Running with the Boys : Adventures at the Fragrance Counter


Feminine, masculine? Does it really matter when it comes to perfume? I wander over to  Sephora’s masculine section and bravely spray Ralph Lauren Polo on my wrist. After all, I had to wear Drakkar Noir as a perfumery student to learn its nuances and once spent a whole day drenched in Paco Rabanne, which a friend described as burly and virile. Neither of those words has ever been applied to me, but as I get a piney leathery waft of Polo I start to fidget. As much as I want to be open minded about disregarding gendered divisions, some smells seem too masculine to be comfortable for me. The biggest offenders are the fougère style fragrances like Guy Laroche Drakkar Noir, Davidoff Cool Water and Yves Saint Laurent Kouros–the style which combines the aromatic richness of lavender with citrus, geranium, amber, musk and oakmoss.

While there is nothing intrinsically masculine about the smell of lavender, citrus and geranium, their presence in fragrances marketed for men sets a boundary that few women are willing to cross. Few women in the West, I would add. During my travels in the Middle East I have been offered an array of scents to perfume myself after meals that sometimes included Polo and Old Spice. At the Indian attar shop I once asked whether there is a difference between scents worn by men and women. The elderly owner thought about it for a moment, pulled on his thick moustache and replied, “if it smells good, they wear them all.” I can confirm that to walk past a handsome man redolent of honeyed roses is an unforgettable experience. In an unexpected and surprising manner, it is also very sexy.

A perfect perfume should feel like it is a part of my skin and my natural aura. When I reach for Serge Lutens A La Nuit and it wraps me into its heavy jasmine veil, I am immediately comforted. Jasmine, as you might guess from my blog’s name, is one of my favorite scents. I know its perfume intimately. Polo, as impressive and attractive as it is, feels dissonant on my skin. The patchouli is rough and earthy, the leather is like a sharp snap. It makes me think of an acquaintance who wears it with panache. On him, it smells distinctive and elegant, a cross between James Dean and Al Pacino. The moment I get home I wash Polo off my skin. Today is my day off, I am not a student nor am I interested in changing my cultural DNA. I simply want a perfume to make my day more beautiful.

Still, the idea of olfactory cross-dressing is tantalizing because it can provide the most poignant sense of discovery. As a floral lover, I was surprised to discover how much I loved dry woods like Knize Ten, L’Artisan L’Eau du Navigateur (discontinued, alas), Comme des Garçons 2 Ma and Idole de Lubin. Christian Dior Eau Sauvage ended up as one of the most elegant perfumes in my wardrobe, while Guerlain Habit Rouge one of the most suave. Handsome and cool, they avoid standard masculine clichés like the shrill artificial lavender, neon bright citrus and clean musk.  For experiences such as what these fragrances offer, I am willing to continue my raids on the masculine counter. Meanwhile, no one has called me burly or virile.

For what perfumes would you be willing to cross the gender lines? What perfumes do you associate with men and women in your life so strongly that you would not be likely to wear them?

Image: Marlene Dietrich with Paul Porcasi in Morocco, a film from 1930.



  • patuxxa: One of my favorite scents is Hermès Bel Ami, and I often wear Tom Ford Grey Vetiver or swipe a few sprays from my dad’s Terre de Hermés (which I gifted him to great success; he finished a bottle in two years). I don’t really care about the distintion anymore, it’s more about ingredients than marketing and there are a few ingredients which I simply cannot abide… It’s funny you mention Kouros, because I just detest Kouros, so there! February 7, 2012 at 8:26am Reply

  • Alexandra: Could you believe that I was wearing Drakkar Noir as a junior high student, back in the 80s? A classmate commented she could detect me at school by simply following my sillage (she loved it)! February 7, 2012 at 8:33am Reply

  • [email protected]: Interesting! I love Eau Sauvage but love (vintage) Diorella more so feel no need to cross the aisle for that one. I do sometimes wear Egoiste and Invasion Barbare but I don’t think either are brutal, not like Yatagan say which I love but wouldn’t dream of wearing. Then there are the gender bender scents like Jicky and A Taste of Heaven and (I think) Caron Pour un Homme which I wear/would wear. Maybe the presence of vanilla in those softens the scent enough to be comfortable to the feminine nose. But then there’s Hermes Voyage and Poivre Samarkand which also (to me) straddle the line. Hmm, still working out where my line is! Nicola February 7, 2012 at 8:53am Reply

  • Maja: I wear masculine only if I my husband is out of town – as a reminder 🙂 terre d’hermes being number one. habit rouge, also… February 7, 2012 at 9:10am Reply

  • Austenfan: I love a lot of masculines, but good ones. I can’t remember having ever smelled Drakkar Noir, I must have but cannot remember it. Favourites of mine include:
    PdN New York, Baladin, Pour Homme
    Chanel Pour Monsieur, Egoiste
    MDCI Invasion Barbare
    YSL M7
    Divine L’Homme de Coeur, L’Homme Sage
    Goutal, Vetiver, Eau du Fier, Eau de Monsieur.

