Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Yves Rocher - Yria, Another Killer Cheapy & A Reader's Giveaway

Once again I’m writing about an Yves Rocher scent in the context of ‘killer cheapy’. I really don’t know how this company continue to make a profit as they sell superb quality fragrances, full of natural botanical ingredients, all ethically sourced and produced without skanking anyone in a far off land.

And they smell great.

One of the 55 hectares of fields farmed by Yves Rocher in France

The curious thing is that when you sign up to their website and start ordering, you receive increasingly tempting emails with offers that you cannot ignore. The more you order, the better the offers become. A few days ago, I received an email telling me that I could have ANYTHING free if I spent £15 on other products. Predictably, I went straight on to the website and put one of my favourite Yves Rocher scents (the dry incense and resinous oriental - Voile D’ Ambre) into the web-basket (value £49) and then added £15 worth of toiletries to make up the order. I’m going to buy shower gel and body lotions anyway so this basically means I have a free bottle of very pleasing perfume. I already have a nearly full bottle so this one can live under the bed in the fume crèche until the inevitable discontinuation occurs as seems to happen frequently.

My mum has a kitchen cupboard that I call her ‘nuclear winter’ cupboard. This is stocked with an endless supply of cans of Ambrosia Devon Custard. The excessive amount of custard is due to the fact she bulk buys it when it’s on offer at Morrison’s. She consumes it with wild abandon. She is a custard tart.

Should a nuclear crisis occur in Manchester, I shall be perfuming the contaminated shower water supply with my abundant collection of Yves Rocher’s almond and lily of the valley scented delights until my limbs begin to drop off or I mutate into a zombie.

I’m waffling. It’s because I’m always a bit overwhelmed in the face of a massive scrimping bargain.

Yria is sumptuous oriental/chypre hybrid. Not, as Fragrantica have labeled it, a fruity floral. It has an eighties shoulder pad feeling in similarity to classics such as Dior’s Dune or Guerlain’s Samsara. 
Yria would suit Joan Collins, vamp queen of the shoulder pad

Most importantly for me, it has a defined structure that begins and ends with entirely different notes. As you will know by now, I’m a pyramid lover who grows terrifically bored of fragrances that smell the same all the way through their wear. This is how it journeys on my skin:

It opens with an opulent combination of coriander and bergamot. These notes usually read as sparkling, fresh and vibrant but in Yria they have an unusually ‘oozy’ quality with a surprising depth. Don’t expect to be enlivened by the first spray, this is the heady whiff of drowsily sensual perfumery. They sit upon a cushion of creamy white floral notes (particularly noticeable as a gardenia/jasmine duet). The rose and lily of the valley notes are however not really discernable. This white florality is balanced with yet more ooziness from a base of sandalwood, tonka bean, labdanum, patchouli and vanilla, which deliver a traditional heady oriental sensation. Towards the end of it’s (lengthy) wear it reduces to an authentic vanilla that thankfully doesn’t make your teeth ache with cloying sugar.

Grown up glamour

It’s a rather unique fragrance but it does share a slight similarity to both the original Dior Addict and to the much-missed Midnight Poison (minus the rosy aspect). Most certainly a ‘grown-up’ scent that is distinctly more adult vamp than flirtatious teenager.
I paid £15 for my 50 ml bottle, a reduction from the rrp of £30.

Yves Rocher shops abound in mainland Europe. Here in the UK, you’ll have to risk a blind buy to join in the perfume fun. Fortunately, if you take advantage of the offers, it doesn’t really matter if you don’t like it. And of course, there is always Ebay for the mistakes. Here are my recommendations:

I love:
  • Secret D’ Essences Voile D’Ambre - dry, powdery, incense and resins, marketed as feminine but easily unisex.
  • Cedre Bleu - now discontinued, fabulous fresh cedar cologne if you can find it online, vile plastic blue bottle.
  • Secret D’ Essences Neroli – bargainous - read my review by clicking here
  • Muguet En Fleurs (Lily of The Valley on the UK website) – more of an eau fraiche than a perfume, a striking resemblance to Diorissimo but with a much lighter touch. Short lived but very pretty and natural.

I’m less impressed by:
  • Comme Une Evidence – a sharp chypre that sells in enormous quantities in France, I find it rather sour.

