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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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!