About Me

I’m Claire – just your average, run-of-the-mill Irish lass looking for a way to pare everything back so that I can get to the best things in life. Coco Chanel said that before leaving the house in the morning you should look in the mirror and take one thing off. Less is more. So this blog is an exploration of the quiet luxury of that one perfect thing – a fragrance, a pencil skirt, a book, a meal – the thing you absolutely can’t do without. But to get to that, we have to pare back the ephemera. Join me for a while. I’m here rummaging through the rubbish pile of my life to see what stays and what goes. Taking one thing off at a time until I get to the essential.


  • Reply Pat Pollard 12th March 2016 at 4:20 am

    Very enjoyable.

    • Reply Claire 25th March 2016 at 6:28 pm

      Thank you, Pat!

  • Reply Steven 12th March 2016 at 11:52 pm

    Thank you Claire. Until I came across this page, I didn’t realize that my entire life has been about paring everything back to get to the essential. Coco Chanel sure seems like someone with many useful insights. As you requested I’ll be joining you for a while as you share your experiences during this journey. And while I’m quite certain I’ll never have a favorite pencil skirt, I’m sure there’s much else I can benefit from. Indeed, I’m already planning to sample Jicky EDP based on your review. And, who knows, perhaps I can even broaden your horizons by sharing my love for whiskey and java infused cigars 😉


    • Reply Claire 25th March 2016 at 6:28 pm

      Hi Steven! Thank you so much for joining me on this (seemingly never-ending) quest to pare things down! I am failing miserably on all fronts, both the paring down of perfumes and on the pencil skirt issue 🙂 I hope you’ll come back and tell me how you got on with Jicky EDP. And yes! Educate me about whiskey and cigars – I reference them so often in reviews that I think it’s high time I learned a little about both 🙂

  • Reply Mohammad 24th March 2016 at 7:35 pm

    Hi Claire ,

    I love your blog and I’m so happy to follow you , thank you so much for the nice reviews.


    • Reply Claire 25th March 2016 at 6:18 pm

      Thank you, Mohammad, you are too kind! I am glad to see you here.

  • Reply Anna 13th August 2016 at 7:14 pm

    Hello Claire, glad to have found your blog. You are a wonderful writer with very insightful descriptions and just the right amount of irreverence. My kind of person.

    I am going to seek out the Hermes Eau de Merveilles based on your recommendation. I love salt fragrances and one of my favourites is L’Artisan Navigateur which takes me back to sea growing up in Vancouver.

    • Reply Claire 31st August 2016 at 7:53 pm

      Thanks so much, Anna! I love the salty feel of EdM,and hear that the pure parfum is even saltier (although I don’t have the means to pursue that, unfortunately). Is the Navigatuer the coffee one? I think I tested that briefly but found it too sweaty or metallic on my skin. I will try it again, though, on your recommendation. Vancouver is one of those places I have always dreamed of visiting! I used to follow a food blog of someone based between Seattle and Vancouver, and she did these marvelous photo essays of her trips out to one of the small islands out there

    • Reply Jeff 6th June 2018 at 4:05 pm

      Ah, you'll love Silence The Sea by Strangelove NYC. Claire has an excellent review about that fragrance as well.
      You can surely smell the salt.

  • Reply Cath 12th October 2016 at 3:38 am

    I’ve been wanting to smell this perfume for a while, even thought about buying a (pricey) sample, but your description just saved me some money. Thank you Claire.

  • Reply Holly 22nd November 2016 at 12:33 pm

    Hi Claire! I just discovered your lovely blog, and am looking forward to rummaging through the archives and all posts to come.

  • Reply susan 24th December 2016 at 4:26 am


  • Reply Katherine 30th December 2016 at 9:38 pm

    Hi Claire, I’m delighted to have found your blog through an article on Basenotes. You have long been my absolute favourite reviewer there both because I love your writing and your taste in perfumes. Looking forward to many hours of perusing this! Thank you and wishing you a beautiful 2017 from NZ. X

    • Reply Claire 31st December 2016 at 9:28 pm

      Hi Katherine – thank you so much! You are so kind. I hope you have a great year in 2017 too 🙂 Cheers from cold and grey Ireland (send some of your weather please!) Claire

  • Reply MrsDalloway 8th January 2017 at 4:33 pm

    Great blog – looking forward to reading more.

  • Reply Mark Vaughn 22nd July 2017 at 1:56 am

    Claire, keep up the brilliant writing! You have a wonderful gift.

    • Reply Claire 27th September 2017 at 12:55 pm

      Thank you so much, Mark – I've been taking a long break from writing, must get back to it!

  • Reply Kate 20th September 2017 at 2:24 pm

    I was just reading about Ancient Resins Body Oil & Hair Elixir and thought I'd write in to see if you have a sample you'd sell or swap : ) Love your blog!

