Category Archives: perfume

Chanel Cristalle: I Wouldn’t Change A Thing

Image

 Chanel Cristalle was my signature scent from the age of 24 until about three years ago. Suddenly I ran out and other priorities took over, preventing me from replacing it (Oh did I mention my two children? That may have had a lot to do with it). Its absence from my life served a purpose however, and it certainly opened my eyes to cristalle addifferent perfumes and “creative” fragrance purchasing. That is to say, I could no longer afford Chanel Cristalle and had to shop in a different bracket. Whilst doing so, I became a fervent believer that not all cheap perfumes are bad and not all expensive perfumes are good. I learned to never judge a perfume by its price tag. Had I stuck to Chanel Cristalle I never would have discovered Gres Cabotine, Coty L’Aimant Fleur de Rose, Supermarket perfume such as Lidl’s hidden gem: Suddenly Madame Glamour, or the joy of eBay. There are indeed bargains to be had, and good ones too, that can get a perfume lover through the lean years.

However, it is my birthday today and my husband presented me with cristalle claudiaa bottle of Chanel Cristalle Eau de Parfum. You can bet your bottom dollar he’s a pretty popular guy today. So why has this fragrance outlasted all the others on my hit list? Why has it kept running the Marathon as Also- Rans fell by the wayside?

Cristalle is a very green scent, described as a Floral Chypre. However, to me it is as green as they come. The first spray reminds me of Nettles and Ferns, and within minutes, Citrussy Lemons take over, bringing in a spring like posy of Lily of the Valley. Base notes of Oakmoss give it a bit of earthy depth as the lightness melts away, but it stays green and refreshing from start to finish. It’s perfect for the office. Nobody ever fainted in a lift from Cristalle. It’s fresh and clean and light. It has a hint of Lemonade when you first spray it, as if it fizzes and crackles on the skin. Think adding ice cubes to a jug of sparking water on a hot day.

cristalle ad2

It’s re-entry into my life has illuminated a different approach to Perfume. Whereas in my younger days I always had a signature scent, as I grew older and more capricious, I preferred to have a “Scent Wardrobe”, dependent on mood, temperature, weather, occasion and even what I’m wearing. (NB for “capricious” read opinionated and changeable). Now that I am in my thirties (*cough* Okay, I’m 43 today), I feel more assured of my identity and can therefore mess with it. I don’t need a signature scent, when I have a choice before me every day (mostly many pounds cheaper than Cristalle), but when I do wear my old favourite, it’s like finding a fabulous coat you’d forgotten about, or a favourite necklace you wore during only happy times.

Welcome back my little gem, you may consider yourself Queen of all the other bottles on my dressing table. This is where it all began.

Follow

YSL Paris: J’ai Deux Amours…

Image

 As an escape from heavy woods and intense incense, sometimes I want to take sanctuary in a  simple  pleasant floral. In the same way that wearing something floaty and cool on a hot day offers relief,  sometimes I want the simplicity of a floral like Yves Saint Laurent Paris.

Ignoring the faintly Turkish Delight overtones, to me , Paris has two notes: Violet and Rose. There’s other stuff too, like Soft Musk and a hint of Powder, but it is Violet and Rose, like two fragrant sisters, who sit firmly in the centre of this bouquet of a scent.

paris ad

There’s no Fruit. There’s no Vanilla, no foody Praline, no cheap basenotes. I mean, this is Sophia Grojsman here! It’s simply fresh flowers, it’s pleasant to  be around, and it’s light and airy.

Created in 1983, I have distinct memories of the Sixth Form Common Room in school in the late Eighties, and one co student in particular loved to marinate herself in this before 9am.  However, unlike other Eighties heavyweights around at the time (yes I’m old), too much Paris was never as bad as too much Poison or too much Giorgio Beverly Hills *shudder*., which were also popular at the time.

paris springNaturally, Paris the fragrance doesn’t smell like Paris the City. Paris the City actually smells of Body odour, cigarette smoke, wine, asphalt, traffic and wafts of expensive perfume and coffee.  A wonderful smell actually, but it would never sell if you bottled it. Although having said that, I bet someone somewhere would create it and someone somewhere would buy it.  Maybe Library of Fragrance  could make “Dirty City”.  I know they’d do a great job.

