Man up in the per­fume depart­ment girls – why mas­cu­line fra­grances are for the fairer sex too. Plus the new­est nude make-up in our look list.

Friday - - Contents -

Boyfriend dress­ing is hav­ing a mo­ment: you know this from the over­sized blaz­ers, brogues and man­nish tai­lor­ing clut­ter­ing up the shop rails. And boyfriend beauty is just as se­duc­tive a look – think smudgy lower lids, balmed lips and soft, sliced hair. But where you can re­ally get in on the trend is with fra­grance; sweet flo­rals and op­u­lent glam­our bombs are giv­ing way to grown-up colognes.

“Women are look­ing for more in­di­vid­ual smells and aren’t scared by an ad cam­paign that shows a man,” says Mark Tran­ter, a fra­grance buyer at Sel­fridges’ Ox­ford Street branch in Lon­don. “When Chanel used Brad Pitt to ad­ver­tise No. 5, it opened the flood­gates for con­sumers’ per­cep­tion of who wears what.”

Vic­to­ria Beck­ham re­cently tweeted her love of Byredo 1996 Inez & Vi­noodh, a new, gutsy, mas­cu­line scent of ju­niper berries and leather. St­ing’s wife Trudie Styler ap­par­ently favours Pour Un Homme de Caron, a vanilla and laven­der fra­grance. The re­cently re­launched Atkin­sons cologne brand says its Bri­tish Bou­quet for men (think sad­dle leather and am­ber) has had a rise in fe­male cus­tomers, while Chanel’s Égoïste is back on coun­ters across the UK, hav­ing been se­cretly stashed for years.

Men too have crossed th­ese blurred lines: in­dus­try leg­end has it that Billy Idol wears Dip­tyque’s black­cur­rant leaf and rose scent L’Om­bre dans L’Eau, while Philippe Starck has said he favours the jas­mine and gar­de­nia headi­ness of Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps.

So why do some women want to smell more mas­cu­line th­ese days? “There’s a lot of un­spo­ken com­mu­ni­ca­tion go­ing on when we wear fra­grance,” says Becki Houl­ston, a life coach. “With women’s in­creas­ing life­style de­mands and stress lev­els, it’s im­por­tant that our scent – our pri­mal com­mu­ni­ca­tion out­let – is bold, con­trolled and con­fi­dent.”

Geral­dine Howard, the pres­i­dent and co-founder of Aro­mather­apy As­so­ci­ates, agrees. “The work­place can be a dif­fi­cult en­vi­ron­ment for women to be judged as equals,” she says. “Wear­ing a more mas­cu­line scent can em­power them and help the way they are per­ceived. Some

of the more tra­di­tion­ally male notes, such as bay, black pep­per, frank­in­cense and cedar­wood, don’t just smell won­der­ful, they work psy­cho­log­i­cally on the emo­tions, pro­vid­ing strength, warmth, com­fort and fo­cus.”

Mark has an ad­di­tional the­ory. “It may be to evoke mem­o­ries of cer­tain men,” he says. “We have one reg­u­lar cus­tomer who orig­i­nally bought Vik­tor & Rolf Spice­bomb for her hus­band, but now reg­u­larly pur­chases it for her­self as it reminds her of him.”

I re­cently found my­self doused in a man’s scent for a mash-up of the above rea­sons. Dur­ing a stress­ful few weeks of health prob­lems, I stood de­flated and teary in the bath­room, look­ing for some­thing safe and calm­ing to ground my tip­ping-point anx­i­ety, and sprayed my hus­band’s Terre d’Her­mès fra­grance.

It worked. It was like he was right there, telling me ev­ery­thing would be all right, an ol­fac­tory hold­ing hand. Com­pared with the fussy flo­rals I was used to, it felt like swap­ping stilet­tos for a slick pair of Saint Lau­rent rid­ing boots.

“There’s some­thing very hon­est about a male fra­grance,” says Alveena Butt, depart­ment man­ager in Sel­fridges’ fra­grance hall and a long­time wearer of Creed Aven­tus for men. “What you smell in the bot­tle is what you wear all day. It doesn’t de­velop and change like a fe­male fra­grance, it sticks to its guns.”

Just like those balmed lips and un­done hair, the point here is that mas­cu­line fra­grances


aren’t butch: they’re qui­etly beau­ti­ful. So when you’re next search­ing for that elu­sive sig­na­ture per­fume, in this sea­son of pretty pow­der-pink coats, lace trims, em­bel­lish­ment and full skirts, con­sider go­ing with a see­saw scent. It’s time to man up.


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