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!
CK x 3: CK One for Her, for Him and Endless Euphoria
No perfume brand is quite as prolific as Calvin Klein. Since their first perfume in 1978 they have launched an impressive 89 fragrances (according to the Basenotes directory) and I’m pretty sure that there are a number of stealthy flankers that make that number possibly even higher. The truth is that, due to being the purveyor of a number of iconic scents, CK do love a good flanker to capitalise on their already existing brands, and who can blame them? Surely it’s easier to make a billion and one versions of CK One than it is to think of a decent name for a new scent (*cough*Downtown*cough*)…
So this year sees the launch of more flankers from Calvin Klein. The first is a duo of scents bestowing the CK One name – CK One Red for Her and Red for Him. These rouge editions of the iconic unisex fragrance are “inspired by the atmosphere of a party, which pulsates with super-charged, untameable energy”  which all sounds like good fun but at this present moment in time I’m still unsure where the ‘red’ element comes into it, especially as the fragrances are as devoid of the colour as the marketing spiel.
The third new scent is Endless Euphoria, the latest flanker to Calvin Klein’s Cloverfield monster of fragrance – Euphoria (2005). Following Euphoria Blossom (2006) and Forbidden Euphoria (2011), Endless is billed as a fragrance that translates the provocative fantasy of the iconic Euphoria into sheer uplifting sensuality”  and it certainly follows suit as a much lighter (so much lighter), more transparent and pastel coloured version of the original.
Tis the last day of Movember and so ends a month of mighty moustache cultivation and manly celebrations. More importantly than the mo-growing and showcasing of masculine fragrances however, is the money raised for an important cause that supports the research and awareness of men’s health issues. This month I have raised £207 for Movember and my team – #TeamPenhaligons – have raised a staggering £2,000, with the total continuing to rise. [On that note, should you wish to make a donation, please do so here]
In tribute to my awesome Mo Bros and Mo Sisters in #TeamPenhaligons and as a final nod to the masculine fragrances of Movember, today I’m reviewing one of my favourite masculine scents from Penhaligon’s, the most quintessentially British of perfume brands. That scent is Extract of Limes, andwhilst it technically counts as a unisex scent (I’m allowed to cheat a little) I definitely feel that it is one of Penhaligon’s most enjoyable fragrances and is a great scent for dapper and fashionable gents to wear.
Originally launched in 1963 and currently residing within Penhaligon’s Anthology Collection, Extract of Limes is a fusion of mouthwatering citrus and clean floral notes that is both bracing and surprisingly contemporary. Having been resurrected in 2009 by perfumer Mike Parrott, this lime-centric scent is one of the more overlooked scents in the brand’s stable, but it’s also one of the most delectable and is very much worth a sniff for anyone who wants a unique citrus fragrance.
So Movember comes to an end and as another week of mo-growing passes my column over at Escentual takes a lot at another important masculine fragrance that represents just one facet of the modern man. This week’s scent is Dior Homme, a scent that many readers will be familiar with and whilst it may seem like an obvious choice, due in part to its high critical acclaim, it is most definitely worthy of the spotlight.
Dior Homme represents the sensitive man of today. It’s a highly stylish fragrance that speaks of well-groomed and sharply dressed young chaps, but it is by no means a vapid fashion scent for the masses. The softness of feminine notes makes Homme a truly interesting and comfortable fragrance amongst a sea of dull aquatics and faux-wood affairs. It is simply remarkable. Do click on the image above to read this week’s column.
In addition to this, for the very final week I’ve taken a look at the more contemporary and more than a little bit unusual ‘Fat Electrician’by Etat Libre d’Orange. This is a John Waters, pencil-thin moustache of a fragrance and is also one of the most intriguing vetivers one can buy. Please click on the image just below the jump to view.
It was only a few weeks ago that I was moaning on Twitter about the lack of decent niche masculines this year, remarking that there has been fluffing tons of beautiful, wonderful and masterful feminine and unisex fragrances in 2013 but very few impressive things on the male side of the fence. Perhaps creating decent perfumes for men is less of a priority for perfume companies nowadays. Who knows?
So yes, I was having a moan when the ever-knowledgeable Nick Gilbert said that I absolutely had to try (I’m paraphrasing, of course) the latest fragrance from Huitième Art – ‘Monsieur‘. Knowing that any recommendation from M. Gilbert is worth listening to I trotted off to Les Senteurs, one of my favourite perfume boutiques, to procure a sample of the latest scent from perfumer Pierre Guillaume.
Monsieur is billed as a “harmonious blend of eight woody notes” and is inspired by the Massif de Bois Noirs, where “torrents and waterfalls from Auvergne’s mountains carry along scents of moss, bark, wood, earth, humus and stone”. What one finds with Monsieur, is that it is a fragrance that is not afraid to be bold and whilst it may not be the most unique interpretation of woods, it does showcase an interesting sense of balance that is something entirely new.
Seeing as it the very last week of Movember, a month in which we celebrate all aspects of masculinity, it’s only fair that we also take time to look at some pretty epic masculine fragrances. Over the course of the month I’ve been featuring classic masculine scents on Escentual, but this week I’d like to focus on two new and very well executed fragrances for 2013 – one designer and one ‘niche’ – starting with the newly launched Bottega Veneta Pour Homme.
The astute amongst you will know that Bottega Veneta have already proved that they take the world of perfume seriously with their debut feminine fragrance launch of the same name. The feminine was a masterfully composed (if perhaps a little too whispery) ode to the leather goods for which the brand is famous for and it appears that its masculine counterpart has been subject to the same degree of thought and quality control.
Created by perfumers Daniela Andrier (Prada’s Infusion d’Iris, Candy and basically everything else good they’ve done) and Antoine Maisondieu (Etat Libre d’Orange’s Fat Electrician and Comme des Garçons Stephen Jones), Bottega Veneta Pour Homme feels very much like an extension of the luxury leather feel of the feminine Eau de Parfum but in a more outdoorsy, nature-filled and relaxed manner.
Movember Masculines Part 2 – Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent
When picking the four scents for my ‘Movember Masculines’ series at Escentual, I knew that I simply had to include something from Yves Saint Laurent. This house, which is a shadow of its former glory for sure, is responsible for three of the most exceptional masculine fragrances out there – Kouros, M7 and Rive Gauche Pour Homme – and when it came to choosing the most iconic of this impressive bunch, Monsieur Kouros was difficult to ignore.
So this week I’ve taken a look at one of the most distinct, unique and divisive masculine scents one can buy. To add to that, Kouros is also one of the most unashamedly manly, conjuring up images of overly-tanned and smooth-chested lotharios who are as exuberant as they are audacious. Kouros is the king of the ’80s, and whilst he may seem a little bit dated now, he still reigns supreme.