Paris the perfume is mainstream, easy to get hold of and frankly, adorable. The price stops it being totally ubiquitous and the fragrance  trends of the last two years have changed, making Paris not so common now, and frankly, a refreshing change.  There are flankers, but this is the original and best.  Don’t makie the mistake of seeking this kind of classic quality among the flankers. (*cough* Mon Paris *cough*)

Follow

Chanel Cuir de Russie: Add It To Your Stable

Chanel Cuir de Russie

Chanel Cuir de Russie is part of the Chanel range of exclusive (and elusive) fragrances; “Les Exclusifs“. Originally made in 1924, Cuir de Russie was audacious even then, as it was created to complement the then shocking trend of women smoking in public.

In 2007, it was relaunched as part of the Les Exclusifs range, and is available at Chanel Boutiques and selected  Chanel counters in larger stores, but not widely.  Chanel are not in it for the money. They know it’ll sell even if it’s hard to get hold of and costs £200 a bottle.

I have been wearing Cuir de Russie today and  throughout the day my opinion has been changing. When I first wore it, I thought it smelt vintage and also very similar to a Frederic Malle, with that same milky, stuffy base note that several of his perfumes have (according to me, at least). There is Iris in there, which maybe made me think of Malle’s Iris Poudre. (This is not a Good thing, I loathe Iris Poudre!).  However, my heart was won over by the whiff of Leather and one of my favourite incense notes: Myrrh . Myrrh not only  smells archaic and musty and beautiful, but is very hard to spell without a spell checker.

Disappointingly, Cuir de Russie does not have great staying power. I have had to reapply from my borrowed sample several times today (sorry Lisa!) to get the scent going. It’s worth it though, because after a while (and three sprays and a brisk walk), what I got was a new note that I have never smelt in a fragrance before: Horse.

Yes, this leathery beauty smells like Black Beauty. Or Champion the Wonder Horse. Or  Trigger. But I happen to love it.

If you find the £200 price tag eye watering (and who wouldn’t? ) you could always try donning  a Russian Cossack outfit, climbing on board a sweaty stallion,  and riding a leather saddle from the Urals to Moscow. Rub some Myrhh into your legs and then sniff. What have you got? Cuir de Russie.

The Animalic Horsey smell is rather sexy and sets this apart from other Leather classics. Horses smell good, so it is either a stroke of genius or a happy accident that this earthy smell of Hay and Horse has made it’s way into a Leathery Incense fragrance.  Fragrantica lists many notes that are contained in this fragrance, but I’m darned if I can smell Bergamot, Mandarin, Orange Blossom or Rose.

If you want to try Cuir de Russie and can’t get to one of the rare beauty counters that sell this, try looking for samples and decants on eBay or perfume forum sites such as Basenotes or Fragrantica.

It was shocking in 1934 and it’s shocking now. Horse notes?  Shocking.  Shocking but Great. With a capital “Gee Gee”.

Image

Coty L’Aimant Fleur de Rose: Get it While You Still Can

Image

 Coty L’Aimant has been around since 1927. I have a particular fondness for it as it was the signature scent of my much missed and beloved late grandmother.  On me, it’s no great shakes, but on her it was wonderful.  I almost can’t bear to buy it or smell it, so evocative are the memories. I never underestimate the power of scent. It can take you back you in time more powerfully than any photograph.

When I saw that Coty had made a flanker called L’Aimant Fleur de Rose, I was curious enough to buy it, since I thought a bit more flora would make me like the L’Aimant scent more. To me, L’Aimant is too synthetic and powdery: In fact I am not the first person to say it reminds me of Chanel No 5. If you are a fan of Chanel No 5 and budget won’t permit a purchase, then affordable Coty L’Aimant is a close second.

Fleur de Rose however, keeps a muted shadow of the L’Aimant scent but has softened it with Peony, Rose , Musk  and Freesia. It smells like a very feminine White Floral Musk. Imagine if you used a Rose scented body lotion, then layered Body Shop White Musk over a classic white flower scent, say Anais Anais, followed by a light dusting of baby talc :  Voilà! you have L’Aimant Fleur de Rose.

