Cedar to oud: the wonders of wood

Cedar to oud: the wonders of wood

By Deborah Fulsang

What a rose is to women’s perfume, wood is to history’s portfolio of men’s fragrances. Not that women’s spritzes aren’t embracing wood—Chanel’s Coco Noir and Bottega Veneta’s namesake toilette are just two current and masterful wood-laced women’s scents that deserve serious sniffing—but for men, wood is a mainstay. We’re seeing it imagined in new and modern ways too. We recently sat down—virtually—for a chat with Danny Ventura, International Training Manager at Beauté Prestige Internationale, about the wonders of wood.

QUESTION: What are the most iconic woods used in men’s fragrance historically?
: Some of the most important woods that are and have been used in men’s fragrances are sandalwood, cedar, patchouli [and] agar wood, (also known as oud). Birch, juniper and pine are also used.

Q: What is it about woody notes that immediately communicate masculinity?
: It is essential to use woody notes in men’s fragrances because it allows the scent to be anchored to the skin, making the scent long-lasting. It also communicates voluptuousness, elegance, and depth to a scent.

Q: How are woody notes being used differently today than in the past?
: Compounds of this class of scents are typically rich and deep and are usually not perceived until 30 minutes after application. This method and application have basically remained unchanged from the past and is used in the same way today.

Q: What are new woods and what character do they bring to the table?
: Today in modern perfumery, we can find many new versions of woody scents. This is due to the fact that perfumers are expanding their creativity and rethinking how the wood note can be combined. Typically woods are combined with notes like vetiver or citrus, however recently perfumers have been combining floral and aromatics to scents. It allows us to expand the creative process, while ensuring that the fragrance retains a long-lasting trail.

Looking for wood? Here, a few scent suggestions:
L’Eau D’Issey Pour Homme Sport.
Cedar combines with sparkling citrus notes but also warm nutmeg and vetiver for a sporty but sophisticated essence. L’Homme D’Issey Pour Homme Sport EDT, $95 (100 ml), www.isseymiyake.com

Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male. This timeless fragrance combines wood notes with aromatic mint, lavender, vanilla and orange blossom. EDT, $72 (75 ml), www.jeanpaulgaultier.com, www.thebay.com

Lalique Parfums Hommage à L’Homme, Earthy and elegant, this fragrance mixes oud and musk with green labdanum, fresh violet leaf, bergamot and saffron, and a heart of chili leaf, violet and black pepper. EDT, $125 (100 ml), www.lalique-parfums.com, www.lalique.com

Mont Blanc Legend. This scent celebrates opposites: fresh, frosted ginger and spearmint combine with white cedar, flowers and sultry sandalwood, tonka bean and amber. EDT, $82 (100 ml), www.montblanc.com, www.thebay.com

Narciso Rodriguez for Him. Notes of patchouli, amber and musk combine with violet leaf in this refined, woody-green toilette. www.narcisorodriguez.com, www.thebay.com


Find more woody scents in our Fragrance Buying Guide. Click here to find new woody spritzes and iconic ones too! 

One of the latest woods to be explored: Oud wood. Click here to read our story on this old-made-new wood-note trend. 


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Deborah Fulsang has spent the last two decades as a journalist covering news and trends in the worlds of style—in fashion and beauty, design and décor, food and entertaining. Her long-held love of fragrance led her to launch The Whale & The Rose, a destination for all things perfume-related. Now, when she indulges in a crazy-expensive bottle of fragrance, she can do so guilt-free. Well almost. It’s all in the name of research after all.