Tag Archives: High Street perfumes

First impressions of First Instinct For Her by Abercrombie and Fitch

 

abercrombie

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.

abercrombie ad

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.

If you like this, you may also be a fan of Paco Rabanne Olympea, or Avon Far Away Infinity or Avon Incandessence (very orchid-y) or Christian Lacroix Bijou for Avon.

Stockists

You can get a sample of this ( among others) from The Perfume Society Latest Launches Discovery Box, or buy a full bottle from The Fragrance Shop UK online or instore, or from Escentual.

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Elizabeth Arden Provocative Woman EDP

provocative ad

I’ve been circling this one for a while and wondering how to review it. It sort of does and doesn’t fit into a neat category.  It’s sort of a fruity floral and a spicy woody scent.  It’s sort of provocative but you could wear it to work without inadvertently turning anyone on.   In other words,  it has cast its net very wide.

Created in 2004, the Elizabeth Arden Provocative Woman campaign was fronted by my fellow Welshwoman Catherine Zeta Jones.  We also happen to be the same age, but the similarity ends there.  We won’t get confused as twins anytime soon.

provocative woman bottle

Provocative Woman opens with quince, raspberry, peach, ginger and lotus.  The middle notes are apricot, freesia, papaya and orchid.  The basenotes are hinoki wood, amber, red amber, sandalwood and cedar.

So you can see my problem.  All the fruit from the fruit salad is in here, but with added spice and heat from the ginger and a warm woody finish.  It’s hard to pick out the individual notes. It’s sort of a fruit Pimms accord with a touch of chai tea . There’s a lovely clean whiff of freshly washed hair in among the jelly but the flowers struggle to come to the fore.

provo box

All in all, I can’t help liking this crowd pleasing effort, even if it is a little bit of a mish mash.  I didn’t used to be a fan of fruity florals but I smelled so many different ones that I was won over, and this one has won me over too.

I think the youth market is missing a trick with this fruity number and may well rule it out as being a “Mum” perfume.  In fact, the fruitiness is fun and light and even playful.   The woods don’t get too dark or deep and the faint, faint flowers offer a little flourish of girliness.  I wouldn’t call this provocative,  but it’s certainly womanly.  It’s also a massive bargain. My bottle is a 30ml EDP and lasting power is not bad at around four hours.

Stockists

Elizabeth Arden Provocative Woman is widley available. Try  Amazon UK and Half Price Perfumes to name but two.  Opinions are my own, as is this bottle.

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Shay and Blue London Blood Oranges

 

blood oranges

Shay and Blue London continues to impress. After wearing Shay and Blue London English Cherry Blossom all weekend and recently raving about Framboise Noire, I did wonder if Blood Oranges would meet my expectations. The answer is no, it excelled my expectations and it has now been added to my Full Bottle Wish List (It’s longer than my street now. Oops!).

blood orangesBlood Oranges opens, and stays, with bitter sharp citrus notes. What impressed me the most is that the citrus sticks around for the whole time. This is not particularly common, although I have enjoyed a spate of long lasting citruses lately so maybe the tide is happily turning. Blood Oranges pierces through the heat of (dare I say it yet?) summer and gives me all the clean scent of a freshly peeled orange without the marmalade stickiness. In the middle there’s a bit of leather which softens the edges without taking over. The basenotes are warm, with amber, musk and woods, but the oranges never leave. Longevity is excellent at around six or seven hours, and although it’s a warm scent, the citrus keeps it fresh and therefore ideal for summer. There’s no staleness, no hint of dried up peel: this stays as juicy as if you’ve just peeled it.  It makes an excellent unisex scent, being an invigorating cologne style fragrance that would suit anyone, especially, but not exclusively, in summer.

Stockists

I got my sample from The Perfume Society Eaux La La Discovery Box. You can buy full bottles from trusty Marks and Spencer. Big shout out for the stunning packaging too.

 

 

Givenchy Very Irresistible: It Started Here

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Givenchy Very Irresistible is not only a test of character for my spell checker ( I am having so much trouble writing irresistible!), but the fragrance that launched a thousand flankers.  Well maybe not quite a thousand, but near enough if you ask me.

It opens with Anise, Cassis, and Lemon Verbena, and you can smell all of these quite clearly:  it’s not just glib perfume-speak. Cassis comes from blackcurrants and anise is liquorice-y so Very Irresistible sings a fairly dark opening number.

However, as the heart blossoms into rose, peony, more rose, some magnolia and some extra rose, it becomes more irresistible with the opening notes providing a pleasant purple sort of background.  The base is more roses and this is no bad thing.  Sometimes in High Street scents, floral perfume notes can get lost among too many ingredient, but Very Irresistible remembers the power of the rose and uses it to good effect here.

