Category Archives: Discovery Set

The Perfume Society Velvet Discovery Box: My review

Perfume, beauty products and chocolate in the same box? Is it my birthday already? In the words of Maria von Trapp, these are a few of my favourite things.

The Perfume Society Velvet Discovery Box contains the following items, although I must apologise for the speed at which I went through the Green & Blacks. I don’t even have the wrapper any more. A mouse in a cattery stood a better chance of survival.

Here’s a list of what’s in it, and my verdict on each item.

Atkinsons Pirates Grand Reserve 1.2ml eau de parfum (full size £120 for 100ml)

First impressions: sticky wooden aromatic barrels. This is an interesting take on the gourmand woody genre. The wood smells like it once had brandy in it, or maybe the Pirate in the title is making me think of that? In any case, this has hints of exotic spices, chocolate, rich dark vanilla and patchouli. It has a wonderfully cosy wintery vibe going on, and those woods are addictive! Bravo.

Floral Street Chypre Sublime 1.5ml eau de parfum (full size £55 for 50ml)

This stunning chypre is my cup of tea. It opens as a spring floral with notes of violet and rose, before succumbing to the peppery charms of big geranium blooms. It has that earthy, green accord I always seek from my chypres, whilst some big bold floral notes.  This is a new perfume house that has just opened a boutique in Covent Garden (Guess what street it’s on?). If they keep this up, they’re going to be a roaring success.

Connock Andiroba Eau de Parfum 1.5ml eau de parfum (full size £75 for 100ml)

This beauty from young fragrance house Connock, opens with green tea like notes, but is actually bergamot and lemon. It’s a very clean scent and smells almost therapeutic.  After a few minutes, there are faint hints of my favourite flower- violet. I’d like them to have been a bit stronger if I’m honest, but that’s just me. Andiroba actually stays fairly linear. The opening notes don’t really leave, they just invite more people to the party. The lasting base note is pretty much the same as the opening note, but it’s so invigoratingly good that I don’t call that a criticism.

Avery ‘E’ 4ml pure perfume (full size £90 for 30ml)

My absolute favourite. It took me a long time to appreciate iris, and now I see it as a dove grey suede background. The iris in Avery “E” exudes class and this stunning fragrance reminded me of the glorious Annick Goutal Tenue de Soiree. It also kind of smells like a brand-new car interior, but don’t ask me why. This is full bottle territory.

Lalique Rêve d’Infini 1.8ml eau de parfum (full size £72 for 100ml)

Trusty Lalique has yet to make a fragrance that I dislike, and this is no exception. I can’t put my finger on why I love this brand so much, but maybe it’s because every fragrance makes an impact but is never heavy. Reve D’infini has this beautiful, almost ethereal lightness. Opening with two of my favourites, bergamot and freesia, this is light as chiffon. A touch of lychee seems to go perfectly with the freesia. The base is vanilla, musk and sandalwood, but to my nose, this never got rich, just a slightly warmer, more huggable version of the opening.  The word I’m looking for is diaphanous!

Map of the Heart Gold Heart v.4 1ml eau de parfum (full size £150 for 90ml)

Map of the heart is an Australian fragrance house whose trademark is putting sandalwood notes in every single perfume it produces.  This is no bad thins at all in my book, as I’m a huge sandalwood fan. I find it very clever how Map of the Heart fragrances are easily identifiable, yet so different from each other.  Gold Heart v4. is all about warm gourmand spices such as cardamom and saffron. It never quite goes into spicy food territory, more like aromatic woods. It’s a wonderful fragrance from a new house that is continually impressing me. Lasting power is excellent, and it will smell great on men or women.

Ruth Mastenbroek Firedance 2ml eau de parfum (full size £90 for 50ml)

Ruth Mastenbroek only produces one new scent every few years, but they are worth waiting for. Firedance is a celebratory perfume, heady with smoky roses, oud and leather.  You can read my review here. What can I say? I’m a fan. Also, I’ve met Ruth a few times now and she is gracious, warm and very elegant.

Vince Camuto Amore 7.5ml MINIATURE eau de parfum (full size £60 for 100ml)

The cutest mini bottle ever containing a light anf fruity fragrance that’s impossibly feminine. It opens with blackcurrants, lime and passion fruit, and takes those light as air notes and blends them with lily of the valley, freesia and lotus flower. If you like slightly aquatic hesperide florals, this is right up your street. Such a pretty fragrance.

Valeur Absolue Rouge Passion 1.5ml eau de parfum (full size £59 for 45ml)

The full bottle claims to have real garnets in it, which I will remain open minded about.  The sample I have here is a beautiful soapy floral. It opens with bergamot and white flowers, has touches of my favourite Lily of the Valley, and beds down into a warm vanilla patchouli base with a dominant white musk finish. The vanilla patchouli base is being done a lot lately, but this one is different. It radiates from my skin with the white flowers still present, making this a very ladylike fragrance that makes an ideal evening scent. I love the soapy nuances and the white flowers, so this is a winner for me.

philosophy purity made simple 3-in-1 cleanser for face and eyes 30ml lotion (full size £19 for 240ml)

Takes your make up off and leaves skin smooth and doesn’t make your eyes water like other cleansers I’ve used. This is a cute little bottle that would be ideal for a weekend away or a holiday. It’s a great way of seeing if you want to buy a big gone.

Cochine White Jasmine & Gardenia Hand Cream 5ml (full size £24 for 100ml)

A stunning white floral fragrance that lingers for along time after you’ve finished applying.  This really is a tiny little tube- you might get three or four applications from it if you’re not over generous. However, the stunning scent filled the room and made me want more. Cochine is a luxury Vietnamese fragrance house, by the way, and you don’t get many of those to the kilo!

Green and Black’s Velvet Edition Orange and Almond Dark.

There’s a way of eating this that helps you understand your sense of smell and taste more. It blew my mind when I tried it at The Perfume Society Improve Your sense of Smell Workshop. You hold your nose, eat the chocolate until it’s mushy, then release your nose. The impact of the flavour is like a punch (but doesn’t hurt). It makes you realise how closely taste and smell are interlinked. It also works with Green and Black’s Mint chocolate. And in fact, the Green and Black’s selection box I had for Christmas was of course, purely for experimental research and that is why it was gone so quickly.

