I would never have thought that Tel Aviv would have ended up as a fragrance to love, but it really is. Out of the four, I think it is my favourite. My preconceptions were way out of kilter: I was imagining concrete and bombsites and traffic. Hardly a premise for a fragrance, right? Not for the first or last time where fragrance is concerned, I was wrong. Wrong with a capital “W.”
Tel Aviv (the fragrance) made me think of open air markets selling melons and flowers. It evokes a blue sky and greenery and big blousy flowers and fluffy clouds. It’s poetic and whimsical and not at all how I imagined. It’s irresistibly optimistic and reminded me that every city has a fluffy tummy if you make it roll over for you.
Tel Aviv opens with bergamot and oranges, giving a citrussy blast of sunshine and freshness. The middle blends into roses, jasmine and beautiful, light freesia. The freesia and roses are particularly prominent, but the citruses in the opening stick around, giving this a beautiful airy and pretty feel. It’s irresistibly feminine.
The base adds a sort of sugar free sweetness in so far as there are touches of vanilla without any of the sticky sweetness that can sometimes happen. The base is sandalwood, benzoin and deer tongue, or liatrix, also known as wild vanilla (thank you Fragrantica, you fount of all knowledge, you!).
Tel Aviv is bright and summery and lightly floral and pretty. It’s the exact opposite of how I would expect a scent called Tel Aviv to smell, but Gallivant is all about going off the beaten the track. It’s more Lonely Planet than Thomas Cook and thank goodness for that. This is the pretty underbelly of a sunny, seaside city, and not the busy towering, skyscraper beehive we see on the news.
Forgive me for sounding like a tourist brochure when I say take a closer look at Tel Aviv.
You can buy Tel Aviv from the Gallivant website. My sample was kindly sent to me by the Gallivant team, for which many thanks. Opinions are my own.
You may have seen my recent post about celebrity perfumes in which I nailed my colours to the mast. I’m a fan. Celebrity fragrances are made by experts and priced to sell. What’s not to love?
Today I am reviewing my new bottle of Still by Jennifer Lopez. It was recommended to me by friend of the blog Rachael, who is a fan of Still and told me she would love to read a review. Like an olfactory DJ, I’m always happy to do requests. Rachael, this is for you.
Still opens with Earl Grey Tea and oranges, giving this a lovely fresh and clean opening straight away. My first thought is that this would make the perfect work scent. It’s light and clean and surely would offend nobody. The light opening pretty much stays put throughout, just gathering some lily of the valley, fressia and jasmine along the way. None of this becomes rich or cloying; the orangey citrus notes keep everything light and zingy.
The base is allegedly sandalwood, amber, musk and pepper, but this really doesn’t end up as rich and spicy as those notes might suggest. In fact, I would say some nice clean musks, like freshly shampooed hair, and the faintest tang of clean spices, like a chai tea for example.
All in all, my bottle of eau de parfum was jolly good value at just over £10 for 30ml from Amazon UK. This would make a great gift for a teen since it is no way provocative, but clean, light and pretty. Don’t worry if your teenage years are an embarrassing distant blur of cringiness- you can wear this even if you’re, ooh, I don’t know…47? (Ahem).
JLo Still is absolutely bang on the money for summer, for work or for a young perfume recipient. Or an attractive older woman. From Wales.
You can buy this from Amazon UK like I did. Opinions are my own and I bought this for myself.
It’s a wet spring. Roses from Columbia Rd. Georgian architecture. A hint of dustiness. An earthy lush wetness you can almost taste.
Gallivant is a new niche fragrance brand with a capsule collection of four city inspired scents. Gallivant is the brainchild of Nick Steward, who is perfectly placed to go solo having been Product and Creative Director at the legendary L’Artisan Parfumeur. Gallivant aims to embody a sense of adventure and exploration. Each scent seeks to capture the spirit of the city after which it has been named, and I don’t mean just the pretty touristy bits. The noses behind the range are Karine Chevallier and Giorgia Navarra.
Surprisingly, this collection also put me ina position I’d never thought I’d find myself in: I’ve been gallivanting around my home county of Torfaen smelling like Tel Aviv. Who knew? Reader, I love it. Today I’m reviewing London. The other three will follow: Istanbul, Brooklyn and Tel Aviv.
London the fragrance opens with cucumber and roses on my skin. Don’t be put off by the cucumber- it doesn’t remind me of teenage spot treatment and cleanser in this context. Gallivant London is Inspired by the flower market of Columbia Road. The rose de mai flourishes from the first spray and sticks around throughout. Touches of leather come through- funnily enough, a smell I often associate with London, especially the market on Petticoat Lane.
