Balmain Ambre Gris EdP review

Posted by Lipglossiping On August - 28 - 2013

Ambre Gris is the latest addition to my fragrance wardrobe, which by the way, is steadily growing larger than my actual wardrobe. Exposing my horribly shallow heart to you, I will readily admit that I was first enticed to this fragrance because of the bottle.

It’s a thing of beautiful contrasts with its smoky-grey, monolithic-looking flacon, simply labelled yet topped off with an outrageously camp discoball-esque cap. It’s lovely. It feels heavy, like you could bludgeon someone with it should that urge take you. It’s impressive, it makes a statement… and that’s just how I like my perfumes.

Pierre-Balmain-Ambre-Gris

Launched in 2008, the notes include: pink pepper, cinnamon, tuberose, immortelle, myrrh, gaïac wood, benzoin, white musks, and ambergris.  On paper it looks like a spicy oriental with a heavy helping of wood and a dusting of sweetness.  In reality… well, that’s mostly accurate.

Opening with a sharp exhalation of pepper, the fragrance delivers a punch of spice with the kind of brusqueness you’d expect from a mean, elderly Aunt.  This isn’t your usual youthful pink pepper, fruity concoction but something with a little more heritage to accentuate its spiky manner.

Before long, the fragrance warms up on the skin and the cinnamon turns sweeter while the tuberose gets down to business knocking away the sharp edges left, right, and centre.  I’m not the world’s biggest fan of tuberose, it’s a note that often leaves me feeling as though I need to come up for air and there is a certain synthetic sickliness to this fragrance that I’m blaming on the tuberose, but thankfully… not enough to require a snorkel.

Up until this point, I like Balmain’s Ambre Gris… but I can’t say that I love it.

Pierre-Balmain-Ambre-Gris-2

All this begins to change roughly twenty minutes after application.  The smoother tones ushered in by the tuberose make way for something warmer and more comforting still.  The scent wears ever more closely to the skin as the vanillic benzoin curls around my wrist and the ambergris imparts a soft, animalic property that tempts me back to my pulse points over and over.  At this point, it feels more like a unisex fragrance but with an inherent sweetness that glazes over the woody notes and gives the scent a gourmand grounding.

It’s less smoky than I’d like, cleaner than I’d want, and sweeter than I’d usually crave but it feels like a bridge between my old perfume-loving tastes and the new.  In that respect, it really does feel like a comfort.  Take Dior’s Hypnotic Poison (my old uber-fav) and throw some curveballs at it.  It’s not as sexy as Hypnotic Poison, nor is it as overachieving… but it is a nice interpretation of a classier, more grown up woody-oriental that keeps its edge and lasts long, long into the night.

Balmain Ambre Gris is priced from £42 for 40ml and is available to buy in-store at John Lewis and online at Escentual.com


Rooney Mara for Calvin Klein, you gorgeous, GORGEOUS woman!

Posted by Lipglossiping On August - 22 - 2013

Rooney Mara is the face of Calvin Klein’s latest fragrance release: Downtown.  I’ve just spotted the ad for it on You Tube and it’s so brilliant, I wanted to see what you guys thought of it too.

I think it does the whole “aspirational” perfume ad thing really well but keeps it a bit more real than most, along with being impossibly glamourous, the ad also shows Rooney swooning over a puppy and playing with a bunch of kids on the set.  She’s got that 21st century Audrey Hepburn vibe down to a fine art and…and…and… why can’t I be her again?

Anyway, tell me what you think…

The fragrance itself sounds interesting, Downtown is described as an everyday scent with notes that include: Tunisian neroli, gardenia petals, and Texan cedarwood.

On paper, I should like it but the few reviews that I’ve read talk about sweetness, pink pepper, and being aimed at the yoof crowd.

Damnit Calvin Klein, she’s wearing a kick-ass leather jacket and embracing the rain… you can’t disappoint me!

What do you think of the ad?  The fragrance went on counter in the UK yesterday and is available online at escentual.com… have you tried it yet?

Issey Miyake Pleats Please Perfume Review

Posted by Lipglossiping On August - 17 - 2013

Well, I should probably start this review by saying that I have never been a big fan of Issey Miyake’s scents. I’d even go so far as to say that I have been completely bewildered over the years by the brand’s following and their flanker after flanker release strategy that would have even the most ardent fan spinning with confusion.

