Lab Series aim sky high with new ‘MAXELLENCE’ collection

maxellenceWith the economy finally picking up (sort of) it’s not surprising that a lot of skincare brands are eyeing-up consumers’ fatter-looking wallets and launching high-end products to empty them come payday. That Lab Series – one of my favourite skincare brands – should be one of them is a bit of a surprise, though, because I’ve always thought of them as a fairly democratic brand and they already have a premium MAX LS range for those willing to pay a little more for their skincare.

In January, however, they’re set to launch the MAXELLENCE collection – a pair of products that best even the MAX LS range’s premium price point. The new products – The Dual Concentrate (a serum which hydrates, firms an supports collagen production) and The Singular Cream (which moisturises skin and is infused with ‘galactic meteorite extract from the heart of an asteroid’) – cost a cool £130 and £105 respectively. Or, since they’re designed to be used together, a whopping £235.

The justification for this high price is twofold. Firstly, they’re using ingredients from outer space (the meteorite extract is rich in two – very earthly –  ingredients, calcium and magnesium, which assist skin function) and secondly the products themselves are made in small batches (a key plank of modern hipsterism). As you might expect, there’s only one logical stockist for MAXELLENCE outside of the Lab Series website and that’s Harrods – a store where price is always paramount.

max-lab-1The question is: are they any good? Having used them for a week I can tell you they certainly do the job though the concentrate doesn’t seem all that different to Lab Series’ excellent Future Rescue Repair Serum whilst The Singular Cream, isn’t dissimilar in feel to their Age Rescue+ Water-Charged Gel Cream. What really marks these new additions out, apart from some of the ingredients, is their fancy packaging and the colour of the products themselves: the lid of The Singular Cream, for example, is designed to look a bit like a meteorite while the cream itself is grey and the concentrate is both grey and white and is mixed at the point of delivery. As someone who associates Lab Series with no-fuss, almost clinical, functionality I personally find these new products oddly (and unnecessarily) gimmicky as well as expensive. They may be boldly going where few skincare brands have gone before but, for once, I’m not entirely sure whether I’m prepared to join them on the journey.

Lab Series MAXELLENCE The Dual Concentrate and The Singular Cream will be available from Harrods and online at labseries.co.uk from January. 

This Christmas’ blockbuster gift for Aramis lovers

aramis-1-open-med-resI have always loved Aramis. In fact, I’ve loved it since I was teenager (a mighty long time ago). Its warm, woody, leatheriness is irresistible. Elegant but muscular, it has a bit of a reputation as being a fragrance for dads but whilst it’s certainly a fragrance for grown ups (it’s often described as ‘authoritative’) its timeless appeal means every man should try it once – regardless of his age.

And whether you’re a hardcore fan like me or an Aramis virgin this new (and aptly named) ‘Blockbuster Set’ is a real treat. Featuring five products from the range housed in a swanky gift box, it makes a fantastic pressie for fragrance lovers. At £85 it’s great value, too, because buying all the products individually would set you back over £170. The only downer is that it doesn’t include one of my favourite bath products ever – the classic Aramis soap on a rope  – so the set isn’t quiet as ‘authoritative’ as the fragrance but don’t let that put you off: this is still one of the best Christmas gift sets out there.

You can read more about the fragrance itself here

 

Golden Greats: four new fragrances worth gifting this Christmas

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Every year, right about now, I’m asked by numerous pals what fragrances I’d recommend as gifts for Christmas. Over the past year I’ve sampled scores of new launches (some excellent, others mediocre and a few truly dire) but a handful have stood out. And here are four that I really rate. Like everyone, I have my own particular taste in fragrance, so make sure you try before you buy but do check them out because, in my book, every one of them is a winner.

alizarinPenhaligon’s Alizarin.  When I wrote about what to wear for a party in my Stella magazine column recently this new number from Penhaligon’s was my automatic fragrance of choice. Oudy and leathery, with touches of powdery orris, it’s an exceptionally grown up, sexy, slighty sherbety fragrance and has excellent longevity on the skin – which is exactly what you want from a party fragrance.

view_image-5kcx-01-fErmenegildo Zegna Essenze Musk Gold. Though I’m not a huge fan of Zegna’s mass-market fragrances their more luxe Essenze fragrances are, almost without exception, absolutely superb. This one is practically pornographic in nature: opulent and rich and with a kinky, leather-meets-musk base, it’s a ballsy, truly muscular statement scent and one of my favourite launches this year.

