I like a pretty Rose scent at any time of the year and I quite like Givenchy Very Irresistible L’Eau en Rose. However, I would like to say one thing to Givenchy: You have not only made twenty nine Very Irresistible flankers but why are no less than EIGHT of them Rose flankers with slightly different names?
This is a serious turn off and if Givenchy was trying to date me, this alone would stop me from calling them back after the first date.
I always find too many flankers can start to look both self congratulatory and complacent. One or two carefully made flankers can be good (one example is Chanel Cristalle Eau Verte– a divine flanker that deserved to be made), but make too many and the original becomes devalued in a stack ‘em high sort of way.
However, having got that moan out of the way, I will say that Givenchy Very Irresistible L’Eau en Rose (what a mouthful!) is a delightful and fresh, clean smelling Rose that sadly goes a little bit vinyl on my skin after half an hour. It is described by Givenchy as a “frosted rose”, and that’s a pretty idea, but I’m not sure quite what that translates to. It makes me visualise frosted fruit with a faint sugary bloom.
There are only three notes listed on Fragrantica and they are: Blackberry, Rose and Musk. What I like about this is that the Blackberry, whist adding juice and a bit of weight to the airy Rose petal, is restrained enough to prevent this from being a fruity floral mélange.
L’Eau en Rose is pretty, feminine and lasts about, oh let me see now, nearly two hours. I do actually like it: there is a realistic feel to the initial blast of fresh rose petals, but sadly it cannot be maintained. If it could, I would be all ears ( and nostrils!). Longevity could do with a bit of a push as well. Conclusion? So nearly there and so nearly wonderful. And for Goodness sake, Givenchy, calm down on the flanker overkill!
I know, I know, I never thought I’d write Avon and Radiohead in the same sentence, but it was the first thing that leapt unbidden to my mind when trying to describe Avon Incandessence.
I tried Incadnessence long ago before I was best mates with Fragrantica and before my perfume obsession had gone full throttle. At the time it reminded me of the colour yellow. It was bright yellow to my mind, like plastic yellow cellophane. I didn’t like it.
I now have a bottle in my possession (not for long, I’ll be passing it on) and all I can think of is the Radiohead song Fake Plastic Trees.
There is some note in here that really bugs me, but I can’t name it. I would have thought it was cheap fake sunshine since it tries so hard to be a sunny, floral scent, but ends up smelling like plastic. I looked up the notes on Fragrantica for a clue and this is what I found:
Top notes: Orchid, Lily of the Valley, Cyclamen. Middle Notes: Tulips, Peony. Base notes: Orchid.
Here’s where I think the mystery is solved: in every description of Tulip, Orchid and Cyclamen, it is pointed out that these notes do not come from the flower but are synthetic. Now at Avon prices, we can’t expect Rose Absolute or priceless oils, but to use three synthetic notes as the leading stars? Well, the synthetic-ness isn’t strong enough to carry a scent and make it good. This total lack of authenticity (which is possible at a low price- look at Coty L’Aimant) means that Incandessence is, to me at least, a plastic mess. It smells cheap and overly sweet and the initial yellow cellophane imagery remains.
I acknowledge that many floral notes are created in a lab, and that IFRA regulations saw off a lot of genuine petal action in the manufacture of perfumes, but dear Avon, at least try and hide the fact!
To be honest, I wouldn’t even use it as air freshener. But what do I know? Customers won’t let them stop making it. This is a steady seller and Avon has even started bringing out flankers- a sure sign that Incandessence is here to stay.
Well what do you know? A Pierre Bourdon that I like. Bourdon is a gifted perfumer but sadly, everything he makes seems to rub me up the wrong way (for a visual, try doing this to a cat- the look on its face!)
My friend Lisa Wordbird, ever generous, let me borrow this one and I initiallythought it was a bottle of expensive after sun. The packaging isn’t a million miles away from Piz Buin or Ambre Solaire. In fact, there are definite whiffs of both, more of which anon.
It was an almost immediate reaction to compare this to the 4160 Tuesdays scent “What I Did on My Holidays” ( see my earlier review). Both have that appealing, sunny-days-are-ahead feel to them, and have included a little shot of a sun lotion note, and a hint of sugary sweets to keep the nostalgia going in gloomier climes.
Jil Sander Sun has a deceptively large number of notes. I would have said Vanilla, Orange Blossom, Coconut and Tuberose, with an Amber and Patchouli base. My evaluation was a bit hit and miss, but will give you a clue as to which notes are dominant and which are back up singers i.e you don’t notice them individually but the performance would be different if they weren’t there.
