Czech & Speake get wood

CEDARNow let me get this out of the way first: I love Czech & Speake. When I was a teenager back in the Eighties, I eyed their products (and especially their No.88 fragrance) with a desire that bordered on unrestrained lust. I still adore No.88 and can heartily recommend it if you like woody, floral, barbershoppy fragrances that pack a punch and have serious longevity on the skin.

But anyway, enough about that fragrance and on to their latest one, Spanish Cedar. Warm, woody, fruity, spicy and smoky it’s a great evening fragrance but, in truth, not nearly as distinctive as some other C&S fragrances and certainly nowhere near as interesting as No.88. To me the cedar is slightly lost amongst the sweetness of the plum and blackberry notes and its longevity could be better but if you like your scents warm and spicy it’s certainly worth investigating.

Invictus triumphs at 2014’s fragrance ‘Oscars’

Paco-Rabanne-InvictusLast night I had the privilege of attending the annual Fragrance Foundation Awards, widely regarded to be the Oscars of the fragrance world. In terms of men’s fragrance the night definitely belonged to Paco Rabanne’s Invictus which scooped, not one, but two awards – for Best New Men’s Fragrance and also the Men’s Health Reader’s Choice Award.

Paco Rabanne 1 Million IntenseIn fact, the corks must be popping all over the place at Paco HQ this morning since they picked up a third gong for 1 Million Intense which won the People’s Choice For Men Award. Without doubt Paco is the brand to catch at the moment when it comes to men’s fragrance. Other companies jealously eye up the success of their fragrances in the way a cat eyes up a mouse and the coherence of the Invictus marketing campaign was stunning, with everything from the eye-catching bottle, witty adverts, choice of face and Invictus Award initiative all coming together like one giant, unstoppable commercial glacier, pushing aside everything else in its path. Impressive.

 

Karl Lagerfeld Pour Homme is here. But is it worth the wait?

Karl_fragrance_Men_Double pageSubject to an embargo stricter than anything the Russian military might impose to conceal work on a new super weapon, the press were finally given permission to talk about the new Lagerfeld fragrance, Karl Lagerfeld Pour Homme, this week.

Karl_Men_BottleGiven all the hoo-hah, you might think that the Francis Rossi of fashion had come up with something truly earth-shattering. Alas, I find Pour Homme frustratingly pedestrian, smelling no different from about 75% of the fragrances that land on my desk each year. There’s lavender in there, there’s apple, there’s mandarin, there’s amber and there’s a faint whiff of a focus group. It’s fresh, it’s powdery it’s woody, but ultimately it’s all a little bit…’so what’ Karl?

This, to me, is a terrible shame because few designers on the planet have the power and authority Lagerfeld has. He’s one of the few people with the muscle to shake up the fragrance market with something edgy, dynamic and forward-thiking. But no. Not this time at least.

6130If you want to smell a truly great Karl Lagerfeld fragrance, however, skip this bland concoction and root out Lagerfeld Classic instead. Launched back in 1978 and one of my favourite fragrances of all time, it’s a startlingly sweet, sensual, long-lasting fragrance that fuses amber, woods and vanilla – with a hint of tobacco – to create a fragrance so intoxicating that a female friend of mine says she can’t smell it without it making her nipples hard. Which is not something you can say of Pour Homme. Even if you chilled it.

Paul Smith enters the sports arena with Extreme Sport

SPORT5After the bravery of Paul Smith’s last fragrance launch Portrait For Men – a quirky fragrance built around a fresh green tea note – the iconic British designer’s latest fragrance, Extreme Sport, plays it safe (and keeps things a little more commercial) with a juice built around a raft of notes familiar to contemporary men’s fragrances.

SPORT2As is the case with many sport fragrances that don’t go down the super-fresh route it aims – a bit like Issey Miyake’s L’eau D’issey Pour Homme Sport –  to pack a mighty old punch instead. Citrusy, woody and spicy it’s a big, ballsy number that’s vibrant and energetic enough for daytime but warm and spicy enough to be worn for a night out too. If you’re a fan of Paul Smith Extreme – his most successful men’s fragrance – you’ll certainly like this version as it takes most of its cues (visual and olfactory) from that fragrance.

SPORT3What it has over many other sport fragrances (Miyake’s included) is a genuine reason for being. Whereas you’d struggle long and hard to find an authentic connection between Miyake and sport, Paul Smith’s is genuine and well known. Not only did he start out wanting to be a champion cyclist (until an accident made him change dreams) he’s still very much involved in sport, especially cycling, designing jerseys for the Giro d’Italia and lending his signature style to a range of sportswear, sporting equipment and sports watches (one of which is featured on the box and bottle). For sure, that little touch of authenticity isn’t mentioned on the list of notes but it’s definitely tucked away at the heart of the fragrance – just spray and you’ll find it.

Notes:

Top: Orange Essence, Bergamot, Moroccan Nana Mint

Middle: Egyptian Geranium, Lavender, Madagascan Black Pepper

Base: Incense, Cedarwood, Tonka bean.

Paul Smith Extreme Sport launches exclusively in Boots on 2nd April and will be available elsewhere a month later. 

Bentley to launch Bentley For Men Azure

Bentley Azure 1The first two fragrances from luxury British car manufacturer Bentley, released in 2013, were some of my favourite fragrances of last year (for proof of that see this) but whilst those fragrances were warm and heady, this new release, called Azure, is fresh and sparkling. Combining Mediterranean herbs with violet leaves (the new must-have note in men’s fragrances) and a touch of tea it’s deliciously light and crisp making it the perfect fragrance for summer holidays or for work, when you don’t want to smell like a try-hard lothario. The bottle alone, with its beautiful curves and diamond cut lid is a thing of absolute beauty.

Available from Harrods in March and nationwide from April.

Will Jay Z’s new men’s fragrance strike gold?

JAY Z GOLDI honestly don’t know what happens when celebrities dabble in fragrances. It’s as if their sense of reason, good taste and self-respect leaves the building faster than they leave it after a gig or PA. I sometimes suspect they only actually get a whiff of what’s done in their name for a split second between more important things like negotiating a deal to play a private gig in Qatar and opening a bag of fashion freebies.

jay-z-goldHaving said that, when I first heard that Jay Z was to release a men’s fragrance I was actually rather excited. After all, Mr Carter strikes me as a guy of considerable taste, sophistication and integrity.

So quite why he should put his name to Gold Jay Z I have no idea. It’s not that this ‘white fougère’ is horrible per se (though it does rather catch in the back of the throat) it’s that it’s so safe, pedestrian and well…generally meh.

Generic, with a sweet, slightly powdery edge, it has that nose-tingling acrid quality prevalent in so many contemporary men’s fragrances and, to my hooter anyway, smells like a curious mix of fairy cakes and stale tobacco. In its defence it’s an extremely commercial scent by the standards of the day and I quite like the cap.

All in all, I’d put it on a par with the Bond 007 fragrance in terms of sophistication, though if you’re familiar with this blog you’ll know that this is damning, not so much with faint praise, but with no praise at all. But then, what do I know? That Bond fragrance flew out of the shops faster than sh*t off a shovel.

The notes

Top Yellow ginger, white cardamon, grapefruit, blueberry

Middle Violet leaf, cypress, lavender, vetiver, pink pepper

Base Golden amber, patchouli, teak, bourbon vanilla

Gold Jay Z debuts in Superdrug on 12 February priced £25 for 30ml eau de toilette spray.