Thursday, May 3, 2012

Fragrance Review: The Best Signature Scents for Men

I've been sniffing a lot of shit lately. Okay that came out wrong -  I've been sampling many a fragrance lately. It is, thus, hard for me to narrow down the ones I would like to review. I want to make sure I get a couple of wearings out of each so that I may ensure accurate descriptions and reviews. I've tried a ton of new fragrances at Bergdorf Goodman and Barney's and all the way downtown to MiN New York. I had the opportunity to try out some more Carner Barcelona fragrances (Tardes, D600), some Byrodo and Cereus, Washington Tremlett (holy shit did I love Black Tie and that just may be my next review), Penhaligon's, and plenty more. What did I get out of this big fragrance expedition? Two things: 1. Coffee Beans are good at clearing out nostrils   2.  I am fucking fragrance nutjob.

Anyhow,since I have matched into residency all my attending physicians gasp when I tell them "I will be doing a surgical residency." They respond with "There, there child. All will be well." After looking left, right, and behind them, they lean in closer and say "Listen, in case you die during residency..just take the next two months off and spend it with your family, friends, go on vacation etc."  After a brief pause, "In probably are going to die...umm...sooo...just go home and now and savor your final days."
So I have a lot of free time before my impending demise. Since I am waiting to bust out a ton of reviews within a matter of days, I decided to do a series of "advice" reviews...what better way to kick this off than to let dudes in on the best signature scents out there.

With that said, these are listed in no particular order. I am writing about them as they come to mind. So don't freak out if you see some overly hyped fragrance at the bottom of the list. I will do my best to keep it under 10 or 15, since there are a TON of signature scent colognes...the ones I will pick are the ones I have tried or have, and are in my opinion UNIQUE, DIFFERENT, and NOT something EVERYONEEE and their daddy has. There will be a mix of designer and niche. Some are popular, but you won't smell them ubiquitously (at least I haven't and I live in New York fucking City).

1. Terre D'Hermes EDT by Hermes  

The surrogate mother who gave birth to this thread. When I saw my half empty bottle of Terre sitting in my fragrance fridge (told you I'm a nutcase) I thought "holy ass...let's do a signature scent review in the meantime)! This is the epitome of signature in my opinion. You cannot get more versatile than this. The fragrance is fresh and "sparkly" enough to carry you through the warmer weather, yet so deep, earthy, and rich to provide solace in the colder months. Perfect for any affair, Terre D'Hermes is a must try citrus centered earthy fragrance that will garner compliments while simultaneously keeping it inoffensive regardless of season or situation.

2. Canali for Men EDT/Canali Prestige EDP

Classic Italian. These are two extremely signature worthy scents by the elegant house of Canali -  a designer that truly flies under the radar, but puts out excellent scents, in my opinion. The reason I put Canali for Men EDT and the EDP Prestige edition is not because of a tie...but because of the notorious longevity issues with the original Canali for Men (the bottle on top). Canali for Men EDT is a fruity, leathery, musk based fragrance that is extremely classy and clean. Most importantly, to be signature you must be versatile, and Canali sure as hell knows how to put out dynamic scents. In fact, I think all of their fragrances are signature worthy, but these two are by far the best in my opinion. I prefer the EDT over the EDP Prestige (bottom bottle)...the reason is the EDT provides a great sense of freshness that does very well in the spring and summer. The mid to drydown provides woods and leather that truly flourish in the cooler periods. The Prestige edition still maintains this uplifting feeling but it is still darker than the original and a lot woodier, making it better for cooler weather. However I decided to throw it into the review because the longevity really does suffer with the EDT, and for those who LOVE the original but truly can't stand the lack of staying power, then the EDP is the way to go!

3. New Haarlem by Bond No. 9
HEAR ME OUT FIRST! Yes, I know, your average fragrance connoisseur will be like "What on EARTH are you talking about??? This is SO not a signature, because it is a coffee based GOURMAND and it is ONLY applicable in the COLDEST weather.
To thee I say, bullshit.
Why? Because this fragrance is GENIUS that's why! Maurice Roucel truly made a pastry like scent uplifting, but green at the same time! Yes, there is some greenness to it that really gives it a fresh tune. Sweet...but a very nice, pleasant sweet. The kind of sweet that makes you sigh. The type of feeling you get when you eat your favorite chocolate dessert and wash it down with a cold glass of milk (assuming you're not lactose. Then just go ahead and drink some soy or some shit like every other damn New Yorker). True, NH is a coffee based fragrance that reminds many of french toast, coffee cakes, syrupy pancakes, and thus only relevant for the cold. Oh it does great in the cold. BUT, if you go light on the trigger, this will do WONDERS no matter WHERE you are! 
Sillage is what counts because it is what everyone else smells. This is YOUR smell. This is YOUR aura. New Haarlem envelopes you in the most majestic, and magnificent of force fields. This is the kind of aura that Rick James had ladies and gents. An extremely LIGHT, syrupy coffee scent is emitted. Now if you douse yourself in this shit (as with any fragrance) it will knock you the fuck out. But, I think this is an extremely versatile fragrance if DONE lightly in the seasons most would say it is unfit for (namely, summer and warm springs). But overall, just go easy with it, and believe me you will enjoy your experience with this as a signature scent.

