Tag Archives: Perfumes The Guide

Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose and Gardenia

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I first tried Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose and Gardenia (Phew!, can we call it ELPCTG instead?) about a year ago when I wasn’t close friends with Tuberose. I found it too creamy and cloying and dismissed it as Not My Thing.

However, the last year of blogging and discovery has been an education for me and now that I appreciate both Tuberose and Gardenia, I regard this fragrance as something of a modern masterpiece.

mgonline.com
mgonline.com

It sounds simple enough: just those two leading stars named in the title, but this is so much more than a double act.

First off, Jasmine plays a part in the immediate radiance, but Lilac opens with a solo.  There is a dawn-like morning petal feeling to the bright opening and it’s only after that little showcase that the Tuberose and Gardenia step in and do their number. The genius of this is in the blending.  Gardenia never seems to hang about long, but the Tuberose seems to anchor it.  Tuberose on its own can be creamy and rich, almost to the point of smelling medicinal, but the Gardenia brings out the best in it and calms it down, like a kind friend with a loud drunk.

This not only has big sillage, but is radiant from the first squoosh. Longevity is excellent. It’s still on my arm six hours later and quite comfortably too, in no danger of fading fast. In Perfumes The Guide, Luca Turin, a big fan of ELPCTG, says that both Gardenia and Tuberose are “better sprayed on fabric” and judging by the incredibly lovely scent coming from my coat sleeve, he is right. It’s great on skin, but lasts and lingers on fabric like a dream.

This is a modern classic.  It’s widely available: I found today’s bottle in my local House of Fraser, but as far as High Street perfumes go, this knocks spots off the rest of them. The price is a little steeper than average, but considering the sillage, quality, longevity and the fact that a little goes a very long way, I still call it good value at under £60 for 30ml.  Even a small bottle would last me a very long time. Impossibly pretty, this would make a great wedding day perfume or even an anniversary present*.

*(if you’re reading this darling, it’s only three weeks away, hint, hint).

Rochas Tocade: Like Seeing An Old Friend

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 I wore Rochas Tocade back in my twenties and cannot remember now why I only bought one bottle, since I am very fond of it.  I have been wearing a sample today and have been enveloped in a warm, comforting aura.

Rochas Tocade is a cosy, daytime perfume full of vanilla, but it nicely sidesteps being a gourmand with its roses and amber taking the foodie edge off it.  Whilst being warm, I wouldn’t call it spicy.  Whilst being rich, I wouldn’t call it an evening scent, though it would work well as one.

We can deconstruct Tocade and it’s beautiful playful bottle, but it’s one of those perfumes that is so memorable that when you know it and smell it you just say “Oh Tocade!” rather than “Oh an interesting vanilla/rose daytime perfume”

The following notes are in it:  rose, sandalwood, magnolia, lily of the valley, freesia, iris and jasmine.  However, this never seems to be a floral on me.  The flowers just provide a backdrop in the distance. This is vanilla all the way, with an undercurrent of amber  and silky aromatic sandalwood as it settles on your skin.

Longevity is great: about nine hours.  The price is excellent too. Less than 40GBP for 100ml.  I don’t normally like too much vanilla, but for this I make an exception.  Even Luca Turin likes it.  Rochas Tocade is a modern, quietly classic marvel.

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Estee Lauder Modern Muse: A New Launch I Love

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It’s finally happened. A new fragrance has been launched that I love. There wasn’t even a free tote bag to bribe me with. My sample was free from the lovely lady at my local Estee Lauder concession. No obligation to write a nice review, but I will because I love it. (I may have accidentally agreed to a makeover in order to get the sample, however).

I do apologise if I have been sounding like a grumpy old lady when it comes to new launches of late. Muttering away about everything smelling the same and too much vanilla, and too much fruit, and then finally…a miracle! Estee Lauder Modern Muse has only a touch of citrus orange to its name. No red berries. No candy floss, no discernible vanilla, and no overloaded sugary Baby Angel finish.

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fragrantica.com

For every person that thinks new launches are either a Britney or an Angel homage (i.e me), there are equally those who think many new launches are copies of the much revered Narciso Rodriguez For Her. Modern Muse could be accused of such. Indeed, there are many Fragrantica users who vote that it smells like NR for Her.

However, as much as I love fragrances in the style of NR for Her (SJP Lovely is a permafixture on my dressing table), I feel it would be unfair to simply label Modern Muse as a smellalike. It is in fact, only the base notes which hold any similarity to NR for Her.

Modern Muse opens with clean Petals, Jasmine (in spades) and Tuberose. It is a bouquet of a smell, prevented from being too cloying with a spritz of orange in there somewhere. The middle notes retain the Jasmine and Tuberose, but are now turning woodier as the Patchouli starts to gradually make its present felt.

