Tag Archives: perfume

Elizabeth Taylor Diamonds and Emeralds: Almost Nearly Potentially Good

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As you may have realised by now, I am constantly on the trail of a low rent bargain: a high quality gem hiding behind its low price. Sometimes I am lucky, more often than not I am disappointed.  Still, I can always cheer myself up with a squirt of (non cheap) Carillon pour un Ange. It seems to be just what the Doctor ordered of late. It provides great comfort and succour for those moments when you are staring at your new low cost purchase in disillusionment. Again.

ImageSadly, Dame Elizabeth’s glamorous offering, Diamonds and Emeralds is that very purchase. Like a Magpie, I was attracted to the pretty box, the pretty bottle, and the image of Diamonds and Emeralds. Great name, great lady. Fabulous jewellery.

I have previously tried Diamonds and Rubies and found it shockingly bad. It’s in my Perfumed Turkey Hall of Infamy. It’s like being attacked by Peach flavoured Plasticine in a guest toilet that is dressed floor to ceiling in peach lace, right down to the toilet lid and toilet roll holder. It was an assault on my senses and easily one of the worst commercial smells I have ever encountered.

liz emeraldsDiamonds and Emeralds isn’t quite as nasty, and starts off showing a great deal of potential. First off, the Gardenia hits you rather prettily.  As soon as that has registered, rich, creamy tuberose comes out to play.  Just as I was enjoying the tuberose and feeling smug about my low cost purchase, along came a gang of aggressive peaches and sprayed me to death with cheap air freshener. Sadly this synthetic peach note is the longest lasting phase.  If they had just held back on the peaches, this could possibly have been a rather old fashioned, inexpensive tuberose classic  Not in the same category as the Great Fracas of course, but in a sort of “it’ll do”  category. Madonna made a good attempt at affordable tuberose in Truth or Dare, but Diamonds and Emeralds is a fleeting waft of synthetics in comparison.

How very sad, since I badly wanted this 80s Dynasty style diamanté encrusted bottle on my dressing table, but I’m afraid it might scare the good stuff away.

The only pleasure I had from Diamonds and Emeralds was found in looking at the photographs of the real McCoy at the auction of Dame Elizabeth’s jewellery.  How wonderful to look on such a masterpiece.  I guess nothing was ever going to match up to the real thing.

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Hello to my USA Readers, This is For You. Obsession by Calvin Klein

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I see from my blog dashboard that I have a lot of readers from the USA, a country that has given me several wonderful holidays (Hello San Jose, Yosemite, Carmel and San Francisco!). In honour of your special day, I thought it only right that I should review an American Classic.

Calvin Klein Obsession came along at a time when heavy, spicy perfumes were few and far between. There was Opium and Youth Dew and Cinnabar and that was about it on the Oriental Spicy front. Obsession was created in 1985, the same year as Dior’s Poison (Loud? Let’s just say it made an Aerosmith Concert sound like birdsong). Obsession had the big, brashness that was so characteristic of 1980s fragrance and fashion, think Alexis Carrington and her shoulder pads slamming open a dramatic set of double doors.  I miss you Joan. *sigh*

With a moody black and white ad campaign that was probably shot on a beach in the Hamptons, the market was ready for Obsession, even if train passengers were not.

Obsession opens with Spices, Amber, Sandalwood, a hint of Bitter Orange that’s pitched just right, and a whole host of other goodies that makes this shout “I’M HERE” as soon as you enter the room. Longevity is very good for a scent that’s High Street, mainstream and pretty inexpensive, and I have a sneaking fondness for it. On me, it unfolds in layers: Spice first, a slight booziness like Christmas,  Oranges, then Musk and Incense. I like it, but I am careful to spray just one squirt (base of throat) and no more, especially if I am going to be around food.  I love both perfume and food, but I do believe that perfume should never drown out the smell of either your meal or anybody else’s.