Pleats Please is the designer’s latest fragrance launch that celebrates his iconic 80s fashion line of the same name.  The Japanese designer’s interpretation of East meets West has had many women flailing over his knife-edge pleats, created by specialist pleating techniques (no, really!) that make his designs both ready-to-wear and long-lasting.

Both of those descriptions could equally be applied to the brand’s new scent.

pleats-please-issey-miyake

pleats-please-bottle-shot

At first spritz, I felt a huge sense of deja vu.  The initial note of Asian Nashi pear (an apple/pear hybrid) instantly put me in mind of a hugely generic synthetic, clean and fruity opening.  It’s sweet and thoroughly 2D, nothing like the designer’s wonderfully structured catwalk creations.  I was disappointed but not surprised.

And then I went about my day.

It was about 30-minutes later that I found myself tentatively sniffing at my wrist again.  The sweetness was still there but it had blossomed into a big floral.  Big in an unabashed 80s way (can I have some shoulder pads to go with my pleats?).  I’ll admit that I have a soft spot for big florals, giant bouquets that envelop you in their heady bosoms.  The kind that you wouldn’t want to escape from even if you could.  My use of the word “bosom” isn’t accidental… there’s a skin warmth in there among the flowers, unwashed but definitely not unpleasant.  Undoubtedly all this “scent” will prove too much for some but I’m rather taken by the way Pleats Please deceived me.

I hate the bottle, I think it’s a monstrous creation… but I will admit that it feels gorgeous in the hand.  Modelled on Miyake’s famous Bao Bao bag with a “pleated” white plastic top, it reminds me of a feminine Marc Jacobs Bang (without the toppling over issues).  As far as longevity and silage are concerned, providing you’re a fan of how this creation actually smells… you should be pleased with its performance on both counts.  Lingering enough to last the day, excellent for an EdT and conspicuous enough in its presence to elicit an “I can still smell you” from my husband as we lay in bed that night.

Issey, you have won me over.  Well, almost.  I still really dislike the opening… but I will persevere just so that I may appreciate the addictive, powerhouse of a dry-down.

Issey Miyake Pleats Please is priced from £33 for 30ml and available to buy instore or online at Boots, Superdrug, Debenhams, and online (from £28) at escentual.com

* press sample

The historic town of Grasse in the South-Eastern corner of France is widely considered as the world’s capital of perfumery. The area enjoys a climate ripe for growing and harvesting flowers and it’s reported that over twenty-seven tonnes of jasmine alone are harvested in Grasse annually!  The town is also home to many of the world’s oldest perfumeries and most of the industries most famous “noses” have trained there at some point in their career.

L’Occitane have recently released a collection of fragrances that pay tribute to the area’s rich history of “scentsory” creation and the set* that I’m reviewing today offers a generous insight into each of the new offerings in 7.5ml form.  You should note that this addition of miniatures is a limited release and according to the L’Occitane website, there are only a few left available to purchase.

La Collection de Grasse

Each fragrance is contained in individual, fully-resealable bottles.  I mention this because I shall never purchase another L’Artisan Parfumeur set whose miniatures evaporate their ridiculous packaging within weeks.  Take your time enjoying these… at £28 for a total of 30ml, you’re getting good value that will give you plenty of opportunity to discover your favourite(s).

The lady behind the collection, Karine Dubreuil, has created for L’Occitane before and is fully in-tune with the brand’s ethos and love for natural extracts.

I immediately recognised myself in this clear, pure style of authenticity associated with L’OCCITANE.  This vow of sincerity is captured in their fragrances, which expresses the beauty of nature in all its transparency. – Karine Dubreuil

The collection plays around with the idea of capturing a pair of players in the fragrance world and weaving their simplicity into something a little more meaningful.  Whether a chance encounter, or destined to be together… the ingredients are chosen and combined expertly under Karine’s care.

La Collection de Grasse

Jasmine & Bergamote

Bergamot discreetly lights up the scent and continues to retain a lingering presence. Contrasts blend with ambivalence as jasmine reveals all its facets. To convey this ambiguity, at least two types of jasmine would be needed: a jasmine from Grasse and a jasmine from Egypt. The balance fluctuates between petals and leaves, freshness and sensuality, day and night.

Top notes: mandarin orange, BERGAMOT
Heart notes: JASMINE, lemon leaves
Base notes: sandalwood, cedar

Magnolia & Mure

Between flower and fruit, the magnolia essence provides the prelude to wild and slightly musky blackberry notes. Present throughout the fragrance, blackberry gives a tenderness to the woody structure. Its velvety seeds soften the solemnity of patchouli. Over time, the fragrance asserts its chypre character.

