Tag Archives: Aftelier

The ISCENT Awards and Review of 2017

 

Welcome to the I Scents 2017! Find your seat. The drinks will be around in a minute. I hope you’ve got your glad rags on and are ready for a fragrant bonanza.

2017 has been a very interesting year for fragrance, with even the big hitters bringing out major new launches.  If I’m honest, I found far more to love in the world of niche and indie than I did over the beauty counters.  I also had some wonderful real-life perfume experience to break the loneliness of the long distance blogger.  It was a delight to meet up with Sarah McCartney, Jo Fairley, Suzy Nightingale (albeit briefly in the toilets at the Jasmines!), Marina Barcenilla, Ruth Mastenbroek, Stephan Matthews, Thomas Dunckley, Persolaise and Nick Gilbert.  If that sounds like star struck name dropping, that’s because it is.

Ladies and gentlemen, here are the awards, presented by your hostess, Samantha Scriven (applause. Whooping. Wolf whistles.)

Best mainstream

I was moved by very few mainstream launches this year and we saw some big ones come from Chanel, Mugler, Jean Paul Gaultier and Guerlain. Whilst I liked Chanel Gabrielle, I didn’t think it was worth the high price and I found longevity very poor at around an hour.  Can’t stop singing the Beyoncé song from the fabulous advert though.

There were, however four launches that really made me sit up and take notice. I’m not even going to pick a favourite, because they all were. If you pushed me into owning just one though, it would be Alberto Morillas’ Gucci Bloom for Gucci. I’m a sucker for a bunch of white flowers at the best of times and I’m pleased to see them hopefully capturing some new hearts with this beautiful scent and stunning campaign.

Gucci Bloom -winner

Gucci  really made me sit up  and take notice with this one. I have been in a sulk with them since envy was scrapped, but they may be back in my good books again. Gucci Bloom is a wonderful white flower fragrance that is unapologetically feminine and floral.  I love that it takes floral scents back to basics,  stripping away all sugary artifice, whilst showcasing all the best bits of nature. Read my rave review here.

Cartier Baiser Fou

Baiser Fou is the flanker to lily based pillar scent Cartier Baiser Vole, and in my opinion, the better of the two.  Baiser Fou is all about  raspberries, Milky Bars and posh lipstick.  I love this playful and lovable scent, which always makes me think of summer weddings. My review is here.

Mugler Aura

It’s not very often Mugler brings out a brand new pillar scent, although flankers are frequent.  Aura is one of the most wearable Muglers.  It doesn’t have the nuclear sillage of Angel or Alien, nor the  divisive  love/hate of the discontinued Womanity (shudder).  However, with new notes of Tiger Liana (my future stripper name) and Wolfwood, this makes for an unusual and audacious scent. You can read my review here.

La Vie Est Belle L’Eclat

from Lancome UK

Whilst I feel Lancome La Vie est Belle has become ubiquitous, spawning many homages and dupes in its wake, La Vie est Belle L’Eclat offers something new.

The floral notes are there but the sugary caramel of the pillar fragrance  has been toned down, leaving a rather classy floral scent, with a hint of sweetness. The bottle is stunning too- I can’t stop touching the elaborate chiselled glass.  Lancôme, I salute you.

 Fragrances I Can’t Live Without

It is frankly impossible to only issue one award in this category.  It’s like asking me which is my favourite cat (don’t).  To choose one implies I don’t love the others as much, and that’s not true.  I have therefore listed the fragrances I fell headlong in love with in 2017.  If you have to take away my whole collection, just leave me these and I’ll be happy.

Aftelier Velvet Tuberose

4160 Tuesdays Killer Rose 

4160 Tuesdays Eau My Soul

Photo by Thomas Dunckley for Papillon Perfumery

Papillon Dryad

Marina Barcenilla India

DSH French Lily

Ruth Mastenbroek Firedance

Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium

Best New Perfume House 2017

Gallivant -winner

Nick Steward founded Gallivant with years of experience in his pocket from his previous tenure at L’Artisan Parfumeur. Basing each scent on a city vibe, Nick has created a scent wardrobe that takes you all around the world. What I like about this brand is that he hasn’t gone for the obvious, but has suggested the unseen underbelly of a city.  He’s gone for Brooklyn rather than Central Park and has given Tel Aviv a feel-good optimism. Gallivant is innovative, evocative and original. I look forward to seeing more from this exciting new house.

