John Varvatos has followed a singular approach to his perfume line. All of the fragrances are housed within a signature bottle, available in many shapes and colours, and with numerous embellishments, and every single one of his scents has been composed by perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux. This makes for a collection that feels coherent, despite visiting many olfactory styles along the way, and it proves that in perfumery, true partnership is the key to creating scented magic.
The latest launch in John Varvatos’ fragrance collection is Dark Rebel Rider, a flanker to last year’s Dark Rebel. The fragrance is billed as “provocative” and Flores-Roux even calls its Russian leather note as “ultra-sexy”, which isn’t far off in my book. Dark Rebel Rider feels like the quintessential John Varvatos fragrance because it has the attitude of a rock star, the attention to detail of a studded leather jacket and a level of cool that is as in-tune with the Varvatos fashion brand as is possible.
The brand new fragrance from Hermès, ‘Galop d’Hermès’, is an interesting one on a number of levels. Firstly, and most importantly, it is the first fragrance for the brand by Christine Nagel since she became in-house perfumer (she previously created their Eau de Rhubarbe Ecarlate whilst Jean-Claude Ellena was still the nose-in-residence), but it also shows the house of Hermès firmly looking back towards their equestrian roots. Galop d’Hermès is a fragrance that many will look at to ascertain whether this new collaboration with Nagel will see their distinct house style put to bed in favour of a new one, or whether it will be maintained as part of the Hermès heritage. Galop d’Hermès is the first indicator of what is to come in the future and therefore, a very important fragrance.
Galop d’Hermès is an essay in two ingredients: leather and rose. Housed within a stirrup-shaped bottle, which is adorned with a smart leather tie, in vivid Hermès orange no less, the fragrance, presents itself as a scent that captures the very essence of the house, right from the overarching concept to the individual notes of the perfume. Leather is an integral element within the Hermès DNA, finding its way into many of their luxurious accessories, whereas rose has been a key ingredient in many of the brand’s illustrious fragrances over the years. Together these two notes are presented in a pure parfum that is undeniably Hermès but also entirely exciting and new.
“At Hermès, I discovered all the femininity of leather. I composed Galop d’Hermès like a painting with two main colours…two raw materials that are emblematic to Hermès and to perfumery: leather and rose.”
I have a confession to make: I’ve always found leather perfumes difficult. They’re just so damn demanding most of the time and one has to commit to wearing them for the whole day, which can be a chore if they start to get annoying, which I find they often do. Don’t get me wrong, the smell of leather in fragrance is often beautiful, but with time it can become dry, harsh and tar-like, suffocating a guy and sending himm reaching for a mouthwatering cologne to quench the nose-thirst. So yes, I like leather, but it’s not often that I find myself loving a leather fragrance, and whilst there are exceptions (Tom Ford’s Tuscan Leatherbeing the most notable), leather just isn’t my thing as a rule.
With that in mind, I’m always very happy when a scent comes along to convince me that I do, in fact, like a style I’m slightly averse to. In terms of leather, that very scent is the new Étui Noir by Miller Harris. Described, rather fantastically, as being “like a well-worn leather jacket shared by lovers with comforting flashbacks of each other” and “as deep as the night”, Étui Noir is a leather with a difference. This is a leather fragrance crafted with an emotional point of view, speaking in nuanced and eclectic tones. It’s representative of the new style of Miller Harris, which is much more focused than it has been in recent years and to put it simply, Étui Noir just is an interesting fragrance to unravel.
It honestly does not take much convincing to get me on board with a fragrance called ‘The Orchid Man’. I am, after all, a well-documented lover of all things floral and I always feel encouraged by a modern launch that gears a floral towards men. As a man, or a boy (The Candy Perfume Man just sounds a bit creepy, doesn’t it?), whichever fits, I get tired of the industry’s attempts to encourage me to wear brutish things with burly ingredients, solid things like cedarwood, amber and oud. I like all of these things, but sometimes a guy wants to sissy things up with a great big whack of indolic jasmine, do you feel me? I am confident enough in my sexuality to not care about labels so a masculine floral, or a floral of any kind for that matter, is a no-brainer.
