From timeless classics to classics-in-the-making, our grooming expert Lee Kynaston picks out the 10 best perfumes for men.
The 10 best perfumes for men
The one to get fresh with: Dior Eau Sauvage
Described by fragrance historian Roja Dove as ‘one of the most important creations of the second half of the last century’ this timeless scent is that rarest of things: a citrus fragrance that smells sexy too. Which might have something to do with the fact that it was the first fragrance to use hedione: a synthetic ingredient which has been shown to stimulate an area of the female brain responsible for the release of sex hormones. Not so much and ultimate de toilette, then, as an oh! de toilette.
The versatile workhorse: Terre d’Hermès
Created by acclaimed perfumer Jean-Claude Ellen and launched in 2006, this fresh-but- warm combo of citrus fruits, spices and woods has become a true contemporary classic. Featuring grapefruit, cedarwood and vetiver, with ocassional hints of gunflint, it ticks two crucial boxes men should look for when choosing a fragrace: it’s versatile – being fresh enough for day but warm enough for evening – and has decent staying power on the skin.
Perfect for work: Acqua Di Parma Colonia
It might be over a century old but Acqua Di Parma’s citrus-based Colonia hasn’t aged a day and remains connoisseur’s cologne. A favourite of debonair dudes like Cary Grant and David Niven it’s the olfactory equivalent of an immaculately-tailored white shirt: cool, crisp and elegant. It’s relative lightness, meanwhile, makes it perfect for daytime use and for summer when you want a fragrance that’s fresh and unostentatious.
The warm and spicy one: Comme des Garçons Black pepper
The latest in the Japanese fashion label’s collection of fragrances with a predominant signature note, Black Pepper garnered almost universal praise when it launched last year. And with good reason because this super-spicy nostril tingler, built around piquant black pepper tempered by warm notes of cedarwood, patchouli and creamy tonka bean, isn’t just spicy - it’s seriously sexy.
The new fragrance for grown ups: Gucci Guilty Absolute
Not since Gucci Envy – a fragrance now discontinued – has the Italian fashion house produced such a genuinely sexy, well-constructed fragrance. Elegant and sophisticated, 2017’s Gucci Guilty Absolute is woody, earthy and leathery in a way that conjures up images of gentleman’s clubs, well-worn Chesterfields and hand-warmed warmed cognac. A future classic.
The warm, woody one: Tom Ford Oud Wood
Solid, masculine and reliable, woody scents are the mainstay of the men’s fragrance world and this one, from the immaculately turned-out Texan’s Private Blend Collection, is one of the best on the market. A fantastically warm and sensual mix of smoky oud, sandalwood, rose, cardamom and tonka bean it’s the perfect special occasion fragrance.
The mature classic: Givenchy Gentleman
In the same way that The Stones wilfully ignore what’s going on in the charts and quietly do their own thing Givenchy Gentleman has transcended fads and fashions to offer a timeless version of olfactory masculinity thanks to the holy trinity of butch base notes (patchouli, vetiver and musk) along with a kinky leather accord which makes it supremely sexy and provides fantastic longevity on the skin.
The future classic: Dunhill ICON
Naming a fragrance ICON might seem like pure folly but Dunhill’s self-assuredness with this luxurious, gentlemanly scent turned out to be more than braggadocio. A sophisticated spicy, leathery and smoky fragrance it has all the refinement and meticulous attention to detail you’d expect from Dunhill itself while the bottle, a murder-weapon heavy, engine-turned cylindrical flask, is a thing of beauty.
The ultimate summer fragrance: Giorgio Armani Aqua di Gio Pour Homme
Inspired by the rocky-but-beautiful island of Pantelleria, Acqua di Gio might not be selling anything like the number of bottles it did back in its 90s heyday but it remains one of the best and most popular men’s fragrances ever created. Fresh and herbaceous with a ‘marine’ accord to give it a salty, sea spray crispness, it’s a summer fragrance par excellence.
The statement fragrance: Creed Aventus
There are plenty of great Creed fragrances a man could opt for but it’s Aventus, Creed’s most successful fragrance in their entire 257-year history, that’s the daddy - and once you take a sniff you’ll see why.
Unusually for a men’s fragrance it’s a fruity affair (there are notes of apple, pineapple and blackcurrant) but thanks to the addition of earthy, mossy and musky notes it’s ferociously masculine and self-assured – which is exactly how you’ll feel if you wear it.