Until this week, I had never tried any fragrance from Abercrombie and Fitch. In fact, I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t even know they did any. I guess I’m not their targeted market, being a 47 year old with a serious charity shop habit. No matter. With perfume, age means nothing, and it will ALWAYS fit, even after Christmas.
On my skin, First Instinct For Her opens with magnolia and orchids. Now, I always have a problem with orchid. No matter who makes the fragrance, orchid always smells like plastic to me. Unfortunately, the case is no different here. However, the magnolia rallies and a touch of grapefruit lifts it a bit higher. The passion fruit adds a faint hint of tropical taste, a bit like Lilt, and the orange flower comes in to give this a heady white flower blanket that complements the magnolia and makes it even richer. The base is warmed with some cosy sweet tonka and amber.
Unfortunately, the overall impression this gave me was white flowers, vanilla and orchid. It reminded me of so many other fragrances that I just couldn’t get excited about it. However, another way of saying it is that it’s right on trend at the moment and there is clearly an appetite for fragrance of this genre.
I’ve been circling this one for a while and wondering how to review it. It sort of does and doesn’t fit into a neat category. It’s sort of a fruity floral and a spicy woody scent. It’s sort of provocative but you could wear it to work without inadvertently turning anyone on. In other words, it has cast its net very wide.
Created in 2004, the Elizabeth Arden Provocative Woman campaign was fronted by my fellow Welshwoman Catherine Zeta Jones. We also happen to be the same age, but the similarity ends there. We won’t get confused as twins anytime soon.
Provocative Woman opens with quince, raspberry, peach, ginger and lotus. The middle notes are apricot, freesia, papaya and orchid. The basenotes are hinoki wood, amber, red amber, sandalwood and cedar.
So you can see my problem. All the fruit from the fruit salad is in here, but with added spice and heat from the ginger and a warm woody finish. It’s hard to pick out the individual notes. It’s sort of a fruit Pimms accord with a touch of chai tea . There’s a lovely clean whiff of freshly washed hair in among the jelly but the flowers struggle to come to the fore.
All in all, I can’t help liking this crowd pleasing effort, even if it is a little bit of a mish mash. I didn’t used to be a fan of fruity florals but I smelled so many different ones that I was won over, and this one has won me over too.
I think the youth market is missing a trick with this fruity number and may well rule it out as being a “Mum” perfume. In fact, the fruitiness is fun and light and even playful. The woods don’t get too dark or deep and the faint, faint flowers offer a little flourish of girliness. I wouldn’t call this provocative, but it’s certainly womanly. It’s also a massive bargain. My bottle is a 30ml EDP and lasting power is not bad at around four hours.
Elizabeth Arden Provocative Woman is widley available. Try Amazon UK and Half Price Perfumes to name but two. Opinions are my own, as is this bottle.
Ironically, I have in the past complemented two strangers on smelling fabulous, only to find out it was YSL Black Opium. I guess, like stilettoes, it’s good on other people but not for me.
Recently I came across the latest Black Opium flanker, Floral Shock. Anything with Shock in the title is always worth a punt and I tried two squirts on skin, one on sleeve and one on a blotter. Reader, if I told you that the blotter is still going strong after a week, would you believe me? It is true. This stuff has nuclear longevity, which makes it a curse or a blessing depending on your preference.
Personally, I could define very few differences between Floral Shock and Black Opium. The opening of Floral Shock is lighter than the opening of Black Opium and has more florals, as the name would suggest. Both open with pear and vanilla and sweet syrupy fruit, at least to my nose. Both have strong coffee notes and thick vanilla. In fact, the main difference between Black Opium and Black Opium Floral Shock is that the top notes of Floral Shock are slightly more floral. The flowers do a little shimmy number, and then Floral Shock turns back into Black Opium again.
Apparently, Floral Shock has no patchouli in it, but I discerned plenty, or maybe I was getting confused because Black Opium has it and this is very similar. What I know for sure is that if you already own a bottle of Black Opium then you probably don’t need this one too. There’s not much to play for. In a fight it would be a draw.
This review is, of course, just my opinion and not gospel. You may be one of the strangers I stopped and said “Sorry to bother you, but you smell amazing. What is it please?” If you do wear this, you probably smell great, but trust me, on my skin this was red syrupy fruit, pears, coffee, vanilla and a little touch of migraine.
