There’s a simplicity and cleanliness to the Tom Daxon brand that really appeals to me. It feels unfussy and uncomplicated in presentation, with clean, structural lines favoured over anything remotely eye-catching or gimmicky. It’s a brand where the fragrances are allowed to speak for themselves and whilst the presentation may be simple (and elegantly so) the composition of each of the fragrances is anything but. Tom Daxon presents a collection with remarkable range, offering beautiful twists on familiar themes, creating fragrances that really don’t smell like anything else. If you haven’t sniffed anything from Tom Daxon then you absolutely must rectify that fact immediately.
The latest addition to the Tom Daxon collection is Riven Oak, and if you’re in to woods in a big way, then your interest should most definitely be piqued right now. Tom Daxon describes this oak-centric fragrance as “layers of smooth woods” and without giving away too much in advance of this review (because I’d quite like you to read on!), I’d say that’s a pretty spot on description. Riven Oak is no ordinary wood fragrance (see more on wood fragrances here) – it’s a multifaceted essay on the complexity of wood, with an entirely unique signature. Interest still piqued? Good, because it should be.
Now, before you judge me with your smutty little minds, I am of course referring to wood fragrances and not any other form of wood, metaphorical or otherwise. I’m not sure what may have led you to think of anything else – certainly not the somewhat tongue in cheek title of this post, that’s for sure! Anyway, the truth is that I’ve never really got wood before, as in, I’ve never really enjoyed wood fragrances that much (again, minds out of the gutter please, people). They’ve always felt too subtle or too plain for my exuberant tastes, so for the most part I’ve ignored them or passed them off as lovely, but not for me. That however, has changed very recently.
Over the last few months I’ve started to find wood fragrances a little bit sexy. I’m attracted to them and they are just the kind of thing I find myself wanting to smell on a man. But it’s actually more than that, they’ve also become the type of thing I want to wear when I’m feeling mighty fine, or when I want to feel mighty fine. So in this post I’m going to showcase some beautiful wood fragrances that are more than just a little bit sexy – in fact, they’re all very sexy in their own individual ways. So, please put on some Barry White and close the curtains because things are going to get a little bit hot and steamy up in here as we investigate seven wood fragrances with some serious bom-chicka-wah-wah factor.
Personally I’m a ‘poached atop a slice of avocado toast’ kind-of-a-guy, but then again I am a millennial so what else would you expect? It seems that Juliette Has a Gun likes their eggs served with a generous helping of sandalwood and a side of sass, because that’s exactly what the brand’s exciting new fragrance ‘Sunny Side Up‘ offers up. Juliette Has a Gun has always been a cheeky house, but they’ve really outdone themselves with this latest launch, creating a fragrance bottle that gives a birds eye view of a fried egg, sunny side up. Genius.
Positioning Sunny Side Up as a “happy therapy”, Juliette Has a Gun’s nose and founder Romano Ricci has set out to create something that “inspires happy and positive feelings”. The scent and its visuals take on a pop art feel, with the sunny theme of bright yellow running throughout. It plays on the idea of hot days on the beach where the sun is blazing so much it’s possible to fry eggs on the skin and the playfulness of the visuals (where the sun and model’s breasts are replaced with fried eggs) alludes to the care free spirit of this happy little perfume. To create the fragrance, Ricci started with the star material of sandalwood, which he paired with musks, jasmine and a coconut milk to accentuate the sandalwood’s “unctuous tonalities”. Intrigued yet?
I have a test for masculine fragrances to identify whether they meet the mark or not. I call it ‘The Nigel Test’. Nigel, as you may be aware is my husband and he, in his very discerning way only wears masculine scents, and only ones that he deems to smell rather luxurious. The test always starts the same way. I spray on a scent to test it. The other Mr. Dunckley quickly appears to enquire as to what I am wearing. “It’s so and so”, I say “do you like it”. “It’s ok”, he says. Cut to a few days later and the bottle is missing. Some scented sleuthing will unearth the fact that the crime was committed by Mr. Dunckley in the living room, with 10 sprays to the chest.
I give you this back story because this was exactly the case with Gruhme No.14, which landed on my doorstep recently and was quickly snapped away by Nigel, who wore the heck out of it for a good week. I let him get away with his crimes for two reasons; 1) he puts up with me, so a degree of leniency with light fingered endeavours is only fair; and 2) it gives me the chance to smell a scent on someone else, which usually gives me a good idea of the sillage and signature. So, in short, in the case of Gruhme No.14 (or The People vs Nigel Dunckley), the fragrance receives approval from Messrs Dunckley in unison.
The Gruhme brand is the passion project of corporate lawyer, Rob Hallmark who, after spending a number of years working in law, decided to build his own business of men’s products having not been able to find a “strong male brand” to identify with. Gruhme is the result and they now have two fragrances, the second of which, the aforementioned (and Beauty Shortlist Award Winner for ‘Best Masculine Fragrance’) No.14 is a more highly concentrated version (14% as opposed to 10%) of their debut scent. Gruhme describes No.14 as an “evening variant” of their “sensual and aromatic” flagship fragrance. It’s passed the ‘Nigel Test’, but let’s see how it fairs in the ‘Smell Test’.
