Funnily enough, my children and I were halfway through Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox when this arrived in the post. I have been reading this book since the mid-seventies and it kept me company during several commutes in my twenties too. This utopian story in which handsome Mr Fox overcomes adversaries brings both adults and children back to this classic story. Also, it marks the only time in my life when I ended up with a bit of a crush on a charismatic fictional wild animal.
As if she can read my mind, or hear the funny voices when I read in Farmer Boggis’s voice, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz posted me a trio of samples all the way from Boulder Colorado: you know, where Mork and Mindy lived.
So what does Foxy smell like and is it as fantastic as Mr Fox himself? Well, read on.
Foxy instantly smells like a vintage scent. I don’t know how Dawn does this, but usually you have to buy fragrance that’s about 70 years old to get this kind of ambery aged lushness.
The amber smells almost rusty, which seems appropriate when you think of the name of the scent. There are flowers, although they don’t dominate. I detected jasmine and spiky, peppery carnation. There are spicy herbs and a little heat from ginger, and a fun note of apple brandy, made by and drunk by Farmer Bean from the book, who drinks only cider and never eats.
The final flourish has definite notes of oak moss mingling with the amber, to give this an animalic, rustic heat. I am often to be found with my face buried in the flank of a sleeping cat and this warm fuzzy finish certainly reminded me of that. The big star here though, is amber. It’s there at the start, in the middle and at the end. The amber adds a cosy warmth and showcases all the other notes within its embrace.
Foxy is fantastically Foxy. Let it transform you into a twenty first century fox with a retro twist and a crafty twinkle in your eye.
You can buy Foxy from the DSH Perfumes website, which also provides an excellent sample service. My sample was from Dawn herself, for which, my warmest thanks. Opinions are my own.
Flower by Kenzo just hasn’t been on my radar until I opened my Modern Classics Discovery Box from The Perfume Society. You know when something is so familiar that you don’t notice it anymore? Well that must be why I didn’t actually know what Flower by Kenzo smelled like until now. I see it everywhere and yet I pass by. Now I’ve finally taken time to stop and smell the Flower (sorry) What a revelation!
Flower by Kenzo opens with light citrus notes and atouch of herby hawthorn that beds down into soft violet and roses. Now, you might be thinking YSL Paris when you hear violet and roses, but this is more like very expensive luxury thrice milled talc. There is a deliciously clean powdery note that has what can only be called a “fluffiness” about it. It evoked memories of those talcum puffs I used to buy my late grandmothers- you know, a marabou puff in a little round box or tin. Gorgeousness.
The flowers in Flower by Kenzo are present but subdued, as if being inhaled through a diaphanous white veil. The base has a faint spice thanks to the frankincense, but even that’s a mere puff and a wisp. The overriding finish is one of powdery white musk with a hint of violets. This is the ultimate perfect day time scent. In fact, my dear teacher friend Janet (she’ll laugh when she sees this) wears this to work and I can’t think of a nicer way to scent a classroom. This iscomforting, pure, and makes you smell as if you come from a good home with fluffy towels and clean laundry.
Flower by Kenzo is indeed a Modern Classic. It suits all ages and would also make a great first perfume for a young fragrance rookie.
Every quarter, for the small sum of five pounds, I receive a Discovery Box from the Fragrance Shop Discovery Club. Sometimes there are fragrances I’ve already tried and sometimes there are lovely surprises. Either way, I’ve been a member since December 2013 and I always will be.
This month’s box contains six samples, as well as a five-pound voucher off a full bottle of any of your favourites from the box. So far, my clear favourite is Elizabeth Arden White Tea.
Here’s what’s in the box
Elizabeth Arden White Tea
As you know Elizabeth Arden Green Tea has been a classic since it came out in 1999. Green Tea was created by none other than His Majesty Francis Kurkdjian, and it has genius simplicity written all over it. There have been many flankers, and I’ve liked all of them. When I saw White Tea was now A Thing, I worried that they may have “over-flanked” themselves, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Elizabeth Arden White Tea is light, airy and floaty and smells like a pure white room in a dream home. There’s clean white musks and sea notes and light notes of white tea. This is like a spa in a bottle. This will be on my dressing table very soon.
