Masculine? Feminine? Does it really matter? We're conditioned to behave in ways prescribed by our genders, but I say to heck with that. There is more than one type of man and one type of woman. Gender, like sexuality, can be fluid and a person can identify with whatever feels right to them.
Masculine? Feminine? Does it really matter?

The American state of North Carolina recently passed a disgusting bill that not only removes some of the legal protections provided for LGBT employees, but also stipulates that transgender people can only use the toilet facilities correspondent to the gender on their birth certificate. To most normal humans this seems utterly absurd. People are people, right? What harm can it cause if they want to live their life as the gender they feel they truly are? The answer is none, but this goes against the wider conditioning within society that states that men and women, and boys and girls, should behave, dress and love in particular ways. It’s that old trope that baby boys must wear blue and baby girls must wear pink and you know what? It’s bullshit.

But why are we so caught up on the idea of gender, and what makes the world so uncomfortable with people living outside the conventions of ‘male’ and ‘female’? Is it fear of the unknown? Fear of change? I’m not sure I can answer, but it’s certainly driven by both fear and a lack of knowledge, and understanding. In truth, we all know, deep down, that it doesn’t matter what gender a person is because there is beauty in what we perceive to be masculine and what we perceive to be feminine, so when these lines blur, we just see something equally as beautiful, different yes, but still wonderful.

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White Spirit

Addiction. That’s the inspiration between Juliette Has a Gun’s latest fragrance ‘White Spirit‘. The fragrance is dangerous, Romano Ricci (the man behind Juliette) says, further stating that a failure to respect the prescribed dosage may lead to the wearer never being able to do without it. That dose, by the way is “one or two drops delicately placed in the hollow of your neck”. Well, I threw caution to the wind and took five sprays to the chest on my first wearing, and I have survived to tell the tale. Although, that said, I have worn it a number of times since, so maybe I haven’t quite escaped the White Spirit’s dark passenger entirely.

What about the scent though? What’s it all about? Well,  White Spirit is a melange of flowers and in true Juliette Has a Gun style, an array of aroma chemicals. Romano Ricci describes it as “a contrast between minimalism and poison […] the virginal white flower versus the explosive woody dry accord” defining it as “an unlikely cocktail, yet resolutely addictive”. The presentation is one of the brand’s finest examples, showcasing a white capped bottle filled with a milky juice that appears as a substance to be applied with caution. As always, it’s all served with a sense of irony and tongue pressed firmly in cheek, after all, that’s the ‘Juliette’ way.

Olympēa - Paco Rabanne's new Goddess
Olympēa – Paco Rabanne’s new Goddess

Criticise Paco Rabanne all you want, but you can never say that they don’t have a knack for tapping into the zeitgeist. Their fragrance launches are a perfect example of how marketing drives the success of a modern perfume, with irresistible packaging and expensive advertising campaigns drawing the consumer in. Take 1 Million for instance – a perfectly decent woody amber fragrance that most likely wouldn’t have had the phenomenal success it has if it weren’t packaged inside a faux piece of gold bullion and marketed with a club-culture inspired ad that tapped into the image and money-obsessed nature of modern youth. They are anything, if not clever.

Their latest launch for women, ‘Olympēa‘, which arrives as the feminine counterpart to 2013’s Invictus, comes with all of the trappings of a typical Paco Rabanne launch right from the show-stopping bottle shaped like a laurel crown to the high-budget visuals, but the scent itself appears to have a bit more depth than one would usually expect. Created by perfumers Anne Flipo, Dominique Ropion and Loc Dong, Olympēa is described as the “fragrance of a modern day goddess” and a “statuesque idol of conquest and victory”. That is quite the description, I must say, and in truth, the fragrance is more intimate and cuddly than the concept would lead one to expect, but that’s not to say that Olympēa is without interest, in fact, it’s really quite intriguing.

“The fragrance of a modern day goddess, Paco Rabanne Olympea Eau de Parfum makes a statement of strength, power and seduction. Between myth and reality is where you’ll find Olympēa, a statuesque idol of conquest and victory. Her fragrance is just as commanding as she is, featuring a legend-inspiring salted vanilla accord that elevates her above the clouds.”

– Paco Rabanne

Juliette is Suited and Booted but She's Not Deadly Serious...
Juliette is Suited and Booted but She’s Not Deadly Serious…

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.

