Category Archives: White flowers

Top Ten Perfumes Under Ten Pounds 2018

If you’re anything like me in January, your credit card won’t be speaking to you and you’ll be searching coat pockets for loose change and forgotten fivers. It’s as traditional as losing the scissors when wrapping presents.

If you’re a perfume fan and feeling frugal, I bring glad tidings. There are perfumes out there that cost under ten quid and smell good. You heard me. It’s true. In fact, the majority of perfumes I reach for on a day to day basis are often cheap and cheerfuls that I don’t mind running out of and can be easily replaced.

So, my friends, clutch your tenners and follow me as I tell you about my top ten fragrances under ten pounds.

  1. Coty L’Aimant.

My £5.99 bottle reminds me of my late grandmother, who was such a lady and never went shopping without a brooch and a scarf.  She was class all the way and loved Coty L’Aimant. She was born around the time it came out in 1927 and wore it to dances in the war. It was made in similar style to the newly launched Chanel No 5 which had come out three years earlier in 1924, and smells very similar. I also adore the Art Deco bottle and deep pink box with the gold edging. All this for under ten quid.

  1. Elizabeth Arden Green Tea

Whether you opt for the pillar scent (which is a classic) or any of the excellent flankers, the Elizabeth Arden Green Tea range is a safe bet. Light, feminine, inoffensive, floral and citrussy, they make ideal summer or office perfume and almost always cost under ten quid, unless you see them in Duty Free where they cost a lot more. I particularly like Green Tea Revitalize and Green Tea Exotic

  1. Alyssa Ashley Musk

This is a perfect pocket money perfume that smells amazing, gets compliments and has a subtle but pretty sillage.  It was particularly popular in the 1970s but has a lot to offer the woman of 2018. It’s a warm, light, cosy musk that makes people want to nuzzle you. You can buy it here.

  1. Bronnley Eclectic Elements range

This range of fragrances was created to attract a younger crowd to Bronnley, and I’m certainly a fan of both the classic stuff and the Eclectic Elements Range.  In other words, I’m a dream customer. Bronnley gets my seal of approval for making rollerball fragrances. Although rollerballs are plentiful in Europe and the USA, they’re harder to get in the UK, so I’m hoping more brands will do this. The rollerballs are priced at under ten pounds, but if you go onto allbeauty.com today and sniff out their sale, you can find 50ml eau de toilettes at £10 too, although that’s sale price, not usual price.

  1. Yves Rocher Plaisirs Nature Range

My SOTD today is a little 20ml bottle of Yves Rocher Orange Flower-Lavender- Petitgrain EDT. It cost me £7.99 and I got two for the price of one. It’s wonderfully uplifting and pretty and combines white flowers with juicy nuances of orange and calming lavender. I also have the Mandarin, Lemon and Cedar, which is equally good and equally cheap. Check out my review here.

  1. Trust Yardley

The Yardley Collection of simple floral eau de toilettes are hard to beat. I own Yardley April Violets, Yardley English Rose and Yardley English Lavender. I wear them alone or for layering and I get compliments every single time I wear the rose.  The violet helps me “violet-up” fragrances that I feel are missing that…well, that violet note. I also recommend the Lily of The Valley and the Freesia. You can buy them here or in Boots.

  1. Avon Calling!

Of course, I can’t write about bargain fragrances without mentioning my old friend Avon.  Avon is my Go-To guilt free brand. I own about six and my favourites are Avon Perceive OasisFar Away Bella and Rare Platinum, which is a gorgeous tuberose and grapefruit combo. Every brochure has a bargain and I never need to wait long until my favourite is £6 or £7. I’ve converted several friends too. The list of perfumers who have worked for Avon reads like a Who’s Who of the Industry: Christine Nagel, Olivier Cresp and Christopher Sheldrake are just three that I can think of off the top of my head.  It’s a guilt free win/win pleasure. Here’s the link.  Products vary seasonally so if your favourite isn’t around this week, come back and check again.

8. Go Old Skool

amazon.co.uk 

By old school, I mean take a second at what your Mum wore growing up.

If I told you that Tweed reminded me a little of Jicky, would you be shocked? It does.

How about if I told you that Taylor of London Chique is a fabulous earthy, woody chypre that has much in common with Estee Lauder Knowing?

Neither are dupes, but both deserve more love and recognition. I’m also a big fan of Panache and I’ve only now finished a £3.99 bottle that gave me twelve hours longevity after two morning sprays. I have found all of these bottle for well under ten pounds, and even under five pounds. Try allbeauty.com or Fragrance Direct.

  1. Al Aneeq, Crown Perfumes and Al Rehab.

These are all brands that sell rollerballs of high quality, no alcohol fragrance.  I own the White Musk and the Al Aneeq Violet, which is a big generator of compliments. (“Yum. I smell Parma Violets!”). Prices start at £1.99 for the delectable Choco Musk, and my trusty 10ml (very strong) violet rollerball was 3.99. Find them on Amazon or eBay. Great for handbags.  Prices vary.

