May 23, 2007, - 12:16 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal ran a serious piece on how the cologne and perfume industry is aiming feminine-smelling, floral scents at men. I say it was a serious piece, because it was meant that way but reading it was simply hilarious.
The title of the article says it all: “Scent of a Woman — Sold for a Man.”
Yup, while Al-Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups are training and planning to annihilate us, we’re busy trying to make our men smell like women. True, the Qaeda guys may not shower much. But it won’t make much difference when our guys are dead, yet smell flowery with a note of fruity vanilla. Better for our men to be malodorous, masculine, and alive than sweet-smelling for an ephemeral moment and then rotting six-feet under or blown to bits with 2,999 others inside a skyscraper.
Guys, here’s a hint: If it includes “notes,” “hints,” “whiffs,” or any other kind of involvement of any of these ingredients–all taken from the article–it’s strictly for the opposite sex, NOT for you:
Champagne, “crisp” rhubarb, “artisanal” quince fruit paste, or Albanian juniper berries; geranium, orange blossom, iris, or anything floral.
If it has any of those, it’s a perfume, not a cologne. Perfume: It’s not for men.
If it has these adjectives–also from the article–are used in the marketing of the scented spritz, fuhgedaboutit:
“dandy” or “exotic.”
American men should be neither of these.
If the cologne is called “Fleur Du Male” (Flower of the Male or Male Flower)–the name of Jean Paul Gaultier, avoid it like the plague. Gaultier is gay. That’s a hint. Straight men don’t wear flowers . . . unless it’s on their lapel at a cheesy high school prom.
No more “male flowers” needed. We have far too many wilting ones in America, already.
Here are excerpts from this hilarious lesson in marketing and the selling down the river of America’s masculinity. Next, we’ll be seeing lacy lingerie for heterosexual men:
Rhubarb. Geranium. Orange blossom. That lineup might sound better suited to a farmer’s market, but some of the biggest names in fragrance are gambling that these seemingly unmanly aromas are the future of men’s cologne.
Long averse to anything remotely feminine . . ., a new generation of younger men has been fueling fragrance sales with a willingness to experiment with exotic ingredients. . . .
The result: an olfactory free-for-all at the men’s cologne counter that features scents often more evocative of women’s perfumes than traditional male fragrances. A new Burberry scent has hints of mimosa and port wine. Key ingredients in John Varvatos’s latest entry, Vintage, include crisp rhubarb, “artisanal” quince fruit paste and Albanian juniper berries. Kenneth Cole’s R.S.V.P. boasts notes that include “wet grass” and “soft cashmere.” And Tom Ford just started selling scents in his men’s store called Tuscan Leather and Tobacco Vanille.
“You have to be careful,” says Richard Herpin, a perfumer with fragrance and flavor company Firmenich, which has developed fragrances for Vera Wang and Bond No. 9. He describes the creative process as trial and error. “You don’t want to overdo it because then you get into something that’s not wearable for men.”
But makers aren’t simply trying to appeal to men. One advantage of fruitier, more floral scents is their potential for sales to women, some of whom have long preferred men’s cologne over those designed especially for them. . . .
Indeed, far from downplaying their feminine side, some of the new men’s colognes flaunt it. Promotional materials for Viktor & Rolf’s Antidote, which is made with jasmine, call it a “dandy fragrance” for men who appreciate fine tailoring and sartorial wit. The name of Jean Paul Gaultier’s new cologne includes the French word for flower: It’s called Fleur du Male.
Men’s colognes have their biggest following among men under 35, African Americans and Latinos, according to Mintel International, a market research firm. More than 100 men’s colognes were launched last year, compared with 61 in 2005, setting a record, according to the Fragrance Foundation. Last year, global sales of premium men’s fragrances, those sold in department stores and high-end boutiques, rose nearly 4% to about $5.86 billion, according to Euromonitor International. In the U.S., sales last year increased by nearly 3% to about $1.4 billion.
Um, there’s a hint. The company monitoring the sales of these fragrances is called “Euromonitor International,” with emphasis on the Euro. Do you want to smell “Euro”? Didn’t think so.
The scents themselves are substantially different from what many people expect men’s cologne to smell like. When reporters asked men and women to blind-test some of these new fragrances on a recent afternoon near Wall Street in New York, most people in both groups identified them as women’s perfumes rather than men’s colognes. Some used words like “feminine” or “romantic” to describe the aromas. . . .
Bob Roberts, a 33-year-old computer-security engineer in Jessup, Md., who took a chance with one of the newer scents, says it took some getting used to. When he first sprayed on Christian Dior’s Dior Homme cologne, his wife said it smelled too flowery, “like a women’s perfume.”
But after it settled in, the couple no longer smelled the iris and began to detect hints of cocoa and leather. Now, whenever Mr. Roberts sprays himself, he waits a half hour before getting too close to his wife.
Here’s a note to America’s men: If it smells like a woman or like flowers, why would you wear it? Smells like that on a man may be scent-ual, but they are not sensual. They’re a turn-off. The article said that feminine scents for women were the next step beyond unisex scents.
On a happy note, the most popular new male cologne in America–according to the Journal–is still a masculine scent:
In 2006, the fragrance with the highest overall sales among new launches in department stores and boutiques, according to market researcher NPD Group, was a men’s scent: Sean “Diddy” Combs’s Unforgivable. Mr. Combs’s cologne is heavy on citrus — Sicilian lemon, Moroccan tangerine and grapefruit — and has hints of sparkling Champagne, sage, cashmere, sea moss and sandalwood.
Yes, there’s still something to be said for cheap classics like Old Spice or whatever. Or–better yet–just a plain, good old shower and deoderant.
Tags: al-Qaeda, America, Bob Roberts, Christian Dior, computer-security engineer, Debbie Schlussel, Dior Homme, engineer, farmer, Firmenich, Fragrance Foundation, Jean Paul Gaultier, Jessup, John Varvatos, Kenneth Cole, market researcher, Maryland, Mintel International, New York, NPD Group, Richard Herpin, Sean "Diddy" Combs, the Wall Street Journal, Tom Ford, United States, USD, V.P., Vera Wang, Wall Street Journal