To create Montblanc EXPLORER, three noses from Givaudan have combined their expertise: Jordi Fernandez, Antoine Maisondieu and Olivier Pescheux. Each of them brought their own knowledge of a specific ingredient and their emotional experience; bergamot from Italy, vetiver from Haiti and oatchouli from Indonesia.
The top note bursts with effusive Bergamot from Italy. Called OrPur®, this particular bergamot explodes with floral, green, and intensely fresh notes.
Left - Montblanc Explorer - EDP 100ml - £70
“I find this ingredient particularly luminous, like a young Mediterranean boy bursting with laughter: pure and eminently elegant,” says Antoine Maisondieu, who is a great fan of this citrus fruit. “Bergamot is also an icon of Calabria and symbolises the light of this region. We wanted to infuse Montblanc EXPLORER with this unique atmosphere, synonymous with joy, light and refinement.” This bergamot is paired with the masculine notes of French OrPur® clary sage and spicy orPur® pink pepper.
The heart note of this journey takes us to the most remote part of Haiti: in the extreme south-west of the island, in the region of Les Cayes, where the most refined vetiver is organically and ethically produced. Celebrated by perfumers all over the world, Haiti's vetiver oil is comparable to no other, thanks to its smoky hues and its slight overtone evoking hazelnut.
“I love the fact that it takes time to truly understand all the richness of vetiver,” explains Olivier Pescheux. “It's not a common or easy-to-access smell. It's authentic, raw and earthy. Vetiver is a root with strong masculine accents: the combination of complexity and roughness gives it real virility.”
A final stopover takes us to Indonesia, east of Borneo, in the heart of the rainforest, more specifically on the island of Sulawesi to discover a new type of patchouli of unparalleled quality. This patchouli has been developed exclusively for Montblanc fragrances.
“Patchouli is often at the centre of my creations, as it brings a rich and complex character to the perfume, it is the beating heart of the fragrance,” explains Jordi Fernandez. “This incredible custom-made patchouli gives a unique olfactory dimension to our palette. I used it in Montblanc EXPLORER to bring its iconic signature to it. It enhances the leather and cocoa notes of the composition, without showing its earthy facet.”
TheChicGeek says, “Mont Blanc has become a reliable go-to for mastige men’s fragrances and this is their best since Legend. Three strong noses work here and they’ve kept it simply layered with their three main and quality ingredients.
The bergamot gives the fragrance a wetness which suits the dry and earthy vetiver; you can imagine lush tropical forests and the smell from the damp undergrowth. While nothing raises its head above the scent’s parapet, it all works and resonates with a pleasing quality. The bottle has something of the Frédéric Malles about it.”
Disclosure - A sample was gifted by Mont Blanc for review
Each Ostens ‘Impression’ is a fragrance created as an ode to a single inspirational ingredient. Here is patchouli. Melting wax. The resinous dust from a violin’s bow. Crushed biscuits, cooked molasses. Old bricks, decorative tiles, worn stone floors are just some of the references said to be conjured up by this scent by Domitille Michalon-Bertier. Other notes include rosemary, lavandin, lavender absolute, immortelle absolute LMR and ciste labdanum absolute.
TheChicGeek says, “Ostens is a new fragrance company - see more here - and they’re starting with one quality ingredient and asking perfumers to create fragrances around it. Here, everything rides on a classic patchouli heart without its earthiness.
This is addictively good. I’m getting a lot of incense and wooden church pews, but without that screaming and clawing depth you get from some niche fragrances. This is a gorgeous patchouli and very easy to wear. It's one of my favourite fragrances of the year so far and it's the kind of fragrance you want to say to everybody 'smell me'."
Left - Ostens Impression Patchouli Heart IFF-LMR No. 1 - 50ml - £85
Disclosure - A sample was gifted by Ostens
The new “Bentley Beyond - The Collection” from Bentley Fragrances is their first collection of exclusive unisex scents featuring three evocative olfactory journeys, matching peerless ingredients with exotic destinations. A trip to Acapulco, Mexico, with Exotic Musk, an ambery musky composition by Mathilde Bijaoui, a voyage to Goa, India, with Majestic Cashmere, a woody fragrance by Julie Massé and an odyssey in Java, Indonesia, with Wild Vetiver, an aromatic woody scent by Sidonie Lancesseur.
