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

 

Blend Of Both Worlds: Interview With Natural Perfumer Marie Aoun, Founder of Saint d’Ici

Marie Aoun of Saint d'Ici

My home town is associated with many things (not all of them positive), but it’s certainly not a centre of perfumery, natural or otherwise. So I was very intrigued to discover that Marie Aoun’s natural perfume company, Saint d’Ici, is based right here in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Marie was most kind to send me a sample pack of her natural Saint d’Ici perfumes. The metal box contained five scents. These included: The Company’s Garden, Myrrha Ambrata, Nomvikeli, Une Mandarine Pour Mon Homme and Mon Coeur Noir. At first I had to adjust to the raw earthiness of Saint d’Ici fragrances. But once I had done so, I enjoyed their unpretentious, almost “dirty” character. I use the word “dirty”, because many modern fragrances are overly sanitised.

Saint d'Ici Natural Perfumes

LITTLE BOTTLES: Samples of Saint d’Ici Mon Coeur Noir, The Company’s Garden, Nomvikeli, Myrrha Ambrata, and Une Mandarine Pour Mon Homme.

On the Saint d’Ici website, Marie explains how the name of her company came about. It also captures her approach to natural perfumery.

“The name, Saint d’Ici, comes from my earliest olfactive memories. I spent a great deal of time growing up at my grandparents’ house near the small village of Saint Jeannet in Provence. I distinctly remember rosemary, lavender and laurel when I think back to that time. It was these beautiful, classic, natural scents that first drew me to natural perfumery. However, as I started to explore African perfume materials, a whole new world of smells opened up to me. Rich, dusty, sweet-herbaceous, animalic and deep scents. Saint Jeannet was updated, it became Saint d’Ici (of here), a blend of both worlds.”

Saint d'Ici's Marie Aoun Lavender

OLFACTIVE MEMORIES: Lavender is one of the classic scents that attracted Marie Aoun to natural perfumery.

I was not able to meet Marie for an actual face-to-face interview, after my initial email questions. She had just become a mother for the first time, so obviously didn’t have much free time. I hope to meet her in the future, as I would love to learn more about her craft. In the meantime, though, this is what she had to say about her love of natural perfumes, “synthetics” and working with natural ingredients.

Marie Aoun of Saint d'Ici

PORTRAIT OF A NATURAL PERFUMER: All pics courtesy of Marie Aoun, except images of sample pack, lavender and sample bottles.

Where does your love for natural perfumery come from?

Quite simply, from my love of nature. My happy place is lying down under the trees in my garden. I believe most of us find nature therapeutic – we’ve been programmed that way. Perfumes are a sensual pleasure. I find that natural perfume ingredients affect me, mentally, physically and spiritually, in ways that synthetics cannot.

Why did you launch Saint d’Ici? And what do you hope to hope to achieve with Saint d’Ici?

I launched Saint d’Ici to create beautiful perfumes made exclusively from natural ingredients. Our perfumes are limited to editions of between 50 and 350 bottles per scent. This way we honour the seasonality and variability of natural ingredients. We also source most of our ingredients directly from farmers and artisan distillers in southern Africa. This way we ensure the purity of the ingredients and the ethics behind their production.

We created the hashtag #farmertofragrance to illustrate the importance that we attach to working this way. The added benefit of directly sourcing from small-scale farmers is that it provides us with access to lesser-known perfume ingredients that are only produced in small quantities. Our goal is to make all of these wonderful natural ingredients come alive through our perfumes in ways that will enchant the wearer.

Saint d'Ici iris harvest

FARMER TO FRAGRANCE: Saint d’Ici sources most of its ingredients directly from farmers and artisan distillers in southern Africa.

Are you totally against “synthetic” fragrances?

I wish I could remember where I had read this so that I could give the author their due. But the gist of what they said was: choosing a branch of perfumery is like choosing a religion. You cannot claim superiority. Clearly my religion is natural perfumes, but I am happy for others to practise synthetics. Having said that, I do take olfactory offence at the proliferation and strength of synthetic smells. I literally have to hold my breath until I’ve passed the candles and diffusers in most home stores.

“Clearly my religion is natural perfumes, but I am happy for others to practise synthetics.”

Saint d'Ici African perfume ingredients

THE OTHER HALF OF THE BLEND: African perfume ingredients.

What’s your favourite natural ingredient to work with?

That is a very tough question! I find that I go through phases. Lately I find myself adding a little bit of omumbiri or Namibian myrrh to most blends. I find that it helps seemingly disparate elements come together. It also lends expansiveness, modernity and masculinity to my mixes. One ingredient I never tire of smelling and working with is bergamot. Although true bergamot is from Sicily, I source mine locally from South Africa’s Western Cape province. It is just as beautiful.

