Category Archives: Interview

Meet Mark Montano

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What can I say, Mark Montano is Mr Do It All. He’s had several shows which include While You Were Out, My Celebrity Home, She’s Moving In, and 10 Years Younger. He’s also written several books, Big-Ass Book Of Crafts, Dollar Store Decor, and Window Treatments and Slipcovers For Dummies to name a few. The day before his taping for the Martha Stewart show, we grabbed a cup of coffee and chatted about fragrances. Here’s an excerpt:

What’s your earliest recollection of fragrance?
My earliest recollection would probably be my mom’s Patchouli and my dad’s Old Spice. Those scents always make me think of home. I hated when my parents left for the day so those scents make me sad because I knew they were getting ready to leave for work.

What fragrances are currently in your rotation?
Creed Green Irish Tweed, Jasmal and my own concoction – mint oil and lemon oils.

Tell me a bit about your fascination with drug store fragrances? Are there any good ones?
Hmm…….are there any good ones? Good question. I don’t want to diss the entire drugstore fragrance counter because I grew up in a small town and that’s what we had…it was all we had! Well, I guess it depends on what you like. I like to mix them so I head to the counter and start messing around with two at a time. Not sure if I should give away my recipe but let’s just say a good splash of Jovan Musk Oil mixed with some pine fragrance is always a good mix for me. Not too much though!

When you’re in the mood to purchase something new, what do you look for?
I always buy a new fragrance when I have a major achievement in my life like landing a new TV show or publishing a book. It’s the only time I will go to Creed and buy the largest bottle of something amazing.

How would you finish this statement, “My most memorable fragrant moment would be…?
Probably trying on my dad’s Old Spice and feeling very grown up. I was probably 4 at the time and I’m sure I doused myself with it. Scent is such a large part of memory and sometimes when I’m at a drugstore I smell it just to think of my dad.

What’s next for you?
Well, my 5th and 6th books come out this year so I’ll be promoting the bejeezus out of them and I’m working on my own craft show which is very exciting. It’s a great time right now for me and I’m happy to be busy!

Thanks for sharing Mark.

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Meet Ouigi Q. Theodore

theodoreouigi1
I’ve known Ouigi (pronounced Wee-Gee) for quite sometime. Over the years, he’s grown and matured but the hustle has remained constant. A few years ago, he started The Brooklyn Circus, which started out as clothing store but has impressively evolved into a lifestyle brand. I heard through the grapevine he was producing and selling scented candles and was most intrigued. Surely if he was going in that direction, I wanted to talk to him. I recently caught up with him at the store and dead smack in the middle of our chat; I couldn’t resist and just had to ask what he was burning. It was one of the BKc’s candles, Joya. With ingredients of Blood Orange, Vanilla and Sweet Musk, it is a must have for the winter. All of the candles are soy based and are hand-poured in Brooklyn. Now onto the good stuff:

What’s your earliest recollection of fragrance in your life?
Man, it would have to be my uncle and my mom. My uncle would visit us and when he left, the house smelled like him. It was never offensive, but very manly. My mother wore Opium and I think of her whenever I smell it. May she rest in peace.

Can you remember your first fragrance purchase? If so, what was it?
Ha! This is going to be funny. I’d have to say Drakar Noir. That was quite popular when I was growing up. In this order, these fragrances were important in my life: Drakar Noir, Joop, Gucci Rush, Diesel in the red bottle, Issey Miyake, Lolita Limpeka, and Bond No. 9’s Wall Street. Of those, I would only revisit Wall Street as a scent from my past

What’s your favorite scent right now? What is it about it that has you hooked?
Hands down, it’s Paul Smith London. It’s actually discontinued, but I always look high and low to find it. My lady swears by it too. She says she thinks of me when anyone else is wearing it and hates that. She only wants me to smell like that.

How often to you buy cologne? What was the last one?
I buy cologne every few months. I buy my normal fragrance and test a few others to find another one to add to the rotation. The last one was a re-up of Paul Smith London.

What do you look for in a scent?
For it to last, be distinctive and not offensive. I also like a scent that compliments my character. It has to go with me and suit me.

