Unpacked

Misadventures Around the World


 

Free Venque Bag

Yup, you read that right! For a minimum purchase of 10,000 pesos worth of items you can walk away from Urban Traveller & Co with an extra bag at hand. And not just any old promo bag, it’s a Venque bag.

Venque Bag2

We’ve actually reviewed this and even brought it with us on our Bali trip late last year. It survived the wind, wave and sun of that Indonesian Beach Paradise (and in such stylish fashion, at that) and we’re pretty surprised that Urban Traveller & Co. decided to include this as the freebie to their promo (that’s Php 3,000 worth of savings right there – and an amazing bag to boot).

So what can you buy with your hard-earned Php 10,000 in Urban Traveller & Co.? We’ll we’ve compiled a short list of amazing finds for you to check out and (maybe) consider.

Bellroy iPhone 6s Case

Bellroy iPhone 6s Cases

On the surface, the Bellroy iPhone 6s Case doesn’t seem to look different from the gajillion of smartphone cases in the market. It’s only upon closer inspection that you begin to see and appreciate the space-saving genius behind this contraption.

Aside from keeping your uber cool smartphone safe and secure, the Bellory iPhone 6s Case also doubles as a mini wallet of sorts – where you can keep your essentials if you want to travel light and not carry too much things on you.

Bellroy iPhone 6s Cases 2

The case in itself is made with eco-friendly materials as well. Our sister site, Unbox.ph made a video review on this as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwTAJ78QhRA

The Bellroy iPhone 6s Case retails for Php 2450 to Php 4,500

Shop the collection: https://www.urbantravellerco.com/collections/phone-accessories

Key|Smart

KeySmart2

KeySmart is a nifty little gadget that organizes your keys like a Swiss Army Knife. No more bulk in your pant pockets and that annoying metal jiggling sounds with KeySmart.

The great thing about KeySmart is that it can augment itself with other important gadgets like car keys, USBs and other accessories to fit your need.

Fully customizable, you can also extend the number of keys that can fit in your KeySmart up to 100 keys! (Well, but we don’t really recommend it :p )

The KeySmart Key Organizer retails for Php 1,399

Shop the collection: https://www.urbantravellerco.com/collections/keysmart

 

Gnome & Bow Milton Cross Body Clutch

Gnome Bow1

We’ve actually highlighted Gnome & Bow before but we can’t stress enough how awesome the design philosophy behind this is. For this article, we’re looking more into the Gnome & Bow Milton Cross Body Clutch. Gorgeously created to fit an iPad and other small peripherals, the G&B Mitlon Cross Body Clutch embodies the Jekyll and Hyde design that we grew to love with this brand.

Gnome Bow2

On one side, the clean & crisp lustrous nylon embodies the cool and collected Dr. Jekyll while the other side hides a printed canvass cover for the always unconventional Mr. Hyde.

The Gnome & Bow Milton Cross Body Clutch retails for Php 7,500

Shop the collection: https://www.urbantravellerco.com/collections/gnome-bow

And there you have it, 4 easy picks for the mobile traveler – and all can be conveniently stored on your free Venque bag. 😉  Promo is from Aug 1 to 31 only!

For more  nifty bags and organizing tools, head over to www.urbantravellerco.com and check their wares or you can visit their physical store at R2 Level, Archeology Wing, Power Plant Mall (near National Bookstore).

Happy shopping, peeps!

 

 

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In the past couple of years, I have been obsessed with collecting various perfumes and fragrances. Back then I only had my staple Davidoff Cool Water in my collection and it wasn’t until fragrance super addict and managing partner of Ungeek, Colin Chan, opened my eyes to the wondrous world of perfume that I added perfume collecting to my list of hobbies. Hehe.

Current collection and growing! Yikes! Hehe.

Current collection and growing! Yikes! Hehe.

This obsession lead me to explore Home Fragrances (cause it’s quite expensive to keep on spraying designer and niche perfumes all over your household). And while we found a couple of home fragrances that we liked, it’s still burning a significant amount on our monthly household budget.

This Nest Home Diffuser from Art of Scent Shangri-La costs around 2,000 up and would last for about 2 months tops.

This Nest Home Diffuser from Art of Scent Shangri-La costs around 2,000 up.

Thankfully, we were introduced to Mia Maison, a locally owned and grown Home Fragrance store that, apparently, has been in existence for 10 years now. It surprised us to learn as well that Colin is the presiding Creative Consultant for the group and he invited us to attend Mia Maison’s grand launch at the Manila Peninsula last Tuesday, June 21, 2017.

Salon De Ning was packed that afternoon

Salon De Ning was packed that afternoon

We learned that, through Mia’s ten-year journey, this is the first time that they are pouring their resources into Marketing and PR. It’s amazing that the brand decided to establish itself first, gathering loyal patrons and expanding steadily (they now have more than 60 stores nationwide – and franchising options), before they decided to put ads and create a launch event.

