Category Archives: Summer fragrance

Gorgeous and a Bargain: Avon Far Away Bella

far away bella

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? faraway 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.

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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 far away exoticheady.  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.

Stockists

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.

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Exclusive! 4160 Tuesdays: Codename Sea Goddess.

mermaid red
Mermaid painting by Victor Nizovtsev

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.

mermaid
John William Waterhouse

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.

sea goddess boxIt 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.

bsac
Bsac

Stockists
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.

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Cartier Baiser Fou: Lipstick On My Collar

baiser fou bottle

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.

ysl lipstick

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.

Stockists

My sample of Cartier Baiser Fou was from the Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box.  You can buy full bottles from House of Fraser and John Lewis, among others. Opinions are my own.

modernclassics ps

 

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The Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box: My Review

modernclassics ps

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:

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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

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

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.

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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.

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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.columbia

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.

kate-middleton-wedding-dress-inspired

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.

hope

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!

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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.

ps mypic

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!

Stockists

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.

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Dear Aunty Sam: More of your Perfume Problems Answered

a passing cloud arthur hughes
A Passing Cloud by Arthur Hughes

Two weeks ago, I invited you to send me your perfume problems.  rsz_dr_samThis 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 andfidji beach 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!

Dear Mia,

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 baccaratsprayed 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 casinothere 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?

rsz_dr_samDo 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 iscentyouaday@gmail.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.

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EDIT: With warm thanks to the BlackNarcissus whose kind advice led me to revising my first opinion! Thanks Neil xx

Look! A Tiny Little Video!

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.

 

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Dear Aunty Sam: Your Perfume Problems Answered

 

perfume problem
A Tryst, John William Godward

Earlier this week, I asked you to send me your perfume problems. I then chewed the arm of my glasses and looked studious, whilst reading them,  just like a proper Mumsy Agony Aunt.

rsz_dr_sam

I was so pleased to get so many questions, some of which I answer below.  Incidentally,  I also see questions on my WordPress dashboard which tell me what people type into Google in order to be led to my site.

There are two questions that I see every single day without fail. Yes, my friends, the two most popular questions are:

What’s the best Avon perfume?

What cheap perfume smells good?

Now you may have noticed that these two particular questions have entre blog posts devoted to answering them.  Nobody can accuse me of not giving my readers what they want.

lbdfraiche-image-pic1With that having been said, here are some other questions that I received this week.

I am very grateful to all who sent me a Dear Aunty Sam question. I wish I could tell you that there’s a T-shirt and a mug on the way to you, but I can’t.  I think I may repeat this experience in future, so please do send any questions as they occur to you. I’ll be your olfactory DJ.

avon retro3

Dear Aunty Sam,

Like you, I miss Gucci Envy and only have a little bit left. What can I wear instead when this runs out?

rsz_dr_samA good question and one to which I still seek an answer myself. We’ve asked the Why Did it End? question but the wind took our words away and no answer was given. Meantime, here are some that I find have some of the Gucci Envy notes in common, namely green notes, lily of the valley and hyacinth.

envyJo Loves No 42 The Flower Shop, Chanel Cristalle, Issey Miyake A Scent and Isabella Rossellini Manifesto, if you can find it. Over on Fragrantica, some Envy fans claim that Penhaligon’s Lily of The Valley and Elizabeth Arden Fifth Avenue smell similar, but I haven’t smelled the form er and I don’t agree with the latter, due its dominant freesia, but worth a try to see what you think.

Dear Aunty Sam,

I’ve fallen in love with Yardley’s Polaire. But as ever with Yardley 20 minutes in and unless I’ve gone nose blind I can smell nothing at all. Is there something out there that smells the same, but with actual longevity and a bit more sillage?

rsz_dr_samI haven’t smelled Yardley Polaire recently so I’m working blind here.  However, I notice that the prominent notes are pear, freesia and rose. There are two scents that also contain these notes. One is Dior J’Adore and the other is Elizabeth Arden Fifth Avenue  ( although more freesia than pear) However, if you want to stick with Polaire, there are a couple of things you can do to extend its life.

polaireWhat I usually do is spray my hair.  Hair carries scent very well- usually until bedtime!  However, some people claim this dries hair out.   Secondly, and I’m going to talk boobs here, spray it in your cleavage before you get dressed. As your body heats up throughout the day, you get nice little wafts under your nose. You can also make scent last longer by moisturising skin before applying it. Don’t forget  a quick spray on your lapels or scarf.

