Tag Archives: indie perfumers

The ISCENT Awards and Review of 2017

 

Welcome to the I Scents 2017! Find your seat. The drinks will be around in a minute. I hope you’ve got your glad rags on and are ready for a fragrant bonanza.

2017 has been a very interesting year for fragrance, with even the big hitters bringing out major new launches.  If I’m honest, I found far more to love in the world of niche and indie than I did over the beauty counters.  I also had some wonderful real-life perfume experience to break the loneliness of the long distance blogger.  It was a delight to meet up with Sarah McCartney, Jo Fairley, Suzy Nightingale (albeit briefly in the toilets at the Jasmines!), Marina Barcenilla, Ruth Mastenbroek, Stephan Matthews, Thomas Dunckley, Persolaise and Nick Gilbert.  If that sounds like star struck name dropping, that’s because it is.

Ladies and gentlemen, here are the awards, presented by your hostess, Samantha Scriven (applause. Whooping. Wolf whistles.)

Best mainstream

I was moved by very few mainstream launches this year and we saw some big ones come from Chanel, Mugler, Jean Paul Gaultier and Guerlain. Whilst I liked Chanel Gabrielle, I didn’t think it was worth the high price and I found longevity very poor at around an hour.  Can’t stop singing the Beyoncé song from the fabulous advert though.

There were, however four launches that really made me sit up and take notice. I’m not even going to pick a favourite, because they all were. If you pushed me into owning just one though, it would be Alberto Morillas’ Gucci Bloom for Gucci. I’m a sucker for a bunch of white flowers at the best of times and I’m pleased to see them hopefully capturing some new hearts with this beautiful scent and stunning campaign.

Gucci Bloom -winner

Gucci  really made me sit up  and take notice with this one. I have been in a sulk with them since envy was scrapped, but they may be back in my good books again. Gucci Bloom is a wonderful white flower fragrance that is unapologetically feminine and floral.  I love that it takes floral scents back to basics,  stripping away all sugary artifice, whilst showcasing all the best bits of nature. Read my rave review here.

Cartier Baiser Fou

Baiser Fou is the flanker to lily based pillar scent Cartier Baiser Vole, and in my opinion, the better of the two.  Baiser Fou is all about  raspberries, Milky Bars and posh lipstick.  I love this playful and lovable scent, which always makes me think of summer weddings. My review is here.

Mugler Aura

It’s not very often Mugler brings out a brand new pillar scent, although flankers are frequent.  Aura is one of the most wearable Muglers.  It doesn’t have the nuclear sillage of Angel or Alien, nor the  divisive  love/hate of the discontinued Womanity (shudder).  However, with new notes of Tiger Liana (my future stripper name) and Wolfwood, this makes for an unusual and audacious scent. You can read my review here.

La Vie Est Belle L’Eclat

from Lancome UK

Whilst I feel Lancome La Vie est Belle has become ubiquitous, spawning many homages and dupes in its wake, La Vie est Belle L’Eclat offers something new.

The floral notes are there but the sugary caramel of the pillar fragrance  has been toned down, leaving a rather classy floral scent, with a hint of sweetness. The bottle is stunning too- I can’t stop touching the elaborate chiselled glass.  Lancôme, I salute you.

 Fragrances I Can’t Live Without

It is frankly impossible to only issue one award in this category.  It’s like asking me which is my favourite cat (don’t).  To choose one implies I don’t love the others as much, and that’s not true.  I have therefore listed the fragrances I fell headlong in love with in 2017.  If you have to take away my whole collection, just leave me these and I’ll be happy.

Aftelier Velvet Tuberose

4160 Tuesdays Killer Rose 

4160 Tuesdays Eau My Soul

Photo by Thomas Dunckley for Papillon Perfumery

Papillon Dryad

Marina Barcenilla India

DSH French Lily

Ruth Mastenbroek Firedance

Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium

Best New Perfume House 2017

Gallivant -winner

Nick Steward founded Gallivant with years of experience in his pocket from his previous tenure at L’Artisan Parfumeur. Basing each scent on a city vibe, Nick has created a scent wardrobe that takes you all around the world. What I like about this brand is that he hasn’t gone for the obvious, but has suggested the unseen underbelly of a city.  He’s gone for Brooklyn rather than Central Park and has given Tel Aviv a feel-good optimism. Gallivant is innovative, evocative and original. I look forward to seeing more from this exciting new house.

