Manly, Yes, But I like it too: Neil Morris Flowers for Men Lilac, Gardenia, and Rose.

Now I had heard about Neil Morris for years but for some reason I never ended up ordering any samples from him. I rectified this earlier and even ended up buying a couple of his scents which if course meant more samples. Now, this place has been a minor “where have you been all my life” (It helps if you say it in a breathless, Edie Beale voice) in that these scents are really good, and at under $100 for a decent sized bottle, really inexpensive. The only possible issue I have is that they are in clear glass bottles, but since I store mine in my climate-controlled underground bunker I mean hall closet with the doors closed sunlight and heat should not affect longevity. Of course you could just get these and spray yourself silly with them (and I am wont to do, well-stored or not) and that should take care of any issues through use.

First, the Flowers for Men series.

Now I really don’t subscribe to the idea that flowers in fragrance are for ladies only, but I am not the average bear. I am sure that some men out there look at the idea of wearing something with rose or lilac in the title as being as manly as wearing taffeta or garters. Companies have even tried to get men to buy make-up out-and-proud by marketing things like “brow tamer” (because your brows are just sooo full of testosterone) and such. I would not be surprised if they came up with “lip dirt” or “manly killer face guard” as not to offend delicate manly sensibilities by inference.

But I digress.

Rose hides its roses until the heart- the opening is all bergamot and something called “aquaflor” which is what I assume gives it it’s lovely beachy, salty skin aspect. The roses sort of sneak in on this one- just when you you’re feeling all complacent paddling about in that water the roses come up and start nipping at your toes. By the time you get to the lightly musky drydown you aren’t paying attention to the fact that you are indeed wearing a rose scent, and liking it.

Gardenia isn’t hiding it’s intentions as much as rose, which makes sense since gardenia, let’s face it, couldn’t if it tried. Oh it tries, what with the lime zest and bergamot and what smelled to me like mint in the opening it’s trying to hide behind, but it’s gardenia. Thing is though, gardenia has been an ingredient that has been lurking in classic men’s barbershop favorites forever, and although it is discernible here, it is muted enough that the precious Wa of your manly man will only be upset by the title of the scent, not by the smell. He can tell people it’s “coffee shrub” if that makes him feel better.

Lilac is the one that I found the most interesting and is a way the least like what I would think of if I was going to compost a “flower for men” scent. I love lilacs and they are one of the few flowers that we really do not get here in (Southern, at least) California, and if we do they are not in the profusion nor in as heavily scented as the ones I remember growing up in New England. Despite listing petigrain and tangerine in the opening, Lilac starts out on me perfumey: clean and bright, but more in the way of something from Piguet (the old one) than from ManlyMan ManCo. Then it starts getting smoky and leathery and really, really dark. While it doesn’t have the same notes and isn’t nearly as strong (well probably for the best) it kind of reminds me of JAR Fermez Tes Yeux- I get a whiff of something that’s slightly, wonderfully, deliciously wrong. It does calm down a lot after an hour or so, but I still wouldn’t even bother giving this to the husband. Just sharpie out the “Men” on there and draw a hoop skirt or something on it and keep it for yourself. This one I am ordering for me.

But wait! There’s more!

There were two others in the sample pack from the “Memories of India” line, but including them in the title of this review would have made it longer than route 66, and who need that? Both of them have chocolate in the notes and although both of them list that as a base note on me it was there right at the beginning. Which is not the worst thing that could happen.

Rose of Kali is listed as pear and white rose in the head, red rose in the heart, and incense, chocolate and other notes in the base. I do get incense in the base and whiff of fruit in the opening but the chocolate is the main note that I get, even over the rose at the opening- the candy store does calm down to allow the base woody benzoin and myrrh shine, but it’s just not the first one I would reach for.

Taj opens with orange, green tea, and cinnamon, but still with a hint of the chocolate. That bright opening quickly opens out to the flowers and the patchouli base with the muted chocolate note. Originally I tried this one before Kali and thought that this was fairly chocolatty. On second try I got much more of the spicy tea and orange. It is very nice but again, of these not the one that I would reach for first.

All of these are $95 for a 60ML spray bottle, which is I think a fantastic deal, and since his samples are so reasonable at $5 and well-sized you should give them a whirl. I did and I am glad.

Images from Pexels and my iPhone. My samples were purchased from the perfumer.

  • Musette says:

    Neil is the perfumer who suggested I spray El O with Carnal Flower – I did… and had to beat the Respectable Ladies of this ‘burg (all 1400 Christian folks) off of him – and lemmetellya, ain’t nobody lusting after El O (I certainly wasn’t).

    My favorite NM scent is Leather Garden – a cool, galbanum-y floral leather. Gorgeous in early Spring

    • Maya says:

      Oh, good to know – not Carnal Flower but Leather Garden. lol. That is one of the other samples I was considering trying. Glad you mentioned it.

    • Tom says:

      I think he is likely to be full of good ideas..

      I’d love to see what he could come up with for an “Eau de Tom”

  • March says:

    This was an absolute delight to read! You had me giggling throughout … I really should order some samples. I remember thinking how great (and affordable!) his stuff was, and I always felt like I could smell them really well if that makes sense. I could test that theory.

    • Tom says:

      The samples are really cheap and a big enough size you can really live with them for a while. And his price point is freally good (I should stop stressing that- he might raise them!)

      He does bespoke. I’d love to have that done. If ever I am in Boston again..

  • Dina C. says:

    Thanks for the great reviews, Tom. Nice to hear about something affordable — and just in time for holiday gift shopping!

  • cinnamon says:

    Can’t get Neil Morris here — at least I don’t think you can. Love lilacs. They are rampant here — grow anywhere: cultivated, in the hedge rows, etc. The cost/benefit analysis on these sounds like it leans heavily on the benefit side.

  • Maya says:

    Neil Morris was mentioned a while ago and I started looking up his fragrances, but put him aside. Too many other things came first. Now you started it up again by mentioning Lilac. It’s no secret that I love lilacs. They are the New England spring flowers and also a reminder of a carefree and somewhat wild childhood. So I am getting together a sample order. Number one is Lilac, then Rose of Kali then Rumi then Midnight Tryst and more. It’s all your fault!

    • Tom says:

      Wel, sorrynotsorry! I think you’ll like them a lot.

      I really wish there was a lilac soliflore out there. It is such a joyous smell for me..

      • alityke says:

        There is a lilac soliflore in a place that’s more WASP than you can shake stick at. Lilac Path from Aerin. It is really good. Give it a try

        • Tom says:

          I think there’s a pop-up store of theirs on Melrose that I might need to check out. STC has this to sample so I am placing an order as I type..

          • alityke says:

            Enjoy! Spring time in a sniff

          • Tom says:

            The pop-up store is closed but STC has it so I got it from them.

            I’ve written this before but really instead of trying to kill them off perfumers should be kissing their elbows that places like STC exist: Aerin doesn’t do samples and I am simply not going to spend $200 on something in the fond hopes that it smells good.

  • Tara C says:

    The lilac one sounds great, I need to try that! I’ve been thinking about ordering some samples from him.