Category Archives: Oriental

Why I LOVE Gallivant Istanbul (in Capital Letters)

Gallivant is a perfume house that is masterminded by Nick Steward. Nick certainly has the credentials to create his own fragrance brand, having worked at L’Artisan Parfumeur for many years. Inspired by the unique vibes of each city that his scents are named after, each Gallivant fragrance has something quirky and rather wonderful to offer. The nose is Karine Chevallier.

photo of Istanbul from UnisonTurkey.com

Earlier in my blog, I reviewed Gallivant London and Gallivant Tel Aviv. If you haven’t tried either of these, then do try and  get yourself some samples from here.  Recently, two more have been launched, Berlin and Amsterdam. I am hoping to try those soon and report back. There is also Gallivant Brooklyn, which is in the blog processor machine waiting to dry (aka my brain).

Today, my wanderlusting friends, we are discovering Gallivant Istanbul. Follow me as I guide you around this olfactory marvel.

As you might imagine, with its Turkish history and ancient culture, there will be mysterious smoky incense facets to this, and there are. Lots of other brands have done smoky resinous scents but what makes Istanbul stand out is the fresh note that travels alongside the heavies.

Photo from thatbackpacker.com

It opens with crisp bergamot and red thyme, setting me up to think I’m about to dive into a cologne. I’m not massively off track here-because this is followed by a middle phase of lavender- a primary ingredient in colognes and fougeres.

The addition of aromatic cardoman that combines beautifully with the lime and thyme, lifts this out of deep resin territory, whilst keeping that mysterious myrrh note in there. Add some peppery geranium and a woody base of warm tonka and smooth sandalwood and you have Istanbul.

Photo from LonelyPlanet.com

What I love about this is that it seems to include so many facets of a colourful city like Istanbul. There are hints of leather, herbs, citrus, patchouli and musk.  It’s almost like a walk through a bazaar, starting with the exhilarating sea front and ending in the covered markets, still with a fresh breeze in your lungs.   There’s kind of a wetness, or a juiciness to it that stops it being dark and tarry, as resinous scents can often be on my skin. This makes me want to sniff it in great gulps.

As for whether its male or female? It’s for everyone, except my son who declined my offer of a few sprays to wear to Primary School this morning.

Stockists

You can buy Gallivant fragrances, including sample sets from here.  My samples were kindly provided by Gallivant, in exchange for an a honest review, which I have written. This is not a sponsored post.

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Halloween Perfume: How to choose Your Witches’ Brew

Halloween is not necessarily my favourite time of year, but if I ever told my children that they’d be horrified.  So, I go along with it, and I hang round at the back when they go trick or treating (at selected homes so as not to be a nuisance). Meanwhile, for me, it’s a great excuse to have fun with fragrance and add something seasonal to my year-round head to toe black ensemble.

vintage Halloween card.

 

Here are a few ideas in case you want to make your mark on Halloween and add a bit of mystery to your night. Maybe you could play guess the E-numbers with your Haribo Haul? Or wonder why the only traditional Halloween songs are Monster Mash or Thriller? Or you could just cram your little hamster cheeks with chocolate until it’s all over. (I don’t do that. Nope. No Sir). In any case, the perfume world has something for every occasion, even this one.

REEK Perfumes Damn Rebel Witches

REEK Perfumes burst onto the scene in 2016 with Damn Rebel Bitches. This is a fragrance commemorating the intrepid and gutsy rebel Jacobite women who fought back against the English  with all they had. The nose behind this is Sarah McCartney, and a fine job she has done too. This scent  makes me think of wild women with twigs in their hair. The ingredients are inspired by what would have been around way back then so you have clary sage and malt and even  broom ( appropriately enough for Halloween).  But REEK didn’t stop there. Earlier this year, they gave the bitches a sister and Damn Rebel Witches was the result.

Here’s what I had to say about it in my review here:

What I find curious about this is that when you think Damn Rebel Witches has left you completely, it disappears and comes back as a sort of light floral ghostie.  I was sniffing my arm wondering what petal like scent I had sprayed earlier, only to realise that Damn Rebel Witches dies and comes back! How’s that for a party trick? And where did the dark orangey flowers come from? They’re not even listed as notes. It’s witchcraft, I tell you.

