What do you get when to you take Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Mâle to the gym and tell him to avoid manscaping for a few weeks? Well, you get Ultra Mâle, that’s what. Ultra Mâle is the latest incarnation of Gaultier’s beautifully buffed sailor boy, and this time our beloved seafarer has gone rogue. Launched to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Le Mâle, and created by the perfumer Francis Kurkdjian (the same dude behind the original) Ultra Mâle brings the (timeless) barbershop fougére bang up to date and places it in a more oriental setting, and a thoroughly rugged one at that. To read my full review on Escentual, simply click here!
An army of amorous brides chase a practically terrified Jon Kortajarena through city streets in the advert for Guerlain’s latest fragrance, L’Homme Idéal Cologne, and who can blame them? After all, Kortajarena isn’t exactly harsh on the eyes now, is he? But these ladies (who are all Guerlain employees, FYI, and include a few Guerlain gents in the mix too because marriage equality is real, people) aren’t really chasing the handsome model, they are after the ideal husband and, more importantly, his fragrance.
With last year’s L’Homme Idéal, Guerlain presented their idea of the ideal man – a cheeky yet suave woody gourmand that boasted more than a small nod to the house’s extremely successful La Petite Robe Noire. This time around, and for L’Homme Ideal’s first flanker, that naughty little scamp of a man has grown up a bit, gone on a diet and switched out his black tux for white linen. The result is a lighter version of the original that still maintains the almond signature that is integral to ‘L’Homme Idéal’. Click here to check out my review over at Escentual.
Thierry Mugler’s annual reimagining of their flagship masculine fragrance, A*Men (the counterpart to the iconic Angel) is pretty much a tradition at this point. Each and every year the brand treats us to the signature of Angel Men zhuzzed up into something new and exciting. So far, we’ve seen our mate, A*Men; smoke tobacco (Pure Havane), drink whisky (Pure Malt), chase some chilli (A*Men Le Goût du Parfum) and even dabble in the world of lumberjackery (Pure Wood). The A*Men family is made up of a bunch of fraternal twins that all have a different sense of style – and what a great bunch they are.
For 2015, Mugler is doing something a little bit different with A*Men by putting it into a citrus setting. The bottle has been dyed a fabulous shade of neon orange, as has the fragrance for that matter. This new edition (penned by Jacques Huclier and Quentin Bisch) is entitled A*Men Ultra Zest, and as the name would suggest, it focuses on an array of mouthwatering citrus notes to accentuate A*Men’s cosmic cocktail of gourmand treats. Unlike many other citrus fragrances, Ultra Zest is bold and daring. What else could we expect from Mugler?
“A*Men brings you a new twist on the original: Ultra Zest. Shaken, not stirred, this new male fragrance will tantalise the senses as it burst with fresh, citrus, spicy and woody notes. This refreshing cocktail dares you to stand out from the crowd, be bold and go where most won’t dare to go”
– Thierry Mugler
Legends are born and not made, they say, but when it comes to perfume the icons of scent are most definitely crafted by someone, somewhere. Whether they become a classic or not however, is solely down to time, popularity and more often than not, quality. We may say something is iconic upon launch, but only when a scent has spent time circulating the necks and wrists of the perfume-hungry public, can one tell whether it is destined to survive or not. Many do not.
I speak of iconic fragrances because luxury goods brand, Dunhill’s latest launch, the optimistically named ‘ICON‘, is being positioned as a “signature masculine scent” for the brand and courts with the idea of being a modern classic within the genre. Created by perfumer Carlos Benaïm (click here to read my recent interview with Carlos re ICON) in conjunction with Dunhill’s Creative Director, John Ray, ICON is designed to portray “an integrally refined style that reflects the dunhill ethos of a self-assured, sophisticated urban gentleman”, capturing the ethos of the brand and the man who partakes in its offerings. Does that make the scent iconic? Only time will tell!
When it comes to perfume, Tom Ford knows what he’s doing. Not that he doesn’t know what he’s doing in the worlds of fashion and film, mind – he definitely seems pretty good in those fields too, but with perfume it is undeniable that he is a man of extraordinary style and taste. Since the launch of his flagship fragrance, Black Orchid, in 2006, Ford has crafted himself a fragrant empire that has seen the creation of over 50 fragrances. His output is prolific, varied, grand, opulent and fascinating, courting with true luxury through his unique aesthetic. Everything he does is unmistakably ‘Tom Ford’ and therefore, also pretty darn good.
