Matthew McConaughy is walking through a hotel in a slim-cut suit, slowly lowering his sunglasses and, for some reason, taking off his already-unbuttoned white shirt as a phalanx of paparazzi surround him, their flashbulbs going off like fireworks.
We can’t be in the same room with him (and would we really want to be?), but we can rest assured he smells as good as he looks.
Then there is Liam Hemsworth, who stands in a circle of stone tablets, looking slightly confused as various apparitions (a wolf, a woman who is decidedly not Miley Cyrus) jump out at him, ready to wear off his white T-shirt. He has to be sweating profusely, but odds are he doesn’t stink.
These are only two examples of popular TV commercials filmed to promote men’s fragrances (Dolce & Gabanna’s The One and Diesel’s Only The Brave, respectively), but I could go on. This is a well-established genre in which a ridiculously good-looking guy is depicted doing almost anything except, you know, actually putting on cologne.
While most of these clips are obviously aimed at the women who buy cologne for their men as gifts (or, in the case of the Paco Rabanne Invictus commercials, gay men shopping for themselves), they all seem even more out of step as we enter Fall 2020.
It’s not like most guys ever lived like the men in a cologne commercial, but wearing a fragrance today, if you bother at all, comes from a different place.
You’re not trying to feel like some kind of hero conquering the world. You’re treating yourself to the pleasure of smelling good because you can, and because you might be fortune enough to be spending your time indoors with someone who will appreciate your scent.
I honestly hadn’t thought about wearing cologne until I happened to find myself in a clothing store where, perched on a display just above some shoes, I found a set of boxes from Mixologie Men, a brand I’d never encountered before.
Based in Smithville, Tex., Mixologie offers a variety of fragrances for both sexes, but focuses on offering products that are alcohol-free and (unlike most brands) a roll-on that’s not unlike putting on deodorant.
I’ll be honest that I’d never applied a roll-on cologne before, but in many ways it felt more natural — more masculine — than spraying something in front of me and then walking into it as though I were a debutante sashaying into a cotillion or something.
There were three different Mixologie options for me to choose from: ‘Timeless and Torrid,” “Modern and Masculine” and “Seductive and Sophisticated” (all of which cost US$20 through the firm’s Shopify-powered site).
I tried them all, but left the final decision to the experts: my wife and my eight-year-old daughter. They were in complete agreement: “Seductive and Sophisticated” was the most compelling, based on a combination of “notes” Mixologie included that reminded me of how vintners create wines.
The “top notes” for Seductive and Sophisticated include Clove, Fresh Timber and Black Salt. This is followed by Patchouli, Rose and Tobacco Leaf, while the “base notes” are made up of Grey Amber, Vanilla, Musk, and Oud. (I had to look up the latter: Oud is apparently full of woody and balsamic scents).
I’m not going to pretend I actually recognized any of these particular details as I wore this fragrance. What I will tell you is that I liked Seductive And Sophisticated too, even if it made me feel more like the latter than the former. Perhaps more important, the fact that it was a roll on made it easier to feel like I had applied it without dousing myself.
Best of all, I can wear Mixologie without feeling like someone’s going to smell me and think I’m trying to be like one of those movie stars who becomes the spokesperson for a cologne to make some extra millions.
The pandemic has meant there will probably be less reason to put on cologne to impress people, because we’re probably not going to be going out as much. That doesn’t mean we have to go fragrance-free, however. It means wearing a scent can be more intentional, more private, more about the smell than the spokesperson. And for that, Mixologie is coming up with some great combinations.