Category Archives: perfume

Fleur D’Iris Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier: We Need To Talk About Iris

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I’ve had a problem with Iris for quite some time now. We simply can’t agree with one another. I like her pretty sister Violet, and even her melancholy friend Heliotrope, but Iris and I just can’t see eye to stamen.  I love the flower, and Heck, my dear late grandmother was called Iris and had I had a daughter, it would have been her middle name. But I still can’t get on with Iris.

Several kind parfumistas have made go back in the room and play nice until Iris and I can be friends, but  I guess we’re just not to be. I’ve tried, Lord knows I’ve tried, but we’re just not compatible.

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rhs.org.uk

Today I wore Fleur D’Iris by Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier. The bottle is lofty and regal in appearance, and is on kind loan from Lisa Wordbird,  a fellow blogger who is great friends with Iris. I thought if  I’m going to give Iris a chance, I’d better go for quality. Sadly, I could only manage half a day with this.

Fleur D’Iris is indeed floral as the name suggests, but floral in a fuzzy suffocating way, like being smothered to death by baby blankets, or having a close, stuffy smell infiltrating ears, nose and mouth. It’s claustrophobic, like a stifling car with no open windows and no air con. Then there are the carrots. Carrots, both raw and cooked, strong as you like, yet inescapable. Then there is the earthy rootiness, like a freshly dug bulb. And finally, the kind of distant sweetness you can find if you sniff a dried up crispy babywipe.

There are several notes in Fleur D’Iris, including Green notes, Rose, Musk and  Vetiver. However, once I noticed Iris in this, it dominated completely.  If you like Iris, this is a quality scent with  outstanding longevity. The longevity is ironic.  I find anything I dislike stays around for hours like an uninvited Dr Seuss character.  Fleur D’Iris?  No less than fourteen hours and I can still smell it.  Just my luck.

I gave it my best shot guys. I know I sound like a Sommelier that doesn’t like red wine, but as much as I love perfume, I cannot love Iris. Don’t leave me.  Think of my good points! I can be fun, playful, witty…don’t go!

A Trio of Worth: Je Reviens

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It was suggested to me , by the Perfumed Dandy no less, that when shopping for Je Reviens, I should look out for the Couture version (2005).  Just as I was searching for it (online of course, it’s not in any High Street near me), my head was turned by a tempting trio and I committed a blind buy sale before you could say Amazon dot co dot UK.

Created  by Maurice Blanchet in 1932, this pre war classic has not aged well I fear.  Where is the  Lilac? the Jasmine? the Hyacinth? the Violet?  the Rose? I certainly had plenty of aldehydes, but not in a  good way.  This was high pitched and cheap smelling. Where did it all go wrong?

ImageI have two theories. Firstly, Je Reviens is an aldehyde meaning that many of its notes are also used in soap and detergent. This is no bad thing- look at the marvellous First by Van Cleef and Arpels– a soapy and heavenly scent that I cannot find fault with.

However in 1932 when Je Reviens was created, soaps and detergents were more basic and Je Reviens would have smelled sophisticated and different to the discerning  scent buyer of the Thirties.  Indeed, it began as a luxury product before it became a mainstream inexpensive classic. Therefore to my spoilt Twenty First century nose, used to Ambi Pur, Cistern blocks and Toilet Duck,  Je Reviens sadly has too much in common with them.

My second theory is that the formula for Je Reviens has been changed so much that it is barely a shadow of its former self.  A few IFRA tweaks are to be expected these days,  usually with stoicism, but Je Reviens has been super morphed into something different.  It would be like making Grandma’s fruit cake but leaving out the fruit. And the nuts. And the ImageCherries. And the butter. And the eggs. In fact, you’d just have flour and sugar, but could you still call it Grandma’s fruit cake?  The House of Worth closed in 1956, was bought by the Maurice Blanchet Society and then sold again in 1992.  It’s changed hands, formulae, and probably budgets too.

It smells very similar to Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass, of which I am fond. However this is like Blue Grass that has been kept in a tropiquarium under hot lights and has gone shrill and bitter, like an unemployed diva.  I can  pick out spicy geranium and carnation and the aldehydes (in spades) but there is a  twang of Bloo cistern blocks about it, which could explain why its lost in translation. I bet if my modern nose hadn’t been so desensitised to aldehyde and cleaning products, I would probably like this more.

I won’t give up straight away. It took me a few goes to appreciate Guerlain Apres L’Ondee and Mitsouko after all. I would still try the Couture version, which I understand is nearer the original vintage formulation. However when Je Reviens wears off (it doesn’t take long), I get excited about choosing something else to wear instead.  Never a good sign.

A Trio of Worth: Miss Worth

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Like Miss Balmain and Miss Dior, Miss Worth has a certain ring to it. It evokes images of a single gal about town, all independence and confidence and style.  Launched much later than its cohorts, Miss Worth was created in 1977. The bottle I have in front of me is very a la mode for that era. A chunky bottle and a plastic lid.

Miss Worth has 30 notes, and although I recoiled when I saw the dreaded Peach, I calmed down when I realised there is no Peach in this (it’s listed but I could not detect it).  In fact my very first off the cuff, unedited impression of this was “ budget Amarige”.  If you reformulated Amarige ten times, reducing the budget on each occasion, this is what you get. There is Jasmine and Tuberose, just like Amarige. There is Ylang and Orange Blossom, and a woody base, just like Amarige. However, there is also a shrillness and a lack of longevity, unlike Amarige. It’s not bad, but since I own Amarige, it cannot  quite compare.  It’s like fake pearls next to the real thing.  They both look classy until the paint peels off the  imposter.

Where Amarige stays nuclear for hours, Miss Worth throws in the towel within the hour and goes home, knowing her richer sister will get the guy.

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A Trio of Worth: Sans Adieu

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Worth Sans Adieu was created in 1929 and is elusive these days, leading me to conclude that it has been discontinued, although it is not clearly stated anywhere and I was able to find a bottle on Amazon (in a  rather lovely trio, see previous photo)

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photo by crystal classics

Sans Adieu comes in a retro style basic looking 70s bottle, a far cry from the original Lalique packaging of its 20s debut (see left).

Sans Adieu amazes me with its modernity. In a blind test, I would have sworn this was a more recent 1990s creation since it is in fact a classic, text book calone scent. Yes, we have a synthetic melon scent, so typical of the Issey Miyake/ Aqua di Gio era of the early 90s. But the surprise is that this was made in 1929. Sans Adieu is a modern girl wearing jeans before denim was even invented.

Sadly, calone leaves me cold, and there is not much more to this note wise, that can get me past this enormous hurdle. I can’t help but try and imagine a woman in the 1920s trying on a perfume that for its time, was way out of synch, although the bottle was divine.

As a perfume, it’s a very interesting anecdote to a fan nosing into the fragrance history archives. Sadly, the melon is a deal breaker for me, but if you know anyone who likes calone, point them in the direction of Sans Adieu. It’s not for me, but I find it fascinatingly anachronistic.

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A Trio of Worth Fragrances

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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.

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Miller Harris L’Air de Rien: Dirty and Wonderful

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Stockists

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

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

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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).

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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!

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Miller Harris Noix de Tubereuse: A Cluedo Mystery Beckons

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 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.

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

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 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.

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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.