Tag Archives: expensive perfume

Duty Free Shopping: It’s Just a Showroom To Me


I have just got back from a sensational holiday in California where I was visiting my wonderful family over there. I enjoyed heat, outdoor swimming, fantastic food ( the USA has the best food ever!), and saw wild turkeys, sea otters, dolphins, pelicans, hummingbirds and sea lions.  It was idyllic and I cannot thank my wonderful relatives enough ( although Interflora will shortly be helping me out).



Naturally, whilst I was en route there and back, I made a beeline for World Duty Free (Heathrow Terminal Two) and made several conclusions:

  1. Nowhere will you find cuter mini sets of virtually every brand in cute boxes and cute bottles.
  2. Nowhere will you find bigger price hikes. Even Harrods is cheaper.

So what did I do at Duty Free?  I used it like a showroom and enjoyed testing the wide range of scents that I have not been able to try before.


Notably, one scent that stood out was Chanel No 19 Poudre, which I adored immediately ( I didn’t even dare look at the price), and several Guerlain Aqua Allegorias, which, in San Francisco International Airport, retailed at $75 (or £48.87).  In UK shops you can buy these from around £41.50 ( try Boots), or online at Amazon for just £31.12. In San Francisco Duty Free, I saw Elizabeth Arden Green Tea flankers, (which can be widely had for under £12 in the UK High Street),  retailing at $35, or £22.81.


There has recently been controversy over the fact that supposedly VAT free retailers in airports have not been  passing on the discounts to customers.  So the retailers are getting away without paying VAT, but still marking up the prices and fooling customers that they are getting a bargain.

Now I’m a realist and I don’t expect airports to be cheaper than High Streets, but a 100% mark up with no VAT taken off is really taking the biscuit.

What’s the one advantage of buying at Duty Free? My husband doesn’t know the above and thinks it’s traditional for me to pick up a bottle on holiday. The voice of my conscience was too loud, however, and I left the beautifully lit, fully stocked perfume outlets empty handed, but smelling great. For free.


You can buy Chanel No 19 Poudre from Boots for around £68, Elizabeth Arden flankers for under ten quid on allbeauty.com, and Guerlain Aqua Allegorias for around £31 on Amazon UK.

With love from Santa Cruz
With love from Santa Cruz

Creed Love in Black: Pure Elegance



As you may recall from my recent review of Creed Love in White, I was under whelmed by Creed’s offering, but Creed Love in Black is a different matter.

First of all, on first application (I have a splash sample) it bursts with violets: beautiful sweet, woody violets.  I adore violets and it’s a safe bet that I will enjoy any scent that has them.  However, as you can imagine, this is no one trick pony and the violets segue into a darker more serious fragrance as the cloves emerge in the middle phase.  Cloves don’t always agree with me:  whilst they provide the kind of heat I often seek out, I find they have a burnt edge to them, as if at the bottom of a scorched mulled wine pan.

They are blended beautifully with the violets here though and give the violets a more serious, even sombre edge. The combination of the cloves and violets together frames the Iris, which is prominent, and the base notes dry off into a long lasting and intriguing burst of flowers that are both spicy/rich and delicate at the same time.  The rich Bulgarian Rose rounds things off nicely.

Rather charmingly, Creed Love in Black was inspired by the life of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: still the epitome of cool elegance even years after her death.  Were she alive today, you would never, ever find her taking a selfie. (take note Mrs K.West of Los Angeles).

 Creed Love in Black has the overall effect of restrained prettiness with a hint of spiced wine (probably the cloves reminding me of Christmas) and whilst I like it and enjoyed wearing it today, I probably wouldn’t go as far as spending over £100 on it.  It would make an elegant and distinctive signature scent for the right woman.  I like to think Jackie would have loved it.


Marc Jacobs Ivy (Splash): Saw Price. Fainted.


It was only recently that I realised how many fragrances were in the Marc Jacobs stable. In my ignorance, I thought it was Daisy and Dot and that Honey one and that was about it.  I couldn’t have been more wrong, but then the fragrance world has been such a steep learning curve for me that I am almost doing a complete loop the loop.

I started counting his scents and got muddled at around 30. For a start, Marc Jacobs has a range of incredibly classy splashes in sleek urban bottles that look as if they are from the World’s most expensive spa. There’s Cucumber (which I will gladly skip, thank you), Amber, Violet, Cranberry, pomegranate, Grass, Fig and Gardenia.  I haven’t smelled them, but I would move mountains to own any or all.

I have in my hands a sample of Marc Jacobs Ivy, courtesy of LisaWordbird, to whom I owe so much. My first impression was “Oh it’s green”, then “It’s for men”, then after  a few more minutes “Ahh, Vetiver”. Indeed, Ivy is  beautiful and green, and for men, and women, and gives a great Vetiver hit.

It is one of those wonderful scents that moves and changes as you wear it.  One minute it’s Gentleman’s cologne, the next it’s as green and fresh as mossy undergrowth in a wood,. Finally , there’s a Vetiver finish with a hint of suede to finish that smells like hiding in the silky lining of a man’s leather jacket.

marc jacobs

Male or female, this will smell good on anyone. Vetiver used to bring out my asthma (elderly alert!)  but here it is smooth and mixed seamlessly with pricky Autumnal spice. There is Cardoman and  a hint of sharp Orange for sure, but what makes this so refreshing in Autumn is its lack of gourmand notes.  The spice is used as if it is part of nature, rather than a  shelf in your kitchen. It prickles your senses like a chilly walk through crunchy leaves on the ground.

Price wise, I nearly choked on my mug of tea, sorry, I mean elegant Martini. Yes this is generous and comes in a 10oz bottle,  and no, I’m  not spending  £299 on it.