Category Archives: Scent

Jesus Del Pozo Arabian Nights: I’m Having a Flashback

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I’m having a flashback. There I was, wandering around eBay with my little trolley, popping samples in here and there, when I stumbled across a new perfume by one of my favourite brands. Step forward Jesus Del Pozo Arabian Nights.  I have a great affection for Jesus Del Pozo, especially since they make my much loved Ambar: a bitter orange delight. However, sadly  Arabian Nights disappointed. Do read on though, because fans of Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan might like what comes next.

When I ordered my samples of Arabian Nights, I was hoping for some of the gorgeous mystical beauty of Tauer’s L’Air Du Desert Marocain (can I call it LADDM? I’m among friends, yes?) However what I actually got was a Dead Ringer for Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan, much loved by all but moi.

With Myrrh and Oud shoving the feeble efforts of Jasmine and Gardenia out of the way, Arabian Nights is a perfume with muscles. It’s not very pretty, but it would always win at hockey. It has the same dry and almost bitter spice that Ambre Sultan has. The Resin is particularly strong, which is what repelled me a little with Ambre Sultan– it’s a strong and heady cloud of something illegal. More Woodstock that Woody notes.

The good news is that it is cheaper than Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan. The bad news is that it’s a devil to get hold of. It is aimed at the Saudi market, but is available in Duty Free at the big Spanish airports, as well as El Corte Ingles. Hopefully a swell of approval will make the nice people at Del Pozo take pity on us deprived UK perfume lovers. I have written to Del Pozo to tell them as much. I will keep you posted as to their reply.

In the meantime there’s eBay samples still left if you hurry…

Calvin Klein Euphoria: J’Accuse

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I get so tired of modern mainstream perfumes today. A new launch, a fanfare, this week’s model, a free tote bag, a plinth in The Perfume Shop and the fragrance still smells the same. We’ve seen it all before.

All too often have I tried a newly launched scent only to to furrow my brow and think “I’ve smelled this before. Didn’t this come out last month?”. I can name four fruity florals that smell so similar there’s little to choose between them: Beyonce Midnight Heat, Swarowski Edition, Beckham Signature For Her, Juicy Couture La La, to name but four.

This week I tried Calvin Klein Euphoria and I can now point the finger at the suspect who I think is the ring leader of the Fruitchouli Underground Army that has taken over our Fragrance counters. Step forward Calvin Klein Euphoria.

Euphoria is full of dark plummy fruits, although only Pomegranate is listed on Fragrantica. On the sample I have (EDP) it says “exotic fruits, rich black orchid, sensual woods”.  What I actually get is a version of Kylie Minogue Sexy Darling, or any of the scents listed above.

Launched in 2005, Euphoria preceded many of the fruity floral scents and fruitchoulis that followed on, and the timescale leads Detective IScent to blame it as a forerunner. It might have been refreshingly different at the time of its launch, but to me it smells just plain sticky and jammy and synthetic.

I won’t write off Calvin Klein though, I have a secret love for Obsession (just one squirt will do!) and also I recently enjoyed Truth, although my fragrance tastes are changing so seismically  since starting this blog, that I may have a different opinion altogether within a few weeks. Watch this space.

Euphoria?  It’s inertia to me.

Chanel Les Exclusifs 31 Rue Cambon: Missing That Je Ne Sais Quoi

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31 Rue Cambon  is named after Chanel’s four storey building, purchased by Gabrielle “CoCo” Chanel herself and which remains today, the site of Gabrielle’s apartment, and the main Paris branch of Chanel.

ImageImmediately, the stakes are high. Named after the Mothership? This better be good. And it is. But great? Not so much.

For one thing, I find this very subtle. My skin seems to swallow it up whole instantly. You may have more luck. Secondly, this strikes me as an odd sort of melange. It’s definitely a Chypre, and it has lovely Woody notes, but then clean, Citrussy Bergamot shows up, along with my old nemesis, Miss Carrot herself- Iris. I often have problems with Iris, but not with her cousin Violet. I find Iris dry and cardboard like, with an earthy rooty scent. I don’t always dislike it, but I can often spot it very soon into a fragrance these days, like a fussy eater who can spot a pea in a Shepherd’s Pie (I do that too).

One very wise reviewer on Fragrantica says that Rue Cambon needs and lacks Oakmoss. I think he has a point. It is neither a Chypre, nor Woody, not Citrus, but somehow all three, without ending up as a Green note scent. Frankly it baffled me, and didn’t stay around long enough for me to know it properly.