This fragrance really grew on me, but what makes it even more appealing is that I bought my 30ml bottle for £3.99 from Home Bargains. I have recently seen 15ml bottles in Bodycare for £1.99 and bought some as stocking fillers last Christmas.

Judging by the low price, the availability in bargain shops, and the fact it is absent from Fragrantica listings, I can only conclude that this has been discontinued. If you see it, buy it. Actually, buy two. I’ve a feeling this beauty won’t be around much longer.

Guerlain Aroma Allegoria: Aromaparfum Apaisant: Spring is Coming, Look Busy.

Image

 When I first tried Guerlain Aromaparfum Apaisant my initial thought for almost three seconds was Marine notes. The sea, the sea! So fresh it could cut through any smog.  Within minutes the dry down showed me how wrong I was.

This is not an Aqua at all, it’s a Yellow Flower Honey scent with top notes of Chamomile and Freesia. Often when I smell a new perfume I write down what I can smell and then check it against the notes listed on Fragrantica. On this occasion, it does exactly what it does on the tin: Chamomile Tea next to a bunch of Freesias and a pot of Honey.  In fact the Yellow Flowers and Honey notes made this smell very similar to Gianfranco Ferre Essence D’Eau which I reviewed earlier in this blog.

If you like Essence D’Eau or Lancôme’s Poême, then this will be a good addition to your collection. To me it’s too cloying and flowery, and the honey makes my ears think they can hear bees.

This was created in 2002 by Jean-Paul Guerlain himself. Groucho Marx once said on leaving a hostess at the end of the night “ I’ve had a wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.”

To paraphrase Groucho: Jean-Paul Guerlain has made some wonderful fragrances. But this isn’t one of them. Unless you are black and yellow and have wings and a sting.  In which case, you’re going to LOVE this.

Serge Lutens Cuir Mauresque: Your Ever Changing Ways

Image

 I haven’t always got on with Serge.  I’ve yet to review several of his scents so I won’t give too much away here.  However I will say that I am still indignant about Ambre Sultan, and non plussed with both Louve and Chergui, more of which anon.

However, with Cuir Mauresque (Moorish Leather) I have discovered one of those wonderful perfumes that changes the longer you wear it. From one phase to another, Cuir Mauresque kept my interest and was full of surprises. Christopher Sheldrake, I forgive you for hooligan juice Ambre Sultan. You have more than made it up to me.

When I first tried this amber fragrance (I mean the colour not the scent), it was immediately evocative of the smoke from joss sticks: both Incense and Smoky notes at the same time.  The Leather is in the background immediately, although it doesn’t take over. There is Spice too: Cinnamon and Clove take a back seat, but are still in the picture. What stops this smelling too Christmas Cake is the lack of sugar.  There are no sugary Vanilla notes, so what you have is an aromatic blend, rather than spiced cake or a gourmand.

What intrigued me about this is that about half an hour after spraying, it seems to turn into an early Twentieth Century vintage blend, say a Caron Tabac Blond, or even a staler Mitsouko. There was that dusty approach that complements “le Smoking”. But it’s OK if you don’t like that, because after that phase it turns into the dried Rose Petals of a pot pourri, sort of papery and peppery  but still with a ghost of dreamy Incense.

Finally it drifts away, leaving a faint trace of powdery Musk and Oud, and yes even a rather suggestive tease of Civet. There is a definite hint of unwashed body at the end. I like a fragrance that tells a story. I like a fragrance that grows and blooms and changes and gradually slinks off in a puff of smoke, job done.  This is complex and interesting. It’s also around £80.00 for 50ml, so I have to think very hard before saving up for a whole bottle.

Cuir Mauresque is like an ugly man with beautiful eyes, although I’m leaving the room,  I can’t stop myself from looking back.

 

Penhaligon’s Love Potion number 9: Loves Me, Loves Me Not.

 Image

This is my first ever Penhaligon’s fragrance and I couldn’t wait to try it. The packaging is outstanding: a pink box on a little stand, a glass bottle inside with a bow around its neck. Ten out of ten for effort Penhaligon’s. They’ve been around since 1870 and both The Queen and The Prince of Wales are patrons, so I expected nothing less than class on that score.  Incidentally, it is said that both Margaret Thatcher and the late Princess Diana wore Penhaligon’s Bluebell. Funny to think two such polar opposites could have something in common.

