Penhaligon’s, the eccentrically British perfume house, is a curious outfit. Their historic back catalogue of perfumes is full of straight-laced florals, robustly masculine eau de toilettes and even some exotic follies. Over the last few years however, the brand has made a definite move away from the stiff upper lift of the past and have released a bunch of quirky fragrances that range from filthy florals that can only be worn after the watershed (Amaranthine) to contemporary takes on traditional themes (Sartorial). They’ve even flirted with the British’ love of gin cocktails (Juniper Sling) and have pushed the olfactory envelope to dizzying heights with the bizarre and whimsical (Tralala).
So yes, Penhaligon’s have modernised and funked-up their image of late, but they’re not afraid to return to their traditional roots – and that’s exactly what they’ve done with their latest masculine fragrance ‘Bayolea‘. Created as a reformulation of a bay rhum fragrance from the Penhaligon’s archives, Bayolea has been chosen to scent the brand’s new, and rather extensive grooming range, as well as front the collection in its Eau de Toilette form. Without giving too much away at this stage, it would be safe for me to say that Bayolea is an impeccably well-groomed fragrance that feels perfectly suited to any gent – modern, traditional or otherwise.
New brand, Alford & Hoff have launched their first perfume, ‘Alford & Hoff Eau de Toilette‘ exclusively to Harrods. Created by “gifted athletes”, Barry Alford and Jefferson Hoffman, the Alford & Hoff brand is directed at a “new generation of men” and includes both fragrance and a line of skin care products (currently available in the US) consisting of the “highest quality ingredients”.
The fragrance was created by venerable Givaudan perfumer, Rodrigo Flores-Roux (Neroli Portofino, Boutonierre no.7 and Black Cashmere), andis a fresh-woody fragrance described as being “confident, passionate, stylish, successful, masculine in a modern way”. It is the brand’s signature fragrance and reportedly contains “95 of the finest ingredients.”
“A juxtaposition of light and dark, clarity and richness, texture and polish, Alford & Hoff EDT is a modern scent, luxurious and fresh on top, smooth with an ultra-sexy core and deep, rich woody background.”
I may be a bit behind on the Amouage-front, but I still cannot believe that the time has come (and now passed) for the house to launch their annual pair of fragrances. Last year’s duo, Fate Woman and Fate Man, were definitely a divisive pair, with some perfume lovers falling madly in love with the scents and others finding themselves not too impressed. My feelings were somewhere in the middle of this spectrum, seeing them as high quality outings, but perhaps not the most stimulating offerings from such a dynamic brand.
This year Amouage is launching Journey Woman and Journey Man, two perfumes inspired by “Shanghai deco, Chinese cinema and film noir” and for the first time, housed in striking two-tone bottles of rich red and gold. These new fragrances mark the end of the first cycle of the Amouage narrative and as much as they smell like Amouage fragrances, they don’t appear to be as noticeably bold as the perfumes that have proceeded them.
Journey Woman and Journey Man mark a change in the Amouage aesthetic, not only with the two-toned bottles, but also with their fragrant signatures, both of which are unusual takes on the house’s staple oriental opulence. With this new duo, Amouage moves forward into unchartered territory, speaking in the language of subtlety and scenting the air with an understated sense of panache.
“Mirror Image” – féminin Pluriel & masculin Pluriel by Maison Francis Kurkdjian
“Perfume is not art.”
- Francis Kurkdjian
At the recent launch event for Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s latest duo of fragrances there was a lot of discussion around art and its relation to the world of perfume. Kurkdjian, who is ever a frank and fascinating speaker, asserted that perfume is not art because it is created to please consumers and where art is given a value by the market, perfume prices are set by their creators. This isn’t to say that Kurkdjian is belittling perfume by any means, in fact it seems that he takes a purely practical view of the subject, comparing his collection to an olfactory wardrobe, containing a plethora of pieces ranging from the everyday staple of the white T-Shirt (Aqua Universalis) to the more occasionally worn leather trousers (Absolue Pour le Soir).
Also at the event, Art Curator, Karine Giannamore spoke at length about what constitutes a masterpiece, piecing together simplicity, hard work, innovation and emotion, as the key ingredients that create a timeless work of art. Giannamore states that a masterpiece “has to be new [and] has to be original” but also must be “cemented in tradition”. This collision of the innovative and the traditional is exactly what Francis Kurkdjian has played with for his two new fragrances – féminin Pluriel and masculin Pluriel.
“What makes a work of art? A masterpiece? A Timeless work of art? Something so good or beautiful that it cannot be affected by changes in society or fashion.”
- Karine Giannamore
The Pluriel (Plural) duo has been created as a mirror image – two fragrances that perfectly capture the essence of femininity and masculinity, or as the brand puts it; “the eternal feminine and masculine.” With each fragrance, Kurkdjian takes a traditional theme and adds a contemporary twist to create a pair of perfumes that feel thoroughly modern and very much in keeping with his clear and radiant style. For féminin Pluriel and masculin Pluriel, Kurkdjian has crafted two new pieces for his olfactory wardrobe – two fragrant garments that are as modern, chic, timeless and elegant as anything a couturier could construct.
I don’t wear masculine fragrances that often but when I do, I like to think that I choose pretty well. One of my all-time favourites is Terre d’Hermès, a glorious olfactory representation of orange-coloured earth created by master perfumer (and Hermès’ nose-in-residence) Jean-Claude Ellena. I’m not the only one to love it either and since its launch way back in 2006 this most modern masculine fragrance has become a cult perfume amongst fragrance lovers and general consumers of the male species alike.
