Sampling masculine fragrances can be a royal pain in the bum because for the most part they are dreadful calone-fuelled citrus things that feel thin, bland and made for the lowest common denominator. Of course that’s not to say they are all bad, far from it, there is a whole heap of good masculine scents on the market, it just seems that in terms of new launches, the good ones are becoming harder to find.
Luckily for us boys there are some good, not mind-blowing, but good masculine fragrances on the market that don’t break the bank. Two such fragrances are Roger & Gallet’s duo of masculines ‘L’Homme’ and ‘L’Homme Sport’. Between these two masculines Roger & Gallet have catered for both the stylish older man (L’Homme) and the easygoing younger man (L’Homme Sport) at an affordable price.
L’Homme was introduced in 1979 and is described by Roger & Gallet as “an Eau de Toilette…with an authentic, distinctive chypre character” whilst its 2009 counterpart “plays a second oflactive score and reveals another contemporary facet”. Two fragrances, worlds apart, and both representing the duality of the modern man.
“It is in the summer when I truly feel happy and at peace.”
The weather has been more than a bit funny during the last couple of weeks. Firstly it was unseasonably warm for a couple of days, and over here the first hint of sun and warmth sends us Brits into a shorts, t-shirt and flip-flop wearing frenzy even though it still it isn’t quite warm enough for all of that malarky, and then as if it couldn’t quite make up its mind the weather changed quite considerably.
Following the unexpected warmth there has been a just-as-unusual-for-this-time-of-year spell of cold weather, with heavy snow in some parts of the north. This tease of summer which was quickly clawed back by the cruelness of winter has left me craving the sun, I am a June baby after all and it is in the summer when I truly feel happy and at peace. Another reason I love summer is that it’s the perfect time to rock my favourite florals, but that’s beside the point, the main reason that summer is so good is because its the time where we really get to enjoy the outdoors.
To celebrate the summer season, each year Paul Smith launches a duo (one masculine and one feminine) of summer fragrances called the Paul Smith Sunshine Editions, the scents remain the same every year however the bottles change. Both fragrances “express the end of a sunny summers day” and the masculine edition that I shall be reviewing today certainly leads me to think of warm, sunny days where the soul feels energised and care-free.
Last week’s poll focused on the age old debate of spraying vs dabbing. Unsurprisingly, due to the fact that is the most commonly available application method, spraying won the battle with a total of 73.5% of the vote. What I found particularly interesting about the results was the fact that 20% answered that they didn’t care how the perfume was applied and a number of comments stated that it actually depended on the perfume as to whether they sprayed or dabbed, with dabbing being the preferred method of application for pure parfum/extrait and spraying for Eau de Parfum or Eau de Toilette.
This week’s poll moves on to a completely different subject, that of perfume genres. Tastes in perfume tend to be fairly eclectic and most fumeheads own a number of bottles from a variety of fragrance families, but most will also have a favourite, and I want to know what yours is. Register your vote and let me know your thoughts in the comments box below!
Throughout the majority of my perfume journey I have been under the impression that it’s all about the juice with my mantra very much being; ‘nothing else matters except the smell’. But I’m no longer sure that this is entirely true, after all a perfume is a concept, and the best perfumes are the ones where the smell, bottle, name and concept are harmonious with each other. One thing that I have recently discovered is that a bad name can really take away from my overall enjoyment of a perfume. I can hide a crap bottle and I don’t necessarily have to tell people the inspiration behind the perfume I’m wearing, but if the name is bad then things can go sour rapidly.
Take Shalimar for example, could Guerlain have picked a more beautiful and fitting name? Or what about Gorilla Perfume’s ‘Breath of God’? Or on the flip-side, think of Thierry Mugler’s Womanity, the hideous name (sorry Thierry) honestly does make me hesitate from picking up my bottle at times. A bad name can ruin things, just as a good name can be the cherry on top that makes for perfection.
One brand who can always be counted on for an interesting name is Etat Libre d’Orange – they’ve got it all, from Fat Electricians to Magnificent Secretions and Hotel Whores. I think these names are fabulous but I can understand why they might rub some people up the wrong way, they are after all quite risqué. But name-wise Etat Libre d’Orange are at their best when they aren’t trying to be controversial (‘Jasmin et Cigarette’ anyone?) and none have been bestowed with a more perfect name than their latest release – ‘Malaise of the 1970s’.
