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since 17/01/2017


Robert Piguet Bandit Eau de Parfum 20/04/2017

Flapper filth (Piguet Bandit)

Robert Piguet Bandit Eau de Parfum The current Bandit is a reconstruction of an original fragrance launched in 1944 and created by Germaine Cellier, discontinued (when a pallid and harsh version of its former self) in the 1970's and revived in 1990's when the Piguet brand was acquired by the somewhat mundane sounding Fashion Fragrances & Cosmetics. Many of their reconstructions of the original Piguet fragrances using modern ingredients and with some updates for modern regulations and sensibilities are considered to be largely successful, and Bandit is among those. The original Bandit fitted in a style of provocative early 20th century fragrances for emancipated women: women who wore trousers, smoked in public and generally transgressed social mores of the time. The current Bandit is a dirty chypre with a powerful leather note and an animalic side, and might be more challenging nowadays than it was originally. Why do I say that? Because the current standard for feminine perfumery oscillates between two poles. One is generally sweet: fruity, vanilla, gourmand, fruitchouli, berry, all that stuff that when done well is nice and sweet and when done badly is sickly sweet. The other pole is fresh: aquatic, ''clean'', watery, washed out citrusy fragrances that at best resemble classic Eau de Cologne and at worst smell like laundry soap. There is even a whole brand/fragrance line called Clean, I kid you not. Luca Turin told me it was uniformly horrible, and I believed him without trying them, so there. The ...

Guerlain L'Heure Bleu 28/03/2017

Golden hour (Guerlain L'Heure Bleu)

Guerlain L'Heure Bleu Another G review, another Guerlain. This time it's one of the oldest fragrances in Guerlain's books and one of the oldest extant perfumes in existence, originally created in 1912 by the very much legendary Jacques Guerlain also incidenatlly (or not that incidentally) responsible for Mitsouko, Shalimar and Vol de Nuit. So the weight of the legacy is quite substantial in this one. Unfortunately, the fairly recent (some time in the last ten years) reformulation in order to adjust the formula to current anti-allergy regulations and recommendations stripped the old fragrance from some of the things that made it special. But the reformulated version is what L'Heure Bleu currently is and what I am reviewing here. The Gist This is still a classic Guerlain, building a soft, dreamy, creamy confection on the unmistakeable sweet yet beautiful Guerlain base. The longer story The origins' myth behind this fragrance claims that it was inspired by the ''blue hour'', the time when "the sun has set, but night has not yet fallen. It’s the suspended hour… The hour when one finally finds oneself in renewed harmony with the world and the light" For some reason, probably to do with the latitudes I dwell on, the vibe I would associate with that hour is quite cool, the pinks of the sunset fading into the pale blue of the sky, turning it dove-grey, the chill rising up even on the warmest night. But this northern silvery-blue is not what L'Heure Bleu evokes. The notes are given as: * Top: ...

Calmac Ferry: Mallaig To Almadale-Isle Of Skye, United Kingdom 28/03/2017

[Insert some variation of 'Over the Sea to Skye' here]

Calmac Ferry: Mallaig To Almadale-Isle Of Skye, United Kingdom Skye, the largest of the Inner Hebrides, is only a few miles away from the mainland and has been connected to it by a graceful - and since 2004, toll-free - bridge for more than 20 years. The bridge's opening in 1995 meant a demise of the Kyle of Lochalsh - Kyleakin ferry, but those who want to travel over-the-sea-to-Skye, or want to vary their route or simply find it fits better with their schedule, can still do it by taking the Calmac ferry between Mallaig and Armadale. CalMac CalMac Ferries Ltd (formerly Caledonian MacBrayne, formerly Caledonian Steam Packet Company) is one of the last vestiges of what used to be British Rail, and despite various attempts to privatise it, it remains at the time of writing still owned by the Scottish Government. As few of the routes currently operated by CalMac are anywhere near turning a profit and remain more of a lifeline social service than a commercial enterprise, it is likely to remain this way. The route and its starting points There are two main ways to get to Skye from the mainland. One involves travelling approximately 80 miles due east of Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh (by road or train) and driving, walking or cycling over the bridge to Kyleakin and then onwards along A87 to Broadford and beyond. The other connects the fishing port of Mallaig, less than 30 miles south of Kyle on the west coast, via a CalMac ferry to Aramdale near the end of Skye's Sleat peninsula. For those who arrive in or travel via the West ...

