Category Archives: Woody scents

Mood Scent 4: Uplifting Fragrances

Welcome to MoodScent 4! Throughout the year, myself and my three Moodscent colleagues write a post on the same fragrant theme. There’s me, (Sam) in Wales, Tara in London, Esperanza in The Netherlands and last but not least, the ring leader and our inspiration, Megan in St Maxime.

You may have read our earlier posts about what scent we would wear as a wedding guests, or what our favourite mainstream fragrances are, or even our rainy day favourites.  Today, we are all  looking at uplifting fragrances.  You know  how certain scents can just make you happy even when your day is going wrong? Those.

It was quite hard to choose only five since I could bang on about perfume until  we all grow beards and get wrinkly, but I managed to whittle my choice down to five that never fail to lift my spirits.

Writing about how scent can lift my mood is obviously going to be subjective. There’s no right or wrong in perfume. One woman’s Tweed is another woman’s Poison, so I don’t expect your list to be the same as mine.  Do let me know what you’d choose though.  I always love to hear from you.

Photo by Thomas Dunckley for Papillon Perfumery

Papillon Perfume Dryad

I have a full bottle of this holy grail mossy green chypre made by the wonderful Liz Moores from Papillon Artisan Perfumery.  It smells as if it were made in the late 40s or 50s and as if it were a vintage chypre in perfect condition, but with pagan edges.  The effect it

Me making the other mums jealous with my smell.

has on me is transformative.  I can be dolefully embarking on the school run, in the drizzle, in my mac and my boots and jeans, but once I catch wafts of Dryad, I walk taller and feel like one of Dior’s New Look model, with hats and gloves, sashaying down a Paris rue, smelling of vintage style oakmoss and narcissus.  I leave the house as a red-faced Mum, rushing and jangling keys, and I strut home as Barbara Mullen. Now that’s what I call a mood elevator.

Chanel Cristalle

We’ve been through a lot Cristalle and me. We were together for twenty years and this beautiful citrussy green chypre ( can you see a pattern yet?) saw me though my single days, my sad days, the day I got sacked, the days I got jobs, the day I got dumped, the day I got chatted up, and later still, the day I got married. We’ve sort of parted company now but that scent brings back a rush of memories like a fast-moving montage of film clips, full of scenes I’d forgotten about. Beautiful Cristalle, we’ll always have Paris. And London. And Berlin. And Pontnewydd.

Eau de Cartier

Eau de Cartier makes me feel like I need to wear full length white nightie and float about the house feeling all pure and ethereal. It has the perfect symphony of lavender, violet and bergamot and smells as pure as a snowflake. The nose behind it is Christine Nagel, and I label her a genius for this. Incidentally, if you’re looking for the perfect cure-all hangover scent, this is also good for that too.

Miller Harris Le Pamplemousse

There’s something happy and feel good about grapefruit. I seek it out in fragrances, and in all my fragrant adventures, I’ve yet to find a better grapefruit scent than Miller Harris Le Pamplemousse. Tragically discontinued (“Whyyyy?” I sob on my knees) you can still find this online before it runs out. Miller Harris like their customers so they might bring it back if there’s enough demand. Maybe I should start one of those petition things? Le Pamplemousse is full of petitgrain and herbs and oakmoss, so it’s pretty much everything I love in a bottle.

Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium

Last but not least is this floral beauty from New York firm Aedes de Venustas.  The fiorst time I smelled this, I loved it so much I got emotional.  That doesn’t happen all the time in this game, believe me. Pelargonium knocked me sideways (in a good way). With its velvety petals, soapy iris musks and mossy drydown, this is a floral that peaks into richness in a way that made me fall in love and greed with it.  It’s not cheap, but it will be mine one day. Oh yes. It will be mine.

Check out my fellow moodscent colleagues here. I’m excited to read them myself as we never know what the others are posting until we all go live.:

L’ Esperessence

A Bottled Rose

MeganinSainteMaxime

Over to you

What’s on your list? What are your go-to feel good fragrances? I’d love to know. Join the discussion. xx

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A Green for All Seasons: Bronnley Wild Green

It may be Autumn, and the leaves may be on the turn, but my passion for fragrances with green notes stays with me all year round.

