I was recently given a bottle of Yves Rocher Secrets D’Essences Accord Chic on loan from dearest chum Lisa Wordbird. I’m a huge fan of Yves Rocher and long for the day when a branch opens in the UK. As it is, I order online and visit a branch when in France (my last visit was four years ago though, sadly!).
Secrets D’Essences Accord Chic was made by the outrageously talented Nose Olivier Cresp, alongside equally legendary Nose Marie Salamagne. If I listed all their scents here, it would take up several pages. If you know Thierry Mugler Angel, Jo Malone Incense et Cedrat, Nina by Nina Ricci and YSL Black Opium, then you will know their work. Legends. The pair of ’em.
So, when these two rock stars of scent get together, you can bet it’s going to be good. And it is.
Accord Chic is a curious fragrance that kept me guessing and chewing my pen.
It opens with pink pepper but for a minute or two, it smells like champagne. The pink pepper loiters around in a sweet and fruity way, providing what may be the only touch of girliness in this otherwise rather spicy unisex scent.
The middle phase is all about the resins and the iris. This is not your typical iris however. The iris here gives this a unique and unusual middle that I had trouble finding the words for. I’ll try. Here goes: The middle note smells like fresh green tea and a grey cashmere blanket all at once. I can’t explain it to either myself or to you, dear reader, any better than that. The spice notes come from resins, rather than powder: namely frankincense, elemi and benzoin. Reading that made me think this would smell like cough mixture. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This is like a spiced-up version of Penhaligon’s Malabah. There’s no green tea listed, but the spiciness is lightened somehow. This is not a heavy, smoky incense, but more of an oil burner, aromatically scenting the room with light and warm liquid touches.
It’s so perfect for layering that I urge you to try it both alone and with say, musk, or some light citrus. It has a tang of freshness like citron already, so you may as well run with it. If you don’t normally like heavily spiced scent, this could be perfect for you. It has all the spice, but shh…whisper it…it has a gentleness too.
Yves Rocher Accord Chic is available from Yves Rocher branches in France or online from Yves Rocher.co.uk . I recommend the purse spray for under a fiver as a good starting point. The mail service is fab because you always get three free samples and usually a free gift or two as well. I’m a very loyal customer as you can see!
Now that my blog is four, I thought I’d better do some housekeeping. One of my most popular articles is “Perfume for Paupers”, written two years ago. It was my guide to how you can smell good without blowing the budget. It was written from the heart (and from past experience ), since I believe that you don’t have to be rich to smell good.
However, as you know, the industry changes faces like a kaleidoscope in even a short space of time. For example, many celeb scents that I reviewed then, have been discontinued, and many new affordable options have appeared on the market in just two years. However, much of what I wrote in my earlier article still stands: shop around, be selective, use eBay, look past the label. I reckon it’s time for an update. Here’s my guide on how to smell good without feeling bad.
Leave your snobbery at the door
I used to be in an exclusive long term relationship with Chanel Cristalle and would only rarely have flings with other scent on the side. During a frugal period in my life, I decided to shop around, and my love affair with scent truly blossomed. I hold allbeauty.com and Home Bargains responsible for this. I bought the cheapest scent I could afford and ended up finding some firm favourites. High price tags do not always mean high quality., and vice versa. Don’t overlook celebrity fragrances either. They are all made by professional Noses and are usually cheaper than other brands. Some of my favourite celeb scents are under £10.
Ok, I’m starting to sound obsessed with Avon now, but when you an find a decent perfume for under seven quid, well, then it’s very hard to stay away. In fact my SOTD is Avon Rare Platinum and those tuberose wafts are very pleasing to my nose today. Avon Perceive Oasis was my summer scent more than any other in 2016. I even bought a back up bottle.I give Avon a further thumbs up for selling purse sprays at just £3 and for currently selling Scent Essence Lime Verbena for just £2.50 for 30ml. All prices correct at time of posting.
I have bought a lot of perfume from eBay and have never been let down. EBay is pretty strict on counterfeit and it’s not worth most people’s trouble to try and sell the odd fake. Having said that, there’s no guarantee it’ll never happen to you, but in seven years I’ve not been conned. EBay is also great for perfume samples which helps avoid costly blind buys. I’ve also scored some blinders from a local car boot sale. Never underestimate how much somebody else can dislike a perfectly good bottle of perfume and be desperate to get rid of it. That, my friends, is when you circle and swoop.