Fans of YSL Mon Paris and Dior Poison Girl may well enjoy this too.
Stockists: I found this in House of Fraser. You can also buy it from The Fragrance Shop UK among other places.
How About You?
Have you tried Black Opium or Black Opium Floral Shock? or are you a fan of the original? Or even the original original? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
I was given a bottle of this at the recent Fragrance Foundation Awards, and I’m glad I was because the packaging and general image wouldn’t have otherwise tempted me. However, a good sniff of Babe Power converted this curmudgeon into a surprise fan.
Babe Power is the first fragrance from fashion label missguided. It’s a hot on trend label for hot on trend people and this fragrance is no exception. It steps out of class and sticks two fingers up at boring old glass perfume bottles and comes in a tin can that looks and feels exactly like a can of energy drink.
I did the sniff test on my family and gleaned the following verdicts: “bubble gum” “Haribo” and the rather unimaginative response: “perfume.”
The very first thing I got from Babe Power was sour cherries. Don’t be put off by the “sour” bit. This is a sharp cherry scent, unlike a sweet sickly “normal” cherry scent. The vanilla is almost indistinguishable from the cherry note as they are so co-dependent and entwined. In fact, just for fun, there’s also apple, pineapple, grapefruit and candy floss in here. The ingredients remind me of a very colourful beach hut style kiosk. There’s flowers too: very girly ones- jasmine, peony and orange flower. The jasmine and peony just peek through, but frankly the big bright fruity notes are partying too loud to answer the door.
This may sound like a mish mash, but actually it really, really works. I love the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously whilst getting the balance right. The sour cherries had me at hello, and the slightly play doh vanilla makes me love it even more.
I would like to predict that this will be a big success, but before I could even review this, it has become a huge bestseller in The Fragrance Shop. I wouldn’t sound very mystic and prophetic when this is already flying off the shelves so fast that passers-by have to duck.
Bravo missguided. Encore!
Missguided Babe Power is available from The Fragrance Shop for 27.50 for 80ml EDP. Opinions are my own.
It’s hot in the UK today and we’re totally unprepared. After wearing three layers to bed and three layers and a coat to do the school run, I found myself struggling to find summer clothes in the sudden mini heatwave that hit us.
Although Wales, where I live, is my favourite place ever, there are certain weather anomalies that one must learn to endure. You can have rain all summer anda singular freak hot day in October, or a nine-month winter and a heatwave nobody’s ready for, which I think is what’s happening now.
A nice cold, ice cold fragrance feels like an essential rather than a luxury today so I thought I’d tell you a few of my Go-To scents on this sticky summer day.
When the weather’s hot, I want eau do cologne. This is not just because the high alcohol content cools down skin on contact but because the classic ingredients of herbs and citrus remain to this day the most refreshing combination you can get. Most of the bottles I reach for have cologne elements in them.
Niobe from Cologne and Cotton
On my dressing table is a large glass bottle of Niobe from Cologne and Cotton. It has the herbs and the citrus and surprisingly in a cologne, even good longevity. I have decanted it into a mini travalo for when out and about and I always get compliments.
Le Jardin Retrouve Citron Boboli: It was a photo finish between Citron Boboli and Verveine d’Ete. Both are perfect for hot weather and the citrus will really put a zing in your step and take away the hot fussies. You can read my review here.
Avon Little Black Dress Eau Fraiche: This one is going down fast. Lighter than the original, but still recognisably its flanker, this pale green bottle isn’t always available, so when it is, do grab it. My bottle was a fiver from the Avon brochure a few months back. I reviewed it here.
4160 Tuesdays Doe in the Snow: I adore this fresh peachy chypre and have a little travel bottle. In case you were wondering why I never reviewed it, it’s because I cannot match or surpass this description “citrus fruits, flowers and woods, stirred with an icicle.” That’s exactly what it smells like and it is beautiful. EDIT- I have since reviewed this and you can read my verdict here.
Avon Scent Essences Sparkly Citrus: I bought this for just £2.50 when it was on offer. It’s a 30ml eau de toilette that does what it says on the tin and smells a lot more expensive that the price I paid. In a similar vein, do try Crabtree and Evelyn West Indian Lime. I tried it in winter and it was good in cold weather, but it’s fantastic now.
