Welcome to the 2014 edition of Smell Check, my annual overview of mens' cologne faves and farces, Normally I publish my annoying opinions around the Christmas shopping season but this year I decided to do it around Valentine's Day, where it would do the most good. Many of the scents listed in this blog are guaranteed to drive your girlfriend, boyfriend, or pet camel wild with ecstasy. This I promise!
Mugler A*Men Pure Malt (Thierry Mugler): Boy, do the brothers love this one, and if you don't believe me check out the countless reviews on You Tube of this impetuous cologne. With a bizarre black rubber casing and the iconic Mugler Angel symbol standing out there's no mistaking this cologne with any other.
The story as it's been told is that this is the only cologne that's aged in toasted oak barrels over a period of six weeks like aged whiskey. Because the process is so unique it's currently available as a limited edition scent, and from what I understand it made two other limited appearances in the past ten years. I got the last bottle at Nordstrom's Hollywood so this is a hot ticket item.
What does it smell like? Well, it's a lot like Angel for Men mixed with some great expensive Scotch. Works for me!
Polo Red (Ralph Lauren): Not bad, a little bit better than his other efforts. This one boasts the ingredients of redwood, red saffron (!) and grapefruit. A little spicier than what you'd normally expect from Lauren so it gets a C.
Uomo (Zegna): I don't know if this will make you "the master of all your adventures" (some advertising slogan!) but it has a burnt woodsy smell to it, like you've been sitting around a campfire whittling wood or sitting by the fireplace wishing there was a girl sitting next to you. If you love the smell of lumber yards you'll pine for this one, birch! (ouch)
L'Eau D'Issey Pour Homme Sport (Issey Miyake): I'm not reviewing the cologne but the body wash, yup, I'm cheating, but this is a good one and well worth your dough. It's got a bright, bubblegum candy scent that'll hide more BO than Fort Knox. The "notes" aka cologne ingredients include Florida Grapefruit, Bergamot, Vetiver from Haiti (what's that?), Indonesian Nutmeg, Virginan Cedarwood, and Ambergris, which might be whale vomit. Dig in!
Tom Ford Noir (Tom Ford): If there's a designer more arrogant and egotistical than Tom Ford he hasn't arrived yet. Ford may be the most vile figure in modern fashion today, so it almost hurts me to admit that his newest men's cologne is a clear winner.
With all the notes thrown into this one you just can't miss: Bergamot Oil, Verbena, Violet Flower, Caraway Oil, Baie Rose, Bulgarian Rose, Geranium Oil, Tuscan Iris Resinoid, Styrax Oil, Black Pepper Oil, Nutmeg, Clary Sage, Patchouli Oil, Vetiver (um, yeah, that again but is it from Haiti?), Leather, Benzoin, Vanilla, Opoponax, Amber Civet. Is that all?
Needless to say Mr. Wonderful's image graces all the cologne counters ensuring quick sales of this great scent, looking resplendent in his permanently etched five o'clock shadow, forest-like weave obscuring his receding hairline and permanently taciturn expression on his face. He's saying fuck you if you don't buy this. This time I'm going to have to agree with him!
So, Valentine's Day is comin' playa so get your cologne juice on.
Almost simultaneously two leading menswear designers have issued a line of classic rock collections: John Varvatos interpretation of Jimi Hendrix's "closet" and Paul Smith's Autumn Winter 2014 Jim Morrison collection. Both collections are weird and awkward.
Varvatos' Hendrix styles include the iconic military jacket and stumpy boots with loose, delicate shirts. While there's nothing awful about it the full effect looks dated and uncommercial (as in "who's gonna buy this stuff?"). Frankly I saw it all before at Granny Takes A Trip in 1974 and it was done better then.
Paul Smith's take on Jim Morrison is ironic, to say the least, as it was presented in Paris, the city the rock icon died in. I also think Jim Morrison was one of the worst dressed rock stars of his generation, always seen in a shlubby Mexican wedding shirt and not much else. A small percentage of the clothes look like something The Lizard King would wear, tenty caftan tops and leather pants, but then there are incongruous things Morrison never wore (glittery jackets, Arabic scarves, etc.).
While it's a given that rock music and fashion have inspired each other for decades, both tributes almost have that Project Runway "I'm gonna get sent home" vibe about them because neither collection brings anything new or exciting to the table. And that's what's necessary to bring people in to spend their money. Too much rock and not enough frock.