    And perhaps my most favourite masculine fragrance: Caron Pour un Homme.

    There is a masculine, or a number of current masculine fragrances that use this strong musk or amber. Unfortunately the men that wear this tend to wear a lot of it. I find i positively revolting. February 7, 2012 at 9:22am Reply

  • kjanicki: I have a vintage splash bottle of Bandit that was originally marketing to men. I also have L’Eau du Navigateur but I never wear it, it feels too masculine on me. I always think of pirates. But I regularly steal my husbands Lorenzo Villoresi Sandalo and Comme des Garcons Hinoki makes me feel like I’m relaxing in a cabin far from the city. February 7, 2012 at 9:45am Reply

  • Anne: Also it is marketed as a mixed fragrance, Amber and Lavender, by jo Malone, was created for her husband. It is supposed to be a male perfume, but I often wear it. It feels intimate, carressing, yet dry. One of my girl friend recently started wearing l habit rouge de guerlain, and she just smell divine!!!!! I would absolutely stay clear of anything that has the strong scent of fougere. I really dislike it, and on a man too! Anne xx February 7, 2012 at 9:48am Reply

  • Victoria: I also love Bel Ami and the other fragrances you mention. A bottle of Terre de Hermes that I gave to my husband ended up on my side of the dresser. February 7, 2012 at 10:05am Reply

  • Victoria: Anything with too much of that bright lavender-citrus, dihydromyrcenol, which Luca Turin once called lavender on steroids is where I draw my line.
    Completely agree with you on Yatagan. I love it, I have a bottle, but I can’t wear it. February 7, 2012 at 10:07am Reply

  • Victoria: This is impressive! If you told me that these days you wear Drakkar Noir, I wouldn’t really bat an eyelash. Many perfumistas I encounter have very eclectic tastes. But as a junior high student! Alexandra, I take my hat off to you. 🙂 February 7, 2012 at 10:11am Reply

  • Victoria: I do that sometimes with my husband’s favorites. 🙂 February 7, 2012 at 10:11am Reply

  • Victoria: The strong laundry musk, sharp amber and shrill lavender is what kills me about the typical masculine scents. Same as the strong laundry musk, cotton candy, mutant acrylic florals of their feminine counterparts.

    Your list includes so many of my favorites, whether on me or on him. February 7, 2012 at 10:14am Reply

    • Brian: My god, I agree! An I’m a guy! I can’t stand most men’s perfumes nowadays. I guess it’s the fougeres I don’t really like. That uber-synthetic lavender/citrus/green I find either really harsh or really unappealing depending on the fragrance. Cheap smelling and overused as well. I’m torn about marines;I used to really love them, they were my go-to summer scent,(orientals for fall and winter), but I got sick of them, and basically I’m an oriental and woody guy through and through. I’ve run into some stuff online about guys wearing Opium, and I’ve always loved Opium, but never worn it. So now I’m considering…. June 8, 2012 at 10:46am Reply

      • Brian: Oh, I forgot to add; I love Luca Turin’s description of most modern men’s scents: Like a mixture of detergent and rubbing alcohol! 😀 So true! I used to wear Drakkar Noir in high school and early college years, well, TRY to wear it because it always ending up smelling skunky on me! June 8, 2012 at 10:50am Reply

      • Victoria: Brian, definitely give it a try! The new Opium reissue is even less sweet than the original, and it would be perfect on a guy. June 8, 2012 at 11:37am Reply

  • Victoria: Haven’t tried Lorenzo Villoresi Sandalo yet. Is it a creamy sandalwood or a sharp one?
    L’Eau du Navigateur is quite virile, but the combination of woods and coffee is so good. Too bad that it got axed. February 7, 2012 at 10:15am Reply

  • Victoria: Habit Rouge is really a few steps away from Shalimar. I recommend it to those who find Shalimar too languorous and heavy. It is drier and more herbal. A wonderful fragrance!

