Tag Archives: vanilla

Giorgio Armani Si: The Box Ticker


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Giorgio Armani Si is being heavily publicised right now on a perfume counter near you.  Armani’s 2013 new release was created by the legendary Christine Nagel, who is capable of works of genius (Eau de Cartier for example), and  generic bestsellers (Jimmy Choo Flash).

But does Armani Si live it up to the hype? Can it hold its own against other Oh So Rare new perfume launches? (Did that sound sarcastic? It was meant to).  Do join me, dear reader, on my unremarkable journey into the world of Giorgio Armani Si.

This is what I call a box ticker. It is also remarkably like La Vie est Belle by Lancome.

Endorsement campaign by beautiful but classy actress? Tick.

Simple glass bottle, no gimmicks? Tick.

Smells a bit gourmand with a Vanilla overload? Tick.

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fragrantica.com

Now I hesitate to put the boot in, since Cate Blanchett seems to exude a calming serenity where’re she glides, and it seems almost rude to criticise anything she endorses. However, in the hope that the exquisite and talented Cate never reads this, I feel I have to be honest with you and say this is not great.

The opening of Violet Leaf and Green notes (albeit rather synthetic smelling) could be saved if the Vanilla baseball bat of Doom hadn’t waded in and bludgeoned everything. This could have been a pretty Green and Violet scent, in the same vein as Balmain Ivoire (the new, not the old). But no, the promising opening turns into a gourmand and stays a gourmand all the way through. Sad to report, it’s not even a good gourmand. It’s too sweet. Too synthetic. Even the promised Patchouli was beaten into submission by the villainous Vanilla.

How I long for a new launch to blow me away.  Recommendations welcome.  Giorgio Armani Si? Mais non.

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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Pour un Homme de Caron: the big, butch Easter bunny

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Happy Easter, readers. The festival of sweet things has dictated my choice of fragrance today: Pour un Homme, from the French house of Caron, purveyors of the gorgeous Tabac Blond which IScent enjoyed so much. This is, as you might guess from the name, a masculine fragrance. I am female, but I wear it regardless, because it is a thing of beauty. It is very simple and very chic, in the way of so many classic French gentlemen’s fragrances.

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It is advertised by the magnificent French rugby star, Sebastien Chabal, a towering, powerful sportsman with a beard and mane of flowing black hair. He is utterly terrifying on the pitch, but according to his wife, is a gentle giant. I think this might be the most classic combination of fragrance and celebrity endorsement ever – Chabal’s physicality and  power contained in the elegant black tailoring are a perfect visual metaphor for the combination of beastliness and restraint.

This classic of French male grooming was created in 1934 by Caron’s resident genius, Ernest Daltroff, who also created Tabac Blond, Narcisse Noire, Bellodgia, and many others. When you spray on Pour un Homme, you’re hit by a wave of pure, blue-purple lavender, fresh and sharp and bright like a high, clear note. It’s very ‘barbershop’ and exactly what you expect from a masculine.

But then there’s the clever bit. The vanilla comes in, forming a rich, round cuddly tenor counterpoint that adds depth and character while also adding warmth, strength and lasting power. You can see why I love this. It is the ultimate ‘Daddy’ fragrance (issues? moi?). The vanilla is not sugary or sweet, and it plays on a ‘caramel’ note that Luca Turin swears exists in some variants of lavender. This woody vanilla anchors the fragrance firmly on the skin and gives it good lasting power – I spritzed this morning and I can still smell it 15 hours later.

Like The Duke in the top picture, this fragrance has good humour and approachability, but it’s strong and upright. Another that’s well worth trying.

Guerlain L’Heure Bleue: the magic spell of the blue hour

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Hello, I’m Wordbird, and while IScent takes a well-deserved trip to the perfumeries of France, I shall try to fill her shoes. I hope I won’t bore you!

I know IScent said all kinds of nice things about me, but in fact, she has been a ‘perfumista’ longer than I have. I always liked perfume, but I wasn’t fascinated by it. Until, that is, I went on holiday to France seven years ago, taking with me a book called The Emperor of Scent, which I’d picked up in the SciFi section for holiday reading. It turned out to be real science, not fiction: the story of a talented biophysicist called Luca Turin who was researching how we smell things. It was a fascinating read, but what really inspired my imagination was Luca Turin’s comments on perfumes and the perfume industry.

Turin claims Mitsouko is the perfume he would take with him if he was being sent off on an inter-galactic space mission. He describes it as lovingly as if it was his favourite child. I had to smell it. Being in France meant that I could spend hours in a handy branch of Marionaud, smelling many of the amazing things he described in glowing terms usually reserved for works of art. At a shopping mall in a provincial French town I was able to try things I would have struggled to find at home in Wales, including the entire Guerlain range of classics – Jicky,  Shalimar, Mitsouko, L’Heure Bleue, Apres L’Ondee, Vol de Nuit, Chamade, Jardins de Bagatelle, Nahema, Parure, Mahora, Champs-Elysees, L’Instant, Insolence… I came out of the shop reeling and reeking.

Some of those perfumes repulsed me – traditional, oakmoss-laden chypres were definitely not to my taste and I did not like massive florals or 80s stinkers – others confused me, some left me cold, a couple were interesting but difficult and one or two were pretty.

