Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Father's Day Special: Top Fragrances for Dads

We tend to view mothers as the primary caregivers in the family (and they usually are), but the role of the father is perhaps even more pivotal taking things into the long shot: for little boys he's their superhero, their early model and their mischievous truant collaborator (and what greatest sharing is there but partaking in guilt?); for little girls he's their harbor, their prototype, the man who teaches them how to love men for the rest of their lives, their perennial confidence boost. A loving father goes a long way and simple things, like the memory of their aura, their warmth, their grooming routine in front of the mirror, is the fascination of many a wide-eyed child for a reason.

My own beloved father used to wear the original, leathery Trussardi Uomo fragrance in that black-croc dressed bottle that looked like a million bucks and smelled as solid as a Roman temple pillar. You could lean on this elegant man's graceful frame, physical and mental both, and his scent only served to ascertain that. His prolonged flirt with Xeryus (Givenchy) or Habit Rouge (Guerlain) and his love of citruses only revealed other facets of his artistic personality. Dad's fragrances, more than my mother's which were constant love affairs, became snapshots of certain periods in his life and they continue to fascinate me with their mercurial nature and the way he plays with them.

Fragrances easily available in department stores:

Caron Pour Un Homme: The trusty tryst of vanilla and lavender produced this classic of classics many moons ago (but still very relevant). Cuddly and freshly scrubbed at the same time, it was Serge Gainsbourg's favorite, a controversial dad if there ever was one.

Dior Homme: A fragrance that defies the odds and sets its own rules with a note of iris that feels like the coolness of body talc. For modern dads who appreciate subtlety, elegance, a hint of sweetness.

Aramis Aramis 900: The masculine equivalent of the ultra-mossy, forest-fresh Aromatics Elixir (Clinique) for women, it is nothing short but distinctive, powerful, enveloping, captivating.

Hermes Equipage: A more conservative choice for dyed in the wool classicists who know best. The pairing of the spicy carnation amidst warm citrus and deep, earthy notes makes for a fragrance to be noticed.

Hermes Terre d'Hermes: The best-selling cologne for men since its creation some years ago, it's up there for a reason. A flinty-earthy impression under the exhilarating scent of bergamot citrus, it's super fresh and at the same time super lasting.

Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche pour Homme: The classic grooming scent of the barbershop, all soap and cologne and inedible scents, becomes an interpretation for a contemporary man with an eye to detail.

Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb: A liquid confectionary, a sweet tobacco & rum fantasy fragrance for dads with a sweet tooth. Among the better masculine releases in the last few seasons.

A little harder to track, but very worthwhile:

Aqua di Parma Blue Mediterraneo Myrto di Panarea: A new take on luminosity, removed from the usual fern-like fragrance "notes" or of sea-evoking fragrances, it takes the unusual scent of the myrtle tree, poised between oleaginous and spicy fresh, to hint at a Mediterranean escapade. For easy-going, casual style dads.

Les Parfums de Rosine Rose d'Homme: When rose gets bastardized via deep, leafy notes of pungent patchouli the result is a surprising elegance that is all its own. A little daring.

Hermessence Poivre Samarkande (Hermes boutique & online exclusive): Freshness in the form of a peppery scent? Yes, indeed. The spiciness is bracing but refreshing at the same time, like a lightning in the sky bringing eagerly anticipated rain.

Chanel Les Exclusifs Sycomore (Chanel boutique & online exclusive): If you like the smell of vetiver root (an eastern grass with a potently cooling, green like freshly turned earth aroma) Sycomore is among its most beautiful representations, with a hint of smoke and a touch of cocoa dust. Even if your dad isn't that handsome to begin with, he will seem incredibly so when wearing this.

Penhaligon's Castile: Sometimes you want him to smell clean, you know? Like you're again a child nuzzling at your freshly showered dad's neck. Castile is based on orange blossom and imparts a soapy, lathered feeling.

Tauer Perfumes L'Air du Desert Marocain: Dads with an adventurous, hippy disposition will appreciate this orientalized, resinous, mystical fragrance based on ancient rites of incense. Sumptuous, dry and unlike anything else.

Guerlain Mouchoir de Monsieur: If you like the idea of Caron pour un Homme (a sweetish, cuddly lavender), but want to go more unusual, opt for this one. It has a background ambience constructed by a note that used to come from an animal source (but is now ethically recreated in the lab), namely civet, which gives a lived-in sexiness underneath the proper gentleman atop. It used to be the favorite scent of King Carlos of Spain, if that says anything.

Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Angeliques sous la Pluie: Cool, vibrant, melancholic sometimes, with a note of gin and tonic. A very refined choice for introspective dads who don't wear their hearts on their sleeves; he will say all he has to say through deeds.

Whatever you do this coming Father's Day, don't forget to honor the most important thing: his love for you and the love you have for him. And if you're further apart, it's never too late to forgive and forget and build those bridges anew.

Bonus (mental) points to anyone who recognizes the film stills in this post ;-)


  1. Anonymous16:48

    I love Geoff Tate's voice. I have not heard a Queensryche song in years! Bridge is a great song.

    You made me think of the guy that took us on a private tour after we had coffee with you that day. He was so excited that we were from the USA and that I like heavy metal music. He was singing Twisted Sister songs and Iron Maiden songs to me while driving us around. lol His enthusiasm was contagious. Music is so universal.

