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.
It’s hot in the UK today and we’re totally unprepared. After wearing three layers to bed and three layers and a coat to do the school run, I found myself struggling to find summer clothes in the sudden mini heatwave that hit us.
Although Wales, where I live, is my favourite place ever, there are certain weather anomalies that one must learn to endure. You can have rain all summer anda singular freak hot day in October, or a nine-month winter and a heatwave nobody’s ready for, which I think is what’s happening now.
A nice cold, ice cold fragrance feels like an essential rather than a luxury today so I thought I’d tell you a few of my Go-To scents on this sticky summer day.
When the weather’s hot, I want eau do cologne. This is not just because the high alcohol content cools down skin on contact but because the classic ingredients of herbs and citrus remain to this day the most refreshing combination you can get. Most of the bottles I reach for have cologne elements in them.
Niobe from Cologne and Cotton
On my dressing table is a large glass bottle of Niobe from Cologne and Cotton. It has the herbs and the citrus and surprisingly in a cologne, even good longevity. I have decanted it into a mini travalo for when out and about and I always get compliments.
Le Jardin Retrouve Citron Boboli: It was a photo finish between Citron Boboli and Verveine d’Ete. Both are perfect for hot weather and the citrus will really put a zing in your step and take away the hot fussies. You can read my review here.
Avon Little Black Dress Eau Fraiche: This one is going down fast. Lighter than the original, but still recognisably its flanker, this pale green bottle isn’t always available, so when it is, do grab it. My bottle was a fiver from the Avon brochure a few months back. I reviewed it here.
4160 Tuesdays Doe in the Snow: I adore this fresh peachy chypre and have a little travel bottle. In case you were wondering why I never reviewed it, it’s because I cannot match or surpass this description “citrus fruits, flowers and woods, stirred with an icicle.” That’s exactly what it smells like and it is beautiful. EDIT- I have since reviewed this and you can read my verdict here.
Avon Scent Essences Sparkly Citrus: I bought this for just £2.50 when it was on offer. It’s a 30ml eau de toilette that does what it says on the tin and smells a lot more expensive that the price I paid. In a similar vein, do try Crabtree and Evelyn West Indian Lime. I tried it in winter and it was good in cold weather, but it’s fantastic now.
Yardley English Lavender is always uplifting, but never more so than when you keep it in the fridge and squirt your hot cleavage with it. I’m hoping the words “hot cleavage” won’t direct the wrong sort of traffic to my site, but you never know, the hot cleavage seekers might learn something.
Over to you
What’s your favourite Cool Down scent in hot weather? Do you keep any in the fridge? Do let me know, I always love to hear from you.
If you’re in a floaty peony sort of mood, I’m afraid you’ve come out of the wrong lift. But if you’re looking for Black Osmanthus, follow that woman with the black lipstick. Follow her into that unmarked door with the smoky jazz drifting out of it. You’ll find what you’re looking for in there.
Black Osmanthus by Marina Barcenilla won this year’s Fragrance Foundation Award for Best Independent Perfume, and I for one, was jolly pleased. It’s not just because Marina does everything herself, including sourcing the absolutes and extracts that she makes her potent potions with, but because Black Osmanthus is not your usual dab it on after a shower and wear it to work fragrance. Black Osmanthus breaks the mould and gives a rude salute , which appeals to the rebel in me that so often, by necessity, gets supressed.
Osmanthus is the name for a genre of around 30 types of blossoming plants. Petals are usually white and the scent is likened to fruity, leathery blossom, often with apricot or peachy cadences.
Black Osmanthus is heavy, leathery, smoky and to my nose at least, has a hint of gorgeous creosote, like a freshly painted fence. This is by no means a criticism- creosote is one of my favourite scents ever.
Black Osmanthus opens with all the subtlety of an Avon Lady knocking your door down with a sledgehammer. On my skin, it takes me straight into smoky, leathery tar territory and I pretty much stay there. I should tell you that Marina wore this the night of her win and in a room full of fume heads wearing their favourite scents, this beautiful smoked leather was distinct and true throughout the evening.
This is made from layers of leathery notes: There’s rich saffron stamens, dark patchouli, almost sticky in its depth, bay rum and myrrh.
