Category Archives: Woody scents

Thierry Mugler Aura: The Mugler I’ve Been Waiting For

aura ad

A new Mugler female fragrance is big news in perfume land. There have been flankers a plenty, but only three big ones since gamechanger Angel barged in and took over beauty counters in 1992: Alien, Womanity and this one: Aura.

It was in 1995 that I first tried Angel in the Harrods Perfume Hall, which seemed such a good place to try a Mugler for the first time that I did it again on Saturday.  I managed to sweet talk the lovely Sales Assistant in the Harrods Perfume Hall into not one but two samples of Aura.   Also, it provided brief respite from supercar spotting with my son in Knightsbridge.

aura bottle parfumo net
Photo by profumo.net

Aura has two brand new ingredients that were invented to fox bloggers and perhaps to ensure a lack of imitation.  When you think of how many big patchouli gourmands Angel inspired, it’s hard not to expect the same here.  However, Aura is not so easy to describe.

It opens with rhubarb and orange flowers.  I love rhubarb in fragrance.  If you have ever smelled Jour D’Hermes or Aedes de Venustas original then you will know how fabulous it can be.  It has a kind of  vegetal autumnal fruitiness that is perfect alongside the other ingredients in Aura.  The orange flower is to my nose, very girly and has facets of clean white soap alongside its typical white-flower headiness.

Photo by Mugler.Fr
Photo by Mugler.Fr

The two secret ingredients are Wolfwood from Firmenech (The flavour and fragrance  brand) and Tiger Liana, which  is totally going to be my stripper name if times get tough.

Tiger Liana alleges to be a smoky sugared almond note, but it’s hard to pick out a note I’m only guessing at, so in all honesty, I can’t tell you if it’s there or if my brain is putting it there .  I can pick out some wonderful dry, smoky woods, but I don’t know if its Wolfwood or just dry, smoky woods. In any case, the woody notes are there alongside the big. big orange flower, which I found to one of the most prominent notes in Aura.

photo from Fragrantica
photo from Fragrantica

The strongest overall impression Aura gave me was one of huge, juicy leaves in a rainforest with added gourmand and floral facets that frame  this green scent for the modern palate.   Aura has a wonderful “wetness” note to it that smells as leafy as the bottle is green.

As for the vanilla bourbon, well I didn’t really notice that until the end of the day when the leafy footprints  had faded and left only a rich vanilla liqueur in its place.   Longevity, by the way, is excellent.  I wore two sprays from morning until night.

Of all the Muglers, this is my favourite.   I don’t think it will be the game changer Angel was, but I think it’s one of the most palatable of the Muglers and the turned-down volume of it will be a crowd pleaser.   As for the  chiselled green jewel of a bottle -it is a huge divine emerald, which, if it were real, would be unapologetically vulgar and would look great on my third finger.

aura 9

My verdict? This is my favourite Mugler, but not the best. The best one is Angel, but that’s not my favourite.

Further reading: Thomas Dunckley, aka The Candy Perfume Boy, is for me, the last word on Mugler.  Here’s his review of Aura, which, and I’m not just saying this, is better than mine.  Please don’t enter it in the Jasmine Awards Thomas. I’d like an outside chance next year.

Stockists

This launches on June 30th and will be widely available. You can currently pre order it from The Fragrance Shop UK.   You should be able to find it post launch  from John Lewis and Escentual to name but two.  The bottle is refillable, which I totally applaud in this wasteful day and age.

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The Perfume Society Latest Launches Discovery Box: What’s in it?

latest launches

As you may have realised, I’m a sucker for a Discovery Box. I can’t get enough of them. When the Perfume Society launched a year after I started blogging about perfume, it was a match made in heaven.  This is not a sponsored post by the way, I’m just a bona fide fangirl with nothing but a dream in my pocket, a cup of tea on my desk and eleventy billion perfume samples.

ll cards

The Latest Launches Box does what it says on the tin (box) and serves as a great way of getting your hands on samples that would be nigh on impossible to get hold of any other way.  I don’t know about you but I find that perfume counter sales assistants demand nothing less than dinner and cocktails before they’ll hand over a sample these days.  Even the Avon brochure charges 75p now.   And don’t get me started on the price of butter.

delina

So what’s in this lovely box of delights? Well, ~I’ll give you a list but I also give you a little tour via the medium of home movies. Not those sort of home movies, the nice sort.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my face in the shot to make it like a proper Zoella thingy but it was hot and I didn’t want to put make up on.  I know you’ll understand my dear chums.

What’s in it?

