What makes a fine suit? Is it the pop in color, the trendiness of the cut, the Avant Garde materials? If you ask the people from Ermengildo Zegna, one of the stalwarts of Made-to-Measure suits in Italy and across the globe, they’ll say it’s the confluence of tradition, fine craftsmanship and superb quality materials. It’s the exact measurement, the precise cut and the choice combinations of fabric that brings the suit together. Perhaps it’s this obsession with perfection that charged them when they launched their Essenze fragrance line.
In 2012, Zegna launched five high-end private-labeled fragrances under the Essenze line. The perfume celebrates the exquisite ingredients more than, maybe, the actual blend of the finished product. The underlying hero note across all the variants would be the one of the most used oils in fragrance making, the Calabria Bergamot.
The blend of the fragrance uses a higher quality (if not the highest quality) of the bitter citrus oil. To maintain this, Zegna decided to create, maintain and cultivate their own Bergamot farm. This makes a whole lot of sense, given where the brand started. In 1910, Ermenegildo Zegna was more known for its supplies of extremely high quality fabric for suit-making. In fact, the brand is one of the most biggest global producers of fine fabrics with renowned fashion brands acting as their main patrons (likes of Gucci, Yves Saint Lauren, Dunhill and Tom Ford).
By being the owner of the main ingredient in your collection, you can be assured that they will be using the finest Italian Bergamot available. That being said, Zegna’s Essenze is an exercise in appreciating luxury.
You see, Essenze, despite its price, is void from the usual pomp and grandeur that the usual fragrances this price range offers. In its stead, the Essenze line offers you the most exquisite versions of tradition and craftsmanship. It’s like tasting the best slice of Tuna Sashimi or enjoying a sip from an 18-year old Macallan. The note composition isn’t exactly innovative, but the sublime quality used to create the perfume is just perfect that it’s hard to find fault with the line. Even with average juice performance, the crisp, well-balanced fragrances makes up for any perceived flaws. Bottling is exceptional as well, with the juice luxuriously encapsulated within the squared bottles with magnetic caps.
They’ve expanded the variants ever since 2012 and have even offered friendlier flankers like the Acqua Di Bergamotto – that is almost identical to their signature scent Italian Bergamot except with a more pronounced aqua accord (and half the price).
Still, despite all this, Ermenegildo Zegna’s Essenze remains to be one of the most underrated fragrance line in the fragrance community. There’s hardly any hype or discussion among the various fragrance community.
Personally, I highly recommend this for serious perfume collectors. If you want a feel of the classic, it’s best to start with Italian Bergamot – the scent that truly launched the line (and highlights the hero note of the collection).
If you still want a citrusy-scent that packs a punch, go with Mediterranean Neroli, a 2016 release. This, my friends, is one of the best neroli-centric scents ever. Perfectly balanced, has good longevity and projection.
Florentine Iris is pure class. The story goes that it took them 6 years to plant, cultivate, harvest, dry aged and produce the Iris oil used in this fragrance. A scent that’s more suited for very expensive dinners, Florentine Iris is sublime in its beauty. Metallic-floral majestically mixes with soft musk to produce one of the best Iris scents I have ever had the pleasure of smelling.
Javanese Patchouli is an aromatic modern take on the classic herb. It’s astringent, clean but transforms into this creamy earthy tone because of the Tonka. I am pretty much addicted to this!
And speaking of earthy, let’s not discount the king of barbershop scents, Haitian Vetiver. This rooty, earthy yet clean Vetiver is one of the few that propelled my fragrance addiction as well.
Indonesian Oud is an interesting take on the classic oud (agarwood) – rose combo. While majority of the oud-rose fragrances convey a thick, warm scent, Zegna managed to translate the complex and heavy oils to the line’s DNA of sublime luxury. Indonesian Oud doesn’t scream its presence but stays reserve and looming, waiting for you to be captured in its majestic spell. This is one of the brightest and easiest ouds I have ever sampled. It’s a testament to how well-balanced the blend is that even if you’re averse to strong scents, Indonesian Oud by Zegna is something that’s easy to acclimate towards to.
And to round things off, there’s Peruvian Ambrette, a fragrance that utilizes natural plant-based musk, Orris seeds and soft leather to produce probably the most complex of the fragrance mixes of the line. It starts off medicinal but the dry down is sublime and brimming with luxury!
Essenze in essence, has little to do with opulence but has everything to do with squeezing the best out of the most basic of substances. It’s the perfect balance, the right cut, the finest fabrics, the Italian Suit that’s made just for you –it’s subjecting one’s craft to the highest possible standard allowing you to expose its, well, essence.
