Over the past few years I’ve gradually accumulated some fragrances targeted at the male gender that I have decided are no longer necessary on my shelf. I’ll talk about three of those today since they will soon heading out of my collection. These three are not the only “male fragrances” that I own and wear, but they are indeed all freshies – not my favourite genre.
Versace Man eau Fraiche
This is a woody aquatic launched in 2007 via perfumer Olivier Cresp. The “eau fraiche” terminology is a sign that a) it’s going to be even lighter than cologne in its concentration and b) it’s not going to last very long. Both A and B are positives in this case, as I am NOT a fan of this juice. It’s a marine fragrance, and that aquatic quality rarely floats my boat, although I admit to exceptions.
- lemon, bergamot, carambola (star fruit), cardamom, Brazilian rosewood,
- Cedar, tarragon, pepper, sage,
- musk, woodsy notes, saffron, amber, sycamore
Those notes are admittedly interesting. Star fruit? Tarragon, sage, saffron, and sycomore? I should at least appreciate that mix. And it’s Mr. Cresp’s creation, too. But alas, thought I am finally used to eating seaweed after living in Japan this long, I still don’t appreciate ocean-inspired perfumes. The bottle is certainly no selling point, either. It is on brand, though – Tacky Versace. I can see a private pool on Venice beach. Tight euro bathing briefs in gold and silver print on men with orangey tanned skin and chest hair. Those men wiggle their bountiful bums as they recline on blue glass and porcelain pool flooring.
If I can get past that (and I don’t mean the image; I mean the aquatic smell), I get something bright and zingy… but it also obnoxious and cloying. Sorry, at it’s worst it’s vomit-inducing glue sticks dipped in lemon detergent and slimy seaweed. But hey, on a hot summer day, this might smell good to me on someone else.
Nino Cerutti 1881
Next in my line up is 1881 by Nino Cerutti, an aromatic fougere from Martin Gras launched back in 1990.
- juniper, cypress, lavender, bergamot, galbanum, basil,
- ylang-ylang, cassia, lily-of-the-valley, rose,
- pine tree, sandalwood, patchouli, pepper
This smells how you think it should be based on the notes given. Not an exciting scent to me, but more classic – in a good way. The juniper and cypress are definitely forward and that prevents it from being over-generic, but nonetheless is does fall into the boring freshie gentlemen category for me with the bergamot and basil. The floral notes lend a sophistication to the fragrances and coupled with the lavender and herbs, do remind me of the early 90s male fragrances. Seeing as we are now 40 years later, perhaps this fragrance is not so generic by today’s standards. It’s an easy non-offensive, moderate-performing grab and go – very versatile, but not particularly youthful, if that is what you are after. And a redeeming quality it has is the price point. You can probably find this 50 ml bottle for around 30 USD. If you are not too obsessed with fragrance but want to smell decent and don’t want to break the bank, this is an option. I however, plan to pass this on the individual who raved about it to me.
Al Haramain L’Aventure
OK, now we have Al Haramain’s L’Aventure, which was release in 2016. Fresh pineapple, apple, and black current laced with a crapload of bergamot and lemon, and infused with smoke and herby… almost sweaty, metallic spices, and then it settles down into a woodsy, birch and amber base. It’s a Creed Aventus clone for sure, especially on the dry down. In fact, unless money is not a big deal for you, don’t bother with Aventus – this will do. It’s not a perfect clone. It’s more chemical, with far less refined ingredients, but the vibe? It’s close, and generally this is a versatile fragrance. The performance is average, thought strong at first, but it does fall into a skin scent fast on me about a couple of hours. I think it’s better on clothes than skin. Even though it’s a freshie fruit fragrance, this does work in winter, perhaps due to the powerful start. It’s nonetheless hard to cause offense, although I imagine it could. In 2019 an intense version of this came out, but I’ve not sniffed that version. Apparently, it’s the same but, surprise – just more intense.
- lemon, bergamot, elemi,
- woody notes, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley
- musk, patchouli, amber
Elemi, by the way, is like frankincense in a way. It’s “terpenic” meaning the smell is typified by fresh pine needles or clean greenness with citrusy and coriander undertones.
The bottle is an ugly fingerprint magnet, with a rubber dust-attracting thingy on the top. It’s unmaintained 60s brutalist architecture that is unpleasant to handle and made of cheap plastic. But for the price, which is less than 50 USD, no worries! It’s what’s inside that counts anyways.
I can see how many a man might think that this or the thing it’s trying to copy is the cat’s meow in masculinity, but a) I don’t think scents have a gender and b) speaking for for heterosexual women, I feel pretty fragrances on men can do better job than this (but really I can only speak for myself). Attracting a partner, whatever gender, might not be your goal with fragrance; it’s certainly not mine. But if it is and you’re a guy – just know that this scent is not the sure thing it’s hyped up to be. At the end of the day, wear what you love!
One reason I don’t prioritize fresh frags – even the quality stuff – is that they can so easily sway into kitchen cleaner territory, I feel. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing. In any case, I think I will decant this L’Aventure into a more palatable container that also fits more comfortably in the hand, and share it with my pineapple-loving friends. It is objectively a decent smell, but not in any way sexy to me. Maybe on the right person.