Tag Archives: perfume

Giorgio Beverly 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.

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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.

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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.

Stockists  

You can find Giorgio Beverly Hills  from Amazon UK. I’ve also seen it in Home Bargains and Savers in store. Opinions are my own.

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Miller Harris La Pluie: Like the Weather, It’s Changeable

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My first ever experience with Miller Harris was but a few weeks ago when I sampled Fleurs de Sel and reviewed it for my good readers. Today I have in my hands a sample of La Pluie (The Rain). With a name like that, who could resist?

I was initially apprehensive, since I was afraid of coming across an ozonic aquatic mess, but I should know better. This is Miller Harris after all.

I was pleasantly surprised as I went about my day with La Pluie radiating off my skin with a lovely subtlety. There is soft background lavendar, a bowl of oranges somewhere  and some lovely bergamot  The initial burst of scent reminds me a little of the smell in a brand new office: all paper and new leather, but with a window open. There is definite heliotrope, which is maybe why this reminded me of  Guerlain Apres L’Ondee. They’re not the same, but I suspect Apres L’Ondee fans would find something to admire here. Just when you think you’re smelling the pages of your brand new book (I love that smell!), the flowers start emerging, almost one by one. It’s like having a vase of  white flowers behind you and not noticing until the smell finally becomes too delightful not to turn round and see them properly.

When all that has calmed down, there is a smell of grass or wheat, almost like the scent of an Italian kitchen at rest. In the end the story is all about vetiver, wheat, herbs (although not listed) and a teeny bit of Vanilla Bourbon to sweeten the dryness.

 La Pluie smells clean and new, just like it’s name.  More than that though, it changes as you wear it and in my mind’s eye it kind of tells the story of a day.  From getting caught in the rain, to coming into the hall where there are flowers, and then entering a warm, dormant kitchen ready for your evening. Some call it tropical. I call it a classic British Rainy Day- Rather beautiful and comforting.

I would happily buy this and spend all day sniffing the different stages, like Violet Beauregarde working her way through her three course gobstopper: “Hey it’s Tomato Soup, Mmm lovely, now it’s Roast Beef, oh wait a minute, its changing again…”

Well played Miller Harris.

Stockists

You can buy La Pluie from Amazon UK.  Sample is my own, as are my opnions.

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Ô de Lancôme: Sparkle for Summer

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There have been almost three consecutive warm days here in Britain. Can we call it Summer yet? Granted Day Three was followed by freezing rain and wind, but trust me, three days still count.

When the weather is warm, it calls for a change in perfume as much as it calls for a change of clothes.  Wearing Gourmands in the hot sun just makes me feel sticky. Even Orientals must be super Lite. Personally, I think you can’t beat a good citrus or a shot of Bergamot when the temperature rises.

If I had to choose only one perfume to wear in the summer, I would have to say Ô de Lancôme narrowly gets my vote. In the top three would also be Chanel Cristalle, Guerlain Pamplelune, and maybe Yardley English Lavender, straight from the fridge.

What gives Ô de Lancôme the edge is that it is so unashamedly refreshing, that it almost crackles and sparkles on your skin when you apply it. It’s like ice cold lemonade, you can almost feel the tiny bubbles pop.

Top notes are , unsurprisingly  Lemon and Bergamot  with a crisp fresh hint of Orange, and a slight whisper of Honeysuckle. It’s the Lemon that dominates though.

Ô de Lancôme could almost be regarded as a spritz or cologne, so sharp and refreshing does it feel. However, it is worth taking this 1969 creation seriously. Oakmoss has been added (not real Oakmoss, thanks to IFRA, but it will do), along with Sandalwood and Vetiver. So what starts with high octane Lemons, slicing through a sultry heat, beds down into something more earthy and raw, but no less refreshing. In fact, it’s the perfect scent for a late afternoon. By evening, things will get a lot more interesting. Longevity is good. I could smell this in my wrist six hours after spraying it, albeit the Earthy, Woody base, but it was still there, doing its job.

Lancôme has also introduced Ô de Lancôme de L’Orangerie, which I can also vouch for, as well as Ô d’Azur de Lancôme. I‘ve tried the whole range, and they are all good, but I have a special place in my heart for the original.

This ladylike summer scent will never go out of fashion.

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Avon Week: Timeless

Avon.com
Avon.com


Now we’re talking. I bought a bottle of Timeless in 2012 and was dismissive of it.  In my naivety I labelled it “powdery” and “old lady”. Since my recent epiphany regarding the chypre genre (Thank you Balmain Jolie Madame, I’ve never been the same since), I have changed my outlook on Chypres.

