Category Archives: retro perfume

FiFi 2017 Winner: MB Perfumes Black Osmanthus by Marina Barcenilla

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If you’re in a  floaty peony sort of mood, I’m afraid you’ve come out of the wrong lift.  But if you’re looking for Black Osmanthus,  follow that woman with the black lipstick.  Follow her into that unmarked door with the smoky jazz  drifting out of it.   You’ll find what you’re looking for in there.

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Black Osmanthus by Marina Barcenilla won this year’s Fragrance Foundation Award for Best Independent Perfume, and I for one, was jolly pleased.  It’s not just because Marina does everything herself, including sourcing the absolutes and extracts that she makes her potent potions with, but because Black Osmanthus is not your usual dab it on after a shower and wear it to work fragrance.  Black Osmanthus breaks the mould and gives a rude salute ,  which appeals to the rebel in me  that so often, by necessity, gets supressed.

Osmanthus is the name for a genre of around 30 types of blossoming plants. Petals are usually white and the scent is likened to fruity, leathery blossom, often with apricot or peachy cadences.

Black Osmanthus is heavy, leathery, smoky and to my nose at least, has a hint of gorgeous creosote, like a freshly painted fence.  This is by no means a criticism- creosote is one of my favourite scents ever.

sam and marina
Marina Barcenilla at the FiFis. She let me hold her award for the photo. I am planning to steal it.

Black Osmanthus opens with all the subtlety of an Avon Lady knocking your door down with a sledgehammer.  On my skin, it takes me straight into smoky, leathery tar territory and I pretty much stay there.  I should tell you that Marina wore this the night of her win and in a room full of fume heads wearing their favourite scents, this beautiful smoked leather was distinct and true throughout the evening.

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This is made from layers of leathery notes: There’s rich saffron stamens, dark patchouli, almost sticky in its depth,  bay rum and myrrh.

The flowers are, if you’ll pardon the pun, no shrinking violets: there’s tuberose and jasmine and they’re not dainty.  The oakmoss sits with the other tough guys and makes this the ultimate dark, leathery spicy scent for those who have been seeking exactly this.  It reminds me of those little vials of Middle Eastern attar with its amber juice that let the fumes escape like snakes.

Lasting power is fantastic.  Spray at dawn and enjoy wafts of it until dusk.  And then stay up all night.

Further reading  Check out Stephan Matthews excellent review here.

Stockists  You can buy Black Osmanthus samples from the MB Parfums website, but beware, this may lead to a full bottle and you will have to get used to telling strangers what you’re wearing.

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I Scent You a Night: The Fragrance Foundation UK Awards 2017

Ruby, you are not coming.

As you may have gathered, last Thursday  was the UK Fragrance Foundation Annual Awards Night (aka the Fifis) and saw a major gathering of the great and the good in the perfume industry.  By a happy turn of events, I found my little old self there too.

I attended as a guest of the Clive Christian team, which was both an honour and a privilege and I thank them warmly for inviting me.

I hadn’t been sure that attending would even be possible, with the night being on a school night, during term time and in London, around 150 miles from South Wales where Fort Scriven is situated.  After rearranging my family’s lives in order to facilitate my attendance, and a last-minute ear infection at 5.50am from my poorly son who failed to guilt me into cancelling, I was off.

sam frock

I may have mentioned before how kind perfume people are. Their generosity and thoughtfulness is legend, and tonight was no exception. I was invited to join brilliant perfume writer Stephan Matthews and Fifi award winner and perfumer Marina Barcenilla for a meet up and catch up prior to the noise and chaos. This meant I did not have to walk in alone and when we reached the venue and I saw the sheer enormity of the event, I was wholeheartedly grateful to have people to walk in with.

There were proper paparazzi and a big sponsored backdrop for better known people than I to be photographed on.  Red carpet was everywhere- I have some on my stairs at home, but it doesn’t have the same effect and it’s a sod to hoover.   There were sequinned hosts and black tie waiters with champagne holders that could hold about thirty glasses, unlike me.  I only had one  and stuck to soft drinks thereafter.  I had names to remember and an early bus and I could not figure out where my hotel was from a map.   Adding champagne would have been a disaster.  I might still be there now, looking for the exit.

