Category Archives: Summer fragrance

Ralph Lauren Romance: Perfectly Good and Proper



Wearing Ralph Lauren Romance makes me feel that whilst working the casual vibe, my jeans should be pressed, my T shirt should be white and it’s OK to add pearls.  It’s clean and bright and floral and pretty. It’s wholesome and harmless and you can wear it to meet the in laws for the first time.


Out of all the bestsellers I have been reviewing lately, I think this one is the one I would be most likely to buy and wear (not counting Chanel No 5 Eau Premiere, which I would own by the gallon if I could).  Some may argue that being the owner of the much cheaper Next Just Pink amounts to the same thing as a bottle of Romance, and there are indeed similarities, but I wouldn’t say no to owning both.

Ralph Lauren Romance opens with  all things nice.  The prettiest of the flowers in the garden are all present and correct especially the delightful Freesia and her friend Rose. This is SO floral and clean smelling at the same time that it reminded me of Estee Lauder Pleasures, another scent I would never turn down. There is a citrus note and the faintest hint of Ginger in the top notes, just enough to anchor down the flowers and stop them  flying away.

The middle notes bring out a little of my old favourite Violet, but sniff once and it’s gone. The flowers in the middle are a little spicier: Carnation and Lily prepare us for the Musky, prickly base.


The basenotes very much remind me of the exquisite Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely, a bottle that will always be on my dressing table.  Both Lovely and Romance start with flowers, all feminine and pretty, before bedding into a base of Woody Musks and Patchouli.  In fact, this also reminds me of Lanvin Rumeur by St Francis of Kurkdjian, beloved by me but dismissed waspishly by Luca Turin. Both have a base that is so Patchouli and Woody that it almost, but not quite, scratches your nose, and I mean that in a good way. Bring it on.

Overall, Romance has been knocking around since 1998, and is still a steady seller.  Flankers are almost too numerous to name. Shame really, as I always feel that if a good scent has too many flankers, people forget why the original was so good in the first place, so busy are we dodging the “Fraiche” or the “Summer” or the “Night” versions of all the pretty things on the counter.

Romance is reasonably priced at around 25GBP for 30ml. The only hard part is making sure you buy the original and not one of the eight flankers.



This Week’s Latest Avon Release: Avon Femme


There’s an air of mystery in this week’s Avon brochure.  There is a full page advert for a forthcoming perfume with a little silhouette and  a call to “ask your representative for a sample today!”. Well my Avon lady, the lovely Jill, didn’t need to be asked and I had my sample with today’s order.

Top notes are: Lemon, Plum and Violet.

Middle notes: Jasmine, Orchid and Magnolia

Base notes: Amber, Peach, Wood, and Musk. (Thank you Fragrantica)

Avon Femme opens with bold Magnolia and Plum and wouldn’t smell out of place alongside many other shimmering treats on any beauty counter today. It reminded me of both Next Just Pink and Ralph Lauren Romance (another smellalike! It’s hard to stop seeing them once you start looking). One reviewer on Fragrantica compared it to Versace Bright Crystal and I will take their word for it since I am not familiar with many Versaces (yet).

versace bright crystalHowever, and herein lies the rub, as is the case so often with Avon, the basenotes go all Avon-ade on me.  You know how Guerlain perfumes have the Guerlainade accord?  Well the Avonade is always there too, except unlike Guerlain, it’s not very good.  So many Avon perfumes have been ordered by me. So many times my hopes have been raised and dashed. So many of them have ended with the Avonade base which smells like a cross between sweet plastic and cardboard. Sadly, Femme is no exception. One reason for this may be because Avon is are churning out new fragrances at a rate of knots, hence the sarcastic title of this article. In the last two months Avon has launched Instinct, Ultra Sexy, Our Story, Avon True Life, and now Femme.

Another reason could be that their low prices means that they compromise on good ingredients.  This shouldn’t be the case when Coty can churn out the excellent Coty L’Aimant for just over a fiver.  Perfume can be done cheaply and well. Sadly Avon seems to be  just doing it cheaply.

Avon never used to be like this.  They had a great stable of reliable perfumes that were ordered again and again by loyal fans. Foxfire, Topaze, Odyssey and Charisma were just some of my favourites. We could even talk about the delightful bottles which are now collectibles on eBay. (I had a beautiful glass and gold giraffe with Occur in it!)


Wouldn’t it be better if Avon brought back some of their heritage perfumes and made their stable of scents better quality, and with fewer of them?  I feel that we customers are being labelled as having very short attention spans, when most people find something they love and become loyal, if not monogamous, for life.

The only Avon scents I can think of that do not have the Avon accord/Avonade are Soft Musk (which I can’t wear because my mother and my sister wear it) and Rare Diamonds.  The celebrity scents also seem to sidestep the Avonade too, so they’re a safe bet, especially the LaCroix range. Quality not quantity Avon!

I guess I’m saying make me President of Avon Fragrance. Not much to ask. You will find me in the Avon archives for most of the week. Lots of freebies to take home and test.  I can start Monday.


