On my recent trip to the 4160 Tuesdays Mothership in London, I was privileged to sample the new stuff that’s a -brewing for 2018. You may have tried them already, but in case you haven’t and you’re curious, here are my thoughts on Eat Flowers, Amberama and Amber Mambo. SPOILER ALERT I love them.
Eat Flowers is, as the name would suggest, unapologetically floral. However, floral is a very wide spectrum so I could be blathering on about anything. I’ll narrow it down. Eat Flowers has a retro vibe in a Biba sort of way, or maybe that’s me thinking of the poster that inspired it? (see fig one). It’s dusty and pretty, like pot pourri, but still with moisture in the petals . I sniffed iris, possibly violets and basil in there too, along with faint nuances of rose. By rose, I mean the old fashioned faded pink roses from a tablecloth. It’s feminine in a terribly proper way, and smells as if it would make a terrific soap and candles. My son says it reminded him of Autumn, but to me, it’s bedtime in Spring, with a powdery warmth, like brushed cotton pyjamas. It has a delightful retro feel. It’s pre-digital age. It’s from back when we wore dresses and read books and had bubble baths. In case you’re not into iris- this one’s safe. It has smooth classy touches of it but won’t overwhelm.
My son’s very first unedited impression? “lemon fudge.” He’s not wrong. Nobody’s impressions of a scent are ever wrong. In fact to my nose, the citrus and warm amber combo gives this a hint of the cola cube. Remember them? 20p a quarter from the sweet shop? (Yes, kids, I’m nearly 50). Amber Mambo is a wonderful coca cola sort of scent and has a spicy fizz in its heart. It reminded me of the wonderful Mrs Gloss’s Lemon Sherbet, but this has more heat and is more golden. To me, this is pure, welcome, idyllic nostalgia. Bring on those cola cubes!
Now this one has sandalwood, amber and citrus, and if I’m not mistaken, a welcome flash of rose like a bowl of Turkish delight in a wood panelled study. It has a cheerful fruitiness about it that gives it a modern, playful finish, as if bringing a bunch of pink balloons into a dusky gentleman’s club and blowing raspberries. Just a minute- raspberries! That’s the fruit that’s in here. Yummy, delicious, tart/sweet raspberries. Glorious! Raspberries, amber and sandalwood. Irresistible. PS If you like Eau My Soul and fancy a a fruited up version, then this one’ll do nicely.
You can buy all of these from the 4160 Tuesdays website. They are currently limited stock, but if there’s a clamour, more will get made. With warmest thanks to Sarah McCartney for giving me an early preview.
I’m among friends here, aren’t I? So you’ll all understand how much of a big deal being let loose in a perfume lab with a pipette was for me last Saturday.
Yes, my scented chums, a little dream of mine came true when I attended the 4160 Chypre Workshop and made my own chypre.
With perfume being My Thing, and chypres being My Favourite Genre, it was pretty much an all-my-birthdays-are-happening-at-once sort of day.
So what goes on at a chypre workshop?
There were around six of us and the workshop took place upstairs at the 4160 Tuesdays studio in London. We were greeted with tea, coffee and goodies, and were allowed to fiddle about with the many 4160 Tuesdays purse sprays that were lying around. That would have kept me happy all day, but it was about to get even better.
We went upstairs to the studio and sat around the Big Table, whilst trying not to be distracted by The Wall of Scent: a cabinet full of vintage and modern scents. Some are classics and some are just plain nigh on impossible to find. I had to turn away or I wouldn’t have got anything done.
First of all, Sarah doesn’t so much teach, as blow your mind. I won’t put spoilers in, but just for starters there’s a theory behind the disappearance of the Marie Celeste that may be related to something we handled at the workshop. There’s also a shocking list of chemicals that will make you think twice about natural ingredients. NB I contain zinc, hydrogen dioxide and potassium, but you should see what’s in a kiwi fruit!
Some ingredients cost more than a kilo of gold bullion and tiaras.
There are Mysore sandalwood trees that have armed guards 24/7.
What I learned about the history of “powdery notes” very nearly put me off “powdery notes.”
Cocoa absolute smells and looks like Marmite, until you do stuff with it.
