Made for a Man

By March

It happened again last week.  There I was, idly perusing the bottles of men’s colognes on the counter in my local Bloomingdale’s, when the sales associate rushed at me with hands outstretched and a look of alarm on her face as she sang out, “You realize those are for men!?”

Uh … yeah, I guess.  Am I not allowed over here without adult male supervision?  The next time this happens I’m going to drop that big clunky glass bottle and let out a muffled shriek, like she just told me, Lady, that’s where they keep the live snakes!

I was just thinking about touching them, I swear. I hadn’t even sprayed anything on a strip yet, much less started moaning and grinding my hips against the counter the way I’m supposed to when I smell all that bottled virility.  My perfume snobbery aside, don’t lone women shop for men’s cologne all the time? Out there looking for the perfect gift for their dad/husband/nephew?  I have no statistics to back me up on this, but I’ve always assumed a significant portion of men’s colognes are bought by women for use by actual men.

If I take Terre d’Hermes home and put it on my own bad self, that’s nobody’s business, but why the at-the-counter freakout?   Am I somehow suspect because I don’t have my dad/boyfriend/nephew at the counter with me?  What kind of gift would that be?  If I’m buying a man a bottle of fragrance as a gift, I’m not taking him shopping for it.  He can like it or not, wear it or not, but unless he’s a friend who asked me to be his wing-man while he chooses, I’m going alone.

When I reverse the situation, it’s even funnier.  I have never once seen an SA rush at a man holding Arpege and scream, sir, that’s for the ladies!!! You Fracas-wearing dudes out there … do you pretend you’re buying something for your mom?  Or do you just spray on the white florals and let your freak flag fly right there at the counter?

Now, I’m not under any illusions that all the bottles on the counter in the men’s department are supposed to appeal to me – a middle-aged woman – as an appropriate gift for hubby.  I am pretty sure that Marc Jacobs Bang ad below where he’s all greased up and naked with his man-junk hiding behind a factice (Marc, how big is it?) is aimed toward gay men, although I could be a sub-audience, I suppose, of women who enjoy the scenery.  Gaultier Le Male (see image at left) with the tattoos, multiple arm-wrestling pretty boys, and the bathroom-cruise shots? Gaultier’s not targeting me, sailor, but a girl can dream … although I just watched the Le Male video, and was confused when our handsome lad climbs out of bed and the other party’s … a woman?   Maybe he dropped by to borrow her eyeliner and fell asleep.

It’s fun for me to try to take in the meanings or intent of the men’s-department bottles.  The ladies’ section bottles might say I’m thirteen! Or, conversely, I’m a skank (unfortunately, sometimes they say both.)  They often say I’m rich, or I’m rich and humorless, or I’m supposed to be rich but you’re laughing at me so I guess we’ll go with amusing.

The men’s stuff, I don’t know.  The “sporty” ones encased in rubber make me laugh.  Is that to protect the bottle if you drop it while hang-gliding, or during that last push to the top of K2?  (Hummer also makes me laugh, for multiple reasons.)   I’m a traditionalist.  Solid, staid bottles with large, heavy caps I like.  Dior Homme.   Ones that look like they ought to contain pimp-juice I’m not likely to pick up.  Some of them seem inexplicably downmarket and ugly.  The original Dolce & Gabbana for men bottle, those guys couldn’t do better than that?   A lot of the bottles look phallic, which I think is weird, do men really want that imagery in their morning spritz of cologne, even if they are gay?   Finally, if I need a third hand or a PhD in packaging to be able to spray it, it’s a stupid design.  You can have whimsy, though.  The Hermes Voyage one is pretty cool.

That Marc Jacobs Bang, by the way, opens with a big note of pepper. (Notes: black, white and pink pepper, masculine woody notes, elemi resin, benzoin, vetiver, white moss and patchouli.)  After that, the pepper dries down a little and then we get some pepper, joined by a hint of pepper, and then some vetiver.  The pepper fades and the base notes of pepper and pepper appear, and then after that it’s pepper straight on out.  It’s actually pretty subtle (black milled pepper?) and you could do way worse, but I prefer the CdG 88 8 myself for pepper.  At least it doesn’t have a giant hit of that nose-torpedo spiky wood stuff that says I AM A MAN!!!! in all caps, like the drunk at the office party who will not shut up already.

Okay, so inviting you all to crawl out of the woodwork.  If you’re a woman shopping for a cologne as a gift for a man, how much attention do you pay to the packaging?   Am I the only person who thinks the Cartier Roadster bottle looks goofy instead of expensive?   Men – what messages do you feel are being sent with the advertising and bottling, and how much does that affect your interest in a fragrance?   Are there bottles that make you cringe so much you wouldn’t buy it even if you loved the scent?

images: believe it or not the selected images involved a fair amount of restraint on my part.  The model at top is David Agbodji for Calvin Klein, and if you’d like to see the images I wanted to put up, just google him.  But don’t do it at work.   There are some quite nice photos of Robert Perovich (our saucy sailor) as well if you google gaultier le male.

  • minette says:

    ha. i showed the gaultier ad in a show-and-tell for my fellow producers – for its fun use of graphics and transitions. everyone else liked the spot, and no one remarked on its sexuality one way or the other. guess reactions may depend on context. i love fleur du male, and am interested in sniffing this new one.

    the bang ad is fun and silly. i find it camp in that he seems to be parodying all the other “hide-the-peepee” spots and ads that have come before. it’s definitely tongue-in-cheek. greasy, and cheeky.

    regarding SAs and me trying men’s scents… they usually wait until i’ve sprayed the scent to tell me it’s for men. i always tell them that i wear men’s scents, too. this gets varying responses. the informed, perfume-loving SAs will often admit that they do, too, and then we will exchange our list of cross-dressing scents. the stuck-up ones who don’t really love perfume anyway just give me strange looks. some have actually tried to dissuade me. this does not go over well.

    why they don’t just assume that i might be testing something for a man in my life, i don’t know. maybe it’s the hair.

  • Darryl says:

    Oh yes, I’ve had the reverse of your situation with the SA. She wasn’t panicked, exactly, but she looked a bit alarmed when I was went so far as to pick up the Coco bottle. “These are…women’s perfumes.” Her eyes were wide and judgy. I started shopping at Sephora, where the SA’s don’t look twice if I sniff the likes of Gucci Rush and Shalimar and will happily make me samples of whatever I want, even offering suggestions of similar scents.

    I have yet to go full-on with the SA’s, all “I wear both men’s and women’s scents, I don’t care about packaging or marketing, I simply wear what I like, thank you, now show me some of those badass ’80s orientals and body creams to match that I keep eyeing and never get up the gumption to smell.” But one day I will.

  • ula says:

    Yeah yeah, those SA’s! so funny. Happens to me all the time. Also, they tend to look scared when I pick up something ‘serious’ like, say, Chanel 19 or some other chypre, exclaiming with horror in their eyes ‘Oh, but Miss, this is for OLDER women!! For you, I’d recommend something nicer, blablabla (insert pink pepper&co.)’. Note:I’m 33 but look ten years younger :D. Still.
    I have to say, nice packaging is tempting, but I feel that it means much less to men than women. Men seem to be more rationale in buying their perfumes- “smells nice, I’m byuing it!”
    Oh, an those rubber coated bottles are ugly as hell, the only exception is perhaps bvlgari’s black (like a hockey puck!). Another ugly bottle I can think of is Calvin Klein’s Crave.

    • Masha says:

      I look on the younger side, too, and it’s embarrassing when I’m sniffing something interesting and they grab the bottle out of my hands, exclaiming, “Mais NON!! Thees Donna Karan (apple whatever) is right fur YOO!!” Sigh….

  • AnnieA says:

    I will say that a really dumb-looking perfume bottle will scare me off, unless I have heard something good about the actual frangrance. Also, how come so many SAs are so blindingly ignorant? Many seem rather proud of their ignorance…

  • mals86 says:

    Clearly I have not done enough shopping for men’s fragrances. That would entail weaning The CEO away from his Acqua di Gio, and I just don’t see that happening in the foreseeable future – no matter how many little sample vials of No. 88 I deposit on top of his dresser, with the nudge-nudge-wink-wink, “Why don’t you try THAT?”

