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lillamarta

lillamarta
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      05.07.2013 15:55
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      A lovely interpretation of the fig tree and sea breeze

      Launched: 2003
      Group: Floral aquatic

      INTRODUCTION

      Un Jardin En Méditerranée (or Mediterranean Garden) is the second fragrance in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena created for Hermes which are fragrant eau de toilette fantasies inspired by gardens of the world.

      THE PACKAGING

      My 15ml purse spray comes in a tall and slim tranparent bottle and a white, plastic cap while the full-size editions are packaged in their chunky and heavy glass bottles they share across the Un Jardin line and many other Hermes Creations (Calèche, Parfum d'Hermes etc).

      THE FRAGRANCE

      Top notes: mandarin, bergamot, lemon

      Un Jardin en Mediterranee or UJeM for short starts out dark green and aromatic that's quickly lightened by an airy, mostly lemony citrusy and tea-like bergamot touch. Minutes later dry, salty note emerges creating a herbal but also fresh and moderately sweet aroma that has a rather unripe feel to it like that of an unopened floral bud: crisp and green but with a hint of depth and sweetness to come.

      Middle notes: orange blossom, nerium oleander

      Sure enough the mixture does bloom in about 10 - 15 minutes with fig arriving on the scene reminiscent of Womanity's top accord minus the cloying sweetness. The sweet, slightly salty, bitter and dark green lactonic aroma of a fig leaf when crushed (exactly the same as the aroma of the outer skin of a green fig fruit) is lovely and rounded. As time progresses, the fig facet gradually blends in with the drier, woodier elements and within an hour it's no longer a prominent aroma much to my disappointment.

      The composition is now oscillating between dry and woody (cedar), aromatic, powdery and peppery spicy (fig leaf) as well as lactonic and sweet (fig fruit) something that definitely calls Bvlgari's The Rouge to mind. The fresh, breezy citrus and woods add a cold air to the heart and whilst underneath the coolness, I can still detect a lactonic, fruity and powdery sweetness, it's now a bit distant and sort of lost in the other elements.

      Base notes: cypress, musk, pistachio, juniperberry, red cedar

      In merely two - three hours the fragrance burns down to a transparent skin scent revealing a standard 'Ellena' signature composed of clean, unisex skin musk and gentle, aromatic woods. An ever so faint hint of citrus hangs in there too which makes UJeM so recognisable as one belonging to the Un Jardin Series.

      CONCLUSION

      UJeM is the most unisex of the four Un Jardin fragrances and is quite complex for an eau de toilette without being heavy or all over the place. Thanks to the perfect blending of seemingly contrasting sweet - bitter - green - woody - milky facets it always stays airy and light and the touch of soft sweetness stops it from becoming harsh. I do not get any florals but for me this is not an issue, in summer green and aromatic fragrances work better in the heat. UJeM's poor staying-power is by far my biggest beef. The total longevity of the fragrance clocks in at about 4 - 5 hours which is on par with the other siblings in the range however frequent reapplications make the fragrance costly.

      To sum up, UJeM is a harmonious, well-blended and high-quality aromatic green - fruity - woody fragrance I highly recommend for both sexes if you like your summer juices green and aromatic, laid-back and natural yet sophisticated and unique.

      PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

      I recommend shopping around online (eBay, Amazon or perfume discounters) for a deal at around £46.65 / 50ml EDT and £67.10 / 100ml EDT. I got my 15ml spray for approx. £15 on ebay including postage from a private seller.

      ©powered by lillybee posted on both dooyoo.co.uk and ciao.co.uk websites

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        26.06.2013 23:38
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        Beautiful, fresh, aromatic and grassy rose from the Un Jardin series

        Launched: 2011
        Group: Aromatic fruity

        INTRODUCTION

        Un Jardin Sur le Toit (A Garden on the Roof) is the last edition of fragrant compositions inspired by the gardens of the world and composed by in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena for Hermes. I'm now a happy owner of all four of these fragrances which come in a 15ml travel spray format as well as my very first full-sized bottle of Un Jardin Sur le Nil. The Roof Garden referenced in the name can be actually found on the top of Hermès' headquarters building located at 24, rue Faubourg in Paris.

        THE PACKAGING

        The 15ml spray comes in a sleek, tall bottle with a metallic lid as opposed to the chunky, heavy tinted glass bottle of the larger sizes. The packaging is the same for all sizes and this time it bears the drawing of the roof garden and the surrounding buildings in simple, yet elegant green and black colours on a white background.

        THE FRAGRANCE

        Fragrance notes: grass, apple, pear, rose, magnolia, rosemary

        Un Jardin Sur le Toit, or UJSLT for short opens up with juicy, sweet and fresh grass note that's green and breezy and mixes quickly with tart, crunchy apple and pear that's lively, vibrant and invigorating, very very far from the usual, one-dimensional citrus openings. Soon rose seeps in and blends in with the greeness and softens it up a little bit. The fragrance still retains a a sort of grassy sweetness probably because of the presence of pleasantly crunchy fruits which are either too acidic or cloying but just perfectly balanced to my nose. The rose, however natural, is a little bit sharp and oily at the beginning compared to the fruits that actually feel crisp and fresh. To sum up, the accord is a lovely, sunny and effervescent kaleidoscope where the ingredients sort of bounce around in a lively manner.

        As the fragrance settles, the heart focuses more and more on the transparent rose twisted with an earthy and spicy note from Apres La Mousson (cardamom?) rendering the juicy, green, fruity and multifaceted rose just a little bit spicier and alluring. The light and fresh nature of the eau de toilette is still there it just got a bit warmer and deeper. This is the phase I love the most and this is where people comment most and I can see why. The breezy, spicy green floral mixture is unusual and beautifully made and virtually titillates the senses. It only stays on for about four hours and projects moderately but it's a wonderful delight to wear and smell.

        From about five hours on, the base which stays close to the skin with a discreet and sort of earthy scent and a pinch of citrusy - salty skin note is strongly reminiscent of the other bases in the Jardin series. The projection has mostly gone except on clothing and on hair, where I could still get whiffs of the wonderful green rosy heart whenever a breeze passed by. The rose has become quiet - not that it was ever very obviously rosy, it's kind of like a breezy rose that appears in and out of sight - as the aromatic, clean and lightly woody - musky lingering aroma lets the rose shine through occasionally until it finally disappears in about eight hours.

        CONCLUSION

        UJSLT is a uniquely fresh, aromatic and floral scent that's rapidly becoming my favourite of the four Jardin compositions. Whilst it shares some DNA with all three of its siblings such as the fresh-citrusy fingerprint which definitely comes from the top accords of Un Jardin sur le Nil, the same touch of spicy warmth that can be detected in Après La Mousson and the greener, herbal nature of En Mediterranée, UJSLT isn't just a pick and mix of these former creations but feels like a culmination of the first three fragrances. With added fresh, green and sweet rose, UJSLT has it's own personality and blended with other influences the rose is actually made more versatile. Being sweet, fresh and green with a touch of aromatic spice, UJSLT is a great example of Ellena's fine artistic work. By mixing up genres he has the capacity to create something light, enchanting that's seemingly simple yet complex and multi-faceted with such effortless ease.

        Far from the dictates of obnoxious masses of sharp colognes and in your face, cloying fruity florals, UJSLT is more like an impressionist painting or watercolour that takes you on an olfactory journey into the perfumer's fragrant fantasy. Ellena applies a minimalist approach using only a few but very high quality raw materials in extremely low proportions to paint his olfactory pictures. On a personal note, the fragrance has gained me many compliments in the first few hours of wear as it projects well and it is a lively, vibrant and light but tenacious fruity - grassy - floral cocktail before it settles. Lovely to be worn outdoors, at a picnic and even in hot weather, UJSLT is probably more suited to ladies as it's largely feminine and delicate. If you're into fresh, fruity and aromatic woody and musky roses and don't mind the staying power and sillage issues, I absolutely recommend UJSLT, a fragrance that for me has redefined the standard of how summer niche fragrances should be done.

        PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

        The prices in stores and online do not vary a lot being UJSLT a relatively recent release. The price for the 30ml, 50ml and 100ml range from £37.79, £43.90 to £70.50 respectively. I paid around £13 for my 15ml travel edition on Ebay including postage.

        ©powered by lillybee posted on both dooyoo.co.uk and ciao.co.uk websites

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          21.06.2013 16:04
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          A disappointingly linear and sour rose from Serge Lutens

          Launched: 2000
          Group: Floral Green

          INTRODUCTION

          I own and wear some of Serge Lutens' sweet, sumptuous and unusual oriental compositions such as Chergui, Rousse or Jeux de Peau and have recently added some of his other compositions of the floral genre to my collection including a 5ml miniature version of Sa Majesté La Rose Eau de Parfum.

          THE PACKAGING

          The tall and clear bottle used across all 50m bottles of the Serge Lutens line is simple and elegant as well as the demure beige packaging. The colour of the juice can vary from perfume to perfume and is an oddly bright yellow this time which doesn't really match the fragrance in my opinion.

          THE FRAGRANCE

          Top notes: Moroccan rose absolute, blue chamomile, litchi

          Rose is the first note the fragrance offers however it isn't a sweet, juicy kind of rose one would expect from an absolute, but a sort of aquatic, green, woody and natural whole rose one, cut from the plant and sat in water. The opening which projects strongly in the first hour or so is quite sharp, bitter, lemony and almost unsweetened, strongly reminiscent of Tea Rose from the Perfumer's Workshop.
          Heart notes: honey, clove, geranium

          Whilst the opening clearly lacked the delicate, fresh and sweet aroma I associate with roses, as the fragrance settles, it becomes even drier and sharper, sort of like an old rose, that's been left wilting in the vase and has gone musky, bitter and watery. By now all the hardly ever present sweetness and juiciness gone, the composition turns bizarrely transparent and clean with a mossy edge to it.
          There's almost no sweetness to the rose at this point however it definitely has an aged edge to it I'm finding hard to place.The softer, fresh and green-tinted rose stays very much in the background and blends in with a more assertive, powdery and almost masculine accord that sort of wraps itself around the fragile rose and stops it from being expressed.

          Base notes: musk, vanilla absolute, guaiac wood

          From about four hours onwards, Sa Majeste wears close to the skin and becomes a linear and dried old rose on me largely dominated by a certain sharpness like that of lily-of-the-valley soap. Again, I'm looking for even a hint of sweetness in vain and mainly getting a clean, somewhat soapy-smelling white musk with a hint of powder and moss similarly to a vintage base of chypre florals, only flatter and with less depth. For me the drydown is distant and cold and it is also increasingly sour on me so I enjoy it less and less towards the end when it finally disappears after about six hours of wear.

          CONCLUSION

          For a rose, I expected something a lot more feminine and rosy. With a name like this, Her Majesty the Rose should be something dramatic, sumptuous and diva-like or at least 'just' nice.

          As the fragrance focuses on the sharp, lemony and crisp aspect of a green rosebud with supporting notes of woods and quantities of barbershop-clean musk, it could be pulled off by a guy easily but certainly not made for a diva.The similarities to Perfumer's Workshop's Tea Rose fragrance created in 1978 and which can be bought for about 10 dollars are undeniable. That's not to say Sa Majesté smells cheap because it isn't and nor does Tea Rose, but I expected Sa Majeste not to be so obviously connected to it. By the way I find Tea Rose better, as it's truly a natural rose plant, rosier and at the same time woodier, more natural and comforting and most of all affordable.

          Due to its light and airy feel, the fragrance could work in spring or summer as it's completely inoffensive and let's be honest, banal due to its soapy, almost masculine edge. If I wanted a fresh, musky rose, I'd never go for this fragrance, its lack of complexity and depth leave a lot to be desired. Fragrance is very much a thing of skin chemistry and personal perception however the predominantly linear, clean and sour rose - musk combination I'm getting certainly does not make me recommend it for rose lovers as I think the fragrance does not at all do justice to rose, this wonderful and highly-prized natural ingredient in perfumes.

          I'm sorry to say that given the notes and name I expected something really good, outstanding and beautiful, and even if not my type, I do and can appreciate what is well-done and beautiful. Unfortunately, Sa Majesté La Rose presents a facet of rose that is nothing like the delicate but strong aroma of a bouquet of freshly cut roses or even rose absolute for that matter. Rose is pretty much hidden from view and buried within all the other ingredients especially the musk my skin seems to amplify and ruins the rose for me. If you want a slightly bitter, plain, whole rose with a little bit of woods and moss thrown in, Sa Majesté could work for you. Alternatively, for a similar but better rose experience, try Tea Rose for a fraction of the cost.

          PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

          The lowest price online is at FragranceNet (£54.54), the RRP is around the £69 mark. Sold in department stores and some perfume concessions.

          ©powered by lillybee posted on both dooyoo.co.uk and ciao.co.uk websites

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            07.06.2013 14:22
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            Beautiful, fresh, creamy and spicy jasmine blossoms let down by lack of fixation and staying power

            Launched: 2001
            Group: Oriental Floral

            INTRODUCTION

            I'm a fan of niche perfumer Serge Lutens' creations and have already reviewed a handful of his beautiful unisex orientals I own (Chergui, Arabie, Ambre Sultan, Un Bois Vanille, Feminité du Bois). To enlargen my knowledge of the house, I have recently started collecting its floral fragrances aimed at the female market (see Datura Noir). After using up my a 1.2 ml sample, I decided to buy a miniature of it for further testing.

            THE PACKAGING

            All 50ml Serge Lutens creations come in a tall and transparent bottle and beige packaging that to me is the ultimate expression of simplicity, class and demure elegance.

            THE FRAGRANCE

            Fragrance notes: honey, Indian and Egyptian jasmine, grenadine, benzoin, musk, green notes, clove
            Have you ever buried your face in a basket of jasmine petals picked in the morning on the slopes of Grasse in August? Or have your clothes ever brushed against a jasmine bush when you've walked past it after nightfall? These are the memories that sprang to mind immediately after I sprayed the fragrance on. A la Nuit (which translates as At Night) starts out slightly green, fresh and surprsingly airy but also creamy and nectar-like, just like the scent of true jasmine. It is also sweet, rich, intoxicating and sensual.

            As the fragrance warms up in the course of a few minutes, its underlying spicy aspect becomes more and more apparent, common to white flowers with a dark, indolic core. The presence of eugenol reminiscent of carnation anchors the volatile top which now has a sort of thickness and a lovely depth to it that may even become slightly overpowering, especially in confined spaces. When I inhale close, I can sense a sort of sharp, animalic presence, possibly the honey. reminiscent of warm human skin which mixed with the floral accord gives the impression of the scent of jasmine rubbed on warm skin, sensual and slightly musky. A la Nuit's creamy, spicy but ultimately clean and modern white floral accord lasts well in the first 3 - 4 hours and leaves a moderate to intimate sillage around me. To sum up, a dreamy delight and oh so feminine to wear.

            Unfortunately, this delightful phase will only last a few hours before the scent dries down considerably on the skin before the final phase makes its appearance. What I'm getting actually surprised me: instead of a creamy, woody base I was expecting from the benzoin (part of the compositon of amber in perfumes) I got none of it. Instead I'm getting soap. Expensive, high-end, natural-smelling jasmine soap, but soap that's sharp, watery with a definite clean, musky edge. It's a bit of a disappointment from an oriental floral I expected a creamier, woodier base that has possibly already evaporated in the middle phase. The overall lifespan was a mere 6 - 7 hours and that's with a really generous initial application.

            CONCLUSION

            A la Nuit could work perfectly as a daytime fragrance in spring or summertime if you like rich and creamy white floral / jasmine soliflores however personally I don't find a tad thin and linear for an oriental floral fragrance. Without the noticeable presence of fixatives typically found in oriental florals, the fragrance evaporates far too quickly even in colder weather and becomes a close skin scent approximately four hours onwards.

