I just read a great article on men’s fragrances by Denise Hamilton, a crime novelist who started writing a fragrance column for the Los Angeles Times. She takes us through the recent renaissance in men’s colognes in general and the renewed vigor with which American men are consuming them. Some highlights:
“The most transgressive men’s fragrance I sniffed was Black Afgano by Nasomatto, said to include distilled hashish. Raspy and tarry, tempered with silky notes of oud, patchouli, cherry tobacco and leather, Black Afgano is produced in small batches. Scent Bar has a waiting list “20 miles long” for it, because the 180 bottles allocated for [Scent Bar owner Franco] Wright this year were snapped up immediately.”
Lucky Scent, which is Scent Bar’s online store, lists Black Afgano as sold out; it normally sells for $148 for a small, 30ml bottle (the standard sizes for fragrances bottles are 50ml/1.7oz and 100ml/3.4oz). One commenter writes, “Sample first, this is just nasty. Good luck washing it off.” One of the most positives reviews said “it does take some time for one to get use to.” How could I not be curious?
“So, what’s the manliest scent at Scent Bar? Tabacco, by the Italian firm Odori, which blends Paul Bunyan–size notes of hay, tobacco and honey. The genie in this bottle is the biggest, most muscular bearded lumberjack in the forest.”
This caught my eye. I’ve been fascinated by what we think of as masculine in fragrance, and how that evolves over time. Franco Wright, the owner of Scent Bar, which has seen significant growth in its male clientele, noted, “We’ve seen a lot of men gravitate toward incense, tobacco and oud. Rose is big, too, because you can make it dirty, woody and spicy.”
Finally, the passage that brought me to this article, via the blog Now Smell This, in the first place:
“The men’s classic that generates the most hysteria is Yves Saint Laurent’s bestselling Kouros, whose white bottle evokes classical Greece. The notes outrage some, who liken it to locker-room sweat, urinal cake, semen, cat feces and dead rodents. My personal favorite, from an ambivalent Basenotes review: ‘This smells like Bigfoot’s d–k; in a (very) good way!!!’ Kouros fans, however, find it elegant, manly and classic. See for yourself—but easy on the trigger, pardner.
I just saw Kouros on sale at Loehmann’s in the men’s department for cheap, and I had been tempted because it’s a modern classic (1981). I passed because I’d never smelled it. Now I must.
I’ve added Denise Hamilton’s Uncommon Scents column to my links bar at right. This is her third so far, and I’m looking forward to more.