Excuse me, I’ve been away but I’m back now. I went camping in West Wales and smelled lots of interesting smells, none of which were from a bottle, some of which I am in no hurry to revisit (wet shoes, calorgas), and some which were delightful (wildflowers, grass, burning logs, ozone).
Now that I’m back in the land of civilisation, the current Wales temperature is turning my thoughts to Autumn already. No, I’m not wishing my life away, but overcast and dull seems to be the default weather this August. This has had me turning to warmer scents and away from my beloved hesperide section.
Do you ever spray a sample and sniff it, and find yourself quite unable to stop? Thus was my reaction to E Coudray Ambre et Vanille.
Now, you may recall my recent article about vanilla, and about how I felt that it had been cheapened, but the right stuff is still GOOD. Well, this treasure fits right into that category. I am helpless to move my nose and may need smelling salts.
Ambre et Vanille opens with the kind of vanilla that smells unprocessed. It’s like licking a vanilla pod before it falls into the hands of the lets-make-cheap-copies scoundrels. This is like cold, rich butter. There’s no sugar, just a silky wood feel to it that smells both elegant and cool. It’s opening notes are framed by bitter citrus: oranges and limes. These are hard to distinguish, but they take off the rich edges, which in my opinion, stops this smelling too crème brulee in the first few minutes.In the middle there are stately and sober flowers, namely iris and heliotrope, both doing their job quietly. The vanilla, however, really lets go on the dance floor and sweeps everything under its warm, smoky broom with a touch of robust patchouli. The amber is there, but is never as dominant as this glorious vanilla with its edges tinged in cinamon and tonka. It is saved by a lack of syrup, yet keeps its warmth. This is a gourmand for the anti gourmand i.e yours truly.
Remarkably, this was first created in 1935. I doubt very much that we are smelling the original formula post IFRA regulations, but this is a beautifully blended vanilla scent that bears no resemblance to the synthetics that are so over-used on today’s saturated beauty counters.
E Coudray has been creating fragrance since 1822, despite several changes of hands. Their classic scents and ornate glass bottles deserve to be on every dressing table, namely mine.
You can buy E Coudray Ambre et Vanille from Escentual, Amazon.UK or House of Fraser. I find prices are reasonable at around £60 for a big 100ml bottle. Sample is my own, as is my opinion. I can’t actually remember where the sample came from, so if I have forgotten to say thank you, please forgive me.
Guess what the most searched for item on my blog dashboard is? Yep. By a country mile, it’s Avon perfume reviews or best Avon perfume. You may have gathered by now that I’m a big Avon fan and I see no sign of that changing any time soon.
With a rapid turnover of scents, Avon is almost simultaneously discontinuing and launching fragrance faster than my little fingers can type, but that’s the nature of the game when you’re keeping up with ever changing trends in the beauty market.
The Avon Unique Selling Point is that they provide decent quality fragrance that fits in with current trends and places them at an affordable price point. You won’t get Guerlain quality nor the originality of niche, but you will get good fragrance that could hold its own on the High Street at far higher prices.
My first Avon round up was in 2014 and my second was in 2016. Both get more hits than any post I have ever written, proving that Avon is definitely getting it right.
Here then, is my third and most up to date Avon round up based on what’s in the brochure right now. I promise not to include anything that’s discontinued nor anything I haven’t personally tried. Nostrils a-flaring? Let’s go.
Avon Little Sequin Dress
The very latest flanker in the Avon little dress series. This is a fruity floral that’s light and pretty and does the job nicely, thank you. You can read my review here.
A recent import from Avon USA, Imari is roses, lemon, sandalwood and aldehydes. You can read my review here. I have the EDT, but I would prefer it to be in eau de parfum form. It’s still a good handbag scent though.
A vanilla scent right down to its toes. This doesn’t work on me but smells utterly divine on my friend Ellie who fell in love with it. It lasted ages on her and she couln’t stop smelling her wrist. My review is here.
Definitely in my top five favourite Avon scents. This is a woody floral that is dazzlingly feminine. Fans of Sarah Jessica parker Lovely will like this. My review is here. In eth USA it’s called Prima.
Avon Far Away Infinity
If you like jasmine sambac and vanilla- a combination that has been huge in the last year, then you will love this one. I found it very similar to Paco Rabanne Olympea, as did many Fragrantica readers. My review is here.
Avon Far Away
Avon’s bestseller for so long that I’m willing to bet they will never stop making it. It even comes in 100ml bottles from time to time. This is a scent I smell very often on other people, possibly more than any other. It’s vanilla to the point of coconut, teamed with freesia, roses and jasmine, which ends up, as it began really: vanilla, coconut and white flowers. I always think it smells warm and woolly like a cosy white blanket. You can buy it here.
