Based on a 50 acre estate called “Keyneston Mill" in Dorset, Parterre - translated as “on the ground” - is a new and experimental British perfume brand aiming to grow many of the ingredients themselves. Two thousand plant varieties to be precise.
Founded by husband and wife, David and Julia Bridger, their backgrounds are farming and graphic design, respectively, Parterre launches with three fragrances, all limited in number and stocked at Fortnum & Mason.
Left - Not the Crystal Maze - Keyneston Mill, Dorset
TheChicGeek says, “Who knew you could grow vetiver in the UK? I always thought it was a tropical grass found in places like Haiti. Soon to be open to the public, Keyneston Mill looks set to be a destination in itself and not just for perfume fans. I can see a Monty Don special coming on!
No budget has been spared here with Sir Elton John’s ex-gardener Stuart Neilson and former RHS botanist Nanette Wraith being brought on board. Design plays an important part in the core of the garden with Renaissance Italy and Kandinsky referenced while the rest of the acreage is put to growing in volume.
Based on botanicals, obvs, the three fragrances, produced in collaboration with leading perfumer, Jacques Chabert, are “A Tribute To Edith”, geranium and rose, “Run Of The River”, bergamot mint and orange flower, and, the most masculine, “Root Of All Goodness”, bergamot, vetiver and leather.
I admire Parterre because they will be at the whim of the unpredictable British weather and, as such, they’re still trying to work out what works and what gives a decent standard of product. They’re also producing the oils themselves using steam distillation.
Right - Parterre - "Root Of All Goodness" - 50ml/100ml - £95/£160
Like the majority of gardens, things will get better with age. Everything seems quite new and experimental, and while the French will probably scoff and turn up their noses, literally and metaphorically, just remember they did that once to English sparkling wine and look how far that has come.
It would be nice to see which of the ingredients are homegrown - maybe a Union flag next to them? - I do think they’re missing a trick not doing at least one fragrance with 100% British grown ingredients, but I’m sure, in time, that will come. Also, they should use a British perfumer or try doing it in-house.
This plugs into the British obsession with plants and gardening and being able to visit and see the place will only add to the attraction. Of the three fragrances, the most masculine is the “Root Of All Goodness”, but I was drawn to the rose one. Men can wear pink and smell of roses, these days. I like the branding, it is fairly feminine, but the hand calligraphy numbering on the bottles is a nice touch. I’d just love to know what they could do with the stinging nettles, bindweed and Japanese knotweed in my garden!”
The classic touch of lavender is altered by noble iris, that master perfumers Nathalie Lorson and Olivier Cresp placed at the heart of the fragrance. Combined with smooth, sweet pear and in a subtle nod to the original 1975 release, a patchouli-leather accord structures this new woody floral fougère fragrance.
Left - Gentleman Givenchy - 100ml - £66
TheChicGeek says, “Off we went to Paris for the launch of this and even after two days it still wasn’t sinking in exactly which way around gentleman and Givenchy were arranged. The new fragrance is called Gentleman Givenchy and not Givenchy Gentleman - do you see what they did there? - which is the original 1975 fragrance and, to many, a classic.
Right - Face - Aaron Taylor-Johnson representing the "Gentle Man"
The new version is getting a lot things right: the face Aaron Taylor-Johnson is a good choice. He looks great in the ad. and the commercial, shot by his artist wife, it sees him dancing and looking hot. The bottle is the classic Givenchy shape and the idea of a “Gentle Man” is modern and reflects the change in masculinity over the 40 years since the original.
The main problem I have is, the fragrance smells like everything else. I’m not getting the original here and it’s certainly not memorable. Again, another fragrance not to dislike, but nothing to get excited about either.
With Givenchy’s pedigree they should have reintroduced the original with all its seventies-ness to a new generation and re-owned one of the great male fragrances. Givenchy is a storied brand and they have a respected history, they just don’t use it enough.
They have a new designer, Clare Weight Keller, and it will be interesting if she has any input into the beauty side of the business which has been neglected under the former Creative Director, Riccardo Tisci.”