4. Aventus by Creed

When it comes to CREED, times get tough man. For real. This was a very hard decision because I think most CREED fragrances can fall under the signature scent category. Take your pick among the Green Irish Tweeds, Millesime's, and Original's and you won't go wrong. So why did I pick CREED's latest creation as the best of signature scent's for men? Because it has a little bit of everything. Aventus is a fruity blast, no doubt, but that is not all to it. To me, it is a "fruit absolute"..meaning, the natural smell of fruits extracted into oil form. This bestows an elegant feel but very resilient as well. Aventus is sure to garner compliments and I speak from experience. Work day? No problem. Night out with the boys or the significant other? Aventus will prove to be a worthy wingman as it mingles with the atmosphere. This is one brilliant smoky, leather based, fruit fragrance that will wow those around you. It is just brilliant and an extremely well put signature scent. (if you find yourself out at a Creed Boutique or any retailer of, check out Original Santal, Millisime Imperiale, Green Irish Tweed, and Himalaya - I find these other great Creed fragrances that can act as your olfactory branding).

5. Allure Homme by Chanel and its flankers

Like Creed, here is another fragrance house that truly rocks the signature scent world...and what more do I have to say about this timeless classic that hasn't already been said? An epitome of signature fragrances. Honestly, when I think of the word "cologne"...I think of Allure. It just has that perfect "cologne" smell. A gorgeous blend of woods, florals, and citrus. Extremely well balanced and well blended. If Allure poses to be a little too much for you, try the flankers (Allure Homme Sport and Allure Homme Edition Blanche. These are lighter versions of the original and still do the job well). But, in my honest opinion, I would make Allure Homme the original my signature amongst the 3.  (While you're at the Chanel counter, check out Platinum Egoiste while you're at it. Though I prefer the original Egoiste, it is not signature worthy and mainly a cold weather scent. The Platinum edition would do very well as a signature. Oh, toss in Bleu De Chanel as well  :-).

6. L'Homme by Yves Saint Laurent
 Speaking of the word, "cologne," here is yet another fragrance that comes to mind with that awesome "men's cologne" smell. When I first tried this out, I remember spraying this on in Long Island at a boutique at some rich people mall and subsequently getting lost on the winding, snake-like roads of the Northern Shore of Central Long Island. While I was driving with my windows down (the North Shore of Long Island has some absolutely breath taking scenery plus it was Spring so the breeze from the water was magical) I caught whiffs of L'Homme. The sillage is a gorgeous, well blended, soft, woody, and citrus, with this phenomenal "tang" offered by ginger. Believe me, this shit is sexy while simultaneously exuding class. Additionally, it is so versatile...not too cloying in the warmer months, perfect for Spring (in fact, probably BEST in spring), excellent in the winter, perfect for any occasion, and when the skin warms up..L'Homme truly blooms. Of course, with such rave must come some guessed it...longevity. On my skin this stuff gives me about 4-5 hours....NOT bad, but not great either. I like my colognes to last very long. Projection is extraordinary during its short but fulfilling lifespan.

I am sure at this point, you may wonder which of these (if any) is my signature scent. None. My signature is completely out of the blue. Not because I am trying to be cool or is because  the scent that exemplifies me is so damn good I just cannot go days without wearing it. In addition, this fragrance truly is ME. At first, it was just a personal belief...I would always say, this is "Abhi in a bottle." I thought maybe it was just my own way of pleasing my mind but then others who smelled this on me or from the bottle would say "This scent is TOTALLY you" or "Wow you definitely pull this stuff off."  What is it you ask?  Ambre Narguile by Hermes. 

