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At this time of year fragrance launches come upon you faster than colds so rather than give a detailed critique of every one I thought I’d pick a handful of the most recent and challenge myself to be succinct for once. So here goes…
Housed in a superbly modern flacon Prada’s latest offering is all about freshness. But not in a predictable, sparkling citrus top note kinda way. Instead, it’s all about spearmint, clary sage and lavender which lends it a slightly soapy floral feel with a sharp, aromatic freshness. Easy to wear and good for evening but even better for daytime. Looks the biz, too, doesn’t it?
Pornographer de parfum Roja Dove’s latest fragrance for men is typically filthy in feel – leathery, musky, animalistic and slightly spicy but has been given a more romantic and tender side with notes of violet and jasmine. Sexy, complex and capricious it can kiss you one minute and whip you the next. Which is just how I like my fragrances.
The problem with Aramis is that in creating such an iconic fragrance (in what is now known as Aramis Classic) it sort of has nowhere better to go. This latest fragrance takes its cues from the original fragrance but adds black pepper, along with oregano and ginger to take it in a different, lighter, direction. Like remixes of great records it’s certainly worth checking out but the original is still the better version.
I’m no fan of Thierry Mugler’s men’s fragrances (though Pure Shot did much to change my views). This souped-up version, with leather and patchouli, is particularly pernicious. I’ve sniffed hard to find the leather (a smell I love in fragrance) but all I can detect is a sickly sweet caramel and something akin to the smell of hairspray. Mugler fans may well love it but it would make me run a mile.
One of three men’s fragrances created exclusively for M&S this, like the other two fragrances that form the range, has a certain old-fashioned charm that I rather like. A blend of bergamot, lavender, patchouli and amber it still smells like something you dad might wear but it has a leatheriness I rather like. For £25, certainly worth a go.
The press release for next month’s launch of Procter & Gamble’s new James Bond 007 fragrance might say “the world’s first male fragrance dedicated to the legendary British spy” but a quick search on Google reveals that someone officially (or unofficially) got there first in 1996 with this stunning-looking eau de toilette. And whilst I doubt there’s much difference in smell, this version does look decidedly….well, George Lazenby. Know what I mean?
If there’s one thing you can definitely say about Jean Paul Gaultier it’s that he knows how to keep his fans happy. His fragrance bottles are always huge fun and this limited edition travel flask version for his iconic Le Male fragrance is no exception. Cool eh? Collectors, crack open the piggy bank!
The Le Male Eau de toilette 125ml Travel Flask costs £55. A similarly-sized flask version of Le Male Terrible is also available for £57
On paper the first fragrance from iconic fashion brand Penguin sounds promising: the press release describes Original Penguin For Men as being “an oriental fragrance with a distinguished combination of juicy gold apples, purple sage, Mediterranean neroli and a punch of black pepper, along with fresh acords of fir needle, lavender provence and a seductive mix of vanilla noir, tonka bean and dark musk.”
The reality, though, is decidedly un-Original. Like so many fragrances today is has a slightly bitter, acrid smell and a predictability that makes my heart sink. With fragrances like this I often bring up my Plasticine analogy. You start off with lots of wonderfully vibrant individual colours but the more you mix them the more they’re destined to become an unappealing, nondescript, sludgy brown.
The fact is, this is a fragrance that could have originated from any number of houses where the prime objective in creating a fragrance is not to offend rather than to impress. What results, then, is a scent that could equally be a Beckham or a Boss. Or both. Either way it’s decidedly meh. Nice bottle though.
Original Penguin For Men is available from Debenhams, priced £33 for 50 ml eau de toilette
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If you’ve ever wondered what the most popular fragrances for men are wonder no more. At a brilliantly organised event to celebrate The Perfume Shop’s 20 years in business and to showcase upcoming launches and the best of this year’s summer fragrances, I came across this display, featuring the shop’s perennial best sellers. They’re in no particular order but what resides in this case gives you a great steer on what British men are using and includes some of my own personal favourites.
From top left: Chanel Allure, Armani Code, Terre D’Hermes, Joop!, Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue, Boss Bottled, Dolce & Gabbana The One, Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male, L’eau d’Issey Pour Homme, Davidoff Cool Water, Paco Rabanne 1 Million.
