Frederic Malle is the original niche fragrance brand. Malle himself is more collaborator than perfumer. For his Editions de Parfums line, he seeks out the world’s best noses and encourages them to join him in ignoring the focus groups and creating something they themselves love. Over the last 20 years, the range has slowly grown to accommodate unique scents in every family from floral to fougère.
Best For Autumn/Winter: Bigarade Concentree’s opening hit of bitter orange raises the spirits on cooler mornings.
Ben Gorham was a basketball player who made an unexpected leap into fragrances. Since he founded Byredo in the mid-noughties, the Stockholm-based brand has perhaps done more than any other to move luxury scents from the old world into the new. The focus is tightly on personal memory and experience, and the results are always unique.
Best For AW: Wrapping you in smoke and leather, Tobacco Mandarin is big on old-school, after-hours appeal.
MAISON FRANCIS KURKDJIAN
Francis Kurkdjian made his name in the 90s, creating the decade-defining Le Male fragrance for Jean Paul Gaultier. He also spent time at Dior and Armani, but works for himself now, and continues to challenge conformity. His most recent creation is L’Homme À La Rose – rose, of course, being a rare choice for a men’s fragrance. Ingredients are key throughout and, now that he’s solo, Kurkdjian will use only the finest essential oils.
Best For AW: Masculine Pluriel is a more traditionally male fougère that’s warming and easy to wear.
DS & DURGA
The husband-and-wife duo of DS & Durga are an architect and musician by training, which is perhaps how they’ve been able to ignore all the rules and redefine what a fragrance can be. Working out of Brooklyn, they use scent to transport its wearer to lost or imagined worlds: SLMan favourite Cowboy Grass takes you to the old West; Amber Kiso is the essence of an ancient Japanese forest.
Best For AW: Mississippi Medicine is apparently inspired by a local 13th-century death cult. You just have to smell it – it’s earthy, manly and actually very wearable.
Over the last five years, this young French fragrance house has worked with a cast of celebrated perfumers to build a collection of scents that are sophisticated and sensual. With names like Absolute Aphrodisiac and Addictive Vibration, Initio has got one thing on the mind – and knows how to get it. Look for ritzy packaging and luxurious ingredients.
Best For AW: Oud For Greatness – patchouli and musk give it Initio’s trademark animalistic edge.
Family run Chantecaille is best known for its high-end natural skincare and cosmetics products. It makes only two fragrances for men, but it makes both of them count. Vetyver Cèdre captures modern, urban elegance with fresh, citrusy top notes that give way to a woody, floral warmth. That’d be our sporty pick for summer. For cooler months, there’s moody and mysterious Oud Fumé.
Best For AW: Smokey, woody Oud Fumé is rich, strong and gentlemanly.
A decade ago, Atelier made a splash when it first launched its ‘colognes absolues’, which deliver all the freshness of traditional citrus-y colognes but – thanks to much higher concentrations – they hang around a lot longer. Atelier was founded in New York, but all of its scents are developed at century-old perfume houses in Grasse on the French Riviera.
Best For AW: Cèdre Atlas blends Atelier’s signature citrus with cedarwood to create something that can stand up to colder days.
PARFUMS DE MARLY
Marly might have started only a decade ago, but it likes to trace a lineage all the way back to what founder Julien Sprecher considers the golden age – and place – of scents: 18th-century France. Marly shares a name with one of Louis XV’s chateaus and, with names like Pegasus and Godolphin, its classic men’s fragrances speak to his court’s obsession with horses.
Best For AW: Pegasus Exclusif is an update of Marly’s woody signature scent that launches in Harrods on 1st November.
Tom Daxon grew up trailing his mum, who worked for Molton Brown, around French perfume houses. Today, he’s got his own fragrance line that likes to keep things classic – just look at that bottle. The range now spans light, citrusy scents like Fuyu all the way up to rich, intoxicating numbers like VSOP, which is supposed to recreate the perfect setting for drinking cognac.
Best For AW: Iridium 71% is three-and-a-half times stronger than the original Iridium, adding layers of complexity to a clean, fresh, year-round classic.
This century, luxury Aussie brand Aesop has carefully built a mini portfolio of four scents. From the smoky rose of newly launched Rozu to the crisp citrus stylings of 2015’s Tacit – which swaps out oranges and lemons for Japanese yuzu – each one is thrillingly unusual.
Best For AW: Spicy, woody and exotic, Marrakech Intense takes you to the souks for some winter sun.
MAISON MARGIELA REPLICA
At The Barbers, Sailing Day, By The Fireplace – the scents in Maison Margiela’s Replica line are designed to capture the feel of very specific events, times and places. As the nights draw in, Whispers In The Library is warm, woody and just a little bit spicy. But there can be only one winner…
Best For AW: Jazz Club. The bottle pinpoints Brooklyn 2013 and the scent takes you to the coolest nightspot in town. A modern masterpiece.
This is the newest name to know. Skandinavisk’s first three eau de toilettes launched in Selfridges just this month. Each one bottles the spirit of a northern journey: Kapitel 4 was inspired by sailing around Scandinavian islands; Kapitel 12 is about wandering on foot through highlands; Kapitel 17 captures the lushness of a spring forest.
Best For AW: Green and aromatic, Kapitel 12 is the easiest way to get out into the wilderness right now.
A mere 160 years after Sunspel started making chic basics for men, it’s turned its hand to fragrance. As a debut scent, Oak Wood is exactly what fans of the heritage English brand would expect: simple, essential and a little bit luxurious. We’re hoping there are more on the way.
Best For AW: Clean and modern, Oak Wood does exactly what it says on the tin.
Jusbox made it to London just a few short years ago, but has already built a cult following. For all of its scents, this Italian house finds inspiration in music. It even categorises its scent by musical genre: the excellent Beat Café is oriental, woody folk rock; new release Night Flow is fruity New York rap.
Best For AW: Black Powder channels the raw power and rebellious spirit of Nirvana. Moody but not miserable, it’s an indie belter with a warm heart of sandalwood, patchouli and tonka beans.
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