Tag Archives: gourmand perfumes

A Flanker with a Difference: Lancôme La Vie est Belle L’Eclat EDP

Lancôme La Vie est Belle needs no introduction. Since its launch in 2013, its success has gone orbital, leaving trails of imitators quivering in its wake.  Its army of flankers shows no sign of slowing the pace either.  Until now, they have all escaped my radar, but the one I tried today stopped me in my tracks.  Yes, I nearly walked past it, thinking “Really Lancôme? Another one?” but  once I sprayed the gorgeous bottle, this grumpy cynic  was silenced.

Let’s start with the irresistibly touchy feely faceted glass bottle. It’s impossible not to run your fingers over it.  It’s a delight to fiddle about with and it looks good too.  Apart from that, the display in Boots looked the same as the usual LVEB displays. But what’s this? I thought at first spray. This is pretty good.

The original La Vie est Belle

LVEB L’Eclat immediately reminded me of something  I’d smelled before and I couldn’t put my finger on it until about twenty minutes later. It was then that I realised that it reminded me of Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial. Indeed, it has more in common with Parfum Initial than it does with La Vie est Belle.

The opening note is bergamot which immediately clings to the pretty orange blossom and “white flowers.” Fragrantica doesn’t elaborate but I’m calling jasmine.  I couldn’t pick out any tuberose, but the orange blossom is definitely in there.

from Lancome UK

Now, around this point, I was waiting for the heavy praline fountain to drown out the pretty notes like a Nutella Tsunami. Although this is what I like least about  the original LVEB, it seems to be the bit that many fans like best.  However, the praline never came.  Instead, I was rewarded with a base of rather delicate sandalwood and a silky flourish of buttery vanilla. There’s no praline. There’s no patchouli. There’s just citrus, white flowers, and subtle vanilla.

Fragrantica

The vanilla, it must be said, is delicious. It has heart and warmth with none of the vibe of an overfull bowl of sickly frosting that it can sometimes have. It ends on vanilla and stays with vanilla, which does make it more gourmand than floral, but La Vie est Belle L’Éclat has restraint.  I probably wouldn’t buy a full bottle, but it’s the LVEB flanker that I thus far like best. Bravo and 10/10 for the divine bottle.

Stockists

You can buy Lancôme La Vie est Belle L’Eclat EDP from Boots UK, and from the Lancome UK and Lancome USA websites.

Follow

Shay & Blue London: Amber Rose

amberr-ose-pretty

Shay and Blue London Amber Rose is one of those fragrances that I tried in warm weather and dismissed, then tried in cold weather and ending up loving. The same thing happened with First by Van Cleef and Arpels, which is now the nearest thing I have to a signature scent.

In the summer, I found Amber Rose too sweet and too gourmand in the sticky heat. However, in cold weather, it tells a different story and it was a story that had me hooked from page one.

Amber Rose only has three notes: Rose, Dulche de Leche ( caramel) and Amber.  The rose is a clean rose that has a hint of papery dried petals around the edges: think the dried rose petals in pot pourri. It combines satiny petals with a tea like dryness. The  delectable dulche de leche note acts a bridge between the rose and the amber and  it’s a genius bit of blending.  The sweetness of the rose rises and melts into the caramel and then sobers up again as it segues into the woody amber finish. This is perfect for cold weather and the sweetness level is pitched just right for a wintery day.  The combination of roses and milky, woody warmth is irresistibly cosy.  I can see my Shay and Blue collection starting to grow. Oh well!

shayblushopwidgetaw

Stockists

You can find a selection of Shay and Blue fragrance in branches of Marks and Spencer. Alternatively, you can buy a mini selection of Shay & Blue fragrances from The Perfume Society ( see photo above). The link is here. Sample and opinions are my own.

Zadig & Voltaire: This is Her

 

zadigbrand

Zadig & Voltaire is the achingly cool brand that’s so hip it that makes Hollister look like Country Casuals. Based in Paris and on the even more achingly cool Left Bank, This is Her and This Is Him are the new 2016 fragrance launches. Even the names sound like ready made cult products in that “wait til you meet them, this is the one I told you about” way. But you know, none of that’s any good if the fragrance is a turkey- or maybe it is? The way young people follow brands and labels these days! And policemen are looking younger too. I remember this when it was all fields etc #middleage

zadig-her

Here are my thoughts….

Whipped cream and jasmine sambac anyone? Chestnuts and cashmere with that? This is Her is audacious to say the least, but it grew on me to the point where I started to wonder why nobody had thought of such a genius combo before. Don’t get me wrong- my first impression was “what on earth…?” and my second impression was “okay, this could actually work.”

The top notes are jasmine sambac, silkwood blossom and pink pepper. This is a heady floral opener- I could barely discern any pink pepper and I’m not sure I’d recognise silkwood blossom if it stood up in my soup and sang me a shanty. However, jasmine sambac has been enjoying much popularity of late. It’s a jasmine note that is almost so concentrated and refined that it borders on the oriental and just stops short. So into this heady opening act you then have whipped cream and chestnuts. It sounds weird, doesn’t it? But strangely, this really works. The whipped cream gives a sort of pillowy marshmallow effect and the chestnut adds a gourmand richness which  goes remarkably well alongside the jasmine sambac. The whole shebang is rounded off with smooth sandalwood and cashmere woods, but that nutty vanilla from the chestnuts is refusing to quit and stays til the end.

