Mr rose gold himself, Michael Kors, has been the billion dollar unicorn of the fashion industry with his ubiquitous bags and watches. His menswear has never really gained much traction, but his fragrances have always been pretty reliable. This is packaged as before, but in a blue colourway.
It opens with black pepper and nutmeg, then a middle of cypress and clary sage and, finally, a base of orris and tonka bean.
TheChicGeek says, “I must be getting old because I can’t remember the last time I had an ‘Extreme Night’. I think Michael Kors' idea of an extreme night out might be a bit more glamorous than ours.
The first thought I had when I smelt this was tonka bean. It does revolve around this, but has a soft aromatic quality which is fresh and green and smells cooling. Fans of Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male will like this”.
Left - Michael Kors Extreme Night For Men - 120ml - £70
Frédéric Malle relaunches Outrageous perfume - it was originally released in 2007 as an exclusive to Barney's - a stunning blend inspired by the exotic scene of Brazil - a colourful explosion of bergamot, tangerine, green apple against cinnamon, musk and ambroxan. Created by Sophia Grojsman, the idea for Outrageous poured out of a Caipirinha cocktail in Brazil: samba on the beach, bursts of orange and blue in low light, crashing waves and the ecstatic laughs of the young and sexy. It’s dramatic, festive and colourful, what Frédéric likes to call “clean sex appeal”.
TheChicGeek says, “Frédéric Malle works a curator of fragrance, commissioning various perfumers to create scents for his house, which is now owned by Estée Lauder.
While the list of ingredients in Outrageous is very fresh and natural it is difficult to pick out one specific note. What I’m getting here, at first, are rubber car mats. So, very Balenciaga AW17 and not, entirely, a bad thing. This dries down to something more natural and soapy and then ends up smelling like ‘Cologne Indélébile’, another of Malle’s fragrances. There’s nothing wrong with this scent, but Outrageous it is not”.
Left - Frédéric Malle - Outrageous - 100ml - £130
Part of Miller Harris’ premium ‘Perfumer’s Library’ collection, Le Cèdre is the latest unisex addition. For the adventurer, it is a spicy tale of cedarwood and black orchid. It features top notes of pink and black pepper, a heart of black orchid and mimosa and, of course, the base of Texas cedarwood and musk.
TheChicGeek says, “I really like the top of this. The black pepper is raw yet clean. The black orchid isn’t the Tom Ford type, but something softer and more subtle all on the warm foundation of the cedar wood. The only issue is that the pepper quickly disappears and it would be nice for it resonate longer. I would say this is on the masculine side of the unisex fragrance spectrum”.
Left - Miller Harris - Le Cèdre - 100ml - £155
Available May 2017
The first jewellery house to move to Place Vendôme in Paris in 1893, Boucheron is one of the magical names in fine jewels. The Boucheron Collection is inspired by travelling and includes six unisex scents: Iris de Syracuse, Néroli d’Ispahan, Tubéreuse de Madras, Vanilla de Zanzibar, Oud de Carthage and Ambre d’Alexandrie. Five perfumers created the six perfumes and include Nathalie Lorson, Christophe Raynaud, Fabrice Pellegrin, Jean-Christophe Hérault and Dominique Ropion.
Left - The Boucheron Collection - 125ml EDT - £175
TheChicGeek says, “Boucheron are quite late to the party on these luxury sets of one note fragrances. Does the world need another luxurious oud or tuberose fragrance? Probably not.
And the packaging and branding, at this price range, all seems to blur into each other.
Obviously tailored for the wealthy, visiting Harrods customer, but then so is the Zegna, Boss and Armani and numerous other versions of these generously boxed sets.
There’s nothing wrong here, but then neither is there anything original. People who want large volumes of expensive fragrance seem to shop at Harrods, but I think even they’re being saturated with these fragrances and none are offering anything new of different: the finest raw ingredients respectfully presented.
They are all unisex, but I would say the most male facing is the fresh neroli or the richer oud. Perfectly enjoyable and passable.
These big boxed fragrance collections are a bit like simple couture clothes: limited distribution and, ultimately, very few people experience it, so really what is the point when nobody can tell the difference? At this price point there are many options to find something individual rather blending in with this crowd”.
JOOP! WOW! awakens all the senses with captivating top notes of bergamot, cardamom and violet-leaf. A blend of rich absolutes: irresistibly sensual fir balsam, darkly masculine tonka bean and dangerously warm vanilla surabsolute. The foundation is the supremely woody base, noble combination of distinctive woods, vetiver and cashmeran, a memorable signature, full of masculinity, intensity and texture.
