Just in Time for Christmas | The Jo Malone London Orange Bitters Collection

I'm always excited to announce the latest from the Jo Malone London news desk and this week, (for the first time ever) they have extended their Orange Bitters Collection to include a Home Candle as well as the Cologne for Christmas. 

The warmest of winter cocktails. Take a dash of sweet orange and a burst of ripe mandarin. Finish with a splash of bitter orange to reveal rich prune and a base of sensual sandalwood and amber. All dressed up for Christmas.

The Orange Bitters cologne is available in 100ml and 30ml at £96 and £48 respectively, whilst the Orange Bitters Home Candle can be found at a scoop for £47.

The cologne bottle is a slightly skewed-square, trapezoid shape. Clear, with a long rounded chamber in the middle that houses the orange liquid. It's capped with a beautiful ornate gold screw dome shaped lid. 

What makes Jo Malone London such a cool gift for Christmas? 

I'm going all out this year, making everything as personal as possible. I've personalised gifts with video messages, handwritten cards and now I can utilise the Jo Malone London engraving and monogramming service to customise my Jo Malone London scent.

It's the little details that shows someone you care and that's what I love about this brand. They truly know the art of gifting. You can choose from two elegant fonts, then engrave your Cologne, Candle or Bath Oil with a personal message, a special date or monogram it with initials. 

As an official Jo Malone London ambassador I've always got the inside track, but of course you can always find more information through the Jo Malone London official website

Available in all boutiques nationwide and jomalone.co.uk 

For stockist information, please visit jomalone.co.uk or telephone +44 (0) 800 054 2411

5 x Best Christmas Box Subscription Gift for Him

Today I'm going to highlight some of the best Subscription Services I've earmarked for Christmas gifts. A subscription service is truly the gift that keeps on giving and every month someone gets reminded what a good egg you truly are. 

DiscoverBrew

You might have seen me Vlog about DiscoverBrew where I talk about the benefits of being a BrewBox subscriber. Each month 6 of the best beers arrive on my doorstep, complete with personalised vids that will describe each beer and what food you can pair it with.

The merits of the brands rest on its fantastic selection of beers. Just when you thought you knew all there was to know about craft beer you get presented with a new one and you fall in love all over again. 

Each beer in the box is hand-picked from hundreds that are tasted by the DiscoverBrew team, and only great beers make it into each box. 

Coffee 

My favourite scene from Pulp Fiction is when Quentin Tarantino gives a thrift monologue schooling Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta and indeed the entire audience on why quality coffee is so important. (Unfortunately the dialogue is far too colourful to transcribe here, but I'm sure you get my point). 

If you have someone in your life that is serious about Coffee then introduce them to Pact Coffee.

Their coffee is bought directly from the best farmers across the world then roasted in small batches at Pact HQ in Bermondsey, to ensure the very optimum quality.

Grooming

A lot of us feel begrudged leaving the house at all these days. Especially in this inclement weather and for something so perfunctory as razor blades. 

Why not save someone else the hassle as well by treating them to a razor blade subscription service by the Bearded Colonel. Made in Germany, the high water mark for quality razors.

Delivered direct to your door and small enough to fit through the letterbox so you needed hang around waiting on the postman. 

Music

A promise I've made to myself in the new year is that I'm going to rekindle my passion for vinyl. Really Carl? You're such the go-getter trend setter. 

I know, it's about 20 years too late, but I'm a sucker for nostalgia and I've already got the beard so I feel like I'm halfway there. 

If you know someone that is an avid music goer or has seen High Fidelity and   on a regular basis why not sign them up to Flying Vinyl.

They're a company that sends its members a monthly box filled with the best new alternative music printed onto beautiful 7” vinyl records. 

Shirts 

Ok well you know I'm no shrinking violet when it comes to self promotion. I like to think I tread that fine line of eagerness and persistence. My Hawkins & Shepherd shirt subscription service is the ultimate gift for that man in your life that is career driven, professional and scrupulous about his personal style. 

Save him the hassle of going out and finding new shirts every other month and keep his wardrobe enlivened with new design led, sophisticated hand crafted shirts every month 

Delicacy

Finally, avoid the hustle and bustle of the farmers markets by signing up to the Neals Yard Dairy cheese subscription service. 

Treat your palette to a wonderful myriad of different British farmhouse cheeses. If anyone is looking to get me a gift for Christmas I'll be pleased as punch to receive this. 

Ideal for people who enjoy entertaining or those who like having a few hearty pieces of cheese to hand for both cheeseboards and cooking.

*This sponsored post was created in collaboration with DiscoverBrew

Just For Men | Tips, Q&A and a New Product Release at the Gentleman's Grooming & Lifestyle Show

Just For Men were the proud sponsors for The Gentleman's Grooming & Lifestyle Show that was hosted at the Old Truman Brewery last weekend. It was a truly a memorable event, galvanising so many grooming experts and likeminded individuals. 

It almost felt serendipitous that it happened on the weekend when there were no premier league games. For one rare lunar eclipse in the football calendar men had to find other modes of conversation and Just For Men offered a tremendous landscape for us to converse, share tips, beard-enlightenment I'd like to call it. 

Just For Men were just one of 50 Exhibitors that varied from fashion, male beauty and surgical cosmetics. 

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We were given a live demonstration by Just For Men ambassador Carlie Firth of RUGER barbers. A man that had an uncanny resemblance to a bearded Jake Gyllenhaal sat patiently as Carlie weaved a Just For Men Moustache & Beard application brush evenly through his beard. 

At first I was slightly bemused as to why he needed any treatment at all. The gentleman's beard was not grey. But as Carlie proceeded to highlight, it's not just grey hair that some guys could do with addressing.

Someone with a light or pale beard will also benefit in having their beard enlivened with a richer colour. As you'll see in the before and after pictures, the beard looks richer, thicker and healthier.

