Reviews by Bal a Versailles

    Showing 1 to 30 of 82.

    Le Jasmin by Annick Goutal

    I bought Le Jasmin and Grand Amour in small bottles recently. Trying Le Jasmin first I was underwhelmed, perhaps this Jasmin was not for me with its banana skin (intact) undercurrent and the gingerbeer on top. I left it until it began to fade and sprayed a couple of Grand Amour puffs on top. They combine beautifully; it's the way I'm using them, but for the purposes of this review I will try to convey my feelings about Le Jasmin solo. Feels natural, like scented tea; I feel calm wearing it. It suits me, I know, and yet I want…more. It really does fade too quickly, others have said it. It's a little tropical, but more like early morning sub tropical. It's been discontinued once and then revived, so perhaps it will be again. It's one of the prettiest skin scents you will find and when some benchmark jasmines are sick-making this is entirely suitable for an early morning bus ride. A jasmine for those who are very sensitive to fumes is not a bad thing. There, it's a homeopathic jasmine, a Rescue Remedy.

    17th November, 2014


    Nuit Etoilée by Annick Goutal

    I associate the mint with penny royal, crushed underfoot on a walk, releasing its fragrance momentarily. I was unprepared for the creamy Jaffa likeness to Elixir des Merveilles, or following on by association to Terre D'Hermes (JCE describes Eau de Merveilles as the sister scent to TDH)

    Now push those comments aside. The amber and Iris heart of Nuit Etoilee is what remains. If this is what camping under the stars is then I can only suggest that it's 'glamping' and the lackeys doing all the work don't smell at all like this! It's not overpowering even as an EDP. It lasts 4 hours with good sillage in the EDP but I want more of it, so I do keep it going all day. It's beautiful.....and different, and soft but refined. I don't find as much smoke in this as exists in Eau du Sud, which I am also fond of. A winner for sure.

    24th October, 2014


    Un Jardin Sur Le Toit by Hermès

    I come from a family of gardeners on my Mother's side, my Grandfather was a plantsman, a career gardener who learned his craft on a large estate in Ireland.
    Garden smells are my stock in trade- Baptista, the beautiful Lippia, Geranium mac; these probably found their way to Jardin sur le toit and influenced the perfume quartet that is the Jardin series. I recently purchased Eau Narcisse Bleu but it does not stir me in the way that La Mousson and Le Toit do. I am a gardener, not a will-o'-the wisp; what I find irresistible, some actually think has a 'compost' smell. (Big grin) I was reminded yesterday that air temperature and humidity play an enormous part in how we perceive perfume; I found a perfume that had not won any significant brownie points to be a whole lot better in warmer weather. (It was Annick Goutal's Le Muguet) Last year the soft suede of Kelly Caleche in EDT was all I wanted in a Vegas heatwave, it was gorgeous. JSLT may be the best spring perfume in Vermont and the worst in Florida, stunning in Hobart and ratshit in Brisbane. Unlike Eau Narcisse this Hermes offers a busy palette, and perhaps was the forerunner to Jour d'Hermes, where Jean Claude Ellena gave us a veritable bouquet and said 'Choose your own Adventure'

    21st October, 2014


    Eau de Narcisse Bleu by Hermès

    Ellena translates as ‘The Greek’ in English. Should Jean Claude aspire to being King of Hellena, by virtue of a Mediterranean ancestor, I would be a loyal subject.

    Greek Mythology fascinated my Father, a man whose further education was shattered by WWII during the bombing of London. He became an armchair academic instead and we listened to radio stories before the advent of television, the childrens’ bathed bodies in pyjamas, sitting on the hard bare-boarded floor that was barely covered by an old hessian rug. We ate toast and tomato, or crumpets and jam for supper, as tales of Pegasus, Cyclops, and Narcissus, cadenced by melliflous British voices, shapeshifted in our imaginations.

    Eau Narcisse Bleu,well, the clues are in the name.

    Narcissus, a young man blessed with unsurpassable beauty spurned male and female alike. He and his Mother, Liriope, gave their names to naturalising bulbs of great charm, the trumpet flowers of daffodils and earlicheer and the Grape Hyacinth.

    Using today’s parlance Narcissus was stalked by Echo, a single white female, who, under the spell of an angry Hera, could only repeat his uneasy call of ‘Who is There? She was therefore incapable of captivating Narcissus with scintillating conversation. She faded away, (anorexic probably) from unrequited love and only her echo remained in the glades of their sylvan abode.

