Tag Archives: best High Street perfume

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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Rosie for Autograph Summer Rose: A Little Beauty

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Michael Kors Turquoise: Summer is Open for Business

By David Hockney, shared from the TES
By David Hockney, shared from the TES

Summer begins the day I leave home without a cardigan. Today is that day.  What better scent to review than one that immediately made me long for an infinity pool somewhere hot?  As lovely as Pontypridd Lido is, I want more.

Michael Kors Turquoise was an immediate  hit with me.  It opens with sea notes, which is a rather handy subjective term.   I’m pretty sure  that many brands have their own definition.   In this case, it is a clean unsalted sea note that reminded me of that scent of churning water outdoors- you know, the scent you get when you stand at the top of a water slide in the sun?  Yep.  That.   I could even smell rubber inflatables, but I think that’s memory and association, rather than this actual fragrance.

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The lime is astringent  and not sweet like cordial.   If you don’t normally like cucumber notes, you’ll still like this: it’s in there faintly, but hard to pick out.  The water lily adds to the aquatic feel : It’s a clean, subtle flower note.  The jasmine comes out somewhere in the middle, but gently,  not in a big white flowery way like tuberose can.   There’s nothing heady about Turquoise at all.

This claims to bed down into a cedar and amber base, but I can report that after two hours, it smells like a swimming pool with flower petals in to the point where I want to start looking at holiday brochures.

Turquoise is the perfect name for this. It’s David Hockney, water slides and infinity pools. It’s the perfect summer fragrance. I wish it was stronger so that my whole day smells like this.  Suddenly, indoors seems a bit stuffy now.

Oh, is it for men or for women? Don’t know, don’t care. It’s gorgeous.

Stockists

Michael Kors Turquoise is available from House of Fraser where I drenched myself in it more than once.   Sorry, not sorry, ladies. You should be used to me by now! You can also buy it from John Lewis.

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Missguided: Babe Power: Seriously Fun

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I was given a bottle of this at the recent Fragrance Foundation Awards, and I’m glad I was because the packaging and general image wouldn’t have otherwise tempted me.  However,  a good sniff of Babe Power converted this curmudgeon into a surprise fan.

Babe Power is the first fragrance from fashion label missguided.  It’s a hot on trend label for hot on trend people and this fragrance is no exception.  It steps out of class and sticks two fingers up at boring old glass perfume bottles and comes in a tin can that looks and feels exactly like a can of energy drink.

I did the sniff test on my family and gleaned the following verdicts: “bubble gum” “Haribo”  and the rather unimaginative response: “perfume.”

The very first thing I got from Babe Power was sour cherries.  Don’t be put off by the “sour” bit.  This is a sharp cherry scent, unlike a sweet sickly “normal” cherry scent. The vanilla is almost indistinguishable from the cherry note as they are so co-dependent and entwined.  In fact, just for fun, there’s also apple, pineapple, grapefruit and candy floss in here.  The ingredients remind me of a very colourful beach hut style kiosk.  There’s flowers too: very girly ones- jasmine, peony and orange flower.   The jasmine and peony just peek through, but frankly the big bright fruity notes are partying too loud to answer the door.

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This may sound like a mish mash, but actually it really, really works. I love the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously whilst getting the balance right.  The sour cherries had me at hello, and the slightly play doh vanilla makes me love it even more.

I would like to predict that this will be a big success, but before I could even review this, it has become a huge bestseller in The Fragrance Shop.   I wouldn’t sound very mystic and prophetic when this is already flying off the shelves so fast that passers-by have to duck.

Bravo missguided.  Encore!

Stockists

Missguided Babe Power is available from The Fragrance Shop for 27.50 for 80ml  EDP. Opinions are my own.

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Shay & Blue London: Amber Rose

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Shay and Blue London Amber Rose is one of those fragrances that I tried in warm weather and dismissed, then tried in cold weather and ending up loving. The same thing happened with First by Van Cleef and Arpels, which is now the nearest thing I have to a signature scent.

In the summer, I found Amber Rose too sweet and too gourmand in the sticky heat. However, in cold weather, it tells a different story and it was a story that had me hooked from page one.

Amber Rose only has three notes: Rose, Dulche de Leche ( caramel) and Amber.  The rose is a clean rose that has a hint of papery dried petals around the edges: think the dried rose petals in pot pourri. It combines satiny petals with a tea like dryness. The  delectable dulche de leche note acts a bridge between the rose and the amber and  it’s a genius bit of blending.  The sweetness of the rose rises and melts into the caramel and then sobers up again as it segues into the woody amber finish. This is perfect for cold weather and the sweetness level is pitched just right for a wintery day.  The combination of roses and milky, woody warmth is irresistibly cosy.  I can see my Shay and Blue collection starting to grow. Oh well!

