Friday, December 17, 2010

One Sex

I was busying my mind this past evening with thoughts of how so many serious perfume lovers don't seem to have many stigmas when it comes to whether any given perfume should be worn by a man or a woman. I love the adventurous nature of perfume lovers. Even if someone has very particular tastes (and we all do, don't we?), they are usually first in line to try something new to them or different, regardless of which sex the scent is intended for. Plenty of scents have qualities that speak clearly of femininity and masculinity, but it seems some of the most well-loved scents among us can easily be, and are, worn by either sex.

One of my very favorite perfumes that fit this category is Comme des Garcons Wonderwood. It contains insanely smooth varied woods, slight incense and nutmeg, and is a perfect scent for the cooler months. It also has a light feel to it thanks to a little punch of bergamot and cedar, and could safely suit any season.

Next I'd like to mention Tom Ford Private Blend Oud Wood. This is not just an earthy oud, there are vague spices present that remind me a bit of Black Orchid. There is a somewhat sweet drydown that meshes with my body chemistry in the most perfect way imaginable. This scent is a chameleon, for sure.

The last scent I'm favoring for this topic is Le Labo Gaiac 10 (Tokyo Exclusive). Continuing along the heavily woody path, Gaiac 10 leaves an impression of tea on my skin along with freshly snapped cedar branches, olibanum and a soft base of musk that wears very close to the skin. This is a radiant and lovely scent that I would be very happy to have a full bottle of, but geography says I cannot.

What are your favorite "unisex" scents?

[photo of the beautiful Jenny Shimizu from Rodarte: the book]


  1. Great question! I dispensed with perfume and gender I think from the very beginning. In high school, I loved Grey Flannel and wore it to bed. (It was Texas in the late 80s, after all, and wearing a man's cologne to HS then was too risky even for me.)

    But off the top of my head, I love Aramis, Musc Ravageur, Bulgari Black, Bois Moracain by Tom Ford...

  2. Musc Ravageur is on my list to try, I keep hearing lots of raves about it!

  3. I see all of my favorites as unisex scents :)But, I know what you mean. I would say the top ones are TF Oud Wood, Bvlgari Black, Musc Ravageur (the perfume oil which I find more feminine), and 4711. I tend to like "masculine" notes: leather, oud, patchouli, incense.
    I used to wear Burberry Weekend for Men and have a chain wallet in high school in TN, a place not suitable for genderqueers. I was called so many names. But, I've lived to tell the story!

  4. There is really no need for gendered fragrances. Think of everyday scents that many people like regardless of gender: vanilla, bread, grass, hay leather etc...this should also apply to perfume.

  5. I love your choices, especially Wonderwood! For me, the best line to bend the gender division is Serge Lutens. I can see a man wearing even something like Tubereuse Criminelle (well, he would have to adventurous!) :) Of course, the divisions are mostly cultural, because in the Middle East men wear rose based fragrances as do women. To smell rose attar emanating from a tall, dark, (and quite often handsome!) man really changes one's perspectives on what is gender appropriate.

  6. Victoria J.- Seems like many of us were picked on at school. I managed to scare them all away by cursing like a truck driver (I still do, bad habit).

    JoanElaine: I definitely see your point. There is still a part of me that wants perfumers to make insanely girly concoctions, though, and the opposite of that too, and everything in between. The extremes are fascinating, but I think it's the "in-between" which tickles most of our fancy. Having the lines blurred is a comforting thing for me, and perhaps many of us. So basically, perfumers: DO IT ALL. :)

    Victoria: I would LOVE to smell rose attar on a tall, dark and handsome man, so if you can arrange that, it'd be great. Because my husband barely will wear anything at all, let alone rose attar.

  7. For a long time, I liked more masculines than feminines, and most of the rest of my collection was unisex. Then I learned that it's _modern_ namby-pamby ruffly fruity floral "fresh" feminines that I don't like, and I started collecting old-fashioned or ultramodern bombshell florals.

    My favorite unisex scent is no doubt Sushi Imperiale, though there's no masculine/feminine strain about that--it doesn't "feel" masculine on me at all. (And I'm confident that on a man, it wouldn't feel at all feminine.) My favorite masculine-that-feels-masculine is probably Art of Shaving Sandalwood.

  8. My husband uses Art of Shaving unscented products, but maybe I can coax him to try the Sandalwood and then sneak some of it.