What am I missing? Where have warm, 'ambery' masculine fragrances gone?

slpfrsly

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Apr 1, 2019
What am I missing?

When I was growing up, the impression I had of masculine fragrances was of warm, somewhat dark, rich, and masculine aromas that were brown and ambery coloured liquids. Far from being some blue or synthetic coloured bottle or liquid, something musty, perhaps spicy, rich, blended, with woods and tobacco and mosses were 'the' smell of men.

It's that idea, that feel, as much as anything else that drew me in to fragrance: particularly in the colder months we are heading in to. And it's that feeling or 'type' I'm still searching for, still trying to find, and trying to add to my collection.

So, what am I missing?

I'll admit that my own formative idea isn't the be all and end all, however I also think there's a distinct lack of these type of fragrances currently for sale. Given that I was a teenager in the 00s and thus that era had a huge bearing on me as well, the fact that so many designer fragrances seemed to draw upon this idea (at least in terms of physical presentation) leaves me massively disappointed at the sheer lack of similar-smelling options today. From D&G's The One, Michael Kors for Men, and perhaps more recently Boss' The Scent, there are at least some mainstream male fragrances that tread on the stylings of yesteryear but even then, they're somewhat cauterised or softened. The scents of yesteryear - think colognes from the 70s, perhaps something like Bel Ami - are too dated for my tastes yet it's that idea, that feel, that still entices me.

And yet it seems like 'dark' has become a pastiche in perfumery. 'Dark' in perfumery is now a cartoonish attempt to produce something that is, to my mind, unwearable. Think Beaufort London and their dedication to making interesting yet (to my mind) unwearable (or at least socially challenging) 'dark' fragrances based on concepts like gunpowder. 'Warm' has become either gloopy vanilla that is over-the-top in its sweetness, or more commonly it refers to the 'amber note' trend of pairing vanilla with labdanum and creating something more oriental-smelling. 'Spicy' has become its own venture in to orientalism, with spice going either full spice cabinet, or leaning on the vanilla trend. And 'leather'...well. This is perhaps my most hated modern development as it seems like, rathe than rich, warm, worn, enticing leathery scents, we're left with harsh, factory-fresh leather aromas akin to TF's Tuscan Leather. To my nose, these leather scents smell utterly female - they're female powerdressing fragrances and not simply because of the presence of the raspberry. They smell like a mix of dominatrix and handbag and far from the brown, rich, ambery leathery aroma I am trying to find, they are harsh, cold, sharp, and once again leaning in to the 'dark' territory of trying to smell too realistic for their own good. I am a fan of sueded leather, though it still seems like this isn't being used in the kind of manner I'm hoping for.

So, again, what am I missing?

Do these scents actually exist and I'm simply not seeing the woods for the trees? I do think that the designer trend of amber-coloured bottles as previously mentioned (The One etc) aren't what I'm looking for - I like what they do but they lack the depth and perhaps quality. And I tend to find issues with all vintage fragrances - from smelling dated to poor performance. Michael for Men by Michael Kors is the closest I've come to finding this aroma in a relatively modern fragrance but it takes a rather offputting opening (coriander, fir, cinnamon - quite fresh and sharp) to get to the warm, rich, lovely mid to base of tobacco, suede, and a more tasteful blending of the spicier notes. Yet I feel that fragrance is also 'thin' - the years haven't really been kind to it. Do these scents still exist? Have they changed the way they are branded? Are they no longer deep brown or amber liquids in clear glass bottles - which makes it hard to categorise this kind of smell in one harmonious family as we might be able to do more easily with, say, the dark blue ambroxan and amberwood trend?

Or, rather than me not seeing what is out there, has the market simply stopped making these fragrances?

I'm fairly disdainful of most niche perfumery that seems to deliberately try to maximise its market by creating nominally unisex scents - precisely because they invariably are not unisex in the slightest, they are female-oriented. This is in particular evidence when it comes to the big designers - Chanel, YSL, Dior - and their high end 'boutique' lines: Les Exclusifs, La Collection etc. But even smaller niche houses seem to fall for this - whether women are the primary buyers of fragrances or not, having tried a good 200-300 niche samples over the last 12 months, their fragrances tend to veer in to the self indulgent, or 'more' oriental, or simply feminine smelling. The kind of fragrance I'm hoping to find simply doesn't exist. At least, the market has decided not to make it anymore. Why? What am I missing...?