Saint d'Ici Ingredients - Gemmerbos

FOLLOWING THE INGREDIENT: Fresh and dried gemmerbos.

How do you go about creating your fragrances? And how do you select the noses for your saint d’ici fragrances? 

I almost always start with an ingredient. My formula book has titles such as “Opoponax Absolute no. 11” or “Fever Tea no. 8”. I like to see how many different ways I can use a single ingredient and whether it works best centre front or in the chorus. I know that most perfumers start off with a story or fantasy, but I prefer to let the ingredients tell me where they’d like to go.

Saint d'Ici ingredients - clary sage

HERBACEOUS: Clary sage, one of the ingredients used in Saint d’Ici fragrances.

Saint d’Ici currently works with three other noses, all of whom I met whilst studying natural perfumery in Italy. I selected them because they are all talented and each bring a different aspect of natural perfumery to the table. Maurice Val nails unisex perfectly. Andrea Dittler brings vintage, old-world charm. Constance Beck-Treadway has the creativity to try radically new combinations together, with the ability to make them work.

Saint d'Ici Nomvikeli Constance Beck-Treadway

CREATIVE COMBINATIONS: Constance Beck-Treadway is one of the noses Marie Aoun works with.

Do you have a fragrance hero/heroine?

Not specifically. I am much more likely to be inspired by traditional cultures and their use of perfumery. The San’s use of buchu [a South African medicinal herb], the Sudanese matrimonial perfume ceremonies, even the Dogon’s love of the scent of fried onion are far more interesting to me than a fragrance master. They remind me of the instinctive response that we all have to raw and natural perfume ingredients.

Saint d'Ici Ingredients - Orange Bigarade

INSTINCTIVE RESPONSE: Marie Aoun takes her inspiration from natural ingredients.

What’s next for you?

I am currently researching the various ways in which people fragrance their homes that are perhaps a little less obvious than scented candles and diffusers. I am look forwarding to doing more custom projects in the future. All the while I continue to work on new blends, to explore new ingredients and connect with various farmers and distillers across the continent.

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.

Antonio Banderas Interview: The Business Of Seduction

Antonio Banderas With Queen Of Seduction

It’s not every day that a celebrity is in Johannesburg to promote his latest fragrances, Antonio Banderas The Secret Temptation and Antonio Banderas Her Secret Temptation. And do good while smelling good.

Antonio Banderas The Secret Temptation

Antonio Banderas is best known for his films with director Pedro Almodóvar (Matador, Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown) and Hollywood hits (Philadelphia, The Mask Of Zorro, Spy Kids, the Shrek franchise). What’s not so well known is that the Spaniard is also a photographer. Funds raised from the sale of his photographs at a gala event auction will benefit Nkosi’s Haven, an HIV/Aids NGO.

Antonio Banderas Her Secret Temptation And Antonio Banderas The Secret Temptation

THE TEMPTATIONS: Antonio Banderas with Her Secret Temptation and The Secret Temptation. All portraits of Antonio Banderas courtesy of Puig.

It’s fun to be part of the whirl for the four days he’s in the city, attending the press conference and gala event. But the real reason I am excited is the one-on-one interview I have with him, in which I plan to focus on his fragrances.

“Unlike many other celeb scents which crash and burn, the Antonio Banderas fragrance range is doing quite well, thank you.”

Unlike many other celeb scents which crash and burn, the Antonio Banderas fragrance range is doing quite well, thank you. Originally launched in 1997, the line now includes 20 fragrances and has bagged some awards along the way. All of them play on the theme of seduction and why not. Antonio Banderas has used his Spanishness to great effect in his films and his fragrances shamelessly ooze seducción.

Antonio Banderas

Antonio Banderas fragrances are smartly positioned and priced. They cost more than the average celeb scent, but are considerably cheaper than designer fragrances. Although I have not tried all of the fragrances in his range, those that I have tried offer surprisingly good quality at the price.

Antonio Banderas Queen Of Seduction

I arrive early for the interview (officially I have 10 minutes), dreading a haze of ego and entourage over the swanky and secluded hotel he’s staying in. When I meet Antonio Bandera in the flesh, I am immediately put at ease. He’s utterly charming, professional and looks good in blue jeans and a T-shirt. Before the interview kicks off, we chat about how he reduced his caffeine intake and stopped smoking after having a mild heart attack in January 2017.

Antonio Banderas

When we start talking about his fragrances, he’s visibly animated. I take that as a sign that I am not asking him the same questions as everyone else. Or he’s such a pro, he answers them like it’s the first time he’s been asked that question.

