5 Things NOT to Buy a Man for Christmas: A Guide.

It’s difficult not to turn completely Christmas-centric when surrounded by the countless lights, fake garlands, oversized trees, bedecked gardens, and rammed-full shops of the land of capitalist Crimbo. To – in a kind of roundabout, semi-negative way – aid you in your holiday shopping, I’ve thought long and hard about all those presents that prompt insincere exlamations (“AMAZING! THANK YOU! JUST WHAT I NEEDED! MARRY ME?!”), bring on genuine bafflement, and those that nudge one toward the brink of disappointed tears.
Here’s what not to buy for a man this Christmas…
1. Socks

A Father’s Day staple, it’s fairly sad to hastily tear apart gift-wrapping on Christmas morning only to find a measly pair of socks beneath. I mean, it’s not the most unbearable fate – most men do forget to regularly purchase socks and who doesn’t welcome a new, hole-free pair? Still, it’s the thoughtlessness, the immediate avowal of failing to bother to actually think about something vaguely personal that results in disappointment. Unless there’s a weird sock-related in-joke or personal significance behind it all, or excepting they’re crafted from wildly luxurious cotton, then give it a rest.
2. Generic Fragrance Sets

Sophisticatedly dubbed ‘smellies’ in my homeplace, fragrances are a safe-bet for Christmas gifting. That said, nothing says ‘I really wasn’t arsed thinking about anything vaguely original to buy you!’ and/or ‘You smell like s**t!’ like a generic fragrance gift set from the local pharmacy. 
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for scents but if you’re going fragrance-way, be sure to avoid the tacky, thrown-together-in-some-Coty-factory route. Who uses those crappy miniscule scented shower gels anyway? If you’re dead set on fragrance, either do some preliminary research and simply buy them what they like (if they say they like ‘something sweet!’, they have little taste and you should really be questioning why you’re friends/lovers/family(?), never mind why you’re buying them gifts), or scope out something a little more unique that’s not simply a money-making extension of a luxury fashion brand and/or endorsed by a soulless celebrity.
3. Books on topics he’s never expressed even a remote interest in…

That means salacious crime exposés, BBQ recipe compendia, DIY guides, and anything For Dummies. He is no dummy, give him a voucher instead.
4. Overly elaborate tool-sets

At exactly what point is he going to use all 30 of those screwdrivers? 
5. Clothing you think he’ll look good in

Unless you’ve spent a decent amount of time roaming around the interior of your recipient’s brain and/or stalking his shopping practices, then don’t attempt a clothing gift. Firstly, he may v. well hate it, and secondly, you may think you have an idea of what fits him but really you’re hopelessly beyond clueless.
Hint: optimal is, of course, a charity donation. One of those things whereby you donate a sum, and gift him a card detailing immense generosity shown by you to both him and those in need. If he seems even a smidgeon underwhelmed by this, he’s obviously not worth giving gifts to anyway.

WIN: A*Men by Thierry Mugler Giveaway.

Though I never thought the time would actually come, it seems Spring is finally rearing its much more benevolent head in Dublin. On Monday we actually enjoyed a blue sky for longer than an hour (!). Madness by Irish climactic standards.

To usher in the season I’m donning semi-sheer shirts, opting for lightweight trousers in place of dark waxed jeans, and swapping overcoats for Jimmy Dean-esque bombers. If you’re not quite on the same wavelength just yet, Arnotts have provided a little encouragement which should see you some Spring/Summer good-spiritedness. Up for grabs, courtesy of one of Dublin’s most design-savvy department stores, is a 50ml bottle of A*Men by Thierry Mugler.

Since this arrival of the Spring season sees my sanity return somewhat, I’m making this all terribly easy. All you need to do to be in with a chance to win this heady and yet appropriately unheavy fragrance of bergamot, coffee, vanilla and musk is answer the following question…

Prior to revolutionising fashion Mugler busied himself with which of the following pursuits?

A) Blogging B) Ballet C) Bed-making

I did say it would be ridiculously easy. Email your answer followed by your full name and address to cillian[at]male-mode.com by Friday March 12th.

Embracing the Fire of Fahrenheit.

With the weather as unrelentingly harsh as it is (see Ana of Ripped-Knees’ documenting of this coldest Irish Winter in years), you’d think I’d shudder (pun fully intended as per) to be reminded of anything meterology-related. But you’d be wrong when it comes to Dior‘s new(ish) fragrance for men, Fahrenheit Absolute. Fahrenheit was first launched in 1988 but this new edition, which marked the 21st anniversary of the fragrance on its launch, takes you to a much deeper, darker place. And I kind of like it.