 

Bonus tip

If unsure on your shade, go for the lighter option first - you can always go darker later on.

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New Products

As well as the traditional Just For Men Moustache & Beard and the Control GX grey reducing shampoo and conditioner that I was kindly gifted at the event, I also got my hands on the brand new Just For Men Best Ever Beard Oil. 

It smells fantastic and feels like it was engineered specifically for me because it delivers a high performance solution for managing and manipulating course facial hair. Made from natural oils, with Jojoba oil, Eucalyptus, Rosemary and Vitamin E. Keep an eye out for this one, a great gift for someone looking to promote their grooming game.


Any tips? 

After the demonstration the VIP's (yep, I made it passed the velvet rope) I attended the Q&A to get some useful tips from Carli. 

Q> How much beard oil should I use? We all have varying lengths of facial hair and I'm always mindful of not putting enough in, or too much? For a medium length hair like mine how much should I apply? 

So after you've applied the Just For Men Best Face and Beard Wash Ever and Best Beard Conditioner Ever, you should apply the beard oil by hand. It's always down to personal choice on how much you apply. Some people like having the oil enable a glistening beard, but bear in mind the oil is designed to be absorbed by the follicles. 

I normally recommend 3-4 drops of the Just For Men Beard Oil as a starting base, for dark beards like yours (mine) I would say start at 4 to give it a shine and lift. If it has too much glow then reduce as required but always spread evenly and apply last in your grooming regime. 

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Huge thanks to all the team at Just For Men for inviting me down to the event. I certainly hope the Truman Brewery will play host again next year and I recommend every man come down, there's something for everyone. 

 *This sponsored post was created in collaboration with Just For Men.

UOMO Salvadore Ferragamo Signature | Fragrance Review

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Today I want to talk about UOMO Salvadore Ferragamo Signature Fragrance, the third instalment in their fragrance collection. I've been road-testing this fragrance for the past week, but before I give you mine and my friends feedback, we should speak about the original. 

In 2016 the UOMO Salvadore Ferragamo was introduced to market, with its flanker the UOMO Casual Life in 2017. The latter being more summer targeted, more youthful and as it says on the bottle, 'casual'. 

The UOMO Salvadore Ferragamo Signature Fragrance is more of a return to the original, with a darkened sensibility. Famously referred to as the Tiramisu fragrance for that piercing, unapologetic wave of sweet coffee. 

The bottle is black, built like a futuristic hip flask. Muscular and sits in your palm without compromise. 

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Initial thoughts 

On first spray you'll have that inevitable, creamy-coffee opening. The Tonka bean will come through and that odd, reassuring air of nostalgia to the original hugs you like a long distant friend. 

It simmers down with some grapefruit, the patchouli arrives in time to take you on a wistful journey. It has an oriental flavour to this fragrance, but not overly complex. It lacks a certain mystery, but that's fine. 

Further Thoughts 

As I sat with the fragrance, walked around the flat, I had this odd sense that I was under dressed. I've never felt that way with a fragrance before. That is somehow demanded a better wardrobe than the jeans and hoody I was sporting. 

It did morph into something else, maybe the Tonka bean and the leather started to really push through. 

What others thought  

I didn't get many wow reaction to this on first wear. I wore it to a couple of events, the Gentleman’s Grooming Show, a recent trip to France for Laurent-Perrier. However, I started to get more reaction from women, in fact to put it bluntly, this was tailor made for women. 

Guys just don't want to get onboard with the sweetness, but women were more in favour. Plus it had that undertone of leather to offer just the verisimilitude of rugged masculinity. 

Smells like? 

I've heard some people refer to this as the new POLO Red Extreme, probably because of the Tonka bean reference. I've got that fragrance in my locker and it's not as rich as Extreme. Possibly because it's a little more synthesised. (I'm guessing, don't quote). 

Others talk about it being the new CH for Men, (Carolina Herrera) I'd agree to some extent. It lacks the woodiness of CH, and isn't as pretentious. But it does have that even-keel balance of keeping it light, latte-sweet whilst ensuring a black-tie-esque sophistication. 

Final thoughts

It's more polished than the Casual Life, it has decent silage (4-5 hours) and I love coffee so this UOMO Salvadore Ferragamo Signature Fragrance really speaks to me. 

It's a bit like the Rocky films. The original is better than the other two, but the 3rd is much better than the sequel. Come on, Mr T. That said the 4th with Ivan Drago was the most fun so I'm looking forward to next year. Stay tuned. 

 

Jo Malone London | Men's Christmas Gift Sets

For the first time in the history of Jo Malone London, they are presenting 2 dedicated Men’s Collections for Christmas. Jo Malone London are incontestable pioneers in the art of giving and thankfully for us gentlemen, after much lobbying from yours truly, they have subverted the rules. 

I got an awesome response from my last Jo Malone London Back to School post where I learnt to finish a candle, tie a bow to a box (much needed for my Christmas gifts) and how to combine a fragrance.

I've already chalked up a Top 5 Jo Malone London scents listicle and I was honoured to be the first UK Menswear blogger to report the Huntsman X Jo Malone London Fragrance release last month. (I tried to incept the 'makes perfect scents' into the zeitgeist, but alas...). 

I'm super-excited about these new men's collections that I was sent in the post. They are sleek, in black sets congruent with many of my go-to colour palettes for clothes, interiors etc. 

First New Men’s Set: ‘English Oak & Hazelnut 30ml Cologne and Basil & Neroli Body & Hand Wash’ (£62)

Second New Men’s Set: ‘Wood Sage & Sea Salt 100ml Cologne and Black Cedarwood & Juniper Duo’ (£109)

Both of these Jo Malone London Men’s Collections are now available to purchase.  Find the closest one to you, available in 55 countries worldwide, by searching visiting their online store.