Yardley English Lavender is always uplifting, but never more so than when you keep it in the fridge and squirt your hot cleavage with it. I’m hoping the words “hot cleavage” won’t direct the wrong sort of traffic to my site, but you never know, the hot cleavage seekers might learn something.
Over to you
What’s your favourite Cool Down scent in hot weather? Do you keep any in the fridge? Do let me know, I always love to hear from you.
You may have seen my recent post about celebrity perfumes in which I nailed my colours to the mast. I’m a fan. Celebrity fragrances are made by experts and priced to sell. What’s not to love?
Today I am reviewing my new bottle of Still by Jennifer Lopez. It was recommended to me by friend of the blog Rachael, who is a fan of Still and told me she would love to read a review. Like an olfactory DJ, I’m always happy to do requests. Rachael, this is for you.
Still opens with Earl Grey Tea and oranges, giving this a lovely fresh and clean opening straight away. My first thought is that this would make the perfect work scent. It’s light and clean and surely would offend nobody. The light opening pretty much stays put throughout, just gathering some lily of the valley, fressia and jasmine along the way. None of this becomes rich or cloying; the orangey citrus notes keep everything light and zingy.
The base is allegedly sandalwood, amber, musk and pepper, but this really doesn’t end up as rich and spicy as those notes might suggest. In fact, I would say some nice clean musks, like freshly shampooed hair, and the faintest tang of clean spices, like a chai tea for example.
All in all, my bottle of eau de parfum was jolly good value at just over £10 for 30ml from Amazon UK. This would make a great gift for a teen since it is no way provocative, but clean, light and pretty. Don’t worry if your teenage years are an embarrassing distant blur of cringiness- you can wear this even if you’re, ooh, I don’t know…47? (Ahem).
JLo Still is absolutely bang on the money for summer, for work or for a young perfume recipient. Or an attractive older woman. From Wales.
You can buy this from Amazon UK like I did. Opinions are my own and I bought this for myself.
The problem with celebrity fragrances is that they keep getting discontinued. Out of my favourites from just three years ago, around six are impossible to get now. The rumour on the grapevine is that celeb fragrances are on the way out, or at least on the way down, and I have mixed feelings about this. Firstly, if all celeb fragrances were of the fruity floral fruitichoulil smellalike genre that so many were, then fine. See ya. No problem here. However, celebrity fragrances are like jumble sales. It might look like a load of junk but when you rummage, you find gold and treasure.
The other great thing about celebrity fragrances is that they are not expensive. They’re competing with other celebrity fragrances which are also not expensive, so they can’t risk sky high prices. That’s not their demographic. Oh, and don’t forget that the celebrity doesn’t actually make them. Celeb fragrances are made by respected houses such as Givauden, Coty and Elizabeth Arden. I really can’t see Beyoncé in a lab coat with a pipette moaning about the price of orris butter, can you? Lovely mental image though.
I have found some absolute gems among celeb fragrances and I am genuinely sad not to be able to buy some of them anymore.
What follows below is an up-to-date, up-to-the minute round up of celebrity fragrances that you can definitely easily buy at the moment at the time of going to press, I promise. Some are old faithfuls that have been around a while, and show no signs of leaving, and some are new. All of them are jolly good, at least in my opinion.
Sarah Jessica Parker Stash SJP
This is my number one favourite. SJP is rare in that she is deeply involved in the scents she creates and her own tastes influence what she launches. In the case of Stash, I applaud her for taking a risk. This smoky sandalwood and incense treat was never going to be a mass market crowd pleaser, but critics and fumeheads love it, as do I. Here’s my review and here’s where you can buy it.
Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely
I wear this regularly and now that my 100ml bottle is going down, I’m looking to replace it. It suits just about everyone and to me, it has a wonderful 50s retro feel. You can read my review here. Many compare it to Narciso Rodriguez For Her. You can buy Lovely in many places at varying prices. I bought mine from here.
A wonderfully clean scent that reminds me of freshly washed hair and clean laundry. It lasts for ages too. Launched in 2002, this shows no sign of going anyway and has become a classic for good reason. You can buy it here.
