Tag Archives: Luca Turin

Guerlain Insolence: Where Have You Been All My Life?

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Sometimes when I’m  exploring new fragrances to blog about, something comes along that makes me wonder why on earth I have taken so long to get round to it.  Guerlain Insolence is one example- why haven’t I tried it before?

This gorgeous violetty dream was created in 2006 by Maurice Roucel  and Sylvaine Delacourte, both solidly experienced Guerlain Noses.  It could be said that this was Guerlain’s answer to the thirst for  fruity florals, but using Violet and Iris as the florals and including Bergamot and Lemon as the fruit, they have created a masterpiece that ticks the fruity floral boxes yet remains unique in the field.

Yes there are strawberries and red berries , but somehow the restrained use just serves to make the Violets smell sweeter, but not sickly:  like sugar free Parma Violets.  Then the Iris comes in and stops the Violet getting overly sweet, framing it in that very slightly rooty, dry sort of way that Iris has. There is a gorgeous soapiness that I happen to love in a fragrance:  here it smells like high-end soap from a luxury hotel, thrice milled and pure white.

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Resonance and longevity are not just good, but could go nuclear with overspraying, in an Angel sort of way.  With Insolence, two sprays will last till lunch, eight would bring down an elephant.

I adore this violet perfume that has such a thick soapy background and yet remains pretty and complex at the same time.  I have a wish list of Guerlain fragrance and it goes like this:  Chamade, Vol de Nuit, Shalimar and now, Insolence. Maybe I will print this off and send it up the chimney for Santa or Mary Poppins.

 

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Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose and Gardenia

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I first tried Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose and Gardenia (Phew!, can we call it ELPCTG instead?) about a year ago when I wasn’t close friends with Tuberose. I found it too creamy and cloying and dismissed it as Not My Thing.

However, the last year of blogging and discovery has been an education for me and now that I appreciate both Tuberose and Gardenia, I regard this fragrance as something of a modern masterpiece.

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mgonline.com

It sounds simple enough: just those two leading stars named in the title, but this is so much more than a double act.

First off, Jasmine plays a part in the immediate radiance, but Lilac opens with a solo.  There is a dawn-like morning petal feeling to the bright opening and it’s only after that little showcase that the Tuberose and Gardenia step in and do their number. The genius of this is in the blending.  Gardenia never seems to hang about long, but the Tuberose seems to anchor it.  Tuberose on its own can be creamy and rich, almost to the point of smelling medicinal, but the Gardenia brings out the best in it and calms it down, like a kind friend with a loud drunk.

This not only has big sillage, but is radiant from the first squoosh. Longevity is excellent. It’s still on my arm six hours later and quite comfortably too, in no danger of fading fast. In Perfumes The Guide, Luca Turin, a big fan of ELPCTG, says that both Gardenia and Tuberose are “better sprayed on fabric” and judging by the incredibly lovely scent coming from my coat sleeve, he is right. It’s great on skin, but lasts and lingers on fabric like a dream.

This is a modern classic.  It’s widely available: I found today’s bottle in my local House of Fraser, but as far as High Street perfumes go, this knocks spots off the rest of them. The price is a little steeper than average, but considering the sillage, quality, longevity and the fact that a little goes a very long way, I still call it good value at under £60 for 30ml.  Even a small bottle would last me a very long time. Impossibly pretty, this would make a great wedding day perfume or even an anniversary present*.

*(if you’re reading this darling, it’s only three weeks away, hint, hint).

Ralph Lauren Romance: Perfectly Good and Proper

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Wearing Ralph Lauren Romance makes me feel that whilst working the casual vibe, my jeans should be pressed, my T shirt should be white and it’s OK to add pearls.  It’s clean and bright and floral and pretty. It’s wholesome and harmless and you can wear it to meet the in laws for the first time.

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Out of all the bestsellers I have been reviewing lately, I think this one is the one I would be most likely to buy and wear (not counting Chanel No 5 Eau Premiere, which I would own by the gallon if I could).  Some may argue that being the owner of the much cheaper Next Just Pink amounts to the same thing as a bottle of Romance, and there are indeed similarities, but I wouldn’t say no to owning both.

