Reviewing Katy Perry Indi was a case of “forget what you think you know.” I think of Katy Perry as the gorgeous and talented Teen Queen who sings catchy pop like no-one else. Her fragrances are cute and funny and have a wry grandeur, all done with a wink of irony. So when I heard she had a new one coming out, I thought, I’ll pass thanks. It’s probably like her other stuff: on trend but not my bag.
Boy, was I wrong. For a minute, there I’d forgotten that she’d shaved her head and done a studio album. Change of image, much? You bet. Indi is outstanding.
From Killer Queen to Meow and Katy Perry’s Mad Potion, Katy Perry’s fragrance range has taken a U Turn. Gone are the flashy,playful bottles with oodles of bling. In comes the simple black and white pillar bottle for Indi. It celebrates individuality, which in these troubled times, is a much-needed hand of compassion and acceptance, and I’m all for it.
So what does it smell like? Well it doesn’t smell like your run of the mill celebrity High Street scent, that’s for sure.
Top notes: Plum, tea, bergamot.
Middle notes: cyclamen, lily of the valley, cedar
Base notes: tonka, amber, musk, musk, musk etc
The combination of plum and tea gave me a milky, sultana, figgy vibe, and although this alleges to have cyclamen and lily of the valley in, I could only detect a generic musky “pink” flower- could well be cyclamen. It’s not a note I know well. The base is where the musk comes in: musk, musk, musk. Musk is a bit like vanilla in that it covers a vast spectrum within its category, and this is certainly the case here.
It’s not dirty musk, nor leathery musk, nor sexy inner thigh musk, but an ever-changing musk, at least on my skin. On me this musk smells clean, then chalky, then figgy, then patchouli-like, then earthy, then slightly mossy, then floral. It lasts hours and hours. It’s a beautiful chameleon of a scent and smells like it costs about four times the price.
Indi is of course, without gender. Nowhere will you find “For Men” or “For Women” and hurrah for that. My motto is, and always will be, if it smells good, wear it. Labels don’t matter.
Indi celebrates individuality and I salute this superb fragrance.
You can buy Indi from Superdrug– which seems to have the monopoly on it at the moment. Pop along and test it- I am sure you won’t be sorry. Prices start at £28 for 50ml. I bought mine and opinions are my own.
Fragrance can enhance a mood, jog a memory or make you feel good about yourself in the blink of an eye. The industry is worth billions and shows no sign of slowing down.
However, huge medical advances and discoveries are being made into the world of olfactory wonder and its effect on the brain. The effect of fragrance on wellbeing and memory is being looked at in ways that go far beyiond the anecdotal.
Aromatherapy is nothing new, but did you know that fragrance is playing a part in Alzheimer’s Research? And did you know that it even has benefits for some people on the Autistic Spectrum?
One father went a step further and combined his involvement in the fragrance industry (Murano Home) with ways of offering his autistic son calm and comfort among the maelstrom of overwhelming emotions that many people with ASD can experience.
Nigel tried several combinations of room fragrances with his son until he found combinations that had a noticable calming effect. From there came Fragrance and Autism, a company created to offer benefits to those with ASD via the medium of scent.
I was sent two sample roll on bottles recently and would like to tell you about them below, because I thought they were terrific. Incidentally, roll on is an excellent way of applying fragrances since it doesn’t get in your eyes and up your nose and is hard to waste.
Fragrance and Autism donates 20% of all their profits to the National Autistic Society and welcomes contact via their website.
A beautiful mixture of blended oils, in a natural grapeseed oil carrier, these products can help with relaxation, stress and transition, learning, anxiety, depression, isolation. – Fragrance and Autism
Here’s the full list of what’s available in rollerballs, room diffusers or in essential oils.
Here’s my review of the two rollerballs I received. Both are stunning and very long-lasting, with the essential oils suspended in a natural grapeseed oil suspension.
