Tag Archives: Woody scents

Jack by Richard E Grant: My Review

Photo from richard-e-grant.com

There are celebrity perfumes and then are perfume lovers who make perfume and also happen to be celebrities.  Richard E Grant created his own perfume brand and also happens to be an actor, writer and director. As much as I love a good sleb bargain, they are usually about noughts and dollar signs and not usually driven by a lifelong love of all things olfactory. Jack very much falls into the latter category,  and is the culmination of Richard’s self-confessed obsession with scent and all its visceral triggers.

Backstory

Manchester Evening News

First of all, the creation of Jack Perfume was coaxed out of him by the incredible Anya Hindmarch (yes, the creator of the handbag brand). It was when she stumbled across him with his nose in a gardenia bush that she more or less asked him if there was anything he needed to talk about?  You can the read the full story on the Jack blog.

Secondly, and this sets Jack apart from many celeb scents, Richard funded this himself.  He risked his own money, (after all, we may have hated it), and  tracked down the right people so he could scratch this itch that wouldn’t quit.  (I’m sorry for the imagery there, I’m trying to think of a more elegant way of saying that.)

The result of Anya Hindmarch’s nudge in the ribs and pep talk, and of Richard’s drive and passion, is Jack Perfume, which I am reviewing today.  There are now two more in the series, Jack Covent Garden and Jack Piccadilly, which I shall review presently.

Now I’m a bit late to the party having only just got around to getting my mitts on these. Cwmbran is not a hub for perfume samples, unless you count my four mini suitcases in the dining room. It’s never too late to review a scent though, so here we go.

So What Does Jack Smell Like?

Jack opens with an immediate and thirst quenching blend of mandarin and lime. One dab has my son asking if I “have sherbet over there.”   It’s delightfully refreshing and  a great first impression.

There is a cannabis in the opening symphony too. How could it be left out after Richard’s iconic role in Withnail and I? I cannot say the name of the film without so many quotes flying into my head, I fear I may bore you if I don’t get back on track.  Rather than being a joint the size of a large carrot (as in the film) the cannabis is a light herbal touch, slightly earthy and grassy and rather pleasant: its not unlike vetiver, which is also here.

The cloves come in shortly after that, accompanied by nutmeg, giving this a wonderfully aromatic spiced wood warmth.  The lime and mandarin from the opening act seem to cut through the richness of the pepper, oud, resins and woods, which stops this from getting too dark or too rich. There are clean musk nuances in the finish and the sniffability factor goes off the scale.  I can’t seem to type more than three words without having another sniff.

Jack is a wonderful unisex fragrance that would serve you in summer or winter. It is a scent of contrasts: dark and light, with a glossy wooden shell and a soft belly.   My overall impression is that this is very much a feel good scent.  It’s both uplifting and  cosy, like a hug, and  I shall be ordering several gallons.

Stockists

You can buy Jack from Liberty  in London, as well as in Europe and the USA. See here for a full list. My samples were kindly sent to me by Richard E Grant, for which, my warmest thanks.  I completely failed to be cool when I received them.

 
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Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule: Little Drops of Heaven

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It seems entirely apt that in this season of goodwill and nativity plays, Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule reminds me of Christmas, cosiness, and all things nice.

It’s an unusual but simple blend of Sandalwood, Rose and Cacao.  It seems as if one dominates, only to be taken over by another, then another, in rotation.  One minute I think this reminds me of the dried fruit in Serge Lutens Arabie, the next there is a droplet of rose against a dusty, rich sandalwood background, and then the slightly fruity, rich note comes in again.  In fact, at first sniff, I was convinced there was fig here.

Some sandalwood purists would have preferred this to have been made with Mysore sandalwood, but in all honesty, I am not discerning enough to differentiate. I’m just happy to have sandalwood, any time, any place.

Cacao refers to the seeds of an unripened cocoa pod before it becomes suitable for harvesting and growing advent calendars.  An unripe cocoa pod is green and bitter and here it is captured, not as green and bitter, but as if all the richness of dark chocolate has been captured before any sweetness has been added. Against sandalwood it works terrifically well, and a lack of sweetness, unlike in real life, becomes a virtue.

The whole melange works incredibly well and I would happily wear it every day in this icy weather, which is saying something for somebody as scentually promiscuous as me. (new word alert!)

Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule is wonderfully warm with just the right amount of  sandy prickliness to stop it being too gourmand-y.  I love it. It may well be my favourite Serge, and that’s a hard one to call.  Christopher Sheldrake steals my heart yet again.

Stockists:  In the UK You can buy Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule online from Selfridges, Liberty and Escentual.  In the USA and Canada you can try www.Fragrancenet.com  or Amazon.com or Amazon.ca.

Guerlain Samsara: I Can’t, I Simply Can’t

samsara   Everyone has one.  A fragrance that is associated so strongly with another person or time that it cannot be seen as a stand alone fragrance to be viewed objectively.  It could be the signature scent of a former colleague, or in-law, or it could be the smell of a disastrous night out or date. Whatever the reason, many perfume lovers have a smell they cannot detach from, no matter how random or illogical the association.

For me, that smell is Guerlain Samsara.  It may explain why it has taken me so long to get around to reviewing it. Years ago, I knew a couple who had appalling personal hygiene. The smell of Samsara in their flat was all pervading day and night and masked the strong, unwashed smell of hair and clothes and body so that I was never sure if the perfume was musky or if it was the unwashed clothes.  It served to put me right off, good and proper, like the opposite of Pavlov’s dogs.  I see a bottle of Guerlain Samsara and I walk away, swerving with almost comical briskness.

