Tag Archives: good cheap perfume

Fragrance for the Frugal 2017

thrift

Now that my blog is four, I thought I’d better do some housekeeping. One of my most popular articles is “Perfume for Paupers”, written two years ago. It  was my guide to how you can smell good without blowing the budget. It was written from the heart (and from past experience ), since I believe that you don’t have to be rich to smell good.

pandora
Nope. No money in the money box.

However, as you know, the industry changes faces like a kaleidoscope in even a short space of time.  For example, many celeb scents that I reviewed  then, have been discontinued, and many new affordable options have appeared on the market in just two years.  However, much of what I wrote in my earlier article still stands: shop around, be selective, use eBay, look past the label.  I reckon it’s time for an update.  Here’s my guide on how to smell good without feeling bad.

Edith Evena as Lady Bracknell
Edith Evans as Lady Bracknell

Leave your snobbery at the door

I used to be in an exclusive long term relationship with Chanel Cristalle and would only rarely have flings with other scent on the side.  During a frugal period in my life, I decided to shop around, and my love affair with scent truly blossomed.  I hold allbeauty.com and Home Bargains responsible for this. I bought the cheapest scent I could afford and ended up finding some firm favourites.   High price tags do not always mean high quality., and vice versa.  Don’t overlook celebrity fragrances either. They are all made by professional Noses and  are usually cheaper than other brands. Some of my favourite celeb scents are under £10. 

Recommended: Celine Dion Sensation,  Sarah Jessica Parker  Lovely,  JLo Glow, Madonna Truth or Dare.

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Avon

Ok, I’m starting to sound obsessed with Avon now, but when you an find a decent perfume for under seven quid, well, then it’s very hard to stay away. In fact my SOTD is Avon Rare Platinum and those tuberose wafts are very pleasing to my nose today. Avon Perceive Oasis was my summer scent more than any other in 2016. I even bought a back up bottle.  I give Avon a further thumbs up for selling purse sprays at just £3 and for currently selling Scent Essence Lime Verbena for just £2.50 for 30ml.  All prices correct at time of posting.

Recommended:  Lime Verbena, Avon Little Black Dress Eau Fraiche, Avon Rare Platinum, Avon Perceive Oasis, Avon Tahitain Holiday, and for fans of La Vie est Belle, Avon Cherish.

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Go for preloved

I have bought a lot of perfume from eBay and have never been let down. EBay is pretty strict on counterfeit and it’s not worth most people’s trouble to try and sell the odd fake. Having said that, there’s no guarantee it’ll never happen to you, but in seven years I’ve not been conned.  EBay is also great for perfume samples which helps avoid costly blind buys. I’ve also scored some blinders from a local car boot sale.  Never underestimate how much somebody else can dislike a perfectly good bottle of perfume and be desperate to get rid of it. That, my friends, is when you  circle and swoop.

Success stories:  100ml of Cabotine for £3.99 on eBay, bottle of LouLou and assorted samples for £7 on eBay, bottle of half used 100ml of Rive Gauche for £4 at car boot sale.  Full 50ml bottle of Chanel Coco EDP for £26 on eBay.

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Go retro

Some of my favourite cheap and cheerfuls are the kind of scent young folk today might label as “Nan perfume”.  I prefer the term “classic. ” Nobody will put me off Coty L’Aimant or Chique and I could buy both bottles with ten quid and still have change for a Daim Bar.

Recommended: Coty L’Aimant, Yardley April Violets,  Chique.

 

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Get good samples

If you’re saving for a bottle of the good stuff and in between bottles,, why not just buy a few samples and use your favourites on high days and holidays? It’s cheaper than a full bottle and you can always smell expensive without having a shelf full of posh bottles and no money in the bank.

Recommended: The Perfume Society for great, hard-to-find samples, and The Fragrance Shop for a quarterly box of new releases.

sam collection

Swapsies

You’d be amazed how many of your friends have been given perfume they don’t like and don’t wear. Nobody seems to throw it away though, so get asking. You might find they have one of your favourites and that dusty bottle you can’t get rid of might be just their cup of tea. I dare you to ask four friends if they have a bottle of perfume they don’t really wear.  It also works on forums such as Fragrantica, Mumsnet and Fragcomm.