Lavender and Melissa
Lavender has long been known as having soothing qualities, but add it to Melissa, ( also known as lemon balm) and you have a beautiful soothing combination of oils that reminded me so much of my late grandmother’s garden, that it gave me a jolt. The scent brings the garden indoors and nature often has a grounding effect. This smells clean, pure and herbal and offers a chink of light in among the messiness of modern life.
Grapefruit and Bergamot
Sharp and uplifting, this can feel as fresh as opening a window in a stuffy room. Grapefruit, in fact many citrus fruits, are known for the sunny, feel good nuance they can add to scent. The grapefruit note in this is sharp and sparkling, like homemade lemonade, and it keeps it up alongside the bergamot (lime). This is a feel-good scent with long lasting properties.
Find out More
Here’s the website for Fragrance and Autism and here ‘s the link to the National Autistic Society. Incidentally, these oils are also designed to reduce anxiety and stress , so their benefits are far reaching, even outside the Autism spectrum. Parents can have a tough time too.
How to buy
Here’s the link to how to buy them. Prices are very reasonable, starting at under £5 for a 10ml rollerball.
Acknowledgements- with many thanks to Nigel, who I met at the Jasmine awards back in March. The two rollerballs are much appreciated and wonderful quality.
In the past few years, vanilla has appeared in just about everything you care to name from cheap candles to mass produced mainstream fragrances to room sprays. It’s enough to put you off. In fact, that’s exactly what it did and I confess to having become a vanilla swerver.
However, several vanilla fragrances have turned my head and made me look again. From under the mass market tsunami of vanilla abuse come rays of hope, and reminders that vanilla, before its over exposure, was one of the greats and still can be. The right vanilla, blended with flair and instinct, can give heart and warmth to a fragrance, and offers respite from the sickly cupcake confections and synthetic waxy imitations.
Here’s a roundup of the vanilla scents I would never tire of wearing. If you’re no vanilla fan, these beauties will turn your head and change your mind. Not all vanilla is equal.
Tauerville Vanilla Flash
Vanilla is not the first thing you will notice about Vanilla Flash. In fact, with me, it was the roses. Andy Tauer, a true gentleman and frankly, a modest genius too, has created a vanilla scent that frames the vanilla rather than allowing it to take over. Here vanilla is teamed with spice, tobacco, roses and patchouli and is chilly rather than warm.
If I could sum up cosy in one scent it would be this. The wonderful Mandy Aftel, who works only with natural ingredients, has taken the warm heart of vanilla and added it to the subtle wood smoke of a hearth. One sniff and my brain thinks it’s Christmas. You can read my review here and buy it from here.
Agonist Vanilla Marble
This is another scent that portrays vanilla as chilled rather than warm and it works to great effect. In fact, I sent my dear friend Pippa a sample of this prior to her wedding and she chose it as her wedding day fragrance. She made a beautiful Edwardian bride and she smelled glorious. You can read my review here and buy Agonist from here.
DSH Perfumes Vanilla Chantilly
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz mixes and macerates her stunning potions in Boulder, Colorado and is always a joy to deal with. Like Mandy Aftel, Dawn also uses natural ingredients and Vanilla Chantilly manages to take the buttery woodiness of vanilla without adding any sugar and syrup. It smells both clean and warm, both cool and dark. Dawn has kept the sticky woody pod character of vanilla and blended it into a musky, spicy accord with a hint of almonds. I get so many compliments! You can buy it from the DSH website.
Dior Hypnotic Poison
This is the richest deepest vanilla on the High Street. With hints of almond, this is pure luxury with nary a cup cake nor a Pound Shop candle in sight. This feels wonderful to wear and really opened my eyes to how great vanilla can be. My review of it is here. You can buy it from allbeauty.com and John Lewis.
Library of Fragrance Play Doh
It may have a playful name, but it’s worth taking seriously. This is a superb vanilla scent that yes, smells like Playdoh, but then Playdoh smells like vanilla. In fact, this reminded me of marzipan, which always gets my mouth watering. Here’s the link to my review and here’s the link to the Library of Fragrance website.
