Ralph Lauren Polo Red Rush: Exclusive Q&A with perfumer

We caught up with Olivier Gillotin, the perfumer behind Ralph Lauren’s Polo Red Rush fragrance, for an exclusive Q&A and a sneak peek behind the scenes of his inspiration for creating the scent…

Q1. What was your inspiration behind POLO RED RUSH?

In designing the Polo Red Rush fragrance, I was inspired by the acceleration, elation and intensity during the very beginning of a race. I wanted to translate the rush of those never-ending first seconds into the fragrance. To achieve this vision, it needed to bring an immediate, intense freshness. Two ingredients inspired me at first: red mandarin for an impulsive, crispy start, then fresh mint for its energizing power.

Q2. How would you describe the way POLO RED RUSH smells?

I like to describe Polo Red Rush as an energetic red water – a fresh water tinted with crisp, energizing red notes. The citrus top notes (red mandarin, red grapefruit, lemon and pineapple) complement the spearmint mid note for an immediate fresh effect. The scent evolves on the skin with facets of red saffron while orange flower adds a masculine watery fluidity. Finally, a vibrant burst of roasted red coffee is streamlined with Cedarwood, bringing a new sleekness and elevating the background with an enamoring trail of woody musk.

Q3. How does POLO RED RUSH fit into the POLO RED franchise?

Polo Red Rush takes the franchise to the next level, capturing the sensations of speed, seduction and freedom. With its fresh, invigorating and surprising association of citrusy mint and cedarwood, Polo Red Rush perfectly rounds out the Polo Red portfolio.

Q4. What are the main differences between POLO RED, POLO RED EXTREME AND POLO RED RUSH?

Polo Red Rush is a crisp, energetic new interpretation of the original Polo Red. It elevates a spiced, cool watery freshness and bold red citrus profile. Spearmint from Morocco joins as a new bracing and dynamic element. Coffee notes play a supporting role to enhance a sleekly sensual dry-down with cedarwood and musk.

Q5. How did you choose the key notes for POLO RED RUSH? What makes the olfactive structure so intriguing?

Polo Red Rush masters a high proportion of saffron that is paired up with citrusy mint. I chose to elevate saffron for its unique and vibrant character able to unveil a fascinating fresh-spicy facet. Mint – saffron is an unusual and surprising association that creates a fresh yet intense and refined energy. Both ingredients fit perfectly well and complement each other.

Q6. Were there any special techniques or stand-out ingredients used to achieve your vision for POLO RED RUSH?

The creation process has been a construction – deconstruction “game”. My original intention was to design the ultimate experience of fresh energy for the Polo Red thrill-seeker. After translating this idea into fragrance, I deconstructed the formula to clearly identify and highlight its best facets – crisp and citrusy mint, cedarwood, saffron. I then removed all unnecessary ingredients to maintain the most relevant ones and to develop the fragrance in a fresh, unique and refined way.

Q7. What makes POLO RED RUSH so crisp and energizing?

Polo Red Rush has everything of a fresh water putting the emphasis on citrus and mint. In addition to that, I highly elevated saffron, as a powerful red spice imbued with fresh intensity and a key ingredient for the franchise. The combination of citrusy mint and saffron create this unique crisp and energizing freshness.

Q8. You’ve often described how the color red inspires you. How did you channel that inspiration into an entirely different olfactive experience for POLO RED RUSH?

For each Polo Red fragrance, I ensured that the smell brought to mind the color red. Polo Red and Polo Red Extreme respectively focused on the symbolic of seduction and power. With Polo Red Rush, I wanted to explore another strong and explicit meaning: energy. It inspired me to design a red water acting like a booster. This red water needed to be olfactively infused with the positive and stimulating energy of the color to be able to master a never ending rush.

Ralph Lauren Polo Red Rush £55 for 75ml eau de toilette
Try it at debenhams.com

We go behind the scenes with Acqua di Parma's heart-melting ad

Acqua di Parma have been serving us stylish Colognes since 1916, their heritage leading us to beautiful city of Parma – famous for its violets, and strong cultural traditions. With their original Colonia, Acqua di Parma offer something crisp, subtle, utterly refreshing elegance – the sense of Italian style, bottled. Refined and wearable, Colonia became an instant – and now timeless – classic.
The fragrance was worn by stylish men, movie stars and those who understood luxury. (And borrowed, we’re sure, by many of the women in their lives – just as today.) The chic hand-made Art Deco bottle and vibrant yellow hat box style packaging graced many a smart bathroom shelf – and by the 1960s, it was a ‘best-kept secret’ shared by those-in-the-know. Rich in Sicilian citrus (bergamot, lemon, bitter and sweet oranges), this sparkling creation unfolds to a heart of lavender and Bulgarian rose, on warm, woody base notes – a formula that’s never changed…
But now, there’s a new Cologne in town, with Acqua di Parma launching Colonia Pura – a contemporary and highly refined interpretation of the Italian classic. Fresher still, balancing delicacy and boldness, the top notes of spicy coriander harmonise with the classic citrus burst, while in the heart we encounter sambac jasmine and petit-grain with the startling sensuality of the ultra-green narcissus absolute. In the base, musk and patchouli sink into the soothing woodiness of cedar, and all things said, this has to be one of the sexiest just-out-the-shower, gorgeous-man’s-skin scents we’ve sniffed for quite some time…

