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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

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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.

Love

x Heapnose x

Pure DKNY

March 2, 2010

Day 13 of the Heapnose Perfume Diary. Today I’m wearing Pure DKNY.

Donna Karan is New York. In the same way that Chanel is Paris, Ralph Lauren is the Hamptons and Katie Price is Essex. Her fragrances have always had a very strong NYC identity. The first DKNY was shaped like a Skyscraper, the second Be Delicious was shaped like a big Apple, and then there was a bunch of pointless variations on the Apple one – but all still with a strong New York vibe.

Pure sees the designer make a return to simplicity. “A drop of vanilla in a world that moves faster everyday. To find beauty in living simply, taking time out for the things which are closest to your heart, love, joy, embracing relationships, creating community.”

Hmm. It all sounds a bit nineties to me. I wonder how Beardy would feel if I started taking time out to embrace our relationship? I think he’d prefer it if I took time out to make him a tasty sandwich. I fear if I started Creating Community he’d probably leave.

Pretentious taglines aside, however, the fragrance itself is really really nice and very feminine. It makes me want to wear white and lark about in a New York loft with an albino child – not unlike the happy lady in the commercial. Unfortunately it fits less successfully with my NewLook fur coat and Primark accessories: Though in the coming months I can absolutely see myself wearing this with a neutral Spring wardrobe (Primark permitting).

It comes with a free plant-in-a-can.

I know a couple of vegetarians who’d be all over that shit. My boyfriend for one. There are other things which I would have preferred (in a can). Snow. Soup. A dancing squirrel. I realise Donna is making a point about simple living and all that but I do feel inclined to mistrust someone who has such a flimsy grasp on reality. Yeah yeah she’s selling a dream  – but she doesn’t have to flog a lifestyle choice. Say what you will of Heapnose, (and plenty have) but at least it has a sense of its own absurdity. Something which is noticeably absent from the perfume industry at large.

It isn’t fair to pin all this on Donna. If she hadn’t given me a plant-in-a-can I would have ended this review with some glowing remarks about the fragrance composition (vanilla, dew drop, lotus, white amber – all lovely); its longevity (not bad, not great) and a plum quote from Sion the Amiable Translator

“It smells like that bit of road between Barry town and Cardiff Wales Airport”

Instead, I’ll end it with…Great fragrance Donna. But would you please just bugger off.

Prada

March 2, 2010

Day 12 of the Heapnose Perfume Diary. Today I’m wearing Prada.

Effortless Elegance? AMAZING. Longevity? AMAZING. Can I say its name without sounding like a Nob-Head? AMAZINGLY YES. Did I get this perfume for the bargain price of $40 because someone had accidentally priced it incorrectly in Sephora Toronto? AMAZINGLY YES. Did I then tell them it was my birthday and get a free lipgloss? AMAZINGLY YES. And a $5 “birthday” voucher? YES. And cheesecake? NO. Does Pat Heap like it? YES. Does Beardy like it? YES. Does it come with a beautiful atomiser that makes even my IKEA dressing table look like a set piece from a classic 1940s movie? YES. Does the atomiser leak when you take little Prada for a day out in your handbag so that when you come back from a trip to see the in-laws, you have NO perfume left but some really fragrant credit cards?

SHIT. A. BRICK.

Design faults notwithstanding, this is a lovely perfume. And it lasts for bloody ages. And it’s a cracking mosquito repellant. If I had any left I’d still be happily spritzing away with my trusty atomiser…instead of desperately rubbing my collarbone with my Boots Advantage Card, trying to save the last vestiges of the scent. Oh, the indignity.

Usually I would try and include a few quotes from other (less good) fragrance reviewers, but as regular Heapnose readers will know, most other (less good) fragrance reviewers are bat shit crazy and this is never more obvious than in the bonkers reviews which the Prada perfumes have inspired: From

” …Quite strong. Like the hand that rocks the cradle”

to

“..Makes you think of an ideal, measured and ethereal garden inhabited by rarefied other-wordly creatures”

Blimey. So I’ll move on.

The thing about the Prada family of fragrances is that they really are a family. Each fragrance in the collection, including the men’s, shares the same base notes, but each has a discernibly different character. Like Girls Aloud, minus the rogue ginger. Or the Blackadder series. I like the signature Prada theme…it’s refined, elegant, classic, and above all, it lasts.

So even though this fragrance is a good five to ten pounds more expensive than your standard D&G – you’re going to get more for your money. Though, I should say, this isn’t true of all the Pradas. Original; Yes Definitely, Infusion D’Iris; Yes Probably and L’Eau Ambree; Not really. This latest release is actually the nicest, but is also the most discreet. If you want to knock ’em out at ten paces – go with the original.

