Friday, June 10, 2011

Father's Day Guide: Masculine Fragrance Recs for the First Guy in Your Life

With Father's Day around the corner, we're rethinking our fragrant gifts, opting for elegance, quiet sophistication and a sense of fun. Why shouldn't dads share in our appreciation of smelling good? After all, as we were growing up, they formed our perception of how males should smell like (I know it happened to me). With that in mind, here's a brief guide of fragrance suggestions for dads and beyond by Perfume Shrine: By no means conclusive, and pliable to inspire classical-leaning boyfriends and adventurous daughters, stealing a spritz or two in a gender-bender game, like when they were little ones.

  • For the Traditional Dad
Hermès Equipage 
It's hard to do a more elegant, more traditionally classical composition than this fragrance, originally created by legendary perfumer Guy Robert for Hermès in 1970. A scent of single-malt scotch; rich, warm, with a pungent leathery undercurrent, yet never heavy, it speaks of a lost kind of elegance. Even the modern, reformulated version by Jean Claude Ellena is excellent.  

Aqua di Parma Colonia Assoluta Eau de Cologne
Fresh, sensual and vibrant, Colonia Assoluta comprises crisp notes of hesperidia (Sicilian bitter orange, bergamot and sweet orange) with warmer spicy notes of cardamom, pink peppercorns and paprika, resulting in a hearty, sunny melange that feels reassuringly graceful and dependable.
  • For the Trend-Savvy Dad
Dior Homme 
Never mind it's everywhere, this is one of the most interesting masculine releases of the last decade, because it brings a most unusual iris root note, halfway between face powder and dusty dried flowers, into an otherwise masculine formula.

Le Labo Santal33 
Santal 33, a butch, ruggedly woody scent from a hip brand, develops in roughly two main stages, not wildly opposed: The opening is full of the roughened up dry woodiness, as much due to Australian sandalwood as to cedarwood and its synth conspirators, with that characteristic duet which makes its appearence in masculine perfumery to great aplomb. Cardamom makes a welcome respite, although nowhere as prominent as in Cartier's Déclaration. The woods are fanned on copious amounts of ionones from the violet & iris "note" listed. The latter stage includes an amplifying of the ambery-woody tonalities due to the marked presence of Ambrox. As trendy as it gets and very "macho".

  • For the Outdoors-Loving Dad
DSquared2 He Wood
Wood is by nature a solid and reassuring substance, but also aromatic reminiscence, personal refuge, vibrant sensation... The creative duo behind fashion brand DSquared2, Dean and Dan, were inspired by their native place, Canada, and designed the bottle of He Wood to be framed by Canadian Red Alder. The scent is among the nicer woody fougères* to come out in recent seasons, cool and warm at the same time.

Annick Goutal Eau de Sud
Less well-known than Eau d'Hadrien, but with a mossier, more dusky feel, it evokes summers in Provence and Tuscany: the freshness of the breeze coming from the groves, the mist of summer sprays and the aromatic herbs off the garden and the warmth of the sun. Citrusy on top but with a peppery middle due to basil Eau de Sud (Water of the South) dries to a mossy-patchouli-leafy scent that lasts rather long.
  • For the Sophisticated Dad
Chanel Sycomore
Chanel is synonymous with style and restrained elegance. Sycomore is perhaps its most graceful specimen in their boutique exclusive line Les Exclusifs. Sycomore emphasizes the aristocratic dryness of vetiver's humble origins with a tangy grapefruit opening and subtly cooling, clean muguet notes that complement the Haitian vetiver variety, also used in Guerlain Vétiver. Almost simultaneously it allows soft impressions of a warm incense cloud slowly setting upon evergreen needles, woodfire smoke and rooty dirt to uplift you into a wistful and introspective contemplation.