Best bargain brand

Bargain perfumes are my speciality. I believe that everyone should be able to have affordable perfume and I eschew all snobbery on my blog. In fact, the perfume I reached for most often in 2017 was my trusty £5.99 of Coty L’Aimant.

Avon-Winner

Avon has been producing some wonderful fragrances that whilst recognisably Avon, are bang on trend and can easily stand shoulder to shoulder with more expensive mainstream brands. In fact, the list of perfumers that have worked for Avon read like a Who’s Who of fragrance; Christopher Sheldrake, Oliver Cresp and Sonia Constant to name but three. Most of my Avon fragrances cost me around £7. Unbeatable.

Bronnley

Some superb fragrances from Bronnley who are shaking up their image to attract the younger scent buyer. Whilst I will always be a fan of the classic lemon soaps and floral bath goodies, (don’t ever stop making them!) there are now innovative roller balls and  50ml eau de toilettes in the Eclectic Elements range. My particular favourites are Wild Green and Exotic Embers. The prices are right too with 30ml eau fraiche bottles, rollerballs and candles all within the £10 range (prices are current as from day of publishing this).

Marks and Spencer

My local Marks and Spencer is next door to The Perfume Shop and I find myself in  there far more often than I find myself in the Perfume Shop.  Also, The Perfume Shop deletes all your loyalty points if you don’t use them fast enough, which doesn’t make me feel very loyal anymore.  Marks and Spencer hosts some of my favourite brands such as Fragonard and Monotheme, but their own brand stuff is pretty good too. I’m a big fan of Autograph Blush, Florentyna White and Rosie by Rosie Huntington Whitely. With 10ml purse sprays starting from a fiver, you can cheer yourself up without breaking the bank.

Yves Rocher

My beloved Yves Rocher! Whenever I order from them, I am always sent a free gift (usually something good like perfume) three samples, some sort of BOGOF deal and usually some sort of little surprise or purse spray. I am currently awaiting an order in which I spent £30 and will be receiving four bottles of perfume, a Swarovksi necklace and three samples.  This is not because I am a blogger, but because I am a customer and they are all treated this well. Fragrance quality is very high and I have never been disappointed. Check out my most recent Yves Rocher review here.

 Perfume Superstars Award

The Perfume Society

The Perfume Society

For the second year in a row I hail the beloved Mothership.  The Perfume Society not only hosts workshops and events that are a delight to attend, but I have an addiction to the Discovery Boxes which always, without fail, introduce me to a scent or brands I have never come across before.  Alexander Pope once declared that the point of literature was to instruct delightfully and The Perfume Society certainly fulfill this edict. The Scented Letter is a brilliant read, with breathtakingly good visuals and superb guest writers.  The latest Discovery Box I had even contained Green & Black’s Chocolate. chocolate. #dreamcometrue

2017 Highlights

I’m giving all of these equal placing because every one is indelibly engraved into my memory for when I’m an old lady and don’t get out much.

The Jasmine Awards

What can I say? Such an honour to be a finalist and such a day of contrasts. I began my day at BAFTA, followed by tea at the former Simpsons on The Strand with Sarah McCartney and Ruth Mastenbroek and ended it with the 3.15pm school run in Cwmbran.  Unforgettable! You can read about it here.

FiFis

I shall remember my night at the Fragrance Foundation awards for many years to come. I was invited as a guest of Clive Christian fragrance and the team made me feel so welcome. I got to wear a long dress, which doesn’t happen very often to me anymore, and mingle with the movers and shakers in the Fragrance World. It also marked the start of a friendship with FiFi winner Marina Barcenilla and the lovely Stephan Matthews.

photo by kind permission of Sarah McCartney

The Perfume Society Improve your Sense of Smell Workshop

Photo courtesy of The Perfume Society.

