Tobacco and honey go on a head-on collision in Guerlain’s latest expression of its L’Art & La Matière collection. The headiness of raw tobacco (think a woody, almost intoxicating ruggedness) is smoothed over with Calabrian honey (a beloved honey extract of the house), to form a sensual tension of opposites. At the heart of both ingredients is a common warmth that grounds Tobacco Honey. It is ambery in profile, but the concocted tobacco accord—a combination of various raw materials to replicate that distinct tobacco note—is enveloped in vanilla, tonka bean and sesame for a balanced sweetness.
There is no doubt that Tobacco Honey is rich and decadent, reflected by its liquid gold-like colouring of its resulting formulation. And because this is part of Guerlain’s L’Art & La Matière collection, the fragrance’s vessel is just as decadent. Artist Anne Féat Gaiss, whose work involves sculpting paper, created a plate for Tobacco Honey’s cap involving sculpted paper that’s then glided with copper leaf as a beautiful reflection of the fragrance.
One of the oldest known perfume ingredients, myrrh is often considered to have a complex fragrance profile that is difficult to describe. It is earthy in nature, lending a woody and warm aroma that can be pungent and bitter at the same time. In perfumery, it is often used to add depth, based on its complexity alone. In Myrrhe Mystère, Tom Ford Beauty plays on its mysterious profile as its central hero.
Myrrhe Mystère enlists the power and mystique of two myrrh-based elements—myrrh essence and a trademarked myrrh resinoid orpur formulation—that are then combined with its Ultra Vanille accord infused in a number of existing Tom Ford fragrances. The resultant fragrance is one that envelopes with a rich aura. It’s an undoubtedly sophisticated scent meant to act as a provocative and vibrational expression of myrrh. But with the balanced blend of the earthiness of myrrh, the sweetness of vanilla and the woodiness of sandalwood, Myrrhe Mystère evokes a calm serenity.
Yves Saint Laurent Beauty’s Libre series is proving to be a favoured androgynous fragrance. The House expands the tension between masculine and feminine nuances with Libre L’Absolu Platine. Concocted by master perfumers Anne Flip and Carlos Benaïm—the duo behind the original Libre eau de parfum—a new accord that they’re calling “white lavender” gives Libre L’Absolu Platine its piercing scent.
The Libre series is already beloved for its Diva Lavender Heart (crafted specifically for Yves Saint Laurent) that amps up the floral expression of the lavender essence extracted from Diva lavender grown in Provence. The white lavender accord elevates the natural characteristics of lavender with its icy sheen provided by a vegetal aldehyde, polygonum. The result is an almost metallic note that cuts through, bringing about a renewed freshness that’s balanced out with orange blossom—another Libre ingredient. Like the best of tailoring, Libre L’Absolu Platine is sharp while altogether cool and powdery for a fragrance that’s undeniably sexy.
The latest in Louis Vuitton’s Les Extraits collection by master perfumer Jacques Cavallier Belletrud is Myriad. Like its five other single-named fragrances in the collection, Myriad is what Louis Vuitton considers its ultimate expression of perfume that breaks free from convention.
Oud is the olfactory ingredient on which Myriad is based. Belletrud looked to the essence of Assam oud selected from a supplier in Bangladesh that is now exclusive to the maison. The strong woody and spicy depth of oud is beautifully balanced with floral notes developed through a combination of different roses. Bulgarian rose and Grasse-sourced May rose are mixed to produce a delectable rose combo that is fresh and rounded. To amplify the leathery nuances of oud, saffron is added to the mix, while cocoa, ambrette, white musk and a note of moss work together to lift the fragrance for a velvety finish. There is intensity and lightness—an unlikely contrast that speaks volumes of the complexity of Myriad. It is topped with a Frank Gehry-designed cap to further accentuate the exceptional level of quality.
