Sunday, 15 August 2010

Discount Perfume: Because Cheap Doesn't Have To Mean Nasty... No 1 -

Last night I was zapping restlessly between "Australia's Ladette to Lady", "The Grumpy Guide to Class" and a documentary about Kylie, when I chanced upon the shopping channel, and my attention was immediately grabbed by the bidding frenzy over a job lot of two perfumes. Mindful of the recent hoo-ha over Mary J Blige selling her debut perfume My Life exclusively via HSN, I decided to watch for a moment or two, and found myself compulsively drawn to the action unfolding...

I don't often look at shopping channels, but I quickly twigged to the fact that the sales technique used is a reverse auction, where the price starts high and gets cheaper the more stock they shift. And shift it they did - when I tuned in there were 350 of these perfume duos left, and by the time they moved on to the next item (a 40 piece cosmetics kit that worked out at about 20p per item, and this at the starting bid!), there were about 100 lots left, though not for long I suspect.

"But what were the perfumes?" I hear you ask. Quiksilver Roxy Love (30ml) and Kiss Her (50ml). Exactly - are you much the wiser? Well, I am aware of Quiksilver as a brand of surfing gear, and I have seen Roxy something-or-other in T K Maxx one time (though I have never smelt any of the range), but Kiss Her was a new one on me. It is the in-house fragrance of Kiss Cosmetics, an online beauty retailer which carries a number of low to mid market brands like Maybelline, Rimmel, Max Factor and Bourjois.

The male TV presenter didn't disclose very much about these perfumes - at no point was the viewer given a note list, for example, though I think he referred to Roxy Love as "citrussy" at one point. His patter was so fast it is hard to say for sure. Kiss Her he described as a floral scent that could "go from day to night", but that was about it - or all I took in, at least.

The main sales message he was there to ram home was simply that the two scents were a steal at the price (£12.99 for the pair when I tuned in, falling to £5.99 by the end of the slot) - the subtext being that at prices this low, the concept of an informed purchase becomes an irrelevance... And when viewers did make a purchase, they got a name check on air, and were reassured that they had made a wise choice. It went something like this (punctuation not included, because I don't remember there being any):

"Well done Sarah from Driffield you won't regret it hello Jean from Wigan yours are on the way you can't go wrong John in Coventry your wife will love them what a bargain you've got yourself Barbara in Hull they are only £4.50 apiece now and going fast grab yourself a bargain before they're gone Dawn Sally Rachel hello Gillian Bert good buy only 200 left now this is such good value Jane absolutely mad not to..."

So, given the fact-lite nature of the sales pitch, here's some additional information - firstly, this from Amazon on Roxy Love:


"A citrus-floral fragrance that’s as energizing as a cologne. It blends tea leaves, freesia, peony, citrus, pomegranate and a Bahia orchid note obtained through Scent Trek (headspace technology). Designed by: Antoine Lie, Givaudan."

Antoine Lie is the nose behind the woody woodfest that is the new Comme des Garcons Wonderwood, plus a bunch of other Comme des Garcons scents, including a couple of citrus numbers. He also created a clutch of fragrances for Etat Libre d'Orange, including....drum roll.....Sécrétions Magnifiques! So, you know, visions of grapefruit-scented unmentionables inevitably float into your head as you try to imagine how Roxy Love might smell, assuming it is an example of his best work, which I don't imagine it would be at that price point. That said, the notes don't sound too shabby, even though I have become a crashing snob about peony (with the shining exception of Histoires de Parfums Vert Pivoine).

A big more digging unearths the following - rather more impressionistic - description of Roxy Love from

"...woman bathed in an ocean of passion and joy. Flouting (sic) a message of life and desire, Roxy Love is a concentration of tender emotions written in pink floral-citrusy notes against a blue background."

I also found a few reviews on Makeupalley and Fragrantica:

"When I first smell it, it gives me a headache but after a few mins it smelled like lemeon. I was undecided on it but the price and the fressh lemon scent become the reasons that I put it in my collection."