Why did you feel it was important to add scented candles to the mix of what Brooklyn Circus offers? Is there a fragrance in the future?
Smell is a very important part of anyone’s experience. With that, as we look to round out The Brooklyn Circus experience, I felt it was our logical next step. It says so much about an encounter, a moment in time and we want to expose our customers to something we feel is unique. A BKc fragrance is a must in the future…why don’t you make some calls on our behalf?

How would you finish this statement…my most memorable fragrant moment would be…?
My most memorable fragrant moment has to be a holiday gift from my lady. She bought me PS London this past Christmas, when I thought I would never find it. I searched all over for it hoping to surprise her. But she ended up surprising me with a pretty large bottle at half the cost of my normal bottle.

Quite a gift indeed.

Meet Stephen Greco

Love or hate Facebook, it can be addicting and it does possess the power of connecting individuals….and so begins this story.

I’ve known Stephen for a good few years and have always admired his intellect, his clarity of thought and endearing charm. To my surprise one day while surfing Facebook, his status message mentioned he was reading Chandler Burr’s Emperor of Scent. Could he be a fragrance enthusiast? Surely he must be if he’s reading this book. Well, I just had to inquire and what transpired was an enlightening exchange about scents, masculinity and memories of discovery.

Stephen, tell me a bit about your relationship with fragrances? What’s your earliest recollection?
My mother wore Chanel No.5 pretty religiously when I was a boy, and I can remember her being enveloped in a cloud of it when, on an evening she and my father were going out, she would come to my room rustling in a beautiful dress, her hair and makeup Hollywood-glorious, to tuck me in and kiss me good-night.

My father, at that time, was wearing Old Spice, which I found fully as exciting– though later my mother, sister and I bought him a bottle of Canoe, which we thought so much more sophisticated. This was in a small town in upstate New York, in the ’50s and ’60s. My father wasn’t the Canoe, type, though. Aqua Velva was his daytime alternative to Old Spice, and I used to love that, too– the equivalent of which, among the fragrances I use today, is Puig’s Agua Lavanda.

I was going to say that my first experience with fragrance for myself was a bottle of Guerlain’s Imperiale, which I begged my indulgent Aunt Fannie to buy for me after I’d seen an ad for it in the New York Times magazine. She did and I loved it, and then I went on to buy myself Guerlain’s Habit Rouge, a ridiculously adult fragrance for a small-town boy in Junior High. But come to think of it, I’d fallen in love years before that with the scent of Fitch hair tonic, which the barbers at Ed and Al’s used to apply to my fresh haircut, as a finishing touch. My father and I used to go to Ed and Al’s together on a Saturday morning, and I used to feel like man for the rest of the day, smelling of Fitch.

That said, how do you explain the period of time when you wore no fragrance at all?
I sort of came of age as a young gay man just at the time of what we used to call “liberation,” 1969, and for some reason– it’s complicated– it was felt politically important to move away from all vestiges of old-time faggotry, which include LOTS of fragrance, toward a new kind of gay masculinity that eventually flowered in The Clone. As I recall, Clones were not really allowed fragrance until official Clone scents came along–Halston’s Z (which I hated as too overwrought), then Drakkar Noir and the like. And even then certain bars and sex clubs were notorious for forbidding any fragrance, along with Lacoste shirts and designer jeans.

I have stories from those years about the powerful combination of body scents and fragrance, but those are perhaps for another blog.

What bought you back?
What can I say? Early on, I was taught to question all tyrannies, even those parading as politically or culturally correct. I started rocking fragrance whenever the hell I wanted to. And I was traveling a lot in the ’70s and ’80s, so I would often fall under the spell of various kinds of oils and attars that men of other cultures would anoint themselves with, and I adopted these, too.

Talk a bit about what Paco Robanne does to you?
Interesting! I was given a little silver metal canister of the “unisex” fragrance Paco at a party one night– this was in the ’90s, when I was at Interview magazine– and though intellectually I filed the scent under “CK1 knock-off,” emotionally I was transported. For me, Paco was pure, spray-on optimism! No other fragrance had ever reached me so deeply (except for the scent of fresh hyacinth flowers, which, unlike the scent of other flowers, affects me like a psychedelic drug).

This might be the spot to confess that if I have any “psychic” power at all, it would be to smell the future and past, not to see it. What that means, of course, I have no real idea. It’s not like American life is populated with mentors or guides in this area.

