Summer begins the day I leave home without a cardigan. Today is that day. What better scent to review than one that immediately made me long for an infinity pool somewhere hot? As lovely as Pontypridd Lido is, I want more.
Michael Kors Turquoise was an immediate hit with me. It opens with sea notes, which is a rather handy subjective term. I’m pretty sure that many brands have their own definition. In this case, it is a clean unsalted sea note that reminded me of that scent of churning water outdoors- you know, the scent you get when you stand at the top of a water slide in the sun? Yep. That. I could even smell rubber inflatables, but I think that’s memory and association, rather than this actual fragrance.
The lime is astringent and not sweet like cordial. If you don’t normally like cucumber notes, you’ll still like this: it’s in there faintly, but hard to pick out. The water lily adds to the aquatic feel : It’s a clean, subtle flower note. The jasmine comes out somewhere in the middle, but gently, not in a big white flowery way like tuberose can. There’s nothing heady about Turquoise at all.
This claims to bed down into a cedar and amber base, but I can report that after two hours, it smells like a swimming pool with flower petals in to the point where I want to start looking at holiday brochures.
Turquoise is the perfect name for this. It’s David Hockney, water slides and infinity pools. It’s the perfect summer fragrance. I wish it was stronger so that my whole day smells like this. Suddenly, indoors seems a bit stuffy now.
Oh, is it for men or for women? Don’t know, don’t care. It’s gorgeous.
Michael Kors Turquoise is available from House of Fraser where I drenched myself in it more than once. Sorry, not sorry, ladies. You should be used to me by now! You can also buy it from John Lewis.
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.
Well I never realised that I’d be answering perfume problems for s fifth time, but here I am. I guess I’ve opened a can of worms. Still, as a perfume blogger, it’s clearly my job to end olfactory suffering. Call me the Florence Nightingale of fragrance foibles. By the way, did you know that Florence Nightingale wore Floris White Rose? Florence Fact.
I’m going to answer two problems today. Do join in if you have anything to add. I bow to your greater knowledge, my dear chums.
My first letter was from Dawn, who has kindly allowed me to quote from her email
Dear Aunty Sam,
I am in horrible mourning because I found out that Mugler absolutely stopped making Womanity. I tried wearing Jo Malone Wood Sage and Sea Salt but I hated it. Is there any way you can give me some fragrances to try that are as quirky as Womanity and that might actually dry down as wonderfully as Womanity did?
Thank you so much for writing to me. First of all, for full disclosure, Womanity is very much not for me. However, there is no right or wrong in perfume and if you need something, then I I want to get it for you. The two biggest notes in Womanity are caviar and fig. My suggestion is that you find a fragrance with caviar notes and layer a decent fig over the top. However, you told me that caviar scents are hard to find, and you’re right. It’s a pretty niche sort of note. If you wanted vanilla or jasmine I could write a list as long as my arm.
Looking at trusty Fragrantica, I can see that Diesel Bad For Men has a caviar note that smells “like a trickle of sweat down a man’s chiselled body”. You could try layering this with Library of Fragrance Fig or L’Artisan Parfumeur Premier Figueur, which has some of the woodiness of Womanity.
Now I’m not sure if this will work, so you may have to mix and layer until you find something you can live with. I do sympathise with you though. I am bereft at the loss of Gucci Envy ten years ago.
My other question was from the lovely Rachael, who asked a question that I once had myself until I figured it out.
Dear Aunty Sam
I’ve been wondering how to decant stuff for ages to make it more amenable to carrying around. I have a tendency to buy ‘bargain’ 50 or 100ml bottles and then don’t want to lug it everywhere with me, particularly in hot weather, when you need extra top-ups, but carry less stuff!
if you don’t mind my using unladylike language, a Travalo travel spray has a sort of cat’s bum on its bottom. You take your 100ml bottle, remove the nozzle and stick it up the bottom of your Travalo, and then you pump away until its full. No spill, no waste. Hope this helps. Once you get stuck in, you’ll find half full Travalos all over the house!
How About You?
Do you have any advice of your own to add to these dilemmas? Do you have any problems you’d like me to look into? (perfume only please, ahem.) Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
My dear Avon Lady Jill gave me a little perfume sample when she dropped off a late item yesterday. I’m used to this now- Avon launches wide and often, which is fine by me. However, when Jill said “This one’s called Imari” I stopped in my tracks. “Just a minute,” I thought, “that one’s only available in the USA.”
Dear reader, and fellow Avon fan (probably if you’re reading this) it is true. Imari is coming to the UK.
This has got me very excited because if they can bring Imari to us, then what else can they do? I have always thought that if Avon did a heritage range of old favourites, then the people in my age group, i.e. late forties (but we look younger) would snap them up before you could say Foxfire. Dare I hope for Eau Givree? For Odyssey? For Charisma? My wishes are not impossible dreams. They did after all, bring Timeless back when customer clamour deafened, and jolly good it is too.
