Yes, it’s National Fragrance Day 2017, although if you’re a fumehead like me, ( and you probably are if you’re reading this blog) then every day is Fragrance Day. Taking a #smellfie is all the rage on this special day , and I felt I must run with the pack.
However, being a bit of a luddite and not having fathomed out the selfie stick I had for Christmas, I was forced to use the least worst shots of a lengthy smellfie session. Plus I seem to either stare or blink- no middle ground.
Dear reader, you can see the conclusion I arived at. The scent I chose, by the way, is Mary Greenwell Fire. I bought it last year from The Fragrance Shop for the princley sum of £19.99 and it’s become a firm favourite. Do not ever throw the lid at anything fragile though, unless you are trying to escape from a dangerous animal. The lid weighs a ton and could smash a phone box. Remember phone boxes? That’s a #scentmemory I’d rather not revisit.
How about you? What would you take a smellfie with? Your SOTD or your favourite ever? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
Earlier this week, I asked you to send me your perfume problems. I then chewed the arm of my glasses and looked studious, whilst reading them, just like a proper Mumsy Agony Aunt.
I was so pleased to get so many questions, some of which I answer below. Incidentally, I also see questions on my WordPress dashboard which tell me what people type into Google in order to be led to my site.
There are two questions that I see every single day without fail. Yes, my friends, the two most popular questions are:
What’s the best Avon perfume?
What cheap perfume smells good?
Now you may have noticed that these two particular questions have entre blog posts devoted to answering them. Nobody can accuse me of not giving my readers what they want.
With that having been said, here are some other questions that I received this week.
I am very grateful to all who sent me a Dear Aunty Sam question. I wish I could tell you that there’s a T-shirt and a mug on the way to you, but I can’t. I think I may repeat this experience in future, so please do send any questions as they occur to you. I’ll be your olfactory DJ.
Dear Aunty Sam,
Like you, I miss Gucci Envy and only have a little bit left. What can I wear instead when this runs out?
A good question and one to which I still seek an answer myself. We’ve asked the Why Did it End? question but the wind took our words away and no answer was given. Meantime, here are some that I find have some of the Gucci Envy notes in common, namely green notes, lily of the valley and hyacinth.
I’ve fallen in love with Yardley’s Polaire. But as ever with Yardley 20 minutes in and unless I’ve gone nose blind I can smell nothing at all. Is there something out there that smells the same, but with actual longevity and a bit more sillage?
I haven’t smelled Yardley Polaire recently so I’m working blind here. However, I notice that the prominent notes are pear, freesia and rose. There are two scents that also contain these notes. One is Dior J’Adore and the other is Elizabeth Arden Fifth Avenue ( although more freesia than pear) However, if you want to stick with Polaire, there are a couple of things you can do to extend its life.
What I usually do is spray my hair. Hair carries scent very well- usually until bedtime! However, some people claim this dries hair out. Secondly, and I’m going to talk boobs here, spray it in your cleavage before you get dressed. As your body heats up throughout the day, you get nice little wafts under your nose. You can also make scent last longer by moisturising skin before applying it. Don’t forget a quick spray on your lapels or scarf.
There is another theory, however. Some people say that when a perfume really suits you, you stop being able to smell it. This is so subjective that I find it difficult to prove, but there may be some truth in it. Maybe Polaire just really suits you!
EDIT: I have since discovered that the ebautiful Celine Dion Sensational is a smellaike too. This one lasts ages on me.
Dear Aunty Sam
I have begun to make some fragrances. I have at least three that are absolutely delightful, unlike anything else I’ve ever tried. I really feel there’s a market for these, especially in this size, being affordable for almost everyone.
How do I go about getting someone to be willing to sell my fragrances in their shop (either online or not) or work with me in promoting mine?
Firstly, congratulations on your perfumes. I do love an entrepreneurial spirit. Secondly, before you sell them commercially, do they meet the necessary compliance? There are many perfume ingredients that have been banned by IFRA in order to ensure that scents do not cause rashes or reactions. Forgive me if I’m preaching to the converted- you may well already know this. Thirdly, have you tried Etsy? There are many beautiful handmade scents there and it strikes me as a good starting point.
I would really recommend one of the Studio days run by Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays. What she doesn’t know about making and selling perfume just isn’t worth knowing. You can find out more from the 4160 Tuesdays website. Oh, and in answer to your question about promoting your scent, my advice is, as you might imagine, harness the bloggers!
That’s all I’ve got room for this week. I hope you enjoyed my first brave fumble into the mailbag. Do you agree with my responses? Do you have any questions of your own? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
Sit up and take notice, Kenzo fans: Kenzo Takada has made a fragrance for our chums at Avon. Avon LIFE For Her has just launched and I managed to bag myself a sample ( there’s also a For Him but I haven’t tried that one). Being a pre-Christmas launch, I wasn’t expecting anything quite so light and summery, but the only rule in perfume is that there are no rules. LIFE is Kenzo’s take on violet, so as a violet fan I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.
