Tag Archives: fragrance

Swarovski Aura: For the Young and The Tasteless

Image

 Many perfumes have origins and a backstory that make the scent more interesting, even legendary. LouLou was inspired by the silent movie star Louise Brooks.  Guerlain Apres L’Ondée was inspired by the smell of a spring garden after a downpour, and Madame Grès created Cabochard after a trip to India where she discovered the beautiful scent of the Water Hyacinth.

 Swarovski Aura was inspired by a sparkly clutch bag.  I could just end my review here as it pretty much says what I think.

However, I’ll drag out this synthetic fruity floral in order to give you the full picture. In a faux alligator skin bottle, Swarovski Aura is a run of the mill fruity floral.  If you are fourteen and your duvet cover has The Wanted on it, you’ll love this. It’s very fruity.  Very floral. And you’ve smelt this a million times before.

Let’s just say, in fifteen years time, this won’t be changing hands on eBay. It will be long gone and not even missed. I hope.

This avalanche of smell-alike fruity floral scents makes me me wonder. Are they popular because people keep buying them? Or are they popular because nothing else is being offered right now? It’s like strapless wedding dresses.  Does everyone wear them because they are popular? Or does everyone wear them because that’s all the shops stock right now? It’s a vicious circle.

Swarovski, stick to the sparkly clutch bags.

Ambre de Cabochard: Low End Low Rent Scent. I love it.

Image

Ambre de Cabochard divides opinion. Not quite in the way Thierry Mugler’s Angel starts fights and grudge matches, but it has its fans and its critics in equal measure. Before we go any further, I’m nailing my colours to the mast. I love it.

Created in 2006, it has the highly respected Jean-Pierre Bethouart behind it, who has previously worked with Caron, Burberry and Boucheron, to name but a few.  Jean-Claude Delville is co-creator, and he has worked with greats such as Vera Wang, Givenchy, and also created the celebrated Clinique Happy. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez regard it as “thin” and “waxy”, and many reviewers regard it as “cheap smelling” or “synthetic” or “too sweet”. To me, it’s gingery, spicy and grown up. Top notes include Cardoman, Ginger, Cinnamon, Orange, Blueberry and Blackcurrant. Middle notes include Tuberose (which I cannot detect at all), Lily of the Valley (ditto) and Cyclamen (ditto). Base notes are Vanilla, Amber, Patchouli and Musk.

Whilst I can’t detect florals in there, there is a hint of fruit in a Christmassy way, but the strongest notes are Amber, Musk and Patchouli. The Vanilla rounds it off and sweetens it, but not too much, just enough to soften the edges.

I first bought this after a long period of enforced frugality. I had ten quid in my Paypal account and wanted something I hadn’t tried before. I remember when this arrived in the post (I bought it blind, ruthlessly attracted by the price), it was so exciting to get a brand new bottle of perfume, with the cellophane on and, in a nice box. The bottle itself is gorgeous, with a little bow around its neck. I wasn’t disappointed and I’m now on my second bottle. Currently available on Cheap Smells, Amazon and eBay for less than ten pounds, this has become a beauty bargain favourite.

It doesn’t compare to well made niche perfumes such as Ambre Narguile, but it’s damn good for its price tag.

Lonestar Memories: It’s Mighty Manly

Image

Andy Tauer has a devoted fan base. His L’Air du Desert Marocain is beloved by many, as is his Vetiver Dance, and Orange Star. It’s a small but respected niche perfumery house, with a stable of twenty high quality Artisan Fragrances, and his following is growing.

 Lonestar Memories, created in 2006, is unlike any perfume I have ever smelled (on me, that is, more of which later). With notes of Carrot Seed, Leather, Clary Sage, and Sandalwood, the description on paper does not paint a true picture. What I actually got was Bonfire Smoke, Creosote and Petrol. It’s VERY butch. In fact, it made me think of soft porn:

A trucker breaks down in a desert. It’s sunset. He’s sweating. He takes off his Stetson and wipes the sweat from his brow. A passing truck pulls over. A man gets out. He is wearing a check shirt. Their eyes meet… cue twangy electric guitar music… In my mind, that’s the cinema ad for this stuff.

