Tag Archives: Jasmine Sambac

Five Decades of #Scent Memories: National Fragrance Day 2017

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Dear reader, I am now in my fifth decade and due to toast the start of my sixth in 2020 when I turn 50.

To me, scent is like a Tardis. It takes you back in time so fast that you can be stepping out the Tardis door into 1976 after one whiff of Panache.  More instantly evocative than a photograph or a song,  a fragrance can whisk you back to the scent of the primary school teacher whose name you forget, but whose perfume you can recall as if a switch has been flicked in your head.

Please join me on my mini odyssey through the smell of the 70s, 80s, 90s, Noughties and Twenteens and do share your #scentmemories below.

The Smell of the 1970s.

1970s

I was born in 1970. The first ten years of my life can be summed up, at least in the olfactory sense, as a combination of cigarette smoke (not mine), the smell of a roast cooking, mud, ferns, bluebells, Woogiraffedleigh Green Apple Shampoo, Avon Pretty Peach and Avon Occur, in a giraffe shaped bottle, no less. Quite how giraffes and perfume go together, I never thought to question, but he literally had some brass neck.

My teachers wore Cacharel Anais Anais, which hasn’t changed to this day, as long as you sidestep the “Delice” version. I can’t remember what scent my mother wore, but she always smelled nice.  My grandmother wore Coty L’Aimant, which I didn’t recognise then, but which moves me to gusty sighs of melancholy  now she isn’t here.

BeFunky Collage70s home

The Smell of the 1980s.

Formative years mean a thirst to both stand out and blend in at the same time. I was groping for an identity and slowly moving into and out of adolescence. It was 1981 before I gradually weaned myself off

sindyplaying with Sindy dolls. I can still vividly recall the smell of the vinyl heads and strange nylon hair, inevitably knotted to all hell within a week of ownership.

My first ever scent that I paid for myself was a splash bottle of Bluebell perfume from Boots No 7. Long since discontinued, I have sought that bluebell scent ever since.  My mother bought me a bottle of Jontue from a trip she went on, and one Christmas I had a bottle of Cachet.  I wore this A LOT.  I also remember Avon Eau Givreé: a beautiful green hesperide that has long since been discontinued.

My teens saw me receive my first ever bottle of proper fragrance from my father for my 18th birthday. It was Estee Lauder Beautiful and I still love it now. 1988 saw me leave home at go to Exeter Uni, where the most memorable scents were Marlboro cigarettes, red wine and lashings of Cacharel LouLou.

1980s collage

Meanwhile, over in Denver Colorado, Alexis Carrington was cracking the whip.  Excess, big shoulder pads, big hair and big smells were all the rage.  On the High Street, there was the unmistakable cloud of Giorgio Beverly Hills and a miasma of Dior Poison mingled with Body Shop White Musk and Dewberry. The Nightclubs smelled of Calvin Klein Obsession, and my one little egg shaped bottle took me into the 1990s.

The Smell of the 1990s

The caring, sharing Nineties sobered everyone up and made us wear ozonic scents in an urge to cleanse ourselves of the Eighties excesses. All my friends smelled of Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey, which is no bad thing. I had discovered Chanel Cristalle, also a light scent that was the opposite side of the spectrum to Poison, Obsession and Giorgio. The 1990s saw me graduate and move to London, which smelled very different to Devon.  London air is thicker, dirtier and there were more cigarettes smoked and more traffic fumes, but reader, to me it was the smell of freedom and wonder and possibility.

collage 1990s

1992 saw the launch of the iconic Thierry Mugler Angel. I remember smelling it for the first time in Harrods Perfume Hall and thinking “but why would I want to smell like chocolate?” I appreciate it now of course, for the multi-faceted classic it is, but back then it was revolutionary among the ozonic and airy fairy Nineties scents. Meanwhile, in 1997, Gucci launched the now much-mourned Gucci Envy.  So good was this floral green scent with a vein of metal running through it, that I dumped Cristalle and remained almost exclusive to Gucci Envy until it was cruelly taken from us in 2007.

