New Personalised David Bowie ‘Life Book’ is a fantastic voyage through the legend’s life.

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Although a year has passed since his death, for many the loss of David Bowie is a wound yet to heal. Indeed, it may never heal. Since he left us I, along with many other fans, have taken solace in his back catalogue, in the numerous books celebrating his life and in productions like Lazarus – the thought-provoking musical he completed just before his passing.

Adding to the ways in which fans can celebrate his life and work this month is Historic Newspapers’ Personalised David Bowie: A Newspaper History (or a ‘Life Book’ as they’ve dubbed it). A 130-page, leather-bound, large format (31cm x 38cm) collection of news articles dating back to 1971, it’s an absolute treasure trove of rare stories, pictures, interviews and (occasionally totally bonkers) tabloid gossip.

bowie-vintageCulled from the world’s largest Original Newspaper archive, Historic-Newspapers.co.uk, the stories and pictures here come from the Daily Mirror and cover everything from Bowie’s addictions and fashion choices (“Back in stiletto heels!” screams one headline from ’73) to his thoughts on films and fatherhood. Beautifully produced on quality, off-white paper to give everything a suitably vintage feel, it brings together a superb selection of stories and images, from early ones about alter-ego Ziggy Stardust to those surrounding his untimely death last year, while the Mirror‘s original  pull-out tributes, published after he died, are included in full.

bowie-2As a teenager I used to keep scrapbooks on my favourite artists (I still did as an adult to be truthful) and sourcing everything was a laborious, painstaking and, in later life, an expensive business but thankfully Historic Newspapers have done all the hard work for fans like me with this artfully edited anthology. What actually makes this collection of newspaper clippings even more interesting reading is the fact that many of the Bowie pieces are presented with the news and ads that surrounded them. You could be forgiven for thinking that this robs the book of valuable Bowie-centric space but, if anything, it actually enhances them – helping frame the stories, both literally and contextually. In truth, discovering that a chicken cost 23p per lb back in 1975 is almost as fascinating as reading that Young Americans was tentatively called Somebody Up There Likes Me.

img_4573I have to be admit, I was worried that this collection would be some poorly produced, first anniversary cash-in but it’s not: it’s lovingly complied with superb attention to detail and the fact that you can have it personalised with your name embossed on the front cover and have a bespoke dedication added inside makes it a covetable gift for any Bowie fan. It’s a fantastic read but a sad one in places too. Perhaps the most poignant piece comes from July 1982 when he was promoting The Hunger. “The Immortal David Bowie” says the headline. If only.

Historic Newspapers’ Personalised David Bowie Newspaper Book is available from historic-newspapers.co.uk, priced £69.99.

 

Historic Newspapers kindly provided a review copy of the book but did not sponsor this post in any way and all opinions are my own.

Take a voyage into darkness with Beaufort London’s Fathom V

fathom-v-1If there’s one thing that’s predictable about new launches from British fragrance house Beaufort London it’s their unpredictability. So, although the name of their latest creation, Fathom V, suggests something aquatic what’s delivered is far more unexpected  and intriguing.

Fathom V’s cleverness lies in its ability to take the concept of an aquatic fragrance and turn it on its head. Instead of following the bright and breezy, surf’s up approach that so many marine scents take, it plots an entirely different course, taking the wearer on a dark, foggy, Gothic adventure that conjures up images of dark, 17th century sea ports full of smugglers, ships with moss-covered hulls and illegally obtained barrels of spice. Sure, there’s a bitter sea saltiness to it but as a fragrance its predominantly earthy, mossy, green and aromatic in nature, with hints of crude oil, lilies and petrichor – the unique smell that rises off bone dry earthy soaked by rain. All in all it’s a delightfully complex, contradictory fragrance and one that I can imagine someone like Nick Cave wearing. For that reason alone I absolutely love it.

Fathom V is available now, priced £95 for 50ml eau de parfum, from beaufortlondon.com

 

Spice up your life with Comme des Garçons’ latest fragrance

COMME BLACK PEPPER 2As much as I love Comme des Garçons fragrances their last few offerings (Wonderwood, Amazingreen, Blue Santal) haven’t been ones I’d personally wear. So it’s exciting (not to mention somewhat of a relief) to discover that their latest one, Blackpepper, most definitely is. As a note, black pepper is somewhat ubiquitous in men’s fragrances these days but it’s normally tucked away so its presence rarely hits you like a vigorous twist of a pepper mill. In Blackpepper, however, you get a big old, nostril-tingling hit, tempered eventually by cedarwood (the other big note in this fragrance) which softens it beautifully. A touch of patchouli and a little tonka bean round the whole thing out, making Blackpepper, not just super-spicy, but surprisingly sexy too. One of my favourite launches of 2016.

