The more that women’s fragrances begin to smell alike in one pink synthetic blur, the more I find myself considering the men’s fragrance section. The overly sharp woody or harsh herbal notes that traditionally signify a “male” scent aren’t my cup of tea, but there are plenty of men’s fragrances that make for an interesting and distinctive feminine perfume.
A combination of desperation and curiosity led me to the men’s counter at Nordstrom, where I was promptly shied away from Kiehl’s Musk by a female salesclerk. “That’s for men,” she said, about the slightly animalic musk scent that has been called a mall cognate to Serge Lutens’s hot and sweaty Muscs Koublaï Khan. So what if someone raises an eyebrow about a cross-gender spray-and-play? The men’s section contains novelty and surprise, two qualities that have been lacking in recent women’s issues. There are gems at the men’s counter that are sure to intrigue if not outright delight. Here are some that I wear myself and buy for men, straight from the mall: