Category Archives: Scent

Agent Provocateur: I’m Seduced

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I picked up a sample of Agent Provocateur recently from a House of Fraser counter alongside numerous new launches and free tote bags. I had low expectations of it, to be honest. It seems that everybody is launching a new scent every week and I’d heard no particular buzz around this one. Well here’s some buzz: this is great.  It’s described thus: “Exotic. Floral. Chypre.”. With today’s eulogistic blurbs about perfume, even that could mean anything. However, I have tried my little 1.5ml bottle of Eau de Parfum and I love it. My happy thoughts regarding the opening notes could not quite be located at first until it came to me like a shot. It smells like Gucci Envy. At least at first anyway. I couldn’t find the Lily of The Valley that is so strong in Envy, so it must be her cousin Gardenia spreading the White Flower love around, and the Coriander adding the Green note.

After a few minutes, the scent becomes more Rose and Magnolia, reminding me a little of SJP Lovely. The smell is intimate, as if you are right up close smelling skin.  It’s floral but lacks that high pitched screechiness you can sometimes get with flowers alone. Agent Provocateur is softened by Musk and warm, white Magnolia which makes this both cosy and sexy at the same time. It’s lightened with the Coriander, just the right amount, but I must confess to not recognising the top note scent of Indian Saffron unless it’s in a Chicken Pilaff. This is a Magnolia Musk and a Powdery Rose, with enough Vetiver and Amber to make the basenotes warm and  rich. It had me at “Bonjour”.

Happy Father’s Day! It’s Our Old Friend Old Spice.

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 Old Spice has been a fixture in shops and bathroom shelves ever since I can remember. So ubiquitous was it that I have never really bothered to sit down and sniff it properly. It was my husband’s idea for me to review this on Father’s Day, and I thought it was a great idea. I had to Imageagree, especially since he had caught me raiding his fragrance collection because I was in a “manly” mood.

Cheap as Chips, and as common as grass, Old Spice is far more complex than I ever realised. My first visceral associations were naturally talc and toothpaste, but I realised that these were associations, rather than the notes that build it.

So complex is Old Spice that I feel that listing its range of notes explains it best: Nutmeg, Lemon, Orange, Star Anise, Aldehydes, Carnation, Jasmine, Geranium, Cinnamon, Heliotrope, Pimento, Ambergris, Benzoin, Cedar, Vanilla, Tonka Bean and Musk.

Prior to wearing it all day long today in the name of research I would have described it as “white and soapy”. After a day of wear (and top ups) I can honestly say that if they put this in a pretty bottle and sold it as a feminine fragrance, I reckon it would do very well indeed. I would certainly buy it, and you can rest assured that this is not the last time I will be wearing it. (with apologies to my husband, who’s bottle I am using).

The opening is indeed powdery like talc, but also has Carnation and Geranium notes i.e floral but spicy. The Aldehydes do indeed give it the soapy feel that you would associate with bathrooms and shower rooms, but this is more than clean talc. These three notes are also found in Elizabeth Arden’s Blue Grass, and sometimes, Old Spice smells a tiny bit similar, as if I’m smelling Blue Grass from  ten yards away four hours after its been applied. There’s the same faint floral heat against a background of Aldehydes.

In a similar fashion to Dana’s Tabu, this has a light spice that doesn’t go too deep or resonant. It’s almost a surface Oriental, with its Star Anise and  Pimiento, but with less of the “joss stick smoke” than Tabu.

The drydown is a Musky, spiced powder, with the powder  having remained constant throughout. It’s like Spice through a white fluffy towel. The Spice is indeed there, but always cushioned by something softer.

All in all, this is a great cologne with its clean, soapy feel and its added prickle of spice to keep it interesting.  It’s been around so long I almost didn’t see it anymore, but now I feel sure that I will be thinking outside the box when choosing my day’s fragrance, and reaching for the beautiful white glass bottle with its little stopper.

The last word on longevity goes to my husband who said: “it lasts long enough to kiss your wife in the morning but is gone by the time you reach the office.”

Having said that, Old Spice is inexpensive enough to top up regularly, usually to be found well under 10GBP.

Happy Father’s Day to all fathers, and to all who may be missing one.

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Sarah Jessica Parker The Lovely Collection:Dawn

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Being a huge fan of Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely and seeing that she has created a very affordable diffusion range, I was curious to try Dawn. I own a bottle of Endless, which is a  pretty floral musk, that lacks lasting power,  and I have briefly tried the mildly spicy Twilight (not to be confused with the Vampire/Wolf uber franchise) but it was only recently that I managed to bag a sample of Dawn.

I am pleased to report that it is utterly delightful and not remotely offensive. It could easily be worn first thing in the morning on a commuter train and everyone would be thinking of dew drops and flower petals, rather than “Somebody Open A Window!”

