Paco Rabanne’s Invictus: standing on the shoulders of a giant?

InvictusIt’s already hit the top spot of the best selling men’s fragrances in the UK and now that we’re in the frenzied run up to Christmas you can be sure that Paco Rabanne’s Invictus, which launched at the end of July, is going to be at the top of many a man’s festive wish list.

It’s success, of course, comes in the wake of a fragrance phenomenon – Paco Rabanne’s 1 Million. Since its launch back in 2008 1 Million has become the envy of fragrance houses worldwide. So popular has it become that, remarkably, a bottle is sold every five seconds. Such popularity isn’t without its drawbacks though. After all, how do you follow a fragrance that that’s become a modern classic and also a benchmark for commercial success in a notoriously fickle market? 

pacoIt was this very question that I put to Paco Rabanne Vice President Vincent Thilloy when I met him in Paris a while back. “In truth we could not have imagined how successful 1 Million would become or how it would end up a market leader,” he told me.  “Although I suppose key to its success was the fact that we took a risk with it, especially with the bottle. Few companies are willing to take real risks these days but the way I look at, it’s not taking a risk that’s the risk!”

Certainly, 1 Million‘s gold bullion bar bottle and the novel ‘trophy’ flacon of Invictus are both unlike anything on the market but according to Thilloy it’s still the ‘juice’ inside that matters most. “Having a great bottle is only part of the story,” he believes. “Ultimately, the smell of the fragrance is everything because you’ll only buy a fragrance again if someone says you smell great.”

So how does Invictus –  a fragrance that was over two and a half years in development – smell? Well, if you haven’t tried it yet it’s at the other end of the spectrum to 1 Million. Where that fragrance is sweet, warm and sexy Invictus is fresh and sporty.  Sure, it features earthy patchouli and warm woody notes but there’s a fresh ‘marine’ vibe (think the smell of ocean spray) and a slight metallic something going on there too. Fundamentally, though, it’s a fragrance of two halves.

Invictus_packshot“With Invictus we really wanted to create something that was fresh but not in a traditional ‘cologne fresh’ way – we wanted a fragrance that had two distinct sides to it,” says Thilloy. The beauty of this olfactory duality – and what differentiates it from 1 Million is that you can wear Invictus in the day and into the night, as the warmer base notes develop.

Paco Rabanne’s fragrances have always tapped into man’s most ardent aspirations. 1 Million was about a desire for wealth and the playboy lifestyle, Black XS was about wanting to be a rock star and Invictus is about being a champion. So now that this latest fragrance is firmly on the fragrance map what next? “I can’t tell you,” says Thilloy coyly. “But what I can tell you is that we’re already working on it!”

 

Insider Interview: Brendan Murdock, founder of Murdock

Established in London’s trendy Shoreditch in 2006 Murdock has become a prime destination for guys seeking good grooming and barbering in a classic, stylish but unstuffy environment. The ultimate example of an instant heritage brand (i.e. sounds as though it’s been around for decades but hasn’t) it’s been such a success that there are now sores at Liberty, in Mayfair and in Covent Garden.

Building on the success of the barbershops they’ve even branched out into their own skincare products, accessories, candles and fine fragrances – the Patchouli one being one of my own favourites (and I’m very fussy about my patchouli fragrances). 

Here I find out what makes founder Brendan Murdock tick and manage to get some invaluable grooming tips from him in the process. 

GG: What’s the biggest mistake men make when it comes to shaving? 

BM: The biggest mistake is undoubtedly lack of preparation. The best shaving results will be achieved when the skin and facial hair is prepared, a combination of a hot flannel or water, pre-shave oil, and perhaps a badger brush to apply the cream.  The pre-shave oil softens the whiskers and prepares the skin for the razor’s edge.

The fine tips of the hairs on the brush create a smooth and creamy lather, while the remarkable softness of badger hair cleanses the face gently, ensuring a comfortable and close shave. The action of a razor is quite harsh and surface skin cells are removed.  If the skin and facial hair is not prepared you may suffer from an itchy, sore face post-shave.

GG: What trends in male grooming have you noticed of late?

BM:Men have gained more confidence when it comes to shaving, and are becoming increasingly inquisitive as to how to perfect the art. When we first opened in 2006, gentleman would simply purchase a shave cream to shave. Most customers were not even using post shave balms after shaving, despite complaining of sore, red faces after shaving!

Today, men are more informed and educated about best grooming practice. Coupled with more visible brand and places to visit for grooming, more educated choices are made.

GG: What are your favourite men’s fragrances and why? 

BM: Green Irish Tweed by House of CREED. I’ve been loyal to the scent for many years; it now represents familiarity and comfort.

I also like the scents by Carthusia they are light and summery and remind me of wonderful holidays in Italy.

I really enjoy wearing our Murdock Patchouli Cologne too. It’s a subltle, sensuous and mysterious scent, suitable for all seasons; great all year round.

GG: What’s your best shaving tip? 

BM: Always use a post shave balm after each shave.  Shaving strips the skin of essential oils and you must ensure that the skin is moisturised and soothed post-shave.

GG: What’s your best skincare tip?

BM: Moisturise, moisturise and moisturise.

GG: Desert island grooming product?

BM: Naturally sunblock is an essential. However, I would not be complete without a bottle of Murdock Patchouli Cologne; capturing my more bohemian and free-thinking style for the desert island.

GG: Body hair. To trim or not trim? 

BM: If, for example, you are an athlete and your decision to wax or trim is to enhance your performance in your chosen field, then I am in favour. Conversely, if your decision to wax or trim is purely based on vanity, then I am not as convinced. For me, masculinity is reflected in natural body hair; to wax or trim detracts from this. Ultimately, the decision lies with the individual; each to their own.

GG: Fantasy grooming product? 

BM: A miracle cream that prevents hair loss and baldness, without any side effects!

To check out what Murdock has to offer go to www.murdocklondon.com