Doesn’t time fly? French niche brand By Kilian is celebrating their 10th anniversary already! It only feels like yesterday when they launched L’Oeuvre Noire, their debut collection of fragrances that contained such beauties as Love (Don’t be Shy) and Beyond Love (Prohibited), and many more. By Kilian has been on a massive journey since then, launching a veritable feast of fragrances, candles and even jewellery, not to mention the fact that the brand was acquired by Estée Lauder in 2016. It’s been an incredibly fragrant odyssey and to celebrate, Kilian has just launched two golden perfumes for their tenth anniversary in a new collection entitled ‘From Dusk Till dawn’.
Those two perfumes are Gold Knight and Woman in Gold, and they take inspiration from Gustav Klimt, coming housed within a (rather substantial) golden clutch that reinterprets the artist’s famous work ‘The Kiss’. The focus of this review is Gold Knight, the masculine scent in the pair and easily the stand out of the two. Gold Knight is inspired “the dashing, golden-armored chevalier in Klimt’s 1902 Beethoven Frieze” and is described by Kilian as being a woody oriental. It’s a perfume that lives up to its golden name, presenting something dazzling, bold, muscular, and undeniably ‘by Kilian’ in every way, shape and form.
We’re officially in quarter four of 2017 and what a year it has been. By my count there has been at least 20 million fragrance launches this year, but I do have a tendency to exaggerate. In truth it has felt like a particularly busy year, with lots of behemoth launches from equally gigantic brands. I also think it has been a phenomenally good year for perfume and I’ve fallen in love with more than a handful of wonderful fragrances already. But this post is not a retrospective of the year – you can have that at the annual Candies (my fragrance awards) in December, no this is something a little bit different.
As we’re heading towards the end of this year I thought it would be a good idea to do a quick recap of the big perfume trends we’ve seen this year. I’ve certainly noticed a handful of key themes over the last 12 months and it’s kind of fascinating to look back at them at this point in the year. So in this post you will find four trends that have populated the perfume landscape in 2017. These are just my thoughts however, and I’d be more than happy to hear about any trends you’ve identified too!
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.
Only CREED could name a fragrance ‘Viking‘. There’s something so audacious yet so fitting about the name that it could only have been chosen by the house of CREED. Now, I’ll be honest and say that I’m no CREED fan, but I do enjoy a number of their fragrances, namely Virgin Island Water and Love in Black, which are really quite beautiful. So I approached their latest masculine fragrance, which just so happens to be their first since Aventus (which itself has become something of a cult phenomenon, no less), with intrigue and just a touch of caution. I needn’t have been so tentative.
So you may have guessed from my little Shawn Mendes Signature review a week or so ago that celebrity fragrances are having somewhat of a resurgence. I know, I know, you’re all groaning at the thought (I can hear your moans carried on the soft, despairing winds of the internet) but I promise you that this time, things are different. Our dear celebrities have realised that consumers will no longer be fooled and they, or their teams, need to put in a bit of effort to actually make fragrances that are interesting. Just look at SJP Stash for proof, and even Mr Mendes, who isn’t wildly original in his scented exploits, but at least made something rather wearable and lovely. Now it’s time for Katy Perry’s turn to up her scent game.
I like Katy Perry. She is fun. Her music feels quite self aware and its catchy hooks are hard not to love. But Katy Perry has come along way from the bubblegum pop of I Kissed a Girl and her latest album, Witness, is a more mature sound that cements Perry firmly in her ‘serious artist’ phase. Whilst I enjoy her music, Katy Perry’s fragrant offerings have been somewhat lacklustre for me, even though some have been packaged in cat-shaped bottles (I bloody love cats), but all of that is set to change because INDI, her latest, is a massive departure from Perry’s earlier offering. INDI is an “androgynous” fragrance that comes with the tagline “be different together”. It reportedly boasts 11 types of musk and takes inspiration from Tom Ford’s Black Orchid – intrigued yet?
I do a lot of walking throughout the year. There’s something restorative about simply putting one foot in front of the other in the great outdoors that just helps keep the mind healthy. My favourite time of year to walk is autumn, especially in the woods. I love the way the leaves carpet the ground in their patchwork colours – the way they rustle mischeviously underfoot, moving in a tide of oranges, reds and browns. I love the way the air smells cold, and of smoke. I love the trees and their peeling barks, and the way they stand so silently like stoic totems. A walk in the woods during autumn is a really evocative adventure and it seems as if Jo Malone London think so too!