Bronnley Wild Green fits the bill for every season of the year and wearing it today brings a bit of nature into the stuffy central heated indoors like an invigorating open window.

Wild Green opens with bergamot, orange flower and patchouli. This green floral symphony gathers uplifting, spicy facets on its journey: namely aromatic cardoman and coriander (the spice not the leaf). It claims to have pink pepper, which makes me pull faces, but actually I could find no trace of it here. This is a clean, spicy green that fits perfectly with this transitional time of year.  The green is an evergreen that never wavers, yet the spice suggests that cosier times are beckoning. There’s a touch of smoky incense, but just a touch, just enough to say bonfire night is over a month away.

Having said all that, there’s nothing to stop us wearing this all year round. Wild Green suits Spring and Summer and the spices really come into their own in Autumn and Winter.

Although this is aimed at women, it makes a brilliant unisex fragrance, and is definitely a firm favourite with me. I am quite devoted to my little purse sized rollerball.

Stockists

Bronnley Wild Green is available from the Bronnley website or from Boots and online  from allbeauty.com. My rollerball was kindly sent to me by Bronnley in return for an honest review, which this is. This is not a sponsored post.

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My Top Ten Autumn Fragrances 2017

Photo of the Forest of Dean Gloucestershire, taken by me.

It’s with reluctance that I put away my eau fraiche bottles and my sandals and my sunglasses. They didn’t get used much this “summer”, which I believe fell on a Tuesday here in Wales.

Being pale and slightly on the gingery side, I far prefer the cool weather to the hot, so I’m very comfortable in Autumn and the colours of the changing trees have me in raptures.

Photo of my home town Cwmbran, taken by me

When it comes to choosing Autumn fragrance, I don’t just like to go for the warm spices, I like to go for the aldehydes, deep vanillas and the chypres too.  I love the fact that the cold air brings out the best in some fragrances that might just be a bit much in the heat.  In fact, I thought it was high time I did a list of the fragrances I like best in Autumn.

My list below is in no particular order because putting them in order of preference would be impossible. I would happily go through gallons of all ten of these and would find it impossible to choose a favourite.

4160 Tuesdays Eau My Soul

My most recent review and a real treat.  This is the first ever truly democratic fragrance with each note being voted for by members of Facebook group Eau My Soul and used in accordance with its popularity.  It does help of course if the person making it is genius perfumer Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays. This is a sandalwood, incense-y, citrussy, floral delight.  But don’t take my word for it. Order your Sample now.

Photo by Thomas Dunckley for Papillon Perfumery

 Papillon Dryad

Papillon Dryad is the creation of the uber talented Liz Moores and was born in the heart of New Forest among trees. It is THE mossy green chypre I have been searching for. You may think a scent as green as this belongs in spring, but trust me when I tell you chypres are sensational in cool weather. You can buy Papillon Dryad from here and read my review here.

 

Le Jardin Retrouvé Cuir Russie

Le Jardin Retrouvé is a wonderful brand with a touching backstory. The perfumer Yuri Gutsatz sadly passed away in 2005, having created a collection of wonderful niche fragrances.  His son Michel has revided the brand and carried the family torch into the Twenteens and thank goodness he did. Although I had smelled and enjoyed a sample of Cuir Russie, it wasn’t until I entered a room in which  perfume writer Stephan Matthews was wearing it that I realised how many nuances this beautiful leather scent has. All the fragrances in the collection are excellent and the dreamy ethereal artwork by artist Clara Feder adds a unique whimsy and beauty. You can buy it from here and read my review of the whole collection here.

First by Van Cleef and Arpels

First is the nearest thing I have to a signature scent. It’s a long-lasting floral aldehyde created in 1977 that unfurls its notes in layerss as you wear it.  I’m completely smitten and have nearly emptied my 60ml EDP bottle. Can’t live without this one. You can read my review here and buy it from here. 

Firedance by Ruth Mastenbroek

You may recall my recent review of perfumer Ruth Mastenbroek’s fourth fragrance, Firedance. With big notes of rose, leather and oud, Firedance is a beautifully blended Damask rose scent that has incredible longevity and is perfect for Autumn.  Wearing these feels both cosy and celebratory,  like being wrapped in a warm blanket whilst fireworks go off.  I love it. You can buy it from here.

