If you like your perfumes plummy, purple and fruity, you’re in for a treat, if you don’t, well either politely remember you left the oven on and discreetly escape, or read on and ponder.
The Avon Rare range includes Rare Gold, Rare Pearls, Rare Amethyst, and the divine Rare Platinum. Worryingly, I have not seen Rare Platinum in the last two brochures, so I hope its not on its way out.
Today I am reviewing Rare Amethyst and boy, it sure is purple! The opening note is plum, although this could be easily mistaken for purple grape. There is a sour sweetness to the dry down, like tangy Haribo. The alleged violets don’t make themselves strong enough for my liking, but I like nuclear violets, which this isn’t. The base is sandalwood, although more of a powdery faint woodiness. This is better the longer you wear it. Once the fruitiness calms down a bit, you have a plummy wood scent, although sans the listed violet notes.
Some Avon users and Fragrantica members have compared this to Alien, but I don’t see that myself. Ok, maybe a little bit when it’s really dried down, maybe slightly, and there’s no jasmine here. On the whole though, this sweet fruity opening could put you off, but when it calms down, it’s worth a gamble, especially at only £6.50, its current price.
This is not my favourite Avon Rare, that honour goes ot the tuberose marvel that is Rare Platinum, but this is a decent fragrance for the price, that smells like a pricier High Street buy. The gorgeous bottle makes it a pretty gift for the fan of sweet and fruity fragrance in your midst. And yes, OK, Alien fans on a budget.
Avon Rare Amethyst is currently £6.50 from Avon UK. Although I didn’t see my beloved Rare Platinum in the recent brochure, you can buy it on the Avon website for £6.50. I paid for my bottle and this is not a sponsored post.
I have recently returned to full time work and now work in an open plan office. As the proud owner of many olfactory show stoppers that could kill a canary, I have had to adjust my daily perfume wearing somewhat, now that I am no longer alone for most of the day.
Working in an open plan office, and one that also serves as a Reception, means that the big sillages stay firmly on my dressing table. Not wearing anything at all feels a bit undressed to me, like leaving the house without hosiery or black eyeliner. So, what’s the solution? My friends, I have it. ROLLERBALLS.
Yes, the humble rollerball will almost always stay close to skin, not spread molecules of scent into the air con and will, in theory, at least, only trouble those who have to lean over you to admire your incredible spreadsheet skill.
I have in my handbag a small collection of rollerballs that I alternate. Most often, I find myself wearing the Violets. I’ve yet to hear anyone complain ( to my face), and you’d have to sniff my neck and my scarf pretty hard to know it was there. Please note that I will go to Human Resources should strangers do this to me. Whilst I am sure to never spray in the office, I do sometimes spray some 4160 Tuesdays Paradox on my neck and hair before leaving the house. Paradox is a herby violet fragrance that has a non-invasive and non-aggressive beauty, like a rather pretty garden. it lasts all day and has settled nicely by the time I get off the bus to work.
Rollerballs are generally more popular on mainland Europe and in the US than they are in the UK, but that seems to be slowly changing. For instance, Bronnley does a lovely range of affordable rollerballs- citrine lagoon is pretty and light for office wear and one I wear often. The three in the photo however, were from Al Aneeq via Amazon. None were over £4.99 and all are long lasting without going further than a few inches from skin.
The same applies to oils and solid perfumes. A little subtle application won’t fill a commuter train or bus nor an office. A dab on the neck and in the cleavage will suffice.
Here’s my handbag sized collection:
Al Aneeq White Musk- not as clean a laundry musk as say, The Body Shop White Musk, but a sophisticated 70s s style musk that lasts all day and makes my daily scarf smell delicious.
Al Aneeq Gardenia- a strong white flower that skips over the big creamy Not Tuberose note and becomes a rather traditional linear white flower scent with a hint of honey.
Al Aneeq Violet- My favourite. This is a pure Parma violet violet that I’ve had for about a year and doesn’t seem to go down. I also use it for layering over other fragrances I have which I feel are not violet enough. (Bit not for work).
Bronnley Citrine Lagoon– smells as fresh as stepping out of a clean marine scented shower. Light, pretty and smells a bit like outdoors.
So here are my humble dos and don’t for wearing fragrance in the work place:
Check nobody in your office will object to fragrance (some offices are scent free)
Go small- a few dabs of a rollerball or oil are plenty.
Use light florals or citrus notes
Don’t wear the big ones: Opium, Giorgio or Shalimar. It hurts me to write that, so please go nuts at the weekend and marinate in them.