Shall we talk about your fragrances…

I’m not a chemist. I’m not a perfumer. I kind of understand the process, but I’m not the one signing the fragrance. What I give is a tremendous amount of information when I sit down with the perfumer.

Antonio Banderas Her Secret Temptation

Something very interesting happened when I first started doing this. They gave me as a gift a briefcase with a bunch of different scents inside, with no names on the front. They told me to open them, smell them and tell us what it is. I opened one and said, “My God, I know this. What is this?” And then I turned the bottle around and it said “Sunday morning”. Wow! They can synthesise Sunday morning, or they can synthesise recently washed sheets in a 19th-century closet. They play with all of these things and this is way, way, way more sophisticated than I thought. I didn’t know the combinations they could use to have this effect on your brain.

Antonio Banderas The Secret Temptation

When I arrive in Malaga, I know I am at home. You don’t have to tell me. If it’s springtime, it’s the smell of the flower of the orange tree, the ocean. And if it’s Holy Week, the smell of the incense. Together that is a package that makes me back to being seven years old and phew… [he laughs].

“When I arrive in Malaga, I know I am at home.  It’s the smell of the flower of the orange tree, the ocean, the incense.”

Antonio Banderas The Secret Temptation

That’s the power of fragrance. It’s an art and a science. You think you have forgotten something, yet a particular smell can trigger something from your childhood. What’s your earliest scent memory?

Oh yes, you don’t smell with your nose. You smell with your brain and your memories. My mother! Her scent of woman. The kind of feeling you want to throw it here [he laughs like a naughty boy]. That and my home town, with the strong smell of the ocean from the apartment terrace.

Antonio Banderas

You’ve been in the fragrance biz for 20 years and launched with Diavolo in 1997. What was your original motivation when your first started?

The motivation wasn’t mine. A lawyer friend Paco said to me, “Why don’t you diversify everything you do. We create a little company, you work with them and get a percentage of the sales.” For me, business at the time was something cold, dry, things I didn’t like. Paco taught me that you can be very creative with business.

Antonio Banderas Queen Of Seduction

At the beginning it wasn’t easy. Paco, me and the company Puig said we have to sacrifice time, slow-cook this thing – that’s how you do things that are successful. The third or fourth year our head came out of the water and my obligations became bigger and bigger. Now we travel all around the world and sell in 83 countries. And then it’s your baby and love what you are doing!

You didn’t expect such longevity…

No. The maximum they gave us was five years. Now we represent 7% of the whole company that has Paco Rabanne, Jean Paul Gaultier, Carolina Herrera, Nina Ricci.

“Now we represent 7% of the whole company that has Paco Rabanne, Jean Paul Gaultier, Carolina Herrera, Nina Ricci.”

Marc Puig

THE FAMILY WAY: Marc Puig, the CEO of Puig.

Congratulations! A lot of celeb scents come and go.

We’ve put a lot of work into it and they believe this company is a part of my life now. I go to Barcelona and see the CEO, Marc Puig. We are received like we are part of the family. And it is literally a family, the Puig family [founded in 1914, Puig is a third-generation family-owned, Barcelona-based business]. Next year we will celebrate the 20th year with special limited editions. I use all of them. This is the truth. Since 1997 I have not used other perfumes.

So what are you wearing today?

The first one, Diavolo. Tonight I will wear Temptation. But in the morning I need Diavolo, because it’s still my younger me [laughs]. It’s more lemon-ish, it’s more fruity, it’s almost like an eau de cologne. You feel very fresh. The afternoon you need something more complex.

 

“In the morning I need Diavolo, because
it’s still my younger me.”

 

I am wearing a combination of the King and Queen of Seduction to test you, to see if you will notice your own fragrances.

[Huge laughter] That’s an interesting mix!

Antonio Banderas King Of Seduction

One of my favourite characters that you’ve played, well, it was more the voice, was Puss in Boots. Which fragrance of yours would he wear?

Diavolo, for the name. He is a little devil. And, of course, King of Seduction. Because that’s the way he can conquer women! Oh yeah, PUSS IN BOOTS!

Antonio Banderas Puss In Boots

Antonio Banderas The Secret Temptation EDT, R455 for 50ml and R570 for 100ml. Antonio Banderas Her Secret Temptation EDT, R455 for 50ml and R570 for 80ml.        

 

 

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

 

Alberto Morillas: A Lifetime Of Creativity

Fragroom Interview - Alberto Morillas

I usually go easy on the hyperbole. But I reckon it’s safe to say that Alberto Morillas is one of the hardest-working and most revered noses in the perfume biz. In his 45 years as a nose, the Spaniard has created many of the most successful fragrances of the last few decades.

