Tag Archives: Dior Poison

Five Decades of #Scent Memories: National Fragrance Day 2017

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Dear reader, I am now in my fifth decade and due to toast the start of my sixth in 2020 when I turn 50.

To me, scent is like a Tardis. It takes you back in time so fast that you can be stepping out the Tardis door into 1976 after one whiff of Panache.  More instantly evocative than a photograph or a song,  a fragrance can whisk you back to the scent of the primary school teacher whose name you forget, but whose perfume you can recall as if a switch has been flicked in your head.

Please join me on my mini odyssey through the smell of the 70s, 80s, 90s, Noughties and Twenteens and do share your #scentmemories below.

The Smell of the 1970s.

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I was born in 1970. The first ten years of my life can be summed up, at least in the olfactory sense, as a combination of cigarette smoke (not mine), the smell of a roast cooking, mud, ferns, bluebells, Woogiraffedleigh Green Apple Shampoo, Avon Pretty Peach and Avon Occur, in a giraffe shaped bottle, no less. Quite how giraffes and perfume go together, I never thought to question, but he literally had some brass neck.

My teachers wore Cacharel Anais Anais, which hasn’t changed to this day, as long as you sidestep the “Delice” version. I can’t remember what scent my mother wore, but she always smelled nice.  My grandmother wore Coty L’Aimant, which I didn’t recognise then, but which moves me to gusty sighs of melancholy  now she isn’t here.

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The Smell of the 1980s.

Formative years mean a thirst to both stand out and blend in at the same time. I was groping for an identity and slowly moving into and out of adolescence. It was 1981 before I gradually weaned myself off

sindyplaying with Sindy dolls. I can still vividly recall the smell of the vinyl heads and strange nylon hair, inevitably knotted to all hell within a week of ownership.

My first ever scent that I paid for myself was a splash bottle of Bluebell perfume from Boots No 7. Long since discontinued, I have sought that bluebell scent ever since.  My mother bought me a bottle of Jontue from a trip she went on, and one Christmas I had a bottle of Cachet.  I wore this A LOT.  I also remember Avon Eau Givreé: a beautiful green hesperide that has long since been discontinued.

My teens saw me receive my first ever bottle of proper fragrance from my father for my 18th birthday. It was Estee Lauder Beautiful and I still love it now. 1988 saw me leave home at go to Exeter Uni, where the most memorable scents were Marlboro cigarettes, red wine and lashings of Cacharel LouLou.

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Meanwhile, over in Denver Colorado, Alexis Carrington was cracking the whip.  Excess, big shoulder pads, big hair and big smells were all the rage.  On the High Street, there was the unmistakable cloud of Giorgio Beverly Hills and a miasma of Dior Poison mingled with Body Shop White Musk and Dewberry. The Nightclubs smelled of Calvin Klein Obsession, and my one little egg shaped bottle took me into the 1990s.

The Smell of the 1990s

The caring, sharing Nineties sobered everyone up and made us wear ozonic scents in an urge to cleanse ourselves of the Eighties excesses. All my friends smelled of Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey, which is no bad thing. I had discovered Chanel Cristalle, also a light scent that was the opposite side of the spectrum to Poison, Obsession and Giorgio. The 1990s saw me graduate and move to London, which smelled very different to Devon.  London air is thicker, dirtier and there were more cigarettes smoked and more traffic fumes, but reader, to me it was the smell of freedom and wonder and possibility.

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1992 saw the launch of the iconic Thierry Mugler Angel. I remember smelling it for the first time in Harrods Perfume Hall and thinking “but why would I want to smell like chocolate?” I appreciate it now of course, for the multi-faceted classic it is, but back then it was revolutionary among the ozonic and airy fairy Nineties scents. Meanwhile, in 1997, Gucci launched the now much-mourned Gucci Envy.  So good was this floral green scent with a vein of metal running through it, that I dumped Cristalle and remained almost exclusive to Gucci Envy until it was cruelly taken from us in 2007.

The Smell of The Noughties

The Noughties saw a revolution in celebrity fragrance.  Elizabeth Taylor had been churning them out since 1991, but they were largely seen as fan fodder until 2002 when Jennifer Lopez launched the brilliant Glow. It was a clean, white fragrance that pleased the crowds and began a snowball of celebrity fragrances taking off.  Britney Spears got in on it, as did many of her contemporaries and soon the perfumeries were chock full of celeb scents. Sarah Jessica Parker brought new possibilities with SJP Lovely and some of the snobbery dissipated when we realised that celebrity stuff can be pretty darn good. (I’m still a celeb scent geek)

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The noughties also mark the only two years of my adult life where I have been without any fragrance and that’s because I had my sons during that decade.  Their first scent memory is of my skin.  No deodorant, no perfume, just me.  It wasn’t easy getting those babies, but it was worth it.

