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?
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
There 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.
Even 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.
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
I must admit I always get nervous when a new fragrance comes along that references – however obliquely – a really great fragrance from the past. It’s a bit like comparing your current lover with a previous one and finding them, well, a bit wanting. Rarely (and I mean very rarely) do you realise that, actually, you’re better off with the latest model.
So how does Givenchy’s latest offering, Givenchy Gentlemen Only fare? Well, for starters the fragrance it draws its cues from in terms of name, signature notes and flacon – Givenchy Gentleman – in an almost impossibly hard act to follow.
Launched back in 1974, Gentleman is in my top five fragrances of all time, partly because of its big, ballsy and tenacious patchouli note. Regular readers of this blog will know of my patchouli obsession and Gentleman is one of the best patchouli-based fragrances, deliciously earthy and primal. It’s a note that’s found in Gentlemen Only too, along with vetiver, but this new fragrance is an altogether different animal.
Where Gentleman is deep, earthy, leathery and sensual, Gentlemen Only is fresh, spicy and woody. With the inclusion of pink peppercorn (the note that’s everywhere in men’s fragrance at the moment) it has a thoroughly contemporary feel. If Gentleman is Grouchos, Gentleman Only is more Soho House if you like.
It certainly aligns itself with a lot of modern fragrances and this is both its strength and weakness. It has neither the striking punchiness of Gentleman nor the longevity on the skin and I’m not sure it will still be here in 40 years time, but it’s still better than most of the new fragrances that have landed on my desk in the last few months. If not worth deserting your trusty old favourite for it’s certainly worth having a fling with.
Givenchy Gentlemen Only is available from May.
Disclosure Notice: I received a free sample of this fragrance for review purposes
The vibe: Mining the Paco Rabanne 1 Million vein, this sweet, aromatic woody fragrance with its novelty casino chip bottle is clearly aimed at young, single lads looking for a punchy, accessible, not-too-scary, night-out fragrance. And in that respect it ticks all the boxes.
Key notes: Iris, blackwood and juniper to give it a “gin fizz” accord.
Verdict: it’s not going to stun anyone with its originality but has huge mass-market appeal. Expect to see it in The Perfume Shop’s best seller list.
The Vibe: Fresh, sweet, woody oriental fragrance with a slightly bombastic Eighties feel (and name).
Key notes: Mint, Green Apple, Tonka bean, Ambroxan, Geranium flowers, Vanilla, Vetyver, Cedarwood and an oak moss accord.
Verdict: with Eros as the name it’s positively tumescent with potential but alas, the juice is surprisingly pedestrian and though appears sexy initially (in a sweet, Thierry Mugler kinda way) it matures into something my nan might have worn. Fab bottle though…
Jean Paul Gaultier Le Beau Male
The vibe: Fresh, herbaceous and uber-commercial new Gaultier fragrance created taking a few cues from the original Le Male fragrance and housed in a reworked version of the familiar torso flacon. After the commercial disappointment of Kokorico it seems they’re taking no chances this time.
Key notes: mint, absinthe, lavender, orange blossom, sage, musk
Verdict: Refreshingly different from Le Male (a fragrance too heady for me) the hint of absinthe is lovely, as is icy freshness of the mint and slight soapiness of the sage. The signature Le Male lavender and orange blossom are still there at the fragrance’s core but thankfully the vanilla is barely noticeable in this incarnation. Wearable and not nearly as polarising as Le Male, which is both its biggest asset and biggest drawback.
I’ve written several pieces about summer fragrances this year but if you had to pin me down to just one it’d have to be Balmain’s Monsieur Balmain. Although it was launched back in 1964 and underwent a slight reformulation during the 90s I only recently re-discovered it and a bottle has been sitting on my desk, ready for a spontaneous re-application ever since.
One of the most citrusy fragrances you’ll ever come across is smells like sparkling candied lemon peel but avoids being one-dimensional with the addition of some deliciously spicy and aromatic notes, which give it longevity too.
As I write this, London is basking in sun after one of the wettest summers ever. Balmain Monsieur is perfect for days like this but, given that it’s essentially sunshine in scent form, it’s ideal for the wet ones too.
Mint, Lemon, Bitter orange, Verbena, Bergamot, Petitgrain
Rose, Pepper, Ginger, Nutmeg, Rosemary, Thyme, Moss, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Sage
Cedar, Amber notes
Monsieur Balmain is available from selected department storers priced £59 for 100ml eau de toilette.
