4160 Tuesdays – Captured by Candlelight

A rush of fruitcake and booze, like opening the tin of a christmas cake that has been fed brandy since October. An almost sooty, oily, nutty  mid section. Then there is dried fruit like plums and cake again close to the skin. Very warm and comforting.


Annick Goutal – L’Ile au The

Buying a bottle of citrus green tea from a vending machine in Japan. Walking through the trees along a road paved with stones, blossoms on the branches. Possibly a slight spike of fresh sweat.

Unisex, fresh, calming, uplifting.


Atkinsons – Rose in Wonderland

Big, dew heavy pink roses planted in damp earth. A sweet sharpness like redcurrant jelly.  Straddles the line between jammy and fresh for the rose.

It’s a pink velvet wrap with a satin lining.  It has a touch of luxury  but not eye (or nose) catching-ly special or unconventional. You would walk past someone wearing this and think they smelled pleasant, but there is nothing to make you stop and talk to them.


Agonist – No 10 White Oud

I’ve loved Oud based fragrances since I smelled Tom Ford’s Oud Wood in Nordstom’s in Las Vegas (it’s what winners buy apparently).  I love the medicinal nature of it, but then I’m someone who drinks root beer so I know I’m not normal!

Agonist – No 10 White Oud is something different. I CANNOT FIND ANY OUD! It’s a contradictory fragrance, the contradiction starting at the name.

Lily of the Valley, rose, patchouli and a spicy woody note. White musk undercurrent.

A perfect fragrance for someone who loves florals but wants something a little more dangerous on an evening. In my mind it’s the pale blue light you get on a snowfield on a cloudy day.


L’artisan Parfumeur – Passage d’Enfer

Lilies, dry cold stone. Church incense from yesterday’s service. Maybe some wood. Reminds me of sitting in the quiet church waiting for confession. The curtains on the booth were of dark red velvet and that is all I can think of. Maybe not a passage to hell, but definitely a place of devotion.

Something quite dark, with a light touch.

Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice

Nouvelle Vague – Bela Lugosi’s Dead


Wakeup call, for my nose and the blog

Perfume Society Logo

This blog has become a lonesome place mainly because I wasn’t happy with the quality of my writing. I also felt like a fraud writing about perfume as I wasn’t an expert and couldn’t tell my jasmine from my freesia.

Very recently I went to a workshop given by one of the founders of The Perfume Society, Jo Fairley. It was called ‘Improve your sense of smell’ and boy was it interesting. Jo said that smell is our ‘Cinderella’ sense, and we don’t respect it, and the only way to improve it was to smell things regularly and write about the experience. It’s a different approach, rather than getting hung up on the precision of the ingredients, instead to consider what we feel and remember when smelling the scent. A perfume may make you think of  a place, a person, a piece of music or a type of fabric and these impressions are your own personal take on the fragrance itself.

The Perfume Society produce regular boxes of samples which are available to both subscribers and non-subscribers. They generally consist of 8 or so  official samples (usually the small atomizer ones rather than the dippy stick ), a book of blotters to test the perfume on and a bonus other item such as a hand cream or nail varnish. The boxes usually mix the normal designer perfumes and more niche perfumeries. Why would I pay for samples rather than walk around a department store and spray or look hangdog until they had out a sample? Well, I certainly don’t have the skills at getting samples from department stores counters (Is there a secret handshake? Did I miss a memo?) and for me testing a fragrance in a perfume hall is akin to to trying to listen to radio at a rock concert. Of course I could be very clever and spray onto a card, and have a pen so I can make a note of the perfume, but that’s way too organised.

So I’m re-purposing the blog to write down my impressions. In fact, I considered using twitter as by nature my descriptions are quite brief, but by the time I’ve written out the perfume house and the name of the fragrance I barely had space to write anything. There will be very few pictures on this blog as it’s mainly going to be written on my tablet while I sniff the pre-sprayed blotter/spill which has had at least a couple of hours to rest.

Tom Ford – Sahara Noir


Price: £100 for 50 ml
Availability: Wherever you can buy Tom Ford, I tried this at a Duty Free. BA are currently selling it as part of the on-board duty free service.

I’ve got to admit it, I feel a bit like the child in the Emperor’s New Clothes fairytale about Tom Ford. Not that some of his products aren’t wonderful (Get Lippie has managed to convince me that the cosmetics are a thing of joy), but sometimes his products misfire, and I feel that not enough people actually say it. Some of his perfumes are a thing of joy, I love Oud Wood, Neroli Portofino would be a great fragrance if it actually lasted longer than 10 minutes on my skin making it terrible value.
Sahara Noir is a strange perfume. When you apply it you get a strong medicinal clove smell, which is shortly joined by a church incense smell (probably frankincense). At this point I was less than enamoured, as who wants to smell like a granny wearing tiger balm to Catholic Mass? However as it settles the notes swap – the incense comes into the foreground and the medicinal smell becomes a much fainter undercurrent.  I’m not sure however whether these notes actually say ‘Sahara’ to me? I’ve never been to the Sahara, but for me it would be the smell of hot sand, herbal scrub bushes and maybe tea served in the tents of the nomads (this is based on a trip to Jordan, I admit it’s a different region).  I sprayed this in Manchester Airport, at the start of a long day travelling. By the time I got to Heathrow this was all I could smell, to the point where I was starting to get a headache. By the time I’d boarded my next plane onwards and been stuck on the tarmac for an hour, the scent was still strong, and I could smell it even without moving my arm close to my face. I had to scrub it off in the end, to try and stop the headache and also because I was really feeling sorry for the Italian bloke sat next to me.
The packaging is very good, it is a gold coloured bottle the same shape as the one for Jasmine Noir.  The lid of the bottle has a wonderful firm snap into place that reminds me of a lipstick. Would I  buy this? Probably not – there are a lot incense based scents out there, and hopefully they won’t have the medicinal undercurrent.

Yardley – Royal English Daisy


Price: RRP £9.99 but there are regular offers on this fragrance and others on Yardley’s website.
Complimentary products such as body spray, body lotion and shower gel available.

Yardley were formed in 1770 and have quite an old fashioned reputation in the UK, and I hate to say this, the ‘wrong’ sort of old fashioned brand (compare and contrast to Penhaligons for example) probably because of their mass market appeal and easy availability. They are best known for their single note fragrances such as Lavender, Rose, the old style packaging and the fact that you can just picture the bars of soap in your Gran’s bathroom. I was introduced to the ‘new’ Yardley by the inclusion of the shower gel for this fragrance in my Birchbox. The fragrance was launched in 2011, as part of their changes to bring Yardley to a younger market.

Now, based on a little bit of research – the daisies in my garden don’t actually smell of anything. So what does Yardley’s interpretation of daisy smell like? The fragrance opens with the fresh green crunch of a just bitten granny smith apple, and turns into a meadow floral (they claim hyacinth and white rose). The end of the fragrance is a light floral musk on me. It wears pretty close to the body, and lasts for up to 4 hours. However, at the bargain price you can afford to apply it again at lunchtime.

I bought my bottle via the Yardley website, which will ship to the UK. The product is also available on the high street at branches of Boots and other pharmacies.