    Adding Amber and Lavender to my list. I’ve smelled it, but it was a while ago. February 7, 2012 at 10:20am Reply

    • Mel: Someone re-gifted me a bottle of JM’s Amber and Lavender a few years ago and my first thought was, “who can I give this to?” But then, I persisted w/ it and when I had used it all up, I saved the bottle, storing it in a cabinet w/ my grandmother’s china. Every now and then I’ll steal a quick whiff and remember how close I came to dismissing it. Scary. A&L is probably even more perfect as a home fragrance. I’m making a mental post-it note to score the candle (if they make one) in the very near future. September 26, 2013 at 5:43pm Reply

      • Victoria: There is something retro about Amber and Lavender. It’s not a complicated perfume, but it’s so interesting. September 26, 2013 at 6:34pm Reply

  • maggiecat: I bought Jo Malone Vetiver for my husband, and he wears it sometimes – but just as often I spray it on the sheets or on myself, especially in summer. Ditto the Amber Lavender, except he won’t wear that one at all and I will, happily. February 7, 2012 at 10:29am Reply

  • OperaFan: One story about Jicky (there are so many!) said that it was originally marketed to men but women liked it so much that it ended up being marketed to women. I know that the first time I smelled Jicky I was confused that it was supposed to be a woman’s fragrance, knowing nothing about the “fougere” category. It (the edt of 10+ years ago anyway) now resides comfortably among my top 10.

    I occassionally wear Eau Sauvage, L’Air du Desert Marocain, Declaration, and love AG Eau de Monsieur and Sables. Also looking forward to trying Caron’s Le Troisiemme Homme and would love to know your take on the current formulation.

    Great post, V. Enjoy reading your reflections on this subject. February 7, 2012 at 10:39am Reply

  • Patty: Lavender generally turns me off, not because I identify it as masculine, but because I wore too much Yardley English Lavender as a teen! It bores me to death now. However, I like Kouros – it’s just so dirty, and I never noticed the lavender. Guerlain Vetiver is a new discovery for me; I couldn’t have identified a vetiver note before, but really enjoy this one. February 7, 2012 at 10:41am Reply

  • frank masso: It’s amazing how many fragrances are made for him but stolen by her! And vice versa. I am a man but love chaos by donna Karan. I can even get away with Chanel no. 19 or many of the Christian Dior fragrances. My favorite is clove Christian no. 1. I love mixing the male and female versions. February 7, 2012 at 10:54am Reply

  • zazie: Fougères don’t feel blend with my skin, but there are several masculine fragrances I love.
    Above all, the superb New York by PdN. A citrus chypre so incredibly lush and satisfying.
    It is not Mitsouko, but in the event, also Mitsouko is not Mitsouko (anymore). February 7, 2012 at 11:14am Reply

  • Dionne: Ahhh, I love the smell of Polo, but could never wear it. For me, it’s the scent memory of my high school boyfriend. My 16yo has gotten into perfume because of me (LADDM smells on him), but I forbid him to try Polo. “Sorry son, but that would just be waaaay too weird for your mom.”

    I haven’t tried a lot of men’s fragrances, but Eau Sauvage, Grey Flannel, Encre Noire, Terre d’Hermes and Dior Homme have gotten skin time, and I can see myself eventually getting a bottle of Dior Homme. It’s weird I haven’t sought out more mainstream male woody scents, since woods/incense/spices work so nicely on my skin. I suppose my excuse is that I’ve been focusing on the nongendered niche stuff. February 7, 2012 at 11:18am Reply

  • Suzanna: What a wonderful post, V! I enjoyed it tremendously. I do not like wearing men’s fragrances, finding in most (esp. the commercial ones) a roughness and heightened aroma-arousal similar to Irish Spring soap and the Marlboro Man. However, that said, is there a softer lavender than Caron Pour Un Homme? And Terre d’Hermes, mentioned by a few women above, mutes its minerals and woods with a cool forest stream into one the most organic-smelling of the men’s counter.

    Idole du Lubin, as sharp as it is, is tremendously appealing when wearing strong lines or wanting to be intellectually acute.

    The vanillic Givenchy Pi is another–this is vanilla melded with gold foil and it is a dream. February 7, 2012 at 11:20am Reply

  • Dee: I love crossing the aisle!