    Narcissus came upon a glistening pond where the water reflected not only the azure sky but the plumage of birds on the wing and overhanging trees. He stooped at the waters edge and saw his one true love, a creature so perfect he fell in love, truly, madly deeply, with himself. Unable to tear himself away Narcissus pined away until his soul left his body. The search party found only a nodding daffodil growing at the edge of the pool.

    The perfume is a homage to Ovid's story in my opinion. The elements of sylvan glade, water, blue sky and the slight scent of Narcissus are present. Voila.

    To wear it successfully you will need garments without any laundry detergent scent residue left in them and unperfumed soap and body lotion for your toilette. It is quite fleeting and is easily drowned out. Edmond Roudnitska, at his doorway in Grasse, shouted at a very young Jean Claude Ellena to 'go home and not come back' until his (trademark) white shirt carried no smell of soap. Roudnitska set Ellena the discipline of an unperfumed life; to this day Ellena eschews fragrance on his person.

    Not being such a sensitive nose, I prefer my other JCE fragrances, Kelly Caleche, Apres La Mousson, Claire des Merveilles etc and my husband and son are devoted to Terre D'Hermes.

    16th October, 2014


    Narciso Rodriguez for Her by Narciso Rodriguez

    I was prompted to write a review of 'For Her' after smelling 'For Women' (white bottle) a few days ago.
    This is the one (FH) with good sillage and elusive musks, the EDP is peachier with definite stickability.
    The EDT is the equivalent of a Toyota Corolla, ubiquitous, rust free, user friendly with good economy. It lacks imagination but statistics show it benefits from repeat purchasers, and you can soup it up with the 'In colour' or 'Musc Intense' add-ons that men love, like a leather bound steering wheel or Recaro seats. That men love this is not in question, my husband loves the sillage hours after I have put it on.
    Let's face it, it's a must have, it's your favourite pair of jeans or possibly your favourite pair of knickers; you, but better, with Narciso at the leather bound steering wheel, cruising the Napa valley, tasting astringent wines that mellow with age, For Her in a Toyota Corolla.

    14th October, 2014


    Quel Amour! by Annick Goutal

    A soft whisper of rose is listed on the packaging blurb but it's much more than that, this is a variation on Ce Soir Ou Jamais, a less jammy version. I own both.
    Quel Amour opens with a fizzy sherbet lolly, which I hate. At this point I may as well be wearing any generic fruity floral.
    Thank goodness that dissipates quite quickly and the lovely tendrils of scent linger on. There's enough tartness to keep it interesting, a touch of incense as the dry down commences and average projection. The dry down is actually lovely and is rather ageless. I can see it equally on a younger or more mature (ahem, that's me) woman. It lingers on scarves in something of a Hermes style; I think that means a lot, it's sylish, there you have it. Conversely, this fragrance would be lovely, emanating off your skin on a warm summers day; you're wearing jeans and a tee and picking fruit and everything is kissable and edible. Oh, to be in love.

    23rd September, 2014


    Lalique Le Parfum by Lalique

    I have grown the evergreen pepper tree, 'Schinus molle', in my garden and have occasionally broken a glossy serrated leaf for the fragrance that released. It is exactly this smell that I detect for a short time in Le Parfum in concert with the Bay, 'Laurus nobilis'
    I enjoy this phase. The undertow, the heart of the perfume, is Shalimarish and is, in my opinion, the reason that Luca Turin despised Le Parfum. He dismissed Or des Indes in the same way, saying
    "MPG does Shalimar, buy Shalimar" Well, he could have just chanted "Copy cat, dirty rat, we can't have the Hoi Polloi imitating the sister of Guerlain's 'Mitsouko' when I just declared it the most world's most beautiful perfume" Oh, whatever, it's just a bit of fun.
    I purchased my 100 ml bottle for around $40 USD, postage paid; I am well pleased with Le Parfum, it's really very nice without being groundbreaking. For those whose Mother, Mother in law, may have staked their claim to Shalimar, this is one you can call your own. Peppered Shalimar? What else? Le Parfum-I thought it had a touch of Euphoria to it but perhaps that's because I know Dominique Ropion was involved with E and composed Le Parfum. The bottle is easy on the eye, it can sit alongside my bottle of Ivoire as a sort of Flamenco version. My cheap thrill, my tasselly Flamenco peppered Shalimar, now all I need is a fine glass of Syrah.

