Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Blind gift buying reprised - selfish scent suggestions for someone else's son

Source: parfumo.net
I am not managing to post as often as I used - or would like - to, but as many fellow bloggers find, work and general life 'stuff' have a habit of getting in the way.  Another factor in my own case is that I have a ton of penpals - both regular and fumie friends - and can easily while away a whole evening catching up on emails.  Like last night indeed, when I received a request from my old English teacher - she of The White Company Noir tip off in my previous post - to help her pick out a perfume for her middle son, aged approximately 30.  I might add that I have not seen this chap since he was a baby, when I famously tried to change his nappy as he scuttled round the living room, defiant and gurgling with glee:

"I am going to buy P aftershave for Christmas and was wondering what you would recommend - blind as it were, as you don't know his tastes. The thing is, he is very easily made happy so will be pleased whatever I get, so I could just go into a shop and buy something with a respectable name (at about £50-60...is that reasonable?...though he is like me in that he enjoys a bargain!) but I thought I would run it past you."

At this point I should perhaps rewind and take a quick look at my recent statements about the whole business of blind buying...and how my stance has since softened slightly, but with caveats! The notion has been in my mind this past month or so, ever since Undina's post at the end of October - and subsequent statistics - on blind perfume gift buying.  She was more or less against the idea until she encountered Ineke's Scent Library, which she figured was so easy to like it could safely be given to family members who had either minimal interest or indeterminate taste in perfume.  In fairness the set comprises five different samples, so there is an element of bet hedging going on. ;-)

Then just the other day Persolaise published some 2013 Christmas perfume gift recommendations, featuring perfume suggestions for generic characters such as a 'distinguished older lady' - and 'gent' - or a 'little prince' and 'princess' etc.

My distinguished older great-grandmother 

So I left a slightly waggish comment:

"At the risk of sounding a Bah Humbug note, is it wise to be buying perfume gifts for other people in the first place? A voucher for Selfridges / Liberty etc might be the way to go, though it would make for a shorter post!..."

Then in my piece on The White Company's Noir, I boldly asserted that I would feel comfortable giving Noir to a friend, which understandably struck Natalie of Another Perfume Blog as 'pretty amazing'.  I did, however, qualify this comment by saying that I would only give Noir to a person whose taste I knew to lie in that general Jo Malone Dark Amber & Ginger Lily direction.  My point about Persolaise's picks was that they were rather blanket / typecast in nature - all distinguished older ladies, all young boys etc - though he probably didn't mean them to be taken too seriously either. ;-)

Source: pinterest.com

And now here I was faced with another scenario in which I would potentially be recommending a blind buy and going against my usual principles on the matter.  The twist though was that my friend's son was being positioned as "very easily made happy", which gave me rather a lot of free rein!  I realised I could therefore approach this task from my friend's perspective, as in: "What male colognes would I like to smell on my son?", or even from my own standpoint:  "What male colognes would I like to smell on my friend's son if I were ever to meet the adult version of the baby of my distant recollection?"  And on this basis I wrote straight back as follows...

"Okay, that is easy, as there are some wonderful classy classics that are within your budget that I would personally like to smell on any man.

My top pick is Chanel pour Monsieur, which is subtle and soft, yet with a beautiful citrus opening totally unlike the horrible synthetic 'tonic sport accord' you get in so many men's aftershaves these days.  I saw a small bottle of that in Boots for just £22.50!

Source: fragrantica.com

Equal favourite - but in a different, somewhat more feminine style - is Dior Homme, created by a Chanel perfumer as it happens.  It is a soft iris floral for men and quite swoonworthy in my view, and would suit someone comfortable with his feminine side.  My friend C's husband has both of these and he is a real A-type man, so I was most encouraged.  They smell terrific on him.

Source: cafleurebon.com

Other nice scents would be Guerlain Homme, which has a famous mojito top note(!), and Gucci II pour Homme, which has violet leaf, bergamot and a little soft spice.  

Source: babillages.net

Am attaching photos of all of these, as the scent market is such a minefield with so many similar sounding fragrances.

Source: ebay.co.uk

And lastly, if P would prefer something more overtly butch, more nodding towards Sean Connery or Antonio Banderas - who I think does indeed wear this! - there is Dior Eau Sauvage, a classic from the 60s that still smells good today. All the above should be available in Boots or a reasonable department store.