Malaise of the 1970s may be the latest perfume from the Orange Free State but it is in fact a repackaged version of 2010’s Sex Pistols fragrance created in collaboration with Sephora. Etat Libre d’Orange describe Malaise of the 1970s as being “Inspired by a wealth of seventies pop culture references, from Star Wars to The Stranglers, Malaise of the 1970s captures the resistant and tumultuous spirit of the times. A metallic juice that resonates like the twang of a guitar string, its sharpness reminiscent of safety pins fastened to tartan. A distillation of rebellion, music and raw emotion.” 
Perfume, like fashion, follows trends and these trends often relate to particular styles of perfumery or even individual notes. We very often see the same genus of perfumes coming on to the market at any one time, for instance fruity florals are everywhere at the moment and I challenge you to find 10 perfumes released in the last year that don’t contain pink pepper. But as with trends in fashion, things in the world of perfumery don’t last long before tastes change once again and a new style comes along. We are fickle creatures after all.
The problem with trends is that they very quickly become boring, and this has very much been the case with oud. Everyone has an oud, everybody from Guerlain to Creed, even Ferrari has one… (no, I’m not joking). A quick search of the Basenotes Fragrance Directory shows that there are in fact 199 fragrances containing the word oud in the title and a 148 which list the noble rot as a note. One can easily come to the conclusion that there are definitely too many ouds and it is easy to become overwhelmed by and even bored with the trend.
Of course, just because there are a lot of ouds on the market doesn’t mean that there isn’t still room for ingenuity and excellent craft, in fact it is quite the opposite, there are some really good ouds out there (just see The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Oud). Last year Mona di Orio created Oud, a wonderfully unique take on oud, and this year Francis Kurkdjian does the same, and his offering could not be more unique.
OUD is the latest perfume to join the Maison Francis Kurkdjian lineup and it really is something very special. Francis Kurkdjian says of his oud offering: “My oud belongs to a marble palace engraved with gold, set under a dark-blue-star-studded night. It is the fine sand of the capricious sand dune, a fragrant harmattan in the silence of the desert.” Where most ouds are coloured in deep reds or rich browns, Kurkdjian’s is hued a pure cerulean blue and right from the beginning this OUD makes it clear that it is not your typical oud perfume.
“I love a perfume that makes me smile – Fils de Dieu brings the smiles, and plenty of them”
Despite their often hyper-sexed and occasionally misdirected marketing techniques, Etat Libre d’Orange are one of the most solid niche brands out there. They offer a line of well made, interesting, unusual and affordable fragrances that simply cannot be matched. The Etat Libre d’Orange war cry is “Parfum est mort, vive le parfum” (“perfume is dead, long live perfume”) and they are going a very long way to resurrect the concept of fun into the landscape of modern perfumery, a landscape that can so often become devoid of any delight.
I have said many times before that I am a self-proclaimed Etat Libre d’Orange fanboy, I simply cannot help it, I find their compositions to be filled with humour, occasional, nay regular genius, surprise and wonder. Each one is an essay in pushing the boundaries of perfume, turning familiar genres on their heads and firmly sticking two figures up at the bland, the trite and the cheap.
Fils de Dieu or ‘Fils de Dieu Du Riz et Des Agrumes’ (Son of God of Rice and Citrus Fruits) to use its full name is one of two latest releases from everyone’s favourite French olfactory freedom fighters, the other being Bijou Romantique. It was created by Ralf Schwieger and the concept behind it is interesting to say the least. Also available under the more controversial name of ‘Philippine Houseboy’, Fils de Dieu “is the golden eye that reflects beauty and conflict, rapture and pain. It is an emotional fragrance that requires a sympathetic connection between the server and the served, the giver and the taker, and the willingness to exchange roles.” 
In 2010 the king of dark, brooding orientals and baroque florals, Serge Lutens, decided to launch an ‘anti-perfume’, a perfume that was designed to give you “a lasting sensation of wearing a ‘clean’ scent” . Cue a huge outcry from the perfume community and hardcore Lutens fanboys (and girls); “He’s doing WHAT?! A clean scent?! Looks like Uncle Serge has finally lost it” they said.