Success stories: 100ml of Cabotine for £3.99 on eBay, bottle of LouLou and assorted samples for £7 on eBay, bottle of half used 100ml of Rive Gauche for £4 at car boot sale. Full 50ml bottle of Chanel Coco EDP for £26 on eBay.
Some of my favourite cheap and cheerfuls are the kind of scent young folk today might label as “Nan perfume”. I prefer the term “classic. ” Nobody will put me off Coty L’Aimant or Chique and I could buy both bottles with ten quid and still have change for a Daim Bar.
If you’re saving for a bottle of the good stuff and in between bottles,, why not just buy a few samples and use your favourites on high days and holidays? It’s cheaper than a full bottle and you can always smell expensive without having a shelf full of posh bottles and no money in the bank.
You’d be amazed how many of your friends have been given perfume they don’t like and don’t wear. Nobody seems to throw it away though, so get asking. You might find they have one of your favourites and that dusty bottle you can’t get rid of might be just their cup of tea. I dare you to ask four friends if they have a bottle of perfume they don’t really wear. It also works on forums such as Fragrantica, Mumsnet and Fragcomm.
Many men’s fragrances are cheaper than women’s ( though not all). There’s no rule that says you can’t wear his stuff or that he can’t wear yours. Having said that, although I reguarly raid my husband’s scent collection (I chose most of it- ergo it’s mine.) I can’t see my husband borrowing my SJP Lovely to wear for work anytime soon. Shame. Florals can smell good on men.
Here’s what I mean by cheap and cheerful for chaps: Old Spce (cheap as chips) doesn’t smell a million miles away from Yves Saint Laurent Opium. (Thanks for the tip Portia of APJ), and Avon men’s fragrances are truly excellent. I wore Wilderness for Men for the whole of August one year, with a pretty sun dress. I say Pah! to labels. If it smells good wear it.
These mini rollerballs are available from Amazon and eBay. Containing no alcohol, and usually in rollerball format, these are an unbeatably cheap way to layer notes or wear the scent alone. The jasmine and the rose single note fragrances are pretty good too. They make good presents and a 10ml rollerball is perfect for even the smallest of handbags.
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange. – Ariels Song
I am bewitched and enchanted. I have been turned into a mermaid.
Beaufort London is a new and currently small outfit, based in London, as you have probably guessed. My previous knowledge of them consisted only of my experience of Beaufort 1805, a sample of which had been provided in a previous Perfume Society Discovery Box. Beaufort London 1805 was a powerful scent that blew my head off like a gunship’s cannon. I admired it, but respectfully left it for others to enjoy. Fathom V on the other hand, blew me away in quite a different manner altogether.
From the very first sniff of this, whilst it was still wet, I thought of salty London docks , mossy with age and rusty with decay. It was a deliciously uplifting and evocative scent, bursting with green notes as well as the green flanks of a boat on an earthy mudbank.
Lurking in there somewhere is an almost unsettlingly sexy note of thigh and pheromone. It’s like a pirate’s breeches, but so, so alluring. It’s hypnotic, evocative and utterly bewitching. It makes my head feel like it’s stuck in a poem about crashing waves and damsels and incredibly attractive pirates. Oh and did I mention the lilies? The greenest of lily notes ever created is in here, giving this a botanic saltiness and adding to the hypnotic effect.
So what’s in? Not that it matters, really, it’s already made its mark on me, but here’s a list of notes:
Top notes: earth, green notes, aqutic notes
Middle notes: cumin, lily, black pepper
Base: Vetiver, moss, salt
If Beaufort Fathom V is sniffed with your eyes closed before sleep, you will have the most ethereal oceanic dreams. I wholeheartedly recommend it. I shall resist adding “me hearties” on the end. Oh, whoops!
I was delighted to receive a little parcel via Fed Ex all the way from Berkeley California recently. It was from master perfumer Mandy Aftel and was wrapped like a piece of precious treasure. Mandy is a fragrant and flavourist expert who has the worldwide respect of customers and peers alike.