Over to You

Have you tried this Discovery Box? Have you ever tried a random fragrance from a Discovery Box that has ended up being your favourite?

Stockists

You can buy the Velvet Discovery Box from the Perfume Society website. Subscribers get big discounts too. Warm thanks to The Perfume Society for supplying my box with no conditions attached.  This is not a sponsored post and opinions are my own/

Follow

4160 Tuesdays: Three Newbies for 2018

actual poster at the 4160 Tuesdays studio

On my recent trip to the 4160 Tuesdays Mothership in London, I was privileged to sample the new stuff that’s a -brewing for 2018. You may have tried them already, but in case you haven’t and you’re curious, here are my thoughts on Eat Flowers, Amberama and Amber Mambo.  SPOILER ALERT  I love them.

Eat Flowers

Fig one: actual poster at the 4160 Tuesdays studio

Eat Flowers is, as the name would suggest, unapologetically floral.  However, floral is a very wide spectrum so I could be blathering on about anything. I’ll narrow it down. Eat Flowers has a retro vibe in a Biba sort of way, or maybe that’s me thinking of the poster that inspired it? (see fig one). It’s dusty and pretty, like pot pourri, but still with moisture in the petals . I sniffed iris, possibly violets and basil in there too, along with faint nuances of rose.  By rose, I mean the old fashioned faded pink roses from a tablecloth. It’s feminine in a terribly proper way, and smells as if it would make a terrific soap and candles.  My son says it reminded him of Autumn, but to me, it’s bedtime in Spring, with a powdery warmth, like brushed cotton pyjamas. It has a delightful retro feel. It’s pre-digital age. It’s from back when we wore dresses and read books and had bubble baths. In case you’re not into iris- this one’s safe.  It has smooth classy touches of it but won’t overwhelm.

retrosweets.co.uk

Amber Mambo

My son’s very first unedited impression? “lemon fudge.” He’s not wrong. Nobody’s impressions of a scent are ever wrong.  In fact to my nose, the citrus and  warm amber combo gives this a hint of the cola cube.  Remember them? 20p a quarter from the sweet shop? (Yes, kids, I’m nearly 50). Amber Mambo is a wonderful coca cola sort of scent and has a spicy fizz in its heart.  It reminded me of the wonderful Mrs Gloss’s Lemon Sherbet, but this has more heat and  is more golden. To me, this is pure, welcome, idyllic nostalgia. Bring on those cola cubes!

from BestPartyEver.com

Amberama

Now this one has sandalwood, amber and citrus, and if I’m not mistaken, a welcome flash of rose like a bowl of Turkish delight in a wood panelled study. It has a cheerful fruitiness about it that gives it a modern, playful finish, as if bringing a bunch of pink balloons into a dusky gentleman’s club and blowing raspberries. Just a minute- raspberries! That’s the fruit that’s in here. Yummy, delicious, tart/sweet raspberries. Glorious! Raspberries, amber and sandalwood. Irresistible. PS If you like Eau My Soul and  fancy a  a fruited up version, then this one’ll do nicely.

Stockists

You can buy all of these from the 4160 Tuesdays website.  They are currently limited stock, but if there’s a clamour, more will get made.  With warmest thanks to Sarah McCartney for giving me an early preview.

This is actually what Sarah looks like when at work. She didn’t know I was taking this.

Follow

Guest Blogger Lisa Wordbird at Your Command!

At the 4160 Tuesdays studio, on the famous swing.

Hello! Lisa Wordbird here. I’ve persuaded Sam to let me come and play, and I would love to know what you want to read about. I have a big box of samples and I’ll review things you’re interested in if I have them or I can get hold of them.

Like Sam, I’m a big fan of a bargain and I think an inexpensive perfume can be just as beautiful as something incredibly costly. Equally, I think that there are perfumes that justify a whopping pricetag. I’m a fan of artisan perfumers like Andy Tauer, Sarah McCartney and Liz Moores, and I appreciate how much goes into creating and producing their perfumes.

Tauer.com

Equally, I recognise that some of the greatest geniuses in the fragrance industry are the ‘functional fragrance’ creators. These are the unsung heroes and heroines who produce delicious scents for shower gels, fabric softeners and shampoos on an ingredient budget of sixpence a kilo. Don’t believe me? I am eking out a Shower Crème from Lidl called Indian Summer, which is a gorgeous woody oriental. It cost less than £2 when I bought it 18 months ago.

Personally, I lean towards orientals, incense, chypres, leather and animalic fragrances. Some of the things I like make Sam say ‘Eurgh!’ and look at me as if I’ve left the house without my trousers. However, Sam likes some white flowery things that make me go ‘yikes!’ and feel like I’m a drag queen.

Some things we both love, like vintage Miss Dior. Oh, I love vintage perfumes, too. Partly this is because they can be so much cheaper on ebay, partly because things I bought years ago now count as vintage because they date back to before the IFRA made companies reformulate perfumes to reduce possible allergens. (They’ve done it a couple of times now. The IFRA are not my friends.)

So – what would you like to hear about? Vintage perfume? Scented toilet paper? My boundless love for the Yves Rocher Secrets d’Essences range? Please let me know, and I’ll do my best.

 

The ISCENT Awards and Review of 2017

 

Welcome to the I Scents 2017! Find your seat. The drinks will be around in a minute. I hope you’ve got your glad rags on and are ready for a fragrant bonanza.

2017 has been a very interesting year for fragrance, with even the big hitters bringing out major new launches.  If I’m honest, I found far more to love in the world of niche and indie than I did over the beauty counters.  I also had some wonderful real-life perfume experience to break the loneliness of the long distance blogger.  It was a delight to meet up with Sarah McCartney, Jo Fairley, Suzy Nightingale (albeit briefly in the toilets at the Jasmines!), Marina Barcenilla, Ruth Mastenbroek, Stephan Matthews, Thomas Dunckley, Persolaise and Nick Gilbert.  If that sounds like star struck name dropping, that’s because it is.

Ladies and gentlemen, here are the awards, presented by your hostess, Samantha Scriven (applause. Whooping. Wolf whistles.)

Best mainstream

I was moved by very few mainstream launches this year and we saw some big ones come from Chanel, Mugler, Jean Paul Gaultier and Guerlain. Whilst I liked Chanel Gabrielle, I didn’t think it was worth the high price and I found longevity very poor at around an hour.  Can’t stop singing the Beyoncé song from the fabulous advert though.

