Category Archives: perfume samples

4160 Tuesdays The Sexiest Scent on The Planet Ever (IMHO)

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Sarah McCartney, founder and one-woman chief of 4160 Tuesdays, named this scent after a quote from a young fashion journalist.  This was originally the unadorned base for The Gin Garden, but the journalist smelled it naked as it were (the base scent, not the journalist) and made the now familiar declaration.

I have reviewed 4160 Tuesday scents before, but just to keep you up to speed in case you missed them, the name of the company is based on the fact there are 4160 Tuesdays in your life if you live to be 80.  Sarah uses her Tuesdays to make scent.  They are gathering support like a snowball rolling down a hill, with an increasing amount of media and word of mouth interest.  It’s a friendly company: accessible and happy to chat about the process and host sniffing days (which I plan to do one day- Lisa Wordbird are you with me?)

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So let’s get down to it and have a look at whether this scent really is as gorgeous as it reckons.  The quick answer is yes.

  Imagine if you will, a vanilla pod walks into a bar, gets sozzled on gin and tries to kiss you in an antique wardrobe wearing a lime based eau de cologne.  That’s the best way I have of explaining it.

Vanilla-Pods-6-150x150The notes are few and simple:  The opening is citrussy and  has lots of bergamot and almost at the same time smells like the inside of an antique wooden wardrobe: almost but not quite, musty.  The vanilla, in a Nancy Drew sort of way, draws itself up to its full height and takes control of the situation.  Vanilla has frankly been over used and abused lately in mass market perfume and its beauty has been devalued via synthetic cup cake and candy floss concoctions.  The Sexiest Scent On The Planet Ever puts Vanilla back in the driving seat like an overexposed soap star having a come back as a glamorous matriarch.

The Vanilla here is thick and rich and  almost fuzzy.  Not a hint of cupcake here.  No Sir.  In fact the Vanilla is such good quality that it tips over into boozy territory.  Had I smelled this blind, I would have said there was patchouli in it, but there isn’t.  However, it does have that raspy spicy quality that patchouli has, despite being a spice free zone.

Longevity is very good, and surprisingly, I get a hint of rum soused fruit in it, a bit like Serge Lutens Arabie, which in turn smells like Nigella’s recipe for black cake. But mysteriously, there are neither fruit nor rum notes in the scent. I have a  30 ml bottle of  Sexiest Scent On The Planet Ever (IMHO) and I think the price is very reasonable indeed, at £40.   This is the same price  as a Jo Malone, but  far more niche and  deeper and richer.  In other words, it’s very good value and you’re not going to smell like everyone else.  Although if 4160  Tuesdays goes on snowballing, there will be others like us! And that will be no bad thing at all.

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Eau de Sisley 1: The Ultimate Summer Fragrance

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If you had to make a cologne, you would naturally ask for some citrus fruit, maybe Grapefruit,  maybe some nice Herbs, and you’d probably end up with something pretty cologne-y.  Eau de  Sisley 1 has done all of this, ticked all the boxes and gone a step further.

What’s the most refreshing drink you can have on a sunny day?  Maybe a sparkling Gin and Tonic or an Iced Tea?  Sisley has included both.  Yes indeed, Eau de Sisley 1 has juniper from Gin and refreshing notes of Tea along with the requisite  astringent Grapefruit giving this cologne a sparkle you will never tire of on even the most humid of days.

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photo by foodcracks.com

Cutting through the heat, this is bright and sparkling from the word Go and  the hints of Juniper and herbs (Thyme to be precise) make this  a botanical revitalizing delight.

Even the base note stays zingy, which is no mean feat where citrus is involved.  In fact, I thought the base of had a lot of Vetiver in it, but in fact I was mistaking it for  a combination of Herbs and Musk.

Lasting power  is also pretty good for a cologne, I would say around five hours.  Cost isn’t cheap (around 62GBP for 50ml), but you wouldn’t wear this out in Winter, so it would last you around a year if you rotated it with other scents.  It’s unisex so you could always buy it for Father’s Day and “borrow” it , she wrote with a sly wink.  (Innovative or shameless? You decide!)