So price was a main driver - she sounds like just the sort of model punter our man is looking for.

Another reviewer captures the effervescent quality of Love with a vivid confectionery image:

"Remember "flying saucers"? The rice paper casing enclosed an acidic fizzy sherbet that could make your eyes cross.....& now I find it in perfume form!"

I DO indeed remember flying saucers, and they are not endearing this perfume to me, ditto the two comparisons on MUA between Roxy Love and Alka-Seltzer.

And then we come on to the larger of the two bottles, the multi-tasking floral, Kiss Her.


Finding hard information on this one presented more of a challenge, as you can see:

"Launched by the design house of Kiss in 2006, KISS HER by Kiss is classified as a fragrance. This feminine scent posesses a blend of: Wet fig leaves, Vintage Mahogany Exotic Black Orchid, Crushed Red Peppercorns. It is recommended for wear."

"Classified as a fragrance" reminds me of the 'damning with faint praise' remarks people used to make when they peered into my pram (I was a very plain infant), along the lines of: "Now there IS a baby." As for "It is recommended for wear", would this be as opposed to drinking it? Running our car on it? Using it instead of mace spray to disarm attackers? And could there be a comma missing, or is there such a thing as a "mahogany orchid" perfumery note? With headspace technology, I guess anything is possible...

Now this scent appears to be below the radar even of MUA, and I could not find the name of the perfumer anywhere. Which I don't necessarily take to be a sign that he is hiding. Reviews were also quite thin on the ground, though this one jumped off the page:

"used this going to work at a mazzios and at the end of the night instead of smelling like onions and pizza i could still smell the perfume!! I always got comliments and the only other thing i use is Addidas and Hiku.. for a little something differant."

Okay, so it is recommended for wear - specifically to mask strong culinary odours. A picture is beginning to emerge.

I did, however, find a more comprehensive note list, which is chock full of what I can best describe as the Chantelle and Kayleigh of perfumery ingredients - things like "sueded frangipani petals", "apple-tini" and more...

Top notes: Apple-tini, Wet fig leaves, Red peppercorns
Heart notes: Red Poppy, Black Orchid, Sueded Frangipani Petals and Calla Lily
Base notes: Amber Crystals, Musky bare skin accord, Patent Leather and Mahogany.

Joking aside, I actually wouldn't mind trying this one, as the leather, wood and fig leaf notes sound genuinely appealing. : - )

Riveted by the sales spiel - or 24Mbps sales babble, more like - it never occurred to me to question whether this combo of two perfumes for £12.99, or even £5.99 at the closing price (plus £7.99 p & p), represented good value. On the face of it you would think so, however, a cursory google of online retailers throws up some equally bargain basement prices for either scent at around the £4.99 mark.

So the moral of the tale is that shopping for perfume on a shopping channel can be thrilling, and if you are lucky your purchase may not even be nasty. But it won't be all that cheap either. Or let's say that the possibility of its not being such a bargain cannot be discounted...

: - )

Photo of logo from, photo of presenter auctioning other perfumes from, photo of Roxy Love from, photo of flying saucers from, photo of Kiss Her from


Unknown said...

OMG wet fig leaves - I just imagined Gene Simmons naked except for... No. Just no.

I also have become a huge snob about peony. It's so boring. Does Vert Pivoine smell like green peppers? Because I think green peppers have a touch of "gym shoes" to them.

Vanessa said...

Hi kjanicki

OMG you are right - it is the actual Kiss typeface - how did I miss that?? "Wet fig leaves" will never be the same again... : - )

Vert Pivoine is a brisk, green peony but gym shoe-free, so do try it if you get the chance!

Katy Josephine said...

Intrigued by the 'leather and mahogany.' But paired with apple-tini? Hmmmm.

And what the hell is 'skin accord' really?

It's either nasty or brilliant.

Vanessa said...

Even the word "apple-tini" is annoying, isn't it?

Yes, this one could go either way, so for now I am keeping an open mind!

Anonymous said...

