Let’s hear it for the boys! Men’s fragrances we’ll be borrowing

Looking for a great Father’s Day gift, a perfumed present for a loved one, or a whole wardrobe of scented treats for yourself? The Explorer Men’s Discovery Box is has new releases, much-loved classics and niche perfume houses, and is packed with an unprecedented SEVENTEEN FRAGRANCES to explore!

There was a time when all fragrances were gender-free – men happily wafted roses and violets and musk, just as women wore (and even drank) Colognes – and we didn’t get our non-gender-specific undergarments in a twist about what was ‘correct’ to wear.

Then in the West, certainly, we saw adverts and packaging tied to ‘Men’s Fragrances’, and these tended to be either no-nonsense ‘I have showered and am clean and that should be good enough’ scents, or the more hairy-chested, gritted-teeth type fragrances that promised cliff-diving, jungle-hacking thrills with every spritz.

Some houses then launched ‘unisex’ fragrances, of a one-size-fits-all variety, and though many proved popular, niche brands, for the main part, have more recently led the way by allowing the term ‘gender free’ or ‘gender fluid’ to describe a still characterful scent that’s led by personality rather than genitals – however you choose to define yourself.

But of course, many fragrances are still ascribed as ‘masculine’ or ‘for men’, because such monumental changes take time to filter through, and because many fragrance shoppers still like to be guided toward a certain category when looking for what to sniff next.

Here at The Perfume Society, we believe you should try as many fragrances as possible, and wear whatever makes you happy, no matter what the bottle says. But we also wanted to usefully group together a hand-picked selection of some really interesting fragrances that lean toward the more ‘masculine’ side of things. Not only does The Explorer Men’s Discovery Box make a great gift, but we know a huge number of women who, like ourselves, enjoy wearing more ‘masculine’ fragrances – particularly in the summer – we think it’s as sexy as wearing an oversized white cotton shirt, or ‘boyfriend jeans’.

So how many of these scents will you be ‘borrowing’ (um, actually keeping for yourself) from his shelf…?

Acqua di Parma Colonia: A Tuscan holiday in a bottle, this is an all-time classic for a reason. As Colonia unfolds you find yourself entering into an elegant floral-herbaceous space, as if you’ve wondered from one Italian idyl into another. Finally the warmth of the woody base notes comes through, wrapping around you like a whisper-light cashmere shawl as the sun goes down over the riviera. Bellissimo!

Creed Aventus Cologne: Just as you enter this fragrance’s spicy beginnings, its woody heart or its warming base BOOMS something you didn’t anticipate. The surprise appearance of heady patchouli part-way through for instance, or the balmy resin-rush of styrax as the Cologne dries down. We salute this fresh spin on bestselling Aventus, with fresh mandarin replacing pineapple of the classic, and long-lasting, fruity musk dry-down that resonates beautifully.

Zegna Integrity: Luminous pink pepper, invigorating spices and cleansing sage immediately stir up a feeling of transparency in the opening of this fragrance. An inviting heart of green notes and berries then dry down into fresh geranium and warm, enveloping amber – What an intriguing juxtaposition to try, we loved the sage and verdant heart, particularly, as it’s such a change from the heavier scents we’ve been wearing!

Zegna Passion: Lively notes of rum, cognac and resinous olibanum are skilfully combined in this creation from Ermengildo’s Elements of Man collection. As they calm and soften on the skin, exotic saffron and its warming base note partner amber ramp up the fragrance’s fiery energy. A complete delight from first spritz, this is a boozy delight that has us woozy with re-sniffing our wrists the whole day long. Utterly addictive.

Zegna Strength: When you need something completely grounding and soothing but with enough backbone to make you feel able to take on the world, this is your scent. Notes of oudh wood, smoke and pine needles envelop and fortify the tobacco here, while apricot and honey offer a kind and knowing smile. The perfect olfactory projection of strength and compassion, we think, and oh that delicious honey is so more-ish.

Zegna Talent: Bright beginnings come from Asian yuzu and Sichuan pepper. This segues into something altogether more confident and purposeful; a rhapsody of a bold black tea, seductive patchouli and smouldering cedarwood, a truly intriguing fragrance from Zegna’s Elements of Man collection, and it had us captivated between the smoky and zingy-fresh characteristics from the start.

Zegna Wisdom: The beautifully uncomplicated olfactory combination of oranges and lemons, light florals, musk and a little aromatic herbiness has become classic. Fresh, aromatic, soft and warm in equal measure, this interpretation of a Cologne-esque is note-perfect for any sex, and a far longer-lasting formula so that neroli freshness (happiness bottled) lasts with you all day.