Jimmy Choo L’Eau
This is in a similar vein to DKNY below, but is slightly sweeter and delicately tiptoes onto the very edges of the gourmand spectrum. I wrote about this last month and you can read my review here. It’s pretty and light and floral, and I predict it’ll be a big hit this summer.
DKNY Be Tempted Eau so Blush
DKNY Be Tempted Eau So Blush is a light and feminine scent that has a fruity floral opening and big peony notes in the middle- and peony is going to be big this year. The base is woody and fruity with apricots and musk. This is a perfect daytime scent and ideal for work. It almost demands to be worn with a pretty frock.
Marc Jacobs Decadence
Marc Jacobs Decadence comes in such a fantastic bottle that when I first saw it, I almost didn’t care what it smelled like, I just wanted that bottle. Luckily, it smells pretty good with its saffron and plums and a vetiver and musk base. If you like Marc Jacobs Daisy, don’t buy this blind as they’re very different. Decadence is fabulous for the evening whilst Daisy is lighter and better as a daytime fragrance.
This one certainly lives up to its name. “Wow” was the first word I said when I sniffed it. It opens with sharp lime and aromatic cardoman, and settles as a slightly gourmand, warm vanilla, via peppery geranium and dry grassy vetiver. Despite not having any leathery notes, this reminded me of Dior Fahrenheit, only Joop!Wow! is sharper and with more citrus. I loved it. I sprayed it on me, my husband and my ten-year-old son. Unanimous thumbs up! We all smell great.
I was surprised when I saw this as I thought “Hmm, Invictus is pretty intense anyway, what could they possibly do to make it bigger?”The answer, my friends, is that they turned up the volume and tweaked some knobs until it knocked out every canary within a fifty mile radius. Invictus Intense is similar to the original, but cranked up to the power of ten. The salt notes are very prominent. It’s dry and masculine and not pretty. It reminded me a lot of Paco Rabanne One Million Intense. If this sounds like your cup of tea, please use sparingly. For all our sakes.
The Discovery Club is easy to join with no long term red tape. Just join to get your box and cancel if you want to. But I bet you won’t! I’ve been getting these boxes for four years and the flat box they come in fits through the letterbox so it won’t end up in the Post Office depot if you’re out.
I keep blathering on about how I’m going to do vlogging one day and on a whim I ended up filming the opening of my Perfume Society Modern Classics Discovery Box. You only see my unmanicured hands and hear my voice, but check out my gorgeous cat Ian, who appears to be a big purr-fumista. I’m sorry, I’ll get my coat… I might actually do this again and you might actually see me in it next time. I have two other cats so I may not be alone.
In 2015 I wrote a post entitled “How to Get Perfume Samples”. I felt it was necessary since these days, it’s easier to get unicorn droppings and hens’ teeth than perfume samples from Beauty Counters. My original article has proved very popular, but the Fragrant Firmament spins fast on its axis. My original article, written in 2015, needs updating for 2017.
A lot can happen in two years within the industry. Beloved favourites can be discontinued, new starts ups can arrive with a bang, and old lions can go out with a whimper.
Sample services serve two purposes: They avoid you making costly blind buys and they help you fall in love with stuff you might not have come across. Whilst I love to seek out samples of stuff I’ve heard of and never tried, I also love it when the choice is made for me. It takes me out of my comfort zone. This is one of the reasons why I am such a fan of discovery boxes, and the Perfume Society in particular. Their boxes are loosely themed and have really changed my mind about no end of scents I wouldn’t have otherwise sought out.
