Category Archives: perfume

Elizabeth Taylor Diamonds and Emeralds: Almost Nearly Potentially Good

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As you may have realised by now, I am constantly on the trail of a low rent bargain: a high quality gem hiding behind its low price. Sometimes I am lucky, more often than not I am disappointed.  Still, I can always cheer myself up with a squirt of (non cheap) Carillon pour un Ange. It seems to be just what the Doctor ordered of late. It provides great comfort and succour for those moments when you are staring at your new low cost purchase in disillusionment. Again.

ImageSadly, Dame Elizabeth’s glamorous offering, Diamonds and Emeralds is that very purchase. Like a Magpie, I was attracted to the pretty box, the pretty bottle, and the image of Diamonds and Emeralds. Great name, great lady. Fabulous jewellery.

I have previously tried Diamonds and Rubies and found it shockingly bad. It’s in my Perfumed Turkey Hall of Infamy. It’s like being attacked by Peach flavoured Plasticine in a guest toilet that is dressed floor to ceiling in peach lace, right down to the toilet lid and toilet roll holder. It was an assault on my senses and easily one of the worst commercial smells I have ever encountered.

liz emeraldsDiamonds and Emeralds isn’t quite as nasty, and starts off showing a great deal of potential. First off, the Gardenia hits you rather prettily.  As soon as that has registered, rich, creamy tuberose comes out to play.  Just as I was enjoying the tuberose and feeling smug about my low cost purchase, along came a gang of aggressive peaches and sprayed me to death with cheap air freshener. Sadly this synthetic peach note is the longest lasting phase.  If they had just held back on the peaches, this could possibly have been a rather old fashioned, inexpensive tuberose classic  Not in the same category as the Great Fracas of course, but in a sort of “it’ll do”  category. Madonna made a good attempt at affordable tuberose in Truth or Dare, but Diamonds and Emeralds is a fleeting waft of synthetics in comparison.

How very sad, since I badly wanted this 80s Dynasty style diamanté encrusted bottle on my dressing table, but I’m afraid it might scare the good stuff away.

The only pleasure I had from Diamonds and Emeralds was found in looking at the photographs of the real McCoy at the auction of Dame Elizabeth’s jewellery.  How wonderful to look on such a masterpiece.  I guess nothing was ever going to match up to the real thing.

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Elvis Jesus: Cynical? Moi?

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 I received a sample of Elvis Jesus  in my Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Box. It’s not a brand I’ve heard of and before I’d smelled the sample, I was put off by two things. Firstly, the sample was a 1ml phial, not very generous!. Secondly, the blurb on the accompanying card was so long and dense I lost the will to read it all. It was like sleeve notes on a progressive rock album or a teenage boy’s poetry journal. Terribly serious, but it didn’t mean an awful lot.

The website states: “fashion brand Elvis Jesus has once again delivered an in-your-face product that stands as both an icon of rebellion while consistently incorporating couture design”.

Indeed.

I’m also slightly irritated that it is a masculine scent and therefore my Discovery Box contained three masculines and three feminines, rather than two for men and four for women as advertised. I would have preferred more feminine samples, simply because I disliked the three I was given. The Discovery Box is only in it’s third edition, so maybe they will change this as they go along. A masculine and a feminine box would be an ideal,  despite the fact that I believe  if it smells good, wear it, regardless of the label or price or gender.

Elvis Jesus smells like a replica of Paco Rabanne 1 Million. 1 Million is a runaway bestseller, with its Gold Bullion packaging and its ability to floor an asthmatic at twenty yards (i.e yours truly). It genuinely makes my breathing go raspy and I have to avoid it. However, if you like it, and want a cheaper version, you could always buy Elvis Jesus.

Now about the name: either this is a post ironic take on pop culture, or the brand has used the second two most Googled terms in the world in order to “help” potential customers locate their brand. I say second most Googled, since I do believe that Mr Beiber holds first position. The world is a dark and mysterious place.

Here’s what Elvis Jesus says it smells like:  “(Elvis Jesus) is a blend of citrus scent and an earthy heart of black pepper, with deep notes of cedar and sensual woods, leaving a masculine, long lasting and seductive impact”

Here’s what I think it actually smells like: Cedar, Vetiver, Lemon and Sage. However, the notes make it sounds lighter and fresher than it is. It’s Woody base kind of cancels out the promising freshness in the opening notes.