I had a bottle of Obsession in 1995, and again in 2005, and I don’t recall any differences in the formulation. Purists swear it’s been messed with, but I didn’t find  any  discernible anomalies .

 In a sea of fruits and berries and florals, this makes a welcome change and I wouldn’t object to a little mini revival, albeit sparingly. This has stood the test of the time and still feels current. One squirt usage makes the iconic egg shaped bottle last a very long time, making this a beauty bargain.

Happy Independence Day

LOEWE Quizas Quizas Quizas Pasion: Death By Red Berries

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 I was sent this recently as part of my disappointing Discovery Box from The Fragrance Shop. Once a quarter they send out several samples and vouchers for the princely sum of 5GBP. As I may have mentioned before, I remain unimpressed, but my uncontrollable addiction to perfume samples, good or bad, prevents me from cancelling.

This month’s offering contained Loewe Quizas Quizas Quizas Pasion, and I am reviewing it because two of the samples were for men, I haven’t got my head around Elvis Jesus yet (a  stingy 1ml sample, teeny), Mont Blanc smelled pretty similar to this, and after that I was left with Alien Aqua Chic, which I think the Universe wants me to review at some point since I now have three samples of the stuff.

 Loewe is a well established Spanish House that specialises in high end bags. They have now branched out into an extensive fragrance range, including  2007’s Quizas Quizas Quizas. In 2011 they launched a flanker, called Quizas Quizas Quizas Pasion.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to stop typing the long name and I’d like to call it QQQ Pasion. When I first sprayed it, a gang of overpowering Red Berries appeared from nowhere and whacked me over the head. As I came to, a faint whiff of pencil sharpenings and sickly flowers  poked their head through the Red Berry cloud, and a half acceptable note of Pale Woods made its presence felt, though not as much as I would liked. Then everything went a bit butch for a while, then disappeared in a puff of smoke, like a baddie at a Pantomine.

Yes, it’s a fruity floral, heavy on the red berries, and when I say heavy, I’m talking elephants and boulders. This is nothing new, it’s been done to death. However, there is an almost comical melodrama in the blurb, which was too good not to share:

“An aroma, more intense than the most erotic caresses. An eternal memory, never changing, never ending.”

Ahem. I don’t think so. However, if you are lacking in erotic caresses, do splash out on a  bottle of QQQ Pasion, as it’s apparently better than the aforementioned most erotic caresses.  If not, write to Trading Standards and complain that the smell of QQQ Pasion was NOT in fact more intense than the most erotic caresses and you would like your money back.

I might even do this myself, just for kicks.

LUSH Furze: Thanks. Thanks a lot.

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Oh dear LUSH, what happened? You have made so many beautiful scents such as Karma, Tuca Tuca, BScent, Icon and Smell of Weather Turning. Yet this year I have quite vehemently disliked 2013’s Euphoria, Sikkim Girls and now Furze.

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borrowed from www.thetimes.co.uk

I wasn’t going to review Furze today, but since my son just emptied my entire 7ml screw top bottle over the sofa, it looks like I have no choice. How I wish that he had chosen any other perfume but this one. It is now destined to be a semi permanent reminder of my dislike of Furze.

 Furze takes me back to my first ever Sindy Doll. Whenever I took her head off it smelled just like this. It’s sweet vinyl, drowned in some kind of bitterness. There are very few notes listed: Coconut, Neroli, Vanilla and Floral notes. The Coconut is concentrated to the point of being almost medicinal, the Vanilla is used with a heavy hand until it smells like Cyanide (Almonds), and the floral notes are a big sticky mess. This is not the Neroli I know and love. Frankly, this is dreadful. It’s overly sweet and it makes my eyes sting. Or maybe that’s emotion at the fact that my sofa is now one big giant room fragrance device smelling like Cleaning fluid and Sindy Dolls’ heads.

If you like sickly sweet, vinyl smells with a hint of petrol, then this is your lucky day.

Leo, this review is for you. Mummy not happy.