Fragroom Interview - Alberto Morillas

LIVING LEGEND: There’s a good chance you’ve owned at least one Alberto Morillas fragrance. Pic courtesy of Firmenich.

How’s this for a roll call of achievement…. Panthere de Cartier (1986). Estee Lauder Pleasures (1995). Tommy Hilfiger Tommy (1995). Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio (1996). Lanvin L’Homme (1997). Kenzo Flower (2000). Mugler Cologne (2001). YSL M7 (2002). Marc Jacobs Daisy (2007). Versace Pour Homme (2008). Bulgari Man (2010). No wonder, Alberto Morillas was recognised by the Fragrance Foundation with the Perfumer of the Year Lifetime Achievement award in 2013.

Alberto Morillas Fragrances - CH 212 Men Aqua Limited Edition

PROLIFIC CREATOR: CH 212 Men Aqua Limited Edition, one of Alberto Morillas’ 2017 fragrances.

My first Alberto Morillas creation was the vanilla-laden Givenchy Pi (1998). To this day, it’s one of my favourite fragrances. Driven by his love for his work, Alberto Morillas continues to be a prolific creator. This year alone I have come across several of his creations. These include cK All, CH 212 Men Aqua, Bulgari Goldea The Roman Night, Gucci Bloom and D&G Light Blue Eau Intense Pour Homme, among others.

Alberto Morillas Fragrances - Gucci Guilty Absolute

LEATHER REPORT: Alberto Morillas created the superb Gucci Guilty Absolute.

The master perfumer has not lost his touch. His unusual treatment of leather for Gucci Guilty Absolute proves that he has also not the ability to surprise and confound.

Alberto Morillas is the nose behind Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Summer 2017 and Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme Summer 2017. When they were recently launched in South Africa, I thought I would try again to get an interview with Alberto Morillas. I was thrilled when the South African distributor got the go-ahead to send him some questions by email. I asked him about his fragrances for Issey Miyake, his creative process and what excites him most about modern perfumery. This is what he had to say….

It’s not the first time you have created an Issey Miyake fragrance. What attracted you most to this particular project?

In 2007 Issey Miyake first invited me to bring my own vision to the iconic signature I admired from my dear friend Jacques Cavallier [who created the original L’Eau d’Issey and L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme]. This was for the limited edition Une Goutte sur un Petal. At that time I could impart a fresh new vegetal touch as delicate as a dewy drop on a fresh petal.

Each time I work on a new L’Eau d’Issey fragrance I pay homage to the Japanese designer and his amazing work. More specifically on this project, I translated his unique vision into a pure, modern freshness for the summer editions.

Alberto Morillas and Issey Miyake Fragrances

PAYING HOMAGE: Visionary designer Issey Miyake.

How do you bring something new to L’Eau d’Issey while staying true to such a modern classic?

Both the masculine and the feminine Eau d’Issey personalities remain so distinctive I can play with new modern freshness by inviting novel ingredients into the composition, while staying true to their unique signatures. Pineapple and kiwi bring the new exotic twist to the masculine scent. Summer is also played by exotic fruits for the feminine version. I introduced a new invigorating brightness throughout the colourful cocktail of dragon fruit, mango and guava.

Alberto Morillas Fragrances - Issey Miyake L'Eau d'Issey Summer 2017 Pour Homme

NOVEL NOTE: The pineapple note in Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Summer 2017 Pour Homme adds an exotic new twist.

Were there any challenges when creating these new Issey Miyake fragrances?

Since 1997 Issey Miyake first innovated on the market by offering summer fragrances as new fresh interpretations of the Eaux d’Issey Miyake. Always providing an abundance of joy, the seasonal creations have been regularly renewed and are supported by different original graphics and concepts. As a Mediterranean man I like to explore new sophisticated fresh universes inspired by my vivid summer memories. I am very attached, for example, to the citruses, sea notes and sunny flowers I married in these two opuses with joyful exotic fruits.

“As a Mediterranean man I like to explore new sophisticated fresh universes inspired by my vivid summer memories.”

Alberto Morillas Fragrances - Issey Miyake L'Eau D'Issey Summer 2017

What’s always the most important element in your creative process?

Looking for inspiration and new ideas when I work on a new perfume project is the most exciting part of my job. Behind every fragrance is a unique story emerging from a lot of sources, but above all from a direct dialogue with the people. As a perfumer, my inspiration comes from meeting with the brand. Their words are very important. Proximity makes all the difference when creating a perfume.

