Category Archives: perfume

A Trio of Worth Fragrances

Image

The House of Worth was founded in Paris in 1858 by Charles Frederick Worth, who married his muse and  passed the business on to his sons when he passed away in 1895. The first fragrance from Worth was the now discontinued Dans La Nuit,  in 1924 (relaunched in 1985).  Despite the fame and prestige of the House of Worth, they still only have seven fragrances in their range. The most recent is Worth Courtesan: although I disliked it on me, I admired it for its cleverness (Pierre Bourdon is clearly my nemesis when it comes to scent!)

This is a roundabout way of telling you that I bought three fragrances from Worth this week and  will be reviewing them all. It is a combination of surprise, disappointment and intrigue.

Are you ready? Here we go.

Image fragrances

Miller Harris L’Air de Rien: Dirty and Wonderful

lair de rien modern

I have longed to try this, and made no secret of it. Yesterday, whilst I was at the beach, a good fairy left a 5ml phial on my doorstep. She looked suspiciously like our friend Lisa Wordbird, so once again, dear Wordbird, I thank you.

In previous reviews I have unexpectedly found the scent of unwashed underwear in Feminite Du Bois, Worth Courtesan (filthy!) and Balmain Ivoire de Balmain (vintage not modern). I fully expected a similar grimace from L’Air de Rien. Even Luca Turin in Perfumes the Guide says it smells of soiled underwear.  I couldn’t wait.

To my surprise, I loved L’Air de Rien.  I’m not sure I want to smell like it, but I love it the way I love a masterpiece in a gallery that I wouldn’t hang at home.

jane birkin 1

It smells like the inside of a house or flat. You know how your friend’s homes have a particular smell that nobody else’s has? It’s not a bad thing, in fact it’s rather comforting.  Well L’Air de Rien smells of the inside of a flat where the hostess hasn’t yet showered after last night’s party and has burnt lots of  joss sticks to kill the worst of the spilled wine/crashed out guests smell.  It doesn’t smell of a person, it smells of a scene.

Image
wiki commons

It taps into the most basic of attractants: an unwashed body and  a musty Musk.

L’Air de Rien was created for Jane Birkin (also the inspiration behind the Birkin bag), an Englishwoman abroad, who despite her life in Paris, has lost none of her coarse accent  if Luca Turin is to be believed.  Created in 2006, it could easily have passed muster decades earlier.  It’s very Bohemian: hedonism, a bath once a week (whether you need it or not), cheap red wine and no money for food.

I suppose I should give a cursory mention to the notes listed on Fragrantica, but to do so seems to over analyse what amounts to a vivid scenario of a scent, where analysis could prick the bubble and make it disappear.

jane birkin

Here we go: Neroli, Musk, Amber, Oakmoss, Vanilla,  and Patchouli.

But ignore that and just go with what you feel.

I think Miller Harris  L’Air de Rien is a work of genius and brings back memories of my London days in my mid twenties when parties were frequent and long term responsibility was far, far away.  Miller Harris scents are so evocative: often conjuring entire random scenes and memories in my head, and L’Air de Rien is the Queen of them all.

Estee Lauder Pleasures: Practically Perfect In Every Way

 Image

Estee Lauder Pleasures was launched in 1995 and was a huge hit. After the excesses of the Look At Me 80s, this 90s fragrance was all about everything that was light, airy and pure. You know, like Gwyneth Paltrow.

 Pleasures was everywhere in the 90s including on me: I had a 100ml bottle and a body lotion no less.  It even tempted me away from my steadfast Chanel Cristalle for a  whole summer. There was a new optimism in the 90s. Everything was environmentally sound, and people were hugging trees and taking up Yoga and wearing white floaty shirts. You know, like Gwyneth Paltrow.

So what does it smell like? It smells like a photoshopped meadow on a summer’s day, all delicate blossom and green grass and fluffy clouds. It smells just like its advertising campaign, with original spokesmodel Elizabeth Hurley in the middle, looking ethereal all over billboards and fragrance shop windows.

To me Pleasures smells of Violet and Peony. It’s pretty as a picture. There are no dark or challenging notes, all is light as air. There are Green notes in the opening and  Violet Leaf making its presence felt. Lilac and Lily of The Valley make an appearance, and the basenotes introduce a little White Musk to this delightful bed of flower petals. It is impossibly feminine, almost bridal in its innocence and beauty.

Image I tried Pleasures recently and thought there was a silvery note in it. It’s hard to explain but it was more metallic than I remember, but not to any extreme, more of a tinkly silver wind chime.

