The Connoisseur Series: Fragrances
Thursday, 17 September 2009 05:15
Written by Jon Waldman
Perhaps the most primal of our senses, smell plays a huge role in everything from physical attraction to safety detection. The abundance of fragrances peddled by celebrities of all sorts and offered everywhere from the drugstore to menswear retailers can make the task of selection more than daunting. We want you to smell nice, so for this issue’s Connoisseur Series we attempt to help you make sense of scents.
From left to right:
Masculine by Dolce & Gabbana eau de toilette, $92, 100 ml at Perfume Paradise, 253 Vaughan St, 275-7493; Clinique Happy for Men eau de toilette, $58.50, 100 ml at Sephora, Polo Park Shopping Centre, 775-5560; Neroli Sauvage by Creed, $210, 120 ml at Perfume Paradise.
Acqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani after shave lotion, $70, 100 ml at Sephora; Philosykos by Diptyque eau de toilette, $111, 100 ml at Edward Carriere Boutique; Habit Rouge by Guerlain eau de toilette, $85, 100 ml at Perfume Paradise.
Ambre Fetiche by Annick Goutal eau de parfum, $215, 100 ml at Edward Carriere Boutique; Light Blue by Dolce & Gabbana eau de toilette, $83, 125 ml at Sephora; Terre d’Hermes by Hermes eau de toilette, $115, 100 ml at Perfume Paradise.
Safari by Ralph Lauren eau de toilette, $108, 125 ml at Perfume Paradise; Diesel Fuel for Life eau de toilette, $88, 75 ml at Sephora; Santal by Creed, $279, 75 ml at Edward Carriere Boutique, 162 Spence St, 987-6441.
Let’s make one thing clear right from the get go–this article probably would not have been possible a half century ago.
After all, for a man to concern himself with such details as manicured nails, waxing or even good looking hair (witness the mullet) was considered unbelievable. If a male spent even a tenth of the time grooming that women did, he was undoubtedly ridiculed.
Flash forward to the 21st century and men are arguably more concerned with looking, feeling and smelling great than ever before.
And yes, you read that last part right–smelling.
No longer do men simply hop out of bed, jump in the shower, rub on some deodorant and say they’re ready to face the world. Increasingly, our gender is more concerned about their scent. The result is a bevy of concoctions that are strong enough, and indeed made for, a man.
You needn’t even look that far back to see the beginnings of the modern fragrance trend. According to fragrancewholesale.com’s article “Some history and Background on Fragrances,” adding a scented touch can be traced back to the days of Hammurabi, who, “decreed that everyone in his kingdom (men and women) had to wash in perfume,” and in more recent times, aftershave was developed, ironically, in the so-called “Dirty Thirties”, and took steps beyond in the 1960s and 70s.
All this leads to today’s scent-conscious male, who, like in fashion trends, are embracing the new era of presentation. The motivation, not surprisingly, has a lot to do with the opposite sex.
“A lot of times, married men will wear colognes because their wives like it and they know they do. Single guys wear it because of the attraction. The reasons boil down to the same,” says Ari Driver, owner of Perfume Paradise. “It is an attraction–it does say volumes about you, that you are taking care of yourself. These days, people are more into grooming and taking care of themselves. It’s part of getting dressed.”
In fact, the scent of a man could be the most memorable aspect for a woman, Driver relates a story of a friend who went on a first date and, in highlighting the evening to her cohorts, said that, “he smelled really good.”
When it comes to shopping for their new fragrance though, men aren’t venturing out on their own. Adi Lando, artist expert with Sephora, remarks that men are not quite at the stage of being able to venture out on their own.
“Let’s be frankly honest–a lot of men would come with either their wife or their girlfriend, or another friend to get a second opinion or if you live with someone, you would have to be approved on the fragrance, because the woman is the one that’s going to have to smell you,” he says.
According to Lando, the two most popular masculine fragrances are a woodsy fragrance or a citrusy musk scent, but several others are available such as fresh or spice. This should sound familiar, because scents in colognes will often match up with another smell-featured part of our daily ritual.
“A lot of fragrance lines have a deodorant to go with [them], especially for men,” Driver notes, adding that if the two don’t match, however, it’s not necessarily a concern because deodorants don’t ”fight” with fragrances in part due to using the two on different parts of the body.
In fact, placement for fragrances has changed. Some may recall that in earlier times, men would apply to pulse points, say on the wrists or neck. This, Driver explains, was because what was used in the past was primarily perfumes (eau de parfum) which are activated by heat. Today though, men’s scents are eau de toilettes, which don’t need heat to work, and therefore can be placed anywhere.
Driver further points out that generally, men will use their scent on their chests because, as she points out, “if your fragrance is heavy, you want to wear it lower on your body because fragrance rises.”
This difference in application keys into the proper application of a fragrance. Like operating a power saw, there are right ways and wrong ways to use cologne (albeit the consequences of improper usage aren’t quite as deadly).
The first thing to know is that your fragrance won’t last through the night. As Lando explains, men generally use eau de toilettes, which don’t last as long as eau de parfums, which are more common for women’s scents.
There are ways, however, to lengthen the lifetime of your cologne application, such as a technique the fairer sex often employs.
“Women like to layer with body lotion,” Lando explains. “So something you can do if the fragrance you have has a body lotion, you can layer. So put the body lotion on after you shower and the fragrance will last much longer.”
It’s also important to recognize that you don’t’ want to over-apply. The last thing you (or anyone) wants is to have that continual waft of over-scented air around you, so be sure to keep that in check. Driver recommends that, “if you can smell your fragrance a half hour after you put it on; you’re putting on too much. Others will, but you shouldn’t.”
With these points in mind, it’s time to get shopping, because like any other self-care purchase, the best way to know what fragrance is right for you, is to become a connoisseur.