Tom Ford’s fragrance line consists of two collections; the Private Blends and the Signature Collection, the latter of which showcases a more accessible range of masculine and feminine fragrances in that inimitable Tom Ford style. What strikes me as particularly intriguing about the Signature Collection is the excellent quality of the masculine offerings. When fragrances for men are so often dull, tired and unpleasant, Tom Ford’s act as a refreshing surprise that can restore one’s faith in fragrant humanity. They are handsome, stylish, classic and modern, as all masculine fragrances should be.
My favourite of Ford’s masculine fragrances is Noir – a plush, resinous and powdery scent that bears a striking resemblance to the style of the Guerlain classics, but with a modern twist. In a world of ‘fresh this’ and ‘sport that’, Noir is a bastion of hope for those that demand more from their masculine fragrance. Because it is such a breath of fresh air (not literally), Noir has deservedly been very popular, and for 2015 Tom Ford is launching a brand new interpretation of the fragrance (joining the original Eau de Parfum and Eau de Toilette), entitled ‘Noir Extreme’ – a new chapter in the Noir story that “reveals a new dimension of the “Noir Man”.
A few weeks back I slapped on some of Tom Ford’s Grey Vetiver (the Eau de Parfum) and commented on my instragram, that “when in doubt, go for vetiver”. A flippant comment for sure, but it is one that seems to ring true, and let’s face it: you really can’t go wrong with vetiver. Vetiver, a fragrant perennial grass native to India, is so successful as a perfume ingredient because it is so distinct – there isn’t really much else that smells like it. Of course, being distinct does mean that it is less versatile as a note than some others (rose, for example), but many perfumers have found interesting ways to utilise the ingredient as a main feature or a supporting act. I like vetiver very much and when one is in the mood for something clean, sharp and dashingly dapper, there’s not much else that can beat it.
There are many excellent vetiver fragrances out there, many of which are aimed predominately at men. Classics such as Guerlain’s Vetiver (Jean-Paul Guerlain; 1961) immediately spring to mind, but one can’t ignore wonderful modern interpretations such as the aforementioned Grey Vetiver (Harry Fremont; 2009), Etat Libre d’Orange’s Fat Electrician (Antoine Maisondieu; 2009), Lalique’s Encre Noire (Nathalie Lorson; 2006) and Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle’s Vétiver Extraordinaire (Dominique Ropion; 2002), to name but a few. Each one does something entirely different with this incredibly familiar note, whether it be amping it up to the armpit-like spice of the Malle or pairing it with gorgeously creamy and smoky resins as the Etat Libre d’Orange does. Vetiver may not be a shape-shifting material, but it certainly does have an element of range.
One vetiver that doesn’t get a huge amount of press is Carven’s. Now, this may be due to the fact that it has been in and out of production since its launch in 1957, but now its back and should be considered as a serious contender for any vetiver afficiando. Housed within a new and gorgeously modern bottle, coloured with the most attractive shade of green Carven’s Vétiver, is that rare thing – a casual vetiver. This is not a vetiver fragrance to be worn with a sharp suit or a crisp white shirt, no, no, no. This is a vetiver to pair with a chunky piece of knitwear in muted, earth tones. It’s a relaxed vetiver to cuddle up with – to explore softly and quietly – a vetiver that salutes introspection rather than attention seeking ostentation.
“Rather than the lover of the Carven Woman, the Carven Man is a brother and a soul mate.”
The above quote from the press release for Carven’s brand new masculine fragrance, ‘Carven Pour Homme‘ struck me as quite refreshing. So often, us gents are marketed fragrances on their ability to attract the opposite sex (a strategy that weirdly doesn’t work for me – I wonder why), positioning the wearer as an object of physical attraction rather than a kindred spirit. Carven, whose fashion and fragrance lines have recently been revived, appear to want to do something different.
Carven further describe their man as “a handsome face; even better, an interesting face of undeniable strength and gentleness, calm and determination” – a guy that they can envisage “strolling with a book of poetry in hand, rowing swiftly on the Seine, [and] sipping a coffee on the terrace of a Paris café”. This romanticised notion of the modern man is a break from the steroid pumped, oily chested and fastidiously preened berk one is so used to seeing in perfume advertisements, and for that reason, he sounds rather wonderful indeed.
Penned by perfumers Francis Kurkdjian (Le Mâle, Carven Le Parfum & the Maison Francis Kurkdjian line) and Patricia Choux (Jo Malone Blue Agava & Cacao and Clive Christian X for Women), Carven Pour Homme is the first masculine fragrance from the brand since its relaunch. Positioned as a signature scent for the house, the scent is described as “the very essence of Carven style in a masculine mode” and has been created as an everyday item that intends to be an essential piece in the Carven wardrobe. Carven Pour Homme is a fragrance created in the relaxed and comfortable style of Guillaume Henry, who is now the former Artistic Director of the brand (now at Nina Ricci), and it fits perfectly.