THE PERFUME COLORS - Rhapsody in Blue
Blue fragrances are a relatively new group in perfumery.
If homage should be paid to a groundbreaking perfume that fathered the idea for many new perfumes, then the trophy should be awarded to Davidoff's Cool Water Eau de Toilette, the blue-bottled men's fragrance released in 1988. It remained in the top 10 perfume sales for more than a decade. It continues to sell very well securing large groups of enthusiasts. It unveiled a whole new market category of fresh manly fragrances, the currently so-called Blue Fragrances.
This quite recent category seems to be a man-only perfume type. And what characterizes a fragrance as a masculine one? Whenever a designer creates a fragrance, they label it as either masculine, feminine, or unisex. Masculine fragrances have less emphasis on sweet accords. They’re usually also less powdery, less floral, and less fruity. Instead, they focus more on notes like woods, greens, spices, herbals, and accords that somehow relate to manly activities in our imagination. Blue fragrances are usually not even a bit sweet, hardly use floral or powdery notes, and have noticeable woody sharp bases.
The fragrance top and heart usually connects us with some sort of manly open-air or marine activities. Women usually like to smell it in most men and men always try to impress all women.
It is a scent type that fits perfectly to the manly archetype of a womaniser sailor or an impressive lumberjack. Men will always like to picture themselves as conqueror 007s and not really like nerdy hackers.
If the history of Blue fragrances would have started in the 18th century, I have little doubt that it would be the scent of choice by the likes of Italian Giacomo Casanova, the Portuguese Marquis of Marialva, or the fictional Spanish libertine Don Juan, who apparently devoted their lives to seduce members of the fairer sex.
In the detergent industry, a substance called dihydro myrtenol has been used for quite some time. Soap and shower gels use it commonly to evoke a feeling of coolness and cleanliness. A similar more natural compound called Benihiol is used with essential oils in perfumery for a similar purpose. That same concept has been successfully used by Cool Water's perfumer Pierre Bourdon.
Cool Water was said to incorporate notes to evoke seawater and watery fruits like watermelon or cucumber. The scent turned out to be quite fresh and manly indeed. Davidoff's advertising picturing a tanned, soaking wet, young male model diving on a pebble beach, along with the customers' fertile imagination, did the rest. Every man felt entitled to be a heartbreaker elegant swan instead of a hidden ugly duckling. Cool Water broke new ground with a blast of bright manly coolness available for the average perfume consumer. Soon, notes inducing freshness and masculinity began to seep into many other fragrances for men. Citrus and lavender fresh scents finally gained a new competitor. Smart advertising also played an important part in the creation of this new concept. After thirty years or so, modern blue fragrances still follow the same marketing pattern.
The different shades of Blue.
It is quite common to refer to two types of blue fragrances. They may come in a "lighter tone" or in a "darker tone".
Light blue fragrances are more airy, watery and soapy. This olfactory association is more linked to casual scents. They are usually preferred by younger men because are more sporty and easy to use. Well-known good examples are Versace pour Homme Eau de Toilette, Coach for Men, Acqua di Giò pour Homme Eau de Toilette, Allure Homme Sport Eau de Toilette, Aqva pour Homme Eau de Toilette, Voyage Eau de Toilette and the oldtimer Cool Water Eau de Toilette. Common opening notes can be aldehydes, ozonic, surf seashore, seawater, seaweed, green accords, neroli, orangy citruses, watery fruits like cucumber, melon or watermelon, fresh spices like coriander or mint, and dry wood base accords.
Dark blue fragrances tend to be more mature. If they also incorporate marine or watery notes, they generally smell like what the bottom of the ocean should smell like in our imagination. Usually, they are based on ambergris, ambroxan, driftwood, herbs, lemony citruses, petitgrain, ginger, sweet spices like vanilla or tonka, and ambery woody accords. Relevant examples may be perfumes like Luna Rossa Carbon, Spirit Absolute, Kenzo pour Homme Eau de Toilette, Versace pour Homme Dylan Blue Eau de Toilette, Bleu de Chanel Eau de Toilette, Office for Men, Lanvin L'Homme Eau de Toilette, Sedley, and Sauvage Eau de Toilette.
If you try to make a blue perfume choice only by emphasizing the use of the so-called "blue must-have notes," you may end up with a perfume palette of many shades of blue. You just get confused. For some men, my recommendation of a blue scent may take a back seat regarding the association of the mentioned blue notes. My advice is to choose a scent by carefully sampling among different blue perfume types. Their different shades of blue may dictate you to love a particular fragrance and possibly to hate a slightly different one.
It is only natural for every man desiring to smell crispy clean, fresh and masculine. Fulfilling that wish has always been one of the perfume industry goals. Blue fragrances did it quite well and had the ability to add the feature of being less intrusive than other perfume types. Even if you overspray, a true blue is not likely to overpower people in a crowded elevator like an oriental or a gourmand fragrance will. Believe it or not, men do worry about that. It's all caring about the masculinity perception we may pass to the people around us. Manly men like to be discreet.
Some blue perfumes I may care about...
Although fresh blue perfumes are not usually my favourite, I confess that from time to time I like to spray myself with a carefully chosen blue fragrance. And I can vary among many recommendable recipes.
- Women in general love to smell the vibe of Sauvage Eau de Toilette on a man. I kind of liked it when it was launched, but became bored of it sometime later. There was just too much pepper in the EDT original for my taste. When I discovered that my gentle nose was much happier with Sauvage Eau de Parfum version, I started to use it a lot. I also like the new Sauvage Elixir flanker but I better dismiss it from this article, as I consider it a Woody Fougére perfume even if it has a bit of Ambroxan.
