There is a lot of debate about the importance of using natural ingredients in perfumery. Some people maintain that they will not use any non-botanical materials in their skincare and perfume, and that is their prerogative – there are some wonderful creators who produce beautiful fragrances
I can personally vouch for the Roxanna Illuminated Perfume range – I’m a fan of their Vera and Greenwitch solid fragrances and I am intensely envious of the fact that Sam is going to visit Mandy Aftel’s Aftelier Perfumes studio in California when she goes on holiday.
I can appreciate the hard work that goes into creating natural fragrances, where you can only use a handful of ingredients rather than the much broader range used in commercial perfumery. But to be honest, synthetics don’t scare me. (Your mileage may differ, as they say.)
Interestingly, a friend who has suffered with eczema for the last 40+ years, has recently been given a definitive allergen test that has confirmed she is allergic to Linalool. Now, while this is indeed a chemical, it is one that is present in an awful lot of plants. Lavender is a big ol’ Linalool producer, as are cinnamon, mint and basil, so a lot of very virtuous natural products bring my friend out in a hideous rash.
My friend is much safer using synthetically-fragranced products, as she can be certain about their contents. Sarah McCartney has developed a pair of non-allergenic fragrances that I tried recently and liked enormously. There is a lovely, cozy informality to the Alpha and Beta fragrances from Our Modern Lives.
Sarah explained the concept of this fragrance brand as being a mix and match one, to suit a wearer’s personal preferences and lifestyle choices. Along with the two non-allergenic fragrances (which I will be sending to my currently unperfumed friend), she has created a lovely range of seven all-natural fragrances to have an effect on the wearer’s mood and energy – from an energising yellow to a meditation-enhancing blue – and if a wearer chooses, they can layer on the Alpha or Beta fragrance to add radiance and longevity to the naturals. All the fragrances in the collection are beautiful, and having discussed this with Sarah, I am tempted to try layering some IsoE-Super with my favourite naturals to try and extend their life on my skin and increase the sillage.
What Do You Think?
Where do you stand on naturals and synthetics? Are you happy to wear anything as long as it smells good? Or do you feel happier wearing something that is plant-based? All opinions are welcome and it would be interesting to know what you think.
PS EDIT from Sam Check out Glastonbury based Marina Barcenilla’s superb award winning range of all natural fragrances at MB Perfumes.
I heard of this line years ago, when we perfumistas could post little parcels of decants and samples back and forth across international boundaries without a care. Stickers? Declaring dangerous contents? Pfft! Such ideas hadn’t been invented, and IFRA hadn’t spoiled our fun with their nasty old regulations about potential allergens.
The world is a safer and sadder place nowadays. Safer, because no postperson has to go to have stitches put in their hands while reeking of Shalimar after a flimsily-packaged bottle smashed in transit. Sadder, because I can’t just ask my buddies to send me ‘a little drop or two’ of something, drop a little parcel into the post in return, and find myself able to try things I can’t ever remember seeing in an actual shop in the UK.
I had tried a few of the DSH fragrances before and was impressed by their style. I like woods and spices, and she handles both well. And of course I had heard about her recreations of classic vintage fragrances such as Guerlain’s Jicky (DSH’s version is Passport a Paris and it’s very good! It has the ‘lemon and lavender floor polish in a posh house’ vibe to it that I love so much).
I knew Dawn had created a set of fragrances to complement a showing at the Denver Art Museum of the Yves Saint Laurent retrospective exhibition, So when my American friend Joe pointed out that there was the annual 20% off sale on the whole DSH collection, I rather splurged. There were so many of her fragrances that I wanted to try – two from the YSL collection for starters. I was able to order from the US and have these sent to the UK because DSH offers what she calls a ‘Voile de Parfum’ format, which doesn’t contain alcohol and consequently isn’t considered dangerous to ship by air.
“The Tuxedo for a woman was revolutionary and avant-garde at the time that YSL began introducing the style into his collection… Le Smoking is a gender-bending classic that’s great on both men and women.”
