Do perfumes have a gender? DOPEPLUS.COM

Do perfumes have a gender?

In France, over a century ago, when a child asked an adult how babies are created, they were sometimes told that baby girls were born in roses and baby boys in cabbages.
For a long time, perfumery has remained in this conservative state as well: feminine fragrances being born in flowers while masculine fragrances are born in fern.


When you enter a beauty store or perfume shop, you’ll find the feminine and masculine fragrances are organized separately. However, the separation between male and female perfumes is only a matter of stereotypes. Let’s go back to our flowers and fern.


Floral fragrances are mainly feminine (shocking, we know). And fern? Unlike what you may assume, men’s perfumes don’t actually smell like fern. In actuality, ferns smell actually nothing, or almost nothing. Indeed, one should say “fougère”, the French word for fern.


The story of “Fougère” men’s fragrances is a little more complex. A talented Mr. Houbigant created in the 19th century a men’s fragrance that he named Fougère Royale.This perfume, combining for the first time patchouli, geranium, oakmoss with aromatic notes like lavender, was very recognizable, very new– even revolutionary. This accord has become a staple of men’s fragrances, much like a suit for men’s clothing. It’s simple: when you smell it, “it smells like man”. Even today, more than half of men’s fragrances are derived from this “Fougère” accord.


Since, for years, perfumery has built masculine and feminine perfumes, breaking free from this categorization was an unimaginable transgression.


CK one, a Calvin Klein’s perfume, became a huge success of the 90s, and was the first fragrance to be successfully claimed as unisex. A smooth revolution unfolded, as the smell was clean, neutral, and avoided using materials too connoted as masculine (aromatic notes) or feminine (floral notes). In addition, niche perfumery has progressively shaken this up since around twenty years ago. By often highlighting one or more raw materials (like sandalwood, rose, or jasmine), treated without the classic masculine and feminine writing codes, niche perfumery has continued the process of liberating fragrances from masculine and feminine clichés.


However, things still keep moving. It’s now time to play without restrictions with these so-called masculine or feminine smells.


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