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.
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.