Avon Little Black Dress
Another bestseller. I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like it. This is an elegant mix of plum, gardenia, jasmine and peony, with a musky base of sandalwood. Some say its smells like Dior J’Adore, and they’re not completely wrong. You can buy it here.
Avon Little Lace Dress
A bang-on trend combo of jasmine sambac and patchouli. It reminded me of so many far more expensive scents that I’ve smelled over beauty counters, but costs under ten quid. You’ll know what I mean when you try it. My review is here.
Avon Far Away Bella
I love this fruity floral and wear it often. It’s light, long lasting and very- can I say girly? Is that OK? There it is. It’s very girly. And it wears a little scarf. Check out my review here.
Avon Perceive Oasis
Not just my favourite Avon, but in my top ten perfumes of all time. This is another long lasting fragrance: this time its peony, roses and jasmine that makes me smell like a pale pink bouquet. My review is here.
Created by Kenzo Takada himself, no less, Avon Life is a delightful take on violets that’s light as air and perfect for daytime. Every note is delicate and translucent, as if painted in watercolours. There’s waterlily, green tea, apple and cherry blossom. You can read my review here.
Avon Viva La Vita
Created for spring, but pretty all year round, Viva la Vita is crisp and fresh. It opens with apple and citrus, and morphs into a mimosa floral before settling into a cashmere woody scent. My review is here.
Avon Rare Platinum
A knockout tuberose scent that combines this unmistakable creamy white flower with the tang of grapefruit. It’s presented in a bottle that reminds me of those American air bullet caravans in the 1950s. Rare Platinum is sensational and I’m never without a bottle. At £7 it’s a real bargain. Read my review here.
Avon Silky Soft Musk
Not actually my favourite Avon, but again, they’ve come up with the goods by taking their bestselling Soft Musk scent and cloaking it in a silky vanilla accord. Very popular and only about a fiver last time I looked. My review is here.
Avon Soft Musk
I own a 50ml bottle of Soft Musk, as does my mother and as does my sister. It is a timeless floral musk with a hint of honeysuckle and peach. A couple of sprays and you can still smell it by tea time. My review is here.
An ambery powdery scent that was created in 1974. Avon discontinued this, only to bring it back thanks to customer demand, which was loud and long. My Avon Lady says this is her bestseller- many of her older customers have been using and buying it for decades. My review of Timeless is here.
17. Avon Attraction
Attraction is a fruity floral with a bit of praline in it, making it bang on the money right now. It opens with pear and pink pepper, travels via jasmine and orchid, and ends up with a gourmand woody finish. You can read my review here.
18. Avon Pur Blanca
Last but not least, and todays’ scent, is Pur Blanca. This is a beautifully clean smelling scent that’s full of powdery white musk notes and smells like you’ve just been freshly bathed. It’s one of my favourite clean laundry musks and always makes me feel fresh as a white linen sheet on a breezy washing line. My review of Pur Blanca is here.
Everything you see here is available from Avon UK and some are available from Avon USA. You can of course, also buy from your Avon rep if you are lucky enough to have one. I do and she’s lovely- Hello Jill!
Opinions are my own. I’m just a superfan and paid for all my own stuff.
Over to you
What’s your favourite Avon? Can you remember getting Avon stuff for Christmas when you were little? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
We are four perfume bloggers based in France, Holland, England and Wales who post on a different joint subject every couple of months. This time we have chosen Mainstream perfumes. You will find links to the other blogs at the end of the post. We hope you have fun reading our different choices and adding your own selection in the comments.
Now, doing this was fun, as it always is, but this particular theme had a touch of serendipity about for me. There I was racking my brains on what to write about and idling fiddling with the bottles on my dressing table. and the answer was right in front of me. I picked up five of my most reached for bottles and realized they are all mainstream scents bought from my local shopping centre. So here are five fragrances that I bought from the High Street in my local medium sized town in South Wales. In other words, if I can find them, then you’ll definitely be able to. PS By a happy coincidence, they are all really cheap.
First by Van Cleef and Arpels
Our love story began when I obtained a mini bottle of this in a set from Argos. It was true love and I was in full bottle territory shortly afterwards. This is the one I reach for when I want to feel grounded. In other words, it’s the nearest thing I have to a signature scent.
It unfolds from sophisticated aldehyde down to big peppery florals and ends in a mossy flourish. The genius behind it is none other than Jean Claude Ellena. A 60ml bottle of the eau de parfum is under £30, which I call outstanding value for money.
Another classic that I wear for comfort and when I want to feel like my old self. It was created in 1927, on the coat tails of Chanel No 5 and was made in the same style. L’Aimant was the signature scent of my late grandmother, who was always such a lady. It’s a stunning scent and the parfum de toilette is plenty strong enough. I wasn’t so keen on the cologne though.
