Of course one of the whole points of Les Senteurs is to encourage our customers to wear whichever fragrance appeals to them: we do not sell by gender. Increasingly the niche perfume industry has followed us here: a perfume is sold as a beautiful scent aimed at the sensibility, psychology and emotions of the individual; its attraction is not confined to a specific sex.
Yet, nonetheless, certain fragrances whether by name or by the use of certain ingredients do carry connotations of being specifically male.
Ladies! I’m going to ask you to be bold,set aside your prejudices and preconceptions and have another look, another smell of the following scents.
We’ll start with 5 exemplars: that will be enough for most noses. If you find you like the idea, I’ll prepare you another batch. So do let us know. Thank you.
Frederic Malle – Editions de Parfums
We often hear ladies complaining – and with reason- that modern commercial fragrances are too sweet, overly laced with vanilla, tonka and liqueur accords. Here is the perfect antidote. Spraying VETIVER EXTRAORDINAIRE is like diving into a cool jade-green lake or showering under a forest waterfall.
It’s curious: most women adore the chthonic earthy smell
of vetiver grass (perfumers tend to work with the root) but when the oil is worked for women’s scents (sic) all the tangy edgy sharpness is usually ironed out. Here Dominique Ropion uses an egregiously high concentration of smoky Haitian vetiver and emphasises the bitterness with pink pepper, oak moss and – most dramatically – with slightly acrid biting myrrh.
On a girl’s skin this can be absolutely divine if you are looking for a crisp, super-elegant, immaculate chypre. A scent to wear with your most expensive tailoring, with your best shoes, a £200 hair makeover. Don’t be put off by my stressing the severity of VETIVER EXTRAORDINAIRE: as with all the perfumes described here, remember that the chemistry of a woman’s skin will in most cases naturally soften even the most extreme of austere scents.
Creed offer many opulent florals but it has to be said that the true glory of the range lies in the masculine lines. Creed has the perceived character of being fundamentally a House for men. So get in on the act, girls, and pinch one or two boys’ fragrances for yourselves.
I recall that when ORIGINAL SANTAL came out a decade ago the first consignment, which arrived in mid-winter, was almost exclusively snapped up by ladies for their own use. Now why? Well – there’s the glorious fiery bottle for a start. Now I know that in the final analysis the container is irrelevant – as with an oyster it’s what inside that counts. But, a fun flacon IS important and the graduated reds of SANTAL grab the attention as startlingly as Bette Davis’s scarlet ballgown in ‘Jezebel’.
And it becomes the contents perfectly: sweet, yes, but most winningly so and also woody, warm & generous-hearted. The tonka bean lusciousness is balanced with sandalwood, ginger, bitter orange, coriander, cinnamon and Creed’s famous juniper. A party scent, a scent that picks you up and makes you smile; you could never feel depressed in ORIGINAL SANTAL. How great is that?
Bois du Portugal
Another cross-over act and my own favourite of the entire Creed range.
BOIS DU PORTUGAL goes back some 30 years and is one of those delicious scents of which it is hard to be sure of the ingredients. Undoubtedly I am not alone in finding this an added attraction: we all love a little enigma in a perfume.
BOIS DU PORTUGAL is deep and soft, dark and green: but of a quality quite unlike VETIVER EXTRAORDINAIRE. This is velvety, embracing, lulling, warm and enveloping. The smell of summer forests in Portugal filled with fragrant woods, lavender, oak moss and touches of lemon and citrus. Maybe a little leather, rose and a hint of lily of the valley underfoot The base is sandal and cedarwood bolstered & enriched with Creed’s signature ambergris.
Ladies who love Mitsouko, Eau du Soir and Femme should try this. It’s simultaneously chic and confident, sexy and assured. Like every good scent it should smell as though it is part of the wearer, as though exuded by the pores not by an atomiser.
Pour Un Homme
The name and the plain square no-fuss bottle are uncompromisingly masculine. The fragrance is something else, a scent for everyone and anyone. Launched in 1934 this is in one sense the perfume that started all the His & Hers trouble: Caron claims it was the first fragrance marketed for men. It has been one of the world’s most iconic creations ever since.
Even if you think lavender is not for you, give POUR UN HOMME a go: this is sexy amorous seductive lavender, not a tired drawer freshener or faded cologne. PUH is the most luxuriously simple blending of complementary lavender oils with a discreet heart of rose absolue on a swooning base of expertly deployed vanilla and tonka which soften and enhance rather than sweeten. They also prolong tenacity as do the precious woods which hold them: PUH lingers leisurely on the skin.
This little masterpiece is one of a great quartet of lavender scents which includes the eccentric Jicky, the surreal beauty of Cologne Pour Le Matin and the blue afternoon of Reverie Au Jardin. Viva lavender, vive Caron!
Geranium Pour Monsieur
Frederic Malle – Editions de Parfums
The late great Mona di Orio used to reflect nostalgically on the scent of garden geraniums, gratefully watered on a hot dusty summer evening. Colette, too, wrote about this spicy green aroma. Now we can all wear it in
the setting of Dominique Ropion’s glorious green jewel.
GERANIUM is initially cool, even cold, a symphony of all the mints and peppermints. It’s bracing, sparkling, alive, tingling – there’s a slight mentholated quality to it, a morning wake up call. Because of this you may find it a perfect scent for daytime, for the workplace. This is the fragrance for a tall Hitchcock blonde, sure of herself and her frosty magnetism. Like her, GERANIUM melts and warms upon acquaintance, as your skin transforms it into a lightly musky creaminess, with touches of cinnamon and incense resins. Ingrid Bergman would have done it justice. So would Grace Kelly.
Please have a try: in some ways this is maybe the most superficially masculine of my five choices but it is so unusual, unique and, frankly, gloriously unpredictable that I urge you to try it.
You may find the results sensational.