Avon has a knack of launching scents that are bang on trend and have the “IT”-notes of the moment. You could accuse them of bringing out too many and spreading them too thin, but perfume moves fast. What’s very NOW could be SO last month before you can use up a whole bottle. Some come and go, and some remain Avon classics. Only sales figures will tell.
Today I am reviewing one of the Little Black Dress flankers: in this case, Little Lace Dress. I bought a purse spray (can I just say yet again how much I love a purse spray?) for just 1.99 and a jolly good buy it was too.
Little Lace Dress opens with a burst of orange citrus and note-du-jour blackcurrant. Then the middle phase goes straight into big, creamy jasmine. It’s so rich you couldn’t eat a whole one. The patchouli flounces in and works its throaty magic, giving this an edge over a standard floral.
Little Lace Dress smells very similar to many best sellers that are currently flying off the shelves on the High Street. Over on Fragrantica, readers are comparing it to Coco Mademoiselle, Chanel Chance Eau Tendre and Estee Lauder Modern Muse. I’m on the fence a little bit here. This has a floral sweetness that is cranked up a few more notches than Modern Muse, and doesn’t smell exactly like Coco Mademoiselle, but certainly has the big jasmine and patchouli, giving it an instantly recognisable 2017 accord.. This would suit the young palate that thirsts for the big names but may not have the banknotes to capture one.
This month’s Avon brochure has about twelve purse sprays, each at 1.99, so expect more reviews in this vein. Purse sprays just thrill me to bits. It’s the hit of a new perfume, without the guilt of a big price tag. I would definitely recommend Little Lace Dress as a go to scent for not much money. It’s modern, on trend and ticks all the boxes except for the one marked “expensive”
You can buy Avon Little Lace Dress from Avon UK ( at the time of going to press, you can buy two bottles of selected Avon fragrance for just £14) or from your Avon rep, like I do. I bought this myself and views are my own. Follow
Now that my blog is four, I thought I’d better do some housekeeping. One of my most popular articles is “Perfume for Paupers”, written two years ago. It was my guide to how you can smell good without blowing the budget. It was written from the heart (and from past experience ), since I believe that you don’t have to be rich to smell good.
However, as you know, the industry changes faces like a kaleidoscope in even a short space of time. For example, many celeb scents that I reviewed then, have been discontinued, and many new affordable options have appeared on the market in just two years. However, much of what I wrote in my earlier article still stands: shop around, be selective, use eBay, look past the label. I reckon it’s time for an update. Here’s my guide on how to smell good without feeling bad.
Leave your snobbery at the door
I used to be in an exclusive long term relationship with Chanel Cristalle and would only rarely have flings with other scent on the side. During a frugal period in my life, I decided to shop around, and my love affair with scent truly blossomed. I hold allbeauty.com and Home Bargains responsible for this. I bought the cheapest scent I could afford and ended up finding some firm favourites. High price tags do not always mean high quality., and vice versa. Don’t overlook celebrity fragrances either. They are all made by professional Noses and are usually cheaper than other brands. Some of my favourite celeb scents are under £10.
Ok, I’m starting to sound obsessed with Avon now, but when you an find a decent perfume for under seven quid, well, then it’s very hard to stay away. In fact my SOTD is Avon Rare Platinum and those tuberose wafts are very pleasing to my nose today. Avon Perceive Oasis was my summer scent more than any other in 2016. I even bought a back up bottle.I give Avon a further thumbs up for selling purse sprays at just £3 and for currently selling Scent Essence Lime Verbena for just £2.50 for 30ml. All prices correct at time of posting.
I have bought a lot of perfume from eBay and have never been let down. EBay is pretty strict on counterfeit and it’s not worth most people’s trouble to try and sell the odd fake. Having said that, there’s no guarantee it’ll never happen to you, but in seven years I’ve not been conned. EBay is also great for perfume samples which helps avoid costly blind buys. I’ve also scored some blinders from a local car boot sale. Never underestimate how much somebody else can dislike a perfectly good bottle of perfume and be desperate to get rid of it. That, my friends, is when you circle and swoop.
Success stories: 100ml of Cabotine for £3.99 on eBay, bottle of LouLou and assorted samples for £7 on eBay, bottle of half used 100ml of Rive Gauche for £4 at car boot sale. Full 50ml bottle of Chanel Coco EDP for £26 on eBay.
Some of my favourite cheap and cheerfuls are the kind of scent young folk today might label as “Nan perfume”. I prefer the term “classic. ” Nobody will put me off Coty L’Aimant or Chique and I could buy both bottles with ten quid and still have change for a Daim Bar.
If you’re saving for a bottle of the good stuff and in between bottles,, why not just buy a few samples and use your favourites on high days and holidays? It’s cheaper than a full bottle and you can always smell expensive without having a shelf full of posh bottles and no money in the bank.
