#GayIsOK
#GayIsOK

I have come to the realisation that I am an incredibly fortunate person. I am gay. I came out at the age of fourteen to a family that shrugged their shoulders, said “big deal” and told me that they loved me. I have always been sure of myself and my sexuality, and having accepted myself at a young age, I have been able to move forward through life with confidence and without shame. Sure, things were a little rocky at school (coming out at 14 isn’t all unicorns and rainbows, I must say) but I encountered nothing I couldn’t handle with a raised middle finger and a simple “fuck you”.

I have found love and because I live in a country with marriage equality, I have been able to make a lifelong commitment to my love and I’m honoured to be able to call him my husband. Sexual orientation is also a protected characteristic under the Equality Act (2010), which means that it would be unlawful for someone to discriminate against me, whether directly or indirectly, due to my sexuality and therefore, I cannot lose my job or be denied a service because I am gay. Most importantly, I live without fear and I live openly with freedom.

This however, is not the case for every LGBT person in the world. Whilst we have been celebrating pride over the weekend and the American Supreme Court’s decision that all states must offer marriage equality, we mustn’t forget that it is still illegal to be gay in 76 countries around the globe. I can live and love freely, but others cannot, and sometimes those that cannot risk, not only imprisonment for their love, but also death. A fact that is astonishing in this day and age. Imagine risking death to be yourself, or love who you want. It’s almost impossible to believe, isn’t it? We take our love for granted, where others have to fight for theirs, or even worse, they have to conceal it.

The Candy Perfume Boy's Hitlist - Q2 2015
The Candy Perfume Boy’s Hitlist – Q2 2015

Can you believe that we’re already heading towards the completion of quarter two of 2015? I certainly can’t! Time seems to be moving so fast and it’s staggering to think that we’re halfway through the year already – it’ll be Christmas before you know it (sorry)! As you may, or may not know, for 2015 I’ve started a new quarterly round-up of all my favourite things which I’ve entitled ‘The Candy Perfume Boy’s Hitlist’. In these posts I take a look back at the fragrances, launches, blogs, books, brands or perfumers that have been taking my fancy over the last quarter.

There are no rules. Well, there are three rules with this series; 1) the subjects must be linked to fragrance somehow (a rule that I’m allowed to bend); and 2) the hitlist is to be published towards the end of each quarter; and 3) the list must include my favourite things, as if I were a fragrant sort-of Oprah (which I like to think I am). So, now we’re heading towards the end of June (my birthday month – just throwing that out there), let’s take a gander at what’s topping my hitlist for quarter two of 2015.

Fun!
Fun!

I took a trip to Lush’s new Oxford Street store last week, and to say I was impressed would be an understatement. If you’re a Lush fan, as I am, then it’s not hard to get excited by three giant floors of Lush-based goodness, but the execution of the store is marvelous in itself, and the sprit of the brand is alive and well within each corner of the space. Particularly impressive is the Gorilla Gallery, which is a sensory feast of fragrance, music and, err, CCTV cameras, that showcases the intriguing olfactory facets, and inspirations, of many of the Gorilla fragrances.

Anyway, I could wax lyrical about the store for a long time, and will perhaps do so in a post sometime (in the meantime, I’d suggest you head over to Manface to read his take on Lush, Oxford Street), but I’m hear to talk you today about something a little different – something that is not a fragrance and is therefore, a little bit off topic for me. The subject of today’s is ‘Fun’, a scented body product by Lush, and one that I discovered during my recent trip.

“Versatile and mouldable, Fun can be soap, shampoo, bubble bath or whatever you want it to be – the only limit is your imagination”

– Lush

'Savage Beauty' - A retrospective of Alexander McQueen's Work at the V&A, London
‘Savage Beauty’ – A retrospective of Alexander McQueen’s Work at the V&A, London

“You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition”.

– Lee ‘Alexander’ McQueen ¹

Whether one is a follower of fashion or not, it cannot be denied that the work of the late, great Alexander McQueen is art. McQueen paired exceptional tailoring (forged after an apprenticeship on Saville Row) with violence, romance and often alien beauty to create pieces that shook, and more importantly, challenged the world of fashion. Whether it be his early collection, ‘Highland Rape’, which had a name as controversial as its clothing, or the 3D printed and H.R. Ginger inspired ‘Alien’ footwear from ‘Plato’s Atlantis’, McQueen demonstrated that he was a fashion renegade – always courting controversy, but never losing sight of beauty.

