I’ve always been fascinated by how just a few big companies own most of the brands consumers can choose from when it comes to cosmetics. Behemoth organizations like L’Oreal, Lancôme, Estée Lauder and Procter and Gamble own dozens of names between them, ranging from Clarisonic all the way to Old Spice. Whether or not you buy into the prestige hype, the system works so that the same people pocket your money at the end of the day. Is it fair for the niche companies and the indie guys working out of their kitchens? Well, who is to say?
Today I want to introduce you to one such company called Aramis. They technically belong to the Estée Lauder Companies, but operate independently and have a whole range of brands underneath them. You may be familiar with their iconic fragrance for men called Aramis, which everyone seemed to wear liberally when it released in ’66. It is a monstrous, sharp, and complicated mash up of leather, patchouli, musk, oak moss, myrrh, and other old-fashioned ingredients. I have a bottle at home but I can never wear it, it’s simply inappropriate for anyone under 60. So I was extremely pleased to find a new and updated version in my mailbox last year, called Aramis Black ($78*). Now, THIS is where it’s at in 2016!
Aramis Black is a rich, decadent masculine with dominant notes of cognac, Tonka beans and leather, and great lasting power. The man who would wear this is a wealthy bachelor, someone who wants to show off his opulence but still seems cold and intimidating. He wears tailored suits and no-nonsense polished black shoes, maintains a healthy amount of facial hair and entertains his special guests in his private parlor. He enjoys the finer things in life, like imported woods, cars and spirits. If you find yourself close enough to smell him, you know you’re in trouble! This is the grown up version of Abercrombie & Fitch’s Fierce, like the lacrosse-playing boy from college grew up and became a really successful real estate mogul.
Besides its namesake brand Aramis also owns the DKNY line, which recently expanded as well. Perhaps Donna Karen’s most famous contribution to beauty is her signature scent Be Delicious from 2004, which turned into a global bestseller and my mother’s personal favourite. It is a tart apple-based fragrance for daytime, which has seen no less than 20+ flankers in 12 years. The one I have with me here is called Be Desired ($98*), which launched last year as an “urban garden” interpretation of the original.
Indeed, Be Desired is an extremely floral fragrance with a hint of orange and peach, a true Southern lady fragrance if there’s ever been one. The main flowers in the composition are jasmine and violet leaf. The woman who wears this is not the same one who wore Be Delicious, that’s for sure. She is more mature, kinder, and gentler. She could be a teacher, or a librarian, or even a kind-hearted receptionist. Her default expression is a genuine smile, and she has a type of magnetism that makes everyone want to be her friend. It’ll take a very special man to open her to a deep and loyal love, but when it comes it will be sweeping and long-lasting. She should stay away from any guy that wears Aramis Black if she doesn’t want her glowing heart broken! Her positivity matches the summery floral and fruity notes of her perfume.
And finally, you can’t talk about Aramis without bringing up Michael Kors. The New York designer is well known for his sporty yet flashy fashion, but his beauty empire is formidable as well. There’s no shortage of fans for his scents, and they will be happy to learn that he has expanded the range with three new perfumes for ladies in 2015. The Gold Collection consists of 24K Brilliant Gold ($107*), Rose Radiant Gold ($107*) and White Luminous Gold ($107*). Michael suggests you can alternatively call them “woodsy,” “spicy” and “fruity,” respectively. They all share a generic “floral” top note, which does tend to give them a similar feeling. I wouldn’t judge you for picking just one of the three.
24K Brilliant Gold consists of mandarin, soapy florals, and woodsy notes. This is an ideal scent for that awkward transition stage from winter to spring. The lady who wears this is hardworking, makes over 100 grand a year, and shops at Tiffany’s often. For autumn you may find Rose Radiant Gold a hint warmer with tangy pink peppercorn, perfect for late night dates over lattes and metallic MK parkas. As for White Luminous Gold, it’ll suffice to say that it was not as expected. It has a strong chemical odor and sickly undercurrent that makes it entirely unpleasant. You’ll be wise to stay clear of this one.
Have you tried any of these new Aramis fragrances? Isn’t it crazy that although so different, they are all from the same laboratories? I’m a big fan of all except the last one. Let me know what you think!
*Prices true at time of writing.
You can check out all of these fragrances at Hudson’s Bay.
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