The Perfume Society held a workshop fairly near-ish to me in Clifton.  Since this is nearer than London, it was easy for me to attend, being across the water from South Wales (we have up to two bridges now).

I learnt so much in that afternoon  from Perfume Society Founder Jo Fairley, and would wholeheartedly recommend these workshops to anyone, even if you’ve been before!  Read my review of the day here.

Also featured in…

Check me out! I feel wanted and special. I got to work with all these delightful people this year and feel extremely flattered to be on their radar.

Stephan Matthews

Stephan’s Six- I join the ranks of hallowed predecessors and felt very flattered to be included in this legendary column.

Escentual.com

Escentual-  Perfume Expert Thomas Dunckley, (aka The Candy Perfume Boy)   called me a perfume expert too! I’m not in the same league as  Thomas, but I am thrilled to bits anyway. This is where I give my opinion on the most Christmassy perfume ever: Serge Lutens Arabie.  The photo is Thomas’s own.

 

My Beauty Matches– I’ve written several pieces for My Beauty Matches. You can check them out here and here.  A lovely team of people.

 

WOW Beauty– the amazing Denise of Wow beauty asked me to contribute to her fabulous site and I was delighted to join the fun. If you haven’t checked it out, do drop in. Such a lovely environment!

 

Collaborated with…Moodscent Four

This year saw me collaborate with  my wonderful Mood Scent Four colleagues, Esperanza, Tara and Megan. It was all Megan’s idea, so blame her. Megan is a Kiwi, based in the south of France  (meganinstsemaxime) and came up with the idea that four bloggers from four different countries could share their perfume recommendations for different moods and occasions. Every few months we all write about what to wear as a wedding guest, what scent to wear when uplifting is called for, and most recently, our favourite Night Out perfumes. They’re a joy to work with and I am honoured to be their colleague.

Over to you

What were your perfume highlights of 2017? What are you hoping to see more of in 2018? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year and thank you for taking the time and trouble to read my blog posts and follow what I’m up to. it would be very lonely without you all and each one of you is appreciated.

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Aftelier Velvet Tuberose: A White Flower Winter

Mandy Aftel is a revered world-wide authority on natural fragrances, and flavour too.  To receive samples all the way from Berkeley California to my humble end of terrace home in overcast South Wales makes me feel very honoured. When I heard Mandy was working on a scent called Velvet Tuberose, my antenna twitched in anticipation. It’s no exaggeration that since learning more about fragrance, tuberose has become a firm favourite of mine. I couldn’t wait to see what Mandy would do with it.

Fragrantica

Velvet Tuberose is in solid fragrance form. This means that you can travel with it, apply it on a train without annoying anyone and Mandy can post it to you, even in the UK. It also means that the waxy texture won’t dry your skin out. Reader, it lasts and lasts and lasts. Here’s what I thought about it:

Wikipedia

Velvet Tuberose opens brightly and loudly. It’s heady and thick and reminds me of the hottest days in summer full of flowers and bees and heat.  As this peaks, there is a pleasant woodiness to Velvet Tuberose, which takes over when the thick summer flowers tail off. You have the creamy headiness of the tuberose, that faintest hint of celery that plays hide and seek and a sweetness that lies somewhere between a florist and a snapped fern leaf.  I found a lot of sharp greenery here, which offsets the richness of the tuberose absolute. Yes, Mandy has used tuberose absolute. It’s not the cheapest way of doing things, but Mandy sources her materials with great care. The quality of the ingredients really shows: not just in the longevity but in the fully rounded notes that seem to get plumper and richer, rather than tailing off and fading as some liquid fragrances can. Although it’s not listed as a note, my nose found traces of earthy honey in here that warms this big white floral up for winter.

From Aftelier.com

 

Longevity is remarkable. Apply in the morning and when your head hits the pillow at bed time, you’re sniffing the air and thinking, is that still me? It is.

Velvet Tuberose is a high quality rich tuberose with a chorus of flowers to introduce it, and a finale of sandalwood and honey to round it off. Tuberose fans will adore it, and people who are not yet tuberose fans might find that this is the one that converted them to Tuberose Love.

