Look at that! Two Marks and Spencer reviews in two days. As you may gather, I didn’t leave empty handed yesterday. I came away with a tiny 15ml bottle of Rosie for Autograph Summer Rose.
Rosie Huntingdon Whitely is the face of many M&S lines, namely her lingerie and make-up range. In 2015, the first scent, Rosie for Autograph, was launched, and jolly good it was too. You can read my review here. I’ve recently run out and need another one. It’s a fabulous centifolia rose scent. After that, came Rosie for Autograph Nuit (which I haven’t tried) and in summer 2106, the latest flanker Summer Rose was launched, which is what I’m reviewing today.
Summer Rose opens with pear and blackcurrant which hooks up with the sandalwood straight away. I’m afraid I got a few whiffs of pencil shavings before this settles down, but no matter, that phase didn’t last long.
The middle is all about the heady jasmine sambac,: a highly popular ingredient lately which appears in many bestsellers. If you read between the lines, you may see me roll my eyes (it’s in everything right now!). There are roses which are fairly prominent, and lily of the valley, which I couldn’t pick up at all- shame, because lily of the valley is one of my favourite notes.
The grand finale still has pear, roses, a bit of woody stuff and some heady jasmine. In a blind test, I would have said this was peony and patchouli, which gives you some idea of how it comes across. Even if the notes don’t match. This is of course, subjective- you may have a different experience.
Summer Rose is pretty and light and will be a big crowd pleaser. I applaud the availability of 10ml and 15ml bottles in Marks and Spencer. It puts perfume treats within everyone’s reach and it’s a great way of testing a scent before committing to a full bottle. The rest of the perfume department is pretty good too: check out the Monotheme range, the Fragonard and the Roger & Gallet.
Stockists You can buy Rosie for Autograph Summer Rose instore or online. It’s exclusively stocked at Marks and Spencer. A 30ml bottle is just £14 and makes a great gift.
My dear Avon Lady Jill gave me a little perfume sample when she dropped off a late item yesterday. I’m used to this now- Avon launches wide and often, which is fine by me. However, when Jill said “This one’s called Imari” I stopped in my tracks. “Just a minute,” I thought, “that one’s only available in the USA.”
Dear reader, and fellow Avon fan (probably if you’re reading this) it is true. Imari is coming to the UK.
This has got me very excited because if they can bring Imari to us, then what else can they do? I have always thought that if Avon did a heritage range of old favourites, then the people in my age group, i.e. late forties (but we look younger) would snap them up before you could say Foxfire. Dare I hope for Eau Givree? For Odyssey? For Charisma? My wishes are not impossible dreams. They did after all, bring Timeless back when customer clamour deafened, and jolly good it is too.
But did you know for instance, that the USA Avon brochure has Sweet Honesty, Odyseey, Candid and Night Magic? Dare I hope we’re getting them too over here in the UK?
So what’s Imari like?
Well it opens with citrus for a clean, bright opening. There’s a nice bit of soapy aldehydes in the beginning, before this lurches into rose and patchouli territory, with some big noticeable white flower notes. It’s all rounded off with a bit of musk, incense and amber. Despite calling itself a chypre, this lacks the mossy note that qualifies it as one, but I’m not going to nit-pick, because I want more. There is a touch of vanilla in the finish, but its warm and cosy rather than sweet and cakey.
Avon has a particular talent for channelling into what’s hot on the high street and providing its own, more affordable take on current trends. What delights me about this one is that Avon is looking beyond its younger demographic. After all, they have all the vanilla and fruity florals and praline combos they could ever dream of. What joy then, to get something for me and my tribe of fellow grand dames of a certain age (but look younger). Imari was originally created in 1985, and we know how great all those fragrances were.
Avon Imari will be in the next brochure and you can queue behind me if you like. It won’t be expensive. Avon UK, if you’re reading this, please bring the others over too!
Over the past few years, I’ve encountered many people who wouldn’t dream of trying or buying a celebrity fragrance. Either the quality is in doubt or they don’t consider themselves a fan of said celebrity. In fact, a Twitter user even asked me why I wanted to smell like JLo, which is hugely missing the point.
