If you spent hours playing in the garden as a child, you may well stop in your tracks and think that Shay & Blue London Dandelion Fig is like a Tardis, taking you back there. That’s certainly the effect it had on me.
Shay & Blue London make the kind of scents you always wished people would make. Dandelion Fig is one of those. It’s not a fruity floral and despite its fig notes, not really a gourmand, although the scent of it certainly made my mouth water. Dandelion Fig takes every refreshing and earthy note from the garden (and not necessarily a neat garden) and brings them all together in one uplifting, leafy, earthy accord.
Dandelion Fig opens with dandelion and lemongrass. When I was growing up, there was a rumour that picking dandelions would make you wet the bed. As a result, they were often seen, sniffed and never picked, at least not until they became clocks.
The handy thing about dandelions, and one of the reasons why I love this fragrance, is that dandelions provide dock leaves. Dock leaves when crushed can cure the heat of nettle rash when you’re playing out all day and can’t be bothered to go home and get Germolene (another great smell, if you ask me). It’s left me with a lifelong liking for green leafy notes in fragrance.
After the dandelion there is tomato vine and lemongrass. You may recall my review of Library of Fragrance Tomato, which I raved about. It had hints of lemon verbena and that uplifting earthy green scent of the slightly furry vines that hold those juicy plum tomatoes. Well, tomato vine is here again and teamed with juniper. The last word goes to fig, which is eked out into a perfectly sized measure against the other ingredients, enhancing the juiciness and adding a touch of depth. Dark, juicy fig, to my nose, always borders on wrong and stops just short of it.
This is a scent that doesn’t try to please the masses, but ends up pleasing little old me in spades. Muddy garden spades. Dandelion Fig is green, fresh and earthy and out of all the scents in the Perfume Society Latest Launches Box, this and the Annick Goutal stood out from the rest as my absolute favourites. This is a great fig scent for people who are still unsure about fig.
Summer begins the day I leave home without a cardigan. Today is that day. What better scent to review than one that immediately made me long for an infinity pool somewhere hot? As lovely as Pontypridd Lido is, I want more.
Michael Kors Turquoise was an immediate hit with me. It opens with sea notes, which is a rather handy subjective term. I’m pretty sure that many brands have their own definition. In this case, it is a clean unsalted sea note that reminded me of that scent of churning water outdoors- you know, the scent you get when you stand at the top of a water slide in the sun? Yep. That. I could even smell rubber inflatables, but I think that’s memory and association, rather than this actual fragrance.
The lime is astringent and not sweet like cordial. If you don’t normally like cucumber notes, you’ll still like this: it’s in there faintly, but hard to pick out. The water lily adds to the aquatic feel : It’s a clean, subtle flower note. The jasmine comes out somewhere in the middle, but gently, not in a big white flowery way like tuberose can. There’s nothing heady about Turquoise at all.
This claims to bed down into a cedar and amber base, but I can report that after two hours, it smells like a swimming pool with flower petals in to the point where I want to start looking at holiday brochures.
Turquoise is the perfect name for this. It’s David Hockney, water slides and infinity pools. It’s the perfect summer fragrance. I wish it was stronger so that my whole day smells like this. Suddenly, indoors seems a bit stuffy now.
Oh, is it for men or for women? Don’t know, don’t care. It’s gorgeous.
Michael Kors Turquoise is available from House of Fraser where I drenched myself in it more than once. Sorry, not sorry, ladies. You should be used to me by now! You can also buy it from John Lewis.
An explosion of fresh, green, basil and peppery notes bursts from a herbal heart of clary sage with sensuous jasmine; vanilla, amberwood, and oudh bring a cashmere texture to the base.
Oxford (the fragrance) was inspired by those heady student days when you leave home for the first time and everything feels edgy, daring and slightly scary. Its creator, Ruth Mastenbroek, read Chemistry at Oxford in 1970., hence the name. I went to Exeter University, not Oxford ( couldn’t get in!) , but I can recall that butterflies-in-the-tummy excitement in the blink of an eye, and this fragrance encapsulates those halcyon student days.