    As a teen, I doused myself through multiple bottles of RL Polo Sport, and as an adult, I frequently indulge in scents marketed towards me:
    Dior Homme, Chanel Egoiste, Terre d’Hermes, Gray Flannel, Pd’E Fougere Bengale, Yohji Homme, Ormonde Man (which I love as much as Woman), Amouage Opus II & IV, Caron Yatagan… And I’m pretty sure I’d love Caron Pour un Homme, but haven’t tried it yet 🙂

    Great post V! And, by the way, I really dig the new blog format 🙂 February 7, 2012 at 11:35am Reply

  • Dee: Marketed toward MEN, excuse that silly typo! Lol. February 7, 2012 at 11:36am Reply

  • Tracy: some fragrances just smell better on men… they are different, some would say another species from women.  Wonder what the chemical differences are between the sexes? February 7, 2012 at 11:57am Reply

  • Anne: Oh do let me know what you feel about AMBER and LAVENDER from Jo malone. I would love to know what the expert says about this one!
    I find it’s very elegant, and sharp! And yet comforting and reassuring. Without strangling you. It s a LBD and a Gala somewhere in NY.
    XOXOXOXO You are fabulous Victoria. February 7, 2012 at 12:37pm Reply

  • MJ: Hi Victoria,
    Thank you for this post. A great conversation starter. My husband must hide his Terre de Hermes from me. When I was a child I remember a an elegant Aunt wearing one of Estee Lauder’s men’s frangrances in the 70’s perhaps. Not Aramis, but for the life of me I cannot remember the fragrance. Wracking brain now. Can anyone help? The fragrance was light and dry?? February 7, 2012 at 1:45pm Reply

  • Victoria: There was Lauder for Men, Metropolis, but they are from the 1980s.
    Oh, and there was Devin from 1977, an opulent green composition. Does it sound familiar? February 7, 2012 at 1:56pm Reply

  • Victoria: Hormonal changes do affect the skin chemistry in women too. That’s actually an interesting topic. February 7, 2012 at 1:58pm Reply

  • Victoria: A light vetiver is so perfect in the summer. I sometimes even soak vetiver roots in some cold water as a nice refreshment.
    Instantly rejuvenating! February 7, 2012 at 2:02pm Reply

  • Victoria: I had the exact same reaction the first time I’ve smelled Jicky. It grew on me with time, and I’ve even worn its other cousin, Mouchoir de Monsieur, which is even herbal.

    Le Troisiemme Homme still smells very good. Some changes here and there, but it’s still great. February 7, 2012 at 2:05pm Reply

  • Victoria: Guerlain Vetiver is one of my favorite vetivers. It smells so elegant and handsome. February 7, 2012 at 2:07pm Reply

  • Victoria: One of my male friends wears No 19 and Mitsouko, and he smells great. These are not overly floral or overly sweet fragrances. Plus, a quality like that of Chanel No 19 is hard to find in most masculine releases today (and in feminine ones too, for that matter!) February 7, 2012 at 2:09pm Reply

  • Victoria: So true, very few things are the same as what they used to be.
    Parfums de Nicolai New York is so good. I’ve just sprayed some on a blotter to enjoy a whiff. February 7, 2012 at 2:11pm Reply

  • Victoria: I could never wear Fahrenheit, even though I love it. It just reminds me of a friend very much.
    Another fougere I liked was Lanvin Arpege Pour Homme. It had a great iris-violet note in its heart. Unfortunately, it got discontinued. February 7, 2012 at 2:14pm Reply

  • Victoria: >>a roughness and heightened aroma-arousal similar to Irish Spring soap and the Marlboro Man

    The cliches make anything boring, especially when so many perfumes play it safe.

    You’ve reminded me of another interesting perfume, Givenchy Pi. I think that it did better in Europe than here, but it’s still around, so that’s already something. February 7, 2012 at 2:20pm Reply

    • Ekaterina: I’ve bought huuge bottle of Givenchy Pi for my boyfriend long time ago, it was just so sexy! Sadly I can not find it anymore 🙁 It was his signature scent chosen by me 🙂 January 6, 2013 at 10:23am Reply

      • Alvin: Givenchy Pi is still in production, it’s strange that you can’t find it. Why don’t you try the big retailers or online stores? December 24, 2014 at 9:59pm Reply

  • Victoria: LOL! They are marketed to you. 🙂
    I also wear Ormonde Man much more often than Ormonde Woman. I love its rich woody-balsamic drydown. It makes me want to sniff my wrists obsessively.