My warm gratitude goes to friend of the blog meganinstmaxime for very kindly sending me this and many other wonderful hard-to-get samples.  Thank you Megan!

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WANTED! The Notorious Tubereuse Criminelle.

 

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The first time I heard of Tubereuse Criminelle  was on Mumsnet. A Mumsnetter found it so appallingly bad that she was inspired to start a thread entitled “Worst Ever Perfumes”.  The thread is now in its sixth incarnation, which means over 5,000 replies have been posted and the thread has evolved from worst to best, from SOTDs to recommendations hither and thither.  Samples have been swapped and perfume true loves have been discovered.  And all because of the notorious Tubereuse Criminelle.

fragrancelife.ru
fragrancelife.ru

Created by the prestigious and prolific Christopher Sheldrake for Serge Lutens, Criminelle is certainly a Madame with dark intentions.  I have long thought that Tuberose, when good quality, is creamy almost to the point of being medicinal, and Christopher Sheldrake must have thought the same (I flatter myself to think we agree, he is a genius and I, a mere passionate amateur). Sheldrake has taken the almost chemical notes of uber strong, nuclear Tuberose and concentrated it to the Nth degree until it smells like something else, at least initially.

On first spray, Criminelle smells like  TCP antiseptic along with clean fabric sticking plasters.  This is not a complaint: I rather like it. Then it smells like the pink mouth wash you get at a dentist, then it finally calms down a bit and the Tuberose (XXX strong), starts to come out after doing a rather tricky striptease in the opening Act.

The Tuberose is accompanied by Jasmine, Hyacinth, and Orange Blossom, with a base of Styrax,  Clove and Nutmeg.  What this translates to on my skin is: Antiseptic, then Tuberose to the Max, and finally a faint whiff of dried leaves, like old pot pourri still with satiny Tuberose infusing everything.

This is utterly dastardly in its deception and its tricksy opening, and then a triumph as the bud opens to reveals the flower.

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wiki

Longevity, as you would expect from a Serge, is around nine hours.  Two things: don’t wear it in company before noon, and don’t buy it blind. I would love a full bottle of this, and would treasure it like gold.

I have a very kind soul to thank for this sample- follower and friend of the blog, meganinstmaxime sent me this sample all the way from France.  In keeping with its crafty nomenclature, this sample disappeared into thin air after I tried it.  I looked everywhere- even going through the bin at one point. I turned my house upside down, raiding drawers, my handbag, my desk, the sofa, the kitchen and everywhere you could think of.

This morning I found it- on the chopping board.  Why? What on earth…? I tell you, this is a crafty one.

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Perfume for Paupers: How to Smell Good on a Budget

Frugal Fragrance, Scents on a Shoestring, Perfume for Paupers: phrase it how you will.  The truth is that these days the cost of living is high and luxuries are the first to go. Choosing my perfume for the day is a few minutes I treasure. I certainly have plenty of choice but only around four bottles on my dressing table cost more than thirty quid (and were mostly gifts).

photo by World of Oddy
photo by World of Oddy

I am often asked how I can afford to sample a new perfume every day and I always answer almost apologetically: I have very few expensive full bottles and sometimes a review is prompted by a few free squirts at my local beauty counter. The rest are inexpensive bottles, samples or purse sprays. If I had had to spend a lot of money to do this it wouldn’t have been possible.

Granted, I have two advantages: a very generous friend without whom this blog would be shorter and harder to write.  I know how lucky I am.  The second advantage is that as a blogger, I often get sent free sample sizes to trial.  However, apart from that, I truly believe that it is possible to smell good without breaking the bank.

 On the High Street

There are several ways in which to enjoy perfume on the cheap.  Firstly, I no longer dismiss cheap perfume the way I used to long ago.  Rummage long enough in the nd.10934High Street fare, and you will find gems that cost well under a tenner, and even a few for under a fiver. In my local Bodycare shop, I have bought  100ml of Cabochard for £8.99 and a bottle of Jovan White Musk for Women for £6.19.  Then there is the bargain Queen of them all: Coty’s L’Aimant– and I am neither the first nor the last to find similarities between L’Aimant and Chanel No 5.  Created in 1927, L’Aimant has a retro feel that reminds my esteemed fellow blogger The Perfumed Dandy, of an Agatha Christie heroine. A small bottle can cost just over a fiver and is widely available.

