Category Archives: Fragrance Review

Balenciaga L`Essence

Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer. For some of you reading this, you’re probably asking yourself, where is the sun? Keep the faith, it’s coming.

With summer on the horizon, we can look forward to sticky days and stickier nights. During those times, having a fragrance cling to your skin is the last thing you want to even think about. It’s the reason we typically reach for lighter scents. But when perusing men’s fragrance offering this time of year, I’m usually bored. They either contain too much citrus or they’re too sporty or aquatic.  So what’s a guy to do? This guy ventured to the other side of the isle. Yup that’s right, I went looking in the women’s section and I discovered a gem. Continue reading

Secret Garden by Mandy Aftel

A few weeks ago, I witnessed a conversation on Twitter discussing the making of mixtapes. They were discussing the ones we made at home ourselves on cassette tapes filled with slow jams. The ones we toiled over for that girl that made us pay attention to the way we smelled, the girl who for some reason took the words right out of our mouth, our first, second, third and fourth crushes. We made them to communicate our feelings in a way we couldn’t at that time. For some reason, Bobby Brown’s, “I Wanna Rock With You” said it so much cooler than I ever could. Besides, making the mixtape was like writing a letter, albeit imperfect with its abrupt endings and sudden beginnings (those pause and record buttons were never as precise as we wanted them to be). In the end, however, she got the point, and if she blushed, you were the man. Continue reading

Penhaligon’s Juniper Sling


Penhaligon’s, the English perfume house founded in the 1860’s, has released its newest Eau de Toilette, Juniper Sling (that’s a slick name). Inspired by London Dry Gin, it was created by the perfumer Oliver Cresp and is meant to pay homage London’s roaring twenties. Continue reading

Field Notes From Paris by Ineke

Field Notes From Paris

A few years ago, I went to Paris for the first time and I recall thinking these people look good. Lapels flapped in the wind differently, stilettos were paired with everything differently, and even a drag from a cigarette was different. It all seemed sexier. Was it a figment of my imagination, perhaps? But the scenery didn’t help either. Continue reading

Nautica Pure


A while back, Nautica sent me a bottle of Nautica Pure, as it was one of its fall releases. When I finally got around to testing it, I thought it was ok. I wasn’t blown away but it contained some subtle nuances I liked. That same evening, to my surprise, my wife said, “you smell good. Very manly.” She doesn’t usually comment on the scents I’m wearing and that’s ok. But I had to take this opportunity to jump all over that adjective, manly. She said I smelled like I work with my hands, but in a good way. By this time, the scent was probably approaching its middle to bottom notes, which are warmer than its top notes. Continue reading

Gift Guide

I was recently asked by Diane Da Costa to put together of list of must have items for a Christmas gifting guide for Uptown Magazine’s website. Thank you Diane. That was sweet of you. Check it out if you’re still trying to figure out what to get in the remaining days before Christmas.

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Passion Boisee by Frapin

When I was a teen, I owned a Brooklyn Dodgers baseball cap and it was one of my favorite possessions. It was royal blue with a white B emblazoned on the front. Barney Bishop wearing a B on his cap. Need I say more? What I remember most, however, was the quest to have the perfect bend in the brim. You see, back then a well bent brim signaled the cap was lived in it. Its weathered appeal was what we sought. I spent hours bending it just to get it perfect. Continue reading

Bleu de Chanel

For sometime now, I’ve been writing an essay in my head. It deals with pop culture’s latest obsession, manly men. The themes are everywhere, from the runways to AMC’s Mad Men. Some have even speculated that the recession could be a culprit. The New York Times Sunday Styles article, “From Boys To Men” is a good read on the topic. Continue reading

Sartorial by Penhaligon’s

The very first time I smelled Penhaligon’s Sartorial I thought barbershop and tradition. It opens with a soft powdery smell that reminds me of the Saturday morning/afternoons I waited to get my hair cut, the sound of the clippers, the requests,” let me get X or Y,” those final moments before I got up from the chair; that stinging sensation from the alcohol as my barber went along my hairline and that fresh clean feeling of being a new man. How is it possible to have such details summoned from one smell? That is best answered by something I found on Penhaligon’s website in the “About Us” section and it says, “fragrance is liquid emotion.”

Scents that produced this sort of memory used to turn me off as I felt they leaned too heavily on tradition and the idea that “this is how men are supposed to smell.” But that didn’t happen with Sartorial. Perhaps that can be attributed to my new-found love for LP No 9 or my recent return from Barbados where I spent time with my uncles who are all very traditional in their fragrance and grooming habits and it’s starting to rub off on me. But as I thought deeper about the name and read its supporting press materials that talked about the tailoring tradition that influenced this scent, I began thinking of my own tailor.

Mr. Henry is a Trinidadian tailor I’ve been going to for well over a decade now. He’s old school, he knows my parents, is genuinely interested in how I’m doing, but more importantly, schools me on the finer details of menswear. But that last point needs qualifying. There’s an old adage that says, “rules are meant to be broken.” Mr. Henry is the first to tell me, “no cuff on flat front slacks, but the choice is yours, or the break in your slacks should be here but they are wearing it shorter these day so you tell me where you want them. He allowed me to make a choice that made me comfortable. His willingness to strike that balance, which is an update from the tailors of yesteryear, compliments my feelings toward Sartorial. While the dry down beckons tradition, woody and earthy, it opens with a softness that shaves off the overly masculine edge of tradition. A beautiful balance that speaks to the modern man.

Sartorial is inspired by the scents of the workroom at Norton & Sons, Bespoke Tailors at No. 16 Savile Row. Mr. Henry’s shop didn’t smell like that. It was old, filled with scraps of material; lose pins, chalk, measuring tape, a sewing machine and an old radio that cranked out soca music. But Mr. Henry smelled of a deodorant mirroring Old Spice, Brut or Right Guard. For him that was how a man was supposed to smell, fresh and clean but not frilly. Sartorial embodies the masculinity of today’s man and I think Mr. Henry would say, “Young fella, a man is supposed to smell like that.”

Sartorial by Penhaligon’s will be in stores October 11, 2010.

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04 Petrana by Odin

Paul Birardi and Eddy Chai, co-owners of Odin New York, and Larry Paul and Kelly Kovack of Purpose Built have once again partnered for the release of 04 Petrana. It continues the unisex theme of the three fragrances previously launched as well as identical packaging, kudos to them for that. I love when packaging begs to be displayed.

While the first three fragrances in Odin’s collection, 01 Nomad, 02 Owari and 03 Century were inspired by the mountains of the Himalayas, 04 Petrana takes its cue from the desert of Jordan. And like the vast swings in temperature in the desert, 04 Petrana runs from a cool, sweet and spicy opening to a warm and earthy dry down that pleasantly reveals a bit of leather. My initial reactions had me asking myself is it to sweet and feminine but I was also drawn to the contrast of the peppery notes. The two playing together, sometimes fighting each other makes it irresistible.

04 Petrana’s top notes include purple cassis, pink pepper, and herbaceous coriander. Its middle notes comprise black iris, violet leaf absolute and garden heliotrope. The base notes include wild orris, earthy vetiver and white musk.

Retail price $110 for 3/4 fl oz.

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