Avon Far Away is Avon’s best-selling perfume by a country mile. Even the flankers are good. You may recall my review of Avon Far Away Infinity and Avon Far Away Exotic. Today I am reviewing Avon Far Away Bella, and let me just say that it won me over as soon as I saw that it was wearing a little scarf.
So how does it smell? Pretty darn good, especially when you think that I bought it from a recent Avon brochure for the princely sum of five pounds for a 50ml Eau de Parfum.
Did I mention longevity? Around six or seven hours, so a few squooshes in the morning should set you up for the day. Incidentally, don’t expect this to resemble the original Far Away, which is a cosy feast of vanilla and coconut, because it doesn’t.
Avon Far Away Bella opens with a refreshing fruity note, namely oranges. This lacks a sickliness that some fruity overtures can have. So often the red berries and the pink pepper brigade can drown any notes to come, but this mandarin note is rather pretty and uplifting. The middle goes floral, and we’re talking magnolia, so again, not too sweet, and not too heady. I definitely got a blast of jasmine too. The base is simply tonka bean. This is a hay like note with a faint background of almondy vanilla notes. In Far Away Bella, the use of tonka instead of ubiquitous vanilla extract is an understated touch that I appreciated. You may have gathered by now that too much vanilla turns me off, but this is a pleasant sweetness blended with a light hand.
Over on Fragrantica, some readers are saying that it reminded them of Gucci Flora Glamorous Magnolia, no less, as well as Yves Saint Laurent Cinema Festival. I have smelled neither, so cannot comment, but these people usually know what they’re talking about.
My verdict is that Far Away Bella is a heck of a gem and a heck of a bargain. It’s a light and pretty fruity floral that smells very current and holds back on the sugar. I reckon the youngsters will go for this, as well as the 47 year old perfume bloggers. Nicely done, Avon.
How about you?
How about you? Do you have a favourite Avon fragrance? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
You can find Far Away Bella on Avon UK, or from your Avon rep, if you have one, or on eBay. The current brochure price is £9 but this can vary from month to month, depending on offers. I purchased my own bottle and opinions are my own.
For a long time now, I have been searching for the perfect marine scent. It has to remind me of the sea, be invigorating and NOT smell like cucumber. Doesn’t seem like too much to ask, does it? But apparently it is. Or was. Read on Macduff.
Before I go on, I’d like to ask if any of you remember a shampoo made by Boots Naturals called Sea Kelp? I used to adore that scent and used it until they stopped making it. I can’t even find an old photo on Pinterest. It was a beautifully scented shampoo that had marine notes and made my hair smell so good that I often wished they made a perfume of it.
Many times have I have sniffed something in a vageuly aquamarine coloured bottle and thought, “maybe this will smell like Sea Kelp shampoo?” and been disappointed. Cucumber and melon- yes. Sea notes? No.
However, I recently received a small glass phial ( vial or phial? you can use either, I checked) of a scent that is currently being called “Sea Goddess”. This may or may not be its final name: it’s still in development at the hand of Sarah McCartney at 4160 Tuesdays.
Sea Goddess opens with a burst of citrus. I could discern sharp lemon and bitter grapefruit: the kind that makes you do an involuntary wink when you eat it first thing in the morning. This wakes you up and prepares you for the swishy swish of sea notes that follow.
Sea notes are hard to define and are often subjective, but here’s my take on them here: with an invigorating tang and a hit of saltiness, Sea Goddess makes you wish you were next to the sea and makes you feel an urgent need to down tools and find some surf , like a Bisto kid following his nose.
It is rare to find a sea note perfume that is as on the button as this one . What gives it that unique 4160 Tuesdays touch is a dose of Britishness towards the end. There is an almost, but not quite, dirty tang of seaweed towards the bottom. Rather than put me off, this adds to its authenticity. This is how the seaside really smells.
We can romanticise the white crests of foam as the waves crash, and we can imagine ourselves getting a revitalizing burst of ozone into our poor urban lungs, but don’t forget what the beach really smells like. There’s salt and wet sand and sea weed. It’s all here, my friends. Because a real Sea Goddess will get sand on her fins and seaweed on her arms.
This is the ultimate sea note scent. No cucumber. No melon. This is the sea and the beach, captured in a glass vial like a snow globe.
