Category Archives: retro perfume

Guy Laroche Fidji: Be Strong for Me

fidji bottle big

Guy Laroche Fidji has been around longer than me. Like my husband, it is 51, and like him, it still smells great.

I first owned Fidji many moons ago, back in 1987 when I was dipping my toe in perfumed waters for the first time.  I could have gone down the Fidji route, but once my head was turned by Cacharel LouLou in 1987, there was no going back.

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A recent enquiry from reader Cassieflower (see my response here)  had me thinking about Fidji again.  I’ve been trying it at every opportunity and I can only find one single fault with it- the eau de parfum is nowhere to be seen. A giant bottle of eau de toilette is therefore in order for regular top ups. Apart from that, it’s perfect.

Fidji smells classic, like a mossy traditional scent.  However, it opens more like Estee Lauder White Linen. In fact, when Cassieflower asked me what smells like Fidji, I think I should have said White Linen, because it’s a close-ish match.

Fidji has huge greenery in the opening, fidji parfumand that oakmoss comes out straight away. It has a powdery mustiness that you often find in aldehydes, and its framed with bright, feel good lemon and lime.  Its fair to say tha the opening  is dominated by green and bitter galbanum. Now, I like galbanum but its not everyone’s cup of tea. If you like Chanel Cristalle,  Givenchy Ysatis or Lancome Magie Noire, then you might already be a galbanum fan.  I’m a card-carrying fan club member myself so Fidji suits me down ot the ground.

fidji beachAfter the citrussy and bright opening come the flowers: my favourites too. Hyacinths, violets, roses and jasmine emerge like a spring day. This gives Fidji a wonderfully old fashioned feel to my nose-  soemthing I miss in the sea of modern stuff of late.

The flowers are long lasting and they pretty much stick around until bedtime. With an oakmoss and vetiver base rounding off my beloved green notes and cherished hyacinth and violets, this might just be top of the Christmas list this year.  I saw a big 100ml bottle on sale today in my local House of Fraser for £37.  I sprayed it on ( a LOT) at around 9.30am this morning and I’m still getting little wafts of sweet floral notes,: that is to say, sweet like a garden flower, not sweet like sugar. I should imagine this beauty doesn’t have the teeth of its earlier 1966 incarnation, but I’m glad to see it’s still around and still smelling fabulous.  Like I do when I wear it and like you will when you try it.

Stockists

fidji small bottleGuy Laroche Fidji eau de toilette is available from  Amazon UK or The Perfume Shop . Prices vary but  are around £30 for 50ml eau de toilette.  You can find the rare eau de parfum here for twice the price.

 

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E Coudray Ambre et Vanille: Irresistible Me

 

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Escentual

 

Excuse me, I’ve been away but I’m back now.  I went camping in West Wales and smelled lots of interesting smells, none of which were from a bottle, some of which I am in no hurry to revisit (wet shoes, calorgas), and some which were delightful (wildflowers, grass, burning logs, ozone).

Now that I’m back in the land of civilisation, the current Wales temperature is turning my thoughts to Autumn already.  No, I’m not wishing my life away, but overcast and dull seems to be the default weather this August. This has had me turning to warmer scents and away from my beloved hesperide section.

e coudray vanilla

Do you ever spray a sample and sniff it, and find yourself quite unable to stop? Thus was my reaction to E Coudray Ambre et Vanille.

Now, you may recall my recent article about vanilla, and about how I felt that it had been cheapened, but the right stuff is still GOOD. Well, this treasure fits right into that category.  I am helpless to move my nose and may need smelling salts.