Stephan and Marina are a hoot to hang out with and I was in awe of their knowledge: not just of the industry but of the process and raw materials.  Marina, as you may know, is a talented perfumer and very modest with it.  Plus hilarious and sweary also.

photo by kind permission of Sarah McCartney
photo by kind permission of Sarah McCartney

I had a chance to catch up with the charming Dariusz, aka Persolaise and a met a jolly good looking chap who looked very familiar.  I asked him what he did for a living “I’m a model” replied the charming model Oliver Cheshire.  If I was as good looking as him, I’d be a massive big head, but he wasn’t in the slightest and was delightful.

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L-R, Stephan Matthews, Me, Persolaise.

My chum and fume-idol Sarah McCartney arrived around then: a finalist in two categories for Mother Nature’s Naughty Daughters, and looking splendid in vintage couture, with vintage buttons gleaming like jewels.  We founded a two-strong campaign to restore the evening glove.  Check out our YouTube video above that’s snowballed into double viewing figures.

It was soon time to herd us upstairs to dinner and I was separated from my companions to join my hosts on the Clive Christian table.    My eyes had popped out on stalks when on seeing goody bags on every chair, so I popped them back in and tried to look gracious and not like a goody bag greedy guts.  Which I am.

The Clive Christian table were a truly lovely team of people and I was particularly bowled over to have a chat with Victoria Christian herself who, let me tell you, smelled INCREDIBLE. (She was wearing Clive Christian V and C together).  Luckily, fragrance gatherings are one of the few occasions where you can sniff people you have only just met without getting arrested.  Also on my table, I was delighted to see Jo Fairley of The Perfume Society,  who I hadn’t seen since I attended her workshop  last Saturday.

clive christian colour
Not a bribe- I returned it post-review, like a good egg.

You will hear more from me about Clive Christian throughout the year as there are exciting launches coming up soon, so watch this space.

After being entertained 1950s style by the fabulous Bye Bye Baby- a superb Frankie Valli style singing act, the awards began in earnest. There isn’t room here to list all the winners, so follow this link to Now Smell This,  but we had a lovely compere in the form of Natasha Kaplinksy, who looked great but was too far away to sniff.

sam and marina
Double FiFi Winner, beautiful and talented Marina Barcenilla.

I was disappointed that Sarah McCartney didn’t win, but delighted that Marina Barcenilla won for Black Osmanthus.  Marina and Sarah  are true perfumers who make their own stuff,  source their own materials and get  their hands dirty.  I love perfumers who do that and if it were up to me, I’d create a special category for the dirty hands gang.

From Woman and Home magazine
From Woman and Home magazine

The Fragrance Foundation was celebrating its twenty fifth birthday that night and it was fascinating to watch a showreel of perfume ads over the last 25 years.  How things have changed!  The night was finally over, all bar the dancing, but this tired Cinders could bear no more after a very long day.   Finding the exit was like trying to leave Ikea but I just about made it out of there before I turned into a pumpkin.

Them Fragrance Foundation people sure know how to throw a party.

Goodnight, Nos da, Pyjamas.

Who are you wearing?

Samantha Scriven was dressed by The Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice Charity Shop, Cwmbran and the YMCA Shop Blackwood.  Jewellery by Marks and Spencer from four years ago.   Make up by Avon and Rimmel.   Hair by Salon Scriven and two hotel mirrors.   Scent of the Night was Le Jardin Retrouvé Tuberose Trianon.

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How I Improved My Sense of Smell with The Perfume Society

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Some blog posts are very hard to write because I’m so afraid I won’t do them justice. This is one of them.  I was on such a high after coming back from the Perfume Society Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshop that I was neither use nor ornament for about 48 hours.

lucky scarf
If ever a scarf were the right scarf for an occasion, it was my perfume scarf. It smells good too!

