Green People’s new Men’s Collection: good for you, good for our woodland.

GREEN PEOPLE MEN'S COLLECTIONIf you’re one of those people who likes to do their Christmas shopping early or are simply looking for a great birthday/anniversary/thanks-for-cutting-the-hedge gift for someone you might want to have a look at one Green People’s limited edition skincare sets in aid of one my favourite charities, The Woodland Trust. There are four individual collections: Facial Care, Body Care, Hand Care and this handsome-looking Men’s Collection which features two 100ml body washes: a Peppermint & Eucalyptus one that’s perfect for gym bags and an Orange Peel and Clove wash that’s delightfully festive. They’re free of chemical nasties, made with certified organic ingredients and the packaging, featuring a noble stag, is absolutely lovely. What’s more,  30p from each sale of a men’s collection goes to The Woodland Trust to help with its preservation of our beautiful forests. As an animal lover and a nature lover I can’t think of a nicer gift.

The set costs £19.95 and is available from September from www.greenpeople.co.uk and via Ocado.

Dior’s Sauvage: an opportunity missed?

Sauvage-Dior-Fragrance-Art-e1440003132406-800x805Given the size of this launch (it has A-lister Johnny Depp attached to the ad campaign) and the amount of secrecy that surrounded it (it was subject to an exceptionally strict embargo) I was expecting great things from Sauvage – Dior’s latest fragrance and their biggest launch in a decade. I mean, Dior’s portfolio contains fragrances  –  like Eau Sauvage, Fahrenheit and Dior Homme – which pretty much set the standard when it comes to ‘classics’. And I’m sure the hope was that Sauvage would join this illustrious list. But (you sensed there was a ‘but’ coming right?) in truth, it’s not a patch on its predecessors.

Johnny-Depp-Sauvage-Dior-Fragrance-Campaign-800x519Given Dior’s past boldness (Fahrenheit shouldn’t have worked but is amazing and Eau Sauvage was genuinely groundbreaking when it launched in 1966) I very much hoped they’d pull something original, maybe even something left-field, out of the bag for this major launch but alas, Sauvage is just another generic modern men’s fragrance – all citrus, lavender, wood and amber and blah-blah-blah. I’m not saying it’s bad – it’s not – just that it’s safer, more pedestrian and certainly more ‘familiar’ than I would have imagined. Like so many contemporary fragrances it tries terribly hard not to offend or polarise which is a great way to shift units (it worked for Chanel Bleu after all) but not necessarily a great way to create a classic in the same league as, say, Eau Sauvage.

For those of you wondering whether it’s a variant of that particular fragrance, it’s not; it merely trades on the name, presumably hoping for a bit of that classic fragrance’s gold dust to rub off on it. Look, the last thing I wanted to do was savage Sauvage but, hey, it’s just my opinion and there’s still the possibility that Dior’s next big launch will be an absolute stonker.

Dior Sauvage is available nationwide from 2nd September, priced £50 for 60ml eau de toilette. 

Jean Paul Gaultier’s Ultra Male: welcome to the dark side

gaultier ultra maleIt’s hard to believe but Jean Paul Gaultier’s iconic Le Male fragrance is 20 years old this year. In fragrance years that makes it practically a pensioner since so many modern era men’s fragrances are lucky to make it past their third birthday. So popular has it become that a bottle is sold every six seconds and to date over 80 million products have been sold. Like all great contemporary classics, though, it’s an intensely polarising scent, with some people loving it and others finding it sickly, cloying and overpowering. Personally, I’ve always liked it and respected its boldness but have never actually been able to wear it.

And though Gaultier has never been able to replicate its success fragrance-wise (remember Gaultier² or Kokorico?) Le Male, housed in its memorable flacon, has guaranteed him a place in the fragrance hall of fame. Over the years it has spawned numerous “flankers” (i.e. variations thereof) and this anniversary year sees the arrival of yet another, in the shape of Ultra Male. As I pointed out in my review of it for Men’s Health it’s still a gourmand fragrance but not nearly as sweet as the original, opening it up to a whole new audience.

“I worked on this new version by reinterpreting the sensuality of the original fragrance with the codes of our modern era,” says its creator, acclaimed perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. “Gourmand effects, which Mr Gaultier loves so much, interplay with modern woody notes and lavender aromatic notes, the heart of the original fragrance that was composed in 1995.” Unlike most ‘reinterpretations’, however, Ultra Male isn’t afraid to veer away from the original in its construction. In fact, you’d barely recognise it as a sibling of Le Male, which is why it’s worth checking out, even if you’re not a fan of the  original.

Jean-Paul-Gaultier-Ultra-Male-Fragrance-Campaign-Jarrod-ScottTo my nose Ultra Male is deeper, rougher, darker and altogether more muscular than Le Male and more grown up too. It’s spicer, fruitier and woodier and not quite so sexually ambiguous. Le Male, of course, is now famous for the use of sailor imagery in its ad campaigns and if the original is the sailor who waves to his loved ones from the deck of a departing ship, Ultra Male is more like the sailor lurking in a dark back alley, waiting to press-gang you into joining the navy. And I mean that in a good way. So why resist?

Lacoste add a little bottled sunshine to their Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 collection

lacosteWhen it comes to mass market men’s fragrances the ones that form the Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 collection are some of my favourites –  in part because I like the simplicity and honesty of the fragrances. In particular, I’ve always loved the bottles, with their smooth curves, polo shirt fabric-inspired sides and iconic croc logo.

Sunny, cheerful and exuberant, Jaune, is the nearest the Eau de Lacoste L.12.12  collection has come to a bona fide summer fragrance. Fruity and juicy, with the vibe of sharp and tangy cocktail, it’s big on bitter grapefruit and coriander and there’s an apple note in there too.

Like all the fragrances in the collection it’s unashamedly commercial and is unlikely to win any awards for off-the-wall originality but for an accessible fragrance a guy in his 20s is going to wear day-in-day-out it’s certainly as good as anything else in its price range and is great for your summer hols.

Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Jaune is available from April priced £35 for 50ml eau de toilette. 

PS. Fans of Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Vert take note – it’s now been dropped from the range so if you have a bottle use it wisely!