Ambre et  Vanille opens with the kind of vanilla that smells  unprocessed.  It’s like licking a vanilla pod before it falls into the hands of the lets-make-cheap-copies scoundrels.  This is like cold, rich butter.  There’s no sugar, just a silky wood feel to it that smells both elegant and cool. It’s opening notes are framed by bitter citrus: oranges and limes. These are hard to distinguish, but they take off the rich edges, which in my opinion, stops this smelling too crème brulee in the first few minutes.coudray retroIn the middle there are stately and sober flowers, namely iris and heliotrope, both doing their job quietly.  The vanilla, however, really lets go on the dance floor and sweeps everything under its warm, smoky broom with a touch of robust patchouli.  The amber is there, but is never as dominant as this glorious vanilla with its edges tinged in cinamon and tonka.   It is saved by a lack of syrup, yet keeps its warmth. This is a gourmand for the anti gourmand i.e yours truly.

e coudray selection

Remarkably, this was first created in 1935. I doubt very much that we are smelling the original formula post IFRA regulations, but this is a beautifully blended vanilla scent that bears no resemblance to the synthetics  that are so over-used on today’s saturated beauty counters.

E Coudray has been creating fragrance since  1822, despite several changes of hands. Their classic scents and ornate glass bottles deserve to be on every dressing table, namely mine.

Stockists

You can buy E Coudray Ambre et Vanille from Escentual, Amazon.UK or House of Fraser.  I find prices are reasonable at around £60 for a big 100ml bottle.  Sample is my own, as is my opinion. I can’t actually remember where the sample came from, so if I have forgotten to say thank you, please forgive me.

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Avon Fragrances – The 2017 Guide

avon 2017 collage

Guess what the most searched for item on my blog dashboard is? Yep. By a country mile, it’s Avon perfume reviews or best Avon perfume. You may have gathered by now that I’m a big Avon fan and I see no sign of that changing any time soon.

avon retro3With a rapid turnover of scents, Avon is almost simultaneously discontinuing and launching fragrance faster than my little fingers can type, but that’s the nature of the game when you’re keeping up with ever changing trends in the beauty market.

The Avon Unique Selling Point is that they provide decent quality fragrance that fits in with current trends and places them at an affordable price point. You won’t get Guerlain quality nor the originality of niche, but you will get good fragrance that could hold its own on the High Street at far higher prices.

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My first Avon round up was in 2014 and my second was in 2016. Both get more hits than any post I have ever written, proving that Avon is definitely getting it right.

Here then, is my third and most up to date Avon round up based on what’s in the brochure right now. I promise not to include anything that’s discontinued nor anything I haven’t personally tried. Nostrils a-flaring? Let’s go.

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  1. Avon Little Sequin Dress

The very latest flanker in the Avon little dress series.  This is a fruity floral that’s light and pretty and does the job nicely, thank you. You can read my review here.

imari

  1. Avon Imari

A recent import from Avon USA, Imari is roses, lemon, sandalwood and aldehydes.  You can read my review here.  I have the EDT, but I would prefer it to be in eau de parfum form. It’s still a good handbag scent though.

luck

  1. Avon Luck

A vanilla scent right down to its toes. This doesn’t work on me but smells utterly divine on my friend Ellie who fell in love with it.  It lasted ages on her and she couln’t stop smelling her wrist.  My review is here.

dreams

  1. Avon Dreams

Definitely in my top five favourite Avon scents. This is a woody floral that is dazzlingly feminine. Fans of Sarah Jessica parker Lovely will like this.  My review is here. In eth USA it’s called Prima.

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  1. Avon Far Away Infinity

If you like jasmine sambac and vanilla- a combination that has been huge in the last year, then you will love this one.  I found it very similar to Paco Rabanne Olympea, as did many Fragrantica readers. My review is here.far away bottle

  1. Avon Far Away

Avon’s bestseller for so long that I’m willing to bet they will never stop making it.  It even comes in 100ml bottles from time to time. This is a scent I smell very often on other people, possibly more than any other.  It’s vanilla to the point of coconut, teamed with freesia, roses and jasmine,  which ends up, as it began really: vanilla, coconut and white flowers.  I always think it smells warm and woolly like a cosy white blanket. You can buy it here.


little black dress

  1. Avon Little Black Dress

Another bestseller. I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like it. This is an elegant mix of plum, gardenia, jasmine and peony, with a musky base of sandalwood. Some say its smells like Dior J’Adore, and they’re not completely wrong.  You can buy it here.

