Due to its size and location New Zealand is sadly often overlooked and forgotten about. It’s indigenous culture isn’t particularly well known, about from the rugby haka or Jane Campion’s The Piano, so it’s a pleasure to see a niche fragrance company coming from that part of the world and from somebody with that background.
Founded by Tiffany Jeans - I know, great name! - she was born into a family of strong, creative women and immersed in Maori culture. After a career in fashion and advertising she turned to craft. It was during her wedding to film director Andrew Morton she crafted a series of hand- cast skull candles for each guest, individually wrapped in tulle. From this grew a range of bespoke perfumes, candles and finely crafted curios.
Left - Curionoir - 'Cellar Feels' Parfum Extrait - 50ml - £150
Now, a collection of seven fragrances and matching candles, housed in handblown glass made by Monmouth Glass next to the Curionoir flagship store in Auckland.
I particularly liked ‘Cellar Feels’ which smells like Welch’s grape juice with a woody and leather base.
Called Curionoir, because Tiffany always worked at night, it feels like the fragrances are deeply personal and a mystical gift from the lush ferny undergrowth of New Zealand. I just wish more of this was reflected in the packaging and branding. I want to learn more.
Right - Feather My Tears Candle - £125.50
“With 'the modernist', I designed a fragrance that has that self-assured simplicity. Bergamot opens the parfum and leads the way to a oral centre. Freesia felt like the perfect choice in this journey from citrus to timber. I love the sweet and sharp sensation of freesia and the way it softens and radiates a cleanliness on the skin. This is cradled in the warm hands of frankincense. I wanted a dominant, distinguished base and its complexity is enriched with labdanum, timber and even fruit, creating an autograph for the wearer. I’m not a big fan of scents that arrive before you do and linger in the room after you’ve left. For sure, be powerful and be bold, but let them remember how you smell, not just the smell.” says John Evans, Fragrance Designer & Founder of the modernist fragrance.
Taking a break from corporate life, John worked full-time as a writer and has seven novels published. Following his re-entry into the world of finance, John lived and worked in the US and Australia for a number of years. He and Andrew, his partner, returned to the UK in 2008 where John was the Managing Director of a global business.
Leaving full time work at the end of 2014, and at Andrew's suggestion, John began formalising a lifelong passion for fine fragrance. Soon after, John authored the modernist manifesto and founded the house of modernist fragrance. Formulated in London and made in England, this is his first fragrance.
Left - The Modernist - 50ml - £145
TheChicGeek says, “It’s refreshing when somebody has put everything into a single fragrance. This feels like a labour of love and another welcome addition to the family of small British perfume producers. I’m not sure whether ‘the modernist’ is the name of the company or the fragrance or both. But, I really like it.
It has a cool, almost menthol, freshness at the top, with an element of turpentine. Then, a peppery layer which moves into spice and the comforting and intoxicating depth of the frankincense. It doesn’t dominate, but has a delicate richness, very much like John’s goal in the creation - see his quote above. The packaging reminds me of Miller Harris.”
“The classically fresh DNA of Fougère is reinvented, converging impeccable decorum with the modus operandi of an agent provocateur.” says Tom Ford, rather cryptically.
Left - Tom Ford - Fougère d’Argent - 50ml - £162
A bold burst of top notes features refreshing mandarin and bergamot blend with shimmering ginger. The masculine heart combines French lavenders of two kinds, one softly aromatic and one with a woody dimension. Amplified by geranium’s green and minty facets. The drydown reveals the provocateur teasing behind the fresh, razor sharp sophistication—the warm wood of akigalawood and coumarin extracted from tonka bean.
TheChicGeek says, “One of the lynchpins of men’s fragrance, ‘fougère’ is the lavender family of fragrances and has been the basis for many masculine scents and one we've, unfortunately, taken for granted. When it's good, it's really good, but, at times can smell very generic, especially in the mass fragrance market.
Here it gets Tom Ford’s silver hand over it - hence the name ‘Silver Fern’.
This is a very solid woody fougère. It feels very constant, rooted to the heart and is much less fragrant, flowery and more woody - a signature of Mr Ford’s.
I’m not getting much of the top, while there is a note of spice, it’s dominated by warm woods. Tonka bean usually adds a metallic touch - that could be the d’argent bit of the labelling - but again, it’s distant.
This isn’t the greatest fougère, that’s reserved for the original, Houbigant’s 'Fougère Royale', created in 1882, but it’s Tom Ford’s woody version.”
HERMETICA, says it is the first of its kind – a digitally focused fragrance brand, with 13 unique fragrances – that will be delivering internationally due to its alcohol-free fragrances.
From the fragrance stable of Irish/French couple, John and Clara Molloy – founders of MEMO International which has brands such as MEMO Paris and Floraïku. See what TheChicGeek thought about Floraïku - here Hermetica is a collection of molecular fragrances inspired by the ancient practice of alchemy, which sought to transform basic metals into precious materials and to find the ultimate elixir of life
This hybrid formula, using unique patented technology - Innoscent™ - where synthetic molecules are extracted from natural source, developed by Symrise, is a first-ever in the fragrance industry. The alcohol-free formula reveals immediately the heart of the fragrance.
