Tag Archives: fragrance

Yardley Lavender Eau de Toilette: Sometimes Simple Is What You Need

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It’s no coincidence that aromatherapists and masseurs use Lavender as a therapeutic scent, nor that it is a sleep inducing pillow spray. To me, it is also no coincidence that Yardley Lavender (along with or instead of Eau de Cartier) is the perfect hangover fragrance.

When you’re full of toxins and feel nauseous with overindulgence, Lavender steps in like a pure Angel come to visit and carry away those troubles like an open window in a stuffy room.

Lavender is also regarded as an “old lady” scent and this would be a good time to debunk that myth. The old ladies of today were the glamourpusses of yesteryear, and we have them to thank for being unswayed by modern trends and for keeping the market alive for the classic scents that are still being made to meet the demand of  “old ladies”.

These matriarchs are to be respected, as not only were they young once, but some day we will be the old ladies buying the Lavender and the good perfumes that are wasted on the youth. And maybe it was Oscar Wilde who once said “Youth is wasted on the young,”? Or maybe it was me the other day muttering at today’s modern teens? In any case,  calling a scent “old lady” is, to my mind, another way of saying “Classic”, and nowhere is this term more apt than  when used to describe Lavender.

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So what makes Yardley Lavender so special? Well for a start, the price is right at less than 10GBP a bottle on the High Street, and even cheaper online.  However, as well as Lavender (and I can promise you it smells authentic), I can also pick out Geranium and Clary Sage, making this a very green, slightly hippy Hesperide.  Sillage is arm’s length but pleasant. I think people will notice this simply because it will arouse nostalgia, and because it is so simple that it will stand out from today’s commuter trains of fruitchoulis and fake vanilla.

This is a soothing blast of cool summer which, along with it’s slightly  prickly and spicy Geranium, will be ideal as a summer time cleavage cooler straight from the fridge.   I have spoken before about layering and I think this will go very well will other scents: Just go with the flow, don’t let me boss you around!

As much as I love fragrances in all its forms and complexity, sometimes I like to go back to basics.  A Lavender fragrance in a scent wardrobe is akin to a walk in the country after a year in a city.  Sometimes we need that, no matter how beautiful the city.

 

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Beyonce Midnight Heat: Explosion in Tropical Candy Floss Factory

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 After being spoilt like a spoilt thing in recent weeks, with achingly high quality scents to die for, I decided to dip my toe into a fragrance that I have seen everywhere recently from Duty Free to my local Asda. One of many samples I have blagged lately, this generous 2ml dabber is wrapped in purple cellophane like a Quality Street sweetie. No less than 3 members of my household tried to disrobe it hopefully, including one of the cats who is kinky for cellophane.

It is entirely appropriate that this was mistaken for a sweet because Wow! Is this sugary! Take some candy floss, add some sugar, preferably vanilla sugar, then sweeten it up with some caramel, preferably vanilla caramel, then add loads of concentrated Tropical cordial, the stuff that’s so thick and gloopy it sticks to the inside of the bottle. Shake it all about and Bingo! Beyonce Midnight Heat.

It has some similarities with JLo Deseo, However, Deseo keeps it clean and floral, and although it has similar Tropical notes, it is a fresher, brighter fragrance.

Beyonce Midnight Heat is too sticky and hot. The sweetness is overpowering. I should imagine it could be used as an aid to weight loss since once sniffing this, you would find the idea of ingesting sugar completely repellent. In fact, that’s why I might keep this. Those leftover Easter Eggs are still in the house, calling my name. This might be just what I need.

Miss Dior: no longer for maiden aunts

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WRITTEN BY LISA JONES

Once upon a time Christian Dior released a perfume that was a classic green chypre, full of oak moss, jasmine, patchouli and galbanum, and very chic and elegant. It was 1947 and things were far more prim and proper then. Young ladies wore neat tailored houndstooth suits, prim little hats with veils and carried white gloves.

To a young lady in 2013 those clothes would feel like a costume for a party, and perhaps Miss Dior felt similarly out of date. Because she has been completely replaced. The Miss Dior that I have a bottle of is now called Miss Dior Originale and has been put very politely but firmly on the back shelf of the Dior counter.

In her place is the pink-tinted Miss Dior incarnated by the delightful Natalie Portman. Previously known as Miss Dior Cherie, this has also ‘had a little work done’ to lose the strawberry top note, has been renamed Miss Dior and is now a flagship scent for the Dior line. It comes in all permutations – from parfum and eau de parfum to eau de toilette and eau fraiche, plus assorted body lotions, gels and all that stuff nobody buys unless it’s as presents. (Do you know anyone who buys or uses ‘official’ body lotion if it hasn’t come in a gift set or as part of a hotel toiletries haul?)(My daughter’s love of Hermes Eau d’Orange Vert can be traced to a very posh hotel suite and a generous friend of mine.)

