Until this week, I had never tried any fragrance from Abercrombie and Fitch. In fact, I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t even know they did any. I guess I’m not their targeted market, being a 47 year old with a serious charity shop habit. No matter. With perfume, age means nothing, and it will ALWAYS fit, even after Christmas.
On my skin, First Instinct For Her opens with magnolia and orchids. Now, I always have a problem with orchid. No matter who makes the fragrance, orchid always smells like plastic to me. Unfortunately, the case is no different here. However, the magnolia rallies and a touch of grapefruit lifts it a bit higher. The passion fruit adds a faint hint of tropical taste, a bit like Lilt, and the orange flower comes in to give this a heady white flower blanket that complements the magnolia and makes it even richer. The base is warmed with some cosy sweet tonka and amber.
Unfortunately, the overall impression this gave me was white flowers, vanilla and orchid. It reminded me of so many other fragrances that I just couldn’t get excited about it. However, another way of saying it is that it’s right on trend at the moment and there is clearly an appetite for fragrance of this genre.
Shay & Blue London Blueberry Musk was included as a sample in the recent Perfume Society Heavens Scent Discovery Box. I’ve tried and reviewed several Shay & Blue London scents now and have yet to find one I dislike. In fact, I wore Shay & Blue English Cherry Blossom throughout most of Spring last year and will probably do so again.
Blueberry Musk was a bit of a surprise. There I was, expecting something with musky berries akin to L’Artisan Parfumeur Mure et Musc, when what do I get but a flashback to the Body Shop 1986. Yes, there’s a big suggestion of Dewberry here. If you were a fan of that, then you’ll be a fan of this. However, this is no mere 80s throwback, my friends. With big, beautiful middle notes of magnolia and jasmine, this is more of a modern white floral with a deliciously fruity twist. There’s no sugary sweetness though- which would have put me off. I’ve always thought blueberries were a touch musky anyway, so they are particularly well served by the musky finish.
This could well be a Shay & Blue London bestseller. Deliciously light and pretty, with a playful dab of Dewberry, I do believe I am in full bottle territory.
Supra-naturals: The ones we make with the posh naturals combined with most excellent synthetic molecules to make scents of great beauty.- Sarah McCartney
Perfumer Sarah McCartney (I’m going to add the word inexhaustible) has an encyclopaedic knowledge of perfume regulations. If you don’t believe me, put her on Mastermind. This knowledge, which by necessity would resemble several complex mazes in someone’s head, led her to concoct a “Supra-Natural” scent.
Why are Mother’s Nature’s Daughters Naughty? Well they’re more rule-bendingly naughty than wicked, but they have a twinkle in their eye.
Many of the off grid, twigs-in-your-hair style fragrance notes involved in Mother Nature’s Naughty Daughters are prohibited or severely regulated in their natural and absolute form by both IFRA and the EU . There’s also the complication that these truly natural ingredients have a lot of variables when they land on skin. Sarah has therefore, rather resourcefully, used natural ingredients to create a synthetic sure-fire replication of these notes without actually breaking any rules. Still with me? Trust me, she knows what she’s doing.
So having gone through all that, whilst exploring the delightful sounding broom absolute for the first time along the way, what does Mother Nature’s Naughty Daughters smell like? This is a rosy chypre (complete with textbook woody, mossy base), but at the same time, it’s a playful fruity floral that also happens to be a gourmand. In other words, this will please fans of all three genres.
What I have here is an opening that reminded me briefly of calvados: orchard fruits and booze. The fruit is framed with praline which gave me an instant hit of those divine liquid centred boozy liqueurs you get at Christmas (which I could eat endlessly, with my eyes closed going “MMM”). Blackcurrants come out, which can smell like cat pee, but here they are rich and bitter in a good red wine-y sort of way. There is a syrupy note that bridges the top phase to the middle, although nothing is as prescriptive as that here. Roses pop out, but with brown sugar frosting their petals. Is that the broom I can smell? It is reportedly a nutty, woody, hay-like note and that’s certainly there, along with a waft of warm Horlicks (that’ll be the malt).