Image

 It’s apparently pour la femme as well as pour l’homme, but as always, the rule with perfume is that there are no rules. So I approached my husband. “I just want to try something new, darling,” I said. His eyes lit up. I sprayed him with Lonestar Memories and walked away. He looked crestfallen. I said I’d sniff him up close in the morning.

Waking up the next day, my husband smelled manly and butch as if he had been painting creosote fences then  kicked back around a woodsmoke fire (with his shirt off for preference).  This is the scent that Armistead Maupin’s characters would wear to the Burning Man Festival. Sexy and bohemian, this is a step away from the conventional male scent and all the better for it.

As usual with Tauer scents, longevity is excellent. Two sprays will  last overnight at the very least. This stuff has muscles.

Image

Stockists

You can buy Lonestar Memories from the Tauer website and from Les Senteurs in the UK and LuckyScent in the USA

Guerlain Mahora- Complex and Beautiful

Image

Created in 2000 by Jean-Paul Guerlain , Guerlain Mahora is listed as having green notes, of which I am a fan. It has Tuberose, of which I am not a fan. It also contains Jasmine, which smells like a toilet on me.  So on paper, I shouldn’t like this at all.

In real life, I loved it. With an unusual bottle and a name like an African Desert, I was expecting something mysterious and Eastern, maybe another Opium or a Cinnabar, but I was pleasantly surprised by how different this complex Madam of a perfume turned out to be.

First of all, the old familiar Tuberose floated up to my nose. Usually this is a turn off to me, as I find it too rich and cloying, but in Mahora, it’s just right and softens what would have been a plain Oriental into an Oriental softened by flowers, like a muffled drum..

Base notes are Vetiver, Sandalwood and Vanilla, and they all come through strongly in the finish. And may I say it’s a very lasting finish? I sprayed at 8.30am this morning and at 4pm, I was still catching mysterious wafts of Sandalwood and Tuberose.

So what sets this apart from a mainstream Oriental? The quality of ingredients gives it resonance and strength. The addition of carefully chosen (and loud) flowers such as Tuberose and Neroli enhance the woodiness whilst making it softer and creamier. There’s a touch of powder too which stops it being too astringent, as I find some Orientals can be. I like it because it’s soft and feminine and the woodiness doesn’t overpower, yet nor do the flowers. It’s as if the often masculine Vetiver is being calmed down whilst ladylike Tuberose, whispers “Don’t make a scene, Bob”.

Guerlain Mayotte, also by Jean-Paul Guerlain, is said to be the successor to Mahora, and looking at the notes, they seem to be the same, but in a slightly different order. I haven’t smelt Mayotte, so can’t speak for it.

In any case, I’d be happy with a bottle of Mahora. It’s over fifty quid a bottle, but it lasts a very long time.  It could be the scent that converted me to Tuberose.

Gianfranco Ferré Essence D’Eau- Kiss Me, Honey, Honey, Kiss me

gianfranco

I bought Gianfranco Ferre Essence D’Eau blind for a laughably cheap sum on eBay. It’s a floral, so I thought I’d give it a chance since it was July after all.

On first spray I rather liked it: it was pretty, and full of flowers. After the drydown however, it smelt less appealing. Have you ever had a vase of flowers that have drooped and been just on their way out?  Just before they go sour they go very sweet and honey like. It’s the smell of the inside of the trumpet of a daffodil in early June as they wilt and give way to the bolder summer flowers.

There is a hint of honey too, which may be why so many compare it to Lancôme’s Poême.  In fact, if you are a Poême fan, I would recommend this as a much cheaper alternative.  Even at full price, Essence D’Eau  can currently be bought for less than £15 on Amazon (25ml), compared to Poême, which is currently £41.50 for a 50ml bottle, on the same site.

I find Essence D’Eau too sweet and honey like, although the whiff of parma violets in the base notes is very appealing and adds a shot of playfulness.  This is yellow flowers all the way, and in my view, needs something sharp to cut across the fuzziness.  Smelling this makes me think of a day that’s too hot for comfort, with a lazy droning of nearby bees in an over extravagant flowerbed.

