Tag Archives: fragrance

The Perfume Society Beautiful Blossoms Discovery Box

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Excuse me a minute whilst I gush like a fan.  The Perfume Society Discovery Boxes are my new guilty pleasure.  In fact, I don’t even feel guilty.  They are my new obsession and The Perfume Society haven’t asked me to say so.  I am besotted.

shadersYears ago, when I was a slip of a girl (many, many years ago) my late grandmother gave me a wonderful Christmas gift.  She had decorated a little basket with some fabric remnants, making a frilled lining, and filled it with beauty bits and bobbins.  In it were bath cubes, setting lotion, a sachet of Shaders and Toners (remember them?) bath pearls and various other mini delights.  It was such a cornucopia that I eked it out for a long time and have never forgotten what a treat it was to receive.  I’ve had nothing like it since, but the old feelings came rushing back when I received my first Perfume Society Discovery Box a few months back.  I’m now on my fourth and the thrill has not dissipated.

There is always a book of sniffing strips, postcards with notes about each perfume and discussion prompts in case you want to get a perfume club going ( and I do), and then last but not least, there is a selection of seven or eight perfume samples, often hard to get, and usually an “extra”, which in the past has consisted of Liz Earle skincare, Crabtree and Evelyn hand cream,  and L’Occitane Roses et Reines hand cream.

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This month I have the Beautiful Blossoms Discovery Box and it contains: a quad of Yardley floral EDTs,  Miller Harris Couer de Jardin, Fragonard Jasmine, Jimmy Choo Blossom, La Perla Peony Blossom, Ruth Mastenbroek Amorosa, Agonist Isis, Chloe Love Story , Philosophy Amazing Grace and Elemis British Botanical Shower Cream.

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I can sit there sniffing away of an evening with the TV on, blissfully trying stuff out for my blog and feeling very much in my element.  It also means my sample selection has expanded in a way that makes my eyes light up like a miser in a goldmine.

So this isn’t a review of a perfume, but if you like perfume, these Discovery Boxes will save you a traipse round a  High Street smelling of so many perfumes you can’t remember the name of the one you liked.  Or they might fill a very pleasant evening of wrist sniffing whilst watching old reruns of House MD on Netflix with a  cup of tea.  Like what I do. Bliss.

Stockists

The Perfume Society Discovery Boxes are available on the Perfume Society website for £15, although subscribers get first dibs and a discount.

 

L’Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse aux Papillons

la chasse

With such a whimsical name, it was easy to be attracted to this scent like a butterfly to a buttercup.  With a seemingly mixed bag of reviews from the gushing to the nonplussed, I have to sadly align myself with the latter camp.

La Chasse aux Papillons opens with a whisper and then gets dirty, like twigs.  There is a hint of dried up buds, and an indolic background of jasmine.  Tuberose is alleged to be the dominant mistress here, but I could not smell any.  There is definitely Lime Blossom, but again, a dryness, like a flaky leaf, emerged on my skin.  Maybe Tauer’s Zeta spoiled me for other lime blossom scents.  There is freshness to this of sorts, and it certainly suits the spring season, but I was not enamoured of the white flowers with a hint of mud and dried leaves, nor of its light sillage and poor longevity.  I found it to smell almost medicinal or clinical, but that could be my brain getting confused because jasmine is often  used in commercial air freshener and soap.  Jasmine has many facets, and I didn’t care for this one.

Pinterest
Pinterest

Pity though, because I liked Premier Figuer and Timbuktu too and have a whole tin of L’Artisan samples to plough through yet.  But in the world of fragrance I would lack discernment if I loved everything a brand made, wouldn’t I?

I still love you L’Artisan Parfumeur, but I’ll leave this one to its fans.

Stockists

You can buy L’Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse aux Papillons on Amazon UK, Amazon.com and of course from www.lartisanparfumeur.com.  I have the sample tin, which is a great way to try before you buy, and you can buy it here.

sample tin

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Penhaligon’s Bluebell

bluebell

I have long wanted to try Penhaligons Bluebell, despite knowing that it was a favourite of Mrs Thatcher, of whom I was not a fan.  Interestingly, it is also rumoured to have been a favourite of the late Princess Diana, and the very current Miss Kate Moss.

