Female Floral Fragrances For Big Boys: From Fresh To Full On

Floral Fragrances Mood Pic

About six months ago I posted about why men should wear female fragrances, in particular floral fragrances. You can read that post here: http://fragroom.com/2017/06/12/men-should-wear-womens-fragrances. After all, why miss out on so many more options by limiting oneself to so-called masculine fragrances?

“Why miss out on so many more options by limiting oneself to so-called masculine fragrances?”

Since then I’ve been sniffing out some new floral fragrances. While officially female floral fragrances, brave boys should consider giving these a go, too. I have already shared my thoughts on this year’s mega-launch, the much-debated Gabrielle Chanel EDP (http://fragroom.com/2017/09/19/gabrielle-chanel-fragrance-review/). In brief, although it’s not particularly ground-breaking, it’s a good option if you are looking for a well-executed and elegant white floral.

Floral Fragrances - Gabrielle Chanel EDP

Here are my thoughts on some of this year’s other floral fragrances, which range from the fresh to the full on.

STELLA McCARTNEY POP BLUEBELL EDP

The big designer fragrance brands are all hustling for the millennial moolah, with varying degrees of success and desperation. Stella McCartney Pop Bluebell is one of the better young’uns on the market. It features notes of bellflower (using biomimicry, as the bluebell is an endangered species), tuberose, violet, frangipani, tomato leaf, green mandarin and sandalwood. It’s more grown-up than its intended target market suggests. Stella McCartney Pop Bluebell EDP, R815 for 30ml, R1 105 for 50ml and R1 475 for 100ml

Floral Fragrances - Stella McCartney Pop Bluebell EDP

ELIZABETH ARDEN GREEN TEA MIMOSA EDT

Elizabeth Arden has a reputation for producing worthwhile budget fragrances and Green Tea Mimosa is another goodie. Green tea and citrus notes open this EDT, with mimosa then coming to the fore. There are also splashes of osmanthus, orris root, heliotrope and ambrette seed here. It nails summer freshness oh so well. And because it’s not over-powering, it’s the perfect intro to floral fragrances if you’re still not quite ready to go the full-on florals route. Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Mimosa EDT, R425 for 100ml.

Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Mimosa EDT

GUCCI BLOOM EDP

Phew! Never mind full on – this is a super-intense white floral fragrance. It’s a collaboration between master perfumer Alberto Morillas and Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele. This EDP features natural tuberose absolute, natural jasmine absolute, jasmine bud extract and Rangoon creeper (apparently the first time it has been used in a fragrance). Gucci Bloom is like being in a hothouse – wonderfully intoxicating or get-me-out-of-here suffocating, depending on your mood. Gucci Bloom EDP, R975 for 30ml, R1 335 for 50ml and R1 710 for 75ml.

Floral Fragrances - Gucci Bloom EDP

YARDLEY BOND ST NO 8 EDP

There’s no floral fireworks to be found in Yardley Bond St No 8. What you will find, though, is a slightly sweetish take on the genre, featuring notes of neroli, orange flower, white rose petals and musk. It fades quite quickly. But for the price, it’s a good enough cheapie. Yardley Bond St No 8 EDP, R399.95 for 50ml.

ZADIG & VOLTAIRE JUST ROCK! FOR HER EDP

 

The latest addition to the Zadig & Voltaire fragrance range features patchouli, vanilla, white jasmine absolute, tuberose absolute and woody notes. It’s a smooth, soft and creamy floriental, without the in-your-face associations of the genre. It comes in a striking sculptural bottle, designed to fit its male counterpart. I will review Zadig & Voltaire Just Rock! For Him in an upcoming post. Zadig & Voltaire Just Rock! For Her EDP, R785 for 30ml, R1 100 for 50ml and R1 460 for 100ml.

Floral Fragrances - Zadig & Voltaire Just Rock! For Her EDP

 

Dunhill Icon Fragrance Reviews: Dunhill Icon, Dunhill Icon Absolute, Dunhill Icon Elite, Dunhill Icon Racing

Dunhill Icon, Dunhill Icon Racing, Dunhill Icon Elite, Dunhill Icon Absolute

It’s intriguing to watch the evolution of a fragrance range from the launch of its pillar fragrance (Dunhill Icon) to the roll-out of its flankers (Dunhill Icon Absolute, Dunhill Icon Elite and Dunhill Icon Racing). It tells you something about the heritage of the brand and where it’s now re-staking its claim.

Dunhill Icon, Dunhill Icon Racing, Dunhill Icon Elite, Dunhill Icon Absolute

ICONIC: The Dunhill Icon fragrance collection, from left to right, Dunhill Icon, Dunhill Icon Racing, Dunhill Icon Elite and Dunhill Icon Absolute.