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pfaf.org

The basenotes are a wonderful mix of Patchouli, Wood, Musk and Tuberose. It’s at this point that I feel it must be said that whilst the Musky Patchouli base has much in common with NR for Her, the flowers make Modern Muse, dare I say it, a cut above.

Impossibly feminine, with good longevity and arms’ length sillage, this is a great buy and an important launch.

Estee Lauder still remains, in my eyes, the best quality fragrance you can buy on the High Street. Among all the ubiquitous brands and newbies and celebuscents, Estee Lauder can still provide accessible classics such as Cinnabar, Youth Dew, Private Collection , Alliage, White Linen and Pleasures.  Modern Muse can stand alongside the EL greats without a blush.

 

Miller Harris Citron Citron: A Citrus With Staying Power

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 The problem with most citrus scents is that they start all zingy and end up a bit sour and depleted, like a dried up orange. Take Guerlain Pamplelune for instance. Regarded by many as a citrus masterpiece, but many reviewers report a gone off note or a BO note in the drydown.

Miller Harris Citron Citron stays citrussy to the very end. It was Lyn Harris’s first ever offering, and whilst I love it, Luca Turin does not, preferring the more recent Fleurs de Sel which I reviewed earlier in my blog.

My first thought on trying Citron Citron was that it was almost exactly the same as Biotherm Eau Vitaminee, which to my nose, is a Tropicana Orange Juice soliflore. However, Citron Citron, whilst staying true to its orange openings, dries down into a pretty and  light citrus, as delicate as a shower of petals.

Once the thirst quenching orange, lime and lemon zest has calmed down a little, in its place sits Basil and a lighter touch of Mint. This smelled floral to me, with a light prettiness that I could have sworn came from petals and Peony. Apparently not, although woody Oakmoss and Cedar are listed.  Personally, I didn’t find that this went Woody or Mossy in the drydwon as other citrus scents do: I’m thinking of Cristalle with its  beautiful Woody drydown, and O de Lancome with its mossy basenotes.

 Citron Citron stays light and pretty and harmless. It would make an ideal office perfume since its lightness is its strength. Our friend Luca Turin states his opinion in Perfumes The Guide:” (An) antiseptic-smelling citrus that lazy teenagers can spray around the kitchen to convince Mon and Dad they’ve done their chores”.

But I disagree. This is light, pretty and clean smelling and stays true to its opening.  As citruses go, this is nicer than Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca (not so Mint heavy) and Guerlain Pamplelune (No dried up Grapefruit rind at the end).

This may well be a full bottle worth saving for, although prices are fair at £65 for 50ml, and lasting power makes this good value.

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Hermes Hermessences Paprika Brasil: Another Perfect Symphony from Jean Claude Ellena

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 At first I read the label on this elegant 5ml sample as “Paprika Basil” and thought, “Do I really want smell like a Chicken Thigh?” I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not only was it “Paprika Brasil (put your glasses on woman!), but it was made by Jean Claude Ellena, and is up to his usual high standard. He also makes one of my favourite fragrances : the beautiful ever changing First By Van Cleef and Arpels ( see my earlier review).

I would never, ever have considered Paprika as an ingredient in perfume but he makes it work so beautifully that I can’t believe it’s not done more often. There is Iris at first, but a pleasant, sweet variety, rather than the earthy rooty horror that I sometimes encounter. I also thought I could smell Violets, but I am partly mistaken. It’s actually Mignonette:  a “very sweet-smelling and pleasant Mediterranean flower with violet-like and fruity nuances” (Fragrantica)

The Paprika itself does not make itself known immediately, it emerges as a crisp line of spice surrounding the blooming pretty Violet and Iris. Imagine a sparkling clear pool of Violets with a crisp red edging. There are Cloves too, and Green notes and Woods.  When the violets have left only a sweet trail in their mist, I am left with  spiky, peppery scent of beautiful Rosewood.  It’s bold and clever, but the balance is just right, as always with JC.

Luca Turin however, damns it with faint praise in Perfumes The GuideThe pepper-peppers accord works fine, but it does not sustain interest and ends up smelling like the capsicum off note in cheap Graves wine”.

LT gives it two stars.  I’d give it four. But that’s just me.

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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Thierry Mugler Angel: The Marmite of Perfumes

angel naomi Non UK readers may be unaware that Marmite spread has a love/hate ad campaign. There’s no middle ground. You either love Marmite or you hate it. Thierry Mugler Angel is the same.  Angel’s critics are as vehement as its fans.  In the perfume industry however, it is regarded as a masterpiece.  Even hard to please Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez gave it five stars in Perfumes The Guide.

In 2007, Angel was the recipient of the FiFi Hall of Fame Award, an accolade not given lightly. Sales show no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Its creator, Olivier Cresp, will be remembered more for Angel than he will for the rest of his illustrious back catalogue, which is outstanding even without the success of Angel.

