I have to admit, the sum total of my Missoni knowledge prior to this is posh stripy knitting, so I apologise in advance for my ignorance. You can find out more about the origins of the brand here in this superb round up from our trusty friends at Fragrantica.
I was recently given a sample of Missoni Eau de Parfum as part of a goody bag from my Perfume Society Improve Your Sense of Smell workshop ( see my write up here) . The brand came to my attention again when it won a FiFi for best packaging back in May at the annual Fragrance Foundation UK Awards ( see my write up here. Again) . Sure enough, its simple white background and coloured stripes are certainly eye-catching and immediately says Missoni across a crowded perfume shop. The bottle itself is a fabulous unicorn blend of irridescent colour, and since it’s pretty cheap (around £20 for 30ml) you could do a lot worse for your dressing table.
So what does it smell like?
Well I have to admit, it’s not smashing any barriers or covering any new ground. However, if you want a pretty “pink” scent that doesn’t dominate a room, this is just the ticket.
It opens with pear and citrus, which straight away makes it blend in like a school uniform in a school. In the middle, there’s a big batch of florals: namely synthentic “petalia” i.e man-made general petal scent, along with floral notes and the ubiquitious note-of-the-year jasmine sambac. Then there’s a sort of woody cedar base where the sweetness of the pear and the synthetic florals kind of blend in with a floral woody finish and… voila! A generic pink beauty counter fragrance that fits right into summer 2017.
The pear/ jasmine sambac/woody base thing has been done to death lately so either this lacks originality or it taps into what the kids are buying. No harm done, but I’ll sit this one out.
Sorry Missoni. I guess you won’t be sending me a free stripy jumper any time soon. Good price and great bottle though.
As you may have gathered, last Thursday was the UK Fragrance Foundation Annual Awards Night (aka the Fifis) and saw a major gathering of the great and the good in the perfume industry. By a happy turn of events, I found my little old self there too.
I attended as a guest of the Clive Christian team, which was both an honour and a privilege and I thank them warmly for inviting me.
I hadn’t been sure that attending would even be possible, with the night being on a school night, during term time and in London, around 150 miles from South Wales where Fort Scriven is situated. After rearranging my family’s lives in order to facilitate my attendance, and a last-minute ear infection at 5.50am from my poorly son who failed to guilt me into cancelling, I was off.
I may have mentioned before how kind perfume people are. Their generosity and thoughtfulness is legend, and tonight was no exception. I was invited to join brilliant perfume writer Stephan Matthews and Fifi award winner and perfumer Marina Barcenilla for a meet up and catch up prior to the noise and chaos. This meant I did not have to walk in alone and when we reached the venue and I saw the sheer enormity of the event, I was wholeheartedly grateful to have people to walk in with.
There were proper paparazzi and a big sponsored backdrop for better known people than I to be photographed on. Red carpet was everywhere- I have some on my stairs at home, but it doesn’t have the same effect and it’s a sod to hoover. There were sequinned hosts and black tie waiters with champagne holders that could hold about thirty glasses, unlike me. I only had one and stuck to soft drinks thereafter. I had names to remember and an early bus and I could not figure out where my hotel was from a map. Adding champagne would have been a disaster. I might still be there now, looking for the exit.
Stephan and Marina are a hoot to hang out with and I was in awe of their knowledge: not just of the industry but of the process and raw materials. Marina, as you may know, is a talented perfumer and very modest with it. Plus hilarious and sweary also.
I had a chance to catch up with the charming Dariusz, aka Persolaise and a met a jolly good looking chap who looked very familiar. I asked him what he did for a living “I’m a model” replied the charming model Oliver Cheshire. If I was as good looking as him, I’d be a massive big head, but he wasn’t in the slightest and was delightful.
My chum and fume-idol Sarah McCartney arrived around then: a finalist in two categories for Mother Nature’s Naughty Daughters, and looking splendid in vintage couture, with vintage buttons gleaming like jewels. We founded a two-strong campaign to restore the evening glove. Check out our YouTube video above that’s snowballed into double viewing figures.
