Saturday, May 26, 2012

Re-View: Lucky You

Around my piece of the planet, green grass only starts to dominate the ground in late May and its only about now where I have finally "caught up" with everybody else on the continent season-wise. Its pondering the verdant natural carpet that leads me to my next review.

Lucky You - for Men, Lucky Brand

The Goods

In the late 90's Lucky Brand got on the bandwagon with hundreds of other clothiers, fashion houses, retailers, shops, boutiques, etc. to venture out into their own expanded merchandising. As I've mentioned before, this period of time was an explosion of nirvana in men's fashion. Mall culture caught up to the male gender and everybody who was somebody in the business wanted to rein in on the cultural shift. Often, in-house scents produced by retailers and individual brands during this era of male enlightenment, so to speak, leaned heavily in the soapy, grassy, and clean section of the athletic variety, and ended up being overwhelming or just too weak. Lucky Brand, just one of many venturing out, struck green gold in 2000 releasing Lucky You, which took the classic green scent and turned it on its 21st century head.

Perhaps its the cotton flower top note, but the first experience of Lucky You gives me an unintelligble sensation that I can only compare with fabric. Call it a bizarre mixup of the senses, but I definitely feel fabric as a "scent". Regardless of its origin or what note it may be attributed to, its a soft clean scent that helps temper down the go-to elements of a fresh green fragrance. Too often "greens" can be summed up to smelling like lawn clippings and Lucky You does a masterful job of avoiding that pitfall with its soft freshness.

Normally I'm able to pump it up a bit and drop all kinds of mad rhymes to go along with my thoughts and ideas, but Lucky You puzzles me. Another guess of mine is that the teakwood base note, also a soft, clean smell, does what the cotton flower does at top: keep the greens in line and keep the fragrance compatible to a man's skin. A gentle and almost undetectable dose of sandalwood also does some of the work in this regard.

I prefer wearing Lucky You in the morning. Yes, in the morning! If you're not a morning person, like me, rare fragrances like these can do wonders of keeping you awake and feeling clean enough to drag yourself into the nearest Starbucks for your first proper wake-up without looking like a starlet-gone-wrong photo shoot.

Argent's Random Artistic Fragrance Word Association

Parks. Gardens. Ball caps. Cargo shorts. Sandals. Flower patches. Sunrise. Garden hose. Sunglasses. Convertibles. Messenger bags. Buses. Clouds. Sidewalks. Weeds. Hair highlights. Button-ups. Converse hi-tops. FM radio.


Lucky You presents a classic green fragrance with just the right combination of warmer undertones and soft, fabric top notes to give the user a fresh sensation without being muddled down, a big danger on a hot summer day.

Rank It Up!

7 of 7 Sprays

Friday, May 25, 2012

2012 FiFi Awards Wrap-Up

Wow! What a year for the awards. Both of my official predictions won their categories and my side guesses/unofficial predictions even happened as well.

First off, * U.S.A. winning the packaging award was a no-brainer. The whole ensemble really had a punchy but cool statement. Definitely looking forward to seeing this award evolve as does packaging, which has been stepping out of the box on the men's side after a somewhat boxy 2000's.

Gucci Guilty Pour Homme has definitely been a divisive fragrance since its debut, due to its complex and unique makeup, and it taking top honors for men's luxe fragrance of the year wont change that. Ultimately a matter of taste that couldn't be settled objectively had to decide amongst the finalists and I can't think of a better way to do it. Personally, I'd rather have to decide between fragrances with only subjectively debatable qualities than have to sift through those with obvious, objectively debatable qualities.

Given the competition and the high caliber of finalists I am now even more eagerly looking forward to 2013, and hopefully I'll be able to do a comprehensive finalist assessment next spring.

Stay tuned for more, because June is right around the corner and it's time to dive into more reviews, newslets, and other awesome stuff as the temperatures heat up!

For more information on the FiFis visit their website here 

Next Time

Feeling Lucky?

Monday, May 21, 2012

2012 FiFi Awards Special Part 2: Fragrance of the Year - Men's Luxe

This year's finalists for Men's Luxe FotY lean in the clean direction, but there is an obvious diversity when it comes to the classic families between woods, greens, etc., meaning that this year's award will be highly trend-conscious.

As I've said in the previous post, I have not sampled all of the finalists but I'm still willing to make predictions based on note palettes and a series of reviews, comparing them to likewise reviews of samples of I have smelled. My post on the finalists will be a bit brief in light of this as well. And one last note, my prediction for the winner doesn't necessarily mean I personally prefer it myself because I don't have all my "notes" in order, so to speak. Ha!

Here's the lineup:

2012 Finalists - Fragrance of the Year - Men's Luxe
  • Armani Code Sport
  • Gucci Guilty Pour Homme
  • John Varvatos * U.S.A.
  • L'Homme Libre, Yves Saint Laurent
  • Un Jardin Sur Le Toit, Hermes

My Take

Armani's Code Sport is the definitive sport category fragrance in the running, and its bevy of mint top notes are a testament to that. What makes Code Sport interesting are its hints of ginger and vetiver, allowing some spiciness and richness to permeate what would otherwise be a humdrum wash-aquatic sport fragrance.

Gucci Guilty Pour Homme has a certain sex appeal, and there is no doubt about it. It may not have versatility like many great fragrances, but for what it is, Guilty Pour Homme stands on its own. Having a perfumed wood cedar base decorated with more bathing style higher notes (lavender, orange flower) is a bit unorthodox for today's masculine fragrance but there is a certain bond between the notes that allows Guilty Pour Homme to be manly and wearable.

On paper John Varvatos' * (Star) U.S.A. appears to have an identity crisis with the mixing of ginger, spruce, cardamom, tonka, and others, but it has solidified itself as an original with a modest fan base. It has been likened to a spicy, leathery, wood fragrance that has a juicy underbody which fools the smeller into thinking there might be a tone of citrus.

All too often patchouli and leather notes underscore fragrances a bit too much, but the makeup of YSL's L'Homme Libre make both base notes work with the fragrance as a whole and give it an evened out, all-day sensation. This is likely attributed to the pink pepper, violet leaf, and basil, which are all bright scents and yet have a parallel smooth undertone like leather.

Un Jardin Sur Le Toit by Hermes is a masterful green scent with bursting, yet refined, fruit. Grass, magnolia, and rose give a perfumed energy to the more gourmand scents of pear and apple. The one drawback of this fragrance is that while it is labelled as unisex, it is arguably more feminine than masculine (This is an example of why I believe there should be at least one unisex category in the FiFis)

Argent's Top Three


L'Homme Libre, Yves Saint Laurent


John Varvatos * U.S.A.


Gucci Guilty Pour Homme


This year will be a tough call for the FiFi in Men's Luxe. All five finalists are refined, clean fragrances but each one is quirky and highly unconventional in its own way. The deciding factor will be captivation, and I believe my top three all have that quality. The only thing that separates 1st, 2nd, and 3rd is the degree of originality vs. versatility, and I believe that Gucci Guilty Pour Homme's lack of versatility is made up for with presence and originality. It's hard to please everybody, especially enthusiasts who prefer versatility, but that's my honest take on the finalists this year.

We'll see who ends up taking home the trophies tonight, any of the finalists deserve to win!

Good luck out there and go get 'em Jane. You may just potentially be the best FiFi host(ess) of all time!

Stay tuned for my FiFi wrap-up posts including a look at the winners in other categories, my take on the Men's Fragrance Hall of Fame winner, hopes and dreams for fragrances in the future, and a brief look at some of the fragrance that have already debuted in 2012 which may have FiFi 2013 on the horizon.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

2012 FiFi Awards Special Part 1: Intro & Best Packaging Men's Luxe

This year the FiFi Awards, given to the best and brightest in the fragrance industry, celebrates its 40th anniversary and it couldn't be a better time to be a fragrance enthusiast. Not only is the industry alive and well, its expanding, as more fragrance makers have been popping up around the world. This is echoed in the stratification of categories in the FiFis to promote the celebration of fragrances in all levels of production, distribution, and consumer demand, which is a great way for niche and small perfumers to show off specialty wares that warrant just as much adoration as flagship labels and creators.
FiFi Award

I'm constantly told "Oh, I didn't know about the FiFis!", and I have a logical explanation as to why they are not common knowledge as awards in other industries. Sampling! When there are awards for movies, TV, art, etc., nominated works can be seen or reviewed easily by the masses. When it comes to fragrance, only an insider or a die-hard would have the patience and fortitude to find samples of fragrances in competition to review, which is especally true since the final 5 isn't revealed until a month before the awards and doesn't leave much time to collect samples. That dichotomy alone is why awards for fragrance are not as commonplace. I myself would love to be able to review as many nominations as possible but even for a collector that can be challenging.

