There are some brands that have a cohesive olfactory aesthetic – we call this a “house style”. Prada has it, with its sparkling, fizzy iris theme at the core of most of what it does. Hermès used to have it when Jean-Claude Ellena was at the helm, when everything he created felt like a mineral watercolour, painted with delicate strokes (Nagel’s style feels more diverse). Heck, CHANEL has it too, with their flowers, aldehydes and clarity of execution. Narciso Rodriguez is another however, their house style is somewhat more subtle and is reliant on one key theme, which finds itself blurred into the genres of chypre, woody, floral and more: the theme of musks.
We’ve seen many musk-powered fragrances from Narciso, each utilising the materials to create a distinct sense of colour – usually a block, neutral colour. Their latest, Musc Noir, is no exception. It’s technically a flanker to their flagship fragrance For Her (a musky, rosy chypre) however, it feels several flankers removed from the original at this point. Musc Noir was created by Givaudan perfumer Sonia Constant and is seen as a more sensual essay on the darker side of For Her’s musks, whereas Pure Musc, which launched in 2019 (I never got around to reviewing it, but I enjoyed it) celebrates the lighter side. Comparing the two, they really are light and dark, and Musc Noir stands out as a unique entry into the Narciso Rodriguez collection. Let’s sniff!
Instead of a Christmas gift guide this year, I’m switching out my regular Candy Crush posts for just as regular Christmas Crushes instead. In these posts over the coming weeks you’ll find some wonderfully scented gifts just in time for the holiday season, with products that I am crushing on. So get ready for some marvellous Christmas gift inspiration!
Are you ready for Christmas Crush round two?!
I’ve probably bored you all half to death with my lyrical waxings on my Miller Harris obsession, but please indulge me one last time. Over the last year or so this brand, which I probably would have ignored or even described as ‘wishy-washy’ 12 months ago, has done a massive about face, launching a veritable feast of beautiful high quality fragrances that do the one thing that all fragrances should: smell good. They have found a character and a personality that they lack were lackingebefore and do you know what? I’m here for it! Everything they are launching smells great – some of it’s unusual, but for the most part it’s all accessible, well-composed and gorgeous in every way. A round of applause for Miller Harris, please.
I’m often asking people to sniff things and when I do, a common response is “it’s a bit musky”. This always strikes me as an unusual answer, mainly because many of these fragrances would not be classified as musks in the typical sense. Perhaps people see ‘musky’ as anything that is slightly funky, or perhaps it’s just anything that is difficult to describe and where musk seems like the safe descriptor. Whatever it is, this got me to thinking seriously about what musk really smells like and what it brings to a fragrance.
What I do know however, is that musk is a spectrum, one that ranges from laundry-like purity to animalic pornography. It’s a wide scope for sure and one that traverses a huge range of fragrances. In this post, which is the start of a new series entitled ‘Six Scents’, I take a look at six fragrances on the musk spectrum, moving from the cleanliness of a spin cycle to the shocking sin of a scent between the thighs. Buckle up, fragrance nerds, because this is going to be quite a ride!
“A night in Paris. Sparkling lights and music. A crowd. And her.”
– Chloe Love Story
Here we are with the first review of a 2015 fragrance launch. That didn’t take long, now did it? Well technically, this one was available in some countries at the back end of last year, but it is only reaching the UK this month, but let’s not split hairs, shall we. The perfume we will be looking at today is Love Story by Chloé, the latest offering from a brand that I haven’t featured on the blog before (much to my surprise, actually). Let’s rectify that right now.
In perfumista terms, Chloé is best known for their eponymous signature scent launched in 1975 under the direction of Karl Lagerfeld. Chloé was, and is, a gigantic white floral chocked to the brim with syrup and powder – fearful (but beautiful) stuff for sure. It would be fair to say that the house’s output since hasn’t been as bold, but is still very pretty however, more so in the modern style of perfumery. I remember being particularly impressed with Love, Chloe (a very subtle powder scent) and I’d definitely put this new one, Love Story on that list as well.
