|Lyn Harris looking satisfied with her handiwork, as well she might!|
Facial expressions, gestures, body language and posture, eye gaze, appearance (includes choice of perfume! Or it could do, though that is not an example they give...), haptics (I know that from my studies on car dashboards - it's a fancy name for touch), proxemics (fancy name for personal space) and paralinguistics (fancy name for tone of voice. No, strike that one, as it also involves words, and we are keeping those to a minimum, or trying to.)
"So get on with your mini-reviews then!", I hear you chorus.
LA FLEUR ("Truth or Look" aka "New Dare")
“A floral classic, white gardenia and Indian tuberose flowers set the tone with gentle woods, vanilla Bourbon and musk.”
When I first applied La Fleur on skin in store I had a banging headache and thought it was a bit loud and shrill, with that shampoo-y chemically vibe commonly found in gardenia-"containing" scents (well, excluding the really high end ones like Isabey). Yes, Jo Malone Vintage Gardenia, I'm looking at you. No wonder you were discontinued. Then when I tried La Fleur at home, with all my faculties on form, the opening was more "bright and juicy", and still a little bit synthetic if I am honest, but the impression was not as marked. I was reminded quite a lot of Madonna's Truth or Dare, which also has a big loud artificial opening, though it additionally has all that caramel undercurrent going on. And it is somewhat louder than La Fleur, I might add!
But anyway, very quickly that startling entry settles into the main turn, as La Fleur morphs into a very creditable poor man's version of Dior's New Look 1947 laid over a bed of Truth or Dare - minus the caramel. Not a deep bed, mind - one of those narrow caravan mattresses. For I get more New Look than Truth or Dare as La Fleur wears on. Oh, and I mean "poor" mainly in the monetary sense, for aside from the first few moments, La Fleur feels anything but cheap. And at £25 for 50ml, it actually is every bit as inexpensive as a celebuscent. As Truth or Dare, indeed! But La Fleur comes across as classier than Truth or Dare - which I thought wasn't at all bad when it came out - and its quality feel overall is somewhere in between that and New Look, just as one might expect from such a hybrid smellalike! I can't quite make up my mind where it sits along the spectrum, but at least half way. I sense that my knowledge of how much New Look actually costs may be playing into my perception of its superior quality, and I really would have needed to have smelt La Fleur and New Look blind to be sure of my ground. Though it should be remembered that the opening of New Look doesn't smell artificial, not even for a minute or two.
When La Fleur gets properly into stride though, you have this pretty big white floral that has been tamed, and tastefully muskified - but crucially not laundry muskified. In fact The Duchess of Cambridge would have been better off wearing this on her wedding day, because it is the sort of perfume she was going for, though she ended up with something much more sharp and artificial throughout.
For reference, here are the notes for New Look and Truth or Dare - they are by no means the same, but there is some white floral-vanillic-musk crossover for sure. I see there is no musk mentioned in New Look below, but maybe the benzoin strikes me that way.
New Look: peony, ylang-ylang, pink pepper, jasmine sambac, rose, tuberose, iris, benzoin, and vanilla
LA ROSE (A Mohur-style sleeper?)
“An elegant classic; rose petals with sparkling green notes of galbanum and red berry with a base of Indonesian patchouli, sweet musk and amber.”
Right, so on first smelling this one I immediately thought that La Rose was Lyn Harris's concession to the traditional M & S shopper, the "blue rinse brigade" if I may be so uncharitable. I got a lot of powdery rose, which can so easily read as old-fashioned to my nose, Floris White Rose-style, and the rose was of that sharp metallic type that I think is the more expensive sort (a natural of some kind even? - can anyone help me out?), but which isn't really my preferred style of the note. I also got a rooty, earthy facet coming through, very likely from the patchouli, together with the piercing sappy brightness of the galbanum, a note I find challenging as a rule. I thought La Rose well done and realistic, but on balance probably not my thing, at least not in its early stages. Then as it develops, Diptyque L'Ombre dans L'Eau came to mind, which also showcases the vegetal quality of the rose.
For reference here are the notes of White Rose and L'Ombre dans L'Eau - interestingly, I seem to have picked up on a shared base of amber and musk!:
L'Ombre dans L'Eau: rose, blackcurrant bud, amber, musk, and myrrh.
I am calling this a "Mohur-style sleeper", not because La Rose smells like it particularly, apart from the retro powdery aspect - this is much greener, however - but because I suspect it will be the one that is overlooked in the trio. La Fleur in particular ismore accessible, more of a contemporary crowd-pleaser, while La Rose feels like a scent from a bygone era. It comes across as high quality from the off, and may appeal to vintage lovers. I must say that once the tinny green rose aspect wears off a bit, along with the excess powder of the opening, I do like its later stages quite a lot. Which I know sounds like damning with faint praise, but the drydown is the longest stage, after all.
LA POUDREE (Hold the opening!)
“An oriental classic; raspberry and peach nectar with soft rose, orange flower, iris Florentine, vanilla and musk.”
|Fleur Oriental incense - the opening of the scent does get up my nose a bit!|
I had a polarised reaction to this one: I liked the opening least out of the trio, and the drydown most. On first application, La Poudrée hits you with a wall of thick musk which instantly harks back to Miller Harris Fleur Oriental, which I do not care for for this very reason, and in this regard is also reminiscent of Parfums de Nicolai Sacrebleu, which has a similarly suffocating opening. A fug of powder or musk or both - I don't rightly now what I am smelling, but it could induce a headache amongst those of a delicate constitution, as I was the first time I tried it.
Compared to La Fleur, La Poudrée takes longer to move into the next stage, but it is very beautiful when it does - a rosy, fruity, vanilla oriental that I defy anyone not to be seduced by (or anyone who likes vanilla orientals as a category at least). I can't think of any other overtly fruity vanilla orientals, but this is as lovely as it may be ground-breaking (and it probably isn't - please say if you know of others!). I can see La Poudrée being a top seller, along with La Fleur. And I can see La Fleur being more generally wearable, also for me.
For reference, here are the notes of Fleur Oriental and Sacrebleu - ooh, I see Fleur Oriental has musk AND heliotrope - that goes a long way towards explaining its particular fug wall! And Sacrebleu is a seriously big production as you can see, but - and this is key - it shares "stifled orange notes" with Fleur Oriental and La Poudrée in its opening. I also note the potentially worrying presence of tonka bean:
Fleur Oriental: fresh orange blossom, heliotrope, spicy carnation, Turkish rose, amber, vanilla and musk
Sacrebleu: mandarin orange, fruits and red berries, carnation, tuberose, jasmine, cinnamon, olibanum, woody notes, vanilla, patchouli, sandalwood, peru balsam and tonka bean.
Overall verdict? Very well made scents, excellent for the money. I'd buy two of the three, and with La Poudrée would simply waft and wait a bit. Now we can all pick up a Miller Harris perfume along with our underwear and ready meals, and the high street is much the better for it.
Photo of Lyn Harris and shots of the trio of Lyn Harris scents from the M & S website, photo of green rose from 1ms.net, photo of Fleur Oriental incense from the Miller Harris website.