So what does it smell of? Well I’ll begin by telling you that it’s got Tonka Bean in it. That’s right, breathe easy Heapnoses. The Tonka Bean is back. I must tell the the nice lady on Guerlain that she can now cast her fragrance net further afield than…well, Guerlain. Other notes (as if they mattered) are bergamot oil, orange oil, mimosa, Indonesian patchouli oil and vanilla absolute. There are other numerous other notes to the composition, but in truth, the ingredient lists, and ensuing descriptions were heading into frighteningly pretentious territory…“This fragrance was composed by an army of 12 Swiss Dwarves, housed beneath a purpose built Alp, under which they toiled for nigh on 35o years before emerging with the definitive Prada scent…” etc etc

So I’ll quit while I’m ahead and simply say that it smells feminine but not at all girly. There’s a good bit of depth, it’s strong and it’s achingly classy. If (UK readers) are looking for a Mother’s Day Gift then I’d say any one of the Prada fragrances is worth a punt…for the class without the punch, and some Spring-friendly lighter notes, you could try the L’Eau Ambree gift set in House of Fraser (Cardiff). Decent size perfume, a free body butter and a counter lady who isn’t stingy with the samples. Sold. Just beware of that bloody atomiser.

Bvlgari Aqva Pour Homme

February 25, 2010

Day 11 of the Heapnose perfume diary. Today I’m wearing Bvlgari Aqva Pour Homme.

In response to the sharp increase in male Heapnose readers (Huw, Clack, Neil) and a recent criticism of Heapnose in a national publication*

“…We give you women the right to vote, more pay, bigger ovens and you reward us by reviewing your own toilet water. Its a disgrace!”

(*In a private email)

your intrepid blogger has taken it upon herself to subject a male scent to the stringent Heapnose perfume test. The traditional Heapnose 3 stage test (patented) was replaced with one all-purpose criterion. Can I get Jonesy to fancy me? Well allright, Jonesy or any other women who happen to be around that day.

I doused myself liberally in aftershave, but, having been warned on more than one occasion by more than one employer that the office “isn’t really the place for comedy lesbianism” I set off instead to the studio rehearsals with the specific intention of identifying what women find hot.

“Do you want my sex?” was my opening gambit to Jonesy as I wafted around her in a vaguely masculine way.

“No. Piss off.”

Later qualified with

“You smell like satsumas”

In fact a number of people identified citrus fruits in the top notes, citing everything from the humble tangerine to the fairly exotic papya. Truth be told however, I wasn’t exactly fending women off with a stick. The overwhelming responses were bewilderment (makeup), disinterest (hair) and fear (Jonesy).

Surprisingly the male crew members were a lot more effusive in their critique – and had some solid suggestions for potential blog improvements.

“Naked women” ventured crew member 1

It’s a perfume blog”

“Naked women holding perfume bottles” supplied crew member 2. “With beer.”

A quick tally  revealed Davidoff Cool Water  to be the preferred fragrance, but only because of habit, apathy and “cos [my] sister fancies that fella off Lost”. A salient point – how is  the discerning gent expected to make an informed fragrance selection when the advertising is so shamelessly directed at women? Seemingly open to new suggestions however, the sound department was duly doused in Bvlgari and sent off into Cardiff City Centre with strict instructions to “Text if you pull” .

At time of going to press, no texts had been received.

At time of going to press, I remembered that the sound department didn’t have my number.

It was an interesting test…though one which is yet to yield any tangible results. At this stage I’d go so far as to say, gentlemen that I don’t think Bvlgari is the one for you. It’s appreciably less well known than a lot of other guy scents – but there’s a reason a for that. Stick with me. I’ll find you something better. I’ve got some Aqua di Parma to try next week. And a smattering of others thanks to the helpful (but puzzled) lady at House of Fraser. Until then – stick with Marc Jacobs. He’ll see you through the last days of winter.

x Heapnose x


Euphoria by Calvin Klein

February 23, 2010

Day 10 of the Heapnose perfume diary. Today I wore Euphoria by Calvin Klein.

Today was a tough day to be testing a new fragrance. I’d been asked to help out with the sound on a location shoot in which a reptile expert built a new habitat for slow worms. I don’t know much about location sound – I know even less about location reptiles. I figure red or yellow are bad, green are good, and anything in the middle should be poked with a boom to determine amiability. Such reptilian acumen proved itself to be  invaluable in the field when i accurately identified a passing toad as being of dubious morals. The fragrance testing, however was somewhat more complicated.

Cold location shoots in South Wales do not provide the optimum conditions necessary for a Heapnose perfume diary entry. Swaddled beneath layers of waterproof gear, overwhelmed by the scent of “outdoors” and “the environment” poor little Calvin didn’t stand much of a chance. My co-workers were underwhelmed “You smell like pond water” seemed to be the most popular reaction, with “barnyard animal” being a close runner up. Outdoors 10, Calvin Klein 0.