Revlon Charlie Pink Eau de Toilette 27/03/2017

Vile pretty (Revlon Charlie Pink)

Revlon Charlie Pink Eau de Toilette This is part two of my random eBay lot of unknown fragrance saga. For those not familiar with the backstory: I accidentally bought a big lot of really cheap part-used fragrances on eBay. In all honesty it was based on a photo and the thing that enticed me was a bottle which looked like almost-full Lauder's Beyond Paradise but on delivery proved to be a dupe of a the real thing called (wait!): Superior Woman. I certainly didn't feel superior in any way when I discovered that. But as the name wasn't visible or listed in the description I got a lesson in trying to sneak a bargain. It was all very cheap overall though so real no harm done, and I am planning to review (if they have their categories here) a few of them. Cheapie #2, distinguished by the fact that it comes from a well-known beauty brand. The very gist Horrifying cranberry. The official pyramid I didn't find one, but I found some notes about the notes on Fragrantica, which claims that Charlie Pink is a juicy blend of red berries, tangerine, floral notes and vanilla. My actual opinion The original Charlie (the dark blue one, full of aldehydes and floral aromachemicals) was actually a cheap and cheerful workaday scent yet managed to successfully rub shoulders with quality fine fragrance. But times change, or maybe tastes do, and this one is pretty vile. It might have been a bad day for me or it might be that there is a distinct and random lack of affinity between my skin and Pink Charlie. But purely ...

Kylie Minogue Darling Eau de Toilette 23/03/2017

Was this my breakfast yoghurt?

Kylie Minogue Darling Eau de Toilette I accidentally bought a big lot of really cheap part-used fragrances on eBay. In all honesty it was based on a photo and the thing that enticed me was a bottle which looked like almost-full Beyond Paradise but on delivery proved to be a dupe of a the real thing called (wait!): Superior Woman. But as the name wasn't visible or listed in the description I got a lesson in trying to sneak a bargain. But it was all very cheap overall though so real no harm done, and I am planning to try and possibly review (if they have their categories here) every single one of them. So let's start at the quality end of the cheapie haul. Cheapie #1, distinguished by the fact that at least I have heard of it. The official pyramid: * Top Notes: Passionfruit Freesia Lychee * Middle Notes: Lily Boronia * Base Notes: Sandalwood Amber Vanilla It's described on Fragrantica as a ''fruity chypre'' but I don't know where the chypre is supposed to be here? No chypre structure here. But never mind that. Without prejudice and in order: My experience: It's interesting how individual notes are so easy to discern in Darling, while I have more problem with that in my usual smelly stuff. It opens with very clear passionfruit (unless it was my yoghurt I was eating at the time, but it seemed to stay when I left the table) and a bit of other tropical fruity sweet stuff, probably lychee. This is perfectly nice, though it would be sweet even for a bath product, never mind perfume. After a few minutes the ...

Giorgio Beverly Hills Giorgio Eau de Toilette 16/03/2017

Big white teeth and big wavy hair (Giorgio Beverly Hills Giorgio)

Giorgio Beverly Hills Giorgio Eau de Toilette It seems like many of the ''G'' fragrances are classics, or at least have been around for many years. This one is pretty famous, or rather infamous, for having been banned in some Californian restaurants in the 1980 due to its loudness and the fact that every Beverly Hills wannabe apparently wore it. I didn't grow up with this, and when an opportunity presented itself to buy it cheaply as an iconic fragrance ''for the collection'', I did. The GIST A huge tuberose-centred white floral that flashes its huge, perfectly white American teeth, sauntering into a room on high heels with huge wavy hair. The longer story It's funny how it's impossible to review some fragrances without the accompanying memes. Well, I DIDN'T grow up with this, my late teens and my late 1980's were marked by Opium, Kobako, Cafe and other mostly French loud orientals. So I approached this without prejudice when it was given to me as a gift mid-1990s by a friend who herself favoured Pleasures, Beautiful and Allure - the clean and somewhat buttoned up scents. I'm not sure if this was a comment on my style or behaviour, and I remember wearing it happily but without elation. This review is based on my more recent experience, though. Despite not having historical memories I did get influenced by the packaging (the pic here is all wrong). The box is stripy. A yellow and white zebra of a sun awning I guess. And then, a strangely old fashioned bottle, I suppose intending to evoke the Beverly Hills ...