What fragrances are currently in your rotation?
Besides Paco and Agua Lavanda, to which I still turn a lot, I also use Davidoff’s Cool Water and Geoffrey Beene’s Bowling Green. Also in the mix are Arden’s Sandalwood and all the Penhaligon men’s fragrances– especially Blenheim, my first bottle of which I purchased in Wellington Street, Covent Garden, one New Year’s Eve in the ’80s, before boarding the Orient Express for an overnight voyage to Venice. For me, the composition and behavior of Blenheim is like that voyage: beginning in the cold, foggy north and heading south, toward the sun and opulence…

But I am also VERY partial to Penhaligon’s Bluebell, a cheeky little charmer that’s supposed for women but works very well on a man.

Oh, and when I am not buzzing my hair and have enough to style, I eagerly grab my Confixor, by Aveda, which isn’t very complicated but does kinda radiate a rosemary cheeriness, along with (I think) lavender.

How often do you go out looking for something new? What specifically do you look for?
This blog, along with books I’ve recently encountered by Luca Turin and Chandler Burr, are inspiring me to go out and look for something new. Until now, I guess I’ve been a bit slack about that– which is odd, since even as a kid, if I liked a certain quartet or novel or ballet, I had to check out everything else immediately by that composer or author or choreographer.

I found a sample of Lalique for Men in a goody bag last year and liked the fragrance a lot, but for some reason never purchased a bottle. Then a friend of mine, a retired dancer, brought me to Aedes de Venustas one day, and I felt too intimidated to poke around, try things, ask questions.

No more! I’m suddenly really jazzed up about smelling and smelling like…

Have you ever purchased the same fragrance more than once? If so, what was it and what about it made it worthy of a repeat buy?
All my Penhaligons are repeat buys. So is the Paco, which in a fever one night recently, years after I’d used up that first canister, I replenished via Ebay. After reading Turin I was afraid of a reformulation, but either Paco’s the same stuff or my nose is not smart enough to tell the difference.

How would you finish this statement. “My most memorable fragrant moment would be…?
Powdered fallen leaves, on that first, oddly warm, Indian Summer day of
fall…

Meet Darryl Robinson

I met Darryl a few weeks ago after a night of drinking with some of my colleagues lead us to The Hudson Hotel. He was bartending that night and mixing some excellent cocktails I might add. One in particular, the Obamanation, caught my attention for obvious reasons.

We were introduced by a mutual friend who knew of our love of fragrances and we began talking right away. We decided to continue our conversation at a later date and did so this past Tuesday in Union Square Park.

What’s your earliest recollection of fragrances?

Definitely as a 3 -5 year old kid, my mother wore what I thought at the time was a very intense fragrance from Estee Lauder, and my father enjoyed Zizane, Aramis, Polo, and a few others which I can’t recall. My father had way more fragrances than my mother and tended to be more experimental. My mother was more of a loyalist to one brand.

What fragrances are currently in your rotation?

YSL, Kiel’s Musk, Davidoff’s “Silver Shadow”, Gucci, and most recently Aedes De Venustes

How often do you go out looking for something new? What specifically do you
look for?

I’m more spontaneous about shopping for fragrances but on average will say I test 10-12 fragrances a month, and sometimes do a repeat test to confirm an opinion I may have had about a scent.. I like a combination of scents to include bold, sexy, calming, and all of these do not have to be present in one scent.

Have you ever purchased the same fragrance more than once? If so, what was
it and what about it made it worthy of a repeat buy?

Throughout my fragrance purchasing history I have always repurchased a core group of fragrances. Fahrenheit, Issey Miyake, Polo sport, Dolce & Gabana and Joop were more trendy induced purchases as I was younger and more impressionable. I wanted to be with the “In Crowd.” Today, my only steady repeat is Kiehl’s Musk. Kiehl’s has been a staple for the past 4 years. I find
it sexy and receptively friendly.

Because you’re known as the “mixologist” explain how you apply your cologne?

I have very dry skin, so I don’t apply any fragrance until after I’ve thoroughly moisturized my entire body with shea or cocoa butter. Then the party’s on!!! I start with 3-4 mists of Kiehl’s as my base. Then I reach for any one of my current scents in rotation and add another 3-4 mists and I’m ready to go.

