Grooming News

Elements Showcase Wrapup (August 2012 Edition) – with a touch of NYIGF

Coming from the EDM (Electronic Dance Music) world, one thing I’ve realized is the importance of networking. Attending my first Elements Showcase in January was my introduction to the fragrance industry, and the exposure to so many new fragrance lines and great contacts made my August return a certainty. This time, instead of just writing about what I smelled, I am going to focus on trends/highlights.

Fragrance – For Men

The cosmetics and fragrance industry often focus solely on women, so it’s great to see the targets expand.

Portland General Store – Based on sustainable living and made from natural ingredients, their line includes shaving products, skin care, candles, and fragrance for men who like things that work but without a fuss. Highlights include the all-in-one Racer shave cream, which eliminates the need for a pre-shave oil and is so moisturizing that aftershave is unnecessary. The lightly-spiced scent is subtle and warm. The same vibe is in their Moonshine cologne with a sexy mix of musk and sandalwood which is definitely manly, but not overwhelming.

Juniper Ridge – Obsessed with natural aromatics, the team of Juniper Ridge leads wilderness expeditions and travel with a converted whiskey still that they use to distill everything from nature. Apparently they are really big on the West Coast, with their line of teas, incense, and colognes having a following among outdoorsy guys who appreciate the absence of any artificial ingredients. A sniff of their all-wood incense is so realistic that you would swear it’s a fireplace. On display, they had samples of all their natural essences – and would pull up examples, i.e. ‘this is what black sage smells like.’ My first shower with their Cascade Glacier “wildcrafted” shower gel woke me up with a combination of zesty ginger and pine. I especially liked how the gel didn’t oversud and had just the right amount of fragrance for me to experience, yet not interfere with cologne I put on afterwards.

A Mix of High and Low

Just like in fashion – it’s all about a mix of high and low. On one of the panels, a store owner lamented that there is a place for $60 scents and $200 scents – but the in-between is a rough sell. She mentioned that she’s told perfumers to raise their price by $100 and it led to more sales.

Agonist – Encased in handcrafted Kosta Boda glass, these ultra high-end scents are a new definition of aspirational luxury. Starting at $500 (with many over $1000), the scents are of the finest quality. I was almost afraid to smell them because I feared I would fall in love – and I did with their Black Amber. Later on, I found out that the scents are also available in a simple 50ML bottle for around $200.

Alice & Peter – Who doesn’t love a cupcake? Aimed at children and the young at heart, this line of scents designed by Gérald Ghislain (Scent of Departure, Histoires de Parfums) are quite sweet in flavors like Showy Toffee, Cheery Cherry, Wicked Berry, and Fancy Choco. The bottles look like cupcakes with the top popping off to expose the sprayer. At $50, these would be perfect for a child’s first fragrance and much more appropriate than other confection-based celebriscents. For the price point, the quality is quite good and would be a great introduction to the world of fragrance.

Houbigant – The landmark Fougere Royale was recently rereleased in an eau de parfum reformulation to much acclaim. A special Pure Parfum edition in a gorgeous lacquered box (designed like those presented to royalty) is available for the king’s ransom of $600. Oranges en Fleurs is a powerful and classic French perfume that feels like a classic french perfume, yet is a modern creation. With natural oils of jasmine, tuberose, turkish rose, and many others, the full-bodied scent is available as both eau de parfum ($180) and parfum extract ($600 – in a regal lacquered box).

Follow the beats and think like a DJ

Thinking like a DJ. With the growing presence of electronic dance music, its easy to spot the trends of remixes and mashups arriving in the fragrance world.

Smellbent – The adorably comedic and creative perfumer Brent Leonesio aims to bring niche to the mainstream with well-priced scents that have personality. For his current Remix collection, he took three crowd favorites and added a new summery spin to the mix. Little Miss Panda Gets Lei’d is a great tropical summer floral – imagine the smell of Bain de Soleil with an extra kick. Incensed Short Fuse is a spicy incense with pepper and cardamon. If you like Penhaligon’s Elixir – this could be your summer go-to. St Tropez Dispenser Apres Soleil to me smells like a mashup of Creed Virgin Island Water and yummy honey scented suntan lotion.  At less than $50 a bottle, its easy to catch the groove and as someone who respects a good beat, I could only imagine what kind of set this remix-master would spin for a night out clubbing.

Juliette Has a Gun – Here’s a brilliant idea that I hope other houses attempt. The darkly unique niche line mashed together elements of favorites Lady Vengeance, Miss Charming, and Romantina to create Mad Madame. Due for an October release, this mix of notes is definitely worth a sniff this fall. If you are looking for a white floral with a bit of personality, check out their new scent Romantina for another fresh spin.