It was soon time to herd us upstairs to dinner and I was separated from my companions to join my hosts on the Clive Christian table. My eyes had popped out on stalks when on seeing goody bags on every chair, so I popped them back in and tried to look gracious and not like a goody bag greedy guts. Which I am.
The Clive Christian table were a truly lovely team of people and I was particularly bowled over to have a chat with Victoria Christian herself who, let me tell you, smelled INCREDIBLE. (She was wearing Clive Christian V and C together). Luckily, fragrance gatherings are one of the few occasions where you can sniff people you have only just met without getting arrested. Also on my table, I was delighted to see Jo Fairley of The Perfume Society, who I hadn’t seen since I attended her workshop last Saturday.
You will hear more from me about Clive Christian throughout the year as there are exciting launches coming up soon, so watch this space.
After being entertained 1950s style by the fabulous Bye Bye Baby- a superb Frankie Valli style singing act, the awards began in earnest. There isn’t room here to list all the winners, so follow this link to Now Smell This, but we had a lovely compere in the form of Natasha Kaplinksy, who looked great but was too far away to sniff.
I was disappointed that Sarah McCartney didn’t win, but delighted that Marina Barcenilla won for Black Osmanthus. Marina and Sarah are true perfumers who make their own stuff, source their own materials and get their hands dirty. I love perfumers who do that and if it were up to me, I’d create a special category for the dirty hands gang.
The Fragrance Foundation was celebrating its twenty fifth birthday that night and it was fascinating to watch a showreel of perfume ads over the last 25 years. How things have changed! The night was finally over, all bar the dancing, but this tired Cinders could bear no more after a very long day. Finding the exit was like trying to leave Ikea but I just about made it out of there before I turned into a pumpkin.
Them Fragrance Foundation people sure know how to throw a party.
Goodnight, Nos da, Pyjamas.
Who are you wearing?
Samantha Scriven was dressed by The Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice Charity Shop, Cwmbran and the YMCA Shop Blackwood. Jewellery by Marks and Spencer from four years ago. Make up by Avon and Rimmel. Hair by Salon Scriven and two hotel mirrors. Scent of the Night was Le Jardin Retrouvé Tuberose Trianon.
Some blog posts are very hard to write because I’m so afraid I won’t do them justice. This is one of them. I was on such a high after coming back from the Perfume Society Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshop that I was neither use nor ornament for about 48 hours.
First of all, The Perfume Society is three years old and is the only body of its type in the world. They know this because they googled to find a perfume society before realising there wasn’t one. The Perfume Society is the brainchild of legendary beauty editor and writer Jo Fairley and her business partner Lorna McKay. I have been reading Jo’s work since around 2000 ish, before blogging was invented and back when I was a One Scent woman.
The workshops are not just exclusive to London, so it really is worth subscribing to The Perfume Society, if only to get access to The Scented Letter and Discovery Box discounts. The workshop I attended was in the basement of The New Moon Tapas Bar in Clifton.
It was a wonderfully informative, but informal session that made me feel like I was BFFs with everyone around the table, and not just my real life BFF Lisa, who was also there. Jo is an engaging speaker and delivers the workshop in an accessible and inclusive way that felt like a chat with a friend except with far more “Wow! I never knew that” moments.
You may think that having written 817 blog posts about perfume that I might know a lot. Well I know about 1% of what I actually want and need to know. However, you very much do NOT have to be a blogger in order to attend. For one thing, the amount of experience and knowledge you need to attend the workshop is ZERO. No experience required.
So, what happens? Well, we were made comfortable with refreshments and introduced ourselves, which wasn’t cringy like work training, but friendly like meeting your tribe. There were six of us altogether and it was especially lovely to meet Claire, who I have been following on Instagram and talking to on the perfume group Eau my Soul.
Jo explained that part of the mission of The Perfume Society is to put us back in touch with our sense of smell, referred to by Helen Keller as “The Fallen Angel of the Senses” and she was right. Back when we were cavewomen, we could sniff out herbs, non-toxic berries and woolly mammoths, but now our sense of smell has been blunted by modern conveniences.