L’Aimant opens with aldehydes and peaches and travels through a middle phase of all the best flowers: geranium, roses and jasmine. They segue seamlessly into the woody vetiver base with a dusty, powdery flourish that speaks of decades of class and untouched perfection. I still keep thinking the price is a joke, but it’s not, and neither is this excellent classic.
Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely.
I feel very strongly about SJP Lovely. It is my response to people who say they would never wear celebrity perfume and that cheap perfume doesn’t smell good. Lovely ticks both boxes. It’s a superb fragrance that I wear often. It’s long lasting and classy and the price is so low for quality of this calibre.
I was introduced to this by my dear friend and shameless perfume enabler Lisa Jones. She said she wore it for the school run, you know, those moments when you notice the time, grab a bottle of what goes with everything and run out of the house. Within days of trying her bottle, I had my own 100ml bottle. It was one of those fragrances.
Lovely is described as a silky white amber, but it’s so much more. It opens with lavender and apple martini (don’t ask me!) and orchid, which I don’t usually like. The whole thing morphs into a feminine, pretty floral, but as soon as that’s registered, it becomes woody and gets a bit of texture from the patchouli. Rounded off with amber and white musk, this is a stunning floral with an earthy, warm finish. I just love the lavender in it that keeps it so ladylike and timeless.
Lovely has outrun many celebrity fragrances and is regarded by many critics as being excellent in its own right. What makes me love it even more is that SJP herself was involved on every level and had very definite ideas about what she wanted. This was no mere “sign-here” deal. She got in the way and rolled her sleeves up.
Having said that, credit must go tothe talented noses who actually made it- Laurent le Guernec and Clement Gavarrry for Coty.
Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps
Like L’Aimant and First, this is a scent that will always be on my dressing table. There’s nothing like it, and that’s hard to find these days in a busy and often generic market. L’Air du Temps was created in 1948 and the dove on the bottle is the dove of peace in the turbulent post war period.
The scent is so familiar to me that it’s almost hard to deconstruct. It’s a gentle, luminous floral that also has peppery carnation, roses, jasmine, violet, a hint of talc and a warm mossy, woody amber finish.
Listing the notes does nothing to do it justice. If you’ve never tried it, you must, and if you have, then I’m sure you’ll know why I love it so. Nothing the brand has done since has ever beaten this.
Library of Fragrance
Library of Fragrance really, absolutely and truly does have a scent for every occasion. It’s a brand that has a friendly, playful image, yet provides serious quality perfume. It is ideal for building a scent wardrobe and learning to layer fragrance, or just for pinning down that nostalgic note you couldn’t put your finger on until now. My recommendations are Musk # 7, Mahogany, Play Doh (see my love for it here), Salt Air, Rain, Snow, Grass, Orange Flower, Four Leaf Clover, Gingerbread and Myrrh. Some of friends collect them and they look fabulous in the bathroom with their pharmacy style silver lid bottles.
LouLou has a special place in my heart. This was the scent I was wearing when I was catapulted into adult life from home to university back in 1988. Everything I did for three years smelled of this. I still have a bottle of this intriguing anise, plum, patchouli, oriental floral that pays homage to silent movie star Louise Brooks. I’m certain it doesn’t smell as it did, though Today’s version smells thinner and more metallic. I remember it was earthier and had a deeper resonance back in the 80s. Like all of us, it was best in its youth, but spraying this into the air takes me back to goth nightclubs, red wine, red lipstick and cigarette smoke faster than a time machine could.
It remains remarkably low priced and I adore the Art Deco bottle and stylised flowers on the box. I have a soft spot for all the Cacharel range, especially Noa and Anais Anais.
My Mood Scent 4 Chums
Find out what my Mood Scent colleagues put in their round ups. Read what their thoughts on mainstream scents are from the links below:
The other day someone told me that men wear aftershave and women wear perfume. Now, as you can imagine, I begged to differ. My opponent was adamant. Men can’t wear perfume and women can’t wear after shave. Since my adversary was my seven-year-old son, I couldn’t help feeling that I’d failed him as a mother. He also told me there’s no such name as Kenneth and that he can outrun a Jaguar, but I was less worried about that.
Let me be clear, as a politician would say (can’t remember which one, probably all of them), after shave is fragrance. Perfume is fragrance. Whatever it says on the label, if you like how it smells on you, you can wear it.
I do occasionally stage a heist into my husband’s side of the bedroom, but seeing as I chose them all for him, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Those nice people at the Perfume Society recently sent me the Men’s Edit Discovery Box, and discovery is the right word. Reader, I have been enlightened. It’s all very well my bemoaning the fact that men don’t wear enough roses, but how about I put my money where my mouth is and wear more so called “mascs” myself? Well, after trying the Men’s Edit box, I can assure you that there are at least three I will be buying full bottles of. Join me why don’t you?