The jury’s out on Rue Cambon. I must confess to not loving all of the Les Exclusifs range (I haven’t tried them all yet, to be fair). Whilst I would bite your arm off for a full bottle of Coromandel, I would feel far more “meh” about a full bottle of Rue Cambon. It’s not badly made,  of course, and I know it would smell wonderful on the right wrist or neck, but those wrists and neck do not belong me, regrettably.

In my beloved Wales there is a lovely Welshism which sums up Rue Cambon for me:

“And there it was, gone!”

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Andy Tauer L’Air Du Desert Marocain: At Last We Meet

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I’ve seen perfumistas on many a board sing the praises of L’Air du Desert Marocain. I was curious to try a sample, but not curious enough to buy a full bottle. I remember all too well my eager foray into the equally revered Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens, only to dislike it quite violently.

 L’Air du Desert Marocain was quite the opposite, however. I’ve heard a lot about it. I’ve seen it around (in my friend’s scent stash at least) , and finally, today my wrist met the spray. It’s no coincidence that the immediate adjectives that come to mind are ecclesiastical: Divine and Heavenly were the first words that entered my head. This is a close relative to my beloved Comme Des Garcons Series 3 Incense:Avignon, the ultimate scent of Catholicism, with authentic guilt inducing price tag.

What Tauer has produced however, is less linear that CDG Avignon and more complex.  L’Air Du Desert Marocain has several layers and even after a first spray , has a lovely faded grandeur about it. It smells like a background smell. It’s not harsh or loud. If you met me right now you would ask me how Evensong went ( I would be infused with the smoke of incense), but probably not think I was wearing a scent at all.

Top notes are Caraway, Coriander and Petitgrain, but I must confess, all I get is incense and a whiff of hay. Middle notes include Rosehip and Jasmine, but I get no flowers at all. Base notes include Vetiver, which  is used beautifully and sparingly to add a grassy leather note, as well as Amber, which is also warmly noticeable, and Cedar, which I don’t detect at all.

This is the perfect Christmas Eve scent, and therefore totally out of step with today’s sunny weather. However, I am going out this evening, so all bets are off and I’ll wear what I like. And what I like is this. If there’s any left on my skin on Sunday, then even better. It smells like Sunday morning anyway.

Like CDG Avignon, this is playing hard to get in the UK, although samples and full bottles are available online from UK suppliers Les Senteurs.  I adore the smell of church incense, and I adore this. It would smell incredible on a man too, but if I did manage to get hold of a bottle, I can’t see me sharing it.

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Ô de Lancôme: Sparkle for Summer

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There have been almost three consecutive warm days here in Britain. Can we call it Summer yet? Granted Day Three was followed by freezing rain and wind, but trust me, three days still count.

When the weather is warm, it calls for a change in perfume as much as it calls for a change of clothes.  Wearing Gourmands in the hot sun just makes me feel sticky. Even Orientals must be super Lite. Personally, I think you can’t beat a good citrus or a shot of Bergamot when the temperature rises.

If I had to choose only one perfume to wear in the summer, I would have to say Ô de Lancôme narrowly gets my vote. In the top three would also be Chanel Cristalle, Guerlain Pamplelune, and maybe Yardley English Lavender, straight from the fridge.

What gives Ô de Lancôme the edge is that it is so unashamedly refreshing, that it almost crackles and sparkles on your skin when you apply it. It’s like ice cold lemonade, you can almost feel the tiny bubbles pop.

Top notes are , unsurprisingly  Lemon and Bergamot  with a crisp fresh hint of Orange, and a slight whisper of Honeysuckle. It’s the Lemon that dominates though.

Ô de Lancôme could almost be regarded as a spritz or cologne, so sharp and refreshing does it feel. However, it is worth taking this 1969 creation seriously. Oakmoss has been added (not real Oakmoss, thanks to IFRA, but it will do), along with Sandalwood and Vetiver. So what starts with high octane Lemons, slicing through a sultry heat, beds down into something more earthy and raw, but no less refreshing. In fact, it’s the perfect scent for a late afternoon. By evening, things will get a lot more interesting. Longevity is good. I could smell this in my wrist six hours after spraying it, albeit the Earthy, Woody base, but it was still there, doing its job.

Lancôme has also introduced Ô de Lancôme de L’Orangerie, which I can also vouch for, as well as Ô d’Azur de Lancôme. I‘ve tried the whole range, and they are all good, but I have a special place in my heart for the original.

This ladylike summer scent will never go out of fashion.