The reason I have longed to try this is two fold.  Firstly, when I was growing up there was a field and some woodland near our house which were  awash with bluebells every year.  I would pick huge bunches of them and the smell of them is a memory that has always stayed with me.  Olfactive memory is never to be underestimated and can pack more of a punch than a photo.

The second reason, tied in with the first reason, is that the very first bottle of perfume that  I ever bought myself with my own money was a little glass bottle of Bluebell perfume from Boots The Chemist.  It was a splash bottle, square, and made of frosted glass.  It has long since been discontinued but I remember buying it in my early teens and splashing it on liberally.

 

Bluebells in the Forest of Dean. Photo by me
Bluebells in the Forest of Dean. Photo by me

I had a Penhaligons Scent Library sample tin for Christmas, but Bluebell was missing.  Luckily dear friend of the blog  Patsi came to the rescue and I was delighted to receive a sample of both Bluebell and Violetta from her yesterday, for which, many thanks indeed Patsi.  I cannot pick a favourite from the two!

Penhaligons Bluebell lived up to my expectations.  It smells exactly like a fresh bluebell, only cranked up a little and made more intense.  The natural smell of a bluebell is more subtle, but we’re not going for realism here, we are going for reproduction. There is slightly metallic, medicinal tang to it, a little like Jasmine at its freshest.  Alongside the central bluebell note ( listed as Hyacinth, but all the same family)  are other floral notes that fill in the gaps as the sharp, high pitched Bluebell wavers, unable to keep the fresh note going.  Here I can discern Lily of The Valley and a faint rose, before the Bluebell note melds into the spicier, base notes with its cloves and cinnamon, used sparingly, like a faint outline.

 

kew.org
kew.org

There is a definite vegetable note in the base, reminding me that bluebells are related to asparagus, but it is eclipsed by wafts of  pleasing flora.   Would I buy this? Yes.  And I would also buy Penhaligons Violetta and wear them together, because, oh boy, that smells amazing!

Stockists

You can buy Penhaligons Bluebell from Penhaligons and Penhaligons stockists and franchises, which you can find here.  You can also find Penhaligons on allbeauty.com, Amazon UK and Amazon.com, as well as eBay.

Versace Eros Pour Femme

fragrantica

fragrantica

I had a sample of Versace Eros Pour Femme in the most recent Discovery Club Box from the Fragrance Shop.  This might be a good time to confess here that I am shamefully unfamiliar with a lot of Versace scent, having only actually reviewed two or three.  Something about the brand leaves me feeling like I can’t identify with anything they have to offer.  No offence Versace, we’re just from different worlds.  However, I rather liked Eros, but enough to buy a bottle?  We shall see.

The Fragrance Shop
The Fragrance Shop

Versace Eros Pour Femme opens with citrus and pomegranate,  both of which were very much present and correct.  The opening is sharp and refreshing,  and the pomegranate provides a little juiciness.  Then straight away, we’re heading into Jasmine Sambac territory.  Now Jasmine Sambac seems to be this year’s caramel.  Last year caramel and praline notes seemed to be everywhere, and this year I have noticed Jasmine Sambac, (sometimes called Arabian Jasmine) has been providing lots of rich white floral notes to  lots of mainstream new releases.

versace eros

Jasmine Sambac is that white flower note with a seam of not-quite-spice going through it- an almost metallic, borderline oriental richness that  screams floral , but not the light petally delicate floral, more the rich gilt chaise for the delicate Laura Ashley cushion.  It seems fitting then that it used here in a Versace scent- so renowned for the dripping luxe that is synonymous with the brand.

The Jasmine Sambac very much dominates and drowns out the initial lightness of the citrus, though if I’m not mistaken there is a faint note of lemon curd if I close my eyes and concentrate.

This is described on the sample card as belonging to the olfactive family of “floral, woody, musk” and I would say that’s a fair description.  The basenotes meld into a  sandalwoody, musky, jasmine miasma.  This is not quite a daytime summer scent, but would be at its best on hot oily skin after a day at the beach.

The bottle and packaging is suitably luxurious as you would expect, but I baulk a little at the high price tag.  I think you can get similar for less, but I’m blowed if I can think of any names right now.  This is a bit like a Marc Jacobs without the lightness maybe?  Or maybe its reminding me of Givenchy Dahlia Divin.

