Saturday, 30 July 2011


I'm not quite sure why I own so many fragrances when I rarely wear one (I think the ideal thing to smell of is *nothing*), but nonetheless these are my favourites out of the huge number which I have sampled over the years.

My current obsession is Bois D'Argent by Christian Dior. It was originally one of the three exclusive Dior Homme colognes developed by Hedi Slimane (the others were Eau Noire and Cologne Blanche) but, with Slimane departed from Dior, the range has now become part of La Collection Privée, Christian Dior's luxury fragrance collection (that is, with the exception of Eau Noire which was discontinued).

The original Gucci Pour Homme (created by Tom Ford) has been discontinued in most markets and replaced with the vastly inferior Pour Homme II. This is a shame, because it's a very distinctive, slightly woody cologne which smells like the cool, stone interior of an Italian church on a baking hot summer day, with its hint of candles and incense. I love the subversion of smelling like a church. I also like the bottle, the colour and the geometric patterned box. It's very 'un-Gucci' compared to the fragrances which the house has developed since Tom Ford left, all of which are united by their strong undertone of cheap deodorant.

The original Prada men's fragrance, Amber Pour Homme, and the more recent Infusion d'Homme are two particular favourites of mine. Both smell very clean and slightly soapy. The latter is described, surprisingly accurately, on the Prada website as "like stepping out of a fresh shower and putting on a clean white shirt." It's sort of like minimalism: the fragrance.

Acqua di Parma's Aranca di Capri from the Blu Mediterraneo collection is a very summery, orange-y scent, which is perfect for bringing a bit of Capri holiday spirit to grey London. Meanwhile, I love the very traditional, barber shop nature of Colonia Intensa, the men's update on the unisex Colonia.

Tom Ford's Neroli Portofino and Hermès' Orange Verte are both somewhat related to the Acqua di Parma Aranca di Capri: they're both very fresh and summery, both unisex, and both have slightly soapy orange notes ("notes" - is that even the right thing to say? I'm really not down with this fragrance speak.) The Neroli Portofino gets better every time I smell it.. it's very 'multi-layered' and deceptively complex. Tom Ford really knows how to make a fragrance.

I'm a huge fan of Dior Homme (also created by Hedi Slimane, but part of Christian Dior's commercial range rather than the Private Collection)... it smells really louche somehow, and even manages to bring to mind the rakish lines of Slimane's dark tailoring in spirit. I usually think of this one as a nighttime fragrance.

I'm not a fan of eating figs, but I really like Diptyque's unisex Philosykos fragrance. Meanwhile the Gareth Pugh cologne from the Six Scents (series 1) range is another favourite, and also has culinary notes (dill and black pepper).

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


During my free morning in Berlin I went up the Fernsehturm (TV tower). It's something I'd done the previous two times I visited Berlin, and it's a complete tourist trap, but I am obsessed with the space age communist architecture. Constructed in what was East Berlin between 1965 and 1969, the tower was designed by Hermann Henselmann, who was also the architect behind the modernist congress centre at which the Mercedes / Raf Simons event was held. I love how the angular pavilion at the base of the tower offsets the sphere and chops up the view as you look upwards.

Some interior shots; the circular/spherical theme is continued throughout:

Berlin is by no means a picturesque city, but I like the massive scale and the rather uncompromising nature of everything. The city's history gives this interesting mix of different architectural styles, with huge, brutal buildings sticking up over the place, especially in the former East where large-scale urban planning based around social housing was put into action. You can really appreciate this from the viewing deck of the Fernsehturm:

When you come down there is a souvenir shop selling all manner of Fernsehturm tat from dodgy fragrances to cookie cutters shaped like the structure. It's funny how the tourist industry has completely reinvented the shape of the building, particularly in regards to the pavilion at the base..

Hermann Henselmann's congress centre:

Another interesting piece of East German design is the Alexanderplatz Weltzeituhr (world clock) created in 1969 by the largely unknown German industrial designer Erich John:

There is a shop devoted to merchandise based on the idiosyncratic former East German street crossing symbols (Ampelmännchen), including gummy sweets shaped like the two figures. The post-modernist reduction of a design emblem of a communist state to capitalist merchandise, and all that...