Men and Cologne: How to choose and wear what works yet uncommon

Cologne for men. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Some men seem to have mastered the art of buying good colognes. Patrick Gatembo, a Kenyan working abroad, says he has learnt to distinguish the notes and prefers subtle scents that are not overbearing but able to withstand the hot regions.

He currently wears Chanel’s Bleu De Chanel (Eau de Parfum) and Paco Rabanne XS (Eau De Toilette).

He opts to stick to tried and trusted fragrances but recently started exploring artisanal fragrances like Royal Oud by Oud Attar.

Mr Patrick Gatembo. PHOTO | COURTESY

 He confesses it is the best he has worn because of its base notes that have sandalwood, musk and oud.

Another fragrance connoisseur is Alexander Baraka Furaha who works in the hospitality industry. Mr Furaha says his role involves interacting with people every day and therefore he takes grooming and first impressions very seriously.

The Eros Versace men's cologne. PHOTO | COURTESY

He shares his fragrance journey and offered interesting nuggets to help any man, or woman, make sense of scents.

When did your fragrance journey start and what inspired it?

I started wearing fragrances in 2001. I inherited a bottle of Eternity for Men by Calvin Klein from my late father and kept it for special occasions. I used it for two years and I had to save up for almost a whole year to replace it. To this day, I retain each bottle I purchase, it is nostalgic.

What is your signature scent?

My signature scent is Dēclaration d’un Soir by Cartier which I discovered in 2020 through a YouTube review.  I was looking for something classy, subtle, versatile, and unique. But I am open-minded when it comes to fragrances, and I wear a bit of every genre. My most preferable fragrance notes are patchouli and vetiver.

Do you think men in Kenya know much about fragrances?

Most Kenyan men unfortunately don’t go very deep into fragrances. They settle for the hyped, highly-advertised and no-brainer fragrances.

Men and women in their 30s mostly would fall into this group, with a few exceptions.

Many CEOs I have met play it safe with fragrances. For example, they settle for Bleu de Chanel (EDP) which is not a bad start but for just a little more money, one could experience more.

They don’t know much about fragrance notes, perfumery, versatility, and occasion.

They depend heavily on salespeople to make recommendations. This is risky as most young shop attendants may not have the experience or the depth of olfactory knowledge to offer advice.

What is the key difference between mass market and artisanal fragrances and where should one start?

Most people start with mass-market fragrances. After using and researching fragrances for years I have come to appreciate perfumers, their personality and what influences their craft. The depth, uniqueness, and art of perfumery go back hundreds of years.

Personally, in order of priority, I choose perfumers, followed by the brand and finally the accord. The accord is the creativity of playing with hard to combine ingredients to create a masterpiece.

Mass market fragrances are budget-friendly and crowd-pleasing scents for day-to-day use but do not offer true value for money. Artisanal fragrances are for connoisseurs or people who want to be expressive without saying a word. Because gentlemen do not say much, I think this covers each one.

Are there any fragrances more ideal for the temperate tropics in Kenya and Africa?

In Nairobi for example, I can wear heavier fragrances, and still be fine. I feel safer keeping more versatile fragrances when travelling within Kenya. I find fresh and citrus fragrances, which are mostly Eau de Toilettes, more suitable for hot weather but unfortunately, they don’t last very long.

I prefer light vetiver mixed with citrus notes ideal for warm humid weather and sweet dark, from the Oud category, for evenings or cooler weather.

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