Here’s what’s in the box. I’m going to write mini reviews below and shall focus on some in more detail later in the blog
Parfums de Marly Layton 1.2ml eau de parfum (normally £145 for 75ml)
Parfums de Marly is a brand that’s new to me. In the previous Perfume Society Discovery Box- latest launches, the women’s fragrance, Delina, was a classy and distinctive mélange of rhubarb and the pinkest of flowers. Layton is of the same high quality and classy distinction. It opens with apples and lavender and calms down into a multi layered wood-fest of every wood from light to to dark to smoky. A flourish of vanilla warms it up. It reminds me of a cosy oak paneled tobacconist. Beware- the middle phase blew my socks off.
Dunhill Icon Elite 2ml eau de parfum (£95 for 100ml)
The nose behind this is Carlos Benaim, who also made Dior Pure Poison, Viktor anf Rolf Flowerbomb and the original Ralph Lauren Polo fragrance, to name but a few from his staggeringly prestigious portfolio, My primary reaction to Dunhill Icon was “Aha! Suede”.
It’s a leathery nubuck scent, somehow stronger than suede, which I always identify as a softer toned down version of leather. Icon is dark and tarry, and so leathery that it almost tipped me over into liquorice territory. Addictively sniffable, this smells like the bare chest of a man who has just removed his leather jacket. Trust me, that’s A Good Thing.
Miller Harris Feuilles de Tabac 2ml eau de parfum (£95 for 100ml)
I adore this classic (pronounced Foy de Tabac) and declare it totally unisex. I reviewed it a while back and remember that I rather fancied making my whole house smell this way. It’s the scent of a wood paneled gentleman’s club in Paris. Smoky, woody, herby, lovely. You can read my review here.
Escentric Molecules E 032ml eau de parfum (£72 for 100ml)
This opens with big stringent, clean scented lime. With a hint of black pepper. The vetiver comes out straight away, and the whole thing stays that way for a few hours. After that, the base is sandalwood and clean musk. The lime and vetiver combo never quits though, and this had me thinking of dazzling white shirt cuffs and expensive suits. Yum
Escentric Molecules M 03 2ml eau de parfum (£72 for 100ml)
The only note listed fior this is Vetiver. However, I beg to differ. This stunnjing fragrance smelled like scorched palm leaves for a few seconds then disappeared. Then it came back as a sort of sharp, green citrus with a bitter orange edge. Throughout the day, it gradually morphed into what I can only describe as a grapefruit chypre. It’s the most vivid grapefruit scent: pith, juice and peel, with an earthy green base. I completely fell headlong in love with this and I’m so glad I wandered out of my comfort zone, because I would never have stumbled across this otherwise. Definitely a full bottle scent.
Clive Christian Nobile VIII Magnolia 1.5ml eau de parfum (£350 for 50ml)
Getting my mitts on a Clive Christian sample is always a rare treat. They don’t come along every day, that’s for sure. This magnolia fragrance is utterly transporting, and as a magnolia fan, I loved it. Again, I call this unisex. I’d marinate in it if I could. Longevity is outstandingly good. I shall be reviewing this one in more detail soon.
Clive Christian Nobile VIII Immortelle
1.5ml eau de parfum (£350 for 50ml)
This stuff really packs a bunch. Immortelle is also known as the everlasting flower- a bit like a yellow cornflower. It has a spicy, faintly curry like nuance, but here it is overtaken by the robust vetiver. It’s a strong, statement fragrance that shouldn’t be worn before breakfast, but should be strongly encouraged for evening.
Jimmy Choo MAN ICE2ml eau de toilette (from £30 for 30ml)
This is an invigorating grapefruit and lemon scent that reminded me a little of Annick Goutal Eau D’Hadrien. It’s fantastically light and revitalizing with a mossy finish and I’ve no idea why it’s “For Men” because I am seriously getting myself a full bottle.
Initio Parfums Magnetic Blend 7 1.2ml eau de parfum (£154 for 90ml)
Amplifying the power of pheromonal molecules to provoke instinct through a sublime breed of violence.
It’s a lofty claim and one that’s hard to talk about objectively. On Fragrantica, the description doesn’t do it justice- the only note listed is musk. However, this musk will react differently on your skin than it will on mine. On mine it smells like plasticine. On you it may smell different. The jury’s out, but I remain intrigued. Maybe in six hours’ time I will become irresistible to all. I’ll get back to you.
EDIT- six hours later my cats keep sniffing my arm where I sprayed this but I can smell nothing. Don’t be put off, I get the feeling this is like one of those lipsticks that changes colour according to your body heats. Results will vary.
Bentley Momentum1.8ml eau de toilette (£59 for 100ml)
This has huge sillage and longevity and is full of ambergris, sandalwood, moss and musk, described as an oriental Fougere, the Nose behind it is the legendary Nathalie Lorson, who has created more major fragrances than I could list, but I can tell you that she made Black Opium, so she knows a thing or two about big hitters, as this one certainly is.