LIFE opens with a white tea note. It’s similar to Elizabeth Arden Green Tea but less metallic and less green. There is prominent water lily, making this a treat for fans of The Body Shop Fijian Water Lotus who want something in the same ozonic vein. A touch of apple adds to this clean wholesome accord.
By the middle phase I’m still waiting for those violets to turn up, and I do believe they sneak in dressed as irises to fool me. There is the typical iris sobriety here: a touch of grey rootiness that is contrasted here with a bright floral sweet note. Nothing to do with vanilla or gourmand: it’s more like the sweetness of a small spring flower magnified into intensity. The vegetal note from the iris sticks around, and the musk mallow (aka ambrette) does nothing to dispel it. There is allegedly patchouli to round things off, but I still found this to be an ozonic tea scent.
It’s pretty and light, and would be the ideal scent for a hot day if you like your fragrance to be of the the airy, green tea sort. It’s not for me right now, but I’ll give it another go in summer, when it will go perfectly with short sleeves and a cloudless sky.
Avon LIFE is available exclusively from Avon. In the UK try Avon UK or your Avon rep.
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is an early pioneer in the world of indie perfumes. US based, Dawn (or DSH to fans), constantly innovates and has a wide fan base worldwide. In fact, I’m astonished I took so long to get here.
I was recently sent two samples of DSH scents by friend of the blog (and friend of me!) Patsi, who is always very generous and supportive of my perfume habit, having a serious habit herself. Thank you Patsi!
Today I am reviewing Giverny in Bloom. It seems appropriate to look at the pictures of Monet’s gardens in Giverny as I sniff them since this scent was created to go alongside the “in Bloom” scent experience at Denver Art Museum.
This scent will be instantly recognizable to anyone who remembers playing in the garden as a child. Did you ever pick flowers, snap ferns and sniff leaves or was that just me? If so, you will easily imagine how transporting this earthy, realistic fragrance is.
This was almost astringent on first spray, like rubbing a broken fern between your fingers. After that the flowers come in. Not just petals, but stems, stamens, buds: the whole shebang. It smells like a very good florists: it’s flower heads, yes, but seeds and leaves too. It is springlike and abundant. There’s lilacs, carnations, mimosa, roses, jasmine, neroli, violets, linden blossom- it’s all there. But what makes this stand apart from a good spring floral is the addition of the greenery and earthiness. There’s soil tincture, oakmoss, galbanum, ambergris, and patchouli. All this works not against, but alongside, the prettiness of the flowers, giving a dose of realism that makes this really stand out. A good gardener knows you have to get your hands dirty and that’s what this smells like: a real garden, with all the flowers, the sharpness of green leaves and a woody, earthy base. Like the strokes of an Impressionist’s brush, the blending is cleverly done to give an artless feel that allows each note to blur into the next without losing itself.
Viewed alongside the legendary paintings, this makes for a wonderfully uplifting experience.
I shall be seeking out more DSH after this. Thank you Patsi for this fabulous intro.
All scents are available from the DSH website. This just in-I have it on good authority that DSH does indeed ship to the UK! There is also a good sample service, and free samples with every full bottle purchase.
Top photo from Fragrantica. Middle photo from www.famousartistsgallery.com. Bottom photo from www.lifo.gr
With The Discovery Box comes a postcard of smelling notes, with conversation prompts which are ideal if you are part of a perfume club (and I’m starting one soon).
One of the questions stood out for me. “If this fragrance was a movie star, who would it be?” My immediate answer is Ava Gardner, the woman Frank Sinatra went loopy for. She was stunning, sexy and classically glamorous, which seems like a good place to start for my review of 4160Tuesdays Sex Goddess.
Sarah McCartney has unbuttoned my uptightness about fruity florals and this is no exception. There’s peach, blackcurrant ( but no cat pee!), along with strawberries, peppery geraniums, amber, bergamot and a last word of vanilla and musk.
So far so good on paper, but what does it smell like in glorious technicolour reality?
There’s a definite whiff of the vanilla and bergamot combo from Sexiest Scent on the Planet Ever (IMHO) which provides a golden background (I can’t help seeing it as golden and fuzzy), but the fruit makes this playful and gives it a vintage feel, in line with say, Madame Rochas and her peaches. Somehow, all together, and in the nicest possible way, this smells as if it was made decades ago. Maybe its the oakmoss. Maybe its the peaches. Maybe I should buy a bottle.