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In Timeless, we have in our midst an excellent and very affordable chypre  (sans oakmoss) that users compare to Rochas Femme or even Gres Cabochard.   Another fan says it is a cross between Obsession and Dana Tabu.

Prominent notes include aldehydes, opoponax, patchouli and amber.   It opens with spicy citrus, beds down into an old fashioned floral with roses and jasmine, and finishes off with an ambery powder accord that isn’t done enough these days.

Timeless was created in 1974 and has fans that have been wearing it ever since.   On the Avon Shop UK page,  buyers are clamouring for it.  On Fragrantica, it is praised to the skies.  On my humble left arm, it smells amazing and has great lasting power.  In fact Avon, did a very daft thing which they quickly put right after listening to their cusotmers.   Timeless was at one point, discontinued.  Such was the uproar from their non-millenial,  long term, customers that Avon very kindly brought it back again.  Wise move, Avon

I tried a sample of Timeless EDT today and was knocked for six. The powdery old fashioned smell I once foolishly tossed aside is terrific. It’s classic, spicy and feminine.  It could hold its own alongside many more expensive brands and not even blush.

Stockists: Timeless is available from Avon UK at the excellent price of £5, although prices and offers may vary.

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Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune: Right Through To The Bitter End

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A small patch of blue sky was spotted for at least twenty the minutes the other day. I don’t care what anyone says, I’m calling it Spring. I am making excuses to get my Spring and Summer Scents out, if not my cooler clothes. In the world of fragrance, you’d be hard pushed to find anything more refreshing than a sharp citrus note on a hot day. And if we’re talking citrus, we have to talk about Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune.

This is a slippery customer, old Pamplelune. Wearing it on two previous occasions, it has gone sour and bad on me, like a hard shrivelled Clementine that I removed from my fruit bowl recently. Looking at reviews all over the Internet, it would seem I am not alone.  Today, I can report that Pamplelune is behaving itself, and I have not yet reached the sour rotten note, nor the famous “cat pee” so often mentioned by disappointed wearers.

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When this is first applied, it is pretty much agreed that the Grapefruit top note is sharp, refreshing and unbeatable in the Citrus Category. It’s the aftermath that creates problems. Like a beauty Queen with a sleazy past, positive first impressions are soon pricked like a bubble.

Today, Pamplelune is better than it was last time I tried it for a day. Maybe this is because my skin is warmer, or maybe because the more perfumes that take me out of my comfort zone, the more my tastes are changing.  In any case, when the delightful and sparkling Grapefruit notes softened down and drifted away today, the drydown was better than I remembered.  It’s green rather than bitter, with Petitgrain and Cassia Leaf providing a fresh spicy accord,  and I detected a bit of unsweetened Vanilla smoothing out the edges. The Grapefruit is still there but instead of being juicy and tart, it’s more like a palate soothing sorbet now.

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This is hit and miss, depending on your skin, the weather and what your personal perfume tastes are. There seem to be an equal number of brickbats and bouquets for Pamplelune. I have a foot in both camps. I have had the sour rind smell before now on two occasions, yet today I have a unique and grown up citrus fragrance that has made itself at home.

Pamplelune was created in 1999, and like many fourteen year olds, it’s difficult and capricious. I implore you, no matter how much you like Citrus and Grapefruit, do not buy this blind, unless it’s a very small bottle.  You can love it from afar, but until you meet, you won’t know if there’s chemistry.

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Cartier Baiser Du Dragon: My Retro Friend with The Futuristic Price Tag


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Trying Cartier’s Baiser du Dragon today gave me two immediate reactions. Firstly: this is a glorious contrast to yesterday’s airy Lavendar, and Secondly: Why does this make me think of the 1970s?

This has a boozy start that I recall from my olfactory memories as a child in the 70s. My mother would often spray a perfume that would have the same high alcohol starting note before settling down to something more sophisticated.  This smells like many perfumes I have known from that era, but none that I can name. If I went to an old fashioned chemist in the back of beyond, maybe I could buy a bottle of something similar from a dusty shelf.

So why was I sent back to the 1970s? Was it just the Hai Karate style bottle with the plastic dipper? Or maybe it was the slight powderiness about it that smells a little retro, almost a Imagelittle like Charlie Blue (don’t shoot me, I don’t like Charlie, I’m just talking about the genre).  Just as the booze and the powder merge and fade, I am left with Patchouli. In fact, this reminded me a little of Borneo 1834, except that it lacks the Oompa Oompa of Borneo.