Marks and Spencer Limited Collection: Butterfly



The Marks and Spencer fragrance department is a bit of a favourite stop off when I’m in town.  Sadly my local branch doesn’t carry the full gamut, but I often feel able to  buy myself a purse spray guilt free, especially when they have 20% off like they did yesterday.  Whilst not all of them are great, I can’t call any of them bad, except Florentyna *shudder*, which I can’t be cruel about since it has a steady and loyal fanbase.  For the prices I have paid, I have never been disappointed by a Marks and Spencer perfume.  Overall, they are decent affordable quality.

Today I am reviewing Limited Collection Butterfly, which comes in a pretty bottle and is an unmistakable homage to Marc Jacobs and his Dots and Daisies.

Fresh and light, this makes an ideal scent for a teenager, or for office day wear.  In other words, it’s more shower fresh than provocative or come hither.

Surprisingly, this opens with cucumber.  The surprise here is that usually I can’t bear cucumber in perfume, but this is combined with lemon, grapefruit and apple and smells wonderfully citrussy.  There are many comparisons with the more expensive DKNY Be Delicious, which also opens with lemons and cucumber, and has identical floral notes.


However, just before it comes too “herbal facial wash”, the flowers step in, and some of my favourites too: rose, violet and magnolia.  The magnolia was particularly noticeable.  The base notes are nothing to email home about: amber and musk, and not particularly robust at that.  In fact I would say the base is more violet, citrus and magnolia than anything else.

Longevity is not bad at around four or five hours, and by not bad, I mean that this cost me £2.80 for a 10ml purse spray yesterday, so I’m not going to complain about longevity for that price.

All in all, this is a good buy that I would recommend for young girls testing the path into fragrance, or for day to day wear where sexy isn’t an option. It’s fresh and pretty and will cut through the heat on a muggy day,  if we can remember that far back. I am looking though a rain washed window at a grey rain washed sky as I write this, so we will just have to use our imagination.

Chanel No 5 Eau Premiere: Ta dah!


You may recall my earlier review of Chanel no 5.  It’s not a favourite, but I understand and admire it.  However, Chanel no 5 Eau Premiere is a different story.

Still faithful to and recognisable as Chanel No 5, Eau Premiere is lighter, and to me, more wearable.

Eau Premiere still has the Aldehydes and the powdery notes of its sister, but the heavy Iris has gone, and the Ambery base.  As a fan of Green chypres, this is more my style. It smells reassuringly expensive too, but whereas a bottle of Chanel No 5 would gather dust on my (overcrowded) dressing table, Eau Premiere would soon run dry.


In many ways, it reminds me of First by Van Cleef and Arpels.  It almost smells too brisk and soapy on first application.  However, on warm skin, on a cold day, both First and Eau Premiere seem to bloom and grow as your day progresses. It smells more floral too: the Neroli, Rose and Jasmine radiate proudly, but do not dominate.

The base is warmer with a hint of dusty Sandalwood and a rasp of Vetiver. Longevity is excellent at around eight or nine hours.  I wouldn’t be tempted to top up in the middle of the day as I enjoy the milder middle and base too much.

This is a more palatable version of No 5 seemingly made for people like me who struggle with the thickness and creaminess of the original. Despite being a lighter version, there is no compromise on quality or sillage. This has not been simply watered down or made into cologne.  Eau Premiere can stand alone as a superb perfume in its own right.

Green, chypre, powdery, light and thoroughly adorable.  Thank you and Bravo to  legendary Nose Jacques Polge.


Chloe Narcisse: Busy As A Bee


I have happy memories of Chloe Narcisse. It was created in 1992 and I remember coming back from my local House of Fraser with a bottle of it in a little beribboned gift bag. For about two months I smelled of this every day before ending my fling and returning to my old faithful Chanel Cristalle. It was great whilst it lasted and we had some good times.


However, I tried it again more recently and I’m on the fence about it.  It has too many yellow flowers and honeyed sweetness for my taste these days, but it’s not unpleasant, it’s a bestseller, it’s good quality and very cheap (around 10GBP for 30ml).

The opening notes are bright and sillage can fill a room.  Sticky Marigold, yellow Narcissus , Sweet orange blossom and even  sweeter peaches.  The problem here is that my dislike of peaches means I can pick out the slightest hint from a mile off and this is a turn off alongside other sweet flowers.

The middle is equally sweet and reminds me of a very hot day: so sunny you can’t move for the heat, and a loud buzzing of bees in the overwhelmingly overstuffed flower beds. It’s all a little too much. Thankfully the pineapple that’s alleged to be present is not present, at least to my nose.  Many a pineapple has ruined a perfume for me. They are strictly for eating only.narcisse ad

The base is a little calmer, with surprisingly, Tolu balsam as a base note. There is a little spice and sandalwood and I think I prefer the base notes to the rest of it.  It’s like the smell that lingers after the overly lavish bouquet has been taken out of the room.  A faint trace that flowers were here once, but what remains is much more palatable.

I bought a bottle of this last year and had such mixed feelings about  it that I ended up selling it on eBay.  I can’t hate it, it gives me happy memories and I love the little green metallic neck on the bottle, but try as I might, my nose has changed too much to still be that 22 year old with the little gift bag and the free body lotion.