            I appreciate Serge Lutens' craftsmanship showcasing three facets of the jasmine scent: the lovely, fresh, true jasmine followed by a skin-warm, sensuous one which ends in clean, musky jasmine soap, however I find that the other ingredients go fairly undetected and are unable to add a necessary edge to this extremely smooth and almost too well-blended composition.

            Unfortunately, this beautifully crafted and very-well blended true jasmine comes with short staying power and a thin base - which is apparently common to Serge Lutens' feminine compositions - causing a problem of longevity and linearity (I used up my sample in one go!), so for the high price it's sold at, it's only three stars from me.

            PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

            Currently available for £69 / 50ml in major department stores throughout the UK or around the £8 mark / 5ml miniature on eBay usually as a decant.

            ©powered by lillybee posted on both dooyoo.co.uk and ciao.co.uk websites

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              30.05.2013 22:01
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              A weak, coconut-laced and clean tuberose Serge Lutens style

              Launched: 2001
              Group: Oriental vanilla

              INTRODUCTION

              I have a soft spot for niche perfumer, Serge Lutens and I'm happy to enlargen my collection with any of its offerings if I find it affordable enough on eBay. I recently won a half-full bottle of Datura Noir and was looking forward to wearing this suggestively dangerous and intoxicating white floral so talked about on perfumista forums.

              THE PACKAGING

              The sleek, fine bottle and the iridescent brown stopper design are shared across all 50ml Serge Lutens perfumes which I find elegant, simple and refined. With some exceptions, the outer box is a classic beige colour surrounded by a thin black edge.

              THE FRAGRANCE

              Fragance notes: coconut, tuberose, tonka bean, lemon blossom, almond, mandarin orange, musk, osmanthus, heliotrope, myrrh, vanilla, peach

              Datura Noir opens up slightly bitter and green similar to unopened jasmine or hyacinth but quickly rounds out to a clean and powdery white floral aroma with a somewhat medicinal edge that immediately reminded me of the tropics and its vegetation. The sweetness is subdued as well as the projection and the accord is already quite close to the skin and does not diffuse in the air most perfumes do when sprayed.

              In the next hour, the white floral aroma of the fragrance progressively turns creamier and balmier due to the buttery and almondy facets it develop together with a certain bitterness that meanders along with the laundry-detergent, powdery musk. I'm increasingly getting the impression I'm wearing Monoi oil, which is Tiare flower (tropical gardenia) infused in coconut oil. The coconut gives a certain warmth and creaminess to the composition akin to suntan lotion without being too obvious.

              From about three hours onwards, a plush, soft, powdery and clean vanilla note blends in with the heart evening out the remaining edges or bitterness the florals retained. I found this a shame as if Datura Noir had lost that little bit of personality it had earlier. What stays is a well-tempered, smooth, and very low profile slightly bitter creamy vanilla aroma with a hint of suntan lotion close to the skin in the final few hours.

              CONCLUSION

              All in all, Datura Noir is something entirely different I expected and is sadly lacking the richness, opulence of natural tuberose and if I wanted to be mean, I'd say I've seen better in a suntan lotion. The fragrance is beautiful, soft and enchanting, there's no question about it, but it just doesn't live up to its name, a plant which along wth classic "witches' weeds" such as deadly nightshade and henbane, is just as hallucinogenec and poisonous.

              I had the chance to smell the datura plant during my trip on Reunion Island, and the heavy, dark, syrupy scent it exhales after dark is truly narcotic (repulsive when smelling the flower close though). It goes without saying that fragrances named after a poisonous plant is to rouse interest and desire and are employed in a figurative sense where the scent is assembled from various raw materials to give the illusion of the fascinating, poisonous and mythical herb.

              Having said that, its closest smelling innocent sister, tuberose the fragrance is supposed to be based around is weak and underdeveloped and sadly smothered by clean musk to a stripped down, abstract version of itself that's just too thin and soulless to my liking. At worst, I expected a distant connection to Mahora, a rich, natural white floral tuberose ylang blend, but again, a huge disappointment.

              To sum up, Dautra Noir is a well-constructed and high quality, modern niche white floral fragrance with low sillage let down by surprisingly poor longevity; in about 6 hours it's all gone bar a barely detectable skin scent even with a really generous application in the morning. The fresh, clean aspect of the fragrance is evident throughout, following the aseptic, bleached beyond recognition trend of modern perfumery. The noir moniker is completely irrelevant, why everything boring and bland is called noir nowadays is beyond me. It seems Serge Lutens have thought out his unisex orientals better so in the future I'll concentrate on those. Thus the exotic and sometimes animalic and intoxicatingly rich aroma of natural white flowers as they appear in nature remains a fantasy.

              PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

              The full RRP is £69 / 50ml Eau de Parfum in department stores throughout the UK.

              ©powered by lillybee posted on both dooyoo.co.uk and ciao.co.uk websites

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                18.05.2013 15:59
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                A largely synthetic and pricey sweet bubble-gum - Tobacco Vanille fluke from a high-end designer

                Launched: 2011
                Group: Woody Spicy

                INTRODUCTION

                I like spicy fragrances and will test and wear whatever I can get my hands on whether or not it is marketed towards men or women so I picked up Viktor & Rolf's recently released male counterpart of Flowerbomb, baptised Spicebomb.

                THE PACKAGING

                The packaging is certainly modern and young. The shiny metallic grey and black box houses a bottle shaped as a hand grenade that looks heavy, masculine and quite frankly uber macho.

                THE FRAGRANCE

                Top notes: bergamot, lemon, pink pepper, elemi

                Well, the composition opens up in a rather undecisive, let alone masculine way as if it had no idea where it is going. The fleeting and ever changing notes I'm getting are sharp and citrusy at first, bland and washing powder clean musky later on, then ever so lightly spiced. There's a definite but fleeting resemblance to Si Lolita equally exploiting the peppery, citrusy elemis note to a weaker degree and in a less well-done manner. Altogether, a not at all promising start with a wishy-washy accord that has the distinct 'dozens of colognes floating in the air in a perfume store' kind of feel.

                Middle notes: saffron, cinnamon, paprika

                About 10 minutes later, the fragrance finally settles on a relatively sweet and spicy mix. I find it hard to pinpoint exactly what it resembles so non-descript and generic it feels. Some time on I detect a distinct scent of marzipan, like marzipan cake, sweet, almondy, slightly vanillic with a touch of peppery spice. The accord isn't dense or tenacious however it diffuses well during a couple of hours of wear.

                Base notes: vetiver, tobacco, leather

                The base notes start coming through on my skin in a mere three hours with a blend of mainly vanilla and a sweet, aromatic pipe tobacco note with a hint of hay and spice. I was about to discard Spicebomb as an uninteresting, generic marzipan fragrance when the connection with Tobacco Vanille became obvious and due to the resemblance I actually started appreciating the fragrance. The rich, authentic and almost syrupy, decadent Tobacco Vanille is obviously of superior quality and better blended than here so to compare the two would be like comparing a baby walker to a Rolls Royce. That aside, it was a nice and unexpected surprise only mitigated by the inferior quality and weaker blending in Spicebomb. The staying power was moderate for a men's eau de toilette lasting in total for 6 - 7 hours close to the skin.

                CONCLUSION

                There's no denying that Spicebomb is synthetic, boring and fairly banal to be honest. Like most mass-marketed fragrances, it doesn't have a convincing idea behind it, so it doesn't know that it's supposed to be or do, apart from wanting to please the masses. It tries too hard to be something special which it isn't and a juxtaposition of a random number of notes makes it confused, pointless and lacking harmony.

                It would suit both genders fine due to its sweet and spicy allure, however, it does not have the staying power that the rich, sweet and gourmand notes would suggest. It's only saving grace is the fact that its drydown is a fairly convincing dupe for Tobacco Vanille, one of Tom Ford's masterpieces I love in his exclusive line. To get an idea, I reviewed it a while ago. Whether or not it's an intended copy, it just makes Spicebomb all the less original and less authentic in my eyes.