Britney Spears Curious
This was launched way back in ’04, which is a long time ago in the perfume universe.. I complimented a friend on this and asked her what she was wearing- I was surprised when I found out it was Britney Curious as I’d written it off. Its use of magnolia and pear sets it apart from the usual pink sugary fruity florals and it has a lovely light feel to it with no stickiness. Extra points for the beautiful blue glass bottle, and if you can get one with the puffy squeezy atomiser, even better. You can buy it here.
Rogue made an impact on me because it didn’t go in the obvious direction that it could have. I t could have gone all pink pepper and red berries and vanilla, but it didn’t. In fact, it reminded me of Serge Lutens Daim Blond, which is all about the unusual but genius combination of suede and apricots. Here’s my review of Rogue and here’s where you can buy it.
Rihanna Reb’l Fleur
I have a full 100ml bottle of this. I wouldn’t normally have thought of buying it, but my dear brother picked it out for me himself for my birthday. I was so touched. I hardly ever get perfume as a gift (violins!) and I was delighted to get this whopper. Reb’l Fleur is a heavy hitting, patchouli rich fruity floral with a hit of coconut and vanilla. Sillage is massive and longevity huge. Two sprays in the morning and you’ll be sorted till tea time. You can buy it here.
Celine Dion Sensational
By a happy turn of fate, I stumbled across this in my local Lloyds Pharmacy when I was picking up my husband’s prescription. There was a tester at the till and it was on special offer at 9.99. I didn’t buy it that day, and when I went back, it was gone. However, I fell in love with it. It lasted at least seven hours and was a delicious melange of pear, plum, freesia, lily of the valley and violet. It opens like a juicy tropical fruit scent and segues into a stunning musky floral. The nose behind it is the legendary Maurice Roucel. This one is at the top of my Wanted list. You can buy it here.
Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds
This opens like an aldehyde and ends like a chypre. Full of old school Hollywood glamour, this is bursting with all the rich white flowers: tuberose, jasmine, neroli. It’s not really one for the young palate of today, but as a fan of classic chypres and big eighties sillage, this is right up my street. It’s cheap as chips and widely available. Round of applause for the diamante choker round its neck. You can buy it here.
9. Adam Levine For Her
This is a real gem that often goes under the radar. Lisa Jones let me borrow her bottle and I was very impressed. This comes in a smart white box in a bottle that’s shaped like a microphone. This is a woody, slightly spicy scent with a long, langorous sandalwood base. It is so cheap I was suspicious, but I can vouch for its fabulousness. Plus you know, Adam Levine. Cor. You can read my review here and buy it from here for less than ten quid. Oh, and it’s totally unisex, so ignore the “For Her” label.
Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights
This has featured on my previous best celeb scents list and it qualifies for this one because it is still available and still cheap. It has patchouli, papyrus and amber, and many say that it is a dead ringer for Prada Amber ( and it is!). Still available on Amazon for under £20 for a big bottle. Here’s my review.
The ones I miss
The following celeb fragrances are either available but three times the price they were, or impossible to find. Reader, I mourn them: JLo Deseo, Hilary Duff with Love, Sarah Jessica Parker The Lovely Collection- Dawn, Endless and Twilight, Queen by Queen Latifah, Manifesto by Isabella Rossellini.
The ones I want to try
Antonio Banderas’s vast range (he has been launching scent since 1997), Drew Barrymore’s new ones, Joan Collins’ new ones for Marks and Spencer, Sofia by Sofia Vergara and Elizabeth Taylor Gardenia and Passion, which I still haven’t tried.
How about you?
What celebrity fragrances do you like to wear? Which ones do you miss? Which do you want to try? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
My Avon obsession tightens its grip. I am helpless to resist and at seven quid a bottle, I don’t want to.
Avon Rare Pearls is my latest purchase. I bought it after reading the notes that were in it, and sniffing the Avon brochure scratch’n’sniff page,- so not much to go on. However, this distinctive daywear is worth a punt and I’m jolly glad I have a bottle.
The bottle itself has an opaque pearl coloured glass body and an angular top that looks like glass but is plastic. It goes happily alongside my cherished bottle of tuberose heavy Avon Rare Platinum.
So what does it smell like?
Well, it opens with green notes and florals straight away. There’s a kind of mustiness that I rather like. It’s similar to the scent of a bouquet just before it goes past its best before date: you know, floral, vegetal and overly rich just before the flowers conk out and die.
Actually the notes are rosewood, honey, plum and pepper, with magnolia diving in before they’ve quite finished their number. It’s the honey that made me think of flowers just before they go off. It’s actually a lovely smell that can fill a room.
The middle is all about the magnolia: a big, clean, white, flower. It’s creamy and soapy without going into heady tuberose territory-which is no bad thing in my book but it’s not everybody’s cup of tea.
The base is musk, patchouli and sandalwood, but really that just provides a milky, musky backdrop for more magnolia. This is a green, soapy, floral musk. What I smell doesn’t really match the notes: It’s nicer than I thought and has a pleasant fuzziness like a cosy blanket. This is perfect for work and should pass the commuter test too. I’m ever so fond of my seven-quid bargain!
I bought my 50ml bottle of Avon Rare Pearls EDP from my lovely Avon Lady Jill. It’s also available online. The price I quote was correct at the time of publishing and may vary, but there are usually special offers on. Opinions are my own.
Today, in my local House of Fraser fragrance department (they really should name it after me by now), my eye was attracted to a bottle of coral pink juice. Thinking it was some sort of playful fruity floral for “The Youth”, I almost didn’t stop, but then I saw it was a bottle of Elie Saab Le Parfum Resort Collection. Well, I had to stop and drench myself in it, didn’t I?
The intersteing thing about flankers is that some flankers do not resemble the original in the slightest ( Dior Poison -vs-Dior Poison Girl, anyone?) and some smell like the original, but with a different top note. This one falls into the latter category.
The opening notes are full of tropical fruit and flowers. It’s playful and summery and rather lovely. There’s mandarin, frangipani and fruity pink pomegranate. It would please the youngsters as well as the picky fortysomethings (who, me?). However, the top phase lasts about an hour, and then it’s Elie Saab Le Parfum again. That is to say, the fruit disappears and it’s all about the white flowers and the patchouli. Now, if you like Elie Saab Le Parfum, this won’t be a problem for you, but if you don’t, it might be.
I rather like it, but I wouldn’t see a need a to own both, due to the similarities. I’ll leave you to decide about that one. The juice is REALLY coral pink, though.- very cute!
How about you?
What’s your take on flankers? Do you like it to resemble the original or be completely different? Or do you just follow your nose? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
Being obsessed with both cats (I’ve got three) and fragrances (I got eleventy hundred), I was delighted to receive a bottle of Kitten Fur fragrance from my good friends at The Library of Fragrance.
Now, I always go a bit clucky when I talk about my boys as kittens, but I distinctly remember the kitty smell of them when they gingerly emerged from the cat box for the first time. I couldn’t wait to cuddle them but when I buried my nose in their fur, I couldn’t help wishing that I hadn’t. There was a whiff of cat pee, kitten bums and dribble. Don’t panic, reader, I can assure you that Library of Fragrance Kitten Fur has none of this.
As cats gradually gorw out of kittenhood, their cleaning gets more fastidious. Ask my sleek black 9 year old, Ruby, who cleans herself up to 57 times a day. The scent of her is more subtle now, but in a dark room I could pick my black cat out just by sniffage, and it is now that we are more in Library of Fragrance Kitten Fur territory.
My nose tells me that this has tonka bean in it. A light combo of vanilla and almond, this is much more like the cuddly, comforting scent of a cat. In fact, I often think my cats’ fur smells faintly of plain biscuits, and this is captured perfectly.
There are also musks in here, but not the animalic civetty musk that smells “dirty good”, it’s more like a clean but nevertheless distinct musk. The overall feel is one of a cwtch in a bottle. Cwtch means “to comfort” in Welsh and it’s more of an uninhibited wrapping round of arms than a polite hug.
Kitten Fur is like a warm, fluffy gourmand scent that purrs. It made me feel very soppy indeed. Spray liberally, and….rest.
Watch this space for a Kitten Fur giveaway!
Library of Fragrance Kitten Fur is available from The Library of Fragrance website. My bottle was sent to me by The Library of Fragrance, for which, warm thanks. Opinions are my own.