Here are the notes as stated by Fragrantica (How I love that site!)
Middle notes: Carnation, Ylang, Orris Root, Rose, Heliotrope and Lily of the Valley.
Base notes: Musk, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Amber, Benzoin, Tonka Bean, Styrax and Vanilla
This is a rather clever Oriental that is designed to work on a hot Summer day. Many Orientals are de trop in hot weather, but this one is perfect. Reading the notes and sniffing my wrist I am marvelling at M.Bourdon. How does he doe it?
This has a floral sun cream style opening, with the Orange Blossom very noticeable, settling down to a creamy mid note of yes…barely there Heliotrope ( it reminded me briefly of Guerlain Apres L’Ondee in the middle). The flowers are not light and airy, but rich and milky, with spicy Carnation and sombre Orris Root leading the way into the basenotes. The base notes last for a long time and make for a pleasant Oriental finish that is both smooth and light. Despite containing heavy hitters such as Styrax and Benzoin, this miraculously seems just right for a day in the baking hot sun.
This is perfectly unisex, despite there being a men’s version, and if you time it right, it could take you from a sandy seaside afternoon into that cool, welcoming bar by the evening. The Oriental notes are just enough to catch on a breeze as you move. Nothing too heavy, but still enough to be interesting.
This is a clever scent and one where I can finally enjoy a Pierre Bourdon. Prices start at around £20. Jil Sander Sun would both complement and enhance the scent of any sun screen, but is great worn alone when the sun can’t be had for love or money.
I guess I just can’t get on board with the fact that this is a Guerlain. With over a hundred years of heritage scent and of being the last word in Classics, it just surprises me that there are suddenly raspberries everywhere on the sober polished glass of the Guerlain counter.
La Petite Robe Noire Couture is a close relative of La Petitie Robe Noire EDT, though not so much the EDP which smells like vinyl on me. I have reviewed both elsewhere on my blog- just use the search box. My site hates it when I link to myself- it rejects narcissism.
Hmm. Where do I start? I shall start with the startling Raspberries, which I mistook for Cherries at first. I know there is a current thirst for all things sweet and berry like but I never thought Guerlain would be either affected or infected by the curse. The opening is like a less good version of Dior’s Hypnotic Poison. There are almonds somewhere, although not listed in the notes, and also there is jam. I am alarmed.
Breathe easy friends; it was just a loud opening number by a drunk. The second and third acts are a little more respectable. The Rose seems to race the Raspberries to the finish, but comes second: the dratted Raspberry won’t quit. However, luckily, the Patchouli, Vetiver and alleged Oakmoss calm everything down and make this rather pleasant. I say alleged, because it’s as if this scent was shown a picture of some Oakmoss and told to guess the rest. It’s not there, but maybe it is. Nope, it’s gone.
In a nutshell, this is a raspberry version of La Petite Robe Noire EDT. It’s pleasant and if you bought me a bottle I would probably use it without putting it straight onto eBay. If that sounds like I’m damning with faint praise, then it’s because I am.
If I had a Guerlain gift voucher, I can comfortably think of seven Guerlains that I would buy before I considered this. It’s almost impossible to believe that this is from the same house as Vol de Nuit and Chamade. I can’t really blame Guerlain for meeting the desires of modern consumers, and in meeting that requirement, they have done it well, especially in the expensive smelling base notes. It’s just that when I reach for Guerlain I want aged classics, dry as dust and rich as Croesus. I realise the market has different tastes these days, but sometimes, when it comes to scent, I want to be a stick in the mud. Incidentally, if you like this, try Miss Dior Cherie. It’s not a million miles away.
You may recall my earlier review of Cath Collins Lily Fandango. She is a an Indie perfumer with a small range of fragrances concentrating on quality rather than quantity. All made in England and inspired by the garden, this is a range I recommend for those who like Jo Malone and Jo Loves.
Flowers of the Orient really reminds me of a more famous fragrance and for the life of me I can’t put my finger on it. Suffice to say, if this were sold in High Street outlets it would fly off the shelves.
This is a warm floral Oriental that opens boldly with a hint of citrus: at a guess I would say Bergamot. The middle notes pick all the prettiest flowers, rather than the heavy hitters such as Tuberose or Gardenia. In the middle there is Freesia, Peony and Rose. The flowers are kept on the fruity spectrum with the aid of a little Pink Pepper, without quite going down the well trodden fruity floral track. The base notes are Amber, Vetiver and Patchouli and it’s their influence that stops this from being too light a floral.