Parfums de Marly Delina 1.2ml eau de parfum. I haven’t heard of this line before, so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and reporting back.

tenue

Annick Goutal Tenue de Soirée 0.8ml eau de parfum.: Another brand that never lets me down.  I can’t stop sniffing this wonderful patchouli iris. It really stands out from recent scents that I’ve tried. Gorgeous.

 

Miller Harris Lumière Dorée 7.5ml eau de parfum in the same bolumierex as Miller Harris Ètui Noir 7.5ml eau de parfum. They can be worn alone or layered together. I wasn’t massively keen on Lumiere Doree but when you layer Etui Noir over the top, it’s a real game changer.  Etui Noir is more masculine and leathery and really sets off Lumiere Doree.

E Coudray Rose Tubéreuse10ml Natural Spray.  I adore E Coudray. They always provide very high-quality scents and this is no exception. I crose tubereusean’t say I love this one as much as I love E Coudray Iris Rose. In fact, this one reminded me more of Miller Harris Noix de Tubereuse, so if you like that you’ll probably like this too.

Shay & Blue Dandelion Fig 2ml Natural Spray. Our trusty friends at Shay & Blue London can be relied upon to dandelion figturn out a high-quality scent that uses interesting combinations of notes such as Amber Rose or the amazing Blueberry Musk.  I also recommend English Cherry Blossom and Blood Oranges. Dandelion Fig is a wonderfully earthy scent that I can’t wait to review, so watch this space.

abercrombie

 Abercrombie & Fitch First Instinct For Women 2ml eau de parfum- Initial thoughts: this is a fruity floral, but I will come back and add more details. It’s a hot day so I can only smell so many at a time. I bet you know the feeling. First impressions: loving the magnolia and grapefruit combo.

royal pink diamondYardley London Royal Pink Diamond 1ml eau de toilette. A prettier and fruitier version of the original Yardley Royal Diamond.  This combines peaches, pears and oranges with peony and roses, rounding off with a very pretty musk note.

emblemMontblanc Lady Emblem Elixir 2ml eau de parfum. A pretty enough fruity floral with the emphasis on the fruity (lychee and mandarin with muscles). A vanilla base makes this smell fairly generic to me, but strangely, I’d still buy it. It reminds me of another scent but I’m blowed if I can remember the name. It’ll come to me.  Probably at 4 am,

lav

Weleda Lavender Relaxing Body Oil 10ml. A dab here, a dab there- on your temples, on your wrists, few drops in the bath. You can’t beat lavender on a hot day.

The Very Nature Amethyst Rush– I currently have this scented sachet hanging from my desk as I write and it scents everything I do, which is most welcome in this horrible sticky heatwave. It smells like beautiful talc.

 

And last but not least, here’s me with a little tour and commentary of the box itself.

Stockists

The Perfume Society Latest Launches Discovery Box is just 17.50 from The Perfume Society. If you sign up as a VIP member, you get £5 off this and a discount on all other boxes, access to The Scented Letter fragrance magazine, and exclusive invites to events and launches- and not just in London ( see my Bristol write up).  Boxes can be bought on an ad hoc basis so there’s no 12-month obligation or anything.   My box was given to me by The Perfume Society , for which many thanks.   Opinions are my own.

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4160 Tuesdays: Doe in the Snow

doe

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.

Deer_eats_snow_(6565982483)

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.

peach sorbet
stemilt.com

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.

HouseofTreats.com
HouseofTreats.com

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.

Stockists

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.

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bbc snowflakes

Ruth Mastenbroek Oxford: Students, Spires and Smoke

rmf_oxford_50ml_edp_web

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.

photo of naked man on the banks of the River Thames, Oxford by Paddy Summerfield
photo of naked man on the banks of the River Thames, Oxford by Paddy Summerfield

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.

RM-im_3
Ruth Mastenbroek

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.

About Ruth

Ruth and her new friend Sam.
Ruth and her new friend Sam.

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.

Complete the trilogy

I have previously reviewed Ruth’s RM Signature fragrance, and the wonderful Amorosa. Today I am competing my trilogy.

From the Times Educational Supplement
From the Times Educational Supplement

Stockists

RM Oxford is available from the Ruth Mastenbroek website and from Fenwick and Rouiller White.

Disclaimer

My sample was kindly provided by Ruth, for which, many thanks. Opinions are my own and this is not a sponsored post. In fact, I’ve never written a sponsored post!

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Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium

pelargonium

Have you ever smelled a perfume that’s so good it makes you want to write a love song about how much you love it?  A scent that shoots you in the heart like cupid?  A scent that makes the need to own it feel more powerful than lust?

Welcome to Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium.