Left - TheChicGeek giving good "Gentleman" on the red carpet in Paris
Below - TheChicGeek getting his Gentleman Givenchy on in the Eurostar lounge on the way home from Paris
The first fragrance in Beaufort London’s new ‘Revenants’ fragrance series is Iron Duke. A tribute to Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke Of Wellington (1769 – 1852), perfumer Julie Dunkley has created a strikingly powerful fragrance with animalic depths – an apparition of the celebrated horseman, warrior politician and sartorial pioneer.
TheChicGeek says, “I’ve become a fan of Beaufort London fragrances - read more here - and this is the start of a new collection based on the ghosts of great British figures. This is inspired by Wellington and his horse - Copenhagen - and the Duke’s penchant for brandy and drinking.
Beaufort London haven’t revealed the individual notes, which actually makes it more fun. I got a top of boozy cough mixture then the warm, leathery, animalic body of the horse. There’s some spice in there, yet it’s warm, sexy and leathery. It’s dirty, but has a modern naturalness to it, like a honey or something.
It’s keenly priced at £95, especially being a high concentration eau de perfume (30%), and the image on the bottle is by Leo’s - Beaufort Founder - friend, tattooist Robert Gisbourne-Ashby.
This is wearably animalic. If you want something even dirtier and grubbier then try Peau De Bête.”
Left - Beaufort London - Iron Duke - 50ml - £95
In the modern Orwellian landscape it often feels like it’s a battle of the overly confident male egos. From Trump to Putin to Kim Jong-un, puffing your chest out and beating it hard has become an everyday occurrence. I thought - hoped - we’d left this in the last century, but it feels like we’re reliving the worst of the 20th century, every day.
There’s nothing wrong with being and feeling confident. It’s what gets you ahead, or so we are told. But, a delusional sense of entitlement and pride often ends with many cases of cutting your nose off to spite your face.
Last night, Zegna launched a new collection of premium fragrances. Titled #ElementsofMan, it contains 5 new fragrances named “Talent”, “Integrity”, “Passion”, “Wisdom” and "Strength".
Left - Wisdom, anybody?
While I can see the overall idea, it doesn’t feel very contemporary. Where’s “Vulnerability” & “Sensitivity”?
It feels like the Donald Trump collection of fragrances, which is ironic because Trump’s first fragrance, "Donald Trump, The Fragrance” was produced in partnership with Estée Lauder, who also produce the fragrances for Zegna. Launched in 2004, he also had others, now discontinued, called “Success” and “Empire”.
He’d probably wear all five of these, layered á la Jo Malone, yet he’ll think it was his original idea. More is more when you’re reeking of “Strength” & “Wisdom”, don't you think? No room for "Arrogance"?
It feels like an idea dreamt up between Lauder HQ in “Never Sleeps” New York and Zegna HQ in “Macho” Milan with little thought for the rest of the world. Successful men do wear Zegna’s clothes, you need a certain depth of pocket to be able to afford it, but let’s leave the 80s arrogance to Gordon Gekko.
Right - The full Zegna #Elementsofman line-up
“Talent”, for example, in isolation just seems a little strange. My British modesty and cynicism couldn’t wear a fragrance called “Integrity” without a little smirk.
Zegna is a premium menswear brand and they manufacture the most beautiful Italian clothes and fabrics worn by some of the world's most successful men. I think men today are more complex than these allow. These, at £180 for 50ml, are a premium fragrance offering, it just feels a shame that they’ve handicapped them with their names before you’ve even opened the bottle.
While the image of Davidoff Cool Water has always been a sparkling, aqua blue wave somewhere exotic like Hawaii or Malibu, you don’t have to go that far to experience the addictive draw of the sea.
Davidoff kindly took me to Cornwall to experience the latest edition to the Cool Water franchise - Wave. TheChicGeek and water don’t usually mix, but there’s something about Cornwall that when the sun comes out, it’s magical.