SJP Stash

Sarah Jessica Parker is the range I point people towards if they ever tell me they don’t “do” celebrity scents. With the enthusiasm of a true fume head, SJP knows her perfume like Carrie Bradshaw knew shoes. Stash is a unisex, woody, sandalwood, incense fragrance that is mature and audacious. You can buy it from Superdrug. 

DSH Chinchilla

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has this knack of creating modern perfume that make you think you have just prized the lid off an unopened chypre from 1920. How she gets them to smell vintage is beyond me, but she does it beautifully. Chinchilla evokes fur stoles, glamour, cigarette holders, and opera gloves. It is a superb example of a classic chypre. You can buy DSH fragrances from the website here and read my review of Chinchilla here.

Marina Barcenilla India

The multi-talented Marina Barcenilla is a gifted natural perfumer who has won not one, but two coveted Fragrance Foundation Awards (or Fifis).  India has sandalwood and tuberose and roses all in one stunning Autumnal scent that radiates from skin and gives a good eleven hours longevity.  I also have the rollerball skin oil, which also makes your skin smell incredible, as well as leaving it silky soft. You can buy MB Parfums from the website here and read my review of India here.

Tauerville Amber Flash

The  delightful Andy Tauer has branched out into a wider reaching and more affordable range of fragrances under the umbrella name of the Tauerville Flash series.  Not that his usual scents are overpriced- they’re worth every penny.  I loved Amber Flash and reviewed it here. It is as it sounds, but so much more too. It gives off a cosy warmth and a heat that is just perfect in cold weather (and of course, unisex). You can buyTauerville scents here.

 

Aftelier Amber Tapestry

Somewhere in Berkeley California, Mandy Aftel mixes and measures until her natural fragrances are just right.  Amber Tapestry is the perfect name for this.  The fragrance opens with orange flower and gets warmer and more resinous as it unfurls its layers on your skin. Ending with a long lasting base of resinous, leathery vanilla, Amber Tapestry is just what I want to wrap myself in when its dark outside. You can buy Amber Tapestry from Aftelier.com and read my review here.

Over to you

How about you? What do you reach for in Autumn? ambers? vanilla? chypres? or something completely unexpected? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

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A Flanker with a Difference: Lancôme La Vie est Belle L’Eclat EDP

Lancôme La Vie est Belle needs no introduction. Since its launch in 2013, its success has gone orbital, leaving trails of imitators quivering in its wake.  Its army of flankers shows no sign of slowing the pace either.  Until now, they have all escaped my radar, but the one I tried today stopped me in my tracks.  Yes, I nearly walked past it, thinking “Really Lancôme? Another one?” but  once I sprayed the gorgeous bottle, this grumpy cynic  was silenced.

Let’s start with the irresistibly touchy feely faceted glass bottle. It’s impossible not to run your fingers over it.  It’s a delight to fiddle about with and it looks good too.  Apart from that, the display in Boots looked the same as the usual LVEB displays. But what’s this? I thought at first spray. This is pretty good.

The original La Vie est Belle

LVEB L’Eclat immediately reminded me of something  I’d smelled before and I couldn’t put my finger on it until about twenty minutes later. It was then that I realised that it reminded me of Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial. Indeed, it has more in common with Parfum Initial than it does with La Vie est Belle.

The opening note is bergamot which immediately clings to the pretty orange blossom and “white flowers.” Fragrantica doesn’t elaborate but I’m calling jasmine.  I couldn’t pick out any tuberose, but the orange blossom is definitely in there.

from Lancome UK

Now, around this point, I was waiting for the heavy praline fountain to drown out the pretty notes like a Nutella Tsunami. Although this is what I like least about  the original LVEB, it seems to be the bit that many fans like best.  However, the praline never came.  Instead, I was rewarded with a base of rather delicate sandalwood and a silky flourish of buttery vanilla. There’s no praline. There’s no patchouli. There’s just citrus, white flowers, and subtle vanilla.

Fragrantica

The vanilla, it must be said, is delicious. It has heart and warmth with none of the vibe of an overfull bowl of sickly frosting that it can sometimes have. It ends on vanilla and stays with vanilla, which does make it more gourmand than floral, but La Vie est Belle L’Éclat has restraint.  I probably wouldn’t buy a full bottle, but it’s the LVEB flanker that I thus far like best. Bravo and 10/10 for the divine bottle.

