Women’s Fragrance for Men : Let’s Be Daring with Tuberose

As a counterpart to my article and video Three Men’s Fragrances for Women : Modern Classics, I would like to talk about women’s fragrances for men. In a way, this is a more complicated topic, because men’s fragrance styles are more conservative and limited than those intended for women. On the other hand, I’m constantly inspired by my readers here who experiment and wear different types of perfumes, and I wanted to offer a few words of encouragement to those who’d like to follow their lead.

First of all, if you like certain types of scents, disregard their gender classification. The one unexpected benefit of social distancing these days is that it gives you space to try something that you wouldn’t otherwise. Also, reconsider fragrance notes and their associations. The reason I selected tuberose for my example is because it can be adopted by anyone, men and women.

This might sound difficult to believe given how strongly tuberose is associated with feminine perfumery, but the essence has a complex aroma, blending rubbery, musky, creamy and fruity nuances. Depending on how it’s accented, tuberose can be more or less sweet, richer or lighter, greener or darker.

I mentioned Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower, Serge Lutens Tubéreuse Criminelle, and Diptyque Do Son in the video. Another important point is the way you apply the perfume. Light application doesn’t mean less of a sillage–it means a different type of aura. Do Son can act as a cologne if applied lightly; Carnal Flower reveals its greener facets. I encourage you to experiment.

Different types of florals like rose, lilac and hyacinth are even easier for a man to pull off, and I will cover them in other episodes.

As always, I’d love to hear about your fragrance experiments.

Images: Alain Delon, Saint-Tropez, August 1966 by Jean-Marie Périer. Flowers, Kateryna Bilokur, painting detail.

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37 Comments

  • Tourmaline: Dear Victoria,

    Thank you for another interesting post and video.

    Many years ago, a male colleague of mine, who usually wore Drakkar Noir, confessed that he sometimes dabbed on a little of his sister’s Loulou, which I think makes a great masculine, with its raspy edge.

    “Light application doesn’t mean less of a sillage”. Of course, this applies equally to fragrances marketed to women, and it’s good to know.

    I’m sure that my friend Peter will have a lot to say about today’s topic!

    With kind regards,
    Tourmaline October 9, 2020 at 7:45am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re right, the application is easy to experiment with whatever the fragrance. Loulou, by the way, smells different when applied lightly, more woody and musky. October 9, 2020 at 10:15am Reply

      • Tourmaline: I must experiment with Loulou, and others. Even though it is a spray, I can spray on one area, take some of that to dab on another area, and then compare. October 9, 2020 at 11:18pm Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, that would work well. Or spray it on a blotter or cotton and dab it on. October 11, 2020 at 8:13am Reply

    • Peter: Mahalo Victoria, for another video that breaks convention. Yes, Tourmaline’s friend is a tuberose lover. Carnal Flower is a favorite. I sampled Tubereuse Criminelle and I was very impressed. You describe the perfume perfectly. Saving up the pennies for that one.

      I have another tuberose recommendation for men: Atelier Cologne Cafe Tuberosa. The coffee notes and smokiness temper the rich floral. On a previous post, I mentioned that it reminded me of my lei-greeting days at the Honolulu International Airport. October 10, 2020 at 12:31am Reply

      • Tourmaline: I still need to sample Carnal Flower, Tubereuse Criminelle, and also Café Tuberosa. Perhaps I could wear the latter with a Le Smoking! Oh, and a black top hat! October 10, 2020 at 1:03am Reply

      • Victoria: Oh, thank you for reminding me of Cafe Tuberosa. It would be another great contender. October 11, 2020 at 8:14am Reply

  • MJB: This topic is close to my heart. I have always found most men’s fragrances overwhelming. Think of a suffocating morning elevator ride with a colleague drenched in Polo. For my husband I am grateful he found Terre d’Hermes, marketed to men, but as you stated last week, successful on women too. It is interesting that I love some women’s fragrances on my husband better than on me. I find Bvlgari Black sexy on my husband. Ditto Champaca Absolute. On one occasion the husband of a dear friend was so enamored by the scent of the Tam Dao I was wearing at dinner that I gave him my bottle. October 9, 2020 at 10:03am Reply

    • Victoria: Bulgari Black was such a great fragrance. It is reincarnated in Le Labo’s Patchouli 24, but the Bulgari version was the best. October 9, 2020 at 10:17am Reply