Hermès is a house that is always respectful of its heritage and unlike many brands they have resisted the urge to dilute the Terre d’Hermès signature by releasing flanker-upon-flanker and including the subject of this review they have only revisited the fragrance twice to launch new interpretations, one of which was simply a Parfum concentration. So it’s safe to say that when Hermès do ‘mess’ with their line of fragrances, they do so in a respectful and tasteful manner.
Which leads me nicely on to my subject of today, ‘Terre d’Hermès Eau TrèsFraîche’ -the latest fragrance in the Terre d’Hermès lineup and a perfume that is billed as a “new crossing of the elements” where the water, sky and earth all meet. It pays homage to Terre d’Hermès but instead of capturing the idea of dry earth, it intends to create the vision of water springing from the soil in a lighter, more lively and refreshing rendition of Jean-Claude Ellena’s phenomenal and undeniably classic masculine.
“Terre d’Hermès Eau Très Fraîche is a dot above an i. The line is the man on earth, the dot is his spirit. Inseperable.”
I think it’s no secret thatDior Homme is one of my favourite masculine fragrances and my love for it is possibly due to the fact that it isn’t particularly ‘manly’ in the traditional sense of the word. Using a strong and powdery iris note that is reminiscent of old make up bags, Dior (and more specifically, perfumer Olivier Polge) created a perfume that celebrates the modern man who is in touch with his feminine side. It is nothing short of a masterpiece and easily one of the greatest masculine fragrances of our time.
For 2014, Dior have launched Dior Homme Eau for Men, a lighter and more urban interpretation of the original. What’s interesting about this new Eau de Toilette is that it manages to be lighter in concentration and in character without dumbing down the olfactory profile of its forbearer. If you would like to read my full thoughts on the new launch, please click here to head on over to Escentual. Let me know what you think of the scent whilst you’re there!
Blue is the colour that is most likely to send perfume lovers into a fit of fragrant fear. It is, after all, the hue that is ultimately associated with thousands of dodgy aquatic and oceanic fragrances that populate the plentiful shelves of one’s local department stores. These scents sell by the bucket load and more often than not they play to the lowest common denominator, evoking a sense of cleanliness and not much else.
But that isn’t always the case and there are a number of notable occasions where a perfumer or brand has taken the idea of ‘blue’ and done something intriguing with it. One particular standout is Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s superlative OUD (a perfume that I officially refuse to stop banging on about because it is just so mighty good), an oud that is unlike no other and cast in a wonderful shade of cerulean. So yes, blue isn’t necessarily all bad.
For 2014 the houses of Lalique and Bentley are launching blue-themed flankers for two of their masculine fragrances. Lalique are presenting Hommage à l’Homme Voyageur, a follow-up to 2011’s Hommage à l’Homme and an ode to “the art of travel” inspired by the “sumptuous decor” designed by René Lalique for the luxurious liner – the Normandie. British car manufacturer, Bentley, on the other hand, are launching Bentley For Men Azure, a flanker to last year’s Bentley For Men that “appeals to sporty, smart and style conscious men.”
One of these blue masculines is a wonderfully crafted take on ashen spices, that feels utterly smart and luxurious (and has this blogger completely and utterly hooked, FYI) whereas the other isn’t much more than a typically cobalt execution of a fresh aquatic masculine with a hint of something salty-fresh for added measure. Have you guessed which is which yet?
When a designer house launches a new masculine fragrance I tend to find myself preparing for disappointment. This isn’t always the case (after all, there are lots of fab designer masculines out there), but in a vast number of situations it would be fair to say that the perfumes aren’t really thinking outside the box enough to be considered as worthwhile, especially when compared to their female counterparts.
Sometimes however, a new masculine will come along that does impress and ‘Uomo’, the latest launch from Valentino, is one such fragrance. Taking one or two cues from Dior Homme, Uomo is an effortlessly stylish fragrance that is as soft as it is handsome. For my Escentual column this week I’ve taken a closer look at this new scent from Valentino and in addition to my review, Escentual will be giving away 6 bottles! To read my review and to enter the competition (please refer to the Escentual T&Cs as listed in the piece) please click here.
DIOR seem to be in a phase of reinvention at the moment, having revamped a significant number of their classics. Over the last few years they have introduced a fair degree of flankers (reinterpretations) of some of their most iconic scents and for 2014 they have launched both Hypnotic Poison (see my review here) and Fahrenheit in richer and more intense concentrations.
Few masculine fragrances are more iconic than DIOR’s 1988 scent Fahrenheit and this new concentration – Fahrenheit Le Parfum – is a worthy purveyor of the name. For Le Parfum, the original’s blend of fresh greens and off-kilter tar has been expertly tinkered with by DIOR’s in-house perfumer Francois Demachy to create a more up-to-date and warmer version of Fahrenheit. Click here to head on over to Escentual and read my review.
In a continuation of my bite size fragrance family guides on Escentual, my column this week takes a look at the dapper, debonair and definitely manly world of the fern-esque Fougère. Despite my love for all things feminine, floral and ridiculously over-the-top I do happen to quite like a good Fougère, whether it be something as abstract as Guerlain’s Jicky or a scent as handsome as Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fleur du Mâle. In my world the Fougère is the best kind of masculine.
This Guide to Fougère takes a whistle stop tour of the genre, taking a look at three key examples; one classic, one modern and one contemporary. Amongst these interpretations one will find something elegant, something rebellious and something altogether more brooding. If you fancy reading the piece (and topping up on your Fougère fix) please click here to head on over to Escentual. Don’t forget to let me know what your favourite Fougères are whilst you’re there!