little lace dress

  1. Avon Little Lace Dress

A bang-on trend combo of jasmine sambac and patchouli. It reminded me of so many far more expensive scents that I’ve smelled over beauty counters, but costs under ten quid.  You’ll know what I mean when you try it. My review is here.

far away bella

  1. Avon Far Away Bella

I love this fruity floral and wear it often. It’s light, long lasting and very- can I say girly? Is that OK? There it is.  It’s very girly. And it wears a little scarf.  Check out my review here.

perceive-oasis

  1. Avon Perceive Oasis

Not just my favourite Avon, but in my top ten perfumes of all time. This is another long lasting fragrance: this time its peony, roses and jasmine that makes me smell like a pale pink bouquet. My review is here.

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  1. Avon Life

Created by Kenzo Takada himself, no less, Avon Life is a delightful take on violets that’s light as air and perfect for daytime.  Every note is delicate and translucent, as if painted in watercolours. There’s waterlily, green tea, apple and cherry blossom. You can read my review here.

viva la vita

  1. Avon Viva La Vita

Created for spring, but pretty all year round, Viva la Vita is crisp and fresh. It opens with apple and citrus, and  morphs into a mimosa floral before settling into a cashmere woody scent. My review is here.

rare-plat

  1. Avon Rare Platinum

A knockout tuberose scent that combines this unmistakable creamy white flower with the tang of grapefruit. It’s presented in a bottle that reminds me of those American air bullet caravans in the 1950s.  Rare Platinum is sensational and I’m never without a bottle.  At £7 it’s a real bargain.  Read my review here.

silky soft musk

  1. Avon Silky Soft Musk

Not actually my favourite Avon, but again, they’ve come up with the goods by taking their bestselling Soft Musk scent and cloaking it in a silky vanilla accord. Very popular and only about a fiver last time I looked. My review is here.

soft musk

  1. Avon Soft Musk

I own a 50ml bottle of Soft Musk, as does my mother and as does my sister. It is a timeless floral musk with a hint of honeysuckle and peach. A couple of sprays and you can still smell it by tea time. My review is here. 

timeless

  1. Avon Timeless

An ambery powdery scent that was created in 1974. Avon discontinued this, only to bring it back thanks to customer demand, which was loud and long. My Avon Lady says this is her bestseller- many of her older customers have been using and buying it for decades. My review of Timeless  is here.

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17. Avon Attraction

Attraction is a fruity floral with a bit of praline in it, making it bang on the money right now. It opens with pear and pink pepper, travels via jasmine and orchid, and ends up with a gourmand woody finish. You can read my review here. 

pur blanca

18. Avon Pur Blanca

Last but not least, and todays’ scent, is Pur Blanca.  This is a beautifully clean smelling scent that’s full of powdery white musk notes and smells like you’ve just been freshly bathed. It’s one of my favourite clean laundry musks and always makes me feel fresh as a  white linen sheet on a breezy washing line. My review of Pur Blanca is here.

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Stockists

Everything you see here is available from Avon UK and some are available from Avon USA.  You can of course, also buy from your Avon rep if you are lucky enough to have one. I do and she’s lovely- Hello Jill!

Opinions are my own. I’m just a superfan and paid for all my own stuff.

Over to you

What’s your favourite Avon? Can you remember getting Avon stuff for Christmas when you were little?  Do let me know.  I always love to hear from you.

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Welcome to MoodScent 4! In the Mood for Mainstream Scent

moodscent4 turquoise

We are four perfume bloggers based in France, Holland, England and Wales who post on a different joint subject every couple of months. This time we have chosen Mainstream perfumes. You will find links to the other blogs at the end of the post. We hope you have fun reading our different choices and adding your own selection in the comments.

Now, doing this was fun, as it always is, but this particular theme had a touch of serendipity about for me. There I was racking my brains on what to write about and idling fiddling with the bottles on my dressing table. and the answer was right in front of me. I picked up five of my most reached for bottles and realized they are all mainstream scents bought from my local shopping centre.  So here are five fragrances that I bought from the High Street in my local medium sized town in South Wales. In other words, if I can find them, then you’ll definitely be able to.  PS  By a happy coincidence, they are all really cheap.

