed and have really changed my mind about no end of scents I wouldn’t have otherwise sought out.

mysamples2The other advantage is one I mentioned pre-Christmas, but which applies at any time of the year. When buying for others, why not offer them a choice? A mixture of samples and gift voucher is my idea of the perfect gift (It’s my birthday next month. I wonder if my husband is reading this?).

Here’s a roundup of sample services that are currently out there just waiting for us to knock on their door. This is a UK Guide by the way, so if I miss your favourite out, it’s just geography, not favouritism.

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The Perfume Society.

Yes I’m a fan. No, they don’t pay me to say so and yes I have almost every one of the Discovery Boxes. In fact, I’m just waiting for the Heaven Scent one, due any day! You can buy them here. They usually contain around nine excellent, often hard-to-get samples and maybe a treat or two  as well. They are my Number One favourite treat.

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ScentSamples UK

A new entry at Number Two. I’m very impressed with the diversity here and find the prices reasonable.  I’m rolling my sleeves up and writing a long list.  Here’s a link to their website.

Inside Les Senteurs, Elizabeth Street
Inside Les Senteurs, Elizabeth Street

Les Senteurs

There are two branches of this divine boutique perfumery in London, but the good news is that you don’t have to live in London to benefit from their sample service.  The bad news is that its very, very hard to choose. Here’s the link.

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4160 Tuesdays

Nobody can accuse Sarah McCartney of not being inclusive.  4160 Tuesdays means reasonably priced high quality artisan scents that cover every genre except “boring”.  The 4160  Tuesdays website even has themed suggestions of sample sets in case you don’t know where to begin.  My favourite is “Frocks and Hats.”

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The Fragrance Shop Discovery Club.

Every quarter since 2013 I have received a box of samples from The Fragrance Shop. These usually include new releases and new flankers, but often they pop a classic or a well-beloved favourite in.  The boxes usually include between 6 to 9 samples and a booklet of money off vouchers if you find one you want in full bottle size. Boxes are just £5 a quarter, and they make great gifts too. You can join in the fun here.

Papillon Perfumery
Papillon Perfumery

Papillon Perfumery

Papillon Perfumery is the creation of  Nose Liz Moores, perfumer extraordinaire (I’ve met her- she is small and beautiful) There are four scents in the Papillon range and you can sample of all four from here. There isn’t a single one I wouldn’t recommend, and a fifth scent is on its way later this year.

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FragranceSamplesUK

Another one I’ve not come across before, but I’m very impressed with their range and might be making an order soon.  The huge range varies from Tom Ford, Chanel Exclusifs, Tauer and Roja to name but a few. I’ll let you know  what I think if I can ever make my mind up! You can check the site out for yourselves here.

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Pell Wall Perfumes

In the beautiful county of Shropshire, Chris Bartlett creates  exquisite scents under the name of Pell Wall Perfumes. Sample sets and mini bottles are available at reasonable prices and you may well find a lifelong favourite among this imaginative range. I particularly like Pretty in Pink and Deep Purple. Check out the website here.

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eBay

eBay has a vast range of samples from various sellers.  I have never been let down or sold fakes on eBay- they are very strict about that.  I have had some great bargains this way and even if you end up not liking the samples you order, they make great swapping currency.

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Find Your Tribe

Join a group of like-minded fume heads: Sites such as Fragrantica and Base Notes have led to many firm friendships, as well as samples swapping. Alternatively, join a Facebook group such as Fragcom or Perfumeland For Fluffheads.perfumeland

Have I missed any out? Have you had great sample service in the UK? Or have you discovered a favourite through random sample sniffage?  Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

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Happy New Year from IScentYouADay! Plus What’s New in 2017

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Many tiny snowflakes make an avalanche.

2016 was a terrible year in many ways. It made my heart feel heavy. There was a marked increase in hate and prejudice, a colossal amount of celebrity deaths and the world in general seemed a darker place. Like many, I feel a need to accentuate the positive. I have been counting my blessings and feeling determined to put kindness back out into the world. Prozac and affirmations help too.

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One of the things I am particularly thankful for is the fact that I have made several dear friends via my blog. I truly treasure them. It has always lifted my spirits to read your comments and share your scent stories.lizsam

The kindness and generosity of perfume loving people ( fumeheads? Perfumistas?) is legend. They would give you the shirt off their backs and their last drop of anything you “quite fancy trying.”  Back in October, I was lucky enough to meet a gang o’perfumistas  and ended the day feeling like I had taken part in a giant cuddle.  Thanks to Pia Long and caronNick Gilbert, we gathered in London and talked and sniffed all the day long, ending with a bellyful of cake and tea. Sheer bliss. People like that make me hopeful. Kindness is rife, rampant and contagious.  Long may it ravage us all! Many tiny snowflakes make an avalanche.

Looking back, 2016 was an interesting year scent wise. I got to know several new brands and perfume houses. Perfume trends in general, are, I think, changing.  Celebrity sales are down and niche sales are up. The tide is turning and I like it.

What I Am Most Looking forward to in 2017
papillon-samLiz Moores of Papillon Perfumery has promised a new release sometime in 2017. Rumoured to be a chypre (claps hands and whoops) I am already in the line with a Thermos of tea and sleeping in Liz’s teepee so I can be first in the queue.  Despite having made only four perfumes so far, Liz’s fragrances already have the permanence of classics. There are no weak links. Quality is outstanding.  By the way, for some reason I always wear Papillon Angelique to christenings. It seems to “go”. New life, optimism, pearls…

ruthsam3In other news the  Ruth Mastenbroek promises us a fourth scent in her range. I know little about it so far as it is still in development stage, but rest assured, it will be reviewed right here..

I also plan to head London-wards to drop in on the 4160 Tuesdays studio. I haven’t been since 2014 and I want to see if my new smaller bottom will fit in the swing.  I’m hoping Sarah McCartney will let me sniff a few single notes that I sometimes get stuck on, and sell me a load of scent swag. (I’m taking a very large bag).

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I am keen to see what Avon comes up with this year. They made two of my most frequently worn scents this year and neither cvost me more than £7.  Rare Platinum is a tuberose lover’s dream and Perceive Oasis is peonies and roses on a summer day. I’m also excited to see what else Beaufort London has in store after the show stopping Fathom V.  More to come from this audacious house and their wonderfully named “Hell or High Water” range.

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And one last thing.. oh yes,. Watchthis space as I put my very shy self into YouTube territory. I’m scared just writing that, but one has to move with the times. Scary!

clapperHAPPY NEW YEAR!

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