    Thank you, glad that you like it! February 7, 2012 at 2:21pm Reply

  • Annemarie: Thank you for this subject! I think that what we associate with ‘for men’ or ‘for women’ is mainly an outcome of a lifelong learning process. What Marlene Dietrich is wearing on the picture, we recognize it immediately as ‘for men’. But just look at her, it suits her so well, she looks great in it. Fragrances themselves are genderless (lavender is masculine, why?) but we recognize the typical lavender/citrus fragrance as masculine. Very interesting that in other parts of the world people have different associations and probably learned to make different connections between men, women and fragrances. Like colors have completely different associations around the world – for us black is the color of mourning but in other culture it is white.
    For me Tourmaline Noire of Olivier Durbano was a big discovery. It is offically unisex but for my nose it is quite masculine, very smoky and dark. But I love to smell it and, as you described it so well, it feels like part of my natural aura. February 7, 2012 at 2:29pm Reply

  • Victoria: These cultural and social details make this topic very interesting to me. Drakkar Noir is used mostly by men, so when a woman wears it, she might send out a particular message. When I was learning Drakkar Noir, I was literally soaked in it, I could not escape it even if I wanted to. It was interesting to observe how people would react. I need to dig out my notes, because I even took down some of these comments. Some of them were hilarious.  February 7, 2012 at 2:40pm Reply

  • MJ: Victoria,
    MJ here. It was Devin!! Thanks for remembering. Very green. A contemporary of Aliage and Private Collection. I looked it up and found it was developed by Bernart Chant. Is it true he also did Aromatics Elixir? February 7, 2012 at 4:50pm Reply

  • Rose D: Unusual but interesting post!

    I have a complicated relationship with YSL Kouros. My father used to wear it in the 80s, until my mother grew tired of it and he hid it on the back of their dressing table. Maybe that is the reason why I will never wear it myself.

    There are many other masculine fragrances I adore, just not on me: Guerlain Vetiver and Linstant (funny enough, I am not fond of the last one´s female version), Givenchy Pi, and even Chanel Anteaus (only in small doses and not too often).

    Actually, the only masculine scent I own is Dior Homme (the original Homme, the Sport version is simply too “sporty” for me. I fell in love with it after receiving a sample at the Dior counter. I got many compliments the first time I wore it. I never told anyone its name (or its gender for that purpose) I only said it was an iris-based Dior whose name I did not remembe. Nobody thought it was masculine. My mother even described it as “very floral”. Right after this, I bought a 100 ml bottle. 😉 February 7, 2012 at 6:08pm Reply

  • Rose D: So it actually happens! I have noticed this on myself when wearing Coco Mademoiselle. February 7, 2012 at 6:11pm Reply

  • Victor: Our ideas about what are the appropriate forms of gender expression including scents are culturally conditioned, we know this because they change over time and from one culture to another as was alluded to by the Indian gentleman referred to in the post, different culture different set of gender expectations. Regarding cross-scenting, as a young man I emulated my heroes who happened to be rock stars. When I heard that Keith Richards wore Joy I had to do the same and have recieved many compliments from men and women alike. It is a beautiful scent on any one. I still love it. February 7, 2012 at 6:46pm Reply

  • Erin T: I’d say just under a third of my collection is for men. They might get even more skin time than 33%, too, because they include some of my favorite scents for regular wear: Dior Eau Noire, Nicolai Pour Homme, Donna Karan Fuel for Men, Caron No. 3 / Third Man (admittedly not your most burly and virile masculine scent) and Pour Un Homme, AG Eau de Monsieur, vintage Dior Fahrenheit, Monsieur de Givenchy and Chanel Egoiste.

    Funny thing about Korous: I own it and do wear it, and tend to think that scents of this type smell so hairy-chested and macho that they smell kind of ridiculous on men. As fabulous as they are, nobody could possibly wear this type of fragrance without a sense of irony, and then who better than a woman? February 7, 2012 at 7:05pm Reply

  • A Facebook User: Sometimes a girl just has to wear a boy’s fragrance. Sometimes entire weeks go by where every bottle I reach for is a masculine. Among my favorites is Halston Z-14, Versace The Dreamer, Caron pour un Homme, Yatagan, Encre Noire, Davidoff Zino and Dior Homme. There is something so satisfyingly direct and clean about all these fragrances to me, they help clear my head in the morning when I am preparing for work and the day. February 7, 2012 at 7:19pm Reply

  • Perfumista8: I happened upon a bottle of Arpege pour Homme at TJ Maxx sometime ago and I was so happy. My husband wears it so well – now you’ve got me thinking I should steel a spray or two. February 7, 2012 at 7:23pm Reply

  • Victoria: It is so polished. I love iris and violet notes, so it was an immediate love for me. February 7, 2012 at 8:24pm Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, that’s right. He created a lot of fragrance for Lauder in that period. Aromatics Elixir was his also. February 7, 2012 at 8:25pm Reply

  • Victoria: I also wear Dior Homme and nobody has ever guessed that it was a masculine scent. Lots of compliments on it! February 7, 2012 at 8:26pm Reply

