Men’s Fragrances For Women
November 1, 2011

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By Christine Lewandowski
Co-Founder, creator and artist of A Dozen Roses, Sandy Cataldo, signing bottles
Until the early 90’s, women who wore men’s fragrances, such as Dior’s Eau Savage, Annick Goutal’s Eau d’Hadrien and Guerlain’s Vetiver, were considered avant-garde.  Today, we still might be considered unusual by some. Yet the number of women trying (and buying) men’s scents for themselves, is growing at a fast pace. 

Gradually, people who love and buy fragrances are using their increasingly precious purchasing power to make the point that they wear what smells wonderful on them, regardless of artificial marketing tags. 

According to Courtney Lenzenhuber, a sales associate at Neiman Marcus, Landmark Plaza in Frontenac, Missouri, younger women don’t hesitate to try men’s fragrances.  It is women of a “certain age” who won’t wear anything labeled as masculine.  Since I am probably of that age group, I am happy to report that I wear many fragrances marketed toward men.  Here are a few that I am currently enjoying.

Heritage by Guerlain, is one of my all-time favorites. As someone who loves the way Shalimar smells on other people but unable to wear it myself, Heritage is the perfect Guerlain solution; season-less, rich and long lasting in every concentration.

Original Santal is a contemporary scent, created for men and women by master perfumer Olivier Creed.  The notes don’t really give you much of an idea how this will smell on your skin because different skin types amplify different aspects.  This is true for any scent but particularly for Original Santal, which includes cinnamon, coriander, and juniper berry, on top; sandalwood, lavender, rosemary, ginger and orange tree absolute making up the heart. The popular pairing of tonka bean and vanilla comprise the base.  The “orange tree absolute” is a bit unusual. Creed doesn’t say this is “Orange Blossom Absolute”, which is from the bitter orange tree.  Whatever the specific note, it just may be the addition of orange tree absolute which unites the entire composition and makes it stand apart. 

Jean Paul Guerlain created Heritage in 1992.  The scent itself is described by Guerlain as Oriental. Woody. Spicy.   OsMoz identifies Heritage as Woody Spicy and Michael Edwards has it classified as a Woody Oriental in his Fragrances of the World.  It features a classic combination of lemon, lavender, bergamot on top, coriander and pink peppercorn, as the heart. The base is a patchouli, cedarwood, tonka beans and vanilla blend, making the dry down perfectly woody and sweet.  Of course, this comes with a word of caution - because the Heritage of 1992 and that of today are not the same.  Is anyone surprised?  Be not dismayed, the current eau de toilette is very good, possibly even more wearable, and less heavy. 

Heritage is an excellent alternative choice for anyone who appreciates the quality of a classic Guerlain and loves the Shalimar “vibe”.

It took me a while to try Original Santal by Creed.  Sandalwood scents are going to be the next big thing, in my opinion.  Oud has run it’s course.  It’s time a different note takes center stage and I think that will be sandalwood.  Perhaps this is just wishful thinking on my part, as I adore woody notes, especially sandalwood. 

In the Autumn of 2008, the London perfumer, Linda Pilkington released an addition to her exclusive fragrance line, Ormonde Jayne.  After polling her male clients for many years asking them exactly what they looked for in a men's fragrance, she created Zizan.

Original Santal is at its best in the dry-down.  It’s warm, radiant and a bit sweet.  The heart notes elevate the fragrance so that it doesn’t become heavy but creates a memorable silage.  For all the loudness at the beginning, Original Santal dries down to cling softly and sweetly to the skin, becoming an incredibly sexy-clean, comfort scent.  Sharing this with your sweetheart makes Original Santal even more enjoyable.
Zizan is a surprise, one I have only recently enjoyed.  It fairly bursts with a fresh, tart, citrus trifecta:  Sicilian lime, lemon and bergamot.  Phase two of the top is a balanced trio of clary sage, pink pepper and juniper berry. The addition of clary sage is brilliant and part of why my skin loves this fragrance.  The head notes are a revelation and unlike other citrus-centric tops, very long lasting.

Zizan has a long development cycle, each one enjoyable.  The heart reveals another triad: bay, violet and jasmine.  My skin tends to amplify jasmine, so this phase isn’t too masculine but rather adds a lovely herbal floral aspect to the, now well established, top.

As Linda explains in her website review, Zizan contains not one but three different vetivers, along with cedar, musk and amber.  The beautiful base has depth without heaviness, despite the rather traditional notes.  Quality shimmers throughout this fragrance. The construction of the scent is a real marvel. It must be worn, allowed to dry down completely and preferably over time, to be fully appreciated.  Ms. Pilkington created Zizan for her male clients but, if I may say so, “Thank you!”

So what does all of this mean? Be brave, women, cross the aisle and try some of the masculine scents.  Don’t be discouraged by the sales associates determined to herd you towards your “correct” gender-identified scent counter.  There is an entirely new world of opportunity waiting for you at the men's fragrance counter!


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Ormonde Jayne