    Actually, I hardly ever go do live sniffery anyway, my only options being a really lame Belk’s counter, or Macy’s, but I do tend to wander into the men’s section and pick up bottles of Polo and Acqua di Gio and Drakkar Noir, just to see if they smell differently than I remember (DN does, how weird is that?). No one has said anything to me at all, other than, “Can I help you?” and “Is there something else you’d like to smell?” The local SAs tend to be clueless but sort of sweet.

    I think I still want to smell Bang.

  • pam says:

    Loved your posting today. And the comments from everyone were terrific.
    I’ve tried the MJ Bang and it was ok, but I have trouble getting past that stupid picture. All i can do is laugh and roll my eyes.

  • Musette says:


    “Lady, that’s where they keep the live snakes!”

    oh! oh! =))

    xo >-)

    ps. I’m doing dilled salmon tonight – that MJ ad reminded me I have to get some more foil to wrap the fish in!

  • Tom says:

    I sort of liked Bang but thought the bottle was stupid- looks like it belongs on Supermans dressing table in the fortress of solitude, and it’s hard to hold.

    As for the ad, not a fan. I think he’s cute (always have) but he’d have to shower off that goo before I’d go for it.

    BTW- you made me laugh out loud with the dropping the bottle comment and the grinding hips one. I dare you to do one, or preferable both. :d

  • Shelley says:

    Ha. Ha, ha ha ha. I giggled throughout.

    The giggliness you inspired made me then giggle at the question: Do I approach the package differently if I intend to give it to a man? Versus if I intend to give it to a woman, say? (Oh, giggle giggle giggle.)

    But, in all seriousness (well, as close as I’ll get this morning), yes and no. If it’s for spouse, mostly from a purely practical viewpoint, since I know his tendencies and how he’ll handle the package. (Oh, dear.) Which is to say…delicate bottles and early morning still-waking-up rituals do not go, um, hand in hand. Other than that, no.

    I don’t really buy fragrance for any other guys. Because I find it hard, and somewhat of an imposition, to buy a fragrance for ANYONE unless I already know they like it. So, I suppose if I were to venture into that territory, in the end, it would be the fragrance itself that took precedence. If the package were cool, bonus. If “problematic,” well…back to focusing on the fragrance inside.

    Cartier Roadster. The only bottle that can be a) a car taillight, b) a baby bottle, c) a phallus with a nipple. ‘S’all I’m saying.

    • March says:

      Giving fragrance is certainly a risk. I’ve indulged a few times simply because it’s something I enjoy — getting a man I care about interested in a new scent. (nephew, friends, like that.) But I do make them from places with open returns.

  • Fiordiligi says:

    Great piece as always, March!

    I am giving my age away here but I clearly remember on a cross-channel ferry (what?) going to the Duty Free shop (which used to sell wonderful things back in the 60s and early 70s) and asking if they had Ho Hang (Balenciaga) as I had just read about it being released. “That’s for MEN” I was told sternly by the (female) assistant. I don’t think she allowed me to try it!

    Grace Jones – can’t hear her without thinking of the Jane Fonda aerobics LP (!) and doing (half-hearted) exercises to songs by La Jones. Amazing. Leg Warmers. Purple.

  • OperaFan says:

    15 Years ago I learned that perfumes can be genderless while sampling at an AG counter at NYC’s Saks. As I sniffed the different scents and learned about layering and combining, the SA casually told me that he liked to wear Gardenia Passion and that it was the one AG scent he would never mix. My eyes widened and life was never the same again. Soon after I learned about Jicky being marketed to men but was widely adopted by women. In the end, who cares as long as it works for you? I agree with most that the fragrance is the most important component, but while an attractive packaging can serve as an enticement, so can a hokey bottle serve as a deterrent.

    • OperaFan says:

      BTW March – Thanks for the fun read (as always)!

    • March says:

      Man wearing Gardenia Passion. Be still my heart. I love those giant florals on men, I can’t even tell you. Big Cheese is not going there for me. Might as well be trying to get him to wear guyliner.

