Tag Archives: best High Street fragrance

A Fragrance Evolution: Katy Perry’s Indi eau de parfum

katy perry indi bottle

Reviewing Katy Perry Indi was a case of “forget what you think you know.”  I think of Katy Perry as the gorgeous and talented Teen Queen who sings catchy pop like no-one else. Her fragrances are cute and funny and have a wry grandeur, all done with a wink of irony.  So when I heard she had a new one coming out, I thought, I’ll pass thanks. It’s probably like her other stuff: on trend but not my bag.

katy perry indi peopleBoy, was I wrong. For a minute, there I’d forgotten that she’d shaved her head and done a studio album. Change of image, much? You bet. Indi is outstanding.

From Killer Queen to Meow and Katy Perry’s Mad Potion, Katy Perry’s fragrance range has taken a U Turn. Gone are the flashy,playful bottles with oodles of bling. In comes the simple black and white pillar bottle for Indi.  It celebrates individuality, which in these troubled times, is a much-needed hand of compassion and acceptance, and I’m all for it.

Katy Perry collage

 

So what does it smell like? Well it doesn’t smell like your run of the mill celebrity High Street scent, that’s for sure.

Top notes: Plum, tea, bergamot.

Middle notes: cyclamen, lily of the valley, cedar

Base notes: tonka, amber, musk, musk, musk etc

The combination of plum and tea gave me  a milky, sultana, figgy vibe, and although this alleges to have cyclamen and lily of the valley in, I could only detect a generic musky “pink” flower- could well be cyclamen.  It’s not a note I know well. katy perry ini fragrantica  The base is where the musk comes in:  musk, musk, musk. Musk is a bit like vanilla in that it covers a vast spectrum within its category, and this is certainly the case here.

It’s not dirty musk, nor leathery musk, nor sexy inner thigh musk, but an ever-changing musk, at least on my skin. On me this  musk smells clean, then chalky, then figgy, then patchouli-like, then earthy, then slightly mossy, then floral.  It lasts hours and hours.  It’s a beautiful chameleon of a scent and smells like it costs about four times the price.

Indi is of course, without gender. Nowhere will you find “For Men” or “For Women” and hurrah for that. My motto is, and always will be, if it smells good, wear it. Labels don’t matter.

Indi celebrates individuality and I salute this superb fragrance.

Katy Perry from KatyPerry.com
Katy Perry from KatyPerry.com

Stockists

You can buy Indi from Superdrug– which seems to have the monopoly on it at the moment.  Pop along and test it- I am sure you won’t be sorry. Prices start at £28 for 50ml. I bought mine and opinions are my own.

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Welcome to MoodScent 4! In the Mood for Mainstream Scent

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We are four perfume bloggers based in France, Holland, England and Wales who post on a different joint subject every couple of months. This time we have chosen Mainstream perfumes. You will find links to the other blogs at the end of the post. We hope you have fun reading our different choices and adding your own selection in the comments.

Now, doing this was fun, as it always is, but this particular theme had a touch of serendipity about for me. There I was racking my brains on what to write about and idling fiddling with the bottles on my dressing table. and the answer was right in front of me. I picked up five of my most reached for bottles and realized they are all mainstream scents bought from my local shopping centre.  So here are five fragrances that I bought from the High Street in my local medium sized town in South Wales. In other words, if I can find them, then you’ll definitely be able to.  PS  By a happy coincidence, they are all really cheap.

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First by Van Cleef and Arpels

first by van cleefOur love story began when I obtained a mini bottle of this in a set from Argos.  It was true love and I was in full bottle territory shortly afterwards.  This is the one I reach for when I want to feel grounded.  In other words, it’s the nearest thing I have to a signature scent.

It unfolds from sophisticated aldehyde down to big peppery florals and ends in a mossy flourish. The genius behind it is none other than Jean Claude Ellena.  A 60ml bottle of the eau de parfum is under £30, which I call outstanding value for money.

