Tag Archives: perfume

Pia and Nick’s Smelly Cakey Perfume Day 2016

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It was a day of contrasts

The Adventure

Dear readers, I am now back from what can only be described as an extravaganza of sniffage and olfactory wonder. Imagine a day spent in the most vibrant and beautiful capital city in the world (because I can’t fall out of love with London), add lots of like minded fume-heads, add perfumeries, boutiques and perfume halls, then stick afternoon tea on the end and fill your bag with samples ready to go home. You can see what I mean if I tell you it was as if all my birthdays had come at once.

The day was organised by Pia Long and Nick Gilbert, who you may know from social media where they have a strong and influential presence. Do try and visit their wonderful vlog : Love To Smell. What those two don’t know about scent, probably ain’t worth knowing.

You would be hard pressed to meet two lovelier, more generous people. The work that Pia and Nick put in to arrange this day, at no profit to themselves, goes some way to explaining what Good Eggs these two are. Also, Nick has a dirty laugh and gives good bear hugs.

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We Begin

My dear friend Lisa Wordbird (who is how I got dragged into this heavenly mess) offered to drive. This is because A) I cannot and B) because she knows no fear and is actually willing to cheerfully tackle central London in a car on a Saturday. Mad. Good driver, but mad. We left Wales at 8.30am and hit the M4 seamlessly. “Look at us!” we thought,”We’re on time!” we thought, fitting in a sugar’n’caffeine stop at the services. London, however, had other plans for us and decided to hide all its parking spaces from Lisa’s tiny, nippy car. So our trip was: two hours of motorway and two hours of driving round central London, which despite our frustration, didn’t bring us down, since London is The World’s Best Place For People Watching ( a.k.a trying not run over very rich people with shopping bags in Knightsbridge).

The Smells of London Town

samup1We were due in Fenwicks’ at 11am but instead just about caught up with our group at 1pm. We were Moomins for the day, which meant our group was led by Pia. The other group were Flamingoes and led by Nick. We arrived at By Killian in Burlington Arcade and were given a talk by the beautiful Davina. Not only was she knowledgeable, but she let us sniff everything, whilst explaining the background and inspiration to the aromas that filled the little boutique. Funnily enough, the day was a bit like wedding dress shopping. I loved the first thing I tried on and even though I tried millions of others, I fell deeply in love with the first one. That scent was the first thing I smelled as I walked into the Killian Boutique: “Good Girl Gone Bad.” Nothing I smelled that day beat this and I left with a tiny sample in my sweaty paw.

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There were all sorts of innovations going on in Killian: notably scented jewellery that means that people with sensitive skin can smell good all day. This involves a tiny unglazed ceramic disc that’s doused in scent and heats up with skin temperature. There were also home fragrance items: glorifiers, candles, scented paperweights and intriguing tasselled discs that you can hang anywhere, or if you’re Killian Hennessey himself, you can hang loads in your wardrobe. Because you made them. And your wardrobe is probably already very posh. There was some sniggering from me because I was standing next to the legend that is Val Cookie Queen Sperrer, who made some remark about tassels. I can’t remember the remark, but it gave me inappropriate mental images. #DitaVonTeese: that sort of image.

Lost in Fortnum and Mason

caronThere was a break in the timetable for lunch-on-the-go before the next talk at Miller Harris on Monmouth Street. Lisa went to move the car before the charges matched her mortgage payments, and I filtered towards Fortnums with a splinter gang. The Perfume Hall at Fortnums is a sight to behold. I could spend hours there and not even look at my watch. Even as a perfume blogger having guerlainwritten 730 reviews, there were brands and bottles I had never even heard of. However, from the corner of my eye, I saw the Clive Christian salesperson giving out samples so I sidled up and flashed hungry eyes at her. I can’t afford Clive Christian but I collect samples like a miser. The lovely Tamara gave me a long tour of the brand and I was indeed rewarded with some treats to take home at the end. Unfortunately when I looked up, the other fume-heads had gone.