Famous for its ‘oceanic’ aquatic scent, Davidoff asked renowned perfumers, Francis Kurkdjian, Antoine Lie, and Jean Jacques to collaborate to create Wave. It begins with a bracing surge of the energising, signature marine splash accord and grapefruit notes that mingle with stimulating Sichuan pepper. The middle features birch leaf and juniper, on a masculine base of patchouli and sandalwood.
TheChicGeek says, “This is an easy wearer and that’s why the original Cool Water has remained so popular. A nice update, segue way, call it what you will, I particularly like the botanicals in it. The original ‘marine splash’ is there and while the rest balances around it, it remains a classic aqua cologne. It has a greenish feeling to it that continues the fresh theme without making it feel immature or unsophisticated. Cool Water Wave brings back the memories of the beach, so I'm diving in!”
Below - Surfer Geek
Last week, Harrods unveiled the expansion of its Salon de Parfums area on the top floor of the store. Seven new fragrance boutiques have been added including Penhaligon’s, Armani Privé, Burberry, Sospiro, Frédéric Malle, Bond No.9 and, brand new and world exclusive, Floraïku.
Left - The new Floraïku boutique at the extended Salon de Perfumes in Harrods
The Japanese-inspired, Floraïku, has been created by John and Clara Molloy, the couple behind ‘Memo Paris’, available at Harvey Nichols.
Directly inspired by Japan, the collection of eleven fragrances are based on Japanese poems - haiku - engraved on each bottle. Three ‘ceremonies’ make up Floraiku: Secret Teas and Spices, Enigmatic Flowers and Forbidden Incense, each
of them composed with three different perfumes.
The colour of the bottles, navy blue, white and black ensures recognition. A final ceremony is added to the previous three: Shadowing. Composed of two perfumes, with a red bottle, it allows, if they are affixed near a fragrance of one of the other three collections, to make it deeper or lighter.
Right - My favourite - Between Two Trees
Unveiled in a box inspired by a Japanese bento box, each fragrance of 50ml is presented with its travel spray, which also serves as a stopper. A refill of 10ml for the vaporiser completes this box. All perfumes and travel refills are refillable.
Left - Sit down for tea & a biscuit & sample the fragrances
TheChicGeek says, “This is a new take on fragrance and at first I thought it was Japanese. Japanese fragrances are usually very light. Because this is French, they are of a more European strength.
They are beautiful, so too is the packaging and the boutique. Looking like a tea house, you sit at the counter and are served tea and a biscuit - always a winner - while a wooden stand allows you to work through the collection. My favourite was one of the ‘shadows’ - ‘Between Two Trees’.
This is expensive, around £250, but without the usual bling you find at this level and smells very natural. I find it interesting how confident John and Clara Molloy must be to appropriate Japanese culture like this. It’s a difficult thing to get right when its not your own culture. I really like it, but I would love to know what the Japanese think”.
Below - The testers are arranged on this board to experience the different categories & 'shadows'
Left - The fragrances come in a bento style box with the travel spray stopper & cartridge
A new twist on Calvin Klein’s Obsession, the Obsessed For Men fragrance is an oriental woody amber with ‘a compelling heart of black vanilla sophisticatedly structured with dark, dimensional woods, providing the tension between a feminine melodiousness and masculine strength. Ambrox elegantly cuts through all, lending a sleek and contemporaneous edge’.
TheChicGeek says, “The original Obsession was the one major Calvin Klein fragrance that passed me by. Eternity - love, Escape - love, CK One - love. I’m not really sure why I skipped Obsession. I think it felt more feminine, ATM, due to the image of Kate Moss lying on a sofa. The images are a 90s classic and it was the start of Kate Moss’ relationship with the brand.
This new fragrance uses the same shaped bottle of the original while in a super-clean, clear finish.
I’m being pernickety, but i think they should have called it ‘Obsess’ rather than ‘Obsessed’. Obsessed is too pop culture a word, today, like ‘everything’ and ‘love’. It’s chuck away and immature.