Conclusion:  Yes, I don’t dislike it, but no I wouldn’t buy a bottle

Stockists

Almost ubiquitous, you can buy Versace Eros Pour Femme from Debenhams, Escentual, The Fragrance Shop, Harrods, and Boots to name but a few.  If you’re outside the UK, you could try  all the big department stores and Amazon.com or Sephora.com

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The Candy Perfume Boy, once again, writes a review with which I wholeheartedly agree. I deliberately don’t read the reviews of others until after I have written my own, and I found afterwards that Thomas and I both found this rather lacking.  Sadface.

 

 

 

Jimmy by Bruno Fazzolari.

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Fresh flowers and daylight. Violet, cassis and rose over a base of moss and ambergris.

Jimmy is one of three samples I was kindly sent by artist and perfumer Bruno Fazzolari, from his studio in San Francisco . Inspired by artist James Schuyler, Jimmy is all about the violets, but it doesn’t stop there.

To me Jimmy awakened many nostalgic memories of my childhood, where I remember being outside more than I was in, and endlessly picking flowers ( True. Ask my Mum who had an almost permanent yoghurt pot of wild flowers in the windowsill from me).

What Jimmy illustrates to me is that sometimes the list of notes in a scent bears no relation to your interpretation.

The notes, as listed on Fragrantica, are: Ylang, Ylang, Lemon, Rose, Geranium, Heliotrope, Sandalwood and Violet Leaf.

@Bruno Fazzolari
@Bruno Fazzolari

What I actually  get is a sunny day with the smell of mossy violets,  a bit of banana skin, presumably from the ylang ylang, and armfuls of bluebells. It is as if a long forgotten scent from the 1970s has emerged.

It is “fresh flowers and daylight” and it certainly fits the job description and goes the extra mile too.  This is the smell of a summer’s day through the eyes of a child.  It’s faint earthiness is the smell of muddy knees, a dress that needs a wash, and flowers and sun and that priceless era where you never have to look at a clock or check a bank balance.

Jimmy is uplifting and nostalgic and has taken me on an unexpectedly touching trip down memory lane.

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Stockists

Jimmy is available from these stockists in the USA, or you can order a preview set from here.

 

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Montecristo by Masque Milano: A New Cult Classic?

montecristo

I was recently approached by Alessandro and Riccardo of Masque Milano to ask if I would be receptive to a few samples of their fragrances.  Naturally I was delighted (me? Turn down samples?) and just a few days later, the Fed Ex man interrupted me pruning the fuchsia to give me a parcel from Italy. Both fuchsia and perfumes are now in good order, apart from one small phial which shattered in transit and made the package smell wonderful.

Today I shall be reviewing Montecristo because it had such a big impact on me.  In fact, I would go as far as saying that it has the potential to become a cult classic.  Montecristo was created in 2013 by nose Delphine Thierry.

At first spray, Montecristo is almost a citrussy like cologne, but within minutes something interesting happens.  There is a combination of tobacco, leather and um… well body odour.   Skank if you will.  The smell of sex.   If you met a man wearing this you would find him irresistible and not quite know why. NB – this isn’t a guarantee, just an impression.  Please don’t pursue me if it goes horribly wrong.

At this point I could not stop sniffing it, but the note seems to blend in and calm down a bit as it enters the middle phase.  Whilst there is celery seed in this, it is more subtle than say, Caron Yatagan, but has a faint herby, vegetable smell which is a lot nicer than the way I am phrasing it.

The dirty/sexy/skanky note that I mentioned really caught my attention and whilst for me, it dominated; it was so beautifully framed and enhanced by other notes that it takes Montecristo into a league of its own.

Strike a pose… (photo by Fragrantica)

The note is Hyrax and according to my bible, aka Fragrantica, it is from an animal that is, almost unbelievably, the closest living relative to the elephant, despite resembling a squirrel with a knowing look. As an alternative to Castoreum (from beavers) and Civet (which look like small raccoons), the essence of Hyrax is harvested from its crystallised pee. Alarming as that sounds, it is a cruelty free way of injecting the smell of musky armpit or sweaty post coital inner thigh into a fragrance whilst allowing the animals to roam freely in the wild, free of harm.

In Montecristo, this note is complemented by woody, leather and tobacco notes which give it an intensely masculine vibe, which, even if I say so myself, smells wonderfully androgynous on a woman. Namely me.