The workshop goes about starting us on the path to putting this right. We did some very interesting sniffing, giving our impressions in an atmosphere in which there was no right or wrong. There was also a very interesting exercise in which we tried minty Green and Black’s chocolate to see if it was smell or taste that gave us the minty hit. The answer really surprised me. Plus, you know, Green and Blacks. *swoon* (something else we have Jo to thank for).
The third section was the bring a bottle party. Some of it was 80% proof. Yes, I’m talking fragrance. Prior to attending, we were asked to bring a bottle of our favourite scent. I had to be very strict with myself and put the wheelbarrow back before leaving the house with just one: Art de Parfum Gin &Tonic.
My adorable colleagues, as I now thought of them, brought a few each, so we had great fun diving on the stuff we hadn’t smelled yet and sharing opinions. On top of that we were given goody bags to take home. Reader, this was better than my birthday.
As if that wasn’t enough fun, we then got the chance to buy Discovery Boxes and the gorgeous Perfume Society Scented Skincare set at big discounts. As if that wasn’t enough, we then go to visit a brand-new niche perfumery called Shy Mimosa, which I will write about separately, and where we also had a big discount.
So, was it worth it going? Did I improve my sense of smell? Yes, and yes and it was wonderful and I had several OMG moments where I made surprising discoveries and oh, my stars, what a day!
If you ever get the chance to attend one, go. Just go. They’re not just in London and you don’t need to know anything beforehand. If there’s not one near you, then email The Perfume Society and tell them. They will listen. Unless you live alone on a remote island that can only be reached by catamaran at high tide. Apart from that, if enough people clamour, then you never know…
I love fragrance and all things that smell nice. Now that I’m 47 I need good skincare or I end up looking like Zelda from the Terrahawks. Combine those two things into one and you have a happy Welsh bunny with glowing skin.
Recently, my dear scented chums at the PerfSoc (or the Mothership as I call it) sent me a Discovery Set with a difference. There are no actual perfumes or fragrances in this set, yet every item is scented. My greedy eyes popped at the scented hand cream- I have a serious hand cream fetish. I recently went around the house Kondo-style rounding up hand creams and found nine. Oops.
The Perfume Society asked me for my opinion on the Scented Skincare set, because unlike my children, they listen to me and don’t argue that I’m unfair and that it’s not even dark yet. Sorry, I digress. Tough day.
So here you are, my dear chums and fellow fans of good smells. This is a round up of this rather splendid set, which retails for £22 despite being worth about £75. By the way, if you know anyone who is getting married, this makes a fantastic honeymoon present or hen weekend gift.
What’s in the bag?
Firstly, the set comes in a stylish bag with a rather lovely message on the front “be confident, be kind, be beautiful”. Couldn’t put it better myself. Right. I’m going in.
Aromatherapy Associates Renewing Rose Body Cream40ml (normally £38 for 200ml)
This was my absolute favourite. The scent of roses was stunning: good old fashioned garden roses-none of your modern rubbish. This scent stopped me in my tracks. I’d wear this just for the smell alone. I could still smell pretty wisps of roses as I went to bed.
Sukin Detoxifying Clay Masque100ml – full size product (worth £11.49)
This comes in a little tub that gives you enough for several generous face pack sessions. I haven’t used it yet, but I will say that I found it very difficult not to eat it. It smells like the most delicious marzipan and even touching it feels good. I can’t wait to get stuck in but it will definitely be when the husband and the kids are out or I’ll be all over Instagram, and not in a good way.
Weleda Pomegranate Body Lotion20ml (normally £22.95 for 200ml)
Trust Weleda to come up with the goods. This beautiful lotion smells lightly of pomegranate and the delicious thick lotion leaves a beautiful subtle scent trail whenever you move.
MOA Fortifying Green Bath Potion 10ml (normally £27.50 for 100ml)
I couldn’t get the lid off because I stupidly tried all the hand cream first. Today, I finally managed to unscrew it and have a sniff. It smells divine. It comes in a glass phial and the scent is bursting with green tea and mint and maybe green grass. It’s very refreshing and perfect for Spring.
Aurelia Aromatic Repair and Brighten Hand Cream7ml (normally £28 for 75ml)
The scent was divine and the cream sank into my fossilized hands and made them look human again. The smell was terrific and lingered around for a good few hours. It’s all lavender and herby citrus. Gorgeous.
