Category Archives: Scent

Top Ten Perfumes Under Ten Pounds 2018

If you’re anything like me in January, your credit card won’t be speaking to you and you’ll be searching coat pockets for loose change and forgotten fivers. It’s as traditional as losing the scissors when wrapping presents.

If you’re a perfume fan and feeling frugal, I bring glad tidings. There are perfumes out there that cost under ten quid and smell good. You heard me. It’s true. In fact, the majority of perfumes I reach for on a day to day basis are often cheap and cheerfuls that I don’t mind running out of and can be easily replaced.

So, my friends, clutch your tenners and follow me as I tell you about my top ten fragrances under ten pounds.

  1. Coty L’Aimant.

My £5.99 bottle reminds me of my late grandmother, who was such a lady and never went shopping without a brooch and a scarf.  She was class all the way and loved Coty L’Aimant. She was born around the time it came out in 1927 and wore it to dances in the war. It was made in similar style to the newly launched Chanel No 5 which had come out three years earlier in 1924, and smells very similar. I also adore the Art Deco bottle and deep pink box with the gold edging. All this for under ten quid.

  1. Elizabeth Arden Green Tea

Whether you opt for the pillar scent (which is a classic) or any of the excellent flankers, the Elizabeth Arden Green Tea range is a safe bet. Light, feminine, inoffensive, floral and citrussy, they make ideal summer or office perfume and almost always cost under ten quid, unless you see them in Duty Free where they cost a lot more. I particularly like Green Tea Revitalize and Green Tea Exotic

  1. Alyssa Ashley Musk

This is a perfect pocket money perfume that smells amazing, gets compliments and has a subtle but pretty sillage.  It was particularly popular in the 1970s but has a lot to offer the woman of 2018. It’s a warm, light, cosy musk that makes people want to nuzzle you. You can buy it here.

  1. Bronnley Eclectic Elements range

This range of fragrances was created to attract a younger crowd to Bronnley, and I’m certainly a fan of both the classic stuff and the Eclectic Elements Range.  In other words, I’m a dream customer. Bronnley gets my seal of approval for making rollerball fragrances. Although rollerballs are plentiful in Europe and the USA, they’re harder to get in the UK, so I’m hoping more brands will do this. The rollerballs are priced at under ten pounds, but if you go onto allbeauty.com today and sniff out their sale, you can find 50ml eau de toilettes at £10 too, although that’s sale price, not usual price.

  1. Yves Rocher Plaisirs Nature Range

My SOTD today is a little 20ml bottle of Yves Rocher Orange Flower-Lavender- Petitgrain EDT. It cost me £7.99 and I got two for the price of one. It’s wonderfully uplifting and pretty and combines white flowers with juicy nuances of orange and calming lavender. I also have the Mandarin, Lemon and Cedar, which is equally good and equally cheap. Check out my review here.

  1. Trust Yardley

The Yardley Collection of simple floral eau de toilettes are hard to beat. I own Yardley April Violets, Yardley English Rose and Yardley English Lavender. I wear them alone or for layering and I get compliments every single time I wear the rose.  The violet helps me “violet-up” fragrances that I feel are missing that…well, that violet note. I also recommend the Lily of The Valley and the Freesia. You can buy them here or in Boots.

  1. Avon Calling!

Of course, I can’t write about bargain fragrances without mentioning my old friend Avon.  Avon is my Go-To guilt free brand. I own about six and my favourites are Avon Perceive OasisFar Away Bella and Rare Platinum, which is a gorgeous tuberose and grapefruit combo. Every brochure has a bargain and I never need to wait long until my favourite is £6 or £7. I’ve converted several friends too. The list of perfumers who have worked for Avon reads like a Who’s Who of the Industry: Christine Nagel, Olivier Cresp and Christopher Sheldrake are just three that I can think of off the top of my head.  It’s a guilt free win/win pleasure. Here’s the link.  Products vary seasonally so if your favourite isn’t around this week, come back and check again.

8. Go Old Skool

amazon.co.uk 

By old school, I mean take a second at what your Mum wore growing up.

If I told you that Tweed reminded me a little of Jicky, would you be shocked? It does.

How about if I told you that Taylor of London Chique is a fabulous earthy, woody chypre that has much in common with Estee Lauder Knowing?

Neither are dupes, but both deserve more love and recognition. I’m also a big fan of Panache and I’ve only now finished a £3.99 bottle that gave me twelve hours longevity after two morning sprays. I have found all of these bottle for well under ten pounds, and even under five pounds. Try allbeauty.com or Fragrance Direct.

  1. Al Aneeq, Crown Perfumes and Al Rehab.

These are all brands that sell rollerballs of high quality, no alcohol fragrance.  I own the White Musk and the Al Aneeq Violet, which is a big generator of compliments. (“Yum. I smell Parma Violets!”). Prices start at £1.99 for the delectable Choco Musk, and my trusty 10ml (very strong) violet rollerball was 3.99. Find them on Amazon or eBay. Great for handbags.  Prices vary.

  1. Marks and Spencer

And so, we arrive at the perfume shelves of Marks and Spencer. Your ten-pound note will serve you well here.  First of all, there are delicious 10ml  and 30ml purse-size sprays such as Autograph Blush (light roses and violets, powdery finish, ultra-feminine, not too sweet) or the new Belle.  I’ve also seen White Orchid and New York in purse spray sizes in store too. Then of course, there’s the classic pillar fragrance Florentyna, which I reviewed last year. Both flankers are worth a look too and any of them will give you change from your tenner.

How about you?