    • Reply Claire 27th September 2017 at 12:55 pm

      Hi Kate – thank you! Unfortunately, I gifted my sample to my Dad, but you can buy it at a reasonable price ($40-ish) from Mandy herself if you are in the States.

  • Reply Summer 31st October 2017 at 2:07 pm

    Your writing style is delicious. So refreshing. I followed your Basenotes Gourmand Coquin review to this blog. Thank you for sharing the morsels of your opinions. I look forward to vicariously discovering new fragrances in the same way one would follow a delightful path through the unexplored wood.

    • Reply Claire 12th November 2017 at 7:31 pm

      Dear Summer, thank you very much! "A delightful path through the unexplored wood"- that is so beautifully put. Every new review I read is like that for me too, whether it's on Fragrantica, Basenotes, Parfumo, etc. and no matter how short or long, or prosaic or poetic 🙂

  • Reply Joeri 12th November 2017 at 2:08 am

    Dear Claire, I adore your reviews, here and elsewhere. You have helped me to discover many great gems. Thanks for making us part of your passions!

    • Reply Claire 12th November 2017 at 7:33 pm

      Dear Joeri, thank you so much! Good to know that someone's getting something out of my ramblings! What a lovely compliment, thank you.

  • Reply purecaramel 12th November 2017 at 10:33 pm

    Dear Claire,
    Your reviews seem to wack me across the noggin, like a snort of Jasmine Absolute, lifting my spirit, on these gray, rainy, November days.

    • Reply Claire 15th November 2017 at 1:56 pm

      As long as it's only jasmine absolute you're snorting, Steve! Although jasmine absolute probably hurts the wallet more than the illegal stuff…Thank you my dear

  • Reply Clarissochka 30th November 2017 at 5:25 am

    Claire I just discovered your blog and love your reviews. I have read a couple of your articles on basenotes. It is great to get more of your reviews and perspective.

    • Reply Claire 30th November 2017 at 2:08 pm

      Clarissochka, welcome! I've seen you around on basenotes and know that we have VERY similar tastes and proclivities. Delighted to see you here!

      • Reply Clarissochka 13th January 2018 at 5:51 pm

        Thank you for the nice note Claire. I loved your review of Under My Skin – this is the house I have heard of and am looking forward to trying it once I clear my sample backlog. You are right – we have very similar tastes, but your nose is way way more nuanced then my would ever be.

        • Reply Claire 16th January 2018 at 1:52 pm

          I know what you mean about the sample backlog! (So why am I constantly buying more? It's not rational behavior, really). But I disagree about my nose being more nuanced than yours…all I have is a platform 🙂

  • Reply purecaramel 27th January 2018 at 9:53 pm

    Thank-you for this "Piece" (JSP) annnnnd ,all the Acknowledgement Editorial Notes.
    Your "Piece" carries all the ClaireV, haunting brushstrokes, that provide a "real"ly superior impression of these scents.
    This site, continues to be, a "Quiet Library" for Reference.

  • Reply purecaramel 4th February 2018 at 10:37 pm

    I love that you qualify,

    "I can’t adequately describe just how smoothly and quietly all this is brought about"

    Then, offer in "Belle Rives" a startlingly brilliant and definitive sketch of what you see and feel.

    • Reply Claire 5th February 2018 at 12:45 pm

      Hello lovely Purecaramel! Thanks so much for your comment. I feel discouraged every single time I put on a perfume because I'm never sure I can find the right words to convey how good it is (or otherwise), so thanks for the reassurance that I managed it this time. xxx

      • Reply MrsDalloway 5th February 2018 at 8:06 pm

        It is a terrific review and I'm glad you liked this one. I think it's beautiful too but it's not attracted much attention to date.

        • Reply Claire 7th February 2018 at 2:44 pm

          Thanks MrsD! I really, really loved this one. It's a great example of how to do iris without too many bells and whistles and still pull it off. I far prefer it to many other niche irises that came out in the last few years, including Iris Nazarena, for example. But perhaps it's getting ignored for exactly that reason, that it's not showy or glitzy. I hope that more people discover it, especially for the brand's sake, because people buying it would show that there are still people who prefer the beauty of something well made over the shiny new gold of the latest in thing.

  • Reply Diane St. Clair 7th February 2018 at 12:50 pm

    Hi Claire–
    Wondering if you would be willing to try my new perfume brand, St Clair Scents and if I could send you samples?

