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My Top Ten Autumn Fragrances 2017

Photo of the Forest of Dean Gloucestershire, taken by me.

It’s with reluctance that I put away my eau fraiche bottles and my sandals and my sunglasses. They didn’t get used much this “summer”, which I believe fell on a Tuesday here in Wales.

Being pale and slightly on the gingery side, I far prefer the cool weather to the hot, so I’m very comfortable in Autumn and the colours of the changing trees have me in raptures.

Photo of my home town Cwmbran, taken by me

When it comes to choosing Autumn fragrance, I don’t just like to go for the warm spices, I like to go for the aldehydes, deep vanillas and the chypres too.  I love the fact that the cold air brings out the best in some fragrances that might just be a bit much in the heat.  In fact, I thought it was high time I did a list of the fragrances I like best in Autumn.

My list below is in no particular order because putting them in order of preference would be impossible. I would happily go through gallons of all ten of these and would find it impossible to choose a favourite.

4160 Tuesdays Eau My Soul

My most recent review and a real treat.  This is the first ever truly democratic fragrance with each note being voted for by members of Facebook group Eau My Soul and used in accordance with its popularity.  It does help of course if the person making it is genius perfumer Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays. This is a sandalwood, incense-y, citrussy, floral delight.  But don’t take my word for it. Order your Sample now.

Photo by Thomas Dunckley for Papillon Perfumery

 Papillon Dryad

Papillon Dryad is the creation of the uber talented Liz Moores and was born in the heart of New Forest among trees. It is THE mossy green chypre I have been searching for. You may think a scent as green as this belongs in spring, but trust me when I tell you chypres are sensational in cool weather. You can buy Papillon Dryad from here and read my review here.

 

Le Jardin Retrouvé Cuir Russie

Le Jardin Retrouvé is a wonderful brand with a touching backstory. The perfumer Yuri Gutsatz sadly passed away in 2005, having created a collection of wonderful niche fragrances.  His son Michel has revided the brand and carried the family torch into the Twenteens and thank goodness he did. Although I had smelled and enjoyed a sample of Cuir Russie, it wasn’t until I entered a room in which  perfume writer Stephan Matthews was wearing it that I realised how many nuances this beautiful leather scent has. All the fragrances in the collection are excellent and the dreamy ethereal artwork by artist Clara Feder adds a unique whimsy and beauty. You can buy it from here and read my review of the whole collection here.

First by Van Cleef and Arpels

First is the nearest thing I have to a signature scent. It’s a long-lasting floral aldehyde created in 1977 that unfurls its notes in layerss as you wear it.  I’m completely smitten and have nearly emptied my 60ml EDP bottle. Can’t live without this one. You can read my review here and buy it from here. 

Firedance by Ruth Mastenbroek

You may recall my recent review of perfumer Ruth Mastenbroek’s fourth fragrance, Firedance. With big notes of rose, leather and oud, Firedance is a beautifully blended Damask rose scent that has incredible longevity and is perfect for Autumn.  Wearing these feels both cosy and celebratory,  like being wrapped in a warm blanket whilst fireworks go off.  I love it. You can buy it from here.

SJP Stash

Sarah Jessica Parker is the range I point people towards if they ever tell me they don’t “do” celebrity scents. With the enthusiasm of a true fume head, SJP knows her perfume like Carrie Bradshaw knew shoes. Stash is a unisex, woody, sandalwood, incense fragrance that is mature and audacious. You can buy it from Superdrug. 

DSH Chinchilla

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has this knack of creating modern perfume that make you think you have just prized the lid off an unopened chypre from 1920. How she gets them to smell vintage is beyond me, but she does it beautifully. Chinchilla evokes fur stoles, glamour, cigarette holders, and opera gloves. It is a superb example of a classic chypre. You can buy DSH fragrances from the website here and read my review of Chinchilla here.