Library of Fragrance Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Spice is big news this time of year. It’s everywhere from Starbucks to the mouthwash in your dentist (okay, I’m exaggerating slightly) so you may as well as embrace it. Personally, I love a bit of Library of Fragrance Pumpkin Pie and every time I wear it, I get compliments. It’s just spicy and warm enough and not too cloyingly sweet. Don’t just keep it for Halloween! Sadly, the UK arm of Library of Fragrance has closed and will be much missed, but the European branch ships to the Uk for 6E per package.

4160 Tuesdays Mother Nature’s Naughty Daughters

The  name of this fruity, malty and jolly British fragrance  comes from the ingredients.  It is often believed that natural ingredients are best for your skin, but they’re not! (at least not always) Sarah has made these naughty naturals behave themselves via witchcraft and alchemy.  Actually that last bit isn’t true, she made them behave through encyclopaedic knowledge of skin and substance.  And the fragrance? Here’s what I wrote in my review  which you can find here. The website link is here.

“…On some damp aromatic moss, on a cedar bench after the rain, with a glassful of sticky Pimms and pear pips. Which is not just fine by me, but wholeheartedly agreeable. If birdsong could be bottled, that would be in here too”

vintage Halloween card

Possets Perfumes Ghost Fart

Just for the name alone, this was irresistible, and once I smelled it, I thought the name didn’t do this lovely scent justice (though it did reel me in). There’s no authentic manual that states what a Ghost fart must smell like, so the team at Possets had a little fun with this. This is a chocolate minty gourmand in an oil form which is long lasting and smells delicious. If you haven’t come across Possets before, so check them out. They ship worldwide and are a vegan friendly brand. Here’s their website.

Papillon Perfumery Anubis

With hints of Egyptian mystery and ancient rites, this incredible debut from perfumer Liz Moores is both distinctive and resonant.  If you like Shalimar, you’ll also appreciate the oriental spices and resins in Anubis, but I’m going to stick my blogger’s neck out here and say Anubis is better. Controversial, no?  I’m sticking to my guns.  Anubis has a  dark, resiny enigma about it which I find  both  intriguing and alluring.  Papillon has a good sample  service if you want to smell this range for yourself,  or you could pop into Les Senteurs  in London where they are all stocked.

Dior Hypnotic Poison

The name is so perfect for this time of year, but so is the scent. This deep, almost boozy vanilla comes in a bottle that reminds me of Cinderella’s pumpkin coach after midnight. The vanilla in this borders on marzipan, which is fine by me but gives me cravings for Christmas Cake. I know, first world problem! But if your vanilla palate is jaded by cheap imitaions, then do revisit this beautiful treasure of a scent which always reminds me exactly how good vanilla can be, and should be. You can buy it from here, but it’s available in lots of places. I recommend the EDP over the EDT.

Lolita Lempicka

With a bottle like Snow White’s poison apple and a scent that smells like purple velvet, Lolita Lempicka Eau de Parfum is a great Halloween scent, in fact, it’s a great scent for anytime.  Opening with green ivy, violet and liquorice, and a burst of deep cherries, this is rounded off with woody musk and vetiver. Suitably bewitching for a dark night. You can find it here and read my review here.

 LUSH Karma

I love a bit of Karma. It always reminds me of my friend Alison who has made this her signature scent.  It’s oranges, spices and patchouli. One of the main things I like about it, apart from its gentle hippie vibe is that it holds back on the sweetness and lets the bitter orange shine through without adding marmalade  or vanilla. In fact, Alison, just uses the lotion and still smells enchanting and gorgeous, which she is. You can buy Karma from here.

Lancôme Magie Noire

OK, I don’t need a special occasion to wear this deep, mossy chypre. I love how Magie Noire does a dance of the seven veils and unfurls its layers and notes over the hours and hours that it lasts. There’s ivy, hyacinth and roses as it opens, then deep rich florals- all the big ones, then a wonderfully mossy and woody base of vetiver, oakmoss, incense and smoky resins. It’s like a fragrance chameleon, changing faces as the night goes on. Plus check out the divine poster ads! You can read my review here and buy it from here.

Over to you

So that’s my Halloween round up, although I’d wear any of these at any time of the year. What’s your Halloween fragrance? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

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Clive Christian Addictive Arts: A New Dimension in Fragrance?