Disappointingly, EL has seen the need to produce no less than SIXTEEN Pleasures flankers.  I’ve tried two: Pleasures Bloom and Pleasures Intense. Neither were a success for me.  It was as if someone had bulldozed my pretty meadow. It was as if someone had taken a Jane Austen novel, discovered people liked it and decided to make it into a Musical, a TV series and a range of dolls. Enough already!

 Pleasures is a classic. But leave the flankers well alone. You can have way too much of a good thing.  You know, like Gwyneth Paltrow.

Image

Stockists

You can buy Pleasures from  allbeauty.com or Fragrance Direct.

Follow

Karl Lagerfeld Sun Moon Stars: No Wonder KL prefers Apres L’Ondee

 Image

Rumour has it that Karl Lagerfeld wears Guerlain Apres L’Ondee as his preferred scent. I don’t blame him. He must have distanced himself considerably from his earlier efforts, (although KL Original Chloe remains an excellent budget tuberose for around ten pounds).

Image
www.fragrantica.com

I remember smelling Sun,Moon, Stars in 1995 when a friend of mine had a bottle, not long after its  launch in 1994. At the time, I wore Chanel Cristalle but also had a bottle of original Monsoon, with its little faux woven  pointed cap. I thought Sun, Moon, Stars and Monsoon smelled vaguely similar and remember finding SMS quite agreeable.

I miss the discontinued Monsoon (current Monsoon/Accesorize scents are not in the same league) and recently bought myself a little of Sun, Moon, Stars, hoping for some 90s magic. I bought it, brought it home, and got that familiar thrill when you first take the cellophane off a fresh bottle (I love that frisson!)

But wait…what fresh hell is this? Shreiky ,loud synthetic pineapple, which never smells good in scent, followed by some sort of metallic mess. I drooped. I was crestfallen. I washed it off.

Original Monsoon (apparently made as Wild Lagoon by Coty) was a wonderful green marine perfume with a mossy, patchouli base. Sun. Moon, Stars seems to have lost a lot in translation  and/or has been reformulated beyond all recognition until they can barely justify using the same name.

Top notes are: pineapple, peaches, bergamot, freesia, roses and waterlily. What you actually get is loud, fake, factory farmed pineapple and some cheap tinned peaches.

Middle notes claim to  include carnation, heliotrope, orris root, lily of the valley and jasmine. It sounds very promising, not to mention ambitious for its price tag, but in fact I couldn’t pick out anything but the pineapple and peaches.

Basenotes claim to be sandalwood, amber, musk, vanilla and cedar, but by this time it was  a mushy fake fruit mess with metallic undertones.

It’s bad. It’s really bad. It’s too late for me, but save yourselves! Once again, I found myself logging onto to eBay and offloading it onto some poor sap with no nose. My apologies to the poor sap.

Update August 2017: Breathe out. it’s discontinued!

Follow

Miller Harris Noix de Tubereuse: A Cluedo Mystery Beckons

Image

 Miller Harris is a high quality brand, and I have yet to be disappointed by any of their scents. Whether I like them all or not, I cannot claim that they are anything other than beautifully put together and of the highest quality. Naturally with a wide range, there will be some I don’t like alongside the many I do.

We can put Noix de Tubereuse into the category of “The Jury’s Still Out”.

I’ve been wearing it for two days now and I’m still not certain about it. Its Tuberose for sure, that much is immediately clear, but there was a question mark over this that I couldn’t quite get past.

The first time I tried it, I thought of biscuits. The second time I thought of Hay or the Nuts (noix) of the title. The more I thought about it the more I thought there  was a kind of savoury note in this (dramatic flashbacks to the savoury note in hideous Womanity *scream face*). There are no nut notes listed in this, but I was sure I could detect the scent or taste of them.

There are several notes in Noix de Tubereuse that could be guilty. One of them is Clover. Could Clover be the culprit? Another is Mimosa, a straw like yellow flower scent. Was that the meanie killing my White Flower buzz?

Then there is Orris root. Not a million miles from the  rooty smell of Iris, maybe it was the Orris root?

Starting to feel like Poirot in a parlour full of suspects, I never did get enough evidence to get to the bottom of what is stopping me enjoying Noix de Tubereuse. It could be a solo culprit, or it could have several accomplices.

If I’m completely honest and ignoring the list of notes, I will say hand on heart, that this smells like Tuberose and Nuts. It really does. And I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.

I’m not in love with it, but I would ask for it’s phone number at a later date. Who knows. I might even give it a call.

Stockists

You can buy Miller Harris Noix de Tuberose from Escentual.com.

Follow

Jimmy Choo Flash: I mean Lady Million, I mean Flash…

Image

 It’s  a good news day!