My verdict is that this is one you must try: definitely not a blind buy and it may take more than one go before you understand each other. This kind of originality doesn’t come along very often so I give This is Her 10/10 for originality and a deep bow of respect.

Stockists

You can buy Zadig & Voltaire This is Her from Superdrug and The Fragrance Shop. My sample was from The Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Box. Opinions are my own.

Yves Saint Laurent Manifesto

manifesto

Yves Saint Laurent Manifesto is not to be confused with the magnificent Manifesto by Isabella Rossellini, of which I’m a big fan

I knew nothing about YSL Manifesto before trying it today so had no preconceptions.  I generally like most if not all YSL fragrances though, so I had high hopes.  High hopes that were dashed.

I know all too well that they don’t make all mainstream perfume just for me:  if I don’t like a scent that doesn’t make it bad, but this lemon meringue pie of a scent was all wrong for me.

Despite containing lily of the valley, jasmine, bergamot, blackcurrant, vanilla and Tonka bean, all I could smell was vanilla and creamy lemon pie, with maybe a blackcurrant coulis- a mere trail a la nouvelle cuisine.  This smells so much like dessert that I simply don’t want it on my skin.  Years of mopping up after messy sons have put me off smelling of food so I’m not really a gourmand fan.  I have mellowed recently and  lost many of my perfume prejudices by keeping an open mind, but smelling of lemon syllabub is a step too far for me.  Oddly enough there are no lemons in this at all, but then again, I couldn’t find any lily of the valley or jasmine either: they were supposed to have turned up but ended up being a no-show.

My overall impression is that Manifesto doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be.   It’s not quite a gourmand, not quite a fruity floral, not a chypre, not a floral.  It’s just a sort of a mash up.

Of the two Manifestos, I’ll be voting Rossellini.

 Stockists

YSL Manifesto is widely available .  You will find it in Boots, Amazon UK, House of Fraser and Debenhams to name but a few.   Overseas you can try Sephora or Amazon.com

Follow

Katy Perry Killer Queen

killr queen

 

 

I’m a big fan of Katy Perry.  I love her songs, her voice and she always comes across as likeable in interviews.  She chose the name Killer Queen for her company and for this perfume after the eponymous Queen Song.  With such brilliant lyrics as “Perfume came Naturally from Paris/For cars she couldn’t care less/Fastidious and Precise” I would have put the Killer Queen in my imagination in Chanel No 19 or something haughty by Parfums Caron.

However, chacun à son gout and Ms Perry imagines this Queen in a very different way from me. Created by Laurent Le Guernec who also made the stunningly lovely Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker, it’s hard to believe these two were made by the same nose. But I guess the lady wants what the lady wants.

Chock full of red berries and chocolate, and a flower that looks like red velvet (Celosia), Katy Perry has gone for more of a Choc’n’baroque feel. Sadly I feel that such a sweet and sticky concoction is as unwelcome on a hot day as a bowl of jam roly poly and custard, when what you really want is an icy gin and tonic.

The sweetness and sickly fruitiness begins from the first spray and the frangipani, usually welcomed by me, is like a marzipanny mess surrounded by praline, forest fruits and plums.  The Bergamot could have been good but sits out the dance looking lost. It ends in a plasticky whiff of candy that smells like my hands after peeling off one of my children’s stickier sweets.

But hey, I’m just one voice, and this stuff is very popular: I see it everywhere and it’s reasonably priced too at under 20GBP for a big bottle.

When it comes to choosing a perfume to put her name to, Katy Perry is a terrific singer.

PS I LOVE the bottle.

photo by Huffington Post
photo by Huffington Post

 

Serge Lutens Arabie: Leather and Fruit? Can I Tempt You?

fragrantica.com

You can tell that I am a fan of Nigella Lawson. The appalling state of my copies of her books is testament to this. The sticky toffee pudding recipe is stuck together with sticky toffee pudding and she is responsible for at least one dress size that I didn’t used to be.

Don’t worry, my blog hasn’t changed direction, but one of Nigella’s recipes sprang to mind instantly when I first smelled Serge Lutens Arabie. The recipe in question is for Nigella’s Black Cake from the  Nigella Christmas book. The instruction is as follows:

 Cover the fruits and leave to steep for at least two weeks, but up to six months. I say up to six months – which is what Colwin writes in Home Cooking – but I must tell you that I steeped all the fruits one year in November only to find in December that I was just too exhausted to make the cake. So I used it up the following year, after 13 months’ marinating. It was strong, but it was good.

chow.com
chow.com

When I first sprayed Serge Lutens Arabie, I was indeed vividly reminded of dark, rich fruit that had been steeped in rum for many years.  Uncork the lid and there it  is, wafting out like a snake being charmed from a basket. If you’ve ever eaten so much Christmas cake that you feel you may turn into one, you will be familiar with boozy fruit, and this beauty has it by the bucketful.

I wasn’t remotely surprised to see that the main notes were Fruit, Nutmeg, Figs and Dates , or that there was some festive Myrrh in there too. For some reason, on the second day of wearing this, I picked up a slightly smoky Leather base as well.  Leather is not listed as a note, but it could be the Myrrh and the Resin creating a by product that provides smoky warmth.

This is rich and redolent with feast like properties, but stops just short of being strictly edible.  The Myrrh makes it fragrant- like incense, and the combination of rum doused fruit and  a wisp of smoke makes Serge Lutens Arabie full of mystery and allure.  And Christmas.