Orris butter will blow your mind in the same way wasabi paste once blew my head off.
The first thing we did was smell sniffing strips. As a perfume blogger of over five years standing, this was a new experience in that there were many ingredients I had never smelled on their own. For example, galbanum, used so beautifully in Chanel Cristalle, smelled much grassier and earthier than I imagined. ISO E Super on its own smelled faint and vaguely ozonic, but lined up alongside say, iris or veramoss (oakmoss substitute) and it emphasises the strength of its surrounding ingredients and brought out the best in them like a great backing singer.
Although my brain didn’t want to leave the studio, my stomach had other ideas and so we all crossed the road and had lunch together.
Despite having unbridled access to granola flapjacks and chocolate cookies, we headed to the divine Paolo’s Café on Vale Road for our lunch. The hardest part was choosing from the delicious brunch menu, and the easiest part was guzzling the delicious chips. there was a brief sleepy time period which my brain had to fight, but I put that down to an early Welsh start. Paolo’s Cafe is worth the trip, trust me.
Making Your Own Perfume
The afternoon session was where we made our own perfume. Several things shocked me about this.
The lack of uptightness from Sarah when she let six fume heads loose on several jars of the good stuff without saying “Get off my things” as I probably would have. In fact, she was highly encouraging and happy to get stuff out of the cupboard on request.
Making perfume involves a great deal of trying different combinations of fragrance together.
In case this sounds like stating the bleedin obvious, I’ll explain what this meant to me: I had a preconceived notion of all the perfume ingredients I would use in my dream perfume. When I tried this on sniffing strips, they didn’t “agree” with each other, much to my surprise. So the iris and galbanum that I had initially planned to include, stayed in the bottle since they didn’t get on, at least not on the day they met. I also loved the Jasmine on the smelling strip, but again, it didn’t play nice with its new friends so it had to go. Along with all my preconceptions of how easy making perfume looks
.There’s an awful lot of maths and a bit of chemistry. I needed help from the teacher with the maths as I’d been up since 5 am. Luckily the teacher was very nice about it.
You start by making a “mod” in a little bottle. Once you’ve chosen your smelling strips and they smell like they all get on okay, you drop tiny drops of actual ingredients into your mod jar to see if they get on in person, as it were. Mine didn’t make enough noise, so I cranked up the Ambroxan and the violet and added some stuff from a new jar I came across called Karmawood. Thus Mod 2 was created.
Lisa and I were both shocked that our bottles were topped up with the good stuff. We had both thought that our mods would be added to some kind of suspension agent, but that wasn’t the case. The big pipettes came out and six of us went away with a combined total 300ml of very, very good ingredients between us. There’s no diluting. We used the proper big jars and filled our bottles to the brim.
It is worth noting however, that the ingredients we used were not 100% strength, as I am reliably informed that that would knock you out cold. For perspective, a 5% rose is very, very strong. These are the jars that we used to fill our bottles.
Here’s the maths. You divide the number of ingredients and proportion of those ingredients into 50ml so you can fill your bottle. Thus: You have say, five ingredients and you want double karmawood and violet, but single doses of everything else and your sheet looks like this: 8ml veramoss, 8ml bergamot, 16ml karmawood, 16ml violet, 8ml Ambroxan, In fact that came to 56ml so I under pipetted and topped up with a “blob of rose”. If you had twelve ingredients you would…nope, sorry, can’t do it.
My very own fragrance in my very own bottle to take home.
I called mine Maenad, which is the name of the handmaidens to Bacchus, God of Wine. Lisa named hers Watson because it has a “lemon entry”. (“Elementary Dear Watson.”) Sarah recommended a spray or three, and then put them to bed for two weeks to mature.
Having my very own custom-made perfume was a deep and gratifying thrill, and trust me, I’m going back to make more. I wasn’t very good at perfume making, but the wonder of it all was the biggest olfactory thrill of my life. Usually, only Sir David Attenborough can make my jaw drop like that.
By the way, if you’re familiar with the 4160 Tuesdays Naughty Cupboard ( sale page), I am here to tell you that it is an actual cupboard and I stood in front of it drooling for a good twenty minutes. ( I also bought stuff, more of which anon.)