Jo Malone London are the synthesis between aspirational grooming and fantasy gift-giving. These colognes emit masculinity, project strongly and have incredible silage. Perfect for any Christmas black tie parties. 

Ladies I'd say this is a perfect gift for that sophisticated man in your life. The Jo Malone London Men's Collections could offer a much needed departure from his lacklustre grooming routine. 

When The Stars Align | The Male Grooming Constellation Gift Set

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I know you'll all be inundated with Christmas Wishlist's and gift guides this year. However, I only want to deliver the gifting ideas that will save you time and save you money. Today I want to introduce you to The Grooming Constellation by Estee Lauder Companies.

I constantly talk about how you can't go wrong with skin care, grooming and hair care products for Christmas gifts. I personally only wish people buy me these products as I can guarantee they'll get used. (The same can't always be said for that random snow globe that gets swiftly moved onto the charity shops). 

The Grooming Constellation is the perfect gift for the man in your life. Wait wait wait, that's press release talk. That sentence makes me sound like I'm writing for Beefcake Magazine. Please allow me to start over. 

If you're looking to get some Christmas gifts for him this year, The Grooming Constellation has just launched an exclusively designed limited edition box featuring iconic products from some of the world’s leading men’s brands such as Clinique for men lab, Lab Series, Aveda & More…

How it arrives? 

This is the best thing. You don't have to burn any extra calories wrapping up these gifts individually. Be a little greener this year people. This Grooming Constellation gift set comes in a neat square cubed box, adorned with an intriguing constellation motif. 

Who should I get this for? 

Ladies, your other half will thank you kindly for this. Us guys aren't one for cosmetic shopping, although we love the products, we like the baby without the birth if you get the expression. 

This screams great buddy gift. Dispense with those useless drinking hats or 'Best Dad' mugs this year and get him something he can truly utilise. 

The perfect gift with an amazing saving!

Launching Tuesday 6th November for only £39, worth over £114. 

FRAGRANCE DIRECT | My Christmas Fragrance Picks

I consider fragrances to be the skeleton key of Christmas gifts. No one can turn their nose up (pardon the pun) to a decent fragrance when it comes in the guise of a Christmas gift. It works on so many levels; you get to be the stylish arbiter of someone’s scent, they get to inject a room with nice aromas courtesy of your generosity. 


But how do I know what fragrance someone likes? 

I associate that sentiment with, well which kind of woman do you normally go for Carl? Let me tell you something for free. Hot is hot. I'm not prejudice towards any make or mould.

"Hot" as the Americans say, or "Fit" as we Brits like to say, transcends all genres. 

Now apply that logic to fragrance. 

If the bottle looks well presented, the fragrance projects well, sits close to the skin, has decent silage and smells luxurious, then I'm going to like. And so is the person you're gifting it too. 


Fragrance shopping made easy 

That's what I love most about shopping with Fragrance Direct. They house all the best marquee names under one roof, indexed this season into 3 easy categories; for her, for him and new launches, as part of their ‘Festive Fragrance Wonderland’ Christmas theme. 

There a select number of brands to feature which include Gucci, Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, Chloe, Marc Jacobs, Joop and Lacoste.


Which ones did you choose Carl? 

Thanks for asking. I'll be honest, it was a coin toss to see if I was just going to gift myself some nice scents this year. (Happens to us all right?) I still might, the prices are the best I've seen on the web. 


NEW FOR 2018

I have a friend who is a Hugo Boss nut so this will be perfect for him. I especially like the bottle, I'm a huge proponent of Black Tea in anything, be it after shave, cheesecake, you name it. HUGO URBAN JOURNEY is a fragrance for the modern urban explorer and embodies the intense aromatic heart of Black Tea, which is reinforced by the masculine Guaiacwood to fuel you with a daring new energy. 


FOR HER

I can't say who this is for because she reads the blog, but this Gucci Guilty Gift Set is an absolute banker for a Christmas gift. This Gift Set includes 90ml Eau de Parfum Spray, 50ml Body Lotion and 7.4ml Roller Ball. Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Femme is a non-traditional women’s fragrance created for a contemporary woman. 

Yes I'll be looking forward to smelling this on her as well. 


FOR HIM

Yes another Boss number. I'm a huge fan of The Scent myself, the bottle is designed as such to look like a cage, a fragrance so powerful it needs to be behind bars. (It's true, I have credible sources). 

This Gift Set includes 100ml Eau de Toilette Spray, 75ml Deodorant Stick and a 50ml Shower Gel.
BOSS Parfums is expertly crafted to reflect the strong personality of the BOSS Man and Woman.

 

Summary

Just to recap on why I'm plugging Fragrance Direct.

  • Easy to use

  • A bevy of options for both men and women 

  • Great prices, not seen cheaper anywhere else online

  • Free delivery over £20 

  • Perfect Christmas gifts for those difficult people that you never know what to get

 

*This sponsored post was created in collaboration with Fragrance Direct.

Jo Malone London | My Top 5 Fragrances

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I struggle to find a better phrase that encapsulates the spirit of Jo Malone scents than the description on their website "Think of Jo Malone London as the Savile Row of scent: finding a precise ‘fit’, a scented statement perfectly suited and tailored to your taste." 

This Savile Row connection is a poignant one fresh on the back of their collaboration with Huntsman, tailor to the Kingsman movie franchise. 

I flirted with each in the previous post. However, now I've had time to ponder, ruminate; pace around the flat externalising obnoxiously in a grandiloquent manner to absolutely no one, (my new favourite past time) I've adjusted my conclusions which I will share for you here. 


Amber & Patchouli

For lavish evenings, entombed with the presence of amber. A scintillating pairing, blended measurably with deep, characterful patchouli. The darkest of all the Jo Malone London offerings. What Jo Malone does better than Tom Ford, and Killian, is manage to be linear, whilst taking you on a labyrinthine journey of mysterious spices. It achieves that by introducing elements of Oriental exoticism. It's velvety, it's profound, it lasts a day longer on the fabric but sadly the silage lets it down for me. The only reason why it's in at number 5. 

