Brioni is a brand known for effortless Roman chic and elegant tailoring. It has a certain ease to it – you know, that simple, stylish quality that Italian men just have? That’s Brioni. The brand has has a number of fragrances over the years (all discontinued) and for 2021 they are launching a new signature fragrance: Brioni Eau de Parfum. To create this new signature, Brioni partnered with the Lalique group and worked with Robertet perfumer Michel Almairac (who has his own brand Parle Moi de Parfum), who pieced together a perfume with “few raw materials“. The result is a simple and elegant perfume that feels perfectly on brand.

I’m going to start this review by telling you that Brioni Eau de Parfum, had absolutely no right being this good. Yes, I know that’s a massive spoiler for how this review is going to go, but hey, I can’t always keep you hooked on suspense can I? So often, mainstream masculine fragrances are cheap, dull, derivative, or all of the above, which leads one to approach something like Brioni without much excitement, but let’s just say now that it is absolutely none of those things – in fact, I’d say it was luxurious, satisfying and stylish, and definitely a cut above its contemporaries.


H24 is the first masculine pillar fragrance to be launched by Hermès since Terre d’Hermès in 2006. I think we can all agree that those are some pretty big shoes to fill and I’m sure Christine Nagel, Hermès’ in-house perfumer, did not approach the task lightly – standing in the shadow of Jean-Claude Ellena’s modern classic must be somewhat daunting! But, Nagel seems unphased by such things and much like Ellena before her, she seems determined to put her own stamp on the olfactory style of Hermès. What was once cerebral, water colour and delicate, is now full-bodied (Myrrh Eglantine), whimsical (Twilly) and modern (L’Ombre des Merveilles). It’s a big shift and H24 is a great example of how Hermès as a perfume brand has changed since its perfumer evolution.

H24 is described by Hermès as the “olfactory expression of the contemporary man, in motion, agile, vibrant, and in perfect symbiosis with his environment.” Nagel has talked about how she was inspired by Hermès’ artistic director of menswear, Véronique Nichanian, and the creative overlaps in their work, especially their individual relationship with materials. H24 intends to reflect the innovation and technical expertise found within Hermès’ modern menswear collections, using classic materials, both natural and synthetic, to create a signature for the man that wears Hermès today. Terre d’Hermès is Jean-Claude Ellena’s vision of the Hermès man in 2006 and H24 is Nagel’s in 2021. As one would expect, they are two entirely different visions.

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Prologue

Le Gemme is Bulgari’s exclusive luxury collection of fragrances (after all, you’re not anyone without an exclusive collection these days) and it takes inspiration from precious gemstones. I find the idea of the collection incredibly evocative and more often than not, the fragrances have a strong link to the colours, textures and emotions associated with the stones they are inspired by. Falkar, the latest masculine in the collection (composed by legend Jacques Cavallier) is an example of this cohesion, using oud, incense and saffron to capture the dappled irridesence of the Falcon’s Eye of Brazil. For me, and the story I envisaged, Falkar was a fragrance of stark contrasts…

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I’m always crushing on something scented or other. My nose knows no limits. Candy Crush is where I showcase the beautifully scented things I’m crushing on right now so you can hopefully develop a crush too.

It’s impossible to deny the fact that Jo Malone London is a popular brand. They have seen massive growth in the last decade, with numerous stores and concessions across the country, nay, the whole world. They have a consistent, luxuriously-presented collection of products all of which seem to be selling a certain lifestyle: the Jo Malone London lifestyle. With their mix of British traditionalism and eccentricity the brand has always been incredibly creative with their olfactory output – commercial yes, but certainly creative. But one thing they’ve not cracked until this point is men. That’s right, gentleman, now is the time for you to get into Jo Malone London.

For their first ever masculine collection of fragrances, Jo Malone London has teamed up with Hunstman Saville Row, the famous London tailor established in 1849 and responsible for suiting thousands of gentleman since. The Jo Malone London Huntsman collection consists of four fragrances – four colognes from the Jo Malone London archive that have been reintroduced for me. In this capsule collection, the collaboration between British perfumery and tailor presents an olfactory wardrobe that offers citrus, oriental, gourmand and leather fragrances for day, for night, for casual and for smart. Versatility is the name of the game – let’s check them out.