I confess I can hardly stop working and almost all my formulas are written by hand. My handwriting is my emotion. When I write the formula, I can smell the perfume. Like a craftsman, I have an indestructible passion for creation. All my fragrances come from this devotion to creation and have consumed all my days and nights for the past 45 years. I can easily imagine the fragrance without smelling it. For me, perfumery is an emotion. The technique is intellectual, but every perfume has to have a soul, a story and be an emotion.

Fragroom Interview - Alberto Morillas

WINNING FORMULA: Alberto Morillas says almost all his fragrance formulas are written by hand.

How long on average does it take you to create a fragrance?

It really depends on projects. Some only last a few months and others may continue for a few years.

“Creation is all about intuitive inspirations. Fragrances call for our deepest instincts and emotions.”

How important is intuition when creating a fragrance?

Creation is all about intuitive inspirations. Perfumers create abstract pieces from moments, emotions, sensations, people, places. Fragrances call for our deepest instincts and emotions.

With over four decades in the fragrance business, what advice would you give to aspiring perfumers?

If you want to become a perfumer, it is very important to be passionate, sensitive, enthusiastic, determined and extremely conscientious. You need an inquiring mind and a creative streak. You should be able to marvel at things as you did as a child. And of course, you should love the job of creating perfumes.

Alberto Morillas Fragrances - Issey Miyake L'Eau d'Issey Pour Homme Summer 2017

What trend in modern perfumery excites you the most?

Fragrance is the mirror of society; it has evolved a lot throughout the years. Today we have entered a time of high perfumery. Traditional perfumery codes are more and more revisited with a modern twist. But there’s also a strong focus on high-quality, statutory ingredients, texture and sophistication.

Alberto Morillas Fragrances - Issey Miyake L'Eau d'Issey Summer 2017

Do you do anything to protect your gift of smell?

I don’t even think about it.

Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Summer 2017 EDT, R995 for 100ml.  Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme Summer 2017, R965 for 125ml.

 

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

Finding Your Niche Fragrances

Niche Fragrances - Penhaligon's Much Ado About The Duke

The fragrance market ain’t what it used to be and niche fragrances are on the rise. The steady decline of the celebrity fragrance category is gathering pace. Designer fragrances that used to fly off the shelves are increasingly being discounted.

The numbers below speak for themselves. These figures are for the world’s largest fragrance market, the USA. But these are international trends, according to industry analysts NPD Group, The Business of Fashion and Perfumer & Flavorist. Amid all the number-crunching, there’s a discernible shift to niche fragrances. They have added almost $250 million to the fragrance market since 2014.

66%  the decline of the celebrity fragrance market in department stores from 2011-2014

6% – the drop in overall fragrance sales from 2015 to 2016

 1%  – the sales growth of prestige fragrances

The rise of niche fragrances - Boss Bottled Tonic

RETAIL BLUES: Designer fragrances aren’t the guaranteed hits they used to be.

Even South Africa, a land of mass market and designer fragrances, is not immune to these changes. Hence the recent arrival of Skins Cosmetics, the renowned Dutch niche beauty and fragrances retailer, in Johannesburg (www.skins.co.za). Skins Cosmetics strikes a good balance between big-name niche fragrances and more experimental niche fragrances. You’ll find everything from Aqua di Parma, Creed, Diptyque, Floris, L’Artisan Parfumeur and Penhaligon’s to Aether, Escentric Molecules and Le Labo at this upmarket store.

While it’s pointless to get bogged down in definitions, it’s always good to know what we mean when we use a buzz-phrase like “niche fragrances”. And why exactly are niche fragrances showing such growth. I asked two of my favourite bloggers for their thoughts on the above and this is what they had to say.

DEFINING THE VALUE OF NICHE FRAGRANCES

“If I were being really ‘black and white’ about this, the only honest, accurate answer is ‘nothing’. ‘Niche’, as a descriptor, does not signify any particular style or aesthetic. If the term has any value, it is only as a method of describing limited and/or independent production/ distribution. I would concede that the best so-called niche perfumes possess a clear reflection of the visions of their creators.” – Dariush Alavi of Persolaise (http://persolaise.blogspot.co.za)

Niche Fragrances - L'Artisan Parfumeur Au Bord de L'Eau

THE ARTISTRY OF NICHE FRAGRANCES: L’Artisan Parfumeur Au Bord de L’Eau, inspired by Claude Monet.

