Wood Sage & Sea Salt
Wood Sage & Sea Salt

Jo Malone always strikes me as more of a lifestyle brand than a fragrance house. They produce an array of lovely scented goodies for the house and body that are housed within beautiful packaging. They look, feel and smell luxurious in a straight forward kind-of-way and have an unfussy approach in all that they do – an approach that does not seek to challenge. Their fragrances aren’t the most groundbreaking in the world, but they always come across as pleasant in a pure sort-of-way.

The brand’s latest fragrance, ‘Wood Sage & Sea Salt’ almost feels like a departure from the clean and pure simplicity that is inextricably linked with the name Jo Malone. Created by perfumer Christine Nagel, this new instalment from the British brand intends to celebrate the “treasure of the English coast” and be evocative of the “windswept shore” in a fresh, salty and mineral scent that really is unlike anything else one can find in the collection. Sure, it’s still a ‘clean’ cologne in the Jo Malone style, but it’s also a fascinatingly abstract piece of work that comes as a complete surprise.

“Escape the everyday along the windswept shore. Waves breaking white, the air fresh with seal salt and spray. Alive with the mineral scent of the rugged cliffs. Mingling with the woody earthiness of sage. Lively, spirited and totally joyful.”

Tom Ford's Neroli Portofino Collection
Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino Collection

If there ever was a time for Tom Ford to launch two new colognes, now was it. The relentless heat of summer appears to be continuing, well, relentlessly, and light, citrus-centric and floral colognes really are the genre du jour at this time of year. When the sun beats down indiscriminately in the sky and the muggy air really starts to the take the biscuit, the humble eau de cologne really is the only way forward.

Of course, Tom Ford’s fragrances are generally contemporary and high-fashion twists on traditional themes, therefore any eau de cologne launched by the brand isn’t likely to be conventional. Just take Ford’s Neroli Portofino, for example – a vibrant and clean neroli-based cologne that does the unthinkable – it lasts, and lasts. Tom Ford’s colognes may tip their cap to history, but as with all things he touches, they are exceptionally modern.

Much like last year’s Oud Wood Collection, Tom Ford is capitalising on the phenomenal success of Neroli Portofino to create the Neroli Portofino Collection. This capsule collection within Ford’s series of Private Blend consists of the aforementioned Neroli Portofino and two new colognes as stable mates – Costa Azzurra and Mandarino di Amalfi. One represents the early morning sun over a glimmering ocean, whilst the other is that same ocean scene as the sun dips below the horizon.

Cooling Fragrances - Because It's Too Hot to Wear Anything Else...
Cooling Fragrances – Because It’s Too Hot to Wear Anything Else…

It’s warm. Very warm. It would be fair to say that I don’t do well in the heat. I enjoy it for a few days, but after a while the relentless mugginess gets me down and I find myself crying out for some relief. Luckily for me, and those who share my difficulties with the warmth, there are a number of fragrances out there that can provide some much-needed olfactory refreshment on those days when the sun reigns supreme in the sky.

For my Escentual column this week, I’ve taken a look at six fragrances to wear when it is simply too hot to wear anything else. They range from straightforward eau de colognes to thirst quenching citrus fragrances, and I’ve even thrown in some ice cold fragrant offerings for when the mercury rises to crisis point. To read the piece, simply click here – make sure to let me know what your favourite cooling scents are!

Also – Don’t forget that you have until 22:00 GMT tonight to enter my fabulous third birthday giveaway to be in with a chance of winning a 60ml bottle of Alien by Thierry Mugler. Click here to enter. Good luck! Competition now closed.

London Rain
London Rain

I love the rain. There’s something about gloomy black skies and relentless downpours that appeal to my melancholic side. It’s fun too and as kids, my sister and I would often play outside in the rain until we were soaked through to the bone. We revelled in the burning cold of the open heavens and gorged on the smell of petrichor like greedy gremlins, fuelled by the most ancient and fundamental of elements. We also had fun splashing and throwing mud at each other, of course.

British perfume house Jo Malone appears to love the rain too, so much so in fact that they have launched a selection of four colognes (three new and one old) as part of their limited edition London Rain collection. Their take on rain is altogether more sanitised than my sister and I making mud pies though, focusing instead on the purifying and almost cinematic elements of rain within an urban landscape, celebrating it as a key part of London life. As the brand says; “what could be more British than London rain?”