CEO and President of Mia Maison, Ms. Shirley Reyes and Host Ms. Issa Litton thank guests and open activity floor.

CEO and President of Mia Maison, Ms. Shirley Reyes and Host Ms. Issa Litton thank guests and open activity floor.

Celebrities and socialites attended the event (we felt really out of place!) but everyone was warm to everybody and we learned that a lot of them already knew of Mia Maison and jumped on the chance to take part in celebrating their 10th year in the business. My Home Magazine helped in organizing the amazing event and even had cool and quirky activities lined up for us.

The Creative Invite

The Creative Invite

Mia Maison’s campaign hinges on the concept of scent and how it triggers memory and imagination. Since perfume triggers our innate sense of memory and imagination, the personification of an “olfactory journey” led them to create the Home Fragrance company’s creative campaign handle: Home Destination.

The idea is to transform homes into destination places where one can experience a sense of travel through scents. To press the point further, they transformed four small rooms at the Salon De Ning into various travel destinations: Shanghai, Kyoto, Maldives, and Santorini.

Post cards link a particular scent to a place.

Post cards link a particular scent to a place.

Each of these rooms are paired with a Mia Maison highlighted scent; Green Tea scent for Shanghai, Fresh Bamboo for Kyoto, Ocean Breeze for Maldives and Warm Cotton for Santorini. The scents, coupled with the ambiance and the unique activities per room created a rich experience that set us in the mood for travel!

This is the room in Salon de Ning with the big King Kong. He's nowhere to be seen. Hehe.

This is the room in Salon de Ning with the big King Kong. He’s nowhere to be seen. Hehe.

 

This is where guests can get pampered with a back and foot massage while relaxing to Mia Maison's Warm Cotton scent.

This is where guests can get pampered with a back and foot massage while relaxing to Mia Maison’s Warm Cotton scent.

Paper Cranes and Ikebana Arrangements at the Shoe Room (Kyoto for the day).

Paper Cranes and Ikebana Arrangements at the Shoe Room (Kyoto for the day).

Guests get to learn and create their own Japanese Flower arrangements underneath Mia's Fresh Bamboo scent.

Guests get to learn and create their own Japanese Flower arrangements underneath Mia’s Fresh Bamboo scent.

Shanghai Room is filled with 4 exotic green tea variants from TWG!

Shanghai Room is filled with 4 exotic green tea variants from TWG! Have the TWG tea masters pour you a cup or two!

The boxing room is transformed into an island paradise where one can enjoy the specially crafted tropical cocktail called Mia Maison surrounded by Mia's Ocean Breeze Scent.

The boxing room is transformed into an island paradise where one can enjoy these specially crafted tropical cocktails!

Celebrities and Personalities hangout at the Maldives to just chill out with a cocktail or two at hand and Ocean Breeze scent all around.

Celebrities and Personalities hangout here to just chill out with a cocktail or two at hand and Ocean Breeze scent all around.

Out of all the rooms, it was Maldives and Shanghai that really drew us in. The Shanghai room provided a TWG mini masterclass in Green Tea history with us sampling different green teas of varying flavors and intensity while Maldives gave us a chill moment to just sit back and sip on some delicious cocktails created just for that occasion called the Mia Maison (a unique tropical cocktail blend of Malibu Rum, Lychee, Guava juice and a touch of mint).

Mia Maison owners and Colin toasting with the Mia Maison Cocktail.

Toasting with the Mia Maison Cocktail–which Salon De Ning included in their regular drink menu! Cool!

Scent-wise, Green Tea is our current favorite followed by the mellowing comfort of Warm Cotton. We asked Colin what his favorite is and he sent us this photo.

Green Tea Mia

I guess it reminded him too much of his super used Shanghai Tang Jade Dragon that he got himself one as well. :p

Ocean Breeze scent at the Maldives Room

Ocean Breeze scent at the Maldives Room

All in all, the grand launch was an amazing welcome to our hectic work week and the Mia Maison Home Fragrance solutions is a welcome product in our homes and offices. Heck, for just under Php 680.00 for the 120ml Glass Diffuser (compared to 2000+ for imported brands), we can stock up and put one in every nook and cranny that we can find! We’ll definitely explore more from their selection (they have 13 scents currently).

For more info on Mia Maison, you can check them out at their Facebook Page and Instagram Account. They have the full list of stores as well so if you happen to pass by a stall, do check them out. You may find that perfect home destination (or two) as well. Congrats again on the launch, Mia, here’s to 10 more wonderfully smelling good years!

