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  1. #1

    Default What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    I just received a lovely bundle of decants that are mostly 'masculine' fragrances such as Creed's Green Irish Tweed, Royal English Leather, Acier Aluminium and Orange Spice.
    So far I've tested GIT and Orange Spice and I have a question. What is/are the ingredients that make them smell so classically 'after shavey'? It's not that I dislike them, but there's an element to both of these that leaps up and shouts "Dad!" and I don't always get that from masculine fragrances. (I'm female, by the way.)

    The Creed website lists the notes for GIT as "Verbena, Violet Leaves, Florentine Iris, Sandalwood and Ambergris" and describes Orange Spice as "Warm, fruity and spicy with orange, cinnamon and clove notes".

    What I'm smelling is quite high-pitched, a bit salty and herbal/green. It might be a bit musky, I'm more used to women's musks so I'm not sure about that. It's a note I have smelled in a lot men's 'aftershave' fragrances from my youth. Looking at the BN directory I see Orange Spice likened to Kouros and re-smelling now, I recognise the similarity. (Kouros was HUGE when I was a youngster back in the 80s.)

    I'd love to know what this note is because it's so powerful that I don't think I could wear this fragrance out in public while it's in full blast. But that doesn't mean I dislike it.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    I think it can be the clove note so strongly present in the heart of kouros and far more gentle in orange spice.

  3. #3

    Default Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    Thanks magnifiscent; it's certainly about the right pitch and perhaps a bit medicinal. But clove isn't listed as a note in Green Irish Tweed and I get a good wallop of whatever this is in there as well. I can only describe it as being 'that smell that makes you realise you're smelling a man's cologne, definitely not a woman's'.
    Does that help at all?
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  4. #4

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    Default Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    I know what you're talking about, Wordbird. As a woman who primarily wears men's & unisex fragrances I know that there's definitely a continuum of "masculine" smells & that there are some colognes that smell TOO masculine for me. Even though I'm not exactly the most feminine chick...some colognes out there would make me feel downright uncomfortable to wear! Green Irish Tweed is actually one of them. It would definitely be interesting to know what makes a fragrance "masculine." I wish more people would respond to your thread!
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  5. #5

    Default Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    I enjoy masculine and feminine scents, depending on my mood. One thing I've noticed is that many masculine fragrances include combinations of notes such as woods, patchouli, civet, and strong spices done in a heavier way than feminine fragrances, I'm thinking of the likes of Polo green and Drakkar Noir. Many women's perfumes include lighter ingredients such as tea, amber, florals, clean musks, etc. Here I'm thinking of SJP Lovely, Bvlgari and Chanel fragrances for example. I know what you are talking about and this is as close as I can get to putting my finger on it.

  6. #6

    Default Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    it might be lavender or "lavandin". i dunno just a thought. i know girls wear lavender (i do and i love it) but to me a cologne with lavender is incredibly masculine and i love love love it. good lord i love lavender.

  7. #7

    Default Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    Oh yes, Jicky is my summer staple. Love love love lavender. And it's definitely not just for grannies - as Jicky proves, with its feral civet undertones. (Hoorah! Feral Grannies!)
    It's not the note I'm thinking of - that's much more lasting than any lavender I've smelled, but they do share the same 'blast' character of really whooshing up your nose and - like clove - lavender is in the right 'pitch' as the note I'm thinking of.

    I know lavender is an element in the classic 'Fougere' style that is almost exclusively masculine (though SJP's new one, Covet, is apparently a Fougere, just to be awkward). I wonder if any of the BN experts can help us out with this?
    Gents?

    Could it be that I'm smelling a masculine musk?
    Last edited by Wordbird; 15th October 2007 at 04:17 PM.
    "A woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future." Coco Chanel

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  8. #8

    Smile Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    I know exactly what you are talking about as far as a scent smelling more masculine. A Dad scent as you put it. I think it might be a leather note, sandalwood note, lavander note and woodsy mossy type notes. I don't think you can peg a masculine note by " sweetness alone" as some scents for men are sweet but definatly masculine. Patchouli is another one you might find in the base of masculine scents. As mentioned above these notes just might be more pronounced in masculine scents. There is also alot of vetiver in mens frags too in the base. I am not certain but I think I read somewhere on this forum that vetiver stabilizes some of the other notes in a frag.


    My two scents.


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  9. #9

    Default Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    Wordbird:

    I know what triggers "masculine" for me....citrus + herbs.
    I'm not entirely sure why this is. I read somewhere (maybe one of Mandy Aftel's books) that this combination is the base for "cologne" (as a type).