      Jicky to me seems like the original unisexy, yes?

  • sweetlife says:

    Le Male is not only ridiculously “hey sailor” in terms of packaging, to my nose it has a smell to match. In fact, a couple of years ago I did a round up of men’s colognes at Sephora for some men friends, straight and gay, and couldn’t imagine either of them wearing it.

    And March, I don’t know where these stats come from, but I swear I read in some little news clip somewhere, probably on NST, that over 80% of men’s frags are purchased by women. (This is how Wikipedia facts get established isn’t it?)

    • March says:

      It’s very femme. Isn’t it the orange blossom one? And thanks for the backup statistic, it has an air of truthiness about it. :d I find 80% plausible. So I still circle around and think, why does it alarm them so much to have me over there? Even if I were buying it for a man, does it seem totally implausible that I’d want to try some on skin?

      • sweetlife says:

        Do they think they’ll lose a sale? That you’ll spray something on and think, ugh, that’s awfully manly, and walk away? The way they tend to channel women towards the pink end of the hello kitty spectrum, that might be it. But I think there are phobias of other sorts at the bottom of it.

        And yes, orange blossom. Tons of it. And sweet, too. Thanks for confirming my memory on that one.

  • Ari says:

    Far be it from me to complain about an opportunity to see the hotness that is Marc Jacobs, but I think this ad is pretty freaking tacky (and would be just as bad with a female model). But I find it very interesting to see that this kind of self-esteem destroying, “I’m hotter than you so buy my product” advertising is now being targeted at men, too. Equality, I guess?

  • ladida says:

    I walked into Perfumania a coupla days ago and gave my female self a big ol’ spritz of Coolwater (Fall always makes me nostalgic for the smells I associate with the first days of school: freshly sharpened pencils, plastic binders, new shoes,Coolwater on freshly showered males …) and the SA looked at me as if I might have wandered away from the group and said “Um, the women’s version of that is over there.”
    So, in a most mature and erudite fashion,I said “Yes, but the women’s version is stinky, and this smells good.” Then I left.

  • Meliscents says:

    Next time you’re at the counter & the SA comes running towards you, stand back & start spraying like crazy proclaiming “It’s OK, I wore this when I WAS a man!”=))
    I don’t see the big deal. I’m always getting in to my husband’s colognes and I have my own bottle of ARAMIS since he thought it was too “girly”. Huh?@-)

  • Style Spy says:

    The phallic bottles? Because men like d*&%s. Straight men like them, gay men like them; honestly, given the opportunity, pretty much every man on the planet would walk around with his d*&% in his hand all the time if he could and if you don’t believe me, just get one drunk and ask one. (A man. Not a d*&%.)

    • sweetlife says:

      Agreed. And it starts amazingly young. I have tons of friends with little boys who were determined not to have any toy guns/swords/light sabers/etc. in the house. Guess what happens to anything longer than it is thick in their house? Sticks, brooms, aerosol cans… It’s quite amazing.

      • March says:

        … and good luck with the no-gun thing. Although we indulge that with Nerf and Super Soaker, mostly.

      • mals86 says:

        …coat hangers, Pringles cans, breadsticks, fingers, markers, toilet brushes… anything can be a gun. And probably has been pressed into service in my house.

        Anything can be a vehicle, too, apparently. I didn’t realize that boys were so different until my older son, then 2, picked up his sister’s baby doll and started to play with it, driving it down the hall with the accompanying vroom-vroom noises. (Went in the bedroom and laughed myself absolutely sick.) Boys Are Different, for sure.

      • carter says:

        Ding-ding-ding-ding! Dong?

    • March says:

      LMAO it’s certainly true of my eight-year-old, who thinks his is jolly. A schoolteacher friend said once that the reason they have specific hand placement in circle time is to keep the boys’ hands out of their pants.

  • Masha says:

    What was the ad campaign from the 70s that went “Manly yes, but I like it, too!”? We used to quote that ad all the time at school and crack up, it had some Irish gal in it, and she was stealing some dude’s soap or something?? Anyway, that’s the quote I’d use at the manly men’s counter when I wanted my own bottle of TdH.