The Smell of the Twenteens

Now things really start to spice up. I started my blog on January 2nd 2013. It was a combination of an urge to write and a channel for my reawakened perfume passion. This was brought about by a lean period, during which Chanel was very much out of reach.  As a result, I developed a bit of a cheap and cheerful habit as my receipts from allbeauty.com will attest.  From that, and the three huge boxes of samples that dear Lisa Jones let me borrow, the floodgates opened.

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The biggest scent launch of the Twenteens has to be the seminal Lancome La Vie est Belle. The fruity floral explosion of the early ‘teens segued into a river of caramel and praline   Hot on its heels was YSL Black Opium , which dismayed many Opium fans, but brought a  cohort of new fans to the brand.

In recent  times, I’ve been coming across the semi-ubiquitous jasmine sambac note that  seems to be so popular right now.  You can find it in  Paco Rabanne Olympea,  Givenchy Dahlia Divin and Versace Eros. The big launch of 2017 is Mon Guerlain, and whilst it’s not my cup of tea, I do harbour hopes that it will  lead us into a big lavender  trend.

As we point in the direction of 2020, I’m looking forward to the alleged forthcoming trends of milk notes, peony and a renaissance of my favourite genre: green notes.

Interestingly, celebrity fragrance sales are on the wane, but guess what’s on the up?  Niche perfume.  Which is very good news indeedy.

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How about you?

What scents bring back instant memories for you?  It doesn’t matter how random or everyday they are, I always love to hear from you.

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Dior Poison Girl: I tried..really I did.

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I’m a big fan of Dior Poison. If you ever want to smell what the eighties smelled like, get yourself a bottle of this tuberose/jasmine nuclear bomb. It’s a classic. I also love Hypnotic Poison, which is as different as could be, but a beauty in its own right. Therefore I approached Dior Poison Girl with an open mind and friendly wave. But sadly, we are not going to be friends.

Trying Dior Poison Girl made my heart slump in the same way as YSL Black Opium did. I love Opium, and when I tried Black Opium I felt like I had been bitten and scratched and told to scram. Poison Girl had much the same effect.

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Opening with bitter orange, yet still being overly sweet, Poison Girl blossoms like a generic fruity floral, and indeed there is a whiff of those roses in there somewhere. However, the vanilla, super strength if you please, soon barges in and plonks itself down rudely. After that it takes over. There is some almond in there, which dares to peek in, but to me it smelled more like coffee and chocolate. I usually like almond: done with a light hand it can be creamy and nutty, but not here. Here it smells like a 4D Augustus Gloop Experience. I’m drowning in it and I long to go up the pipe and escape.

Sillage wise, this falls somewhere between Angel and Coco Mademoiselle parfum strength. I’ll quit before IT does.

I predict this will be a big seller, in the same vein as YSL Black Opium and Thierry Mugler Angel. It has the fruity floral hook, followed by the sweet, sweet, SWEET gourmand punch that knocks you out and sticks around. There’s a definite taste for that now, and I can’t argue with sales figures.  But subjectively? I’ll pass on this one.  When I say “pass” I mean “swerve dramatically.”

Dior Poison Girl, I wanted to like you, but we’re never going to be friends.

Stockists

Dior Poison Girl is available from House of Fraser, John Lewis and Debenhams to name but a few.

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Dior Pure Poison: Scary Name, But Very Well Behaved.

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 With a name like Pure Poison and a nuclear sister like Dior Poison ( see my earlier review), you would expect Pure Poison to smell sort of “Back away and put down the baseball bat”. However, it is about as scary as a librarian .

Whilst this is not my personal cup of tea, I do like it and was sufficiently intrigued to wear it two days in a row just to be sure of what I wanted to say about it.

It opens with a hint of citrus: almost to the pint of being astringent.  For a few seconds it’s vodka, then it turns into Cacharel Noa (mm, I love that one).  After that an aura of sophisticated Jasmine, Neroli and Gardenia kick in, making this a delightful heady floral, though a rich one rather than a refreshing summery one. It makes me think that older women should wear it, rather than young women, even though this goes against the grain of my belief that anyone should wear anything if it lights their fire.

Image There is, however, a definite whiff of the 80s about this, and I was reminded of the notoriously unapologetic Giorgio Beverly Hills. 

This is not for me, but it is not half bad.  If you had sat next to me wearing this rich white floral, I would never have guessed it was Pure Poison.  As always in the world of fragrance, smelling is believing.

Dior Poison: If Darth Vader Was A Woman…

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Dior’s Poison blazed the trail for outrageous 80s scents that everyone still remembers.  They typified the 80s era of greed, glitz and excess. You were nobody unless you had shoulder pads, stilettos, and a mobile phone the size of a house brick. The mantra was “More is More” and Poison added it’s volume to the  clamour of noise to ensure anyone who wore it made an entrance.

Some perfumes are born a myth. Provocative and mysterious since its creation, Poison is Dior’s ultimate weapon of seduction.

Meanwhile, many people were wrinkling their noses at this confusing cacophony of perfume notes that were the olfactory equivalent of entering a nightclub whilst watching a television show and listening to music at the same time.