If you pass by Rustan’s Shagrila Plaza or Glorietta, and you want to go beyond the usual designer and/or overly overpriced “niche” fragrances, check this line out. Some of the scents make me want to play Kate Hudson’s Cinema Italiano in 2009’s film adaptation of the 1982 Tony Awards Winner, Nine. “Style is the new content…they wanna ride on a Vespa down the Via Veneto. They wanna live in an Italian movie.”
Ermenegildo Zegna Essenze retails for Php 11,500 for 125ml bottle. There are times when Rustan’s will go on a buy 1 take 1 deal. It’s rare but it happens.
While filming an episode of Helpless Gamer for our other geeky blog site, Ungeek.ph, I chanced upon this quirky contraption at Spectre Manila –a gentleman’s one-stop-shop lifestyle store of sort.
Cut, Shave, Suits, Bag, Shoes and Solid Perfumes at Spectre Manila
Tucked away in the quiet streets of Luna Mencias Street at Addition Hills (just right beside Shaw Blvd), Spectre is the place for you to go to if you a quick haircut and shave or be measured by distinguished tailors to have your exquisite suit custom-made for you. This is also where I first heard and learned about Fulton & Roark and the wonders of Solid Perfumery.
The simple utilitarian truth about perfume is that it’s hard to bring it with you always if you want to refresh your scent. You can keep them in your bag handy or transfer them to smaller decant and travel spritzers like Travalo but it’s not as comfortably handy and as elegant as you’d want it to be. For one, it’s weird to re-apply right smack at the middle of a night out. For more discreet application, solid perfume would be your best alternative.
Fulton & Roark understood this behavior and decided to create a solution that looks and feels, well, quite manly.
The Solid Cologne line from Fulton & Roark combines sleek utilitarian function with stylish application. There are two case variants from Fulton & Roark. The regular one comes in a brushed silver metal ware while the limited edition comes in glossy gunmetal. These solid containers are built to last—shatterproof and can be carried anywhere and anytime (gym bag, pocket, carry-on luggage, etc.).
While Spectre carries various scent variants, you only really need one container as the scents can be interchanged via refill cartridges that snap directly on the case via magnets.
To use, you simply just slide the lid open, like a switchblade, take a few swipes on the aromatic wax and dab it lightly on your pulse points. Repeat as often as you like. 😉
The collection also comes in various scent profiles ranging from green, aquatic, fresh to woody.
TYBEE and LTD. RESERVED NO. 03 is probably the most mass appealing from the group. That’s not saying they’re too generic to warrant interest, they’re not. TYBEE is a gorgeous aromatic with nuances of rosewood, cedar and white musk grounding the scent together while Ltd. Reserved No. 03 smells like expensive soap from some 5-star hotel resort somewhere halfway across the world. Green Citrus with slight touches of balmy labdanum and slightly smoky/ slightly green vetiver makes LTD. RESERVED NO. 3 a wonderful modern gentleman day scent.
HATTERAS and SHACKLEFORD are personal favorites. I’m on Fougère high ever since I got my hands on Amouage’s Bracken Man and HATTERAS is Fulton & Roark’s homage to the classic green scent. Astringent lavender, green oakmoss and earthy vetiver builds the foundation of Hatteras while silver frankincense gives it a smoky/ spicy kick.
SHACKLEFORD on the other hand is best for night time affairs. Deep, dark, amber, woody, SHACKLEFORD mixes exotic sandalwood, balmy amber, rich leather with nuanced sweetness coming from various dried fruits. It’s surprisingly complex!
While I won’t ditch my mainstay fragrances, it’s handy to keep these solid perfumes in your grooming arsenal. And while they may not be projection monsters, or have insane longevity, the beauty of solid fragrances, particularly Fulton & Roark’s is that you can apply them anytime, anywhere and look amazing doing so!
Fulton & Roark’s Solid Cologne are available at Spectre Manila for Php 2000-2600 with refills of only Php 350 pesos each. That’s not a bad investment there! Check out Spectre Manila for more info or drop by and check their wares (and get your hair done as well).
In 1882, Houbigant changed the face of men’s perfume forever with the introduction of a new fragrance category: Fougère (read: Fooj-air). The uniquely green composition harnesses notes of lavender, oakmoss and coumarin – a unique derivative at the time from the creamy tonka bean. It’s the coumarin that lends the grassy, almost new-mowed lawn scent that contributes to the Fougère’s freshness.
Fougère also literally means fern.