The other advantage is one I mentioned pre-Christmas, but which applies at any time of the year. When buying for others, why not offer them a choice? A mixture of samples and gift voucher is my idea of the perfect gift (It’s my birthday next month. I wonder if my husband is reading this?).
Here’s a roundup of sample services that are currently out there just waiting for us to knock on their door. This is a UK Guide by the way, so if I miss your favourite out, it’s just geography, not favouritism.
The Perfume Society.
Yes I’m a fan. No, they don’t pay me to say so and yes I have almost every one of the Discovery Boxes. In fact, I’m just waiting for the Heaven Scent one, due any day! You can buy them here. They usually contain around nine excellent, often hard-to-get samples and maybe a treat or two as well. They are my Number One favourite treat.
A new entry at Number Two. I’m very impressed with the diversity here and find the prices reasonable. I’m rolling my sleeves up and writing a long list. Here’s a link to their website.
There are two branches of this divine boutique perfumery in London, but the good news is that you don’t have to live in London to benefit from their sample service. The bad news is that its very, very hard to choose. Here’s the link.
Nobody can accuse Sarah McCartney of not being inclusive. 4160 Tuesdays means reasonably priced high quality artisan scents that cover every genre except “boring”. The 4160 Tuesdays website even has themed suggestions of sample sets in case you don’t know where to begin. My favourite is “Frocks and Hats.”
The Fragrance Shop Discovery Club.
Every quarter since 2013 I have received a box of samples from The Fragrance Shop. These usually include new releases and new flankers, but often they pop a classic or a well-beloved favourite in. The boxes usually include between 6 to 9 samples and a booklet of money off vouchers if you find one you want in full bottle size. Boxes are just £5 a quarter, and they make great gifts too. You can join in the fun here.
Papillon Perfumery is the creation of Nose Liz Moores, perfumer extraordinaire (I’ve met her- she is small and beautiful) There are four scents in the Papillon range and you can sample of all four from here. There isn’t a single one I wouldn’t recommend, and a fifth scent is on its way later this year.
Another one I’ve not come across before, but I’m very impressed with their range and might be making an order soon. The huge range varies from Tom Ford, Chanel Exclusifs, Tauer and Roja to name but a few. I’ll let you know what I think if I can ever make my mind up! You can check the site out for yourselves here.
Pell Wall Perfumes
In the beautiful county of Shropshire, Chris Bartlett creates exquisite scents under the name of Pell Wall Perfumes. Sample sets and mini bottles are available at reasonable prices and you may well find a lifelong favourite among this imaginative range. I particularly like Pretty in Pink and Deep Purple. Check out the website here.
eBay has a vast range of samples from various sellers. I have never been let down or sold fakes on eBay- they are very strict about that. I have had some great bargains this way and even if you end up not liking the samples you order, they make great swapping currency.
Find Your Tribe
Join a group of like-minded fume heads: Sites such as Fragrantica and Base Notes have led to many firm friendships, as well as samples swapping. Alternatively, join a Facebook group such as Fragcom or Perfumeland For Fluffheads.
Have I missed any out? Have you had great sample service in the UK? Or have you discovered a favourite through random sample sniffage? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
Galop D’Hermès is the much-anticipated latest launch from Hermès. There are two things about it which excite me. Firstly, it is perfume i.e not eau de parfum or eau de toilette, but actual perfume. Secondly, it was made by Christine Nagel, who is nothing less than legendary.
I will begin by saying that if leather is not your thing, then you may wish to sit this one out. Galop D’Hermès is all about the leather. However, it’s not just leather, because that’s been done. Galop D’Hermès is more about a power struggle between a feminine side and a masculine side. As it turns out, neither wins and both are victorious.
In the opening there is leather straight away. Top notes are listed as being quince and saffron. Quince might be an unusual choice, and indeed, it only makes a brief cameo, but somehow it stops the dry, spicy saffron getting too sober. The middle phase heads straight into leather and Turkish rose territory and pretty much stays put. This is what gives Galop it’s USP. The rose and leather are so seamlessly blended that you cannot decide whether the saddle is made of roses or whether the rose has leather petals.