This shit is completely mind blowing. It is spicy, comforting, very daring, and extremely seductive. Is that why I wear it? No...that's what I felt when I first smelled it though. I wear it because it's just a gorgeous, transparent, scent that really takes me on a magic carpet ride, every time I wear it..which is often. In the summer, I don't wear it much..sometimes I'll spray one on my chest...enough to get a light, airy, "tasting," if you will, of doesn't becoming cloying in the summer if done this way and I still get to enjoy it! Its not that versatile, it's not good for every occasion, but I don't give a rat's bum about that. I love it and it's my signature!  However, within the Hermessence line of fragrances, the one I find very signature worthy is Vetiver Tonka.  Moving on....

6.  Dior Homme EDT by Christian Dior

 One of the most raved fragrances in the community is the Intense version of Dior Homme. The intense version, however, is NOT a signature scent. The original Dior Homme, pictured here, is a very versatile fragrance. As a semi-sweet, powdery, iris themed floral fragrance with cocoa undertones, Dior Homme has an extremely transparent feel and creates a feather-like ambiance. I find this extremely pleasing and would do well in any situation or environment. Though it is a light fragrance it sure makes a go light on the trigger or else consider this feather tied to a cannon ball, aiming for your nose!

7. L'instant de Guerlain EDT

This is a BEAUTIFUL fragrance. I mean beautiful in its most accurate something that is so friggin' pretty that you cannot keep your eyes off it. If beauty was a scent, it would be the L'Instant family. How Guerlain does it, I don't know, but a magnificent blend of anise, jasmine, cocoa, woods, and citruses is what fills this classy bottle. The EDT is great..but, longevity is lackluster. If you need to fulfill your lasting needs, the Extreme EDP version of this fragrance will surely do the job...I think the EDT makes a better olfactory barcode for yourself. Don't get me wrong, the EDP is still a good signature, but the EDT is just better for that purpose. If longevity poses to be an issue...EDP all the way. This is a classy, charming, yet alluring scent for your everyday needs. Definitely check this one out!

8. Vetiver Extraordinaire by Dominique Ropion for Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Vetiver is done exceptionally well in this fragrance, and gives it such a versatile flavor. The vetiver here elopes with a beautiful woody and earthy base. I sense an initial blast of lime which truly anchors the vetiver from being too dense and unbearable. This is one of two Frederic Malle's I own..the other I even have to say it? Anyhow, I think for a niche vetiver fragrance, this is done phenomenally well...the vetiver keeps it fresh..absolutely fresh, and with bergamot and lime lurking in the top notes, you have an excellent warm weather feel. Even in the cold however, the vetiver is so extremely grounded by the deep woods and earthiness, that a cool breeze compliments the sillage and people will definitely ask you what that amazing fragrance you are wearing is called. How do I know? Because it has happened a lot when I wear VE in the winter time! I think it is a fragrance best suited for Spring, but overall, a good year-round scent.

9. Graphite Blue by Realities (Liz Claiborne). 

If you are on a budget, consider this your best bet for a signature. This is good stuff man, seriously! There are others, but this one comes to mind first. I had to take my sister to Sears once in NJ to return something, and I got bored waiting around and didn't want to walk the mall. Since the Sears fragrance department was close by I just went over and sampled whatever was out. Normally I would go to Sephora, Nordstroms, or Lord and Taylor for my "designer" sampling...Sears would have never come to mind. But holy smokes was I glad I sampled Sears' shit. Graphite Blue has a very slight resemblance to Dolce & Gabbana Pour Homme. However, that woody/citrusy/almost pungent start to D&G is missing in Graphite Blue. This is a very nice, clean, peppery, smell with a smooth woody finish. It gives an excellent sillage, sure to garner compliments, a great fraction of the cost of even low end designer scents (look for this online), classy, and well-rounded!

10. Endymion by Penhaligons

Will definitely be a purchase. I fell in love with this scent as soon as I tried it and it had signature written all over it. This is layered scent with different "types of" personalities in one. The scent starts out with this nice, clean, citrusy, soapy beginning  courtesy of bergamot, lavendar, and some musk in the backdrop. Later, leather begins to reveal itself as the coffee note lingers. I get a incensy or smoky vibe from this...something extremely mysterious but clean! A versatile, mysterious, clean scent....very complex and evolving. I love it! In fact, I may just go buy it now!! A full review is sure to come!

