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.

Acqua di Parma launch Colonia Club

acquaI think I must have rather annoyed the lovely Acqua Di Parma people at the launch of the company’s latest fragrance Colonia Club the other day by constantly referring to it as a sport fragrance – something they fervently denied each time I mentioned it. I’m not sure why, though, because that’s basically what it is. Oh sure, the inspiration might be that most elegant and refined of activities – dressage – but in character it’s definitely a sport fragrance in character, featuring, as it does, citrus notes like lemon and mandarin alongside the sport scent favourite, mint. Conceptually, the whole thing – including the superb green bottle – fits into the existing Acqua Di Parma portfolio beautifully, filling a gap with something muscular and energetic and, thanks to the addition of galbanum – a note variously described as smelling like cut grass, pea pods or pine needles – something ‘green’ smelling too.

colonia_club_01Of all the Acqua Di Parma fragrances this is the most youthfully commercial too. And by that I mean it does smell a lot like a dozen other men’s fragrances on the market. Now, that can be taken one of two ways: as a bad thing or a good thing. It’s certainly a positive if the objective is to attract a slightly younger customer whose main frame of reference, fragrance-wise, are big-selling fragrances from famous fashion brands like Dolce & Gabbana. In truth, it’s not my favourite Acqua Di Parma offering (there are so many good ones it does have rather stiff competition!) but if you’re looking for something that’s punchy and has a bit of energy to it and which isn’t too polarising a fragrance you might want to give it, you know…a sporting chance.

Available now from John Lewis

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.

Paco Rabanne lighten up with 1 Million Cologne

PACO RABANNE_ 1 MILLION COLOGNE_ PACKSHOTS_2Love it or loathe it Paco Rabanne’s 1 Million is a fragrance phenomenon. It’s a heady cocktail, though, so if it’s a little bit too ‘in-your-face’ for you maybe you should check out 1 Million Cologne. Sharper and fresher than its best-selling brother it has a slightly bitter, cocktail feel (the result of mandarin orange and a fresh marine accord) which makes it a much better option for summer. It’s spikier and not quite as rounded and creamy as the original 1 Million fragrance but is just as ferociously commercial and has lost non of its tenacity – when I tested it out on my skin I could still smell it 12 hours later.

Paco Rabanne 1 Million Cologne is available now. 

Big is beautiful. Well, it is when it’s ‘Givenchy big’.

GIVENCHY OVERSIZEIf you’re a fan of Givenchy Xeryus Rouge, Play Intense or Pi then smash open your piggy bank because April sees the launch of ‘Oversize’ editions of all three classic fragrances. Shown here against the 50ml version of Givenchy’s brand new fragrance Gentlemen Only Casual Chic, you can see just how big these oversized bottles are. Released as 150ml versions, priced £75, they’re the perfect way to ensure you never run out of your favourite fragrance.

Well, did you evah? It’s Iggy & Debbie for Paco Rabanne

IGGY POP DEBBIE HARRYI’m not much of a fan of celebrity endorsements when it comes to fragrance – except, that is, when the celebrities in question just happen to be people I adore. Which is why I absolutely love Iggy Pop and Debbie Harry getting together to front the new, limited edition “Be a Legend” versions of Paco Rabanne’s perennially popular Black XS. It’s a marriage made in rock ‘n’ roll heaven, they both look fantastic and hey, isn’t it nice to see a couple of legendary rockers-of-a-certain-age for once, rather than some vacuous up-and-coming actor with his heavage hanging out and a woman clinging to his arm like she’s a Titanic survivor clinging to a piece of stray wood? I certainly think so.

Paco Rabanne Black XS Be A Legend Debbie Harry and Be A Legend Iggy Pop are available from Feb 16th. 

Acqua di Parma expand Collezione Barbiere range

New Acqua di Parma Collezione Barbiere - Face SerumI love Acqua di Parma‘s premium Collezione Barbiere shaving and skincare range and this Spring the family of products gets a little bigger thanks to the addition of a brand new Shaving Gel (featuring hyaluronic acid to keep skin hydrated during your shave and pomegranate oil to soothe irritation) and a Revializing Face Serum (above) which aims to give skin a potent anti-oxidant boost, leaving it revitalised and fortified against the ageing process. Serums are increasingly becoming part of men’s grooming routines and this one is well worthy having in your grooming arsenal.

Both products will be available from March.