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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Off the top of your head, how many pin numbers do you need to remember? How many passwords and usernames? How many social media accounts do you have? How many text messages do you need to respond to? How many emails remain unanswered?
The digital age has done us all huge favours, such as Netflix and Facebook. But there’s a downside isn’t there? The digital age is both a privilege and a curse.
The cost of living has rocketed, house prices have gone insane, roads are congested, everything is conducted via a screen and more seems to be expected of us these days. Our modern lives are tough. No wonder relaxing has become a life skill that many have forgotten.
Which brings me nicely to the new range of fragrances from Sarah McCartney at 4160 Tuesdays. Yes, that introduction was a bit of a transition, but if you nodded even once, then you’ll know where she was coming from with this collection: “Our Modern Lives.”
Alongside creating perfumes (usually on Tuesdays, hence the name), Sarah is also a yoga teacher. She knows how to stop the white noise.
Our Modern Lives is intended as a soothing balm to your soul. There’s a scent for when you need to look away from the damn screen (after you’ve read my blog, of course) and scents that uplift, energise and revitalize, without you having to go to a spa or anything. I would call them Mood Scents.
Here are my impressions of them, and at the end I’ll tell where you can get hold of them. They’re not expensive either. By the way, you can mix them all up if you like and make your own blend.
Butch and woody are two words that I would use to describe this, but they would also make good names for a duo of male strippers. The woods are dark and rich with lots of amber. It might be Butch and Woody (hi guys!) but it is, like all scent in my opinion, unisex, as are all of these fragrances
Tricky to type, but gorgeous to sniff. This starts off with a crystalline vodka scent and smells as pure as an icicle. It reminded me a little of Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Celestia, so if you like that, you might like this too.
Creating scent out of solely natural ingredients post IFRA bans and regulations is a bit like riding a unicycle whilst crossing the road, knitting and saying your five times table. But that’s not your problem to worry about. When you feel like screens are sucking your eyeballs out of your face, switch them off and sniff these.
This is beautiful. There are red berries and raspberries and roses. Rather than being like candy, it reminded me of my childhood and of cherries. It may give you different emotions and memories, but I am sure it will evoke happy thoughts.
Of course, there’s going to be orange in this, and there is, but there are also neroli (steam distilled orange blossom), peaches and a hint of beautiful geranium. This may be my favourite.
This gave me a boost of feel good citrus, like freshly squeezed orange juice, but also something else that I couldn’t initially put my finger on. Then it hit me: what goes with fresh orange juice? Fresh coffee! Genius. I can smell the narcissus in this one too, giving you a little posy of flowers to go with your juice and coffee.
As you may know, green is my favourite genre so I was bound to love this one, and I do. It’s so green it’s even got spinach in it, not that I could smell it, unless you count the sort of lush damp vegetal scent that hovered in the background. This has lime and mint and green mandarin essential oil. Do you know what? After ten minutes, I could smell spinach. This is beautiful and foresty. The Popeye muscles are up to you.
You may recall my recent gushing reviews about Aquamarine Waves. It’s working nick name was Sea Goddess prior to its launch.
This is a marine scent with no cucumber and melon accord- that would be too easy and lots of people have aloready done that. Not here, no Sir. Sarah used seaweed to get this right. She did filter it out afterwards, you’ll be pleased to know.
Blue Screen/Blue Horizon- Perspective
Equally good on skin or in the air around you, this is designed to aid meditation. We spend too long on screens, and it’s not always our fault in a digital dependent society. Many people use screens for their work and that goes round the clock now. This beautiful scent helps you to look up and see the blue of the sky instead of the screen. Frankincense, lavender, vetiver, mint and eucalyptus all help to transport you somewhere else for a bit.
Indigo-Into the Night
This is the strongest and richest in the collection. Indigo has definite 4160 Tuesdays fingerprints over it. This is the smell of that 3 a.m. Cognac when you can’t sleep- yes, there’s cognac in it but please don’t drink it, no matter how good the party was. There’s something dark and slightly rubbery about this one. It reminds me of cannabis and vinyl records. No bad thing. There’s also osmanthus absolute, cedarwood, rum and leathery labdanum.