Top notes: bergamot, BLACKBERRY
Heart notes: MAGNOLIA, rose
Base notes: patchouli, moss

Vanille & Narcisse

Discreet at first, the scent of narcissus swells to reveal a bouquet of white flowers and spicy heart accords. Finally, rich and radiant vanilla borrows the wilder, untamed notes of narcissus that give it spirit.

Top notes: blackcurrant, bergamot
Heart notes: NARCISSUS, gardenia
Base notes: VANILLA, tonka bean

Thé Vert & Bigarade

This great classic from L’OCCITANE joins La Collection de Grasse. Refreshing, essential and aimed at both men and women, it has a thirst-quenching effect from the very first contact, when sparkling citrus notes burst forth in an accord of sweet and bitter orange. Hints of green tea, yerba mate and hay give a reassuring touch before drying down into an aromatic trail.

Top notes: orange, BITTER ORANGE
Heart notes: GREEN TEA, yerba mate
Base notes: cedar, thyme, musk

L'Occitane-La-Collection-de-Grasse_3

From the collection, Thé Vert & Bigarade is my pick of the bunch.  An uplifting citrus without any of the prickliness that one might usually associate with the genre.  It’s both refreshing and warming with a hint of the oriental that softens the edges of the bitter orange and evokes a feeling of comfort and well-being.  In all honesty, there’s not an awful lot more to it than that… there’s no great complexity or layer upon layer of twists and turns to excite your senses.  Thé Vert & Bigarade simply displays a beautiful pairing of notes that were clearly meant to be together.

There’s a fantastic interview with the perfumer Karine Dubreuil which I’ve embedded below, it explains more about the inspiration behind the collection and gives a little insight into the region and it’s rich wealth of fragrant history.

The Petit Grasse Fragrance Collection is available to buy instore and online at uk.loccitane.com, priced at £28 for the boxed selection (3oml total)

* press sample

Four the love of violets!

Posted by Lipglossiping On May - 24 - 2013

I’ve long held the opinion that I wasn’t a great fan of floral fragrances… at least, that’s what I’ve always thought until I recently took another look at the perfumes I’ve gathered over the years.  You know, for someone who proclaims such nonsense, I own far too many rose, violet, and iris-based scents… and of the three, I think it’s the violet ones that I’m drawn to the most.

I thought that today, I’d share with you some of my favourite violet-based fragrances.  There are actually two missing from the list (PR Ultraviolet & Yardley(!) April Violets) because they’re still boxed up at my Mum’s house and writing this has now made me desperate to raid her garage for my long-lost loves!

violet fragrances

The first thing I should say is that I don’t own any pure-violet fragrances, not the posh ones anyway and I’m still no fragrance expert but hopefully I’ve sniffed my way through enough perfume departments to form a coherent opinion!

My favourite thing about this note in particular is just how fickle it is, sometimes seeming greener than a freshly-mowed lawn and at other times, more powdery than your grandma’s old compacts.  It’s a chameleon of a note, beautifully suited to this changeable Spring season.

It’s also a note that pairs wonderfully with others, and infact (in my opinion) works far better when working as a flanker, as part of a well-structured accord rather than singing a solo chorus.

The first perfume in my list of four, is a great example of precisely, this.

Armani Prive Cuir Amethyste (£145, armanibeauty.co.uk) is not an easily-tamed fragrance.  For a scent that calls into play such a beautiful floral note, it’s a growling animal of contradictions.  From the opening headiness of the sticky, woody violet to the dirty leather, well-worn and battered into a masculine suppleness that shouldn’t work on female skin, but does.

The tenacity and indeed, audacity of this scent appeals to me for its unique take on the genre.  It’s an over the top indulgence complete with powdery nostalgia that makes me feel all the more a “lady”.  Albeit, a slightly sleazy one.

violet fragrances

In stark contrast, YSL’s Paris Premieres Roses 2013* (£25.50, escentual.com) is a recent re-issue that puts the violet firmly in the back seat.  That’s not to say you won’t find it there because it’s confidently lurking, flanking the rose and smoothing the petals until they reach a state of velvety creaminess within the heart of the scent.