Over the years many other labels started crafting their own versions with more notes added, subtracted or substituted, but almost always all retain the essence of Houbigant’s fougère originale, Fougère Royale – green, woodsy, ‘soapy’ and luxurious. (Examples of modern-day Fougeres are Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche, Eternity for Men by Calvin Klein, Polo by Ralph Lauren, Brut by Fabergé)
The scent that changed the face of mens perfumery forever.
Fast-forward 134 years later and Oman-based luxury fragrance-maker Amouage releases their direct homage to the classic fougère fragrance. The homage is so direct they named the fragrance Bracken – the quintessential genus of fern.
This isn’t the first time that Amouage outs a fougère (Ciel Man, Reflection Man and, to some extent, Memoir Man are considered as fougère) but this is the first time that the whole fragrance encapsulates fougère in its basic and rawest essence.
A burst of green, earthy goodness, Amouage Bracken Man is ridiculously good! A far departure from the house’s usual incense and oud-heavy creations, Bracken embraces the raw intensity of nature, conjuring imagery of a crackling dry leaves amidst the cold morning dew in a secluded enchanted forest.
Green, dry, yet oddly damp. Bracken Man brings to mind these lush imagery for you to enjoy.
Upon initial spray, Bracken announces itself with an intense presence as the dry, astringent mix of lavender (lavandin here) and patchouli create this light floral, dry, green accord. The cypress would later join the fray, adding a layer of dry wood and keeping the scent structured as the almost nose-searing initial impression dials down.
The inclusion of clove and geranium lends to its spicy nuance while cedar and sandalwood touches up on the slight woody (or in this case, woodsy) character.
Cinnamon, nutmeg and the citruses that roll with Bracken rounds everything off in creamy, warm delight and keeps the scent from becoming truly soapy – a sharp contrast to another Amouage fougère, Ciel Man.
Bracken Man, majestically displayed at the Art of Scent Resorts World Manila
Overall, Bracken Man is one of the oddly fresh fragrances that would come out of the brazenly incense-heavy house of Amouage. The fragrance is particularly amazing for Philippine weather as a bit of sun and heat helps improve the already amazing projection one can get from Bracken Man.
On skin, Bracken Man sticks to you for a good 7-8 hours with a strong scent cloud lasting 2-3 hours on initial application. And while Bracken Man is best suited really for day wear, it can easily transition to a casual evening fragrance.
As always, Amouage’s packaging is impeccable! As part of the Midnight Flower collection, Bracken Man follows the boxing and bottling convention of its more summery saccharide perky brother, Sunshine Man. Instead of a swimming pool-like box motif, Bracken celebrates the famed fern by wrapping the wooden box in quirky Paisley patterns.
(L) Bracken Man, (R) Sunshine Man
As always, the bottle cap is adorned with 22-k gold markings and affixed with a single verdant Swarovski Crystal. The sprayer is coated in gold and wears a magnetic stopper with the word Bracken engraved on it.
As a whole, Bracken Man gives the classic fougère the royal treatment it deserves. It’s a very well put-together fragrance with the simplicity of a traditional fougère mixed with a complexity that only Amouage can bring. In an age where everything that’s old is new again, Amouage stepped up to the plate and delivered a godsend.
A new standard of fougère is among us; its name is Bracken Man.
Amouage Bracken Man is available in Art of Scent (Shangri-La Plaza, Resorts World Manila, City of Dreams) for Php 13,500.00 or roughly $270USD, a good $120USD less from its official retail price on the Amouage website.
November 3 Wednesday Night – 10pm, SM Makati
The mall floor is clearing of the usual metro day hustle with people trying to catch their last commute on the train or passing through the SM Mall towards the jeep and bus station. While the end of the work day signifies rest and relaxation for most, a throng of smartly dressed people were congregating to the wild urban jungle beats inside SM Makati’s H&M branch – like animals to a watering hole.
As it turns outs, that’s exactly what H&M wanted as they launch and celebrate the much awaited collection from the Kenzo X H&M collaboration.
It’s a Kenzo x H&M Jungle during the VIP / Media preview party.
This capsule collection is the latest in the long tradition of fast-fashion retailer, H&M and their fashion house of choice for the year. This is also the 3rd year I’m exposed to the collab collections and I must say, 3rd times’ the charm.
As with the past collabs the rules of engagement are very similar. You go in, grouped in batches of 20s and you all have 10 minutes to shop the collab floor. For this year, you’re only allowed a maximum of 1 piece of a particular item during your turn. Meaning if you want to buy more than one sunglasses, you’ll need to ask a friend who’s also there with you to carry the said sunglasses and forfeiting his chance of buying one for himself. It makes everything fair and prevents people from hoarding a particular item set.
