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Saks 5th Avenue by Bond No. 9

January 11, 2012

Beware the ill-fitting top

Day 29 of the Heapnose Perfume Diary. Today I’m wearing Saks 5th Avenue by Bond No. 9.

I’m not cool. And I generally disapprove of people who are cool. Years of labouring under the weight of a mono-brow, followed by years of labouring under the weight of excess weight, followed by such socially alienating stints as “Debate Team Captain”  and “German Song Contributor” did not really lend themselves to being part of the in-crowd. As my mother often observes.

“…it was the dressing up like a camel part that was the real clincher”

Heapnose Age 17 (Centre)

So i’m surprised, and not a little disappointed to find myself embracing a perfume brand which epitomizes New York cool. From their uber-trendy headquarters in “NoHo” Bond No.9 have launched a collection of fragrances with the dual purpose of “restoring artistry to New York” and to “mark every New York neighbourhood with a scent of its own.”

Now how exactly Saks 5th Avenue could qualify as a “New York” neighbourhood worthy of its own scent, is a bit of a head scratcher. More vexing still, is how this might serve to “[restore] artistry to New York”

Happily Deborah Walters, Senior Vice President and General Merchandise Manager Cosmetics and Fragrances clears things up with her statement that “Saks Fifth Avenue is excited to be collaborating with Bond No.9 on Saks Fifth Avenue for Her…Everyone here is thrilled to be part of such a unique fragrance collection of New York neighbourhoods and feel it is such an honor to have two fragrances dedicated to our New York flagship”

To be honest with prices starting at $125 plus an additional $150 to ship overseas (TO CANADA!!!) I’d be pretty bloody excited and honoured too. Thank goodness that Beardy has a mother who not only spends considerable time in the US but also thinks transporting over-priced perfumes across the US / Canadian border is a valuable use of both time and luggage allowance.

And so do I. If I were to pick a dessert island scent, this would undoubtedly be the front runner. Its longevity is astonishing, its versatility (both seasonal and occasional) is incomparable , and the scent itself is absolutely divine. A true white scent, this is the best use of Gardenia since Carolina Hererra’s 212 – notes of jasmine, tuberose and vanilla are offset by a smoky vetiver which keeps it from being too sickly. It is by far the most commented-on perfume of my (significant) collection, and the ONLY fragrance in my possession which I would replace without a moment’s hesitation. Preferably on Feb 14th, Beardy, if you’re reading.

Happily, although I firmly hold that fragrance maketh the woman,  wearing such a self-conciously trendy brand has not turned me into a fedora wearing twat. Yet. I think there’s still a couple more German songs in me still.

Heapnose age 27


Heapnose x

Love in White by Creed

January 10, 2012

Day 28 of the Heapnose Perfume Diary. Today I’m wearing Love in White by Creed.

Created in 2005 by Olivier Creed, this was the first fragrance to be released by the House of Creed in five years. Apparently they’re still riding the “we made perfumes for Queen Victoria” wave. Sad, really.

Anyway, Olivier boasts that he travelled all seven seas (and indeed all five continents) to handpick each and every one of the ingredients: A journey which took him five years. On his yacht.

Frankly, I’d have preferred it if Olivier had seen fit to do a bit of hostel hopping, and knocked 50 odd quid off the price tag. Starting at about £85 for 30ml, this fragrance is bone chillingly expensive. Much like spending 5 years on a yacht I should imagine.

Still, Olivier’s search of the seven seas yielded the following ingredients

“Orange zest from Southern Spain, white jasmine from the Italian Coast, daffodil from the French Riviera, sandalwood from Mysore India, young rice husk from Tonkin, iris from Egypt, magnolia from the Guatemalan Mountains and vanilla from the Island of Java.”

Call me sceptical, but somehow I can’t imagine Olivier Creed, the yacht owning, seven-sea sailing heir to the substantial Creed fortune, scrambling up the side of a Guatemalan mountain, in search of the perfect Magnolia… It’s a bit like when I tell Beardy that our fabric softener came from the eco-tent at the farmers’ market. He knows it came from Wallmart. I know it came from Wallmart – but as long as his smalls stay soft and there’s a picture of a happy tree on the bottle, he’s not going to kick up a stink.