Where can I wear it? 

I'm going to save this one for the 3rd date scent. Just when she thinks she’s got you all figured out. 


Orange Bitters

A hearty scent perfect for Winter. It hasn't quite the hubris of the English Oak which I'll come to later, but certainly comes packed with an insouciant bravado. That's achieved by the 'off the leash' citrus opening that develops seamlessly into a woody (Sandalwood) dry down. It's got the linger of dried plums, it's evocative, it's elegant, maybe a little understated but conversely, unvanquishable in its delivery.  

Where can I wear it? 

I'm going to save this for the afternoon press days. There will be a whole bunch of these coming up to Christmas and it's a playful scent, hopefully will make me very approachable. 

 

Myrrh & Tonka

This Jo Malone London Myrrh & Tonka someone once described to me as 'Christmas in a bottle'. It has everything you associate with Christmas, even the name! It's the best projecting of all the Jo Malone scents. You'll be instantly put at ease with the opening of lavender. Then the rush of Myrrh brings some chop to the waters before the whole balance is evened out with the Almond and Tonka bean base notes. 

It's disarming with the lavender, because you expect it to be something it's not. Have you ever watched a film at the cinema, but found the trailer has mis-sold the film entirely? This Jo Malone London Myrrh & Tonka scent is the facsimile to a film that reveals itself in a much better light than the trailer would have you expect. 

Where would I wear it? 

Yes it's cliche, but the works Christmas party is a must. It encapsulates the elegance of Jo Malone and will be the last scent standing at the party thanks to it's marathon-esque silage. 

 

English Oak & Hazelnut

I mentioned the hubris of the Jo Malone English Oak & Hazelnut before and that's because it's unapologetically imperialistic. Another friend once cited this as arriving like a Tyson left hook. I corrected him instantly by saying that Tyson is a natural left hander, but he by and large a self confessed-righty. If you see all pictures of Mike Tyson he holds microphones with his right hand and signs autographs with his left hand. It just so happens he knocked out most opponents with his left hand because he threw that first.  

I digress, but the point I'm getting to is that the Jo Malone English Oak & Hazelnut is neither a Tyson right or left hand, but a Tyson uppercut. It's woody essence is so earthy, it projects like something has sprouted underneath you. A delicious sucker-punch devoid of all things saccharin, undeniably masculine. 

Where would I wear it? 

First date. Always come with the goods on a first date. Nowadays we're not allowed the luxury of delayed gratification in the dating sphere. Bring out the big guns and go in blazing. 


Wood Sage & Sea Salt

In at number one with a bullet. Yes the Wood Sage & Sea Salt is the tour de force oeuvre of perfumer Christine Nagel, who modestly quotes this as 'a little different'. It has that remarkable skill of evoking both the ethereal elements of a free spirit and the grounded elements of nature. It has the most star wattage of all the scents because of it's complexity. It's lustre. 

You can imagine this being modelled by Chris Hemsworth sanding down his boat on the lip of an molested stretch of beach. The wind gorging his hair, the sand weaving its way through his stubble. 

It's optimistic, it's sophisticated, it's not the most distinguished (Orange Bitters holds that mantle) but it's the most endearing. 

Where would I wear it? 

As Apollo Creed said repeatedly to Rocky Balboa, 'hey man, anywhere any time'. 


 

 

Back to School with Jo Malone London

One of the most frequent questions I get asked as a blogger is 'what is the best event you've been to?' Alongside with 'how do I make money blogging?' and 'Carl can I have your hand-me-downs? You're not going to wear that £700 Karl Lagerfeld Jacket are you?' 

The recent Jo Malone London School is right up there with the best event I've been to this year. As for the rest of the questions, 

  1. Will tell all in my new book called 'Don't set your emails to Out of Office, it's God Damn annoying'. 

  2. I will be wearing this jacket into the ground so get lost. 


Let me tell you about Jo Malone London School 

It was an incredible 2 day event that I cordially invited to and was honoured to be their only London Male Ambassador. The spirit of the campaign was themed around the education of Jo Malone the brand and their products in what was described in the press release as 'A Thoroughly British School Trip'. 

A private car escorted me to the Rosewood Hotel where we enjoyed a welcome breakfast in the Scarfe's Bar. A resplendent bar adorned of course with Jo Malone scented candles. The roof aligned with two spherical-caged chandeliers, a library at one end punctuating an elongated Ruffle’s-esque bar. 

I can't remember school being this much fun. The only thing my school could rhapsodise about was an extortionately priced vending machine, this event had the Zoltar Machine from the movie Big, a teddy picker with Jo Malone gifts and an Air Hockey table. 

The evening was capped with a Scented Supper at Kettner’s Townhouse. (Any excuse to whip out the Chester Barrie grey velvet jacket). 

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Between all the tom-foolery which featured traditional British Pub Quiz & Dinner at The Albion, we were sequestered to attend the Jo Malone London Townhouse. 

There we truly learnt how he fudge was packed. How to finish a candle, tie a bow to a box (much needed for my Christmas gifts) how to combine a fragrance. All very antiquated with old school settings such as the swivel-chalkboard. Singular flip-lid study desks. All those modern day communal work desks are for the birds. Give me these Dickensian props any day of the week.

At the end of class I was a cigarette paper distance away from standing on the desk and harking 'Oh captain my captain'. Alas, I showed restraint in fear my Dead Poets Society reference would be lost on my younger classmates.

I can't imagine how much work went into staging this event. The presentation and execution was some of the best I'd seen. I'm deeply honoured to be part of this Jo Malone experience and share tales of their journey with you. Stay tuned for future articles from me as I can tell you Jo Malone will be moving further into male orientated genres in the new year. 