 

 

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If you’ve been following sneaker stories around the web, you’ve probably heard of the famed collaboration of American footwear apparel, Cole Haan and Japanese punk & streetwear fashion house, Mastermind. You probably also learned that this collab is only available in Japan.

Welp, guess what? We’re having them right here! Cole Haan X Mastermind drops in Cole Haan Shangri-La & Cole Haan Power Plant Mall today, May 21, 2016, but in extremely limited quantities (so if you’ve been wanting this in your collection you better rush to Cole Haan Shangri-La after reading this article :p).

There are two styles to choose from: the Cole Haan x Mastermind Japan ZERØGRAND Wing Oxford and Cole Haan x Mastermind Japan ZERØGRAND Chukka.



collection

Both styles feature Cole Haan’s innovative ZERØGRAND technology (which we thoroughly loved here at Unpacked) —the astonishingly lightweight, adaptively flexible and responsively cushioned sole technology. Mastermind Japan’s iconic skull logo and monochrome black palette have been smartly integrated throughout Cole Haan’s pinnacle ZERØGRAND silhouettes, which has resulted in a high-impact collection that synergistically marries the styles of both global brands.

Mastermind graphic2

plain toe chukkas zeroes zerogrand wingtip

It’s interesting to see exclusive collaborations like these hit local Cole Haan shops! With recent successful events like their Last Lunar Day Sale and previous Black Friday Sales,  as it seems that the local Cole Haan community is growing so much so that we’re now getting exclusive releases that was originally meant for just a specific market. I don’t think US is getting this any time soon, so that’s saying something about how Cole Haan Philippines is paving the way of making the Philippines a priority market for Cole Haan New York! Wewe!

With this, we’d like to congratulate Cole Haan Philippines for doing an amazing job at growing the market and here’s hoping that we get more exclusive releases and exciting deals here in the country.

For more information about the collection and all things Cole Haan Philippines, head over to their Facebook page and give the guys some love! 😉

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End of an Era is upon us, folks! LunarGrands, the awesome shoe line that pushed American-owned company Cole Haan to its height is about to be discontinued. Nike, the mighty sports apparel company, sold Cole Haan to Apax Partners Worldwide last 2012 — the same year when they launched the revolutionary LunarGrands for Cole Haan. Even after selling the brand off, Nike allowed Cole Haan access to its proprietary tech (Lunarlon and Air sole technology) to ensure that the brand doesn’t suffer. Hence Cole Haan has been churning LunarGrands even after the turn over. Alas, all good things must come to an end.

On May 14 LunarGrands will bid its farewell to Cole Haan’s shelves (at least here in the Philippines). With this, Cole Haan Philippines is having a going-away SALE with ALL Lunargrand styles slashing off 50% from its retail price!

Blog

Having had 3 LunarGrands already, I can say that the shoes are definitely worth it. It’s the kind of oxfords that you can wear to more casual events and can blend in on much formal ones too. I’ve worn my LunarGrands on a couple of wedding occasions, formal launch and then wear the same shoe with shorts. Light, comfy, classy and definitely sturdy, the LunarGrands stand out from the usual rubber sneakers out in the market

LunarGrand Unpacked

To know more about the LunarGrands, you can check our initial article from Unbox.ph here.

LunarGrands retail for about Php15,000.00 here so at 50% off, it’s actually a pretty good deal! We’re thinking things may go a bit crazy like their Black Friday Sales so it might be best if you drop by a day before, scout the store for the shoe that you want (so you can budget your spending as well), check the sizes available and drop by on Sale day very VERY early.

Let's go shopping!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let’s go shopping!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

To know more about the latest from Cole Haan, add them up on their Facebook Page and Instagram.

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Shanghai Tang, Hong Kong

Shanghai Tang, Hong Kong

I was barely out of college when I first encountered this illustrious brand. I stumbled upon a small and colorful boutique of neon-colored traditional Chinese clothing donned in silk and other ornate embellishments somewhere in Central, Hong Kong. I would later discover that Shanghai Tang, while originally Hong Kong-based, was getting known internationally for their quirky design and superior craftsmanship. The price isn’t something to scoff at as well as they can rival other known Italian or French designers. And as someone with Chinese roots, I’m quite happy to see a luxury brand of Chinese-descent that’s competing on the world stage.

Old-world flair meets contemporary design! Stunning pieces of lux clothing here.

Old-world flair meets contemporary design! Stunning pieces of lux clothing here.

So, when about a month ago I heard that this famed Hong Kong fashion house dropped its fragrance line here in Manila, I was stoked! I knew Shanghai Tang released a fragrance line some time in 2014 but I’ve had very little luck in securing a sample or even getting any extensive info about the collection. In fact, very little information was revealed in perfumers monolithic website, Fragrantica.com.