It seems like a horrible joke is being played on men, where they're being told to wear all manner or iris and violet-based designer fragrances as office wear (my own interpretation of that is this trend has been pushed specifically to produce a modern-smelling 'safe' workplace aroma that doesn't deter women; the fragrance equivalent of banning conversations about sport in the office) or dark blue sporty scents that, for the most part, are not as versatile or as universal as brands evidently believe (again, my opinion). It's like this staple of masculine aroma has...disappeared. It's just gone. Poof...off in to the ether. And I'm really, truly struggling to understand why.

To me, this IS the reason for fragrance: something warm, rich, blended, a dark yet comforting aroma that is somewhat smoky, spicy, warming, and masculine. I totally understand fresh and clean. I understand green and piney, or blue and sporty, or yellow and citric. But brown, ambery, rich, warm...it's THE whole point I want to wear fragrance. It feels like the absolute pinnacle of masculine perfumery and yet, perversely, the market doesn't seem to even recognise this let alone cater to it.

Apologies for the rant but I'm genuinely at a loss: am I missing something? Have I simply overlooked the scents I'm talking about? This is with a view to genuinely finding a fragrance I love: and so when I ask 'am I missing something', it's because I want to add it to my wardrobe. Yet equally, I feel like I'm at a loss as to why this style of fragrance just...seems to be in such short supply. Given the sheer number of fragrances available in the present day, all the weird and wonderful aromatic creations, why on earth is this fragrance type so...absent?

Thoughts, advice, commiserations, and anything else very welcome. I'm particularly interested if anyone else has had a similar revelation borne out of this kind of frustration?
 

Mak-7

Well-known member
Sep 19, 2019
M by puredistance, Anubis papillon, musc ravageur, bing ma yong by auphorie, ambre narguile, EO1 and possibly Overture man though i didnt try it.

I dont play with basic designer after trying a few and realizing that it doesnt fulfill my requirement.
 

cacio

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Nov 5, 2010
As you point out, the nineties brought in aquatics and other sharp fresh molecules, and this dominates masculine perfumery. Then darkness was gourmand-with a lot of sugar and vanilla. Then IFRA made it next to impossible to recreate the genre, which needed oakmoss as a skeleton.

Some oldies survive in decent state (Derby, Bel Ami). In modern niche, here and there there are some dark ones that don't go into sharp leather or too much amber. Perhaps some Tauer (eg Air du desert, Lonesome rider)? Tom of finland? Rasei fort kolonya (if it lasted)?
 

Brooks Otterlake

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 12, 2019
Some designer releases in the "warm brown" style from the last ten years:

Azzaro pour Homme Intense (2015)
Baldessarini Ambre Oud (2017)
Bentley for Men (2013)
Calvin Klein Euphoria Amber Gold (2018)
Cartier Pasha Parfum (2020)
Dunhill Moroccan Amber (2019)
Robert Graham Fortitude (2016)

When it comes to niche, why haven't you gotten your nose on Frank Los Angeles No. 2 yet? It's pretty much everything you've been hunting for. Warm, boozy, suede-y, with a Michael for Men vibe but without Michael's aggressive aspects.
 
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satyen

Well-known member
Dec 11, 2018
Perhaps these amber frags fall in the category of niche that u dislike... but i really dig these in order of preference
Ambre loup by rania j
Ambre sultan by serge lutens
Ambre nuit by dior
Ambre cashmere by nicolai
Ambre eternal by guerlain




Sent from my SM-G980F using Tapatalk
 

krooze

Well-known member
Nov 6, 2013
Slumberhouse Jeke and Baque are both in this category. Jeke is a little smokier but with a great, woody and creamy backdrop for an excellent smoky tobacco fragrance.

Baque is fresh apricot tobacco with a golden haze of ambergris around it. Not the amount of smoke but has a comfortable richness that feels like what you might be looking for.

