Top Ten Favorite Men’s Fragrances

Azzaro_pour_homme_01

The Father’s Day was yesterday, and in keeping with the theme, I would like to offer a list of top ten masculine fragrances that I find simply outstanding, whether I wear them myself or not. Although the line between feminine and masculine can be somewhat arbitrary, the labeling can be useful as shorthand for identifying particular families and styles. By way of example, fougère is a family that for the most part finds its way into the masculine fragrances; therefore, for women who love the aromatic interplay marking the compositions in this genre, the masculine market will offer many interesting options, from the classics like Caron Third Man to the new releases like L’Artisan Fou d’Absinthe. It is also fascinating to observe the emergence of new trends and techniques in the masculine domain. Ultimately, the decision to designate something as pour homme or pour femme must be a personal one.

1. Azzaro Pour Homme by Azzaro

The first time I smelled Azzaro Pour Homme I could not believe that I have never seen it at Sephora alongside Chrome, another wonderful Azzaro fougère. The truth of the matter is that Pour Homme is gorgeous. It can be described as the olfactory fireworks—the initial aromatic explosion is followed by the warm mellow drydown. Although many modern fragrances employ this technique, Azzaro Pour Homme still remains exciting.

2. Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior
One cannot make a list of great masculine fragrances without mentioning Eau Sauvage, for the simple reason that although it was created in 1966, it is still just as modern and fascinating. My bottle of Eau Sauvage is always within a reach should I need a great perfume reference.

3. Équipage by Hermès
Guy Robert’s composition for Hermès does not play along the expected rules of a masculine fragrance. What I love about it the most is the blossoming of a carnation in the heart, which adds an unexpected twist. Overall, it is stunning from the top to the base notes.

4. Fahrenheit by Christian Dior
Fahrenheit is the scent of city in the summer—the hot asphalt, the hazy fog of car exhaust around the concrete buildings, and the unexpected green freshness of chestnut tree leaves. As hard as I try, the vision of Kiev in the summer is what Fahrenheit conjures for me, probably because it is indelibly linked with my memories of the early 1990s, my teenage years spent in Ukraine. The nostalgic recollections aside, it is a great fragrance, maintaining a certain interesting tension that adds to its beauty and intrigue.

5. Fou d’Absinthe by L’Artisan Parfumeur
The newest Olivia Giacobetti creation for L’Artisan Parfumeur is designated as a masculine fragrance, although it should not prevent women from sampling it. This classical fougère offers a resinous and spicy take on the absinthe theme, and it has been quite a welcome addition to my staples this summer.

6. Habit Rouge by Guerlain
Jean-Paul Guerlain beautifully refashions Shalimar’s theme in Habit Rouge, accenting the same exhilarating contrast between the citrusy top and the warm oriental base notes, while marking it with a tinge of incense smoke.

7. Marc Jacobs for Men by Marc Jacobs
An elegant fig accord on a beautiful base of woods and musks, this must be one of my favorite Marc Jacobs fragrances. Out of the numerous fig renditions that have entered the market after the trendsetting L’Artisan Premier Figuier, Ralf Schwieger’s (Lipstick Rose by Frédéric Malle, Eau de Merveilles by Hermès) composition ranks at the top of my list due to its modern, edgy quality.

8. Pour Monsieur by Chanel
I first sought out Pour Monsieur when I heard Michael Edwards, the fragrance expert and author, refer to it as the closest match to Coty Chypre (1917), a fragrance that influenced the entire chypre family marked by the characteristic interplay between the fresh hesperidic top, jasmine and rose embellished heart and patchouli, oakmoss and labdanum enriched base. Indeed, Pour Monsieur is a more elegant version of the roughewn Chypre and a great example of Henri Robert’s talent (Chanel Cristalle, No. 19).

9. Third Man/Le 3ème Homme de Caron
I listed Caron masculines among my favorite discoveries of the last year, and Third Man/Le 3ème Homme de Caron has entered my repertoire on a permanent basis. I find this smoky floral fougère to be irresistible. Another fragrance that offers a similar take on the theme is Nicolaï Pour Homme.

10. Vetiver de Guerlain by Guerlain
What else can be said to recommend this gold standard of vetiver fragrances? It is stunning on a man, remarkably sexy on a woman, and it is just simply excellent. Even a slight reformulation that made Vetiver fresher and airier did not ruin this gem. Vetiver pour Elle is likewise worthy of seeking out for a crystalline floral harmony against a transparent vision of the roots.

