Tag Archives: spicy perfume

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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Library of Fragrance Chai Tea: Snug as a bug in a rug

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Have you ever heard the saying “snug as a bug in a rug”? My parents used to say it when I was growing up and I wondered if it was just me. The phrase seems very fitting for today’s blog post.

There I was, sipping my tea and wondering what to blog about on International Tea Day, when the penny dropped. I realised that our friends at The Library of Fragrance really, actually DO have a scent for every occasion. They very kindly sent me  a bottle of Chai Tea  last week and  reader, I can report that it is rather lovely.

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Suitable for men or women, and equally good on both, Library of Fragrance Chai Tea combines the seemingly incongruous mix of spices and milk.  Despite the strength and variety of the spices, this never borders on the Oriental, despite the presence of cloves, cinamon, star anise,  and even paprika.  It’s more of a gourmand scent than anything, but stops short of being too sweet or  cakey.

 

What I like best about this is that the aromatic qualities of cloves,  cardoman and ginger are all present and correct but they somehow add an airy green tea feel.  Think inviting spa treatment rooms rather than the spice rack in your kitchen.

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This is a lightly aromatic scent that never borders on the heavy.  It smells therapeutic and uplifting, whilst retaining that hint of cosy at the same time.  This fragrance is perfect hygge material.  Whack the  heating to “Code Sauna”  aaaand  Netflix and Chill. No need to go out.  You’re hibernating now.

Stockists

You can buy Library of Fragrance Chai Tea from the Library of Fragrance website.  Branches of Boots also carry a varied selection of Library of Fragrance scents.

Acknowledgements

Photo of my bottle of Chai Tea is my own, taken next to my favourite mug ( it really looks like my cat, Ian). Photo of Chai Tea ingredients from Houseboateats.com. My bottle was kindly sent to me by the Library of Fragrance PR team, for which, warm thanks. Opinions are my own.

Pell Wall Perfumes Anjin: Turn Up The Heat

Anjin-by-Pell-Wall-30ml

 

Pell Wall perfumes, based in Shropshire, is the brain child of Chris Bartlett, who left his job to become a full time perfumer.  Don’t you just love people who do that?  If people like Chris and other great indie perfumers  didn’t take the plunge, we’d all be missing out on original and exciting niche fragrances.

Pell Wall Perfumes Anjin is not like anything else I have smelled before because it has very dominant chillies in it, or pimentos to be precise.  I’ve never been one for gourmands in particular, but when they are as astringent and spicy as Anjin, I take it all back.  This could not be further away from your cupcakes and candy floss, which just goes to show how vast the gourmand spectrum can be.

This is no one trick pony though.  As Anjin’s  citrussy, almost stingy-eyed opening dries down, it becomes smooth yet prickly, a bit like sharp lemony patchouli.  With bold styrax adding an almost-but-not-quite creosote touch ( not a criticism, I love it), and clove and coriander making their spicy and herbal presence felt, Anjin  is a long-lasting  treat that smells equally good on male or female skin.  I loved it on me, but it smells even better on my 17 year old nephew, who also loved it, and now has the bottle.   I am always pleased when young folk try a fragrance that steps away from the High Street norm- and what a pleasant surprise to find a 17 year old who is NOT marinated in scent du jour Paco Rabanne One Million!

wisegeek.org

 One of the things I admire about Pell Wall is the sheer versatility:  Chris has produced a range that includes violets, (Deep Purple), Lily of the valley and roses (Pretty in Pink), earthy leather (Sticky Leather Sky) and Red Hot Chilli Peppers (Anjin) without stinting on quality or showing any weak links.  Anjin would make an original choice for summer and refreshingly, didn’t smell synthetic.  In fact wearing this when you have a cold might even feel therapeutic.  That chill just cuts through everything.  Anjim impressed me and I would wear it myself had I not given it away in the name of olfactory education earlier today.

Pell Wall Perfumes

Stockists

Anjin is available from the Pell Wall website for the reasonable price of £23 for 10ml or £36 for 50ml.  Fret not about taking a gamble based on my word alone though, Chris offers great sample sets and discovery sets and I can vouch for the quality and longevity.  My particular favourite is Pretty in Pink, which I reviewed earlier in this blog.

