Love it or loathe it Paco Rabanne’s 1 Million is a fragrance phenomenon. It’s a heady cocktail, though, so if it’s a little bit too ‘in-your-face’ for you maybe you should check out 1 Million Cologne. Sharper and fresher than its best-selling brother it has a slightly bitter, cocktail feel (the result of mandarin orange and a fresh marine accord) which makes it a much better option for summer. It’s spikier and not quite as rounded and creamy as the original 1 Million fragrance but is just as ferociously commercial and has lost non of its tenacity – when I tested it out on my skin I could still smell it 12 hours later.
Paco Rabanne 1 Million Cologne is available now.
Few companies can say that their GWPs (Gifts With Purchase) are collectors’ items (usually they’re they kind of old tat that makes you seriously question your purchase) but the Aramis umbrella has become something of a legend freebie-wise. Excellent quality and genuinely useful, it’s available with any purchase of an Aramis fragrance over 60ml in size and this year’s version comes in a delightful tartan and with a handle that makes it, quite literally, ‘the dogs’.
Grab one during April, while stocks last. For stockists call 0870 034 2566
When it comes to mass market men’s fragrances the ones that form the Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 collection are some of my favourites – in part because I like the simplicity and honesty of the fragrances. In particular, I’ve always loved the bottles, with their smooth curves, polo shirt fabric-inspired sides and iconic croc logo.
Sunny, cheerful and exuberant, Jaune, is the nearest the Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 collection has come to a bona fide summer fragrance. Fruity and juicy, with the vibe of sharp and tangy cocktail, it’s big on bitter grapefruit and coriander and there’s an apple note in there too.
Like all the fragrances in the collection it’s unashamedly commercial and is unlikely to win any awards for off-the-wall originality but for an accessible fragrance a guy in his 20s is going to wear day-in-day-out it’s certainly as good as anything else in its price range and is great for your summer hols.
Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Jaune is available from April priced £35 for 50ml eau de toilette.
PS. Fans of Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Vert take note – it’s now been dropped from the range so if you have a bottle use it wisely!
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.