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Can we get real for a second? Most modern mainstream masculine fragrances are pretty terrible. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Yes, of course there exceptions and some mainstream masculines are absolute masterpieces, but the truth is that most of the time, gents are simply offered more of the same. Things are always fresh and sporty, citrussy and woody. If that’s not the case then we’re talking “noir” and amber. It’s all very uninspired, very safe, and not very exciting.

“But not always” I hear you cry and you’re right. There are one or two mainstream brands out there who do actually give a hoot about what they’re making, balancing innovation with accessibility. Surprisingly, one of these brands is dunhill London, who are quietly making incredibly affable masculine fragrances that are a few steps above the hoi polloi. They’re not weird or challenging – they’re easy to get on with, made with good materials and with unique, intriguing facets. I’m a fan.

dunhill London’s latest is Century. They describe it as “a fresh new signature”, saying that it is “embracing the future” with “a new clarity”. Created by legendary perfumer Carlos Benaïm (Eau de Magnolia and Music for a While), who was also responsible for dunhill London’s remarkable ICON, Century is a transparent masculine fragrance that, like the concave, clear shapes found within its striking flacon, reflects a multi-faceted core – a heart of sandalwood. “Make your mark on the future” says dunhill London, and if they have anything to do with it, the future of mainstream masculine perfumery looks very promising.

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I’ve always been a firm believer that first and foremost, a perfume must smell good. It can come in whatever bottle it wants with any back story it fancies, but if it’s not enjoyable to wear then what’s the point? So often us consumers are courted with gimmicks – perfumes that promise us all sorts of weird and wonderful things, and whilst this allows for the art of olfaction to be pushed forward, it doesn’t necessarily result in fragrances that translate for everyday wear. It’s a balance between making artistic statements and making wearable accessories and when done right, the results are utterly magical.

One brand that perfectly fulfils the ethos of smelling good is Jo Malone London and since the brand’s inception in 1983, they have brought us a wealth of accessible colognes that above all else, smell good. Jo Malone London is a brand that celebrates the luxury of simplicity with fragrances that usually focus on the contrast and harmony of two notes but are always served with a touch of British eccentricity. The idea is that the fragrances themselves are complex enough to excite the nose when worn alone but also have enough of a paired-back simplicity to allow them to be combined with other scents in the collection (following the brand’s Fragrance Combining suggestions). With Jo Malone London one builds a wardrobe of fragrances for each occasion, layering them to unlock new and exciting facets. To put it simply: they do what they do very well.

Masculine? Feminine? Does it really matter? We're conditioned to behave in ways prescribed by our genders, but I say to heck with that. There is more than one type of man and one type of woman. Gender, like sexuality, can be fluid and a person can identify with whatever feels right to them.
Masculine? Feminine? Does it really matter?

The American state of North Carolina recently passed a disgusting bill that not only removes some of the legal protections provided for LGBT employees, but also stipulates that transgender people can only use the toilet facilities correspondent to the gender on their birth certificate. To most normal humans this seems utterly absurd. People are people, right? What harm can it cause if they want to live their life as the gender they feel they truly are? The answer is none, but this goes against the wider conditioning within society that states that men and women, and boys and girls, should behave, dress and love in particular ways. It’s that old trope that baby boys must wear blue and baby girls must wear pink and you know what? It’s bullshit.

But why are we so caught up on the idea of gender, and what makes the world so uncomfortable with people living outside the conventions of ‘male’ and ‘female’? Is it fear of the unknown? Fear of change? I’m not sure I can answer, but it’s certainly driven by both fear and a lack of knowledge, and understanding. In truth, we all know, deep down, that it doesn’t matter what gender a person is because there is beauty in what we perceive to be masculine and what we perceive to be feminine, so when these lines blur, we just see something equally as beautiful, different yes, but still wonderful.