Welcome Guest! | Log in

10 Men’s Fragrances that Women Love — for Themselves

If you are a woman who loves to wear fragrance but only if it’s not too floral or girly, maybe it’s time to expand your choices. This year, why not try a men’s scent?

Odd? Not at all. Much, if not most, fragrance is unisex. It’s mainly the packaging, marketing and strength of the fragrance that categorize it as “male” or “female” and determine in which part of the department store the bottle is sold.

“I think it’s really quite outmoded to talk in terms of male and female fragrance anyhow,” says Mandy Aftel, owner and perfumer of Aftelier Perfumes, an artisinal perfumery in Berkeley. “It’s interesting, when men get to chose what fragrances they like purely from smell, they’ll often include florals, and women will choose to include something tobacco-y and woodsy. It’s really about balance and what you personally like.”

For women choosing a fragrance marketed to men, it’s best to bypass what your macho neighbor wears — you know the guy who still thinks Canoe is “a heck of a cologne.” Rather, spray on something crisp, fresh, tangy and a bit edgy. Here are some of our choices — some longtime classics, others quite 21st century. We’ve included a sampling of prices at some retailers where they can be found.

Gendarme, by Gendarme

Gendarme’s creator, Topper Schroeder, says he was merely “a fragrance consumer who didn’t know which way was up,” when he embarked in 1983 on developing a men’s scent he could wear that would not irritate his allergies.

His signature original Gendarme scent launched in 1991 and quickly became a California cult favorite; Southern California celebrities adored it. Word of mouth on the scent was big, and it’s now sold globally in more than 1,000 upscale stores.

“What is so great about Gendarme?” asks Cheri Botiz, national beauty and fragrance director for Nordstrom. “It’s a completely clean, fresh, uncomplicated scent. It’s one of my favorites. I love it on men and I love it for myself. You can’t wear it without someone stopping you in the street and asking what is that you’re wearing. For me, if there was only one fragrance left I could own and wear, it would be Gendarme.”

Schroeder claims “close to 40% of our market is sold to women who wear it themselves,” and there is now a female version called Carriere. The original Gendarme has top notes of citrus and verbena, middle notes of jasmine and thyme and a base note of leather. “This isn’t a scent that shouts ‘Oh, I’m wearing a cologne, notice me,’” Schroeder says. “Rather, it augments who and what you are. Business women seem to especially love it.”

2 ounces eau de cologne, $52.50 in Nordstrom stores and at nordstrom.com.

- Article by Janet Kinosian of the Los Angeles Times