Marina Barcenilla India

The multi-talented Marina Barcenilla is a gifted natural perfumer who has won not one, but two coveted Fragrance Foundation Awards (or Fifis).  India has sandalwood and tuberose and roses all in one stunning Autumnal scent that radiates from skin and gives a good eleven hours longevity.  I also have the rollerball skin oil, which also makes your skin smell incredible, as well as leaving it silky soft. You can buy MB Parfums from the website here and read my review of India here.

Tauerville Amber Flash

The  delightful Andy Tauer has branched out into a wider reaching and more affordable range of fragrances under the umbrella name of the Tauerville Flash series.  Not that his usual scents are overpriced- they’re worth every penny.  I loved Amber Flash and reviewed it here. It is as it sounds, but so much more too. It gives off a cosy warmth and a heat that is just perfect in cold weather (and of course, unisex). You can buyTauerville scents here.

 

Aftelier Amber Tapestry

Somewhere in Berkeley California, Mandy Aftel mixes and measures until her natural fragrances are just right.  Amber Tapestry is the perfect name for this.  The fragrance opens with orange flower and gets warmer and more resinous as it unfurls its layers on your skin. Ending with a long lasting base of resinous, leathery vanilla, Amber Tapestry is just what I want to wrap myself in when its dark outside. You can buy Amber Tapestry from Aftelier.com and read my review here.

Over to you

How about you? What do you reach for in Autumn? ambers? vanilla? chypres? or something completely unexpected? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

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Avon Femme Exclusive: With Extra Vanilla!

Avon Femme Exclusive is one of three fragrances in the Avon Femme range. I’ve already reviewed Avon Femme and Avon Femme Icon, so here’s my review of Avon Femme Exclusive.

Avon Femme Exclusive opens with pear. I also detected some plum as well: this is deeply, darkly fruity. .  The jasmine in the middle comes out at pretty much the same time as the pear and makes for a pear jasmine combo that, whilst not particularly original, certainly runs with the pack and is bezzie mates with the popular set.  To be honest, the pear dominates so all the others notes tend to fall into the background, except for vanilla. It says here that there is black vanilla in this, but that’s sort of corporate speak for extra strong evening style vanilla. In fact the vanilla is not my favourite boozy liquor vanilla, it’s more of a milky vanilla, and alongside the pear, I couldn’t help thinking of pear, pastry and custard. There’s just enough jasmine to stop me thinking this is pudding flavour.

All in all, this will do the job nicely and is priced affordably. It does smell very similar to Avon Luck (all the vanilla), so if you like that, you’ll like this.  It’s not my favourite, but there’s certainly a fan base out there for this bargain.

Stockists

Avon Femme Exclusive is available from Avon UK or from your Avon rep if you are lucky enough to have one. My little purse spray was just £3, and it’s a great way of living with a scent for a bit before deciding to get a big bottle. Viva purse sprays!

 

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A Flanker with a Difference: Lancôme La Vie est Belle L’Eclat EDP

Lancôme La Vie est Belle needs no introduction. Since its launch in 2013, its success has gone orbital, leaving trails of imitators quivering in its wake.  Its army of flankers shows no sign of slowing the pace either.  Until now, they have all escaped my radar, but the one I tried today stopped me in my tracks.  Yes, I nearly walked past it, thinking “Really Lancôme? Another one?” but  once I sprayed the gorgeous bottle, this grumpy cynic  was silenced.

Let’s start with the irresistibly touchy feely faceted glass bottle. It’s impossible not to run your fingers over it.  It’s a delight to fiddle about with and it looks good too.  Apart from that, the display in Boots looked the same as the usual LVEB displays. But what’s this? I thought at first spray. This is pretty good.

The original La Vie est Belle

LVEB L’Eclat immediately reminded me of something  I’d smelled before and I couldn’t put my finger on it until about twenty minutes later. It was then that I realised that it reminded me of Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial. Indeed, it has more in common with Parfum Initial than it does with La Vie est Belle.