  • Anne: Sometimes a feminie fragrance is sexy on a man just like makeup is sexy on some men… I think, anyway. I wear men’s fragrance all the time but I would feel self-conscious if I think it’s too butch! February 7, 2012 at 8:33pm Reply

  • Victoria: How I would love to smell Joy on more men!
    The gender division in perfume is cultural, and then it is also reinforced by the marketing. Aramis and Cabochard are almost interchangeable, for instance. Nobody would peg Cabochard as a typically feminine perfume. February 7, 2012 at 8:33pm Reply

  • Victoria: Cannot agree more! 🙂
    The other day I passed by a man who was wearing Angel. It smelled so good on him. And the other day I persuaded Barney of Fragrant Moments to try Womanity. It was so good on him and not at all feminine or strange. It was delicious and salty-sweet. February 7, 2012 at 8:35pm Reply

  • Victoria: I love Lalique fragrance, but Encre Noire is my top favorite from the collection. Such a beautiful dark vetiver. February 7, 2012 at 8:37pm Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, you have to feel comfortable, first and foremost. And sometimes I find that I am more self-conscious wearing overly sugary and sweet perfumes. Not sure why, but I guess that my sweet tooth is mostly for the desserts. 🙂 February 7, 2012 at 8:39pm Reply

  • Olga: Interesting, there must be something in the air, I have just finished my own take on the same topic! February 7, 2012 at 8:54pm Reply

  • Victoria: Great! I would love to read it. February 7, 2012 at 10:47pm Reply

  • Georgette: Love, love love Yatagan on my skin and also Joop Homme, though I don’t care for the feminine version. February 7, 2012 at 11:11pm Reply

  • Annette: I’ve been wearing Caswell-Massey’s “Tricorn” for well over 30 years. It’s a beautiful sandalwood blend and I have always gotten compliments. I layer it with Caswell-Massey’s plain Sandalwood body lotion and shower gel. It’s absolute heaven. February 7, 2012 at 11:47pm Reply

  • Katherine: I am ALWAYS the only woman spritzing myself at the men’s frag section of Sephora, and I’m proud of it! The SA’s always look at me funny when I tell them that I’m looking for a perfume for me. But It just so happens that a lot of what is in a perfume marketed to men is what I like. I guess I think of it as cross-dressing for the nose. It makes me feel sexy, powerful, and ready to take on the world.

    One of my favorite girly man scents is Etat libre d’Orange’s Antiheros. It’s not the most complicated perfume, but the lavender really sings. February 7, 2012 at 11:56pm Reply

  • K.G.: I love to wear Eau Sauvage, Bois d’Argent, Dior Homme… Guerlain’s Vetiver & H. Rouge, Chanel Pour Monsieur, Hermes Eau d’Orange Verte, Infusion d’Homme by Prada…..i like to wear a little bit of Fendi Uomo in cold weather.

    I started wearing “men’s” fragrances by sampling & borrowing my dad’s. In high school, I bought Pour Monsieur as a gift for my brother who never wore any scent( & the PM bottle just sat there in a drawer unsprayed for years…maddening I tell ya. lolz). I kept pestering him about it & finally he said I could have it. yay! heheh February 8, 2012 at 4:51am Reply

  • Andy: I find florals essential to my collection. They are soothing and comforting to me, and I can’t imagine how boring it would be if I stuck just to the “men’s” fragrances. Going off of your example, I also love A La Nuit. Jasmine is one of my favorite florals, and anything that features a good, clear soliflore note is great (I don’t like complex floral “bouquets” in fragrances I use). February 8, 2012 at 6:40am Reply

  • Maja: Wait, Eau d’Orange Verte is for men?! 😉 That’s another one I adore! February 8, 2012 at 9:14am Reply

  • September Gurl: Pulling together the themes of your least three posts, I have a sample of Sartorial at work that I will occasionally wear (on days I don’t have to taste wine) to lift my spirits. The perfume store I patronize doesn’t segregate scents by gender. When I tried Sartorial, I had no idea it was a “masculine” fragrance. I simply loved it and wanted to wear it. This has happened before, so I accept my wearing of masculine fragrance as something I do. So many “feminine” scents as of late are too sweet and candied for my taste. February 8, 2012 at 11:30am Reply

  • Victoria: I also prefer Joop Homme to its feminine version, which is very bland. February 8, 2012 at 12:14pm Reply

  • Victoria: Sounds wonderful! I have to try this combination. February 8, 2012 at 12:14pm Reply