TheChicGeek says, “Joop fragrances became synonymous with toilet attendants in dodgy night spots and as such the brand was tinged with the dreaded ‘naff’ label. It’s never really resonated as a fashion brand here, unlike in Europe, and as such doesn’t have much identity.
Pronounced Joop with a J here, or with a Y on the continent, it wasn’t cool enough for people to look pretentious by saying it properly.
Left - JOOP! WOW - 60ml EDT - £39
Time for a clean slate then. Coty, the brand license owner for fragrance, has made an effort with this one. The scent is good. It’s warm, woody and amber-like without being sticky which often happens at this price point.
There’s masculine favourites of vetiver and tonka bean in there and a few gourmand ingredients such as vanilla and green notes such as geranium.
I just think there’s a disconnect between the name, the fragrance and the imagery and bottle. The image is of a mature (gentle)man, the fragrance is quite grown-up and the bottle looks likes a miniature of whisky, while the name ‘WOW!’ seems more immature, fun and for the younger, social media generation.
I actually like the name WOW! it’s quite pop, but it seems more suited to maybe a Marc Jacobs fragrance then something with the serious and old-fashioned hashtag #thescentthatmakestheman
The simple bottle design doesn’t have any shelf appeal and isn’t gimmicky enough. I think they want the One Million crowd with this one.
The fragrance isn’t wow, but then what is? But, it’s good.”
Happy New Year, Chic Geeks. What a year. Fashion years are a bit like dog years, so much happens and so much is forgotten about, while other things, unpredictably, have such an impact and filter out into the mainstream. Here's what I can remember from 2016. Tweet me your thoughts on #TheChicGeekAwards
Best Label of 2016 - Loewe
There weren’t many labels to rival Gucci this year, and while I (still) love it, I wanted to recognise something else. J W Anderson creates ‘fashion’ which is becoming harder and harder to find these days. Being the head of the Spanish label, Loewe, pronounced Loo-wavay, it has allowed his ideas to be polished with their skills in leather goods and skins.
He has created a clean high-fashion label out of Loewe, it’s almost like a male Celine, but with touches of humour and seasonal difference which gives it life without being too gimmicky and themed. If only we could afford it. He’s done such a good job here it wouldn’t be a surprise if he got the top job at Louis Vuitton, eventually.
Best New Label of 2016 - Gosha Rubchinskiy
‘Designing’ since 2008, this Russian designer is part of the non-fashion, sportswear trend that infiltrated the po-faced - read East London - side of fashion, this year. While he didn’t create anything new, he subverted like a professional and hit the sweet spot when it came to pricing the designer market. There’s a real market for affordable designer clothes and the Comme backed Gosha is cleaning up with his sweatshirts and skater style pieces. We’re spending more time in the gym and this is being reflected in our clothes and this is where it meets high-fashion with a side order of 80s charity shop.
Best High Street of 2016 - ASOS
With annual sales now standing at £1.4bn, ASOS is the ‘high-street’ giant of the internet. It’s obviously doing something right and it wins TheChicGeek Award for best high-street for its pure experimentation and ridiculousness. From Yeezy inspired Mad Max looking outfits to Gucci pussy-bow shirts, ASOS has the depth of choice at a price everybody can afford.
Where once the high-street copied designers, now, due to the sheer volume of product needed, they come up with their own ideas and run with it. Just don’t buy the ‘Super Skinny Fit’. Sequinned trousers, anybody?
Best Grooming Product 2016 - Boldking Razor
The razor market is dominated by the big players who out discount each other to monopolise the supermarket and pharmacy. They do innovate, but slowly, so it was nice to hear of a small player thinking differently.
The big difference here is the blades are further apart to prevent clogging, which, if you have thick, coarse hair, will happen a lot. Plus the razor comes with a suction cup to put on your mirror or sink, out of the way. Simply yet effective.
The branding is really good. Gone are the muscles and steamed up mirrors: replaced by cute graphics and chatty instructions. This feels modern, it feels like there’s no pressure to be a certain type of man, it’s simply about shaving and doing a good job. Time to start shaving again. Hello, Boldking. More here
Best Grooming Brand 2016 - Buly
Parisian brand, Buly, takes you back to a fantasy time of apothecaries and Renaissance snake oil salesmen where there’s a tortoiseshell comb for every part of your body. Where things have more meaning than is obvious, at first, and time-honoured traditions are bottled and squeezed into metal tubes and glass jars. This brand is all about the packaging which is always a big thing when it comes to grooming and beauty products.
