Welcome to MoodScent 4! In the Mood for Mainstream Scent

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We are four perfume bloggers based in France, Holland, England and Wales who post on a different joint subject every couple of months. This time we have chosen Mainstream perfumes. You will find links to the other blogs at the end of the post. We hope you have fun reading our different choices and adding your own selection in the comments.

Now, doing this was fun, as it always is, but this particular theme had a touch of serendipity about for me. There I was racking my brains on what to write about and idling fiddling with the bottles on my dressing table. and the answer was right in front of me. I picked up five of my most reached for bottles and realized they are all mainstream scents bought from my local shopping centre.  So here are five fragrances that I bought from the High Street in my local medium sized town in South Wales. In other words, if I can find them, then you’ll definitely be able to.  PS  By a happy coincidence, they are all really cheap.

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First by Van Cleef and Arpels

first by van cleefOur love story began when I obtained a mini bottle of this in a set from Argos.  It was true love and I was in full bottle territory shortly afterwards.  This is the one I reach for when I want to feel grounded.  In other words, it’s the nearest thing I have to a signature scent.

It unfolds from sophisticated aldehyde down to big peppery florals and ends in a mossy flourish. The genius behind it is none other than Jean Claude Ellena.  A 60ml bottle of the eau de parfum is under £30, which I call outstanding value for money.


Coty L’Aimant

laimant bottl;eAnother classic that I wear for comfort and when I want to feel like my old self.  It was created in 1927, on the coat tails of Chanel No 5 and was made in the same style.  L’Aimant was the signature scent of my late grandmother, who was always such a lady.  It’s a stunning scent and the parfum de toilette is plenty strong enough.  I wasn’t so keen on the cologne though.

L’Aimant opens with aldehydes and peaches and travels through a middle phase of all the best flowers: geranium, roses and jasmine. They segue seamlessly into the woody vetiver base with a dusty, powdery flourish that speaks of decades of class and untouched perfection. I still keep thinking the price is a joke, but it’s not, and neither is this excellent classic.


Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely.

I feel very strongly about SJP Lovely. It is my response to people who say they would never wear celebrity perfume and that cheap perfume doesn’t  smell good.  Lovely ticks both boxes. It’s a superb fragrance that I wear often. It’s long lasting and classy and the price is so low for quality of this calibre.

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I was introduced to this by my dear friend and shameless perfume enabler Lisa Jones. She said she wore it for the school run, you know, those moments when you notice the time, grab a bottle of what goes with everything and run out of the house. Within days of trying her bottle, I had my own 100ml bottle. It was one of those  fragrances.

Lovely is described as a silky white amber, but it’s so much more.  It opens with lavender and apple martini (don’t ask me!)  and orchid, which I don’t usually like.  The whole thing morphs into a feminine, pretty floral, but as soon as that’s registered, it becomes woody and gets a bit of texture from the patchouli.   Rounded off with amber and white musk, this is a stunning floral with an earthy, warm finish.  I just love the lavender in it that keeps it so ladylike and timeless.


Lovely has outrun many celebrity fragrances and is regarded by many critics as  being excellent in its own right.  What makes me love it even more is that SJP herself was involved on every level and had very definite ideas about what she wanted. This was no mere “sign-here” deal.  She got in the way and rolled her sleeves up.

Having said that, credit must go tothe talented noses who actually made it- Laurent le Guernec and Clement Gavarrry for Coty.

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Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps

lairdutempsLike L’Aimant and First, this is a scent that will always be on my dressing table. There’s nothing like it, and that’s hard to find these days in a busy and often generic market. L’Air du Temps was created in 1948 and the dove on the bottle is the dove of peace in the turbulent post war period.

The scent is so familiar to me that it’s almost hard to deconstruct. It’s a gentle, luminous floral that also has peppery carnation, roses, jasmine, violet, a hint of talc and a warm mossy, woody amber finish.

Listing the notes does nothing to do it justice.  If you’ve never tried it, you must, and if you have, then I’m sure you’ll know why I love it so. Nothing the brand has done since has ever beaten this.


Library of Fragrance

lof scentsLibrary of Fragrance really, absolutely and truly does have a scent for every occasion. It’s a brand that has a friendly, playful image, yet provides serious quality perfume. It is ideal for building a scent wardrobe and learning to layer fragrance, or just for pinning down that nostalgic note you couldn’t put your finger on until now. My recommendations are Musk # 7, Mahogany, Play Doh (see my love for it here), Salt Air, Rain, Snow, Grass, Orange Flower, Four Leaf Clover, Gingerbread and Myrrh.  Some of friends collect them and they look fabulous in the bathroom with their pharmacy style silver lid bottles.


Cacharel LouLou

loulouLouLou has a special place in my heart.  This was the scent I was wearing when I  was catapulted into adult life from home to university back in 1988.  Everything I did for three years smelled of this.  I still have a bottle of this intriguing anise, plum, patchouli, oriental floral that pays homage to silent movie star Louise Brooks.  I’m certain it doesn’t smell as it did, though  Today’s version smells thinner and more metallic. I remember it was earthier and had a deeper resonance back in the 80s.   Like all of us, it was best in its youth, but spraying this into the air takes me back to  goth nightclubs, red wine, red lipstick and cigarette smoke faster than a time machine could.