Robert Piguet FRACAS (EDP): Remarkable simplicity.

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 Fracas has been around since 1948 and was relaunched in 1998. It has been popular since its conception by the great Germaine Cellier (who I love just for making my beloved Balmain Jolie Madame).

Famous fans are rumoured to include  Supermodel Iman, Madonna, the late Edie Sedgewick,  the late, great Isabella Blow, and Joanna “Lovely”Lumley to name but a few (I left out Ivana Trump).

Fracas has inspired other perfumes too: Madonna’s Truth or Dare is said to be a homage to Fracas since it was her late Mother’s favourite scent. Karl Lagerfeld’s Chloe Original is a massive Tuberose, and not at all dissimilar.

I have been wearing Fracas today and could not help but admire it. It’s longevity is excellent, bordering on the clingy, like a guest that just won’t leave, but that’s no bad thing in a perfume.

I was surprised to see on Fragrantica that as many as 25 notes were listed for Fracas. After the admittedly fruity citrus top note, which smells similar to freshly sprayed Joy by Jean Patou, I got only one note in the drydwon. Tuberose. In spades, and shovels and with bows on. Tuberose has that unmistakable floral creaminess, rich and cloying, almost to the point of smelling medicinal, in the ways that Lilies can. I am growing to like Tuberose rather than love it, even though it has my great respect already.

I remember some years ago buying a 30ml bottle of KL Chloe Original, and passing it on after about a month of not getting on with it all. What I thought at the time were overly sweet flowers, was in fact a huge Tuberose note, so if you like Fracas, you might want to try Chloe Original. It’s usually not much more than around 15GBP for 30ml these days. Madonna’s Truth or Dare is even less, and not bad at all: surprisingly traditional and ladylike for one whose crotch seems so familiar to me.

Whilst I understand that Tuberose is very beautiful and greatly esteemed, I think it’s going to be something I grow into. At the moment I am not enamoured, although I do quite like its clean soapiness. Fracas is impossibly feminine and beautiful, and even though I’m not in love with it, it has certainly held my interest all day and I can’t stop sniffing it. I wish more people would wear it. I can certainly handle it on them, if not myself.

Classic and sophisticated, wear with a light hand, but do try it.

PS I have included a link to The Celebrity Fragrance GuideA fascinating list of celebrities’ favourite perfumes. I can’t vouch for its authenticity, but I went into a trance whilst reading it- utterly compulsive and fascinating.

 

Sarah Jessica Parker The Lovely Collection:Dawn

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Being a huge fan of Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely and seeing that she has created a very affordable diffusion range, I was curious to try Dawn. I own a bottle of Endless, which is a  pretty floral musk, that lacks lasting power,  and I have briefly tried the mildly spicy Twilight (not to be confused with the Vampire/Wolf uber franchise) but it was only recently that I managed to bag a sample of Dawn.

I am pleased to report that it is utterly delightful and not remotely offensive. It could easily be worn first thing in the morning on a commuter train and everyone would be thinking of dew drops and flower petals, rather than “Somebody Open A Window!”

Opening notes are Citrus notes, Angelica and Violet leaf. I can’t vouch for the Angelica, because, to be completely frank, I have no idea what it smells like. The Citrus and Violet Leaf, I can indeed recognise, and it’s a lovely light-as-air combination. The middle note is Orchid Flower, which mingles nicely with the Violet, keeping this feminine and light. Base notes include the following (according to Fragrantica) Orris Root, Musk, Vetiver, Oakmoss and Vanilla.

What I actually got was Musk and maybe some Oakmoss (probably not the real thing, especially at this price!), with just enough to keep it Green rather than too Sweet. Orris root and Vetiver were on vacation  every time I smelled this.

Dawn stays light and airy, like petals. The Ozonic description would usually put me off, but this is a lovely light blue airy scent that would make an ideal gift for a young teenager who didn’t want to drown in anything heavy. The Violet Leaf completely won me over.

