Versace’s Dylan Blue delivers a knockout blow to decent fragrance advertising

versace (1)Creating the story and campaign for a new fragrance is never easy. Having helped create a few of them myself in the past I know this all too well. When they succeed they do so because of clarity of thought and of message and because they tap into the current zeitgeist. So how well the new Versace fragrance Dylan Blue campaign will fare remains to be seen because messages there are aplenty. And none of them are all that great.

Looking at the campaign as a whole (one lovingly shot by Bruce Weber, in a masturbatory style that’s steadfastly Nineties) it’s a bag of contradictions: on one hand we have the ‘modernity’ of a same-sex kiss (the inclusion of which we’re  either supposed to shocked by or grateful for, I’m not sure which) and on the other some woefully archaic views about women (“As dad always used to say… you can’t live with women and you can’t live without them”). There are a couple of corkers about men too, including the cringeworthy “I learned at a young age not to show any weakness”. The video meanwhile lacks but one thing: the kitchen sink. It’s hetero yet homo; violent yet tender; old-fashioned yet throughly modern. It has girls, it has boys. It has boxers, it has bikes. It has… oh well, you get the picture.

Personally, I find much of this mind-numbingly naff and I’m at a loss as to why a campaign for a fragrance ever needs to show a woman kicking a man down a flight of stairs or feels the need to use the words “she doesn’t seem to know I exist except when she’s kicking me in the head”. But just in case this woman –  called Gigi – has men quaking in their boots/slingbacks the campaign takes pains to reassure them she has her limitations. “She can out kick-box any of the smaller guys,” says the blurb (the bigger ones clearly being too much of a challenge of her).  Billie Jean King would not be pleased.

To me, the apparent “kiss and make up” theme of the campaign also has uncomfortable associations with the destructive hit me/kiss me cycle in much domestic violence (the boxer kisses his opponent before delivering a knock out blow and Gigi can kiss as good as she can kick). Am I’m being over sensitive? A bit too PC for my own good? Perhaps, but  following on the heels of the appalling marketing of Azzaro Wanted I’m seriously beginning to wonder where fragrance advertising is heading right now. “Dylan Blue is the essence of the Versace Man today,” says Donatella Versace. Well, if that’s the man of today I’m truly fearful about what the one tomorrow will look like if he buys into this particular kind of advertising.

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Byredo Toile – a different way to wear fragrance

BYREDO Toile textile perfumeThere are several places a man should never spray a fragrance. Apart from one I’m far too polite to mention here, directly onto his clothing is one of them. The reason for this is that some fragrance ingredients and colourants can damage or stain fabric – especially delicate fabric. And yet, there are times we’ve all wanted to spray out clothes rather than our skin – perhaps because we wanted to freshen them up or because we didn’t want skin itself to be overpoweringly perfumed.

Cult fragrance brand Byredo have recognised this in their latest fragrance – the appropriately named Toile. A genderless ‘textile perfume’ it’s been designed to be safe to spray on clothes and imparts a clean, fresh, slightly metallic fragrance that’s faintly reminiscent of sun-dried sheets, hairspray and static electricity. It’s created in the best tradition of anti-perfumes like Comme de Garcon’s Odeur 53 and Odeur 71 and well worth checking out if you’re looking, not only for a fragrance that’s slightly ‘different’, but also a different way to wear fragrance too.

Byredo’s Toile Textile Perfume is available from Mr. Porter and byredo.com priced £42 for 75ml.

Azzaro Wanted – seriously, what were they thinking?

Azzaro Wanted-1Oh deary, deary me. Let’s talk about Azzaro’s new Wanted fragrance for a moment shall we? The one in the bottle that looks like a fully-loaded gun chamber. Now, the six-shooter bottle design for this fragrance, regardless of bad timing in light of the tragic events in Orlando, is a quite spectacular exercise in clichéd, one-dimensional and outdated hyper-mascuine thinking. I used to think that Davidoff’s The Game, with its casino chip flacon, was terminally naff but this takes things to a whole new level – and a subterranean one at that. Presumably the thinking behind it is that a. men absolutely love guns and b. guns are sexy and street and therefore customers will think the fragrance is masculine and, like, really, really cool.

You can just see the design meeting now: “Right guys, we need an eye-catching bottle – something like Paco Rabanne’s Invictus or that Gaultier one with the massive bulge. What screams ‘men’ then? How about a football? Or a motorbike? Or a big, clunking fist? Oh, no, Diesel did the fist. Wait a minute. I know – how about a gun? What’s more masculine than a gun? It’s cowboy; it’s gangsta; it’s Bond; it’s NRA and man-on-a-rampage. But mostly it’s Bond. Especially if we make it sleek, shiny and gold. What better vessel for our killer fragrance than a killer bottle?”

Well, I’m afraid Azzaro have shot themselves in the foot here (sorry) and I suspect they know this too since the bottle description on their website is a masterclass in obscurification. Avoiding the ‘G’ word altogether and with not a passing mention of bullets the bottle is instead “elegant and precious, with a stunning rugged, mechanical look” (it’s a gun folks) and “a  symbol of freedom and virility” (still a gun). Most bizarrely, it’s also “an embodiment of extreme masculinity tinged with the nostalgia of childhood”. Now, unless your dad was the Son of Sam I’m not entirely sure what childhood nostalgia it’s referring to here but no matter, the bottom line is that, in 2016, Azzaro’s  firearm-inspired Wanted is, to put it bluntly, anything but.

