IMG_1850

The great thing about luxury brands such as BVLGARI is that, regardless of what they make, whether it be clothing, leather goods, jewellery or fragrance, they truly care about the end product. They want to create a luxury item – a thing of beauty that demonstrates the quality of materials and craftsmanship that makes these brands so luxurious. It’s brands like these that make truly beautiful, accessible fragrances, because they care enough to get it right. They mark art with everything else they do, so their thinking is why not apply that to fragrance as well? BVLGARI is perhaps one of the best examples of this and they dedicate time, care, attention, quality and artistry to all of their fragrances, making for some absolutely beautiful perfumes.

In the Splendida collection, BVLGARI celebrates “the most iconic flowers in the history of perfumery”, namely the iris, the rose and the jasmine. For 2018, BVLGARI is adding to the collection and this time it is the magnolia that gets to take centre stage in the guise of Magnolia Sensuel. Created by perfumer Jacques Cavallier (who has made too many good perfumes to list) who calls the magnolia “an unforgettable note”, Magnolia Sensuel aims to showcase the “supreme beauty” of the flower and by extension, the BVLGARI woman who wears it. Having been a big fan of the Splendida collection (Iris d’Or is heaven, y’all) and a life-time addict of white florals, Magnolia Sensuel definitely caught my attention. But does it live up to my high, BVLGARI-loving expectations? Well, read on and you shall find out!

2017-11-23 00.51.50

Please indulge me whilst I tell you a little tale that informs you all you need to know about Baccarat Rouge 540 by Maison Francis Kurkdjian. I was sit in the lobby of the Soho Hotel the other day, having just attended an evening with Perfumer Christine Nagel hosted by the Fragrance Foundation. It had been a long day and I desperately needed to charge my phone (for instagram purpose, obviously). As I sat there, minding by own little fragrant business, I watched industry bods trickle past me on their way out. After about ten minutes, two journalists walked past and their conversation went something along the lines of:

“You’re wearing Baccarat Rouge by Kurkdjian, aren’t you?”
“No I’m not.”
“Yes, you are. I can smell it.”
“I’m not. I think I’d know.”
“I can smell it!”

Guess who was rocking the Baccarat Rouge? Oh yeah, that’s right, this bad candy boy right here, that’s who! I fessed up, don’t you worry. But this little tale just goes to show how distinct and unique a signature the fragrance has. In fact, I don’t think I said this when I reviewed Baccarat Rouge 540 last year, but I think it is easily the cleverest perfume composition of the last five years. For a short formula it does a lot, evoking white and red hot crystal with novel accords that feel entirely new. It’s a technical marvel but it’s also a rather unrestrained essay in excess, from a perfumer who usually brings us spacious, chic beauty with a steady hand. I’ll stop beating around the bush and just come out and say that Baccarat Rouge 540 is a god damn masterpiece, and now it comes in an even more lush and luxurious Extrait de Parfum. Colour me excited!

Galop d'Hermès - Christine Nagel's First Fragrance for Hermès since Becoming In-House Perfumer
Horsing Around with Galop d’Hermès

The brand new fragrance from Hermès, ‘Galop d’Hermès’,  is an interesting one on a number of levels. Firstly, and most importantly, it is the first fragrance for the brand by Christine Nagel since she became in-house perfumer (she previously created their Eau de Rhubarbe Ecarlate whilst Jean-Claude Ellena was still the nose-in-residence), but it also shows the house of Hermès firmly looking back towards their equestrian roots. Galop d’Hermès is a fragrance that many will look at to ascertain whether this new collaboration with Nagel will see their distinct house style put to bed in favour of a new one, or whether it will be maintained as part of the Hermès heritage. Galop d’Hermès is the first indicator of what is to come in the future and therefore, a very important fragrance.

Galop d’Hermès is an essay in two ingredients: leather and rose. Housed within a stirrup-shaped bottle, which is adorned with a smart leather tie, in vivid Hermès orange no less, the fragrance, presents itself as a scent that captures the very essence of the house, right from the overarching concept to the individual notes of the perfume. Leather is an integral element within the Hermès DNA, finding its way into many of their luxurious accessories, whereas rose has been a key ingredient in many of the brand’s illustrious fragrances over the years. Together these two notes are presented in a pure parfum that is undeniably Hermès but also entirely exciting and new.