Maybe it’s Loewe Aura that this reminds me of, or maybe even a less synthetic, less sweet version of Armani Si. That dash of Vanilla is widespread today, but Cath Collins holds back and uses it with a light hand, so it doesn’t go all Vanilla cupcake on us.
Either way, it’s an excellent warm floral that is light enough for daytime wear in the Autumn or evening wear all year round. The ingredients smell more natural than many mainstream scents today. If you wore this reasonably priced EDT (usual price £39.50 for 50ml), you would smell like you a spent a lot more than you actually did. Besides which, we need to support the Indies or they won’t stick around.
Cath Collins wisely offers a decent sample service so you can try before you choose. So refreshing when you don’t want to risk £40 on a blind buy.
I recently bought a bottle of Yria from Yves Rocher, at the same time as I bought a bottle of Yves Rocher Clea. Both were a blind buy and the special offer that week was buy one get one free- hence I bagged both scents for a total of £15.
You may recall my earlier review of Clea, elsewhere in this blog, which I liked very much. (It smells a bit like Dove!) I was immediately taken with Yria. Thoughts of long lost gem Avon Foxfire came to mind as I smelled it. It is feminine and classically “perfumey” i.e it smells how I imagined perfume ought to smell when I was growing up. It’s a broad combination, and I suppose, if forced into a corner, I would describe it as an Oriental. However it’s a light floral Oriental that retains it prettiness throughout.
The notes, according to my beloved Fragrantica, are as follows: Top notes: coriander, mandarin and Bergamot. Middle notes: Gardenia, Lily of the Valley, Rose, Jasmine, Magnolia. Base notes: Sandalwood, Tonka bean, Patchouli, Amber, Vanilla.
It opens with fresh citrus florals and has a certain zing when it goes on. However, that zing is no hesperide: right from the start the floral notes (all the big hitters are present and correct) warm up the citruses, so this doesn’t smell too eau de cologne.
Once the flowers move in, and you can particularly notice the Gardenia and Rose, the scent starts to warm up with a little Amber and Patchouli. With the juxtaposition of Magnolia over Patchouli, there are hints of Narciso Rodriguez For Her and Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely. However, Yria has the Amber and the Sandalwood to make the base warmer and more of an evening scent. I have to say, I adore this, and its lovely bottle. It’s very versatile.
You could wear it to work (but go easy first thing in the morning) and wear it in the evening too. It’s a warm Oriental lite with enough flowers to stop things getting to heavy. Longevity is great at around six or seven hours, and quality is superb. I can’t believe it was the price it was. It knocks the socks off most of the modern High Street scents I have smelled in the last year.
Frugal Fragrance, Scents on a Shoestring, Perfume for Paupers: phrase it how you will. The truth is that these days the cost of living is high and luxuries are the first to go. Choosing my perfume for the day is a few minutes I treasure. I certainly have plenty of choice but only around four bottles on my dressing table cost more than thirty quid (and were mostly gifts).
I am often asked how I can afford to sample a new perfume every day and I always answer almost apologetically: I have very few expensive full bottles and sometimes a review is prompted by a few free squirts at my local beauty counter. The rest are inexpensive bottles, samples or purse sprays. If I had had to spend a lot of money to do this it wouldn’t have been possible.
Granted, I have two advantages: a very generous friend without whom this blog would be shorter and harder to write. I know how lucky I am. The second advantage is that as a blogger, I often get sent free sample sizes to trial. However, apart from that, I truly believe that it is possible to smell good without breaking the bank.
On the High Street
There are several ways in which to enjoy perfume on the cheap. Firstly, I no longer dismiss cheap perfume the way I used to long ago. Rummage long enough in the High Street fare, and you will find gems that cost well under a tenner, and even a few for under a fiver. In my local Bodycare shop, I have bought 100ml of Cabochard for £8.99 and a bottle of Jovan White Musk for Women for £6.19. Then there is the bargain Queen of them all: Coty’s L’Aimant– and I am neither the first nor the last to find similarities between L’Aimant and Chanel No 5. Created in 1927, L’Aimant has a retro feel that reminds my esteemed fellow blogger The Perfumed Dandy, of an Agatha Christie heroine. A small bottle can cost just over a fiver and is widely available.
Back in the 70s, drugstore classics were everywhere and everyone wore them. They have lost popularity now but are worth revisiting. Their lack of popularity means they are cheap too, so it’s a win-win situation if you like bargain chypres and aldehydes. I have purchased Panache for just £4.99 on Fragrance Direct- and the longevity is around 12 hours, making this classic aldehyde excellent value. I have also managed to purloin (I love that word) a bottle of retro favourite Tweed from my local chemist for £4.99. Recently a little bottle of Chique arrived in the post for just £3.99 and it is full of Citrus and Oakmoss. (see my rave review).