Best bargain brand

Bargain perfumes are my speciality. I believe that everyone should be able to have affordable perfume and I eschew all snobbery on my blog. In fact, the perfume I reached for most often in 2017 was my trusty £5.99 of Coty L’Aimant.

Avon-Winner

Avon has been producing some wonderful fragrances that whilst recognisably Avon, are bang on trend and can easily stand shoulder to shoulder with more expensive mainstream brands. In fact, the list of perfumers that have worked for Avon read like a Who’s Who of fragrance; Christopher Sheldrake, Oliver Cresp and Sonia Constant to name but three. Most of my Avon fragrances cost me around £7. Unbeatable.

Bronnley

Some superb fragrances from Bronnley who are shaking up their image to attract the younger scent buyer. Whilst I will always be a fan of the classic lemon soaps and floral bath goodies, (don’t ever stop making them!) there are now innovative roller balls and  50ml eau de toilettes in the Eclectic Elements range. My particular favourites are Wild Green and Exotic Embers. The prices are right too with 30ml eau fraiche bottles, rollerballs and candles all within the £10 range (prices are current as from day of publishing this).

Marks and Spencer

My local Marks and Spencer is next door to The Perfume Shop and I find myself in  there far more often than I find myself in the Perfume Shop.  Also, The Perfume Shop deletes all your loyalty points if you don’t use them fast enough, which doesn’t make me feel very loyal anymore.  Marks and Spencer hosts some of my favourite brands such as Fragonard and Monotheme, but their own brand stuff is pretty good too. I’m a big fan of Autograph Blush, Florentyna White and Rosie by Rosie Huntington Whitely. With 10ml purse sprays starting from a fiver, you can cheer yourself up without breaking the bank.

Yves Rocher

My beloved Yves Rocher! Whenever I order from them, I am always sent a free gift (usually something good like perfume) three samples, some sort of BOGOF deal and usually some sort of little surprise or purse spray. I am currently awaiting an order in which I spent £30 and will be receiving four bottles of perfume, a Swarovksi necklace and three samples.  This is not because I am a blogger, but because I am a customer and they are all treated this well. Fragrance quality is very high and I have never been disappointed. Check out my most recent Yves Rocher review here.

 Perfume Superstars Award

The Perfume Society

The Perfume Society

For the second year in a row I hail the beloved Mothership.  The Perfume Society not only hosts workshops and events that are a delight to attend, but I have an addiction to the Discovery Boxes which always, without fail, introduce me to a scent or brands I have never come across before.  Alexander Pope once declared that the point of literature was to instruct delightfully and The Perfume Society certainly fulfill this edict. The Scented Letter is a brilliant read, with breathtakingly good visuals and superb guest writers.  The latest Discovery Box I had even contained Green & Black’s Chocolate. chocolate. #dreamcometrue

2017 Highlights

I’m giving all of these equal placing because every one is indelibly engraved into my memory for when I’m an old lady and don’t get out much.

The Jasmine Awards

What can I say? Such an honour to be a finalist and such a day of contrasts. I began my day at BAFTA, followed by tea at the former Simpsons on The Strand with Sarah McCartney and Ruth Mastenbroek and ended it with the 3.15pm school run in Cwmbran.  Unforgettable! You can read about it here.

FiFis

I shall remember my night at the Fragrance Foundation awards for many years to come. I was invited as a guest of Clive Christian fragrance and the team made me feel so welcome. I got to wear a long dress, which doesn’t happen very often to me anymore, and mingle with the movers and shakers in the Fragrance World. It also marked the start of a friendship with FiFi winner Marina Barcenilla and the lovely Stephan Matthews.

photo by kind permission of Sarah McCartney

The Perfume Society Improve your Sense of Smell Workshop

Photo courtesy of The Perfume Society.

The Perfume Society held a workshop fairly near-ish to me in Clifton.  Since this is nearer than London, it was easy for me to attend, being across the water from South Wales (we have up to two bridges now).

I learnt so much in that afternoon  from Perfume Society Founder Jo Fairley, and would wholeheartedly recommend these workshops to anyone, even if you’ve been before!  Read my review of the day here.

Also featured in…

Check me out! I feel wanted and special. I got to work with all these delightful people this year and feel extremely flattered to be on their radar.

Stephan Matthews

Stephan’s Six- I join the ranks of hallowed predecessors and felt very flattered to be included in this legendary column.