Amouage Epic Man 
Amouage Epic for Men is luxurious in every sense of the word: It recalls an old-fashioned leathery ~due to castoreum~ fougère* (a little reminiscent of Bel Ami or even Jules), with spicy accents and a light oud/aoud note throughout which is pleasing to me as the dense mustiness of oud usually leaves me with sensory overload unable to smell anything else. The spices, of the cool type, such as prominent cardamom, mace and nutmeg, meddle along with the tea note. The musky drydown phase of Epic Man is sprinkled with incense, in an interplay of animalic with more austere elements.

  • For the Cosmopolitan Dad
Caron Yuzu Man
Yuzu is named after a Japanese citrus fruit that is renowned for its clean and fresh aroma. It marries vitality with serenity and a feel good factor. In Caron's latest masculine, East meets West in a refined fragrance which also includes Indian verbena and Indonesian basil over the more green, oleaginous notes of Provencal fig and Spanish lentiscus (i.e.lentisque or mastic). The woody basenotes anchor Yin and Yang in this scent bathed in sunshine.

Guerlain Sous le Vent
Technically a chypre, yet poised between that and an aromatic fougère*, Sous le Vent bears no great relation to the mysterious guiles of Guerlain's Mitsouko but instead harkens back to the original inspiration behind it, Chypre de Coty, and another Guerlain thoroughbred ~Jicky. Sous le Vent starts with a rush of subtly medicinal top notes of herbs that smell like lavender, rosemary and tarragon, a full spectrum of Provençal aromata. A tart bergamot note along with what seems like bitterly green galbanum skyrocket the scent into the territory of freshness and a smart "clean". Its next stage encompasses dry accords, soon mollified by the heart chord of a classic chypre composition of dusty moss with sweet tonalities of generous flowers that evoke the banana fruit: ylang ylang notably and jasmine sambac. In the final stages I seem to perceive the dusky foliage of patchouli. Wonderful!

*Fougère is a classic olfactory family -mainly of masculine scents- that relies on a chord of lavender-coumarin-oakmoss

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Summer Fragrances that Last, Top 10 Memorable Masculine Scents


  1. These are excellent and thoughtful recommendations - Sous le Vent is unexpected and brilliant!

    I would add Eau Sauvage to this list - with one of the most brilliant drydowns I have ever smelled. ;)

  2. Eau Savage is great, but the drydown lasts about 10 minutes on me, and not much more when sprayed on fabric.

  3. Brian,

    thank you very much! Hope you're well.
    The only reason I didn't include Eau Sauvage is perhaps because it's such a classic, it's a bit expected. You're absolutely right that it is simply fabulous.

  4. Oh and isn't SLV wonderful? I thought it would be something so unusual to offer to a dad.

  5. Ndg,

    thanks for stopping by and commenting and welcome to the Shrine!
    I can see what you mean, if only because it's of the "light" school of thought. Then again, it's perfect while it lasts.

  6. Alexandra11:00

    My dad is traditional, cosmopolitan, trendy- you name it :-)
    I think I will buy him Dior Homme Intense! I love it!

  7. Sycomore is my dad's signature scent, one that I introduced him to! And I adore Sous le Vent, so much! I hadn't thought of trying it on the men in my life ... but now I will!

  8. Dear E.,

    Your choices are great, especially Sycomore & SLV! I'm also a big fan of Dior Homme. (But I read that changed it to a more masculine version - too bad.)
    Dads wearing those won't smell like everybody else as they are really sophisticated, timeless choices.

    I'd like to add TDC Sel de Vetiver, I think that would be a great scent for all dads longing for something a little different. It has a modern feel, but I can see it working very well on younger & older dads alike.

  9. Father's Day is what? /irony We don't do it here and I don't regret.

    My dad would do with a few gallons of the sadly discontinued Boss' Aqua in aftershave, cologne is available at every other discounters but not as. I'll have to go for a quest to find something he likes, being limited to the aftershave realm, and to citrusy nonsense.

  10. A man's scent of choice should smell like his personality. Most importantly choose a scent that scent that women seem to appreciate.


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