Friday, 30 December 2005

No slap today

I know. Try not to be too disappointed. It’s still the season of goodwill (still!) and I’m taking part in a hit parade (that dates me, doesn’t it?) of the best perfumes and beauty products of the past year. Well, I’m not in the running. You know what I mean. Not so easy peasy as I thought when I foolishly agreed to do it. I don’t try everything that comes out and I’m not sure I even tried ten perfumes/cosmetics in the past twelve months, let alone liked them.

Best of 2005

Cèdre by Serge Lutens
I don’t know how well it went down in France, but this hasn’t been a great success in the US, among my pals at MakeupAlley anyway. The fools! LOL!

For me it was love at first sniff. It reconciled me with tuberose, which until then had made me gag. I was even tempted to retest Tubéreuse Criminelle, also by the Divine Serge and his acolyte Chris Sheldrake, and found I did like it after all. Cèdre doesn’t have the mentholated opening of Tubéreuse Criminelle, which is a bonus really since you get to the ‘nice’ notes that much quicker. It doesn’t have much cedar either, in spite of its name – it’s not Black Cashmere, for instance, but too much cedar can be boring – like in Black Cashmere, for instance. It’s just a soft and complex mix of flowers and spices. I would wear it if I weren’t wedded to Fleurs d’Oranger, which is the best of last year, this year, every year. I’m the faithful kind.

Climat by Lancôme
My own personal fairy godmother sent me a whole bottle of this ‘60s perfume, recently relaunched by Lancôme. Everything about it is beautiful: the bottle is the epitome of chic; the juice is a lovely green; the scent is classic, fizzy (it’s the aldehydes); it lingers nicely. It’s ‘old-fashioned’ in the best possible way (please, no jokes about ‘old-lady’ perfumes!); it’s elegant. “Just what a perfume should be like,” said my partner about it. Yep!

Parfum Sacré by
I’d always thought Caron and I didn’t agree. I was wrong. I think I'd dismissed the whole line because I’d only smelled Fleurs de Rocaille and Nocturnes and hadn’t liked them. Then, a couple of years ago, I received a small decant of Parfum Sacré from an American pal and became rather besotted with it. I kept it on my desk and sniffed it constantly. This year I decided to take the plunge: I bought a bottle of PS from a delightful French eBay seller – one of those bottles with small glass knobs dotted about and a big gold top: very baroque, just right.

I’m so bad at describing perfume (I’m on MakeupAlley on sufferance, you know)! I can never detect all the notes like my friends the real perfumistas. Parfum Sacré is peppery, incensey, powdery, flowery… I’m running out of adjectives ending in ‘y’… it’s warm, soft, comforting… and I adore it.

Divinora Cupidon Lip Pencil by Guerlain
I’m cheating a lil’ bit here: I discovered it late last year, but it’s so good… It’s a shiny, pale, flesh-coloured pencil that restores what I found out yesterday is called the ‘milk line’ in English: that whitish line one has along one’s lips when one is young – it disappears with age, as lips themselves vanish (where do they go?). Line your Cupid’s bow with it and your lips look instantly younger and plumper. Better than collagen injections and surtout less painful.

Correcteur d’Hydratation pour le Visage (remember, light ‘a’ not ‘â’) by
Samuel Par
I found this wonderful face oil on the shelves of my local TK Maxx, which is invaluable for clothes and accessories, etc. but pathetic for perfumes and cosmetics… except that time. I would never have bought it full price but it was drastically reduced for some reason and I grabbed it, because Samuel Par is a great skincare brand. This is a light oil, packed full of delicious-smelling essential oils: lavender, savory, geranium, sage and red thyme. Can you imagine the gorgeous smell? I use it before going to bed. It’s beyond scrumptious.

Lotion nettoyante pour peaux intolérantes by Avène
I developed some kind of allergy to one of my skincare products a few months ago and decided to change my routine – starting with my cleanser. Boots sells the Avène range, which contains spring water from the spa of the same name (the French love spas). The whole range is meant for ‘sensitive and irritated skin’ and this cleanser is different from anything I’ve used before. It’s a light, creamy gel that removes make-up and grime in one fell swoop and doesn’t require the use of a toner. I’m sticking with it.

