Oud – its pungent woody aroma has had the western perfumery clamoring for more of this oriental, and exotic fragrance. Ever since Tom Ford’s introduction of this ancient oriental ingredient in his then-commercial-flop-but-n0w-super-widely-adored  M7 for YSL, the western world has been catching up with the fragrant wood that, in some instance, is worth more than gold.

It’s no wonder that English perfumery, Atkinsons, known for its delicate colognes and somewhat snobbish branding, jumped on the Oud train that proliferated western perfumery a good few years ago.


Atkinsons Oud Save the King and Queen

While traditionally been linked to religious ceremonies, Oud in the more modern setting is used to exude opulence, other-worldly sophistication and mystery. Such is the importance of the note to Atkinsons that they crafted a separate line just to highlight this majestic scent.

In their tradition of keeping things clean and pristine, Atkinsons’ oud is pleasing and pungent-free. And while most oud-fragrances draw deep inspiration from middle east, Atkinsons managed to keep it, fairly English.

Atkinsons Oud Save the King cap

Oud the Save the King opens bright and crisp, a far departure from the usual Oud-heavy fragrances out in the market. Top notes of Earl Grey Tea and Bergamot adds zest and freshness before the scent settles down in a mix of soft Suede and Orris , Sandalwood and just the tiny bit of Oud balancing everything out in the background.

Overall scent-wise, you get a lot of leather impressions from Oud Save the King. If I have to put a comparison, Oud Save the King is the suave and tamer cousin to Tom Ford’s seminal Tuscan Leather. It’s also far easier to use especially in our tropical weather. While there is a sweetness to it, it’s void of fruity berries or gourmand vanilla, avoiding the scent to be as cloying even with thicker ingredients in them (Oud, woods, leather). The leather isn’t too much in your face as well and adds to the fragrance’s supple appeal.

Atkinsons Oud Save the King Presentation

Longevity is amazing with a few sprints lasting you throughout your work day. The first few hours will give you a decent projection that’s not as intrusive as I’d expect. Don’t get me wrong, I find the scent a little bit strong despite Atkinson’s attempts at downplaying the heavy notes, but overall, it’s a scent that’s fairly easy to use especially in a corporate setting.

Because of the leather, sandalwood, orris root and oud, the scent lends itself to a slightly more mature crowd. A young executive could pull this off but he needs to be at a position where he can play ball with the top honchos of his company.

Oud Save the King is for the go-getters, the ones who have “arrived” and those who exude confidence in their every stride. It’s for people who take charge at boardrooms and can nitpick at hotel breakfast buffets; for those that understand that true luxury isn’t showing off at every turn but showing up at every given situation. In short, it’s for those who’s not afraid to reach out for the throne and who, when given the chance, can reign graciously and gloriously without being brash.

Atkinson’s Oud Save the King is available at Art of Scent for Php 11,700.00


Atkinsons Oud Save the King Unpacked Giveaway 2

We’re also raffling off  2ml samples of Oud Save the King and Oud Save the Queen. All you have to do to qualify is LIKE this post, SHARE it on your timeline and leave a COMMENT on our Facebook page or the comment section below.

Raffle is open to residence of Metro Manila only and runs until the end of September.

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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.

zegna essenze a

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).

Vetiver, Bergamotto and Iris

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.

Italian Bergamot

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.

Ermenegildo Zegna Essenze

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.

Haitian Vetiver

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!

Zegna SS17

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.

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While filming an episode of Helpless Gamer for our other geeky blog site,, 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

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.

Solid Perfume

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 and Roark Solid Perfume 1

Fulton & Roark understood this behavior and decided to create a solution that looks and feels, well, quite manly.

Fulton and Roark Solid Perfume Reserved No 3

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.

Fulton and Roark Solid Perfume Body Refills

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. 😉

Fulton and Roark Solid Perfume 3

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.

Fulton and Roark Solid Perfume 2

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!

Fulton and Roark Solid Perfume Refills

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).


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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 LaurenBrut by Fabergé)

The scent that changed the face of mens perfumery forever.

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.

Bracken Man Imagery

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.