Shanghai Tang Silkroad Collection2

Even over at Shanghai Tang’s official website, the fragrances are mostly sold out and it is pretty difficult to find this stuff over at online retailers and discount shops like Beautyspin.com, Fragrancex, or Fragrancenet…even eBay. I’ve been asking my friends who frequent Hong Kong for a bottle since last year and everyone came back empty-handed. :’(

"Oh where, oh where could my baby be ~..."

“Oh where, oh where could my baby be ~…”

Luckily, of course, Rustan’s Marketing Corporation—the official distributor of Shanghai Tang fragrances here in the Philippines was able to acquire the collection. But I first got wind of this dropping in Manila through Art of Scent’s Facebook Page (they carry the line as well).

Shanghai Tang Art of Scent

Shanghai Tang’s Silk Road collection is comprised of 5 EDP bottles marketed for women and 3 EDT bottles marketed towards men. The nose behind it is Carlos Benaim who have had numerous incredible creations under his belt. Calvin Klein’s seminal classic, Eternity being one of them.

Behold! If you're a collector and want to purchase the complete line, you can get a numbered limited-edition lacquered box set too.

This beautifully and highly limited-edition (not to mention numbered) lacquer box can be yours if you purchase all bottles!

Meticulously crafted, the Silk Road Collection boasts of everything Shanghai Tang.  The bottle design incorporates the brand’s signature SHOU logo (a Chinese Symbol of longevity, wealth, love and virtue). The women’s bottle incorporates the Lucky number 8 while the men’s bottle utilizes a streamlined gem-like design.

The SHOU, (also Shanghai Tang's symbol of choice) is engraved on the cover of the box display.

The SHOU, (also Shanghai Tang’s symbol of choice) is engraved on the cover of the box display.

Drawing inspiration from the legendary 4000-mile trade route than spanned from China to the rest of Europe, Middle East and Asia, the Silk Road collection harnesses exotic ingredients mixed with oriental characteristics –such as spices, varying tea and flowers generally associated with Eastern culture.

Silk Road Image

 

To take it a step further, I’d like to think of the collection as an epic Chinese Martial Arts opera. Wherein the main actors, the set-design and even the setting all play an important role in crafting this wonderful and spiritual world. Think the likes of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or movies of Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Dagger). It’s that level of imagery that one can get from the collection — and it is exquisite!

Zhang Zi Yi

Shush. I smell something…

The men’s line sets the stage for the collection. The scents all conjure up various breath-taking landscape imagery like taking a horseback ride across the vast deserts of Xinjiang Province or wading lush Bamboo fields in the Emerald Valley at Anhui Province.

Bold, lush and full of visual imagery.

Bold, lush and full of visual imagery.

Obviously, being a huge fan of vetiver  I immediately zoomed in on Jade Dragon as it promised to harness the heart of Vetiver while being infused with Tea and Jasmine. While I would have wanted a more rooty and earthy approach to the fragrance, this uniquely green and absolutely refreshing concoction works best with our current season. The green casing perfectly encapsulates how refreshing this fragrance is without being soapy or falling into the typical marine categories.

Jade Dragon Shanghai Tang

L’Orient presents a bit of a challenge as the scent can be incredibly woody especially during the mid. The soft leather accord on top gives this scent a supple creaminess to it that’s alluring and thoroughly enjoyable. The middle part is where cedar shines the most. If you’re a fan of this wood then this one’s for you. Reminds me of pencil shavings but with more class, of course. The dry down is where the magic truly lies for L’Orient.

Shanghai Tang Mens

Mandarin Tea latches on to Neroli and Tea. The tea notes in Shanghai Tang gives the fragrances it’s sharp and dry texture yet the Neroli, and other citruses adds just the right amount of zest.

All 3 men’s line shines amazingly during the Spring or Summer time.

While the men’s line conveys great imagery, the women’s line follows a distinct sensuality and gaiety that embodies the Shanghai Tang woman: strong, decisive, extremely cunning,  graceful and always poised.

Shanghai Tang Woman

The five Shanghai Tang Silk Road Collection geared towards women are: Oriental Pearl, Orchid Bloom, Spring Jasmine, Rose Silk

Silkroad womens1

… and Golden Lily — beautiful white Lilies and Jasmine wrapped with accents of Orange flowers, Patchouli and Musk creating this invitingly soft fragrance.

Shanghai Tang Golden Lily

 

However, it was Oriental Pearl that won me over the collection (and became the first bottle that I purchased from this house).

Sweet and Sublime

Sweet and Sublime

While marketed towards women, this variant works well as a unisex fragrance. This wonderful amber-vanilla-patchouli combo creates a gorgeous gourmand without being too overpowering (although has the tendency to be slightly cloying at the start if sprayed one too many times). As an EDP, all you really need are a few spritz and you’re good to go.