    09th September, 2014 (Last Edited: 13th September, 2014)


    Truth or Dare Naked by Madonna

    I didn't buy Truth or Dare original as Fracas and Songes meet my penchant for the tropics or anything sultry. I could have bought Original or Naked ifor the same giveaway price and I went with Naked. I should have stuck with the Origianal. Naked is very similar to Halle Berry's namesake perfume, a celebrity frag all the way. This has little to redeem it, has been discontinued, so no need to bag it further. But wait, little doesn't mean 'nuttin' It has got a nice amber dry down and that base does linger a bit.

    04th September, 2014


    Le Muguet by Annick Goutal

    Boiled cabbage to begin with. George Michaels sings "You gotta have faith, the faith, the faith" in my ear. Oh no, Vegetal, stultifying, in the way that Jean Claude Ellena was dumped on for Apres La Mousson; this is considerably more intense, I'm a fan of APLM, I don't mind it a bit brackish, I can wait for the dry down, but seven minutes goes by and I still don't feel it, and then it clears. Isabelle Doyene does this with more than one AG. Yes, theres Convallaria majalis, the lily of the valley, a rhizomatous perennial that will not grow in my Zone 9 garden, although I grew it successfully at 45 degrees South (we're talking Southern Hemisphere now) I couldn't find the rose the first time I wore it, shock maybe; it appeared the following wearing along with a powdery fixative smell that I associate with a cornstarch talcum worn by very elderly people. There's Narcissus at play here, I think. At the dry down it's lovely and it becomes ultra fresh, which is amazing considering the beginning but will you buy it? Fleur de Cristal by Lalique is a beautiful alternative, albeit a little synthetic, and nothing has knocked Diorrissimo off its perch. Is AG's LOTV sweet, as some have commented? I don't find Le Muguet at all sweet, better on skin than on clothes, so maybe don't spray garments.
    Spring approaches here. I find Cristalle EDP to be my perfect spring fragrance and this won't make me change

    27th August, 2014


    Courtesan by Worth

    I ponder at this fragrance, ponder some more and realise I am pondering its raison d’etre. Prompted by Victoria Frolova’s reaction to ‘Pineapple Compound’ in her perfumery training I question why it had to open with pineapple. I’ve been wearing Annick Goutal’s Musc Nomade in recent times, it being the epitome of sheer gauzy musk and so the transition to wearing Courtesan was not out on a limb; they are both ephemeral and arcane. At first I thought there was no fragrance at all; applied on freshly showered skin it simply disappeared like a wraith. I’m still not sure if the bottle I got (online discounter) was past its best.

    The next morning, still warm from sleep I sprayed it on some bare skin and went downstairs to make tea and toast. It transmogrified into a pineapple fruit salad and the dry down asserted itself, soft floral, a little like Eau Claire des Merveilles. (EDCM is far superior IMO) Now, this was a little more like it, the Isoamyl acetate (Juicy Fruit) was tamed and there were soft skin scents. These wispy tendrils that emanate from a woman’s thigh were called ‘Cuisse de Nymph’ ...sigh, petal soft, and the French named a rose such to titillate. The Victorian English couldn’t cope and called the rose ‘Maiden’s Blush’

    There are better roses, better accords, better musks and better pineapple. I don’t know why they bothered. I don’t know Courtesan’s ‘reason to be’ I would be grateful for other contributors input as to how this perfume should smell. It will nag at me, is my blind buy ‘off’?

    The perfume was named for Cora Pearl, a Courtesan, associated with the Worth family and its ‘Haute Couture’ The gorgeous creature looked like Viven Leigh if the pictures are anythng to go by.

    There is an experiment for Courtesan that I will leave you with. If, whilst wearing the perfume, you enjoyed a little lovemaking, might it bloom into a sex siren’s scent?.

    I won’t tell and I don’t expect you to either. Cora Pearl’s life was not a family show, but
    it could be its ‘reason to be’

    02nd August, 2014


    Fancy Nights by Jessica Simpson

    It all started with the Big Bang:
    Bang for your buck, yes, this is so cheap you fear the contents. But that's not all, this is the 'Big Bang' fragrance. According to the theme song 'fourteen billion years ago expansion started' And now I know why, clearly Jessica Simpson employed Steve DeMarcado to create Fancy Nights. It's huge, like Giorgio Beverley Hills it starts expanding and enveloping, comets start flying, the air is dense and it's hard to breathe. With a hundred dollars between them the only Patchouli that equals its intensity, in my experience, is in Mon Parfum Cheri EDP. Well, that dries down to uber elegance, this continues to split the atom and burn your nostril hair. I thought the Patchouli was strong in Purplelips Sensual (Dali) It's like Alien on steroids. Riding instructions: Spray the small of your back. If you still like it fifteen minutes later try it somewhere away from your collarbone. Wait five hundred million years for its half-life before you leave the house! The shrivelled old lady who follows your sillage down the street will be me, it's gorgeous from a distance.

    30th July, 2014


    Myrrhe Ardente by Annick Goutal

    I spent most of my childhood wondering what root beer or sarsparilla would taste like. Without it being a reference base I can appreciate the beauty of Myrrhe Ardente for what it is. Hickory stick for one. English toffee is another. Fifty five years ago My Father awaited his Xmas parcels from London. We got British smarties (essentially M&Ms) and he got a burnt toffee from post war Britian. Then there's Kauri gum, or beach amber which has this delicate resin smell. I collect beach amber on my walks and Myrrhe Ardente is like wearing a whiff of it. The gum is, after all, the resin from giant trees burnt down 2,500 years ago, Agathis Australis.

    It's gorgeous, unisex, wondrous and addictive, as someone else pointed out.

    Discontinued, so I will probably buy a small back up

    25th July, 2014


    Cristalle Eau de Parfum by Chanel

    The first review by Calchic is what I echo. I own Cristalle EDT, EL's Jasmine White Moss, Eau du Sud by Annick Goutal and others whose names don't spring to mind. My husband owns Eau Savage and wears it often. Along with Chanel 19 EDP, Cristalle is my favourite Chanel. If that means I am an 'austere bitch' or 'heartless' then buy me the badge. I feel the warmth of the sun, the green green grass of home and the explosion of scented spring bulbs in Cristalle. It's my happy place, the spring lambs are eating daisies and I curl a knowing smile; by autumn the lamb will be delicious.

    16th July, 2014


    Eau Claire des Merveilles by Hermès

    As happens so often I didn't warm to it at first. It warmed on me. If you are reading this you probably know of the original Eau des Merveilles, which I venture to suggest, was a commercial success. Sweet almond biscuits on a plaid beach blanket, calamine lotion, marram grass and slightly pithy orange segments. The nod to the parent perfume is there but there's a touch of 24 Fauborg in Eau Claire and it's Abercrombie and Fitch meets Fifth Avenue. You do have to be lavish with application to be rewarded with the floral beauty of Claire, which is a bit naughty considering the price tag, but the cleavage fumes are worth it. Claire will never cheapen your perfumed persona

    Do you ever have days when, having bought a full bottle of something that you wished and waited for, that instead, inexplicably, you turn to one with quiet charm? Mama said 'be careful what you wish for'

    25th June, 2014


    Amor Amor by Cacharel

    We of the never never, are Cacharel followers, I have friends who love and wear Anais Anais, my husband has been through several bottles of Amor Amor pour homme/ Tentation and I enjoy Noa for its gentle appeal when others seem 'too much' A personage no less than Christopher Sheldrake commented favourably on Amor Amor in a Basenotes piece with Grant Osbourne. Well that got my heart beating. CS could recommend arsenic and I'd be Madame Bovary. Amor Amor Absolu was my choice in favour of the original 'classic' (which by the way is Bois de Jasmin's favourite fruity floral) because I'm old, jaded and cynical, but I love pineapple with the enthusiasm of a child. When my husband wears 'Quasar' it appears like a cartoon thought balloon, above the head or to the side, entirely independent of the rest of the composition. Genius. People, you have two choices (disregard the flankers) Classic or Absolue. My choice was with Absolue because I am older but when Victoria Frolova and Chris Sheldrake are on the same page with the Classic, if I was young, I'd be buying it, Lady Cacharel has a nice ring to it.

    25th May, 2014


    Infusion d'Iris Eau de Parfum Absolue by Prada

    Rock solid performer from Prada, better than the original Infusion to my mind. There's something Chanelesque about the way it wafts and wends its way around you and the mistake would be to think you could wear it every day, where I fear you would become a little anosmic. I qualify that by saying that the longevity is not as durable as the original and as others have noted the carrot goes before the stick, the iris (carroty orris butter) fades quickly to the golden benzoin afterglow. It's quite a romantic little number though and the acid test is whether or not you reach for it when pushed for time. I confess that I do and I that I have a back up.
    I have bath salts in the original Infusion D'Iris and a new bath, one of those Victoria and Albert ones that I have waited to be a grand old age to own, after a lifetime of acrylic monstrosities I might add. Add Iris in all its forms to create the most luxurious bathing experience followed by Man style pyjamas, a dressing gown with a braid revere and softly scented breath on skin, Iris Absolu

