Hey, Pretty Boy!

Sometimes I look at the present state of masculine perfumes in the mainstream and I let out a big sigh of despair. Many are reminiscent of Lynx-soaked (or Axe-soaked if you are a US reader) school changing rooms, often capturing the same fresh and sporty nature that has been done to death, and is as far from the high end as physically possible. The perfume loving men of the world, or just the perfume wearing gents of this good, green Earth deserve better than that, even if they don’t know it just yet!

Of course I am tarring everybody with the same brush here and for every two or three naff mainstream masculines there is one tremendous one, but these greats certainly aren’t in the majority. With this in mind, it’s always refreshing when a designer brand offers up a masculine fragrance that is elevated above the hoi polloi, and offers something unique, high quality and dare I say, beautiful. I mention all of this because Bottega Veneta’s latest masculine offering, Pour Homme Essence Aromatique is one such fragrance: a scent from the mainstream but leagues above it.

Created by perfumer, Amandine Marie (Mugler’s Angel Eau de Toilette), Essence Aromatique is technically a flanker to Bottega Veneta Pour Homme from 2013, joining their Essence Aromatique Pour Femme as a counterpart. It’s a strange hybrid of a fragrance, somewhere between a classic cologne and a modern fougère, playing with bracing freshness and supple softness to create something that is well, strikingly pretty for a masculine fragrance. Bottega Veneta state that Essence Aromatique PH exudes a “relaxed masculine elegance” describing it as an “unexpected take on a classic cologne”. That pretty much sums it up for me, but let’s take a closer look!

Cedro Di Taormina - The Perfect Holiday Treat
Cedro Di Taormina – The Perfect Holiday Treat

Passport, pants and perfume, that’s all you need in your luggage when travelling. Of course, when brining the essentials you want to make sure that you pack the right things, which means it pays to select the right fragrances for that trip away. I always pack something from Acqua di Parma because they offer such beautifully easy to wear scents that sing under the sun and their latest, Cedro di Taormina is no exception. In fact, it’s the perfect thing to kick start your summer. Check out my full review over at Escentual by clicking here.

Come On, Smoke Stack!
Come On, Smoke Stack!

I’ve been taking a lot of walks recently. To me, there’s no better antidote to a head cluttered with thoughts than an aimless ramble around a scenic area. With each step the mind clears, allowing one to appreciate the things outside themselves; the trees, the wildlife, the biting embrace of a crisp March breeze and of course, the many smells that add that extra layer of feeling to the experience. I’ve often said that smells are the unseen textures and colours of the world. They add the fourth dimension to what we see, touch and hear, leaving stamps in our memory that can be drawn upon years later, to allow any experience to be relived in vivid detail.

It was on one of my recent walks that I came across a familiar smell. It was an odour that I instantly recognised but hadn’t smelled in such a long time: the smell of chimney smoke. First things first, some context for you. I grew up in a tudor cottage in a small village in the middle of buttfucknowhere. The house is what I would call ‘shabby chic’ but with little chic and an extra helping of the shabby. As pretty as it may have been from the outside it was well-lived-in from the inside, but the most important thing to note was the lack of central heating, with only a wood burner to be relied on to provide warmth. Now, there were a few of downsides to this, but none more notable than the fact that it was cold most of the time, and when I say cold, I mean real cold, like the Clinton bedroom after the Lewinsky scandal cold.

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The Jasmine Awards 2016

Yesterday at a ceremony held at BAFTA in London the winners of the 2016 Jasmine Awards were announced. As the longest standing awards within the fragrance industry, the Jasmines, hosted by The Fragrance Foundation, celebrate excellence in fragrance writing for pieces both in mainstream press or independent titles. This year’s winners were an eclectic group and are as follows:

Retro Machismo - Monsieur by Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle
Retro Machismo – Monsieur. by Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle

“Monsieur., your chest rug is peeking through your shirt.”

“Monsieur., would you like the bear skin rug dry cleaned before you lie seductively upon it?”

“Monsieur., the 1970s called and they would like their headshop back.”

“Monsieur., is that an afro comb in the pocket of your flares or are you just pleased to see me?”

These were my initial thoughts when smelling ‘Monsieur.‘ the latest release from Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle. As you may be able to tell, it’s somewhat of a retro macho bomb and style wise, it certainly comes across as somewhat of a departure from Malle’s ultra-modern aesthetic. That said, I find it to be fabulously retro, which is to say that it celebrates a moment in time and a certain type of machismo that is utterly classic: that of the hairy chested, suave yet roguish animal of a man, or in this case a slightly older man. Wait, is Monsieur. a DILF?!