In an industry where the pressure is on to launch something new that nobody’s ever smelled before, it’s not easy to keep ripping off a new sheet.  Luxury perfume house Clive Christian is daring to be different and you may be surprised to learn how.  I know I was. It’s as if this elegant, beautifully packaged brand has donned biker boots and decided to lead us astray.  I don’t know about you, but I’m going on this trip with them.

Here’s the idea behind it:

Three perfume pairs with the the core ambition to disrupt the industry with its never been done before ‘mind enhancing’ concept and patented world first perfume artistry technology; Addictive Fusion. 

Exclusive to Clive Christian, this unique form of perfumery combines headspace technology which captures the elusive scents of mood and mind enhancing narcotics, including Coco Leaf (cocaine) and Opium Poppy

In other words, this is more than a scent, it is an experience. It’s a step further for those who want to delve deeper and take things to another level. Don’t tell your parents.

I am lucky enough to have tried all six. They come in three pairs, a masculine and a feminine version, but of course, you can wear these any way you like and even layer them if you want to.

Here’s my impressions:

Chasing the Dragon Euphoric Femme

The big, big first note you get here is an iris and jasmine accord. The iris is smooth and soothing but still allows the ylang and jasmine to come through. The woody notes come in then, but the big florals never leave. There is a boozy nuance,  like a small glass of expensive sherry filling the room with its sweet and dark aroma. This adds to the voluptuous richness, giving this an unmistakable touch of luxury.

Chasing the Dragon Hypnotic Masculine

As you know, I don’t really pay much heed as to whether a scent is masculine or feminine. If I like it, I’ll wear it, and this I like. There’s a leathery medicinal feel to it when you first dive in. After that, it’s every note you would asscoiate with being dark, alluring, spicy and even tar like. There’s elemi (also used in cough mixture), resins, black cherry (which adds a hint of the tobacconist), oakmoss, patchouli and smoky, smoky smokiness. This is cigars, dark wood panelling and very late nights. It also lasts until dawn, unlike me.

Jump Up and Kiss Me Ecstatic Femme

I love the name of this. I’m five feet two and irresistible so I hear this a lot. This is gigantic tuberose, but without any sugar coating. It smells medicinal, and creamy and almost lily like- you know when you stick your nose so deep into a lily that you get pollen on your nose? No? well don’t try it. It doesn’t come off. It’s that rich, high scent from a spectrum that covers clove, antiseptic, celery, cream, a florist and pure white soap. It’s finished off with a hint of smoky vanilla which feels like just the right note for this. Anything sweeter would have been wrong. This is utterly addictive. It doesn’t fade either. I was sniffing my pillow two days later thinking “Can it still be the tuberose?” Dear reader, it was.

Jump Up and Kiss Me Hedonistic Masculine

Opening with a burst of rather butch citrus (think of an upmarket barber shop) this beds into an herbal middle accord of clary sage and those black cherries again. I’m not used to black cherries in scent, but I think they really work with resin-y ambers like this and I’d like to see it more. I love the kind of deep fruity but tarry vibe that it adds. Somewhere within Jump Up and Kiss Me is a “secretive narcotic ingredient”. Now on this bit, I can’t be sure. I sniffed and sniffed and what did I get? Bitter dark chocolate. Now, that my friends, is my favourite drug, so maybe this bit is open to interpretation. Try it and report back to me next time you’re in Harrods.

Vision in a Dream Mesmeric Femme

My favourite out of all six samples. This is a beautiful oriental chypre that showcases green galbanum with violets and crisp, green fruit: and that’s just for starters. The big floral middle notes remind me of those classic floral chypres of days gone by, but with a sharp green modern twist. There’s jasmine, neroli, narcissus and a combination of heliotrope and orris that seem to be made for each other. There’s something almost powdery about the effect these two notes have on the big white flowers. Maybe that’s why I find this to have traditional nuances without feeling dated. The base is vetiver, patchouli and very noticeable cedarwood. Gorgeous.

Vision in a Dream Psychedelic Masculine

An interesting blend of bitter greens with smoked incense. This opens with kaffir lime and apple, but the papyrus (a relative of the heady head shop scent nagarmotha) adds an interesting vibe to this. Funnily enough, my first thought when smelling this blind was clean paper and joss sticks. It gets intense and complex, like slow burning fireworks and leaves spicy trails of clove, pepper and cinnamon.