The opening note is bergamot which immediately clings to the pretty orange blossom and “white flowers.” Fragrantica doesn’t elaborate but I’m calling jasmine.  I couldn’t pick out any tuberose, but the orange blossom is definitely in there.

from Lancome UK

Now, around this point, I was waiting for the heavy praline fountain to drown out the pretty notes like a Nutella Tsunami. Although this is what I like least about  the original LVEB, it seems to be the bit that many fans like best.  However, the praline never came.  Instead, I was rewarded with a base of rather delicate sandalwood and a silky flourish of buttery vanilla. There’s no praline. There’s no patchouli. There’s just citrus, white flowers, and subtle vanilla.

Fragrantica

The vanilla, it must be said, is delicious. It has heart and warmth with none of the vibe of an overfull bowl of sickly frosting that it can sometimes have. It ends on vanilla and stays with vanilla, which does make it more gourmand than floral, but La Vie est Belle L’Éclat has restraint.  I probably wouldn’t buy a full bottle, but it’s the LVEB flanker that I thus far like best. Bravo and 10/10 for the divine bottle.

Stockists

You can buy Lancôme La Vie est Belle L’Eclat EDP from Boots UK, and from the Lancome UK and Lancome USA websites.

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Three Things I Love About Bronnley Zealous Flower

In the past, Bronnley has had a reputation as being a classic floral brand that “older” ladies liked.  Personally, I’ve always loved classic florals and soaps in wrappers so it’s never stopped me.  However,  the upcoming bright young things of the Twenteens are a capricious bunch with more choices than any other generation that has ever lived.  Brands have to move with the times.

Bronnley has not only moved with the times but added a bit of an edge that is putting them firmly on my list of favourites. Their collection of Eclectic Elements fragrances is packaged for a new generation, but pleases this 47 year old no end.

Today I am wearing Bronnley Eclectic Elements Zealous Flower and I love it. Why do I love it? Well, that’s easy.

  1. It comes in an adorable roll on bottle. (more about roller balls soon because I’m obsessed).
  2. It’s available in a 9ml version so you can live with it for a good few weeks before buying a big one.
  3. It’s inexpensive but doesn’t smell like it is.

Here’s what it smells like:

It opens with pear, orange and bergamot. Now pear has been used A LOT in the past two years, to the point where I pull non-selfie faces when I smell it.

However, in Zealous Flower, it’s the flowers that come out first, not the fruit.  In fact the fruit adds clean edges to the roses and jasmine, which are BIG.  Even the pear knows its place and doesn’t take over.

It must be said that there was briefly a pencil shavings phase which came and went, before the vetiver and amber rounded things off. They never quite see off the jasmine though, which remains the main player here. In fact, at first, I thought this had tuberose in it, such is the white flower richness.

Zealous Flower leaves me with a pleasing autumnal floral on my skin. What I’m left with is a very agreeable accord of vetiver, jasmine, hints of leathery labdanum flower, and some faded roses.

Now, about that adorable roller ball. This has a little metal rollerball that applies just the right amount to skin and stops you going overboard before a day at work. The rollerball version comes in an attractive narrow box in 9ml size and is a good compromise between a big bottle blind buy and having to judge it on a few sprays from a tester. I want more brands to do this.

Zealous Flower is or has also been known as Savage Flower, but I prefer Zealous to Savage.

Stockists

You can buy the Bronnley Eclectic Elements range from Boots in store or online.  The rollerballs cost £10 and contain 9ml of scent.  You can also buy this cute set of whole range minis for £20 from the Bronnley website. My rollerball bottle was kindly provided by Bronnley in return for an honest review, which mine is. This is not a sponsored post. 
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Gucci Gucci Bloom by Alberto Morillas: A Floribundance

Harrods

Today, when out and about and at large,  I tried Gucci Bloom.  Reader, I may well be back on speaking terms with Gucci again.  You may recall that we’ve been to marriage counselling because I couldn’t forgive them for ending my beloved Gucci Envy, but  our Italian friends may be creeping back onto my Christmas Card list after this little treasure.

