Category Archives: perfume

Christian La Croix C’est La Fete Patchouli: A Rough Diamond In The Earth

Image

 Christian La Croix C’’est La Fete Patchouli  is a drag to type and a bit of a mouthful to say.

Mmm, you smell nice, what is it?”

“Oh, do you like it? It’s Christian La Croix C’est La Fete Patchouli. Don’t make me write it down.”

 C’est La Fete has been reviewed earlier in my blog and was a very acceptable scent not dissimilar to the delightful Rochas TocadeC’est La Fete Patchouli smells nothing like either, but is not too bad in its own right.

Although Patchouli is only listed as a base note, it’s practically the only note, but for a Patchouli fan like moi, this is no bad thing. This is rough, cheap smelling Patchouli, like the tiny unctuous bottles you would get from a market stall.  I don’t mind though, I take my Patchouli where I can get it. There are also elements of Elemi resin, a tree resin often used in bronchitis remedies, which may explain the slight cough mixture background to this.

No matter, I like it.  However, if you had just finished sniffing Serge Lutens Borneo 1834, you would hate this by comparison. If you had never smelled Borneo, you might think this isn’t too bad.

You will note that I am not raving about CLCLFP, to give it its keyboard friendly acronym, but this is because I think it could have been done better. It’s as if the rough edges haven’t been sanded down. Don’t get me wrong, I’m kinky for a cough syrup note and some nose tingling Patchouli, but even though there is a time and a place for such a scent, they could possibly have fine tuned it a little better.

This would be excellent on either a man or a woman, or even dabbed on the collar of a winter coat for a little warmth on a cold day.

 

Footnote: Both full bottles and samples are currently available on Amazon.

Tauer No 9 Orange Star: An Orange Sun, an Amber Sunset.

Image

It always takes me a while to write a Tauer review because I like to do them justice. I like to get it right when I explain them (this feeling is not exclusive to Tauer scents, I hope  my descriptions are always frank and candid).

I can think of few people who are doing what Andy Tauer does. He creates the fragrances, fills the bottles, packs them, fills in the customs forms and updates the blog and the ImageFacebook page. No committees, no board rooms, no focus groups, no men in suits looking at trends and sales figures, just Andy being creative and hoping we like it too.

Orange Star is the 9th composition in the Tauer Classics Range and it appeals to me  as a fan of bitter orange in fragrance. It has some similarities to a scent I have here at home: Jesus Del Pozo Ambar, which is also a bitter Orange/Vanilla composition, but without the clarity of ingredients nor the originality of Orange Star (nor the  longevity, more of which anon).

 Orange Star’s gift is that it makes Orange into something unexpected.  Whereas a citrus is usually a citrus, sharp, bright and effervescent, in Orange Star, the orange becomes a glowing Amber background under which the Ambergris and Lemon Grass come out to play. It’s as if the Warm spicy orange is the sunset presiding over the other ingredients.

It seems appropriate that I am reviewing this today on the 1st of September as it is so autumnal with its warmth and heat, yet retains the Orange Blossom note like a memory of summer. Orange Star opens and ends with orange- a warm, enveloping orange, like a velvet backcloth: a refreshing change from cologne style sharpness. No less than fourteen hours later, the orange is still there, like a background curtain, letting the Ambergris and Vanilla have the stage, but never letting them forget who put them there.

A word about price.  Tauers don’t come cheap. One of my favourites, Carillon Pour Un Ange, is £99 a bottle. However, if like me, you have a wide selection of samples, decants and bottles, then a single bottle of perfume will last you a long time. Secondly, I can think of several High Street mainstream fragrances that need frequent topping up throughout the day and which only last a few hours.  Three single sprays of Orange Star in the morning keep me going for an impressive fourteen hours and blow me down if my pillow doesn’t smell nice the next day. You also have the added bonus of it being unlikely that the person next to you on the train will smell the same. How many times have I smelled Angel in the last week?

My little tin of Tauers comes everywhere with me, but I only pull them out of the bag when I need that boost.  I wear them when I want to feel Queenly.  I wear them when I have to do something I’ve been dreading (Legoland) and I wear them when I’m just sitting at home sniffing my arm and staring into space.

I would like to thank Andy Tauer for providing me with a selection of samples.  I am under no obligation at all to like them, and I would say so if I didn’t, but I do.  Gosh I really do.

