Man! I Smell Like a Woman – Gender Bending in Fragrance

Marc Jacobs

I don’t know about you, but when I wear fragrance I wear it for myself and myself alone. Sure, I love to share my passion with others, that is a huge part of my hobby, but when I wear perfume, I wear it because I enjoy it.

And I wear what I like!

Ever since I bought my first proper perfume (Kingdom by Alexander McQueen) I have loved ‘feminine’ fragrances. Looking through my collection it’s obvious that the ratio of feminine and masculine is weighted considerably towards the feminine. To this day I find myself drawn to the feminine releases much more than masculines. Don’t get me wrong I do enjoy wearing masculine fragrances but they just don’t wow me the way a lot of the feminines do.

I guess that I’m the King/Queen of fragrant gender bending.

So…why do I wear predominately feminine fragrances?

Firstly, can we just abolish this feminine/masculine BS? A fragrance does not have a gender, sure it can have facets and nuances that are masculine or feminine, but a fragrance is an abstract composition made up of a variety of natural and synthetic materials, it does not have any genitalia, therefore it has no gender.

The reason I am attracted to those fragrances which are marketed as feminine (because lets face it, it’s just a marketing ploy) is because on the whole I love big, aldehydic florals, huge, spicy orientals and loud, yummy gourmands. It just so happens that these fragrances tend to be fall into the category of ‘feminine’.

On a trip to London last week, my good friend Nick (from Fragrant Reviews and g & t and that) spent a good hour talking to a Sales Assistant at the Covent Garden Lush store. We sat on wooden stools in front of the entire Gorilla Perfume range and had a wonderful chat about all things perfume. One of the points she made was that men wearing feminine fragrances works so well because it is unexpected. For this reason she likes to introduce the boys to the feminine fragrances within the Gorilla Perfume line, and they tend to like them!

The unexpected fragrances work the best, just picture it, a handsome, fashionable young man wearing a strong fragrance, what is it? You would expect him to wear something generic, perhaps Prada Amber Pour Homme or Paco Rabanne 1 Million, but that’s too obvious. Just imagine if that boy was wearing Chanel N°5, it’s completely unexpected and it works so well.

Obviously not all fragrances work on everybody, you have to find what works for you and most importantly what you feel comfortable wearing. It’s only when you feel totally comfortable wearing something can you completely ‘rock it’.

I have put together a small list of the 10 best Feminines for the Boys to wear and the 10 best Masculines for the Ladies to wear. This is just a summary, and although there are fab niche lines offering a wealth of genderless fragrances, I have chosen not to include these here.

Feminines for the Boys

Alexander McQueen Kingdom

Chanel Coco

Chanel N°5

Christian Dior Hypnotic Poison

Guerlain Shalimar (& Shalimar Parfum Initial)

Thierry Mugler Angel

Thierry Mugler A Travers le Miroir

Tom Ford Black Orchid

Yves Saint Laurent Opium

Yves Saint Laurent Nu EDP

Masculines for the Ladies

Comme des Garçons 2 Man

Dior Homme

Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Geranium Pour Monsieur

Etat Libre d’Orange Antiheros

Guerlain Habit Rouge

Guerlain Vetiver

Jean Paul Gaultier Fleur du Mâle

Marc Jacobs Bang

Montale Black Aoud

Yves Saint Laurent M7

The above selection is just a rough guide of what masculines/feminine fragrances would suit the opposite sex, you may disagree, and of course there may be other fragrances that work just as well, if not better as gender benders.

Join the Discussion!

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts about gender bending in fragrance:

Do you gender bend?

What are your favourite fragrances marketed for the opposite sex?

Please leave your comments in the box below!


Image 1