This Works Sleep Plus Trouble Shooter10ml (normally £35 for 120ml)
This gentle spray not only has anti-aging properties but is also supposed to aid sleep thanks to its beautiful aromatherapy scent. You can spray it on your collarbones and shoulders for a revamped décolletage (well, we live in hope), and a good night’s sleep. Bonus points for giving me a nice smelling pillow the following morning.
Balance Me Restore and Replenish Face Cream 15ml (normally £40 for 50ml)
I slathered this on before bed and looked as if I had slept for 12 hours in a dewy meadow. My skin glowed this morning. My cheeks were like two peaches and I didn’t look exhausted like I usually do first thing in the morning. I’ll be getting more of this for sure!
Rosalena Rock & Rose Face Oil5ml (normally £42 for 15ml)
A posh looking facial oil that goes a long way thanks to its little pipette style applicator. The scent is very natural and realistic, though not particularly strong. I haven’t tried it as a facial oil yet as I was covered in Balance Me Restore and Replenish Face Cream last night ( see above), but this one’s next.
Ultrasun Face25ml (normally from £20 for 50ml)
I could tell you how great Ultrasun is or I could tell you a funny anecdote about a stupid person with pale skin, freckles and slightly gingery hair who decided to go to California in August, for goodness sake. This person, er, we’ll call her “Pam”, used Ultrasun on her face but nothing on her legs. Her face was a healthy glowing pale beige on her return, whereas her legs were still two different colours 18 months later from severe sunburn. That “Pam” is so stupid.
Amie New Leaf Deep Pore Exfoliating Polish25ml (normally £5.95 for 100ml ) Haven’t tried this one yet but I did squeeze a bit out of the tube to smell it. It has a very light floral scent and a reassuringly sandy texture to really slough those skin cells off. I’ll be doing the old hot flannel treatment very soon.
You can buy this wonderful bag of treats from the Perfume Society website. Mine was kindly provided by The Perfume Society and opinions are my own.
Over to you
How about you? What’s your favourite non-perfume fragrance? Do you have a favourite body lotion or face cream? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
A recent article from The Perfume Society got me thinking. Our dear chums at The Perf Soc invite us to show them our pictures of how we store our collections on Instagram and Twitter for a future feature in The Scented Letter. ( hashtag #scentstorage)
I warily approached my groaning dressing table with my temperamental camera phone and noticed it was a big messy jumble. Once I tidied up for the photo sesh ( see above) I felt it was high time for an edit. I therefore picked my absolute favourites and took a family photo of them looking their best and all facing the right way.
In a non-subtle attempt to get you all to tell me about your essential kit, I thought I’d take the vain liberty of giving you a mini tour of my curated core collection.
Le Jardin Retrouvé Sandalwood Sacre, 4160 Tuesdays The Gathering of The Clans, Art de Parfum Gin &Tonic, Papillon Perfumery Angelique, JLo Deseo, Gucci Envy, Jolie Madame vintage, Andy Tauer Carillon Pour Un Ange, Hilary Duff With Love.
Le Jardin Retrouvé Sandalwood Sacré: This has been my SOTD for the past 3 days. The sweet, aromatic sandalwood hangs out like a lovable hippy until it turns into a woody, spiced musk.
4160 Tuesdays the Gathering of The Clans:
The Gathering of The Clans is a wonderful blackcurrant, herby, citrus chypre that will always remind me of Christmas 2016 because I could NOT stop wearing it. Plus, there was a real-life Gathering of The Clans.
Art de Parfum Gin &Tonic:
This is so much more than gin and tonic. It’s a fresh breeze blowing through your life. On my skin, it bursts into tiny flowers as the day goes on.
Papillon Perfumery Angelique:
This was love at first sniff, although I found it very hard to describe at first. It defies genre. I always wear it to christenings so it has happy associations for me. It smells like priceless buttery suede and iris and mimosa. There’s nothing like it.
