Tuesday 27 February 2024

Jeff & Co (Jeff Banks) women's perfume dupes at Home Bargains, and how I couldn't resist Temptation...

I am a regular shopper in the discount chain Home Bargains, much as I am in B & M, which is a similar cheap and cheerful purveyor of just about anything short of a full food shop. Home Bargains is my go-to destination for cheap firewood, Poppets, rhubarb yoghurt, cat soup, and kitchen towel (which regular readers know is of the utmost importance to me). On any given visit where I am typically going in for just one thing, I will of course come out with armfuls of items I never knew I needed. But as the whole lot will have been unbelievably cheap - and I will of course need more Elastoplast, paracetamol, washing up sponges, and turmeric glucosamine chondroitin supplements in the fullness of time, it really doesn't matter.

And thus it was that I went to Home Bargains yesterday looking for a specific gauge and style of interdental floss picks, and came out with mini Easter eggs to restock my mock Faberge egg (as you do) and a hand of bananas, no floss sticks, and a chunky bottle of perfume by Jeff & Co, called Blush. It is a whopping 90ml for £4.99, and there are three other scents in the range: Lush and Seductive (also in pink bottles), and Temptation, in a less girly mauve-y grey / taupe one. Why three of the four should be in pink packaging beats me. Okay, so Lush could be described as more of a beige colour, but they are still all quite similar. It had clearly confused the punters, as the two definite pinks, Blush and Seductive, were mixed up together in the decidedly basic(!) cardboard display tray. I sorted them out again and told a passing sales assistant that I had done that, plus an instinctive spot of "facing up", for which she thanked me.

I should mention that this wasn't a random encounter with the brand: I had seen a feature about them in The Sun - on social media, I hasten to add - which claimed that they were all dupes of well known designer perfumes, namely:

Blush ~ Miss Dior

Lush - Armani Si

Seductive - Givenchy L'Interdit

Temptation - Tom Ford Black Orchid

It has been a while since I got really curious about a new bargain basement range of perfumes - the last time was probably a set of Acqua di Parma knock offs in Aldi, but neither store in my town carried those, so I never did get to try them. I was especially intrigued by the thought of a Black Orchid smell-alike, which is what propelled me to seek the Jeff & Co range out. The fragrances are made in Turkey, I note, which adds a bit of exoticism to their provenance.

Another key thing to mention is the fact that these perfumes have no boxes, so every bottle on the fixture is a potential tester, haha. I think the store should have designated one bottle of each fragrance to be a tester, with a label on it, so it is clearly identifiable. However, given the vast quantity in each, and the price, no prospective customer could possibly mind the fact that 25 other people might have had a spray or several from their bottle already. ;)

A word on the packaging next, whose squareness and squatness reminded me of the Maison Kurkdjian range, but in an opaque version. I am sure Francis wouldn't thank me for the comparison. I am not a fan of opaque bottles, as you know - to the point of including them in my "Scent Crimes Series" - but I will let that pass. I have more of a beef these days with their weight and chunkiness, making them hard to lift and spray from, while the sharp edges dig into my arthritic fingers. I am sure that will prove to be a minor issue, however, amongst the intended target market of much younger women than me(!). But it is definitely a tricky business to wrap your hand round the bottle and operate the nozzle, or I find it so.

Before I get down to what I thought of these scents, I must just tell you about a YouTube video, in which the vlogger describes all four perfumes as "nice". Nothing more, just nice. I have never considered myself a proper reviewer , but maybe there is hope for me yet.

And what of Jeff Banks, I hear you ask? Well, when I first heard the name, my first thought was that that was an unexpected venture from a goalie, before quickly realising that that was Gordon Banks. Here is a bit about the correct Banks from Wikipedia:

"Jeff Banks CBE PPCSD (born Jeffrey Tatham-Banks, 17 March 1943) is a Welsh fashion designer of men's and women's clothing, jewellery, and home furnishings. Born in Ebbw Vale, Wales, Banks co-founded the fashion chain Warehouse in the late 1970s. He later created and presented the television programme The Clothes Show, broadcast on BBC One from 1986 to 2000."

