Café Noir – Tom Ford Noir Extreme Perfume Review

The Ever-Dapper Mr. Ford

The Ever-Dapper Mr. Ford

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”.

Continue reading

Smelly News: ODOU Kickstarts Issue Four

“It is a unique magazine; there are no other publications that explore the sense of smell alone.”

- Liam Moore

ODOU, the magazine dedicated to the world of smell and fragrance, has taken to kickstarter to help launch its fourth issue. The brainchild of Liam Moore, ODOU explores smell through poetry, photography, personal stories and interviews, just to name a few of its mediums, and is already gaining a massive following. Last year, the magazine won the much-coveted Jasmine Literary Award, and this year it has gained no less than six nominations (requesting permission to brag – including an article of mine in issue three) – and that’s all by the third issue. ODOU has got off to an impressive start, for sure.

I’ve had the privilege of writing for ODOU and I have faith that issue four will be just as fascinating and moving as the first three. I will definitely be backing the kickstarter, not only because I think it will be a success, but because there is nothing quite like it on the market. This magazine beautifully outlays some of the best olfactory content out there, in a way that nobody else does. It deserves to be huge. For more info on ODOU and Liam’s crowdfunding, or to back the project, click here to visit the magazine’s kickstarter page. Also, for a quote from Liam re the project, just head below the jump.

Continue reading

A Galaxy of Stars – Mugler’s New ‘Gravity Star’ and a Retrospective of Angel Flacons

The New Angel 'Gravity Star' from Thierry Mugler

The New Angel ‘Gravity Star’ from Thierry Mugler

For 2015, the intergalactic perfumery of renegade fashion house, Thierry Mugler is launching a brand new star into the celestial wardrobe of their flagship fragrance, Angel. Dubbed the ‘Gravity Star’, this new 75ml refillable flacon has been designed by Mugler’s Artistic Directors, Virginie Delpeuc’h & Stéphanie Calvi, as a “three-dimensional star that captures light with its countless facets”. Most intriguingly, the flacon has been created with no ‘true bottom’, meaning that it can be placed on any one of its faceted sides.

As with all things Mugler, the Gravity Star is beautiful and multi-faceted, changing its form depending on which side it is laid. The asymmetry is remarkable, resulting in Mugler’s most abstract execution of the classic star to date. Faceted like a jewel, the Gravity Star is a luxurious objet d’art that takes Angel far into the future, via the medium of a sharp and angular starburst. The whole thing is incredibly and faithfully ‘Mugler’ from head to toe, and I’d even go as far as saying that it’s one of the best guises we’ve seen our beloved Angel wear. It’s simply stunning.

The Gravity Star is yet another example of excellent craftsmanship from the House of Mugler. Since Angel launched in 1992, the fragrance has been housed within a spetacular array or dazzling stars, ranging from classics such as the ‘Nomad Star’ to the alien purple tones of the ‘Etoile Mystique’. Presentation has always been a key part of the fragrance’s success, and to celebrate this latest instalment in the galaxy of Angel stars, I’ve compiled a retrospective of Mugler’s etoile flacons, in a handy slideshow. So, without further ado, please prepare your vessels for hyper drive and get set to jump below the, err, jump for our tour of the Angel galaxy.

Continue reading

New Escentual Post: Roses, Chocolate & Plushies for Mother’s Day

Some Fragrant Alternatives to Real Roses, Chocolates and Plushies

Some Fragrant Alternatives to Real Roses, Chocolates and Plushies

It’s Mother’s Day in the UK this Sunday, which means that we’ll all be setting some time aside to celebrate the most special ladies in our lives – our mums, or mother figures. It’s important to shower these wonderful women with cards, gifts and love just to show them how blooming great they are. After all, where would we be without them? They are the guiding lights in our lives and play a massive part in shaping us in to the lovely beings we are today. So yes, they deserve lots of love and recognition.

At this time of year I often dedicate my Escentual column to a Mother’s Day Gift Guide, and this year is no different. For 2015 I’ve opted to focus on three perfumes that represent the most clichéd of Mother’s Day gifts – roses, chocolate and cuddly toys. Within my guide, which you can access by clicking here, you will find a selection of suitably satisfying scented gifts for that most special of ladies, whether she be about flowers, food or fluff, or all of the above.

Continue reading

And Breathe – Annick Goutal L’Ile au Thé Perfume Review

"The Volcanic Island of Jeju"

“The Volcanic Island of Jeju”

Work is stressful. I know, I know, I’m playing the role of Captain Obvious here, but sometimes it just needs to be said, and I’m sure many of you would agree. Anyway, work is stressful and it’s important to enjoy some ‘me’ time after a long hard day at the office. We all have ways of relaxing. My method is tea. I don’t drink tea all day at work but when I get home, I always have a cup of Earl Grey. This has almost become a ritual and often, when that cup is finished, the stress of the day has been washed away and I’m ready to enjoy the evening. I feel cleansed. I think that putting on my skeleton pyjamas helps too, but that’s another post for another day.