Oxford opens with Clary Sage, which I often mistake for lavender. Clary Sage is no weakling: it is robust and muscly and borders on the smell of weed or filter-less cigarettes. Cigarette smoke played a huge part in my student memories, and from this scent, I’m guessing it did for Ruth too. That’s not to say this smells unpleasant: far from it- but there’s a brash masculine, herbal feel to it that reminded me of bristly chins and smoky late night adventures.
The clary sage mixes with woods and oudh and to my nose, this has a sort of unfinished roughness, again- no bad thing. It’s that unfinished shape that your student years form you into. You think you’re fully formed but you’re nothing like the finished product that you need to be. Not yet.
When the herbs and woods have settled down, this leaves a beautiful and very long-lasting impression in its wake. The clary sage smells more like lavender now, and there’s a heady herbal thing going on (man). Patchouli stays put like a slightly unwashed squatter. If you want squeaky clean and generic, you’ve come to the wrong place.
Oxford goes from rough and dirty, to clean and earthy, like the morning after, as you walk home to birdsong after a long dark night of excess. It grew and grew on me like a persistent suitor, and has now become my favourite scent from Ruth’s collection. Oxford has changing facets, like a kaledoscope, and that’s just one of the many things I love about it.
Ruth Mastenbroek has been making fragrance and fragrant products for far longer than you may realise. Her signature range only has three fragrances, yet Ruth was the brains behind many of the Bath House products and has worked on scented candles for Jo Malone, as well as being a former President of the British Society of Perfumers.
My dear Avon Lady Jill gave me a little perfume sample when she dropped off a late item yesterday. I’m used to this now- Avon launches wide and often, which is fine by me. However, when Jill said “This one’s called Imari” I stopped in my tracks. “Just a minute,” I thought, “that one’s only available in the USA.”
Dear reader, and fellow Avon fan (probably if you’re reading this) it is true. Imari is coming to the UK.
This has got me very excited because if they can bring Imari to us, then what else can they do? I have always thought that if Avon did a heritage range of old favourites, then the people in my age group, i.e. late forties (but we look younger) would snap them up before you could say Foxfire. Dare I hope for Eau Givree? For Odyssey? For Charisma? My wishes are not impossible dreams. They did after all, bring Timeless back when customer clamour deafened, and jolly good it is too.
But did you know for instance, that the USA Avon brochure has Sweet Honesty, Odyseey, Candid and Night Magic? Dare I hope we’re getting them too over here in the UK?
So what’s Imari like?
Well it opens with citrus for a clean, bright opening. There’s a nice bit of soapy aldehydes in the beginning, before this lurches into rose and patchouli territory, with some big noticeable white flower notes. It’s all rounded off with a bit of musk, incense and amber. Despite calling itself a chypre, this lacks the mossy note that qualifies it as one, but I’m not going to nit-pick, because I want more. There is a touch of vanilla in the finish, but its warm and cosy rather than sweet and cakey.
Avon has a particular talent for channelling into what’s hot on the high street and providing its own, more affordable take on current trends. What delights me about this one is that Avon is looking beyond its younger demographic. After all, they have all the vanilla and fruity florals and praline combos they could ever dream of. What joy then, to get something for me and my tribe of fellow grand dames of a certain age (but look younger). Imari was originally created in 1985, and we know how great all those fragrances were.
Avon Imari will be in the next brochure and you can queue behind me if you like. It won’t be expensive. Avon UK, if you’re reading this, please bring the others over too!
Have you ever smelled a perfume that’s so good it makes you want to write a love song about how much you love it? A scent that shoots you in the heart like cupid? A scent that makes the need to own it feel more powerful than lust?
Welcome to Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium.
A pelargonium is a member of the geranium family and has bright velvety petals as vivid as a flame. This flower is more or less the main star in this fragrance, but the supporting cast makes this unforgettably wonderful.
It opens with clary sage and lime. The herby clary sage note complements the peppery petals of the pelargonium until it gives me a vivid image of an English country garden on a cool damp day. The herby floral accord makes me think of very expensive soap- the kind that makes your bathroom smell like an unaffordable hotel suite. The musk is an almost iris-like musk with its muted, classy subtlety, yet it is unmistakable and lingers on long after the citrus opening has bloomed and faded.
There is allegedly a carrot note in here somewhere, but unless I’m mistaking one root for another, it comes across as more iris like, which as you know, can smell earthy and rooty.
