It’s no surprise that more and more men are stopping into the studio to find the perfect scent. I’ve been blessed with a pretty strong male clientele from the beginning of my perfume practice, but lately there have been more than the usual…and I love this…for lots of reasons. I’ve known for quite awhile that scent culture is blossoming among young men; that they are checking out niche firms alongside the mainstream houses to see what’s new, what’s different, and even what’s challenging. Yes, challenging; intellectually and aesthetically. I think this is huge. We know that scent has the power to get inside you before you are consciously aware and start you on a path to emotion, memory, and experience. Now add that it can open your mind to design elements that may not be initially ‘handsome’, or easy, or even recognizable. There is a push that can make you go deeper and the result is a true(er) connection to yourself and the art that you are experiencing.
Unlike many perfume establishments, in my studio / shop I don’t categorize the perfumes by fragrance family, dominant note, or gender. I arrange the bottles by collection as each collection has meaning, a story, and a relationship between its members. It’s my hope that people will take notice of how each design relates to the others sitting next to them. This can be a little disorienting to the casual shopper who doesn’t know what they’re in for when they walk in. I often get asked: “Where’s the stuff for guys?” to which I reply, “everywhere”. 🙂 This allows me to ask some important questions so that I am able to curate a bit for each client. I like that. Not so much to be in control but to break the usual patterns to allow for a really authentic experience.
In the past few months I’ve been seeing some interesting patterns forming and I’m pleased because some really great scents (IMO, of course) have been getting some serious love. SEVEN, one of the first designs I created specifically with men in mind and with a kind of meditative yet vintage-y (non-fougere) vibe has been the pick of a number of new clients. I love its vetiver meets incense, woods, and herbs. It’s really easy to wear and since it’s 88% botanical there’s an intrinsic quality and depth to the perfume that comes through. SEVEN has had a steady stream of admirers over the years since it came out, as a limited edition, in 2002. It hasn’t been a sleeper, but as of late it seems to just hit the spot and I am really happy about it. Another design that came out with SEVEN that’s been garnering new fans is Michelangelo. When I created this design I didn’t have scotch on my mind (and the “whiskey notes / boozey thing” hadn’t happened yet) but there is a really distinctive single malt scotch note to the opening of Michelangelo that I truly love. It’s not exactly Macallan, but it’s in that ball park. It bursts open with a slightly herbal nuance, and a hint of oak and caramel in the background but it’s not sweet and it’s very low on the (smoky/loamy) peat. The remainder of Michelangelo is a wood paneled men’s club (think the Bohemian Club meeting at the Bohemian Grove ) with the whispers of the cigars once smoked and patina-ed leather armchairs. Michelangelo is also high in naturals (94%) and masculine in very artistic way… (maybe that’s why a number of women also love and wear it, too!)
From my viewpoint there may be a trend in the making for herbal notes. I’m not sure if this is because younger people are getting more familiar with herbs through exposure to aromatherapy or new culinary interest, or if it’s because it’s very foreign and new. I do see more and more interest, especially from men, in herbs, conifers, and woods. We know there will always be a love of musk (the clean and the dirty ones), leather and oakmoss, as well as the citruses. And vanilla is still really big with the guys (Vanille Botanique and Vanilla Bourbon Intense, I’m looking at you), but I am very encouraged by the recent gravitation to the retro-nouveau / classic stylings of SEVEN and Michelangelo. As they say in Boulder: Dude, you smell great!