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.
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.
The arrival of a new Jo Loves fragrance always creates a bit of a buzz (their creator, Jo Malone, has a loyal following with both press and public alike) but whilst all her fragrances are technically unisex it’s taken until now for one to emerge that’s overtly masculine in character.
Jo Loves…Shards of Cedar & Red Thyme is a blend of aromatic herbs (mint and lavender amongst them) along with bergamot and nutmeg and a base of male fragrance stalwarts like cedarwood, vetiver and patchouli. In a way, it’s faintly reminiscent of those hyper-masculine colognes of the Seventies – minus the cheesy, chest medallion ads – and has a slight bitterness on the skin that’s not as unappealing as it sounds. But, hey, never mind all this – here is a fragrance that has a word as wonderful as ‘shards’ in its name!
Shards of Cedar & Red Thyme is available now, priced £45 for 30ml from joloves.com
Good news for fans of Chanel’s best selling Bleu de Chanel fragrance: at the end of this month you’ll also be able to buy an eau de parfum version (in both 50ml and 100ml sizes) as well as this rather fabulous palm-sized soap. The latter is a limited edition release, though, so don’t let it, er, slip through your fingers.
I would very much like to tell you that Clive Christian‘s superb new fragrance ‘L’ was created just for me (it does bear my initial after all) and in my deluded mind it absolutely was. Alas, it turns out that the ‘L’ in question stands not for Lee but for Love.
Part of the ‘L’ private collection (there’s a female fragrance too) ‘L’ For Men is a sweet, sensual and – above all else – a ferociously woody scent. It features a fairly heady combination of grapefruit, vetiver and rose with a touch of smoky oud wood and a slightly pornographic musky base but the overriding smell is one of intensely woody pencil shavings (courtesy of atlas cedar). It’s sexy without being licentious, complex without being pretentious and, for men who like their fragrances to have stamina, has the kind of tenacity on the skin that means it can easily survive a hot bath or shower. Impressive stuff.
Available exclusively from Harrods from August