The Eau de Cologne Edit
The Eau de Cologne Edit

Here in the bonny isles of the United Kingdom, the weather is flirting with us. For the last couple of weeks, Mother Nature has been coquettishly winking at us, flashing days of sunlight and pure bliss on to these green and pleasant lands. Of course, we’re in that definite transitionary period between seasons. Spring is here, and Summer is waiting in the wings, but the cold and grey of winter is persistent on some days, meaning that the weather’s dalliance with summer love hasn’t quite taken hold – but soon, it will.

I don’t know about you, but these short flashes of summer and glimpses of warmth, and vitamin-enriched days of halcyon make me reach for the lighter things in my fragrance wardrobe (and there are some hidden amongst my show-stopping sillage bombs, as hard as that may be to believe). At this time one craves bracing citrus, the sweet headiness of flowers and the airiness of musk, all of which lead one to think of one perfume genre in particular, a genre that is one of the industry’s oldest and most classic styles – the humble Eau de Cologne.

Eau de Colognes speak of lighter, fresher and more vibrant signatures. They are lighter, usually boasting a concentration between 2%-5% and utilise fresh citrus notes (mandarin, lemon and bergamot etc.) alongside herbs (rosemary and thyme) and florals (neroli, lavender, jasmine, orange blossom). The Eau de Cologne is ephemeral and designed to be splashed on at multiple times throughout the day in order to re-awaken, revitalise and refresh the sense. In short, they are an olfactory jolt to the system.

To celebrate the changing of the seasons, I’ve collected together six of my favourite Eau de Colognes for your reading pleasure. They range from the classics, which really are light and traditional, to more modern and contemporary twists on the genre, that manage to smell both unique and long-lasting. So brace yourself, folks, for ‘The Eau de Cologne Edit’ – six scents that will get your nose positively aching for summer.

Some Fragrant Alternatives to Real Roses, Chocolates and Plushies
Some Fragrant Alternatives to Real Roses, Chocolates and Plushies

It’s Mother’s Day in the UK this Sunday, which means that we’ll all be setting some time aside to celebrate the most special ladies in our lives – our mums, or mother figures. It’s important to shower these wonderful women with cards, gifts and love just to show them how blooming great they are. After all, where would we be without them? They are the guiding lights in our lives and play a massive part in shaping us in to the lovely beings we are today. So yes, they deserve lots of love and recognition.

At this time of year I often dedicate my Escentual column to a Mother’s Day Gift Guide, and this year is no different. For 2015 I’ve opted to focus on three perfumes that represent the most clichéd of Mother’s Day gifts – roses, chocolate and cuddly toys. Within my guide, which you can access by clicking here, you will find a selection of suitably satisfying scented gifts for that most special of ladies, whether she be about flowers, food or fluff, or all of the above.

The Candies 2014
The Candies 2014: The Very Best and The Very Worst Perfumes of the Year

Wow, what a whirlwind of a year 2014 was. The perfume industry has, as always, been nothing short of prolific in its output, with new brands popping up all over the place and the same big names releasing perfume upon perfume, and flanker upon flanker. It has, once again been a very busy year, and the hive of activity within the industry has meant that a great number of wonderful new olfactory treats have been unleashed on the noses of perfume lovers and consumers.

For me, this year has been one of great personal significance. In March I won my first Jasmine Award for my Guide to Violet, and shortly after in May, my best buddy and I tied the knot, only a few days before I presented an award at the Fragrance Foundation Awards. Then in August I was promoted at work, and in September my new husband and I headed off to Tokyo for the honeymoon of a lifetime. In short, it has been a fantastic year and one that will always remain truly in my heart as one of the very best.

To celebrate 2014 from a fragrant perspective, I present to you ‘The Candies 2014’. Those of you who have followed The Candies before will know that they are my annual perfume awards, celebrating the very best, and the very worst perfumes of the year (out of the 147 scents I have reviewed in 2014). Under the jump you will find the winners, losers and honourable mentions filed under neat little categories. So please, don your tux or ball down, break open the Bolly and take your seats for The Candies 2014.

[Also, please don’t forget to head on over to my dear perfume pals, Persolaise and Perfume Shrine, who are both joining me in sharing their ‘best of’ lists today.]