But did you know for instance, that the USA Avon brochure has Sweet Honesty, Odyseey, Candid and Night Magic? Dare I hope we’re getting them too over here in the UK?
So what’s Imari like?
Well it opens with citrus for a clean, bright opening. There’s a nice bit of soapy aldehydes in the beginning, before this lurches into rose and patchouli territory, with some big noticeable white flower notes. It’s all rounded off with a bit of musk, incense and amber. Despite calling itself a chypre, this lacks the mossy note that qualifies it as one, but I’m not going to nit-pick, because I want more. There is a touch of vanilla in the finish, but its warm and cosy rather than sweet and cakey.
Avon has a particular talent for channelling into what’s hot on the high street and providing its own, more affordable take on current trends. What delights me about this one is that Avon is looking beyond its younger demographic. After all, they have all the vanilla and fruity florals and praline combos they could ever dream of. What joy then, to get something for me and my tribe of fellow grand dames of a certain age (but look younger). Imari was originally created in 1985, and we know how great all those fragrances were.
Avon Imari will be in the next brochure and you can queue behind me if you like. It won’t be expensive. Avon UK, if you’re reading this, please bring the others over too!
Because I’m nice and because I have more than one, I thought it only fair to run a giveaway for this fabulous fragrance. Missguided Babe Power is a juicy burst of a scent: full of cherries, vanilla and jasmine. You can read my recent review here.
Not only does it smell good, but it comes in a can like an energy drink. Don’t worry though , it’s a spray not a splash. As you can see from the photo it’s a generous 80ml bottle of eau de parfum.
How to win
The name of this scent is pretty divisive. Some like it and some don’t. So here’s the question: if you could invent your own fragrance what would you call it?
Ts and Cs
Please be aware that due to postal regualtions I cannot post fragrance outside the UK, so to avoid disappointment, please only enter if you are UK based. I’m as frustrated as you, but them’s the rules.
Send me your answer by Twitter @iscentyouaday, or Facebook or in the comments below.
The closing date is five days from now so Sunday the 11th June 2017 at midnight. I will announce the winner on Monday 12th June.
Welcome to the second post in the MoodScent4 collaboration! We are four perfume bloggers based France, Holland, England and Wales who will be posting on a different joint subject every couple of months. Each time we will individually pick a selection of five or so fragrances to fit a particular mood or occasion. You’ll find links to the other blogs at the end of the post.
We hope you have fun reading our different choices and adding your own in the comments.
Wherever you are in the world, you’re bound to have noticed that it’s wedding season: unless its currently Monsoon season where you are (i.e Wales), in which case, please read this later in the year when the sun’s out.
With a number of wedding invites thudding on mats (I’ve had three this year), we thought it only fair to help you out with an informal guide to what scent to wear if you are a wedding guest.
As a wedding guest, there are certain protocols one must stick to. For example, there’s the obvious blunder of wearing all white to a wedding, or wearing attention seeking outfits that may attract more looks than the poor bride gets. Also, as a wedding guest, this is no place for racy cleavage and skimpy skirts. If you’ve invited either of the Hadid sisters, you may want to pop a Post It note in their invitation. Call me old fashioned, but I’ve seen a bag of oranges wear more string than they had on at the Met Gala (hoiks bosom and clutches pearls).
Scent wise, the rules still apply, at least in my book. I wouldn’t wear anything loud or experimental that makes everyone look round in church for the wrong reasons. Neither would I always play it safe and stick with airy florals (although they certainly have a place).
Here then, are my own personal mainstays when I am invited to a wedding.
Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps
I wore this to the wedding I attended on Saturday. It’s a beautiful classic floral that will be familiar to many, yet in my opinion, has never been overexposed. It’s gentle, pretty, delicate and warm (dash of amber in the finish). This is one fragrance I will never allow myself to be without. Here’s my review.
4160 Tuesdays Raw Silk and Red Roses
With a name like this, this beautiful scent just cries out to be worn at a wedding, and it suits the occasion perfectly. This is my usual Go To scent for weddings but I couldn’t find it yesterday. Like Virginia Woolf, my box of minis and samples needs a Room of One’s Own. Raw Silk and Red Roses smells so deliciously of old fashioned roses, yet it has depth and facets that lift this away from any other rose scent that I have tried. You can read my review here.
Cartier Baiser Fou
I fell hard for this after not being enamoured of the original Cartier Baiser Volé. Where Baiser Volé was all about the lilies and not in a good way, Baiser Fou is the fun, more playful sister. Smelling like a cross between fresh raspberries, Milky Bars and expensive lipstick, this is perfect for a summer wedding where lipstick ends up on everyone. You can read my review here.