Escentual.com

Escentual-  Perfume Expert Thomas Dunckley, (aka The Candy Perfume Boy)   called me a perfume expert too! I’m not in the same league as  Thomas, but I am thrilled to bits anyway. This is where I give my opinion on the most Christmassy perfume ever: Serge Lutens Arabie.  The photo is Thomas’s own.

 

My Beauty Matches– I’ve written several pieces for My Beauty Matches. You can check them out here and here.  A lovely team of people.

 

WOW Beauty– the amazing Denise of Wow beauty asked me to contribute to her fabulous site and I was delighted to join the fun. If you haven’t checked it out, do drop in. Such a lovely environment!

 

Collaborated with…Moodscent Four

This year saw me collaborate with  my wonderful Mood Scent Four colleagues, Esperanza, Tara and Megan. It was all Megan’s idea, so blame her. Megan is a Kiwi, based in the south of France  (meganinstsemaxime) and came up with the idea that four bloggers from four different countries could share their perfume recommendations for different moods and occasions. Every few months we all write about what to wear as a wedding guest, what scent to wear when uplifting is called for, and most recently, our favourite Night Out perfumes. They’re a joy to work with and I am honoured to be their colleague.

Over to you

What were your perfume highlights of 2017? What are you hoping to see more of in 2018? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year and thank you for taking the time and trouble to read my blog posts and follow what I’m up to. it would be very lonely without you all and each one of you is appreciated.

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RM Eau de Parfum by Ruth Mastenbroek

rm-signature

RM by Ruth Mastenbroek is the first scent by  perfumer Ruth Mastenbroek. Ruth has been in the perfume industry for several decades.  A previous President of the British Society of Perfumers, Ruth is the nose behind many well known scents you may not realise that she was responsible for: she has worked for Kenneth Turner, the House of Bath, Jigsaw and Jo Malone to name a few.

ruthsam3

RM  is a delightful floral chypre, that uses many fruits so skilfully that it showcases the natural characteristics of the fruit with none of the sugariness that has been all too pervasive in recent years ( aren’t you just so OVAH sickly fruity florals?) .

On first spray of RM my nose is greeted with a blast of zingy citrus notes: notably bergamot and surprisingly- pineapple. I say surprisingly because I have had disastrous experiences with pineapple notes in scent before now, but here it is rather beautiful with an understated summery feel. The patchouli and sandalwood start peeking through early around now-ish, just as the florals come out and blossom shamelessly all over the place. Here you will find rich roses and heady jasmine. There is also a hint of lily, but my nose was getting distracted by now because my old chum oak moss was making its presence felt.  Now we’re really talking chypres.

The basenotes of RM manage to blend together into one stunning multi layered accord. There’s the lightness of citrus, the feminine florals, and the prickly, mossy base- all in total harmony. It’s a peachy patchouli with a hint of blackcurrant, yet the fruit (despite being half a grocer’s worth) is never overbearing.  RM is a class act that conjures an English Country Garden and impossibly feminine tea dresses, yet the prickly chypre finish gives it a daring edge that was enormously appealing to me,  a die-hard chypre fan. This can be worn all year round.

This is a superb début that heralds the opening act of a high quality and innovative capsule collection. I recently reviewed Amorosa and will shortly be reviewing Oxford to complete my trilogy of Mastenbroek reviews. I was lucky enough to meet Ruth earlier this month ( see my previous post) and she told me that a fourth scent will shortly be joining the ranks. I for one will be first in line to try it. Gangway!

Stockists

You can buy Ruth Mastenbroek fragrances from  the Ruth Mastenbroek website or from Fenwicks or Rouiller White. My sample was from Ruth herself, for which, warmest thanks. Opinions are my own.

Good Girl Gone Bad by Kilian 2012

Kilian Hennessey, the hottie of the perfume world, has just opened a By Kilian boutique in the exclusive Burlington Arcade in Knightsbridge.  You may recall that I mentioned my visit in my recent post Pia and Nick’s Smelly Cakey Perfume Meet Up.

On a day where sniffing perfumes was the number one activity, it seemed ironic to me that I fell for the first one I smelled and could find nothing to compare during the rest of the day. To be fair though, all subsequent scents were drowned in a general miasma and were hard to distinguish.

goodcat

Good Girl Gone Bad had been sprayed prior to me entering the boutique and that big tuberose was my first scent of the day. “What is that amazing tuberose-y smell?” I exclaimed as I crossed the threshold. Dear reader, this good girl went mad for it.