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Amouage Dia: A Memory in Glass

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Amouage is a luxury brand: from its price tag right down to the pink crystal in the weighty glorious bottles. Amouage Dia was created by Jean Claude Ellena, a fact which I found out after trying it, and which didn’t surprise me at all. Jean Claude is yet to make a scent I dislike and this is a perfect example of his trademark “watercolour” style, all gentle edges and colours mingling softly.

When I first smelled Amouage Dia, it gave me a very strong reaction. Somehow, someone had bottled the exact smell of my Grandmother’s bedroom when I was around 11 or 12. I remember sleeping over in clean sheets, and fiddling about with the glass and bottles on her dressing table. Amouage Dia has captured this exact smell. It’s uncanny. Clean laundered sheets, pretty soft roses, and a hint of Elnett hairspray and Coty’s L’Aimant in the background. It’s a soft and gentle scent that lies close to skin like a reassuring secret. It was so vivid a comparison that I felt quite emotional. What a jolt! And what a happy memory to carry around in a bottle.

Sometimes perfume can be like a time machine, taking you back to a scene in your life so lucidly that you can almost hear people talking. Suddenly reality seems dreamlike. Who needs a Tardis when olfactory senses are so shockingly vivid at recall? My grandmother has been gone ten years now,  and this perfume seems almost magic in its ability to take me back to 1981 just via a scent. How I miss her.

Amouage has many notes listed, but the ones I can pick out are Turkish Rose Oil, Sage, Aldehydes, Sandalwood, and Soft Musk. As usual, JC Ellena has merged the ingredients so beautifully that they are almost hard to break up into pieces.

What I have is a bottle that holds a scent from my past. I don’t know how he did it.

It’s been emotional.

A Scent by Issey Miyake: Here Comes Summer

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Issey Miyake is the epitome of Nineties fragrances. He blew away the cobwebs of loud shouty Eighties scents that would enter the room before your shoulder pads could squeeze through the doorway. Along came the calm, caring, sharing Nineties with its neutrals and its Green is Good philosophy. L’Eau D’Issey, created in 1992, was everywhere. At one point in the 90s I think I knew more people who wore it than people who didn’t  It’s not my cup of tea, but that clean, Ozonic scent  can whisk me back to 1993 quicker than you can say Sleepless In Seattle.

Fast forward to last week, 2013.  I’d heard that Issey MiyakeA Scent was very similar to Chanel Cristalle. I knew that Issey Miyake made good perfume. I saw that Escentual had a sale on. These three facts dovetailed until I found myself the proud owner of a rather beautiful bottle of A Scent by Issey Miyake last week.

It is very similar to Cristalle. In fact, if you cannot afford Cristalle this is a good bet. I bought my 30ml  for £15.00. If anything it is greener than Cristalle. The instant visual image it planted in my head was of scenes when I was young and always picking flowers and grasses and mashing them up to make mud pies. I’d dissect ferns and leaves and flower stems and get a good green and bitter juice out of them.  This came rushing back to me when I smelled A Scent. The bitter Galbanum is delicious, coupled with citrussy Lemon. However, the bitterness is tempered with flowers to sweeten it and tone it down. I was amazed to see no Lily of The Valley in here. I was sure I could smell les muguets.

On a hot day this lively, clean green will slice through any heat and leave a refreshingly bitter note on your skin, a bit like  a Gin and Tonic with Lime. It’s zingy and clean and glorious, if you, like me, love your Green notes.

It even has slight similarities with my beloved and much mourned Gucci Envy. It’s all Grass and Lemon and Hyacinth.

My only gripe with this is that the spray comes out fast, rather than misting you sparingly,  and therefore my bottle is already 2cm down after only two days of wear. Longevity isn’t great, but if you use my age old tip of spraying clothes and hair, you should should get pleasing whispers of it by the end of the day.

Beautiful and pure as crystal, this may yet knock my Cristalle off her Queenly perch. IScent loves A Scent.

 

 

Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel: Or Antiques Sur la Mer

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 Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel seemed to be exactly right for today’s blazing hot weather. It was new to me, and liking the name is very often enough to make me choose a  Scent Of The Day (SOTD) However, the results were an incongruous surprise.

With a name like Fleurs de Sel I was expecting something lazy and Mediterranean. I wasn’t disappointed, but Fleurs de Sel was far more masculine and Leathery than I was expecting.

Firstly, it has lasted almost seven hours on my arm today, giving it a good score for longevity. Sillage is subtle. I applied it from a sample bottle dabber across the table from my husband who couldn’t tell I had just applied perfume (until I shoved my arm under his nose. He is used to this now).