Described as “a sophisticated green chypre tabac fragrance” Le Smoking has a deep emerald green opening that has a little rasp to it but no bite as so many vivid green top notes do. This brightens as it opens up, becoming slightly soapy, in a good way. The heart has a spicy aspect to it, with some flowers, but there’s a green woodiness that is pure chypre and that sings like a crystal bell. I adore this heart, it’s gorgeous and wonderfully retro but modern.
It is unisex, and it certainly speaks of classic chypre fragrances to me. The base is lovely and this is one fragrance from DSH I need in a larger size. I’d like to try the eau de parfum spray to see if it’s any different from this formulation, and perhaps has more throw, as the voile de parfum stays close to the skin.
Not to be confused with DSH’s Euphorism d’Opium, from the Denver art exhibit mentioned above, which is a recreation of the eau de toilette strength of the famous fragrance, this is a recreation of the original Yves Saint Laurent Opium parfum extrait from the 1970s. I am a huge fan of the pre-reformulation Opium and have a significant stash, and I have to tell you – this isn’t it. This isn’t even slightly like it. I was deeply disappointed the first time I tried it so I have come back and will give you my impressions of it as a fragrance, pure and simple.
Well for starters, this one isn’t unisex, it’s definitely a feminine fragrance; in fact it’s a vavavoom sort of feminine fragrance. It has round and creamy topnotes, with something a little lush and ripe in there, possibly a rich gardenia note? It is certainly oriental, definitely retro, and possibly a little dark for mainstream tastes (this is a very
good thing to many readers, I know). There’s a funk to it that is indolic and slightly rude – I suspect Sam will have one of her eyebrow-raising responses to this, which always make me laugh. I shouldn’t wear it to work, unless you are Dita von Teese.
I couldn’t restrict myself to just two samples of course, so I shall return shortly with more delights from Dawn Spencer Hurwitz.
I’m among friends here, aren’t I? So you’ll all understand how much of a big deal being let loose in a perfume lab with a pipette was for me last Saturday.
Yes, my scented chums, a little dream of mine came true when I attended the 4160 Chypre Workshop and made my own chypre.
With perfume being My Thing, and chypres being My Favourite Genre, it was pretty much an all-my-birthdays-are-happening-at-once sort of day.
So what goes on at a chypre workshop?
There were around six of us and the workshop took place upstairs at the 4160 Tuesdays studio in London. We were greeted with tea, coffee and goodies, and were allowed to fiddle about with the many 4160 Tuesdays purse sprays that were lying around. That would have kept me happy all day, but it was about to get even better.
We went upstairs to the studio and sat around the Big Table, whilst trying not to be distracted by The Wall of Scent: a cabinet full of vintage and modern scents. Some are classics and some are just plain nigh on impossible to find. I had to turn away or I wouldn’t have got anything done.
First of all, Sarah doesn’t so much teach, as blow your mind. I won’t put spoilers in, but just for starters there’s a theory behind the disappearance of the Marie Celeste that may be related to something we handled at the workshop. There’s also a shocking list of chemicals that will make you think twice about natural ingredients. NB I contain zinc, hydrogen dioxide and potassium, but you should see what’s in a kiwi fruit!
Some ingredients cost more than a kilo of gold bullion and tiaras.
There are Mysore sandalwood trees that have armed guards 24/7.
What I learned about the history of “powdery notes” very nearly put me off “powdery notes.”
Cocoa absolute smells and looks like Marmite, until you do stuff with it.
Orris butter will blow your mind in the same way wasabi paste once blew my head off.
The first thing we did was smell sniffing strips. As a perfume blogger of over five years standing, this was a new experience in that there were many ingredients I had never smelled on their own. For example, galbanum, used so beautifully in Chanel Cristalle, smelled much grassier and earthier than I imagined. ISO E Super on its own smelled faint and vaguely ozonic, but lined up alongside say, iris or veramoss (oakmoss substitute) and it emphasises the strength of its surrounding ingredients and brought out the best in them like a great backing singer.
Although my brain didn’t want to leave the studio, my stomach had other ideas and so we all crossed the road and had lunch together.