    • March says:

      Irish Spring! And I think it still exists (if not the ad).

      It did please me to see an SA call Hermes Voyage “unisex.” I like the idea being put out there for folks to get comfortable with.

      • Masha says:

        Yes, Voyage is delightful on both men and women, and Mugler Cologne is another one that’s always stashed in the men’s dept, but my DH and I both wear it sometimes on the same day, oh my!

        • March says:

          Mugler for sure. Voyage. I would argue Terre d’Hermes. Prada Infusion (although they made a man’s one.) Plenty of others.

          • Shelley says:

            I can join you in arguing Terre d’Hermes if you like; meanwhile, I’m going to go cradle my bottle for a little bit. (‘Cause that’s what girls do with things, you know; cradle ’em… ;) )

          • Musette says:

            Voyage and Terre both make my regular ‘manly’ rotation. 😀 Terre is so gorgeous and it’s the perfect complement to a frilly blouse.

            xo >-)

  • Tiara says:

    OMG this was a hoot! If I like the juice inside, the packaging doesn’t matter because it all gets put in the dark anyway.

    Next time you’re told those bottles are for men, please just say, “And your point?” I’m dying to know how the SA responds.

  • DinaC says:

    Hilarious post, March, especially the panicked SA impression! I’ve had those nitwits give me the same runaround. When I asked about Prada Infusion de Vetiver, I think. It was located over in the men’s section for some reason. After first directing me toward the wrong product (Infusion d’Homme), I spotted the Infusion de Vetiver myself. I spritzed it on a blotter and said, “Mmm, that’s nice. Isn’t it light and refreshing. It would make a great summer scent. You know, there’s nothing particularly MALE about it. Anyone could wear it.” The SAs at Nordies looked aghast.

    • March says:

      I’ve seen them split, with Vetiver in the men’s dept and Tubereuse in the women’s. The silliness of the idea can be found in the original Infusion d’Iris, which is unisex, and which smells almost identical to Infusion Pour Homme, which they must have done to ease straight men into being comfortable wearing it?

  • Gator Grad says:

    It’s funny that you brought up Bang, because I LOVE IT. I’ve been looking for a scent for my DH, and I really like this. I thought it was more than pepper though. On him, it’s green pepper in the top notes (I could lose this phase), which quickly goes into white pepper, wood, smoke, and later… something like tobacco. And there’s this human skin quality that is fantastic. It sort of smells to me like something CdG would do, except warmer, and more natural/human. I really love it.

    Here’s the but: But it has NO sillage. Arrgh! Last night I sprayed THREE BIG sprays on him, and I couldn’t smell while it sitting right next to him an hour later. I wish this had the sillage of Prada Infusion d’Homme or something like that.

    Think they’ll come out with an edp later?

    Or can anyone recommend a smell alike that has more umph? I think it really smells like a CdG in theory, but I’ve only smelled a few, and this isn’t a copy of any of them. I want something that smells JUST like this, but more powerful and with sillage.

    • March says:

      Kevin at NST gave it a nice review, I think. And he found it more complex. I wanted to like it, I like MJ (the designer and the clothes) and I like the bottle … I just got a ton of pepper and you are right, it’s very discreet. I got no sillage either.

      There isn’t anything like it I can think of. Le Labo Poivre is more incensey. L’Artisan had a pepper one but it’s long gone I think (in their humeurs coffret?) Their Poivre is more anisic/sweet if I remember right, and the piment is green pepper?

  • Ari says:

    Ahh, I see that our restrictive definitions of masculinity have permeated perfume sales, too! People seem to get really, really freaked out by anything outside of those rigid definitions, even something as small as looking at perfume. There’s an air of “Don’t you know you’re breaking the RULES, which were clearly handed down to Moses from THE LAWD?!?!” to it.

    • March says:

      It still doesn’t make sense to me, though — I didn’t imply I was going to wear it (horrors!) But is it that weird on its face for a woman to be looking at the men’s frags? They make it seem so.

  • Ruanne says:

    The Bang ad is pretty ridiculous. A friend & I make a ritual of looking at the Fall Vogue together, and when we turned the page to see that ad, the reaction it produced was a burst of laughter, and exclamations of “BANG? Really?”

