There are celebrity perfumes and then are perfume lovers who make perfume and also happen to be celebrities. Richard E Grant created his own perfume brand and also happens to be an actor, writer and director. As much as I love a good sleb bargain, they are usually about noughts and dollar signs and not usually driven by a lifelong love of all things olfactory. Jack very much falls into the latter category, and is the culmination of Richard’s self-confessed obsession with scent and all its visceral triggers.
First of all, the creation of Jack Perfume was coaxed out of him by the incredible Anya Hindmarch (yes, the creator of the handbag brand). It was when she stumbled across him with his nose in a gardenia bush that she more or less asked him if there was anything he needed to talk about? You can the read the full story on the Jack blog.
Secondly, and this sets Jack apart from many celeb scents, Richard funded this himself. He risked his own money, (after all, we may have hated it), and tracked down the right people so he could scratch this itch that wouldn’t quit. (I’m sorry for the imagery there, I’m trying to think of a more elegant way of saying that.)
The result of Anya Hindmarch’s nudge in the ribs and pep talk, and of Richard’s drive and passion, is Jack Perfume, which I am reviewing today. There are now two more in the series, Jack Covent Garden and Jack Piccadilly, which I shall review presently.
Now I’m a bit late to the party having only just got around to getting my mitts on these. Cwmbran is not a hub for perfume samples, unless you count my four mini suitcases in the dining room. It’s never too late to review a scent though, so here we go.
So What Does Jack Smell Like?
Jack opens with an immediate and thirst quenching blend of mandarin and lime. One dab has my son asking if I “have sherbet over there.” It’s delightfully refreshing and a great first impression.
There is a cannabis in the opening symphony too. How could it be left out after Richard’s iconic role in Withnail and I? I cannot say the name of the film without so many quotes flying into my head, I fear I may bore you if I don’t get back on track. Rather than being a joint the size of a large carrot (as in the film) the cannabis is a light herbal touch, slightly earthy and grassy and rather pleasant: its not unlike vetiver, which is also here.
The cloves come in shortly after that, accompanied by nutmeg, giving this a wonderfully aromatic spiced wood warmth. The lime and mandarin from the opening act seem to cut through the richness of the pepper, oud, resins and woods, which stops this from getting too dark or too rich. There are clean musk nuances in the finish and the sniffability factor goes off the scale. I can’t seem to type more than three words without having another sniff.
Jack is a wonderful unisex fragrance that would serve you in summer or winter. It is a scent of contrasts: dark and light, with a glossy wooden shell and a soft belly. My overall impression is that this is very much a feel good scent. It’s both uplifting and cosy, like a hug, and I shall be ordering several gallons.
You can buy Jack from Liberty in London, as well as in Europe and the USA. See here for a full list. My samples were kindly sent to me by Richard E Grant, for which, my warmest thanks. I completely failed to be cool when I received them.
Gallivant is a perfume house that is masterminded by Nick Steward. Nick certainly has the credentials to create his own fragrance brand, having worked at L’Artisan Parfumeur for many years. Inspired by the unique vibes of each city that his scents are named after, each Gallivant fragrance has something quirky and rather wonderful to offer. The nose is Karine Chevallier.
Earlier in my blog, I reviewed Gallivant London and Gallivant Tel Aviv. If you haven’t tried either of these, then do try and get yourself some samples from here. Recently, two more have been launched, Berlin and Amsterdam. I am hoping to try those soon and report back. There is also Gallivant Brooklyn, which is in the blog processor machine waiting to dry (aka my brain).
Today, my wanderlusting friends, we are discovering Gallivant Istanbul. Follow me as I guide you around this olfactory marvel.
As you might imagine, with its Turkish history and ancient culture, there will be mysterious smoky incense facets to this, and there are. Lots of other brands have done smoky resinous scents but what makes Istanbul stand out is the fresh note that travels alongside the heavies.
It opens with crisp bergamot and red thyme, setting me up to think I’m about to dive into a cologne. I’m not massively off track here-because this is followed by a middle phase of lavender- a primary ingredient in colognes and fougeres.
The addition of aromatic cardoman that combines beautifully with the lime and thyme, lifts this out of deep resin territory, whilst keeping that mysterious myrrh note in there. Add some peppery geranium and a woody base of warm tonka and smooth sandalwood and you have Istanbul.