What comes out of this beautiful bottle of Love Potion Number 9, has me in two minds. Initially it’s a rush of broken ferns: a memory from my childhood where I would pick ferns and break them to sniff the sharp green juice inside.  Maybe that’s why I love Green notes now? Who knows. Actually the top note is listed as Tarragon so maybe that’s what I can smell.  In any case, it’s very Green and very “stems and leaves”, with the Geranium coming through, as promised.

I think it’s the dry down that jars a little.  After a while this seems to “go off” on my skin. It becomes like a flower that’s past its best and turned to dust, with a hint of sweet and dry vanilla over the top.  It’s powdery sweet like Lemon Geranium talc and I don’t think we suit each other.

At least one reviewer on Fragrantica compares it to Dior Dune and I have to say that it certainly rings true.  There is that Grassy Patchouli note as it beds in.  On paper, I should love LP No 9. It has notes I adore: Bergamot, Lemon, and Lavender to name but three of my favourites. However, what I got was Green Ferns, Roses,  Lemon Geraniums and a faint Patchouli base.  Again, I should like that combination. However, I don’t think it’s that LP No 9 is bad, I just think it doesn’t like ME.  I wanted to join the Love Potion Party, but it turned me away at the door.

This is around £80 a bottle so try and get hold of a tester or decant and wear it for a whole day before deciding if you like it enough to invest. It may like you more than it liked me.

 

The Last Word in Celeb Scents: Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely

Image

 I could not write about Celebrity Fragrance without giving Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely  the attention it deserves. Which is a lot. It’s so good that she could be a perfumer in her own right, fame aside. She was heavily involved in the process from the first meeting with the Lancaster Group, to the final product, more so than any other celebrity behind a fragrance.

 What she has produced is comfortably good enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with the greats. This is a modern classic.

Having recently reviewed Lanvin Rumeur, I can notice similarities. It’s far from being a copy though, as Lovely is not as loud as Rumeur, and if it is ever compared to anything, it’s usually Narciso Rodriguez For Her. I haven’t smelled the latter so I can’t comment. To me though, it’s similar to and as good as Rumeur.

It’s initially a citrus floral, then very quickly a Rose Musk. It is sharp  and spicy without being harsh, and soft without being generic.

Prior to being asked to create a fragrance, SJP used to create her own unique scent from three different sources and mix them herself on her skin. One was an Egyptian oil, the other scent she mixed was a drugstore Musk (BonneBell), and the third was one of my favourites reviewed earlier in this blog: Comme Des Garcons Avignon.

Lovely has a touch of fresh spice, but not in a cumin sort of way, more in a sharp Patchouli sort of way. There is Lavender too, and Orchid, but the floral notes stop there. This is so much more than a Floral, and I love how such a spicy scent has tamed Patchouli into a wearable everyday scent will all traces of harshness gone.

You could wear this in a lift and nobody would pass out. She’s kept it classy and chic. It’s affordable too , but boy it doesn’t smell cheap!

It’s a great combination: tart and spicy yet smooth and floral. Although she worked alongside two established noses, SJP was credited as Creative Director, a rare move in this world of “Sniff’n’Sign”s.

Sadly I did not love her second fragrance Covet, nor Covet Pure Bloom. The Lovely Diffusion Range is another  way of owning affordable good quality fragrance.  I have reviewed Endless, and recently found Twilight to be a soft musk, akin to a watered down version of Obsession for Men. Dawn was gorgeously light and pretty: see my reviews on this blog.

Lovely is as lovely does. A perfect ten. This is money well spent.

 Image

Celeb Scents 7: David and Victoria Beckham (DVB) Signature

 Image

I couldn’t leave out the King and Queen of the Celebrity Universe, and neither could the Celebrity Fragrance Industry. Since 2005, the ultimate power couple have issued a total of 20 fragrances for her and for him, whilst artfully entangled in each other for the publicity campaigns.

I can’t say I am enticed by the publicity- there is something about a married couple getting passionate that makes me go terribly British and want to look away, whilst clearing my throat and announcing loudly that I’m putting the kettle on.  It’s a bit like they’re saying “Look at us” and “Do you mind? This is private!” at the same time.  I also question the wisdom of using the word “Intimately” in a Fragrance range when the word is usually meant euphemistically as a feminine hygiene wash.