Source: myperfumesforless.com

I have avoided extremely spicy or woody scents in case that is too 'far out' for P.  Another good cologne is in fact Acqua di Parma's Colonia, come to think of it, or Colonia Intensa, but I would still go with Chanel myself.

Oh, and I smelt the AdP Oud scent at the weekend, and liked it a lot, but oud is a bit of a specialist taste. Here's a review of it...


You might want to consider that as a possible future bottle, having established if P cares for really woody notes? And whether you do indeed - I think it is important that you should like what you have bought him - for when he comes to visit! - so I suggest you try to smell all the main recommendations above.

That should keep your vetting nose busy...

Oh, and on the subject of bargains here's a great Lidl tip for men - G Bellini X-Bolt smells just like Hugo Boss Bottled (the original)!  So that is a bonus cheapie stocking filler option if you wanted - for £3.99 as usual...;-)


(NB As you may have inferred, with the exception of the wild card Lidl pick, I stuck to mainstream brands for reasons of name recognition, budget, and ease of in-store testing.)

And today I heard back from my friend, who was pleased with my suggestions and pronounced them "worthy of publication".  So here it is - a blog post based on the very hobby of writing to friends that so readily (and agreeably) diverts me from blogging.

So... I would be interested to hear what scents you (would) like to smell on your menfolk?  
(If it was left up to you I mean, rather than factoring in the man's personal preferences, as in our present 'easily made happy' case...;-) )

And do you think it is necessary to take account of age or lifestyle - more so than I have done, say?
P is an advertising professional based in the South East - that's all I know about his grown up self.  I must admit that I haven't really taken his age into account if it is a factor - as I say, I am coming at the exercise from a selfish point of view!

By the way, I have since discovered that the Acqua di Parma oud scent is £135 for 100ml, so that puts it out of court, even for a future occasion.  What's with this big bottle trend?  I for one do not approve...

Not quite worth the money, even for the lining...! Source: ebay.co.uk


Anonymous said...

All men should wear - okay, at least try on - either Guerlain L'Instant Pour Homme or Caron Troisième Homme. --AnnieA

Undina said...

If I had to choose a perfume as a gift for a 30-50 years old man with a budget of under $100 (~60 pounds), I would suggest:
1. Diptyque Tam Dao
2. Ineke Field Notes From Paris
3. Hermes Terre d'Hermes
4. Ateler Cologne Trefle Pur, Bois Blonds,Vetiver Fatal or Grand Neroli (30 ml bottle)
5. Le Labo Santal 33 (15 ml)
6. M.Micallef Royal Vintage (30 ml)
7. Parfum d'Empire Cuir Ottoman (50 ml)
8. Parfumerie Generale Indochine
9. Sonoma Scent Studio Winter Woods
10. Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight in Paris

Ines said...

I had to google now because all these homme perfumes get mixed in my head.
So the one I enjoyed smelling on my boyfriend was YSL Homme and Nuit de l'Homme.
It seems if it's named only Homme, chances are it's good. ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi AnnieA,

Good recs, in fact Guerlain L'Instant Pour Homme was another one hovering on the edge of my recall! I love the image that Luca Turin conjures up of that one of a diver executing complicated moves...

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

Thanks for your very thoughtful set of recommendations. I especially like the sound of all those Ateliers. And if the son's mother lived in your neck of the woods, she would have no trouble trying most of these in advance, which I thought might be nice for her to do. I consciously focused on mainstream brands because of her location - and partly also because I wasn't sure whether by 'respectable name' she meant in anyone's judgement or what the son might have heard of and consider respectable! ;)

I did consider Hermes Terre d'Hermes in fact, but have a dim memory that his brother wears that, so left it off in the end.

Vanessa said...

Hi Ines,

Haha! I had the same trouble with all the 'hommes', and also had to google the precise names - and that is why I included photographs.

YSL Homme nearly made the cut too, as I smelt it on a man at a dinner party once and liked it. However, my recall wasn't quite clear enough to describe it.

And I do agree that the Homme part is broadly encouraging! Though imho the reverse applies if Sport is tagged on afterwards!

Unknown said...

Encre Noir would be on my list, also L'Instant Homme from the classics.
A lovely cologne is Byredo's Sunday Cologne, but probably difficult to get.
What about the Roger&Gallet ones?
And Comme des Garcons have a great range of middle priced fragrances.

Tara said...

I agree V - it's the fact that he is "easily made happy" which makes all the difference in going for a blind buy.