As for the ad campaign  (see the video, above) – oh it’s just heart-meltingly lovely, and not only for the fact it stars model Will Chalker (whom we’d be happy to look at under any circumstances) but because his adorable family star alongside him. Shot by photographer Josh Olins, we’re loving this modern take on ‘masculinity’ focusing on a man’s contemporary life – and one that very much that includes the model’s wife, Chloe, and son, Arthur.

Will Chalker says: ‘I have known about Acqua di Parma for a long time, it’s a brand you kind of associate with Italy and the sun, elegance and style. It is one of my favourite campaigns, just because I get to shoot with my wife and son. It makes it feel more about us just having fun as a family and creating these little moments that, you know, we can capture in photos.’

Talking of capturing the mood, we were thrilled to get a sneak peek at what happened behind-the-scenes during the shoot, and share it with you, below…

A shot of sunshine and warm feelings is exactly what we need right now, seeing as autumn has arrived way before we were ready for it. Watching the campaign videos and spritzing Colonia Pura could be the only way we get through the grey-er months at TPS Towers, frankly. And yes, we’re ‘borrowing’ this, too. (He totally nicks our luxe beauty products, so share and share alike, right?)
Acqua di Parma Colonia Pura from £66 for 50ml eau de Cologne
Buy it at John Lewis
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Jasper Conran gets Naked!

Having already been Nude, Jasper Conran’s now getting Naked with a new masculine eau de toilette you’ll definitely want to get beneath the wrappings of…
Can we take a moment to celebrate the fact that men are now getting more variety in the scent world? While it’s not often we shed a tear for the chaps, we must admit they have been horrifically under-catered for until very recently, with only sporty/fresh/musky options in practically all ranges. Now there are more interesting combintions, including (gasp) flowers creeping in, and we couldn’t be more pleased. Floral notes nd softly powdered green touches such as violet leaves (read on, below) smell a-maz-ing on a man’s skin and with the weather (hopefully) warming up, it’s a great time to hoorah about that fact.
Jasper Conran say: ‘Aromatic and effortlessly masculine Naked encapsulates Jasper Conran’s refined approach to scent, first experienced with his signature lines Woman and Man and more recently Nude for women.’ Talking about the inspiration for Naked Man, and how it’s meant to make you feel, they go on to explain it’s all about the emotions beneath that ‘Natural attraction, effortless masculinity…’
It’s a pretty clear olfactory theme – what lies beneath the clothes he’s so famous for? Well as it happens, in Jasper Conran’s world the Nude or Naked skin smells pretty damn great. But what did we make of it? Well, let’s undress this a little…
At first it’s all about the zest – grapefruit and bergamot – a burst of freshness that makes you want to strip off and run through the sprinklers in the park. But maybe resist that urge for now and wait for the intriguing notes of violet leaves, entwined with the shady cool of breeze of vetiver, to take root. Finally, cedarwood slinks to a base of lightly handled patchouli, warm tingles of amber and a smoothly leathery sandalwood. It’s definitely one to
A modern masculine with refinement at its core, we’re loving the elegant bottle and will totally be borrowing this from the chaps!

Jasper Conran Naked Man, £35 for 100ml eau de toilette
Buy it at debenhams.com
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Alford & Hoff No. 3 – the 'every day sexy' niche scent inspired by cranial cement (yes, really!) and Barry Alford's five favourite smells…

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!’
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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!’
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‘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!
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Alford & Hoff No. 3 £75 for 100ml eau de toilette
Exclusively at Harrods
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Abercrombie & Fitch break the mould with new men’s launch First Instinct

Abercrombie and Fitch have been a brand synonymous with gorgeous boys, polo shirts, muscly abs and horse riding, but not any more. To go with a brand new look they have in store, all slick shirts and modern cuts, they’ve released a new fougère fragrance for men, First Instinct.

Inspired by the fearless male, perfumer Phillipe Romano created First Instinct with the hopes of blending a contemporary fragrance that took the fresh facets of fougère scents and combined them with the warmth of orientals. And what he produced does just that.

First off, it breaks the mould with an unusual top note of melon; fruity notes are uncommon in male fragrances, and with good reason, but this melon blends beautifully with a gin and tonic accord to make for a sparkling and refreshing opening. Clean and crisp on the nose.

Moving on to an inviting heart of green and slightly aqueous violet leaves, there’s a touch of citrus that adds evermore to the freshness of the whole affair, it later trails off with a spicy but soft black pepper. The base is rounded off sweetly with cashmere woods, warm and rich amber, and sueded musk.