Despite having unbridled access to granola flapjacks and chocolate cookies, we headed to the divine Paolo’s Café on Vale Road for our lunch. The hardest part was choosing from the delicious brunch menu, and the easiest part was guzzling the delicious chips. there was a brief sleepy time period which my brain had to fight, but I put that down to an early Welsh start. Paolo’s Cafe is worth the trip, trust me.
Making Your Own Perfume
The afternoon session was where we made our own perfume. Several things shocked me about this.
The lack of uptightness from Sarah when she let six fume heads loose on several jars of the good stuff without saying “Get off my things” as I probably would have. In fact, she was highly encouraging and happy to get stuff out of the cupboard on request.
Making perfume involves a great deal of trying different combinations of fragrance together.
In case this sounds like stating the bleedin obvious, I’ll explain what this meant to me: I had a preconceived notion of all the perfume ingredients I would use in my dream perfume. When I tried this on sniffing strips, they didn’t “agree” with each other, much to my surprise. So the iris and galbanum that I had initially planned to include, stayed in the bottle since they didn’t get on, at least not on the day they met. I also loved the Jasmine on the smelling strip, but again, it didn’t play nice with its new friends so it had to go. Along with all my preconceptions of how easy making perfume looks
.There’s an awful lot of maths and a bit of chemistry. I needed help from the teacher with the maths as I’d been up since 5 am. Luckily the teacher was very nice about it.
You start by making a “mod” in a little bottle. Once you’ve chosen your smelling strips and they smell like they all get on okay, you drop tiny drops of actual ingredients into your mod jar to see if they get on in person, as it were. Mine didn’t make enough noise, so I cranked up the Ambroxan and the violet and added some stuff from a new jar I came across called Karmawood. Thus Mod 2 was created.
Lisa and I were both shocked that our bottles were topped up with the good stuff. We had both thought that our mods would be added to some kind of suspension agent, but that wasn’t the case. The big pipettes came out and six of us went away with a combined total 300ml of very, very good ingredients between us. There’s no diluting. We used the proper big jars and filled our bottles to the brim.
It is worth noting however, that the ingredients we used were not 100% strength, as I am reliably informed that that would knock you out cold. For perspective, a 5% rose is very, very strong. These are the jars that we used to fill our bottles.
Here’s the maths. You divide the number of ingredients and proportion of those ingredients into 50ml so you can fill your bottle. Thus: You have say, five ingredients and you want double karmawood and violet, but single doses of everything else and your sheet looks like this: 8ml veramoss, 8ml bergamot, 16ml karmawood, 16ml violet, 8ml Ambroxan, In fact that came to 56ml so I under pipetted and topped up with a “blob of rose”. If you had twelve ingredients you would…nope, sorry, can’t do it.
My very own fragrance in my very own bottle to take home.
I called mine Maenad, which is the name of the handmaidens to Bacchus, God of Wine. Lisa named hers Watson because it has a “lemon entry”. (“Elementary Dear Watson.”) Sarah recommended a spray or three, and then put them to bed for two weeks to mature.
Having my very own custom-made perfume was a deep and gratifying thrill, and trust me, I’m going back to make more. I wasn’t very good at perfume making, but the wonder of it all was the biggest olfactory thrill of my life. Usually, only Sir David Attenborough can make my jaw drop like that.
By the way, if you’re familiar with the 4160 Tuesdays Naughty Cupboard ( sale page), I am here to tell you that it is an actual cupboard and I stood in front of it drooling for a good twenty minutes. ( I also bought stuff, more of which anon.)
I would like to thank Sarah McCartney from the bottom of my heart for a breathtakingly memorable and exciting day. In case you haven’t gathered, I would recommend these workshops as a must for anyone even remotely interested in scent. You won’t be sorry and the thrill of holding your own bottle of fragrance feels amazing.
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.
My dear scented chums, I must apologise for the lack of blog posts here lately. The heart was willing but my time was spread thinner than Marmite.
On my complicated Mind Map To Do List that makes my head spin, is a list of blog posts I have been meaning to get around to writing. Obviously, I haven’t written them, so it’s doubtful now that you will see them before Christmas.
