What does it take to be the face of a fragrance?
When I sat down with Simon Clark in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, I was instantly taken back by how unassuming and modest he was. Now in his late forties, Simon is striking in appearance but retains a totally casual, accessible air about him. He’s handsome, yet normal – as if he’s the guy that’s been living next door to you, but you’ve never really spoken to. Well, at least in my fantasy.
Now in his sixth year of working with Mont Blanc fragrances, I had a flying visit to Chamonix last month to spend some time with the brand ambassador; to celebrate their brand new fragrance launch; and to hike one of the many beautiful treks of the area.
Chamonix is a resort near the junction of France, Switzerland and Italy. At the base of Mont Blanc (the highest summit in the Alps), it’s known for its its skiing and breath-taking views. The mountain also lends its name to the series of men’s fragrances – Mont Blanc Legend, Legend Spirit and Legend Intense.
The newest fragrance will be launched in the UK later this year and will compliment the already strong set of fragrances by the brand. A personal favourite of mine is the original Mont Blanc Legend. It’s masculine yet subtle, with notes of lavender, bergamot and tonka bean – perfect for everyday wear.
It smells great, but what about the guy wearing it? What does it take to be the Mont Blanc man?
Simon: It’s a funny thing being a model. You see, you don’t sell yourself really… Someone else is selling you!
MFH: If I was to say, just by looking at the pictures of you, it looks like you’re masculine, you’re in control…
Simon: Oh yes, I’d agree. I also think it’s an age thing. I’m 49 and I think boys all aspire to be men and to be older. They’re always projecting on to the icons… like Steven McQueen, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood.
MFH: You mention those guys and actually, you have a bit of that look about you. You’ve got this really cool, lived in yet styled look. Does that come through in your grooming routine?
Simon: Yeah, definitely.
MFH: What do you use use in your hair?
Simon: I’ve been exposed to so many hair products, but the one that works best for me is Bumble and Bumble Semi-Sumo…
MFH: Well, it looks great! And and out of all these fragrances,which is your favourite?
Simon: Honestly, it really depends on the occasion. I like the Legend Spirit. I now associate it with being on holiday. And then the original Legend is more of musky fragrance for the evening.
MFH: We’ve got a black tie event tonight. How do you go about getting yourself ready? Do you have a routine?
Simon: I always clean shave. Sometimes I look at myself unshaved and think I look great and fresh, healthy and natural, but shaving revives me!
MFH: And for tonight, you’ll go smart?
Simon: Well, I’m a bit caught out being here in the mountains. I never associate being here with any sort of dress code. Here is the ultimate freedom. So, I will be wearing my skate shoes… with a tie and white shirt!
MFH: Sounds ideal! And your skin – what do you use? Is skin care important to you?
Simon: It is, yeh. I actually can get quite bad ingrown hairs if I don’t moisturise. I use Avene. It’s been around for years. It’s really mild and it’s perfect for my skin.
MFH: And to give me a picture of what you’re like, what’s your go-to cocktail?
Simon: Ah, good question! I love a Vesper Martini. Dirty martinis, dry martinis. All about the martinis!
MFH: So, do you see yourself as a bit of a James Bond character then?
Simon: Ha ha! Well, maybe more of the Roger Moore type. People would call me Sean Connery, but I’m definitely more Moore!
MFH: Have you always been interested in fragrance?
Simon: It’s actually quite embarrassing thinking back. I had fragrances like Old Spice and Brute. You know, there were really only two fragrances! And my sister wore Charlie. The market is a lot more sophisticated now.
MFH: Oh yes, it’s huge! How have you seen the male grooming market change?
Simon: Oh, it’s like night and day. Now we’re really allowed to groom ourselves. I race bikes and I shave my legs! I was chatting to my friends and one of them mentioned he waxes his back. It’s totally acceptable these days. As a guy, it’s actually quite liberating.
MFH: Is there one product that you can’t live without?
Simon: Absolutely, it’s the Bumble & Bumble Semi-Sumo. It gives my hair great texture and grip.
Simon: No! Not at all. I encourage my friends who are losing their hair and receding to grow their hair out. I always reference John Malkovich in Killing Fields. Let your hair go like that! Baldness is testosterone and it’s part of being a man.
MFH: Thanks very much Simon. I’ll see you for a martini downstairs.
Mont Blanc fragrances are available nationwide from Harrods, selected departments stores and Mont Blanc boutiques.