First of all, The Perfume Society is three years old and is the only body of its type in the world.  They know this because they googled to find a perfume society before realising there wasn’t one. The Perfume Society is the brainchild of legendary beauty editor and writer Jo Fairley and her business partner Lorna McKay.  I have been reading Jo’s work since around 2000 ish,  before blogging was invented and  back when I was a One Scent woman.   10299686_1560529210840279_596234111_a

The workshops are not just exclusive to London, so it really is worth subscribing to The Perfume Society, if only to get access to The Scented Letter and Discovery Box discounts.  The workshop I attended was in the basement of The New Moon Tapas Bar in Clifton.

It was a wonderfully informative, but informal session that made me feel like I was BFFs with everyone around the table, and not just my real life BFF Lisa, who was also there.  Jo is an engaging speaker and delivers the workshop in an accessible and inclusive way that felt like a chat with a friend except with far more “Wow! I never knew that” moments.

You may think that having written 817 blog posts about perfume that I might know a lot.  Well I know about  1% of what I actually want and need to know.   However, you very much do NOT have to be a blogger in order to attend.   For one thing, the amount of experience and knowledge you need to attend the workshop is ZERO.  No experience required.

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My perfect afternoon. Jo Fairley took this so is sadly not in it. Photo courtesy of The Perfume Society.

So, what happens? Well, we were made comfortable with  refreshments and introduced ourselves, which wasn’t cringy like work training, but friendly like meeting your tribe. There were six of us altogether and it was especially lovely to meet Claire, who I have been following on Instagram and talking to on the perfume group Eau my Soul.

Jo explained that part of the mission of The Perfume Society is to put us back in touch with our sense of smell, referred to by Helen Keller as “The Fallen Angel of the Senses” and she was right.   Back when we were cavewomen, we could sniff out herbs, non-toxic berries and woolly mammoths, but now our sense of smell has been blunted by modern conveniences.

The workshop goes about starting us on the path to putting this right.  We did some very interesting sniffing, giving our impressions in an atmosphere in which there was no right or wrong.  There was also a very interesting exercise in which we tried minty Green and Black’s chocolate to see if it was smell or taste that gave us the minty hit.  The answer really surprised me.  Plus, you know, Green and Blacks. *swoon* (something else we have Jo to thank for).

The third section was the bring a bottle party.  Some of it was 80% proof. Yes, I’m talking fragrance.  Prior to attending, we were asked to bring a bottle of our favourite scent.  I had to be very strict with myself and put the wheelbarrow back before leaving the house with just one: Art de Parfum Gin &Tonic.

our selection
Recognise any favourites?

My adorable colleagues, as I now thought of them,  brought a few each, so we had great fun diving on the stuff we hadn’t smelled yet and sharing opinions. On top of that we were given goody bags to take home. Reader, this was better than my birthday.

As if that wasn’t enough fun, we then got the chance to buy Discovery Boxes and the gorgeous Perfume Society Scented Skincare set at big discounts.  As if that wasn’t enough, we then go to visit a brand-new niche perfumery called Shy Mimosa, which I will write about separately, and where we also had a big discount.

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The tempting shelves at Shy Mimosa

So, was it worth it going?  Did I improve my sense of smell? Yes, and yes and it was wonderful and I had several OMG moments where I made surprising discoveries and oh, my stars, what a day!

If you ever get the chance to attend one, go.  Just go.  They’re not just in London and you don’t need to know anything beforehand. If there’s not one near you, then email The Perfume Society and tell them.   They will listen.  Unless you live alone on a remote island that can only be reached by catamaran at high tide.  Apart from that, if enough people clamour, then you never know…

cocottes

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Dear Aunty Sam: Your Perfume Problems Answered-Part Four

‘La mauvaise nouvelle’ (‘Bad News’) (1804) by Marguerite Gérard (1761-1837). Oil on canvas. Musée du Louvre, Paris

Once again, I am putting on my glasses and trying to look important  Yes, indeed:  it’s time for more of your perfume problems!

I must apologise to poor Charlotte who wrote in with this week’s problem.  It’s taken me so long to respond and I apologise profusely.  I do hope you still like me Charlotte! I blame the Easter Holidays,  a camping trip, several writing jobs, my two children,  four workmen,  a drain, a flood and a loss adjustor.  I’ll be quicker next time, so do write in! You can email me on iscentyouaday@gmail.com or comment below or on my Facebook page.