It’s a mood in a bottle: after all, 3 a.m. is often called the darkest hour of the soul.
This is a crowd funding project and it’s still possible to bag your swag by following this link. Personally, I reckon they should come in phials like a pencil case so you have a colour for every mood. It would be hard to stop at one. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have mood swings, mood slides and a mood roundabout in your head. My samples were kindly sent to me by Team Tuesdays and Sarah, for which, many thanks. Opinions are all my own.
For a long time now, I have been searching for the perfect marine scent. It has to remind me of the sea, be invigorating and NOT smell like cucumber. Doesn’t seem like too much to ask, does it? But apparently it is. Or was. Read on Macduff.
Before I go on, I’d like to ask if any of you remember a shampoo made by Boots Naturals called Sea Kelp? I used to adore that scent and used it until they stopped making it. I can’t even find an old photo on Pinterest. It was a beautifully scented shampoo that had marine notes and made my hair smell so good that I often wished they made a perfume of it.
Many times have I have sniffed something in a vageuly aquamarine coloured bottle and thought, “maybe this will smell like Sea Kelp shampoo?” and been disappointed. Cucumber and melon- yes. Sea notes? No.
However, I recently received a small glass phial ( vial or phial? you can use either, I checked) of a scent that is currently being called “Sea Goddess”. This may or may not be its final name: it’s still in development at the hand of Sarah McCartney at 4160 Tuesdays.
Sea Goddess opens with a burst of citrus. I could discern sharp lemon and bitter grapefruit: the kind that makes you do an involuntary wink when you eat it first thing in the morning. This wakes you up and prepares you for the swishy swish of sea notes that follow.
Sea notes are hard to define and are often subjective, but here’s my take on them here: with an invigorating tang and a hit of saltiness, Sea Goddess makes you wish you were next to the sea and makes you feel an urgent need to down tools and find some surf , like a Bisto kid following his nose.
It is rare to find a sea note perfume that is as on the button as this one . What gives it that unique 4160 Tuesdays touch is a dose of Britishness towards the end. There is an almost, but not quite, dirty tang of seaweed towards the bottom. Rather than put me off, this adds to its authenticity. This is how the seaside really smells.
We can romanticise the white crests of foam as the waves crash, and we can imagine ourselves getting a revitalizing burst of ozone into our poor urban lungs, but don’t forget what the beach really smells like. There’s salt and wet sand and sea weed. It’s all here, my friends. Because a real Sea Goddess will get sand on her fins and seaweed on her arms.
This is the ultimate sea note scent. No cucumber. No melon. This is the sea and the beach, captured in a glass vial like a snow globe.
This is nearly available from 4160 Tuesdays, but not quite yet. It may be given a different name, but I will let you know. Talk about a teaser! Sorry about that. My sample rollerball phial was from Sarah herself, for which, my deep gratitude. Opinions are my own.
UPDATED 31st March 2017
Sea Goddess is to be called Aquamarine – Waves and is available via this link. I’ll see you in the queue! I’m buying a couple of gallons.
Earlier this week, I asked you to send me your perfume problems. I then chewed the arm of my glasses and looked studious, whilst reading them, just like a proper Mumsy Agony Aunt.
I was so pleased to get so many questions, some of which I answer below. Incidentally, I also see questions on my WordPress dashboard which tell me what people type into Google in order to be led to my site.
There are two questions that I see every single day without fail. Yes, my friends, the two most popular questions are:
What’s the best Avon perfume?
What cheap perfume smells good?
Now you may have noticed that these two particular questions have entre blog posts devoted to answering them. Nobody can accuse me of not giving my readers what they want.
With that having been said, here are some other questions that I received this week.
I am very grateful to all who sent me a Dear Aunty Sam question. I wish I could tell you that there’s a T-shirt and a mug on the way to you, but I can’t. I think I may repeat this experience in future, so please do send any questions as they occur to you. I’ll be your olfactory DJ.
Dear Aunty Sam,
Like you, I miss Gucci Envy and only have a little bit left. What can I wear instead when this runs out?
