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!
John Varvatos has followed a singular approach to his perfume line. All of the fragrances are housed within a signature bottle, available in many shapes and colours, and with numerous embellishments, and every single one of his scents has been composed by perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux. This makes for a collection that feels coherent, despite visiting many olfactory styles along the way, and it proves that in perfumery, true partnership is the key to creating scented magic.
The latest launch in John Varvatos’ fragrance collection is Dark Rebel Rider, a flanker to last year’s Dark Rebel. The fragrance is billed as “provocative” and Flores-Roux even calls its Russian leather note as “ultra-sexy”, which isn’t far off in my book. Dark Rebel Rider feels like the quintessential John Varvatos fragrance because it has the attitude of a rock star, the attention to detail of a studded leather jacket and a level of cool that is as in-tune with the Varvatos fashion brand as is possible.
Usually, I can tell whether I’m going to like a fragrance or not from the first sniff. Sure, things can change with development but usually after one wear I can make a judgement as to whether a scent is for me or whether it’s perhaps best suited to someone else. Of course, when reviewing I wear something at least three times to get a good impression of the nuances, but you catch my drift. Sometimes though, a scent will perplex me and it will take me much longer to decide whether I like it or not. Cartier’s latest masculine fragrance ‘L’Envol‘ was one such scent.
I wouldn’t be dishonest if I said that I have gone back and forth on Cartier’s L’Envol whilst I’ve been testing it over the last month or so. At times, I couldn’t quite understand the positive reviews I was reading and wondered what others were seeing that I was missing. At others, I sensed a deeper sense of intricacy that elevated L’Envol above the many other masculines it shared its shelf space with. So, it would be fair to say that L’Envol is a fragrance that doesn’t reveal itself entirely upon first sniff and that it also makes one think. For that reason, I haven’t given up on it.
L’Envol, which literally translates as ‘the flight’, is inspired by aviation. Cartier’s in-house Perfumer, Mathilde Laurent, was inspired by “the mythical ambrosia of the Gods on Olympus, a mead drink believed to confer immortality”. Laurent says that she wished to create “a light fragrance” one that “conjures up a personal and spiritual journey from within”. I have great admiration for Mathilde Laurent (you can see an interview with her here) because she is able to think about perfume abstractly and cerebrally, and has taken the house of Cartier to entirely new heights. L’Envol is yet another surprise from a body of work that has proved to be entirely fascinating and forward thinking.
Now we cannot talk L’Envol without touching on the presentation. That bottle, you guys! Honestly, I thought Cartier would have a tough job one-upping the marvellous flacon for La Panthère, but somehow they’ve managed it. L’Envol, in the 100ml size, is a detachable tube housed within a glass cloche. There’s no bottom to the glass dome, which leaves the fragrance suspended gracefully in midair. The bottle was designed to ensure that the fragrance never touched the ground, hinting at the fragrance’s aviation-based inspirations. It is nothing short of a work of art, but does the fragrance itself live up to the beauty of the bottle? Let’s find out!
I do like a bit of Prada, it’s true. Their fragrances are so in synch with their brand, offering modern luxury, innovation and often a splash of humour, right from the elegant Infusions all the way to the mischievous Candy. In fact, one of my current summer obsessions has been their Infusion de Cedre, which is that rare thing: an aldehydic floral for men. Anyway, I digress. Prada have just launched two new pillar fragrances: La Femme Prada and L’Homme. The Femme is a wonderfully voluptuous white floral in a golden sheen, whilst the masculine is much softer, warmer and greyer. Click here to head on over to Escentual to read my full review.
For my column this week, Escentual asked me to delve into the world of Montblanc Legend, a fragrance created to capture the illustrious spirit of the Montblanc brand. I was also tasked with sniffing the two flankers in the series; Legend Intense and Legend Spirit. All three are well-composed masculines that throw in a few intriguing twists, especially Spirit which has a wonderful fresh banana note! Click here to head on over to Escentual to read my full review.