    David Agbodji is ridiculous too. Ridiculously sexy. I’m fine with the oil.

    • March says:

      I will say the Bang bottle’s nice in the hand. I think the ad’s kind of funny but I hate MJs tattoos so much.

      • Olfacta says:

        I know I’m getting outta the demo, because most fashion advertising just seems unbelieveably silly to me and the Ford ads and this one are right up there in the silly contest.

  • Marsha says:

    The SA’s never say this to me! Whether I’m looking at men’s fragrances or buyng too much nail polish. And I really wish they would, just one time! I would rather wear a men’s scent than one marketed to women. Since I collect antique perfume bottles, the packaging really doesn’t matter unless it’s TOO ridiculous. But if what’s inside is really wonderful, I don’t really care what it comes in.

    March, your post was wonderfully written, as usual, with lots of hilarous mental visual imagery.

    • March says:

      Thanks. It was one of my off-on-a-tangent (or three) posts. But there I was, looking at those man-bottles, a woman in an alien land, thinking: what does market research want this giant rubber-covered apparatus to say to the consumer? (one guess) 🙂

  • Wordbird says:

    Snorting with amusement at:
    “I was just thinking about touching them, I swear. I hadn’t even sprayed anything on a strip yet, much less started moaning and grinding my hips against the counter the way I’m supposed to when I smell all that bottled virility.”

    And thank you so much for the delicious pictures. I have no doubt I shall be googling, fanning myself and saying ‘Oh My!’ with a big smile on my face. :d

    And all this reminds me of Pierre Bourdon’s wonderfully dry answer when asked how to create and sell a fragrance specifically for men: “You write ‘Pour Homme’ on the bottle.”

    • March says:

      I have this, uh, selection of images seared into my retinas from my image research. Lawd.

      That is freaking hilarious about Bourdon, I hadn’t heard that.

  • Francesca says:

    I don’t think I’d ever buy a men’s fragrance that came in a dopey bottle. I know my husband; he would feel silly using it. right now he only has Musc Ravageur and Geranium pour Homme (that last worn mostly by me, truth be told), and we know how simple the Malle bottles are.

    • March says:

      Yeah, I am trying not to pick a fight with that one… I wouldn’t give Le Male or some other far-out bottle to the Cheese. I think he’d laugh at that man-torso. He expects plain packaging. Those Malle bottles are great that way.

      Hey, would you give him one called French Lover? See, I think that’s why they changed it here!

  • Louise says:

    March. Uh-huh. Girl, can’t wait to shop with you next. Uh-huh.

    BANG sounds like fun, if only for the pepper X 100. But I’m with Lee-the ad’s appeal is also lost on this straight woman. If I wanted nice straight-up (heh) titillation, I know where to better find it. Check your email, btw. ; )

    David is stunning, off to Google him before work.

    • March says:

      This was at Friendship btw. Where there was literally no other customer in eyeshot, AND the women at Estee were utter bitches.

  • Lee says:

    Oh, and meant to add, the Marc Jacobs appeal is totally lost on gay man me. I think there’s an advertising assumption about ‘mos that’s as narrow as the ones about different women segments. Or do I mean segmentations of women? I’m sounding both objectifying and psychopathic, so I think I’ll stop. You know what I mean.

    • Francesca says:

      You’re reminding me of a book jacket designer I used to know who angrily wondered why every jacket he did for a book aimed at a gay audience had to have a picture of a naked man on it. This is a while ago, though.

    • March says:

      IT’S HIS TERRIBLE TATTOOS!!!!! Seriously, Spongebob Squarepants? I’m glad the man’s now clean and sober, but … ugh, no, Marc. No. And I’m with you on the greased-pig thing, LOL. I just think, wow, those sheets would be a mess.

      • Style Spy says:

        Oh, the Spongebob thing just makes me gnash my teeth. Hey, you, extremely well-paid arbiter of global style! With the ginormous cartoon character tattooed on your arm! Tell me what I should be wearing!

