Last fall, when menswear designer Tom Ford turned out his third fragrance for men, it was worth the wait.
The former designer for Gucci and Yves St. Laurent introduced his first scents - the seductive Black Orchid for women and the mysterious, debonair Tom Ford for Men - in 2006. He followed in 2008 with the floral, hauntingly elegant White Patchouli for women and the amped-up Tom Ford for Men Extreme. He also cam up with a collection of Private Blend scents for his business partner, Estee Lauder.
The first two men’s colognes were pretty good. But Grey Vetiver, launched in 2009, became his most ambitious men’s effort to date. The eau de parfum is a departure from the predictable yet not altogether unfamiliar, combining exotic woods, spices and herbs with hints of grapefruit and orange flower on a base of oakmoss and fresh vetiver. It’s passionate and provocative, charismatic and refined - sort of an olfactory version of Mikhail Baryshnikov or Laurence Fishburne or Enrique Iglesias.
If you’re a man of discriminating taste and understated elegance, this one’s for you. You can get it at higher-end retailers or at a discount at Fragrancenet.com.
Thanks to so-called reality TV shows, all many people will ever know about Madagascar is the hissing cockroaches.
But the Indian Ocean island off the southeastern coast of Africa is where rare vanilla orchid blossoms were harvested at daybreak for use in Jo Malone’s newest fragrance, Vanilla & Anise.
Research tells us that vanilla, one of the most versatile natural ingredients in fragrance-making, is a scent equally appealing to men and women. It forms the heart and base of this new cologne in combination with star anise, a spice that sort of sparkles.
Notes of bergamot, neroli and frangipani keep the cologne somewhat light while white amber, tuberose, vetiver bourbon, vanilla bourbon absolute and Madagascar clove counterbalance with an exotic warmth in the drydown.
Like every other Jo Malone scent, it can be combined with other colognes in the line for different effect. It becomes even more lively and uplifting combined with Grapefruit, more feminine and elegant when worn with Orange Blossom, and more sultry in tandem with the cedary nutmeg aroma of Vetyver.
Vanilla & Anise is $55 for one ounce and $100 for 3.4 ounces at Bergdorf Goodman, select Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue stores, and at jomalone.com.
A new fragrance launch by Creed is to the beauty industry what the launch of a space shuttle is to aeronautics.
So, the introduction this month of Acqua Fiorentina was enough to bring David Beckham out personally to Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills, where the international soccer sensation was seen purchasing the new fruity-floral fragrance for his famously fashion-forward wife, Victoria.
Acqua Fiorentina was inspired by 15th century Florence, with ingredients harvested from orchards and farms around the renowned Italian city. The scent opens with a rare top note of lightly sweet greengage plum and middle notes of pink carnations, bergamot, Calabrian lemon and Renaissance roses. With the infusion of a final accord of Virginia cedar and Indian sandalwood, it dries down to a lovely, luminous aroma that evokes culture and
It’s $130 to $350 at Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and both stores’ Web sites. A portion of proceeds from U.S. sales in October will benefit the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund.
By the way - Mr. Beckham also reportedly did a little buying for himself, leaving the store with Creed’s Tabarome, Original Santal and Silver Mountain Water.
Seven years ago during New York Fashion Week, Donna Karan invited me to her showroom on Manhattan’s Upper East Side for the unveiling of her newest scent, Black Cashmere. As I settled into a comfortable chair, two lovely young women described the fragrance as they massaged my hands with the scented lotion. I couldn’t discern whether the warm, sensual, Oriental aroma - housed in a flacon shaped like a smooth black stone - was for men or women. I was told that it was blended so that anyone could wear it. Given the buying habits of the American consumer, it was no surprise that women would be targeted in advertising and promotion. I still have some of the eau de parfum and body wash they gave me that September day. I use them rarely and sparingly, and receive compliments each time I do. It’s hard to believe that the prodicts have lost none of their original quality. But then again, that should be the nature of any scent worth its salt.
Van Cleef & Arpels opened its first boutique at Place Vendome in 1906.and eventually became known the world over for exquisite baubles. Now, the legendary French jewelry design house is becoming just as well known for luxurious personal fragrances housed in breathtaking, jewelry-inspired flacons.
The prestige brand’s newest olfactory offering is Feerie Ondine, a sequel to last year’s glamorous and mysterious Feerie. While Feerie was inspired by Tatiana, a mischievous fairy, the new eau de toilette is a sparkling, graceful ode to the more delicate fairy for which it is named. (They know fairies don’t exist — just play along.)
