Lyn Harris is head honcho and the chief driving force behind the London-based perfume house Miller Harris. Lyn completed her studies in Grasse before flinging her company doors open in 2000, and is widely revered for her interesting and unconventional compositions.
Fleurs de Sel (Salt Flowers) is her creation from 2007 which draws its inspiration from the small village called Batz sur Mer in France - and in particular, the flora found growing around the local salt marshes.
From the bottle, one experiences a rush of rich, herbaceous greens… the lavish, botanical aspect is unmistakeable here, but moments later, soft tendrils of iris, narcissus and rose emerge to subdue the cartwheeling greens. A bitter leather facet shifts forward, and suddenly, one gleans a sense of saltiness… an unusual dryness that works incredibly well with the woody, vetiver, mossy base.
Fleurs de Sel is definitely less about flowers, and more about fragrant provincial scrubland with the odour of salt evaporating in the saltpans. It simply gets better and better as it dries - and its resolutely genderless. Both men and women will enjoy this profound, sunny rendering of the Western coast of France.
There MUST be a reason why scents like Tabac Original have withstood the test of time! It seemed in the 70's and 80's that every man and his brother, uncle and son was wearing it… it is testament to its widespread appeal that guys are still reaching for it today!
Produced in the 1950's by Maurer and Wirtz (of '4711' fame), Tabac Originalis resolutely masculine and is proof positive that 'inexpensive' does not have to mean "cheap"! Tabac Original is my guilty pleasure - specifically the Eau de Cologne splash which can be bought for next to nothing, and applied with mad abandon. Its crisp, classic opening of lemon, bergamot and aromatic lavender shimmer over a fragrant heart of carnation, sandalwood, pine needles and soft florals. Each component feels seamlessly incorporated. A trail of musk, moss and vetiver make for a scent which is both casual and smart, and well-suited to all occasions.
Tabac Original is one of those feel-good scents which will likely grace the bathroom counters of many generations to come. Its formula chiefly unchanged for over a half-century, this fragrance is a good example of the classic pillars of perfumery.
Ever the provocateur of fashion and fragrance, Parisian bad boy Jean Paul Gaultier has enlisted perfume superstar Francis Kurkdjian to create a hardcore floral fragrance for men!
The aptly titled "Fleur du Male" is a striking departure for mens perfumery. Generally there are trends towards woody / spicy or aquatic scents for men… but here Gaultier has emerged with both guns blazing as he turns up the flower-power volume to ten! Super-charged orange blossom plays a starring role in this scent - it is up front and centre and ready to take control! There is no delicate, girly flounciness here… Fleur du Male reaffirms itself as a force majeur as its opening accords rush to fill the back of the nose. A punch of aromatic basil lends depth and complexity to the shimmering orange blossoms, and a dark, husky ribbon of caraway presses up from beneath.
There is a slightly indolic, almost urinous quality which I would perhaps most liken to YSL's Kouros, or Molinard Homme II… both scents with a cult-like following.
Often overlooked in favour of his older, perhaps more chaste sibling "Le Male", Fleur du Male is the rambunctious, tattooed, hitch-hiking kid brother with guitar slung over his back. He's handsome, a little bit dangerous, and of course a hit with the ladies!
Released in 2002 under the keen direction of Tom Ford, Gucci Eau de Parfum for women marked an interesting turn in the feminines present in the Gucci perfume portfolio. It was classed as an Oriental Spicy perfume... something that was lacking from the famous fashion House until then.
Gucci eau de parfum is presented in a gloriously heavy flacon that resembles a turn-of-the-century glass inkwell. Its deep brown juice hints at a panoply of dark and exotic accords, and it does not disappoint! This beautiful perfume opens with dense spices and dry woods that prickle in the nose... a rousing blend of caraway, leather, sandalwood and incense which evoke sensations of the soukhs and spice markets of the Near East. A delicate ribbon of vanilla, heliotrope, orange blossom and iris is woven into the tapestry of this fragrance, and lends a glamourous facet to the composition. A lingering trail of musks and dry woods linger for many hours.
Although revered as somewhat of a triumph in the eyes of hardcore perfumistas, Gucci eau de parfum was discontinued a number of years ago. If unconventional, exquisitely-constructed fragrances appeal to you, then get it while you can.
Narciso Rodriguez was on to a winner with his 2004 perfume release “For Her”, which took the world by storm! So in 2007, it was only fair that the Cuban-American fashion designer lured men into the fold with Narciso Rodriguez For Him.
Categorised as an Aromatic Fougere, For Him was a notable departure from the feminine floral / musk release... Rodriguez and nose Francis Kurkdjian referenced the powerhouse fougeres of the 80's whilst composing this. What they achieved was a head-turning masculine which is unrivaled in its uniqueness. For Him is also built around musk – it is the backbone of this perfume to which Kurkdjian has sown green violet leaves and dank, rooty patchouli. If the truth be told, this scent astonishes with its austerity and artistry... the only suggestion of warmth is given by a faint tendril of amber. The overall effect is like heavy clouds swollen with rain, damp, sodden undergrowth, and wet cement... which is not a bad thing! It is somewhat disarming and luxurious, in a uniquely avante garde kind of way.
Men looking for a fragrance that is beyond the norm need look no further. Rodriguez, once again, has triumphed with his keen eye for the unique and individual. For Him lasts many hours on skin, without the need to reapply.
