Tag Archives: Niche fragrance

Why I LOVE Gallivant Istanbul (in Capital Letters)

Gallivant is a perfume house that is masterminded by Nick Steward. Nick certainly has the credentials to create his own fragrance brand, having worked at L’Artisan Parfumeur for many years. Inspired by the unique vibes of each city that his scents are named after, each Gallivant fragrance has something quirky and rather wonderful to offer. The nose is Karine Chevallier.

photo of Istanbul from UnisonTurkey.com

Earlier in my blog, I reviewed Gallivant London and Gallivant Tel Aviv. If you haven’t tried either of these, then do try and  get yourself some samples from here.  Recently, two more have been launched, Berlin and Amsterdam. I am hoping to try those soon and report back. There is also Gallivant Brooklyn, which is in the blog processor machine waiting to dry (aka my brain).

Today, my wanderlusting friends, we are discovering Gallivant Istanbul. Follow me as I guide you around this olfactory marvel.

As you might imagine, with its Turkish history and ancient culture, there will be mysterious smoky incense facets to this, and there are. Lots of other brands have done smoky resinous scents but what makes Istanbul stand out is the fresh note that travels alongside the heavies.

Photo from thatbackpacker.com

It opens with crisp bergamot and red thyme, setting me up to think I’m about to dive into a cologne. I’m not massively off track here-because this is followed by a middle phase of lavender- a primary ingredient in colognes and fougeres.

The addition of aromatic cardoman that combines beautifully with the lime and thyme, lifts this out of deep resin territory, whilst keeping that mysterious myrrh note in there. Add some peppery geranium and a woody base of warm tonka and smooth sandalwood and you have Istanbul.

Photo from LonelyPlanet.com

What I love about this is that it seems to include so many facets of a colourful city like Istanbul. There are hints of leather, herbs, citrus, patchouli and musk.  It’s almost like a walk through a bazaar, starting with the exhilarating sea front and ending in the covered markets, still with a fresh breeze in your lungs.   There’s kind of a wetness, or a juiciness to it that stops it being dark and tarry, as resinous scents can often be on my skin. This makes me want to sniff it in great gulps.

As for whether its male or female? It’s for everyone, except my son who declined my offer of a few sprays to wear to Primary School this morning.

Stockists

You can buy Gallivant fragrances, including sample sets from here.  My samples were kindly provided by Gallivant, in exchange for an a honest review, which I have written. This is not a sponsored post.

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4160 Tuesdays: Doe in the Snow

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Sarah McCartney “stirred woods, fruits and flowers with an icicle”

Doe in the Snow was created for a winter wedding,  but recently it has proved itself to be the perfect summer fragrance.  When it feels so hot that  anything with the word snow in the title seems far-fetched and impossible, that’s when you need Doe in the Snow.

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Doe in The Snow was created for the January wedding of perfume writer Odette Toilette aka the lovely Lizzie Ostrum. I had the pleasure of meeting Lizzie at the Jasmine awards earlier this year and was delighted to see her win, and deservedly so.

I’ve only recently decided to review Doe in the Snow because I cannot beat the tagline “stirred with an icicle.” It’s the perfect description of this icy refreshing treat that cuts right through that sticky, sweaty feeling you get as soon as the thermostat goes over the 20 degree point.

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stemilt.com

Doe in the Snow opens with lemon and lime and grapefruit.  It reminded me of a cross between Morning Fresh washing up liquid and ice lollies.  That’s no criticism at all: more of a vignette of an afternoon at my grandmother’s house circa 1970 something. Doe in the Snow however, is  modern with a vintage feel.

There are peaches in here that come out boldly about halfway through, but with no stickiness.  Think of the peaches in Lanvin Arpège: a restrained fruity note that adds a frisson of traditional prettiness without any of the modern syrupiness of main stream fruity florals.  Besides which, the lemon and lime stop things getting too sweet and keep that astringent edge that makes Doe in the Snow so refreshing.  To my nose, there’s also a touch of dark green soap in there, which I can’t explain to you or myself.