                The composition definitely fits the gourmand, unisex trend and joins the hordes of no-brainer, synthetic sweet chewing-gum scents for young man / women without a hint of originality, quality or artistic expression. It doesn't live up to its name either but stays safe, generic and a crowd-pleaser without any creative merits. As a drugstore brand Spicebomb wouldn't be bad at all but an expensive designer house like Viktor & Rolf could have really come up with something better.

                PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

                The RRP for this relatively new release is around £42 - 47.00 / 50ml Eau de Toilette. The 90ml edition costs between £62 and £75.

                ©powered by lillybee posted on both dooyoo.co.uk and ciao.co.uk websites

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                  04.05.2013 22:00
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                  A synthetic-smelling tea-jasmine-vanilla Ange ou Demon flanker

                  Launched: 2011
                  Group: Chypre floral

                  INTRODUCTION

                  With the warm weather finally here, I fancied some lighter, fresher fragrance so I picked up Givenchy's latest Ange ou Demon flanker bearing the name, Le Secret Elixir from my miniature collection to wear.

                  THE PACKAGING

                  The elongated, waterdrop-shaped bottle used to house all Ange ou Demon editions comes in a light shade of purple this time. The design of the outer box is largely white with a bit of purple on so in feel it's closely following in its predecessors footsteps.

                  THE FRAGRANCE

                  Top notes: neroli, lemon, tea

                  The fragrance opens up with a fresh, slightly soapy note of orange to my nose that has a king of red, blood-orange feel to it and a sort of bitterness. I don't find the accord natural at all, there's a synthetic feel to the elements that in a few minutes blend into the heart.

                  Middle notes: frangipani, African orange blossom, jasmine

                  The jasmine kicks in after about 10 minutes as a fainter, more diluted version of the huge, sweet and synthetic jasmine of Alien. The resemble is striking which is not really a plus in my book. A gourmand and creamy frangipani note with its sweet, almondy facet creeps in some time later and stays fairly noticeable in the background for a couple of hours. The rich, but linear jasmine mixed with a normally strong and powdery orange blossom gives a surprisingly bland, flat and weak result which is surprising for such heady and intense florals. It doesn't appear to be sensual either and the overall texture is neither soft nor sharp but something in between. The floral heart projects well, isn't overpowering and becomes quite subdued after about 4 - 5 hours.

                  Base notes: musk, patchouli, cedarwood, vanilla

                  Another couple of hours on, not surprisingly there isn't anything spectacular about the fragrance. The base notes form a light, somewhat sour but creamy and sweet accord of vanilla, tea and musk. The elements don't blend together but stand separately which is a shame as it shows a lack of skilful blending. The light, tart tea note doesn't really work as a base combined with the generic, clean and gentle laundry musk aroma and the faint puff of vanillin. The lasting power of 7 hours isn't impressive either but given I'm not a fan, this I don't really care for. A drydown of frangipani and vanilla stays on clothes the next day though.

                  CONCLUSION

                  Le Secret Elixir is a fragrance that does not provide anything new or different from the existing Le Secret line or any other fragrance in general. There are already a number of similar perfumes available just to mention Alien, Alien flankers and Le Secret itself that play on similar themes. Although seemingly holding the promise of a stronger; more opulent version of Le Secret, in practice, the fragrance is extremely lacklustre, fractionated and doesn't at all live up to its glamorous claims. The packaging and name couldn't be further from this insipid, flanker of a flanker juice either.

                  I find Elixir rather boring, flat and especially synthetic-feeling which is probably my biggest problem with it as I just can't stand wearing synthetic fragrances for long periods. The fragrance is trying to be several things at the same time (fresh, gourmand and floral) by using borrowed elements and the result just does not work. The instantly recognizable mishmash of Alien's strong synthetic jasmine, the gourmand - creamy influence from Fleur Defendue (frangipani and vanilla) and the remixed Le Secret bit (the dominant tea element) don't mix well and the composition falls into pieces losing its integrity and credibility completely from almost the very start.

                  There are three criteria that will inevitably make a great fragrance: quality raw materials, masterful blending and originality. Le Secret Elixir fails on all counts. A resonating thumbs down for me.

                  PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

                  The 50ml and 100ml EDP retail in a range of £55 - £70 in perfume shops and department stores. You can get it cheaper at online discounters such as cheapsmells or fragranceNet starting at £38 / 50ml EDP.

                  ©powered by lillybee posted on both dooyoo.co.uk and ciao.co.uk websites

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                    15.04.2013 00:09
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                    An exotic, sensual and dense white floral with dusty vanilla and earthy woods

                    Launched: 2000
                    Group: Oriental floral

                    INTRODUCTION

                    I own a Mahora miniature as well as a 75ml Eau de Parfum from the mid 2000 when the fragrance was more widely available. Mahora designates Mayotte in Malagasy, a group of islands part of France's overseas departments where Guerlain's plantations are found. Apparently the product name didn't quite cut it in the anglo-saxon market so soon after its launch Mahora was taken off the shelves. The re-edited fragrance is now sold under the name Mayotte.

                    THE PACKAGING

                    The fragile, round bottle and its elongated neck topped off by an amber-coloured stopper looks like a rare talisman. The golden-threaded vegetal green packaging is truly unusual and reminds me of hot, tropical rainforests and the intoxicating scent of rare flowers.

                    THE FRAGRANCE

                    Top notes: orange, green notes, almond blossom

                    After a short-lived sharpness Mahora exhales a dense, oily and gorgeous blend of ylang-ylang and to a lesser degree tuberose absolute, both creamy, buttery, sweet and thick with a characteristic animalic core typical of tropical white florals. There's a definite yellow-flower and honey-like tinge to the opening notes which overallI I would describe as a heady, exuberant and naturally sweet, densely exotic scent. Because of its thickness, it settles and sort of melts onto the skin like perfume oils do from very early on and gives off a lovely and strong projection. It goes on slightly heavy at first but is very natural and not at all headache inducing some heady fragrances tend to be.

                    Middle notes: tuberose, frangipani, ylang-ylang, neroli, jasmine

                    Tuberose gently takes over in about half an hour and almost dominates the composition reminding me of Fracas however Fracas is colder with a poised, refined character, whilst Mahora is naturally warm, spicy and untamed. I like how Mahora has its personality and yet it glides easily on the skin, stays so real and natural and does not transform itself into a posh and made-up Fracas.

                    Symbols of feminity, white flowers do evoke sensuality and there's absolute abundance of them in here. The dark, sweet and spicy aspects all play together to create not just a white floral accord but much more: a rich, opulent and very feminine, nectar-like substance that's ultimately warm and luscious, deeply rich, exotic and sumptuous to wear. Halfway through the day, a softer, more powdery accord sneeks in and mingle with the powerful florals setting a tone for a very Guerlain-y drydown.

                    Base notes: sandalwood, vetiver, vanilla

                    The finishing touches of soft, aromatic vanilla mingling with the ever so bitter and earthy sandalwood make up the unmistakeable Guerlinade, Guerlain's signature base composed of vanilla and woods. I liked the fact that the vanilla was for once in retreat and used as a complementary note. After hours and hours of dense and honeyed white flower frenzy a vanilla prominent base would have proved cloying.

                    The bitterness coming from the vetiver is a light influence next to the still plush, soft and comforting Guerlinade. It adds a welcome smoky touch though and cuts down on the sweetness of vanilla which feels drier, powdery having a slightly waxy taste. To sum up, the base is a lovely combination of sweet and bitter - earthy elements that's delicious and sensual yet mature and composed.

                    CONCLUSION

                    Lovely when used with a light hand due to a powerful blend of natural perfume oils, Mahora is a bit overripe at first but really blossoms and blooms some time on.Its huge, intoxicating bouquets of heady, white and yellow florals with some oriental undertones, Mahora is a love and hate affair and is certainly not for the faint-hearted. I find the fragrance rich, natural and sexy and hundreds of modern, synthetic floral fragrances just cannot compete with this fascinating beauty and its high natural quality.

