The simple elegance of a decent eau de cologne is one of the greatest things in the whole of perfumery. That tension between citrus, flowers and herbs (and now in modern times, musks) is a sparkling tonic when the mercury rises. In fact, the purity of a good eau de cologne transcends seasons and can be the perfect thing to wear at any time and on any occasion. To put it simply, when eau de colognes are good, they’re very good, and even when they’re bad they’re still pretty good!
One cologne that really struck a chord with me recently was the latest launch from Givenchy: ‘Eau de Givenchy’. Inspired by Hubert de Givenchy’s gardens in the South of France, Eau de Givenchy is a modern reinterpretation of a Givenchy fragrance of the same name that launched in 1980. François Demachy is the man behind this new scent and he has penned a contemporary eau de cologne that presents, as Givenchy puts it, “a moment of freshness suspended in time that feels like it could last forever.” Well, that’s quite the promise – let’s see if Eau de Givenchy delivers…
Pack your bags because CHANEL is taking us on holiday. They’ve booked the most luxurious mode of transport – no, not the Orient Express or Emirates First Class, it’s something much more special than that for this is an olfactory odyssey that takes one on a historical trek though the life and times of their inimitable founder: Mademoiselle Coco Chanel. There are three stops on the journey, so prepare to explore the green countryside of Normandy, dip your toes into the Atlantic coastline, and take long, endless strolls through a Mediterranean city. Don’t worry about packing any perfumes because CHANEL have got you covered with their latest collection: LES EAUX DE CHANEL.
With LES EAUX DE CHANEL, CHANEL say that it is not the destination that matters, but the journey. It is the idea of escaping – of exploring, losing oneself and finding oneself. It’s about traversing unchartered territory and experiencing new things. For the collection, CHANEL has called upon their in-house perfumer to create three contemporary eau de cologne-style fragrances (which are actually Eau de Toilette concentration) inspired by locations of historical significance to the brand. Housed within a new, travel-flask inspired bottle (which takes inspiration from vintage alcohol canisters carried in one’s waistcoat), these three ‘eaus’ mark a new chapter in the olfactory story of CHANEL. So let’s embark on an exciting journey and explore LES EAUX DE CHANEL.
I have a weird little rule when it comes to reviewing fragrances: I don’t wear a fragrance until I’ve photographed it, after which I can spray on as much as I like in anticipation of the written part of my review. I’m not saying I don’t have a cheeky little spray before the shots are taken, but I definitely make sure that the bottle remains mostly full. Why is this, you may be wondering? Well, it simply looks better when the bottle is full, so it’s purely for aesthetic reasons. Anything for the perfect shot, right?
Well, in the case of Eau de Citron Noir, the latest addition to Hermès’ Cologne Collection, I broke my own rule. This happened casually and regularly and I found myself not only sneaking a spritz here and there, but also giving the scent numerous full wearings. Perhaps it’s just the good weather we’ve been having, or maybe there is something irresistible about it. Whatever the reason, you may notice in the photos that the bottle is not 100% full. I’m sure you’ll find it in your hearts to forgive me.
Eau de Citron Noir is Perfumer Christine Nagel’s second cologne for Hermès (the first being 2016’s Eau de Rhubarbe Écarlate). They describe it as showcasing “The striking and explosive vitality of citrus fruits combined with the depth of subtle smoky and woody notes of black lime.” That all sounds rather tempting, doesn’t it? Not to mention the fact that that deep blue bottle is heave on Earth…
The best brands are those that disrupt the industry in some way, big or small. These brands bring a new perspective to a world that, at times, relies on the same formulaic methods of making and marketing scent. Unique voices are always welcome, especially when their olfactory exploits are in tune with the distinctiveness of their vision. Atelier Cologne is one such brand and they’ve always done things a little bit differently – most notably building their vision around an entirely new olfactive style: the Cologne Absolue.
Atelier Cologne was started by Sylvie Ganter & Christophe Cervasel. After meeting in 2006 and falling in love, Ganter and Cervasel realised that they shared a love for the classic Eau de Cologne and set out to create a line of fragrances that boasted the character of this style but with the longevity it often lacked. The result is the Cologne Absolue – Eau de Colognes that wear like Pure Parfums. Atelier Cologne was birthed from this idea and now the brand, which recently sold to L’Oreal, has points of sale all across the world. It’s a modern day success story – one that is a testament to the quality and artistry of the brand’s unique style.
