The latest issue of The Perfume Magazine, dedicated to Men's perfumes triggered some thoughts regarding the cathegorization of perfumes into "Feminine" and "Masculine" which many of us, including some TPM contributors, seem uncomfortable with. Perfume is as transversal as literature, sculpture, music. Who might ever think that Mozart is female stuff, while Bach is for machos? Or that Fellini and Kubrick's works are respectively aimed at a feminine or at a masculine audience?
Cathegorizing perfumes into "Feminine" and "Masculine" is nothing but a marketing trick that, in 60s years, aimed at making the scent attractive to the male sector of the market. Until the Second World War the scent wasn't, with little exceptions, gender-targeted: it was a work that anyone could choose according to his/her tastes. But war, poverty and half world to rebuild made men forget about perfume for a few decades. When the situation started tending towards normalization, and in few years even towards economic boom, the trick of the "for him" label inspired men to buy, give and ask for perfumes again, allowing the perfume industry to further expand, and profits to grow. But in this way, over time, a rift between feminine and masculine fragrances was created. In the early decades many raw materials used to live both on male and female skins, but eventually came to rest permanently on one side: woods (vetiver, sandalwood, guaiac, patchouli), like green and aromatic notes (lavender , rosemary, thyme, juniper, sage, galbanum) settled on the masculine side, while flowers and fruits settled in the feminine. Citrus situated in a central location, common to both sectors, as well as resins like incense and myrrh. Spices weren't forbidden to men but were considered as more "feminine", even if many wonderful spicy fragrance for men have come to light. Proceeding with the decades, marine/ozonic notes and the new fresheness (cooling and detergent like) were added to the male palette; while white musk, ambery and gourmand notes came to enrich the feminine.
On outsiders, Vent Vert and N.19 are among the very few green perfumes for women, while Feminitè du Bois was the first (and remains one of the few) feminine woody scents, and Fahrenheit (Dior) was successful also because, stuck in the center of the bouquet, a beautiful and unusual note of violet shines.
Despite these (and other) brilliant exceptions, one can see how 50 years of advertising Pour Femme vs. Pour Homme brainwashed both men and women.
Fortunately exceptions are more and more common, from what I see in forums, blogs and TPM. And in my house. Yes, because my husband couldn't care less about labelling, and often splashes perfume on without even reading the name it bears.
- Hanbury by Maria Candida Gentile (tuberose, jasmine and orange blossom)
- Nuda by Nasomatto (a stunning jasmine, reminiscent of Joy by Patou)
- Trama by Simone Cosac Perfumes (rose, rose and more rose!)
are definitely among his favorites, he wears them very often in generous amount and I must admit he receives many compliments.
Among classic and commercial, sometimes he wears Guerlain's Insolence (tuberose, iris, violet and fruit jellies) that suits him very well, while Shalimar (Guerlain) and White Linen (Estée Lauder) are not among his favorites, though sometimes he wears them when I do. A few nights ago he discovered N.19 and literally fell in love with it.
The interesting fact is, that so-called "feminine" scents don't get necessarily greener or more woody on male skin: rose and orange blossom remain generally flowery and sensual, jasmine stays just indolic as it should be, while violet, and tuberose may even seem to explode!
I think nobody will notice if a man is wearing advertised as "masculine" or "feminine": first because it's only a marketing choice which has nothing to do with perfume itself; then, nobody would be able to recognize a rose from an orris, vetiver from sandalwood... To tell it plain and simple, the intellectual equation "Rose+Violet = female scent= this fellow chose the wrong cologne" never comes to mind.
You can relax and start exploring, wearing unusual scents and observing which effects you get. It's the fact that the scent is amazing, unusual, intense, interesting that catches the fancy, and not its label. Plus, that fact that the wearer is a man, a subject on which we are accustomed to smelling watered little items reminiscent of lemon and shaving. Anything different, be it Opium (YSL), Cristalle (Chanel), or Diorissimo (Dior) will get noticed exclusively for its beauty and for the fact that it smells different from usual. Then, of course, people may like it or not.
And for those who already use them: would you tell us what perfumes advertised as "for her ", or with so called "feminine" elements do you use /do your men use?