Great things come in small packages: just ask Comme des Garçons

comme des garcons pocket collectionIt’s rare that a men’s fragrance can actually be described as being ‘cute’ but I’m really not sure how else to describe this new 25ml version of the classic Comme des Garçons 2Man fragrance which, as you can see, comes in a ‘pebble’ bottle smaller than your average smartphone. Part of Comme’s “Pocket Collection” –  which also features dinky versions of Comme des Garçons2, Amazing Green and Wonderwood –  it’s perfect for gym bags, travel and for office drawers. Men tend to be pretty complacent when it comes to topping up their eau de toilette during the day but with these beauties there’s absolutely no excuse for a flagging fragrance. And like I said they’re as a cute as a button. Or a pebble, as the case may be.

For stockists call 0207 494 6220

Jean Paul Gaultier talks fragrance

I was lucky enough to attend a special Fragrance Symposium at The Barbican centre recently in which perfumer Francis Kurkdjian – the man behind Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male  – and the famous fashion designer himself discussed all things fragrance. An interesting discussion it revealed that the enfant terrible has lost none of this cheeky charm and give a fascinating insight into the creation of his fragrances. Below is a video of the event, so if you get a spare few minutes have a watch. Oh, and make sure you check out the wonderful exhibition, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier From the Sidewalk to the Catwalkof which the symposium was a part.

Acqua Di Parma heads to Sardinia for latest Blu Mediterraneo fragrance

PARMATaking an olfactory tour of Acqua di Parma’s Blu Mediterraneo fragrances recently re-inforced for me the notion that fragrance is often the ultimate travel agent – whisking you off to far flung places with the merest hint of sage or whiff of tangerine. The Blu Mediterraneo range now takes in everywhere from Calabria and Capri to Amalfi and Sicily and the latest addition to the range, Ginepro di Sardegna aims, as the name suggests, to capture the essence of the beautiful island of Sardinia. DSC_0762With that in mind, it puts at its core a sparkling gin-like juniper note (the juniper bush flourishes on the island), then adds sage, pepper, pimento, bergamot and cedarwood. The result is a fragrance that’s spicier, warmer and altogether more ‘eveningwear’ than some of the other fragrances in the range and also one that’s a touch more mainstream and commercial. Well worth a sniff, particularly with summer on the horizon.   Available now from House of Fraser

David Gandy on good grooming…. and what he envies about other men.

DAVID GANDYApart from David Beckham I can’t think of another Brit that looks as well groomed as model David Gandy. Surprisingly, though, the man himself is remarkably low maintenance, something I discovered when I played a little word association game with him earlier today. Reassuringly, I also discovered that even although he’s as near-perfect a masculine specimen as you’ll ever find, even he’s not 100% there. In fact, there’s one physical attribute many men take for granted that he’s rather jealous of…

Dolce&Gabbana Ligh BlueGG: Okay David. Let’s play a little game around the subject of male grooming. I’ll give you a word and you tell me what thoughts pop into your mind.

DG: “Ok, I’ll give it a go!”

GG: “Fragrance”

DG:  “Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue of course. The fact is, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that iconic ad with the white trunks! It’s where it all started for me and is what led me to where I am today.”

GG: “Hair”

DG: “Yes! Have some! Actually my hair has a life of its own. It’s so thick and curly it can be a real nightmare.  Luckily I have a guy called Larry King who looks after it for me. Everyone in America laughs when I say Larry King does my hair. I have to explain to them, no, not that Larry King!”

GG: “Shaving”

“I don’t. Well, I don’t wet shave anyway. Haven’t for years. I just maintain a little bit of stubble with a beard trimmer.”

DavidGandyGG: “Manscaping”

DG: “Hey! That’s my word! It’s one of my favourites. You’ve got to get a bit of manscaping in there I think. Absolutely!” (note David’s always-tidy trunkline).

GG: “Skincare”

DG: “Organic Rosehip Oil. I mentioned this a while back in an interview and everyone’s gone wild about it ever since. A make-up artist introduced me to it and it’s absolutely fantasic for hydrating skin – especially if you’ve been on a long flight.”

GG: “Fingernails”

DG: “Never polish them! I’m all for male grooming – and it’s important to keep your fingernails – and toenails – tidy, but highly polished fingernails on men? Noooooo.”