  1. Marks and Spencer

And so, we arrive at the perfume shelves of Marks and Spencer. Your ten-pound note will serve you well here.  First of all, there are delicious 10ml  and 30ml purse-size sprays such as Autograph Blush (light roses and violets, powdery finish, ultra-feminine, not too sweet) or the new Belle.  I’ve also seen White Orchid and New York in purse spray sizes in store too. Then of course, there’s the classic pillar fragrance Florentyna, which I reviewed last year. Both flankers are worth a look too and any of them will give you change from your tenner.

How about you?

What are your favourite cheap and cheerfuls? Do you have any under a tenner? Do drop in and tell me . I always love to hear from you.

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The ISCENT Awards and Review of 2017

 

Welcome to the I Scents 2017! Find your seat. The drinks will be around in a minute. I hope you’ve got your glad rags on and are ready for a fragrant bonanza.

2017 has been a very interesting year for fragrance, with even the big hitters bringing out major new launches.  If I’m honest, I found far more to love in the world of niche and indie than I did over the beauty counters.  I also had some wonderful real-life perfume experience to break the loneliness of the long distance blogger.  It was a delight to meet up with Sarah McCartney, Jo Fairley, Suzy Nightingale (albeit briefly in the toilets at the Jasmines!), Marina Barcenilla, Ruth Mastenbroek, Stephan Matthews, Thomas Dunckley, Persolaise and Nick Gilbert.  If that sounds like star struck name dropping, that’s because it is.

Ladies and gentlemen, here are the awards, presented by your hostess, Samantha Scriven (applause. Whooping. Wolf whistles.)

Best mainstream

I was moved by very few mainstream launches this year and we saw some big ones come from Chanel, Mugler, Jean Paul Gaultier and Guerlain. Whilst I liked Chanel Gabrielle, I didn’t think it was worth the high price and I found longevity very poor at around an hour.  Can’t stop singing the Beyoncé song from the fabulous advert though.

There were, however four launches that really made me sit up and take notice. I’m not even going to pick a favourite, because they all were. If you pushed me into owning just one though, it would be Alberto Morillas’ Gucci Bloom for Gucci. I’m a sucker for a bunch of white flowers at the best of times and I’m pleased to see them hopefully capturing some new hearts with this beautiful scent and stunning campaign.

Gucci Bloom -winner

Gucci  really made me sit up  and take notice with this one. I have been in a sulk with them since envy was scrapped, but they may be back in my good books again. Gucci Bloom is a wonderful white flower fragrance that is unapologetically feminine and floral.  I love that it takes floral scents back to basics,  stripping away all sugary artifice, whilst showcasing all the best bits of nature. Read my rave review here.

Cartier Baiser Fou

Baiser Fou is the flanker to lily based pillar scent Cartier Baiser Vole, and in my opinion, the better of the two.  Baiser Fou is all about  raspberries, Milky Bars and posh lipstick.  I love this playful and lovable scent, which always makes me think of summer weddings. My review is here.

Mugler Aura

It’s not very often Mugler brings out a brand new pillar scent, although flankers are frequent.  Aura is one of the most wearable Muglers.  It doesn’t have the nuclear sillage of Angel or Alien, nor the  divisive  love/hate of the discontinued Womanity (shudder).  However, with new notes of Tiger Liana (my future stripper name) and Wolfwood, this makes for an unusual and audacious scent. You can read my review here.

La Vie Est Belle L’Eclat

from Lancome UK

Whilst I feel Lancome La Vie est Belle has become ubiquitous, spawning many homages and dupes in its wake, La Vie est Belle L’Eclat offers something new.

The floral notes are there but the sugary caramel of the pillar fragrance  has been toned down, leaving a rather classy floral scent, with a hint of sweetness. The bottle is stunning too- I can’t stop touching the elaborate chiselled glass.  Lancôme, I salute you.

 Fragrances I Can’t Live Without

It is frankly impossible to only issue one award in this category.  It’s like asking me which is my favourite cat (don’t).  To choose one implies I don’t love the others as much, and that’s not true.  I have therefore listed the fragrances I fell headlong in love with in 2017.  If you have to take away my whole collection, just leave me these and I’ll be happy.

Aftelier Velvet Tuberose

4160 Tuesdays Killer Rose 

4160 Tuesdays Eau My Soul

Photo by Thomas Dunckley for Papillon Perfumery

Papillon Dryad

Marina Barcenilla India

DSH French Lily

Ruth Mastenbroek Firedance

Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium

Best New Perfume House 2017

Gallivant -winner

Nick Steward founded Gallivant with years of experience in his pocket from his previous tenure at L’Artisan Parfumeur. Basing each scent on a city vibe, Nick has created a scent wardrobe that takes you all around the world. What I like about this brand is that he hasn’t gone for the obvious, but has suggested the unseen underbelly of a city.  He’s gone for Brooklyn rather than Central Park and has given Tel Aviv a feel-good optimism. Gallivant is innovative, evocative and original. I look forward to seeing more from this exciting new house.

Best bargain brand

Bargain perfumes are my speciality. I believe that everyone should be able to have affordable perfume and I eschew all snobbery on my blog. In fact, the perfume I reached for most often in 2017 was my trusty £5.99 of Coty L’Aimant.

