Cold, dreary days, a waistline that’s more than likely expanded and a bank balance that’s positively sylphlike in contrast are bound to set in motion the dreaded ‘January blues’. As you trudge back to work, wearily lamenting the wish-list of scents that Santa somehow forgot and yearning for something new to pep up your spirits – fear not, we have the answer. Well, several, in fact!
Apart from our glorious SALE – three for the price of two on all our own Perfume Society Discovery Boxes! – let’s look back to the times we asked top fragrance bloggers Persolaise and Get Lippie, along with our own Senior Writer Suzy Nightingale, to compile a list of their five favourite fragrances for under £30.
Click on their names, above, to be whisked to the bargain fragrant suggestions…
We’re not going to pretend that some of our all-time faves aren’t quite a bit more expensive than the budget we set for these scents, but it’s also important to remember that some truly great fragrances happen to be far more pocket-friendly, too.
We wonder if you can guess what they chose, if any of your favourites are included – or perhaps you have some fragrant bargains of your own to share?
Tell us your favourite guilt-free splurges on scent by Tweeting us, posting a picture and tagging us on Instagram or by emailing us at the office. We’re anxious to know!
The story of Alford & Hoff follows two athlete chums who met at college in America who happened to share a passion for scent and skin care – even though they were mercilessly teased for it in the locker roms – through their incarnation as business entrepreneurs and onto launching their own incredibly successful skin care, luxury fashion and accessories and now fragrance line. Barry Alford told us how their latest scent, No. 3, is ‘every day sexy’, and inspired by a unique (and rather bizarre!) industrial product. Intrigued? We certainly were, and wanted to know his five favourite scents, too. It soon became clear: Alford & Hoff are not your average fragrance house…
As Barry explained, ‘Alford & Hoff is basically a brand that’s about two buddies who were at college together and wanted to start their own gig. We didn’t know what we wanted to do, but we wanted to work together. Eventually we decided on a men’s skincare brand. I know that might seem unlikely, but we were the only two guys in our collegiate football team who were doing all the grooming and getting all the flack. As soon as I saw he had the same fragrances as me – I’m talking Drakkar and Farenheight, here – I knew I was going to be friends with him. I thought, finally, someone else who understands’
Super-savvy, they talked about starting a business together, but ‘…Jefferson [Hoff] went into the financial market on Wall Street. And when we gained success we were both spending more on our products – we just loved them. We still had these dreams of starting a business together, and knew it had to be something we were passionate about. Through my medical contacts I met a plastic surgeon and he helped us brand a male skincare line backed by his expertise and we got into Neiman Marcus on the back of that’
The male grooming market may have moved on in leaps and bounds these days, but Alford & Hoff were way ahead of their time, and that led them into the world of fragrance. ‘I think we were successful because we were two former athletes that were making it okay for guys to take care of themselves. We wanted to venture further and decided to launch a fragrance – which we were always so in to and still were! – and that became our Signature fragrance. It actually started to out perform our skincare line, and when in 2009 the economy crashed we decided to pull back and focus on that. It carried us through. We’ve done a lot of work but now are proud to say in many stores our fragrances are on the shelves next to Tom Ford and John Varvatos, not because of some borrowed glory off the back of another line, but because they’re great fragrances.’
Discussing the fact that for years, men have been under catered-for in fragrance, Barry agreed, saying he felt ‘guys are becoming way more sophisticated, they want more than just a sports splash, a deodorant or something their mom gave them, they want to choose it themselves and they’re hungry for knowledge! And the feedback we get is that more men are after fragrances that not everyone else is wearing. I mean let me give you some statistics. We’re in the top twenty five percent of fragrance brands in stores at the moment based on sales. That’s pretty major for a small, niche company like us!’
Choosing the right ‘nose’ is essential for any fragrance house, but Barry and Jefferson wanted someone they could have a really close working relationship with. ‘Rodrigo Flores-Roux has done all of our fragrances. We knew how good he was, that he’d worked on so many great brands, but didn’t choose him just for his reputation. We really hit it off, and to have that first fragrance be FiFi nominated in the first year just proved how well it worked! No. 2 was lighter and fresher I guess, perhaps more traditional, more towards the sportier end of the market. But this third one is something really different.’
