If you’re a fan of Givenchy Xeryus Rouge, Play Intense or Pi then smash open your piggy bank because April sees the launch of ‘Oversize’ editions of all three classic fragrances. Shown here against the 50ml version of Givenchy’s brand new fragrance Gentlemen Only Casual Chic, you can see just how big these oversized bottles are. Released as 150ml versions, priced £75, they’re the perfect way to ensure you never run out of your favourite fragrance.
I’m not much of a fan of celebrity endorsements when it comes to fragrance – except, that is, when the celebrities in question just happen to be people I adore. Which is why I absolutely love Iggy Pop and Debbie Harry getting together to front the new, limited edition “Be a Legend” versions of Paco Rabanne’s perennially popular Black XS. It’s a marriage made in rock ‘n’ roll heaven, they both look fantastic and hey, isn’t it nice to see a couple of legendary rockers-of-a-certain-age for once, rather than some vacuous up-and-coming actor with his heavage hanging out and a woman clinging to his arm like she’s a Titanic survivor clinging to a piece of stray wood? I certainly think so.
Paco Rabanne Black XS Be A Legend Debbie Harry and Be A Legend Iggy Pop are available from Feb 16th.
Generally speaking I’m very suspicious of limited edition versions of popular fragrances (at the end of the day they’re essentially a way of shifting more units) but I’m always rather excited whenever there’s a new edition of Jean Paul Gaultier’s iconic Le Male because they’re always such fun and so well executed. And since a new one emerges every spring I can’t be the only one who enjoys them. This year, the fragrance takes on a pirate theme, with a crimson skull and a pair of crossed sabres emblazoned on a sailor’s jersey. If you’re a collector you’ll no doubt want to add it to your swag but if you’re just a fan of Le Male and are running low this is the perfect time to replenish your stock. And I know it has a pirate theme but do me a favour and pay for it rather than just ‘appropriate’ it, ok?
Available from Feb 2nd while stocks last.
Back in the late Nineties, I, like a lot of people I know became faintly obsessed by Helmut Lang (I still have a few choice pieces of his clothing that I lovingly looked after and can still – sort of – fit into. The elegant simplicity, austere colour palette and sheer wearability of the Austrian designer’s clothes dovetailed beautifully with my own personal aesthetic at the time. And I can still remember the excitement I felt when his first fragrances launched at the turn of the millennium. I wore both the Eau De Cologne (to work most days when I was Deputy Editor of Men’s Health magazine) and the sexier, leathery, suedey Cuiron, which came along a couple of years later, in the evenings. People always commented on them positively and the fragrances themselves were almost universally praised by the press and by perfume lovers. Then, one day in 2005, those two fragrances – along with another scent, Helmut Lang Eau de Parfum – were discontinued and people who still had bottles guarded them jealously while others scoured the internet for remaining stock, often paying ridiculous prices just to secure a bottle of their favourite. But now, a decade later, production has started again. I meant to write about these fragrances just before Christmas but only now have I had the chance to review them properly.
So have they changed? To my nose (and I’m having to go by memory here since it’s been a long time since caught a whiff of them) the Cologne – a powdery but musky mix of rosemary, cedarwood, sandalwood, vanilla and patchouli – smells soapier than I remember while Cuiron – still deliciously leathery, woody and peppery – is as smooth and sexy as ever and seems faithful to the original, even if it may not be quite so punchy. Of the three, however, it’s the soft, musky Eau de Parfum, with its floral heart, sensual base notes and hint of Germolene (yes, really), that stands out for me this time around. It has a wonderfully lazy, nuzzly sensuality to it. The packaging, of course, remains as impossibly chic now as it was back in the Noughties though the bottle design has been standardised for these relaunches (Eau de Parfum had a slightly different bottle back in the day).
I must say, I’ve greeted these returning fragrances like old friends and I’m overjoyed that someone, somewhere finally saw fit to bring them back to life after a decade of being in what amounts to an olfactory coma. Now, if I can only squeeze into that lovely black Helmut Lang shirt I kept everything would be right with the world…
Helmut Lang’s Eau de Cologne, Curion and Eau de Parfum are available from Liberty priced £130 each.
You know how Madonna’s first few albums are infinitely superior to the stuff she’s churning out right now? Well, sometimes you just have to concede that the original, early stuff is the best – which is very much the case with the launch of two new fragrances from French fashion house Carven. I say new but in fact only Carven Pour Homme is new; Carven Vétiver is a relaunch of a fragrance that originally saw the light of day way back in 1957.