The leather, it must be said, is terrific. It’s unmistakably horsey, as the name would suggest, but it has a softness that comes from the unfinished inside of a belt: the rougher, unpolished side. This isn’t Sloaney Hermes, this is real, battered leather and being of perfume concentration, this is what you leave in your wake and on your pillow the next day.
If you like the sound of this, then you will love Galop D’Hermès.
You can buy Galop D’Hermès from John Lewis. Brace yourself. It’s not cheap. Alternatively, you can do as I did, and buy a Precious Perfumes Discovery Box from The Perfume Society which has a generous perfume strength sample.
I am the proud owner of a Perfume Society Precious Perfumes Discovery Box and jolly pleased I am too! In this beautiful box, which, by the way, would make a perfect gift exactly as it is, you will find the following items:
Nails Inc nail polish in sparkly Electric Avenue
30ml Molton Brown bath and shower gel in Rose Absolute
Sample of Miller Harris new Etui Noir
Sample of Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540
In my book (or on my blog, which this is) I call that excellent value. There are nine decent spray samples that you would be very hard pushed to find at any beauty counter. This all comes in a lovely white box with explanatory postcards and sniffing strips. It makes an excellent gift if you can bear to part with it. I can’t so I’m keeping it. Sorry, not sorry.
I shall be reviewing some of the items within over the next few weeks so watch this space. I have already reviewed Scent of A Dream and was very taken with it. One of the scents that really jumped out at me was Fathom V by new house Beaufort London. I was delighted to see Galop D’Hermes as I have wanting to try it for ages. Oh and the Nails Inc nail polish is like liquid tinsel. Talk about Christmassy! I’m sure you will enjoy this box as much as I am. It’s so good I won’t share. It’s MINE.
Many people see perfume as an indulgence, like a box of chocolates. They don’t feel they can buy it for themselves. I am not like this. I have more trouble NOT buying it for myself, but I digress.
When Christmas and birthdays come around, people often ask me what to buy. Because perfume is so subjective, it’s very hard to pick something for somebody else so this is where I recommend the Selection Box. Yes indeed, a selection box that has no calories and won’t make you gain weight. I like both so I’ll be having a selection of perfume AND a selection of Cadbury nonsense this year.
When buying for others, unless you know their signature scent, it’s a safer bet to buy them a choice. Many companies have a set that contains several samples and a voucher for a full bottle, and this seems like a very good idea to me. Other companies have Discovery Boxes or selections of minis that make equally good gifts. Personally, I love the idea of introducing someone to a scent they love but haven’t met yet. I’m like a fragrance marriage bureau. I live in hope of setting up the perfect match.
I have made a list of what I think make the best “suggestion boxes” as gifts. This applies all year round and not just at Christmas. It’s worth remembering that if you don’t get what you were hoping for, eBay will have the “I hate this” gifts at bargain prices shortly after Christmas.
As an introduction to handmade artisan niche perfumes using top ingredients, you can’t go wrong with 4160 Tuesdays. Taster sets of samples start at just £25. If you want to provide your recipient with a large bottle of their choice, then for £95 you can buy seven samples and have a voucher for a generous 100ml bottle. I can guarantee that it will be beautifully packaged too. No, I’m not on the payroll, but I am a very satisfied customer.
The Perfume Society
The Perfume Society has something for everyone. They have a dangerously tempting selection of Discovery Boxes for starters. OR, you can buy a VIP subscription which gets you a free Discovery Box, discounts off further boxes and invites to many exclusive events, as well as a free online subscription to The Scented Letter magazine. The vast collection of Discovery Boxes makes me twitch with greed. You can buy carefully curated sets such as Beautiful Blossoms or Eaux La La, or you can buy exclusive selections from your favourite brands such as Shay & Blue, Molton Brown or Agonist to name but a few. I’m a big fan.
