As the “publish” button was pressed for this post, I heard the frantic, desperate opening words of Etta James’ Stop the Wedding swirling in my head: “Wait!…WAIT!”
But it was too late…there was no turning back.
Choosing ten men’s fragrances that have been released in the last couple years and deeming them “the best” was difficult. I’ve certainly owned and sampled more than my share of perfumes over the years, and I’ve reached a Perfumed State of Grace (i.e.: I’m jaded), but I’ve certainly not smelled every masculine fragrance released in 2009-2010. Has anyone? (Many of these unsniffed perfumes loom large in my imagination: Miller et Bertaux Om, Christian Dior La Collection Couturier Parfumeur, Honoré des Prés We love NY scents, and The Different Company De Bachmakov.)
My list of best new fragrances for men is personal, and it isn’t categorized with available spots for citrus, chypre, sport, “dressy,” mainstream, or niche perfumes; I've simply included what I like. If you can’t believe a certain fragrance is on, or is missing from, the list: GOOD! I’d hate to think I’m predictable.
Please comment if you feel a great fragrance is absent from this list, but if “top 10-type” lists drive you crazy and keep you up at night: "Wait!… WAIT!" ... don’t torture yourself by reading mine.
Best New Fragrances for Men
Acqua di Parma Colonia Essenza makes me want to get a haircut, wear a tie and stand straight…without making me feel stodgy or “square;” its wonderful citrus aromas lead to pale flower notes (neroli, lily of the valley, rose) and a powdery “white amber” and musk finish.
Atelier Cologne Trèfle Pur is a sprightly, sunny-warm scent that feels “alive” on my skin; it always makes me happy with its bitter orange, moss and unusual “clover” aromas.
Byredo Bal d’Afrique is tangy and a bit “hot and bothered”; I love its lemon, floral-herbal, vetiver and musky wood-amber notes.
Comme des Garçons + Monocle Scent Two: Laurel is an invigorating perfume full of bay laurel (a scent reminiscent of marigold), cedar and peppery frankincense.
Costume National Homme is a spicy, interesting wood fragrance, so beautifully blended even my bête noire, cinnamon, is pleasing.
John Varvatos Artisan presents a lustrous citrus-rich floral fragrance for men — I really like the mix of pungent fruit, orange blossom, Indian murraya, and belambre; I prefer this, the “original,” to Artisan Black.
L’Artisan Traversée du Bosphore surprised me. I’m not attracted to many gourmande fragrances but this sheer “diet” pistachio scent won me over. I think of it as the sorbet version of sticky, heavy Turkish sweets, flavored with nuts, rose essence, fruit (and yes, the pâtissier has a cigarette dangling from his mouth adding a bit of tobacco scent to the dessert experience).
Le Labo Oud 27 is my favorite oud fragrance; its mix of saffron, wood-incense notes and oud is powerful and, if smelled up close, startling. The oud note is given an off-center presentation — not too smooth, not too slick; it had an edge.
Marc Jacobs Bang is one of my favorite men’s fragrances of 2010…mainstream or niche. I love its peppery “tingle”…pepper so intense and fresh it has a floral character.
Nasomatto Black Afgano is a semi-sweet, semi-smoky “liqueur-incense-tobacco” fragrance; its rich notes blend perfectly with cold weather to produce a feeling of well-being — and it brings back good memories of all the pipe smokers I’ve known.
Note: top crown images [cropped] via Wikimedia Commons.