Don’t spray any perfume in the toilet or everyone will associate your perfume with toilets.
Don’t spray perfume in an open plan office, or you will get looks, mutterings and people saying “what’s that smell?” Not the effect you were going for.
If you are a secondary school teacher, you can probably wear whatever you like. The chorus of Paco Rabanne and Lynx will drown you out anyway. Spray with abandon!
What’s your take on perfume at work?
Let me know your opinion. Where do you work? Do you slather it on or hold back?
I’ve been strangely drawn to this beauty of late. I say strangely because fragrances like these are not usually my cup of tea, but I can’t seem to leave this one alone.
Maybe it’s a reaction to the fact that I am wearing tame day time scents now that I have re-entered the world of full time work again? Maybe I just love the fact that this was only £7 a bottle and I can therefore spray to my heart’s content and still afford school shoes and dinner money? or maybe I’ve changed my curmudgeonly mind and decided that actually, I rather like a fruitichoulil with a playful fruity edge?
Avon Mesmerize Red for Her had me at hello when I saw the glossy crimson flanks of its red glass bottle. With a filigree gold pattern and a co-ordinating box, this is clearly meant to add a bit of eastern magic to your dressing table.
Scent wise, it goes thus: red berries, flowers (I would say jasmine at a guess, although it’s not listed) bergamot to keep it zingy, spices, aldehydes (you heard me) and then a woody patchouli fruity sort of base that lingers beautifully on my pyjamas (cleavage spraying is an unbreakable habit of mine.)
The overall effect is a fruity and sweet floral, without the syrup or stickiness or (praise be!) the ubiquitous caramel note that dominates everything from hand cream to high streets these day. Deep sigh. Mesmerize Red packs a spicy patchouli punch with enough florals to keep it girly and pretty. Fragrantica members reckon it smells like Cacharel Amor Amor and it does, although its not a dupe.
Now although Avon can’t, at this price, use world class high quality ingredients, it’s worth remembering that they often use world class noses, and world class fragrance institutions. For seven quid, I don’t think anyone can do better. This stuff is fabulous.
What can I say? Avon does it yet again.
You can buy Mesmerize Red For Her 50ml EDP from Avon UK. It was £7 when I bought mine. Prices vary .
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.
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.
If you’re anything like me in January, your credit card won’t be speaking to you and you’ll be searching coat pockets for loose change and forgotten fivers. It’s as traditional as losing the scissors when wrapping presents.
If you’re a perfume fan and feeling frugal, I bring glad tidings. There are perfumes out there that cost under ten quid and smell good. You heard me. It’s true. In fact, the majority of perfumes I reach for on a day to day basis are often cheap and cheerfuls that I don’t mind running out of and can be easily replaced.
So, my friends, clutch your tenners and follow me as I tell you about my top ten fragrances under ten pounds.
My £5.99 bottle reminds me of my late grandmother, who was such a lady and never went shopping without a brooch and a scarf. She was class all the way and loved Coty L’Aimant. She was born around the time it came out in 1927 and wore it to dances in the war. It was made in similar style to the newly launched Chanel No 5 which had come out three years earlier in 1924, and smells very similar. I also adore the Art Deco bottle and deep pink box with the gold edging. All this for under ten quid.
Elizabeth Arden Green Tea
Whether you opt for the pillar scent (which is a classic) or any of the excellent flankers, the Elizabeth Arden Green Tea range is a safe bet. Light, feminine, inoffensive, floral and citrussy, they make ideal summer or office perfume and almost always cost under ten quid, unless you see them in Duty Free where they cost a lot more. I particularly like Green Tea Revitalize and Green Tea Exotic
Alyssa Ashley Musk
This is a perfect pocket money perfume that smells amazing, gets compliments and has a subtle but pretty sillage. It was particularly popular in the 1970s but has a lot to offer the woman of 2018. It’s a warm, light, cosy musk that makes people want to nuzzle you. You can buy it here.
Bronnley Eclectic Elements range
This range of fragrances was created to attract a younger crowd to Bronnley, and I’m certainly a fan of both the classic stuff and the Eclectic Elements Range. In other words, I’m a dream customer. Bronnley gets my seal of approval for making rollerball fragrances. Although rollerballs are plentiful in Europe and the USA, they’re harder to get in the UK, so I’m hoping more brands will do this. The rollerballs are priced at under ten pounds, but if you go onto allbeauty.com today and sniff out their sale, you can find 50ml eau de toilettes at £10 too, although that’s sale price, not usual price.
