It’s hard to imagine, I know, but Abercrombie & Fitch are extending their Fierce fragrance line with an Intense version. I say hard to imagine because it’s difficult to contemplate an intense version of a fragrance already so ferocious that you can smell it halfway down Savile Road, exuding, as it does, from the very pores of the nearby A&F flagship UK store. The first concentrated version of the scent and apparently the strongest and longest lasting (be afraid) it retails for $118 in the States. And that’s not all – accompanying Fierce Intense is Fierce Confidence – an energetic, citrusy version of the Fierce fragrance. Both are coming to our shores soon. Like Ebola.
It doesn’t launch until September but since I’m getting old (and may well have forgotten I had a sneak preview of it by then) I thought I might as well give you the heads up on the brand new Aesop fragrance, Marrakech Intense, right now. Created by French perfumer Barnabé Fillion - a man who’s collaborated with the likes of Le Labo and who was the nose behind Paul Smith’s rather underrated Portrait For Men fragrance, it’s a rather clever “reinterpretation” of Aesop’s existing Marrakech fragrance.
Fillion (pictured) was brought in to give it a bit more oomph, reassembling it in the same way a musical track might be remixed in order to breathe new life into it and give it new meaning. Thus, Marrakech Intense is muskier and sexier than its predecessor and Fillion has fiddled with the top and middle of the fragrance, too, adding neroli, bergamot, rose and jasmine.
The distinctive clove, cardamon and sandalwood of the original is still there, but the Frenchman has added complexity and depth to Marrakech – making it much more nuanced – and in doing so he’s taken it from being a quirky apothecary scent and pushed it in the direction of a boutique fragrance with bags of character. Impressive.
Aesop Marrakech Intense will be available from September as a 50ml eau de toilette and a 10ml parfum roll-on.
Now let me get this out of the way first: I love Czech & Speake. When I was a teenager back in the Eighties, I eyed their products (and especially their No.88 fragrance) with a desire that bordered on unrestrained lust. I still adore No.88 and can heartily recommend it if you like woody, floral, barbershoppy fragrances that pack a punch and have serious longevity on the skin.
But anyway, enough about that fragrance and on to their latest one, Spanish Cedar. Warm, woody, fruity, spicy and smoky it’s a great evening fragrance but, in truth, not nearly as distinctive as some other C&S fragrances and certainly nowhere near as interesting as No.88. To me the cedar is slightly lost amongst the sweetness of the plum and blackberry notes and its longevity could be better but if you like your scents warm and spicy it’s certainly worth investigating.
I honestly don’t know what happens when celebrities dabble in fragrances. It’s as if their sense of reason, good taste and self-respect leaves the building faster than they leave it after a gig or PA. I sometimes suspect they only actually get a whiff of what’s done in their name for a split second between more important things like negotiating a deal to play a private gig in Qatar and opening a bag of fashion freebies.
Having said that, when I first heard that Jay Z was to release a men’s fragrance I was actually rather excited. After all, Mr Carter strikes me as a guy of considerable taste, sophistication and integrity.
So quite why he should put his name to Gold Jay Z I have no idea. It’s not that this ‘white fougère’ is horrible per se (though it does rather catch in the back of the throat) it’s that it’s so safe, pedestrian and well…generally meh.
Generic, with a sweet, slightly powdery edge, it has that nose-tingling acrid quality prevalent in so many contemporary men’s fragrances and, to my hooter anyway, smells like a curious mix of fairy cakes and stale tobacco. In its defence it’s an extremely commercial scent by the standards of the day and I quite like the cap.
All in all, I’d put it on a par with the Bond 007 fragrance in terms of sophistication, though if you’re familiar with this blog you’ll know that this is damning, not so much with faint praise, but with no praise at all. But then, what do I know? That Bond fragrance flew out of the shops faster than sh*t off a shovel.
Top Yellow ginger, white cardamon, grapefruit, blueberry
Middle Violet leaf, cypress, lavender, vetiver, pink pepper
Base Golden amber, patchouli, teak, bourbon vanilla
Gold Jay Z debuts in Superdrug on 12 February priced £25 for 30ml eau de toilette spray.
The vibe: Mining the Paco Rabanne 1 Million vein, this sweet, aromatic woody fragrance with its novelty casino chip bottle is clearly aimed at young, single lads looking for a punchy, accessible, not-too-scary, night-out fragrance. And in that respect it ticks all the boxes.
Key notes: Iris, blackwood and juniper to give it a “gin fizz” accord.
Verdict: it’s not going to stun anyone with its originality but has huge mass-market appeal. Expect to see it in The Perfume Shop’s best seller list.
The Vibe: Fresh, sweet, woody oriental fragrance with a slightly bombastic Eighties feel (and name).
Key notes: Mint, Green Apple, Tonka bean, Ambroxan, Geranium flowers, Vanilla, Vetyver, Cedarwood and an oak moss accord.