What are your favourite cheap and cheerfuls? Do you have any under a tenner? Do drop in and tell me . I always love to hear from you.

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Jack by Richard E Grant: My Review

Photo from richard-e-grant.com

There are celebrity perfumes and then are perfume lovers who make perfume and also happen to be celebrities.  Richard E Grant created his own perfume brand and also happens to be an actor, writer and director. As much as I love a good sleb bargain, they are usually about noughts and dollar signs and not usually driven by a lifelong love of all things olfactory. Jack very much falls into the latter category,  and is the culmination of Richard’s self-confessed obsession with scent and all its visceral triggers.

Backstory

Manchester Evening News

First of all, the creation of Jack Perfume was coaxed out of him by the incredible Anya Hindmarch (yes, the creator of the handbag brand). It was when she stumbled across him with his nose in a gardenia bush that she more or less asked him if there was anything he needed to talk about?  You can the read the full story on the Jack blog.

Secondly, and this sets Jack apart from many celeb scents, Richard funded this himself.  He risked his own money, (after all, we may have hated it), and  tracked down the right people so he could scratch this itch that wouldn’t quit.  (I’m sorry for the imagery there, I’m trying to think of a more elegant way of saying that.)

The result of Anya Hindmarch’s nudge in the ribs and pep talk, and of Richard’s drive and passion, is Jack Perfume, which I am reviewing today.  There are now two more in the series, Jack Covent Garden and Jack Piccadilly, which I shall review presently.

Now I’m a bit late to the party having only just got around to getting my mitts on these. Cwmbran is not a hub for perfume samples, unless you count my four mini suitcases in the dining room. It’s never too late to review a scent though, so here we go.

So What Does Jack Smell Like?

Jack opens with an immediate and thirst quenching blend of mandarin and lime. One dab has my son asking if I “have sherbet over there.”   It’s delightfully refreshing and  a great first impression.

There is a cannabis in the opening symphony too. How could it be left out after Richard’s iconic role in Withnail and I? I cannot say the name of the film without so many quotes flying into my head, I fear I may bore you if I don’t get back on track.  Rather than being a joint the size of a large carrot (as in the film) the cannabis is a light herbal touch, slightly earthy and grassy and rather pleasant: its not unlike vetiver, which is also here.

The cloves come in shortly after that, accompanied by nutmeg, giving this a wonderfully aromatic spiced wood warmth.  The lime and mandarin from the opening act seem to cut through the richness of the pepper, oud, resins and woods, which stops this from getting too dark or too rich. There are clean musk nuances in the finish and the sniffability factor goes off the scale.  I can’t seem to type more than three words without having another sniff.

Jack is a wonderful unisex fragrance that would serve you in summer or winter. It is a scent of contrasts: dark and light, with a glossy wooden shell and a soft belly.   My overall impression is that this is very much a feel good scent.  It’s both uplifting and  cosy, like a hug, and  I shall be ordering several gallons.

Stockists

You can buy Jack from Liberty  in London, as well as in Europe and the USA. See here for a full list. My samples were kindly sent to me by Richard E Grant, for which, my warmest thanks.  I completely failed to be cool when I received them.

 
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Avon For Men: Three Of My Favourites ( And bargains all!)

Avon

As you may have noticed, I’m a die hard Avon fan and have  written so many Avon reviews that I should get some sort of badge or professorship or something. What I haven’t mentioned much is how good the men’s fragrances are.  The price point is kept low  and yet quality is not compromised.

I’ve reviewed three of my favourites here, but there are many more worth a try, and even blind buys won’t break the bank.

Avon

Avon Attraction for Men

First of all, let’s clear this up. The male version of Attraction does not smell even remotely related to the female counterpart, which is a fruity floral with a patchouli base. Oh wait, hang on, there is patchouli in both male and female versions. Hold the phone. Right, but apart from that, Avon Attraction for Him is not similar, but that’s not to say it’s not good either. It is good. In fact, for the tiny price that Avon asks for it, it’s pretty damned good indeed.

 Avon Attraction for Men opens with cardamom and ginger. There’s also juniper, which makes this smell a bit like gin, but that’s OK.  After that, the clary sage came out.  Now, I sometimes have a problem with clary sage as it does have a tendency to show its muscles to everyone, and I have to say, this is no exception. It’s kind of got a fougere thing going on, with bits of lavender and herb garden, only more medicinal. The clary sage kind of takes over and hits a peak before dying down into a clean, shaving foam style spicy skin scent with hints of clean musk.  All in all, it’s quite an adventure for under a tenner. Lasting power is about four hours on my skin, longer on my husband’s furry forearm.

With thanks to the Avon PR team who sent me this with no conditions attached. Opinions are my own.

Avon Destination Grand Canyon

For a mere fiver, I bought this for my husband for Christmas.  Reader, I had an ulterior motive. I wanted it for myself but couldn’t justify yet more bottles popping up on the old dressing table.  Destination Grand Canyon is a fabulously woody, wood scent with lots of woody woodiness. What I love about this is that the almost ubiquitous violet leaf note that is inserted into so many mainstream masculines, is  a no show here.  You might know what I mean. Many over the counter male fragrances have a synthetic metallic tang in the base that can be very off putting. To me it reminds me of jangly tooth fillings.  In Avon Destination Grand Canyon however, it is about sharp citrus (grapefruit) woods, and  a hint of tangy patchouli musk in the base.  Don’t forget the elemi, also used in cough mixture, but fabulous for giving a deep gravelly voice to woody scents.

