Perfume: A Century of Scents

LIZZIE OSTROMI love books. It’s why I ended up doing an English Literature degree way back in the Stone Age. Problem is, I don’t get nearly as much time as I’d like to actually read them – which explains this embarrassingly tardy review of Lizzie Ostrom’s new book, Perfume: A Century of Scents.  Lizzie, aka Odette Toilette, is one of the perfume industry’s top notes, fizzing with a passion for (and a knowledge of) perfume that’s made her an established voice in the fragrance firmament. Her true talent, however, is in bringing the subject of fragrance alive with character, interesting stories and a writing style that’s knowledgable but fun and accessible too.

The book itself – clearly a labour of love – is a pacy, hugely readable walk through all the key fragrances of the last hundred years or so, starting in 1900 and ending at the end of the Nineties, with a final chapter looking at where fragrance is now and where it might be heading. The bulk of it is about female fragrances (what are traditionally classed as female fragrances, anyway, since perfume is pretty much gender fluid) but there’s plenty of discussion about men’s fragrances  too – from classics like Old Spice and Eau Sauvage to Guerlain’s Vetiver and Joop! Homme.

Unlike the bulk of books written about perfume  – and I’ve read a lot  – it’s delightfully unstuffy and unpretentious (she describes Tabac, one of my personal favourites,  as being “the string vest of aftershaves” for example), making it as good a read for people with just a passing interest in fragrance as it is for perfumistas or  those who write about fragrance for a living. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable read and a fantastic gift for Christmas too. Recommended.

Perfume A Century of Scents by Lizzie Ostrom is available now from odettetoilette.com

Missed out on the Mr Porter Grooming Kit?

mr porterGrooming Boxes – specially curated sets of grooming products that give a chance to sample brands at a discount price – are, at the best of times, somewhat hit and miss. Trust Mr Porter to come up with probably the best one that’s appeared though. It’s luxurious Grooming Kit features a raft of full-sized and sample-sized products including brands like Escentric Molecules, Penhaligon’s, REN, Perricone MD and some of my personal favorites like Czech & Speake and Malin + Goetz. Beautifully edited and costing £50 it’s also that rarest of things  –  a true bargain (the Escentric Molecules Body Wash and Bamford Grooming Department’s Exfoliating Face Wash alone cost more than that). Which may explain why the kit sold out within a week of its launch at the end of October. I am reliably informed, however, that new stock will be available next week so keep an eye out for it here!

Isn’t it time your face got FIT?

fir skincare manI’m exceptionally lucky in my job as a grooming writer in that I get try out virtually every skincare product that hits the market. What this privilege provides me with is an excellent overview of what’s hot (and what’s not) and what’s worth spending your money on. And if there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the years it’s that, sometimes, it’s worth checking out lesser known premium skincare brands rather than just opting for the usual department store names. One such brand is FIT Skincare for Men.

Formulated and manufactured here in the UK (always a big bonus in my book) and offering “a workout for your skin” FIT offer a ten-piece, performance-driven grooming range that includes everything a man needs to keep his hair, face and body looking, as the name aptly suggests, ‘fit’.

FIT_30ml_Moisturiser_Bottle_SQUARE_72dpi_V1The hero product for me is the FIT Moisturising Ultra Serum. A lightweight, rapidly-absorbed and non-greasy serum this high-tech skin saviour features a raft of natural active ingredients which penetrate the skin to deliver superior skincare.

swatchAmino acids tone skin and stimulate collagen production; antioxidants offer protection from harmful free radicals and environmental damage; botanical extracts reduce irritation and minimise fine lines, whilst caffeine reduces puffiness. The serum also features Hyaluronic Acid – an ingredient often lauded by grooming writers like myself because of its ability to keep skin soft, supple and hydrated. Finally, FIT’s very own OXY-FIT-10 oxygen delivery system helps power skin cell regeneration – something that’s handy, whatever your age.

The result is the ultimate multi-functional skincare product for men – one that hydrates, repairs, protects and reduces irritation. Easily slotted into you existing grooming routine you simply apply sparingly to the face after cleansing, morning and night. I’ve been using it for three weeks now and must say my skin, which often suffers from random dry patches, feels great. What’s more, unlike some products, it only has the merest hint of fragrance (in this case a refreshing hint of ginger).

FIT SKINCARE SERUMA couple of other products from the range worth checking out are the cleverly named FIT EYEDRATE+, an energizing and refreshing eye serum which tackles those unwanted signs of fatigue like puffiness and dark circles, and FIT’s Pec & Ab Sculpt which has received a mention in Shortlist’s prestigious Men’s Grooming Awards. With products as targeted and results-driven as these, I suspect that nod of recognition  may not be the last.

FIT Moisturising Ultra Serum is available from fitkincare.co.uk priced £50 for 30ml. To check out the full range click here.

 

A FIT Skincare/Grooming Guru Sponsored Post

How to be well “Gruhmed”

GRUHMEAs a consumer it’s often all too easy to go for the most obvious choice when it comes to fragrance, especially when the big fashion houses and cosmetic companies throw so much money at celebrity endorsement and in-your-face advertising. However, sometimes it’s worth looking a bit further afield for an interesting eau de toilette. This one, by British brand Gruhume being a good example.

Delightfully fresh, crisp and spicy –  with lemon, bergamot, lavender, juniper berry, black peppercorns, patchouli and petitgrain – it’s as good as any of the fragrances you’ll find in your local department store and considerably better than many of them. Plus, in buying a bottle you’re supporting British entrepreneurialism at its very best. Worth investigating.

Gruhme For Him No 14 is a available from gruhme.co.uk priced £45 for 100ml eau de toilette.

Paul Smith Essential puts affordability at its heart

paul smith essentialThe history of Paul Smith fragrances is a bit of a chequered one and I must confess, I have a nasty habit of liking the less succesful ones like Story (a fragrance that was ahead of its time in terms of its bookish, geek chic imagery) and Portrait which, alas, was more of a critical success than a commercial one.

PAUL-01Coming two years after Portrait and a year after Extreme Sport, Essential is an altogether safer fragrance that leaves nothing to chance by covering all the commercial bases: it’s woody, it’s spicy and it’s aromatic, making it familiar, inoffensive and versatile. Slightly reminiscent of Gucci’s Guilty Pour Homme, with which it shares several key notes, it’s probably not going to set the world alight in terms of originality, but with its low price point (under £30 for 50ml) and wearability I suspect it will do pretty well commercially.

Paul Smith Essential is available now from boots.com

Acqua di Parma release “Tuxedo” edition of Colonia Essenza

New Acqua di Parma Colonia Essenza Tuxedo  Edition 2015 (1)Good news for fans of Acqua di Parma’s Colonia Essenza: October sees the release of a special “Tuxedo” edition of the fragrance. Inspired by black tie (the bottle reflects the contrast between a tux’s matt fabric and its satin lapels) the timeless Acqua di Parma bottle gets a gentlemanly make-over.  I know it’s a bit shallow to judge a fragrance by its bottle but, well, it is lovely. As is the fragrance. Great for collectors and Essenza fans it’ll be available exclusively from Selfridges from October 1st 2015, priced at £140.