11. Yohji Homme by Yohji Yamamoto
Well, the rules are meant to be broken, and I could not resist adding an eleventh favorite.  Yohji Homme’s rum and coffee notes set against the luscious woody backdrop endow the entire composition with an abstractly gourmand quality that its creator Jean-Michel Duriez executes remarkably well.

Even so, this list is hardly exhaustive, and I would like to point out a few more interesting compositions, focusing specifically on the newer releases: Arpège Pour Homme by Lanvin, Be Delicious for Men by Donna Karan, Dior Homme by Christian Dior, Divine L’Homme de Coeur, L’Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme, Terre d’Hermès.

Azzaro Pour Homme ad from Parfum de Pub.

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40 Comments

  • Mercedes Rey: O. K., here´s my list:
    1. Dior Homme
    2. Terre d´Hermés
    3. M7 FRESH YSL
    4. Aqua di Gió Armani
    5. Eau SAUVAGE dIOR
    6. Kouros sport YSL
    7. Code Armani
    8. Méchant Loup L´Artisan
    9. Very Irresistible Givenchy
    10.Eau par Kenzo June 19, 2006 at 6:03am Reply

  • Marina: Great list! I love 5 out of your 11, and the rest I am simply not familiar with, but I have no doubt they are gorgeous too. June 19, 2006 at 8:58am Reply

  • Ina: I very much second Fou D’Absinthe and Marc Jacobs for men – neither of these are too masculine and are so easy to wear. Thank you for sharing your list! June 19, 2006 at 10:01am Reply

  • Judith: Wonderful list, including many favorites–the rest are all now “must-tries.” Somehow, I have not yet tried Equipage, which should be easy enough to do (and sounds like something I would clearly like). I gather that you prefer this to Bel-Ami. . .? June 19, 2006 at 10:16am Reply

  • Robin: Great list, V. We so often agree that is is funny for me to see Marc Jacobs in your top 10. I think of it as an absolute scrubber. June 19, 2006 at 11:24am Reply

  • patchamour: Thanks, V, for the great list. Most of these are unfamiliar because Monsieur Patch has been wearing Gendarme for years, its only flaw for us being its quick fade. However, we visited Caron in NY a few weeks ago and were both taken with Yatagan and Troisieme Homme. Ultimately he preferred Yatagan, so I gave him a bottle last week. I’m sure there’s something in there besides patchouli, but for me, so far, that dominates. Still like it though. What do you think of Yatagan? I’m headed out to look for some of these others. June 19, 2006 at 12:48pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Mercedes, I hear many good things about M7 FRESH YSL, but I have not tried it yet. How does it compare to the original (which I love)? June 19, 2006 at 1:05pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, I can even guess which 5! I am not sure if you have tried Yohji Homme, but I think that you would like it. June 19, 2006 at 1:16pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ina, I love both of these. They are just wonderful ans easy to wear, and although Fou d’Absinthe is a bit masculine for my tastes, it nevertheless works wonderfully well. June 19, 2006 at 1:17pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Judith, I prefer the older edition of Bel Ami, which was a dark leather chypre. The newer one is more sparkling, even though it is still great. Equipage is just a fantastic composition, very unusual. June 19, 2006 at 1:19pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I must say that I was surprised when you told me that you dislike MJ for Men, because there is nothing in it that I can even conceive of as offensive. Well, more for me! June 19, 2006 at 1:21pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Patchamour, Yatagan is a great fragrance, and it is the one I would have listed if I had more space. It is a perfect woody composition. To wear for myself, I prefer Third Man. June 19, 2006 at 1:22pm Reply

  • marchlion: I am so new to the men’s department, I am happy/reassured to see some of my new loves on your list (hey, I must have SOME taste!! ;-) ). I suppose I will have to spring for bottles of Equipage and Third Man, because now that I smelled them with Ina I am not sure I can live much longer without them. I had no idea… and I think the Arpege is stunning. The L’Instant is the first men’s fragrance I bought! June 19, 2006 at 5:24pm Reply

  • michel: bonsoir ou bonjour ” bois de jasmin “,i like your list, i think it’s a reference for men looking for a very good fragrance and two very intelligent points : easy to find and at good price .

    Bravo and thanks for your advice , i’d like to point out a few more i realy like: “habit rouge” (eau de cologne),”selection verte” creed, “acteur” azaro, “moustache” rochas and globe “rochas” (harder to find) June 19, 2006 at 7:53pm Reply

  • k-amber: A wonderful list! Most fragrances are familiar to me and memorable. Just one more….I like Bulgari Vert as a men’s scent.

