You may recall that I recently reviewed Lynx Urban Daily Tobacco and Amber. I loved it so much I bought my husband one and it smells amazing on him. Also, this way, I can borrow it in winter when the warmth will really bloom on cold skin. It’s a fragrance, not a deodorant by the way. I’d be here for everemore if I started reviewing those.
Today I tried Lynx Urban Daily Iced Musk and Ginger and it was equally good. The Iced Musk in the name makes this sound a more obvious choice in hot weather, and I wasn’t wrong. The musk is subtle white musk and the ginger spices it up in an astringent sort of way, that’s cool like menthol, but with more of a peppery flourish. I can also find a bit of amber in there as it settles and a pale woody finish.
Even in this heat, Iced Musk and Ginger won’t be too much for work wear or the all important commuter test. After three hours, it is subtle, but still there. At 3.95 you can afford a refreshing lunch time top up. Just putting it on felt cooling, like cologne from the fridge.
The Lynx Urban Daily range is a real bargain with classy packaging and a pleasantly non generic take on everyday male fragrance. My husband will be getting all three. And I will be “borrowing” them.
I know, I know! I’ve been doing a perfume blog for three years and never reviewed Shalimar. How can this be allowed? I was getting nervous of the blog police doing a dawn raid on me from crimes against fragblogging, so I thought I’d give it a proper test drive today to avoid arrest.
The reason I haven’t reviewed Shalimar is because I used to think it smelled like Castrol GTX. It was petrolly on me and I didn’t like it. However, Shalimar is a good example of how taste can change. I don’t know if this is an age thing now I’m nearer fifty than forty ( gulp), or if it just comes with wider appreciation. When I started the blog I wore Chanel Cristalle more often than anything. The more perfume I try, the more Oomph I seek and I find myself eschewing the light hesperides I loved, at least until hot weather comes ( remember that? Hot weather? No?) Now I wear Chanel Coco it seemed a logical transition to Shalimar after that.
I tried Guerlain Shalimar EDP today in my local House of Fraser. Immediately there was spice, incense and woods. It was rich and smoky and I went into the posh ladies loos sniffing my wrist like an addict. Once all that settled ( but didn’t leave) I had another sniff. There isn’t a lot of room for the flowers to shine: there is only a mere hint of rose and sober iris. The smokiness was starting to emerge along with the warm vanilla (minus the all too common sugariness. Phew!). By the time I got home this was a smoky, woody vanilla, wrapped in frankincense and sandalwood and I was smitten. Oddly enough, I didn’t get any animalic civet, but that’s just me. I find knicker notes in perfume where there are no knickers to be had and can’t spot civet even if they’re mating noisily under my nose.
Eight hours later and I totally get it. Shalimar has found a new fan for life. It almost seems like a cliché to say this is a classic that will never date, but cliché or not, Shalimar has held its own since its inception in 1925 and I need a bottle of my own as a matter of urgency. My only question is why? Why did I wait so long?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
When Yves Saint Laurent Opium was created, it seemed to make Orientals more mainstream and is still a byword for the genre. Its reputation precedes it: “Nothing heavy please, nothing like Opium or stuff like that” and sometimes I fear it has become platitudinous i.e it is so ubiquitous people don’t even see it any more.
I have avoided reviewing it thus far as I find it hard to train myself to just test one at a time whilst walking through my local House of Fraser, but today I just tried Opium (EDT) and nothing else. (It was tempting though, I had to walk fast past all the other bottles winking at me.)
Despite it being a mild summer’s day, not too hot, not too cold, somehow Opium surprisingly, felt just right. I say surprisingly as I would have thought that Opium was too heavy for summer, but in fact the lightness of the citruses came out like an expensive eau de cologne, with added spice and extra staying power. I find that I’m wearing a rather thirst quenching scent today that doesn’t feel at all heavy.
Purists may have other ideas about today’s version of Opium, as it has been very much reformulated since its iconic brown packaging at its launch. I cannot comment on the difference as I am not familiar with the original, but I trust those who tell me, the new kid ain’t the same.
Opium has all the spicy/rich ingredients thing going on, but I think the reason I found it light and pretty is because it has no gourmand stuff in it. There’s no sticky cakey vanilla or sugar or caramel: all ingredients which are hard to escape in today’s perfume stores. After smelling so many scents that smell like cake crumbs, Opium is a refreshing change, and yes there is vanilla in it, but its barely discernible and seems to just round off the sharp edges a bit.