“At Hermès, I discovered all the femininity of leather. I composed Galop d’Hermès like a painting with two main colours…two raw materials that are emblematic to Hermès and to perfumery: leather and rose.”

– Christine Nagel

Stocking Stuffers to Wallet Wreckers
Stocking Stuffers to Wallet Wreckers

Gift guide, gift guide, we all love a gift guide! Dear readers, I’m definitely working my way into this Christmas spirit quite heavily this year and I have been scouring the wondrous expanse that is the world wide web to identify some delightfully scented gifts that can; a) make excellent presents for your loved ones; or b) sit quite happily on your Christmas lists for aforementioned love ones to review, and hopefully take note. So far, we’ve had a look at some pretty awesome scented candles but we haven’t finished traversing the world of perfume gifts just yet, and we have more gift guides to go.

In this instalment I’m taking a look at some brilliant perfume gifts ranging from the cheerily affordable to the distinctly expensive, or as I like to call them the ‘Stocking Stuffers’ and the ‘Wallet Wreckers’. Hopefully there is something for every person and every budget here, whether you be tempted by an inexpensive novelty, a mid-range marvel or even if you intend to blow your budget completely to treat that special loved one to something out of this world. Failing all of that, you may just want to treat yourself. Why not, eh?

[Oh and P.S., do swing by for another gift guide in this week’s Escentual column in a few days time and again next week for our final guide, which will be focusing on quirky perfume gifts…]

Last Minute Gift Guide
Last Minute Gift Guide

In life, I take a ‘leave it all to the last minute and hope for the best’ approach. Organisation is not my strong suit, and it is most definitely true that I work best under pressure. It will serve as no surprise then, that I haven’t quite completed my Christmas shopping yet, and yes, I’m well aware that it is exactly one week until Santa pays his annual visit. What can I say? I’ve just been busy with other things.

To help myself, and those around me who are also last-minute sort-of-folk, I’ve prepped a ‘Last Minute Gift Guide’ for my Escentual column this week. In this guide you will find; handy stocking stuffers for him and her, mid-range marvels and even big ticket splurges that will wow your recipient, even if they do depress your bank balance slightly. So, if you’re still looking for that one last gift, or just fancy a treat for yourself after being so wonderfully generous to everyone else, click here to check out my last-minute Christmas gift guide.

Last week’s Saturday Poll asked you about your birthday perfume traditions, and specifically whether you asked for, and received perfume for your birthday or whether you liked to treat yourself. It seems that the majority of you (59%) take the matter into your own hands and treat yourselves to a lovely perfumed-gift on your birthday. Very sensible if you ask me!

I was lucky enough to receive a bottle of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Al Oudh from Nigel this year, who obviously was feeling the perfume love. I also treated myself to bottles of Amouage’s Honour Woman (a major lemming of mine for a whole year) and Guerlain’s Pamplelune. So yes, I was well and truly spoiled.

On to this week’s poll…

Granny and the Grandkids
From L to R – My older brother, sister, grandma and I at the Safari Park in 1991 – each of my siblings and I sporting the same DREADFUL haircut…

10 days ago I put out a call for help to aid me in choosing a suitable gift for my grandma for her 80th birthday. It’s safe to say that I was completely blown away by the many wonderful and thoughtful responses that the post received, it was great to see the plethora of well wishes for Big G (which I passed on to her and she was very touched) as well as the number of interesting and befitting suggestions for her birthday perfume.

The suggestions ranged across all genres and included perfumes from Mona di Orio, Frederic Malle, Guerlain, Amouage, Puredistance, Chanel, Dior and Ormonde Jayne, and that’s just to name a few. Classy names for a classy broad!

I do have to say a massive thank you for all of the suggestions that you all so kindly put forward, we may not have picked a perfume that was put forward in the post BUT we did consider all of the suggestions very carefully and we definitely have a wealth of choice for future perfume presents for grandma in the future!

So which perfume did we get?

Extrait de Parfum

“Perfume, like fashion, is about attitude, seasons, colour, mood and context. There is a time and place for everything.”

My experience of the Heeley line (brainchild of designer James Heeley) has been generally positive, and my impression so far is that it is a line full of interesting, innovative creations which simply must be tried. What I really like about Heeley Parfums though, is that they present themselves with no pretence, no gimmicks, they just say “here we are, come smells us, don’t we smell good?”. But don’t be fooled by this simple approach, the Heeley line actually consists of a range of unique and complex perfumes with highlights such as the beautiful iris ‘Iris de Nuit’, ode to the sea ‘Sel Marin’ and almost comic ‘Esprit du Tigre’.

Late last year James Heeley decided to expand the line with a trio of Extrait de Parfums that take the Heeley aesthetic to a new level of luxury without compromising the overall ethos of unique creations presented in a simple and clear manner. Each Extrait, like the entire Heeley line come to think of it, doesn’t feel the need to shout its message, instead it confidently speaks in a ‘take me or leave me’ manner.

The Heeley Extrait de Parfums are a “collection of quite different scents made from exceptional ingredients, each with an intensity and depth that create a luxurious, ‘haute couture’ feel” and were created because James Heeley wanted to work with his favourite materials in higher concentrations. Heeley succeeds in creating a collection of three perfumes – Agarwoud, Bubblegum Chic & L’Amandière – that are not only high quality but are also high-concept interesting interpretations of familiar themes.

McQueen

“Puredistance M is a masculine that straddles the gender line”

After trying and loving the ethereal Puredistance I and the warm-bosomed Antonia, I thought that the dreaded rule of three’s (as in that a collection of three perfume’s cannot contain three good fragrances) would kick in and I would end up hating Puredistance M, but as usual when it comes to drawing quick conclusions, I was wrong.

I was wrong because Puredistance M is a pretty damn good fragrance and whilst it may not be in the style of perfumes that I would wear, I cannot deny that it is impeccably well made and puts the majority of masculine fragrances on the market to shame. In terms of quality, artistry and just how damn good it smells, Puredistance M is in a class of its own. Oh, and it’s an Extrait too, with a rather decent 25% concentration, which is somewhat of a rarity within the masculine genre.

Puredistance M is currently the only masculine in the line and it takes its inspiration from the classiest and most debonaire of motor vehicles – the Aston Martin, namely the Aston Martin that belongs to a certain James Bond. M was created by Professor of Perfume Roja Dove and is described as “a leather chypre of classic proportions…with an unexpected oriental twist. Sumptuous and complex, noble and sophisticated” [1] Puredistance M is a fragrance that is neither shaken, nor stirred, and just like 007 it is as smooth as can be.

Savage Beauty

To put it simply; Antonia is liquid emotion.

Have you ever known that you would love a fragrance before you even tried it? I have on quite a few occasions, the most recent of which was with the second feminine fragrance from ultra-luxe niche line Puredistance. A perfume wonderfully named ‘Antonia’. I had already fallen head-over-heels for the beautifully arresting Puredistance I, and everything about Antonia; the reviews, the description and the very brief sniff I’d had in Harrods, led me to believe that Antonia was a perfume that I would love.

I’ve also been really impressed with the Puredistance line and their ethos. I find it refreshing that they seem to focus all of their attention on the perfumes, there are no gimmicks and they manage to offer exclusivity without snobbery. It’s also very clear that they have a passion for quality, which really translates into their three offerings, all of which are incredibly different, but share an impeccable attention to detail and fit together like three contrasting compositions.

Antonia, or ‘La Dame Verte’ as I call her, is the second feminine in the line and is a Parfum Extrait with a not-to-be-scoffed-at 25% concentration. Antonia is described by Puredistance as “a green floral with a great lushness and warmth of heart, but at the same time pillowy and as gentle as can be” [1]. Like the first feminine in the line ‘Puredistance I’, Antonia was created by Annie Buzantian in New York and shares her name with the mother of Puredistance founder Jan Ewoud Vos.