The result of this modern-day alchemy is four collections of 13 long-lasting and powerful perfumes plus, Source1 – a unique scent that can be found in all of the fragrances.
Left - Hermetica - 100ml - £155
Each Hermetica scent is presented in an emerald green lacquered bottle with a golden metallic cap debossed with the Hermetica logo. The bottle is housed inside a golden perforated cylinder reminiscent of the molecule that carries the perfume to your nose.
TheChicGeek says, “When you’re presented with 13 fragrances it’s difficult to know where to start. There’s a random ‘personality’ questionnaire to go through on the website which asks you questions to help define your fragrance. Mine came out with ‘Source1’, which, funnily enough, was the first fragrance I tried from the box of 13. Lucky?! Maybe.
The ‘Source1’ is found in each fragrance, ranging in concentration from 20 to 60%, and contains bergamot essence, amber and a fresh wood.
They say because of the complexity of an alcohol free fragrance, this took more than two years to create, due to its new and innovative formula that enables the top and mid notes to appear instantly, revealing the heart of the perfume after the first spritz, making it unique to every individual.
They offer a ‘discovery kit’, containing all 13 perfumes, and can be purchased through the website, allowing consumers to smell each scent, before buying; the cost is then offset against the price of a full priced fragrance.
I was drawn to ‘Greenlion’ with its patchouli, juniper berry oil and amber wood, but there's so much good stuff here. This has the pedigree and is another welcome addition from the MEMO founders. I love the names and I’m still enjoying discovering them all.
As the for the digital bit, they’re launching in Harvey Nichols later on this month and extending the MEMO counter to be 50% HERMETICA, so they’re not purely online, but they want to position themselves as digital native as they’re sold internationally due to its alcohol free formula and can be therefore be shipped globally. Personally, I would just buy the sample set and enjoying playing until those run out.”
Sample Set - £25 Redeemable against the price of a full sized bottle
Azzaro’s Wanted By Night is a woody-oriental-spicy eau de parfum created by Quentin Bisch and Michel Girard and is a new twist on the original 'Wanted' released a couple of years ago.
A woody base note is brought on by white cedar. The juiciness of a sparkling mandarin, zested with a hint of its nectar, is mixed with warm, spicy cinnamon notes and the woody tonalities of cedarwood.
Left - Wanted's controversial bottle. Maybe it's a big seller in the US?! Azzaro Wanted By Night - 50ml - EDP - £46
Red cedarwood’s explosive charisma and the flamboyance of cumin, creates a heart crafted in precious woods with a warm, nectary tobacco blend is reinforced with Atlas cedarwood.
TheChicGeek says, “When you get to my age it should be more Wanted By Teatime! This has a sticky, synthetic smell, which I like. Nothing smells natural about this which I find more interesting.
The cinnamon gives it a youthful and warming edge. There aren’t any layers here. It is, what it is, then disappears relatively quickly, especially for an eau de parfum.
The bottle, which is the shape of a fully-loaded gun chamber, got quite a lot of flack when it first appeared two years ago, but it does look slightly better here with darker juice. The advert, on the other hand, looks like a 16 year old’s version of sophisticated. Don’t get me started about that eyebrow…”
Right - Who signs this stuff off? *raises eyebrow*
TheChicGeek says, “The last dunhill fragrance, 'Icon', back in 2015, set the standard for the modern range of dunhill men’s fragrances. I was a fan - see more here and four incarnations later, it’s time for something new.
‘Century’ is their latest offering. The perfumer is Carlos Benaim and features refreshing top notes of bergamot, grapefruit and mandarin. A base of sandalwood, warming olibanum - frankincense - and fragrant neroli sits on sandalwood, musk and cypriol
As somebody at the press launch said, this smells like a posh body wash. The type that stays on your skin in a soft, soapy and background kind of way. That's not to be derogatory and there are plenty of people who don't want shouty fragrances. This is very subtle and warm, with the mixture of neroli and sandalwood, and, pleasingly, is an easy wearer in a quality and sophisticated way. It's just not something you'll be able to pick out distinctively in a line-up, but it's still good at what it does.
The bottle is one of the best I’ve seen for a while. It’s very Verner Panton - the designer was a major influence for SS19 - see SS19 Milan/Paris Trends Scrapbook here - and looks like a paperweight from the 1960s. It’s disappointing the magnetic, curved top doesn’t fit perfectly into the recesses on the side. This probably says more about me being on the spectrum than anything else!
This is an accomplished fragrance from dunhill and makes their collection of fragrances some of the best packaged in the mainstream men’s market."
Left - dunhill London - Century - 75ml EDP - £59
Available now exclusively to Harrods. Launches nationwide from the 6th August 2018
For Alien Man, Mugler has tried to reinvent the leather fragrance family by overdosing it and giving it an olfactory twist, an overdose of osmanthus blossom with apricot notes, paired with a woody base of smoked beech bark.