However, dear, prim and proper original Miss Dior had a secret. Though she might have looked as prim and proper as Grace Kelly on the surface with her bitter oakmoss, give dear old MD a chance to warm up on the skin and that bitterness evaporates. Then the jasmine comes out to play and the oakmoss and woody old-school patchouli become rounder and warmer than JLo’s derriere in thermal undies.

I’ve been wondering how the new Miss Dior eau de toilette with her top notes of blood orange, heart of neroli and rose and base of patchouli will compare. So today I got out the little sample and spritzed. The top notes are sweet and very briefly citrus, though that is so fleeting as to be cheetah-like. The heart is fruity and floral with an element of something artificial but not in a bad way. Then there’s the base note of patchouli; this is the clean, radiant and persistent patchouli that is a staple in modern perfumery. It doesn’t remind me of JLo’s booty, I’m afraid; not in any kind of thermal clothing. Well OK, maybe in snowboarding pants.

You know how I have been whining about frootichoolis? This is one. I expected to want to chew my arm off and profoundly regret spraying my décolletage, but in fact, it’s OK. It’s not offensive in any way, it seems to be well-balanced, it wears reasonably close to the skin and doesn’t have enormous sillage and the longevity isn’t enormous – it was gone completely within 6 hours. That made me quite happy. I should repeat that this review is for the Eau de Toilette; I imagine the eau de parfum or parfum concentrations would last quite a bit longer and have a bit more projection. Be aware though that often fragrance compositions differ between the concentrations, so sniff the format before you buy it to avoid disappointment.

Balmain Jolie Madame: A Scent for All Seasons

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Jolie Madame by Pierre Balmain was created in 1953 by Germaine Cellier and has an immediate old fashioned glamour. Cellier knew what she was doing. Her other fragrances, Bandit  and Fracas (both for Robert Piguet) are still standing today as revered classics. When you think how many fragrances have been and gone over the years, that’s a pretty big achievement.

The more I have delved into Aldehydes and Woody Chypres on my colourful perfume journey, the more I have appreciated them. Jolie Madame seems to be the very pinnacle of a perfect Woody Chypre, almost prickling and crackling with its rough and beautiful Oakmoss and Galbanum.

I am a huge fan of both Green Notes and Hesperides, and yet I have been venturing a lot into Leather recently (but enough about my marriage *ahem*). To find a fragrance that encapsulates all my favourites in one scent has thrilled me. Firstly, Jolie Madame opens with Green Notes, including the stems and leaves. Petitgrain and Oakmoss, give it a woody, leafy opening. Then the Bergamot makes it presence felt, giving the woodiness some airy freshness at the same time, like a walk in a forest after a downpour. It smells like mossy, wet earth under damp bracken. There is a slight powderiness, in the form of chalk, or maybe it’s the Gardenia making me think of the colour white. This fades into a Green and Smoky Leather finish that lingers, delighting with whiffs of Violet and a whisper of White Musk throughout the day.

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It is perfectly put together and utterly delightful. It’s my one stop shop when I can’t choose between a Green Note scent, a Woody Chypre, a Hesperide or a Leather. Jolie Madame gives me everything I want..

It is the antithesis of modern High Street scents and its price tag is surprisingly reasonable. This may have to be one of my rare full bottles. It’s currently around 30GBP abottle, even less on eBay. It has great lasting power,  and is well worth its reasonable price. On me, this lasts around six or seven hours. I can’t get my nose off my wrist. It’s outrageously good.

If I was forced to narrow my treasured perfume collection into only two bottles, it would be Vol de Nuit and Jolie Madame. That kind of covers all bases for me. A joy!

Yesterday I discovered Balmain. And it was a good, good day.

Eau de Cartier Essence D’Orange: Refreshing or Refresher?

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From Leathery Tobaccos to a citrussy hesperide: you have my permission to call me capricious. I must confess, I have  an ulterior motive writing about  Eau de Cartier Essence d’Orange since it provides me with yet another excuse, as if one were needed, to wear my beloved Eau de Cartier again today ( see my earlier review). Just as a comparison you understand.

Eau de Cartier Essence D’Orange was created in 2010 as a follow up to the divine Eau de Cartier: an angelically light hesperide full of Bergamot and Lavender and still, in my opinion the best and only fragrance to wear when hungover.  It’s like having an aromatherapist helping you out when all is spent.  Despite reviewing fragrance daily (or as near as I can),  there are not many full sized bottle on my dressing table. Eau de Cartier is one of them. After smelling a spray sample I simply had to have it.  Luckily, it was just before Christmas and Santa got my letter in time.