Available exclusively at Selfridges until October and nationwide thereafter, priced £83 for 100ml eau de parfum. 

Elizabeth Arden’s City Smart – the ultimate urban defender

city smart (1)Living, as I do, in one of the busiest – not to mention most congested – capitals in the world I’m acutely aware of the potential damage that city living can inflict on skin. With new research suggesting that it’s not just sun damage that causes uneven pigmentation but pollution too, using products that shield skin against environmental aggressors has never been more important – especially if you’re a townie. Air pollutants called ambient particulate matter are a particular problem because they can trigger the production of harmful free radicals which cause all kinds of skin problems – from inflammation to premature ageing.

Thankfully, coming to the rescue is Elizabeth Arden‘s new PREVAGE City Smart – a product I’ve been using daily for a couple of weeks now. Designed with an invisible barrier that shields skin from pollution it also packs a broad spectrum SPF50 sunscreen and a raft of powerful antioxidants to give skin maximum protection against daily damage. On top of all that it also contains optical diffusers which enhance the appearance of skin too. At £55 for a 40ml tube, though, it’s possibly one city survival product you’ll need a job in the City to afford.

 

Exclusive: Oliver Sweeney launch second luxury fragrance – and it’s every bit as good as the first.

FullSizeRender 30You know how bands often struggle with that ‘difficult’ second album? Well, it happens in the fragrance industry too sometimes. After launching an eye-catching and original scent many companies pull back with their second launch, following an altogether safer, more pedestrian path. Not so Oliver Sweeney, who’ve successfully dodged the difficult second fragrance syndrome with their latest launch Bosco Selvatico. 

Created by Claudine Roublot – the same nose responsible for Sweeney’s first fragrance, Argento – it consciously distances itself from today’s homogenous, gourmandy mass-market offerings, starting off with a beautifully vibrant citrus burst of bergamot and lime before showing off a spicy, herbaceous side and finally revealing a beautifully warm, green, woody and slightly smoky finish that works so well on the skin you’d think it’s oozing from it rather than sitting on it.

FullSizeRender 31Like Argento (one of my favourite launches of 2015) Bosco Selvatico is uncompromising in the sense that it sits outside of current trends – which is very much to its benefit. A companion fragrance to its predecessor (it’s  a little more ‘daytime’ than Argento) it’s elegantly old-skool, reminding me of the way men used to smell before those sickly-sweet foody notes crept into almost everything and turned us into walking patisseries. Even its name, Bosco Selvatico, is uncompromising in a way. After all, how tempting must it have been to have called it by the English translation “Wild Wood” instead?

Reading through my fragrance reviews on this blog it’s tempting to conclude that I like very little and that I’m critical of almost everything that comes to market. I’m not, of course, but I know what I like and hope that those honest, critical reviews add weight to the ones where I genuinely rave about something. Bosco Selvatico is one of my favourite fragrance launches this year and is, without doubt, one of the best. Recommended.

Bosco Selvatico costs £99 for 100ml eau de parfum and is available from Oilver Sweeney stores and online at oliversweeney.com

 

Mr Porter’s 2016 Summer Grooming Kit lands

MR PORTER SUMMER GROOMING KIT (1)Grooming Boxes (collections of skin care and hair care products compiled as kits) are, at best, a bit hit and miss. Many I have encountered are skimpy, over-priced and badly curated. These are criticisms it’s impossible to level at Mr Porter‘s grooming boxes, however, because they’re by far the most artfully edited boxes out there. Their brand new Summer Grooming Kit, for example, features well-known brands like Clinique For Men, Tom Ford and Lab Series alongside cult ones like Bumble & Bumble, Czech & Speake and Baxter Of California and lesser known luxury brands like Patricks, which you may not have heard about but should definitely become acquainted with. All in all the kit features 13 full and travel-sized products (there’s a Perricone MD Cold Plasma sample which isn’t in the pic because I used it straight away) and costs £75. If that seems like a hefty initial outlay, consider this: the Clinique, Lab Series and REN products alone are worth £97. If you fancy getting your hands on one, though, don’t spend too long thinking about it – they tend to sell out faster than tickets to see Adele.

Mr Porter’s Summer Grooming Kit is available now from mrporter.com