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I am giving away samples from my bottles of Yria and Voile D’ Ambre for a lucky reader to try. Sadly, only in the UK due to our daft postal laws. To enter, please leave a comment below or at the facebook page with your thoughts on ‘killer cheapies’. Closing date 30th June 2014.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Review: Byredo - Flowerhead, A Boxing Gloved Contender For Fracas Fans

I am writing this post in the midst of my sixth day of an unfeasibly aggressive skin rash. This is odd as I’m not an allergic type, in fact I could probably shower in Swarfega and powder myself with Vim scourer without so much of a pimple arising. I can only assume that it’s viral. My chest and back have gained the prestigious status of ‘rash worthy of a photo on Google’. I won’t be posting one, but I’ve seen some corkers in the last few days that defy believability.

This please

An outcome of the rash has been a self-imposed perfume ban. Although it’s been interesting, from the point of view that I didn’t miss it after the first few days (eh?), I found myself today craving something obscenely ‘perfumey’.

And so I reached for the floral Armageddon that is Byredo’s latest creation - Flowerhead.
Curiously, the only part of my body that isn’t peppered with scarlet anger is my left wrist. Perhaps it’s developed a feisty blockade against any form of soppy skin type behaviour from the many years of being soaked in aroma chemicals at least 3 times a day. I figured it could cope.

After the tender watercolour fragility of Byredo’s 2013 release – Inflorescence, this years floral – Flowerhead, is the absolute opposite. It’s an enormous tuberose and jasmine madam that makes Robert Piguet’s notorious Fracas seem like a wuss. Which is quite an achievement.

The words ‘tuberose and jasmine’ are rarely uttered on Odiferess. I dislike this pairing as much as I dislike smoked salmon. It’s possible that my hatred of the slippery fishy dreadfulness stems from my sisters wedding banquet, where as a child bridesmaid I ran to my mum in terror at the fact that the waiters appeared to be delivering plates of dead goldfish to our tables. It doesn’t smell very pleasant either, which is exactly how I feel about a gargantuan dose of tuberose and jasmine.

So why am I writing about it? Because I think it’s brilliant.

Byredo’s website describes it thus:


Overwhelming indeed. It echoes it’s name in it’s atmosphere. The suffix of ‘head’ emphasizes whatever it follows. E.g. in expletives, we refer to someone who is a complete shit as a ‘shithead’, someone who lives primarily for the pursuit of wealth is a ‘breadhead’. In ‘Flowerhead’ we find a sense of extremism, an excessive slap in the face of white floral hedonism. Flowerhead does not have a complex structure, it’s simply a whopping great unapologetic dose of tuberose, jasmine and spikey wood. I can’t describe it’s precise scent any further than that, it is what it is.

There’s been a trend in recent months for barely perceptible fragrances where subtlety is favoured over character. It’s affected both the niche and mainstream market and has resulted in many perfume lovers being dissatisfied with poor longevity and the fact that they actually have to put nose to wrist to smell their own perfume. As the main point of perfume is it’s ability to scent the air around us, this is a bit rubbish. Flowerhead is capable of bombasting all noses within a 10 foot radius, for that reason, it will be received with great pleasure by those bored of fragrant will-o'-the-wisps. 

Beth Ditto - lead singer of The Gossip

Flowerhead will be greatly loved by those seeking a perfume that has the mettle and noisiness of a pre-reform Estee Lauder. In personality, it reminds me of the indie scene darling - Beth Ditto. She’s brash, strident, enormous and boisterous, loved and loathed in equal measures, and she’s in possession of an army of enchanted fans. I imagine that Flowerhead, alike Beth, will become a cult classic.

It was the ideal choice with which to break my fast, abstinence must be followed with excess.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Review: Les Exclusifs De Chanel - 31 Rue Cambon, The Modern Chypre & A Tale Of Urgent Shopping

The bitter earthy delights of the chypre, the most prized vessel of pleasure for many fragrance lovers, is changing beyond recognition. This isn’t going to be a moan about IFRA and it’s legislation on our beloved oakmoss, instead I’ve chosen to describe a perfume that has probably evolved as a result of the restrictions. It is Chanel’s magnificent 31 Rue Cambon.

It’s also a tale of daft perfume junkie habits.

Coco, at leisure with a fag on, at 31 Rue Cambon

A few weeks ago, I visited the Les Exclusifs de Chanel counter in Manchester’s Selfridges. It’s tricky to quietly browse amongst the bizarre scented ‘nose funnels’ in which we take our whiffs of these famed fragrances without attracting attention. In this instance, a sales assistant helped me to further my cravings by spraying a little Bois Des Isles on a card and wrapping it up in tissue for me to sniff later (my skin was of course completely saturated with a myriad of fumes having previously ‘done’ House of Fraser). For days I repeatedly lifted the precious card out if it’s paper shroud and made audible pleasure noises as I breathed in it’s sandalwood creamy goodness.