I do love a good blast of tuberose. The bigger the better, as far as I’m concerned, so Gucci Bloom was right up my street.  I had no expectations and  I had read no reviews.  I’m going through a bit of floral phase lately so thought I’d give myself a good soaking with the tester en passant..

My first impression was that I had stumbled across a cheaper version of my beloved Kilian Good Girl Gone Bad, which I fell in love with in London last July.  Both fragrances are rich, thick, creamy tuberose with that green soapiness that I adore.  Both scents dance around the periphery of celery territory- which tuberose can sometimes topple into, but both hold back and keep their waxen petals and lily like stalks intact.

Funnily enough, the nose behind Gucci Bloom is Alberto Morillas, who incidentally also made  the flanker By Kilian Good Girl Gone Bad Extreme .  He certainly knows how to handle his tuberose.

Alongside my beloved there is also jasmine sambac, which has had short shrift from me lately having been every-bleedin-where , but which nestles in snugly among its own kind in this white flower fest.  Really, jasmine sambac is so much nicer when not paired with pears, patch and vanilla. It has featured far too often in this year’s Eau de Generic.

Also present in Gucci Bloom is orris root and honeysuckle.  I didn’t think there was orris root in it at all until I noticed that everyone I walked past today smelled vaguely of iris and I realised it must be me, my coat, my wrist, my neck and I.  The honeysuckle is pretty and light and made me think of butterflies. It feels like exactly the right note to use alongside all this ladylike headiness.

All in all, I adored Gucci Bloom and want to pour a bottle over my head so I smell of it forever.  I still miss Gucci Envy, but this is a pretty decent apology.

Over to you

How about you? Have you tried Gucci Bloom? Do you like tuberose as a note in fragrance? Do let me know.  I always love to hear from you.

Stockists

You can buy Gucci Bloom from The Fragrance Shop, Harrods or Escentual.

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Jean Paul Gaultier Scandal: Here’s the Dish

Before we start, I just want  to say how much I love Jean Paul Gaultier.  I love the twinkle in his eye and how he has never taken himself too seriously. He has fun with fashion and is never afraid to put it out there.

From TheMirror.co.uk

When Scandal came along, I thought “this should be good”. After all, this was the designer who made a perfume bottle snow shaker for us to play with and who gave Madonna rocket boobs.  I still love him from his Eurotrash days with Antoine de Caunes.  It was the perfect 1990s post pub TV show,  and best accompanied by a bowl of Supernoodles and some Alka Seltzer.

Ok, I’ll shut up now and tell you what the fragrance is like, shall I? The notes are blood orange, honey, gardenia and patchouli. The blood orange came and went.  I barely noticed the gardenia.  In fact, the first half hour was a JPG Classique moment for me.  There were accent s of it poking through: that unmistakable nail polish/face powder combination  that’s so original and almost exaggeratedly ladylike.  That phase didn’t last long enough for my liking, and was shortly replaced with some kind of syrupy vanilla sundae with synthetic and unremarkable patchouli.  So far, so what.

However, then a great big dollop of honey comes along and plonks itself in the middle. Now to me, honey is a kind of sexy smell. It smells like dried spit, which can either mean your pillow needs washing or you’ve just had a massive snog.  I like it in small doses, preferring the massive snog to the dirty pillow.  In Scandal, it was a redeeming feature.

Unfortunately, the overall lasting effect of Scandal is that of a Lancôme La Vie est Belle flanker. I couldn’t tell you which one because there are eleventy billion of them, but if I had smelled this blind, I would have hazarded a guess that this was La Vie est Belle Honey Summer Blah Blah or whatever it might be called.