Here then, is a list of blog posts you can look forward to after Christmas (Sorry they’re late. The cat ate my homework)
Purse Sprays and Rollerballs
How I love those handy little perfumes! Travel size, rollerball, mini sprays- I want them all.
I have three samples from Richard E Grant that I am looking forward to reviewing (initial thoughts are favourable) but it is Christmas Eve Eve now and I’m not going to get that one done before Christmas.
The Perfume Society Velvet Collection
Another winner of a box from our friends at the Perfume Society- this time with a bar of Green and Black’s chocolate that was gone faster than a stolen car.
100bon -Centbon perfumes
I have a full bottle of Davana &Vanille Bourbon and several wonderful samples to tell you about. The brand is pronounced Cent-bon as a play on words “c’est bon” = “that’s good”. I shall be getting stuck in very soon.
Avon for Men
My love affair with Avon continues and this time I’m looking at the men’s’ range. Watch this space for some great bargains.
I’ll be back now in a minute–
As we say in Wales. I shall have to sign off and come back to you after Christmas otherwise I’ll never get the stairs done or put the ham in for my troupe of Christmas Eve visitors. If my tales of woe and drudgery haven’t made you run away, please let me take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a wonderful 2018.
I hope to tempt you back with my scented tales and reviews as I approach my fifth blogaversary in January. Oh, and did I mention giveaways? Lots of them too.
Mandy Aftel is a revered world-wide authority on natural fragrances, and flavour too. To receive samples all the way from Berkeley California to my humble end of terrace home in overcast South Wales makes me feel very honoured. When I heard Mandy was working on a scent called Velvet Tuberose, my antenna twitched in anticipation. It’s no exaggeration that since learning more about fragrance, tuberose has become a firm favourite of mine. I couldn’t wait to see what Mandy would do with it.
Velvet Tuberose is in solid fragrance form. This means that you can travel with it, apply it on a train without annoying anyone and Mandy can post it to you, even in the UK. It also means that the waxy texture won’t dry your skin out. Reader, it lasts and lasts and lasts. Here’s what I thought about it:
Velvet Tuberose opens brightly and loudly. It’s heady and thick and reminds me of the hottest days in summer full of flowers and bees and heat. As this peaks, there is a pleasant woodiness to Velvet Tuberose, which takes over when the thick summer flowers tail off. You have the creamy headiness of the tuberose, that faintest hint of celery that plays hide and seek and a sweetness that lies somewhere between a florist and a snapped fern leaf. I found a lot of sharp greenery here, which offsets the richness of the tuberose absolute. Yes, Mandy has used tuberose absolute. It’s not the cheapest way of doing things, but Mandy sources her materials with great care. The quality of the ingredients really shows: not just in the longevity but in the fully rounded notes that seem to get plumper and richer, rather than tailing off and fading as some liquid fragrances can. Although it’s not listed as a note, my nose found traces of earthy honey in here that warms this big white floral up for winter.
Longevity is remarkable. Apply in the morning and when your head hits the pillow at bed time, you’re sniffing the air and thinking, is that still me? It is.
Velvet Tuberose is a high quality rich tuberose with a chorus of flowers to introduce it, and a finale of sandalwood and honey to round it off. Tuberose fans will adore it, and people who are not yet tuberose fans might find that this is the one that converted them to Tuberose Love.
You can but Velvet Tuberose from the Aftelier website. My sample was kindly sent to me by Mandy Aftel, for which, warmest thanks. No conditions were attached and this is not a sponsored post.
I was recently lucky enough to receive a little bundle of samples from the genius perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. I liked every single fragrance. However, some of them took hold of my heart and wouldn’t let go. Despite the Non-Spring weather here in chilly Wales I’m going through a big floral phase at the moment.
There were so many beautiful floral notes in these fragrances that it felt like a little olfactory tour of an exclusive florist.
