I recently read Chandler Burr's The Perfect Scent,
in which he describes the top-selling men's fragrances as "insecticide," "bug spray," and "disinfectant."
The surefire formula for making a bestselling masculine seems simply to be mixing together enough dihydromyrcenol (laundry detergent) with the smell of metal garbage cans to choke a horse, then topping that with the scent of cryogenically frozen citrus peel dusted with DDT and a whiff of recycled plastic. [Azzaro] Chrome is fit, at a 10 percent dilution, for controlling weeds on your lawn. Aramis makes a fine garage floor sterilizer.
He seems to particularly abhor anything by Hugo Boss:
Soul. This smells like the very good, very interesting John Varvatos, except that everything good and interesting and creative has been leached with chlorine from its dessicated corpse. Given that it has none, calling this smell Soul is like calling Sean John's hackneyed, derivative masculine cliché Innovative.
Oh, SNAP! Here's another:
Number One. Fascinating. If a cat had morning breath, then ate kibble, then kicked its anus, then licked your hand, and if you then smelled your hand, it would smell like this.
Double snap! (And...eww. I have cats - I know that smell.)
I can't say that I disagree with Mr. Burr. Commercial masculine fragrances literally STINK. Most of them, anyway.
When I first started dating Mr. Minx, nearly a decade ago, he wore a mostly-pleasant drugstore musk scent. I thought he had the right idea, but the inexpensive ingredients didn't work well with his body chemistry. For our first Christmas together, I decided to buy him a new scent and paid a visit to several department store men's shop fragrance counters with my friend Melinda. She can tell you that I dismissed nearly every single bottle with "phew, bug spray," or "blech, Pine-Sol." I settled on Calvin Klein's Obsession for Men
, because its nutmeggy amber musk was completely different from everything out there. It helped that I knew no one else who wore it, and I myself wore the feminine version for many years.
Why is it that producers of mainstream fragrance think that a masculine scent should be redolent of pine and poison? And why do most men fall for the ploy and pay good money to stink? One of my co-workers regularly douses himself with something that smells like a combination of Pine-Sol and toe cheese. I can smell it wafting down the hall from his private office into mine. On the days we have to work on a project together, it's like a little bit of hell on earth.
Mr Minx still wears Obsession
; it's his signature scent, and it smells incredible on him. He turns his nose up at just about everything else on the mainstream market, including "the very good, very interesting John Varvatos
" (which I like). He's more into niche now, you see? Bond No. 9 New Haarlem
, L'Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two
, and Brandy
(which he often layers with the admittedly mainstream Paul Smith Extreme
). He's also got a large decant of MDCI's Ambre Topkapi
How lucky I am to have a man of good taste. I feel sorry for the women whose husbands prefer Hugo Boss.