Like the acting Oscars the annual fragrance Oscars – the FiFi awards – tend to create their own share of controversy when it comes to winners, not to mention the odd WTF?! moment. Occasionally there’s a whiff of the Rita Oras about the bigger winners (i.e they’re absolutely everywhere so they’ve got to be good, right? Which we all know isn’t always true) but I was genuinely thrilled to see that dunhill ICON picked up an award for Best New Male Design & Packaging at last night’s ceremony. Almost every review of this fragrance (my own included) commented on how superb the bottle was. Featuring an engine-turned cylindrical case, with a design first used on dunhill accessories back in 1924, it’s both beautiful to hold and to look at. So huge congrats to dunhill – and to Mark Eisen who designed it – on a thoroughly deserved win.
P.S. The fragrance happens to be pretty good too.
A full list of The Fragrance Foundation Awards winners can be seen here.
Growing up, as I did, in the 1980s, it was impossible – as someone interested in magazines and fashion – not to know who Judy Blame was. Working with the likes of Buffalo stylist Ray Petri, he was responsible from some of the most iconic looks of the decade – and the one that followed. As a stylist and jeweller he’s worked with everyone from Boy George and Bjork to Dior and Galliano.
Inspired by the DIY punk aesthetic of the Seventies his work was (and still is) characterized by the use of everyday items: from buttons and safety pins to keys, tassels and household cutlery. And so, appropriately, it’s a button motif that’s been used for his new collaboration with fragrance house Jo Malone.
The perfect present for the style-conscious perfumista, the Judy Blame for Jo Malone London Box, is a great way to have your favourite Jo Malone fragrance pimped up, Blame style. Each bottle is adorned with little button stickers comes in a special ‘pearly kings and queens’ box, tied with ribbon printed with (you guessed it) more buttons. The box itself is cool enough to become something you’re likely keep long after the fragrance has run out and is perfect for keeping stuff in, whether that’s pocket squares, bow ties, belts or, you know, spare buttons, keys and safety pins.
The Judy Blame For Jo Malone London Box will be available exclusively from Selfridges and from jomalone.co.uk from 1st June, priced £85.
The launch of Mr. Burberry, the latest fragrance from the iconic British fashion house Burberry, is, without doubt, the biggest thing to hit the male fragrance industry this year (read my review of it here), not least because there’s some serious money behind its launch.
For proof take a look at the campaign film above which is directed by Turner Prize winner Steve McQueen, features a soundtrack by Benjamin Clementine and stars British actor and musician Josh Whitehouse and model and actress Amber Anderson. “I wanted to convey the idea of two people who are passionately in love, and go off on a dirty weekend,” says the director. “It’s that moment in a relationship where all you are thinking about is each other, and all you want is to be with each other.” He certainly succeeded. And if Whitehouse is wearing the fragrance it’s obviously doing something very right.
Given that today is National Fragrance Day it seemed appropriate to post something about the importance of the smelly stuff. Certainly, the relationship it’s possible to have with your favourite fragrance can be complex and surprisingly intimate. I have known my signature scent, Geoffrey Beene’s Grey Flannel, for example, longer than I have known most of my friends or my other half.
It has been my favourite fragrance for nearly 30 years (yes, I am that old) and has been there on my skin when I have laughed, cried, worked, travelled, fallen in love and – on occasion – fallen over blind drunk. It was there when I went to University in the mid Eighties, when I secured my first journalism job in the Nineties and when I tied the knot in the Noughties. And I’m still wearing it now, in whatever the current decade we’re in happens to be called.
Acquaintances have come and gone but Grey Flannel, like the most steadfast and loyal of friends, has stuck by me through thick and thin – literally and figuratively as it happens since I was once considerably slighter than I am now. Frankly, I only hope that someone has the decency to spritz my lifeless cadaver with it when I eventually pop my clogs/favourite pair of Tricker’s boots.
Oh, I’ll admit here and now that there have been times when I’ve been, you know, less than faithful to Grey Flannel: other fragrances have entered my life and caused me to stray occasionally. What can I say? I write about fragrance for a living so the temptation is there on a plate – and in a bottle. But though I do have a fondness for Givenchy Gentleman, Helmut Lang Cologne, Roja Parfum’s Vetiver Extrait and Lagerfeld Classic, Grey Flannel is the fragrance I always come home to after a dalliance of the eau de toilette kind.
Although launched in the mid Seventies, I first discovered GF though an ad in Eighties’ style bible Blitz magazine which featured a naked James Dean lookalike (or was it Dean himself?) and instantly fell in love with its quirky grey flannel pouch and intoxicating (if polarising) mix of galbanum, geranium, rose, oakmoss, tonka bean and violet. And especially the violet.
People who smell it on me often say it reminds them of the Parma Violet sweets they sucked on as kids. A oriental woody scent with green, powdery and slightly soapy vibes, it’s a lot more complex than that, of course, but I get where they’re coming from and, like the smell of the childhood sweets they refer to, it’s a concoction I find strangely comforting. So much so, in fact, that it’s my lucky charm when I need a little good fortune and in times of crisis I’ve been known to spray a little of it on my pillow. Yep, Linus from Charlie Brown has his security blanket and I have my bottle of Grey Flannel. But that’s how it is with a fragrance that you fall in love with: it’s always there for you.
The truth is, Grey Flannel is not the coolest of fragrances to wear (though the perfumers I know seem to rate it highly) nor is it a particularly expensive one. But don’t be fooled by the lack of street cred or disrespectful discounting; there’s nothing bargain basement about this award-winning fragrance (it won a prestigious FiFi – the equivalent of a fragrance Oscar – in 1976).
Naturally, over the years the formula has changed a bit (pesky new ingredient rules have seen to that) but it’s still pretty faithful to the fragrance I remember back when I was in my student digs so I’m not complaining. My only concern these days is that Grey Flannel will be discontinued before I am – which explains why I have a small, nuclear holocaust-style stockpile – but it must be doing something right to be here 40 years after it launched – not to mention to still be in my life after all these years. Franky, I count myself very lucky indeed to have picked a fragrance that has lasted so long. Many young guys I know are falling in love with fragrances that will have vanished off the shelves in three years time once the company that produces them decides to replace them – modern record company stylee – with a younger, fresher, more aggressively commercial model.
So, on the day we’re celebrating all that the fragrance industry has given us my message is this: if you find a fragrance that means as much to you as Grey Flannel means to me enjoy it, cherish it and keep it close: it’s much more than something that can make you smell nice – it really can be your very best friend.
A version of this post originally appeared on scentmemories.org
I wrote about the two brand new Bleu de Chanel shaving products the other week and tomorrow (25th February) and again on 3rd March, from 4 – 9pm, Chanel will be hosting a special pop-up shaving evening with expert barber Dan Gregory at John Lewis in Oxford Street. If you’re in town on either of those days and fancy a professional shave and a chance to sample the new products yourselves then you can book a 30 minute slot by calling 0203 073 0648. Appointments cost £30 but that’s redeemable against any purchase from the range on the day, so if you like Bleu de Chanel and fancy a bespoke shave get booking!
February 5th sees the launch of two brand new, limited edition shave products from BLEU DE CHANEL: a low-foaming, transparent Shaving Cream (above) and a soothing and moisturising Hydrating After Shave Gel. Both lightly scented with the wildly successful Bleu de Chanel fragrance, they’re the perfect way to bolster the effect of the fragrance itself and the transparent nature of the gel means it’s great for guys with facial hair to navigate too. If you’re a Bleu boy then these new products are definitely worth adding to your fragrance armoury.
Available nationwide priced £38 each.