This was an astounding bargain that I refer people to whenever they cast doubt on the quality of celebrity scent. This 30ml bottle cost me a mere £8.95, but before I could stock up, it was discontinued and is now like hen’s teeth. The bottle makes me think of wet jewels. The scent is jasmine, orange flower, yuzu and tiare flower.
Ah, my beloved Envy. It led me astray from my fidelity to Chanel Cristalle. Envy and I were together for several formative years. My house, my bedroom, my clothes and my desk all smelled of hyacinth and lily of the valley and that strange metallic Nineties chime in the middle. Pure Heaven. It was pointlessly discontinued in 2007. Despite a huge clamour for it, Gucci remain tight lipped. I have just over an inch left. Can’t go on. Hankies please.
Balmain Jolie Madame vintage
This was a gift from dear chum Lisa Jones. She watched as I entered the chypre portal and never looked back over my shoulder. It’s all her fault and I love her for it. I was once asked what I would put in my dream fragrance. I answered “violets, leather and oak moss” before I realised that I had just described Balmain Jolie Madame.
Tauer Carillon Pour Un Ange
I was an immediate slave to the green notes in Carillon Pour un Ange. It is one of the longest lasting perfumes I have ever tried. It starts with angelic lily of the valley, goes even greener for a bit, and then comes storming back to an Ambergris finish. I love how it lingers on my pillow.
Hilary Duff with Love
Before this was sadly discontinued, I picked up a 15ml bottle in my local branch of Home Bargains for just £3.99. It wasn’t the mainstream fruity florals that were so typical of 2013: it was a thrilling surprise of tropical dark wood and yes, mango. It’s a woody, cedar treat and I’m loath to use it up until I can wangle another off eBay. Oh, and check out the dreamy bottle! It’s like a jewel.
How about you?
And to think life was so simple when once upon a time I had a signature scent. Sigh. Once you’re bitten, there’s no going back.
Now I’ve shared mine, how about yours? How do you store them? Where do you keep them? If you had to really edit your collection what would be in it? Are your favourites discontinued or reformulated? Are they posh and pricey or chypre and cheerful? Am I asking too many questions? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
PS Don’t forget to post your photos to @ThePerfumeSociety on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #scentstorage
Check me out! I’ve been experimenting with editing sites. The world is my lobster. Watch this space for disastrous pixellated pics and clumsy graphics until I get the hang of stuff. I’ll soon be running with the pack.
Well, dear readers, it’s time for me to sum up a busy fragranced year and award plaudits to my favourites from 2016. These are purely based on my opinion, which is therefore The Law.
Not all of these are actually 2016 launches: some have just impressed me so much after four years of blogging that I have declared that they deserve accolades. Now, we’d’d best get on before all this power goes to my head and I start doing villain’s laughter.
The IScent Award for Best Longevity
This has to be a three way tie between
4160 Tuesdays Midnight in the Palace Garden
Andy Tauer Carillon Pour Un Ange
Papillon Perfumes Tobacco Rose
I sprayed 4160 Tuesdays Midnight in The Palace Garden into thin air yesterday and 24 hours later it is still there. This is despite eating a roast dinner in the same room and trying on various perfumes throughout the day. It smells like I have been burning very expensive incense among church pews and I love it.
I sprayed two sprays of Tauer Carillon Pour Un Ange on my neck three days ago. Since then I have had three showers and changed my bedding. This morning when I woke up, I could still smell lily of the valley. This is a bottle I purchased in May 2015 and it has barely gone down. I think a genie keeps refilling it.
Made by the delightful Liz Moores in her compound in the New Forest, Papillon Perfumes Tobacco Rose lasted over fifteen hours on me. Rich, woody roses that just stay put. I could bask in it. Two sprays and you’re wrapped in spiced, woody roses until bedtime.
So all three of these niche brands get the Iscent 2016 Award for Longevity. Isn’t it interesting how they are all niche and not mainstream? Just sayin’
Best Summer Perfume – Art de Parfum Gin &Tonic
Gin &Tonic by Art de Parfum stopped me in my tracks with its new take on Gin &Tonic. So much more than just refreshing juniper, I wore this until my sample ran out and had compliments every time. A full bottle is in my sights in 2017. Check out my reviews on the rest of the range here.