They say this is Raf Simons’ first fragrance under his direction and it feels more a tinkering than a fully formed idea. The pictures of Kate are timeless in the truest sense of the word. Sent on holiday in 1993 with her then boyfriend, photographer, Mario Sorrenti, there was no make-up, hair or stylist. A simple setup, where the relationship made for exceptional results and a campaign that still resonates today.
As for the juice, it’s fruity, fresh and feminine. The fresh grapefruit gives it a sticky top while the deep vanilla gives a gourmand finish. It sits in that modern fragrance formation where there is as much top as bottom and it leaves you just wanting something a little bit deeper and more sophisticated."
Above - Calvin Klein - Obsessed For Men - 125ml - £57
Below - The original archive of unused Obsession images has been reworked for the new fragrance
Coach introduces a new fragrance for men. It is said to have a New York attitude and an American authenticity. Coach For Men starts with an energetic top note of crisp and effervescent green Nashi pear. A spicy burst of cardamom adds warmth, complexity and a subtle touch of sweetness. The scent ends with a textured base of vetiver—earthy, woody and green—layered with hints of suede and ambergris.
Left - One of the best bottles I've seen this year Coach For Men
TheChicGeek says, “In the battle for mainstream luxury - which is where all the money is BTW - Coach have a real energy right now. They feel like they are leading, rather than following, and have, finally, made Coach a recognised and desired brand in the UK and Europe.
This is their first men’s fragrance under their new license deal - they were previously with Esteé Lauder.
I really like the packaging: the ombré flacon and embossed logo with the name on the a leather tag is strong yet subtle branding. Even the textured calf-skin-like finish on the box is a nice touch.
The juice is commercial, but, that’s expected. The best bit is the dry down which soft and warm and without anything jarring or dominating.
The face is James Franco. I thought they would have chosen somebody a bit younger. Coach has been pushing a more collegiate, youthful feel and James Franco, pushing 40, is a bit done and has been used by other brands before. I personally think of Chloe Moretz and Brooklyn Beckham as Coach’s target image now: young and cool. But, this fragrance certainly works on its own."
Right - Too old for the new Coach? The Coach For Men face James Franco.
Coach For Men - Out 12th September 2017 40ml - 100ml - £29 - £62
Tom Ford introduces this woody marine oud fragrance as part of his ‘Private Blend’ collection with key ingredients including salty seaweed, pink peppercorn, oud blend, styrax, ambergris accord, and fir balsam.
TheChicGeek says, “This is really boozy. The smoked wood gives it an overwhelming whisky feeling and is a reminder of how wooden barrels flavour whiskies in their ageing process.
Tom Ford is well known for his ouds, particularly the cult Oud Wood, and they give his fragrances the richness and depth those paying the money want. This is as masculine as cradling a cut-crystal tumbler with scotch on the rocks wearing a shirt open to the navel. So, it’s very Tom Ford!
The only thing I would say about Tom Ford is I feel they are releasing too many fragrances. They need to slow down the releases to keep the prestige, exclusivity and allow consumers time to appreciate and focus on quality new fragrances like this one.”
Left - Tom Ford - Oud Minérale - 50ml - £155
A citrus-oriental-woody fragrance, Chrome Pure revisits Azzaro’s original Chrome fragrance’s emblematic freshness, creating a more textured and vibrant feel, with the addition of two new ingredients: the spicy-woody accents akigala wood and tonka bean join the white musks and mate leaves of the original version.
TheChicGeek says, “Released in 1996, I’m not familiar with the original Chrome fragrance. As a brand, Azzaro, has little or no awareness here in the UK and even Googling images only brings up fragrance and no vintage or historical fashion images.
This fragrance follows the typical tonka bean formula that have been popular over the last few years, but it does has a sophistication lacking in many. Created by Jacques Huclier - he was the nose behind the epic Thierry Mugler A*Men - it’s fresh, but wait for the dry down as it's the best bit, where it gets soft, musky and almost gourmandy.
The bottle follows the form of the 1996 original and looks a bit dated, now, particularly the font, but if you’re a fan of this type of fragrance you could do much worse at this decent price”.
Left - Azzaro Pure Chrome - 100ml - £59