Avon-Winner

Avon has been producing some wonderful fragrances that whilst recognisably Avon, are bang on trend and can easily stand shoulder to shoulder with more expensive mainstream brands. In fact, the list of perfumers that have worked for Avon read like a Who’s Who of fragrance; Christopher Sheldrake, Oliver Cresp and Sonia Constant to name but three. Most of my Avon fragrances cost me around £7. Unbeatable.

Bronnley

Some superb fragrances from Bronnley who are shaking up their image to attract the younger scent buyer. Whilst I will always be a fan of the classic lemon soaps and floral bath goodies, (don’t ever stop making them!) there are now innovative roller balls and  50ml eau de toilettes in the Eclectic Elements range. My particular favourites are Wild Green and Exotic Embers. The prices are right too with 30ml eau fraiche bottles, rollerballs and candles all within the £10 range (prices are current as from day of publishing this).

Marks and Spencer

My local Marks and Spencer is next door to The Perfume Shop and I find myself in  there far more often than I find myself in the Perfume Shop.  Also, The Perfume Shop deletes all your loyalty points if you don’t use them fast enough, which doesn’t make me feel very loyal anymore.  Marks and Spencer hosts some of my favourite brands such as Fragonard and Monotheme, but their own brand stuff is pretty good too. I’m a big fan of Autograph Blush, Florentyna White and Rosie by Rosie Huntington Whitely. With 10ml purse sprays starting from a fiver, you can cheer yourself up without breaking the bank.

Yves Rocher

My beloved Yves Rocher! Whenever I order from them, I am always sent a free gift (usually something good like perfume) three samples, some sort of BOGOF deal and usually some sort of little surprise or purse spray. I am currently awaiting an order in which I spent £30 and will be receiving four bottles of perfume, a Swarovksi necklace and three samples.  This is not because I am a blogger, but because I am a customer and they are all treated this well. Fragrance quality is very high and I have never been disappointed. Check out my most recent Yves Rocher review here.

 Perfume Superstars Award

The Perfume Society

The Perfume Society

For the second year in a row I hail the beloved Mothership.  The Perfume Society not only hosts workshops and events that are a delight to attend, but I have an addiction to the Discovery Boxes which always, without fail, introduce me to a scent or brands I have never come across before.  Alexander Pope once declared that the point of literature was to instruct delightfully and The Perfume Society certainly fulfill this edict. The Scented Letter is a brilliant read, with breathtakingly good visuals and superb guest writers.  The latest Discovery Box I had even contained Green & Black’s Chocolate. chocolate. #dreamcometrue

2017 Highlights

I’m giving all of these equal placing because every one is indelibly engraved into my memory for when I’m an old lady and don’t get out much.

The Jasmine Awards

What can I say? Such an honour to be a finalist and such a day of contrasts. I began my day at BAFTA, followed by tea at the former Simpsons on The Strand with Sarah McCartney and Ruth Mastenbroek and ended it with the 3.15pm school run in Cwmbran.  Unforgettable! You can read about it here.

FiFis

I shall remember my night at the Fragrance Foundation awards for many years to come. I was invited as a guest of Clive Christian fragrance and the team made me feel so welcome. I got to wear a long dress, which doesn’t happen very often to me anymore, and mingle with the movers and shakers in the Fragrance World. It also marked the start of a friendship with FiFi winner Marina Barcenilla and the lovely Stephan Matthews.

photo by kind permission of Sarah McCartney

The Perfume Society Improve your Sense of Smell Workshop

Photo courtesy of The Perfume Society.

The Perfume Society held a workshop fairly near-ish to me in Clifton.  Since this is nearer than London, it was easy for me to attend, being across the water from South Wales (we have up to two bridges now).

I learnt so much in that afternoon  from Perfume Society Founder Jo Fairley, and would wholeheartedly recommend these workshops to anyone, even if you’ve been before!  Read my review of the day here.

Also featured in…

Check me out! I feel wanted and special. I got to work with all these delightful people this year and feel extremely flattered to be on their radar.

Stephan Matthews

Stephan’s Six- I join the ranks of hallowed predecessors and felt very flattered to be included in this legendary column.

Escentual.com

Escentual-  Perfume Expert Thomas Dunckley, (aka The Candy Perfume Boy)   called me a perfume expert too! I’m not in the same league as  Thomas, but I am thrilled to bits anyway. This is where I give my opinion on the most Christmassy perfume ever: Serge Lutens Arabie.  The photo is Thomas’s own.

 

My Beauty Matches– I’ve written several pieces for My Beauty Matches. You can check them out here and here.  A lovely team of people.

 

WOW Beauty– the amazing Denise of Wow beauty asked me to contribute to her fabulous site and I was delighted to join the fun. If you haven’t checked it out, do drop in. Such a lovely environment!