Aveda Men opens new pop-up Grooming Station in London’s Fitzrovia

AVEDA___A3970-2Estée Lauder have been doing some rather clever things with their men’s brands of late. Where once they were fiercely competitive with one another, brands like Clinique For Men, Aveda, Lab Series, Tom Ford and Zegna have been happily hanging out together in a show of unity that’s both refreshing and, as it happens, extremely practical. As well as their excellent men’s grooming station in London’s Westfield White City, curated by Esquire magazine, a new pop-up Grooming Station has just, you know, ‘popped-up’ in London’s Fitzrovia.

AVEDA___A4503At its heart is an Aveda Men Barbershop where you can have express hair cuts, trims and beard tidies, but as well products from Aveda itself you can also investigate fragrance from Tom Ford and Zegna and skin care from Lab Series and Clinique, meaning all your grooming needs can be met in  one quick in-and-out visit.

Men tend to be magpies when it comes to their skin care, hair care and fragrance choices, cherry-picking products from different ranges depending on what they like and what suits their skin, so it makes perfect sense for Lauder to offer the very best of their men’s brands in one go. In a way, they’ve done the edit for you and as we all know, it’s all in the edit.

The Aveda Grooming Station is located at 6 Mortimer Street, London W1F 3JJ and l be open until August. To keep up with what’s happening there check out @AvedaUK #groomingstation

 

Looking for the perfect Father’s Day gift? How about a personalised bottle of Mr. Burberry?

Mr BurberryFragrance has always made a great Father’s Day gift but if you want to add a little icing to the cake this year how about personalising the bottle? Burberry offer a complimentary monogramming service for their Mr. Burberry fragrance that accommodates up to three initials (you could even have ‘DAD’ if you like) at selected stores and via burberry.com. I had my own bottle personalised a while back as you can see.  In a world where little touches matter and bespoke is where it’s at it’s well worth making the extra effort. You only have one dad after all.

Success Bottled: England striker Daniel Sturridge talks fame, fragrance and Pharrell.

Daniel Sturridge PR DAY SHOOT_HUGO BOSS2879If ever a campaign slogan was made for Hugo Boss’ Boss Bottled it’s the one that’s been chosen for the iconic fragrance’s latest campaign – ‘success isn’t born, it’s made’. Since its launch nearly 20 years ago it’s  gone on to become one of the best-selling men’s fragrances in the world and a true modern classic. And who better to exemplify the ‘success isn’t born, it’s made’ ethos than the brand’s new global ambassador: 26-year-old Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge?

Born in Birmingham, he started playing football at six, was spotted by Aston Villa’s Youth Academy just a later and his dedication and hard work saw him play for Coventry City, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool and, of course, England. Describing himself as ‘confident’, ‘courageous’, and passionate about his craft he’s living proof that success really is something that’s ‘made’.

I caught up with him recently to talk about fragrance, Pharrell and the ever-changing face of male grooming...

GG: Thirty years ago, Daniel, it would probably have been considered ‘unmanly’ for footballers to be into their appearance quite as much as they are today but now it’s almost par for the course if you’re a footie star. What do you think has caused that change?

DS: Well, obviously there have been individuals who have broadened the horizons of footballers’ style – most notably David Beckham, who is probably the one person who people would say has focused the most on style and grooming. But also, as time has gone on, things like Instagram have had an impact too because footballers are paying more attention to stuff outside of the game so are starting to pay more attention to how they dress, how they groom themselves, their hair, their skin all those types of things.

Personally, though, I think it’s important to just be comfortable and confident in who you are as a person and not too much worry about what the public thinks because if you do, and you’re in the public eye, then it can become a big problem, especially if you end up taking criticism of your appearance personally.

GG: Well, I guess if you’re in the public eye and taking selfies all the time you have to be well-groomed. Are you a selfie person?

DS: I’m not huge on selfies to be honest. I feel like selfies are a little bit – I wouldn’t like to say ‘vain’ because I don’t think they’re vain necessarily – but I’d say that they’re a little bit ‘personal’ for me. I think that a normal photo isn’t quite so personal because someone else is taking it whereas when you’re taking a selfie it’s you who really wants to take the photo and you want to show people how you look. I have taken them in the past but I’m not huge on them.

GG: In many ways you’re the perfect choice as an ambassador for Boss Bottled’s ‘success isn’t born, it’s made’ campaign…

DS: Well, I’m somebody that’s shaped their own success I suppose. I’m the person who has to go out on the football pitch with my teammates and perform at the best of my abilities. I’m confident, courageous and passionate about what I do and I’m dedicated. I’m someone who’s always evolving and am forever trying to perfect my craft.

Daniel Sturridge PR DAY SHOOT_HUGO BOSS2986GG: We’re you a fan of Boss Bottled before the ambassadorial role came up?

