Maybelline hire man as face of their make up…32 years after 17 cosmetics did the same.

smash-hitsIn headline-grabbing news the other day cosmetic giant Maybelline announced that they had hired YouTuber and Instagrammer Manny Gutierrez as the first male face of their cosmetics  – or more specifically one of their mascaras. To the 15-year-old daughter of one of my friends this was a real watershed moment. After all, why shouldn’t men wear make-up and promote make-up? “This is 2017!” she exclaimed, wide-eyed with radicalism. Even Glamour magazine was impressed, describing it online as a “huge deal” and a great way to start the New Year (I can think of better but maybe they don’t get out that much). Honestly, anyone would have thought a man wearing make up for a cosmetics campaign was a ground-breaking, original idea.

To people of my generation, however, a man promoting slap is no big deal at all. I myself am old enough to remember 17 cosmetics’ eye-catching ad campaign back in the mid Eighties, which featured men adorned in lip gloss, eyeshadow and blusher with the slogan “Looks Even Better On a Girl” (see above). It was meant to be wry and cheeky, of course, but actually, the difference between then and now is that it wasn’t just a few business-savvy YouTubers who were wearing make-up: back in 1985 lots of men were –  from the New Romantics who populated the pop charts to, well, ordinary teens like me (being a fan of subtlety I preferred a brown eyeshadow and a black eyeliner). So Manny Gutierrez isn’t the first man to wear make-up  – he isn’t even the first to advertise it –  and he certainly won’t be the last. What is amazing in 2017 is that a man putting on a bit of mascara is still ‘news’ at all.

Beaufort London’s new Discovery Kit has Christmas all wrapped up

beaufortlondondec16-57-cropBeaufort London is, without doubt, one of my favourite boutique fragrance brands. Everything they do is so carefully considered and artfully approached I defy any fragrance lover not to fall in love with them. Each fragrance has a backstory as interesting and complex as the juice itself and they’re delightfully and defiantly unconventional,  existing completely outside fickle fads or trends.

If you fancy trying them out for yourself they’ve just launched a new discovery kit, featuring five 7.5ml travel-sized fragrances from the ‘Come Hell or High Water’ collection which is inspired by Britain’s nautical history. Each fragrance is a corker (my personal fave is Fathom V which completely turns the concept of a ‘marine’ fragrance on its head) and each spray is refillable from a full-sized bottle of fragrance.

beaufortlondondec16-11-cropWhat takes this ‘taster’ collection to another level, though, is the presentation since the sprays come in their own beautiful leather wrap. Again, it’s this kind of attention to detail that marks Beaufort London out from many other niche brands and proves that, as with gift buying, when it comes to creating something truly special, it’s very much the thought that counts.

Beaufort London’s Come Hell Or High Water Discovery Set costs £85 and is available from beaufortlondon.com

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.

 

The Perfume Society launches second ‘Scent of a Gent’ discovery box

the-perfume-societyWhen I was an impoverished student, back before the dawn of time, one of the few ways to get hold of fragrance without blowing a fortnight’s food budget was to coax free samples from (sometimes) generous department store sales assistants. It was a harder task than one might think and my storytelling skills probably originated from the yarns I used to conjure up to get them to part with their goods. I was always ‘looking for gift ideas for my (non-existent) brother’ whose birthday was only ever a week away and I always required a few different samples to compare against each other because he was ‘really fussy when it came to fragrance’. Once I even made out I had a house-bound relative who was looking for a new fragrance and couldn’t get to the shops (I know. God forgive me).  Then, when I got home, I’d study my haul of fragrance phials as if they were diamonds I’d found in the street.

I’ve no idea how difficult it is to get samples today (still tricky I suspect) but thankfully The Perfume Society has made things a whole lot easier with their men’s fragrance boxes – the second of which has just been released. Their ‘Scent of a Gent’ discovery box is the perfect way for the fragrance lover to sample some of the best new releases without having to resort to desperate ruses like mine.

Featuring a mix of big-name commercial fragrances like Davidoff Horizon and Azzaro Wanted and more boutique offerings from the likes of Miller Harris and Shay & Blue, it’s a great way to road-test what’s out there in your own time and without enduring the hard sell. The big plus of this particular discovery box, though, is that you also get a few other enticing little extras, such as a sample of Molton Brown’s Bushukan Body Wash and a Refinery Hydrating Refreshing Eye Gel, which by itself would set you back £31. Result? A better-smelling you and, potentially, a better-looking one too – and no begging required.

The Perfume Society’s ‘Scent of a Gent’ discovery box is available while stocks last from perfumesociety.org priced £19 + P&P (£15 + P&P to Perfume Society VIP subscribers).