Why Dolce & Gabbana’s Velvet Collection candles light my fire

DGFF_Velvet Candle_WOOD_high resWith 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

Looking for the perfect pressie? How about Mr Porter’s new paperback?

MR PORTER PAPERBACKCurrently accompanying me to bed at night is this little number from online retail behemoth Mr Porter. The second paperback compendium of style and grooming tips, essential man skills, insider advice about where to eat, hang out and  – in typical Mr Porter style – how to pick the perfect desk lamp, it makes perfect bedtime reading.

What’s more everything is presented in an easily digestible format (the Bryan Ferry interview is just four dinky pages long but more insightful than some entire books on him I’ve read). Look out, too, for the article entitled Art-Deco Drives which is the nearest thing to car porn you’ll ever find.

The Mr Porter Paperback Volume Two is published by Thames & Hudson and is available from mrporter.com, priced £20.

Looking for the perfect fragrance gift for Christmas?

I’m often asked at this time of year if I can recommend a few new fragrances that would make great Christmas gifts for men. Given that fragrance is a very subjective thing it’s always tricky and since I was asked recently to list a few for my Telegraph Men column I thought I may as well just point you in that direction rather than list them again here. A few of the new fragrances mentioned are ones that really impressed me this year whilst others are there because I think they’d make an impact on Christmas morning with certain types of guys. So, anyway, if you want to see my selection simply click on the image below. And feel free to call me out if you don’t agree with what I went for!

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Kurkdjian’s Christmas candle magic

MFK-Ligne Noël Bougies PArfumées-LDWhen it comes to Christmas few gifts are as nice as scented candles and few scented candles are as nice as this trio of bougies from perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. Presented as a boxed set containing three mini candles (with a burn time of 20 hours each), they look fantastic and smell of gingerbread and iris so have a festive twist but not one so Christmassy they can’t be used beyond December.

Available from Selfridges, Liberty, Harvey Nichols, John Lewis and Les Senteurs.

Lab Series’ ‘Try It’ Kit is perfect for Christmas

LAB try it kitOne of the things I love most about Lab Series is their no-bull approach to skincare. Never over-complicated for the sake of it, their products always do what they say on the tin and rarely over-promise but often over-deliver. So it’s rather appropriate that their kit for Christmas has a very upfront ‘go on, try us’ message.

The Try It Kit (£16.50 from Boots and labseries.co.uk) features three hero products from the range – the Multi Action Face Wash (one of my all-time favourite grooming products), a 3-in-1 Post Shave and a Daily Moisture Defense Lotion. It’s a perfect introduction to the brand, is a good price and makes a fab Christmas gift. Great for travel too.

G’day! It’s Australia Day! So here’s some grooming gear from Down Under

products_5_shaving-essentials-kit_0Since it’s Australia Day today I  thought I’d do a little post today about a couple of my favourite Aussie grooming brands. Eyre BioBotantics is a premium brand I’ve loved for years (I interviewed its founder Stephen Damiani shortly after it was founded in the mid noughties) and it has been something of a pioneer in terms of organic grooming. Having achieved Australian Certified Organic certification the ingredients certainly come to you as nature intended.

I especially like their twin-chamber delivery system products which contain two separate products in one one tube. If you want a good introduction to this fantastic brand try their Shaving Essentials Kit above, available from nivenandjoshua.com.

VITAMAN-DISCOVERY-PACK-2Also worth checking out is Vitaman, which launched back in 1999 and prides itself on using ingredients like eucalyptus which are native to Australia, and in not using synthetic ingredients or artificial fragrances, which are native to nowhere!

The Body Discovery Pack (above), available from vitamangrooming.co.uk, serves as a good taster and inlcudes one of my favourite Vitaman products – their exfoliating bar, which is minimally scented but great for keeping your bod free of dead skin cells. I especially love the full-sized version which is fantastically chunky.

Anyway, both ranges are well worth investigating and are proof that Kylie, koalas and Kath & Kim aren’t the only great things Australia has given the world.

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