Opening notes are Citrus notes, Angelica and Violet leaf. I can’t vouch for the Angelica, because, to be completely frank, I have no idea what it smells like. The Citrus and Violet Leaf, I can indeed recognise, and it’s a lovely light-as-air combination. The middle note is Orchid Flower, which mingles nicely with the Violet, keeping this feminine and light. Base notes include the following (according to Fragrantica) Orris Root, Musk, Vetiver, Oakmoss and Vanilla.

What I actually got was Musk and maybe some Oakmoss (probably not the real thing, especially at this price!), with just enough to keep it Green rather than too Sweet. Orris root and Vetiver were on vacation  every time I smelled this.

Dawn stays light and airy, like petals. The Ozonic description would usually put me off, but this is a lovely light blue airy scent that would make an ideal gift for a young teenager who didn’t want to drown in anything heavy. The Violet Leaf completely won me over.

My sample led me to purchase a full bottle, and that happens less often than you might think. Longevity is a bit of an issue, but I always get round that by spraying clothes and hair to carry the scent for longer.

This is  a wonderful airy start to a day, like a breeze coming through a window, and would be great for office wear. It’s lightness makes it very sociable. This is a corker of a bargain too and one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend if you like your scents breezy, light and feminine.

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Versace Baby Rose Jeans: As Seen On My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

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My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding on the UK’s Channel 4 is compulsive viewing. If you live outside the UK, it’s a reality show following Traveller families as they get married, usually aged 16 and usually in a dress that weighs about three times what they do. They have a unique style all of their own: Over The Top doesn’t begin to cover it. They make Alexis Carrington look unkempt. The dresses often cost tens of thousands of pounds, and  on the episode I saw, the skirt alone contained 500 metres of Imagechiffon. That’s half a kilometre. I’m not sure I can even swim as far as that. With wedding dresses that are too big to get down the aisle, and so painful on the hips they have to strap nappies underneath, you can imagine what my most pressing question was:

What perfume goes with that dress?

So, with the help of my trusty Pause button last week, my question was answered. Versace Baby Rose Jeans was seen on more than one Traveller counterpane. I immediately ordered some samples.

Initially, this is positively chaste in its innocent girlishness. It opens with Violets, Hyacinths, Freesias, Lily of the Valley and Roses. What could be prettier and more innocent? However, the drydown allows the dominant Vanilla to creep in, and that’s where it all goes wrong. The Vanilla cheapens the light-as-air petals and converts what could be a pretty and light floral, into something akin to discount bin babywipes. Cloying, fuzzy and overly sweet, the flowers are wrapped in a big pink Vanilla blankie and made to smell like a 99p shop.

Shame though. The floral notes contain some of my favourites. Take the vanilla out (PLEASE!) and I would consider wearing this.  Sadly, it has been ruined by it. Next time I buy babywipes, I will buy unfragranced, just in case they remind me of Baby Rose Jeans.

NB All photos by Channel 4 the makers of this addictive programme.

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Thierry Mugler Alien: Like Fireworks- Wonderful But Loud

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 Like Angel,  Thierry Mugler Alien has its fans and critics, although it must be said that Alien is not quite as divisive as Angel (see my earlier review about the Marmite of Perfumes). As for Mugler’s other big hitter, Womanity, let’s just move on, shall we? (I’m still offended by that stinking shock.)

The Alien bottle is critically acclaimed, and quite right too. Its blank faceless angles with slightly hunched shoulders has a unique strangeness.  I was initially put off from testing Alien after deciding that Angel wasn’t for me. However, I was going through an Amber phase and was attracted to the notes, so decided to order a few samples from eBay.

I was pleasantly surprised. It’s rather Christmassy and rich, and reminded me a bit of Church and incense. The Amber is LOUD and sweet, like a deaf Aunt with no dress sense, but likable all the same.

The notes are few: just Amber, Woods and Jasmine. You can smell all three, although Mugler does like to turn the volume up. The Wood notes smell like church pews permeated by the waft of a passing thurible. The jasmine is at its dirtiest, and the Amber sweetens it all up and smacks its bum to finish it off. Its Woody richness may stem from the fact that this is said to be aged in oak casks, like brandy.

Many people are averse to this, and I can understand why. It is the kind of perfume I cannot wear in great measure.  Nor should anyone wear it in close quarters to another human or animal before 5pm. It’s just not fair. Even if you have a cold and can’t smell it, trust me, one squirt is enough and will last a long time. I’m only talking about the Eau de Toilette here. If you have the Alien Essence Absolue Parfum Intense, then please don’t leave your house for Health and Safety reasons. You will have people keeling over in your wake like a Pied Piper gone wrong.

Alien is like hearing a love poem shouted through a megaphone. Pretty, yes, but turn it DOWN.

There are flankers aplenty, but I still rate this as the original and best.