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Coty L’Aimant

laimant bottl;eAnother classic that I wear for comfort and when I want to feel like my old self.  It was created in 1927, on the coat tails of Chanel No 5 and was made in the same style.  L’Aimant was the signature scent of my late grandmother, who was always such a lady.  It’s a stunning scent and the parfum de toilette is plenty strong enough.  I wasn’t so keen on the cologne though.

L’Aimant opens with aldehydes and peaches and travels through a middle phase of all the best flowers: geranium, roses and jasmine. They segue seamlessly into the woody vetiver base with a dusty, powdery flourish that speaks of decades of class and untouched perfection. I still keep thinking the price is a joke, but it’s not, and neither is this excellent classic.

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Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely.

I feel very strongly about SJP Lovely. It is my response to people who say they would never wear celebrity perfume and that cheap perfume doesn’t  smell good.  Lovely ticks both boxes. It’s a superb fragrance that I wear often. It’s long lasting and classy and the price is so low for quality of this calibre.

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I was introduced to this by my dear friend and shameless perfume enabler Lisa Jones. She said she wore it for the school run, you know, those moments when you notice the time, grab a bottle of what goes with everything and run out of the house. Within days of trying her bottle, I had my own 100ml bottle. It was one of those  fragrances.

Lovely is described as a silky white amber, but it’s so much more.  It opens with lavender and apple martini (don’t ask me!)  and orchid, which I don’t usually like.  The whole thing morphs into a feminine, pretty floral, but as soon as that’s registered, it becomes woody and gets a bit of texture from the patchouli.   Rounded off with amber and white musk, this is a stunning floral with an earthy, warm finish.  I just love the lavender in it that keeps it so ladylike and timeless.

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Lovely has outrun many celebrity fragrances and is regarded by many critics as  being excellent in its own right.  What makes me love it even more is that SJP herself was involved on every level and had very definite ideas about what she wanted. This was no mere “sign-here” deal.  She got in the way and rolled her sleeves up.

Having said that, credit must go tothe talented noses who actually made it- Laurent le Guernec and Clement Gavarrry for Coty.

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Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps

lairdutempsLike L’Aimant and First, this is a scent that will always be on my dressing table. There’s nothing like it, and that’s hard to find these days in a busy and often generic market. L’Air du Temps was created in 1948 and the dove on the bottle is the dove of peace in the turbulent post war period.

The scent is so familiar to me that it’s almost hard to deconstruct. It’s a gentle, luminous floral that also has peppery carnation, roses, jasmine, violet, a hint of talc and a warm mossy, woody amber finish.

Listing the notes does nothing to do it justice.  If you’ve never tried it, you must, and if you have, then I’m sure you’ll know why I love it so. Nothing the brand has done since has ever beaten this.

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Library of Fragrance

lof scentsLibrary of Fragrance really, absolutely and truly does have a scent for every occasion. It’s a brand that has a friendly, playful image, yet provides serious quality perfume. It is ideal for building a scent wardrobe and learning to layer fragrance, or just for pinning down that nostalgic note you couldn’t put your finger on until now. My recommendations are Musk # 7, Mahogany, Play Doh (see my love for it here), Salt Air, Rain, Snow, Grass, Orange Flower, Four Leaf Clover, Gingerbread and Myrrh.  Some of friends collect them and they look fabulous in the bathroom with their pharmacy style silver lid bottles.

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Cacharel LouLou

loulouLouLou has a special place in my heart.  This was the scent I was wearing when I  was catapulted into adult life from home to university back in 1988.  Everything I did for three years smelled of this.  I still have a bottle of this intriguing anise, plum, patchouli, oriental floral that pays homage to silent movie star Louise Brooks.  I’m certain it doesn’t smell as it did, though  Today’s version smells thinner and more metallic. I remember it was earthier and had a deeper resonance back in the 80s.   Like all of us, it was best in its youth, but spraying this into the air takes me back to  goth nightclubs, red wine, red lipstick and cigarette smoke faster than a time machine could.

It remains remarkably low priced and I adore the Art Deco bottle and  stylised flowers on the box.  I have a soft spot for all the Cacharel range, especially Noa and Anais Anais.

