Tag Archives: Men’s Colgone

Otto by Malin + Goetz

If you’ve been following me on twitter (@fragrantmoments) you know I’ve been raving about Otto by Malin + Goetz. That’s because when I purchase a fragrance, I desire something that smells great, has some lasting power, and is reasonably priced (but I will splurge in some cases). Otto has all three and then some.

I don’t buy fragrances looking for compliments. I seek to please myself first. Sometimes I’ll get the occasional, “that smells great.” But most times I don’t receive any and that’s Okay. With Otto, however, I have experienced more interest than I can recall. I’ve heard everything from delicious to “Jesus that smells good.” I take it all in stride, smile and keep it moving.

I remember when I first sampled it at their shop on 7th avenue here in New York City, I applied a few drops and couldn’t stop smelling my hand as I spoke with the sales attendant. She was extremely helpful and we exchanged information about scent layering. But Otto’s “so fresh and so clean” appeal had me hypnotized and when I found out it was only $55, I knew I couldn’t pass it up. I left with a bottle. Heck, I’ve bought more expensive scents in the past and have regretted it. Not this time.

Otto has Top Notes Of Grapefruit And Lavender; middle notes Of Geranium, Cardamom, and Rose; and base notes of Oakmoss and Vetiver. Because it’s an oil and much more concentrated than your typical cologne, you only need a few drops and it lasts all day. With the heat we’ve been experiencing and we still have quite a bit of summer, at this price, Otto is a steal…and you just might get noticed.


The Man In Mandarina Duck

The Italian luggage company Mandarina Duck, whose spicy citrus men’s fragrance Pure Black was released last year, may not be familiar to American audiences—even less so for men. The company started in 1977 when two young Italians decided to make traditional leather luggage more colorful. The firm has had a few stops and starts in the American market, but has a much stronger presence in Europe and Asia, with about 80 flagship stores worldwide.

That lack of name recognition probably made Mandarina Duck’s previous men’s fragrance, called simply Man, a tough sell when it launched in 2006. Between that and the bright orange packaging, a candid Mandarina Duck representative admitted to me, Man didn’t quite catch on. It was a light and summery scent with fruity-sweet orange, grapefruit and peach notes that, like its colorful bottle, may have seemed less than masculine to the American nose. Despite that, Man is still in stores.

Pure Black, the company’s second scent, didn’t exactly abandon the original concept—the fragrance is still orange-based (and created by the same perfumer, Nathalie Lorson), and the bottle is shaped the same—but the masculinity factor is amped up a bit. “We realized we had focused too much on the Mandarina Duck brand with Man,” a company rep told fashion and fragrance editors at a publicity event at Barney’s, pointing to the clear and orange bottle. “Pure Black focuses on what men want.”

That’s true, but there’s a disconnect between the Pure Black name and the citrusy fragrance. It starts out with bergamot and tangerine, spiced with pepper, and warms to orange blossom and tonka bean, finally drying down with cedar, sandalwood and vanilla. When I sprayed it on a card, I wasn’t impressed; on the skin it’s much better. Used sparingly, it’s a nice warm-weather scent: orange notes provide some of the freshness of lemon but linger longer. Vanilla softens the citrus edge. I prefer the fresh top notes to the basenotes, which smell a little less adventurous, a little more ordinary to me.

For a great orange-based fragrance, one that keeps up the momentum after the top notes, I prefer Frederic Malle’s Bigarade concentrée. It’s warmed with a similar cedar note, but softened by subtle rose, and the orange lasts longer. It too needs to be worn sparingly.

With Pure Black, I’m reminded of how much the success of men’s fragrances are subject to sensitive marketing: a sleek black bottle will always reassure a guy, and woody-spicy basenotes will seldom offend. But after that, it’s up to the brand, its distribution, and, probably, magazine ads. For those of us who review and collect fragrances, such crowd pleasers are a dime a dozen.

Just the same, Pure Black (which typically retails for about $70) does what it does well, and I’d recommend it to any guy who needs to move beyond those usual crowd pleasers without venturing too far into the more expensive and exotic fragrances that aren’t marketed to either men or women. —Harry Sheff

Good Read…I’m Proud Of This (Again)

I had the pleasure of working on the Men’s Health Grooming Awards again this year. I’m humbled by the opportunity and I’m thankful to Brian Boye for making it possible.