Amouage Bracken Man in Art of Scent

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.

Amouage Bracken Man 2

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.

Bracken and Sunshine Man

(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.

Bracken Man Sprayer


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 1

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.

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Ahh…February, ze love month! Month of hearts and flowers and everything that’s dainty and quaint. This is also the month where Amouage, the prolific global perfume house based in Oman, decided to launch their latest floral scent in the Philippines: the lovely Lilac Love.

If you’re new to the house and you want to get to know a little bit more about them, you can check my review of Amouage’s Interlude and Journey Man here. 


Last Friday, Feb 3, I was privilege to be invited to the VIP selling at the Art of Scent Resorts World Manila where the multi-brand store was transformed to Amouage’s own floral garden of sorts where Lilac Love sits center-stage.

Lilac Love Amouage

The light purple offering from Amouage is the first from its Secret Garden collection. Sweet, slightly sensual and super comforting, Lilac Love is pure bliss to the olfactory senses. But before we go into that, the packaging of Lilac Love is something to take note of as well!

Amouage Lilac Love 2

As always, the presentation of Amouage is exceptional! A bit of a departure from the older releases where the wooden box is lifted from the top, Lilac Love follows the same box-type from Sunshine Collection. The bottle rests on a soft foam-like crevice for added structure and bottle safety.

Lilac Love Cap

The cap still resembles the Grand Mosque and at the tip of this white gold-plated magnetic little dome sits an amethyst-colored Swarovski crystal. Simple. Elegant. Magnificent.

Lilac Love Full Presentation

For the scent itself, Lilac Love breaks from Amouage’s usual offering – perfumes steeped in exotic oriental nuances with the enigmatic oud, smoky incense and luscious-balsamic myrrh. Lilac Love is light yet deliciously creamy!

Top notes harnesses intense floral accord with Lilac Accord, Heliotrope, Gardenia and Peony before it drops to its creamy gourmand heart. It’s interesting to note that because it is impossible to extract the scent of Lilac, Amouage had to recreate the scent artificially by masterfully combining various proprietary notes to form that nice violet flower.


Heart note is where things get preeetty interesting. The gourmand is played out with Tonka and Cacao mostly while the Orris (from the root of the Iris Plant) helps keep the two in check. The heart note leads beautifully to a nice powdery-sweet finish with Sandalwood, Vanilla and Patchouli (to add just a tiny bit of earthiness to the whole concoction).

Amouage Lilac Love 3

The imagery for Lilac Love feels like you’re having a dainty morning snack with sweet cakes and pastries amidst a beautiful spring floral garden. The floral and gourmand mix also makes this scent very relaxing. If you want to go the super gourmand route, the scent (especially towards the dry down) makes you feel, as silly as it sounds, like you’re sinking in a giant marshmallow bed.

Amouage Lilac Love Event Presentation

Amouage is known to create powerful and complex scents and Lilac Love is no exception. Even without thick notes of incense, oud, amber, opoponax, and musk, Lilac Love performs pretty beast-like at least for the first couple of hours. Longevity-wise I easily get more than 7 hours on this. On paper, the scent lingers for about a week before it starts to dissipate. Yes folks, 1 week.

Overall Lilac Love is a dream. While marketed towards women, guys shouldn’t be put off to try this baby out. It’s complex enough to “be” an Amouage but light enough to be inviting. I think it’s a great introductory bottle joining the ranks of Reflection, Sunshine, Dia Man and Jubilation XXV as great fragrances to get your nose started on a perfume house you can definitely fall in love with!

Lilac Love is available in all Art of Scent boutiques and costs Php 16,640 for a 100ml EDP bottle (Lilac Love retails for $440 or roughly Php 22,000 on their official website).






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For some people, perfume (or the act of putting on perfume) is all about smelling good and attracting the desired partner (ala Axe effect), or maybe they appreciate the subtle luxury that a bottle of Eau de Toilette can hold, but for Hershee Izell, fellow fraghead and fragrance enthusiasts, perfumes are a way of holding on to lasting memories. In a way, this is why she went through the laborious task of creating an original line, aptly named Cherish.


