For a few days now I have been mulling over the comments of readers and my own response to old and new YSL Opium. We’ve heard passionate arguments in favour of the older formulation, and several positive comments about the new one ( including from yours truly). Now that friend of the blog Lisa has kindly let me borrow her gorgeous bottle of old Opium ( see photo) and I have tried both the old and the new, I feel qualified to give my opinion.
New Opium is still a wonderful daytime scent that I would happily have on my dressing table. It’s widely available and there’s nothing wrong with it at all: it’s even suitable for daywear in August.
Old Opium, which I am wearing now, is indeed the “woah there” scent that friends of the blog Sally and Lisa argued so passionately in favour of and can only be had on eBay it would seem. It’s a whopper with sillage that could kill a canary. It’s shamelessly blousy and glamorous: like a drunk at a party- loud and unmissable but witty and fun. It’s powdery and classic (some would say old fashioned, I say classic) and has done a trolley dash through the Oriental Perfume Ingredients Store and bought everything. It’s fabulous and it was in its day, a groundbreaker.
Here’s my verdict: New Opium is indeed a shadow of the Old Opium, to the point where it is in fact a lite version and should have been labelled as such. New Opium is excellent in its own right but the very fact that I would recommend it for daywear even in August goes to show how weak it is compared to its night-time-only- it’ll-blow-your-socks-off original. What YSL should have done is kept old Opium intact and called new Opium by the name of a flanker such as Eau D’Opium or Opium Summer (In fact confusingly there is an Opium Summer-Eau d’été- a name which would have suited the current formulation)
I therefore declare YSL guilty of murdering a perfectly good scent and replacing it with an imposter. A good imposter, but an imposter nonetheless. They may be cousins but they don’t even look alike. *gavel*
Here is another example of a perfume that replaces another perfume with a different name and is given yet another new name. (Here’s VoiceOver Man with “Previously on IScentYouADay”) You may recall Dior changed Miss Dior into Miss Dior Originale and introduced Miss Dior Cherie as the new Miss Dior, discontinuing Miss Dior Cherie? It’s like replacing Joan Collins with Sir Ian Mckellan and still calling the character Alexis Carrington. Its confusing isn’t it? Does it makes you want to run away? I tell you what: it doesn’t half give bloggers a headache when they do this.
According to Fragrantica, Eau My Gold has been launched by Paco Rabanne with the intention that it will replace the current Lady Million EDT. The thing is they smell different and Lady Million EDT is a very big seller, so I’m scratching my head over this one. Whenever I am in a perfume shop or at a counter I always ask “What’s your bestseller?” and they always tell me it’s Lady Million. From House of Fraser to the Perfume Shop to Superdrug.
However, I have at my disposal a sample of Eau My Gold, and despite it ticking many boxes of things I don’t normally go for, I ended up liking it, even with melon!. Alongside it I tried Lady Million and had forgotten how floral it was: white flowers mainly. I disliked Lady Million initially but I find that when you put a perfume away for a while and bring it back out again, you can often view it differently. (Can I just confess that despite loathing Thierry Mugler Angel I sometimes sniff it incessantly when I am home alone? I may turn yet)
Lady Million EDT has many of my favourite notes on paper but loses my loyalty when it goes a bit synthetic: lily of the valley, neroli, patchouli, hyacnith and gardenia. On paper, it should be a sure-fire hit with me, but the ingredients seem to be made from plastic flowers rather than real ones. However, it’s by no means as bad as I remember it.
Eau My Gold has top notes of very noticeable melon, mango, mandarin and grapefruit. This is thirst quenching in a sort of J20 way. You know those orange and passion fruit drinks you can get in UK pubs?
Imagine one of those over ice.
Not bad. The fruit cocktail is followed by violet, amber, musk and orange blossom, which don’t really go with the fruit if I’m honest. It’s refreshing and pleasant, but beds down into a fruity cocktail mish mash. The top notes are lovely though. If I had to pick between the two, I’d go for Lady Million EDT.
Which begs the question: why change it so much? It’s not like it wasn’t selling. Conclusion: Eau my Gold will sell, but Lady Million EDT should be kept on in its own right as it is dazzlingly different from the new incumbent. If Fragrantica is correct, and they usually are, Lady Million EDT fans need to get busy buying!
