Urban Downpours – Jo Malone Rain & Angelica and Black Cedarwood & Juniper Perfume Reviews

London Rain

London Rain

I love the rain. There’s something about gloomy black skies and relentless downpours that appeal to my melancholic side. It’s fun too and as kids, my sister and I would often play outside in the rain until we were soaked through to the bone. We revelled in the burning cold of the open heavens and gorged on the smell of petrichor like greedy gremlins, fuelled by the most ancient and fundamental of elements. We also had fun splashing and throwing mud at each other, of course.

British perfume house Jo Malone appears to love the rain too, so much so in fact that they have launched a selection of four colognes (three new and one old) as part of their limited edition London Rain collection. Their take on rain is altogether more sanitised that my sister and I making mud pies though, focusing instead on the purifying and almost cinematic elements of rain within an urban landscape, celebrating it as a key part of London life. As the brand says; “what could be more British than London rain?”

“This collection is intensely urban whilst harnessing the power of nature in the city; drenched blooms, savage rainstorms battering the parks, the torrential drumbeat pelting the pavements. And the scents that rise from nature’s outburst, refreshing city life, making everything seem brand new.”

Created by perfumer Christine Nagel (Etat Libre d’Orange’s Archives 69, Versace Woman and Giorgio Armani’s Si) the London Rain collection consists of; Rain & Angelica, Wisteria & Violet, Black Cedarwood & Juniper and White Jasmine & Mint (originally launched in 2007). Each cologne captures “the different moods of a downpour”, ranging from the aquatic to the spicy and casting the idea of urban rain in a variety of watery shades.

In this review I’ll be taking a look at two perfumes in the collection – Rain & Angelica and Black Cedarwood & Juniper. The former represents morning rain over London’s green spaces, whilst the latter is a moodier affair that captures evening rain dashing against the city’s jungle of buildings and pavements. Together they demonstrate how a single idea can be presented in a number of guises, displaying familiar aquatic notes in new and intriguing ways.

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The Elusive Gardenia – The Body Shop English Dawn White Gardenia Perfume Review

English Dawn White Gardenia

English Dawn White Gardenia

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – The Body Shop create decent and easy to wear perfumes at a phenomenally good price. They don’t perhaps approach the art of olfaction with as much gusto as their high street competitors Lush do, but they do know how to put together an enjoyable fragrance that doesn’t blow your socks off or your wallet up. In a world where many expensive perfumes aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, this is a refreshing quality to have.

That said, The Body Shop doesn’t always get it right and their latest launch ‘English Dawn White Gardenia‘ is one such occasion (I’ve given the game away here, haven’t I?). Created to capture “the bouquet of hundreds of White Gardenia petals blowing gently in the first light of dawn”, this limited edition spring fragrance joins The Body Shop’s Voyage Fragrance Collection – a series of perfumes that take one on a whistle stop tour of the world via the medium of scent.

Capturing the hedonistic scent of the gardenia is a pretty tricky feat, especially seeing as the flower itself is incredibly elusive when it comes to giving up its scent. Most fragrances that boast ‘gardenia’ as a note are reconstructions – olfactory jigsaw puzzles that piece together the flower’s most distinctive scent with a number of floral notes and crafty raw materials. Very few perfumes actually achieve the full gardenia effect (so far I’ve only come across Estée Lauder’s Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia and Arquiste’s Boutonnière No. 7 that manage it), so the big question is - does The Body Shop succeed in achieving gardenia photorealism?

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Spring Couture – Christian Dior Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet Perfume Review

Spring Couture

Spring Couture

Spring is here and that means it’s time to break out those springtime floral fragrances. OK, I know that I need no excuse to rock a floral fragrance and will do so all year round (why the heck not, right?) but for those of you who like to stick to a more seasonal fragrance wardrobe then now is the time for flowers. And what a wonderful time it is – the sun is shining (most of the time), the flowers are growing and the bees are buzzing – all of which can be accented by the expert application of a spring floral.

For this spring, venerable fashion house Christian Dior is launching a more floral version of their popular flagship fragrance Miss Dior (formerly known as Miss Dior Chérie and a completely separate fragrance from 1947′s Miss Dior which is now known as ‘Miss Dior Originale‘ – got that?). The perfume is called Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet, a spring floral that is billed by Dior as being more “delicate and light” than the original.

