Long before you hear reindeers clip-clopping across rooftops, the smell of Christmas starts to arrive. But not red wine, cloves and flaming puddings. Rather, the Santa’s sackful of fragrances that luxury brands target at the Christmas tree, which offer consumers an affordable way to buy into their favourite labels.
Though often safe – buying fragrance for your old man is no time to experiment with cannabis or ambergris – some are excellent. Gucci Pour Homme and Bleu de Chanel, for example, show how brand extensions should be done. But others reek so much of cash-in that you’d never want them on your skin. To which battlefield we welcome Paul Smith’s latest offering, Essential.
The brand has had a chequered history with scent, oscillating between interesting but less popular juices like Paul Smith London and Portrait, and commercial fragrances that perhaps sacrifice some olfactory experimentation, such as last year’s Extreme Sport. Essential admittedly tends towards the latter, but comes with a price tag that makes it easy to excuse its lack of experimentation. Especially when it’s such a pleasant wear.
Like Paul Smith’s tailoring, Essential doesn’t offer anything truly statement-making. But it emulates his suits in being wearable everyday, with enough individuality to ensure you make an impression. That means a scent that evolves quickly from an opening rich in citrus, as yuzu and ozonic accord entwine, through sage, orange and lavender before the dry down reveals a more masculine bouquet of cedarwood and patchouli.
All of which ticks off everything that you’d put on your fragrance Christmas list. Versatility, attention to detail and not too much of a dent in your bank balance. Meaning you can pick up one for your dad, and another for yourself. Well, you have been good this year.
Available at House of Fraser, priced £28 for 50ml Eau De Toilette Gift Set.
Bottle: A sober square glass, with the designer’s signature embossed up one side.
Head notes: ozonic accord, yuzu, rosemary;
Heart notes: clary sage, orange flower, lavender;
Base notes: cedarwood, patchouli, musks.
Best for: an easy, everyday fragrance. The ideal gift for someone with neither a signature scent, nor a glut of eau de toilettes littering their chest of drawers.