A good question and one to which I still seek an answer myself. We’ve asked the Why Did it End? question but the wind took our words away and no answer was given. Meantime, here are some that I find have some of the Gucci Envy notes in common, namely green notes, lily of the valley and hyacinth.
I’ve fallen in love with Yardley’s Polaire. But as ever with Yardley 20 minutes in and unless I’ve gone nose blind I can smell nothing at all. Is there something out there that smells the same, but with actual longevity and a bit more sillage?
I haven’t smelled Yardley Polaire recently so I’m working blind here. However, I notice that the prominent notes are pear, freesia and rose. There are two scents that also contain these notes. One is Dior J’Adore and the other is Elizabeth Arden Fifth Avenue ( although more freesia than pear) However, if you want to stick with Polaire, there are a couple of things you can do to extend its life.
What I usually do is spray my hair. Hair carries scent very well- usually until bedtime! However, some people claim this dries hair out. Secondly, and I’m going to talk boobs here, spray it in your cleavage before you get dressed. As your body heats up throughout the day, you get nice little wafts under your nose. You can also make scent last longer by moisturising skin before applying it. Don’t forget a quick spray on your lapels or scarf.
There is another theory, however. Some people say that when a perfume really suits you, you stop being able to smell it. This is so subjective that I find it difficult to prove, but there may be some truth in it. Maybe Polaire just really suits you!
EDIT: I have since discovered that the ebautiful Celine Dion Sensational is a smellaike too. This one lasts ages on me.
Dear Aunty Sam
I have begun to make some fragrances. I have at least three that are absolutely delightful, unlike anything else I’ve ever tried. I really feel there’s a market for these, especially in this size, being affordable for almost everyone.
How do I go about getting someone to be willing to sell my fragrances in their shop (either online or not) or work with me in promoting mine?
Firstly, congratulations on your perfumes. I do love an entrepreneurial spirit. Secondly, before you sell them commercially, do they meet the necessary compliance? There are many perfume ingredients that have been banned by IFRA in order to ensure that scents do not cause rashes or reactions. Forgive me if I’m preaching to the converted- you may well already know this. Thirdly, have you tried Etsy? There are many beautiful handmade scents there and it strikes me as a good starting point.
I would really recommend one of the Studio days run by Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays. What she doesn’t know about making and selling perfume just isn’t worth knowing. You can find out more from the 4160 Tuesdays website. Oh, and in answer to your question about promoting your scent, my advice is, as you might imagine, harness the bloggers!
That’s all I’ve got room for this week. I hope you enjoyed my first brave fumble into the mailbag. Do you agree with my responses? Do you have any questions of your own? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
In 2015 I wrote a post entitled “How to Get Perfume Samples”. I felt it was necessary since these days, it’s easier to get unicorn droppings and hens’ teeth than perfume samples from Beauty Counters. My original article has proved very popular, but the Fragrant Firmament spins fast on its axis. My original article, written in 2015, needs updating for 2017.
A lot can happen in two years within the industry. Beloved favourites can be discontinued, new starts ups can arrive with a bang, and old lions can go out with a whimper.
Sample services serve two purposes: They avoid you making costly blind buys and they help you fall in love with stuff you might not have come across. Whilst I love to seek out samples of stuff I’ve heard of and never tried, I also love it when the choice is made for me. It takes me out of my comfort zone. This is one of the reasons why I am such a fan of discovery boxes, and the Perfume Society in particular. Their boxes are loosely themed and have really changed my mind about no end of scents I wouldn’t have otherwise sought out.
The other advantage is one I mentioned pre-Christmas, but which applies at any time of the year. When buying for others, why not offer them a choice? A mixture of samples and gift voucher is my idea of the perfect gift (It’s my birthday next month. I wonder if my husband is reading this?).
Here’s a roundup of sample services that are currently out there just waiting for us to knock on their door. This is a UK Guide by the way, so if I miss your favourite out, it’s just geography, not favouritism.
The Perfume Society.
Yes I’m a fan. No, they don’t pay me to say so and yes I have almost every one of the Discovery Boxes. In fact, I’m just waiting for the Heaven Scent one, due any day! You can buy them here. They usually contain around nine excellent, often hard-to-get samples and maybe a treat or two as well. They are my Number One favourite treat.