If it was me, I would have changed the name: “Essence of Water” suggests something fresh and green or aquatic. Maybe they should have called this Essence Des Fleurs Jaunes Avec Miel, but I guess it doesn’t flow as well.

C’est la Fête! Christian La Croix: Sweetie, it’s sweet, Sweetie.

11C+Le1FeAL._SL500_AA300_

From a bottle that looks like a summer’s day with its blue hues rising to yellow, and in a slightly heart shaped bottle, I was in a good mood even before I opened C’est la Fête by Christian LaCroix.

I often say I can’t bear fruity florals, but I found myself quite liking this passion fruit, blackcurrant, rose, jasmine mash-up of a scent.

The fruit is stronger then the flower here, and the passion fruit comes through immediately. When first applied it’s shower fresh and uplifting and that fruit just bursts through with a very light, almost grapefruit scent (although there is no actual grapefruit note in there).

I think I must have missed the floral accords because within an hour this sweet and fruity cocktail has changed into a completely different perfume.

And that perfume is Rochas Tocade. I haven’t owned Tocade for over fifteen years, but suddenly that soft, sweet vanilla base was right there in front of me again and I could see and smell it as if I was 25 again (don’t do the maths).

Now I’m not sure if this was deliberate: after all, Tocade is highly regarded and has remained popular since its creation in 1994. C’est la Fête was created in 2007, replacing its predecessor, C’est la Vie. It has one flanker, C’est la Fête Patchouli, which I have reviewed elsewhere on this blog. In any case, if you try Tocade on its own one day, then try C’est la Fête on a different day, you’ll see what I mean. They’re both good: Tocade lasts longer, but has less fruit.  I doubt it’s meant to be a dupe, but it’s certainly a compliment to Rochas.

Overall, C’est la Fête? It’s party time! If you want smell like Carmen Miranda’s hat.

th (1)

L’Eau D’Hiver by Jean Claude Ellena for Frederic Malle- Winter Wonderland

Picture 308 L’Eau D’Hiver was created by the legendary Jean Claude Ellena for Frederic Malle. It’s kind of a response to Après L’Ondée. Imagine Jean-Claude and Guerlain having some kind of sniff off in a dark car park after hours. Who wins? Well, I’d say Jean Claude struts off with the trophy in this battle of the heliotropes, but leaves Guerlain with only a slight graze to its pride.

Luca Turin rates Après L’Ondée as one of the twenty best perfumes ever made. That’s quite a compliment when you think there are over 17,000 perfumes listed on Fragrantica alone, and the site by no means covers every scent ever made. It seems only appropriate to review the two scents consecutively since they are both heavyweight heliotropes, and this ingredient is getting harder to find and use today. Somehow, Jean-Claude Ellena managed it, but then Jean-Claude has clout.

So what’s the verdict on Eau d’Hiver? Well it’s primarily heliotrope, but where it differs from the cold shouldered Après L’Ondée is that JCE added a touch of musk, and am I imagining it? MINT.  It’s an unusual mixture that makes me think of frost and snow and silvery frozen raindrops on a cobweb. The mint keeps it sharp, but the musk softens it at the same time.

It wasn’t love at first sniff though, it was more “Mmm, that’s interesting” followed by  “rather nice, but I wouldn’t buy a large bottle” and after a while, I kind of needed to open a window. It’s like longing for a cosy log fire on an icy day, but then getting too cosy and wanting a blast of fresh air again.

The jury’s out, but it’s much friendlier than Après L’Ondée and her haughty froideur.

Champs Elysees: Guerlain, how could you?

312g7dvI4FL._SL500_AA300_

Luca Turin hates Guerlain Champs Elysees. HATES IT. However, I don’t always agree with him so I went ahead anyway. I mean it’s Guerlain so it can’t be bad , right? (apart from La Petite Robe Noire, which smells of cherries and Caramac, but that’s for another day). It can’t be awful if it’s Guerlain, can it?

Well it is. If you told me some famous popsy invented this on the back of an album tour on a limited budget for maximum publicity, I’d believe you. In a blind test, if you asked me which is the Guerlain, I would dismiss this with an instant snort and say “well it’s definitely not THAT one, no way is that a Guerlain”. And I’d be sadly mistaken.