Many Fragrantica readers have likened this to the legendary Hermes Terre D’Hermes, and my friends, they are right. Longevity is fabulous and the price is small. I shall be borrowing my husband’s Christmas present until it is all gone and he will need another bottle for Father’s Day.

Avon Elite Gentleman Weekend

Avon Elite Gentleman Weekend is a flanker to the pillar scent, Avon Elite Gentleman and was launched in 2016. It opens with the sharp fresh green scent of cypress- or conifer to you and I. If you’ve ever rubbed a bit of conifer between your hands and sniffed (and who hasn’t, right? It’s not just me is it?) you’ll know the sappy, sharp green scent I mean. There’s grapefruit too- surely the zingiest of all zingy notes.  So far, so shower fresh.  After that there’s a burst of fougere style lavender, and the faintly metallic tang of the ‘ole violet leaf.

Avon

The violet leaf is quickly blanketed with warm spicy cardamom which lines the way for a leathery labdanum finish. All in all, not bad at all, especially for the tiny price.  I don’t know enough about male fragrances to compare this to anything, but I will say that it is easily as good as several male fragrances I have tried over the counter in The Fragrance Shop.

Elite Gentleman Weekend is overall a refreshing green scent, with a hint of lavender that calms down into leathery woods as the day goes on. Longevity is pretty good at four hours. Jamie Redknapp is the face of the scent.

With thanks to the Avon PR Team who sent me this with no conditions attached.

Over to you

How about you? Have you tried any Avon men’s fragrances? Does this post make you want to or have I put you off? Tell me about any male scent bargains I don’t know about yet!

Stockists

You can buy all of these fragrances from Avon UK or from your Avon rep if you have one.  Avon Destination Grand Canyon is currently not on Avon UK, but you can buy it from Amazon or eBay. At the time of publishing and or purchasing, prices were: £5 for Avon Destination Grand Canyon (brochure only), £7 for Avon Elite Gentleman Weekend and £11 for Avon Attraction.

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The ISCENT Awards and Review of 2017

 

Welcome to the I Scents 2017! Find your seat. The drinks will be around in a minute. I hope you’ve got your glad rags on and are ready for a fragrant bonanza.

2017 has been a very interesting year for fragrance, with even the big hitters bringing out major new launches.  If I’m honest, I found far more to love in the world of niche and indie than I did over the beauty counters.  I also had some wonderful real-life perfume experience to break the loneliness of the long distance blogger.  It was a delight to meet up with Sarah McCartney, Jo Fairley, Suzy Nightingale (albeit briefly in the toilets at the Jasmines!), Marina Barcenilla, Ruth Mastenbroek, Stephan Matthews, Thomas Dunckley, Persolaise and Nick Gilbert.  If that sounds like star struck name dropping, that’s because it is.

Ladies and gentlemen, here are the awards, presented by your hostess, Samantha Scriven (applause. Whooping. Wolf whistles.)

Best mainstream

I was moved by very few mainstream launches this year and we saw some big ones come from Chanel, Mugler, Jean Paul Gaultier and Guerlain. Whilst I liked Chanel Gabrielle, I didn’t think it was worth the high price and I found longevity very poor at around an hour.  Can’t stop singing the Beyoncé song from the fabulous advert though.

There were, however four launches that really made me sit up and take notice. I’m not even going to pick a favourite, because they all were. If you pushed me into owning just one though, it would be Alberto Morillas’ Gucci Bloom for Gucci. I’m a sucker for a bunch of white flowers at the best of times and I’m pleased to see them hopefully capturing some new hearts with this beautiful scent and stunning campaign.

Gucci Bloom -winner

Gucci  really made me sit up  and take notice with this one. I have been in a sulk with them since envy was scrapped, but they may be back in my good books again. Gucci Bloom is a wonderful white flower fragrance that is unapologetically feminine and floral.  I love that it takes floral scents back to basics,  stripping away all sugary artifice, whilst showcasing all the best bits of nature. Read my rave review here.

Cartier Baiser Fou

Baiser Fou is the flanker to lily based pillar scent Cartier Baiser Vole, and in my opinion, the better of the two.  Baiser Fou is all about  raspberries, Milky Bars and posh lipstick.  I love this playful and lovable scent, which always makes me think of summer weddings. My review is here.

Mugler Aura

It’s not very often Mugler brings out a brand new pillar scent, although flankers are frequent.  Aura is one of the most wearable Muglers.  It doesn’t have the nuclear sillage of Angel or Alien, nor the  divisive  love/hate of the discontinued Womanity (shudder).  However, with new notes of Tiger Liana (my future stripper name) and Wolfwood, this makes for an unusual and audacious scent. You can read my review here.

La Vie Est Belle L’Eclat

from Lancome UK

Whilst I feel Lancome La Vie est Belle has become ubiquitous, spawning many homages and dupes in its wake, La Vie est Belle L’Eclat offers something new.

The floral notes are there but the sugary caramel of the pillar fragrance  has been toned down, leaving a rather classy floral scent, with a hint of sweetness. The bottle is stunning too- I can’t stop touching the elaborate chiselled glass.  Lancôme, I salute you.

 Fragrances I Can’t Live Without

It is frankly impossible to only issue one award in this category.  It’s like asking me which is my favourite cat (don’t).  To choose one implies I don’t love the others as much, and that’s not true.  I have therefore listed the fragrances I fell headlong in love with in 2017.  If you have to take away my whole collection, just leave me these and I’ll be happy.

