We all know that a hefty price tag doesn’t automatically equate to a superior product. Nonetheless, there are still plenty of reasons to splash out on a spenny scent. For starters, due to the price, luxury fragrances tend to be produced in relatively small quantities and their distribution is often limited. This means you’re far less likely to bump into another man wearing exactly the same.
What’s more, free of commercial constraints, many opt to use only the finest ingredients, and their creators are able to let rip creatively, offering a real – often quirky and original – alternative to everyday department store brands.
“A lot of men genuinely want to try something that’s off the beaten track,” says award-winning fragrance blogger Dariush Alavi. “They’re interested in wearing scents that are different from the wares offered by the mainstream.”
Sound like you? Then crack open the piggy bank and read on because here are some of the best luxury scents money can buy.
Hermès Cuir D’Ange
Described as one of the most masculine fragrances ever made – it “combines an oily, grimy leather note with an astonishing, delicate luminosity,” according to Alavi – Hermès Cuir D’Ange by legendary nose Jean-Claude Ellena appropriately translates into ‘angel leather’.
Part of the French luxury goods firm’s Hermessence range (each one designed to be an ‘olfactory poem’), it’s perfect for fans of sexy leathery fragrances seeking something a little more refined, genteel and complex. Heavenly.
Available at Hermes, priced £269 for 200ml EDT.
Roja Parfums Vetiver
The undisputed King of luxury British fragrances, Roja Dove’s creations include perfumes that’ll set you back over £2,500. Thankfully, his ridiculously good Vetiver Pour Homme comes in at a slightly more affordable £375.
Warm, spicy and smoky, it’s laced with green notes like galbanum and has a long-lasting leathery accord, which gives it a lingering sensuality on the skin, along with superb staying power.
“I created it to be the ultimate in how a man should smell,” says Dove. Those who love it would probably agree that he succeeded admirably.
Available at Roja Parfums, priced £375 for 50ml EDP.
Amouage Bracken Man
Drawing inspiration from its birthplace in the Sultanate of Oman, luxury niche perfume house Amouage is known for its use of carefully sourced, high-quality ingredients such as rare silver frankincense.
Bracken Man is one of its best creations. “It’s an utterly divine fougère that is incredibly compelling and mysterious and really doesn’t smell like anything else out there,” says Josephine Fairley, co-founder of The Perfume Society.
Also worth a sniff is Honour Man, an Amouage fragrance that features a classic trio of masculine notes (incense, patchouli and vetiver), which Alavi describes as a scent projecting the very essence of confidence. And that’s what every man wants from his eau de parfum, right?
Available at Selfridges, priced £225 for 100ml EDP.
Creed fragrances are a bit like David Bowie albums: everyone has their favourite, but there are a couple that everyone agrees are head and shoulders above the rest.
Original Vetiver is sweet and smoky, while Green Irish Tweed (a favourite of George Clooney, Pierce Brosnan and even P.Diddy) is floral, green and woody – but it’s Aventus that is probably the most accessible.
Launched in 2010 to celebrate Creed’s 250th anniversary (how’s that for staying power?), it’s a complex and juicy yet warm, woody and sophisticated number with notes of pineapple, blackcurrant, jasmine, patchouli, oakmoss and vanilla. Feel free to argue whether it’s a Ziggy Stardust, Hunky Dory or a Blackstar amongst yourselves.
Available at Creed, priced £230 for 100ml EDP.
Clive Christian 1872 (Masculine Edition)
Few companies have done more to popularise luxury perfumery in the UK than Clive Christian. Famous for exquisitely designed bottles with equally exquisite contents, the company’s ‘No 1’ fragrance was once advertised as ‘The World’s Most Expensive Perfume’.
The masculine edition of 1872 – a fresh, citrusy and spicy creation with green grassy notes and a hefty dose of sandalwood – is brilliantly versatile and a great place to start if new to this most luxurious of luxury brands.
Available at Selfridges, priced £350 for 100ml EDP.
Boucheron Oud de Carthage
There are plenty of expensive oud fragrances out there. In fact, so popular in the Middle East is oud that companies have long battled it out to produce ever more wallet-draining versions.
According to Fairley, this one by French jewellery house Boucheron – part of a six-piece scent collection – is one of the best, and at £175 is relatively affordable luxury. “It’s so good because as an oud it has all the edges buffed off it by incense, honey and tonka bean,” she says.
Like all the fragrances in the collection, Oud de Carthage was created by none other than Dominique Ropion, the nose behind scents such as Burberry Brit Rhythm, Paco Rabanne Invictus and countless others by Frederic Malle.
“It’s resinous and smoky with a fabulous incense trail – and a gorgeous bottle,” she says. “And yes, when it comes to luxury, the bottle matters.”
Available at Boucheron, priced £175 for 125ml EDP.
Papillon Artisan Perfumes Tobacco Rose
The benefit of many luxury fragrances is their unfettered creativity and experimentation. For a clear example of this, you need to look no further than the niche Tobacco Rose. “Papillon pushes the limits of […] fragrances almost to breaking point,” says fragrance writer Stephan Matthews. “[The brand] challenges people’s perceptions and always adds a dash of sexuality to every perfume.”
Though a floral scent, Tobacco Rose is one that men should not be afraid of wearing. “You get a truly sensuous floral with masculinity coming from the clever use of hay, oakmoss and beeswax, which add a real earthiness to the fragrance,” adds Matthews. The scent itself was nominated for Best New Independent Fragrance at the FiFi Awards (the olfactory Oscars), so you can investigate with confidence.
Available at Papillon, priced £122 for 50ml EDP.
Les Eaux Primordiales Champ d’Influence
When perfumer Arnaud Poulain, founder of Les Eaux Primordiales, set about creating Champ d’Influence, he had in mind the childhood memory of his grandfather shaving in the kitchen of his house in rural France. Hence there’s a barbershop freshness here thanks to lemon, lavender and geranium, but also a warm, comforting base of woods, musk and patchouli.
“This scent is so full of richness, sentiment, nostalgia, freshness and imagination,” says award-winning fragrance expert James Craven of independent perfumery Les Senteurs. “It has the depth of a vintage Creed, the inspiration of a classic Guerlain and is a modern classic for an assured gentleman of wit, wisdom and joie de vivre.”
Available at Les Senteurs, priced £155 for 100ml EDP.