Cristiano Ronaldo Legacy 2ml eau de toilette (£29 for 30ml)
Finally, my sons and I have some middle ground to talk about. Football meets fragrance. This is a very decent offering in Ronaldo’s name (let’s not even pretend celebrities make them, OK?). This a leathery floral musk with daring hints of peony and violet. I say daring because football fans are not known for their penchant for peony. I am happy to be corrected. This is nothing too edgy or original, and you can only find the flowers if our nose seeks them out, but it is the same vein as a good David Beckham scent, only with more fuzzy violets. The Jury’s out on whether it helps you win football tournaments.
A generous sample in manly grey packaging. I like that there are other goodies in Perfume Society Discovery Boxes in sizes generous enough to have a decent trial of the product.
Penhaligon’s No. 33 Moisturiser 5ml (normally £38 for 75ml)
This comes in the cutest tube in the world. It’s perfect for an overnight stay and smells divine, as you might expect.
Where to buy
You can buy The Perfume Society Men’s Edit from The Perfume Society website for £19 or £15 to subscribers. Subscribing cots just £25 a year and gives a wide range of benefits of which discounted Discovery Boxes are just one. My box was sent ot me by the Perfume Society in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own and this was not a sponsored post.
This fragrance came about as the result of a mad idea: capture the scent of the original shop at 34 boulevard Saint-Germain and make it into a perfume. Diptyque
Diptyque’s 34 Boulevard St- Germain was created to honour and remember the original shop where it all began: the scent of its wooden panels, resins and that unmistakable scent that only a cloistered interior can seem to conjure and retain.
The idea behind this fragrance was that it would take many of the classic facets of Diptyque bestsellers and wrap them into one fragrance, in order ot recreate the air inside the shop. Imagine if they did it with LUSH (sherbet flowers) or L’Occitane (fruited tea and roses) or Starbucks (coffee beans and chocolate). I’d buy them all.
I am woefully unfamiliar with many Diptyque scents so I can’t comment on whether this is an olfactory collage or not. However, what I can tell you is that the notes did not represent my impressions at all. In the same way, you can look at music score and hum the tune, but it won’t sound the same when it’s played by a symphony orchestra.
I was expecting a masculine, spicy, woody scent, reminiscent of a Savile Row tailor. After all, there were wooden panels and resins and spices within. However, what I actually get from this fragrance is an uplifting and feminine scent.
34 Boulevard Saint Germain opens with citruses which are vivid and restorative. These team up with bright, fresh green notes from fig and eucalyptus giving the impression of the world’s most uplifting herbal tea. I smelled grapefruit, lemon and orange. This bright, feel-good opening is almost immediately coupled with a feminine bouquet of peppery geraniums, along with roses, jasmine, iris and violet. I found the floral accord to be the most dominant of all, and radiantly beautiful.
The base is wood, resins and eucalyptus, but to be honest t, this stays true and sharp and never falls into heavy woody territory as I imagined it would. Towards the final act, I could smell that wood panelling, but this remained an intriguing unisex mélange of flowers, citrus and a lightly spice woody finale.
Diptyque 34 Boulevard St Germain is an intriguing scent that I’ve spent three days wearing and trying to describe. It’s full of contradictions and utterly addictive. It also has a hugely sunny outlook- maybe it was all those citruses that radiate and linger. I would definitely buy a great big full bottle.
You can buy Diptyque 34 Boulevard Saint Germain from John Lewis or the Diptyque website. There is of course, a matching candle too. Sample is my own, as is my opinion.
Welcome to the second post in the MoodScent4 collaboration! We are four perfume bloggers based France, Holland, England and Wales who will be posting on a different joint subject every couple of months. Each time we will individually pick a selection of five or so fragrances to fit a particular mood or occasion. You’ll find links to the other blogs at the end of the post.
We hope you have fun reading our different choices and adding your own in the comments.
Wherever you are in the world, you’re bound to have noticed that it’s wedding season: unless its currently Monsoon season where you are (i.e Wales), in which case, please read this later in the year when the sun’s out.
With a number of wedding invites thudding on mats (I’ve had three this year), we thought it only fair to help you out with an informal guide to what scent to wear if you are a wedding guest.
As a wedding guest, there are certain protocols one must stick to. For example, there’s the obvious blunder of wearing all white to a wedding, or wearing attention seeking outfits that may attract more looks than the poor bride gets. Also, as a wedding guest, this is no place for racy cleavage and skimpy skirts. If you’ve invited either of the Hadid sisters, you may want to pop a Post It note in their invitation. Call me old fashioned, but I’ve seen a bag of oranges wear more string than they had on at the Met Gala (hoiks bosom and clutches pearls).
