Caran D’Ache pencils – a slightly more interesting way to enjoy fragrance

If you’re a bit of a fragrance junkie chances are that spraying it onto skin isn’t the only way you like to enjoy your scent. But while solid perfumes and scented candles are all very nice there are other, altogether more interesting, ways to enjoy perfume too. Take this super-cool scented pencil collection from fine writing experts Caran d’Ache for example. Featuring four exquisite 4HB graphite pencils, each made of a different precious wood (Western Hemlock, White Oak, Silver Teak and White Ash), the set is heavily scented with a warm, creamy blend of patchouli, incense and tonka bean and each pencil is a real delight to hold and to smell – especially when you pop it into a sharpener.

The fragrance itself, ‘Tibetan Wood’, is the creation of master perfumer Alberto Morillas (the guy who created Armani’s Acqua di Gio and Calvin Klein’s CK One) and is certainly something you’d want to wear if it were bottled. I have to say, I loved these from the moment I clapped eyes on them. Beautiful, stylish and practical – they’ve almost tempted me to take up life drawing classes – they’re the perfect present for perfumistas but also for arty types, dads (Father’s Day is coming up remember) and, well, men who have everything but a set of scented pencils. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not something you necessarily need but trust me, you’ll certainly want them.

Les Crayons de le Maison Caran D’Ache cost £30.00 for a set of four. For stockists go to www.carandache.com

Byredo Toile – a different way to wear fragrance

BYREDO Toile textile perfumeThere are several places a man should never spray a fragrance. Apart from one I’m far too polite to mention here, directly onto his clothing is one of them. The reason for this is that some fragrance ingredients and colourants can damage or stain fabric – especially delicate fabric. And yet, there are times we’ve all wanted to spray out clothes rather than our skin – perhaps because we wanted to freshen them up or because we didn’t want skin itself to be overpoweringly perfumed.

Cult fragrance brand Byredo have recognised this in their latest fragrance – the appropriately named Toile. A genderless ‘textile perfume’ it’s been designed to be safe to spray on clothes and imparts a clean, fresh, slightly metallic fragrance that’s faintly reminiscent of sun-dried sheets, hairspray and static electricity. It’s created in the best tradition of anti-perfumes like Comme de Garcon’s Odeur 53 and Odeur 71 and well worth checking out if you’re looking, not only for a fragrance that’s slightly ‘different’, but also a different way to wear fragrance too.

Byredo’s Toile Textile Perfume is available from Mr. Porter and byredo.com priced £42 for 75ml.

Dunhill ICON (rightfully) wins ‘fragrance Oscar’ for design & packaging

DUNHILL_ICON LR2Like the acting Oscars the annual fragrance Oscars – the FiFi awards – tend to create their own share of controversy when it comes to winners, not to mention the odd WTF?! moment. Occasionally there’s a whiff of the Rita Oras about the bigger winners (i.e they’re absolutely everywhere so they’ve got to be good, right? Which we all know isn’t always true) but I was genuinely thrilled to see that dunhill ICON picked up an award for Best New Male Design & Packaging at last night’s ceremony. Almost every review of this fragrance (my own included) commented on how superb the bottle was. Featuring an engine-turned cylindrical case, with a design first used on dunhill accessories back in 1924, it’s both beautiful to hold and to look at. So huge congrats to dunhill – and to Mark Eisen who designed it – on a thoroughly deserved win.

P.S. The fragrance happens to be pretty good too.

A full list of The Fragrance Foundation Awards winners can be seen here.

Jo Malone teams up with legendary stylist Judy Blame

FullSizeRender 3Growing up, as I did, in the 1980s, it was impossible – as someone interested in magazines and fashion – not to know who Judy Blame was. Working with the likes of Buffalo stylist Ray Petri, he was responsible from some of the most iconic looks of the decade – and the one that followed. As a stylist and jeweller he’s worked with everyone from Boy George and Bjork to Dior and Galliano.

JUDY BLAMEInspired by the DIY punk aesthetic of the Seventies his work was (and still is) characterized by the use of everyday items: from buttons and safety pins to keys, tassels and household cutlery. And so, appropriately, it’s a button motif that’s been used for his new collaboration with fragrance house Jo Malone.

The perfect present for the style-conscious perfumista, the Judy Blame for Jo Malone London Box, is a great way to have your favourite Jo Malone fragrance pimped up, Blame style. Each bottle is adorned with little button stickers comes in a special ‘pearly kings and queens’ box, tied with ribbon printed with (you guessed it) more buttons. The box itself is cool enough to become something you’re likely keep long after the fragrance has run out and is perfect for keeping stuff in, whether that’s pocket squares, bow ties, belts or, you know, spare buttons, keys and safety pins.