 

Be Unfashionable

Back in the 70s, drugstore classics were everywhere and everyone wore them.  They have lost popularity now but are worth revisiting.  Their lack of popularity means they are cheap too, so it’s a win-win situation if you like bargain chypres tweedand aldehydes. I have purchased Panache for just £4.99 on Fragrance Direct- and the longevity is around 12 hours, making this classic aldehyde excellent value.  I have also managed to purloin (I love that word) a bottle of retro favourite Tweed from my local chemist for £4.99.  Recently a little bottle of Chique arrived in the post for just £3.99 and it is full of Citrus and Oakmoss. (see my rave review).

 

 In Praise of Purse Sprays

Then there are the purse sprays.  I have a bouquet of these on my dressing table, none costing over a fiver.  Marks and Spencer does an excellent range of perfume and purse spray ma nd salmost all of them are available in 10ml and 25ml sizes, starting at £4, making these affordable treats. I also find that very often there is a sales brochure in my Avon catalogue and I have in the past bought a purse spray of Little Red Dress for just £3.99. Avon are doing these more regularly now and you can get them for just £3. I recently picked up a 10ml bottle of Next Just Pink for just £2 in my local Next Clearance store, and it’s become a firm favourite.

Go Niche and Bijoux

 4160 test setIf you have a lot of perfumes and samples, a small amount can last nearly a year if you rotate it with other scents. It is possible to have sample sizes of great niche scents for special occasions that would normally be prohibitive when bought in full size bottles. However, there’s no reason why anyone should be left out, regardless of budget.

Samples of niche scent enable you to smell unique and fabulous without breaking the bank. In the UK I recommend Pell Wall, 4160 TuesdaysThe Perfume Society Discovery Boxes, Les Senteurs or eBay. In the USA, try The Perfumed Court or Surrender to Chance. Which leads me to my next heading…

 Buy Online

photo by World of Oddy
photo by World of Oddy

Determined and lengthy browsing on Amazon has helped me find Coty Chanson D’Eau a citrussy hesperide at only £6.99 for 50ml including a shower gel.  Even I was sceptical at that price, but pleasantly surprised at this lovely green cologne on receipt of it. Another recent Coty find was Coty Aspen for Men at £8.29 a delightful Lavender/Pine combo that smells like Creed Green Irish Tweed . Don’t rule out Old Spice either- it was originally meant for women and smells like a lighter version of Dana Tabu).

Yves Rocher is a minefield of bargains, but sadly my nearest branch is in France.  Their online service for the UK is excellent however.  I just bought 2 bottles for the price of one: Clea and Yria. They were blind buys, but I looked them up on Fragrantica, liked the reviews and went ahead.  I was not disappointed and now own two bottles for the total price of £15. They usually let you choose three free samples and a free gift too.

One of my favourite sites is Allbeauty.com, formerly CheapSmells.com.  They have a huge variety of genuine big names, but can sell cheap since they are without the High Street overheads. Prices are very low and there is a vast selection of perfume under £10. Postage is free  when you spend over £15 but it does take about week.  They don’t pay me to say how great they are, but their delivery guy could find my house without sat nav.

 Samples

 Being a blogger I have the advantage of having been sent some free samples from discoveryclub_headerimgvery generous companies, and I am lucky to have a good friend in my chum Lisa, whose generosity in letting me loose on two big boxes of phials, knows no bounds.

Samples are getting harder to cadge over the counter: believe, me I’ve turned on the charm!  But there are other methods.

The Fragrance Shop Discovery Box (see photo) is a good way to bolster my sample collection.  At only £5 a quarter, I receive a box of mixed samples and vouchers for money off full sized bottles. My absolute favourite Discovery Box comes from The Perfume Society, which provides around ten samples, smelling notes, sniffing strips, and a couple of scented goodies that vary from facial serum, to hand cream or shower gel.

