Meet The Best In Perfumes For Men
Introducing 5 classics fragrances for men that have been around longer than most of us.
One of the remarkable things about great perfumes is their extended half-life. Once established, a well-selling perfume is not simply forgotten. Similar to certain music that refuses to become old-fashioned even decades after its prime (think Beat It by Michael Jackson), some of the colognes for men can be just as timeless.
Just like with timeless gift ideas for men there is a handful of men’s perfumes that will fit into any individual style, regardless of time and age. In this article we are covering masculine evergreens that will hardly ever go out of style.
However, before we get to our hand-selected list we will need to fill our heads with wisdom. Let us start off with the very basics of perfume theory. Beginning with an introduction to concentration in perfume we get to the three fundamental components in any perfume. Mister William Arthur Poucher will then tell us what notes in your perfume will be the first ones to vanish rather quickly and which ones are the ones that will stick around.
Now educated on the topic, we finally get to the good stuff: The top 5 of mens perfumes including:
- their bottle design
- their creators
- their history
…and everything else that makes these fragrances some of the best perfumes for men that have ever been created.
Get ready for the best of Paco Rabanne, Giorgio Armani, Hugo Boss, Loris Azzuro as well as Zino Davidoff.
The Basics Of Fragrance Theory
What makes for a good perfume for men? Before anything else it is crucial to become familiar with the very basic concepts in regard to men’s perfumes.
Could you tell at the top of your hat what a term like Eau de Parfum actually stands for? Or what difference there is between an Eau Fraiche and an Eau
de Toilette? In order to shed some light into the darkness of perfume terminology we shall have a look at the infographics to your right revealing that these terms stand for the different degrees of concentration in the actual perfume. At 2-4% an Eau de Cologne will have a lesser degree of perfume essence dissolved in the carrier fluid of alcohol and water while an Eau de Parfum will feature about 4-5 times the amount. In case you wondered, deodorants are basically less sophisticated versions of perfume, featuring less components and an even lesser concentration of perfume essence.
The second most crucial insight into the sphre of men’s perfumes are notes. These refer to the particular material that has contributed to the perfume’s particular scent. Drawing from the introductory guide to fragrances on Realmenrealstyle.com we can first make out the three notes of perfumes (these go for both women’s and men’s perfumes)
- Top notes
- Middle (Heart) notes
- Base notes (fixers)
Just like the 5 types of concentration in perfumes the 3 types of notes display another degree, namely that of evaporation. Drop a drop (yeah, I know) of perfume on your skin and depending on the natural resource that was used in creating a certain scent of the fragrance that certain
scent will dissolve into the air at a different speed than other scents. In more simple terms: certain scents in the overal scent of your perfume will stay on your skin longer while others will ‘leave’ you much faster.
Top, Middle And Base Notes
In its core any perfume basically is a sophisticated combination of the three components of top, middle and base notes. Let’s take a closer look at these three fundamentals:
These are the first scents to be recognized by the nose.
Similar to the sense of taste that can pick up on a salty taste the fastest there are certain scents your nose can pick up the fastest. Not only are top notes the first to be recognized, they are also the first ones to leave your skin. Top notes are often flower- or spice-inspired scents that will easily mingle with your olfaction.
Examples of top notes:
Why are middle notes also refered to as heart notes? Because they are the heart and soul of any perfume and make for that one scent that you will ultimately link to the name of the perfume once you have worn it.
Time-wise, the middle notes step in once the top notes have evaporated, they stand in between the top notes and the base notes. With their well-rounded scents middle notes make for the core scent of a perfume. They also influence the base notes thate kick in the latest. In fact, the base notes’ evaporation in a perfume is so carefully engineered that base notes will only start to evaporate once top notes have gone entirely and middle notes started to bloom.
Examples of middle notes:
- Clary Sage
Base notes might come in the latest, but they are prone to stay the longest.
They build a bond with the middle notes and thus create the characteristic scent of any perfume. With their rich, deep and wholesome nature base notes really act like the bass notes of men’s perfume.
As fixers they are also prone to have their scent stay attached (‘fixed’) to your skin for the longest period of time possible while they are emitting their own fragrance at the slowest pace. With this insight in mind you can now tell what the Three Kings of the Gospel of Matthew brought to new-born Christ: gold, myrrh and clarity sage means they simply swapped the top note for gold and brought middle notes and base notes only – a combination tmust have made for quite the manly scent as we can tell by now.
Examples of base notes:
What new-born Christ was given essentially resembled: men’s perfume
Evaporation: Meet W.A. Poucher
To say that creating perfume was an art of its own would almost be an understatement. Just to give you an idea of how copmplex the process actually is have a look a t the monography on Perfumes, Cosmetics and Soaps. Volume II: The Production, Manufacture and Application of Perfumes that was written by photographer, explorer and, indeed, travel writer (Wandering in Wales, 1949) William Arthur Poucher (1891–1988).