Now either my hayfever is playing tricks on me, or Dragon sillage isn’t very loud. I was testing the Parfum, no less, which you would expect to have impact, but sadly, this is no Lanvin Arpege when it comes to super strength. With Arpege, three dabs lasts me twelve hours and it just gets better and better. Baiser du Dragon seems to have been sucked up and absorbed into my skin within two hours flat, leaving a faint ghost of almonds and Patchouli in its wake before going “pouf” and disappearing.

I like this enough to wear again, but I secretly wish I was trying an Eau de Toilette just so I can upgrade to a stronger version. Unfortunately, after the Parfum, there’s only extrait and I’m not sure I want it badly enough to start tracking it down.

I was alarmed, gaspingly so, at the hefty price tag on this: on Amazon it was £116.99 for 50ml Eau de Toilette. I thought I must have got it wrong. To me this is a a pretty good Oriental with poor lasting power, (at least on me), and a definite 70s vibe. It’s good, but it’s not THAT good. Is it just me?

I looked this up in Perfumes the Guide to see what the Emperor of Scent had to say about. My puzzlement was vindicated. I give him the last word:

I handed a smelling strip to my colleague Ian Smith, an analyst of thirty years’ standing…he passed a judgment that has so far not been appealed:

That’s nineteen-bloody-seventy-two Old Spice, that is’”

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Yardley Lavender Eau de Toilette: Sometimes Simple Is What You Need

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It’s no coincidence that aromatherapists and masseurs use Lavender as a therapeutic scent, nor that it is a sleep inducing pillow spray. To me, it is also no coincidence that Yardley Lavender (along with or instead of Eau de Cartier) is the perfect hangover fragrance.

When you’re full of toxins and feel nauseous with overindulgence, Lavender steps in like a pure Angel come to visit and carry away those troubles like an open window in a stuffy room.

Lavender is also regarded as an “old lady” scent and this would be a good time to debunk that myth. The old ladies of today were the glamourpusses of yesteryear, and we have them to thank for being unswayed by modern trends and for keeping the market alive for the classic scents that are still being made to meet the demand of  “old ladies”.

These matriarchs are to be respected, as not only were they young once, but some day we will be the old ladies buying the Lavender and the good perfumes that are wasted on the youth. And maybe it was Oscar Wilde who once said “Youth is wasted on the young,”? Or maybe it was me the other day muttering at today’s modern teens? In any case,  calling a scent “old lady” is, to my mind, another way of saying “Classic”, and nowhere is this term more apt than  when used to describe Lavender.

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So what makes Yardley Lavender so special? Well for a start, the price is right at less than 10GBP a bottle on the High Street, and even cheaper online.  However, as well as Lavender (and I can promise you it smells authentic), I can also pick out Geranium and Clary Sage, making this a very green, slightly hippy Hesperide.  Sillage is arm’s length but pleasant. I think people will notice this simply because it will arouse nostalgia, and because it is so simple that it will stand out from today’s commuter trains of fruitchoulis and fake vanilla.

This is a soothing blast of cool summer which, along with it’s slightly  prickly and spicy Geranium, will be ideal as a summer time cleavage cooler straight from the fridge.   I have spoken before about layering and I think this will go very well will other scents: Just go with the flow, don’t let me boss you around!

As much as I love fragrances in all its forms and complexity, sometimes I like to go back to basics.  A Lavender fragrance in a scent wardrobe is akin to a walk in the country after a year in a city.  Sometimes we need that, no matter how beautiful the city.

 

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Beyonce Midnight Heat: Explosion in Tropical Candy Floss Factory

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 After being spoilt like a spoilt thing in recent weeks, with achingly high quality scents to die for, I decided to dip my toe into a fragrance that I have seen everywhere recently from Duty Free to my local Asda. One of many samples I have blagged lately, this generous 2ml dabber is wrapped in purple cellophane like a Quality Street sweetie. No less than 3 members of my household tried to disrobe it hopefully, including one of the cats who is kinky for cellophane.

It is entirely appropriate that this was mistaken for a sweet because Wow! Is this sugary! Take some candy floss, add some sugar, preferably vanilla sugar, then sweeten it up with some caramel, preferably vanilla caramel, then add loads of concentrated Tropical cordial, the stuff that’s so thick and gloopy it sticks to the inside of the bottle. Shake it all about and Bingo! Beyonce Midnight Heat.