 

Collaborated with…Moodscent Four

This year saw me collaborate with  my wonderful Mood Scent Four colleagues, Esperanza, Tara and Megan. It was all Megan’s idea, so blame her. Megan is a Kiwi, based in the south of France  (meganinstsemaxime) and came up with the idea that four bloggers from four different countries could share their perfume recommendations for different moods and occasions. Every few months we all write about what to wear as a wedding guest, what scent to wear when uplifting is called for, and most recently, our favourite Night Out perfumes. They’re a joy to work with and I am honoured to be their colleague.

Over to you

What were your perfume highlights of 2017? What are you hoping to see more of in 2018? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year and thank you for taking the time and trouble to read my blog posts and follow what I’m up to. it would be very lonely without you all and each one of you is appreciated.

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Falling Through the Chypre Portal

Marie Helene Arnaud in Chanel from Marie Claire

As I drench myself in Papillon Dryad (ensuring full 36 hour coverage, I’m not kidding) I breathe a sigh of relief that I managed to make it through the chypre portal and didn’t miss out on a fragrance genre that is now essential to the finished  “Me” when I leave the house each day.  Clothes, to me, are less important than scent. If it’s black and it’s clean I’ll wear it. In summer, stripes. That’s it.

Photo by Thomas Dunckley for Papillon Perfumery

My scent however, speaks for me more than the black slash neck tops I own six times over. Chypres to me, speak of Dior’s New Look, Cecil Beaton’s photography, fur stoles, lost eras, face powder, lipstick on a wine glass. Gloves. They speak to the teenager inside me, who sat in a bedroom in Cwmbran, flicking through a hardback book of Vogue covers and thinking that glamorous world was still out there for the taking.

Prior to becoming a blogger I often labelled chypres as Old Lady perfumes, a term that makes me twitch now and which I have banned from my blog. To me, chypres were those musty, powdery scents that made me think of Dame Edith Evans rather than Anais Nin.

So how did it change? Well I was enabled and pushed through the chypre portal like a nervy parachutist by my friend Lisa, who knows much more about perfume than me.  Everyone needs a fairy Godmother in the Fragrant Firmament and Lisa was mine.

Lisa plonked her bottles of Balmain Jolie Madame and Balmain de Balmain in their fading cardboard boxes onto my table and let me spray and judge. I duly sprayed and I duly judged. Something happened. The fragrance, was somehow, put in context all of a sudden. The penny dropped. The band began to play and the ticker tape parade began.

This scent, right here, that mossy, earthy scent, suddenly turned me into the woman I wanted to be from the elegant line drawings of my Vogue book. It made me join Dorothy Parker’s Round Table, it made me strut like Renee Breton in Dior, it made me wreathe my fur stole in cigarette smoke and immerse myself in other decades, far away from the fast-moving digital era in which I found myself.

The Round Table at The Algonquin photo from NEA

Chypres connected me to the teen I used to be and to the beguiling, bohemian world I imagined in my bedroom in the early 80s.  No matter what I wear (black top, trousers), no matter what I do (school run, housework, blogging, cooking) and no matter where I am (not Paris) I still smell of the woman I dreamed of being. Who knew that a blend of oakmoss, patchouli, and bergamot ( and often labdanum) could conjure such a cloak around me?

Vogue

Chypres make me feel like me again. It puts me back in touch with the dreaming teen I was, despite that fact that the world has done its best to bring me down to earth. Chypres, along with Oscar Wilde, remind me that we are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars.

Discover Chypres on Your High Street

There are several excellent chypres that you can find on most High Streets. If you’re curious to find out more, check out Lancome Magie Noire,  Estee Lauder White Linen, Estee Lauder Knowing, Chanel Cristalle, Paloma Picasso by Paloma Picasso and Miss Dior Originale (make sure it is the Original and not the new Miss Dior with the bow on its neck).  If you smell all of those ( not all at once), you’ll start to see what they have in common. That earthy green, musty, powdery accord? There’s your chypre.

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Mood Scent Four: Night Out Perfumes

Photograph by kind permission of Alison Oddy of World of Oddy. Miss Meow and Lola-Showgirl

Moodscent Four is a collaboration between four bloggers from four different countries.  There’s Megan in France (who is actually from New Zealand), Esperanza in the Netherlands, Tara in England and me, Sam here in Wales.  Every few months, we all blog on the same theme and share what scents we use for different moods and occasions. There’s no right or wrong, and every time we collaborate I love to see what the others have written as we keep our choices a surprise form each other until the time of going to press.

This month, appropriately enough for Christmas-tide, it’s Night Out perfumes. Get your glad rags on, and get in a cab with us. It’s going to be a very fragrant ride.

 

My Favourite Night Out Perfumes

When an invite lands on the mat, or more likely these days, on Facebook Messenger, I find myself devoting far more time choosing my fragrance than I do my outfit (probably something black. Whatever’s clean).

Photo of the Folly Dollies by kind permission of Alison Oddy of World of Oddy photography.

To me, going out means getting the special favourites out.  I like to make an impact and when you’re hitting the town, that’s OK.  At night, you can let your inner vixen off the leash.

Here are my five favourite Night Out fragrances.  Don’t make me choose a favourite.  I must own all of these, always.