It’s the epitome of fragrant youthfulness without the pink-pepper, juicy-fruit explosion up your nostrils.  A refreshing and commendable take with mass-market appeal in an often tired genre.

violet fragrances

For a greener, fresher take on the wonderful floral, look no further than Balenciaga Paris EDP* (£44, debenhams.com) for a new opinion.  You can see that I’m running low on my bottle and it’s not hard to understand why.  Paris is a perfect rendition of how Spring should be, with a clean opening that descends into a softer, sweeter heart and powdery base.  All the while, remaining light, airy and a little bit watery but never so sheer as to be unappreciated.

Floral-chypres can often be difficult to stomach for those under the age of 25, but Balenciaga’s Paris bucks this trend and delivers a grown-up yet flirty scent that takes you on a true violet journey from the sharp leaf, all the way to the sweetshop!

violet fragrances

My final pick of the bunch (gettit?) is for Tom Ford’s Violet Blonde (£45, johnlewis.com) which I picked up not long after its release in 2011.  I immediately fell for its well-projected, prickly opening that blends a green violet with pink pepper before developing into a richly sueded base.

Despite being a wonderful choice for a sharply-dressed young professional woman (you know the type), I don’t mind admitting that my husband wears this with great skill.  His skin chemistry thrusts forward the spice and musk and conjures up something more masculine and vintage-feeling, tempered beautifully by the violet.

Do you like violet-based fragrances?  Please share your favourite!

* press sample

Neom Luxury Organics Reed Diffuser in Sumptuous

Posted by Lipglossiping On March - 16 - 2013

It’s hard to beat a wonderfully-scented candle.  For one thing, there’s something undeniably romantic about how the gentle glow can make even Quasimodo look like Cara Delevigne.  Fire-safety aside, we all know that beauty brands would sell a truckload more product if beauty halls became wick-powered, but as flourescent lighting proves, there are times when candles just aren’t the most convenient option.

Before you reach for the plug-ins, consider another option.  The humble reed diffuser.

Neom Organic Reed Diffuser in Sumptuous_01

Brands do try and make these diffusers look elegant but the reality is that a reed diffuser is basically a pot of scented oil with a bunch of twigs sticking out of it.  Whilst candles can rightfully get all superior about what a great table centrepiece they make, diffusers are better off putting in their hard work from the sidelines.

Thankfully, the continuous and long-lasting scent that this one from NEOM Luxury Organics delivers to the home is nothing short of wondrous.  Sumptuous is a blend of rose and neroli that is both calming and uplifting, albeit in a more tender way than something like their Invigorate fragrance which slaps you about a bit to get the blood flowing.  Sumptuous on the other hand is all about the caresses and telling you that you’re the most beautiful person in the world.  No, really!  Well, sort of…

Neom Organic Reed Diffuser in Sumptuous_02

My reed diffuser has been doing the rounds since I unpackaged it last week.  A couple of days in the bathroom where it’s far too bloody pretentious to actually light a candle, hidden behind my Mother’s chair when she came over for her Mother’s Day dinner last week (“what’s that lovely smell Charlotte?” / “Oh my flat always smells like this!”), and propped up on the windowsill in the kitchen when I burnt some popcorn.  And if you’ve ever burnt popcorn, you know you need a massive scent-intervention.

If you have pets in the house, small children, or clumsy partners… reed diffusers make a great alternative to the mighty candle.

Neom Organic Reed Diffuser in Sumptuous_03

The NEOM Organic Reed Diffuser is discreet too, I’ve seen some that are around 3ft tall and higher… no-one needs that much scented-twig in the house.  Despite its small-size, this one delivers enough fragrance to scent a small room easily.  Bathrooms and hallways are blissfully filled with the perfume and I’d say that it delivers strong fragrance to just over half of my (average-sized) sitting-room.

Remember also, that the scent is continuous, you can control the strength of the scent simply by adding or reducing the amount of reed sticks in the aroma diffuser.  I no longer have to scramble around for a lighter to light a candle after I’ve buzzed a guest in through the intercom!

As for longevity, well NEOM rates their reed diffusers to last for up to 5 weeks, so you’ll be pleased to hear that you can buy fragrance oil refills for £18.00 each, as opposed to forking out the original price tag for the bottle, fragrance and sticks again.