It’s ironic, but not entirely unexpected given the state of the fragrance industry at the moment, that it’s the latter that is the standout fragrance here. I’m a big fan of vetiver fragrances – and a fussy one too – but this delicate and elegant take on the genre, with its fresh notes of lemongrass and grapefruit and hints of geranium, lavender and bergamot, is lighter and more playful than some vetivers out there and I’ve been wearing it all day and loving it.
Pour Homme, on the other hand, is an annoyingly anodyne concoction that falls down by trying too hard to be contemporary and mainstream (think Bland Ambition rather than Blonde Ambition). Woody, spicy and aromatic (hence ticking all the boxes for a contemporary-but-boring best-seller) it’s one of those fragrances that catches in the back of the throat and smells a bit like a 19-year-old’s bedroom, which is surprising given the involvement of perfumer éminence Francis Kurkdjian, who created it alongside Patricia Choux.
The bottles for both, however, are superb and the design is the best I’ve seen for ages: simple and eye-catching, they echo the clean lines of a timeless roll neck sweater and have an understated elegance that’s often missing from modern fragrance flacons, so props to master glass-worker Pochet who created them.
Anyway, you’ve probably gathered by now that if I had to recommend one of these two fragrances to you it’d be Vétiver – and recommend I do.
Available from Selfridges from 5th February and nationwide from 5th May.
Although it only launched a couple of years ago Tom Ford Noir is one of my all time favourite fragrances (along with his Private Blend Oud Wood) so I must confess that I was a little nervous when I heard that Noir Extreme was on its way. After all, Extreme versions of fragrances can often be a bit like remixes of your favourite songs: interesting and surprising but not always as memorable as the original.
Noir Extreme – introduced to the press last night with a special party at London’s Chiltern Firehouse – avoids this potential pitfall by being quite different from its older brother. Where Noir is characterised by violet and powdery iris, Extreme has an intense fruity sweetness to it that reminds me – in tone at least – of Ford’s Plum Japonais, though that initial headiness does eventually give way to a slightly more comforting gourmandy creaminess. It’s certainly more overtly sexy that Noir and decidedly more ‘nighttime’ too.
One thing’s for sure – Extreme is going to polarise opinion as much as Noir did. But then, almost all of Ford’s fragrances polarise opinion – which is why they work so well and why they’re always so talked about. Do I like it? Well, yes. But would I sacrifice it for the original Noir? Probably not, but only because I’d feel like I was cheating on the original fragrance if I did.
With Christmas just around the corner a lot of men I know (and a fair few women) are already in a slight panic about what to buy their loved ones, so here’s a tip from me: how about a candle from the Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Collection? Scented candles are always a good bet for women (my mum loves them) but an increasing number of men are appreciating what they can bring to the home too. Luxury-with-a-wick, this particular collection features a range of scented candles based around the high-end Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Collection fragrances. Hence, there’s Velvet Wood, which is warm and resinous, and Velvet Desire – a heady floral number my mum would adore. What impresses most about these particular candles, though, is their attention to detail. Not only is the outer packaging excellent, the jars look fantastic (each also one comes in a silk drawstring bag) and – best of all – there’s a snuffer lid too. Definitely worth putting on your Christmas list.
Available exclusively from Harrods, priced £60
Choosing a fragrance for someone can be such a drag – especially at Christmastime when you’ve got so many better things to do (drinking mulled wine for starters). And people are so terribly hard to please these days. So here’s a great idea in the shape of the Zegna Essenze Gift Set which features 30ml versions of six Zegna Essenze fragrances, including personal favourites of mine like Hatian Vetiver and Italian Bergamot. Although I’m not a massive fan of the mass market Zegna fragrances the finely constructed top end ones in the Essenze collection are excellent and well worth investigating, either individually or in the form of this luxurious (and easy to wrap) gift set.
Available exclusively at Harrods, John Lewis and House of Fraser, priced £180 for the set.
I love The Library of Fragrance. They really do have what you might call a ‘scents’ of fun (sorry). Fireplace, Thunderstorm and Play-Doh are on my desk at all times. They’re just so…entertaining. Anyway, just about to become available in the UK is Paperback – a unisex cologne that’s all vanilla, violets and, yes, the familiar smell of musty old bookshops. Don’t panic – you’re not going to smell like a well-fingered copy of Fifty Shades of Grey – it’s a little more complex than that – but it certainly does have a whiff of years-old paperbacks. In a good way, you understand.
Available from thelibraryoffragrance.com from 21st November.