Dior’s in-house perfumer François Demachy describes Blooming Bouquet as being “like a springtime bouquet with a hint of elegant and light woody notes” making for a composition that ensures that “Miss Dior keeps her promise of love”. That’s a pretty apt description as far as I am concerned, however I would concede that Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet is much more of a floral musk than it is a woody floral. But in terms of being perfect for the spring season, this bouquet is absolutely spot on.

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Solar Flare – Thierry Mugler Alien Eau Extraordinaire Perfume Review

Alien Eau Extraordinaire

Alien Eau Extraordinaire

My love of Thierry Mugler’s Alien, and all things Mugler in fact, is widely known. I just cannot help myself when it comes to the weird, wacky and über glamorous creations that come straight from Muglerville – they resonate deep within my soul, awaking the hidden Glamazon inside of me. So I do feel very excited when I hear that the brand is launching a brand new fragrance, especially if aforementioned scent it is to be a close cousin of my most beloved Alien.

Mugler’s latest launch is exactly that - Alien Eau Extraordinaire – a lighter take on the the brashness of Alien, that reportedly “accentuates incandescent freshness” and amps up the scent’s brighter citrus notes. Alien, whilst being a foghorn of a scent (a beautiful foghorn, of course), did display an impressively fresh citrus facet worthy of further exploration, so it is with great interest that I approached this entirely more luminous creation.

Created by perfumer Dominique Ropion who, along with Laurent Bruyere, was responsible for the original, Alien Eau Extraordinaire is a stand alone fragrance described by Mugler as being “charged with a positive energy” and “combining a blend of notes known for their uplifting, energising powers with the unique signature of Alien to convey a feeling of happiness and serenity for all women”. That all sounds rather promising, if you ask me!

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Shrink Wrapped Roses – Balenciaga Rosabotanica Perfume Review

Rosabotanica

Kristen Stewart Looking Like She’s Having a Wonderful Time, As Always…

I have definitely tried Balenciaga’s Florabotanica but for the life of me I cannot remember how I felt about it. The bottle is gorgeous so I’m pretty sure that I recall being impressed to some degree, but that’s about as far as my recollection goes. Perhaps I was put off by spokesfaceperson Kristen Stewart (there really is only so much of her looking bored that I can take) or maybe the scent was nice but nothing noteworthy (that sounds more like it). Whatever the reasons, Florabotanica failed to make an impression.

Florabotanica’s first flanker ‘Rosabotanica‘ however (we’re going to get a whole slew of these aren’t we? I reckon it’ll be ‘Jasmabotanica’ next), is definitely more memorable and noteworthy and comes as a complete surprise for a brand that always makes high quality stuff but doesn’t always push the boat out artistically speaking. Rosabotanica certainly changes the game in that respect.

Launched in late 2013, Rosabotanica was created by perfumers Olivier Polge (Florabotanica, Dior Homme and Viktor & Rolf’s Spicebomb) and Jean-Christophe Hérault (Florabotanica and Comme des Garçons’ Amazingreen) as “the second flower in Balenciaga’s magical garden”. ‘Magical’ is indeed the right word for it as this second botanical scent takes the idea of flowers into unique, unusual and positively futuristic territory.

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Eau de Ladurée – Nina Ricci La Tentation de Nina Perfume Review

Le Tentation de Nina

La Tentation de Nina

One of the perfumes I have been very much looking forward to (read: lusting after like a geeky fan boy) since I heard about its impending launch towards the end of 2013 is ‘La Tentation de Nina‘ by Nina Ricci. “Why?” I hear you ask, well the answer is simple: this is a perfume inspired by a special macaron made by Ladurée. I love macarons (although I’d take an Ispahan over these little treats any day), I love Ladurée and I love perfume – a match made in heaven, I feel.

Created by Olivier Cresp (Nina Ricci’s Nina with Jacques Cavallier and Mugler’s Angel with Yves de Chiris) in partnership with Ladurée’s Head Pastry Chef Vincent Lemains – La Tentation de Nina is a perfume evocative of the most trendy meringue-based confection in the world. The brand bill this partnership and creation as a “playful mirroring of the sense” where a perfume and macaron take inspiration from each other, coming together to create “the ultimate temptation.” But does it live up to expectations? Well the short answer to that question is ‘sort of’…

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Dark Lady – CREED Love in Black Perfume Review

Dark Lady

Dark Lady

I have a turbulent relationship with the house of CREED. They are definitely on the pricey side for what they are and their quality can be a bit hit or miss, but it would be unfair to say that none of their scents are worth seeking out. In fact, I can name at least four that are sniff worthy (Virgin Island Water, Silver Mountain Water, Millesime Imperial and Green Irish Tweed) so, as much as they may not be my favourite of brands, I’m still very much willing to give them the time of day, but have always approached them with a wary step.