  • Victoria: When I started spraying Polo, one of the SAs rushed to me saying, “No, no, it is for men!” February 8, 2012 at 12:15pm Reply

  • Victoria: I got Pour Monsieur as a gift, and I loved it so much that I ended up keeping it for myself and then buying another bottle. It is such a brilliant chypre composition. February 8, 2012 at 12:17pm Reply

  • Victoria: I believe that it was originally marketed to men. I agree, it is so good! February 8, 2012 at 12:17pm Reply

  • Victoria: Jasmine and other floral notes are used in masculine fragrances, but it is always a revelation to find how great a floral dominated perfume can smell on a guy. And you are right, it would be boring just to stick to one type of perfume. Sometimes, crossing the perfume gender line can make for the most interesting of discoveries. February 8, 2012 at 12:19pm Reply

  • Victoria: That’s my main gripe with popular feminine launches, they are just too sweet for my taste. I would rather wear Chanel Egoiste and Dior Homme than Miss Dior Cherie and Chance. February 8, 2012 at 12:21pm Reply

  • K.G.: There’s something reeeeeeally addictive about Chanel PM…I only wish there was a drink that smelled/tasted similar! LOL! February 8, 2012 at 2:33pm Reply

  • Eva S: I own several masculines, I think because I’m fond of woody, non-sweet scents. I own full bottles of Terre d’Hermes, Guerlain Vetivier and Fleur du Male (which have gained me compliments!) and OJ Man is a favorite. Noone has ever commented and said I smell masculine! February 8, 2012 at 3:53pm Reply

  • Victoria: All of you are fabulous and you make my day. 🙂 February 8, 2012 at 4:54pm Reply

  • Victoria: Oh, that’s possible to do! I have some basic PM ingredients on hand. I should experiment. February 8, 2012 at 4:55pm Reply

  • Victoria: All of your favorites are definitely in that fantastic group of woody, elegant and polished fragrances. Nobody has ever guessed that Vetiver was meant for men when I wore it. It just smells so good and different from typical sweet scents intended for women. February 8, 2012 at 4:56pm Reply

  • Olga: It should appear on cafleurebon this week.
    I’ve been thinking and writing about it some time this Winter — the male-marketed perfumes I know and love. I’ll share the link as soon as it’s live on air 🙂 February 8, 2012 at 6:18pm Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: I used to spritz Polo around my dorm room because I went to an all-women’s college and I wanted some sort of masculine energy in the air, and it reminded me of the guy I was in love with, but that’s a psychosis best left unexplored.Does anyone remember unisex 90’s scents like CK one and CK Be? (the latter was sandalwood).Lots of preppie girls wore a citrusy men’s scent from Dior that I can’t remember now- bad associations! I think it’s sexy when someone thinks outside the perfume box! February 9, 2012 at 5:06pm Reply

  • hamletta: I know I’m way late to the party, but I like Paul Sebastian. August 12, 2012 at 3:51pm Reply

  • Robin: I love lots of masculine perfumes.
    Some longtime favorites:
    Chanel Pour Monsieur
    Chanel Egoiste – definitely a sweetish feminine rose/floriental
    Givenchy Pi – sweet vanilla, not masculine at all!
    Obsession for Men – great musky scent, sweet as well
    Gucci Envy for Men – far superior (and not at all similar to) Gucci Envy for Women – this one is a spicy oriental

    Lately, I’ve been experimenting with Cartier Santos – very easy to wear sweetish spicy oriental
    Chanel Anteus – wearable leather scent, not too strong
    Michael Kors for Men – another wearable soft oriental

    Lately, I find I prefer the men’s scents almost more than the women’s scents! September 4, 2012 at 1:04pm Reply

  • Jennifer: I love Bulgari Black, which was in the men’s section at Sephora and at the discount shop where I bought it. I’ve been wearing samples of Idole de Lubin edt and L’Air du Desert Marocain, and I really like both of them. I didn’t even think of them as masculine, really. October 30, 2012 at 7:54pm Reply

  • Iain: Wonderful blog, Victoria. I have been collecting for about ten years and am only now discovering how much there is to learn and know; it’s truly humbling to see how passionate you and the other perfume bloggers are about this beautiful art.

