Thursday, November 24th, 2011

By Sam, Fragrance Contributor

Sam is am 18-year-old freshman at New York University, who is double majoring in Russian Literature/Language and Psychology with a minor in Vocal Performance. Were you to seek him out outside of class, you might find him brushing up on his fencing techniques (épée) at the local academy preparing to try out for NYU’s Division I after a two-year hiatus from a national team. He may be on set at a photoshoot, pursuing his career as high fashion model (you just might spot him walking the runways of NYFW soon!). Or he could be restaurant hopping, hitting up Balthazar for their terrine de lapin, Momofuku for a quick pork bun, and Café Boloud’s lounge side for a cocktail and hideously overpriced dessert. And maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch him belting out “Later” (from “A Little Night Music”) or “Purpose” (courtesy of “Avenue Q”) in the streets or dorm halls. But you can always catch him breaking his diet and sorting though a bag of almond M&M’s, snagging only the blue and green ones. Yellow if he’s desperate!

Must-Have Colognes For a Man Who Likes to Smell Different

It’s becoming a disturbing trend in the fragrance world for companies to rush out new colognes and perfumes simply to have a new bottle in their repertoire. But if you test it alongside other scents you could pull off any shelf, you won’t be able to detect much of a difference. Unfortunately, fragrance producers (as the tricky, conniving beings they are) have found out and distilled what sells to the masses and tend to stick to tried-and-true formulas and notes, throwing in only minor variations that are hardly noticeable amongst the muddled mix of generic woods and too-smooth leathers.

While it may be hard to find interesting, unique fragrances outside of niche perfumery houses or breaking the bank for gilded bottles, there are certainly a few you won’t have to search too hard for that fit this bill. And ladies, take note: although most of these are marketed as masculine colognes, many of them can be worn easily by a confident woman.

Some of these colognes are not going to appeal to many, especially those used to the overly-blended, generic scents that plague the market today.   These few special concoctions will become must-haves for anyone who enjoys taking a risk or simply wants to smell different than anyone else.

  • BVLGARI Black Eau de Toilette Spray ($54.00) | This cologne, housed in an interesting, round phial encircled by a black tire, has notes of black tea, heat, and rubber. It brings to mind contrasting images of hot asphalt and an attic in a summer home filled with old books and wooden chests of curios and mementos collected over decades. This one happens to be one my signature scents.
  • Jean Paul Gaultier Fleur du Mâle ($77.00) | Even the bottle—a well-sculpted male torso—is interesting and different enough. With notes of powdery orange blossom, straw, and something vaguely sweet, this cologne projects sophistication and a subtle hedonism, for a fifties gentleman who enjoys his pleasures and the Italian Piazza.
  • Dior Fahrenheit 1.7 oz Eau de Toilette Spray ($54.00) | An interesting scent that many will dismiss based off of its odd description. And they would be foolish to do so. A powdery, slightly peppery opening smoothly develops into a unique combination of nutmeg and violet. These two intertwine and produce a scent that makes me unfailingly think of an old telephone pole coated in tar on a boardwalk at dusk. There’s a bit of that hot, raw tar smell combined with the saltiness of crushed shells and the warmth of a a setting sun radiating off white sand.
  • Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche Eau De Parfum Spray ($175.00) | A round, luxurious scent that calls to mind ancient Middle Eastern harems with its syrupy amber notes and smoky incense. Although it is sweet, there is nothing gourmand about this scent save for the slight hint of vanilla that occasionally peeks through. It’s an ethereal, dreamy cologne for those who prefer an more than an edge of mystery and allure.
  • Bang by Marc Jacobs Edt Spray 3.4 Oz For Men ($74.00) | Probably my favorite 2010 men’s cologne release, BANG is a unique, aggressive cologne that screams sex and danger. An opening heavy with spicy cinnamon straight from the bark of the tree develops into a mixture of black, white, and pink peppercorn with a bit of tobacco, reminiscent of extremely expensive cigarettes smoked only by Russian aristocracy in black designer button-downs and indigo wash slim jeans at an exclusive art opening downtown.
  • Philosykos Eau De Toilette ($88.00) | If you own one fig cologne, it should be this. A sweet creamy fruitiness is tempered with earthy greenness that may as well be the soil that lies of the base of the elegant fig tree itself. Or rather, this cologne is simply the experience of sitting below that tree, biting lazily into the soft flesh of the fruit plucked from the branches at the peak of ripeness distilled and bottled.

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21 thoughts on “Must-Have Colognes For a Man Who Likes to Smell Different

  1. Dame Elizabeth

    Trust me – Tom Ford Black Orchid on men is incredible.

    Great selection here by the way!