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photo:Wiki

Sometimes I can look at the notes in a perfume and ascertain whether I would like it or not.  This is not a substitute for trying it on skin, but it often helps me make a list of future Must Tries.

If you look at the notes in Poison, it would still be hard to imagine what it smelled like.  Smelling is believing. There’s Plum, Booze, Amber, Patchouli, Jasmine, Roses, Woods, Honey, Incense, Tuberose, Carnation, the kitchen sink, a cuddly toy, a coffee maker and Uncle Tom Cobley and all. I could go on. I can usually smell a hint of Liquorice too.

Poison will swallow up all  its rivals. In a room of a dozen different perfumes, you would only be able to smell the Poison wearer. It obliterates and dominates. Longevity is as long as a prison sentence and harder to reduce.

However, I will go against the grain and say it’s brilliantly done.  It captures an era in a bottle more effectively than a spell. It takes me back to being 15 years old and watching Joan Collins strut her stuff on Dynasty, whilst over on BBC, JR was pouring himself a large Scotch in the middle of the day, and on the news, Diana was all coy glances and dazzling gowns.  One whiff of Poison and I am there.

The bottle is like Cinderella’s pumpkin: full of dark magic.  I don’t want to smell like this, but I am so glad they made it.

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

LUSH Euphoria: Terrible Thing, Bitterness

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The latest Gorilla range from LUSH is full of typical LUSH originality. With marvellous 70s style line drawings on the labels and simple clear glass bottles, the packaging is no fuss and retro. The usual off-on-a-tangent range of names is all in order: Sikkim Girls, Furze, Voice of Reason and Euphoria to name but four.

 I was confident that I was going to love Euphoria. Could it really be Woodstock in a bottle? A Summer of Love happening right under my nose? It contains Clary Sage, a wonderfully evocative hippy scent from my early 20s.  What could possibly go wrong?

 Firstly, the opening note is so high pitched and bitter that my nose could not forgive it.  I like a bit of bitter, especially in a green scent, but there are extremes that should not be overstepped. The bitterness made my eyes scrunch up, like when you eat a tart orange first thing in the morning. The bitterness made me think of poison, and I don’t mean the one that Dior makes. More like Hemlock or Bitter Aloes.

 Usually I love Lime and Grapefruit in a scent, but this is nasty, like drinking Fairy liquid (I only did that once by accident and can still remember the soapy bitter taste). Euphoria was created by Mark Constantine, who makes up the father and son team of Mark and Simon Constantine, who are the LUSH “Noses”, and based in Poole, where it all began. In fact, Mark is the co-founder of LUSH, so even if I don’t like Euphoria, I feel I ought to thank him for all my other favourites: Sea Vegetable Soap, Fairy Jasmine bath bombs, the Smell of Weather Turning fragrance, and the wonderful Dream Cream.

 But Euphoria? No. All that bitterness had the opposite effect on me. Euphoric I was not. If something smelled like this, I wouldn’t want  to eat it for fear of dying a long Gothic death by poison.

Hypnotic Poison: If This Ain’t Love, Why Does it Feel So Good?

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I may have acted too quickly. I try and keep an open mind about perfume. I am always happy to try new things, and as you know, dear reader, I will wear something horrible all day just to be sure I hate it.

Mention Dior Poison to me and it elicits a shudder. This was the Eighties’ answer to smoke bombs. Walk into a room wearing this, and it would empty. The able bodied would run and the feeble would sink to the floor and get trampled in the rush to flee, wailing “it’s too late for me, just save yourselves!”

Over the years, I have pointedly ignored the fact that Poison has started breeding. Little flankers everywhere, popping up on the perfume shelves.  I blanked them like a bothersome in-law at a wedding.

Recently, I was offered a test of Hypnotic Poison (thanks LW yet again!) and thought I may as well try it, since I do have to write about 365 scents before my work here is done. I can’t afford to be fussy. Thus I accepted a little loan of Hypnotic Poison. It was not as I expected.

With nary a nod to its sister Poison, I found myself in a tasty mist of Playdoh and Vanilla with thick squishy Coconut in there too. On paper, I am not supposed to like it at all. In actual fact, it was rather lovely.

There is definite Vanilla and oily crushed Almonds to the power of a hundred. I don’t usually like Gourmands, since they remind of hot, flustered baking sessions in the kitchen where I find myself too often some weeks. However, this Marzipan wonder took me back in time to the days when The Body Shop had a Perfume Bar, which I have mentioned before. They did a great oil called Vanilla. It was heady and smelt of Marzipan and had liquor like intensity. And here it is again in Hypnotic Poison. The Body Shop still does a Vanilla fragrance, but it’s not the same.

I am testing the EDT of Hypnotic Poison, rather than the EDP and lasting power is good, despite my hayfever. Strangely, I can’t help liking this nutty, bitter Almond (Arsenic?) scent. The only similarity it has with Poison is the cute round bottle. And thank Heavens for that.

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