Guerlain Shalimar Eau de Parfum 15/03/2017

Oriental fantasy (Guerlain Shalimar)

Guerlain Shalimar Eau de Parfum Shalimar is perhaps the most famous oriental fragrance of all, created by Jacques Guerlain of the venerable house of Guerlain as far back as 1925. I didn't know that, but apparently it was named after the favourite garden of Mumtaz Mahal, that legendary (actually, real, but with legendary status) beloved of the Mogul emperor Shahjahan, yes, the Taj Mahal one. But with all those Indian references, Shalimar is still a very much a product of European perfumery, and at its most lavish, created by artists and chemists alike who had at their disposal the library or natural materials and aromachemicals, and although reformulated several times in its nearly 100 years of existence, it still retains its magic and it still sells well and exerts the fascination. And it's a magic of an oriental fantasy rather than a genuine smell of the orient, but none the worse for this. I don't remember when I first tried Shalimar. Maybe some time in the 1990's, when I started to explore the classic Guerlains after a brief affair with the then modern and now rather hopelessly dated Samsara. But I have bought it and worn it on and off all those years and although never quite my obsession, it's remained a solid love object for more than twenty years. The Gist Sweet, long-lingering and very articulate old style oriental, noticeable but agreeable. Feminine without being girly or too maternal. Elegant in the silks and furs sense. An absolute classic, and still going strong. And excellent value for ...

Tangle Teezer Brush Original 13/03/2017

Close to life changing (Tangle Teezer Brush Original)

Tangle Teezer Brush Original Do you know these little things, usually to do with fixing a persistent niggle in your day to day life that's been gnawing at you with lesser or greater intensity for longer than you remember? Or fixing a problem that has recently appeared? Getting glasses for use while working (half strength to my normal distance prescription) is a good example, but I count buying a jacket that was BOTH waterproof and warm (I know!!!), replacing boots with worn treads with boots with new treads and buying winter tyres in the same category. You put on/apply/pick up that new thing and you thing ''gosh, this REALLY is making a difference''. So maybe stuff doesn't make you happy but it can certainly actively and effectively remove an awful lot of misery. And, perhaps on a lesser scale, this brush does the same. I have wavy to curly, fine, flyaway hair. A lot of it. It ties itself in knots and it hurts like hell when I brush it. Not using conditioner results in either a cross between crow's nest and afro or tears while brushing. I also live in a windy part of the world, usually go to bed with wet hair and don't spend much time grooming. Still, I like to brush my hair most days. I have tried detangling sprays (which kinda work but at cost of greasiness) and I tried ''detangling'' brushes. When my daughter (whose hair is thicker and wavy, not thin and curly-at-scalp-level) brought home one of these I was dubious. She encouraged me to try and it was a revelation. THE GIST Painless hair ...

Boucheron Boucheron Woman Eau de Parfum 12/03/2017

Opulent classic (Boucheron Boucheron)

Boucheron Boucheron Woman Eau de Parfum Long, long time ago in a country far to the east of here, at the time when we were just graduating from Max Factor's Le Jardin and select colours of Impulse body spray (mine was purple, with a tropical island) to Opium, Kobako, Paloma Picasso and Salavador Dali, my best friend had a brother who was a bit older and who had decided to give up studying medicine for a career in the newly emerging advertising industry of the newly emerging capitalism. He was very gay and unbearably cool and he bought the friend in question fragrances now and then. The one I remember the best was Boucheron. I remember approaching it, and smelling it, with absolute awe. When I saw that thirty years later Luca Turin listed it among the best-ever feminines, I decided to add it to the 1980s-excess reference section of my little collection and bought a vintage mini from someone in Lithuania who seems to have got access to old stock of miniatures which once belonged to one of the hard-currency-only stores behind the Iron Curtain, just like the ones we shopped at all those years ago. Dear reader, it arrived few days ago and it was just so. THE GIST Humongous oriental floral that manages to pull off the most excessive 1980's style excess while maintaining a certain style, class and - dare I say this - elegance - even if it's furs and gold kind of diva elegance. An opulent classic. The longer story The notes listed are: Top Notes: Lemon, Basil, Orange Blossom, Bergamot Heart Notes: Tuberose, ...