Take a second and think about your favourite go-to scents. Chances are, you’re thinking about something that’s woody, musky and perhaps powdery—sensual notes that are typically at the base of some of the best-selling men’s fragrances out there. Dior Sauvage and Bleu de Chanel for example, contain base notes of vanilla and amber, and sandalwood respectively.
These grounded notes belong to the warmer side of the fragrance wheel where olfactive families the likes of amber, woody, and fougère (French for “fern”) reside. The latter of which is probably the most used olfactive family in masculine scents. In fact, both the aforementioned Dior Sauvage and Bleu de Chanel are classified as such.
A fragrance is more often than not, quite a subjective experience. While there tends to be a gendered approach to it—as with most things—there’s hardly any reason why a scent shouldn’t be used because it’s crafted and tagged to be worn by a specific gender. Having said that, there’s a common understanding that masculine fragrances favour a heavier overall feel. That’s totally fine, except in cases where humidity levels already weigh one down.
There’s a reason why warm-profile fragrances are typically worn in the colder months of the year. The rich and sometimes intense notes of warmer fragrances may be great for a lingering sillage, but in humid conditions, they’re often overpowering. Couple that with incessant sweating, and you’ve got yourself quite an uncomfortable combination.
Green fragrances are one of the more underrated scent profiles, especially in the men’s fragrance space. Green sits somewhere in between floral and aqua scent profiles. They’re meant to capture the feeling of being in the outdoors with natural notes of grass as well as the sharp freshness of cucumber-esque notes. An inherent lightness lies in the base notes exuding a typically subtle scent, but green formulations can be mixed with more full-bodied accords to create quite a well-balanced fragrance.
Consider a green fragrance like a much needed spritz of cool mist in the summer heat—inviting and thoroughly refreshing.
Because the great outdoors, in essence, comprise of a myriad of scents, it’s not exactly right to say that green fragrances have little aromatic impact. Take Guerlain’s Herbes Troublantes for example. The first whiff is immediately light and refreshing, brought about by essences of thyme, mint and rosemary. It then settles to a powdery body, but only just a tinge.
The same can be said of Jardin à Cythère by Hermès. Inspired by the Greek island of Kythira, the fragrance is a sublime combination of grasses and olive wood that is tied together with fresh pistachio. There’s a slight warmth that comes through but like a breath of fresh air, Jardin à Cythère gives off an overall feeling of brightness.
Citrus notes help to elevate both Acqua di Parma’s Fico di Amalfi and Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Aqua Media. While Italian lemon gives the former a distinct lemony accent, the latter gets its citrus inflections thanks to a verbena accord that heightens the citrusy aspects of verbena leaves. Both fragrances pack quite a punch at the start before smoothing out to a clean and natural finish.
For something slightly on the floral side, opt for Highgrove Bouquet by Penhaligon’s. Its deceptive in the sense that one wouldn’t probably expect a dose of sweet floral to cut through. Yet at the same time, it’s wonderfully light and airy.
If you’re hesitant about leaving behind the musk, there are a number of green fragrances that have been teamed up with musky accords. Start off with Creed’s Green Irish Tweed—one of the house’s best-selling fragrances—consisting of a familiar sandalwood base. It’s in the inclusion of Egyptian geranium, lavender, violet as well as bergamot that tips the fragrance to the green side of things.
Chanel’s Coco Noir bridge the olfactory space between amber and green quite beautifully. It’s an overall musky scent but is somewhat muted by the presence of bergamot and geranium rose leaf. And yes, it’s categorically a women’s fragrance but who could even tell?
Probably the most musky of the lot in this edit—at least in the initial whiff—Aesop’s Erémia remains vibrant and fresh. The top notes are mostly citrus-heavy with yuzu and grapefruit, and then balanced with bergamot. Its middle goes full green with green tea and mimosa, but it’s in the base that the green profile is further enhanced with galbanum. To tie it all down, patchouli affords Erèmia that distinct musky scent you’d easily be drawn to.
Photography: Jaya Khidir
Styling: Justin Neo