I used to live in London in the 90s so I have a fading muscle memory of routes,  which led  me vaguely towards Covent Garden Plaza. It wasn’t where I thought it was. Someone had moved it, surely? I ended up power walking around three miles through the throngs and masses. It was actually very liberating and a big change from my usual school run routine. I rang Lisa, who was somewhere completely different and she told me I was heading to the wrong Miller Harris branch. I eventually used an old fashioned method of navigation that you don’t see much these days- I looked at a map on the wall. I was back on track.

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Meeting My She-roes

lizsamI reached Miller Harris out of puff, but not too late, and what joy! I finally got to meet someone that both Lisa and I had been looking forward to seeing for the first time. I met Liz Moores of Papillon Artisan Perfumes. We have been Facebook friends for a good while and it was a delight to meet her in person. She is tiny and witty and I like her enormously.

If you are reading this, you are most likely already a perfume fan, so you will know that to people like us, the perfumers are our pop stars.

As the group fondled their generous Miller Harris goody bags and moved to Bloom ruthsam3Perfumery, I also managed to meet another perfumer I admire and have reviewed: Ruth Mastenbroek. Unfortunately we missed Ruth’s talk in Fenwick, but she was wonderfully friendly. She is elegant and softly spoken with a reserve that I suspect may be a soupçon of shyness. Ruth was a pleasure to meet and very kindly completed my missing RM sample collection for me. I adored her third scent:Oxford but have yet to try her first signature: Ruth Mastenbroek so watch this space for a review of both soon. A fourth scent is currently in development.

I was also delighted to meet fellow blogger Vanessa Musson from Bonkers About Perfume. We have been Facebook friends for a long time now, and have a mutual friend in Lisa. Vanessa was immensely generous to me with samples, and not for the first time. She is responsible for much of the content in the photo of my swag. Vanessa and I also share a love of cats and I always enjoy seeing the photos of the Bonkerscat, Truffle on social media. You can read Vanessa’s beautifully written account of the day here

It was a pleasure to see the charming Thomas Dunckley again a.k.a The Candy Perfume Boy. Thomas is great company and deserves all his Jasmine Awards. Some days his writing is so good it makes me jealous.

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My Swag

Bloom on, Bloom

Bloom is a fascinating perfumery that arranges it scents not by brand, but by family. So you’ll have all the sandalwoods, then all the leathers, then the spices and so on. It is fairly Spartan inside, which is refreshing after the opulence of the perfume halls and the bling, but this makes for more of a studio feel.

Shortly after Bloom, the group split into fragments again. Some of us were heading off to the afternoon tea which Pia had booked for us, and some were making their way home. Many fond goodbyes were said and many Facebook friendships began that day.

Food, Glorious Food

At B Bakery in Covent Garden, we were treated like VIPs with our own individual pots of caketea, (which were readily replenished) and a three tier cake stand. I had to compose myself when I saw it, rather than allow my greedy eyes to pop out on stalks. I am still fantasizing about that baby Lemon Meringue Pie. I have become firm friends with my two fellow diners who donated their pistachio macarons to me. Lisa didn’t give me hers, so that’s thirty years of friendship out the window. Her fault. Kirk and Nafia are my new best friends now. Hi guys!

Homeward Bound (small discreet burp)

Groaning with full tummies and sloshing with tea, we bade a reluctant farewell to a wonderful, but tiring day and headed back to Wales. The next morning when I woke up in bed in my house in South Wales (covered in sons who had missed me), I wondered if I had dreamed it all. And then I smelled my pillow. Tuberose, aldehydes, leather and incense. It was all true.

DSH Giverny in Bloom: Bringing art alive

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Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is an early pioneer in the world of indie perfumes. US based, Dawn (or DSH to fans), constantly innovates and has a wide fan base worldwide. In fact, I’m astonished I took so long to get here.

monet-gvI was recently sent two samples of DSH scents by friend of the blog (and friend of me!) Patsi, who is always very generous and supportive of my perfume habit, having a serious habit herself. Thank you Patsi!

Today I am reviewing Giverny in Bloom. It seems appropriate to look at the pictures of Monet’s gardens in Giverny as I sniff them since this scent was created to go alongside the “in Bloom” scent experience at Denver Art Museum.

