This is undeniably Chanel's greatest contribution to the masculine category (followed closely, perhaps, by Antaeus). It's sporty and refreshing... and surprisingly potent. Pour Monsieur Eau de Toilette, $70.
Master perfumer Edouard Fléchier created Cool Water—the iconic entry into 'aquatic masculines' (think the big brother to Light Blue and the entire 'sport' category). Despite close to twenty years of imitation scents, it's still the best. Eau de Toilette, $51.
Jean-Claude Ellena is now known as the in-house perfumer for Hermès. But before he swore allegiance to that brand, he created this lovely scent for Cartier, a house of similar distinction. You love Déclaration for its citrus opening and vetiver base—it's for the gentleman who understands the power of understatement. Eau de Toilette, $80.
Green Irish Tweed is probably the fragrance on the list that most resonates with the idea of modern masculinity—a fougère (floral notes) cut with classics like sandalwood and vetiver. (Plus, it has a serious A-list following). 120 ml for $315.
Men are constantly asking—"What fragrance should I buy?" You see, boys are often limited to the scents purchased for them by the women in their lives, often for a holiday or special occasion. Most of them, in fact, don't even think twice about the spritz.
It's a shame, really, considering the history of modern perfumery—how renowned noses and tastemakers have been trying for over a century to bottle the essence of masculinity, especially as the concept of "manhood" and "the modern gentleman" evolves with increasing speed. (Gender practically no longer exists in the niche fragrance market. Most women and men with any concept of luxury or taste understand that a scent cannot be gendered.)
Later this month, the Elements Showcase will take place in New York City. Elements is renowned for consolidating the best, most innovative new perfumers into one space—a place devoid of celebrity contracts and branded scents—where every bottle has a story.
So we asked each one of these brilliant noses to explain what scent they associate with "masculine"—or, better yet who they think of (Daniel Craig was a popular response). Their answers are listed below.
As for that burning question—"What scent should I buy?"—we've listed ten of the most famous masculines over the century in the slideshow above. The fact that they're available for purchase is a testament to their quality and their resonance with men of every generation. —Phillip Picardi (@pfpicardi)
"When I think of a masculine scent, I think of my husband. He's GQ hot but with angel blue eyes," says Barb Stegemann, author and CEO of The 7 Virtues of Beauty Inc. She adds that her Vetiver of Haiti scent "epitomizes man."
Tanja Obchnig, perfumer and owner of April Aromatics, explains, "I associate the earthy, woody, musky scents with a man... Sandalwood, cedarwood, vetiver, patchouli."
Keith Hamilton of Illuminum Fragrance says that, when thinking of the masculine smell he thinks of, "Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig."
François Damide of Crafting Beauty seconds the sentiment about Mr. Craig: "Sean Connery, Daniel Craig, Clive Owen, Cary Grant, and George Clooney," are who he has in mind. As for the typical scent, his patchouli is the ideal manly fragrance.
"If I follow the old cliché of male and female fragrances, I would say that a manly smell tends to be strong, rich, woody, earth, citric, and aromatic," says Simone Cosac Naify.
"I think of my father, of course—fall leaves and vanilla pipe tobacco and the garage from working on his car... Then, my high school boyfriend... Stetson for men, the original," says Sarah Horowitz-Thran, owner and chief perfumer of her eponymous company.
Michelyn Cholay of Sens-Unikassociates just one thing with the scent of a man: "Coffee, what else?"