Sweet, crisp, sublime and a bit powdery, the closest perfume that I can associate this with is Chanel’s Les Exclusif line, Coromandel. That’s a testament to how wonderfully made these perfumes are.

Shanghai Tang Silkroad Group

If you’re looking for something vastly different, unquestionably beautiful and sublimely crafted, then Shanghai Tang Silk Road collection might fit right between your known designers and 5-figured niche bottles.

Shanghai Tang Silk Road collection is available at Rustan’s and Art of Scent boutiques for Php 5,850.00 for the 100ml EDT and 60ml EDP.

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Looks like the house of Ermengildo Zegna is off to a great start this 2016 with the Philippine release of the latest addition to its Essenze collection: the famed Mediterranean Neroli.

Mediterranean Neroli launched late 2015 and only came to the Philippines this early 2016

Mediterranean Neroli launched late 2015 and only came to the Philippines this early 2016

Perfumer Pierre Negrin completes the trifecta of citrus extravaganza with the addition of Mediterranean Neroli. This bitter orange blossom-centric scent sits well between sharp, zesty and slightly metallic Italian Bergamot and sweet, crisp and cool Sicilian Mandarin.

The flower from the bitter orange is where Neroli is derived from

The flower from the bitter orange is where Neroli is derived from

With highlighted notes from petitgrain, bergamot, neroli, rhubarb, cypriol, sandalwood, musk and ambroxan, Negrin wanted to capture the setting of orange blossom scents across the Mediterranean coast. There’s freshness yet a bitter earthiness to its component that keeps the fragrance from being too citrus-floral.

As with the rest of the Essenze line, Mediterranean Neroli also continues the same pristine quality that all the rest embodies.

Luxury from Style to Scent

Luxury from Style to Scent

While the scent isn’t groundbreaking per-se, it’s really the super clean quality and ingredients that you’re paying for with Essenze line. Utilizing Zegna’s Italian bergamot from their own farm, Zegna’s attention to absolute quality is unquestioned. This is definitely not your run-of-the-mill typical lab-crafted cologne. From the clean and joyful youthfulness of Sicilian Mandarin, the more poignant refinement of Haitian Vetiver or the classic gentleman cologne scent of Italian Bergamot, Zegna has toyed with showcasing the multifaceted imagery of masculinity – and Mediterranean Neroli is no exception.

Fruity-Citrus-Floral and Earthy with a hint of marine

Fruity-Citrus-Floral and Earthy with a hint of marine

According to the website, the heart of the fragrance is the distinctly masculine, invigorating woodiness of Cypress, placed beside Neroli for a touch of softness: the effect is a refined masculinity rooted in earthy sensuality.

More than the delicate fragrance, what I love about Mediterranean Neroli is its vast improved performance over the other citrus-centric offerings of Essenze. Among the three (Bergamot, Neroli and Mandarin), Neroli has the longest staying power and a stronger projection. For a citrus-centric scent this is quite a feat. Of course don’t expect it to out-perform Indonesian Oud, Peruvian Ambrette or Florentine Iris. But it could rival that of Haitian Vetiver’s & Javanese Patchouli’s projection and longevity.

On paper Mediterranean Neroli lasted around 6-8 hours mark!

On paper Mediterranean Neroli lasted around 6-8 hours mark!

You can sample Zegna’s latest creation at any Rustan’s department store or Zegna boutiques in Shangri-La Plaza and Greenbelt 4, Makati.

The Essenze Line costs Php 11,500 for 125ml bottle and Php 7800 for the 75ml bottle.

Zegna Neroli Pro Tip

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Popular Youtube travel vlogger and instagram user, Christian LeBlanc released a stunning 11-minute video that would make you want to scrap your travel plans abroad and explore the Philippines more.

Tumalog Falls Cebu

At the majestic Tumalog falls in Cebu

Christian LeBlanc is a 22 year-old Canadian national that enjoys traveling  and documenting it on his social media channels.  He also gained insta-fame when an elephant grabbed his GoPro whilst vacationing in Thailand and took this rare and rather epic, uh, elphie. 😉

christian-leblanc-978x500

Epic Elphie, Yo!

The photo has been shared throughout the world and in various news sites like CNN.

At 22, Christian has travelled to a slew of South East Asia countries with his girlfriend but decided that from all of the beautiful sites and places they’ve been, they have never fallen in love like they had with the Philippines. This video, aside from being very informative, can be viewed as a love letter to our lovely shores. So without further ado.

Wow.

After traveling to Bali last December, I think I’m making it a point to stop my travels abroad for now and invest in getting to know the Philippines more. What do you guys think?

Share your travel plans with us in the comment section below. 🙂

Follow Christian LeBlanc at Youtube and Instragram for more of his travels.

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Annnd we’re back!

