By Tracey Strange
My husband has a nose for fragrance. After many years of living with a beauty writer he can distinguish notes, comment on depth and dry-downs and has a keen interest in aromacology.
He is almost as likely as I am to light a scented candle or oil burner, and our car usually pongs like a Smith & Caughey's perfume counter. So particular is he about fragrance that, like his wife, he decided to have one made. Mine smelt remarkably - and rather unoriginally - like Narciso Rodriguez For Her (which I love); his - still a work in progress - is an altogether more authentic mix of whisky and mint.
Perfume is personal. And if more men truly understood its power, they would be splashing it on as regularly as they flick the toothpaste lid. Research indicates that while men might be initially drawn to the way a woman looks; she can fall in love at the first whiff. Fragrance, and not just the smell of skin, is far more compelling for women when it comes to sexual attraction.
Enter Tom Ford's new Noir Anthracite ($296). Although it's promoted as intense and daring with its mix of pepper, bergamot and rich woody - almost smoky - notes, this is surprisingly subtle for a cologne with "noir" in the title. It was so delicious I considered hiding it, wearing it myself for a few days before handing it over.
After exhibiting ho-hum responses to most of the latest new releases, Stu declared it almost perfect (he's no pushover) and stashed it away.
One fragrance I will definitely wear - a lot - is New Zealander Tiffany Jeans' powdery Purotu Rose EDP ($240). The designer responsible for the Curio Noir range has produced a heady, unforgettable mix of rose, pink pepper, bitter orange and earthy vetiver. The bitter orange gives the sweet rose a smoky edge; the pepper gives the fragrance a modern fizz you catch at right the back of your nose. Purotu Rose packs a punch, so it's not for the shy, but if you love modern fragrances (Flowerbomb by Viktor & Rolf and Elie Saab Rose Couture spring to mind), you should find it mesmerising. I know what I'll be asking for next birthday. It also comes in a 5ml pocket parfum ($40).
Another scent to contain pink pepper that smells good enough to wear is actually for the home. Aesop's Istros Aromatique Room Spray ($71) combines the ingredient with lavender and tobacco. Billed as refined, floral and smoky, it's Noir-Anthracite-meets-Purotu-Rose for the home and so beautiful I've become obsessed with spraying it in front of me so I can walk into the mist.