Buying Mens' Fragrance
The duty free shop is not really a man’s world when it comes to the perfumes and cosmetics areas, but it’s getting there. Men’s scents are taking a bigger share: where once they occupied a shelf here and a wall unit there, they now command bays and even whole sections in some cases.
Men may continue to be the main passengers in many airports • especially if the airport is a business hub like Brussels or Zurich • but they tend to spend as little time as possible in the shops, never mind the beauty areas, and more time in the lounges. In fact, it is often their partners who buy them fragrances • so you will find that airport retailers often target women travellers with men’s products as much as the men themselves.
The fact that both sexes are likely to be buying men’s fragrances at the airport means that, in many cases, men’s perfume areas are neutrally styled: the stereotype of an overtly masculine, dark-coloured section where the male of the species will feel ‘comfortable’ is largely gone. This is also evident in the products coming to market whose images tend to revolve around lifestyle rather than set ideas about macho sexuality • although it’s there if you want it.
Calvin Klein was one of the first to get the ball rolling with its ck one franchise which was a groundbreaking unisex citrus floral fragrance that caught the mid-nineties zeitgeist when it launched. Served up in an old fashioned, flat-sided semi-transparent bottle with a screw top, the simplicity of the presentation appealed to a large youth market and the line, made by Coty, has been spun out in the form of ck be and ck free.
Other houses are also tapping into men’s lifestyles. Givenchy’s Play which is fronted by singer Justin Timberlake, looks like an MP3 player, while Bang from Marc Jacobs has obvious sexual connotations if you check out the ad: the designer himself is sprawled naked with legs apart, his modesty covered by a larger than life-size version of his scent. The bottle is also unusual, looking like it has crumpled from being punched or hit with a heavy object.
The theme of money and ostentation has also found its way into men’s fragrances with One Million from Paco Rabanne. The bottle (it’s more of a container) is fashioned as a gold bullion bar and despite the financial crisis and the anti-banking and anti-money markets sentiment, this fragrance has been a resounding success during the downturn and beyond. For fitness fanatics, Davidoff’s Champion, another citrus scent with wood base notes, is encased in a bottle that looks like a dumbbell. If that sounds appealing then Diesel’s Only the Brave in the shape of a clenched fist, might also be your style.
More subtle is Lalique’s White which is exactly that: a white packaged light, spicy musk with citrus fragrance for men with a delicate bottle design focused on the light refracting poperties of crystal, Lalique’s heritage. And keeping with the sophisticated theme Giorgio Armani, the most popular men’s brand sold in airports, runs the gamut of bottle styles and presentations, but always retaining a classic feel and look.
Essentially the airport will give you vast choices from which to pick and choose the right men’s scent. That choice can be made based on the juice itself; you may have a heavy preference for spice for example, or the advertising, or how the bottle will look in your bathroom along with the others you have bought in duty free over the years.
Whatever your priorities, don’t make hasty decisions in the store. Take the time to test the scents, explore the imagery and ask the shop staff for guidance. Contrary to popular belief many are well trained by the beauty houses and can probably give you useful advice if you are unsure of what you’re looking for. Even if they can’t talk you through the olfactory pyramid of Chanel’s Allure Homme Sport they will certainly know what’s newly in, the limited editions and the exclusives to duty free that are popular with other passengers. Happy hunting!