But Creed do have one of the most credible reputations in the industry. A father / son business since 1760, they have fragranced some of the classiest wrists in the business. Laura Bush, Michelle Obama and Angelina Jolie (post-sex dungeon, brother-snogging era),  are all said to be huge fans of this particular fragrance and it’s not hard to see why. It’s the sensory equivalent of dunking your head in fresh spring water and finding lilies and cream beneath the surface. I’m completely smitten.

Unusually for such a complex fragrance, there’s no journey to be made. It starts exactly as it ends – but its impressive longevity (at least 5 hours with a fair wind) more than compensate for its static nature. I do maintain, however that no fragrance is worth close to a £100 for a 30ml. And frankly if you’re still boasting that the Empress Sissi of Austro-Hungary is one of your best-known clients boys, then I’d say it’s time to update your website.

Tom Ford: Black Orchid

August 23, 2010

Somebody crapped in my back garden last night.

Not a euphemism. Actually happened.

Day 26 of the Heapnose perfume diary. Today I am wearing Tom Ford’s Black Orchid.

There are some perfumes I wear because they make me feel pretty. Others I wear because they make me feel sexy. There are a few (a very select few), mostly reserved for job interviews and airplane travel that make me feel powerful. There is only one perfume that I wear, simply because I fancy the arse off the designer.

God Bless Tom Ford.

Is it the well groomed brows, or the expensive manicure? Perhaps it’s the uncompromising approach to tailoring in a world where flip flops at the office have become de rigeur. Or maybe it’s just the infinite and unparalleled success. Everything he touches turns to gold.

Tom Ford has his own Black Orchid, He’s (imaginatively) named it “Tom Ford’s Black Orchid.” Given that there exist only four in the world, that’s pretty impressive. Given that Tom Ford owns one quarter of the world’s total supply of Black Orchids, one would have hoped he could have come up with a better name for it. Like Stuart. Or Gomez.

So where are we so far? Someone crapped in my back garden last night. Tom Ford owns a Black Orchid. I fancy Tom Ford. The, perfume, of course, the perfume.

Suffice to say it’s exquisite. Absolutely exquisite. It oozes expense, sophistication and strength. It is unlike anything else currently available, effortlessly fusing the vintage credibility of the ancient French parfumeurie, with the glamour and sophistication of present day New York. The sensory equivalent of a really first rate dining experience: Dripping with guilt and wildly overpriced.

Somebody crapped in my back garden last night. Here is another picture of Tom Ford.


Heapnose x

Acqua di Gioia by Armani

May 31, 2010

Day 20 of the Heapnose Perfume Diary. Today I’m wearing Acqua di Gioia by Armani.

In 1996 Giorgio Armani released what would arguably become his most famous fragrances – Acqua Di Gio for him and Acqua Di Gio for her. The former fast became, and remains still the world’s top selling men’s fragrance, adorning the artfully whiskered jaw lines of unimaginative plebs the world over. The latter, facing stiff competition from the nineties trinity of Klein, Hilfiger and Lauren, failed to set the ladies alight, and quietly faded into obscurity: Last seen at the Duty Free Counter in Luton Airport – the elephant graveyard of the perfume world.

14 years later, Giorgio remains determined to right this perfume wrong…to give us girls our aquatic fragrance back. Hell, we got the right to vote, to go to University, to demand equal pay, to wear trousers, and according to one Heapnose reader, to cook in bigger ovens: We’ve surely earned the right to smell good as we smash through those glass ceilings. And so Armani gives us “Acqua di Gioia” a fragrance which “…celebrates woman and nature”.

Inspired by a Mojito (good start) the fragrance is underpinned by the feeling of female independence – hence the deliberate absence of a man in the (concededly beautiful) ad campaign. The pro-girl power message is blurred somewhat however by the 19 year old supermodel who writhes on beaches, frolicks with horses (plural), and drinks from fresh water pools in a leafy jungle. Now admittedly I’m no trail blazer, but none of the above bear any sort of correlation with my plans for the long weekend. Woman and nature might be better represented by a pallid 26year old, sans makeup, shuffling sluggishly around Roath Park Lake, rueing the previous night’s 11th mojito, spurred forth only by the promise of an M&S Hoi Sin Duck Wrap and an evening of searching Richard Armitage on YouTube. Still.