Scent wise, the rules still apply, at least in my book. I wouldn’t wear anything loud or experimental that makes everyone look round in church for the wrong reasons. Neither would I always play it safe and stick with airy florals (although they certainly have a place).
Here then, are my own personal mainstays when I am invited to a wedding.
Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps
I wore this to the wedding I attended on Saturday. It’s a beautiful classic floral that will be familiar to many, yet in my opinion, has never been overexposed. It’s gentle, pretty, delicate and warm (dash of amber in the finish). This is one fragrance I will never allow myself to be without. Here’s my review.
4160 Tuesdays Raw Silk and Red Roses
With a name like this, this beautiful scent just cries out to be worn at a wedding, and it suits the occasion perfectly. This is my usual Go To scent for weddings but I couldn’t find it yesterday. Like Virginia Woolf, my box of minis and samples needs a Room of One’s Own. Raw Silk and Red Roses smells so deliciously of old fashioned roses, yet it has depth and facets that lift this away from any other rose scent that I have tried. You can read my review here.
Cartier Baiser Fou
I fell hard for this after not being enamoured of the original Cartier Baiser Volé. Where Baiser Volé was all about the lilies and not in a good way, Baiser Fou is the fun, more playful sister. Smelling like a cross between fresh raspberries, Milky Bars and expensive lipstick, this is perfect for a summer wedding where lipstick ends up on everyone. You can read my review here.
Andy Tauer Noontide Petals
I have yet to find anything that smells similar to this aldehyde beauty. It’s bright with citrussy lime and clean soapy aldehydes, but changes throughout the day. By the time the evening party comes around, you’ll be smelling of tuberose, jasmine, frankincense, patchouli and roses. It has the added bonus of giving you the sure knowledge that nobody else will be wearing it. Unless you are going to a wedding full of perfume peeps. You can read my review here.
Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely
This one gets lots of mentions on my blog and that’s because it’s wonderfully versatile, long-lasting, and as girly as pigtails. I adore Lovely. The florals give way to rich creamy woods and patchouli and the whole shebang lasts all day. I spray mine in my cleavage and the back of my neck and I was still catching delightful wafts at bedtime. It’s not overpowering and I guarantee it will go with your dress. For the price, this remains one of the best value fragrances I know. It’s usually around £20 a bottle and I’m wearing it today.
How about you?
What scent do you wear to weddings? Do you have a favourite or do you choose as you go? Do let us know. We’d love to hear from you.
I am chuffed to beans to have three international colleagues to collaborate with. Find out what Tara, Esperanza and Megan all had to say on the subject of wedding guest perfumes. Between us we cover Wales, England, the Netherlands and France, which makes us the last word on European fragrances. We decided.
I’ve been circling this one for a while and wondering how to review it. It sort of does and doesn’t fit into a neat category. It’s sort of a fruity floral and a spicy woody scent. It’s sort of provocative but you could wear it to work without inadvertently turning anyone on. In other words, it has cast its net very wide.
Created in 2004, the Elizabeth Arden Provocative Woman campaign was fronted by my fellow Welshwoman Catherine Zeta Jones. We also happen to be the same age, but the similarity ends there. We won’t get confused as twins anytime soon.
Provocative Woman opens with quince, raspberry, peach, ginger and lotus. The middle notes are apricot, freesia, papaya and orchid. The basenotes are hinoki wood, amber, red amber, sandalwood and cedar.
So you can see my problem. All the fruit from the fruit salad is in here, but with added spice and heat from the ginger and a warm woody finish. It’s hard to pick out the individual notes. It’s sort of a fruit Pimms accord with a touch of chai tea . There’s a lovely clean whiff of freshly washed hair in among the jelly but the flowers struggle to come to the fore.
All in all, I can’t help liking this crowd pleasing effort, even if it is a little bit of a mish mash. I didn’t used to be a fan of fruity florals but I smelled so many different ones that I was won over, and this one has won me over too.
I think the youth market is missing a trick with this fruity number and may well rule it out as being a “Mum” perfume. In fact, the fruitiness is fun and light and even playful. The woods don’t get too dark or deep and the faint, faint flowers offer a little flourish of girliness. I wouldn’t call this provocative, but it’s certainly womanly. It’s also a massive bargain. My bottle is a 30ml EDP and lasting power is not bad at around four hours.
Elizabeth Arden Provocative Woman is widley available. Try Amazon UK and Half Price Perfumes to name but two. Opinions are my own, as is this bottle.
If you’re in a floaty peony sort of mood, I’m afraid you’ve come out of the wrong lift. But if you’re looking for Black Osmanthus, follow that woman with the black lipstick. Follow her into that unmarked door with the smoky jazz drifting out of it. You’ll find what you’re looking for in there.