Last Minute Gift Guide
Last Minute Gift Guide

In life, I take a ‘leave it all to the last minute and hope for the best’ approach. Organisation is not my strong suit, and it is most definitely true that I work best under pressure. It will serve as no surprise then, that I haven’t quite completed my Christmas shopping yet, and yes, I’m well aware that it is exactly one week until Santa pays his annual visit. What can I say? I’ve just been busy with other things.

To help myself, and those around me who are also last-minute sort-of-folk, I’ve prepped a ‘Last Minute Gift Guide’ for my Escentual column this week. In this guide you will find; handy stocking stuffers for him and her, mid-range marvels and even big ticket splurges that will wow your recipient, even if they do depress your bank balance slightly. So, if you’re still looking for that one last gift, or just fancy a treat for yourself after being so wonderfully generous to everyone else, click here to check out my last-minute Christmas gift guide.

The Prettiness of Rose - Acqua di Parma Rosa Nobile
The Prettiness of Rose – Acqua di Parma Rosa Nobile

A few weeks back I reviewed Essence Nº1: Rose, one of the latest fragrances from Elie Saab and by all accounts a beautifully gourmand take on the humble rose. I love rose, in perfume and in pretty much everything else, and I admire the fact that one flower can be used so diversely, due mainly to the man wonderful nuances it displays as a material. It’s a true fact that not all roses are the same, and for every gourmand rose there’s an oriental rose or a photorealistic one, or even a ton of oud-soaked roses, creating a wide range of olfactory signatures that stem from one flower. The humble rose is anything if not impressive in this respect.

If Elie’s Saab new creation celebrates the gourmand facets of the rose, Rosa Nobile, the latest launch from Acqua di Parma, honours the beauty of rose in a simple, yet utterly satisfying manner. Rosa Nobile is an olfactory performance that celebrates the prettiness of rose in a dance of purity and simplicity. It speaks in pastel shades of pink and with a lightness of touch that is almost coy, but most of all, serves as an incredibly beautiful take on the queen of flowers.

“Strolling in the shade of centuries-old trees, among lodges and staircases, a sensuous fragrance drifts – the strong notes of the rose. Its scent forms part of Italy’s noble gardens which, like a queen, it pervades with natural elegance. Acqua di Parma takes their unequalled charm to give life to an Eau de Parfum introducing new touches into the universe of Le Nobili, a collection of women’s fragrances inspired by the most beautiful flowers of exclusive and private Italian gardens, where art and beauty blend in perfect balance. Each one a unique fragrance, selected for its noble femininity, for its fine perfumed essence, and for its quality. Compositions designed by Acqua di Parma using precious ingredients. Each one is unforgettable. Iris, Magnolia, Gelsomino and the new Rosa Nobile.”

– Acqua di Parma

Blu Mediterraneo: A Vibrant Taste of Italy

Up until very recently, Acqua di Parma’s Blu Mediterraneo collection came under the category of things that I had sniffed in passing but had never paid too much attention to. Quite unfairly, I might add. A few weeks ago my friends at Escentual sent me some samples of the line to try and I must admit that I was really impressed with the quality and diversity of fragrances within the collection. Smelling them really does take one away to the sights, smells and sounds of the mediterranean.

For my column this week, I have reviewed each of the six fragrances in the Blu Mediterraneo collection, including the brand new addition – a bracing take on the note of Sardinian juniper entitled ‘Ginepro di Sardegna‘. So if you fancy a little olfactory trip to the seas, skies and smellscapes of Italy then please click here to head on over to Escentual to discover Acqua di Parma’s Blu Mediterraneo. If you tried the perfumes, don’t forget to let me know your thoughts!

Acqua di Parma Colonia, Colonia Asoluta, Colonia Essenza and Colonia Intensa Reviews

January may not be the month in which one spritzes on a light cologne, but it is a good time to dream of summer, and what better summers to lust after than those spent in the Italian countryside? One brand that perfectly captures the essence and sophistication of Italy is Acqua di Parma and they have four Eau de Colognes in their stable; Colonia, Colonia Assoluta, Colonia Essenza and Colonia Intensa, all of which I’ve reviewed on the Escentual blog for your pleasure today.

What’s more, Escentual are having a little giveaway where you can win a 100ml spray bottle of Colonia (the original), plus a signature bath coffret including Colonia Bath and Shower Gel, Hair Conditioner and Body Lotion (40ml each). All you have to do is head over to the Escentual blog by clicking the image above, letting me know how you take your ‘Colonia’.