I’m being kind, it actually smells very generic and could be any Avon For Men, with the lasting prickly base note that equates to a cheaper Paco Rabanne homage.

I think what made me finally turn my back on Elvis Jesus was this quote from the inside of the sample card (entitled rather grandly :Chapter One) “EJ portray a twisted tale of sex and drugs and sweet salvation. Like the kid at the back of the class they mess with meaning and toy with The Man like cats with mice

As a perfume blogger, I am accustomed to pretension and spin, but this was too sixth form college, even for me. Sorry kids, I’m out. Don’t play tricks on the babysitter and I’ll be back by twelve.

Footnote: I’ve noticed that in tiny font on my sample it says “For Her” but it still smells exactly as I have described above.

 

Une Fleur de Cassie: Editions de Parfums Dominique Ropion for Frederic Malle

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 I have tried several Frederic Malle fragrances. Whilst no two are quite the same, I do notice similarities between them.  I often think “Hmm, that smells like a Frederic Malle”, only to find that it was.

 I rather liked Une Fleur de Cassie, but didn’t love L’Eau D’Hiver (which I reviewed back in January), discovered a hearty dislike for my nemesis Iris Poudre,   and was left slightly underwhelmed by Musc Ravageur. I have been told however, that I might just love  Bigarade, and since Jean Claude Ellena is at the helm of that one, they might be right.

Une Fleur de Cassie is a lot of perfumes all at once.  Not a Green, not quite a Floral, not a Citrus, not a Chypre, not an Oriental.  It begins smelling a little of musty blackcurrants and Roses and Chalk. It then beds down into a creamy dust, framed with Dried Rose petals, background Jasmine, and yellow, summery Mimosa. The Sandalwood adds a bit of sandy bite. As it settled in, the mustiness became more dominant, and it began to smell like the back of a dark wardrobe and sadly  went a bit cardboard like on my skin. There is a dusty quality, like a stuffiness or lack of air,  that I also found in Iris Poudre.

After around five hours, just before it died away completely, I was left with a very aged smelling milky Musk, with peppery dried Pot Pourri. I’m glad I didn’t buy a bottle blind. This smells much prettier on my Mum, who happens to be around today.  On her, there is a definite hint of Violet Leaf and the Musk really suits her.

Dominique Ropion is a prolific Nose, having created some true greats. It is fair to say that the landscape of modern perfume would be very different without him. In his repertoire, you will find Thierry Mugler Alien,  Givenchy Amarige, Lancome La Vie est Belle, Sisley Soir de Lune, Givenchy Ysatis,  Calvin Klein Euphoria, Caron Aimez-Moi, Cacharel Amor Amor, My Queen by Alexander McQueen,  several for Burberry, several for Escada, Dior Pure Poison,  and several fragrances for Frederic Malle, including the much lauded Portrait of a Lady, to name but a few.

Ropion is both talented and versatile, with no two Ropion fragrances smelling the same.  He can do big Box Office hits, but gives great niche.  Whilst Une Fleur de Cassie isn’t my cup of Monkey Picked Oolong, I’d like to think I can recognise a good perfume when I smell one, and this is definitely good.  Not on me sadly, but on my Mum it’s terrific.  Mum, I think you should splash out.

4711 Ice: Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot.

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 4711 Ice by Maurer and Wirtz is not strictly a fragrance, more a cologne. In the UK, eau de cologne is not used in the same way as it is by our continental cousins. Across the Channel, cologne is used to complete the bathroom niceties. Post shower, Imagesplash it all over, leave the bathroom and get dressed. It’s not meant to have longevity or to replace your daily perfume. Among the colognes, 4711 is the leader of the pack, and is a wonderful, timeless unisex scent that I have long enjoyed.

A friend recently introduced me to 4711 Ice, and once I’d admired its laughably cheap price, I naturally bought some myself. It has been surprisingly hot here in the UK, and  despite having moaned about rain and cold for the last nine months (the longest Winter EVER), I am now complaining that the sun is too hot. Being pale and having freckles, I was not built for sun and I get what my Canadian friend calls the “hot fussies”.