There has been a popular generic confectionary/patchouli accord hanging around since 2013 when LVEB launched.  It has infiltrated way too many fragrances for my taste,  although sales figures  disagree with me.  On the other hand, if that’s what’s selling and if consumers are voting with their perfume dollar, then it would be foolish not to capitalise on it.  I’ll just have to sit a few launches out until my stuff comes along. That will happen when green mossy chypres and seventies aldehydes make a come back on the High Street. Oh well. I’m in for a long wait.

By the way, the bottle reminds me of a much earlier fragrance by Revlon called Head Over Heels. It doesn’t make the bottle any less fun, but  neither did it make this curmudgeon gasp at the originality of it.

Meanwhile, enjoy the still-fabulous-anyway bottle that has the typical wink of JPG humour about it. It makes me think of someone falling backwards into a taxi at 3 am.  Ah!   How I mourn my lost youth.

Stockists

Jean Paul Gaultier Scandal is available from The Fragrance Shop, Sephora, Duty Free shops and Escentual to name but a few.

Further Reading

Check out The Candy Perfume Boy’s take on Scandal.  Thomas writes brilliantly, as per.  Dammit.

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Unbelievably Good (and Cheap!) : Yves Rocher Vanille Bourbon

Have you ever tried an inexpensive perfume that was so good you thought you’d been undercharged? That’s how I felt when my little Yves Rocher consignment arrived recently. Tucked away on the website is a small selection of excellent 20ml scents that cost me only £4 a bottle. Vanille Bourbon was one of them and all I can say is Crikey Moses, this is good stuff.

Now vanilla, as you know, can smell like cheap candles  or like delicious buttery boozy liqueur that makes you want to swoon. You have to try a lot of bottles to find the latter and this one falls into that category.

Despite being an eau de toilette, Vanille Bourbon lasted ages on my skin and I was getting delightful wafts up to five hours later when I found myself sniffing the air and saying “mm, someone smells nice,” realising later that it was me.  I was the someone.

The only note listed for this fragrance is vanilla, but that’s a wide net.  This has facets of woods, soft musk, some unidentifiable floral notes, and an edge of smoky toasted sugar, like the singed edges of a Crème Caramel.  For a fleeting second, it smelled like spiced whisky, but overall, I would call this a milky, musky, floral and a very, very rich (kazillionaire) vanilla. It’s as satisfying as a mouthful of good crème brûlée and cost me a mere £4. Yes, I had change from a fiver. Well, I would have if I hadn’t bought four others in the range, more of which anon.

Yves Rocher Vanilla Bourbon is fantastic value and a dream of a vanilla scent. Not a cheap candle in sight.

Stockists

Yves Rocher Vanilla Bourbon 20ml EDT is only £4 from the Yves Rocher UK website. I won’t be parted from mine.

 

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Yves Rocher Oui a L’Amour: I say OUI

Yves Rocher is a trusty brand that’s been going strong since 1959. Although there are no branches in the UK, they have a good UK mail order service and send you freebies and extras every time you order. I just ordered 6 x 20ml bottles of fragrances that I will be reviewing soon, but as a bonus, I was also sent a 10ml bottle of latest launch Oui a L’Amour.  This may have been a freebie, or it may have been a blogger perk. I’m not sure. Not to worry. Free perfume is never turned away!

Oui a L’Amour is a simple affair.  It opens with herby Angelica.  If I said this was a herby sort of rose scent you might expect something botanical and green, but actually the Angelica is plump and juicy like a cactus.  It’s neither sweet nor sharp but somewhere in the middle. In fact, when I first smelled this I wanted to call it a fruity floral even though I could see that it wasn’t.

After the Angelica comes the rose and it’s very prominent and beautiful with clean, powdery facets.  After that comes tonka bean (kind of like nutty dried grass) which I mistook for vanilla, and not for the first time. There’s cedar in the base, which comes across as slightly tangy and almost citrussy.