When I discovered a bottle of this on Christmas morning, I, admittedly, was reluctant to rejoice. I’d heard of Fahrenheit, even spritzed and sniffed a bit during forays into parfum-purchasing, but it was always one of those fragrances that connoted, with its woody, burning scent, a kind of 80s overly masculine mustiness.

But it’s grown on me. This could be due to numerous reasons – to please Maman who gifted it or due to the subtly impactive, bold and black packaging. Most likely, though, it’s as a result of my embracing the classic masculine scent i.e. heady, hot and lingering. While it at first seemed stale and dated with its heavy notes of Aoud, myrrh and incense, it’s now much more appealing and gives off a distinct whiff of luxury that many of my lighter fragrances lack.

It’s worth trying, anyway, if only to feel like you’re on the edge of a volcanic cliff (do see David Lynch-directed goodness below…)

Image from Basenotes

Byredo’s Green by Ben Gorham.

It must be said, I’m a total fashion week newb. The main attraction (LFW’s Menswear Day) doesn’t kick off for another week and yet I find I’m already predicting which shirts will crease to the point of resembling bad crow’s feet when packed, which shoes can be worn sans socks without marring my feet and how I’m going to go about of-the-moment blogging (don’t expect much, that way if I get anything you might be remotely interested!)…

Luckily, I’ve not got to worry about the fragrance I’m tucking away for fashion-week usage (well, honestly, it’s a toss up between the following and Tom Ford Extreme – devilishly good). Granted this probably shouldn’t be one of the most pressing matters at hand but I’m thinking smelling good will help when I’m looking knackered, perplexed and schoolboy-excited. Anyway, the fragrant saviour comes by way of Byredo Parfums, the Swedish house of scents that collaborated with menswear style bible, Fantastic Man, a while back.

But, while I ordered a sample of Fantastic Man, it wasn’t the one which had the olfactory area fixated. Rather it was Green. Like nothing I’ve sniffed before, it’s kind of heady (must be the musk) and yet light (orange petigrain perhaps?) at the same time, with an undeniable air of Spring/Summer about it – appropriate for the showing season, probably not so appropriate considering the reports of current London weather… For those who understand such things, these are the notes: Orange Petigrain, Sage, Jasmine, Rose, Honeysuckle, Violet, Tonka Almond and Musk.

^ Green by Byredo Parfums €115 for 100ml

Equally interesting is the designer Ben Gorham’s story. A former star basketball player and now a fragrance/home amenities designer, he’s pictured above alongside a Diane Pernet parasol. Oh, and for those with a thing for tats-covered perfume designers, get ye to Diane’s post on Ben’s inked artworks, here.

Images from Byredo and ASVOF

Burberry the Beat For Men.

Not long after I began my religious use of Thierry Mugler‘s sweet and sensual A*Men I received some Burberry the Beat For Men for review. Here’s what they set out to accomplish…

“We wanted to create a fragrance that expressed disheveled elegance – an unforced look, style and attitude that is young, modern, masculine and dynamic. Articulating the creativity, positivity, energy and open-minded, individualistic, effortless approach of The Beat man.” – Christopher Bailey.

And they’ve hit it spot on in terms of translating these traits, particularly the energy and positivity, of the modern Burberry man to the scent. The scent, which I would recommend exclusively for daywear due to its inherent lightness, features leatherwood, vetiver, bourbon, cedrat, black pepper and violet leaves accord, and was designed by notable noses Olivier Polge and Domitille Bertier. Interestingly, although its woodiness and punchy black pepper is distinctly masculine, its overall aroma is somewhat reminiscent of this new, and much more feminine masculinity we’ve been seeing in the SS09 collections. Thoroughly modern, it most definitely is.

More at Burberry the Beat on Facebook, Myspace and Bebo.

Image from Burberry the Beat For Men

Eau Fantastique.

…would have made a far superior name don’t you think? Everyone’s favourite dapper duo Gert Jonkers and Jop van Bennekom of Fantastic Man are set to release a cologne inspired by the biannual menswear bible itself. The scent, which combines bergamot, incense, lavender and patchouli is sure to make for a heady concoction. The cologne which was the result of a collaboration between the aforesaid and Ben Gorham of Byredo will launch in Colette on March 9th, followed in a matter of weeks by Barneys, NYC. Am curious to see if it’ll be worth my refraining from applying the copious amounts of A*Men by Thierry Mugler
Image from Men’s Style