Tag Archives: men’s cologne

The Best of 2013

Now that Christmas is behind us, our sights are squarely set on ringing in the New Year. Bye bye 2013. Hello 2014. But, before I completely put this year behind me, it’s inevitable that I reflect on all that occurred.

I found that I tapped into my grooming side a bit more this year and you may have noticed that in the number of stories I published. I discovered some great products and just had to share them. Here are a few of my favorites:

Best of 2013 Grooming

Without question, the one item that overhauled my morning shave was the Fog Free Shower Mirror by ShaveWell. After searching for one and stumbling across this one, it was the best purchase I made in 2013. The return on investment continues to yield benefits.

Since I’m spending more time in hot showers, I’m paying extra attention to my skin and making sure I don’t allow my eczema to flair up. Rod’s Royal is a new men’s grooming line that’s been nothing short of impressive. Their body lotion is excellent. While it’s thick, which some guys run from, it quickly works it’s way into your skin leaving it feeling hydrated without feeling greasy.

One of the arguments often used to sway men to jump over to using safety razors is the dramatic price difference to using cartridges. Well you can now add to that Razor Shield by Hyd for Men. This solution, which is applied to your razor after every use, extends its life by protecting it against oxidation.  I extended the life of my razor or 25 days. Not bad for a product that costs $17.99.

Hailing from Toronto, Canada and made for vagabonds, gentlemen, and ruffians is Crown Shaving Company – an absolute gem of a brand. From the first time I applied their shaving cream to my face with my badger brush, I knew I was using something special. The way it hugged my face, the way my blade glided across my face with ease, it’s masculine scent and luxurious feel all had me hooked from day one. Hands down the best I’ve tried all year.

The surprise of the year came from Lucky Tiger’s Liquid Shave Cream. I was asked to review it for customshaving.com and I was skeptical from the beginning.  As I said in my review, “this liquid savior produced a thin sheet of slickness that rivals any of your trusted shave creams.”

In another year that saw a lot of fragrance releases, I fell in love with few. The ones that did catch my attention, however, I wore repeatedly.

Best of 2013 Fragrance

I’ve never been a fan of the signature scent thing but Royal Vintage is one scent that could make me change that. With its traditional masculine appeal, it’s a throwback sans the heavy bravado. What I particularly love is that it can be worn for any occasion. Once you try; you won’t want to leave home without.

Cumin can be a troubling note for many but it’s one of my favorites. Fate Man by Amouage serves a nice punch of cumin in it’s opening but the unexpected twists subsequent layers reveal made this a standout for me. The way saffron, mandarin, ginger, and animalic notes are balanced is impressive.

A citrus scent that’s clean, possesses depth and lasts all damn day is what you get from Thirdman’s collection of scents. Eau de Nomade was my scent this summer. I wore it daily and for good reason. As I said in my review, “…it’s Sicilian lemon, blood orange and cardamom (notes) are beautifully balanced and what you get is a zesty, slightly sweet and tantalizingly warm, scent that’s far from your average summer cologne.”

Sometimes you smell a scent and the first thing that comes to mind is this is interesting or this is boring. The first time I smelled Enigma by Roja Dove, I thought to myself, this deserves a well-fitted suit and freshly polished brogues. It possesses a refined masculinity. Its boozy slightly peppery opening is reminiscent of a firm handshake. But as it quiets down and the tobacco and ambergris comes to the forefront, it exudes a quiet confidence. I love how masculine this scent is. It’s familiar but its cadence is in a league of it’s own.

One of the scent subplots of 2013 was booze and it played a supporting role in Atelier Cologne’s Gold Leather. As oppose to cognac, they chose rum, which added to the sweet warmth of Gold Leather’s opening. What did it for me with this scent was the use of eucalyptus as it offered an unexpected freshness to the weighted notes of saffron, agarwood, leather, cedar and guaiac wood. The result – a unique take on leather scents defies the usual suspects. Personally I think it was one of the slept on scents of 2013.

There you have it – my best of 2013. To see what made the cut of my fragrant colleagues, please visit Eyeliner On A CatCandy Perfume BoyOlfactoria’s Travels and Persolaise.

