With fragrance counters groaning under the weight of a thousand bottles purporting to do the same thing, which should you choose?
This is our guide to finding a scent to gently reflect the complexion of your personality.
The Blue Men Group
Fragrances from the blue family tend, as you might expect, to be invigorating, fresh and best suited to the man leading an active lifestyle – men like you, naturally. “They’re designed for the kind of character who thrives on adrenaline,” says award-winning perfume critic and author Riley Rusedski.
“He’s all about dynamism, speed and pitting his body against the elements.” He may also, we’d like to add, be partial to a gin and tonic after a day spent taming the surf.
These scents come into their own during the spring and summer months due to their weightless, effervescent quality. The discernible citrus notes in the first few minutes after spraying lend them an energizing character that’s complemented by a marine note in the middle. (Hence the blue, yeah?) Case in point: the latest incarnation of Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue features a combination of grapefruit, juniper, and musk that cuts through the summer heat.
One for those wanting to cling on to the exuberance of youth, then.
‘Extreme’ fragrances have been a burgeoning trend in the fragrance world for a couple of years now. More often than not they represent more intense variations on existing scents (‘flankers’, to use industry parlance) that offer either a ‘louder’ projection of the original scent or prolonged lifespan on the skin.
For example, Chanel Allure Homme Sport Eau Extrême has far more longevity (in other words, it lingers for longer) and a considerably sweeter punch than its popular but comparatively meek predecessor from 1999.
The bolder, darker nature of these fragrances, then, makes them fantastic for late nights and eveningwear. “This man’s modus operandi is one of sophisticated understatement,” says Alavi of he who takes it black.
“He considers his sense of style earnestly and he likes to maintain an air of mystery about him. His secrets are saved only for those who manage to get up close.” Carrying a box of Milk Tray would be a step too far, mind.
Orange is a color often associated with a warning, so let this be yours: you are now handling potent aromas. These fragrances are redolent of the Far East – both its food and its climate – and as such are powerful and carry with them the potential to be overbearing.
Featuring rich spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove along with incense, leather or amber in the base notes, they evoke feelings of lust and exoticism, warmth and seductiveness. In short, the wearer’s personality needs to stand up to the perfume.
“The men who can make these fragrances work tend to have confidence, passion, and sophistication in equal measure,” explains Azzi Glasser, the perfume designer behind the exceptional.
“He likes to make an entrance and be the center of attention wherever he goes, and he wants to linger in people’s minds long after he’s moved on to his next port of call.”
Our advice? Don’t spray the spray unless you can walk the walk.
Like blue scents, green fragrances evoke a sense of the outdoors, though here the emphasis is on verdant gardens and al fresco lunches among the flora, rather than sea and sand. Most exhibit the characteristics of sun-dappled forests or moist, mossy woodlands. “These fragrances are all about tranquility, not sweat-pumping action,” says Alavi. “They suit the man who likes the feel of grass underfoot.”
Notes from this family run the gamut from well-tended English garden to untamed fir tree forests, but they’re often defined by a pungent herbaceous quality. To take the edge off all that green, they frequently feature hints of rosemary and lavender, or citrus and warming woods.
The danger here is dousing liberally only to give off the aroma of pine fresh toilet cleaner, so it’s important to choose your scent wisely. Muguet Porcelain, a unisex scent from venerable French brand Hermès, is rich with floral notes like Lily of the Valley, giving an impression of delicate complexity.
Scents the color of brandy glasses and whiskey decanters evoke a vintage age of brown leather, cigar smoke and cologne strong enough to drink over ice. While things have moved on a little, the decadent, private members’ club aura these fragrances project is still very much intact.
Scents such as Tom Ford’s Bois Marocain, for instance, has a warm weight to it, with a smoky, woody feel that hugs the skin. It brings to mind artfully worked oak furniture: sturdy, stately and sophisticated. This one will definitely set you back a few dollars but here’s a great article on how to make your cologne last even longer.
But don’t go mistaking this family of fragrances as purely for throwbacks and fogies. Bottega Veneta’s Pour Homme exudes the same classic qualities we’ve mentioned, yet manages to feel thoroughly modern at the same time. “There’s no doubt the man who wears this kind of fragrance is unashamedly masculine,” says Alavi. “Even so, while he embodies a certain old-school charm, his outlook is contemporary.” We’re thinking a little less Richard Burton, a bit more Tom Hiddleston.