Tag Archives: fragrantica

B by Boucheron: Patchouli for Daywear

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Boucheron is another jewellery house that has entered the fragrance arena. You might ask why diamond grinders think they know about smells, but after Van Cleef and Arpels used Jean Claude Ellena to produce First, I decided to sit back and enjoy.

B by Boucheron is a pleasant daytime scent that is slightly off the beaten track.  Whereas many daytime perfumes seem to be florals, B by Boucheron might be worn by someone who longs for her daytime colleagues to see that she has an edgy side and is secretly in a band.

I find this very similar to Rochas Soleil Rochas: a pleasant orangey Patchouli with a sandy finish which I have reviewed elsewhere on this blog. Both B by Boucheron and Rochas Soleil  have Orange Blossom and Patchouli in common.

B by Boucheron starts off with a hint of Apricots (so much better than Peaches in fragrance!) and immediately the Patchouli snakes in, followed by Osmanthus, which smells like  an “intricate dentelle of fruity-leathery smells evoking plums, apricots and prunes hidden in the suede pouch upon a warrior-poet’s belt”- from Fragrantica.

The base trails away into Patchouli and Orange Blossom and stays put for a good few hours.  At around £20 for 30ml, it’s not bad value.  Not quite strong enough for evening, it makes a statement in the day. It says “Don’t overlook me, this is just my day job.  You should see me at night”

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Nina Ricci: L’Air du Temps

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When I first tried Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps in 1991, I was 21 and thought it an innocuous and pretty light floral.  Revisiting it in 2013, aged 43 (but I look younger, we decided *cough*), I realised that my first impression was way off the mark.  This is a floral with a bit of bite. This one is all about the  warmth. The flowers are just the picture frame.

 L’Air du Temps was created in 1948 and the classic bottle represents the dove of peace: a poignant symbol in post war Europe.  The fragrance itself is a complex mix of light and shadow.  The light comes from Rose, Bergamot and Violet: made airy and floaty with a light hand. The shadow comes from spicy warm Amber, raspy Vetiver, Benzoin and deep, dark Cloves. In other words, just when you think you’ve got it sussed, it changes into something different.

lair du temps adThe balance of the two results in a fragrance of genius.  It is light enough to be as delicate as a cloud, yet the base that remains makes it smoky, warm and rich.  When I tried it yesterday the most prominent note was Amber. It was there from beginning to end.  However, this is no rich Oriental: all warm and cosy.  This is almost a sleight of hand.  All those light, pretty florals promise one thing and then they fade into that classy and gently spiced finish that seems to say “there’s more to me than meets the eye.”

This is a classic scent that everyone should have in their collection.  I understand there have been reformulations across the decades, but I cannot speak for them unless I have smelled them.  It is also interesting, that I can’t for the life of me, name a scent that it resembles. (Fragrantica readers say Prince Matchabelli Wind Song, but I would have to have smelled that in order to agree).

For a flawless classic, this is a great price, starting  at around 15GBP.  I’ve run out again, but will be putting that right very soon.

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Kate by Kate Moss: A Fleeting Glimpse of Beauty

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photo by mirror.co.uk

Back in 2005, I often saw photos of Kate Moss dating Pete Doherty and despaired of them ever finding a bar of soap or some toothpaste. She appears to have cleaned up her act since, although I can’t help thinking that this enigmatic stalwart of the modelling world probably smells of cigarettes and Glastonbury. She does scrub up well for work though, so if I focus on her indisputably glamorous side, I can probably enjoy her fragrance: Kate by Kate Moss.

The packaging is pretty and retro in a seventies sort of way and opening notes are delicate and pretty- you can immediately pick out the pretty Peony and Violet Leaf. It is an inoffensive scent, ideal for office wear, and mild enough to squoosh on in the morning. And squoosh you must! This scent is fleeting and faint, and needs a good blast in order to make even an apologetic impact, though impact may be too strong a word. One spray will not pass muster. Use lavishly and you still won’t offend even the most delicate of asthmatics.

