Tag Archives: High Street perfume

Chanel Gabrielle: A Tribute to the Modern Woman

From Harpers Bazaar Singapore

Chanel Gabrielle is a major launch for Chanel, being its first mainstream non flanker launch for fifteen years (I’m not including Les Exclusifs in this).

It’s always hard when a brand as big as this tries to please the new crowd and the old crowd at the same time. Guerlain Mon Guerlain had a mixed response for example, with the youngsters liking the gourmand notes and the old crowd wearing a lot of black and looking mulish.  Brands have it tough. They need new fans going forward but they have to keep the old guard on board too.  An impossible task, I’d say, so I’m going to be gentle about this.

Watching the uplifting Gabrielle TV and cinema ad made me want to totally buy into this.  Kristen Stewart is an unusual choice, but I can see why they picked her. Despite having been almost indelibly stamped with the Twilight franchise, she now bangs her own drum, cropping her hair short, taking the roles she feels like taking and eschewing the Hollywood clamour for glamour.  In other words, she ignores what’s expected of her, just the same as Gabrielle Coco Chanel did. Let’s face it, successful businesswomen were hard to find in the 1930s, but that didn’t stop Chanel. Nothing did.  #girlboss

So let’s talk about how Gabrielle smells.

The suggestion is that this is a golden scent, but I found it more of a white fragrance. The citrus notes it opens with seem to add little zaps of sharpness and freshness. I absolutely agree with descriptions that say that it sparkles when it first goes onto your skin. It seems to pop joyously like prosecco bubbles. It has a feel-good factor for sure.

photo from Fragrantica

In the main though, Gabrielle is all about the big white flowers. There’s tuberose, orange flower, jasmine and ylang.  What struck me though, was how pristine and proper this smells. It made me think of formal flower arrangements in hotels. It made me think of pure white soap and clean laundry.  It made me think of clean linen, ironed to a knife edge and stored with care in a sparkling clean house.  I can’t explain to you why I thought of soap and cleanliness and posh bouquets.  Maybe it’s because this lacks any gourmand touches or vanilla notes, giving it a traditional feel. Maybe because the absence of patchouli lets the flowers be themselves without segueing into anything else (Coco Mademoiselle, anyone?)

I’m going to stop the description there because  on my skin, the flowers  were the beginning, middle and end.  After that, everyone went home.  It was beautiful, but like all the best divas, it left me crying for more and quit whilst it was ahead.

So you can imagine that my main, and only, complaint about Gabrielle is that it didn’t stick around for me to get to know it better. I had to sniff very hard, right up against my skin, to get even the faintest whiff after an hour. This is the Eau de Parfum, so I was hoping for more. You may have different results.

My verdict? If those flowers can stick around I’m all over it. Chanel Cristalle and I were together for twenty years, but I don’t see a future for Gabrielle and me unless she can sort out her commitment issues.

Stockists

You can buy Chanel Gabrielle from Boots or The Fragrance Shop to name but two. It is, or will be, widely available around the world.

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Jean Paul Gaultier Scandal: Here’s the Dish

Before we start, I just want  to say how much I love Jean Paul Gaultier.  I love the twinkle in his eye and how he has never taken himself too seriously. He has fun with fashion and is never afraid to put it out there.

From TheMirror.co.uk

When Scandal came along, I thought “this should be good”. After all, this was the designer who made a perfume bottle snow shaker for us to play with and who gave Madonna rocket boobs.  I still love him from his Eurotrash days with Antoine de Caunes.  It was the perfect 1990s post pub TV show,  and best accompanied by a bowl of Supernoodles and some Alka Seltzer.

Ok, I’ll shut up now and tell you what the fragrance is like, shall I? The notes are blood orange, honey, gardenia and patchouli. The blood orange came and went.  I barely noticed the gardenia.  In fact, the first half hour was a JPG Classique moment for me.  There were accent s of it poking through: that unmistakable nail polish/face powder combination  that’s so original and almost exaggeratedly ladylike.  That phase didn’t last long enough for my liking, and was shortly replaced with some kind of syrupy vanilla sundae with synthetic and unremarkable patchouli.  So far, so what.