Ralph Lauren Romance opens with  all things nice.  The prettiest of the flowers in the garden are all present and correct especially the delightful Freesia and her friend Rose. This is SO floral and clean smelling at the same time that it reminded me of Estee Lauder Pleasures, another scent I would never turn down. There is a citrus note and the faintest hint of Ginger in the top notes, just enough to anchor down the flowers and stop them  flying away.

The middle notes bring out a little of my old favourite Violet, but sniff once and it’s gone. The flowers in the middle are a little spicier: Carnation and Lily prepare us for the Musky, prickly base.

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The basenotes very much remind me of the exquisite Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely, a bottle that will always be on my dressing table.  Both Lovely and Romance start with flowers, all feminine and pretty, before bedding into a base of Woody Musks and Patchouli.  In fact, this also reminds me of Lanvin Rumeur by St Francis of Kurkdjian, beloved by me but dismissed waspishly by Luca Turin. Both have a base that is so Patchouli and Woody that it almost, but not quite, scratches your nose, and I mean that in a good way. Bring it on.

Overall, Romance has been knocking around since 1998, and is still a steady seller.  Flankers are almost too numerous to name. Shame really, as I always feel that if a good scent has too many flankers, people forget why the original was so good in the first place, so busy are we dodging the “Fraiche” or the “Summer” or the “Night” versions of all the pretty things on the counter.

Romance is reasonably priced at around 25GBP for 30ml. The only hard part is making sure you buy the original and not one of the eight flankers.

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.

Rochas Tocade: Like Seeing An Old Friend

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 I wore Rochas Tocade back in my twenties and cannot remember now why I only bought one bottle, since I am very fond of it.  I have been wearing a sample today and have been enveloped in a warm, comforting aura.

Rochas Tocade is a cosy, daytime perfume full of vanilla, but it nicely sidesteps being a gourmand with its roses and amber taking the foodie edge off it.  Whilst being warm, I wouldn’t call it spicy.  Whilst being rich, I wouldn’t call it an evening scent, though it would work well as one.

We can deconstruct Tocade and it’s beautiful playful bottle, but it’s one of those perfumes that is so memorable that when you know it and smell it you just say “Oh Tocade!” rather than “Oh an interesting vanilla/rose daytime perfume”

The following notes are in it:  rose, sandalwood, magnolia, lily of the valley, freesia, iris and jasmine.  However, this never seems to be a floral on me.  The flowers just provide a backdrop in the distance. This is vanilla all the way, with an undercurrent of amber  and silky aromatic sandalwood as it settles on your skin.

Longevity is great: about nine hours.  The price is excellent too. Less than 40GBP for 100ml.  I don’t normally like too much vanilla, but for this I make an exception.  Even Luca Turin likes it.  Rochas Tocade is a modern, quietly classic marvel.

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Estee Lauder Modern Muse: A New Launch I Love

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It’s finally happened. A new fragrance has been launched that I love. There wasn’t even a free tote bag to bribe me with. My sample was free from the lovely lady at my local Estee Lauder concession. No obligation to write a nice review, but I will because I love it. (I may have accidentally agreed to a makeover in order to get the sample, however).

I do apologise if I have been sounding like a grumpy old lady when it comes to new launches of late. Muttering away about everything smelling the same and too much vanilla, and too much fruit, and then finally…a miracle! Estee Lauder Modern Muse has only a touch of citrus orange to its name. No red berries. No candy floss, no discernible vanilla, and no overloaded sugary Baby Angel finish.

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fragrantica.com

For every person that thinks new launches are either a Britney or an Angel homage (i.e me), there are equally those who think many new launches are copies of the much revered Narciso Rodriguez For Her. Modern Muse could be accused of such. Indeed, there are many Fragrantica users who vote that it smells like NR for Her.

However, as much as I love fragrances in the style of NR for Her (SJP Lovely is a permafixture on my dressing table), I feel it would be unfair to simply label Modern Muse as a smellalike. It is in fact, only the base notes which hold any similarity to NR for Her.

Modern Muse opens with clean Petals, Jasmine (in spades) and Tuberose. It is a bouquet of a smell, prevented from being too cloying with a spritz of orange in there somewhere. The middle notes retain the Jasmine and Tuberose, but are now turning woodier as the Patchouli starts to gradually make its present felt.