Here’s my feeling on a few of the featured scents:
Voyage d’Hermes – Sophisticated…powdery, peppery, sweet, musky. It’s even better on the skin. Add it to your summer collection.

Azzaro Chrome Sport – I don’t usually like “sport” scents but this is not your typical sporty scent. For me, it’s a great no-brainer choice for running around on the weekend. A definite head turner at the farmer’s market.

Tom Ford Grey Vetiver – Fresh and thorny…the pepper notes give this clean scent depth.

Pickup a copy of the June issue of Men’s Health…it’s on newsstands now.

Montauk by Bond No 9

It’s that time of the year folks-summer scents are dropping. Bond No 9 is launching its latest in the Andy Warhol series, Montauk. Named after the little town on the end of Long Island and the place Warhol loved to retreat to when escaping downtown New York, it will make its debut Memorial Day.

This by far is my favorite in the Warhol series. From the sunset bottle design, which is from a series of screen prints he created in 1972, to the bright, slightly sweet and salty opening, this unisex scent is an ideal accessory for a summer’s night of fun. It’s not to heavy, citrusy or aquatic like other typical summer scents. There’s a nice balance and the dry down is where the sensuality begins.

Montauk by Bond No 9 – $220 for 100ml; $145 for 50ml

Bath & Body Works Launches Signature Collection For Men

Whenever I test body washes, three factors determine if I’ll ever use it again, how well does it lather up (guys like a good lather), how does it smell, and does it dry out my skin. Bath & Body Works is launching a new signature collection for men and I had a chance to sample the body wash line. It receives a thumbs up in all three categories. If you’re like me and you hate the shower experience at the gym, add this to your gym bag and protect yourself again the funk, but do it with style.

Priced at a reasonable $10.50, the body wash collection is formulated with moisturizing Aloe Vera and nourishing Vitamin E. Hence, it does the skin good.

My personal favorite is Oak. But at these prices, you can try all of them. They’ll be in stores this month.

My Discovery of Frederic Malle’s Dans Tes Bras

I recently visited Frederic Malle’s beautiful Madison Avenue (at 73rd Street) boutique with my girlfriend and a friend. The store looks like a well-lit French parlor with a desk, no visible cash register, and three eight-foot-tall tubular glass chambers that resemble science fiction teleportation pods.

These pods, which are also featured in the brand’s alcove of the Barneys fragrance and cosmetics floor a dozen blocks south, give browsers a way of smelling the fragrances “as if they were worn by someone walking by,” as the staff explained to me. But despite the look of them, one does not actually enter the glass chambers; instead, a fragrance is sprayed inside and left to circulate for a moment before you lean your head inside. It’s a great way to get the ambient aroma of a perfume, and it doesn’t linger on your skin or in your nose. When you’re done, they turn on a powerful exhaust fan to clear the chamber.

I knew before I went to the store that I was interested in Frederic Malle’s Géranium pour monsieur and Musc Ravageur scents. The former is a great summer masculine floral with subtle mint. The latter is a potent but intoxicating amber musk that’s probably best saved for cooler weather.

I’d filled out a questionnaire online (http://www.editionsdeparfums.com/mallesite_gb/index.htm) a month ago, and a Frederic Malle representative replied with a few suggestions, including Musc Ravageur. Some questions were vague—Do you have any particular desire at the moment?—while others were specific—Why do you wear perfume? To seduce, to refresh, to add a final touch…—and one direct—Which perfumes have most marked you? It’s a great way to get personalized suggestions from a perfumer, and a great way for the perfumer to encourage experimentation. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my list of suggestions, and recalled only the one.

No matter. The sales associate, a thin brown-haired woman in a very avant garde black couture outfit, was extremely helpful. After asking me some questions—not all of them like the ones in the questionnaire—she had me smell a couple of fragrances in the glass chamber. Dans tes bras, one that the associate figured was a gamble on me, was intriguing. It’s described by the company as “cashmeran, sandalwood, musk and patchouli, reinforced with salicylates and incense, softened with heliotrope, colored with violet accord.”

It was too subtle at first, but then there was something soft and floral, but not feminine, just clean smelling, like a good soap. The sales associate told me the perfumer was aiming for the scent of skin, and that the result was a very old school French perfume. If it’s skin that creator Maurice Roucel (who also created Musc Ravageur and Bond No. 9’s superb New Haarlem) was after, it’s the skin of someone who smells great. To me it’s a neutral smell, not like a perfume so much as the scent of someone whose natural skin scent is pleasant (is that pheromones?), combined with a mild soap.

