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I think it’s been a long time since I’ve fallen for a new Serge Lutens fragrance. Perhaps it was La Religieuse in 2015 or La Fille de Berlin in 2013, I can’t remember, but I know it has been a while! I adore many of his back catalogue greats (especially L’Eau Froide, Tubereuse Criminelle, Sarrasins, Iris Silver Mist, Feminite du Bois, and Fleurs d’Oranger) but many of the new ones have failed to resonate. There have been interesting elements to his fragrances of late, but it seems that he has moved away from the dense orientalism and fleur fatale inspirations of his past, opting for yet more abstraction in fragrances that don’t really make as much of a mark.

Well, I am pleased to say that Lutens’ ‘meh’ streak has come to an end with the latest addition to Collection Noire (the most widely available Lutens collection): Le Participe Passè (The Past Participle). In the usual Lutens way, the perfume is presented with little information other than a riddle that is difficult to decode, with Lutens only telling us this: “past moments that surge into the present have many scents. I have interpreted that which most evokes the past.” Thanks for that, Serge – real helpful! Anyway, this new scent is more than a riddle or a description, it’s something much more than that – Le Participe Passè is quite the spectacle.

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The simple elegance of a decent eau de cologne is one of the greatest things in the whole of perfumery. That tension between citrus, flowers and herbs (and now in modern times, musks) is a sparkling tonic when the mercury rises. In fact, the purity of a good eau de cologne transcends seasons and can be the perfect thing to wear at any time and on any occasion. To put it simply, when eau de colognes are good, they’re very good, and even when they’re bad they’re still pretty good!

One cologne that really struck a chord with me recently was the latest launch from Givenchy: ‘Eau de Givenchy’. Inspired by Hubert de Givenchy’s gardens in the South of France, Eau de Givenchy is a modern reinterpretation of a Givenchy fragrance of the same name that launched in 1980. François Demachy is the man behind this new scent and he has penned a contemporary eau de cologne that presents, as Givenchy puts it, “a moment of freshness suspended in time that feels like it could last forever.” Well, that’s quite the promise – let’s see if Eau de Givenchy delivers…

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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.

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Fragrances tend to fall into two categories for me; those that make an immediate impact (either positively or negative), and those that take a while for me to get. Laconia, the latest scent from super-swish British brand Tom Daxon, fell smack bang into the immediate category. I knew from the first sniff that I liked it and that this wasn’t going to change. Yes, that’s a massive spoiler for this review, but I haven’t told you what it smells like so you will have to read on…

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It was in a field of centifolia roses in the heart of Grasse that I fell in love with Anima Vinci. I hadn’t even smelled the fragrances at this point, but standing amongst the heavily scented roses whilst house founder Nathalie Vinciguerra passionately talked about her debut collection of fragrances I knew that what I was about to experience was very special indeed. You see, Nathalie knows fragrance and she is also incredibly passionate about it. Having worked at Penhaligon’s & L’Artisan Parfumeur as Head of Fragrance Development, Nathalie oversaw a slew of excellent scents (the likes of Juniper Sling and Sartorial) and now her expertise and olfactory vision are being wonderfully applied at her own brand, resulting in the brilliant Anima Vinci debut collection.

The brilliance continued with the latest addition to the Anima Vinci lineup – Tudo Azul – an energising fragrance inspired by the Brazilian caipirinha cocktail (yes please). “Tudo azul” is a phrase that roughly translates as “it’s all great” and it sums up a fragrance that is all about the carefree vibes – about laying on the beach soaking in the sun and sea breeze whilst sipping on exotic cocktails (once again, yes please). That’s where Tudo Azul takes you and I for one am here for the journey!  I just need to pack my Speedos…

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I feel as if Les Infusions de Prada best showcases the DNA of the Prada brand. It was Infusion d’Iris, the genesis of the collection, that really birthed that inimitable Prada signature that is now so familiar. This Prada trademark is the result of the fusion of two materials; iris and benzoin, both of which come together to create a fizzy, powdery, grey and sweet, gauzy aroma that is so luxurious and so ‘Prada’. It’s glorious and to be found front and centre in the brand’s many infusions.

Speaking of infusions, the latest to join the collection is Infusion de Mandarine, a fragrance that seeks to distil the essence of mandarin and merge it with that Prada signature. Created by perfumer Daniela Andrier, who is responsible for most (if not all) of the Prada fragrances, Infusion de Mandarine presents a cacophony of orange notes wrapped together in a little juicy package. This may look like an unassuming citrus on the surface but boy, it is anything but!

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Pack your bags because CHANEL is taking us on holiday. They’ve booked the most luxurious mode of transport – no, not the Orient Express or Emirates First Class, it’s something much more special than that for this is an olfactory odyssey that takes one on a historical trek though the life and times of their inimitable founder: Mademoiselle Coco Chanel. There are three stops on the journey, so prepare to explore the green countryside of Normandy, dip your toes into the Atlantic coastline, and take long, endless strolls through a Mediterranean city. Don’t worry about packing any perfumes because CHANEL have got you covered with their latest collection: LES EAUX DE CHANEL.

With LES EAUX DE CHANEL, CHANEL say that it is not the destination that matters, but the journey. It is the idea of escaping – of exploring, losing oneself and finding oneself. It’s about traversing unchartered territory and experiencing new things. For the collection, CHANEL has called upon their in-house perfumer to create three contemporary eau de cologne-style fragrances (which are actually Eau de Toilette concentration) inspired by locations of historical significance to the brand. Housed within a new, travel-flask inspired bottle (which takes inspiration from vintage alcohol canisters carried in one’s waistcoat), these three ‘eaus’ mark a new chapter in the olfactory story of CHANEL. So let’s embark on an exciting journey and explore LES EAUX DE CHANEL.