How would you finish this statement. “My most memorable fragrant moment would be…?

Wow!!! I’d have to say, when a friend and I walked into the fragrance store that you suggested, Aedes De Venustes. At first I was a little overwhelmed, maybe even intimidated by the volume of fragrances that were all new to me. I recognized almost nothing. What a thrill!!! In the hour that I spent browsing, sniffing, sampling, and questioning the staff, I felt almost as fulfilled as I would from an enjoyable sexual experience. It was almost climactic like!!! A day later I’m still salivating!!!

As Darryl mentioned, I suggested he take a trip over to Aedes to experience the store. Not only did he do so, but he purchased their new signature scent, Aedes De Venustas.

Here are Darryl’s thoughts about it: I’m growing even greater love for this fragrance. It possesses an almost incense like undertone that is soothingly deceptive and calming. It’s far from over powering and has a sexiness that is obtainable at short range, ie: I’m glad it doesn’t over power a room and make me a human room deodorizer. Throughout the day I smell my wrists and arms to ensure that my senses maintained it’s consistent and flattering receptiveness to my new scent. Conclusion, it’s a winner and certain to be a repurchase.

Meet Roger Joseph

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Roger at a birthday get together for a friend. As fashionably late as he was, all in attendance greeted him affectionately and I soon learned why, he’s quite the charmer. I caught up to Roger recently at Diner in the meatpacking district where we traded stories about fragrances. I had a hunch he was into them but not to this degree…read on for yourself.

What’s your earliest recollection of fragrance?
The citrusy linger of my Dad’s Blenheim Bouquet (Penthaligon) on the stairwell, as he slipped on his jacket to go out on Saturday evenings. As a kid, I tried to make perfume by soaking handfuls of lilacs from the garden in cold water and then eventually bringing the whole experiment to a slow boil to concentrate the smell. I recall a heady mess on the kitchen counter.

What are some of your favorite fragrances?
Over the years, I find myself coming back to certain disciplines of thought to which I have handily prescribed a scent – Bel Ami by Hermes, Acqua Coloniale by L’Erbolario and Garrigue by Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier. Thanks to my buddy Antonio, I have a man in Naples who has created something special that I wear sparingly!

There was a time when my go-to scent was Romeo Gigli. In the 80s when severe shoulder-padding adorned even bodysuits from Donna Karan, the designs of Gigli looked artless and yet distinct. Gigli brought the same sense of proportion and colour to the design of his men’s cologne – from the lilac rectangular box with the dark orange label to the citrine green liquid to the bottle itself, which looked like a burgundy domed minaret, with metal coils around its neck. I would stock bottles of it like champagne.

What’s currently in your rotation?
In an effort to simplify my life, I have doubled up on classifications on the domestic front, which means sorting CDs by alphabet and musical genre and arranging the bookshelf by size and jacket cover. In the bathroom, only white packaged products are allowed in the medicine cabinet, and only brown bottled scents are on display, everything else is hidden. Coincidentally, I suppose, I am drawn right now to Flower Power by Comme De Garcons, L’Occitane and Helmut Lang’s Cuiron.

How often do you go out looking for something new? What specifically do you look for?
Not often and little in particular. When a favorite bottle is finished, I’ll replenish it. However, if it’s a new scent to which I’m not keenly attached, I’ll use the opportunity to review a scent I had initially waited to buy or to preview something new.

Have you ever purchased the same fragrance more than once? If so, what was it and what about it made it worthy of a repeat buy?
Several scents, depending on how they reacted to my skin and the responses they elicited. Though I cannot say print or television campaigns inform my choices as much as before, but I remember being repeatedly seduced by the ads for Kouros, Greek god iconography in blue and white, and by the black and white visuals for Jazz by Yves Saint Laurent produced by Jean Baptiste Mondino with a young Naomi Campbell, in silhouette, hair bobbed and playing the part of a scatting chanteuse. Need I say more?

How would you finish this statement, “My most memorable fragrant moment would be…?
I have several: early mornings in general, especially Springtime in the country with the windows open; reading Patrick Susskind’s “Perfume” on the New York subway and noticing a heightened awareness to smells; walking into the Comme Des Garcons perfume shop in Paris for the first time; Fracas by Robert Piguet and the accompanying memories of a prep-school romance to more mature expressions of love and lust, encouraged by Caron’s Yatagan.