Dita Von Teese: Dita Von Teese for Women: Classy and Elegant

 805015

Considering that Dita Von Teese For Women EDP is less than 20GBP a bottle, it’s not half bad. It certainly doesn’t smell as cheap as it is, despite the fact that the actual fragrance must have been produced cheaply once mark ups and overheads are taken into account.

Dita Von Teese is one of today’s classier stars. I’d rather see ladylike Dita’s spangly tassels than a barely dressed starlet on the red carpet letting it all hang out. Slim yet voluptuous, classic and elegant, Dita will never go out of style.

Image
newindianexpress.com

Dita Von Teese for Women smells delightfully feminine, with a retro vibe about it that defies today’s sweet fruity candy floss efforts and Baby Angel derivatives. It is definitely for evening wear, or more specifically, date wear.  It opens, unusually, with Bergamot, which is a brave choice considering it ends in smoky Guaic woods, Patchouli and Musk. Through it all comes the heady Tiare flower, a creamy white flower, less intense than tuberose but no less pretty.  Somehow it works. The Bergamot and floral opening gives a grown up and prim impression that leads into something more seductive as the evening wears on. By the end of the evening you’ll be unfastening your pearls for sure.

I cannot review this perfume without mentioning the stunning bottle. Black and fluted, it has an unmistakeable vintage vibe, and its black tassel is a cute little quirk. This is what I was hoping Kylie Minogue Couture was going to smell like, except that it let me down with a cheap and empty smelling faux vanilla base note. Not so Dita Von Teese, with its classy basenotes ending the show with a smoky trail of spiced Musk in its wake.

Poor Dita is in the unenviable position of having her fragrance reviewed the very day after I have reviewed the masterpiece that is Un Jardin en Mediterranee. However, I have also had to clean up after a small boy and a wayward kitten today, so it’s all about balance.

 Dita Von Teese for Women probably won’t be a favourite Must Buy, but I admire and like it, and the little handbag bottle is just adorable.

Bravo Dita.

Hermes: Un Jardin En Mediterranee by Jean Claude Ellena.

Image

 Some fragrance is so good that if you did not know the name of it and  a stranger walked by wearing it, you would follow the stranger home until they surrendered the name of the beautiful aura that surrounds them.

I would follow a stranger home like a stray dog for  Hermes Un Jardin en Mediterranee.  How nice, that just a week after I wrote my Dear John letter to Iris that I should meet and fall in love with Fig within a day. Fickle? Oh yes. Like a widow on the make at a wake.

I love fig. I’ve never tried it before it (I know, shocking), but now I want to try EVERYTHING fig.

hermesunjardinenmediterranee

Un Jardin opens with a quick and dirty boozy waft, almost like Rum and Raisin. Then when that burns off, you are left with a citrussy green aroma that is as pretty as the scent of a passion fruit, yet without any sickliness. In fact passion fruit is the nearest thing I could think of to describe fig. The perfumed aroma of a passion fruit, just opened, is a masterpiece of nature.  It is aromatic and natural and well, it smells like perfume. And so it is with fig. Both green and milky at the same time, this reminds me both of fresh dates and clean, leafy notes simultaneously.

This is a grown up’s perfume- I’d be surprised ( and delighted) if I smelled this on anyone under 25. There are similarities between this and Kelly Caleche, also by Jean Claude Ellena, in that there is a green “polished leather” note surrounded by petals that is common to both.

It has curious notes which make a refreshing change from the usual: Pistachio and Oleander, and Red Cedar and Cypress. Yet if I had to describe this without looking at notes, I would have said that this is Kelly Caleche with a punchy, rich middle, like drops of amber that melt on the tongue.

unjardinThis is the kind of fragrant moment that stops me in my tracks. From a casual “can I try this?” to a glazed eye robotic “I Must Buy. I Must Buy”, Un Jardin en Mediterranee had me entranced.  For a perfume blogger, I don’t have many full sized bottles. Only a few have caused me to fall in love quickly and have given me the Must Have feeling: Eau de Cartier, Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely, and Balmain Jolie Madame are good examples. Un Jardin is now another.

Jean Claude Ellena has mixed it seamlessly, with his trademark watercolour style, making the aroma a perfect dream of a light summer fig through smoked glass.

Hermes Un Jardin en Mediterranee  is Sheer Heaven. Nose glued to wrist. I feel sorry for whatever I review next since it will have a lot to live up to.

PS My seven year old son adores this and calls it awesome. He’s got taste, like his mother.

Follow

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

Image

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.

Image
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

Image

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

images (5)

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.

images (4)

A Trio of Worth: Sans Adieu

Image

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)

Image
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.

Image

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.