My sample led me to purchase a full bottle, and that happens less often than you might think. Longevity is a bit of an issue, but I always get round that by spraying clothes and hair to carry the scent for longer.

This is  a wonderful airy start to a day, like a breeze coming through a window, and would be great for office wear. It’s lightness makes it very sociable. This is a corker of a bargain too and one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend if you like your scents breezy, light and feminine.

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Versace Baby Rose Jeans: As Seen On My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

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My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding on the UK’s Channel 4 is compulsive viewing. If you live outside the UK, it’s a reality show following Traveller families as they get married, usually aged 16 and usually in a dress that weighs about three times what they do. They have a unique style all of their own: Over The Top doesn’t begin to cover it. They make Alexis Carrington look unkempt. The dresses often cost tens of thousands of pounds, and  on the episode I saw, the skirt alone contained 500 metres of Imagechiffon. That’s half a kilometre. I’m not sure I can even swim as far as that. With wedding dresses that are too big to get down the aisle, and so painful on the hips they have to strap nappies underneath, you can imagine what my most pressing question was:

What perfume goes with that dress?

So, with the help of my trusty Pause button last week, my question was answered. Versace Baby Rose Jeans was seen on more than one Traveller counterpane. I immediately ordered some samples.

Initially, this is positively chaste in its innocent girlishness. It opens with Violets, Hyacinths, Freesias, Lily of the Valley and Roses. What could be prettier and more innocent? However, the drydown allows the dominant Vanilla to creep in, and that’s where it all goes wrong. The Vanilla cheapens the light-as-air petals and converts what could be a pretty and light floral, into something akin to discount bin babywipes. Cloying, fuzzy and overly sweet, the flowers are wrapped in a big pink Vanilla blankie and made to smell like a 99p shop.

Shame though. The floral notes contain some of my favourites. Take the vanilla out (PLEASE!) and I would consider wearing this.  Sadly, it has been ruined by it. Next time I buy babywipes, I will buy unfragranced, just in case they remind me of Baby Rose Jeans.

NB All photos by Channel 4 the makers of this addictive programme.

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Thierry Mugler Alien: Like Fireworks- Wonderful But Loud

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 Like Angel,  Thierry Mugler Alien has its fans and critics, although it must be said that Alien is not quite as divisive as Angel (see my earlier review about the Marmite of Perfumes). As for Mugler’s other big hitter, Womanity, let’s just move on, shall we? (I’m still offended by that stinking shock.)

The Alien bottle is critically acclaimed, and quite right too. Its blank faceless angles with slightly hunched shoulders has a unique strangeness.  I was initially put off from testing Alien after deciding that Angel wasn’t for me. However, I was going through an Amber phase and was attracted to the notes, so decided to order a few samples from eBay.

I was pleasantly surprised. It’s rather Christmassy and rich, and reminded me a bit of Church and incense. The Amber is LOUD and sweet, like a deaf Aunt with no dress sense, but likable all the same.

The notes are few: just Amber, Woods and Jasmine. You can smell all three, although Mugler does like to turn the volume up. The Wood notes smell like church pews permeated by the waft of a passing thurible. The jasmine is at its dirtiest, and the Amber sweetens it all up and smacks its bum to finish it off. Its Woody richness may stem from the fact that this is said to be aged in oak casks, like brandy.

Many people are averse to this, and I can understand why. It is the kind of perfume I cannot wear in great measure.  Nor should anyone wear it in close quarters to another human or animal before 5pm. It’s just not fair. Even if you have a cold and can’t smell it, trust me, one squirt is enough and will last a long time. I’m only talking about the Eau de Toilette here. If you have the Alien Essence Absolue Parfum Intense, then please don’t leave your house for Health and Safety reasons. You will have people keeling over in your wake like a Pied Piper gone wrong.

Alien is like hearing a love poem shouted through a megaphone. Pretty, yes, but turn it DOWN.

There are flankers aplenty, but I still rate this as the original and best.

