|Grooming Tiger ~ Source Wikimedia Commons (byKoshy Koshy)|
Then just as I was sitting down to marshal my thoughts about Angel Muse, an email came in from a male reader, whom I shall call P, inquiring about budget scents for men that I would recommend.
"Can you recommend a good value men's fragrance? Quite a short question I know, but one which is ever so perplexing when on a budget."
P's approach to me is quite timely as it happens, as only the other day I found myself moved to comment on a post entitled 'Shared Atmospheres' on A Perfume Blog about the rights and wrongs of curbing the wearing of fragrance in public spaces. I came down on the side of freedom, even at the expense of being personally affronted by other people's perfume choices.
"And I do smell a LOT of things I don't care for in the general ambient air, as much on men as women it must be said."
|Source: Harper's Weekly via Wikimedia Commons|
The distinction I would make is that whereas there is ample choice out there for women, so in theory it is easy enough to smell delightful on a shoestring, I wouldn't say the same is generally true for men. There is a lot of what I would call 'sport colognes' or 'gym & tonic'-type men's colognes, in the same general vein as Chanel Bleu, but nowhere near as classy. A chap serving in my local Coop was wearing one such scent the the other day, and his sillage in and around the checkout area nearly drove me to do my grocery shopping online! So my point is that it is harder to pick out decent options in the men's category that are also a real bargain.
And it seems Blacknall agrees:
"A larger proportion of men seem to be wearing aggressive fragrance (actually it's not fragrance properly speaking so much as olfactory artillery)."
So while I am not for a minute suggesting that any of the colognes P currently owns are remotely of that ilk, the relative scarcity of non-offensive options at the less spendy end of the spectrum makes the search that bit more of a challenge. But I immediately recalled a few fragrances I have sniffed on male friends and liked, only to learn to my surprise when I asked them what they were wearing that they were in fact pretty darn cheap, and clearly punching above their price tag. Examples of this are Activist by the Body Shop and Lynx Excite, which I even felt moved to blog about, here and here respectively!
So I wrote back to P this morning with the preliminary results of my brainstorm, and of a quick google of men's style/grooming blogs.
"Thanks for your email - that's a short but big question, hehe, as it depends so much on what styles of perfume you like and how much you want to pay.
And to be honest, I mostly cover women's fragrances, but I could ask around for you from the male blogging community. Or if you are a member of Basenotes, which is mostly populated by men, you could lob in a question there.
I personally like L'Occitane Eau des Baux on men (a vanillic woody amber number), and have smelt one of the Body Shop's range on a friend that impressed me - Activist, also an oriental. See, that is the style I like. ;) Also thought Lynx Excite (Axe in the US) wasn't bad on another friend.
If you like Oud, there's one in the Library of Fragrance / Demeter range that is cheap, and Jovan Intense Oud is a drugstore scent that smells like a poor man's Roja Dove at a hundredth of the price.
|Bottle kindly donated by Liz Moores|
I have heard good things of the Paul Smith range, but I can't tell you which.
And it is worth cruising the perfume aisle of T K Maxx for discounted scents from Penhaligon's or L'Artisan.
Check out this link - it mentions Activist I see! And a Paul Smith! I can endorse the 4711.
Also I have seen a few mentions of Grey Flannel by Geoffrey Beene, and remember that as good.
Good luck in your hunt and let me know if you would like me to approach anyone else."
|Source: Wikimedia Commons (by Nevit Dilmen)|
So that is where I am up to so far, and on a whim I decided to share P's inquiry with readers in a blog post to see if anyone has some more suggestions. Roger & Gallet Jean-Marie Farina just popped into my head, and P could of course also play around with the Library of Fragrance / Demeter range for days, on account of its enormous selection...featuring everything from oud to marshmallow to wet shed and beyond!
Oh, and if P likes Hugo BOSS the original, Lidl's X-Bolt by Bellini is a fantastic dupe at £3.99. Here's my review of that one, that caught the attention of the Daily Telegraph, no less. ;)
Then I see Old Spice is also mentioned in the link I sent P - the one and only scent I ever remember my father wearing, or at least keeping a bottle of the stuff on the bathroom shelf. I wasn't at all close to him, mind, so there was no question of me ever sitting on his lap and inhaling the smell. He wasn't a smoker either, so you can forget any Proustian pipe tobacco associations, that other friends associate with their fathers. So yes, nothing retro and paternal to bring to the party.
Editor's note: I cannot believe I have just spent an hour googling pictures of three childhood homes in Belfast, one with an epically bad avocado suite, above which Father's Old Spice bottle would have been perched - sadly I am unable to fetch up any photos from Rightmove or Lettings sites that do justice to its monstrous green splendour.
And I am assuming that P would prefer colognes that are overtly marketed to men. I say that, for we might otherwise collectively think to recommend some feminine fragrances a man could carry off with panache and aplomb, especially once you get into the realms of niche, though for cost reasons we are of course not going there. ;)
Aha, I see Panache is also an aldehydic perfume!, formerly by Lentheric, and reviewed by I Scent You A Day. I don't believe there is a fragrance called 'Aplomb' or 'Budget', or I would be tempted to pop them on the list too.