Tag Archives: High Street perfumes

Halloween Perfume: How to choose Your Witches’ Brew

Halloween is not necessarily my favourite time of year, but if I ever told my children that they’d be horrified.  So, I go along with it, and I hang round at the back when they go trick or treating (at selected homes so as not to be a nuisance). Meanwhile, for me, it’s a great excuse to have fun with fragrance and add something seasonal to my year-round head to toe black ensemble.

vintage Halloween card.

 

Here are a few ideas in case you want to make your mark on Halloween and add a bit of mystery to your night. Maybe you could play guess the E-numbers with your Haribo Haul? Or wonder why the only traditional Halloween songs are Monster Mash or Thriller? Or you could just cram your little hamster cheeks with chocolate until it’s all over. (I don’t do that. Nope. No Sir). In any case, the perfume world has something for every occasion, even this one.

REEK Perfumes Damn Rebel Witches

REEK Perfumes burst onto the scene in 2016 with Damn Rebel Bitches. This is a fragrance commemorating the intrepid and gutsy rebel Jacobite women who fought back against the English  with all they had. The nose behind this is Sarah McCartney, and a fine job she has done too. This scent  makes me think of wild women with twigs in their hair. The ingredients are inspired by what would have been around way back then so you have clary sage and malt and even  broom ( appropriately enough for Halloween).  But REEK didn’t stop there. Earlier this year, they gave the bitches a sister and Damn Rebel Witches was the result.

Here’s what I had to say about it in my review here:

What I find curious about this is that when you think Damn Rebel Witches has left you completely, it disappears and comes back as a sort of light floral ghostie.  I was sniffing my arm wondering what petal like scent I had sprayed earlier, only to realise that Damn Rebel Witches dies and comes back! How’s that for a party trick? And where did the dark orangey flowers come from? They’re not even listed as notes. It’s witchcraft, I tell you.

Library of Fragrance Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Spice is big news this time of year. It’s everywhere from Starbucks to the mouthwash in your dentist (okay, I’m exaggerating slightly) so you may as well as embrace it. Personally, I love a bit of Library of Fragrance Pumpkin Pie and every time I wear it, I get compliments. It’s just spicy and warm enough and not too cloyingly sweet. Don’t just keep it for Halloween! Sadly, the UK arm of Library of Fragrance has closed and will be much missed, but the European branch ships to the Uk for 6E per package.

4160 Tuesdays Mother Nature’s Naughty Daughters

The  name of this fruity, malty and jolly British fragrance  comes from the ingredients.  It is often believed that natural ingredients are best for your skin, but they’re not! (at least not always) Sarah has made these naughty naturals behave themselves via witchcraft and alchemy.  Actually that last bit isn’t true, she made them behave through encyclopaedic knowledge of skin and substance.  And the fragrance? Here’s what I wrote in my review  which you can find here. The website link is here.

“…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”

vintage Halloween card

Possets Perfumes Ghost Fart

Just for the name alone, this was irresistible, and once I smelled it, I thought the name didn’t do this lovely scent justice (though it did reel me in). There’s no authentic manual that states what a Ghost fart must smell like, so the team at Possets had a little fun with this. This is a chocolate minty gourmand in an oil form which is long lasting and smells delicious. If you haven’t come across Possets before, so check them out. They ship worldwide and are a vegan friendly brand. Here’s their website.

Papillon Perfumery Anubis

With hints of Egyptian mystery and ancient rites, this incredible debut from perfumer Liz Moores is both distinctive and resonant.  If you like Shalimar, you’ll also appreciate the oriental spices and resins in Anubis, but I’m going to stick my blogger’s neck out here and say Anubis is better. Controversial, no?  I’m sticking to my guns.  Anubis has a  dark, resiny enigma about it which I find  both  intriguing and alluring.  Papillon has a good sample  service if you want to smell this range for yourself,  or you could pop into Les Senteurs  in London where they are all stocked.

Dior Hypnotic Poison

The name is so perfect for this time of year, but so is the scent. This deep, almost boozy vanilla comes in a bottle that reminds me of Cinderella’s pumpkin coach after midnight. The vanilla in this borders on marzipan, which is fine by me but gives me cravings for Christmas Cake. I know, first world problem! But if your vanilla palate is jaded by cheap imitaions, then do revisit this beautiful treasure of a scent which always reminds me exactly how good vanilla can be, and should be. You can buy it from here, but it’s available in lots of places. I recommend the EDP over the EDT.

Lolita Lempicka

With a bottle like Snow White’s poison apple and a scent that smells like purple velvet, Lolita Lempicka Eau de Parfum is a great Halloween scent, in fact, it’s a great scent for anytime.  Opening with green ivy, violet and liquorice, and a burst of deep cherries, this is rounded off with woody musk and vetiver. Suitably bewitching for a dark night. You can find it here and read my review here.