I was wary when I saw Pineapple in the top notes, but I can safely report that there wasn’t so much of a hint of it, nor should there be (great on pizza, terrible in fragrance!) Base notes allege to be Musk, Cedar and Patchouli, but if this ever lasts long enough to contain base notes, I’ll eat my cat.

Several reviewers on Fragrantica have compared this to Stella McCartney’s Stella in Two Peony.  I have smelled both, and there are indeed similarities.  I can tell you though that the difference is, unsurprisingly, that Stella costs more and lasts longer. You get what you pay for in this case.

However, Kate by Kate Moss is harmless and inoffensive, unlike its namesake, who I always thought was more of a L’Air de Rien  sort of girl. It’s as if some one has tried to tame a wild girl and make her be a secretary. Worth a tenner though, and we should always be grateful about absent pineapple.

Givenchy Amarige: Jasmine via Megaphone

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Twenty years ago, I bought my first bottle of Givenchy Amarige and didn’t bother using it sparingly. Loud, proud, and distinctive, Amarige is instantly recognisable.

It claims that “  It is so opulent and floral that it seems like its composition includes all the beautiful flowers that exist in the world.”

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Launched in 1991 by our old friend Dominique Ropion, I was 21 when I bought my first, second and third bottles. There followed a hiatus in my love affair with Amarige, possibly because I met and fell in love with another fragrance, the quieter, greener Chanel Cristalle, to whom I was faithful for many years.

Recently, on my holiday sojourn (or staycation since I stayed in the UK and holidayed on the coast), I found Amarige in a sale for only 22GBP and Oops I bought it. The memories came rushing back. However, the 21 year old me, is very different to the me of today (although naturally we look the same age *cough*).

And it is.

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With more notes than an opera, Amarige has everything you could imagine:  Neroli, Mimosa, Jasmine, Gardenia, Yellow Flowers, Oranges, Peaches (thankfully light), Roses, Tuberose, Carnation, Woods, Amber, Vanilla, Cedar, Violet…you name it, it’s in there.  In the wrong hands, this could be a generic mess, but Dominique Ropion has fiddled with the dials until everything is just at the right volume. My youthful self  was right on one point, it certainly does smell more expensive than it is. Luca Turin nearly gave it four stars, despite disliking it.  In fact, in Perfumes The Guide he states “ If you are reading this because it is your darling fragrance, please wear it at home exclusively, and tape the windows shut.”

He calls this a “soapy-green tobacco-tuberose”. I really don’t know where to categorize it on my dressing table (my bottles stand in groups).  Despite the valid criticisms of it, I can’t help liking it, and can’t stop sniffing my wrists today as it whooshes me back to the early Nineties.

Divisive ain’t the word. There is an Amarige review on Fragrantica that makes me chuckle every time, It is written by a man whose ex girlfriend practically marinated herself in it to the maximum degree, despite his pleas to stop.  Dear crazykoffee you did give me a laugh as well as giving us all a sobering lesson on how NOT to use perfume! It is a brilliantly expressed review  and is a good balance to my gushing.

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Amarige is a distinct classic, with Tuberose and Jasmine rooted in a deep and redolent base. The Yellow flower notes remind me a little of Chloe Narcisse, a fragrance only suitable for bees.  At the same time it’s playful and sweet, without being candy-sugary. It beds down into a floral woodiness, and lasts for ages, even as an EDT. I can’t help liking it, but I promise never to wear it over breakfast.

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Avon Week: Eternal Magic


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This came as a big surprise. I was expecting a light floral, let down by a cheap basenote, as per earlier Avon reviews.  But what do I find but a Dead Ringer for none other than Lancôme Hypnôse?

It’s not just me either, on Fragrantica, no less than 71 other readers have decided its similar too. The notes listed vary quite markedly. Lancôme Hypnôse is listed as having Passionflower, Vanilla and Vetiver, whereas Eternal Magic is listed as having Iris, Tincture of Rose, Vanilla and Woods.