Stockists

You can but Velvet Tuberose from the Aftelier website. My sample was kindly sent to me by Mandy Aftel, for which, warmest thanks. No conditions were attached and this is not a sponsored post.

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Amber Tapestry by Mandy Aftel for Aftelier Perfumes (2016)

klimt

I was delighted to receive a little parcel via Fed Ex all the way from Berkeley California recently. It was from master perfumer Mandy Aftel and was wrapped like a piece of precious treasure. Mandy is a fragrant and flavourist expert who has the worldwide respect of customers and peers alike.

ambertap

I received my sample spray phial of Amber Tapestry last week and I have been taking my time in getting to know it before reviewing it. After all, Mandy didn’t rush making it, so I owe it such courtesy in return.

Amber Tapestry is suitably named. Each component makes up the overall picture with splashes of colour and vibrancy that make this scent a constant unfolding  enigma.

The heliotrope, which my nose mistook for lilac, speaks of springtime optimism. There was a note of pollen in there too, that reminded me of the dust you get on your nose when you sniff a daffodil (I should know, it’s the National Flower of Wales).  The orange and the jasmine together give this a creamy and alluring opening act.  The combination of the two makes for a sort of exaggerated orange blossom.amber2

The middle phase is where this gets more tapestry like. The resin-y incense tones of benzoin  (often used in cough mixture) seem to add a faded grandeur to the big white flowers that start so brightly. The heady white blooms are toned down by the warmth of golden amber as the base notes cast a sunset over this evocative scent. There is a subtle touch of animal in the finale, but rather than being a body odour  animalic, its more of an intimate back-of-the-neck scent- if you’re familiar with my review of Aftelier Memento Mori, you’ll know the honeyed skin scent I mean.

Each note is interwoven to give an overall accord of a resinous, leathery vanilla. It was a real grower on me. The longer I have worn it, the more I like it

Amber Tapestry is a scent for all seasons. From Spring to Autumn in one fell swoop, the floral optimism of its opening gives way to a cosy richness that ends with the feeling of being hugged by an amber blanket of warmth.

Mandy uses natural ingredients and to my nose, these have an authenticity that makes for a deep and rich olfactory experience. It is my ambition to visit her perfume museum in Berkeley one day. Like Aftelier fragrances, I just know it will be unforgettable.

Stockists

All Aftelier Scents are available from the Aftelier website.

Acknowledgments:

Top photo of Klimt painting from usdo.us. Photo of sample is my own. Illustration from Aftelier.com. sample provided by Mandy Aftel with my warm thanks. Opinions are my own.

Looking back at 2015: My Top Ten

Welcome back. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I am currently smelling of my Christmas present: First by Van Cleef and Arpels, and loving its classic aldehyde nuances. I smell like a proper lady.

2015 marks the third year of my blog and I always like to do a top ten round up as we say farewell to another twelve months. Scent wise, it’s been an interesting and busy year. I have thoroughly enjoyed several new scents and innovations and I only wish there were ten first places. This top ten then is in no order of preference. These are my ten favourite scent related things that happened in 2015. As far as I’m concerned, they are all joint first.

1. The Perfume Society Discovery Boxes

Never has a postman seen a face light up like mine when these familiar boxes come my way. With around ten hard-to-get samples, carefully curated and with smelling notes too, each Discovery Box is a Treasure Chest. I have them all.

The Perfume Society
The Perfume Society

2. Papillon Salome

It astounds me that Liz Moores is a relative newbie. Every one of her first three début scents were nominated for coveted FiFi awards. Her fourth, Salome, is the kind of stuff Anais Nin would have worn.  It’s dirty, sexy and already smells like a vintage classic.  If this one doesn’t get a FiFi, bloggers and perfume fans will riot in the streets.

salome

3. Aftelier Perfumes.

Dear Mandy Aftel of Aftelier perfumes and I struck up a friendship this year and what an enriching friendship it was turned out to be. Amazingly Mandy uses all natural ingredients and the results are vivid, real and evocative. I’m looking forward to more from Mandy in 2016, and in the meantime, I really recommend the to-die-for Bergamoss EDP and the deliciously cosy Vanilla Smoke.