Black Osmanthus by Marina Barcenilla won this year’s Fragrance Foundation Award for Best Independent Perfume, and I for one, was jolly pleased. It’s not just because Marina does everything herself, including sourcing the absolutes and extracts that she makes her potent potions with, but because Black Osmanthus is not your usual dab it on after a shower and wear it to work fragrance. Black Osmanthus breaks the mould and gives a rude salute , which appeals to the rebel in me that so often, by necessity, gets supressed.
Osmanthus is the name for a genre of around 30 types of blossoming plants. Petals are usually white and the scent is likened to fruity, leathery blossom, often with apricot or peachy cadences.
Black Osmanthus is heavy, leathery, smoky and to my nose at least, has a hint of gorgeous creosote, like a freshly painted fence. This is by no means a criticism- creosote is one of my favourite scents ever.
Black Osmanthus opens with all the subtlety of an Avon Lady knocking your door down with a sledgehammer. On my skin, it takes me straight into smoky, leathery tar territory and I pretty much stay there. I should tell you that Marina wore this the night of her win and in a room full of fume heads wearing their favourite scents, this beautiful smoked leather was distinct and true throughout the evening.
This is made from layers of leathery notes: There’s rich saffron stamens, dark patchouli, almost sticky in its depth, bay rum and myrrh.
The flowers are, if you’ll pardon the pun, no shrinking violets: there’s tuberose and jasmine and they’re not dainty. The oakmoss sits with the other tough guys and makes this the ultimate dark, leathery spicy scent for those who have been seeking exactly this. It reminds me of those little vials of Middle Eastern attar with its amber juice that let the fumes escape like snakes.
Lasting power is fantastic. Spray at dawn and enjoy wafts of it until dusk. And then stay up all night.
As you may have gathered, last Thursday was the UK Fragrance Foundation Annual Awards Night (aka the Fifis) and saw a major gathering of the great and the good in the perfume industry. By a happy turn of events, I found my little old self there too.
I attended as a guest of the Clive Christian team, which was both an honour and a privilege and I thank them warmly for inviting me.
I hadn’t been sure that attending would even be possible, with the night being on a school night, during term time and in London, around 150 miles from South Wales where Fort Scriven is situated. After rearranging my family’s lives in order to facilitate my attendance, and a last-minute ear infection at 5.50am from my poorly son who failed to guilt me into cancelling, I was off.
I may have mentioned before how kind perfume people are. Their generosity and thoughtfulness is legend, and tonight was no exception. I was invited to join brilliant perfume writer Stephan Matthews and Fifi award winner and perfumer Marina Barcenilla for a meet up and catch up prior to the noise and chaos. This meant I did not have to walk in alone and when we reached the venue and I saw the sheer enormity of the event, I was wholeheartedly grateful to have people to walk in with.
There were proper paparazzi and a big sponsored backdrop for better known people than I to be photographed on. Red carpet was everywhere- I have some on my stairs at home, but it doesn’t have the same effect and it’s a sod to hoover. There were sequinned hosts and black tie waiters with champagne holders that could hold about thirty glasses, unlike me. I only had one and stuck to soft drinks thereafter. I had names to remember and an early bus and I could not figure out where my hotel was from a map. Adding champagne would have been a disaster. I might still be there now, looking for the exit.
Stephan and Marina are a hoot to hang out with and I was in awe of their knowledge: not just of the industry but of the process and raw materials. Marina, as you may know, is a talented perfumer and very modest with it. Plus hilarious and sweary also.
I had a chance to catch up with the charming Dariusz, aka Persolaise and a met a jolly good looking chap who looked very familiar. I asked him what he did for a living “I’m a model” replied the charming model Oliver Cheshire. If I was as good looking as him, I’d be a massive big head, but he wasn’t in the slightest and was delightful.
My chum and fume-idol Sarah McCartney arrived around then: a finalist in two categories for Mother Nature’s Naughty Daughters, and looking splendid in vintage couture, with vintage buttons gleaming like jewels. We founded a two-strong campaign to restore the evening glove. Check out our YouTube video above that’s snowballed into double viewing figures.
It was soon time to herd us upstairs to dinner and I was separated from my companions to join my hosts on the Clive Christian table. My eyes had popped out on stalks when on seeing goody bags on every chair, so I popped them back in and tried to look gracious and not like a goody bag greedy guts. Which I am.
The Clive Christian table were a truly lovely team of people and I was particularly bowled over to have a chat with Victoria Christian herself who, let me tell you, smelled INCREDIBLE. (She was wearing Clive Christian V and C together). Luckily, fragrance gatherings are one of the few occasions where you can sniff people you have only just met without getting arrested. Also on my table, I was delighted to see Jo Fairley of The Perfume Society, who I hadn’t seen since I attended her workshop last Saturday.
You will hear more from me about Clive Christian throughout the year as there are exciting launches coming up soon, so watch this space.