DSH Perfumes Fleurs du Soleil
Fleurs du Soleil takes tuberose to the tropics and introduces it to new company. This is the kind of tuberose I am always seeking. I last found it in By Kilian Good Girl Gone Bad, and how I swooned!. It’s borderline vegetal, but at the same time, it feels like plunging your nose deep within the heady petals of this unique flower that always makes its presence felt. Around the tuberose is sweet honeysuckle, and a touch of citrussy fruit to stop everything going too flowery. It’s beautifully balanced and I keep getting little wafts as I move. Wonderful!
DSH Perfumes April
April smells exactly like playing in the garden as a child. The most prevalent note to me, is sweet pea. I remember the scent so well from my childhood. The olfactory memory is extraordinary and I remember garden scents from over forty years ago. Don’t ask me what I had for breakfast earlier today though.
April has just about every note you would expect from a Spring scent . It evokes green grass, spring flowers and tiny bunches of violets (which have no scent in real life, sadly). Also in here is sweet clover, which I used to actually eat when I was about five. If you pluck a juicy petal out of the flower, at the base you will find nectar and it tastes as good as it sounds. I also used to eat fuchsias and daisies, although this was not encouraged. I suppose I was rather odd, looking back.
What I like about April is that so many flowers are here, but somehow it smells clean and fresh, rather than sweet and overpowering, like some florals can smell. This is everything you can smell in a spring garden, buds, grass, moss and all.
DSH Perfumes Bluedaisy
I think of this as a daisy and blue sky all in one, such is its lightness and airiness. This comes from the grapefruit, which opens the fragrance, and the delicate flowers that follow the citrus notes. This would fit into the fruity floral category ( it has grapefruit, yuzu, passion fruit, oranges), but I still think of this as primarily a floral. The fruits here seem to frame the flowers and make them sing louder, almost like a conductor waving a baton.
I noticed the passion fruit, but then I thought- isn’t that perfect with sweet pea? I noticed the almondy, waxy petals of frangipani and the clean, almost herbal background of fresh, very green grass. This is a happy, Zippety Doo Dah feel good scent that really makes you appreciate how beautiful nature is.
All my samples were kindly supplied by Dawn herself, for which, warmest thanks. There were no conditions or obligations attached. The good news is that Dawn ships all over the world (with a few exceptions) so UK fans can order and enjoy these nature friendly scents. Here’s the website link.
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz very kindly sent me a batch of samples recently. I was delighted to receive them and delighted to review one of them here. There’ll be more reviews to follow, but I felt an urge to get stuck in when I wore the stunning Chinchilla today.
Chinchilla was inspired by olde worlde glamour: a world where women still wore chinchilla stoles and their best diamonds to dazzle suitors. Chinchilla has a vintage feel to and I mean that in its most literal sense. You know when you open a bottle of vintage perfume and it’s gone amber? That’s what chinchilla smells like. But it’s more than that. Chinchilla packs an animalic punch that puts this straight to the top of the “Perfumes That Smell of Sex” Top Ten.
Containing civet (secreted from glands of the civet cat), hyrax (from hyrax urine crystals) AND castoreum (from beavers), this animal note is unmissable and written in bold. There’s honey too, which always reminds me of the smell of skin. Like all the best vintage scents, this has a wonderful chypre feel with oakmoss, bergamot, musk and vetiver. It reminds me of scent from the 1920s and 30s. If you yearn for the olden days when perfume smelled like perfume and came in heavy glass bottles, then Chinchilla is for you. Personally, I adore a classic vintage-feel chypre with a hint of Grrr, so Chinchilla is for me, too.
PS My cat Danny the Ginger Ninja went MAD for this.
You can buy this and other DSH perfume from the website. Sample kindly supplied by Dawn, with warm thanks from me. Opinions are my own.
You may recall my recent review of Bergamoss solid perfume from the lovely Mandy Aftel. Well dear Mandy has now launched Bergamoss as an eau de parfum. To say it works well is a understatement.
Bergamoss is an unusual green chypre in that it is delightfully spiky and refreshing in summer but rich enough to be perfect for winter too. It’s hard to do but as usual, Mandy has pulled it off, and amazingly, by using only natural ingredients too.