Most Original Launch –REEK perfume Damn Rebel Bitches
This has to go to Reek Perfume for Damn Rebel Bitches. It’s a scent that smacks of rebellion. Rustic touches speak of the heritage of the strong women it pays tribute to. With notes of malt, blood orange and herbs, you won’t be surprised to learn that Sarah McCartney was the nose behind the scent Her fingerprints are all over it! (NB That is not her hand in the illustration).
Best Celebrity Launch-Sarah Jessica Parker Stash SJP
This one was easy. It goes to Sarah Jessica Parker Stash SJP. Breaking the mould of the usual celeb fare, SJP goes down the niche-style route of a churchy sandalwood incense unisex scent with not a hint of fruity floral fruitichouli in sight. It’s superb quality and I hope it will set the tone for other innovative celeb launches.
Best Flanker-Chanel No 5 L’Eau
It’s got to be Chanel no 5 L’Eau. Not a diluted version of the original, but a twiddling of the tuning knobs to bring out the lighter and muffle the darker. It’s divine and light and deserves classic status already.Oh, and lightness doesn’t mean a lack of longevity either: this really sticks around. Full marks to the beautifully simple marketing campaign showcasing the lovely Lily-Rose Depp.
Another three-way tie. I simply couldn’t choose! Here are the turkeys, the raspberries, the No-Nos. I don’t want to be mean but I’m going to be anyway. Dior Poison Girl,Estee Lauder Modern Muse Nuit and YSL Mon Paris left me wishing I’d never even taken the lid off. The prices are steep for what they are and the money seems to be going on the marketing rather than the ingredients (what’s new?) Least said soonest mended. Moving on!
Best Winter Fragrance- Le Jardin Retrouvé Sandalwood Sacre
This one has to go to Le Jardin Retrouvé. When I smelled Sandalwood Sacre for the first time, it was like cupid had shot me with an arrow. I simply had to own a bottle and now I do. You can read my review here. Don’t just keep it for winter though. I’m not.
Best Gourmand: Library of Fragrance Chai Tea and Library of Fragrance Tomato
Trust Library of Fragrance to come up with the goods once again. This was a tie between Chai Tea and Tomato. I am sure they won’t mind sharing the award with um…themselves.
Chai Tea combines lightness and spice to bring a new angle on the word “cosy.” if you don’t like your gourmands too sweet ( like me) then Chai Tea will win you over. Meanwhile, back in our very short summer of 2016, (it was a Tuesday afternoon as I recall) Library of Fragrance Tomato took me back to my grandfather’s greenhouse in the 70s faster than a Tardis. As fresh as a new bud and with accents of verbena, Tomato became one of my very favourite warm weather scents.
Best Chypre: DSH Mata Hari
Over the ocean in Boulder Colorado, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz brews and macerates her beautiful perfumes with skill and passion. I was floored by DSH Mata Hari Extrait and in a blind test I would have thought it a priceless original 1920s vintage. It made me want to wear long gloves and arch one eyebrow at people. Glorious! You can read my DSH reviews here.
Best New Scent 2016: Beaufort London Fathom V
Beaufort London Fathom V turned an unassuming day into a vivid montage of sea faring adventure. It transported me to the slimy flanks of a London ship and the distant calls of pirates in one sniff. This stuff is like letting a genie out of a bottle. It’s green times a thousand, with sea notes that you can almost hear. It’s the best sea scent ever, and I can’t see that anything will make me change my mind about that. You can read my love letter to Fathom V here.
Best Natural Fragrance 2016: Mandy Aftel – Aftelier Amber Tapestry
Using only natural ingredients ( and that takes some doing!) Mandy’s instinctive connection to nature transports you to another place, via taste and even flavour. Amber Tapestry unfurls, layer by layer, enveloping the wearer in the kind of warmth that has a uniquely human touch. You can read my review here.
