We spend a lot of time here at Gentleman’s Journal deliberating over scents. When we aren’t recommending our seasonal favourites, we are investigating what makes the perfect signature fragrance. It seems that there are countless variations on the same scented themes to be investigated, and quite frankly it’s left us feeling a little overwhelmed — not least as we enter the season of serious gift-buying. Thank goodness then, for the rising popularity of the unisex fragrance.
For too long, floral and fruity perfumes have been dismissed from male grooming departments as being too ‘feminine’ — while the spicy, woodier scents have been labelled ‘for men’. But happily, the days of backwards gendered marketing are being put behind us (Liberty London saw a 40% rise in the sales of unisex fragrances in 2018), and we’re all for it.
With this in mind, we’ve rounded up the best gender-neutral scents on the market right now that are sure to impress him or her this Christmas.
Acqua di Parma Colonia
Acqua di Parma’s Colonia is the brand’s signature scent, having bewitched both men and women since 1916. The unisex fragrance appeals to both sexes thanks to its appealing blend of Sicilian citrus, crisp lavender and warm notes of sandalwood. The hallmark of style and sophistication, this should be in every discerning perfume lover’s collection.
Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille
Opulent, warm, and genuinely iconic. Tom Ford’s affection for London inspired this scent, reminiscent of an English gentleman’s club, redolent with spice. He reinvents a classic fragrance genre by adding creamy tonka bean, vanilla, cocoa, dry fruit accords and sweet wood sap for a modern, opulent, and almost heady impression that’s all man — unless of course it is worn by a woman.
Malin + Goetz Cannabis
Once considered seriously naughty, now inescapably chic, and always a rite of passage, cannabis has never been more in vogue. Bringing to mind lazy afternoons spent dwelling on a favourite record and the lingering smokiness that clings somewhat inconveniently to clothes, Cannabis balances rich, spicy and herbaceous aromas with soft, floral notes of muguet and magnolia.
Free of THC but heavy on black pepper and bright bergamot, this apothecary staple grounds higher flights of fancy with a base of earthy cedarwood, patchouli and sandalwood. Inhale deeply for an experience rife with nostalgia – minus the side effects.
Laboratory Perfumes Amber
Proudly androgynous (“gender is the one thing we really don’t care about”), British brand Laboratory Perfumes is the ideal place to shop if you care about people and the planet as well as beautiful fragrance. Following its medicine-inspired motto of ‘do no harm’, sustainably sourced ingredients are blended to create stunning scents suitable for vegans.
Amber follows the wearer through their day, evolving as the hours pass and bringing out different component notes as the tempo changes. Its dynamic burst of grassiness and greenery matches the energy of morning, subtly maturing into rich spice as the day continues. Closing notes of warm, earthy wood and balmy ambergris bring a more subdued, reflective tone to the fragrance as evening draws in.
Aesop Hwyl Eau de Parfum
Hwyl – a Welsh word which roughly translates to ‘a stirring feeling of emotional motivation and energy’ – was launched by Aesop in 2017 to rave reviews, especially among fans of botanicals. This enigmatic, slightly gothic scent starts off smoky before earthy spices slowly begin to emerge.
Calming frankincense sweetens things up, while fresh cypress, vetiver and thyme stop it smelling sludgy. It’s packaged in an elegant amber glass bottle, simplistically labelled for maximum unisex appeal, though the scent itself leans towards the more classically masculine.
Want something tried and tested? Here are the classic fragrances that will never go out of style…