Left - Bentley - Beyond - 100ml - £165
The fragrances, housed in a beautiful faceted flacon inspired by the signature cut-crystal glass headlights of the Continental GT, will be available from Harrods and Lalique boutiques (Conduit Street and Burlington Arcade).
TheChicGeek says, "Finally, a car company doing fragrances which reflect the quality of their cars. This is no longer asking people to buy into aspiration - the fragrance equivalent of a branded keyring - this is a realistic vision of the same person buying their cars actually wearing the fragrance. Man or woman.
The Wild Vetiver is fresher than a normal vetiver, without that dirty, soily undercurrent, the Majestic Cashmere has that favourite orris on soft, warm cashmere wood and the Exotic Musk has an aquatic edge with a refreshing velvety coolness.
These are three quality fragrances and are very easy to wear. So easy, in fact, they aren't very memorable. These don't shout, which could be part of their attraction, but they don't disappoint and feel as classic and understated as a neutral coloured Bentley Continental."
Disclosure - The products were gifted by Bentley to review
Jo Malone has launched solid perfume travel-ready palettes featuring some of their most popular fragrances. A light, smooth texture, containing pure beeswax, ensures a rich scent when applied to the skin. Customers can fill their palettes with their choice of two Jo Malone London scents from Lime Basil & Mandarin, Basil & Neroli, Pomegranate Noir, English Pear & Freesia, Blackberry & Bay, Nectarine Blossom & Honey, Peony & Blush Suede, Mimosa & Cardamom, Wood Sage & Sea Salt and Oud & Bergamot. When it’s time to try a new combination, simply use the enclosed pin to pop the two scents out of the palette.
Left - Fragrance Combining Palette - £24, Solid Perfume - Cologne - £14, Solid Perfume - Cologne Intense - £16
TheChicGeek says, “Something new from Jo Malone. Affordable and fun, these solid perfume palettes are perfect for travel - you no longer have to worry about fragrance eating into your toiletries liquid allowance for hand luggage and also means you can have two fragrances at the same time, which works with Jo Malone’s famous ‘Fragrance Combining’ (Trademark!).
The formula is soft and creamy and allows for a different, more intimate way of applying fragrance. This feels like more about fragrance for you, than for others. The palettes aren’t huge, and I don’t think they’ll last very long if you’re using them all the time, but, I think constant refresh is part of the point.
They’ve missed a trick not designing the palette so the pin, to remove the fragrance, can clip onto it. But you could just use any pin if you lose it. This is a really fun idea and makes a new entry product for Jo Malone. It feels younger and I think they could have had more fun with the packaging and maybe they could offer palettes in brighter colours or designs. I guess, if this is a success, this will become their equivalent of a jewellery charm bar. It could also become the Nespresso of fragrance!”
Disclosure - The products were gifted by Jo Malone to review
This is the sixth edition in the Armani Code line-up which was launched in 2004. Armani Code Absolu for men is an oriental fragrance, in which the classic Code base fragrance has been amplified and warmed. Perfumer Antoine Maisondieu from Givaudan has constructed a fragrance which opens with sparkling notes of green mandarin and apple, which guide us towards the heart. Here, orange blossom, nutmeg and carrot seeds unite with Armani Code signature ingredient tonka bean, unveiling a liquorish accord of rum. The dry down reveals a touch of suede, the tonka bean intensity and sweetness of tinted vanilla.
Armani Code Absolu - 30ml - £51, 60ml - £69, 110ml - £84 - Available nationwide from 24th April 2019
TheChicGeek says, “This is definitely an evening fragrance. Gourmand. with a warm vanilla dominating, it has a slight orange blossom wetness on the top. Tonka bean has become a stalwart of men’s mainstream fragrance, but here it’s less metallic and much warmer and lip-lickingly fragrant.
Armani has opted for Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds, as the new face of Code, which could be confusing when he was the face of Boss Bottled and is dressed roughly the same in both commercials. I’m not sure if this is deliberate or not.