My only problem with celebrity fragrances is that they keep getting discontinued. Out of my favourites from just three years ago, around six are impossible to get now. The rumour on the grapevine is that celeb fragrances are on the way out, or at least on the way down, and I have mixed feelings about this. Firstly, if all celeb fragrances were of the fruity floral fruitichoulil smellalike genre that so many were, then fine. See ya. No problem here. However, celebrity fragrances are like jumble sales. Some of it looks a bit same old same old, but when you rummage, you unearth gold and treasure.
The other great thing about celebrity fragrances is that they are not expensive. They’re competing with other celebrity fragrances which are also not expensive, so they can’t risk sky high prices. That’s not their demographic. Oh, and don’t forget that the celebrity doesn’t actually make them.
Celeb fragrances are made by respected houses such as Givauden, Coty and Elizabeth Arden. Some of the most respected noses in the business create the fragrances you see on the shelves. Caroline Sabas, who created Britney Spears Midnight Fantasy, Rihanna Reb’l Fleur and JLo Glowing also created Calvin Klein Downtown and Elizabeth Arden White Tea. Meanwhile, Steve Demercado, who created the superb Fancy Nights for Jessica Simpson, Queen for Queen Latifah and Paris Hilton Tease, is also responsible for Calvin Klein Escape and Marc Jacobs For Women.
So if you ever visualised Beyoncé in a lab coat with a pipette moaning about the price of orris butter, you can rest easy that her fragrances are actually made by experts.
What follows below is an up-to-date, up-to-the minute round up of celebrity fragrances that you can definitely easily buy at the moment at the time of going to press, I promise. Some are old faithfuls that have been around a while, and show no signs of leaving, and some are new. All of them are jolly good, at least in my opinion.
Sarah Jessica Parker Stash SJP
This is my number one favourite. SJP is rare in that she is deeply involved in the scents she creates and her own tastes influence what she launches. In the case of Stash, I applaud her for taking a risk. This smoky sandalwood and incense treat was never going to be a mass market crowd pleaser, but critics and fumeheads love it, as do I. Here’s my review and here’s where you can buy it.
Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely
I wear this regularly and now that my 100ml bottle is going down, I’m looking to replace it. It suits just about everyone and to me, it has a wonderful 50s retro feel. You can read my review here. Many compare it to Narciso Rodriguez For Her. You can buy Lovely in many places at varying prices. I bought mine from here.
A wonderfully clean scent that reminds me of freshly washed hair and clean laundry. It lasts for ages too. Launched in 2002, this shows no sign of going anyway and has become a classic for good reason. You can buy it here.
Britney Spears Curious
This was launched way back in ’04, which is a long time ago in the perfume universe.. I complimented a friend on this and asked her what she was wearing. I was surprised when I found out it was Britney Curious as I’d written it off as mass market teen queen fodder. Its use of magnolia and pear sets it apart from the usual pink sugary fruity florals and it has a lovely light feel to it with no stickiness. Extra points for the beautiful blue glass bottle, and if you can get one with the puffy squeezy atomiser, even better. You can buy it here.
Rogue made an impact on me because it didn’t go in the obvious direction that it could have. I t could have gone all pink pepper and red berries and vanilla, but it didn’t. In fact, it reminded me of Serge Lutens Daim Blond, which is all about the unusual but genius combination of suede and apricots. Here’s my review of Rogue and here’s where you can buy it.
Rihanna Reb’l Fleur
I have a full 100ml bottle of this. I wouldn’t normally have thought of buying it, but my dear brother picked it out for me himself for my birthday. I was so touched. I hardly ever get perfume as a gift (violins!) and I was delighted to get this whopper. Reb’l Fleur is a heavy hitting, patchouli rich fruity floral with a hit of coconut and vanilla. Sillage is massive and longevity huge. Two sprays in the morning and you’ll be sorted till tea time. You can buy it here.
