Monday, 14 June 2010

Don't Go To The Aftershave Counter Without Me

In the previous article in my perfume series, I mentioned the dauntingness of the perfume counter for women. However, it's also not always the most comfortable place for men either, and this is perhaps magnified by the fact that they perhaps feel that they shouldn't even being going into perfumeries at all. Boots or Debenhams is one thing; a specialist perfume store is quite another.

I also talked in my previous article about some of the negative attributes of salespeople in these shops; however, this is not to say that it's all bad. The UK and US' customer service is perhaps second to none, and it's something I've really missed since moving to France (where in the job for life culture, shop assistants do have a tendency to act like they're doing you a favour, and know that almost no matter what they do they'll still keep their job). If you're not sure about what to buy (which is perhaps especially true for men, given that they are often not as predisposed as women to be seduced by prettyful packaging), then you shouldn't be scared to talk to a sales assistant - many are friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. Nevertheless, as I have discussed in the past, there is nothing wrong with having some idea of what you're looking for before you begin, hence my little tour of the fragrance wheel, started in May.

While women's fragrances are likely to encompass all areas of the fragrance wheel, men's are likely to only fall into two or three categories, perhaps favouring woody and oriental scents over fresh and fruity ones (though that isn't to say that there aren't aftershaves that fall into these latter categories - Hermès in particular is a brand that thrives with its fruity and fresh fragrances, perhaps due to its marketing strategy of publicising them as unisex rather than specifically as male or female perfumes). Yves St Laurent aftershave boasts another wide range of scents, showing even as an example of just one brand that there really is a fragrance out there for every man. Kouros provides a highly 'woody' experience, featuring cedar wood and camphor wood, while still making mild forays into freshness with eucalyptus and into the oriental zone with incense. Woods mixed with spices come to men in the forms of La Nuit de l'Homme and (perhaps YSL's most famous fragrance?) Opium pour Homme. However, even at YSL things can still get floral and fruity for men: Jazz offers notes of rose and carnation alongside the heavier leather, Pour Homme incorporates lemon and lavender with those now-familiar woody elements, and lavender and rosemary meet clove and vetiver in Rive Gauche Homme. There - I bet you're feeling better about this whole aftershave thing already.

And now for an entirely subjective top 5 aftershaves from the man of the house:
Hermès Terre D'Hermès ("A woody, vegetal and mineral eau de toilette")
Dior Fahrenheit ("warm, subtle, and distinguished". Contains: nutmeg, sandalwood, cedar, patchouli...)
Chanel Allure Homme Sport ("Possesses a blend of vetiver, amber, neroli, Atlas cedar...")
Cartier Roadster (bergamot, mint, vanilla, patchouli, vetiver)
Dior Dune ("This masculine scent possesses a blend of leaves, basil, mandarin, moss, sage and cedar")
Hermès Voyage ("a woody fresh musky scent")

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