There were, however four launches that really made me sit up and take notice. I’m not even going to pick a favourite, because they all were. If you pushed me into owning just one though, it would be Alberto Morillas’ Gucci Bloom for Gucci. I’m a sucker for a bunch of white flowers at the best of times and I’m pleased to see them hopefully capturing some new hearts with this beautiful scent and stunning campaign.

Gucci Bloom -winner

Gucci  really made me sit up  and take notice with this one. I have been in a sulk with them since envy was scrapped, but they may be back in my good books again. Gucci Bloom is a wonderful white flower fragrance that is unapologetically feminine and floral.  I love that it takes floral scents back to basics,  stripping away all sugary artifice, whilst showcasing all the best bits of nature. Read my rave review here.

Cartier Baiser Fou

Baiser Fou is the flanker to lily based pillar scent Cartier Baiser Vole, and in my opinion, the better of the two.  Baiser Fou is all about  raspberries, Milky Bars and posh lipstick.  I love this playful and lovable scent, which always makes me think of summer weddings. My review is here.

Mugler Aura

It’s not very often Mugler brings out a brand new pillar scent, although flankers are frequent.  Aura is one of the most wearable Muglers.  It doesn’t have the nuclear sillage of Angel or Alien, nor the  divisive  love/hate of the discontinued Womanity (shudder).  However, with new notes of Tiger Liana (my future stripper name) and Wolfwood, this makes for an unusual and audacious scent. You can read my review here.

La Vie Est Belle L’Eclat

from Lancome UK

Whilst I feel Lancome La Vie est Belle has become ubiquitous, spawning many homages and dupes in its wake, La Vie est Belle L’Eclat offers something new.

The floral notes are there but the sugary caramel of the pillar fragrance  has been toned down, leaving a rather classy floral scent, with a hint of sweetness. The bottle is stunning too- I can’t stop touching the elaborate chiselled glass.  Lancôme, I salute you.

 Fragrances I Can’t Live Without

It is frankly impossible to only issue one award in this category.  It’s like asking me which is my favourite cat (don’t).  To choose one implies I don’t love the others as much, and that’s not true.  I have therefore listed the fragrances I fell headlong in love with in 2017.  If you have to take away my whole collection, just leave me these and I’ll be happy.

Aftelier Velvet Tuberose

4160 Tuesdays Killer Rose 

4160 Tuesdays Eau My Soul

Photo by Thomas Dunckley for Papillon Perfumery

Papillon Dryad

Marina Barcenilla India

DSH French Lily

Ruth Mastenbroek Firedance

Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium

Best New Perfume House 2017

Gallivant -winner

Nick Steward founded Gallivant with years of experience in his pocket from his previous tenure at L’Artisan Parfumeur. Basing each scent on a city vibe, Nick has created a scent wardrobe that takes you all around the world. What I like about this brand is that he hasn’t gone for the obvious, but has suggested the unseen underbelly of a city.  He’s gone for Brooklyn rather than Central Park and has given Tel Aviv a feel-good optimism. Gallivant is innovative, evocative and original. I look forward to seeing more from this exciting new house.

Best bargain brand

Bargain perfumes are my speciality. I believe that everyone should be able to have affordable perfume and I eschew all snobbery on my blog. In fact, the perfume I reached for most often in 2017 was my trusty £5.99 of Coty L’Aimant.

Avon-Winner

Avon has been producing some wonderful fragrances that whilst recognisably Avon, are bang on trend and can easily stand shoulder to shoulder with more expensive mainstream brands. In fact, the list of perfumers that have worked for Avon read like a Who’s Who of fragrance; Christopher Sheldrake, Oliver Cresp and Sonia Constant to name but three. Most of my Avon fragrances cost me around £7. Unbeatable.

Bronnley

Some superb fragrances from Bronnley who are shaking up their image to attract the younger scent buyer. Whilst I will always be a fan of the classic lemon soaps and floral bath goodies, (don’t ever stop making them!) there are now innovative roller balls and  50ml eau de toilettes in the Eclectic Elements range. My particular favourites are Wild Green and Exotic Embers. The prices are right too with 30ml eau fraiche bottles, rollerballs and candles all within the £10 range (prices are current as from day of publishing this).

Marks and Spencer

My local Marks and Spencer is next door to The Perfume Shop and I find myself in  there far more often than I find myself in the Perfume Shop.  Also, The Perfume Shop deletes all your loyalty points if you don’t use them fast enough, which doesn’t make me feel very loyal anymore.  Marks and Spencer hosts some of my favourite brands such as Fragonard and Monotheme, but their own brand stuff is pretty good too. I’m a big fan of Autograph Blush, Florentyna White and Rosie by Rosie Huntington Whitely. With 10ml purse sprays starting from a fiver, you can cheer yourself up without breaking the bank.

Yves Rocher

My beloved Yves Rocher! Whenever I order from them, I am always sent a free gift (usually something good like perfume) three samples, some sort of BOGOF deal and usually some sort of little surprise or purse spray. I am currently awaiting an order in which I spent £30 and will be receiving four bottles of perfume, a Swarovksi necklace and three samples.  This is not because I am a blogger, but because I am a customer and they are all treated this well. Fragrance quality is very high and I have never been disappointed. Check out my most recent Yves Rocher review here.

 Perfume Superstars Award

The Perfume Society

The Perfume Society

For the second year in a row I hail the beloved Mothership.  The Perfume Society not only hosts workshops and events that are a delight to attend, but I have an addiction to the Discovery Boxes which always, without fail, introduce me to a scent or brands I have never come across before.  Alexander Pope once declared that the point of literature was to instruct delightfully and The Perfume Society certainly fulfill this edict. The Scented Letter is a brilliant read, with breathtakingly good visuals and superb guest writers.  The latest Discovery Box I had even contained Green & Black’s Chocolate. chocolate. #dreamcometrue

2017 Highlights

I’m giving all of these equal placing because every one is indelibly engraved into my memory for when I’m an old lady and don’t get out much.

The Jasmine Awards

What can I say? Such an honour to be a finalist and such a day of contrasts. I began my day at BAFTA, followed by tea at the former Simpsons on The Strand with Sarah McCartney and Ruth Mastenbroek and ended it with the 3.15pm school run in Cwmbran.  Unforgettable! You can read about it here.