PS Due to not wearing my glasses once, I ended up calling this Aileen by mistake and its rather fondly become a nickname.  Thierry Mugler Aileen.
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Miller Harris Citron Citron: A Citrus With Staying Power

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 The problem with most citrus scents is that they start all zingy and end up a bit sour and depleted, like a dried up orange. Take Guerlain Pamplelune for instance. Regarded by many as a citrus masterpiece, but many reviewers report a gone off note or a BO note in the drydown.

Miller Harris Citron Citron stays citrussy to the very end. It was Lyn Harris’s first ever offering, and whilst I love it, Luca Turin does not, preferring the more recent Fleurs de Sel which I reviewed earlier in my blog.

My first thought on trying Citron Citron was that it was almost exactly the same as Biotherm Eau Vitaminee, which to my nose, is a Tropicana Orange Juice soliflore. However, Citron Citron, whilst staying true to its orange openings, dries down into a pretty and  light citrus, as delicate as a shower of petals.

Once the thirst quenching orange, lime and lemon zest has calmed down a little, in its place sits Basil and a lighter touch of Mint. This smelled floral to me, with a light prettiness that I could have sworn came from petals and Peony. Apparently not, although woody Oakmoss and Cedar are listed.  Personally, I didn’t find that this went Woody or Mossy in the drydwon as other citrus scents do: I’m thinking of Cristalle with its  beautiful Woody drydown, and O de Lancome with its mossy basenotes.

 Citron Citron stays light and pretty and harmless. It would make an ideal office perfume since its lightness is its strength. Our friend Luca Turin states his opinion in Perfumes The Guide:” (An) antiseptic-smelling citrus that lazy teenagers can spray around the kitchen to convince Mon and Dad they’ve done their chores”.

But I disagree. This is light, pretty and clean smelling and stays true to its opening.  As citruses go, this is nicer than Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca (not so Mint heavy) and Guerlain Pamplelune (No dried up Grapefruit rind at the end).

This may well be a full bottle worth saving for, although prices are fair at £65 for 50ml, and lasting power makes this good value.

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Balmain Ivoire de Balmain: Sweaty Betty Fills a Room

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Have you ever sat on a bus and wrinkled your nose , silently wishing people would wash more and change their clothes daily? Sadly, this was the image that Ivoire de Balmain put into my head.

I was introduced to this by my friend and perfume expert Lisa Wordbird. We were drinking tea and eating Battenberg at the time. She sprayed my arm with Ivoire de Balmain. “Yuk!” I exclaimed, “It smells like an old lady Walk of Shame”. “Really?” said Lisa, “My mother wears it to Church”. Many Battenberg crumbs landed far away from my plate, dear reader.

I hope you don’t recoil from the vivid imagery, but this smells like a hot gusset on a warm day. It’s how hot nylon smells without deodorant, or how sweaty thighs smell after a few  shower free days, drowned in talc to hide the smell. (I am guessing incidentally, my hygiene is of unimpeachable order).

It dries down into a sort of lemon talc, but the 32 notes listed on Fragrantica seemed almost completely absent, bar a few.  I will list the notes that I considered noticeable, since the ones that appeared absent  are too numerous to list here.

Present and correct in the opening notes: Asfoetida, Chamomile, Lemons and Aldehydes. Middle notes that I recognised were Lily of the Valley (although in talc form) and possibly Nutmeg. In the basenote I could smell Sandalwood and Lemon and talc.

Throughout every stage, there was kind of BO staleness. Hot hosiery, poor hygiene.  Not  good, and certainly not something I want to smell of. However, I am reviewing the Ivoire de Balmain with the white plastic lid, labelled “Edition Prestige”. Recently I tried Balmain Ivoire in John Lewis. The packaging and bottle were both different. When I tried it, the smell was different too. There was Imageno scent of sweaty body, it has been sanitised. I was left with a pretty Violet Green scent, admittedly, with less character than my gussety friend here.

I do apologise to any fans of original Ivoire de Balmain, but do please remember that this is only my personal response. Try the new one if my review has put you off the old one. Other Balmains are excellent and being phased out, so if you find one you like, buy it twice.

 

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Cartier Baiser Volé (2011)

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I must apologise to Cartier, since I truly love  Eau de Cartier and its flanker Essence D’Orange, but I have been disappointed lately in other Cartier scents.  As you may know, I recently reviewed the fist-eatingly expensive Baiser du Dragon and found it overpriced and baiser bottlerather an anti climax. I then tried Delices de Cartier., and found it had no staying power on me and left me smelling like pencil shavings. Determined to love the brand, I soldiered on and tried Baiser Volé. Oh dear.

 Baiser Volé left me underwhelmed. It’s not bad by any means, but its glossy packaging and posh Zippo style bottle out-glams the content within. Its top notes, middle notes and basenotes are Lily and Green notes.

