The idea that men’s fragrances should always tally with the calendar seasons is a dated and quite frankly flawed concept.
Admittedly, some scents – the ones usually ripe with citrus fruits, aquatic notes, or smell of freshly cut grass – are better suited to summer, while those steeped in woods, resins, leather and Middle-Eastern spice do feel more at home in the winter months. Regardless, these ‘rules’ are far from hard and fast, and are increasingly up for interpretation.
The world (as we once knew it) has changed, and it’s as common to see a fragrance inspired by the Pacific surf, or an English meadow being launched in November, as it is to see one infused with comfortable winter fruits unveiled in June.
To that end, these are some of the best new winter fragrances for men. Expect the unexpected.
DSquared2 Green Wood
From its provocative campaign featuring a young-buck woodsman in a check flannel shirt to its explicitly masculine and robust blend of aromatic ingredients, Green Wood by DSquared2 is every inch a fragrance for the modern alpha male.
A versatile scent that will carry you from work through to play and back again, it features a bracing hit of lemon, Santolina (a Mediterranean shrub from the chamomile family) and the spiced flavour of bourbon pepper as its opening act.
The dry down is a blend of resinous musks and an abundance of woody notes; including cedarwood and vetiver. It’s like a walk through a winter forest at dawn. Or a sexy car air freshener (totally possible, promise).
Sunspel Oak Wood
Sunspel’s first step into the competitive world of fragrances has been approached with compassion, attention to detail and class. Unsurprising, really, from a label which has perfected the building blocks of every contemporary man’s wardrobe. Working with renowned perfumer Lyn Harris, founder of the Miller Harris brand, the end result is a masterclass in understated elegance.
Oak Wood is best described as gender neutral, timeless and with a touch of English heritage. It combines notes of bergamot, neroli, cedarwood and sandalwood with a herby kick of chamomile and angelica seeds, with a sensual dry down of frankincense and amber. In short, it’s as crisp and easy-to-wear as a freshly laundered shirt.
Frederic Malle Rose & Cuir
There are few fragrances that immediately strike a chord with the public and earn recognition as a future classic. Rose & Cuir, however, (that’s rose and leather, for anyone a bit sketchy with your French) from Frederic Malle is one deserving recipient of such an accolade.
Created by master perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena (the man behind that other game-changer, Terre d’Hermes) as part of the brand’s Editions de Parfum line, this one is inspired by the Mistral winds that sweep over the South of France.
In non-fragrance speak, that translates to a romantic but punchy blend that works well for the evening, combining timut pepper (a Nepalese spice), blackcurrant, peach accord, bourbon geranium, vetiver, cedarwood, a synthetic leather note and cumin. Très bon.
Tiffany & Co Tiffany & Love For Him
Tiffany & Co, a name synonymous with art deco grandeur (and engagement rings few men can afford), has entered the dual-fragrance category for the first time – that’s one for he and one for she.
Created by perfumers Sophie Labbe and Nicolas Beaulieu, who between them have created scents for Givenchy, Hugo Boss and Paco Rabanne, Tiffany & Love is an aromatic citrus with a wood-infused base. It opens with an energising clout of ginger, mandarin and cardamom oils before drying down to a base of sandalwood, vetiver and blue sequoia.
However, it’s a co-distillation process created exclusively for Tiffany, allowing for a unique blend of cypress and juniper berry, that makes this one as refreshing as a gin and tonic and a fragrance with a real point of difference.
Zara Emotions x Jo Loves
Oftentimes, collaborative efforts between brands feel contrived at best and disappointing or pointless at worst. Zara’s partnership with Jo Malone CBE (founder of Jo Loves) is not one of them.
The collection comprises eight exclusive eau de parfums formulated by Malone in partnership with the fast-fashion retailer. Costing less than a round of drinks, you don’t need to be a mathematician to work out that this is a marriage made in heaven.
The Emotions x Jo Loves range is a class act, and all of which can be worn by either gender, although Tuberose Noir and Waterlily Tea Dress are considerably more feminine. Vetiver Pamplemousse (grapefruit, mandarin and vetiver) is the best everyday scent, while Ebony Wood (peppercorn, clove, ebony wood) makes for a very handsome evening fragrance.
Celine Haute Parfumerie
From his earliest days at Saint Laurent through Dior, back at Saint Laurent, to his current home at Celine, Hedi Slimane hasn’t put a foot wrong. It’s hardly surprising then that a buzz began to rise when news leaked he would be creating his first range of fragrances for the French powerhouse he currently presides over.
The resulting wardrobe of 11 gender-fluid scents all share an uncompromising pursuit of luxurious ingredients; with soft, powdery orris butter (one of the world’s rarest perfume notes) reoccurring throughout the line-up.
Parade, Saint-Germain-des Pres, Cologne Francais, la Peau Nue and Eau de Californie are better for the day, while Black Tie, Reptile and Nightclubbing make for headier evenings.
Moschino Toy Boy
Current Moschino frontman Jeremy Scott is an extrovert at heart; sticking two fingers up to the establishment and living his best life while furthering the philosophy that more is more.
Toy Boy, which recently won Best Everyday Fragrance at the FashionBeans Grooming Awards, plays to those maverick strengths with both its fetishist ad creative and its unorthodox roster of top-grade and not-commonly used ingredients.
Playful and seductive, with a spicy/woody/sweet flavour, pink berries and Indonesian nutmeg, pear-tree leaves, clove buds and ambroxan all bring on the heat while rose, magnolia and vetiver serve as a sophisticated contrast. This one’s a winner for date night.
Baxter Of California Pacific Cannabis
It was only going to be a matter of time before the East Coast’s coolest exporter of skin, hair, shave and body solutions expanded into men’s fragrances. For it’s debut, Baxter of California tapped perfumer Clement Gavaary, the man responsible for big hitters by Tom Ford, Armani and Calvin Klein, to give it some serious gravitas.
With a brief to capture “a day at Venice beach enjoying the cool vibes of California”, Gavaary, as the name would suggest, made the bold choice to give centre-stage to the cannabis herb (though sadly only by way of using other plants to replicate the oil). And while it might sound like a summer fragrance, it doesn’t smell like one.
The buzzy botanical has been combined with pink pepper, rosemary essence and bergamot, lavender and sage, drying down to patchouli, tonka bean (which is sweet like vanilla) and a kind of sea-salted, oceanic driftwood. Surf dude or city boy, this one will add cred to your bathroom shelf.
Comme des Garçons Copper
Comme des Garçons has built a reputation for ripping up the fragrance rulebook and defying tradition. Intriguing use of unconventional ingredients that mirror synthetic smells, such as tar, photocopy ink and dust on a heated light bulb, have made some of the handiworks of Christian Astuguevielle, the Japanese brand’s creative director of fragrance, polarising to say the least.
His latest invention, Copper, is one of his more mainstream (which isn’t a dirty word, incidentally).
Pink pepper from Peru, violet leaves, galbanum, ginger, tobacco, vanilla and cassis (blackcurrant) aren’t your classic CDG notes, however the end product still feels ‘very-Comme’ thanks to a dose of metallic copper accord, Ethiopian Myrrh and artificial amber.