The Index Of Evaporation
In his book Mr Poucher even establishes an index of evaporation, assigning an index number on a scale of 1 (fastest evaporation) to 100 ( slowest evaporation) to every imaginable resource used for making perfume. Here, top notes like Limes (2) and Corainder (3) come with a high-pitched speed of evaporation while resources like orris (90) or Angelica root (94) seem to survive on your skin even after a long and hot shower.
Genreally speaking, top notes will range in the top 14 of the index, middle notes from 15 to 60 while anything from 61 up to 100 is the domain of base notes. I cordially invite you to have a peak at W.A. Poucher’s book on Google Books as his insights are highly instructive.
Introducing 5 Timeless Classics In Men’s Perfumes
Steeled with this lesson on men’s perfumes we can now get a better understanding of what makes the following perfumes some of the best perfumes for men that have ever been available on the market. Here is the timeless top 5 of mens perfume.
1. Paco Rabanne: Pour Homme
2. Giorgio Armani: Emporio Armani
3. Hugo Boss: Boss Bottled
4. Loris Azzaro: Pour Homme
5. Zino Davidoff: Cool Water
1. Paco Rabanne: Pour Homme (1973)
Launched in 1973 (indeed, nineteenseventythree) Paco Rabanne’s most sold and most famous perfume for men might just be ‘older’ than the average reader of this article. Nonetheless, it is safe to say that, if anything, the 42 years of pour homme (it’s 2015, still) have made the fragrance more mature.
A child of the 1970s pour homme lives the then-prominent spirit of hyper-masculine features in scent — and in design: in case pour homme’s bottle design reminded you of nothing other than the manly item of a flask then rest assured that this is no coincidence. In fact the bottle was
Man & Brand
Meet Paco Rabanne (*1934)
Born as Francisco “Paco” Rabaneda Cuervo Mr Rabanne is a native of San Sebastián, Basque Country where he witnessed the Spanish Civil War as a child. Having fled to Paris in 1941 together with his mother he quickly made a name for himself by creating jewelry for Givenchy and Dior.
Mr Rabanne’s Special Interest
An architect by trade the indivual Paco Rabanne ist most widely known for having a vision at the age of seven. Ever since Mr Rabane has had wide interest in paranormalia and even gained miniature fame by ‘predciting’ the Russian space ship Mir to fall down on Paris in the year 1999.
While being part of the fashion ruling class in the 1960s the brand of Paco Rabanne is yet to see a revival in the classical field of fashion. In fact, the fashion line of the brandname Paco Rabanne since 2005 is managed by American Patrick Robinson.
Interestingly, it is perfumes where Paco Rabanne still is seeing major success. His latest male-oriented perfume One Million can be regarded as one of the most popular perfume for men of the last decade.
With a slight soapy touch Rabanne’s Pour Homme lives of its very subtle top notes and its heavy and distinct base notes.
Top notes: Lavender & Thyme
Heart notes: Geranium & Clove
Base notes: Tobacco & Oak moss
30ml Eau de toilete: 29,95€
2. Giorgio Armani: Eau Pour Homme (1984)
Eau Pour Homme is the classic men’s perfume by Armani. And if you just took the word ‘classic’ as an indicator for ‘age’ then you are more than right. Even though Eau Pour Homme is not as matured as Paco Rabanne’s most renowned fragrance for men, it is still no newcomer to the scene. Even though launched in 1984 and thus being a good 31 years old (2015) the perfume to this day plays in the premiere league of men’s perfumes.
Updates in 2013
After being a dominant force on the market for nearly three decades Eau Pour Home has recevied a slight makeover. The bottle pictured shows
the updated design of 2013 while the previous look featured the remarkable black socket that now comes in a crosshatched tone of silver. Together with an updated version of Eau Pour Homme Armani also designed three new fragrances that all draw from the same base (Eau Pour Homme), but set their own individual accents. Thus, 2013 also saw the release of Eau Pour Homme: Eau de Nuit, Eau Pour Homme: Eau de Cedre as well as Eau Pour Homme: Eau d’Arômes.
Man & Brand
Meet Giorgio Armani (*1934)
Stemming from the world’s leading region in regard to fashion that is Northern Italy, Giorgio Armani grew up in close distance to the undisputed capital of the area, Milan.
Initially studying to become a physician Armani switched careers after he had served as a medic in World War II and quickly made a name for himself working for the established company of Nino Cerruti.
Jeans represent democracy in fashion
Sticking out through a tremendous productivity and an almost protestant work ethic Armani was working in his primary job for Nino Cerruti, but also managed to contribute to up to a dozen of other labels on the side. Highly succesful in designig shirts, shoes, suits and other typpes of menswear it was only in 1973 that Armani opened his first own design office in Milan.