There is another theory, however.  Some people say that when a perfume really suits you, you stop being able to smell it.  This is so subjective that I find it difficult to prove, but there may be some truth in it.  Maybe Polaire just really suits you!

Dear Aunty Sam

I have begun to make some fragrances.  I have at least three that are absolutely delightful, unlike anything else I’ve ever tried. I really feel there’s a market for these, especially in this size, being affordable for almost everyone.

 How do I go about getting someone to be willing to sell my fragrances in their shop (either online or not) or work with me in promoting mine?

 rsz_dr_samFirstly, congratulations on your perfumes.  I do love an entrepreneurial spirit.  Secondly, before you sell them commercially, do they meet the necessary compliance? There are many perfume ingredients that have been banned by IFRA in order to ensure that scents do not cause rashes or reactions. Forgive me if I’m preaching to the converted- you may well already know this. Thirdly, have you tried Etsy? There are many beautiful handmade scents there and it strikes me as a good starting point.

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Me with Sarah McCartney at the 4160 Tuesdays studio in 2014.

I would really recommend one of the Studio days run by Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays. What she doesn’t know about making and selling perfume just isn’t worth knowing. You can find out more from the 4160 Tuesdays website.  Oh, and in answer to your question about promoting your scent, my advice is, as you might imagine, harness the bloggers!

That’s all I’ve got room for this week. I hope you enjoyed my first brave fumble into the mailbag. Do you agree with my responses?  Do you have any questions of your own? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

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Paul Smith Portrait For Women: Where Do You Go to My Lovely?

paul smith portrait

“And you sip your Napoleon brandy, but you never get your lips wet”

I was recently sent a bottle of this by a dear friend of the blog, and of me, Rachael.  For which, many thanks.  Paul Smith Portrait was inspired by his love of travel and photography and Portrait is the result of a collaboration with Barnabe Fillion.

I was unsure what to make of Portrait at first, but the more I have worn it, the more I like it.  My initial thoughts were of roses, and the rest came together later, like a jigsaw.  The roses are restrained and demure,  and stay neatly in their place.  This is a very classy scent that never puts a foot wrong.

The rose note has been coaxed out of its tendency to dominate by the inclusion of bergamot and green tea. These classically green notes transorm the rose into an airy scent with a translucent feel. The middle notes add jasmine to the chorus, establishing this firmly as a green floral.  In fact, the inclusion of the tea note made me think of Penhaligon’s Malabah.

In the base there  nestles clean laundry musks and a hint of resin, although just a faintly spiced toe in the water, rather than fully formed spicy rocks and balsam.

Paul Smith Portrait is subtle, feminine and clean. It’s a gentle floral that will appeal to your girly side when you’re trying to tone down your inner tigress.  Paul Smith Portrait For Women  is that wide eyed face you pull when you say “Who me?  How could you think it?”

Stockists

Paul Smith Portrait for Women is available from Fragrance Direct  or from the Paul Smith website.

Acknowledgments. Photo from PaulSmith.com.  Opinions are my own Bottle from Rachael P.  Big cwtch from me to you. x

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Perfume Questions? Ask Aunty Sam…

rsz_dr_sam

Dear beloved readers,

Lately I have been asked many questions by people with queries about perfume. These vary from “what smells like…?” queries to “Where can I get…?” queries. It got me thinking, my friends.  How about a little post that’s all about your perfume questions and queries?

Just email me or post your question below or on Twitter or Facebook and I will do my very best to answer them.  You can even be anonymous if you like!

So, fire away.  Do you want to know if there’s a smellalike to a long discontinued favourite?  Does a newly reformulated favourite resemble an old one?  Which are the best cheap and cheerfuls?  Tell Aunty Sam your scented dilemmas.  I’m  all ears and all nostrils!

Email iscentyouaday@gmail.com

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