4160 Tuesdays Killer Rose

I recently wore this to an all-day wedding.  It’s my party scent and my favourite evening wear. It grew from the equally sublime 4160 Tuesdays Raw Silk and Red Roses.   Killer Rose is a version of that with the volume turned up.  There’s big red roses, earthy patchouli, a hint of peach and spice and I even get a waft of violets, which may or may not be there.  I often superimpose the smell of violets into fragrances since my brain wants to put them in everything, so it could be ghost violet!

This is the fragrance that my eight-year-old son described as “the best you’ve ever smelled”. I’ve been blogging about perfume since he was four, so that’s a huge compliment.

PS  Mini back story: After much Prosecco, we decided that Killer Rose would be my beloved sister in law’s wrestling name. It was a helluva wedding.

Ruth Mastenbroek Firedance

Firedance is the perfect Night Out fragrance for Autumn and Winter. It makes me think of festivals and dark late nights when you stay out way after the taxi drivers have gone to bed. Ah, those were the days! Firedance has roses with sepia, smoky edges and generous swoops of oud and leather, that dart around you as you move. Gorgeous bottle too- very Brothers Grimm! Firedance is Ruth’s fourth fragrance and she is working on a fifth.

Papillon Dryad

Photo by Thomas Dunckley for Papillon Perfumery

Whenever I wear this I immediately feel elegant ( and I’m not).  I feel self-assured and at home in my own skin, which is rare for a seething mass of self-doubt like wot I am.  Papillon Dryad is the ultimate  in elegant and earthy green chypres and it makes me want to strut around like I’m IT.   Dryad has notes of earthy green moss and narcissus and jonquil and herbs and all sorts of mysterious things from the forest. When I wear Dryad, I feel confident and womanly. This is a feeling that gets me in the mood more than wine and nail polish.

Le Jardin Retrouvé Tubereuse Trianon

L-R, Me, Stephan Matthews, and Sarah McCartney. Fragrances we were wearing: L-R le Jardin Retrouve Tubereuse Trianon, Le Jardin Retrouve Cuir Russie and of course, 4160 Tuesdays Mother Natures Naughty Daughters. Photo by kind permission of Sarah McCartney

I can’t resist tuberose. After sidestepping it for years, tuberose and I have some catching up to do and I try to insert any opportunity to wear it into my life.  Le Jardin Retrouvé Tubereuse Trianon was my fragrance of choice for the annual Fragrance Foundation Awards in May 2017. In a room where every scent was literally competing with another, my trusty whispers of tuberose still snaked up to my nostrils as if to assure me that my chosen scent had not been wiped out by competitors. I still smelled of tuberose when I landed in bed that night. And I had sniffed A LOT of people.

DSH Chinchilla

I love Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s fragrances.  She can turn her hand from spring flower buds to animalic retro via everything else you could wish for in Perfume Land. Chinchilla is a very animalic musky mossy chypre that smells like it was made in 1924. The name itself evokes a lost world of dark glamour and fur coats and cigarette holders and speakeasies. Now if that doesn’t make you want to go out, then I don’t know what will.

Find out what Night-Out fragrances my colleagues chose here:

Meganinsaintemaxime

L’Esperessence

A Bottled Rose

How about you?

What scent do you reach for when the bright lights beckon? Do you go for elegance? Audacity? Or do you give in to your animal instincts? Do tell!

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Fragrance Selection Boxes: How to Let Them Choose at Christmas

 

Marks and Spencer

I don’t know about you but I like all selection boxes. From chocolate to fragrance, I’ll take the lot.  I am in no way advocating that fragrance selection boxes should replace chocolate ones, but rather that they should be avidly encouraged in addition to chocolate selection boxes.

The chocolate sort is strongly encouraged in my house

Right then, now we’ve cleared that up, let’s begin.

It’s a common refrain. People want perfume, after shave and toiletries for Christmas. You ask them what sort and they may say “I don’t mind” or “anything.”

The sheer volume of unwanted fragrances on eBay the day after Christmas tells me that this system of vague politeness doesn’t work for anyone. So what’s the solution? Fragrance selection boxes.

These will offer a variety of fragrances that your intended recipient can then choose from.  If you can add a full bottle gift voucher, even better.

I’ve scouted around and made a list of my absolute favourites, none of which I would turn down (are you reading this in the North Pole Mr S.Claus?)

The Marks and Spencer Ferris Wheel

Marks and Spencer

I salivated when I saw this. Not just miniatures, but generous 12ml bottles of 12 fragrances.

Marks and Spencer

It’s currently reduced to the bargain price of £22. The box is beautiful and your recipient (or you, if you’re weak willed like me and end up keeping it) may find a new favourite. If I was a betting woman I would say this will sell out.

Whilst you’re in there, check out the mini Fragonard sets. I had one a few years ago and the longevity was incredible. You honestly can’t go wrong with Fragonard. Trust me, I’m a perfume blogger. I know this stuff.

The Perfume Society Discovery Boxes

These smart white boxes from The Perfume Society are my guilty pleasure throughout the year. I don’t think there’s a single one I’ve missed since they began. They’re beautifully wrapped so you can give them as they are, and inside there are between eight and ten perfume samples, often with generous beauty treats too such as shower gel or hand cream and I’ve even had  a tiny perfume bottle keyring and a nail polish.

