Suzanna: 65 posts

Suzanna is a photographer and a publicist from Gainesville, Florida. She likes hiking, kayaking, swimming in the springs, and walking along the Atlantic coast beaches, where if you are lucky you will see a right whale. She also likes discovering "Old Florida,' the place that exists in mid-century tourist brochures and which will appear, Brigadoon-like, if you scratch the surface of the Sunshine State. Her favorite fashion item is a pair of Coach flip flops and she has become a connoisseur of a local gastronomic specialty: mullet dip. She stashes a red lipstick and a 10 ml decant of Mitsouko parfum in her camera bag.

Fragrances for Women That Work for Men

A two-part series by Suzanna on perfume gender bending:  Fragrances for Men That Work for Women.

My significant other and Charlie Chaplin have something in common, and it’s not that both are comedians.  The similarity is that both wear or wore Mitsouko, Guerlain’s legendary peachy, mossy chypre.  I must say my significant other wears Mitsouko with an elegant swagger that I—a Mitsouko lover—could never pull off.  And it’s not just Mitsouko that gets co-opted for the guy; it’s also Tan Rokka Aki, Chanel Cuir de Russie, and Donna Karan Black Cashmere that are likewise shared.


None of these fragrances is marketed to men; rather, they have always been on the distaff side.  However, tonally they seem closer to masculine scents than to feminine ones. They feature stronger uses of woods, spice, and leather than do traditional women’s scents, and while in some instances they might be sweeter or more floral than the usual masculine, they are only just over that line.  Here are some of my personal picks for scents that smell terrific on men without any prettifying.

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Charenton Macerations Christopher Street : Perfume Review


The first thing I noticed about Charenton Macerations Christopher Street was that it was a proper, old-school chypre (a perfume based on an intricate combination of citrusy, floral and mossy notes).  At  long last, I should add. It was composed by Ralf Schwieger, author of Lipstick Rose for Frédéric Malle and lately several fragrances for Atelier Cologne and Etat Libre d’Orange.


Charenton Macerations is a new indie brand created by fragrance consultant Douglas Bender, and Christopher Street is the debut perfume from this indie outfit. The notes of Christopher Street are supposed to give an olfactory picture of this New York neighborhood, and to that end one might want to read the brief as given on the Charenton Macerations Web site. Early on, Bender wished to “…combine classical floral elements with more subversive tones of metals, smoke, watered down alcohol, wet woods, clove, burnt coffee, and dark tea” that would represent, well, a lot of things having to do with the history of Christopher Street and its casts of characters.

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Fragrances for Men That Work for Women

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:

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Comme des Garcons Red Series Harissa : Perfume Review


Comme des Garçons Harissa is a quirky little citrus-spice scent from the imaginative Series 2: Red collection of fragrances themed around the color red as it is found in spices, woods, flowers, and fruits. The fragrance has its origins in harissa, the bright red condiment common to North African cuisines that contains red chili peppers, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, caraway, and cumin.  The condiment is used as a flavoring in stews and in couscous dishes.


Harissa the fragrance is not so much an olfactory recreation of the condiment as it is a nod to the idea of it.  It is a citrus scent based upon what marketing copy says is a “North African blood orange”, and additional touches include red chili pepper, angelica, saffron, nutmeg, cardamom, and tomato.  The fragrance is only mildly spicy despite the list of notes.

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Atelier Cologne Rose Anonyme : Perfume Review


I find endlessly fascinating the “stories” created around perfumes; the one concocted for Atelier Cologne Rose Anonyme is briefer than many but is still dramatic:  “She turned the dial until the safe opened, revealing the diamond. She had stolen jewels before, but none compared with this one. She left a single rose and the scent of her perfume in its place for him to find. In a moment she’d be halfway around the world and he would be in pursuit. The chase began again…”


More useful for someone wondering whether he or she might enjoy the fragrance is a sentence about “a breathtaking seductress caught in a stolen affair between light and dark.”  Forget the seductress and go right to the light and dark part.  This isn’t fiction.  Rose Anonyme contains mostly dark elements that can easily topple a less carefully considered fragrance. But it’s so smoothly blended that the perfume feels like something that one slides into rather than something one sprays on.

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