John Varvatos turns things blue with brand new fragrance

JOHN VARVATOS ARTISAN BLUI’m a huge fan of the John Varvatos fragrances and it’s a real shame the designer doesn’t have the same kind of name recognition in the UK as he does over in the States because if he did I’m sure his fragrances would be much more popular than they are. They certainly deserve to be best sellers. The original John Varvatos Artisan fragrance is lovely (see a brief review of it here) and each successive addition to the collection, like Artisan Black and Artisan Acqua, have brought something new to the portfolio.

The latest addition, the limited edition, Artisan Blu, is all about bottling an aquatic, summery vibe so think Mediterranean herbs, summer flowers and the kind of crisp, clean wateriness that evokes summer hols and balmy evenings on the beach  – a very comforting thought as I write this on a cold and grey February afternoon believe me. As ever, the bottle, comes encased in a handcrafted rattan sleeve – in this case deep blue and, appropriately, reminiscent of fishermen’s nets.  One to put on your spring fragrance list for sure.

Top notes: Bergamot, Bitter Orange, Lavender, Chayote, Basil

Heart notes: Palmarosa, Clary Sage, Geranium, Iris, Orange Blossom Absolute

Base notes: Patchouli, cedarwood, parasol pine, tamarisk, pistachio tree resin

John Varvatos Artisan Blu is available from Debenhams from 1st April priced £49 for 75ml eau de toilette.

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.

Jean Paul Gaultier’s Ultra Male: welcome to the dark side

gaultier ultra maleIt’s hard to believe but Jean Paul Gaultier’s iconic Le Male fragrance is 20 years old this year. In fragrance years that makes it practically a pensioner since so many modern era men’s fragrances are lucky to make it past their third birthday. So popular has it become that a bottle is sold every six seconds and to date over 80 million products have been sold. Like all great contemporary classics, though, it’s an intensely polarising scent, with some people loving it and others finding it sickly, cloying and overpowering. Personally, I’ve always liked it and respected its boldness but have never actually been able to wear it.

And though Gaultier has never been able to replicate its success fragrance-wise (remember Gaultier² or Kokorico?) Le Male, housed in its memorable flacon, has guaranteed him a place in the fragrance hall of fame. Over the years it has spawned numerous “flankers” (i.e. variations thereof) and this anniversary year sees the arrival of yet another, in the shape of Ultra Male. As I pointed out in my review of it for Men’s Health it’s still a gourmand fragrance but not nearly as sweet as the original, opening it up to a whole new audience.

“I worked on this new version by reinterpreting the sensuality of the original fragrance with the codes of our modern era,” says its creator, acclaimed perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. “Gourmand effects, which Mr Gaultier loves so much, interplay with modern woody notes and lavender aromatic notes, the heart of the original fragrance that was composed in 1995.” Unlike most ‘reinterpretations’, however, Ultra Male isn’t afraid to veer away from the original in its construction. In fact, you’d barely recognise it as a sibling of Le Male, which is why it’s worth checking out, even if you’re not a fan of the  original.

Jean-Paul-Gaultier-Ultra-Male-Fragrance-Campaign-Jarrod-ScottTo my nose Ultra Male is deeper, rougher, darker and altogether more muscular than Le Male and more grown up too. It’s spicer, fruitier and woodier and not quite so sexually ambiguous. Le Male, of course, is now famous for the use of sailor imagery in its ad campaigns and if the original is the sailor who waves to his loved ones from the deck of a departing ship, Ultra Male is more like the sailor lurking in a dark back alley, waiting to press-gang you into joining the navy. And I mean that in a good way. So why resist?

Paul Edmonds launches bodycare range.

Paul Edmonds Fig Bodywash £18 www.pauledmonds.comGiven the choice between a bath and shower I always choose a bath. Showers, to me, are rather perfunctory affairs, whereas a bath is ritualistic and more satisfying. And currently adding a few bubbles to my bath water is this Black Pearl & Green Fig Body Wash from acclaimed hairdresser Paul Edmonds. Launching later this month to coincide with his 30 years in the industry, it’s part of a brand new luxury body care range, and it smells fantastic –  crisp and ‘green’ without being sickly sweet in the way that some fig products can be. What’s more, it works just as well as a bubble bath as a body wash. Well worth investigating.

Available later this month from the Paul Edmonds salon in Knightsbridge and on pauledmonds.com, priced £18 for 300ml.

DSquared Potion Blue Cadet: the spell is broken

dsquared2-potion-blue-cadet-magicheska-energiya-na-vazduha

Keen followers of this blog will know how much I loved the original DSquared Potion fagrance. So much so in fact that I awarded it the title of Best New Fragrance in my annual Grooming Guru Awards in 2011. Unfortunately, Dsquared’s latest launch, Potion Blue Cadet, completely breaks the spell of the the original.

An aromatic woody fragrance, with cutting notes of bergamot, mandarin and grapefruit, along with pedestrian tonka bean (yawn), it’s fantastically commercial but, perhaps because of this, ends up smelling like Issey Miyake’s Pour Homme Sport (with which it shares several notes) or some charmless concoction cooked up in the P&G laboratories. In fairness, the dry down is much better so it does have some redeeming qualities but it’s not a patch on the original Potion. So DSquared, please bring back a little of the old magic with the next one okay?

Notes:

Top: begamot, mandarin, pink grapefruit

Middle: Siberian pine, Blue Hemlock, Fir Balsam, White Cedar

Base: Musk, Tonka bean, Cistus resin

Dsquared Potion Blue Cadet launches in May.

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

Nivea For Men go for the double

88884_Double_Action_Balm_tottleAnother day, another launch from Nivea For Men (there’s no resting on laurels for this skincare behemoth). This time it’s a brand new post-shave product called  the Skin Energy Double Action Balm. Capitalizing on two current trends in male grooming  – ‘energy’  and multi-functionality –  it’s the perfect modern grooming aid: versatile, revitalising (thanks to guarana extract and taurine) and easy to use.  Because it’s a moistursier and an aftershave balm you can just slap it all over your face after shaving without having to use separate products. And anything that makes the morning routine simpler and faster has got to be good right?

Nivea For Men’s Skin Energy Double Action Balm costs £7.14 for 100ml.

 

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