The Judy Blame For Jo Malone London Box will be available exclusively from Selfridges and from jomalone.co.uk from 1st June, priced £85.

Clive Christian to launch new ‘L’ For Men fragrance

L Perfume 50ml A4_Black Glow Ref HL-1

I would very much like to tell you that Clive Christian‘s superb new fragrance ‘L’ was created just for me (it does bear my initial after all) and in my deluded mind it absolutely was. Alas, it turns out that the ‘L’ in question stands not for Lee but for Love.

Part of the ‘L’ private collection (there’s a female fragrance too) ‘L’ For Men is a sweet, sensual and – above all else – a ferociously woody scent. It features a fairly heady combination of grapefruit, vetiver and rose with a touch of smoky oud wood and a slightly pornographic musky base but the overriding smell is one of intensely woody pencil shavings (courtesy of atlas cedar). It’s sexy without being licentious, complex without being pretentious and, for men who like their fragrances to have stamina,  has the kind of tenacity on the skin that means it can easily survive a hot bath or shower. Impressive stuff.

Available exclusively from Harrods from August

Ask The Guru: What is fragrance layering?

ARAMISLayering is useful way to build up a long-lasting fragrance ‘impression’ by using products from your favourite scent’s body range and is the perfect way to smell great all day long, without having to reapply your fragrance.

To layer, simply use the fragranced shower gel, soap, deodorant and aftershave balm in tandem, finishing off with some eau de toilette. Using body products from the same range as your fragrance also helps you avoid nasty antiperspirant/shower gel clashes and, if your favourite range includes a fragranced body moisturiser, will help the scent last a little longer on the skin. Layering’s also great for achieving a subtler effect too, however. If you’re going for an interview or just want to smell good for work, for example, apply everything but the eau de toilette.

The Grooming Guru’s Christmas Gift Guide For Her

Stuck for a present idea for the woman in your life? How about these glorious gifts?

03102012042806There are scented candles and then there are Fornasetti scented candles, which don’t just smell great but turn the humble room fragrance into a mini work of art. This one, the Flora di Fornasetti candle, fills the room with gloriously intoxicating notes of lily of the valley, jasmine and tuberose and comes in the most exquisite ceramic vessel and gift box. £99 from Selfridges.com
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Face facts, how a bottle of fragrance looks is just as important as how it smells when it comes to gift giving. And who could not be won over by this orb-topped fragrance from Vivienne Westwood? Deliciously feminine, with notes of bergamot, red english rose and heliotrope, Boudoir is a no-brainer when it comes to gifting so go buy! £34 for 30ml eau de parfum from escentual.com

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I always think that Molton Brown products look like colourful little jewels. And if that’s the case then this Orion Gift Set, featuring six colourful bath and shower gels is a veritible treasure trove for beauty magpies. Looks fab and best of all, is easy to wrap! £36 from nivenandjoshua.com

ren-gift-set-05I love REN as a brand and suspect she’ll love you if you gave her this Neroil Duo Gift Set featuring a Neroli and Grapefruit Body Wash and Body Cream. They smell  fantastic and the great thing is that, once they’re on the side of the bath, you can can proceed to steal them for yourself. £28 from renskincare.com

Tidy_All_PurpleLizThough the contents of a woman’s handbag largely remain a mystery to me I’ve seen enough friends rummaging around in them to know that they’re clearly a bit like the Tardis inside (i.e big and very messy). This dinky little Aspinal Handbag Tidy solves part of that problem by safely housing a few essentials like lipstick, lipgloss and contact lenses. £65 from aspinaloflondon.com

black orchidYou probably know by now how much I love Tom Ford fragrances. Well, Black Orchid is one of his best selling signature fragrances for women and this gift set, featuring a 50ml bottle of the rich, sensual fragrance along with a 75ml body lotion, is guaranteed to make a big impression on Christmas morning. £75 from selfridges.com

whole lotta colourI must confess I don’t know much about make up (the last time I wore any myself was back in the Eighties when it was de rigueur for men to slap up) but what I do know from reading the posts and tweets of my fellow beauty press and beauty bloggers is that Clinique’s Chubby Sticks* have been a bit of a sensation this year. So much so that this Whole Lotta Colour gift set has sold out on their own website and it’s pot luck whether you’ll be able to find a store near you that has a set. But since it’s clearly one of this year’s must have gifts you’ll get extra points if you do find one. So what are you doing reading this? You’d better get shopping! £30 from a store near you (hopefully).

*they’re lip colour balms in case you were wondering

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