Happy New Year!

Fate Man by Amouage

Amouage Fate Man

My first recollection of cumin in a fragrance was Le Labo’s Rose 31. It confused me early on as I found its warm, sweaty body order like smell jarring. When I realized it was supposed to be there, the scent grew on me. and it has become one of my favorite scents. Saffron caught my attention when I was in Paris a few years ago and sampled L’Artisan’s Safran Troublant at the Lourve. Its sweat heat was an instant win for me. Both cumin and saffron are prevalent in the opening of Amouage’s Fate Man, which not only caught my attention but has continued to excite my olfactive bulbs.

Fate Man for me has been a troubling scent. Every time I’ve worn it, I realize another layer and for that reason, I appreciate its craftsmanship. The very first time I wore it, I picked up the cumin and saffron right away in the top notes and they pretty much overshadowed everything else. On another wearing, about four hours or so after applying it, I was in awe that my nose picked up the floral notes in the middle. I surely didn’t think it would go there after the pungent opening I experienced and that dramatic shift impressed me. I have since recognized there’s more going on in Fate Man’s opening and that tug of war between the freshness of mandarin and the zestiness of ginger and the animalic presence of cumin piques my interest. I should footnote here that my early test of Fate Man occurred in the middle of the summer and perhaps that heat agitated the cumin enough that it presented itself in stereo while the other notes were in analog.

If you’re a fan of Amouage’s collection of fragrances, you’ll recognize that Fate Man fits the story they’ve been telling. Their use of pungent spices, incense and woods has become defining traits of the brand. But Fate Man illustrates what I love about perfumery – just when you think a scent has flattened out, an interesting twist occurs and wakes you up. The right turn it takes in the middle was such a surprise for me that it sealed the deal on how I feel about it. On top of that, its longevity is superb. If Fate Man is your first encounter with Amouage, the amount of cumin you detect could affect your perception of this scent as it can be a polarizing note. In other reviews I’ve read, it would appear cumin played it’s part as opposed to my experience where it played an extended solo. Nevertheless, I suspect Fate Man will do well for Amouage and I look forward to the next chapter in this ongoing story Christopher Chong is superbly narrating.

Fate Man – 50ml – $280.

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Montabaco by Ormande Jayne

Montabaco

Many years ago, as a Christmas gift I received my first desktop humidor. After unwrapping it, I stared at it for a while and day dreamed about how it would look on my desk. After stocking it with cigars and desperately trying to maintain its humidity level, I’d open it just so I could smell freshly humidified tobacco and the cedar that contained it. This gave me the same ahhh feeling I’d get when I visit the walk in humidor at my favorite cigar shop, OK Cigars. After wearing Ormande Jayne’s Montabaco, my ahh ha moment revealed that this scent captures what no other tobacco scent I’ve come acrfreshly humidified tobacco and the moist air that surrounds it, and it’s fantastic.

Montabaco is a part of Ormande Jayne’s Four Corners of The Earth collection, which is made up of four scents. Collectively, they pay homage to the places that have inspired the brand’s founder and creative director Linda Pilkington. Montabaco’s inspiration comes from Latin America.

The scent opens very herbaceous with a slightly sweet edge. It’s zesty and aromatic. The scent has a lift to it as well. I imagine that’s the clary sage that’s present in the top notes. I can see where some may say it’s medicinal in its opening but it doesn’t bother me. There’s also something mysterious about the opening, it’s airy but in a way I’ve never quite experienced.

As Montabaco moves into it’s next phase, the scent turns and the star of the show, tobacco becomes more prominent. A well humidified cigar blooms revealing the beautiful scent of its tobacco leafs. Walk into a humidor and the humidity intensifies this scent. It’s like it lifts it from the leaf and floods the air with it. Montabaco’s tobacco leaf note captures this essence while the use of rose gives it a sweet mossy scent. Once I finally peaked at the scent’s notes, I realized there’s an air note and whatever that is, it’s likely imitating the humidity in the air that makes the scent of tobacco blossom. As the scent moves into its final phase, it becomes more sensual with its use of sandalwood and ambergris, which surrounds more tobacco.

