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We often talk about ‘notes’ or materials in fragrances and how they come together to create a multi-faceted composition. But these materials are incredibly nuanced themselves and each one brings not one, not two, but a multitude of different things to fragrance, meaning that there is always a lot to learn when one goes back to the source materials. I always think that the best way to understand a perfume material is to break it down into facets and that’s exactly what these olfactory deconstruction pieces are for – to dissect each material into little parts so we can really understand what makes it tick, and what makes it smell so good.

Perfume is like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Each fragrance is made up of specifically shaped pieces that lock together. Perfumers match up the pieces, locking them together facet-to-facet, tessellating each nuance to either enhance or contrast them, or in some cases, create something entirely new. The great thing is that, unlike jigsaw puzzles, where there is one way of piecing things together, perfumery is open-ended and the perfumer can tie things together in whichever way they see fit. This means that the picture at the end can be whatever they dream up. There are endless possibilities and to me, that’s pretty damn exciting.

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L'Envol de Cartier Eau de Toilette
L’Envol de Cartier Eau de Toilette

There are so many fragrance launches each year it’s difficult to write about them all. Speed Sniffs is a way to bring you to the point reviews fragrances that are quick and easy to digest. After all, sometimes all one needs is a few lines to capture the essence of a scent. Speed Sniffs are perfume reviews without all of the faff and tell you whether the subject is something you want to sniff or not. So hurry up and read, because we don’t have much time…

I reviewed L’Envol de Cartier in its original Eau de Parfum concentration last year so I am designating this Eau de Toilette as a speed sniff, mainly because the differences between the concentrations are not huge – but they are notable, which is why L’Envol Eau de Toilette is worthy of a review. The first flanker to L’Envol presents a fresher signature, taking the honey, mead and iris notes of the original and making them weightless with citrus and gaiac wood. The result is a fresh oriental that gives wings to the complex richness of the original.

Shining the Spotlight on Something Special
Shining the Spotlight on Something Special

In a break from tradition, I’m going to start this review by revealing my thoughts on the scent in question right at the very start, instead of making you wait until the end. So without further ado I must inform you that Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Homme is absolutely terrific and you need to drag your butts to the nearest department store to sniff it pronto. It is just the type of masculine fragrance the mainstream needs and with so much dreck out there, it really stands out. So yes, Gucci Guilty Absolute is superb and you owe it to yourself to give it a go.

Gucci Guilty Absolute was created by Perfumer Alberto Morillas (CK One, Mugler Cologne and the Mizensir collection ) in conjunction with Gucci’s Creative Director Alessandro Michele. It was created to have a special structure that does not change with develop and instead stays the same throughout. So is what you sniff what you get with Gucci Guilty Absolute or is it something else altogether? Whatever it is, it’s bloody fantastic and the mainstream masculine arena will have a tough job knocking this one from the top spot this year. Bring it on!

Carbon
Carbon – The Latest Luna Rossa Flanker from Prada

As far as mainstream lines go, Prada is one of the very best. Everything about the many fragrances in their collection, which stretches from the likes of Candy, Les Infusions de Prada, L’Homme Prada and La Femme Prada, and Luna Rossa, feels finely curated and created in their inimitable house-style. Where many brands would take a cynical approach to masculine perfumery, Prada seeks to incorporate quality and a distinct signature to create fragrances that stand out from the crowd, but not so much that they don’t appeal to the average consumer. The result is something like Luna Rossa, which is a minty fresh blend of lavender, musk and spices inspired by the brand’s professional sailing boat. It’s an accessible fragrance made with a high degree of excellency.

With their latest launch in the Luna Rossa franchise, Prada seem to be innovating. For Luna Rossa Carbon they are exploring the clash of natural materials and synthetics to represent the olfactory idea of carbon. They call it “a set of intriguing, engineered-contradictions” and describe it as an “iconoclastic fougère”. Well, them some pretty big words you got there, Prada – let’s hope that this fragrance lives up to the hype. What I will say, before we get to the sniff test, is that it’s always refreshing for a mainstream brand to talk about the use of synthetics so openly. In an age where ‘natural’ is valued more and more, it’s encouraging to know that the technology and innovation of the industry can be promoted in such an open manner. Anyway, let’s sniff.

The Candies 2016 - The Very Best (and Very Worst) Perfumes of the Year
The Candies 2016 – The Very Best (and Very Worst) Perfumes of the Year

Here we are then, at the very end of 2016. It feels, especially after the losses of George Michael, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, to name but a few, within the last week, a very bittersweet year. I say bittersweet because it’s not just the loss of the huge number of great talents this year, the likes of Bowie, Prince, Victoria Wood… (the list is endless), but also because the world seems to be a much harsher place than it did one year ago. Whatever your politics, I think we can all agree that 2017 is the year that we all need to work together to make our world a better place.

From a fragrant perspective, 2016 has actually been a pheomenal year. I’d be lying to you if I said that it was easy for me to pick out my very favourite scents of the year because I really did like a lot this year, and it feels like there certainly was a huge amount of good stuff, whether that be unique and interesting new things, or familiar styles that were executed very well. But you will be pleased to know that I was able to narrow down my choices and pick out the winners of The Candies 2016. I do need a stiff drink after all that work though…

If this is your first time attending The Candies, I shall explain how things work. Firstly, you may attend in your pyjamas and you do not need to worry about drinking too much and making a fool of yourself, in fact, such actions are encouraged. We have a number of awards to give out, each of which is split out by Mainstream and Niche, and then by gender. There are also awards for Best Top Down Design and even a Sour Candy Award, which names and shames the worst perfume of the year. This year we also have the addition of the Best Scented Product Award which celebrates the best smelly product for your body or home. It’s a full programme, so let’s get started!