So yes, I was very intrigued when a bottle of Frapin’s latest fragrance, ‘The Orchid Man’, arrived on my doorstep, partly due to the fact that I’ve never really tried anything from the brand before. Without giving too much away, I must say that after spending some time with The Orchid Man, I certainly feel motivated to spend more the with the brand. Inspired by the life and fashions of French boxer, Georges Carpentier, The Orchid Man takes its name from his nickname, which is a reference to the orchid corsage he often wore with his suits. As a man of many talents, Carpentier was than just a boxer, he also was a star of stage and in film, a dabbler with the sport of Rugby and even the proprietor of the first cocktail bar in Paris. It’s no wonder then, that Frapin’s The Orchid Man is a complex and nuanced perfume.
Created by perfumer Jérôme Epinette (Byredo M/Mink & Atelier Cologne Rose Anonyme etc.), The Orchid Man strives to capture both the “elegance” and “violence” found within the spirit of such a contrasting man. Jérôme Epinette took inspiration from a boxing gym, centring the fragrance around “an animal leather accord that gives the scent its signature, power, elegance and the iconic aspects of boxing gloves” adding patchouli, which “brings the hot and humid tones that conjure up the atmosphere in a boxing gym”. The result is a kinetic spritz of energy full of juxtapositions that speaks of contact sport as much as it does gentlemanly elegance.
Perfume lovers across the world have been watching the New Forest studio of Papillon Artisan Perfumes with bated breath. Last year, Papillon launched with three fragrances; Angelique, Anubis and Tobacco Rose – three perfumes that boldly said that a scent should be beautiful and unique, rather than awash with gimmickry. Papillon Artisan Perfumes have been a refreshing addition to the world of perfume that, along with Sarah McCartney’s hugely important 4160 Tuesdays, has put independent British perfumery on the map – a fact reflected by the nomination of all three Papillon scents for Best New Independent Fragrance at this year’s Fragrance Foundation Awards. It stands to reason then, that Papillon’s latest scent ‘Salome‘, launches in a veritable cloud of fragrant excitement.
You will hear a lot of talk about Salome and her erotic, and animalistic tendencies over the coming months. “Pure filth” is what they’ll call her and perfume lovers here, there and everywhere will revel in her raunchy and primal ways. But there’s more to Salome than meets the eye, and there’s another facet that deserves praise – her golden sheen and glittering sense of movement, to be specific. Salome is a dancing diva moving methodically and mesmerisingly through the many hypnotic motions of the dance of the seven veils.
Salome takes its name from the biblical character – the daughter of Herod and the dancing woman from the New Testament. In a recent interview on The Candy Perfume Boy, Papillon Perfumer Liz Moores explained how a vintage photograph of a 1920s flapper girl was the inspiration for Salome; “I have an original vintage photograph of a 1920’s flapper girl in a state of undress; she’s positioned side on to the camera with her breasts bared and the lower half of her body only slightly covered with ostrich feathers. The woman in this photograph fascinates me; I have often wondered who she was, where she lived in the world and what her name might have been. In my head I called her Salome, a name befitting such a beautiful and daring woman of her time.” This photo, which potrays the seductive dancer partly nude informs Salome’s vintage tones and erotic escapades. This is a fragrance made in a style seldom seen in this modern, post-IFRA age, and it acts as a startling reminder that perfumes can still be richly textured, gloriously complex and absolutely, downright filthy.
Leather fragrances all fall somewhere on a spectrum that spans from ‘Expensive Handbag’ to ‘Cow Hide’, with a great distance of space between both polar ends. On one side we have the likes of Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum and Dior’s Cuir Cannage, olfactory interpretations of luxury leather goods, and on the other we have fragrances such as Mona di Orio’s Cuir, which is essentially chorizo in a bottle. Somewhere smack bang in the middle of this spectrum of suede is my favourite kind of leather – the “hell yeah I’m sexy” kind of leather.
To me, the ideal sexy leather fragrance is undeniably Tom Ford’s Tuscan Leather. Even the name is evocative of tumbles in the hay under the hot Italian sun – what could be more enticing, right?. Released in 2007 as part of the original crop of Private Blends, Tuscan Leather is not only dashingly handsome, it’s also the perfect scent for this chilly weather we’re having – it’s warm, enveloping and totally sexy. Too sexy, in fact. It’s use has to be restricted in our house because it is, without being distinctly raunchy, completely and utterly delectable. Did I mention that it’s sexy?