It’s a very mean and moody Tom Ford that graces the imagery for his latest signature fragrance for men, Tom Ford Noir. In fact, there’s almost something of the night about him, to borrow a famous phrase from former Tory MP Anne Widdecombe (I bet that’s the first time the two names have ever been linked and hopefully it will be the last).
The fact that the man himself describes Noir as his most personal fragrance yet is revealing, especially as he goes on to describe it as “enigmatic, complex and surprising” and a fragrance that “pulls you closer in an almost addicting way”.
Anyway, the first thing that hits you (and hard) is the powdery violet top note. I happen to be a huge fan of violet (it’s a key component of Geoffrey Beene’s Grey Flannel, my all-time favourite fragrance) but it might come as a shock to some men (there’s the ‘surprise’ element then).
Give it a few moments, though, and it develops into something altogether darker, warmer and sexier. If I were to rank it alongside the existing Tom Ford signature fragrances I’d put it ahead of Grey Vetiver but possibly a fraction behind Extreme but given the quality of both those fragrances that’s still considerable praise indeed. If I have once cirticism it’s that Noir doesn’t last quite as long as I’d like but, in the grand scheme of things that’s a minor quibble. Certainly, Ford has yet to come up with a duff fragrance, something few of his contemporaries can claim.
Top notes: Italian bergamot, verbena, caraway, baie rose, violet flower
Heart notes: black pepper, nutmeg, Tuscan Iris resisn, Egyptian Geranium, Bulgarian Rose, Clary Sage
Base notes: Opoponax, amber, Indonesian patchouli, vetiver, civet, vanilla
Tom Ford Noir will be available in October, priced £60 for 50ml EDP
I’m very fussy about Vetiver fragrances. I’ve tried so many and been disappointed so often (Creed’s Original Vetiver being the one I wear personally), so when I got to sample this new creation from Roja Dove I was bracing myself for yet another let down. I needn’t have worried.
This Vetiver – a spicy Chypre fragrance lifted by green and citrus notes – has that familiar earthy, smoky vetiver aroma but the whole thing is made more complex by the addition of celery, nutmeg, caraway and oakmoss and – surprise, surprise – is imbued with that base, elemental and animalistic sexiness (what I call the ‘pornographic note’) that runs through so many of Roja’s fragrances.
All in all it’s rich and sexy and has real staying power. If you’ll forgive the awful pun, I think I smell a winner.
Available from Harrods from April, priced £195 for 50ml eau de parfum.
Oh I know what you’re thinking – anther day, another Beckham post. Look, can I help it the man’s as ubiquitous as chlamydia? This time, it’s not his pants or quiff I’m discussing, though, but his latest fragrance, Instinct Sport.
It’s fair to say I’ve not been much of a fan of the Beckham fragrances in the past so it’s with some surprise that I find myself actually quite liking this one. Launching in time for the lucrative summer fragrance market (and just in time for the Olympic 2012 sporting frenzy) it’s clearly designed as something to throw into your gym bag, spritz yourself with after a five-a-side or take on your hols.
It opens with a fantastically jolly, juicy and fruity set of notes, including mandarin, ginger ale and apple and though these soon give way to a more pedestrian, slightly unsophisticated dry down, featuring patchouli and sandalwood, the scent as a whole is wearable, inoffensive and perfectly pitched as an affordable introduction to men’s fragrance. Ad’s all a bit ‘tan ‘n’ tatts’ though isn’t it?
Available now from Selfridges.
I love lavender. I grow my own (English of course) and at the end of the summer harvest it and hang bunches of it on the back of my doors or make lavender bags for my wardrobe (brilliant for deterring clothes moths).
Strangely, however, I’ve yet to find a lavender fragrance I can actually wear. This one, though stunning, is no different. It features two types of lavender to give it a real floral ‘hit’ and throws in a little lime blossom, vetiver, cedar and green moss for good measure but is spoilt, for me, by the addition of tonka bean which gives it a cloying sweetness that gives the lavender a slight sickliness.
Mr Ford himself, I believe, is a big fan of Caron’s Pour un Homme De Caron, a fragrance that launched back in 1934 and one characterised by its punchy lavender note. Again, it’s a fragrance I just can’t wear but this time because I find it sharp and abrasive.
It’s possible, of course, that as much as I love the smell of lavender, I’m simply not destined to wear it. But if you do know of a fragrance I might like let me know! In the meantime, my search for lavender lushness continues….
Tom Ford’s Private Blend Collection Lavender Palm is available now, priced £125 for 50 ml eau de parfum.