That’s a question a friend asked me after she read my post about Bruce Willis’s new cologne. As long as I’m suggesting different names—Yipee-Ki-Yay was my idea—why not a few thoughts on the scent itself?
As ridiculous as it sounds at first, it’s an excellent question: what should a very masculine cologne smell like? The answer is typically, secondary to the marketing. In other words, it can smell like whatever is popular at the time, as long as the packaging has some dark colors and sharp edges and the ads show something manly (even if it is a bit homoerotic—that rarely seems to faze straight guys anymore for some reason).
Is a very manly scent merely not unpleasant? If it smells too good, does it veer too close to the feminine?
Off the top of my head, the most masculine smelling things are dirt, jalepenos, motor oil, pepper, exhaust, sweat, rubber, wood, leather, smoke, tobacco, whiskey, animals and meat. And yet some of the most enduring masculine fragrances, like Old Spice, are quite light and powdery.
Many of the fragrances I like most are quite floral. Perhaps the most masculine fragrance I have is Le Labo’s Patchouli 24, which has a very smoky leather quality to it (and none of the patchouli notes we associate with unwashed hippies).
The oddest masculine fragrance I’ve ever encountered is Santa Maria Novella’s Nostalgia, which the company describes as “the scent of a vintage racing car,” complete with notes of benzene, tires and leather.” It’s bizarre, but intriguing.
My mother always says a man should smell clean, like soap. What do you think?