However, then a great big dollop of honey comes along and plonks itself in the middle. Now to me, honey is a kind of sexy smell. It smells like dried spit, which can either mean your pillow needs washing or you’ve just had a massive snog.  I like it in small doses, preferring the massive snog to the dirty pillow.  In Scandal, it was a redeeming feature.

Unfortunately, the overall lasting effect of Scandal is that of a Lancôme La Vie est Belle flanker. I couldn’t tell you which one because there are eleventy billion of them, but if I had smelled this blind, I would have hazarded a guess that this was La Vie est Belle Honey Summer Blah Blah or whatever it might be called.

There has been a popular generic confectionary/patchouli accord hanging around since 2013 when LVEB launched.  It has infiltrated way too many fragrances for my taste,  although sales figures  disagree with me.  On the other hand, if that’s what’s selling and if consumers are voting with their perfume dollar, then it would be foolish not to capitalise on it.  I’ll just have to sit a few launches out until my stuff comes along. That will happen when green mossy chypres and seventies aldehydes make a come back on the High Street. Oh well. I’m in for a long wait.

By the way, the bottle reminds me of a much earlier fragrance by Revlon called Head Over Heels. It doesn’t make the bottle any less fun, but  neither did it make this curmudgeon gasp at the originality of it.

Meanwhile, enjoy the still-fabulous-anyway bottle that has the typical wink of JPG humour about it. It makes me think of someone falling backwards into a taxi at 3 am.  Ah!   How I mourn my lost youth.

Stockists

Jean Paul Gaultier Scandal is available from The Fragrance Shop, Sephora, Duty Free shops and Escentual to name but a few.

Further Reading

Check out The Candy Perfume Boy’s take on Scandal.  Thomas writes brilliantly, as per.  Dammit.

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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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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.

Diesel Loverdose Red Kiss: Don’t Kiss Me!

redkissbottle

 

I tried Diesel Loverdose Red Kiss today in my local Perfume Shop and was soon wishing I hadn’t.  I took a thorough squirting on arm and sleeve just in case it was in danger of fading before I got home.  It wasn’t.  It’s still there seven hours later, refusing to leave.

The funny thing is, my interpretation of this is completely different from its description.  Described as a Gourmand Floriental (which I think is kind of a cop out covering three crowd pleasing categories) I found Diesel Loverdose Red Kiss to be a sickly, cloying, sticky, overly sweet candy cane mess that me feel hot and sticky and bothered as the day went on.

According to trusty Fragrantica however, Loverdose Red Kiss is replete with nuts, apples, blackcurrant , bergamot and sugar, with an ambery finish.

sweets
Photo by www.weheartit.com

Unfortunately I got sugar, sweets, chews, lollies, candy floss and sticky strawberry ice cream sauce. Diesel Loverdose Red Kiss made me want to brush my teeth and wash it off my arm.

You may like it.  You may get the tantalising promise of bergamot and blackcurrant, but I didn’t. Oh wait!  A whiff of toffee apple lollies  there. And a synthetic vanilla finish.

To get a good idea of my view on this, eat 24 strawberry lollies  and wash them down with cherryade and custard.

If you’ve tried it, do share your view with me.  Just because I don’t like this, doesn;t mean I’m right.  Perfume is like poetry- there’s no right or wrong interpretation.

Stockists:  Diesel Loverdose Red Kiss is available from The Perfume Shop and Amazon UK to name but a few.

weheartit.com
The Perfume Shop

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

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StormFlower by Cheryl: Does it Have The X Factor?

stormflower

 

Cheryl  Fernandez-Versini re-debuts tonight on the UK’s X Factor. She also debuts her first ever perfume StormFlower this week.  Coincidence?  No just common sense PR.

Cheryl Tweedy Cole Fernandez-Versini  has the dubious honour of being Mr IScent’s favourite member of Girls Aloud.  He has all their albums and Cheryl’s too.  Naturally, Cheryl is not a patch on me in any way, and he loves me the most, we decided.

I tried StormFlower today and I must say that yes, I quite liked it.  I was hoping it wouldn’t be the bearer of too much vanilla as so many celeb scents have been lately,  and I was fearing it would be too sweet for my taste, knowing that Cheryl is partial to a bit of Viktor and Rolf Flowerbomb.

o.27497My first impression of StormFlower is freshly sliced Papaya, followed by Freesia, followed by a pretty generic base note of faded top notes with a faintly spicy synthetic finish.