    19th May, 2014 (Last Edited: 19th September, 2014)


    Azzaro Couture by Azzaro

    A further advance on Chandler Burr's complimentary review on the new Couture would be redundant and a little arrogant, it really hits the mark. Yes, I often bemoan the dearth of elegant perfume releases in a plethora of saccharine concoctions. Saccharine is artificial sugar, a chemical aping of cane sugar just as the sweet monstrosities of the perfume world dull and dumb us down with the olfactory equivalent of high blood sugar. When I heard that Prada had produced 'Candy' there was a sharp intake of breath and a very long measured sigh. Small voices say 'Learn to accept the things you can't change and be grateful for small mercies,' then came Nicky Minage. Candy, all is forgiven.
    I had never heard of Couture, not even the older version but the new one caught my eye at a ridiculous price on a daily special. Mentally I was rockin' Austin Powers as I spied the bottle. I really liked it, in the way I liked Thunderbirds (FAB) and the suspended polycarbonate white sound shell chair of the sixties. I found a few references, Chandler's being one of them and gave it a go. I'm so pleased I did. I can believe that this perfume contains five absolutes, which is to say, I want to believe it because I like it, If you took to 'Enjoy, Bill Blass (new) Fleur de Cristal, Flora Nymphaea, Champs Elysee, Y (YSL) Belle en Rykiel etc then that's the general direction but they're not as good. Obviously regulations have taken their toll on these and Couture has been built from the ground up. It's a happy spring scent. a feminine scent (sorry guys, I can't see it on a man) It's compote sweet, not jammy sweet.(compote only has enough sugar to keep for a few days) and there is a sort of guava or feijoa blossom tang. I've worn it faithfully for days, enjoying the fruit tea aspect of the dry down. That's a smash hit at my place.

    The bottle has tiny crystals on the top, Austin Powers' fembots are grooving the scene. "Hey DaddyO, do I make you smell nice, baby? Oh Austin, behave....and retrieve my bottle of Couture from the fembots, I'm sure there's state secrets embedded in those little Swarovski crystals. Yes, I can see Liz Hurley as Vanessa wearing this, a top model with a comedic side, classy but fun.

    28th April, 2014 (Last Edited: 03rd May, 2014)


    Coco Noir by Chanel

    Without owning a sample I would like to second everything Mimi Gardenia writes in her review and say that this is simply gorgeous on my daughter. Just because it may not (or it may) suit me doesn't detract from its obvious appeal. The longevity and sillage are right up there. I may buy a bottle before fragrance restrictions dumb down this Lois Lane of a perfume. "All roads lead to Rome" my Mother is fond of saying but perhaps all roads lead to Chanel. Impressive.

    13th April, 2014


    Private Collection Jasmine White Moss by Estée Lauder

    My daughter's wedding loomed. 'What perfume will you wear" I asked. Her face turned inside out "It has to be something that nobody else is wearing, what do you have?" I had a little something that I thought might work, all thanks to a very sophisticated but supremely approachable SA at Nieman Marcus Alamoana Centre. Because it was her nuptial perfume of choice I handed my gorgeous sample to my daughter, who instantly fell in love with Tom Ford's Champaca Absolute. It met the criteria too. Aha! Not the subject of this review, you ask, what are you blithering on about? The bride is the star of the show, but what does the Mother of the Bride wear? What says 'I know enough about perfume to get this mix right' ? I racked my brains and decided that Cristalle could translate that mixture of joy and understated elegance, but hell, Cristalle wouldn't last past the first hour. Jasmin White Moss isn't a clone when compared wrist to wrist, but let's face it, the Queen is dead, Long live the Queen; Cristalle is barely supported by Chanel as all the marketing energy has gone into the Exclusifs and a certain Pitt stop. The wedding is next week. Thank you Aerin Lauder, thank you Estee, for this perfume's conception. I think there's a trace of 'Beautiful' in it, but perhaps I'm brainwashed. Whatever White Moss Mist is, I'm a believer and I love it. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