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I bet beautiful Ruby Rose wears whatever the hell she likes. Photo from Pride.

Go unisex

Many men’s fragrances are cheaper than women’s ( though not all). There’s no rule that says you can’t wear his stuff or that he can’t wear yours. Having said that, although I reguarly raid my husband’s scent collection (I chose most of it- ergo it’s mine.) I can’t see my husband borrowing my SJP Lovely to wear for work anytime soon. Shame. Florals can smell good on men.

grand-canyonHere’s what I mean by cheap and cheerful for chaps:  Old Spce (cheap as chips) doesn’t smell a million miles away from Yves Saint Laurent Opium. (Thanks for the tip Portia of APJ), and Avon men’s fragrances are truly excellent. I wore Wilderness for Men for the whole of August one year, with a pretty sun dress. I say Pah! to labels. If it smells good wear it.

Recommended: Avon Destination Grand Canyon ( reputed to smell like Terre D’Hermes), Lynx  Urban DailyTobacco and Amber, Jovan Musk For Men, Lidl XBolt (pleasant, apple-y top note.)

white musk

Al-Rehab, Al Aneeq and Crown perfumes

These mini rollerballs are available from Amazon and eBay. Containing no alcohol,  and usually in rollerball format, these are an unbeatably cheap way to layer notes or wear the scent alone.  The violetjasmine and the rose single note fragrances are pretty good too. They make good presents and a 10ml rollerball is perfect for even the smallest of handbags.

Recommended:  I particularly like Violet and  the White Musk. neither cost me more than 2.99. A friend of mine adores Choco Musk at only £1.99.

How About You?

What’s been your best frugal fragrance?  Do let me know.  I always love to hear from you.

photo by Alison Oddy
photo by Alison Oddy

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Orla Kiely by Orla Kiely

orla kiely bottle

Orla Kiely is the Irish designer who always reminds me of a 21st century Barbara Hulanicki with her quirky geometric prints and repeat patterns. It seemed inevitable that a fragrance would follow and I’m glad it did. This pretty scent is not only ideal for daytime and work wear, but has a very agreeable price: retailing at under £20 a bottle.

Orla Kiely opens with refreshing bergamot, tea and peach. You’ll be pleased to know that my description doesn’t make it smell like Liptons Iced Tea, although I wouldn’t mind if it did. The flowers emerge gradually and there are some pretty petals in here- namely roses, geranium and peachy osmanthus. A little hint of juicy fig peeks out and there is a whisper of chocolate. The chocolate is thankfully used sparingly here  The tea and the bergamot restrain it from going down an overly sweet route.

orla collection

The base is sandalwood, fig and again the very mild soupcon of chocolate. For a few moments there was a definite hint of pencil shavings on my arm, but sandalwood can sometimes do that to me. The finish is a woody floral melange with a refreshing tang of tea. All in all, a good buy that will stand you in good stead for Spring and Summer. It should almost go without saying that the box is pretty too!

One Fragrantica user reckons that this is similar to Must de Cartier Eau Fine, which can’t be a bad thing with change from a twenty pound note.

Stockists

Orla Kiely is available from Amazon.co.uk at 19.95 for 100ml. I received my sample in a Perfume Society Discovery Box.

Photos

Photographs: Top photo from Fragrantica, bottom photo from www.thewomensroomblog.com

Perfume Under £15: And you won’t smell cheap. Promise.

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On my dashboard at Iscent HQ ( which is very glamorous and doesn’t have workmen in it and a roll of old carpet in the porch), the most popular searches by a country mile are “cheap perfume” and “best cheap perfumes”. January was an especially busy month for the bargain perfume hunters and so I thought I would write a guide for good perfume under £15. I’ve done a list for under a tenner, and even a list for under a fiver, so here’s my list of best buys for under fifteen quid.

Whether you’re spoiling yourself or someone else ( Valentine’s Day is in 14 days), £15 can get you some really good stuff and with my trusty guide nobody will smell cheap. I wouldn’t do that to you.

1. Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps

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This timelesss classic is always on my dressing table. With its combination of light airy florals and warm amber undertones, you cannot go wrong. Bizarrely, I found this on SportsDirect.com for a tenner.

2. Calvin Klein Obsession

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A classic 80s Oriental that has by turns been both derided and admired. I think it’s time put this hard hitter back on the map. You can buy the 30ml for under £15 on allbeauty.com

3. Davidoff Cool Water

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This ozonic light scent is a crowd pleaser and a safe bet. Easily obtained with change from your three fivers. You can get Davidoff Cool Water For Women  from allbeauty.com currently at £10.95.

4. Elizabeth Arden Fifth Avenue

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An appealing light-as- air floral, with lily of the valley and lilacs, 5th Avenue is an ideal office friendly scent. Check out my review here. You can get a 75ml bottle of this at allbeauty.com and I have seen it on offer at The Perfume Shop and The Fragrance Shop recently, although prices change frequently.

5. Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely

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In a sea of smellalike celebuscents, Lovely stands alone as pure quality. With lavender and citrus in the opening, and musk, patchouli and amber in the base, this is another bottle that’s a permanent fixture on the groaning IScent dressing table. You can get a 30ml bottle from Fragrance Direct.

6. Library of Fragrance

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There are too many to choose from this great range. All are £15, with some being only £10 ( check the Library of Fragrance site for details). In Boots, it’s two for £25, which works out even cheaper. My favourites are Musk #7, PlayDoh (think vanilla), Four Leaf Clover, Orange Blossom, Mahogany, Mango, Grass, Rain, Moonbeam and Salt Air.

7. Marks and Spencer

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We are spoiled for choice these days at trusty Marks and Sparks. I recommend Monotheme Classic White Musk, Classic Sweet Violet, or Classic White Gardenia , currently at only 14.60. Fragonard is also on offer: Fragonard Jasmin or Sweet Pea are both currently at £14.40, or Rosie for Autograph, a fragrance made with centifolia roses, which I previously reviewed here and wear often and which is currently at £11.20.

8. LUSH:Gorilla Perfumes

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For me LUSH Gorilla Perfumes are hit and miss but I suppose the beauty of them is that they’re not mainstream crowd pleasers. Gorilla Perfumes now has Three Volumes, and my two favourites are Karma and Imogen Rose from Volume One. You can buy Karma from £12 and a solid of Imogen Rose for just £10. Both are long lasting and good value.

9. Avon

scentessencetrio

Our old friends Avon almost always have decent special offers on which usually means you can buy two for £14. Offers vary, but my recommendations are Little Black Dress, Tahitian Holiday  (which reminded me of Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess) and Premier Luxe, which is an iris/blackcurrant chypre. I also love the Scent Essence range, which has a great Bergamot fragrance.

10. Cacharel

anaisloulou

Cacharel makes two of my favourites: Anais Anais (pronounced AN-ay-ISS) and LouLou. The former has been around since the 70s and the latter is a big 80s classic that takes me right back to my days listening to The Cure with a red wine moustache. Be sure to get the Anais Anais rather than the Anais Anais Premier Delice version, as the Delice version has been sweetened for the modern palate. You can buy Anais Anais from Escentual for £13 although it’s also easily found on the High Street .You can find LouLou in Boots for £14.99

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So there you have it. If I had fifteen quid to spend, I would be very hard pushed to limit myself to one. Do let me know what your favourite perfume bargain is. I always love to hear from you.

Taylor of London Intrigue: Debunking the “Old Lady Perfume” myth

intrigue

 

Intrigue used to be Yardley Intrigue but is now made by Taylor of London. It’s a traditional floral chypre that I should imagine a younger palate may describe as “old lady.”

I feel very strongly about such a term when used regarding perfume.  Whenever I hear somebody use that term I replace it with “retro” or “Grand Dame” or “classic”, because so many powdery chypres were exactly that.  These mythical “old ladies” knew a thing or two about perfume.