A pelargonium is a member of the geranium family and has bright velvety petals as vivid as a flame. This flower is more or less the main star in this fragrance, but the supporting cast makes this unforgettably wonderful.

It opens with clary sage and lime. The herby clary sage note complements the peppery petals of the pelargonium until it gives me a vivid image of an English country garden on a cool damp day.  The herby floral accord makes me think of very expensive soap- the kind that makes your bathroom smell like an unaffordable hotel suite. The musk is an almost iris-like musk with its muted, classy subtlety,  yet it is unmistakable and lingers on long after the citrus opening has bloomed and faded.

photo by www. gardensonline.com.au
photo by www. gardensonline.com.au

There is allegedly a carrot note in here somewhere, but unless I’m mistaking one root for another, it comes across as more iris like, which as you know, can smell earthy and rooty.

The base is guaiac wood, vetiver and moss, giving enhancement to the earthiness that peeks out in the middle phase. The oakmoss adds a touch of damp greens, which only makes me fall for it harder. I’ve always found geraniums to smell faintly medicinal, and this facet is showcased with touches of elemi, often used in cough syrup and medicines.  Don’t let this put you off, there’s no TCP note here, more of a clove/violet thing going on.

The Aedes de Venustas range at Shy Mimosa perfumery, Bristol
The Aedes de Venustas range at Shy Mimosa perfumery, Bristol

This is primarily a floral, but it’s as if each facet of the pelargonium scent has been given a partner to showcase its talents and double its impact.  Perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer is a genius and I will be her fan forever.

This is the fragrance I will buy for myself when I get that novel published (and I will).

Stockists

Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium is available from Selfridges at £210. My novel will have to be a bestseller I guess.   My sample was a kind gift from  Aspects beauty PR, for which, many thanks.  Opinions are my own.

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MoodScent 4: Wedding Guest Fragrances- How to Pick the Perfect Scent

Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale The Uninvited Guest
Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale The Uninvited Guest

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.  

moodscent4 turquoise

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.

beautiful

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).

Don't wear this, unless the bride is wearing less than you.
Don’t wear this, unless the bride is wearing less than you.

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.

 

 

lair du temps ad

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. 

raw silk wedding

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.

baiser fou bottle

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.

noontide petals

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.

lovely

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.

Me with my two sons at a wedding two days ago.
Me with my two sons at a wedding two days ago.

Further Reading

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.

A Bottled Rose

L’Esperessence

Meganinsaintemaxime

moodscent4 turquoise

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Elizabeth Arden Provocative Woman EDP

provocative ad

I’ve been circling this one for a while and wondering how to review it. It sort of does and doesn’t fit into a neat category.  It’s sort of a fruity floral and a spicy woody scent.  It’s sort of provocative but you could wear it to work without inadvertently turning anyone on.   In other words,  it has cast its net very wide.

Created in 2004, the Elizabeth Arden Provocative Woman campaign was fronted by my fellow Welshwoman Catherine Zeta Jones.  We also happen to be the same age, but the similarity ends there.  We won’t get confused as twins anytime soon.

provocative woman bottle

Provocative Woman opens with quince, raspberry, peach, ginger and lotus.  The middle notes are apricot, freesia, papaya and orchid.  The basenotes are hinoki wood, amber, red amber, sandalwood and cedar.

So you can see my problem.  All the fruit from the fruit salad is in here, but with added spice and heat from the ginger and a warm woody finish.  It’s hard to pick out the individual notes. It’s sort of a fruit Pimms accord with a touch of chai tea . There’s a lovely clean whiff of freshly washed hair in among the jelly but the flowers struggle to come to the fore.

provo box

All in all, I can’t help liking this crowd pleasing effort, even if it is a little bit of a mish mash.  I didn’t used to be a fan of fruity florals but I smelled so many different ones that I was won over, and this one has won me over too.

I think the youth market is missing a trick with this fruity number and may well rule it out as being a “Mum” perfume.  In fact, the fruitiness is fun and light and even playful.   The woods don’t get too dark or deep and the faint, faint flowers offer a little flourish of girliness.  I wouldn’t call this provocative,  but it’s certainly womanly.  It’s also a massive bargain. My bottle is a 30ml EDP and lasting power is not bad at around four hours.

Stockists

Elizabeth Arden Provocative Woman is widley available. Try  Amazon UK and Half Price Perfumes to name but two.  Opinions are my own, as is this bottle.

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I Scent You a Night: The Fragrance Foundation UK Awards 2017

Ruby, you are not coming.

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.

sam frock

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.

photo by kind permission of Sarah McCartney
photo by kind permission of Sarah McCartney

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.

selfie with stephan and persolaise
L-R, Stephan Matthews, Me, Persolaise.

