Men’s fragrance choices are growing ever more individual, writes Janetta Mackay

"It's easier to sell dreams with fragrances than with fashion," said Ermenegildo Zegna.

The founder of the Italian fashion house set up in 1910 would be happy to see that four generations on, his family company is successfully doing both. But the men's fragrance market has moved on from the splashes of cologne popular a century ago.

Men, like women, are now bombarded by advertising campaigns where the "dream" of fragrance isn't so much about the memories its aromas evince, but about evocative visual imagery. Buff, moody boys, entwined with models, pose against backdrops of luxury living. Buy the bottle, get a sniff of the lifestyle.

What's inside can vary widely in style, from heady spicy or fruity offerings to airy or citrusy sports scents to a growing number of mannered yet manly mixes with a heritage flavour. Buyers say younger men tend to make the most in-your-face choices, perhaps competing with the olfactory assault they have become used to from many of the celebrity scents so popular among younger women.


Once established in the workplace, men tend towards the safer territory of "fresh" smelling spritzes, but a growing number are educating themselves by trying the classics. For anyone looking to find a signature scent, sampling a range of styles is the way to go, with boutique options particularly worth exploring.

We sniffed out these latest fragrance offerings.

1. Givenchy Gentlemen Only 50ml eau de toilette - $99
Givenchy Gentleman was a cult fragrance of the 1970s, with a distinctive aromatic woody accord. Gentlemen Only reinvents the idea, with fresher top notes and a more intense sensual trail. Grown-up and stylish, this sophisticated scent is also available in an aftershave and deodorant.
From selected department stores and pharmacies.
2. Ermenegildo Zegna Uomo 50ml eau de toilette - $120
Zegna branched into fragrance in 2003. Its latest launch harks back to traditional Italian fragrance notes, including Calabrian citrus and bergamot, here mixed with violet leaf, woody cedar and vetiver. It is understated, elegant, yet quietly distinctive - like a bespoke suit.
As well as the eau de toilette there is an aftershave balm ($105) and hair wash ($55). From department stores and Zegna, 171 Queen St, City.
3. Davidoff The Game 60ml eau de toilette - $75
For the man who plays to win, says Davidoff, although he won't risk standing out in the crowd too much if he picks this rather generic though pleasant aromatic woody fragrance, with a touch of gin fizz and floral softness. It's good value and the black glass bottle with silver blocking would lend itself to a shelf in a designer bathroom.
From selected department stores and pharmacies.
4. Diesel Fuel for Life Spirit 50ml eau de toilette - $112
This looks like a hip flask of scotch, but with a sweeter smoky smell more likely to appeal to bourbon fans. It's warm and masculine and as easy to wear as a pair of designer jeans.
From selected Farmers and pharmacies and Smith & Caughey's.
5. Tabarome by Creed - $399
This tobacco-inspired fragrance was based on a cologne Creed mixed for Sir Winston Churchill. Having been reinvented for a 21st century audience, the original's leather and spice aromas are served with a generous splash of citrus. Tabarome was created by Olivier Creed, whose ancestors started the company in London in 1760 and found favour with royalty, before relocating to Paris in 1854.
The provenance will fascinate heritage fragrance fans, who can now explore a wider range of Creed, exclusively at World Beauty stores.