Take a voyage into darkness with Beaufort London’s Fathom V

fathom-v-1If there’s one thing that’s predictable about new launches from British fragrance house Beaufort London it’s their unpredictability. So, although the name of their latest creation, Fathom V, suggests something aquatic what’s delivered is far more unexpected  and intriguing.

Fathom V’s cleverness lies in its ability to take the concept of an aquatic fragrance and turn it on its head. Instead of following the bright and breezy, surf’s up approach that so many marine scents take, it plots an entirely different course, taking the wearer on a dark, foggy, Gothic adventure that conjures up images of dark, 17th century sea ports full of smugglers, ships with moss-covered hulls and illegally obtained barrels of spice. Sure, there’s a bitter sea saltiness to it but as a fragrance its predominantly earthy, mossy, green and aromatic in nature, with hints of crude oil, lilies and petrichor – the unique smell that rises off bone dry earthy soaked by rain. All in all it’s a delightfully complex, contradictory fragrance and one that I can imagine someone like Nick Cave wearing. For that reason alone I absolutely love it.

Fathom V is available now, priced £95 for 50ml eau de parfum, from beaufortlondon.com


Spice up your life with Comme des Garçons’ latest fragrance

COMME BLACK PEPPER 2As much as I love Comme des Garçons fragrances their last few offerings (Wonderwood, Amazingreen, Blue Santal) haven’t been ones I’d personally wear. So it’s exciting (not to mention somewhat of a relief) to discover that their latest one, Blackpepper, most definitely is. As a note, black pepper is somewhat ubiquitous in men’s fragrances these days but it’s normally tucked away so its presence rarely hits you like a vigorous twist of a pepper mill. In Blackpepper, however, you get a big old, nostril-tingling hit, tempered eventually by cedarwood (the other big note in this fragrance) which softens it beautifully. A touch of patchouli and a little tonka bean round the whole thing out, making Blackpepper, not just super-spicy, but surprisingly sexy too. One of my favourite launches of 2016.

Available exclusively at Selfridges until October and nationwide thereafter, priced £83 for 100ml eau de parfum. 

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.

versace dylan blue (1)

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