The feelings that a fragrance can evoke are endless. Most, however, are associated with gender. Think about the floral notes you spritz on your wrists come springtime, or the intoxicating musk of your boyfriend's favorite cologne. But now as the notion of gender binaries become a thing of the past, the fragrance world is following behind, crafting masterful scents with everyone in mind. However, it's a little-known fact that most perfumes and colognes are created as begins as unisex fragrances.
"The perfumer’s palette is the same whether you create a female, male, or unisex fragrance," Francis Kurkdjian, co-creator and creative director at Maison Francis Kurkdjian, tells TZR. "Typically, it is not the ingredient that makes the gender of a fragrance, but the way you combine and balance it within the formula." How those formulas come together results in the gender categorization of the fragrance. "Traditionally, feminine scents are built either on a floral scent," Kilian Hennessy, founder of Kilian Paris, adds. "That includes rose, tuberose, and jasmine." On the flipside, masculine scents are notably built on more woodsy scents which include cedarwood, vetyver, sandalwood, and a "fougere," which Hennessy describes as an "accord built on a lavender, geranium, or coumarine structure."
However, in many cases, categorizations of a fragrance are completely decided by the consumer. "Since scent is so subjective, I’ve found that when my perfumes are worn, those categoric generalizations often fly out the window," Chavalia Dunlap, founder of Pink MahogHany fragrances says. "I have been surprised that men gravitate towards one of my perfumes that originally was marketed towards women — a fragrance callled Pas Encore Nommé — and am leaning more towards my next collection being gender-neutral. Sometimes women like to smell darker and men like to smell sweeter, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it."
But what about unisex fragrances? According to Gerard Camme, president of Atelier Cologne, they too have defining notes. "Unisex scents usually have notes of musk or ambroxan, two notes that are very calming and comforting," he tells me. But if you don't have a sophisticated nose, able to sniff out the layers of notes that comprise a fragrance, there's good news: just go with whatever scent makes you feel good. "Once you don’t think of genders anymore, you realize that all fragrances are actually unisex," Hennessy says. "Mozart used to say 'I look for the notes that love each other' and this is exactly how I go when I create a scent."
So if you're on the hunt for a fragrance of notes that "love each other" rather than one marked by gender, check out these beloved unisex fragrances comprised of every note and aroma you can dream of.
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"Do It For Love is a great example of contrast between very feminine notes like neroli, jasmine, and maltol, on a very masculine vetyver base," Hennessy says of the May launch. "The result is stunning and definitively unisex!"
"Since confinement, I’ve been wearing Atelier Cologne's Oolang Infini almost everyday as it is loaded with musk," Camme says of his April creation. "It's a perfume that is very subtle with lots of staying power, almost as though it’s there just for me."
Take a trip to southern Italy with this unisex June launch, Orange Soleia. The aroma of freshly picked oranges, wood, and mint, will transport you to a vacation paradise.
"If you think about freshness and cleanness, there is no need to differentiate women and men," Kurkdijan says. "As it is a genderless concept and this is why my fragrance Aqua Universalis suits anyone."
Bergamot, green ivy, and musk, set this fragrance apart from the others. Gently adhering to body and fabric, the scent lingers all day long without an overwhelming aroma.
In a blend that the brand says "marries traditionally masculine and feminine notes," the aroma of rose, leather, and citrus is a scent that caters to any preference.
This soulful scent boasts notes of patchouli, juniper berries, and musk, making it the ideal date night fragrance or for a day you desire a heavier aroma.
Sometimes, you just need a lightweight fragrance that quickly spray to take on the day, this is it. With lemon, neroli, and musk, this airy aroma is a dreamy daily scent.
Soft yet masculine, this blend of sandalwood and iris brings new meaning to smokey aromas.