A new entry at Number Two. I’m very impressed with the diversity here and find the prices reasonable. I’m rolling my sleeves up and writing a long list. Here’s a link to their website.
There are two branches of this divine boutique perfumery in London, but the good news is that you don’t have to live in London to benefit from their sample service. The bad news is that its very, very hard to choose. Here’s the link.
Nobody can accuse Sarah McCartney of not being inclusive. 4160 Tuesdays means reasonably priced high quality artisan scents that cover every genre except “boring”. The 4160 Tuesdays website even has themed suggestions of sample sets in case you don’t know where to begin. My favourite is “Frocks and Hats.”
The Fragrance Shop Discovery Club.
Every quarter since 2013 I have received a box of samples from The Fragrance Shop. These usually include new releases and new flankers, but often they pop a classic or a well-beloved favourite in. The boxes usually include between 6 to 9 samples and a booklet of money off vouchers if you find one you want in full bottle size. Boxes are just £5 a quarter, and they make great gifts too. You can join in the fun here.
Papillon Perfumery is the creation of Nose Liz Moores, perfumer extraordinaire (I’ve met her- she is small and beautiful) There are four scents in the Papillon range and you can sample of all four from here. There isn’t a single one I wouldn’t recommend, and a fifth scent is on its way later this year.
Another one I’ve not come across before, but I’m very impressed with their range and might be making an order soon. The huge range varies from Tom Ford, Chanel Exclusifs, Tauer and Roja to name but a few. I’ll let you know what I think if I can ever make my mind up! You can check the site out for yourselves here.
Pell Wall Perfumes
In the beautiful county of Shropshire, Chris Bartlett creates exquisite scents under the name of Pell Wall Perfumes. Sample sets and mini bottles are available at reasonable prices and you may well find a lifelong favourite among this imaginative range. I particularly like Pretty in Pink and Deep Purple. Check out the website here.
eBay has a vast range of samples from various sellers. I have never been let down or sold fakes on eBay- they are very strict about that. I have had some great bargains this way and even if you end up not liking the samples you order, they make great swapping currency.
Find Your Tribe
Join a group of like-minded fume heads: Sites such as Fragrantica and Base Notes have led to many firm friendships, as well as samples swapping. Alternatively, join a Facebook group such as Fragcom or Perfumeland For Fluffheads.
Have I missed any out? Have you had great sample service in the UK? Or have you discovered a favourite through random sample sniffage? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
2016 was a terrible year in many ways. It made my heart feel heavy. There was a marked increase in hate and prejudice, a colossal amount of celebrity deaths and the world in general seemed a darker place. Like many, I feel a need to accentuate the positive. I have been counting my blessings and feeling determined to put kindness back out into the world. Prozac and affirmations help too.
One of the things I am particularly thankful for is the fact that I have made several dear friends via my blog. I truly treasure them. It has always lifted my spirits to read your comments and share your scent stories.
The kindness and generosity of perfume loving people ( fumeheads? Perfumistas?) is legend. They would give you the shirt off their backs and their last drop of anything you “quite fancy trying.” Back in October, I was lucky enough to meet a gang o’perfumistas and ended the day feeling like I had taken part in a giant cuddle. Thanks to Pia Long and Nick Gilbert, we gathered in London and talked and sniffed all the day long, ending with a bellyful of cake and tea. Sheer bliss. People like that make me hopeful. Kindness is rife, rampant and contagious. Long may it ravage us all! Many tiny snowflakes make an avalanche.
Looking back, 2016 was an interesting year scent wise. I got to know several new brands and perfume houses. Perfume trends in general, are, I think, changing. Celebrity sales are down and niche sales are up. The tide is turning and I like it.
What I Am Most Looking forward to in 2017 Liz Moores of Papillon Perfumery has promised a new release sometime in 2017. Rumoured to be a chypre (claps hands and whoops) I am already in the line with a Thermos of tea and sleeping in Liz’s teepee so I can be first in the queue. Despite having made only four perfumes so far, Liz’s fragrances already have the permanence of classics. There are no weak links. Quality is outstanding. By the way, for some reason I always wear Papillon Angelique to christenings. It seems to “go”. New life, optimism, pearls…
In other news the Ruth Mastenbroek promises us a fourth scent in her range. I know little about it so far as it is still in development stage, but rest assured, it will be reviewed right here..