Mandy Aftel, from www.aftelier.com
Mandy Aftel, from www.aftelier.com

4. 4160 Tuesdays Blooms and Grows

Sarah McCartney keeps innovating without saturating and this year is no different. I am yet to try many of the Crimes of Passion range ( and will soon be putting that right), but one of my favourite things about Sarah is that she makes affordable niche. If you can’t stretch to a full bottle ( and they are priced fairly), there are sample sets and purse sprays which puts high quality artisan niche within everyone’s reach. I like that.

meandsm3

5. Library of Fragrance

This is the second year of my love affair with Library of Fragrance and I think we’re getting serious. With soliflores (Iris, Mango, Orange Blossom), the “quirkies” as I call them ( Rain, Bonfire, Play Doh) and the Whimsicals ( Pixie Dust, Moonbeam, Sunshine), Library of Fragrance continues to give me what I want. I can wear them alone, I can blend and I can find that favourite note that I only like on its own. Prices are very reasonable and longevity goes far beyond its cologne label. Happy to see purse sprays now as well!

lof b and m

6. Pell Wall Perfumes

2015 was the year I discovered Pell Wall Perfumes. Chris Bartlett is an indie perfumer who sells good honest scent that he created himself. It’s quality stuff with a nod to vintage classics as well as a flair for staying modern. I’ve had fun discovering how versatile this brand is: violets in Deep Purple, leather in Sticky Leather Sky, rose in Pretty in Pink. Discovery Sets and a good sample service make Pell Wall user friendly. Chris gets a firm handshake from this blog.

Discover-Pell-Wall-Box-web-500x719

7. Lidl

Lidl’s Suddenly Madame Glamour is a well known, shall we say, “homage” to Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, but did you know they have also launched Suddenly Woman which smells like Chanel No 5? or Suddenly Diamonds which smells like Boss Orange? Or Xbolt that smells like Hugo Boss Bottled? Big companies hate this, but I like that they’ve put scent within the reach of the most parsimonious shopper.  Whilst you’re there chuck in some Tiramisu ice cream if they’ve got it.

lidl

8. Retro Returns

I’m talking about the joy of seeing Aqua Manda, Aqua Citra and Goya Black Rose again. Babe and Tribe are back. Yardley repackaged their timeless soliflores as Contemporary Classics (I’ve bought three bottles) I’m also talking about the fact that Geminesse, Lutece, Raffinee and Moon Drops are marching back too Watch this space. Further developments may well end up in 2016 Top Ten too.

Goya-Black-Rose-Feature (1)

9. Miller Harris Jardin D’Enfance Range

The Miller Harris Jardin D’Enfance range brings back the endless summers I spent making mud pies and eating blackberries in the 1970s. Miller Harris has made an evocative capsule collection of three fabulous fragrances, my favourite of which is Coeur de Jardin.

millerharris jardin denfance

10. Friedemodin

A capsule range created by Nina Freide and Elisabeth Modin, the Freidemodin range is ethereal, delicate and beautiful. I especially adore Vertine and Rosee de Nuit. I’m exscited to see what Freidemodin comes out with next. You can find them in Harvey Nichols.

logo (1)jardin mystique

Happy New year everyone! I really value your kind loyalty and readership.

sam hat

Mandy Aftel: Aftelier Bergamoss EDP Limited Edition (2015)

bergamoss edp

You may recall my recent review of Bergamoss solid perfume from the lovely Mandy Aftel. Well dear Mandy has now launched Bergamoss as an eau de parfum. To say it works well is a understatement.

Bergamoss is an unusual green chypre in that it is delightfully spiky and refreshing in summer but rich enough to be perfect for winter too. It’s hard to do but as usual, Mandy has pulled it off, and amazingly, by using only natural ingredients too.