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First by Van Cleef and Arpels

first by van cleefOur love story began when I obtained a mini bottle of this in a set from Argos.  It was true love and I was in full bottle territory shortly afterwards.  This is the one I reach for when I want to feel grounded.  In other words, it’s the nearest thing I have to a signature scent.

It unfolds from sophisticated aldehyde down to big peppery florals and ends in a mossy flourish. The genius behind it is none other than Jean Claude Ellena.  A 60ml bottle of the eau de parfum is under £30, which I call outstanding value for money.

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Coty L’Aimant

laimant bottl;eAnother classic that I wear for comfort and when I want to feel like my old self.  It was created in 1927, on the coat tails of Chanel No 5 and was made in the same style.  L’Aimant was the signature scent of my late grandmother, who was always such a lady.  It’s a stunning scent and the parfum de toilette is plenty strong enough.  I wasn’t so keen on the cologne though.

L’Aimant opens with aldehydes and peaches and travels through a middle phase of all the best flowers: geranium, roses and jasmine. They segue seamlessly into the woody vetiver base with a dusty, powdery flourish that speaks of decades of class and untouched perfection. I still keep thinking the price is a joke, but it’s not, and neither is this excellent classic.

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Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely.

I feel very strongly about SJP Lovely. It is my response to people who say they would never wear celebrity perfume and that cheap perfume doesn’t  smell good.  Lovely ticks both boxes. It’s a superb fragrance that I wear often. It’s long lasting and classy and the price is so low for quality of this calibre.

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I was introduced to this by my dear friend and shameless perfume enabler Lisa Jones. She said she wore it for the school run, you know, those moments when you notice the time, grab a bottle of what goes with everything and run out of the house. Within days of trying her bottle, I had my own 100ml bottle. It was one of those  fragrances.

Lovely is described as a silky white amber, but it’s so much more.  It opens with lavender and apple martini (don’t ask me!)  and orchid, which I don’t usually like.  The whole thing morphs into a feminine, pretty floral, but as soon as that’s registered, it becomes woody and gets a bit of texture from the patchouli.   Rounded off with amber and white musk, this is a stunning floral with an earthy, warm finish.  I just love the lavender in it that keeps it so ladylike and timeless.

lovely

Lovely has outrun many celebrity fragrances and is regarded by many critics as  being excellent in its own right.  What makes me love it even more is that SJP herself was involved on every level and had very definite ideas about what she wanted. This was no mere “sign-here” deal.  She got in the way and rolled her sleeves up.

Having said that, credit must go tothe talented noses who actually made it- Laurent le Guernec and Clement Gavarrry for Coty.

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Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps

lairdutempsLike L’Aimant and First, this is a scent that will always be on my dressing table. There’s nothing like it, and that’s hard to find these days in a busy and often generic market. L’Air du Temps was created in 1948 and the dove on the bottle is the dove of peace in the turbulent post war period.

The scent is so familiar to me that it’s almost hard to deconstruct. It’s a gentle, luminous floral that also has peppery carnation, roses, jasmine, violet, a hint of talc and a warm mossy, woody amber finish.

Listing the notes does nothing to do it justice.  If you’ve never tried it, you must, and if you have, then I’m sure you’ll know why I love it so. Nothing the brand has done since has ever beaten this.

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Library of Fragrance

lof scentsLibrary of Fragrance really, absolutely and truly does have a scent for every occasion. It’s a brand that has a friendly, playful image, yet provides serious quality perfume. It is ideal for building a scent wardrobe and learning to layer fragrance, or just for pinning down that nostalgic note you couldn’t put your finger on until now. My recommendations are Musk # 7, Mahogany, Play Doh (see my love for it here), Salt Air, Rain, Snow, Grass, Orange Flower, Four Leaf Clover, Gingerbread and Myrrh.  Some of friends collect them and they look fabulous in the bathroom with their pharmacy style silver lid bottles.