Housed in a sleek textured glass bottle that gives the affect of rippling water, we can picture it perfectly on the neck of a sea swept and sun-kissed man. We urge you to have a sniff.

Abercrombie and Fitch First Instinct £30 for 30ml eau de toilette
At Selfridges

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Adventurer & inspirational guest speaker for Davidoff Horizon, Levison Wood shares his five favourite smells (NOT including bush rat…)

A full-time explorer and writer who served for ten years in the British Army and led expeditions over five continents, Levison Wood could have been forgiven for putting his feet up and giving in to the lure of the sofa. Instead, he began a quest to travel on foot through some of the most extreme and remote terrains in the world – encountering tigers, poisonous snakes, plunging several hundred feet off a cliff into the jungle and a cannibalistic monk along the way!

With two successful TV series dogging his every step – Walking the Nile and Walking the Himalayas – and books to accompany those series, Levison now dedicates his life to photographing and documenting ordinary (and extraordinary) people and cultures around the world, and constantly challenging himself, pushing himself ever onward to further adrenalin-fuelled adventures.

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Who better, then, to appear as an inspirational speaker at the launch of the brand new Davidoff fragrance for men – Davidoff Horizon? The stunningly shot marketing campaign features deserts, sandstorms, swooping eagles, mountains and close-ups of Italian model Simone Bredariol looking picturesquely sweaty. The fragrance itself is as earthy as Cool Water was aquatic, with airy top notes of grapefruit, rosemary and zesty ginger before plunging recklessly into the heart and base of vetiver, patchouli and a rich cocoa absolute cocooning the blend like a reassuring hug.

Levison is surely the epitome of a modern-day adventurer who manages to be ruggedly handsome (Levison squirms with embarrassment if this is ever mentioned, and it’s mentioned quite a bit as you can imagine…) and bristling with vitality, while also being incredibly funny and down to earth. We were delighted when he agreed to talk to The Perfume Society about his five favourite smells – an interesting mixture of the rugged and sublime, as we discovered.

Levison Wood: my five favourite smells are…

1: Frankincense – Definitely my favourite. It reminds me of travelling the Middle East. Whenever I go there I pick some up to bring back with me, it’s so reminiscent of the places I’ve been, and I never get tired of it.

2: Jasmine – I’m a big jasmine fan, love the stuff. Especially when you see (and smell) it growing in the wild. Just gorgeous.

3: Freshly cut grass – A nice English answer, that, isn’t it?! It reminds me of Spring, and playing cricket at school, that sort of happy memory.

4: Campfire – The wood smoke, that feeling of sitting around the campfire at the end of a long day, sharing stories and laughing. Whisky essential!

5: Toast – Obviously. It’s that morning smell! I have it just with butter, or perhaps with Marmite if I’m feeling really indulgent. Better than Bush rat with maggots any day…

Davidoff_-_Horizon_-_125ML_-_AED_360_-_with_packagingDavidoff Horizon from £34 for 40ml eau de toilette
Buy it at Boots

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Bentley feel the force of ‘luxury infused with adrenalin’ for Infinite Rush

Even non petrol-heads get rather excited at the mention of Bentley, it seems – a brand long synonymous with style, and who have recently added a range of fragrant offerings to their luxurious repertoire. Dedicated to those incredibly daring types who push themselves to the limits, are captivated by extreme situations and are always looking for a ‘rush’, it’s the next level of a fragrant adventure in this line of Intense scent experiences…

In describing the man the fragrance has been created for, Bentley Say: ‘In keeping with the high performance of Bentley motorcars, Infinite Rush has been created for the adventurer. Calm and confident, he is regularly exploring new horizons, captivated by extreme scenarios like driving a 4×4 in the open desert. Always intent on getting the most out of life, going further, seeking out dizzying new heights… While staying focused, relaxed and ready for the next challenge. His motto is cultivating curiosity, surprising himself and never choosing the easy option. The Infinite Rush fragrance has been created in his image: striving for the very best and exceeding expectations, with the contrast of a breath-taking, spicy freshness and a warm, woody base heralding the strong sensuality of this hero of modern times.’

Clearly a go-getting daredevil, this gentleman, his life sounds utterly exhausting! So maybe invest in a little me-time, instead, with a spritz-able sense of adventure they have captured in the bottle… The opening is wonderfully spicy yet fresh and really sets the mood for the ‘rush’ ahead – vetiver adds that always welcome earthiness to the dry cedar, the heart of elemi being the standout note for us – an exotic and complex note that’s head and shoulders above yet another citrus-y scent for gents, we’re very glad to say! The dry down is suitably refined, we could see this being popular with any age, and indeed why limit it to the male sex alone

We know many ladies who enjoy wearing ‘mens’ scents and this is enticingly up-beat if you fancy a fragrant change.

Top notes: Pink berries, rosemary, mandarin
Heart notes: vetiver, cedar, elemi
Base notes: moss, amber wood, musk

Bentley Infinite Rush £43 for 60ml eau de toilette
Exclusively at Harrods

Written by Suzy Nightingale