    Kaori June 20, 2006 at 4:20am Reply

  • Mercedes Rey: Hi! Victoria, I use M7 Fresh, but I think the classic one is just as wonderful, only a bit stronger. In my opinion it´s only a matter of tastes, but perhaps the fresh version is just a bit more wearable for women, specially in summer. June 20, 2006 at 5:05am Reply

  • daruma: That was exactly the same reason I sought out Chanel Pour Monsieur and I like the concentre version very much (there’s too much basil in the regular edt). But I find it to be brasher than Chypre which for me is the subtlest, purest, most elegant chypre there is, roughhewn only in the sense that it’s the essential chypre, the origin, the rootspring. June 20, 2006 at 10:22am Reply

  • cynthia: What a great list! I am going to show it to my husband, because he needs a break from Egoiste. June 20, 2006 at 12:02pm Reply

  • annE: Well, here’s what my DH has on his shelf right now:

    Caron The Third Man
    Hermes Equipage
    Dior Eau Sauvage
    Guerlain Derby

    So I see we have some similar tastes in masculine fragrances. Also in the rotation are:

    Guerlain Vetiver
    Frederic Malle Epices Noir
    Divine L’Homme Sage

    All purchased by me, of course. He’ll usually wear fragrance if I request one, but it doesn’t ordinarily occur to him as something to do. Go figure.
    I’ll have to try the Chanels on him next! June 20, 2006 at 12:23pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, you have wonderful taste! That was never in doubt. I just dug out L’Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme sample and put it on. Very enjoyable. June 20, 2006 at 6:28pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Michel, thank you. I personally would love any of these fragrances on a man, although I often reach for a few of them myself. On the other hand, Fahrenheit is far too masculine for me to wear, but it is simply great, and I keep a bottle around just to remind myself how wonderful it is. Thank you for your list of recommendations. I have not tried a few things from what you mention, therefore I shall apply some effort to locate them. June 20, 2006 at 6:31pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Kaori, I also love Bulgari The Vert, although I wear it myself. June 20, 2006 at 6:32pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Mercedes, thank you for comparing them. I will definitely try it the next time I am at the YSL counter. It sounds very interesting. June 20, 2006 at 6:33pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Daruma, Coty Chypre to me is roughhewn in the same that nothing about is subtle. I do not mean it in the same of crude, raw effect. It is vivid, strong, slighly barbaric with its leather-labdanum accord. However, I agree that maintains a certain elegance despite the assertive nature of its facets. June 20, 2006 at 6:36pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Cynthia, great! I hope that this might be helpful. June 20, 2006 at 6:37pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ann, fantastic list! Your husband is lucky to have you pick fragrances for him. I love Chanel masculines, from Anthaeus to Pour Monsieur. June 20, 2006 at 6:38pm Reply

  • Katie: Neat – there’s many on here I am utterly unfamiliar with, so this reads a lot like a very fun shopping list for me. I suddenly realize that I have NEVER smelled an Azzaro. Huh. I think I just forget about that house, sometimes. My poor hubby has found his Pi, and refuses to relenquish his pronouncement that it is “the only perfume a man needs.” He’s simply done as far as he’s concerned. Though he did compliment me on Fresh’s Cannabis Santal, which surprised me not even a little, since its dry down is pretty much Pi with a tinge of green. So, if you’ve got any rec’s that might persuade a Pi-fiend to try something new, I’d appreciate them. June 21, 2006 at 6:28pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Katie, I highly recommend at least smelling Azzaro pour Homme. As for something that a Pi fiend might like, how about Rochas Man or Lolita Lempicka (men’s version), which are in the same family? June 22, 2006 at 1:19am Reply

  • julien: Hi
    What a long time!

    Hope you are fine…..

    My top ten list:

    1)HABIT ROUGE
    Wonderfully suave…
    2)Opium for men
    Spicy,candy like,full of amber…a very beautiful oriental scent.
    3)Ambre Précieux by MPG
    Very sensual amber
    4)L’eau de Rochas
    Very cool on a hot weather
    5)Kouros
    Makes me think of a perfume made for big,tall men.
    very direct but also very charming.
    6)Pour un homme de Caron
    lavender and vanilla…smells like a candy!
    7)A MEN by Mugler
    patchouli….and patchouli again!
    8)Hugo by hugo boss
    Even though i hate these perfumes,i don’t know why but this one makes me feel confortable.
    9)Any Lutens on a man skin
    10)Parfum d’habit by MPG for its leather theme or Vetiver by guerlain…

    ;)

    Kisses,dear.
    j. June 22, 2006 at 4:26pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Julien, nice to see you again! Hope that you are well and that everything is going smoothly. What a great list! I cannot agree more on Opium for Men, which I discovered thanks to you. June 22, 2006 at 4:30pm Reply

  • Nick: Dear V,

    I was so excited by sight of the list!

