Tag Archives: best High Street fragrance

LUSH Gorilla Perfumes: Smell of Freedom

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 I have written before of how I disliked the recent Lush Collection Set In Stone.  I found them bitter, like poisonous spells and there isn’t one that I would buy. However the 2012 range of Gorilla Perfumes were superb in quality, resonance and originality and are due the utmost respect.

Image Lush Smell of Freedom is a wonderful perfume for Winter, that, like Imogen Rose, made me think that Serge Lutens could have made it.  The quality of the ingredients and the simplicity with which they are used makes for a high quality scent.

You would probably like this is you like La Myrrhe, Ambre Sultan or a perfume I reviewed recently: Histoire d’Eau by Maubousson.

 Smell of Freedom is chock full of Oud, Cloves, Sandalwood, Ginger, Black Pepper and Wood.  There is also Jasmine and Orange Flower in it, but I was too enraptured by the woody woods to notice.  There is a smoky bonfire note in the background that makes this dark and mysterious.

This is deep and resonant and strong and smells about three times more expensive than it is.  In fact the solid is only 7.50 GBP, but beware of the yellow waxy finish on skin. It does go as your skin heats up, but can stain white clothes.  The spritz is reasonable too, at only 16GBP or the spray for 33GBP.  I call this excellent value and wonderful quality for those who like their scents smoky, woody and with a hint of cough mixture and bonfire smoke. Fabulous.

 

Marc Jacobs Daisy: The Ubiquitous Daisy

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Marc Jacobs Daisy has been a steady bestseller since its launch in 2007. With its distinctive bottle, it was the scent that launched countless flankers. Trying it today, it reminded me very strongly of Chanel Chance Eau Tendre.  I can barely tell them apart in fact. Both scents are pretty, subdued, and overtly feminine.  Both make inoffensive office wear and both would suit a young girl starting on her perfume odyssey.

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I was initially sceptical when trying it, since it really does smell ubiquitous and overly familiar: a victim of its own success. However, the violet and violet leaf won me over slightly, which stopped me disliking this. The violets come out almost immediately, followed by muffled grapefruit.  That is to say the grapefruit isn’t sharp and citrus, more subdued and covered by white flowers.  The gardenia comes out alongside the violet, and the base is a pleasant melange of pale woods and violet leaf.  All in all, it’s light and pretty and feminine, but my problem is its popularity.

Maybe I’m being a terrible snob (although if you saw my many cheapo scent bottles, you might not agree). However, both Daisy and Chance Eau Tendre are everywhere right now, even in Winter and whilst I sometimes like a pretty floral, this doesn’t break any barriers down for me, but then again, it wasn’t meant to.  I’d rather smell this than  a fruity-chouli rent-a-scent, but then again there are lots of others things I’d rather smell than this.  Eleven out of ten for the pretty bottle .

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Diesel Zero Plus Masculine: Stolen From My Husband

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Out of all the fragrances I have bought for Mr IScent, Diesel Zero Plus Masculine is the one he wears every day and likes best. He smells wonderful in it, although it smells different on him than it does on me.  On him, it is a fresh, milky musk which is never overpowering, even at 7am when he kisses me goodbye for the day.

On me, it is fresh, green and spicy and could easily be marketed as a feminine Autumn scent without anyone batting an eyelid.  The most prominent notes when first sprayed are Green notes, Mandarin, Bergamot and  Spice: specifically Cinnamon and Nutmeg. The Green notes are woody and musty, like sodden leaves, but fresh and zingy at the same time.  After a while this beds down into a Musky Sandalwood finish, but with sharpness from the Oranges and Cardoman.  The Anise sneaks in for the final flourish, with warm Amber and Patchouli rounding things off nicely.

It’s ridiculously cheap for this kind of likable quality.  I bought this for around eight pounds in my local Bodycare shop, but it’s pretty much everywhere and very often less than ten pounds.

The bottle has lasted since last Christmas despite daily wear and is still nearly half full, making this extraordinary value for money.  It’s not up there with the Serges or the Guerlains, but it’s an excellent buy and I say phooey to male/female labels.  This is just a great Autumnal scent.

 

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Michael Kors Very Hollywood: Very Gardenia

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 I underestimated Michael Kors Very Hollywood , seeing it for the first time in my local Asda in the bargain cabinet next to the ubiquitous bargain favourite: Elizabeth Arden Sunflowers.  However, when I got home, I unearthed a sample and tried it. Well, dear reader, I shall be returning to the Asda bargain shelf where this was a mere £15 for 30ml, and such a pretty bottle too.

My first thought after spraying was Tuberose, but it is in fact Gardenia, and a rather beautiful one at that.  There is fruit as well.  As you know, I am no fan of fruity floral accords unless we are talking citrus, but in between some “Frozen” Bergamot (pardon?) and some Mandarin, there sits a little Raspberry. However, the Raspberry is suitably reined in, preventing this from being too fruity floral/cookie jar.