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My Top 5 'Killer' Kilian Fragrances

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Everyone is an artist these days. You take a birds eye picture of your dinner, put it through a clever filter, come up with a creative hashtag, it's now art right? Well if you believe that you can get the hell out of my office. 

True artists, create something from nothing. Brands like Kilian aren't content on hodge-podging a bunch of exotic fragrances for our consumption and calling it a life. They carefully curate each liquid with fastidious diligence. All presented in a box that looks like it had just been excavated from a pharaohs temple. 

You may have guessed already that I'm sentimental towards Kilian fragrances. It's been another tough one for me to discern a list of favourites. But I've had a go. 


My Top 5 Kilian Fragrances 

Gold Knight 

By the way each of these names sounds like unused Star Wars titles. In at number 5, is Gold Knight. Kilian Hennessy really delivers a potent Autumn/Winter fragrance. The intrepid dark sensuousness of patchouli fused with the ebullient bergamot and anise, caressed and cosseted with the warm golden shimmer of vanilla and honey will put your partners senses in a headlock around Winter Wonderland this year. 


Dark Lord

Unbelievably this is the exact name I gave my ... wait no, can't say that on here. The best word in the English language is titillation obviously, but the second best is Gunmetal. Here the Dark Lord bottle has an Achilles' Heel embossed onto the flacon with extra Gunmetal details. 

And if you've ever wondered what the nuanced dry-down of jasmine drenched in Rum smells like, then this is the scent for you. 


Noir Aphrodisiaque

Sounds like a German graffiti artist that everybody has magically heard of but you. 

This is the sort of fragrance you put on and feel instantly weaponised. It has strident notes of dark chocolate yet is also sweet and spicy. It sits close to the skin so is perfect for those close encounters. It's found its rightful place on the podium. 


Black Phantom 

Ooof just missed top billing. Black Phantom has a lot in common with Noir Aphrodisiaque in that Samuel Jackson is mooted to play both roles in the upcoming Avengers movie. Of course I jest. 

Black Phantom, is created from the same palette of warm spices and sweetness from sugar cane, this fragrance also touches notes such as rum and coffee.


Straight to Heaven 

Oh baby, in with a bullet, Straight to Heaven. It has more wood than a Ron Jeremy boxset. But it's also got that mystery vibe to it. A complexity that I admire. Delicate tickles of dried fruits, nutmeg and amber. It's my go-to black tie fragrance and I can tell you, it does what it says on the tin. Truly a work of art.


SHOP MY TOP 5 KILIAN FRAGRANCES

 

My Tom Ford Top 5 Fragrances | Including the New Ombré Leather

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I must get a 1000 emails a day asking what my favourite Tom Ford fragrance is. Not really, but it's the reason the terrorists hate us. We get to spend ten minutes every morning deliberating on whether we want to smell of Tuscan or Ombre leather. What a life right? Seriously it's really been the agony of choice putting this list together, but here it is:

5. Tobacco Vanille 

I refer to this scent as the Dalton of the Blu-Ray box set. (Stay with me). It's animalistic yet sophisticated, refined yet rugged. I enjoy when I'm wearing it, however it's never my go-to. But that's only because the others are so damn good. 

4.  Noir de Noir

The spice elements in Noir de Noir make this the perfect Black Tie after shave. I like to put this on my wrists before heading out to award shows, or upmarket press dinners. It stays close to the skin so having it on the wrists is better for projection. What's more the silage is so good that I know I'll still be smelling good right through the after parties. 

 

3. Plum Japonais

Yes Japanese plum and cinnamon. Amazing fragrance that is possibly the best Autumn/Winter fragrance you can own. It's dark, has an element of mystery and exudes masculinity with a woody (oud) dry-down. Imagine yourself cuddling up to the missus in Winter Wonderland, wishing it wasn't £10 for a glass of mulled wine. 

 

2. Tuscan Leather 

You know how you can't have Rocky 4 as your favourite Rocky but secretly it's your favourite. This Tuscan Leather fits right into that slot. A guilty pleasure to be enjoyed socially, amongst the spoils of the unapologetic elite. Yes, I'm talking about Private Members clubs. Trinity Square, Home House, concierges, cigars in front of the fireplace. I'm talking about that private jet you hired just so you can smoke that Romeo & Juliette in 1st class. (Ok I've taken it too far, but you get my point rich white-y). 

 

1. Ombre Leather

1. Yes Top of the list, A number One, top of the heap. The Tom Ford Ombre Leather. We all like new shiny things don't we. But this 2018 release is the best in the range. It has all the woody-fruitiness of its predecessors but a better balance. The scent is very linear, meaning there's zero fuss, unambiguous. Plus it has the coolest name, and I can't help saying it to myself when I pick it up of the shelf. 

SHOP MY TOP 5 TOM FORD FRAGRANCES

Jo Malone and Huntsman Collab | Makes Scents I Suppose

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This week I attended a dinner with some handsome souls to witness the release of the new fragrance collaboration between Jo Malone and Huntsman Savile Row. I'm a huge fan of each of these quintessentially British brands and it's great seeing these two juggernauts within their respected industries join forces. 

I've mentioned it countless times before, but I love it when the right people come together and make things happen. One of the biggest crimes of the last century is that Grace Jones and Dolph Lundgren never had any kids. Those two were specimens, in their peak the best athletes on the face of the earth had they borne a child, it would be flying around right now catching planes falling out the sky. 

I digress. 

The bottles are beautifully appointed, dressed for success in a distinctive bottle, decorated with Huntsman's gold typography and a matte burgundy cap.

The four refined fragrances are as follows. 

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AMBER & PATCHOULI COLOGNE

For lavish evenings, entombed with the presence of amber. A scintillating pairing, blended measurably with deep, characterful patchouli.