    01st April, 2014


    Chypre Mousse (new) by Oriza L. Legrand

    As a seasoned gardener I experienced a very realistic impression of the perfume notes; they were wild fennel, penny royal, asparagus fern and clary sage, but it is the mushroom that is dominant at the outset, the star of the show. It's drenched in a balsamic glaze and cooked in an earth pit, in my country that is a hangi. I imagine the dark caves of France where cheese and truffles are kept and think that Chypre Mousse should have its own vat, it's own region, similar to a wine appellation. Kafkaesque's review (on his/her blog) mentions a chrysanthemum note, a genteel way of identifying the dung note, for it is surely there, just as it is in Tom Ford's Urban Musk, I kid you not.
    What is disconcerting to me is that I cannot get past the Lifebuoy soap. (apparently it's violet, but not as we know it) It's as if the thoroughly composted leaf mould, dark and friable, met the truffly mushroom goodness and went, by mistake, into the soap vat instead of the oak barrels reserved for the best Syrah. So, I can't live with the Protex (soap) loitering around the edges of the oak forest where the mycelia of Chypre Mousse call to the distant trampling of the pigs. At full dry down the perfume is full bodied and voluptuous. It's not for me, but a perfume highlight all the same. Unbelievably different and memorable, a wonderful experience.

    My sample of Chypre Mousse came in the sample pack efficiently desptached from France to the bottom of the world in a package with a faultlessly handwritten address.

    18th February, 2014


    Iris by Yardley

    I have the body spray and the EDT, the talcum would be nice too. I'm not much of a layerer but I feel an urge to go the whole hog, so to speak. I bought Y Iris because the word from Perfume Shrine said "if you like Hiris type Iris, run,don't walk, to the nearest Yardley outlet" It was a good steer; it's very wearable, a new classic. I love that it isn't sweet and the woody light musk is perfect for a long walk with the pooch; it wafts up pleasantly as I get a glow on and I feel quite refined (even though photographic evidence would disabuse one of that notion) It's inexpensive, not cheap; it's inoffensive, understated, a little different and memorable. I find myself reaching for it and using it liberally. Sometimes I put a puff of Pierre de Lune on top and they play nicely together. IMHO this is the best of the Yardley solliflores. I am won over.

    09th December, 2013


    No. 5 by Chanel

    Daisy a Day

    She was Hannah, born into relative poverty, in 1888. Her eleventh child, my Mother, was born in 1927. No 5 Chanel, the perfume, was six years old. Hannah was approaching forty, a time when levels of the fatty acid, palmitoleic, rise sharply in our systems. By the time a human body reaches seventy the amount of palmitoleic acid in our systems is tenfold that of a thirty year old. The mechanisms of ‘Old People Smell’ were discovered by Shoji Nakamura, of Shiseido Laboratories, in 1999.

    I doubt that Hannah ever held a bottle of Chanel in her hands, although she would have seen it displayed in shops before her death in 1964. My Mother cries when she hears ‘A Daisy a Day’ on the radio, grieving for the parents she said goodbye to in 1946 and never saw again. The massive diaspora to the new countries, Canada, Australia and New Zealand had begun. I don’t need to issue forth with the history of aldehydic overdose or what Coco said about her perfume being the fragrance of a woman. Other reviews have said it all. I believe it is still the No 1 selling perfume in France and Europe. In my country, however, it has lost its way and has been replaced by Coco Mademoiselle.
    No 5 is so unpopular and so obscure I bought a bottle, my first since the seventies.

    When I lift the stopper to my skin I thank the Heavens for a classical education that was State funded, for the medical care received free of charge, for green grass and beaches that scallop up our coasts. Nostalgia rains on my heart for those who went before, for those who couldn’t afford what we take for granted. This is what No 5 means to me, rain, and tears of joy…. And as for the ignorant gits who despise Chanel No 5, wrinkle their toffee nosed honks and say 'it smells like old ladies'... get this; it is not the perfume that smells like an old person, it is our biological fate. Yes, it will happen to you.

    Pros: Inevitable part of a Perfume Education
    Cons: Costly, staid"

    24th October, 2013


    Passion by Annick Goutal

    Marrakech Express

    You're about to take a trip without leaving the farm.
    It begins at the farm where Grandpa is burning a pile of hoary leaves that didn't make the compost. They're comfrey and borage, sorrel and thistle, and the herbal smoke assaults your nose followed by the taste of bitter lettuce swirling in your palette. It blends strangely with your perfume, First by Van Cleef and Arpels. A worse combination would be hard to find.
    At this stage it's, quite frankly, unpleasant. The floral joss sticks mentioned by other reviews are there in abundance, wafting the attar of the funeral pyre.