This is nearly available from 4160 Tuesdays, but not quite yet. It may be given a different name, but I will let you know. Talk about a teaser! Sorry about that. My sample rollerball phial was from Sarah herself, for which, my deep gratitude. Opinions are my own.
Yes, it’s National Fragrance Day 2017, although if you’re a fumehead like me, ( and you probably are if you’re reading this blog) then every day is Fragrance Day. Taking a #smellfie is all the rage on this special day , and I felt I must run with the pack.
However, being a bit of a luddite and not having fathomed out the selfie stick I had for Christmas, I was forced to use the least worst shots of a lengthy smellfie session. Plus I seem to either stare or blink- no middle ground.
Dear reader, you can see the conclusion I arived at. The scent I chose, by the way, is Mary Greenwell Fire. I bought it last year from The Fragrance Shop for the princley sum of £19.99 and it’s become a firm favourite. Do not ever throw the lid at anything fragile though, unless you are trying to escape from a dangerous animal. The lid weighs a ton and could smash a phone box. Remember phone boxes? That’s a #scentmemory I’d rather not revisit.
How about you? What would you take a smellfie with? Your SOTD or your favourite ever? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
There were several reasons why I was not expecting to even like Cartier Baiser Fou, but blow me down if the little madam didn’t bowl me over and cover me in kisses, filling me with avarice for a full bottle.
Reasons I didn’t think I’d like this:
I wasn’t keen on Cartier Baiser Volé,
The box and lid is red and pink so I thought it would smell of candy floss.
It contains raspberries, white chocolate and vanilla, so I assumed it would smell like an ice cream sundae.
Reader, I was wrong. So very, very wrong. I’ll tell you exactly what Cartier Baiser Fou smells like. Back in 2001 I found myself in Duty Free at San Francisco Airport with some unspent dollars. I was a one scent woman back then and was fully stocked with Chanel Cristalle, so decided to buy myself a posh lipstick for the first time ever in my life. It was a YSL Lipstick and it smelled and tasted of roses, violets and strawberries with that powdery waxy lipstick finish.
That, my friends, is exactly what Cartier Baiser Fou smells like.
The notes are: raspberry, orchid, white chocolate and vanilla, but this smells like that delicious expensive lipstick years ago and makes me feel marvellous when I wear it.
This is yet another case where I prefer the flanker to the original. It’s fruity and playful yet grown up and classically powdery. To my surprise, it was not at all tooth achingly sweet. Cartier Baiser Fou reminded me to stop reading the notes and start using my nose.
Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever thought “I’m going to hate that!” and ended up loving it? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
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.
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.
In 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.
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.
My dears, I returned from the Jasmines only yesterday and it has taken until now for me to process the explosion of glamour and excitement that happened to me.
It was a thrill to receive that first email from the Fragrance Foundation back in January, letting me know I had been shortlisted. Since then, it has been the biggest event in my calendar.
But What Fragrance to Wear?
I wasn’t too worried about what clothes what to wear, although I had a last-minute lingerie malfunction which meant I ended up looking like I was going for a job interview in an undertaker’s. Still, wearing black all the time never hurt Margot Fonteyn or Edith Piaf (is what I keep telling myself). The biggest problem I had was what scent to wear? That one kept me awake for a while, I can tell you. *
The Awards were to be hosted at Bafta, and due to its early 8.45 am start, I had to come up the night before. I stayed in a hotel near the most beautiful station in the world, St Pancras. This was rather handy since there was a large branch of Pret a Manger in St Pancras station. We don’t have Pret in Wales (violins) so, it’s my eatery of choice when I’m back in the Big Smoke.
The Big Day Arrives. I’m All a-Quiver!
Being a swot, I arrived in Piccadilly an hour early on the morning of The Jasmines and made use of a nearby Costa (This is why London is never cheap when I visit). I was as nervous as if I was going to a job interview. As a natural introvert, networking makes my armpits prickle, but perfume people are outrageously lovely, as was the case later on.
Crossing the Bafta threshold was a thrill. Seeing the big gold mask on the wall and seeing uniformed doormen made my heart go all fluttery.
When I arrived, there was a huge floral centrepiece with scented rose petals a-wafting through the air, along with coffee and posh pastries (sorry for the food writing. I’m really hungry). My nerves left me as conversation began to flow.