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The basenotes are a wonderful mix of Patchouli, Wood, Musk and Tuberose. It’s at this point that I feel it must be said that whilst the Musky Patchouli base has much in common with NR for Her, the flowers make Modern Muse, dare I say it, a cut above.

Impossibly feminine, with good longevity and arms’ length sillage, this is a great buy and an important launch.

Estee Lauder still remains, in my eyes, the best quality fragrance you can buy on the High Street. Among all the ubiquitous brands and newbies and celebuscents, Estee Lauder can still provide accessible classics such as Cinnabar, Youth Dew, Private Collection , Alliage, White Linen and Pleasures.  Modern Muse can stand alongside the EL greats without a blush.

 

Miller Harris Citron Citron: A Citrus With Staying Power

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 The problem with most citrus scents is that they start all zingy and end up a bit sour and depleted, like a dried up orange. Take Guerlain Pamplelune for instance. Regarded by many as a citrus masterpiece, but many reviewers report a gone off note or a BO note in the drydown.

Miller Harris Citron Citron stays citrussy to the very end. It was Lyn Harris’s first ever offering, and whilst I love it, Luca Turin does not, preferring the more recent Fleurs de Sel which I reviewed earlier in my blog.

My first thought on trying Citron Citron was that it was almost exactly the same as Biotherm Eau Vitaminee, which to my nose, is a Tropicana Orange Juice soliflore. However, Citron Citron, whilst staying true to its orange openings, dries down into a pretty and  light citrus, as delicate as a shower of petals.

Once the thirst quenching orange, lime and lemon zest has calmed down a little, in its place sits Basil and a lighter touch of Mint. This smelled floral to me, with a light prettiness that I could have sworn came from petals and Peony. Apparently not, although woody Oakmoss and Cedar are listed.  Personally, I didn’t find that this went Woody or Mossy in the drydwon as other citrus scents do: I’m thinking of Cristalle with its  beautiful Woody drydown, and O de Lancome with its mossy basenotes.

 Citron Citron stays light and pretty and harmless. It would make an ideal office perfume since its lightness is its strength. Our friend Luca Turin states his opinion in Perfumes The Guide:” (An) antiseptic-smelling citrus that lazy teenagers can spray around the kitchen to convince Mon and Dad they’ve done their chores”.

But I disagree. This is light, pretty and clean smelling and stays true to its opening.  As citruses go, this is nicer than Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca (not so Mint heavy) and Guerlain Pamplelune (No dried up Grapefruit rind at the end).

This may well be a full bottle worth saving for, although prices are fair at £65 for 50ml, and lasting power makes this good value.

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Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights: Papyrus and Patchouli and Other Non Sequitirs

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 I was dead against trying this, having read Luca Turin’s review of “Fancy”, (he labels it apple pie) and believing it to be in the same vein. It very much is not. What persuaded me to buy’n’try Fancy Nights was an amusing and charming review by Katrina of Australian Perfume Junkies who described an evening wearing this scent. On asking her husband what he thought of her fragrance, he mistakenly thought the smell was the taxi they were in. A celeb scent that smells like a new taxi? I’m there! Where do I sign up?

Some further praise from Katrina led me to believe this could be another celebuscent surprise, much in the vein of Hilary Duff With Love: a wonderfully maverick non fruity floral, that frankly, has balls.

The second thing that made me buy this was the ridiculously cheap price of£14.95 on Amazon.co.uk.

Today my bottle of Fancy Nights arrived. With it’s dark green glass and faux gilt lid, it’s Arabian Nights Vegas Style. The smell is great. Not a blueberry in sight. Not so much as a whiff of candy floss. This is grown up and not all that commercial, and thank Goodness for that! (We have Steve Demercado, the creator, to thank for this refreshing restraint).

The top note is Papyrus, possibly where the “new cab” smell comes from. I have never come across Papyrus in a scent before and I can tell you that there is a definite “new office” or “modern bookshop” whiff about it. For someone who loves the smell of fresh paint and new carpet, this was somewhat of a kinky find.

The drydown kicks in with milky Patchouli and Sandalwood, leaving a dusty and milky spice trail. I didn’t quite get the Jasmine and Rose notes that this supposedly has, but the hint of Bergamot was there, and rather nice in among the Amber and Sandalwood.

All in all, this is new books, a bit of patchouli and a kind of milky, quiet spice.