Bergamoss opens with lime juice so fresh it makes your nose tingle. It’s as fresh and immediate as if you’ve just sliced into the lime that very minute. With the subtle sweetness of a peach giving this a pretty face, the nutmeg and herbs take over giving this a slightly savoury bite with a mossy finish. I find the notes jump out at me more in this liquid form. The solid Bergamoss has the same notes but the nuances emerge at different times. The EDP spray has more of an immediate impact. The base notes have a delightful thick greenery, although I didn’t quite catch the civet- you may find it, but I did not. This does not mean it isn’t there- I often find civet where there is none and fail to find it when it’s there.

As much as I loved the solid Bergamoss (and how I long for more solid perfumes!) I found the EDP pleased my need for instant gratification. Longevity is the same, but the EDP is slightly louder. My advice is buy both. The solid is perfect for inoffensive office wear and commuter train etiquette. The EDP is when you want to take Bergamoss out on the road and see what it can do.

Green chypres are my favourite type of scent and Bergamoss is up there with the greats.

Stockists

NB Whilst Bergamoss solids are now a long term Aftelier item, the EDP is only available until Valentine’s Day. All Aftelier scent can be ordered from the Aftelier website. With warmest thanks to Mandy for sending this to me.

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Aftelier Bergamoss: Mandy Aftel’s New Solid Perfume

SOLID-Bergamoss-1

 

I was recently sent a sample of Mandy Aftel’s new solid chypre “Bergamoss” from the delightful Mandy herself, who is a pleasure to deal with and has no qualms about Fedexing stuff from sunny California to overcast Wales to my eagerly awaiting mitts.

Funnily enough, Lisa Wordbird and I were recently lamenting the lack of solid perfumes these days, with Lisa making the very valid point that you can usually get them past customs when taking fragrance on holiday. There is a nostalgia about them too, and I guess I’ve never grown out of the novelty of having an Avon Daisy shaped brooch that concealed  a solid perfume wayyyy back in the 1970s when I just a slip of a girl.

berg

So I love solid perfume, I love chypres and I love Bergamot. What could possibly go wrong? Nothing at all.  It’s wonderful.

Bergamoss initially threw me a little because it was so remarkably refreshing.  I don’t know about you, but as much I love my chypres, I don’t always expect them to go zing! But this one does.  I had all these questions coming out of my head like a cartoon: Is that lemon grass? Are there herbs in this? Why does it smell so zingy?  Well as you know, Mandy navigates the tricky world of making all-natural perfumes so when she uses Bergamot, it’s the real deal, hence the sharpness of the citrussy opening.  This beds down into something greener and more complex and I find myself wearing a beautiful summer chypre.

Yes this is a refreshingly green and pleasant warm weather chypre which, rather than being mossy and rich and decadent ( i.e the types of chypres I am used to)  it is spicy, tangy and green.  It reminded me in fact of lemon grass, which manages to be both delicate and strong at the same time.  Although beautifully blended, you can smell that these ingredients are natural. There’s no whiff of synthetics and no hint of everything being sanitised for the modern palate.  This is earthy, beautiful and bangs its own drum.  I give it ten out of ten.

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Longevity initially confused me.  Once you put this on you don’t smell it in the same way as if you’ve just sprayed yourself liberally, it’s more close to skin, but catching little wafts of it as I go about my day made me realise that even if I can’t smell it (at least not without sniffing my skin), it is very much there and this reassures me that others can smell it too.

I got around five hours of pleasant wafts, and not much after that, but the beauty of applying  a solid perfume is that you don’t offend anyone.  Imagine someone sitting on a train or in an office and having a good few squirts of their usual EDP.  They’d get looks and possibly tuts (In Britain, that’s actually warfare).  Imagine applying a solid perfume to behind your ears and neck- not a mutter from anyone, just a pleasant subtle waft that gradually floats up in a very inoffensive “Don’t mind me” sort of way, whilst at the same time, allowing you to smell how you want for the day.

As you can see from the photos, Mandy can decant the solid scents she makes into the most beautiful antique compacts, and you can rest assured that Mandy uses pure ingredients such as organic beeswax and jojoba to make them invisibly spreadable.

Stockists

You can buy all Afterlier products from Mandy’s website, which also gives you an insight into the work she carries out.  Thank you Mandy for my beautiful sample! ( Opinions are my own)

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