Here I am, Name Dropping
At one point, I shook hands with a dapper looking Roja Dove. Yes, he was wearing silk slippers, and no, he hadn’t heard of my blog.
I was delighted to see the impossibly glamorous Suzy Nightingale again, and chuffed to beans to meet one of my sheroes, Jo Fairley of The Perfume Society. I have been reading Jo’s writing since the year 2000 and never thought I would be acquainted with her in real life. I also met lovely Penny from The Perfume Society, but it was in the Ladies Toilets so we didn’t get to chat more, sadly. The Perfume Society is my mothership.
I had a lovely surprise when I saw perfume guru Nick Gilbert and perfumer Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays arrive. I wasn’t expecting them and I was over the moon to see familiar faces. An added bionus was that I also got to meet the delightful Marina Barcenilla, who I wrote about only last week.
If I tell you that Sarah McCartney was wearing colour block fortuny pleats with dragon fins on, would you believe me? She was and she pulled it off, although rumour has it she startled a dog earlier in the day: and comedian Jeremy Hardy, but that’s another story.
The Big Moment
At 9.30am we were ushered into the awards room. There was a big screen and a stage at the front, where the judges and hosts were seated. The category I was shortlisted for was the “Best Digital Experience” award for my article about Mandy Aftel’s Memento Mori. I had stiff competition, and was honoured to be among them. Thomas Dunckley, aka The Candy Perfume Boy won, and deservedly so.
Thomas is a gifted writer who manages to combine unimpeachable expertise with wit and warmth. He won two in total, leading me to ask him to please start writing badly in order that I may have a chance one year. He gallantly agreed, but reader, I think he is incapable of writing badly.
There were many winners that morning, and all of them deserving and worthy of the beautiful Lalique awards. What struck me most, however, was the atmosphere. It was friendly, celebratory and warm. The perfume world has people from all walks of life, including a mum of two from Cwmbran who grew up in a council house (ahem), and Roja Dove.
Earl Grey at Simpson’s
I felt deeply honoured to be treated to a pot of Earl Grey at the former Simpson’s on the Strand by perfumer extraordinaire Sarah McCartney, Sarah is fantastic company and so curious about the world and the people in it.
We were joined by another very talented perfumer, Ruth Mastenbroek. I tell you, I was not ignorant of the privilege this affords to a perfume blogger and I felt quite tongue tied despite them both being engaging and lovely.
They did lose me when they started talking about parabens, but I was thinking “Wow, look at me. With them. Up here!” We were also, by pure coincidence, just a few tables away from comedian Jeremy Hardy. Sarah had bumped into him a total of four times that day and I can promise that none of it was planned, officer.
Like the best dreams, the bubbles popped and by 3.15 I was back in Cwmbran collecting my son from school, wondering what to make for tea and thinking “This is what Pam Ewing must have felt like when Bobby got out of the shower” It couldn’t have been a dream. It felt too real.
My dear chums, I am financially poorer after the hotel and train bill, (and Pret and Costa) but I don’t think I have ever felt richer or luckier. Thank you to the Fragrance Foundation for letting me experience such an unforgettable day.
*My SOTD was Sandalwood Sacre by le Jardin Retrouvé.
And the Winners are…
Best Digital Fragrance Experience
‘Six Scents to Put Hairs on Your Chest’ by Thomas Dunckley for The Candy Perfume Boy
Jasmine Literary Award
‘Every Scent Tells a Tale’ by Joanne Harris for Good Housekeeping
Best Digital Article on Fragrance
‘A Scent for Self-Appreciation’ by Lizzie Ostrom for The Pool
Jasmine Soundbite (News Press) ‘Smells Like Tom Hiddleston (I Wish)’ by Lesley Thomas for The Times
Jasmine Visual Award
‘A Perfume Paints a Thousand Words’ by Jan Masters (words & creative) and Roberto Greco (creative) for Harrods Magazine
Best Article in a Consumer Magazine ‘The Wearing of the Green’ by James Craven for Les Senteurs
Most Creative Visual Award
‘All of a Quiver’ by Jan Masters (words) and Rebecca Baio, David Newton & Barney Pickard (creative) for Harrods Magazine.