DS: I was! In fact Boss Bottled was my very first fragrance. I first discovered it when I was a kid – when I was about 10 or 11 years old! My dad had it and I took small sample of it from his bedroom because he had a few little samples as well as a full-sized bottle of it. I just hope he doesn’t find out now! (GG: I suspect he will!).

GG: Do you think it’s important to have a signature fragrance – one that says who you are?

DS: Yes, because your choice of fragrance says a lot about your personality. It’s a reflection of how you like to put yourself across to people isn’t it? As I said, I’m a confident person and I’m dedicated to my craft, so Boss Bottled is perfect for me in terms of my personality. Some people’s fragrances can be overpowering sometimes but I prefer something that people have to get up close and personal to smell.

GG: Well, I guess in a way that the success of any fragrance is if somebody wants to get a bit closer to you!

DS: Exactly! It’s like leaving a trail they have to follow. With some people you just can’t get enough of how they smell and no matter what you do you’re drawn to them because they smell so good.

GG: Turning to skincare, I wanted to ask you about the challenges of having Afro-Caribbean skin because it has some very specific grooming needs doesn’t it? Do you have any grooming tips for looking after it?

DS: Well, a lot of Afro-Caribbean guys don’t go for wet shaves when they visit the barbers – they have their stubble trimmed using the shears that the barber uses for your hairline or for the back of your neck so it’s important to make sure that your barber’s appliances are clean. Afro-Caribbean people tend to have oilier skin, too, so you have to make sure the products you use aren’t overly oily. I like to use cold water to wash and I’ll probably exfoliate twice a week but other than that I don’t like to use too many face products.

GG: Ingrown hair and razor bumps can be a big problem for black guys so the exfoliation, which helps minimise the risk of hairs growing back upon themselves and into the skin, is crucial right?

DS: Yes. Ingrown hairs are probably the biggest problem for us. They’re an absolute nightmare and are something that you can’t get away from which is why the exfoliation is important.

GG: Thinking about style, do you have any personal heroes?

DS: Pharrell would certainly be one of them. He was a guru when he first came out with Billionaire Boys Club and a pioneer in terms of style: everyone wanted to dress like him – even the hat became the go-to hat to wear. For a while, it was the coolest thing that anyone had ever seen. I admire him because he’s innovative and tries different things.

Daniel Sturridge PR DAY SHOOT_HUGO BOSS3181GG: And how would you describe your own personal style?

DS: Diverse. I like to change my style quite a bit. I do like to dress up (GG: he looks pretty dapper in his Hugo Boss menswear for these pics) but I’m also relaxed as well because I don’t like to be over the top. I have to be comfortable in what I’m wearing. Because I’m comfortable with myself I can go from wearing track suits to wearing denim to wearing a suit it is dependent on the day and where you’re going and not worry about what people think. When it comes to style I think it’s important to just be who you are as a person.

GG: And in very specific style terms do you think there’s one item that every man should have in his wardrobe?

DS: Rather than a specific item of clothing I’d actually say it’s fragrance because if I don’t smell good I don’t feel good. It’s the ultimate finishing touch, in a way, because when you wear a fragrance it gives you confidence. When you put some on you feel like you can go out and present yourself with integrity. That’s how I feel when I put Boss Bottled Unlimited on. In fact, I’m someone who often puts a little bit of fragrance on my shirt before I go and play. The guys are like ‘what’s he doing?’ but it’s for me – not for anyone else. I’m not putting it one for one simple reason – it makes me feel good.

 


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About Boss Bottled Unlimited

Originally released as a limited edition, Hugo Boss’ Boss Bottled Unlimited has proved to be so popular it has now become a permanent fixture in the Boss Bottled fragrance portfolio. A modern reinvention of a classic masculine fougère, the fragrance features invigorating aromatic green notes, zingy grapefruit, juicy pineapple and warm sensual notes of sandalwood and musk to evoke the BOSS man’s uncompromising drive that motivates him to achieve success in all aspects of his life.

BOSS BOTTLED UNLIMITED is available nationwide and online from The Perfume Shop.

A Grooming Guru/ Boss Bottled Unlimited Sponsored Post.

Profumo Affair

3614270581670_Code-Profumo-3,7_01Of the raft of new men’s fragrances that have landed on my desk of late (most of which copy each other in what amounts to olfactory cannibalism) one – Armani Code Profumo – has leapt out at me. As well as being housed in one of the most ridiculously sensual bottles you’ll ever come across it happens to pretty decent fragrance too. It takes its cues, of course, from the other Armani Code bottles but feels more premium thanks to heavier, thicker glass and there’s a grained collar at the top of the bottle that’s supposed to resemble a cummerbund. And the fragrance itself? Well, it’s a woody-ambery number that’s intensely balsamic and vanillary, with creamy tonka bean (the signature note of the Code fragrances) supported by hints of leather, tobacco and styrax (included to bolster the tonka since it also has a vanillary vibe). The result is an exceptionally sensual fragrance that’s gourmandy without being sickly or cakey and one that’s perfect for warm summer evenings. Recommended.

Available now priced £62 for 6oml eau de parfum