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Cacharel LouLou

loulouLouLou has a special place in my heart.  This was the scent I was wearing when I  was catapulted into adult life from home to university back in 1988.  Everything I did for three years smelled of this.  I still have a bottle of this intriguing anise, plum, patchouli, oriental floral that pays homage to silent movie star Louise Brooks.  I’m certain it doesn’t smell as it did, though  Today’s version smells thinner and more metallic. I remember it was earthier and had a deeper resonance back in the 80s.   Like all of us, it was best in its youth, but spraying this into the air takes me back to  goth nightclubs, red wine, red lipstick and cigarette smoke faster than a time machine could.

It remains remarkably low priced and I adore the Art Deco bottle and  stylised flowers on the box.  I have a soft spot for all the Cacharel range, especially Noa and Anais Anais.

My Mood Scent 4 Chums

Find out what my Mood Scent colleagues put in their round ups.  Read what their thoughts on mainstream scents are from the links below:

  • Tara on A Bottled Rose (representing England) and
  • Esperanza in the Netherlands with her blog L’Esperessence,
  • and last but not least, the lovely Megan, who came up with this idea and brought us all together. Megan is based in France and you can read her blog MeganinSainteMaxime here.

Over to you

What’s your favourite High Street or main stream fragrance? Is there one you’ll never be without? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

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BeFunky Collage

Vanilla Fragrances for People who Don’t Like Vanilla

vanilla collage

In the past few years, vanilla has appeared in just about everything you care to name from cheap candles to mass produced mainstream fragrances to room sprays. It’s enough to put you off. In fact, that’s exactly what it did and I confess to having become a vanilla swerver.

However, several vanilla fragrances have turned my head and made me look again. From under the mass market tsunami of vanilla abuse come rays of hope, and reminders that vanilla, before its over exposure, was one of the greats and still can be.  The right vanilla, blended with flair and instinct, can give heart and warmth to a fragrance, and offers respite from the sickly cupcake confections and synthetic waxy imitations.

Huff post
Huff post

Here’s a roundup of the vanilla scents I would never tire of wearing. If you’re no vanilla fan, these beauties will turn your head and change your mind. Not all vanilla is equal.

Tauerville Vanilla Flash

vanilla-flash-bttleVanilla is not the first thing you will notice about Vanilla Flash. In fact, with me, it was the roses. Andy Tauer, a true gentleman and frankly, a modest genius too, has created a vanilla scent that frames the vanilla rather than allowing it to take over. Here vanilla is teamed with spice, tobacco, roses and patchouli and is chilly rather than warm.

My review is here. I could wear this all day and all night. Bravo Andy. Here’s the link to the Tauerville website.

Aftelier Perfumes Vanilla Smoke

vanillasmoke1If I could sum up cosy in one scent it would be this. The wonderful Mandy Aftel, who works only with natural ingredients, has taken the warm heart of vanilla and added it to the subtle wood smoke of a hearth. One sniff and my brain thinks it’s Christmas. You can read my review here and buy it from here.

 

Agonist Vanilla Marble

vanillamarblebottleThis is another scent that portrays vanilla as chilled rather than warm and it works to great effect.  In fact, I sent my dear friend Pippa a sample of this prior to her wedding and she chose it as her wedding day fragrance. She made a beautiful Edwardian bride and she smelled glorious. You can read my review here and  buy Agonist from here.

 

DSH Perfumes Vanilla Chantilly

DSH perfumes
DSH perfumes

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz mixes and macerates her stunning potions in Boulder, Colorado and is always a joy to deal with. Like Mandy Aftel, Dawn also uses natural ingredients and Vanilla Chantilly manages to take the buttery woodiness of vanilla without adding any sugar and syrup.  It smells both clean and warm, both cool and dark. Dawn has kept the sticky woody pod character of vanilla and blended it into a musky, spicy accord with a hint of almonds.  I get so many compliments! You can buy it from the DSH website.

