Marks and Spencer Florentyna has been there for so long that it was almost off my radar. I tried it many years ago, declared it old fashioned and never bothered again. Until today. With a new attitude, I took another look at Florentyna, and if you’ve ruled it out, as I did, then I encourage you to re-sniff with new eyes- or should that be nostrils? Because, my dear fellow sniffalots, Florentyna is actually pretty good stuff.
For years, I was convinced that this was mainly a rose scent. I’d even heard people say it smelled similar to Estee Lauder Beautiful. It sort of does-ish, a bit. Slightly. In fact, I went into my nearby House of Fraser and tried Estee Lauder Beautiful for comparison. I would say they are the same family, but not close relatives.
Florentyna opens with big, white, creamy, feminine Gardenia. Almost immediately all the other white flowers burst in then: jasmine, orange flower and lily of the valley. The base note is musk, but a clean laundry musk, not a sexy animalic thigh-sweat musk. This is so respectable it should wear pearls.
Oddly, tuberose, the Queen of the white flowers, is missing. Now this is actually an appropriate omission in the case of Florentyna, because, as much as I like tuberose, it can take over, and when it’s really strong, it can have that vegetal/celery note which I love, but not everyone does. Here, all the “naice” white flowers are included. That’s a deliberate misspelling by the way- you’re saying “nice” in a genteel voice with your pinkie finger sticking out as you hold your bone china tea cup.
The background and frame of these white flowers is a beautiful and very noticeable white soapy note. It’s good old fashioned pure white, very posh, thrice milled luxury soap, and along with the bigwhite flowers, it smells terrific.
Thinking about it, it reminded me of an eighties fragrance- remember how Dior Poison was all giant tuberose and Givenchy Amarige was all big jasmine and green soapy tobacco? Well this is massive too.
As for longevity? Well, three squirts should last you an entire weekend.
Florentyna is worth a second look and worth a lot more than its small price, but please keep that price where it is M&S!
Stockists: You can buy Florentyna from Marks and Spencer. I also recommend Florentyna White, which I reviewed here. Florentyna is available at prices starting at £3.50 for 10ml.
Avon Far Away is Avon’s best-selling perfume by a country mile. Even the flankers are good. You may recall my review of Avon Far Away Infinity and Avon Far Away Exotic. Today I am reviewing Avon Far Away Bella, and let me just say that it won me over as soon as I saw that it was wearing a little scarf.
So how does it smell? Pretty darn good, especially when you think that I bought it from a recent Avon brochure for the princely sum of five pounds for a 50ml Eau de Parfum.
Did I mention longevity? Around six or seven hours, so a few squooshes in the morning should set you up for the day. Incidentally, don’t expect this to resemble the original Far Away, which is a cosy feast of vanilla and coconut, because it doesn’t.
Avon Far Away Bella opens with a refreshing fruity note, namely oranges. This lacks a sickliness that some fruity overtures can have. So often the red berries and the pink pepper brigade can drown any notes to come, but this mandarin note is rather pretty and uplifting. The middle goes floral, and we’re talking magnolia, so again, not too sweet, and not too heady. I definitely got a blast of jasmine too. The base is simply tonka bean. This is a hay like note with a faint background of almondy vanilla notes. In Far Away Bella, the use of tonka instead of ubiquitous vanilla extract is an understated touch that I appreciated. You may have gathered by now that too much vanilla turns me off, but this is a pleasant sweetness blended with a light hand.
Over on Fragrantica, some readers are saying that it reminded them of Gucci Flora Glamorous Magnolia, no less, as well as Yves Saint Laurent Cinema Festival. I have smelled neither, so cannot comment, but these people usually know what they’re talking about.
My verdict is that Far Away Bella is a heck of a gem and a heck of a bargain. It’s a light and pretty fruity floral that smells very current and holds back on the sugar. I reckon the youngsters will go for this, as well as the 47 year old perfume bloggers. Nicely done, Avon.
How about you?
How about you? Do you have a favourite Avon fragrance? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
You can find Far Away Bella on Avon UK, or from your Avon rep, if you have one, or on eBay. The current brochure price is £9 but this can vary from month to month, depending on offers. I purchased my own bottle and opinions are my own.
Lately I have been asked many questions by people with queries about perfume. These vary from “what smells like…?” queries to “Where can I get…?” queries. It got me thinking, my friends. How about a little post that’s all about your perfume questions and queries?
