Bvlgari have been pedaling their eye-popping jewels for almost 130 years, but their first foray into fine fragrance in the early-mid 90's, is relatively recent by comparison. Their debut feminine scent Bvlgari Femme stepped onto the world stage in 1994, and was an instant hit. Since then, it has sparked a number of flanking perfumes, one of which is the very pretty Voile de Jasmin, a limited edition from 2006.
Voile de Jasmin (Jasmine Veil) is every bit as delicate and sheer as it sounds. A floral scent in every sense, Voile de Jasmin has used facets of Bvlgari Femme as its basic building blocks, but has been transformed into something more airy and diaphanous. It opens with sunny mimosa, but the starring role goes to its pretty florets of Jasmine Sambac that the perfume is steeped in. It feels luminous and yet powdery in equal measure. Its appeal perhaps lies in the very fact that it remains weightless and gauzy, but still manages to blanket the skin like an ivory cashmere blanket.
Voile de Jasmin is a beautiful, tender rendering of femininity in all its forms. Unassuming and restrained, it can be worn every day, or relished on special occasions.
Secret Intention – a rarely-seen limited edition release from the revered house of Guerlain, was conjured by Guerlain heir and nose, Jean Paul Guerlain and was launched for a short period in 2001. A radiant floral, Secret Intention shares some DNA with its older Guerlain sibling, Champs-Elysees.
This is a perfume composed from striking citruses whose presence are felt right out of the bottle as bergamot and lemon provide a zesty, tangy flight. Green herbaceous notes of coriander and green tea lend a sense of aromatic subtlety to the opening before a profusion of florals shift to the fore. Jasmine, peony and neroli play an important role in keeping Secret Intention resolutely feminine. The base is composed of sandalwood, vanilla and tonka, and these notes lend a saccharine sweetness, as opposed to a feeling of grounded earthiness.
Secret Intention is bright and brassy and unapologetic. She has above average longevity and projection.
Hugo Boss seem to have cornered the market with their inexpensive masculine scents that have wide mainstream appeal. I've seldom seen a college dorm or high school dressing table without at least one Boss bottle! Hugo Element, launched in 2007, exemplifies the 'fresh, cool and clean' genre that appeals to the teens and twenties of today.
Element was created for the young urban man – a social guy with his friends, his sporting pursuits, his outings and his mobile devices. Composed of aquatic accords and citrus, Element is a go-to eau de toilette for a guy on the move. Crisp ginger, green vetiver and clean musks all add to that 'just-stepped-from-the-shower' vibe.
This fragrance is excellent in summer, or for daily wear when being active. Casual, energizing and fresh.
In an expanding series of unisex 'Collection Jardin' fragrances, Hermes added a fourth scent to their collection in 2011, namely Un Jardin sur le Toit (A Garden on the Roof). The name and perfume itself is a reference to the striking and luxurious garden that can be found on the rooftop of the Hermes flagship store in Paris, at 24 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore.
Perfumer Jean Claude Ellena took a stroll through the garden and wished to capture the odors of abundant green. The rooftop is covered in aromatic herbs, fruits and flowers – many of which have made their way into this sun-drenched scent.
Un Jardin Sur le Toit feels somewhat linear from top to bottom. It has a mouth-watering opening of juicy pear and crisp red apple that can be felt right into the drydown. A scattering of rose and magnolia give rise to a sense of femininity, although the perfume's gender is kept in check with earthier notes of green grass, basil and compost.
This eau de toilette has an uplifting, invigorating quality that serves as the perfect pick-me-up in the warmer months, or when one craves a little sunshine throughout winter. Beautifully composed, and presented in a stunning flacon of graded green, Un Jardin sur le Toit is one to be experienced.
This luxury Italian fashion house founded in 1985, has been in the business of producing perfume since 1992. With a string of successful, iconic releases to their credit, Dolce & Gabbana bound back in 2008 with a masculine fragrance to match its feminine counterpart launched just 2 years earlier. The One for Men is a runaway success and a tip of the hat to devout masculinity.
A woody spicy scent, The One is presented in a weighty glass flacon with broad, square shoulders... its composition something of a breakaway from the masculines previously presented in the D&G portfolio. The opening of basil, coriander and grapefruit is herbaceous and aromatic, but almost instantly, one senses a delicious ambery warmth rising from beneath. Spicy cardamom, vegetal amber, cedar and dried tobacco imbue the fragrance with feelings of comfort and familiarity. It is masculine and endearing... something perfect to snuggle up to in the colder months. For those who found beauty in a bottle of Vera Wang Man, well ,The One might just be, um “the one”!
Dolce & Gabbana The One for Men is the first masculine to follow this woody / spicy / oriental trajectory and thus is a standout in their portfolio. It can be worn for all occasions.
46 years after the launch of Hermes' iconic feminine fragrance Caleche, in-house nose Jean-Claude Ellena revisited the Caleche theme in 2007 with the creation of Kelly Caleche... a scent responsible for turning a whole new generation of perfumistas back to this enduring and iconic French brand.