This time with probably what could be touted as the “Fight of the Century” (hehe)! Today we’re pitting the fragrance everybody loved to hate in 2015, Dior’s Sauvage, versus the “Hype King”, “the King” or simply Aventus –Creed’s modern classic scent that propelled this quiet niche brand to frenzied viral stardom.

Let's get ready to rumblee!!!!!

Let’s get ready to rumblee!!!!!

First up is Dior Sauvage, Christian Dior’s latest men’s fragrance line that launched just last year. While we wrote about Dior Sauvage in our first impressions article, we only slightly touched up on why a lot of people in the fragrance community hated it.

In our previous article, we said that Sauvage was being closely compared to Chanel’s Bleu de Chanel (BdC). In fact, a lot of people in the community call Sauvage as Dior’s attempt at creating their Bleu – that generic all-around crowd-pleaser. However, not until we had more time with Sauvage did we start to fully appreciate this citrus-marine fragrance and started considering this as part of our regular rotation.

While it still plays on the spirit of Bleu de Chanel, we felt the fragrance strongly resembles another crowd-pleaser but one that is more revered and receives a copious amount of love in the fragrance community – Creed’s infamous Aventus! Could be the reason why Sauvage was sold out during the crazed Christmas rush back in December! Wew.

 

Ladies and gentlemen...behold!

Ladies and gentlemen…behold! Photo (c) Felimon Labro Jr.

 

On the other hand we have Aventus – touted as the “king” of fragrance for its clean, fruity and powerful compliment-getting powers. The blend is luxurious but not off-putting nor too artistically nuanced that the average joe cannot appreciate. The only thing that’s stopping this from being a mass-market product is its hefty price of Php 12,800.00 in Rustan’s (the price drops to almost half in various grey markets like Criselda’s and Adams).

So without further ado let’s get into the challenge:

FF comparative Round 2

 

On paper, even with Aventus’ hefty price, it looks like the battle swings lopsided towards this niche house giant. While projecting a bit less than Sauvage, Aventus’ more nuanced list of notes creates a “fuller” olfactory experience than Dior’s latest line. Luxurious, clean and crisp, Aventus’ juice — if closely examined — fully outweighs that of Sauvage. However, on application, we found out that only a handful of people can properly identify the intricacies of Aventus. Most of them pick up three distinct scents —  smoky-ashy (because of birch and cedar) that interplays with sweet citrusy-fruity (because of the Pineapple and Black Currant), and is enveloped in a clean & marine-like scent (because of ambergris). If you think this sounds oddly familiar it’s because this is almost the same structure as that of Sauvage (smoky spicy – fruity citrus – marine).

In fact, something interesting happened when I wore Sauvage in public for the first time: people thought I was wearing Aventus.

Say...whaaat?

Say…whaaat?

During the mad Christmas shopping rush of 2015 when almost all stores are running out of Aventus, I inadvertently concocted a blind test of Sauvage. While I was going around store after store inquiring if they had any lingering stocks of Aventus left every sales associate I ask would ask me if I was wearing Aventus. The conversation goes something like this:

Me: “Hi, do you guys still have any Aventus left?”

SA: “Nope, sorry. It’s been out of stock for quite a while.”

Me: “Really?” :’(

SA: “Yup, everyone’s buying it. It smells pretty amazing.”

Me: “Yeah, I know.”

SA: “You’re wearing Aventus right now, aren’t you?”

Me: (trying to keep a straight face) “Yeah, how did you know?”

SA: “I’d know that smell any time. It’s such an amazing scent!”

Me: “Yeah, I’d like to get another bottle ’cause I’m afraid I’ll finish this one off” (At this time, I didn’t have a bottle yet).

Me: “By the way, you guys have Dior’s latest line, Sauvage?”

SA: “Eau Sauvage? That’s old!”

Me: “No, just Sauvage. It had Johnny Depp as an endorser? No?”

SA: “Can’t say I have. What does it smell like?”

Me: “…well, according to people it smells like Aventus.” (smirk)

SA: “NO WAY! Really? Okay, I’m curious now.”

This happened to every single store I went to that day (around 6 in total). In one instance when I asked the store owner how he knew I was wearing Aventus his reply was “It’s what I’m wearing right now, too! I’d know that smell!”

100% of the stores that I went to thought I was wearing Aventus. And do take note that I never initiated the conversation about what perfume I’m wearing. These guys picked it out themselves and made the assumption. It’s for that reason we felt that Sauvage has a much closer resemblance to Aventus than previously reported.

Sauvage vs Aventus

To top this off, Sauvage’s projection is insanely beastly as well. One store asked me about my perfume while I was standing a good 6-8 feet away from her. Insane!

For longevity we decided to test it on tester papers. Here are the results:

While both surpassed the 12 hour mark on paper, Sauvage lingered on much much much longer than Aventus did (and I was using a pretty potent batch 13T01).