Stockists

You can buy Lancôme La Vie est Belle L’Eclat EDP from Boots UK, and from the Lancome UK and Lancome USA websites.

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Three Things I Love About Bronnley Zealous Flower

In the past, Bronnley has had a reputation as being a classic floral brand that “older” ladies liked.  Personally, I’ve always loved classic florals and soaps in wrappers so it’s never stopped me.  However,  the upcoming bright young things of the Twenteens are a capricious bunch with more choices than any other generation that has ever lived.  Brands have to move with the times.

Bronnley has not only moved with the times but added a bit of an edge that is putting them firmly on my list of favourites. Their collection of Eclectic Elements fragrances is packaged for a new generation, but pleases this 47 year old no end.

Today I am wearing Bronnley Eclectic Elements Zealous Flower and I love it. Why do I love it? Well, that’s easy.

  1. It comes in an adorable roll on bottle. (more about roller balls soon because I’m obsessed).
  2. It’s available in a 9ml version so you can live with it for a good few weeks before buying a big one.
  3. It’s inexpensive but doesn’t smell like it is.

Here’s what it smells like:

It opens with pear, orange and bergamot. Now pear has been used A LOT in the past two years, to the point where I pull non-selfie faces when I smell it.

However, in Zealous Flower, it’s the flowers that come out first, not the fruit.  In fact the fruit adds clean edges to the roses and jasmine, which are BIG.  Even the pear knows its place and doesn’t take over.

It must be said that there was briefly a pencil shavings phase which came and went, before the vetiver and amber rounded things off. They never quite see off the jasmine though, which remains the main player here. In fact, at first, I thought this had tuberose in it, such is the white flower richness.

Zealous Flower leaves me with a pleasing autumnal floral on my skin. What I’m left with is a very agreeable accord of vetiver, jasmine, hints of leathery labdanum flower, and some faded roses.

Now, about that adorable roller ball. This has a little metal rollerball that applies just the right amount to skin and stops you going overboard before a day at work. The rollerball version comes in an attractive narrow box in 9ml size and is a good compromise between a big bottle blind buy and having to judge it on a few sprays from a tester. I want more brands to do this.

Zealous Flower is or has also been known as Savage Flower, but I prefer Zealous to Savage.

Stockists

You can buy the Bronnley Eclectic Elements range from Boots in store or online.  The rollerballs cost £10 and contain 9ml of scent.  You can also buy this cute set of whole range minis for £20 from the Bronnley website. My rollerball bottle was kindly provided by Bronnley in return for an honest review, which mine is. This is not a sponsored post. 
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Yves Rocher Oui a L’Amour: I say OUI

Yves Rocher is a trusty brand that’s been going strong since 1959. Although there are no branches in the UK, they have a good UK mail order service and send you freebies and extras every time you order. I just ordered 6 x 20ml bottles of fragrances that I will be reviewing soon, but as a bonus, I was also sent a 10ml bottle of latest launch Oui a L’Amour.  This may have been a freebie, or it may have been a blogger perk. I’m not sure. Not to worry. Free perfume is never turned away!

Oui a L’Amour is a simple affair.  It opens with herby Angelica.  If I said this was a herby sort of rose scent you might expect something botanical and green, but actually the Angelica is plump and juicy like a cactus.  It’s neither sweet nor sharp but somewhere in the middle. In fact, when I first smelled this I wanted to call it a fruity floral even though I could see that it wasn’t.

After the Angelica comes the rose and it’s very prominent and beautiful with clean, powdery facets.  After that comes tonka bean (kind of like nutty dried grass) which I mistook for vanilla, and not for the first time. There’s cedar in the base, which comes across as slightly tangy and almost citrussy.

Tie all that together and what have we got? A very clean rose fragrance with touches of juicy garden leaves and a sharp woody finish.

It smells clean and light and very feminine. It’s perfect for work and passes the commuter and the office test with flying colours.

There’s no sickly syrup, no big, rich jasmine overtaking anything,, and none of the usual rent-a-scent suspects that I have come across so often lately.