 

 

The Verdict

I was dazzled by the quality and depth of all six of these fragrances. They have an edginess and an audacity that I really admire. Whether they had any kind of effect on my mind is hard to say and will be entirely subjective. I get my kicks from half a bottle of Malbec twice a month and a lot of chocolate.  However, I love the concept of this. It’s almost “Fragrance as a portal” and now that Clive Christian has blazed a trail and laid down the gauntlet, I’d be very interested to see where others follow.

Stockists

Launching TODAY, right now, as I type, the Clive Christian Addictive Arts range can be found exclusively at Harrods, Knightsbridge. Samples kindly provided by Seen PR, for which many thanks. This is not a sponsored post.

 

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My Top Ten Autumn Fragrances 2017

Photo of the Forest of Dean Gloucestershire, taken by me.

It’s with reluctance that I put away my eau fraiche bottles and my sandals and my sunglasses. They didn’t get used much this “summer”, which I believe fell on a Tuesday here in Wales.

Being pale and slightly on the gingery side, I far prefer the cool weather to the hot, so I’m very comfortable in Autumn and the colours of the changing trees have me in raptures.

Photo of my home town Cwmbran, taken by me

When it comes to choosing Autumn fragrance, I don’t just like to go for the warm spices, I like to go for the aldehydes, deep vanillas and the chypres too.  I love the fact that the cold air brings out the best in some fragrances that might just be a bit much in the heat.  In fact, I thought it was high time I did a list of the fragrances I like best in Autumn.

My list below is in no particular order because putting them in order of preference would be impossible. I would happily go through gallons of all ten of these and would find it impossible to choose a favourite.

4160 Tuesdays Eau My Soul

My most recent review and a real treat.  This is the first ever truly democratic fragrance with each note being voted for by members of Facebook group Eau My Soul and used in accordance with its popularity.  It does help of course if the person making it is genius perfumer Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays. This is a sandalwood, incense-y, citrussy, floral delight.  But don’t take my word for it. Order your Sample now.

Photo by Thomas Dunckley for Papillon Perfumery

 Papillon Dryad

Papillon Dryad is the creation of the uber talented Liz Moores and was born in the heart of New Forest among trees. It is THE mossy green chypre I have been searching for. You may think a scent as green as this belongs in spring, but trust me when I tell you chypres are sensational in cool weather. You can buy Papillon Dryad from here and read my review here.

 

Le Jardin Retrouvé Cuir Russie

Le Jardin Retrouvé is a wonderful brand with a touching backstory. The perfumer Yuri Gutsatz sadly passed away in 2005, having created a collection of wonderful niche fragrances.  His son Michel has revided the brand and carried the family torch into the Twenteens and thank goodness he did. Although I had smelled and enjoyed a sample of Cuir Russie, it wasn’t until I entered a room in which  perfume writer Stephan Matthews was wearing it that I realised how many nuances this beautiful leather scent has. All the fragrances in the collection are excellent and the dreamy ethereal artwork by artist Clara Feder adds a unique whimsy and beauty. You can buy it from here and read my review of the whole collection here.

First by Van Cleef and Arpels

First is the nearest thing I have to a signature scent. It’s a long-lasting floral aldehyde created in 1977 that unfurls its notes in layerss as you wear it.  I’m completely smitten and have nearly emptied my 60ml EDP bottle. Can’t live without this one. You can read my review here and buy it from here. 

Firedance by Ruth Mastenbroek

You may recall my recent review of perfumer Ruth Mastenbroek’s fourth fragrance, Firedance. With big notes of rose, leather and oud, Firedance is a beautifully blended Damask rose scent that has incredible longevity and is perfect for Autumn.  Wearing these feels both cosy and celebratory,  like being wrapped in a warm blanket whilst fireworks go off.  I love it. You can buy it from here.

SJP Stash

Sarah Jessica Parker is the range I point people towards if they ever tell me they don’t “do” celebrity scents. With the enthusiasm of a true fume head, SJP knows her perfume like Carrie Bradshaw knew shoes. Stash is a unisex, woody, sandalwood, incense fragrance that is mature and audacious. You can buy it from Superdrug. 