Celebrities, Personalities and Executives in full Kenzo x H&M garb
Unlike the Balmaination collaboration (Balmain x H&M) last year, the VIP private sale happened the night before the actual public launch of capsule collection. Models, celebrities and fashion personalities flocked the Makati branch and tried to get a piece from this superbly colorful and zany collection.
While waiting for their batch to be called, dancers and personalities in full Kenzo X H&M gear entertained guests. Never-ending canapés and drinks were going around and the DJ was mixing some sick retro dance sets.
Dancers entertain the crowd with their zany moves alongside 90’s dance tracks
Guest and VIP wait for their chance to shop the collection before everyone else.
We got in a bit late (event started at 9PM) so we got pushed to one of the latter batches (Batch 10 or 11, I believe) and we were only able to get a couple of accessories like socks, and the men’s animal print scarf (well, not sure if it files under menswear).
Hey menswear, where you hiding at?
Pretty much what we ended up with. Still, look at them purrty socks (and a really big cap in the background).
This only meant one thing, *groan*, we had to line up again immediately to be able to get into one of the earlier batches during public launch day. No going home for me then, okay, fight!
November 4 Thursday Morning – 5:00am, SM Makati
With barely an hour of sleep, me and my friends pulled ourselves to go to SM Makati to line up. Unlike the past 2 years, the H&M branch at SM Makati is now a venue for the collection (previously you can only shop the collab collection at H&M SM Megamall).
We’re not sure if people were aware of this because when we lined up at 5 in the morning (very late for our standards) we miraculously got in the first batch of shoppers! I believe we were the 10th person in line. Woo-hoo!
At 9am there were hardly 20 people in line! I guess everyone flocked to SM Megamall that day. :D
We also got some free candies while in line c/o Made in Candy
Previously they start letting people shop at 8am, this time around the “timed shopping” started during mall opening hours.
Even until 9am when we were finally let in SM Makati premises, the line didn’t build up as much as we thought it would compared to Balmain x H&M or the super crazy lines of Alex Wang x H&M collab last 2014. The best thing about not having a huge line after us is, if and when people on the first batch decided that they wanted more time and opportunity to shop, they can simply line up and do it all over again (which a lot of people did, fyi).
Outside the store proper
Store windows are decorated with the Kenzo x H&M prints
Host was rousing people up. Trust me, she didn’t have to. Everyone was pumped and ready for some shopping action!
DJ was dropping some sick beats during the entire morning
The collab section is now twice the size of what it was during the VIP area and we’re now shown the full collection here.
Floor area doubled. Women’s wear shown here.
Accessories all on the table – bags, boots, sandals, socks, scarves, sunglasses and jewelry trinkets.
More amazing printed clothes on these racks
Moving towards the menswear. T-shirts were one of the first ones to go.
10 minutes and a few edits later, we were left with this. Tadaaa~
(Also, ladies and gentlemen, I’m officially broke. :p)
A close look at our haul. A couple of shirts, a cap, scarf, socks, and them ipad pouch bags
Forgot to mention the sunglasses and the neoprene Jacket/ Hoodie as well. Print on Print on Print!
Suffice to say, the Kenzo x H&M collab shopping experience ran much smoother this time around. With stocks also offered in H&M Makati, lines were easily managed and everyone (mostly) got what they wanted. Kudos to the H&M Philippine team for organizing such a smooth event, we heard things were quite more intense elsewhere. Source 1 2
In fact when we checked H&M SM Megamall last Sunday there were still a lot of wares left. Majority are for women but I was surprised to see quite a bit of menswear still on the rack.
There were a lot of women’s clothes left last weekend. Better check in fast.
The Kimono jackets still have all the sizes last Sunday. If you want to own one particular piece of iconic item, you may want to consider that. That screams high fashion! 😉
The store still had caps with varying sizes as well
Caps and accessories are still in abundance
There were about 4 large totes still up for grabs. Even though the design mimics that of a the Kenzo paper shopping bag, this is actually a really well crafted full leather tote bag with amazing detailings. Retails for Php 10,990, I believe — but it’s huge.
If you want something a liiittle bit more quirky, these pink tiger-striped boots might tickle your fancy.
Or you could switch it up with this all red ensemble– sandals, long socks, sleeves, beanie and earrings.
At the end of the day, if you haven’t had the chance to check out these one-of-a-kind collection, you kinda owe it to yourself to visit either H&M SM Megamall or H&M SM Makati before they pull everything out.
We saw a reversible jacket tucked behind the leather jacket racks at SM Megamall. Last check was size M. ;)
Wear a plain long coat over the green onesie to diffuse the predominantly green look.
C’mon, unleash your wild side. Welcome to the Kenzo x H&M urban jungle.