“This collection is intensely urban whilst harnessing the power of nature in the city; drenched blooms, savage rainstorms battering the parks, the torrential drumbeat pelting the pavements. And the scents that rise from nature’s outburst, refreshing city life, making everything seem brand new.”

Created by perfumer Christine Nagel (Etat Libre d’Orange’s Archives 69, Versace Woman and Giorgio Armani’s Si) the London Rain collection consists of; Rain & Angelica, Wisteria & Violet, Black Cedarwood & Juniper and White Jasmine & Mint (originally launched in 2007). Each cologne captures “the different moods of a downpour”, ranging from the aquatic to the spicy and casting the idea of urban rain in a variety of watery shades.

In this review I’ll be taking a look at two perfumes in the collection – Rain & Angelica and Black Cedarwood & Juniper. The former represents morning rain over London’s green spaces, whilst the latter is a moodier affair that captures evening rain dashing against the city’s jungle of buildings and pavements. Together they demonstrate how a single idea can be presented in a number of guises, displaying familiar aquatic notes in new and intriguing ways.

Perfume Pic of the Week No.11
Perfume Pic of the Week No.11: Etat Libre d’Orange La Cologne

Etat Libre d’Orange is easily one of my favourite perfume brands. I adore their punkish, renegade and often rude approach to perfume and unlike so many niche houses their gimmick comes with a ton of substance, meaning that the vast majority of their scents are unique and expertly crafted. Their offerings range from the fascinating yet vile Sécrétions Magnifiques to the heartbreaking beauty of The Afternoon of a Faun, and all that is in between pretty much rocks too.

With their rebellious past in mind, it is interesting to see that their upcoming launch for May 2014 ‘La Cologne‘ (or ‘Cologne‘ as it also seems to be named) is billed as “a nice scent”. Very few details about the scent are known, but one can’t help but wonder whether those punky rebels over at the Orange Free State are turning over a new leaf, one where they wish to accomodate the tastes of all perfume lovers, even those that prefer something a little bit cleaner.

The World of Cédrat Envirant
The World of Cédrat Enivrant

When I first started exploring the world of perfume I only really had time for scents that were loud, proud and downright fabulous. But now, as I get older and my approach to perfume is increasingly more seasoned, I find myself appreciating the art of subtlety and the application of a ‘dab hand’. Now that’s not to say that I no longer enjoy scents that are loud, attention-grabbing, weird and even confrontational, but it does mean that a perfume doesn’t have to possess these characteristics for me to sit up and pay attention. In short: as long as it smells good it’s on my radar!

One particular genre this shift in focus has allowed me to appreciate is cologne. When done right, colognes and citrus scents can be infinitely beautifully as well as having the added benefits of being refreshing, undemanding and thirst quenching. French perfume house Atelier Cologne is one brand that gets the idea of colognes spot on, having created the ‘Cologne Absolue’ – concentrated colognes that “celebrates the elegance of citruses” and possess the perfect trifecta of; longevity, freshness and intensity.

The latest addition to Atelier Cologne’s ‘Collection Originale’ is Cédrat Enivrant (‘Intoxicating Citrus’) – a cologne that takes inspiration from the French 75 cocktail and merges the world of perfume and mixology in a haze of mouthwatering citrus. Created by perfumer Ralf Schweiger (Frederic Malle’s Lipstick Rose and Etat Libre d’Orange’s Fils de Dieu and The Afternoon of a Faun) in a Cologne Absolue concentration of 15%, Cédrant Enivrant is described by the brand as being for lovers of “lemon and gin notes”. Count me in as one of those!

“As the sun set on the beach, they were all together again. Full of emotions, they could not stop talking. Had it really been so long? They shared many memories and another round of French 75s with laugher and tears in their eyes. No one wanted the night to end. As the sun rose, it was a sparkling moment of absolue friendship.”

M is for Mugler…

It’s been a little while since I last created an entry for my Escentual A-Z of Fragrance and it felt about the right time to further explore the alphabet of perfume with a look at an iconic perfume house. In the A-Z we’ve taken a look at esteemed perfume brands such as Amouage, Dior and Guerlain, but the one I was really looking forward to sinking my teeth into was the house of Thierry Mugler. I was so excited in fact, that I couldn’t even wait until we got to the letter ‘T’!