    How recently was Guerlain’s Vetiver altered?

    Best Wishes, June 23, 2006 at 1:04pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear Nick, I am glad that you enjoyed it! Guerlain Vetiver was altered in the 1990s, as far as I can tell. It was just made fresher, sparklier. I have the modern version as well as the one from the 1970s. Both are excellent. June 23, 2006 at 7:06pm Reply

  • Areko Bastile: my list:
    01- DAIM BLOND by Serge Lutens
    02- TERRE D’HERMES by Hermes
    03- FOU D’ABSINTHE by L’Artisan Parfumeur
    04- ARMANI CODE by Giorgio Armani
    05- NOIR COLOGNE By Christian Dior
    06- EAU SAUVAGE By Christian Dior
    07- VERRY IRRESISTIBLE By Givenchy
    08- M7 FRESH By Yves Saint Laurent
    09- GUERRILLA 1 By Comme de Garcons
    10- MUGLER COLOGNE By Thierry Mugler August 8, 2006 at 4:35am Reply

  • Susanna: Moustache by Rochas was what my hubby was wearing when I met him. It still makes me swoon. The original is hard to find in the U.s. He wears Eau Sauvage in the summer and D&G for men in the winter. On really hot days he just wears Pinaud talc which smells amazing. Sometimes I sneak it from him. Lorenzo Villerosi makes a few that are unisex. Garofano smells heavenly on him, which he sneaks from me. I think men sometimes smell really fabulous in fragrance designed for women. A good example of this is Jicky by Guerlain, which Mick Jaggar has worn for years. Recently, I think alot of perfume houses are designing unisex. The Different Company Rose Poivee is one that smells great on men. I recieved it as a gift and the bottle was so cool, partially clad in leather that hubby thought it was for him borrowed it and never gave it back. It smells amazing on him. Not rosey at all — peppery, green and insense intensive. Very masculine. (It smelled masculine on me as well). Something about a man fresh out of the shower wearing Polo by Ralph Lauren. It’s classic. Not for everyone but I like it. Comme Des Garcon Series Red makes a few Palisander and Harissa that are very masculine and smell great on my man as well. September 20, 2006 at 6:35pm Reply

  • Susanna: Moustache by Rochas was what my hubby was wearing when I met him. It still makes me swoon. The original is hard to find in the U.s. He wears Eau Sauvage in the summer and D&G for men in the winter. On really hot days he just wears Pinaud talc which smells amazing. Sometimes I sneak it from him. Lorenzo Villerosi makes a few that are unisex. Garofano smells heavenly on him, which he sneaks from me. I think men sometimes smell really fabulous in fragrance designed for women. A good example of this is Jicky by Guerlain, which Mick Jaggar has worn for years. Recently, I think alot of perfume houses are designing unisex. The Different Company Rose Poivee is one that smells great on men. I recieved it as a gift and the bottle was so cool, partially clad in leather that hubby thought it was for him borrowed it and never gave it back. It smells amazing on him. Not rosey at all — peppery, green and insense intensive. Very masculine. (It smelled masculine on me as well). Something about a man fresh out of the shower wearing Polo by Ralph Lauren. It’s classic. Not for everyone but I like it. Comme Des Garcon Series Red makes a few Palisander and Harissa that are very masculine and smell great on my man as well. September 20, 2006 at 6:35pm Reply

  • Gent: Why is Acqua Di Gio not in the list? October 2, 2006 at 3:00am Reply

  • Jean: You don’t like Axe Africa and Old Spice? October 17, 2007 at 6:48am Reply

  • jeannie: i was looking for the men’s fragrance Giorgio Beverly Hills, but it is no longer in production. it is a blend of: gardenia, rose and jasmine., blended with patchouli, chamomile and orange flower,

    is there another fragrance that is similar? January 6, 2008 at 1:41am Reply

  • Bryan Ross: Sadly, Azzaro Pour Homme is now reformulated into a pallid shadow of its former self. It smells more like a high-end sport fragrance now. I do like it, but it’s far from the top of my list.

    I would say Green Irish Tweed should be somewhere near the top of my list. sorry, it’s just that the hype is true – this scent is all that, and more. January 22, 2012 at 8:03pm Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, I agree. Azzaro in particular has suffered. It is so thin and pale today. January 22, 2012 at 10:40pm Reply

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