The holidays are over and if you’re like me, you will have spent the last few days gorging on just about everything edible in sight and you are probably thinking that you should distract yourself from the plentiful foodstuffs that surround you. Well, distraction is something that I can most certainly offer you and to really peak your interest, let’s talk about the Escentual sale because I know that if you love perfume, you will love a good deal on perfume too! So the Escentual sale is in full swing and now is the perfect time is to put down the Quality Street and occupy yourself with a little bit of retail therapy, nay, fragrant retail therapy!
To guide you through the Escentual sale I have picked out five fragrances that I think have really stood out this year (in a year where so much good fragrance has stood out, no less). They range from the sublimely beautiful to the downright bizarre, and everything in between. They showcase the real innovation of the industry and the brands that are putting every effort into bringing us fragrances that smell new as well as beautiful. Below you will find just a small selection of my favourite fragrances of 2017; two for her, two for him, and one for everyone. If they don’t tempt you into the Escentual sale, then I don’t know what will!
Elie Saab Girl of Now
If you’re familiar with Elie Saab as a fashion label, you will undoubtedly think that his fragrances are incredibly on brand. There is something luminous and weightless about Elie Saab’s creations and this is translated perfectly into his olfactory output too, with his signature scent ‘Le Parfum’ glowing like a golden beacon of white floral light.
This year, Elie Saab expanded his collection with his second pillar fragrance ‘Elie Saab Girl of Now’ with a composition that moves away from the olfactory lens-flare of Le Parfum to something much warmer, richer and more gourmand. Girl of Now exists as a patchwork of nutty notes, with almond and pistachio creating a crunchy tension with the freshness of pear and sweet warmth of marzipan. Orange blossom gives the scent a bit of a contemporary L’Heure Bleue vibe (it’s never a bad thing to pay homage to the classic Guerlains, let’s face it) and also brings it right back into the Elie Saab universe, referencing Le Parfum’s floral core. Girl of Now is a divisive fragrance – you’re either going to love it or hate it which, if you ask me, is always the sign of a very good perfume. What you won’t find it is boring.
Cartier Baiser Fou
Cartier always makes interesting fragrances and this is largely down to the fact that they are one of the few perfume houses with their own exclusive, in-house perfumer: the remarkably talented Mathilde Laurent. Much of Laurent’s work is sensual and classic, but it always comes with a quirky twist of humour and a glint in the eye, and this year’s Cartier Baiser Fou Eau de Parfum (‘Crazy Kiss’) is no exception.
The fragrance pairs the juicy, brightness of orchid against a delicious and smooth white chocolate accord. It smells fruity, like neon pink bubblegum, but with the chlorophyll freshness of flower stems chilled in the refrigerator to give it bite. Pepper adds effervescence whilst that gorgeous white chocolate base makes for the smoothest of finishes. Baiser Fou is a floral that’s as fun as a glittery lipgloss but it has substance too, making it easily one of the standout scents of the year.
Prada Luna Rossa Carbon
Luna Rossa is Prada’s sports fragrance, but thankfully for us scent-loving gents, it smells nothing like many of the sports scents on the market, which can be a little bit dull. Named after the Prada sailing boat, Luna Rossa presents the idea of movement, freshness and the outdoors via spearmint and lavender.
The Prada Luna Rossa Carbon edition of Luna Rossa focuses on the lavender but rather than beautiful purple blooms in the field, this is lavender turned black and covered in tar. The fragrance is a modern fougere with a metallic edge, presenting a 3D printed lavender crafted from lightweight rubber. It’s an odd fragrance but not so odd that it’s not accessible and as it dries down, it becomes quite rugged, with patchouli and ambroxan (a synthetic ambergris-style material) providing a transparent sharpness that brings the whole thing into focus. It’s a must sniff for men who like to smell sexy.
Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Homme
I think you will probably see Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Homme on a lot of ‘best of’ lists this year and rightly so because it’s quite the surprise from Gucci. As you may know, Gucci is under new artistic direction in the form of the super-talented Alessandro Michele, and it’s safe to say that he knows what a good perfume smells like.
Far from the safer, more commercial offerings Gucci has been creating in the last few years, this one is a real tour de force – an explosion of masculinity and weirdness that cements it as one of Gucci’s most fascinating fragrances. Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Homme is an incredibly phenolic fragrance, with an odour that is somewhere between hospital corridor and peated whisky. Whilst that may sound horrendous, it’s actually rather sexy and the scent mellows to a spicy vetiver with woods and leather. This Gucci is one that you have to smell to believe and I can guarantee that if you do sniff it, you will never be the same again.
Concrete by Comme des Garçons
Finally, let’s celebrate something that you can share! Every year Comme des Garçons launch a unisex fragrance in their main collection. Last year they treated us to the zingy and silvery Blackpepper (which I believe was in our ‘best of’ edit last year – CDG obviously have a good hit rate) and for 2017 we have the pleasure of the complete opposite of that: Comme des Garçons Concrete.
But with Concrete, things aren’t as they may appear, and whilst the bottle may be coated in a thin layer of concrete (yes, real concrete!), the fragrance itself is much softer than the hard substance that is commonplace in our modern world. Concrete the fragrance is actually a soft, nutty sandalwood, with a spicy rose for contrast. It’s a fragrance that plays with our perceptions, opting to present the smoothness of a material that we all know as hard, brutalist and rocky. I enjoy Concrete because it doesn’t smell like any other rose or any other sandalwood fragrance out there, but at the same time it’s not weird or challenging at all, in fact, it’s just really lovely.