In Praise of Purse Sprays
Then there are the purse sprays. I have a bouquet of these on my dressing table, none costing over a fiver. Marks and Spencer does an excellent range of perfume and almost all of them are available in 10ml and 25ml sizes, starting at £4, making these affordable treats. I also find that very often there is a sales brochure in my Avon catalogue and I have in the past bought a purse spray of Little Red Dress for just £3.99. Avon are doing these more regularly now and you can get them for just £3. I recently picked up a 10ml bottle of Next Just Pink for just £2 in my local Next Clearance store, and it’s become a firm favourite.
Go Niche and Bijoux
If you have a lot of perfumes and samples, a small amount can last nearly a year if you rotate it with other scents. It is possible to have sample sizes of great niche scents for special occasions that would normally be prohibitive when bought in full size bottles. However, there’s no reason why anyone should be left out, regardless of budget.
Determined and lengthy browsing on Amazon has helped me find Coty Chanson D’Eau– a citrussy hesperide at only £6.99 for 50ml including a shower gel. Even I was sceptical at that price, but pleasantly surprised at this lovely green cologne on receipt of it. Another recent Coty find was Coty Aspen for Menat £8.29 a delightful Lavender/Pine combo that smells like Creed Green Irish Tweed . Don’t rule out Old Spice either- it was originally meant for women and smells like a lighter version of Dana Tabu).
Yves Rocher is a minefield of bargains, but sadly my nearest branch is in France. Their online service for the UK is excellent however. I just bought 2 bottles for the price of one: Clea and Yria. They were blind buys, but I looked them up on Fragrantica, liked the reviews and went ahead. I was not disappointed and now own two bottles for the total price of £15. They usually let you choose three free samples and a free gift too.
One of my favourite sites is Allbeauty.com, formerly CheapSmells.com. They have a huge variety of genuine big names, but can sell cheap since they are without the High Street overheads. Prices are very low and there is a vast selection of perfume under £10. Postage is free when you spend over £15 but it does take about week. They don’t pay me to say how great they are, but their delivery guy could find my house without sat nav.
Being a blogger I have the advantage of having been sent some free samples from very generous companies, and I am lucky to have a good friend in my chum Lisa, whose generosity in letting me loose on two big boxes of phials, knows no bounds.
Samples are getting harder to cadge over the counter: believe, me I’ve turned on the charm! But there are other methods.
The Fragrance Shop Discovery Box (see photo) is a good way to bolster my sample collection. At only £5 a quarter, I receive a box of mixed samples and vouchers for money off full sized bottles. My absolute favourite Discovery Box comes from The Perfume Society, which provides around ten samples, smelling notes, sniffing strips, and a couple of scented goodies that vary from facial serum, to hand cream or shower gel.
Look Beneath the Glitz
Don’t rule out tacky looking celeb scents either: Who cares what it says on the label? If you like it, go ahead. Two of my favourites are Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights (very Vegas!), bought for £8.95 which smells of Papyrus and Patchouli ( and very similar to Prada EDP), and JLo Deseo, which looks like wet jewel and smells eau so fraiche!
Ebay is an excellent source of cheap fragrance trawling, especially after big events such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day when people sell their disappointments. Some buyers are afraid of being sold a dud, but I can honestly say everything I have bought has been authentic and eBay are pretty strict about fake stuff, so it’s a good place to shop around.
Swaps, Decants and Splits
If you get stuck into the talk boards on Basenotes, Fragrantica, Facebook Fragrance Groups or even Mumsnet Style and Beauty threads, you can not only find friendly like minded fellows, but can usually swap decants, full bottles, or even go in on an expensive niche bottle by just buying, say a quarter if a full bottle with some fellow fragheads. Perfume lovers are generous souls and genuinely want to spread the joy.
How about you?
What’s the best bargain you’ve ever scooped? Have you found a hidden gem? Do share so we can share your joy, follow in your footsteps or just sit here being all jealous. Perfume is such a treat, I truly wish it for everyone.
What joy to stumble across a Miller Harris I haven’t tried yet. Miller Harris is brand I would never turn down. In fact I am taking delivery of a bottle of Miller Harris La Pluie tomorrow and I can’t wait. (see my earlier review, I swear it smells like a rainy day and is terribly British).
