* Prices may differ from that shown
Expensive scents should smell expensive; they should stand out, do something different, dazzle us with their complex combinations and clever accords, after all you pay more you expect more. The real find, though, is an inexpensive scent that appears expensive.
When e-tailer cheapsmells.com recently emailed me about a promotion I couldn't resist taking a look at what they had for less than a tenner, and snapped up a 30 ml eau de parfum, Pierre Cardin Pour Femme for just £8.99 (and free postage).
While the outer packaging comes across as cheap and poor quality the bottle is much better. After peeling off the unnecessary cellophane outer wrapping there's a simple cardboard box, in metallic shades of bronze. This has a window showing the bottle inside. (The Ciao photo shows a larger size which does not have the window). The card is quite flimsy, not something I would keep very long.
As my bottle contains 30 ml it isn't very big; in fact it fits nicely in my hand and because of it's quirky design it's something that doesn't just feel good to hold, it actually makes you want to pick it up again and again.
The glass section looks like three layers one on top of the other but slightly twisted, a bit like when you start to turn the layers of a Rubik's cube. It's simple but stylish, more so than the brushed metal effect lid which would not seem so wrong if it physically felt less cheap.
Pierre Cardin Pour Femme is described as a 'fruity floral'. It's no longer listed among the scents on the Pierre Cardin website and there are variations in the notes listed on different retailers and perfume specialist websites. However, the following are a pretty good summary:
Top notes: orange, blackcurrant, cinnamon and apple
Middle notes: violet, hawthorn, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley and rose
Base notes: sandalwood, nectarine, tonka bean, amber, patchouli, musk, vanilla, caramel, vetiver and cedar
The perfume opens with a lovely citrussy burst, not sharp but blended comfortably with fresh florals. I pick up something more like lemon, perhaps even bergamot, rather than the orange that is listed and owning a lot of zesty bergamot dominated perfumes I was pleased that this soon faded a little behind the florals. In the first few minutes this fragrance seems not to know where to go next. It jumps around from citrus to floral and then to slightly sweet and spicy with a definite aroma of coconut that is definitely not listed in any summaries I have seen. For a while it is similar too Avon's 'Tahitian Holiday', a favourite of mine so to be reminded of it was not a problem.
After about fifteen minutes Pierre Cardin Pour Femme has settled into a pleasant, modern floral that is light but distinctive and not at all cloying in spite of there being rose there, a note I find can sometimes seem overbearing and old fashioned. The jasmine is very distinctive and my favourite element of this perfume but I also love the occasional whiff of violet, another of my favourite florals.
For me the base notes come in rather too soon and the lovely floral elements fade too soon with only the jasmine hanging around. After an hour or so you're left with a slightly sweet and slightly spicy blend of cinnamon, vanilla and tonka bean against a warm sandalwood background. What I find really unusual and quite compelling is the pronounced green element as the scent develops, in complete contrast to the wood and spice, though the two work don't battle with each other. I can't claim to pick out vetiver or cedar in particular but I assume that's where the greenness is coming from.
Value for Money
This scent doesn't project very well which isn't an issue for me. I buy perfumes to please myself not others (though it's always nice when someone admires what I'm wearing) and scents like this that stay close to the skin are the ones I tend to wear for work.
While I'd prefer the middle phase to last a bit longer I love that the jasmine remains quite strong even when almost nothing else remains. If you like jasmine based scents then I think this one is unlikely to disappoint.
Overall longevity isn't bad, but as I've already stated, the phases I like best don't last long enough; however, as this is a relatively inexpensive perfume I don't begrudge a re-application after two hours or so, just to pick up those violet notes again.
Without a reapplication the scent lasts around five hours on my skin which is acceptable given the price, although I'd really expect more from an eau de parfum. I'm really happy with my purchase; Pierre Cardin Pour Femme has exceeded my expectations. It's a fresh and modern scent, perhaps better suited to daytime wear but one that is more complex than the price tag might suggest.
The promotion I enjoyed is no longer running but Pierre Cardin Pour Femme remains inexpensive.
cheapsmells.com - £10.95 for 30 ml, £13.95 for 50 ml (topcashback.co.uk is offering a cash-back rate of up to 6.82% at the time of writing, 15th August 2013)
directcosmetics.com - £13.49 for gift set of 50 ml edp and 150 ml body lotion