You can definitely notice the heavyweight Christmassy duo of Frankincense and Myrrh with their rich, deep resonance, and the patchouli packs a punch, but somehow, this wasn’t a “woah there!” fragrance. It felt just right for a sunny day with breezy spells.
Opium has managed to hang on to it’s green, spicy, citrus roots and was a breath of fresh air today: something I never thought I’d say about Opium in August. It’s gone onto the Wish List and I’m only amazed it took me so long to get there. Oh and did I mention longevity? around fourteen hours for two squirts. Amazing stuff.
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.
Usually when I get hold of decent men’s fragrance samples, I pass them onto my nephew, who at sixteen, has quite a fragrance collection and shows a real interest in it. However, I have been trying out Valentino Uomo today and there’s no way I’m giving this to anyone. It’s deliriously good and I’m keeping it.
The opening is fresh and herbal, with Myrtle and Bergamot and not much else. I like a simple opening like that. The middle phase has Chocolate and Hazelnut and the base has Leather and Coffee. The Leather we are talking about here is that expensive Leather that is so soft it feels like velvet, and the Coffee adds richness without going all Nescafe on me. The Chocolate and Hazelnut combo completely avoids any kind of gourmand praline nonsense and simply enhances the richness, like the smell as you enter an expensive coffee house.
Yes, yes, this is supposed to be for men and all that, but it stopped me in my tracks and frankly, without sounding big headed, it smells fantastic on me. Some male fragrances (mainly the mainstream sort) all smell very similar to me in the base notes phase. They all seem to have that metallic, almost obligatory note that I have moaned about before ( see my review of Jay-Z Gold) but Valentino Uomo actually smells like its ingredients. You really can smell the herbs, the Bergamot, the Leather and the Coffee. It’s terrific and I can’t get enough. Ten out of ten and my everlasting affection to its creator, the prolific and talented Olivier Polge.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Chanel Coco Mademoiselle was kind of made accidentally on purpose, in so far as its huge success was unexpected: it was simply meant to carry on the success of Chanel Coco, in its guise as a Coco flanker (Coco Flanker would be a great name for a burlesque dancer). It was created by a nose who is frankly, a genius: the legendary Jacques Polge. One day I would like to thank him for Chanel Cristalle Eau Verte. It’s like a face full of fresh tulips, and I will review it one day. You may remember that he also made the divineChanel No 5 Eau Premiere. Like I said, a genius.
Coco Mademoiselle is a runaway bestseller that even outsells Coco now, but sadly that means that you can smell it everywhere. I was rather disapproving of it when staying a hotel in Leeds recently. I could smell a woman twenty feet away wearing it at breakfast. My dears! Not before noon at least! And from twenty feet away. Light herby colognes only at breakfast, or nothing but a whiff of toothpaste would do fine.
Coco Mademoiselle is a great example of pretty meets sexy. It’s all orange blossom, rose, jasmine and mimosa at first (heady) spray. Sillage is a whopper. Never spray it in a lift unless you are caged there with an enemy. You could quite nonchalantly wear this to the office first thing IF, and it’s a big IF in capital letters, the top notes were the only notes. However, when these pretty flowers have stopped dancing the chorus and get to the serious part, the musk, patchouli and the incense-y Opoponax (delightful when said aloud!), all emerge looking sultry and wearing too much make up. If these notes were women they would wear leather skirts and try and steal your husband.
The juxtaposition of the pretty and the sultry leaves a question mark over this one. I like a pretty floral with a hint of citrus, so I like the top notes. I love a bit of myrrh/opoponax and patchouli, so I liked the base notes. However, it’s the fusion of the two that doesn’t quite please fussy old moi. Add that to the fact that this flies off the shelves of my local Perfume Shop so quickly that you have to duck and I’m afraid my review isn’t going to be a love letter.
However, Coco Mademoiselle has been around since 2001 and has spawned a few homages , which is no bad thing. . Yves Rocher’s So Elixiris a good fellow perfume in a lower price range. It’s not a duplicate, but it does have similarities and is less than 25GBP for 30ml. There is of course the legendary Lidl Suddenly Madame Glamour, which is a duplicate, although despite having similar notes, quality of ingredients is poorer and resonance is not as rich or long-lasting, but hey, at 3.99 I still own a bottle for the handbag. (check out my earlier review on this site) Coco Mademoiselle is here to stay, so I guess we will have to make room.
EDIT: My friend Mary wears this and smells terrific, so what do I know?