As of today, there are just under two calendar weeks until Christmas day! If, like me, you have neglected your Christmas shopping entirely up to this point, or if you simply have a few tricky gifts left to buy, you will more than likely be scouring the blogs for some gift inspiration in the form of fragrance gift guides. These pieces can be pretty helpful in guiding us to some special presents for those special people in our lives, so this year I’m bringing you two gift guides; a luxury fragrance guide in my Escentual column and today, this very guide that you’re reading right now!
This year I wanted to do a little something different with my Christmas Gift Guide. Instead of picking out scents for him and for her, or for mums and dads, or even personality types, I just wanted to gather together a selection of beautiful things that smell great. So that’s exactly what this gift guide is – a collection of fragrant things that are just gorgeous and will make wonderful gifts for those people in your life that like smelly things. They range from fragrances to shower gels, shimmering powders and candles, and whilst they may vary in their style, they all share one thing in common: they are drop dead gorgeous in every way!
Oof, this is a big one, dear readers. I have been tentatively putting this guide together for nearly 12 months and, after lots of tantrums and rewrites, I finally feel that it is ready to share. The notable thing about rose, and the reason for my drama, is the fact that it’s such a wide genre, with so many different interpretations and styles of just the one ingredient. In truth, I could put together a guide for each type of rose, covering the gourmand rose, or the oriental rose etc. in great depth. But that’s a level of detail that would take a lifetime to perfect and with tradition in mind, I have compiled a Guide to Rose that can be a starting point to the genre – an essential overview that highlights the very best of the many styles of rose.
Now, if you’re new to The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to series, here’s a little overview of what to expect. The series is an award winning olfactory guide to the popular notes found in many of the perfumes we love and wear. Each instalment takes a look at a singular note, its odour profile and the ‘must sniffs’ (i.e. the reference fragrances) that are essential members of that particular family. So far we’ve traversed the domains of; Tuberose, Orange Blossom, Lily, Jasmine, Lavender, Violet, Oud, Chocolate and Vanilla. Today, it’s time for rose, rose and nothing but rose.
“You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition”.
– Lee ‘Alexander’ McQueen ¹
Whether one is a follower of fashion or not, it cannot be denied that the work of the late, great Alexander McQueen is art. McQueen paired exceptional tailoring (forged after an apprenticeship on Saville Row) with violence, romance and often alien beauty to create pieces that shook, and more importantly, challenged the world of fashion. Whether it be his early collection, ‘Highland Rape’, which had a name as controversial as its clothing, or the 3D printed and H.R. Ginger inspired ‘Alien’ footwear from ‘Plato’s Atlantis’, McQueen demonstrated that he was a fashion renegade – always courting controversy, but never losing sight of beauty.
This weekend I visited the Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A in London. Running until 02 August 2015, the exhibit is a tremendous showcase of McQueen’s work, spanning his illustrious career from his MA Graduate Collection (‘Jack the Ripper Stalks his Victims, 1992) to his final, and incomplete collection (Autumn/Winter 2010). The whole thing is impeccably staged, with each room transformed to capturing the theme of each body of work. Perhaps the most captivating part of the exhibit is the ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ – a room that spans two storeys and is filled with a dazzling array of pieces, from accessories such as bags, shoes and head pieces (many of which are collaborations with milliner, Philip Treacy), to gowns and metal spines. There’s simply so much to look at and the whole thing serves as a true testament to the talent, nay, the genius of one of the world’s greatest fashion designers.
Leaving the exhibition I felt incredibly inspired. It was fascinating to literally walk through the evolution of McQueen’s aesthetic, encountering the divine and the macabre along the way. There will never be another talent like his and to celebrate this stunning exhibition and body of work, I thought I would pick out some of my favourite McQueen pieces from his greatest collections, and ‘scent them’ with some perfumes that embody the spirit of these remarkable pieces of fashion. Here you’ll find some deeply intriguing clothing and scents, all of which are tailored to perfection and challenge one’s perceptions. They are works of fashion and olfactory art.
I like to scent things. It’s true, I do. Also, it’s The Oscars this weekend so it feels only right that I should tie the two things together. In my Scent a Celebrity Series, I try to pick perfumes that represent the personalities, characters and style of some of my favourite celebrities, whether they be real or fictional. This post is an extension of this idea, of sorts, but instead of looking at the celebrities, I’m casting my fragrant eye over something entirely more important – their fashion.
