How to buy fragrance online

 

FB FRAGRANCEA few weeks ago, whilst I was on holiday in Ireland, I got talking about fragrance to a guy who lived in the middle of the countryside. He loved it and clearly had quite a collection but he was miles from the nearest department so had to had to buy most of his fragrances online without ever smelling them. The conversation we had got me thinking. How do you go about buying a fragrance blind, without ever smelling it? Where do you begin? And is there anything you can do to maximise your chances of ending up with something you’re going to like? Hopefully, these questions, plus a few more, are answered in the guide to buying fragrances without smelling them I’ve written for Fashionbeans. It’s not meant to be a failsafe plan (there isn’t one) but hopefully it’ll help point you in the right direction. To read the piece just click on the picture above.

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.

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. 

New Aramis fragrance keeps brand firmly in the black

ARAMIS BLACK FRAGRANCEIt’ll come as no surprise to anyone who loves and understands the Aramis brand that the latest fragrance in the portfolio, Aramis Black shares many of Aramis Classic‘s ‘core values’ as a fragrance. But although it might be a thoroughly grown up, multi-dimensional and autumnal fragrance Black is a little edgier, darker and spicier than its older brother: think Dynasty‘s Ben Carrington to Blake Carrington or – for the younger folk – Prince Harry living it up in Vegas rather than Prince William politely honouring foreign dignitaries at a state dinner.

Initially oudy and smoky, Black’s core is based around a lively and very noticeable peppery facet, softened and rounded out by smooth and vanillary tonka bean. The Aramis DNA is still very much present, though, in the shape of a lovely underlying leatheriness and a touch of boozy gentleman’s club but Black is altogether more in-your-face and contemporary. The inky juice is a nice touch, too, giving the whole thing a touch of mystery and menace.

I must say, I was a wee bit disappointed by the last Aramis fragrance, Aramis Adventurer, which was a hyperactive and rather brash fragrance in comparison, but Aramis Black puts things firmly back into, well, the black.

Available now from Boots and nationwide from August.

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?

Dior update Eau Sauvage. But is the new Cologne version any good?

DIOR EAU SAUVAGE COLOGNEThere are some things in life – the first Poltergeist movie and Cadbury’s Creme Eggs amongst them – that really shouldn’t be tampered with, if only because the original is about as close to perfection as can be. Dior’s Eau Sauvage – that classic, much-loved fragrance from the Sixties and one of my own all-time favourites  – is one of them.

In a world where it pays big fragrance brands to remind customers of their prized assets, however, it makes sense to throw out a ‘flanker’ – a reworked version on an existing fragrance – every now and again. Not only does it keep the brand fresh and draw in new customers, it reminds everyone just how good the ‘old’ stuff is too. And therein lies the problem because, inevitably, anyone who loves the original will instantly compare it to the newcomer.

dior 2This brand new Cologne version, created by Dior Perfumer François Demachy, still has the characteristic citrusy vibe Eau Sauvage is famous for but some notes have been emphasised while other’s played down. Hedione – a molecule first used in Eau Sauvage and now scientifically proven to trigger a sexual response in women (see my piece here for more on that) – is still very much at the heart of this version and given its newfound reputation why wouldn’t it be? According to Demachy this updated version of hedione has a slightly more floral twist though. Mandarin has been added, as has grapefruit, and there’s a dash of galbanum to give it a ‘green’ edge and there’s a dollop of the now ubiquitous pink pepper in there too.

The result is an Eau Sauvage that’ll be less familiar to fans of the original than you might think and one that’s thoroughly contemporary in feel. It’s fresh, it’s aromatic, it’s spicy and woody but whereas Eau Sauvage is a thoroughly 3D fragrance this Cologne version is thinner and a bit one-dimensional by comparison. Which is not to say it’s bad because it’s not (and you do have to bear in mind that, because of my age, I’m very much the target market for the original fragrance rather than this more youthful incarnation). It’s just…well, different.

The press release points out – correctly – that when Eau Sauvage burst onto the scene in 1966 it shifted everything in its wake. Will this Cologne version do the same? Well no, but if it helps people rediscover the absolute joy of the original then it’s ‘job done’ in my book.

Ahoy there! There’s a new limited edition of Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male on the horizon!

JPG_LE MALE_2015 Ltd Ed_IMAGE 6BGenerally speaking I’m very suspicious of limited edition versions of popular fragrances (at the end of the day they’re essentially a way of shifting more units) but I’m always rather excited whenever there’s a new edition of Jean Paul Gaultier’s iconic Le Male because they’re always such fun and so well executed. And since a new one emerges every spring I can’t be the only one who enjoys them. This year, the fragrance takes on a pirate theme, with a crimson skull and a pair of crossed sabres emblazoned on a sailor’s jersey. If you’re a collector you’ll no doubt want to add it to your swag but if you’re just a fan of Le Male and are running low this is the perfect time to replenish your stock. And I know it has a pirate theme but do me a favour and pay for it rather than just ‘appropriate’ it, ok?

Available from Feb 2nd while stocks last.

Armani Eau d’Arômes: a fragrance of two halves

armaniJust to prove that I don’t hate all of today’s mass market mens fragrances, here’s a brand new one I don’t mind at all. Giorgio Armani‘s new Eau d’Arômes is a summery concoction of citrus notes of mandarin and bergamot and spicy ones of ginger, cardamon and chilli pepper, rounded out with vetiver, patchouli and an ambergris accord. There’s a slightly bitter edge to it and a distinctly soapy one, too, but it’s a good fragrance for summer if you want something that’s fresh enough for day but sexy enough for evening too. Not necessarily groundbreaking but certainly very wearable.

 

 

Why are there no great men’s fragrances any more?

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I’m always having little moans about the state of the fragrance industry but yesterday Telegraph Men published a slightly bigger one. Given the feedback I’ve had and the fact it ended up as their most shared story of the day it appears to have stuck a cord with people. In truth, there was so much more to say on what’s a complex subject (for one thing, the consumer, seemingly obsessed by newness,  is party to blame for the blandness of many men’s fragrances today) but space simply didn’t allow. Anyway, if you want to read the piece just click on the image below. And let me know if you agree or disagree!

 

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Paul Smith enlists some good sports for new fragrance campaign

Extreme skier (still life)Whilst it’s fashionable these days to spash out a fortune of a famous face to promote your fragrance (see my previous post) there’s something, you know, faintly shallow and lazy about it. So it’s refreshing to see legendary British Designer Sir Paul Smith bringing his new fragrance Extreme Sport to life in a slightly more novel way.

Enlisting the help of photographer and film-maker Sébastien Montaz-Rosset, mountain biker Clément Iribanes and alpinist Fabien Meyer he’s managed to contextualise the fragrance in both a sports setting and capture its fresh and energetic nature at the same time. You can check out the pictures here but my favourite one is above. The colours are amazing, no?

Of course, if they were savvy they’d now run a competition asking fragrance fans to take a sporting selfie with their bottle of Extreme Sport!

Paul Smith Extreme Sport is available from today. For my review click here.