The base is guaiac wood, vetiver and moss, giving enhancement to the earthiness that peeks out in the middle phase. The oakmoss adds a touch of damp greens, which only makes me fall for it harder. I’ve always found geraniums to smell faintly medicinal, and this facet is showcased with touches of elemi, often used in cough syrup and medicines. Don’t let this put you off, there’s no TCP note here, more of a clove/violet thing going on.
This is primarily a floral, but it’s as if each facet of the pelargonium scent has been given a partner to showcase its talents and double its impact. Perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer is a genius and I will be her fan forever.
This is the fragrance I will buy for myself when I get that novel published (and I will).
Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium is available from Selfridges at £210. My novel will have to be a bestseller I guess. My sample was a kind gift from Aspects beauty PR, for which, many thanks. Opinions are my own.
Because I’m nice and because I have more than one, I thought it only fair to run a giveaway for this fabulous fragrance. Missguided Babe Power is a juicy burst of a scent: full of cherries, vanilla and jasmine. You can read my recent review here.
Not only does it smell good, but it comes in a can like an energy drink. Don’t worry though , it’s a spray not a splash. As you can see from the photo it’s a generous 80ml bottle of eau de parfum.
How to win
The name of this scent is pretty divisive. Some like it and some don’t. So here’s the question: if you could invent your own fragrance what would you call it?
Ts and Cs
Please be aware that due to postal regualtions I cannot post fragrance outside the UK, so to avoid disappointment, please only enter if you are UK based. I’m as frustrated as you, but them’s the rules.
Send me your answer by Twitter @iscentyouaday, or Facebook or in the comments below.
The closing date is five days from now so Sunday the 11th June 2017 at midnight. I will announce the winner on Monday 12th June.
Welcome to the second post in the MoodScent4 collaboration! We are four perfume bloggers based France, Holland, England and Wales who will be posting on a different joint subject every couple of months. Each time we will individually pick a selection of five or so fragrances to fit a particular mood or occasion. You’ll find links to the other blogs at the end of the post.
We hope you have fun reading our different choices and adding your own in the comments.
Wherever you are in the world, you’re bound to have noticed that it’s wedding season: unless its currently Monsoon season where you are (i.e Wales), in which case, please read this later in the year when the sun’s out.
With a number of wedding invites thudding on mats (I’ve had three this year), we thought it only fair to help you out with an informal guide to what scent to wear if you are a wedding guest.
As a wedding guest, there are certain protocols one must stick to. For example, there’s the obvious blunder of wearing all white to a wedding, or wearing attention seeking outfits that may attract more looks than the poor bride gets. Also, as a wedding guest, this is no place for racy cleavage and skimpy skirts. If you’ve invited either of the Hadid sisters, you may want to pop a Post It note in their invitation. Call me old fashioned, but I’ve seen a bag of oranges wear more string than they had on at the Met Gala (hoiks bosom and clutches pearls).
Scent wise, the rules still apply, at least in my book. I wouldn’t wear anything loud or experimental that makes everyone look round in church for the wrong reasons. Neither would I always play it safe and stick with airy florals (although they certainly have a place).
Here then, are my own personal mainstays when I am invited to a wedding.
Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps
I wore this to the wedding I attended on Saturday. It’s a beautiful classic floral that will be familiar to many, yet in my opinion, has never been overexposed. It’s gentle, pretty, delicate and warm (dash of amber in the finish). This is one fragrance I will never allow myself to be without. Here’s my review.
4160 Tuesdays Raw Silk and Red Roses
With a name like this, this beautiful scent just cries out to be worn at a wedding, and it suits the occasion perfectly. This is my usual Go To scent for weddings but I couldn’t find it yesterday. Like Virginia Woolf, my box of minis and samples needs a Room of One’s Own. Raw Silk and Red Roses smells so deliciously of old fashioned roses, yet it has depth and facets that lift this away from any other rose scent that I have tried. You can read my review here.
Cartier Baiser Fou
I fell hard for this after not being enamoured of the original Cartier Baiser Volé. Where Baiser Volé was all about the lilies and not in a good way, Baiser Fou is the fun, more playful sister. Smelling like a cross between fresh raspberries, Milky Bars and expensive lipstick, this is perfect for a summer wedding where lipstick ends up on everyone. You can read my review here.