Expanding The Portfolio
One fact Armani is widely known for is that only 5 years after he began working on his own account he split up his output into different product lines, creating almost a single new brand for every imaginable aspect of male fashion. And his strategy proved itself to be successful.Names like Armani Jeans, Armani Eyewear and, above them all, Emprio Armani today are highly renowned brand names in the business.
The Man Giorgio Armani
On a more private note Armani has a passion for sports as he designed the jerseys of the British National football team as well as those of Chealsea London. Even though he is quite a bit more elegant and culturally active than Russian Oligarch Abramovich, the Italian designer, too, plays in the premiere league of Italy’s entrepreneurs: with a personal fortune of almost 9 billion dollars Armani is the most succesful designer Italy has ever seen.
In terms of scent Pour Homme’s new version of 2013 only sees a light update in its composition.
While top notes are still fruity and citrus-inspired with bergamot and mandarin, basil has been added as an ingredient that had not been part of the earlier version. With jasmine and levandar at the heart notes, Eau Pour Homme features rather warm base notes of sandelwood and cedar. Still a masculine perfume by any means it comes across much more lighter than the make-no-compromise masculine scent of Rabanne’s Pour Homme.
Top notes: Basil, tangerine, lemon
Heart notes: Lavender, clove, jasmine
Base notes: Sandelwood, cedarwood, oak moss
50ml Eau de toilete: 54,95€
3. Hugo Boss: Boss Bottled (1988)
We are making a big leap forward. Contrary to the first two classic perfumes for men Hugo Boss’ Boss Bottled is almost to be considered a youngster. First released in 1988 Boss Bottled hit the perfume market in times of pink sweaters hanging over your shoulder, Ray Ban’s Wayfarer and The A-Team.
A 27 Year Old Classic
Mind you that the fragrance hitself has little in common with an over-the-top approach to men’s stlye and perfumes as you could see it on Miami Vice and the likes.
Man & Brand
Who Was Hugo Ferdinand Boss? (1885-1945)
Reducing Hugo Ferdinand Boss to his activity during fascist Germany might not do him fully justice, yet one fact remains: the German business man of Swabia, located in the far South of the country, intensively collaborated with the Nazi Regime.
Business With The Devil
And he did so even before the Nazis came to power. Starting out with a small sewing company in the 1920s Mr Boss showed some natural talent inany thing business-related. Quickly tieing bonds with the emerging Nazi organizations he startedg to deliver clothing (uniforms, jackets, suits) to the Schutzstaffel, the core unit of Hitler’s milita that was combating the rivaling communists and social democrat forces.
An Early Death
Once the war ended Hugo Ferdinand Boss was facing trial for his collaboration with the Fascists. But what was most
likely much more more painful to him was the fact that he was also banned from running a business. Thus, his son-in-law took over and Boss died shortly thereafter.
Stardom Through Sponsoring Sports
Like Giorgio Armani the Boss company reached out to sports, and it was Motorsport, later Tennis and Golf, that helped boost brand-awareness for men’s clothing made by Boss. Fragrances are a late branch in the company of the company, emerging only in 1984. Nonetheless, 4 years later a classic in men’s perfumes was born.
Boss Bottled features a very lively, active and unimposingly masculine scent. Without the classic heavyweights of tobacco or oakmoss in the basenotes Boss Bottled so far would be the ‘mildest’ of our selection. With the rather rare scent of apple as the most remarkable top note Boss Bottled can be recognized quickly. While the base notes hold back to a good degree it is the flowery heart notes of Tagete and Geranium that make for the heart and soul of the perfume.
While it would be off to call Boss Bottled weak on the classic masculine side it can be safe to say that fragrances like this one paved the way for the rise of Calvin Klein’s perfumes. The mild base notes of Vetiver (a tropical sweet grass) and olivewood definitely contribute to that assumption.
Top notes: Apple, Bergamot, Cinnamon
Heart notes: Tagete, Geranium, Clove
Base notes: Sandelwood, Cedarwood, Vetiver, Olivewood
50ml Eau de toilete: 39,95€
4. Loris Azzaro: Azzaro Pour Homme (1973)
We are taking one giant leap back in time, reaching the same year that brought about Paco Rabanne’s version of a Pour Homme (“for [the] man”) perfume. While Paco Rabanne came to Paris from the West, namely from Spain, Loris Azzaro came to Paris from the South, namely from the then French colony of Tunesia.