You don’t have to be a tobacco lover to appreciate Montabaco. The way it’s layered with notes like orange absolute, rose, violet, tonka and sandalwood, to name a few, presents a very unique scent. Judging from a few of the reviews I’ve read, I suspect men will either love or hate it, but that’s the beauty scent. On one occasion I wore it, a woman picked up its rose note and complimented me on how I smelled.  If Montabaco is inspired by Latin America, I suspect it’s not the glamorized sexy that we’re often fed to the beat of drums. Its inspiration is the culture beneath the veil. And like the back roads where the really good food comes from fish shacks and rum shops, Montabaco isn’t for everyone but I’m digging it.

Olfactive Studio – The Eye and The Nose

 

In August of 2012, while at the Elements Showcase, I discovered Olfactive Studio. If you attended the show, it would’ve been hard not to as they were the buzz of the show. Everyone I spoke with mentioned them as a must see and I’m glad I did.

Celine Verleure, the brand’s founder and creator greeted me with open arms. As she explained the concept behind the brand, I was in awe. The love affair continued as I sampled each of the scents in the collection. It was hard to pick a favorite and just when I thought I had one, I recently sampled the collection’s newest scent Flashback and I’ve found myself at odds all over again.

Celine was recently in New York and held an event at Art Opening to debut the U.S. launch of Olfactive Studio, which will be available at both Aedes de Venustas and Bergdorf. We met for a chat at the Standard Hotel and we talked about her journey to this point. For the first installment of “In Their Words,” Celine discusses the concept behind Olfactive Studio.

An eau de parfum of 3.4 oz will go for $195 at Aedes.

Good Read…My First One

ForbesLifeSpring13

I’ve been busy, writing more about men’s fragrances and grooming than I ever have. It’s been fun and challenging as there aren’t enough hours in the day. The good thing though is I have a bunch of stuff in the pipeline to publish here at Fragrant Moments.

A recent opportunity that came my way was the chance to assist the Style Director of ForbesLife magazine, Joseph DeAcetis, in producing a Spring/Summer scent story. With the excitement of a kid in a candy factory I jumped at the chance to put my editor hat on for print and let my fragrant passion fly. What lies within the April issue is a result of sniffing this and that, fighting for some and unfortunately passing on others. It was a lot of fun stepping behind the veil and seeing how the magic happens and I hope more opportunities like this come my way.

Grab a copy if you can and let me know what you think of the selected goodies.

Thank you JD.

Eau d’Italie Acqua Decima

AcquaDecima

When you feel a brand has done right by you, anticipation builds when you learn a new release is coming. If you’ve been following Fragrant Moments, you know I’m a fan of Eau d’Italie. Several of their fragrances are a part of my collection and I suspect Acqua Decima will be too.

With notes of lemon, mandarine, mint leaves, neroli, petitgrain white wood and vetiver to name a few, this sounds like it’s beautifully built for the dog days of summer. This is the tenth fragrance in Eau d’Italie’s collection (Acqua Decima means Tenth Water in Italian) and its inspiration comes from a stretch of land that links the Amalfi coast with the Bay of Sorrento called The Path of the Gods.

Acqua Decima launches in the U.S. in July 2013 and will retail for $140.

 

Good Read..Scents of Spring

Image

With Daylight Savings going into effect this weekend, we’re all looking forward to spring. Those extra moments of sunlight will be celebrated with outdoor cocktails, breezy strolls and flirty innuendos. As a precursor to the season of relief, LifeStyle Mirror produced a piece about the Scents of Spring. They asked me to be a part and to my surprise, I’m in the midst of great company. My thoughts are alongside Chad Murawczyk of Min New York, David Moltz of DS & Durga, Francis Kurkdjian, Christopher Cervasel of Atelier Cologne and Carlos Huber of Arquiste. Check it out when you have a moment.

Forget about the hour of sleep you lost and look forward to spring baby…it’s right around the corner.

