A quarter of a century later [after the 1994 launch of CK One], market research company Statista found that 51 percent of new fragrance launches in 2018 were for fragrances that were marketed as “unisex”—compared to 17 percent in 2010. And we’re continuing to explore what it means to smell masculine, feminine, and all of the gender and sexuality expressions in between.
“We’re at the beginning of a revolution,” says Phil Riportella, co-founder of the online-only fragrance brand Snif. “The types of fragrances an individual enjoys don’t have to be tied to gender anymore, but instead are about what an individual likes.”
While Cari Casteel was watching Super Bowl ads about a decade ago, she didn’t expect to find the inspiration for her PhD thesis.
An Old Spice commercial played and “the man your man could smell like” catchphrase caught Casteel’s attention. Her mind wandered, and she started to think about what men usually smell like compared to what women usually smell like, and how personal care products help to construct those scents and connect with ideas about gender.
— Read more in An ‘olfactory identity’: UB researcher studies the history of deodorant at University of Buffalo News Center.
“With no specific consumer in mind, we can focus on conveying emotions through ingredients,” Morillas says. In that way, he continues, “fragrances have shifted to reflect more of what people want to feel.” And these days, if you want to feel like a chiseled centaur, that’s okay, too.
— Perfumer Alberto Morillas on the rise of "gender-agnostic" fragrance. Read more in The Rise and Rise of Gender-Fluid Fragrance at Vogue.
It’s a question of timing because what is ‘masculine’ today may not have been ‘masculine’ a decade ago and it may not be ‘masculine’ two or three decades from now. The idea or ‘masculinity’ and ‘feminity,’ they are conventions and they are concepts that evolve with society.
When I started working in perfume 25 years ago, fruity notes were not appealing for men. What I mean by fruity notes- it could be pineapple or pear or apple, which are very commonly used in male perfume now but were not popular in male perfumes 25 years ago.
— Perfumer Francis Kurkdjian talks about gender and fragrance and his new fragrance, Maison Francis Kurkdjian L’Homme À la Rose. Read more in Francis Kurkdjian on creating a rose perfume for men at Wallpaper.
When I asked Philippe Guerlain if Jicky was made for women or men, he looked at me and said, ‘Probably for men, but by about 1900 it became clear that men weren’t buying it, so we put it in a new bottle shaped like a champagne cork for women.’ However, about 10 years ago Guerlain asked me to change the gender classification again.