Skip the musk: unlikely as it sounds, lavender is one of the top fragrance notes for men right now. At the heart of this resurgence is lavender’s effect of fresh herbaceousness: its fragrance is clean and fresh, without being too floral. Rub a sprig of lavender with your fingertips and inhale. Initially, the impression is green, resinous, something between salty pine needles and spicy Herbes de Provence. Yet, almost immediately, one can notice a warm, sweet note reminiscent of candied almonds and vanilla. These contrasts ensure that lavender lends itself to many interesting combinations and effects.
In fact, lavender was the main ingredient in the very first fragrance made specifically for men – Ernest Daltroff’s Pour un Homme de Caron, created in 1934. Even today, it evokes images of driving along the Côte d’Azur in an open‑topped sports car during the glory days. Little wonder then, that lavender is showing up in an increasing number of contemporary men’s perfumes, from Gucci’s Guilty Black to James Bond 007, where it is the top-note ingredient rather than a subsidiary player.
The feel of salt in the hair, sea spray on sun-warmed bodies and the sleek, dynamic beauty of extreme sailing boats… Prada’s Luna Rossa projects both strength and sophistication in equal measures. Inspired by Prada CEO Patrizio Bertelli’s ardent love of sailing – it is named after his boat, which competes in the America’s Cup – this fragrance plays on lavender’s zest by pairing it with bitter freshness of orange essence, resulting in an invigorating scent. $69 for 50ml
Caldey Island Lavender
If you are looking for a pure and clear lavender without the muddling of other scents then this fragrance, which is made by the Cistercian monks of Caldey Island, could be your perfect option. It has an unsullied lavender top note with a musk underscore, which brings to mind rows of lavender flowers growing in the garden. And it’s soft enough to be splashed around like a cologne for summer and early spring evenings. £16 for 55ml
Creed Royal Scottish Lavender
If you are looking for a spicier fragrance, try this one. Even though it was first created almost a century ago, Royal Scottish Lavender has a cool and creamy Provençal tang far removed from the lavender of the dowager’s underwear drawer. The top notes introduce one of the most natural and calming notes of lavender along with citruses and bergamot, laid on a base of vanilla, sandalwood and spices – perfect for lords (and ladies). $175 for 75ml
Tom Ford Lavender Palm
Lavender Palm is Tom Ford’s seductive take on the free-spirited ethos and chic elegance that defines California. There are two varieties of lavender in this blend, revealing the flower’s full spectrum – the roasted almond sweetness, the floral softness and the aromatic intensity. It’s like rolling in a field of lavender, indulging in the relaxing scent of the blooms, while also enjoying the herby green essence of the whole plant. The notes are framed with a bright citrus that’s layered with a moist palm leaf accord, clary sage, sensual woods and smooth tonka bean to evoke warm skin, sea breeze and crushed leaves. $249 for 50ml
A Taste of Heaven By Kilian
A Taste of Heaven is richer, darker and warmer than any other lavender fragrance I’ve tried and whilst there are lots of different notes within the composition, the lavender never gets lost. In fact, each of the other notes plays on the many facets of lavender and allows it to stay the centre of attention. The overall effect is richly nuanced, with a delicious interplay of salty darkness and grassy sweetness – like warm, honeyed caramel layered with burnt sugar. It borders on gourmand, with all of its teasing and beguiling sensations. However, the surprising chypre base and earthy notes of patchouli and oak prevent it from becoming overly sweet by adding a dry darkness that brings to mind a fine, full bodied wine drunk on an open veranda, with scents of thyme, wild fennel and the sea hanging in the warm evening air. $235 for 50ml
Serge Lutens Gris Clair…
Gris Clair… is as cold and dry as lavender can be. There are no sweet notes, no embellishments, no oriental tendencies. It is austere and ascetic, cold and remote: open air that has remnants of yesterday’s smoke in it, a lavender field after harvest, flowers that are untouched by the sun. Icy lavender pervades the entire composition, saturated with smoky whispers, while a dry note of burned wood, like an aroma of dying bonfire, adds richness to the gentle simplicity of the composition. It is strange, unearthly, entirely unlike any other lavender scent I’ve ever smelled. And it’s the scent I steal from Mr. TBG’s wardrobe on a hot and humid summer day. $85 for 50ml