I also plan to head London-wards to drop in on the 4160 Tuesdays studio. I haven’t been since 2014 and I want to see if my new smaller bottom will fit in the swing. I’m hoping Sarah McCartney will let me sniff a few single notes that I sometimes get stuck on, and sell me a load of scent swag. (I’m taking a very large bag).
I am keen to see what Avon comes up with this year. They made two of my most frequently worn scents this year and neither cvost me more than £7. Rare Platinum is a tuberose lover’s dream and Perceive Oasis is peonies and roses on a summer day. I’m also excited to see what else Beaufort London has in store after the show stopping Fathom V. More to come from this audacious house and their wonderfully named “Hell or High Water” range.
And one last thing.. oh yes,. Watchthis space as I put my very shy self into YouTube territory. I’m scared just writing that, but one has to move with the times. Scary!
Check me out! I’ve been experimenting with editing sites. The world is my lobster. Watch this space for disastrous pixellated pics and clumsy graphics until I get the hang of stuff. I’ll soon be running with the pack.
Well, dear readers, it’s time for me to sum up a busy fragranced year and award plaudits to my favourites from 2016. These are purely based on my opinion, which is therefore The Law.
Not all of these are actually 2016 launches: some have just impressed me so much after four years of blogging that I have declared that they deserve accolades. Now, we’d’d best get on before all this power goes to my head and I start doing villain’s laughter.
The IScent Award for Best Longevity
This has to be a three way tie between
4160 Tuesdays Midnight in the Palace Garden
Andy Tauer Carillon Pour Un Ange
Papillon Perfumes Tobacco Rose
I sprayed 4160 Tuesdays Midnight in The Palace Garden into thin air yesterday and 24 hours later it is still there. This is despite eating a roast dinner in the same room and trying on various perfumes throughout the day. It smells like I have been burning very expensive incense among church pews and I love it.
I sprayed two sprays of Tauer Carillon Pour Un Ange on my neck three days ago. Since then I have had three showers and changed my bedding. This morning when I woke up, I could still smell lily of the valley. This is a bottle I purchased in May 2015 and it has barely gone down. I think a genie keeps refilling it.
Made by the delightful Liz Moores in her compound in the New Forest, Papillon Perfumes Tobacco Rose lasted over fifteen hours on me. Rich, woody roses that just stay put. I could bask in it. Two sprays and you’re wrapped in spiced, woody roses until bedtime.
So all three of these niche brands get the Iscent 2016 Award for Longevity. Isn’t it interesting how they are all niche and not mainstream? Just sayin’
Best Summer Perfume – Art de Parfum Gin &Tonic
Gin &Tonic by Art de Parfum stopped me in my tracks with its new take on Gin &Tonic. So much more than just refreshing juniper, I wore this until my sample ran out and had compliments every time. A full bottle is in my sights in 2017. Check out my reviews on the rest of the range here.
Most Original Launch –REEK perfume Damn Rebel Bitches
This has to go to Reek Perfume for Damn Rebel Bitches. It’s a scent that smacks of rebellion. Rustic touches speak of the heritage of the strong women it pays tribute to. With notes of malt, blood orange and herbs, you won’t be surprised to learn that Sarah McCartney was the nose behind the scent Her fingerprints are all over it! (NB That is not her hand in the illustration).
Best Celebrity Launch-Sarah Jessica Parker Stash SJP
This one was easy. It goes to Sarah Jessica Parker Stash SJP. Breaking the mould of the usual celeb fare, SJP goes down the niche-style route of a churchy sandalwood incense unisex scent with not a hint of fruity floral fruitichouli in sight. It’s superb quality and I hope it will set the tone for other innovative celeb launches.