Aftelier Velvet Tuberose

4160 Tuesdays Killer Rose 

4160 Tuesdays Eau My Soul

Photo by Thomas Dunckley for Papillon Perfumery

Papillon Dryad

Marina Barcenilla India

DSH French Lily

Ruth Mastenbroek Firedance

Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium

Best New Perfume House 2017

Gallivant -winner

Nick Steward founded Gallivant with years of experience in his pocket from his previous tenure at L’Artisan Parfumeur. Basing each scent on a city vibe, Nick has created a scent wardrobe that takes you all around the world. What I like about this brand is that he hasn’t gone for the obvious, but has suggested the unseen underbelly of a city.  He’s gone for Brooklyn rather than Central Park and has given Tel Aviv a feel-good optimism. Gallivant is innovative, evocative and original. I look forward to seeing more from this exciting new house.

Best bargain brand

Bargain perfumes are my speciality. I believe that everyone should be able to have affordable perfume and I eschew all snobbery on my blog. In fact, the perfume I reached for most often in 2017 was my trusty £5.99 of Coty L’Aimant.

Avon-Winner

Avon has been producing some wonderful fragrances that whilst recognisably Avon, are bang on trend and can easily stand shoulder to shoulder with more expensive mainstream brands. In fact, the list of perfumers that have worked for Avon read like a Who’s Who of fragrance; Christopher Sheldrake, Oliver Cresp and Sonia Constant to name but three. Most of my Avon fragrances cost me around £7. Unbeatable.

Bronnley

Some superb fragrances from Bronnley who are shaking up their image to attract the younger scent buyer. Whilst I will always be a fan of the classic lemon soaps and floral bath goodies, (don’t ever stop making them!) there are now innovative roller balls and  50ml eau de toilettes in the Eclectic Elements range. My particular favourites are Wild Green and Exotic Embers. The prices are right too with 30ml eau fraiche bottles, rollerballs and candles all within the £10 range (prices are current as from day of publishing this).

Marks and Spencer

My local Marks and Spencer is next door to The Perfume Shop and I find myself in  there far more often than I find myself in the Perfume Shop.  Also, The Perfume Shop deletes all your loyalty points if you don’t use them fast enough, which doesn’t make me feel very loyal anymore.  Marks and Spencer hosts some of my favourite brands such as Fragonard and Monotheme, but their own brand stuff is pretty good too. I’m a big fan of Autograph Blush, Florentyna White and Rosie by Rosie Huntington Whitely. With 10ml purse sprays starting from a fiver, you can cheer yourself up without breaking the bank.

Yves Rocher

My beloved Yves Rocher! Whenever I order from them, I am always sent a free gift (usually something good like perfume) three samples, some sort of BOGOF deal and usually some sort of little surprise or purse spray. I am currently awaiting an order in which I spent £30 and will be receiving four bottles of perfume, a Swarovksi necklace and three samples.  This is not because I am a blogger, but because I am a customer and they are all treated this well. Fragrance quality is very high and I have never been disappointed. Check out my most recent Yves Rocher review here.

 Perfume Superstars Award

The Perfume Society

The Perfume Society

For the second year in a row I hail the beloved Mothership.  The Perfume Society not only hosts workshops and events that are a delight to attend, but I have an addiction to the Discovery Boxes which always, without fail, introduce me to a scent or brands I have never come across before.  Alexander Pope once declared that the point of literature was to instruct delightfully and The Perfume Society certainly fulfill this edict. The Scented Letter is a brilliant read, with breathtakingly good visuals and superb guest writers.  The latest Discovery Box I had even contained Green & Black’s Chocolate. chocolate. #dreamcometrue

2017 Highlights

I’m giving all of these equal placing because every one is indelibly engraved into my memory for when I’m an old lady and don’t get out much.

The Jasmine Awards

What can I say? Such an honour to be a finalist and such a day of contrasts. I began my day at BAFTA, followed by tea at the former Simpsons on The Strand with Sarah McCartney and Ruth Mastenbroek and ended it with the 3.15pm school run in Cwmbran.  Unforgettable! You can read about it here.

FiFis

I shall remember my night at the Fragrance Foundation awards for many years to come. I was invited as a guest of Clive Christian fragrance and the team made me feel so welcome. I got to wear a long dress, which doesn’t happen very often to me anymore, and mingle with the movers and shakers in the Fragrance World. It also marked the start of a friendship with FiFi winner Marina Barcenilla and the lovely Stephan Matthews.

photo by kind permission of Sarah McCartney

The Perfume Society Improve your Sense of Smell Workshop

Photo courtesy of The Perfume Society.

The Perfume Society held a workshop fairly near-ish to me in Clifton.  Since this is nearer than London, it was easy for me to attend, being across the water from South Wales (we have up to two bridges now).

I learnt so much in that afternoon  from Perfume Society Founder Jo Fairley, and would wholeheartedly recommend these workshops to anyone, even if you’ve been before!  Read my review of the day here.

Also featured in…

Check me out! I feel wanted and special. I got to work with all these delightful people this year and feel extremely flattered to be on their radar.

Stephan Matthews

Stephan’s Six- I join the ranks of hallowed predecessors and felt very flattered to be included in this legendary column.

Escentual.com

Escentual-  Perfume Expert Thomas Dunckley, (aka The Candy Perfume Boy)   called me a perfume expert too! I’m not in the same league as  Thomas, but I am thrilled to bits anyway. This is where I give my opinion on the most Christmassy perfume ever: Serge Lutens Arabie.  The photo is Thomas’s own.

 

My Beauty Matches– I’ve written several pieces for My Beauty Matches. You can check them out here and here.  A lovely team of people.