This weekend I visited the Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A in London. Running until 02 August 2015, the exhibit is a tremendous showcase of McQueen’s work, spanning his illustrious career from his MA Graduate Collection (‘Jack the Ripper Stalks his Victims, 1992) to his final, and incomplete collection (Autumn/Winter 2010). The whole thing is impeccably staged, with each room transformed to capturing the theme of each body of work. Perhaps the most captivating part of the exhibit is the ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ – a room that spans two storeys and is filled with a dazzling array of pieces, from accessories such as bags, shoes and head pieces (many of which are collaborations with milliner, Philip Treacy), to gowns and metal spines. There’s simply so much to look at and the whole thing serves as a true testament to the talent, nay, the genius of one of the world’s greatest fashion designers.

Leaving the exhibition I felt incredibly inspired. It was fascinating to literally walk through the evolution of McQueen’s aesthetic, encountering the divine and the macabre along the way. There will never be another talent like his and to celebrate this stunning exhibition and body of work, I thought I would pick out some of my favourite McQueen pieces from his greatest collections, and ‘scent them’ with some perfumes that embody the spirit of these remarkable pieces of fashion. Here you’ll find some deeply intriguing clothing and scents, all of which are tailored to perfection and challenge one’s perceptions. They are works of fashion and olfactory art.

The Candy Perfume Boy's Guide to Jasmine
The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Jasmine

The Candy Perfume Boy’s ‘Guide to…‘ series is a Jasmine award winning fragrant exploration of the individual notes that make up the vast and multi-dimensional spectrum that is the world of perfume. In each episode, we take a detailed look at a particular ingredient, analysing its odour profile and the ‘must sniff’ perfumes that serve as reference examples within the genre.

The many fragrant trips in the series have seen us make stops at Planet Tuberose, Chocolate World and Lavender Moon. We’ve also taken journeys to discover the notes of Oud, Orange Blossom, Violet and Lily. Oh, and we mustn’t forget Vanilla – we’ve been there too (and it was particularly delicious, I must say). All-in-all, we’ve traversed some delectably smelly places, learning more and more about the world of perfume on the way. I for one have found it to be great fun, and I hope you, dear reader, have too.

In this instalment we take a look at one of perfumery’s most important, prominent and prolific ingredients – jasmine. This stuff is a vital building block in our perfumes and iconic fragrances such as Chanel’s Nº5 (a true legend) simply would be the same without it. So, without further ado, I have put together my selection of ‘reference’ jasmine fragrances – seven of the very best, to be precise – to help you guide yourself through the must sniffs of the jasmine world. Let’s go scent-trekking.

Rubbing Noses With...
Rubbing Noses With…

“Rubbing Noses is a series, in which I, The Candy Perfume Boy, grill the most important members of the perfume industry – the perfumers. These are the brains and noses behind the perfumes we know and love, and their unrivalled insight into one of the world’s most ancient of arts is something to be treasured, enjoyed and shared.”

This episode of Rubbing Noses focuses on one half of the dynamic father and son perfume crafting team responsible for Gorilla Perfumes, the perfume arm of cosmetics company, Lush. Simon Constantine is the son of Lush’s co-founder Mark Constantine and he has quickly proved himself to be a true talent within the world of perfume. He was the genius that mixed the two B Never to be Busy to be Beautiful fragrances ‘Inhale‘ and ‘Exhale‘ to create what we now as ‘Breath of God‘ – a truly unique and beautiful fragrance that is a shining star in the Gorilla Perfume range.

In this interview, Simon (and a tiny bit of Mark) talks about the inspiration behind three of the fragrances with Gorilla Perfume’s third volume of scent, ‘Death and Decay’, as well as discussing fragrance materials, IFRA and what makes a good perfume. I think you’ll agree that Simon has a unique view on the world of perfume, one that is shown not only here, but also in his olfactory creations which are anything but dull. Anyway, that’s enough of my babbling, let’s see what the Gorilla perfumer has to say…

Kerbside Violet
Kerbside Violet

Yesterday I took a look at three of the fragrance within Gorilla Perfume’s latest collection of scent, ‘Death, Decay and Renewal’. All-in-all, I found this third volume from the renegade perfumers to be exceptionally well-crafted, thought provoking, and despite the doom and gloom in the name, surprisingly optimistic too. Death, Decay and Renewal defies expectations and instills a sense that leads one to think that, even at the worst of times, there is still beauty in the world.

One of the more unusual scents in the collection is Kerbside Violet, a fragrance that has been created to capture the idea of chance encounters in an urban setting. I’m a big fan of violet as a note, so much so in fact, that I dedicated a whole post to it in my Jasmine Award winning Guide to Violet. So to celebrate the nationwide launch of Gorilla Perfume’s Volume 3, I have a 10ml spray bottle of the intriguing Kerbside Violet to give away.