The Smell of The Noughties

The Noughties saw a revolution in celebrity fragrance.  Elizabeth Taylor had been churning them out since 1991, but they were largely seen as fan fodder until 2002 when Jennifer Lopez launched the brilliant Glow. It was a clean, white fragrance that pleased the crowds and began a snowball of celebrity fragrances taking off.  Britney Spears got in on it, as did many of her contemporaries and soon the perfumeries were chock full of celeb scents. Sarah Jessica Parker brought new possibilities with SJP Lovely and some of the snobbery dissipated when we realised that celebrity stuff can be pretty darn good. (I’m still a celeb scent geek)

noughties collage

The noughties also mark the only two years of my adult life where I have been without any fragrance and that’s because I had my sons during that decade.  Their first scent memory is of my skin.  No deodorant, no perfume, just me.  It wasn’t easy getting those babies, but it was worth it.

The Smell of the Twenteens

Now things really start to spice up. I started my blog on January 2nd 2013. It was a combination of an urge to write and a channel for my reawakened perfume passion. This was brought about by a lean period, during which Chanel was very much out of reach.  As a result, I developed a bit of a cheap and cheerful habit as my receipts from allbeauty.com will attest.  From that, and the three huge boxes of samples that dear Lisa Jones let me borrow, the floodgates opened.

twenteens

The biggest scent launch of the Twenteens has to be the seminal Lancome La Vie est Belle. The fruity floral explosion of the early ‘teens segued into a river of caramel and praline   Hot on its heels was YSL Black Opium , which dismayed many Opium fans, but brought a  cohort of new fans to the brand.

In recent  times, I’ve been coming across the semi-ubiquitous jasmine sambac note that  seems to be so popular right now.  You can find it in  Paco Rabanne Olympea,  Givenchy Dahlia Divin and Versace Eros. The big launch of 2017 is Mon Guerlain, and whilst it’s not my cup of tea, I do harbour hopes that it will  lead us into a big lavender  trend.

As we point in the direction of 2020, I’m looking forward to the alleged forthcoming trends of milk notes, peony and a renaissance of my favourite genre: green notes.

Interestingly, celebrity fragrance sales are on the wane, but guess what’s on the up?  Niche perfume.  Which is very good news indeedy.

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How about you?

What scents bring back instant memories for you?  It doesn’t matter how random or everyday they are, I always love to hear from you.

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Avon Far Away Infinity

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I recently managed to bag a 10ml purse spray of Avon Far Away Infinity in the last campaign brochure I was given by my lovely, and oft mentioned Avon Lady, Jill.

Avon Far Away is Avon’s best selling fragrance. It’s been around since 1994 and shows no sign of slowing down.  Many flankers have been introduced, but the original remains on the bestseller lists. Far Away Infinity, it has to be said, is not very much like Far Away.  It is, however,  remarkably similar to Paco Rabanne Olympea and several other high street launches of that ilk.

farawayinfinity

Far Away Infinity contains note-du-jour: Jasmine Sambac. Jasmine Sambac is like a cranked up version of jasmine that smells so heady that it almost borders on the orientail in its richness. If it was a colour it would be heavy gold.  Coupled with vanilla, it really packs a punch. There are other notes in Far Away Infinity, but they don’t get much of a look in once the jasmine sambac and the vanilla take over and chuck everyone else out of the party.

That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with this- it’s bang on trend, but don’t expect similarities to Avon Far Away. What you can expect is a  very reasonably priced fragrance that is in a similar vein to Paco Rabanne Olympea and Marc Jacobs Decadence, but don’t say it was me who told me.  It’s strictly between me, you and the internet. Shh!

Stockists

You can buy Far Away Infinity from Avon UK. My purse sprays were a bargain 99p each for 10ml but I think that offer’s gone now, so don’t get excited. A 50ml bottle  of Far Away Infinity Eau de Parfum is currently only £7.

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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.

 

 

Versace Eros Pour Femme

fragrantica

fragrantica

I had a sample of Versace Eros Pour Femme in the most recent Discovery Club Box from the Fragrance Shop.  This might be a good time to confess here that I am shamefully unfamiliar with a lot of Versace scent, having only actually reviewed two or three.  Something about the brand leaves me feeling like I can’t identify with anything they have to offer.  No offence Versace, we’re just from different worlds.  However, I rather liked Eros, but enough to buy a bottle?  We shall see.