4160 Tuesdays The Sexiest Scent on The Planet Ever (IMHO)
Last but by no means least, comes this cult classic from Sarah McCartney at 4160 Tuesdays. I always think of the vanilla in this as golden and fuzzy, so add that to a cup of Earl Grey with its bergamot infusion, and stir in the scent of antique dark wood, and this is the pleasing result. It’s good vanilla, rich and warm, with not a cupcake in sight. You can read my review here. and buy it from here.
Over to you
What’s your opinion on vanilla? Do you have a favourite vanilla scent? Do let me know, I always love to hear from you.
When Mandy Aftel makes perfume it’s often about a discovery or a facet of nature that Mandy wants to celebrate. Her scents evoke scenes and visions so vividly that I can’t shake the feeling that she is more alchemist than perfumer. There is magic in her fingertips the way some people have green fingers and some people don’t.
Curious was inspired by Mandy’s new museum of scent in Berkeley California. Here she invites you to explore the curiosities of olfactory natural history. The museum is very much hands on. You don’t just look at stuff- this is an all-round sensory journey: touch it, smell it, sniff it, try it. I haven’t been there yet, but in a year’s time, I will be visiting. I’m booking flights very soon and boy, will my blog have coverage!
Curious lives up to its name. It opens intriguingly, with a green note that smells almost medicinal, with a herby clary sage style bitterness. It reminded me of the glorious smell I once caught as a child, watching a neighbour creosote his fence. Many of my friends wrinkled their noses but I loved the tarry earthy scent and it remains one of my favourite aromas today.
Curious contains hay and tobacco: two notes which are not often as you might imagine in fragrance. Tobacco can veer from green and soapy (think Givenchy Amarige), to dry and oaky (think Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan). Hay can smell sweet, grassy, musty, honeyed or dry, or a combination of all of them. In Curious, it smells damp to me, and coupled with woody tobacco it reminds me of a hot damp green field as the sun dries everything out. There is a deep earthiness to Curious which reflects its roots as a product of nature. After a while, the drying- out-in-the-sun feeling became an autumnal smokiness, like a bonfire in the distance.
Curious unfurls its layers like a tree in all seasons, merging from fresh bud to green bitterness, to dried leaves to twiggy stem, but always grounded by the earthiness from whence it came. It brings out the pagan in me. There’s nothing like it. Mandy has made a beautifully unique scent that I urge you to try should you ever get a chance. As with all of Mandy’s creations, every ingredient is natural.
Curious is available from the Aftelier website. There is also an excellent sample service. The museum details are also on the website. If you live within a ten-thousand-mile radius, it’s definitely worth a visit. My sample was kindly sent to me by Mandy, for which, many thanks. Opinions are my own.
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.
Today is National Chocolate Day. If you live in our house, it will feel no different to any other day.
It’s almost impossible to ignore the avalanche of gourmand scent that has hit the streets and wrists of the nation in the past few decades. Personally, I blame Thierry Mugler Angel, if blame is the right word. I first tried it back in 1992 and I regard it as the Grandmother of the chocolate explosion. Since then many have paid homage with varying results, and some have gone rogue and come up with new angles on chocolate and got it just right.
There are of course many different types of chocolate, from white to dark and everything in between. I’m going to try and avoid listing the pralines and caramels here, because that’s a much longer list. I am therefore going to list what might feel like a small selection, but you can bet that I’ve tried every one. If your favourite is missing, it’s only because I haven’t tried it and not because I don’t rate it.
Thierry Mugler Angel
This was a shocker back in 1992 when everyone was recovering from a decade of DiorPoison and Calvin Klein Obsession worn in great quantities. The vastly popular L’Eau D’Issey was launched the same year, all pure and full of healing-vibes. Mugler came along, bashed it on the head like an iconoclast and unleashed his vanilla, chocolate and patchouli throughout the world. It’s still going strong 25 years later, which is no mean feat in Perfume Land.
Cartier Baiser Fou
A beautiful white chocolate scent that smells like Milky Bars and lipstick. I absolutely adored this fun scent and far preferred it to the original Baiser Volé. You can check out my review here. I also listed it as one of my recommendations for wedding guest scents too.