‘Uomo’ is easily becoming the new ‘Homme’ with each Italian designer brand rocking their own version. So far Valentino has one, Roberto Cavalli has one and now, Salvatore Ferragamo has their very own Uomo too. Ferragamo’s Uomo is a wonderfully versatile masculine that is soft & creamy enough to rock with jersey athleisurewear and suave & deep enough to pair with a black bow tie. In essence, it’s a scent for any man, any time and any place. Click here to head on over to Escentual to read my full review of Salvatore Ferragamo’s Uomo.
I have no chest hair. I’ll just let you digest that fact or a second. Nope, none, nada, zilch. Not a speck. I know, Dear Reader, that this will be of tremendous interest to you, and I’m sure you now have a wonderful image in your mind of my pale, hairless chest (oh yes, I’m pasty too) so, once again, I shall allow you a brief moment to enjoy this thought. Done? OK, we’ll move on. Now, I share this fascinating tidbit with you because I often look to perfume (where else?) to give me what I lack and luckily for me, perfume answers with some impressively hairy-chested fragrances to provide me with what I so desperately lust for: spray-on chest hair.
This post celebrates six scents that could put hairs on your chest. They range from the machismo-classics of the 1980s – you know the ones where you can literally smell the testosterone emanating from their sprayers – all the way up to the more modern scents that just so happen to be so badass that they can’t keep their chest rugs tamed. So prepare yourself to spritz some scent and sprout some chest hair as we traverse the world of butch masculines – fragrances for men that could put hairs on the chest of the smoothest of guys. Put your trimmers aside and get set, folks, because things are set to get a bit hairy up in here.
MUGLER may only have one masculine fragrance on the market, the astronomically excessive A*Men (or Angel Men as it’s also known), but they’ve certainly made up for a lack of diversity in their male lineup with a prolific number of flankers. Since its launch in 1996, A*Men has been boozed up, sexed up and made to sit down with a hot cup of coffee to recover. It’s a fragrance that lends itself very well to enhancements and MUGLER have been incredibly savvy with their many interpretations of the scent’s chocolate cacophony, always taking its signature and teasing out an entirely new and exciting facet in the way that a good flanker should.
20 years on and the latest olfactory twist in the A*Men lineup is Pure Tonka an “exhilarating fragrance for a man no one can resist” that sees a “searing fusion between the sensuality of tonka beans and the purity of lavender”. The tonka bean is a staple of masculine perfumery due to its high content of coumarin, which is a key part of the fougére accord. It has a vast and complex odour profile that ranges from hay, vanilla and marzipan to sour cherry, liquorice and clove. In the original A*Men, the tonka bean was merely a small cog within a much larger wheel, which also consisted of other moving parts such as; lavender, mint, coffee, patchouli, tar, vanilla and caramel. In A*Men Pure Tonka, the tonka bean is pulled right into the forefront and centre, and the volume is dialled way up to extreme levels to create a MUGLER fragrance that is really quite something to behold, even by their standards.
Ooh I do love a good wedding. There’s something wonderful about all that pomp and circumstance; the dresses, the hats, THE CAKE, not to mention the flowers, the emotion and the love! Every wedding is a special day, one that is organised with every minute detail considered. One detail that can’t be forgotten is the wedding scent and this is just as important for the groom and his party as it is the bride and hers. Luckily, for Escentual’s #ScentToBe Wedding Week, I’ve put together a handy guide of masculine fragrances that are perfect for the groom, best man and father of the groom. Click here to give it a read!
I wasn’t prepared to like Armani’s new Profumo version of their flagship masculine, ‘Code’, but perfume often has a way of surprising noses that are stuck in their ways. Profumo won’t set the world on fire for originality but I admire how it presents a smart take on the oriental genre, fusing fougère notes of lavender and star anise with the warmth of vanilla and leather. It’s Code gone ‘full tuxedo’ and the modern men of today could do a lot worse with their fragrance choice! Check out my full review for Escentual by clicking here.