HouseofTreats.com
HouseofTreats.com

The mosses and woods in the base give it that chypre edge that I always seek. That’s not to say this ever gets rich and heavy though: the genius of it is that it’s a chypre for a summery day.  It has vintage touches in the peachy mossy note, and yet resembles a sorbet with its icy coolness.  Very clever, very refreshing and very chic.

Stockists

This is half price until June 23rd 2017 from the 4160 Tuesdays website.  After that it goes back to full price, which is still very reasonable, especially for handmade niche fragrance.  You can buy something “meh” from the beauty counter or you can buy a bottle of this for a similar price.   Not a sponsored post.  Opinions are my own.

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Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium

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Have you ever smelled a perfume that’s so good it makes you want to write a love song about how much you love it?  A scent that shoots you in the heart like cupid?  A scent that makes the need to own it feel more powerful than lust?

Welcome to Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium.

A pelargonium is a member of the geranium family and has bright velvety petals as vivid as a flame. This flower is more or less the main star in this fragrance, but the supporting cast makes this unforgettably wonderful.

It opens with clary sage and lime. The herby clary sage note complements the peppery petals of the pelargonium until it gives me a vivid image of an English country garden on a cool damp day.  The herby floral accord makes me think of very expensive soap- the kind that makes your bathroom smell like an unaffordable hotel suite. The musk is an almost iris-like musk with its muted, classy subtlety,  yet it is unmistakable and lingers on long after the citrus opening has bloomed and faded.

photo by www. gardensonline.com.au
photo by www. gardensonline.com.au

There is allegedly a carrot note in here somewhere, but unless I’m mistaking one root for another, it comes across as more iris like, which as you know, can smell earthy and rooty.

The base is guaiac wood, vetiver and moss, giving enhancement to the earthiness that peeks out in the middle phase. The oakmoss adds a touch of damp greens, which only makes me fall for it harder. I’ve always found geraniums to smell faintly medicinal, and this facet is showcased with touches of elemi, often used in cough syrup and medicines.  Don’t let this put you off, there’s no TCP note here, more of a clove/violet thing going on.

The Aedes de Venustas range at Shy Mimosa perfumery, Bristol
The Aedes de Venustas range at Shy Mimosa perfumery, Bristol

This is primarily a floral, but it’s as if each facet of the pelargonium scent has been given a partner to showcase its talents and double its impact.  Perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer is a genius and I will be her fan forever.

This is the fragrance I will buy for myself when I get that novel published (and I will).

Stockists

Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium is available from Selfridges at £210. My novel will have to be a bestseller I guess.   My sample was a kind gift from  Aspects beauty PR, for which, many thanks.  Opinions are my own.

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4160 Tuesdays Tart’s Knicker Drawer: Coup De Foudre

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As a perfume lover, (as I imagine you are too if you are reading this), I am always searching for that thunderbolt moment when you find treasure.  You know that moment when you smell a perfume that you love immediately and plot to own by fair means or foul as soon as you’ve sniffed it?  Well that happened to me with Tart’s Knicker Drawer by 4160 Tuesdays.

Sarah McCartney, founder, Nose and Grande Dame of 4160 Tuesdays, very kindly sent me some samples recently for my perusal.  As always, I am  delighted to receive them, on the proviso that I will be honest  whether or not I like them.  She also kindly included a very glossy coloured chart which categorises the many 4160 Tuesdays scents.  This is jolly handy and I wish more places would do this.

photo by World of Oddy via Flickr with kind permission of A.Oddy

 

Tart’s Knicker Drawer happened, as often the best things do, by accident.  Sarah had been mixing so many potions in the lab that she joked she would be getting on the bus smelling like “a tart’s boudoir”. Encouraged by several voices of approval and generally egged on to bottle it up, Tart’s Boudoir became Tart’s Knicker Drawer and golly, I’m glad, because I love it.