When I started The Candy Perfume Boy, I didn’t really have much of a plan, I simply wanted to talk about perfume. Since my first post way back in July 2011, the way I write and the subjects I write about have evolved. Nowadays I tend to focus more on reviewing new launches, with ancillary series such as Desert Island Sniffs, The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to… and the Scent a Celebrity Series as supporting materials. Series have come and gone (due mainly to my short attention span) but this year I’d like to spend a bit more time looking back, as well as forward, by reviewing some scents that aren’t brand spanking new.
So to start, I want to look at a fragrance that has always been on my mind, but never in my collection, well up until recently, that is. Those of you who have read this blog for a while will know that I’m quite partial to the intriguing olfactory output from rebellious perfume punks, Etat Libre d’Orange. I own about seven or eight of their 32 fragrances, with the latest addition to my collection being the tricksy Putain des Palaces – a perfume I’ve always liked but have been reluctant to buy, for no reason other than the fact that I’m indecisive.
Putain des Palaces was released in 2006 as part of Etat Libre d’Orange’s initial crop of fragrances. Composed by perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer (Hermès’ Eau des Merveilles, Van Clef & Arpels’ Gardénia Pétale & Amouage’s Honour Man) the fragrance, which is roughly translated as “Hotel Whore” (racy, huh?), is described by Etat Libre d’Orange as “the temptress who awaits her prey in the hotel bar, and leads her lucky victim to unimaginable delights…” So yes, Putain des Palaces is a perfume about sex, specifically the transactional variety, and you know what? It does exactly what it sets out to do.
At the recent launch event for Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s latest duo of fragrances there was a lot of discussion around art and its relation to the world of perfume. Kurkdjian, who is ever a frank and fascinating speaker, asserted that perfume is not art because it is created to please consumers and where art is given a value by the market, perfume prices are set by their creators. This isn’t to say that Kurkdjian is belittling perfume by any means, in fact it seems that he takes a purely practical view of the subject, comparing his collection to an olfactory wardrobe, containing a plethora of pieces ranging from the everyday staple of the white T-Shirt (Aqua Universalis) to the more occasionally worn leather trousers (Absolue Pour le Soir).
Also at the event, Art Curator, Karine Giannamore spoke at length about what constitutes a masterpiece, piecing together simplicity, hard work, innovation and emotion, as the key ingredients that create a timeless work of art. Giannamore states that a masterpiece “has to be new [and] has to be original” but also must be “cemented in tradition”. This collision of the innovative and the traditional is exactly what Francis Kurkdjian has played with for his two new fragrances – féminin Pluriel and masculin Pluriel.
“What makes a work of art? A masterpiece? A Timeless work of art? Something so good or beautiful that it cannot be affected by changes in society or fashion.”
– Karine Giannamore
The Pluriel (Plural) duo has been created as a mirror image – two fragrances that perfectly capture the essence of femininity and masculinity, or as the brand puts it; “the eternal feminine and masculine.” With each fragrance, Kurkdjian takes a traditional theme and adds a contemporary twist to create a pair of perfumes that feel thoroughly modern and very much in keeping with his clear and radiant style. For féminin Pluriel and masculin Pluriel, Kurkdjian has crafted two new pieces for his olfactory wardrobe – two fragrant garments that are as modern, chic, timeless and elegant as anything a couturier could construct.
London is an awesome city. I say this not just because I am British and therefore undeniably biased in the matter, but also because it is a simple truth. London has a charisma that many cities do not, stemming from the many contrasts that besiege its winding streets. These disorganised clashes of new and old, rough and smooth, and clean and dirty, make for a cultural mish-mash that is at times, utterly bonkers and entirely unique but ultimately very charming.
One man that loves London as much as I do is Tom Ford and to celebrate the opening of his Sloane Square boutique in 2013, the incredibly prolific fashion and perfume purveyor that is Mr. Ford created his very own olfactory tribute to this finest and fairest of cities. Taking its name from the city of the same name and launching last year, ‘London‘ is the newest addition to the Private Blend collection, available only in a select number of stores within the nation’s capital.
The brand describes London as being “rich, elegant and urbane” – three words that could certainly be attributed to the city after which it is named, if only just the glamorous bits in which one would find a Tom Ford boutique. But this perfume is more than just a tribute to a city, it is in fact a celebration of Mr. Ford’s favourite ingredient – oud. Now before you all start rolling your eyes at the sheer mention of the ‘o’ word (I see you), heed this notice: this perfume is a damn good example of how to do an inconspicuous oud – an oud that doesn’t take centre stage and plays a supporting role, or as they used to call them back in the day – an oriental.
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