NEOM’s Organic Reed Diffusers are priced at £35.00 each and available in a choice of eleven different fragrances from www.neomorganics.com

* press sample

Limited Edition Jo Malone Sugar & Spice Collection launches

Posted by Lipglossiping On March - 13 - 2013

Back in January, I gave some initial thoughts on the new limited edition Jo Malone Sugar & Spice Collection and I apologised for any incoherence arising from my hastily scribbled notes and fragmented memories of the scents!  Today, I’m hoping to offer a little more clarification and depth on three of the five new fragrances available.

Jo Malone Sugar & Spice Collection

Let’s just dispense with half of you straight away shall we?  If you’re not a gourmand fragrance lover, give this collection as wide-a-berth as possible.  There’s nothing here for you, not even in the slightly-less-foodie Elderflower & Gooseberry scent which valiantly skirts the sweetness with a lighter touch than the others in the collection.  You will look upon this collection and wonder how such a distinguished brand have managed to create such a food-flavouring abomination of colognes.

Harsh words perhaps, but I can see how they can be applied depending on your personal fragrance tastes.  The Jo Malone Sugar & Spice Collection is unapologetically saccharine.  It is as much brave as it is predictable, setting itself up for a battering from many faithful fans who consider it the absolute height of dumbing down for an unwelcome audience.

I’m on the fence.

When I first started to wear and enjoy fragrance, I was utterly drawn to the gourmand side of things.  Those were the smells that were most relatable to my tender palate and nose.  Ginger biscuits, chocolate oranges, and lemon tarts?  Stuff of dreams.  And Jo Malone have captured these dreams in the most delicious of ways, that is surely impossible to deny.  From the campaign imagery of delectable treats to their beautiful muse who looks more like a macaron than a model sets the scene.  This collection is here to whet your appetite, and if your appetite lies not with the sweet stuff, it’s time to move along.

Jo Malone Sugar & Spice Collection

Elderflower & Gooseberry Cologne*

Surprsingly, it’s not the juiciness from the gooseberries that first makes contact with my skin but a creaminess that’s been tempered with a touch of fizz.  It strikes a nice balance that develops into a full-bodied, soft-fleshed juiciness, from which I detect mostly gooseberry and lychee.  It’s light but warming, fresh but not particularly zingy, like a hug from an older sister rather than a mother.

The elderflower sits in the background, carefully orchestrating the proceedings and provides a tenderness that matures the juicy playfulness of the other notes.  There’s also a powdery note that feels particularly hand-on-shoulder calming.  Out of all the fragrances in the collection, this one is still my favourite.  Surprisingly long-lasting too.

Bitter Orange & Chocolate Cologne*

When I first had the opportunity to smell this at the launch event last year, I was suitable impressed by its foodie rendition.  If I’ve read it once, I’ve read it a hundred times: there is indeed something very true to the Terry’s Chocolate Orange about this scent.  But then it gets kinda bitey.  The chocolate is dark and lacking in softness, this combined with the bitter orange makes me feel uncomfortable after a short while.

I feel like I’ve been lured in under the promise of velvet, only to be whipped with sandpaper.  It’s not that the notes jar or are remotely ill-combined, the chocolate orange is a fantastic rendition, but it’s not for me and not for my skin chemistry.  It feels a little too raw and uncooked, sitting on my skin with far too much front.  Interestingly, I actually quite enjoy it once I’ve washed it off, the main facets of the scent are still completely detectable without screaming for my attention.

Ginger Biscuit Cologne*

Before the ginger has a chance to throw itself into the (cookie) mix, the other spices tickle my nose in the most pleasant of ways.  There is nothing piquant about this scent, just the wonderful richness and true aromatic qualities you’d expect from something that lists nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger as the main party players.  You can feel the warmth of the kitchen, the scents that lift from the red-hot baking tray.  The almost-magical buttery notes create the impression of tummy rumbles that make it so darn impossible to wait for the freshly-baked goodies to firm up before diving in.

The only problem I have with Ginger Biscuit Cologne is that it has been crafted so wonderfully true to its inspiration that I can’t imagine wearing this at any other time than Christmas.  I would happily drown myself in it throughout the month of December, but not now.  Instead, I enjoy illicit sniffs at the nozzle and bide my time patiently.

Jo Malone Sugar & Spice Collection

Do any of the colognes appeal to your sweet tooth?

 The Limited Edition Jo Malone Sugar & Spice Collection is available to buy now on counter and online at www.jomalone.co.uk priced at £38 for 30ml.