Tie all that together and what have we got? A very clean rose fragrance with touches of juicy garden leaves and a sharp woody finish.

It smells clean and light and very feminine. It’s perfect for work and passes the commuter and the office test with flying colours.

There’s no sickly syrup, no big, rich jasmine overtaking anything,, and none of the usual rent-a-scent suspects that I have come across so often lately.

I say oui to Oui a L’Amour.

Stockists

You can buy Oui a L’Amour from Yves Rocher UK, Yves Rocher.Fr   Extra thumbs up for selling affordable 10ml purse sprays. Opinions are my own.

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Firedance: The New Fragrance from Ruth Mastenbroek 2017

Rejoicing in each moment of contentment in life. In Firedance, Ruth presents a scorching, modern interpretation of the classic rose perfume, as exotic leather dances in surprise harmony with the main character – smouldering Damask rose. Set against a warming backdrop of oudh and patchouli, a shining amber note radiates from the skin in this memorably intimate and sexy perfume.

Today is the day that Ruth Mastenbroek launches the fourth fragrance in her collection: Firedance.  Ruth is an experienced nose who has worked behind the scenes in the industry for fourdecades before going solo in 2010 with her first scent, aptly named RM Signature.  You can read my review here. After that came the wonderful Amorosa, followed by Oxford. Now the trio becomes a quartet, with the arrival of Firedance.  Ruth has also redesigned the brand to reflect that every drop tells a story and using a palette of black and gold, these new designs reminded me of the original illustrations to Grimm’s fairytales ( see pic and you’ll know what I mean).

So was Firedance worth the wait and is it a worthy member of this scented quartet? Absolutely. Here’s why.

Now, first of all, this is a rose/oud/leather fragrance. We all know that rose and oud and rose and leather have been done before, but dear reader, not like this.  The leather and oud is there, of course, but the first thing I noticed about Firedance was the rich, dusky Damask rose and then, would you believe it? Carnations.  In the same way that Serge Lutens Vitriol D’oeillet made me sit up and take notice, Firedance stopped me in my tracks.   A drop of clove oil is the culprit, and whilst it doesn’t dominate, it adds a wonderful peppery spicy addition to proceedings.

This is me with my treasured bottle from Ruth.

I composed Firedance to capture those special moments that make me appreciate what I have.- Ruth Mastenbroek

For full disclosure, I’m not really a big oud fan (there, I’ve said it), but the oud here smells different. It doesn’t take over but still makes a contribution.  In fact, it adds a kind of fruity earthy accord that makes the rose more robust. It seems to blend seamlessly with the amber to make a sort of amber-oud or oud-amber. The amber takes the edges off it.

To me, it adds layers and makes this a sort of 4D rose, with petals that have crisped through age, like dusty pot pourri, whilst still having plump satiny petals in the centre. My nose also picked up little facets of powder, which always makes me think of a 1950s dressing table. I often find this with rose, whether the powdery note is deliberate or not.

Ruth Mastenbroek. Photo from Twitter

There is a  measured heat and an autumnal feel to Firedance, which makes this a very appropriate launch for the first day of Autumn.  This is rose with warmth, earthiness, spice and the kind of longevity that lingers on your pillow when you wake up the next day.  It’s not cheap, but it is very good value.   Ruth makes it herself. There’s no committee, no big factory, no billboard marketing. You’re paying for the ingredients and the expertise of a perfumer with  four decades of skill and experience.

Firedance is a stand out earthy, dusty rose that’s not quite on the turn, not quite over. This is the perfect farewell to summer and a warm scented blanket for the colder days ahead.

Stockists

Ruth Mastenbroek Firedance is available from the website and from Fenwick’s, where Ruth will be giving a talk on 14th September. Check out The Perfume Society website for details. My bottle was given to me by Ruth Mastenbroek in return for an honest review, for which, my warmest thanks. Opinions are my own.

 

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