Celine Dion Sensational
By a happy turn of fate, I stumbled across this in my local Lloyds Pharmacy when I was picking up my husband’s prescription. There was a tester at the till and it was on special offer at 9.99. I didn’t buy it that day, and when I went back, it was gone. However, I fell in love with it. It lasted at least seven hours and was a delicious melange of pear, plum, freesia, lily of the valley and violet. It opens like a juicy tropical fruit scent and segues into a stunning musky floral. The nose behind it is the legendary Maurice Roucel. This one is at the top of my Wanted list. You can buy it here.
Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds
This opens like an aldehyde and ends like a chypre. Full of old school Hollywood glamour, this is bursting with all the rich white flowers: tuberose, jasmine, neroli. It’s not really one for the young palate of today, but as a fan of classic chypres and big eighties sillage, this is right up my street. It’s cheap as chips and widely available. Round of applause for the diamante choker round its neck. You can buy it here.
9. Adam Levine For Her
This is a real gem that often goes under the radar. Lisa Jones let me borrow her bottle and I was very impressed. This comes in a smart white box in a bottle that’s shaped like a microphone. This is a woody, slightly spicy scent with a long, langorous sandalwood base. It is so cheap I was suspicious, but I can vouch for its fabulousness. Plus you know, Adam Levine. Cor. You can read my review here and buy it from here for less than ten quid. Oh, and it’s totally unisex, so ignore the “For Her” label.
Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights
This has featured on my previous best celeb scents list and it qualifies for this one because it is still available and still cheap. It has patchouli, papyrus and amber, and many say that it is a dead ringer for Prada Amber ( and it is!). Still available on Amazon for under £20 for a big bottle. Here’s my review.
The ones I miss
The following celeb fragrances are either available but three times the price they were, or impossible to find. Reader, I mourn them: JLo Deseo, Hilary Duff with Love, Sarah Jessica Parker The Lovely Collection- Dawn, Endless and Twilight, Queen by Queen Latifah, Manifesto by Isabella Rossellini.
The ones I want to try
Antonio Banderas’s vast range (he has been launching scent since 1997), Drew Barrymore’s new ones, Joan Collins’ new ones for Marks and Spencer, Sofia by Sofia Vergara and Elizabeth Taylor Gardenia and Passion, which I still haven’t tried.
How about you?
What celebrity fragrances do you like to wear? Which ones do you miss? Which do you want to try? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
When I need a floral that does what it says it will do, I go to Yardley. They don’t add vanilla and caramel and syrup: they showcase the flower and add a few notes that enhance it. I already have Yardley English Rose, Yardley April Violets, Yardley English Bluebell and Yardley English Lavender in my collection. They are brilliant alone or layered over other scent that you want to “flower-up.”
Freesia is a naturally light spring time flower, and is often hard to pin down in a fragrance. However, the addition of a chorus of stars makes this an all singing floral treat.
English Freesia opens with, as you might guess, freesia but this is surrounded by refreshing eau de cologne style citrus notes. There’s bergamot, lemon and mandarin as well as a touch of lavender, giving this a unisex appeal, although I am yet to persuade my husband that wearing freesia to the office is a good idea.
The middle notes carry spicy ginger and pepper. You might not think they would go, but actually the ginger goes particularly well with the freesia, helping this airy fairy note to stay grounded.
The base is both woody and floral, although I wouldn’t really call it sandalwood. The mandarins are still there at the end, as is the ginger. All in all, this opens as a citrus, segues into a spicy floral, and beds down into a combination of the two. Longevity wasn’t as good as I might have liked, but I have ways of making it last ( sleeves, hair, lapels, moisturised skin).
For the price, this is a steal. I will probably buy a bottle to add it to the Yardley bouquet on my dressing table.
Have you ever heard the saying “snug as a bug in a rug”? My parents used to say it when I was growing up and I wondered if it was just me. The phrase seems very fitting for today’s blog post.
There I was, sipping my tea and wondering what to blog about on International Tea Day, when the penny dropped. I realised that our friends at The Library of Fragrance really, actually DO have a scent for every occasion. They very kindly sent me a bottle of Chai Tea last week and reader, I can report that it is rather lovely.