Goodyear UltraGrip 9 01/03/2017

Well gripped (Goodyear Ultragrip 9)

Goodyear UltraGrip 9 Where I originally come from, most people change tyres between winter and summer seasons as a matter of routine. When I originally came to the UK (many years ago now) and realised winter tyres were seen as some kind of specialised product that people confused with chains or studs, I was rather surprised, but I stuck to my guns regarding usefulness of winter tyres even in British weather, and it was good to see more and more people starting to use them over the years. We live in the far North-West now and although the temperatures rarely drop below zero at then sea level here, snow (and slush) on high roads is common, while water (LOADS of water) is pretty normal. Add to that the fact that I drive a lot on single track roads that are last in the queue for gritting and the need for winter tyres becomes obvious. What are winter tyres? Some people think of winter tyres as snow tyres, but in fact winter tyres are better thought of as ''colder and wet weather tyres''. They are made of softer rubber, which is better at staying flexible in low temperatures – that means below +7C and thus gives better grip and better braking performance. They also have deeper treads, and the surface of the tread blocks features jagged slits – called sipes. The former helps to channel water away and thus reduce the risk of aquaplaning and the latter creates extra grip on snow. The negative side of all that wonderful stuff is that winter tyres are, well, for winter. In higher temperatures they ...

Tory Burch Eau de Parfum 26/02/2017

Shower gel smell in a pretty bottle (Tory Burch EDP)

Tory Burch Eau de Parfum Another one among my recent bag of random blind buy of sample vials, I approached this one warily. First, what or who even IS Tory Burch? Second, it's kinda pinky orange gold in colour scheme, good in itself but possibly a modern-feminine (ie boring) in style? Third, on the Fragrantica site where I run to for data, there are body care products and make up in the pictures and in the marketing copy. It looked like the fragrance was a part of a co-ordinated line of products, not something created by a fashion or cosmetics company to shine on its own but merely an accessory of a collection or a brand. This didn't bode well for a fragrance that costs more than 60 GBP for a 50ml bottle -- even if the bottle is admittedly pretty, what with the washed out golds and oranges and the lattice top. Not that I was prejudiced in any way, though. It's all about the juice, really, so to the juice let us go. THE GIST Nice shampoo smell for a fine fragrance price. The rest of the story Completely opposite to the Versace Oud Oriental I reviewed just before this one, the very first sniff on my skin is pleasant, with the peppery citruses dominating. I am glad I tried it on skin because on paper it's horrible, really really horrible - not even a shampoo smell but washing up liquid smell. I get no, absolutely none of the currant buds. I love the smell of currant buds (and a freshly cut redcurrant branch has one of the most beguiling natural scents ever, someone should base a fragrance on ...

Atelier Cologne Bois Blonds Cologne Absolue 22/02/2017

Pretty pleasant (Atelier Cologne Bois Blonds)

Atelier Cologne Bois Blonds Cologne Absolue I'm going through my package of random samples one scent and one day at the time, as one does. Several of the vials were from Atelier Cologne, a company I didn't hear of before. They are, apparently, a new niche perfume house. It's difficult to work out if they are based in France or the US, but the fragrance style and the website copy style are very mid-Atlantic. Apparently, the creators of Atelier Cologne met in New York and fell in love over their shared passion for Eau de Cologne. Atelier Cologne, and the series of Cologne Absolues is a result of that love and passion. In the words of the website copy, creation of all Colognes Absolues starts with a story or powerful memory and an image. All Colognes Absolues are a moment in a bottle. They also officially retail at around 180 GBP per 200ml (this size implies a lot of splashing), and over 100 GBP per 50ml bottle. This is in the same price class for a fancy cologne (the lowest fragrance concentration) than, let's say, EDPs the genuine luxury products of the Omani fragrance house Amouage and or the dadaistic and whimsical but undoubtedly interesting creations of my favourite niche house Etat Libre d'Orange. So, the concept is pleasant. The prices are high. The individual context for each fragrance is provided by notes, by close-up mood-board type imagery and by a short written vignette. Now for the juice. One fun game the website offers is composing my fragrance wardrobe based on answers to mood-board type ...