 Look Beneath the Glitz

Don’t rule out tacky looking celeb scents either: Who cares what it says on nd.8925the label?  If you like it, go ahead.  Two of my favourites are Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights (very Vegas!), bought for £8.95 which smells of Papyrus and Patchouli ( and very similar to Prada EDP), and JLo Deseo, which looks like wet jewel and smells eau so fraiche!

 eBay

Ebay is an excellent source of cheap fragrance trawling, especially after big events such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day when people sell their disappointments.  Some buyers are afraid of being sold a dud, but I can honestly say everything I have bought has been authentic and eBay are pretty strict about fake stuff, so it’s a good place to shop around.

Swaps, Decants and Splits

If you get stuck into the talk boards on Basenotes, Fragrantica, Facebook Fragrance Groups or even Mumsnet Style and Beauty threads, you can not only find friendly like minded fellows, but can usually swap decants, full bottles, or even go in on an expensive niche bottle by just buying, say a quarter if a full bottle with some fellow fragheads. Perfume lovers are generous souls and genuinely want to spread the joy.

Photo by World of Oddy: Wishing Pool in Portmeirion
Photo by World of Oddy: Wishing Pool in Portmeirion

How about you?

What’s the best bargain you’ve ever scooped?  Have you found a hidden gem? Do share so we can share your joy, follow in your footsteps or just sit here being all jealous. Perfume is such a treat, I truly wish it for everyone.

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Tauer Incense Rose: I Could Never Leave You

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It’s hard for me to pick a favourite Tauer: it changes day by day. However, if a cruel person made me only choose one, it would be Incense Rose.

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I have been looking at a lot of rose perfumes recently but this one makes the rose smell so unique, whilst keeping its characteristics.

It opens with a blast of sparkling aldehydes. If Rose and Bergamot were made into sparkling lemonade this is what it would smell like. The opening phase lasts and lasts and then starts to change and move into ecclesiastical territory- which is fine by me as I am huge fan of Comme Des Garcons Series 3 Avignon and I do love a bit of church.  The incense here is High Church and High quality.  I have sat through enough High Masses to vouch for this.

The incense is rich and resinous and makes me think of ancient stone walls and that particular hushed atmosphere of a cathedral.  The rose is still there, but it’s not a pretty rose with frills and lace.  It is the peppery, paper like rose petals that you would find in a good pot pourri. The leaves are faded and fragile, but the scent of rose is there- spicy and dry.

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Civray Church, Poitou Charente-my own photo

The third phase would please any fan of Andy Tauer’s L’Air Du Desert Marocain (or LADDM to fans).  The scent has now become smoky and dry, like the desert mentioned, but still the rose lingers.  What started as a light, zingy aldehyde has matured as the day has worn on, and become a Grand Dame of aged smoky Rose petals. I love a perfume that tells a story and changes as my day changes.  It begins with light optimism and energy and ends as a smoky, sandy sunset with the prickles of petals fading as the scent finally gives up after a fourteen hour day.

As usual with Tauers, ingredients are top quality and longevity is unbeatable.  Wear this and bloom.

Stockists

If you are in the UK, you can buy  both 2ml Tauer samples and full bottles from  Les Senteurs.  In Europe, try the Tauer website, and in the USA, try LuckyScent and even Amazon.com for a slection of Tauer fragrances.

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Prada Infusion D’Iris: My New BFF

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My dislike of Iris has been a running theme throughout this blog, possibly because my first experiencew with Iris was the legendary Iris Poudre by Pierre Bourdon. It’s hard core Iris and brings out the root like vegetable smell of it, like a flower bulb.

However, despite valiant attempts to like Iris, I couldn’t pretend any longer.  Like a long polite lunch with disagreeable in laws,  I decided me and Iris were through, and I wasn’t going to try anymore.

So how come an Iris fragrance has just rocketed to the top of Christmas Wish List?  Step forward Prada Infusion D’Iris, you gorgeous creature you.