      • Silvermoon: I love Bulgaria Black from its box to the gorgeous tyre bottle to the actual perfume. I treasure my bottle and only wear it occasionally. So sad they discontinued it, but I imagine they weren’t selling enough. So, I was very intrigued to hear that you consider Le Labo Patchouli 24 a reincarnation. Will seek it out, but meanwhile, please could you say what is similar and what is different? October 9, 2020 at 3:50pm Reply

        • Peter: Hi Silvermoon. I also love and treasure my rubber tire bottle of Bulgari Black. Inventive scent and packaging. October 10, 2020 at 12:37am Reply

        • Victoria: It didn’t fit their portfolio, I think.
          Imagine a more diluted version of Black. October 11, 2020 at 8:13am Reply

        • noseknows: In the US, I’m still seeing it on a lot of discount sites and on Amazon. There may be a chance to stock up for back up or gifts.

          It’s still sad, though. October 25, 2020 at 4:40pm Reply

  • Damiana: Very intriguing topic! I have always liked the idea of floral scents for men and I am especially drawn to the idea of them wearing rose-based ones. Papillon Tobacco Rose and Diptyque Ôponé are examples of fragrances that might work very well. October 9, 2020 at 10:32am Reply

    • Victoria: Rose is actually another easy floral for men to wear, and it finds its way into a number of conventional men’s fragrances. Violet is another one. Of course, it’s a matter of dosage. October 9, 2020 at 10:34am Reply

  • Matty1649: Very interesting post. I’m interested in replies from men. October 9, 2020 at 11:30am Reply

    • Victoria: I enjoyed reading this thread! October 11, 2020 at 8:11am Reply

  • Nick: I wear Fracas, Truth or Dare, Ô de Lancôme, Covet, Eau de Gaga, Stash, Cabochard, Cabotine, Trésor, Casmir, Silences, Obsession for women, Mitsouko, Joy, Jicky, LouLou (especially layered with Grey Flannel, Black Orchid, Chanel No19, Ivoire, Une Amourette, Rien, Rossy de Palma (Eau de Protection), Seville à L’Aube, Voleur de Roses, Halston Catalyst amongst a whole slew of so called masculine and unisex Fragrances. I am a big, beefy 54 year old guy and I view a fragrance in terms of its smell not it’s marketing and it is liberating October 9, 2020 at 1:57pm Reply

    • Malmaison: Well I must say you have excellent taste! That is basically a long list of my own favorites 😊. October 9, 2020 at 4:33pm Reply

    • Klaas: Never better said! Way to go Nick! I love that you wear Fracas…… October 11, 2020 at 6:53am Reply

    • Victoria: Liberating is exactly it! Considering how arbitrary some of the gender designations are, it’s a shame not to experiment more. Plus, with perfume it’s easy–if you don’t like it, you can wash it off. October 11, 2020 at 8:12am Reply

  • Fitz Wong: I love and wear Diorella, No.19 edt and Parfum, Mitsouko Parfum, Cristalle edt, No.5 Parfum, Shalimar Pdt, Odalisque on a regular basis~~ October 10, 2020 at 12:59am Reply

    • Victoria: You smell great, that’s for sure! October 11, 2020 at 8:14am Reply

  • Ninon: Now where can I find a man with great taste in perfume who looks like Alain Delon? October 10, 2020 at 3:11am Reply

    • Victoria: This made me laugh. I’m sure you’re not the only one asking that question. 🙂 October 11, 2020 at 8:15am Reply

  • crystalwrists: One of the best florals for men is Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum. It is instantly recognizable as Paloma, but even with the aggressively “feminine” red lipstick ad campaign, it is great on men willing to make a commitment for a few hours. October 10, 2020 at 9:17am Reply

    • Klaas: Hahaha, I used to steal my mom’s Paloma Picasso, while she nicked my Eau Sauvage 😉

      Indeed, it smells EXCELLENT on guys! October 11, 2020 at 6:51am Reply

    • Victoria: I think that quite a few perfumes in that style make great masculines. October 11, 2020 at 8:15am Reply

  • Eric Harris: Tuberose is one of the few notes I really struggle with on myself. Only Tuberose Criminelle works well on my skin, and I just adore it. I do wonder if I would enjoy them more for their sillage rather than pressing my nose to skin. I can appreciate the beauty of Carnal Flower on a blotter….