Rosé Granati Soothing Hand Lotion by
Molton Brown
I was bequeathed a sample of it (don’t worry the giver is not dead: I just like the word ‘bequeath’) and that was it: search no more; thou hast found thy hand lotion hg (‘holy grail’ for the ignorant among you). It smells delicate; goes in beautifully (although, when I want to massage my nails while watching the telly, I use an oily cream that takes an age to go in) and it makes your hand soft soft soft. The best.

Rêve de Miel Lip Balm by
Years and years ago, when N. Kinnaird, the founder of SpaceNK, was on the lookout for original, preferably foreign cosmetics and skincare products, I wrote to her and told her about that brand, which was on sale in the parapharmacie departments of supermarkets in France. I remembered it from my childhood and I knew it was good quality. I never heard from her (she later asserted she’d never received my letter), but within six months Nuxe was on the shelves of the original SpaceNK shop in Covent Garden (it was soooo small!). Do you believe in coincidences? Anyway, I think SpaceNK do not stock Nuxe any longer, now that the products are sold in Boots (a snob, moi?). The only Nuxe thing I use is the lip balm: it does not contain petrochemicals; it tastes of grapefruit and honey, and lasts forever (careful, it does go off: no preservatives, you see). I apply it at night and, in the morning, my lips are as smooth as … (the words ‘baby’ and ‘bottom’ come to mind, but …) Although, yesterday, I received a small tube of Lip Balm by Durance en Provence from a French friend. It's also almost all natural and tastes lightly of honey. My lips, this morning, were as smooth as... so maybe next year, when we do this again, I will have another product to rave about.

There you are! How many is that? Seven. Sorry. Can’t think of anything else. For more recommendations, please visit the perfume mavens listed below (better cut up your credit card now).

Update: I’d like to add a wish for 2006 – a heartfelt wish: I want lip-glosses and shiny, glittery lipsticks to go back to where they came from. I want a return to creamy – or matt – proper lipsticks. Gooey, sticky doesn’t do it for me!

Many thanks to K of Scentzilla! for the beautiful logo above, and to A of Blogdorf Goodman and R of Now Smell This for organizing the whole fun thing!


  1. I love Parfum Sacre so much and I just realised- with horror- that I did not include it my list. Shame on me! I slap myself.

  2. thank GOD the sample-giver survives ... and I greatly enjoyed your list! Cèdre. Yum. Happy New Year, J! xoxo

  3. LOL -- I would have been so disappointed if you had found 10 things to love, J. It just wouldn't have been fitting. So glad you are reconciled with Tubereuse Criminelle, and I *must* get me some Climat.

    Wishing you a very happy 2006!

  4. Climat was a wonderful gift! That was my 2nd favorite from the relaunched fragrances.

    Lately our TJ Maxx stores in Ohio have been bursting with great products in the skincare section. I just picked up the Prada moisturizer and have been pleased how well it has worked. I will have to keep an eye out for Samuel Par's skincare line. We might get lucky.

    Have a great New Year J!

  5. I love Parfum Sacre too. And I must admit (for a tuberose hater) I could wear, and maybe enjoy Cedre.

    I must make a point of checking out TJ Maxx this weekend!

    May you have a beautifully scented New Year!
    Victoria O

  6. you're the one who started my lemming for Divinora Cupidon lip liner - i have yet to cave on that one, though i have caved on their mascara. soon! soon!

    Parfum Sacre is wonderful; i'm glad you're besotted with it. i enjoyed the rest of your list as well.

    have a great New Year!

  7. I cannot agree more on Climat and Cèdre. Cèdre was definitely a discovery of the year, and I should have mentioned it alongside Borneo 1834. Climat was a rediscovery, because it was a fragrance my mother wore, and I cannot but feel a soft spot for it. I might wear it today.

    Rêve de Miel Lip Balm is actually the balm you introduced me to, and unlike NK, I will acknowledge it. :) It is wonderful, and now several people in my family use it and love it.

    Happy New Year!

  8. hello Auntie Bela!!!
    I love Parfum Sacre as well! =) I want to try the Nuxe balm. Thank you for such a nice review!

  9. Came to say HAPPY NEW YEAR.

    I'm embarrassed to say that I just don't know much (if anything) about scents.

  10. A wonderful and eclectic list, Bela! I do like Climat, I just got a bit of it to try. A very Happy New year wish to you!

  11. poh god, now I really, really have to to try Cedre!!

    Happy New Year J!!