This scent will be instantly recognizable to anyone who remembers playing in the garden as a child. Did you ever pick flowers, snap ferns and sniff leaves or was that just me? If so, you will easily imagine how transporting this earthy, realistic fragrance is.

bridgeThis was almost astringent on first spray, like rubbing a broken fern between your fingers. After that the flowers come in. Not just petals, but stems, stamens, buds: the whole shebang. It smells like a very good florists: it’s flower heads, yes, but seeds and leaves too. It is springlike and abundant. There’s lilacs, carnations, mimosa, roses, jasmine, neroli, violets, linden blossom- it’s all there. But what makes this stand apart from a good spring floral is the addition of the greenery and earthiness. There’s soil tincture, oakmoss, galbanum, ambergris, and patchouli. All this works not against, but alongside, the prettiness of the flowers, giving a dose of realism that makes this really stand out. A good gardener knows you have to get your hands dirty and that’s what this smells like: a real garden, with all the flowers, the sharpness of green leaves and a woody, earthy base. Like the strokes of an Impressionist’s brush, the blending is cleverly done to give an artless feel that allows each note to blur into the next without losing itself.

Viewed alongside the legendary paintings, this makes for a wonderfully uplifting experience.

I shall be seeking out more DSH after this. Thank you Patsi for this fabulous intro.

Stockists.

All scents are available from the DSH website.  This just in-I have it on good authority that  DSH does indeed ship to the UK! There is also a good sample service, and free samples with every full bottle purchase.

Photo credits

Top photo from Fragrantica. Middle photo from www.famousartistsgallery.com. Bottom photo from www.lifo.gr

Yardley April Violets: Contemporary Classics

 

 

The Perfume Society
The Perfume Society

In the past Yardley has been accused of being “old lady”.  It’s a term I don’t like to use, since the mature set round my way always smell terrific, with wafts of Estee Lauder Cinnabar and Clinique Aromatics Elixir being particular favourites that many younger buyers local to me wouldn’t touch.  So where some might say “old lady”, I would like to say “classic”, and since we are talking Yardley today, then classic seems to be a good fit.

My quest for the perfect violet is never ending and even when I find a good one, I still hunt for more.  Stand-out violet scents for me are Lush Tuca Tuca ( sadly no more),  Penhaligons Violetta,  Pell Wall Deep Purple ( a green mossy violet) and my beloved Balmain Jolie Madame which combines violet with leather and oakmoss.

Clever Yardley has seen fit to relaunch four of their floral fragrances as “Contemporary Classics” and I for one welcome this move whole heartedly.

Yardley April Violets is a back to basics violet, but seems all the more rare for its simplicity.  There are many notes listed, despite it being presented as singularly violet, and it does indeed change on skin the longer its there, but into a plaer version of its its own top note, rather than anything boldly different.  On the Yardley website, there are notes of white peach, orris, mimosa and rose, with sandalwood, vanilla and powdery notes in the base.  To my nose I could smell violets, a hint of iris ( probably the orris), a hint of white musk, and a handful of green notes.  It is both refreshing and powdery at the same time, with an old fashioned note that makes me thirst for simpler fragrant times before the caramel tsunami.

 

Yardley
Yardley

So “classic” was April Violets that it fell out of fashion, or so Yardley thought, and they discontinued it.  However, public clamour brought it back and it is now widely available at a very reasonable price.  Longevity isn’t great: say a weak eau de toilette or a strong eau de cologne, but topping up is part of the pleasure, and at less than £12 for a big 125ml bottle, you can’t go far wrong.

Stockists

Yardley April Violets is currently available on Amazon UK, Amazon.com and Boots.com as well as www.yardleylondon.co.uk.  My sample was from the Perfume Society Beautiful Blossoms Discovery Box.

 

The Body Shop Fijian Water Lotus.

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Fijian Water Lotus is the latest addition to the Body Shop’s excellent Voyage Collection, two of which I have reviewed elsewhere on this blog.  Today I treated myself to a little £5 for 10ml bottle of Fijian Water Lotus (for which, bravo Body Shop for offering affordable purse sprays!).

As the name suggests, this is an aquatic/ozonic sort of affair, which would please fans of say, L’Eau D’Issey by Issey Miyake or Marks and Spencer Isis. It is full of sea notes, though without the salt, and the zinginess is maintained with sharp mandarin and lemony blossom (litsea cubeba if you must). It is often hard to maintain that “fraiche” accord for more than a top note presence, but here it is achieved successfully, although after two or three hours it does bed down into a very clean basket of laundry.  I must add that if anyone’s laundry smelled this good, I would be asking for the name of their fabric softener.