Good Girl Gone Bad opens with Indian tuberose. There’s a lot of Osmanthus in there, (which smells like apricot blossom), but the tuberose kept tapping me on the shoulder. There’s jasmine too, but that didn’t get much of a look in, nor did the rose, nor the narcissus. To me, this was all about the tuberose. Sometimes it can get so intense that it almost collapses into a vegetable note- usually celery or even  fennel.  That’s exactly what happens here. The tuberose, so rich and creamy, becomes both celery like and slightly salty at the same time. It’s borderline savoury, but doesn’t quite  put its toe over that line. At the same time, this is feminine- almost exaggeratedly so. There was talk of a Parisienne countess who owns a carafe of it- or did I imagine that?

I’ve never smelled tuberose quite like this. It was like a drug to me. There’s allegedly amber and cedar in the base,  but you know when you fall in love and can see nobody else in a crowded room? That’s the tuberose in Good Girl Gone Bad. I only had nostrils for you, my darling.

Stockists

You can buy this at By Kilian, or at Harvey Nichols. It’s really expensive, so if you buy a bottle, you have to give me a decant. I’ll be your best friend.

 Photos: Fragrantica and The Telegraph

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Angelo Orazio Pregoni for Odriu Milan: Olfactory Dada

angelo and dog

I was recently approached via email by Odriu Milano and asked if I would like some samples from their range. I agreed and provided my address, not knowing what to expect. Slightly embarrassingly I was out when the plain brown parcel arrived from “The Pleasure Factory” and had to knock my neighbours door to mumble a thank you for taking my parcel.

Opening the envelopes was like unravelling a puzzle. The website is even more bizarre, but I like it. I like it all, even if I had to do quite a bit of research to get the full picture.

The brand is Odriu Milano, the perfumer is Angelo Orazio Pregoni ( and check out his profile here because I can’t do it justice) and the ranges I’ve been sent are named Wet Dream and Vendetta. It took me a minute to figure out the Vendetta one. I had a sample called DET, one called TA, and one called VEN, until the penny dropped.

vendettasamples

I’ve always loved an eccentric so I got stuck in to see if this intriguing brand was all mouth and no trousers, as we say in Wales. In other words: are they any good or is it all talk? Now before you read on, it’s important to remember that Angelo Pregoni “ is also the founder of NoUseART, a movement which promotes performance based on smell“- Fragrantica.  Just bear it in mind.  Estee Lauder, this ain’t.

Peety

The first sample I tried was from the Wet Dream range and called Peety.  Initially it reminded me very much of Tauer L’Air du Desert Marocain,that mainstay of any classic niche collection. However Peety went a bit incensey on me then, more like Comme Des Garcons Avignon ( all of this good by the way, I’m a fan). The dry down is long, spicy and smoky and will have your nose glued to your wrist. There’s moss, tobacco and patchouli and some might find a bit of animal in there too, but on me it was more balsamic smoke. It’s excellent and would be equally good on male or female skin.

peetyfullimage

Satyricon:

This is tricky to describe because to me it smells like stale unwashed man. The thing is, I think it’s meant to. Remember that Angelo Pregoni is a performance artist that uses smell in his performance and one Fragrantica reviewer has memorably described this as “a wardrobe malfunction done on purpose”. What I got was cat pee, which then disappeared and turned into Crayola crayons, which then morphed into unwashed skin and dirty hair.  It’s remarkably clever but not something I’d want a full bottle of.

satyricon

VEN

Ven opens like Serge Lutens Louve- it’s all cherries and chocolate, but it quickly changes into something more than that. There was also a whiff of peppermint and, bizarrely, the smell of a brand new room- you know that new paint and new carpet sterile smell? It reminded me a little of LUSH Smell of Weather Turning, but this has bigger muscles and ends up smelling as if you are cuddling a hirsute man who is brusque, yet protective, and hasn’t washed since yesterday.  It’s very good.

ven

DET

I wasn’t sure what to make of Det when I first tried it so here’s what I wrote down: rum, booze, basil, woodiness, flowers, nutty?