Outside of those, if you're open to looking for some vintage on eBay, I've gotten the precise vibe that you're referencing from Lagerfeld Cologne. Down to the color of the juice in a clear bottle.
 

Alonewithcologne

Well-known member
Oct 12, 2017
Perhaps Jovan Secret Amber? It's an inexpensive, yet classic amber which supposedly smells similar to Ambre Precieux by Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier.
 

PrinceRF

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Apr 3, 2020
Slumberhouse Jeke and Baque are both in this category. Jeke is a little smokier but with a great, woody and creamy backdrop for an excellent smoky tobacco fragrance.

Baque is fresh apricot tobacco with a golden haze of ambergris around it. Not the amount of smoke but has a comfortable richness that feels like what you might be looking for.

These two are very special scents. :thumbsup:
 

Renaissance_Man

Well-known member
Feb 26, 2006
I second the Tauer and the Bentley already mentioned and I’d like to add L’Homme Sage by Divine. I would recommend Fan di Fendi but that’s discontinued and not sure about current prices.
 

StylinLA

Well-known member
Aug 9, 2009
"The scents of yesteryear - think colognes from the 70s, perhaps something like Bel Ami - are too dated for my tastes yet it's that idea, that feel, that still entices me."

You're incredibly discerning which is your right.

But I find it interesting you yearn for scents something like BEL AMI, but then find them too dated. What sort of line are you asking these scents to walk?

PUREDISTANCE M is sort of a modernized version of BEL AMI as is ROJA DOVE FETISH.
 

notspendingamillion

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Sep 2, 2018
man+amber= mamber? Manber?

the problem i think is that theyve significantly sweetened the ambers in the designer realm

brown bottles:
adg absolu
adg instinct
stronger with you
code profumo
aramis tobacco reserve
wanted
wanted by night

when i want some amber, i go with a gloopy sticky wall of Grand Soir, or a balsamic thinned out obsession. so outdated. i like it, but i understand if people dont. it is the quintessential old man amber.
 

LL Cool Spray

Well-known member
Aug 24, 2008
I think this is a common sentiment for those of us that grew up in the 70s/80s. I am always on the lookout for a throwback and usually walk away dissatisfied.
Although very rarely, I do find one that makes me smile. I don't know if you have tried Mr Blass, but I highly recommend it.
 

Andy the frenchy

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2018
What am I missing?

It seems like a horrible joke is being played on men, where they're being told to wear all manner or iris and violet-based designer fragrances as office wear (my own interpretation of that is this trend has been pushed specifically to produce a modern-smelling 'safe' workplace aroma that doesn't deter women; the fragrance equivalent of banning conversations about sport in the office)

Fact checking: Dior Fahrenheit is a huge seller, a violet based scent, and I cant imagine a woman wearing that one ever, nor a man wearing that in the office. Bad call!
As for sport convos, I'm an ex rugby player and very happy not to have basic bros coming to bother me in the office with sport talks. Nothing more boring!
Wearing a bold fragrance at work would porbably not only deter women, but also men... Why taking women specifically as example?

I'm not sure what you're "missing", but as others have underlined in their previous responses, that doesn't make really sense to look for an "amber of the 70s/80s that is not done anymore" while openly admitting that you're not a fan of this period and taking Bel-Ami as an example of dated fragrance.

On a different point, I would be curious to understand what is the point of spending hours and hours over 2 years on 2 fragrance platform forums in your quest for the holy grail, asking for advices, looking for under-the-radar fragrances and write pages and pages on perfume, and then ending up with 5 fragrances, of which 4 are very contemporary smelling, and 3 of these 4 are crowdpleasing bestsellers (Layton, Aventus, Beau de Jour) that you could have located by yourself within one hour of sniffing at any decent department store. To "each his own", as we say politely... But ok, let's be constructive, and here are a couple of suggestions (that I hope will be useful this time):

Tauer - L'Air du Desert Marocain (coriander, labdanum, leather)
Jovoy - Les Jeux Sont Faits (booze, tobacco, cumin)
HdP - Ambrarem (dark amber, spices, oud)
Masque - Tango (dark amber)
Lutens - Le Participe Passe (caramel, spices, woods - sweet but dark)
Zegna - Strength (smoky tobacco, oud, honey, animalic musks - discontinued)
Zegna - Passion (booze, incense, saffron - discontinued)
 

rum

Moderator
Moderator
Basenotes Plus
Mar 17, 2011
Thoughts, advice, commiserations, and anything else very welcome. I'm particularly interested if anyone else has had a similar revelation borne out of this kind of frustration?