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In the latter stages, Fijian Water Lotus still maintains a blue image that makes me think of crashing waves and blue skies, and the citrus is still there, but don’t expect astringency to hang around for the entire show.  All in all, this is a great summer scent and I foresee several Body Shop Oceanus fans coming out of retirement to purchase this.  It’s not quite Oceanus, but it sure does tick all those sea spray/ crest of a wave/ ozonic boxes that feel just right on a sunny day.

Not QUITE Oceanus
Not QUITE Oceanus

Stockists

Available from the Body Shop online or in store starting at £5 for a 10ml purse spray and rising to £16 for 100ml EDP.  There are lots of nice ancillary products to match too if you want to do layering.

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L’Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse aux Papillons

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With such a whimsical name, it was easy to be attracted to this scent like a butterfly to a buttercup.  With a seemingly mixed bag of reviews from the gushing to the nonplussed, I have to sadly align myself with the latter camp.

La Chasse aux Papillons opens with a whisper and then gets dirty, like twigs.  There is a hint of dried up buds, and an indolic background of jasmine.  Tuberose is alleged to be the dominant mistress here, but I could not smell any.  There is definitely Lime Blossom, but again, a dryness, like a flaky leaf, emerged on my skin.  Maybe Tauer’s Zeta spoiled me for other lime blossom scents.  There is freshness to this of sorts, and it certainly suits the spring season, but I was not enamoured of the white flowers with a hint of mud and dried leaves, nor of its light sillage and poor longevity.  I found it to smell almost medicinal or clinical, but that could be my brain getting confused because jasmine is often  used in commercial air freshener and soap.  Jasmine has many facets, and I didn’t care for this one.

Pinterest
Pinterest

Pity though, because I liked Premier Figuer and Timbuktu too and have a whole tin of L’Artisan samples to plough through yet.  But in the world of fragrance I would lack discernment if I loved everything a brand made, wouldn’t I?

I still love you L’Artisan Parfumeur, but I’ll leave this one to its fans.

Stockists

You can buy L’Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse aux Papillons on Amazon UK, Amazon.com and of course from www.lartisanparfumeur.com.  I have the sample tin, which is a great way to try before you buy, and you can buy it here.

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Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Ma Robe Pétales Eau Fraiche

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The  Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire collection is a step away from the heritage Guerlains, giving the brand a modern twist to a new younger audience.  However, being an old fashioned sort, I never really took to either the raspberries or cherries in the EDT or the EDP.  I was also miffed at how misleadingly different the EDT and the EDP are.  Usually an eau de parfum is a stronger concentration of an eau de toilette, but in the case of La Petite Robe Noire, they were two totally different scents.  This annoyed me in light of the twenty hundred flankers that followed.  Surely if the EDP was so different from the EDT it should have been given the name of a flanker?  But there we are.  To use a diplomatic phrase in Blogging, I guess they didn’t make it for me.

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To add to the constantly evolving long list of flankers, which in terms of numbers is giving Givenchy Irresistible a run for its money (27 flankers and counting), Guerlain has launched La Petite Robe Noire Ma Robe Pétales Eau Fraiche.  Or LPRB Eau Fraiche for short.

There are no cherries or raspberries, but just so the nougat factory doesn’t go out of business, there are a lot almonds and pistachios, which to me,  seem an odd choice for an eau fraiche.  The flowers are there too: noticeably heady Jasmine Sambac, some orange flower, and two types of rich rose, but the juxtaposition of these over the nuts and Tonka bean makes for a gourmand-lite.  Not something I want to wear in summer.

There is a bit of sparkly fun as it opens- like clean soapy talcum powder that turns into space dust when it hits your skin, but  it is quickly drowned by the naked praline.

I wouldn’t presume to tell genius Thierry Wasser (who can be deliciously blunt!) what to do, but I cannot help questioning the combination of  gourmand and heady flowers in an eau fraiche.  It’s not one I would choose to buy and if I had around £40 to spend on a bottle of Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Ma Robe Pétales Eau Fraiche, I would probably spend it on something else.