Dunhill has released many memorable fragrances since the launch of the superb Dunhill For Men in 1934. But the quality of releases over, say, the last two decades has been erratic, even for the most devoted fan. The launch of Dunhill Icon in 2014 was the esteemed British brand’s reclamation of all the iconic descriptors associated with its fragrances. “Quality”, “elegant”, “craftsmanship” and “British gentlemanliness”.

Dunhill Icon

CRAFTSMANSHIP: Dunhill Icon was launched in 2015.

With the recent release of the latest addition to the Dunhill Icon range, Dunhill Icon Racing, I sniffed out all four fragrances. These are my impressions of each of the EDPs.

Dunhill Icon Racing

RACING GREEN: Dunhill Icon Racing is inspired by the British brand’s motoring heritage.

DUNHILL ICON EDP

Launched in 2015, Dunhill Icon makes its debut with this complex scent created by master perfumer Carlos Benaim. It’s so much more than its aromatic-woody profile suggests. Notes of neroli, bergamot, cardamom, lavender, black pepper, leather and oakmoss feature in this effervescent EDP.

Dunhill Icon

DUNHILL ICON ABSOLUTE EDP

This later 2015 release ventures into more opulent territory. It’s the Dunhill Icon take on the oud trend, while not going the whole shebang. This is a refined treatment of agarwood, with bergamot, black pepper, jasmine, saffron, black rose, leather and tobacco leaf notes adding to its appeal.

Dunhill Icon Absolute

DUNHILL ICON ELITE EDP

An unapologetically woody fragrance, with ebony and sandalwood notes featuring prominently. There’s also a smattering of citrus, cardamom, black pepper and suede notes in this 2016 release. It’s smooth, seductive and modern, without being overly trendy. We’re talking Dunhill bespoke suit kind of stuff.

Dunhill Icon Elite

DUNHILL ICON RACING EDP

Complete with stripes on the top of the bottle, Dunhill Icon Racing is inspired by Dunhill’s motoring heritage. To my nose, Dunhill Icon Racing is not as immediately impactful as its predecessors. Give it time, though, and this Laurent le Guernec composition make an impression with vetiver, lavender, cardamom, citrus and musk notes. I normally like my vetiver dark and dirty, but this fresher and younger interpretation is a winner too.

My conclusion? This is not a range, but rather an evolving fragrance collection that warrants its higher-than-the-average perfume price.

“Mark Eisen’s award-winning cylindrical metal and glass design for the Dunhill Icon collection gets it right on so many levels.”

I must also mention the design of the Dunhill Icon bottle. The fragrance industry has no shortage of beautiful bottles to behold. But South African Mark Eisen’s award-winning cylindrical metal and glass design for the Dunhill Icon collection gets it right on so many levels. Paying homage to Dunhill’s motoring heritage, its solid and classic design is a sophisticated statement that Dunhill Icon is a collection with longevity. You can read more about fashion designer-turned-industrial designer Mark Eisen (picture below) here: http://fragroom.com/2017/09/15/south-african-beauty/.

Dunhill Icon Racing EDP, R1 095 for 50ml and R1 595 for 100ml.

Summer Fragrances Reviews: Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Eau Intense, CK All, Mugler Alien Eau Sublime, Salvatore Ferragamo Uomo Casual Life

Summer Fragrances - Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Eau Intense Pour Homme

Things are getting hot here in Johannesburg, with the mercury starting to push the upper 20s and early 30s. Hot and bothered, I will add. I remain a goth at heart, so I can do without the relentless heat. On the plus side, the heat is the perfect excuse to indulge in a selection of new summer fragrances.

Summer Fragrances - Mugler Alien Eau Sublime

I am very flexi in my approach to the fragrances I use during different seasons. But I do enjoy the cologne/aquatic/citrus/fruity/floral spectrums more in summer. They go well with Johannesburg’s summer heat. The best summer fragrances are often an olfactory ticket to somewhere exotic/ glamorous/ unconnected. This is vital when I am spending way too much time banging away at the keyboard.

CITRUS CHOICE: L’Artisan Parfumeur Au Bord de L’Eau is an ideal summer scent.

So how do some of the newer summer fragrances feature on the Fragroom-o-meter?

ELIE SAAB RESORT COLLECTION LIMITED EDITION EDT

The smell of an exclusive villa vacation. Notes of red mandarin, frangipani, pomegranate nectar, jasmine sambac, orange blossom and patchouli waft through the air. Well done, Francis Kurkdjian! Elie Saab Resort Collection Limited Edition EDT, R1 110 for 50ml and R1 535 for 90ml.

