Something old, something new: Carven launch two fragrances for men

CARVEN VETIVERYou 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.

CARVEN POUR HOMMEPour 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.

Selfridges launch new ‘Handsome Prince’ grooming box for Christmas

selfridges373-2062014-MENSBOXX14_001_ALT01Following the success of their last grooming box Selfridges have launched another boxed selection of grooming goodies  – just in time for Christmas. Which is certainly handy if you’re one of those people who never knows what to buy the man in your life. Many of the brands featured last time are back – including a personal favourite of mine, Triumph & Disaster. Altogether there are 10 products (though my preview box seemed to be missing its Molton Brown body wash) together with an Alphabet Bags ‘Handsome Prince’ washbag to shove everything into. The whole thing comes in a great Selfridges gift box and I can’t imagine any man not being pleased to receive one on Christmas morning. Enables you to tick one gift off your list, too, so that’s got to be good news right?

The Handsome Prince Grooming Box costs £35 from Selfridges, while stocks last.

Selfridges have male grooming all wrapped up

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Grooming Boxes are tricky things to get right. When GlossyBox attempted one I, like many people, was left rather underwhelmed, partly because the size of the samples seemed particularly stingy for the money.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept the Grooming Box, it’s a way of collecting together a range of different grooming products, from a different array of brands, so that you get to sample their wares and they get to win you over. Quite often they feature smaller or travel-sized versions of well-known products (and on occasions really small samples).

selfridegs 1So, how does the first Grooming Box from Selfridges rate? Well, actually, it’s one of the best I’ve seen – if not the best. Featuring nine separate products from seven different brands – including personal favouries like Triumph & Disaster, Clarins, Molton Brown, Kiehl’s and Commes des Garcons – it’s generous in terms of products and scope and would be just as good a gift for someone as it is a great way to sample some fine brands for yourself. Sure, it might have been nice for them to have featured one or two more brands rather than featuring a trio of products from Scaramouche & Fandango but other than that small criticism I really can’t fault it, so well done Selfridges and I hope there’s another one in the pipeline for later in the year!

The Selfridges Grooming Box costs £20 and is available exclusively from selfridges.com whilst stocks last!

Acqua di Parma’s Collezione Barbiere gets a new lease of life

8. Collezione Barbiere GroupageI still remember the tingle of excitement when I first saw Acqua di Parma’s Collezione Barbiere range a few years back. Lightly scented with their legendary Colonia fragrance it was just so luxurious, elegant and desirable. The only problem with it was that if you didn’t like the scent you were kind of stuffed. What if, for example, you liked the range but wore Acqua di Parma’s Blue Mediterraneo or the wonderful Colonia Intensa Oud fragrance?

acqua di parma scrubClearly the company must have been aware of this slight drawback because they’ve wisely reformulated the range with a barely-there scent that makes perfect sense commercially, allowing it to be used as a stand-alone grooming range regardless of the fragrance you wear.

Stars of the line up include the luxuriously thick and creamy Shaving Cream, the new Shaving Oil – which is fantastically light and non-greasy –  and the the Scrub Purificante Viso (I just love typing that – it sounds so good in Italian) which is especially worth having as it’s not too abrasive. What’s more, a brand new Eye Treatment and Face Cream have been added to round out the range and to elevate it from ancillary shaving range to a full-blown collection of skincare essentials. Definitely one of the new season’s must-buys.

Collezione Barbiere is available from Selfridges and your usual Acqua di Parma stockists from 1st October. 

How to concoct success

4ca9f7a8bfd38f9e04160fef12d83221Given that we’re very much in an age of ‘bespoke beauty’ and are constantly being told that today’s ‘Millennials’ are fiercely individualistic it’s no surprise to see the emergence of a shampoo you practically create yourself.

The brainchild of Alex Epstein, Concoction is essentially a bespoke shampoo where you select one of four bases and then pimp it up with the help of two ‘superserum shots’ of your choice. These serums, contained in dinky vials, are tailored to hair colour, texture or need (there’s one to add volume for example) and, along with the base shampoos, there are a whopping 256 possible blends, which certainly elevates it above any shampoo currently on offer in terms of a tailor-made feel.

alexIf you’re a fan of reality TV you’ll remember Alex from The Apprentice a couple of years back.  Though he never made it to the final (I suspect he was was too nice to) he’s one of the few contestants to actually do something with their entrepreneurial nous.

I met him briefly at the launch of the range at Selfridges a few weeks back and even though the poor guy hadn’t slept for 24 hours and was clearly running on nothing but adrenaline his enthusiasm for his brand was utterly infectious. In my book, anyone with that much passion for a product deserves all the success in the world. But passion aside, Concoction actually has a winning formula: a great idea + fantastic execution + all-important efficacy. More than that, though, it has something that’s genuinely rare for a beauty product – it’s huge fun.

