100 Fragrances Every Frag-Head Guy Should Try, part 13: The Greatest Hits, Part 1

    100 Fragrances Every Frag-Head Guy Should Try, part 13: The Greatest Hits, Part 1

    post #1 of 6
    Thread Starter 




    The Greatest Hits, Part 1

    Theres something to be said for popularity. The most popular scents are destined to be the most influential, simply because more people smell them. Of course, theres a downside to popularity, mostly the result of derivative schlock copying and trying to cash in on fads without using any real artistic creativity (Bleu de Chanel, anyone?). But there have always been scents for which a perfect storm of smell, marketing, the popularity of the designer, and the novelty of a new kind of scent all came together to create something both popular and aesthetically important.

    Also, its about time I included some scents on this list that most people will have actually tried.


    37. Fahrenheit by Christian Dior



    Fahrenheit has been popular for around 20 years now, but Im especially happy to include it here, because it rather amazingly predicted what male-oriented niche perfumes would smell like 15 years after its release, which is pretty fantastic.

    Its a deep, smoky rubber smell thats also quite sweet, with deep woody undertones and a big dose of mace, which hints at sweet tobacco, cinnamon, and coffee. But Fahrenheit retains a resolutely spicy woody smoky rubbery character that gives it surprising depth and foreshadowed the current oud revolution. It amazes me that this came out in 1988, because it smells like not just new releases, but the most cutting-edge new releases.


    38. CK One by Calvin Klein



    Its hard to overestimate how much of a paradigm shift CK One represented in the perfume industry. Sure, there were clean-smelling aquatics before CK One, and of course there were very old scents advertised as unisex, but CK One took these and made them sexy. It was the complete casting off of both the hyper-masculine powerhouse scents and the uber-feminine loud florals of the 80s, as well as liberation from the sort of macho and sexist posturing they represented. It was the expression, in perfume form, of the changing politics of the day. In the early 90s, girl power was evolving from a sort of man-hating old-school feminism to a whole new kind of young female empowerment that found strength in sexual liberation. There was also a second coming of the gay rights movement that hit in the early 90s once the conservative 80s politicians were out of power. CK One was all of this in a bottle

    Everyone knew CK One was for liberated slutty club girls and for gays and for the truly with-it straight guys who understood that empowered women and gay liberation werent a threat to their masculinity. It was a potent symbol of a whole new kind of sexuality and a new kind of mindset a mindset that was the polar opposite of the guys smell dirty, girls smell pretty way of thinking that had dominated perfumes until then. Now everyone was supposed to smell freshly scrubbed and sexy.

    So what does it smell like? Lemony and chemical and soapy with leafy greens underneath, like a sort of lemon-scented dryer sheet. This might not sound very extreme or sexy now, but you have to remember that this was around the time the Vatican was getting Madonna concerts banned, a time of social and sexual upheaval where things that seem kind of innocuous now were seen as radical threats to the conservative mainstream, CK One included.


    39. A*Men by Thierry Mugler



    Theres nothing out there like A*Men. On one hand, its a terrible hot mess of a scent, with too many notes competing for attention in a hot sticky pool of goo. But, on the other hand, this makes it positively hypnotizing Its impossible to wear A*Men and not have a good time sniffing it.

    While its sister Angel is generally credited with inventing the gourmand perfume, A*Men does a much more interesting job of it. A*Men is notable for featuring a mix that would go on to be very common the specific way that vanilla and patchouli could be mixed to create a burnt caramel smell. It also used a cocoa note to bring out the chocolate undertones of the patchouli. Take this mix, add some coffee, and pour it over a traditional herbal chypre with a big splash of bright lavender on top and thats A*Men.

    What makes it so interesting is that it shouldnt work at all. Those dark woody herbs in the background should smell awful underneath all that chocolate and caramel, while that lavender explosion shouldnt work with any of A*Men's other ingredients. Its a gourmand that doesnt smell in the least bit edible. And yet, somehow, A*Men gets the balance just right and manages to create the one specific mixture of that hot mess of notes that actually smells great.
    post #2 of 6
    100% agree with Fahrenheit, and I honestly don't think it will ever smell dated in my lifetime unless Dior fucks it up worse.
    post #3 of 6
    Gawd. I am blown away by these blogs. Just loving em. I must put some time aside for the specific purpose of settling down properly with them as you would with a great book.