 

WOW Beauty– the amazing Denise of Wow beauty asked me to contribute to her fabulous site and I was delighted to join the fun. If you haven’t checked it out, do drop in. Such a lovely environment!

 

Collaborated with…Moodscent Four

This year saw me collaborate with  my wonderful Mood Scent Four colleagues, Esperanza, Tara and Megan. It was all Megan’s idea, so blame her. Megan is a Kiwi, based in the south of France  (meganinstsemaxime) and came up with the idea that four bloggers from four different countries could share their perfume recommendations for different moods and occasions. Every few months we all write about what to wear as a wedding guest, what scent to wear when uplifting is called for, and most recently, our favourite Night Out perfumes. They’re a joy to work with and I am honoured to be their colleague.

Over to you

What were your perfume highlights of 2017? What are you hoping to see more of in 2018? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year and thank you for taking the time and trouble to read my blog posts and follow what I’m up to. it would be very lonely without you all and each one of you is appreciated.

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Falling Through the Chypre Portal

Marie Helene Arnaud in Chanel from Marie Claire

As I drench myself in Papillon Dryad (ensuring full 36 hour coverage, I’m not kidding) I breathe a sigh of relief that I managed to make it through the chypre portal and didn’t miss out on a fragrance genre that is now essential to the finished  “Me” when I leave the house each day.  Clothes, to me, are less important than scent. If it’s black and it’s clean I’ll wear it. In summer, stripes. That’s it.

Photo by Thomas Dunckley for Papillon Perfumery

My scent however, speaks for me more than the black slash neck tops I own six times over. Chypres to me, speak of Dior’s New Look, Cecil Beaton’s photography, fur stoles, lost eras, face powder, lipstick on a wine glass. Gloves. They speak to the teenager inside me, who sat in a bedroom in Cwmbran, flicking through a hardback book of Vogue covers and thinking that glamorous world was still out there for the taking.

Prior to becoming a blogger I often labelled chypres as Old Lady perfumes, a term that makes me twitch now and which I have banned from my blog. To me, chypres were those musty, powdery scents that made me think of Dame Edith Evans rather than Anais Nin.

So how did it change? Well I was enabled and pushed through the chypre portal like a nervy parachutist by my friend Lisa, who knows much more about perfume than me.  Everyone needs a fairy Godmother in the Fragrant Firmament and Lisa was mine.

Lisa plonked her bottles of Balmain Jolie Madame and Balmain de Balmain in their fading cardboard boxes onto my table and let me spray and judge. I duly sprayed and I duly judged. Something happened. The fragrance, was somehow, put in context all of a sudden. The penny dropped. The band began to play and the ticker tape parade began.

This scent, right here, that mossy, earthy scent, suddenly turned me into the woman I wanted to be from the elegant line drawings of my Vogue book. It made me join Dorothy Parker’s Round Table, it made me strut like Renee Breton in Dior, it made me wreathe my fur stole in cigarette smoke and immerse myself in other decades, far away from the fast-moving digital era in which I found myself.

The Round Table at The Algonquin photo from NEA

Chypres connected me to the teen I used to be and to the beguiling, bohemian world I imagined in my bedroom in the early 80s.  No matter what I wear (black top, trousers), no matter what I do (school run, housework, blogging, cooking) and no matter where I am (not Paris) I still smell of the woman I dreamed of being. Who knew that a blend of oakmoss, patchouli, and bergamot ( and often labdanum) could conjure such a cloak around me?

Vogue

Chypres make me feel like me again. It puts me back in touch with the dreaming teen I was, despite that fact that the world has done its best to bring me down to earth. Chypres, along with Oscar Wilde, remind me that we are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars.

Discover Chypres on Your High Street

There are several excellent chypres that you can find on most High Streets. If you’re curious to find out more, check out Lancome Magie Noire,  Estee Lauder White Linen, Estee Lauder Knowing, Chanel Cristalle, Paloma Picasso by Paloma Picasso and Miss Dior Originale (make sure it is the Original and not the new Miss Dior with the bow on its neck).  If you smell all of those ( not all at once), you’ll start to see what they have in common. That earthy green, musty, powdery accord? There’s your chypre.

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Four Candles: The Best Candles at Christmas

Or is it Fork Handles? (If you like the Two Ronnies you’ll be nodding.) I’m going a bit off piste here and writing a post that’s not actually about a bottle of perfume. It’s still about fragrance though, and I’m dying to add a joke about waxing lyrical, but I won’t. Yes, my dear scented chums, today I’m writing about my absolute favourite candles. Do join me. There’s tea in the pot and a cat will be on your lap in just a moment. After this, I want you to tell me what your favourite candles are so I can tell Father Christmas to get me some too.

Crabtree and Evelyn White Cardamom

Crabtree and Evelyn can always be relied upon to produce fabulous scented goodies in irresistible packaging and this beautiful candle is no exception.  I chose White Cardamom. The thought of cardamom in a Christmas candle really appealed to me and this does not disappoint. The candle burns cleanly with no flickering or spitting and after a few minutes, a distinctly clean and spiced waft permeates the room. When I say spiced, I’m not talking about the mulled wine or mince pie kind of spice, but a kind of aromatic, nutty woody spice with a faint pine tree nuance. Actually, it reminded me slightly of my recent trip to the Celtic Manor spa. The aroma there was a waxy, clean, pine scent very much like this one. Delicious.  Also, you can get a room spray and a reed diffuser in the same range. Try the website.

