Why don't men wear floral fragrances?

Why don't men wear floral fragrances?

We have recently sent out a newsletter for our dear customers and friends with some modest proposals for scents to see you through the seasons. Now as you know, we tend to recommend perfumes by mood and style rather than gender at Les Senteurs. Therefore, gentlemen, please do not be put off when you see in this calendar a splendid assemblage of floral notes: this flowery fragrance could yet be very much the one for you! So: be bold and follow your nose ... and your heart!

When was it that boys were told off to avoid flowers? It's a very British thing. And relatively recent. Male Russian cosmonauts, Austrian tenors and South American footballers are bombarded with roses, carnations and orchids in their moments of triumph. And even here both sexes get sent loads of flowers when it's all too late: I mean, for the final send-off at what is now tactfully termed ”end of retirement”.


Flowers & Gender-prejudice 

It is partly to do with an old and lingering distrust of trusting to the senses and listening to the imagination: the old Empire-building mentality. Eyes forward and emotions regimented. For flowers are disconcertingly ambiguous. Brilliantly and flagrantly coloured, they emit strong strange scents which arouse and intoxicate the senses. They revel in displaying their intimate parts and reproductive processes. Their petals may have the texture of the most delicate skin; but their thorns tear and pierce, their stems cut flesh like knives. Flowers symbolise qualities like modesty and innocence - but they devour insects alive and can survive the most excessive extremes of temperature.

On the other hand, light gardening and flower-arranging were once considered a thoroughly safe and activity for rich and leisured young ladies. Then things took a bad turn when flower names for children started to become popular with the late Victorians. They were all for girls.  Lily, May, Rosemary, Marguerite, Rose, Marigold, Primrose, Clover, Lavender, Sorrel, Jasmine, Briony, Violet, Lilac, Ivy, Daisy and the rest. Flowers are generally pretty tough but popular taste and gender-prejudice chose then to see them as fragile and fading, drooping and frail. Flower fairies, in fact.

 Atelier Materi - Peau d'Ambrette - Les Senteurs

The Exceptions

Only Vita Sackville West ploughed her own idiosyncratic and implicitly subversive furrow by characterising: "Every flower her son. And every tree her daughter"

And there are rare exceptions: for instance, the boy Lupin Pooter in The Diary of a Nobody.

The glorious 'Hyacinth' - once the name of a sainted Polish bishop, a male French painter and an athlete loved by Apollo - finally ended up on tv as the Patricia Routledge comic grotesque. Contrariwise, the son of the Empress Josephine, by her first marriage, was christened Eugene Rose. And look at Narcissus, fading away over his own reflection. Yes: once there was a time when flowers were emphatically, violently male. With a ghastly rakishness, the Paris executioner habitually presided at the guillotine with a red rose behind his ear.

Tom Daxon - Iridium - Les Senteurs 

Floral Fragrances for him

Flowers are such a universal phenomenon, applicable to every aspect of our life, that it seems shortsighted to restrict their use and inspiration by gender. Flowers touch food, medicine,  health, heraldry, art, colour, religion.  Even the military is riddled with floristry. Regimental badges; the ancient Aztec Flowery Wars (to take captives for the altars); the Wars of the Roses. And of course, Poppy Day. Let us take a gallant salute to the military orchid, to mace and flags, and to the gladiolus, named after the standard sword of the Roman legions and of the arena. If a man loves the smell of gardenias or tuberose he may wear it with the same elegance as he sports a rose in his buttonhole.

Here are a few suggestions of floral scents popular amongst men:

Frederic Malle - Une Rose

Creed - Aventus

Serge Lutens - De Profundis

Tauer Perfumes - 08 Une Rose Chypree

Sylvaine Delacourte - Ozkan

Peruse the Les Senteurs Floral Scents selection for more exclusively niche scents.

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