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Dana Raffinée: A Touch of Brass

Raffinee Perfume Dana Raffinée used to be Houbigant Raffinée and sadly I cannot list the differences between the Dana formulation and the Houbigant formulation as I don’t have the old one to compare it to.  However, if you’re a fan of Caron Montaigne (rumoured to be endangered) then you may like this rather similar and classic fragrance.   raffinee-perfume-by-dana-for-women-personal-fragrances_24801_500

First impressions of Raffinée are yellow flowers and powder.  This is probably why it reminded me so much of Caron Montaigne- those were my first impressions of Montaigne too.  However if you take away the oranges from Montaigne you are left with pretty much a decent dead ringer in Raffinée.  The problem is, it looks like Raffinee’s days are numbered too.  In this case, the emergency drill would be to buy the cheapest, which is currently Caron Montaigne , being sold for a song right now over on Amazon.

Raffinée opens with mimosa and spices.  There is a hint of hyacinth in there too, lots of dry rooty orris root and some noticeably rich tuberose. The flowers are not soft nor delicate nor dainty.  There’s no peony here.  The flowers are more blousy and loud and wearing too much make up and trying to look young.

The middle notes are a raft of soapy, powdery spices and this phase seems to last a long time.  The base notes segue into a rather brassy evening scent that smacks of the late 1970s.  There’s no subtlety here.  There’s no delicacy.  But I tell you what Raffinée does remind me of, and that’s a Beryl Cook painting, leopard print, cleavage and a dirty laugh.

It’s not fashionable, but who wants fashionable?  Powdery, soapy, spicy and rocking a tarty, 70s vibe- if Raffinée was a person we’d be going out on the town tonight.

PS Thank you to my dear friend Lisa Wordbird for the loan of the bottle.  She is not rocking a tarty 70s vibe in case you were wondering.

artbrokerage.com
artbrokerage.com

 

Dior Dune: The Classic in the Corner

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Dior Dune is a steady seller that has had a firm fanbase for 22 years.  I cannot, off the top of my head, think of a recent launch that is anything quite like it, except perhaps for Penhaligon’s Love Potion No 9, created in 1998, which has some similarities.

Created just after the excesses of the Eighties, Dior’s 1991 creation was  almost a gateway between the heavy Orientals of the Eighties, and the “back to nature” feel of scent in the Nineties.  It kind of had a leg in each camp.

dior dune ad 1

When I think of Orientals, I often think of strong scents such as YSL Opium or Estee Lauder Cinnabar that, although excellent, can sometimes be too much for daytime (but what the heck, right?). However Dune, with its Woody notes and smooth undercurrent of velvety Patchouli, is certainly light enough for daytime, even office wear, whilst still retaining its originality and character.

The funny thing is that smelling this really does remind me of sand.  It’s smooth, dry and smells like it’s been baked in a dry desert heat.  It opens like an aldehyde, and when I first tried it today, I thought “Things ain’t what they used to be.”, but after half an hour that old familiar smell from when I was 21 came back just as I remember it. There is a sweetness I hadn’t picked up on in my youth, and I would attribute it to the citrus fruit within: in this case Oranges.  I often find that Oranges can work well alongside spice or wood in the same way that it can be used in a fruit cake without taking over.

dior dune ad 2

The basenotes come in fairly quickly and remain steady for around six or seven hours.  What I have at the end, when all has settled is a warm, Ambery, sandy scent like the heat of a Summer evening after a day on the beach. It’s not at the forefront of any big campaigns, it has just quietly got on with being a little bit of a classic.

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Histoire d’Eau by Mauboussin

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The weather today is my all time favourite: chilly and breezy but with a sky that is bright blue and sunny. Everything feels as if it is in glorious Technicolour and the trees are starting to go gold.

Histoire d’Eau by Mauboussin is the perfect scent for today. It is rich with spice and wood and even a hint of tar. The Amber notes reflect the golden trees and the leathery finish is perfect for Autumn.

 Mauboussin is a prestigious French jeweller: right up there with Tiffany and Cartier. Since 1870 Mauboussin has been producing fine jewellery and watches, but it wasn’t until the year 2000 that they stepped into the fragrance market.  And I am so glad they did.

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The notes for Histoire d’Eau are as follows:

Top notes: Mandarin and Ylang (both noticeable),

Middle notes: Nutmeg, Pepper and Cardoman,

Base notes: Leather, Myrtle, Amber and Musk.

The combination of these toasty Autumnal notes is spot on for a chill wind. The Amber and Spices give heat to the sexy Leather.  The Orange makes things Christmassy and the Musk is barely a whisper, preventing this from being too girly. It would be perfect as a masculine or a feminine and reminds me of burnt tar on a fence.  This is a good thing, since I also rather like the smell of creosote in perfume.

Despite the hot tar and the slight cough mixture accord, this is prettier than it sounds. This is almost what Serge Noire would have smelled like on me if our chemistry had been right.  Histoire d’Eau is smoky, spicy and just what the doctor ordered on this bright, cold day.