* press sample

Burberry launches Burberry Body Tender EdT

Posted by Lipglossiping On March - 3 - 2013

Because we haven’t seen enough of Cara Delevigne and her bloody wonderful eyebrows mooching up and down the catwalk over the past month, Burberry are releasing another flanker for their bestselling Burberry BODY fragrance in the form of Burberry BODY Tender with said model fronting the campaign.

Touted as a lighter interpretation of the original, Burberry BODY Tender brings together lemon, English rose and white jasmine to create a scent that they say is inspired by the playful attitude of the Burberry girl with the energy of the brand’s London hometown.

Burberry Body Tender

The packaging mimics the refreshing styling of the original Burberry BODY fragrance with its tall, slender bottle but with a shift in the colouring from gold to a gentle rosy hue.

Of the new scent, Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s Chief Creative Officer had this to say:

“Burberry Body was always about creating something that captures all the different characteristics of the Burberry girl.

With Body Tender, we wanted to explore and bring out the softer, more playful sides of her – capturing this light femininity in the scent as well as the campaign.

Cara’s natural beauty and vibrant energy lit up alongside London’s magnificent architecture.”

The notes listed are:

Top: lemon, crisp apple and green absinthe
Heart: English rose, white jasmine and sandalwood
Base: cashmeran, amber and musk

The campaign, created under Christopher Bailey’s creative direction was shot on the river Thames by Mario Testino.   You’ll be pleased to hear that Cara hasn’t taken a leaf out of Brad Pitt’s book, instead she takes the opportunity to do what she does best… looking effortlessly chic in a Burberry mac whilst making women everywhere blunt their tweezers on the nearest rock.

Burberry BODY Tender Eau de Toilette is on counter and online now priced from £39.00 for 35ml.  Also available as a body milk.

Jo Malone Earl Grey & Cucumber Cologne

Posted by Lipglossiping On February - 23 - 2013

I’ve been enjoying Jo Malone’s recent releases, I haven’t fallen head over heels in love with all of them… but unlike many mainstream fragrances, they’ve elicited an almost guttural response from my emotions at first sniff.  And if a fragrance does that, then I’m enjoying it regardless of whether or not I’m actually enjoying it.  Jo Malone’s latest release, Earl Grey & Cucumber got me hugely excited on paper.  I’m a tea fiend, in all senses… and one of my favourite scents is L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Tea for Two which features a blacker-than-black tea note, rich and smoky, steeped until the teaspoon stands to attention.

I was excited to contemplate upon a fresher tea incarnation, a more spring-like scent that marries one of my favourite notes with another… and one that my brain didn’t quite know how to process.  Cucumber?  Cucumber?!

Honestly, it made me think back to memories of Saturday shopping in The Body Shop.  I tried to think past this, rendering instead my thoughts on the lovely juxtaposition of Jasmine and Mint used in one of Jo Malone’s most iconic fragrances, and wondering if this one might evoke a similar synergy.  To say that my nose was twitching with anticipation as I spritzed Earl Grey & Cucumber for the first time, would be an understatement.

Jo Malone Earl Grey & Cucumber Cologne

It’s absolutely there but is so completely different to anything I’ve smelled before.  If my other experiences with tea in fragrance have been in all their full-bodied, ornery glory – Earl Grey & Cucumber is the antithesis to this.  Its tea note is genteel, so very polite and more civilised than silver service on a Sunday afternoon.  That’s not to say that it’s a particularly quiet fragrance, for it has plenty to say, it just knows how to express itself with all the dignity of a fine afternoon ritual.

Jo Malone’s Earl Grey & Cucumber feels like an extremely unisex scent to me, as if it daren’t cause offence by leaning too far in one direction.  The balance of bitter bergamot and sweet musk almost cancel one another out, leaving behind little more than a well-placed whisper that sits lovingly behind the ear.  The cucumber doesn’t really smell of “cucumber”, at least, not in the way I imagined it might (thankfully).  Instead, it delivers an echo of something that’s been freshly cut, delivering a playful bite and a cooling impression without any of the watery flavour.

Evocation is where it’s at with Jo Malone’s Earl Grey & Cucumber, from the beginning, through the middle, until the last drop is poured from the teapot.  Afternoon tea done the British way.

Jo Malone Earl Grey & Cucumber Cologne, available to buy online from jomalone.co.uk, priced from £38.00 for 30ml.

* press sample

Jimmy Choo FLASH, launches nationwide today.