Verdict: with Eros as the name it’s positively tumescent with potential but alas, the juice is surprisingly pedestrian and though appears sexy initially (in a sweet, Thierry Mugler kinda way) it matures into something my nan might have worn. Fab bottle though…
Jean Paul Gaultier Le Beau Male
The vibe: Fresh, herbaceous and uber-commercial new Gaultier fragrance created taking a few cues from the original Le Male fragrance and housed in a reworked version of the familiar torso flacon. After the commercial disappointment of Kokorico it seems they’re taking no chances this time.
Key notes: mint, absinthe, lavender, orange blossom, sage, musk
Verdict: Refreshingly different from Le Male (a fragrance too heady for me) the hint of absinthe is lovely, as is icy freshness of the mint and slight soapiness of the sage. The signature Le Male lavender and orange blossom are still there at the fragrance’s core but thankfully the vanilla is barely noticeable in this incarnation. Wearable and not nearly as polarising as Le Male, which is both its biggest asset and biggest drawback.
As much as I love vetiver fragrances I’m very funny about them too. I find the dry down of a lot of them (including Guerlian’s Vetiver) a bit sickly. In fact, the only one I truly love is Creed’s Original Vetiver but that uses the leaves rather than the root of the plant so it comes across as fresher and greener than most vetivers.
And so it was with some trepidation that I removed the lid of Angela Flanders Vetivert from her Artillery range for men and gave it a spray. Slightly leathery but not heady or overly-earthy it’s tempered by lavender and bergamot which give is a light, fresh, barbershop soapiness. Sure, it doesn’t have the punchiness or longevity of the Creed fragrance but I’ve been wearing it all week and have had nothing but compliments, so if you’re looking for a new fragrance for winter give it a go.
Angela Flanders Artillery No 4 Vetivert costs £50 for 50ml eau de toieltte. For more info go to www.angelaflanders-perfumer.com
Turns out it’s “world-famous Australian actor” and star of The Mentalist Simon Baker. Not a fan of the show (like the bulk of the UK population I rarely watch Channel 5) I had must confess I had absolutely no idea who he was. I mean, A-listers like Jude Law I know. Brad I know, even if he’s the face of a women’s perfume. And I did sort of recognise that guy from The Green Lantern who endorsed one of the Hugo Boss fragrances a while back. But Baker? No instant recognition there for me I’m afraid. He impressed Parfums Givenchy though who say they were won over by Baker’s ‘personality and charisma’. Not to mention his proportionate fee demand one suspects.
Fans of Prada fragrances (and I count myself as one of them) are in for treat with the forthcoming launch of Luna Rossa - a fresh but sensual fragrance built around two of my favourite notes, lavender and clary sage. As a taster, here’s a glimpse of the TV ad, directed by by Swedish music video director Adam Berg who’s worked with the likes of Groove Armada, Graham Coxon and Death in Vegas.
The name Luna Rossa, in case you’re wondering, comes from the name of America’s Cup the sailing boat and team that came about thanks to Patrizio Bertelli, CEO of Prada, and acclaimed yacht designer German Frers.
The fragrance itself launches on October 1st and I’ll feature a full review of it here shortly. In the meantime, gather your sea legs and enjoy the vid.
It’s a very mean and moody Tom Ford that graces the imagery for his latest signature fragrance for men, Tom Ford Noir. In fact, there’s almost something of the night about him, to borrow a famous phrase from former Tory MP Anne Widdecombe (I bet that’s the first time the two names have ever been linked and hopefully it will be the last).
The fact that the man himself describes Noir as his most personal fragrance yet is revealing, especially as he goes on to describe it as “enigmatic, complex and surprising” and a fragrance that “pulls you closer in an almost addicting way”.
Anyway, the first thing that hits you (and hard) is the powdery violet top note. I happen to be a huge fan of violet (it’s a key component of Geoffrey Beene’s Grey Flannel, my all-time favourite fragrance) but it might come as a shock to some men (there’s the ‘surprise’ element then).
Give it a few moments, though, and it develops into something altogether darker, warmer and sexier. If I were to rank it alongside the existing Tom Ford signature fragrances I’d put it ahead of Grey Vetiver but possibly a fraction behind Extreme but given the quality of both those fragrances that’s still considerable praise indeed. If I have once cirticism it’s that Noir doesn’t last quite as long as I’d like but, in the grand scheme of things that’s a minor quibble. Certainly, Ford has yet to come up with a duff fragrance, something few of his contemporaries can claim.
Top notes: Italian bergamot, verbena, caraway, baie rose, violet flower
Heart notes: black pepper, nutmeg, Tuscan Iris resisn, Egyptian Geranium, Bulgarian Rose, Clary Sage
Base notes: Opoponax, amber, Indonesian patchouli, vetiver, civet, vanilla
Tom Ford Noir will be available in October, priced £60 for 50ml EDP