Here is Charlotte’s letter:

Dear Aunty Sam

I absolutely love Viktor &Rolf Flowerbomb but it is SO expensive! Can you suggest other scents that are very similar but not quite so pricy?

Charlotte

flowerbomb ad

My dear Charlotte,

rsz_dr_sam (1)This is an excellent question and I’m sure you’re not alone in wanting an answer.  Viktor and Rolf Flowerbomb is much beloved, but as you point out,  not very cheap.   Many perfume fans reckon it smells similar to mega blockbuster Lancôme La Vie est Belle. To give credit where it’s due, Flowerbomb got there first, way back in 2005,  whereas La Vie est Belle didn’t emerge until 2012.

So what can I recommend that will make you smell amazingly Flowerbomb-like and still be budget friendly?  Here goes:

World Class Perfumes Perfumer’s Choice “Natalie”

natalieThe World Class Perfume Group owns Milton Lloyd and Taylor of London, who make a lot of the Lentheric and Yardley stuff of yesteryear such as Panache and Chique.

The Perfumer’s Choice arm of the business has a small range of very long-lasting fragrances which are guaranteed to last at least six hours, and I can vouch that they definitely do.  Natalie is so similar to La Vie est Belle that I thought I’d sprayed the wrong bottle.  It lasted around eight hours and has the combo of flowers and warm, sweet gourmand notes that make it so similar that this blogger was fooled.  The packaging ain’t fancy, but, boy, it’s value for money.  I reviewed it here and at the time, I couldn’t quite make the connection as I don’t think I was familiar with its doppelganger at the time,  but I smelled it recently and thought YES.

Coming in at the very reasonable price of £14 for 83m of EDP, or £7 for 50ml of Parfum de Toilette (to me PDT is stronger than EDT, not quite as strong as EDP) Perfumer’s Choice Natalie is available from this website or from Amazon UK.

Agent Provocateur Fatale

agentprovThis has the big white flowers and the patchouli and orchid of Flowerbomb.  Imagine Flowerbomb with an accent of grated dark chocolate and you’re not far off AP Fatale.  Available for just 12,95 from one of my favourite sites : allbeauty. com, this is far cheaper than Flowerbomb and possibly cheap enough to risk a blind buy.

I hope this helps you Charlotte, and again, I do apologise for the lengthy delay

Ask me for help!

Are you pensive about perfumes? Fanatical about fragrance?  Addled by aldehydes?  Confused dot com?  I’m here to answer any questions you might have, whether it’s a smellalike, a reformulation question or a where-can-I-buy-it query.  Just ask.  I always love to hear from you.

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The Very Best Celebrity Fragrances 2017 (The Updated IScent Guide)

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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. antonio_banderas_blue_seduction_for_men1Firstly, 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.

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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 liztemrespected 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.

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  1.  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.

lovely

  1.  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.

jloglow

  1.   JLo Glow

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. 

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  1.  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.

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  1.  Rihanna Rogue

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.

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  1.  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.

sensational

  1.  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.

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  1. 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.

adam levine

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.

www.fruugo.co.uk
www.fruugo.co.uk
  1. 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.

jlopez_deseo-perfumeThe 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.

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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.

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Pure Sylvan Magic: Papillon Artisan Perfumes Dryad

dryad
John William Waterhouse: Hylas and the Nymphs

Ever since Liz Moores launched her perfume house, Papillon Artisan Perfumery in 2014, I have been impressed, nay, blown away by the calibre of her fragrances.  My superlatives have overtaken each other on each new launch and this fifth scent, named Dryad, was much anticipated by me and the many cohorts of Papillon fans.   To say that I was not disappointed would be a vast understatement.  In fact, I feel that this was made just for me, even though I know it wasn’t.

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Hamadryad by John William Waterhouse

My favourite  scent genre is the mossy green chypre.  It’s hard to get the good ones these days, especially since IFRA made everything so safe that the fragrance industry suffered casualties in the purge. Green chypres have never quite regathered themselves into that glory-days retro mustiness that I am always seeking: like the end of the rainbow, it eludes me the nearer I get.  Well, there’s a happy ending to my quest and that rainbow has ended in my lap with a pot of gold, because that’s how I felt when I sprayed my sample of Dryad.

