Tag Archives: Men’s Fragrances

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!

1899 by Histoires de Parfum

1899 by Histoires de Parfum

In the latest release from Histoires de Parfum, the brand’s perfumer Gérald Ghislain found his inspiration in American author, Ernest Hemingway. While I’m not as well read on the Nobel Prize winning author’s work, I did read an Old Man and the Sea in middle school. A quick search reveals he was quite the rolling stone having had four wives and lived in Cuba and the U.S. I suspect the scent’s sharp opening, which is unequivocally masculine, can be attributed to Hemingway’s “most interesting man in the world” appeal.

1899 opens with a blast of vitality. It’s one part boozy, one part sweet and delightfully spicy. While there are no tobacco notes listed, every time I wear 1899, I envision wearing a fisherman’s sweater while lighting a pipe by a crackling fire. Perhaps that’s the old man by the sea fantasy that lies in the depth of my subconscious but the opening does remind me of the sweetness associated with pipe tobacco. Nevertheless, Italian bergamot, juniper berry and black pepper really do a nice job of setting the stage for Ghislain’s homage to Hemingway.

If you’re a fan of cinnamon I suspect you’ll like 1899, as it’s prominent throughout. I like that vanilla is also used as it softens the scent’s spiciness a bit but the character remains. As 1899 dries down, it becomes the type of skin scent that raises an eyebrow ever so interestingly. It’s soft and woodsy with just a bit of the opening sweetness remaining.

I wouldn’t classify 1899 as an office scent, but that didn’t take away from its likeability factor. I’ve been wearing it a lot and it’s become a fall favorite.

I suspect a lot of guys will like 1899. Its presence is strong and bold and there’s no questioning whom it’s meant for. That said, I could still see women wearing this and wearing it well. I remember I smelled Comme des Garcon 2 Man on a woman and it blew my mind. I think 1899 would do the same.

Put this on your “ to sample” list gents. It’s a winner in my book.

Fragrant Moments on Birchbox

Fragrant Moments on Birchbox

When the temperature outside has you hot and bothered, that ahhh moment a cold shower offers is all we can think about. Hence, spring and summer scents are lighter and fresher and conjure the feeling of cleanliness.

In the fall and winter, however, we bundle up to keep warm. We also sweat less and look for scents that comfort us. That said, fall scents are generally spicier and fuller than scents worn in the spring and summer. Cinnamon, clove, rum, amber, tobacco, leather, saffron, and cognac are a few notes on full blast in the fall.

In the end your nose won’t let you down. You’ll smell the spice factor and know this is for the fall/winter months for sure.

As we settle into fall and the weather gets chillier, what sort of fragrances will you be wearing? If you’re still trying to figure that out, here are a few of my fall fragrance favorites I put together for Birchbox. Enjoy.

Twisted Lily Opens In Brooklyn

Twisted Lily

A few nights ago, I had the pleasure of attending a party at Twisted Lily, a recently opened fragrance boutique and apothecary located in Brooklyn, New York. They graciously hosted Peace Love Perfume and The GoodSmellas for a night of eating, drinking, and of course sniffing.

Owners, Eric Weiser and Stamatis Birsimijoglou settled on a 650-square foot space on Atlantic Avenue in the burgeoning neighborhood known as Boerum Hill. The duo have deep roots in the fragrance industry and put their smarts on display with a beautiful collection of brands that runs the gamut from niche to hard to find, including Providence Perfume Co., Slumber House, Amouage, Penhaligon’s, Etat Libre d’Orange, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, and Mona di Orio to name a few. They even pay homage to Brooklyn perfumeries featuring CB I Hate Perfume, D.S. & Durga and Joya.

Don’t feel like heading into Manhattan on the weekend? Now you have one more reason not to.

Twisted Lily – 360 Atlantic Avenue between Hoyt and Bond Streets. For directions, you can find them on Scent Trails.

Seven Deadly Sins – Greed

As you know, my blogging cohorts, Candyperfumeboy, Eyelineronacat, Olfactoria’s Travels, Persolaise, and I come together for fun group posts centered around fragrances. This time around, we agreed on tying scents to the seven deadly sins and I chose greed. In case you forgot your Sunday school lessons, the other sins include wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony

Greed is the desire for excess, especially when it comes to material things and we all know someone like this. The more I thought about it, however, the more I struggled with the thought “this smells of greed.” Perhaps I over thought the assignment but the more I pondered the topic, the more I found myself attaching it to a human, more so than to a scent per se. For that reason, my expression here will surely be different than the group but this challenging journey sure did bring back some memories.

Patrick Bateman is Greed

One of my favorite movies is American Psycho. Patrick Bateman’s character was so devilishly interesting. He was shallow and greedy and at the same time, hated others who embodied these very same characteristics. I loved how immaculate he kept his apartment and prized possessions like his stereo. And that scene where he describes his grooming routine is priceless. If there was an updated version of this movie, I could definitely see him drooling over Clive Christian X. With a price tag of $570 for 3.4 oz. and notes of bergamot, juniper berry, amber and cedarwood, to name a few, it screams luxury and power. Bateman would surely wear enough just so his colleagues would ask him what he’s wearing and go into a monologue on just how exotic it is, how much history the brand has and of course, the scent’s price tag.