Suitable for men or women, and equally good on both, Library of Fragrance Chai Tea combines the seemingly incongruous mix of spices and milk. Despite the strength and variety of the spices, this never borders on the Oriental, despite the presence of cloves, cinamon, star anise, and even paprika. It’s more of a gourmand scent than anything, but stops short of being too sweet or cakey.
What I like best about this is that the aromatic qualities of cloves, cardoman and ginger are all present and correct but they somehow add an airy green tea feel. Think inviting spa treatment rooms rather than the spice rack in your kitchen.
This is a lightly aromatic scent that never borders on the heavy. It smells therapeutic and uplifting, whilst retaining that hint of cosy at the same time. This fragrance is perfect hygge material. Whack the heating to “Code Sauna” aaaand Netflix and Chill. No need to go out. You’re hibernating now.
You can buy Library of Fragrance Chai Tea from the Library of Fragrance website. Branches of Boots also carry a varied selection of Library of Fragrance scents.
Photo of my bottle of Chai Tea is my own, taken next to my favourite mug ( it really looks like my cat, Ian). Photo of Chai Tea ingredients from Houseboateats.com. My bottle was kindly sent to me by the Library of Fragrance PR team, for which, warm thanks. Opinions are my own.
I was recently sent two fragrances from Milton Lloyd to see what I thought. What I thought was “Wow” and “Crikey! Major sillage!” so I thought I’d share my opinion with you, my lovely readers. Perfumer’s Choice Chosen By Valerie is from a range of very reasonably priced fragrances made by World Class Perfumes, who also own Milton Lloyd and Taylor of London. I have reviewed four of them before and all were very good with great longevity. The two new ones are Valerie (being reviewed today) and Victor, which is also excellent. All Perfumer’s Choices fragrances are guaranteed to last a minimum of six hours, making these excellent value.
If you are of a delicate disposition, you may need to take a back seat for this one, because it’s LOUD and BIG. At first spray, there are big white flowers, lots of vanilla and a sledgehammer of patchouli. Now if this all sounds too much for first thing is the morning, well, that’s because it probably is. However, for the evening, this is an absolute must. One or two squirts will comfortably see you through until morning. After the big white petals of the top notes subside ( I reckon jasmine and orange blossom are in cahoots), you get a strong whiff of espresso coffee.
This works very well with the vanilla and takes this from a rich floral into an even richer patchouli gourmand. In fact, it reminded very much of YSL Black Opium. The coffee, patchouli and vanilla are all there, just like Black Opium. This is not a dupe, however, but I’m certain that if you like Black Opium, then this will suit you down to the ground. At only £14 for an 83ml bottle of EDP, this is great value, and trust me when In tell you that sillage and longevity goes far above and beyond the call of duty.
You can buy Perfumer’s Choice perfume here from the Milton Lloyd website. With thanks to Milton Lloyd for the bottle of this and Perfumer’s Choice Victor, to be reviewed soon. Opinions are my own.
Those nice people at Library of Fragrance recently sent me a selection of their cosiest scents. By cosy, I mean the smells you associate with staying in, wearing fluffy socks, and whacking the heating up to “sauna”. It’s my absolute favourite thing to do in this weather: staying in and being boring. I love it.
The Danish have a word for that cosy feeling of well being you get when all is well in the world and you’re snug as a bug in a rug: Hygge ( pronounced Hoo-GUH). With this in mind, Library of Fragrance has created a range of scents that make perfect Hygge perfume. Cupcake is just one and I shall be reviewing others in the run up to Christmas.
So what does it smell like? Well it’s funny really, because I spent all day making cupcakes yesterday for a guest who didn’t show up (I know, right?) After a day of baking and spooning up butter icing, I sprayed this on my children and asked them what it reminded them of. I love doing this- the results vary from the hilarious to the surreal via the strangely accurate. One had no idea whatsoever because his brain was full of Hype T shirts he “needs” and the other one said “biscuits” which was pretty close.