11.  Reflection Man by Amouage

Before I go on, those on a budget..step the fuck away. This fragrance doesn't put dents in wallets. It totals them. Is it worth the price tag...ehhhh...I think so...WHY...because of pure quality. It's not an earth shattering fragrance..but it is a beautiful one...and a signature worthy scent. When you smell Reflection Man on someone, you think to yourself "I've smelled this shit somewhere.." will remind someone of Le Male, if they have smelled Le Male. But this is Le Male done right. Props to Jean Paul Gaultier, by the way, because here I am mentioning how a niche house got Le Male right ... (this is expected of a niche house)...but for a designer to even put out something as unique as Le Male in the first place? Now that's just noteworthy, so good for you Jean Paul did a good job! Although Le Male is a fine fragrance, it's got something missing...and leave it to a niche house to find that missing link..what it is Le Male "cologne" shall we say? A finer, lighter, version of the JPG classic. Reflection is a powdery, floriental that I like to call "Suave Juice." This is Man Swagger in a bottle man...I sense something far different from Le Male...yes there's something reminiscent of Le Male..but Reflection bases all its plays around the main player..Jasmine. A powdery jasmine with an airy woody finish. Sillage on this shit is enchanting...purely enchanting. In fact, this is so good you will want to put it on EVERYDAY...if you have the money, cop this as your signature. You won't be disappointed. I have half of my 5 mL decant left, and I use it on days when I know I will be around does it do you ask? Hahahaha...sigghhh....I am a straight guy and this fragrance was a lady and man killer!

12. Muscs Kublai Khan by Serge Lutens

 Walk around NYC all day and I guarantee you you will not smell anyone with a Serge Lutens on. I have yet to smell Chergui, Borneo, or Une Bois Vanille (the most popular Lutens fragrances) on anyone. In fact, lately I have been smelling Aventus on a lot in the Village. Don't know why...I mean it is an amazing fragrance but hmm interesting isolation of Aventus to the Village area of NYC. Anyhow, Muscs Kublai Khan, if applied appropriately in respective temperatures, can truly be your signature scent. Musk is a masculine, refined, clean, and versatile ingredient in perfume...just like vetiver and citruses. However, this is a very inviting Musc...not a sweet oriental like Musc Ravageur...but this is a spicy, incense based musk.If applied lightly, the aura it forms is breathtaking, and even in the summer it will be pleasing to anyone who has the privilege of taking a whiff of this scent. I absolutely love it!

13. Anvers by Ulrich Lange 

a very well crafted masculine scent by Ulrich Lange New York. This floral fragrance thrives on violets, sweetened by honey, but a citrusy freshness to it. Imagine potpourri formed by lime zest and a ton of flowers, and throw some sweet woods into the mix. The scent isn't too sweet, but the floral aspect is slightly toned down by the honey. I think this is a wonderful year-round scent, not many people have this or even look for it...try to find this on ebay as it is way cheaper than what you would pay for on luckyscent.

14. Rocky Mountain Wood by Dsquared2

speaking of florals, Rocky Mountain Wood is the definition of flowery goodness.  Violets and sauna wood, joined together in holy matrimony. When I wear this I am instantly taken to a cool, breezy, cabin, sitting on the porch cleaning sharpening my axe (because I'm a man like that)..while my lungs fill with the gorgeous air formed by mystique of the surrounding mountains, the beauty of the violets and lilies growing by my side, and a woodiness stemming from the cabin grounds. Majestic scent, my go to springtime, but PERFECT for a signature..believe me on this. When my father, who isn't too fond of colognes, sprayed this on once, it was his go to! He told me to leave my bottle at home so he can use it...this is coming from a guy who only had two "Holy Shit" reactions to fragrances...Rocky Mountain Wood and Musc Ravageur. Go figure.

15. Straight to Heaven by Kilian

What better way to end this with a Kilian? Now, MY personal signature used to be Sweet Redemption. That's just me though. From a universal perspective, I find no better signature from the Kilian line than this baby right here. A boozy wood fragrance, Straight to Heaven unleashes itself with an initial burst of rum and some sweet fruits. After about a while, imagine an elevator made of pure cedarwood, filled with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. The rum note becomes a tad bit sweeter to tone down the boozy spicy feel. You're left with a gorgeous, sweet, boozy drydown that really makes me feel like I'm chillin' with Johnny Depp on a pirate ship. Man, just thinking about this is making me want to put some on. I shall. Hefty pricetag, but my recommendation for Kilian fragrances is to buy yourself a decant, go on amazon or ebay, and by the 1.7 fl oz refill bottle. Kilian at a cost, sans the beautiful box and bottle it comes with (Kilian has the BEST presentation of any fragrance house. Period).



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  2. Great Review. Cant wait to try some of those. Have you tried Christian Clive C? that rocks!

  3. I found this article so worthy.. thanks for sharing

  4. This is a great post. What is the other Frederic Malle you own and enjoy?

  5. I love this list.i have bought more than five of them and love every one. Thank you.
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