The flowers are, if you’ll pardon the pun, no shrinking violets: there’s tuberose and jasmine and they’re not dainty. The oakmoss sits with the other tough guys and makes this the ultimate dark, leathery spicy scent for those who have been seeking exactly this. It reminds me of those little vials of Middle Eastern attar with its amber juice that let the fumes escape like snakes.
Lasting power is fantastic. Spray at dawn and enjoy wafts of it until dusk. And then stay up all night.
As you may have gathered, last Thursday was the UK Fragrance Foundation Annual Awards Night (aka the Fifis) and saw a major gathering of the great and the good in the perfume industry. By a happy turn of events, I found my little old self there too.
I attended as a guest of the Clive Christian team, which was both an honour and a privilege and I thank them warmly for inviting me.
I hadn’t been sure that attending would even be possible, with the night being on a school night, during term time and in London, around 150 miles from South Wales where Fort Scriven is situated. After rearranging my family’s lives in order to facilitate my attendance, and a last-minute ear infection at 5.50am from my poorly son who failed to guilt me into cancelling, I was off.
I may have mentioned before how kind perfume people are. Their generosity and thoughtfulness is legend, and tonight was no exception. I was invited to join brilliant perfume writer Stephan Matthews and Fifi award winner and perfumer Marina Barcenilla for a meet up and catch up prior to the noise and chaos. This meant I did not have to walk in alone and when we reached the venue and I saw the sheer enormity of the event, I was wholeheartedly grateful to have people to walk in with.
There were proper paparazzi and a big sponsored backdrop for better known people than I to be photographed on. Red carpet was everywhere- I have some on my stairs at home, but it doesn’t have the same effect and it’s a sod to hoover. There were sequinned hosts and black tie waiters with champagne holders that could hold about thirty glasses, unlike me. I only had one and stuck to soft drinks thereafter. I had names to remember and an early bus and I could not figure out where my hotel was from a map. Adding champagne would have been a disaster. I might still be there now, looking for the exit.
Stephan and Marina are a hoot to hang out with and I was in awe of their knowledge: not just of the industry but of the process and raw materials. Marina, as you may know, is a talented perfumer and very modest with it. Plus hilarious and sweary also.
I had a chance to catch up with the charming Dariusz, aka Persolaise and a met a jolly good looking chap who looked very familiar. I asked him what he did for a living “I’m a model” replied the charming model Oliver Cheshire. If I was as good looking as him, I’d be a massive big head, but he wasn’t in the slightest and was delightful.
My chum and fume-idol Sarah McCartney arrived around then: a finalist in two categories for Mother Nature’s Naughty Daughters, and looking splendid in vintage couture, with vintage buttons gleaming like jewels. We founded a two-strong campaign to restore the evening glove. Check out our YouTube video above that’s snowballed into double viewing figures.
It was soon time to herd us upstairs to dinner and I was separated from my companions to join my hosts on the Clive Christian table. My eyes had popped out on stalks when on seeing goody bags on every chair, so I popped them back in and tried to look gracious and not like a goody bag greedy guts. Which I am.
The Clive Christian table were a truly lovely team of people and I was particularly bowled over to have a chat with Victoria Christian herself who, let me tell you, smelled INCREDIBLE. (She was wearing Clive Christian V and C together). Luckily, fragrance gatherings are one of the few occasions where you can sniff people you have only just met without getting arrested. Also on my table, I was delighted to see Jo Fairley of The Perfume Society, who I hadn’t seen since I attended her workshop last Saturday.
You will hear more from me about Clive Christian throughout the year as there are exciting launches coming up soon, so watch this space.
After being entertained 1950s style by the fabulous Bye Bye Baby- a superb Frankie Valli style singing act, the awards began in earnest. There isn’t room here to list all the winners, so follow this link to Now Smell This, but we had a lovely compere in the form of Natasha Kaplinksy, who looked great but was too far away to sniff.
I was disappointed that Sarah McCartney didn’t win, but delighted that Marina Barcenilla won for Black Osmanthus. Marina and Sarah are true perfumers who make their own stuff, source their own materials and get their hands dirty. I love perfumers who do that and if it were up to me, I’d create a special category for the dirty hands gang.