Feerie Ondine is classified as a luminous green floral because of its fresh, light formulation. It opens with hints of violet leaves, Italian lemon and raspberry before mellowing slightly with parma violets, rose absolute and jasmine and then drying down with the soft and sensual interplay of musk, benzoin and sandalwood. It’s rich and refined without being stuffy and overwrought. Get it starting at $85 at Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and Van Cleef & Arpels boutiques.
Every now and then, a fragrance comes along that rides a tidal wave in a sea of mediocrity. It’s an even rarer occurrence among men’s scents, as most tend to smell alike and never really break new ground. In 2006, Hermes launched Terre d’Hermes, one of the most sophisticated and sexiest men’s scents of the last 25 years. Three years later, it remains one of the least-worn and most under-appreciated - until someone catches a whiff. Terre is French for “earth,” and the scent has a raw, elemental earthiness with notes of pepper, flint, Atlas cedar and vetiver. But it takes a light, smooth and sensual twist with hints of grapefruit, orange, geranium and bay rose. If the scent were a man, it would be George Clooney or Blair Underwood - elegant, confident and effortlessly cool. And if, as Coco Chanel once said, fragrance is “the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory,” then Terre d’Hermes proves it. Click on the photo to buy the prestige eau de toilette at a discount.
Hundreds of new fragrances are launched each year in the United States alone. Invariably, some superb scents get lost in the retail shuffle, becoming known to and treasured by only a few. Hanae Mori Haute Couture is one of them. Like the senior stateswoman of Japanese fashion designers whose name it bears (say “honna-ay moray”), the perfume debuted in 2003 yet remains a mystery to the American masses. It’s a sultry and sophisticated blend of more than 50 ingredients, defying easy classification with a masterful blend of notes ranging from coriander and tangerine to musk and just enough floral aldehyde to fuel the scent’s lasting power. Hanae Mori Haute Couture, encased in a bottle with a butterfly-shaped cap, will have a woman receiving compliments every time she wears it. Click on the picture to get it at a discount.
Perfume companies launch a new crop of colognes every spring and summer, fragrances that are necessarily lighter because heat has a way of amplifying aroma. While scent is never out of season, sometimes you want more subtlety. You’d rather rub it on than spray or splash. Enter body butters, soufflés and creams. The best of these hydrate and nourish skin while providing the circulation-stimulating benefits of massage application. But their increasing popularity in recent years may also be due to their pleasing, sometimes decadent, aromas. Here are five of our favorites, some of them award-winners and others well kept secrets - until now. Click on any image for more info or to buy that product.
Oceans is Nautica’s most inspired and sophisticated scent to date. The energetic, eco-friendly fragrance is water-based - a true aquatic - and biodegradable. Its patent-pending formula combines notes of brisk ocean air, lemon tonic, sea salt rose, lavender reef, teakwood, amber crystals and a pleasantly unusual “regatta accord” inspired by the energy aboard a racing yacht. Despite its tech-sounding formulation, Oceans is fresh, original and organically masculine. And it starts at a mere $49 for 1.7 ounces. Click on the photo to learn more about and buy the eau de toilette and related products, and to enter a sweepstakes with weekly and monthly prize drawings through June 8. You can also get Nautica Oceans online at Perfume Worldwide.
Aside from costume, it can be difficult to find clothing that makes you feel regal and spiritual at the same time. It’s even harder to find a fragrance that generates the same aura. That’s what makes Creed’s Original Santal such a rare and alluring scent. Formulated by hand for both men and women by sixth-generation master perfumer Olivier Creed, the scent was inspired by Asian aromas. Every note was found in India, from roses, orange tree leaves, lavender and coriander to cinnamon, ginger, vanilla and sandalwood. And because of Creed’s rare infusion method and unusually high concentration of oils, the scent lasts all day. A sublimely opulent masterpiece from the legendary 249-year-old fragrance powerhouse, Original Santal is available at PerfumeWorldwide and elsewhere. On another note (pun intended), the brand has been shipping free soaps, deodorants and other Creed products to U.S. troops in Iraq for several year. Army Lt. Eric Rogers sent the company a note of thanks in March, saying: “There isn’t much to look forward to on a daily basis, but a product from Creed makes all the difference.”