    I’m really quite gender-blind and would say that most of my own collection is feminine (and I’m a chap), with a few awesome masculines – Amouage Lyric, Lalique’s Encre Noire and Tauer’s L’Air de Desert Marocain to name but three. December 13, 2012 at 10:48am Reply

  • Jennifer G: I stole my husband’s Dior Fahrenheit. Used with extreme, really extreme, restraint, I find that it settles beautifully on my skin within an hour and then stays in lovely linear limbo until… Well, until. I swear it’s the closest fragrance I’ve encountered whose longevity approaches infinity, even on my bafflingly black-hole fragrance-vacuum skin cells. February 4, 2013 at 9:50pm Reply

  • Bob: My taste might be in my (male) boots, but I really like Pino Silvestre Aftershave. Definitely cheap and cheerful, but can anyone recommend something better in the pine register with more class?
    Thanks. February 11, 2013 at 8:46pm Reply

  • Courant: Today I layered Bvlgari Black and Givenchy Pi. The Black was in my collection and the Pi was in his cabinet. It works..I think.
    Neither of us could wear Yatagan even though we fell in love over Devin in the late seventies. My husband has always worked around machinery and had a habit of over compensating with fragrance in the evenings after he showered. I loved Devin and it rubbed off on me. How I could not tell you. May 22, 2013 at 3:31am Reply

  • Nancy: I fell in love with Grey Flannel as a kid; it was the beginning of my obsession with violet scents. I love a lot of the woodsy/resinous scents marketed to men, too, and wear them easily as they tend to go sweeter on my skin. August 26, 2014 at 2:28am Reply

    • Victoria: It smells terrific on both men and women, proving that many of these gender divisions are arbitrary. August 26, 2014 at 8:44am Reply

  • Farnas: What do you think about Cool Water? March 20, 2015 at 5:13pm Reply

  • m. matthew: I live in the Arabian Gulf where there are lots of local perfumeries which sell attars, oudh, bakhoors and even so-called “European blend” eau de parfums.

    I also happen to be the kind of person who wears perfume primarily to change or lift my moods.

    Anyway, what I found is that, although this part of the world has an Islamic cultural base which defines male and female social roles quite clearly, there seems to be “olfactory gender neutrality” when it comes buying fragrances from such Arabian perfume shops (as opposed to cosmetic or department stores in large malls).

    One can’t even call it olfactory “cross-dressing” because it seems that, like gender identity in Occidental societies, human body chemistry and the human nose aren’t classified as “binary” within this region’s perfume culture.

    So, for the heck of it, I decided one day to buy an eau de parfum called Hatkora* Wood, even though I usually veer towards anything containing white musk.
    (*Hatkora is a citrus fruit from northeastern India.)

    Everyone around me at work – men and women – loved its warm smell. I also found that its sillage is unlike anything that I’d get in department store’s perfume hall.

    I am pleased with the result of my experiment, but I don’t know if I’ll be brave enough to do it again. May 5, 2015 at 2:26am Reply

    • Victoria: I found your observations really interesting. You also neatly highlight that the whole division of feminine and masculine scents is nothing more than marketing (and cultural, of course). But as a cultural practice, it’s also fairly recent. Places where perfume has a long and venerable history such as the Middle East and India lack this kind of his vs hers division when it comes to scents. May 5, 2015 at 1:46pm Reply

  • Kurwenal: Very interesting site, so full of information and personal insights. Much to read here. As a male, cigar & pipe smoker, I am very aware of scents but have always found it problematic to find a a good male scent / perfume; too many have an instant hit which fades to unpleasant or different tones. I can only liken to blended whisky rather than pure malts : all name and label with little personality in the mix. May 30, 2015 at 12:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: What have you tried so far? Perhaps, we can offer you some interesting suggestions? May 31, 2015 at 11:38am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Ha, another cigarsmoker (and Wagner fan, I guess).
    You could try Bandit (Piguet). May 30, 2015 at 4:38pm Reply

  • Maharani: This was an interesting read. I am a woman, and I received the most emphatic compliment recently from a young man when I was wearing Habit Rouge. I don’t know whether it was because he loved it or because a woman was wearing it. I think it was new to him, for one thing. I also love Vetiver by Guerlain. But I happen to be South Indian, and for South Indians, vetiver is “our” perfume, loved by men and women alike, and there’s no gender division where perfume is concerned. I like Antaeus and I adore Chanel Cuir de Russie. I also wear Bandit, and I would love to try Knize Ten. June 24, 2019 at 8:55pm Reply

  • Hugh: The part about men wearing rose scents immediately made me think of Guerlain’s Habit Rouge, a distinctly rosey orange and benzoin perfume which is actively marketed as a masculine scent.

    It is indeed a seductive and nighttime oriented scent which is made provocative by its red flowers (most remarkably the roses). January 6, 2022 at 7:03am Reply

What do you think?

Latest Comments

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2024 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy