Compared to just a few years ago the number of men’s fragrance releases each year is almost overwhelming. For our first Classic Edition this year, we asked Grooming Editor Elisabeth King to select those 10 essential scents that will help a man determine his style while standing out from the crowd.
1/ Yves Saint Laurent Kouros
A polarising fragrance with as many haters as fans. But there’s no getting away from the fact that Kouros has been a global bestseller for 35 years and is a major benchmark in the scent world. Civet is the animalistic ingredient that causes all the turned-up noses. Not a blind buy but if sexy and bold rather than safe is your style, the floral/woody/spicy notes leave a great impression on sheets to make your memory linger longer.
2 / Creed Silver Mountain Water
It’s a non-negotiable. Every man should try a Creed fragrance once in his life and the sooner the better. ‘SMW’, as fans call this Spring-in-a-bottle juice, is the preferred entry point for men in their 20s. The metallic iciness comes courtesy of green tea, blackcurrants and woods for a true ‘eau’ back story. It’s an “OMG, you smell really good” compliment magnet. Refresh at will.
3 / Reflection Man by Amouage
Some fragrances from Amouage, the luxury fragrance house, can be too incense-dominant for many men. Not this fresh, uplifting spicy/floral, says Nick Smart, Director of Agence de Parfum, one of Australia’s leading fragrance experts. A smart choice for intimate evenings, just the right touch of sweetness make this the ‘youngest’ of Amouage scents.
4 / Itasca by Lubin
A definitive modern classic which launched only six years ago, this crafted masterpiece is refined masculinity in a bottle. Or make that a barbershop in a glass bottle for its perfectly pitched blend of pine, fir, balsam and cedar backed up by vetiver and myrrh. It’s the work of perfumer Thomas Fontaine, a maestro at adapting legendary fragrances for modern tastes. Fresh and clean yet with a boozy kick, it’s an all-seasons, outdoorsy scent with a minimum longevity of five hours. www.lubin-parfum.fr
5 / Tom Ford Tuscan Leather
Fashion’s man in black knows what goes best with a tuxedo. Too much for some, this is a heavyweight Shiraz of a scent, to borrow some wine jargon. From the Private Blend collection, it reeks of rich tycoons and inherited money. Smoky, woody notes play off the smooth leather. Not a beast but it’s advisable to start with one spray only.
6 / Hermes Terre d’ Hermes
One of the best fragrances of the past decade – no ifs, ands or buts. Complex, woody, earthy and crisp, if it’s not love at first spray – be patient – especially if you’re under 25. Balancing fresh and ‘dirty’, it’s tailor-made for the urban contemporary gentleman with edge.
7 / John Varvatos Artisan
Not everyone wants to become an incense tragic in the search for something different. This quiet achiever turns up on many collectors’ lists for one reason. Its subtle complexity makes it a go-to choice for men who are looking for a change from sporty or aquatic fragrances yet don’t want to move too far out of their comfort zone. Many fragheads focus on its lack of longevity, but re-spraying isn’t an issue for anyone on the hunt for a fresh, sparkling summer fragrance juicy with oranges. For charmers.
8 / Ermenegildo Zegna Essenze Italian Bergamot
The Italians invented cologne, first on their home turf in Florence and then in Cologne in Germany as 4711. Over the centuries they have stayed close to the ancestor model – simple yet vibrant and soooo good. This is the smartly-dressed-Italian-aristo-in-a-Maserati version. An essential gentleman’s scent whether you are in Sorrento in Italy or on the Mornington Peninsula.
9 / Chanel Antaeus Pour Homme
Chanel Pour Monsieur gets the most nods on listicles of classic men’s fragrances, with Egoiste running a close second. But Antaeus, named after a super-strong Greek demi-god who met his match in a tussle with Hercules, is the alpha male of the Chanel portfolio. A powerful chypre, it’s enigmatic and darkly beautiful with floral, moss and leather notes. For confident days when you feel that you could also mix it with the most powerful man on earth.
10 / Paco Rabanne Pour Homme
Paco Rabanne 1 Million is a global blockbuster men’s fragrance, but few guys could name-check the designer. The 82-year-old was the enfant terrible of 1960s French fashion and a pioneer of the modern era of designer scents. Released in 1973, this green and clean herbal juice kicked off the ‘aromatic fougere’ genre. One of the most copied fragrances of the past 40 years, it’s sexy, manly and women have found it unforgettable since the first bottle came off the production line.