I’ve never given Armani’s fragrances much time before because, like the rest of the label, they seemed all quite safe and it doesn’t fire me up like other brands. With this, I’m pleasantly surprised. The bottle is very tactile, very Armani, and even has a grained cummerbund wrapped around the top. You don’t get more 'evening' than that!”
Disclosure - The product was gifted by Armani to review
Returning to the classic moisturiser, ClarinsMen new ‘Super Moisture Collection’ contains 3 products all containing ‘Hydra Resist Phyto Complex’ a unique complex combining two plant extracts selected for their super hydrating ability. Organic houseleek lends its super hydro-resistant power to help offset the negative effects of testosterone, helping retain moisture even in extreme conditons, by reinforcing the skin’s surface barrier. Organic leaf of life encourages the natural hydration of the skin to help promote the production of ‘sponge molecules’ in every skin layer.
A ClarinsMen Complex contains a blend of gymnema extract and bison grass extract offering soothing and energising properties, stimulating and preserving skin’s energy while the Anti-Pollution Complex has extracts of nipplewort and furcellaria to help shield the skin from pollutants.
Left - ClarinsMen Super Moisture Collection - 50ml - £30
TheChicGeek says, “When a brand launches three identical looking products and it takes a few seconds of concentrated study to distinguish them, it would make sense to try and make them look slightly different.
There are three moisturisers here: Super Moisture Balm, Super Moisture Gel, Super Moisture Lotion SPF 20.
I opted for the one with SPF, and so should you, to test. It has that classic ClarinsMen smell, and goes on like a lightweight sun protection product. While nothing revolutionary, it still a classic white lotion, it would be nicer if the gel format had an SPF, especially for the facial hair fans amongst us, this is perfectly acceptable daily moisturiser and at a decent price from Clarins.”
Disclosure - The products were gifted by Clarins to review
Hoping to reintroduce men to the joys of the safety razor, 'Primal Shave' is a new online razor supplier offering a ‘Primal Shave Safety Razor Starter Kit’ which includes a safety razor, 5 blades, shaving brush and shave cream, as well as individual products to reorder.
Founder, Andrew Barrett, says feedback from customers, so far, cite a close, irritation-free shave, even on sensitive skin. The single sharp blade of our safety razor allows a clean, crisp shave, whereas multi-blade razors can tug hairs and cause razor burn. The replacement blades are much more cost effective than razor cartridges. A year’s worth of safety razor blades cost less than a tenner. The razor and blades are plastic-free, helping reduce the huge number of plastic razor cartridges that end up in landfill. No subscription. No contract. No tie in.
Left - Primal Shave - Safety Razor Starter Kit - £24.95 www.primalshave.com
TheChicGeek says, “Believe it or not, but I’ve never used a safety razor before. Nearly 140 years after its invention, it is still an effective and cheap way to shave.
There are clear instructions in the box and its all pretty straightforward. You unscrew the top, drop the razor blade in, screw it back on and you’re ready to go. They recommend a new razor blade every week. and at these prices, you really don’t mind.
This isn’t a shave to rush. This is a shave to take your time and carefully contour the face. Unlike modern razors, this razor is very rigid and, so therefore, the areas around the chin and neck need some more time and attention. You’ll need to feel with your fingers where you need to go back to, but the shave is close and comfortable. The razor is easy to wash. The shave cream and brush, are Italian, but I don't recognise the brand.
It certainly reduces wastage and plastic consumption with the tiny packs of razor blades. This is old-school shaving at around £2 a month. Pitching itself as an affordable alternative to Gillette and Harry’s, the Primal Shave box costs £24.95 and is worth around £37, when individually priced. A pack of 5 blades, is under £2, so Primal Shave should offer this as a subscription as you’d barely notice £2 every 5 weeks and they could be delivered in a tiny envelope.
Primal Shave need to brand this stronger and own the box and contents more, otherwise, when the box is discarded, Primal Shave is nowhere to be seen. They could be really playful with older imagery and tap into that nostalgia associated with the safety razor."
Disclosure - The products were gifted by Primal Shave to review