The best men’s fragrances are the classics

The best men’s fragrances are the classics

Chanel Egoiste, Acqua di Parma, Aramis: It’s okay to keep returning to those tried-and-true men’s fragrances—really. 

Like a classic cocktail, a great book that bears repeat readings, a cashmere sweater that doesn’t seem to wear out, iconic fragrances have more mileage than they are often given credit for.

Blast from the past

I remember discovering, in the thick of the ’90s Grunge days (yes, the knees of my jeans were gaping holes), that both Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant named Acqua di Parma Colonia as their favourite cologne. That a unisex citrus-lavender fragrance could have such celebrity clout made me buy a bottle of it ASAP. To then realize that the scent was formulated during World War One! Wow, I thought: Things don’t have to be new-new to be hopelessly, impossibly cool.

Modern redux

A top example of the newest redux of an older brand can be found with the next-generation Aramis fragrance Aramis Black. Although it really only maintains the leathery, mossy base notes of the 1964 original Aramis, it’s the spritz’s old-school attitude that the next generation is willing to cop, and without fear of smelling like an old man. This is one sexy, nuanced, timeless-smelling scent.

What makes a classic?

Is there, we wonder, a common denominator in the notes of these timeless men’s fragrances? They each seem a magic mix of citrus or resin, aromatics and/or herb, woods and flowers crafted uniquely by an A-list or master perfumer. And that’s just it. And it is magic, for these spritzes do seem unique but familiar too, old-school but modern, nuanced and rich without being overly complex.

After all this time

So it goes that some of the rest of those dusty gems in the back of your sock drawer or wherever you’re laying old bottles of scent to rest deserve revisiting. Chances are very good that they truly do smell chic and modern. Not again, but still.

Classic men’s fragrances: A lineup with perfume staying power. And, by the way, they make great holiday gifts too.


Citrus, lavender, rosemary, vetiver. Acqua di Parma Colonia EDC, $92 (100 ml),

Giorgio_Armani_Acqua_Di_Gio_for_Men_Eau_De_Toilette_Spray_100ml_1373959319Citrus, peach, jasmine, white musk. Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio EDT, $75 (100 ml),

EgoisteRosewood, rose, cinnamon, vanilla, sandalwood. Chanel Egoiste EDT, $204 (100 ml), at

dolcegabbanalightblueGrapefruit, bergamot, pepper, oakmoss. Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Pour Homme EDT, $99 (125 ml),

Grey-Flannel-Geoffrey-Beene-Men-SDL730143088-1-577b8Violet, galbanum, iris, oakmoss. Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel EDT, $55 (120 ml),

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Doug Wallace is a Toronto-based writer who began his fragrance wardrobe with a bottle of the now-iconic Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel and hasn’t looked back. A big fan of scents by houses Lalique and Boucheron, he is currently having a fling with all-things-British, including Clive Christian, Floris and Penhaligon’s. He treasures the dusty shoulders of some of his more aged bottles just as much as he does the shiny young ones.