Talk Off | Cologne
December 5, 2007
Talk Off is a recurring forum for two of our opinionated editors to challenge each other’s taste. In this installment, the debaters tackle men’s fragrances.
The Topic: Cologne
The Debaters: Bruce Pask, Men’s Fashion Director (affirmative), Alex Hawgood, Features Associate (negative)
The Winner: See below…
Bruce: I’m for men’s cologne as an enhancement, not a smell disguiser.
Alex: Really? Scent is so personal—why you would want to smell of a prepackaged odor?
Bruce: It should always be a light touch — the final step in a very low maintenance grooming regimen. It’s about taking pride in one’s appearance/presentation. But it is not to overwhelm!
Alex: One should always smell natural. Cologne always seems to overwhelm, no matter how lightly it is applied.
Bruce: I don’t agree! One shouldn’t detect a note of the fragrance unless one is close. I think that adds a bit of sexiness and intimacy.
Alex: The photographer Nick Knight did a limited-edition fragrance called “Violence” that was exceptional. The olfactory experience was described as “two Skinheads fighting.” It smelled like boot-polish, sweat, and blood. That sort of original scent I can get behind….
Bruce: Yeah. I’m not advocating that guys wear White Orchids perfume. Scents for men should either be clean/crisp/classic (like Acqua Di Parma) or slightly musky/spicy (like Comme des Garçons Man 2). I’m not for florals on a man. Well, not scent-wise at least.
Alex: Give me a break. Acqua di Parma is obvious. Why would you want to smell like every other Barneys-shopping guy out there?
Bruce: Well, in this global economy, unless you’re buying an über-expensive personally concocted scent or wearing one of Tom Ford’s ultra-expensive (yet pretty delicious) ones, it is inevitable that your fragrance will be available in many places. Also, I should point out that fragrance reacts differently and smells different on each person.
Alex: Come on, Bruce. Personally, I think something is spoiled when you know a person’s wonderful smell comes from a bedazzled bottle that’s been marketed through absurdist television spots, a free-with-purchase banana hammock, and spun off into an ancillary line of bath beads. But, I admit, unconventional scents are intriguing. Tom Ford has one called “Tuscan Leather” that really just smells like a meth-lab. Or how I imagine a meth lab to smell…. In a good way.
Bruce: There are plenty of scents out there to make one’s own. (But probably not Abercrombie & Fitch’s Fierce.)
Alex: If you can make your scent your own — stray from the Acqua di Gio/Acqua di Parma path by combining fragrances or choosing something really obscure — I might unplug my nose. Otherwise, you just smell like the September issue of Esquire.
Bruce: Acqua di Parma is a fine scent and shouldn’t be blasphemed! I mean, I wear a fragrance everyday, and you don’t smell me in the elevator everyday now do you?
Alex: OK, that I’ll concede.
Winner: You decide! Vote here. Polls close on Friday at noon.