    May need to go find Creed Green Irish Tweed now to see what you are talking about.....

  10. #10

    Default Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    Don't forget that mossy notes can put a scent in the masculine category. I don't have Orange Spice, but I think there's a fair amount of moss in Kouros. I'm too lazy to get my GIT out, but I think there's something mossy about it as well.

    Also, when you think of fresh mens fragrances like Aqua di Gio and the like-- you get that Calone note-- and calone is an oceanic cousin to the moss notes. You pick up both calone and oakmoss variations in most men's shaving creams, gels, and grooming products.

  11. #11

    Default Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    Ah, this is brilliant help, thanks gents. It's so frustrating trying to explain a smell! I know that's the whole point of this board but if you can, picture a mad old woman waving her arms around in a bathroom and muttering 'that, that there, that's the bit I'm on about'.
    So thanks for taking pity on me!
    If it's any help, Creed's Royal English Leather doesn't have this note I'm thinking of.

    It might be something to do with Patouli because to me Angel smells like Magnum (PI, not choc ice), but my hippy self remembers straight patouli oil as quite rounded. Can Patouli be really shouty and strident?

    I'm going to have to go back to my bottle of Vetivert to check if that's an element of this. And I think the mossy notes might be the answer.

    Possibly it's a particular combination of notes that gives this effect. I know it's a classic combo, because it's a Dad smell to me and my dad was born in 1929. Anything he wore would have been in circulation for a very very long time. Old Spice and Brut and such.
    "A woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future." Coco Chanel

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  12. #12

    Lightbulb Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    I don't know where you could check this on the net but it would be interesting for you to check and see if you can look up the scent profile of Pinaud's mens barber products. Or I think the stuff was called " Wild Root". When I was a little kid my dad would take me to the Barber shop for a hair cut. The barber would always sit me up on a board he put across the barber chair. When he was done he would sprinkle some talc on a towel and sort of pat or slap the back of my neck with it. As the final touch just before letting me down from the chair he would splash some of this " hair tonic" on and comb it nice for me. That is what I remember as a " Dad smell " Also check the scent profile of English Leather by Yardley I think. That is also a Dad smell to me

    Good Luck

    Rick
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  13. #13

    Default Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    Nothing.
    There are many perfumes in the market for men that can smell feminine for you and so many feminine that could turn masculine.
    The answer is you, your nose and how comfortable you are wearing them.
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  14. #14

    Default Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    More likely it's a combination of (varying) factors rather than one particular ingredient that spells "masculine" for you, and I think all the main suspects have neen named - especially fougeres with their barbershoppy green-herbal-mossiness and spicy clove. Violets can also have a very masculine smell in a green context - besides GIT, think Fahrenheit and Kiton Men. Citrus plus herbs is also inscribed into the male tradition fragrance tradition (e.g. citrus-lavender-clary sage or artemisia) as would be cedar-vetiver-(leather) combinations.
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  15. #15

    Default Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    I agree, Madrid, I think it's only our own minds that limit us and constrain our choices, but I've been so curious about exactly what notes are creating this very powerful 'masculine' feel to some of these fragrances and not others. Why do I feel I can't wear GIT but adore Acier Aluminium? Why does Orange Spice get a screaming no-no but Royal English Leather get a huge thumbs up?

    I think you're right Good-Life; I think it's an 'accord' that has been classically used in masculine fragrances so it hits all those association buttons. The silly thing is that I'm sure if I was standing next to you we'd figure it out in 2 minutes!

    I think it's a vetivert-patchouli accord, having had a good huff of my Hubs' L'Occitane vetivert soap and factoring in the Angel/Patchouli/Magnum PI experience.

    Funnily enough I got a Gaultier2 sample last week and found that totally masculine to the point of scrubbing it off. Yet all you chaps rave about is the amber and vanilla. It's not the same note that puts me off, but there's definitely something else in there as well!
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  16. #16

    Default Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    This is from the perspective of a complete newb, but... I've been cruising through the male fragrance listings on Basenotes and what's really been striking me is how many mens fragrances are based around a herbal citrus blend. Especially in the earlier scents, around the 1980s and before, that combination seems to appear about 70% to 80% of the time.
    Admittedly, I'm going on others reviews for most of them, but this does seem to be the smell of the aftershave of a great many men, especially ones over forty or fifty.

  17. #17

    Default Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    Yatagan!!!!!!

  18. #18

    Default Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    Wordbird - I'm very interested in this thread because I'm with you. I love REL (and own a bottle) but a lot of men's fragrances, including many of the Creeds, have a smell that makes me go "whew, aftershave!"