What I love about this is that it seems to include so many facets of a colourful city like Istanbul. There are hints of leather, herbs, citrus, patchouli and musk. It’s almost like a walk through a bazaar, starting with the exhilarating sea front and ending in the covered markets, still with a fresh breeze in your lungs. There’s kind of a wetness, or a juiciness to it that stops it being dark and tarry, as resinous scents can often be on my skin. This makes me want to sniff it in great gulps.
As for whether its male or female? It’s for everyone, except my son who declined my offer of a few sprays to wear to Primary School this morning.
You can buy Gallivant fragrances, including sample sets from here. My samples were kindly provided by Gallivant, in exchange for an a honest review, which I have written. This is not a sponsored post.
It may be Autumn, and the leaves may be on the turn, but my passion for fragrances with green notes stays with me all year round.
Bronnley Wild Green fits the bill for every season of the year and wearing it today brings a bit of nature into the stuffy central heated indoors like an invigorating open window.
Wild Green opens with bergamot, orange flower and patchouli. This green floral symphony gathers uplifting, spicy facets on its journey: namely aromatic cardoman and coriander (the spice not the leaf). It claims to have pink pepper, which makes me pull faces, but actually I could find no trace of it here. This is a clean, spicy green that fits perfectly with this transitional time of year. The green is an evergreen that never wavers, yet the spice suggests that cosier times are beckoning. There’s a touch of smoky incense, but just a touch, just enough to say bonfire night is over a month away.
Having said all that, there’s nothing to stop us wearing this all year round. Wild Green suits Spring and Summer and the spices really come into their own in Autumn and Winter.
Although this is aimed at women, it makes a brilliant unisex fragrance, and is definitely a firm favourite with me. I am quite devoted to my little purse sized rollerball.
Bronnley Wild Green is available from the Bronnley website or from Boots and online from allbeauty.com. My rollerball was kindly sent to me by Bronnley in return for an honest review, which this is. This is not a sponsored post.
The other day someone told me that men wear aftershave and women wear perfume. Now, as you can imagine, I begged to differ. My opponent was adamant. Men can’t wear perfume and women can’t wear after shave. Since my adversary was my seven-year-old son, I couldn’t help feeling that I’d failed him as a mother. He also told me there’s no such name as Kenneth and that he can outrun a Jaguar, but I was less worried about that.
Let me be clear, as a politician would say (can’t remember which one, probably all of them), after shave is fragrance. Perfume is fragrance. Whatever it says on the label, if you like how it smells on you, you can wear it.
I do occasionally stage a heist into my husband’s side of the bedroom, but seeing as I chose them all for him, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Those nice people at The Perfume Society recently sent me the Men’s Edit Discovery Box, and discovery is the right word. Reader, I have been enlightened. It’s all very well my bemoaning the fact that men don’t wear enough roses, but how about I put my money where my mouth is and wear more so called “mascs” myself? Well, after trying the Men’s Edit box, I can assure you that there are at least three I will be buying full bottles of. Join me why don’t you?
I’m going to write mini reviews below and shall focus on some in more detail later in the blog. Here’s what’s in the box:
Parfums de Marly Layton 1.2ml eau de parfum (normally £145 for 75ml)
Parfums de Marly is a brand that’s new to me. In the previous Perfume Society Discovery Box- Latest Launches, the women’s fragrance, Delina, was a classy and distinctive mélange of rhubarb and the pinkest of flowers. Layton is of the same high quality and classy distinction. It opens with apples and lavender and calms down into a multi layered wood-fest of every wood from light to to dark to smoky. A flourish of vanilla warms it up. It reminds me of a cosy oak panelled tobacconist. Beware- the middle phase blew my socks off.
Dunhill Icon Elite 2ml eau de parfum (£95 for 100ml)
The nose behind this is Carlos Benaim, who also made Dior Pure Poison, Viktor anf Rolf Flowerbomb and the original Ralph Lauren Polo fragrance, to name but a few from his staggeringly prestigious portfolio.
