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The purpose of these olfactory deconstructions (see Iris and Vetiver) is to understand a raw material used in perfumery by dissecting it into its many facets. By experiencing the many nuances, one starts to gain an appreciation for how it is used within a wider composition and how it can be utilised to create interesting and novel effects. Such is the magic of perfumery – where one distinct material can bring so much more to a fragrance than its odour profile, shifting and changing as it tessellates with other notes to create things that are more than the sum of their parts.

Today’s deconstruction is a widely used material: patchouli. I chose patchouli because it’s a material found in so many fragrances, many of which utilise it as a supporting act as opposed to the star that takes top billing. I also picked it because it’s a tricky note to love, due largely to its associations with head shops and hippies, not to mention how abrasive it can be as a smell. But patchouli is so much more than a new age oil, it’s actually a fascinating and multifaceted material that deserves a lot of attention – and today we are going to give it that attention!

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!

Spray-On Chest Hair
Spray-On Chest Hair

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.

Retro Machismo - Monsieur by Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle
Retro Machismo – Monsieur. by Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle

“Monsieur., your chest rug is peeking through your shirt.”

“Monsieur., would you like the bear skin rug dry cleaned before you lie seductively upon it?”

“Monsieur., the 1970s called and they would like their headshop back.”

“Monsieur., is that an afro comb in the pocket of your flares or are you just pleased to see me?”

These were my initial thoughts when smelling ‘Monsieur.‘ the latest release from Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle. As you may be able to tell, it’s somewhat of a retro macho bomb and style wise, it certainly comes across as somewhat of a departure from Malle’s ultra-modern aesthetic. That said, I find it to be fabulously retro, which is to say that it celebrates a moment in time and a certain type of machismo that is utterly classic: that of the hairy chested, suave yet roguish animal of a man, or in this case a slightly older man. Wait, is Monsieur. a DILF?!

Monsieur is the second outing at Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle for perfumer Bruno Jovanovic, the man behind the delightfully subversive Dries Van Noten par Frederic Malle and designer scents such as Calvin Klein Reveal. With Monsieur., Jovanovic tackles patchouli, a staple ingredient within the world of perfumery that has made many a fragrance a classic. The thing with patchouli though, is the fact that it feels a bit old fashioned. It’s still used in perfumery today, of course, but most examples of the note today show it as sanitised to nothing but a dark fuzz that adds texture to the composition. Gone is that dirty, earthy and oily melange that we knew as patchouli in the 1970s and 1980s. Monsieur. however, aims to pay homage to the multi-faceted and complex nature of this ingredient and the perfumes of yesteryear, with over 50% of its composition comprising of patchouli sourced through molecular distillation. As the brand puts it; “Monsieur. is to patchouli what Carnal Flower is to tuberose”.

So Monsieur. is a patchouli weapon – a tool for seduction for the man suave enough to wield its powers responsibly. As Persolaise noted in his review, it’s also a fragrance that looks backwards rather than forwards, making it an interesting step in the Editions de Parfums oeuvre. Although evocative, I’m sure my description of Monsieur. as a somewhat-attractive paternal figure may not be what the brand intended, I shall therefore, refer you to the official description as per Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle:

“Although seemingly simple, this formula evokes for Frédéric Malle, since its genesis, remorseless seducers such as Alfonso de Portago, Mark Birley, Jose-Luis de Villalonga or Gianni Agnelli. Their manly and timeless elegance has relentlessly guided the development of this empowering perfume. Monsieur., a neo-classical perfume, manly and utterly elegant. Monsieur.”

The Candies 2013: The Very Best and the Very Worst Perfumes of the Year
The Candies 2013: The Very Best and the Very Worst Perfumes of the Year

Can you believe that 2013 is coming to a close already? I certainly can’t! It only feels like yesterday that I was sat at my laptop, tapping away at the first reviews of the year and looking forward to the exciting new smells that next 365 days would bring. It has, all-in-all, been a very good year, with lots of interesting new perfumes launched, and on a more personal note too, as this year I took on the exciting role of Fragrance Expert for Escentual.com.

The perfumes have come thick and fast over the year, and once again the industry has seen an increase in the overall number of perfumes launched. Over the year we’ve seen our fair share of masterpieces, duds, flankers and celebrity money makers in, and as with any other year it has been a roller coaster ride of an experience sifting through just a tiny portion of what has been released.

In this post – my annual perfume awards (‘The Candies’) – I’m taking a look at my fragrant highlights of the year and those perfumes that have impressed, moved and surprised me. I’m also highlighting the specific scents that have failed to meet the mark this year and are disappointing enough to warrant naming and shaming. So sit back, don your red carpet gown (or suit), pop the champagne and enjoy The Candies 2013.

[Please also head over to my fragrant brothers and sisters who are sharing their very best perfumes of 2013; Persolaise, Olfactoria’s Travels, Eyeliner on a Cat, Fragrant Moments, Perfume Shrine, I Smell Therefore I Am, SmellyBlog and The Fragrant Man.]

The Dapper 'Monsieur'
The Dapper ‘Monsieur’

It was only a few weeks ago that I was moaning on Twitter about the lack of decent niche masculines this year, remarking that there has been fluffing tons of beautiful, wonderful and masterful feminine and unisex fragrances in 2013 but very few impressive things on the male side of the fence. Perhaps creating decent perfumes for men is less of a priority for perfume companies nowadays. Who knows?

So yes, I was having a moan when the ever-knowledgeable Nick Gilbert said that I absolutely had to try (I’m paraphrasing, of course) the latest fragrance from Huitième Art – ‘Monsieur‘. Knowing that any recommendation from M. Gilbert is worth listening to I trotted off to Les Senteurs, one of my favourite perfume boutiques, to procure a sample of the latest scent from perfumer Pierre Guillaume.

Monsieur is billed as a “harmonious blend of eight woody notes” and is inspired by the Massif de Bois Noirs, where “torrents and waterfalls from Auvergne’s mountains carry along scents of moss, bark, wood, earth, humus and stone”. What one finds with Monsieur, is that it is a fragrance that is not afraid to be bold and whilst it may not be the most unique interpretation of woods, it does showcase an interesting sense of balance that is something entirely new.