My Mood Scent 4 Chums

Find out what my Mood Scent colleagues put in their round ups.  Read what their thoughts on mainstream scents are from the links below:

  • Tara on A Bottled Rose (representing England) and
  • Esperanza in the Netherlands with her blog L’Esperessence,
  • and last but not least, the lovely Megan, who came up with this idea and brought us all together. Megan is based in France and you can read her blog MeganinSainteMaxime here.

Over to you

What’s your favourite High Street or main stream fragrance? Is there one you’ll never be without? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

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BeFunky Collage

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

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

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

aura bottle parfumo net
Photo by profumo.net

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

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

Photo by Mugler.Fr
Photo by Mugler.Fr

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

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

photo from Fragrantica
photo from Fragrantica

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

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

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

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

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

Stockists

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

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Flower by Kenzo: A True Modern Classic

kenzo flower

Flower by Kenzo just hasn’t been on my radar until I opened my Modern Classics Discovery Box from The Perfume Society. You know when something is so familiar that you don’t notice it anymore?  Well that must be why I didn’t actually know what Flower by Kenzo smelled like until now.  I see it everywhere and yet I pass by.  Now I’ve finally taken time to stop and smell the Flower (sorry) What a revelation!

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Flower by Kenzo opens with light citrus notes and atouch of herby hawthorn that beds down into soft violet and roses.  Now, you might be thinking YSL Paris when you hear violet and roses,  but this is more like very expensive luxury thrice milled talc.  There is a deliciously clean powdery note that has what can only be called a “fluffiness” about it.  It evoked memories of those talcum puffs I used to buy my late grandmothers- you know, a marabou puff in a little round box or tin.  Gorgeousness.

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The flowers in Flower by Kenzo are present but subdued, as if being inhaled through a diaphanous white veil.  The base has a faint spice thanks to the frankincense, but even that’s a mere puff and a wisp. The overriding finish is one of powdery white musk with a hint of violets. This is the ultimate perfect day time scent.  In fact, my dear teacher friend Janet (she’ll laugh when she sees this) wears this to work and I can’t think of a nicer way to scent a classroom.  This iscomforting, pure, and makes you smell as if you come from a good home with fluffy towels and clean laundry.

Flower by Kenzo is indeed a Modern Classic.  It suits all ages and would also make a great first perfume for a young fragrance rookie.

Stockists

Kenzo Flower is widely available.  Try allbeauty.com or John Lewis. Alternatively, you will find a sample in The Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box like wot I did.

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The Body Shop Black Musk

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Today I tried Black Musk in my local Body Shop. I’ve always been a fan of The Body Shop White Musk and consider it a staple in my fragrance wardrobe. There have been several brave flankers, but I still rate the original as the best. After trying Black Musk today, nothing changed that view.

Black Musk opens with a tang of fruit: the red berry like pink pepper was super strength and combined as it was with pear and vanilla, I was not impressed. In fact this reminded me a little of Clinique Aromatics in Black ( overall consensus: meh). Black Musk did improve however, and as it morphed into something reasonable I noticed some pleasant sandalwood and vetiver.

The base notes were recognizably a relative of White Musk, and if it had just been wrapped in the vetiver and sandalwood, I would have liked it. But no. There had to be chocolate and vanilla lobbed in at the end. It’s not so bad now it’s really settled. The confectionery has settled to a pleasant background sweetness, tamed by an infinitesimal touch of sober heliotrope. It has a masculine finish in fact, which means little to me as I think that if you like it, ignore the label and slap it on, regardless of gender.

Overall, I’ve yet to find a Body Shop fragrance as classic as White Musk, although I do rate Italian Summer Fig, Atlas Mountain Rose, Fijian Water Lotus and Honeymania. I don’t seem to be able to write any Body Shop review without mourning the Body Shop of the 80s and 90s. Oh Perfume Bar, how I long for you!

Stockists

You can buys Black Musk online or try it in store. I have noticed that they do lots more special offers online so you might like to try in the shop then buy from the website.