Versace Oud Oriental Eau de Parfum 22/02/2017

Sadly better on paper (Versace Oud Oriental)

Versace Oud Oriental Eau de Parfum This came in a pice of fairly random samples which I bought because they seemed interesting and at least a few were of fragrance houses, never mind fragrances, that I have never heard of. THE GIST It doesn't quite work on my skin, but it's interesting and not bad at all, warm, woody but soft, with very noticeable oud and leather. Very worth testing. The rest From all this marketing gold I expected a sweet, heavy oriental, but the bitter oud notes and the tarry smoke of leather mask these well. I was also hoping for saffron, but alas no noticeable saffron for me in this composition. But in order. The perfumer's notes are: Top Notes: Rose Saffron Freesia Middle Notes: Patchouli Violet Heliotrope Base Notes: Agarwood (Oud) Leather Sandalwood Vanilla My actual experience was a bit different. On paper, this starts fresh but substantial and just a little flowery. However, I got none of that fresh flower on my skin where the fragrance settled immediately into a deep, slightly bitter oud/leather/woody accord with something that I would call a faint fenugreek note to avoid calling it a faint stockcube note. An hour later, the fenugreek bit is still not completely gone from my skin, while the paper strip is smelling lovely and etheral which must be the heliotrope/violet part kicking into action. Later on, the drydown proves to be the best part of the scent, as it probably should be with oud-ish orientals. On my skin it's pillowy, warm and velvety, with just a ...

Yves Rocher Quelques Notes d'Amour Eau de Parfum 21/02/2017

Inoffensively sweet (Quelques Notes d'Amour Yves Rocher)

Yves Rocher Quelques Notes d'Amour Eau de Parfum I am Skylightsmoke and I am a Yves Rocher addict. The whole process of ordering, the monthly-changing gifts, ''gifts'', offers and ''offers'', the waiting, the style of the whole thing so different from the equivalent Anglo brands - I don't even KNOW what an equivalent Anglo brand is, maybe Body Shop is close though Yves Rocher is bigger, older and doesn't have the pseudo-hippie roots. Price wise and because of the mail order/running-on-special-offers aspect it's close to Avon but while Avon makes me think of American soccer moms with wavy blonde hair, secretly downing Valium while counting carbs, Yves Rocher evokes a picture of a French maman only a little fixated on organic foods for the bebe and homoeopathic remedies for cellulite but overall much less unhinged. I do love Yves Rocher's shower gels though, while their skincare, when bought on offer, is very decent. But the best thing about Yves Rocher is its absolute unpredictability and the quality and style that varies from Boots' own brand to nearly-top. Before you rate this as off-topic, bear with me, I promise I am getting to the point. Fragrance wise, their offer varies from cheap fruity/flowery body sprays to proper perfumes. Historically, Yves Rocher were responsible for some impressive scents, with Venise (1986) and Ispahan (1977) among the memorable and affordable orientals, and the more recent Secrets d’Essences series offering some pretty decent attempts at fine fragrance. So, one never knows what one is ...

Azzaro pour Homme Eau de Toilette 17/02/2017

Barbershop classic (Azzaro pour Homme)

Azzaro pour Homme Eau de Toilette I don't care much for the masculine/feminine designations of fragrance and as many classic masculines are relatively cheap, I do try and use them now and then. This one came as a 7ml vintage(ish) mini and I found myself actually using it few times on days when I couldn't decide on any of the feminines. THE GIST An archetypal masculine barbershop fragrance, with citrus, lavender and assorted greenery on a mossy bed of amber and musk. Wear ironically and with delight. The longer story Fougère is a name for a fragrance style - one that's usually considered to be and sold as a masculine - which combines lavender and the hay/tobacco notes of coumarin. These come in a vast array of specific flavours, particularly as armoatic fougères with added depth, interest and spice. The name means roughly fernish in French and fougères are always pretty green indeed. They don't (usually) smell of ferns, but evoke the idea of the verdant undergrowth. And in the vast kingdom of Aromatic Fougères, Azzaro Pour Homme, launched all the way back in 1978 and still extant, is one of the indubitable crown princes, probably the Jack of Spades, perhaps past his first flush of youth but still exuding easy confidence and slightly brooding charm, all brown eyes, chiselled features, long stride, the shirt half-undone. The official notes here are as follows: Top Notes Lavender, Geranium, Anise, Petitgrain Heart Notes Vetiver, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Oakmoss, Cardamom, Basil, Lemon Base notes Musk, ...
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