The Candy Perfume Boy's Guide to Jasmine
The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Jasmine

The Candy Perfume Boy’s ‘Guide to…‘ series is a Jasmine award winning fragrant exploration of the individual notes that make up the vast and multi-dimensional spectrum that is the world of perfume. In each episode, we take a detailed look at a particular ingredient, analysing its odour profile and the ‘must sniff’ perfumes that serve as reference examples within the genre.

The many fragrant trips in the series have seen us make stops at Planet Tuberose, Chocolate World and Lavender Moon. We’ve also taken journeys to discover the notes of Oud, Orange Blossom, Violet and Lily. Oh, and we mustn’t forget Vanilla – we’ve been there too (and it was particularly delicious, I must say). All-in-all, we’ve traversed some delectably smelly places, learning more and more about the world of perfume on the way. I for one have found it to be great fun, and I hope you, dear reader, have too.

In this instalment we take a look at one of perfumery’s most important, prominent and prolific ingredients – jasmine. This stuff is a vital building block in our perfumes and iconic fragrances such as Chanel’s Nº5 (a true legend) simply would be the same without it. So, without further ado, I have put together my selection of ‘reference’ jasmine fragrances – seven of the very best, to be precise – to help you guide yourself through the must sniffs of the jasmine world. Let’s go scent-trekking.

The Small Sniff - Scenting TV's Leading Ladies
The Small Sniff – Scenting TV’s Leading Ladies

“The Scent a Celebrity Series is my vain attempt at picking perfumes for those who don’t know any better, yes I mean celebrities. Let’s face it, most celebrities are incapable of choosing decent clothing, boyfriends, girlfriends, movies, (insert-celebrity-mistake-here) let alone having the ability to make decisions about something as important as their scent – that’s where I come in. Never fear my dear schlebs, I will ensure that you are appropriately scented, all you need to do is listen.”

I’d be lying if I said that the Scent a Celebrity Series wasn’t one of my favourite things to write. There’s just something about the challenge of trying to match a complex personality or character with the olfactory signature of a perfume. Sometimes the choices seem obvious or easy, but on other occasions these scented picks can range from the downright tricky to the marvellously obscure. Challenging or not, the Scent a Celebrity Series intends to be a bit of light, fragrant fun.

For this latest instalment in the series, I’m taking a look at some of television’s leading ladies. Over the last few years TV has risen to match, and even surpass the quality of film, creating a wealth of fascinating and entertaining shows for hungry eyes to feast upon. This means that we’ve also seen some exceptionally real and complex female characters on the small screen too, and that is never a bad thing. In this post you’ll find some of my favourites, along with a slew of scented companions.

Last Minute Gift Guide
Last Minute Gift Guide

In life, I take a ‘leave it all to the last minute and hope for the best’ approach. Organisation is not my strong suit, and it is most definitely true that I work best under pressure. It will serve as no surprise then, that I haven’t quite completed my Christmas shopping yet, and yes, I’m well aware that it is exactly one week until Santa pays his annual visit. What can I say? I’ve just been busy with other things.

To help myself, and those around me who are also last-minute sort-of-folk, I’ve prepped a ‘Last Minute Gift Guide’ for my Escentual column this week. In this guide you will find; handy stocking stuffers for him and her, mid-range marvels and even big ticket splurges that will wow your recipient, even if they do depress your bank balance slightly. So, if you’re still looking for that one last gift, or just fancy a treat for yourself after being so wonderfully generous to everyone else, click here to check out my last-minute Christmas gift guide.

Desert Island Sniffs
Desert Island Sniffs

After an extended hiatus, due to nothing other than my incredible lack of decent organisational skills, my favourite series, Desert Island Sniffs is back! In this series, we explore the lives of people inextricably linked to the perfume industry and the fragrances that have significant sentimental value to them. By discussing the scents that are of importance to people, we can get a unique insight into what makes them tick and a distinct idea of their character. All in all, these sniffs can be utterly fascinating.

If you’re not familiar with this series, the concept is very simple – I invite important members of the perfume industry, such as brand owners, creative directors and perfumers, to be stranded on their very own desert island, along with 5 carefully curated perfumes of their choice. It may be a tricky job narrowing a life down to such a small number of perfumes, but I can assure you that it is an entirely worthwhile exercise!

The perfumes they choose should be those that have had a significant impact on their scented lives and map specific points in their journey of olfactory discovery. In addition to their 5 Desert Island Sniffs one is kind enough to allow them to take a luxury item (only one, mind) and a ‘perfume bible’ to keep them company. By the end of this series there is going to be some rather fabulously smelling desert islands out there!

The Fifth Element
The Fifth Element

One of my favourite films is Luc Besson’s 1997 futuristic sci-fi ‘The Fifth Element’ – a look at the future through a French lens. I love everything about this film, from the Jean Paul Gaultier-designed costumes to Chris Tucker’s bizarre, yet engaging performance as a camp and sexually confusing radio-host. I even don’t mind the sight of Bruce Willis in a vest (Gaultier, of course), but that’s a less important fact, and one that I’m sure you will judge me for later.

I watched the film recently and whilst delving into Besson’s pre-apocalyptic vision of the future, my mind turned to perfume, as it so often does. If you’ve not watched The Fifth Element, firstly shame on you, but secondly, it is essentially a film about saving the world by gathering together the four fundamental elements (earth, water, wind and fire), along with the elusive fifth element (Milla Jovovich) to create the Divine Light and destroy the Great Evil. Sounds pretty fab, huh?