ASSAM & GRAPEFRUIT COLOGNE

The luring smokiness of guaiacwood. Like Mariella Frostrup's voice, late 90's. (I've not heard it for the past 20 years as she's not been on the telly as much. I can only imagine it's got smokier but I can't attest to that). It's lively, full bodied and seductive. (The scent, not Mariella Frostrup. Although I bet Mariella is also those things, but having never met the lady, I can't attest to that either). 

BIRCH & BLACK PEPPER COLOGNE

The initial notes will project a citrus burst of grapefruit. As it settles, the  black tea note of Assam simmer through seamlessly, unfolding like the last ten minutes of an Agatha Christie Murder Mystery. 

It has a herbal, forest-floor vibe and would is on the crest of being intrusive, yet shows restraint just at the last. 

WHISKY & CEDARWOOD COLOGNE

Anything with Cedarwood gets my spider-senses tingling. Wait, no wrong way round. Anything with Whisky in I should say. (But spray responsibly).  Fused with the cool spiciness of black pepper and cardamom, juxtaposed with smoky birch and an accord of magnetic ink. 

 

The new collection is available at jomalone.co.uk, select Jo Malone London Boutiques and Huntsman, Savile Row from October 2018.

Photo Credit @archiebrooksbank

Heath Grooming Products | Fighting the Urban Sprawl

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Back in the Summer I spoke about one of my hero finds, Heath Skincare and Grooming products. I appreciate the value of a working family relationship and knowing that Heath was is run by a father-and-son duo, only further enamoured me towards the brand.

A quick sidebar on the father son thing. Think on how many hours you spend a week feeding what I call the virtual farm. As a public figure I have to dedicate a fair slice of my diary keeping up appearances on social media. Posting, replying, commenting, retweeting, thumbs up etc 

Which is fine, I don't mind. 

But how about you shave just five minutes off that time, can give your old man a call. You never know a call could lead to something, an idea could snowball and who knows, you could both be launching your own version of Heath someday. 

I digress. 

In just a few short months, Heath have now expanded the range to seven products – Face Wash, Cream Shave, Post Shave Repair, Moisturiser, Hair + Body Wash, Rescue: Hair + Body Wash, and Hand Salve – all of which fit into the modern man’s daily routine. 

I've also been mindful of this dreaded Blue Light that has been keeping me awake at night. I wrote about the cause and effects of Blue Light in another article. With that in mind I was pleased to discover the Heath Moisturiser has been formulated with Soliberine® NAT to help protect skin from Blue Light.

As an antidote to the mundanity of city sprawl, us men often pursue more natural environments for our headspace, and this includes our grooming choices.

HEATH has been formulated with high potency natural ingredients and new-generation actives (derived from naturals) in a range that’s ideally suited to the daily skin concerns of the modern urban man.

Edward James | My Hair Salutes You | Keratin Hair Treatment Experience

I've been asked a bunch of times by friends and contemporaries, how long do I plan to keep on blogging? How many times can one review beard oils, how can you keep on finding new ways to describe the projection of Cedarwood in grooming products? 

My answer? So long as I have hair on my head. I am duty bound to exploit my lustrous head of hair; live vicariously for my follicle-y challenged chums. 

Most recently I was cordially invited to visit the luxurious salon of Celebrity hairstylist Edward James. Edward James has spent 20 years perfecting the art of good hair and is the catwalk creative behind brands such as Stella McCartney and Chanel.

His passion and commitment, expert knowledge and artistic eye make him one of the UK’s most heralded and sought-after stylists.

“Our philosophy always remains the same, to create beautiful manageable bespoke hair for each of our clients,” says James.  "And our team is always striving to create new and innovating ways to enable our clients to be the best and most polished versions of themselves”.

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Edward is wildly charismatic and a great conversationalist. It was a great experience meeting him in his Clapham salon (he also has one in Putney) and my hair never looked better. 

However, it was the added extras that made the whole experience such a delight. I felt like a Saudi Prince as I was treated to a massage during my short wait with some relaxing oils. During the wash I got to further enjoy the feeling of relaxation in the massage chairs. 

It's so important to have trust in your barber. Before I even sat down in the chair this emanated throughout the experience. I scrutinise everything. How old are the magazines on the table? How good is the coffee? Do they even offer coffee? 

Along with his creative team at Edward James’s Salons & Spas, James has won numerous industry awards including ‘Salon of the Year’ and ‘Business of the Year’ and remains committed to reaching ever higher; as he continues to build on his creativity, drawing new inspiration as he strives to reshape the global beauty landscape.

Edward James ticked all the right boxes and having him on my doorstep here in Clapham is a Godsend. How can one ever give up blogging? My hair would never forgive me. 

BVLGARI MAN Wood Essence Fragrance Review

In this article I'm going to be reviewing the BVLGARI MAN Wood Essence Fragrance, a woody professional fragrance that definitely errs on the side of masculine. Produced by one of the most respected noses in the business, Master of Masters Alberto Morillas.


The Bottle 

I do love the lock in screw cap. It delivers a good click, it has a secure gratifying sound to it. The colours are neither here nor there for me. It has a meaty feel in your hand, a definite presence on the shelf, but the taupe and green haven't got the presence of a BVLGARI Man in Black cologne. It feels a bit safe. 


The Notes 

It does what it says on the bottle. You'll get a very clear hit of Cedarwood and Cyprus wood. That's why I'd say this a predominately masculine scent. I doubt the girlfriend would want to be stealing this one for a night out. 

There is some nice citrus notes that will come through before it sits close to the skin. It does leave a nice scent trail, but it's not a huge projecting scent. 

It does have Ambergris in. And of course we've all know what Ambergris is from the scene out of Hannibal right? 

Where would I wear BVLGARI MAN Wood Essence Fragrance?

It's not strong enough for Black Tie. Yes it leaves a nice trail but it doesn't get far across the room. I'd say this is a very work orientated scent. If you'd like to smell good on the commute or in the office, then this will be perfect. 

