Masculine Florals: 25 posts

Floral scents that are still virile

Roses for Men (and not only)

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, everything is rose embellished, from florist shop windows to perfume columns. I love roses, but I don’t see any reason why they should be reserved just for women. Don’t guys deserve their own bed of roses too? Just as gendered color coding (pink for her, blue for him) is a 20th century marketing invention, the division of perfumery into “pour elle” and “pour lui” is fairly recent. One only needs to examine fragrance habits around the world to see how arbitrary it is. So in my FT column I explore some of my favorite rose perfumes that can be worn by men (and of course, women).

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Jasmine attars are shared in India, while rose is a favourite essence among men in the Gulf countries. But try to convince a chap in Europe to don some flowers and you are met with a quizzical look. Aren’t roses just for women? François Robert, the “nose” behind the niche line Les Parfums de Rosine, doesn’t think so. To continue, please click here.

Any other interesting roses to add to the list?

Charles and Georges Durand Ruel by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, via wiki-images, some rights reserved.

Terry de Gunzburg Rose Infernale : Perfume Review

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Terry de Gunzburg is the kind of person I admire. She quit a career in medicine to train as a makeup artist, and thanks to her vision and dedication to quality, she has become so successful that she’s regularly called the Steve Jobs of makeup. Sounds odd, except that many of the cosmetics she launched have remained best sellers for decades, such as the famous Touche Éclat, a highlighter-concealer pen she created for Yves Saint Laurent. When she announced a perfume line two years ago, I prepared for fireworks.

terry

But the first launch was disappointing, proving that a lot of money doesn’t instantly translate into great perfume. The names of the fragrances, Rêve Opulent, Parti Pris, Lumière d’Epices, Ombre Mercure and Flagrant Délice, were more memorable than the scents themselves. (After I wrote this article, I realized that de Gunzburg now has 12 perfumes in its collection, including the ubiquitous Oud.) The problem is typical of niche brands—the lack of editing.

Two subsequent launches, Rose Infernale and Rouge Nocturne, also lack editing—why have two similar oriental roses?—but here, the rose lover in me tells the pedant to be quiet and just enjoy the ride. And I do. Rose Infernale, in particular, is a striking fragrance, and I’m addicted to its dark roses smoked over incense and sandalwood.

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Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady : Perfume Review

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The news of Frédéric Malle selling his Editions de Parfums house to Estée Lauder reminded me that I haven’t gotten around to writing about one of the most intriguing fragrances from his collection, Portrait of a Lady. Why intriguing? Well, consider the name. If it brings to your mind the cool elegance of Henry James’s heroines, then you’re not alone. I also expected something along these lines–ultra refined, sophisticated and feminine. Except that it is all wrong. Portrait of a Lady is interesting precisely because the scent is not at all what you expect. It’s a twist on a Middle Eastern theme, and it’s not all that lady-like.

Picasso-Boy-with-Pipe

If you’ve already smelled traditional Middle Eastern perfumes or western blends inspired by them (Amouage, Kilian’s oudsArmani Privé Rose d’Arabie), then you might recognize similar elements in Portrait of a Lady. It has a generous dose of classical “oriental” notes–sandalwood, amber, patchouli, dark woods smoked over incense, and of course, rose. It has a similar dramatic and mysterious character that makes this perfume genre so distinctive.

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Tauer Perfumes Une Rose Chypree : Fragrance Review

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Elisa on roses, moss, and brocade.

Some perfumes take only moments to love, but years to understand. Such was the case for me with Une Rose Chyprée, a perfume from the indie line created by Andy Tauer. From the first sniff, I knew it was special. But I struggled to grasp why or how. It was not, to my nose, a chypre (a mossy-woody blend) at all. It was not of the sharp, haughty variety like Paloma Picasso; not chilly and green like Yves Ssaint Laurent Y or Chanel No. 19; not, like the more recent Agent Provocateur, saffron-sour up top and musky-dirty at the bottom. So what was it, then?

tauer

After spending a few years with his collection, I realized that Andy Tauer’s true muse is amber. And Une Rose Chyprée is not a straight chypre but an amber in conversation with a mossy rose, melding into its bittersweet floral-herbal personality, but not losing its own round, full, and resinous scent.

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Diptyque Eau Moheli : Perfume Review

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“A poor man’s jasmine” is ylang-ylang‘s unfair moniker, but to me, it’s like comparing apples and oranges. Ylang-ylang essence, obtained from the fragrant flowers of the Cananga odorata tree, shares some facets with jasmine, but it’s even more dramatic. The icy cold top notes of wintergreen are contrasted with the apricot jam sweetness in the heart, and the whole smells more luscious than a flower is allowed to be.

eau-moheli

Enter Diptyque Eau Moheli, which not only promises to give us a new ylang-ylang interpretation, but also features a refined new version of this classical perfume material. Several years ago, Givaudan, a company that manufactures fragrances as well as many of the raw materials used in flavor and fragrance blends, started a project on the island of Mohéli in the Comoros. The quality of commercial ylang-ylang oil has declined over the years, and the idea behind Moheli’s project was to regenerate the production of ylang-ylang. The result was a high-grade essence, with nothing poor about it.

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