Just email me or post your question below or on Twitter or Facebook and I will do my very best to answer them. You can even be anonymous if you like!
So, fire away. Do you want to know if there’s a smellalike to a long discontinued favourite? Does a newly reformulated favourite resemble an old one? Which are the best cheap and cheerfuls? Tell Aunty Sam your scented dilemmas. I’m all ears and all nostrils!
Now that my blog is four, I thought I’d better do some housekeeping. One of my most popular articles is “Perfume for Paupers”, written two years ago. It was my guide to how you can smell good without blowing the budget. It was written from the heart (and from past experience ), since I believe that you don’t have to be rich to smell good.
However, as you know, the industry changes faces like a kaleidoscope in even a short space of time. For example, many celeb scents that I reviewed then, have been discontinued, and many new affordable options have appeared on the market in just two years. However, much of what I wrote in my earlier article still stands: shop around, be selective, use eBay, look past the label. I reckon it’s time for an update. Here’s my guide on how to smell good without feeling bad.
Leave your snobbery at the door
I used to be in an exclusive long term relationship with Chanel Cristalle and would only rarely have flings with other scent on the side. During a frugal period in my life, I decided to shop around, and my love affair with scent truly blossomed. I hold allbeauty.com and Home Bargains responsible for this. I bought the cheapest scent I could afford and ended up finding some firm favourites. High price tags do not always mean high quality., and vice versa. Don’t overlook celebrity fragrances either. They are all made by professional Noses and are usually cheaper than other brands. Some of my favourite celeb scents are under £10.
Ok, I’m starting to sound obsessed with Avon now, but when you an find a decent perfume for under seven quid, well, then it’s very hard to stay away. In fact my SOTD is Avon Rare Platinum and those tuberose wafts are very pleasing to my nose today. Avon Perceive Oasis was my summer scent more than any other in 2016. I even bought a back up bottle.I give Avon a further thumbs up for selling purse sprays at just £3 and for currently selling Scent Essence Lime Verbena for just £2.50 for 30ml. All prices correct at time of posting.
I have bought a lot of perfume from eBay and have never been let down. EBay is pretty strict on counterfeit and it’s not worth most people’s trouble to try and sell the odd fake. Having said that, there’s no guarantee it’ll never happen to you, but in seven years I’ve not been conned. EBay is also great for perfume samples which helps avoid costly blind buys. I’ve also scored some blinders from a local car boot sale. Never underestimate how much somebody else can dislike a perfectly good bottle of perfume and be desperate to get rid of it. That, my friends, is when you circle and swoop.
Success stories: 100ml of Cabotine for £3.99 on eBay, bottle of LouLou and assorted samples for £7 on eBay, bottle of half used 100ml of Rive Gauche for £4 at car boot sale. Full 50ml bottle of Chanel Coco EDP for £26 on eBay.
Some of my favourite cheap and cheerfuls are the kind of scent young folk today might label as “Nan perfume”. I prefer the term “classic. ” Nobody will put me off Coty L’Aimant or Chique and I could buy both bottles with ten quid and still have change for a Daim Bar.
If you’re saving for a bottle of the good stuff and in between bottles,, why not just buy a few samples and use your favourites on high days and holidays? It’s cheaper than a full bottle and you can always smell expensive without having a shelf full of posh bottles and no money in the bank.
You’d be amazed how many of your friends have been given perfume they don’t like and don’t wear. Nobody seems to throw it away though, so get asking. You might find they have one of your favourites and that dusty bottle you can’t get rid of might be just their cup of tea. I dare you to ask four friends if they have a bottle of perfume they don’t really wear. It also works on forums such as Fragrantica, Mumsnet and Fragcomm.
Many men’s fragrances are cheaper than women’s ( though not all). There’s no rule that says you can’t wear his stuff or that he can’t wear yours. Having said that, although I reguarly raid my husband’s scent collection (I chose most of it- ergo it’s mine.) I can’t see my husband borrowing my SJP Lovely to wear for work anytime soon. Shame. Florals can smell good on men.
Here’s what I mean by cheap and cheerful for chaps: Old Spce (cheap as chips) doesn’t smell a million miles away from Yves Saint Laurent Opium. (Thanks for the tip Portia of APJ), and Avon men’s fragrances are truly excellent. I wore Wilderness for Men for the whole of August one year, with a pretty sun dress. I say Pah! to labels. If it smells good wear it.