I was underwhelmed and in a blind test, I would never have had this down as a Guerlain.

 

Stockists: Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Ma Robe Pétales Eau Fraiche is widely available  and in the UK you could try Escentual,  Selfridges, Amazon UK, House of Fraser and Debenhams.  Outside the UK, you can try Sephora, Amazon and most department store beauty counters.

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Serge Lutens Gris Clair: Hot Lavender!

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On my skin, Serge Lutens scents last a very long time: usually around nine hours. The exception was Muscs Koublai Khan, which I detested and couldn’t get rid of. It’s the perfume Rule of Sod.  Love it?  It won’t last.  Hate it?  It won’t wash off.

Serge Lutens Gris Clair falls somewhere in the middle for me.  It’s long lasting but I neither hate nor love it.  Weirdly, it smells a little like hot starched linen on me: as if I have over-ironed a garment (chance would be a fine thing- ask my husband!).  It also smells very masculine, and if I may use a colour here, it smells silver.

Serge Lutens Gris Clair was created by the genius that is Christopher Sheldrake. I don’t love everything he makes, but everything he makes is quite brilliant, objectively speaking if not subjectively.  Woodsy lavender with a hint of resin, this is an unusual combo and I can think of few scents with which to compare it.

The notes include Iris, tonka bean, woods, lavender, incense, and amber.  What I admire about it is the fact that without the lavender, this would be a superb, if not unique, incense-y oriental.  However, the lavender jars and almost puts my teeth on edge, but I don’t regard this as a bad thing.  How would we have discovered that olives and Martini go so well together if someone hadn’t dared to try it?

So what we have in Gris Clair is a warm, spicy scent whose cosy edges are blown away.  Lavender is a cold scent.  Amber is warm.  Sheldrake has wrapped a woolly blanket around the hard edges of a skyscraper.  It’s hot and cold.  It’s different.  It’s audacious.  But it’s not for me.

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Elie Saab L’Eau Couture: Better Than It Says On The Tin

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  Hooray and Huzzah, for my Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Box has arrived and it’s full of treats.  Some I like, some I don’t, but half the fun is trying them on and being nosey (quite literally). Today I am reviewing Elie Saab L’Eau Couture. This is one of those occasions where the notes of a perfume don’t match the end result.  If you read the notes of Elie Saab L’Eau Couture: Almonds, Orange Blossom and Vanilla, you might imagine a foodie/floral. However, this is much better than the notes would suggest.

You may recall my earlier review of Elie Saab EDP, worn with aplomb by my lovely friend Jo on a night out. Elie Saab L’Eau Couture is simply the same scent with the heaviness taken out, yet it retains the lasting power. nd.12258 Elie Saab EDP has Patchouli and Cedar, whereas Elie Saab L’Eau Couture does not: yet it still has that woody base, except, this being a summer release, that wood is more of a leafy copse.

At first spray there are indeed Almonds, although not exclusively. Rather than going all Marzipan on me, they are so concentrated that they smell almost medicinal. Fine by me. The Vanilla is there, but thankfully, it’s more of a sweetened roundness rather than a fully fledged cup cake. I can smell Honey too, but it is, in the end, the Orange Blossom that dominates the foodie aspects, whilst still smelling like the sister of the Original Elie Saab EDP.

If you like Elie Saab’s original EDP for evening wear, then this is your answer for daytime.  It’s not like they’ve made it smell totally different and flogged it as a flanker (like so many we could mention), it actually smells like a relative of its originator scent. It still has that slightly prickly base which I like, whilst bringing a hint of summer to the proceedings.  Very clever.  But then guess who made it?  Francis Kurkdjian. No wonder.

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Calvin Klein Eternity Moment: Eternity is Everywhere

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In the countdown to Valentine’s Day I thought I would look at some of the UK’s current best-sellers. I have already reviewed Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey, and today, I am reviewing Calvin Klein Eternity Moment.

Interestingly, both are made by prolific and legendary nose, Jacques Cavallier, who rather incongruously reminds me a little of the actor Jack Black.