PS Due to not wearing my glasses once, I ended up calling this Aileen by mistake and its rather fondly become a nickname.  Thierry Mugler Aileen.
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Andy Tauer No 14 Noontide Petals: From Noon to Sundown

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It’s taken me a few days to think about what I’m going to say about Andy Tauer’s latest release Noontide Petals. Not because I’m trying to be tactful, no need for that: It’s because it’s like nothing else I’ve smelled before.

It’s floral but not a floral. It’s spicy but not an Oriental, it is very Bergamot but is not a Hesperide. It has powder but it’s not a Chypre. You can see my problem.

It is very beautiful and lives up to its whimsical name. At first spray, whilst still wet, it’s strong Bergamot with Geraniums catching up. Then a blast of aldehydes. Now this bit confused me. Its clearly aldehydic but the last aldehyde I sniffed was Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass i.e the opposite side of the subtlety spectrum to Noontide Petals.

Tauer’s aldehydes emerge gradually, like Royalty getting out of a car, whilst Blue Grass jumps out of the bottle and bops you in the face. So I guess this taught me that aldehydes come in many forms, many of which I don’t yet know.

 Noontide Petals has a long top note, with the Bergamot staying true with a hint of clean soapy notes. However, what I love about this, and I may be alone in even thinking this, is that there is a lovely chalkiness to Noontide Petals. That same chalkiness made me fall in love with Balmain Jolie Madame, which to my nose smells of damp moss and chalky cliffs (I adore it and bought a full 100ml bottle) Noontide Petals has that same faint chalkiness, which makes the Bergamot, so often used in more astringent style fragrances, into a powdery soft citrus.

It’s around this point that the flowers turn up: the Jasmine, the Ylang Ylang and the Roses. Petals indeed: they bring prettiness and a background aroma rather than taking over.

And finally, the closing act! The clever evening stage of Frankincense (often known as Olibanum), Styrax and Patchouli. It’s worth waiting for, and has an incense style spice, rather than gourmand, with a hint of High Church and a dash of something spiky.

As usual with a Tauer fragrance, it lasts and lasts. Twelve hours so far. It’s a perfume that can take you from night to day, like a good black dress. It starts all delicate and pretty, then gets deeper and more mysterious by the time the sun goes down.

A bit like me. (*cough*)

Noontide Petals can be purchased from the Tauer website or Les Senteurs. My sample is so strong that it has lasted me three days and is still half full. Top marks for longevity.

LUSH Gorilla Perfume: Smell of Weather Turning

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Launched in 2011, Smell of Weather Turning is no Rent a Scent High Street number. It doesn’t really even make you smell pretty. It’s unisex, and not particularly feminine. There’s Mint in it too, which usually makes me think of discarded chewing gum.

It sounds like I’m not really selling it, doesn’t it? But I love it.  I love it so much I want to have a song played for it on the radio and send it a Valentine’s Day card. I want to write its name on my pencil case and have a poster of it on my bedroom wall.

Smell of Weather Turning  is the kind of perfume that fills my head with imagery both beautiful and ominous. It’s so cleverly put together it’s like watching a film clip using just your nose. First you have the smell of Hay and Grass and a Hedgerow (hence the Honey and Wild Mint notes). Then…here it comes, the weather turns and you can smell Asphalt and Tarmac and fresh air. The drydown smells slightly medicinal with a hint of Creosote, which is probably what put me in mind of Lonestar Memories. Longevity is very good, though the top notes are so wonderful I had to hold off spraying the sample several times just to revisit them.

 Smell of Weather Turning is beautiful and clever and makes me think of huge landscapes with rolling thunderclouds and hot pavements. Its refreshing rather than smoggy. It’s like fresh air and elements. It’s like having a spell in your handbag. It’s British Weather in a bottle. This should be standard issue to homesick ex pats all over the world.

It’s not pretty, but it is magical and wondrous and tells an epic tale.

I’m in love.