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Longevity is fourteen hours, during which time the base notes emerge, leaving a scent of vetiver, leather, dark smoky woods, and, well how can I put this?  Dried spit.  After a while it smells like I have saliva on my arm, but before you think that’s derogatory, I actually loved it.  It smelled like a human.  It was comforting, smoky, manly and delicious.

I predict great things for Montecristo and I also predict that Lisa Wordbird will fall hard for it.

Montecristo by Masque Milano is the smell of the bad boy on the motorbike that your parents didn’t want you to date.

Stockists

Please don’t hate me UK readers, this is not available over here, but a list of stockists for Europe and the USA is here, and  if you want to try before you buy, there is a discovery set available.

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Creed Silver Mountain Water: My Take On It

fragrantica
fragrantica

 

Creed Silver Mountain Water is a revered scent with a phalanx of fans that easily outnumber little old me, who is sitting here looking singularly unimpressed.

 Creed Silver Mountain Water evokes such purity and blue skies, that it was a disappointment to find that on my skin it bore only dried tea- and I emphasise the word dried as this reminded me of pot pourri.  Sadly the dried-leaf effect was dominant at the expense of the notes I was looking forward to meeting: namely galbanum, bergamot and my beloved petitgrain.

Silver Mountain Water led me to expect a scent that evoked a crashing cold wave on a baking hot day, or a froth of powdery snow as a dashing skier  whizzed past,  making the snow looking like confetti in his wake, but no.  I’m still there with the rather unpleasant pot pourri fragrance with a slightly scorched edge as if it’s been left on a hot windowsill too long.

After a couple of hours, this bizarrely turned into Carolina Herrera 212 For Men, which has negative connotations for me- so beloved was it of  a former flatmate who  marinated in it to  eclipse other less salubrious odours.

This is the third Creed fragrance I have reviewed and I remain underwhelmed.  It brought to mind a quote from Dr Cuddy in House MD ( my current favourite Netflix boxset) “Well she’s not as delightful as she thinks she is”, and if Creed Silver Mountain Water was a person, that is what I would say about them.

Stockists

Creed Silver Mountain water is available word wide- try Sephora.com, Amazon or the big department stores.  In the UK you can try Harrods, Liberty or House of Fraser.  At £160 a bottle, try before you buy.

With Thanks

With thanks to friend of the blog Patsi, who kindly supplied the sample.

Mary Greenwell Plum

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“Fragrance is always the last touch of magic to any look I create”- Mary Greenwell

Mary Greenwell is a successful make up artist who, when looking to expand, took the agreeable route of creating a perfume range rather than a make up range.  As someone who only has five items in her make up bag, but a groaning dressing table whose legs are buckling, I applaud this decision. The nose behind the scent is the legend that is Francois Robert (who is also the nose behind Friedemodin, more of which anon).

Mary Greenwell, House of Fraser
Mary Greenwell, House of Fraser

You could be forgiven for assuming that Plum would be a fruity soliflore- that’s what I was expecting and my heart wasn’t fully in it prior to trying this.  However I couldn’t have been more wrong and Mary Greenwell Plum is actually a complex and feminine scent that unfurls its layers like a dance of the seven veils.

At first spray, Plum has, as you would expect, a dash of plum, but the plum is accompanied by so many friends that it’s is never allowed to completely dominate.  For example, alongside the plum comes peaches, usually a No-Go in my book, but it adds an agreeable booziness here that compliments the citrus notes of Bergamot and lime and strikes a pleasant balance.

Into the middle phase and here come the white flowers- all of them!  Gardenia, rich creamy tuberose, jasmine and orange flower.  It gives a richness to the boozy plum and fruit that to my nose became almost a nuttiness. Just as all these white flowers are blooming away, a chypre accord comes into play and the whole thing settles down into an ambery, mossy symphony, but always with that boozy plum in the background, which serves to enhance rather than distract.

What makes this cleverly put together is its ever changing face, rather aptly for someone in the business of changing faces.  Just when you think you’ve named it, the scent enters another phase which keeps you guessing.

It is, as I say, complex, and all the more intriguing for that.  Mary Greenwell has a range of only four scents: Lemon, Plum, Cherry and Fire.  The Perfume Society has a sample in their Holiday Collection Discovery Box and I know that Jo Fairley is a Mary Greenwell fan.

