New Perfume Review Hollister Festival Vibes for Him- A Step Away from the Drugstore

I have an OCD type of commitment that if someone sends something to me I feel like I have to smell it. Not just assume based on the name or style of the perfume that I won’t care for it. There are some days when the yield of my mailbox is less appealing than others. On one of those days I was working through the pile of mainstream samples finding one more irritating than the next. Mrs. C laughs at me on nights like these because I make funny faces.

One of the trends in mainstream perfume has been a move towards lifestyle brands over celebrities. So far, the same cynicism behind the celebuscents has been apparent in the lifestyle-inspired fragrances. The major theme is make something safe don’t make waves. Which is how I approached the new fragrance duo, Festival Vibes for Him and Festival Vibes for Her, from Hollister Co.

Gino Percontino

Hollister Co. is the clothing brand selling the Southern California style all over the country. They have released thirty-three fragrances since 2003. All of them are safer than safe. Which is defensible because Hollister Co. is a brand which is targeting a young adult demographic. If you’re going to appeal to someone who is wearing body spray from the local drugstore it isn’t a good idea to scare them off by making them take too much of a leap. Which was why when I sprayed Festival Vibes for Him on a strip I was surprised to find something a few slight steps outside of that safety zone. It was particularly obvious in comparison to the by-the-numbers fruity floral that was Festival Vibes for Her.

Festival Vibes for Him is composed by perfumer Gino Percontino who has done some of the other perfumes in this lifestyle sector which have grabbed my attention previously. For Festival Vibes for Him it uses typical fresh fougere keynotes. What sets it apart is the choice of the supporting notes which provide surprising texture.

The top accord is constructed around pineapple. Which sounds boring. M. Percontino adds some interest by piercing the obsequious fruit with spears of birch leaf providing sharp pungent green contrast. Over all of this is a classic sea air accord with melon-like facets which intertwine with the pineapple. The same happens in the base as generic ginger is challenged by bay leaf. It turns it into a green herbal accord which extends the influence of the birch leaf in the top. The green continues into a base of atranol-free oakmoss made softer by tonka bean. Some synthetic ambergris brings the marine back into the mix.

Festival Vibes for Him has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Festival Vibes for Him could hopefully convince someone who shops in the Hollister Co. store to upgrade their fragrance choice. By enticing them away from drugstore body spray to something like Festival Vibes for Him. I can live in hope.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Hollister.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Abercrombie & Fitch First Instinct- Second Look

I definitely carry my biases. There are brands where they get my patience throughout many derivatives of their best sellers. While there are others who don’t get the same amount of tolerance. The perfumer of malls everywhere Abercrombie & Fitch is one of the latter. The fact that anytime I visit the mall when I walk by the storefront that I will be engulfed in a cloud of Fierce is enough to engender my attitude. That they have spun out seemingly infinite flankers since its release in 2002 also doesn’t help. Back at the end of the summer of 2016 I received a bottle of the brand’s attempt to branch out called First Instinct. I looked back at my notes and had labeled it as “good try maybe next time”. Then as I was talking with some in the vlogging community they kept asking me what I thought because it was showing up on a lot of year-end “best of” lists. It was enough to make me give First Instinct a second chance and I’m glad I did.

Gino Percontino

One of the things I appreciate about First Instinct is they veered away from the Fierce architecture. Even though First Instinct is described as a fougere, like Fierce, it really isn’t. Two perfumers, Gino Percontino and Philippe Romano, gove First Instinct a distinctly aquatic heart; but one which is comprised of some different ingredients than the typical ozonic sea air suite normally found in that genre. It gives it a fresher effect overall than a traditional fougere.

Philippe Romano

First Instinct opens on what the note list calls a “gin and tonic accord”. I definitely get the gin, as juniper is very prominent. But the drink I get is some version of a melon martini as the perfumers use melon with a hint of almond to construct this olfactory cocktail. There is a real playfulness to this to provide some fun. Violet leaf provides the aquatic vibe in the heart and it is made more expansive with a series of citrus notes to give it that effect. A very nice use of Szechuan pepper provides some atypical spiciness to the overall cleanliness of the heart accord. Up until now First Instinct has been clean and fresh, in the base it gets warm with a mixture of cashmeran, amber, and some of the warmer musks. It is a shift of mood which works without feeling like First Instinct is grinding its gears making the transition.

First Instinct has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.

While First Instinct wouldn’t have made any of my year-end lists I understand why it has appealed to many. This is not Fierce but it is Abercrombie & Fitch. Despite my best try to lump it in with Fierce it is better than that and worth giving a try if you’ve been avoiding it for the reasons I was.

Disclosure: this review was based on a bottle I received from Abercrombie & Fitch.

Mark Behnke