 LUSH Karma

I love a bit of Karma. It always reminds me of my friend Alison who has made this her signature scent.  It’s oranges, spices and patchouli. One of the main things I like about it, apart from its gentle hippie vibe is that it holds back on the sweetness and lets the bitter orange shine through without adding marmalade  or vanilla. In fact, Alison, just uses the lotion and still smells enchanting and gorgeous, which she is. You can buy Karma from here.

Lancôme Magie Noire

OK, I don’t need a special occasion to wear this deep, mossy chypre. I love how Magie Noire does a dance of the seven veils and unfurls its layers and notes over the hours and hours that it lasts. There’s ivy, hyacinth and roses as it opens, then deep rich florals- all the big ones, then a wonderfully mossy and woody base of vetiver, oakmoss, incense and smoky resins. It’s like a fragrance chameleon, changing faces as the night goes on. Plus check out the divine poster ads! You can read my review here and buy it from here.

Over to you

So that’s my Halloween round up, although I’d wear any of these at any time of the year. What’s your Halloween fragrance? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

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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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Elizabeth Arden Always Red EDT

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Passing by the Elizabeth Arden counter today, I noticed two fragrances that had somehow passed me by: Always Red and Always Red Femme. I asked the sales assistant if she had any samples (well, it’s a worth a try!) and she said, no, they don’t send her samples as it’s a small branch. Huh! So I just had to marinate myself in it there and then so I could review it.

I decided to start with Always Red, since it was released last year and appears to be the original rather than the flanker. I may review Always Red Femme at a later date.

alwaysredAlways Red opens with plum and jasmine sambac. Those two were in straight away before anything else could emerge. Plum seems to be a popular choice lately, especially in wintery scents. Jasmine sambac is getting ubiquitous. However, this is decent enough and on the brisk walk home, my skin warmed it up and helped it bloom. It did a disappearing act for about half an hour before coming back with reinforcements. I could detect more jasmine, more pretty florals (pink freesia, no less) and something gourmandy starting to come out. Before I could name it there were nuts and chocolate nudging the plum out of the way and making this a fruity floral gourmand. The praline makes its presence felt so dominantly in the base that I wonder that it didn’t come through in the top notes and bash everyone else out of the way.

Always Red is nothing particularly new: many Fragrantica users are marvelling at how similar this is to Armani Si and they certainly have similar notes in common. However where Si used blackcurrant, Always Red uses plum. The rest is pretty similar.

I have a soft spot for Elizabeth Arden and I still feel that the Green Tea range and its flankers are peerless in their price category. Whilst Always Red is not on my wish list, it has mass appeal and is considerably cheaper than Armani Si. I found it quite Christmassy with all that praline and plum, so it might well be a good bet for  a Christmas party.

Stockists

Elizabeth Arden Always Red is available from House of Fraser and Amazon UK , among others. Prices start at around £17 for 30ml.

 

 

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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.

 

 

Jimmy Choo Blossom

blossom

 

A while back I reviewed Loewe Quizas Quizas Quizas and labelled my review “Death By Red Berries”.  Lately however, I have learned not to discount an ingredient due to previous disappointment, so I gave Jimmy Choo Blossom a fair hearing (or sniffing to be exact).

Sadly, it did indeed open with red berries and very little else to my nose.  It reminded me of the kind of bubble bath bubbles my two sons, aged five and eight have a penchant for.  Imagine if there were a very inexpensive bubble bath called “Cherry Bubble Gum Strawberry” or some such. You now have in your head my precise interpretation of the sickly, fruity, vinyl opening notes of Jimmy Choo Blossom.  But! (and there’s a big but!)  Hold the front page!  I have more to say.

I wore this today when I took my sons to the park.  I could feel the sun’s rays on my arm making my skin hot and I decided to have a sniff of the Jimmy Choo Blossom I had applied an hour or so before coming out.  It was starting to change.  It was still synthetic, but the berries were dying down and something interesting was happening that I couldn’t put my finger on.  A few hours later we were back at home and I sniffed again.  The basenotes are lovely.  A combo of sandalwood and musk makes for a very feminine and less bubblegum finishing touch that I would happily wear and buy.  The red berries are like a trace of faint soap from the morning, but the sandalwood and musk are much more palatable.

After a three hour wait for something nice, this is a bit like having to sit through a pantomime to get to the Chekhov, so I won’t be buying a ticket to this romp anytime soon.

Stockists

This is sold widely: You can try Amazon UK, Boots, John Lewis or Sephora.com.  Prices are around £32 for 40ml. My sample is from the wonderful Perfume Society Beautiful Blossoms Discovery Box, which is all about the flowers.

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!