Each box contains postcards with notes about the perfumes within, so it’s a great way to learn what you like and discover new brands.

I’m not on the pay roll, but as a grown up, they are my absolute favourite toy and I love to sit there playing. They also do them for men too- try the Men’s Edit or For Him and there’s a sharing box for couples, which, teamed with a bottle of champagne, makes a fine wedding/anniversary/Christmas gift.

Buy British and Smell Good with 4160 Tuesdays

4160 Tuesdays

4160 Tuesdays is one of my favourite perfume houses. Probably in the top three but don’t make me choose, okay? Too hard.  With delightfully named sets of samples such as “Frocks and Hats” (my favourite), “Love & Life Stories” and “Best of British”, you get seven spray samples and then you add your gift voucher so your recipient can fall in love with his or her favourite and buy up a big bottle with their voucher. Here’s the link.  

4160 Tuesdays

The samples will be wrapped up like little Quality Street in brightly coloured tissue so this is a very user-friendly Christmas gift. There’s no extra charge for the wrapping, it’s all part of the normal service. with 4160 Tuesdays. My favourites are Raw Silk and Red Roses, Killer Rose, Doe in The Snow, Tarts Knicker Drawer and Fruits of The Tree of Knowledge.

Pell Wall: Nine Beautiful Bottles from A Shropshire Lad

Pell Wall Perfumes

Over in beautiful Shropshire, Chris Bartlett of Pell Wall perfumes makes and sells beautiful fragrances  made with his own hands. If you haven’t heard of Pell Wall, you’re in for a treat.  I have tried several from the range and thoroughly recommend them. Best of all, you can buy a Pell Wall Discovery Set containing NINE generous 10ml spray bottles, for only £70.  They come in a box ( see above) and these nine bottles should see you through at least a whole year. My personal favourites are Pretty in Pink, Deep Purple and Anjin.

Jo Malone

My local Jo Malone shop (nearest is Cardiff) is always very busy, no matter what time of year you go there. Fans are die hard and devoted. At Christmas, there is a wide choice of mini sets and selection boxes from which to choose your gift.

Jo Malone

You can buy the London Cologne Collection from Jo Malone or John Lewis, and there’s also the Intense Cologne Collection, and a scented candle selection box too.

Jo Loves

Jo Loves

Jo Loves is a smaller company, also founded by Jo Malone MBE, long after Jo Malone the company was sold to Estee Lauder in 1999.  Jo Loves is a smaller, more personal fragrance house, but no less addictive.  Try the “Can’t Go Wrong” Discovery Set which involves ten sample sprays and a voucher for either a 50ml or a 100ml bottle of scent.  Check out the site here.

This Year’s No Shows

Walter Langley Never Morning Wore to Evening 1894

Sadly, this year there is an absence of the Perfume Shop Viva Boxes, and also of the similar set at Boots, which is also no longer available. Both shops do little mini sets of branded scents (i.e Estee Lauder, Lancôme) but the little mixed sets with a gift voucher are no longer there.  Also, the Fragrance Shop no longer does the Discovery Club, but they do have a new subscription service where you can “date” a fragrance before buying it. You can find details here, but I do miss my little quarterly box of surprises. Sniff. I’ll have to cheer myself with some more chocolate.

PS Try TK Maxx. The stock is always changing, but you sometimes get wonderful variety sets around Christmas time. Last year I saw a Juicy Couture Rollerball set for around £12. This year they have Chloe mini sets, Modern Muse and  Marc Jacobs. Quick!

How about you?

Have you discovered any variety boxes that i’ve missed? Share your tips and insider knowledge!

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Aftelier Velvet Tuberose: A White Flower Winter

Mandy Aftel is a revered world-wide authority on natural fragrances, and flavour too.  To receive samples all the way from Berkeley California to my humble end of terrace home in overcast South Wales makes me feel very honoured. When I heard Mandy was working on a scent called Velvet Tuberose, my antenna twitched in anticipation. It’s no exaggeration that since learning more about fragrance, tuberose has become a firm favourite of mine. I couldn’t wait to see what Mandy would do with it.

Fragrantica

Velvet Tuberose is in solid fragrance form. This means that you can travel with it, apply it on a train without annoying anyone and Mandy can post it to you, even in the UK. It also means that the waxy texture won’t dry your skin out. Reader, it lasts and lasts and lasts. Here’s what I thought about it:

Wikipedia

Velvet Tuberose opens brightly and loudly. It’s heady and thick and reminds me of the hottest days in summer full of flowers and bees and heat.  As this peaks, there is a pleasant woodiness to Velvet Tuberose, which takes over when the thick summer flowers tail off. You have the creamy headiness of the tuberose, that faintest hint of celery that plays hide and seek and a sweetness that lies somewhere between a florist and a snapped fern leaf.  I found a lot of sharp greenery here, which offsets the richness of the tuberose absolute. Yes, Mandy has used tuberose absolute. It’s not the cheapest way of doing things, but Mandy sources her materials with great care. The quality of the ingredients really shows: not just in the longevity but in the fully rounded notes that seem to get plumper and richer, rather than tailing off and fading as some liquid fragrances can. Although it’s not listed as a note, my nose found traces of earthy honey in here that warms this big white floral up for winter.