I’ve been wearing it for more than a week now (I left the store with a sample) and it’s like nothing else I have. It’s not even in the same category—it’s not something that ever would have occurred to me to try. The obvious reason for this is that while Frederic Malle doesn’t clearly market its fragrances by gender, Dans tes bras clearly falls on the feminine side. And yet on me, it worked. —Harry Sheff


John Varvatos Artisan Black

If there is one thing about John Varvatos’ fragrances I can appreciate, it’s the packaging. Artisan Black, which is his latest limited edition offering, is a continuation of Artisan’s hand-woven theme. It has a black lacquer finish that gives it an air of sophistication. Gents, this is definitely one for the mantle (or front and center on your dresser).

As with previous scents under the JV Fragrances and Skincare collection, Rodrigo Flores-Roux is the perfumer responsible for this creation. The accompanying press materials describe the scent as a masculine contemporary with a refreshing uncomplicated theme. It evolves into a deep woodsy structure, revealing a chyre backbone of sensual woody and leathery chypre accents.

I personally like this scent for those summer nights when the “anything can happen vibe” is in the air. The opening is fresh and a tad on the sporty side for me. But it quickly settles and its dual personality becomes apparent. The leathery and woody notes come to the foreground but the citrus notes never quite dissipate and that keeps it sprightly.

This will sell well for JV and it should. It’s a straightforward scent that can easily transition from day to night. If you’re looking for a go-to scent, this is it.

John Varvatos Artisan Black – Eau do Toilette, 4.2 fl. oz – $78 Available at retail NOW


Meet Dennis Cahlo

It has been about a year or so since I reached out to Dennis Cahlo. I came across his blog and really liked what he was bringing to the blogosphere. Madetomeasureny is a style blog offering men great tips and advice on how to look great on a budget. How can you go wrong with that? I love that he offers looks of the day, talks about great finds like tweed blazers he’s found on eBay or takes his viewers through the redesign of his apartment. So often we such things in magazines and think we can’t do that sort of stuff ourselves. If Dennis can do it, why can’t you? Anyhow, meet Dennis Cahlo:

Where do you get your sense of style from?
My style is a culmination of everything I have seen through my years as a musician and my love of classic movies. Those two elements help me shape my own personal style greatly from suit cuts to watches. I tend to lean towards the slim 60’s look very much. There is something so clean about it that I cannot deny.

What made you start the blog?
I remember I was flipping through GQ one day and got really frustrated at the pricing of the pieces (I’d like to clarify that I really admire the work GQ puts out there). So I just took what I’ve learned about photography and started shooting my inexpensive clothing in the vein of GQ and Details with information of where to get them and how much they are. From that seed of an idea my own journey into menswear, fit, and measurements started and Made To Measure, NY started to take shape.

What’s the secret to finding clothing bargains?
While I don’t think there is a big secret, I think there is a good amount of research one has to put into to hunting down a bargain. It’s also good to do things like having measurements for your suits and shoes handy at all times in a notebook or on a card. If you do that it’s way easier to shop on places like E-bay and other online outlets. It’s also good not to focus so much on brand but rather on fit. Imparali tailors here in New York will make you a fully canvassed made to measure suit for about $500 at start with full on customization. Places like that are not hard to find if you really dig.

What’s your feelings about fragrance?
Fragrance is one of the essentials in any man’s wardrobe. I think it’s really necessary for a man to have AT LEAST two colognes in his arsenal: one for the day and one for the night.

What’s your earliest recollection of fragrance?
I remember my dad and grandfather always smelling great. My dad would pick me up and give me a hug before he would go to work and I can recall how great he smelled and looked after a proper grooming. He didn’t use very expensive colognes but I always get nostalgic when I smell British Sterling or Jovan Musk.

What fragrances are currently in your rotation?
I have six in my rotation at the moment: John Varvatos Artisan (for Spring/Summer), Dolce And Gabanna Light Blue, Banana Republic Classic, Clean Shower Fresh for Men, Curve Crush, and Demeter Pure Soap. Demeter you can find for $15 at Duane Reade and it smells just like you got out of the shower. It’s probably my favorite out of all of them.

How often do you go out looking for something new? What specifically do you look for?
I look for something new every 6 months or so. My next acquisition will be Yves St. Laurent Pour Homme. That is one of the best scents to wear with a Tux.