It remains remarkably low priced and I adore the Art Deco bottle and  stylised flowers on the box.  I have a soft spot for all the Cacharel range, especially Noa and Anais Anais.

My Mood Scent 4 Chums

Find out what my Mood Scent colleagues put in their round ups.  Read what their thoughts on mainstream scents are from the links below:

  • Tara on A Bottled Rose (representing England) and
  • Esperanza in the Netherlands with her blog L’Esperessence,
  • and last but not least, the lovely Megan, who came up with this idea and brought us all together. Megan is based in France and you can read her blog MeganinSainteMaxime here.

Over to you

What’s your favourite High Street or main stream fragrance? Is there one you’ll never be without? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.


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12 thoughts on “Welcome to MoodScent 4! In the Mood for Mainstream Scent”

  1. How great that your most reached for perfumes are all from the mainstream, Sam. As time goes by, the more I think some of the niche brands are taking us for suckers.
    The first word that comes to mind when I think of L’Aimant is “comforting” and then I see you describe it the same way!
    I had forgotten about the lovely Lovely and First is such a classy classic.

  2. Loved your choices and your own photograph, Sam. I have never seen Coty L’Aimant here but I will check it out. I agree Lovely is Great, if only I could wear it. You are lucky it works out for you. Thought you would really enjoy this theme 😊

    1. Dear Esperanza, if you ever come to the UK go to any branch of Boots and you will find L’Aimant for around £7. It’s brilliant quality and has a lovely 1920s feel to it. My grandmother wore it and she was born in 1923- 4 years before it came out. It will always remind me of her and I love to imagine her wearing it to go to dances.

      Sam xx

  3. Sam loved your choices and your reminiscence on Loulou has made me want to try it again. I remember it from back in the day but haven’t sniffed it since. Now I will. A friend has a giant Lalique bottle of L’air du Temps that I can’t help but touch and take photos of whenever I see it. And after Stash I’m a SJP perfume fan and am tempted to buy a Lovely, as I’ve seen it can be purchased for a song. x Megan

    1. Dear Megan, Thank you! I am sure you will like Lovely. It’s in a similar vein to Narciso Rodriguez For Her, who, in my opinion has yet to bring out a bad fragrance. LouLou is a bit like Lolita Lempicka- they both have a sort of aniseed note which I like. I just think Cacharel does amazing stuff for not much moolah.

      Sam xx

  4. Fab choices. I love this idea of accessible scent. The socialist of the perfume world.

    I put my hand up and confess to being in love with cacharel’s Eden. It’s been many years and we’re unlikely to be parted and at that price we’ve no need to be.

    I also love eau de gaga and body shop’s Fuji green tea, which I found through your blog a while ago. It works brilliantly with all the extra body products, as you suggested.

    We’re probably all being ripped off if we don’t exploit the high street. Thanks.

    1. Dear Rachael, I am so glad I have been your bad influence and got you buying more perfume! There’s no such thing as too much or too many when it comes to scent, and by a happy twist of fate, all the ones I list are under £30.

      I tried Eden a while back, but my taste has changed so much since I began blogging that I am determined to try it again. I’ll keep you posted!

      sam xx

  5. I’m so tempted by Lovely- even more so after your description of it; I really need a perfume for ‘every day’; I’m currently obssessed with Mon Guerlain by Guerlain but sometimes I find it a bit to ‘ooh’ for during the day.

    Thankyou for sharing your reccommendations; I’m definitely going to have to go have a sniff of these all next time I walk past a perfume shop!

    Eloise xx

    1. Dear Eloise,

      Thank you so much for your lovely comments. It means a lot to get feedback like that and I appreciate it.

      Lovely makes a great everyday perfume and if you’re not sure, you can buy a 30ml bottle for just under ten quid. In fact, I might do an article on “everyday” perfume now you mention it.

      bestb wishes

      Sam xx

  6. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your mainstream top 5 and those of your fellow bloggers. ‘Lovely’ would be on my list too, I’m really tempted to blind buy her latest release ‘Stash’. I must have another smell of Coty L’ Aimant as I think I would appreciate it more these days . Incidentally, have you smelled Miss Fenjal? I bought my mum some Fenjal talc which she used when were on holiday and I couldn’t believe how amazing it smelled. I found the edt on sale online for very little, and am tempted to purchase. It put me in mind of L’Aimant …but my memory might be playing tricks on me!

  7. Dear Lorna,

    I haven’t smelled Miss Fenjal and had no idea it existed- I’m determiend to try it now..

    Do try Coty L’Aimant. It smells just like Chanel No 5 but costs about £50 less!

    Stash is a spicy, sandalwood, incense scent that I loved. SJP is so good at this.

    Sam xx

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