Secondly, the more mature women round these parts, always smell fabulous. On them I smell wafts of Cinnabar, Aromatics Elixir and White Linen. My Mum smells incredible in classic fragrances such as Panache and Tweed. Whereas a much younger perfume wearer recently floored me ( in a bad way) with a thirty foot trail of Diesel Loverdose in all its sickly sweet glory. Thirty foot away! I kid you not.

Glad I’ve got that off my chest, now let’s look at Intrigue.

old school scent

Described as a floral chypre, this has top notes of citrus, violet and petitgrain, middle notes of rose and jasmine and a base note of cedarwood, musk and moss.

It’s a powdery floral that reminded me a little of Worth Courtesan without the knickery finale.

Despite opening with citrus and petitgrain, this is not an astringent eau de cologne intro, it’s a musky, soft floral with a mossy and woody base. In fact all the notes seem to come out at once and stay put, making a floral woody accord with a wake of soft feathery musk.

On Amazon, reviews are favourable, apart from a few fans of the original who state that it is not as it was. This is their right, and I cannot correct them as I haven’t smelled the original. However, as a very cheap and very cheerful floral chypre, this is a great little treat.

Stockists

You can buy Taylor of London Intrigue on Amazon UK or on Perfume Click (they are awaiting stock at the time of posting this). Prices are upwards of six or seven quid.  I had mine for Christmas.

Fragrance Under Five Quid- The 2015 Guide

fiver

You may have gathered by now, since I am on post Number 602, that I am rather fond of perfume. Since I intend to review 1001 perfumes and I don’t have the income of an oligarch, I could be creating a case of fiscal fiddlesticks for myself.

In fact, from my site dashboard here at Iscent HQ, I see many daily internet searches leading to my site that read “good cheap perfume” or “cheap perfume that smells good” – so I know I am not alone in my quest for thriftiness.

Luckily I love a bargain, a cheapie, and a swapsie and I leave pride and snobbery at the door. I have therefore thrown myself on the martyr pile and selflessly sourced, borrowed and tested the following fragrant bargains, for you, my dear readers.

This is not the first time I have done a “Perfume Under a Fiver” article , but it is the latest 2015 update and it comes at a time of year when shopping rises up the Agenda. In the world of scent, availability and price changes as fast as the weather, so an update was, I felt, necessary. I hope you like the following perfumes I have listed. I would wear all of them, dear reader, and wouldn’t sell you down the river.

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Milton Lloyd

Milton Lloyd is owned by World Class Fragrance who have taken over a lot of Yardleys and Lentherics from the Times of Yore. You can still therefore buy some good 70s stylee drugstore classics such as Lace, Panache, Chique and Tweed. All of these have been reviewed on this blog. But did you know that there are modern flankers to accompany them? Panache Mademoiselle reminds me of Estee Lauder Pleasures, Tweed Mademoiselle is an excellent light fruity floral and Chique Mademoiselle is a light rose musk When you shop around on Amazon or Fragrance Direct or buy direct from Milton Lloyd, you can find them all for five pounds or under.

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The Body Shop

The Body Shop is currently on my Good List for making gorgeous 10ml purse sprays available for a fiver.  My favourite is trusty White Musk but you can also get Madagascan Vanilla, Indian Night Jasmine, White Musk Smoky Rose, Amazonian Water Lily, Atlas Mountain Rose or another favourite of mine, Fijian Water Lotus. Some of these are online and some are only available in store.

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Al Rehab

Al-Rehab perfume oils can be found on Amazon UK.  Coming in at well under a fiver, these purse sized roll ons are great value for your purse and last ages. You can wear them alone or layer them to mix and match until you find something you like. Try Choco Musk, Red Roses or Green Tea. Lovely packaging too. These are so cheap that you can afford to blind buy without going bankrupt.

chocomuskoudyal rehab

The Classics

Classic is another term for trusty perennials. Scents such as Gloria Vanderbilt, Coty L’Aimant and even the Charlies have been steadily in the background since I was a slip of a girl (decades ago). You can usually get a small bottle for under a fiver and I have reviewed them all on this site, except the Charlies.  Charlie Blue grew on me and now I can appreciate its mossy, woody longevity in a way I didn’t used to.  Try allbeauty.com (where I also found Jovan Musk oil for 4.95) or Fragrance Direct, where I always find something I like for not many pounds.