    • Sam

      I adore Black Orchid, and it almost made the cut for these 5 (I started out with about 12), but I just couldn’t nail down what made it so unique (even though it is). Perhaps that’s its appeal: its mysterious allure haha

  2. Marian

    I love his taste in fragrance! I own quite a few of these and must agree wholeheartedly!

    • Sam

      Which ones are your favs from here? I’d love to know which of these are as popular with the women as with my male-minded nose! :)

  3. katherine

    Thank you so much for this timely review! Timely for me :) I am gifting fragrances this year for Christmas to my Children and was stumped for my Sons. I’ll print this off and we can work down the list until I find one that they enjoy. Have a happy holidays to all!

    • Sam

      You may also want to check out John Varvatos Artisan and Dior Eau Sauvage… Two of the other colognes I had initially included but had cut out by the final five. They’re slightly less appropriated for niche-loving-noses, but still fantastic and unique in their own rights. Here are the descriptions I initially wrote for them. Lemme know if they sound good! :)

      Eau Sauvage: This cologne is sophistication and minimalism at its height. It was made for someone who shops for cologne by scent rather than the picture that advertises it. Aromatic and elegant citrus at its finest, while wearing this, you’ll project a powerful air of high-brow, clean sexuality.

      Artisan: The woven straw bottle should be enough to hint at the fresh scent contained within. John Varvatos has somehow managed to capture the essence of spring/summer in the most realistic portrayal of clementines and tangerines you’ll ever find. It’s a juicy, ripe scent that, while it has little development, is unique enough in its central notes to deserve a purchase.

      • alison

        eau sauvage sounds perfect for my long-time boyfriend. sophisticated and simple, he likes fine things but is so particular – and hates labels and brand-appeal. high-brow… yeah. i need to track this puppy down!

      • mumtaza

        once again, “high-brow, clean sexuality”, love this writing!bravo.

  4. Amy

    Oh, God. I HATE Bang! It smells so overwhelmingly like pepper that I sneezed. o_o

    I like Fahrenheit, though. My ex wears that, haha.

    • Sam

      BANG is definitely one of those colognes that people either love or hate. I’ve rarely heard of someone being apathetic towards it.

      I’ve never found the pepper THAT overwhelmingly intense… However, I’ve heard tell that some bottles that have gone bad tend to smell like the black pepper you’d find in your kitchen and are simply awful. Perhaps this is what you sampled? I dunno, but I’d definitely give it another sniff (from a different bottle of course!) before you dismiss it. :)

  5. Philosykos is by the brand Diptyque… all the other brands are listed except for this one…

  6. Good contribution Sam. You have a bright future ahead.

  7. I am a girl and I wear Philosykos, it is the best scent ever! I am obsessed with fig scents and this one is just the very best :)

    • Sam

      Philosykos is definitely the most gender-neutral of the five, which is part of what I love about it. It’s creamy, but bright and juicy, and blurs a lot of lines that many fragrances tend to keep rigidly to.

  8. Alison

    I heard the last one can smell really grassy/earthy, but I want to give it a try. Thanks for the suggestions; I’d love to see more cologne pics from you.

  9. Frances

    I adore fragrance posts!

    Love that you love Ambre Fetiche and Black. Black truly is one of the most dangerously sexy smells I’ve ever come across.

    As for Bang, I could never get past the vulgar advertising campaign to try the juice out of m’self. Is it really that good?

    • Sam

      It’s definitely worth at LEAST a test run. It’s unlike any other fragrance I’ve ever worked with, and I honestly can’t even draw a comparison to anything. BANG also makes a fantastic layering fragrance if it’s too aggressive for you. I like mixing it with Dior Fahrenheit to pull out some of the smokier elements in it, and with BVLGARI Black to emphasize the heat and downplay a little of the sweetness.

  10. Nelson

    What a great collection you have here! I share the same sentiment when it comes to fragrances. I personally love L’ Eau d’ Issey Pour Homme and Shiseido Zen for Men. I would like to know your take on them. (PS: We are of the same age =D)

  11. Veronica

    This is a great list. I quite liked Fleur de Mâle, almost to the point of buyng it for myself. I’m probably in the minority in that sweet scents tend to be really overwhelming to me, so I tend to prefer the sharper scents of cologne. I’ve been looking for one that comes across a little less gendered, so Philosykos may be a must-try.

  12. mumtaza

    i am allergic to perfume and in general hate it. conversely, i have an extremely keen sense of smell and am strongly effected by the scents of the people and objects in my life. this article made me want to go roll around in perfume in the aisles of Macy’s! fantastic writing! pepper, tar, musk, tobacco and figs, indeed!