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Madonna turns 60 today – Happy Birthday, HRH Madonna! To celebrate, I thought I would resurrect my much-loved ‘Scent a Celebrity Series’, in which I ‘scent’ (pick fragrances for) some of my favourite celebrities. So let’s jump right back in with none other than the Queen of Pop!

Madonna; no other name is more instantly recognisable and no person is more likely to divide opinion. Arguably the most famous woman on the planet and factually the best selling female recording artist of all time, Madonna is a force that is hard to define; singer, dancer, performer, entertainer, provocateur, feminist, business woman, calculating she-devil – love her or hate her, whatever moniker you throw at her will most likely apply. She has done what many other icons fail to do – achieve longevity and on her 60th birthday, we celebrate her phenomenal four decades in music.

The fascinating thing about Madonna is that her ratio of talent to fame is perhaps slightly off balance. She’s not the greatest singer or dancer in the world, or even the best looking, but she has that je ne sais quoi that makes a person a star – the x factor, as they call it. Some say that she’s just a good business woman and I’m sure she is but that does not make for such longevity. By pushing people’s buttons and having something to say (and saying it well) Madonna has ensured that she is more than a just a star, she’s that rare commodity: an icon.

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Speed Sniffs are a way to bring you ‘to-the-point’ fragrance reviews that are quick and easy to digest. They are perfume reviews without the faff.

The MUGLER Eau de Toilettes for ANGEL, ALIEN, and now AURA are almost like diet versions of the originals. The structure is still there but they have been lightened in a sense, making them zero-calorie, palatable options that are a little bit easier to get on with. Now I’m here for the full fat, calorie-laden versions at all times, but sometimes one wants a little bit of lightness and clarity. Every now and then, maybe? OK, OK, once in a blue moon then!

Following the success of AURA, MUGLER’S first feminine pillar since 2010’s WOMANITY (poor, doomed WOMANITY), MUGLER have launched an Eau de Toilette version – a yin to the Eau de Parfums yang. They describe it as “a new aromatic interpretation of colourful, glowing freshness”. Or as I’d put it, if AURA EDP is a lush rainforest filled with stifling, scented air, AURA EDT is a fine mist of rain that breezes through said forest. They are of the same place but they are not of the same weight.

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I think it’s been a long time since I’ve fallen for a new Serge Lutens fragrance. Perhaps it was La Religieuse in 2015 or La Fille de Berlin in 2013, I can’t remember, but I know it has been a while! I adore many of his back catalogue greats (especially L’Eau Froide, Tubereuse Criminelle, Sarrasins, Iris Silver Mist, Feminite du Bois, and Fleurs d’Oranger) but many of the new ones have failed to resonate. There have been interesting elements to his fragrances of late, but it seems that he has moved away from the dense orientalism and fleur fatale inspirations of his past, opting for yet more abstraction in fragrances that don’t really make as much of a mark.

Well, I am pleased to say that Lutens’ ‘meh’ streak has come to an end with the latest addition to Collection Noire (the most widely available Lutens collection): Le Participe Passè (The Past Participle). In the usual Lutens way, the perfume is presented with little information other than a riddle that is difficult to decode, with Lutens only telling us this: “past moments that surge into the present have many scents. I have interpreted that which most evokes the past.” Thanks for that, Serge – real helpful! Anyway, this new scent is more than a riddle or a description, it’s something much more than that – Le Participe Passè is quite the spectacle.

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The simple elegance of a decent eau de cologne is one of the greatest things in the whole of perfumery. That tension between citrus, flowers and herbs (and now in modern times, musks) is a sparkling tonic when the mercury rises. In fact, the purity of a good eau de cologne transcends seasons and can be the perfect thing to wear at any time and on any occasion. To put it simply, when eau de colognes are good, they’re very good, and even when they’re bad they’re still pretty good!

One cologne that really struck a chord with me recently was the latest launch from Givenchy: ‘Eau de Givenchy’. Inspired by Hubert de Givenchy’s gardens in the South of France, Eau de Givenchy is a modern reinterpretation of a Givenchy fragrance of the same name that launched in 1980. François Demachy is the man behind this new scent and he has penned a contemporary eau de cologne that presents, as Givenchy puts it, “a moment of freshness suspended in time that feels like it could last forever.” Well, that’s quite the promise – let’s see if Eau de Givenchy delivers…