You’d be amazed how many of your friends have been given perfume they don’t like and don’t wear. Nobody seems to throw it away though, so get asking. You might find they have one of your favourites and that dusty bottle you can’t get rid of might be just their cup of tea. I dare you to ask four friends if they have a bottle of perfume they don’t really wear. It also works on forums such as Fragrantica, Mumsnet and Fragcomm.
Many men’s fragrances are cheaper than women’s ( though not all). There’s no rule that says you can’t wear his stuff or that he can’t wear yours. Having said that, although I reguarly raid my husband’s scent collection (I chose most of it- ergo it’s mine.) I can’t see my husband borrowing my SJP Lovely to wear for work anytime soon. Shame. Florals can smell good on men.
Here’s what I mean by cheap and cheerful for chaps: Old Spce (cheap as chips) doesn’t smell a million miles away from Yves Saint Laurent Opium. (Thanks for the tip Portia of APJ), and Avon men’s fragrances are truly excellent. I wore Wilderness for Men for the whole of August one year, with a pretty sun dress. I say Pah! to labels. If it smells good wear it.
These mini rollerballs are available from Amazon and eBay. Containing no alcohol, and usually in rollerball format, these are an unbeatably cheap way to layer notes or wear the scent alone. The jasmine and the rose single note fragrances are pretty good too. They make good presents and a 10ml rollerball is perfect for even the smallest of handbags.
Thank you so much for all your entries in the Big Four giveaway to celeberate four years of this very blog. I had a great response and can now announce the winers. (Drum roll please)
The winner of Elizabeth Taylor Violet Eyes is @StephanTweets from Twitter. I will Tweet him and let him know. Congratulations Stephan!
The winner of Library of Fragrance Nutmeg Ice Cream is Tania. Congratulations Tania!
The winner of Perfumer’s Club “Valerie” is Jill Edwards. Congratualtions Jill!
And finally, the winner of Perfumer’s Club “Victor”is Steven Tuckwell. Congratualtions Steven!
Can all winners please email me their addresses to firstname.lastname@example.org please.
For those who didn’t win, there will be more giveaways throughout the year so watch this space. Here are the details of stockists where you can buy the above fragrances, and none of them will break the bank!
Elizabeth Taylor Violet Eyes is from Fragrance Direct at only £2.99 for 15ml. Library of Fragrance Nutmeg Ice Cream is available from the Library of Fragrance website for just £15. The Perfumer’s Club selection is available from the World Class website. A long lasting 83ml bottle is just £14 and longevity is a guaranteed six hour minimum. In my opinion, Valerie smells very similar to Black Opium, so if that’s your poison, you’ve found a real gem. Victor is all about the grapefruit and the vetiver and was my secret favourite of the four.
Photos: Envelope photo from www.thepeoplesdesignlab.org.uk Elizabeth Taylor photo from makeupalley.com. Valerie photo from www.World-Class.co.uk and others are my own.
I’ve always been a fan of Yardley and I will correct anyone who says “old lady” in the same sentence. Yardley gave us the beautiful 60s style chypre that is Jade, and my favourite violet scent: Yardley April Violets. In fact, one of the reasons I love Yardley so much is that they do floral soliflores and they are pretty hard to get these days. I am a particular sucker for lily of the valley and reckon it’s about time straight-up, no-messing florals came back into fashion. In my book, they never went out.
Today I am reviewing Yardley English Bluebell. This is an interesting one because I am very familiar with the smell of bluebell and did not find it here, as such. However, this did not prevent me from liking it and this review is going to be a bit of a fan letter.
English Bluebell opens with peony and bergamot: two lighter than air notes that will perk you up like a spring morning. Peony is the pretty girl who always wear floaty pink tulle and it is used beautifully here. This is feminine right down to its pink ballet slippers. Whilst actual bluebell is absent, its close relative Hyacinth amkes its presence felt (I’m trying to get Hyacinth Bouquet into a sentence. Patricia Routledge fans will understand). The hyacinth is present and correct and gives an almost herbal/floral nuance. It’s like a girlier, greener version of lavender. I discerned a hint of lily of the valley, but not as much as I would like. There is allegedly peach in here somewhere, but peach dodgers will be relieved to hear that I could find none.
The base notes include amber, sandalwood, musk and vanilla. Don’t ask me why vanilla’s in there. It must have gone into the wrong meeting by mistake. Vanilla has no place in a pretty spring like floral. There is a soupcon of sandalwood in the base, which isn’t as incongruous as you might think, and the whole thing ends with a flourish of feminine white musk.
This a light and airy crowd pleaser that would pass the commuter test and the office test with flying colours. It would also make a very good scent for a young girl starting out on a perfume journey. It’s not very bluebell-y, but it is a very pretty floral that will offend nobody and delight everyone.