The Fragrance Shop
The Fragrance Shop

Versace Eros Pour Femme opens with citrus and pomegranate,  both of which were very much present and correct.  The opening is sharp and refreshing,  and the pomegranate provides a little juiciness.  Then straight away, we’re heading into Jasmine Sambac territory.  Now Jasmine Sambac seems to be this year’s caramel.  Last year caramel and praline notes seemed to be everywhere, and this year I have noticed Jasmine Sambac, (sometimes called Arabian Jasmine) has been providing lots of rich white floral notes to  lots of mainstream new releases.

versace eros

Jasmine Sambac is that white flower note with a seam of not-quite-spice going through it- an almost metallic, borderline oriental richness that  screams floral , but not the light petally delicate floral, more the rich gilt chaise for the delicate Laura Ashley cushion.  It seems fitting then that it used here in a Versace scent- so renowned for the dripping luxe that is synonymous with the brand.

The Jasmine Sambac very much dominates and drowns out the initial lightness of the citrus, though if I’m not mistaken there is a faint note of lemon curd if I close my eyes and concentrate.

This is described on the sample card as belonging to the olfactive family of “floral, woody, musk” and I would say that’s a fair description.  The basenotes meld into a  sandalwoody, musky, jasmine miasma.  This is not quite a daytime summer scent, but would be at its best on hot oily skin after a day at the beach.

The bottle and packaging is suitably luxurious as you would expect, but I baulk a little at the high price tag.  I think you can get similar for less, but I’m blowed if I can think of any names right now.  This is a bit like a Marc Jacobs without the lightness maybe?  Or maybe its reminding me of Givenchy Dahlia Divin.

Conclusion:  Yes, I don’t dislike it, but no I wouldn’t buy a bottle

Stockists

Almost ubiquitous, you can buy Versace Eros Pour Femme from Debenhams, Escentual, The Fragrance Shop, Harrods, and Boots to name but a few.  If you’re outside the UK, you could try  all the big department stores and Amazon.com or Sephora.com

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The Candy Perfume Boy, once again, writes a review with which I wholeheartedly agree. I deliberately don’t read the reviews of others until after I have written my own, and I found afterwards that Thomas and I both found this rather lacking.  Sadface.

 

 

 

La Vie est Belle L’Eau de Parfum Legere: Now it’s Just Right

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Forgive my brief absence.  I spent a few days in beautiful West Wales with family (the photograph is of Cenarth Falls, Pembrokeshire). Sadly I did not make it to nearby  Caldey Island, nor did I manage to purchase the world famous Lavender soliflore that the Monks of Caldey make. It’s considered the best Lavender soliflore in the world by none other than Luca Turin himself. There is still time though.  I’ll be going back when there are fewer big waves. Image

I reviewed Lancome’s La Vie est Belle earlier in my blog and found it pretty, but  a little too gourmand for true love.  At the time I remember wishing they’d crank up the flowers and phase out the praline.  Well, it looks like my wish came true.

 La Vie est Belle L’Eau de Parfum Legere is a perfect balance.  You can still smell the Angel influence (as with most modern gourmands) but they have turned up the volume on the Jasmine (Jasmine Sambac to be precise) and really toned down the Caramel and Praline notes that put me off the original.

 I also found the top Blackcurrant note very pleasing and more noticeable this time round.  As much as I dislike red fruit and an over use of berries in scent, I rather like a touch of thirst quenching Blackcurrant if it’s done without too much sweetness.

 I did hesitate before reviewing this since I have already covered La Vie est Belle, but I found this different enough to merit its own review.  The drawback is that you will still smell like other people. It’s very mainstream.  Imagine if you diluted Angel by 90%, added some fresh, sharp blackcurrants and filled the gaps with radiant Jasmine. You’d pretty much have this at the end.  I found this far more wearable than the original, and wouldn’t turn down a bottle, but I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to purchase it. A good scent though: very pretty.