Overall, it would pass the commuter test, it would be good for work and every day wear and wouldn’t tread on anyone’s toes in a lift. But don’t go mad before 9am.

www.canadiangardening.com
www.canadiangardening.com

My bugbear with Givenchy Very Irresistible is the fact it spawned nearly thirty flankers, and the fact that it isn’t groundbreaking or particularly unique.  But then again, if I want ground breaking or unique I know where to go when I’m in that mood.

This would make a good Christmas gift for the floral fragrance lover in your life.  I don’t think the price is amazingly good: it’s between 30 and 40 quid for 30ml, and whenever you search for it online, all the flankers pop up instead.

Stockists: In the UK you can buy Givenchy Very Irresistible from www.Escentual.com or Debenhams online.  In the USA  and Canada you can try Amazon.com or Amazon.ca respectively.

www.bbc.co.uk
www.bbc.co.uk

Givenchy Dahlia Divin: There’s Good News and Bad News

dahlia

Givenchy has launched their latest fragrance Dahlia Divin with the beautiful Alicia keys as the face of the campaign.  There’s good news and bad news.  Good news is that the prolific genius Francois Demachy made it and he pretty much created the monster’s share of the current Dior lines. No amateurs here.  The other good news is that it doesn’t smell like cake or candy floss.

OK so that’s the good news out of the way.  The bad news is that Dahlia Divin smells a little generic and I am sitting here racking my brains to name the scent that this reminds me of. In fact I think it smells like several: Jimmy Choo Flash and Loewe Aura.  Maybe it’s the fact that Jasmine Sambac and white flowers have been put centre stage, ubiquitous plum has been added, and then there’s the frequently used base of patchouli and vetiver.

www.Crocus.co.uk
www.Crocus.co.uk

The problem I have with white flowers is that that I feel they need a heavy base to ground them.  Say, tuberose for example.  Jasmine on its own tends to stray into all sorts of territories without being anchored and it can vary from shrill to indolic.  In this case, it’s borderline sweet and shrill at the same time.  I’m not entirely sure that’s a good thing.

However, like I said, the good news is that there’s no vanilla, no red berries, no caramel and no chocolate.  So I really shouldn’t be ungrateful. It bugs me that this is labelled as a chypre when I don’t think it qualifies.  I am not a professional by any means, but this just doesn’t smell like a chypre to me.  To me, a chypre is Chanel No 19 or Balmain Jolie Madame.  Dahlia Divin has nothing in common with either. ANd there’s no oak moss. Not a whiff!

I enjoyed the opening notes that were soapy, powdery and feminine, but the middle and base notes smell like generic Avon perfumes, notably the scents from the Today, Tomorrow, Always range.  Either that’s a dig at Givenchy or a compliment to Avon.

My sample was obtained from my hotly anticipated Discovery Club Box from the Fragrance Shop.  I look forward to each and every one even if I end up not loving all the samples. What pure bliss to sit there wading through them though!

I can tell you this about Dahlia Divin: there’s not a whiff of Dahlia, but then they never pretend that there’s going to be.  The stunning and talented Alicia Keys, the name, the bottle:  all beautiful.

The scent?  It’ll fit right in on the High Street.

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Eau de Lacoste Sensuelle: A Big Improvement

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Eau de Lacoste Sensuelle is thankfully very different from Eau de Lacoste, which if you recall from my earlier review on this blog, was all synthetic pineapple and stickiness.  I was not a fan, despite it being a steady seller.

lacosteHowever, Eau de Lacoste Sensuelle is a different story.  There is no pineapple, which already puts this in my good books.  There is a pretty combination of appealing pink pepper and blackcurrant in the opening blast, which despite my previous moans about fruity florals, actually makes for a lovely scent.  I usually like blackcurrant in fragrance and this is no exception.

The middle notes are rose, sweet pea and gladioli and I have to say I have never smelled gladioli in a perfume before, and cannot smell it here. I suspect it may be one of those amalgamates that is more beloved of the copywriter than the chemist. In any case, smooth woody florals with fuzzy fruity edges are the order of the day.

The base stays fairly true to the blackcurrant and the floral notes. Unusually, the base claims to be a mixture of amber and nougat, which is a new one on me.  However, despite today’s frequent glorification of all things confectionary on the perfume shelf, the nougat is more of a almondy background, which may be why my first thought when smelling this was of a watered down, fruitier Dior Hypnotic Poison.

All in all, this is pretty good.  It’s not on my wish list (bursting at the seams as usual) but I like it.

Lacoste Eau de Lacoste:  Another Eau For Summer

lacoste     I reviewed Lacoste Eau de Lacoste today because I have seen it everywhere, I have a sample in my sample box and because it has “eau” in the name.  Being summer, I need all the Eau I can get.