Monsieur is the second outing at Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle for perfumer Bruno Jovanovic, the man behind the delightfully subversive Dries Van Noten par Frederic Malle and designer scents such as Calvin Klein Reveal. With Monsieur., Jovanovic tackles patchouli, a staple ingredient within the world of perfumery that has made many a fragrance a classic. The thing with patchouli though, is the fact that it feels a bit old fashioned. It’s still used in perfumery today, of course, but most examples of the note today show it as sanitised to nothing but a dark fuzz that adds texture to the composition. Gone is that dirty, earthy and oily melange that we knew as patchouli in the 1970s and 1980s. Monsieur. however, aims to pay homage to the multi-faceted and complex nature of this ingredient and the perfumes of yesteryear, with over 50% of its composition comprising of patchouli sourced through molecular distillation. As the brand puts it; “Monsieur. is to patchouli what Carnal Flower is to tuberose”.

So Monsieur. is a patchouli weapon – a tool for seduction for the man suave enough to wield its powers responsibly. As Persolaise noted in his review, it’s also a fragrance that looks backwards rather than forwards, making it an interesting step in the Editions de Parfums oeuvre. Although evocative, I’m sure my description of Monsieur. as a somewhat-attractive paternal figure may not be what the brand intended, I shall therefore, refer you to the official description as per Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle:

“Although seemingly simple, this formula evokes for Frédéric Malle, since its genesis, remorseless seducers such as Alfonso de Portago, Mark Birley, Jose-Luis de Villalonga or Gianni Agnelli. Their manly and timeless elegance has relentlessly guided the development of this empowering perfume. Monsieur., a neo-classical perfume, manly and utterly elegant. Monsieur.”


Hairography in Motion

For the first few years of my life, my siblings and I were subjected to appalling hair cuts. I’ll put it simply: we rocked the ‘bowl cut’, so much so in fact, that my older brother and I earned the nicknames ‘Bobby Bowler’ and ‘Baby Bowler’ respectively. Good times. Our dear parents hired a family friend to cut our hair at home and she was lovely however, her one sticking point was that she wasn’t particularly good at hairdressing and my parents didn’t have the heart to seek alternative services in hairography for their ever-growing brood. Blast them!

As we got older, bowl cuts simply would not do and we berated our parents into allowing us to attend a proper hairdressers – a hairdressers I should note, that my mother had been frequenting for years. No bowl cuts for mummy, no sir. So off we went to the local hairdressers to find a hairstyle that was a little less, well, horrifying, and we were wowed by the sensory overload that was to be found there: the sound of hairdryers and chatter, and many a strange smell (I now know that one of these smells was the gloriously eggy and cat wee-redolent perming solution). It was brilliant.

Panorama by Olfactive Studio
Panorama by Olfactive Studio

If you’re ever feeling bored with the state of modern perfumery or exhausted by the endless onslaught of (often underwhelming) launches, I recommend that you take a few minutes out to explore the fascinating fragrant offerings from Olfactive Studio. This French-based niche house creates scents inspired by photography, specifically the images and techniques associated with the prevalent medium, and their range covers a vast number of olfactory styles, from smoky florals to strange spice creations. In short, Olfactive Studio is an exciting brand with an entirely unique viewpoint.

The studio have just launched their seventh fragrance – the Clement Gavarry-penned ‘Panorama’. Inspired by the Miguel Sandinha photograph of the legendary Sheats Goldstein house in Los Angeles, California (see below), Panorama is a green fragrance that boasts an unconventional note of wasabi. In keeping with the photograph from which it takes inspiration, Panorama contrasts urban and modern landscapes with verdant vegetation to create a fragrance that is large and expansive, with a plethora of nuances that are all intensely green. Get ready to be fascinated, folks, because this scent is one heck of a green wonder.

The Fragrance Foundation Awards 2015
The Fragrance Foundation Awards 2015

As I’m sure you are aware, the Fragrance Foundation in the UK held their 23rd awards in London last Thursday. The Fragrance Foundation Awards, formerly known as the FiFi’s, celebrate the good and great of the fragrance industry, handing out trophies to the perfumes, home fragrances, ad campaigns and retailers that are the nuts and bolts, and cogs of the fragrance world.

I was lucky enough to be invite to attend the awards this year. So on Thursday evening, I put on my tux, specially selected socks and some Butler & Wilson sparkle (as standard), and headed out to rainy London for the biggest, and most fragrant night of the year. The awards, which were compered by the masterful Natasha Kaplinsky, were as fun as ever and it was great to catch up with my perfume buddies such as Liam Moore of ODOU magazine, Liz Moores of Papillon Artisan Perfumes and Persolaise.

Below you’ll find a slideshow detailing the night’s winners. Personally, I was happy to see Jo Malone’s Wood Sage & Sea Salt and Guerlain’s L’Homme Idéal pick up awards, but I was sad to see that Papillon didn’t scoop the award for Best Independent Fragrance (although, all three of the PP perfumes being shortlisted is a massive achievement), and I don’t think that Black Opium deserves anything other than an eye roll accompanied by a series of tuts. But that’s just my opinion, and I think you’ll find that the winners are a varied and interesting bunch to behold.