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Stockists

You can find a selection of Shay and Blue fragrance in branches of Marks and Spencer. Alternatively, you can buy a mini selection of Shay & Blue fragrances from The Perfume Society ( see photo above). The link is here. Sample and opinions are my own.

Bewitched by Lancome Magie Noire

magie noireOh Magie Noire, how do I even begin to describe you? You have bewitched me.

Lancome Magie Noire was created in 1978 by genius Nose Gerard Goupy, who also created the equally superb Lancome Climat  (which is a devil to get hold of these days. I only have a dim Duty Free memory of it, but I loved it).

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Magie Noire opens as a mossy chypre. It’s loud, floral and powdery at first.  I got tuberose, hyacinth and lily of the valley, with the volume turned up. That’s OK, I like them loud. Unusually, the oakmoss base comes through straight away. No waiting.

This is wonderfully earthy and green, and those flowers ( an entire garden full) just jostle for attention. There’s spice too, but nothing savoury- think incense and mysterious spice markets. You’ll find myrrh, vetiver, patchouli in spades, warm amber… There’s no fixed start, middle and finish for this. Apparently it was designed to unfurl like a figure of eight, but that feels to complicated even for my eager nose. I just love how it develops as my skin warms it.

Two hours after slathering it on at the beauty counter, it has settled into one of the best florals I have ever tried. The spices are around the edges warming it up and anchoring it down. The oakmoss is giving me that chypre fix that I always seek and the galbanum and bergamot are giving me my hit of “green”. It’s everything I want in a fragrance, all in one.

Lancome have brought this back in a modern formulation, which is the one I tried today. I can’t comment on the previous incarnation as I haven’t tried it, but I would happily buy a lorry load of this.

Stockists

You can buy Lancome Magie Noire from House of Fraser, Escentual and Amazon UK.

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Mary Greenwell Fire: Don’t care how, I want it NOW!

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Having written over 650 perfume reviews, I have had to learn to harden my heart to the idea of buying every perfume I like. But there is a list headed Perfumes I Cannot Live Without which means that on sniffing them, I turn into an avaricious monster as if a switch has been flicked. Today I added Mary Greenwell’s Fire to that list.

I was actually in The Fragrance Shop buying Mary Greenwell Lemon ( purse spray is only £7.50), but I asked to try Fire and fell hook line and sinker.

Created in 2014 by legendary nose Francois Robert, Fire’s top notes fall somewhere between the opening of Shalimar and Terre D’Hermes. and makes you want to glue your nose to your wrist. It is spicy without being harsh, gentle without being insipid, and it brings out the Verruca Salt in me.

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In the middle, the roses, jasmine and tuberose emerge. It segues seamlessly into the woody basenotes which include: olibanum, patchouli, sandalwood, leather, vetiver, teak and cedarwood. The citrus (grapefruit) lightens it without making it flimsy and ensures that this is the kind of scent you can wear all year round.

Fire reminded me of Chanel Coromandel without the Milky Bar. In a blind sniff, I would have been adamant that this was made by Serge Lutens. It has touches of Borneo and Santale Majuscule in it.

You can see then, why I was impressed, but that’s not all. A 50ml bottle is only £19.50. So excuse me if I barge to the front of the queue. This, my friends, is an urgent must buy.

Stockists

Run, don’t walk, to The Fragrance Shop, or buy it online here. I’ll take ten.

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Photos: product photographs from The Fragrance Shop. Verruca Salt photo from en.paperblog.com

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Perfume Under £15: And you won’t smell cheap. Promise.

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On my dashboard at Iscent HQ ( which is very glamorous and doesn’t have workmen in it and a roll of old carpet in the porch), the most popular searches by a country mile are “cheap perfume” and “best cheap perfumes”. January was an especially busy month for the bargain perfume hunters and so I thought I would write a guide for good perfume under £15. I’ve done a list for under a tenner, and even a list for under a fiver, so here’s my list of best buys for under fifteen quid.

Whether you’re spoiling yourself or someone else ( Valentine’s Day is in 14 days), £15 can get you some really good stuff and with my trusty guide nobody will smell cheap. I wouldn’t do that to you.

1. Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps

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This timelesss classic is always on my dressing table. With its combination of light airy florals and warm amber undertones, you cannot go wrong. Bizarrely, I found this on SportsDirect.com for a tenner.

2. Calvin Klein Obsession

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A classic 80s Oriental that has by turns been both derided and admired. I think it’s time put this hard hitter back on the map. You can buy the 30ml for under £15 on allbeauty.com

3. Davidoff Cool Water

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This ozonic light scent is a crowd pleaser and a safe bet. Easily obtained with change from your three fivers. You can get Davidoff Cool Water For Women  from allbeauty.com currently at £10.95.