Hostile conditions notwithstanding, Calvin Klein fragrances do have a tendency to date very quickly. CK One is 1994 – my first year in high school, elasticated waistbands on jeans, doc martens and the X Files. Similarly Euphoria is 2005 – When Sienna Miller was relevant and Ashley and Cheryl Cole were…well, pretty much the same, actually

That said, it’s by no means an unappealing scent. Sweet, yes, but full bodied, and impressively long lasting. It’s composed of persimmon, pomegranate, black orchid and mahogany all swimming in rich creamy base notes. Bois de Jasmin remarks that

“…While Euphoria does not take the concept of pomegranate into uncharted waters, it offers an elegantly composed interpretation”

Surprisingly I agree. It’s fine, it’s just not balls-against-the-wall awesome. Kind of underwhelming. I’ll give it a nine for longevity and a five for effortless elegance. As for the can i pronounce its name without sounding like a knobhead? I’m reminded here of a conversation between Pat Heap and a male cousin, in which the former was extolling the virtues of a Bijon Frise as a suitable pet. The cousin remarked that whilst he was certain that the canine would prove to be an adequate companion, he didn’t relish the prospect of telling people down the pub that he was the proud owner of a Bijon Frise. Similarly, I just don’t want to tell people down the pub that I’m wearing Calvin Klein. So can i pronounce its name without sounding like a knobhead? No, I don’t really think that I can.

Insolence by Guerlain

February 17, 2010

Day 9 of the Heapnose Perfume Diary. Today I’m wearing Insolence by Guerlain.

Hilary Swank isn’t the most obvious choice to be the “face” of a fragrance. Yes she was good as that lez in “Boys Don’t Cry”. And she was also good as that fighting lez in “Million Dollar Baby” and as that flying lez in “Earhart.” Hilary Swank is a lot of things – an Oscar winning actress, a high-earning Hollywood heavyweight, and the proud owner of a rare African parrot. But she’s not exactly feminine. Her own IMDB page admits as much

“For a few weeks before Boys Don’t Cry (1999) began filming, she went out in public dressed as a boy. Many were fooled by the disguise.”

One can only wonder who Guerlain asked before they hit upon the Swank. Diane Keaton? Kofi Annan? Yogi Bear perhaps? Regardless, Swank it was, and, upon reflection, and after a quick glance at the dictionary definition of Insolent perhaps she’s not such a bad choice after all:

in-so-lent

adj.

Presumptuous and insulting in manner or speech; arrogant.

In fact if you precede this with “Swank is likely to punch you if you are…” then you’ve pretty much got a text book definition of our friend Hilary. Combine this with an ad campaign which Guerlain no doubt would call Fierce and Heapnose no doubt would call Threatening bordering on terrifying and you have yourselves a match made in heaven.

I just wish they’d gone all the way with their campaign. If you’re going to use Swank and you’re going to get her to look a bit moody, then hells bells, let the poor lass dress in her customary overalls…give her a toolbelt. Don’t make her wear pink and stand next to a flower, she looks like a bull about to be let out to pasture.

But what of the fragrance? Insolence is apparently Guerlain’s attempt to break free of the shackles of its “posh” reputation and entice a younger breed of client. Guerlain is the world’s oldest parfumerie – My great grandmother (Jennie) actually used to wear Mitsouko and the traditional Guerlain base notes are still prevalent in the house’s modern fragrances

Your friend and mine, Mimi Frou Frou remarks that the perfume’s true notes are not immediately obvious

“Insolence is seen as a hidden force rather than as exhibited as immediate proof and demonstration of one’s mettle.”

This is true actually, you need to wear it for a good twenty minutes before you can get an accurate read on it – whether or not this is a demonstration of my hidden mettle I couldn’t say. What I can tell you is that the perfume includes hints of orange blosom, rose, sandalwood, raspberry and..erm tonka bean. I know what you’re thinking – thank goodness for the tonka bean. The lady on the Guerlain counter today informed me gravely that she rarely wears any fragrance which doesn’t include a Tonka Bean. I tried to summon an appropriate response that didn’t sound like I was taking the piss…

“Yeah, I know what you mean…”

…was the best I could come up with.

Is it nice? Yeah, it is. It’s different to your standard Clinique or Dior, and with the current rage for all things Vintage, the old fashioned under-belly of the fragrance is actually surprisingly relevant. It’s a bit like a funky talcum powder. I like it. But the best thing about it is Swank.

Usually a fragrance I like will either transport me back to a favourite childhood memory, or forward to a life of charming idyll with Beardy, in which we live extravagantly but happily off the Royalties from the Heapnose book, TV series and 3D IMAX experience. Conversely, Insolence transports me to a parallel universe in which Swank and I live happily together…perhaps on a small-holding in America’s midwest . She’d teach me how to knock up a treehouse from a few bits of wood. I’d show her how to preserve the pears from our orchard. Perhaps we’d have a goat. And a cheeky front door mat which read  “Meet the Swankers” It would be a simple life. But a good one.

Until tomorrow noses

x Heapnose x