Well groomed and versed, that’s Roger Joseph.

Meet Michael Haar


One day I was sitting with Michael chatting about a printing job I was asking him to consider for a client of mine when I just decided to blurt out, are you into men’s fragrances. I mean, he’s a pretty hip cat (he was wearing some sweet colored Nike Dunks) so I figured it was a fair question…well not only is Michael into fragrances but he proceeded to email me a picture of his collection. Needless to say, I was quite surprised by his submission and decided to let him have his say.

What’s your favorite scent?

Dolce Gabbana

What’s getting the most wear these days?

Banana Republic’s Black Walnut

What do you look for in a scent?

I like something that’s fresh but not to sporty. I particularly like woody and spicy scents.

How often to you buy cologne?

I would say I purchase a new scent at least twice a year. I’m slowing down a bit but there are a bunch I want to get like Dolce Gabbana’s The One, and ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA, John Varvatos and Paul Smith all have ones that smell great.

What was your last purchase?

Hanae Mori It’s really sweet but not in a feminine way.

What’s your earliest recollection of fragrance in your life?

I remember in the 70’s, my dad and a substitute teacher I had for 1 day, its kinda weird but I remember him vividly down to his lack of control of the class and his tan corduroy jacket with the elbow patches and long side burns, they both wore Old Spice which was more an after shave but it was very strong and nasty.

How would you finish this statement…my most memorable fragrant moment would be…?

I’ll give you two that have stuck with me like it was yesterday. When I was 15 I had a girlfriend who had the most amazing smelling hair. She used Silkience and it was amazing. Some years later, I was dating a young lady that wore Christian Dior’s Fahrenheit. Although it was for men, the way it laid on her skin drove me crazy….that was a good summer.

I bet it was Michael. Thanks for sharing.

Meet David Hart

David Hart

From the moment I spotted David on the street, I was intrigued by his look. Its kinda nerdy, but very confident and modern as bowties are quite trendy. He was gracious enough to allow me to take his picture (I’m sure he gets that all the time) and as it turns out, he is a neckwear designer (David Hart & Co.). In retrospect, that makes sense, not only was his tie perfectly done, but with that type of coordination, creativity can’t be to far behind. Anyhow, I had to stop him as I had a hunch he appreciated fragrance. Man, was I right. Read on…

What’s your earliest recollection of fragrance?

My earliest recollection of fragrance was definitely the original Polo by Ralph Lauren. Aside from the fragrance which I would still consider classic and timeless, the bottle was such a great design. The loden green with antique gold was stunning. In my opinion, fragrance is great because it creates something unique to its wearer and it essentially becomes an integral piece of someone’s wardrobe.

What fragrances are currently in your rotation?

Lately I’ve been on a huge Creed kick. Currently I’m back and forth between Green Irish Tweed and Tabarome. I love the long history behind Creed and its fans like Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, and Princess Grace. I’m also pretty obsessed with Malin+Goetz’s Lime Tonic and Polo Black. I’m very big on aftershave. Learning the proper way to shave from my Dad at a young age was a right of passage for me. I shave with a cut throat and love all the products like shave soap, pre-shave oil, and creams from The Art of Shaving to Barbasol and Old Spice.

How often do you go out looking for something new? What specifically do you look for?

I usually shop for new fragrances when the old ones run out. I think the next time I am looking for something I will probably stop by Le Labo. I like the idea of creating something that is uniquely mine and a little more exclusive.

Have you ever purchased the same fragrance more than once? If so, what was it and what about it made it worthy of a repeat buy?

I repeated a buy for a fragrance once and it was the original Polo. It never goes out of style

How would you finish this statement. “My most memorable fragrant moment would be…?

My most memorable fragrance moment would be using fragrances as a way of studying for tests. I remember being in high school and learning about Pavlov response mechanisms and from then on I would study wearing a fragrance and the day of the test I would wear that same fragrance as a way to associate the memory of studying with the test at hand. It seemed to work very well.

Gentlemen, that is why I love fragrance. It has the ability to touch us in so many ways. Thanks for sharing David.