                    No perfumista's wardrobe especially one that collects rare and discontinued fragrances should be complete without Mahora from Guerlain, this unique, flamboyant and slightly animalic, naturally sweet tuberose and ylang delight I love to wear on special occasions. Not a classic, but rich and naturally exotic and sweet, perfume history would be poorer without it. A few drops suffice for the day and when you get to wear it all day you sort of forget about it. Yet it's there and adapts so well to the skin that if it suits you, it becomes one with your own skin chemistry. Get a bottle now and surprise yourself by what real perfumes were made of at the turn of the 21st century.

                    PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

                    Currently available on Amazon for £61.58 / 50ml Eau de Parfum. Ebay has both the 5ml and 75ml EDP editions at £4.59 and £39.99 respectively.

                    ©powered by lillybee posted on both dooyoo.co.uk and ciao.co.uk websites

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                      08.04.2013 16:00
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                      A sumptuous natural vanilla and honey fragrance with accents of coconut and woods

                      Launched: 2003
                      Group: Oriental vanilla

                      INTRODUCTION

                      I happily throw myself on any fragrance produced by niche French perfume house Serge Lutens if I can get it cheap enough on Ebay. Founded by Serge Lutens himself in 2000 after a long and successful career with Japanese cosmetics giant Shiseido, the company is known for using high quality, natural raw materials to compose exclusive and unusual fragrances that all have a story behind them. The nose behind the fragrances is Christopher Sheldrake.

                      THE PACKAGING

                      Un Bois Vanille comes in a tall, rectangular and see-through bottle and brown cap common across all 50ml editions. The liquid is dark brown due to the genuine vanilla extract you can tell by just smelling the bottle.

                      THE FRAGRANCE

                      Notes: coconut, licorice, beeswax, almond, benzoin, tonka bean, guaiac wood, musk, sandalwood, vanilla

                      Not all fragrances follow the classic pyramid structure of top, middle and base notes and this is especially true for Serge Lutens creations. What I'm picking upon first is a burst of sweet, natural vanilla extract aroma similar to my Vahina vanilla extract bought from the supermarket I use to flavour my soaps and showel gels with. Vanilla extracts are rich in nuances that range from caramel-y and smokey to spicy and honey-like. Within the minute, the vanilla gets mixed with a sweet, slightly astringent and nose-tickling, sharp note I identify and honey. Honey and vanilla are present in equal measures and create a gourmand, dessert-like accord which for me isn't cloying, sickly or sticky but rather naturally sweet and dark.

                      As if using nature's two sweetest ingredients together wasn't enough, some 15 minutes later a sweet and fresh milky coconut rounds out and stretches the gourmand notes further giving the vanilla - honey combination a tropical edge. The coconut is natural and gourmand and only serves as a backup anchoring note so there's absolutely nothing cheap or suntan-lotion-like here. The woods start kicking in about 3 - 4 hours later as the honey disappears and the vanilla mellows out to a more powdery and plush substance with a distinct cooking vanilla edge. The sandalwood tempers the sweetness and blends in seamlessly with the rest of the accord which now has a certain dark and almost smoky, caramely feel to it.

                      CONCLUSION

                      I obviously do not wear Un Bois Vanille on a daily basis but on days when I specifically crave sweetness or vanilla, I put it on with pleasure. It's a safe fragrance to wear anywhere and almost all year round due to its smooth and gently flowing quality, like liquid silk. Its evolution is fairly linear and definitely stays true to itself. It doesn't offend and certainly never shouts but boy you know it's there. It's sweet and gourmand but never gets syrupy or annoying. The only thing slightly missing is the smoky, balmy and resinous aroma of gaiac wood listed amongst the notes, which is a slight disappointment. Un bois vanille is a luxurious, high quality niche product that's miles and miles away from the hordes of artificially sweetened, commercial cupcake-y vanilla fragrances.

                      If you like vanilla-based scents and want a perfectly-blended complex vanilla perfection that smells incredibly natural, gourmand and niche, look no further. This is what Yves Rocher's Vanilla Noir tried to be but couldn't. The name can be misleading so if you're looking for a woodsy, edgier and less sweet masculine scent this might not be for you. I've seen this fragrance marketed for ladies as well as a unisex however its woody aspect is underdeveloped to suit a male audience. In my opinion Un bois vanille is a rather feminine, in and out grown up, luscious and high-end oriental vanilla scent that can be layered with ambery or woody orientals or enjoyed on its own for pure guilty pleasure!

                      PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

                      Available in department stores and Amazon at full price ranging from £70 - £85 to £105 / 50ml Eau de Parfum. I won my half-full 50ml bottle for about £20 on eBay last year.

                      ©powered by lillybee posted on both dooyoo.co.uk and ciao.co.uk websites

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                        04.04.2013 15:17
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                        A dusky rosy-floral and spicy myrrh fragrance with Caron's inimitable signature

                        Launched: 1991
                        Group: Oriental spicy

                        INTRODUCTION

                        Caron is a legendary perfume house established in 1904 by Ernst Daltroff in Paris. For more than a century Caron has continued to produce some of the most highly-regarded and beloved fragrances in perfume history as well as adding new children to its repertoire.

                        THE PACKAGING

                        I own two versions of the fragrance, one being a now vintage round bottle with the bee-engraved stopper bottle from the nineties. As I was running low a couple of years ago I invested in a new, thankfully unreformulated edition repackaged in a tall polka dotted glass with the round golden stopper shared by many classics such as Narcisse or Nuit de Noel. I like the old-new packaging and it's full on turn-of-the-century glamour and antique charm.

                        THE FRAGRANCE

                        Top notes: cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, mimosa

                        The fragrance opens up with a bright, tangy and fruity orange - lemon accord that's immediately joined by a blast of naturally aromatic spice with peppery and earthy nuances. The complex start and the darkness of the spices hide the more delicate florals from sight for the time being. I do get a slight soapiness that might be coming from the mimosa though. The bright and slightly cold classic opening darkened by a spicy nuance smoothens and evens out gradually as the warmth of the heart starts cutting through in about 10 minutes.

                        Middle notes: jasmine, rose, orange, clove

                        The main focus now shifts to a peppery, dry and powdery rose that has a softened, dried effect about it provoked by the dustiness of spices that surround it. The florals are surprisingly light and lively mainly thanks to the mimosa and not at all brash, old-school or soapy as it could have been without it. The rose in the heart is similar in structure and texture to Pour Une Femme, they share the same dark and dusky smoothness. However, Parfum Sacré is also fruitier and has other florals that make it more than just a rose-insense fragrance. The orange and pepper remain quite prominent whilst the rose sort of takes a backseat from a few hours onwards.

                        Clove is now what I pick up most mixed with orange and bright, powdery mimosa creating a rich, full, but also light and transparent heady spicy floral symphony with accents of dusty resins and musk. Sacré is gothic but not in your face and vulgar but natural and ancient, like blends of incense that have been burned and refined through centuries to get the perfect mix. The slightly soapy touch retains that elegant, French allure and you can tell it's a Caron by its subtle and restrained arrangement of dusty spices recalling carnation-based classics and their dark, musky, brittle roses with a natural astringency of wild honey.

                        Base notes: musk, vanilla, myrrh

                        After about 6 - 7 hours of moderate projection, the final threads of a fine, warm, soft and powdery myrrh insense start appearing. The main element, myrrh is just so exquisitely sensual in a quiet, womanly and comforting way. The accord is undoubtedly a nod to Opium as it's just as feminine and insensy with a classic, balmy and powdery tendency but Parfum Sacré is a lot more restrained in execution. The drydown also has a definite sweet creaminess about it which I miss in Opium.

                        Myrrh can darken a fragrance considerably however thanks to the sweet and powdery vanilla nuances that cut through the otherwise harsh, dry and smoky myrrh, the overall composition is extremely refined, balmy and smooth. The ultra-silky musk reminiscent of the musk in Chaos further lightens and softens Sacré up to a beautiful, comforting hum of a hymn sung quietly in the depth of a temple. Intriguingly warm and cold, snuggly and distant, it wears close to the skin and stays detectable up to 12 hours.

