Fragrance Family Friday: Fougère

As part of our continuing feature, Fragrance Family Friday, today we’re burrowing knee-deep in shady ferns for Fougère

For anyone who’s wondering, you say it ‘foo-jair’ (with the ‘j’ a little soft – almost ‘foo-shair’…) – we thought we’d start with that, because not only can some of the fragrance families be a bit confusing, even pronouncing them can get the better of us at times!

Now that’s out the way, let’s go deep into the shady undergrowth of this fabulous – and still-evolving – fragrance category.

Although there are many modern variations cropping up, a fougère will invariably feature lavender, geranium, vetiver, bergamot, oakmoss and coumarin in the blend. Fougère Royale as the first of them, from Houbigant in 1882. Fougère takes its name from the French for ‘fern’ – and to understand what these ferny, green fragrances smell like, here is an absolute classic, now thankfully revived in a heart-warming way, by Milano Centro

Milano Centro HIM was showcased first at the Beauty International show at Olympia in June 1989, by business partners and interior designers Dean Tatum and the late Matthew Bright. Inspired by ‘the classic sophistication of all things Italian’, they launched with just one fragrance – Milano Cento HIM – a fabulous evocation of a fougère that smells like a cool, shady walk through a forest.

What does it smell like? Imagine citrus luminescence sparkling in the tops notes with bergamot and peititgrain, giving way to a herbaceously dappled breeze of rosemary, lavender and basil. As it warms, you’re swathed in the musky warmth of smooth sandalwood and suavely sprinkled spicy notes of clove, cinnamon and amber atop a darkly glimmering patchouli base.

When Milano Cento – the perfect, drop-dead sexy man smell – later disappeared from the shelves (as many fragrances do, alas…) it could have been a mere scent memory, if it wasn’t for Dean Tatum’s wife Valissa and son, Jasper. They had the idea to recreate a single bottle for Dean’s 50th birthday: the ultimate journey back in time. As any perfume world insider knows, however: it’s not that simple. ‘Trying to find someone to produce for us, in the small quantities we were after, was quite a challenge. It was only after we called a few stockists, who said they remembered the brand and asked when it was coming back, that we had the idea to relaunch it.’

We’re so glad they did. This is a fougère fragrance that smells classic in a timeless way, rather than simply reminiscent of the era it originates from – it’s grown-up, insouciant, perfect for any occasion.

Want to try it for yourself? Find Milano Centro HIM in our Explorer Men’s Discovery Box – along with SIXTEEN other fragrances to explore!

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

By Suzy Nightingale

Fragrance families: do you know your 'chypre' from your 'fougere'?

What the giddy aunt is a ‘chypre‘?
Not exactly the most immediately evocative word to get your head around when describing a type of fragrance, but that’s what we’ve been landed with and so that’s what we continue to say. But how many people outside the world of perfumery could tell you what it actually means?
When touring the country talking to perfume lovers across the UK, our co-founders Jo Fairley and Lorna McKay asked this very question just to see, and out of the many hundreds who came to see them, only a couple of people put their hand up to venture an answer. Explains Jo, ‘…chypre is widely acknowledged as the most sophisticated (and beautiful) of fragrance families – and it’s a term the perfume world certainly believes is understood by all and sundry.’
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In fact, we dedicated an entire feature in our magazine, The Scented Letter, just to explaining the mysteries surrounding this scent category – so clearly something is amiss and requires further explanation. Indeed, there are all sorts of terms bandied about in perfumery that baffle the best of us at times. And what’s more – nobody entirely agrees on the ‘rules’ of which perfumes belong in which fragrance family at all.
What about Fougere, Oriental or Gourmand, Woody and Floriental – where to begin…?
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Well, we’ve put together a handy guide to some of the most frequently used fragrance families, with a brief history of their evolution and some iconic examples of perfumes to try in those categories, to see which family you are most frequently drawn to and perhaps discover some new ones to try. So why not get your nose stuck in and give it a go?
Written by Suzy Nightingale