Summer Fragrances - Elie Saab Resort Collection Limited Edition

CK ALL EDT

What a happy fragrance! Created by master perfumers Alberto Morillas and Harry Fremont, it features citrus, jasmine, freesia, lily, musk and amber notes. This EDT speaks to me: “Spray often, you grumpy bastard!” cK All EDT, R605 for 50ml, R875 for 100ml and R1 230 for 200ml.

Summer Fragrances - CK All

SALVATORE FERRAGAMO UOMO CASUAL LIFE EDT

A cool cucumber opening (the listed notes say otherwise). Then there’s coffee, ambroxan and musk notes on the menu. Not as special as the tiramisu treat Salvatore Ferragamo Uomo, but still a reasonable casuale option. Salvatore Ferragamo Casual Life EDT, R1 000 for 50ml and R1 380 for 100ml.

Summer Fragrances - Salvatore Ferragamo Casual Life

MUGLER ALIEN EAU SUBLIME EDT

Mugler’s original creator, Dominique Ropion, brings a new sunnier dimension to this flanker. Jasmine, tiare flower, lemon, orange blossom and cashmeran take prominence. Typically Mugler, it’s bold and unapologetically maximalist. Mugler Alien Eau Sublime EDT, R855 for 100ml.

Summer Fragrances - Mugler Alien Eau Sublime

ISSEY MIYAKE L’EAU MAJEURE D’ISSEY EDT

Imagine a wind-swept walk on a deserted beach littered with driftwood. That’s the feeling I get from this one. Must be the aquatic, sea salt, grapefruit, bergamot, woody and cashmeran notes. A sombre scent. In a good way. Issey Miyake L’Eau Majeure d’Issey EDT, R965 for 50ml and R1 175 for 100ml.

Summer Fragrances - Issey Miyake L’Eau Majeure d’Issey

COACH FOR MEN EDT

The first time I have tried a Coach fragrance. Featuring nashi pear, bergamot, cardamom, vetiver, suede, geranium and coriander notes, this versatile, easy-going fragrance is what I could call “nice”. Nothing wrong with that. Coach For Men EDT, R695 for 60ml and R995 for 100ml.

Summer Fragrances - Coach For Men

DOLCE & GABBANA LIGHT BLUE EAU INTENSE POUR HOMME

I didn’t detect much at first, but like waves on a Capri beach, the compliments came rolling in (stay with me). The more I wear it, the more I love Alberto Morillas’ cocktail of sea water, mandarin, frozen grapefruit, juniper, amberwood and musk notes. Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Eau Intense Pour Homme, R 655 for 50ml, R1 330 for 100ml and R1 925 for 200ml.

Summer Fragrances - Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Eau Intense Pour Homme

LACOSTE L’HOMME EDT

A stand-out rhubarb opening to this woody spicy spent that also features ginger, black pepper, dry amber and musk notes. It brings much-needed elegance to my typically interchangeable PJs/tracksuit gym ensemble. Lacoste L’Homme EDT, R950 for 50ml, R1260.00 for 100ml and R1 320 for 150ml.

L’ARTISAN PARFUMEUR AU BORD DE L’EAU EDC

Taking inspiration from the Renoir masterpiece of the same name, Fabrice Pellegrin’s creation is the olfactory equivalent of an Impressionist palette of citrus-aromatic notes. Simplicity at its best, it features nuances of bergamot, lemon, violet, orange blossom, musk and rosemary. On my skin, I need to apply it fairly regularly. But when a fragrance is this good, I do so with absolute pleasure. L’Artisan Parfumeur Au Bord de L’Eau, R2 120 for 100ml, www.skins.co.za

 

Seduction Scents: Gentleman Givenchy, Bulgari Goldea The Roman Night, CH 212 VIP Black, Boss The Scent Intense For Her Reviews

Seduction Scents - Bulgari Goldea The Roman Night EDP

If I am to believe all the b-r-e-a-t-h-y advertising, there’s a whole lot of seduction going on down at fragrance counters. Keeping up with this steady procession of new seduction scents is a job in itself. Here’s my round-up of the new arrivals that range from the come-closer-compelling to the oh-dear-trying-too-hard!

Gentleman Givenchy EDTSeduction Scents - Gentleman Givenchy EDT

The complex and highly regarded Givenchy Gentleman (from the 1970s) is reworked for a modern market. Sweet and floral-y, Gentleman Givenchy features a wilted take on iris (an increasingly popular note in men’s fragrances).

I really wanted to like this new EDT, but some classics are best left well alone.

Gentleman Givenchy EDT, R1 010 for 50ml and R1 400 for 100ml.

Yves Saint Laurent La Nuit de L’Homme Eau Electrique EDT

The latest addition to the L’Homme range is not the best in the line, but still has enough sensual oomph to warrant a spray or three. Make sure, though, to sniff out the classic seduction scents: Yves Saint Laurent L’Homme and Yves Saint Laurent La Nuit de L’Homme.