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So why the hate? Well, it’s strong. It’s uncompromising. It doesn’t disappear after ten minutes and it has sillage that could floor a man at twenty paces. It is a Gourmand Patchouli of all things i.e spiky but chocolately. Caramel and Vanilla with prickles. Gourmand smells alongside Patchouli confuse my palate and make me feel like I am eating perfume or snorting food. Sensory confusion is not my thing. (I will  make an exception for Coromandel, see my earlier review)

So why the love? See above: strong, uncompromising, doesn’t disappear after ten minutes… Some people say that Angel trod the path for the popularity of Gourmands. In fact, Fragrantica lists no fewer than 24 notes for Angel, including Bergamot, Peach, Lily of the Valley, Jasmine, Melon, Roses and Blackberries- not one of which I angel flashcould detect.

When I first tried it shortly after its debut in 1992 (in the Harrods Perfume Hall no less, get me!), the displays were huge. It was the Next Big Thing. Jerry Hall, model du jour in ’92, made it her signature scent and mentioned it in all her interviews.  Everybody wanted it. Every magazine carried the ads for it.

I tried it on my wrist and walked away to consider it. What did I get? Chocolate and… Talc? Cologne? In hindsight I know it was Patchouli but did not identify it back then as a 22 year old.

I tried again a few months later: Chocolate and Caramel. I tried again no less than twenty years later. It still made me smell as if I had just finished my shift on the production line in a Thornton’s Chocolate Factory.  Big thumbs down.  And yet I regularly walk through clouds of this in pubs, on High Streets and in restaurants. I can recognise it from a mile off. Millions of women love Angel, but I’m not one of them. My husband, on smelling this, grimaced and said “Eurgh, that’s what the train smells like in the morning”.

There comes a time in life when you realise that you are outnumbered by the number of people who disagree with you and so it may well be you who is in the wrong.  However, in fragrance, as I have said before, there is no right or wrong, only your response. So my response is not wrong- I cannot bear this!  The vast cohorts of Angel fans tells me that others see this rather differently.  Its success, and the admiration of its peers, tell me that its apologists are not wrong either.   As for me: well, I don’t “get” Angel.  It’s as if the joke’s on me

angel smallIf you love this, good luck to you. If you don’t, that’s OK too.  However, I have yet to meet anyone who stands in the No Mans Land between the two camps and just says “it’s not bad, I wear it sometimes, it’s OK”.  And that, my fragrant friends, is why I call it Marmite. I would never, ever spend money on a bottle of  Thierry Mugler Angel.  And for every woman like me, there is another who swears by it and who would never, ever let herself run out of it.

EDIT: Since writing this I have become secretly obsessed with Angel and wear little samples of it around the house.  We’re definitely on flirtation terms now.  Never say never.

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J’Adore Dior: Smooth and Golden

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Dior J’Adore has become synonymous with its high octane glamorous campaign fronted by Charlize Theron in all her golden glory. From wading through a  pool of molten gold to strutting her stuff through a fashion show, it’s super glamorous, super feminine,  super elegant.

But is it all image or does this fragrance put its money where its mouth is?  Just because it has a famous name behind it doesn’t mean it’s going to smell good (I’m talking to you Champs Elysées!)

This is one for fans of soft powdery floral fragrances. Whilst I am a frequent critic of fruity florals, when it’s done well, as it is here, it can be a great combination when not churned out on the cheap. There is none of that watery cheapness about silky smooth J’Adore. Top notes include Melon, Peach, Pear and Mandarin. Whilst this may sound like a Carmen Miranda overload, it is in fact the Pear that dominates whilst the other fruit notes blend together well, rather than shout out separately.  This is beautifully made.

However, it’s the floral notes that really take over and to me this is a soapy, powdery Tuberose scent. I’m not usually a fan of Tuberose, although it’s growing on me, but this has been tempered with Jasmine, Violets and Freesia so it doesn’t take over like a drunken guest at a dinner party, like it so often can. It’s Tuberose with the volume down low, being made to share the floor with its cousins and allowed to only whisper for a change, instead of shouting.

Base notes are silky and smooth, allegedly with Blackberry and Cedar, but I just get muted Tuberose, Lily of The Valley and a hint of feathery Musk to soften it.  It’s rich, not watery, soft, not loud, and velvety rather than astringent. All in all, it’s a good buy with no sign of dying out soon.

J’Adore was created in 1999 by Calice Becker, the nose behind the celebrated Estee Lauder fragrance Beyond Paradise, which was given five stars by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez in Perfumes The Guide.  (J’Adore only gets three!) At £89 for 100ml, try before you buy. It’s worth remembering that my taste may not be yours.