Addiction. That’s the inspiration between Juliette Has a Gun’s latest fragrance ‘White Spirit‘. The fragrance is dangerous, Romano Ricci (the man behind Juliette) says, further stating that a failure to respect the prescribed dosage may lead to the wearer never being able to do without it. That dose, by the way is “one or two drops delicately placed in the hollow of your neck”. Well, I threw caution to the wind and took five sprays to the chest on my first wearing, and I have survived to tell the tale. Although, that said, I have worn it a number of times since, so maybe I haven’t quite escaped the White Spirit’s dark passenger entirely.
What about the scent though? What’s it all about? Well, White Spirit is a melange of flowers and in true Juliette Has a Gun style, an array of aroma chemicals. Romano Ricci describes it as “a contrast between minimalism and poison […] the virginal white flower versus the explosive woody dry accord” defining it as “an unlikely cocktail, yet resolutely addictive”. The presentation is one of the brand’s finest examples, showcasing a white capped bottle filled with a milky juice that appears as a substance to be applied with caution. As always, it’s all served with a sense of irony and tongue pressed firmly in cheek, after all, that’s the ‘Juliette’ way.
It was reported last week that NASA had found evidence of liquid water flowing on Mars. The red planet is no longer a dry, and arid collection of rock and dust, it seems. In other surprising and space-related news, Thierry Mugler has made the decision to launch a limited edition version of Alien called ‘Alien Oud Majestueux’, an oriental fragrance that sees the hyper-jasmine of the original accompanied by oud, the ever popular heartwood extracted from the Aquilaria tree, and seen so often in modern fragrances over the last few years. Composed by the masterful Dominique Ropion, who co-signed the original with Laurent Bruyere, this new version of Alien promises to tantalise with its opulent spices and sweet flower nectar. Colour me intrigued.
Now, I must confess that the news of an oud-injected version of Mugler’s successful Alien did arouse some titters on Twitter in addition to the usual moans about the over-exposure of everyone’s favourite noble tree rot. Of course, Mugler has all but resisted the oud trend for quite some time (although, they have flirted with the note in their Miroir Miroir! series) and the fact that the last non-oud converted bastion of the industry had finally given in did elicit a sigh or two, from yours truly included. As time progressed however, the idea of an Alien oud grew to be an interesting one. I mean, Alien is a pretty fierce woody jasmine fragrance that lends itself well to remixes (see Alien Essence Absolue & Alien Le Goût du Parfum), and a middle-eastern take on an intense, space-age floral actually seemed like something worth sniffing. At risk of spoiling the rest of this review, I can confirm that it is.
“Cocoon your mind, body and soul in Alien Oud Majestueux, the new oriental fragrance. This scent will transport you to the spice markets of the Middle East where your senses will be tantalised with the fragrant notes of opulent spices and sweet flower nectar.”
“An olfactory dedication to the woody note. [..] A*Men Pure Wood is an invitation to a journey to the heart of the woody note, an elegant yet rugged accent in masculine perfumes, boldly revisited for this occasion.”
– Thierry Mugler
Not a day goes by on this blog without me making some sort-of reference to the house of Thierry Mugler. It’s no secret that I am the Mugler fan boy and I consider his fragrances to be as much a part of my DNA as my blue eyes and brown hair. The Mugler fragrances speak to me because they are bold, edgy and entirely over the top – everything that I want to be, and I revel in their distinct and challenging olfactory signatures, the way Mugler’s muses lavished themselves in his structured couture.
A*Men (also known as ‘Angel Men’) is the house’s flagship masculine fragrance. Actually, it’s the brand’s only fragrance solely for men (not that that stops many women from wearing it) and as one would expect from the man that brought the world the motorcycle corset, it’s a bold and daring one. I love A*Men, it manages to throw in just about every note possible (peppermint, tar, lavender, chocolate, coffee, caramel, patchouli and vanilla), including the kitchen sink and manages to somehow work as a fragrance that is wearable. The problem is that I just don’t reach for it that much anymore, perhaps because it is so unique and demanding.
Each year, Thierry Mugler launches a limited edition version of A*Men that showcases one note or theme. Unofficially named the ‘Pure’ series, previous instalments have included; A*Men Pure Coffee, A*Men Pure Malt, A*Men Pure Leather and A*Men Pure Shot, and for this season, Mugler is launching an ode to the ruggedness of wood, cheekily entitled A*Men Pure Wood. Created by perfumer, Jacques Huclier (the man behind the original A*Men in 1996), Pure Wood is one of the most commercial interpretations of A*Men, and dare I say, one of the sexiest.
It’s impossible to look at TOY, the latest fragrance from Italian fashion brand, Moschino and not smile. I mean, the perfume is packaged inside a cuddly little teddy bear, so one’s initial encounter with the fragrance will usually involve the utterance of noises such as “aww” and “squee” and cries of “OH. MY. GOD. IT’S. SO. BLOOMING. CUTE” and “IT’SSOFLUFFYI’MGONNA’DIE”. It is after all, incredibly cute and that gorgeous little face is adorably cheeky, and impossible to resist.
