The thing about buying a man cologne as a holiday gift is that there’s really no true way to verify that the recipient will actually like it without, you know, giving the whole thing away. Which is why it’s so important to be as considerate as possible when you’re selecting a scent to wrap up for the holidays. Everything from his unique personality to where he might end up wearing the scent should bear on your decision.
Fortunately, some of our favorite grooming, fashion and fragrance houses are offering compelling new scents that can serve as the ideal final flourish in anyone’s grooming regimen. From Aesop’s unisex ode to roses to Chanel’s first-ever scent designed for men, you’ll find something that works for almost any guy you’re shopping for among the 12 options below.
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Part of what makes Aesop’s latest fragrance, Rozu, so appealing is that it’s a wearable reminder to stop and smell the roses. (The other part is that it was inspired by the work of legendary industrial designer Charlotte Perriand.) Designed to evoke the life cycle of its signature ingredient, the scent combines rose essential oil with shiso and guaiac wood. The additions make it complex, and not as floral as its name might suggest—and its smoky, heady nature makes it an ideal option for cooler months.
Ermengildo Zegna Essenze Roman Wood
Zegna’s fragrances are as adaptable as its covetable range of intelligently made menswear. Case in point, the Roman Wood fragrance from its Essenze line would feel at home with a suit on formal occasions but works just as well as a daily spray, especially in winter. It features pine, cyprus, sage and cedar alongside vanilla, bergamot and amber. The effect is something like an idealized walk through a forest—or perhaps the grounds of a well-maintained country estate—which makes it an ideal escapist gift for people who live in the city.
Yves Saint Laurent Y
If there’s a young guy on your wish list who’s just getting into fine fragrances, Yves Saint Laurent’s latest release, Y, will no doubt appeal to his sensibility. It’s an updated take on the fougere family of scents and was created to evoke the timeless sensibility of the black leather jacket and a crisp white shirt. Its appealing blend of bergamot, sage and vetiver might make the fragrance as indispensable as those wardrobe staples.
Aqua di Parma Note Di Colonia V
One of the most noteworthy additions to Acqua di Parma’s rapidly expanding fragrance family is Note di Colonia V. Its base is a blend of cedar and sandalwood, but its other notes read like a delicious, punchy salad dressing: Ginger, Calabrian lemon and pink pepper round out the mix. The combination is woody, warm and masculine, and because it’s an eau de cologne, it’s well suited for guys who don’t want their fragrances to project into adjoining rooms.
Krigler Villa America
If you know someone who’s going to miss the beach this winter, this would make an ideal gift. Villa America was inspired by the French Riviera home of legendary bon vivants Sara and Gerald Murphy, who entertained everyone from Dorothy Parker and Pablo Picasso to Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald there in the 1920s and ’30s. The scent is an homage to the area’s unique joining of wildflowers, sagebrush and ocean breezes.
Tom Ford Private Blend Costa Azzura
For some people, life really is a beach—and if you’ve got a guy on your list who loves being near the ocean, get him a bottle of Costa Azzura, a relatively young fragrance from Tom Ford’s Private Blend line. It was designed to evoke the scent of the Sardinian coast and features cypress oil, oakwood extract and driftwood accord. It’ll remind whoever you buy it for of their favorite place in the world—even if they’re not there.
Jo Malone x Huntsman Whiskey & Cedarwood
If you’re shopping for a guy who likes his fragrances on the spicier side, Whiskey & Cedarwood is your best bet. It’s part of a four-fragrance collaboration between the storied British fragrance house Jo Malone and the similarly acclaimed bespoke tailor Huntsman. It smells like its name, but it’s hard not to detect the scent of roses here, too. They all complement each other in a decidedly alluring way.
Celine Cologne Francaise
Fragrance houses and fashion brands used to drop one fragrance at a time and slowly let it grow into different permutations of a single mother scent. Not anymore. In 2019, a number of houses have dropped a bunch of scents all at once, but none with more fanfare than Celine. The French brand’s first-ever series of fragrances, which numbers nine in total, offers something for everyone, but our favorite is Cologne Francaise. Its blend of neroli, musk and tree moss is, well, very French.
19-69 Purple Haze
The music lover on your list will appreciate the story behind this scent—it was inspired by John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Bed-Ins for Peace—as much as they like how it smells. It’s a richly layered scent, complete with cannabis accord, balsam wood, bergamot, white musk and black pepper.
The English translation for sellier is saddlemaker. It’s a fitting name for this fragrance, which your favorite equestrian will undoubtedly appreciate. It’s heavy on leather, but the blend of black tea, birch and oakmoss offers a smoky, distinguished fragrance that captures the essence of a ride through the woods.
Creed New Aventus Cologne
Creed’s Aventus was undoubtedly the scent of the decade. It’s hard to walk around most major cities without smelling it on at least one young well-heeled gentleman. The scent’s little brother, Aventus Cologne, is a woody, fresh and much lighter take on the original. You don’t get the rich scent of pineapple as you do with the first one, but thanks to an artful blend of roses, sandalwood and birch, you might not miss it.
Chanel Pour Monsieur
Chanel’s first men’s scent—created 34 years after the debut of Chanel No. 5—is a classic expression of a chypre fragrance: something fresh and green. If you’re looking for a first spritz for a younger guy, this would make a good alternative to the YSL scent from earlier in the guide.