Bergamoss opens with lime juice so fresh it makes your nose tingle. It’s as fresh and immediate as if you’ve just sliced into the lime that very minute. With the subtle sweetness of a peach giving this a pretty face, the nutmeg and herbs take over giving this a slightly savoury bite with a mossy finish. I find the notes jump out at me more in this liquid form. The solid Bergamoss has the same notes but the nuances emerge at different times. The EDP spray has more of an immediate impact. The base notes have a delightful thick greenery, although I didn’t quite catch the civet- you may find it, but I did not. This does not mean it isn’t there- I often find civet where there is none and fail to find it when it’s there.
As much as I loved the solid Bergamoss (and how I long for more solid perfumes!) I found the EDP pleased my need for instant gratification. Longevity is the same, but the EDP is slightly louder. My advice is buy both. The solid is perfect for inoffensive office wear and commuter train etiquette. The EDP is when you want to take Bergamoss out on the road and see what it can do.
Green chypres are my favourite type of scent and Bergamoss is up there with the greats.
NB Whilst Bergamoss solids are now a long term Aftelier item, the EDP is only available until Valentine’s Day. All Aftelier scent can be ordered from the Aftelier website. With warmest thanks to Mandy for sending this to me.
I was recently sent a sample of Mandy Aftel’s new solid chypre “Bergamoss” from the delightful Mandy herself, who is a pleasure to deal with and has no qualms about Fedexing stuff from sunny California to overcast Wales to my eagerly awaiting mitts.
Funnily enough, Lisa Wordbird and I were recently lamenting the lack of solid perfumes these days, with Lisa making the very valid point that you can usually get them past customs when taking fragrance on holiday. There is a nostalgia about them too, and I guess I’ve never grown out of the novelty of having an Avon Daisy shaped brooch that concealed a solid perfume wayyyy back in the 1970s when I just a slip of a girl.
So I love solid perfume, I love chypres and I love Bergamot. What could possibly go wrong? Nothing at all. It’s wonderful.
Bergamoss initially threw me a little because it was so remarkably refreshing. I don’t know about you, but as much I love my chypres, I don’t always expect them to go zing! But this one does. I had all these questions coming out of my head like a cartoon: Is that lemon grass? Are there herbs in this? Why does it smell so zingy? Well as you know, Mandy navigates the tricky world of making all-natural perfumes so when she uses Bergamot, it’s the real deal, hence the sharpness of the citrussy opening. This beds down into something greener and more complex and I find myself wearing a beautiful summer chypre.
Yes this is a refreshingly green and pleasant warm weather chypre which, rather than being mossy and rich and decadent ( i.e the types of chypres I am used to) it is spicy, tangy and green. It reminded me in fact of lemon grass, which manages to be both delicate and strong at the same time. Although beautifully blended, you can smell that these ingredients are natural. There’s no whiff of synthetics and no hint of everything being sanitised for the modern palate. This is earthy, beautiful and bangs its own drum. I give it ten out of ten.
Longevity initially confused me. Once you put this on you don’t smell it in the same way as if you’ve just sprayed yourself liberally, it’s more close to skin, but catching little wafts of it as I go about my day made me realise that even if I can’t smell it (at least not without sniffing my skin), it is very much there and this reassures me that others can smell it too.
I got around five hours of pleasant wafts, and not much after that, but the beauty of applying a solid perfume is that you don’t offend anyone. Imagine someone sitting on a train or in an office and having a good few squirts of their usual EDP. They’d get looks and possibly tuts (In Britain, that’s actually warfare). Imagine applying a solid perfume to behind your ears and neck- not a mutter from anyone, just a pleasant subtle waft that gradually floats up in a very inoffensive “Don’t mind me” sort of way, whilst at the same time, allowing you to smell how you want for the day.
As you can see from the photos, Mandy can decant the solid scents she makes into the most beautiful antique compacts, and you can rest assured that Mandy uses pure ingredients such as organic beeswax and jojoba to make them invisibly spreadable.
You can buy all Afterlier products from Mandy’s website, which also gives you an insight into the work she carries out. Thank you Mandy for my beautiful sample! ( Opinions are my own)