Ancient Resins by Aftelier Perfumes

Notre Dame Cathedral Paris
One of the things I fondly remember about my youth was going to church on Sundays. I missed a lot of Sunday football games but mom was happy her boys received their blessing. One thing that stuck with me was the church’s scent, which was a mix of body heat and old wood. With no air condition, we tried to stay cool with paper fans. They kept us cool and hot at the same time. That collective heat and that old church made for a scent that will forever be ingrained in my head. I used to wear my father’s Grey Flannel, but not enough to drown out that old church smell. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t bad, but I often wondered what it was like going to a Catholic church where they burned incense. That was the first thing I thought about when Mandy Aftel introduced me to one of her latest releases, Ancient Resins.
Ancient Resins
Incense has long been a part of religious ceremonies. It’s referenced in the bible and there are myriad historical references. Its perfume is meditative and it’s also said that the smoke symbolizes our prayers being taken up to God. History also tells us that people used it to perfume their bodies. I imagine Mandy drew upon this knowledge when she created Ancient Resins for the legendary Leonard Cohen.

Ancient Resins had me hooked from its opening notes; I wore it for a few days straight while testing it. It’s a body oil so it can be used to moisturize your skin. I chose to wear it as a fragrance and applied it to my pulse points as I would any other cologne. It opens subtly with a smoky, resinous presence and quickly quiets to a beautiful perfumed whisper. Don’t expect a bloom of perfume surrounding you. Ancient Resins wears close to the skin and in an intimate moment, it just might answer your prayers. If you’re familiar with frankincense, you’ll pick it up immediately as it contains a generous amount. The scent stays pretty consistent throughout its wearing and it lasts a long time.

A 50 ml. bottle of Ancient Resins is $40. It’s a steal gents.

Walk Good with Prada Amber Homme Intense

Prada Amber Homme Intense

What I love about our sense of smell is that it never lies. It knows what it likes and there’s no denying it. Case in point – sometime ago, I featured a bottle of Prada’s Amber Pour Homme Intense in a piece I wrote for Complex magazine and while I liked it very much, I didn’t wear it with any regularity. Every now and then I’d spray it on and go about my business.

One particular day, perhaps a day when I wasn’t rushing out of the house, I noticed its scent five or so minutes after applying it and I said to myself, “man this is good.” Later in the day, I wondered what smelled so good and remembered what I was wearing and realized it was only getting better. In that moment I wondered why I wasn’t wearing it more often and it dawned on me, that when I was in a jam on what scent to wear for the day, Prada Amber Homme Intense had become one of my go-to scents.

In its simply designed, dark colored bottle, Prada Amber Homme Intense is slick. It opens with a fresh, zesty punch, which is perhaps where the intense part comes in. It quickly settles down but the brightest parts of the opening remain…that’s slick. It also possesses a honeyed sweetness that balances out those spices, which I quite like. It’s smoky and resinous and to my surprise, as it develops, I begin noticing its fougere characteristics. What I really like about this one is how close to the skin it sits. Its dry down whispers leather with just a touch of sweetness.

Prada Amber Homme Intense is polished with confident subtly and I appreciate that. It has a familiar masculinity that reads a bit traditional and I suspect most men will appreciate that.

In the West Indian community when a person is departing, they are often told to Walk Good. Gents, you’ll walk good and confidently with Prada Amber Homme Intense.

The Year That Was 2012…A Look Back

As I look back on 2012 and count my blessings that I made it through another year, I realize some amazing discoveries from a grooming and fragrance perspective. I read and tweeted countless articles chronicling a renewed interest on the part of men about how they look and feel about themselves. That interest has always been there but I feel like men communicated about it more in 2012. As I write this review I can recall a conversation I had just this evening with a gentlemen about the wonders of a face cream that costs more than $100 and he raved at how amazing it is. That conversation replicated itself numerous times throughout the year and each time guys spoke in detail about what worked, reminisced and laughed about yesteryear and talked at length about their grooming routines. It was refreshing and enlightening.

