Stumped for the holidays? Tick all the requisites of giving by making a beeline for the fragrance counter and pick up these scents that are the perfect stocking stuffer this season.
Let’s admit it, gift giving is one thing that we constantly stress over, especially once Christmas day looms closer. And if it isn’t difficult enough, thinking of what to give men can prove to be quite the challenge. More than anything, men want things they can use for a long time, and that takes a process of trial and error to figure out. But who has time for that, especially during the holidays?
Noncommittal shrugs aside. athletic gear (specifically: sneakers) is always a hit, as with anything entertainment and technology-related. Up on the self-care category, scents are a surefire way to put a smile on the face of your father, brother or best bud. Now, before you frown and protest at the enormity of this responsibility, since fragrances tread on a need-to-know-and-smell category, we did half the work for you and rounded up the scents in the last half of the year that will make the best gift—even if it is just for yourself, really.
Look, who doesn’t want to smell nice? With these bottles in hand, it isn’t just the holidays that will smell good, but the rest of your year as well.
JO MALONE LONDON
One of the many things to look forward to during the festive season is what seasonal scent Jo Malone London will drop. Taking inspiration from the many facets of Christmas, the brand has encapsulated these key strongholds in memorable, and not to mention, limited edition bottles that unlocks a holiday memory at every spritz. This year, we are introduced to White Moss & Snowdrop, an indicative fragrance that is both sparkling and sensual. Don’t let the delicate name fool you, because it definitely plays to the strengths of its contrasts, beginning with a resonant trill of clementine and cardamom. After the initial burst of cool spice, it builds to a bright mix of snowdrop and neroli, which eventually settles to a warm bed of white moss, tonka and amber.
Creating a symbiosis of two different worlds can prove to be a challenge, but Bvlgari Man proved to be up to the task by crafting a link between the pace of modern-day urban life and the languid drawl of nature. Bottled in an emblematic flask, the Bvlgari Man Wood Essence is a scintillating spray with strong silage that navigates and explores the enduring power of wood in the world of fragrance. The scent opens with a zesty blend of coriander and Italian citrus, diving deep into a sturdy core of Haitian vetiver and cypress wood, before finally relenting to a heady linger of cedar wood and ambergris. Best of both worlds? It sure looks like Bvlgari Man made sure we get our money’s worth with this one.
When an artist is left to an independent accord, the result of their process is nothing short of a memorable experience. This pervades in creative spirit that courses through Laboratorio Olfattivo with its latest, the Vanhera. A battleground of theoretically opposing ingredients, the base note of a dark Madagascar Vanilla persists and powers through a besieging harmony of spicy Pepper and Cardamom and Cinnamon, as well as a formidable fortress of warm Sandalwood and Cashmeran. Holding its ground, the sillage of vanilla sings through, conquering the heart and soul in this erotic and hypnotizing blend.
At this point, we know very well that anything that Tom Ford does is bold, in-your-face and downright unapologetic. Whether it be his sartorial choices, his fine and fanged foray into film, or even his orchestrations in beauty and grooming, every flick of his baton will reveal something not just unforgettable, but memorable. This holds true with the latest fragrance that is so good; part of its name is bleeped out in some segments of the globe. A seductive sillage by all accounts, F***ing Fabulous opens up with a foreplay of lavender and clary sage, before building up to a delicious swirl of bitter almond, vanilla and leather heart. The final plunge is a warm and thick coalescing of amber and white woods making it one hell of an addictive scent.
Confident, charismatic and courageous—or so goes the fine print of Montblanc’s Legend. On the surface level, one would assume that the scent is sharp and striking, sticking to the skin almost to an overpowering fault. However, the unapologetically masculine scent by Mont Blanc is coddled in tenderness as evidenced by its seductive mix of bergamot and pineapple leaf, sandalwood, tonka bean, apple, rose and pomarosa molecule. Bright and clean, the final fusion evokes strength and tradition, all while taking into account a slight of sensuality that makes it all the more alluring.
MAISON FRANCIS KURKDJIAN
Echoing the careful pricking of day’s first rays casting over the slow glint of the vast blue sea, Maison Francis Kurkdjian fashions a truly magical transformation with a persistent crafting of raw materials that mellow out to a serene and pensive scent in the form of Aqua Celestia. Comfortable, soothing and fresh, a formidable bond is formed with the heavy stain of freshness from lime, mint and blackcurrant, which is softened by mimosa blossoms and bookended by musk. Crisp and bright, the eventual dry down delivers clarity and balance that is unexpected but nonetheless most welcome.
The calming and invigorating sip of your morning ritual of black tea surrounds the combined depth, freshness and underlying softness and strength of The Noir 29 scent of Le Labo. A special extraction of noble tea leaves wraps up the crafted blend with a heady mix of bergamot, fig, bay leaf and cedar before finally drying out to hay, tobacco at the base. Rich and sensuous, the scent is essentially addictive, projecting a unique and aromatic impression that settles into tranquillity—pretty much like that slow and careful drip of morning libation into your soul.
There are certain ambivalent scents that you wish you could bottle and spritz at your command, immediately conjuring the memory lodged in between the folds of your brain. Take for example a quiet afternoon in the library where the crisp and lingering smell of leather and paper sears itself into your consciousness. This walk-through with the greatest thinkers of all time is now a fully realized fragrance as crafted by UK-based brand, Commodity. Characteristically dark and moody, the Book variant emits warmth with a complex blend of bergamot, spicy cypress and creamy sandalwood
A shot of heat and a swig of fired up energy swirls in a contrasting but impressive mirrored icy bottle. Distinct in form as it is in the persona it fuels, Coach Platinum is decidedly more robust and bold, without of course waylaying sensuality from within. Opening up lightly with pineapple and juniper berries, the fragrance takes on more body with a lash of impulsive black pepper. This magnetic start then builds to a refinement of sage and cashmere, where finally, a tempting bed of vanilla, patchouli and leather invites you in further in for a stunning and lingering send-off.
If we were to take any cues on seduction, it would definitely have to be from Antonio Banderas himself. Yes, you read that right, the Spaniard responsible for bringing to life Zorro and El Mariachi in Desperados has proven himself quite the Renaissance man with a fashion line and now a string of fragrances anchored on what else, pulsating passion and sensual seduction. An understandably masculine aroma, Power of Seduction opens with a fresh spritz of bergamot and apple, which then grows to a heady swirl of lavender and sage. Finally, it settles to a warm touch of patchouli, amber, tonka bean and moss—eliciting a linger that is more than just a wink and nod, but a full on grip of power.
ABERCROMBIE & FITCH
Where its predecessor, First Instinct, sought out to balance the freshness of fougere elements with oriental warmth, and successfully at that, the latest blend from Abercrombie & Fitch now intends to take it further into the realm of unbothered masculinity. Still anchored on the thrust of the intrigue and irresistible charm of a man’s predisposition, First Instinct Extreme swings us to a rush of invigorating pepper, Mandarin leaf and Star Fruit. A bright opening by all means, it warms up to a core of violet leaves, saffron powder and cardamom before giving way to a mysterious coming together of leather, amber and cashmere woods. The ultimate effect? Unforgettable on all counts.