The IScent Fellowship Award: The Perfume Society
I’ve invented a Fellowship Award because The Perfume Society defies other categopries. Not only do they provide white boxes of treasure that even the most jaded perfume palate would salivate at, but they’re a sort of Mothership that we can all turn to when we get a bit lost in the murky depths of fruity-florals-chypres-colognes-my-nose-is-confused-help! Ever had a day like that? I have. The Perfume Society Scented Letter magazine also makes me settle down with a contented sigh and think “I’ve found my tribe” as I read what other perfume obsessives are up to. Fumeheads, you are not alone.
I am the proud owner of a Perfume Society Precious Perfumes Discovery Box and jolly pleased I am too! In this beautiful box, which, by the way, would make a perfect gift exactly as it is, you will find the following items:
Nails Inc nail polish in sparkly Electric Avenue
30ml Molton Brown bath and shower gel in Rose Absolute
Sample of Miller Harris new Etui Noir
Sample of Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540
In my book (or on my blog, which this is) I call that excellent value. There are nine decent spray samples that you would be very hard pushed to find at any beauty counter. This all comes in a lovely white box with explanatory postcards and sniffing strips. It makes an excellent gift if you can bear to part with it. I can’t so I’m keeping it. Sorry, not sorry.
I shall be reviewing some of the items within over the next few weeks so watch this space. I have already reviewed Scent of A Dream and was very taken with it. One of the scents that really jumped out at me was Fathom V by new house Beaufort London. I was delighted to see Galop D’Hermes as I have wanting to try it for ages. Oh and the Nails Inc nail polish is like liquid tinsel. Talk about Christmassy! I’m sure you will enjoy this box as much as I am. It’s so good I won’t share. It’s MINE.
Many people see perfume as an indulgence, like a box of chocolates. They don’t feel they can buy it for themselves. I am not like this. I have more trouble NOT buying it for myself, but I digress.
When Christmas and birthdays come around, people often ask me what to buy. Because perfume is so subjective, it’s very hard to pick something for somebody else so this is where I recommend the Selection Box. Yes indeed, a selection box that has no calories and won’t make you gain weight. I like both so I’ll be having a selection of perfume AND a selection of Cadbury nonsense this year.
When buying for others, unless you know their signature scent, it’s a safer bet to buy them a choice. Many companies have a set that contains several samples and a voucher for a full bottle, and this seems like a very good idea to me. Other companies have Discovery Boxes or selections of minis that make equally good gifts. Personally, I love the idea of introducing someone to a scent they love but haven’t met yet. I’m like a fragrance marriage bureau. I live in hope of setting up the perfect match.
I have made a list of what I think make the best “suggestion boxes” as gifts. This applies all year round and not just at Christmas. It’s worth remembering that if you don’t get what you were hoping for, eBay will have the “I hate this” gifts at bargain prices shortly after Christmas.
As an introduction to handmade artisan niche perfumes using top ingredients, you can’t go wrong with 4160 Tuesdays. Taster sets of samples start at just £25. If you want to provide your recipient with a large bottle of their choice, then for £95 you can buy seven samples and have a voucher for a generous 100ml bottle. I can guarantee that it will be beautifully packaged too. No, I’m not on the payroll, but I am a very satisfied customer.
The Perfume Society
The Perfume Society has something for everyone. They have a dangerously tempting selection of Discovery Boxes for starters. OR, you can buy a VIP subscription which gets you a free Discovery Box, discounts off further boxes and invites to many exclusive events, as well as a free online subscription to The Scented Letter magazine. The vast collection of Discovery Boxes makes me twitch with greed. You can buy carefully curated sets such as Beautiful Blossoms or Eaux La La, or you can buy exclusive selections from your favourite brands such as Shay & Blue, Molton Brown or Agonist to name but a few. I’m a big fan.
The Perfume Shop
The Perfume Shop Viva Box continues to be a popular choice but I’ve noticed they’re not publicised much in the branches. For £39.99 you get a selection of mainstream popular sample and a voucher for the full bottle of your choice. You can buy them here.
Boots the Chemist, that bastion of temptation, is also offering a little perfume selection box. In a smart cardboard gift set you will find seven contemporary samples, including recent hits Stella McCartney POP and Moschino Fresh Couture. Seven samples and a full-bottle voucher for just £40 and nicely gift boxed. You can buy it here.