Andy Tauer Noontide Petals
I have yet to find anything that smells similar to this aldehyde beauty. It’s bright with citrussy lime and clean soapy aldehydes, but changes throughout the day. By the time the evening party comes around, you’ll be smelling of tuberose, jasmine, frankincense, patchouli and roses. It has the added bonus of giving you the sure knowledge that nobody else will be wearing it. Unless you are going to a wedding full of perfume peeps. You can read my review here.
Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely
This one gets lots of mentions on my blog and that’s because it’s wonderfully versatile, long-lasting, and as girly as pigtails. I adore Lovely. The florals give way to rich creamy woods and patchouli and the whole shebang lasts all day. I spray mine in my cleavage and the back of my neck and I was still catching delightful wafts at bedtime. It’s not overpowering and I guarantee it will go with your dress. For the price, this remains one of the best value fragrances I know. It’s usually around £20 a bottle and I’m wearing it today.
How about you?
What scent do you wear to weddings? Do you have a favourite or do you choose as you go? Do let us know. We’d love to hear from you.
I am chuffed to beans to have three international colleagues to collaborate with. Find out what Tara, Esperanza and Megan all had to say on the subject of wedding guest perfumes. Between us we cover Wales, England, the Netherlands and France, which makes us the last word on European fragrances. We decided.
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 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.
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.
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.
It’s hot in the UK today and we’re totally unprepared. After wearing three layers to bed and three layers and a coat to do the school run, I found myself struggling to find summer clothes in the sudden mini heatwave that hit us.
Although Wales, where I live, is my favourite place ever, there are certain weather anomalies that one must learn to endure. You can have rain all summer anda singular freak hot day in October, or a nine-month winter and a heatwave nobody’s ready for, which I think is what’s happening now.
A nice cold, ice cold fragrance feels like an essential rather than a luxury today so I thought I’d tell you a few of my Go-To scents on this sticky summer day.
When the weather’s hot, I want eau do cologne. This is not just because the high alcohol content cools down skin on contact but because the classic ingredients of herbs and citrus remain to this day the most refreshing combination you can get. Most of the bottles I reach for have cologne elements in them.
Niobe from Cologne and Cotton
On my dressing table is a large glass bottle of Niobe from Cologne and Cotton. It has the herbs and the citrus and surprisingly in a cologne, even good longevity. I have decanted it into a mini travalo for when out and about and I always get compliments.
Le Jardin Retrouve Citron Boboli: It was a photo finish between Citron Boboli and Verveine d’Ete. Both are perfect for hot weather and the citrus will really put a zing in your step and take away the hot fussies. You can read my review here.
Avon Little Black Dress Eau Fraiche: This one is going down fast. Lighter than the original, but still recognisably its flanker, this pale green bottle isn’t always available, so when it is, do grab it. My bottle was a fiver from the Avon brochure a few months back. I reviewed it here.
4160 Tuesdays Doe in the Snow: I adore this fresh peachy chypre and have a little travel bottle. In case you were wondering why I never reviewed it, it’s because I cannot match or surpass this description “citrus fruits, flowers and woods, stirred with an icicle.” That’s exactly what it smells like and it is beautiful. EDIT- I have since reviewed this and you can read my verdict here.
Avon Scent Essences Sparkly Citrus: I bought this for just £2.50 when it was on offer. It’s a 30ml eau de toilette that does what it says on the tin and smells a lot more expensive that the price I paid. In a similar vein, do try Crabtree and Evelyn West Indian Lime. I tried it in winter and it was good in cold weather, but it’s fantastic now.
Yardley English Lavender is always uplifting, but never more so than when you keep it in the fridge and squirt your hot cleavage with it. I’m hoping the words “hot cleavage” won’t direct the wrong sort of traffic to my site, but you never know, the hot cleavage seekers might learn something.
Over to you
What’s your favourite Cool Down scent in hot weather? Do you keep any in the fridge? Do let me know, I always love to hear from you.
As you may have gathered, last Thursday was the UK Fragrance Foundation Annual Awards Night (aka the Fifis) and saw a major gathering of the great and the good in the perfume industry. By a happy turn of events, I found my little old self there too.
I attended as a guest of the Clive Christian team, which was both an honour and a privilege and I thank them warmly for inviting me.
