But, was it really always like this? The short answer, according to perfumer Sue Phillips of The Scentarium, is She explains, “the trend towards different fragrances for men and women started in the US in the early ‘70s. In the ‘60s, the flower children wore musky and patchouli oils in an effort to “commune” with nature, but once the ‘70s rolled around, men wanted to smell ‘like men.’ This brought about the rise of bracing, refreshing, sporty scents. Around the same time, a trend towards woodsy, amber, and mossy fragrances for men had started in Cologne, Germany, and with it, the birth of the term “cologne.” Interestingly enough, this took particular hold in the US, while European men remained comfortable wearing a range of fragrances, including florals.” “Thankfully, the trends are changing now and more and more men are not really asking for cologne anymore. They actually use the word ‘perfume’,” explains Phillips. Now, those trends are changing and we’re seeing more and more men, particularly millennials, wearing formulations that are light and floral. And the reverse has proven true, too, as women want to wear deeper, woodsy fragrances that have traditionally been viewed as men’s fragrances.
Unisex fragrances have always existed, but there’s no doubt that the market is largely split into feminine and masculine scents. Feminine scents, like the classics Chanel No. 5 and Dior J’Adore, are typically light and floral. Masculine scents, like Terre d’Hermes and Thierry Mugler Homme, on the other hand, are woodsy, deeper, and longer lasting.