TOY is the brainchild of Moschino’s Creative Director, Jeremy Scott, who has worked with the likes or Rihanna, Katy Perry, Björk, Madonna, Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga, just to name a small sample of the upper echelon of pop divas that he has collaborated with. The scent is being positioned by the brand as a “revolutionary product launch” that offers “a completely innovative way to package, show and sell fragrance”, posing the question whether this bear is a perfume or a toy. It also serves as a nice nod back to Moschino’s founder, Franco Moschino, who famously used stuffed animals on garments in his 1988 Fall-Winter collection.
Created by perfumer Alexandra Kosinski (Etat Libre d’Orange Cologne), TOY displays woody, floral and citrus notes that are intended to be evocative of the bear’s forest home. Whether TOY is exactly that, a toy, or a perfume, or a teddy bear, or all of the above depends on how you approach it. What cannot be denied however, is that this is an attention-grabbing launch that breathes new life into the world of Moschino parfums, and an incredibly cute one at that.
“From the depths of the wild, stuffed animal kingdom comes TOY, Moschino’s latest fragrance. Conceived by Moschino Creative Director Jeremy Scott, TOY smashes every fragrance preconception to bits, boldly redrawing its form, function and fabulousness.”
Recently, whilst putting together my guide to masculine fragrance for MANFACE, I realised that I quite like manly perfumes. This may not sound like much of a revelation, I am a man after all (well, at least I was last time I checked), and it would therefore make sense that I was a fan of those fragrances which sit on the masculine side of the aisle, but the truth is that I’ve always thought I found solace in the world of feminine perfumery. That said, a quick look at the number of masculine offerings in my list favourite fragrances contradicts this, so when it comes down to it, I guess my love for perfume spans all gender barriers.
The problem I have with masculine perfumery is that is often boring and clichéd. As a general rule of thumb, us gents are less adventurous with perfume. Add this to the fact that many mainstream masculine fragrances are dull, synthetic and obnoxious, and you don’t exactly have a recipe for success. This isn’t always the case though, and as you’ll see in my masculine fragrance guide (link above), there are more than a good few masculines out there that are generally interesting and beautiful, and I always feel a sense of joy when I encounter a new fragrance for men that simply smells very good.
One decent (and recent) example is ‘WILD’, the latest fragrance from fashion brand DSquared². Created by perfumers Daphné Bugey and Annick Menardo, WILD is a woody aromatic fragrance that is described by the brand as being “an overwhelming perfume that announces a free and wild soul”. Housed within the fetishistic confines of a leather-strapped bottle, and accompanied by a provocative ad campaign shot by fashion photographer, Stephen Klein (a NSFW example can be seen below the jump), WILD certainly makes a statement – one that surprisingly focuses on the idea of freedom, rather than sexual provocation.
“For us fragrance has an emotional connection to who we are, it uncovers a long-held desire or dream, which is why the concept of WILD has such an intrinsic link to us and the ideaology of DSquared2. The ultimate authentic expression of self is to live with complete freedom of speech and mind – we are fascinated with this concept, especially in today’s society.”
It’s a simple fact that the late perfumer, Mona di Orio made beautiful perfumes. Having studied under the great Edmond Roudnitska (Dior’s Eau Sauvage & Diorissimo, and Rochas’ Femme), di Orio had a knack for creating romantic and surprising compositions that often turned a familiar signature on its head. Since her death, Mona’s co-founder, Jeroen Oude Sogtoen has remained faithful to her legacy and has released a number of fragrances from the archives – fragrances created by Mona di Orio before her untimely death. These have included the stunning Eau Absolue and the masterpiece that is Violette Fumée.
It seems that the brand is now turning a corner. There was always going to come a point where di Orio’s back catalogue of unreleased material would run out and an external perfumer would need to be invited in to compose something new. Now is that time and the brand is launching their first fragrance under their new Monogram collection, as well as re-releasing older perfumes (e.g. Nuit Noire and Lux) into the Signature collection. They’re also slowly re-packing the Les Nombres d’Or collection, starting with Oud, which is now called Oudh Osmanthus.
Myrrh Casati is Mona di Orio’s first fragrance composed by an external perfumer. Penned by Melanie Leroux, Myrrh Casati makes a statement as something quite different from the other perfumes within Mona di Orio’s extensive collection. The brand describe this ode to myrrh as being “extravagant, dark, [and] mysterious”, and I’d definitely agree with the latter two descriptors in that sentence – I’m just not entirely convinced that it is extravagant in the same way many of the Mona di Orio fragrances are. Myrrh Casati serves as an interesting diversification for the brand, for sure.
“Inspired by Marchesa Casati, the legendary patron of the arts and muse of eccentricity, known for her extravagant dark fashion and lavish fetes replete with exotic animals, gilded servants, and an infectious waft of incense and mystery that surrounded her.”