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The Scent Of A Man, Be Specific!

Originally Posted: April 01, 2010

Douglas MacKaye Harrington

David Monteleone and Toni Brennan behind the incredibly extensive men's fragrance section of Macy's, Smithaven Mall. (Douglas Harrington)

Southampton - In the film "Wayne's World II" Wayne gets a whiff of Garth and asks in shock, "Are you wearing Brut?" Garth responds, "Yes. My woman likes me in cologne." Of course, gentlemen, we need to like ourselves in it as well.

Jaipur by Boucheron is one of the most expensive colognes at $125.

When most men of my years were the age of Wayne and Garth, we pretty much inherited the tastes of our fathers when it came to scents and believe me they were pretty common, if you don't mind the pun. Think back before Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein realized the fortune that could be made in branding fragrance with their style lines, we literally had the likes of Aqua Velva, English Leather, Canoe and, of course, Old Spice. Admit it, who cannot whistle that iconic tune?

The colognes of that era, at least in America, had no connection to fashion and could have as easily been created by a chemical company like DuPont or a pharmaceutical company like Pfizer, which actually did, believe it or not, create Hai Karate. Back in the day, what we splashed on our face we called after shave, whether it actually was or not, as the label cologne was probably too feminine for any of us to admit to prior to the age of the metro-sexual.

Well, as this continuing column attests, times have indeed changed. Men not only worry about how they smell, they worry about the texture and color of their hair, the quality of their complexions, the wrinkles around the eyes and many of them actually get manicures and pedicures. That said, we will limit this installment of the column to fragrance and let me start by noting the actual difference between after shave and cologne.

A-Men, the male version of the immensely popular women's perfume Angel, is a hot new fragrance.

The men's fragrance displays have evolved from a single shelve in local pharmacies to entire product islands in major department stores, to that end I made a trip to the massive Macy's Men's Fragrance Department at the Smithaven Mall and spoke with Fragrance Specialist David Monteleone. "The fundamental and essential difference between after shave and cologne is that after shave is applied to the face and cologne should only be applied from below the neck and down," explained Monteleone. He went on to elaborate, admitting that for years the difference between the two was blurred, that now most major companies offer an after shave "balm," which is more often a cream and not a liquid. True cologne should not be applied to the face, as the high alcohol volume found in cologne will dry and age a man's face. After shave should have essential oils and nutrients that repair the damage done by shaving, as Monteleone noted, "It should cool and sooth, not sting!"

Staying with colognes, I asked Monteleone what were, in his opinion, the hot fragrances these days, "Chrome Sport by Azzaro, Polo's Red, White and Blue, Armani's Code and Acqua Di Gio are still classics that sell very well, as does Light Blue by Dolce & Gabbana." I asked him to tell me about Dolce & Gabbana's latest offering, "Right now it is The One for Men, which launched about a year and a half ago. D&G, the middle line of their fragrances, has just put out a series of fragrances based on tarot cards that are numbered [Le Bateleur 1, L'Imperatrice 3, L'Amoureaux 6, La Roue de la Fortune 10 and La Lune 18]."

Polo, after decades, remains an iconic stallworth for generations of men.

Behind the counter with Monteleone was Clarins Group Promotional Consultant Toni Brennan who said, "Men are becoming more aware that they have to stay consistent regarding the products they use on their bodies and so there are packages offered that include cologne, after shave balm and deodorant in the same fragrances." Monteleone noted, "It is called layering." Yes gentlemen, do not let a cheap, mass market deodorant diminish the effect of that expensive cologne. Face it, layering makes sense, or scents - actually, both!

Speaking of expense, I asked Monteleone which was the most costly fragrance he had behind the Macy's counter, "Probably Jaipur by Boucheron and their signature fragrance Boucheron, both are about $125." I also asked him how concerned men were regarding the expense of particular cologne and if they found something they really loved if they would just open the wallet, "Young and single yes, but men that are married with children sometimes rethink their choices. However, generally, if a guy is really taken with the right scent he will go for it."

From a single shelve in pharmacies to whole islands in malls, men's grooming products are now a major source of retail revenue.

Apparently the willingness to experiment with new scents is also age related, as Monteleone admitted, "There are so many men in their 50s that won't consider anything but the original Polo green label. It still sells very well." I guess that means that although my generation moved on from our father's Old Spice, once we get comfortable with an old friend, we are very loyal.

That said gentlemen, even this pompous Hamptons fashion classicist has ventured beyond my original love for Polo to, albeit now classics themselves, CK Obsession, Burberry, Polo Black and various D&G offerings. That said, I remain in search of a fragrance I bought in Paris in 1973. It was Monsieur Rochas, a male fragrance created by the ionic women's perfume company Rochas. Returning to America, I literally could not walk into a restaurant without both men and women, particularly women, going out of their way to tell me that they loved the way I smelled and most of them were complete strangers.

My point is that each one of us has a specific fragrance that will merge with our own body chemistry and create a smell that is extraordinary for us specifically. For me it was Monsieur Rochas and I have not found cologne yet to match it. If I trip over it today, I will buy a case of it. Well, considering my age, maybe half a case. No, a full case and leave the rest to my son Jack in my will, as he shares my DNA and it may have the same effect for him.

So my fellow Hamptons gentlemen, young and old, hit the cologne counters like Macy's and start the search for that fragrance that will make your partner or partner-yet-to-be, male or female, swoon when you walk into the room. Both Monteleone and Brennan told me that A-Men by Thierry Mugler is a definite option and anything by Gauthier should never be dismissed. No matter what you choose, if you happen to trip across Monsieur Rochas please, I beg you, send me an email.

Frequently mistaken for the "Most Interesting Man in the World" from the Dos Equis commercials and the iconic gray-bearded Sean Connery, DMH is the Senior Contributing Editor at Hamptons.com. www.hamptons.com Hamptons HamptonsOnline HamptonsOnline

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