These mini rollerballs are available from Amazon and eBay. Containing no alcohol, and usually in rollerball format, these are an unbeatably cheap way to layer notes or wear the scent alone. The jasmine and the rose single note fragrances are pretty good too. They make good presents and a 10ml rollerball is perfect for even the smallest of handbags.
The results are in. You are all stars but there can only be three winners, which is pretty good really. I’m a generous old thing on the quiet. Using Randompicker. org the following winners were picked:
Log Cabin- Kathy Hinton (via the blog)
Blue Spruce- Karen (via the blog)
Cupcake- Lanais (via the Facebook page)
Can the winners please email me their addresses ? firstname.lastname@example.org
To everyone who didn’t win this time, it is my four year blogaversary on January 2nd 2017 and I will be doing lots of giveaways then, so not long to wait. All fragrances in the draw are available from Library of Fragrance with a selection available on your high street at branches of Boots. With warm thanks to the Library of Fragrance for their generosity in providing the prizes.
The week after my seven year old son, Leo, told me he was a King in his school play, a bottle of Library of Fragrance Myrrh landed on my doormat. This dovetailing presented me with an opportunity too good to ignore. Leo said he didn’t mind modelling the bottle for me on the condition that I tell you all that he actually carried gold not myrrh in the play.
So what does it smell like? Well, I’m a big fan of churchy smells so Myrrh is right up my street. Myrrh is an aromatic resin that has in the past been used for embalming and as a medicine. In fact, there is a medicinal frisson to this (albeit homeopathic). It’s a cross between herbs and citrus and then beds down into the scent of incense-infused ancient stone and the infused wood of church pews (medieval for preference). This reminds me of the scent of a thurible in High Anglican Mass (St Michael’s Exeter to be precise).
In fact, I blended this with Library of Fragrance Mahogany and it was an absolute knockout. I’m talking, Hall of Fame brilliance. It reminded me of Comme Des Garcons Avignon, which I adore, but can’t afford. Alone or layered with Mahogany, Myrrh is divinely good (pun intended) and will fill your home with the scent of the first Christmas.
If you move fast, Myrrh is half price until midnight tonight (20th Dec 2016) if you use the code SENSUALMYRRH . Otherwise, try the Library of Fragrance. website. The price is usally £15 for 30ml, which I call jolly good value.
My bottle was sent to me by Library of Fragrance PR, for which, many thanks. Photos are all my own. Thank you to Leo for agreeing to be a Kingly model for me.
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.
I was dead against trying this, having read Luca Turin’s reviewof “Fancy”, (he labels it apple pie) and believing it to be in the same vein. It very much is not. What persuaded me to buy’n’try Fancy Nights was an amusing and charming review by Katrina of Australian Perfume Junkies who described an evening wearing this scent. On asking her husband what he thought of her fragrance, he mistakenly thought the smell was the taxi they were in. A celeb scent that smells like a new taxi? I’m there! Where do I sign up?
Some further praise from Katrina led me to believe this could be another celebuscent surprise, much in the vein of Hilary Duff With Love: a wonderfully maverick non fruity floral, that frankly, has balls.
Today my bottle of Fancy Nights arrived. With it’s dark green glass and faux gilt lid, it’s Arabian Nights Vegas Style. The smell is great. Not a blueberry in sight. Not so much as a whiff of candy floss. This is grown up and not all that commercial, and thank Goodness for that! (We have Steve Demercado, the creator, to thank for this refreshing restraint).
The top note is Papyrus, possibly where the “new cab” smell comes from. I have never come across Papyrus in a scent before and I can tell you that there is a definite “new office” or “modern bookshop” whiff about it. For someone who loves the smell of fresh paint and new carpet, this was somewhat of a kinky find.
The drydown kicks in with milky Patchouli and Sandalwood, leaving a dusty and milky spice trail. I didn’t quite get the Jasmine and Rose notes that this supposedly has, but the hint of Bergamot was there, and rather nice in among the Amber and Sandalwood.
All in all, this is new books, a bit of patchouli and a kind of milky, quiet spice.
The blonde, ditsy, sexy starlet did well. I am reminded of a quote from Dolly Parton: “I don’t mind when people call me a dumb blonde, because I know I know I’m not dumb, and I also know I’m not blonde”
Fancy Nights joins With Love in my Inexpensive Celebrity Scent “Hidden Gem” Hall of Fame.
PS If you like Prada Amber, then this is exceedingly similar, but you didn’t hear that from me. I wasn’t here, OK?