                        CONCLUSION

                        I always feel feminine, grown up and womanly wearing Parfum Sacré and judging by Caron's perfume-making genius I think Parfum Sacré is exactly what it's meant to do. It's certainly not for the cotton-candy generation but for women with a penchant for classic spicy oriental florals with a modern twist who'll appreciate this beautiful creation. Parfum Sacré bears its name well: it does have an air of solemnity and calmness of ancient temples and smoky rituals about it without being too sombre or churchy.

                        On the contrary, thanks to the lively florals and a dusting of just enough spice coupled with the incredibly well-balanced, creamy heart and a smooth, silky myrrh finish, it wears like a perfect glove and is like your own skin's scent but better. It does require the right chemistry but if you like and are able to pull of spicy and not too sweet scents such as Opium and want to try something quieter, unique and more refined, Parfum Sacré will be right up your alley.

                        Caron has managed to make another extremely-well put together, harmonious, elegant and timeless, discreet and whispering oriental beauty that I hope will be around for at least another century. As it's based on timeless spices and resins that have been around since thousands of years, it's like a beautiful flow of gentle insense made with resins, flowers and spices. It's classic in approach and transports you to places and at the same time modern, chic and accessible. Cleopatra would have doused herself in this. I love it for the office as its discreet and for a snuggly night in as it's so comforting. For a big occasion, I'd wear something bolder and louder though. Equally beautiful dressed up or down, this sacred juice is a very special 'fume indeed. Try before you buy.

                        PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

                        Being part of Caron's more affordable and accessible lines, the price for the purse spray is between £13 - £21 / 30ml Eau de Parfum on Amazon and Fragrance.net. The 100ml bottle is around the £50 - 65£ mark. Samples available from luckyscent.com

                        ©powered by lillybee posted on both dooyoo.co.uk and ciao.co.uk websites

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                          26.03.2013 20:38
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                          A fun nineties style fruity floral with a salty woody base and a classic, soapy edge

                          in case it gets discontinued

                          Launched: 1998
                          Group: Chypre fruity

                          INTRODUCTION

                          I have great respect for the perfume and couture house Jean Patou founded in Paris in the 1930s still offering a range of classic and modern fragrances. Besides a bigger bottle of Sira des Indes, I also own a number of their miniatures including Patou Forever Eau de Toilette.

                          THE PACKAGING

                          The slim, square bottle and its small, round cap stand out by their simplicity compared to Patou's more sophisticated and classic packaging such as Joy and Sublime. The golden and fushia colors are also more modern and flamboyant and fit the juice well.

                          THE FRAGRANCE

                          Top notes: pineapple, raspberry, melon

                          Forever's opening is unusual and hard to place as it changes minute by minute. A blast of exotic fruits give it a sugary sweetness at first but that is almost immediately offset by a burst of fresh, detergent-smelling aldehydes which is unusual for a fruity start. The mixture definitely tones down the fruity sweetness and blends in gradually with the heart in the next fifteen minutes or so.

                          Middle notes: jasmine, rose, lily-of-the-valley

                          As the fragrance warms up, the floral aspects become apparent with clean, aldehydic jasmine and lily-of-the-valley dominating the scene. The rose is sweet,fruity and jammy somewhat in contrast with the rest of the crisper, laundry-fresh white florals. There's a touch of fruitiness that now smells just like raspberry cordial and pineapple syrup lingering over the fresh laundry scent . However, this fruity twist does save Forever from being a straightforward classic white floral and gives the floral aromas a young and unusual twist.

                          As Forever was made in good nineties fruity floral tradition, the fruity element never distracts from the main thread. The strong, somewhat soapy and classic white floral heart develops a salty and musky hint over time which makes Forever a one of a kind, sensual and unusual breed in the genre. The accord projects steadily around me for a good 4 - 5 hours and even more so when the temperature is rising as in the last few days, when it suddenly comes alive like a dozing kitten tickled by the sun and starts dancing with joy!

                          Base notes: amber, vanilla, woods

                          The base is sweeter than I expected and when mixed with a soft, whispering vanilla and what smells like sandalwood / Virginian cedar to my nose. the result again is not your average and boring vanilla base so common nowadays in fruity florals.

                          The woods have an unmistakeable, sharp, metallic or ammoniac edge to it and that puts Forever back in Patou-land. Again, on all three levels, I'm suspecting aldehydes at work as these chemicals are supposed to brighten up the fragrance and often have a sharp, laundry-detergent or metallic undertone.

                          To sum up, the base is a creamy but woody finish that rounds the fragrance off beautifully and lingers on with a slightly soapy - metallic tang for the rest of the day. Such longevity of the drydown is impressive for an eau de toilette concentration.

                          CONCLUSION

                          From high society Joy made for the glamorous 30s and still in production to affordable, fun and still rich and sensually French Sublime and Forever à la 1990s, Patou spans decades and always manages to reinvent itself and offer something in and very Patou. Without resorting to forgettable, low-quality and mass marketed juices that dominate the market since the 90s, Patou stays faithful to its heritage and even their modern creations retain class, quality and that something 'Patou' they all have in common. Forever takes some getting used to but ultimately its quirkiness also gives it the edge and distinction that sets it apart.

                          Surprisngly versatile, fun and full of flamboyance as well as clean; sharp and slightly soapy, it takes a certain personality to appreciate Forever. I liked it more than I expected and this is from me who normally shies away from soapy florals. Yes, it's one of the core elements and yet Forever is so much more. Thick, flirty fruits, jammy rose and dense jasmine, all ideal to brighten up these still freezing early spring days, it's fresh and crisp as freshly-ironed shirt but warm and anchoring enough for colder seasons / evenings.

                          Its combination of a soapy-detergent metallic-aldehydic crisp white floral heart melted by a generous dollop of syrupy but not too sweet tropical fruit anchored with salty - metallic amber wood adds a bit of an aminalistic, 'sweaty' and musky dimension playing with the sophisticated and clean backbone is what I admire in Forever, a unique salty fruity floral Patou style. I advise you hunt down a miniature to see if it's for you.

                          PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

                          Discontinued but still easily available online from perfume discounters (Fragrance X etc) and Amazon or Ebay starting from approximately £4.99 / 5ml miniature and £34 / 100ml Eau de Toilette

                          ©powered by lillybee posted on both dooyoo.co.uk and ciao.co.uk websites

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                            15.03.2013 15:12
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                            A fast disappearing, syrupy fruity - oriental - gourmand Angel knock-off with a cheap and musky edge

                            Launched: 2003
                            Group: Fruity floral gourmand

                            INTRODUCTION

                            My nose finally back in order after a week of flu, I was eager to pick up a new scent. From a lot I ordered from ebay US containing perfume samples from American brands I was curious about, I went for young and niche perfume house Bond No.9 known for their creations they named after New York, its artists and its famous landmarks. Nuits de Noho or Noho Nights promised to deliver 'A new kind of nighttime femininity: Irreverent, unapologetic, favors a shot of icy vodka. A contemporary fruity-floral gourmand skin-scent that's the ultimate in sexy avant-garde urbanity'.

                            THE PACKAGING

                            My sample looks like sweet wrappings in a luscious, deep violet blue colour so the foody side is immediately addressed. The traditional angular Bond bottle resembling a star pictures a starry night this time on a velvety deep bleu background. There's no denying that Bond No. 9 puts great effort into their its design. Time after time they come up with interesting and colourful imagery fitted around a selected theme and dress up the bottle accordingly whilst its shape itself remains the same.

                            THE FRAGRANCE

                            Top notes: bergamot, mandarin, pineapple

                            Right off the bat, I'm getting a hit of Angel and the unmistakeable, somewhat synthetic sweet characteristic of it only in a cheaper and stripped down version. The main flavours are honeyed patchouli with a spicy and dry touch that's nice but fairly underdeveloped and an ever-increasing soapy edge which kind of disturbs me. The overall opening accord does not smell as natural and fresh or even gourmand as I expected. It's an artificial candy - sweet mess with a vanillic edge that luckily gets straight down to smoothy - fruity syrupy business a few minutes later as it starts to reveal its heart.