Good news if you like Paco Rabanne Lady Million: Here is a perfume almost identical. If they ever discontinue Lady Million, you’ll be quite safe if you stock up on Jimmy Choo Flash.

Good news if you hate Lady Million: I’ve just stopped you wasting your money on this!

Flashevokes the promise, excitement and high octane atmosphere of going out”. In other words, it’s meant for a younger flashier crowd rather than the kind of tiny crowd I hang around in. Clearly aimed at the late teen/twenty something market, this is keeping in step with current modes and with its glittery box, it will do well, no doubt.

However, it is, like Lady Million,  a huge bunch of fake, synthetic white flowers, so synthetic that it borders on sour. Tuberose, Jasmine, Pink Pepper and Strawberry are all listed, but all I get is fake, fake, fake, with a sour, hollow ending.

Image
photo by www.vogue.it

The biggest shock for me is that the Nose behind this scent is none other than the great Christine Nagel, creator of  one of my favourite ever scents: Eau de Cartier.  Since I love Eau de Cartier so much, I can forgive her anything.  I guess the revered Ms Nagel can certainly turn her hand to  current market demands, but current market demands are not to my taste.

In fact, next on my list of FBs is a bottle of Je Reviens, created in 1932 and still going strong. On matters of fragrance, I was born in the wrong decade.

Serge Lutens Daim Blond: Apricots? And Suede? Mais oui!

 Image

When I first smelled Serge Lutens Daim Blond, it was a sort of blind smelling in so far as I knew nothing about it and knew nothing of the notes. The first image that popped into my head, unbidden, was of a school corridor. I couldn’t fathom it out. Who wants to smell like a school corridor?

Fast forward a few months and I tried again. This time I had two samples and wore Daim Blond exclusively over a couple of days. Ah, now I get it.

 Daim Blond is a toned down leather, in fact, it’s suede rather than leather. Still cow hide, but softer.  In the background is something clean and medicinal. Hawthorn? Cardoman? Maybe this is where the school corridor image came from. Leather satchels and a hint of spicy Dettol? I tried again. This time, it made me think of something very expensive: say an Hermes handbag concession or a luxury car showroom. Must be all that new smelling suede.

And then there’s the curious Apricots. Normally one glimpse of anything  remotely Peachy on a list of notes and I run a mile in the other direction, but the apricots in Daim Blond kind of bloom like a rich juicy flower, and I found them quite pleasant, almost orangey.

It’s a curious blend, with fairly subtle sillage and longevity of around five hours.  Now that I’ve got it to know it better, the school corridor has gone and in it’s place is an expensive handbag on the seat of a brand new showroom-fresh luxury car that I can only look at by pressing my nose against the glass.

There is Heliotrope and Iris in there too, but I could smell neither. I could be ignoring the Iris though, since she and I don’t get on.

This is a subtle and classy scent. It doesn’t show off. It’s smooth, and pretty, but not so pretty that it tries to draw attention to itself. It would smell superb on a man, especially a billionaire.

Daim Blond smells of money.

Avon Wilderness for Men: I Will Let You Into A Secret

Image

 I have been trying not to review this, but since I  wore it off and on for five days and loved it (to me , five days on the trot is a long unbroken run), I thought I’d better get it off my Non-Hairy chest.

For a long time now, I have been getting impatient with Avon fragrance for women. I finally gave up after my eighth bottle of women’s fragrance ended up with the same nasty basenote as the previous seven, for which certain eBay buyers are grateful. When they discontinued the fabulous Timeless, I was indignant.  When they brought out yet another series of new fragrances in their last brochure, all fruity floral, their fate was sealed. No longer would I order any more Avon fragrances for Women (with the exception of Avon Soft Musk, which is a jolly good Musk and excellent alone or used for layering).

avon wilderness

However, over in the Men’s section, there were all sorts of good things going on. With promises of Musk, Patchouli, Amber, Juniper, Grapefruit, Cypress Greens, Woods, Orientals, Lavender and Mandarin zest, suddenly my ears pricked up again.

I ordered a bottle of Wilderness for Men simply because I liked the sound of the notes: Amber and Patchouli are enhanced by wood notes and musk and hints of juniper and grapefruit. At 7GBP for 100ml, I figured this blind buy wouldn’t bankrupt me and I suppose I could always give it to my husband.

When it arrived from Jill, my Avon Lady, it was a very hot day and I wasn’t sure if I wanted Amber and Patchouli. Actually what I wanted was an icy Pimms, but let’s not be greedy.