However, this is exactly the kind of case that calls for Doctor 4711 Ice.  Directed at the male market (but does that matter?) it has a cooling menthol effect on spraying which is unbeatable. The smell is clean,  almost liquorice, with maybe a hint of eucalyptus and mint. In other words, everything that qualifies as “refreshing” has been added in spades. The scent itself is gender neutral and there is some brief longevity to be had, which for 2.29GBP is a bonus I was not expecting.

There is a whole list of notes that I think is rather an ambitious boast, as it includes Pineapple, Lily of the Valley, Plums, Peaches, Amber, Musk,  and Violets. In fact, 4711 Ice is a straightforward pleasant smelling minty menthol mixture. I will admit that I could pick out the Bergamot from the list though.

If someone were to criticise 4711 Ice, they might compare it to mouthwash or cough sweets, and I would listen equably to those arguments without retort. However, if you need instant cooling down with an inoffensive clean smelling scent, and you don’t mind if it doesn’t last for hours, then this is for you. I picked my bottle up on Amazon and the price has even gone down since last week. It now has a permanent place in my handbag  It is perfect for Festival season.

4711 Ice is what every cleavage needs when there is no shade and no help.

Tableau de Parfums Miriam: I Think I Know Your Cousin

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I have a hotch potch of similar looking sample tubes and tried a new one yesterday without looking too closely at the label. What I ended up smelling was, I initially thought, Noontide Petals by Andy Tauer, but in fact turned out to be Miriam by Tableau de Parfums.

A few minuets of googling explained why I had been thinking of Noontide Petals. Miriam was Imagecreated by non other than our old friend Andy Tauer and his trademarks are all over it.

Tableau de Parfums is a collaboration between  a filmmaker, (Brian Pera), and a perfumer, (Andy Tauer). With each of the three perfumes in the range comes a DVD and a novella.

Personally, I’m not sure I like the idea, since to me, the fun of perfume is where it takes you in your mind and memory, and this should never be prescriptive. I like to smell a scent, and see where I go. It’s often a different journey and can jog long forgotten memories more effectively than any photograph.  However, in this case, the perfume itself is fabulous and has many hallmarks of a Tauer, a brand I regard very highly.

With more Chypre qualities than Noontide Petals, and more Violets, Roses and Ylang,  Miriam is indeed closely related to Noontide Petals but holds her own. Miriam has a wonderful vintage feel,  as does the bottle, and this was, unsurprisingly Tauer’s plan. In fact there are old fashioned notes in Miriam that make me think of a well used, beautifully polished antique dressing table with a fine layer of face powder and talc and some rosewater spilled onto the wood. There’s a hint of nail varnish, and a general impression of a messy boudoir, with shoes in the floor, and earrings by the side of the bed. However , this is very ladylike, and no messy Worth Courtesan.  Miriam keeps her cool with Citrus notes and Lavender, making this wonderful for summer, yet sophisticated enough for dinner at dusk. You can smell the individual ingredients, as if it was made with basic old fashioned methods, rather than today’s overprocessed factory synthetics.

The basenotes go a bit spicy and woody with Amber and Sandalwood  providing a softer background for the bright, chic opening. It ends dry and dusty, but still pretty with plenty of femininity left in the faded flowers.

Frankly, it’s gorgeous and I would be more than happy with a full of bottle of  ladylike, Miriam and her face powder and her nail polish. This is where it took me.  I wonder where it will take you? No two journeys are the same.

PS Does anyone else think Miriam looks like a cross between Anjelica Huston and Carla Bruni?

Hello to my USA Readers, This is For You. Obsession by Calvin Klein

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I see from my blog dashboard that I have a lot of readers from the USA, a country that has given me several wonderful holidays (Hello San Jose, Yosemite, Carmel and San Francisco!). In honour of your special day, I thought it only right that I should review an American Classic.

Calvin Klein Obsession came along at a time when heavy, spicy perfumes were few and far between. There was Opium and Youth Dew and Cinnabar and that was about it on the Oriental Spicy front. Obsession was created in 1985, the same year as Dior’s Poison (Loud? Let’s just say it made an Aerosmith Concert sound like birdsong). Obsession had the big, brashness that was so characteristic of 1980s fragrance and fashion, think Alexis Carrington and her shoulder pads slamming open a dramatic set of double doors.  I miss you Joan. *sigh*

With a moody black and white ad campaign that was probably shot on a beach in the Hamptons, the market was ready for Obsession, even if train passengers were not.