My primary reaction to Dunhill Icon was “Aha! Suede”. It’s a leathery nubuck scent, somehow stronger than suede, which I always identify as a softer toned down version of leather. I con is dark and tarry, and so leathery that it almost tipped me over into liquorice territory. Addictively sniffable, this smells like the bare chest of a man who has just removed his leather jacket. Trust me, that’s A Good Thing.
Miller Harris Feuilles de Tabac 2ml eau de parfum (£95 for 100ml)
I adore this classic (pronounced Foy de Tabac) and declare it totally unisex. I reviewed it a while back and remember that I rather fancied making my whole house smell this way. It’s the scent of a wood panelled gentleman’s club in Paris. Smoky, woody, herby, lovely.
Escentric Molecules E 032ml eau de parfum (£72 for 100ml)
This opens with big stringent, clean scented lime, with a hint of black pepper. The vetiver comes out straight away, and the whole thing stays that way for a few hours. After that, the base is sandalwood and clean musk. The lime and vetiver combo never quits though, and this had me thinking of dazzling white shirt cuffs and expensive suits. Yum.
Escentric Molecules M 03 2ml eau de parfum (£72 for 100ml)
The only note listed fior this is Vetiver. However, I beg to differ. This stunning fragrance smelled like scorched palm leaves for a few seconds then disappeared. Then it came back as a sort of sharp, green citrus with a bitter orange edge. Throughout the day, it gradually morphed into what I can only describe as a grapefruit chypre. It’s the most vivid grapefruit scent: pith, juice and peel, with an earthy green base. I completely fell headlong in love with this and I’m so glad I wandered out of my comfort zone, because I would never have stumbled across this otherwise. Definitely a full bottle scent.
Clive Christian Nobile VIII Magnolia 1.5ml eau de parfum (£350 for 50ml)
Getting my mitts on a Clive Christian sample is always a rare treat. They don’t come along every day, that’s for sure. This magnolia fragrance is utterly transporting, and as a magnolia fan, I loved it. Again, I call this unisex. I’d marinate in it if I could. Longevity is outstandingly good. I shall be reviewing this one in more detail soon.
Clive Christian Nobile VIII Immortelle
1.5ml eau de parfum (£350 for 50ml)
This stuff really packs a punch. Immortelle is also known as the everlasting flower- a bit like a yellow cornflower. It has a spicy, faintly curry like nuance, but here it is overtaken by the robust vetiver. It’s a strong, statement fragrance that shouldn’t be worn before breakfast, but should be strongly encouraged for evening.
Jimmy Choo MAN ICE2ml eau de toilette (from £30 for 30ml)
This is an invigorating grapefruit and lemon scent that reminded me a little of Annick Goutal Eau D’Hadrien. It’s fantastically light and revitalizing with a mossy finish and I’ve no idea why it’s “For Men” because I am seriously getting myself a full bottle.
Initio Parfums Magnetic Blend 7 1.2ml eau de parfum (£154 for 90ml)
Amplifying the power of pheromonal molecules to provoke instinct through a sublime breed of violence.
It’s a lofty claim and one that’s hard to talk about objectively. On Fragrantica, the description doesn’t do it justice- the only note listed is musk. However, this musk will react differently on your skin than it will on mine. On mine it smells like plasticine. On you it may smell different. The jury’s out, but I remain intrigued. Maybe in six hours’ time I will become irresistible to all. I’ll get back to you.
EDIT- six hours later my cats keep sniffing my arm where I sprayed this but I can smell nothing. Don’t be put off, I get the feeling this is like one of those lipsticks that changes colour according to your body heat. Results will vary.
Bentley Momentum1.8ml eau de toilette (£59 for 100ml)
This has huge sillage and longevity and is full of ambergris, sandalwood, moss and musk. Described as an oriental Fougere, the Nose behind it is the legendary Nathalie Lorson, who has created more major fragrances than I could list, but I can tell you that she made Black Opium, so she knows a thing or two about big hitters, as this one certainly is.
Cristiano Ronaldo Legacy 2ml eau de toilette (£29 for 30ml)
Finally, my sons and I have some middle ground to talk about. Football meets fragrance. This is a very decent offering in Ronaldo’s name (let’s not even pretend celebrities make them, OK?). This is a leathery floral musk with daring hints of peony and violet. I say daring because football fans are not known for their penchant for peony. I am happy to be corrected. This is nothing too edgy or original, and you can only find the flowers if our nose seeks them out, but it is the same vein as a good David Beckham scent, only with more fuzzy violets. The Jury’s out on whether it helps you win football tournaments.
