Perfumeries across the world have for decades blended fragrances in an effort to communicate the nuances of masculinity. Over time, these fragrances have created a mosaic of expression – each fragrance is the opportunity for a man to find himself personified by the blender’s creativity. Because this landscape of scent is so diverse – Tom Ford’s Bois Marocain is an ode to Morocco, Bolvaint’s Læf, a nod to the Renaissance man it’s difficult to pin down one fragrance which is best for all men.
And when you consider that fragrance designers prefer to launch new scents with the seasons, narrowing down a list of favorites becomes even more difficult. However, if you focus on the fundamentals of an excellent fragrances, the winnowing process is much easier.
The following trio of fragrances are must haves for any man who wants transcendence not just scent from his cologne.
Best Eau de Parfum for 2017 Bolvaint Læf
Bolvaint’s fragrance philosophy has always focused on presenting a multidimensional Eau de Parfum that can weather all seasons. To do that, they blend scents that don’t play to seasons or trends. Bolvaint understands that good men, like good Eau de Parfum, defies time.
Læf is the statesman extraordinaire of the French company – top notes of lemon and wormwood give way to middle notes of pepper and cumin. The base notes of this Eau de Parfum present a rather stately verve of vetiver-patchouli.
The man embodied by this fragrance is a scientist, an explorer or a craftsman, a free spirit, uninspired by trend. When taken as three movements in the same symphony – the golden rule for selecting a fragrance – Bolvaint Læf is, by a noticeable margin, the best men’s fragrance of 2017.
A Formidable Second Option: Tom Ford Private Blend Neroli Portofino
Whereas Læf is meant to be worn in all seasons, Tom Ford’s recently released Neroli Portofino is the perfect pickup for spring and summer. As with all private blends, Ford has attempted to buck convention and generate his own spin on a masculine fragrance. The result here is an old world stunner that combines Sicilian lemon notes, mandarins and lavender.
You also get a subtle breath of amber, which gives this fragrance added depth. In all, Neroli evokes images of an Italian alpinist settling down for a glass of wine after a training day in the craggy heights.
While we think this offering from Ford is a strong contender for cologne of the year, it lacks the subdued universality of Læf. Ford’s faithful have also pointed out that, while this cologne certainly has its refined strengths, it is a step down from the designer’s fabulous 4711.
Maison Margiela: Replica – At the Barber’s
Maison Margiela’s Replica line of fragrances has been a revelation – delicately crafted perfumes intended to spin a rustic story of times past and places we all remember but are in danger of forgetting. At the Barber’s is a nostalgic nod toward the barber shops of old where straight-razors running quick and determined across strips of leather and mounds of hot cream awaited the rugged faces of the men who walked through the doors.
The resulting aroma of this still-frame of history is an autumn-leaning scent, but it can function well in the summer. Basil and black pepper reign the top notes, while the heart of the cologne is a combination of geranium, lavender and rosemary. Base notes are replete with veramoss and white musk.
Maison Margiela does well to balance the overt fall notes with a clean, balanced treatment of its base notes. However, not everyone is a straight-razor type of fellow, and, as a result, we think this fragrance, while certainly a heavy hitter, remains behind Neroli and this year’s top Eau de Parfum, Læf.