If we look further back into fragrance history we find that in Mesopotamia the world’s first recorded chemist was Tapputi. Gosh, I really like that name! Tapputi was a perfume maker mentioned in a cuneiform tablet from the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamia. She distilled flowers, oil, and calamus with other aromatics like cyprus and myrrh, then added with water and filtered several times. And the dawn of a new era began. About that same time, we cheerfully credit the Egyptians with the origins of fragrance. You see, the Egyptians were the first civilization to have created glass, therefore, logically, they were the first people to store perfumes in bottles. The Egyptians had used fragrance for ceremonies and burials. Naturally, the elite (go figure) extended its use for their fancy-filled lifestyle. In the beginning, the fragrances were made from myrrh, frankincense along with the local flowers of lily and rose. From here, the practice of developing fragrance caught on and was soon adopted by the Persians. Soon thereafter, the Ancient Greeks and Romans refined perfumery into a practice. In fact, the word “perfume” derives from the Latin meaning “through smoke”. Fast forward to 2004, archaeologists in Cyprus unearthed a 4000 year-old Bronze Age perfume factory. This is evidence that the fragrance business had already reached an industrial scale. It wasn’t until the Europeans mastered perfumery, thanks to the Arabic influence, that big business started to come into play. In the 14th-Century, Queen Elisabeth of Hungary had commissioned the first ever modern perfume. It was aptly named Eau de Hongrie (Hungary Water), it soon became the blueprint for eau de toilette that we know today.
The original Eau de Cologne is a spirit-citrus perfume launched in Cologne in 1709 by Giovanni Maria Farina, an Italian perfume maker from Santa Maria Maggiore Valle Vigezzo. He named his fragrance Eau de Cologne, in honor of his newly adopted hometown; Cologne, Germany. This development set the platform for a new era in men’s fragrance. He named his creation Kölnisch Wasser (Cologne water) after his place of residence. For us gentleman, this is where it all began. Back then, perfume served a sanitary purpose. The term “Eau de Toilette” derives from an old French term meaning “cleaning water”. It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that brought modern perfumery to light. It was at that time that the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, had a penchant (as did many prominent statesmen) for fragrances. In fact, Napoleon had a standing order of 50 bottles of eau de cologne per month from Chardin, which he apparently used after having his imperial bath. Some years later in 1850, Emperor Franz-Josef of Austria Hungary had an exclusive sandalwood fragrance made for him by the house of Creed. *For those of you whom have not had the pleasure of experiencing Creed, I can only suggest that you do. In a word, Creed is magnificent!
In 1934, Caron founder Ernest Daltroff, created the very first fragrance for men. He named it “Pour Un Homme” aptly named “for a man”. I find it ironic that prior to 1934, all fragrance had been unisex. And now, in 2018, unisex fragrances seem to be making a comeback. I recently had been conducting research on mens grooming and fragrance. I have been informed by industry professionals across the board that unisex fragrances were on the rise. One thing is for sure; new techniques and ingredients constantly change the industry, and product is available to all consumers. At present mass production is in full effect, men’s fragrance is a booming billion-dollar business with no end in sight!
# 1. Kilian
And now as we enter into the last months of 2018, my first point of research is Kilian. This September, Kilian welcomed a new fragrance called Dark Lord. Dark Lord is joining the best-seller Black Phantom to create the new Carpe Noctem collection. Although the packaging with a skull can appear a little spooky, Dark Lord opens with notes of sichuan pepper, bourbon pepper essences and bergamot. In its heart, jasmine and Davana are wrapped in rum. At its base, vetiver is woven with leathery India Cypriol, a woody overdose of cedarwood, and patchouli. Kilian establishes the CARPE NOCTEM Collection with the launch of its latest fragrance, DARK LORD ‘EX TENEBRIS LUX’, a vetiver creation. BLACK PHANTOM ‘MEMENTO MORI’ honors the haunting, ancient motto of pirates—remember death—as well as their libation of predilection: dark coffee with a decadent dash of rum. DARK LORD ‘EX TENEBRIS LUX’ assumes a different sort of spin, yet no less in the wild of night. A head- twisting mix of shadows and light, it seduces in seconds with its elegant, long-lasting accords of leather and strong vetiver, its jasmine drenched in rum, and a dandyish entrance of bergamot and pepper. From darkness, into light.
Kilian’s Dark Lord has been developed with a gentleman of the night in mind. It’s makeup is a duo of Sichuan Pepper and Bourbon Pepper Essences are instantly magnetic, vibrating with opening notes of Bergamot breathing life and light as a rst impression. A moment crafted for members only, by French perfumer Alberto Morillas in close collaboration with Kilian Hennessy.