FiFis

I shall remember my night at the Fragrance Foundation awards for many years to come. I was invited as a guest of Clive Christian fragrance and the team made me feel so welcome. I got to wear a long dress, which doesn’t happen very often to me anymore, and mingle with the movers and shakers in the Fragrance World. It also marked the start of a friendship with FiFi winner Marina Barcenilla and the lovely Stephan Matthews.

photo by kind permission of Sarah McCartney

The Perfume Society Improve your Sense of Smell Workshop

Photo courtesy of The Perfume Society.

The Perfume Society held a workshop fairly near-ish to me in Clifton.  Since this is nearer than London, it was easy for me to attend, being across the water from South Wales (we have up to two bridges now).

I learnt so much in that afternoon  from Perfume Society Founder Jo Fairley, and would wholeheartedly recommend these workshops to anyone, even if you’ve been before!  Read my review of the day here.

Also featured in…

Check me out! I feel wanted and special. I got to work with all these delightful people this year and feel extremely flattered to be on their radar.

Stephan Matthews

Stephan’s Six- I join the ranks of hallowed predecessors and felt very flattered to be included in this legendary column.

Escentual.com

Escentual-  Perfume Expert Thomas Dunckley, (aka The Candy Perfume Boy)   called me a perfume expert too! I’m not in the same league as  Thomas, but I am thrilled to bits anyway. This is where I give my opinion on the most Christmassy perfume ever: Serge Lutens Arabie.  The photo is Thomas’s own.

 

My Beauty Matches– I’ve written several pieces for My Beauty Matches. You can check them out here and here.  A lovely team of people.

 

WOW Beauty– the amazing Denise of Wow beauty asked me to contribute to her fabulous site and I was delighted to join the fun. If you haven’t checked it out, do drop in. Such a lovely environment!

 

Collaborated with…Moodscent Four

This year saw me collaborate with  my wonderful Mood Scent Four colleagues, Esperanza, Tara and Megan. It was all Megan’s idea, so blame her. Megan is a Kiwi, based in the south of France  (meganinstsemaxime) and came up with the idea that four bloggers from four different countries could share their perfume recommendations for different moods and occasions. Every few months we all write about what to wear as a wedding guest, what scent to wear when uplifting is called for, and most recently, our favourite Night Out perfumes. They’re a joy to work with and I am honoured to be their colleague.

Over to you

What were your perfume highlights of 2017? What are you hoping to see more of in 2018? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year and thank you for taking the time and trouble to read my blog posts and follow what I’m up to. it would be very lonely without you all and each one of you is appreciated.

Follow

Fragrance Selection Boxes: How to Let Them Choose at Christmas

 

Marks and Spencer

I don’t know about you but I like all selection boxes. From chocolate to fragrance, I’ll take the lot.  I am in no way advocating that fragrance selection boxes should replace chocolate ones, but rather that they should be avidly encouraged in addition to chocolate selection boxes.

The chocolate sort is strongly encouraged in my house

Right then, now we’ve cleared that up, let’s begin.

It’s a common refrain. People want perfume, after shave and toiletries for Christmas. You ask them what sort and they may say “I don’t mind” or “anything.”

The sheer volume of unwanted fragrances on eBay the day after Christmas tells me that this system of vague politeness doesn’t work for anyone. So what’s the solution? Fragrance selection boxes.

These will offer a variety of fragrances that your intended recipient can then choose from.  If you can add a full bottle gift voucher, even better.

I’ve scouted around and made a list of my absolute favourites, none of which I would turn down (are you reading this in the North Pole Mr S.Claus?)

The Marks and Spencer Ferris Wheel

Marks and Spencer

I salivated when I saw this. Not just miniatures, but generous 12ml bottles of 12 fragrances.

Marks and Spencer

It’s currently reduced to the bargain price of £22. The box is beautiful and your recipient (or you, if you’re weak willed like me and end up keeping it) may find a new favourite. If I was a betting woman I would say this will sell out.

Whilst you’re in there, check out the mini Fragonard sets. I had one a few years ago and the longevity was incredible. You honestly can’t go wrong with Fragonard. Trust me, I’m a perfume blogger. I know this stuff.

The Perfume Society Discovery Boxes

These smart white boxes from The Perfume Society are my guilty pleasure throughout the year. I don’t think there’s a single one I’ve missed since they began. They’re beautifully wrapped so you can give them as they are, and inside there are between eight and ten perfume samples, often with generous beauty treats too such as shower gel or hand cream and I’ve even had  a tiny perfume bottle keyring and a nail polish.

Each box contains postcards with notes about the perfumes within, so it’s a great way to learn what you like and discover new brands.

I’m not on the pay roll, but as a grown up, they are my absolute favourite toy and I love to sit there playing. They also do them for men too- try the Men’s Edit or For Him and there’s a sharing box for couples, which, teamed with a bottle of champagne, makes a fine wedding/anniversary/Christmas gift.

Buy British and Smell Good with 4160 Tuesdays

4160 Tuesdays

4160 Tuesdays is one of my favourite perfume houses. Probably in the top three but don’t make me choose, okay? Too hard.  With delightfully named sets of samples such as “Frocks and Hats” (my favourite), “Love & Life Stories” and “Best of British”, you get seven spray samples and then you add your gift voucher so your recipient can fall in love with his or her favourite and buy up a big bottle with their voucher. Here’s the link.  

4160 Tuesdays

The samples will be wrapped up like little Quality Street in brightly coloured tissue so this is a very user-friendly Christmas gift. There’s no extra charge for the wrapping, it’s all part of the normal service. with 4160 Tuesdays. My favourites are Raw Silk and Red Roses, Killer Rose, Doe in The Snow, Tarts Knicker Drawer and Fruits of The Tree of Knowledge.

Pell Wall: Nine Beautiful Bottles from A Shropshire Lad

Pell Wall Perfumes

Over in beautiful Shropshire, Chris Bartlett of Pell Wall perfumes makes and sells beautiful fragrances  made with his own hands. If you haven’t heard of Pell Wall, you’re in for a treat.  I have tried several from the range and thoroughly recommend them. Best of all, you can buy a Pell Wall Discovery Set containing NINE generous 10ml spray bottles, for only £70.  They come in a box ( see above) and these nine bottles should see you through at least a whole year. My personal favourites are Pretty in Pink, Deep Purple and Anjin.