All in all, I have had similar thoughts as you, hence my extensive selling lately.

There is clearly a shift in what 'masculine' means these days. I'm not going to try and explain why - I don't think I'm qualified to do that and it could open up all sorts of debates that will likely take this thread into another dimension.

Traditionally speaking, I yearn for scents that are masculine - as in, woody, fougere, or perhaps only slightly 'oriental' in that they do not drift too far off into sweet candy-floss territory.

To conclude, I think scents you might want to check out (assuming your wardrobe is up to date) are:
Antonio Puig Quorum
Armani Eau Pour Homme
Chanel Pour Monsiuer
Ralph Lauren Safari for Men
YSL Pour Homme
YSL Rive Gauche

If you really are looking for something amber and not just amber-coloured, I suggest checking out YSL Opium Pour Homme.
 

NettyYeti

Well-known member
Jan 28, 2016
I can sympathize. When I first got into this hobby, this was the type of scent I so badly wanted to find.

Have you tried Caron’s Third Man? It’s not exactly brown (nor an amber), but it has the same kind of “chewiness” that’s found in Bel Ami.

I haven’t smelled Azzaro Pour Homme Intense, but I’ll second it, as getting my nose on the original was a sort of watershed moment for me.

I’ll also second the Ombre Leather, though I think it’s more “feminine” than what you’re looking for (smells delicious on my wife, but I love wearing it as well).

If you want balls-to-the-wall masculine, try Histoires de Parfums Ambre 114 (edit: or is it Noir Patchouli I’m thinking of?). You might decide that the more modern, “feminine” ambers are what you want.

Finally, Halston Man Amber might be more to your liking, though I believe it’s discontinued.
 

Brooks Otterlake

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 12, 2019
I'm wearing Frank No. 2 Los Angeles tonight and maintain that it's everything slpfrsly has been after in his quixotic quest. Warm, boozy, with that Michael Kors plum note and a rich, prominent suede. There's the faint ghost of an old-school classic waving from the distance.
 

Zgb

Well-known member
Jan 20, 2009
I could be wrong but Guerlain L'Homme Ideal line in its entirety, especially the new Extreme flanker fits the bill. Moschino Toy Boy, terrible marketing aside, could also be a good option. Baldessarini Ultimate, an off the radar gem. Cartier Pasha Parfum, the newest gem. Boss Botlled Intense EdP and Boss The Scent Parfum Edition are at least try worthy. Paco Rabanne 1 Million Prive is worth cheking, the most mature one from that line. I don't think that the market actually lost this warm type of frags, however it is lately more oriented in the Dior Sauvage tone for the past five years.
 

Man Of The World

Well-known member
Apr 3, 2017
Some designer releases in the "warm brown" style from the last ten years:

Azzaro pour Homme Intense (2015)
Baldessarini Ambre Oud (2017)
Bentley for Men (2013)
Calvin Klein Euphoria Amber Gold (2018)
Cartier Pasha Parfum (2020)
Dunhill Moroccan Amber (2019)
Robert Graham Fortitude (2016)

When it comes to niche, why haven't you gotten your nose on Frank Los Angeles No. 2 yet? It's pretty much everything you've been hunting for. Warm, boozy, suede-y, with a Michael for Men vibe but without Michael's aggressive aspects.

The Pasha Parfum you mention is superb.
 

slpfrsly

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Apr 1, 2019
I've just checked back in on this - sorry for lack of replies.

I wasn't sure what the reaction would be to what was, admittedly, basiclly just a rant. Some appear to have misunderstood what I'm talking about, which is totally understandable, but good to get some engagement. I think I expected a discussion as much as anything else, rather than suggestions.

I'll reply properly to each person when I have more time but thanks for responses so far.
 

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