- If you feel that the acclaimed Bleu de Chanel Eau de Toilette is a scent to go after, as I do, I recommend you the Bleu de Chanel Eau de Parfum version. It is smoother than the EDT original and bluer than the Parfum version.
The above-mentioned perfumes take the lion share of the blue fragrances market. I could not help but state an opinion about them. Which one do I prefer? To be honest I prefer to use the Chanel fragrance.
... and some blue perfumes I really care about.
In no special order, they are the following:
- I do like a little herbal dryness and roughness in any blue fragrance. Sometimes little details are responsible for big differences. Hints of fig and violet leaves and papyrus, just make Versace pour Homme Dylan Blue Eau de Toilette stand out, a perfume I really like to wear. On top of it, ambroxan (always a bit boring for me) teams up very well with the smooth frankincense note available. It's not an exclusive fragrance any longer, as many people like to use it as well. So what? I like it and I am just trying to be plain honest. I also must mention which is probably the top buying reason for this fragrance. Dylan Blue is just one hell of a versatile compliments king. I still have to meet the first woman who does not like to smell it in a man.
- Mandarin, neroli, medium-strength aquatic, mineral and olibanum notes... What's there not to like?
Yes, I speak about Aqva Amara Eau de Toilette the less blue of all the Aqvas released by Bvlgari. I learned to like the deflated ball shape of the flask even if it occupies a lot of space, and it is impossible to make it stand up. It presents an issue though. It seems to be currently discontinued, so stocks are coming down and prices are rising at a fast pace. Get yours soon enough.
The scent is strange but agreeable! It is sour but fresh! It is citrusy but also aquatic! You may hate it or love it, but it will remain always undoubtedly different, unique and masculine.
- All Acqua di Giò causes me some boredom, but one flanker turns out to be an exception. It has the right amount of aquatic and bergamot fresh notes, the correct mixture of herbs, uses olibanum instead of ambroxan, and has a generous amount of harsh woods in the base. I truly recommend the one and only Acqua di Giò Profumo Parfum. I really enjoy this particular blending of Alberto Morillas and consider it a near-perfect partner as far as seduction is concerned.
Acqua di Gio refreshes you!
Acqua di Gio Profumo refreshes you!... and places your imagination by the seaside, at the end of a mild summer day giving way to a western coast red sunset, whilst you're feeling the dying sun rays in your skin together with a salty breeze, with your dry lips sipping an iced lemon tonic water. Yes, I think there is a big difference between those two Armani fragrances.
- One of the features I like to evaluate, is versatility and usability. Dark blue fragrances are usually quite versatile but I award the adaptability trophy to Versace Man Eau Fraîche Eau de Toilette. Unlike Dylan Blue, it's not a seduction potion, but you can really wear it almost anywhere. You just need to avoid cold temperature situations. In my opinion, it is perfect for the office. Its inner secret is to rely on a blending of lemon, herbs and ambergris, forgetting other notes related to watery and airy accords. You don't need to be manly and sexy all the time. Sometimes clean and fresh is quite enough. The slightly sweet opening blended with sharp lemon, allow you to distinguish a fruity carambola, and a touch of wood. The fragrance develops with herbaceous and aniseed nuances. It reveals an ambery woody background with marine blue ambergris.
- Another feature I like to emphasize is sheer value-for-money. In this chapter, there is a clear winner for me, and it is manufactured by a Middle Eastern designer. I am suggesting Lattafa's Najdia with its citrusy opening, watery notes, spices, herbs, and top-class ambergris. Besides its quality juice, it adds a nice glass flask, an acceptable sprayer, a nice box... and all for a €15 price tag in a couple of oriental fragrance web retailers. You may even get a Najdia deodorant for free. if you like light blue perfumes like Invictus Aqua (2016), Teahupoo or Hawas for Him, you will be pleasantly surprised with this fragrance. It is superior to the three of them in any aspect and you will surprise your friends with an exquisite flask that almost nobody knows.
Another Middle Eastern offer, but leaning towards the blue fragrances darker side, is Spirit Absolute. It's a very Sauvage-like fragrance but a bit more peppery. Sauvage fans love it a lot.
- Last but not least, I would like to mention a trio of perfumes which I quite like. All have a similar bluish aroma, but reward us with different performances, different ingredients quality, different presentations, and way different prices. Their soul is quite blue, even if the names in two of them suggest the colour green. The perfumes are Green Irish Tweed by Creed, Aspen for Men Cologne by Coty and the already mentioned Cool Water Eau de Toilette by Davidoff. You will be certainly pleased owning and using one of them. After several years of spraying their juices on me, I started to wonder if I shouldn't weigh more often the real difference between price and value.
Two final remarks:
a) Creed Irish Tweed is three year senior at Davidoff Cool Water, and both have Pierre Bourdon as a perfumer. In my humble opinion, the very exclusive target customer base of the Creed brand, as well its pricing policy, would never allow the market expansion and recognition achieved by Davidoff. So Cool Water still stands as the blue pioneer for me.
b) There aren't many niche manufacturers venturing into the blue fragrances arena. I wonder why?
I could probably justly mention dozens of other blue and near blue perfumes worthy of note for their quality and joy to use. That would only make this text longer, heavier, and probably a bit boring. However, I really would like this page to be added with comments on your preferences and your reasons why.