Jo Malone

My local Jo Malone shop (nearest is Cardiff) is always very busy, no matter what time of year you go there. Fans are die hard and devoted. At Christmas, there is a wide choice of mini sets and selection boxes from which to choose your gift.

Jo Malone

You can buy the London Cologne Collection from Jo Malone or John Lewis, and there’s also the Intense Cologne Collection, and a scented candle selection box too.

Jo Loves

Jo Loves

Jo Loves is a smaller company, also founded by Jo Malone MBE, long after Jo Malone the company was sold to Estee Lauder in 1999.  Jo Loves is a smaller, more personal fragrance house, but no less addictive.  Try the “Can’t Go Wrong” Discovery Set which involves ten sample sprays and a voucher for either a 50ml or a 100ml bottle of scent.  Check out the site here.

This Year’s No Shows

Walter Langley Never Morning Wore to Evening 1894

Sadly, this year there is an absence of the Perfume Shop Viva Boxes, and also of the similar set at Boots, which is also no longer available. Both shops do little mini sets of branded scents (i.e Estee Lauder, Lancôme) but the little mixed sets with a gift voucher are no longer there.  Also, the Fragrance Shop no longer does the Discovery Club, but they do have a new subscription service where you can “date” a fragrance before buying it. You can find details here, but I do miss my little quarterly box of surprises. Sniff. I’ll have to cheer myself with some more chocolate.

PS Try TK Maxx. The stock is always changing, but you sometimes get wonderful variety sets around Christmas time. Last year I saw a Juicy Couture Rollerball set for around £12. This year they have Chloe mini sets, Modern Muse and  Marc Jacobs. Quick!

How about you?

Have you discovered any variety boxes that i’ve missed? Share your tips and insider knowledge!

Follow

Fragrance Shopping for Boys and Teens: The Perfume Society For Him Discovery Box

Many people ask me what to buy the beloved youngsters in their life as their first fragrance. It’s a tricky one. You like that they are taking care of the appearance and image, but  because they’re still young, you definitely don’t want anything provocative. All the seductive and alluring stuff can stay on the shelves, thank you.

I was lucky enough today to press gang my own son, Freddie, aged eleven ( on the right), and his lovely friend Morgan, aged twelve (on the left), into trying out a few scents for me.  I launched them onto the Perfume Society For Him Discovery Box and let them spray with abandon. I absolutely loved their reactions, although our dear chums at Jovoy did not fare so well among this age group!. They both smell great today and Morgan went away with a freebie.

I did not sway them and their responses are unedited.

L-R, Morgan and my son Freddie

Cartier L’Envol 1.5ml eau de toilette (50ml normally £63)

“Smells like a garden centre.” “Not sure.”

 

Cristiano Ronaldo CR7 2ml eau de toilette (30ml/£19.00)

“Smells lush”, “really nice, I love this one.”

This one was a favourite of both boys. Morgan went home with the sample and both were a-sniffing with impressed looks on their faces.

It may have something to do with the fact that they are both excellent football players and avid fans, so this may have swayed them. In any case, a resounding success

Coach For Men 2ml eau de toilette (40ml/£39)

“Oh yeah. That’s nice.” “The Coach one is good.”

Morgan and Fred both liked this one. Cool, fresh and clean, and not remotely provocative.

Dunhill Racing 2ml eau de parfum (50ml/£63)

“Nice.” “Clean” “My joint favourite.”

As for me, I think Dunhill Racing was my favourite, although I was taking a back seat today.

Ferrari Man in Red 1.2ml eau de toilette (50ml/£42)

“Lush,” “I like this one.” “sort of sweet. I really like it.” “Yeah the Ferrari one is my favourite. That and the CR7.”

Jaguar Black Chromite 1.8ml eau de toilette (100ml £55.00)

“Joint favourite” “I like this one, the Ronaldo and the Ferrari one.”  “Can I keep this one, Mum?”

Aww. Of course he can keep it.

Jovoy Private Label 2ml eau de parfum (100ml £125)

Jovoy, my apologies in advance. The exact response was “minging”, “disgusting”, “wash it off”, “rank” “smells like tar.”

Well, thank goodness, they didn’t like this one (It was the most expensive of the lot). Parents stressing over bank accounts will breathe a sigh of relief if they have to get an iPhone as well this Christmas (cough) I imagine.

I’m sorry Jovoy, I still love you!

Kenneth Cole Mankind 1.5ml eau de toilette (£30 for a 30ml)

“Oh wow.” “Yep. it’s good.”

 

Missoni Parfum Pour Homme 5ml eau de parfum (50ml £45.00)

“What’s this for?”  “There’s no spray on it.” “I can smell it now.  Not bad.” “That bottle’s really cute.”

 

Vince Camuto Homme 1.5ml eau de toilette (£45 for a 50ml)

“That smells amazing!” “Like it.” “Who’s Vince Camuto?”

NB The box also contains a 150ml Heath face wash and a mini size Missoni after shave balm and bath and shower gel, making this a great gift set.

The verdict?

Favourites were CR7, Ferrari and Jaguar, with Dunhill Racing, Vince Camuto and Coach coming up close seconds. Sadly Jovoy was not quite for this age group, but their faces were a picture!

Stockists

You can buy this fabulous gift box from The Perfume Society. Mine was sent to me as a gift with no conditions attached.  Opinions are those of my son and his friend.  Thanks boys! Take your pick as a reward.

Follow

The Perfume Society Fashion Fabric and Fragrance Discovery Box: My Review

The Perfume Society

 

I am a helpless addict when it comes to Discovery Boxes and I bless the day Jo Fairley thought “Hmm. That’s funny. There doesn’t seem to be a Perfume Society,” and founded one.  The Perfume Society Discovery Boxes are to me, as an adult, what Sindy Dolls were to me as a child. I can sit there and play with samples and lose track of time and be perfectly lost in my own scented world.

Fashion, Fabric and Fragrance actually arrived a few weeks ago but then half term happened and I had to wrangle some small argumentative people.  Finally, peace reigns and I can stick my nose in the familair white box and share my thoughts.