I would like to thank Sarah McCartney from the bottom of my heart for a breathtakingly memorable and exciting day. In case you haven’t gathered, I would recommend these workshops as a must for anyone even remotely interested in scent. You won’t be sorry and the thrill of holding your own bottle of fragrance feels amazing.
Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays has been making new perfume again and as usual, it contains high quality ingredients and has a little personality all of its own.
Rhubarb and Citrus is not-quite-a-flanker to 4160 Tuesdays Rhubarb and Custard, which came about via a Mrs Gloss crowd funding project. I haven’t smelled Rhubarb and Custard yet ( or Creamy Vanilla Crumble), but I’m heading to the 4160 Tuesdays studio next week where I hope to put that right.
I felt compelled to review Rhubarb and Citrus because it caused a very definite difference of opinion in my house, which illustrates how subjective scent can be. There’s never any right or wrong in fragrance: if I don’t like what you like and vice versa, we’re both right. It’s entirely subjective. Rhubarb and Citrus pitched man against wife in my house. Here’s what happened.
I received my package (actually two because I accidentally did a duplicate order) and put just two sprays on my skin. Immediately I was reminded of slightly unripe tomatoes in a greenhouse. Those beautiful earthy vines and green stalks give off a terrific scent in summer and there really is no substitute for the smell and taste of a tomato straight off the vine: delicious, earthy, green and citrussy. I was just about to write my review of it when my husband walked in and said “Oh My God, who’s been smoking weed?”
Naturally, I thought he’d gone mad. I can promise you dear reader, that I had not been smoking weed, although there is a dark doorway not two streets away where I’m pretty sure I could get some, had I a mind to.
The culprit, as you can guess, was Rhubarb and Citrus, although for the life of me, all I could smell was the inside of a greenhouse and its summery garden contents. To my nose, it smells of rhubarb, grapefruit and tomatoes on the vine. In other words, rather lovely. My husband, however, pulls a lemon sucking face.
I don’t know where he gets this stuff from. He’s never smoked weed in his life (although he has walked past the aforementioned dark doorway).
My conclusion is that I love Rhubarb and Citrus and its delicious notes of grapefruit and rhubarb. I think it has a quintessential English country garden feel. However, after my conversation with my husband, I probably won’t be choosing it for date night.
You can buy this from the 4160 Tuesdays website. My recommendation would be to buy all the 9ml Rhubarb and Custard bottles before finding the rhubarb and custard combo you love the best. Creamy Vanilla Crumble is definitely calling my name.
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.)
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
The Perfume Society Improve your Sense of Smell Workshop
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’s Six- I join the ranks of hallowed predecessors and felt very flattered to be included in this legendary column.
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.
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.
There are certain smells associated with Christmas that we don’t come across in the course of the ordinary year (i.e. the boring non-Christmas period). Now, I might be romanticising things here, but I have vivid Christmas memories of the exact smell of 1970s tinsel, the smell of roasting beef (we didn’t eat turkey) and Mum and Dad smoking all day. In the 1970s you were encouraged to smoke all day and anywhere you pleased. Unimaginable now, I know, but the scent of cigarettes always takes me back to the family home back where chocolate advent calendars hadn’t been invented and the internet was just a twinkle in the sky.
These days, any kind of foodie/boozy scent has me thinking wistfully of Christmas and I use it as an excuse to step outside my usual chypre scented comfort zone and into cosy, smoky gourmands. Basically, I want to smell good enough to eat.
Here are five fragrances that have me salivating around Christmas time. They are rich, evocative, wintry and absolutely delicious. Dive in with me. Sherry?
Zadig et Voltaire This Is Her
The plain white bottle from this achingly cool Parisian brand doesn’t look particular festive but it has dominant chestnut notes and lashings of whipped cream. This is an unusual fragrance, but I like it because of that. They could have played it safe but no, they thought they’d confuse our brains with jasmine and chestnuts and whipped cream and cashmere wool and pink pepper and, did I say whipped cream? It sounds confusing but I promise you, this scent really works and I could happily plough through a whole bottle, and the body lotion and candle too. You can find it here.
