Praise the Lord! The Helmut Lang fragrances are back!

HELMUT LANG FRAGRANCESBack in the late Nineties, I, like a lot of people I know became faintly obsessed by Helmut Lang (I still have a few choice pieces of his clothing that I lovingly looked after and can still – sort of – fit into. The elegant simplicity, austere colour palette and sheer wearability of the Austrian designer’s clothes dovetailed beautifully with my own personal aesthetic at the time. And I can still remember the excitement I felt when his first fragrances launched at the turn of the millennium. I wore both the Eau De Cologne (to work most days when I was Deputy Editor of Men’s Health magazine) and the sexier, leathery, suedey Cuiron, which came along a couple of years later, in the evenings. People always commented on them positively and the fragrances themselves were almost universally praised by the press and by perfume lovers. Then, one day in 2005, those two fragrances – along with another scent, Helmut Lang Eau de Parfum – were discontinued and people who still had bottles guarded them jealously while others scoured the internet for remaining stock, often paying ridiculous prices just to secure a bottle of their favourite. But now, a decade later, production has started again. I meant to write about these fragrances just before Christmas but only now have I had the chance to review them properly.

HELMUT LANG PARFUMSo have they changed? To my nose (and I’m having to go by memory here since it’s been a long time since caught a whiff of them) the Cologne – a powdery but musky mix of rosemary, cedarwood, sandalwood, vanilla and patchouli – smells soapier than I remember while Cuiron – still deliciously leathery, woody and peppery –  is as smooth and sexy as ever and seems faithful to the original, even if it may not be quite so punchy. Of the three, however, it’s the soft, musky Eau de Parfum, with its floral heart, sensual base notes and hint of Germolene (yes, really), that stands out for me this time around. It has a wonderfully lazy, nuzzly sensuality to it. The packaging, of course, remains as impossibly chic now as it was back in the Noughties though the bottle design has been standardised for these relaunches (Eau de Parfum had a slightly different bottle back in the day).

I must say, I’ve greeted these returning fragrances like old friends and I’m overjoyed that someone, somewhere finally saw fit to bring them back to life after a decade of being in what amounts to an olfactory coma. Now, if I can only squeeze into that lovely black Helmut Lang shirt I kept everything would be right with the world…

Helmut Lang’s Eau de Cologne, Curion and Eau de Parfum are available from Liberty priced £130 each.

Acqua Di Parma heads to Sardinia for latest Blu Mediterraneo fragrance

PARMATaking an olfactory tour of Acqua di Parma’s Blu Mediterraneo fragrances recently re-inforced for me the notion that fragrance is often the ultimate travel agent – whisking you off to far flung places with the merest hint of sage or whiff of tangerine. The Blu Mediterraneo range now takes in everywhere from Calabria and Capri to Amalfi and Sicily and the latest addition to the range, Ginepro di Sardegna aims, as the name suggests, to capture the essence of the beautiful island of Sardinia. DSC_0762With that in mind, it puts at its core a sparkling gin-like juniper note (the juniper bush flourishes on the island), then adds sage, pepper, pimento, bergamot and cedarwood. The result is a fragrance that’s spicier, warmer and altogether more ‘eveningwear’ than some of the other fragrances in the range and also one that’s a touch more mainstream and commercial. Well worth a sniff, particularly with summer on the horizon.   Available now from House of Fraser

DKNY master the art of fragrance reinvigoration

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It’s a dilemma for every fashion or fragrance house with a successful scent; how do you keep the momentum going on a successful, established signature fragrance? One solution, of course, is the Limited Edition.

Sometimes these are pretty lame but here’s one, courtesy of DKNY definitely worth having. The DKNY Art Men Keith Haring Edition features a carton and bottle (a whole 9.5 inches of it) emblazoned with the legendary New York artist’s iconic figures. There’s not much more that I can say about it other than it looks rather fantastic.

 

 

Disclosure Notice: I received a free sample of this product for review purposes

Prada unveil TV ad for new men’s fragrance Luna Rossa

Fans of Prada fragrances (and I count myself as one of them) are in for treat with the forthcoming  launch of Luna Rossa – a fresh but sensual fragrance built around two of my favourite notes,  lavender and clary sage. As a  taster, here’s a glimpse of the TV ad, directed by by Swedish music video director Adam Berg who’s worked with the likes of Groove Armada, Graham Coxon and Death in Vegas.

The name Luna Rossa, in case you’re wondering, comes from the name of America’s Cup the sailing boat and team that came about thanks to Patrizio Bertelli, CEO of Prada, and acclaimed yacht designer German Frers.

The fragrance itself launches on October 1st and I’ll feature a full review of it here shortly. In the meantime, gather your sea legs and enjoy the vid.

Monsieur Balmain – my favourite summer fragrance this year

I’ve written several pieces about summer fragrances this year but if you had to pin me down to just one it’d have to be Balmain’s Monsieur Balmain. Although it was launched back in 1964 and underwent a slight reformulation during the 90s I only recently re-discovered it and a bottle has been sitting on my desk, ready for a spontaneous re-application ever since.

One of the most citrusy fragrances you’ll ever come across is smells like sparkling candied lemon peel but avoids being one-dimensional with the addition of some deliciously spicy and aromatic notes, which give it longevity too.

As I write this, London is basking in sun after one of the wettest summers ever. Balmain Monsieur is perfect for days like this but, given that it’s essentially sunshine in scent form, it’s ideal for the wet ones too.

Top notes

Mint, Lemon, Bitter orange, Verbena, Bergamot, Petitgrain

Middle notes

Rose, Pepper, Ginger, Nutmeg, Rosemary, Thyme, Moss, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Sage

Base notes

Cedar, Amber notes

Monsieur Balmain is available from selected department storers priced £59 for 100ml eau de toilette.

Undergreen Black: at last a fragrance with balls

The fragrance industry,when it comes to men’s fragrances at least, is in the doldrums: there I’ve said it. Launch after launch produces generic, nondescript scents aimed at followers rather than leaders. Fragrance by focus group rules.  As I’ve said before, it’s all about bland ambition. Increasingly fragrances rely on fancy bottles to disguise the pedestrian juices inside, like someone masking unwashed hair with a dry shampoo. There are no classics in the making anymore. And I seriously worry for the guy who’s 22 today because his current scent squeeze will be dead and gone by the time he’s 30 (if not 25). He’ll certainly be hard pushed to have anything to reminisce about when he’s 40.

So when I come across something at least having a go I cling to it like a life raft. Which is where Undergreen‘s latest fragrance Black comes in. It actually launched exclusively at Harvey Nichols last month and a sample has been sitting on my desk since then, hidden under a pile of press releases.

Anyway, the upshot is that I love it. Key to its allure is a mega-punchy liquorice note which works beautifully with the black pepper top note and trio of woods at its base. It also has that fusty, churchy smell I absolutely love in fragrances.

Ok, so Undergreen is a niche brand able to take risks and a bottle will set you back three times as much as something from the high street (though you do get a 100ml eau de parfum for your investment) but trust me, it’s worth it. Trust me, right now, niche is where it’s at.

Undergreen Black Classic Edition costs £120 for 100ml eau de parfum. Available from Harvey Nichols.