Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Christmas Gift Shopping part 3: Masculine Fragrances For All Styles

Opting for a fragrant gift for a man poses two major risks: The first is the man in question is not interested in scent, period. The bottle will collect dust on the bathroom shelf and he will only wear it once a year or so, to please you. Why gift him with fragrance then? Probably in order to induce him, through a very well judged choice, to open up and experiment a bit for both your sakes. It's a market fact that 75% of masculine fragrances are bought by women.

Another risk is the man in question is very much determined in what they like (or think they like) and your favorite is not necessarily his favorite. Excepting perfumistos who have an avid interest in fragrance all by themselves and are not opposed to a owning collection of colognes for all occasions and moods (a fragrance wardrobe), many men are somewhat "married" to their scent of choice. Diverting them might be a tall order, but replenishing them with the old bystander time and again feels like refueling the fridge with milk. Not sexy.

So, here are a few suggestions for festive season gifts for men, stemming from a personal curation of relied upon choices that might see you through most styles of fragrance wearing. [You can find more Christmas Gifts Shopping Guides consulting our link. ]

pic via oystermag

  • Stylish & Unconventional Chaps

Dior Homme: This out-of-the-box thinking on how a masculine fragrance should be (full of the flesh-meets-starch note of orris and a dusting of cocoa powder) has become a modern classic. It's still lovely and feels very to the minute, plus the austere bottle is luxuriously heavy and there are ancillary body products too. After Jude Law, now fronted in ads by Robert Pattison, subject of many a teen swooning. Available at major department stores.

Biehl Parfumkunstwerke GS03: This is a niche fragrance brand, meaning you will only find it at specialized boutiques or online (try luckyscent.com in the US or ausliebezumduft.com if in Europe, they also do samples for you to try before committing). But the plus is he won't be smelling like anyone else! A modern upbeat cologne, this diaphanous fresh aura will be buzzing around him for very long, but will never come across as intrusive. Soapy, lightly spicy with a hint of pink pepper and juniper, woody and sophisticated. Perfect!

  • Sensual, Hedonistic Scents 

Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb: Candied citrus over tobacco, amber and vanilla make for a rich, satisfying cologne that invites you to peel off layer after layer. Great for winter and will have those who smell it salivating for more. Available at major department stores.

Ramon Monegal Mon Patchouly: Some people hate patchouli, some people love it. It's such a distinctive material, no less because it's associated with the 1960s and hippies. But if he loves it,  oh how he will love Mon Patchouly by this niche Spanish brand that has infiltrated the United States last year. The warmest, plushest whiskey and rum evoking patchouli, darkish, with a chocolate underlay, it's good enough to imagine you're John Hamm for a day. Available at www.RamonMonegal.com

pic via GQ

  • Tried & True, Surefire Bets

Prada Luna Rossa: Sometimes one doesn't want to venture too far out into uncharted territories. When reviewing this fragrance there was a mention of the "Modern Urban Male Accord": briefly, aromatics such as lavender, fanned on a laundry day clean base of modern ingredients that give diffusion and lasting power. Prada's cologne is among the nicest in this standard genre. Available at major department stores.

Chanel Sycomore: Vetiver is an exotic grass with a scent at once cooling and earthy, like upturned dirt. It has given us so many classics over the years (such as Guerlain Vetiver) that it's a staple in any discerning man's fragrance wardrobe. Chanel does a superb vetiver composition, lightly smoky and just beautiful beyond words. Available at chanel.com

  • Budget-Considerate Fragrances for Men

If you're shopping the more economical end of the market, you can't go wrong with Old Spice. This timeless classic, full of the scent of carnation, agrestic lavender and warm spices has been modernized in its image thanks to the -by now a marketing case study- recent campaign. It won't remind him (or you) of his dad anymore. Phew...

Grey Flannel by Geoffrey Bean is a dependable choice that isn't too common. The scent is woody, traditionally masculine, with a delicious violet note on top that catches one's attention. Available online and at several drugstores.


  1. thank you for this post---was just beginning to ponder the next fragrance to give my husband. he's unconventional but not off-the-wall, partial to classics that were innovations at their introduction and also to well-thought out niche compositions. Dior Homme and Sycomore are both distinct possibilities. and i'm pleased to see the nod to Grey Flannel, which i've thought is a very pleasant though traditional stand-by option for daily wear.

    time to do some on-line price comparing now!

  2. Wonderful guide! I agree that a lot of men aren't open to trying new things when it comes to fragrance. Luckily the man who introduced me to fragrance - my dad - switches up every year.

    You are totally right about Old Spice - it's a comfortable, familiar scent that wears well on nearly every guy. On Grey Flannel - oh no! I didn't realize this is a rare find when I saw it at Winners several weeks ago :( Thanks for the awesome post!

  3. NFS,

    you're welcome.

    I think it's nice to contemplate which fragrance would suit a particular guy; like us, every one of them is a bit different, so these are very, very rough guidelines.
    I think both your picks are truly great (love them and wear them myself) and you can't go wrong with GF! ;-)

    Good luck!!!

  4. Thanks Gil!

    Yeah, Old Spice is dependable in a good way and we have to thank their marketing department for going for a clever, out of the box campaign that reintroduced it to younger audiences.
    Oh do try Grey Flannel!

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  6. Miss Heliotrope00:47

    My husband was kindly wearing grey flannel & drove me half way across town to the (then) only Chanel store that stocks les excl..... While I was talking with the sa, he played. To his slight chagrin, we ended up buying a bottle for him - Pour Monsieur. Even if a he doesnt think he likes scent, just letting him play a bit might help (whiskey tasting has been offered as a comparable action).

  7. Just found Grey Flannel on FragranceNet.com for a ridiculously low price, so I'm definitely glad I didn't get the $40 one in-store :) I'll definitely give it a try at some point.

  8. MH,

    ha, how cool and funny at the same time!

    I do think that playing with anything sensory is conductive to opening up on fragrance. It's all related.

  9. Gil,

    I'm often envious of the US opportunities for cheap thrills. Enjoy, it's a gem!


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