But one made me come back again and again to sniff the bottle and then the inside of my wrist where I had sprayed it: L’Heure Bleue. It was strange and just a little magical, wonderful and very grown-up. It did confuse me, I couldn’t say ‘this smells of x y and z’, as Luca Turin did in his reviews and when I read the notes listed, I could smell no particular iris, violet, heliotrope or carnation. Instead, I had an impression of melancholy, face powder and a ladylike, delightful deliciousness, an edibleness like a rich almond pastry with a creamy vanilla custard filling. It hypnotised me and fascinated me and I was hooked.

If you haven’t yet got around to trying L’Heure Bleue I strongly recommend you do. Persuade the sales assistant at the Guerlain counter to pull out the beautiful little bottle with the heart-shaped stopper from under the counter and try it, I beg you. Failing that, somehow get your paws on a sample of this rare gem. It is pensive, complex and gently intelligent, utterly unlike the modern watery vanilla/ thin floral/fruitichouili things that are being pushed at consumers nowadays. This remarkable perfume celebrated its one hundredth birthday last year, and like so many delightful Centegenarians, it still has powerful charm and character, which is no bad thing.

Celeb Scents 6: Kylie Minogue Couture

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Kylie’s been in the perfume game since 2006 with her first offering “Darling” being a Chypre Floriental.  Since then she has produced ten more and sales show no signs of slowing down. Kylie Minogue Darling is highly rated so I had high hopes for Couture.

Now I like Kylie, and her strange pointy eyebrow. She’s a woman’s woman and always cheerful, and sometimes that’s enough to make me like someone (are you listening Posh Spice?). I finally got round to investigating the Kylie phenomenon by purchasing a bottle of Kylie Minogue Couture. With its hint of corsetry and its aspirational name, I thought I was onto a winner.

Sadly not.

The top notes in Couture are Cherries, Violets and Lemon Blossom. However, what I had was Violets, something vaguely Aquatic and a bit of Jasmine (listed as a middle note). Within the first half an hour I got quite excited by this, despite acknowledging that “generic” was very much the state of play. I thought it was a light and airy floral and was so affordable that I thought I’d found a new favourite for daytime casual wear.

However, a problem occurred that I have experienced before with cheaply produced scents. A very synthetic and thin Vanilla note crept in and cancelled out everything else. Vanilla and “Musk Stripes” are listed as base notes, but the Vanilla was cheap and smelt like my old enemy, Poundland Vanilla candles.   I don’t know what Musk Stripes are (they are described as giving a cashmere effect), but maybe it is another way of saying “Well it’s not actual Musk but we found something thinner and cheaper but we’re not allowed to call it Musk”. In any case, I haven’t seen it listed anywhere else. This is mixed with “Vanilla Sorbet” in other swords sweet, synthetic cheap Vanilla that I couldn’t wait to wash off.

Now although this review is subjective, I have noticed on allbeauty.com that it is cheaper to buy 75ml of the EDT than it is to buy 30ml. There is also a lot for sale on eBay. Make of that what you will, but I felt let down and couldn’t sell it fast enough! Without eBay I’d have a really terrible perfume collection.

Sorry Kylie, this was more Poundland than Couture.

Footnote: I have just tried Sexy Darling and I am impressed! I guess I would be wrong in writing off the whole range based on one review. SD is a bright expensive smelling musky floral. MUCH better than its lightweight sister Couture.

 

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Jesus del Pozo Ambar- Orange and Spice and All Things Nice

nd.9315I bought Jesus Del Pozo Ambar  after developing a penchant for amber notes via  Ambre de Cabochard by Parfums Gres (more of which at a later date). I bought it blind, wanting something stronger than a light floral as the nights drew in.  I wasn’t disappointed.

My first thought as I unwrapped the gorgeous amber glass bottle and sprayed was “Cointreau”. Those of us who no longer discuss our age may remember the fabulously glamorous adverts from the 80s. “Ah cointreau, the ice melts…”. So immediately I had a trip down memory lane with a burst of alcoholic orange liqueur.

However, creator Marie Salamagne stops this from being sickly and keeps it fresh and light with the addition of cardoman and bergamot. It stays aromatic rather than cloying, although the hint of vanilla has been used sparingly (phew).

Although there are allegedly notes of Peony in Ambar, I don’t get flowers in this at all. It’s clean and masculine and almost herbal, and could, in my opinion  easily pass for a men’s eau de toilette.  It’s odd how the ultra feminine Eau de Cartier is targeted at a unisex market, yet this crisp citrus/spice scent is aimed solely at women.

Oh and the amber is here, of course. It’s warm and wintery and the bitter orange stops it being too thick and heavy.

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality since I bought my 30ml bottle for less than £10 from allbeauty.com, although they only seem to have the more expensive large bottles now. If you can find the small bottles again, they are worth having in your scent wardrobe. I can honestly say I have never seen this for sale on any High Street in the UK, although those of you who live in or near cities may have done so. I  don’t myself, so I often buy online via eBay or even Amazon.

Jesus del Pozo was incorporated in 1974 and sadly, the man himself passed away in August 2011 but not before firmly cementing his award winning reputation in his native Spain and in 120 countries worldwide.  His most famous scent is J del Pozo Halloween, named for its completion date rather than for any gory ingredients or notes.

The business carries on under new management true to his spirit.