What I smell:  violets, some pretty green notes, the contents of a messy dressing table covered in snowy white talc with a blob of Pond’s Cold Cream spilled onto it, some ambery spice making it smell a bit chypre-y (new word alert!) and a strong, strident resonance that arrives in the room and says “I’m impossibly feminine and glamorous and if I want to wear a velvet dress and red lipstick before cocktail hour, then I shall.”

The official description of the notes is very different to my interpretation above .  I wondered if I should list them all because the list of notes alone does not do justice to this lovely retro, powdery, powerhouse of a scent that smells like it was made for ladies in stockings who have very messy dressing tables and perfectly set hair that stays put for a week.  What I would say is don’t look at them too closely because if you try and imagine them in your head, you will miss the serendipity of this happy accident.

Here are the notes:

top notes: bergamot, orange, grapefruit, pink peppercorn,

heart notes: raspberry, rose, jasmine, sandalwood, cedarwood, violet, tuberose, guaiac wood

base notes: amber, musk, vanilla, benzoin, tobacco.

cities collection samples
The Cities Collection- 4160 Tuesdays

As for me, I want to always have a bottle of this so here’s a message for the lovely Sarah : Thank you for making it and please don’t stop!

Stockists:  prices are very reasonable indeed at £40 for 30ml,  £60 for 50ml or £90 for 100ml of eau de parfum.  When you think how many rent-a-scent beauty counter fragrances  cost the same and can be so forgettable, then it makes really good sense to go niche for the same price, or even less.

In the UK you can buy Tart’s Knicker Drawer from the 4160 Tuesdays website, in Europe (Benelux) 4160 scents are available from www.parfumaria.com  and in the USA you can buy  a selection of 4160 Tuesdays scent from www.luckyscent.com and in Canada from  www.indiescents.com

Don’t forget the cute sample sets (Tart’s Knicker Drawer comes under Frocks and Hats) and handbag sized bottles from the 4160 website.

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Serge Lutens Gris Clair: Hot Lavender!

gris clairgood

 

On my skin, Serge Lutens scents last a very long time: usually around nine hours. The exception was Muscs Koublai Khan, which I detested and couldn’t get rid of. It’s the perfume Rule of Sod.  Love it?  It won’t last.  Hate it?  It won’t wash off.

Serge Lutens Gris Clair falls somewhere in the middle for me.  It’s long lasting but I neither hate nor love it.  Weirdly, it smells a little like hot starched linen on me: as if I have over-ironed a garment (chance would be a fine thing- ask my husband!).  It also smells very masculine, and if I may use a colour here, it smells silver.

Serge Lutens Gris Clair was created by the genius that is Christopher Sheldrake. I don’t love everything he makes, but everything he makes is quite brilliant, objectively speaking if not subjectively.  Woodsy lavender with a hint of resin, this is an unusual combo and I can think of few scents with which to compare it.

The notes include Iris, tonka bean, woods, lavender, incense, and amber.  What I admire about it is the fact that without the lavender, this would be a superb, if not unique, incense-y oriental.  However, the lavender jars and almost puts my teeth on edge, but I don’t regard this as a bad thing.  How would we have discovered that olives and Martini go so well together if someone hadn’t dared to try it?

So what we have in Gris Clair is a warm, spicy scent whose cosy edges are blown away.  Lavender is a cold scent.  Amber is warm.  Sheldrake has wrapped a woolly blanket around the hard edges of a skyscraper.  It’s hot and cold.  It’s different.  It’s audacious.  But it’s not for me.

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4160 Tuesdays: Time to Draw The Raffle Numbers

4160 Tuesdays

You may recall my earlier review of a 4160 Tuesdays scent: The Dark Heart of Old Havana. It was a delightful and evocative scent and  today’s scent: Time to Draw the Raffle Numbers, is equally charming.

 4160 Tuesdays is named so because in a lifetime of 80 years, there are 4160 Tuesdays: use them well! The names are characteristically whimsical and so far, from what I have experienced of the line, they seem to me to evoke places and moments.