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Jacques Cavallier (from Fragrantica.com)

I have been wearing Eternity Moment since this morning and I could see it being heavily promoted in both Superdrug and the Perfume Shop today. Unfortunately I am not impressed. It makes me think I have a been a little hard on Avon lately since this could easily pass for an Avon scent.  Either Calvin Klein is doing something wrong or Avon is getting it more right than I gave them credit for. It just smells low budget.

The first notes are all fruit: Lychee, Melon, Guava, Raspberry. Thankfully the sugar has been reduced so instead of this being a sickly fruit cocktail, it’s a lighter fruity scent without that whiff of novelty erasers you so often get.  After that the synthetic Jasmine and Passionflower become  a bit shrieky and are calmed down by some fake Amber.  On me, that’s about the dimension of it.

However the blurb says “Its fine and fresh floral aroma is invited to capture the eternal moment of two souls meeting, gazing at each other, touching for the first time

Longevity is good because I am still waiting for it to wear off four hours later. *sigh*

In a blind test, I would have called this a generic High Street fruity floral that has been tamed down on the sugar front and thankfully has no vanilla. That may sound like a lukewarm reception and that’s because it is.

As always, my reviews are purely subjective and you may feel differently.  There is no right and wrong in perfume.  Thousands of women buy and wear this, so I guess they outnumber this small voice of dissent. I saw this priced at 19.50GBP for 50ml, so maybe its affordability keeps it on those lists.

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This Week’s Latest Avon Release: Avon Femme

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There’s an air of mystery in this week’s Avon brochure.  There is a full page advert for a forthcoming perfume with a little silhouette and  a call to “ask your representative for a sample today!”. Well my Avon lady, the lovely Jill, didn’t need to be asked and I had my sample with today’s order.

Top notes are: Lemon, Plum and Violet.

Middle notes: Jasmine, Orchid and Magnolia

Base notes: Amber, Peach, Wood, and Musk. (Thank you Fragrantica)

Avon Femme opens with bold Magnolia and Plum and wouldn’t smell out of place alongside many other shimmering treats on any beauty counter today. It reminded me of both Next Just Pink and Ralph Lauren Romance (another smellalike! It’s hard to stop seeing them once you start looking). One reviewer on Fragrantica compared it to Versace Bright Crystal and I will take their word for it since I am not familiar with many Versaces (yet).

versace bright crystalHowever, and herein lies the rub, as is the case so often with Avon, the basenotes go all Avon-ade on me.  You know how Guerlain perfumes have the Guerlainade accord?  Well the Avonade is always there too, except unlike Guerlain, it’s not very good.  So many Avon perfumes have been ordered by me. So many times my hopes have been raised and dashed. So many of them have ended with the Avonade base which smells like a cross between sweet plastic and cardboard. Sadly, Femme is no exception. One reason for this may be because Avon is are churning out new fragrances at a rate of knots, hence the sarcastic title of this article. In the last two months Avon has launched Instinct, Ultra Sexy, Our Story, Avon True Life, and now Femme.

rockrollstar.blogspot.com
rockrollstar.blogspot.com

Another reason could be that their low prices means that they compromise on good ingredients.  This shouldn’t be the case when Coty can churn out the excellent Coty L’Aimant for just over a fiver.  Perfume can be done cheaply and well. Sadly Avon seems to be  just doing it cheaply.

Avon never used to be like this.  They had a great stable of reliable perfumes that were ordered again and again by loyal fans. Foxfire, Topaze, Odyssey and Charisma were just some of my favourites. We could even talk about the delightful bottles which are now collectibles on eBay. (I had a beautiful glass and gold giraffe with Occur in it!)

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www.popscreen.com

Wouldn’t it be better if Avon brought back some of their heritage perfumes and made their stable of scents better quality, and with fewer of them?  I feel that we customers are being labelled as having very short attention spans, when most people find something they love and become loyal, if not monogamous, for life.

The only Avon scents I can think of that do not have the Avon accord/Avonade are Soft Musk (which I can’t wear because my mother and my sister wear it) and Rare Diamonds.  The celebrity scents also seem to sidestep the Avonade too, so they’re a safe bet, especially the LaCroix range. Quality not quantity Avon!

I guess I’m saying make me President of Avon Fragrance. Not much to ask. You will find me in the Avon archives for most of the week. Lots of freebies to take home and test.  I can start Monday.

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