While both surpassed the 12 hour mark on paper, Sauvage lingered on much much much longer than Aventus did (and I was using a pretty potent batch 13T01).

When initially analyzed we thought there would be no chance for Dior’s love-to-be-hated new fragrance to even come close to Creed’s Aventus, however given this rundown we’re not too sure anymore. In fact:

O_O!!!!

O_O!!!!

What the–! Did Sauvage just…

Super-hyper-combo-finish!

Super-hyper-combo-finish! BOOM!

Aventus will always have a place among Royalty but, for this challenge at least, the crown will go to Sauvage.

Being able to replicate the same complimentary-getting factor that Aventus had (and at less than half the price), Dior Sauvage just gives more mileage for what you’re paying for. A juice that lasts longer, projects wider and able to trick people that you’re wearing a 6-digit value fragrance deserve its merits. It seems Sauvage has done the impossible – and trust us folks, this is no easy feat. (Don’t worry, we still love you Aventus!)

What do you guys think? Feel free to discuss (but keep it civil, yo)!

Aventus is available in Rustan’s Department Store, SM Aura, and Art of Scent for Php 12, 800.00 (Php 7,500 at various grey markets like Criselda’s and Adam’s)

Sauvage is available in Dior booths nationwide at Php 5750 for the 100ml bottle (Php 5,000 at various grey markets like Criselda’s and Adam’s).

If you haven’t seen Fragrance Fight! Round 1, check this out.

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2015: A Year in Fragrance

2015: A Year in Fragrance


Posted By on Jan 5, 2016

 

It has been an interesting year for the resurgence of my fragrance addiction. When the year started I had around 4 fragrances in my rotation. By the end of 2015 my collection ballooned to 32.

My crazy collection ballooned to more than 30 bottles! >_<

My crazy collection ballooned to more than 30 bottles! >_<

While I did start my fragrance love affair when I was in Grade School, it was really just last year that I became more serious about upping my fragrance game. You see, I go through about 5-8 designer fragrances per year ever since I was in Grade School. That practice died down and ended when I started working and I had to purchase the fragrances on my own.

It wasn’t until I started helping Unbox Editor-in-Chief, Carlo Ople, expand his fragrance repertoire that I found new love and appreciation for this vice from my childhood days.

 

My bottles at the start of the year. :')

My bottles at the start of the year. :’)

Creating (and fine tuning) your fragrance collection is no easy feat. With the crazy fragrance buying spree that Carlo Ople and I did (along with new found friends from Philippines premier fragrance community Fragcomm Philippines), here are 5 tips and key learnings that could save you a lot of money (and potential heartache – #araykobeh ) in upping your fragrance game.

 

1. Resist Blind Buys

 They say don’t judge a book by its cover, and in this instance, we’d like to say do not judge a perfume via its notes. Because no matter how many glittering reviews it gets, or how someone swears this juice will change your life, ultimately it’s your skin chemistry that will decide if something is truly for you.

Smells great but....kinda...itches. O_O

The moment you realize that the fragrance you thought would be amazing doesn’t work with your skin chemistry. :'(

So, to spare you from buying a full bottle of very expensive fragrance (that you may end up chucking after 2-3 sprays)  get decants and samples instead. Test it before committing to a whole bottle. That way you end up trying more fragrances and really narrowing down your selections. You can sift through various fragrance communities to see who sells decants and samples.

These are some of the fragrance community that we follow:

Fragcomm Philippines

World Wide Fragrance Network

The Fragrance Guru Nation

Redolessence Review

 

2. DON’T give into the HYPE

Hype-hype-hype-hype-hype-hype! CHOO! CHOO!

Hype-hype-hype-hype-hype-hype! CHOO! CHOO!

 

Hype happens a whole lot in the fragrance community. There are certain fragrances that get its notoriety because of hype. Heck, hype can sometimes (and often times) drive market prices up or down as well. Take for example the Creed Aventus hype that got the Philippine market into a buying frenzy. By the end of 2015 Aventus prices went up by about a thousand or so pesos due to ridiculously high demand and quickly depleting supply.

 

3. DO understand why HYPE happens

...JUST.DO.IT!!!!!!

…JUST.DO.IT!!!!!!

While buying because of hype can quickly deplete your bank account, understanding why hype happens can help you create informed choices on your purchases. Hype can either be a total fabricated viral message or a super exaggerated version of a truth, so it’s really up to you to discern which is which. At the end of the day, hype puts the spotlight on a specific product. If the values and characteristics of said product align with yours then by all means, take the plunge. If not, then move along – or you’ll end up regretting your sudden unintended purchase.

 

4. Fragrancenet is the Devil

You evil site, you!