Recently I was invited to experience Atelier Cologne’s new boutique in Covent Garden, London. Having only ever tried a handful of scents from the collection (all of which I had enjoyed) I jumped at the chance to get to know Atelier Cologne a little bit better. What I discovered was a finely curated collection of scents all with an inimitable personality that captures the essence of worldly voyages and timeless romances, all with a free-spirited and care-free disposition. The Covent Garden boutique is a little treasure trove of loveliness and as you will learn through this post, it provides quite the unique perfume shopping experience.
Here we are! The first review of 2017! I’ve spent a lot of time trying to work out what to write for my first post of the year (hence why I’ve been on an extended hiatus – lucky me) and I must admit that I was reluctant to start with a review simply because I wanted to kick off with something a little bit different . That said, a review feels like a good place to kick off the year because it’s a good opportunity to see where we will go scent-wise, so that’s exactly what I’m doing. Luckily for me 2017 has already seen a number of launches so I wasn’t short of something to pick for review number one. Even luckier was the fact that the latest launch from my favourite brand appeared on my doorstep just a few days ago!
My love of all things MUGLER has been documented many times. So many times, in fact, that I’ve probably bored you all to tears by banging on about my adoration for Angel et al. So I will spare you the hyperbole this time and instead will say that I very much appreciated the brand’s launch of their exclusive line Les Exceptions last year. With Les Exceptions, MUGLER took on the classics, creating fragrances based on the major olfactory families, serving each with a MUGLER twist. Every one of the Les Exceptions scents felt decidedly un-MUGLER, in the sense that they weren’t overtly daring or challenging, yet at the same time they really did add something innovative to classic French perfumery. In short, Les Exceptions is a phenomenally good collection and one that MUGLER seem to want to explore further.
The latest scent to launch within Les Exceptions is Hot Cologne which, if you haven’t guessed by the name, plays with the themes found within the classic Eau de Cologne. Now, this is MUGLER we’re talking about here so to expect a typical cologne is to underestimate the nature of the brand. MUGLER already have Cologne (launched in 2001), which is highly odd with its notes of steam and ‘S’ (rumoured to be a sperm accord), so Hot Cologne, the eight instalment in the collection, was never going to be a simple cologne in the manner of say 4711 and instead, this cologne, says MUGLER, “breathes fire and ice…and eau de cologne turns torrid”. Intriguing!
TOM FORD’s Neroli Portofino is pretty much legend at this point. Arriving as part of the initial crop of Private Blends in 2007, it has since been repackaged (in a glorious azure blue bottle, I must add) and has spawned its very own line of body products and flankers, scents such as; Costa Azzura, Mandarino di Amalfi and Fleur de Portofino. Neroli Portofino’s success is easy to understand – it is one of the best, if not the best neroli cologne on the market and it does what many fragrances of this ilk fail to do: it presents luxurious, globetrotting cologne nuances in a highly present and long lasting format, all with TOM FORD’s inimitable signature. What’s not to love?
This summer, MR FORD is expanding the Neroli Portofino lineup to include two additional fragrances. The first is Neroli Portofino Acqua, a lighter, more affordable and more widely distributed the fragrance that could be considered as the ‘Eau de Toilette’ version of the scent that we shall be putting to the test today. The second is Neroli Portofino Forte, which is the inverse of Acqua, serving as a more intense, exclusive and expensive take on TOM FORD’s standard bearer cologne, but we’ll get to that later in the week. The brand describes Neroli Portofino Acqua as follows:
“Vibrant. Sparkling. Transportive. Neroli Portofino Acqua is an invitation into the seductive atmosphere of the Italian Riviera from a new perspective afloat in the coastline’s idyllic azure waters, with endless skies overhead and steep, verdant hillsides just within view. A fresher expression of Neroli Portofino’s clear and sparkling facets, it is an irresistibly light way to wear the fragrance’s citrus-and-amber signature.”