Idole D’Armani – the last Giorgio release reviewed by your faithful nose, was elevated above High Street status by its impressive longevity, even in the face of a self loathing biscuit binge. Acqua Di Gioia fails to live up to any such standards of longevity – expect a couple of hours from this, at best. However, given the onset of summer, and the subsequent need for something a bit lighter, for once, I’m not holding that against our friend G. On a humid day in the office, or a hot day in the city, when fragrance is forced to co-exist with the twin scepters of summer; man-feet and man-pits – a refreshing fragrance, is, well, refreshing. It’s not insipid either. For all the talk of aquatics, there’s a warm, brown sugar base to this one that gives it a bit more gusto. Pat Heap really likes it, and aided by my recent acquisition (appropriation) of (someone else’s) desk fan (aka the fragrance fairy) the smell has been much commented on by office visitors. It’s not a classic – and if Giorgio was aiming as such then it falls short of the mark. But as a summer handbag mainstay, it’s great. Don’t expect the earth, and don’t pay full price for it – and you won’t be disappointed.

Available from July

Joy by Jean Patou

May 20, 2010

Day 19 of the Heapnose Perfume Diary. Today I’m wearing Joy by Jean Patou.

Armani announced this month the intended release of their newest fragrance “Acqua Di Gioia” – Quite literally a perfume designed to capture the essence of Joy.

Given, however, my recent and palpable absence of “Joy”, I find myself simply unable to summon the good cheer necessary to review such an inoffensive perfume – and have opted instead to launch a vitriolic and unprovoked attack on Jean Patou, for his horse-piss excuse of a perfume, also, and misleadingly entitled “Joy”.

What a bloody awful perfume this is. I knew I was in trouble when I found myself apologising for the smell, before visitors even crossed the threshold.  The most constructive response came from my office companion, a long-time sufferer of my fragrant whims who suggested I “Go away and euthanize (my)self.” Nobody likes it. Nobody at all – although someone in the office does own it – a result of a Christmas re-gifting by a (now more) distant (than ever) cousin

Launched in 1930, just after the stock market crashed, and shortly before the USA settled into a state of great depression, (I”m saying nothing) “Joy” was, famously the most expensive perfume in the world. Now it’s not even the most expensive perfume in Duty Free at Luton

Favoured only by nostalgic perfume critics and women in their 80s, It smells like a combination of drains, cat pee and my Great Aunt Emily. When I smell it I’m reminded that my boyfriend is 3000 miles away, my best friend is moving to Paris, Richard Armitage will probably never love me, I’m unlikely to find fame as a horse whisperer, the Tories are in power and the comfort eating is beginning to show. Short of being holed up under a wrestler’s armpit, immediately after he consumed a chicken korma and performed a large and satisfying pooh, I simply cannot imagine a fragrance which I could like less.

Next time more Joy I promise. But for now, more cake.


Heapnose x

eaudemoiselle by Givenchy

April 19, 2010

Day 18 of the Heapnose Perfume Diary. Today I’m wearing eaudemoiselle by Givenchy.

There are some French things that I really like (Fries, Kissing, Cuisine). And some French things that I really dislike (Toilets, Toll Roads). There are very few French things which actually bore me. Until I encountered Givenchy’s latest insipid release.

I can clearly recall motoring through France on balmy summer days, and being forced to urinate behind strategically placed bushes in order to avoid the dreaded “hole in the floor” toilets which so terrified me in my formative years. But never, while popping a squat kerbside on a busy French Autroute; never while sporting Pat Heap’s trademark “plonker” t-shirt (designed for the  young female traveller with less than perfect aim); never while hovering nervously behind a well placed Camion, praying for a brisk flow; Nay never did I lament what a terrific bore all this was. Undignified, perhaps. Deeply unpleasant, definitely. But never dull.

In that sense, Givenchy has succeeded where the great French Nation has failed. In creating a fragrance so profoundly dull that I can hardly drag my fingers across the keyboard long enough to review it.  Yes it has notes of mandarin, Italian winter lemon and  cedar wood. Yes there’s a cheeky tonka bean in there somewhere. But it doesn’t do anythingit doesn’t break new ground, it doesn’t inspire fragrant debate in the office, it doesn’t even kill bugs. It’s the rich tea biscuit, the John Travolta thriller, the Pantene shampoo and the Coldplay album of fragrances. It does the job, but if there’s anything more exciting in the offing, you’d bin it in a heartbeat.