DSH Dark Moon
Genius perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz uses a bitter dark chocolate to great effect in Dark Moon. It’s almost like a naked vanilla bean with no sugar, with an added sharp edge that lingers between gourmand and wood. Add in the nuances of red wine notes, and you have my perfect lunch. Dark Moon is like the best 80% chocolate: it has more in common with the coffee bean than a hot fudge sundae.
Sarah Jessica Parker Covet
This is a daring blend of dark chocolate and lavender, which confuses my palate no end. Do I eat it? Sniff it? My brain goes haywire. This was by no means her most popular scent but fumeheads in the know hold it in great esteem. It’s discontinued now but if you have a branch of Savers near you, I found a 100ml bottle of EDP for only £14.99 very recently.
Agent Provocateur Fatale
This is an absolute bargain and taps into the trend of big patchouli, big flowers and big chocolate. You can read my review here. It’s currently available from allbeauty.com at under £15. Many Fragrantica users compare it to Lancome La Vie est Belle, but that’s a whole other ball game.
Al Rehab Choco Musk
I bought one of these in a bundle after Christmas and a friend of mine loved it so much I gave it to her. After all, I can safely say I have enough to be able to miss one. It has many notes, but the only ones that really came through were vanilla, chocolate and musk. This is so cheap it’s laughable, (£2.99) but it has some serious longevity and is pretty good quality. Being a rollerball, this is ideal for your handbag or for layering with other scents when you need to choc up the choc factor.
Thierry Mugler Angel is widely available. Try The Fragrance Shop for their refill service and lovely staff.
If you wear this perfume and someone says, as they probably will do, “You smell nice, what are you wearing?” you will then answer “four one six oh Tuesdays (OR four thousand one hundred and sixty Tuesdays- both are correct) Mrs Gloss’s Lemon Sherbet” and you may get looks, because the compliment giver was probably expecting something like “Lemon Dream” or “Citrus Sparkle.” When you’re a 4160 Tuesdays fan, you get used to giving admirers a gob full of whimsy in answer to their compliments, but that’s how we roll.
Mrs Gloss’s Lemon Sherbet came about after Sarah McCartney (all her fault, again) collaborated with the hugely popular Facebook group, Mrs Gloss and The Goss. The group is very friendly and exchanges beauty and fragrance advice in a warm environment where women bare their souls and post make up free selfies and new hair dos. It’s like a bunch of cyber sisters, basically.
A Mrs Gloss splinter group spent the day at the 4160 Tuesdays HQ and made a scent called Mrs Gloss Made Me Do it, which was named by Sarah because Mrs Gloss made her do it. Willingly, I should add. There were no ligatures or blackmail involved.
The result was such a success (I haven’t smelled it so can’t comment) that offshoots, or flankers were created. One of them is Mrs Gloss’s Lemon Sherbet and I am wearing it today.
Here’s the Goss on Mrs Gloss (Lemon Sherbet version)
Mrs Gloss’s Lemon Sherbet opens with the kind of lemon that seems to go in two directions.
Firstly there’s a fizzy sherbet scent, which will be familiar to those who like the sweets, but shortly after, limes come in and make this a refreshing lemon/lime drink with ice cubes on a hot day. As this citrus note melts down onto your skin, it melts into a citrussy vanilla. Now, I like this because the vanilla is warm without being sweet. The lemon and lime stick around, but they’re softened and their edges are fuzzy now. The scent is refreshing but not cold: clean but not sterile, sweet but not sticky. The lasting impression is a musky vanilla with that lovely hint of lime keeping it summery. Perfect for Summer. Or Winter. Or Autumn. Or Spring.
Stockists- You can buy this from 4160 Tuesdays here, along with many other treats. Prices start at £15 for a 9ml EDP purse spray. Samples are also available for a small fee. Prices correct at time of pressing “Publish”.
My sample was included with an order for which, many thanks. Opinions are my own.