Andy Tauer Noontide Petals
I have yet to find anything that smells similar to this aldehyde beauty. It’s bright with citrussy lime and clean soapy aldehydes, but changes throughout the day. By the time the evening party comes around, you’ll be smelling of tuberose, jasmine, frankincense, patchouli and roses. It has the added bonus of giving you the sure knowledge that nobody else will be wearing it. Unless you are going to a wedding full of perfume peeps. You can read my review here.
Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely
This one gets lots of mentions on my blog and that’s because it’s wonderfully versatile, long-lasting, and as girly as pigtails. I adore Lovely. The florals give way to rich creamy woods and patchouli and the whole shebang lasts all day. I spray mine in my cleavage and the back of my neck and I was still catching delightful wafts at bedtime. It’s not overpowering and I guarantee it will go with your dress. For the price, this remains one of the best value fragrances I know. It’s usually around £20 a bottle and I’m wearing it today.
How about you?
What scent do you wear to weddings? Do you have a favourite or do you choose as you go? Do let us know. We’d love to hear from you.
I am chuffed to beans to have three international colleagues to collaborate with. Find out what Tara, Esperanza and Megan all had to say on the subject of wedding guest perfumes. Between us we cover Wales, England, the Netherlands and France, which makes us the last word on European fragrances. We decided.
Ironically, I have in the past complemented two strangers on smelling fabulous, only to find out it was YSL Black Opium. I guess, like stilettoes, it’s good on other people but not for me.
Recently I came across the latest Black Opium flanker, Floral Shock. Anything with Shock in the title is always worth a punt and I tried two squirts on skin, one on sleeve and one on a blotter. Reader, if I told you that the blotter is still going strong after a week, would you believe me? It is true. This stuff has nuclear longevity, which makes it a curse or a blessing depending on your preference.
Personally, I could define very few differences between Floral Shock and Black Opium. The opening of Floral Shock is lighter than the opening of Black Opium and has more florals, as the name would suggest. Both open with pear and vanilla and sweet syrupy fruit, at least to my nose. Both have strong coffee notes and thick vanilla. In fact, the main difference between Black Opium and Black Opium Floral Shock is that the top notes of Floral Shock are slightly more floral. The flowers do a little shimmy number, and then Floral Shock turns back into Black Opium again.
Apparently, Floral Shock has no patchouli in it, but I discerned plenty, or maybe I was getting confused because Black Opium has it and this is very similar. What I know for sure is that if you already own a bottle of Black Opium then you probably don’t need this one too. There’s not much to play for. In a fight it would be a draw.
This review is, of course, just my opinion and not gospel. You may be one of the strangers I stopped and said “Sorry to bother you, but you smell amazing. What is it please?” If you do wear this, you probably smell great, but trust me, on my skin this was red syrupy fruit, pears, coffee, vanilla and a little touch of migraine.
Fans of YSL Mon Paris and Dior Poison Girl may well enjoy this too.
Stockists: I found this in House of Fraser. You can also buy it from The Fragrance Shop UK among other places.
How About You?
Have you tried Black Opium or Black Opium Floral Shock? or are you a fan of the original? Or even the original original? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
I was given a bottle of this at the recent Fragrance Foundation Awards, and I’m glad I was because the packaging and general image wouldn’t have otherwise tempted me. However, a good sniff of Babe Power converted this curmudgeon into a surprise fan.
Babe Power is the first fragrance from fashion label missguided. It’s a hot on trend label for hot on trend people and this fragrance is no exception. It steps out of class and sticks two fingers up at boring old glass perfume bottles and comes in a tin can that looks and feels exactly like a can of energy drink.
I did the sniff test on my family and gleaned the following verdicts: “bubble gum” “Haribo” and the rather unimaginative response: “perfume.”
The very first thing I got from Babe Power was sour cherries. Don’t be put off by the “sour” bit. This is a sharp cherry scent, unlike a sweet sickly “normal” cherry scent. The vanilla is almost indistinguishable from the cherry note as they are so co-dependent and entwined. In fact, just for fun, there’s also apple, pineapple, grapefruit and candy floss in here. The ingredients remind me of a very colourful beach hut style kiosk. There’s flowers too: very girly ones- jasmine, peony and orange flower. The jasmine and peony just peek through, but frankly the big bright fruity notes are partying too loud to answer the door.
This may sound like a mish mash, but actually it really, really works. I love the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously whilst getting the balance right. The sour cherries had me at hello, and the slightly play doh vanilla makes me love it even more.
I would like to predict that this will be a big success, but before I could even review this, it has become a huge bestseller in The Fragrance Shop. I wouldn’t sound very mystic and prophetic when this is already flying off the shelves so fast that passers-by have to duck.
Bravo missguided. Encore!
Missguided Babe Power is available from The Fragrance Shop for 27.50 for 80ml EDP. Opinions are my own.
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.