Tag Archives: Drugstore Classics

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.

1970s

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.

BeFunky Collage70s home

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.

1980s collage

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.

collage 1990s

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)

noughties collage

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.

twenteens

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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Wearing Your Mum’s Perfume- Drugstore Classics From the 1970s

tweed ad

Are you one of those people who recoils at the idea of smelling like their Mum? I am.  I confess that I very rarely wear the same perfume as my Mum, no matter how much I like it.  In fact I try not to introduce her to perfumes I love for that very reason. No offence Mum, if you’re reading this! ( I bet she’s not) and happy birthday for tomorrow.

However, as a child of the seventies I am having a big  fit of nostalgia lately. So many new releases from the last two years have been berry-heavy, vanilla heavy and have more in common with an ice cream sundae than a cosmetics counter.  It used to be aldehydes and oakmoss and now its all candy floss and Kate Moss (which rhymes if you say it right). When did it become cool to smell like cupcakes instead of eating them? Is it any wonder that I long for the seventies?

alibaba.com
alibaba.com

Seventies fragrances are generally looked down on by the youth of today and no wonder: modern tastes have moved on.  However, as an ardent fan of Coty L’Aimant and Panache and Avon Timeless I fully embrace those aldehydic affordable scents from my formative years and I reckon retro scents are due for a comeback.

I’ve picked ten of my favourites out below just in case you, like me, fancy a shot of retro fragrant frugality.  I have only selected perfumes you can still buy today and perfumes that are still comparably affordable (not counting eBay where even the discontinued can be had for the right price)).  In fact, the added bonus is that all the fragrances I have listed come in at well under a tenner and some are nearer five pounds.   Is it too early to use the C word?  Of course not.  Here I go then- these would make great affordable Christmas presents. Check these out:

Avon.com
Avon.com

Avon Timeless:An ambery, powdery scent created in 1974.  Avon discontinued it in favour of more modern releases but customer demand brought it back in 2012. My Avon Lady tells me it’s her bestseller.

tweed old1
alamy.com

Tweed:Tweed is underrated if you ask me.  Its chock full of citruses and flowers,  goes a bit Mr Sheen  for a bit with lavender and beeswax, then ends up with a woody, patchouli afterglow that lasts a whole day. Cheap as chips and a pleasant change among the sweety/cakey miasma of the Twenteens.

alibaba.com
alibaba.com

Panache: I wear this often.  Its jasmine, aldehydes and roses last around twelve hours on me, making my little 3.95 bottle fantastic value for money. You can still get it for well under a tenner.

hprints.com
hprints.com

Coty L’Aimant: Many Chanel No 5 fans eschew this  gem, when actually, they were launched a few years apart in the late 1920s and smell very similar.  Longevity is excellent and despite its tiny price, it never smells cheap.

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Yardley Lavender: I’ve got the lot: Yardley Rose, Yardley April Violets and Yardley English Lavender. You can’t beat a classic floral. I also love to layer April Violets over existing scent that isn’t, in my open ion, “violetty enough”

zando.co.za
zando.co.za

Lace: Formerly Yardley Lace, this is now made by Taylor of London. Lace opens with aldehydes and citrus notes, goes through a  blousy, rather loud  floral phase and beds down into moss, amber and  patchouli.  It’s similar to Chique, but soapier.

amazon.co.uk
amazon.co.uk

Chique: With hand on heart I can genuinely tell you that this mossy chypre reminds me of Estee Lauder Knowing and gets better the longer you wear it.  Chique is under ten quid and I proudly own a wear a bottle myself.  Wouldn’t be without it.

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Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass: another spicy aldehyde, full of peppery geranium and classic roses.  Perfect from the fridge in summer. Still very good value and widely available.

charlieblue

Charlie Blue: Okay I admit, I didn’t used to like this at all, but once I entered the chypre portal, it made more sense to me. It’s very cheap, very long lasting and has a mossy, spicy base that is harder to find over the High Street counter today. Its remarkably cheap, usually under £4.

jovan

Jovan Musk For Women: Launched in 1972 and still going strong today: Every Fragrance Wardrobe needs a musk and this is a good one. This has not dated since its launch and is not just a good quality musk on its own but is excellent for layering too. I bagged my bottle locally but you can find it on Fragrance Direct or Amazon UK.

 

Stockists

Jovan Musk is available from FragranceX, Coty L’Aimant is available from allbeauty.com or Fragrance Direct, Tweed, Chique, Lace and Panache are all available from Amazon UK and allbeauty.com, Yardley fragrances are available from Boots or allbeauty.com, Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass is available from Escentual or allbeauty.com, Charlie Blue is available from Boots or Amazon UK, Avon Timeless is available from AvonShop UK.

Acknowledgments

With thanks to Milton Lloyd who kindly provided me with Tweed, Panache, Chique and Lace. Opinions are my own.

