Category Archives: Perfume Shopping

Fun in London with Val the Cookie Queen

After looking forward to their visit for weeks, fellow blogger and dear friend Val the Cookie Queen and her wonderful daughter landed in London on Tuesday afternoon. I met them straight off the train from Stansted, so they hit the ground running.

Following a curry pit stop at Dosa World just off Brick Lance, we made for the DECIEM store in Spitalfields. I recently wrote about budget skincare brand The Ordinary and  Val and Hannah were just as eager to check out the products.

 

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I picked up the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% to help balance out my combination skin. I also wanted the Marula Oil but it was sold out. I have patches of dry skin at the moment so opted for the Multi Molecular Hyaluronic Complex from NIOD (also a DECIEM brand) because it has twelve different molecules of hyaluronic acid, as opposed to The Ordinary’s three.

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Hannah & Val checking out The Ordinary’s make-up which has a huge waiting list.

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After this, we headed to Debenhams on Oxford Street because I wanted to show Hannah the make-up line by tattooist, Kat Von D. The Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks are particularly popular and I purchased Double Dare, a rosy nude, for my holiday in Italy next month.

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Don’t bother with Kat Von D make-up if you’re going for the natural look.

 

In the lanes around Carnaby Street we stopped at MAC and visited roll n’roll jewellery store The Great Frog . This was a very cool store which Val had bought a couple of rings from in her youth. We were rather taken with the skull and crossbones stud earrings.

 

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After a M&S hummus run we called it a day.

 

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Day 1 haul

 

The next morning we met at the perfume department (obvs) in Fortnum & Mason. This was with the sole purpose of checking out the Ormonde Jayne Exclusive, Jardin d’Ombre. It’s a dusty iris in a garden of soft florals which our pal Pia of Love To Smell is mad about.  We both committed it to skin because at £195 for a 125ml bottle, you have to love it from beginning to end.

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Next we stepped into Santa Maria Novella, also on Piccadilly. It’s a tiny store but packed with the Italian pharmacy’s gorgeous bath and body products.  I was rather overwhelmed and should have done some research beforehand. I tried Iris eau de cologne, which was lovely, but it’s £90 for 100ml so I had to go away and give it some thought. It did actually last on the paper strip for a good while, so not bad value for a cologne.

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When Hannah mentioned she liked the smell of petrol, the SA brought out Nostalgia. It’s a chewy birch tar leather with bergamot, rubber, sytrax and amber. Unfortunately It became more like aftershave when it settled.

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Across the road at the Burlington Arcade, we went into the Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle stand-alone store. The lovely Pawel was incredibly helpful and even tried to get us to go away and think about our prospective purchases. He failed. I bought the brilliant 10ml travel bottles of Iris Poudre and the latest release, Superstitious (review to follow next week).

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The Carnal Flower Hair Mist was amazing on Hannah

 

Pawel showed us the Coffret with 10ml bottles of each of the fragrances. It’s £450 which is actually good value for the number and quality of the perfume you’re getting. Frederic Malle is an exemplary line. Whether I would wear them all or not, I admire every single creation and as a niche collection, it’s hard to beat.

 

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Superstitious by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

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Val had kindly booked us onto the Highgate Cemetery tour, for which Vanessa of Bonkers About Perfume was going to join us, but was poorly sadly. While the East Cemetery is open to the public for a fee at the gate, the West Cemetery can only be accessed via the tours, which are booked up weeks in advance.

This Victorian gothic Wast Cemetery has a really special atmosphere and you can see why a lot of famous people are buried here (most recently George Michael). The tour was a long wander around the pathways among the woods, which are packed with elegantly decaying graves. Highly recommended.

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East Cemetery above, West Cemetery below.

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The Sleeping Angel, my favourite.

Our last destination was Camden Market. It mainly appeals to younger people like Hannah, but I still enjoyed having a nose around and picked up a snake ring inspired by Undina.

 

On the way back to the station we stopped in at MAC again. Hannah works for the store in Salzburg and so I was able to benefit from her advice. She recommended the Cremeblend Blush in So Sweet So Easy and for a nude lip, Twig paired with Soar lip liner. I also took advantage of her youth to help me find a pair of trainers for spring/summer.

It was a fantastic day and a half. Happily, it felt much longer than that. We packed a lot in and it felt great to be in the company of these two fabulous females. I hope to visit them in Austria one year.

Keep an eye out for Val’s post covering her time in London on Australian Perfume Junkies in the near future.

 

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Day 2 haul

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Hannah, Val and I on our way to Highgate Cemetery

 

Have you tried any of the perfumes mentioned above? Do you have any recommendations for what to buy from Santa Maria Novella?

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Filed under Perfume Friends, Perfume Shopping

A London Sniffathon with Tina G of APJ – Photo Essay

I was so excited to finally meet Tina G from Australian Perfume Junkies for the first time last weekend. We’ve been virtual friends for a while now – we were introduced by our mutual pal Portia – and I really like the way she writes about fragrance. Tina’s been travelling across Europe and I couldn’t wait for her to get to London

For our intensive tour of some of the city’s fragrant hot-spots, Tina made the decision to concentrate on perfumes not available back home in Sydney, which was very wise. Believe me when I say the following highlights only cover a fraction of what we tried.