You can buy Yardley London English Bluebell from Boots. It’s not very expensive and comes in a very pretty box. Mine was under ten quid. Opinions are my own.
The week after my seven year old son, Leo, told me he was a King in his school play, a bottle of Library of Fragrance Myrrh landed on my doormat. This dovetailing presented me with an opportunity too good to ignore. Leo said he didn’t mind modelling the bottle for me on the condition that I tell you all that he actually carried gold not myrrh in the play.
So what does it smell like? Well, I’m a big fan of churchy smells so Myrrh is right up my street. Myrrh is an aromatic resin that has in the past been used for embalming and as a medicine. In fact, there is a medicinal frisson to this (albeit homeopathic). It’s a cross between herbs and citrus and then beds down into the scent of incense-infused ancient stone and the infused wood of church pews (medieval for preference). This reminds me of the scent of a thurible in High Anglican Mass (St Michael’s Exeter to be precise).
In fact, I blended this with Library of Fragrance Mahogany and it was an absolute knockout. I’m talking, Hall of Fame brilliance. It reminded me of Comme Des Garcons Avignon, which I adore, but can’t afford. Alone or layered with Mahogany, Myrrh is divinely good (pun intended) and will fill your home with the scent of the first Christmas.
If you move fast, Myrrh is half price until midnight tonight (20th Dec 2016) if you use the code SENSUALMYRRH . Otherwise, try the Library of Fragrance. website. The price is usally £15 for 30ml, which I call jolly good value.
My bottle was sent to me by Library of Fragrance PR, for which, many thanks. Photos are all my own. Thank you to Leo for agreeing to be a Kingly model for me.
I was recently sent two fragrances from Milton Lloyd to see what I thought. What I thought was “Wow” and “Crikey! Major sillage!” so I thought I’d share my opinion with you, my lovely readers. Perfumer’s Choice Chosen By Valerie is from a range of very reasonably priced fragrances made by World Class Perfumes, who also own Milton Lloyd and Taylor of London. I have reviewed four of them before and all were very good with great longevity. The two new ones are Valerie (being reviewed today) and Victor, which is also excellent. All Perfumer’s Choices fragrances are guaranteed to last a minimum of six hours, making these excellent value.
If you are of a delicate disposition, you may need to take a back seat for this one, because it’s LOUD and BIG. At first spray, there are big white flowers, lots of vanilla and a sledgehammer of patchouli. Now if this all sounds too much for first thing is the morning, well, that’s because it probably is. However, for the evening, this is an absolute must. One or two squirts will comfortably see you through until morning. After the big white petals of the top notes subside ( I reckon jasmine and orange blossom are in cahoots), you get a strong whiff of espresso coffee.
This works very well with the vanilla and takes this from a rich floral into an even richer patchouli gourmand. In fact, it reminded very much of YSL Black Opium. The coffee, patchouli and vanilla are all there, just like Black Opium. This is not a dupe, however, but I’m certain that if you like Black Opium, then this will suit you down to the ground. At only £14 for an 83ml bottle of EDP, this is great value, and trust me when In tell you that sillage and longevity goes far above and beyond the call of duty.
You can buy Perfumer’s Choice perfume here from the Milton Lloyd website. With thanks to Milton Lloyd for the bottle of this and Perfumer’s Choice Victor, to be reviewed soon. Opinions are my own.
It’s Halloween and I’m up to my elbows in dismembered jelly fingers for trick or treaters. So what does a perfume lover wear on such a day? Well, if you ask me, there’s one go-to brand that really does have a scent for every occasion and Halloween is no exception. It has to be the wonderful Library of Fragrance Pumpkin Pie.
Now despite the playful image, Library of Fragrance scents are taken very seriously indeed by me. I have yet to come across one that was poor or that didn’t do what it says on the tin (or bottle). My earlier review of Library of Fragrance Play Doh compared it to Dior Hypnotic Poison and I make no apologies for it. Pumpkin Pie is of a similar calibre and after today I won’t just be saving it for Halloween.
Pumpkin Pie opens with clove and cinnamon. I was wearing it today and as my skin warmed it up, I was wondering what it was that I was reminded of. It was a happy childhood memory that I couldn’t place…and then it came to me- Dentyne chewing gum in cinnamon flavour! I apologise if I’m not making this sound attractive. It may have reminded me of this gum, but with the addition of spicy clove and warm, toasty vanilla, this also evokes a kitchen flooded with the aroma of home baking. It has some similarities with Library of Fragrance Gingerbread, and shares the same cosy warmth. The cinnamon and clove join forces with a wonderfully rich vanilla and they all hold hands to give a familiar and comforting pumpkin spice accord. It gets very addictive and you may want to wear it long after Halloween has been and gone.