 The name: if we live until we’re 80, we have 4160 Tuesdays. That’s all. Let’s not waste them. Let’s use them to write, think, make and do lovely things. Or, if that sounds great but you don’t have time, to buy lovely things that other makers have put together.

Seville-Orange-Marmalade-2012
www.vivienlloydpreserves.com

Time to Draw the Raffle Numbers was inspired by the victory of Sir Bradley Wiggins: “Linden, trees, coffee, marmalade on toast and  a crowd of excited bodies”- says Sarah McCartney. Making my judgement before reading the inspiration, my impressions were: Mr Sheen furniture polish, tea urns, a spilled glass of sherry , dark oak floors and yes, marmalade.

It is quintessentially British, as is our national penchant for having a raffle at any  kind of fundraiser or social occasion. I should know, I’ve been on a Parish Church Council and am now currently a PTA member. Raffle tickets are in my blood!

LightningVolt_Wood_Floor
wiki commons

The scent is citrussy and sharp, yet dark and mellow.  It gives me a picture in my mind of an aged empty church hall, with a gleaming burnished floor, long after the crowds have gone. 

Longevity is excellent at around eight or nine hours and it would be equally good on a man or a woman.  I would wear it, and I would also be more than pleased if I could get my husband to wear it too.  He gets a bit wary now when I approach him with a glint in my eye saying “try this, give me your arm”. Don’t worry about him though, I make sure he is well stocked with suitable scents of his own.

Sarah McCartney, founder of 4160 Tuesdays has launched a refreshingly interesting line of scents and I look forward to trying some of the other samples in my possession (thank you Lisa, yet again, for the loan!). They are the opposite of High Street mass market scents, but they have a delightful  vividness and nostalgia about them.

If you can’t stretch to a blind buy, you may be interested to know that  several sample sets are available.,wrapped like old fashioned sweets in tissue paper.

A name to watch and a range to make you dream.

Stockists

You can find 4160 Tuesdays here.  Samples were a kind loan from friend Lisa Jones.

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Serge Lutens Vitriol D’œillet: The Carnation Bites Back

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I really didn’t know what to make of Serge Lutens Vitriol D’œillet when I first sprayed it.  I thought it was a slightly bitter Aldehyde with brash, unadulterated sour limes. However, it soon morphed into something altogether different as it dried, but the opening  blast was worthy of a Tauer and reminded me of how Andy Tauer uses Aldehydes and Bergamot in a retro way.

Paradoxically, once Vitriol has calmed down, it heats up.  Before long, spiky, spicy Carnations take over.  Their prickliness is enhanced with a backdrop of strong clove, pepper and chilli. However, there still seems to be some Bergamot in the backdrop, even though it is not listed as a note.

Image I find Vitriol very unusual.  I have to pay it the compliment of saying that although I’m not sure I like it, it has really kept my interest today and I can’t stop sniffing it.  It’s almost like a mystery that I want to solve.  The Carnation is there, but it’s not a floral scent.  The edible spices are there, but it’s not savoury. It has Peppers and Chili but is not a gourmand.

In fact, I’m not sure what category I would put this into, but I really want to get to know it better.  I guess I’ll put it in the “Fascinated” category.  This one might just creep up on me and make me fall in love with it, but right now, the jury’s out. Oh, and don’t buy it blind.

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Serge Lutens Clair de Musc: Petticoats and Good Shoes

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 Clair de Musc is much warmer and friendlier than yesterday’s sombre La Fille de Berlin, but then Musk is often a friendly sort of warmer-upper. Despite this being a product of Uncle Serge and his gang, I’m afraid I have something rather facile to say about it. My first and unshakable thought on smelling this was Impulse Hint of Musk. I tried to shake it off, really I did, but even in the basenotes I was still thinking the same thing.

