Celebrity fragrances (or ‘celebuscents’ as I like to call them) are so often the scorn of the perfume industry. Mainly because most are simply extra vehicles for our dear ‘celebrities’, a term which must be used loosely for a lot of the stars releasing perfumes these days, to make extra cash. After all, what’s easier than putting your name on a bottle of something you’ve had little involvement in creating?
But not all celebrities are in it for a quick buck and over the years we’ve seen a number of good celebuscents join the foray. Etat Libre d’Orange’s collaborations with the weird and wonderful Tilda Swinton and Rossy de Palma are notable examples, Madonna’s Truth or Dare was nicely done and even Britney Spears’ Fantasy has a degree of merit to it (I dare you to disagree that it is the perfect fruity floral cupcake scent). And then of course there is Dita Von Teese – the antidote to the world of naff celebrity scents and Dr. C. Perfume Boy is prescribing two big doses today.
Dita came to the rescue with her first perfume ‘Dita Von Teese‘ (sometimes referred to as ‘Femme Totale’) in 2012, a perfectly decent floral-patchouli affair that puts most of its contemporaries to shame. We shouldn’t be surprised though, as Dita is known for exuding glamour and style, and her perfumes certainly follow suit. This year sees the launch of Dita’s third and fourth perfumes – FleurTeese and Erotique, both of which show the Queen of Burlesque’s passion for fragrance
I’m on a Serge Lutens kick at the moment, which is funny considering that I was considerably late to the Lutens party and it took me quite some time to ‘get’ the brand’s aesthetic. This is due in part to the fact that much of what Uncle Serge puts out is truly hedonistic and oriental, and can often feel thick and oppressive. This style is attractive to many but for years I failed to see the beauty amongst the spices, resins and balsams.
Unsurprisingly, it was the florals (specifically the incandescent Fleurs d’Oranger) within Lutens’ stable that served as a gateway to understanding perfume’s most highly respected, reclusive and artistic individual. But why the florals? What does Lutens do to nature’s blooms that others don’t? What does he see amongst the petals, the stems and the pollen that many perfumers and creative directors cannot?
The answer is simple – Serge Lutens sees the darker side of flowers and he’s not afraid to present the beautiful amongst the downright terrifying. Within his exclusive collection of fragrances housed inside his Palais Royal shop in Paris (a purple-tinted perfume Mecca), Lutens has three of the most deadly, carnivorous and fatal florals ever to have graced the noses of the human species, they are; the maniacal tuberose - Tubéreuse Criminelle, the viper jasmine - Sarrasins and the ghostly iris - Iris Silver Mist.
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.
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.
In case you hadn’t noticed it is officially the month of Movember (yes I’m going to continue to bang on about it) and for the next four weeks The Candy Perfume Boy will be undergoing a masculine takeover. We’ll be looking at some new masculine scents as well as some of my personal go-to gentleman’s fragrances, whilst on Escentual I’ll be running a series of ‘Movember Masculines’ – taking a look at some of the best men’s fragrances on the market.
The first instalment in these moustachey masculines is a review of Guerlain’s Habit Rouge (the EDT) - a perfume that needs little introduction. To me, this particular man-scent is incredibly versatile and works as well on an equestrian in full livery as it does on a hip, leather jacket wearing man of today. Please click on the image above to head on over Escentual and read my thoughts on one of Guerlain’s very best fragrances.
Tom Ford has a thing for oud. He is reputed to have been the first person to popularise and bring the ingredient (albeit a decent synthetic rather than real thing) to mainstream perfumery with Yves Saint Laurent’s impressive M7 in 2002. Since then he has remained relatively active on the oud front, releasing the equally impressive Oud Wood (a robustly woody oud for western tastes) as part of his initial onslaught of Private Blends way back in 2007.
Cut to 2013 and Mr Ford is once again throwing his hat into the somewhat overcrowded oud ring with The Private Blend Oud Collection. The collection sees the repackaging of Tom Ford’s immensely popular Oud Wood in addition to the release of two brand new fragrances, each displaying a unique and entirely TomFordian take on the most intensely addictive (and definitely over exposed) of aromas.
“I have wanted to revisit oud for years; it is one of the most endlessly fascinating ingredients in a perfumer’s palette. For this collection, I explored how oud could intertwine with other precious ingredients from the rich and storied culture and artisanal traditions of the Middle East”
- Tom Ford
The two new perfumes are Tobacco Oud and Oud Fleur. The former is inspired by Dokha, “a blend of herbs, flowers and spice-laden tobacco that was smoked in secret five centuries ago during a ban on smoking” and is suitably tobacco-filled. Oud Fleur is somewhat more difficult to pin down, and presents a slightly more individual take on the note. Between the two of them however, these two new fragrances show that when it comes to oud, Tom Ford is a significant cut above the rest. Continue reading →
Nowadays every perfume release comes with a story, normally one that involves a good degree of creative license courtesy of the brand’s PR department. This is no bad thing really, a good story can add to the experience of a scent, after all no art is quite as transportive as the art of olfaction, but at times it’s best to approach a perfume without any pre-conceived notions and just allow the scent itself to tell the story.
Some stories in particular are important and the tale behind Mona di Orio’s latest release – ‘Violette Fumée‘ – is both worth telling and incredibly touching. Created privately by Mona di Orio before her death for the private use of her business partner and co-founder Jeroen Oude Sogtoen, Violette Fumée captures “the melody of Jeroen’s favourite passions, memories and materials.” It’s a perfume made out of love, admiration and respect.
On an olfactory level, Violette Fumée is described by the brand as an “oriental balsamic floral” and in the same vein as many other perfumes from the house it feels incredibly unusual when compared to its peers. It stands as a true testament to Mona’s talent as a perfumer and is a fitting legacy for someone who brought so much intrigue to the world of fragrance.
Last year Tom Ford released his third signature masculine fragrance under the very Tom Ford-esque moniker ‘Noir‘. This Eau de Parfum was one of 2012′s more impressive launches, so splendid it was in fact that it won a Candy (my annual awards) for Best Mainstream Masculine, beating out the likes of Viktor & Rolf’s Spicebomb and Guerlain’s Homme L’Eau Boisée.
New for 2013 is the Noir Eau de Toilette, a lighter and fresher version of the Noir signature. Tom Ford describes it as being ”inspired by a mysterious duality of elegance and sensuality” and as far as masculine fragrances go it definitely feels elegant enough to fulfill the smart, suit-clad aesthetic of the brand, albeit in a much more ‘dressed-down’ manner.
“An oriental, sensual fragrance that captures the twin facets of the Tom Ford man; the refined, urbane sophisticate who the world gets to see and the intriguingly sensuous, private man they don’t.”
Where Noir Eau de Parfum is a contemporary and masculine take on Guerlain’s flagship fragrance Shalimar, the Eau de Toilette is more akin to a ‘légère’ or ‘light’ version. To put it another way, the EDP is best worn with a super-smart suit (or trench coat and massive scarf) and the EDT is more suited for a clean white shirt and chinos – its the difference between day and night.