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!
In the first of new series for Escentual, I take you deep into my fragrance wardrobe to showcase some of my favourite scents. For this instalment I’m looking at those juicy, mouthwatering, and all-round delightful citruses. Check it out here!
TOM FORD has certainly explored the world of his bestselling cologne, Neroli Portofino with undeniable fervour. The range consists of a dazzling array of interpretations, ranging from the original Eau de Parfum to last year’s honeyed Fleur de Portofino, and all that’s in between. This year, TOM FORD is sandwiching the original between two exciting new concentrations, with the lighter Neroli Portofino Acqua to its left and the intense Neroli Portofino Forte on its right. Both take the bold neroli-musk accord of the original and present it as something either more accessible or luxurious, but always interesting.
A week or so ago we took a look at the Acqua, the lighter, less spendy and more accessible take on NP and this week we are throwing caution completely to the wind with Neroli Portofino Forte, which is pretty much the opposite of Acqua in every respect, being stronger, more expensive and less widely distributed. So, how does a more intense take on TOM FORD’s neo-classic cologne fair in the sniff test? Well, there’s only one way to find out: read on.
Neroli Portofino Forte is a bold, exhilarating intensification of the Neroli Portofino Experience. The classic scent is rarified with rich, sublime depth as the amplified concentration of its floral core is lavishly heightened to utmost opulence. With the bold and impassioned introduction of coastal Italian woods and smooth leather in its composition, Neroli Portofino Forte marks an exquisite monument in the Neroli Portofino collection.
It’s spring, which means that it’s Aqua Allegoria season! I always enjoy Guerlain’s mini-line of simplistic, nature inspired fragrant ditties because they are easy breezy wears that are such fun in the summer. They showcase fruits and flowers in an intelligent and high quality manner but with a sense of style and fun. This year, the mainstream AA is Pera Granita – a sweet little daydream that feels more like a scoop of ice cold pear sorbet than it does a fragrance. Click here to head on over to Escentual to read my review in full.
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.
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’.
As I walked up the Crawford Street in Marylebone, London, towards the new Perfumer H store, I must admit that I had a fair few butterflies in my stomach. I’m a nervous person at the best of times, but I was especially so on this occasion because I was on my way to meet Lyn Harris, the nose that puts the ‘Perfumer’ and the ‘H’ into Perfumer H. Harris’ CV precedes her, having built the hugely successful fragrance house, Miller Harris, from scratch in her early twenties, to the global lifestyle brand that it is today, Harris has a knack for making unfussy perfumes with a spirit of clarity. This spirit is not lost in Perfumer H however, it is presented in an entirely different way.
Stepping across the threshold of Perfumer H, I needn’t have been worried or been nervous at all, as the whole experience was an entirely relaxed affair, from the setup of the shop to the rather insightful chat I had with Harris herself over a cup of hot bergamot tea. As I enter the store, I’m greeted by a dog snoozing calmly on the chair. His name is Pop and he’s a handsome border terrier who, quite rightly, appears rather at home amongst the inviting, yet surprisingly minimal decor of the store. The presence of Pop cements the fact that Perfumer H is not a brand in the typical sense, with a pre-defined personality or ethos. Instead, Perfumer H is an extension of Lyn Harris, and its personality is Lyn as she is today, and it says what she wants to say, all through the medium of olfaction.
Thierry Mugler’s annual reimagining of their flagship masculine fragrance, A*Men (the counterpart to the iconic Angel) is pretty much a tradition at this point. Each and every year the brand treats us to the signature of Angel Men zhuzzed up into something new and exciting. So far, we’ve seen our mate, A*Men; smoke tobacco (Pure Havane), drink whisky (Pure Malt), chase some chilli (A*Men Le Goût du Parfum) and even dabble in the world of lumberjackery (Pure Wood). The A*Men family is made up of a bunch of fraternal twins that all have a different sense of style – and what a great bunch they are.