Posted by Lipglossiping On January - 28 - 2013

After enjoying a fortnight-long exclusive at Debenhams, the latest fragrant release from Jimmy Choo, FLASH launches nationwide today.  The story behind the scent supposedly begins with the thrill and anticipation of getting ready for a big night out, a strange premise for a fragrance but something that is undoubtedly relatable for many young women.

Jimmy Choo’s creative directors Sandra Choi and Simon Holloway explain the vision:

“FLASH is about the cool rush of excitement and the sense of power a woman feels when dressed in a pair of sexy shoes.  Its character, which is both heady and effervescent, captures this perfectly”.

Well, I don’t know about all that, but then again… I’m not really a “shoe” girl… handbags? maybe… lipstick? definitely.

Jimmy-Choo-Flash

I do know that I love a sexy bottle when I see one, and this is indeed a sexy bottle, though I do wish for a little more weight to the lid.  The styling is supposed to be reminiscent of a paparazzi flash bulb/chandelier… but I’m wondering if the designers have ever seen an off-camera flash bulb?  If mine looked as sexy as this bottle, I’d taking pictures of it rather than with it.  Nevertheless, the fragrance is undoubtedly dressed in a tactile, display-friendly way.

As for the juice inside, described by the press release as a “solar floral”, which I think is supposed to describe an amped-up floral, injected with lights, excitement, effervescence and ultimately action.  For which, I can translate…. pepper.  Lots of pink pepper, the note that says “I may be a perfume for girls but check me out ‘cos I’m not too girly” which is no bad thing seeing as I prefer perfumes that aren’t actually for girls but this note does indeed add a hit of spiciness to the florals, albeit in the girliest of androgynous ways possible.

The white flowers keep the scent smelling incredibly clean from start to finish, injecting the whole affair with plenty of airiness making this a perfectly-timed release for Spring.  The effervescence in the opening moments reminds me somewhat of a subtle juniper with its crisp freshness albeit without the gin (this makes sense in my head).  I’m guessing that the pink pepper is doing something naughty with the strawberry (which I strangely can’t smell!) and that this is what is evoking an instant impression of juniper.

As the fragrance dries down, it becomes smoother and more sensual but without becoming creamy or sweet.  The woody notes soften the edges and give the florals a base in which to plant their roots without losing any of their femininity.

Jimmy Choo’s FLASH is a nicely done perfume that offers no real surprises but remains true to itself from start to finish.  What my nose smells (and my brain interprets) doesn’t really gel with the marketing or the whole “getting ready for a night out” vision, I get no high-octane, adrenalin-pumping, hedonism as the blurb suggests.  Instead, what I take away from Christine Nagel’s creation is a far more sophisticated (read: classy), wearable, and ultimately likeable concoction.  Oh, and did I mention the rather impressive staying power?

I absolutely recommend giving this one a passing-sniff, I think it will prove very popular.

Jimmy Choo FLASH is available on counters nationwide, priced from £36.00 for 40ml. 

* press sample

Sweeten your taste buds with the Jo Malone Sugar & Spice Collection

Posted by Lipglossiping On January - 15 - 2013

On a cold November evening, I made my way through Covent Garden to attend the unveiling of a new fragrance collection set to hit the stores this March.  The edibly-named Sugar & Spice Collection from Jo Malone is anything but tasteless, decked out in pastel hues that remind me of a veritable rainbow of sugary macarons… and with good reason…

Sweeten your taste buds with the Jo Malone Sugar & Spice Collection

Sweeten your taste buds with the Jo Malone Sugar & Spice Collection

The collection features five new flavours scents to indulge the gourmandise out there, inspired by the art of the great British pudding.  Lemon Tart, Redcurrant & Cream, Elderflower & Gooseberry, Ginger Biscuit and Bitter Orange & Chocolate make up the quintet of tasty treats, each smelling just as described without the disappointing synthetic undertone that often plagues foody-scents.

In spite of the fact that these are so food-centric (and sugary food at that), the collection is surprisingly light.  Master perfumer Christine Nagel has done exceptionally well to create a fragrance wardrobe that doesn’t cloy with a surfeit of sugar or vanilla.  How they manage to keep any sophistication at all is probably the biggest triumph to celebrate.

Here are my rapid notes on each scent from the evening, complete with incoherence:

~ The Lemon Tart is sharp-but-sweet, you can almost smell the butter in the flaky pastry.