YSL La Nuit de L’Homme Eau Electrique EDT, R1 177 for 100ml.

Seduction Scents - Yves Saint Laurent La Nuit de L’Homme Eau Electrique EDT
Bulgari Goldea The Roman Night EDP

Alberto Morillas delivers a well-executed dose of glamour and mystery with Bulgari Goldea The Roman Night. Featuring notes of black mulberry, black peony, night-blooming jasmine, tuberose, black musk, patchouli and vetiver, it’s one of the year’s better seduction scents.

Bulgari Goldea The Roman Night EDP, R925 for 30ml, R1 380 for 50ml and R1 655 for 75ml. 

Seduction Scents - Bulgari Goldea The Roman Night EDP

Carolina Herrera 212 VIP Black EDP

The shot of top notes (absinthe, anise, fennel) is intriguing (a vital element of seduction). But then makes way all too quickly for notes of lavender, musk and black vanilla husk. Not bad (another round of absinthe please!) and the solid glass bottle is pure eye-candy.

Carolina Herrera 212 VIP Men Black EDP, R955 for 50ml and R1 200 for 100ml.

Seduction Scents - Carolina Herrera 212 VIP Black EDP

Jacques Bogart Club 75 EDT

Sure, this cocktail of fruits, lavender and woods is not the most original of seduction scents. But Jacques Bogart Club 75 more than compensates with a potency and quality that puts many big-name designer fragrances to shame. And the value for money can’t be beat!

Jacques Bogart Club 75 EDT, R695 for 100ml.

Montblanc Emblem Absolu EDT

Are men’s designer fragrances getting sweeter? Montblanc Emblem Absolu, a fruity woody oriental, is another sweetie. Not particularly distinctive on my skin, but I did hear two women at a fragrance counter proclaim they would give their husbands “a second child if he wore this”. Va-va-voom!

Montblanc Emblem Absolu EDT, R1 295 for 100ml.

Seduction Scents - Montblanc Emblem Absolu EDT

Boss The Scent Intense For Her EDP

Boss The Scent For Her gets the intense treatment, with peach, honey, osmanthus, cacao and vanilla notes in the mix. The initial peach opening is quite overpowering. So best give it time to settle before deciding if this is going to be added to your repertoire of seduction scents.

Boss The Scent Intense For Her EDP, R1 010 for 30ml and R1 360 for 50ml.

Seduction Scents - Boss The Scent Intense For Her EDP

Gabrielle Chanel Fragrance Review

Gabrielle Chanel Fragrance Review

Did the world move for you on 1 September 2017? More precisely, did you feel the perfume world move? After all, the most important perfume event of 2017 happened on this day. No, I’m not talking about the launch of Tom Ford Fucking Fabulous, although that was a close second. I’m talking about the worldwide launch of Gabrielle Chanel EDP.  The fragrance industry has perfected the art of hype. And as far as hype goes, the first brand-new Chanel fragrance launch in 15 years (since the highly regarded Chanel Chance EDP in 2002) was fraught with expectation, hubris and debate.

Gabrielle Chanel Fragrance Review

In the month leading up to the worldwide launch and for the past three weeks, I deliberately avoided reading all reviews about Gabrielle Chanel. So apologies to all those fragrance bloggers whose notification mails I deleted. I didn’t want my thoughts on this fragrance to be influenced in any way by other opinions.

The Eastern Orange Free State

FREE STATE OF MIND: A family road-trip to escape the buzz and hype.

I decided instead to bring Gabrielle Chanel on a family road trip to the eastern Free State. To spend some time with it, on its own terms. I thought the Free State would be a fitting environment to do this, as this province of South Africa captures some of the qualities Chanel herself is renowned for. A pioneering and resilient spirit and an uncompromising style that can only come from suffering and endurance. Although the Chanel aesthetic is often associated with pearls and black dresses, Coco was never a prissy missy.

Gabrielle Chanel Fragrance Review - Portrait Of Coco Chanel

PIONEERING SPIRIT: A Man Ray portrait of Coco Chanel. Pic courtesy of Chanel.

So what did I learn about Gabrielle Chanel the fragrance from my relatively secluded time with it? Well, it’s clearly aimed at a new generation of younger women, who might find Chanel No5 “overpowering”, “old-fashioned” and “one of my mother’s favourites”. No doubt about it, this is Chanel’s big push for the “millennial” market.

Gabrielle Chanel Fragrance Review

The result is a modern scent that has a dominant heart of white florals (jasmine, ylang-ylang, tuberose, orange blossoms). The listed top notes include mandarin, black currant and grapefruit, but I only picked up grapefruit from those. The floral heart is fresh and contemporary, albeit not particularly original, and eventually makes way for a more traditional base of sandalwood and musk notes. I enjoyed this more subdued element after the initial spark of white florals had subsided.