Concoction is available exclusive to Selfridges.

Fore more information go to concoction.co.uk

5 great Valentine’s Day fragrances for women

Fancy buying the woman in your life a fragrance for Valentine’s Day but not sure where to begin? Don’t worry, I’ve made it easy for you by asking some of my favourite beauty industry pals what they’d recommend…chaneljpegJane Cunningham, founder of britishbeautyblogger.com:  Chanel No5, from boots.com

“It’s the classic floral you cannot go wrong with, not least because every woman in the world would like to think she deserves Chanel and she’ll love the fact you realise that!”

westwoodlLauren Naylor, The Sun’s Beauty Expert: Vivienne Westwood Boudoir, from escentual.com

“If you want to get in your woman’s good books, opting for a designer fragrance like this is a sure fire way, especially when the bottle looks so goddamn exquisite. She’ll love you for choosing such a quintessentially English brand too.”

moleculesNadine Baggott, Health and Beauty Editor of HELLO! Magazine: Escentric Molecules Molecule 01, from liberty.co.uk

“If you want to indulge your partner in a scent that works for you as well then go for this one by maverick nose Geza Schoen. I never tire of this unisex, pheromone-based, mossy, light-as-air scent.”

amyrisLynnette Peck Bateman, Beauty Director of Saga magazine: Amyris Femme by Francis Kurkdjian, from selfridges.com

“If you’re looking for a unique and imaginative gift for a more sophisticated woman I’d recommend this warm powdery scent with hints of citrus. It’s not by one of the large cosmetic houses so also has the advantage that it won’t be worn by every other woman in the world.”

avedaJacqui Ripley, beauty writer, author and Dolly Mixture blogger: Aveda Pure-Fume Ancient Attar, from aveda.co.uk

“In its presentation it’s low-key and mindful rather than a big splashy blockbuster. It smells natural on the skin too, with Bulgarian Rose being at its heart. Gives the sentiment of love without being predictable.”

The Grooming Guru’s Christmas Gift Guide For Her

Stuck for a present idea for the woman in your life? How about these glorious gifts?

03102012042806There are scented candles and then there are Fornasetti scented candles, which don’t just smell great but turn the humble room fragrance into a mini work of art. This one, the Flora di Fornasetti candle, fills the room with gloriously intoxicating notes of lily of the valley, jasmine and tuberose and comes in the most exquisite ceramic vessel and gift box. £99 from Selfridges.com
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Face facts, how a bottle of fragrance looks is just as important as how it smells when it comes to gift giving. And who could not be won over by this orb-topped fragrance from Vivienne Westwood? Deliciously feminine, with notes of bergamot, red english rose and heliotrope, Boudoir is a no-brainer when it comes to gifting so go buy! £34 for 30ml eau de parfum from escentual.com

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I always think that Molton Brown products look like colourful little jewels. And if that’s the case then this Orion Gift Set, featuring six colourful bath and shower gels is a veritible treasure trove for beauty magpies. Looks fab and best of all, is easy to wrap! £36 from nivenandjoshua.com

ren-gift-set-05I love REN as a brand and suspect she’ll love you if you gave her this Neroil Duo Gift Set featuring a Neroli and Grapefruit Body Wash and Body Cream. They smell  fantastic and the great thing is that, once they’re on the side of the bath, you can can proceed to steal them for yourself. £28 from renskincare.com

Tidy_All_PurpleLizThough the contents of a woman’s handbag largely remain a mystery to me I’ve seen enough friends rummaging around in them to know that they’re clearly a bit like the Tardis inside (i.e big and very messy). This dinky little Aspinal Handbag Tidy solves part of that problem by safely housing a few essentials like lipstick, lipgloss and contact lenses. £65 from aspinaloflondon.com

black orchidYou probably know by now how much I love Tom Ford fragrances. Well, Black Orchid is one of his best selling signature fragrances for women and this gift set, featuring a 50ml bottle of the rich, sensual fragrance along with a 75ml body lotion, is guaranteed to make a big impression on Christmas morning. £75 from selfridges.com

whole lotta colourI must confess I don’t know much about make up (the last time I wore any myself was back in the Eighties when it was de rigueur for men to slap up) but what I do know from reading the posts and tweets of my fellow beauty press and beauty bloggers is that Clinique’s Chubby Sticks* have been a bit of a sensation this year. So much so that this Whole Lotta Colour gift set has sold out on their own website and it’s pot luck whether you’ll be able to find a store near you that has a set. But since it’s clearly one of this year’s must have gifts you’ll get extra points if you do find one. So what are you doing reading this? You’d better get shopping! £30 from a store near you (hopefully).

*they’re lip colour balms in case you were wondering