Alpha Male? Then maybe you’ll like Shay & Blue’s Oud Alif

oud alfBritish perfumery is going from strength to strength at the moment, not least because of the ability of brands like Shay & Blue to create interesting, elegant and refined fragrances. I was a fan of their delicious Blood Oranges the minute I got a whiff of it and am told it’s now become a firm favourite with male customers.

Their latest offering, Oud Alif, is at the other end of the olfactory spectrum but is no less impressive. Alif, in case you don’t know, is Arabic for ‘Alpha’ so it’s an oud that has a lot to live up to but it doesn’t disappoint. It’s deliciously warm and smoky but creamy, chocolatey and leathery at the same time and there’s a dash of earthy patchouli in there too just to round things off. All in all the perfect fragrance for Autumn/Winter.

Available from Shay & Blue from the beginning of November priced £85 for 100ml Fragrance Concentrée

Reiss triumph with new fragrance duo

BLACK_OUDH4When I first heard that Reiss were launching two signature fragrances I must admit I was pretty non-plussed. When I heard that award-winning perfumer Azzi Glasser was creating them, though, I suddenly sat up and took notice. I love Azzi – one of the most personable, down-to-earth people in the fragrance industry – and I love what she does with her creations. High street or high fashion they’re always wearable without ever being boring, there’s a meticulous attention to detail and she always throws in a surprise or two.

Two years in the making the new fragrances, Black Oudh For Men and Grey Flower For Women launch next month in Reiss stores nationwide. The men’s fragrance – dark, warm and intense, with laurel leaf, black oudh, black musk and amber – is superb in a woody, smoky, autumnal night kind of way but Grey Flower is even better.

GREY_FLOWER4Though technically aimed at women, this latter fragrance is just as deep and rich and earthy as Black Oudh. A mix of pimento berry, patchouli, frankincense, amber and sequoia wood, it’s actually one of the best fragrances I’ve smelt all year.

Intoxicating, with a faintly medicinal, warm edge it’s fantastically unconventional for a women’s fragrance (Glasser could have made something predictably floral but didn’t) and works brilliantly for men so I suspect you’ll be spoilt for choice when you try them at the counter.

To their absolute credit, Reiss didn’t take the easy option with these fragrances.  They could have gone with something bland, focus-groupey and predictable but instead they’ve gone out on a limb with fragrances that are bold, punchy and uncompromising. What’s more, both scents have that elusive “neck nuzzle” quality. “We wanted to create something with a bespoke, artisan and luxurious in feel,” says Glasser.  “David (Reiss, founder and MD of the company) wanted people to be shocked and surprised by the fragrances. He wanted something sexy but in the Reiss style and with the Reiss attention to detail.” Thanks to Glasser’s artistry, that’s exactly what he got.

Reiss Black Oudh For Men and Reiss Grey Flower For Women cost £49 for 50ml eau de parfum. Available from September. For more info go to www.reiss.com

Tom Ford Sahara Noir: worth crossing a desert for

TOM FORD SAHARA NOIRLike Kate Bush albums and really good soufflés Tom Ford fragrances are almost always worth the wait.  His latest fragrance, Sahara Noir, is absolutely no exception and I fell in love with it the moment I got a preview of it earlier today. It may have a raft of supporting notes like bitter orange, Egyptian jasmine, labdnam, beeswax, agarwood and cedar but this fragrance is all about one of my favourite ingredients – frankincense. So much so, in fact, that I should really write FRANKINCENSE when I tell you this. And add a couple of exclamations marks just to make the point.  But anyway, you get the picture.

tom-ford-sahara-noirThough aimed at women (see the advertising to the right) it’s also a fragrance perfect for men who like big, ballsy statement scents with warmth, depth and tenacious longevity. Not everyone will love it – it’s not a “focus group fragrance” after all – but if you’re into luxury, opulence and, well, the rich, evocative smell of frankincense, I strongly suggest you give it a try.

Tom Ford Sahara Noir is available nationwide from May priced £100 for 50ml EDP.