I was recently sent a bottle of Clive Christian 1872 For Women to see what I thought of it. I already had friendly feelings towards the brand as I had met the legendary Keith at the Clive Christian desk at Fortnum and Mason. He knows the brand better than I know myself.
My second visit to the same desk yielded a fascinating tour of the scents and some samples from the lovely Tamara. Both were charming and did not appear to mind that I did not (could not) purchase a bottle.
Let’s get the awkward money chat out of the way right now- this stuff is really expensive. Doesn’t mean we can’t sniff anf enjoy though. In fact, if you did have money to invest in scent, you could do a lot worse than Clive Christian with its rich heritage dating from, yes, you’ve guessed it, 1872. Queen Victoria let the Crown Perfumery company use the image of her crown as a symbol of quality on their bottles, and when they went out of business, Clive Christian stepped in and the brand was born (and the beautiful bottles are the same design).
So, what does it smell like?
The first things that make their presence felt in 1872 are citrus and herbs, namely lemon and rosemary. Rather than give this a culinary feel, however, it gives it a light, clean sorbet opening. It cleanses the palate before you’ve eaten the entrée.
The middle note brings out the chorus of jasmine and freesia, but the big diva here is the Rose de Mai. Whilst this precious rose is very much in the room, there is something cold and metallic about 1872. Maybe because it smells faintly aquatic, or because it lacks a warmth- I don’t know. Sometimes, in the hot weather, a cold scent is what you need to cool down so I declare this an excellent scent for summer, (if memory serves. Haven’t seen sun for a loooong time).
As the base notes kick in, this becomes a floral lemon/lime melange. It smells crisp and cool, like pressed linen, and with only a trace of the oak moss I was hoping to be enveloped by. The base then settles like a sunset into richer notes: a hit of patchouli and a satisfying fix of dark guaiac wood.
Some Fragrantica readers reckon that this smells a bit like Calvin Klein CK One. Now, whilst I can see similarities, Clive Christian 1872 has more depth and resonance and far more complexity. I have always found CK One to be a bit shrill on me, in any case.
All in all, if I had a money tree in my garden like my children think I have, then yes, this beautiful green and gold bottle would live happily on my dressing table, and I’d let it bring all its friends.
Clive Christian is available from Fortnum and Mason or from Harrods. My bottle is on loan and opinions are my own. Which rhymes.
Thank you to Claudia: this is on its way back after its little holiday chez IScent.