The real steal: Two fragrances that belie their price tags!

Posted by Lipglossiping On October - 22 - 2014

If you always struggle to buy the man who has everything, something… then I might be able to help you out.

Whether it’s a partner, a brother, a son, or a father… there’s always one fella in the family who leaves you scratching your head when it comes to accommodating him in your annual Christmas shop.  You may not think that fragrance is the most original gift choice in the world but if you get it right… you’re on to a bonafide winner.

Over the years, I’ve managed to grind down Mr. L’s resolve to the point where he is finally, a fully-fledged fragrance fiend.  His tastes vary but he’s not too particular… if it smells great, offers long-lasting wear and isn’t too extreme, he appreciates a well-crafted scent whatever the notes.

I’ve picked out two from his collection that I think would appeal to most men on your gift lists… and perhaps even more excitingly, you can pick them up for less than £16 each!  Yes, I’m talking about some of my favourite kind of fragrances, those mainstream buys that slip under the radar, punching well above their weight!

budget men's fragrances christmas 2014

The Dad/Husband Choice: Pour Homme – Van Cleef & Arpels (from £12.15 – link)

Of the two fragrances that I’ve selected as “great buys”, this is the one that would be better suited to an older gentleman.  It has a 70s vibe that might not appeal to the younger, Paco Rabanne 1 Million-wearing crowd.  It was revealed by VC&A a couple of years ago, that Pour Homme was one of Serge Gainsbourg’s favourite scents and if you know me, you won’t be surprised that this fact alone made me RUN for the nearest stockist.

Pour Homme opens with a vintage blast of green, a combination of aromatics that include basil, juniper, and bergamot.  It’s a pungent beginning, herbaceous and dated – though depending on your personal tastes, that last adjective is not meant as a criticism – merely a caution.

The heavyweight bottle hints at the darkness of the juice inside, I like to imagine the contents swirling around in there like some kind of twilight-zone vortex because I do believe that the dark arts were afoot during its creation.  I simply cannot envision how it is possible to blend so many different discernible notes without creating a complete hash of a fragrance.  From the freshness to the spiciness, the leather to the wood, the soapiness to the magnificent rose – it’s all in there, managed like a military operation.

Though I have mentioned the Serge Gainsbourg connection, I find it quite hard to associate the two personalities, myself.  Pour Homme is the epitome of a formal fragrance, it’s perfectly styled to sit beautifully against the backdrop of a dark suit, buttoned up to the hilt.  I can only amalgamate the personalities by unbuttoning that collar a few inches and adding 20 Gitanes into the mix.  Ahh yes, there you go.

As the fragrance dries down on my skin, the soft rose notes blossom into a bouquet against a somewhat-soapy backdrop… on my husband’s skin the rose whips against leather and patchouli, darkening the shadows further and stretching them into a bygone age.  The projection and longevity is equal to nothing else in his collection of fragrance, it can only be described in a cliche, as a powerhouse.  I can still smell this on my husband’s collar when doing the laundry, days later.

Talk about getting some serious bang for your buck.  Oui, Je T’aime.

van cleef pour homme 24 gold

The Son/Boyfriend Choice: 24 Gold Eau de Toilette (from £15.00 – link)

If you can get past having Twentieth Century Fox logos emblazoned across the outer packaging, you’d be extremely wise to give this one a chance.  24 Gold is indeed a spin-off fragrance, paying homage to TV’s Jack Bauer.  On paper… it’s about as gimmicky as they come, Mr L’s bottle even arrived with a 24-emblazoned ipod armband… presumably so he can listen to his favourite tunes while taking down the world’s baddest baddies.  Frankly, it should be shit.  But it isn’t, it’s about as far away from shit as you can get, it’s amazing.

24 Gold has an alltogether younger feel than Pour Homme, with gourmand chocolate box qualities and a boozy heart of amber.  From the off, it delivers up a beautiful and striking blend of powerful oud and vanilla – remaining forever sweet and better suited to the cooler weather.  It’s an atomic blast of a fragrance, lasting for hours and hours on both mine and Mr. L’s skin, projecting itself into a room long after we’ve left its walled confines.

24 Gold describes itself as a unisex fragrance, and I agree… it has some feminine qualities and a sweet oriental heaviness that would undoubtedly frighten off most Davidoff Cool Water-loving men, so do have a precursory sniff at some of the other scents in your intended target’s collection before jumping in with a blind buy.  Certainly, if most of his collection is light and airy… steer well clear, 24 Gold is decadent, rich, and very, very dense.

If you think you might have the green light on a bolder choice of fragrance, 24 Gold genuinely wouldn’t be wildly out of place in a designer’s private blends collection – exclusively available to only the world’s most revered department stores.  In conclusion, it belies its frankly ridiculous price tag.