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.

clive christian colour
Not a bribe- I returned it post-review, like a good egg.

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.

sam and marina
Double FiFi Winner, beautiful and talented Marina Barcenilla.

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.

From Woman and Home magazine
From Woman and Home magazine

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.

jr-tuberose

 

How I Improved My Sense of Smell with The Perfume Society

sam smile

Some blog posts are very hard to write because I’m so afraid I won’t do them justice. This is one of them.  I was on such a high after coming back from the Perfume Society Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshop that I was neither use nor ornament for about 48 hours.

lucky scarf
If ever a scarf were the right scarf for an occasion, it was my perfume scarf. It smells good too!

First of all, The Perfume Society is three years old and is the only body of its type in the world.  They know this because they googled to find a perfume society before realising there wasn’t one. The Perfume Society is the brainchild of legendary beauty editor and writer Jo Fairley and her business partner Lorna McKay.  I have been reading Jo’s work since around 2000 ish,  before blogging was invented and  back when I was a One Scent woman.   10299686_1560529210840279_596234111_a

The workshops are not just exclusive to London, so it really is worth subscribing to The Perfume Society, if only to get access to The Scented Letter and Discovery Box discounts.  The workshop I attended was in the basement of The New Moon Tapas Bar in Clifton.

It was a wonderfully informative, but informal session that made me feel like I was BFFs with everyone around the table, and not just my real life BFF Lisa, who was also there.  Jo is an engaging speaker and delivers the workshop in an accessible and inclusive way that felt like a chat with a friend except with far more “Wow! I never knew that” moments.

You may think that having written 817 blog posts about perfume that I might know a lot.  Well I know about  1% of what I actually want and need to know.   However, you very much do NOT have to be a blogger in order to attend.   For one thing, the amount of experience and knowledge you need to attend the workshop is ZERO.  No experience required.

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My perfect afternoon. Jo Fairley took this so is sadly not in it. Photo courtesy of The Perfume Society.

So, what happens? Well, we were made comfortable with  refreshments and introduced ourselves, which wasn’t cringy like work training, but friendly like meeting your tribe. There were six of us altogether and it was especially lovely to meet Claire, who I have been following on Instagram and talking to on the perfume group Eau my Soul.

Jo explained that part of the mission of The Perfume Society is to put us back in touch with our sense of smell, referred to by Helen Keller as “The Fallen Angel of the Senses” and she was right.   Back when we were cavewomen, we could sniff out herbs, non-toxic berries and woolly mammoths, but now our sense of smell has been blunted by modern conveniences.

The workshop goes about starting us on the path to putting this right.  We did some very interesting sniffing, giving our impressions in an atmosphere in which there was no right or wrong.  There was also a very interesting exercise in which we tried minty Green and Black’s chocolate to see if it was smell or taste that gave us the minty hit.  The answer really surprised me.  Plus, you know, Green and Blacks. *swoon* (something else we have Jo to thank for).

The third section was the bring a bottle party.  Some of it was 80% proof. Yes, I’m talking fragrance.  Prior to attending, we were asked to bring a bottle of our favourite scent.  I had to be very strict with myself and put the wheelbarrow back before leaving the house with just one: Art de Parfum Gin &Tonic.

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Recognise any favourites?

My adorable colleagues, as I now thought of them,  brought a few each, so we had great fun diving on the stuff we hadn’t smelled yet and sharing opinions. On top of that we were given goody bags to take home. Reader, this was better than my birthday.

As if that wasn’t enough fun, we then got the chance to buy Discovery Boxes and the gorgeous Perfume Society Scented Skincare set at big discounts.  As if that wasn’t enough, we then go to visit a brand-new niche perfumery called Shy Mimosa, which I will write about separately, and where we also had a big discount.

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The tempting shelves at Shy Mimosa

So, was it worth it going?  Did I improve my sense of smell? Yes, and yes and it was wonderful and I had several OMG moments where I made surprising discoveries and oh, my stars, what a day!

If you ever get the chance to attend one, go.  Just go.  They’re not just in London and you don’t need to know anything beforehand. If there’s not one near you, then email The Perfume Society and tell them.   They will listen.  Unless you live alone on a remote island that can only be reached by catamaran at high tide.  Apart from that, if enough people clamour, then you never know…

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Exploring a New Perfume House: Gallivant London

london gallivant

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.

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Me outside an NCP car park in Soho prior to gallivanting around posh Knightsbridge. A city of contrasts.

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.

Gallivant London

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.

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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.

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Poodle Guard Dog by Banksy, from visitlondon.com

Stockists

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.