Monday, December 29, 2008

Burberry - Brit for Men

A few mainstream designer houses have a fragrance portfolio that is unexpectedly impressive, producing progressive and quality stuff long after their clothes and overall aesthetic jumped the shark. A very good example is pre-Light Blue Dolce & Gabbana. Even though the designers themselves are somewhat of a sellout joke nowadays, licensing their names to pretty much anything and targeting teenagers with their tacky logo ridden garments, their perfume section is still going strong. From the tobacco heavy pour Homme via the musky amber bomb By trough to the pleasant citrus of D&G Masculine and the comforting woods of The One, Dolce & Gabbana fragrances are simply good.

Another case in point – Burberry. Even though Burberry still produces exclusive clothing and high quality luxury items, especially under the Prorsum label, the brand undoubtedly has been somewhat watered down the last decade. Similar to Tommy Hilfiger in the early 90´s, Burberrys fell for the temptation of catering to logo loving casuals and football hooligans, thus making the brand associations less appealing for the trench coat- and luxury bag buyers. Under the excellent supervision of Christopher Bailey they are back on track though, and the perfume side is strong as ever, Brit for Men being an excellent illustration. Other high-quality Burberry fragrances include the violety sweet Touch, the boozy green London and the highly versatile minty fresh Burberry for Men.

any are a bit underwhelmed when first sampling Brit. And sure, this is not a sillage monster or Joop! competitor. Instead, Brit is a very cleverly updated modern oriental. It´s sensual and soft and clearly designed to be enjoyed by a loved one close to your skin. Like many L’Artisan Parfumeur fragrances, Brit sports a remarkable longevity though; the powdery sweetness lingers subtly for hours.

An immediate association for me is gingerbread, the Swedish Christmas kind with plenty of cardamom. Other notes mingling happily together with the sharp ginger include spicy nutmeg and green zesty mandarins. The heart notes are dominated by a bold rose, obviously a conscious choice of perfumer Antoine Maisondieu. Rose, along with lavender the most characteristically English of notes, was of course a must ingredient to incorporate in this national homage.

National references aside, Brit also serves as a bridge between traditional perfumery and modern. Carelessly blending time honored barbershop tradition with cheeky synthetic accords. The end result is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Maisondieu has created the ideal Hammam Bouquet of the 21: st century. Playful, dandyish and delicate.

Year of Launch:
Gender Classification: Masculine
Reminiscent of: Boucheron Jaïpur, Paloma Picasso Minotaure, Chanel Allure Homme
Longevity & Sillage: Limited output, above average longevity
Overall Rating: 8/1o

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Speed Review: Annick Goutal - Musc Nomade

Year of Launch: 2008
Gender Classification: Unisex
Perfumer: Camille Goutal & Isabelle Doyen
Availability: In production
Dominant notes: Musks, rose, agarwood, angelica root, ambrette seed, Bombay wood, Tonka bean
Reminiscent of: Helmut Lang Eau de Cologne, Montale Roses Musk
Longevity & Sillage: Moderate sillage, decent longevity
Packaging & Design: Standard Goutal flacon with the Les Orientalistes graphic, Musc Nomade is the fourth in the series
5 adjectives: Minimalist, intimate, rosey, resinous, smooth
Overall rating: 6/10

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Oscar de la Renta - Pour Lui

Oscar de la Renta’s signature scent from 1981 is a powerful and heady floral chypre for men. With massive output typical for 80´s fragrances in general, it firmly lands in the same category as Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme and Floris Elite. This one is vastly superior though, especially compared to the latter brit.

It never takes the floral part too far and settles down to a nice powdery, musk base. But before hitting the base notes you´re in for one generous trip. Arid spices and herbs like carnation, geranium, oakmoss, lavender and cinnamon are embraced by elegant but strong incense. Further notes of vetiver, leather and gloomy florals are anchored by sturdy aldehydes. The aldehydic character makes the whole composition come across a bit like a masculine equivalent of Chanel´s ultra classic No 5.

our Lui’s quiet brilliance lies in combining all these diverse ingredients and dissonant notes and coming out on top with a smooth, refined, slightly abstract and mysterious blend.

Very far from the fresh scents of today, in small doses Oscar de la Renta Pour Lui is the perfect complement to a good dark suit. Formal, dry, unique and dense.

Year of Launch:
Gender Classification: Masculine
Reminiscent of: Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme, Floris Elite, Balenciaga Ho Hang Club, Estée Lauder Aramis, Chanel Antaeus, Trussardi Uomo
Longevity & Sillage: Both stellar
Overall Rating: 6/1o

Monday, December 15, 2008

Lorenzo Villoresi - Teint de Neige

The colour of snow is white, as is the colour of powder. And surely Teint de Neige is one of the most powdery fragrances ever created. The description even reads: "The essence of perfumed powders".

his is a somewhat demanding fragrance, make no mistake about it. Some will unquestionably find it too nostalgic, reminiscent of "old things" like their grand mothers make up cabinet or boudoirs in general. Personally I can't wear it myself either, mainly due to the strong tonka bean in the basenotes that doesn't sit well on my skin. But what a fine piece of perfumery it is.

eint de Neige is like a sleigh ride through beautiful snow clad landscapes. Impressions of jasmin and rose create a profound floral ambiance that attractively transcends into a soft foundation of heliotrope with its characteristically almond like gentle aroma. The slightly astringent quality of ylang ylang prevents it from going too sugary and gives it just a touch of sharpness making the composition even more interesting.
After many hours the progression finally settles in creamy sweet musks and a clean talc accord.

If you belong to the people who can pull this Villoresi off, then you are in for a very special treat. Either way, this masterful, cloudy and complex blend deserves some serious respect.

Year of Launch: 2000
Gender Classification: Unisex
Reminiscent of: Lorenzo Villoresi Musk, Etro Heliotrope
Longevity & Sillage: Both well above average
Overall Rating: 8/1o

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Speed Review: Gianfranco Ferré - Bergamotto Marino

Year of Launch: 2006
Gender Classification: Unisex
Perfumer: Pierre Bourdon
Availability: In Production
Dominant notes: Bergamot, jasmine, oakmoss, seaweed black currant, musk, orange blossom
Reminiscent of: Diesel Fuel for Life Pour Homme
Longevity & Sillage: Both slightly above average
Packaging & Design: Pretty and classic round glass flacon, but the overall design is just a bit too similar to Frederic Malle's range that was introduced years before...
5 adjectives: Clean, refreshing, gentle, floral, soapy
Overall rating: 7/10

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Jean-Paul Gaultier - Fleur du Male

An excellent modern and oriental take on orange blossom, Fleur du Male also has that classic Gaultier level of exuberance and lavishness. Therefore perhaps not best suited for high level board meetings or office use. Instead, wear this to a fun summer night out with good friends.

Although it certainly shares some basenotes with the original, FdM has plenty of merit of it's own. It's warm and spicy but also has a certain "cool" that makes it perfectly wearable in hot weather. Less projection than Le Male, but equally stellar longevity, stays on your skin until you wash it off.

contemporary, eccentric and self confident neroli for urban hipsters - good stuff.

Year of Launch: 2007
Gender Classification: Masculine
Reminiscent of: Christian Dior Fahrenheit 32, Jean-Paul Gaultier Le male
Longevity & Sillage: Above average sillage, excellent staying power
Overall Rating: 7/1o