I don’t consider myself an expert on men’s cologne, but here are the few favorites that make me want to do bad things. Snobs have needs too, Honey.
212 Men by Carolina Herrera
Category: Woody Floral Musk
Notes: Blend of spices, petit grain, grapefruit, lavender, bergamot, ginger, pepper, violet, gardenia, sage, labdanum, sandalwood, musk, incense, vetiver, guaiac wood.
The Scent: My favorite club scent on a man. Something about it gives off a manic energy that makes you want to engage in frantic activity all night, ie. dancing. The grapefruit attacks you first, distracting your attention as you are seduced by the subtle aroma of ginger, sage, and fragrant wood. Inviting and somehow thrilling. ****
Tommy by Tommy Hilfiger
Category: Aromatic Fougere
The Bottle: Another from the school of “If it’s masculine, it must be boring” school of bottles. Darlings, it is possible for something to be both masculine and attractive. For examples, see below, or merely cast your eye upon Colin Firth… or Clive Owen….. or Amaury Nolasco……..sorry, I’ve forgotten what I was talking about. **
The Scent: Fresh like a crisply laundered prep school shirt. Suited to a younger man, or anyone who likes the “just out of the shower” scent. Makes one feel all Mrs. Robinson-y. Not intricate, but so citrusy and minty its impossible to let your feet drag while wearing it. Eau de preppy teenage boy. The kind that showers. ****
Allure pour Homme by Chanel
Category: Oriental Woody
Notes: ginger, lavender, peach, mandarin orange, bergamot, lemon, gardenia, patchouli, jasmine, freesia, vetiver, rose, anise, rosewood, pepper, cedar, leather, sandalwood, tonka bean, musk, amber, vanilla, coconut, benzoin, oakmoss.
The Bottle: Dear Chanel, Just because you happen to produce excellent cologne does not mean you should allow yourselves to become lazy bastards. Perhaps you believe it is what is on the inside that counts. In this you have been misinformed. I judge you. Put some imagination into your packaging, because this is the bottle equivalent of a dismissive shrug. Love, The Bottle Snob. **
The Scent: Heavenly. Light but decisive, flexible yet self-assured, this suits the truly cultured man. Lemon and ginger are immediately detectable, along with a light touch of lavender. As the night progresses, vetiver and peach begin to sashay their way into the mix, moving smoothly into an intriguing vanilla-leather drydown. Sophisticated and a genuine stunner. *****
“Burberry Men” by Burberry
Category: Woody Aromatic
Notes: Jasmine, sandalwood, cedar, vanilla, musk.
The Bottle: Bit of a unisex look to it, actually, which is perfectly in keeping with the scent. Doesn’t commit itself one way or the other in the lines or color scheme. Fortunately contains no actual Burberry plaid, which I consider (among stiff competition) the ugliest plaid I have ever laid eyes on. ***
The Scent: In my opinion, this could be pulled off by a man or a woman. The sweetness of the vanilla gives it a soft edge, which is supported by a sexy cedar. Another favorite of mine on a man, as it transmits strength but also sensitivity and gentleness. A “trust me” scent. ****
“Polo Black” By Ralph Lauren
Notes: Sage, tangerine, sandalwood, tonka bean, patchouli, mango, lemon.
Bottle: Ralph Lauren bottles are never terribly imaginative, but I forgive him (them?) because I find them oddly cute and slightly random. I suppose the little polo player is meant to add a touch of refinement (after all, only the wealthy tend to play polo), but I find him sweetly comical. After all, the ACTUAL smell of horses and sweat at a polo match is rather less than fresh. ***
The Scent: It isn’t often one finds sunny mango and sweet tangerine in a cologne called “Black”, but this one draws me in and wraps me up slowly, the spider to my fly. I tend towards the sweeter scents myself, so perhaps I recognize the wearer of this as something of a kindred spirit. Mmm. ****
“Attitude” by Giorgio Armani
Category: Oriental Fougere
The Bottle: Masculine with a kitschy edge. A bad thing? Not at all, Darling. A little kitsch is enjoyable, as long as it doesn’t topple over the edge into the abyss of cutesy. The lighter-esque flip-top lid is cute, and the bottle itself is classic black with an interesting, finger-friendly design. As an extremely kinesthetic person I am a big fan of bottles with textural interest, and men’s bottles so rarely have any. ****
The Fragrance: An herby cedar with a zesty lemon opening. Sensual and yet fresh, with a warm drydown. As my father often wears this, I’ll take a pass on the “bad things” however. ****
“Pi” by Givenchy
Notes: Rosemary, mandarin orange, tarragon, basil, sugar, vanilla, almond, tonka bean, benzoin, cedar.
The Bottle: Like something out of an Egyptian temple. Its strong masculine lines radiate confidence, originality, and intense sexuality. Simply Gorgeous. *****
The Scent: The freshness of the herbs and mandarin orange is carried by a divine current of vanilla, then anchored by the soft woody duet of the benzoin and cedar. Sexy like nothing else, but also gentle. *****