Library of Fragrance Cupcake doesn’t smell of vanilla cake batter, because they already have one for that, and it does not smell of vanilla ice cream, because they already have one for that too. No, my friends, Library of Fragrance Cupcake actually smells of the crisp, light golden baked top of a cupcake when it’s been cooked somewhere between squishy and crunchy. You know the edges that are almost brown but not quite? It’s like that. In fact, freshly baked crispy biscuits was a pretty close guess. This is a dry, baked scent and very evocative it is too ( I know because I ate the trimmings round the edges yesterday).
There’s vanilla in here, which is just the right amount, and that’s what makes this cosy. It’s also handy if you’ve no time to cook and want your supermarket cupcakes to smell shop bought- I shall be employing this trick next time our No-Show guest arranges a visit.
Vanilla is ideal for winter and I decided to experiment with layering Cupcake over other Library of Fragrance scents. I can report that it is so delicious when coupled with Library of Fragrance Nutmeg Ice Cream that you will want to eat your own arm. I can think of no greater praise!
Library of Fragrance fragrances are available from the Library of Fragrance website. You will also find purse sprays and extra large bottles and very often, fabulous sale items at under £10. You can also find a selection of Library of Fragrance scent on the High Street exclusively at Boots. My bottle was provided by Library of Fragrance in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own.
It’s Autumn now, although it’s hard to tell. How do you define it? A run of ten days without sunshine? That’s summer, isn’t it? All I know is that I haven’t worn sandals for over two months now so I reckon it’s safe to say it’s Autumn.
The light colognes and airy florals are going to to sit at the back for a bit whilst I bring out the ambers, patchoulis and chypres. or in the case of La Perla, all three in one bottle.
Luckily enough, my friend Lisa, beloved friend of the blog and of me, popped in recently with a bottle of this beauty. Now this wasn’t on my radar at all. I probably would never have tried it if it hadn’t been put in my hands for a little borrow and a sniff. I’m ever so glad we met though, because this stuff not only smells terrific, but is very good value indeed.
My first impression of La Perla was that it is a ladylike powdery chypre scent. It’s the kind of classic scent that was everywhere in the seventies, although it wasn’t launched until 1987. There’s no subtlety here, so it fits nicely into the category of 1980s Powerhouse too, with its “Gangway! Here I come!” sort of sillage- (Think Alexis Carrington). Even the bottle has helmet hair and big shoulders. Having said that, this has an elegance that doesn’t normally go hand in hand with such a Look At Me scent, but elegant is certainly a word I would use.
My first impression was white soap. Very soapy, very aldehyde-y and with big piles of white talc. Sometimes that powderiness is the sign of a damn good chypre, and it counts for as much here. The oakmoss beds in straight away. Yes there’s a citrussy opening and some peppery carnation and ladylike rose, but the oakmoss shoves its way to the front and makes its presence felt. There is musty patchouli, aromatic sandalwood, feminine soapy musk and warm amber too. Interestingly, none of this happens in order. I didn’t get distinct top notes, a middle and a base. It went more like this: soapy chypre to musky to spicy- all within ten minutes. What I have on my skin now though, is a wonderfully powdery, massive , gorgeous chypre. And it’s under twenty quid.
Douse yourself in La Perla, then wear fake fur, red lipstick, and arch one eyebrow imperiously at everyone you meet. That’s what I want to do, anyway.
La Perla is very good value indeedy- try allbeauty.com for prices that start at just £15.95 for 30ml of EDT (NB I haven’t tried the EDT but it would be a good starting point if you’re unsure about the LOUD SILLAGE). I was testing a 50ml bottle of EDP and the current price for an 80ml bottle of EDP is just £26.
“Who is Adam Levine?” I thought, and “Why is this shaped like a microphone?”
Well, being a middle aged Mum who listens to Elaine Paige’s excellent Radio 2 show, I had to educate myself on Adam Levine when I was handed a bottle of Adam Levine For Her. He’s the lead singer of Maroon 5, has fully embraced yoga and is an outspoken supporter of same sex marriage. In other words, he sounds like he’s just my cup of tea. (NB I can only do three yoga things, but I’ve yet to meet a yoga person I didn’t like.)