        • March says:

          Exactly, and those other ones! That look like he had them done by a drunken, half-blind trainee at Joe-Bob’s House o’Tatts! Or a nine-year-old did them with a Sharpie. My second-grader makes a better star.

    • Gator Grad says:

      Personally, I don’t understand WHO that ad is targeting. It’s almost… funny sexy? What is that exactly? There’s a way to do greased pig that would work well, but I just don’t think that this is it.

      • March says:

        I’m probably overthinking this, but I almost felt like it was a dig at those awful greased-up-ladybits ones that Tom Ford did. So that would agree with you: funny/sexy. On the other hand, I think MJ is super-proud of his hot new body (and those dumbass tatts) so maybe he just wanted to show it off.

    • March says:

      OK but how *could* you wave the gay flag if not stereotypically? It’s butch, it’s leather, it’s camp or whatever. (Although I guess a plain ol’ naked guy gets the job done too.) Or should perfumers be above packaging that way? Is there something “wrong” with Marc Jacobs or Le Male apparently targeting the gay male audience?

    • carter says:

      I know what you mean. It worries me, but I do. And glad your back is back.

  • Lee says:

    David Agbodji is a beautiful man, even if I’m alone in seeing so much shine as offputting… glazed ham… I don’t like that much sheen on any torso, even Grace’s.

    In other news, my back is better. A lot better. Though I’m still feeling in my 40s.

    And like Ms Christian, I don’t hang around at counters. Liberty is probably my go-to sniff zone, and that’s much more easily the land of the unisex.

    • Louise says:

      Lee, luv-glad your back is better. You do early 40s just beautifully ; )

    • March says:

      So glad your back is better! And I agree, less slick works for me, he does look rather robotic. On the other hand, when you consider that’s apparently his real musculature … ::goes weak at knees::

  • Tara says:

    David Agbodji…WOW…I loved the Grace Jones shot. (I think I am showing my age now!)

    I think if I am buying a gift packaging is important and it’s nice to get a “pretty” gift. While I am more partial to juice that the packaging and I would never buy a fragrance merely for the packaging, I have to admit a nice presentation can sway me.

    • March says:

      Well, apparently we all are, I think this is Grace Jones reference no. 6? And I agree that if it’s a gift, I’m taking packaging into consideration, how not?

  • nozknoz says:

    David Agbodji. Moment of silence.

    I know it’s superficial, but a great bottle does add to the enjoyment, and a tacky bottles make me cringe. I don’t think I’ve actually passed up anything because of it. I’m more influenced by the names, though. It’s hard to buy something with a name I dislike, and I have difficulty focusing on perfumes that just have numbers instead of names – can never decide what to sample, can’t remember which ones are supposed to be good, etc.

    • March says:

      OK I shouldn’t say this but Diva came up behind me while I was researching Agbodji and said, duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude.

      I’ve bought tacky bottles for myself with a shrug. But for a gift? If it seems really off-message or skews too old or young in packaging I’d consider that.

      • Shelley says:

        I have long loved that verb for all of its purposes: “researching.”

        Now I’m agonna go hijack somebody else’s ip address to do some specific, erm, researching… ;)

        • March says:

          I ended up at a buncho gay porn sites (unsurprisingly) looking for “fragrance male model” and such like … I’m sure my browser history is suspect.

          • carter says:

            Oh, man! You missed the gay porn email exchange back when you were on facebook sabbatical. You would have been so totally in your element…I think it suffered somewhat because you were off in Lego Land, or Legoville, or Lego Town. Lego World? It takes a Lego? Leggo my Eggo? I obviously do not have children…

  • carter says:

    “A the?” Seriously?

  • carter says:

    I think the Old Spice guy pretty much nails this topic. Heh-heh.

    A the father of a girlfriend designed the Brut bottle. I could ask him what he was trying to say. My friend, Emily, told me that she was introduced to Cary Grant during the ad campaign (those of you Googling Grace Jones, keep going) and at the time didn’t know and couldn’t have cared less who he was. Whenever I watch Jon Hamm, I think about Cary Grant…peddling Brut.

    • Lee says:

      Whenever I watch John Hamm, I think of being a Brut(e).