To try and get a handle on Clair de Musc, I wore Body Shop White Musk on the other arm and compared the two.  I needed to find out what makes Clair de Musc different. What’s Clair got that other musks haven’t? Let’s face it, if you’re going to spend in the region of £80 on a bottle of perfume, you need to know why it’s worth  forking out.

Sephora

On first spray, it was , as I said, Impulse Hint of Musk. Nothing wrong with that, it’s the best Impulse there is (is that damning with faint praise?). However there were also yellow flowers or honey in Clair de Musc. Interestingly, my interpretation did not match the notes listed on Fragrantica at all. For instance, where Fragrantica had bergamot, iris and lily of the valley listed as notes, I had honey, honeysuckle and yellow flowers.  There is a whisper of iris, almost as if she opened the wrong door, glanced in and left again, leaving a Will O’ the Wisp waft. The Body Shop White Musk smelled sharp compared to this, which gives you an indication of Clair’s feathery softness.

 Clair de Musc is warm, kind and pleasant. I don’t feel that it brings anything dramatically different  to the Musk Party. In fact, I only really got interested when I layered it over Cabochard. Then I really perked up and began to take notice. However, I often layer my trusty  (and cheap) bottle of Jovan White Musk over other items in my scent wardrobe to similar effect.

 Clair de Musc has low sillage, (often a blessing), and average lasting power on me, say two hours. I would probably not wear it alone, and it’s pricey as a layering scent: a bit like spending more on your petticoat than you would on a pair of good shoes.

Cheaper Musks do the job. This is good, but is it worth £85? You may disagree. Samples are the way forward, my friends. The Jury’s out.

 

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Jo Loves…I Love Jo Loves Me Love

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Jo Loves… is Jo Malone in her new incarnation. Jo Malone the person left Jo Malone the brand in capable hands in 2006, and has gone it alone once again. So much for retirement! Fragrance has a strong pull and it wasn’t long before Jo found herself creating fragrance again.

 Like the beginning of so many good stories, it all began in a bar in New York…

From crushed Mangoes and Limes, Jo’s mind got working as cocktails were created and fruits crushed before her eyes (and nose). Fruit into fruit created new blends and intoxicating aromas, even before they added the vodka.

 Jo Malone the brand is often referred to as perfume for people who don’t like perfume, and many Jo Malone fragrances are based on those found in nature. Now that Jo has “gone rogue” it would seem that she has gone back to nature again, this time with fruits: fresh, citrussy, zingy fruits in many incarnations from Cocktails and Lime zest to suave, crisp Pomelo with its suede-y richness and Rosy base. But it doesn’t stop there. There is also Pink Vetiver, A Shot of Oud Over Mango,  Gardenia and Orange Tulle. Jo Loves…is exactly that: notes and fragrances that Jo is passionate about.  It is very refreshing to see a line of fragrance that is not governed by focus groups and mass markets, but geared to the taste and passion of an individual. . And the kind of creative freedom that can only be coveted.

If Niche means exclusive suppliers (in this case a website and a showroom is all) and a limited line, then this is New British Niche, and as you would expect, it’s very good. Quality is high and is reflected in the price. Good ingredients are worth paying for. The Mango scent that Jo Loves has captured is so mouthwateringly realistic that it induced a genuine craving in me for ripe mangoes.

Since the range is not cheap if you’re buying blind, it would be great if Jo Loves sold a sample or starter kit, since bottles start at £45. The website sells a collection of four 30ml scents for £120 ( see photo above). That’s a lot to spend on a blind buy. You can take my word for it, and read reviews and blogs, but until you try a scent on your own skin you cannot know if it will suit you. You can only make an educated guess. A sample kit would solve this problem, and having tried some samples myself, I can happily predict that samples kits will lead to full bottle purchases. This week I will be reviewing some of the fragrances in more detail.

I am currently wearing Mango Nectar and the temptation to lick my own wrist is almost overwhelming.

It’s only nine months to Christmas, never too soon to start a (very long) wish list…Jo Loves could be the UK’s answer to Frederic Malle and Andy Tauer.

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