The Yardley Collection of simple floral eau de toilettes are hard to beat. I own Yardley April Violets, Yardley English Rose and Yardley English Lavender. I wear them alone or for layering and I get compliments every single time I wear the rose. The violet helps me “violet-up” fragrances that I feel are missing that…well, that violet note. I also recommend the Lily of The Valley and the Freesia. You can buy them here or in Boots.
Of course, I can’t write about bargain fragrances without mentioning my old friend Avon. Avon is my Go-To guilt free brand. I own about six and my favourites are Avon Perceive Oasis, Far Away Bella and Rare Platinum, which is a gorgeous tuberose and grapefruit combo. Every brochure has a bargain and I never need to wait long until my favourite is £6 or £7. I’ve converted several friends too. The list of perfumers who have worked for Avon reads like a Who’s Who of the Industry: Christine Nagel, Olivier Cresp and Christopher Sheldrake are just three that I can think of off the top of my head. It’s a guilt free win/win pleasure. Here’s the link. Products vary seasonally so if your favourite isn’t around this week, come back and check again.
8. Go Old Skool
By old school, I mean take a second at what your Mum wore growing up.
If I told you that Tweed reminded me a little of Jicky, would you be shocked? It does.
Neither are dupes, but both deserve more love and recognition. I’m also a big fan of Panache and I’ve only now finished a £3.99 bottle that gave me twelve hours longevity after two morning sprays. I have found all of these bottle for well under ten pounds, and even under five pounds. Try allbeauty.com or Fragrance Direct.
Al Aneeq, Crown Perfumes and Al Rehab.
These are all brands that sell rollerballs of high quality, no alcohol fragrance. I own the White Musk and the Al Aneeq Violet, which is a big generator of compliments. (“Yum. I smell Parma Violets!”). Prices start at £1.99 for the delectable Choco Musk, and my trusty 10ml (very strong) violet rollerball was 3.99. Find them on Amazon or eBay. Great for handbags. Prices vary.
Marks and Spencer
And so, we arrive at the perfume shelves of Marks and Spencer. Your ten-pound note will serve you well here. First of all, there are delicious 10ml and 30ml purse-size sprays such as Autograph Blush (light roses and violets, powdery finish, ultra-feminine, not too sweet) or the new Belle. I’ve also seen White Orchid and New York in purse spray sizes in store too. Then of course, there’s the classic pillar fragrance Florentyna, which I reviewed last year. Both flankers are worth a look too and any of them will give you change from your tenner.
How about you?
What are your favourite cheap and cheerfuls? Do you have any under a tenner? Do drop in and tell me . I always love to hear from you.
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.)
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
The Perfume Society Improve your Sense of Smell Workshop
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’s Six- I join the ranks of hallowed predecessors and felt very flattered to be included in this legendary column.
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.
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.
Moodscent Four is a collaboration between four bloggers from four different countries. There’s Megan in France (who is actually from New Zealand), Esperanza in the Netherlands, Tara in England and me, Sam here in Wales. Every few months, we all blog on the same theme and share what scents we use for different moods and occasions. There’s no right or wrong, and every time we collaborate I love to see what the others have written as we keep our choices a surprise form each other until the time of going to press.
This month, appropriately enough for Christmas-tide, it’s Night Out perfumes. Get your glad rags on, and get in a cab with us. It’s going to be a very fragrant ride.
My Favourite Night Out Perfumes
When an invite lands on the mat, or more likely these days, on Facebook Messenger, I find myself devoting far more time choosing my fragrance than I do my outfit (probably something black. Whatever’s clean).
To me, going out means getting the special favourites out. I like to make an impact and when you’re hitting the town, that’s OK. At night, you can let your inner vixen off the leash.
Here are my five favourite Night Out fragrances. Don’t make me choose a favourite. I must own all of these, always.
4160 Tuesdays Killer Rose
I recently wore this to an all-day wedding. It’s my party scent and my favourite evening wear. It grew from the equally sublime 4160 Tuesdays Raw Silk and Red Roses. Killer Rose is a version of that with the volume turned up. There’s big red roses, earthy patchouli, a hint of peach and spice and I even get a waft of violets, which may or may not be there. I often superimpose the smell of violets into fragrances since my brain wants to put them in everything, so it could be ghost violet!
This is the fragrance that my eight-year-old son described as “the best you’ve ever smelled”. I’ve been blogging about perfume since he was four, so that’s a huge compliment.
PS Mini back story: After much Prosecco, we decided that Killer Rose would be my beloved sister in law’s wrestling name. It was a helluva wedding.