When someone leans over you to fetch the hole puncher, this will be a subtle and provoking scent, but it won't climb over the desk to the hot new intern you're looking to impress. 

Some of my contemporaries have remarked on the silage going for the entire working day. I personally got half a day and needed to top up after lunch. 

Would I buy BVLGARI MAN Wood Essence Fragrance?

I would, because I like the woodiness that sits on my skin. I don't like to overpower people in a work environment. I go to a lot of business meetings and often struggle to have find that nice sweet spot of not too citrus and sweet (Summer Picnic), and not too black tie (Royal Opera). 

I just wish it had more of a chime about its look. A great example is Haig Club. You might have your reservations about single grain whisky, but that bottle is something to reach for. I can't say that about this. 

Available in 60ml or 100ml from FeelUnique. Expect to pay £80 for the 100ml. 

Estée Lauder turns off the Blue Light with New Advanced Night Repair Products

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As leaders in skin-related circadian research and its importance in skin’s natural nightly renewal, Estée Lauder has introduced New Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex Synchronized Recovery. 

This revolutionary recovery gel enables the prevention and repairs the visible impact on skin of modern day assaults, including lack of sleep, UV, pollution and even exposure to blue light at night.

What is Blue Light? 

Sounds like something you'd see David Gandy splash on his face and neck before diving off a cliff face into body of water. In fact Blue Light Blue light is a very short wavelength that emits an incredible amount of energy. Studies suggest that, over time, exposure to the blue end of the light spectrum could cause serious long-term damage to your eyes. 

These findings show, for the first time that blue light impacts skin cells’ natural night-time rhythm. This means that night-time blue light exposure can inhibit the skin’s natural night-time renewal, which may result in accelerated skin aging.

The eyes are always a huge giveaway on how old someone looks. Why do you think Bono wears those glasses all the time? Sure, he bemoans about some sensitive eye condition. Please Bono. It's the same reason why Kiss wear make-up, you can carry on touring well into your seventies and no one will ask you when you plan on retiring. 

How have Estee Lauder turned off the Blue Light? 

Estée Lauder scientists designed a special incubator “blue light chamber”, and conducted a series of in vitro experiments to research the effect of blue light from LED light on skin cells.

They have manufactured a NEW Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex Synchronized Recovery specifically for the delicate eye are skin, which is 40% thinner than other facial skin. 

The Results? 

The Night Repair Eye is ergonomically designed to reduce the look of every key sign of eye aging, including lines, puffiness and dryness; enhancing the look of dark circles in just three weeks. (You reading this Bono? We can do away with the pretence, finally! 

USAGE Apply AM and PM to clean skin around eye area. Dermatologist and ophthalmologist-tested. Patented until 2033. Proven for all ethnicities.

RRP: £45.00 NEW Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex Synchronized Recovery will be available exclusively to Selfridges & Brown Thomas from late July 2018 and Nationwide from August 2018. 

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American Crew Introduce ACUMEN | Premium Men's Grooming Products

It's not every day you get to meet a legend. But it's been something of a 'meet the legend week' for me so far. Check out my blog post about my night at the GQ Awards, but for now let me talk about meeting David Ruccuglia, the founder of American Crew! 

One of the most charismatic, unassuming, yet at the same time wildly fascinating and gregarious souls I've yet to encounter. David started American Crew mixing products in his house, playing a various assortment of fragrances and scents. The backstory reads like a Roald Dahl novel (Georges Marvellous Medicine reference there for you Millennials) and he struck gold when he went to Japan and chanced across a water based pomade that didn't exist back in the US. 

The US pomades long ago were very greasy and you commit to several washing to get the residue from your scalp. Not a pleasant experience. With this discovery David began his obsession with male grooming and launched his Brand American Crew in 1990. 

Since then American Crew's styling products have all centred around the expression of excellence and attaining masterful poise the American Crew acumen assembly of products was created with the successful man in mind.

Cue the music and the dry ice, tonight Matthew, I'm going to be Mr Success. (Rapturous applause). That at least was the inner dialogue as David snapped away. Can you believe he was taking pictures of me? The day couldn't get any more surreal. 

 

 

American Crew introduce ACUMEN

I'm already a huge proponent of American Crew grooming products, so was buoyed by the news of a new product launch; ACUMEN,  a line of scientifically formulated products with proprietary ingredients to fit a mans grooming needs, available exclusively in Selfridges

American Crew, the official supplier to men, is proud to announce the latest innovation in men's personal care.

'As the official supplier to men we hope to inspire men to groom with confidence each day,' said David. 'Acumen brings a level of sharpness, sophistication and aspiration to the skin care beard grooming and body care routine.'

Being the unyielding gatekeepers to Grooming tradition, the Acumen collection  of grooming and skincare products are formulated exclusively for men who have specific issues and needs due to their male hormone levels, oily skin, thick skin, large pores, sweating and the inevitable dreaded ageing. 

 

 

What's so different about Acumen? 

You might want to know a couple of the ingredients so I've sketched some down for you. The Acumen products contain both Vitamin B5 and E and are fused with superior performance hyaluronic acid, ginger root extract, bisabolol and cranberry extract to increase blood flow retain moisture fight free radicals. How do you like those apples?

In total there are 15 products in the range specifically engineered to fit a man’s tone texture and grooming needs designed as a regime of 4 steps covering shower, shave care and style. 

Introducing the Evo Square Pucks | Men's Haircare

These past couple of weeks I've been road testing some of the professional hair products from EVO. Recently EVO have revamped their packaging and dispensed with the cardboard boxes and round packaging and have introduced a new and improved square look for box o’ bollox, cassius, crop strutters and the newly formulated casual act.

(Box o' bollox eh? Sure why not I'll have a box o’ bollox please. It sounds better if you order it in a Noel Coward voice). 

 

Who are EVO? 