Dior Hypnotic Poison

hypnoticThis is the richest deepest vanilla on the High Street. With hints of almond, this is pure luxury with nary a cup cake nor a Pound Shop candle in sight. This feels wonderful to wear and really opened my eyes to how great vanilla can be.  My review of it is here.  You can buy it from allbeauty.com and John Lewis.

Library of Fragrance Play Doh

PlayDoh-30_grandeIt may have a playful name, but it’s worth taking seriously.  This is a superb vanilla scent that yes, smells like Playdoh, but then Playdoh smells like vanilla. In fact, this reminded me of marzipan, which always gets my mouth watering.  Here’s the link  to my review and here’s the link to the Library of Fragrance website.

4160 Tuesdays The Sexiest Scent on The Planet Ever (IMHO)

4160 Tuesdays
. 4160 Tuesdays

Last but by no means least, comes this cult classic from Sarah McCartney at 4160 Tuesdays.  I always think of the vanilla in this as golden and fuzzy, so add that to a cup of Earl Grey with its bergamot infusion, and stir in the scent of antique dark wood, and this is the pleasing result.  It’s good vanilla, rich and warm, with not a cupcake in sight. You can read my review here. and buy it from here.

Over to you

What’s your opinion on vanilla? Do you have a favourite vanilla scent? Do let me know, I always love to hear from you.

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REEK Perfumes: Damn Rebel Bitches Giveaway

reek giveaway

“We are the grandaughters of the witches you couldn;t burn”

You may have read my recent review of Damn Rebel Witches, the second offering from our Scottish friends at REEK, created by the gifted Sarah McCartney.  Well, due to a postal mix up,  I now have more than one purse spray of REEK Damn Rebel Bitches and I thought the decent thing would be to do a giveaway. As much as I’d like to keep it, the perfume situation at Fort Scriven is getting a little out of hand now.- not that I’m saying that’s a bad thing.

In order to win the 7.5ml purse spray ( worth £25), just tell me your smell right now. Mine is Goulash, Vosene and First by Van Cleef and Arpels.  What’s yours?

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Entries will be chosen via randompicker.org  and the giveaway will close five days from now at midnight on the 30th July 2017. Please do not enter if you are outside the UK as I will not be able to send you your prize, and would hate to disappoint you.

Put your comment below or on Twitter or on Facebook.  Whilst you’re at it, why not follow me on all of my social media?

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.

WHAT’S YOUR SMELL RIGHT NOW?

Acknowledgments: With warm thanks to Bethany and the team at REEK.

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Damn Rebel Witches: REEK Perfumes gives the Bitches a Sister

drw hands

We are the granddaughters of the witches you couldn’t burn

Reek is an independent Scottish brand who worked with prolific Nose Sarah McCartney (Um, I might have mentioned her a few times) to produce the fragrance Damn Rebel Bitches. The scent was created to honour and commemorate the women who fought back  in the Jacobite rebellion and the name the English had for them is used to name the fragrance in a rebellious two fingered salute. You can read my review here.

This year, launching,appropriately on Halloween 2017, comes Damn Rebel Witches.  At the march for women earlier this year, placards read “We are the granddaughters of the witches you couldn’t burn,” and that to me, is the demographic for this stunning statement scent. In other words, all of us.

My freckly arm in rebellious mode.
My freckly arm in rebellious mode.

Damn Rebel Witches is in a similar vein to Damn Rebel Bitches, but has a sharper opening and a darker finish. The blood orange comes out immediately, and the tobacco- here a rich woody note- adds an earthy finesse. There’s hearty malt, and  a horsey whiff of leather.  Both scents are created from ingredients that would have been around at the time of the women they celebrate i.e the 1700s (Okay, maybe not the oranges, but I’m happy to stand corrected).  In both you’ll find malt, pink pepper, berries and blood oranges and they do have several similarities: these two are blood sisters for sure.

photo by REEK
photo by REEK

 

Witches is woodier than Bitches, and the orange is sharper. You know when you peel an orange and you accidentally get some in your eye? That’s the smell, although your eyes won’t sting if you smell this.