1962-edp-100ml-1200px_rgb-1Floris 1962. Part of Floris’ new Fragrance Journals Collection, 1962 takes bohemian Soho of the sixties as its inspiration and is intentionally retro in feel and character. I absolutely fell in love with it the minute I got a whiff of it at its press launch back in the summer and still can’t get enough of it. Citrusy and woody, with delightful touches of clove, spearmint and lily of the valley, it’s ludicrously old-skool in character and is the smell of men before the fragrance industry turned them into cake shops. A fragrance I’ve worn incessantly this year.

3432240501141_t1_1200x1200L’envol de Cartier Read the reviews of this brand new fragrance from Cartier and you’ll notice straight away that they’re almost universally positive. And it’s not just the juice – a not-too-overpowering blend of warm woods, honey and musk – that’s received plaudits – the bottle has too. If you can afford the extra moolah, go for the 100ml refillable version (pictured above) which is suspended in a kind of bell jar and looks ridiculously stylish.

 

GT Shopping: a one-stop destination for all your style and grooming gear

gt-shoppingWhen it comes to looking good and dressing well we all know that it’s all about the edit: about choosing just the right products for your skin, a fragrance that reflects your personality and clothes that suit your very personal sense of style. But with so much out there to choose from it’s sometimes difficult to know where to begin when picking out the perfect moisturiser, fragrance or new winter jacket. Which is where GT Shopping comes in handy. A new site in partnership with Gay Times Magazine, it helpfully points you in the direction of the very best fragrances, skincare products and grooming gadgets on the market (along with some of the most stylish menswear picks and a whole lot more)  so you don’t have to go trawling  the internet to find just the product you’re after.

gt-page-1A lot of the products I mention in my monthly male grooming column in GT can be found there but that’s just the tip of the iceberg and you don’t have to be a reader to use the site, though there is an option on there to subscribe to the mag and get regular (very useful) style updates if you wish.

So whether you’re looking the perfect new fragrance for yourself  (bottle of Tom Ford  For Men anyone?), something to wear for an upcoming party or are looking for the perfect gift for a loved one GT Shopping is the place to head. To see what’s on offer go to shopping.gaytimes.co.uk.

 

A Grooming Guru/Octer Sponsored Post

Clarins launch 12 Days of Christmas survival kit for men

clarins-mens-advent-calendar-selfridges-exclusive-65We all know how draining the festive season can be and so it seems do Clarins, who have just released a special skincare survival kit to help men get through the post-Christmas period looking half-decent. Available exclusively from Selfridges and selfridges.com the £65 kit features 12 skincare heroes hidden behind advent calendar doors that start on Christmas Day. If you’re a Clarins fan that represents a saving of £27 compared to the price of buying the products individually, so even if you can’t be bothered with the gimmicky advent calendar aspect (and  I can’t say I would be) it’s still a great buy.  Since it’s boxed and good-to-go it makes a fantastic gift too.

Take a voyage into darkness with Beaufort London’s Fathom V

fathom-v-1If there’s one thing that’s predictable about new launches from British fragrance house Beaufort London it’s their unpredictability. So, although the name of their latest creation, Fathom V, suggests something aquatic what’s delivered is far more unexpected  and intriguing.

Fathom V’s cleverness lies in its ability to take the concept of an aquatic fragrance and turn it on its head. Instead of following the bright and breezy, surf’s up approach that so many marine scents take, it plots an entirely different course, taking the wearer on a dark, foggy, Gothic adventure that conjures up images of dark, 17th century sea ports full of smugglers, ships with moss-covered hulls and illegally obtained barrels of spice. Sure, there’s a bitter sea saltiness to it but as a fragrance its predominantly earthy, mossy, green and aromatic in nature, with hints of crude oil, lilies and petrichor – the unique smell that rises off bone dry earthy soaked by rain. All in all it’s a delightfully complex, contradictory fragrance and one that I can imagine someone like Nick Cave wearing. For that reason alone I absolutely love it.

Fathom V is available now, priced £95 for 50ml eau de parfum, from beaufortlondon.com

 

Spice up your life with Comme des Garçons’ latest fragrance

COMME BLACK PEPPER 2As much as I love Comme des Garçons fragrances their last few offerings (Wonderwood, Amazingreen, Blue Santal) haven’t been ones I’d personally wear. So it’s exciting (not to mention somewhat of a relief) to discover that their latest one, Blackpepper, most definitely is. As a note, black pepper is somewhat ubiquitous in men’s fragrances these days but it’s normally tucked away so its presence rarely hits you like a vigorous twist of a pepper mill. In Blackpepper, however, you get a big old, nostril-tingling hit, tempered eventually by cedarwood (the other big note in this fragrance) which softens it beautifully. A touch of patchouli and a little tonka bean round the whole thing out, making Blackpepper, not just super-spicy, but surprisingly sexy too. One of my favourite launches of 2016.

Available exclusively at Selfridges until October and nationwide thereafter, priced £83 for 100ml eau de parfum.