Taken at face value, it would be easily forgivable to overlook this one in your local perfume store’s bargain bin.  But do so at your peril!

 

These two fragrances prove that it’s simply not necessary to drop £££ to find an incredible fragrance and although fragrance buying is a very personal experience, I believe you’ll be hard-pushed to find better quality for the money this Christmas.

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For the man who has everything…

Posted by Lipglossiping On June - 19 - 2012

Do you remember the times when men used to stick “go faster” stripes on their cars in an attempt to make them look less like Ford Cortinas and more like racing super-engines?  Those were the (halcyon) days: no seatbelts (more fatalities), no power steering (more achy arms), and no moulded bumpers (remember when the metal ones used to fall off?!)

So, what happened?  Well… technology inevitably improved and manufacturers kept up with the times.  Men, on the other hand?  They still love a Ferrari key fob to complement their Honda Civic, and if you look closely, the stripes have just been replaced by LED running lights, the flashiest of alloys, and a stainless steel gearstick knob.

But what if your fella takes the bus to work on a Monday morning?  What if he can’t just jump in his S-Class (with its top speed of 155mph), cruising down the motorway trying to avoid the lure of Starbucks at each service station he passes.  What about him huh?  Spare a thought.

Or maybe spare a few pennies instead and indulge his taste for all things automotive with the latest fragrance from Mercedes-Benz.

The company’s first foray into the world of fragrance promises a fresh, yet refined olfactory experience combining: bergamot and mandarin with a heart of violet, an aquatic freshness from the cascalone molecule (think GA’s Acqua di Gio) with spices including bourbon pepper, nutmeg and galbanum, before descending into the tried-and-tested woody base note mix.

This isn’t a review, I haven’t sniffed at the bottle…. consider this a friendly heads up.  For the man who has everything.  Except a driving license.

Available exclusively at Harrods, priced from £48 for 75ml

Men of the World. Y U No Smell This Good?

Posted by Lipglossiping On February - 14 - 2012

We all have definite ideas about the scents we like to surround ourselves with — be it the washing powder we use to clean our undies; the candles we light when we step through the door after work; or the bath oils we pour under a hot running tap at the end of the night.  When was the last time you chose a new shampoo in the supermarket before flipping up the lid and inhaling a quick whiff to make sure you shared the product’s olfactory persuasions?

But what about the people we share our lives with?  What control do we have over how they smell?!

It’s taken a long time to gently steer my husband away from the Umbro Aftershave of his early twenties and onto scents which don’t make me want to check behind his ears for dirt.  I sound like a fragrance nazi right?  I’m not… it’s not that he resisted either, he just didn’t have an opinion either way.  Over the past couple of years, he’s developed a greater understanding and passion for fragrance — and thankfully, we do share quite similar tastes — something which comes in very handy for sharing the cost of those more extravagant fragrance purchases.

On this day, St. Valentine’s Day — I thought I’d hand the reins over to my brilliant husband, who has picked out the fragrances from his collection that make us both swoon when he wears them.

YSL – M7 Oud Absolu | Molton Brown NTS – Rogart | Parfum d’Empire – Ambre Russe | Oscar de la Renta – Oscar for Men | Floris – Santal

I’m still an awful fragrance reviewer, I just don’t have enough words swirling around in my puny brain to conjure up enough ways to say “if this fragrance were a doughnut, you’d consume four of them in one sitting”.  Although, I’ll never get better if I don’t try, so – in our own bumbled together manner… (at least I’ve got someone else to blame)

Yves Saint Laurent: M7 Oud Absolu (£58.00) *

As part of the reworked YSL Heritage Collection which celebrates half a century of expert perfume creation, the brand have released a reworked version of M7 which first came to the public nose in 2002 under the direction of one Mr. Tom Ford.  From such an agent provocateur, you’d expect to experience something special and you won’t be disappointed with this fragrance, which despite the reformulation is described as the climax of male sexuality1.  M7 is a deeply smoky scent with notes of myrrh, french labdanum, patchouli and a resonating woody, almost leathery oud accord.  There’s a medicinal hint that lingers through the dry-down which we both find comforting.  It’s not sharp but resinous and syrupy, like a cough drop.  M7 is a fragrance for the night, of the night.  If Serge Gainsbourg were to walk in behind me right now, this is the smell I’d catch (and hold onto) as he passed.  An intensely sexy, dark scent.

1 yslbeauty.co.uk

 Molton Brown Navigations Through Scent: Rogart (£60.00)

If you prefer to scent your senses with a touch of the gourmand, you may be interested in Rogart’s unusual but profoundly delicious note more usually found on your pancakes than in your perfume: maple syrup.  The tasty fragrance from Jennifer Jambon opens with a bracing blend of juniper berries and fir balsam which gives it that ‘great outdoors’ feel and indeed it should, as it draws its inspiration from the Cobequid Mountains of Canada.  All this freshness contrasts wonderfully as it warms on the skin and develops a hint of campfire, resinous wood and that sweet, mouthwatering maple.  Jointly, we’ve purchased nearly all of the releases in the Navigations Through Scent collection but Rogart firmly remains my husband’s favourite.