Amouage's Journey Man & Journey Woman
Amouage’s Journey Man & Journey Woman

I may be a bit behind on the Amouage-front, but I still cannot believe that the time has come (and now passed) for the house to launch their annual pair of fragrances. Last year’s duo, Fate Woman and Fate Man, were definitely a divisive pair, with some perfume lovers falling madly in love with the scents and others finding themselves not too impressed. My feelings were somewhere in the middle of this spectrum, seeing them as high quality outings, but perhaps not the most stimulating offerings from such a dynamic brand.

This year Amouage is launching Journey Woman and Journey Man, two perfumes inspired by “Shanghai deco, Chinese cinema and film noir” and for the first time, housed in striking two-tone bottles of rich red and gold. These new fragrances mark the end of the first cycle of the Amouage narrative and as much as they smell like Amouage fragrances, they don’t appear to be as noticeably bold as the perfumes that have proceeded them.

Journey Woman and Journey Man mark a change in the Amouage aesthetic, not only with the two-toned bottles, but also with their fragrant signatures, both of which are unusual takes on the house’s staple oriental opulence. With this new duo, Amouage moves forward into unchartered territory, speaking in the language of subtlety and scenting the air with an understated sense of panache.

Expect the Unexpected: Opus VIII by Amouage
Expect the Unexpected: Opus VIII by Amouage

I never know what to expect when a new Amouage lands on my doorstep. The entire output from the industry’s most luxurious of houses is complex, intricate and grand beyond much else found in perfume stores. This complexity means that they’re not always the easiest perfumes to pin down and I personally find that one has to spend a fair bit of time with an Amouage before they can truly say they know it.

Amouage’s latest edition to their experimental Library Collection, ‘Opus VIII‘, is no exception and much like the wickedly dangerous, galbanum-soaked leather jacket of Opus VII and the delectably intense, salty amber of Opus VI that have preceded it, this beguiling perfume created by perfumers Pierre Negrin and Richard Herpin in conjunction with Creative Director Christopher Chong, is perhaps the most labyrinthine composition to have ever exited Amouage’s doors.

 

A Guide to Fougère
A Guide to Fougère

In a continuation of my bite size fragrance family guides on Escentual, my column this week takes a look at the dapper, debonair and definitely manly world of the fern-esque Fougère. Despite my love for all things feminine, floral and ridiculously over-the-top I do happen to quite like a good Fougère, whether it be something as abstract as Guerlain’s Jicky or a scent as handsome as Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fleur du Mâle. In my world the Fougère is the best kind of masculine.

This Guide to Fougère takes a whistle stop tour of the genre, taking a look at three key examples; one classic, one modern and one contemporary. Amongst these interpretations one will find something elegant, something rebellious and something altogether more brooding. If you fancy reading the piece (and topping up on your Fougère fix) please click here to head on over to Escentual. Don’t forget to let me know what your favourite Fougères are whilst you’re there!

Perfume Pic of the Week
Perfume Pic of the Week No.4: The Wedding Scent Shortlist

A scary fact dawned on me this weekend – the fact that it is not long at all until my dear fiancée and I get married, 103 days in fact. And I mean properly hitched, thanks to our lovely politicians allowing for gay marriages to take place for the first time in the UK in 2014. It’s a brave and wonderful world that we’re leaving in and I hope that all around the world others will have the same opportunities that I am ever so fortunate to have.

Now I’m very excited for my pending nuptials of course, but there is a lot to organise and whilst Nigel and I are very much on top of things, the pressure definitely feels on to get things done in the little time that we have left. We’ve sorted the flowers, cake, venue, Butler & Wilson bling, favours and a whole host of other things – but there’s still a lot to do and I’m hoping not to turn into a Groomzilla anytime soon!

Of course, one of the most important decisions for me to make is what perfume to wear on the big day. I posted a little while back, pooling some of my ideas together for the big wedding scent hunt. So how far have I come now? Have I finally picked my wedding scent? Or am I just as clueless as I was when I first started this little journey? Well the answer is…

The Candies 2013: The Very Best and the Very Worst Perfumes of the Year
The Candies 2013: The Very Best and the Very Worst Perfumes of the Year

Can you believe that 2013 is coming to a close already? I certainly can’t! It only feels like yesterday that I was sat at my laptop, tapping away at the first reviews of the year and looking forward to the exciting new smells that next 365 days would bring. It has, all-in-all, been a very good year, with lots of interesting new perfumes launched, and on a more personal note too, as this year I took on the exciting role of Fragrance Expert for Escentual.com.

The perfumes have come thick and fast over the year, and once again the industry has seen an increase in the overall number of perfumes launched. Over the year we’ve seen our fair share of masterpieces, duds, flankers and celebrity money makers in, and as with any other year it has been a roller coaster ride of an experience sifting through just a tiny portion of what has been released.

In this post – my annual perfume awards (‘The Candies’) – I’m taking a look at my fragrant highlights of the year and those perfumes that have impressed, moved and surprised me. I’m also highlighting the specific scents that have failed to meet the mark this year and are disappointing enough to warrant naming and shaming. So sit back, don your red carpet gown (or suit), pop the champagne and enjoy The Candies 2013.

[Please also head over to my fragrant brothers and sisters who are sharing their very best perfumes of 2013; Persolaise, Olfactoria’s Travels, Eyeliner on a Cat, Fragrant Moments, Perfume Shrine, I Smell Therefore I Am, SmellyBlog and The Fragrant Man.]