 

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Tina and I very happy to be together at Les Senteurs

First on our list was Les Senteurs where the lovely Murray spent ages filling us in on new-to-us brands.  Tina was drawn to the Tom Daxton display and we tested his new fresh floral, Magnolia Heights. I was keen to try the latest addition to Frederic Malle’s Editions des Parfums, Monsieur, which was not animalic the way I envisioned but a very suave patchouli.

Murray took us through Irish brand Cloon Keen Atelier from which Tina was intrigued by Castana which features the novel pairing of vetiver and chestnut, while I particularly enjoyed the bergamot tea of Infusion Assam.

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Tina hadn’t seen French house Les Eaux Primordiales before so we tried all of those, out of which she loved Iris Palladium and almost went for a full bottle. The whole range was very well done, including a vetiver and rhubarb scent in Abstraction Raisonnee and a very natural, wearable lavender with blackberry in Moment Perpetuel.

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Les Eaux Primordiales

Tina is a fan of minty notes so Murray suggested Geranium Pour Monsieur by Frederic Malle which she liked, but was most impressed by Menthe Fraiche from Heeley.

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Murray and Tina

Tina liked Ambre Russe and Tabac Tabou from Parfum de Empire, the latter being a great hay/narcissus/tobacco scent (review to follow). I was very taken with Yuzu Fou. I rarely click with citrus fragrances but this is very concentrated with loads of depth.

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After a meander through Marylebone we found Perfumer H, the new venture of Lyn Harris (of Miller Harris) which has been open for about 8 months now. The store smells of essential oils which is really lovely compared to the synthetic fug of mainstream fragrance shops. The very engaging Caroline told us about the Perfumer H concept. Lyn Harris is really going back to the craft, mixing up the fragrances in a small lab on the premises.

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Caroline in the lab at Perfumer H

They release two collections a year containing five perfumes (each from a different fragrance family), one for Spring/Summer and one for Autumn/Winter. When they’re retired from the current collection they go into the Archive but are still available to purchase. I wear perfume in line with the seasons so this idea appealed to me.

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The current collection of Cologne, Rain Cloud, Atlas, Leather and Musk

We tried the current collection (released in February) and were very impressed with all of them but particularly Atlas, Leather and Musk. On the other side of the room Caroline showed us the Laboratory Editions which are available to buy outright for your sole use (from £1,500) but until then, are available for sale as single bottles (from £140 for 100ml). So if you fall in love with one, you better start saving or stockpiling. From these we tried Ink, Smoke and a few others.

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Tina in front of the Laboratory Editions

Tina tried four Perfumer H fragrances on skin – Leather, Velvet, Atlas and Musk. I liked the cottony iris of Musk the best and as It happened, this is the one she decided to buy. The hand blown blue bottles are gorgeous but you can buy the perfumes in ordinary bottles for a lot less, which is what Tina did as it’s better for transporting home.

Next on the list was Selfridges where we enjoyed salt beef sandwiches before hitting the fragrance floor. After a pit-stop at Chanel we went to the Dior fragrance boutique. Tina hadn’t seen Les Elixirs Precieux before so we sniffed all four (Oud, Rose, Musc and Ambre). They are concentrated oils for layering and Rose is stunning, but so is the price at £225 for 3ml.

I was eager to try Dior’s new Le Colle Noire from La Collection Privée because it’s also a rose. It’s very pretty but I couldn’t detect anything particularly exclusive about it and I like my roses with more depth. There were no samples available but to my and Tina’s amazement the SA offered to spray the lining of my leather jacket. Thanks but no thanks!

 

 

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Dior La Collection Privée

Union sources its materials from around the UK and Tina had been impressed by her friend’s bottle of Celtic Fire so we went through the range of five fragrances. We liked Gunpowder Rose a lot and although tempted, Tina didn’t buy smoky Celtic Fire in the end. The heavy bottles were a factor.

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Union at Selfridges

Tina spotted A Lab on Fire so we sampled a few of those – including What We Do in Paris is Secret – which were surprisingly mainstream in scent. I was also disappointed to find you couldn’t pull the trigger on the Moschino Fresh bottle but had to take off the top and use the bog standard sprayer. Shame.

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Off to Covent Garden and Bloom next. Tina had been the first to tell me about British brand Beaufort and picked up a candle of 1805 Tonnerre for her friend back home. She tried all three fragrances in the line and admired Vi et Armis, which is way too much spicy smoke for me, though very striking.  Owner Oxsana kindly gave us a sneak preview of the forthcoming Beaufort release Lignum Vitae which is, to my surprise, a gourmand. We also tried a few from Turkish perfume house Nishane after which I got nose fatigue and left Tina to browse some more.

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Tina at Bloom, Covent Garden

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We finished off this fantastic day at Aqua Bar on the 32rd floor of The Shard where we met Mazz, a long-time friend of both Tina and Portia. I know Tina is partial to a cocktail and it’s hard to beat the views from here. I also love their Charcoal Cobbler cocktail which has charcoal sugar around the rim of the glass. I drank it rather too quickly and went home on the tube tired but merry.

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The view!

Perfume is a lot of fun and meeting up with perfume friends like Tina is just the best.

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The London weather did me proud!

Do you already love, or like the sound of, any of the perfumes mentioned here?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you already love, or like the sound of, any of the perfumes mentioned here?

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Filed under Perfume Shopping