Dryads are mythical wood nymphs, whose lives are intrinsically entangled to the tree they inhabit. When the tree dies, so do they. There’s a wonderful message in Dryad. In all the hectic noise of modern life, it is time we slowed down and inhaled the moss and the leaves and listened to the birdsong, because when the trees die, so do the dryads.

It didn’t surprise me at all that Liz Moores chose this as the name of her fifth fragrance: after all, she lives a sylvan existence nursing broken wings and wrangling stripy tailed lunatics in the heart of the New Forest.  So the big question is of course, what does it smell like?

What does Dryad smell like?

Dryad opens with bergamot and oakmoss and a mass of herbs.  I find it rare for oak moss to come out straight away:  it’s usually a base note, sneaking in at the end.  Dryad, though, is all about the oakmoss and it’s pretty much the main figure in this beautiful composition. The greenery is all encompassing: musty, mossy and mysterious, like a dark route through a forest.  There’s fauna as well as flora: deer tongue absolute has been used to beautiful effect.  Deer tongue has a  herby/tobacco accord and  it certainly makes its presence felt. This is everything you find in the woods.

Woburn Abbey
Woburn Abbey

The middle phase reminded me of genuine, vintage, Dior Diorissimo: that classic green ily of the valley chypre. You can still buy Diorissimo of course, but it’s not the same as the slightly dirty version I smelled from a vintage bottle a few years back.  That bottle of Diorissimo gave me a whiff of sweaty, talcum powdered inner thigh.: not so much a sexy smell, as a womanly smell.  It’s no sterile baby powder, but powder it most certainly is. The nymph tries out a ladylike phase before returning to her feral roots.

parfums Christian Dior
vintage Dior advertisement

The base of Dryad, whilst never wavering from the chord I’ve named Oakmoss Major, is a little bit Guerlinade, but greener. There is narcissus and jonquil (a very vernal dafodilly posy) and they merge and move around like weather clouds from one phase to the next.

orieldavies
Oriel Davies Gallery

My overall sign off from Dryad is a picture in my mind of green damp woods, overrun by thick moss, a delicate glove from a vintage handbag, a  whiff of Diorissimo and  a fluffy talcum puff.  Oh, and the warm flanks of a startled faun.

Stockists

It’s not quite launched yet, but I’ll update when it is.  You can currently buy Papillon fragrance from the website or from branches of Les Senteurs in the UK. Check the website for further stockists in Europe, USA and Canada.  My sample was very kindly sent to me by Liz Moores, and opinions are my own. Papillon has an excellent sample service. You can read my reviews of  the other Papillon scents here:  Anubis, Tobacco Rose, Angelique, Salome.

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Fantastically Foxy: Foxy by DSH Perfumes

foxy pic

Funnily enough, my children and I  were halfway through Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox when this arrived in the post.  I have been reading this book since the mid-seventies and it kept me company during several commutes in my twenties too.  This utopian story in which handsome Mr Fox overcomes adversaries brings both adults and children back to this classic story.  Also, it marks the only time in my life when I ended up with a bit of a crush on a charismatic fictional wild animal.

mr fox original
The original book I grew up with

As if she can read my mind, or hear the funny voices when I read in Farmer Boggis’s voice, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz posted me a trio of samples all the way from Boulder Colorado: you know, where Mork and Mindy lived.

So what does Foxy smell like and is it as fantastic as Mr Fox himself? Well, read on.

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Photo from tygertale.com

Foxy instantly smells like a vintage scent. I don’t know how Dawn does this, but usually you have to buy fragrance that’s about 70 years old to get this kind of ambery aged lushness.

The amber smells almost rusty, which seems appropriate when you think of the name of the scent.  There are flowers, although they don’t dominate. I detected jasmine and spiky, peppery carnation. There are spicy herbs and a little heat from ginger, and a fun note of apple brandy, made by and drunk by Farmer Bean from the book, who drinks only cider and never eats.

foxy samples

The final flourish has definite notes of oak moss mingling with the amber, to give this an animalic, rustic heat.  I am often to be found with my face buried in the flank of a sleeping cat and this warm fuzzy finish certainly reminded me of that.  The big star here though, is amber. It’s there at the start, in the middle and at the end. The amber adds a cosy warmth and showcases all the other notes within its embrace.