You evil site, you!

If you’re an extreme fragrance bargain hunter and you solely base your purchases because of great deals, stay the heck away from Fragrancenet.com. It. Will. Suck.Your.Bank.Account.DRY. This deal site churn out discount coupons left and right and will taunt you with limited-time offer validities (which are totally not true, by the way).

While you can get better bang for your buck, the site almost always tricks you into splurging an extra bottle or two because, welp, there is that “limited time offer” coupon and you can’t seem to pass up an extremely good deal. It’s pretty much Steam Sale for perfume lovers…and that’s almost always a recipe for disaster.

Yesssss! YESSSSS!!! MWAHAHAAHAHA!!!

Yesssss! YESSSSS!!! MWAHAHAAHAHA!!!

Don’t even bother buying from them if you’re ordering all the way from here (Philippines) since you’re going to have a crazy hard time using your local credit card to purchase (we tried – they delayed us for about 2 weeks until our intended purchases were no longer in stock). There are crazy work-arounds but the hassle just isn’t worth it, trust us. Oh and don’t even get me started on their non-existent customer service representatives (they will hardly reply to any email inquiry).

Here’s a quick tip: pay a couple more, move on to Amazon.com and save yourself the frustration.

 

5. Be happy with your collection  

At the end of the day if you have more than 5 fragrances in your collection, just be happy with it. Remember, fragrance collecting isn’t about showing the world that you have 100 kajillion faffilion bajillion shabadabalu-million bottles and it is most definitely not a race. Learn to love what you currently have and these fragrances will love you back (whut?).

Lovely!!! <3

Lovely!!! <3

And that’s it! If you’ve been following us ever since and you’ve started your own fragrance collection as well, do let us know your key learnings from 2015 and maybe share a 2016 resolution. Happy New Year, guys, here’s to smelling absolutely fantastic this 2016!

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Urban Travel with Venque Bags

Urban Travel with Venque Bags


Posted By on Dec 15, 2015

Recently, Unpacked.ph went on a much deserved beach vacation to sunny Bali! The guys at Urban Traveller & Co. were kind enough to lend us the Venque Flatsquare as an extra hand carry bag for our peripherals and whatnots.

Venque you, guys! :3

Venque you, guys! :3

Venque [pronounced Venk] is a Canadian-borne brand founded by two brothers Viktor and Simon. The brand focuses high-quality urban bags that exude design while maintaining varied utilitarian aspects.

Departing

While the Flatsquare backpack is largely an urban bag (meaning designed to house your small gadgets and nifty tech toys than say beach towels and extra pair of flipflops), we thought we’d bring it along and see how it fares the sun, sand and seas of Bali. Well, that and because I really feel the added yellow accent would add a suitable splash of color on this trip! And I was sorta, right. :p

Venque Bag2

 

What I like about Venque’s Flatsquare is the superb workmanship.

 

Venque Flatsquare Yellow

Bali’s weather during our trip was erratic to say the least. It wasn’t always sunny outside so there will be times when we’d be caught in a quick shower every now and then.

 

Quanta ensures the bags are weather-proof.

Quanta ensures the bags are weather-proof.

With Venque’s proprietary fabric, Quanta –a weather resistant material—and amazing lining & craftsmanship, our items were dry and cozy amidst sudden rains, sand and sea-air.

The bag is packed with an extra set of clothes, a thick jacket, phone chargers, passport, peripherals and a book.

The bag is packed with an extra set of clothes, a thick jacket, phone chargers, passport, peripherals and a book.

You may notice that the bag is slightly, um, petite. That’s because we’re using the Flatsquare for her – hey, it’s the only one in yellow (AND the men’s version is too big for my frame)!

So if you need extra room or if you feel the size is too small, there’s a bigger version at hand (just not as colorful as these ones hehe).

Venque Bag4

I usually use my TUMI Alpha Bravo sling bag (link) as my go-to bag to house my wallet, phones, charger, travalo, etc, but during this particular trip, I never once took out the Tumi. I’d chuck my wallet and phone on the front sleeve compartment for easy access and I have enough room for an extra pair of phone charger, a plastic bag (in case I need to put any wet items in it), sunnies, and an extra change of clothes. Sometimes I’d chuck in a 500ml bottle of water too as we did a lot (A LOT) of walking throughout Bali.

Venque Bag5

Overall, I’m impressed I didn’t get tired of using it. The straps are comfy and the padding thick enough that you get very little stress on your shoulders and back. 😀 Kudos!

Venque strap

If you want to check out this nifty little backpack (it also comes in Red, Grey, Brown, Black and Denim) head over to www.urbantravellerco.com or try to catch them on weekend bazaars around the metro.

Check out Urban Traveller & Co’s social site as well here and Venque’s here.

 

 

 

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