Yves Rocher Secrets D’Essences Neroli: Hmm…About Neroli…


 I recently ordered a set of minis from Yves Rocher and included in that set was a cute little 5ml bottle of Yves Rocher Secrets D’Essences Neroli.  The Secrets D’Essences is a superb range  and frankly, you can’t go wrong with any of them.  The standard is higher than the low price would lead you to expect.

Sadly, I didn’t get on with Secrets D’Essences Neroli as I simply don’t like Neroli on its own.  I’m not saying this is a bad perfume, but it’s not for me.  I prefer my Neroli in a choir, rather than doing a solo. If you are a Neroli fan, you have found a real treasure here and I wholeheartedly recommend it.


So why  am I not taken with it?  Well, there is the faintest hint of orange jelly in the background, then some white petals desperately trying to get in the door ( and I really want to let them in, but they are too weak to barge in). Then there is the honey, which I always, without exception, find too sickly in perfume.

So if oranges, honey and  a flutter of white petals is your thing, then this is a safe bet.   If you like your Neroli next to sturdier ingredients, then this is probably not for you.  Don’t forget about layering though- this would be good with musk or a green scent over the top.  If you’re on the fence, you can buy a purse spray on the Yves Rocher website for just 7GBP.

Short of Cash? But Like New Perfume? Try This


I always feel so ridiculously pleased with myself when I find a low cost perfume that is actually GOOD.  I always want to share it since I am a firm believer in the adage that smelling good should be affordable for all, regardless of budget. Forgive my smugness, but yesterday my Amazon package arrived containing a 50ml bottle of Coty Chanson D’Eau and a matching body spray.  It smells amazing and it cost me the grand total of 2.99GBP plus 1.95 P&P.

A great perfume under a fiver?  It can be done. They’re practically giving this away and because it’s Coty, you know it’s not made by some cowboy outfit.

According to Fragrantica Chanson D’Eau opens with Orange, Basil and Lavender and beds down into Mango, Jasmine, Sandalwood and Tonka Bean.

Image However, according to IScentYouADay, it smells like  Ô de Lancome’s thrifty cousin.  Whilst the quality is thinner, and there’s no mossy finish like Ô de Lancome , It smells like a retro green eau de cologne with a powdery, soapy citrus finish.  It is immensely refreshing and the longevity is not at all bad when you consider the price.

I get Green notes, Oranges, Lemons, and Bergamot from it, and at this price I can afford to use liberally.  It’s especially suited to those summer days when you need something sharp to cut through the heat, but it’s also great in Winter after a shower.

I have never seen it in a shop, but it’s readily available on Amazon and I will be stocking up. When perfume is this good, and this cheap, they usually stop making it, just to annoy me.

Valentino V Été : Violets, Roses, Musk and um…Lychee


I haven’t tried many Valentino scents, but I recently bought some samples of Valentino V Été  from eBay.  I was initially put off as one of the phials had leaked everywhere and I got a bit sick of the smell, however, wearing this on skin has changed my mind.

This is a scent that is delicate and feminine, yet the Musk undertow stops it been too “candy girl”.  It opens with Violets and Roses: lots of Roses.  Two types to be precise. Violets are one of my favourite notes, so I was very pleased to meet them again. This is very summery, without being ocean fresh (*shudder*) or astringent. It’s more of a floral bouquet than a spritz on a hot summer’s day.  I have to use the power of my memory here as it is misty and gloomy outside here in Wales.

I do feel that they could have left the Lychee out: it brings nothing to the party and interferes with my enjoyment of the Rose/Violet combo, which was fine as it was, thank you. The base notes die down into a steady, long lasting Woody Musk with an overall veil of Rose over it all.

Longevity is decent at around five hours, and availability is not wide, although I did find it on Amazon UK. It really would be a lovely scent if it wasn’t for that damn Lychee.


Paco Rabanne Calandre: A Vintage Style Mossy Treat


The first time I tried Paco Rabanne Calandre I wrote it off as smelling of celery.  It was only afterwards that I made the realisation that I was wearing Caron Yatagan on the other wrist and that it had coloured my view.

I tried Calandre again recently and was so glad that I gave it a second chance. With its mossy, green opening bursting with Aldehydes and bedding down into a powdery chypre, it has a definite 70s vibe to it. In fact, after about half an hour it smelled as if Guerlain made it.

Trying Guerlain Chamade on the other arm (more of which very soon), I could see definite similarities. There is a prickly, woody base to both of them, beautifully softened by powdery edges.

Calandre opens with Aldehydes, Roses and Bergamot, smelling not unlike Coty L’Aimant.  However Calandre is greener and the green notes stay true right through to the end.  The Bergamot keep it sharp, but it’s the Oakmoss, Amber and Vetiver that makes this deeply impressive in the last act.

This smells exactly like the kind of perfume my grandmother would have worn in 70s.  Its elegant, smart, wears a brooch and always has a mint and a clean handkerchief in its bag.  Although it is rumoured to have been discontinued, it is still available in Amazon UK for around £70 for 100ml and on for around $70. (prices subject to change).