It’s not unusual for a fragrance house to redress a classic fragrance for modern times but it’s difficult for them to get the balance right – the balance between maintaining all that makes the fragrance do distinct and special, and providing a fresh twist that makes it attractive to new, younger consumers. CHANEL did it with Nº5, using modern florals to make an entry level interoperation in the form of Nº5 EAU PREMIERE, and switching aldehydes for citrus and musk in Nº5 L’EAU. GUERLAIN did it beautifully with the ill-fated but stunning Shalimar Parfum Initial (amping up the iris, dialling back the leather smoke), but nobody has really done it with a masculine classic, well, until Habit Rouge Dress Code, that is.
Habit Rouge Dress Code is not a new fragrance. It actually launched a few years back (2015 if we are being specific) as a limited edition – a reworked version of Jean-Paul Guerlain’s 1965 original created by Guerlain Perfumer Thierry Wasser. Playing on the dandy character or Habit Rouge, Wasser gives us what Guerlain calls “the neo-dandy’s dress code” in a fragrance more suited to a fashionable lad about town on his vespa than an artistocrat in his sporting reds on a country lane. It’s a fragrance that takes the key elements of Habit Rouge to more vibrant extremes – it’s iconic citrus is fizzier, more electric, whilst its gourmand facets are richer, more textured. Dress Code is cooler, more modern and more audacious.
Dress Code was never previously available in the UK, but this autumn it is making its way across the channel, dressed in handsome camo livery, to take residence exclusively in Harrods, and I for one, am very glad to welcome it to Blighty!
Christine Nagel has fully taken the reigns of perfumery at Hermès and she is seeing in a new dawn that is at once, respectful of the house signature that Jean-Claude Ellena spent years forging, but also entirely her own. Nagel brings a bit more body to Hermès’ once pastel and watercolored approach to perfumery, evoking luxury with more vivid colours and richer textures. She has brought a playfulness (see Twilly d’Hermès) and has even subverted the very essence of Hermès’ Hermessence collection by giving it an oriental twist – all to make her own stamp. Now it’s time for Nagel to bring us a new twist on the brand’s signature masculine: Terre d’Hermès.
Terre d’Hermès is perhaps Ellena’s most iconic creation for Hermès – it’s also a big seller and easily one of the greatest modern masculines on the market. With that in mind it’s easy to see it as hollowed ground in a way – something not to be touched and tinkered with. But touching and tinkering is what the perfume industry does best and Terre d’Hermès has been reinterpreted by Ellena on two occasions (the Parfum and Eau Très Fraîche) and now it’s Nagel’s turn with Terre d’Hermès Eau Intense Vétiver. In her version, Nagel presents a rebalanced interpretation where “the initial woody and mineral balance of Terre becomes woody and vegetal.”
I’m always crushing on something scented or other. My nose knows no limits. Candy Crush is where I showcase the beautifully scented things I’m crushing on right now so you can hopefully develop a crush too.
I often feel as if I should have been born a handsome and stylish Parisian gentleman. The type of Frenchman I’d like to be is the artistic, knitwear-wearing, reflective type who absorbs culture like good wine. He loves art as much as the gym, speaks numerous languages and is an excellent cook. I’d be called Gabriel or Gaspard, or maybe Jules (can you tell I’ve not thought about this at all?) I’d actually enjoy coffee (why does it smell so good yet taste so bad?!) and I’d be really bloody cool. Oh and I’d wear GUERLAIN exclusively (Jicky I reckon) because why wouldn’t you? A boy can dream of being so chic, but sometimes a fragrance can be the closest thing one gets to making such a fantasy become a reality. Enter Le Frenchy by Guerlain.
Le Frenchy is part of Guerlain’s ‘Les Parisiens’ family – an exclusive collection of reissued masculine fragrances featuring the likes of Derby and Arsene Lupin. This one is a modern reworking of a historic lineage: Aimé Guerlain’s Verveine from 1872, which itself was reinterpreted by Jean-Paul Guerlain as ‘Eau de Verveine’ in 1983. Now we have Guerlain Perfumer Thierry Wasser’s take on ‘verveine’, cheekily entitled ‘Le Frenchy’ (The Frenchman). GUERLAIN calls it “chic and relaxed” which is so not my physical aesthetic, so perhaps Le Frenchy can help me out a bit, after I all I may not have the “bold elegance” of the fragrance, but I reckon I could pull some “natural charm” out of the bag. Let’s see…
Can we get real for a second? Most modern mainstream masculine fragrances are pretty terrible. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Yes, of course there exceptions and some mainstream masculines are absolute masterpieces, but the truth is that most of the time, gents are simply offered more of the same. Things are always fresh and sporty, citrussy and woody. If that’s not the case then we’re talking “noir” and amber. It’s all very uninspired, very safe, and not very exciting.
“But not always” I hear you cry and you’re right. There are one or two mainstream brands out there who do actually give a hoot about what they’re making, balancing innovation with accessibility. Surprisingly, one of these brands is dunhill London, who are quietly making incredibly affable masculine fragrances that are a few steps above the hoi polloi. They’re not weird or challenging – they’re easy to get on with, made with good materials and with unique, intriguing facets. I’m a fan.
dunhill London’s latest is Century. They describe it as “a fresh new signature”, saying that it is “embracing the future” with “a new clarity”. Created by legendary perfumer Carlos Benaïm (Eau de Magnolia and Music for a While), who was also responsible for dunhill London’s remarkable ICON, Century is a transparent masculine fragrance that, like the concave, clear shapes found within its striking flacon, reflects a multi-faceted core – a heart of sandalwood. “Make your mark on the future” says dunhill London, and if they have anything to do with it, the future of mainstream masculine perfumery looks very promising.
Doesn’t time fly? French niche brand By Kilian is celebrating their 10th anniversary already! It only feels like yesterday when they launched L’Oeuvre Noire, their debut collection of fragrances that contained such beauties as Love (Don’t be Shy) and Beyond Love (Prohibited), and many more. By Kilian has been on a massive journey since then, launching a veritable feast of fragrances, candles and even jewellery, not to mention the fact that the brand was acquired by Estée Lauder in 2016. It’s been an incredibly fragrant odyssey and to celebrate, Kilian has just launched two golden perfumes for their tenth anniversary in a new collection entitled ‘From Dusk Till dawn’.
Those two perfumes are Gold Knight and Woman in Gold, and they take inspiration from Gustav Klimt, coming housed within a (rather substantial) golden clutch that reinterprets the artist’s famous work ‘The Kiss’. The focus of this review is Gold Knight, the masculine scent in the pair and easily the stand out of the two. Gold Knight is inspired “the dashing, golden-armored chevalier in Klimt’s 1902 Beethoven Frieze” and is described by Kilian as being a woody oriental. It’s a perfume that lives up to its golden name, presenting something dazzling, bold, muscular, and undeniably ‘by Kilian’ in every way, shape and form.
There are so many fragrance launches each year it’s difficult to write about them all. Speed Sniffs is a way to bring you to the point reviews fragrances that are quick and easy to digest. After all, sometimes all one needs is a few lines to capture the essence of a scent. Speed Sniffs are perfume reviews without all of the faff.
Only CREED could name a fragrance ‘Viking‘. There’s something so audacious yet so fitting about the name that it could only have been chosen by the house of CREED. Now, I’ll be honest and say that I’m no CREED fan, but I do enjoy a number of their fragrances, namely Virgin Island Water and Love in Black, which are really quite beautiful. So I approached their latest masculine fragrance, which just so happens to be their first since Aventus (which itself has become something of a cult phenomenon, no less), with intrigue and just a touch of caution. I needn’t have been so tentative.