“Niche perfumery is a very creative arm of the industry. Most of the trends that have become prolific in commercial perfumery started in niche. It’s an important place for generating and testing new ideas. Niche is a good incubator for creativity. Its audiences are genuinely interested in unusual or forward-thinking fragrances. They don’t want to smell like every second person on the street.” – Clayton Ilolahia of What Men Should Smell Like (http://whatmenshouldsmelllike.com)

BEWARE! THE SNOBBERY OF NICHE FRAGRANCES

These insights from Clayton and Dariush pretty much sum up the role and nuances of niche fragrances. I would also like to add that we need to beware the snobbery of niche fragrances. Just because it’s a designer/mainstream/commercial fragrance doesn’t mean it’s inherently crap. I have come across a fair amount of that snootiness online. Equally, just because it’s a niche fragrance doesn’t mean it’s better quality or more deserving of the cash you’re about to splash.

Niche Fragrances - David Liss Fabulous Men

DAVID WHO?: The joy of new fragrance discoveries.

For me, perfumery should always be about the joy of discovery. The joy of discovering the classics of perfumery. The joy of discovering new variations on seemingly exhausted themes. And also the joy of discovering cheap and cheerful bargains. Ultimately, niche fragrances should increase our options, expand our knowledge and pleasure. So yes, be a discerning and savvy consumer, but snobbery is so self-limiting.

“Perfumery should always be about the joy of discovery. So yes, be a discerning and savvy consumer, but snobbery is so self-limiting.”

Niche Fragrances - Budget Buys Have Their Place Too

BARGAIN SHELF: Budget buys have their place too.

Clayton offers very useful advice to those who are just starting their discovery of niche fragrances: “Buy from a retailer who specialises in niche fragrances and let them help guide you in the beginning. With experience, most people will see common threads, maybe an ingredient or note they like, or a perfumer whose work they like, which begins to influence their buying.”

Niche Fragrances - Nasomatto fragrances at Skins Cosmetics

GOING DUTCH: Let Skins Cosmetics introduce you to Nasomatto fragrances.

Fragrance is such a personal and mood-influenced choice, so I hope niche fragrances bring you much joy. These are are some of my favourite niche fragrances:

Penhaligon’s Much Ado About The Duke EDP (2016)

British heritage brand Penhaligon’s has been in the fragrance biz since the 1870s and is one of the most celebrated companies in niche fragrances. From its recent Portraits collection, Much Ado About The Duke is an unapologetically sparkling rose, with notes of pepper, leather, wood, gin and tonic adding to its irreverent appeal. It was created by Daphne Bugey, the nose behind Jean Paul Gaultier Scandal, Le Labo Bergamote 22, Mugler Aura and Valentino Valentina Pink.

Niche Fragrances - Penhaligon's Much Ado About The Duke

Etat Libre d’Orange Like This EDP (2010)

While the company founded by South Africa-born Etienne de Swardt is sometimes better known for its shock-and-awe tactics, it also produces top-notch niche fragrances. You can read my interview with Etienne de Swardt here (http://fragroom.com/2017/04/20/etat-libre-doranges-etienne-de-swardt/). This collaboration with Tilda Swinton captures the English actress’s idea of home, with cosy and comforting notes of ginger, immortelle, pumpkin, tangerine, vetiver and heliotrope. Created by Mathilde Bijaoui, it won the Fragrance Foundation France Award for Best Niche Fragrance in 2011.

Niche Fragrances - Etat Libre d'Orange Like this

L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea For Two EDT (2000)

One of the best tea fragrances around. It conjures up spicy-aromatic intimacy with notes of tea, tobacco, cinnamon, honey, ginger, star anise, gingerbread and vanilla. This treat from L’Artisan Parfumeur, one of the pioneers of niche fragrances since the 1970s, was created by Olivia Giacobetti. This nose also created Diptyque Philosykos, Frédéric Malle en Passant, Hermès Hiris and several other L’Artisan Parfumeur beauties. This is a vintage bottle below. So if you’re looking for Tea For Tea, it’s to be found in the company’s newish grey bottles.

Atelier Cologne Vetiver Fatal (2012)

Founded in 2009, this Paris-based company has made its mark in the niche fragrances industry with its cologne absolues. These cologne absolues combine the traditional citrus character of eau de colognes with longer-lasting natural materials. I am a big fan of vetiver fragrances and Atelier Cologne Vetiver Fatal is a gentler interpretation of the usually earthy theme. It features notes of Calabrian bergamot, Sicilian lemon, Tunisian orange blossom absolue, fig, Grasse violet leaves and Texan cedarwood. A super-fresh summer in a bottle!

Niche Fragrances - Atelier Cologne Vetiver Fatal

 

Private Fragrance Collections: Worth Every Scent

Private Fragrance Collections

Designer brands have dominated the fragrance market for the last few decades with a succession of blockbusters. But the problem with massive commercial success is that it often creates a relentless cycle of crowd-pleasing smell-a-likes. And the art of perfumery, a luxury in itself, is compromised by a focus on rapid merchandise-shifting.