  • Reply Louise 23rd February 2018 at 9:37 am

    Hello Clare

    I'm writing here as I can work out how to leave a comment on the individual articles 🙂
    I just wanted to let you know how relieved I was to read your responses to the January Scent Project perfumes. They are the most brilliant and honest reviews I have come across.
    I wanted to love these perfumes and although it's not the strangeness that I struggle with ( I love the smells themselves actually, and appreciate them very much as works of art), I do find the presence of these perfume right in my face and headache inducing, and there is a massive chemical effervescence and sweetness in them that makes them unwearable for me. I've been discombobulated by the contrast between the other reviews I've been reading and what I've actually been experiencing when smelling them. Perhaps I'm kind of allergic to something in them and just have not come across that particular component before ( although I did have a similar experience with Frederic Malle Carnal Flower).
    I'm enjoying your article very much and appreciate your take on life and perfume.
    Is there a way to subscribe by email (can't work that out either 😉
    Thanks again


    • Reply Claire 6th March 2018 at 1:04 pm

      Louise, I have to thank you because sometimes I write a review and I think that my take on a perfume is so off that it probably makes no sense to put it out there. But every now and then, it reaches the right person, and even if it's one person, he or she feels like the review was written for them alone, and that is what makes it worthwhile for me. Your comment makes me feel so much less like a weirdo, I can't even begin to tell you! I loved the January Scent Project perfumes, but boy, they didn't smell at all like what I'd read in other reviews. I put it down partly to the fact that they are so unique, as perfumes, but partly down to me not being able to pick up on all the nuances / notes others were getting. But if my review struck a chord with you, then perhaps there is hope for me after all. There should be a Subscribe button on each page at the end, by the way – but let me know if you can't find it and I will tinker with the dashboard on WP! Thanks again for your lovely comment, and hope to see you again here soon! Best, Claire

  • Reply Hélène 22nd April 2018 at 7:46 am

    I landed on some of your reviews while looking for information about leather scents and have become absorbed in your prose. You are such a talented and evocative writer. Like with complex fragrance, the reader is transported to different capsules of life, past and present, here and there. Une invitation au voyage as Baudelaire would say.
    I have been wondering if there are any perfumes that you could think of that conjure the rich smell of peat.
    Thanks again for your delightful words and richness of thought.

    • Reply Claire 15th May 2018 at 6:25 pm

      Belle Hélène, thank you so much for your comment. I love the Baudelairean "invitation au voyage" reference because I remember studying Les Fleurs du Mal in my first year at university (and being somewhat tortured by it, I have to admit!). For the smell of peat – Fumidus by Profumum is great, as is Le Labo Patchouli 24. But I also get a strong, West of Ireland peat bog smell from that hairiest and saltiest of vetivers, Annick Goutal Vetiver. It's very dry, though. Other good ones (but now sadly discontinued and hard to find) are Cumming (Alan Cumming for CB I Hate Perfume), Eau de Fier (Annick Goutal again), and Jeke (Slumberhouse). Materials that I associate with the smell of peat are: whiskey, vetiver, birch tar, lapsang souchong tea, and some treatments of tobacco.

  • Reply epapsiou 8th June 2018 at 3:48 pm

    I loved the article on demographics and I think I am a part of the dying old-guard. I came to fragrance world in 2015 but gravitated towards old guard instantly. Have seen it shrinking. Oh well.
    Just don't stop writing. This is among your best. Right up there with musk one and ambergris one and .. .. well they are all great

  • Reply Heather D'Angelo 2nd October 2018 at 12:05 am

    I just saw your dazzling review of my fragrance, Moena 12|69. Thank you for lending your poetry to describing it; it made me so happy to read it. I think you're a wonderful writer about perfume and I would love to work with you in the future if you're available! I wish I had been able to describe my perfume as beautifully as you did in my marketing materials. 🙂

    • Reply Claire 26th October 2018 at 10:32 pm

      Hi Heather, I'm delighted that you like the review that much – thank you! I have still have the sample in a little bowl on my desk, and I open it every now and then to smell it. I find it transportative. My congratulations to you for creating such an unusual and emotive scent.

  • Reply Tim Sullivan 22nd November 2018 at 12:48 am

    You're an amazing writer, and I appreciate your selfless devotion to fragrance reviewing which can often feel like toiling away in obscurity. You have a knack for impressionistic descriptions, which I try to emulate in my own writing. I'm definitely a fan and thanks for your hard work!

    • Reply Claire 2nd December 2018 at 8:36 pm

      Thank you, Tim! I will look you up to read your writing now (if you publish it, that is). Toiling away in obscurity is certainly the juiciest phrase I've heard to describe perfume writing….and I'd agree. But every now and then, someone like you writes to tell me something I wrote connected with them, and honestly, that's all I need to keep me going. Muchas gracias! Claire

  • Reply Lorenzo 22nd November 2018 at 11:19 am

    Hi Claire, just discovered your blog. I'm sooooo totally with you on your view about Indie & Artisanal perfumery. What a a joy and a relief!