    I just adore blooming tuberose though. I hope to try The Zoo NYC’s Organic Tuberose soon as that’s what Laudamiel based the fragrance on, rather than the absolute. October 10, 2020 at 3:48pm Reply

    • Victoria: Tuberose is not for everyone, that’s true. It’s a complex, challenging scent, and it can be hard to pull off. Its challenge, however, is what makes it so intriguing. October 11, 2020 at 8:16am Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: Apart from a toothache inducing sweet candyfloss-strawberry-vanillin thingy, please tell me which so called „pour femme“ perfume couldn’t be worn by a man? And why? Take Chanel‘s Bois des Iles, or Guerlain‘s Shalimar, Diptique‘s Mon parfum chérie par Camille, or Caron‘s Infini?
    In the years I spent visiting Catalonia (mid, end 1990‘s) most Spanish men wore powder blue, pastel pink or white shirts with their suits: yes, pink! And like Alain Delon, they were very chic, very sexy and devastatingly virile. Then some dictum said: pink for men is pouf; end of the story.
    It seems that niche perfumers cater „unisex“ fragrances to exclusive cognoscenti, yet the mass market sticks to the 50‘s idea that woods (aromachemicals) are for men and flowers (saccharine) for women? Good Lord, are we not beyond the nursery rhyme „What are little girls/boys made of“?
    Therefore, once again, Victoria, thanks for your post which was written with much, much more tolerance and style than my somewhat angry rant! October 10, 2020 at 4:24pm Reply

    • Victoria: Exactly! And pink wasn’t always a shade for girls and Barbie dolls. As a shade of red, it was perfectly acceptable for both men and women, and in some countries, military uniforms were pink. Anyway, the point is that these categorizations are culturally defined and ever changing. With perfume, there is no reason not to experiment. October 11, 2020 at 8:33am Reply

      • Tourmaline: To go off on a tangent, this has always been my rationale for wearing a combination that many people think should never be seen – pink with red (especially purply-pink with purply-red). Pink is just light red. Nobody questions wearing light blue with blue. October 12, 2020 at 12:10am Reply

    • Klaas: OnWings, you are so right! What’s with all that black, grey, navy blue, brown and beige boredom men are pushed over with these days? If it’s up to marketeers, we’ll be for ever stuck in grey suits and blue ties, sealed with a few spritzes of Tom Ford Grey Vetiver. On weekends we will be allowed faded jeans, white sneakers and a hoodie in some drab color…..

      Shalimar, pink shirts and silver shoes?? Of course, and let’s call it a revolution!! October 11, 2020 at 8:52am Reply

    • Silvermoon: I agree with Victoria, you and others here that one should wear whatever perfumes one loves/enjoys. As a woman, I find floral perfumes can be very appealing, even sexy, on men. I find men look fantastic in pink shirts, and find boring dull ties joyless to behold and a shameful waste. Sadly, however, I find that it is men themselves who often constrain and limit their choices. To be honest, I have never heard a woman complain about a man wearing a perfume with floral notes. Hence, it’s always great to see a “brave” man who wears (perfumes, colours) what he likes. Nick (I loved his list of preferred perfumes further up) and other men here seem to do a great job ignoring what others think and enjoys wearing what they like. October 11, 2020 at 3:57pm Reply

      • OnWingsofSaffron: Indeed! I live in Germany, and to my great dismay the majority of men and women wear dark coloured clothes, very often black. Same thing for cars: black, black, black; grey, grey, grey; the occasional white.
        My thoughts go out to the people in the car advertising scene: having to signal dynamics, adventure, modernity & spearhead cutting-edge and the only colour you‘re allowed to use to represent that is dark grey—„gravel vanguard“ perhaps? October 12, 2020 at 5:28am Reply

  • Fazal: Among these three, Carnal Flower may be the most desirable among perfumistas but my most favorite is Tubereuse Criminelle.

    I think of your mom’s story almost everytime I see a reference to Tubereuse Criminelle, the one you mentioned in your review that your mom was wearing it during one of those excursions and was stopped by a traffic cop who was quite moved by the fragrance. October 12, 2020 at 6:17pm Reply

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