I say oui to Oui a L’Amour.

Stockists

You can buy Oui a L’Amour from Yves Rocher UK, Yves Rocher.Fr   Extra thumbs up for selling affordable 10ml purse sprays. Opinions are my own.

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Firedance: The New Fragrance from Ruth Mastenbroek 2017

Rejoicing in each moment of contentment in life. In Firedance, Ruth presents a scorching, modern interpretation of the classic rose perfume, as exotic leather dances in surprise harmony with the main character – smouldering Damask rose. Set against a warming backdrop of oudh and patchouli, a shining amber note radiates from the skin in this memorably intimate and sexy perfume.

Today is the day that Ruth Mastenbroek launches the fourth fragrance in her collection: Firedance.  Ruth is an experienced nose who has worked behind the scenes in the industry for fourdecades before going solo in 2010 with her first scent, aptly named RM Signature.  You can read my review here. After that came the wonderful Amorosa, followed by Oxford. Now the trio becomes a quartet, with the arrival of Firedance.  Ruth has also redesigned the brand to reflect that every drop tells a story and using a palette of black and gold, these new designs reminded me of the original illustrations to Grimm’s fairytales ( see pic and you’ll know what I mean).

So was Firedance worth the wait and is it a worthy member of this scented quartet? Absolutely. Here’s why.

Now, first of all, this is a rose/oud/leather fragrance. We all know that rose and oud and rose and leather have been done before, but dear reader, not like this.  The leather and oud is there, of course, but the first thing I noticed about Firedance was the rich, dusky Damask rose and then, would you believe it? Carnations.  In the same way that Serge Lutens Vitriol D’oeillet made me sit up and take notice, Firedance stopped me in my tracks.   A drop of clove oil is the culprit, and whilst it doesn’t dominate, it adds a wonderful peppery spicy addition to proceedings.

This is me with my treasured bottle from Ruth.

I composed Firedance to capture those special moments that make me appreciate what I have.- Ruth Mastenbroek

For full disclosure, I’m not really a big oud fan (there, I’ve said it), but the oud here smells different. It doesn’t take over but still makes a contribution.  In fact, it adds a kind of fruity earthy accord that makes the rose more robust. It seems to blend seamlessly with the amber to make a sort of amber-oud or oud-amber. The amber takes the edges off it.

To me, it adds layers and makes this a sort of 4D rose, with petals that have crisped through age, like dusty pot pourri, whilst still having plump satiny petals in the centre. My nose also picked up little facets of powder, which always makes me think of a 1950s dressing table. I often find this with rose, whether the powdery note is deliberate or not.

Ruth Mastenbroek. Photo from Twitter

There is a  measured heat and an autumnal feel to Firedance, which makes this a very appropriate launch for the first day of Autumn.  This is rose with warmth, earthiness, spice and the kind of longevity that lingers on your pillow when you wake up the next day.  It’s not cheap, but it is very good value.   Ruth makes it herself. There’s no committee, no big factory, no billboard marketing. You’re paying for the ingredients and the expertise of a perfumer with  four decades of skill and experience.

Firedance is a stand out earthy, dusty rose that’s not quite on the turn, not quite over. This is the perfect farewell to summer and a warm scented blanket for the colder days ahead.

Stockists

Ruth Mastenbroek Firedance is available from the website and from Fenwick’s, where Ruth will be giving a talk on 14th September. Check out The Perfume Society website for details. My bottle was given to me by Ruth Mastenbroek in return for an honest review, for which, my warmest thanks. Opinions are my own.

 

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Parfums de Marly Delina: This Extravagant Beauty

The thing I love about discovery boxes is that they put brands under your nose that would otherwise have been off your radar. This was the story with Parfums de Marly Delina- a brand and a scent I had never even heard of. I found this sample in the Perfume Society Latest Launches Discovery Box.

Parfums de Marly was established in France in 2009 and Delina is its most recent launch.  There is a group of noses (can we please think of a word to describe a group of noses?) who work together and alone on the fragrance collection.  Delina was created by Quentin Bisch. The brand name comes from the Louis XVI era of extravagance and luxury that ended with revolution.  Louis dedicated the Chateau de Marly to his beloved horses and celebrated  each race victory with new fragrances.  Louis had his own court perfumer in Jean Fargeon so  all this scented extravagance  makes for a fertile place for inspiration.