Sarah McCartney “stirred woods, fruits and flowers with an icicle”
Doe in the Snow was created for a winter wedding, but recently it has proved itself to be the perfect summer fragrance. When it feels so hot that anything with the word snow in the title seems far-fetched and impossible, that’s when you need Doe in the Snow.
Doe in The Snow was created for the January wedding of perfume writer Odette Toilette aka the lovely Lizzie Ostrum. I had the pleasure of meeting Lizzie at the Jasmine awards earlier this year and was delighted to see her win, and deservedly so.
I’ve only recently decided to review Doe in the Snow because I cannot beat the tagline “stirred with an icicle.” It’s the perfect description of this icy refreshing treat that cuts right through that sticky, sweaty feeling you get as soon as the thermostat goes over the 20 degree point.
Doe in the Snow opens with lemon and lime and grapefruit. It reminded me of a cross between Morning Fresh washing up liquid and ice lollies. That’s no criticism at all: more of a vignette of an afternoon at my grandmother’s house circa 1970 something. Doe in the Snow however, is modern with a vintage feel.
There are peaches in here that come out boldly about halfway through, but with no stickiness. Think of the peaches in Lanvin Arpège: a restrained fruity note that adds a frisson of traditional prettiness without any of the modern syrupiness of main stream fruity florals. Besides which, the lemon and lime stop things getting too sweet and keep that astringent edge that makes Doe in the Snow so refreshing. To my nose, there’s also a touch of dark green soap in there, which I can’t explain to you or myself.
The mosses and woods in the base give it that chypre edge that I always seek. That’s not to say this ever gets rich and heavy though: the genius of it is that it’s a chypre for a summery day. It has vintage touches in the peachy mossy note, and yet resembles a sorbet with its icy coolness. Very clever, very refreshing and very chic.
This is half price until June 23rd 2017 from the 4160 Tuesdays website. After that it goes back to full price, which is still very reasonable, especially for handmade niche fragrance. You can buy something “meh” from the beauty counter or you can buy a bottle of this for a similar price. Not a sponsored post. Opinions are my own.
An explosion of fresh, green, basil and peppery notes bursts from a herbal heart of clary sage with sensuous jasmine; vanilla, amberwood, and oudh bring a cashmere texture to the base.
Oxford (the fragrance) was inspired by those heady student days when you leave home for the first time and everything feels edgy, daring and slightly scary. Its creator, Ruth Mastenbroek, read Chemistry at Oxford in 1970., hence the name. I went to Exeter University, not Oxford ( couldn’t get in!) , but I can recall that butterflies-in-the-tummy excitement in the blink of an eye, and this fragrance encapsulates those halcyon student days.
Oxford opens with Clary Sage, which I often mistake for lavender. Clary Sage is no weakling: it is robust and muscly and borders on the smell of weed or filter-less cigarettes. Cigarette smoke played a huge part in my student memories, and from this scent, I’m guessing it did for Ruth too. That’s not to say this smells unpleasant: far from it- but there’s a brash masculine, herbal feel to it that reminded me of bristly chins and smoky late night adventures.
The clary sage mixes with woods and oudh and to my nose, this has a sort of unfinished roughness, again- no bad thing. It’s that unfinished shape that your student years form you into. You think you’re fully formed but you’re nothing like the finished product that you need to be. Not yet.
When the herbs and woods have settled down, this leaves a beautiful and very long-lasting impression in its wake. The clary sage smells more like lavender now, and there’s a heady herbal thing going on (man). Patchouli stays put like a slightly unwashed squatter. If you want squeaky clean and generic, you’ve come to the wrong place.
Oxford goes from rough and dirty, to clean and earthy, like the morning after, as you walk home to birdsong after a long dark night of excess. It grew and grew on me like a persistent suitor, and has now become my favourite scent from Ruth’s collection. Oxford has changing facets, like a kaledoscope, and that’s just one of the many things I love about it.
Ruth Mastenbroek has been making fragrance and fragrant products for far longer than you may realise. Her signature range only has three fragrances, yet Ruth was the brains behind many of the Bath House products and has worked on scented candles for Jo Malone, as well as being a former President of the British Society of Perfumers.