 

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Vanderbilt by Gloria Vanderbilt: A Thrifty Classic

vanderbilt ad 2

If you were a child of the Seventies, you may remember the adverts on TV for Vanderbilt jeans.  Daring designer Gloria Vanderbilt, she of the impeccable heritage, launched a range of jeans that were tighter than the world had seen before.  Suddenly the derriere was very much “in” and fashionable backsides had Gloria’s name all over them.

www.iwillnotdiet.com
www.iwillnotdiet.com

Between scandal, tragedy and court cases, Vanderbilt, a talented artist and writer, also launched a range of perfumes with L’Oreal and the original scent: Vanderbilt by Gloria Vanderbilt, has become a quiet classic with no signs of quitting yet, rather like it’s 90 year old creator.

The success of Vanderbilt led to the launch of twelve flankers, including fragrances for men, but none have eclipsed the success of this slow and steady grafter that can be bought just about anywhere for under ten pounds.

vanderbilt advert swanIf I had been asked to describe this blind, I would have said it was most definitely Iris against a sweet Tuberose and Musk base. Two out of three ain’t bad, as Meatloaf would say, and I was very surprised to see that this contains no Iris at all.

Here are the notes according to Fragrantica: Top notes: Aldehydes, Pineapple, Bergamot, Orange Blossom, Lavender, Green notes. Middle notes:  Carnation, Tuberose, Orris Root, Rose, Jasmine, Ylang. Base notes:  Sandalwood, Cinnamon, Opoponax, Vetiver, Civet,  Musk

Many of these ingredients are absent to my nose (no Civet and vandebiltthankfully, no Pineapple), you may find it’s different for you.  Considering there are so many varied ingredients,  I still find that rooty note that is usually associated with Iris, is the most dominant.  However, I think it’s probably a combination of vegetable-like Orris Root and creamy rich Tuberose. The drydown is a pleasant crowd pleasing White Musk with a hint of something woody: maybe a whisper of Vetiver and rasp of Sweet Myrrh aka Opoponax, but overall, I still say that Iris lovers will go for this.

Age wise, this could suit young or old, although today’s young tastes might initially eschew it in favour of more sugary scents.  It’s versatile for day or night, inoffensive and cheap enough to wear every day.  Longevity is pretty good at around six hours and you can easily top up from just about anywhere should you run out.  Frankly, these things are all I ask from a drugstore classic.

vanderbilt

Gloria Vanderbilt had such a colourful and interesting life, it would make a great movie. With her wealth, she could have gone down the exclusive route  where fragrance was concerned and produced something with a “no riff raff” price tag, but she didn’t and she created something entirely pleasant and accessible. Kudos  and my respect to this Grande Dame of Design.

You can buy Vanderbilt from Amazon or allbeauty.com if you’re in the UK or from Sears if you’re in the USA or Canada, but it’s pretty much everywhere.

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Dana Toujours Moi: “With a Spicy French Accent”

toujours moi advert

As you know, I am a big champion of smelling good on a budget (although I like to splash out sometimes too).

I recently ordered Dana Toujours Moi from eBay for the princely sum of £3.99.  In return, I had a cute 15ml spray bottle of Toujours Moi Eau de Cologne.  Oddly enough, the box is packaged separately, which seems a like a lot of packaging, but if I am extra thorough with my recycling this week, my guilt will lessen the tiny blow.  You can also find Dana Toujours Moi on Amazon.com.

toujours moi bottle

Originally made by Corday in 1921, and now by Dana, Toujours Moi is an Oriental.  No doubt about it.  And don’t be fooled by the “Eau de Cologne” label either, this lasts until bedtime.  Next week.

The notes according to Fragrantica are : Orange Blossom, Sandalwood, Musk, Lavender, Lilac, Jasmine and Vetiver. The notes are not arranged in any particular order.

toujours moiWhat I experienced on the first spray is a wonderfully vintage-y  blast of  spicy floral notes, settling down into something more powdery and richer than its notes would have me believe.  I would have thought there was Amber, and even a touch of Benzoin in here, but there’s not.  For a few moments, it reminded me of Tauer Le Maroc Pour Elle– a whimsical spicy Lavender scent with a hippy vibe that reminds me of outdoor markets on a sunny day. ( see my earlier review)

The Lavender  and Lilac lend an old fashioned feel to Toujours Moi and there is definitely a powdery touch in there somewhere.  Some people might label this old fashioned, but I say bring it on.

lav

Lasting power is amazing at this price:  at an hour it stays strong, after that, it gives a little enticing wafts for a couple more hours, and after that it’s close to skin until bedtime.

This would be too traditional for a modern cupcake palate, but for those of you like your fragrance classic, with a spicy vintage vibe, this is for you.  It is the kind of très French perfume your mother may have received for Christmas in the early 70s.