I hadn’t been sure that attending would even be possible, with the night being on a school night, during term time and in London, around 150 miles from South Wales where Fort Scriven is situated. After rearranging my family’s lives in order to facilitate my attendance, and a last-minute ear infection at 5.50am from my poorly son who failed to guilt me into cancelling, I was off.
I may have mentioned before how kind perfume people are. Their generosity and thoughtfulness is legend, and tonight was no exception. I was invited to join brilliant perfume writer Stephan Matthews and Fifi award winner and perfumer Marina Barcenilla for a meet up and catch up prior to the noise and chaos. This meant I did not have to walk in alone and when we reached the venue and I saw the sheer enormity of the event, I was wholeheartedly grateful to have people to walk in with.
There were proper paparazzi and a big sponsored backdrop for better known people than I to be photographed on. Red carpet was everywhere- I have some on my stairs at home, but it doesn’t have the same effect and it’s a sod to hoover. There were sequinned hosts and black tie waiters with champagne holders that could hold about thirty glasses, unlike me. I only had one and stuck to soft drinks thereafter. I had names to remember and an early bus and I could not figure out where my hotel was from a map. Adding champagne would have been a disaster. I might still be there now, looking for the exit.
Stephan and Marina are a hoot to hang out with and I was in awe of their knowledge: not just of the industry but of the process and raw materials. Marina, as you may know, is a talented perfumer and very modest with it. Plus hilarious and sweary also.
I had a chance to catch up with the charming Dariusz, aka Persolaise and a met a jolly good looking chap who looked very familiar. I asked him what he did for a living “I’m a model” replied the charming model Oliver Cheshire. If I was as good looking as him, I’d be a massive big head, but he wasn’t in the slightest and was delightful.
My chum and fume-idol Sarah McCartney arrived around then: a finalist in two categories for Mother Nature’s Naughty Daughters, and looking splendid in vintage couture, with vintage buttons gleaming like jewels. We founded a two-strong campaign to restore the evening glove. Check out our YouTube video above that’s snowballed into double viewing figures.
It was soon time to herd us upstairs to dinner and I was separated from my companions to join my hosts on the Clive Christian table. My eyes had popped out on stalks when on seeing goody bags on every chair, so I popped them back in and tried to look gracious and not like a goody bag greedy guts. Which I am.
The Clive Christian table were a truly lovely team of people and I was particularly bowled over to have a chat with Victoria Christian herself who, let me tell you, smelled INCREDIBLE. (She was wearing Clive Christian V and C together). Luckily, fragrance gatherings are one of the few occasions where you can sniff people you have only just met without getting arrested. Also on my table, I was delighted to see Jo Fairley of The Perfume Society, who I hadn’t seen since I attended her workshop last Saturday.
You will hear more from me about Clive Christian throughout the year as there are exciting launches coming up soon, so watch this space.
After being entertained 1950s style by the fabulous Bye Bye Baby- a superb Frankie Valli style singing act, the awards began in earnest. There isn’t room here to list all the winners, so follow this link to Now Smell This, but we had a lovely compere in the form of Natasha Kaplinksy, who looked great but was too far away to sniff.
I was disappointed that Sarah McCartney didn’t win, but delighted that Marina Barcenilla won for Black Osmanthus. Marina and Sarah are true perfumers who make their own stuff, source their own materials and get their hands dirty. I love perfumers who do that and if it were up to me, I’d create a special category for the dirty hands gang.
The Fragrance Foundation was celebrating its twenty fifth birthday that night and it was fascinating to watch a showreel of perfume ads over the last 25 years. How things have changed! The night was finally over, all bar the dancing, but this tired Cinders could bear no more after a very long day. Finding the exit was like trying to leave Ikea but I just about made it out of there before I turned into a pumpkin.
Them Fragrance Foundation people sure know how to throw a party.
Goodnight, Nos da, Pyjamas.
Who are you wearing?
Samantha Scriven was dressed by The Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice Charity Shop, Cwmbran and the YMCA Shop Blackwood. Jewellery by Marks and Spencer from four years ago. Make up by Avon and Rimmel. Hair by Salon Scriven and two hotel mirrors. Scent of the Night was Le Jardin Retrouvé Tuberose Trianon.