In 2019, it's not uncommon for a gent to have at least one go-to fragrance or cologne in his arsenal. One that he's probably been complimented on before and knows that it's a win with at least seven out of 10 people he meets.
But men are curious creatures – happy to jump of bridges with ropes around their ankles and engage in other extreme sports but hesitant to stray into unfamiliar territory when it comes to something as day-to-day as grooming, and in particular how he smells.
This could come down to the simple truth that no one wants to smell bad. Quite often people remember how someone smells before they can remember a name, or even how they look. So the desire to smell good – or clean and inoffensive – became the end goal for men's grooming.
The flow-on effect has unfortunately meant conflating terms such as interesting, different, intellectual, and unusual – all of which are very good qualities in the world of fragrances – with something negative.
Which is a shame because some of the best fragrances for men available this season are moving away from tried and true notes and accords and providing a far more sensory-rich offering.
This is the modus operandi at Louis Vuitton with their latest olfactory releases. Inspired by a sense of adventure and travel, their hero in the trinity is Cactus Garden which turns the citrus accord on its head by using lemongrass rounded out by a bitter tea note known as mate. It's incredibly fresh and smells like nothing before it.
Equally, Coven by Icelandic artist Andrea Maack. An intellectual exercise to expand her visual work into a multisensory one, Maack's Coven is a dark world of earth, dirt and moss rounded off by a boozy note of whisky. It's weird, it's wonderful and has a sensuality to it that men's fragrances have been recently lacking.
It's also refreshing to see the rise in parfums for men. Usually left with the options of cologne or eau de toilette (EDT), parfums provide a more concentrated, richer form of fragrance that both lasts longer and is generally made from higher grade materials. Not that your fave EDT is somehow a lesser beast, by any means. But where an EDT is designed to fade, parfums can become more complex over time.
For those who prefer to smell like all the testosterone at a football match, Etat Libre d'Orange's Rien Incense Intense is a leather-infused bomb of smoke that defies description. As is relative newcomer Officine Universelle Buly's Triple Sumi Hinoki – water-based, making it better for your skin, this smells like your hunter-gatherer ancestors sitting around a campfire eating meat. Highly recommended.
In comparison, Tom Ford's brilliant Beau de Jour takes that hyper masculine sex appeal and dresses it up in a tuxedo. It's a masterpiece in the fougere genre and is the sort of fragrance that, as the phrase goes, puts hair on a man's chest.
Check out the gallery up top to see the best fragrances to stock up on this winter.