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The best new men's fragrances for spring 2015
Our grooming expert Lee Kynaston cuts through the hype to select the best of spring’s new fragrance offerings
There are few sectors where hyperbole is quite as common as in the fragrance industry, where healthy profits often hinge on selling an unattainable lifestyle or unlimited rumpy. Or both. So faced with a raft of new fragrance launches for spring how do you cut through the crap? Well, I thought I’d have a go…
dunhill ICON, £73 for 100 eau de parfum. Available at dunhill boutiques now and nationwide from 30th March
The blurb says: “A future classic of the perfumer’s art, ICON gathers ingredients from the travels of the dunhill man, a worldly sophisticated traveller. The smell is exotic and distinctive.”
My nose says: Created by the same ‘nose’ who created Calvin Klein’s Eternity For Men, ICON actually plays things rather safe by opting for a raft of notes often found in men’s fragrances – from bergamot, lavender and the ubiquitous black pepper to smoky oud wood and vetiver.
The result, however, isn’t half bad. Citrusy and lightly spiced with a slightly leathery finish, it’s classically masculine, elegant and versatile enough to be worn day or night.
The cylindrical bottle, meanwhile, is murder-weapon heavy and a beautiful thing to behold – and to hold. A future classic as the blurb says, though? Only time will tell.
Sanctum, £195 for 100ml eau de parfum from sanctumsoho.com
The blurb says: “A new limited-edition fragrance for the Sanctum Hotel – London’s first Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel and an alluring haven where late night parties and eccentric fun and frivolity are an everyday occurrence.”
My nose says: Old rocker? All grown up but still got the goth gene? Then maybe this is for you. Created by perfumer Domitille Bertier, who has worked on fragrances for the likes of Jimmy Choo, Cavalli and Balenciaga, it’s a dirty, sexy blend of spicy black pepper, earthy patchouli and warm and sensual amber. With its cool black bottle and packaging emblazoned with tattoo artist Dan Gold’s famous dripping skull it looks the biz, too.
Tom Ford Noir Extreme, £70 for 50ml eau de parfum fromselfrfidges.com
The blurb says: “With Noir Extreme, Tom Ford captures that exact moment when a man reaches extreme new heights: his sophistication becomes magnetic, transfixing the world at large.”
My nose says: If you’re looking for something sweet and sexy, you’ve found your fragrance here. Don’t expect a more intense version of 2012’s excellent Tom Ford Noir though: this sophisticated woody oriental fragrance is an altogether sweeter, headier affair, bordering on the feminine and, in typical Tom Ford fashion, features an unusual accord amongst all the vanilla, rose and sandalwood: one that aims to capture the aroma of – wait for it – Indian Kulfi. But don’t worry, in terms of sophistication is more Home House than curry house. It has bags of staying power too.
Carven Pour Homme, £50 for 100ml eau de toilette fromselfridges.com
The blurb says: “An everyday indispensible, to make the ordinary extraordinary.”
My nose says: Carven launched this imaginatively titled new fragrance alongside the re-launch of an old one – Carven Vetiver. Which is the fragrance equivalent of George Lucas launching Star Wars: Episode IV at the same time as the dire one that introduced Jar Jar Binks. And so, Pour Homme – spicy, woody, aromatic – is generic and shamelessly commercial while Vetiver is an elegant, grown-up and sophisticated fragrance with delightful hints of hints of lemongrass and geranium. If you do want make the ordinary extraordinary the original, then, the latter is definitely the one to buy.
Givenchy Gentlemen Only Casual Chic £45.50 for 50ml eau de toilette. Available nationwide from May
The blurb says: "A gentleman’s natural elegance never leaves him. And when summer comes or the promise of weekend getaways is in the air, it is time for him to wear Gentlemen Only Casual Chic.”
My nose says: Not too dissimilar from the original Gentleman Only – of which this is the third incarnation – Casual Chic uses the original, warm and woody, fragrance as its starting point and adds cardamom, juniper and ginger to create something altogether fresher, spicier and more summery. It’s not the most original scent you’ll smell this spring, but is worth a punt if you’re looking for something new.
Eau de Cartier Vetiver Bleu, £45 for 50ml eau de toilette. Available exclusively from selfridges.com
The blurb says: “The olfactory promise of the credo of this Eau for men glimmers beyond the purity of a sapphire-coloured bottle, while the menthol accent of youth immediately produces a thermal shock, where warm and cool collide.”
My nose says: Never mind my nose – my brain is still trying to fathom what the blurb means. Thankfully, the fragrance itself is simpler to understand. As the name suggests, it’s based around vetiver – an ingredient extracted from the roots of a grass that lends a woody, earthy, leatheriness to fragrances but which can be a bit heavy and cloying when overdone. This vetiver fragrance, however, is unusually refreshing (that’ll be the menthol accent) and has a delicate, understated lightness that makes it perfect for work or your hols. And for those times when you want to ‘glimmer’, obviously.