So far this has given us a little tour covering most of an English Country Garden. So where does the base leave us? On some damp aromatic moss, on a cedar bench after the rain, with a glassful of sticky Pimms and pear pips. Which is not just fine by me, but wholeheartedly agreeable. If birdsong could be bottled, that would be in here too.
I tried YSL Mon Paris in Boots today, and was eager to get my mitts on it, being a fan of the original iconic YSL Paris with its violets and roses. I was all hopeful and friendly towards the pretty bottle. I figured it must be covetable since it was chained to the perfume counter (like me).
But oh dear. It’s happened again. A flanker has been added on to a classic and come out smelling like a mass market overly sweet rent-a-scent. Harsh words? Maybe, but it’s not the first time this has happened. Fans of YSL Paris, that perennial Sophia Grojsman classic, may well be disappointed by Mon Paris. I certainly was. Do not buy blind.
YSL Mon Paris opens with pink flowers: sweet and sugary. You may find Note du Jour jasmine sambac in there, and some peony too. I usually like peony, but this is messy and overly sweet. Then comes lots of sticky fruit: strawberries, raspberries, pear. The basenotes are allegedly patchouli (two types if you please), ambroxan ( which is musk mallow- a plant based musk sub) and white musk. I would say the patchouli is faintly discernible, but crowded out by pink candy, rather than the mossy punch I’m looking for. (The blurb mentions a classic chypre base, but I don’t know where that went. It’s certainly not here)
This smells very much like Miss Dior ( the modern one, not the Originale) Dior Poison Girl and Black Opium without the coffee. It’s a sweet, candy floss, candy shop fruity floral that has little of any originality to offer. It’s as far from YSL Paris as can be.
Now I should add at this point that all my reviews are just my personal taste, nobody’s forcing me to buy it, and I guess they don’t make it like this unless they feel there’s a demand. There IS a demand, and they didn’t have the likes of me in mind, so I will go back to my quiet collection of retro mossy stuff and no more will be said on it.
Yves Saint Laurent will never lose my love and loyalty because they made Paris, Rive Gauche, Y, Yvresse and Opium. But I’ll sit this one out, thanks.
Yesterday I popped into my local Superdrug. I like it in there. They always have lots of testers and many half price fragrances. I spotted Hollister Wave For Her and had a thorough try of it: coat sleeves and all. It lasted several hours, I’ll give it that, but left me underwhelmed. I know that I’m not a member of the Hollister demographic. At forty six, I’m about thirty years too late, so I simply sprayed and went to catch the bus in my comfy boots and sensible handbag.
Hollister Wave For her opens with synthetic flowers. I recognised orchid, since I almost always have a problem with it. It’s used in some Avon perfumes and I always find it jarringly fake and plasticky. After the orchid came some generic synthetic fruity notes: quince and star fruit. I didn’t like those either. It’s rounded off with sandalwood, amber ( yes, I got a bit of that) and here’s a new one me: solar notes. I looked it up on Fragrantica and it came in under the genre of “natural and synthetic, popular and weird.” I don’t really know what the solar notes added, but this was a very generic fruity floral. So generic, I’m sure I’ve smelled it at least a hundred times.
However, as I said up there ^, this wasn’t made for the likes of me. I like mossy chypres. I was never going to like this, was I? That doesn’t mean to say it won’t be a big seller and very popular. It does mean that it will never make it to my agreeably overflowing dressing table.
It goes without saying that boyband One Direction are a phenomenon. They have broken the notoriously tough American market, and their star is still on the rise, going orbital. The only surprising thing about their perfume Our Moment, is that it didn’t come out sooner.
It’s getting a little tougher to get perfume samples over the counter these days. There’s a thriving market for them on eBay and I have to set my blogger’s charm to “Stun” in order to get them from sales assistants. However, the nice lady in the Perfume Shop gave me lots of these saying “You’re welcome to these, we’ve got loads, here you are, put them in your bag”. So I did. Thank you Perfume Shop Lady.