4. Elizabeth Arden Fifth Avenue

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An appealing light-as- air floral, with lily of the valley and lilacs, 5th Avenue is an ideal office friendly scent. Check out my review here. You can get a 75ml bottle of this at allbeauty.com and I have seen it on offer at The Perfume Shop and The Fragrance Shop recently, although prices change frequently.

5. Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely

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In a sea of smellalike celebuscents, Lovely stands alone as pure quality. With lavender and citrus in the opening, and musk, patchouli and amber in the base, this is another bottle that’s a permanent fixture on the groaning IScent dressing table. You can get a 30ml bottle from Fragrance Direct.

6. Library of Fragrance

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There are too many to choose from this great range. All are £15, with some being only £10 ( check the Library of Fragrance site for details). In Boots, it’s two for £25, which works out even cheaper. My favourites are Musk #7, PlayDoh (think vanilla), Four Leaf Clover, Orange Blossom, Mahogany, Mango, Grass, Rain, Moonbeam and Salt Air.

7. Marks and Spencer

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We are spoiled for choice these days at trusty Marks and Sparks. I recommend Monotheme Classic White Musk, Classic Sweet Violet, or Classic White Gardenia , currently at only 14.60. Fragonard is also on offer: Fragonard Jasmin or Sweet Pea are both currently at £14.40, or Rosie for Autograph, a fragrance made with centifolia roses, which I previously reviewed here and wear often and which is currently at £11.20.

8. LUSH:Gorilla Perfumes

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For me LUSH Gorilla Perfumes are hit and miss but I suppose the beauty of them is that they’re not mainstream crowd pleasers. Gorilla Perfumes now has Three Volumes, and my two favourites are Karma and Imogen Rose from Volume One. You can buy Karma from £12 and a solid of Imogen Rose for just £10. Both are long lasting and good value.

9. Avon

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Our old friends Avon almost always have decent special offers on which usually means you can buy two for £14. Offers vary, but my recommendations are Little Black Dress, Tahitian Holiday  (which reminded me of Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess) and Premier Luxe, which is an iris/blackcurrant chypre. I also love the Scent Essence range, which has a great Bergamot fragrance.

10. Cacharel

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Cacharel makes two of my favourites: Anais Anais (pronounced AN-ay-ISS) and LouLou. The former has been around since the 70s and the latter is a big 80s classic that takes me right back to my days listening to The Cure with a red wine moustache. Be sure to get the Anais Anais rather than the Anais Anais Premier Delice version, as the Delice version has been sweetened for the modern palate. You can buy Anais Anais from Escentual for £13 although it’s also easily found on the High Street .You can find LouLou in Boots for £14.99

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So there you have it. If I had fifteen quid to spend, I would be very hard pushed to limit myself to one. Do let me know what your favourite perfume bargain is. I always love to hear from you.

Marc Jacobs Decadence

marc jacobs decadence

 

Famous for his fabulous show stopping bottles, Marc Jacobs usually puts his money where his mouth is and produces good quality scent.  Not all of it is my cup of tea, but I respect the brand and like his work.  Not that my opinion will rock his world either way- they all shoot up the bestseller list without my help, as will Marc Jacobs Decadence.

I tried Decadence today after walking past the bottle twice thinking it was a free bag that you get with the bottle.  I opened the bag to find a little spray nozzle inside- how cute!  I was charmed.  I duly slathered on a good tsunami of it so it wouldn’t wear off by the time I got home (and it hasn’t).

Decadence opens with saffron and plum.  I also found the amber and vetiver comes through straight away making this  fruity and rich at the same time.  It’s heady stuff- It doesn’t pass the DayJob test at all so don’t wear it to the office.  Saffron, plum, amber and vetiver- all these come at you with a sledgehammer.  The 2015 Scent du Jour of Jasmine Sambac is also noticeable, as is  a hint of rose, although poor rose gets  a bit overlooked with everything else going on.

Decadence smells very masculine, but that doesn’t put me off.  There were  moments when this reminded me strongly of Elie Saab, and then for a few moments, it reminded me, oddly enough, of Paco Rabanne 1Million Cologne.  There is a rich statement-making trail to Decadence and I reckon it will scent many a night out for at least the next two years.  You will smell it in restaurants, powder rooms and wine bars and say “Oh! That’s Marc Jacobs Decadence, I’d know it anywhere” and you may or may not feel glad that it’s nudged Angel off the  Top Spot for a bit.  Mystic Sam also predicts it will a total sell out at Christmas too.

Whilst I don’t love this myself, I do like it  and  the bottle is good enough to buy on its own – it would grace any dressing table and it should , and probably will, win awards.

Stockists

You will find Marc Jacobs Decadence is stocked widely.  You could try House of Fraser, The Fragrance Shop, or Amazon UK. Prices are in the region of £49 and vary according to stockist.