I've actually heard some fairly nice things said about Kiss Her... although fig leaf is an automatic "Dear God, NO" for me, wet velvet notwithstanding.

I have scored some really excellent things at the online discounters - my favorite of those being the first Ines de la Fressange and Hanae Mori Haute Couture, both fizzy happy summery things. But I think my fragrance deal of the year may be the 75ml bottle of J'Adore L'Absolu I just bought on ebay. The starting bid was .99 pounds sterling (sorry, I don't have the symbol on my keyboard), so I bid some ridiculously low number on it fully expecting the next bidder to kick it to the curb. No next bidder. Final price, converted to US currency: $8. $8! Including shipping!

Cheap doesn't have to be nasty - especially if you can find something made with decent raw mats just after it's been discontinued and somebody's dumped the stock...

Wordbird said...

Yanno, I'd be fine with a bottle of Kiss Her, if only for the cheerful chortles it would give me when I put it on. Let's face it, it can't be as bad as some of the dreck out there! :)

I think I remember Kiss Her getting some love in our Basenotes 'I dare you' Celebuscents synchro day a year or two ago, when people wore some stunningly hilarious scents. (Who knew Spongebob had a cologne?)

As ever, a wonderful and witty column, Ms Bonkers. Thanks for a good giggle!

Vanessa said...

Hi Muse!

I would definitely try Kiss Her if it crossed my path, notwithstanding the visions I now have of Gene Simmons in a posing pouch. Those are great bargains you mention, especially the J'Adore L'Absolu. I thought I was doing well to get Le De (Mythiques version) on Ebay for £7.50 excl P & P, my best ever online coup.

And it is so sweet that you have no £ sign on your keyboard! : - ) I have one for $ and one for £, but sadly none for euros, which I need just as often...

I called this post "No 1", thinking I might come back and write separate posts on other cheap retail channels in due course, perhaps when I score my next great deal - or have a major disappointment...

Vanessa said...

Hi Wordbird!

Thanks for your kind comments, and you have got me even more curious now about Kiss Her... Oh, how I would have enjoyed taking part in that celebuscent synchro day - sounds a riot! It has got me thinking what my "signature celebuscent" might be... Mr B would encourage me to pick SJP Lovely, as being the least worst, most soaplike perfume in my collection, but I'd like to think I could come up with something more eclectic and random than that, lovely as Lovely is!

Nina (Top Perfumes) said...

I heard a lot about "KISS HER" by Kiss and now I want to try it.. Good ingredients, nice design and ... cheap :)

Vanessa said...

Hi Nina,

This one is rapidly shaping up to be an outright lemming (and I never thought I would say that!)

: - )

ScentScelf said...

*To mask strong culinary odors.*

Now that's an upfront sales pitch!

Actually, maybe I could do with some of that. I do, I do! remember flying saucers...we had them here, too...ay, caramba, I can feel them on my tongue even as I write this. I think we even played communion with them, perish the thought--or, perish me, stricken by lightning, non-religiously affiliated child that I was.

{shakes off feel/non-taste taste to continue...}
I fear television shopping, as I have trouble enough containing myself with online auctions. I have gotten some good deals, though, via non-auction bargains: Madame Rochas and Jolie Madame come to mind as reasonable perfumes for a song, so long as you can put blinders up regarding the fulsome creatures they once were. Then there's Silences, especially the older but still being dumped version (plain grey box, not the one with repeated holographic text), pure "What a deal!" delight.

I wish I could like SJP. I'm just not that in to her/it, I am afraid...

Perfumes said...

Do You remember Kylie Minoque in Agent Provacatour commercial video? It's my favorite tv ad :)

Vanessa said...

Hi ScentScelf,

Playing communion with flying saucers is inspired!

You have got yourself some great online bargains there. The recency of my own perfume interest means that I am rarely troubled by memories of former "fulsome creatures". Sometimes ignorance can be bliss.

Vanessa said...

Hi Perfumes,

Can't say I do, but I may just have to go and have a look now... I share the same birthday as Kylie, as it happens, give or take 9 years and a touch of botox. : - )