Hunting Camp and Racer Shave Cream

From a grooming perspective, I made a few discoveries of my own this year. One brand in particular that impressed me on many levels was Portland General Store. I first bumped into them at the Elements Showcase and was introduced to their Hunting Camp Deep Exfoliating Soap. It was by far the best I experienced this year. It’s Sandalwood scent clings nicely to your freshly exfoliated and moisturized skin. I also feel in love with their Racer Shave Cream. When I heard it was non-foaming I was a skeptic. I became a believer after my first use. It’s that good.
Ursa Major Men Fortifying Face Balm

Another brand that’s kept my attention with its products and attention to quality ingredients is Ursa Major Men. This year they launched their Fortifying Face Balm and our faces are better for it. While it feels rich, it hydrates quickly without leaving your face feeling greasy. 100% natural and 82% organic, it’s money well spent gents. Finally, the brand impressed me when they posted this honest and transparent pitch for why their products are better than what is widely available on the men’s market today. After having used the products and being happy with the results, this made me respect them even more.

Fragrance

Olfactive Studio Lumiere Blanche

One of the things I love about the Elements Showcase is just when you think you’ve seen it all, a gem sparkles bright amongst all the other booths. At the recent showcase that took place in July, Olfactive Studios was that gem and to say it had a buzz at the show is an understatement. When it’s creative director Celine Verleure explained to me that the perfumer’s fragrance brief was a photograph from which they were to take their inspiration, I got goose bumps and it quickly became clear why they were the talk of the show. But if you think that’s a gimmick, its collection of fragrances will make you a believer. My favorite from first whiff was Lumiere Blanche. It’s sweet and warm, woody and crisp and that’s just the opening. As it dries down, its woods and musk notes bloom to perfection. It’s simply awesome.

M'Eau Joe No 3

Speaking of fragrance briefs, the collaboration between Opus Oils, the perfume atelier located in Hollywood, CA, and Michelle Krell Kydd, award-winning writer and blogger, was impressive for what it allowed consumers to experience from an insiders perspective and what its finished product delivered. Kydd, otherwise known as Glasspetalsmoke, laid out for all to see the inner workings behind M’Eau Joe No 3 Hollywood Whiskey Fragrance for the first ever open source fragrance brief. That alone is a milestone of 2012! As for the scent, it possesses a lot of mojo. Its staying power is one of the best I experienced this year. It’s bold and smoky, with a distinct whiskey scent that lingers nicely, as it should.

Kurkdjian Oud

When I heard about Maison Francis Kurkdjian was launching Oud, I thought I was over it. How many more iterations of this Oud thing could there possibly be? Then I experienced his creation and I was sold. While many other oud scents play up the funk factor, Kurkdjian’s possesses a subtly that, in my opinion, puts it in a class all by itself. What also made it a winner for me was its use of saffron, which lays interestingly alongside a metallic note I get in the opening. It’s just weird enough to keep my attention and is by far one of the best of 2012.

Ramon Monegal Mon Cuir

For the first time, ever, I smelled a fragrance and heard a melody ringing in my head. The scent was Ramon Monegal’s Mon Cuir and the song, Bob Marley’s Bad Boys. While this sensation caught me off guard, I surrendered to the moment and enjoyed the experience. This scent is unabashedly leather. It’s not smoky or anything else in the opening. That leather note rushes out with an animalic roar. Its swag is on swoll (I’m sorry but I can’t put it any other way…ask a friend for clarity). The way it lays on the skin is simply sexy.

Arquiste Anima Dulcis

Last and certainly not least is Arquiste’s Anima Dulcis. Before the purists jump on me, this was launched late 2011. But as the Geto Boyz once said, “my mind playin tricks on me” and I overlooked it then and discovered it this year. I incorrectly tagged Arquiste’s collection as florally and bright; boy was I mistaken. Anima Dulcis’ coco spice is downright delicious. The combination of the coco and chilli gives it an animalic quality that I can describe in no other way than sweet heat. The way they play off each other is distinct and charming.

There were a lot of launches in 2012, many of which I didn’t even get a chance to sample. It seems like more and more are occurring every year. Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed my look back. Let me know what think, and what were your favorites. For additional lists, take a moment and read some awesome lists authored by Eyeliner On A Cat, Olfactoria’s Travels and Persolaise.