It’s blended with just the right balance of everything and if, like me, the tidal wave of modern mediocre fruity florals has put you off, I can assure you that this could not be more different. It stands in a class of its own. Like beautiful Ava.
You can buy Sex Goddess from the 4160 Tuesdays website, with prices starting at a very reasonable £15 for a purse spray. After that, you may want a bigger one and you can buy those as well. You can also get a sample by buying the Perfume Society Scent With Love Discovery Box from The Perfume Society website.
I’m still in a sulk with Gucci for not bringing back Gucci Envy, so I tried Gucci Bamboo with a bitchy face on. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is a fresh break from the rich’n’cloying smellalikes that have been coming thick and fast of late. It opened with a whisper and is still there now, all subtle and classy.
Gucci Bamboo opens with top notes of bergamot, and whilst in this case it was not zingy cologne time, it radiated like a muffled lime with lily accents- sounds like a Dulux advert doesn’t it? Well if Gucci Bamboo were a room, it would have floor to ceiling windows and wispy white curtains billowing in a spring breeze.
The middle phase has the lily, orange blossom and gentle Ylang Ylang (or banana flower as I call it in my head). There is a light floral sweetness to this that has nothing to do with the recent trend for caramel, chocolate, and candy floss in scent. Phew!
In the basenotes, which is the phase it’s at now on my skin, there is a hint of vanilla, but it’s not that in-your-face-cakey smell that it’s so easy to get hold of these days, it’s more a soft pile of pillows that tones it all down before putting it to bed. I would almost call it a hint of powder in among the faint warmth of some very mild amber.
Gucci Bamboo is absolutely perfect as a daytime scent and to me, it had a nostalgia that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. In any case, as a new release it stands apart from the crowd as a gentle “Shhh” among the noise.
Chloe Love Story comes in the trademark Chloe Bottle, but has been tweaked a little to look like one of the many padlocks attached to the bridges of Paris right now (It’s a romantic gesture a bit like carving a love heart into a tree) and was launched in September 2014.
When I first tried it I thought “peony” because there is something rose like but lighter in the opening notes. After a few minutes however, I found myself feeling drenched in the orange flower in all its forms: orange blossom, orange flower and neroli. Add to that some African Jasmine (aka stephanotis) and you have a bouquet of almost bridal white flowers, with none of the cloying creaminess that tuberose often adds at this point. There is a definite greenery and foliage too, just to enhance the bouquet imagery. This is as green as it is clean.
The neroli and jasmine reminded me of a much missed and now discontinued Body Shop Jasmine and Neroli, but is more “laundry fresh” . The neroli is so prominent that it is almost borderline coconutty, but stops just short of that.
The base dries down into a soapy, just-stepped-out-of –the –shower accord that seems to contain a wisp of baby powder too. It would be perfect for a wedding, but I didn’t find it particularly unique. In fact, it also reminded me of my recent review of Versace Eros Pour Femme and also of Givenchy Dahlia Divin. That soapy white flower accord won’t be falling out of favour any time soon by the look of it, and after what feel like decades of mainstream perfumes containing cheap vanilla and caramel, I’m not going to complain.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
I like a pretty Rose scent at any time of the year and I quite like Givenchy Very Irresistible L’Eau en Rose. However, I would like to say one thing to Givenchy: You have not only made twenty nine Very Irresistible flankers but why are no less than EIGHT of them Rose flankers with slightly different names?
This is a serious turn off and if Givenchy was trying to date me, this alone would stop me from calling them back after the first date.
I always find too many flankers can start to look both self congratulatory and complacent. One or two carefully made flankers can be good (one example is Chanel Cristalle Eau Verte– a divine flanker that deserved to be made), but make too many and the original becomes devalued in a stack ‘em high sort of way.
However, having got that moan out of the way, I will say that Givenchy Very Irresistible L’Eau en Rose (what a mouthful!) is a delightful and fresh, clean smelling Rose that sadly goes a little bit vinyl on my skin after half an hour. It is described by Givenchy as a “frosted rose”, and that’s a pretty idea, but I’m not sure quite what that translates to. It makes me visualise frosted fruit with a faint sugary bloom.
There are only three notes listed on Fragrantica and they are: Blackberry, Rose and Musk. What I like about this is that the Blackberry, whist adding juice and a bit of weight to the airy Rose petal, is restrained enough to prevent this from being a fruity floral mélange.
L’Eau en Rose is pretty, feminine and lasts about, oh let me see now, nearly two hours. I do actually like it: there is a realistic feel to the initial blast of fresh rose petals, but sadly it cannot be maintained. If it could, I would be all ears ( and nostrils!). Longevity could do with a bit of a push as well. Conclusion? So nearly there and so nearly wonderful. And for Goodness sake, Givenchy, calm down on the flanker overkill!