Scents for the Gents: The Autumn Edition
In the Midfield's Men's Lifestyle Editor, Jon RIch, shares his fragrance tips:
Ahh, fall - summer’s silent killer. In an unsuspecting moment, we go from hot, easy, four day weekends to utter chaos among the yellow, orange and brown leaves that fall dead to the ground. And, Earth so selfishly drifts further away from the Sun in its orbit. Just like that, with the shorter days and colder nights, our tastes change.
In July, all we want is iced coffee, crisp cocktails and white wine. But come October, we inexplicably crave warmer things, like hot drinks, red wine and, of course, pumpkin spice this and that, including, brace yourself, the 420 calorie/sugar bomb Pumpkin Spice Latte. The breezy, summer Tinder flings slowly morph into creepy “Netflix and chill” Friday nights. In short, the seasonal change significantly affects our biology, our sense of smell included. Whereas in the summer, we crave the salty, breezy smells of the beach, we now begin to yearn for wood and spice. That means it's time to change up your signature scent. But, please don't fret. We must embrace this change and always strive to smell our very best.
With colder weather scents for guys, my simple recommendation is find those that focus on woods and leather. They go together like…birds of a feather? Yes sir, they sure do. For woods, think of the dry, spicy, earthy smells that emanate from a box of cigars, mixing in the smoky sweetness of tobacco. For leather, think of, well…leather. Motorcycle jackets, wallets, belts and of course, the interior of your dream Porsche or Maserati. Typically, in designing warmer scents, perfumers surround woods and leather with subtle notes that can alleviate their heaviness.
Fruits: orange, apples and dates
Floral: lavender, jasmine, violet and yes, even rose
Herbal: basil, rosemary, fig leaf and thyme
Spice: cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper, cumin, tonka bean and vanilla
Grassy: patchouli, vetiver and tobacco
Smoky, incense notes: labdanum, cistus/labdanum (everlasting flower), benzoin, frankincense, elemi and whatever else comprises “incense"
This can all seem a bit confusing, so with that, let me give you five of my favorite scents for autumn.
For the romantic biker: Vintage by John Varvatos (2006) – sweet, spicy leather. This is one of the more solid, impressive mainstream designer scents to ever hit the shelves. It’s a seductive mix of woods, light leather and just a touch of sweet tobacco. Sounds pretty nice, right? The top notes prominently feature juniper and lavender for a dash of cool, herbal woodiness. The heart is highlighted by smoky, sweet patchouli, woody balsam and jasmine for pungency. The base notes bring home the bacon (not literally) with sweet, dry vanilla tonka bean, heady herbal tobacco and suede. Perfect for a late October date night, yet safe for office wear.
For the introspective world traveler: Kyoto by Comme des Garcons (2003) – dry woody incense. Perhaps the most popular and easy to like of CDG’s storied “Incense Series” collection of scents, Kyoto is meant to smell like the smoky woods and incense of a Japanese Shinto temple. I have to say, I’ve been to a Shinto temple in Tokyo, and this scent is pretty spot on. It’s a beautiful cool, dry incense, with serious lasting power. With notes of incense, cypress oil, coffee, teak wood, vetiver, patchouli, amber, everlasting flower and Virginian cedar, Kyoto is fairly linear, meaning there’s not a whole lot of development, but it's consistently pretty. And, it's great for all occasions, especially when it’s cool out.
For the Clive Owen in the movie “Closer” wannabe (5 o’clock shadow and chest hair required): Bois D’Orage/French Lover by Frederic Malle (2007) – wet, burning forest. On the more pricey side ($265!), Bois D’Orage smells like a man smoking a cigar in the woods after a rainstorm. After all, Bois D’Orage literally translates to thunderstorm wood in French and the company describes it simply as having “unusual vegetal animality.” Oooh la la! Created for Monsieur Malle by famed perfumer, Pierre Bourdon (the man behind Cool Water, I kid you not), Bois D’Orage is a wet, woody, slightly smoky and slightly animalistic (read: masculine) scent. Notes include angelica root, galbanum, cedar, vetiver, iris, incense, pimento and musk. Wear this to drinks at a nice hotel bar, paired with a nice dark suit, no tie.
For the SOHO BOHO (maybe with a sexy man bun/dad bod… on second thought, nah): Patchouli 24 by Le Labo (2006) - sweet, smoky, tarry leather. This is one of the only scents I could describe as “hypnotic.” Patchouli 24 is a simply composed, yet complex fragrance from artisanal, niche house, NYC-based Le Labo, which will compose and personalize your bottle while you wait. While Patchouli 24’s only listed notes are birch, patchouli, vanilla and styrax (an incense-like resin), it surrounds you like a swirling cloud of dry, smoky vanilla incense. But don’t let the presence of vanilla fool you – and keep in mind I normally can’t stand vanilla in scents – here it’s transcendent. More woody earthy than sweet vanilla, its qualities are enhanced by the other notes. Like most niche brands, Le Labo uses very high quality oils and the scent is excellent and lasts. Wear this to the next pop-up warehouse party in Bushwick, BK (tattoos encouraged, but not necessary).
For the young, urban professional warrior-hunk, e.g., yours truly: Terre D’Hermès by Hermès Paris (2006) – dry, warm woods and rocks. Maybe I’m a little biased…wait, actually, I’m definitely biased because this is my go-to everyday scent. I wear it morning and night, 365 days a year. I shower in it (literally – I have the shower gel). To me and countless others, Terre is a revolutionary fragrance in modern perfumery. It’s openly made with a synthetic chemical called Iso E Super, which is an effervescent, woody amber used in a lot of modern scents. However, to me, Terre smells very natural, like a wet forest after the rain when the sky clears, and the sun warms the earth. It's a warm, woody scent with hints of incense, grass and rocks (one of the notes is “flint”). The composition is highlighted by notes of grapefruit, black pepper, bay rose, geranium, cedar, flint, patchouli, vetiver and benzoin. My favorite part of Terre is that it leaves you subtly wafting its woody glow all day. I’m also a big fan of its wide-spread availability, which includes being able to buy bottles online. This makes restocking your supply easier. Wear this everywhere.
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Jon Rich is In the Midfield's Men's Lifestyle Editor. He is also a practicing attorney in NYC.