Living the Lalique Life
Living the Lalique Life

Do you ever get the impression that you’re going to love a perfume before you’ve even tried it? It’s an odd feeling. You read all of the reviews online, study the marketing bumf and ogle pictures of the bottle, whilst all the time feeding your inner perfume demon who is   quietly whispering how “they wants it, they needs it”. Only when one actually gets their hands on the precious is the demon satisfied. Lalique’s latest feminine fragrance, ‘Living Lalique‘ was one such case of demonic perfume lust. All it took was one scan of the press release and I was hooked – I knew I needed it in my life.

Living Lalique, like all-things Lalique, looks to the past for its inspirations (see the Noir Premier Collection for further evidence). The fragrance takes cues from the flight of the swallow, Lalique’s house emblem, whilst the bottle is inspired by the ‘Carnette Fleur’, a bottle designed by founder, René Lalique in 1911, not to mention the fact that the ad campaign focuses on an art deco window inspired by the brands aesthetics. It’s definitely a Lalique affair and one has to feel positive about the brand’s love and respect for their heritage.

The fragrance itself is penned by Richard Ibanez of Robertet (Andrea Maack Coal & Divine L’Inspiratrice) and is described as being a “soaring fragrance” that “follows the Lalique woman from metropolis to metropolis and from emotion to emotion”. To evoke the spirit of the Lalique lifestyle, the brand and Ibanez have chosen to focus on perfumery’s richest and most divine ingredient – orris butter (iris). The result is a sumptuous, pillowy fragrance that, through subtlety and a paired-back warmth, evokes beauty with every fibre of its orris-soaked being.

“A moment of emotion. A flight of swallows. A window opening into a world of timeless luxury. The quintessence of the Lalique lifestyle is expressed in a new perfume, Living Lalique. A bold fragrance, reflecting the urban, contemporary, active life of the Lalique woman. A dream-like fragrance, sculpted from materials as luminous as crystal. A soaring fragrance, inspired by the elegant swallow, Lalique has chosen as its emblem.”

– Lalique

Legendary Lovers
Legendary Lovers – Iconic Perfume Pairings

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner (five days away to be exact) and if you’re attached to a significant other you are likely to be thinking about what treats you may have in store for them. Now, don’t you worry, this isn’t yet another gift guide (I’ve done my anti-Valentine’s gift guide already) as they are a dime a dozen these days. No, instead I’ve decided to celebrate the day of St. Valentine by doing something a little bit different this year.

Perfume, like literature and film, is littered with many legendary lovers – iconic pairings that tell the story of true romance. These duos may have been created to market the idea of ‘his ‘n’ hers’ but they also allow a couple to share a fragrant experience by either matching, complimenting or contrasting each other. I’m all for them when done right and with a bit of flair. So, without further ado, here are my picks for perfumery’s most iconic pairings.

A Quiet Cacophony of Rose
A Quiet Cacophony of Rose

There are few brands whose launches I look forward to more than those from Maison Francis Kurkdjian.  I’ll just come out and say it – I’m a Francis Kurkdjian fanboy. If you’ve been following my Instagram over the last week, you will have seen proof of this in the form of me spending much of my time enjoying Kurkdjian’s creations for rebellious fashion designer, Jean Paul Gaultier (specifically; Le Mâle, Fragile and Fleur du Mâle). Maison Francis Kurkdjian, the perfumer’s very own brand is one of my favourites and with MFK, Kurkdjian manages to weave simplicity and complexity effortlessly together, creating approachable but high quality, and more importantly, high class perfumes.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s latest fragrance is À la Rose, and unsurprisingly, it’s all about the humble rose – 250 of them, in fact. You can never get enough rose in my opinion, and seeing as the flower can be interpreted in so many different ways, ranging from delicious rosewater treats (see Essence Nº1: Rose by Elie Saab) to heady examples of rosy exoticism (see Guerlain’s Nahéma), there’s always a surprise, or two, to be had. In short: the world of rose is never boring.

Kurkdjian already has two roses within his collection (Lumière Noire pour Femme & pour Homme  two heavy and oriental roses), so exactly what does À la Rose bring to the table that we’ve not seen from the perfumer before? Well, the focus is definitely quite different and this new rose feels very much in keeping with Kurkdjian’s penchant for clear and radiant signatures that present familiar themes in their purest form. It does exactly what one expects it to and for once, lives up to the marketing spiel, which is somewhat of a rarity in the industry today. À la Rose is described as follows:

“A la Rose is an ode to femininity, a declaration of love captured in a fragrance.  Two hundred and fifty precious roses from Grasse offer their radiance and their unmatched richness in every flacon”

– Maison Francis Kurkdjian