Miller Harris Terre de Bois is allegedly for men. I say allegedly because naturally we take no notice of that. If it smells good wear it, whether it’s Old Spice from your Dad’s bathroom or something tres, tres chere from a boutique. If you like it, it will be so.
I happen to like Terre de Bois very much and see it as most certainly unisex. It opens with Citrus, Clary Sage and Verbena and even a hint of Lavender. It makes an excellent cologne, yet has the strength of an Eau de Parfum. Not so much Butch as smooth and suave. Especially on me. The middle phase is only slightly less Verbena than the brash and bright opening, and starts to smell a bit like lemonade in which the fizz is fading. Just as that calms down a bit, the fading fizz segues into a resin like base with faded Vetiver Grass and clean Spice providing a polished finish. Quite frankly, it’s gorgeous.
What I love about Miller Harris is that the ingredients actually smell like the ingredients. There’s none of this synthetic faux perfume note that you get so much on the High Street, especially in male scents. With Miller Harris, if they say there’s going to be Vetiver, then you will get Vetiver, not just some mish mash that smells shower fresh and then disappears in a blaze of factory chemicals.
Terre de Bois is no exception to the Miller Harris quality benchmark and with its clear Verbena singing out against the Lemons and Vetiver, I can guarantee that this is excellent. It may not be your cup of tea, but it is excellent. Zingy, Spring like and yet as classy as leather upholstery and a walnut dashboard. I’m getting perfume lover’s neckache from sniffing my wrist.
You know that smell from when you were a child? You might not recall it straightaway. In fact, even photographs might not bring it back. But the quickest way to bring back a memory isn’t music, it isn’t pictures: it’s our trusty noses, freckles and all (in my case).
What I love about the 4160 Tuesday scents that I have tried so far is that they are magical capsules of memory. The memories and vivid mental images they evoke make these perfumes of experience rather than simply being a case of wearing a different fragrance for a day, as you would an outfit. They have a delightful British retro feel to them, as if we are looking back at bright Polaroids taken in the Seventies, unfashionable clothing and all.
The notes in What I Did On My Holidays are Vanilla, Peppermint, suntan lotion and seanotes. Once you smell it, you will think “Ah, of course!” That is if, like me, you were raised on a diet of UK caravan holidays in or near UK seaside resorts.
What I Did On My Holidays is the smell of the stripes in the stick of rock, the smell of popcorn and candy floss (but NOT in a Britney Spears perfumey way): its the faint coconutty smell of Ambre Solaire (if you were posh) or Avon sun lotion if you were me.
It’s the smell of going to bed with salty skin in sandy sheets, with a sticky mouth and chips in your belly. It’s a happy smell. Oh boy, is it happy! It’s a very rainwashed, grey day here in Wales and none of us can remember what summer feels like. We’ve lost hope that it will ever come again.
But now I can dare to hope, and maybe even book up a caravan and do it all again.
Coty Aspen For Men is sort of under the radar a bit. I found it on Amazon when searching for all the brands that Coty makes (clue: it’s a LOT).
I was a bit sneaky in as far as I bought this for my husband with an ulterior motive. He was looking for some more scent for his paltry collection (compared to mine) and I was keen to try this. The 3.99 price tag was a sweetener that made me buy this blind. Disclaimer: I am by no means tight fisted when buying scent for others, but I do strongly believe that cheap doesn’t always mean nasty and in this case, I was right). I love this as much on me as I do on him. I’ll have to buy him something else to compensate for his loss.
Coty Aspen was a revelation for me. After smelling many High Street mainstream male scents lately (call it a phase I’m going through) I was delighted to find that this actually smells exactly like it says it will.
So when you read the notes of Lavender, Galbanum, Balsam Fir and Oakmoss, I can promise you that you will smell them.
Here are the notes according to Fragrantica:
Top notes: Bergamot, Galbanum, Green notes and Citrus. Middle notes: Coriander, Geranium, Cyclamen, Jasmine, Lavender, Juniper and Orange Blossom. Base notes: Amber, Oakmoss, Cedar, Balsam Fir and Musk.
Interestingly, no fewer than 120 Fragrantica users vote that this smells like Green Irish Tweed by Creed. Can’t be bad for 3.99.
Coty Aspen smells to me like a freshly aired room that has clean linen sheets in it that have just been dried by the breeze outside. There is a pot of lavender on the window sill and the window opens onto snow capped mountains and pine trees, letting in crisp mountain air. It’s stunning, and longevity is excellent at around eight hours.
Once again, Coty has proved that excellent scent can be made for a low price. I often think of this when I smell something unremarkable but expensive. Which happens a lot in this game!