Givenchy has launched their latest fragrance Dahlia Divin with the beautiful Alicia keys as the face of the campaign. There’s good news and bad news. Good news is that the prolific genius Francois Demachy made it and he pretty much created the monster’s share of the current Dior lines. No amateurs here. The other good news is that it doesn’t smell like cake or candy floss.
OK so that’s the good news out of the way. The bad news is that Dahlia Divin smells a little generic and I am sitting here racking my brains to name the scent that this reminds me of. In fact I think it smells like several: Jimmy Choo Flash and Loewe Aura. Maybe it’s the fact that Jasmine Sambac and white flowers have been put centre stage, ubiquitous plum has been added, and then there’s the frequently used base of patchouli and vetiver.
The problem I have with white flowers is that that I feel they need a heavy base to ground them. Say, tuberose for example. Jasmine on its own tends to stray into all sorts of territories without being anchored and it can vary from shrill to indolic. In this case, it’s borderline sweet and shrill at the same time. I’m not entirely sure that’s a good thing.
However, like I said, the good news is that there’s no vanilla, no red berries, no caramel and no chocolate. So I really shouldn’t be ungrateful. It bugs me that this is labelled as a chypre when I don’t think it qualifies. I am not a professional by any means, but this just doesn’t smell like a chypre to me. To me, a chypre is Chanel No 19 or Balmain Jolie Madame. Dahlia Divin has nothing in common with either. ANd there’s no oak moss. Not a whiff!
I enjoyed the opening notes that were soapy, powdery and feminine, but the middle and base notes smell like generic Avon perfumes, notably the scents from the Today, Tomorrow, Always range. Either that’s a dig at Givenchy or a compliment to Avon.
My sample was obtained from my hotly anticipated Discovery Club Box from the Fragrance Shop. I look forward to each and every one even if I end up not loving all the samples. What pure bliss to sit there wading through them though!
I can tell you this about Dahlia Divin: there’s not a whiff of Dahlia, but then they never pretend that there’s going to be. The stunning and talented Alicia Keys, the name, the bottle: all beautiful.
Yesterday was a scorching hot day here in Wales (can I say sunny Wales? I think I can). The heat was unbearable to a freckled person like me. What could I possibly do to cool myself down? Bear in mind that air conditioning is not commonplace in Wales as heat waves tend to be the exception rather than the rule. Hello and welcome to my new bottle of Avon Tahitian Holiday.
Many people have compared Avon Tahitian Holiday with Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess. I will say this: yes they both have coconut and white flowers and smell tropical and yes Tahitian Holiday isn’t a bad substitute for it. However Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess has more resonance and richness and unfurls like a many layered flower: there’s a waft of fig, an ambery base and a deep creamy richness to it which Tahitian Holiday doesn’t have. Bronze Goddess costs between 40GBP and 50 GBP, whereas Tahitian Holiday only cost me a fiver. The choice is yours. It depends what you want from your perfume.
Personally, I can’t stretch to a bottle of Bronze Goddess right now and my Wish List is already so full it’s not accepting new members. However, for five quid I will say that Tahitian Holiday is pretty damn good. It opens with coconuts, has a middle phase of white tropical flowers (that’ll be the Tiare Flower) and settles to a light floral cocnutty mist. Lasting power is around four hours, making this Eau de Toilette longer lasting than a cologne.
My 50ml bottle has already gone down considerably in one day due to my frequent top ups- I adore the top note! In summer, it’s fine to smell like flowery coconuts. Winter is long and cold, we can get the rich’n’heavies out then. But for now, for that holiday mood that doesn’t take itself too seriously, you can’t go wrong with a squoosh of Avon Tahitian Holiday.
It’s wedding season, and what better excuse to think about dreamy wedding perfumes? Scent evokes such vivid memories that it’s important to get it right for a big occasion. I have had fun over the past few days picking out perfumes for every kind of bride (I hope). This guide is of course, subjective and you may have other ideas, or choose to wear a trusty old favourite, as I did. Don’t forget the Golden Rule: Your partner has to buy you a bottle on every anniversary, so pick wisely.
If you’re planning a wedding, I would love to know what scent you have chosen. If you are already married, I would love to know what you wore to your wedding. As for me, I wore Chanel Cristalle, but if I had to marry Mr IScent all over again, it would be 4160 Tuesdays Raw Silk and Red Roses. Incidentally, just because this article is angled towards brides, doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate marriage in all its wonderful forms regardless of gender, race and age.
I support marriage equality wholeheartedly and at the same time, I say knickers to gender stereotypes in perfume. All you need is love. And a wink and a smile.