Obsession opens with Spices, Amber, Sandalwood, a hint of Bitter Orange that’s pitched just right, and a whole host of other goodies that makes this shout “I’M HERE” as soon as you enter the room. Longevity is very good for a scent that’s High Street, mainstream and pretty inexpensive, and I have a sneaking fondness for it. On me, it unfolds in layers: Spice first, a slight booziness like Christmas,  Oranges, then Musk and Incense. I like it, but I am careful to spray just one squirt (base of throat) and no more, especially if I am going to be around food.  I love both perfume and food, but I do believe that perfume should never drown out the smell of either your meal or anybody else’s.

I had a bottle of Obsession in 1995, and again in 2005, and I don’t recall any differences in the formulation. Purists swear it’s been messed with, but I didn’t find  any  discernible anomalies .

 In a sea of fruits and berries and florals, this makes a welcome change and I wouldn’t object to a little mini revival, albeit sparingly. This has stood the test of the time and still feels current. One squirt usage makes the iconic egg shaped bottle last a very long time, making this a beauty bargain.

Happy Independence Day

LOEWE Quizas Quizas Quizas Pasion: Death By Red Berries

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 I was sent this recently as part of my disappointing Discovery Box from The Fragrance Shop. Once a quarter they send out several samples and vouchers for the princely sum of 5GBP. As I may have mentioned before, I remain unimpressed, but my uncontrollable addiction to perfume samples, good or bad, prevents me from cancelling.

This month’s offering contained Loewe Quizas Quizas Quizas Pasion, and I am reviewing it because two of the samples were for men, I haven’t got my head around Elvis Jesus yet (a  stingy 1ml sample, teeny), Mont Blanc smelled pretty similar to this, and after that I was left with Alien Aqua Chic, which I think the Universe wants me to review at some point since I now have three samples of the stuff.

 Loewe is a well established Spanish House that specialises in high end bags. They have now branched out into an extensive fragrance range, including  2007’s Quizas Quizas Quizas. In 2011 they launched a flanker, called Quizas Quizas Quizas Pasion.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to stop typing the long name and I’d like to call it QQQ Pasion. When I first sprayed it, a gang of overpowering Red Berries appeared from nowhere and whacked me over the head. As I came to, a faint whiff of pencil sharpenings and sickly flowers  poked their head through the Red Berry cloud, and a half acceptable note of Pale Woods made its presence felt, though not as much as I would liked. Then everything went a bit butch for a while, then disappeared in a puff of smoke, like a baddie at a Pantomine.

Yes, it’s a fruity floral, heavy on the red berries, and when I say heavy, I’m talking elephants and boulders. This is nothing new, it’s been done to death. However, there is an almost comical melodrama in the blurb, which was too good not to share:

“An aroma, more intense than the most erotic caresses. An eternal memory, never changing, never ending.”

Ahem. I don’t think so. However, if you are lacking in erotic caresses, do splash out on a  bottle of QQQ Pasion, as it’s apparently better than the aforementioned most erotic caresses.  If not, write to Trading Standards and complain that the smell of QQQ Pasion was NOT in fact more intense than the most erotic caresses and you would like your money back.

I might even do this myself, just for kicks.

Lostmarc’h Din Dan: Lemon Sherbert For Grown Ups

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A random sample of Din Dan was kindly given to me recently. As luck would have it, it was a very hot day, which is in fact, the perfect weather to wear Din Dan.

Lostmarch is a company based in Brittany with an ethos that insists on locally sourced natural products and which celebrates the beautiful region in which it is 10-mediumbased. Wild and beautiful stretches of beach, and the nearby flora and fauna: all have inspired their creations. In fact the name Din Dan means “underbush” in the local Bretagne dialect. All their perfumes are guaranteed to contain no parabens, propylene glycol, Pthalate or mineral oils, so if you know anyone who often has allergic reactions to perfume, point them in the direction of Lostmarch.

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www.avondaletraditionalsweets.com

Din Dan is bright and playful and fun. It smells exactly like Sherbet Lemons. To a UK nose, you will know that this means those hard lemon sweets with a sour and sugary sherbet in the middle.