Jo Malone London is spoiling us this year. Instead of just one new addition to their collection, they’re giving us two! This little capsule collection is called The English Oak and includes two fragrances (English Oak & Hazelnut and English Oak & Redcurrant) that showcase a unique and exclusive roasted oak absolute that is sourced from “washed wood chips [which] are roasted at high temperatures, yielding up a rich, deep and smoky-sweet absolute”. Both scents were created by perfumer Yann Vasnier, who previously created the brand’s Bloomsbury Set collection. The idea is to present a different kind of wood in fragrance – forget your sandalwoods and your cedar woods, this is the noble and wise old oak, and it lends itself to perfumery in two very intriguing ways.
“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’m always here for BVLGARI and their fragrant offerings. I feel as if everything they do is very well-crafted with an attention to detail and quality that is often disregarded in the mainstream. For the most part their perfumes are accessible and easygoing, with high quality materials favoured over a unique or challenging signature. Think your typical mainstream fragrance but elevated – that’s BVLGARI. So I crush on BVLGARI quite regularly, but I’m crushing hard right now on their new limited edition: BVLGARI Man in Black Essence.
Ruth Mastenbroek’s line of four fragrances is one the perfume industry’s hidden gems, but hopefully all of that is going to change and these fragrant jewels will be more widely known. Recently Ruth Mastenbroek rebranded, changing her bottles to feature a drop of perfume that depicts a scene specific to each fragrance (each one created through a detailed paper cutting technique). The idea is that every drop tells a story and no tale is exciting or as vivid as the one for Ruth’s brand new fragrance ‘Firedance‘.
Firedance is a fragrance of celebration – of big occasions and small moments. When I spoke to Ruth about her new fragrance she told me that her children had got married and she now has three grandchildren, which “feels like a wonder”. Firedance was born out of the contentment of these moments – it’s “the dance of one’s spirit – the energy of it”, which seems fitting as Ruth also told me that if she wasn’t a perfumer, she would be a dancer. Firedance is a vibrant and explosive take on rose with the smokiness of leather to evoke fire, and like the rest of Ruth’s collection, you need to sniff it.
Just when you thought celebrity fragrances were dead, one of the hottest stars in music drops a debut fragrance. OK, so celebrity fragrances were never dead and actually, they’re seeing a bit of a resurgence and this revival of the genre is very much in the spirit of ‘we take this very seriously now in order to atone for our past trashy transgressions, OK’. I’m talking about the likes of SJP’s Stash (which could be niche, let’s face it) and even Katy Perry’s Indi, which is not your typical celebuscent either. So instead of every quasi-reality star and their cat launching a scent, real celebrities are doing it and they’re doing it rather well, which brings me nicely on to the subject of Shawn Mendes Signature.
If you don’t know Shawn Mendes (where have you been?!) he is a Canadian singer-songwriter who found fame through the social media platform Vine. At the time of writing, Mr. Mendes is 19 years old, has two platinum albums under his belt, literally millions of record sales, and if the concert I attended as part of the launch is anything to go by, lots of screaming fans. He’s also really handsome and he makes me sick. I joke, I joke! He is actually very talented (did I mention handsome?) and whilst I may have not been entirely familiar with his music before the launch I am now, and you know what? I’m feeling the Mendes vibe.
When it was announced that Christine Nagel would replace Jean-Claude Ellena as the in-house perfumer at Hermès I remember wondering whether the house-style that Ellena had crafted to be so distinct would change. Both are idiosyncratic perfumers with a bold style and Ellena’s mineral watercolours are as far removed from Nagel’s voluptous compositions as they can be. So we’re now four launches into Christine Nagel’s tenure at Hermès and it is safe to say that yes, the house style has changed from minimalism to a subtle maxamilism (i’m making that a thing, by the way), but it still remains completely faithful to the one thing that Hermès always delivers: luxury.
Hermès latest launch is Twilly d’Hermès – a fragrance named for the brand’s Twilly scarves, which are colourful, think silk scarfs that can be worn in a multitude of ways, and the scent really cements the brand’s new style, which feels a little bit more accessible. Twilly the perfume is just as vibrant as the scarves and Hermès use words such as “joyous”, “impish” and “playful” to describe it. The presentation, which sees the fragrance housed within a carriage lantern-style bottle topped by a bowler hat and finished with a Twilly tie, says that this fragrance is young, fun and full of surprises. So let’s not wait any longer and give Twilly d’Hermès a sniff.