The Body Shop Fijian Water Lotus.

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Fijian Water Lotus is the latest addition to the Body Shop’s excellent Voyage Collection, two of which I have reviewed elsewhere on this blog.  Today I treated myself to a little £5 for 10ml bottle of Fijian Water Lotus (for which, bravo Body Shop for offering affordable purse sprays!).

As the name suggests, this is an aquatic/ozonic sort of affair, which would please fans of say, L’Eau D’Issey by Issey Miyake or Marks and Spencer Isis. It is full of sea notes, though without the salt, and the zinginess is maintained with sharp mandarin and lemony blossom (litsea cubeba if you must). It is often hard to maintain that “fraiche” accord for more than a top note presence, but here it is achieved successfully, although after two or three hours it does bed down into a very clean basket of laundry.  I must add that if anyone’s laundry smelled this good, I would be asking for the name of their fabric softener.

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In the latter stages, Fijian Water Lotus still maintains a blue image that makes me think of crashing waves and blue skies, and the citrus is still there, but don’t expect astringency to hang around for the entire show.  All in all, this is a great summer scent and I foresee several Body Shop Oceanus fans coming out of retirement to purchase this.  It’s not quite Oceanus, but it sure does tick all those sea spray/ crest of a wave/ ozonic boxes that feel just right on a sunny day.

Not QUITE Oceanus
Not QUITE Oceanus

Stockists

Available from the Body Shop online or in store starting at £5 for a 10ml purse spray and rising to £16 for 100ml EDP.  There are lots of nice ancillary products to match too if you want to do layering.

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Nina by Nina Ricci

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I love Nina Ricci for making L’Air du Temps.  I will always have a bottle in my scent wardrobe and if they never make anything again of that calibre, I will still love Nina Ricci just for that.

Nina by Nina Ricci is not of the same calibre as L’Air du Temps, but it’s not a bad little scent at all.  I wore it for three days before writing this since at the end of Day One I changed my mind about it.

Initially I was going to mark this down as another fruity floral and review it as such, but then, if I can say such a thing, I listened to my nose, if that makes sense.  If you’re reading this you’re probably a perfume fan and you probably know exactly what I mean.

Far from being a fruity floral, Nina is in fact a juxtaposition of Lime and Praline that deftly misses smelling like Key Lime Pie.  In fact it was the lime that won me over and got me liking this, and I don’t normally like praline unless it’s in a Thorntons box.

Nina opens with Lime and Lemon, both strong, noticeable and refreshing.  The middle  section is not quite as zesty, but pretty with peony, and crisp with sharp Granny Smith apples.  The praline seems like an unusual add-on, and I would have liked this more without it I think, but it certainly doesn’t ruin a pretty day time scent.  The base is sadly a little cardboardy on me and reminds me of  Delices de Cartier ( see my earlier review). However after a while, a little bit of shy apple and lime peeks through the door again and I get a second shot at longevity.

Like I said it’s not bad and I would squirt it liberally on a hot day just to get those top notes and the early middle phase, but the base isn’t great on me. I don’t hate the praline and I am utterly besotted by the gorgeous bottle. Worth a try. Worth a few tries actually.

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Marks and Spencer Autograph New York

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My local Marks and Spencer branch sadly doesn’t carry Fragonard  or the Lyn Harris range, but I am always quite happy with the affordable selection they have on display, just for me, it seems, since it doesn’t get terribly busy.

Marks and Spencer can hold their heads high when it comes to affordable every day scent. I seem to have accumulated an embarrassing number of purse sprays, thanks to the purse (spray) friendly price tags of around £5 for 10ml.

