One of the very brightest and best new perfume blogs to pop-up in Perfumeland over the last year is The Candy Perfume Boy. With a mix of razor-sharp wit and insightful reviews, the posts are as entertaining as they are informative. Who knew perfume could be this fun? As well as the reviews, regular features such as “Guide To…” and “Scented Lives” are a must-read.
The Candy Perfume Boy, aka Thomas, is a champion of the Big White Floral (in particular his beloved tuberose) and a fan of all things Mugler. He has opened up my fragrant horizons to perfumes I would never have tried otherwise. So it was with much excitement that I awaited his talk for Perfume Lovers London last Thursday night and let me tell you, he did not disappoint!
What better topic for the man who loves his hot house florals than a run down of fragrances to wear in the heat? Luckily the weather obliged so it was the perfect setting for some summer sniffing. We started with Thomas’s gateway fragrance into Perfumeland.
Kingdom, Alexander McQueen
“Picture me about 10 years younger, 2 stone lighter and about 10 times more flamboyant. OK – now you have an image of me at 16”.
At that time Thomas was wearing fragrances that he thought he should be wearing; CK Crave, Paul Smith Man (original) and Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male. However, a passing interest in fashion led him to try Alexander McQueen’s Kingdom (now discontinued). It was love at first sniff.“I‘d never smelt anything like it. Up until that point, perfume fell into two categories ‘boys’ smells’ – I.e. Lynx (=Axe) soaked changing rooms and ‘girls’ smells’ – flowers and musks“.
Kingdom changed his perception of perfume. He realised that it could be unusual and interesting but most of all, it could be challenging. Reading about it led him to Now Smell This and Basenotes and we all know how it goes from there, right?
“Kingdom is famous for its overdose of cumin, which can at times be reminiscent of sweaty armpits. But for the most part it smells like hot bodies. It is incredibly sexy. Apparently it smells like lady bits – but this is not my area of expertise so I can’t comment – no frame of reference.“ (Cue much laughter)
Thomas told us that Kingdom is one of his all time favourite fragrances and that beneath its cumin-heavy shock factor lies beauty in the form of “a big dusty, spicy rose folded into creamy, delicious sandalwood“.
This is not Thomas’s favourite category of fragrance because he likes his perfumes to be loud and last for hours, whereas colognes tend to be rather quiet. However, here is a citrus scent that he just loves:
Fils de Dieu et de Riz et d’Agrumes, Etat Libre d’Orange
Etat Libre d’Orange is one of Thomas’s favourite brands and Fils de Dieu features one of his favourite citrus notes, lime.
“Out of all the citrus perfumes I own, this is one of the best for summer. It‘s more than just a citrus, it‘s a citrus gourmand…a strange Thai green curry, chock full of creaminess. It starts with zingy, sharp lime and starchy rice. The base is velvety, coconut milk, musk and amber”.
In Thomas’s opinion this is Etat Libre d’Orange’s most wearable fragrance and I’d go along with that. It’s great on a hot day and despite the curry associations, it doesn’t actually feel like you’re wearing dinner.
Other fragrances in this category:
Lime, Basil and Mandarin Cologne, Jo Malone
Thierry Mugler Cologne
Eau de Rochas, Rochas
O de Lancome
Eau de Sisley 3, Sisley
Eau de Hadrien, Annick Goutal
Sheer & Light
“This is the scent I go for when it‘s too hot to wear anything else. It is incredibly light and ephemeral, but that‘s what makes it so wonderful in the heat. It feels like a ‘Jean Claude Ellena‘s Greatest Hits‘. It has the peppery, vegetal aromas of the Un Jardin series, the flinty, mineralic quality of Terre d’ Hermes and the tea of the scents he did for Bulgari. To me, Voyage smells expensive. I wear it in the blazing heat and feel like I’m rocking something special. It has a suede-like texture”.
I think Voyage d’Hermes is one of the best mainstream masculines on the market. It has a pleasantly fizzy and bracing Gin and Tonic vibe. What Thomas loves about it most is the opening cardamom note, which we both agree should be used more often in perfumery.
Other Sheer & Light fragrances:
Beyond Paradise, Estee Lauder
Thomas quipped that he has a slight interest in tuberose. If you want to know as much about it as he does, do check out The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide To Tuberose. He decided to kick-off with the most extreme example of the genre because it is the “most fascinating and over the top”.
“If Fracas is a vamp, Tubéreuse Criminelle is a vampire. I call it the Cruella DeVil of tuberoses because it is utterly fabulous and absolutely terrifying in equal measure. Oh and like Cruella, it isn‘t really safe for puppies. Absolutely one of the all time best”.
Lila Das Gupta, the evenings gracious host, very wisely opted to dip the blotters rather than spray them. Maybe surprisingly, nobody recoiled in horror at the strong menthol opening. This was perhaps because we were a crowd of ‘fumeheads but it certainly helped that it was felt cooling on a hot and humid evening. Thomas’s view about its evolution resulting in the most beautiful creamy tuberose note, echoes Olfactoria’s recent review .
“It‘s a wonderful, euphoric perfume”.
Reputed to contain the highest amount of tuberose absolute in any perfume, Carnal Flower isn’t actually as carnal as the name suggests. It is extremely diffuse and long-lasting but it also has a freshness with buds and green stems as well as a tropical coconut note.
