10 of the best men’s fragrances of 2021

Looking for a new fragrance for yourself or want to gift someone something grown up and sophisticated but not sure what to opt for? Here 10 new launches that caught my eye  – and impressed my nose –  in 2021. 

Illustrations: The Shaman’s Horse

Louis Vuitton Imagination 

I’ve worn this new men’s fragrance from Louis Vuitton off and on all year and part of the reason for that lies in the fact that it’s such an easy fragrance to wear and is suitable for pretty much any situation.

Initially sharp, citrusy and soapy, the key note here is sweet, slightly musky Ambrox which, after the initial citrus burst has burnt itself out, provides a lingering velvety finish that’s sensual but subtle and oddly calming too. For me, though, it’s the distinctive black tea note that gives this fragrance much of its character.

At £200 a pop there’s bound to be debate as to whether Louis Vuitton fragrances are worth the outlay but don’t knock them until you’ve given them a go. This particular one is lovely.

Loewe 7 Cobalt 

I love Loewe’s fragrances. They’re complex, intriguing, beautifully packaged and reasonably priced given their niche, artisanal status.  Cobalt, part of the Loewe 7 series, which takes inspiration from ‘the furthest reaches of outer space’, crash landed this year, leaving a big old crater in my own olfactory consciousness. 

Fresh, spicy, delicately fruity and woody, with notes of blackcurrant, incense, clove and sage, it’s delightfully minimalist on the skin and quirky and understated in the way a Comme des Garçons fragrance might be. More a daytime fragrance than a sexy evening scent it’s perfect for work, travel or après gym. The simple slimline bottle is a winner too.

Bamford Woodland Moss

Although touted as a woody fragrance, this delightfully piquant eau de parfum from British brand Bamford has an intriguing, aromatic, almost medicinal vibe I find oddly addictive. (I’m repeatedly smelling my inner arm, where I applied, it as I write.)

There’s bergamot, patchouli, sage, angelica, sandalwood and a delicate hint of rose in there which fuse together to creature something with a decidedly old school, gentlemanly elegance and for me there’s a touch of a classic fougère hiding in there somewhere too. It’s one of my favourite launches this year and uses natural fragrance and 80% organic alcohol too. 

Creed Viking Cologne

It’s rare than a spin-off of anything is better than the original but for me this version of Creed’s Viking definitely outshines the original – possibly because it’s so different from it (Viking isn’t my favourite Creed creation if I’m honest). Viking Cologne is certainly more versatile and reflects the venerable fragrance house’s increasingly commercial trajectory. 

It opens with a huge – a really huge – hit of lemon but that’s quickly replaced by an aromatic spiciness reminiscent of many of today’s more mainstream designer fragrances. 

There’s a very ‘traditionally masculine’, barbershop-y vibe to this punchy fougère which makes it feel a little out of time, given the gender neutrality of most of the fragrances on this list, but that’s more an observation than a criticism. Not Valhalla-level fabulous, perhaps, but pretty good all the same.

Kilian L’Heure Verte

As someone with a penchant for Absinthe and a love of liquorice I guess I was always going to love this quirky addition to Kilian’s boozy Liquors collection. Absinthe is the top note (and authentically aniseedy it is too), liquorice is at its heart, while violet leaf adds a lovely crisp greenness. Patchouli – along with a host of woody base notes – meanwhile, give it a warm, long-lasting grounding.

Vetiver fans (and I’m one of them) will love how it finishes too. It’ll be out of a lot of people’s comfort zone, for sure, but if you you’re after something a bit different and unexpected you’ll love it. I do wish they’d made the juice bright Absinthe green though!

Sunspel Neroli Sun

I wasn’t sure whether Sunspel’s sophomore fragrance launch would be able to match the impressive debut that was Oak Wood but if anything, it surpasses it. Delightfully fresh and citrussy, it shares DNA with fragrances like Tom Ford’s sublime Neroli Portofino and Czech & Speake’s beautiful Neroli, but for me is a little more rounded and has a little more depth, allowing it to work just as well at night as during the day. 

The work of perfumer Lyn Harris (of Miller Harris fame), this fusion of citrus fruits, aromatic herbs and musky, green angelica, patchouli and vetiver was never going to be a dud and like Sunspel clothing, wearing it automatically makes you feel good and comfortable in your own skin. A bottle has been on my desk throughout 2021, offering a perfect olfactory uplift when times were grim.

Diptyque Eau Rihla

When talking about grown up fragrances it’s hard not to talk about Diptyque. (The complex and superbly monastical L’eau Trois is one of my all-time favourite winter scents.) Their latest creation, Eau Rihla (Rihla means ‘journey’ in Arabic) was originally available exclusively in the Middle East but whilst it has the strength and opulence of the kind fragrance popular in that part of the world it’s also perfect for, well, just about anyone who likes warm, heavy scents.

It’s especially good for those who love leathery fragrances because leather is what this number is all about (the leather accord used was specially developed for Diptyque). Reminiscent of Tom Ford’s much loved Tuscan Leather, it’s woody, powdery and thanks to the addition of a little musk, sexy as hell too.  This is your evening fragrance.

