Gender-neutral fragrances have been steadily growing in appeal over the years, ever since brands such as Comme des Garcons and Calvin Klein made their iconic unisex bottles in the mid-90s. Rather than sticking to the binary notion of feminine scents being floral and light, and masculine scents being spicy and woody (an idea that only truly emerged in the Victorian era), these days you’ll find there are no such rules. Perfumes in 2017 have become multifaceted as ever, with smoky ‘masculine’ notes lifted by light citrus or floral sweetness to create even more captivating scents. These fall fragrances will conjure up beguiling personalities suited for anyone who chooses them.
Cire Trudon may sound unfamiliar to Hongkongers, but the Parisian brand has been making candles for — as its name suggests — centuries. Finally, after 400 years, the house has decided to step into the world of personal fragrances. Maison Trudon has enlisted some of the world’s foremost perfumers to create its first collection. Five genderless perfumes are available for sale in Hong Kong, from the gunpowder smokiness of ‘Revolution’ to ‘Olim,’ the spiced up version of a classical oriental perfume with bergamot and lavender. Our favourite? The ‘II’ — created with purely green notes such as pine, juniper, cedar and more that refreshes anything it touches.
HK$1,900/100ml from Shhh, G/F 94 Hollywood Road, Central
Claiming to “blur the boundaries of feminine and masculine” and being both at once, this ambiguous fragrance by Guerlain is based on benzoin, a herbal tree resin that shares the faint warmth and sweetness of vanilla. It’s a fascinating, androgynous scent thanks to the floral, spicy and woody notes from soft pear and clove, rounded off with a base of dark leather, vanilla and white musk.
HK$1,490/50ml from L’Institut du Guerlain (flagship), 7/F, 1 Duddell Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2869 1552
Vetiver is a herbal extract commonly used in men’s colognes for its powerful woody and earthy tones. In Diptyque’s newest eau de parfum however, the plant is complemented by the citrusy and bitter notes of grapefruit, as well as warm patchouli, and a gentle floral note from Turkish rose. Using Haitian vetiver, a smokier variety thanks to its roots in volcanic soil, the complexity of this main ingredient shines through in an intense and addictive way.
HK$1,100/75ml from Diptyque, Shop 2410, Harbour City, 3 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 3188 9994
With a nod to Givenchy’s first patchouli-centred ‘Gentleman’ released in 1975, this 2017 fragrance hints at the modern-day dandy: strong yet sensitive, but completely self assured. At the heart of it is an unusual, unexpected floral quality from lavender and iris, bringing a sense of nobility from the powdery, sophisticated scent. Pear adds to the sweetness, before finishing off with the familiar patchouli-leather accord. It’s sensual, elegant, and in our opinion, definitely not just for gentlemen.
HK$565/50ml; HK$775/100ml from Givenchy, Lane Crawford, 3 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2115 9959
From velvet to glitter, the almost kitschy glamour of the bygone era of the 70s disco halls and 80s New Romantics appears to be making a strong comeback. With that comes even woozier, unrestrained scents to pair, including Velvet Haze by Byredo — the ultimate house of unisex fragrances. Patchouli reigns supreme here, with an unusual but wonderful melange of coconut and hibiscus, addictive ambrette, cacao pod and musk. It’s something that will definitely keep you smelling over and over again.
HK$980/50ml; HK$1,500/100ml from Byredo, Lane Crawford, Podium 3, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2118 2288
If you’ve been following Penhaligon’s extraordinary Portraits series — where each bottle takes after a different character in a fictional noble family — the latest extension of the storied fragrance series will have already been on your fall wish list. What’s most interesting about the Portaits fragrances is each character’s personalities and hidden secrets making each persona versatile for both men or women depending on who you identify with, nose- or story-wise. Our favourites are from Chapter III: The Uncompromising Sohan is a cunning businessman with the scent of spice and oud; and The Bewitching Yasmine is an exotic, feline temptress. Both are exotic, spicy scents and alluring for both men or women.
HK$2,300-2,400 from Penhaligon’s, Shop 3025A, Podium 3, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2359 3001
Historic French boutique apothecary Buly 1803 landed on Wyndham Street this year, bringing its storied water-based perfume with it. Named Eau Triple, it has three times the concentration of fragrance content to regular perfumes. It’s also gentle on hair and skin (great for those with sensitivity), and gives just one scent with no top, middle or base notes lasting the whole day. Buly 1803 derives its ingredients from where it’s most prized and perfected in the world, such as sandalwood from India, rose from Damask, and bergamot from Calabria, meaning certain perfumes are seasonal depending on availability of ingredients. With 12 perfumes in total, all that’s left is to choose from three categories: floral, fruity or oriental. Bestsellers so far have been Rose de Damas, Fleur d’Oranger de Berkane and Sumi Hinoki.
HK$1,350 from Officine Universelle Buly Hong Kong, 20 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2191 9005
If you’re looking for a unisex fragrance, most of Tom Ford’s most well known bottles are mainstays: from the sensual aftersun aroma of Soleil de Blanc to its Grey Vetiver, both popular to men and women alike. The scandalous 2017 release ‘Fucking Fabulous,’ made for men and women, is unfortunately not available in Hong Kong; but we also adore Sole di Positano, a 2017 release that bottles up the dreaminess of a sun-drenched Italian holiday with bright green florals such as Italian bergamot, bitter orange, ylang ylang and sandalwood. If you’d rather be sunning yourself poolside than face the dreary November weather ahead, this is your one-spritz escape.
HK$1,850/50ml; HK$2,530/100ml; HK$4,300/250ml from Tom Ford, Shop 37, G/F, Sogo, 555 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2831 8938