Somewhere in the middle, I would say both have Passionflower, a hint of Wood notes, and Imagedefinite-unmistakable-applied-with-a-trowel, sweet Vanilla. What you are left with is a Floriental Gourmand, a spicy floral with heavy Vanillic basenotes. In fact the first time I ever tried Hypnôse, I was convinced there was a soft little note of Anise in there somewhere.

The beauty of Eternal Magic lies in the fact that it doesn’t smell like an automaton Avon scent. In a blind test, I would never have labelled this one as Avon. It’s warmer, with more resonance and depth to the base. It’s not my cup of tea personally, but it is rather lovely and pleasant, and a refreshing change from other Avon scents.

If you are a fan of Lancôme Hypnôse (£38 per 30ml) but your money tree isn’t blossoming, then this is your lucky day. Eternal Magic is usually around £13 for a 50ml EDT, but in the current Avon brochure it is a mere £8. Avon online is selling it in a gift pack for £9.99 . I consider these prices downright silly and encourage you to take advantage of a quality scent at a bargain price.

The spokesmodel for Eternal Magic is the beautiful Zoe Saldana, and her willowy form features in the ad campaign. Eternal Magic sillage is positively sociable,  and lasting power is around three hours on a good day.

Gucci Envy: It’s Madness I Tell You

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Gucci Envy is one of the most exquisite perfumes I have ever smelled. I’ve never found anything similar and used to wear it all the time. The thrill of wearing it never wore off.  I used to replace empty bottles as urgently as I would replace groceries.  It was a must have, rather than a luxury.  Then suddenly it was no longer in the shops anymore.

envy adCreated by  Maurice Roucel  in 1997, with a 90s urban edge in mind, Gucci Envy was discontinued in 2007. It’s still available on eBay if you have surplus cash and gold hanging about, but you cannot buy it in the shops anywhere anymore  (EDIT– update it’s on Amazon UK  right now but be quick! )

So what made it so special that it makes me emotional just to smell it now? ( a very kind soul took pity on me and sent me a decant- an enormous thank you to her!). In tests, Gucci Envy was not rubber stamped until its panel of testers rated it  more highly, than Estee Lauder Pleasures .   At the time Pleasures was its main competitor and was very “now” with its typically 90s fresh, airy appeal. Once Envy’s approval rating had beaten Pleasures, it was released upon a grateful public.

gucci_envy_reklama3Opening notes are Lily of the Valley, Green notes, and Hyacinth.  In the middle there is a sort of clean metallic note, almost like a silvery chord gone wrong in the middle. This works very well with the combo of Lily of The Valley and Hyacinth ( and a breeze of Freesia). If it were a colour it would be light green. It was so clean and airy and fresh that it was ideal for daytime, and indeed I wore it to the office every day.

So why was it discontinued? Theories include internal politics. Tom Ford was there when it was created and is not there now. Did he steal the recipe and escape, whilst laughing a villain’s laugh and blipping a security guard on the head? Or maybe another more plausible theory holds water: that of insanity and a disdain for making money.

I’m sticking with theory two. I wrote to the Gucci website with faux bafflement, asking why I couldn’t find Gucci Envy. They replied

 “Please note that Gucci Envy is no longer in production as we always look for new combinations of scents that the market has not explored yet. For this reason we invite you to visit one of our stores to experience the fragrances available and choose the right one”. (sic)

In other words, they cannot make a perfume I definitely love and definitely want to buy because they are too busy making perfume I might love and might want to buy. Does that make sense? No.

Recently I entered the Perfume Shop and asked to try  Gucci Envy Me, hoping against hope there may be some similarities. There weren’t.  Envy Me is pleasant and clean smelling, like a pile of fresh laundry, but Envy it is not. Nor is Gucci Envy Me 2.  In fact why create two flankers when you have stopped making the Real McCoy?