Miller Harris Rêverie de Bergamote

I wrote a guest post about why Miller Harris fragrances make great gift ideas for men on their website this year and included this aromatic, unisex, woody citrusy fragrance as it has only recently launched. 

Although the name and bright yellow bottle suggest it’s a citrus big hitter it’s actually far more practical than a straight-forward summer cologne thanks to the fact that the citrus fruits and aromatic herbs are bolstered by sandalwood, patchouli, leather and vetiver. 

In the same way a bright summer day morphs into something quite different once sun goes down, this new fragrance for 2021 takes on a whole new life after a few hours on the akin. The zingy, slightly bitter opening retreats like a sunset and an altogether greener, creamier, woodier vibe emerges showing it’s a scent of two sides and one of considerable versatility. 

Moncler Pour Homme

How do you create a splash when you’re a luxury brand launching your first fragrance?  Well, you could do what Moncler did and launch it in a bottle that features an LED screen that displays personalised messages you create with the help of an app for your phone. 

There’s a rather amusing disclaimer about using offensive messages and expletives which I’m sure the more prurient amongst us – me included – will ignore, but even if you keep it clean it’s great fun and it’s surely only a matter of time before someone uses it to propose. 

And the fragrance? Woody, aromatic and piney, it’s outdoorsy and more of a crowd pleaser than one might have expected, though Interparfum – the fragrance company who created it – are masters at creating uber-commercial best-sellers. Yes, the LED version is pricey but it is refillable and the novelty of the LED makes it perfect for gifting, combining as it does fragrance and geeky gadget.  A fragrance bottle will never give you as much fun that’s for sure.

Frederic Malle Synthetic Jungle

An homage to cult perfumes of the Seventies, perfumer Anne Flipo’s redefines what it means for a fragrance to smell ‘green’ with this melange of natural and synthetic notes. A unisex modern chypre, it’s (very) verdant and rhubarb-y at the top, floral at the heart and faintly earthy at the base thanks to basil, galbanum, hyacinth, lily of the valley, jasmine and ylang ylang, oakmoss and patchouli. A faint – and fleeting – whiff of balloons (or maybe that’s just me) gives it a wonderfully quirky, synthetic modernity. It’s intriguing and challenging rather than sexy and like many fragrances under the Malle umbrella will be polarising. Frankly, for that alone, I love it.   

[Complimentary press samples of all of the products featured here were provided for review purposes]

10 last-minute grooming gifts for Father’s Day

Don’t know what to get your dad for Father’s Day this year? Well, here are 10 bulletproof grooming gifts he’s bound to like. 

Edwin Jagger 3ONE6 Stainless Steel Safety Razor, £83. Trad and yet uber-modern thanks to the colours (there are 10 different ones to choose from) this safety razor is great for eco-aware dads as it says goodbye to plastic. edwinjagger.co.uk 

Aesop Adventurer Roll-Up, £45. A super stylish collab with Christopher Raeburn this roll-up pouch features pocket-sized hand essentials including a cleansing gel, evaporative mist and hydrating balm. Perfect pandemic protection for papas. aesop.com

BaByliss Super-X Metal Series Nose, Ear and Eyebrow Trimmer, £25. It might not be the most glamorous gift but it’ll certainly be the most useful one your old man will ever have and is the best quality trimmer I’ve ever tried. BaByliss.co.uk 

Miller Harris La Fueille Eau De Parfum, £160 for 100ml. I wrote about this for the Miller Harris website recently and totally fell in love with it its green, horticultural heart notes of ivy, tomato leaf and fig. Perfect for keen gardeners.

Bolin Webb 10th Year Anniversary ‘Racing Green’ Razor with stand, £90. British, award-winning, stylish AF. What’s not to love? bolinwebb.com

Eco Warrior Total Works Gift Pack, £27. As the name suggests, this six bar soap pack from the Little Soap Company has everything a dad into ethical grooming might need. littlesoapcompany.co.uk

Halston Z-14. Like your dad, Halston’s classic fragrance for men is an oldie but a goodie. I wrote about why it’s so good for Robb Report but let’s just say that truly great fragrances never go out of fashion. fragrancedirect.co.uk

Heath X Liam Mertens Washbag Set, £44. Exclusive to Anthropologie this trio of skincare essentials from one of my favourite grooming brands, Heath, comes with packaging designed by up-and-coming artist Liam Mertens and is housed in a cool vegan leather washbag. anthropologie.com

Barber Pro Foot Peel, £7.95. Featuring a raft natural botanical extracts to remove dead, rough and unsightly skin, this is the perfect product for ensuing your father avoids any foot faults this summer. barberpro.com

Harry’s Shave With Pride Set, £28. Launched for Pride month this cool-looking shaving set, with its unique irridescent rainbow razor, not looks the biz – it helps raise money for LGBTQ+ youth too. Because not all dads are straight right? harrys.com

[Press samples of some, but not all, of the products listed here were provided for review purposes]