    • Reply Claire 2nd December 2018 at 8:36 pm

      Grazie Lorenzo, sei molto gentile! xx Claire

  • Reply Heathhaze 26th December 2018 at 3:46 pm

    When is your guide to Attars coming out?

  • Reply Leslie 9th February 2019 at 4:13 am


    I love your writing, your choice of words, and your thoughts. Please keep posting. There's something really special about how you express your thoughts and opinions, and your knowledge of fragrance.

    I don't do this a lot….post my thoughts. I just want to express my desire to read more from you.

    Thank you,


  • Reply Karen Timson 18th February 2019 at 5:53 pm

    You have just given me so much courage as newly launched 'indie artisan perfumer, thank you for such words of wisdom and insight. I have spent the last 18 months training under the expert and watchful eye of one of only a handful of England's truly independent perfumers where I have studied, created, failed and rejoiced and finally brought my signature collection to the market a whole 12 days ago! I have had a sales in my first week that have been generated from loyal and avid followers and friends, but now the real challenge starts! I'm talking……..!

  • Reply Daveed Keith 13th March 2019 at 5:20 am

    Hey thank you for your article The Top Ten Male Designer Fragrances Every Beginner Should Sample. I have been looking for a scent since they took Hugo Boss Elements off the market and it always seemed an utterly haphazard process, until i found you. Smart woman. Eloquent writer. I smelled Azzaro Pour Homme on me for the first time tonight and wanted to take myself home it was so good. Thank you for your humor, and for your olfactory sage (come on, that's good).

    Cheers! 🙂

  • Reply Michael Glover 15th April 2019 at 5:38 am

    Hello Claire,
    I just want to get in touch with you to say how enjoyable your writing is. If only the wine world had writing as good as yours. Unfortunately, like perfume I guess, everyone has an opinion but few can actually communicate, inform and enthuse the reader. I have always thought the role of a (wine-perfume) writer was to actually educate and empower the reader to go on their own journey rather than just dish out a score / number. The tricky bit is how to deal the blows to a less than ideal product…surely the answer is the cultivation of an ever more educated and demanding consumer?
    I stumbled upon your writing in Basenotes whilst looking for a review of Andy Tauer's L'Air du desert Marocain. Your review was genuinely critical in that it was based on a degree of informed objectivity…but your writing style is brilliant…it is informed, accessible, clever, personal…blah blah blah..I just wanted to say well done and to tell you to start focusing on WINE! Ha!!! We need you.
    Kind regards
    Michael Glover

  • Reply Michael Glover 30th April 2019 at 1:04 am

    Where are you??

  • Reply Geoffrey Rickly 1st July 2019 at 12:34 am

    Hey Claire. I joined basenotes because of your writing. Then you stopped posting. I came here to read your writing and it seems like you’ve slowed down. Whatever you’re doing now, I hope you’re writing. You have a wonderful conversational, personal, poetic voice and I buy half of what you love just on your description. ❤️✌?

  • Reply raihan kamal 16th June 2020 at 9:49 am

    Hi mam

    I read your article about musk. I live in USA and would like to start making my own perfume.
    I found this website who says they legally obtain musk.

    I was wondering if you have any idea about them or anyone I can buy from.

    • Reply Claire 16th June 2020 at 4:20 pm

      Hi Raihan, I honestly have no idea, sorry. A few attar makers like J.K. DeLapp, Russian Adam, and Abdullah from Mellifluence shared their study/research samples of musk with me for the sake of the article, but I doubt that they sell deer musk tinctures themselves as a raw material. There is really little appetite in the Western market for deer musk because of the cruelty involved in obtaining it. Even if you find a legal source of legal deer musk, it is all pretty dodgy. Deer musk is a very interesting material and it can smell great in a composition (like Siberian Musk by Areej Le Dore) but honestly, nothing about it transcends either the animal cruelty or the illegality surrounding it. That's just my opinion, though. Best, Claire

  • Reply cc 9th July 2020 at 1:44 am

    Hi Claire, I want to thank you for this blog. I have enjoyed it so much. Your reviews are spot on. It is so fun to get samples and smell along with your articles. I have been pouring over older posts and it is a treasure trove! Was there a rumor you are writing a book about perfume?

    • Reply Claire 24th July 2020 at 6:37 pm

      Thank you so much, CC! I love smelling samples and reading all the reviews on them too, or even if I am trying to reconnect with a perfume I already own. Sometimes, someone else's words will make me view the perfume in a different light, and I love that. Indeed, I have written a book about attars and perfumes in oil format, but it is rather a niche subject, so nobody is interested in publishing it. I might self-publish, who knows! At this point, I have nothing to lose. Thanks for commenting and connecting with me!

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