I am not alone. Posters on Basenotes want it, posters on Fragrantica want it, and perfumistas on Mumsnet want it back.   Sales were not dropping off.  It was not going out of fashion.  It was not impossible to make.

So it just leaves me weeping over my precious decant, asking a cold shouldered corporation “WHY? Did someone have a bowl of crazy for breakfast? Don’t you want my money?”

I don’t think they’re listening.

PS If you’re missing it, I have found three scents that will do as a stand in until Gucci sees sense: Isabella Rosselini Manifesto, Jo Loves No 42 The Flower Shop and Issey Miyake A Scent.

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Ava Luxe Madeline: Milk and Whisky in Front of A Log Fire

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Ava Luxe is a growing fragrance brand founded by Serena Ava Franco and is based on Rhode Island, USA.  This is a new kid on the block compared to many long standing big brands and it’s always interesting to see what passionate individuals come up with, rather than a board room, a focus group and a marketing department.

Serena is inspired by the exotic, the mystical and the arts. She is no boring wallflower. All products are completely cruelty free and are made to order. I’m not the only fan over here, but it is a bit tricky to get hold of Ava Luxe in the UK. The momentum is growing however, so watch this space, or look out for decants and bottles on eBay, Basenotes and Fragrantica.

So today I have in my hands a bottle of Ava Luxe Madeline. I accidentally got a smear on my hands and it was oily and unctuous, rather than watery and alcoholic. In my experience, this usually means a perfume has the clinging power of a barnacle after a round the world cruise. I was right. Madeline was still there about nine hours later, showing no signs of leaving.

But would you want Madeline as a house guest? I would say yes, especially in winter. I couldn’t shake the idea that there are Oranges in here somewhere. Orange is not listed as a note, but it could be down to the fact that this smells a little like Christmas baking, so maybe that’s where visions of Clementines came from. There is a delicate smokiness permeating the thick Vanilla Bourbon, as if I am smelling the ashes form a Vanilla joss stick. It adds an ingeniously clever hint of a crackling log fire. Madeline also has a flicker of Licorice and a splash of Milk. This would make a ghastly drink, but in a fragrance, the Licorice smells spicy and adds a little mystery to the spell. The Milk is comforting and soft.

Overwhelmingly, this is smoky Vanilla: Good vanilla, like the real beans and flecks that you see in expensive ice cream. There is no Vanilla essence here, this is the real thing, to the point of glorious headiness.

My only qualm about Madeline is that it may be too rich, like eating half a whisky soused Christmas Cake in one sitting. It sounds like a good idea, it’s nice at the time, but at the end you might need some fresh air.

Ava Luxe is definitely worth a second look. And a third. And a fourth…

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Coty L’Aimant Fleur de Rose: Get it While You Still Can

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 Coty L’Aimant has been around since 1927. I have a particular fondness for it as it was the signature scent of my much missed and beloved late grandmother.  On me, it’s no great shakes, but on her it was wonderful.  I almost can’t bear to buy it or smell it, so evocative are the memories. I never underestimate the power of scent. It can take you back you in time more powerfully than any photograph.

When I saw that Coty had made a flanker called L’Aimant Fleur de Rose, I was curious enough to buy it, since I thought a bit more flora would make me like the L’Aimant scent more. To me, L’Aimant is too synthetic and powdery: In fact I am not the first person to say it reminds me of Chanel No 5. If you are a fan of Chanel No 5 and budget won’t permit a purchase, then affordable Coty L’Aimant is a close second.

Fleur de Rose however, keeps a muted shadow of the L’Aimant scent but has softened it with Peony, Rose , Musk  and Freesia. It smells like a very feminine White Floral Musk. Imagine if you used a Rose scented body lotion, then layered Body Shop White Musk over a classic white flower scent, say Anais Anais, followed by a light dusting of baby talc :  Voilà! you have L’Aimant Fleur de Rose.