Foxy is fantastically Foxy.  Let it transform you into a twenty first century fox with a retro twist and a crafty twinkle in your eye.

Stockists

You can buy Foxy from the DSH Perfumes website, which also provides an excellent sample service. My sample was from Dawn herself, for which, my warmest thanks. Opinions are my own.

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Dear Aunty Sam: Your Perfume Problems Answered-Part Three

evelyn de morgan
Evelyn de Morgan, The Love Potion

Well, this HAS been popular. I asked you to send in your perfume problems and you did and now we’re back for part three like olfactory gluttons.  This week I’ll be looking at how to make Green Tea fragrances last longer and whether old perfume is OK to wear.

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Reader Jane McLeod wrote to me and said:

Dear Aunty Sam,

I’m delighted to hear that green notes are coming back! My favourite note in perfume is the tea note, but despite an on/off relationship with both Bvlgari’s The Vert and Arden’s Green Tea they never last on my skin. I’ve hunted many tea perfumes down, but no luck. Sorry to send you back to yourAunty Sam role of the previous few blogs, but is there any tea fragrance that does last on the skin I wonder?

Jane

Dear Jane,

Please don’t be sorry, I love being Aunty Sam!  Green Tea is one of those light hesperide notes fuji-green-tea-eau-de-cologne-1-640x640that needs anchoring to stay put.

The perfect perfume brand for you would be Atelier Cologne. They take all these wonderful light notes that we love from colognes and use super long lasting ingredients that means even a citrus scent stays citrussy for up to 9 hours.  You might like to try Atelier Cologne Oolong Infini. It’s a long lasting tea scent, although I don’t it’s Green Tea.  Failing that, spray your usual Green Tea scent on clothes, collars, scarves, sleeves and/or hair.

atelier-cologne-oolang-infini-perfume-unisex___2 (1)Fabric often carries scent for longer than skin. You might like to try the new Body Shop  Fuji Green Tea range.  With lots of body products, you can layer and build your green tea scent for  a longer lasting result.

 

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Dear Aunty Sam,

joyimageI have a general perfume question. Does perfume ever go off?

I have a few bottles of scent, not all strictly perfume, but ranging from body spray to actual Eau de Parfum, which are open and which I’ve realized have been open for years.  Medal of honour goes to a bottle of Joy by Jean Patou, a present from my Mum which is so gorgeous I’ve been saving it for special occasions – so much so that this bottle is coming up to seven years old.  I must use it more often!

Does it matter? If they still smell nice in the bottle, are they safe to use?

Love from Eleanor

rsz_dr_sam (1) My dear Eleanor,

Now that’s a very interesting question and the answer is yes and no.

I have some wonderful vintage Balmain Jolie Madame that looks as if it’s over 50 years old. It still smells great.  On the other hand, I recently bought a discontinued Body Shop fragrance called Aqua Lily from a car boots sale, which was most definitely “off” despite it being only a few years old.  There was a scorched smell that didn’t lessen or go away.

vintage perfumeThe answer lies in storage. I f a scent has been kept in its box and fairly cool or at room temperature,  it should be OK. If it’s been kept out of a box and stored on a windowsill or in direct sunlight, as I suspect my Body Shop find was, then it probably won’t be.

As a rule, many vintage scents were made before the seismic regulations of IFRA banned any remotely harmful ingredients, which means that nobody can guarantee vintage won’t give you a rash, so do a patch test first.  The other advice applies to food past its best before as well as scent: use your nose. If it smells good, it probably is good.

PS Don’t save it for special occasions- wear it all the time!

Over to you

One thing I get asked most often is about smellalikes. Readers are often looking for a close match to a discontinued favourite, or a budget friendly match to a pricey special occasion scent. Either way, I’m your woman, so do write in if you have a question on any aspect of fragrance.

I always love to hear from you.

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Five Decades of #Scent Memories: National Fragrance Day 2017

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Dear reader, I am now in my fifth decade and due to toast the start of my sixth in 2020 when I turn 50.