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Decades later, I steeled myself to chase away the perfumed ghosts.

It wasn’t until I spent a few days wearing it that I realised how similar Samsara is to Serge Lutens Feminité du Bois.  Feminité du Bois is woodier and has rougher edges (deliberately) but the robustness and dusty spice is similar.  Sadly, to me, Feminité du Bois smells like unwashed knickers ( which I tried to Google and wished I hadn’t), so I guess we’re back to square one on that one.   Or maybe one explains the other.

On first spray Samsara is immediately woody, green and juicy.  The sandalwood is then the strongest note, followed by the Musk, at least to my nose. There’s a touch of earthy iris and orris root, and it’s rich samsaraad2with amber, but the opening is fruity and juicy and spicy all at once.  There is a waft of definite banana like ylang in the top notes, but it skidaddles before the mood gets serious. The base note holds that unmistakable musky sandalwood that means you can spot Samsara from 20 paces, and longevity is of course, excellent, whether you like it or not.

You could wear Guerlain Samsara on a date and you (and your date) would still be enjoying olfactory reminders three days later.  The success of this is up to you.  Please wear Samsara responsibly. Whatever way I look at it though, and whichever angle I come from, it will sadly always be the smell of a girl who uses perfume instead of soap.

I’m sorry Samsara fans, it’s not you, it’s definitely me.

PS If you are a friend of mine and you are reading this, you are not the unhygienic couple.  They are long gone.

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4160 Tuesdays The Lion Cupboard: And a Father’s Day Tale

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Today is a celebration of fathers and father figures.  I certainly want to celebrate my amazing Dad Mike,  as well as my husband, who also happens to be a great Dad to our two boys.  Sadly as I get older,  I know more and more people whose fathers have passed away.  Their memories remain, fond and untarnished and it is in this vein that I chose to review 4160 Tuesdays The Lion Cupboard.

The Lion Cupboard was created at the request of Sarah McCartney’s sister, who asked for a scent to replicate the smell of their father’s wooden cupboard with a carving of a lion on it.  This idea appealed to me since, bluntly, every dad has a smell.  My Dad smells of Imperial Leather and shortly after leaving home to go to university many moons ago, I caught a whiff of Imperial Leather and had a big pang for home, and my Dad in particular. I’ve never told him that.

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The Lion Cupboard is where Sarah McCartney’s Dad kept his hats and scarves and the smell of the cupboard is replicated in the scent.  It does indeed have a wonderful Dad sort of smell and makes all sorts of visual images pop into my head, which to me, is a characteristic of 4160 fragrances.

I’m not going to list the notes, I’m just going to tell you what I personally smell from this multi layered scent: Opening notes: Vetiver and dark Wood, (think antiques), then a slightly squashed After Eight Mint, followed by a very faint hit of menthol or camphor and a final long phase that doesn’t smell a million miles away from Tauer L’Air Du Desert Marocain. It smells comfortingly masculine, like a Dad’s jumper, but the woods and Vetiver make it very wearable.

This was such a wistful and celebratory scent that I simply had to choose it for Father’s Day. Anyone can be a father but it takes someone special to be a Dad.

In my imagination it goes something like this...
In my imagination it goes something like this…

Miller Harris Feuilles de Tabac: Smoke and Brasseries

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 I asked my seven year old son what he thought of Miller Harris Feuilles de Tabac. I didn’t prompt him, just told him to say the first thing that came into his head.  This is not always without risk and is usually about Star Wars, but in this case he said “Some sort of spice: it smells like hot sand”.  I was pretty impressed, although it’s usually L’Air Du Desert Marocain Imagethat makes me think of hot sand.

Giles Deacon, no slacker when it comes to good taste, is a big fan of Feuilles de Tabac and scents his home with it. Feuilles (pronounced “Foy”) means leaves or pages or layers. Feuilles de Tabac is marketed as a masculine, but I say knickers to that, being a fan of Old Spice and Dior Fahrenheit.

I have finally got around to reviewing this treasure because the hot weather just doesn’t do it justice.  In the cold air of Autumn, this can come out to play and hit the open road.

Feuilles de Tabac was created to “take you to the romantic brasseries of St Germain”, and if you’ve ever been lucky enough to go to Paris on a chilly day, you may recognise a fug of tobacco, spice and old books. Paris also smells of tarmac, body odour and garlic, but let’s not break the spell.

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taken on my last trip to Paris.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As usual with Miller Harris, quality and longevity are outstanding and Feuilles de Tabac gives a rich, leathery spice trail with sillage that is around arms’ length but would be very welcome in even a small space.

Top note is Chilli, and middle notes are Sage and Pine. Basenotes are Tobacco, Patchouli and Tonka bean.  Unlike other fragrances who claim to have notes that are not there, with Miller Harris, every note listed is very much discernible, despite being seamlessly blended.

The overall impression is one of green sharp herbs, Patchouli and deep aromatic smoke.  It’s more attractive than the other Miller Harris masculine La Fumee, which I found a bit dry. Masculine or feminine, this is fabulous for Autumn and I feel quite sorry that I only have a small phial of it.

I’ll leave the last words to a great Parisian, and one of my idols, now sadly in Pere Lachaise. Edith Piaf’s beautiful song, Autumn Leaves popped into my head whilst writing this review.

Since you went away, The days grow long, and soon I’ll hear old winter songs. But I miss you most of all my darling, when autumn leaves start to fall

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