Now I’m no snob when it comes to celeb scents: I’m never without Jlo Deseo or Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights or SJP Lovely, but I couldn’t help but wonder what Adam Levine was going to bring to the party.
Well, he has very kindly brought not a fruity floral, not a vanilla cup cake concoction, but a really excellent sandalwood fragrance that impressed me no end. The best thing about it is that it costs under ten quid. With this kind of high class white packaging and a bottle that reminded me of not so much a microphone as a sky scraper, I call this an unexpected delight.
Adam Levine For Her opens with saffron, citrus, marigold and spices. I got green and juicy fig, which always smells like unsweetened sultanas to me. If that sounds like faint praise, it’s not. I love it. Combined with a hint of peppery spice, this was a promising First Act. The drydown gave me a little fright when I had pencil shavings for about three minutes, (when it should be roses and jasmine) but then it righted itself and the musty, musky sandalwood emerged and stayed put for the next few hours. Oh, and then the jasmine and roses turned up, better late than never.
It’s so refreshing when a celebrity scent takes a different path from the blanket best seller genre of the day. This spicy, woody scent is so perfect for cold weather that I’ll be ordering it by the crate come winter. In fact, it’s also pretty good for Wales in August. It’s cardigan weather. Again.
Longevity could be better. I sampled the Eau de Parfum strength and was expecting a little more from it, but it stayed on my sleeve until the next day and smelled wonderful.
Big thanks to Lisa Wordbird, who loaned me her bottle for review purposes.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Library of Fragrance really do have a scent for every occasion. Yes, even Wimbledon. Those nice people at Library of Fragrance kindly sent me a trio of Wimbledon themed scents to see what I thought of them. I’m not easily bribed unless it’s Scottish Butter Tablet*, so opinions really are my own.
Strawberries and Cream
What could be more English, more Wimbledon-y than strawberries and Cream? Well yes, umbrellas, but apart from that, strawberries and cream are so much a part of Wimbledon that everyone takes extra strawberry money with them, even if they don’t like strawberries. Library of Fragrance Strawberries and Cream smells utterly delicious. It’s not sticky, like some overly fruity scents, it’s more aromatic and retro, with that lovely scent of a fresh strawberry, clear as day. It then goes into a slight waxiness, like expensive candles, which I rather liked. The cream note tones down the sweetness of the strawberries and stops them getting above themselves.
Now here’s an interesting experiment that I did with my sons, age 6 and 9. In a blind test, they said this smells like “candy floss,””marshmallows” and “sweets”. It does, but if you, like me, step away from candy fragrances, then give this one a try. I too am a candy dodger, but I loved this one.
Fans of Library of Fragrance Grass will find much to like here. Whereas Grass smells sweeter, like a green meadow, Grass Court is a little sharper and greener, more like cut grass. There’s a sharp, almost citrussy note at the heart of this, that keeps it fresh and cologne-like. It’s perfect for a hot summer day. If you like green scents, you’d be hard pushed to find greener than this.
You didn’t misread me. That’s right, there’s a fragrance called New Balls. You see, this is what I like about Library of Fragrance. Fragrance isn’t always about what you want to smell like. Often it’s about what you want to smell. Fourteen year old blogger Catherine Talbot wanted to smell the scent of a newly opened tube of tennis balls, and her wish was granted. Never afraid of a bit of “quirk” (This is the company who make Pizza and Play Doh scent, remember), Library of Fragrance duly produced New Balls.
As you would imagine, there is rubber, but to my nose there is also honey. It smells a bit like a pillow that has dried saliva on it. This is not necessarily a horrible smell. My sons’s pillows get sniffed by me when they are not around and I rather like it. It reminds me of babies’ cheeks. So make of that what you will: rubber, honey and babies cheeks.
*Scottish Butter Tablet would make a nice fragrance. Just sayin’ (hint, hint)