For 2015, Mugler is doing something a little bit different with A*Men by putting it into a citrus setting. The bottle has been dyed a fabulous shade of neon orange, as has the fragrance for that matter. This new edition (penned by Jacques Huclier and Quentin Bisch) is entitled A*Men Ultra Zest, and as the name would suggest, it focuses on an array of mouthwatering citrus notes to accentuate A*Men’s cosmic cocktail of gourmand treats. Unlike many other citrus fragrances, Ultra Zest is bold and daring. What else could we expect from Mugler?
“A*Men brings you a new twist on the original: Ultra Zest. Shaken, not stirred, this new male fragrance will tantalise the senses as it burst with fresh, citrus, spicy and woody notes. This refreshing cocktail dares you to stand out from the crowd, be bold and go where most won’t dare to go”
Hermès have to be admired for their consistency. Since installing the inimitable Jean-Claude Ellena as their in-house perfumer (he is soon set to retire and step down from his post), the house has regularly turned out fascinating, beautiful and nature-inspired fragrances in a cohesive style. Ellena’s perfumes for Hermès are not grand dames or challenging experiments, they are landscape paintings in pastel-coloured chalks or water colours. Their transparency and weightlessness are what sets them apart from the crowd, and whilst they follow a distinct style, they never fall into the trap of being too similar. There is variety in this extensive oeuvre as well as beauty.
One of Hermès more popular collection of fragrances is the ‘Les Jardin’ series. The five fragrances from this series are designed as fragrant tales of lengthy strolls through glorious gardens in various locations around the globe. Whether they be set on a roof top in Paris or along the Nile in Egypt, these are transportive scents that fit somewhere between abstraction and reality. Their delicate and translucent style gives the impression that air from each location has simply been bottled, and as one sprays this scented oxygen, the garden comes to life right in front of their eyes (or should I say, ‘nose’).
For 2015, Hermès has launched ‘Le Jardin de Monsieur Li’. Following a visit it to China, Jean-Claude Ellena pieced together this imaginary idea of a Chinese garden, that is designed as a retreat – a contemplative place for the visitor to take solace in and seek tranquility, and peace. “We all have something in us of Mr Li” says Hermès, and we all need a safe haven to run off to when the stresses of life take hold – Le Jardin Monsieur Li is that very place, and in it one can seek both happiness and a true sense of calm.
“The sickness of making flankers every five minutes is very upsetting, but if I don’t want to get kicked out for not doing my job, I have to do it”
– Thierry Wasser ¹
Thierry Wasser, in-house perfumer at Guerlain, recently likened the penchant brands have for creating numerous flankers to a “sickness” and when looking at the numerous incarnatons of the house’s flagship fragrance, Shalimar, it’s easy to see why. In the last five years we’ve seen seven, that’s right, seven new Shalimar flankers ranging from the sublime Parfum Initial and Ode à la Vanille to the less interesting Parfum Initial L’Eau, and on occasions the brand has stretched the Shalimar association pretty thin.
With their latest flanker, Shalimar Souffle de Parfum, the link has become so emaciated it may have finally snapped. Sniffing the flanker, it’s pretty difficult to pick out exactly how the two fragrances are alike. Shalimar is a grand dame of the oriental world, showcasing bubbling bergamot, smoky-sweet vanilla powder and tons of heavy resins. Souffle de Parfum on the other hand is, well, the complete opposite of that. It may not be worthy of the Shalimar name, but does that mean that it’s a bad fragrance?
Guerlain describe Souffle de Parfum as a “gently perfumed caress” ² and a “breath of extreme sensuality” ², with the ‘Souffle’ here referring to the French word for breath, as opposed to anything culinary-related. It has been designed to celebrate the lighter facets of Shalimar, specifically focus on the shining citrus that famously graces the Oriental Queen’s top notes, and the plush vanilla that sits at her core. In that respect, Souffle de Parfum succeeds, merging these two themes together to create something that may, or may not be Shalimar, depending on how one looks at it.