Ruth Mastenbroek Firedance
Firedance is the perfect Night Out fragrance for Autumn and Winter. It makes me think of festivals and dark late nights when you stay out way after the taxi drivers have gone to bed. Ah, those were the days! Firedance has roses with sepia, smoky edges and generous swoops of oud and leather, that dart around you as you move. Gorgeous bottle too- very Brothers Grimm! Firedance is Ruth’s fourth fragrance and she is working on a fifth.
Whenever I wear this I immediately feel elegant ( and I’m not). I feel self-assured and at home in my own skin, which is rare for a seething mass of self-doubt like wot I am. Papillon Dryad is the ultimate in elegant and earthy green chypres and it makes me want to strut around like I’m IT. Dryad has notes of earthy green moss and narcissus and jonquil and herbs and all sorts of mysterious things from the forest. When I wear Dryad, I feel confident and womanly. This is a feeling that gets me in the mood more than wine and nail polish.
Le Jardin Retrouvé Tubereuse Trianon
I can’t resist tuberose. After sidestepping it for years, tuberose and I have some catching up to do and I try to insert any opportunity to wear it into my life. Le Jardin Retrouvé Tubereuse Trianon was my fragrance of choice for the annual Fragrance Foundation Awards in May 2017. In a room where every scent was literally competing with another, my trusty whispers of tuberose still snaked up to my nostrils as if to assure me that my chosen scent had not been wiped out by competitors. I still smelled of tuberose when I landed in bed that night. And I had sniffed A LOT of people.
I love Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s fragrances. She can turn her hand from spring flower buds to animalic retro via everything else you could wish for in Perfume Land. Chinchilla is a very animalic musky mossy chypre that smells like it was made in 1924. The name itself evokes a lost world of dark glamour and fur coats and cigarette holders and speakeasies. Now if that doesn’t make you want to go out, then I don’t know what will.
Find out what Night-Out fragrances my colleagues chose here:
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.
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
I salivated when I saw this. Not just miniatures, but generous 12ml bottles of 12 fragrances.
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 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.
Pell Wall: Nine Beautiful Bottles from A Shropshire Lad
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.
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.
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 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
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!
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.
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)
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.
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!
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.
Avon Far Away is Avon’s best-selling fragrance in the UK. Avon daren’t discontinue it for fear of riots . It also has the distinction of being the fragrance I smell most when out and about here in South Wales. The women who love it REALLY love and most of them are repeat buyers.
It occurred to me that I have reviewed many, MANY Avon fragrances but not this one. In the past I have dismissed it and not paid it much heed, but last night I sat down and really paid attention to it. Reader, I learned a thing or two along the way.
Firstly, I once dismissed this as so vanilla-y that it borders on coconuts (true-ish, there are coconut notes and vanilla). However, last night, as I let it unfold on my skin, I noticed many facets I hadn’t previously found. First of all, this is a grand white flower fragrance. It bursts with jasmine and gardenia. I thought I could discern tuberose, but no, it was jasmine and gardenia- a pretty heady combo at any time of day. Also present is karo karoundee- a white flower that has similar nuances to tuberose and is often paired with it. No, I hadn’t heard of it, and yes, I did have to look that up. (Thanks, Fragrantica!).
Before the flowers go anywhere, the peaches emerge, coupled with apricotty osmanthus, giving this a very peachy, powdery accord. This gets stronger until it peaks at freesia, peach and white flowers before relaxing into a base note you will recognise when you walk down my local High Street.
The base notes ares rich in vanilla, musk and woods, but mainly settle to a sweet, peachy and powdery vanilla.
Far Away reminds me of another early Nineties fragrance: Cassini by Oleg Cassini. I wore it a lot as I worked in the evening wear department of a House of Fraser store. There was a display bottle on a stand and we sales assistants all drenched ourselves in it. The peaches, vanilla and flowers have a sweetness in common with Far Away.
Far Away was created in 1994 and its popularity shows no signs of dipping. There have been several flankers, and the one most like the original is Far Away Gold, which is very similar, note by note, but has stronger amber notes and less fruitiness. Also, fact fans, Far Away Infinity smells very similar to Paco Rabanne Olympea but is less than ten quid. Just saying.
To sum up, Far Away is not my favourite Avon, but taking a good look at it really opened my eyes to what a great scent this is. Avon has made a wonderful peachy, powdery, vanilla classic that puts good fragrance into an accessible price range. I couldn’t ask for more.
Avon Far away is widely available. Try Avon UK, Amazon UK and eBay. I get mine off my Avon Lady because then she gets commission and she is lovely.