Tea has been used for ritualistic purposes in many cultures for thousands of years, but it hasn’t really made much of a break into perfume, despite the fact that it smells heavenly, in all of its varieties. Honestly, there is no odour on Earth more pleasing than a fresh box of bergamot heavy Earl Grey – it’s powdery, zesty and fizzing with black tea goodness. Let’s not even get into the realms of Lapsang Souchong and Jasmine tea – we’ll be here for a while. In short, tea smells great and there is only a handful of decent tea fragrances out there, which is a shame.

Well stop the presses, dear friends, because I think I’ve found a really good one. It’s called L’Ile au Thé (Island Tea) and it comes from chic French fragrance house, Annick Goutal. Created by Goutal’s in-house perfumers, Isabelle Doyen and Camille Goutal, L’Ile au Thé takes inspiration from the volcanic South Korean island of Jeju, where the landscape is littered with fields of tangerines and hills brimming with tea. L’Ile au Thé is more than just a tea fragrance thought – it’s a mood and a feeling, and a restorative landscape born from fire, air and greenery. This is a fragrance that encourages one to spritz, sit back and just breathe.

“Where lava rocks give birth to lush green plant-life buffeted by the winds. Journeying through its undulating landscape, Camille and Isabelle are taken away by their emotions”

- The Island of Jeju

Continue reading

The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Jasmine

The Candy Perfume Boy's Guide to Jasmine

The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Jasmine

The Candy Perfume Boy’s ‘Guide to…‘ series is a Jasmine award winning fragrant exploration of the individual notes that make up the vast and multi-dimensional spectrum that is the world of perfume. In each episode, we take a detailed look at a particular ingredient, analysing its odour profile and the ‘must sniff’ perfumes that serve as reference examples within the genre.

The many fragrant trips in the series have seen us make stops at Planet Tuberose, Chocolate World and Lavender Moon. We’ve also taken journeys to discover the notes of Oud, Orange Blossom, Violet and Lily. Oh, and we mustn’t forget Vanilla - we’ve been there too (and it was particularly delicious, I must say). All-in-all, we’ve traversed some delectably smelly places, learning more and more about the world of perfume on the way. I for one have found it to be great fun, and I hope you, dear reader, have too.

In this instalment we take a look at one of perfumery’s most important, prominent and prolific ingredients – jasmine. This stuff is a vital building block in our perfumes and iconic fragrances such as Chanel’s Nº5 (a true legend) simply would be the same without it. So, without further ado, I have put together my selection of ‘reference’ jasmine fragrances – seven of the very best, to be precise – to help you guide yourself through the must sniffs of the jasmine world. Let’s go scent-trekking.

Continue reading

A Golden Opportunity, Missed – Versace Eros Pour Femme Perfume Review

Eros Pour Femme - Versace's Goddess

Eros Pour Femme – Versace’s Goddess

When Versace launched their most recent masculine fragrance, Eros, in 2013 I really wanted to like it. Every fibre of my fragrant being hoped for it to be good and before casting my inquisitive nose over the scent, I was encouraged by the terrifically gaudy bottle and over the top, muscle-filled advert, both of which were done in that ridiculous way that only Versace knows how to do. Alas, it was not meant to be and Eros turned out to be a synthetic clash of chemically grown lemon and day old vanilla pudding. It’s pretty terrible to be honest with you and feels genetically modified in a way that is more evocative of Godzilla’s ball sack than the glistening pectorals of an Ancient God.  To cut a long story short, I wasn’t a fan.

So when Versace announced the launch of Eros Pour Femme, one would have thought that I’d have learned my lesson and steered well clear. `One would think that I wouldn’t be enticed by the simply fabulous bottle with its gold medusa head, and one would hope that I wasn’t silly enough to think that perhaps, it could be a big old stinky white floral in the manner of Versace’s incredible Blonde.  You can see where I’m going with this, can’t you?  That’s right, I fell hook, line and sinker for the aesthetics of Eros Pour Femme and raised my hopes to an incredibly high level, only rivalled by the time that the time that Madonna performed her new single at the Brits, and we all know how that turned out (disclaimer: I love you, Madonna and bravo for carrying on).  I had high hopes for Eros Pour Femme, people, apple pie in the sky hopes and as you’ve probably guessed by now, I was sorely disappointed.

Eros Pour Femme was created by perfumers Alberto Morillas (CK One, Dalí, Iris Prima Mugler Cologne & Opus VII), Olivier Cresp (D&G Light Blue, Juniper Sling and Angel) and Nathalie Lorson (Dita Von Teese & Black Opium) – three incredible perfumers, no less. The striking ad campaign (which does have a degree of the glistening pecs of the original in it, I checked) was shot by fashion photographers Mert & Marcus. Donatalla Versace helmed the project.  It would be fair to say that there are some talented people on board the Eros Pour Femme ship, but there’s also a striking lack of ingenuity or anything that remotely resembles innovation, in fact. Eros Pour Femme turns out to be nothing more than an allegory for what the brand now is – not as good as it used to be.

Continue reading