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“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.

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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.

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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.

Twilly

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.

Candy Crush: Parfum Kabuki by Byredo
Candy Crush: Parfum Kabuki by Byredo

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.

There are many ways to wear perfume that sit outside the conventional spraying and dabbing of alcohol-based scent. For years one has been able to splash on an alcohol-free aftershave or even rub on a solid perfume. There are even shower gels and body lotions that one can use to extend and intensify a fragrance. So brands are always trying to find new and exciting ways to wear scent and cult Swedish niche brand Byredo may just have come up with one of the coolest, which earns them the honour of being this week’s Candy Crush!

Powder perfumes are nothing new, but they are out of fashion. Historically, many brands offered scented talcum powders or makeup powders that could be puffed on with reckless abandon, but these products sort of fell out of fashion post the drama of the ’80s. Byredo however, has decided that powder perfumes need a revival and they are bringing this method of perfuming oneself into the latest century in an innovative way with their Kabuki Perfume. Fusing the idea of makeup brushes and contemporary perfume, these perfumed brushes allow one to apply a soft powder scent in a more subtle way. Colour me intrigued!

Galop d'Hermès - Christine Nagel's First Fragrance for Hermès since Becoming In-House Perfumer
Horsing Around with Galop d’Hermès

The brand new fragrance from Hermès, ‘Galop d’Hermès’,  is an interesting one on a number of levels. Firstly, and most importantly, it is the first fragrance for the brand by Christine Nagel since she became in-house perfumer (she previously created their Eau de Rhubarbe Ecarlate whilst Jean-Claude Ellena was still the nose-in-residence), but it also shows the house of Hermès firmly looking back towards their equestrian roots. Galop d’Hermès is a fragrance that many will look at to ascertain whether this new collaboration with Nagel will see their distinct house style put to bed in favour of a new one, or whether it will be maintained as part of the Hermès heritage. Galop d’Hermès is the first indicator of what is to come in the future and therefore, a very important fragrance.

Galop d’Hermès is an essay in two ingredients: leather and rose. Housed within a stirrup-shaped bottle, which is adorned with a smart leather tie, in vivid Hermès orange no less, the fragrance, presents itself as a scent that captures the very essence of the house, right from the overarching concept to the individual notes of the perfume. Leather is an integral element within the Hermès DNA, finding its way into many of their luxurious accessories, whereas rose has been a key ingredient in many of the brand’s illustrious fragrances over the years. Together these two notes are presented in a pure parfum that is undeniably Hermès but also entirely exciting and new.

“At Hermès, I discovered all the femininity of leather. I composed Galop d’Hermès like a painting with two main colours…two raw materials that are emblematic to Hermès and to perfumery: leather and rose.”

– Christine Nagel

Liz Moores, the Papillon Perfumer hard at work
Liz Moores, the Papillon Perfumer hard at work

There is no perfumery quite like Papillon Artisan Perfumes. Situated within a peaceful lodge  tucked just inside the New Forest, this perfumery doesn’t march to the rapid beat of the perfume industry, choosing instead to move at its own pace.  “It’s hard not to be inspired here”, says Papillon perfumer, Liz Moores, and I can see what she means. In a space surrounded by the natural beauty of expansive woodland, and a practical menagerie of animals (I counted two cats, two dogs, an owl, an assortment of snakes, a bearded dragon, a tortoise, and a horse, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t catch them all), and not to mention Liz’s very own family clan, one can see that Papillon is very much a unique outfit where fragrances are hand made as and when the inspiration comes.

Working from home, Moores is able to set her own schedule, balancing duties of motherhood with perfume-hood. But Papillon is a growing business. The brand now has four fragrances on the market (Angélique, Anubis, Salome and Tobacco Rose) which can be found at a number of points of sale across the globe, so expectant noses around the world are pointing towards the New Forest hoping for more. On a recent trip to Liz’s home studio, I asked her what he release schedule will be and she firmly says that she will only release another perfume when it’s right and won’t follow a set pattern of a scent or two per year, as is often driven by the industry. It’s admirable to see a perfumer work in such a way and it’s clear from the four fragrances within the Papillon line that this particular nose is a perfectionist who strives to create beautiful and unique fragrances without bowing to market pressure.

J'adore Touche de Parfum
J’adore Touche de Parfum

I’m not sure why, but as the festive season approaches I often find myself yearning for fragrances from the house of Dior. Perhaps its the glittery glamour of scents such as Pure Poison and J’adore, or the unconventional warmth of Hypnotic Poison that get me dreaming of Dior, or maybe it’s just that I usually scour stores for a gift set bargain. Whatever the reason, I find myself drawn to Dior and this Christmas la maison has something particularly special to offer: J’adore Touche de Parfum.

Created as a new interpretation of Dior’s flagship fragrance (is it their flagship, or Miss Dior? I can’t keep up), Touche de Parfum is an oil based composition that can be worn under J’adore or all on its lonesome. Personally, I think it is the best version of J’adore to date and I have been literally bathing myself in its golden, glamorous tones over the last week. Also worth noting is the clever bottle, which draws up and delivers a drop of oil all with one simple twist of the stopper. Click here to head on over to Escentual to check out my review.

Icons of Guerlain
Icons of Guerlain

I think most perfume lovers have a soft spot for the house of Guerlain. Their fragrances have an undeniably coquettish spirit and often, a wonderfully delicious sensibility as well. Guerlain makes fragrances with humour that smell good enough to eat, but with just enough abstraction to prevent them from being literal gourmands. The history of the house is rich and varied, spanning almost 200 years and boasting a lineage of fragrances that range from the animalic wonder of Jicky to the playful glacier fruit of the unapologetic La Petite Robe Noire.

For my Escentual column this week I have put together a piece that looks at Guerlain’s fragrance icons – 12 fragrances that demonstrate just how important, classic and innovative the legendary Parisian house is. It was difficult not to include absolute every fragrance in Guerlain’s back catalogue, I tell you, but I think the 12 included are some of the absolute best that the house has to offer. Click here to head over to Escentual to read the piece and do leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts on which Guerlain fragrances are iconic to you.