The Classy Bride
Chanel No 19– Think Kristen Scott Thomas in a simple shift looking incredible. Think hauteur.
I Fancy You by Jessica Simpson– Just for the name, just so people can say “what are you wearing?” and you can answer them, deadpan. With your new spouse right next to you. Especially funny if your mother in law is present. Awkward if it is she who is asking.
The Unforgettable Bride With a Dangerous Glint In Her Eye
Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles– despite having written over 400 reviews of perfume, this is the only one that made my husband stand up and protest loudly. Could be fun at a wedding.
Etat Libre D’Orange Secretions Magnifiques. It’s got the word secretions in its name. It smells like it sounds. You may smell like you just had urgent sex with a tramp en route to the church. But hey, nobody will forget your wedding. Check out my review, and brace yourself.
I have been keeping half an eye on Alfred Sung Forever for quite some time. Should I/Shouldn’t I? I was drawn in by the promise of Lily of the Valley, by the promise that it was green and the promise that it was made with brides in mind and therefore so would be pretty. Yesterday my bottle finally arrived: a nice big 75ml bottle too. I took the cellophane off (oh ! I love that feeling!) and sprayed. And then I felt a bit sad, as if my ice cream just fell on the floor after one lick.
Alfred Sung Forever is so similar to Elizabeth Arden Splendor that they could be interchangeable. Both have that metallic, hollow almost-but-not-quite floral note running through the middle. It’s borderline ozonic. There was Lily of the Valley, but so fake and so plastic that it gave me less pleasure than just looking at a photograph of Lily of The Valley. There is a plastciky, mass produced note to it that wasn’t a million miles away from the dreadful Karl Lagerfeld Sun Moon Stars. The base note is baby talcum powder.
The reviews on Fragrantica raved about it. Mine will not be one of them. It’s curious that both Forever and Splendor smell the same and both come in large bottles: Splendor comes in a 125ml bottle and Forever arrived in a big 75ml bottle. The price was good at under a tenner, and you know how strong my convictions are on the “You can smell good without being rich” stance, but I guess this was a turkey. I have visions of a giant vat of the stuff, cobbled together for a song and being pumped into various bottles and sold off cheaply. Any leftovers are used in inexpensive “Ocean Fresh” toilet fresheners.
You may be familiar with my Law of Sod when it comes to perfumes: if you hate it, it will never leave you, even with soap and water. If you love it, it won’t hang around. And thus it was that four hours later, I scrubbed and scrubbed and in the end had a shower to get rid of it. It sure does last Forever.
Sometimes when I’m exploring new fragrances to blog about, something comes along that makes me wonder why on earth I have taken so long to get round to it. Guerlain Insolence is one example- why haven’t I tried it before?
This gorgeous violetty dream was created in 2006 by Maurice Roucel and Sylvaine Delacourte, both solidly experienced Guerlain Noses. It could be said that this was Guerlain’s answer to the thirst for fruity florals, but using Violet and Iris as the florals and including Bergamot and Lemon as the fruit, they have created a masterpiece that ticks the fruity floral boxes yet remains unique in the field.
Yes there are strawberries and red berries , but somehow the restrained use just serves to make the Violets smell sweeter, but not sickly: like sugar free Parma Violets. Then the Iris comes in and stops the Violet getting overly sweet, framing it in that very slightly rooty, dry sort of way that Iris has. There is a gorgeous soapiness that I happen to love in a fragrance: here it smells like high-end soap from a luxury hotel, thrice milled and pure white.
Resonance and longevity are not just good, but could go nuclear with overspraying, in an Angel sort of way. With Insolence, two sprays will last till lunch, eight would bring down an elephant.
I adore this violet perfume that has such a thick soapy background and yet remains pretty and complex at the same time. I have a wish list of Guerlain fragrance and it goes like this: Chamade, Vol de Nuit, Shalimar and now, Insolence. Maybe I will print this off and send it up the chimney for Santa or Mary Poppins.
A new release for 20114, BVLGARI Omnia Indian Garnet is in the same vein as Omnia Jade and the rest of the Crystal range, and the bottle is similar too: looking like a beautiful piece of modern jewellery.
The blurb says it “captures the magic and the sensuality of Tuberose and Osmanthus” and frankly, it does.
