A question that we often hear when someone is looking for a perfume is: Is that fragrance for men or for women? Why do we find it necessary to ask that question? Does a fragrance have a sex? This is the question that we have tried to answer by looking at what some of the world’s top perfumers and those in the industry have to say.
Jean-Claude Ellena, one of the top noses and perfumers in the world, doesn’t believe in the idea of gender for fragrance at all. He says it is a “Simple social convention” that makes us want to distinguish between male and female when it comes to perfume. That convention is a role-playing game that puts men up against women, where men are first animal and primitive allowing them to look for danger to find a female. It is a game that then determines how the perfume works: the woman wants to be chosen as the man tries to put all of his power and virility out there; with the only challenge to perpetuate the species. If we follow that, then this is why traditionally men’s fragrances have notes of leather and fern while floral notes are usually associated with women.
Francois Henin, president of Jovoy Perfumer in Paris does not believe in dividing fragrance to male or female. For him, the perfume should not have a sex and everyone should be able to wear the scent they like and that works for him or her. Many women wear men’s fragrances and don’t hesitate in doing so. According to M. Henin, “It is simply marketing that is creating these codes that have now become part of our culture. If someone doesn’t want to challenge the norms that we know, then the powdery, floral scents are for women and leather and fern is usually associated with more masculine fragrances.”
To define a fragrance by category, masculine or feminine may just do a disservice to a customer says, Brian Kurtz, Director of Sales North America for the perfume houses of Penhaligon’s and L’Artisan Parfumeur. According to Mr. Kurtz, “ High quality niche fragrances smell so different on everyone’s skin—it is a truly personal experience and assigning them to such broad categories like gender does a disservice to our customers. If we show fragrances without defining the gender or even naming the fragrance notes at first, our customers can experience them without any preconceived ideas and find one that is truly special and perfect for them. Men can smell amazing in florals and many women feel sexy in rich, spicy fragrances. Penhaligon’s Lavandula and Eau de Verveine are two floral fragrances that I love to wear—and I am always complimented on them!”
The freedom to create, without any distinction of gender, seems to be the common denominator to all creators of fragrance. What counts above all is rather how the ingredients are mixed and the amount of the ingredient used in a fragrance. But above all, it is a question of emotion. Of course it makes it easier to class a fragrance by mens’ or womens’ but is that the goal? Do we not limit ourselves by doing that when we all should wear what we love – a scent that touches us, takes us somewhere or brings up a memory to take us to special place? Let fragrance be for anyone first and if we must choose a sex, we say, let it be unisex.
I am 45 years old and I am full of energy but sometimes I have problems with wife in bed. I dared to go to the pharmacy and buy pills. I was advised to buy Viagra. In the first night, I was on top. I hadn’t felt so for a long time. My wife was very happy. As for myself, I realized that Viagra helps to return youth even when you were 45 years old. I didn’t have any side effects, but only a little fatigue the next day.
How do you go about choosing your fragrance that will fit with your personality?