The Fragrance Foundation was celebrating its twenty fifth birthday that night and it was fascinating to watch a showreel of perfume ads over the last 25 years. How things have changed! The night was finally over, all bar the dancing, but this tired Cinders could bear no more after a very long day. Finding the exit was like trying to leave Ikea but I just about made it out of there before I turned into a pumpkin.
Them Fragrance Foundation people sure know how to throw a party.
Goodnight, Nos da, Pyjamas.
Who are you wearing?
Samantha Scriven was dressed by The Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice Charity Shop, Cwmbran and the YMCA Shop Blackwood. Jewellery by Marks and Spencer from four years ago. Make up by Avon and Rimmel. Hair by Salon Scriven and two hotel mirrors. Scent of the Night was Le Jardin Retrouvé Tuberose Trianon.
I would never have thought that Tel Aviv would have ended up as a fragrance to love, but it really is. Out of the four, I think it is my favourite. My preconceptions were way out of kilter: I was imagining concrete and bombsites and traffic. Hardly a premise for a fragrance, right? Not for the first or last time where fragrance is concerned, I was wrong. Wrong with a capital “W.”
Tel Aviv (the fragrance) made me think of open air markets selling melons and flowers. It evokes a blue sky and greenery and big blousy flowers and fluffy clouds. It’s poetic and whimsical and not at all how I imagined. It’s irresistibly optimistic and reminded me that every city has a fluffy tummy if you make it roll over for you.
Tel Aviv opens with bergamot and oranges, giving a citrussy blast of sunshine and freshness. The middle blends into roses, jasmine and beautiful, light freesia. The freesia and roses are particularly prominent, but the citruses in the opening stick around, giving this a beautiful airy and pretty feel. It’s irresistibly feminine.
The base adds a sort of sugar free sweetness in so far as there are touches of vanilla without any of the sticky sweetness that can sometimes happen. The base is sandalwood, benzoin and deer tongue, or liatrix, also known as wild vanilla (thank you Fragrantica, you fount of all knowledge, you!).
Tel Aviv is bright and summery and lightly floral and pretty. It’s the exact opposite of how I would expect a scent called Tel Aviv to smell, but Gallivant is all about going off the beaten the track. It’s more Lonely Planet than Thomas Cook and thank goodness for that. This is the pretty underbelly of a sunny, seaside city, and not the busy towering, skyscraper beehive we see on the news.
Forgive me for sounding like a tourist brochure when I say take a closer look at Tel Aviv.
You can buy Tel Aviv from the Gallivant website. My sample was kindly sent to me by the Gallivant team, for which many thanks. Opinions are my own.
It’s a wet spring. Roses from Columbia Rd. Georgian architecture. A hint of dustiness. An earthy lush wetness you can almost taste.
Gallivant is a new niche fragrance brand with a capsule collection of four city inspired scents. Gallivant is the brainchild of Nick Steward, who is perfectly placed to go solo having been Product and Creative Director at the legendary L’Artisan Parfumeur. Gallivant aims to embody a sense of adventure and exploration. Each scent seeks to capture the spirit of the city after which it has been named, and I don’t mean just the pretty touristy bits. The noses behind the range are Karine Chevallier and Giorgia Navarra.
Surprisingly, this collection also put me ina position I’d never thought I’d find myself in: I’ve been gallivanting around my home county of Torfaen smelling like Tel Aviv. Who knew? Reader, I love it. Today I’m reviewing London. The other three will follow: Istanbul, Brooklyn and Tel Aviv.
London the fragrance opens with cucumber and roses on my skin. Don’t be put off by the cucumber- it doesn’t remind me of teenage spot treatment and cleanser in this context. Gallivant London is Inspired by the flower market of Columbia Road. The rose de mai flourishes from the first spray and sticks around throughout. Touches of leather come through- funnily enough, a smell I often associate with London, especially the market on Petticoat Lane.
This leathery rose pretty much stays as a leathery rose, but the cucumber melts away, having made its introduction. Enter stage left a pleasant earthy woodiness in the form of patchouli, cedar and sandalwood. That rose never waivers though, which gives this a pleasing juxtaposition of male and female, soft and hard, gentle and tough. In other words, a perfect capture of this eclectic and multi faceted city.
London is available from the Gallivant website and in the USA, from Luckyscent. My samples were very kindly sent to me by Gallivant, for which, many thanks. Opinions are my own.