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Avon Calling

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Trusty Avon always has bargains, and despite their insistence on moving with the times against this customer’s will, you can be sure of a bargain. The under-a-fiver fragrances aren’t always obvious, but in every brochure there is usually a special offer. I often see classic Soft Musk for a fiver, as well as ambery chypre Timeless for the same price.  However, in this month’s brochure, the bargains are amazing: Spend twelve pounds on fragrance and get three 10ml purse sprays free. For your twelve pounds you could get a bottle of Soft Musk and bottle of Timeless  at £6 each, or three Avon Scent Essences for £12. That could be a total of six fragrances for just twelve quid. When my Avon Lady, Jill, comes tomorrow, I shall be ordering three Scent Essences and my three purse sprays, working out at two quid each. I hope none of my friends are reading this or the cat’s out of the bag.

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Marks and Spencer

When I’m in Marks and Spencer looking at knickers and posh tins of biscuits, I often find  a little purse spray ends up in my basket- oops!  But for prices that land between £3.50 and £5 for a 10ml handbag spray, who can blame me?  In fact, when they have the 3 for 2 offer on, who can blame me for buying three?  Try Autograph Blush for a light airy floral scent, or True Red if you like fragrances that are similar to Hugo Boss Red.

true redautograph blush

My name’s Samantha and I’m a frugaleer. Join me, why don’t you?

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Piggy Bank photo from Snapple.com.

Pound coin photo from grandadevans.me.uk

Per Una Gabriella: Affordable Quality on the High Street

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I have often wittered on about the good things that are happening over in the Marks and Spencer Fragrance Department and I was delighted to find a bottle of Per Una Gabriella in my Christmas stocking, bought by my crafty sister in law who managed to buy it when I was actually with her. It must have been when I got lost by the Christmas party dresses. We had to text each other in the end, but I digress…

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I was delighted with Gabriella for two reasons: One- it smells lovely, and Two: the packaging is so delightful it was a pleasure to receive.

Let’s talk about the first one:  Gabriella opens with citrus, namely lemons, and blends into abundant white flowers.  The white flowers are not too creamy and heady: we’re not talking hardcore tuberose, more like a bit of jasmine here, a bit of orange blossom there…  and when that has finished blooming and being all feminine and pretty, the base comes out with a hint of light musk (which would be toasty beige if it were a colour) and a light woody finish.  It’s fresh and uplifting and a very pretty floral.  The combination of lemon and flowers briefly reminded me of Boucheron Trouble (yes a hint of lemon cheesecake very briefly), but I actually prefer Gabriella to the much loved but sadly discontinued Trouble.

Now to the packaging:  Not only does Gabriella come in a delightful patterned  gift box somewhere between leopard print and giraffe, but the 100ml bottle has a flipping neck scarf on like a fancy woman! Impossibly charming, Gabriella became an instant favourite and I have been wearing it lots.

The other nice thing about Marks and Spencer fragrance is that you can buy most of their range in little 10ml or 25ml bottles, so if you don’t like it, you haven’t bankrupted yourself. These days I would happily skip many a High Street Perfume Shop for dear old M and S.  And nobody can knock their knickers as far as I’m concerned.

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Stockists: Gabriella is available from Marks and Spencer in store or on online for £7.50 for a 25ml bottle, or £16.00 for 100ml.

David and Victoria Beckham Intimately Beckham: Daywear Done Well

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I stumbled across Intimately Beckham in my local chemist today- it was on special offer and there was a tester at the till.  Otherwise I probably wouldn’t have sought this out. I had a few squirts on skin, and one on the coat sleeve for good measure (my coat sleeves always smell great even if I say so myself).

A little while later I found myself sniffing my wrist admiringly and thinking “Hmm. £9.99 eh?  Not bad at all” And it really is rather good.  Intimately Beckham is a light, pretty and feminine floral fragrance that manages to dodge several clichés.

glitters20.com
glitters20.com

It opens with refreshing bergamot and white flowers and beds down into freesia and roses.  The white flowers (including tuberose) are present but not in the foreground, making this a lightweight in a good way.  In fact I would say the emphasis is on the rose.  The base note holds its own and for a scent in this price range I was relieved to find that the finish doesn’t all cheap on me, and most refreshingly of all- no vanilla overkill.