    Whoosh! It's gone, you've dropped into the sultry air of the tropics, transported by a Matrix. Now you're engulfed by climbers, Mandevillea and Port St John creeper, the air treacle thick in the tropic of Capricorn. They exert their pressure on the jasmine as vines do on trellis work, insidiously twining. Passion is a boa constrictor.

    The dry down is beautiful, and it needed to be after the previous two hours. Is it worth the struggle?
    You must decide. Forewarned is forearmed.

    Pros: Stick shift is always fun to drive
    Cons: A challenge at the outset"

    12th October, 2013


    Ce Soir Ou Jamais by Annick Goutal

    A Portrait of a Marriage

    If Vita Sackville West had harnessed her knowledge of flowers and writing to a penchant for perfume what reviews would have graced The Observer? Imagine Sissinghurst Castle as an English Givaudan.
    Vita would have loved Ce Soir ou Jamais. It defined her life. "Tonight or Never" she told her lover, Violet Trefusis. They left their respective husbands and fled to Amiens, where their husbands, having flown in on a two seater plane, intercepted their plans. It was 1920. Absolute scandal ensued.
    Her garden was overblown with roses; she reported herself ‘Drunk with Roses.’ What rose perfume would Vita have loved? Her son wrote a book and called it ‘A Portrait of a Marriage’ Would Vita have loved Portrait of a Lady? Yes, I think she would have. She loved Souvenir du Docteur Jamain, deepest darkest blooms of Damask, prone to blight.....Yves St Laurent's 'Paris'?...Without doubt. Perfumer’s Workshop Tea Rose? Yes, she would have worn that in the garden and kept Ce Soir for the twilight. Would Sa Majeste from Serge Lutens have found its way into her tower. Yes, she would have worn it during the winter at pruning and burning time. Ce Soir ou Jamais is nothing but a thick jammy rose but it’s not what you’ve got, it’s how you use it.

    Pros: Seminal work of Annick Goutal
    Cons: Drunk with Roses"

    10th October, 2013


    Aimez-Moi by Caron

    Moi, Moi, Moi

    Firstly, I love what Vintage Red said about Aimez Moi being old fashioned without being 'old lady'

    Aimez Moi, originally composed by Dominque Ropion, reintroduced herself at the reformulation of his creation. Love me, it begged, and it seems he was the perfect gentleman. According to Bois de Jasmin and Perfume Shrine this is as close to the same perfume as it is possible to be, allowing for the new regulations.

    It opens in a similar way to Cashmere Mist by Donna Karan, but of course CMist does not contain anise. The second stage is reminiscent of Yardley Iris, still a bit sharp even as it warms. The full bloom develops and this is where the perfume defines itself in a very beguiling way. It is anything but linear with accents of violet and fern, a poor man's L'Ondee perhaps. Aimez Moi is a friendly, competent companion, suitable for travel or work. I imagine wearing it in a vineyard, there’s something that makes me think of the gooseberry shudder of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. I think I like it better than Lolita Lempicka as it sits knife edge between bitter and bittersweet. I am fond of those violet pastilles that Moi conjures up in the minds of other reviewers and I love anise. I bought the 40 ml tube. (doesn't excite) If you like gourmands and Angel derivatives stick to LL or the sumptuous In Black by Jesus del Pozo. Getting back to Moi, the drydown is accomplished as one would expect of a Caron, but in all honesty my favourite reformulation of this year is Balmain's Ivoire. I woud buy Ivoire again based on juice, bottle, and price. Whilst Ivoire has been reinterpreted with some added sweetness, think Elie Saab, Aimez Moi still carries a tang that might be a hard sell to a younger audience raised on Banana Parfait.
    Let me take this opportunity to recommend Victoria Frolova’s assessment of the House of Caron both prior to and post reformulations.
    Only five of the female fragrances survive in good standing. Aimez Moi is one, then Farnesiana, Narcisse Noir, Parum Sacre and Nuit de Noel. It’s a must read.

    Pros: Elegant and understated
    Cons: A stiletto in the dark, a bit cold"

    09th October, 2013


    Eau de Shalimar by Guerlain

    Shalimar Cake (with recipe)

    "Let them eat cake" The utterance is attributed to Marie Antoinette upon hearing that the peasants were rioting due to the scarcity of bread. Let's attribute it, equally falsely, to Jean Paul Guerlain. Boil a lb of sultanas for five minutes, strain off water and allow half a pound of chopped butter and three quarter pound of sugar to melt in the hot fruit. Let it cool to tepid. Add 1 tsp each of almond essence, your best Madagascar vanilla essence and lemon essence and a pinch of salt. Breathe in the perfume of Eau de Shalimar. Yes, it's the batter. Add three well beaten large eggs together with three quarter lb of standard flour and a tsp of Baking Powder. Lift your perfume bottle high in the air and spritz it three times.( assuming there are no babies present) Bake in two loaf tins or one large extendable one in a moderate oven for 1 and a half hours. When cold serve with Earl Grey tea in an elegant salon similar to the one I saw Jean Paul interviewed in when the BBC screened their Perfume Series. You and the cake will be as one, better than sex, better than perfume.