DSH Chinchilla

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has this knack of creating modern perfume that make you think you have just prized the lid off an unopened chypre from 1920. How she gets them to smell vintage is beyond me, but she does it beautifully. Chinchilla evokes fur stoles, glamour, cigarette holders, and opera gloves. It is a superb example of a classic chypre. You can buy DSH fragrances from the website here and read my review of Chinchilla here.

Marina Barcenilla India

The multi-talented Marina Barcenilla is a gifted natural perfumer who has won not one, but two coveted Fragrance Foundation Awards (or Fifis).  India has sandalwood and tuberose and roses all in one stunning Autumnal scent that radiates from skin and gives a good eleven hours longevity.  I also have the rollerball skin oil, which also makes your skin smell incredible, as well as leaving it silky soft. You can buy MB Parfums from the website here and read my review of India here.

Tauerville Amber Flash

The  delightful Andy Tauer has branched out into a wider reaching and more affordable range of fragrances under the umbrella name of the Tauerville Flash series.  Not that his usual scents are overpriced- they’re worth every penny.  I loved Amber Flash and reviewed it here. It is as it sounds, but so much more too. It gives off a cosy warmth and a heat that is just perfect in cold weather (and of course, unisex). You can buyTauerville scents here.

 

Aftelier Amber Tapestry

Somewhere in Berkeley California, Mandy Aftel mixes and measures until her natural fragrances are just right.  Amber Tapestry is the perfect name for this.  The fragrance opens with orange flower and gets warmer and more resinous as it unfurls its layers on your skin. Ending with a long lasting base of resinous, leathery vanilla, Amber Tapestry is just what I want to wrap myself in when its dark outside. You can buy Amber Tapestry from Aftelier.com and read my review here.

Over to you

How about you? What do you reach for in Autumn? ambers? vanilla? chypres? or something completely unexpected? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

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Firedance: The New Fragrance from Ruth Mastenbroek 2017

Rejoicing in each moment of contentment in life. In Firedance, Ruth presents a scorching, modern interpretation of the classic rose perfume, as exotic leather dances in surprise harmony with the main character – smouldering Damask rose. Set against a warming backdrop of oudh and patchouli, a shining amber note radiates from the skin in this memorably intimate and sexy perfume.

Today is the day that Ruth Mastenbroek launches the fourth fragrance in her collection: Firedance.  Ruth is an experienced nose who has worked behind the scenes in the industry for fourdecades before going solo in 2010 with her first scent, aptly named RM Signature.  You can read my review here. After that came the wonderful Amorosa, followed by Oxford. Now the trio becomes a quartet, with the arrival of Firedance.  Ruth has also redesigned the brand to reflect that every drop tells a story and using a palette of black and gold, these new designs reminded me of the original illustrations to Grimm’s fairytales ( see pic and you’ll know what I mean).

So was Firedance worth the wait and is it a worthy member of this scented quartet? Absolutely. Here’s why.

Now, first of all, this is a rose/oud/leather fragrance. We all know that rose and oud and rose and leather have been done before, but dear reader, not like this.  The leather and oud is there, of course, but the first thing I noticed about Firedance was the rich, dusky Damask rose and then, would you believe it? Carnations.  In the same way that Serge Lutens Vitriol D’oeillet made me sit up and take notice, Firedance stopped me in my tracks.   A drop of clove oil is the culprit, and whilst it doesn’t dominate, it adds a wonderful peppery spicy addition to proceedings.

This is me with my treasured bottle from Ruth.

I composed Firedance to capture those special moments that make me appreciate what I have.- Ruth Mastenbroek

For full disclosure, I’m not really a big oud fan (there, I’ve said it), but the oud here smells different. It doesn’t take over but still makes a contribution.  In fact, it adds a kind of fruity earthy accord that makes the rose more robust. It seems to blend seamlessly with the amber to make a sort of amber-oud or oud-amber. The amber takes the edges off it.

To me, it adds layers and makes this a sort of 4D rose, with petals that have crisped through age, like dusty pot pourri, whilst still having plump satiny petals in the centre. My nose also picked up little facets of powder, which always makes me think of a 1950s dressing table. I often find this with rose, whether the powdery note is deliberate or not.