4160 Tuesdays Captured by Candlelight
With overtones of Cluedo and Agatha Christie in the intriguing title, this fragrance smells as Christmassy as a tangerine in the bottom of your pillow case. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a Christingle service, but it reminded me vividly of that. What happens is that children attend a simplified Christmas service in a church (an old one for preference) and each child is given an orange with a candle embedded in it. Jutting out of the orange are cocktail stick with little Haribo gummy sweets on. Combine the old wood of church pews with the orange, the sweets, the candlelight and the flask of Baileys you have in your bag, and you’ve got Captured by Candlelight. Check it out here on the 4160 website, which is dangerously tempting at this time of year.
Christmas isn’t Christmas without some sort of marzipan encounter. Hypnotic poison allows you to carry that scent around on your skin. With rich, boozy vanilla and thick, rich almonds, Hypnotic Poison is hard to beat, and very long lasting. By the way, just holding the pumpkin shaped bottle feels like magic. I keep thinking its going to turn into a tiny coach at midnight. You can buy it here.
Hermes Elixir des Merveilles
The nose behind Hermes Elixir des Merveilles is none other than legend Jean Claude Ellena. Famous for his blending, which is often described as having the delicacy of a watercolour painting, Elixir des Merveilles is a gourmand that has the kind of mouth-watering appeal that never feels too rich for a second helping. To my nose, this smells like caramelised oranges, but without any stickiness. Imagine a crème brûlée with slightly seared bitter orange fruit. I’m not usually a fan of gourmands, except at Christmas, obvs, but this one has me drooling with undisguised avarice. You can buy it here.
Yves Rocher Bourbon Vanilla
Never let it be said that I don’t cater for all budgets. This cheap and cheerful vanilla scent from trusty Yves Rocher stopped me in my tracks and made me check the price again. Twice. This is a rich, golden vanilla scent that smacks of boozy vanilla liquor, rather than the more commonly found synthetic cupcake note that sometimes poses as vanilla. Not, this one, though, No Sir. Yves Rocher Bourbon Vanilla will make everyone ask what you are wearing. Even the most curmudgeonly perfume resister will be unable to stop sniffing you. Don’t blame me. Blame Yves Rocher! Oh, and the price? My 30ml bottle was the princely sum of £3.99 five weeks ago.
How about you?
What will be wearing this Christmas? Something cosy? Something new? Do you always wear the same fragrance at Christmas? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
Moodscent Four is a collaboration between four bloggers from four different countries. There’s Megan in France (who is actually from New Zealand), Esperanza in the Netherlands, Tara in England and me, Sam here in Wales. Every few months, we all blog on the same theme and share what scents we use for different moods and occasions. There’s no right or wrong, and every time we collaborate I love to see what the others have written as we keep our choices a surprise form each other until the time of going to press.
This month, appropriately enough for Christmas-tide, it’s Night Out perfumes. Get your glad rags on, and get in a cab with us. It’s going to be a very fragrant ride.
My Favourite Night Out Perfumes
When an invite lands on the mat, or more likely these days, on Facebook Messenger, I find myself devoting far more time choosing my fragrance than I do my outfit (probably something black. Whatever’s clean).
To me, going out means getting the special favourites out. I like to make an impact and when you’re hitting the town, that’s OK. At night, you can let your inner vixen off the leash.
Here are my five favourite Night Out fragrances. Don’t make me choose a favourite. I must own all of these, always.
4160 Tuesdays Killer Rose
I recently wore this to an all-day wedding. It’s my party scent and my favourite evening wear. It grew from the equally sublime 4160 Tuesdays Raw Silk and Red Roses. Killer Rose is a version of that with the volume turned up. There’s big red roses, earthy patchouli, a hint of peach and spice and I even get a waft of violets, which may or may not be there. I often superimpose the smell of violets into fragrances since my brain wants to put them in everything, so it could be ghost violet!
This is the fragrance that my eight-year-old son described as “the best you’ve ever smelled”. I’ve been blogging about perfume since he was four, so that’s a huge compliment.
PS Mini back story: After much Prosecco, we decided that Killer Rose would be my beloved sister in law’s wrestling name. It was a helluva wedding.