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?
Dolce And Gabanna Light Blue is my more than once fragrance. I love its crisp notes and every time I put it on my fiancee loves to bury her head on my neck. It’s also the one that I get the most compliments on so I know it works with my natural body chemistry.

How would you finish this statement? “My most memorable fragrant moment would be…?
I was 18 years old and in the Big Bear Mountains of California. Due to jet lag I woke up way before the rest of my group and walked outside to greet the most amazing sunrise and smell of fresh mountain air I have ever experiences. I think that moment really influenced what I look for in a scent. I may even be trying to recreate it every time I look for one.


Chanel Pour Monsieur

On a Christmas 20 years ago, a high school girlfriend offered me a choice between two colognes that she may or may not have shoplifted: Chanel Pour Monsieur and something else (what it was I don’t recall). I chose without smelling either, but then it wasn’t a difficult decision: Chanel had a luxurious mystique, even to my 15-year-old mind.

I didn’t regret it. Against the other bottles on my dresser—Drakkar Noir with its pungent patchouli and oakmoss and the sharp pine and citrus of Polo—Chanel’s subtle woods shrouded by powdery notes were mature and sophisticated. Simply put, Chanel made me feel like an adult.

I wore it for a few years after that, alternating with some other colognes, until over-zealous application of all of them burnt my nose out. After about a 12-year fragrance break I gradually eased into it again and thought wistfully of my old Chanel.

One evening a few years ago, an attractive young woman walked by me at a theater, followed by a light breeze of something familiar. Suddenly I was dizzy with memories: it was Chanel Pour Monsieur. Nostalgia gave way to confusion as I pondered how it made me feel to smell an old favorite cologne on a woman (Is it still masculine? Could I wear it again after associating it with a woman?) The next day I resolved to replace my long lost bottle.

That wasn’t easy. I went to Bloomingdale’s, but the Chanel men’s scents they showed me were nothing like what I remembered. Later I went to Saks. The Chanel counter staff lined up everything they had, but again, nothing was remotely close. I asked if it might be out of production, but the Saks reps knew nothing.

Through some casual Internet research, I stumbled upon rumors of reformulations. What may have happened, I determined, was that Chanel changed its Pour Monsieur formula in about 1989. The bottle I received in 1990 was the last of the old style, which was created in 1955. The new version smelled generic to me. It didn’t have the same light lemon top notes anymore, nor the powdery finish. Those notes were replaced by something more common smelling, and decidedly less pleasant.

Fortunately, the old formula seemed to be in production still, and was available in Europe (indeed perhaps everywhere outside of the U.S.). I visited a Chanel boutique in London last summer giddy with anticipation. Would it be the same? I was disappointed at first. It did not smell the same. I spritzed my wrist anyway, and walked out of the store. A block away, it hit me: this was it! I walked straight back to the store and bought the bottle.

In Perfumes: The A to Z Guide, Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez’s indispensable fragrance bible, Turin gave Chanel Pour Monsieur five stars. Convinced that he was referring to the original and not the reformulation, I e-mailed him. His reply was quick and straightforward: “Chanel Monsieur in the U.S. seems to often be the “concentrée” version which, put plainly, sucks. The original is still good.”

An e-mail to Chanel’s consumer relations department confirmed Turin’s hypothesis: “Regrettably,” wrote my contact, “we currently only offer Pour Monsieur in an Eau de Toilette Concentrée formulation in the U.S.”

Whatever the reason, I’m grateful they haven’t quit making the older formula altogether. There’s a lesson here for those of us who find something we like: Get a really big bottle, because the manufacturer may alter it without ceremony. —Harry Sheff


Fresh Mini Eau De Parfum

One of the things I dislike most about traveling is deciding what fragrance will accompany me. With all the travel restrictions, if I want to travel lightly, many of my prized scents must stay behind.

Well, it’s no secret I’m a fan of Fresh (Fragrance Chronicles, Citron de Vigne). That’s why I knew it would be a no-brainer that I’d post about the launch of their 1 fl oz fragrance collection.

These portable beauties are being offered in six of their best selling scents: Cannabis Santal, Citron de Vigne, Sake, Sugar, Sugar Lychee and Hesperides. Here’s the kicker, for $32 they are all Eau De Parfum. You can’t beat that folks.

Smell better on vacation or after your workout or right before your next date with these portable Fresh scents.

Fresh Mini Eau de Parfum (1 fl oz) retails for $32. Available at Fresh, Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bluemercury.