    Can you stretch to a series on female fragrances? Oh go on!
    post #4 of 6
    Now we're talking - I loved and owned all three of these, with BIG thumbs up for Fahrenheit which I'm pretty sure I went thru a couple bottles of. Just smelling it now, from a tester, brings back memories of junior high angst.

    I forgot how wild-and-crazy those CK One ads were until your article reminded me - I fell for the marketing hook, line and sinker. I still remember seeing those ads with young, hot, sexy guys clearly arm-in-arm in the ads - it sort of validated me as a closeted little gay boy at the time. When Calvin Klein is slinging this sort of marketing for a scent, the scent could have smelled like turkey gravy and I think I would have bought it.
    post #5 of 6
    Thread Starter 
    I have an indelible scent memory burned into my brain:

    1994, my first venture out into the big gay clubs of the city - Thousands of shirtless muscleboys and messy club kids and aging leathermen smashed into a cavernous hot room together. This was back when clubs smelled foul, the result of many years of cigarette smoke and spilled drinks mixing with the sweaty man smell, all under a haze of fog machine smoke, pot, and poppers. Over all of this, dump gallon after gallon of CK One. As much as it technically smells like lemon laundry detergent, it'll always be the smell of freaky public sex and liberation to me...
    post #6 of 6
    Owning/Wearing a Calving Klein perfume has never been so cool as CK One was in the 90s. It is the first time, and perhaps the only time that a mainstream perfume was marketed as unisex and that was one of the main selling points. It was the perfect marketing campaign, unparalleled at the time. Many of us young professionals went running to get it, because it was so different to all the classics and girlie perfumes we were used to wear. Although I have to say that I did not even finish my bottle. Pretty soon I could smell it everywhere and got tired of it.
    class="

    10/18/11 at 5:29pm

    rogalal said:







    The Greatest Hits, Part 1

    Theres something to be said for popularity. The most popular scents are destined to be the most influential, simply because more people smell them. Of course, theres a downside to popularity, mostly the result of derivative schlock copying and trying to cash in on fads without using any real artistic creativity (Bleu de Chanel, anyone?). But there have always been scents for which a perfect storm of smell, marketing, the popularity of the designer, and the novelty of a new kind of scent all came together to create something both popular and aesthetically important.

    Also, its about time I included some scents on this list that most people will have actually tried.


    37. Fahrenheit by Christian Dior



    Fahrenheit has been popular for around 20 years now, but Im especially happy to include it here, because it rather amazingly predicted what male-oriented niche perfumes would smell like 15 years after its release, which is pretty fantastic.

    Its a deep, smoky rubber smell thats also quite sweet, with deep woody undertones and a big dose of mace, which hints at sweet tobacco, cinnamon, and coffee. But Fahrenheit retains a resolutely spicy woody smoky rubbery character that gives it surprising depth and foreshadowed the current oud revolution. It amazes me that this came out in 1988, because it smells like not just new releases, but the most cutting-edge new releases.


    38. CK One by Calvin Klein



    Its hard to overestimate how much of a paradigm shift CK One represented in the perfume industry. Sure, there were clean-smelling aquatics before CK One, and of course there were very old scents advertised as unisex, but CK One took these and made them sexy. It was the complete casting off of both the hyper-masculine powerhouse scents and the uber-feminine loud florals of the 80s, as well as liberation from the sort of macho and sexist posturing they represented. It was the expression, in perfume form, of the changing politics of the day. In the early 90s, girl power was evolving from a sort of man-hating old-school feminism to a whole new kind of young female empowerment that found strength in sexual liberation. There was also a second coming of the gay rights movement that hit in the early 90s once the conservative 80s politicians were out of power. CK One was all of this in a bottle

    Everyone knew CK One was for liberated slutty club girls and for gays and for the truly with-it straight guys who understood that empowered women and gay liberation werent a threat to their masculinity. It was a potent symbol of a whole new kind of sexuality and a new kind of mindset a mindset that was the polar opposite of the guys smell dirty, girls smell pretty way of thinking that had dominated perfumes until then. Now everyone was supposed to smell freshly scrubbed and sexy.