Omnia Indian Garnet makes me think of sunsets at the end of an Indian Summer day. This could just be the orange packaging, I suppose, but the hint of Amber underneath the rather lovely Tuberose (added with a light hand) and the Apricotty Osmanthus, makes for a wonderful summer scent with a faint bite of heat in the base.
My only complaint here is that I would have liked it to have had more oomph. It’s so light and delicate that even two minutes after testing I have to sniff very close to my skin to get a waft of it. Lasting power is also disappointing at around three hours close to skin. However, I am testing the Eau de Toilette so maybe with an Eau de Parfum this problem would be solved. Unfortunately I don’t see any Eau de Parfums on the Omnia range at all, anywhere, so I guess that’s that.
The bottle alone is enough to make me buy this, but I just need this delicate flower to have a few more muscles.
It is a perfume of its time in so far as it joins legions of fruity florals already present on the shelves and in years to come we will smell this and think it smells dated, like a typical perfume of the mid Noughties.
However, in its defence, the fruit used in the opening notes is the citrus Yuzu fruit, which tempers the sweet florals of Magnolia, Peony and Lotus. Had this been complemented by Strawberries or red berries, it would be too cloying and sickly, but the Yuzu seems to work. Incidentally I don’t smell any pomegranate here, but the sea notes in the opening give it a slightly metallic tang, which unfortunately, made me think of melon/cucumber notes and was therefore a turn off. I’m rarely a fan of Calone cologne. The base notes are plasticky and fresh, like a spotless bathroom. Maybe it’s those everlasting Sea notes that just don’t quit.
I had heard that Bright Crystal was similar to Avon Femme so I decided to run an experiment. I applied Bright Crystal to one arm and the recent Avon Femme to the other (also reviewed earlier in my blog). For the first ten minutes it was hard to tell them apart. However, Bright Crystal retained its clean floral notes whilst Avon Femme began to smell like the basenotes of Avon Incandessence: like plastic flowers with a hint of synthetic Peaches. The bottles are similar though.
To conclude my experiment (I have new glasses that make look very serious) I will say that Versace Bright Crystal is a good everyday scent for the modern girl, and it is clearly better than Avon Femme. However, whilst it’s not terrible, it simply isn’t my cup of tea with a sugar and milk. Not bad for a summer scent though.
The first time I heard of Tubereuse Criminelle was on Mumsnet. A Mumsnetter found it so appallingly bad that she was inspired to start a thread entitled “Worst Ever Perfumes”. The thread is now in its sixth incarnation, which means over 5,000 replies have been posted and the thread has evolved from worst to best, from SOTDs to recommendations hither and thither. Samples have been swapped and perfume true loves have been discovered. And all because of the notorious Tubereuse Criminelle.
Created by the prestigious and prolific Christopher Sheldrake for Serge Lutens, Criminelle is certainly a Madame with dark intentions. I have long thought that Tuberose, when good quality, is creamy almost to the point of being medicinal, and Christopher Sheldrake must have thought the same (I flatter myself to think we agree, he is a genius and I, a mere passionate amateur). Sheldrake has taken the almost chemical notes of uber strong, nuclear Tuberose and concentrated it to the Nth degree until it smells like something else, at least initially.
On first spray, Criminelle smells like TCP antiseptic along with clean fabric sticking plasters. This is not a complaint: I rather like it. Then it smells like the pink mouth wash you get at a dentist, then it finally calms down a bit and the Tuberose (XXX strong), starts to come out after doing a rather tricky striptease in the opening Act.
The Tuberose is accompanied by Jasmine, Hyacinth, and Orange Blossom, with a base of Styrax, Clove and Nutmeg. What this translates to on my skin is: Antiseptic, then Tuberose to the Max, and finally a faint whiff of dried leaves, like old pot pourri still with satiny Tuberose infusing everything.
This is utterly dastardly in its deception and its tricksy opening, and then a triumph as the bud opens to reveals the flower.
Longevity, as you would expect from a Serge, is around nine hours. Two things: don’t wear it in company before noon, and don’t buy it blind. I would love a full bottle of this, and would treasure it like gold.
I have a very kind soul to thank for this sample- follower and friend of the blog, meganinstmaxime sent me this sample all the way from France. In keeping with its crafty nomenclature, this sample disappeared into thin air after I tried it. I looked everywhere- even going through the bin at one point. I turned my house upside down, raiding drawers, my handbag, my desk, the sofa, the kitchen and everywhere you could think of.
This morning I found it- on the chopping board. Why? What on earth…? I tell you, this is a crafty one.