It doesn’t change at all and it lasts around four hours. Sadly, as much as I love Lilies and ImageGreen notes, this left me very strongly in mind of Neutradol room deodorisers. You know, those white pots that you leave in a corner until your home smells of Baiser Volé?

At least four Fragrantica members agree that this smells very similar to Yardley Peony, which is only £9.99 for 50ml. Just saying…

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Andy Tauer No 14 Noontide Petals: From Noon to Sundown

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It’s taken me a few days to think about what I’m going to say about Andy Tauer’s latest release Noontide Petals. Not because I’m trying to be tactful, no need for that: It’s because it’s like nothing else I’ve smelled before.

It’s floral but not a floral. It’s spicy but not an Oriental, it is very Bergamot but is not a Hesperide. It has powder but it’s not a Chypre. You can see my problem.

It is very beautiful and lives up to its whimsical name. At first spray, whilst still wet, it’s strong Bergamot with Geraniums catching up. Then a blast of aldehydes. Now this bit confused me. Its clearly aldehydic but the last aldehyde I sniffed was Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass i.e the opposite side of the subtlety spectrum to Noontide Petals.

Tauer’s aldehydes emerge gradually, like Royalty getting out of a car, whilst Blue Grass jumps out of the bottle and bops you in the face. So I guess this taught me that aldehydes come in many forms, many of which I don’t yet know.

 Noontide Petals has a long top note, with the Bergamot staying true with a hint of clean soapy notes. However, what I love about this, and I may be alone in even thinking this, is that there is a lovely chalkiness to Noontide Petals. That same chalkiness made me fall in love with Balmain Jolie Madame, which to my nose smells of damp moss and chalky cliffs (I adore it and bought a full 100ml bottle) Noontide Petals has that same faint chalkiness, which makes the Bergamot, so often used in more astringent style fragrances, into a powdery soft citrus.

It’s around this point that the flowers turn up: the Jasmine, the Ylang Ylang and the Roses. Petals indeed: they bring prettiness and a background aroma rather than taking over.

And finally, the closing act! The clever evening stage of Frankincense (often known as Olibanum), Styrax and Patchouli. It’s worth waiting for, and has an incense style spice, rather than gourmand, with a hint of High Church and a dash of something spiky.

As usual with a Tauer fragrance, it lasts and lasts. Twelve hours so far. It’s a perfume that can take you from night to day, like a good black dress. It starts all delicate and pretty, then gets deeper and more mysterious by the time the sun goes down.

A bit like me. (*cough*)

Noontide Petals can be purchased from the Tauer website or Les Senteurs. My sample is so strong that it has lasted me three days and is still half full. Top marks for longevity.

Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights: Papyrus and Patchouli and Other Non Sequitirs

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 I was dead against trying this, having read Luca Turin’s review of “Fancy”, (he labels it apple pie) and believing it to be in the same vein. It very much is not. What persuaded me to buy’n’try Fancy Nights was an amusing and charming review by Katrina of Australian Perfume Junkies who described an evening wearing this scent. On asking her husband what he thought of her fragrance, he mistakenly thought the smell was the taxi they were in. A celeb scent that smells like a new taxi? I’m there! Where do I sign up?

Some further praise from Katrina led me to believe this could be another celebuscent surprise, much in the vein of Hilary Duff With Love: a wonderfully maverick non fruity floral, that frankly, has balls.

The second thing that made me buy this was the ridiculously cheap price of£14.95 on Amazon.co.uk.

Today my bottle of Fancy Nights arrived. With it’s dark green glass and faux gilt lid, it’s Arabian Nights Vegas Style. The smell is great. Not a blueberry in sight. Not so much as a whiff of candy floss. This is grown up and not all that commercial, and thank Goodness for that! (We have Steve Demercado, the creator, to thank for this refreshing restraint).

The top note is Papyrus, possibly where the “new cab” smell comes from. I have never come across Papyrus in a scent before and I can tell you that there is a definite “new office” or “modern bookshop” whiff about it. For someone who loves the smell of fresh paint and new carpet, this was somewhat of a kinky find.

The drydown kicks in with milky Patchouli and Sandalwood, leaving a dusty and milky spice trail. I didn’t quite get the Jasmine and Rose notes that this supposedly has, but the hint of Bergamot was there, and rather nice in among the Amber and Sandalwood.

All in all, this is new books, a bit of patchouli and a kind of milky, quiet spice.

The blonde, ditsy, sexy starlet did well. I am reminded of a quote from Dolly Parton: “I don’t mind when people call me a dumb blonde, because I know I know I’m not dumb, and I also know I’m not blonde”

Fancy Nights joins With Love in my Inexpensive Celebrity Scent “Hidden Gem” Hall of Fame.

PS If you like Prada Amber, then this is exceedingly similar, but you didn’t hear that from me.  I wasn’t here, OK?

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