The blonde, ditsy, sexy starlet did well. I am reminded of a quote from Dolly Parton: “I don’t mind when people call me a dumb blonde, because I know I know I’m not dumb, and I also know I’m not blonde”

Fancy Nights joins With Love in my Inexpensive Celebrity Scent “Hidden Gem” Hall of Fame.

PS If you like Prada Amber, then this is exceedingly similar, but you didn’t hear that from me.  I wasn’t here, OK?

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Giorgio Beverley Hills: The Alexis Carrington of 80s Fragrance.

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Alexis Carrington, despite her deadly wiles, was actually  quite the femme at heart. She may have had the biggest balls in Colorado but she could still pull off a maribou peignoir and a dry Martini. She was unapologetically glamorous, and an icon of 1980s excesses.

Which brings us to Giorgio Beverly Hills. Created in 1981, this had a kind of “damn you to Imagehell” sillage that would floor anyone in its wake. I can’t help chuckling at Luca Turin’s spot on description , “ a cute,twelve-foot-tall-singing-canary. At first impossible to ignore, and at length, too big to love“.

It must have been great PR for the brand when Giorgio was banned from several restaurants in LA. After all, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. And the sillage?  If this were a noise, it would be on a par with being in the front row of an Aerosmith concert.

So what is this twelve foot canary like? To me, it smells one dimensional. It’s almost like a very loud air freshener, packed with faker than fake Jasmine, Peaches and Tuberose. Like its Los Angeles origins, this doesn’t even try for a dose of reality. It is shameless in its fakery, making synthetic a proud trademark, rather than something to hide.

Back in 1990, I often had a lift home from a female colleague. She wore Giorgio every day, spraying it in the morning and again at lunchtime. By the time I got in her Giorgio capsule, sorry, car, at 5.30pm, it was like a futuristic torture chamber made of scent. High pitched, synthetic and for some reason, smelling as alarmingly yellow as it looked, this smelled loud, long and cheap. There was a kind of hollowness to it, as if there were no base to anchor it, just a high pitched screech of a scent.

I can’t tell you what the drydown smelled like since it never seemed to drydown. It smelled linear to me. Five hours later, it would smell the same as of it had just been applied.

Having said that, I find it hard to dislike Giorgio and have a sneaking affection for it, in the same way that I loved Prince, Duran Duran, Dallas and Dynasty. I’ve seen it going cheap in discount shops lately, and it made me feel sad for it, like its best years were behind it, and its facelift was starting to sag.  But in it’s heyday, Wow, knock ’em dead Giorgio. There she goes.

Serge Lutens Louve: The She Wolf Who Ate My Chocolates

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 Serge Lutens has a solid fan base. The company is known for high quality niche fragrance, veering away from the norm, and using the best Noses in the world. There are several Serge Lutens scents that I love: Sarrasins, A la Nuit and Borneo 1834, and several that baffle me. Louve falls into the second category.

 With an unmistakable opening blast of Cherries, followed by Chocolate, and settling down into Marzipan, Louve, in my humble opinion, should be renamed Eau de Boxing Day. For those not familiar Imagewith the UK vernacular, ( and I am always overjoyed when my dashboard tells me you are tuning in from all over the world!), Boxing Day is the day after Christmas.

Traditionally it is a day when you lounge around like sated lions, watching a James Bond film on terrestrial TV, whilst eating leftover Turkey sandwiches and all the chocolates that have been leftover from the orgiastic food frenzy of Christmas Day.

A particular favourite chocolate of mine is fully represented by Louve. They are delicious Cherry Brandy chocolates. The cherries are Maraschino, that is, marinated in almond liqueur, filled with brandy, coated in sugar and dipped in chocolate. They are a mouthful of Christmassy Heaven. They also taste exactly how Louve smells. Delicious, but why would I want to smell like this?

Maybe my problem with gourmands is that I spend so much time cooking and baking (Just this evening for tomorrow’s PTA fete in fact) that gourmands to me, are like a busman’s holiday. They give me the feeling that I am still wearing an apron.

In Perfumes The A-Z Guide, Luca Turin says of Louve: “neither very good, nor very bad, but completely baffling”. I concur. Still, if halfway through the year you randomly yearn for that bloated, lazy Boxing Day feeling, I know just the perfume for you!

It brings to mind the saying “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”.