For The Men In Your Life (or the life in your men)
The Perfume Society has two excellent Discovery Boxes: Scent of A Gent and Scent of A Man. Each one contains a selection of mainstream and new-to-you samples, as well as a couple of manly beauty treats. It all comes in a lovely white Perfume Society box.
Trusty Marks and Spencer also has some quality men’s grooming miniatures. Check out this set of six. Wrap up a box of these and an M &S voucher and Bob’s your fragrant uncle. Speaking of Marks and Sparks…
Marks and Spencer
Marks and Spencer has such a superb perfume department these days that I almost don’t dare to go in. If you added the Marks and Sparks perfume dept and the TK Maxx perfume department together I’d be bankrupt. I’d smell fabulous, but I’d be bankrupt. There’s a lot of choice at very reasonable prices. I don’t know where to start or stop.
Marks is affordably tempting. Check out the Florentyna mini set for just ten quid and the mixed EDT mini set, also for ten quid. Either would make a fabulous stocking filler, if you can manage to get to the till without buying seventeen bottles of something nice for yourself on top. I’m not sure I can make it past Monotheme or Shay & Blue without saying “but do my children really NEED school shoes after all?” That’s if I haven’t already filled the trolley with Fragonard…
Pell Wall Perfumes
In the heart of beautiful Shropshire, perfumer Chris Bartlett pours and macerates to make niche brand Pell Wall perfumes a force to be reckoned with. The set I find most tempting is this little set of 10ml bottles. For £59 you get nine 10 ml bottles of Pell Wall fragrances in small spray bottles. When you think that one bottle of mainstream High Street perfume costs more than this, then I reckon this is excellent value that allows you to vary your scent throughout the seasons and the year ahead. You can buy it here.
Once again, Liz Earle has launched a new perfume, and once again, it’s a class act bursting with botanicals and the best that nature has to offer.
Liz Earle Botanical Essence No 9 is, like her other fragrances, sourced from as many natural ingredients as possible. In the case of Botanical No 9 that would be damask roses, blackcurrants, bergamot limes, patchouli, oakmoss and vanilla.
When you read the list of ingredients like that it doesn’t do this lovely scent justice. Here’s what I got: The blackcurrants come out first and foremost, followed by the rose. The bergamot gives this a wonderful thirst quenching quality that is enormously refreshing and “clean” – like dewdrops or a bracing shower on a sticky day. As these notes blend and evolve, the base notes start to peek through. This is a floral chypre so there’s oakmoss and patchouli, but rather than the heat of the more usual amber for example, here there are more roses and plenty of osmanthus ( aka apricot blossom) to add a delicate sweetness that is never cloying or sugary.
Longevity is excellent and what’s left after around five hours is a dark velvety rose scent with wisps of patchouli and oakmoss around the edges. This is what you’ll smell like at the end of the day and it is GOOD.
Liz Earle Botanical No 9 is available from QVC or from the Liz Earle website. I obtained my sample from the Perfume Society Scents of Style Discovery Box which is available now from their website.
This is the first time I have reviewed an Atelier Cologne scent and it won’t be the last. Founded in Paris by Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel in 2009, the concept of cologne is made into something more resonant, using ingredients that anchor the scent for longer. I found a sample of Bergamote Soleil in my Perfume Society Eaux La La Discovery Box and wore it all day yesterday. I can report that this may be the longest lasting citrus fragrance I have ever tried.
Bergamote Soleil is a cologne absolue and that means a 15% concentration: around three times an eau de toilette strength. Usually citrus has trouble sticking around, but not here. Coupled with bitter orange this is a stunning invigorating summer scent that won’t get lost as the day heats up. It’s no one-trick pony though: this has gentle musk from ambrette (a plant based sub for animal musk), jasmine, and a green, chypre finish with oakmoss, vetiver and amber. That bergamot never wavers and stays to the end, around nine hours later on my skin.
Atelier bottles, like Serge Lutens bottles, come with a removable spray so you can use your bottle as either spray of splash. This means you can add a few drops to your bath and give your bathroom that five star hotel aroma whilst you’re in there.
This Paris based perfume house made me stand up and pay attention, so you will be hearing more from me about this great perfume house in future.