I’ve tried the toothpaste - orange, clove and ginger - and the shaving cream - read more here
They add a difference and excitement to the grooming routine and the products work. They’re not cheap, but they’re special and feel like a historical treat.
Fragrance of the Year 2016 - Dunhill Icon Absolute
2016 was a bit of a disappointment from mainstream fragrance brands. The power of the fashion brand has waned and their offerings don’t feel as special or as premium as they once did. People are moving towards niche and specialised fragrance houses which offer something of quality, but at a higher price, usually.
Fashion brands and their licensees are too quick to release and they don’t commit to the fragrances they produce and thus fall by the wayside very quickly. I wanted to choose something more mainstream. Technically, this came out in 2015, but I only discovered it, this year. Even though Dunhill Icon won TheChicGeek Award last year, this Absolute version is completely different in a good way.
The top notes are bergamot and black pepper, middle notes are saffron, black rose and jasmine and base notes are agarwood (oud), tobacco leaf and leather. It smells really exotic and rich and warm and keeps you coming back for more. It doesn’t really last, but that’s okay, it’s not ridiculously expensive. I’ve smelt this on a few people over the year and it’s instantly recognisable. This really is rather good if you like something rich and intoxicating.
Most Stylish Programme 2016 - Deutschland ‘83
Forget the shoulder pads and power dressing, Deutschland ’83, was a lesson in Eastern European sportswear and military dressing. It was the great pop soundtrack of 80s classics that got us channelling our East Berlin realness and Vetements irony that made us want to stay firmly behind the wall.
Best Menswear Collaboration 2016 - Craig Green X Bjorn Borg
Affordability seems to be the word of 2016. Collaborations needs to tap a new market or appeal to those priced out. That’s why H&M always seem to do so well. Craig Green teamed up with Bjorn Borg this year to produce a collection that didn’t meet in the middle, it just gave the great unwashed Craig Green at a price they could afford. His samurai favourites were here in a capsule collection of unisex pieces. Doubles your market, natch!
Special ChicGeek Award 2016 - Dover Street Market
While the world tipped towards online, and the high-street continued to try to pile it high and sell it cheap, Dover Street Market moved.
It became what it should have always been. It got a proper retail space and had a flow and order to it. It’s dedication to designers and their visions will make Dover Street Market the hardcore venue and destination for devotees of the catwalk and its silliness. This is serious fashion for those who can’t see the humour in it all, but mock what you will, it’s nice that a Dover Street Market as good as this one exists in London.
Most Stylish Man of 2016 - Jared Leto
If you’re going to be a ‘style icon’ you need to take risks. We can all do a Thom Sweeney three piece suit with a horseshoe waistcoat and look the part, but it’s those little touches and breaking-out-of-the-mould outfits that gets TheChicGeek nod.
I’ve never been a fan of Jared Leto, not really sure why, but since he became Alessandro Michele’s dress-up doll, he’s really committed, with both GG logoed feet, to the Gucci renaissance. Some have been hits, other misses, but it’s definitely not safe and hats off to him.
Turkey of 2016
We got a lesson in how not to launch a website this year with Condé Nast’s style.com. The much delayed and anticipated site was supposed to use their expertise and kudos in the luxury market to rival Net-a-Porter and matchesfashion.com by using the power of their magazine brands and offering a new take on curated commerce. What we got was a quiet launch of something that didn’t have much content, was a shopping portal and didn’t offer anything new in a saturated luxury market. It will be interesting to see whether they further commit to this or quietly shelve it and put it down to experience. Read more here
What are your thoughts? #TheChicGeekAwards
Beirut based, IDEO Parfumeurs, takes inspiration from 1930s Morocco and Egypt with their new fragrance, Tarbouch Afandi. The name refers to a traditional gentleman's hat - the 'Tarbouch' - while 'Afandi' means both mandarin - a central note in the fragrance - but also the respectful 'Sir'!
Notes include green mandarin, pine, peppermint, honeyed tobacco and Lebanese cedarwood.
TheChicGeek says, ”I’d not heard of IDEO before, but if this is anything to go by then they are using the best ingredients in an interesting way. What makes this stand out is the animalic notes. Parfumeurs often stay clear of these musky and sexual ingredients as they can often have that primitive reaction of warning you off.