Top notes are all about the fruit: Orange, Bergamot and Raspberry. A top note with too much fruit usually has me running for the hills and this one didn’t.  In fact, I would say the middle note of Gardenia comes through within minutes, followed by the Jasmine.  There are also middle notes of Orris Root and Ylang, neither of which I could discern, but maybe I didn’t want to to- so enchanted was I with the beautiful white Gardenia.

Basenotes are Amber ,Musk and Vetiver, all of which are present and correct and noticeable.  However, the Gardenia welcomes you in, shows you round and never leaves your side, reminding me of an over solicitous Elizabeth Taylor in white maribou.

All in all, the Raspberry shows just enough restraint to make me a fan, and that Jasmine/Gardenia combo is a knockout. The glitzy name covers up a rather gracious daytime floral.  Longevity could be better at around four hours, but spray clothes and hair for longer lasting power, and you’re all set for the day.

JLo Glow: Off to a Great Start

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Jennifer Lopez was one of the first celebrities to launch her own signature fragrance line.  She follows early pioneers of Celeb scents Cher, Elizabeth Taylor and Antonio Banderas.  JLo Glow was launched back in 2002, and has broken records with its hugely successful sales figures. It is worth looking at an early celeb scent to see how and why things changed so much  from Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds and JLo Glow (both very good) to the fruity floribundances we have today.  (PS I just made up the word floribundances. You may use it. You’re welcome).

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Amazon.co.uk

Today in 2013, High Street perfume shops would look very meagre without the vast range of celeb scents padding out the shelves. It has become a phenomenon. I often tell people (and my Mum) it is worth remembering that all celeb scents are made by professional, experienced Noses, but are often at the cheaper end of the market. Keep looking past the tacky packaging (I’m looking at you Justin Bieber) and you stumble across a gem such as Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights or Hilary Duff With Love: both celeb scents that I consider excellent. The name means nothing to me, I just want to know if it smells good. And if it does, I’ll wear it. I don’t care whose name is on the bottle. My snobbery went out the window a while back when I spent 3.99 on 15ml of Duff’s With Love and I had an epiphany smelling the rich Tropical Guaic Wood . Not what I expected at all.

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Amazon.co.uk

I often think the celeb scent market is like a jumble sale. It may look unpromising, but if you keep trying, you may find treasure.

Right at the start, before the boom began, there was JLo with Glow. Still around now, and still a steady seller, I tried it recently and was very pleasantly surprised. It’s soapy and clean smelling, like freshly shampooed hair. It reminded me a little of Cacharel Noa, only without the bloom’n’fade coffee bean opening.

The soapiness is not aldehydic, like say, First by Van Cleef and Arpels which stands a league above, but it is more Herbal Essences.  If you, like me, buy your shampoo based on whether you like the smell, then you may like this clean hair scent with light flower petals, light grapefruit, and gentle White Musk.

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After the soap faded into an innocent gentility, there was some definite Tuberose action going on, which lasted until the very end. Longevity was excellent in fact.  I tried two sprays of Glow at 9.15am and at 6pm it was still close to skin. Not bad at all for a good value scent.  I had a slight issue with the fact that the very last hours of the basenotes were a bit synthetic, but the good points outweigh the bad by a long chalk.

Adding to the bonhomie I am feeling towards this gem is the rumour that JLo is very involved in her scents, and they are much more than a sign off to her.  I am already a fan of JLo Deseo, and now I am a fan of Glow too.

Stockists

You can buy Glow from many places, including allbeauty.com and Amazon UK to name but two.

Estee Lauder Pleasures: Practically Perfect In Every Way

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Estee Lauder Pleasures was launched in 1995 and was a huge hit. After the excesses of the Look At Me 80s, this 90s fragrance was all about everything that was light, airy and pure. You know, like Gwyneth Paltrow.

 Pleasures was everywhere in the 90s including on me: I had a 100ml bottle and a body lotion no less.  It even tempted me away from my steadfast Chanel Cristalle for a  whole summer. There was a new optimism in the 90s. Everything was environmentally sound, and people were hugging trees and taking up Yoga and wearing white floaty shirts. You know, like Gwyneth Paltrow.

So what does it smell like? It smells like a photoshopped meadow on a summer’s day, all delicate blossom and green grass and fluffy clouds. It smells just like its advertising campaign, with original spokesmodel Elizabeth Hurley in the middle, looking ethereal all over billboards and fragrance shop windows.

To me Pleasures smells of Violet and Peony. It’s pretty as a picture. There are no dark or challenging notes, all is light as air. There are Green notes in the opening and  Violet Leaf making its presence felt. Lilac and Lily of The Valley make an appearance, and the basenotes introduce a little White Musk to this delightful bed of flower petals. It is impossibly feminine, almost bridal in its innocence and beauty.