After being entertained 1950s style by the fabulous Bye Bye Baby- a superb Frankie Valli style singing act, the awards began in earnest. There isn’t room here to list all the winners, so follow this link to Now Smell This, but we had a lovely compere in the form of Natasha Kaplinksy, who looked great but was too far away to sniff.
I was disappointed that Sarah McCartney didn’t win, but delighted that Marina Barcenilla won for Black Osmanthus. Marina and Sarah are true perfumers who make their own stuff, source their own materials and get their hands dirty. I love perfumers who do that and if it were up to me, I’d create a special category for the dirty hands gang.
The Fragrance Foundation was celebrating its twenty fifth birthday that night and it was fascinating to watch a showreel of perfume ads over the last 25 years. How things have changed! The night was finally over, all bar the dancing, but this tired Cinders could bear no more after a very long day. Finding the exit was like trying to leave Ikea but I just about made it out of there before I turned into a pumpkin.
Them Fragrance Foundation people sure know how to throw a party.
Goodnight, Nos da, Pyjamas.
Who are you wearing?
Samantha Scriven was dressed by The Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice Charity Shop, Cwmbran and the YMCA Shop Blackwood. Jewellery by Marks and Spencer from four years ago. Make up by Avon and Rimmel. Hair by Salon Scriven and two hotel mirrors. Scent of the Night was Le Jardin Retrouvé Tuberose Trianon.
Some blog posts are very hard to write because I’m so afraid I won’t do them justice. This is one of them. I was on such a high after coming back from the Perfume Society Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshop that I was neither use nor ornament for about 48 hours.
First of all, The Perfume Society is three years old and is the only body of its type in the world. They know this because they googled to find a perfume society before realising there wasn’t one. The Perfume Society is the brainchild of legendary beauty editor and writer Jo Fairley and her business partner Lorna McKay. I have been reading Jo’s work since around 2000 ish, before blogging was invented and back when I was a One Scent woman.
The workshops are not just exclusive to London, so it really is worth subscribing to The Perfume Society, if only to get access to The Scented Letter and Discovery Box discounts. The workshop I attended was in the basement of The New Moon Tapas Bar in Clifton.
It was a wonderfully informative, but informal session that made me feel like I was BFFs with everyone around the table, and not just my real life BFF Lisa, who was also there. Jo is an engaging speaker and delivers the workshop in an accessible and inclusive way that felt like a chat with a friend except with far more “Wow! I never knew that” moments.
You may think that having written 817 blog posts about perfume that I might know a lot. Well I know about 1% of what I actually want and need to know. However, you very much do NOT have to be a blogger in order to attend. For one thing, the amount of experience and knowledge you need to attend the workshop is ZERO. No experience required.
So, what happens? Well, we were made comfortable with refreshments and introduced ourselves, which wasn’t cringy like work training, but friendly like meeting your tribe. There were six of us altogether and it was especially lovely to meet Claire, who I have been following on Instagram and talking to on the perfume group Eau my Soul.
Jo explained that part of the mission of The Perfume Society is to put us back in touch with our sense of smell, referred to by Helen Keller as “The Fallen Angel of the Senses” and she was right. Back when we were cavewomen, we could sniff out herbs, non-toxic berries and woolly mammoths, but now our sense of smell has been blunted by modern conveniences.
The workshop goes about starting us on the path to putting this right. We did some very interesting sniffing, giving our impressions in an atmosphere in which there was no right or wrong. There was also a very interesting exercise in which we tried minty Green and Black’s chocolate to see if it was smell or taste that gave us the minty hit. The answer really surprised me. Plus, you know, Green and Blacks. *swoon* (something else we have Jo to thank for).
The third section was the bring a bottle party. Some of it was 80% proof. Yes, I’m talking fragrance. Prior to attending, we were asked to bring a bottle of our favourite scent. I had to be very strict with myself and put the wheelbarrow back before leaving the house with just one: Art de Parfum Gin &Tonic.
My adorable colleagues, as I now thought of them, brought a few each, so we had great fun diving on the stuff we hadn’t smelled yet and sharing opinions. On top of that we were given goody bags to take home. Reader, this was better than my birthday.
As if that wasn’t enough fun, we then got the chance to buy Discovery Boxes and the gorgeous Perfume Society Scented Skincare set at big discounts. As if that wasn’t enough, we then go to visit a brand-new niche perfumery called Shy Mimosa, which I will write about separately, and where we also had a big discount.
So, was it worth it going? Did I improve my sense of smell? Yes, and yes and it was wonderful and I had several OMG moments where I made surprising discoveries and oh, my stars, what a day!
If you ever get the chance to attend one, go. Just go. They’re not just in London and you don’t need to know anything beforehand. If there’s not one near you, then email The Perfume Society and tell them. They will listen. Unless you live alone on a remote island that can only be reached by catamaran at high tide. Apart from that, if enough people clamour, then you never know…