Jasmine Soundbite (Independent)
‘Eau so Masc – Thoughts on Gender in Perfumer & the Rive Gauche Rebellion’ by Thomas Dunckley for The Candy Perfume Boy
Jasmine Rising Star Award
‘2017 – The Year of the Milk Notes’ by Lauren Crabran for Scents Blog
Jasmine Soundbite (Magazines)
‘Midnight Garden’ by Jan Masters for Harrods Magazine
Jasmine Independent Literary Award
‘Scenting my Mental Illness’ by Laurin Taylor for Basenotes
Jasmine Soundbite (News Press)
‘Smells Like Tom Hiddleston (I Wish)’ by Lesley Thomas for The Times
Best Practical Guide to Fragrance
‘The Top Ten Niche Fragrances Every Beginner Should Sample’ by Clare Vukcevic for Basenotes
I have in front of me The Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box. I’ve spoken of these little boxes before. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve missed one since they first began.
The Modern Classics Box is a must for anyone on their first foray into fragrance. Even if you’re not, it’s great to have the classics at your fingertips, and classics they are: each and every one.
I’m going to be reviewing some of these in more detail soon, but in the meantime, here’s the list of what’s in the box:
Yardley Contemporary Classics English Freesia
I’m a big fan of florals, and Yardley, bless ‘em, have been doing florals for generations. They do them very well, and Freesia is no exception. I have a whole bouquet of Yardley scents on my dressing table: April Violets, English Rose, English Lavender, Bluebell, and after today, it looks like a full bottle of Yardley Freesia won’t be far behind.
Cartier Baiser Fou
This new scent from Cartier is worlds apart from the original and far more sober Baiser Vole. Cartier Baiser Fou (crazy kiss) smells like lipstick kisses, strawberries and milky bar. I didn’t think I was going to like it, as it sounded too sweet for me, but actually I was completely charmed by it.
Flower by Kenzo
I wasn’t sure if I knew this one, until I sprayed it and realised “Oh! THAT’S Kenzo Flower!” It’s baby powder, wet wipes, fluffy towels and innocent flowers. I’ll be reviewing this one in more detail soon.
Marc Jacobs Daisy
Both ubiquitous and glorious, this light, airy crowd pleaser will never go out of fashion, and its not just because of the delightful toy town flower bottles. See my review here.
L’Occitane Terre de Lumiere
A stunning summer scent from L’Occitane with notes of lavender honey, bergamot and a warm base of almond and tonka. This makes me want to lie in the sun with a straw hat on and be very, very indolent.
Angela Flanders Columbia Rose
Columbia Road in achingly cool Shoreditch is the scene of the famous Columbia Road Flower Market every Sunday, when the street is filled with greenery and botany and petals and buds. Worth visiting for the scent alone, it’s little wonder that perfumer Angela Flanders saw fit to open her shop here.
This is how roses used to smell before factory farming chased the old-fashioned scent away. There’s something slightly earthy about it too, thanks to the patchouli and amber in the base. This is patchouli with rough edges and it complements the centrifola rose like Mellors complemented Lady Chatterley.
Illuminum White Gardenia Petals
This scent of green notes and heady white gardenia may well be my absolute favourite from the box. As worn by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge on her wedding day, this beautiful fragrance is right up my street, even if I can’t quite compete with Catherine’s untouchable glamour. I’ll be reviewing it in more detail very soon.
Narciso Rodriguez for her EDP
This beauty has been a classic since its launch. NR For Her was created by the ultimate dream team of Christine Nagel and Francis Kurkdjian and I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t smell wonderful in it, including me! You can read my review here.
Philosophy Renewed Hope in a Jar Eye (lotion tube)
I don’t know what this is like yet, but buy the sound of the name, I need it BADLY. After squinting at computer screens and phone screens, and being tormented by hay fever and contact lenses, my forty-seven-year-old eyes need all the help they can get. I’m fifty in three years’ time but I don’t want to look like I am!
Minnies Literally Lovely Shimmering Body Lotion.
A sachet sized treat that is going in my overnight bag. Possibly too glamorous for the school run, but I’ll be spoiling myself with this next time I get away from it all.