Delina opens with bergamot, rhubarb, lychee (or litchi). Middle notes are Turkish rose, lily of the valley and peony. Base notes are vanilla, musk and cashmeran.

On paper, this looks like it would make for an overly fruity opening, but in fact the rose and the rhubarb kind of burst out at the same time.  I love how well these two go together. The rose gets jammy but never sticky and the rhubarb adds a thick richness to the roses.  The musk pitches in fairly early on and softens all the edges, making this in my mind at least, a thick velvety deep rose blanket with delicate fruity nuances darting around delicately.

fragrantica

The base contains cashmeran, which according to Fragrantica (because I’d never heard of it) has a wet concrete facet, and funnily enough, I could detect this in the background.  Rather than being a disaster, it adds a pleasant dampness to proceedings, like wet stone.  Thankfully the vanilla was either part of the rhubarb note or was playing quietly in the distance. It didn’t overtake. This one is all about rose and rhubarb together. They go so well I’m amazed more people aren’t doing it.

photo from Fragrantica

I’m delighted to see that rhubarb does seem to be enjoying a renaissance lately, however. It features in Thierry Mugler Aura and also in Aedes de Venustas eau de parfum (the first one). I also found it in Jour D’Hermes but I’m not sure whether it was supposed to be in there. If I had to isolate a rhubarb note I would describe it as juicy, green, sharp like a gooseberry and sweet like deep red apples. It has a wintery feel that soaks up spices particularly well.  Now I’m thinking about rhubarb crumble. Oh boy.

Parfums de Marly Delina is very long lasting. Two sprays on each arm from my sample kept me going all day with delightful rosy, rhubarb wafts.  It doesn’t come cheap, but when I look at the beautiful moulded pale powder pink bottle I ache to own it. #greed

Stockists

My sample was included in the Perfume Society Latest Launches Discovery Box, but you can also buy  a full bottle from Selfridges and House of Fraser. Prices start at £175 so try before you buy.  I’ve tried and I want to buy.

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Ten Bottles Please: L’Absolu Narciso Rodriguez for her EDP 2015

Escentual.com
Escentual.com

Narciso Rodriguez is a rare thing these days: a brand that is as popular with critics as it is with fans.  Even the big name bestsellers have their fair share of critics, but the NR range appears to be pretty universally loved, like Joanna Lumley or Sir David Attenborough.

I was recently sent a sample of L’Absolu NR For Her, (Patsi, was this from you? If so, thank you!)  and despite there being many, many NR flankers, they are good enough to stand alone and are not merely mass churned money spinners.  Narciso Rodriguez Poudre is a particular favourite of mine ( see why here).

labsolu for her

L’Absolu turns up the volume on three of my favourite notes. It opens with powdery tuberose and jasmine, making a fluffy edged cloud of creamy white flowers. The background of white musk starts emerging slowly until it joins the white flowers in size and volume. White flowers and white musk together needs a bit of grounding,  so along come robust patchouli to anchor it down and give this a musky, musty, loud but chic accord that makes me want bottles and bottles of it. There’s a bit of aromatic sandalwood in there too, which just sort of smooths the edges a bit.

labsolu bottleWhat I love about this is that fact that there are many fragrances with jasmine sambac and patchouli out there, and they smell platitudinous i.e. so familiar they all smell the same. Usually, they add vanilla too.

With L’Absolu Narciso Rodriguez For Her, this doesn’t happen.  The ingredients are blended beautifully into a final accord that smells like white soap, clean musk, earthy patchouli, and big tuberose, all in one big beautiful long-lasting flourish.

This makes me feel impeccable, like a proper lady. It won’t go with my school run outfit of jeans and a stripy top. This is what I will wear with grown up clothes and everyone will admire me and want to do my bidding because I am so chic.  When a perfume makes you feel this good, you need to buy it all.

Stockists

L’Absolu Narciso Rodriguez For Her eau de parfum is available from The Fragrance Shop UK, allbeauty and Escentual. Sample was a gift from friend of the blog and of me, Patsi. xxx  Opinions are my own.

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