For Love Story, Chloé has envisaged a feminine fairytale starring actress, Clémence Posey (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), directed by Mélanie Laurent (as seen in Inglourious Basterds), snapped by Inez Van Lamsweerde and scented by perfumer, Anne Flipo (MyQueen, Chloé Fleur de Narcisse and Manifesto). Housed within a padlock shaped bottle, a sign of love seen on the bridges of the city of lights, Chloé’s Love Story is a contemporary spring floral full of life and romance – an Eau de Parfum dripping with dazzling prettiness.
“Love Story is a modern story of seduction. Her. And him. Their paths cross, a few mumbled words, a beautiful moment.”
When it comes to wearing perfume one would consider oneself as a traditionalist, preferring the tried and tested method of spraying (usually copiously) over dabbing or rolling. Concentrations too are a very non-experimental area for this perfume blogger who most definitely prefers Eau de Parfum to anything else.
Perfume oils are not something one would usually even try let alone wear, mainly due to the fact that they are designed to wear close to skin and for a lover of nuclear sillage that simply is not cricket. But one must try everything at least once and thanks to Escentual.com there may just be a musk oil that cuts the mustard – Musc for Her by Narciso Rodriguez. (Slightly NSFW pic below the jump)
“Dress your skin in a new form of Narciso Rodriguez elegance. The Narciso Rodriguez For Her Musc Oil is a precious way to wear the iconic For Her fragrance.
Back and even more luxurious than before, the Musc oil is inspired by the mysterious depths of Egyptian Musk, a scent that Narciso himself wears like a lucky charm. Truly sensuous, the fragrance holds itself close to the skin and invites others to come closer.
The Narciso Rodriguez For Her Musc Oil is to be worn alone for personal pleasure, or with the eau de parfum to elevate its musky notes to another level of seduction.”
When I think of Jean Paul Gaultier I think of effeminate, yet muscly sailors, cone-bras, corsets and spanking. His fashions, fragrances and even he himself embodies all that is naughty about the french. There is a reason why he has been dubbed the ‘L’Enfant Terrible’ of Parisian fashion
What I don’t imagine when I think of Jean Paul Gaultier is softness, subtlety and warmth, but that’s exactly what I find in GAULTIER². Each of JPG’s fragrances are so bold and popular that it’s a hard job to escape them out there in the real world, but not GAULTIER² – the stealth Gaultier and black sheep of the family. Classique and Le Mâle may get all the attention, but GAULTIER² is the quietly clever one, severely underrated yes, even misunderstood, but it cannot be denied that it is a stroke of genius.
“Him and Her. Her and Him. Mixing the genres is Jean Paul Gaultier’s favourite game. With GAULTIER², he breaks through traditional fragrance barriers with his unisex fragrance. A true olfactory statement.” 
GAULTIER² was created by Francis Kurkdjian (we’re all in agreement that the man’s a genius, right?) in 2005 and is a scent for both the boys and the girls. It is described as “the essence of two skins in love. A warm, sensual fragrance that blends the masculine and feminine in a trio of musk, amber and vanilla”  and is housed in a bottle of two halves, one for him and one for her, held together by a magnetic force.
I find it interesting that JPG, the king of excess, would go for three simple notes in this fragrance and I’m sure that if we were to look at the formula we would discover that there are more ingredients, but I can’t help be attracted to the idea of three aromas blended together to find the perfect equilibrium. There’s something really quite romantic about that simplicity and the harmony it brings.
Last week, after six weeks of painful but also enjoyable unemployment, I started a brand new, and very exciting job (hence the lack of posts). Now like any sane fume-nerd my initial though on gaining new employment was “what perfume am I going to wear on my first day?!” That’s right, not “will I like the job?” or even “what shall I wear”, it was, as it always is, all about the perfume.
So why not just where whatever I fancy on day one? Well the thing is, when entering a new environment it is important for one to ease people in gently, it does not pay to projectile vomit ones personality in people’s general direction. I have found that it’s always best to go for something relatively low key that is still perfume-y enough to let people know that you mean business, and what do you know a few days before my first day just the thing landed on my doorstep – Aqua Universalis by Maison Francis Kurkdjian.
If you’re not familiar with the idea behind über talented perfumer Francis Kurkdjian’s solo project then you should get to familiarising yourself pretty quick because you’re missing out. The house provides an ‘all for one’ fragrant shopping experience with fragrances for the morning and evening, and wonderful scented things for the body (leather bracelets et al) and the home (candles, incense papers, laundry detergents and scented bubbles). With his ‘Maison’ Kurkdjian is selling a completely scented lifestyle like no other.