We caught up with Ms. Izell and asked her a few questions:


UNPACKED (UN): First of all congratulations on this endeavor. Was it nerve-racking?

HERSHEE IZELL (HI): Thanks! Yes, it was!!!

UN: What inspired you to create Cherish? Why perfume? 

HI: First of all, I created Cherish for my mom because I miss her since she is away from us and I wanted to associate a sentiment that would remind me of her whenever I use it. Perfume, I believe, is the best medium to do that since perfumes triggers long-term memories.

I also like the sophistication of perfumes. I create other items that are geared towards ladies like gift cards and soaps but perfume, for me, is just luxuriously gorgeous and it can help express my personality better.

UN: Have you always had an affinity towards perfume and scents? Tell us your favorite perfume (besides Cherish, of course). Do you have a particularly favorite note? 

HI: When I was a kid, I like putting cologne and scented powder, –Angel’s Breath, to be particular.  I also love the small scented gel-thingie  called ‘kisses’ and keep them in my pencil case until I was in highschool. I was using Johnson’s Powder Fresh and Angel’s Breath cologne up until high school. I like smelling fresh and clean!

When college hit, for some reason, I literally cannot stand fragrances all of a sudden. At that time, fragrance would just trigger my migraine. So I was scentless (and tried to be) for quite some time during those days. Maybe it was fatigue since I wasn’t as learned as I am now but it was only until my friend pulled me to different stores and outlets that my love for perfume resurfaced as I discovered there are so many beautiful perfumes!

One of my all-time favorite is Paris Hilton’s Heiress! This is an instant head-turner for guys. (To me at least) Heiress is alluring and sexy — something new that I discovered scents could do. So that pulled me deeper into exploring other fragrances.

My favorite notes would be Patchouli and Vanilla — both work amazingly well together–and some florals like Rose and Ylang Ylang. They are so relaxing and (sometimes) can give a romantic vibe.

UN: When creating a perfume, especially for a wider audience, are there any special considerations you took into account? Did you have to temper what you originally wanted so that a wider audience could appreciate the final product?

HI: Oh, definitely! Aside from my personal preference with the notes, I would ask close friends and colleagues their take and which among the sample scents are appealing and most interesting to them. The ones that have the highest vote would be taken into consideration before talking to the manufacturer and producing them in their actual sizes. Bottling and packaging is the same way.

For the overall composition, I first think about the character of the user and what may work with them…for Cherish I envisioned a very dainty feminine character. There’s boldness but there’s also innocence. Cherish is a fruity-woody scent with notes of tangerine and mango and vanilla in the opening. So there’s sweetness there before it settles on the boldness of ambergris and the subtle woody characteristics of cashmere wood. To add a unique feminine quality to the scent I had Iris added in as a “mystery” or special note.

UN: Most people feel that local perfumes would use cheaper perfume oils and ingredients. What’s your take on this and where did you source your ingredients?

HI: It doesn’t really matter whether a perfume is local or foreign. Quality is quality and that’s something that I discovered while going through this journey. I believe there are many sources of good oils here in the Philippines, I know that we’re one of the world’s source for elemi, but considering cost and sophistication in technology, I decided to source my ingredients in Europe: Germany to be specific. So, unlike other local boutique fragrances, Cherish is specially crafted, mixed and bottled in Germany. It’s a bit more challenging (due to higher custom fees and constant international communication) but the quality that you get is unparalleled!

UN: Will we see more creations from you in the future? A men’s line, perhaps?

HI: Yes, surely… I am looking forward in creating a perfume line for men. Maybe it would contain patchouli, one of my favorite notes, who knows? I’d love to work on a unisex scent, too, just to broaden people’s perspective of perfume.  Something that’s a bit stronger for the usual woman market but a comes off a bit lighter for men’s. That would interesting, no?

We got our hands on a full bottle and will be sharing with you our thoughts and impressions soon. Cherish will be available starting tomorrow (September 10, 2016) at for Php 3195. According to Hershee, she’s still working on collaborating with other retail shops and distribution networks here in the Philippines and hopefully (if the perfume becomes a success) could open it up to world-wide audience.




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