Escentric Molecules Escentric 02: The molecule Ambroxan has a subtle, sensual quality with a radiant, long-lasting dry-down that swathes you in a tingling warmth that projects far behind you. Escentric 02 contains 13.5% Ambroxan in a formula designed to amplify its mineral note to the very best advantage – and it succeeds perfectly. It also contains hedione (green jasmine bud), a ‘gin and tonic’ accord, together with a hint of lemonade – completely wonderful to wear if you’re looking for a different summer scent. A so-wearable cult classic – find out why.

Jaguar Stance: The complex opening of invigorating spices mixed with sweet, fresh fruit introduces us to the Stance man — a multi-faceted and unpredictable character. Unfurling through a heart accord of vetiver, patchouli and cashmere wood, the sensory base of musk, amber and vanilla just vibrates with warmth, and for us, the cardamom sang through with the lusciousness of juicy apple – an all day neck-nuzzler for sure.

Memoize Imperia: Majestic ancient trees deliver robust woody notes entwined with forest-green ferns and moss. This timeless landscape tells tales of fortitude and wisdom. The scent meanders into a sun-dappled clearing, bathed in clear, sparkling citrus notes, mint and cleansing sage. Mesmerisingly layered, we found ourselves going back time and again as the jounery of the scent unfurled on the skin…

Mercedes Benz Select: The first zing of bergamot and blackcurrant immediately makes us feel charismatic, like attending a party and somehow being magically wittier while quaffing cocktails. And once the peppermint and apple heart gives way to the suave base of musk, Ambroxan, and patchouli, well… it’s time to put your dancing shoes on and sashay the night through.

Milano Centro Him: Fougère fragrances – ultra-green, herbaceous, resinous – have been slowly staging a comeback, re-imagined for a new generation with clever twists, updated notes, and a contemporary refinement. This much-loved quintessential fougère blockbuster from the 1980s – has now been re-launched and is seducing a new generation. It’s bracingly green – like a tall cool drink on a scorchingly hot day, and it’s just exactly what we’re loving wearing right now.

Alien Man Fusion: On first spritz you can almost feel the crackles of electric energy that flicker off this scent as bitter green coffee clashes with sparky spices like ginger and cardamom. In its finale, we really enjoyed the quiet, confident calm of velvety osmanthus flower, languid leather and smokey beechwood – so unique and really proving quite addictive in the office. It’s like wearing that vivid colour, somehow…

Parfums de Marly Percival: Inspired by King Louis XV and his ‘perfumed court’, here we zip straight to a zing of bergamot, mandarin and ultra-fresh aromatic watery notes, galloping to meet you like the scent’s mythical thoroughbred namesake. They then guide you into a mercurial, ever-moving heart of florals and spices, finally settling into a robust base of wood, musk and resinous fir. Invigorating as a pre-work gym session or a run through a forest, we’d rather be spritzing this and relaxing.

Replay Red Dragon: Tendrils of spices and peppers unfurl at first, followed closely by an elegantly bitter heart of geranium and tea. Warming white woods then swoop in to bring balance and harmony, while patchouli and vetiver mellow the accord out to perfection. What a surprise this was – so beautifully complex and perfectly balanced. We think the bottle’s rather fabulously Game of Thrones-esque in style, and wearing this certainly made us feel like flighting for the throne!

Sana Jardin Nubian Musk: Musk is featured to its full advantage this shareable creation from a ‘rising star’ sustainable fragrance company — a tactile, enticing note amplified in a passionate moment with heady florals, alpha vetiver, and creamy-sweet vanilla. Irresistible, seductive perfection. Completely exquisite – we fell hard for this house when they first launched, and feel this is the most ‘masculine’ of their scents. But we’ll definitely be keeping it to ourselves, thanks!

Tom Daxon Sicilian Wood: Close your eyes, inhale, and this fragrance will take you directly to a citrus grove in the southern Mediterranean. A sense of long, lazy beach-spent days, balmy Italian nights, with the intense heat through which citrus can so brilliantly cut like a knife. Daxon grew up with a perfume-industry mother, meeting the perfumers who now work for him when he was only five. No wonder he’s making such contemporary classics – masterpieces of modern luxury you’ll be ‘borrowing’ for good, we bet.

Apart from the seventeen fragrances you can fight it out with your gift-reciever for, there’s also TWO GROOMING PRODUCTS! The evocative Milano Cento Body Wash 30ml, to pair with the same fragrance in the box, along with Jack Black Double Duty Face Moisturiser SPF20.

Look, we’re not going to lie here. This box is so good you might just have to buy two instead of ‘sharing’…!

The Explorer Men’s Discovery Box £19 (or just £15 for VIP Club members)

By Suzy Nightingale


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