It is surprisingly delightful as a perfume,  and not what I was expecting. There is supposed to be Mint, which I could not detect. There is also a dominant Lemon Verbena note, which just makes it greener and sharper. I remember smelling Lemon Verbena as a child and rubbing the leaves between my fingers. It’s divine in perfume and they have captured it well here.

Looking at the base notes, I was a bit worried as I saw Peach Blossom. Could this be a case of a sharp citrussy scent meeting a disastrous end of twee proportions? Thankfully not. The Lemon stays true and the Peach Blossom holds none of the cringey Peach notes that to me can be the difference between me buying a scent and me running away from it fast. No to Peaches!  I am pleased to report that the Peach Blossom in Din Dan is more Blossom than Peach and acts a calming back drop when the zingy-ness can no longer keep going.

Lostmarch Din Dan makes a welcome and refreshing change to the summer scents being sold on the High Street. On a hot day, this is almost unbeatable. If you like Chanel Cristalle and Annick Goutal Eau D’Hadrien, then it’s definitely worth giving this one a try.

LUSH Furze: Thanks. Thanks a lot.

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Oh dear LUSH, what happened? You have made so many beautiful scents such as Karma, Tuca Tuca, BScent, Icon and Smell of Weather Turning. Yet this year I have quite vehemently disliked 2013’s Euphoria, Sikkim Girls and now Furze.

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borrowed from www.thetimes.co.uk

I wasn’t going to review Furze today, but since my son just emptied my entire 7ml screw top bottle over the sofa, it looks like I have no choice. How I wish that he had chosen any other perfume but this one. It is now destined to be a semi permanent reminder of my dislike of Furze.

 Furze takes me back to my first ever Sindy Doll. Whenever I took her head off it smelled just like this. It’s sweet vinyl, drowned in some kind of bitterness. There are very few notes listed: Coconut, Neroli, Vanilla and Floral notes. The Coconut is concentrated to the point of being almost medicinal, the Vanilla is used with a heavy hand until it smells like Cyanide (Almonds), and the floral notes are a big sticky mess. This is not the Neroli I know and love. Frankly, this is dreadful. It’s overly sweet and it makes my eyes sting. Or maybe that’s emotion at the fact that my sofa is now one big giant room fragrance device smelling like Cleaning fluid and Sindy Dolls’ heads.

If you like sickly sweet, vinyl smells with a hint of petrol, then this is your lucky day.

Leo, this review is for you. Mummy not happy.

Hermes Kelly Caleche EDT by Jean Claude Ellena: Stand Back and Admire

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It has often been said that the scents of the great Jean Claude Ellena are like watercolours. The ingredients are blended with such masterful grace that you cannot see where one begins and another ends. Indeed it seems almost pointless to analyse his fragrances note by note, since the final symphony is the masterpiece, rather than each orchestral unit.

My esteemed fellow blogger The Perfumed Dandy has likened JC Ellena scents to seurat.baignadePointillism rather than watercolours and this metaphor makes a great deal of sense. Once upon a time I stood very close to Seurat’s stunning “Bathing at Asnière”, and close up, trying to analyse his skill was indeed pointless, if you’ll pardon the pun. Close up it was a blurred mess of greys and pastels: blob over blob, making no sense at all. It was only as I stood back and looked from the back of the room that you can see how skilful the artist is.

And that my dear readers, is how I see Hermes Kelly Caleche. It’s the overall picture, not the individual notes. Yes there are lots of ingredients, including Violet, Rose and Mimosa, all of which can be clearly detected, but it is impossible to talk about Kelly Caleche without mentioning the gentle use of Leather. Could Leather ever be so delicate when done with floral notes? In this case yes. Despite Leather being largely considered a heavyweight, or associated with strong notes such as Tobacco or Spice, here it is surrounded by watery flower petals, as delicate as butterfly wings.

The lasting impression that Kelly Caleche gives me is of a shop that sells nothing but very Imageexpensive leather riding boots. If you need to look at the price tag, you can’t afford it. The leather is highly polished and glossy, no Cuir de Russie horsiness here. Behind the coiffed assistant (who is always French in my scenario), there is a vase of Mimosa and Roses.  Someone is eating a Parma Violet (probably me).  The leather fills the room and joins the flowers in one gorgeous glorious fragrance.

And that is what Kelly Caleche says to me. Stand back and admire.