AVON-WILDERNESS-ERKEK-EDT-100-ml__44970405_0

The Patchouli and Amber were remarkably refreshing and this may be down to the Grapefruit and Juniper lightening both notes up. The juice itself is sea green, with a black lid, and unlike the women’s fragrance range, it actually smells like its ingredients. I can easily pick out the Grapefruit and the Patchouli. There’s a slight powderiness to it too, that I like.  The powderiness falls into the chalky and clean category, like a fresh white mist, making this a great summer buy and smelling more expensive than it should at this ludicrously cheap price.  It’s an EDT rather than an EDP, so longevity is only around three hours, but as usual, I spray clothes and hair to make it last longer.

Finally my Avon brochure is back in favour, or at least the back half of it is.  Sometimes you have to move stuff if you want to find something.

Coty L’Aimant: A Classic since 1927

Image

Three great things about Coty L’Aimant:

1.  It’s really cheap

2.  It smells a bit like Chanel No 5 (Me and 27 Fragrantica reviewers can’t be wrong)

3. It doesn’t smell cheap

I could end it there, but Coty L’Aimant is so much more than a passable substitute for Chanel No 5.  L’Aimant is a perfume I can never wear since it was my late grandmother’s signature scent. Even in her seventies, she was classy and always smelled lovely. Peppermints, Lavender and L’Aimant. Sometimes a whiff of menthol in Winter.

It’s a perfume that I would love to see more people wearing. It’s old fashioned, yes, but you could also call it delightfully retro. It’s been around since 1927 and is still popular, so you could call it a classic.

hprints.com
hprints.com

L’Aimant is an aldehyde, although it has such creamy white flowers and a powdery finish that it is sometimes hard to categorise it with other more astringent aldehydes such as Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass or First by Van Cleef and Arpels.  

It used to remind me of a slightly gone off old fashioned powder compact, which is in fact how Chanel No 5 smells to me ( I’ve never been a fan but I suppose I’ll have to review it at some point).

The top notes of L’Aimant are: Neroli, Bergamot, Peach and Aldehydic Notes. Personally, I didn’t get even a soupçon of Bergamot.  L’Aimant is more peachy  and soapy, with the Neroli providing a hint of rich white flowers.

coty gift

Middle notes are Jasmine, Geranium, Ylang, Rose and Orchid.  I can pick out Jasmine and Rose, but the others are a pleasant furry blur, with maybe a prickle of Spicy Geranium

Basenotes are Vetiver, Musk, Sandalwood, Cedar, Tonka and Vanilla. I definitely get the Vanilla, Sandalwood and Musk, if nothing else. It is after all, a creamy and warm finish with a flourish of powder puff.

What never ceases to amaze me is that a long lasting perfume of this calibre can still be had for a song.  Last time I looked it was under 8GBP for a 30ml Parfum de Toilette spray. A while back, I posted an article called “Good Perfumes Under Ten pounds: Is It Possible?”.  I’m amazed I left this out.  I’ll just have to do another list. (Look out for forthcoming Top Tens).

I may well be giving Coty L’Aimant  a second chance as homage to my late grandmother, who was always such a lady.

 

Follow

Askett & English Essential: Wake Up, It’s a Beautiful Morning

 Image

My sense of smell is slowly creeping back so I thought I’d try something fresh and astringent. We’re not quite firing on all cylinders, but Askett & English Essential is so fresh and bright, it could break through any fog and stuffiness.

Askett & English is a small English perfume company based in the scenic Chiltern Hills. With only two scents to their name (so far I hope), their reputation depends on quality far more than a larger company who can hide a weak link.

The two perfumes are Essential and Absolute. I have only tried Essential, which I am reviewing today.

If You like O de Lancome or Eau Dynamisante, you’ll love this. It’s an Eau de Cologne with lasting power, and it smells heavenly.  Opening notes are Lemon and Bergamot, and middle notes are Lavender and Jasmine. Base notes are Woodier, with Oakmopss, Vetiver and Cedar. The base notes particularly remind me of O de Lancome with’s its Zingy opening and green, prickly base.

Primarily, the Lime comes through stronger than anything, which is lucky, since I love Lime. It’s sparkling: almost like a gin and tonic. You can imagine the bubbles and the ice cubes in a frosty cold glass.

It smells quintessentially English: as English  as cricket whites and tea roses and honey for tea.  It’s not clear if it’s directed at men or women, but it matters not at all. This would smell excellent on either.

Available from limited stockists, I was kindly provided with a sample from Scent and Sensibility. Both Essential and Absolute cost £60 for 100ml.

In  all honesty, if you already  owned O de Lancome and Eau Dynamisante as well, you probably wouldn’t need this (although need and want mean the same thing when talking about perfume), but if you have neither, this will do nicely.