Tony Montana is Greed

How many times have you watched Scarface? Can you recite the lines of your favorite scenes? Every time it’s on TV I can’t turn away even though it has commercials and they horribly dub over foul language. Tony Montanna had to have it all. His strut, his suits, and the way he spoke bottled up his desire for the excessive beautifully and with that Drakkar Noir would be his scent of choice. If you’re old enough to know Drakkar, you either have a love or hate relationship with that scent but it was one of the most popular scents in the 80’s and as an aromatic fougere the scent evoked power. I knew a few characters that used to wear it and they all wore their greed on their sleeve.

Are there any particular scents that you would attribute to greed or any characters you can think of that you’d partner with a scent because of their greed? I’d love to hear from you and to see how Candyperfumeboy, Eyelineronacat, Olfactoria’s Travels, and Persolaise interpreted this topic, check out their posts.

A Gift Guide for Dad

At 77 years of age, my father, Robert Orminstin Bishop, is still alive and kicking. I’m fortunate I know. And as we get closer to Father’s Day, I think about all he’s done over the years and continues to do and I get emotional. As a child, he was strict. When that church bell rang at 6pm, shortly thereafter dad was coming down the block looking for his boys. We didn’t like it then but he did what he thought he had to do for his boys to survive these mean streets. As an immigrant from Barbados, he came here and by any means made it happen for his family. That’s a man and he is my father. I love him like cooked food on a Sunday. (My West Indian friends will chuckle at that one.)

As you reflect on your dad and ponder his greatness, here are a few Father’s Day gift ideas for your consideration…

Anthonys Logistics Perfect Shave
Anthony Logistics For Men The Perfect Shave Kit
As dads get up there in age, they can be stubborn in a lot of ways. Offer him a departure and an upgrade from his usual shaving routine in the form of a great dopp kit from Anthony’s. Featuring a quartet of full sized products including facial cleanser, preshave oil, shaving cream and after shave balm, this combination of products helps to eliminate ingrown hairs, irritation and razor burn; all of the essentials he needs for a perfect shave.

Anthony Logistics Perfect Shave Dopp Kit – $55

Cannon Radio Vault
Radio Vault
If dad loves his gadgets, he’ll get a kick out of the Radio Vault by Cannon Security Products. This dual-purpose safe is a fully functional radio alarm clock with an iPhone/iPod docking station and a hidden security drawer that is accessed with a biometric fingerprint scanner. How cool is that? Wait, it gets better – The stealth security door is reinforced with steel and disguised to look like speakers.

Radio Vault – $349.99

Joya Oliver Rugger In Girum candle
Joya x Oliver Ruuger In Grinum Candle
For those quiet moments when dad just loves to unplug, a nice candle is an excellent accessory. Joya Studio and fashion designer Oliver Ruuger collaborated on an exquisite work of art, In Girum Candle, which is a limited edition candle that’s handmade in London and New York. The candle is encased in leather that’s made from British saddle hide and features intricate artwork burned deep into the leather. The subject of the artwork is formed around an ancient Latin palindrome and offers an answer to the riddle: “In Girum Imus Nocte et Consumimur Igni.” Translation: “We go into the circle at night and are consumed by fire.” As for the scent, it’s smoky, woody and all man. The total package is exquisite. After the candle is long gone, dad will keep this for sure.

Joya x Oliver Ruuger In Girum Scented Candle – $450

Pengallan grey white seersucker front

Pengallan Slim Fit Boxers
For the dad that pays close attention to his stylish details, he’ll really appreciate the modernity of some boxer shorts from Pengallan. Far from the pack of three most guys are satisfied with, Pengallan’s boxers are handmade in NYC using 100% cotton shirting fabric from Europe. Sporting a flat front and sized to men’s pants sizes, these boxers are cut slim through the hips and seat, which eliminates unnecessary fabric that ends up causing what’s known as the “riding up” effect. What you’re left with is truer to size boxers that can now been worn with slimmer cut pants. One last thing, these aren’t your basic blue, white, and black colored boxers. Color ways and patterns are updated to keep things fresh. Once a particular size option is gone, it’s gone.

Pengallan’s Slim-Fit Boxers Grey/White Seersucker – $60

Florentine Iris
Florentine Iris
If there’s one thing guys suffer from when it comes to products, it’s loyalty. When they find something that works, it’s with them forever. Florentine Iris by Ermenegildo Zegna will, however, give dad a reason to pause and consider adding a new scent to his collection. One of a collection of five scents from Zegna’s Essenze collection, each scent is built around Italian Bergamot. Florentine Iris uses three different varieties of Iris along with jasmine, violet and musk to offer a distinctively clean, slightly powdery scent that can be worn day or night. What makes it particularly appealing is how alluringly subtle it is. Mom will especially dig it.

Florentine Iris – 4.2 oz – $195

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.