The Film Buff’s Guide to Cologne

Scents, like movies, fall into genres. Here are the best of each.

Hollywood has spent the last century doing precisely the same thing as every man worth his vial: distilling the essence of American manhood. The result has been a proliferation of genres and masculine ideals that maps quite closely to the varieties of men’s scents. Know what movies you like? You’re halfway to knowing what cologne to buy. Find your favorite genre below and you’re good to go.

Westerns:D. S. & Durga Cowboy Grass

Pre-talkie epics, like The Covered Wagon and The Iron Horse, portrayed the loneliness and tribulations of the westward-bound explorers, and glorified old-timey bandits of the Wild West. Sagebrush and prairie switchgrass-infused Cowboy Grass conjures up visions of tumbleweeds and wide open plains, rather than those unwashed pioneers played by Hoot Gibson and Buck Jones. [$106 for 50ml;]

Horror:By Kilian Cruel Intentions

Boris Karloff and BelaLugosi basically owned the creature features of the thirties. Between the two of them, they haunted the public’s nightmares as The Mummy, Frankenstein, Dracula, and various other homicidal fiends. Simply the name of this fragrance, Cruel Intentions, suggests something nefarious is afoot; then its rich earthy aroma comes in with all that darkness and mystery. This is what a Transylvanian castle would smell like if the cleaning lady had her way. [$245 for 1.7 fl.oz.;]

Film Noir:Tom Ford Tobacco Oud

Early crime dramas revealed a shadowy underworld populated by tommy-gun loving gangsters, brooding private dicks, and femme fatales who used their wiles to corrupt said few good guys left. The sets were as hazy as the intentions and the atmospherics had everything to do with the most popular accessory of the era: cigarettes. Tobacco Oud gives off the aroma of those old-school fragrant, hand-rolled cigarettes, plus danger lurking around every dimly lit corner. [$215 for 50ml;]

Science Fiction:Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Universalis

The greatest threat to civilization in the fifties – at least according to Hollywood –  was invaders from outer space (a not-too-subtle metaphor for Soviets). With a mix of classic and campy offerings like The Day The Earth Stood Still, The Thing From Another World, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, Destination Moon, Invaders from Mars, It Came From Outer Space, The War of the Worlds, Forbidden Planet,and It! The Terror Beyond Space, it was clear aliens were coming to Earth and it was not to bring peace and love. Regardless, of their intentions, Aqua Universalis is universally appealing, as per the name, and comes in a monolithic-like metal case that looks like it could protect it on even intergalactic journeys. [$90 for three .37 fl. oz. bottles;]

Epics:Creed Aventus

Real and mythical heroes of ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, Egypt and the surrounding regions were remembered in sweeping epic movies. They rode horses across deserts, engaged in swordplay, and conquered foreign lands they have no right to. Aventus was actually inspired by an emperor who did much of the same in his lifetime and is pictured on the flask-like bottle astride his favorite steed. He gives off an aroma of fruits (fed to him by his harem, no doubt), patchouli, musk, and roses. [$290 for 2.5 fl. oz.,]

Action Movies:Giorgio Armani Acqua di Giò

Dudes kicked ass in the seventies and looked good doing it. Sean Connery’s James Bond, Clint Eastwood, and Steve McQueen barely broke a sweat as they engaged in hand-to-hand combat with various baddies. And they were rewarded by a slew of woman who practically begged to be bedded. AcquadiGio’s ultra masculine, take-no-prisoners scent has the same effect on women as a close scrape with a big-time baddie. [$65 for 1.7 fl. oz.;]

Slashers:Blood Concept The Black Series B Eau de Parfum

Scream queens took the throne in the eighties. These comely ladies’ full-throttled shrieks usually indicated that a homicidal maniac like Michael, Freddy, or Jason was not far behind. This killing crew was out for blood and they had the body count to prove it. These guys weren’t big on personal hygiene but they would probably go for Blood Concept’s Black Series O Type, inspired by the namesake bodily fluid, bondage, and darkness. [$160 for 60 ml;]

Teen Dramadies:ck One

You could always count on a few key plot-points in coming-of-age stories: one, a high school dance fraught with tension and possibly synchronized dancing, two, the Pygmalion like transformation by one of the female protagonists (she was pretty under those glasses!), and three, the unlikely couple (the nerd and the prom queen) would end up together. Oh, yeah, and most of them were probably doused in ck One. [$49 for 1.7 fl. oz.;]

Fantasies:Victorinox Swiss Army Forest

Big-budget, supernatural flicks have ruled our summer and holiday breaks since CGI took a giant leap forward at the turn of the century. Good always triumphed over evil and an enchanted forest was generally involved. It’s been bottled in this veritable call of the wild, which includes notes of wood moss, pine, cypress, and juniper. [$58 for 1.7 fl.oz.;]

Comic Book Blockbusters:Givenchy Gentleman Only Intense

Only the supernaturally strong survive in the unforgiving world of Gotham, Metropolis, outer space, etc. These guys might be wrestling with inner demons, a dark past, and conflicted feelings about their superhero status, but they’ll still save the day in the end. Gentleman Only Intense suggests a kind of chivalry that’s not entirely wholesome, like these guys. [$88 for 3.4 fl. oz.;

Photos by Everett Collection