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.

The South African Beauty Connection

South African Beauty Connection - Boss The Scent Intense

Some people collect cars, watches, handbags and art. My fragrance and vintage glass fetish aside, I can’t resist collecting ideas for a theme. As a Johannesburg-based blogger, this theme started out with a focus on top South African beauty/grooming products. It gradually morphed into something more fluid and fascinating the more research I did. I am hoping this round-up – the South African beauty connection – will intrigue and inform you too. Please let me know if I have left anything off this admittedly edited list.

The South African Beauty Connection

Olay 

Graham Wulff’s anti-ageing product has come a long way from its origins in the 1950s. The Durban-based, ex-Unilever chemist created Oil of Olay Beauty Fluid, using lanolin as one of its main ingredients. Such was its popularity that it found its place on vanity chests worldwide, back in the days when our mothers sat and groomed themselves.

“Olay found its place on vanity chests worldwide, back in the days when our mothers sat and groomed themselves.”

Fast-forward through changes in ownership, a change of name to Olay in 1999 and the brand is now one of American giant Procter & Gamble’s billion-dollar businesses. Mum’s little helper now includes everything from body and eye products to cleansers and moisturisers.

South African Beauty Connection - Olay

Maninka Fruit

I’d never heard of the maninka fruit before Boss The Scent was launched in 2015. I was reminded about this fruit, the heart of the fragrance, when Boss The Scent Intense was recently launched in South Africa. How could I forget with the wall-to-wall advertising that has accompanied this seduction EDP?

South African Beauty Connection - Maninka Fruit

NOT THE USUAL: Maninka fruit, a key ingredient in Boss The Scent and Boss The Scent Intense. Pic courtesy of P&G Prestige.

Anyway, what counts is that maninka comes from South Africa. And apparently Boss The Scent was the first time it had been used in a fragrance. According to a Basenotes interview with Will Andrews, scientist and senior evaluator at P&G Prestige,  maninka fruit (long used by the locals) was discovered by a team looking for unusual ingredients in the Western Cape’s fynbos region. The fruit itself comes from the Oncoba spinosa tree and was chosen for its “dried fruit” and “strawberries and chocolate” qualities.

South African Beauty Connection - Boss The Scent Intense EDP

While I can’t vouch for maninka’s supposed aphrodisiac qualities, I do appreciate a good back-story. The Scent itself? Maninka has been pumped to the max in Boss The Scent Intense. Leather, ginger, vanilla, lavender and cardamom notes all do their best to lend their notice-me-baby support.

Bio-Oil

German-born chemist, South-Africa-based Dieter Beier launched Bio-Oil in 1987. Little did he know that his cult product would become an international best-seller. Bio-Oil’s new owners, Justin and David Letschert, re-branded Beier’s dry-skin product as a treatment for scars, stretch marks and uneven skin tone in the early 2000s.

South African Beauty Connection - Bio-Oil

Their big investment in marketing and international distribution has paid handsome dividends. The product is a skincare success across the globe. Bio-Oil celebrates 30 years in the beauty biz in September 2017, with new and sleeker packaging. But the formulation – PurCellin oil, vitamins A and E, calendula, rosemary, lavender and camomile oils – remains the same. Proof than even in our high-tech-obsessed world, you can’t beat simplicity.

“Even in our high-tech-obsessed world, you can’t beat simplicity.”

Mark Eisen

What do Dunhill Icon, Montblanc Emblem, Montblanc Lady Emblem and Shanghai Tang have in common? Their flacons (“bottle” sounds too common for these visual beauties) were designed by South Africa’s Mark Eisen.

South African Beauty Connection - Mark Eisen For Montblanc Lady Emblem

MARKSMANSHIP: Mark Eisen’s design for Montblanc Lady Emblem.

The Capetonian had a successful international career as a fashion designer from the late 1980s. He then turned his talents to industrial design, in particular fragrance bottle and wine bottle design.

I shamelessly used the South African connection to attempt to wangle an interview with Mr Eisen for this post, but he politely declined. So I will let his South African Beauty Connection - Mark Eisen flacon design work for Richemont’s luxury fragrance brands speak for itself.

(While I am on the South African beauty connection thing, Dunhill, Montblanc and Shanghai Tang are just some of the luxury brands owned by Richemont, the company founded by South Africa’s Rupert family.)

Exhibit A: Eisen’s cylindrical bottle, metal-encased design for Dunhill Icon. A powerfully functional and stylish statement for this scent that’s sure to become a modern classic. Dunhill Icon bagged the prestigious Fragrance Foundation Award for Best New Male Design & Packaging in 2016.

South African Beauty Connection - Mark Eisen For Dunhill Icon

Pelargoniums

Better known as South African/African geraniums, pelargoniums are mostly indigenous to South Africa. They are from the same family as geraniums but they are, in fact, very different plants. The scented varieties are an important part of the perfumer’s toolkit.

South African Beauty Connection - Pelargoniums

PERFUMER’S TOOLKIT: Pelargoniums are found in a variety of fragrances. Pic courtesy of www.perfect-pelargoniums.com.

I asked Cape Town-based natural perfumer Agata Karolina (House of Gozdawa) for some info on scented pelargoniums. This is what she had to say: “Pelargoniums are commercially farmed, but still in small amounts at this time. We source our pelargonium oil in the Western Cape from farmers we work closely with developing their crops especially for oil harvest. They hold all of the knowledge about the plants and their best conditions for growth. I bring my nose and knowledge of scent combination and complementary attributes of each plant’s characters.

South African Beauty Connection - Pelargoniums

PELARGONIUM PARFUM: House of Gozdawa Marta contains pelargonium oil.

“Pelargonium is less ‘rosy’ and has a far more green character to its scent. It smells like freshly cut lemongrass, lemon flesh, boiled candy sweets, rose leaves and earth.”

I spotted South African geranium as a key ingredient in Atelier Cologne Sanguine Orange. Superbly summery and uplifting, it’s the debut fragrance from the Paris-based niche fragrance company.

South African Beauty Connection - Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine

Perfluorodecalin

I was a dismal chemistry pupil, so I will keep this one as reader-friendly as possible. South African company Pelchem is the only Southern Hemisphere producer of perfluorodecalin, an active ingredient found in a wide variety of anti-ageing products.

South African Beauty Connection - Perfluorodecalin

ANTI-AGEING ACTIVE: A 3-D representation of the chemical compound perfluorodecalin. Pic courtesy of Wikipedia.

An article in the Pharmaceutical & Cosmetic Review yielded more insights. “The active ingredient is a fluorocarbon and derivative of decalin, which is used in cosmetics formulations to dissolve and deliver oxygen to the skin. Due to the ability of perfluorodecalin to dissolve oxygen and other gases, it revitalises skin and reduces wrinkles…” I love a good success story, so I’ll wave my small South African flag in recognition of Pelchem’s innovative and patented work.

PS: I have not included South Africa-born Etienne de Swardt, the founder of niche fragrance company Etat Libre d’Orange, in this round-up. You can read my interview with the maverick here: http://fragroom.com/2017/04/20/etat-libre-doranges-etienne-de-swardt/