From Aftelier.com

 

Longevity is remarkable. Apply in the morning and when your head hits the pillow at bed time, you’re sniffing the air and thinking, is that still me? It is.

Velvet Tuberose is a high quality rich tuberose with a chorus of flowers to introduce it, and a finale of sandalwood and honey to round it off. Tuberose fans will adore it, and people who are not yet tuberose fans might find that this is the one that converted them to Tuberose Love.

Stockists

You can but Velvet Tuberose from the Aftelier website. My sample was kindly sent to me by Mandy Aftel, for which, warmest thanks. No conditions were attached and this is not a sponsored post.

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Avon Imari Elixir: The Flanker Hall of Fame

You know the trouble with flankers? You love the original and it’s so flankered to death that you can barely remember the first and best and then you lose track of which ones you need to buy and which you missed completely.  Then there’s the other side of the coin: the flankers that are so good that you end up saying “Can’t even remember the original. Love this more.”

Avon Imari Elixir falls firmly into the second category.  Now don’t get me wrong, I like Avon Imari, but it left me feeling a little wistful about its lack of longevity. As a light office friendly floral, it’s spot on, but it didn’t last as long as I hoped.

Avon Cosmetics

Avon Imari Elixir says “Stand back and get used to me, because I’m here all day.” And it is.

Imari Elixir opens with unmistakable blackberry notes. These are berry notes that add the juiciness without all the sugar. They have none of the bitterness of blackcurrant, and none of the sickliness of the frequent plethora of sugary sweet pink pepper. Good choice, Avon. The blackberry joins in with jasmine and deep red roses. The vanilla is very much more than a walk on part- it’s warm and buttery but again, not too sickly.  Then in the base, along comes the patchouli, which gives this real staying power and “oomph”, for want of a better word.  Coupled with amber, this rounds off this dark fruity rose with a flourish of warmth and earthiness. Some Fragrantica members have said that this reminds them of Lancôme Hypnose, so if you like that, stock up on this. Imari Elixir is  a fabulous “going out” perfume.

Despite being an eau de toilette, this really has staying power. I call this great value at just £6.

Stockists

This is available from Avon UK or from your Avon rep. My Avon Lady is called Jill and we are on Christmas card swapping terms now, as you can imagine.   Avon Imari Elixir was just £6. I paid for it myself and this is not a sponsored post.

Avon cosmetics

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Avon Far Away: Here’s why it’s Number One

Avon Far Away is Avon’s best-selling fragrance in the UK.  Avon daren’t discontinue it for fear of riots .  It also has the distinction of being the fragrance I smell most when out and about here in South Wales. The women who love it REALLY love and most of them are repeat buyers.

It occurred to me that I have reviewed many, MANY Avon fragrances but not this one. In the past I have dismissed it and not paid it much heed, but last night I sat down and  really paid attention to it.  Reader,  I learned a thing or two along the way.

Firstly, I once dismissed this as so vanilla-y that it borders on coconuts (true-ish, there are coconut notes and vanilla). However, last night, as I let it unfold on my skin, I noticed many facets I hadn’t previously found. First of all, this is a grand white flower fragrance. It bursts with jasmine and gardenia. I thought I could discern tuberose, but no, it was jasmine and gardenia- a pretty heady combo at any time of day. Also present is karo karoundee- a white flower that has similar nuances to tuberose and is often paired with it. No, I hadn’t heard of it, and yes, I did have to look that up. (Thanks, Fragrantica!).

Before the flowers go anywhere, the peaches emerge, coupled with apricotty osmanthus, giving this a very peachy, powdery accord. This gets stronger until it peaks at freesia, peach and white flowers before relaxing into a base note you will recognise when you walk down my local High Street.

The base notes ares rich in vanilla, musk and woods, but mainly  settle to a sweet, peachy and powdery vanilla.

Far Away reminds me of another early Nineties fragrance: Cassini by Oleg Cassini. I wore it a lot as I worked in the evening wear department of  a House of Fraser store. There was a display bottle on a stand and we sales assistants all drenched ourselves in it. The peaches, vanilla and flowers have a sweetness in common with Far Away.

Far Away was created in 1994 and its popularity shows no signs of dipping. There have been several flankers, and the one most like the original is Far Away Gold, which is very similar, note by note, but has stronger amber notes and less fruitiness.  Also, fact fans, Far Away Infinity smells very similar to Paco Rabanne Olympea but is less than ten quid. Just saying.

To sum up, Far Away is not my favourite Avon, but taking a good look at it really opened my eyes to what a great scent this is. Avon has made a wonderful peachy, powdery, vanilla classic that puts good fragrance into an accessible price range. I couldn’t ask for more.

Stockists

Avon Far away is widely available. Try Avon UK, Amazon UK and eBay.  I get mine off my Avon Lady because then she gets commission and she is lovely.