In the UK we’re all walking around in a daze. The sun is out, it’s warm and there hasn’t been any rain in at least 48 hours. People are whispering to each other; “could it be?”, they ask; “I’m not sure”, they say. The ‘s’ word is on everybody’s lips but no-one dare say it. Could it really be summer? Maybe. The sun is out and the temperature is rising, but we did have rain, snow and hail last week, so perhaps we should wait before cracking out the shorts and sunscreen. I’m not ready to call it quite yet, folks, but I have an inkling that ‘s’ may be on its way…
For me, the summer season mean one thing: cologne. There is nothing better on a hot day than a generous spritz of a refreshing eau de cologne, except a water fight perhaps, but those are harder to come by in one’s old age. As far as colognes go, there is no beating Cologne Indélébile, the everlasting cyber-cologne created by perfumer Dominique Ropion for Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle. Cologne Indélébile squeezes lemons the size of the sun into its bottle, boasting metallic freshness, hay-like neroli and a whirlwind of technical musks to keep it going up & up, and on & on. It’s a marvel of perfumery and now there’s a new way to make it last even longer.
This summer Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle are launching an accompanying Body Wash and Body Milk to the Cologne Indélébile, promoting the idea that to make your cologne truly everlasting, it’s best to layer up! So before spritzing on twenty sprays of Cologne Indélébile (something I am often guilty of), one can lather up in a deluge of delicately soft bubbles scented with Malle’s neo-cologne, before then smoothing on a moisturising layer of the Body Milk and then finally, spraying on the fragrance to finish. By building layers of the scent on the skin, one can dial back on the sprayer a bit so that Cologne Indélébile really can last longer than the average British summer.
I’m starting to really get into Acqua di Parma as a fragrance brand. Their classic Colonia is an iconic eau de cologne that’s difficult not to love and last year’s Rosa Nobile has quickly made its way into my regular rotation. There’s an effortless simplicity to all things Acqua di Parma that appeals to my calmer and more refined sides. Of course, they may be a paired-back brand, but that doesn’t mean that Acqua di Parma is exempt from releasing lots of flankers, and their famous Colonia is available in a number of interpretations, ranging from intense versions to oud and leather fusions.
This summer, Acqua di Parma are extending their fragrant wardrobe by launching Colonia Club, a new twist on Colonia that is inspired by the idea of an private members sports club. The result is a surprisingly complex eau de cologne that is somewhere between a salty marine scent and a minty fougére. I think its great and it also proves that sporty fragrances don’t have to smell like sweaty Lynx-soaked boys (or Axe-soaked for my American buddies). Click here to head over to Escentual to check out my full review.
Niche brand Juliette Has a Gun seems to be spoiling us with a bevy of launches this summer. We get not one, but two pillar fragrances from the house and style-wise these launches play to two completely different styles, with both opting to defy conventions in different ways. That said, they both sit comfortably into Juliette’s ever-growing oeuvre, which is a distinct mix of the oriental and strong, and the musky with intent. They make for an interesting mix, that’s for sure.
First up we have Gentlewoman, a fragrance inspired by a traditional eau de cologne but given a feminine twist. Of Gentlewoman, brand creator Romano Ricci said he wanted to “give women a dash of dandy”, creating a ‘gentlewoman’s code’ outlining a “citrus woody musky” fragrance that according to the brand, possesses, amongst other things, dandyism, impertinence, audacity, look and freedom. The result is a modern eau de cologne that strips away the gender barriers, favouring androgyny over tired notions of what is appropriate for men, women and anyone that identifies as in-between.
We also have Another Oud. That’s to say that the name of the fragrance is in fact, ‘Another Oud’, not that the launch is another oud fragrance, which it is, actually – an oud, that is. To clarify, this is another oud fragrance cheekily entitled ‘Another Oud’, which is all a bit of a riot if you ask me. Juliette Has a Gun say that this is actually “just the opposite” of a traditional oud fragrance and is, “Version 2.0.” as they quite nifty describe it. You’ve got to give credit to a house that says what we’re all thinking and does so deliberately in order to inspire curiosity. What’s more, this particular oud is actually rather sniff-worthy, and not just because of the name.
They say that, when it comes to perfume, all that matters is the juice. Well, I disagree. Or should I say that I agree to an extent. The scent is, first and foremost, the most important part, after all, marvelous packaging cannot save a disastrous fragrance from smelling awful now, can it? But when a bottle and fragrance are both masterful one can really enhance the other to create a truly luxurious object.
One such object is the brand new travel spray for Acqua di Parma’s iconic Colonia. Now, Colonia is already a bloody lovely scent, but when housed within the tan leather of the travel spray well, it is really quite something to behold. For my Escentual column this week, I’ve taken a good old look at this wonderful new object and have also rambled on about, amongst many other things; myself, Vivienne Westwood bags and Ferraris. If that piques your interest, click here to give it a read.