Private Fragrance Collections

This is not to say that designer fragrances are on their way out. Far from it. But that the big-name fashion brands have realised that while their best-sellers have made the idea of luxury seemingly accessible to the masses, they may have compromised on quality and their heritage in the process. Of course, they would not put it so bluntly.

Private Fragrance Collections

THE PRICE OF SUCCESS: Has your favourite designer fragrance become a victim of its own success?

With the shift to niche fragrances, designer-brand private fragrance collections offer increasingly savvy and discerning consumers the experience of exclusivity, quality and service – at a price.

This is reflected in:

  • The packaging – solid glass bottles and ornate boxes speak the language of style, substance and brand story.
  • The quality and concentration of the juice – only the best ingredients and EDPs please.
  • The below-the-radar marketing – after all, not everyone should know about these fragrances.
Private Fragrance Collections

TOP(S) OF THE RANGE: Dolce & Gabbana, Bulgari and Yves Saint Laurent.

La Collection Privée Christian Dior, Les Exclusifs de Chanel, Herrera Confidential, Ermenegildo Zegna Essenze and Mugler Les Exceptions are just some of the private fragrance collections you’ll now find in select upmarket retailers. And, of course, then there’s Mr Tom Ford, whose Private Blends have become a perfume phenomenon.

The big question: Do these private fragrance collections offer value for money? That’s a purchasing decision you will have to make, depending on how you cost your perfume pleasure. For myself, I have sometimes found better value further down the chain when comparing some of the private fragrance collections with their more widely available scent siblings. But then there are the truly exceptional stand-outs in private fragrance collections that are worth every cent.

“The big question: Do these private fragrance collections offer value for money?”

ARMANI PRIVE

Launched in 2004, Armani Prive was one of the first private fragrance collections. Originally created for his own personal pleasure and those of his closest friends, it set the standard for others to follow. Armani Prive Vetiver Babylone and Armani Prive Ambre Soie are highly rated classics of the genre. The Italian maestro also spotted the lucrative Middle Eastern market before it became de rigueur. With its emphasis on exotic and heavier ingredients, the Armani Prive La Collection Des Mille Et Une Nuits was launched in 2010.

Private Fragrance Collections: Armani Prive Cuir Amethyste

Fragroom’s Choice: I have not been able to keep up with all the launches, but Armani Prive Cuir Amethyste is a superb interpretation of leather. Its notes of bergamot, rose, violet, birch, patchouli, benzoin, vanilla and bourbon create the best kind of luxurious indulgence.

Armani Prive EDPs, from R2 550 to R3 520 for 100ml, Giorgio Armani Sandton City and V&A Waterfront, Luminance. 

Private Fragrance Collections: Armani Prive Cuir Amethyste

DOLCE & GABBANA VELVET COLLECTION

I will leave it to Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana to sum up their contribution to private fragrance collections. “We have put our memories and our roots into the Velvet Fragrance Collection, which have the same vibrant, hedonistic heart as Sicily and Italy. With each one, we invite you into our world,” they say. Originally launched in 2011, the sensual range now features 17 fragrances. These include Velvet Vetiver, Velvet Tender Oud and Velvet Exotic Leather.

Private Fragrance Collections: Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Cypress

Fragroom’s Choice: One of this year’s launches, Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Cypress, hits the woody-aromatic spot. It’s fresh and crisp, with notes of cypress, bergamot, lemon, galbanum and clary sage absolute. A surprisingly reserved D&G fragrance.

Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Collection EDPs, R3 505 for 50ml and R5 050 for 150ml, Edgars Sandton City, V&A Waterfront, Gateway, Clearwater and Rosebank.

Private Fragrance Collections: Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Cypress

BOSS THE COLLECTION

Thanks to the juggernaut of its more commercial fragrances, there are certain perceptions of Boss fragrances. That changed when I was first introduced to Boss The Collection about two years ago. It includes six EDPs: Wool Musk, Cotton Verbena, Cashmere Patchouli, Velvet Amber, Damask Oud and Silk Jasmine. Inspired by the key materials used in Boss’s sharp suits, the fragrances in the collection have very simple note structures. Although primarily aimed at men, women will also love the fragrances in this complete collection. Launched in 2011, it’s one of the best and most surprising private fragrance collections I have come across.

Private Fragrance Collections: Boss The Collection Velvet Amber

Fragroom’s Choice: Boss The Collection Velvet Amber, with notes of amber, vanilla and resin. The result is an eminently wearable composition that feels warm, cosy and tailor-made.

