Aesop’s new gift sets are truly stellar

AESOP GIFT KITS 2015-2016 PERSUES WITH OPEN TIN CI’m not sure whether it’s a sign of my exceptionally good taste or that I simply don’t get out enough, but few things excite me quite as much as news of a new Aesop gift kit. Delightful to behold, they’re always beautifully thought out and presented and the offerings in the run up to this Christmas are no different. Themed around six constellations, each of the Gift Kits features a selection of Aesop essentials.

aesop cabinetPerseus, for example, features their Fabulous Face Cleanser, Moroccan Neroli Post-Shave Lotion and one of my all time favourite Aesop products – the Geranium Leaf Body Cleanser. But it’s not just the products that I love about these gift sets; the tins they come in are superb too, mainly because they’re genuinely useful. I have several in my bathroom cabinet, stuffed full of pills, potions and assorted grooming essentials. You know how cats love cardboard boxes? Well, I love Aesop tins. The contents are bloody good, too, mind.

The Perseus Gift Kit is available from November from aesop.com priced £60. 

Zegna solve festive fragrance buying dilemmas with new gift set

Essenze coffret bottles box pack shot 150dpi Choosing a fragrance for someone can be such a drag – especially at Christmastime when you’ve got so many better things to do (drinking mulled wine for starters). And people are so terribly hard to please these days. So here’s a great idea in the shape of the Zegna Essenze Gift Set which features 30ml versions of six Zegna Essenze fragrances, including personal favourites of mine like Hatian Vetiver and Italian Bergamot. Although I’m not a massive fan of the mass market Zegna fragrances the finely constructed top end ones in the Essenze collection are excellent and well worth investigating, either individually or in the form of this luxurious (and easy to wrap) gift set.

Available exclusively at Harrods, John Lewis and House of Fraser, priced £180 for the set. 

Looking for the perfect fragrance gift for Christmas?

I’m often asked at this time of year if I can recommend a few new fragrances that would make great Christmas gifts for men. Given that fragrance is a very subjective thing it’s always tricky and since I was asked recently to list a few for my Telegraph Men column I thought I may as well just point you in that direction rather than list them again here. A few of the new fragrances mentioned are ones that really impressed me this year whilst others are there because I think they’d make an impact on Christmas morning with certain types of guys. So, anyway, if you want to see my selection simply click on the image below. And feel free to call me out if you don’t agree with what I went for!

fragrances

Lab Series’ ‘Try It’ Kit is perfect for Christmas

LAB try it kitOne of the things I love most about Lab Series is their no-bull approach to skincare. Never over-complicated for the sake of it, their products always do what they say on the tin and rarely over-promise but often over-deliver. So it’s rather appropriate that their kit for Christmas has a very upfront ‘go on, try us’ message.

The Try It Kit (£16.50 from Boots and labseries.co.uk) features three hero products from the range – the Multi Action Face Wash (one of my all-time favourite grooming products), a 3-in-1 Post Shave and a Daily Moisture Defense Lotion. It’s a perfect introduction to the brand, is a good price and makes a fab Christmas gift. Great for travel too.

Reiss introduce engraving service for debut fragrances

reissEarlier in the year high street brand Reiss launched two of my favourite fragrances of 2013, in the shape of Black Oudh and Grey Flower. And from 4th – 16h December they’re offering a special personalised engraving service where you can have these fragrances engraved with your name as permanent reminder of how generous you are, not to mention what great taste you have. Perfect for Christmas and it only costs a fiver too.

For more information click here.

To read my original review of both fragrances click here.

Paco Rabanne’s Invictus: standing on the shoulders of a giant?

InvictusIt’s already hit the top spot of the best selling men’s fragrances in the UK and now that we’re in the frenzied run up to Christmas you can be sure that Paco Rabanne’s Invictus, which launched at the end of July, is going to be at the top of many a man’s festive wish list.

It’s success, of course, comes in the wake of a fragrance phenomenon – Paco Rabanne’s 1 Million. Since its launch back in 2008 1 Million has become the envy of fragrance houses worldwide. So popular has it become that, remarkably, a bottle is sold every five seconds. Such popularity isn’t without its drawbacks though. After all, how do you follow a fragrance that that’s become a modern classic and also a benchmark for commercial success in a notoriously fickle market? 

pacoIt was this very question that I put to Paco Rabanne Vice President Vincent Thilloy when I met him in Paris a while back. “In truth we could not have imagined how successful 1 Million would become or how it would end up a market leader,” he told me.  “Although I suppose key to its success was the fact that we took a risk with it, especially with the bottle. Few companies are willing to take real risks these days but the way I look at, it’s not taking a risk that’s the risk!”

Certainly, 1 Million‘s gold bullion bar bottle and the novel ‘trophy’ flacon of Invictus are both unlike anything on the market but according to Thilloy it’s still the ‘juice’ inside that matters most. “Having a great bottle is only part of the story,” he believes. “Ultimately, the smell of the fragrance is everything because you’ll only buy a fragrance again if someone says you smell great.”

So how does Invictus –  a fragrance that was over two and a half years in development – smell? Well, if you haven’t tried it yet it’s at the other end of the spectrum to 1 Million. Where that fragrance is sweet, warm and sexy Invictus is fresh and sporty.  Sure, it features earthy patchouli and warm woody notes but there’s a fresh ‘marine’ vibe (think the smell of ocean spray) and a slight metallic something going on there too. Fundamentally, though, it’s a fragrance of two halves.

Invictus_packshot“With Invictus we really wanted to create something that was fresh but not in a traditional ‘cologne fresh’ way – we wanted a fragrance that had two distinct sides to it,” says Thilloy. The beauty of this olfactory duality – and what differentiates it from 1 Million is that you can wear Invictus in the day and into the night, as the warmer base notes develop.

Paco Rabanne’s fragrances have always tapped into man’s most ardent aspirations. 1 Million was about a desire for wealth and the playboy lifestyle, Black XS was about wanting to be a rock star and Invictus is about being a champion. So now that this latest fragrance is firmly on the fragrance map what next? “I can’t tell you,” says Thilloy coyly. “But what I can tell you is that we’re already working on it!”

 

Jean Paul Gaultier’s Christmas gift set for Le Male – as much fun as you can have with two fingers

Christmas gift sets can be so dull. You know the type of thing – a fragrance plus a shower gel in a boring old box. Well, here’s a gift set that’s anything but boring. In fact, the first time I got to touch one I was a bit like a five year old with a new toy.

See, this year’s Christmas coffret for Jean Paul Gaultier’s perennially-popular Le Male fragrance is carved from polystyrene and is fitted with two buttons at the sides which create a little snowstorm inside each time they’re pushed simultaneously.

If you’re a big kid like me, once you start playing with it you almost don’t care what the fragrance inside smells like (though it’s a classic so don’t worry). Possibly my favourite fragrance gift set this year. Certainly pushes my buttons anyway (sorry!)…

Available now, priced £39.50. Set includes a 75ml eau de toilette and a 100ml shower gel.