One particular CREED perfume that sticks out for me is Love in Black – a scent that I like to call ‘Dark Lady’ as it presents an intriguing, feminine and unexpected representation of the colour black. It’s also a perfume that really does take awhile to ‘get’ due to its striking take on violet and iris – two ingredients often used to represent beauty, but in this perfume are added to give the impression of something beautifully unconventional.

Love in Black was launched in 2008 and was inspired by former US first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (or Jackie O as she was more commonly known) and is a far cry from the clean blooms of its sister scent Love in White. CREED describe the fragrance as a “lush floral oriental”, but in my mind it is more of a black swan of a scent (funnily enough the brand uses this imagery) that plays on the contrasting facets of a modern and powerful woman.

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Violet Tobacco – Byredo Black Saffron Perfume Review

Byredo Black Saffron

Black Saffron by Byredo

Anyone who has been within an inch of this blog or my Twitter feed will know that my latest obsession is Byredo’s 1996. Never before has a perfume so quickly made its merry little way up to the very top of my wish list, leaving me drooling and lusting after it so badly that my long-suffering partner had no choice but to gift me a bottle for Christmas. For his sanity you understand?

So yes, I was very pleased with my bottle of 1996 and even more so when I found a little sample of a Byredo scent I’ve not smelled accompanying it – Black Saffron. Launched in 2012, this supposedly dark take on saffron, where the golden spice is merged with violet and leather to create something entirely unexpected, is a rather interesting scent indeed. Byredo describe the inspirations behind it as follows:

“Saffron is holy to all Hindus, is the colour of Buddhist robes and has become a symbol for India. It has always been a part of Byredo’s founders upbringing in both smell, taste and colour. Black Saffron is a fragrance inspired by this very idea of sublime unity.”

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Scorched Petals – The Body Shop White Musk Smoky Rose Eau de Toilette Perfume Review

White Musk Smoky Rose

White Musk Smoky Rose

When it comes to decent fragrance at an equally decent price, one really cannot go wrong with The Body Shop. Admittedly their perfume output isn’t anywhere near as artistic or exciting as that found within the stores of their rival Lush (Gorilla Perfume really is very good), but it cannot be denied that, for the most part, The Body Shop creates things that smell nice and won’t require anybody to sell any kidneys on eBay to fund – and in this world of hyper-luxe niche brands, that’s pretty refreshing.

Perhaps the most enjoyable and iconic perfume The Body Shop has to offer is White Musk. Originally launched in 1981, White Musk has been a cheap staple for those who want a good everyday scent without breaking the bank or demanding too much attention. I’m a big fan of the White Musk Oil, which is great for those days where one just wants something lovely and incognito, but the scent in all of its many incarnations is a worthy take on ephemeral musk.

In continuation of the White Musk narrative, The Body Shop has launched White Musk Smoky Rose – a perfume that is meant to be a more sultry and seductive take on the 1981 classic suitable for evening wear. The perfume was created by Sophie Labbé of IFF and is billed as “a darkly seductive, floriental evening scent”. So is this TBS’s ‘Noir Musk’ (a truly dark perfume) or is it just another White Musk flanker? The answer is neither.

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What’s It All About, Anyway? – Juliette Has a Gun Anyway Perfume Review

What's it All About, Anyway?

What’s it All About, Anyway?

I don’t understand Juliette Has a Gun. They started out as a rebellious niche brand boasting a number of intriguing fragrances evoking the spirit of fierce women with daring characters (scents such as Calamity J and Lady Vengeance) – all at designer prices. But with the brand’s most recent launches it seems that Juliette has lost her nerve and decided to throw away the pistol that made her so spunky and dangerous.

This decline in boldness can be seen in the increasing lack of ingenuity in scents such as Mad Madame (a collage of just about every scent in the line) and Not a Perfume (at least they got the name right with this one), both of which felt very safe and not in keeping with the punky spirit of the brand. An over reliance on ambroxan has also ensured that these new offerings are all very similar in both odour and style.

The brand’s latest fragrance ‘Anyway‘ runs very much along the same lines as its recent stable mates and presents an airy, relaxed style of perfume that tries its absolute best not to offend or make an impression. The brand proclaim it to be a “simple and original formula” boasting “only fifteen ingredients” – a fragrance that has been designed to be a signature scent and anything but “anonymous”.

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