What I find curious about this is that when you think Damn Rebel Witches has left you completely, it disappears and comes back as a sort of light floral ghostie.  I was sniffing my arm wondering what petal like scent I had sprayed earlier, only to realise that Damn Rebel Witches dies and comes back! How’s that for a party trick? And where did the dark orangey flowers come from? They’re not even listed as notes. It’s witchcraft, I tell you.

Stockists

Damn Rebel Witches is currently available in a set of two: Bitches and Witches, which gives you a phial of each from the REEK website. Full size bottles of Damn Rebel Witches will be available from Halloween this year. You can already buy Damn Rebel Bitches in full size as well as purse size. My sample was kindly supplied by REEK in return for an honest review, which I have given.  Opinions are my own and this is not a sponsored post.

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4160 Tuesdays: Doe in the Snow

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Sarah McCartney “stirred woods, fruits and flowers with an icicle”

Doe in the Snow was created for a winter wedding,  but recently it has proved itself to be the perfect summer fragrance.  When it feels so hot that  anything with the word snow in the title seems far-fetched and impossible, that’s when you need Doe in the Snow.

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Doe in The Snow was created for the January wedding of perfume writer Odette Toilette aka the lovely Lizzie Ostrum. I had the pleasure of meeting Lizzie at the Jasmine awards earlier this year and was delighted to see her win, and deservedly so.

I’ve only recently decided to review Doe in the Snow because I cannot beat the tagline “stirred with an icicle.” It’s the perfect description of this icy refreshing treat that cuts right through that sticky, sweaty feeling you get as soon as the thermostat goes over the 20 degree point.

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Doe in the Snow opens with lemon and lime and grapefruit.  It reminded me of a cross between Morning Fresh washing up liquid and ice lollies.  That’s no criticism at all: more of a vignette of an afternoon at my grandmother’s house circa 1970 something. Doe in the Snow however, is  modern with a vintage feel.

There are peaches in here that come out boldly about halfway through, but with no stickiness.  Think of the peaches in Lanvin Arpège: a restrained fruity note that adds a frisson of traditional prettiness without any of the modern syrupiness of main stream fruity florals.  Besides which, the lemon and lime stop things getting too sweet and keep that astringent edge that makes Doe in the Snow so refreshing.  To my nose, there’s also a touch of dark green soap in there, which I can’t explain to you or myself.

HouseofTreats.com
HouseofTreats.com

The mosses and woods in the base give it that chypre edge that I always seek. That’s not to say this ever gets rich and heavy though: the genius of it is that it’s a chypre for a summery day.  It has vintage touches in the peachy mossy note, and yet resembles a sorbet with its icy coolness.  Very clever, very refreshing and very chic.

Stockists

This is half price until June 23rd 2017 from the 4160 Tuesdays website.  After that it goes back to full price, which is still very reasonable, especially for handmade niche fragrance.  You can buy something “meh” from the beauty counter or you can buy a bottle of this for a similar price.   Not a sponsored post.  Opinions are my own.

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Ruth Mastenbroek Oxford: Students, Spires and Smoke

rmf_oxford_50ml_edp_web

An explosion of fresh, green, basil and peppery notes bursts from a herbal heart of clary sage with sensuous jasmine; vanilla, amberwood, and oudh bring a cashmere texture to the base.

Oxford (the fragrance) was inspired by those heady student days when you leave home for the first time and everything feels edgy, daring and slightly scary.   Its creator, Ruth Mastenbroek, read Chemistry at Oxford in 1970., hence the name.    I went to Exeter University, not Oxford ( couldn’t get in!) , but I can recall that butterflies-in-the-tummy excitement in the blink of an eye, and this fragrance  encapsulates those halcyon student days.

photo of naked man on the banks of the River Thames, Oxford by Paddy Summerfield
photo of naked man on the banks of the River Thames, Oxford by Paddy Summerfield

Oxford opens with Clary Sage, which I often mistake for lavender.  Clary Sage is no weakling: it is robust and muscly and borders on the smell of weed or filter-less cigarettes.   Cigarette smoke played a huge part in my student memories, and from this scent, I’m guessing it did for Ruth too.   That’s not to say this smells unpleasant: far from it- but there’s a brash masculine, herbal feel to it that reminded me of bristly chins and smoky  late night adventures.