This leathery rose pretty much stays as a leathery rose, but the cucumber melts away, having made its introduction. Enter stage left a pleasant earthy woodiness in the form of patchouli, cedar and sandalwood. That rose never waivers though, which gives this a pleasing juxtaposition of male and female, soft and hard, gentle and tough. In other words, a perfect capture of this eclectic and multi faceted city.
London is available from the Gallivant website and in the USA, from Luckyscent. My samples were very kindly sent to me by Gallivant, for which, many thanks. Opinions are my own.
Once again, I am putting on my glasses and trying to look important Yes, indeed: it’s time for more of your perfume problems!
I must apologise to poor Charlotte who wrote in with this week’s problem. It’s taken me so long to respond and I apologise profusely. I do hope you still like me Charlotte! I blame the Easter Holidays, a camping trip, several writing jobs, my two children, four workmen, a drain, a flood and a loss adjustor. I’ll be quicker next time, so do write in! You can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below or on my Facebook page.
Here is Charlotte’s letter:
Dear Aunty Sam
I absolutely love Viktor &Rolf Flowerbomb but it is SO expensive! Can you suggest other scents that are very similar but not quite so pricy?
My dear Charlotte,
This is an excellent question and I’m sure you’re not alone in wanting an answer. Viktor and Rolf Flowerbomb is much beloved, but as you point out, not very cheap. Many perfume fans reckon it smells similar to mega blockbuster Lancôme La Vie est Belle. To give credit where it’s due, Flowerbomb got there first, way back in 2005, whereas La Vie est Belle didn’t emerge until 2012.
So what can I recommend that will make you smell amazingly Flowerbomb-like and still be budget friendly? Here goes:
World Class Perfumes Perfumer’s Choice “Natalie”
The World Class Perfume Group owns Milton Lloyd and Taylor of London, who make a lot of the Lentheric and Yardley stuff of yesteryear such as Panache and Chique.
The Perfumer’s Choice arm of the business has a small range of very long-lasting fragrances which are guaranteed to last at least six hours, and I can vouch that they definitely do. Natalie is so similar to La Vie est Belle that I thought I’d sprayed the wrong bottle. It lasted around eight hours and has the combo of flowers and warm, sweet gourmand notes that make it so similar that this blogger was fooled. The packaging ain’t fancy, but, boy, it’s value for money. I reviewed it here and at the time, I couldn’t quite make the connection as I don’t think I was familiar with its doppelganger at the time, but I smelled it recently and thought YES.
Coming in at the very reasonable price of £14 for 83m of EDP, or £7 for 50ml of Parfum de Toilette (to me PDT is stronger than EDT, not quite as strong as EDP) Perfumer’s Choice Natalie is available from this website or from Amazon UK.
Agent Provocateur Fatale
This has the big white flowers and the patchouli and orchid of Flowerbomb. Imagine Flowerbomb with an accent of grated dark chocolate and you’re not far off AP Fatale. Available for just 12,95 from one of my favourite sites : allbeauty. com, this is far cheaper than Flowerbomb and possibly cheap enough to risk a blind buy.
I hope this helps you Charlotte, and again, I do apologise for the lengthy delay
Ask me for help!
Are you pensive about perfumes? Fanatical about fragrance? Addled by aldehydes? Confused dot com? I’m here to answer any questions you might have, whether it’s a smellalike, a reformulation question or a where-can-I-buy-it query. Just ask. I always love to hear from you.
The problem with celebrity fragrances is that they keep getting discontinued. Out of my favourites from just three years ago, around six are impossible to get now. The rumour on the grapevine is that celeb fragrances are on the way out, or at least on the way down, and I have mixed feelings about this. Firstly, if all celeb fragrances were of the fruity floral fruitichoulil smellalike genre that so many were, then fine. See ya. No problem here. However, celebrity fragrances are like jumble sales. It might look like a load of junk but when you rummage, you find gold and treasure.
The other great thing about celebrity fragrances is that they are not expensive. They’re competing with other celebrity fragrances which are also not expensive, so they can’t risk sky high prices. That’s not their demographic. Oh, and don’t forget that the celebrity doesn’t actually make them. Celeb fragrances are made by respected houses such as Givauden, Coty and Elizabeth Arden. I really can’t see Beyoncé in a lab coat with a pipette moaning about the price of orris butter, can you? Lovely mental image though.
I have found some absolute gems among celeb fragrances and I am genuinely sad not to be able to buy some of them anymore.
What follows below is an up-to-date, up-to-the minute round up of celebrity fragrances that you can definitely easily buy at the moment at the time of going to press, I promise. Some are old faithfuls that have been around a while, and show no signs of leaving, and some are new. All of them are jolly good, at least in my opinion.
Sarah Jessica Parker Stash SJP
This is my number one favourite. SJP is rare in that she is deeply involved in the scents she creates and her own tastes influence what she launches. In the case of Stash, I applaud her for taking a risk. This smoky sandalwood and incense treat was never going to be a mass market crowd pleaser, but critics and fumeheads love it, as do I. Here’s my review and here’s where you can buy it.
Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely
I wear this regularly and now that my 100ml bottle is going down, I’m looking to replace it. It suits just about everyone and to me, it has a wonderful 50s retro feel. You can read my review here. Many compare it to Narciso Rodriguez For Her. You can buy Lovely in many places at varying prices. I bought mine from here.
A wonderfully clean scent that reminds me of freshly washed hair and clean laundry. It lasts for ages too. Launched in 2002, this shows no sign of going anyway and has become a classic for good reason. You can buy it here.
Britney Spears Curious
This was launched way back in ’04, which is a long time ago in the perfume universe.. I complimented a friend on this and asked her what she was wearing- I was surprised when I found out it was Britney Curious as I’d written it off. Its use of magnolia and pear sets it apart from the usual pink sugary fruity florals and it has a lovely light feel to it with no stickiness. Extra points for the beautiful blue glass bottle, and if you can get one with the puffy squeezy atomiser, even better. You can buy it here.
Rogue made an impact on me because it didn’t go in the obvious direction that it could have. I t could have gone all pink pepper and red berries and vanilla, but it didn’t. In fact, it reminded me of Serge Lutens Daim Blond, which is all about the unusual but genius combination of suede and apricots. Here’s my review of Rogue and here’s where you can buy it.
Rihanna Reb’l Fleur
I have a full 100ml bottle of this. I wouldn’t normally have thought of buying it, but my dear brother picked it out for me himself for my birthday. I was so touched. I hardly ever get perfume as a gift (violins!) and I was delighted to get this whopper. Reb’l Fleur is a heavy hitting, patchouli rich fruity floral with a hit of coconut and vanilla. Sillage is massive and longevity huge. Two sprays in the morning and you’ll be sorted till tea time. You can buy it here.
Celine Dion Sensational
By a happy turn of fate, I stumbled across this in my local Lloyds Pharmacy when I was picking up my husband’s prescription. There was a tester at the till and it was on special offer at 9.99. I didn’t buy it that day, and when I went back, it was gone. However, I fell in love with it. It lasted at least seven hours and was a delicious melange of pear, plum, freesia, lily of the valley and violet. It opens like a juicy tropical fruit scent and segues into a stunning musky floral. The nose behind it is the legendary Maurice Roucel. This one is at the top of my Wanted list. You can buy it here.
Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds
This opens like an aldehyde and ends like a chypre. Full of old school Hollywood glamour, this is bursting with all the rich white flowers: tuberose, jasmine, neroli. It’s not really one for the young palate of today, but as a fan of classic chypres and big eighties sillage, this is right up my street. It’s cheap as chips and widely available. Round of applause for the diamante choker round its neck. You can buy it here.
9. Adam Levine For Her
This is a real gem that often goes under the radar. Lisa Jones let me borrow her bottle and I was very impressed. This comes in a smart white box in a bottle that’s shaped like a microphone. This is a woody, slightly spicy scent with a long, langorous sandalwood base. It is so cheap I was suspicious, but I can vouch for its fabulousness. Plus you know, Adam Levine. Cor. You can read my review here and buy it from here for less than ten quid. Oh, and it’s totally unisex, so ignore the “For Her” label.
Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights
This has featured on my previous best celeb scents list and it qualifies for this one because it is still available and still cheap. It has patchouli, papyrus and amber, and many say that it is a dead ringer for Prada Amber ( and it is!). Still available on Amazon for under £20 for a big bottle. Here’s my review.
The ones I miss
The following celeb fragrances are either available but three times the price they were, or impossible to find. Reader, I mourn them: JLo Deseo, Hilary Duff with Love, Sarah Jessica Parker The Lovely Collection- Dawn, Endless and Twilight, Queen by Queen Latifah, Manifesto by Isabella Rossellini.
The ones I want to try
Antonio Banderas’s vast range (he has been launching scent since 1997), Drew Barrymore’s new ones, Joan Collins’ new ones for Marks and Spencer, Sofia by Sofia Vergara and Elizabeth Taylor Gardenia and Passion, which I still haven’t tried.
How about you?
What celebrity fragrances do you like to wear? Which ones do you miss? Which do you want to try? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
My Avon obsession tightens its grip. I am helpless to resist and at seven quid a bottle, I don’t want to.
Avon Rare Pearls is my latest purchase. I bought it after reading the notes that were in it, and sniffing the Avon brochure scratch’n’sniff page,- so not much to go on. However, this distinctive daywear is worth a punt and I’m jolly glad I have a bottle.
The bottle itself has an opaque pearl coloured glass body and an angular top that looks like glass but is plastic. It goes happily alongside my cherished bottle of tuberose heavy Avon Rare Platinum.
So what does it smell like?