    Pros: Let us eat Cake
    Cons: Legere, where art thou?"

    27th August, 2013


    Lolita Lempicka by Lolita Lempicka

    Aniseed Balls

    They take the seed of the rapeseed plant and coat it layer by layer in aniseed flavoured candy, finishing with a dark brown coating of gobstopper lustre. This was one of the most common sweets of my childhood and probably explains why I associate the herbal influence of LL with the seed and the sweetness of the concoction with layers of aniseed balls.

    Cadbury's Milk Chocolate is wrapped in a glossy overwrap of thickly coated 'Cadbury's' Purple (Pantone 2685C) over a tightly stretched foil layer. There's a fragrance when the packet is opened that is only vaguely chocolate because it's heavily masked by the covering, the indigo smell of purple and the zinc of the foil. This is the second element of LL to my nose.

    I don't know if I consider Lolita Lempicka a fragrance because sometimes I smell Christmas Ham.

    The bottle could indeed double as a Christmas tree decoration and if it was musical it would sing 'When you wish upon a Star'

    Gourmand anyone?

    Pros: Easily unisex, quirky, Clever
    Cons: Unwanted Christmas Gift?"

    25th August, 2013


    Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile by Acqua di Parma

    You're So Vain

    I wore this for a couple of wrist sniffing days, but somehow I couldn't commit to it. 'Not to sniffed at' the perfume responded by intensifying on my skin and proclaiming its lineage. Being a terrible inverted snob I was not swayed. It was too rich, too 'moneyed', too Portofino. It isn't 'Fresh' It's so utterly accomplished I recoiled.

    Le Labo Iris 39 is my ultimate Iris based perfume for the forseeable future, see Darvant's reviews

    Pros: Like walking onto a yacht
    Cons: Lacks freshness. Feels surreal "

    17th August, 2013


    Ivoire (new) by Pierre Balmain


    The reinvented Ivoire deserves to have its praises sung. An Aston Martin is still an Aston Martin whether Sean Connery or Daniel Craig is behind the wheel. I’ve taken Ivoire for a spin and she’s still a classy number. For those who don’t know the original, the best comparison, to my nose, of the new incarnation, is Noa by Cacharel. Ivoire’s new bottle will stimulate style comparisons with Chanel 19 Poudre and Elie Saab’s creation by Francis Kurkdjian. The success of Ivoire will be due to Michel Almairac’s interpretation which retains the integrity of the original. Top marks for my favourite perfumer (in collaboration with Jacques Fiori) It's also an amazing price!

    I was raised in an urban environment but I wouldn’t be a Kiwi if I didn’t know the scent of wool, rich in lanolin, off the sheeps back. Lux Soap. Sink a lightweight merino sweater into a gentle woolwash and the heavenly scent of clean and natural rises with the ribbons of steam. The temperature has to be just right. This is Ivoire, delicate but strong, simple but elegant. She’s homespun but electric with curiosity. This would be quite virginal on a man. It’s possible that Ivoire and a spray of Molecule 01 could raise the birth rate. I’ll pass the baton.

    Pros: Knowing my fate is to be with you
    Cons: Can't bring myself to find fault"

    08th August, 2013


    Philosykos by Diptyque

    Salad days

    In New Zealand the Brown Turkey fig is commonplace. They are more cold tolerant than the Black Mission figs which produce sweeter fruits. We lived, for five years, in Nelson, one of two major fruit bowls for the country. Figs grow well in Nelson as it has the highest sunshine hours and low rainfall. There were several growing on the boundary where we lived.

    I found Philosykos disappointing in every regard, all the more because (on my travels) I loped around the niche shops like a panting golden labrador looking for friends; and I found one at Diptyque. She gave me treats, which I am now reviewing, unfavourably. Talk about bite the hand that feeds you!

    BTW I love 34 Boulevard St Germain. Yummy

    Pros: A Yummy Hit
    Cons: Fleeting"

    25th July, 2013

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Loving perfume on the Internet since 2000