Steel and Black
Steel and Black – The first two premium fragrances from “British hero brand” Superdry

First things first, massive apologies for the lack of posts over the last week or so. Things have been busy in both good ways (my Perfume Lovers London talk etc) and bad ways (job hunting) and the blog has had to take a little bit of a back seat. Thank you for bearing with me and things should now run on their usual schedule!

I’m quite partial to the odd piece of clothing or accessory from British clothing brand Superdry. I currently rock a coat, couple of shirts and a rather snazzy pair of specs from their collection and I’m attracted to the brand’s laid back style which seems to be a mish-mash of Japanese graphics and vintage Americana.

As for Superdry fragrances, well up until very recently my exposure was minimal. I haven’t spent too much time with the brand’s first three scents (Dry, Double Dry and Dry Oil) but I remember them being relatively well done (one in particular was a nice take on Dior Homme) so it was with great interest that I accepted an offer to try the fragrances in Superdry’s Cologne collection.

The first two in the collection that I will be reviewing are Steel and Black. Both fragrances were released in 2011 and are designed to have “day-to-night appeal” and whilst they may not be masterpieces of modern perfumery, they easily fit the laid back, modern-with-a-retro-touch styling of the Superdry brand. Oh and they come in really cool Zippo lighter-style bottles too…

Eau Dynamisante
Clarins’ classic citrus chypre is 25 this year

What do The Candy Perfume Boy and Clarins’ Eau Dynamisante have in common? They were both born in 1987 and turned 25 this year, that’s what! Such longevity in the perfume industry sure is something to celebrate and Clarins are doing so by releasing a limited edition bottle which sees Eau Dynamisante encased in a veil of red glitter.

Eau Dynamisante was first released by Clarins in 1987 and is innovative because it is not just a fragrance, it’s a skin treatment too. Clarins describe Eau Dynamisante as “an innovative feel-good fragrance created from an inspired blend of 14 aromatic essential oils and therapeutic plant extracts with the power to scent skin, invigorate the sense and moisturise and soften from top-to-toe.” It’s not just innovative though, it’s also very popular and every three minutes a bottle is purchased in the UK. Now that’s impressive!

Before spritzing on some Eau Dynamisante in preparation for this review I was absolutely sure that it would not be ‘my thing’. This pre conceived notion was based on the fact that citrus fragrances don’t really move me and I was convinced that I had tried it before and wasn’t wowed. I am actually quite surprised to say that I really like it and I think it is the perfect scent to combat the muggy, sweaty days of summer.

Roger & Gallet L'Homme & L'Homme Sport - "Intense Freshness"
Roger & Gallet L’Homme & L’Homme Sport – “Intense Freshness”

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.

Sunshine

“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.

The Poll

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!

Let it Rock

“Let it Rock!”

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.” [1] 

OUD 1
“Where most ouds are coloured in deep reds or rich browns, Kurkdjian’s is hued a pure cerulean blue”

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.