EVO hold a strong party line on innovation. They manufacturer with individuality and integrity; and want to be seen as a manufacturer that speaks the truth. If Abraham Lincoln was around he'd be calling EVO a professional hair product by the people, for the people. Of course he'd need to take off his top hat for the promo adverts. 

 

Do they have organic ingredients? 

I know it's all the rage, we have to know exactly where everything is sourced and precisely how many monkeys were killed in the process of making it.

I'm happy to announce no animals were harmed, in fact you’ll find certified cruelty free products that are gluten, sulphate, paraben, dea, tea and propylene glycol free.

 

What other products are in the EVO range? 

Aside from the aforementioned box o’ bollox, you'll also find cassius, crop strutters and the newly formulated casual act. Box o’ bollox, (I can't stop saying that, I do hope Googles spiders won't be punishing me. Away with you Google spiders, go knock on Tom Ford's door. He's got real swear words in his perfume range) cassius and crop strutters contain the same great formulas while causal act has undergone a complete revamp. think better shape, better formula.

 

My thoughts on the EVO range

I'm pro saving the planet, like the move guys. As far as the products go I also like how it's water soluble, non greasy. The new formula provides increased separation, almost reupholsters my hair with texture and style versatility.

They are fairly ubiquitous these days. Readily available in most reputable salons.

 

Tom Ford Fougère D'argent | Fragrance Review

Today I'm going to be giving my verdict on Tom Ford Fougère D'argent which I've been road-testing for the past couple of weeks. The ardent Tom Ford fans can get amazingly squabble-some when it comes to which is their favourite fragrance from Tom Ford. I'm personally divided between the Plum Japanois, Tuscan leather and Tobacco Vanille. All are classy fragrances that project amazingly well and reflect my ambitious style.

But now we have the Fougère D'argent Fragrance, the agony of choice! It comes in different sizes, 50ml, 100ml and 250ml. Word on the street is that the 100ml is hard to come by, but as of today I can tell you that all sizes are available from Harvey Nichols for £162, £238 and £395 with free UK delivery.

As ever Tom Ford has flexed his muscles on the pulpit of luxury, despite being chagrined at the price point there is no denying that since leaving Gucci and starting out on his own in 2005, he has established himself as an incredible tour de force as a designer and now a prominent disrupter in the world of perfumery.

 

 

What's Tom Ford Fougère D'argent Fragrance like?

Firstly, the bottle is brick-ish, bold, heroic; it looks like it could pull you out of a house fire it's that heroic. I think it is masculine, both in aesthetics and in smell, despite this being marketed as a unisex fragrance.

It's classy with a gold square lid and has the Tom Ford insignia across it.

You'll only need a couple of pumps because it's strong, immediate. 3-4 max. You'll initially get a citrus vibe as the mandarin orange, ginger and lavender comes out of the traps first.

It will sit, before the middle notes of labdanum and akigalawood middle notes start to take shape.

What are these middle notes?

Labdanum is extracted from boiling leaves and twigs and has enjoyed a renaissance of late because it's seen as a close second to Ambergris which has been banned in most countries.

Akigalawood was actually the name of my reggae band in secondary school. Only joking. Since Oak Moss is no more in perfumery, akigalawood has arrived on the scene. It's a man-made synthetic fragrance similar to that of patchouli, combined with vibrant spicy aspects of pepper.

This is an upscale perfume. Think black tie, think Opera. It's going to last awhile, I got close to 8 hours silage and I got plenty of remarks from my other half on how polished this fragrance is.

 

Summary of Tom Ford Fougère D'argent Fragrance

A very powerful scent, not incredibly versatile as people are making out. It's not an everyday scent. It's high end, both in performance and in price. I love it, perhaps not as much as the Oud Wood and Tuscan leather, but it has a fresh delivery, it's opulent, it will sit well in the Tom Ford canon for sure.

 

Abercrombie & Fitch Launch First Instinct Blue

Abercrombie & Fitch have launched a new fragrance (or juice as they are referring to it in the press release) entitled First Instinct Blue. My first impression of First Instinct Blue is how innovative the bottle design is. I use the word innovative knowing full well how hackneyed the expression is. But these are first impressions, not a studied nor deliberated perspective. 

The packaging is a new imagining of the original design from Fabrice Legros, this quote from the press release "based on a rectangular structure [...] and inspired by that magical moment when you get butterflies in your stomach."

Its silhouette has the square, bold aesthetic and is underlined by an ethereal rippling surface as you look through the bottle. I like it. It speaks to me. It tells me this is for a man that exudes confidence, masculinity, yet there's a more complex, mysterious underbelly once you scrape beneath the surface. 

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What about the name? 

The name does little for me. Every Instinct, is a first instinct is it not? Isn't it somewhat tautological to call something First Instinct? I guess Basic Instinct was taken. 

 

What about the "juice"? 

Don't look at me pal, I'm only going with the language from the press release. First Instinct Blue carries notes of cardamom, rosemary, frozen apple, lavender, pepper and tonic beans. 

 

What is Cardamom? 

Cardamom is derived from the ginger family, used in the culinary world to enhance savoury and sweet dishes. The Swedes are huge proponents of Cardamom, apparently it's the spice best suited for Autumnal and Winter dishes so perfect timing. 

 

What do I think? 

It's got a great energy to it. I was enlivened and I got in engaged with the scent very early on. It had that aromatic mystery, a charm and it projected well. The dry down was enjoyable, offering a more herbal, sensual delivery with the peppers and the frozen apple. 

For my money it was spicier and herbal, than woody and earthy. More forest floor than forest oak, so I'm not sure it echoed cries of masculinity for me. Perhaps it could have done with bringing the sandalwood to the front of the mix. 

However, I enjoyed wearing this. The price point is fine; the bottle looks great. It's got an everyday appeal to it and actually works perfect as an autumnal scent.