Paco Rabanne lighten up with 1 Million Cologne

PACO RABANNE_ 1 MILLION COLOGNE_ PACKSHOTS_2Love it or loathe it Paco Rabanne’s 1 Million is a fragrance phenomenon. It’s a heady cocktail, though, so if it’s a little bit too ‘in-your-face’ for you maybe you should check out 1 Million Cologne. Sharper and fresher than its best-selling brother it has a slightly bitter, cocktail feel (the result of mandarin orange and a fresh marine accord) which makes it a much better option for summer. It’s spikier and not quite as rounded and creamy as the original 1 Million fragrance but is just as ferociously commercial and has lost non of its tenacity – when I tested it out on my skin I could still smell it 12 hours later.

Paco Rabanne 1 Million Cologne is available now. 

Invictus triumphs at 2014’s fragrance ‘Oscars’

Paco-Rabanne-InvictusLast night I had the privilege of attending the annual Fragrance Foundation Awards, widely regarded to be the Oscars of the fragrance world. In terms of men’s fragrance the night definitely belonged to Paco Rabanne’s Invictus which scooped, not one, but two awards – for Best New Men’s Fragrance and also the Men’s Health Reader’s Choice Award.

Paco Rabanne 1 Million IntenseIn fact, the corks must be popping all over the place at Paco HQ this morning since they picked up a third gong for 1 Million Intense which won the People’s Choice For Men Award. Without doubt Paco is the brand to catch at the moment when it comes to men’s fragrance. Other companies jealously eye up the success of their fragrances in the way a cat eyes up a mouse and the coherence of the Invictus marketing campaign was stunning, with everything from the eye-catching bottle, witty adverts, choice of face and Invictus Award initiative all coming together like one giant, unstoppable commercial glacier, pushing aside everything else in its path. Impressive.

 

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!”

 

Happy Birthday Paco Rabanne Pour Homme!

prphflacon high resFor a whole generation living in the scent shadow of Paco Rabanne’s 1 Million – a  fragrance which, whether you love it or loathe it, has set the kind of commercial benchmark most contemporary fragrances can only dream of equalling – it’s easy to forget that there was another Paco fragrance that grabbed the male fragrance market and made it its own.

That fragrance, of course, was Paco Rabanne Pour Homme which, remarkably, is celebrating its 40th birthday this year. Again, whatever you think of it, it’s undisputedly iconic. I came across it as a teenager in the mid eighties. Although over a decade old by then, this big, bombastic scent – aromatic, green and smoky, with a slightly soapy edge – still chimed with the times.

1250-THOMAS-1994-PACOGiven that it launched in the 70s when men’s fragrances were all about hyper-masculinity it’s big (and I mean big) on tobacco and oakmoss but the whole thing is tempered by a delightful floral heart of lavender and geranium and there’s a hint of honey in there too which works beautifully with the smokiness of the tobacco. And whilst it might open big, the dry down is lovely.

Smelling it now I’m taken back to a different time and place – not to mention a different me. So is it worth a go? Well, personally, I think it’s a little like rediscovering vinyl after years of clean, crisp, slightly soulless CDs – if you remember it back in the day you can’t help but love it –  nor resist the temptation to give it another whirl.

Viktor & Rolf hope to spice up fragrance market with new fragrance

In the last few years the Holy Grail in terms of men’s fragrance has been to come up with something as successful as Paco Rabanne’s surprise hit 1 Million. I say surprise because, in reality, the fragrance itself is a bit ‘meh’ – its natural home being a Wolverhampton nightclub on a rainy Saturday night. But the bling bling bottle is genius which kind of makes it the ‘all-fur-coat-and-no-knickers’ of the fragrance world. Or ‘all-leather-jeans-and-no-Y-fronts’ if you prefer. But still it sells – by the bucket load.

In a crowded, increasingly competitive, market bottle design really matters (witness Marc Jacobs’ novel Bang flacon) so it’s no surprise that a stand-out bottle was top of mind when creating Viktor & Rolf’s new fragrance for men, Spicebomb.

Designed to resemble a hand grenade (it even has its own pin) it’s certainly eye-catching, though I’d have liked to have seen it a little heavier myself, since a weighty bottle always says quality to me.

And, so, what about the fragrance itself? Well, it’s quite different to the design duo’s first men’s fragrance, Antidote. The brief here was clearly to create something sexy, wearable and very ‘now’ and in this respect it succeeds admirably.

Spicebomb hits you like…well, a bomb really, with one big olfactory wallop. There’s chilli, saffron and pink pepper along with fresh bergamot and grapefruit notes and leather, tobacco and vetiver ones. It’s a more conventional blend than the press bumpf would have you believe and to me it has a headiness akin to fragrances like Mugler’s A*Men and a faint gourmand quality (the cinnamon maybe?).

It doesn’t feel quite as sophisticated, daring or as complex as Antidote, nor as quirky, but because of this it should be able to reach way beyond the former’s narrow customer base. Who knows? It may even go off like a….No, I’ll resist that one.

Viktor & Rolf’s Spicebomb is available exclusively from Harrods now and nationwide from 7th March priced £45 for 50ml eau de toilette.