    I think vetiver may be a culprit, at least to my nose, and calone - definitely. I hate marines, with the exception of Coney Island - don't ask me why but I can't get enough of that stuff.

    Patchouli I can wear, but I think if combined with something greener or oceanic it can have this effect.
    (btw Wordbird...try the Angel extrait, it's a whole other animal. The drydown is so delicious it makes me want to gnaw my arm off).

  19. #19

    Smile Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    Certainly not the marketing campaign or classification. Anyone try 'Unforgivable'? Incredibly girly, despite the "sexy" uber-macho adverts.

  20. #20

    Default Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Galamb_Borong View Post
    This is from the perspective of a complete newb, but... I've been cruising through the male fragrance listings on Basenotes and what's really been striking me is how many mens fragrances are based around a herbal citrus blend.
    A somewhat newer n00b chiming in here...
    I agree with your assessment of specific accords being thought of as masculine, and that they center around citrus-herbal blends. Anecdote from recent experience:
    We've got a shop here in town that will custom-scent an array of lotions, bath products, and perfume bases. I was trying to narrow down the list of 100+ frag. oils they carry before I visited, to avoid nasal overload. One that I picked, because I liked all the notes, was this:

    Citron - Sparkling, citrus top notes of mandarin, bergamot, lemon & neroli with an herbal lavender heart & sheer musk & jasmine accents.

    Went in and smelled it, and it was totally old-school aftershave to me.

    So I think that was a result of the bergamot-lavender-citrus accord. I remember reading someplace that lavender is used mostly in men's frags, and bergamot shows up in some rediculously high percentage of men's frags (somewhat lower for women's, but still fairly common). No citation on that, though.

  21. #21

    Default Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    Quote Originally Posted by sakecat22 View Post
    Wordbird:

    I know what triggers "masculine" for me....citrus + herbs.
    I'm not entirely sure why this is. I read somewhere (maybe one of Mandy Aftel's books) that this combination is the base for "cologne" (as a type).
    ...
    Quote Originally Posted by Galamb_Borong View Post
    This is from the perspective of a complete newb, but... I've been cruising through the male fragrance listings on Basenotes and what's really been striking me is how many mens fragrances are based around a herbal citrus blend. Especially in the earlier scents, around the 1980s and before, that combination seems to appear about 70% to 80% of the time.
    Admittedly, I'm going on others reviews for most of them, but this does seem to be the smell of the aftershave of a great many men, especially ones over forty or fifty.
    Quote Originally Posted by caviglia View Post
    A somewhat newer n00b chiming in here...
    I agree with your assessment of specific accords being thought of as masculine, and that they center around citrus-herbal blends. Anecdote from recent experience:
    We've got a shop here in town that will custom-scent an array of lotions, bath products, and perfume bases. I was trying to narrow down the list of 100+ frag. oils they carry before I visited, to avoid nasal overload. One that I picked, because I liked all the notes, was this:

    Citron - Sparkling, citrus top notes of mandarin, bergamot, lemon & neroli with an herbal lavender heart & sheer musk & jasmine accents.

    Went in and smelled it, and it was totally old-school aftershave to me.

    So I think that was a result of the bergamot-lavender-citrus accord. I remember reading someplace that lavender is used mostly in men's frags, and bergamot shows up in some rediculously high percentage of men's frags (somewhat lower for women's, but still fairly common). No citation on that, though.
    Add me to this camp. I know exactly what you mean about GIT and Orange Spice, and I think this is the answer.

    Leathers seem to have a great ability to be gender-neutral.
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  22. #22

    Default Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    To me, Polo and Aramis are the most masculine smelling scents I can recall. Woodsy on the former, not sure on the latter.

  23. #23

    Default Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    I think vetiver is very masculine. Also cumin, which is a masculinizing factor (think Kingdom).

  24. #24
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    Default Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    I must agree with some of the above comments about vetiver, Calone and leather.

    In my experience, these two notes tend to 'butch up' fragrances. This is a sweeping generalization, but it could explain certain tendencies for fragrances to smell 'masculine' to your nose.

  25. #25

    Default Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    I found this interesting article on Ayala's blog. It specifically addresses your question:

    http://ayalasmellyblog.blogspot.com/...e%20Fragrances
    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, ...... I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. - Robert Frost

  26. #26

    Default Re: What makes a fragrance 'masculine'?

    Quote Originally Posted by TwoRoads View Post
    I found this interesting article on Ayala's blog. It specifically addresses your question:

    http://ayalasmellyblog.blogspot.com/...e%20Fragrances
    Hey, thanks for posting that. A very interesting read!

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