Article on Unisex Fragrances in Sunday Times

“When men and women started having bespoke fragrances created at the end of the 17th century, there was no distinction between which notes were used for the different sexes,” says Francis Kurkdjian in an article on “mixed” fragrances in Sunday Times.  The short piece mentions some fragrances, including recently released Jean Paul Gaultier 2, created by Kurkdjian.

Although I seem to wear everything in the course of my fragrance explorations, in many cases not noticing the distinctions, if I were to name some of my favourites among the fragrances that qualify as “mixed”, they would be Annick Goutal Eau d’Hadrien, Serge Lutens La Myrrhe, Frédéric Malle Angéliques Sous la Pluie, Hermès Un Jardin en Méditeranée as well as L’Artisan L’Eau del’Ambre. If you have your favourites, I would love to hear.

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18 Comments

  • parislondres: There are several mixed scents I enjoy wearing.

    The ones that come to my mind (before my first cup of coffee) are SL Cuir Mauresque and also AG Eau d’Hadrien.

    Have a super day!! October 31, 2005 at 2:58am Reply

  • Marcello: Thanks for sharing this article, Victoria!

    One small comment. The author refers to the *concept of unisex/mixed fragrances on the one hand (“Interestingly, this isn’t a new concept”), and to the inexistence of gender distinctions in 17th century perfumery on the other. If my interpretation of the article is correct, either the use of the term “concept” is inappropriate here, or the historical projection is wrong. The “unisex concept” can only exist by the grace of the gender division, and as such, it doesn’t apply to the late 17th century, when there was no gender division in perfumery to start with.

    ps: Eau d’Hadrien is one of my favourites too. October 31, 2005 at 7:49am Reply

  • Marina: Happy Halloween, V!!
    Favorite unisex scents…so many…To name only a few, Eau d’Hadrien, Passage d’Enfer, Kyoto, Bigarade Concentree, CdG Tea…I would actually include Pomegranate Noir in the list of the unisex as well as MPG Or des Indes…phew! October 31, 2005 at 9:04am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Oh, I love Cuir Mauresque as well. Its combination of leather with radiant floral notes is very interesting. Of course, Eau d’Hadrien has always been a favourite, especially in the summer.

    Have a wonderful day, dear N! October 31, 2005 at 10:58am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Marcello, I knew that you might notice that. 🙂 Yes, I think that in the 17th century the issue was not that fragrances were mixed, but that the gender divisions had a completely different meaning. As you shared in your interview a couple of weeks ago, the concept of gender divisions in perfumery is relatively new. October 31, 2005 at 11:00am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Happy Halloween, M!

    Or des Indes is the one I finally have to revisit. I tried it a few years ago for the first and only time. I have a sample on my table, which calls me to try it. You are giving me another impetus. 🙂 October 31, 2005 at 11:05am Reply

  • Tara: Fumerie Turque and Muscs Koublai Khan are my favorite unisex scents – my BF and I share bottles. October 31, 2005 at 1:30pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: I find most of Lutens to be quite “mixed,” with even the floral fragrances (especially Rose de Nuit) being suitable for men. Fumerie Turque is another favourite of mine. October 31, 2005 at 1:39pm Reply

  • Tania: Bulgari Black comes to mind, since I never know whether to look for it in the men’s or women’s section of Sephora. I think most niche perfumeries offer “shared” or “mixed” scents—SL, Diptyque, L’Artisan, Comme des Garçons, Etro, for example. The Hermessences are certainly gender neutral, and I think the Frederic Malle scents are too. Lots of my favorites fall into this category! October 31, 2005 at 1:49pm Reply

  • Sisonne: V, everytime I´m trying to write a list of my favourite fragrances – no matter in which category – I seem to forget the most important ones…but I´ll try it anyway 😉
    L´Artisan Passage d´Enfer, CD Bois d´Argent, Caron Tabac Blond, SL Cèdre & Daim Blond (As you already mentioned above, most of them are unisex to me, too.)
    I just discovered some Creed fragrances that I like very much, e.g. Tabarome, Royal Delight & Original Vetiver. In my opinion a lot of Creed scents can also be worn by a woman though they might fall in the male category.
    Etro also has a lot of fragrances that are equally suited for men & women. Sandalo is a favourite of mine, have you ever tested it? October 31, 2005 at 1:51pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, that is a great criterion! I tend to like many from this category as well, probably because they do not tend to play by the established rules of what is “feminine” and “masculine.” October 31, 2005 at 1:56pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: C, great list! Etro has plenty of interesting fragrance suitable for both men and women. I recently tried Sandalo and really liked it as well. Sandalwood tends to be among my favourite notes, and here it is rendered quite nicely.

    Oh, glad that you mentioned Passage d’Enfer, which is another superb “mixed” fragrance. October 31, 2005 at 2:00pm Reply

  • michel: i’m a man , i work for fashion industry since 10 years now so it’s a good scool to open your mind and to undurstand it’s a question of style, of personnality , physionomie and of course of taste just to said i have no list of mixed scents or it will be too long and you mentionned some of them
    i must admit i’m very impressed by “1000” from jean patou i smell it like a compromy between “eau sauvage “and “la myrrhe” and a strict and classic floral for a formal grey suit “jardenia” from jar . October 31, 2005 at 7:59pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Michel, the question of style is definitely much more important than the issue of classification. I do not like arbitrary distinctions, but sometimes these serve as nice shortcuts in order to differentiate among the onslaught of releases, which are increasing in number every year (especially if one is not as obsessed with perfume as someone like myself).

    Your mention of 1000 is enough for me to revisit it. I have not worn it for a while. Thanks! October 31, 2005 at 8:16pm Reply

  • julien: Hi dear.
    I could never say if a perfume is for men or women.
    It all depends on time and space,values and society where you are living in.
    In oriental countries,men do wear very heavy perfumes made of roses,for example…

    I mean,no scent has a sex except de scent of sex itselfs!

    And it always depends on the skin too…when i wear Shalimar for example,it is leather,a kind of cuir mauresque much more gourmand,but leather too…

    For me no unisex,every perfume is unisex. November 1, 2005 at 4:33am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Great approach, Julien! I also find that skin chemistry can make a difference. I wear Bel Ami once in a while, which unfolds into a beautiful spicy scent. The same fragrance smells rather strong and masculine on my cousin. November 1, 2005 at 9:54am Reply

  • Campaspe: Hmm. Cuir Mauresque and Tabac Blond are about as adventurous as I get, gender-wise. I am just very reactionary in this regard. Although I am also a fan of Angeliques sous la Pluie. November 3, 2005 at 6:41pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: It is not reactionary at all. It is just about what you think is your style. Cuir Mauresque and Tabac Blond are fairly adventurous! November 3, 2005 at 8:24pm Reply

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