  12. I wondered how you were going to handle this - an invite to write nothing but praise for a whole column! ROFL at 'hit parade' on Slap of the Day!!

    When we do meet, someday, i've promised to forego anything gardenia scented, if you'll recall? Well, would you please keep that Cedre far, far away from me? Seriously - i tried it and decided my arms just aren't long enough to get it a suitable distance from my nose. I think it has potential from across the room.

    Parfum Sacre, on the other hand - well, if it's on the other hand, that's the one i'll sit by!

    Hugs and best wishes for a prosperous New Year,



  13. CEDRE?! YOU? I must have missed your ravings on the board :) And now I must try it. MUST. TRY. IT.

  14. I wanted to say that I had the urge to dutifully purchase several items on your list. Also, I have quietly enjoyed your slaps here on this blog for quite a while and that's saying a lot for a vanilla girl like me! Ah, my milk line is showing! Forgive me if I am so tired from writing my own Best List that I have become delirious.
    Signing off and Happy New Year.

  15. C, your list was great as it was. :-)

    Yes, isn't it lucky the giver survived, M? Bequests from living people are most enjoyable.

    R, I love lots of things, but they're, like, very old. LOL! Not liking anything Tuberose was becoming a liability. Still waiting for the Gardenia perfume that won't make me heave... Hello? Are you out there somewhere?

    A, that gift was so unexpected and generous. The TKMaxx find was unexpected too and never to be repeated, I think. I don't care so much, as long as my branch continues to stock lovely cashmere knitwear. :-)

    V (1), I think you would enjoy Cèdre: it's very light and soft. Good luck at TJM's.

    You should cave in on the pencil, R: it's really good. Thanks for your kind words.

    V (2), the person who sent me the bottle of Climat said she couldn't wear it because an older member of her family did. LOL! That perfume has resonances for lots of women.

    I think quite a few Nuxe products are overrated, but not the lip balm. Glad you're enjoying using it.

    K, I'm so happy to see you again! :-)

    TLP, how on earth did you get mixed up with this crowd? LOL! Your lack of perfume knowledge could be easily remedied.

    Thank you, P! I enjoyed your list too.

    K, you must, you must! It may surprise you. :-)

    D, I'm the most enthusiastic person I know! (What does it say about those other people? LOL!)

    I can't imagine how one could hate Cèdre so much. I promise I won't be wearing it when we meet. I'll be wearing Fleurs d'Oranger, of course.

    I don't think I raved about Cèdre on the board, J, although I do 'defend' it whenever it's mentioned in less than glowing terms. But it's a losing battle, I'm afraid. Do give it a chance!

    C, I can promise I'm telling the truth about those products.

    No need to be so quiet here. Join in the slapping!

    'My milk line is showing'! Hee hee! Wish mine was. (Isn't it a cute name for that thing?)

    Hey, wasn't that fun? I have a long list of products and scents to try in the New Year. Happy New Year to all of you!

  16. Well you've gone and forced my hand. I have had to face up to the fact that I simply MUST own Climat. Despite my promise to myself that there would be no new frag purchases 'til at least after my birthday, you've pushed my longing over the edge. Thank god for eBay at least.

    And now I'm having second thoughts regarding Cedre - I guess I will have to give a whack after all. You are a very expensive loaner of lemmings.

    Btw, did you ever locate the reissue of Antilope in edp form?

  17. I plead not guilty, K! LOL! You helped organize this exchange and creation of lemmings, didn't you? You may be able to get the vintage Climat on eBay - even better than the reissue.

    Cèdre was a revelation for me - tuberose-wise and I'm very grateful to it.

    No, I never did. I have no idea where to get Antilope edp, I'm afraid. Sorry.

  18. That's a shame. Oh well. Of all the Weils, the Antilope can still be picked up in vintage parfums or bath oils really reasonably on eBay usually. Hopefully your friend can catch a break there. Unfortunately, I keep hoping to score vintage Climat, but it quickly leaps out of price range on the last bidding day. Every flipping time. At least I picked up the newer issue on the "cheap," which makes me quite pleased.

  19. Ooops, meant to say out of MY price range. I can't justify spending a hundred bucks on a few measly drops left in the bottle. And I have a hunch that is why it costs so much - it's got a very collectible pretty bottle.

  20. I can't justify spending a hundred bucks on anything much so I can't blame you for giving up.

    Enjoy your new Climat! :-)


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