A generous sample in manly grey packaging. I like that there are other goodies in Perfume Society Discovery Boxes in sizes generous enough to have a decent trial of the product.
Penhaligon’s No. 33 Moisturiser 5ml (normally £38 for 75ml)
This comes in the cutest tube in the world. It’s perfect for an overnight stay and smells divine, as you might expect.
Where to buy
You can buy The Perfume Society Men’s Edit from The Perfume Society website for £19 or £15 to subscribers. Subscribing costs just £25 a year and gives a wide range of benefits of which discounted Discovery Boxes are just one. My box was sent ot me by the Perfume Society in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own and this was not a sponsored post.
Usually when I get hold of decent men’s fragrance samples, I pass them onto my nephew, who at sixteen, has quite a fragrance collection and shows a real interest in it. However, I have been trying out Valentino Uomo today and there’s no way I’m giving this to anyone. It’s deliriously good and I’m keeping it.
The opening is fresh and herbal, with Myrtle and Bergamot and not much else. I like a simple opening like that. The middle phase has Chocolate and Hazelnut and the base has Leather and Coffee. The Leather we are talking about here is that expensive Leather that is so soft it feels like velvet, and the Coffee adds richness without going all Nescafe on me. The Chocolate and Hazelnut combo completely avoids any kind of gourmand praline nonsense and simply enhances the richness, like the smell as you enter an expensive coffee house.
Yes, yes, this is supposed to be for men and all that, but it stopped me in my tracks and frankly, without sounding big headed, it smells fantastic on me. Some male fragrances (mainly the mainstream sort) all smell very similar to me in the base notes phase. They all seem to have that metallic, almost obligatory note that I have moaned about before ( see my review of Jay-Z Gold) but Valentino Uomo actually smells like its ingredients. You really can smell the herbs, the Bergamot, the Leather and the Coffee. It’s terrific and I can’t get enough. Ten out of ten and my everlasting affection to its creator, the prolific and talented Olivier Polge.
I’ve seen perfumistas on many a board sing the praises of L’Air du Desert Marocain. I was curious to try a sample, but not curious enough to buy a full bottle. I remember all too well my eager foray into the equally revered Ambre Sultanby Serge Lutens, only to dislike it quite violently.
L’Air du Desert Marocain was quite the opposite, however. I’ve heard a lot about it. I’ve seen it around (in my friend’s scent stash at least) , and finally, today my wrist met the spray. It’s no coincidence that the immediate adjectives that come to mind are ecclesiastical: Divine and Heavenly were the first words that entered my head. This is a close relative to my beloved Comme Des Garcons Series 3 Incense:Avignon, the ultimate scent of Catholicism, with authentic guilt inducing price tag.
What Tauer has produced however, is less linear that CDG Avignon and more complex. L’Air Du Desert Marocain has several layers and even after a first spray , has a lovely faded grandeur about it. It smells like a background smell. It’s not harsh or loud. If you met me right now you would ask me how Evensong went ( I would be infused with the smoke of incense), but probably not think I was wearing a scent at all.
Top notes are Caraway, Coriander and Petitgrain, but I must confess, all I get is incense and a whiff of hay. Middle notes include Rosehip and Jasmine, but I get no flowers at all. Base notes include Vetiver, which is used beautifully and sparingly to add a grassy leather note, as well as Amber, which is also warmly noticeable, and Cedar, which I don’t detect at all.
This is the perfect Christmas Eve scent, and therefore totally out of step with today’s sunny weather. However, I am going out this evening, so all bets are off and I’ll wear what I like. And what I like is this. If there’s any left on my skin on Sunday, then even better. It smells like Sunday morning anyway.
Like CDG Avignon, this is playing hard to get in the UK, although samples and full bottles are available online from UK suppliers Les Senteurs. I adore the smell of church incense, and I adore this. It would smell incredible on a man too, but if I did manage to get hold of a bottle, I can’t see me sharing it.