The Eastern Free State

TREE OF LIFE: Gabrielle Chanel’s road trip included this vivid landscape.

While I am both male and 40-something (ahem, clearly not the target market), Gabrielle Chanel is very easy to wear, accessible and undeniably appealing. It will probably appeal to many other non-millennials too. And now for the big question…

IS GABRIELLE CHANEL A CLASSIC IN THE MAKING?

Mais non! And it doesn’t have to be. If the brief for Chanel’s in-house perfumer, Olivier Polge, was to create a modern, elegant and luxurious scent, he has succeeded admirably.

Gabrielle Chanel Fragrance Review

I had no “classic” expectations of Gabrielle Chanel. After all, is it realistic to expect another iconic scent like Chanel No5? I was going to title this post “Keep Calm & Gabrielle Chanel” and perhaps that’s the best way to approach this EDP. If you have unrealistic expectations of it, you’ll probably be disappointed. If you can appreciate it for what it is, then it’s a very pleasurable, well-executed scent.

Gabrielle Chanel Fragrance Review

Either way, do expect a roll-out of Gabrielle Chanel flankers over the next five years, as Chanel has invested heavily in this new pillar fragrance and left no details to chance. The luxe packaging and fine-glass bottle alone will tell you that.

Gabrielle Chanel EDP, R1 745 for 50ml and R2 465 for 100ml.

Gabrielle Chanel Fragrance Review - A Portrait of Coco Chanel

VISIONARY: A portrait of a young Coco Chanel, taken in 1909. Pic courtesy of Chanel.

  

 

 

Fragrance Review: L’Occitane en Provence Eau de Cade EDT

L'Occitane en Provence Eau de Cade

Before I share my thoughts on L’Occitane en Provence Eau de Cade, let me ’fess up. I have a soft spot for L’Occitane en Provence fragrances. Not just because the company (now owned by Austrian billionaire Reinold Geiger) still uses many traditional Provençal methods and ingredients in its products. But because last year, when I was man-down for almost a month in a clinic, L’Occitane en Provence Eau de Cedrat was my fragrance companion. I had to pack super-light, so I grabbed Eau de Cedrat, which I had not yet worn properly.

L'Occitane en Provence Eau de Cedrat

With its notes of cedrat (citron) bark, bergamot, nutmeg, ginger and cashmere wood, L’Occitane en Provence Eau de Cedrat became my fragrance pick-me-up during that tricky time. So I will always associate healing and upliftment with this special scent.

AND WHAT ABOUT L’OCCITANE EN PROVENCE EAU DE CADE?

Coincidentally, there’s also a healing angle to L’Occitane en Provence Eau de Cade. Of course, juniper berries (actually, seed cones) are best-known for the flavour they give to gin and their antiseptic properties. But that’s not the reason why I really like this EDT.

L'Occitane en Provence Eau de Cade

There’s an unmistakable pink peppercorn note whenever I first apply this fragrance. As I love a pink peppercorn note, L’Occitane en Provence Eau de Cade’s initial sharpness does it for me. Give it time to develop… And the juniper berry, bergamot, cedar wood and cade (the oil of the wood of the juniper berry shrub) come through. And then there’s iris and labdanum to soften the effect.

Karine Debreuil – the nose behind Gucci Pour Homme II, Yves Saint Laurent Vice Versa, Lalique Chypre Silver, Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Grosellina and the classic L’Occitane en Provence Eau des Baux – created L’Occitane en Provence Eau de Cade.

L'Occitane en Provence Eau de Cade

Respect to her for creating such a simply constructed, yet distinctive fragrance, with a most appealing woody, smoky character.

L’Occitane en Provence Eau de Cade EDT and L’Occitane en Provence Eau de Cedrat EDT, both R890 for 100ml.

PS: L’Occitane en Provence has several collections, including Baux, Cade and Cedrat. These feature body and skincare products that I have yet to try.

Fragrance Reviews: Gucci Guilty Absolute, Prada Luna Rossa Carbon, Thierry Mugler A*Men Kryptomint EDT

Gucci Guilty Absolute, Prada Luna Rossa Carbon, Thierry Mugler A*Men Kryptomint

So what’s on the Fragroom sniff-list this week? Well, we have three BIG designer fragrances. Gucci Guilty Absolute EDP, Prada Luna Rossa Carbon EDT, Thierry Mugler A*Men Kryptomint EDT. I am deliberately reviewing these three fragrances together, as they represent the best of what designer fragrances have to offer.

