For my Escentual column this week I have reviewed ‘Aqva Divina‘, the latest fragrance from jewellery makers, Bvlgari. I’ll say that this one was a definite surprise for me. Bvlgari’s most recent offerings have been a bit bog-standard – not bad, but not really noteworthy either. This one however, is really good (one of my faves for summer 2015, in fact). It’s a salty, marine floral a la Womanity, but more tropical and creamy white. Think of Aqva Divina as the Aphrodite to the Mugler’s Pink Terminator Cyborg. Anyway, if that suitably piques your interest, then click here to read my review.
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
For my Escentual column this week I’m taking a look at Cartier’s brand new ‘Légère‘ edition of their wonderful La Panthère fragrance. Created as a lighter, more radiant version of the original, Légère extends the feline signature of La Panthère’s musk and gardenia, taming the wild cat with the sweet, and tropical note of tiare. The result is a flanker that feels lighter, yes, but also warmer. La Panthère Eau de Parfum Légère glows, and it’s rather beautiful. Click here to read my review, and click here to read a conversation with Mathilde Laurent, Cartier’s in-house perfumer.
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!
I know it’s only March, but I’m going to go ahead and say that 2015 is turning out to be a very good year for perfume. There have been some strong launches, scent such as Annick Goutal’s L’Ile au Thé and Jo Malone’s Birch & Black Pepper, but there’s also been some outstandingly beautiful new things, things like Lalique’s unexpectedly striking Living Lalique, and of course, Jean-Claude Ellena’s latest offering for Hermes – Le Jardin de Monsieur Li. In a world where flankers run riot and ideas, and artistry for that matter, can seem to be in short supply at times, it is perfumes such as these that restore faith and act as reassurance that the perfume industry still has tricks up its sleeve.
One fragrance that really struck me as quite wonderful and innovative is Jo Malone’s Incense & Cedrat. Launching in June as part of the brand’s Cologne Intense collection, this Marie Salamagne-penned fragrance centers on Omani frankincense – an ancient ingredient that filters through every aspect of life within Oman. Frankincense is burned in the country for a whole heap of reasons, whether it be to simply scent a house, ward off mosquitoes, or even as an expression of sadness. It is as vital to the Omani way of life as it is wonderful to smell, and Incense & Cedrat presents an incredibly pleasing take on the note that is entirely respectful of its importance and natural beauty.
To launch the fragrance, Jo Malone transformed their (rather swanky) London town house into Oman for the day. Stepping over the threshold was a real experience. The air was thick with frankincense, the smoke of which permeated the plaster and thick carpet pile of this very British building, transporting one to a foreign land. Once inside, one could be forgiven for thinking they had just hot footed it off the plane straight on to the Arabian Peninsula. It was a door to another world. Thus is the theme for Incense & Cedrat – realism through a dash of perfumery magic.
Hermès have to be admired for their consistency. Since installing the inimitable Jean-Claude Ellena as their in-house perfumer (he is soon set to retire and step down from his post), the house has regularly turned out fascinating, beautiful and nature-inspired fragrances in a cohesive style. Ellena’s perfumes for Hermès are not grand dames or challenging experiments, they are landscape paintings in pastel-coloured chalks or water colours. Their transparency and weightlessness are what sets them apart from the crowd, and whilst they follow a distinct style, they never fall into the trap of being too similar. There is variety in this extensive oeuvre as well as beauty.
One of Hermès more popular collection of fragrances is the ‘Les Jardin’ series. The five fragrances from this series are designed as fragrant tales of lengthy strolls through glorious gardens in various locations around the globe. Whether they be set on a roof top in Paris or along the Nile in Egypt, these are transportive scents that fit somewhere between abstraction and reality. Their delicate and translucent style gives the impression that air from each location has simply been bottled, and as one sprays this scented oxygen, the garden comes to life right in front of their eyes (or should I say, ‘nose’).
For 2015, Hermès has launched ‘Le Jardin de Monsieur Li’. Following a visit it to China, Jean-Claude Ellena pieced together this imaginary idea of a Chinese garden, that is designed as a retreat – a contemplative place for the visitor to take solace in and seek tranquility, and peace. “We all have something in us of Mr Li” says Hermès, and we all need a safe haven to run off to when the stresses of life take hold – Le Jardin Monsieur Li is that very place, and in it one can seek both happiness and a true sense of calm.
Stella, Stella, Stella, how I love thee. It’s true, I do and as far as eponymous signature fragrances go, or woody roses for that matter, Stella is hard to beat. I’m also a bit biased because my sister wears it, but that aside, I’m fully committed to admitting that Stella McCartney’s debut fragrance is a good egg. With that in mind, I was very intrigued to road test the new Eau de Toilette version of Stella, not least because that spotty pink bottle is to die for, but also to see whether it was faithful to the original, and most importantly, whether it was at all necessary.
Stella Eau de Toilette is the centrepiece of my Escentual column this week, in which I sink my teeth into this new scent to ascertain whether it is just ‘Stella Light’ (that sounds like a beer, doesn’t it?) or whether it is something different altogether. To read my review, and the results of this highly scientific analysis, simply click here to head on over to Escentual. If you’ve tried the EdT, or you simply a fan of the original, do please leave a comment either here or there – I’d love to hear your thoughts!