The overdose of leather is triggered thanks to its pairing with cashmeran, a fresh, vibrant and spicy wood.
Left - Thierry Mugler Alien Man - 100 ml - £68
TheChicGeek says, “With a name like ‘Alien’, you’d think the field was pretty open for something outer of this world. Something that was the opposite of natural and played with the idea of things or someone being in the wrong place.
Alien Man is a bit of a let down, especially with me being such a big fan of the male Angel, A*Men. That bar was set pretty high. I don’t get the top at all, but the dry down is much more interesting. I’m getting dried grass with wet, white flowers and a peach or fruity element.
Created by Jean-Christophe Hérault, the fragrance is centred around the flowers of the osmanthus scrub, used throughout East Asia for its scent and flavour, which is likened to apricot and peach.
They could have had much more fun with the bottle. It’s a bit dark, shows all your fingerprints, and simplistic and the top squeaks as you spray.
Mugler, as a brand, is always pretty out there for me, and this feels disappointingly conservative.”
Lalique has announced the launch of its new men's scent, L'Insoumis Ma Force. It opens with fruity lemon notes mixed with spicy cardamom and green apple. The heart features lavender balanced with violet leaf, rosemary and green camphor, rounded off with a sensual wood and amber base. The perfumer is Fabrice Pellegrin.
TheChicGeek says, “Translated as ‘rebellious’ and ‘my strength’, this is a classic fougère with the 90s note of choice - green apple. While not its main focus, Lalique fragrances are pretty good and I usually like the packaging. Often inspired by the frosted/art-deco style of his most famous glassware, the Lalique bottles are affordable nods to the super-expensive originals. This is a bit of a let down as a bottle and is not very memorable.
The fragrance enters a busy space for the lavender-based with a woody base with a lemon/green top, but, of its type, it ain’t bad. While there are a lot of these around, this certainly has the freshness, scents of this type have, without that annoying synthetic after-note - read cheap - you find with less expensive variants.”
Left - Lalique - L’Insoumis Ma Force - 100ml - £72
For Paul Smith’s new ‘Hello You!’ fragrance, perfumers Fanny Bal and Dominique Ropion say they were inspired by Paul Smith’s celebrated use of colour. The fresh, sparkling citrus opening is followed by a very British aromatic lavender heart, blended with a fruity apple accord. The base notes underline the strong masculinity of patchouli and vetiver, magnified with the sensuality of ciste absolute.
TheChicGeek says, “I really like Paul Smith, the man and the brand. He’s probably the nicest man in fashion. But, I’ve always got the vibe that he doesn’t really know that much about fragrance and therefore has never given it his full attention.
His past fragrances have never been that distinctive, which is strange for a man who happily paints shops fuchsia pink - LA - and Minis stripey. They were also quite young and priced too cheaply.
Anyway, there’s a new men’s one on the block called ‘Hello You!’. A play with Paul’s famous 1940s pin-ups, usually found on the interiors of his wallets, it sticks to the classic rectangular bottle with a screw cap.
I like the name, but, it feels like the kind of packaging I wanted 15 years ago from him. It’s a shame they didn’t do a choice of male or female pin-ups, it would have felt more contemporary - I was thinking ‘Cooey’ for the male one!
The fragrance is still young and it is priced to sell, but I find I’m having less and less patience for these types of fragrance. I really want something special from Paul Smith and for him to have the same confidence with fragrance that he has with colour.”
Left & Right - Paul Smith Hello You! 100ml - £45
This new woody aromatic leathery fragrance was designed for Jimmy Choo by Nathalie Lorson. On top, clary sage’s aromatic imprint strikes a balance between freshness and refined texture. The tonic transparency of bergamot brings a breath of fresh air and contrasts with the spicy warmth of black pepper. The intense texture of leather reveals itself in the heart of the fragrance, assuming an extreme masculinity enhanced by the urban elegance of grey amber and the vegetal woody facets of cypress. The creamy sensuality of sandalwood provides a distinctive and addictive dry-down, supported by magnetic vanilla and vetiver.
“I composed this set of textures around three impacting elements: the aromatic and velvety texture of sage leaves, the grained and raw texture of leather and the smooth texture of sandalwood to create a masculine and modern addiction,” explains Nathalie Lorson.
TheChicGeek says “This is the Jimmy Choo Man reimagined as a carefree skateboarder. I’m thinking Rocco Ritchie or one of the Beckham boys. I thought the blue element would denote an aqua fragrance, but it’s a leather wood. It’s slightly older and more mature than the skateboarding image suggests.
There’s a sweetness of the vanilla, but it’s a classic mid-market leather fragrance that I think works better on clothes than on the skin. Nothing pokes its head above the leather parapet and I’m not sure what’s ‘blue’ about this fragrance, unless it’s your knees after a turn on that skateboard!”
Left - Jimmy Choo Man Blue - EDT - 100ml - £66