Boss The Collection EDPs, R3 050 for 50ml, Edgars Sandton City, V&A Waterfront, Gateway, Clearwater and Rosebank.

Private Fragrance Collections: Boss The Collection Velvet Amber

YVES SAINT LAURENT LE VESTIAIRE DES PARFUMS

The grand name says it all. Inspired by the classics from YSL’s venerable fashion history, Le Vestiaire (le French for “wardrobe”) is a luxury perfume wardrobe. Launched in 2015, the collection includes Caban, Caftan, Tuxedo, Saharienne and Trench. It was recently expanded with the Oriental and De Nuit collections.

Private Fragrance Collections: Yves Saint Laurent Le Vestiaire Trench

Fragroom’s Choice: All of the fragrances in the launch collection are très chic. But the woody-citrus Yves Saint Laurent Le Vestiaire Trench, created by Amandine Clerc-Marie, is the one to sniff out. Tangerine, bergamot, neroli and cedar feature in the notes structure, but it’s the iris that takes prominence in this beauty.

Yves Saint Laurent Le Vestiaire des Parfums, R3 500 for 125ml, YSL Boutique Sandton City.

Private Fragrance Collections: Yves Saint Laurent Le Vestiaire Trench

BULGARI LE GEMME

Tapping into its luxe jewellery heritage, the Le Gemme collection takes inspiration from precious gems. Bulgari Le Gemme launched in 2014 with six fragrances for women. All with suitably exotic names and, some might say, over-the-top packaging. Amarena, Ashlemah, Calaluna, Lilaia, Maravilla and Noorah were created by Daniela Roche Andrier. Men were given the luxury treatment with the launch of their own Bulgari Le Gemme collection in 2016. Master perfumer Jacques Cavallier created all of these men’s fragrances. So you know Bulgari is taking private fragrance collections very seriously.

Private Fragrance Collections: Bulgari Le Gemme Amarena

Fragroom’s Choice: I have not been able to sample all of the above fragrances. But Bulgari Le Gemme Amarena is a gorgeous hit of cherry, rose, tuberose, pomegranate and powdery notes.

Bulgari Le Gemme, R2 245 for 30ml and R4 485 for 100ml, Edgars Sandton City and Edgars Mall of Africa.

Private Fragrance Collections: Bulgari Le Gemme Amarena

Beauty In The Strangest Of Places

Beauty - Jasmine.

Firstly, credit where it’s due, plus an apology if I am bastardising its original meaning. The title of this blog post is a paraphrasing of a quote about beauty from designer Alexander McQueen.

“Beauty can come from the strangest of places, even the most disgusting of places. It’s the ugly things I notice more, because other people tend to ignore the ugly things.”

It comes from the book Savage Beauty by Andrew Bolton (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). I did not get to see the retrospective show of McQueen’s creations. However, I do get intense, visceral pleasure paging through this book, which highlights the Scottish designer’s maverick approach.

Beauty - Savage Beauty.

SHOW AND TELL: An image from the book Savage Beauty.

Perhaps it’s the fact that I have not had a proper holiday for years (workaholic, moi?) and I am yearning for some travel / escape / change of scenery / passport-stamping.

The good news is that I have a family road-trip coming up in mid-August. In the meantime, I explore the idea of beauty as a tonic. These are just some of the things in my immediate vicinity that do the trick.

LIME LIGHT

Can a leaf lift your spirits? Oh yes, if it’s a lime leaf. I get a kick from rubbing lime leaves between my fingers. This releases a fresh, crisp, citrus scent that never fails to captivate me. And the lime itself calls for a mojito.

Beauty - Lime Leaves.

VITAMIN SEA

While the Amalfi vacation will have to wait, Tom Ford Sole di Positano will do for now. There’s a veritable citrus and floral cocktail in this EDP, including notes of Calabrian bergamot, bitter orange, lemon, shiso leaf, orange blossom, ylang-ylang, jasmine, lily of the valley and neroli. Alas, on my skin, it dissipates very quickly. A case of fleeting beauty…

Beauty - Tom Ford Sole di Positano.

INDIAN SUMMER

We are having a very warm winter here in Johannesburg, with day-time temperatures averaging above 20ºC. As a result, the jasmine is out even earlier than usual. I am not complaining. Its rich scent is my imaginary olfactory ticket to an Indian summer.

Beauty - Jasmine.

VINTAGE VIEW

There’s something very re-assuring about a vintage treasure. I adore this kit, a gift from my sister. The leather case contains two functional glass bottles and glass containers. There’s no company or brand name on it, so I can’t trace its origins. And, you know what, it doesn’t matter.

Beauty - Vintage.