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photo:wiki

You may recall that I was recently enamoured with Miller Harris Terre D’Iris which was a citrussy Mediterranean take on the flower. The zing brought out a prettiness in Iris I hadn’t smelled before but I assumed it was a fluke.

Looks like it wasn’t a fluke after all, for Prada Infusion D’Iris has just knocked several competitors off the top spot and Mr IScent will shortly be directed towards a large bottle of it in time for Christmas.

Maybe it’s because the notes are extracted via the soaking method, producing a sweeter result, or maybe it’s because citrus, in this case, orange, brings out a bright, floral side to Iris that I found too grey and powdery before.

The basenotes are Incense, vetiver and galbanum, and whilst they all come through in their own measured way, at the top of the pile is iris, ladylike and prim and sophisticated.  All the carotty, dry root smell has gone, and in its place, a perfect, supremely chic flower.

Superb, excellent, marvellous, splendid and wonderful. Je t’aime, Iris.

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Andy Tauer Le Maroc Pour Elle: In The Beginning…

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Le Maroc Pour Elle is the first perfume that Andy Tauer launched.  Luckily for us, its success persuaded him to make more and his second perfume, L’Air Du Desert Marocain, was even more successful and is spoken of in reverent tones by many a perfume fan. The rest is history.

 Le Maroc Pour Elle was an unusual one for me.  My first impression was that it smelled like a cross between Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass and  Worth Je Reviens.   However,  and it’s a big however, when the rose kicks in, the whole puzzle really comes together and makes sense.

Within around ten minutes this smells like one of those wonderful independent shops filled with a plethora of incense and candles and tiny phials of perfumes oils and pot pourri.  It’s very BoHo, very hippie, and has a whimsical nostalgia about it.

The lavender is strong, and pervades throughout, which can sometimes give a soapy/detergent feel when used with a heavy hand, but here, it is kept in check by the roses.

The base stays light, unlike many Tauers in which the basenotes become richer and resonant in the final phase. Le Maroc Pour Elle makes me think of a retro hippy market on a summer’s day, incense is in the air, you’re wearing freshly laundered clothes and walking past a flower shop. You’ve got all the time in the world and the sky is blue.

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PS My three year old stopped what he was doing and ran across the room to say “Mum, you smell LOVELY” whilst my seven year old said “No you don’t, you stink.”

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Andy Tauer PHI Rose de Kandahar-It’s Here!

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I am an unabashed fan of Andy Tauer. That doesn’t mean I blindly love everything he does: for some reason Reverie au Jardin disagrees with me, but I’d pretty much take a Tauer scent any day of the week.

What I love about Tauers is that Andy is a one man show.  He’s not a boardroom full of shirts looking at focus groups and trends.  He doesn’t have to go through a comittee and he’s not part of a global organisation (apart from having a distribution partner).  He’s a lone wolf and that makes things very interesting right from the start.

The development of PHI Rose de Kandahar has been well documented via Andy’s blog and Facebook page and it’s finally available in the UK.  This is a limited edition as Andy’s vat of Rose de Kandaher absolute is not bottomless (hence its inclusion in the “Collectibles” range). So now I finally have my treasured sample. Was it worth it?  Oh yes.

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fragrantica.com

PHI Rose de Kandahar has a Middle Eastern richness to it. Initially it’s honeyed roses and almonds and dried apricots: it reminds me of a scented Souk. At first this edible combination was very Turkish Delight, just for a moment.  But what happens next is that it transforms into, unless I’m mistaken, something not unlike a good Arabian Oud.  I often find Oud too strong for me, but in Rose de Kandahar it’s like a robust backdrop to something altogether more delicate. The irony is that there is no Oud in it, but the combination of tobacco, ambergris, vetiver and patchouli gives this a very rich and almost prickly base.   It’s like serving an aromatic Bacchanalian feast on a rough granite table. The contrast of the rough with the smooth enhances the delicacy of the ingredients.