Best Flanker-Chanel No 5 L’Eau
It’s got to be Chanel no 5 L’Eau. Not a diluted version of the original, but a twiddling of the tuning knobs to bring out the lighter and muffle the darker. It’s divine and light and deserves classic status already.Oh, and lightness doesn’t mean a lack of longevity either: this really sticks around. Full marks to the beautifully simple marketing campaign showcasing the lovely Lily-Rose Depp.
Another three-way tie. I simply couldn’t choose! Here are the turkeys, the raspberries, the No-Nos. I don’t want to be mean but I’m going to be anyway. Dior Poison Girl,Estee Lauder Modern Muse Nuit and YSL Mon Paris left me wishing I’d never even taken the lid off. The prices are steep for what they are and the money seems to be going on the marketing rather than the ingredients (what’s new?) Least said soonest mended. Moving on!
Best Winter Fragrance- Le Jardin Retrouvé Sandalwood Sacre
This one has to go to Le Jardin Retrouvé. When I smelled Sandalwood Sacre for the first time, it was like cupid had shot me with an arrow. I simply had to own a bottle and now I do. You can read my review here. Don’t just keep it for winter though. I’m not.
Best Gourmand: Library of Fragrance Chai Tea and Library of Fragrance Tomato
Trust Library of Fragrance to come up with the goods once again. This was a tie between Chai Tea and Tomato. I am sure they won’t mind sharing the award with um…themselves.
Chai Tea combines lightness and spice to bring a new angle on the word “cosy.” if you don’t like your gourmands too sweet ( like me) then Chai Tea will win you over. Meanwhile, back in our very short summer of 2016, (it was a Tuesday afternoon as I recall) Library of Fragrance Tomato took me back to my grandfather’s greenhouse in the 70s faster than a Tardis. As fresh as a new bud and with accents of verbena, Tomato became one of my very favourite warm weather scents.
Best Chypre: DSH Mata Hari
Over the ocean in Boulder Colorado, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz brews and macerates her beautiful perfumes with skill and passion. I was floored by DSH Mata Hari Extrait and in a blind test I would have thought it a priceless original 1920s vintage. It made me want to wear long gloves and arch one eyebrow at people. Glorious! You can read my DSH reviews here.
Best New Scent 2016: Beaufort London Fathom V
Beaufort London Fathom V turned an unassuming day into a vivid montage of sea faring adventure. It transported me to the slimy flanks of a London ship and the distant calls of pirates in one sniff. This stuff is like letting a genie out of a bottle. It’s green times a thousand, with sea notes that you can almost hear. It’s the best sea scent ever, and I can’t see that anything will make me change my mind about that. You can read my love letter to Fathom V here.
Best Natural Fragrance 2016: Mandy Aftel – Aftelier Amber Tapestry
Using only natural ingredients ( and that takes some doing!) Mandy’s instinctive connection to nature transports you to another place, via taste and even flavour. Amber Tapestry unfurls, layer by layer, enveloping the wearer in the kind of warmth that has a uniquely human touch. You can read my review here.
The IScent Fellowship Award: The Perfume Society
I’ve invented a Fellowship Award because The Perfume Society defies other categopries. Not only do they provide white boxes of treasure that even the most jaded perfume palate would salivate at, but they’re a sort of Mothership that we can all turn to when we get a bit lost in the murky depths of fruity-florals-chypres-colognes-my-nose-is-confused-help! Ever had a day like that? I have. The Perfume Society Scented Letter magazine also makes me settle down with a contented sigh and think “I’ve found my tribe” as I read what other perfume obsessives are up to. Fumeheads, you are not alone.
I was recently sent a sample of a new fragrance from REEK. This scent goes to number one on my favourite ever perfume names list, knocking I Fancy You and Fat Electrician off the top spot.
Damn Rebel Bitches was cooked up over a cauldron stirred by Sarah McCartney, who you will know from 4160 Tuesdays. You just know that when Sarah rolls her sleeves up, this will be no ordinary smell-alike mass market popsicle. NB The cauldron isn’t literal- her studio is more test tubes and maceration, but you get the picture.