Moving on, this year I'm only focused on the Men's Luxe category. I don't preclude myself from being a snob, unfortunately, but it's only this category in which I've been able to smell samples of, and not even all of them, so my opinion is a mix of my first hand experience of some of the scents combined with my take on reviews and opinions floating around the interwebs. I do appreciate niche and classic scents, but my forte is the uber-modern and staying current. I love seeing where fragrance is going

To get things going, let's start off by talking about packaging and the finalists for the 2012 FiFi for Best Packaging of the Year - Men's Luxe. Packaging may be akin to the old adage "Never judge a book by its cover", but in fashion presentation is key. The art of packaging allows the creator to convey their message in a supplementary manner. This allows the viewer, and potential customer, consider where the fragrance is coming from artistically, which is a more powerful compulsion than most people realize. Although I do not recommend basing your sense of scents on packaging, it is a complementary artform that helps tell the story of fragrance over time.

2012 Finalists - Best Packaging of the Year - Men's Luxe
  • 34 boulevard Saint Germain, diptyque
  • Armani Code Sport
  • Gucci Guilty Pour Homme
  • Incense Oud, Kilian
  • John Varvatos * U.S.A.
  • Sweet Redemption, The end, Kilian
My Take

The Kilian house is represented with two finalists in the category and has a great eye when it comes to presentation (tassled key-like boxes with luxurious linings among others), but its bottling leaves something to be desired. This isn't to say the bottling isn't beautiful, it's based on Kilian's repeated use of the same bottle style, much like any line wanting to stick to a more apothecary vision of bottling. This method is somewhat en vogue lately because of its vintage hearkening back to the time when bottling was universal rather than specialty, but I have yet to see a perfumer rival Bond No. 9 when it comes to this method. Bond uses the same star-shaped template for every fragrance it produces but yet goes beyond the realm to give each its own clearly distinct flavor and personality by means of photography, design, patterns, etc.

Armani Code Sport and 34 boulevard Saint Germain both showcase timeless design elements from the 80's; the subdued but yet candied branding, the finessed yet practical bottling, and the cleanliness. However, between the two, I have to lean in favor of 34 boulevard just because the top's numbered embossing looks has such a distinct personality. The design house's unique trademark round shape of the bottle speaks volumes as well. Not quite circular, not quite oval, not quite rectangular, the shape that I'm calling "cameo" creates depth and interest. 

Gucci Guilty Pour Homme and John Varvatos * U.S.A. have the masculine elements of design wrapped up. Guilty's homage to the classic mid-20th century flask and U.S.A.'s gorgeous stopper mechanism cylinder have statement power without going into the territory of too overworked, as many masculine fragrances in broad/consumer production are. Between these two I give the edge to U.S.A. It's clean masculinity is not only captivating, but it's so downright original. Guilty has had a year of great branding and its packaging is also breathtaking, but it doesn't have that taste of originality.

Argent's Top Three

Here's the part where I make my prediction. I can't very well pick one to stick with, so I'll name my top 3, and it being close to the Olympics I can't help but use the classic Gold/Silver/Bronze distinctions.


Gucci Guilty Pour Homme


34 boulevard Saint Germain


John Varvatos * U.S.A.


My prediction is that Varvatos has best packaging wrapped up this year based on visual character that has its own, singular identity without visible contradiction, even though when dissected there are several artistic contradictions which make the packaging interesting and lasting. 34 boulevard Saint Germain will strike a note with those who prefer a cleaner, simpler identity and its subtle character may entice a part of the modernist crowd. Gucci Guilty Pour Homme has a bold, almost American Southwest meets high Italian fashion fusion that is hard to miss. Its only downfall is that it doesnt have the character of 34 boulevard or U.S.A. despite it having a rival amount of style.

Next: Last part of the Pre-Awards Breakdown, the big one: 
Fragrance of the Year - Men's Luxe

Re-View: D&G Light Blue

I'm looking forward to being able to more thoroughly review my collection, as well as document my ongoing acquisitions.

As a lead-up to my short post on the 2012 FiFi Awards, I want to review what is perhaps my favorite winner of a FiFi in my collection so far.

Light Blue - Pour Homme, Dolce & Gabbana

The Goods

I first picked up a full EDT of this gem in early 2009 when the closest Sephora to me opened. Light Blue Pour Homme makes my knees weak just thinking about it. When people think of citrus scents, they think of crisp, juicy, tangy tones that bite the senses. However, like the ever-popular orange creamsicle, Light Blue does something to the mandarin and grapefruit peel topnotes to strip them of the almost sour bite eponymous with citrus, and instead leaves the fresh, smooth, fruity body. It's this olfactory sense's tromple l'oeil that makes Light Blue sit harmoniously between summer and athletic fragrance groups: the athletic freshness without the stereotypical chill of mints, and the summer warmth without the stereotypical tanginess of citrus and sparkling spices. Middle notes add a more perfumed wood sense to the fragrance overall, but like a cloud dusted with shimmering copper, the musky base notes let the lighter scents sit on a firmer metallic base that prevents the men's version of Light Blue from becoming a feminine fragrance.