Steer clear noses, this aint worth a whiff. Crap name too.

Love x Heapnose x

Balenciaga Paris

April 18, 2010

Day 17 of the Heapnose Perfume Diary. Today I’m wearing Balenciaga Paris by Balenciaga.

It being Spring, there being little hope of a (British) summer and my being temporarily sans voiture , I’ve decided to invest in a bicycle. Well, I’ve decided to think about investing in a bicycle. Well, i might get a bike.

But before any formal semblance of a plan can be permitted to take shape, I must first identify a Spring fragrance which can withstand the rigours of a twenty minute cycle to and from the office each day. Anticipating (somewhat ambitiously) that my morning ride will take me o’er both moor and mountain, my new Spring fragrance will need to prove its endurance in the face of inclement weather, hostile terrain and the possibility of navigating an underpass. A tall order indeed.

The first of the fragrant candidates is Balenciaga’s 2010 Spring release – Balenciaga Paris.

I’ve always wanted a Balenciaga purse. I’ve never really thought much about a Balenciaga fragrance, but then they offered a free purse with purchase.  Canny. As I forked out the last of my hard earned sheckles, somewhere a Balenciaga marketing executive laughed at the moon.

Parfumeurs on the whole believe that as soon as summer hits, we women will either want to smell of citrus fruits or the sea. Conversely Balenciaga demonstrates some seasonal balls with its metallic overtones –  I like it. It reminds me of the Balenciaga gladiators that I’ve always wanted – (Hear that marketing execs? Size 5). A tough edge is definitely to be admired in a Spring fragrance – and the unusual choice of Charlotte Gainsbourg as the “face” only adds to this. She’s definitely a lady who’d do a few rounds in the ring with Hilary Swank, then enjoy a packet of pork scratchings and a cheeky fag behind the Dog and Duck.

It also has some great violet notes, and a lingering powdery base which may well remind you of kissing a whiskered maiden aunt, or, perhaps more encouragingly, of the chalky childhood sweets of yester-year.

I debuted this fragrance on my friend Claire’s hen night. Did I prove irresistible to all those who crossed my path? No. Might this be because I spent the evening zombie walking through the club Thriller style? Possibly. Did it last? Yes, all evening – which, given that a Cardiff nightclub on a Saturday night roughly resembles Beirut, is no mean feat. Will it last on a cycle ride over boardwalk and quagmire alike? Possibly not. Do I encounter either boardwalk or quagmire on my journey to work? Well, no, but there is that nasty underpass, and a few large puddles filled with brackish water.

Hell, I know it’s contrary to the spirit of longevity, but I can always re-apply when I get to work. Particularly since the perfume also came with an additional handbag sized bottle. It’s as if those marketing execs are inside my mind.

Yep, I’m definitely going to persevere with this one throughout Spring. It’s cool, it’s edgy, and moves seamlessly from day to night  – which, as the evenings grow ever longer, and I move seamlessly from desk to bar, is pretty damn handy.


x Heapnose x

Cartier Eau De Cartier Essence D’Orange by Cartier

April 7, 2010

Dear Monsieur Cartier

I am writing to you from the popular fragrance blog to thank you for the latest addition to your fragrance collection – Cartier Eau De Cartier Essence D’Orange by Cartier.

I fully realise that you sir no longer head up the Cartier brand, since selling it to that wily Swiss corporation.  However given that the fragrance features your  family name (in fact, features it more than once, and on some bottles more than twice) I felt it only fitting that any criticism, positive or otherwise be addressed directly to you.

Monsieur Cartier. Your website assures me that Cartier Eau De Cartier Essence D’Orange by Cartier “…draws its brightness from a vibrant and luminous citrus cocktail (orange, bergamot), a delicate floral heart (violet flowers, acacia) and trails with sensual woody amber notes (cedarwood, patchouli)”

Monsieur Cartier, one can only be grateful for the descriptive power of the written word since I can happily assure you that Eau De Cartier Essence D’Orange by Cartier smells of absolutely nothing. Monsieur Cartier I am nothing if not a liberal user of perfume. I spray generously. In many circles I am considered a bio-hazard. Eyes have been known to water in my presence, allergies are wont to present themselves as I enter a room, a building, and once even a city. Monsieur Cartier, I am convinced that if there were a fragrance to be found somewhere within Cartier Eau De Cartier Essence D’Orange by Cartier, I would have found it. Alas no.