In fact, the top notes are mandarin and nectarine.  Nectarine is thankfully not as talcum powdery or as sickly as peach can sometimes be, and seems to be juicier and lighter.  Mandarin is always welcome with its citrussy refreshing tang.  Middle notes are Freesia, which is noticeable and is coupled well with the juicy top notes.  Added to the mix is a touch of peach blossom which again shows restraint from an all too easy peach fest.

The disappointment here is in the base note which dries down into a nothing-special cheap smelling synthetic muddle.  It’s supposed to be sandalwood, vanilla and musk (nothing new there), but falls rather badly at the final hurdle. The base note cheapens the promising start and pretty, feminine middle phase.

It can come as no surprise that I’m about to start using X Factor metaphors, so here goes.  Would I put StormFlower through to the next round?  Well for starters it depends on the calibre of the other candidates. Some years in X Factor, there are mediocre finalists that wouldn’t have got to the finals had they been on the show the year before.  I feel that this is the case with StormFlower.  In light of nothing else particularly robust in the celeb field this year, this is a strong contender, but had this been the year that say, Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely was launched, then it wouldn’t have even got to Boot Camp.

But don’t listen to me: this pleasantly uplifting tropical and fruity scent will sell and sell and then probably sell some more. Madame Ferndandez-Versini  (how exotic that sounds!) can sleep tight, knowing all her direct debits will go out this month with a bit of change in the bank for a treat.

I won’t be buying this, but I’m pretty sure thousands of others will, and fair play to them.

Elizabeth Arden Sunflowers Summer Bloom

nd.25398

 

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.

hydrangeas_1528827c

 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.

Paco Rabanne Lady Million Eau My Gold! All Change!

nd.24913     Here is another example of a perfume that replaces another perfume with a different name and is given yet another new name.   (Here’s VoiceOver Man with “Previously on IScentYouADay”) You may recall Dior changed Miss Dior into Miss Dior Originale and introduced Miss Dior Cherie as the new Miss Dior, discontinuing Miss Dior Cherie? It’s like replacing Joan Collins with Sir Ian Mckellan and still calling the character Alexis Carrington.  Its confusing isn’t it?  Does it makes you want to run away?  I tell you what: it doesn’t half give bloggers a headache when they do this. lady million

According to Fragrantica, Eau My Gold has been launched by Paco Rabanne with the intention that it will replace the current Lady Million EDT.  The thing is they smell different and Lady Million EDT is a very big seller, so I’m scratching my head over this one. Whenever I am in a perfume shop or at a counter I always ask “What’s your bestseller?” and they always tell me it’s Lady Million.  From House of Fraser to the Perfume Shop to Superdrug.

However, I have at my disposal a sample of Eau My Gold, and despite it ticking many boxes of things I don’t normally go for, I ended up liking it,  even with melon!.  Alongside it I tried Lady Million and had forgotten how floral it was: white flowers mainly.  I  disliked Lady Million initially but I find that when you put a perfume away for a while and bring it back out again, you can often view it differently. (Can I just confess that despite loathing Thierry Mugler Angel I sometimes sniff it incessantly when I am home alone? I may turn yet)

Lady Million EDT has many of my favourite notes on paper but loses my loyalty when it goes a bit synthetic: lily of the valley, neroli, patchouli, hyacnith and gardenia.  On paper, it should be a sure-fire hit with me, but the ingredients seem to be made from plastic flowers rather than real ones. However, it’s by no means as bad as I remember it.

Eau My Gold has top notes of very noticeable melon, mango, mandarin and grapefruit. This is thirst quenching in a sort of J20 way.  You know those orange and passion fruit drinks you can get in UK pubs?

Imagine one of those over ice.

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Not bad.  The fruit cocktail is followed by violet, amber, musk and orange blossom, which don’t really go with the fruit if I’m honest.  It’s refreshing and pleasant, but beds down into a fruity cocktail mish mash.  The top notes are lovely though. If I had to pick between the two, I’d go for Lady Million EDT.

Which begs the question: why change it so much?  It’s not like it wasn’t selling.  Conclusion: Eau my Gold will sell, but Lady Million EDT should be kept on in its own right as it is dazzlingly different from the new incumbent. If Fragrantica is correct, and they usually are, Lady Million EDT fans need to get busy buying!

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