When I saw there was an Essence D’Orange, I was keen to try it.  At first spray it smells very like Eau de Cartier, but very quickly the soft oranges quietly enter the room.  This is not, as you might expect, a sharp citrussy orange, but more of a fuzzy powdery orange.  In fact after around ten minuets I couldn’t escape persistent thoughts of Orange Refreshers. Opening with a burst of bergamot like its sister Eau de Cartier, the orange does sort of take over, along with a bunch of violets to calm it down and stop it being too dominant.  I also would have said lavender was a noticeable note, despite not being listed. Never mind, you can take my word it, I can definitely smell a hint of lavender.

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This is beautifully unisex and may even smell better on a man. I still prefer my Eau de Cartier, but I have ordered a stash of samples of Essence D’Orange so I always have access to it without investing in the 100ml or 200ml bottle.

This is fresh, airy, light and beautiful. The smell of Orange Refreshers is, admittedly, inescapable, but I rather like it. This, along with Eau de Cartier is the antidote to too many Leathers and Orientals. It is delicious, edible and thirst quenching.

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The Mighty Cinnabar

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Estee Lauder launched Cinnabar within weeks of YSL Opium coming out. The gauntlet was well and truly thrown down. That they are competitors cannot be coincidence with such a close time lapse between them and such unmistakable  similarities.

Cinnabar was created in 1978 and has become somewhat of a standby classic.  I don’t smell this very often on under 50s, which is a great shame .  I would love to see younger people seek out  fragrances like this and escape from the fog of modern fruity florals.

 Cinnabar has a lot to offer.  It is an Oriental Spice perfume, with other notes that make it chameleon-like in its adaptability.  On first spray it is loud, fresh and spicy before drying down into a talcum powder masculine scent .  But bear with it, as it soon changes again and becomes a delightful Incense fragrance with a hint of powdery orange and peach, and a definite loud-ish note of clove standing in the background.  This is serious perfume: it’s not playful.   I can’t help thinking of rather sombre females in dark suits, or elegant dames with pearls and no laughter lines.

On me I’m afraid it reminds me of a Toilet in a rather well to do house I visited years ago.  I can’t help it.  I smell a fragrance and a long forgotten memory just pops up and won’t go away.  I think the hint of Jasmine, which is often indolic, has made this hard for me to love, but easy to admire.  It also reminds me of a soap called Shield, used by a former adversary, which has kind of spoilt it for me.   Strangely enough, I found this so similar to Estee Lauder Youth Dew, now in its 60th year, that I am not entirely clear why they made two fragrances so very similar.  Yesterday I wore Cinnabar on one arm and Youth Dew on the other.   At one point they were so alike I thought I was going to have to write “This one is Youth Dew” on my arm.

Cinnabar is not for me, but I hope it sticks around as we need more classics like this.  It would be a tragedy if a beautiful Oriental were to be discontinued through lack of sales.  With today’s trends for the lighter more modern fruits and vanillas, I sometimes fear for the good guys like Cinnabar.

YSL Paris: J’ai Deux Amours…

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 As an escape from heavy woods and intense incense, sometimes I want to take sanctuary in a  simple  pleasant floral. In the same way that wearing something floaty and cool on a hot day offers relief,  sometimes I want the simplicity of a floral like Yves Saint Laurent Paris.

Ignoring the faintly Turkish Delight overtones, to me , Paris has two notes: Violet and Rose. There’s other stuff too, like Soft Musk and a hint of Powder, but it is Violet and Rose, like two fragrant sisters, who sit firmly in the centre of this bouquet of a scent.

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There’s no Fruit. There’s no Vanilla, no foody Praline, no cheap basenotes. I mean, this is Sophia Grojsman here! It’s simply fresh flowers, it’s pleasant to  be around, and it’s light and airy.

Created in 1983, I have distinct memories of the Sixth Form Common Room in school in the late Eighties, and one co student in particular loved to marinate herself in this before 9am.  However, unlike other Eighties heavyweights around at the time (yes I’m old), too much Paris was never as bad as too much Poison or too much Giorgio Beverly Hills *shudder*., which were also popular at the time.

paris springNaturally, Paris the fragrance doesn’t smell like Paris the City. Paris the City actually smells of Body odour, cigarette smoke, wine, asphalt, traffic and wafts of expensive perfume and coffee.  A wonderful smell actually, but it would never sell if you bottled it. Although having said that, I bet someone somewhere would create it and someone somewhere would buy it.  Maybe Library of Fragrance  could make “Dirty City”.  I know they’d do a great job.

Paris the perfume is mainstream, easy to get hold of and frankly, adorable. The price stops it being totally ubiquitous and the fragrance  trends of the last two years have changed, making Paris not so common now, and frankly, a refreshing change.  There are flankers, but this is the original and best.  Don’t makie the mistake of seeking this kind of classic quality among the flankers. (*cough* Mon Paris *cough*)

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Chanel Cuir de Russie: Add It To Your Stable

Chanel Cuir de Russie

Chanel Cuir de Russie is part of the Chanel range of exclusive (and elusive) fragrances; “Les Exclusifs“. Originally made in 1924, Cuir de Russie was audacious even then, as it was created to complement the then shocking trend of women smoking in public.