Like Undina mentions in her list, I'd go for Terre d'Hermes. I bought it for my Dad and he loves it. He now wants the aftershave balm for Christmas.

Vanessa said...

Hi Sabine,

Encre Noir - ah, yes - I know a chap who wears that, and very fine it is on him too! Byredo might be a stretch, as I think my friend's retail options where she lives are fairly limited. I did wonder about Comme des Garcons, but bottled out of those due to fairly prominent levels of spice in the most well known ones. Though I am not familiar with the whole line. Hey, there's that rhubarb one, isn't there? And the incense ones, and one with calamus and all sorts. Though again, not necessarily where she lives.

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

I am very much relying on the 'easily made happy' bit! Another rec of Terre d'Hermes, so that one is looking a good contender. As I mentioned in my comment to Undina though, I have a feeling that the oldest of the three sons might have it already, so it's 'in the family' already. But good pick, for sure.

Cymbaline said...

My answer to this question is always, always, always - Dior Eau Sauvage! But you know, that Guerlain L'Instant pour Homme is really good, too. Somebody (?) recently wrote a review about an EDP version that really has me wanting a sniff. Did you happen to read it?

Cymbaline said...

Just checked - it was Kafkaesque

Steve aka The Scented Hound said...

Eau Savage is always a good bet. Another recommendation is Cartier Roadster...classic, a bit spicy with great projection. And even people who aren't into perfume know that Cartier is a nice brand. :)

Vanessa said...

Hi Cymbaline,

Nice to hear from you again - with another vote for Eau Sauvage and rec of L'Instant pour Homme. I have a small decant of that somewhere - the remains after supplying a friend with a bigger one! It could easily have made the list...

Vanessa said...

Ah no, missed that one. There is so much to keep up with on Kafkaesque, though I do try!

Vanessa said...

Hi Steve,

Eau Sauvage is looking like a definite contender and thanks too for the Cartier tip off. I haven't smelt that one though you have got me interested now. Snazzy name, too. And yes, Cartier would be known from the jewellery side at least.

Vanessa said...

Oh, I have just remembered that Bertrand Duchaufour said that the perfume he'd most like to have created that was done by someone else was Dior Homme. So I am counting his remark as another vote for that one...;)

annemariec said...

My teenage son smells gorgeous in Bvlgari Black but he has stopped wearing it. How I used to love it on him! (Sounds freaky, I know.) I used to go into his bedroom after he'd gone to school just for a sniff.

I most try Dior Homme; I don't think I ever have.

I'd love to meet a man who could wear Tauer's Lonestar Memories well. Cartier Declaration is another in my collection with no man to wear it. Sigh. I can't wear very masculine fragrances myself because they always feel wrong, however much I like them.

Vanessa said...

Hi annemariec,

Funny you should mention Bvlgari Black - were it not for its very limited availability in the UK I would have loved to have included it, even if it is a little singular. I gave a non-cologne-wearing friend 20 samples of men's fragrances to test, and the one he ended up buying a FB of was Black!

I have heard of Declaration but am not sure I have tried that either - quite a few gaps in my Cartier knowledge...;) I can't wear very masculine fragrances either - indeed I have since sprayed a sample of the Acqua di Parma Oud featured in my post on my skin and it was horrid! Smelt lovely on card, and might be fine on a bloke, so I shan't edit the post just yet.

Unknown said...

I'm not that familiar with Cartier's ouvre either, it not being a brand that is widely distributed here, for some reason. I bought a decant of Declaration because one of the decant services was selling it really cheap and it's a classic. It's pretty dirty. I offered it to my son but he recoiled.

Sorry you don't see Black much. I see it fairly often and it's cheap. Your friend obvious has excellent taste.

Vanessa said...

Hi Anne-Marie,

You've slightly worried me now by saying that Declaration is pretty dirty - and that your son recoiled, hehe. ;)

Black is a classic and I have no idea why it was discontinued in the UK. You see it online and in T K Maxx very occasionally - I think Harrods still carries it - but it is sadly a rare bird.

Anonymous said...

Why has no one recommended Nicolai's New York?

Vanessa said...

Hi Anonymous,

That's an interesting suggestion. It is a while since I smelt New York, which I remember as being quite spicy? I guess it wouldn't be a practical suggestion for my friend, living where she does, but might be a contender for anyone in bigger cities. Saying that, I don't think I have come across the Nicolai range much outside Paris, but it must be carried in perfume stores elsewhere.