Gucci Guilty Absolute EDP 

The Gucci Guilty line has been on the market since 2010. While I have not tried all the flankers and limited editions, to me the super-fresh Gucci Guilty Eau EDT was the best of the range. But just when I thought Gucci Guilty was becoming a bit predictable, Gucci Guilty Absolute arrived.

Gucci Guilty Absolute EDP

This close collaboration between master perfumer Alberto Morillas and Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele is a very brave release for Gucci.

Its listed notes include a custom-made leather accord (Woodleather), a natural extract of the nootka cypress (Goldenwood), three types of patchouli and vetiver. All of this adds up to create a rich, woody-leathery EDP that’s most intriguing.

To my nose Gucci Guilty Absolute is almost medicinal in character. And I mean that in a very good way. With its deep leather vibe, it pays respectful homage to Gucci’s luxury leather goods heritage. (PS: Did you know Gucci will be celebrating its 100th birthday in 2021?) Gucci Guilty Absolute is not a get-as-many-as-you-can crowd-pleaser, so not everyone will “get” it. Either way, it’s good to see Gucci taking some risks with this new fragrance.

Gucci Guilty Absolute EDP, R1 210 for 50ml, R1 605 for 90ml and R1 895 for 150ml.

Prada Luna Rossa Carbon EDT

I am always very excited about a new Prada fragrance, as the Italian luxury brand doesn’t just churn ’em out. Of course, it’s in the money-making business, but there’s always a conceptual intelligence to the Prada aesthetic. And so it is with the latest addition to the Prada Luna Rossa range, originally launched in 2012.

Prada Luna Rossa Carbon EDT

A fougère with a modern twist, Prada Luna Rossa Carbon has been crafted as a fusion of botanicals and synthetics, the natural and industrial. It features top notes of Italian bergamot and pepper; middle notes of lavender, soil tincture, water, metal and coal; and base notes of patchouli and ambroxan.

Perfumer Daniela Andrier has created all the Prada Luna Rossa fragrances. And her latest creation reflects the above-mentioned contrasts with aplomb. As with many Prada fragrances, there’s something quite austere about Prada Luna Rossa Carbon. Yet it’s sophisticated stuff at the same time, because there are no silly gimmicks to grab the attention.

In my opinion, Carbon is the best in the Prada Luna Rossa range. It’s well worth sniffing out if you’re partial to lavender. While you’re at it, please also check out the award-winning, iris-infused L’Homme Prada EDT.

Prada Luna Rossa EDT, R990 for 50ml and R1 355 for 100ml.

Prada Luna Rossa Carbon EDT

Thierry Mugler A*Men Kryptomint EDT

A new Thierry Mugler A*Men fragrance is always cause for celebration. Originally launched in 1996, there are now 17 fragrances in the A*Men line, including the latest incarnation. You would think that with the umpteenth flanker, A*Men would have run its course. Thierry Mugler A*Men Kryptomint proves otherwise, with a new variation on the love-it-or-hate-it gourmand formula.

Thierry Mugler A*Men Kryptomint EDT

So what does Thierry Mugler A*Men Kryptomint smell like? There’s a lot going on here, with notes that include peppermint, patchouli, tonka bean, geranium, vanilla and coffee. If that sounds totally scrumptious, that’s because it is.

Thierry Mugler A*Men Kryptomint is the olfactory equivalent of over-indulging in after-dinner mints. Remember, this is Thierry Mugler we are talking about, so reserve and restraint are not on the menu.

Sure, Thierry Mugler A*Men Kryptomint is not the very best in the range (my favourites are still the original and the honey- and tobacco-laden A*Men Pure Havane). But kudos to nose Jacques Huclier, who has created all the A*Men fragrances, for playing with our noses again.

Thierry Mugler A*Men Kryptomint EDT, R1 195 for 100ml.

Fragrance Reviews: Carolina Herrera 212 Men Aqua, Jimmy Choo Man Ice, Issey Miyake Nuit d’Issey Bleu Astral, Scuderia Ferrari Forte

Carolina Herrera 212 Men Aqua Limited Edition

It’s been almost a month since my last fragrance review. And I have a backlog of fragrances to report back on here at Fragroom HQ. So this week and the next I will be reviewing seven newbies on my sniff list. This week we have Carolina Herrera 212 Men Aqua, Jimmy Choo Man Ice, Issey Miyake Nuit d’Issey Bleu Astral and Scuderia Ferrari Forte.

Issey Miyake Nuit d'Issey Bleu Astral

FEELING BLUE: Is Issey Miyake Nuit d’Issey Bleu Astral a hit or a miss?