To me, scent is like a Tardis. It takes you back in time so fast that you can be stepping out the Tardis door into 1976 after one whiff of Panache.  More instantly evocative than a photograph or a song,  a fragrance can whisk you back to the scent of the primary school teacher whose name you forget, but whose perfume you can recall as if a switch has been flicked in your head.

Please join me on my mini odyssey through the smell of the 70s, 80s, 90s, Noughties and Twenteens and do share your #scentmemories below.

The Smell of the 1970s.

1970s

I was born in 1970. The first ten years of my life can be summed up, at least in the olfactory sense, as a combination of cigarette smoke (not mine), the smell of a roast cooking, mud, ferns, bluebells, Woogiraffedleigh Green Apple Shampoo, Avon Pretty Peach and Avon Occur, in a giraffe shaped bottle, no less. Quite how giraffes and perfume go together, I never thought to question, but he literally had some brass neck.

My teachers wore Cacharel Anais Anais, which hasn’t changed to this day, as long as you sidestep the “Delice” version. I can’t remember what scent my mother wore, but she always smelled nice.  My grandmother wore Coty L’Aimant, which I didn’t recognise then, but which moves me to gusty sighs of melancholy  now she isn’t here.

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The Smell of the 1980s.

Formative years mean a thirst to both stand out and blend in at the same time. I was groping for an identity and slowly moving into and out of adolescence. It was 1981 before I gradually weaned myself off

sindyplaying with Sindy dolls. I can still vividly recall the smell of the vinyl heads and strange nylon hair, inevitably knotted to all hell within a week of ownership.

My first ever scent that I paid for myself was a splash bottle of Bluebell perfume from Boots No 7. Long since discontinued, I have sought that bluebell scent ever since.  My mother bought me a bottle of Jontue from a trip she went on, and one Christmas I had a bottle of Cachet.  I wore this A LOT.  I also remember Avon Eau Givreé: a beautiful green hesperide that has long since been discontinued.

My teens saw me receive my first ever bottle of proper fragrance from my father for my 18th birthday. It was Estee Lauder Beautiful and I still love it now. 1988 saw me leave home at go to Exeter Uni, where the most memorable scents were Marlboro cigarettes, red wine and lashings of Cacharel LouLou.

1980s collage

Meanwhile, over in Denver Colorado, Alexis Carrington was cracking the whip.  Excess, big shoulder pads, big hair and big smells were all the rage.  On the High Street, there was the unmistakable cloud of Giorgio Beverly Hills and a miasma of Dior Poison mingled with Body Shop White Musk and Dewberry. The Nightclubs smelled of Calvin Klein Obsession, and my one little egg shaped bottle took me into the 1990s.

The Smell of the 1990s

The caring, sharing Nineties sobered everyone up and made us wear ozonic scents in an urge to cleanse ourselves of the Eighties excesses. All my friends smelled of Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey, which is no bad thing. I had discovered Chanel Cristalle, also a light scent that was the opposite side of the spectrum to Poison, Obsession and Giorgio. The 1990s saw me graduate and move to London, which smelled very different to Devon.  London air is thicker, dirtier and there were more cigarettes smoked and more traffic fumes, but reader, to me it was the smell of freedom and wonder and possibility.

collage 1990s

1992 saw the launch of the iconic Thierry Mugler Angel. I remember smelling it for the first time in Harrods Perfume Hall and thinking “but why would I want to smell like chocolate?” I appreciate it now of course, for the multi-faceted classic it is, but back then it was revolutionary among the ozonic and airy fairy Nineties scents. Meanwhile, in 1997, Gucci launched the now much-mourned Gucci Envy.  So good was this floral green scent with a vein of metal running through it, that I dumped Cristalle and remained almost exclusive to Gucci Envy until it was cruelly taken from us in 2007.