This fragrance really grew on me, but what makes it even more appealing is that I bought my 30ml bottle for £3.99 from Home Bargains. I have recently seen 15ml bottles in Bodycare for £1.99 and bought some as stocking fillers last Christmas.

Judging by the low price, the availability in bargain shops, and the fact it is absent from Fragrantica listings, I can only conclude that this has been discontinued. If you see it, buy it. Actually, buy two. I’ve a feeling this beauty won’t be around much longer.

Guerlain Aroma Allegoria: Aromaparfum Apaisant: Spring is Coming, Look Busy.

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 When I first tried Guerlain Aromaparfum Apaisant my initial thought for almost three seconds was Marine notes. The sea, the sea! So fresh it could cut through any smog.  Within minutes the dry down showed me how wrong I was.

This is not an Aqua at all, it’s a Yellow Flower Honey scent with top notes of Chamomile and Freesia. Often when I smell a new perfume I write down what I can smell and then check it against the notes listed on Fragrantica. On this occasion, it does exactly what it does on the tin: Chamomile Tea next to a bunch of Freesias and a pot of Honey.  In fact the Yellow Flowers and Honey notes made this smell very similar to Gianfranco Ferre Essence D’Eau which I reviewed earlier in this blog.

If you like Essence D’Eau or Lancôme’s Poême, then this will be a good addition to your collection. To me it’s too cloying and flowery, and the honey makes my ears think they can hear bees.

This was created in 2002 by Jean-Paul Guerlain himself. Groucho Marx once said on leaving a hostess at the end of the night “ I’ve had a wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.”

To paraphrase Groucho: Jean-Paul Guerlain has made some wonderful fragrances. But this isn’t one of them. Unless you are black and yellow and have wings and a sting.  In which case, you’re going to LOVE this.

Molinard Habanita: A Timeless Vintage

histoire_2Molinard Habanitaseemed right for today’s icy temperatures and like Edith Piaf, I have no regrets. Having tried several vintage woody chypres lately and not liking what they’ve done to me, I was pleasantly surprised to find a vintage fragrance that I like, admire, and want to add to my scent wardrobe.

Molinard  was founded in 1849, in Grasse, and remains a family business. The company can even count Queen Victoria among its early patrons. Habanita was created in 1921 to complement the growing trend for women to smoke. It was intended to “perfume cigarettes”, but has remained a steady seller ever since, even in the health conscious non-smoking 21st century.

It may be just me, but I find older perfumes have a whiff of nail polish about them when first applied. This is no bad thing, since it brings old fashioned dressing tables to mind, which feels right and proper when trawling through the history of fragrances. Habanita is no exception: it has that distinctive note of face powder and nail polish when it first goes on. However, the drydown happens quickly and after that it just gets better.

I often find chypres too harsh and woody, but Habanita is more of an oriental amber. I love amber, and already have Ambre de Cabochard (derided by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, but loved by me), as well as J del Pozo Ambar.

Like all the best perfumes, Habanita changes as you wear it. It starts powdery, and then warms up into a beautiful, feminine scent that lasts a long time. It’s strong, with heavy sillage, so I would save it for evening rather than the office. As time wore on, I could smell a hint of lemon, even though this is not listed as a note, a hint of lilac, some pale musk, and finally strong leather, through an incense-like amber mist.

Fragranitca lists many fruity notes, such as peach and raspberry, but I didn’t get those at all. In fact, I didn’t get any of the top notes listed as Habanita sank into my skin and seemed to skip top notes and middle notes and go straight to base notes: amber, musk, oakmoss and leather. Fans of  Grès Cabochardwill certainly like this.

Habanita de Molinard is a timeless classic. Try it . It’ll bring out the panther in you.

 

EDIT: looking back at this post over a year after I wrote it, it’s very interesting how my tastes have changed.  I still adore Habanita, but these days, I’d be front of the queue for any vintage-y chypres. My journey has been a strange evolution of preferences. 

4th April 2014