    • March says:

      Manly, yes, but I like it —- oh, wait, that’s Irish Spring, sorry.

      • carter says:

        “Hello, ladies. Look at your man…now look at me…now look at your man…now look at ME. Anything is possible when your man smells like Old Spice and not like a lady. I’m on a horse.”

        • carter says:

          That ad works so well because it pokes fun at itself and the fantasies Madison Avenue attempts to create and/or exploit. And it is aimed at women. Your SA must not have seen it.

  • arch.memory says:

    What a great post! For some reason, I find that the whole idea of gender in perfume far more ridiculous than it is in fashion in general. Maybe it’s because we boys are told not to wear skirts, but nobody ever mentioned white florals to me back then.. Still, now I frankly get a kick out of going to the women’s side at Sephora–it’s actually kinda ridiculous how they have them separated like it’s bathrooms (don’t get me started about the whole ridiculousness of gendered bathrooms: as a gay man I can stand at a urinal next to another, but god forbid I am in a stall next to a woman!). I sorta wish some small-minded salesperson comes and tells me the “obvious” so I can get all “high-minded” and snooty on their ass.. I am glad though that gay designers like Marc Jacobs are finally–overtly–embracing gay men as their duh-audience (yes, I am very confused too by any pretense of heterosexuality in a male actor in a Gaultier ad.. I mean, come on!)
    I, for one, care a lot about packaging. But I frankly don’t mind hokey packaging of mainstream men’s perfume half as much as I mind the trite crap inside them. (And I absolutely don’t get “sports” anything in perfume–if it’s got “sport” in the title, it’s not for me!)
    More NSFW Google image suggestions : Ian Lawless for Lacoste Homme & Vincent Cassel for YSL M7, of course.

    • March says:

      Ooooh! Will have to do some more googling! And you know of the Samuel de Cubber shot for M7, yes?

      Okay, so: you, a gay man, found the Gaultier thing weird? I did a double-take … I saw an image on a blog that said Le Male was hugely popular in Europe and it implied among straight audiences, to which I thought, huh?

      I have on more than one occasion recently heard the expression “unisex” used in a department store, which I embrace.

    • March says:

      ahahahaha my morning cuppa joe would be even better with Ian having his coffee.

  • Ms. Christian says:

    Another wonderful Posse post, March.

    I Googled David and some of the “oiled” pictures and the more styled ones reminded me of early 80s icon Grace Jones. Google her, folks, if you were using sippy cups back then.

    As a queer woman, I rarely shop or buy fragrances for men. Most of my shopping is done online anyway, but heaven help the SA who dares to question or caution me about something I’m perusing. I don’t give a fig about packaging or how the bottle looks. I do wear scents marketed to both sexes and it’s the juice I care about, not what holds it. I think the Roadster bottle looks like some kind of silly high tech sex toy.

    Off the top of my head, the only bottle I can think of that was too stupid to buy (plus I disliked the scent) was Jivago 24 K. I mean, c’mon-the bottle couldn’t stand up, and it had all that floaty gold stuff in it, reminding me of a dirty roll on decant used by King Midas. Blech.

    • Divalano says:

      LOL … it’s late, my glasses are a bit dirty, but I actually thought the shots at the top WERE Grace & it took me a bit to figure out what she had to do with mens’ cologne. I mean, Walking In the Rain is pretty gender-fluid, but still ….

    • March says:

      The ROADSTER …. just needs 3 AA batteries…. that Jivago! I remember that one! You know what I saw recently that made me think of it? This thing:

      Which smells pathetic btw.

      DEFINITELY Grace Jones inspired. Nice to see all the Grace Jones fans on here today!

      • Style Spy says:

        Random: I never see or hear of Grace Jones without thinking of a very nice, extremely mild-mannered polymer chemist I dated years ago who named her when I asked the obligatory “if you could do anyone who would you do” question. “Grace Jones,” he said, with a faraway look in his myopic eyes. “Just once. Just to see…” It made me respect him a little more, I have to say.

      • Ms. Christian says:

        That Rabanne looks like a high end Mace or pepper spray cannister for the well appointed purse or belt holster. Love the ad copy.