                            Middle notes: jasmine, rosewood

                            As the accord deepens, sweet fruits, vanilla and patchouli become the dominant elements giving a smooth and syrupy aroma. Nuits de Noho suddenly feels expensive and at the same time cheap and synthetic from the remaining notes if that makes sense. A whiff of juicy pinapple lurks in there appearing later accompanied by a tiny hint of fruity leather however, that's where the complexity ends.

                            A warm, sweet, smooth mixture that somehow gives it an edge and pushes it beyond a simple fruity floral gourmand category. For a few hours, the fragrance does have an opulence and warm richness I like about it veering towards a modern version of the rare fruity chypre oriental category, but here's a catch. The whole compositon, and mainly the heart is somehow 'white', as in fluffy and soft but somehow the overriding sweetness is making it odourless. The medium projection is pleasant and stays around for around half a day.

                            Base notes: patchouli, vanilla, musk

                            It doesn't take longer than five or so hours for Nuits de Noho to dry down to a skin scent that's unlike its beginning stays very close to the skin and is almost imperceptible from further away other than your clothing. I'm still on the fence and I think the only reason I'm liking it is not because of its own merit. I'm getting used to it certainly or because it has retained some of the fruity - leathery sweetness I so love in Mouboussin and Patou Forever (reviewed next).

                            What they mainly share is the sweetness and the smooth syrupy feel, however Nuits de Noho fails on many fronts in comparison to the former two: far less rich, original and powerful, it's as if the two were rolled into one and diluted down to a microscopic level with gallons of sweet, Angel-knock off synthetic musk added, you know the type? Yes, that's what the dry down smells like to me and there's really nothing to write home about. Disapponting.

                            CONCLUSION

                            Having a strapline of 'Easy to wear, easy to love fragrances' should have sent alarm bells ringing. Obviously, liked and worn by everyone is a sort of a no-no in niche circles and goes against everyting niche stands for: quality raw materials worked on by qualified perfumers whose work on every fragrance is akin to an artist working on a piece of art. Or am I missing something here? The only niche thing about Nuit de Noho is its price point. Non-descript and completely unoriginal, Nuits de Noho is a candy-like, feminine, smooth, sweet and creamy juice that's likeable enough but does have not an ounce of niche or even some sort of European and certainly not French perfume standard about it. Lacking overall harmony and character especially for the price, it comes off pretty much as just 'meh'.

                            The nice, gourmand components could have been made into something different and better, that's not where the biggest problem lies. By adding more character to the middle of the road and common sweet base by using bold raw materials with more character and less of the overriding sweet musk, Nuits de Noho wouldn't be so reminiscent of the non-descript sweet perfume scent someone left off after they left the room. Did Bond No. 9 make Nuits de Noho smell just like the leftover from anybody's fragrance, particularly Angel diluted, tamed and stripped off their personalities and strength on purpose? Could it be that Nuits de Noho is supposed to be the white noise smell that develops when too many fragrances are mixed in a room from people and produce a scent like perfume but nothing in particular? And in which room at least one person wore Angel?

                            If yes, then that's what this fragrance is. Trying to please everybody, pleases nobody. With no foundation and barely a backbone, the fragrance does stand on a good (borrowed) idea but its execution is shabby. If you want something original, even groundbreaking and unique, Nuits de Noho is the anti-dote of all that and so not worth the money.

                            PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

                            In the UK, large department stores and some airports as well as Amazon UK carry the line starting at £116 / 100ml Eau de Parfum. The best option is to give it a try and get hold of a sample of it either at the aforementioned outlets or for about £3 - £4 on eBay.

                            ©powered by lillybee posted on both dooyoo.co.uk and ciao.co.uk websites

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                              04.03.2013 21:54
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                              An unusual floral and vanillic almost unisex leather slightly let down by short longevity

                              Launched: 2010
                              Group: Oriental

                              INTRODUCTION

                              I have some 200+ commercial perfume samples awaiting testing and Mignight in Paris has caught my attention whilst sorting through them recently. A recent addition to Van Cleef & Arpels' 'Haute Parfumerie' line together with female fragrance 'Feerie', Midnight in Paris promised 'A modern and elegant fragrance. Strength and intensity of a leather sublimated by bright notes of a masculine lily-of-the-valley'.

                              THE PACKAGING

                              The round, deep blue glass bottle is adorned by a constellation of stars and crowned with a silver stopper pictured on the card inside. I immediately took a liking to this thought-out, high-end and refined packaging that surely stands out from mass marketed designer releases in terms of creativity and design.

                              THE FRAGRANCE

                              Top notes: holly, juniperberry, bergamot, lemon, leather

                              As first impressions, I'm getting a light and transparent, yet strong and aromatic combination of fresh, tart and lightly bitter lemon and a touch of leather. The fleeting bitter - green lemon soon gives way to a strong, smoky leather that reminds me of galbanum, a precious essential oil used in many classic chypre fragrances.

                              Middle notes: styrax, tea, lily-of-the-valley, woody notes

                              Soon enough, the leathery accord deepens and develops a distinct, tarry aspect softened by a fairly non-descript light and powdery background that adds a touch of sweetness to the somewhat harsh, rubbery bite of leather. At this point the blend reminds me of violet, probably because of the burnt plastic effect violets can have. Perhaps it is there to signal a subtle connection with Feerie the female counterpart of Midnight in Paris?

                              The gender-bending leathery - violet is also a nod to Rykiel Woman without the pepper. The fairly powerful plastic violet goes away shortly leaving behind a gentle, candied violet mixed with a fresh, lemony undertone that never completely disappears. A deeper, smokier tea-like leather note on a creamy, floral background finishes off the heart that projects lightly and stays close to the skin for a good 4 - 5 hours.

                              Base notes: frankincense, benzoin, tonka bean, almond, amber

                              Sweetened leather incense all the way is how I would sum up the drydown. Accentuated by vanilla-driven amber and soft, aromatic tonka beans, the leather effect is still there though it has become quiet and balanced. This leather is silky smooth and fits the skin like a glove.

                              From fresh and bitter to warm and soft and finally settling on sweet and vanillic, the leather in Midnight in Paris is like a chameleon transforming itself. I don't find it too harsh or overly gourmand, it's more on the aromatic and almost herbal, incense-y side tinged with a fair amount of vanilla. The gentle and low projection skin scent prevails till the end and wears close to the skin in the final 3 - 4 hours.

                              CONCLUSION

                              Midnight in Paris has been compared to Bulgari Black by perfume aficionados and I can see where they are coming from. However, Bulgari Black is a statement leather - burnt rubber fragrance heavy on the vanilla that largely dominates the fragrance throughout. Less heavy on the iris than Dior Homme but right on the modern masculine floral trend I find Midnight in Paris subtler and lighter initially as well as more nuanced and less aggressive from the heart onwards.

                              Its major drawback is that the usual application of a couple of dabs / spritzes only last halfway through the day and side but that's standard for an eau de toilette. What saves it ultimately is that it's complex and versatile enough to maintain the attention and never gets linear or boring.

                              Modern and classy without compromising on quality, I can see why Paris has been chosen as a namesake. Well, could the fragrance's warm odour of rubber tyres be reminiscent of the still hot tarmac you're walking on on a balmy summer night? Warm, spicy, elegant and refined it could well be but it's just as nice, romantic and rounded in colder weather as an evening fragrance.

                              Initially hesitating between a 'very good' and 'excellent' rating, based on the budget-friendly price, excellent value for money and availability, I think I can get past the staying power issue and award full stars for this lovely, unusual and well-put together balmy leather composition. The beautiful starry night bottle makes for a wonderful gift too.

                              PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

                              Widely available in stores and online in formats of 40ml, 75ml and 125ml Eau de Toilette from £27, £32 and £36 respectively to suit occasional or regular users.

