Men’s fragrance embraces extreme masculinity

Men’s fragrance embraces extreme masculinity

New intense scents tap into a hyper-masculine fantasy of living, playing and loving with gusto.

Extreme sports, imminent danger, tense situations—some men don’t want to just live life on an even keel. They crave the edge. The want to push the status quo. They fantasize about living life extremely, intensely, borderline-insanely.

Fragrance marketers acknowledge this and so have discovered how to capitalize on an already avid fan base, offering “intense” or “extreme” versions of favourite men’s fragrances.

Intense, edgy, extreme—but what does it smell like?

The big question for fragrance lovers: Are these scents really edgy? Perhaps.

Do they offer better value because you can use less? Not really.


Do the scents appeal simply they sounds sexy and hyper-masculine? Kind of.

Is this a bandwagon everyone is jumping on so as not to develop a case of fragrance FOMO (fear of missing out)? Partly.

In reality, there are many different ways perfumers go about renovating an original fragrance. There could be side-by-side differences in depth, as some notes are muted while others are brought forward. New notes could be introduced to the base formula or the base made richer and deeper while the other notes remain the same. Anise, for example, could be swapped out for fennel; a spicy element could be added; or the EDT could become an EDP—and other variations on the theme. The intense version of the original scent could also be a totally different juice, sharing just a whiff of the genes of the original’s DNA. But chances are good that if you like the first one, you’ll also like the new one. Marketers know this, and they rub their hands with glee.

The extreme stand out

The best new example of this extreme living is Azzaro Pour Homme of 1978. An intense version was introduced in 1992 and a second one launched recently, harkening back to the halcyon days when this popular Italian scent radiated sex appeal in a brandy-and-smoke kind of way. This new Intense version could very well be for the son of the man who wore it in 1978, its woody, cinnamon, amber charm reworked for “contemporary virility.” Men with contemporary virility would be the demographic that isn’t bothered that Playboy is phasing out the nude photos. Just a guess.

Whether fragrance versioning is just more of the same for you or a fun olfactory exercise, this trend is not going anywhere fast. And for that, fragrance marketers deserve their pats on the back, their drinks after work, the glamorous business incentive travel perks they burn through. Work hard, play hard, smell hard.

Extreme men’s fragrances: the line-up

1. Cinnamon, vetiver, amber and tonka bean. Azzaro Pour Homme Intense EDP, $86 (100 ml), www.thebay.com2015-APH-INTENSE-FOND-BLANC

2. Iris, violet, vanilla, sage, patchouli and tonka bean. Yves Saint Laurent La Nuit de L’Homme L’Intense, $130 (100 ml), www.thebay.coml4353200-hom-intense-100ml

3.Pink grapefruit, bergamot, balsa wood and vetiver. Bvlgari Man Extreme, $99 (100 ml), www.sephora.comwww.nordstrom.comBV_ManExtreme60

4. Pepper, sage, pimento and leather. Bottega Veneta Pour Homme Extreme, $100 (50 ml), www.holtrenfrew.comwww.nordstrom.comBV-Homme-Extreme

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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.