Ruth Mastenbroek. Photo from Twitter

There is a  measured heat and an autumnal feel to Firedance, which makes this a very appropriate launch for the first day of Autumn.  This is rose with warmth, earthiness, spice and the kind of longevity that lingers on your pillow when you wake up the next day.  It’s not cheap, but it is very good value.   Ruth makes it herself. There’s no committee, no big factory, no billboard marketing. You’re paying for the ingredients and the expertise of a perfumer with  four decades of skill and experience.

Firedance is a stand out earthy, dusty rose that’s not quite on the turn, not quite over. This is the perfect farewell to summer and a warm scented blanket for the colder days ahead.

Stockists

Ruth Mastenbroek Firedance is available from the website and from Fenwick’s, where Ruth will be giving a talk on 14th September. Check out The Perfume Society website for details. My bottle was given to me by Ruth Mastenbroek in return for an honest review, for which, my warmest thanks. Opinions are my own.

 

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Welcome to MoodScent 4! In the Mood for Mainstream Scent

moodscent4 turquoise

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

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

first big

First by Van Cleef and Arpels

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

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

l-aimant-1947

Coty L’Aimant

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

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

lovely

Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely.

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

lovely pic

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

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

lovely

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

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

lair du temps ad

Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps

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

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

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

the_library_of_fragrance

Library of Fragrance

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

loulouadvert

Cacharel LouLou

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

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

My Mood Scent 4 Chums

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

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

Over to you

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

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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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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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.

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Avon Imari: It’s Coming to the UK

imari
Photo from Fragrantica. Design may vary for the UK introduction

My dear Avon Lady Jill gave me a little perfume sample when she dropped off  a late item yesterday.  I’m used to this now- Avon launches wide and often, which is fine by me.  However, when Jill said “This one’s called Imari” I stopped in my tracks. “Just a minute,” I thought, “that one’s only available in the USA.”

Dear reader, and fellow Avon fan (probably if you’re reading this) it is true.  Imari is coming to the UK.

sweet honestyThis has got me very excited because if they can bring Imari to us, then what else can they do?  I have always thought that if Avon did a heritage range of old favourites, then the people in my age group, i.e. late forties (but we look younger) would snap them up before you could say Foxfire.  Dare I hope for Eau Givree? For Odyssey? For Charisma?  My wishes are not impossible dreams. They did after all, bring Timeless back when customer clamour deafened, and jolly good it is too.

But did you know for instance, that the USA Avon brochure has Sweet Honesty, Odyseey, Candid and Night Magic?  Dare I hope we’re getting them too over here in the UK?

odyssey

So what’s Imari like?

Well it opens with citrus for a clean, bright opening.  There’s a nice bit of soapy aldehydes in the beginning, before this lurches into rose and patchouli territory, with some big noticeable white flower notes. It’s all rounded off with a bit of musk, incense and amber.  Despite calling itself a chypre, this lacks the mossy note that qualifies it as one, but I’m not going to nit-pick, because I want more.  There is a touch of vanilla in the finish,  but its warm and cosy rather than sweet and cakey.

imari 2

Avon has a particular talent for channelling into what’s hot on the high street and providing its own, more affordable take on current trends.   What delights me about this one is that Avon is looking beyond its younger demographic.  After all, they have all the vanilla and fruity florals and praline combos they could ever dream of.  What joy then, to get something for me and my tribe of fellow grand dames of a certain age (but look younger).  Imari was originally created in 1985, and we know how great all those fragrances were.

Avon Imari will be in the next brochure and you can queue behind me if you like. It won’t be expensive.  Avon UK, if you’re reading this, please bring the others over too!

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YSL Black Opium Floral Shock

floral shock

As you may know, I’m not really a fan of Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium.  I am a fan of Old Opium or OO as dear Lisa Jones calls it,  but sadly,  Black Opium was a turkey for me.

Ironically, I have in the past complemented two strangers on smelling fabulous, only to find out it was YSL Black Opium.  I guess, like stilettoes, it’s good on other people but not for me.

black opium

Recently I came across the latest Black Opium flanker,  Floral Shock. Anything with Shock in the title is always worth a punt and I tried two squirts on skin, one on sleeve and one on a blotter.  Reader, if I told you that the blotter is still going strong after a week, would you believe me? It is true. This stuff has nuclear longevity, which makes it a curse or a blessing depending on your preference.