What I’m going to do is give you a mini review of each one and go into more depth about my favourites in subsequent posts. The box contains the following items:

  • Jasper Conran Nightshade 1.2ml eau de parfum (full price £60)

This opens with sweet, sharp fruit and freesia. There’s the perennial favourite pink pepper, and sharp oranges.  All that blends nicely into a very flowery middle note, which then beds down into a more evening stylee fragrance of cedar, musk and patchouli. This wonderful woody/musky finish was my favourite bit. Funnily enough, although the bottle is purple, this actually smells purple to me as well. Do you ever smell a colour?

  • Elie Saab Girl of Now 1ml eau de parfum (full size £38)

What I like about this flanker is that, unlike many flankers, you can actually recognise the original scent in this.  There’s the original orange flower and patchouli from Le Parfum Elie Saab, but Girl of Now offers a different angle. There is a wonderfully almost-not-quite-marzipan in the opening bars of this. It comes as no surprise to find that there are notes of pistachio and almond here. The white flowers complement the almonds so well, you wonder why it’s not done more.  The base has note du jour cashmeran alongside tonka and patchouli. Cashmeran is that wet-concrete nuance that makes me say “it’s on the tip of my tongue!” as my brain tries to connect a fragrance to a concrete mixer and gets confused. Girl of Now is a wonderful scent and my favourite out of the whole box.

  • By Terry Délectation Splendide 5ml eau de parfum (full size £175) This fragrance comes from Terry de Gunzberg, who also made the wonderful Terry-ific Oud. My first impressions of Délectation Splendide is that it is a gentleman’s cologne that belongs in a very exclusive wood panelled barber shop. It opens with juicy spices: citrus and ginger, and as it calms down it smells of dry, flaked pipe tobacco, black pepper, almonds and patchouli. Like I say, it’s very masculine, but don’t let that stop you. Let’s tear down the walls!

  • Lalique Satine 1.8ml eau de parfum (full size £64)

I’ve never smelled a Lalique I didn’t like. and this lovely scent is no exceptio.   Lalique Satine is a rich feminine fragrance that reminded me of Annick Goutal Tenue de Soiree: a wonderful woody/floral that exudes class and elegance. Satine has beautiful big flowers and on my skin, goes straight into it’s woody patchouli base. In the middle is supposedly pink pepper, vanilla and tonka, but I don’t find this to have vanilla- it’s woodier rather than sweet.  Sometimes in fragrance, you find what you seek so if you look for the vanilla here you might find it..   Lalique Satine was made by genius Nathalie Lorson, who is the goddess responsible for Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium.

fragrantica
  • Estée Lauder Modern Muse 7ml miniature eau de parfum (full size £49)

Modern Muse is a wonderful fragrance that contains a classic selection of flowers: tuberose, jasmine, lily, and then is softened with wood, amber and musk.  It’s one of my favourite Estee Lauder fragrances, although I find the flankers are hit and miss for me.  This is in a similar fragrance family to Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely and Narciso Rodriguez For Her, so you like those, you’ll probably like this too.

  • La Perla La Mia Perla 8ml miniature (full size £39)

La Perla comes in a pearlized box, which had me at hello.  The fragrance is a delicate floral musk, with pretty peony notes and classy orris (I can’t help it, I always think orris is classy). Most of all, though, this is a musk above all else, so musk fans will like this and musk dodgers will not. I’d have liked this to have been a little stronger, but otherwise, it’s rather lovely.

  • MUGLER AURA MUGLER 1.2ml eau de parfum (full size £49)

Using exclusive trademarked Givauden ingredients, namely Tiger Liana and Wolfwood, this rhubarb, vanilla, green and woody scent is beautifully blended and comes in a bottle that looks like a giant emerald.  It reminds me of succulent dark green leaves in a jungle, with sweet fruity edges. You can read my review here.

  • AERIN Evening Rose 2ml eau de parfum (full size £96)

This is my first ever Aerin Lauder, although I’ve heard only positive things about the collection.  Evening Rose is more than just a rose, although the rose is the star. Firstly, two types of roses have been used: Bulgarian and Rose de Mai. Both are known for their uniquely rich facets and together, this is almost like an extrait strength rose. The roses are framed by a touch of cognac, blackberry, black pepper and incense, and that’s pretty much it. The beauty of this heady, rich rose is in its strength and its simplicity.  It’s mega-rose with a European accent.

  • Molton Brown Russian Leather Shower Gel 30ml (full size £20), together with Scented Tattoos- scented tattoos! These are so much fun. They are temporary skin transfers that contain a stunning Russian leather fragrance. The shower gel gave me two generous and beautifully scented bubble baths, although you can of course, actually use it as shower gel. I always associate Molton Brown with every expensive hotel I’ve stayed in (not many!). Gorgeous.

  • Percy & Reed’s A Walk in the Rain Shine & Fragrance Mist FULL SIZE (Normally £15 and launches in the UK in October).

Living in Britain, walking in the rain is a pretty common occurrence. In fact, I miss it when it doesn’t happen for a while. This light hair mist from Percy & Reed not only leaves a little bit of gloss on your hair, but also gives little wafts as you move your head. The scent is green, fresh and slightly minty.

When your mini photo shoot gets totally invaded.

So, there you have it. My favourite was Elie Saab Girl of Now, although there were none that I disliked. This makes for a wonderful collection, and once again, the beauty of this is that the choice of perfumes were out of my hands. I was taken out of my comfort zone and made to meet new friends.  And Reader, it feels good to have new friends.

PS Bottom photo is entitled Invasion of the Cats.

Over to you

How about you? Have you had a Discovery Box lately? Or have  you tried any of the scents in this one? Do let me know.  I always love to hear from you.

Stockists

You can buy the Fashion, Fabric and Fragrance Discovery Box exclusively from the Perfume Society website, along with several other rather nice Discovery Boxes that I will be putting under Santa’s nose.  I bought mine and this is an honest review.

Follow

Three Things I Love About Bronnley Zealous Flower

In the past, Bronnley has had a reputation as being a classic floral brand that “older” ladies liked.  Personally, I’ve always loved classic florals and soaps in wrappers so it’s never stopped me.  However,  the upcoming bright young things of the Twenteens are a capricious bunch with more choices than any other generation that has ever lived.  Brands have to move with the times.