The clary sage mixes with woods and oudh and to my nose, this has a sort of unfinished roughness, again- no bad thing.  It’s that unfinished shape that your student years  form you into.  You think you’re fully formed but you’re nothing like the finished product that you need to be.  Not yet.

RM-im_3
Ruth Mastenbroek

When the herbs and woods have settled down, this leaves a beautiful and very long-lasting impression in its wake.   The clary sage smells more like lavender now, and there’s a heady herbal thing going on (man).  Patchouli stays put like a slightly unwashed squatter.  If you want squeaky clean and generic, you’ve come to the wrong place.

Oxford goes from rough and dirty, to clean and earthy, like the morning after, as you walk home to birdsong after a long dark night of excess.  It grew and grew on me like a persistent suitor, and  has now become my favourite scent from Ruth’s collection.   Oxford has changing facets, like a kaledoscope, and that’s just one of the many things I love about it.

About Ruth

Ruth and her new friend Sam.
Ruth and her new friend Sam.

Ruth Mastenbroek has been making fragrance and fragrant products for far longer than you may realise. Her signature range only has three fragrances, yet Ruth was the brains behind many of the Bath House products and has worked on scented candles for Jo Malone, as well as being a former President of the British Society of Perfumers.

Complete the trilogy

I have previously reviewed Ruth’s RM Signature fragrance, and the wonderful Amorosa. Today I am competing my trilogy.

From the Times Educational Supplement
From the Times Educational Supplement

Stockists

RM Oxford is available from the Ruth Mastenbroek website and from Fenwick and Rouiller White.

Disclaimer

My sample was kindly provided by Ruth, for which, many thanks. Opinions are my own and this is not a sponsored post. In fact, I’ve never written a sponsored post!

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Avon Imari: It’s Coming to the UK

imari
Photo from Fragrantica. Design may vary for the UK introduction

My dear Avon Lady Jill gave me a little perfume sample when she dropped off  a late item yesterday.  I’m used to this now- Avon launches wide and often, which is fine by me.  However, when Jill said “This one’s called Imari” I stopped in my tracks. “Just a minute,” I thought, “that one’s only available in the USA.”

Dear reader, and fellow Avon fan (probably if you’re reading this) it is true.  Imari is coming to the UK.

sweet honestyThis has got me very excited because if they can bring Imari to us, then what else can they do?  I have always thought that if Avon did a heritage range of old favourites, then the people in my age group, i.e. late forties (but we look younger) would snap them up before you could say Foxfire.  Dare I hope for Eau Givree? For Odyssey? For Charisma?  My wishes are not impossible dreams. They did after all, bring Timeless back when customer clamour deafened, and jolly good it is too.

But did you know for instance, that the USA Avon brochure has Sweet Honesty, Odyseey, Candid and Night Magic?  Dare I hope we’re getting them too over here in the UK?

odyssey

So what’s Imari like?

Well it opens with citrus for a clean, bright opening.  There’s a nice bit of soapy aldehydes in the beginning, before this lurches into rose and patchouli territory, with some big noticeable white flower notes. It’s all rounded off with a bit of musk, incense and amber.  Despite calling itself a chypre, this lacks the mossy note that qualifies it as one, but I’m not going to nit-pick, because I want more.  There is a touch of vanilla in the finish,  but its warm and cosy rather than sweet and cakey.

imari 2

Avon has a particular talent for channelling into what’s hot on the high street and providing its own, more affordable take on current trends.   What delights me about this one is that Avon is looking beyond its younger demographic.  After all, they have all the vanilla and fruity florals and praline combos they could ever dream of.  What joy then, to get something for me and my tribe of fellow grand dames of a certain age (but look younger).  Imari was originally created in 1985, and we know how great all those fragrances were.

Avon Imari will be in the next brochure and you can queue behind me if you like. It won’t be expensive.  Avon UK, if you’re reading this, please bring the others over too!

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