Scuderia Ferrari Forte EDP

If, like me, you have never really explored Ferrari fragrances (surely too much testosterone), give this one a go. It’s not nearly as macho as it sounds. Scuderia Ferrarai Forte EDP is created by the esteemed Maurice Roucel (the nose behind Amouage Reflection Woman, Bond No 9 New Haarlem, Estée Lauder Pleasures Intense For Men, Gucci Envy For Women, Lancôme Hypnôse Homme, Rochas Man). The listed notes of this oriental fragrance include apple, lemon, plum, cinnamon, vanilla and patchouli notes. I mostly get a sweet and spicy pineapple vibe from this EDP. While not in the haloed company of the previously mentioned fragrances, it’s a good excuse to check out the world of Ferrari fragrances. Scuderia Ferrari Forte EDP, R895 for 125ml.

Scuderia Ferrari Forte EDP

Jimmy Choo Man Ice EDT

Jimmy Phew! That’s Really Sweet. That was my initial reaction to the third addition to the Jimmy Choo Man fragrance franchise, which features mandarin, bergamot, cedrat essence, vetiver, patchouli essence, cedarwood, apple, musk, moss and ambroxan notes. I have revisited this fragrance several times since then to give it a fair chance, because sometimes an initial reaction can be influenced by factors such as mood. However, I still get major sweetness, rather than icy freshness, from Jimmy Choo Man Ice EDT. Perhaps I am being too literal? So while this one ain’t for me, I see it working very well for trendy, active 20-something gents. Jimmy Choo Man Ice EDT, R695 for 30ml, R895 for 50ml and R1095 for 100ml.

Jimmy Choo Man Ice EDT

Carolina Herrera 212 Men Aqua Limited Edition EDT

Hard to believe that CH 212 has been on the market for almost 20 years. You know you are getting older when you can measure your life in fragrance launch cycles. Anyway, enough about me. The latest CH 212 Men incarnation, created by master perfumer Alberto Morillas (who-co-created the original), features notes of grapefruit, bergamot, marine, cardamom, gardenia, ambrox, cypriola, vetiver, sandalwood, patchouli, rose and musk. CH 212 Men Aqua Limited Edition is not going to score points for originality, but it’s super-fresh, high-performance stuff. CH 212 Men Aqua Limited Edition EDT, R1 200 for 100ml.

Carolina Herrera 212 Men Aqua Limited Edition

Issey Miyake Nuit d’Issey Bleu Astral EDT

I really like Issey Miyake Nuit d’Issey Parfum, with its grapefruit, leather and tonka bean characteristics. For their latest creation in the series, Dominique Ropion and Loc Dong up the contrasts ante. So Issey Miyake Nuit d’Issey Bleu Astral opens with a fresh burst of lime and Russian coriander. Then there’s a sensuous aspect with leather, ambery woods and vetiver notes. It’s very minimalist in a Japanese way and very effective. A case of less is more, and I want a lot more of it. Issey Miyake Nuit d’Issey Bleu Astral EDT, R965 for 75ml and R1 175 for 125ml.

Issey Miyake Nuit d'Issey Bleu Astral EDT

Why Men Should Wear Women’s Fragrances

I have been mulling this post for some time. Why do so many of us buy into the notion that fragrances are specifically “male” and “female”, “him” and “her”, “homme” and “femme”?

For a long time, I was also guilty of such self-limiting behaviour. In my defence (and this is admittedly a rather weak defence), I associated “women’s fragrances” with all things sickly sweet. Blame it on the joys of badly ventilated, open-plan offices where everything is to be shared.

Of course, there’s so much more to female fragrances than candy overload. Just as there’s so much more to male fragrances than aquatic notes. A lot of women already know this fundamental truth. They buy men’s fragrances not only for their fathers, partners and sons. They buy men’s fragrances for themselves, because they realised they were missing out on a good thing.

To a large degree, a lot of “male” and “female” is just marketing, with gender stereotyping galore. Perfumer Mark Buxton summed it up best in a recent Fragroom interview: “If you like a specific smell, wear it. What’s masculine or feminine in the perfume world anyway?”

“If you like a specific smell, wear it. What’s masculine or feminine in the perfume world anyway?” – Mark Buxton 

3 very good reasons why men should wear female fragrances

Your masculinity will not be questioned. Au contraire. It takes a very self-assured man to be brave enough to explore a whole new world of possibilities.

It increases your options. If buying a new fragrance, gets you going, just think about all the choices you will now have at your disposal.

Fact: Floral notes work very well on men, especially roses.

3 tips to get you started

Next time you are out and about buying a fragrance for yourself, make a detour via the female counters or shelves. If you are not quite ready to say you are looking for a female fragrance for yourself, a little lie will be acceptable. “I am looking for a great rose fragrance for my girlfriend” will do.

Allow yourself some initial olfactory confusion, and even revulsion, at first. You are just retraining your brain and sense of smell to respond to new stimuli.

