It was an Avon brochure that first got me started on perfume. We are talking the 1970s and 80s i.e my childhood. (I’m not old yet). Today’s Avon is renowned for its high end skin care with the Anew Range, a stable of fragrances spread too thinly, great little jewellery sets, and fabulous lotions and potions. The Avon I remember growing up was Pretty Peach Perfume, along with little peach shaped soaps, Bubble Bath in those big pink bottles that look like a Michelin Man’s leg, and great, affordable perfumes in novelty bottles that have become collectors’ items on eBay.
Who would have thought that with High Streets becoming ghost towns that filling in an order form and waiting two weeks for a rep to bring it to you, would have survived the Age of the Internet? Yet it has. Avon products have moved with the times. Products are constantly updated, and beauty editors are still praising the goods. Sometimes Avon gets it wrong and discontinues favourite perfumes in haste, only to create more lightweights aimed at the younger market (yes, fruity florals, Blah. Blah,. Blah). So it’s Bye Bye Odyssey and Tasha and Hello! to the dreadful Incandessence and Treselle.
Avon has friendly nostalgia to thank for a lot of its continuing custom. Indeed my late grandmother was a fan, (she always called it “The Avon”) and being given her Avon order which arrived a few days after her death, was a poignant moment. I still buy Soft Pink Bubble Bath because she often bought it for me at Christmas and it reminds me of her.
As a teen, I was fanatical about wearing Eau Givrée and Odyssey and still remember an ornamental Giraffe filled with Occur! (the exclamation mark is Avon, not me) My mum liked Louis Féraud, and my sister still likes the classic Soft Musk (which you can still get).
Recently I managed to bag myself an Avon rep again after a hiatus and I couldn’t wait to try out a fragrance that had won a FiFi award: Avon Today. As usual, I was excited on opening the brand new box and the bottle (very like Gucci Flora bottles), and I even liked the fragrance itself for about ten minutes.
Sadly, I actually dislike it now and will be offloading it soon to make more room in my collection. So what’s it like? Well, I love freesias, and there are freesias popping out everywhere during the drydown. Sadly the first spray is a little Zoflora for my taste, but give it a minute. Coupled with the freesias is another more tropical floral note: Strelitzia. I think this is where it goes wrong. The Strelitzia, added to some Hibiscus and even Cacti, kinds of makes it more fruity and tropical which, in my opinion, jars with the English Country Garden opening. It’s very soapy too, and not in a good way. The base notes are supposed to be Cedar and White Musk. I do get a hint of Musk, a mere whisper, but I don’t think a tropical floral is the right place for Cedar. In fact, when it settles, I don’t like this at all. It’s sharp and high and slightly disinfectant-y. So it’s a no from me. However, don’t take my word for it. Many Avon ladies stocked up when rumours of being discontinued surfaced recently, and I don’t mean for their customers. This stuff has a loyal fanbase.
However, if you want a good Avon perfume that keeps its fragrance steady without going off on a tangent, you can do a lot worse than Avon Little Black Dress. It’s light and pretty and doesn’t have that slightly cheap base note that I find common to a lot of Avon perfumes (like Poundland vanilla candles).
If I was Queen of Avon (how I’d love that job!) I would narrow down the overflowing perfume stable to just a few very well made, affordable scents. They’re spreading themselves too thinly, but when they get something right, they get it very, very right.
In the meantime, I look forward to the next brochure. I will never give up on Avon. It’s part of my history and one of the few old school brands left from my childhood as the High Street dies on its knees.