Gaspard Ulliel, face of Bleu de Chanel
I remember a couple of years ago, my boss, an older man who refused to retire, telling me he'd popped into Brown Thomas (owned by Selfridges) during lunch hour looking for a particular perfume for his wife. He asked the sales assistant at the fragrance counter to point him in the right direction. I believe the conversation went like this: 'Hello love, I'm looking for 'Romance' Sales assistant: 'Aren't we all?' Boss: 'No, Romance the perfume'. Sales assistant: 'I think you'll find it's round the corner right next to the Poison!'
When it comes to tasting food, it's widely accepted that our sense of smell is as much a part of the process as our taste buds. In fact research has shown that 70 - 75% of what we perceive as taste actually comes from our sense of smell. Apply the same theory to what aftershave you wear and you begin to understand why scent is so essential to style. Like your taste in clothes, your choice of scent reflects your personality and character.
In the 70's and 80's, there were effectively only two camps when it came to scents for men. You either went for Brut or Old Spice. It was all in the name really - the word Brut, simply add an 'e' and you've got a big lump of a lad. Or the nautically themed Old Spice for the slightly more conservative, mature guy.
It didn't take long for the big fashion houses to start getting in on the act and put their names to colognes. Suddenly men's fragrances started to become more sophisticated. Jean Paul Gaultier was one of the first breakthrough scents with mass appeal. At one stage in the early 90's if you walked down Old Compton Street in London's Soho there was practically a plume of Gaultier's 'Le Mâle' fragrance floating over it. Around the same time Dior released their signature fragrance 'Fahrenheit'. Both brands remain big sellers to this day.
So much of an aftershave's 'personality' is in its name and sometimes we are drawn to the name more than the actual fragrance. But what does it say about a person if their favourite scent is named 'Crave', 'Obsession' or even 'Delicious'? Well, I guess there's nothing wrong with a bit of self-belief!
At different stages of life, your sense of style reveals different things about you and your mood and this is also reflected in your choice of aftershave. Summer time fragrances tend to be vibrant, fresh and fun. Right now my favourites are a mix of Chanel, Armani and Tom Ford.
Last year Chanel launched the much-anticipated 'Bleu de Chanel', their first new male fragrance in over a decade (Allure Homme was released in 1999). Created by Jacques Polge, the exclusive creator of Chanel fragrances since 1978, it contains notes of pink peppers, citrus accord, vetiver, grapefruit, cedar, labdanum, frankincense, ginger and sandal wood quite the mix but simply divine.
A firm believer your choice of aftershave says a lot about your style, one of my current favourites is the latest addition to the Armani family of fragrances. Armani Code Ultimate is fresh yet more intense than it's predecessor, Code Sport, and as the press blurb aptly says it's "infused with virile subtlety" while a "bold sensuality intrigues, attracts and fascinates". Who writes this stuff?! But I actually get it in this case.
Another personal favourite that never fails to impress is Tom Ford's Lime Azure. Part of Tom's personally curated Private Blend collection; I only break out this bad boy for the most precious of occasions. This elegant scent, encased in a decadent dark brown apothecary style bottle, epitomises a classic fragrance for the modern day gent.