Well, it opens with green notes and florals straight away. There’s a kind of mustiness that I rather like. It’s similar to the scent of a bouquet just before it goes past its best before date: you know, floral, vegetal and overly rich just before the flowers conk out and die.
Actually the notes are rosewood, honey, plum and pepper, with magnolia diving in before they’ve quite finished their number. It’s the honey that made me think of flowers just before they go off. It’s actually a lovely smell that can fill a room.
The middle is all about the magnolia: a big, clean, white, flower. It’s creamy and soapy without going into heady tuberose territory-which is no bad thing in my book but it’s not everybody’s cup of tea.
The base is musk, patchouli and sandalwood, but really that just provides a milky, musky backdrop for more magnolia. This is a green, soapy, floral musk. What I smell doesn’t really match the notes: It’s nicer than I thought and has a pleasant fuzziness like a cosy blanket. This is perfect for work and should pass the commuter test too. I’m ever so fond of my seven-quid bargain!
I bought my 50ml bottle of Avon Rare Pearls EDP from my lovely Avon Lady Jill. It’s also available online. The price I quote was correct at the time of publishing and may vary, but there are usually special offers on. Opinions are my own.
When I need a floral that does what it says it will do, I go to Yardley. They don’t add vanilla and caramel and syrup: they showcase the flower and add a few notes that enhance it. I already have Yardley English Rose, Yardley April Violets, Yardley English Bluebell and Yardley English Lavender in my collection. They are brilliant alone or layered over other scent that you want to “flower-up.”
Freesia is a naturally light spring time flower, and is often hard to pin down in a fragrance. However, the addition of a chorus of stars makes this an all singing floral treat.
English Freesia opens with, as you might guess, freesia but this is surrounded by refreshing eau de cologne style citrus notes. There’s bergamot, lemon and mandarin as well as a touch of lavender, giving this a unisex appeal, although I am yet to persuade my husband that wearing freesia to the office is a good idea.
The middle notes carry spicy ginger and pepper. You might not think they would go, but actually the ginger goes particularly well with the freesia, helping this airy fairy note to stay grounded.
The base is both woody and floral, although I wouldn’t really call it sandalwood. The mandarins are still there at the end, as is the ginger. All in all, this opens as a citrus, segues into a spicy floral, and beds down into a combination of the two. Longevity wasn’t as good as I might have liked, but I have ways of making it last ( sleeves, hair, lapels, moisturised skin).
For the price, this is a steal. I will probably buy a bottle to add it to the Yardley bouquet on my dressing table.
Funnily enough, my children and I were halfway through Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox when this arrived in the post. I have been reading this book since the mid-seventies and it kept me company during several commutes in my twenties too. This utopian story in which handsome Mr Fox overcomes adversaries brings both adults and children back to this classic story. Also, it marks the only time in my life when I ended up with a bit of a crush on a charismatic fictional wild animal.
As if she can read my mind, or hear the funny voices when I read in Farmer Boggis’s voice, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz posted me a trio of samples all the way from Boulder Colorado: you know, where Mork and Mindy lived.
So what does Foxy smell like and is it as fantastic as Mr Fox himself? Well, read on.
Foxy instantly smells like a vintage scent. I don’t know how Dawn does this, but usually you have to buy fragrance that’s about 70 years old to get this kind of ambery aged lushness.
The amber smells almost rusty, which seems appropriate when you think of the name of the scent. There are flowers, although they don’t dominate. I detected jasmine and spiky, peppery carnation. There are spicy herbs and a little heat from ginger, and a fun note of apple brandy, made by and drunk by Farmer Bean from the book, who drinks only cider and never eats.
The final flourish has definite notes of oak moss mingling with the amber, to give this an animalic, rustic heat. I am often to be found with my face buried in the flank of a sleeping cat and this warm fuzzy finish certainly reminded me of that. The big star here though, is amber. It’s there at the start, in the middle and at the end. The amber adds a cosy warmth and showcases all the other notes within its embrace.
Foxy is fantastically Foxy. Let it transform you into a twenty first century fox with a retro twist and a crafty twinkle in your eye.
You can buy Foxy from the DSH Perfumes website, which also provides an excellent sample service. My sample was from Dawn herself, for which, my warmest thanks. Opinions are my own.
Am I your favourite perfume blogger or what? I am so generous that I am giving away a full 30ml bottle of Kitten Fur by Library of Fragrance. If you want to know what it smells like, check out my review right here.
I will announce the winner on April 22nd, so you have seven days. to get your entries in. UK only please.
NB- Please do not enter if you live outside the UK and Northern Ireland as I won’t be able to send it to you if you win, and I would hate to disappoint you.
Here’s what you have to do:
Just tell me your pet’s name. If you don’t currently have one, tell me the name of your last pet.
Also, you could, if you like, do these nice things for me:
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.