I received my sample spray phial of Amber Tapestry last week and I have been taking my time in getting to know it before reviewing it. After all, Mandy didn’t rush making it, so I owe it such courtesy in return.
Amber Tapestry is suitably named. Each component makes up the overall picture with splashes of colour and vibrancy that make this scent a constant unfolding enigma.
The heliotrope, which my nose mistook for lilac, speaks of springtime optimism. There was a note of pollen in there too, that reminded me of the dust you get on your nose when you sniff a daffodil (I should know, it’s the National Flower of Wales). The orange and the jasmine together give this a creamy and alluring opening act. The combination of the two makes for a sort of exaggerated orange blossom.
The middle phase is where this gets more tapestry like. The resin-y incense tones of benzoin (often used in cough mixture) seem to add a faded grandeur to the big white flowers that start so brightly. The heady white blooms are toned down by the warmth of golden amber as the base notes cast a sunset over this evocative scent. There is a subtle touch of animal in the finale, but rather than being a body odour animalic, its more of an intimate back-of-the-neck scent- if you’re familiar with my review of Aftelier Memento Mori, you’ll know the honeyed skin scent I mean.
Each note is interwoven to give an overall accord of a resinous, leathery vanilla. It was a real grower on me. The longer I have worn it, the more I like it
Amber Tapestry is a scent for all seasons. From Spring to Autumn in one fell swoop, the floral optimism of its opening gives way to a cosy richness that ends with the feeling of being hugged by an amber blanket of warmth.
Mandy uses natural ingredients and to my nose, these have an authenticity that makes for a deep and rich olfactory experience. It is my ambition to visit her perfume museum in Berkeley one day. Like Aftelier fragrances, I just know it will be unforgettable.
At last I have my mitts on a new Tauer. Those pesky postal regulations have left me frustrated of late and I have been missing my Tauer fix, although I know Andy is looking into it for his UK fans. However I have managed to bagsy a sample of the latest release: Lonesome Rider. It’s a follow up to the great Lonestar Memories of ten years ago and thankfully, it is neither a flanker nor a lightweight. What we have here is a great unisex scent with Tauer’s trademark stupendously good longevity. Yes, they are pricey, but they are worth every penny and in my book (or my blog) I reckon such longevity makes them excellent value. I have a bottle of Tauer Carillon Pour Un Ange and it seems to never go down, no matter how often I wear it.
Lonesome Rider smells peppery and spicy at first spray: like carnations or geraniums. There’s a bit of citrus making it fresh and invigorating. Shortly after this lovely début, it becomes a heavier leather scent. There is a cloud of bonfire smoke hanging around it, giving me some nice cowboy imagery in my mind’s eye. The orris root makes it presence felt and this is a note I fell in love with via Papillon Angelique which really showcases orris. The combination of orris, citrus, leather and spices makes this a fabulous fragrance. I thought I had this nicely all summed up until I had a nice bonus after about an hour: roses. Beautiful clean roses in the background, smoked in incense and nestled snugly alongside the spice and leather. Smoky, butch and leathery but with the orris and roses to lighten it up, this stuff has muscles and a sensitive side. If you liked Tauer Eau D’Epices and Tauer Incense Rose, you’ll like this too. I certainly do! Looks like Andy has another hit on his hands.
You can buy Lonesome Rider from this website . You can buy Tauer scents from the Tauer website, and you can buy the Flash series from Tauerville which ships to the UK. In the UK you can buy Tauer scent from Les Senteurs, including a sample service.
It may be September and it may be getting cooler, but there is always, always a place in my heart for a good cologne. Trusty Crabtree and Evelyn have come up with the goods in creating West Indian Lime Cologne.
My understanding of the word cologne is that it will be refreshing, usually have botanical ingredients and will freshen you up but not last very long. West Indian Lime Cologne covers all those points except for longevity, where it excels.
I had a lengthy squoosh in my local House of Fraser today and I can confirm that four hours later it is still going strong. The Lime is gorgeously fresh and smells zingy and clean as a brand new freshly ironed handkerchief.