Aqua Universalis is Kurkdjian’s take on the much maligned genre of laundry clean fragrances. Made to fulfil the average consumer’s desire to feel clean and shower fresh, a style of fragrance that very often ends up producing cocktails of vile, strong musks and calone that sends fumenerds heading for the hills. Aqua Universalis is not one of these fragrances, it is an intelligent and natural take on ‘clean’ that most importantly still smells like a perfume.
If I had a penny for each and every time I had mentioned that green fragrances really aren’t my thing on this blog I’d have, well I’d have at least 6 pennies I reckon. 6 whole pennies people! In a time of recession that kind of money is not to be scoffed at. Now I’m not entirely sure why it is that me and green things don’t get on, perhaps I just prefer the flowers to the trees, shrubs and leaves, but whatever the reason the truth is that when it comes to me, it’s not that easy being green.
Now if there is one thing I have learned on my journey, wading through all of this perfume, is to never say never. One may think that one hates green fragrances but one can never speak too soon because quicker than lightning someone like Vero Profumo will come along with a fragrance like Mito or Andy Tauer with Verdant and one can’t help but coo at how beautiful it is. But then sometimes you’ll come across a green fragrance that is neither awful nor beautiful, one that is simply nice.
Comme des Garçons’ latest release ‘Amazingreen’ is one such green fragrance and it intends to be “an explosive fragrance that is as wild as the elements” where “organic greenery meets with the explosive elements of smoke and flint.” The sheer mention of the word “greenery” in the latter of these statements would usually send me running for the hills, but I was surprisingly intrigued by a fragrance who’s name promises something that is both “Amazing” and “Green”. What I found however, is a fragrance that isn’t really either of these things, and I’m not entirely sure whether that is disappointing or not.
The purgatory drawer is a lonely place, it’s where my unloved and abandoned perfume bottles go to live out the rest of their days before they inevitably pass on to the other world (eBay) and leave me forever. Very occasionally I will delve into this land of limbo in a vain attempt to rekindle long lost love, and if a bottle is particularly lucky I will have a “what the heck is this doing in here” moment and it will be fully restored, in its former glory, on my perfume shelf.
One such moment occurred very recently, in which i re-stumbled upon my bottle of The Body Shop’s White Musk for Men, a scent that I haven’t worn, or even thought about for at least two years. It was with new found curiosity that I pulled out the neglected purple bottle, spritzed cautiously and inhaled with unexpected joy – “oooh this stuff is good”! It wasn’t long before apologies had been made (mine), forgiveness offered (his) and a place on the prized perfume shelf was offered.
It’s only fair that I was forgiven, I’ve always been a big fan of The Body Shop after all. Their bath, body and fragrance products are well made, well fragranced and generally well priced – what’s not to love? White Musk for Men is no exception, it’s a well constructed, nice smelling masculine that comes in at under £20, a rarity in today’s over-diluted and overpriced industry.
“It is in the summer when I truly feel happy and at peace.”
The weather has been more than a bit funny during the last couple of weeks. Firstly it was unseasonably warm for a couple of days, and over here the first hint of sun and warmth sends us Brits into a shorts, t-shirt and flip-flop wearing frenzy even though it still it isn’t quite warm enough for all of that malarky, and then as if it couldn’t quite make up its mind the weather changed quite considerably.
Following the unexpected warmth there has been a just-as-unusual-for-this-time-of-year spell of cold weather, with heavy snow in some parts of the north. This tease of summer which was quickly clawed back by the cruelness of winter has left me craving the sun, I am a June baby after all and it is in the summer when I truly feel happy and at peace. Another reason I love summer is that it’s the perfect time to rock my favourite florals, but that’s beside the point, the main reason that summer is so good is because its the time where we really get to enjoy the outdoors.
To celebrate the summer season, each year Paul Smith launches a duo (one masculine and one feminine) of summer fragrances called the Paul Smith Sunshine Editions, the scents remain the same every year however the bottles change. Both fragrances “express the end of a sunny summers day” and the masculine edition that I shall be reviewing today certainly leads me to think of warm, sunny days where the soul feels energised and care-free.