Image I tried Pleasures recently and thought there was a silvery note in it. It’s hard to explain but it was more metallic than I remember, but not to any extreme, more of a tinkly silver wind chime.

Disappointingly, EL has seen the need to produce no less than SIXTEEN Pleasures flankers.  I’ve tried two: Pleasures Bloom and Pleasures Intense. Neither were a success for me.  It was as if someone had bulldozed my pretty meadow. It was as if someone had taken a Jane Austen novel, discovered people liked it and decided to make it into a Musical, a TV series and a range of dolls. Enough already!

 Pleasures is a classic. But leave the flankers well alone. You can have way too much of a good thing.  You know, like Gwyneth Paltrow.

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Stockists

You can buy Pleasures from  allbeauty.com or Fragrance Direct.

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Hello to my USA Readers, This is For You. Obsession by Calvin Klein

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I see from my blog dashboard that I have a lot of readers from the USA, a country that has given me several wonderful holidays (Hello San Jose, Yosemite, Carmel and San Francisco!). In honour of your special day, I thought it only right that I should review an American Classic.

Calvin Klein Obsession came along at a time when heavy, spicy perfumes were few and far between. There was Opium and Youth Dew and Cinnabar and that was about it on the Oriental Spicy front. Obsession was created in 1985, the same year as Dior’s Poison (Loud? Let’s just say it made an Aerosmith Concert sound like birdsong). Obsession had the big, brashness that was so characteristic of 1980s fragrance and fashion, think Alexis Carrington and her shoulder pads slamming open a dramatic set of double doors.  I miss you Joan. *sigh*

With a moody black and white ad campaign that was probably shot on a beach in the Hamptons, the market was ready for Obsession, even if train passengers were not.

Obsession opens with Spices, Amber, Sandalwood, a hint of Bitter Orange that’s pitched just right, and a whole host of other goodies that makes this shout “I’M HERE” as soon as you enter the room. Longevity is very good for a scent that’s High Street, mainstream and pretty inexpensive, and I have a sneaking fondness for it. On me, it unfolds in layers: Spice first, a slight booziness like Christmas,  Oranges, then Musk and Incense. I like it, but I am careful to spray just one squirt (base of throat) and no more, especially if I am going to be around food.  I love both perfume and food, but I do believe that perfume should never drown out the smell of either your meal or anybody else’s.

I had a bottle of Obsession in 1995, and again in 2005, and I don’t recall any differences in the formulation. Purists swear it’s been messed with, but I didn’t find  any  discernible anomalies .

 In a sea of fruits and berries and florals, this makes a welcome change and I wouldn’t object to a little mini revival, albeit sparingly. This has stood the test of the time and still feels current. One squirt usage makes the iconic egg shaped bottle last a very long time, making this a beauty bargain.

Happy Independence Day

The Mighty Cinnabar

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Estee Lauder launched Cinnabar within weeks of YSL Opium coming out. The gauntlet was well and truly thrown down. That they are competitors cannot be coincidence with such a close time lapse between them and such unmistakable  similarities.

Cinnabar was created in 1978 and has become somewhat of a standby classic.  I don’t smell this very often on under 50s, which is a great shame .  I would love to see younger people seek out  fragrances like this and escape from the fog of modern fruity florals.

 Cinnabar has a lot to offer.  It is an Oriental Spice perfume, with other notes that make it chameleon-like in its adaptability.  On first spray it is loud, fresh and spicy before drying down into a talcum powder masculine scent .  But bear with it, as it soon changes again and becomes a delightful Incense fragrance with a hint of powdery orange and peach, and a definite loud-ish note of clove standing in the background.  This is serious perfume: it’s not playful.   I can’t help thinking of rather sombre females in dark suits, or elegant dames with pearls and no laughter lines.

On me I’m afraid it reminds me of a Toilet in a rather well to do house I visited years ago.  I can’t help it.  I smell a fragrance and a long forgotten memory just pops up and won’t go away.  I think the hint of Jasmine, which is often indolic, has made this hard for me to love, but easy to admire.  It also reminds me of a soap called Shield, used by a former adversary, which has kind of spoilt it for me.   Strangely enough, I found this so similar to Estee Lauder Youth Dew, now in its 60th year, that I am not entirely clear why they made two fragrances so very similar.  Yesterday I wore Cinnabar on one arm and Youth Dew on the other.   At one point they were so alike I thought I was going to have to write “This one is Youth Dew” on my arm.

Cinnabar is not for me, but I hope it sticks around as we need more classics like this.  It would be a tragedy if a beautiful Oriental were to be discontinued through lack of sales.  With today’s trends for the lighter more modern fruits and vanillas, I sometimes fear for the good guys like Cinnabar.