    Oh and I know the first 2 stills in your post...

    Paper Moon and Parenthood.

    Giving my dad UMBRA by Ramon Monegal for Father's Day. :)



  2. Great suggestions!

    Except, for me, Castile; I must be hypersensitive to some molecule there that gets on my nerves. After an exhilarating lemony opening, it turns soapy and shrill, increasingly annoying. While the best eaux de cologne entertain you for 5 minutes and then politely leave amid the applause, this one lingers on like an unwelcome guest.

    As for my dad, he used to wear whatever my mom gave, which I believe was mostly Drakkar Noir or Paco Rabanne pour homme. No perfume in recent years. And even a gift of Gold man shower gel seems to go unused, so I'm now concentrating on clothes as gifts for him.


  3. Anonymous21:05

    nice list! really great to see equipage on it. my personal long-time fave on men and on me.

    i'd also like to smell le troisieme homme de caron and chanel pour monsieur on more men. fathers or not. oh, and derby.

    first image is from paper moon. but i don't know the rest. like the one with the pool, though.


  4. D,

    my man (but also I do too) loves Queensryche and Tate's voice as well (and I have to listen to him doing that guttural deep baritone coming out of the shower ALL the time!!!) and Queensryche is actually a constant in our home. Bridge is indeed a great song, they have many really, though (so, casual readers, this is a not so subtle recommendation!)

    Haha on the guy, yeah, we do have our local fan club of hard rock and heavy metal all right; in fact I believe one of the highest percentages in Europe. Might have to do with the enthusiastic element.

    Anecdote, but worthwhile: the strangest thing I have ever seen in terms of music video-clips is Ian Gillan and one of our local singers/composers singing "I want to get away" with a background of island white-washed houses on the island of Kea. [http://youtu.be/QFwmjeh5b88 >>terrible quality but transferred from PAL video]

    Correct on the first two stills!!

    I always found Parenthood a very poignant and sweet movie. It rings true on many levels.

  5. D,

    forgot to say: what a fabulous gift!! May he enjoy it in good health.

  6. M,

    by the way forgot to thank you for the little something ;-) Will communicate more!

    Castile does have that prolonged, ultra-soapy thing that some orange blossom fragrances can have. It does have a decent dosage of clean musks too. I think it's the latter that is the culprit, perhaps if you eliminate musks from all your household products they won't hurt so much in fragrances (I know for many it's the overload that is at fault). Rings plausible?

    What a waste of good product!! I find nothing more vexing than someone not being able to share in a pleasure I find worthwhile. It's a let down I can't explain, but it is a let down all the same.

  7. C,

    trust you to zero on the French film in there !! (The piscine still is from Le Garcu by Maurice Piallat, which actually takes a less sugar-coated father-son relationship as a point of departure). Let's see if anyone finds what is the last one; it's non American, but should be doable.

    I was t-h-i-s close to include "Derby the Dashing", but I thought casual readers would land on the page and my delirious raptures would have them searching right and left for it and would make the mission even more difficult, so I finally talked myself out of it. It's up there among the very best, to be sure.

    I do wear Equipage myself too! In fact, it is only I that wears it in the house. I have vintage stuff and can't share it... (*lifts nose up and does nah-nah little dance*)

    Wish people in general partook in great fragrances though, it's such a bore when everyone wears the latest drone off the counter and they don't even know what and why they're wearing... :-(

  8. Oops, I believe the idiom is "zero in on something", no?
    My mistake.

  9. Thanks for the recommendations! I've tried Aromatics Elixir and now I need to try its brother. So I ordered a vintage mini on eBay.

  10. Anonymous20:21

    elena, i understood "zero on something," too. in fact, i didn't even notice the missing word! your replies are always so interesting, typos don't matter.

    the scene from the french film actually made me flash on france and think it could've been a scene from one of my childhood visits there - it looks so natural, like something that could've been going on a few yards away from you while you did your own thing.

    and, glad to hear you wear the equipage in the family! lovely scent!

    and, ugh, i am so tired of men wearing boring scents, too!!! i want to stop some of them in the street, drag them in to my perfume collection, and teach them a few things. if you're interesting-looking, i think you should smell interesting, too!!!


  11. Anonymous23:53

    Why on earth would you use an image of Ryan and Tatum for this post given the shall we say.... "fractured" relationship they have/had?

  12. C,

    awww, you flatter me :-)

    There's a sense of playfulness in that still, a balance just off, which probably is why I chose it; it reflects the balance which is off in the relationship (in my mind, not necessarily intended by the director). ;-)

    We should stop people on the street together and do that! :-D

  13. Anon,

    I know most people don't pay close enough attention to discern every nuance, due to time constraints (and perhaps not being in the mood to be psychic and read my thoughts either, LOL!), but ALL the film stills in this post are about fractured or on the mend relationships with fathers. And they're recommended viewing. (The last one even is from a film actually called "Broken")

    I thought it was a nice touch, to show how by "destruction" a firmer, more mature construction might arise (does this sound too Nietzschean?) Perhaps my thought was a lone wolf. :-)

  14. tqm,

    aramis classic and aramis 900 are very much recommended!


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