Le Beau Mâle
Burt Reynolds on Bear Skin Rug 2013 – Very ‘Beau’ Indeed

It would be hard to argue that Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Mâle released in 1995, isn’t one of the most popular modern masculines on the market today. As far as scents go it’s a pretty hard metrosexual beast to escape and perhaps suffers from a bad case of over exposure (I love it but don’t often wear it due to it’s popularity – stupid I know), you literally cannot move for it in gay bars, straight clubs and on the streets.

Due to its success Le Mâle, with it’s barbershop accord of lavender, mint and vanilla, has seen many incarnations over the years, with many summer editions, a huge floral version (the fantastic Fleur du Mâle) and a more mature grapefruit and vetiver rich ‘Terrible’ fragrance. In continuation of the fragrance’s evolving nature 2013 sees the release of a brand new Mâle, ‘Le Beau Mâle and this particular dude is as cool as a cucumber.

Created by Francis Kurkdjian, the perfumer responsible for penning the original Le Mâle and all of it’s subsequent editions, Le Beau Mâle is simply described as “the freshness that makes men hot” (if the scent doesn’t make you hot the above ad image certainly will – my oh my) and is an ice cool rendition of the sweet fougère made popular by Le Mâle: “the sensual sailor with a soft heart.”

This time the soft heart of that handsome sailor has turned cold, nay glacial and bitter. Yes he’s a ‘beau mâle’ but his beauty lies within his sharp, angular lines that say you can look but don’t you dare think to touch…

Orange Blossom
Orange Blossoms in Watercolour via Watercolours With Life

I don’t know about you but I am most definitely suffering from the January blues. Christmas and New Year have gone meaning two things; 1) the weather is just going to get worse (boo); and 2) we all have to go back to work for the foreseeable future (double boo). It’s at times like this that one looks forward to summer, when things seem that little bit more joy-filled and fancy free.

If there’s one ingredient that speaks the words of summer it’s orange blossom. To me it is the smell of the elements of summer, It is the olfactory depiction of the air filled with life; the pollen on the breeze, the flight of the bees and insects, and the hot sticky skin of all humans and animals that live for the sun’s warmth and sustenance.

As a continuation of my ‘Guide To‘ series, and to give you all some much-needed Vitamin C, I would like to share with you my list of reference orange blossoms. These fragrances are the ones that I feel that any person exploring the note of orange blossom should pay attention to. It is by no means a conclusive list and as with the other guides in the series (see Tuberose, Lavender and Oud) it is very much a work in progress with new discoveries to be added as an when it is deemed necessary.

Candies 2012
The Candies 2012

I can’t believe it but it’s the end of 2012 already, which means that it’s time for us perfume bloggers to put together our lists of the very best and very worst perfumes of the year, honestly, where did the time go?! This year I’m affectionately entitling my awards ‘The Candies’ as a short, punchy alternative to The Candy Perfume Boy Awards. Neat huh?

Across all genres there have been many interesting, exciting and unique perfumes unleashed on to the market along with the usual amount of celebrity dreck, dud flankers and down-right-bizarre niche offerings. All-in-all it’s been a busy year with over 1,300 launches. Impressive but exhausting!

Below you will find my awards for Best Masculine, Best Feminine and Best Unisex Fragrances for both niche and mainstream houses. In addition to this I’ve also included awards for Best Flanker, Best Celebrity Fragrance and Best Ad Campaign. But we’re not just celebrating the very best of perfumery in 2012 here, no sir, we’re also highlighting the very worst with the Sour Candy Award, reserved solely for the naffest perfume of the year.

So I hope you’re wearing your very best frock (or tux for the boys, or frock if you prefer, it’s up to you really) and sipping on some fine Champagne as The Candies 2012 are underway…

The Beast Within
The Beast Within

Some perfumes come surrounded by so my hyperbole that it is impossible to approach them with an open mind. The perfume community does have a habit of hyping things up to god-like levels so that when one comes to trying something regarded as the divine ambrosia it’s almost too easy to be completely disappointed.

Still, disappointment isn’t such a bad thing, after all it allows us to reaffirm our tastes and what we do or don’t like. Anyway, sometimes it’s good to stand out from the pack, you might be miffed at the time but individuality is something to be celebrated. But there are times when a whole heap of hype can be substantiated and one fine example would be Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Absolue Pour le Soir.

“When the night takes on its own life, the tempo changes. Take a long, languorous breath. Linger till dawn. Keep your head in the stars. You’re suspended in time.”

Absolue Pour le Soir (Absolute for the Evening) is a “more concentrated and sophisticated” version of Kurkdjian’s Cologne Pour le Soir. If I had to sum it up in three words I would choose; “beautiful, filthy beast” because it is a fragrance that has the power to shock due to its strong dichotomy of ugliness and beauty.