Aristotle said “There is no great genius without a mixture of madness” and It is clear to me that Uncle Serge hasn’t lost it, instead it seems that he has quite the sense of humour. I can just see him sat in his office above his flagship boutique in the Palais Royal, chuckling away at the thought of the die-hard Lutenites trying L’Eau for the very first time. In my head he utters Miranda Hart’s catchphrase “such fun” as he tries to stifle his giggles.
This year Lutens has decided to take the joke that little bit further with the addition of L’Eau Froide, and as the name suggests, this time the water he is playing around with is is cold. Where L’Eau is described as a new kind of clean, L’Eau Froide is “Some fresh air in the rusty old water pipes.”  I told you he had a sense of humour! L’Eau was an essay in cleanliness and purity but L’Eau Froide is an essay in austerity and is just as gothic and Lutensien as you would hope it to be.
“Refreshing as a cocktail, sexy as a Brazilian dance.” 
I was quite late to the L’Artisan Parfumeur party. I remember trying three of their most popular scents (Tea For Two, Patchouli Patch and Voleur de Roses) way back when I first started getting into the world of perfume. I didn’t enjoy them at all and the line wasn’t too easy to find in the UK, so in my ignorance I ignored the line for quite a while. What a mistake that was.
Since the opening of their Covent Garden store I have had the opportunity to revisit the L’Artisan Parfumeur line and this time with much more encouraging results. I now own and love two (Traversée du Bosphore and Vanille Absolument) and I could quite happily add a few more (Al Oudh, Dzing! and L’Eau d’Ambree Extreme) to my collection. Now that I have made friends with the line, a new release is always exciting news and I very much looked forward to trying Batucada.
Batucada is the latest addition to L’Artisan Parfumeur’s ‘Les Voyages Exotiques’ line and “is a celebration of contemporary Brazil in a vibrant, joyful and sensual perfume, inspired by the effervescence and rhythm of Rio – Batucada is the name of a percussive style of samba music” . Created by two perfumers; Karine Vinchon in Grasse and Elisabeth Maier in São Paolo, Batacuda is designed to be a vivacious, sparkling cocktail evocative of the spirit of the streets of Latin America.
“Theseus sits within that genre of confident and comfortable masculine fragrances that feel like they could be worn with the most casual or the smartest of clothing.”
Lorenzo Villoresi, the fragrance house by the Italian perfumer of the same name, is a brand that I have to admit that I haven’t had a great deal of exposure to. My experience with the house extends to a quite disastrous encounter with their most popular fragrance – Teint de Neige, a baby powder mess that really isn’t me at all. But, I won’t let one bad experience taint my idea of a brand, and I have heard positive things about the rest of the line, so it is with great interest that I try their latest release – Theseus.
Theseus, which takes it’s name from Greek mythology (he was the dude that killed the Minotaur), is the latest addition to Lorenzo Villoresi’s ‘Fantasy Fragrances’, a collection consisting of fragrances which “recall exotic and dreaming worlds, atmospheres and landscapes.” Theseus is described as:
“A fresh, radiant, sunny fragrance, evocative of ancient adventures over strange countries and seas, in the search of mythological lands. An elegant fragrance, noble and timeless, deep and velvety, full of rare, intense and precious scents. Citrus fruits, herbs, spices and mysterious resins. The seductive aroma of ancient wood and flowers, overflowing with delicate fragrances.”
“A brief history of perfume, told through five distinct fragrances. From lost worlds, along ancient silk and spice routes to a brave new world.” 
We’ve seen it many times before, a mainstream house releasing a series of fragrances based around a single concept. Sometimes it works really well (see Guerlain’s L’Art et la Matiére line or Chanel’s Les Exclusifs) and sometimes it fails epically (see Dolce & Gabanna’s Anthology line).
Usually lines launched with multiple fragrances are a bit hit and miss, they tend to have one or two ‘greats’, more than a couple of average ones and a their fair share of clangers. So it is with trepidation that I approach any new ‘collection’.
I am very familiar with Molton Brown’s line of shower gels, hand creams, hand washes and body products (which I think are generally very good btw) but I have to admit that I’m not overly familiar with their stand-alone fragrances, so this collection could go either way for me.