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Christine Nagel has fully taken the reigns of perfumery at Hermès and she is seeing in a new dawn that is at once, respectful of the house signature that Jean-Claude Ellena spent years forging, but also entirely her own. Nagel brings a bit more body to Hermès’ once pastel and watercolored approach to perfumery, evoking luxury with more vivid colours and richer textures. She has brought a playfulness (see Twilly d’Hermès) and has even subverted the very essence of Hermès’ Hermessence collection by giving it an oriental twist – all to make her own stamp. Now it’s time for Nagel to bring us a new twist on the brand’s signature masculine: Terre d’Hermès.

Terre d’Hermès is perhaps Ellena’s most iconic creation for Hermès – it’s also a big seller and easily one of the greatest modern masculines on the market. With that in mind it’s easy to see it as hollowed ground in a way – something not to be touched and tinkered with. But touching and tinkering is what the perfume industry does best and Terre d’Hermès has been reinterpreted by Ellena on two occasions (the Parfum and Eau Très Fraîche) and now it’s Nagel’s turn with Terre d’Hermès Eau Intense Vétiver. In her version, Nagel presents a rebalanced interpretation where “the initial woody and mineral balance of Terre becomes woody and vegetal.”

 

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I’m always crushing on something scented or other. My nose knows no limits. Candy Crush is where I showcase the beautifully scented things I’m crushing on right now so you can hopefully develop a crush too.

I often feel as if I should have been born a handsome and stylish Parisian gentleman. The type of Frenchman I’d like to be is the artistic, knitwear-wearing, reflective type who absorbs culture like good wine. He loves art as much as the gym, speaks numerous languages and is an excellent cook. I’d be called Gabriel or Gaspard, or maybe Jules (can you tell I’ve not thought about this at all?) I’d actually enjoy coffee (why does it smell so good yet taste so bad?!) and I’d be really bloody cool. Oh and I’d wear GUERLAIN exclusively (Jicky I reckon) because why wouldn’t you? A boy can dream of being so chic, but sometimes a fragrance can be the closest thing one gets to making such a fantasy become a reality. Enter Le Frenchy by Guerlain.

Le Frenchy is part of Guerlain’s ‘Les Parisiens’ family – an exclusive collection of reissued masculine fragrances featuring the likes of Derby and Arsene Lupin. This one is a modern reworking of a historic lineage: Aimé Guerlain’s Verveine from 1872, which itself was reinterpreted by Jean-Paul Guerlain as ‘Eau de Verveine’ in 1983. Now we have Guerlain Perfumer Thierry Wasser’s take on ‘verveine’, cheekily entitled ‘Le Frenchy’ (The Frenchman). GUERLAIN calls it “chic and relaxed” which is so not my physical aesthetic, so perhaps Le Frenchy can help me out a bit, after I all I may not have the “bold elegance” of the fragrance, but I reckon I could pull some “natural charm” out of the bag. Let’s see…

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Can we get real for a second? Most modern mainstream masculine fragrances are pretty terrible. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Yes, of course there exceptions and some mainstream masculines are absolute masterpieces, but the truth is that most of the time, gents are simply offered more of the same. Things are always fresh and sporty, citrussy and woody. If that’s not the case then we’re talking “noir” and amber. It’s all very uninspired, very safe, and not very exciting.

“But not always” I hear you cry and you’re right. There are one or two mainstream brands out there who do actually give a hoot about what they’re making, balancing innovation with accessibility. Surprisingly, one of these brands is dunhill London, who are quietly making incredibly affable masculine fragrances that are a few steps above the hoi polloi. They’re not weird or challenging – they’re easy to get on with, made with good materials and with unique, intriguing facets. I’m a fan.

dunhill London’s latest is Century. They describe it as “a fresh new signature”, saying that it is “embracing the future” with “a new clarity”. Created by legendary perfumer Carlos Benaïm (Eau de Magnolia and Music for a While), who was also responsible for dunhill London’s remarkable ICON, Century is a transparent masculine fragrance that, like the concave, clear shapes found within its striking flacon, reflects a multi-faceted core – a heart of sandalwood. “Make your mark on the future” says dunhill London, and if they have anything to do with it, the future of mainstream masculine perfumery looks very promising.