The Smell of The Noughties

The Noughties saw a revolution in celebrity fragrance.  Elizabeth Taylor had been churning them out since 1991, but they were largely seen as fan fodder until 2002 when Jennifer Lopez launched the brilliant Glow. It was a clean, white fragrance that pleased the crowds and began a snowball of celebrity fragrances taking off.  Britney Spears got in on it, as did many of her contemporaries and soon the perfumeries were chock full of celeb scents. Sarah Jessica Parker brought new possibilities with SJP Lovely and some of the snobbery dissipated when we realised that celebrity stuff can be pretty darn good. (I’m still a celeb scent geek)

noughties collage

The noughties also mark the only two years of my adult life where I have been without any fragrance and that’s because I had my sons during that decade.  Their first scent memory is of my skin.  No deodorant, no perfume, just me.  It wasn’t easy getting those babies, but it was worth it.

The Smell of the Twenteens

Now things really start to spice up. I started my blog on January 2nd 2013. It was a combination of an urge to write and a channel for my reawakened perfume passion. This was brought about by a lean period, during which Chanel was very much out of reach.  As a result, I developed a bit of a cheap and cheerful habit as my receipts from allbeauty.com will attest.  From that, and the three huge boxes of samples that dear Lisa Jones let me borrow, the floodgates opened.

twenteens

The biggest scent launch of the Twenteens has to be the seminal Lancome La Vie est Belle. The fruity floral explosion of the early ‘teens segued into a river of caramel and praline   Hot on its heels was YSL Black Opium , which dismayed many Opium fans, but brought a  cohort of new fans to the brand.

In recent  times, I’ve been coming across the semi-ubiquitous jasmine sambac note that  seems to be so popular right now.  You can find it in  Paco Rabanne Olympea,  Givenchy Dahlia Divin and Versace Eros. The big launch of 2017 is Mon Guerlain, and whilst it’s not my cup of tea, I do harbour hopes that it will  lead us into a big lavender  trend.

As we point in the direction of 2020, I’m looking forward to the alleged forthcoming trends of milk notes, peony and a renaissance of my favourite genre: green notes.

Interestingly, celebrity fragrance sales are on the wane, but guess what’s on the up?  Niche perfume.  Which is very good news indeedy.

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How about you?

What scents bring back instant memories for you?  It doesn’t matter how random or everyday they are, I always love to hear from you.

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Marina Barcenilla Patchouli Clouds: There’s Patchouli, and then there’s Patchouli…

patchouli clouds

One of the many highlights of my trip to the Jasmine Awards was the lovely surprise of bumping into Marina Barcenilla of MB Parfums. I had reviewed Marina’s beautiful scent India only last week, and in fact she had a phial of India body oil in her bag for me as a gift. Marina is as delightful as I’d imagined and it is a pleasure to write about her beautiful scents. Today I’m going to review MB Parfums Patchouli Clouds, because it stopped me in my tracks and made me say “Wow” out loud to an empty room.

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Fragrantica

Patchouli is a big old spectrum. The patchouli you find in the base notes of say, Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, will be nothing like the unctuous oil you might have bought in the 70s or 80s ( if you are as old as I am), but it’s all patchouli, in some form.

Patchouli Clouds has a wonderful mixture of spice, citrus,  and damp woods. It starts off as an almost musty wet wood, and calms down into a beautifully aromatic earthiness that made me think of forests after the rain and slightly rotten wood.  Believe it or not, I mean that in a good way.  I love the smell of wood in all its stages: crumbly, freshly sawn, still with the bark on: you name it, I like it. There are flowers too: I found jasmine and roses entwined among the earthy bark.

mb parfums allIn Patchouli Clouds, the scent has more in common with the oils from the Indian joss stick stall in Newport market that I hung around in during my teens.  You know the sort of place: you could buy floaty skirts with tiny mirrored sequins on and leather purses with elephants on the front.  The patchouli you could buy there was not in fancy packaging and it smelled more authentic and natural than anything I’ve ever sniffed over a pristine beauty counter.

Patchouli Clouds reinvents that in a less primitive way.  It still has the patchouli kick of earthiness I seek, but it’s blended beautifully with rich florals and incense to ensure that the star of the show really shines with the right chorus in the background.

Stockists

MB Perfumes Patchouli Clouds is available from the  MB Parfums website, which also has a good sample service. My sample is from Marina herself, for which, many thanks. Opinions are my own.

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