In 2007, it was relaunched as part of the Les Exclusifs range, and is available at Chanel Boutiques and selected  Chanel counters in larger stores, but not widely.  Chanel are not in it for the money. They know it’ll sell even if it’s hard to get hold of and costs £200 a bottle.

I have been wearing Cuir de Russie today and  throughout the day my opinion has been changing. When I first wore it, I thought it smelt vintage and also very similar to a Frederic Malle, with that same milky, stuffy base note that several of his perfumes have (according to me, at least). There is Iris in there, which maybe made me think of Malle’s Iris Poudre. (This is not a Good thing, I loathe Iris Poudre!).  However, my heart was won over by the whiff of Leather and one of my favourite incense notes: Myrrh . Myrrh not only  smells archaic and musty and beautiful, but is very hard to spell without a spell checker.

Disappointingly, Cuir de Russie does not have great staying power. I have had to reapply from my borrowed sample several times today (sorry Lisa!) to get the scent going. It’s worth it though, because after a while (and three sprays and a brisk walk), what I got was a new note that I have never smelt in a fragrance before: Horse.

Yes, this leathery beauty smells like Black Beauty. Or Champion the Wonder Horse. Or  Trigger. But I happen to love it.

If you find the £200 price tag eye watering (and who wouldn’t? ) you could always try donning  a Russian Cossack outfit, climbing on board a sweaty stallion,  and riding a leather saddle from the Urals to Moscow. Rub some Myrhh into your legs and then sniff. What have you got? Cuir de Russie.

The Animalic Horsey smell is rather sexy and sets this apart from other Leather classics. Horses smell good, so it is either a stroke of genius or a happy accident that this earthy smell of Hay and Horse has made it’s way into a Leathery Incense fragrance.  Fragrantica lists many notes that are contained in this fragrance, but I’m darned if I can smell Bergamot, Mandarin, Orange Blossom or Rose.

If you want to try Cuir de Russie and can’t get to one of the rare beauty counters that sell this, try looking for samples and decants on eBay or perfume forum sites such as Basenotes or Fragrantica.

It was shocking in 1934 and it’s shocking now. Horse notes?  Shocking.  Shocking but Great. With a capital “Gee Gee”.

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Celeb Scents 5: Madonna Truth or Dare

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Nipple flashing, crotch grabbing, rule breaking, trailblazing Madonna has surprised me in three ways with this fragrance.  Not only has she turned up late in the game after everyone else has had a go, but she has produced a fragrance that is both traditional and ladylike and dare I say it, safe.

Truth or Dare was launched globally in May 2012. A flanker scent, Truth or Dare Naked, was launched in December 2012. My theory about why she is late is that she is so inhumanly busy that the team from Coty probably took two years to get an appointment into her watertight schedule. But that, of course, is conjecture.

The fragrance itself is overwhelmingly Tuberose and White Flowers, but especially Tuberose. It has been said that her mother, whom she lost at a young age, wore Fracas by Robert Piguet: the last word in Tuberose fragrance after which all-comers were a mere imitation.

Although Truth or Dare has other notes in it, it is the creamy Tuberose that dominates and almost sees the rest of them off. It’s not bad though, not bad at all, and smells more expensive than it is.  It is worth buying if you like White Flowers and Tuberose and Gardenia all together in one place. Personally I don’t like it on me, but I enjoyed wearing the sample I purloined from a beauty counter. It’s rich and heady and feminine, and not at all what I was expecting from Madonna. The price was a surprise as well, since the woman has no qualms in charging fans around £200 a ticket to see her in a (short) concert. She is giving us a bargain here.

The third thing that surprised me was the bottle. It’s made of white plastic. It’s quite rare to have plastic perfume bottles these days. Even the cheapest brands manage to use glass bottles, but maybe the team at Coty blew the budget on the ingredients and ran out of steam. Like I said, it doesn’t smell cheap, but the packaging sure looks it.

So what I expected was Madonna being first off the block with an edgy unusual fragrance that nobody else had thought of, in some sort of dagger or crucifix shaped glass bottle that cost around £200 a pop.

What she has actually done is produced a classy and ladylike scent cheapened by a bobbly plastic bottle, that is both affordable and wearable.

I’ve seen her boobs and she’s flashed her crotch, but Madonna giving us a high quality, accessible fragrance that is even on the cheap side of affordable? Now that really was a surprise. Whatever next? Madonna Twinsets? Madonna pearls? You think you know someone…