Tag Archives: Woody

Chanel Les Exclusifs 31 Rue Cambon: Missing That Je Ne Sais Quoi

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31 Rue Cambon  is named after Chanel’s four storey building, purchased by Gabrielle “CoCo” Chanel herself and which remains today, the site of Gabrielle’s apartment, and the main Paris branch of Chanel.

ImageImmediately, the stakes are high. Named after the Mothership? This better be good. And it is. But great? Not so much.

For one thing, I find this very subtle. My skin seems to swallow it up whole instantly. You may have more luck. Secondly, this strikes me as an odd sort of melange.  It’s definitely a chypre, and it has lovely woody notes, but then clean, citrussy bergamot shows up, along with my old nemesis, Miss Carrot herself- iris. I often have problems with iris, but not with her cousin violet. I find iris dry and cardboard like, with an earthy rooty scent. I don’t always dislike it, but I can often spot it very soon into a fragrance these days, like a fussy eater who can spot a pea in a Shepherd’s Pie (I do that too).

One very wise reviewer on Fragrantica says that Rue Cambon needs and lacks Oakmoss. I think he has a point. It is neither a chypre, nor woody, nor citrus, but somehow all three, without ending up as a green note scent. Frankly it baffled me, and didn’t stay around long enough for me to know it properly.

The jury’s out on Rue Cambon.  I must confess to not loving all of the Les Exclusifs range (I haven’t tried them all yet, to be fair). Whilst I would bite your arm off for a full bottle of Coromandel, I would feel far more “meh” about a full bottle of Rue Cambon. It’s not badly made,  of course, and I know it would smell wonderful on the right wrist or neck, but those wrists and neck do not belong me, regrettably.

In my beloved Wales there is a lovely Welshism which sums up Rue Cambon for me:

“And there it was, gone!”

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Givenchy Dahlia Noir L’Eau: the black dahlia lightens up

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I promised myself I would follow IScent’s philosophy this week and try new perfumes, so I went off to the department stores and scrounged a few samples. The ladies at the Dior and Givenchy counters were particularly helpful, so I’m starting with what I hoped would be the least offensive offering: Givenchy’s summer release, which will doubtless be available at a counter near you.

I have to confess that I have not tried the original Dahlia Noir, but I probably should. It is described on the Givenchy website as a ‘fatal flower’ – a fantasy of the fragrance the scentless dahlia might have. It is a modern woody floral, created by François Demachy, who has also created this new release for the summer season. Demachy has created fragrances for many of the LMVH brands, including Fendi, Acqua di Parma and Dior. LMVH is Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, a massive global group of luxury brands that covers fashion, leather goods, watches, jewellery, wines and spirits as well as perfume and cosmetics. Chaired by Bernard Arnault, this conglomerate controls an enormous swathe of the market – from Marc Jacobs and Givenchy to Bulgari and Benefit – as well as owning Sephora, the perfume and cosmetics retailer.

Givenchy Dahlia Noir L’Eau is described by Givenchy as “a femme fatale veiled in tenderness”, an elegant fresh floral with top notes of citron and neroli, a heart of rose petals and a base of musk and cedar wood. It is indeed a fresh and light floral, with sparkling citrus top notes sprinkled with a suggestion of orange blossom water. It warms to a slightly green but rounded woody heart and a pale musk base that lasts a surprisingly long time. It isn’t too radiant or expansive – you wouldn’t scare the horses or asphyxiate a lift full of people if you were wearing this – but I think it has enough sillage that you would be noticeably scented if you stood next to someone at a bar.

I like it and think it’s good. It’s well considered for the market, age-appropriate and to my great relief it’s not a frootichooli (have you figured out yet that they’re a pet hate of mine?). It also appears to be made with good quality materials – I know little or nothing about the chemicals used in perfumery, but I do know that there are some which I find repellent because of their radiant, patently artificial qualities, and they are often included in ‘watery-style’ fragrances. There aren’t any of those in here, thankfully. I think it says a lot that François Demachy has created the Escale series for Dior, as this reminds me a lot of Escale a Portofino. He obviously has a lot of expertise with kind of scent, because this is exceedingly well-balanced.

Dahlia Noir L’Eau is a perfect flirty summer perfume, actually. Snag a sample now and tuck it away to take on holiday – these tiny spray vials are ideal to drop into that infamous clear plastic ziplock bag.

Halston Catalyst: Either You Go or I Go.

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I bought Halston Catalyst blind. Attracted by its amazing floral notes, many of which are favourites, and tempted by its attractive price, what could possibly go wrong?

The notes listed which are among my favourites are: Gardenia, Hyacinth, Bergamot, Carnation and Lily of the Valley. Base notes include Musk, Amber and Sandalwood.

What I actually got was this little scenario:

Imagine you had a curry in the 1970s, decided you didn’t like it, so hid it in the drawer of an antique wooden dresser, then poured cheap Men’s Eau de Cologne over it to hide the smell. Then imagine you opened the drawer in 1993, (the year Catalyst was created) and decided “Mmm, that’s nice, I’ll call it Catalyst and sell it to ladies for money”.

When I tried this, I was convinced there was cumin in it, or spice, although neither of these are listed. I did get sandalwood, in spades, but that is the only note listed that I picked up on. There was not a whiff of so much as a flower petal. My beloved Bergamot wasn’t even in the same time zone, let alone in this bottle. The notes don’t seem to match the accords, which are listed as “Woody, Warm Spicy, Floral, Powdery, White Floral”.  I got Woody and Spicy, but I have no idea where the others went.

This is what I refer to as a Howler. Not only could I not wash it off fast enough, but it was listed on eBay within 24 hours of receiving it. As if to back me up, there are currently 51 of these babies listed for sale on eBay. I am not alone. You will be if you wear this.

All reviews are of course, subjective and by no means a final word. This might smell great on you. Let me know your worst ever “Howler”, I’d be interested to know.