As with any fragrance, experiment until you find what works for you. And always try the fragrance on your skin.

Some recommendations

Ready to explore? Here are some female fragrances I have taken to wearing recently. Perhaps you will like these. If not, keep hunting…

Please note that this teeny-weeny selection doesn’t even include the classics: Chanel No 5, Guerlain Shalimar, Dior Poison…

Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Pure EDT

With its marine opening and minimalist character, Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Pure EDT is a gentle intro to the world of female fragrances. Then you will be hooked by its jasmine, lily-of-the-valley and orange blossoms. Methinks the water-drop bottle design has a tool-like appearance.

Issey Miyake L'Eau d'Issey Pure EDT

Elizabeth Arden White Tea EDT

Yes, your mama will probably have several Elizabeth Arden fragrances and she knows best. Like its namesake, Elizabeth Arden White Tea is a relaxing and comfortable scent, with notes of fern, the sea, clary sage, white tea, tonka and musks capturing this mood so well.

Elizabeth Arden White Tea EDT

Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb EDP Extreme

You should already know Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb. While Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb EDP Extreme provides some floral fireworks in the form of jasmine, orchid, osmanthus and freesia notes, the major helping of vanilla gives it serious sensuality.

Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb EDP Extreme

Alaia EDP Blanche

There are only five listed notes in Alaia EDP Blanche: powder, solar, vanilla, musk and white flowers. It’s very elegantly on the right side of sweet. If simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, Alaia EDP Blanche scores big time.

Alaia EDP Blanche

Elie Saab Nuit Noor EDP

A big fragrance for big boys and girls. Rose takes the leading role in Elie Saab Nuit Noor EDP. Ylang-ylang, wood, incense, patchouli and black pepper add to the sense of drama. Master perfumer Francis Kurkdijan created this one, so top quality assured.

Elie Saab Nuit Noor

Narciso Rodriguez Fleur Musc For Her EDP

Don’t judge a perfume by its lurid pink bottle. I did not like Narciso Rodriguez Fleur Musc For Her EDP at all when I first tried it almost six months ago. What was I thinking! Rose, peonies, pink peppercorns, patchouli, musk and amber make this a superb, stand-out fragrance.

Narciso Rodriguez Fleur Musc For Her

Fragrance Review: Yardley English Blazer Royal

Yardley English Blazer Royal EDP

When I first received the slightly garish purple press box for Yardley English Blazer Royal, my initial reaction was snooty to say the least. I had to quickly put my inner snob back in its own box. After all, I should know better. Yardley is a heritage brand and has a number of classics to be proud of. Yardley English Lavender EDT is still a big seller more than a century after it was launched.

You can never have too many blazers…

The Yardley English Blazer range was originally launched in 1991 with English Blazer EDT and its after-shave tones. This was followed by English Blazer Black EDP, English Blazer Sterling EDP, English Blazer Green EDP, English Blazer Gold EDP, English Blazer Premium EDP and English Blazer Red EDP. I have not tried all of these Yardley English Blazer fragrances. However, those that I have tried have impressed me with their English gentleman-on-a-budget vibe.

Yardley English Blazer Royal EDP

So what does Yardley English Blazer Royal smell like?

This woody-fruity-ambery fragrance opens with notes of bergamot, apple and lemon. It’s slightly sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. The heart of Yardley English Blazer Royal is all florals with notes of jasmine, cyclamen and rosewood. I can’t get enough of florals, so mmm and mmm again… The base has a fairly standard sensual structure, with notes of cedarwood, patchouli and musk.

On my skin, Yardley English Blazer Royal fades quite quickly, so this EDP needs regular top-ups when necessary. And at the price, spray away… I have been wearing it during the day to gym and to work (thanks for the compliments, colleagues!). It’s also very capable doing the after-hours thing.

So Yardley English Blazer Royal is a chic cheapie. And like any modern royal, it’s accessible and relevant.

Yardley English Blazer Royal Deodorant

Oh, before I forget, Yardley English Blazer Royal is also available in a 50ml roll-on anti-perspirant deodorant and 125ml spray deodorant. Both of these are worth checking out. I am not usually one for mass-market spray deodorants (oops, there goes my not-so-inner snob again). But Yardley English Blazer Royal Deodorant is not bad at all, as it takes its cue from the EDP.

Yardley English Blazer Royal EDP (R269.95 for 50ml and R329.95 for 100ml), Yardley English Blazer Royal Deodorant (R30.95 for 125ml) and Yardley English Blazer Royal Anti-Perspirant (R21.95 for 50ml) are available at Dis-Chem, Clicks and Edgars stores nationwide.

What about some other worthwhile cheapies? Read more here.