What hits you first is wet violet leaves which quickly dries to form a warm animalic scent. It's a bit like smelling a fresh fur coat, you can smell the fur and the heat from the body of the animal, but with a freshness. the mandarin, that stops it from being too much. This goes as far as many want to go with this fragrance family, but if you want more and you're a fan of a sweaty arse crack then you’ll probably love this - here
It is perfect for this time of year: it stays with you, but doesn't become annoying or dirty. The only thing I’m not crazy about is the packaging. It’s a bit generic for something as interesting as this.”
Left - IDEO Parfumeurs - Tarbouch Afandi - 100ml - £140 Exclusive to Liberty of London
The Chic Geek's latest vlog looks at his favourite grooming brand of the moment, Buly, Tom Ford launches body sprays as a new way to wear fragrance, pimps his old Sperry Topsiders with a Vibram sole and shows you how to do Gucci black tie with a couple of pieces of velvet ribbon. Watch TheChicGeek video below and subscribe to his YouTube channel here
A new men’s scent from French jewellery house, Cartier, the name ‘L’Envol' means ‘take flight’, and plays around with the idea of the Cartier timepieces developed for the first aviators.
An oriental woody fragrance, it contains musk blended with the powerful and masculine gaiac wood with honey notes and balmy facets.
TheChicGeek says, “Tell me, who doesn’t like the smell of honey? But, would you want to smell of it?
This smells like a jar of clear honey - maybe it’s the colour of the juice - made from white flowers. Close your my eyes, lie back and think of all those busy bees buzzing around jasmine and orange blossoms and you basically have L”Envol.
Left - The fragrance bottle is a refillable glass bulb inside a plastic sleeve
This is a very feminine ‘masculine’ fragrance and one I’m sure woman will wear just as much as men. It smells of honey, but without the stickiness you often get with cheaper fragrance ingredients and has a dash of patchouli while drying to a warm, comforting wood.
The bottle is interesting, it’s a glass bulb surrounded by a plastic case (*I've been corrected, the outer case is also glass) with a metal stopper that twists to reveal the opening. The glass bulb looks fairly delicate, so not one for the bathroom floor, and reminds me of one of those fancy oil/vinegar bottles.
It’s refillable, which does reduce the cost, but at £97 for 100ml, it’s really pushing that psychological £100 barrier. The £100 fragrance market is a tough one to crack, especially if this is sitting on a shelf next to cheaper fragrances. I understand that Cartier is a luxury brand, but if they’re going to introduce themselves to a younger, newer audience it still needs to be accessible.
The ingredients do smell of quality though and it’s certainly different.
Mats Klingberg, TRUNK founder
"I’ve been a big fan of Begg & Co and their washed Kishorn cashmere scarves for several seasons, now. The wash gives them a nice and fluffy finish which nicely adds some texture to any outfit. The Kishorns generally come in lots of nice solid colours, only, so I was very pleased when I came across this Kishorn woven in a khaki/camel block medley pattern”.
Left - Begg & Co - Kishorn Scarf Khaki Block Medley - £270
"The Gigi keeps going from strength to strength and it’s always a joy to visit their showroom to discover what they’ve created for next season. We’ve got lots of nice things from them this season, but I particularly like this heavy knit cardigan jacket. Will look great with a Trunk Oxford shirt and a pair of chinos or jeans paired with a chukka boot from Alden or sneaker from Common Projects”.
Below - The Gigi - Chunky Knit Jude Jacket Green - £355
"Our bag selection in Trunk LABS has this season seen the addition of this great bag from Nanamica, made in Japan, from an ultra-durable cotton Cordura fabric. The bag can be carried in three ways - as a backpack via the foldaway straps, as a briefcase by its side handle, or as a messenger bag. The bag has a main roll-top compartment, with large zip pockets on the front and back, each containing a system of handy dividers. A highly functional bag, it provides ample room and organisation for anything you might need to carry with you on a daily basis. What else do you need?”
Left - Nanamica - 3 Way Cordura Briefcase Khaki - £410
"A pair of Alden’s is the perfect match with any smart casual look, so works equally well with a pair of flannel trousers, chinos or jeans. I need a new pair of chukka boots, so am definitely getting a pair of these for myself this season”.
Below - Alden - Unlined Chukka Dark Brown Suede - £475
"Most of the brands in Trunk I’ve discovered on trips near and far and when I went to Vienna, last year, I came across WienerBlut for the first time, a fragrance brand from Vienna created by the very talented Alexander Lauber. I think the bottles are beautiful and thankfully its content matches the outside. A subtle, slightly spicy fragrance, Ex Voto comprises key notes of pink pepper, nutmeg, santal and ambergris”.
WienerBlut - Ex Voto - £130