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I stumbled across Plum by dint of pure serendipity.  In swapping a bottle of scent  online I was offered a bottle of Plum and accepted, knowing nothing about it.  Sometimes the universe just wants you to try stuff.  Oh and did I mention the gorgeous pink and green packaging?  The bottle is in a little stand with a cover, and has a distinctively heavy lid that could break a window.  It exudes both class and playfulness.

Stockists

Mary Greenwell Plum is available from Harrods, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com  and Strawberry.net. Prices are very reasonable at under £40 for 50ml.

Update 2017– you can buy Plum from the Fragrance Shop UK, but hutty up. It’s at a great price but limited stcok.

NB Muse in Wooden Shoes wrote a lovely review of Plum and you can find it here.  Also, our dear friend Portia at Australian Perfume Junkies has reviewed it here.

My own lovely bottle
My own lovely bottle

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STELLA Eau de Toilette by Stella McCartney

stella

I have heard several positive noises about Stella and was delighted to find the eau de toilette in this quarter’s Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Box, along with several other great samples that made my eyes light up. To recap- The Fragrance Shop has a Discovery Club whereby they send you a box of fragrances samples once a quarter for the princely sum of £5, plus money off coupons for any or all of the featured fragrances.  It’s a good way to avoid pricey blind buys and I have been a member since December 2013. You can join here.

The Fragrance Shop
The Fragrance Shop

Stella eau de toilette is a light airy floral with a manly clean cut edge, just like one of Stella’s beautifully cut trouser suits. The opening is all pretty peony and freesia, with a lightness of hand that makes me think of floaty chiffon and flower petals.  Then the slightly more butch amber emerges in the base notes, making this a floral that refuses to be taken at face value.

Stella is gloriously wearable, and as you would come to expect from a practising vegan, no animals were harmed in its making, not even a ladybird. What I particularly like about it is that it has no vanilla or syrupy sweetness- it is all about the flower.

www.etsy.com
www.etsy.com

Whilst Stella will suit all ages, it is an excellent choice if you are buying for a teenager.  Along with Chanel Chance Eau Tendre and Especially Escada Delicate Notes, Stella has that delicacy of touch and lightness of hand that makes this a perfect daytime scent, or even a bridal scent.  Nobody could possibly find Stella de trop, yet its subtlety is its strength.

Stockists Stella eau de toilette is widely available but since I got my sample from the Fragrance Shop (UK), I should probably give them a mention.  In the USA and Canada, you can get it from  Sears or Sephora to name but two.

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Lancôme La Vie est Belle L’Absolu

fragrantica
fragrantica

 

Yesterday, just after lunch, I tried Lancôme La Vie est Belle L’Absolu and could NOT get it off.  It’s now Sunday evening.  I have had a shower, washed my hands many times and finally, only a bath shifted it.  Think cloying caramels and chocolate with a spiky base à la Thierry Mugler Angel, concentrated into essence form and with a staying power only rivalled by a tattoo.  I will even have to wash my coat as it rubs off onto my skin every time I wear it.

www.lorianzalone.com

Lancôme La Vie est Belle  has proved to be a bestseller and seems to have tapped into a trend that dictates that it’s desirable for your perfume to make you smell like Thorntons Chocolatier.  Personally I dislike anything too gourmand ( with a few notable exceptions)  because it feels like I  am eating perfume or using food on my skin : my senses get confused and don’t know what to tell my brain.

Lancôme La Vie est Belle L’Absolu was initially a pleasant surprise- finally I could smell those flowers and make out the iris, and… was that rose?  With a hint of blackcurrant?  Wonderful- for about twenty minutes. Then the caramel barged in and took over, smothering everything and turning up the volume until I was walking home holding the guilty arm away from my side as if I blamed it.

The verdict is this:  If you like this, you have a bargain on your hands.  Even a small bottle will outlast anything permanent in your life. Staying power is nuclear.  Your whole house will smell of it, and your friends will smell like this, and your car and the bus and your children and their friends.

Unfortunately I didn’t like it at all.

 

Stockists: Lancome La Vie est Belle L’Absolu is available from Sephora.com or Lancome-usa.com or lancome.ca if you are in the USA or Canada or Europe.  In the UK, you can buy it from John Lewis, Debenhams, Amazon UK or House of Fraser.

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