The Oscars mean one thing – the red carpet. And what does the red carpet bring? Fashion, and lots of it. Like most people, I’m not as fussed about the Awards themselves (although I am rooting for Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore for the Best Actor and Best Actress gongs this year) as I am the fashion. I may skip through the ceremony, but you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be tuning in to the red carpet in full, not to mention Fashion Police on the following day to get a full post game analysis of who wore what, and whether it was good, bad or ugly.
So, in anticipation of some truly awesome red carpet fashion this weekend (those celebrities better not disappoint), I have put together six of my favourite iconic Oscar looks (I couldn’t settle on five) and have scented them with some decadently glam fragrances to match. It’s all about to get a bit ‘Hollywood’ up in here, so get the popcorn on, throw on your most glamorous onesie and get set to enjoy some truly high-fashion red carpet and perfume moments.
I’ve always done everything to excess. My mother often tells me that as a kid, I had no off switch when it come to noise and food. Not much has changed since my formative years except for the fact that perfume has now become the outlet for my excessive personality (although I still have time for noise and food), meaning that over the period of time for which I’ve been interested in the subject, I’ve amassed quite a collection of scents.
Having lots of perfume is a good thing, after all, variety is the spice of life, as they say. But it can also be suffocating at times and the sheer thought of there being so much fragrance not being used in my house can be quite unsettliung. It’s a strange balance to strike – one wants variety, but at the same time it can pay to have a more selective approach to what perfumes one wears.
If anyone asks me whether I have a top five perfumes (or a top ten/twenty-five etc), my stock answer is always a definite; “oh, there’s no way I could only pick five”. But the truth is that this has changed over the last year or so and I do feel that I can now quite easily pick out some of my all-time favourites from the many bottles that sit neatly in boxes under my bed or are scattered untidily around the house.
So, to challenge myself, I have put together a list of my top five fragrances – five perfumes that I simply could not live without and if I had to hand over my collection (begrudgingly, of curse), these would be the ones that would stay. They are the non-negotiables and range from the ‘old faithfuls’ to more recent loves. But whether they are new additions or trusty friends, these are the five perfumes that I simply could not do without, right now… (they are subject to change, of course).
Awards Season is set to end this Sunday with the 86th Academy Awards (a.k.a. ‘The Oscars’) and the stars will be out in full force, donning their finest garb having spent hours preening their faces and coiffing their hair. Of course, us mere mortals will simply be watching the ceremony at home in our pyjamas, possibly scoffing on some popcorn in a nod to the wonders of the silver screen. Still, we can live vicariously through the glamour of the winners and losers, can’t we?
Thinking about the Oscars and the upcoming Jasmine Awards (for which I need to pick myself an outfit) led me to ponder over which perfumes are best suited to formal occasions. Most of the time I’m of the belief that one should wear whatever they heck they want when they want, but in situations where dress codes are enforced and one has to be smart, it can be beneficial to pick out a scent that is suitably dapper to match.
For this post I’ve put together some of my favourite ‘smart’ perfumes for black tie or formal occasions. They range from the smart casual to the well-tailored and the dramatic, and between them they serve as a mini-guide to picking that perfect scent for a special occasion. Most are unisex so are suitable regardless of whether you’re a guy or a girl and can be paired with a suit, tux or fancy dress to ensure that you’re looking good and smelling fine.
The day consisted of a trio of treats; sniffing perfume at Bloom followed by award wining fish and chips next door at Poppies (well calamari and chips for me) before even more sniffing at Les Senteurs. My main aim of the day, other than socialising of course, was to pick up a new rose perfume, so at Bloom I headed straight for the Parfumerie Generale bottles to try the widely respecte Brulure de Rose (I’m not sure how I feel about this one) and the new Isparta (review to come soon). Neither hit the spot so I have nabbed some samples and will be revisiting them over the coming weeks. I did realise just how much I need a bottle of Djhenné though and am now 99.9% sure on the wedding scent front, so it was a very worthy trip indeed!
In a weird case of serendipity I have been in the mood to do things on a regular basis over the last week; wear rose perfumes and stare at Salvador Dalí’s 1958 work ‘The Meditative Rose. The painting captures the ethereal beauty of the rose, floating high in the sky, casting a tranquil scene that aptly sums up how I feel about rosy fragrances within my collection.
I’ve always seen roses as having a soft and calming presence and much like the two small figures in Dalí’s painting I find myself feeling quite contemplative when wearing any perfume with roses. Over the last week I’ve been relying heavily on Montale’s Black Aoud, a perfume that pairs the sharpness of leather and oud with the most powdery of roses. It’s exotic but comforting and allows one to shroud oneself in a red blanket, which is especially handy in this weather.