I have to share what it says on the box,

“Sensual and full-bodied, a provocative romantic scent spoken with a spicy French accent”

Stockists: You can find this on eBay iof you look hard, and it’s available  from Fragrancenet and Amazon.com

 Paris 065

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Tweed-It’s Golden Oldie Time: Bear With Me.

tweed (1)

I have very happy memories of scents in the 70s. It was the decade I went from nought to ten and grown up ladies were the blueprint of what I was to be become one day.

tweed old1I am not the only forty something who remembers their mothers, aunts and grandmothers dousing themselves in Tweed. Everyone remembers it, but nobody owns it. Except my friend Lisa who, as you know, is canny when it comes to perfume.

Based on her interest, and having been initiated into the Chypre portal via dreamy Balmain de Balmain and  Jolie Madame,  I allowed a small bottle to land by the till of my local chemist and fall into my bag in exchange for money. Oops!

vintageadbrowser.com
vintageadbrowser.com

Opening notes are clearly and loudly Lavender and Geranium.  It reminds me of Tauer’s Le Maroc Pour Elle: only because of the lavender opening, after that they part ways.

The Geranium keeps it prickly and it reminds me of Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass  for the first hour. I don’t actually enjoy the first hour of Tweed, but it gets better, trust me.

In the middle phase, the Lavender stays loud and the Cinnamon adds spice.  There’s noisy Jasmine- loud and proud, but the synthetic Lavender jars a little.  There is a disquieting hint of disinfectant.

tweed ad

The base notes provide the bit worth waiting for.  Oakmoss, Vetiver, Patchouli and Benzoin. It’s a Woody, Mossy finish that lingers long beyond what anyone would expect for £4.99 from a little independent chemist.  For those of you who don’t live round the corner from me, you can buy this from Amazon or Allbeauty.com. It’s less than ten quid and worth it just for that amazing base note and the great longevity.

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Dana Tabu: A Tart With a Heart

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Created in 1932 by  Jean Carles  with the remit to create a fragrance “for a prostitute”, Dana Tabu has stuck around and has been a favourite of millions over the years. Tabu is regarded as a Drugstore Classic: that is to say affordable, ubiquitous, and an acceptably good blast from the past. Wearing this today elicits nostalgic memories from people in their 40s and 50s who remember their Mother or Aunts smelling of this. However, Tabu has a lot to offer the modern perfume wearer too and wearing it today has been nothing less than pleasurable.

Needless to say, this fragrance has been through numerous reformulations. Ingredients increase in cost, yet prices need to remain affordable. I do not pretend to be an expert on all the changes made over the years, so I cannot hope to list them here. However, you will always find those who prefer the original, the vintage, the one from the 80s, the new one …and so it goes on. What I have in front of me is the non violin shaped Eau de Toilette (like the one pictured above). It’s not strong and the sillage wouldn’t bother a fellow commuter. Lasting power isn’t more than three hours on me, but, as I explain later,  you can often “secure” a fleeting scent by pinning it down with another. Alternatively, spraying clothes and hair makes a scent less flyaway.

However the fragrance itself immediately reminds me of my room as a student. I was always burning Patchouli joss sticks and the dried smoke from the spent sticks would smell just like this. Smoky, spicy and with a whiff of Patchouli. Tabu is like a watered down poor relation of Youth Dew and this could be down to the heavy note of Cloves. I smelt Oranges too, and a  hint of Vetiver and Oakmoss (though I doubt it’s the real thing). Civet is listed as a note, but I didn’t get anything animalic from this. In fact, it smells clean, like lemon washing up liquid, albeit for a few seconds, before settling down to its smoky aromas.

Tabu is widely available for less than ten pounds (UK) and is an excellent addition to any scent wardrobe. It’s good for winter especially, although it does make me laugh that it is described rather formally as “recommended for romantic wear”. But I would happily wear it in the day without making eyes at my husband. It’s light enough for daytime and wouldn’t knock anyone out.

It’s an inexpensive spicy, peppery treat of a perfume, despite lacking good longevity. I often find with thinner, inexpensive perfumes that they make excellent layering scents.  In fact I tried this over Yves Rocher Rose Absolue and it was fabulous. The Rose was made complex and spicy, and Tabu seemed to last longer for being pinned down.

I have a great deal of affection for cheap and cheerful scents that do the job. If you’d told me a few years back that I’d have a big bottle of cheap prostitute perfume on my dressing table,  and that I’d be pleased about it, I never would have believed you. But then I never would have believed that perfume from Lidl is worth buying too, but it is.

The rules with perfume:

Rule One: There are no rules

Stockists

You can buy Dana Tabu from allbeauty.com and from Perfume Click.  Prices are usually less than £12 a bottle You can also try eBay, of course.

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