Whilst my thing may be perfume, the undeniable truth is that my wife's thing is shoes. She may shake her head and tut-tut at my growing collection of bottles, but in defiance, all I must do is roll back our wardrobe door. We all have our passions, right? Fortunately for us, shoe-design maestro Jimmy Choo has built a bridge to lessen the divide between us with the launch of a number of perfumes to supplement his eye-popping heels and handbags!
Jimmy Choo Flash is a 2013 release for women which marries opulent florals and lip-smacking fruits in a luminous, exuberant fashion. Pulpy strawberry, sharp tangerine and a scattering of pink peppercorns strut their stuff on the red carpet, whilst dense blossoms of jasmine, lily and tuberose flourish from beneath. Flash feels fun-loving and vivacious... it darts in and out of being reserved and contemplative, and wild and electrifying. Blonde woods and heliotrope provide the foundation upon which this perfume is built. There are even fleeting moments where I find a shared DNA with the likes of Dior's Hypnotic Poison and Hypnotic Poison Eau Sensuelle.
Flash is a perfume for young women who like a bit of razzle-dazzle in their daily lives. It is worn as one might wear Jimmy Choo pumps or a clutch... racing out the door to a party or casual engagement. Flash is a bonafide “good time gal”.
The Balenciaga brand is a company that has existed since 1918. Best known for their fashions and handbags, Balenciaga have a vast back-catalogue of perfumes launched over the decades to stay on-trend with their collections. 2010 saw the launch of their highly successful “Balenciaga Paris” scent, and L'Essence closely followed in 2011.
L'Essence is a floral / green fragrance, which can be easily determined from the soft, verdant hue of the flacon. A captivating perfume for women, L'Essence feels somewhat innocent, but there is a slightly wanton aspect present as well. The scent has a primary focus is on violets and violet leaves... it's opening accords are both green, semi-saccharine and powdery... it hangs like a cashmere-soft mantle around the body. Heart notes of vetiver and leafy greens dance over sultry, earthier facets of patchouli, sandalwood and cedar. This scent strikes a delicate balance between feminine florals and more masculine woods.
Balenciaga L'Essence may be the younger sibling of Balenciaga Paris, but she is less conservative... she's flirtatious and prepossessing.
A scent to be worn with purpose.
For decades now, a debate has raged between the factions as to whether or not it is appropriate to perfume your toddler... but whilst opinions are divided here in the West, the perfuming of children has been commonplace in the East for thousands of years! In the mid-late 20th century, talcum powder was used to scent a child's skin, but nowadays there are many eaux that have been designed specifically with a child's needs in mind. Bvlgari's Petits et Mamans is arguably one of the best.
As the name suggests Petits et Mamans (Little Ones and Mothers) is a fragrance designed to be shared between a mother and child... a lightly scented toilet water that serves to illustrate the bond between the pair. What one recognizes immediately when applying this perfume to skin, is that it has a soft, velvety texture... one that calls to mind napped cotton baby blankets and plush soft toys. Calming notes of tea, chamomile and mandarin lend a semi-transparent quality, whilst a huff of soft iris, rose and peach; a certain olfactory tenderness. Petits et Mamans is powdery and feels at times, almost lactic... it's the hushed, comforting scent of warm milk and clean, delicate skin.
This perfume comes in an alcohol-free splash for infants, and a spray for children 1 year and over.
In 2002, “King of Cool” Tom Ford presided over the creation of a new masculine scent for the Yves Saint Laurent brand, and in doing so, pioneered the Westernization of oud. M7 was launched in an era dominated by fresh aquatic scents for men, and turned heads for its bold, unashamed opulence and richness. But its fame was somewhat short lived, and after several reformulations, it was retired in 2010. In spite of this, and much to the delight of M7 lovers, a new incarnation emerged in 2011: M7 Oud Absolu.
M7 Oud Absolu opens with a sweet mandarin ambery myrrh... it feels thick and pulpy. There is an interesting fruity/medicinal accord – a little like cherry cola - that peers through the swelling cloud of dry wood chips. As the scent unfurls, it gets darker and drier... an inky trajectory that is more earthy than the opening, with dominant notes of oud, rockrose and patchouli. Whilst the original M7 maintained its medicinal quality until the last whisper vanished from skin, M7 Oud Absolu feels somewhat more arid and woodsy as the scent evolves. It is mysterious and assertive.
M7 Oud Absolu is an example of cosmetic surgery done right. Instead of woefully defacing a classic, they've actually improved upon it.
What can be said about Shalimar that hasn't already been said before? Poets have rhapsodised over her, and men around the world have succumbed to the women who wear it. She is the Grande Dame of the perfume world, created by one of the world's oldest and most revered perfume houses: Guerlain.
Created in 1921 (but not released until the World Fair of 1925), Shalimar is the scent that pioneered the Oriental perfume category. It remains to this day, one of the most-sold perfumes of all time… its beauty and mystery is ageless. Shalimar opens with lemon and bergamot, underpinned by rousing blooms of jasmine, iris and rose. A deeply resinous nucleus of opoponax and incense furnishes this perfume with an exotic piquancy, and lavish tendrils of leather, civet and musks, add a sense of animalic carnality. Perhaps the most prominent accord, however, is vanilla… an infinitely dark, caramel-vanilla… a facet that is utterly addictive. It wears much like a mohair blanket around the shoulders… warm, luxurious, sensual.
Shalimar is perhaps best worn in the evening… at the end of the day, when the sun has slipped beneath the horizon, and the night is filled with unspoken potential. It is a perfume that stands as a work of art, and an ode to love in all of its forms.