DSquared Potion Royal Black: the old black magic is back

potion royal blackMy love affair with DSquared’s POTION is a bit like love affairs in general; I have fallen in love with it, out of love with it and now – I’m pleased to report – I am, at the very least, considering having another fling with it.

I adored the original POTION which launched back in 2011 (as you can see here) but POTION Blue Cadet, its follow up, left me massively underwhelmed  (as you can see here). The latest flanker, POTION Royal Black, however, puts things back on track somewhat.

Warm, woody and spicy, with a touch of oud and tobacco, it’s deliciously intense and punchy, with echoes of Tom Ford’s Tuscan Leather. I’m sure some people will find its initial intensity a bit much and summer seems an odd time for its launch (it very much feels like an Autumnal fragrance to me) but if you’re in the mood for something deep, smoky and sexy it’s well worth a go. My only criticism is to do with its staying power which could be better and which is why it’s a fling for me rather than a full blown affair.

Notes: 

Top: bergamot, incense, pimento

Middle: rose, cedar wood, Balcanic tobacco absolute, oud

Base: leather accord, cahsmere wood, gaiac wood, musk

DSquared’s POTION Royal Black is available from 15th July from Harrods priced £67 for 100ml eau de parfum. 

Bentley For Men Intense: my favourite fragrance launch of the year so far

Bentley For Men Intense 100ml_72dpiThere have already been lots of brand new men’s fragrances this year but of all the ones so far the Intense version of Bentley For Men, the first fragrance from the luxury car brand, is by far my favourite. Yes, I know it’s only February still but I’ve been lucky enough to sample what coming up as far as June so that covers pretty much half of 2013.

In a way, it should come as no surprise that it’s so good (the nose, Nathalie Lorson, also created Lalique’s fantastically dark vetiver creation Encre Noir after all) but what’s ironic is that it should take a luxury car company, rather than an experienced fashion house, to come up with the goods.

But then, this is no stack ’em high, sell ’em cheap mass-market fragrance: it’s something that clearly puts integrity before all else. The regular version, Bentley For Men  a woody, fresh and leathery number with black pepper,  bergamot, musk, patchouli and a hint of rum  –  is great in itself but the Intense version is superb.

A “high-impact” take of the signature fragrance Intense replaces the freshness provided by Bentley For Men’s bergamot and bay leaves and replaces them with labdanum and sandalwood, in a brief that’s basically all about bigging up the leather, spices and patchouli. The result is one of the sexiest fragrances I’ve smelt in years. It’s long lasting too. In fact, the base notes were still lingering on my skin the morning after the night of the official press launch.

BENTLEYEven the bottle, with its blunderbuss weightiness, sensual curves and meticulous attention to detail (“Bentley Fragrances” is even embossed under the lid), is nop-notch. So if you’re looking for a seriously good fragrance for 2013 make Bentley For Him Intense your first stop.

Bentley For Men Intense is available from Harrods from 24th March priced £69.50 for 100 ml eau de parfum.

The Notes:

Top: Black Pepper, Incense, African Geranium

Heart: Clary Sage, Labdanum resin, Leather

Base: Cedarwood, Patchouli, Sandalwood

Disclosure Notice: I received a free sample of this fragrance for review purposes

Armani’s new fragrance for men is a nocturnal delight

ARMANIpgWith the vogue for night fragrances continuing it’s no surprise to see Armani entering the fray with Eau de Nuit, a fragrance whose brief is to capture the essence of “the fleeting beauty when daytime turns to darkness”. What this means in reality, of course is a scent characterised by being rich, dark, a bit spicy and generally more suited to nighttime (if that’s how you like to categorise your fragrances).

Smoky, powdery and a little leathery it has notes of bergamot, nutmeg, iris (the source of the powderiness), amber and the ubiquitous tonka bean. It also has pink pepper – a note few of this year’s men’s fragrances can be created without it would seem.

The result is a scent that’s actually deliciously warm and creamy on the skin and one that has more than a hint of pencil shavings (in a good way – I like the smell of pencil shavings). I’m not entirely sure whether it’ll last you all night (I was a bit disappointed by its staying power) but of all the “night” fragrances that have landed on my desk so far it’s definitely one of the best.

 

Armani Eau de Nuit For Men is available exclusively from Harrods, priced £49 for 50ml eau de toilette, before going nationwide on March 11th.

The Grooming Guru Awards 2012. Best Grooming Gadget: The Clarisonic Plus

CLARISONICggawrd12lAlthough there are plenty of great grooming gadgets out there most of them are focussed on shaving. This one, however, is a bit different, improving skin before you actually shave. The Clarisonic Plus uses an exfoliating brush and a sonic frequency of 300 oscillations a second to remove up to twice as much grease and grime as manual cleansing. And though originally a device aimed at women its popularity with men has rocketed, prompting the launch of this new grey version (presumably for those men scared of brandishing the pink version).