Now you don’t need to be a media expert to realise that “Our Moment” is speaking directly to the heart of One Direction fans. It’s saying “Psst, you, yes you, this is just between you and me. This Our Moment. I approve of this product, so if you buy it I will approve of you too. Love Harry/Zayn/the other three X X X.”
Our Moment makes me feel old. When I realised I was older than Harry Styles’ Mum I felt ancient. When I released that I was old enough to be his grandmother (I’m 43), I buttoned up my cardigan and put the kettle on in despair. Back in 1983 Boy George first appeared on the television. My Dad was appalled and said rude words about him. I remember thinking that Dad was like, really old and stuff. Now here I am, thinking that Harry has too many tattoos and I hope they’re staying away from drugs and being sensible. How time flies.
Now to the smell. In its favour I will say that since this is marketed at young girls, pre teens and teens, that they have got one thing exactly right. It’s not sexy. Nor is it provocative or seductive or alluring. Excellent work. I approve.
It does however, fit in with a little perfume conspiracy theory I have been quietly forming. My theory is this: Somewhere there is a giant bubbling vat of extremely fruity perfume. Everybody uses it and puts it into different bottles, inventing the notes and using different packaging. Britney uses it a lot, as does Beyoncé, and even Loewe used it for Quizas Quizas Quizas Pasion. And now the One Direction boys are using it too. It’s just one big red fruit, strawberry flavoured, sugary, fruity floral vat with a queue of celebrities’ flunkies waiting to fill their bottles with it and add a different moniker.
Top notes are listed as: Redcurrants, Forest Fruits and Lemon. Middle notes are Freesia, Jasmine and Frangipani, and Base notes are Patchouli Musk and Woody notes. Getting back to reality for a minute, what it actually smells like is forest fruits and redcurrants with added candy floss. And that goes for top notes, middle notes and base notes.
Frankly, this would sell by the shelfload even if it smelled of cat pee. Putting my personal preferences aside for a minute (I’ll be wearing Balmain Jolie Madame later today), this will clearly be a bestseller. Prepare to smell this Princessy bottle everywhere. It will be on every Under 12s’ Christmas wish list. Brace yourself for the OMGs. This ticks every box.
Oh and the inevitable flankers. It’s just a matter of time.
For all my rants and grouchiness about ubiquitous fruity floral fragrances and their alleged popularity that spreads and clings like Japanese Knotweed, I do believe I have stumbled across one that I actually like. I’m afraid to buy it though, in case Escada think I want them to make more fruity florals. I will stick to using my generous 2ml free sample, which I am currently plastered in. It’s rather lovely.
Now who is the clever Nose who has persuaded me to like a fruity floral scent? None other than our old friend Dominique Ropion. I told you he was versatile. In Escada Sexy Grafitti he has brought us a scent that bursts with Raspberries, Blackcurrant and Lemon in the opening notes. However, if, like me, you are thinking of dessert by now, you can rest assured that M.Ropion has kept it delicate and pretty and fresh, rather than smelling like something bees want to visit. (Are you listening Britney? I haven’t forgiven you for Midnight Fantasy aka Death By Candy Floss).
As the fruit falls away (apart from robust raspberry), the flowers come out to play. Violets are discernible, as is a touch of pretty Peony, and a little Lily of The Valley. In fact, the juxtaposition of all this produces another smell not unlike peppermint. It’s fresh and playful with a hint of soapiness. Unlike many other fruity floral scents (and there are currently about 50 gazillion) I find this refreshing and light hearted rather than sticky and sickly. It ends with a faint touch of pale Woods and Musk, although the sweet Raspberry never really leaves at all. I would also like to thank M.Ropion for leaving out Melon and Peach. Thank Heaven for small mercies.
I have often ranted that there are too many fruity florals on the market, and I stand by that, but maybe in a cacophony of noise, you can sometimes pick out a sonata.