Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Lyn Harris La Fleur, La Rose & La Poudrée For Marks & Spencer - Part 2: Mini-Reviews

Lyn Harris looking satisfied with her handiwork, as well she might!
I thought I might write mini-reviews of these three new perfumes for M & S, partly because I am never very confident of my nose's ability to deconstruct the development of a fragrance, but also because I wrote 14,000 words for work since my last post!  Yes indeedy.  I can hardly credit it, but my brain definitely feels as though it has been through the wringer in the past week.  I am not totally "worded out", but let's just say that I find myself massively drawn to non-verbal communication of all kinds at the moment.  Oh, I just looked that up, and there are eight types, apparently - as many as that?  Here they are:

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

Truth or Dare: jasmine, benzoin and white lily, vanilla absolute, caramelized amber and sensual musk.

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!:

White Rose: white rose, violet leaf, carnation, violet, iris and jasmine, 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 is more 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, photo of Fleur Oriental incense from the Miller Harris website.


Tara said...

These were much more than mini reviews, V!

I only tried La Poudree and agree it could well be the biggest seller. It's certainly the most unique of the three. It's not something I'd feel tempted to buy but it's a great price.

La Rose sounds like the snore I imagined it to be. La Fleur might be something my Mum would like. I'm try to talk her out of spending her M&S voucher on their perfume "Azure Breeze" (or something like that) which is apparently a D&G Light Blue dupe.

Perfumeshrine said...

If these are the sound-bite reviews, I am in awe of your word-munching phase, as it has produced a very explanatory and concise review of the trio! (thank you! I need to smell these, hope they have brought them in our local branch?)

To be totally honest, I always (well, since mid-90s actually, not since my birth!) thought Lynn Harris should be considered amongst the best noses in the business, creating with a very good quality palette for her own range and showing an evolution that is dynamic rather than repetitive and vain-glorious in her own "status".

I recall Alberto Morillas telling me that white florals are considered "younger" in the industry, so the rose as the vintage paradigm and the tuberose as the more cutting-edge makes sense.

Do not fear the heliotrope, musk and tonka bean brigade, there are some scents which manage not to choke on those elements! (the very vintage L'heure Bleue eau de cologne for instance)

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

You are of course right that they grew in the end - La Fleur especially - to being much more than mini-reviews. I guess I am finding it hard to turn off the verbal tap following my report writing marathon!

I agree that La Poudree is the most unique, just as Fleur Oriental (from which I feel sure it draws its inspiration), is also distinctive.

Azure Breeze sounds a bit ominous - I would definitely divert her voucher to La Fleur if you can. That is where my money would go if I only bought one. The other perfume that La Fleur resembles, and which Birgit for one will be able to relate to, is the wrong Illuminum wedding scent that we both liked!

Vanessa said...

Hi Perfumeshrine,

I guess I had a word count malfunction, simple as that! : - )

I would be interested to hear what you make of these three when you catch up with them, and I agree with your comments about Lyn Harris having a varied and evolving repertoire. Someone who can reconcile me to grapefruit (in Le Pamplemousse) is gifted indeed!

Funny you should mention Alberto Morillas - I learnt today that he created Kenzo Flower Oriental (to stay with our theme of oriental flowers...). He is the master of fuzzy scents I would say, also Estee Lauder Intuition, the lone bottle I owned when sudden onset perfume mania struck in 2008...

White florals being younger, that figures. I suspect La Poudree is aimed at the middle-aged demographic and La Rose for the older customer. With a fair bit of crossover, obviously, because we fumeheads cock a snook at olfactory ageism. But it wouldn't surprise me to learn that a nod was made towards demographics, with it being a commission by a multiple at the end of the day.

Carol said...

La Rose and La Poudree sound interesting to me - thanks for the reviews, Bonks. Oddly, I love/d Fleur Oriental but the last time I wore it I almost suffocated!

Undina said...

I was tempted to run a Word Count on your "mini"-reviews ;)

Love both monikers for La Fleur but doubt the perfume will work for me: tuberose.

As tothe other two... I will definitely give them a sniff if I ever come across those but I won't be actively seeking them.

Vanessa said...

Hi Carol,

Yes, I think La Rose and La Poudree are the two that might appeal to you more, knowing your tastes.