You can say that again. Having sniffed it – a soaring medley of citrus that quickly deepens to something altogether deeper and sexier – we were astonished to hear that ‘…it’s inspired by days selling medical equipment. I know that sounds completely bizarre but please stay with me!’
‘I used to spend a lot of time in the operating room, consulting with surgeons during a procedure. 80% of my business was craniotomies, meaning I’d be working with neurosurgeons, and one product in particular was a cranial bone cement. And this putty, when you mix the sodium solution with the powder, it just makes the most beautiful smell. And everyone in every operating theatre I’ve ever been in says the same thing, for over ten years. “Oh my god I love the smell of this stuff!” I mean they gather ’round to smell it. So that’s what we tried to do with this fragrance – tied to metallics and aldehydes and a blend of vetivers’
‘Rodrigo got this bang on, first go. He delivered a masterpiece I think. I know he was just so inspired to be working from such a bizarre inspiration and it really triggered his creativity. I mean, I know industrial has been done in the niche world, but I don’t think anyone has done craniotomal cement before!’
Having learned of their unique inspirations and varied backgrounds, we could only guess that Barry’s five favourite smells (something we’re always intrigued to ask perfume people about) would be equally ecclectic. And we weren’t far wrong… 1. Gasoline – When my mom would go to pump gas I’d stick my head out the window of the car and love the smell! It does something to my throat, but I compare it to what they call the “drag” in fragrance. You know when you get this dry smell and just can’t stop inhaling? 2. Fresh cut grass – It reminds me of my football days, the peak of the season, being surrounded by people I love and having fun. 3. Halloween costumes straight from the packet – Another bizarre one, I know! But it’s just a fantastic smell, freshly unwrapped from the plastic. 4. Scotch tape – Its so unique and different, I’d recognise it anywhere and I guess those kinds of smells are comforting somehow. I think I have a really heightened sense of smell – I pick up on things others don’t. 5. The monsoon season in Arizona – When its rains in late summer after its been so hot in the desert. It’s unbelievable, and it’s sweet. I really want to use that in a fragrance. It’s gorgeous. I guess I’ll have to get Rodrigo out there to smell it for himself!
Alford & Hoff No. 3 £75 for 100ml eau de toilette
Exclusively at Harrods
Written by Suzy Nightingale
Juliette Karagueuzoglo is a brilliant perfumer who worked with mentor, Anne Flipo on creating the brand new Coach fragrance. We recently met up with Juliette for an exclusive interview about the creative process behind the scenes, but we always like to delve deeper and ask the deceptively simple question of ‘what are your five favourite smells…?’ 1 – One of the smells that’s really important to me is when I go on vacation to the south west [of France]. You have the smell of the pine trees, and the sea coming through, so you have the sense of the ocean mixing with the heat. When it’s hot the Pine trees have this sweet smell… I go back to this place each year, and I open the window as soon as I arrive and for me it’s such a pleasure just to breathe the air there. 2 – The smell of people I love. My kids, it’s so special, unique, you can’t beat it. I don’t even think I can put it into words. Then there’s my aunt, she used to wear Cabouchard and Magie Noire, so it got me into Chypre at an early age because I just loved the way she smelled! 3 – Patchouli is a very important smell for me, I love using this material in so many ways, it’s vital for me. 4 – Oh, iris! I discovered this plant we have in Lozere where we have the orris drying for six to nine months of the year in a heated room. When you enter you have this powdery feeling coming to you – just the smell of the rhizomes drying and nothing else, it’s completely amazing. 5 – I love all nature smells, but especially the ground just after it’s rained. The “petrichor“. It’s that special time when it’s rained but the ground’s drying and it’s hot, humid, dusty but at the same time you get this feeling of lushness. In big cities like Paris and New York after a big storm you can suddenly smell greenness even if you can’t see it. Nature reminding you it’s there…
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