My preferred time to wear? During the height of any dry part of summer. You will have that summer scent nailed without the overdone mints (don't get me wrong, I absolutely love mints) which can fight your environs rather than complement it.

Light Blue Pour Homme won the 2008 FiFi Award for Best Fragance in the Men's Luxe category.

Argent's Random Artistic Fragrance Word Association

Commuter ferry. Peaches and cream. Yellow sand. Vines. Lamp posts. Brick arcade. Sunset. Flower shop. Tote bags. White briefs. Lip balm. Receipts. Crosswalks. Antipasti. Pencil lead. Suede.


Light Blue Pour Homme by Dolce & Gabbana is an essential fragrance for a summer lover's arsenal. From its rounded citrus corners to its musky core, this versatile fragrance is hard to wear wrong, even in the dead of winter for those who dare to wear white after Labor Day and set fashion trends instead of follow them.

Rank It Up!

7 of 7 Sprays

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Just a little lick of lemon

As uninteresting as my current neck of the woods in Alaska is, one thing that I do thoroughly enjoy is the dependence of the seasons. While I'm not a huge fan of summer because of seasonal allergies, sub-arctic summer is never too intense for me, but for sun lovers' sake, it boasts so much daylight (nearly 24 hours a day) and so much greenery that you don't even notice it will only maybe reach 80 F on any given day. The farther south I've lived, the worse I'm able to handle hot summers and it only seems to get worse with time. Even though my little bubble of space is now thrust into the rainy season of Alaskan spring it's hard to not jump into summer's palette right at this moment. Today I had a delicious piece of lemon coffeecake that so dearly reminded me of a classic fragrance in which lemon and some of its complementary scents create a timeless and all around good-guy men's fragrance.

Pierre Cardin - Pour Monsieur, Pierre Cardin

The Goods

Men's fragrance, colloquially called cologne despite actual definitions, is distinct from women's fragrance (colloquially called perfume). Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur appeared on the scene roughly a decade before post-industrial men's fashion laid roots on its way to a huge boom starting in the mid 1990's and railroading on rapidly today. My initial reaction to this scent which I first encountered in about 1996 was "Holy hell is this women's stuff?" But letting the scents seep in it clearly gives way to an opaque, distincly men's fragrance structure.

Gender is relative (both sociologically and biologically), and nowhere is that more true than in the fragrance industry. Certain notes might be labelled masculine in one era's tastes and switch to feminine in the next. For me, the three note ladder of lavender-geranium-vanilla screams feminine, as it would with most enthusiasts, but when charged with the masculine combination of basil-leather-sandalwood the classically feminine scents become accent pieces that fit the scent well and don't over-"perfume" the Pierre Cardin fragrance. When it comes down to it, Pierre Cardin for men is a premonition of fragrances in what would be the near future. It has a warm vibe with a clean cut edge that screams the arrival of men's fashion of the 1980's and the reshaping of the male condition.

My preferred use of this fragrance is Monday mornings, the time of the week you want to come in and say "I mean business" with a deceptively smooth exterior that lures in your competition.

Argent's Random Artistic Fragrance Word Association

Leather shoes. Ties. Stripes. Diamond earring. Steel chair. Computer. Brick cell phone. Clocks. Floor wax. Concrete. Zen garden. Driving. Shaving. Polish. Communications system. Price quote. Loft.


Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur is an unforgettable fragrance that has timeless appeal. It beckons to a time that borders between the height of the classic strong 20th century male and the dominance of yuppie as a precursor to the next century.

Rank It Up

6 of 7 Sprays. The only reason it's not 7 of 7 is that this fragrance does not have a modern "it" factor and its versatility is dated, regardless of its eternal appeal and enjoyment. Much like how vintage clothing can ride the fine line of being retro and chic vs. looking like a hippie or hipster, Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur is not recommended for frequent wear because you will smell "like the 80s".

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Summer Prep-Talk

Good day world! Time for another fascinating update in the world of men's fragrance, as seen through the tediously wordy mind of me.

For this review I'm going a little bit farther back to a scent that has been my usual go-to for quite some time, especially in summer.

Chrome, Azzaro

The Goods

I must confess the immediate post-spray split second sensation of this devastatingly grand fragrance is slimy, bitter, and quite frankly reeks. But less than 5 seconds after it's as if all the elements in Azzaro's 90's men's fragrance juggernaut, Chrome, layer themselves harmoniously as if they were intelligent beings. Bergamot leads the pack of gentle, daytime casual wear notes that remind me of walking along the rarer white sand beached coves along the Pacific Northwest coast in late summer. Underneath the light and airy lies a body of smooth musculature in the form of sandalwood, and the delicate ivy greenishly sits atop the woodier, oriental base notes to keep them from turning the fragrance into a heavy vs. light "cacolfactory" that is too contradictory to comprehend.

The soft, rosy base is also a shining example of how to make a fragrance long-lasting. The base lingers so long you'd wonder if The Cranberries had anything to do with it. But the meat of the fragrance is the experience somewhere in the middle, a balance of three sensations that seems to mimic an aquatic fragrance on paper but in execution ends up herbal and woody tinted with a bright glow. Glowing trees might be a good phrase to describe the middle note and overall interactions in this favorite of mine.

Argent's Random Artistic Fragrance Word-Association

Summer. Leaves. Mediterranean food. Eggshell linens. Cream slacks. Cliffs. Reception furniture. Gelato. Black hair dye. Rose gold. Glass coffeetables. Potted ferns. Skylines. Park paths. Sneakers. Petanque. Ramekins. Fountain pens.


Azzaro's Chrome is a versatile fragrance that can blend seamlessly from morning office hours to early evening affairs. While it will need a complementary buddy fragrance for upgrading for late night wear, Azzaro creates a zen-like fragrance layer that is so far unparalled in the 21st century.

Rank It Up

7 of 7 Sprays.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

FIRST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Review)

Starting a blog during the height of your busiest work season may not be the best of ideas, but I'm committed to the prospect of spending more time on my hobby.

Anydangways, let's begin the fragrant journey with my first attempt at a review. Dun dun dun DUN!

Be Delicious - Men, DKNY

The Goods

This is a recent addition to my fragrance wardrobe which completely caught me off guard. Having smelled samples of other DKNY fragrances in the past, nothing quite stood out to me in particular in the masculine side. The one scent I do remember enjoying was the original (women's) Be Delicious. The whimsical and iconic apple-shaped bottling is eye-catching and the fragrance is even more striking to the senses. Last month when I saw a full size of the men's release, which premiered in 2004, at a more discounted price I bought one sight unseen, or rather, scent unsmelled. This may sound like it's an irrational practice but to keep my tastes varied and my mind open I find it's best to dive into some labels head first just to give yourself the mobility to closely consider and experience what you might not normally gravitate to based on a fleeting sample.

Be Delicious - Men may appear to be stuck in the wood and coffee notes trend based on reading an ingredients list and by viewing its bold, brown color iconic of the 2000's, but the initial spray releases an entrapping freshness that rivals the clairvoyant and frantic emotion of any men's fragrance marketed as "youthful" or "athletic". What's so engaging about this experience is that the greener scent hues don't leave you smelling grass, but they are fresh just enough to give the deeper wood and coffee clean frame. Deeper, earthy notes aren't found the aforementioned "youthful" and "athletic" fragrances, but I'm willing to put Be Delicious - Men into an active daywear category rather than general casual based purely on its crisp energy that complements the soft neutral early 21st century vibe. Because of this contradiction I've been finding myself compelled to wear it as often as I can.

This next part of my review will be snippets of random artistic sundries that pop out from my brain based on my own experience of the scent. I find it hard to give reviews of scents justice only talking about notes and the desire to wear them, and want to delve deeper into what I know the scent to embody in my mind. I guarantee you my expressions are of the fuddy-duddy high concept art realm and wont be easily understood or appreciated (if at all), but I stand by them. This feature will be a different setup depending on my mood.

Argent's Random Artistic Fragrance Word-Association

Urban. Upcycle. Soft Noise. Paper & Pen. Hats. Wire. Boxes. Planting. Heirloom. Sunglasses. Cotton. Waistband. Hair gel. Shoelaces. Noon. Spray paint. T-shirts. Inkpad. Lo-fi. Drums.


Be Delicious - Men is captivating to an unknown degree and while its laced with light and casual tones I can't help but feel it's one of the most romantic scents I've ever experienced. The catalyst scent with a hard-to-describe mysterious aura which inspired me to write about fragrance and my collection in the first place. Thanks Donna!

Rank It Up

Although my brain and numerical value don't mix, I'll make an honest effort to maintain a scoring system just to reach out to my brothers and sisters who tend to have a more analytical thought process than I do.

7 Sprays (out of 7. Yeah, the max is an odd number and it's not 5. Deal with it)