 Autograph New York stands out from the other pretty daytime florals, and from  Issey Miyake smellalike Isis, because New York simply has more muscles.  It is woodier and muskier and more grown up than the other pretty girls. In reality, New York itself smells nothing like this of course.  My good friend Catherine, who lived there for a decade, describes the smells as “cigarettes, coffee, gasoline”. Maybe a challenge for the realist Demeter house of perfume?

wikipedia.org
wikipedia.org

Top notes are: Bergamot, Gardenia and Apricot. Middle notes: Rose, Jasmine, woods, Base notes: Heliotrope, Vanilla, Sandalwood and Musk. (- Fragrantica)

Straight away, those cosy rich Apricots make their presence felt against the transparent green background of the Bergamot, then the Woods creep in, then the Roses and then the whole thing is rounded off with a neat White Musk and Sandalwood finish.  This stops just short of being spicy, but is on the cusp of being Oriental. Whereas I can’t bear Peaches in scent, Apricots in scent are somehow richer and less sweet, in the same way that a raisin is richer than a grape.

The Gardenia is  a slight disappointment. A glimpse of a petticoat, and it was gone. And I’m not sure it was the real deal. It all looked a bit faux from where I was standing.

What really stands out in the base notes of New York are the Musk, the Woods and the Apricots. The combination leaves this as a perfect day to evening scent, though longevity is related to price.  Being an EDT, and being on the cheap side of cheap (though it doesn’t smell like it) this does need topping up. However they do these handy purse sprays…( see paragraph two above).

It’s kind of a vicious circle, but not one that bothers me too much. It’s cheap and affordable (hooray!), but it doesn’t last long (Boo!), but that’s OK, because it’s cheap and affordable (hooray!) and so on.

However, short lived purse sprays are the instant gratification of perfume and I could do well to learn a lesson I am always teaching my children. Learn to wait.

My problem is that when purse sprays come in pretty boxes and make such lovely treats for under a fiver, I’m never going to get round to affording that Guerlain, am I? It’s a beautiful scented trap. Which doesn’t last long. But that’s OK because it’s cheap and affordable etc …and off we go again.

Incidentally, many people swear this smells like Donna Karan Cashmere Mist. I haven’t smelled it so I can’t vouch for it, but I am outnumbered by those who think so.

 

Ralph Lauren Romance: Perfectly Good and Proper

 

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Wearing Ralph Lauren Romance makes me feel that whilst working the casual vibe, my jeans should be pressed, my T shirt should be white and it’s OK to add pearls.  It’s clean and bright and floral and pretty. It’s wholesome and harmless and you can wear it to meet the in laws for the first time.

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Out of all the bestsellers I have been reviewing lately, I think this one is the one I would be most likely to buy and wear (not counting Chanel No 5 Eau Premiere, which I would own by the gallon if I could).  Some may argue that being the owner of the much cheaper Next Just Pink amounts to the same thing as a bottle of Romance, and there are indeed similarities, but I wouldn’t say no to owning both.

Ralph Lauren Romance opens with  all things nice.  The prettiest of the flowers in the garden are all present and correct especially the delightful Freesia and her friend Rose. This is SO floral and clean smelling at the same time that it reminded me of Estee Lauder Pleasures, another scent I would never turn down. There is a citrus note and the faintest hint of Ginger in the top notes, just enough to anchor down the flowers and stop them  flying away.

The middle notes bring out a little of my old favourite Violet, but sniff once and it’s gone. The flowers in the middle are a little spicier: Carnation and Lily prepare us for the Musky, prickly base.

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The basenotes very much remind me of the exquisite Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely, a bottle that will always be on my dressing table.  Both Lovely and Romance start with flowers, all feminine and pretty, before bedding into a base of Woody Musks and Patchouli.  In fact, this also reminds me of Lanvin Rumeur by St Francis of Kurkdjian, beloved by me but dismissed waspishly by Luca Turin. Both have a base that is so Patchouli and Woody that it almost, but not quite, scratches your nose, and I mean that in a good way. Bring it on.

Overall, Romance has been knocking around since 1998, and is still a steady seller.  Flankers are almost too numerous to name. Shame really, as I always feel that if a good scent has too many flankers, people forget why the original was so good in the first place, so busy are we dodging the “Fraiche” or the “Summer” or the “Night” versions of all the pretty things on the counter.

Romance is reasonably priced at around 25GBP for 30ml. The only hard part is making sure you buy the original and not one of the eight flankers.

 

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