“It is hot and fleshy but it also has a slightly fruity aspect to it, which is a juicy fruit gum accord. It really keeps you looking into the garden rather than the bedroom. What I really love about it though is that there is a mega-ton of white musk which really gives the tuberose a lift and makes you feel truly enveloped by the smell”.
This one crept up on Thomas over time.
“I chose this tuberose perfume because it really is so much more than just an essay on the flower. Instead it feels like a truly French perfume – buxom, beautiful and larger than life. The word calipyge means ‘beautiful shaped buttocks’ and this sums the perfume up perfectly. A beautiful woman rather than a vamp or vixen”.
I found the fresh, green, peppery opening to be particularly lovely and Tubéreuse is the perfume from the evening that I would most like to know better . Lila commented that Mona’s perfumes are so womanly and that’s probably the thing I like about them most of all. She made fragrances for grown women, rather than girls.
Nuit de Tubéreuse, L’Artisan Parfumeur
Thomas admitted that this tuberose fragrance took him a long time to ‘get’.
“I call it ‘the labyrinthine tuberose’ because just when you think you getting to know it you meet a dead-end. It’s a worthwhile journey to the end of the maze. L‘Artisan Parfumeur call it ‘the scent of luminous Parisian nights‘ which fits it perfectly. When I smell it I think of the stifling humidity of Paris at night. I also find it rather jungle-y too. Hot, stuffy blooms”.
Nuit de Tubéreuse is a tropical tuberose and I always think it would be a great holiday perfume for sultry nights. The juicy mango and incense-like pepper give it a nice twist. This is the one most people in the room said they would wear.
The Boys Of Summer
Masculines fragrances that are great for summer and can be worn by anyone.
Geranium Pour Monsieur, Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums
As well as his blog, Thomas is also a contributor to Fragrant Reviews on Twitter. His mini review of this fragrance really sums it up.
“A wave of mint, fresh and oily. Herbal and musky with soft hues of rosy geranium. Modern Fougere.”
Thomas prefers to smell it on his partner, Nigel, who wears it all the time. He thinks it is one the best masculines around, although he feels it’s perfectly unisex.
Not being a fan of mint in perfume, this was probably my least favourite fragrance of the night.
Other Boys of Summer:
Fleur du Male, Jean Paul Gaultier
It took Thomas a little while to fully appreciate this one and it was the same for me. You really have to give it a decent amount of skin time to fully appreciate this deceptively simple scent. It has a purity about it which would make it a perfect wedding perfume. Puredistance 1 is the most incredibly well blended fragrance I know and it lasts and lasts thanks to its parfum strength. Unfortunately, its not cheap but its quality is second to none.
“When describing Puredistance I, I find the best words to be: ethereal, magnetic and atmospheric. The citrus and florals are draped in a blinding white musk. It allows Puredistance I to permeate the soul. It wears like an attitude, a sense of glamour, style and beauty”.
Other Summer Wedding fragrances:
“A shimmering white floral with nuclear tenacity – in a good way.”
Beautiful, Estee Lauder
A big floral bouquet that was originally advertised as a wedding fragrance. This is special to Thomas because it is a perfume he associates with his mother. Read more about that in his Scented Lives series.
At The Beach
Womanity, Thierry Mugler
“The magic comes from milky, fruit green figs and a caviar accord that gives a savoury twist to the fruit. The savoury tone is much more bread-like than anything that resembles caviar. To me it smells like cookies, slightly yeasty and only a tiny bit salty. It has a sun-kissed coconut vibe that would work well with salty sea air. Almost a sun lotion feel.”
Apply with caution though, as Thomas says it is as strong as napalm. Believe it or not, he is actually a fan of that bonkers bottle!
Other At The Beach fragrances:
Sel Marin, Heeley
Virgin Island Water, Creed
Hot Summer Nights
There was much excitement in the room at the chance to try this newly released perfume. It comes hot on the heels of Denyse Beaulieu’s book ‘The Perfume Lover’ which tells the story of its creation with perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour. It was the hit of the evening.
“Inspired by one particularly steamy summer night, Séville à l’aube is a beautiful honeyed orange blossom, perhaps the best orange blossom I have ever smelled. It’s rich, luminous and resinous. To link the warmer base notes with the floral accord Bertrand used an intriguing kind of lavender called Luisieri, a heavy, resinous and liquorice-like lavender”.
Another string to his bow is that Thomas is the official book reviewer for Basenotes.net, where you will find his take on ‘The Perfume Lover‘.
Another Hot Summer Nights Fragrances:
Angel, Thierry Mugler
Thomas assured us that a tiny spritz of this is heavenly on a hot and sticky night.
Three floral fragrances with a twist:
Voile de Fleur, Tom Ford (discontinued)
Out of these lavenders, Thomas thinks Antiheros is one of the very best.
Lavender, Caldey Island
Antiheros, Etat Libre d’Orange
Caron Pour Un Homme
So, all in all, a wonderfully varied and quirky summer selection was presented, I’m sure you’ll agree. Lots of fun and laughs aplenty, a great time was had by all. Just what you’d expect from one of the most fabulously unique voices to be found in the blogosphere and we are all the richer for it.