GG: “Beards”

DG: “Jealous. You know, I really wish I could grow a beard but I can’t. I have a friend who has a great one but if I try to grow one it’s just patchy – like a badly maintained lawn! I wish there was a Miracle-Gro for beards!”

GG: “Handsome”

DG: “Paul Newman”

GG: “Must-have”

DG: “Fragrance. I think it’s essential to find something you love and that suits your personality. And something women find attractive obviously!”

David Gandy also writes for Telegraph Men 

Magazines: the new Woolworths?

Pile of magazinesIn the last few weeks I’ve found myself having numerous (nay, endless) conversations with colleagues about the magazine industry. Titles, even those that only a year ago were doing pretty well have seen devastating plunges in circulation which, let’s call a spade a spade here, means their readers are actively rejecting them.

As a former editor myself, I sympathise hugely with the people who helm today’s magazines. In my day, the internet was still its infancy, the market was still bouyant and the hot topic in the industry wasn’t survival but whether you should really stoop to sticking sunglasses on your cover to boost sales.

Much is made, of course, of how the internet has utterly decimated the industry (to a degree it has but then, did no-one in the big publishing houses see that coming?) but let’s not make out print media itself is blameless here. Whilst pioneering and offering an entirely different business model to conventional magazines and newspapers free titles like Shortlist and Stylist (and then the Evening Standard) didn’t just shake up the market, they mortally wounded it in the process.

Don’t get me wrong, all three are excellent publications but, to me, the fact that they are handed out like club flyers devalues the idea that journalism and photography have an intrinsic value. After all, if there were people standing outside your local train station handing out free household cleaner every week would you ever consider paying for it? Unless I wanted really good household cleaner I know wouldn’t.

So how do magazines survive? In truth, I don’t have the answers and I share the pain of those who are expected to come up with them – especially as they’re increasingly expected to offer more bang for a diminishing buck (and with fewer staff too).  I suspect the glossies will hang on in there because they’re still able to do what most websites, blogs and free publications can’t – they can provide luxurious, decadent content, spread over numerous pages. Vogue can still do the indulgent 12-page fashion shoot in Machu Picchu with three world-class supermodels and Men’s Health can still do a six page in depth-feature about men and mental health. At some point we’ll get sick of the two-paragraph stories magazines are so fond of feeding us these days and will demand the read again.

Or maybe the industry survives by stealing some tactics from the music industry, with which is largely comparable. In the same way the music industry has responded to falling sales and pirating by turning music in to an artefact –  producing high value special editions, boxed sets and collector’s sets – I can see some magazines producing high-price issues and limited editions (Vogue logo in real gold anyone? Limited edition Lady Gaga cover signed by…Lady Gaga?). Certainly more will have to do digital (I subscribe to a couple of digital editions of popular magazines so can’t see why people won’t cough up if the content and – crucially – the interactivity is there). Others will have to think out of the box – not replicating what the internet can offer (that USP is taken) but delivering what it cannot.

As for the weekly gossip titles I honestly don’t know what the future holds for them. I loathe the Daily Mail‘s website but as much for its genius as what it stands for. After all, if a reader wants to see what shoes Helen Flanagan is ‘walking out in/showing off’ on any given Tuesday why would they wait until the following week to find out when the Daily Mail is scrutinising her every move on an almost hourly basis?

There are those that advocate a charity-like approach to the salvation of the magazine industry, imploring us to ‘use ’em or lose ’em’. I sympathise with the sentiment but that’s an awful lot like saying we should have shopped in Woolworths just to save it from closure. Yes it was a dearly-loved institution but it closed because it couldn’t keep up with its customers’ changing needs and, as a result, was fundamentally…rubbish.

If magazines are to survive they have to earn our love again. Though I work mainly in the digital arena these days I spent half of my working life in magazines and have a real and genuine affection for the format. And I really hope they make it – or at least that the deserving ones do –  as much as anything because I don’t want to see all those talented journalists, subs and designers out of jobs, not to mention all the other creatives who rely on their existence. But at the end of the day, there might well be a case for doing the decent thing and putting some titles out of their misery. When your number’s up, your number’s up – especially when that number’s down 40% year-on-year.