And so began my obsession with Bois Des Isles.

Last weekend I returned to the counter with clean, scent free arms. My aim was to skin test and gauge the difference between the EDT and the recent addition to the range, the parfum. On this occasion I was treated to an application of the body cream that acts as the ‘underwear’ to the scented gowns, followed by a spritz of the EDT and a single drop of the parfum (which emerged from surely one of the most covetable bottles in the land of ‘brilliant teeny things’). Initially I was astounded by the beauty of Bois Des Isles. It reminded me both of the smooth woody drydown of No. 5 and the breezy aldehyde opening, but it was less floral, tonally much more cello-like and significantly more sensual. Although this is purely a bit of Odiferess imagination, it transported to me to what No. 5 might have smelt like in it’s youth, prior to the many reforms and tinkering.  But then, as I chatted to the SA, it disappeared, literally, poof! I sniffed and sniffed but it was fading at great speed. My encounter with the fragrance lasted all of ten minutes in concentration and a further hour in a kind of spectral whisper of itself.


The parfum offered a little further longevity but not with the gusto that I desired. Luckily (or unfortunately for my self-imposed weak willed no buy period) the SA gave me a parting gift of a sample of 31 Rue Cambon which I stuffed in my bag in the imperative manner of someone who has just scored some crack. On my walk home, I stopped for another of my guilty pleasures, a frappuccino (filthy sweet coffee Slush Puppie) at a favourite café. I took a seat outside and rooted for the sample which I sprayed liberally on the now bereft of Bois arm.

Oh my..

Minutes passed by with my beloved slush sitting in a non-consumption stupor as I inhaled with all the strength my nose could muster. Upon opening my eyes and pausing to draw unscented breath I saw I was under the gaze of a curious man sat in the window. He quickly dropped his eyes as if he were trying to avoid contact with ‘the nutter in the bus station’.
So what had enamoured me so deftly?

My own photos - for once, not robbed from Google

It was the iris. 31 Rue Cambon opens with a great gust of the most extraordinary bergamot and iris collaboration. It’s shockingly beautiful. Whilst iris can be a little dusty and powdery (and thus smelt with a sensation of it’s afterlife), Chanel’s Iris is moist, terrestrial and truly alive. The bergamot is clear, vibrant and elating and melds with the iris to form a soprano voice. It smells high.

And then soon after, it doesn’t. This stuff transforms itself at great speed. If you love a distinct perfume pyramid, 31 Rue Cambon will feel like the equivalent of a fragrance rollercoaster.
By the time I got home it had changed into smooth cream. When perfume lovers speak of ‘creamy scents’ they often refer to an ice cream gourmand quality, lactonic (milky) notes or even the lush milky depth that comes with an authentic sandalwood. In the case of 31 Rue Cambon, the luminosity of the bergamot fades and is replaced by an hour or two of softly spoken iris milkshake, sucked up through a faintly leathery labdanum straw. 

In it’s final hour it grows increasingly sweeter as a whisper soft  ‘chewy’ patchouli enters the scent. A Fragrantica member used the term ‘chewy’ some time ago, I think it describes the patchouli in both this scent and in Robert Piguet’s Calypso with superb accuracy. As one of those odd synesthethic terms it’s impossible to describe exactly why it’s chewy. It simply is. 31 Rue Cambon’s patchouli is notably gentler than the bombastic patchouli of Coromandel. In fact, it’s a slightly apologetic end to an extraordinary fragrant ride.

Needless to say, by 11 am the next morning I hurried into town to claim the last of the ‘gift with purchase’ and get my eager hands on my first ever bottle of this Chanel Exclusif wonder. Now, four days after my urgent purchase, I still take it out of it’s elegant box and sigh as I fondle the monolithic bottle in my hands. This is love.

But it is a chypre?

I don’t think so. The modern trend of replacing oakmoss with patchouli creates a fragrance that has lost it’s grace without the bitter inky earthen ending that we find in archetypal perfumes such as Mitsouko and Diorella - which is basically why we love them so much. 31 Rue Cambon has pulled off the chypre vibe magnificently in the opening due to the best use of bergamot that I have ever smelt. However, the ‘big softy’ ending fails if we want it to fit entirely within the genre. The art of loving 31 Rue Cambon is to forget that it’s supposed to be a chypre and love it for what it is, my favourite iris yet, and probably always.

For further reading on my shopping adventures, you may enjoy this post about a trip to Selfridges to sample the Dior Privee line. 

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