In my Escentual column this week the letter of the moment is ‘M’ for Mugler. I take a brief look at the history of the house and talk about the house’s five unique, high-fashion and downright weird perfumes; Angel, A*Men, Cologne, Alien and Womanity. So please hop on your Battlestar Muglactica and head over to the Escentual blog (by simply clicking the image above) to explore the world of Mugler. Don’t forget to tell me which Mugler scent floats your boat whilst you’re there!

Atelier d'Orient
The Atelier d’Orient Collection

There is a song on Jay-Z’s latest album entitled ‘Tom Ford’, and in said song Mr Z raps the line; “I don’t pop molly, I rock Tom Ford.” Well much like our good friend Jay-Z, I too am not one for recreational drug use and also have somewhat of a penchant for the offerings of American fashion designer Tom Ford – who knew we’d have so much in common?

Unfortunately that is where the common ground ends and unlike Jay-Z I do not have the adequate finances to rock any Tom Ford clothing (oh but how I wish I did), however my budget can certainly stretch to the designer’s olfactory offerings and like many others I have found there to be a number of sniff-worthy perfumes residing within the Tom Ford corner of the department store.

Mr Ford is relatively active on the olfactory front with two lines of perfume to choose from – the widely available and reasonably priced ‘Signature Collection’, which contains the likes of Black Orchid, Violet Blonde, Sahara Noir, Grey Vetiver and Noir; and the more exclusive and definitely pricier ‘Private Blends.’ Personally, I have found more love for the perfumes in the Signature Collection (much to the relief of my partner and bank balance), however the Private Blend certainly has more than its fair share of gems, which leads me nicely onto Tom Ford’s latest collection – ‘Atelier d’Orient.’

The Atelier d’Orient Collection is inspired by; “the sublime beauty, enigmatic sensuality and exquisite luxury of Asia” and each of the four fragrances within the collection are reported to contain; “ingredients that have treasured prestige in the Orient.” Speaking of the collection, Tom Ford states that each fragrance captures a distinct mood – “captivating romance, colonial elegance, luxurious exoticism and rich mysterious sensuality” – with each serving as a perfect representation of the bold Tom Ford aesthetic.

Summer Survival Scents
Conquer the Heatwave!

The heatwave is finally here and as we all enjoy (or suffer in) the heat now is a good time to pull out those fragrances that refresh, revitalise & defeat the blazing heat of the sun and stuffy, humid air. It’s a time where perfume can be your greatest weapon when attempting to conquer the unrelenting enthusiasm of the sun.

My Escentual Post last week looked at two new releases that are perfect for summer (Guerlain Nerolia Bianca and Dior Homme Cologne 2013) and it got me thinking about those fragrances that I swear by in the summer – or as i like to call them: ‘my summer survival scents’.

Some days it seems almost too hot to do anything, but these scents can be an essential part of your summer survival kit. All you need is some cooling citrus, a few fresh fancies, a couple of manly mints and a generous dose of flowers and fruit, and you’ll be all set to tackle the heatwave of 2013!

Group Shot
The Other Half of the Collection

The Postcards From My Collection Series takes you on a voyage through the big pile of clutter that is my perfume collection. The aim is to familiarise you with the fragrances that are special and/or weird enough to take pride of place on my perfume shelf. Some have great sentimental value, others simply just smell awesome and whatever the reason for their residency in my collection, rest assured that they will satiate your need for some shameless perfume porn.

In the first instalment we took a look at those fragrances, both big and small, that were most precious to me. They were a varied bunch including über expensive extraits, paris exclusives and vintage finds that take ultimate pride of place in my collection, which is really an extensive rogues gallery of perfume.

This week we are taking a trip to Planet Mugler and before we take off I have a few safety announcements to get out of the way; 1) please ensure that your hands, feet and noses remain safely in the spacecraft at all times; 2) when we have safely landed on Planet Mugler please do not remove your helmets, the smell of the planet is so strong your head will explode with in seconds without the proper protection; and 3) if you are of a sensitive disposition you will either have to disembark the spaceship immediately or grow a pair because we’re about to take off…