The Magnetism of Skin
The Magnetism of Skin

When I think of Jean Paul Gaultier I think of effeminate, yet muscly sailors, cone-bras, corsets and spanking. His fashions, fragrances and even he himself embodies all that is naughty about the french. There is a reason why he has been dubbed the ‘L’Enfant Terrible’ of Parisian fashion

What I don’t imagine when I think of Jean Paul Gaultier is softness, subtlety and warmth, but that’s exactly what I find in GAULTIER². Each of JPG’s fragrances are so bold and popular that it’s a hard job to escape them out there in the real world, but not GAULTIER² – the stealth Gaultier and black sheep of the family. Classique and Le Mâle may get all the attention, but GAULTIER² is the quietly clever one, severely underrated yes, even misunderstood, but it cannot be denied that it is a stroke of genius.

“Him and Her. Her and Him. Mixing the genres is Jean Paul Gaultier’s favourite game. With GAULTIER², he breaks through traditional fragrance barriers with his unisex fragrance. A true olfactory statement.” [1]

GAULTIER² was created by Francis Kurkdjian (we’re all in agreement that the man’s a genius, right?) in 2005 and is a scent for both the boys and the girls. It is described as “the essence of two skins in love. A warm, sensual fragrance that blends the masculine and feminine in a trio of musk, amber and vanilla” [2] and is housed in a bottle of two halves, one for him and one for her, held together by a magnetic force.

I find it interesting that JPG, the king of excess, would go for three simple notes in this fragrance and I’m sure that if we were to look at the formula we would discover that there are more ingredients, but I can’t help be attracted to the idea of three aromas blended together to find the perfect equilibrium. There’s something really quite romantic about that simplicity and the harmony it brings.

APOM
APOM (A Part of Me)

As we go through life we share pieces of ourselves with those around us, building relationships and leaving impressions on those we encounter. Our smells and the fragrances we wear, just like our actions, act as time capsules that tie people’s memories to us like silver threads. It is this idea that inspired Francis Kurkdjian to create APOM Pour Femme and Pour Homme.

“APOM (A Part of Me), a bit of oneself that one leaves on others. A relationship inspired from the beauty of the Orient: movement of people, flavors, colours, and scents rediscovered from Lebanon. A combination of softness and strength.”

Both masculine and feminine APOMs centre around orange blossom, a flower that evokes sensuality and closeness, and cedar wood, a material that speaks of arid landscapes. In typical Kurkdjian style both fragrances are exceptional examples of their style and the duo itself offers a stark contrast of both softness (Femme) and strength (Homme).

Having spent a good deal of time with most of the Maison Francis Kurkdjian line I feel as if I am well-versed enough to be able to pick favourites. I think OUD, Aqua Universalis and Absolue Pour le Soir (review coming soon) are standouts, perhaps because they are so bold and unique, but it is in the subtlety of APOM Pour Femme and Pour Homme that I have found real enjoyment.

Aqua Universalis
Universal Water

Last week, after six weeks of painful but also enjoyable unemployment, I started a brand new, and very exciting job (hence the lack of posts). Now like any sane fume-nerd my initial though on gaining new employment was “what perfume am I going to wear on my first day?!” That’s right, not “will I like the job?” or even “what shall I wear”, it was, as it always is, all about the perfume.

So why not just where whatever I fancy on day one? Well the thing is, when entering a new environment it is important for one to ease people in gently, it does not pay to projectile vomit ones personality in people’s general direction. I have found that it’s always best to go for something relatively low key that is still perfume-y enough to let people know that you mean business, and what do you know a few days before my first day just the thing landed on my doorstep – Aqua Universalis by Maison Francis Kurkdjian.

If you’re not familiar with the idea behind über talented perfumer Francis Kurkdjian’s solo project then you should get to familiarising yourself pretty quick because you’re missing out. The house provides an ‘all for one’ fragrant shopping experience with fragrances for the morning and evening, and wonderful scented things for the body (leather bracelets et al) and the home (candles, incense papers, laundry detergents and scented bubbles). With his ‘Maison’ Kurkdjian is selling a completely scented lifestyle like no other.

Aqua Universalis is Kurkdjian’s take on the much maligned genre of laundry clean fragrances. Made to fulfil the average consumer’s desire to feel clean and shower fresh, a style of fragrance that very often ends up producing cocktails of vile, strong musks and calone that sends fumenerds heading for the hills. Aqua Universalis is not one of these fragrances, it is an intelligent and natural take on ‘clean’ that most importantly still smells like a perfume.