                              ©powered by lillybee posted on both dooyoo.co.uk and ciao.co.uk websites

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                                26.02.2013 22:47
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                                An unusual green and earthy vetiver coupled with spicy gourmand and powdery tonka bean

                                Launched: 2004
                                Group: Woody Chypre

                                INTRODUCTION

                                Vetiver Tonka is part of Hermes's Hermessence line of unisex eau de toilettes created by inhouse perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena. This eau de toilette is one of the two I had snapped up on eBay to test.

                                THE PACKAGING

                                The Eau de Toilette comes in a heavy and transparent glass bottle many other Hermes creations share at the moment. The minimalist but elegant packaging if finished off by a leather-imitation orange box, easily spotted as it's the epitomous colour of the house.

                                THE FRAGRANCE

                                Top notes: blonde tobacco, caramel

                                Vetiver Tonka opens up with an aromatic blast of earthy, green and woody vetiver that soon exudes a strong smoky note that soon overpowers the composition. Vetiver naturally has a more or less pronounced smoky facet however what really comes to the forefront here is a sort of cigarette smoke or tobacco aroma. The background of the accord is softer and sweeter with the tonka bean having a plush and powdery, vanillic touch. It takes the edge off the smoky harshness and creates a lovely balanced and smooth accord that projects well in the first half an hour.

                                Middle notes: lily-of-the-valley, praline and hazelnut

                                The fragrance has gradually moved on to having a more restrained, clean but equally earthy and aromatic vetiver that has lost some of its bitter touch and is definitely a warmer and gentler element now. The sillage is mainly clean with a hint of zesty citrus peel and transparent, watery musk bearing all the signature of Ellena's creations: refined, transparent and with a clean and elegant touch making them suitable for both sexes. The heart is surprisingly fresh and sparkling showing the vetiver in a different light. Calmer and softer, yet still green and woody and supported by a gentle, powdery note in the background, the overall blend is fresh and balanced with green and powdery nuances and a hint of sweetness that lingers on leaving a light sillage for a good 5 - 6 hours.

                                Base notes: tonka bean, sandalwood, vetiver

                                Vetiver Tonka is back with another surprise. It's warm and powdery again but this time without being sweet or vanillic and is more on the nutty and spicy side. The vetiver has mellowed out to a whisper which I don't mind at all. Instead, I enjoy this chameleon fragrance that is still exactly what it says on the tin and yet has transformed itself again. To sum up, the base is a wonderful culmination of an ever changing combination of earthy - smoky to green and fresh and at the end soft and clean vetiver paired with spicy, vanillic, nutty and powdery tonka bean. It's such a shame it fades so quickly and is barely detectable after about 8 hours.

                                CONCLUSION

                                Unlike traditionally masculine vetivers such as Vetiver from Guerlain Vetiver Tonka is minimalistic and refusing all stereotypes. Combining the best quality raw materials and outstanding craftsmanship, it is a modern, slightly gourmand, laid back and easygoing vetiver that's everything but banal and forgettable. It has grown on me more than I expected. Vetiver Tonka is a piece of artistic expression and beautifully executed at that. Bar the price, I'd certainly wear this in summer however I find it a bit too thin and not sweet enough for winter. For gentlemen, this could be a wonderful all-year-round treat.

                                PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

                                Look out for the 15ml travel editions that Hermessence colognes are available in and sometimes appear on Ebay for anyting between £10 - 30. The full 100ml bottle costs £150 in Hermes boutiques, concessions and airports or online.

                                ©powered by lillybee posted on both dooyoo.co.uk and ciao.co.uk websites

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                                • More +
                                  19.02.2013 22:47
                                  Very helpful
                                  (Rating)
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                                  Advantages

                                  Disadvantages

                                  A beautifully put together gentle and fresh natural rose scent that could be bolder and spicier

                                  Launched: 2004
                                  Group: Woody Spicy

                                  INTRODUCTION

                                  Hermessence is a line of fragrances from Hermes made with the most precious fragrant raw materials with no costs spared, dreamed and concocted by in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena. Intrigued, I managed to hunt down two generous 4ml travel vials of two of these eau de toilettes for £3.99 each on eBay to test.

                                  THE PACKAGING

                                  The 100ml editions are served in sturdy and transparent glass bottles, a unifying concept as many Hermes' creations, new or re-editions of classics now come in the same format. Pure, minimalist yet imposing, they are easily recognizable and simply elegant.

                                  THE FRAGRANCE

                                  Top notes: grapefruit, rhubarb

                                  Right from the start, a duo of aromas hit my nose at the same time. One is zesty and lightly bitter, the other is a rose, crisp, fresh, 'early morning dew' type of whole rose, including stem which envelops the tart citrus with a delicious but elegant and satiny cloud.

                                  Middle notes: rose tea, rose, magnolia, pink pepper

                                  The sharp, citric accord shifts into a lower gear after about fifteen minutes leaving a natural and transparent rose scent that isn't jammy or perfumey but is fresh and delicate with a hint of sweetness. There's still some tartness going on apart from the solo rose reminding me of the rose - patchouli combination in Gres Cabaret. Rose Ikebana is a lot more feminine and delicate than Cabaret though and has a powdery undertone that softens it even further without adding sweetness to it. As the hours stretch, a ligthly spiced, tender and transparent rose emerges bringing to mind the unsweetened, rose scented ice tea I made last summer with that same type of fresh, natural and aromatic feel to it.

                                  Base notes: spices, musk, honey, vanilla

                                  Intriguingly, the rose never leaves even 6 - 7 hours and should I say this is a disappointment. I would love to have more to report on however what the base resembles is a kind of skeleton rose heart with a dash of transparent and clean musk thrown in. Not a lot to go on about really, it's nice and comfortable but somehow feels like a leftover and not something that could stand firmly on its own. I yearned for more spices and woods to be honest than a warm and gentle whisper of a rose to be served up in the base. Having nothing else to back it up, the rose sits on its own rather drawn out and tired. A clean, natural and dewy rose again, just the way it started.

                                  CONCLUSION

                                  Rose Ikebana isn't a spicy rose as Rose Absolue or earthy, sharp patchouli-rose of Cabaret nor is it buried in vanilla as in Rose Ispahan or velvety ambery as in Rose Absolute. Rose Ikebana is every bit as rosy as it can get offset by only some fresh citrus and a teeny-weeny pinch of spice. I find it could have been made more interesting and bolder as it's just a bit meek and not enough out there for my liking. Surprisingly for an eau de toilette, Although Rose Ikebana does linger on for the whole day and is made with high-end ingredients; it's somehow too weak to make a statement despite its potential.

                                  Delicate and yet sturdy, the rose never loses its grip perhaps to the detriment of other elements. What's more, I expected a lot woodier and earthier rose given that the fragrance is marketed for both genders. Besides the rose, the rest of the elements are mere background notes that do not shine through enough. From a beautiful and refined but rather obfuscated bunch of aromas ranging from gentle, crisp, citrusy and fresh to lightly spiced, soft and powdery, it seems like there's a lot going on and yet the rose stays a rose. Rose Ikebana isn't linear but the rose being all the time present without any serious contenders it feels a tad too gentle and simply and ultimately boring to wear all day.

                                  In summary, Rose Ikebana is an unpretentious rose in its natural state picked in bud in an early morning and it is exactly this cold and dewy accompaniment that makes Rose Ikebana almost photorealistic. An undeniably complicated effort in perfumery when using natural raw materials which are inevitably altered during transformation, I understand the high price tag however I could never afford a full bottle of this. Plus, I like my roses plusher, spicier and fuller, even in summer. I recommend you try Rose Ikebana in Hermes's travel size editions, a more affordable way to experience this enchanting, natural and beautiful rose. However, a lot more feminine than I thought, I'd taken one star off for the shared marketing and one for the price. I just cannot see a single guy forking out hundreds of pounds for this!

                                  PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

                                  Hermessence Rose Ikebana is available in Hermes boutiques, concessions and airports and online too. The full-sized bottle costs £150 / 100ml Eau de Toilette. The 15ml travel spray is around £28.50.

                                  ©powered by lillybee posted on both dooyoo.co.uk and ciao.co.uk websites

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