Ruth Mastenbroek Firedance
Firedance is the perfect Night Out fragrance for Autumn and Winter. It makes me think of festivals and dark late nights when you stay out way after the taxi drivers have gone to bed. Ah, those were the days! Firedance has roses with sepia, smoky edges and generous swoops of oud and leather, that dart around you as you move. Gorgeous bottle too- very Brothers Grimm! Firedance is Ruth’s fourth fragrance and she is working on a fifth.
Whenever I wear this I immediately feel elegant ( and I’m not). I feel self-assured and at home in my own skin, which is rare for a seething mass of self-doubt like wot I am. Papillon Dryad is the ultimate in elegant and earthy green chypres and it makes me want to strut around like I’m IT. Dryad has notes of earthy green moss and narcissus and jonquil and herbs and all sorts of mysterious things from the forest. When I wear Dryad, I feel confident and womanly. This is a feeling that gets me in the mood more than wine and nail polish.
Le Jardin Retrouvé Tubereuse Trianon
I can’t resist tuberose. After sidestepping it for years, tuberose and I have some catching up to do and I try to insert any opportunity to wear it into my life. Le Jardin Retrouvé Tubereuse Trianon was my fragrance of choice for the annual Fragrance Foundation Awards in May 2017. In a room where every scent was literally competing with another, my trusty whispers of tuberose still snaked up to my nostrils as if to assure me that my chosen scent had not been wiped out by competitors. I still smelled of tuberose when I landed in bed that night. And I had sniffed A LOT of people.
I love Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s fragrances. She can turn her hand from spring flower buds to animalic retro via everything else you could wish for in Perfume Land. Chinchilla is a very animalic musky mossy chypre that smells like it was made in 1924. The name itself evokes a lost world of dark glamour and fur coats and cigarette holders and speakeasies. Now if that doesn’t make you want to go out, then I don’t know what will.
Find out what Night-Out fragrances my colleagues chose here:
I’m a sucker for a good chypre. The greener, the mossier and the older, the better as far as I’m concerned. Serendipity twinned me with a bottle of Paris 1948 today, and reader, a bit of magic took place. Love was in the air and cupid shot me.
A few years back, I tried Paris 1948 and decided it wasn’t for me. I also tried Lady Rose Lion Monkey Unicorn and decided that wasn’t for me either. However, today I received a full bottle of Paris 1948, and by chance, a sample of Lady Rose Lion Monkey Unicorn, and whaddya know? They don’t half go! One complements the other in the way that Guerlain Apres l’Ondee brings out something new in Frederic Malle L’Eau D’Hiver. (Try it, you’ll see. Thanks Lisa!).
My first impression of Paris 1948 is of fresh cut grass in an aged bottle. Have you ever opened a really old bottle of fragrance that has ambered with age and has that sort of bitter powdery thing going on? That’s what Paris 1948 reminded me of. To me, the dominant note is, believe it or not, basil. This is a note that is also really prominent in 4160 Tuesdays Lady Rose Monkey Lion Monkey Unicorn, which is why they seem to go together so well.
Paris 1948 opens with citrus, specifically grapefruit, and peaches. Now, I used to have a problem with peaches until the penny dropped and I realised that many of the Grand Dames of fragrances carry peachy nuances: think Lanvin Arpege and Madame Rochas to name but two. Once this made sense to me, peaches always gave me a
friendly sort of retro yoo-hoo when they pop up. They certainly make their presence felt here, and that could be one of the reasons why I didn’t like this first-time round. The basil has a sweet, herbal thing going on that almost borders on the medicinal, but not quite. The flowers come out after the citrus has calmed down a bit and let them get a word in: roses and orange flower and leathery labdanum.
The base to my nose, at least, is a peachy, mossy (VERY mossy) herby, slightly medicinal chypre. I’m sorry I can’t make that sound more catchy, but it’s true. Call me an addict. Call me a fan. This is a permanent fixture.
Stockists: I bought this from 4160 Tuesdays and you can too. If you buy it before tomorrow afternoon (October 27th 2017) then it’s half price. After that it’s still jolly reasonable. This is not a sponsored post.
