Where to start? Part 9 (10 classic/modern designers)

10 modern/classic designer fragrances well worth their salt and staples in many a wardrobe.

Chanel-Egoïste

Notes: Sicilian tangerine, Brazilian rosewood, coriander, Damask rose, sandalwood, vanilla, ambrette seed

What Antaeus was to the 80’s, Egoïste was to the 90’s. The last great main stream/line release from the house of Chanel and a staple in my personal wardrobe. Rich sandalwood, candied fruit accords with a sprinkle of Chanel’s magic signature on the top notes. Rich, powerful, assertive, masculine and extremely versatile, this is one of those rare fragrances which ticks all the right boxes. Immensely satisfying and should be your first stop at the Chanel counter. (Bonus: if you can find the discontinued version which is called Cologne Concentree )*

Rating: 9/10

Yves Saint Laurent- Kouros

Notes: aldehydes, artemisia, coriander, clary sage and bergamot, carnation, patchouli, cinnamon, orris root, jasmine, vetiver and geranium, honey, leather, tonka bean, amber, musk, civet, oakmoss, vanilla

Launched in 1981 by YSL King Kouros remains to this day one of the top selling men’s releases on the planet for a reason. Simply put this is masculinity personified in a fragrance, iconic and symbolic of the 80′s this polarizing powerhouse has since been neutered a little since its inception. Still it remains a contender to be the defining men’s fragrance of all time.

Rating: 9/10

Pascal Morabito- Or Black

Notes: bergamot, pepper, leather, sage, benzoin, cistus, vetiver, amber, tonkinian musk, oakmoss

A classic 80′s leather chypre, which was once discontinued but is now available in a very expensive limited edition and numbered silver-plated bottle (or a basic 100ml re-charge bottle). A wonderful fragrance, which is extremely complex and multifaceted exuding warmth, bitterness, leather, resins, booze, greens.

Dense, masculine and unapologetically 80′s, yet still just as relevant today as it was then. Recommended.

Rating: 8.5/10

Dior- Fahrenheit

Notes: hawthorn, honeysuckle, sandalwood, lesntitcus, benzoin

Fahrenheit is another iconic fragrance of the 80’s/early 90’s and one which narrowly missed out on my past list of top 10 masculine classics. Undoubtedly masculine, classic, rugged and unique in which nothing else smells quite like it. A rich leathery blend of dirty florals, gasoline, blended with the must and grease of a mechanics garage, mesmerizing! Unfortunately reformulation has had its grubby mitts on this one a time or two, so the scent has suffered marginally.

Rating: 8/10

Dior- Eau Sauvage

Notes: lemon, rosemary, petitgrain, basil, vetiver

This is a fresh perfume which can be easily recognized among other fresh fragrances. The clear and fresh scent of lemon and bitter-fresh rosemary are combined perfectly with masculine, woody nuances. The perfume was introduced in 1966 and created in cooperation with perfumer Edmond Roudnitska. The creator made the perfume legendary and characteristic for its fresh, citrusy notes, composed with spicy lavender on a masculine woody base. Rumor has it this one was a favourite of John Lennon.

Rating: 8/10

Chanel- Pour Monsieur

Notes: neroli, petitgrain, lemon, cardamon, cedarwood, oakmoss, vetitver

A classic since its release in 1955, Pour Monsieur is an eternal classic. The perfume has an ‘intelligent’ essence through its composition created by Henri Robert, which opens gradually and leads a long and beautiful play out on the skin. A very refined fragrance, for an elegant and intelligent man.

Rating: 8/10

Chanel- Antaeus

Notes: clary sage, myrtle, patchouli, sandalwood, labdanum, beeswax absolute

Antaeus is the name of ancient Greek demigod. Strong, like a god, and gentle as a man, Antaeus belongs to those perfumes of expressed individuality and strong character which emphasize masculinity, what was a trend in 1980-ies. Myrtle and sage, lime and thyme have united to give the fragrance a special freshness and masculine character.

The fragrance is warming up and becomes intensive at the end due to patchouli, sandal and labdanum in the base. Sharp animalistic nuance is brought in by the notes of castoreum and leather. This could arguably be THE scent iconic of the 80′s (along with Kouros of course), symbolizing Gordon Gekko, Wall street and blow in all its loud, big brash ostentatious glory!

Rating: 8/10

Geoffrey Beene- Grey Flannel

Notes: violet, orange, lemon, oakmoss, sandalwood

Originally released in 1975, Grey Flannel is a very dated, yet classy understated classic which your dad probably used to wear. The fresh smell of dew of leaves, during a crisp early autumn morning. Quite polarizing, yet worth sampling simply for its contribution to the history of perfumery.

