Beauty: is there really such a thing as a masculine scent? | Sali Hughes

Surely there are just pleasing smells and displeasing smells, and this varies from person to person, regardless of gender

A recent survey in which 66,000 participants were asked to rate hundreds of perfumes showed that 70% of those favoured by women were masculine-smelling. Im not even sure what this means, but suspect that, by masculine, the report meant things that smelled spicy, sharp, smoky or earthy, and not like candied rose petals and cupcake frosting. It seems a terribly reductive way to categorise something as personal as scent. Surely, there are just pleasing smells, displeasing smells and meh smells, and this varies from person to person, regardless of gender. The rest is either social conditioning or marketing.

Anyway, the reports findings caused me to examine my own collection and wonder which could, by these standards, be classed as masculine. At least half, it turns out. I have a preference for slightly piquant smells over the big, rounded, blowsy types (there are exceptions, naturally) and an aversion to sweetness, so GuerlainsJicky (91.80 I know, but that is for a 100ml bottle, twice the size of most) has always appealed. Ostensibly a womens fragrance, it has something of the soft, strong man about it (Hollywood legend Gary Cooper wore Jicky, so Im possibly projecting). Those repelled by rose smells shouldnt be deterred: its as citrussy as it is sweet, so the overall balance is elegant and refined. It has a whiff of lavender, which I normally cant stand, but it works here.

Terre dHerms (56 for 50ml) is specifically marketed at men, but I love it (come to think of it, I find most Herms fragrances pretty gender-neutral and consistently very good). It smells unusually natural for such a complex perfume, with peppery, grassy notes, their sharp corners rounded off with deep, warm spiced orange. Its exceptionally elegant on any gender, holds its own on a posh evening do and is suitably unobtrusive for day. Likewise, Cloon Keen Ateliers Castaa(70 for 60ml). I love this underrated blend of (classically blokey) spices and grass, and (traditionally feminine) jasmine. Its also a bit boozy to my nose, and all the better for it.

My current most-worn is Serge Lutens Daim Blond (84.60 for 50ml), which smells like a pile of crushed Refreshers sweets in the bottom of an old suede handbag. If Im complimented on it, its always by a man. My response is for him to ignore the pigeonholing and spritz away with abandon.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2017/jul/29/sali-hughes-on-masculine-scent-eau-de-parfum-toilette

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