Now vanilla in small soupcons ain’t half bad, especially in Orientals, but in my opinion, many modern launches have been bludgeoned to bits by a sledgehammer of synthetic vanilla and this has brought me to the brink of dislike.  I am therefore delighted to find no vanilla overkill and no candyfloss or cupcakes or red fruit  in Intimately Beckham For Her.

As a light, everyday floral that passes the commuter test and the office test, I recommend Intimately Beckham wholeheartedly for the bargain price of 9.95 on allbeauty.com or even more cheaply on Amazon  UK.  In the USA and Canada you can get this on Amazon.com.

Footnote

PS Just one more thing, as Colombo would say.  The use of the word Intimately should not be used in fragrance as it smacks of euphemistic feminine hygiene products. Apart from that, it’s all good. As you were.  Don’t mind me.

 

Elizabeth Arden Sunflowers Summer Bloom

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I’m going to start by saying right away that I don’t like the original Elizabeth Arden Sunflowers -to me it’s nothing special at all.   However,  I tried Elizabeth Arden Sunflowers Summer Bloom today and yes, it’s a fruity floral, and no I’m not a huge fan of the genre, but this one is rather lovely and is excellent value.  It was a big 100ml bottle that came in a penny under ten quid and as an eau de toilette the expectation is that it lasts around six hours (so said the sales assistant who sold it to me, but then she would say that wouldn’t she?)

As a fruity floral, this smells like many others, but its strength is that the smellalike-ness (just made that word up) is to your advantage when the price is 9.99.  In other words if you like fruity florals, you may as well get Summer Bloom over the megapriced smellalikes in the higher price range that ultimately do the same job.

Here are the notes according to out trusty friends at Fragrantica:

Top notes: pear, water lily and ivy, middle notes: violet, jasmine and hortensia, base notes: cedar vanilla musk

What I actually got is this:  it opens as a fruity floral, with an emphasis on the floral rather than the fruity.  The fruit is actually pear, which is one of the least offensive fruity notes you can get (the worst offenders are synthetic red fruits). The flowers that come out are the jasmine and the violet.  The base is not really vanilla, cedar and musk, but a faded version of the top notes, but not too bad at all. Longevity is around three hours and a bit.

This is a case of the flanker being much better than the original.  If you’ve got a tenner and you’re feeling summery you could do a lot worse than this pretty and light scent.

The drawback is that this is hard to find and seems to be exclusively available in The Perfume Shop in the UK.  My fear is that this exclusivity will lead to low sales and discontinuing. This will be a shame, but since it only launched in April 2014, maybe there’s still time.

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 PS In case you were wondering, hortensia is another name for hydrangea and  apparently has “clean, camphorous tonalities” according to Fragrantica.  Personally, I wouldn’t dwell on it, as the note wasn’t there, but I do love them in the garden and have therefore posted  a gratuitous photo of them.

Marks and Spencer Florentyna White Flowers: A Lily, Ungilded.

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I tried this yesterday on my travels, and I was very impressed with it.  At its highest price, it is only 6.50GBP for a 30ml bottle, but the current sale means that a gift set containing a 30ml EDT and body lotion is only 4.75 today (see website or your local store, but hurry!).

It does what it says on the tin.  It is white flowers and nothing more, nothing less, but it is done very well.  It opens with unmistakable Lily, which sidesteps its occasional tendency to go all Image

vegetable soup on me,  and is enhanced by the addition of pretty orange flower and jasmine.  That’s about it really.  There’s no fancy allusions or long lists of aspirational base notes or middle notes.  It’s a clean, white scent that lingers for around four or five hours and is very feminine.  There is a hint of posh white soap in there somewhere too, which , as a fan of posh white soap, I never object to.

For a clean, inoffensive daytime Lily scent, this is the cheapest I’ve seen.  The price tag is deceptive: you could pay a lot more for lower grade tat elsewhere on the High Street.  This is classy and damned good.