Bronnley has not only moved with the times but added a bit of an edge that is putting them firmly on my list of favourites. Their collection of Eclectic Elements fragrances is packaged for a new generation, but pleases this 47 year old no end.

Today I am wearing Bronnley Eclectic Elements Zealous Flower and I love it. Why do I love it? Well, that’s easy.

  1. It comes in an adorable roll on bottle. (more about roller balls soon because I’m obsessed).
  2. It’s available in a 9ml version so you can live with it for a good few weeks before buying a big one.
  3. It’s inexpensive but doesn’t smell like it is.

Here’s what it smells like:

It opens with pear, orange and bergamot. Now pear has been used A LOT in the past two years, to the point where I pull non-selfie faces when I smell it.

However, in Zealous Flower, it’s the flowers that come out first, not the fruit.  In fact the fruit adds clean edges to the roses and jasmine, which are BIG.  Even the pear knows its place and doesn’t take over.

It must be said that there was briefly a pencil shavings phase which came and went, before the vetiver and amber rounded things off. They never quite see off the jasmine though, which remains the main player here. In fact, at first, I thought this had tuberose in it, such is the white flower richness.

Zealous Flower leaves me with a pleasing autumnal floral on my skin. What I’m left with is a very agreeable accord of vetiver, jasmine, hints of leathery labdanum flower, and some faded roses.

Now, about that adorable roller ball. This has a little metal rollerball that applies just the right amount to skin and stops you going overboard before a day at work. The rollerball version comes in an attractive narrow box in 9ml size and is a good compromise between a big bottle blind buy and having to judge it on a few sprays from a tester. I want more brands to do this.

Zealous Flower is or has also been known as Savage Flower, but I prefer Zealous to Savage.

Stockists

You can buy the Bronnley Eclectic Elements range from Boots in store or online.  The rollerballs cost £10 and contain 9ml of scent.  You can also buy this cute set of whole range minis for £20 from the Bronnley website. My rollerball bottle was kindly provided by Bronnley in return for an honest review, which mine is. This is not a sponsored post. 
Follow

Parfums de Marly Delina: This Extravagant Beauty

The thing I love about discovery boxes is that they put brands under your nose that would otherwise have been off your radar. This was the story with Parfums de Marly Delina- a brand and a scent I had never even heard of. I found this sample in the Perfume Society Latest Launches Discovery Box.

Parfums de Marly was established in France in 2009 and Delina is its most recent launch.  There is a group of noses (can we please think of a word to describe a group of noses?) who work together and alone on the fragrance collection.  Delina was created by Quentin Bisch. The brand name comes from the Louis XVI era of extravagance and luxury that ended with revolution.  Louis dedicated the Chateau de Marly to his beloved horses and celebrated  each race victory with new fragrances.  Louis had his own court perfumer in Jean Fargeon so  all this scented extravagance  makes for a fertile place for inspiration.

Delina opens with bergamot, rhubarb, lychee (or litchi). Middle notes are Turkish rose, lily of the valley and peony. Base notes are vanilla, musk and cashmeran.

On paper, this looks like it would make for an overly fruity opening, but in fact the rose and the rhubarb kind of burst out at the same time.  I love how well these two go together. The rose gets jammy but never sticky and the rhubarb adds a thick richness to the roses.  The musk pitches in fairly early on and softens all the edges, making this in my mind at least, a thick velvety deep rose blanket with delicate fruity nuances darting around delicately.

fragrantica

The base contains cashmeran, which according to Fragrantica (because I’d never heard of it) has a wet concrete facet, and funnily enough, I could detect this in the background.  Rather than being a disaster, it adds a pleasant dampness to proceedings, like wet stone.  Thankfully the vanilla was either part of the rhubarb note or was playing quietly in the distance. It didn’t overtake. This one is all about rose and rhubarb together. They go so well I’m amazed more people aren’t doing it.

photo from Fragrantica

I’m delighted to see that rhubarb does seem to be enjoying a renaissance lately, however. It features in Thierry Mugler Aura and also in Aedes de Venustas eau de parfum (the first one). I also found it in Jour D’Hermes but I’m not sure whether it was supposed to be in there. If I had to isolate a rhubarb note I would describe it as juicy, green, sharp like a gooseberry and sweet like deep red apples. It has a wintery feel that soaks up spices particularly well.  Now I’m thinking about rhubarb crumble. Oh boy.

Parfums de Marly Delina is very long lasting. Two sprays on each arm from my sample kept me going all day with delightful rosy, rhubarb wafts.  It doesn’t come cheap, but when I look at the beautiful moulded pale powder pink bottle I ache to own it. #greed

Stockists

My sample was included in the Perfume Society Latest Launches Discovery Box, but you can also buy  a full bottle from Selfridges and House of Fraser. Prices start at £175 so try before you buy.  I’ve tried and I want to buy.

Follow

The IScent Review of The Perfume Society Men’s Edit Box

mens edit

The other day someone told me that men wear aftershave and women wear perfume. Now, as you can imagine, I begged to differ. My opponent was adamant. Men can’t wear perfume and women can’t wear after shave.  Since my adversary was my seven-year-old son, I couldn’t help feeling that I’d failed him as a mother. He also told me there’s no such name as Kenneth and that he can outrun a Jaguar, but I was less worried about that.

Let me be clear, as a politician would say (can’t remember which one, probably all of them), after shave is fragrance.  Perfume is fragrance. Whatever it says on the label,  if you like how it smells on you, you can wear it.

layton ad

I do occasionally stage a heist into my husband’s side of the bedroom, but seeing as I chose them all for him, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Those nice people at The Perfume Society recently sent me the Men’s Edit Discovery Box, and discovery is the right word. Reader, I have been enlightened. It’s all very well my bemoaning the fact that men don’t wear enough roses, but how about I put my money where my mouth is and wear more so called “mascs” myself? Well, after trying the Men’s Edit box, I can assure you that there are at least three I will be buying full bottles of. Join me why don’t you?

