Spice & Everything Nice: Alpha by Avon review

     I’ve talked a lot about Avon Canada in the past six months, including covering their newest products and demonstrating how they can be used in various Instagram pictures. The reason I am so passionate about the brand is that it allows everyday women to take charge of their careers and start a business, and supports them so they can thrive and grow. More than that, the company has also donated about $1 billion to the Avon Foundation for Women since 1992, which stands for the health and well-being of women in the 100+ countries they operate in. They are philanthropic champions in the fight against breast cancer and domestic violence, and with over 100 million representatives helping girls feel more beautiful through makeup, the future for this massive corporation seems pink indeed.

     But let us not forget that they also offer a wide and extensive array of products intended specifically for men, from jewellery and accessories to skin care and even gadgets. In August I wrote about their aftershaves, one of which has since become a staple in my shaving routine, and in December I reported on Attraction for Him, a limited edition holiday fragrance with notes of smoky woods and magnetic musk. Since then I’ve also been testing out one of their newest signature fragrances for men, called Alpha.

© Gil Segev 2016

© Gil Segev 2016

     Alpha was released in 2013, signed by noses Adilson Rato and Frank Voelkl. Voelkl has a really diverse portfolio for designers including Marc Jacobs and Christian Dior, celebrities such as Rihanna and Sarah Jessica Parker, and even private-label retailers like Hollister. This particular fragrance was his third for Avon, and was timed for release around Father’s Day. Below is the notes breakdown, bolded for the most noticeable scent in my experience.

Top notes: verbena, juniper berries, Sicilian bergamot.

Middle notes: cardamom, nutmeg, basil.

Base notes: brandy, olibanum, cedar.

     I found that on my skin the top notes have a very bright citrus side, which then quickly becomes tart, sour, and then downright bitter before falling flat and dying (how dramatic!). Instead you get a very light floral note, right before all the spices of the middle come in like a crowd of rowdy party-goers. They’ve got a heat to them but also an underlying sweetness, like they couldn’t commit to a spicy fragrance and had to inject something additional to tame it (possibly vanilla). It definitely has woodiness to it, but the alcohol is not too prominent to my nose so much as a deep musk. If you’re a fan of “Game of Thrones“, try to imagine a Dothraki hut, where a smoky wood fire burns and spicy incense perfumes the air – that’s more or less the vibe here, dark and cozy. It is an exotic fragrance that can read raw, dirty, crude, and deeply sexy. And if you don’t understand my geeky reference, it’s also a perfectly good take on what Westerners think the Middle East smells like.

     Verdict: It is interesting and inspiring to see Avon take on such a bold direction in men’s perfumery when their traditional lineup is so… well, traditional. Alpha can be a tough sell for those looking for an everyday cologne for the office, but fans of Spicebomb, Sauvage, OTB Wild, and Vanille Insensée will enjoy it. A smell fit for a khal – George R.R. Martin would approve. Alpha is available online now at the links below ($26*), as well as complimenting grooming products ($10* each). The next step for Avon should be getting more men on board – heaven knows I’d buy everything if someone showed up at my door wearing this one.

*Prices true at time of writing.

You can check out Avon Canada at their website or follow them on Twitter or Facebook.

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