My office contemporaries stopped dead in their tracks today, day no. 16 of the Heapnose perfume diary.

What? No perfume today Heapnose?” enquired my executive producer as he braved the office atmosphere, asthma pump at the ready.

For the first time in over a month, my nearest neighbour was actually able to taste his lunch. The room was teeming with visitors, buzzing with the news that the smog over the second floor had finally cleared. Office doors were opened, industrial fans were turned off. Somebody even baked a cake. Jonesy penned a brief but moving poem; “A Holiday for the Senses: The Day the Mushroom Cloud Left” by HC Jones.

Monsieur Cartier, I can but thank you. Thank you for giving Iestyn his taste buds back. Thank your for bringing friends, old and new to the second floor office. Thank you for inspiring Jonesy to verse. Thank you for freeing us all from the captivity of our asthma inhalers – Thank you Monsieur Cartier for one glorious perfume-free day. It was, quite simply, the best 35 pounds I have ever spent.

With all good wishes from myself and everyone here with me today.

Your Friend

Heapnose xxxx

Beautiful by Estee Lauder

March 30, 2010

Day 15 of the Heapnose Perfume Diary. Today I’m wearing “Beautiful” by Estee Lauder.

I am not Beautiful. I’m not even Beautiful inside which is a bit gutting. Though less important. But it’s ok, because Estee Lauder tells me that there are no ugly women. Estee Lauder of course lucked out and died before reality tv caught on. Which probable explains why her quintessential fragrance is not entitled “Shades of Mediocrity”   “Morally Bankrupt” or “Virtually Orange”

Anyway since the name “Beautiful” no longer works as a statement, I’ve opted instead to see it as a promise. Where previously it was I am, now read If I wear this perfume I will be… BEAUTIFUL

So here’s the challenge Estee. I don’t mind telling you that I’ve put on 9 pounds in the past few weeks. Which, allowing for my three flexi-pounds, and two absent boyfriend pounds means I am still a full four pounds overweight. And in fact, given that my flexi-pounds aren’t even working at full capacity right now, since I’ve not yet hit the red wine this week, I could be as much as eight or nine pounds overweight. So until I get my excess, my flexi and my additional absent boyfriend pounds down to a reasonable level, Estee, I need you to make me Beautiful. Hells yes.

This is a very floral fragrance. Fans of the tonka bean (Guerlain Lady) will not be disappointed, but there’s also a bouquet of other notes including  lily, marigold, rose, tuberose, carnation, jasmine, lily of the valley, orange blossom, ylang-ylang, sage and thyme, all warmed by some rich woody base notes. She calls it the fragrance of a thousand flowers, others call it the fragrance of a thousand sneezes. I don’t care either way, I just want to feel Beautiful.

And do I? Well, no not immediately but I do feel very very feminine. It’s nice to wear a floral fragrance that isn’t at all Spring-like – it’s rich, romantic and luxurious. I tried to get some ego-boosts from co-workers this morning by asking them to choose an adjective to describe me in a fragrant context. I was hoping for Beautiful. I was disappointed. In fact “definitely not pleasant”, “mental” and “like my mum” were the best the office had to offer. Gutted.

I may not be Beautiful, but I’m surprised to say that i like this perfume. Or perhaps I just like Estee. She’s iconic in a Coco Chanel way without all the guff.  (I should probably, at this point note that although the Estee Lauder brand name is not as relevant today as she once was, her sphere of influence is HUGE. Estee Lauder owns, amongst others Jo Malone, Creme De La Mer, Bobbi Brown, Aveda, Clinique, Bumble&Bumble, Prescriptives, MAC, Origins and Michael Kors.) Yep, just because their spokesmodels are a bit nineties (Paltrow, Hurley I’m looking at you) Estee Lauder’s Empire still reigns supreme in the Cosmetics Halls. Even when you’re not wearing her, chances are, you’re wearing her. Plus she was the lady who first started distributing free samples of cosmetics. And for that, I salute her.