Eau de Lacoste opens promisingly like a sparkling eau de cologne.  If it stayed like this I would love it.  Unfortunately some rather sticky scented fruit comes in within ten  minutes making it smell like the sort of cocktail that is three colours and comes with an umbrella. There’s a whole fruit salad in there: pineapple, oranges and limes.

The limes I can handle, but the pineapple just doesn’t work for me at all and is horribly synthetic. In the middle some Orange Blossom peeks out, but the base is a sticky fruity mess, despite promising me tempting Vetiver and Balsam.  If they cranked up the lime and oranges, left out the pineapple, and turned the volume up on the Orange Blossom, then I might like this. But they haven’t so I don’t.

This is sold widely and I see it often on High Street beauty counters. You probably get a free tote bag. As for me, I’ll save my money and work my way down my non fruity wish list. When it comes to perfume, that wish list never seems to get any shorter.

Hooray!  What a lovely dilemma.

It smells like a Del Boy Cocktail. (photo by recipegreat.com)
photo by recipegreat.com

PS Fans of Only Fools And Horses might understand why I thought of Del Boy while sniffing this pineapple concoction!

Givenchy Very Irresistible L’Eau En Rose: A Fair and Fleeting Rose

 

www.givenchy.com

Givenchy.com

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.

givenchy

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!

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Dolce by Dolce and Gabbana

 

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The new launch  Dolce from  Dolce and Gabbana represents a welcome burst of floral Spring fragrances on the beauty counters. With its pale green juice and faux Ivory flower lid, I would happily award ten out of ten for packaging and presentation.

My initial feeling within the first few minutes of smelling this was that it was a little like Gucci Envy.  Sadly that phase only lasted a few minutes before it settled down into a fairly generic but agreeable floral.  At first I thought I could smell Vanilla in the drydown but in fact the sweetness comes from the flowers used: Amaryllis is a cross between rose and nectarine, and Papaya flower is sweet enough without having two sugars in its tea.

dolce advert

The notes, according to Fragrantica are :

Top notes: Neroli and Papaya Flower

Middle notes: Amaryllis, Narcissus and Water Lily,

Base notes: Musk and Woods.

The Neroli is certainly a dominant note, and this manages to be a very floral scent without troubling the White Flower genre, nor the Green notes genre, nor, (thankfully) the Vanilla Cupcake genre that seems to permeate everything.

It’s a hard one to categorise so I shall say it’s a pretty and light floral with a toned down yet noticeable sweetness. I didn’t really get Musk and Woods in the base though, more like Peach and Vanilla.  Longevity is decent: after five hours it’s very close to skin but still there, just about.

Out of many new releases tried lately, Dolce is one of the better ones, and worth a sniff if you’re passing by a counter.

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Emporio Armani Diamonds: I Take it Back

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I have been studiously ignoring Emporio Armani Diamonds due to its ubiquity. Yes, despite my cheap and cheerful habits, I can be a terrible snob about very mainstream perfume and sometimes refuse to test something just because it is too popular.  I know I’m  a big fool. Or maybe I learned my lesson after trying Diesel Loverdose (Oh my nose!).

Today I had a stern word with myself and was pleasantly surprised by Emporio Armani Diamonds.  I am so over fruity florals (spelled O.V.A.H),  and Diamonds contains all the things that I feel are overdone and overused  in many of today’s mainstream scents.  However, somehow the blending of the sum of its parts has led to a bright, pleasant, not too sweet, clean smelling daytime fragrance.

photo by wiki
photo by wiki

If I had read the notes before sampling, I would never have tried it:  Vanilla, Raspberries and Lychee are enough to have me turning away.  However, there are also notes that I love such as Lily of The Valley, Rose, Amber, Patchouli and Vetiver.

What takes place when I spray it is that the flowers come out all sharp and zingy.  Like Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely, the flowers are never girly and petal-like, but are surrounded by Patchouli and become stronger and Woodier from the start. The Raspberry is discernible but behaves itself, never getting too loud.

This is made with a light hand which makes it perfect for daytime.  A squoosh of it is refreshing, almost shower fresh, like clean hair, and it stays nicely  full bodied for a few hours.  Longevity is lacking, however.  Three hours later this has disappeared, but it’s not bad value if you squirt your hair or a coat (which I didn’t because I was in the shop, but don’t put it past me). Having said that, after this went away completely, it seemed to come back a little later but just with a faint close to skin layer of Raspberries and Vanilla, then after another hour of that, it finally went for good.

In passing, I would like to say hooray to Superdrug who have been displaying loads of testers and having lots of specials on every week. Because they are at the till, the staff will chat to you about them and share their opinions and tell you what’s selling and what’s not.  I have not only had some bargains there myself, but I have managed to try loads of new releases that I would normally have ignored, nose in air. Naughty old snobby me has learned a lesson.