For more info on the fragrances go to www.theperfumeshop.com
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I was going to compile my Top 5 fragrances for Autumn for a blogpost on here but since Men’s Health pipped me to the post and asked me to compile a list for them I thought I may as well simply share the link with you. So to discover why I think Dsqared’s Potion is magical and Roja Dove’s Danger Pour Homme is positively pornographic simply click here!
Two of the questions I’m often asked about fragrance are: “how do I look after it’ and “how long will it last”. And with economic times more trying than ever, looking after your investment has never been more relevant. So I asked James Craven, Perfume Archivist at Les Senteurs in Belgravia so his advice.
“The answer to the first question is very simple,” he says. “Keep the fragrance in the original packaging, and keep that box in a cupboard or drawer out of the light and at a constant cool temperature. Stored like this, perfume will last for years. But there again, don’t save it for those ‘special occasions’ which so rarely come – use it up, enjoy it and buy another bottle.”
And the answer to the second question? “If stored correctly (as above) a fragrance will last for years,’ he says. “Lighter, citrusy and flowery scents tends to decay quicker as their oils are more volatile. Oriental, woody, chypre scents mature and macerate with time, possibly even improving.”
He also points out that scents with atomisers will last better than splash-ons. “The latter are more vulnerable, on account of removing the stopper inevitably admits air and dust and corruption – if the stopper is used in the traditional manner to apply scent to the skin there is even further room for contamination.”
He’s quick to point out, though, that fragrance is for wearing not for hiding in cupboards so protect your purchase, by all means, but only hoard if you have to!
Illustration kindly supplied by Chris Jones. Check out his work at www.jonesyinc.co.uk
It doesn’t launch in the UK until January (an odd choice I know but perfectly timed for the Valentine market I guess) but already Jean Paul Gaultier’s lightest fragrance for men Kokorico is already creating a buzz in the fragrance world. The question on everyone’s lips, of course, is is whether it’s good as Le Male – a fragrance that, thanks to its iconic bottle, beautifully-shot ads and distinctive juice, has become a bona fide modern male classic.
The short answer is no. But then how could it? The bar has been set pretty high. Kokorico (inspired by a cocky rooster’s cry, but that’s Gaultier for you) is quite different from what I expected. A blend of fig leaf, patchouli, cedar, cocoa and vetivier, I was anticipating a distinctly gourmand fragrance but no, the fig leaf cuts right through the cocoa note giving this a surprisingly fresh, green, summery smell. It will certainly work much better as a daytime fragrance than Le Male does and isn’t nearly as sweet or powerful.
As you might expect the bottle’s a quirky, shaped like a man’s face in side profile and housed in a flat red tin (see the vid below for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the making of the flacon). Gaultier fans are certainly going to love it but will it have the longevity of Le Male or will Kokorico just be a flight of fancy? Only time will tell.
Though I lead a charmed life (come on, I sniff fragrances and test moisturisers for a living) it’s remarkably rare that I come across products I’d actually use myself and those that I do are documented in the Grooming Guru Essentials part of this blog. It’s rare too that I’m instantly captivated by a product. Yet, this is exactly what happened the other day with Mark Birley’s Charles Street fragrance, which was only recently released.
Birley, founder of clubs like Annabel’s, Harry’s Bar and Mark’s Club (on Charles Street , Mayfair, hence the name) has come up with just the kind of fragrance I love – leathery, smoky, musky and uncompromisingly masculine – and one which includes some of my favourite notes, including patchouli and tuberose. It’s also as sexy as hell (a quick straw poll of my friends revealed that both men and women loved it).
Call me old-fashioned but to my mind, Charles Street is how men should smell. Sure, it’s not the kind of fragrance you’re going to wear if you’re a 23-year-old clubber but if you’re a man of the world and a bit of a fragrance connisseur you should definitely give it a whirl. In fact, if you’re only buying one fragrance for yourself this Autumn, I’d suggest you make it this one.
Mark Birley for Men: Charles Street is available from Harrods, priced £48.50 for 75ml eau de parfum
Grooming Guru Essentials are the products I genuinely love and have used as part of my own routine.