• An olfactory rendition of Le Smoking: Encens Satin by Armani

    An olfactory rendition of Le Smoking: Encens Satin by Armani

    Armani Privé Encens Satin

    Warm resinous and sensual

    There’s a real shift towards women choosing more classically masculine scents. Encens Satin is a good example for its warm, woody, resinous smell. It is super sensual without being a big, powerful oriental or blowsy floral – so as such it is also unexpected.  Its sartorial equivalent would be a fine, cashmere smoking jacket.

    Spices abound to start – cardamom, ginger and pink pepper.  It is a beautiful electrifying opening. Then balsams and thanks to cistus, a smokiness.   There is also elemi, which is a resin from the elemi tree and gives a citrusy, lemony accent. Immortelle, a yellow flower that has a spicy yet soft, curry like aroma has been worked into the blend.  It may not sound appealing, but it just melds right in there.

    Star ingredient is of course incense, which moves around the scent like a heart beat. Incense can smell cold and is how I would describe Armani’s original riff on incense: Bois d’Encens. I have kept it in my collection for I love its straight talking quality: I am incense, love me. Yet the warmth here you may find more wearable, less churchy.

    Cedarwood and patchouli lie at its heart with an ingredient called ambrox (like ambergris which is almost addictive, you just want to smell and smell it – Hermès Eau de Merveilles is steeped in it). So as Encens Satin warms on your skin you are left with, well, a warm, resin-y, lovely scent.  Ripe for a cold February evening at the opera or indeed home, by the fire.

    Perfumer – not given

    Bottle design – Armani

    £155 for 100ml  BUY >


  • Flowers, Quinces & London rain: My Burberry

    Flowers, Quinces & London rain: My Burberry

    My Burberry

    English flowers and sweet fruit floral

    When you first apply, My Burberry has a kind of fresh, appealing soapiness to it. This may be the effect that its top notes, which include bergamot and sweet pea have.   After a minute or so, it develops into a fruitier thing, with bright pops of citrus (the bergamot), geranium leaf (a green leafy scent – just a hint of – tempers the sweet), wafts of clear, fruity freesia, and an overlying sweet fruitiness. This must be the golden quince note that the perfumer Francis Kurkdjian was so excited about, when he first told me about this scent, his handiwork as Burberry’s in house perfumer.

    In keeping with a general rose theme that’s running through so many new scents right now there is rose. Two roses from Bulgaria and Iran: fruity rose not fusty rose. And then there is patchouli, which holds it all together and keeps it fresh.

    So, My Burberry, its overall feeling?  Imagine a big bunch of roses, freesias and sweet peas sprinkled with a citrus dew that, as it burns off with the warmth of your skin, becomes mouthwatering, sweet, then soft.  Burberry’s metaphor is a London garden after the rain.

    This is an easy, wearable scent that’s hard not to love.

    (For a longer version see My Take)

    Perfumer – Francis Kurkdjian

    Bottle design – Christopher Bailey, Burberry

    £45 for 30ml – BUY >

  • Aoud scent: spiced & resinous

    Aoud scent: spiced & resinous

    H The Exclusive Aoud Rich spiced & resinous 

    Full bodied and earthy, like you’re diving into a deep, dank rich man’s cave.  It is lined with cedar wood, infused with resins, frankincense, damp moss nestles within the cracks – and there’s a sprinkling of petrol.  In that good, moreish way.

    I feel like I’m in a male space here, but there is also an underlying and expensive floral facet – there is jasmine from Grasse, and Rose de Mai (a vital flower in Chanel No5 – both are in fact). But these are as if encased in these richer, deeper, darker notes – barely detectable.

    There are resins, patchouli and aoud – the distinct Middle Eastern ingredient that doesn’t overpower (as it can) yet there’s the thing.  The ingredient is in the name – it is integral.  But it feels like here it’s low key: there to do what Dove once told me: to bring out the rest – here, it’s its warm, damp, leathery, full-bodied charm.

    An expensive smell that leaves a soft, sweet, exotic yet tempered trail.

    Perfumer – Roja Dove

    Bottle Design – Roja Dove; crystals, Swarowski

    £395 for 50ml at Harrods

  • Fantasy Flowers: Candy Florale by Prada

    Fantasy Flowers: Candy Florale by Prada

    Prada Candy Florale

    Spun sugar in a web of fruits and flowers – sweet, exotic 

    Mouthwatering fruit punch floral, like knocking back the contents of a glass crammed with pears, lychees and grapefruit with a dash of syrup.  There’s the chink of ice against crystal somewhere in that moment, too.  That’s what happens when you first spray this new floral scent – Candy Florale – from Prada.  I left it for a few minutes, 20, 30, and then coming back to it, a warmer, more exotic floral scent had come through.  A fresh yet exotic white flower – for Prada it is an imaginary flower – fruity, sensual and sweet.  But not girlish.

    Perfumer – Daniela Andrier

    Bottle design –

    £34.65 for 30ml  BUY >

  • Neroli scent laced with orchid

    Neroli scent laced with orchid

    L’Occitane Néroli & Orchidée Eau de Toilette

    Fresh exotic two-flower floral

    This is a scent steeped in a handful of my favourite ingredients: mandarin, neroli, fig and iris.  It opens with the scent of orange and mandarin and then moves on swiftly, revealing that lovely, clean scent of neroli, laced with hints of peach and fig.  They take away the too clean and medicinal effect that neroli can sometimes give to a scent.

    There are touches of the patissier.  Orange blossom (neroli) is often used in French pastry making and perfumer, Karine Debreuil wanted to bring that into this.  Proust would have approved – the smell of the madeleine triggered in him affectionate memories of his tea drinking, madeleine dipping aunt on a Sunday morning.  This story also inspired Debreuil, she explains.

    What of the orchid?   Its scent is extracted by covering the bloom in a glass bulb to capture the smell.  This is then analysed and recreated in the lab.  The technique is known as head space extraction and is used for the more delicate flowers.

    Musk and iris give the scent a warm finish.  It’s a lovely neroli scent.

    Perfumer – Karine Debreuil

    Bottle design – Olivier Baussan

    £49 for 75ml  BUY >


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