Thursday, June 18, 2009

Top 10 Memorable Masculine Fragrances

Fathers, spouses, old boyfriends, scent twins- they all have one thing in common: they (and us) create memories. Nothing is more emotionally triggering than scent. Think of your father's old cologne from the 70s (did he wear Old Spice? Did he later graduated to the original Polo?) or the Drakkar Noir of your first boyfriend. Did you ever date a man who wore Creed Green Irish Tweed and made you think of Cary Grant (the story is that GIT was created for him)? Did your little brother drench himself in Axe before his first date? Maybe you had a great teacher or work mentor who used to wear Grey Flannel, or had your heart broken by a Chanel Égoïste fan (I did). The point is that it's not just our Shalimar that creates special moments.

Things have changed since the days of the ubiquitous bottle of Polo, and the choices are many. Here's my list of (very) memorable masculine scents for the unforgettable men in our lives. In no particular order:

1. Tauer Perfumes-Lonestar Memories
Smoky, strong and outdoorsy at times, warm leather, herbal with a hint of Lapsang Souchong. More interesting and sophisticated than the cowboy image.

2. Tom Ford Private Blend-Tuscan LeatherSoft, smooth and as leathery as they come. Warm and inviting, evokes both a leather jacket and an old study full with leather-bound books.

3. Mazzolari-Lui
An animalic patchouli like no other. Sweet and dangerous (especially if over-applied).

4. Serge Lutens-Gris Clair
Burnt lavender. A bit brooding, yet clean and crisp.

5. Guerlain-VetiverA great classic. Citrus top over green vetiver. Perfectly tasteful.

6. Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier-Iris Bleu GrisDry to the bone, earthy without being dirty.

7. JAR-ShadowDamp and mysterious. A visit to dark cellars and forgotten attics.

8. Frederic Malle-Vetiver ExtraordinaireDry and bitter vetiver, yet still green. A scent to take over the boardroom before going out to take Manhattan.

9. Hermes-Terre d'HermesPerhaps the most popular in this bunch, yet somewhat controversial. Orange peel and minerals, crisp and strong.

10. Comme des Garcons-Monocle Scent One: HinokiIncense, evergreens, a forest floor.

Please visit Perfume Shrine for more unforgettable masculine fragrances.


  1. lady jane greyJune 19, 2009 2:57 AM

    Hm, I didn't know Gris Claire and Hinoki are masculine perfumes (or I've never really thought about...) - I wear them happily, when in a mood for something clean and straight.

  2. Oh, how can you show that luscious photo of Cary Grant and not put Jicky on the list? Wasn't that supposed to be his regular scent?

    My dad only wore Mennen after-shave, he always smelled so nice!


  3. Although I like many in your list, I somehow managed not to list even one of them! This goes to show just how difficult it is to limit oneself to only 10, eh?

    I believe many of those we consider unisex are often sold in the masculine side of shelves, so as not to deter the poor dears from picking up that bottle and spritzing. Good thing they can be shared, at least I do!

  4. Lady Jane, I actually remember someone in Basenotes saying he'd rather not ever smell Hinoki on a woman! I feel like throwing a bottle at him ;)
    I wear both Gris Clair and Hinoki when in the mood, but I admit they smell better on my husband.

  5. C., I wear Jicky so often that I'm having a hard time seeing it as a masculine. But you're right- it definitely deserves a place here, as are others that were left out (so many Lutens!).

    My father isn't very loyal to scents these days. The last bottle I bought him was Terre d'Hermes. My mom seems pleased with it.

  6. E., it was excruciatingly difficult to limit myself to the 10 we agreed, and I keep thinking of more.

    Those SAs are so determined to prevent us from making a "gender mistake" it's not even funny. You should have seen the face of the one at my local Saks when I was testing several masculines on my skin trying to decide what to buy my dad. She looked at me funny and said "you KNOW these ones are for MEN, dear". I spared her the lecture about marketing, skin chemistry and how my very dry skin is pretty much like my father's and I'm testing for him. I just gave her a look and raised an eyebrow...

  7. how about my favorite - Balthazar from le bon Marche in Paris?

  8. My dad's fiercely loyal to Monsieur Balmain-- before the days of perfume websites he used to plan trips around picking up a fresh supply. Since there's always been a trace amount of it in the shower room since I was a kid, it's still the fragrance I most strongly connect to the idea of 'clean'.


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