Fragrance review: Reasonably priced Spring 2016 perfume offerings

Budget bargain reasonably priced Spring fragrances perfume 2016 review

It’s high time we had a new fragrance review, and here are some very reasonably priced recent offerings that are suitable for the Spring and Summer. I’m going to be reviewing Opulence from Original Factory Shop, Eau de Gaga 001 by Lady Gaga / Coty, and Hermina, the new eau de toilette from Yardley.

Opulence eau de toilette by Creative Colours

This is the bottle on the left in the picture. I managed to get my hands on a bottle of this fragrance for women that’s been raved about in a few publications to find out what the fuss was about. Opulence eau de toilette is available exclusively at The Original Factory Shop, and it costs a miniscule £5 for a generous 100ml bottle. Why are people raving about it? Ah, well, it smells a lot like Chanel No 5. A dead ringer for it, in fact. Forget what they say in the description on the site, this is an aldehyde-heavy fragrance, with clean, airy top notes and a powdery floral drydown, with rose, sandalwood, amber and vanilla, just like the Chanel classic.

Predictably, this sold out in a flash. However, the good news for bargain hunters is that they’ve ordered a new batch, which should be back on sale very soon. If you like classic fragrances this may well appeal, and it will last you a long, long time. If you’re listening, Original Factory Shop, it would be really, really excellent if you created something that had a strong accidental resemblance to Chanel Coco EDT (not Coco Mademoiselle, of which many ‘renditions’ already abound, just Chanel Coco) I would buy it by the bucketload. Just saying…

Eau de Gaga 001 by Lady Gaga

That’s the black glass bottle in the middle of the picture, and it’s being sold as a unisex fragrance. Eau de Gaga 001 was actually released at the end of 2014, and I picked some up last year and forgot to review it – so here’s my take on the second Lady Gaga fragrance, as I think it’s ideal for Spring and Summer. This stuff is waaaay better than the first fragrance by Gaga (Fame), but sadly only had a fraction of the marketing push. In brief, it punches well above its price tag and is very nicely blended indeed.

In common with its predecessor, it suffers from an inaccurate description. For example, Fame allegedly contained notes of ‘semen, blood, absinthe and dead puppies’ or somesuch, and turned out to be a sweet fruity floral celebu-scent which bored the pants right back on to me. Anyway, the claim with Eau de Gaga 001 is that there are very few notes, and it contains only ‘sparkling lime, white violets and primal leather’. Well, quite frankly, that is cobblers and perhaps if they’d been a bit more descriptive I suspect they’d have had a real bestseller on their hands/wrists. Real review coming up!

The main note in this is actually green tea, and it’s refined and refreshing, lasting well into the drydown. There is punchy lime in here, but it’s also blended with bergamot. The floral note is not exactly ‘white violet’, as I don’t think that flower even exists, but I detect iris and jasmine on my skin, with a slightly powdery effect. I get a touch of something herbal, maybe a little mint or verbena, a hint of grassy vetiver, and very light spices (maybe cardamom) too.

The drydown is woods and white musk, with tea, citrus and light flowers staying present. I don’t get a standard leather note, although there could be a hint of white suede accord in there, which is more well behaved than animalic. I suspect there’s also some hedione in the mix, which brings out the citrus, adds a greenness and a jasmine-like faint floral note, and smooths out musk bases, generally rounding out the composition. Brain scans also suggest that most women find hedione sexy when they smell it in fragrances, so there you go.

In short, it smells really quite expensive and it works as a unisex fragrance, mainly for daytime in the warmer months. It has notes in common with several Bvlgari fragrances, Spiced Green Tea, Azure Lime by Tom Ford, and Voyage by Hermes. It also has pretty good lasting power, around eight hours on me, but your mileage may vary depending on your skin type. I bought a brand new 30ml bottle in a slightly damaged box on eBay for under £9 delivered, so check out eBay for similar bargains (and don’t buy Fame by accident).

Hermina by Yardley

Although Yardley is best known for classic soliflore compositions – i.e. fragrances where you can identify one single flower – they’ve turned their attentions to blended perfumes in more recent years with award-winning results. Hermina (pictured top right) is their latest, out this month, and it’s really rather lovely. It’s billed as a fragrance for women that leans in the unisex direction, and I think that’s about right, in that it’s floral to some extent but lacks the strong punch of sickly sweetness you find in many modern perfumes.

I’d describe it as a modern chypre floral, or a fresh floral woody fragrance. They describe the notes as follows:

  • Top Notes: Pear, Lemon, Rose Petals, Bergamot, Basil.
  • Heart Notes: Black Pepper, Heliotrope, Green Fig, Myrtle, Peach.
  • Base Notes: Patchouli, Cedarwood, Amber.

On my skin, this has a slightly airy, clean quality, and it also smells quite sophisticated and grown up so it might not appeal to the under-25s. I mostly get rose, bergamot, myrtle, heliotrope and cedarwood, with a little pear, peach, lemon, basil and amber on my skin. There’s something else in there too, maybe calone (or ‘sea notes’), lotus or lily-of-the-valley, or cotton flower, giving a feeling of lightness and freshness.

I’ve been trying this fragrance on and off for a week now, and it really, really reminds me of something a lot more expensive. I’m going to stick my nicely-perfumed neck out and say it’s similar to some of the Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo range, probably closest to their Mirto di Panarea, which is also lovely but definitely on the pricey side. It also reminds me of some of the flankers of Grace by Philosophy, and some of the more Mediterranean-style offerings from Clean.

Hermina is smoothly blended so there are no screechy notes in it, and it would be ideal for warmer days where you want to smell good but have to avoid anything cloyingly fruity or sweet. The scent sits close to the body, which might appeal for relaxed weekend wear or open plan office wear, and it lasts around four hours or so on my skin. It’s very reasonably priced so a top-up spray here and there won’t break the bank.

The RRP of a 50ml bottle of Hermina is £20.00 in Boots, but you can find it on the Yardley website for £13.99 this week if you’re quick.

I’ll be back in a few days with reviews of some luxury fragrances as well, in case anyone’s looking to treat themselves.

Full disclosure: Review items are a mixture of samples supplied by PRs and things I’ve paid for myself. All opinions my own, no editorial interference.

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