Rating: 7.5/10

Dior- Homme

Notes: lavender, sage, bergamot, iris, amber, cocoa, cardamon, patchouli, leather, Tahitian vetiver

Homme is quite simply a whimsical, elegant and daring scent. This one has Dior’s trademark metro sexual chic handwriting all over it and one which could just as easily been called Femme. Olivier Polge uses traditionally feminine notes of iris (smells like lipstick/make up to many) and cocoa, juxtaposed against a masculine notes of leather, patchouli and vetiver. Elegant, suave, stylish and delicious. Definitely worth sampling (you may need to sample it multiple times to “get it”).

Rating: 8.5./10

Comme des Garcons- EDP (original)

Notes: cardamon oil, coriander oil, geranium oil, nutmeg oil, cinnamon bark oil, clovebud, labdanum essense, styrax, cedarwood, cut hay, olibanium essense, black pepper, sandalwood, rose, honey

The original and where it all began for the house of Comme des Garcons. Mark Buxton’s legendary eau de parfum was originally released in 1994 and is considered by most CdG fans to be their finest. Eau de parfum is hailed as a fragrance that “works like a medicine, behaves like a drug”. A sparkling array of spices awaken the senses, with notes of cinnamon, rose and clove. Like a balm, the scent invades the body–woody and resin work in concert with harmonies of honey and cedarwood. Full of softness and warmth…the complexity subsides.

Rating: 8.5/10

BONUS

More of a tease than a bonus, these are two modern classics gone before their time. Criminally discontinued, but well worth hunting down a bottle or two if you can find them.

Helmut Lang- Cuiron

Notes: plum, “fluid” leather, fresh notes, “sensual” leather, suede notes, “noble” leather

Read full review here.

Rating: 8/10

Yohji Yamamoto- Yohji Homme

Notes: liquorice, rum, coffee, cinnamon, leather

Like Cuiron, Yohji Homme is another one painfully discontinued before its time. A conservative and restrained take on the gourmand genre, taking rich sweet bitter notes and morphing them into something quite simply stunning. Sorely missed and worth tracking down.

Rating: 8.5/10

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Where to start? Part 6 (10 Masculine Classics)

Through the golden ages of perfumery, a time when quality and timelessness was favored over fads, gimmicks and quickly passing trends. I give you the Mount Rushmore of classic/timeless masculine fragrances:

Guerlain- Derby

Notes: artemisia, bergamot, lemon, peppermint, jasmine, mace, pepper, pimento, rose, leather, oakmoss, patchouli, sandalwood, vetiver

Derby was originally created by Jean-Paul Guerlain in 1985 and although it’s had a little “work” done along the way, it still remains an iconic rich masculine leather chypre and arguably the head of its class in its genre. Trying to describe it would be doing it a disservice, therefore this is one which must simply be tried.

* Since reintroduced at Guerlain’s flagship boutique in Paris, in a rather vulgar and tacky wooden themed bottle, instead of the elegant original bee bottle.

Rating: 9.5/10

Guerlain- Habit Rouge

Notes: bergamot, lemon, rosewood, basil, pimiento, sandal, carnation, patchouli, cedar, rose, cinnamon, vanilla, amber, moss, leather, benzoin, labdanum, olibanum

The Guerlain family has a passion for horses, which Habit Rouge trumpets for all to hear.

The air is bracing and the forest blazes with reds and yellows.  The atmosphere is charged with a fragrance mix of earth, warm leather, the forest and the smell of the horses, the steam rising from their coats in the morning air. The primitive instinct of the hunt still runs through the veins of the hunter.

Rarely does man find himself so close to his original state. Habit Rouge captures this primitive instinct in all its mastery, cultivation and refinement.

Expressive yet delicate, this is a real man’s perfume. The first oriental men’s fragrance, it is replete with contrast.  It is the fragrance of the hunter, albeit for the most tender of hunts.

Rating: 9/10

Caron- Yatagan

Notes: lavender, wormwood, petitgrain, artemisia, geranium, pine needles, vetiver, patchouli, leather, castoreum, styrax

Another iconic mans man fragrance. Named after the sharp, curved Turkish saber Yatagan. It’s exotic, mysterious sonority is reminiscent of oriental and adventurous destinies. The clinging warm, bold, and sensual scent resembles an extremely rare oriental wood that was used as incense in Hindu homes for centuries.