Opening in dramatic fashion with blood orange that sticks around and doesn’t quit, Damn Rebel Bitches falls somewhere between a cologne and a gourmand. I’m not a fan of gourmands, but when they are sober and unsweetened, like this one, I am all nostrils. The orange is joined by clary sage, malt and pink peppercorn. Pink peppercorn is a berry not a spice and has been used in seemingly endless measure lately with the trend for pink fruity florals. Have no fear, pepper dodgers, here it is muted and adds just enough of a fruity pinch to keep the orange on track.
There is a thread of molasses running through here like a mining seam, which I figured must be the malt and hazelnut. Now, I know I said this gourmand was unsweetened, but sometimes molasses and very dark brown sugar can start to smell like something else when you sniff them up close. It’s almost as if they smell like dark, dried fruit or fudgey nuts. Such is the case here and the combination of sharp orange and nutty malt made me think of the chewy cherry and fruit topping on a Dundee Cake (I could eat a whole one if left unsupervised). The herby note comes from the clary sage- a beautifully green note that I love, but doesn’t always work for me in fragrance. Here though, it works beautifully and that herby touch adds a stretch of countryside into the pot.
There is a middle phase to Damn Rebel Bitches that smells like red Skittles, but it faded as soon as I named it. It’s as if the playful pink peppercorn starts a fight and loses. The final act is an orangey, herby accord that smells like a posh liqueur. Think Cointreau, but with flashes of greenery and dark wood.
I love how the notes evoke a wildness. There is a feeling that the ingredients were gathered many years ago: hazelnuts, malt, clary sage- all could be found by the wild haired Damn Rebel Bitches whose courage went largely unnoticed because, well, because they were women. These brave women deserve to be remembered and I salute REEK for doing so.
You can buy Damn Rebel Bitches from the REEK website or from the shop in Edinburgh. My sample was kindly sent to me by REEK, for which, many thanks. Opinions are my own.
Cafleurebon writes a wonderful blog post about Damn Rebel Bitches and you can find out more about the eponymous heroines of this fragrance here.
Supra-naturals: The ones we make with the posh naturals combined with most excellent synthetic molecules to make scents of great beauty.- Sarah McCartney
Perfumer Sarah McCartney (I’m going to add the word inexhaustible) has an encyclopaedic knowledge of perfume regulations. If you don’t believe me, put her on Mastermind. This knowledge, which by necessity would resemble several complex mazes in someone’s head, led her to concoct a “Supra-Natural” scent.
Why are Mother’s Nature’s Daughters Naughty? Well they’re more rule-bendingly naughty than wicked, but they have a twinkle in their eye.
Many of the off grid, twigs-in-your-hair style fragrance notes involved in Mother Nature’s Naughty Daughters are prohibited or severely regulated in their natural and absolute form by both IFRA and the EU . There’s also the complication that these truly natural ingredients have a lot of variables when they land on skin. Sarah has therefore, rather resourcefully, used natural ingredients to create a synthetic sure-fire replication of these notes without actually breaking any rules. Still with me? Trust me, she knows what she’s doing.
So having gone through all that, whilst exploring the delightful sounding broom absolute for the first time along the way, what does Mother Nature’s Naughty Daughters smell like? This is a rosy chypre (complete with textbook woody, mossy base), but at the same time, it’s a playful fruity floral that also happens to be a gourmand. In other words, this will please fans of all three genres.
What I have here is an opening that reminded me briefly of calvados: orchard fruits and booze. The fruit is framed with praline which gave me an instant hit of those divine liquid centred boozy liqueurs you get at Christmas (which I could eat endlessly, with my eyes closed going “MMM”). Blackcurrants come out, which can smell like cat pee, but here they are rich and bitter in a good red wine-y sort of way. There is a syrupy note that bridges the top phase to the middle, although nothing is as prescriptive as that here. Roses pop out, but with brown sugar frosting their petals. Is that the broom I can smell? It is reportedly a nutty, woody, hay-like note and that’s certainly there, along with a waft of warm Horlicks (that’ll be the malt).
So far this has given us a little tour covering most of an English Country Garden. So where does the base leave us? On some damp aromatic moss, on a cedar bench after the rain, with a glassful of sticky Pimms and pear pips. Which is not just fine by me, but wholeheartedly agreeable. If birdsong could be bottled, that would be in here too.