“DARK LORD is the perfect everyday scent—it is elegant, rich and lasts all day,” explains Kilian Hennessy. “Our Vetiver essence from Haiti is really the backbone of the scent; it is present from top to drydown. But, like all my scents, DARK LORD is built on layers to add character and complexity.”
Each CARPE NOCTEM fragrance comes in a glossy black coffret, signed with a silk black tassel. Honestly, it looks kind of cool and is certainly a statement piece to display either in your bathroom or on a dresser. Decorated on its sides with KILIAN’s iconic Shield of Achilles motif, it is crowned with a skull emerging from the depths of darkness. “
Who is the ideal partner-in-crime? “A night owl, adventurous and unpredictable,” says Kilian Hennessy— with an ever-so-subtle smile.
Lay your daily cares aside, and dive into your darkest instincts with a partner-in-crime crying CARPE NOCTEM. Time has come to seize the night with intrigue, excitement and a little—or a lot—of indulgence, for tomorrow is another day.
#2. EX NIHILO
To clarify, EX NIHILO is the name of the brand. The Hexagone is a luxury travel case designed to carry the EX NIHILO eau de parfum vials. The name Hexagone derives from the shape of France as well as the 6 sides of the logo. The container comes in black and white and is both practical and visually appealing. I have often found it quite difficult to pack fragrance while traveling. EX NIHILO has developed the perfect solution. Each vial is protected by a foam packaging encasement. I can only say that I wish that someone had developed this packaging years ago- as I am sold on it 100%.
I recently had the privilege of asking Benoît Verdier, Co-Founder of EX NIHILO a couple of questions about the fragrance.
Jospeh DeAcetis: Why did you develop the HEXAGONE travel case? What was your inspiration?
Benoit Verdier: HEXAGONE is part of our new collection of nomadic objects for the most discerning travelers. Its ethos is Parisian design, function, and pleasure. Due to the international growth of EX NIHILO, we travel a lot, so we needed an elegant and functional little object to carry our fragrances everywhere. Its facing can be customized with different precious materials so if you like personalization, expect other colors and limited editions in the future!
JD: What makes EX NIHILO such a special brand?
It was created from scratch. We try to challenge stereotyped luxury and bring a whole new experience to the high fragrance universe. Surprisingly not being perfumers helped us to think out of the box and bring fresh, disruptive ideas about the fragrance experience as a whole 360° journey. We found this image of the omnipotent creative director quite outdated. We prefer to play more collectively. You are more creative and efficient when you work with people who complete your own skills. Collaboration is at the core of our DNA. We draw inspiration from many fields in the artistic community such as fashion, architecture, design, photography, to propose a fresh version of what new French Avant-garde could be. If some of our competitors could be compared to Rolls Royce or Bentley, we would like to be compared to Tesla! or at least its French equivalent if it existed!
#3. Acqua di Parma
The next fragrance on my list has a precious ingredient in a new olfactory composition created by Acqua di Parma. The fresh, citrus notes of Colonia combined with sandalwood merged to produce an intriguing scent. An original reinterpretation of the iconic Acqua di Parma perfume, Colonia Sandalo is the new and luxurious Eau de Cologne Concentrée by Acqua di Parma. In a word, the fragrance retains all the traditions of Colonia, while introducing an element of surprise through harmonious contrasts. The nice thing about the fragrance bottle is the packaging and Colonia Sandalo is packaged in the iconic Art Deco bottle, in colors that run through the entire collection: a deep brown for the bottle made from the clearest glass and for the stopper, with light bronze satin highlights for the label. It seems as though every detail, material and workmanship reflect the Italian craftsmanship that has always distinguished every Acqua di Parma creation. I recently learned that essential sandalwood oil has been harvested for more than 4,000 years from the wood of the Santalum tree. The oil is extracted from the duramen, the innermost and most fragrant – as well as the toughest – part of the trunk. According to Indian yogis and sages, the perfumed essence of this mystical and sensual wood soothes the mind and accesses the profoundest layers of a person’s mind during meditation. In aromatherapy, the perfume of the sandalwood is used to calm, relieve tension and find inner peace. A precious material in cabinet-making, sandalwood has been used for thousands of years to make musical instruments, sending their melodies into the air along with perfumed, balsamic notes. Introduced into the Western pharmacopoeia by Arabic physicians in the Middle Ages, the essential oil of sandalwood became an extremely valuable ingredient for high perfumery thanks to its ability to give every fragrance an unmistakable balsamic, creamy note.