The Importance of Bloggers

On the different panels, several times the topic of fragrance blogs came up and the common theme is that perfumers and perfume companies love them. While in the old days, a handful of beauty editors controlled what was said about fragrance – the internet opened the door for everyone to write about what they love, from the most obscure niche to biggest name brand on the market. Watching my new friend Brian walk around, I would see booth presenters badge surfing, see the name Basenotes and yank him down. Everyone I spoke to was genuinely interested in the comments and opinions of us bloggers – a few even mentioned interviews and articles that I had written on


Like any other luxury product, an element of aspirational fantasy often runs through the inspiration of scent. Traveling to foreign lands is a common theme of many things I saw at Elements.

Vegas Dreams – With names like Club Banger, 777, Pool & Palms, and Romance on the Strip, these affordable scents ($59-$79) aim to transport you to decadent party life of Vegas. While some may look at a bottle of blue juice and call it gaudy, it’s that over the top style which symbolizes the excesses of Vegas. Though it’s kind of hard to believe this line was created by the Grasse-based Charrier Parfums line. I can easily see these scents available at every Vegas casino being sold to high-rollers (both real and fantasy).

Lili Bermuda – Founded in 1928, this value priced lined ($50-$60 for 50ml of EdT) invokes the luxury of a tropical vacation without the overdose of expected suntan lotion. Although I am not a marine fan, I was surprisingly drawn to South Water (guava and coconut milk) and Fresh Water (citrus and sparkling clean). A mix of licorice and wood make up my favorite of the line, Somers, a unique and surprisingly light scent which has substance. Check out their authentic Cedar Boxes for a truly gorgeous gift presentation that is classy and reusable. Another thing I like about this line is that they sell a library sample kit from their website, something I wish every line would do.

Scent of Departure – Priced at $45 per bottle, this line of nearly 20 scents are named after the world’s largest airports with bottles that look like plane tickets. This brilliant idea was dreamed up by Gérald Ghislain (see Alice & Peter above, Histoire de Parfums) and is already available at IndieScents and Henri Bendel.

La Bella Figura – The trio of cities Barcelona, Buenos Aires, and Paris are the inspiration for the Travel Diaries Collection, three scents made from pure-plant / all natural ingredients. Tobacco, violet, bourbon, and orange are a few of the highlights of the intoxicating Buenos Aires (hard to believe its all natural). When I think of Paris, I think of beautiful flowers, amazing food, and intoxicating liqueurs- so the mix of cognac, lavender, iris and tarragon hits it perfectly. Barcelona captures the Spanish heat with a peppery blend of citrus, pine, and jasmine.

Jouany – The island of St Barthelemy and Marrakech are the exotic inspirations for the magnificent fragrances of Jouany. St Barthelemy is a mix of Vanilla and pineapple over patchouli and grass. Marrakech is a fragrant blend of citrus, jasmine,and patchouli.

Artistic Inspiration

Whether it be music or paintings, the art of fragrance finds inspiration across many mediums.

Olfactive Studios – A picture is worth a thousand words (and a really amazing scent). Launching from a crowd-sourced foundation, these democratically-created scents are inspired by master photographers and created by perfumers from Firmenich and Robertet. Lumiere Blanc is the standout to me with the cold / hot contrasts of cinnamon, licorice, iris, and wood. The mix of pepper trees, violet, and leather make Chambre Noire a delight to wear and the citrus/pepper mix of Still Life is a perfect summer fragrance.

Fornasetti – The work of Italian painter/sculptor Fornasetti adorns luxurious incense boxes. Otto is the name of the scent, a Japanese smokey thyme/lavender/tobacco incense which burns cleanly in the classily comedic designs of Fornasetti. In October, a second scent of incense called Flora with notes of jasmine, gardenia, lily of the valley, and ivy will be released.


Histoires de Parfums – Inspired by the Olympia Music Hall, this smokey wood scent transports you to the theater itself where so many legendary entertainers have performed. Watch for this one to be released in October. Although not necessarily an artist inspiration, a gold version of Edition Rare will be released in February, with scents named Veni, Vidi, and Vici.

Candles – Everywhere

A trip to the New York International Gift Fair had us coin the term “soy-candled to death,” but even after that there were a few candles that stood out.

PopUp – Hidden in one of every fifty popup candles is an actual diamond (.15 carat in small, .25 carat in medium). The eco-friendly packaged candles stand out on their own – without the diamond gimmick – with my favorite being the cotton candy and bubble gum-scented Wizznadine and the figgy Figshebam.

Yuthica Double Dip – It’s a candle. No, it’s a massage oil. No, it’s hand lotion. Actually, Double Dipp is all of that in a soy wax candle hand blended with essential oils, cocoa, and jojoba butter. Available in sugar and cucumber scents, it is the almond scent which caught my attention.

Delirium Candles – Candle Delirium is the store where candle lovers go to find their favorite brands. Delirium Candles were created by the owner of the store, Anthony Carro, so you know these soy candles are of the highest quality. Blue Absinthe and Pear & Violet blew me away – literally. Royal Amber was pretty magical as well.