Yatagan’s wood notes mixed with subtle undertones of herbs such as galbanum, patchouli, incense, Artemisia and mint make this a perfect fall and wintry scent. Yatagan was launched in 1978 and remains today as strong as ever and surprisingly very affordable.

Rating: 8.5/10

Caron- Pour un homme

Notes: lavender, rosemary, bergamot, lemon, clary sage, rose, rosewood, cedarwood, vanilla, tonka, musk, moss

Pour Un Homme de Caron by Caron is an Aromatic fragrance for men. Launched in 1934 and the nose behind this fragrance is Ernest Daltroff. It’s rich, yet elegantly understated “gentlemen” fragrance, which is rather sophisticated in its simplicity. Made up of a soothing and refined lavender and vanilla, with a delicate hint of musk. Recommended.

Rating: 8.5/10

Parfums de Nicolaï- New York

Notes: lemon, bergamot, lavender, pepper, patchouli, cedarwood, spices, vanilla, leather, amber

New York by Parfums de Nicolaï is a classic Woody Spicy fragrance for men. New York was launched in 1989 by Patricia de Nicolai (grand daughter of Pierre Guerlain and trained by legdendary Jean-Paul Guerlain). Far from being unique or concept, but regardless this one is affable as it is a master class in elegance, balance and restraint in perfumery.

Rating: 8.5/10

Knize- Ten

Notes: bergamot, lemon, orange, petitgrain, rosemary, geranium, cedarwood, rose, orris, carnation, cinnamon, sandalwood, leather, musk, moss, amber, castoreum, vanilla

Knize Ten, a classic wickedly unique scent and is considered to be the reference leather if not the best leather compositions in the history of perfume. It was launched in the 1920s through founder of the House is Joseph Knize, the Viennese tailor of the Royal Court.

The nose behind this fragrant creation is a perfumer Vincent Roubert, and the design of the bottle is attributed to the Viennese architect Adolf Loos. Number ten in the name symbolizes the polo game. Having been originally released in 1925 and still going strong today is testament to the quality of this marvel. Regal and complex with enough butch leather and dandified florals, to be the king of cool James Deans signature scent (enough said).

Rating: 9.5/10

Yves Saint Laurent- Kouros

Notes: aldehydes, artemisia, coriander, clary sage and bergamot, carnation, patchouli, cinnamon, orris root, jasmine, vetiver and geranium, honey, leather, tonka bean, amber, musk, civet, oakmoss, vanilla

Launched in 1981 by YSL King Kouros remains to this day one of the top selling men’s releases on the planet for a reason. Simply put this is masculinity personified in a fragrance, iconic and symbolic of the 80’s this polarizing powerhouse has since been neutered a little since its inception. Still it remains a contender to be the defining men’s fragrance of all time.

Rating: 9/10

Pascal Morabito- Or Black

Notes: bergamot, pepper, leather, sage, benzoin, cistus, vetiver, amber, tonkinian musk, oakmoss

A classic 80’s leather chypre, which was once discontinued but is now available in a very expensive limited edition and numbered silver-plated bottle (or a basic 100ml re-charge bottle). A wonderful fragrance, which is extremely complex and multifaceted exuding warmth, bitterness, leather, resins, booze, greens.

Dense, masculine and unapologetically 80’s, yet still just as relevant today as it was then. Recommended.

Rating: 8.5/10

Azzaro- Pour homme

Notes: lavender, geranium, anise, petitgrain, vetiver, sandalwood, patchouli, oakmoss, cardamon, basil, lemon, musk, ambergris

Azzaro pour Homme by Azzaro is a Aromatic Fougere fragrance for men. Launched in 1978 and still remains a top seller today, at a very affordable price (read: cheap). Bold, masculine and leathery with all the hallmarks you’d expect from a fragrance of this era. It may come across as a bit dated, but still a remarkable fragrance.
Rating: 8/10

Chanel- Antaeus

Notes: clary sage, myrtle, patchouli, sandalwood, labdanum, beeswax absolute

Antaeus is the name of ancient Greek demigod. Strong, like a god, and gentle as a man, Antaeus belongs to those perfumes of expressed individuality and strong character which emphasize masculinity, what was a trend in 1980-ies. Myrtle and sage, lime and thyme have united to give the fragrance a special freshness and masculine character.

The fragrance is warming up and becomes intensive at the end due to patchouli, sandal and labdanum in the base. Sharp animalistic nuance is brought in by the notes of castoreum and leather. This could arguably be THE scent iconic of the 80’s (along with Kouros of course), symbolizing Gordon Gekko, Wall street and blow in all its loud, big brash ostentatious glory!

Rating: 8/10