The Perfume Shop
The Perfume Shop Viva Box continues to be a popular choice but I’ve noticed they’re not publicised much in the branches. For £39.99 you get a selection of mainstream popular sample and a voucher for the full bottle of your choice. You can buy them here.
Boots the Chemist, that bastion of temptation, is also offering a little perfume selection box. In a smart cardboard gift set you will find seven contemporary samples, including recent hits Stella McCartney POP and Moschino Fresh Couture. Seven samples and a voucher for just £40 and nicely gift boxed. You can buy it here.
For The Men In Your Life (or the life in your men)
The Perfume Society has two excellent Discovery Boxes: Scent of A Gent and Scent of A Man. Each one contains a selection of mainstream and new-to-you samples, as well as a couple of manly beauty treats. It all comes in a lovely white Perfume Society box.
Trusty Marks and Spencer also has some quality men’s grooming miniatures. Check out this set of six. Wrap up a box of these and an M &S voucher and Bob’s your fragrant uncle. Speaking of Marks and Sparks…
Marks and Spencer
Marks and Spencer has such a superb perfume department these days that I almost don’t dare to go in. If you added the Marks and Sparks perfume dept and the TK Maxx perfume department together I’d be bankrupt. I’d smell fabulous, but I’d be bankrupt. There’s a lot of choice at very reasonable prices. I don’t know where to start or stop.
Marks is affordably tempting. Check out the Florentyna mini set for just ten quid and the mixed EDT mini set, also for ten quid. Either would make a fabulous stocking filler, if you can manage to get to the till without buying seventeen bottles of something nice for yourself on top. I’m not sure I can make it past Monotheme or Shay & Blue without saying “but do my children really NEED school shoes after all?” That’s if I haven’t already filled the trolley with Fragonard…
Pell Wall Perfumes
In the heart of beautiful Shropshire, perfumer Chris Bartlett pours and macerates to make niche brand Pell Wall perfumes a force to be reckoned with. The set I find most tempting is this little set of 10ml bottles. For £59 you get nine 10 ml bottles of Pell Wall fragrances in small spray bottles. When you think that one bottle of mainstream High Street perfume costs more than this, then I reckon this is excellent value that allows you to vary your scent throughout the seasons and the year ahead. You can buy it here.
Once again, Liz Earle has launched a new perfume, and once again, it’s a class act bursting with botanicals and the best that nature has to offer.
Liz Earle Botanical Essence No 9 is, like her other fragrances, sourced from as many natural ingredients as possible. In the case of Botanical No 9 that would be damask roses, blackcurrants, bergamot limes, patchouli, oakmoss and vanilla.
When you read the list of ingredients like that it doesn’t do this lovely scent justice. Here’s what I got: The blackcurrants come out first and foremost, followed by the rose. The bergamot gives this a wonderful thirst quenching quality that is enormously refreshing and “clean” – like dewdrops or a bracing shower on a sticky day. As these notes blend and evolve, the base notes start to peek through. This is a floral chypre so there’s oakmoss and patchouli, but rather than the heat of the more usual amber for example, here there are more roses and plenty of osmanthus ( aka apricot blossom) to add a delicate sweetness that is never cloying or sugary.
Longevity is excellent and what’s left after around five hours is a dark velvety rose scent with wisps of patchouli and oakmoss around the edges. This is what you’ll smell like at the end of the day and it is GOOD.
Liz Earle Botanical No 9 is available from QVC or from the Liz Earle website. I obtained my sample from the Perfume Society Scents of Style Discovery Box which is available now from their website.
If you didn’t win, remember that you can get your first box free when you sign up to the Fragrance Shop Discovery Club. Boxes cost £5 each, inc P&P and come out quarterly. Each box also contains vouchers for money off full sized bottles of each sample. You can cancel at any time, or even buy a subscription for your friends. Use code SCENTDAY when you check out. Offer expires 31st August 2016.