Kelly Caleche is a vivacious and delicate scent, handled with all the panache and expertise expected of Ellena and Hermes. A floral / woody / musky perfume, Kelly Caleche is Ellena's interpretation of a visit to an Hermes leather warehouse... it embodies the smell of the finest leather, blanketed with an abundance of petals.
It opens with pretty blossoms of muguet and narcissus and a twist of grapefruit which lends a brightness to the topnotes. A bushel of husky iris, mimosa, tuberose and rose caress one of the most beautiful leather accords I've smelled... the texture is like that of napped suede, and this aroma lingers long into the trail. Kelly Caleche feels enchanting and sensual.
A definite must for women who long for understated elegance that is completely devoid of fussiness and pretentiousness.
Want to be let in to one of our best kept secrets? Angel Schlesser perfume by Spanish designer Angel Schlesser is a knockout! The author of this scent is none other than in-house Guerlain nose / perfumer Thierry Wasser!
Schlesser's fashion oeuvre celebrates minimalism, which is perhaps best represented with the presentation of this, his first feminine perfume launched in a pristine rectangle of matte white glass. But what it holds is far from uniform and straightforward. Angel Schlesser Femme is a sparkling aldehydic floral that shimmers with rousing bergamot, mandarin and orange blossom... these facets twinkle over radiant jasmine and a deeper aromatic heart of cypress, black currant and cardamom. Red and green pepper lends a huff of zippy warmth which one can detect in the background, and the entire composition is underpinned by cedar, and musk. For a scent with some complexity, there is very little evolution from first spritz to the final whisper on skin – and I suspect that is where Schlesser's signature of purity and minimalism reveals itself.
This scent has definite presence and works incredibly well during (but is not limited to) the warmer months. It has a clean, sharp radiance which never fails to amaze.
Presented in a glass flacon of deep oceanic blue, Issey Miyake's masculine launch of 2004 L'eau Bleue d'Issey Pour Homme is a woody aromatic scent that is an olfactory snapshot of the mediterranean.
An abundant cornucopia of aromatics, herbs, woods and spices, this fragrance defies the “clean marine” qualities he captured in his 1994 woody aquatic offering L'eau d'Issey, and reminds us of the more robust, complex masculines on the market. It opens with bracing lime, orange, mandarin and orangewood which lead into an oily / sappy landscape of rosemary, juniper and cypress. This coniferous heart is rendered even greener with the addition of ginger. One feels a sense of mountainous green hills with broad, sweeping vistas over the blue Agean. A base of cedar, patchouli, sandalwood and oakmoss proffer an earthy quality that is as dense and fragrant as a forest floor littered with leaves. It is perhaps less 'abstract' than some of Miyake's other creations... it feels somewhat literal and exact.
L'eau Bleue d'Issey is a masculine for men who favour fragrances that are earthy and primal. It has above-average persistence and sillage. It is an often-overlooked gem from the Issey Miyake range.
In 2012, Jacques Guerlain's Art Nouveau masterpiece L'Heure Bleue celebrated it's 100th birthday, which I see as testament to the adoration of millions for this timeless scent. Considered one of the classical perfume pillars in Guerlain's vast timeline, L'Heure Bleue (The Blue Hour) is a feminine fragrance full of nostalgia and wistfulness that still casts a big shadow on the perfume world today.
Composed in 1912, Jacques Guerlain wanted to capture a poetic moment at twilight when there is a sense of melancholy in the air... an hommage to the minutes between day and night, when light is dwindling and the sky is painted in hues of dark blue. It is challenging to describe this perfume because it manages to transport the wearer to a different point in time, unleashing thoughts and recollections from the past. However, it captures many aspects of Paris in a bottle... toasty, buttery French pastries, evaporating rain, dusty drawing rooms with wooden panels, wax candles burning in a church... everyone's perception is unique unto themselves. The topnotes are bergamot and aniseed, the heart notes, heliotrope, carnation and neroli, and the basenotes, iris, violet, vanilla, tonka and resins.
L'Heure Bleue feels introverted, haunted, and with a sorrowful pang of yearning. It is unrivaled in its beauty, and indeed a breathtaking example of artistry and genius by the hand of one of the world's most respected and revered perfumers. Try it today.
When launched in the mid 80's Bel Ami was considered the “grand seducer.”.. a scent that felt confident and self-assured, and one that left women swooning in its wake. Classified as a Woody Chypre for men, this scent was created by perfumer Jean-Louis Sieuzac in an era of gratuitous excess... it embodies all the brawn and overt masculine energy common to many mens perfumes released in the 80s, but with the expected Hermes DNA of luxury and finesse.
Straight out of the bottle Bel Ami bowls you over with an infusion of woods and citrus: lemon and mandarin, which are rendered toasty and warm by a punch of fragrant cedar. Herbaceous sage and peppery carnation add depth and intricacy, and a thick ribbon of vanilla and patchouli, a rich earthiness. Mosses and resins flesh out the basenotes and the sum of all these individual facets feels spicy, leathery and sexy. It is a fragrance which is bold, commanding and unrepentant.
Bel Ami feels suave, masculine and unapologetic. Revived in the 2000's and revered as one of Hermes' best masculines to date, I expect Bel Ami will charm and seduce for many years yet.