It almost goes without saying that Guerlain has made some true greats that have stood the test of time and succeeded through generations, passing the torch of good taste from woman to woman down the decades. Take Jicky for example, rumoured to be a favourite of Jackie Onassis and created in 1889, or the perennial L’Heure Bleu, created in 1920 and still going strong, or the heavenly Apres L’Ondee, still beautiful after 106 years.

And then there’s Champs Elysees. Created in 1996 and a melting pot, it would seem, of every note they could manage outside the oriental bracket. Can I just ask: why  the melon note? Why? Why have they put melon in there with lilac and peaches and lily of the valley and almonds and anything else they could find lying round the house or garden that day?

This is not to be mistaken for the original Champs Elysees created by Jacques Guerlain in 1904. The only similarity is the name. The modern version was created by Olivier Cresp, who has a lot to answer for , since he is also guilty of creating Angel. (Don’t get me started on Angel, that Marmite of perfumes that divides so vigorously).

If you want Guerlain at its best, get the early ones. A hundred years of women can’t be wrong.

Champs Elysees? turn left and avoid. Much too busy.

Rochas Soleil Rochas: It’s Patchouli Jim, but not as we know it

o.2420I bought this blind, not having seen it around anywhere, but if I’m honest, I was attracted to its affordability. I researched reviews and lists of notes on Fragrantica and finally took the plunge for the princely sum of £11.95 for 75ml.

I was not disappointed. I wore it in the morning, I wore it in the evening, and I wore it at bedtime. Although I often say I am repelled by the raft of fruity florals flooding the market, when the fruit is orange, I make an exception.  Rochas Soleil Rochas is a light patchouli wrapped in orange and orange blossom with a hint of rose. There’s none of that ghastly powdery-ness and it remains fresh despite having a hint of spice.

If you like Dior Dune, you may like this too. For some reason I can smell or sense a sandiness to both scents. Not the seaweed, salty type, but more of a sunny, dusty scent that’s common to both. I don’t know they achieve this, but try it and see if you sense sand too.

Soleil was created in 2008, and  was intended as a floral chypre, recreating a sunny day in Paris. Notes include pear, orange blossom, tuberose and pink pepper. What I get is orange blossom and patchouli., with a hint of tuberose, but added delicately, not in its usual heady way. It’s a definite favourite, although I think more of a summer scent than a winter one. Having said that, the patchouli adds just enough spice for you to get away with it, although the people who smell you will be inspired to go and look at holiday brochures shortly after you waft past, without knowing why.

Eau de Cartier-Eau Divine!

41oYJqXHPOL._SL500_AA300_

Eau de Cartier was like a thunderbolt for me. A quest for a perfect perfume becomes addictive. Fighting my way through a forest of celeb fruity florals and past rivers of cloying vanilla and candy floss, Eau de Cartier was like finding a mirage in a desert.

The previous week I’d received a sample of Cartier’s Baiser Vole and was underwhelmed by its single note Lily that stayed linear and flat on me, reminding me of Zoflora disinfectant.  When  a sample of Eau de Cartier came my way, I wasn’t expecting to find a dream come true.

However, this fragrance floored me. Like a jaded pioneer finding a gold nugget, I suddenly sat up and took notice. It’s Bergamot, but softer, it’s Lavender but not in a detergent sense, it’s Coriander, but the leaves not the spice, and finally, it’s a soft Violet Leaf, still wrapped in Bergamot and smelling deliciously fresh.

Eau de Cartier stays light and airy and cuts through the heat of a summer day. It’s like the fresh air outside an expensive florist after the rain. I’m also glad that it stays true to its summery feel without resorting to the cucumber-melon or aquatic route. I think they must have made it just for me. I would like to thank Nose Christine Nagel for creating it in 2001, even though I was involved in a  serious relationship with Chanel Cristalle back then.

I was surprised to learn this is a unisex scent as I find it quintessentially feminine, but it has a male fanbase too. Fragrantica has reviews from both men and women.

Understated and classy, I would rather walk through a mist of this than today’s fruity, vanilla sodden smell-alikes that seem to scent every High Street. Next time you are in a perfumery or department store, ask to try a sample of this, especially in time for Spring.  You will feel wreathed in ethereal glory.