While naming your first perfume for men after yourself is good form among most male perfume makers, Loris Azzaro linked naming his fragrance of 1973 to his upbringing in North Africa. Similar to French writer and nobel prize winner Albert Camus it was the stark contrast of Western
(French) life inmidst an environment that to Azzaro and Camus was rich in a lost and nature-inspired sensuality. Azzaro is quoted saying that if it wasn’t for his distinct last name he would have named the perfume Azuro, an allusion to Azur, the French color for the blue sky. Compare this anecdote to the depiction of things like nature, water and the blue sky in the Diaries of Albert Camus and you will find a close resemblance. Both the perfume maker as well as the author stress the unfiltered nature they experienced in Western enclaves that were surrounded by often raw and unfiltered nature.
Man & Brand
Meet Loris Azzuro (1933-2003)
Born in Tunisia’s capital Tunis Loris Azzaro basically grew up in between two worlds. before Azzaro went to Paris in 162 to take up on studies in the political sciences it was the modern French lifestyle and its confrontation with the subdued Tunisian surroundings that were a formative force in the life of the young Azzaro.
Quick Success In Paris
Settling over to Paris with the initial plan to take up on studies in political sciences Loris Azzaro soon found a promising entry into the fashion industry. Starting his own label in 1962 at the mere age of 29 (Giorgio Armani: 39) Azzaro quickly made a name for himself by designing highly extravagant dresses. Worn by actresses such as Sophia Loren, Raquel Welch or Claudia Cardinale Azzaro
managed to lay the foundation for his later success with his early works in clothing.
Without overstretching the analogy one could say that the biographical ambivalence found in Azzaro’s biography somewhat reflects in his first perfume for men. Pour Homme lives off the rivalry between its intense top note of lavender and its classic masculine base note of oakmoss.
A Classic For Half A Century
Once the striking top notes have dimished Pour Homme develops a sticking masculine tone that openly asks to be backed up with an equivalent level of testosterone. Azzaro’s masterpiece is as timeless and manly a fragrance as were the times in which it was created: the Super Seventies. Here, masculinity in perfumes for men had somewhat reached its peak as the unfocused Swinging Sixties were over and the leveled Eighties were not yet on the horizon. Azzaro’s Pour Homme? Even after almost 50 years still one of the best perfumes for men ever created.
Top notes: Lavender, Geranium, Anise, Petitgrain
Heart notes: Vetiver, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Oakmoss, Basil
Base notes: Musk, Ambergris
50 ml Eau de toilette: 44,99 €
5. Zino Davidoff: Cool Water (1988)
There is hardly any other men’s perfume hat is marketed in a way that is as “cool” as the way Cool Water is presented. From commercials featuring cliff jumpers over a steelblue bottle in an undecorated, sharp thus manly design to its distinct fragrance Cool Water lives up to its name to a high extent.
A Manly Classic In Many Variations
Created in 1988 Cool Water is, along with Boss Bottled, the youngest fragrance in our top 5 list. One factor that sticks out about Cool Water are the numerous variations the original fragrance has seen over the years. While other perfumes for men only saw mild alterations over time (Rabanne) Davidoff’s Cool Water was released
released in over a dozen limited & special editions that featured names like Deep Sea, Scents and Sun (2005), Pure Pacific (2012) or Coral Reef (2014).
Man & Brand
Meet Sussele-Meier ‘Zino’ Davidoff (1906-1994)
An avid connaisseur of cigar smoking himself the career of Zino Davidoff began in his father’s tobacco shop. Having fled Kiev as Ukrainian Jews due to persecution his family emigrated to Geneva, Switzerland in 1911 where the father set up shop in the tobacco industry. Zino learned and participated and his father’s business as an apprentice, learning everything about the cigar business from scratch.
One anecdote remains from the time in his father’s store, namely the one about a man who happened to speak Russian just like the Davidoffs. That man persistently refused to pay for his cigars while Mr Davidoff senior awedly refused to insist on payment. That Russian speaking man was Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin who at that
time also was an expatriate in Switzerland.
From Cigars To Perfume
For the better part of his life Zino Davidoffhad been working as a tradesman of high-class cigars, most of them from Cuba. It was only in 1980 that the then 74 year old Zino co-founded the company Zino Davidoff SA which started creating accessoires like men’s watches, pens, leather goods and – perfume. Fast forward eight years from there and Cool Water is born.
As a truly masculine fragrance the intense top notes of Mint, Sea Water and Coriander give it a really strong opening that some men might have to get used to first when they start wearing it.
This being said, Cool Water is as manly a fragrance as it possibly gets. With its basenotes of Musk and Amber being sharp and deep sandalwood actually serves as a middlenote, not as a basenote.
Top notes: Mint, Sea Water, Rosemary
Heart notes: Lavender, Geranium, Jasmine, Neroli
Base notes: Amber, Sandalwood, Musk, Oakmoss
40ml Eau de toilette: 22,99€