Personally, I could define very few differences between Floral Shock and Black Opium.  The opening of Floral Shock is lighter than the opening of Black Opium and has more florals, as the name would suggest.  Both open with pear and vanilla and sweet syrupy fruit,  at least to my nose.  Both have strong coffee notes and thick vanilla.  In fact, the main difference between Black Opium and Black Opium Floral Shock is that the top notes of Floral Shock are slightly more floral.  The flowers do a little shimmy number, and then Floral Shock turns back into Black Opium again.

The Fragrance Shop UK
The Fragrance Shop UK

Apparently, Floral Shock has no patchouli in it, but I discerned plenty, or maybe I was getting confused because Black Opium has it and this is very similar.  What I know for sure is that if you already own a bottle of Black Opium then you probably don’t need this one too. There’s not much to play for.  In a fight it would be a draw.

This review  is, of course,  just my opinion and not gospel.  You may be one of the strangers I stopped and said “Sorry to bother you, but you smell amazing.  What is it please?” If you do wear this, you probably smell great, but trust me, on my skin this was red syrupy fruit, pears, coffee, vanilla and a little touch of migraine.

Fans of YSL Mon Paris and Dior Poison Girl may well enjoy this too.

Stockists: I found this in House of Fraser. You can also buy it from The Fragrance Shop UK among other places.

How About You?

Have you tried Black Opium or Black Opium Floral Shock? or are you a fan of the original? Or even the original original?  Do let me know.  I always love to hear from you.

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FiFi 2017 Winner: MB Perfumes Black Osmanthus by Marina Barcenilla

MB-Parfums-Perfume-Bottle-F

If you’re in a  floaty peony sort of mood, I’m afraid you’ve come out of the wrong lift.  But if you’re looking for Black Osmanthus,  follow that woman with the black lipstick.  Follow her into that unmarked door with the smoky jazz  drifting out of it.   You’ll find what you’re looking for in there.

mb parfums all

Black Osmanthus by Marina Barcenilla won this year’s Fragrance Foundation Award for Best Independent Perfume, and I for one, was jolly pleased.  It’s not just because Marina does everything herself, including sourcing the absolutes and extracts that she makes her potent potions with, but because Black Osmanthus is not your usual dab it on after a shower and wear it to work fragrance.  Black Osmanthus breaks the mould and gives a rude salute ,  which appeals to the rebel in me  that so often, by necessity, gets supressed.

Osmanthus is the name for a genre of around 30 types of blossoming plants. Petals are usually white and the scent is likened to fruity, leathery blossom, often with apricot or peachy cadences.

Black Osmanthus is heavy, leathery, smoky and to my nose at least, has a hint of gorgeous creosote, like a freshly painted fence.  This is by no means a criticism- creosote is one of my favourite scents ever.

sam and marina
Marina Barcenilla at the FiFis. She let me hold her award for the photo. I am planning to steal it.

Black Osmanthus opens with all the subtlety of an Avon Lady knocking your door down with a sledgehammer.  On my skin, it takes me straight into smoky, leathery tar territory and I pretty much stay there.  I should tell you that Marina wore this the night of her win and in a room full of fume heads wearing their favourite scents, this beautiful smoked leather was distinct and true throughout the evening.

Black+Osmanthus (1)

This is made from layers of leathery notes: There’s rich saffron stamens, dark patchouli, almost sticky in its depth,  bay rum and myrrh.

The flowers are, if you’ll pardon the pun, no shrinking violets: there’s tuberose and jasmine and they’re not dainty.  The oakmoss sits with the other tough guys and makes this the ultimate dark, leathery spicy scent for those who have been seeking exactly this.  It reminds me of those little vials of Middle Eastern attar with its amber juice that let the fumes escape like snakes.

Lasting power is fantastic.  Spray at dawn and enjoy wafts of it until dusk.  And then stay up all night.

Further reading  Check out Stephan Matthews excellent review here.

Stockists  You can buy Black Osmanthus samples from the MB Parfums website, but beware, this may lead to a full bottle and you will have to get used to telling strangers what you’re wearing.

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