~ The Elderflower & Gooseberry* develops gently with a leafy freshness that renders it the least outright “foody” in the set.

~ Redcurrant & Cream = berries and cream, a classic combination done beautifully (but done often).

~ Ginger Biscuit brings all the digestives to the yard, such an amazing Winter/Christmas-time scent which may seem a little out of place come launch date, such a beautiful homely rendition of warming spices and immediately obvious ginger though.

~ Bitter Orange & Chocolate = Terry’s Chocolate Orange.  End of.  Not chocolate like TM Angel or cocoa-inspired, pure edible chocolate. Yum.

Sweeten your taste buds with the Jo Malone Sugar & Spice Collection

Sweeten your taste buds with the Jo Malone Sugar & Spice Collection

These are such a true interpretation of blindingly good baked treats that it begs the question… do I actually want to walk around smelling like a patisserie?

I’m sure the sensible answer would come quicker to most… but then again, I’m a bigger fan of cake than most.

Maybe.

Will you be checking these out in March?  On paper… which scent do you think will be your favourite?

* press sample

The Fragrance Shop Discovery Club – good value for money?

Posted by Lipglossiping On December - 4 - 2012

I have a sticky relationship with beauty boxes – I don’t generally like them and I rarely feature them.  I’ve been sent them at various times, but I don’t write about them on here because there always seems to be a heap of twitter politics and reports of bad customer service associated with the phenomena.

I have made a couple of exceptions though… before I started blogging, I signed up for the inaugural Latest In Beauty box (which was £1 at the time – I have no idea how much it costs now), and I got a bunch of samples in return for a text message.  It was novel, quirky, and introduced me to some great brands.  When LiB released their CEW winners box, I felt that it represented great value for money, and similarly, when Selfridges compiled their one-off special, again, it seemed to offer something different to the rest.  Having said that, with hindsight, they released a woefully small amount considering the demand.  Major bug bear.

So, why am I talking about this one?  Well… because it offers something different and I, for the life of me, cannot decide if it’s the biggest waste of money I’ve ever seen.

The Fragrance Shop Discovery Club

The Fragrance Shop.  A high street chain with 135 stores nationwide… definitely not some startup jumping on the wagon, has announced their “Discovery Club”.  You pay £5 a quarter (fair enough, it’s not expensive), and in return, will receive a box containing five fragrance samples and a booklet of deals offering discount vouchers on the fragrances included in the box, should you like them enough to purchase the full-size.  Of course, the vouchers are only valid for use at The Fragrance Shop.

The problem I have with this venture is that fragrance samples are the last vestige of beauty sampling on the high street.  Have you seen how hard it’s become to get a sample of anything on counter that hasn’t been released in the last month?  Sample quotas are incredibly tight in the beauty world… which is absolutely crazy when you consider the UK’s non-existent refund policy and how completely necessary it is to trial a foundation outside of a beauty department’s skewy lighting.

Fragrance, has always been so much easier when it comes to sampling.  My goodness me, the last time I bought a couple of bottles of perfume, I came away with more actual volume in sample vials than I did in the bottle I bought… ok, slight exaggeration, but you know what I’m trying to say.

The Fragrance Shop Discovery Club

Perhaps if The Fragrance Shop were offering niche samples (isn’t that what the whole Beauty Box thing is supposed to be about?) rather than the kind you can pick up in Boots if you smile sweetly enough, I’d be more on board with this idea.  It would save me a fortune in postage from LuckyScent and I’d happily pay more per quarter for sure.

Having said that, let me play devil’s advocate (with myself) for a moment… a quick look on eBay reveals that these samples, despite being mainstream… would easily cost more than £5 to acquire if you aren’t local to the kind of big stores that carry a wide fragrance selection.  It’s horses for courses isn’t it, and at this time of year – £5 discount vouchers off bestselling perfume isn’t something to be sniffed at is it? (sorry.)

The Fragrance Shop Discovery Club

The Fragrance Shop Discovery Club

I must admit, I’m not familiar with The Fragrance Shop’s sampling policy instore, but if there is/was one, I bet it’s not quite so relaxed now that their Discovery Club has come to fruition!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on The Discovery Club – is it something you would treat yourself to once a quarter, or would you rather spritz instore and ask the counter for fragrance samples?

The Fragrance Shop Discovery Club is available to join now and costs £5 per box with no ongoing commitment, boxes are delivered every quarter.

* press sample

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