In any case, these fragrances are everywhere and are both accessible and affordable. Purely in the interest of fragrance research you understand, I sampled DVB Signature today.

As you can imagine, I was expecting, yes you’ve guessed it, a fruity floral, or Death by Vanilla. Unsurprisingly, it does not smell expensive. Surprisingly, the brand has gone off the main road and off onto a hiking trail. Yes, I have found a celebrity brand that has used Anise and Heliotrope in a mainstream fragrance. Feel free to call me a snob, but I was not expecting that.

So what I found on my wrist and clothes today was: Anise, Apple, White Flowers,  and Musk. The actual notes as listed by Fragrantica are: Anise, Apple, Orchid, Heliotrope, Vanilla, Patchouli and Musk.

The dry down is slightly more powdery and the whisper of Heliotrope finally emerges when all the fuss has died down. Heliotrope is serious and doesn’t show up just anywhere. What I’m left with is an unusual Oriental Lite. It’s soft and very feminine, although the Anise can be interpreted as a masculine note. In fact, the Anise just reminded me of a very watered down LouLou so I rather liked that addition.

This bottle was 9.99 for 30ml  from my local High Street. It’s available everywhere and not usually more than around £14 for a large 75ml bottle. I like it enough to keep it and use up the whole bottle, but I’m not sure I’d buy a second bottle. It’s different and pleasant and-how can I say this? It’s a Purple Musk, if that makes sense: sweet and light and vaguely Oriental with a musky dry down.  Actually I found it smells amazing on my clothes- much better than on my skin.

The only thing that chokes me about this is the fact that I lined the diamond encrusted Beckham pockets even more by buying this today. But to be fair, they didn’t just paint by numbers here.

(Incidentally, does anyone else think that Death by Vanilla would make a great name for a niche perfume, or is it just me?)

Celeb Scents 6: Kylie Minogue Couture

 Image

Kylie’s been in the perfume game since 2006 with her first offering “Darling” being a Chypre Floriental.  Since then she has produced ten more and sales show no signs of slowing down. Kylie Minogue Darling is highly rated so I had high hopes for Couture.

Now I like Kylie, and her strange pointy eyebrow. She’s a woman’s woman and always cheerful, and sometimes that’s enough to make me like someone (are you listening Posh Spice?). I finally got round to investigating the Kylie phenomenon by purchasing a bottle of Kylie Minogue Couture. With its hint of corsetry and its aspirational name, I thought I was onto a winner.

Sadly not.

The top notes in Couture are Cherries, Violets and Lemon Blossom. However, what I had was Violets, something vaguely Aquatic and a bit of Jasmine (listed as a middle note). Within the first half an hour I got quite excited by this, despite acknowledging that “generic” was very much the state of play. I thought it was a light and airy floral and was so affordable that I thought I’d found a new favourite for daytime casual wear.

However, a problem occurred that I have experienced before with cheaply produced scents. A very synthetic and thin Vanilla note crept in and cancelled out everything else. Vanilla and “Musk Stripes” are listed as base notes, but the Vanilla was cheap and smelt like my old enemy, Poundland Vanilla candles.   I don’t know what Musk Stripes are (they are described as giving a cashmere effect), but maybe it is another way of saying “Well it’s not actual Musk but we found something thinner and cheaper but we’re not allowed to call it Musk”. In any case, I haven’t seen it listed anywhere else. This is mixed with “Vanilla Sorbet” in other swords sweet, synthetic cheap Vanilla that I couldn’t wait to wash off.

Now although this review is subjective, I have noticed on allbeauty.com that it is cheaper to buy 75ml of the EDT than it is to buy 30ml. There is also a lot for sale on eBay. Make of that what you will, but I felt let down and couldn’t sell it fast enough! Without eBay I’d have a really terrible perfume collection.

Sorry Kylie, this was more Poundland than Couture.

Footnote: I have just tried Sexy Darling and I am impressed! I guess I would be wrong in writing off the whole range based on one review. SD is a bright expensive smelling musky floral. MUCH better than its lightweight sister Couture.

 

Image