Here are the notes as listed on Fragrantica:

 apricot, cinnamon,
bitter almond, bergamot

Rose of Kandahar essential oil,
Bulgaria rose absolute, Bourbon geranium, dried tobacco leaves.

patchouli, vetiver, vanilla,
tonka beans, musk, ambergris.

 There is an interesting Feel Good back-story to this.  The Kandahar roses that produce this absolute were grown in Afghanistan by farmers that have been subsidised to produce roses instead of growing plants that provide the base materials for drug use (“Hungerhilfe”). In other words, Make Roses, Not Drugs.

The wonderful fragrance alone is reason enough to love this, but  add the milk of human kindness and  you have just one of the many reasons to love PHI Rose de Kandahar.

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Serge Lutens Vitriol D’œillet: The Carnation Bites Back

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I really didn’t know what to make of Serge Lutens Vitriol D’œillet when I first sprayed it.  I thought it was a slightly bitter Aldehyde with brash, unadulterated sour limes. However, it soon morphed into something altogether different as it dried, but the opening  blast was worthy of a Tauer and reminded me of how Andy Tauer uses Aldehydes and Bergamot in a retro way.

Paradoxically, once Vitriol has calmed down, it heats up.  Before long, spiky, spicy Carnations take over.  Their prickliness is enhanced with a backdrop of strong clove, pepper and chilli. However, there still seems to be some Bergamot in the backdrop, even though it is not listed as a note.

Image I find Vitriol very unusual.  I have to pay it the compliment of saying that although I’m not sure I like it, it has really kept my interest today and I can’t stop sniffing it.  It’s almost like a mystery that I want to solve.  The Carnation is there, but it’s not a floral scent.  The edible spices are there, but it’s not savoury. It has Peppers and Chili but is not a gourmand.

In fact, I’m not sure what category I would put this into, but I really want to get to know it better.  I guess I’ll put it in the “Fascinated” category.  This one might just creep up on me and make me fall in love with it, but right now, the jury’s out. Oh, and don’t buy it blind.

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L’Artisan Parfumeur Premier Figuier: Fig, Fig and More Fig, followed by the Fig.

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Let’s talk Fig.  I only recently discovered Fig, which is frankly a scandal nine months into a perfume blog, but I have never claimed to know it all.

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The portal through which I entered the World of Fig was Hermes Un Jardin En Mediterranee. It knocked me out. It was marvellous.  I was as desperate as Eve to find more Fig stuff. Obligingly, my dear colleague Lisa Wordbird, presented me with her bottle of L’Artisan Parfumeur Premier Figuier to see what I thought.

One thing’s for sure. Having spent a few days alone with this, I can now Fig spot from ten feet away.

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telegraph.co.uk

To me, Fig is rich and creamy with heavy green notes around the edges. The fruitiness is like smelling the dried fruit of a Christmas cake before you add it to the mix. Fig equals Sultanas, Milk and green leafery.  However there is one caveat that stops me fully embracing the figginess of Premier Figuier.  There is to my nose, an animalic or musky note that vividly reminds me of a scene in my life many years ago. No names, no pack drill.  Gather round for a fireside story with ole IScentYouADay.

Many moons ago I knew someone who had sterling family ancestry, pots of money and was quite the aristocrat.  However, he had the most appalling personal hygiene. So shocking was it, that the entire abode in which he lived smelled to High Heaven.  Clothes, furniture and air carried the unwashed stench around  from room to room and even onto the street Imagewhen the door was open.  This man, who was terribly nice, and is massively unlikely to be reading this (I hope), had a girlfriend who doused herself in Guerlain Samsara. You may notice I have never reviewed Samsara.

The end result is that  despite Samsara having no fig, Premier Figuier reminds me of that brief window in time when my nose was trying to divide the musk of stale BO from the Green,  fruity rich Samsara.

This is in no way the fault of this lovely Fig perfume, since Premier Figuier is beautifully put together. There are many non fig notes listed: Asfoetida, Fruity notes, Fig leaf, and Sandalwood.

But all I can smell is Fig and Musk, and that rather fetid London Spring of 94.