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Gallivant Brooklyn: My New Habitat

Gallivant is a new niche perfume house which was created by Nick Steward, former creative director at L’Artisan Parfumeur. You may recall my previous reviews of other Gallivant scents: Istanbul, London and Tel Aviv. I never thought that one of my favourite fragrances would be called Tel Aviv, but it is.

Today I’m reviewing Gallivant Brooklyn– a place I’ve never been (also see Istanbul and Tel Aviv for places I’ve never been). However, this bottle of uplifting feel good fragrance makes me want to move there immediately. If only!

Here’s the Gallivant description of Brooklyn (you’ll see what I mean about how appealing it sounds):

“It’s life on the sidewalk, early summer breezes, the glow from the lighting in bars and diners, bright apartments with books. Cocktails with friends”

Doesn’t it make you want to pack a case right now?  You can  hop in my cab if you like.

Photo by Michelb101 for Wiki Commons

So how do they encapsulate all this in a fragrance? Well, if you want a feel good fragrance, you need citrus and that’s how this opens. There are lemon and limes galore. In fact, this reminded me of the kind of drinks I would have a child: lemon squash and limeade from the pop van. Happy times indeed.  The citruses pretty much stick around here. I found this lemon/lime accord  is present right until the end, which is no mean feat- citrus notes are notoriously hard to pin down for any length of time.

HouseofTreats.com

In the middle there are some very gentle, clean floral notes: Magnolia in her Sunday Best and classy iris-like Orris.

I could tell you that the base note is all resin-y and woody, but I won’t, because what happened on my skin,  is that this became a lemon/lime musk and there it stayed.

Brooklyn reminds me of that intangible note in the air when life is good, your time is your own and you don’t have a mortgage yet. It reminds me of carefree evenings on my way to meet friends, when all I had to do was arrange my social life and dream some dreams.  The word I am looking for is, ironically, gallivanting.

Brooklyn is clean, happy, even slightly soapy, and is a  whimsical and rather beautiful mood elevator. Brava to Nose Giorgia Navarra.

Stockists

My samples were kindly sent to me by Gallivant, for which many thanks. No conditions were attached and this is an honest review. You can buy Gallivant from the website or from Roullier White. Watch this space for reviews of Amsterdam and Berlin.  Now Berlin, I HAVE been to.

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Deep into Flowers: My favourite DSH floral perfumes.

Photo of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz  from The Perfume Magazine

I was recently lucky enough to receive a little bundle of samples from the genius perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. I liked every single fragrance.  However, some of them took hold of my heart and wouldn’t let go.   Despite the Non-Spring weather here in  chilly Wales I’m going through a big floral phase at the moment.

There were so many beautiful floral notes in these fragrances that  it felt like a little olfactory tour of an exclusive florist.

DSH Perfumes Fleurs du Soleil

Fleurs du Soleil takes tuberose to the tropics and introduces it to new company. This is the kind of tuberose I am always seeking. I last found it in By Kilian Good Girl Gone Bad, and how I swooned!.  It’s borderline vegetal, but at the same time, it feels like plunging your nose deep within the  heady petals of this unique flower that always makes its presence felt.  Around the tuberose is sweet honeysuckle, and a touch of citrussy fruit to stop everything going too flowery. It’s beautifully balanced and  I keep getting little wafts as I move. Wonderful!

photo from bhg.com

DSH Perfumes April

April smells exactly like playing in the garden  as a child. The most prevalent note to me, is sweet pea. I remember the scent so well from my childhood. The olfactory memory is extraordinary and I remember garden scents from over forty years ago. Don’t ask me what I had for breakfast earlier today though.

April has just about every note you would expect from a Spring scent . It evokes green grass, spring flowers and tiny bunches of violets (which have no scent in real life, sadly). Also in here is sweet clover, which I used to actually eat when I was about five.  If you pluck a juicy petal out of the flower, at the base you will find nectar and it tastes as good as it sounds.  I also used to eat fuchsias and daisies,  although this was not encouraged.  I suppose I was rather odd, looking back.

What I like about April is that so many flowers are here, but somehow it smells clean and fresh, rather than sweet and overpowering, like some florals can smell. This is everything you can smell in a spring garden, buds, grass, moss and all.

DSH Perfumes Bluedaisy

I think of this as a daisy and blue sky all in one, such is its lightness and airiness. This comes from the grapefruit, which opens the fragrance, and the delicate flowers that follow the citrus notes. This would fit into the fruity floral category ( it has grapefruit, yuzu, passion fruit, oranges), but I still think of this as primarily a floral. The fruits here seem to frame the flowers and make them  sing louder, almost like  a conductor waving a baton.

I noticed the passion fruit, but then I thought- isn’t that perfect with sweet pea? I noticed the almondy, waxy petals of frangipani and the clean, almost herbal background of fresh, very green grass. This is a happy,  Zippety Doo Dah feel good scent that really makes you appreciate how beautiful nature is.

Stockists

All my samples were kindly supplied by Dawn herself, for which, warmest thanks. There were no conditions or obligations attached. The good news is that Dawn ships all over the world (with a few exceptions) so UK fans can order and enjoy these nature friendly scents.  Here’s the website link.

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