Safety warning: If you spill a reed diffuser and you have cats, make sure it doesn’t get near their skin as it can really cause them some damage.  Keep our fluffy friends safe from seasonal harm! Also, don’t burn candles near tinsel. I’ve only done it for the photos and it made me nervous.

 

Parks London Gingerbread

This stood out as my absolute favourite. When I hear the word gingerbread I  always think it will smell like rich dense cake. Gourmand scents don’t particularly appeal to me for fear of smelling as if I’ve been cooking all day ( which I often have). Parks of London Gingerbread, however,  manages to take all the best bits of gingerbread i.e the warmth and the uplifting gingery spices, and add a dash of smoky woods to keep everything both spicy and fresh at the same time.  You can buy them here.

True Story: When this arrived in the post I put it on the mantel piece, unlit. When the kids got home the response was thus: “what’s that nice smell? Have you made cookies?” “What’s in the oven?”. This was before I had even lit the candle. It is the nicest candle I have ever owned.

photo from Clive Christian

 

Clive Christian 1872 

What a treat! Clive Christian candles! Due to budget anomalies, I can only admire this brand with my nose pressed against the glass, but I’m a big fan.

I recently received the 1872 top notes candle as a no-strings gift, but of course, I can’t resist telling you about it anyway. Clive Christian 1872 (see my review) smells very similar to the eau de parfum, but has a thicker quality to it, almost like a scented wool blanket. I’ve been keeping the candle next to my bed (again unlit) and the whole room smells as if I wear Clive Christian (I wish). The most prominent notes are the white florals and the mossy herbs and that’s before you light it. When lit, it gives 22 hours burn time and the floral notes come out on top. Utterly gorgeous. You can get these in a trio from here.

True story This may be the second time I’ve mentioned this, but I was lucky enough to meet Clive Christian’s daughter, Victoria at the FiFi’s in May. She was warm and engaging and smelled unbelievably gorgeous. She was wearing her initials: Clive Christian V and Clive Christian C.

Baylis and Harding Pink Prosecco and Cassis

From Clive Christian to Baylis and Harding, there’s something for all budgets here. This pink prosecco and cassis may sound slightly gimmicky (prosecco slogans are everywhere this Christmas) but actually it makes for a lightly floral and fruity scent that would go perfectly next to your bath. And a glass of prosecco. The candle is white and come in a glass jar.  I got mine from Amazon UK

Answers on a postcard If you have ever succeeded in using a candle jar as an actual jar after the candle has finished, please tell me how. I am convinced it is not possible.

Over to you

So that’s my favourite four candles, what are yours? How do you scent your home at Christmas? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

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How to Smell like Christmas

There are certain smells associated with Christmas that we don’t come across in the course of the ordinary year (i.e. the boring non-Christmas period). Now, I might be romanticising things here, but I have vivid Christmas memories of the exact smell of 1970s tinsel, the smell of roasting beef (we didn’t eat turkey) and Mum and Dad smoking all day. In the 1970s you were  encouraged to smoke all day and anywhere you pleased. Unimaginable now, I know, but the scent of cigarettes always takes me back to the family home back where chocolate advent calendars hadn’t been invented  and the internet was just a twinkle in the sky.

These days, any kind of foodie/boozy scent has me thinking wistfully of Christmas and I use it as an excuse to step outside my usual chypre scented comfort zone and into cosy, smoky gourmands.  Basically, I want to smell good enough to eat.

Here are five fragrances that have me salivating around Christmas time. They are rich, evocative, wintry and absolutely delicious. Dive in with me.  Sherry?

Zadig et Voltaire This Is Her

The plain white bottle from this achingly cool Parisian brand doesn’t look particular festive but it has dominant chestnut notes and lashings of whipped cream. This is an unusual fragrance, but I like it because of that.  They could have played it safe but no, they thought they’d confuse our brains with jasmine and chestnuts and whipped cream and cashmere wool and pink pepper and, did I say whipped cream? It sounds confusing but I promise you, this scent really works and I could happily plough through a whole bottle, and the body lotion and candle too. You can find it here.

4160 Tuesdays at Pitti

4160 Tuesdays Captured by Candlelight

With overtones of Cluedo and Agatha Christie in the intriguing title, this fragrance smells as Christmassy as a tangerine in the bottom of your pillow case. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a Christingle service, but it reminded me vividly of that. What happens is that children attend a simplified Christmas service in a church (an old one for preference) and each child is given an orange with a candle embedded in it. Jutting out of the orange are cocktail stick with little Haribo gummy sweets on. Combine the old wood of church pews with the orange, the sweets, the candlelight and the flask of Baileys you have in your bag, and you’ve got Captured by Candlelight. Check it out here on the 4160 website, which is dangerously tempting at this time of year.

Hypnotic Poison

Christmas isn’t Christmas without some sort of marzipan encounter.  Hypnotic poison allows you to carry that scent around on your skin. With rich, boozy vanilla and thick, rich almonds, Hypnotic Poison is hard to beat, and very long lasting. By the way, just holding the pumpkin shaped bottle feels like magic. I keep thinking its going to turn into a tiny coach at midnight.  You can buy it here.

Hermes Elixir des Merveilles

The nose behind Hermes Elixir des Merveilles is none other than legend Jean Claude Ellena.  Famous for his blending, which is often described as having the delicacy of a watercolour painting, Elixir des Merveilles is a gourmand that has the kind of mouth-watering appeal that never feels too rich for a second helping.  To my nose, this smells like caramelised oranges, but without any stickiness.  Imagine a crème brûlée with slightly seared bitter orange fruit.  I’m not usually a fan of gourmands, except at Christmas, obvs, but this one has me drooling with undisguised avarice. You can buy it here.