Not only is the Clarisonic a fantastic device for giving skin a deep-down cleanse it’s actually a great one for prepping skin in readiness for your daily shave, ridding skin of razor-clogging dead cells and helping prevent ingrown hairs. What tips the balance for me as a bearded guy, however, is how useful it is for getting to the skin beneath facial hair, keeping it clean and free of beard dandruff. My Clarisonic has been, by far, my favourite piece of kit of 2012, hence the Best Grooming Gadget gong. It (quite literally) is the perfect way to brush up on your skincare.

The Clarisonic Plus Grey, which includes a head for the body too, is available from Harrods.

Coming tomorrow… The Grooming Guru’s Dud of The Year Award 

The Grooming Guru Awards 2012. Best New Men’s fragrance: Tom Ford Noir.

TOM FOR NOIRggawrd12lThe moment I tried the latest fragrance from Tom Ford back in July, a few months ahead of its official launch, I knew it was a contender for my Best New Men’s Fragrance award. I knew, though, that there was still time for something else to come along and knock it off its pedestal. But that just didn’t happen.

Sweet, powdery and sexy it’s a delicious blend of bergamot, verbena, violet flower, geranium, amber, patchouli and vetiver (some of my favourite notes ever) and has elicited more compliments than any other fragrance I’ve worn all year. When the PR for a rival luxury brand asked me what I was wearing because they thought it was “amazing” I knew the immaculately groomed Texan had yet again come up with something head and shoulders above his competitors. My favourite fragrance of 2012, not by a mile but a few thousand.

Tom Ford Noir, £60 for 50ml EDP from Harrods.

Coming tomorrow…the award for Best Grooming Range of 2012!

Aramis’ new Perfume Calligraphy – full of Eastern promise

It’s not often a fragrance lands on my desk that both I and my mum could wear. So it’s quite a novelty to be reviewing Aramis’ intriguing new unisex scent Perfume Calligraphy.

A shameless stab at the Middle Eastern fragrance market (it openly claims to have been developed especially for the Arabian consumer) it’s a fantastically rich, heady, supersweet and faintly intoxicating blend of cardamon, myrrh, patchouli, amber, musk and (of course) oud wood.

It’s absolutely not for the fainthearted and has an intensity that will be alien to many a western nose, weaned as we are on a diet of insipid scents where a black pepper note is about as daring as things get. There’s something about it, too, that reminds me of some of perfumier Roja Dove’s muskier moments.

I myself had a surprisingly complex reaction to it. I kind of love it but can’t wear it, being strangely attracted to the muskiness but unable to live with it on my own skin (not at this time of year anyway, maybe in winter). I must say, it’s a reaction I find rather refreshing because I’m terribly black or white when it comes to fragrance, either loving something or recoiling – as I did when I first got a whiff of Dolce Gabbana’s The One Sport – in utter horror.

In what I’ll admit is quite possibly the strangest analogy imaginable for a fragrance review it’s like stumbling across something dead in your garden – you don’t want to look but you simply cannot resist doing so. Basically, compelling.

Available exclusively from Harrods priced £105 for 100ml eau de parfum

Lalique launches Hommage a l’homme

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the launch of the Lalique’s new fragrance for men Homme a l’homme at the Lalique shop (if one can call such an establishment a shop) in London’s Conduit Street. I must say, it’s a spectacular venue, full of spectacular things and a place I’ve never ventured into (can’t think why because that £10,000 Lalique sound system looked lovely!). But anyway, if you want a little bit of the Lalique luxury yourself this new fragrance is a good place to start.

Given free-reign to use what ingredients they liked perfumiers Christine Nagel and Mathidle Bijaoui have come up with something deliciously fresh with a spiciness that’s much subtler than you find in most of today’s men’s fragrances (the now ubiquitous black pepper’s there but not overpoweringly so and the addition of saffron is a lovely touch).

It also has a juciness which comes from a violet leaf note (Nagel demonstrated this to me by snapping open a real violet leaf and it has a surprisingly fresh, cactus/cucumber smell that does indeed smell ‘juicy’). All this is finished off with a sexy trio of base notes including cistus, oud and musk.

It’s a pretty good combination and the bottle itself is beautifully simple, having a murder-weapon weightiness I always look for in flacon. But if you really want a bit of luxury check out the £1,000  crystal bottle version! I am rattling my money box as I write.

Homme a l’homme by Lalique is available from Harrods right now and nationwide from May, priced £49 for 50 ml eau de toilette. You can also buy it online from www.lalique-parfums.com