There was once a time when men were rugged, leathery-skinned behemoths who believed themselves to be little more than machinery, a vast array of muscle and cartilage, with a laser-focus on completing any task laid before them – from rebuilding a car engine to felling a tree.
Nowadays, though, things are a little different. Men have become more…domesticated. We moisturise, because we don’t want to wrinkle prematurely. We go to the gym because we want to look nice in a t-shirt, and not because we actually need that strength. We’re not any less masculine, it’s just that the notion of manliness has altered slightly. The modern man is more at home in a barbershop or a board room than skinning a deer or toiling in the fields.
Along with skincare and haircare, fragrance is an industry that has seen a recent explosion in popularity in the male-sphere. Sure, men have always worn cologne, but it was very much an afterthought – splashing on some Old Spice after a wet shave was more than sufficient for the day ahead.
Nowadays though, fragrance is moving to the forefront of men’s fashion – we’re spending more on bottles, we’re learning about top, middle and base notes, and we’re actually putting some thought into what we smell like, asides motor oil and deer-blood.
With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of what I consider to be the best men’s fragrances you can buy in 2015, with budgets to suit every pocket. Please note that I have either tried or currently own each of these fragrances.
Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille
£145 for 50ml
Top Notes – Tobacco Leaf, Spices
Middle Notes – Tonka Bean, Tobacco Flower, Vanilla, Cocoa
Base Notes – Dry Fruit Accord, Woods
From the Tom Ford Private Blend collection, Tobacco Vanille is a dark, thick fog of a fragrance. The tobacco note is glorious, smelling very natural and complemented by the Vanilla and Tonka Bean which add a smooth sweetness to the dry down.
The longevity on this is unbeatable – I can apply this at 8am and still smell it 12 hours later. It is expensive, but this is one instance where the fragrance really is worth every penny – two sprays is more than enough, so 50ml will last a long time, and it clings to clothes particularly well. I usually spray my collar and cuffs to ensure it sticks around.
It’s a dark fragrance, so it’s suited to the evening particularly well. It’s perhaps not a date scent as some might consider it a little overpowering, but for an evening out with friends or family it’s perfect.
I’d wear this: With a suit, for an evening meal in winter.
Davidoff Cool Water
£31.95 for 200ml
Top Notes – Peppermint, Musk, Amber, Lavender, Orange
Middle Notes – Jasmine, Oakmoss, Geranium, Sandalwood
Base Notes – Amber, Musk, Sandalwood, Cedar
This is the classic aquatic fragrance. Formulated in 1988, it’s remained virtually unchanged for decades, and with good reason. It’s very fresh, it smells clean and bright, and is a universal crowd-pleaser. You mightn’t get any compliments because it flies under the radar – it doesn’t project itself very far – it is an Eau de Toilette after all – but you can rest assured that anybody getting close will be pleasantly surprised. This is the most versatile fragrance on the list, and is incredible value from Amazon.
I’d wear this: Anywhere. All year-round, on any occasion.
Dior Homme Intense
£75 for 100ml
Top Notes – Lavender
Middle Notes – Iris, Ambrette Seed
Base Notes –Cedarwood, Vetiver, Vanilla
Another fragrance that gets a lot of praise from online forums, Dior Homme Intense is a woody, floral fragrance with incredible staying power. I’d read that many people compare it to the smell of a women’s handbag – lipstick and powdery makeup – and they weren’t wrong. The Iris note definitely announces itself. But strangely this isn’t a feminine fragrance by any measure, it’s powerful and sumptuous, the kind of scent you’d wear on a cold Autumn night – it invites people to get closer.
This fragrance has lasted an entire day on my skin, and I still get compliments 8-10 hours after applying. It’s a very good price at around £50 for 50ml.
I’d wear this: At work during the week. Not overpowering, but strong enough to last all day.
Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio
£48 for 50ml
Top Notes – Jasmine, Rosemary
Middle Notes – Persimmon Fruits, Marine Notes
Base Notes – Cedar, Patchouli, White Musk, Rose
I almost wasn’t going to include this on the list as it’s a similar aquatic to Cool Water, but it’s got a few differences that make it a great alternative, and a fantastic fragrance in its own right.
It’s not quite as aquatic as Cool Water, thanks to the fruity and Patchouli notes, and on my skin, it smells more floral than aquatic. It’s undoubtedly fresh, and would be appropriate all year-round, but to me it smells like a crisp winter morning.
I’d wear this: Any time in summer.
£99 for 30ml
Top Notes – Blackcurrant, Italian Bergamot, French Apples, Pineapple
Middle Notes – Rose, Dry Birch, Moroccan Jasmine, Patchouli
Base Notes – Musk, Oak Moss, Ambergris, Vanilla
Aventus is included in practically every ‘top fragrance’ list in existence, and with good reason. It is glorious. The first time I smelled this, my mouth watered. It smells very unique, and there have been instances where somebody has walked past me and I’ve been able to identify Aventus quite easily.
It feels like a modern, youthful fragrance, but executed by a house with hundreds of years’ experience. The only thing I would change about this fragrance is the longevity – sadly I’m only able to get around three or four hours from Aventus without needing to reapply it. Truthfully though, it smells so good I can overlook this.
It isn’t cheap, at just shy of £100 for 30ml, but it smells as expensive as it is. It feels grown-up, but thoroughly modern and unlike anything else on the market. Due to the price, this is definitely one to try before you commit to a full bottle. Either way you won’t be disappointed.