Yves Rocher Bourbon Vanilla

Never let it be said that I don’t cater for all budgets.  This cheap and cheerful vanilla scent from trusty Yves Rocher stopped me in my tracks and made me check the price again. Twice. This is a rich, golden vanilla scent that smacks of boozy vanilla liquor, rather than the more commonly found synthetic cupcake note that sometimes poses as vanilla.  Not, this one, though, No Sir. Yves Rocher Bourbon Vanilla will make everyone ask what you are wearing. Even the most curmudgeonly perfume resister will be unable to stop sniffing you. Don’t blame me. Blame Yves Rocher! Oh, and the price? My 30ml bottle was the princely sum of £3.99 five weeks ago.

How about you?

What will be wearing this Christmas? Something cosy? Something new? Do you always wear the same fragrance at Christmas? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

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Mood Scent Four: Night Out Perfumes

Photograph by kind permission of Alison Oddy of World of Oddy. Miss Meow and Lola-Showgirl

Moodscent Four is a collaboration between four bloggers from four different countries.  There’s Megan in France (who is actually from New Zealand), Esperanza in the Netherlands, Tara in England and me, Sam here in Wales.  Every few months, we all blog on the same theme and share what scents we use for different moods and occasions. There’s no right or wrong, and every time we collaborate I love to see what the others have written as we keep our choices a surprise form each other until the time of going to press.

This month, appropriately enough for Christmas-tide, it’s Night Out perfumes. Get your glad rags on, and get in a cab with us. It’s going to be a very fragrant ride.

 

My Favourite Night Out Perfumes

When an invite lands on the mat, or more likely these days, on Facebook Messenger, I find myself devoting far more time choosing my fragrance than I do my outfit (probably something black. Whatever’s clean).

Photo of the Folly Dollies by kind permission of Alison Oddy of World of Oddy photography.

To me, going out means getting the special favourites out.  I like to make an impact and when you’re hitting the town, that’s OK.  At night, you can let your inner vixen off the leash.

Here are my five favourite Night Out fragrances.  Don’t make me choose a favourite.  I must own all of these, always.

4160 Tuesdays Killer Rose

I recently wore this to an all-day wedding.  It’s my party scent and my favourite evening wear. It grew from the equally sublime 4160 Tuesdays Raw Silk and Red Roses.   Killer Rose is a version of that with the volume turned up.  There’s big red roses, earthy patchouli, a hint of peach and spice and I even get a waft of violets, which may or may not be there.  I often superimpose the smell of violets into fragrances since my brain wants to put them in everything, so it could be ghost violet!

This is the fragrance that my eight-year-old son described as “the best you’ve ever smelled”. I’ve been blogging about perfume since he was four, so that’s a huge compliment.

PS  Mini back story: After much Prosecco, we decided that Killer Rose would be my beloved sister in law’s wrestling name. It was a helluva wedding.

Ruth Mastenbroek Firedance

Firedance is the perfect Night Out fragrance for Autumn and Winter. It makes me think of festivals and dark late nights when you stay out way after the taxi drivers have gone to bed. Ah, those were the days! Firedance has roses with sepia, smoky edges and generous swoops of oud and leather, that dart around you as you move. Gorgeous bottle too- very Brothers Grimm! Firedance is Ruth’s fourth fragrance and she is working on a fifth.

Papillon Dryad

Photo by Thomas Dunckley for Papillon Perfumery

Whenever I wear this I immediately feel elegant ( and I’m not).  I feel self-assured and at home in my own skin, which is rare for a seething mass of self-doubt like wot I am.  Papillon Dryad is the ultimate  in elegant and earthy green chypres and it makes me want to strut around like I’m IT.   Dryad has notes of earthy green moss and narcissus and jonquil and herbs and all sorts of mysterious things from the forest. When I wear Dryad, I feel confident and womanly. This is a feeling that gets me in the mood more than wine and nail polish.

Le Jardin Retrouvé Tubereuse Trianon

L-R, Me, Stephan Matthews, and Sarah McCartney. Fragrances we were wearing: L-R le Jardin Retrouve Tubereuse Trianon, Le Jardin Retrouve Cuir Russie and of course, 4160 Tuesdays Mother Natures Naughty Daughters. Photo by kind permission of Sarah McCartney

I can’t resist tuberose. After sidestepping it for years, tuberose and I have some catching up to do and I try to insert any opportunity to wear it into my life.  Le Jardin Retrouvé Tubereuse Trianon was my fragrance of choice for the annual Fragrance Foundation Awards in May 2017. In a room where every scent was literally competing with another, my trusty whispers of tuberose still snaked up to my nostrils as if to assure me that my chosen scent had not been wiped out by competitors. I still smelled of tuberose when I landed in bed that night. And I had sniffed A LOT of people.

DSH Chinchilla

I love Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s fragrances.  She can turn her hand from spring flower buds to animalic retro via everything else you could wish for in Perfume Land. Chinchilla is a very animalic musky mossy chypre that smells like it was made in 1924. The name itself evokes a lost world of dark glamour and fur coats and cigarette holders and speakeasies. Now if that doesn’t make you want to go out, then I don’t know what will.

Find out what Night-Out fragrances my colleagues chose here:

Meganinsaintemaxime

L’Esperessence

A Bottled Rose

How about you?

What scent do you reach for when the bright lights beckon? Do you go for elegance? Audacity? Or do you give in to your animal instincts? Do tell!