If I were the sort to adopt a signature fragrance, Beautiful would certainly be in the offing. It goes with anything, can be worn in all seasons, and will also always be available but will never become the populist choice. I bet there’s always a good deal on gift sets at airports too, since it will never be super trendy, and hasn’t quite reached the “never on sale” states of Chanel. It lasts for ages, I don’t sound like a knobhead when I say its name, and although I may not feel Beautiful, I feel pretty damn good. Good size sample too. Nice one Estee.

Love x Heapnose x

Untitled by Maison Martin Margiela

March 28, 2010

Day 14 of the Heapnose perfume diary. Today i’m wearing “Untitled” by Maison Martin Margiela.

But before I get into the review – I’d like to apologise for the recent Heapnose hiatus. After a particularly fragrant few months this nose felt that some time away from the old grindstone was much needed, to charge the old batteries, gather up some new fragrances and re-discover the simple joys of perfume. I went on holiday.

Happily, in my absence Belgian fashion house Maison Martin Margiela, paired up with cosmetics giant L’Oreal to create his first fragrance imaginatively entitled “Untitled”. (I’ll come back to that.) Even more happily, cosmetics giant L’Oreal sent their PR person sniffing round the blog world, where lo and behold she encountered Heapnose. And got in touch. And sent me a bottle. For nothing. Before its official UK release date. So far so good, Maison Martin Margiela.

Background research revealed that Martin Margiela has in fact now separated himself from his Maison, but not having heard of Martin, much less his Maison, I don’t really care whether or not the perfume reflects Mnsr Margiela’s anti-fame, recycling, simple living ethos – but his “no label” policy does explain why the perfume doesn’t have a name. Or, as another, less good perfume reviewer notes  ” [Martin Margiela] prefers to self efface behind his house.” Blimey. One can only hope the neighbours aren’t watching.

I’m not really into reading about the philosophy of the perfume – and in fact, having been the lucky recipient of the press pack which accompanied this fragrance, I’ve come to see that there’s a hell of a lot of philosophy it, including an interview with the person who designed the bottle

Q: Why have you left a trace of paint (on the bottle)? Was this an accident?

A: No

…and a whole load of guff about the plants that were used in the composition. In six languages.

However, I do see where MMM is coming from – this perfume is a reaction to the current climate of celebrity fragrance. In a world where “Brand Beckham” counts for more than the actual scent, I can certainly see the value in selling a fragrance which is an absolute blank canvas – it can be worn by anyone, anywhere and purports neither to sell a fantasy nor a lifestyle choice. Donna Karan take note – Martin Margiela isn’t trying to tell me that my life will be better if I buy his perfume. And I like that.

I also like the fragrance. It’s very green, perfect for spring but with some amber and oriental base notes, and its longevity is quite simply superb. Pat Heap and I both put it on after the gym last night, and it stayed put throughout the evening and well into the following day. Another (unnamed) critic in my acquaintance surprised me with the suggestion that there was “a hint of an arse smell in the lower notes” although I must confess, this did not occur to me. I picture myself wearing this fragrance whilst blackberrying, picnicking or riding a bike with a basket. None of which I can recall doing in the last ten years, but all of which I see myself doing in the next ten days thanks to my new friend Mr Margiela. It’s hardly a power dressing fragrance, but perfect for a mild Spring day.

Given that the literature accompanying the fragrance notes that “Untitled” …”subtly awakens a hidden feminity in our memories” I was surprised to learn that it is in fact a unisex fragrance. So this afternoon I duly took it, and some of the press pack literature round to my mate Owen’s house to see how the other half felt about it.

Owen seemed quite pleased with the scent (on me), less pleased with the scent (on him) and entirely displeased with the scent (on the dog). When queried as to whether or not the perfume awakened a hidden femininity in his memories, he looked confused, then frightened. Ditto the dog. I left shortly thereafter. But I was really quite impressed with the fragrance results on Owen. There’s a new wave of traditionally female scents smelling great on guys – (Beardy’s been rocking Jo Malone’s latest Vanilla and Anise to rave reviews ) and this is no exception. It smells good, clean, and unfussy. Which, from what I understand of Maison Martin Margiela, is exactly what he was going for.

Until next time Noses – oh and if any of you gentlemen want to borrow this perfume, please let me know – I’m intrigued to see what you think.


x Heapnose x