Although designed for men, when it comes to a revitalizing and classic cologne scent such as this one, I am first in the queue, biting the ankles of the tall people to get to the front.
Top notes: Lime, lemon, mandarin, Middle notes: Nutmeg, coriander, rosemary, Base notes: Patchouli, sandalwood, orris.
What I get on my skin is a slow and steady long release of lime and mandarin, with no rich nutmeg to speak of, but a hint of patchouli in the long limey drydown. It’s fantastic and suitable for use all year round.
The price is right too at £30 for 100ml and it’s widely available from Marks and Spencer on most High Streets, on Amazon.com if you’re in the USA and in House of Fraser. It may be cologne but it has the lasting power of a very good eau de toilette. In fact it outlasted Jennifer Lopez Rio Glow which was on my other arm and has all but disappeared.
If you can’t justify £30 on scent this near to Christmas (yes it is- only three more paydays!) then do my tricky trick of buying it for the man in your life and using it yourself (whilst looking like a generous and tasteful gift giver). Bwah ha ha!- That’s my villain’s laugh.
As much as I love Fig, if it is overdone or used with a heavy hand, I can feel as if I have eaten too many sultanas. However, when used with a light hand and blended beautifully with other ingredients, as it has been here, Fig can hold its own and be drop dead gorgeous.
Miller Harrisis a trusty brand. You will never buy a bad Miller Harris. Packaging is good, quality of ingredients is good, Perfumer Lyn Harris is highly respected within the industry and they don’t produce mass market crowd pleasers.
Miller Harris Figue Ameretakes fig leaf and surrounds it with friends so that it looks good. Alone, I find it de trop, but here it is deliciously musky, with a little ambery heat and a depth that is both golden and glorious.
Fig leaf is combined with violet leaf to keep things as light as a petal. bergamot and mandarin are used to keep it sharp. The basenote brings in the heavy mob with cedar, moss and amber. Every stage is divine and addictive, and somehow Oriental. It is rich, seductive, warm and yet light at the same time. Fig leaf is showcased against three different backgrounds, like a Three Act Play, and in each one, it emerges as the star. Miller Harris once again comes up trumps. This is wonderful stuff, and if you ever get the chance, or get your mitts on a sample, I urge you to give it a go.
My first ever experience with Miller Harris was but a few weeks ago when I sampled Fleurs de Sel and reviewed it for my good readers. Today I have in my hands a sample of La Pluie (The Rain). With a name like that, who could resist?
I was initially apprehensive, since I was afraid of coming across an ozonic aquatic mess, but I should know better. This is Miller Harris after all.
I was pleasantly surprised as I went about my day with La Pluie radiating off my skin with a lovely subtlety. There is soft background lavendar, a bowl of oranges somewhere and some lovely bergamot The initial burst of scent reminds me a little of the smell in a brand new office: all paper and new leather, but with a window open. There is definite heliotrope, which is maybe why this reminded me of Guerlain Apres L’Ondee. They’re not the same, but I suspect Apres L’Ondee fans would find something to admire here. Just when you think you’re smelling the pages of your brand new book (I love that smell!), the flowers start emerging, almost one by one. It’s like having a vase of white flowers behind you and not noticing until the smell finally becomes too delightful not to turn round and see them properly.
When all that has calmed down, there is a smell of grass or wheat, almost like the scent of an Italian kitchen at rest. In the end the story is all about vetiver, wheat, herbs (although not listed) and a teeny bit of Vanilla Bourbon to sweeten the dryness.
La Pluie smells clean and new, just like it’s name. More than that though, it changes as you wear it and in my mind’s eye it kind of tells the story of a day. From getting caught in the rain, to coming into the hall where there are flowers, and then entering a warm, dormant kitchen ready for your evening. Some call it tropical. I call it a classic British Rainy Day- Rather beautiful and comforting.
I would happily buy this and spend all day sniffing the different stages, like Violet Beauregarde working her way through her three course gobstopper: “Hey it’s Tomato Soup, Mmm lovely, now it’s Roast Beef, oh wait a minute, its changing again…”
Well played Miller Harris.
You can buy La Pluie from Amazon UK. Sample is my own, as are my opnions.