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Fragrance Selection Boxes: How to Let Them Choose at Christmas

 

Marks and Spencer

I don’t know about you but I like all selection boxes. From chocolate to fragrance, I’ll take the lot.  I am in no way advocating that fragrance selection boxes should replace chocolate ones, but rather that they should be avidly encouraged in addition to chocolate selection boxes.

The chocolate sort is strongly encouraged in my house

Right then, now we’ve cleared that up, let’s begin.

It’s a common refrain. People want perfume, after shave and toiletries for Christmas. You ask them what sort and they may say “I don’t mind” or “anything.”

The sheer volume of unwanted fragrances on eBay the day after Christmas tells me that this system of vague politeness doesn’t work for anyone. So what’s the solution? Fragrance selection boxes.

These will offer a variety of fragrances that your intended recipient can then choose from.  If you can add a full bottle gift voucher, even better.

I’ve scouted around and made a list of my absolute favourites, none of which I would turn down (are you reading this in the North Pole Mr S.Claus?)

The Marks and Spencer Ferris Wheel

Marks and Spencer

I salivated when I saw this. Not just miniatures, but generous 12ml bottles of 12 fragrances.

Marks and Spencer

It’s currently reduced to the bargain price of £22. The box is beautiful and your recipient (or you, if you’re weak willed like me and end up keeping it) may find a new favourite. If I was a betting woman I would say this will sell out.

Whilst you’re in there, check out the mini Fragonard sets. I had one a few years ago and the longevity was incredible. You honestly can’t go wrong with Fragonard. Trust me, I’m a perfume blogger. I know this stuff.

The Perfume Society Discovery Boxes

These smart white boxes from The Perfume Society are my guilty pleasure throughout the year. I don’t think there’s a single one I’ve missed since they began. They’re beautifully wrapped so you can give them as they are, and inside there are between eight and ten perfume samples, often with generous beauty treats too such as shower gel or hand cream and I’ve even had  a tiny perfume bottle keyring and a nail polish.

Each box contains postcards with notes about the perfumes within, so it’s a great way to learn what you like and discover new brands.

I’m not on the pay roll, but as a grown up, they are my absolute favourite toy and I love to sit there playing. They also do them for men too- try the Men’s Edit or For Him and there’s a sharing box for couples, which, teamed with a bottle of champagne, makes a fine wedding/anniversary/Christmas gift.

Buy British and Smell Good with 4160 Tuesdays

4160 Tuesdays

4160 Tuesdays is one of my favourite perfume houses. Probably in the top three but don’t make me choose, okay? Too hard.  With delightfully named sets of samples such as “Frocks and Hats” (my favourite), “Love & Life Stories” and “Best of British”, you get seven spray samples and then you add your gift voucher so your recipient can fall in love with his or her favourite and buy up a big bottle with their voucher. Here’s the link.  

4160 Tuesdays

The samples will be wrapped up like little Quality Street in brightly coloured tissue so this is a very user-friendly Christmas gift. There’s no extra charge for the wrapping, it’s all part of the normal service. with 4160 Tuesdays. My favourites are Raw Silk and Red Roses, Killer Rose, Doe in The Snow, Tarts Knicker Drawer and Fruits of The Tree of Knowledge.

Pell Wall: Nine Beautiful Bottles from A Shropshire Lad

Pell Wall Perfumes

Over in beautiful Shropshire, Chris Bartlett of Pell Wall perfumes makes and sells beautiful fragrances  made with his own hands. If you haven’t heard of Pell Wall, you’re in for a treat.  I have tried several from the range and thoroughly recommend them. Best of all, you can buy a Pell Wall Discovery Set containing NINE generous 10ml spray bottles, for only £70.  They come in a box ( see above) and these nine bottles should see you through at least a whole year. My personal favourites are Pretty in Pink, Deep Purple and Anjin.

Jo Malone

My local Jo Malone shop (nearest is Cardiff) is always very busy, no matter what time of year you go there. Fans are die hard and devoted. At Christmas, there is a wide choice of mini sets and selection boxes from which to choose your gift.

Jo Malone

You can buy the London Cologne Collection from Jo Malone or John Lewis, and there’s also the Intense Cologne Collection, and a scented candle selection box too.

Jo Loves

Jo Loves

Jo Loves is a smaller company, also founded by Jo Malone MBE, long after Jo Malone the company was sold to Estee Lauder in 1999.  Jo Loves is a smaller, more personal fragrance house, but no less addictive.  Try the “Can’t Go Wrong” Discovery Set which involves ten sample sprays and a voucher for either a 50ml or a 100ml bottle of scent.  Check out the site here.

This Year’s No Shows

Walter Langley Never Morning Wore to Evening 1894

Sadly, this year there is an absence of the Perfume Shop Viva Boxes, and also of the similar set at Boots, which is also no longer available. Both shops do little mini sets of branded scents (i.e Estee Lauder, Lancôme) but the little mixed sets with a gift voucher are no longer there.  Also, the Fragrance Shop no longer does the Discovery Club, but they do have a new subscription service where you can “date” a fragrance before buying it. You can find details here, but I do miss my little quarterly box of surprises. Sniff. I’ll have to cheer myself with some more chocolate.

PS Try TK Maxx. The stock is always changing, but you sometimes get wonderful variety sets around Christmas time. Last year I saw a Juicy Couture Rollerball set for around £12. This year they have Chloe mini sets, Modern Muse and  Marc Jacobs. Quick!

How about you?

Have you discovered any variety boxes that i’ve missed? Share your tips and insider knowledge!

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