    So what does it smell like? Lemony and chemical and soapy with leafy greens underneath, like a sort of lemon-scented dryer sheet. This might not sound very extreme or sexy now, but you have to remember that this was around the time the Vatican was getting Madonna concerts banned, a time of social and sexual upheaval where things that seem kind of innocuous now were seen as radical threats to the conservative mainstream, CK One included.


    39. A*Men by Thierry Mugler



    Theres nothing out there like A*Men. On one hand, its a terrible hot mess of a scent, with too many notes competing for attention in a hot sticky pool of goo. But, on the other hand, this makes it positively hypnotizing Its impossible to wear A*Men and not have a good time sniffing it.

    While its sister Angel is generally credited with inventing the gourmand perfume, A*Men does a much more interesting job of it. A*Men is notable for featuring a mix that would go on to be very common the specific way that vanilla and patchouli could be mixed to create a burnt caramel smell. It also used a cocoa note to bring out the chocolate undertones of the patchouli. Take this mix, add some coffee, and pour it over a traditional herbal chypre with a big splash of bright lavender on top and thats A*Men.

    What makes it so interesting is that it shouldnt work at all. Those dark woody herbs in the background should smell awful underneath all that chocolate and caramel, while that lavender explosion shouldnt work with any of A*Men's other ingredients. Its a gourmand that doesnt smell in the least bit edible. And yet, somehow, A*Men gets the balance just right and manages to create the one specific mixture of that hot mess of notes that actually smells great.

    10/18/11 at 11:28pm

    dwrestle said:



    100% agree with Fahrenheit, and I honestly don't think it will ever smell dated in my lifetime unless Dior fucks it up worse.

    10/21/11 at 4:06am

    Foustie said:



    Gawd. I am blown away by these blogs. Just loving em. I must put some time aside for the specific purpose of settling down properly with them as you would with a great book.

    Can you stretch to a series on female fragrances? Oh go on!

    10/22/11 at 3:43pm

    mikeperez23 said:



    Now we're talking - I loved and owned all three of these, with BIG thumbs up for Fahrenheit which I'm pretty sure I went thru a couple bottles of. Just smelling it now, from a tester, brings back memories of junior high angst.

    I forgot how wild-and-crazy those CK One ads were until your article reminded me - I fell for the marketing hook, line and sinker. I still remember seeing those ads with young, hot, sexy guys clearly arm-in-arm in the ads - it sort of validated me as a closeted little gay boy at the time. When Calvin Klein is slinging this sort of marketing for a scent, the scent could have smelled like turkey gravy and I think I would have bought it.

    10/22/11 at 5:54pm

    rogalal said:



    I have an indelible scent memory burned into my brain:

    1994, my first venture out into the big gay clubs of the city - Thousands of shirtless muscleboys and messy club kids and aging leathermen smashed into a cavernous hot room together. This was back when clubs smelled foul, the result of many years of cigarette smoke and spilled drinks mixing with the sweaty man smell, all under a haze of fog machine smoke, pot, and poppers. Over all of this, dump gallon after gallon of CK One. As much as it technically smells like lemon laundry detergent, it'll always be the smell of freaky public sex and liberation to me...

    11/5/11 at 10:27am

    arwen_elf said:



    Owning/Wearing a Calving Klein perfume has never been so cool as CK One was in the 90s. It is the first time, and perhaps the only time that a mainstream perfume was marketed as unisex and that was one of the main selling points. It was the perfect marketing campaign, unparalleled at the time. Many of us young professionals went running to get it, because it was so different to all the classics and girlie perfumes we were used to wear. Although I have to say that I did not even finish my bottle. Pretty soon I could smell it everywhere and got tired of it.





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