As usual with Perfume Society Discovery Boxes, there are scent sniffing strips and handy postcards with discussion prompts and facts about each item. All the goodies come in a smart white gift box with the Perfume Society Logo on. They make excellent gifts for your friends or for Mothers Day, but I’m not giving mine away!
These boxes are exclusive to The Perfume Society, and cost £17.50 each or £12.50 if you are a VIP subscriber. My box was kindly sent to me by The Perfume Society. Opinions are my own.
Two weeks ago, I invited you to send me your perfume problems. This week a dear friend of the blog, Cassieflower, came to me with the following problem. Reader, I share her pain. It hurts when a favourite is reformulated or discontinued . Cassieflower, you are not alone!
Dear Aunty Sam,
I hope you, or indeed some of your readers, can help. My all-time favourite perfume is Fidji by Guy Laroche, and even though this can still be found cheaply on lots of sites it really is only a shadow of its former self. I used to wear it in parfum strength but nowadays the only offering is edt, and that just don’t cut the mustard with me. Any suggestions for a replacement would be most welcome. Pleeeze and fankoo
Firstly, you have excellent taste. That’s a given. Guy Laroche Fidji is quality stuff. I had a bottle back in the 80s and it was green and gorgeous and landed me compliments. Unfortunately, reformulations are so very widespread, as we know. There’s a whole support group for traumatised fans of original YSL Opium, or at least there should be.
I went out today and tried Fidji in my local Perfume Shop to jog my memory. It is indeed far weaker than I remember it. However, it reminded me of two perfumes. The first is Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps. Fidji is almost a greener flanker to L’Air du Temps. Both have the orris root, carnation, iris, violet, spices, oakmoss and aldehydes. The second scent that Fidji reminded me of is Clinique Calyx. It’s not as close a match, but Calyx has the transparent greenery that Fidji has, albeit with a touch more tropical/botanical fruit going on.
As for Fidji itself, it does seem to be widely available in eau de toilette form and not much else. The only advice I can offer is drench yourself in the EDT in summer and break out the L’Air du Temps eau de parfum in colder weather. I promise you will always smell wonderful.
I also had a plea from reader Mia who has fallen in love with Maison Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540– and who can blame her? However with a hefty price tag, Mia is looking for something in the same vein that is slightly kinder on the old budget. Mia- you are singing my song! I’m having a very frugal March at the moment.
Dear Aunty Sam
Hello! I’ve fallen in love with Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540. Smells like warmed skin and caramel but 100000x better. I can’t stop sniffing my wrists and cooing sweet nothings to this scent when I’m wearing. Problem is, I can’t afford it atm. Any cheaper recommendations to tide me over? Thank you so much!
Thanks so much for writing in. You’re among friends here. Please help yourself to tissues. We’re used to traumatised perfume fans.
Baccarat Rouge 540 is indeed as lovely as you say, although it barely stayed on my skin at all. It was close to skin immediately after I sprayed and then poof! Gone.
I’ve been digging around on your behalf and I came across what I think is the best match. There is a company called Dua Perfumes who make a scent called Casino Royale. This has many notes in common with MFK Baccarat Rouge 540: notably saffron, mandarin, cedar and fir balsam ( actually pine in Baccarat, but same forest).
The bad news is that they are based in the USA. The good news is that there is a company in the UK called FragranceSamples UK who stock samples of other Dua perfumes, although not Casino Royale. I’m sure if you ask them nicely they could get some in. Sample prices are just over £11 for a generous 5ml sample, so not quite as spendy as Cap’n Kurk! You could also try Givenchy Pi, which has a similar herby orange opening and a muted gourmand base via almond and tonka notes.
Got a perfume problem? A scent situation? A fragrant foible?
Do keep sending in your questions. If I can’t answer them, I am sure helpful readers will be able to share their experience and knowledge too. We’re a lovely bunch.
Write your questions in the comments box below or email me on email@example.com. If you are very shy, I will even answer them privately. I’m nice like that.
Over to you
Do you agree with my answers? Would you add or change anything? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
I keep blathering on about how I’m going to do vlogging one day and on a whim I ended up filming the opening of my Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box. You only see my unmanicured hands and hear my voice, but check out my gorgeous cat Ian, who appears to be a big purr-fumista. I’m sorry, I’ll get my coat… I might actually do this again and you might actually see me in it next time. I have two other cats so I may not be alone.