It has some similarities with JLo Deseo, However, Deseo keeps it clean and floral, and although it has similar Tropical notes, it is a fresher, brighter fragrance.

Beyonce Midnight Heat is too sticky and hot. The sweetness is overpowering. I should imagine it could be used as an aid to weight loss since once sniffing this, you would find the idea of ingesting sugar completely repellent. In fact, that’s why I might keep this. Those leftover Easter Eggs are still in the house, calling my name. This might be just what I need.

Balmain Jolie Madame: A Scent for All Seasons

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Jolie Madame by Pierre Balmain was created in 1953 by Germaine Cellier and has an immediate old fashioned glamour. Cellier knew what she was doing. Her other fragrances, Bandit  and Fracas (both for Robert Piguet) are still standing today as revered classics. When you think how many fragrances have been and gone over the years, that’s a pretty big achievement.

The more I have delved into Aldehydes and Woody Chypres on my colourful perfume journey, the more I have appreciated them. Jolie Madame seems to be the very pinnacle of a perfect Woody Chypre, almost prickling and crackling with its rough and beautiful Oakmoss and Galbanum.

I am a huge fan of both Green Notes and Hesperides, and yet I have been venturing a lot into Leather recently (but enough about my marriage *ahem*). To find a fragrance that encapsulates all my favourites in one scent has thrilled me. Firstly, Jolie Madame opens with Green Notes, including the stems and leaves. Petitgrain and Oakmoss, give it a woody, leafy opening. Then the Bergamot makes it presence felt, giving the woodiness some airy freshness at the same time, like a walk in a forest after a downpour. It smells like mossy, wet earth under damp bracken. There is a slight powderiness, in the form of chalk, or maybe it’s the Gardenia making me think of the colour white. This fades into a Green and Smoky Leather finish that lingers, delighting with whiffs of Violet and a whisper of White Musk throughout the day.

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It is perfectly put together and utterly delightful. It’s my one stop shop when I can’t choose between a Green Note scent, a Woody Chypre, a Hesperide or a Leather. Jolie Madame gives me everything I want..

It is the antithesis of modern High Street scents and its price tag is surprisingly reasonable. This may have to be one of my rare full bottles. It’s currently around 30GBP abottle, even less on eBay. It has great lasting power,  and is well worth its reasonable price. On me, this lasts around six or seven hours. I can’t get my nose off my wrist. It’s outrageously good.

If I was forced to narrow my treasured perfume collection into only two bottles, it would be Vol de Nuit and Jolie Madame. That kind of covers all bases for me. A joy!

Yesterday I discovered Balmain. And it was a good, good day.

Eau de Cartier Essence D’Orange: Refreshing or Refresher?

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From Leathery Tobaccos to a citrussy hesperide: you have my permission to call me capricious. I must confess, I have  an ulterior motive writing about  Eau de Cartier Essence d’Orange since it provides me with yet another excuse, as if one were needed, to wear my beloved Eau de Cartier again today ( see my earlier review). Just as a comparison you understand.

Eau de Cartier Essence D’Orange was created in 2010 as a follow up to the divine Eau de Cartier: an angelically light hesperide full of Bergamot and Lavender and still, in my opinion the best and only fragrance to wear when hungover.  It’s like having an aromatherapist helping you out when all is spent.  Despite reviewing fragrance daily (or as near as I can),  there are not many full sized bottle on my dressing table. Eau de Cartier is one of them. After smelling a spray sample I simply had to have it.  Luckily, it was just before Christmas and Santa got my letter in time.

When I saw there was an Essence D’Orange, I was keen to try it.  At first spray it smells very like Eau de Cartier, but very quickly the soft oranges quietly enter the room.  This is not, as you might expect, a sharp citrussy orange, but more of a fuzzy powdery orange.  In fact after around ten minuets I couldn’t escape persistent thoughts of Orange Refreshers. Opening with a burst of bergamot like its sister Eau de Cartier, the orange does sort of take over, along with a bunch of violets to calm it down and stop it being too dominant.  I also would have said lavender was a noticeable note, despite not being listed. Never mind, you can take my word it, I can definitely smell a hint of lavender.

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This is beautifully unisex and may even smell better on a man. I still prefer my Eau de Cartier, but I have ordered a stash of samples of Essence D’Orange so I always have access to it without investing in the 100ml or 200ml bottle.

This is fresh, airy, light and beautiful. The smell of Orange Refreshers is, admittedly, inescapable, but I rather like it. This, along with Eau de Cartier is the antidote to too many Leathers and Orientals. It is delicious, edible and thirst quenching.

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