What I like about Pumpkin Pie is that the vanilla is rich and buttery without being sweet or cheap smelling. This is a proper freshly baked slice of something Nanna just made. The Pumpkin Spice accord is huge in the states, especially pre Thanksgiving time, and it’s catching on over here. I’m glad about this because I love a bit of spice and I love a good cosy scent around this time of year.
When I’m wearing my witches’ hat later and traipsing about in the cold, I can at least be sure that I will smell far less threatening than the very fierce six year old vampire who will be next to me.
The Elizabeth Arden Green Tea range always makes it onto my list of good value favourites. Never overpriced, always prettily packaged and universally pleasing: I’ve yet to find one I don’t like. Today (and a few months ago in Duty Free), I tried Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Nectarine Blossom.
As you may imagine, it opens with nectarines. Now, I used to dodge anything peachy in scent, but I’ve come round and I fully embrace it. After all, you can’t have Lanvin Arpege without peaches, can you? In fact, the notes here are nectarines and nectarine blossom, which makes this peachy with a hint of light florals. Thankfully, we’re not talking sticky peaches, but that light fruit aroma that smells so refreshing and tempting when you inhale the rosy skin of a ripe one. There is of course, a nod to green tea and a spritz of bergamot to keep it zingy. The base is musk, but I didn’t discern any. You might though.
This is a playful, uplifting scent that will be a hit as soon as we have two sunny days in a row (Come on, British Summer- don’t give up!). It passes the office/commuter test by not being sickly or too sweet or too heavy. The only teeny drawback I find with this range is that longevity isn’t brilliant. I’m getting about three hours from this, which takes you to lunchtime and provides another excuse for a top up. At only £15 for 100ml, you can afford to be generous with your re-spritzing. Besides, I like putting perfume on. It’s refreshing and makes me feel good. Top ups are good.
You may have gathered by now that I am a big fan of Mary Greenwell fragrances. I have previously reviewed Plum and the superb Fire, and today I will be reviewing Lemon.
Lemon is chock full of citrus when you first spray it on. Not just the eponymous lemon, but bitter orange and sharp limes too. This is a beautifully fresh, astringent, cologne style opening. Unlike a cologne, however, this lemon has staying power, which is no mean feat. It gets even better though. The middle notes are floral and light. There are spring petals in there: namely lily of the valley, hyacinth and jasmine. The lemon stays true throughout whilst sidestepping any temptation to smell like lemon meringue. Incidentally, if you like lemon meringue scent, try Boucheron Trouble or Marks and Spencer Gabriella, both discontinued but still alive and well on eBay.
This really reminded me of O de Lancome– one of the most perfect summer scents ever, but this has more tart, bitter lemon. What Lemon does so beautifully though, is merge from a zingy citrus into a lemony, green chypre. There’s oakmoss in abundance, a touch of warm amber and a noticeable flourish of woody notes. It lasts around five or six hours and is one of my bargains of the year. It’s classy packaging and quality ingredients belie the £7.50 I paid for my gold 7.5ml purse spray. This is high end , low price chypre chic and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
The Mary Greenwell range is available from The Fragrance Shop in store or online. Prices start at just £7.50 for a purse spray.
Having written over 650 perfume reviews, I have had to learn to harden my heart to the idea of buying every perfume I like. But there is a list headed Perfumes I Cannot Live Without which means that on sniffing them, I turn into an avaricious monster as if a switch has been flicked. Today I added Mary Greenwell’s Fire to that list.
I was actually in The Fragrance Shop buying Mary Greenwell Lemon ( purse spray is only £7.50), but I asked to try Fire and fell hook line and sinker.
Created in 2014 by legendary nose Francois Robert, Fire’s top notes fall somewhere between the opening of Shalimar and Terre D’Hermes. and makes you want to glue your nose to your wrist. It is spicy without being harsh, gentle without being insipid, and it brings out the Verruca Salt in me.
In the middle, the roses, jasmine and tuberose emerge. It segues seamlessly into the woody basenotes which include: olibanum, patchouli, sandalwood, leather, vetiver, teak and cedarwood. The citrus (grapefruit) lightens it without making it flimsy and ensures that this is the kind of scent you can wear all year round.
Fire reminded me of Chanel Coromandel without the Milky Bar. In a blind sniff, I would have been adamant that this was made by Serge Lutens. It has touches of Borneo and Santale Majuscule in it.
You can see then, why I was impressed, but that’s not all. A 50ml bottle is only £19.50. So excuse me if I barge to the front of the queue. This, my friends, is an urgent must buy.
Run, don’t walk, to The Fragrance Shop, or buy it online here. I’ll take ten.
Photos: product photographs from The Fragrance Shop. Verruca Salt photo from en.paperblog.com