Saturday, March 08, 2014

Mont Blanc Presence

If you think of Mont Blanc the first thing that would probably spring to mind is overly priced writing instruments. At a push jewellery and other assorted items from a luxury range that has diversified faster than speeding bullet may be conjured within your cranium.

For me, considering buying an aftershave from a company better known for pens than perfume would put me off. Presence was one of the first fragrances released onto the market by Mont Blanc back in 2001 and while I prefer to stick with favourites from the Bvlgari range due to my love of fresh, fruity fragrances Presence has skilfully worked its way into my affections.

The flowery marketing blurb from Mont Blanc tells you that Presence is about the presence of a man in a woman’s life. It embodies the wearer’s personality, charisma, aura and scent. It goes on to claim that the presence of the wearer evokes the emotions of the woman. Clearly while writing this sort of guff is like paying good money for old rope the key to a good fragrance in my books can be judged on a number of factors, most important is obviously whether it smells good to the wearer and those you come into contact with, longevity of the fragrance, price and overall the value for money it provides in comparison to other brands.

My first bottle (and actually like most of my aftershave) was a gift. If you had to part with your hard earned cash you’ll struggle unless you buy direct from Mont Blanc or live close to one of their stores. When I last tried to find a bottle I received a number of blank (I was so tempted to say Blanc looks there) in Boots and the Perfume store. A 75ml bottle will set you back just shy of £40. That to me seems expensive and I could roll out a very long list of cheaper aftershaves.

The notes to Presence are:
  • Head: Bergamot, ginger and cardamom.
  • Heart: Cinnamon, sage, apple and heliotrope.
  • Base: Tonka beans, sandalwood and musk.
The notes suggest a heavy, very spicy fragrance with fruity undertones while the base notes suggest a warm and very masculine aroma. With a personal preference towards light and fruity fragrances I wasn’t sure I would like Presence but the proof of the pudding was to be in the tasting, no not literally but I couldn’t wait to give it a try.

The difference between the two bottles - old above, new below.

Two light sprays from the atomiser releases enough of the aftershave to give full coverage, and as a word of advice, close your eyes, it really does spray widely.

After shaving as you would expect there is a very nasty burning sensation which dissipates very quickly leaving just the warm spicy tones from the head notes. The bergamot citrus aroma is most evident and blended with the ginger gives an initial strange warm fragrance that is both fruity and spicy.

The general assault on the senses is pleasant, not too heavy and not so light it could be confused as a perfume. As with all male fragrances, the initial fragrance doesn’t tend to linger for long and with Presence the heart and base notes contain so many heavy duty ingredients that within 5 minutes that initial pleasant fragrance falls away as it becomes heavier and even warmer.

As the bergamot becomes less prominent you would expect the heart notes to come to the fore but alas they do not, the cinnamon and apple are never identifiable within the fragrance and only a hint of sage comes through taking the edge off the fruity aroma which makes the ensuing fragrance even spicier. After 30 minutes of blending and being absorbed by the skin what is left is completely different to the fragrance that left the bottle.

The woody, earthy base notes become the overlaying fragrance and the musk and sandalwood dominate the senses. With the fragrance still being evident on the skin over 10 hours after spraying on the aroma has the same strength from that that formed 30 minutes after application and that is a fragrance that not only is fresh, warm and masculine but also very subtle.

Presence does not sit in with the style of aftershave I like yet I’m strangely drawn to it. The fragrance is completely unique, so subtle so people can pick up on it without overpowering and very hardwearing meaning that it is perfect for romantic nights out, office and casual wear.

With a little of the aftershave going a long way and a reasonable price tag the product has every ingredient of a good aftershave.

The bottle may have been a nightmare to use (it used to be a half-moon shape which was a nightmare but has been re-designed) but thankfully my future purchases haven’t been blighted by this little hiccup. If your own personal preference when it comes to aftershave is like mine I would urge you to branch out and give this a try, you will be surprised by the way in which the ingredients blend together. This is very much a luxury version of Christian Dior Fahrenheit, just not so heavy.

Given that a little really does go a long way a 75ml bottle will last an absolute age making it good value for money.

You could do a lot worse than Presence.

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