I’m going to write mini reviews below and shall focus on some in more detail later in the blog. Here’s what’s in the box:

layton

 Parfums de Marly Layton 1.2ml eau de parfum (normally £145 for 75ml)

Parfums de Marly is a brand that’s new to me. In the previous Perfume Society Discovery Box- Latest Launches, the women’s fragrance, Delina, was a classy and distinctive mélange of rhubarb and the pinkest of flowers. Layton is of the same high quality and classy distinction. It opens with apples and lavender and calms down into a multi layered wood-fest of every wood from light to to dark to smoky. A flourish of vanilla warms it up. It reminds me of a cosy oak panelled tobacconist. Beware- the middle phase blew my socks off.

dunhill icon elite advert

  • Dunhill Icon Elite 2ml eau de parfum (£95 for 100ml)

The nose behind this is Carlos Benaim, who also made Dior Pure Poison, Viktor anf Rolf Flowerbomb and the original Ralph Lauren Polo fragrance, to name but a few from his staggeringly prestigious portfolio.

My primary reaction to Dunhill Icon was “Aha! Suede”.  It’s a leathery nubuck scent, somehow stronger than suede, which I always identify as a softer toned down version of  leather. I con is dark and tarry, and so leathery that it almost tipped me over into liquorice territory. Addictively sniffable, this smells like the bare chest of a man who has just removed his leather jacket. Trust me, that’s A Good Thing.

feuilles

  • Miller Harris Feuilles de Tabac 2ml eau de parfum (£95 for 100ml)

I adore this classic  (pronounced Foy de Tabac) and declare it totally unisex. I reviewed it  a while back and remember that I rather fancied making my whole house smell this way. It’s the scent of a wood panelled gentleman’s club in Paris. Smoky, woody, herby, lovely.  escentric E

  • Escentric Molecules E 032ml eau de parfum (£72 for 100ml)

This opens with big stringent, clean scented lime, with a hint of black pepper. The vetiver comes out straight away, and the whole thing stays that way for a few hours. After that, the base is sandalwood and clean musk. The lime and vetiver combo never quits though, and this had me thinking of dazzling white shirt cuffs and expensive suits. Yum.

escentric m

  • Escentric Molecules M 03 2ml eau de parfum (£72 for 100ml)

The only note listed fior this is Vetiver.  However, I beg to differ. This stunning fragrance smelled like scorched palm leaves for a few seconds then disappeared.  Then it came back as a sort of sharp, green citrus with a bitter orange edge.  Throughout the day, it gradually morphed into what I can only describe as a grapefruit chypre.  It’s the most vivid grapefruit scent: pith, juice and peel, with an earthy green base.  I completely fell headlong in love with this and I’m so glad I wandered out of my comfort zone, because I would never have stumbled across this otherwise.   Definitely a full bottle scent.

magnolia cc

  • Clive Christian Nobile VIII Magnolia 1.5ml eau de parfum (£350 for 50ml)

Getting my mitts on a Clive Christian sample is always a rare treat. They don’t come along every day, that’s for sure. This magnolia fragrance is utterly transporting, and as a magnolia fan, I loved it.  Again, I call this unisex. I’d marinate in it if I could.  Longevity is outstandingly good. I shall be reviewing this one in more detail soon.

imortelle

  • Clive Christian Nobile VIII Immortelle 

1.5ml eau de parfum (£350 for 50ml)

This stuff really packs a punch. Immortelle is also known as the everlasting flower- a bit like  a yellow cornflower. It has a spicy, faintly curry like nuance, but here it is overtaken by the robust vetiver. It’s a strong, statement fragrance that shouldn’t be worn before breakfast, but should be strongly encouraged for evening.

jimmy choo man ice

  • Jimmy Choo MAN ICE2ml eau de toilette (from £30 for 30ml)

This is an invigorating grapefruit and lemon scent that reminded me a little of Annick Goutal Eau D’Hadrien. It’s fantastically light and revitalizing  with a mossy finish and I’ve no idea why it’s “For Men” because I am seriously getting myself a full bottle.

initio

  • Initio Parfums Magnetic Blend 7 1.2ml eau de parfum (£154 for 90ml)

Amplifying the power of pheromonal molecules to provoke instinct through a sublime breed of violence.

initio adIt’s a lofty claim and one that’s hard to talk about objectively. On Fragrantica, the description doesn’t do it justice- the only note listed is musk. However, this musk will react differently on your skin than it will on mine.  On mine it smells like plasticine.  On you it may smell different. The jury’s out, but I remain intrigued. Maybe in six hours’ time I will become irresistible to all. I’ll get back to you.

EDIT- six hours later my cats keep sniffing my arm where I sprayed this but I can smell nothing. Don’t be put off, I get the feeling this is like one of those lipsticks that changes colour according to your body heat. Results will vary.

bentley momentumad

  • Bentley Momentum1.8ml eau de toilette (£59 for 100ml)

This has huge sillage and longevity and is full of ambergris, sandalwood, moss and musk.  Described as an oriental Fougere, the Nose behind it is the legendary Nathalie Lorson, who has created more major fragrances than I could list, but I can tell you that she made Black Opium, so she knows a thing or two about big hitters, as this one certainly is.

Photo from Sports Illustrated Getty Images
Photo from Sports Illustrated Getty Images
  • Cristiano Ronaldo Legacy 2ml eau de toilette (£29 for 30ml)

Finally, my sons and I have some middle ground to talk about. Football meets fragrance. This is a very decent offering in Ronaldo’s name (let’s not even pretend celebrities make them, OK?). This is a leathery floral musk with daring hints of peony and violet. I say daring because football fans are not known for their penchant for peony. I am happy to be corrected. This is nothing too edgy or original, and you can only find the flowers if our nose seeks them out, but it is the same vein as a good David Beckham scent, only with more fuzzy violets. The Jury’s out on whether it helps you win football tournaments.

eye gel

  • Aromatherapy Associates Refinery Eye Gel15ml – worth £31

A generous sample in manly grey packaging. I like that there are other goodies in Perfume Society Discovery Boxes in sizes generous enough to have a decent trial of the product.

penhaligons moisturiser

  • Penhaligon’s No. 33 Moisturiser 5ml (normally £38 for 75ml)

This comes in the cutest tube in the world. It’s perfect for an overnight stay and smells divine, as you might expect.

MensEdit2017ShopAW2-331x350

Where to buy

You can buy The Perfume Society Men’s Edit from The Perfume Society website for £19 or £15 to subscribers. Subscribing costs just £25  a year and gives a wide range of benefits of which discounted Discovery Boxes are just one. My box was sent ot me by the Perfume Society in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own and this was not a sponsored post.

Follow