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Jesus Del Pozo Arabian Nights: I’m Having a Flashback

arabian nights

I’m having a flashback. There I was, wandering around eBay with my little trolley, popping samples in here and there, when I stumbled across a new perfume by one of my favourite brands. Step forward Jesus Del Pozo Arabian Nights.  I have a great affection for Jesus Del Pozo, especially since they make my much loved Ambar: a bitter orange delight. However, sadly  Arabian Nights disappointed. Do read on though, because fans of Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan might like what comes next.

When I ordered my samples of Arabian Nights, I was hoping for some of the gorgeous mystical beauty of Tauer’s L’Air Du Desert Marocain (can I call it LADDM? I’m among friends, yes?) However what I actually got was a Dead Ringer for Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan, much loved by all but moi.

With Myrrh and Oud shoving the feeble efforts of Jasmine and Gardenia out of the way, Arabian Nights is a perfume with muscles. It’s not very pretty, but it would always win at hockey. It has the same dry and almost bitter spice that Ambre Sultan has. The Resin is particularly strong, which is what repelled me a little with Ambre Sultan– it’s a strong and heady cloud of something illegal. More Woodstock that Woody notes.

The good news is that it is cheaper than Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan. The bad news is that it’s a devil to get hold of. It is aimed at the Saudi market, but is available in Duty Free at the big Spanish airports, as well as El Corte Ingles. Hopefully a swell of approval will make the nice people at Del Pozo take pity on us deprived UK perfume lovers. I have written to Del Pozo to tell them as much. I will keep you posted as to their reply.

In the meantime there’s eBay samples still left if you hurry…

Dana Tabu: A Tart With a Heart

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Created in 1932 by  Jean Carles  with the remit to create a fragrance “for a prostitute”, Dana Tabu has stuck around and has been a favourite of millions over the years. Tabu is regarded as a Drugstore Classic: that is to say affordable, ubiquitous, and an acceptably good blast from the past. Wearing this today elicits nostalgic memories from people in their 40s and 50s who remember their Mother or Aunts smelling of this. However, Tabu has a lot to offer the modern perfume wearer too and wearing it today has been nothing less than pleasurable.

Needless to say, this fragrance has been through numerous reformulations. Ingredients increase in cost, yet prices need to remain affordable. I do not pretend to be an expert on all the changes made over the years, so I cannot hope to list them here. However, you will always find those who prefer the original, the vintage, the one from the 80s, the new one …and so it goes on. What I have in front of me is the non violin shaped Eau de Toilette (like the one pictured above). It’s not strong and the sillage wouldn’t bother a fellow commuter. Lasting power isn’t more than three hours on me, but, as I explain later,  you can often “secure” a fleeting scent by pinning it down with another. Alternatively, spraying clothes and hair makes a scent less flyaway.

However the fragrance itself immediately reminds me of my room as a student. I was always burning Patchouli joss sticks and the dried smoke from the spent sticks would smell just like this. Smoky, spicy and with a whiff of Patchouli. Tabu is like a watered down poor relation of Youth Dew and this could be down to the heavy note of Cloves. I smelt Oranges too, and a  hint of Vetiver and Oakmoss (though I doubt it’s the real thing). Civet is listed as a note, but I didn’t get anything animalic from this. In fact, it smells clean, like lemon washing up liquid, albeit for a few seconds, before settling down to its smoky aromas.

Tabu is widely available for less than ten pounds (UK) and is an excellent addition to any scent wardrobe. It’s good for winter especially, although it does make me laugh that it is described rather formally as “recommended for romantic wear”. But I would happily wear it in the day without making eyes at my husband. It’s light enough for daytime and wouldn’t knock anyone out.

It’s an inexpensive spicy, peppery treat of a perfume, despite lacking good longevity. I often find with thinner, inexpensive perfumes that they make excellent layering scents.  In fact I tried this over Yves Rocher Rose Absolue and it was fabulous. The Rose was made complex and spicy, and Tabu seemed to last longer for being pinned down.

I have a great deal of affection for cheap and cheerful scents that do the job. If you’d told me a few years back that I’d have a big bottle of cheap prostitute perfume on my dressing table,  and that I’d be pleased about it, I never would have believed you. But then I never would have believed that perfume from Lidl is worth buying too, but it is.

The rules with perfume:

Rule One: There are no rules

Stockists

You can buy Dana Tabu from allbeauty.com and from Perfume Click.  Prices are usually less than £12 a bottle You can also try eBay, of course.

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