Top notes are Thyme, Clary Sage and Rosemary. I certainly had visual images of a cook’s kitchen, all herby and aromatic. There is a salty note in there too, making me think of scrubby dunes by the sea, with their herby plants clinging to the sand. The drydown is strong Vetiver and Leather. I much prefer Leather to Vetiver and these two were neck and neck in strength. Vetiver won.

The base note lasts for hours and is a peppery Vetiver with the Leather in the background, having come second in the race to dominate . With the combination of Herbs, Salt and Vetiver, this is a very masculine scent. However, since I am going through rather a masculine Leathery phase at the moment, I rather like it just how it is.

Whilst the opening Act is all herby sea salt and scrubland, it beds down into a scent that is reminiscent of old worn leather. Imagine opening the door of an Antiques shop by the sea. The warm leather is in front of you, with the sea at your back. Add some Vetiver in a vase by the door, and there you have it. Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel.

Avon Week: Absynthe by Christian Lacroix

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Christian LaCroix has created several fragrances exclusively for Avon: Noir for Men, Rouge for Women, Nuit For Women,  Nuit for Men, and Christian La Croix Absynthe. It’s not the usual run of the mill Avon stuff either.  Absynthe has guts and gusto and isn’t afraid to tread a tightrope away from being A Safe Bet.

 Absynthe is one of Avon’s most expensive fragrances, yet it can still be bought for as little as £12 for 50ml in some brochures.  It was created in  2009 by Laurent Le Guernec,  who has also worked on  Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker,  twelve fragrances for Bond No 9, four for Liz Claiborne,  and  Aromatics Elixir Parfumer’s Reserve for Clinique to name but a few of his successes. Despite it’s affordability and ubiquity, Absynthe is a decent scent that can stand shoulder to shoulder with more expensive contemporaries.

My lasting impression of Absynthe is that it reminds me of the bitter Greek Wine, Retsina, made of pine resin.  It opens with dry, bitter notes: Myrrh and a hint of Wood and Anise. Wormwood is strong too, as you would find in the notorious namesake drink.  Middle notes are softer and more feminine introducing flowers and a hint of pretty White Musk. The base is clearly  Amber and Musk, and the Wormwood from the opening stays true throughout.   There is a sweet note in there too, that I cannot name. I would have said Vanilla or Tonka Bean. It’s not overpoweringly sweet though, more like the sweetness of a glass of Chardonnay. I would also have described Absynthe as having Green notes too. The drydown is, to my nose, a dry, Green and Woody combination that has a refreshing bitterness. There’s a faint hint of Liquorice too, from the Anise in the opening blast.

Although LaCroix has also created Absynthe for Him, I don’t know why he bothered since this would comfortably merge from one to the other. I could easily pretend I bought this for my husband and then steal the whole damn bottle.

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Avon Week: Avon Soft Musk

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Avon Soft Musk was created in the 80s and is a rare thing indeed: a perfume that is good quality, popular and excellent value for money.

Every perfume wardrobe should have a Musk. There are many to choose from, varying in quality and price, with the cheapest not necessarily being the worst by a long shot. Before Sarah Jessica Parker created the excellent Lovely, she layered Comme Des Garcons Avignon with an Egyptian perfume oil bought from a street vendor, and  an El Cheapo Bonne Bell Musk from a drugstore. If cheap Musk is good enough for her, it’s certainly good enough for me. I should imagine the end result  was  intoxicating in all the right ways.

 Avon Soft Musk holds many memories for me. So many people I know have worn it since its inception. I can say, hand on heart, that it is both dirt cheap and very good indeed. In my current (now well thumbed) Avon brochure, it retails for £5 for 50ml. You can be sure I will be snaffling me a bottle of that. (online prices vary from the brochure)

It’s often hard to review a Musk perfume without being repetitive, but the more I smell the more differences I can ascertain. Body Shop White Musk has White Flowers in it, at least to my nose, whereas with Jovan White Musk, the honeysuckle is pronounced. Avon Soft Musk is more on the Musk and Rose spectrum, but only barely there, since the Musk dominates.  There are powdery notes too, making this cosy and unthreatening. The powder is more Baby than Face.  Despite being marketed as a “Sexy and Deep” Musk perfume, I actually find it very chaste and respectable. It fits the bill for meeting in laws, job interviews and any occasion when you need to persuade people that you are a nice girl that won’t be any trouble.

Soft Musk is a reliable and good value Musk perfume that currently has several layering accessories to accompany it such as talc, lotion and body spray. It would suit any age from eighteen to eighty  and I will not be turning my nose up at my five quid bottle of scent any time soon.