Parfum d’Empire: Ambre Russe (£84.50)

Not sure we’ll ever fall out of love with the majestic, imperial notes contained within Parfum d’Empire’s exquisite nod to Tsarist Russia.  It’s all here: vodka, champagne, tea, leather, amber and incense.  It’s like the party you know will conclude with most of its guests going home in a meat wagon before sunrise.  It’s raucously obnoxious and it knows it.  It wants you to know it too and you can’t help but admire Ambre Russe for it’s audacity to even exist.  It manages to be simultaneously effervescent (that’ll be the champagne hic!) and creamy, with the boozy amber trumping all else.  If you like dark, oriental fragrances, consider this a contender for the big daddy – shy, delicate noses need not apply.

Oscar de la Renta: Oscar for Men (£45.00)

We fought a little over the inclusion of this… I wanted to place Bvlgari Black above this one but Mr. L triumphed by making me a cup of tea and pointing out that, for once, he was entitled to call first dibs.  Oscar de la Renta’s Oscar for Men can be picked up online for as little as £17.00, which admittedly, ups the desirability stakes.  It’s a far sharper, more summery scent than the ones we’ve so far included – the top notes of bergamot, mandarin, and black pepper ensure that it prickles a little with a zestiness that makes you stand up and pay attention.  It has a floral heart that tempers the spiciness a little but if you’re a fan of the peppery notes of something like Marc Jacob’s Bang, you should enjoy this equally.  Oscar for Men trails with a suggestion of leather and vanilla which further smoothes the pepper without ever fully quietening it.  A spicy serenade that wears well in warmer months thanks to it’s sparkling opening.

Floris London: Santal (£69.00) *

As is my prerogative, I’m a woman of many contradictions.  Sometimes, I will eschew the feral, growling sensibilities of something like M7 (though never Serge) and want the man in my life to appeal as much to others as he does to me.  Floris Santal is the perfect scent to meet that need with its clean but never soapy existence.  Creamy sandalwood (and good sandalwood at that) gives Santal the most distinguished of edges in the overpopulated woody oriental category.  A hint of spiciness and musk keeps things warm and sensual whilst the crisp bergamot and trickles of lavender promote the balance beautifully and prevent this classic scent from ever feeling generic or old-fashioned.  Longevity is unparalled, displaying the kind of quality one would expect from a traditional British fragrance house like Floris.  I may have started with Serge Gainsbourg, but please… let me end with a young, freshly-shaven Paul Newman.  Rawr.

I’m feeling a tad hot under the collar now!  Happy Valentine’s Day you lovely lot.

Do you lust over leather or go crazy for classic cleanliness?  Do those animalic undertones bring out your wild side or perhaps you simply prefer a good old splash of Brut! 

Tell me, how do you like the men in your life to smell? (note: “of money” isn’t a valid answer!)

* press sample

Davidoff – Champion

Posted by Lipglossiping On September - 22 - 2010

Ohhhh, I dunno… it’s all a bit macho innit… cheesy 90s machismo.

Maybe it’s the bottle, maybe it’s the whole locker room sport scent thing…

They say

[stextbox id=”custom” bcolor=”b0c4de” bgcolor=”e6e6fa”]Davidoff’s latest men’s fragrance Champion will trigger in men a desire to develop the latent potential within them. That deep, fundamental instinct for victory and power. Davidoff Champion is about the daily ritual of taking the time to build physical and mental strength. To become a champion.[/stextbox]

I say

I’m not a snob (well, alright… I am) but it’s a bit mainstream isn’t it?  I hate this just as much as I’d hate a stiletto shaped bottle of scent (there must be one out there?).  I know, I know… look past the packaging… but I’m struggling.

Having said that, I think the packaging will probably tempt just as many men as it puts off… I can see this on the Christmas wish list of many 16yr olds.

As for the scent?

Well… it’s not my favourite and it does border slightly on the generic fresh scent for “manly” men… but… it just about dodges the bullet.

Davidoff Champion has a nice citrusy kick that although never really fades enough to reveal anything beyond this, is almost pleasant enough on it’s own.  Staying power is pretty good too… I just wish it were a bit more complex.  This ain’t gonna beat Marc Jacobs Bang as men’s scent of the season, that’s for certain!

Having said that, I’m strangely addicted to the ad… *shrugs*

Davidoff Champion is available in 50ml & 90ml EDT and priced at £35.50/£43.50 respectively.

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