Over on Facebook (have you liked my page yet? Please do), there is a friendly perfume lovers group called Eau My Soul. The USP is that the group is welcoming, not critical of other’s choices and provides a warm atmosphere in which to discuss anything you like about fragrance.
The group is the brainchild of founderChristi Long, who wanted a forum that was a sanctuary from one upmanship and criticism of other’s choices. Some perfume groups can get quite heated and Eau My Soul is the gentle antidote.
Blog favourite and friend Sarah McCartney is a member and being a perfumer, it was just too irresistible to make a scent for the group and Eau My Soul the eau de parfum is the result.
Now, I feel as if I participated in this scent personally, because members were given a poll of ingredients that they would like to see in a perfume that represented the group. Sandalwood was heavily in the lead, and thus sandalwood features heavily. I love a sandalwood fragrance and was one of the voters, so to receive a sample of a fragrance I feel I had a small part in was a really unique and wonderful experience. Every member had a vote and there were many votes for different ingredients, all of which were included. A truly democratic fragrance!
So how does it smell?
Eau My Soul, like the group itself, is made up of many components which all play a valuable part.
It opens pleasingly with citrus, like a palate cleansing appetiser before the sensational main course.
The main player is sandalwood, but with smoky hints of cognac, incense and frankincense, it doesn’t stand alone. The flowers are the big strong ones: jasmine, iris, rose. There’s vanilla too, but when merged with leathery labdanum and tonka, it makes for a warm buttery background rather than the cakey vibe it brings in less carefully constructed mainstream fragrances (now, that’s tact!).
What I love about this is the smoky woodiness of it. It has resins but never gets too resinous- sometimes resins can come across as harsh and tarry to me, but here, all is gently blended. The citrus keeps it from getting too dense, whilst the floral notes break through to give this a floral tang that I am so addicted to I’ll need rehab.
In the base, as if this were made just for me, there is my favourite note: oakmoss. It rounds this off with a flourish, adding its earthiness to the smokiness and floweriness. It’s pure heaven.
Overall, I don’t think it would be going too far to say that this is, in my opinion, Sarah McCartney’s best work (and that’s saying something). It’s full bottle territory for sure, and having written 875 perfume blog posts, I don’t say that lightly.
You may be unsurprised to learn that this has sold out, but will be back in October from the 4160 Tuesdays website. This is good news because I’ll need to let Santa know. My sample was won in a Eau My Soul giveaway, so basically, I can say anything I like about it. And I have. You can join Eau My Soul on Facebook. We are friendly, kind, not snobby and we don’t judge. Thank you to Christi Long who runs the group like a good fairy.
I must thank each and every one of you who entered. I had some brilliant replies. I think how someone smells says so much about a moment in their lives, doesn’t it? From “something the dog rolled in” to “petrol” and the mouthwatering “chiocken, stuffing and gravy” I was hugely entertained and want to be friends with everyone of you.
Apologies if I couldn’t reply individidually. It’s currently the summer holdays, or as I call it, the season of “Mum, watch this” so I often get called away before I can finish a…
Anyway, without further ado, the winner is Kate Farrar!
Congratulations Kate. Please send your address to me at email@example.com.
To those who weren’t lucky this time, I’m often doing giveaways so stay tuned because they are random.
“We are the grandaughters of the witches you couldn;t burn”
You may have read my recent review of Damn Rebel Witches, the second offering from our Scottish friends at REEK, created by the gifted Sarah McCartney. Well, due to a postal mix up, I now have more than one purse spray of REEK Damn Rebel Bitches and I thought the decent thing would be to do a giveaway. As much as I’d like to keep it, the perfume situation at Fort Scriven is getting a little out of hand now.- not that I’m saying that’s a bad thing.
In order to win the 7.5ml purse spray ( worth £25), just tell me your smell right now. Mine is Goulash, Vosene and First by Van Cleef and Arpels. What’s yours?
Entries will be chosen via randompicker.org and the giveaway will close five days from now at midnight on the 30th July 2017. Please do not enter if you are outside the UK as I will not be able to send you your prize, and would hate to disappoint you.
Put your comment below or on Twitter or on Facebook. Whilst you’re at it, why not follow me on all of my social media?