I can recommend the 'waft and wait' tactic with La Poudree to get round the fug issue. It is very like Fleur Oriental in that regard, but the drydown is spectacular!

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

A word count would have exposed me, no question!

If you are wary of tuberose La Fleur may not work for you, though it is not that pronounced, as in Carnal Flower or Beyond Love, say - I get the gardenia more, if anything. But mostly it is a blended white floral with musky vanilla.

Ines said...

I see my first commenting attempt failed. :)
Anyway, the only that seems interesting is the first one, I'm hoping the musk is the kind I can live with.
Btw, I'm with everybody, if those are mini-reviews, then all I do is mini-review stuff. ;)

I have obly to add, Lynn is very beautiful.

Vanessa said...

Hi Ines,

So sorry about your first comment disappearing - thanks for persevering!

And yes, isn't Lyn Harris beautiful? She could easily be Miss England, trainers and all.

Have no fear about the musk in La Fleur - I am very sensitive about such things myself and this was fine.

Elisa said...

In the category of "overtly fruity vanilla orientals," I immediately thought of Hanae Mori. Then there's Rose Praline and all the other pink gourmands .... the question is whether the prominence of patchouli puts it in another category for you? Angel is a fruity vanilla oriental but then there's that whopping camphor note!

Suzanne said...

I agree with everyone else ... you gave a very full review of these perfumes! Pretty amazing after writing a 14,000-word project for work. Will you get to relax this Easter weekend (and have some wine)?

As a fan of PdN Sacrebleu, I'd probably gravitate towards La Poudree. But the rose that you described is the one that sounds most intriguing - and I especially enjoyed seeing that green-dyed rose you chose as illustration.

Vanessa said...

Hi Elisa,

Thanks for these suggestions of similarly constructed scents to La Poudree. I haven't tried Hanae Mori, but had heard of it, certainly. As being quite sweet, even?

Hmm, maybe patchouli would set a perfume apart - is there patchouli in Fleur Oriental, then? I see it listed in Sacrebleu but don't detect it in La Poudree. It is noticeable in La Rose, for sure.

Ooh, keep Angel far from me! The only perfume with a camphor note I find myself strangely drawn to is Tubereuse Criminelle...

Vanessa said...

Hi Suzanne,

Yes, I don't know where all those words came from...: - ) I am taking it pretty easy this Easter. Lots of socialising with friends and today I stayed in bed till 4pm. The decadence! I lost an hour due to the clocks changing, but still...

Of this trio I think you might like La Rose best, as it has a particularly wistful and retro feel. But if you can handle Sacrebleu and its musk wallop - or what I perceive as that! - you should be fine with La Poudree. And even I think it is well worth persisting with on account of the beautiful drydown.

Elisa said...

Yes, Hanae Mori is definitely sweet -- it's a Gourmand with a capital G. But I love it. Very comforting and doesn't smell like everything else.

Vanessa said...

Hi Elisa,

Oh, interesting. I shall make a point of trying it then, though you don't see that brand around much over here. Unique scents are always worth a sniff.

The Perfumed Dandy said...

Dear Vanessa
It has taken me an age to comment on these 'mini' reviews, but I'm so pleased to see these scents get a little attention. La Rose is undoubtedly and perhaps predictably my favourite as I do tend towards what we shall perhaps diplomatically call the classic.
The more 'male' (I believe they are all 'officially unisex' ) trio are also good, with Le Noir standing out as an excellent chypre in the manner of Caron's 3ieme Homme.
What's most alluring is the price... they seem to have been sliced to a ludicrous £12.50 for an age (possibly a sign, sadly, of discontinuation). A paltry sum to pay for perfumes that are carefully composed and contain pretty good ingredients unless I'm thoroughly deceived.
Yours ever
The Perfumed Dandy

Vanessa said...

Hi The Perfumed Dandy,

Thanks for dropping in with your take on these scents - and their masculine counterparts - which I only assessed fleetingly, but also found impressive for the money. And La Rose was a fine classic scent I agree. Too sad that they are on offer to that extent - it is a derisorily small sum to pay for Lyn Harris's creative talent, and if it turns out that the whole M & S niche experiment has failed, I for one will be very sad at the state of the nation, and the perfume market. ;(