I never knew he was born a Tatham-Banks! That would be quite a mouthful to put on the side of even these generously-sized bottles. I think I once owned an item of crockery by him, or some dinner mats, but I can't remember what exactly. He is over 80 now I see, and still coming up with line extensions, so fair play to him. I am sure he can't need the money, so perhaps the launch of this bargain range of fragrances is part philanthropic venture.

By Chris Phutully from Australia

Finally, on to what they smell like...

Seductive - I honestly couldn't really smell this, it was so faint. If it is like Givenchy L'Interdit, which I haven't tried for years, it will be in homeopathic proportions.

Lush - also very faint. I thought I could just catch a whiff of blackcurrant, which would be consistent with its being a dupe of Armani Si, but it was a bit elusive.

Temptation - this was much more detectable. On the first pass, I thought Temptation was like a disagreeable sort of mentholated blackcurrant sweet. I was also reminded of my description of YSL Parisienne as "disgruntled purple talc". Oh, look at that post I have linked to - the bottles of The Social parfum are also hard plastic and partly pink!

Blush - my nose registered this one okay: it was a pretty, girlish summer floral (woody musk) that reminded me of Hugo Boss Femme. I haven't tested Miss Dior either in forever, but I could well believe it was a copy of that, having looked at the notes, even though it was Femme I thought of off the bat. Femme being a mainstream fragrance I cut my newbie teeth on at the start of this hobby, so it holds a special place in my memory, if not in my collection anymore. We are not privy to the notes of Blush, but I think I picked up lily-of-the valley in there, as per Miss Dior, and the general atmosphere of the composition is light and sherbety and innocent. And yes I  know, wildly ironic for someone not far off the state pension. I walked out with Blush all the same, because I hadn't got past Temptation's cough sweet opening, and was so excited that I could actually smell it compared to its pink stablemates.

NB Maybe the secret is simply to spray a shedload more than I usually do - goodness knows there is enough juice to allow for extravagant application!

Soon the base of clean musk ramps up a bit in Blush, on which I am less keen, albeit I am hyperosmic to musks. The powderiness has echoes of Cartier's Baiser Volé, though it is more to the fore in that scent. Blush still retains its "pretty" vibe, which I fully admit is not much of an improvement on "nice". 

I went home, but the comparison of Temptation to Black Orchid continued to niggle away at my brain. I quite like Black Orchid and admire its quirkiness, and hey...£4.99! I remembered there being only one bottle left of it too, so a couple of hours later I found myself back in Home Bargains, where I succumbed to Temptation, and also scored a bumper pack of loo roll and three caramel Kit-Kats.

And I am glad I did, because after the strange cough sweet and licorice-like opening, Temptation turned out to be a lot less weird and medicinal; now it was reminiscent of Calvin Klein Euphoria or indeed Black Orchid - both scents share an almost sickly, sultry quality, and there's a darkness to them both. But it is all very attenuated in Temptation, which is only to be expected I guess from such a budget scent, though these are stated as being edp strength. All in all, I don't regret my purchases, and half wondered if Temptation in particular might become a cult item one day and fetch a load of money on eBay, hehe.

And I am sorry I didn't spray more of Lush and Seductive on myself in store, even if that might have raised an eyebrow amongst the staff. They may well have turned out to be good dupes of the Armani and Givenchy, if only I had saturated my arm in them.

As for lasting power, it is hard to say as I may not have sprayed enough to start with, so do not take my word for it. Blush is still going after six hours, while Temptation is more of a gentle murmur. If you wanted a scent that lasted all day, it wouldn't really be practical though to carry these weighty bottles around with you to reapply at intervals.

In conclusion, if you live anywhere within range of a Home Bargains, do have a spray of these, then spray some more to make sure, and report back! Remember, every bottle is a tester... ;)