Acqua di Parma’s great Italian history began in 1916 in a small essential oil workshop in the heart of old Parma. Here, Carlo Magnani, a man of great elegance and refinement who was an heir to a noble family of Parma, created a fragrance which was unusually fresh and modern and which reflected his lifestyle. It was the first real Italian cologne – Colonia by Acqua di Parma. It soon became a new classic destined for timeless success. The composition of Colonia, still unchanged today, is gaining ever greater popularity.
In the 1930s, it became the “perfume” of the era. Its art deco-inspired bottle with its classic black stopper in Bakelite was born during these years and immediately affirmed itself as a real style icon hence why, we see it displayed in a handful of the best specialty stores around the world. In the 1950s, Colonia attained international success. Hollywood actors, invited to Italy by the great masters of Italian cinema, discovered its intimate and refined notes in the historic bespoke tailors’ shops where a puff of Acqua di Parma’s fragrance would be squirted by the tailor before handing over a made-to-measure suit – a tradition which has connected Colonia from its birth to the world of men’s bespoke tailoring and makes it a must-have accessory. Moving forward in the 1960s, fashions changed, but Colonia continued to exert an immutable appeal and proved to be the preferred fragrance of an international elite of connoisseurs, remaining as such until the 1990s when, due to three well-known Italian entrepreneurs united in their passion for Colonia, Acqua di Parma gained new strength, giving rise to new creations.
What I find most intriguing is how Acqua di Parma became a philosophy of life which inspired clear social references. Refined, cultured men, and elegant, sophisticated women found in Acqua di Parma the expression of a luxury that is not showy, the heritage of a brand which drew from the experience of Italian craftsmanship, deriving its own value from it. And now, the world of Colonia is enriched with new creations intended for the home – a collection of exquisite sponges, ambiance sprays and perfumed candles. Found in Europe, Asia and the United States, Acqua di Parma continues to celebrate Italian excellence, offering small masterpieces of craftsmanship, which anchor its roots in ancient knowhow, to a very discerning and cultured consumer.
BYREDO was founded in 2006 by Ben Gorham. Ben began to be intrigued by scent and memory after travelling to his mother’s hometown in India, where he was stirred by the aromas of spices and incense. Inspired by this trip, BYREDO’s scented candles and perfumes have been developed with an understated approach, using simple composition of the highest quality raw materials.
A native Swede, born to an Indian mother and a Canadian father, Ben grew up in Toronto, New York and Stockholm. He graduated from the Stockholm art school with a degree in fine arts, but a chance meeting with perfumer Pierre Wulff convinced him that he’d rather create fragrances than paintings. Luckily for us consumers, with no formal training in the field, Gorham, a 31-year old , sought out the services of world renowned perfumers Olivia Giacobetti and Jerome Epinette, explaining his olfactory desires and letting them create the compositions. As an outsider in the beauty industry, Ben is somewhat of an anomaly and has been recognized for his personal style and connection to fashion and art. It just goes to show all of us entrepreneurs out there that there are many pathways to achieve our goals!
“I wanted to travel until I did not have to search anymore. Today I know that life is a journey that brings youto the end of the world, a return to the harmony we have lost.” Thus speaks the great Swiss explorer Ella Maillart, who in 1951 was one of the rare Westerners to reach Nepal, the birthplace of Buddha.
Eleventh Hour fragrance is an exploration around the smell of things ending, a journey to the end of Time, the last perfume on Earth. The top notes, led by the peppery and citrus accents of ban timmur, take us to the Nepali highlands, where this plant grows. Wild fig, the first forbidden fruit, is the heart note of Eleventh Hour. A symbol of desire, its sweet and captivating scent encapsulates the smell of danger. The warmth of tonka bean combined with notes of cashmere wood emanates energetic radiation, similar to that released by our solar plexus when it opens wide. As if a bond was recreated between man and cosmos.
Listen folks, we are all aware that fragrance advertising campaigns can be more dramatic than lying naked on a bear rug in front of a dimly lit fireplace while reading a heated romance novel. Moreover and more importantly, most men are not driven by the high drama and poetic prose that are the creative essence and make-up of these brands. In fact, statistics strongly prove that many men’s fragrances are purchased for men by women so I reckon we all see who the marketing focus may very well be. Whatever the case is, I enjoy wearing a scent each day. For me, a splash of fragrance is the final touch before heading out the door for the work day or an evening event. To sum it up; the famous polo player and Ralph Lauren model Nacho Figuras once said ” I do believe that using fragrance is a plus. It’s one of our senses and it would be a waste not to use our sense of smell. It tells a lot about a person”.