I then looked at the notes listed on trusty Fragrantica. Who would have thought that a scent that incorporates white flowers, peanuts, red berries, basil and benzoin would ever smell so amazing? But it does. The peanuts add a warm savoury woody feel, the white flowers only overtake towards the finishing line and the whole comes together in an intriguingly changeable feast of a fragrance.

det

TA

Ta is an odd name for a perfume. Its a lazy colloquial way of saying thank you, but once I jiggled the samples as mentioned above, it became clear that this is the last piece of Vendetta. Ta is very green: almost too green: the cedar is strong and just holds back from being bitter. The moss tones it down a bit and the strawberry and cucumber come through at the very end, like the hint of melted sweets in a puddle.  This wasn’t my favourite but I would recommend you try it if you ever get the chance.

ta

Stockists

You can buy Odriu perfume from the Odriu Milan website, and they also do a sample service.

GIVEAWAY

Here’s the Good news: I am doing several give-aways throughout Advent as a thank you to my lovely readers for helping to get me to my third year blogaversary in January 2016. The give-away will consist of:

Odriu Milano Perfumes by Angelo Orazio Pregoni

Peety

Satyricon

Ven

Det

Ta

Simply tell me what you smell of at the time of writing.  That makes sense, right? For instance, I smell of six perfumes, minty Polos and coffee at the moment. The deadline for entries is Monday 7th December at midnight GMT. You can give me your answer via Facebook, email ( iscentyouaday@gmail.com), Twitter, or as a comment on the blog below.

Sorry, but the giveaway is for UK readers only due to postal restrictions. Apologies to my lovely overseas chums.

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Aftelier Perfumes: Palimpsest

LIQ-EDP-Palimpsest-1

 Palimpsest: A manuscript or piece of writing material on which later writing has been superimposed on effaced earlier writing

Mandy Aftel is an independent perfumer based in California with a die-hard fan base, and more accolades than you can shake a stick at- and after trying several samples that she very kindly Fed-Exed to me, I can see why.

Firstly- the name:  After I’d read it a few times and stopped saying Pample-est in my head, I realised that, aside from some Yuzu, this was nothing to do with grapefruit (it’s not Pamplelune) and everything to do with layers.

A Palimpsest is “A manuscript or piece of writing material on which later writing has been superimposed on effaced earlier writing.”

(www.oxforddictionaries.com).  You can see why this is a great name for a perfume that is a cornucopia of layers and which constantly changes on my skin and which juxtaposes the old with the new.

The Archimedes Palimpsest fromThe Guardian

My preconceptions were torn asunder when I first tried Palimpsest, and I have been learning more than ever lately that it will never do to cross olfactory notes off my list of “Likes”.  I usually sidestep peach, honey and yellow flowers, but Palimpsest has all three tied together with a hint of citrussy yuzu, and most interestingly of all, an edge that smells like dried incense smoke.

Initially, there was a sourness to this, which isn’t always a bad thing, but then loud peaches took over, bedding down into richer, dried apricots enveloped in a waft of joss sticks.  Some borderline indolic Jasmine wafts by, leaving an impression but not staying long.  I wouldn’t like to break this down into top,middle and base notes  because it doesn’t stay still.

Mandy Aftel, from www.aftelier.com
Mandy Aftel, from www.aftelier.com

One overwhelming impression that it left me with, is that Palimpsest is the exact, and I mean the exact smell that you get when you stick your nose right into a fully blooming daffodil. There’s honey, yellow flowers and pollen and vanilla and that hint of natural spice in a daff that reminds you that it came from a vegetable like bulb. I don’t even know if it was deliberate or if it’s my take on it- is after all the national flower of Wales where I live, so I consider myself an aficidando of sticking noses in Daffodils.

wiki commons
wiki commons

Palimpsest is not only a superb, multi layered and interesting scent, but it is that rare thing- an all natural perfume.  Personally, I don’t mind what’s in my perfume as long as it smells good, but it is no mean feat to maintain this principal.

Mandy is remarkably successful- she was named in the top seven bespoke perfumers in the world by Forbes and Basenotes rated her in the top twenty five most influential people in perfume ( and they know what they’re talking about over there). Her very first brand, Grandiflorum was sold to Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, and she has been her own boss at Aftelier perfumes since 1997.

LIQ-MINI-Palimpsest-1

Despite her success, Mandy remains approachable and down to earth, and her passion shines through in all she does.

I would like to also point you in the direction of a blog that is so good that I treat it like textbook: Perfume Shrine.  The review of Palimpsest on PerfumeShrine is superb and tells you more than I do in fascinating detail. I’m not worthy!

Stockists

Aftelier perfumes are available from the Aftelier website. Prices vary, and samples start at $6 a phial.

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