We’re in a new age – one in which Donald Trump and his ultra-conservative cabinet are determining the new American way. I’ve never been much of a fan of the power structure. I get why they exist, but don’t necessarily enjoy people whose life goal is to rule over other people.
Still, I’m a capitalist and entrepreneur, freelance contractor and one of the most free men you’ve ever met.
In a push to move past technology and business and cater to a broader audience, I started seeking out the best styles, scents, tastes, and sounds to look out for in 2017. Although it turns out some of these industries are a bit tougher to crack than technology.
Understanding the Scent Industry
The scent industry is one I’ve always been fascinated with, even more so since reading The Emperor of Scent, Chandler Burr’s book about biophysicist and scent specialist Luca Turin, who can describe scents perfectly and even has a great theory for how we perceive them, called the vibration theory of olfaction.
Turin is to smell what Neil DeGrasse Tyson is to astrophysics.
After reading the book, I got a part-time job at Ross as a security guard. I was in charge of locking up and securing the perfumes and colognes before they hit the floor, and I’d often try to smell the scents through the box, learning what I could about how they worked.
Over the holidays, I sent out feelers to PR and marketing companies for the best scents of 2017. I was able to get a hold of Nicole Williams, the resident beauty expert at FragranceX, an online perfume and cologne discounter, who sent me their top-selling men’s and women’s brands to check out.
FragranceX also has a YouTube channel, walking viewers through each scent. It helps figure out which scent is right, and I’ve found her information useful in researching each scent.
How to Smell Colognes and Perfumes
We’ve all gotten samples of perfumes or seen tester bottles somewhere. They can often be overpowering, and some of the samples I was sent leaked in shipping, making me smell like an old whore.
There are 3 stages of a perfume – the initial overtones upon first spray, how it smells mixing with your body chemistry, and the undertones that linger for hours after the spray. They’re sometimes known as top, mid, and dry (and even more terminology), but you get the general idea.
It’s important to understand all three stages, or you’ll end up smelling horribly by not knowing how the undertones will come out or any smells appear on your skin.
Sephora is one of many brick and mortar brands that can help you understand scents and find the right fragrances for you. We simply focused on what we could get our hands on from what’s available. Here’s what we found.
Dylan Blue by Versace
Versace Dylan Blue is a great warm-weather scent that’s often described as fresh, citrusy, and spicy. Launched in July 2016, it’s a part of Versace’s Pour Homme collection, which includes releases in 2008 and 2013.
Here’s Justin’s video review at FrangranceX:
The bottle is a beautiful royal blue with clean lines and gold accents. It makes for a beautiful glass piece for a collection.
As promised, the cologne is bright and almost peppery when you first spritz it, though these strong overtones quickly fade after less than an hour. What you’re left with is a pleasant floral scent that’s not too overpowering.
Gentleman by Oscar de la Renta
Oscar de la Renta Gentleman cologne again has a unique bottle that alone is worth the sticker price. Also citrusy, Gentleman is balanced with a woody scent similar to cedar and bergamot that fades into floral tea scents.
What makes it more than just your average cologne is the subtle hints of champagne, cardamom, rosemary, and amber that appear throughout the lifespan. It’s a very masculine scent that will be especially appreciated for the bottle.
Both the box and bottle are in the shape of a domino that are sure to visually appease long after the bottle is emptied.
Dark Rebel Rider by John Varvatos
Like the name and general branding would suggest – John Varvatos Dark Rebel Rider cologne is made for those bad boys who want to smell tall, dark, and dangerous.
Cacao, vanilla, black violet, and saffron highlight the rustic scents of balsam, patchouli, russian leather, resin, and bitter orange. Overall, it’s a scent for the urban tough guy who doesn’t flinch in cold weather.
Here’s Justin’s video review of Dark Rebel, a related smell from the brand.
Regardless of which bottle you get, Varvatos clearly knows aesthetic. These black bottles with different dressings around them make the perfect gift for the bad boy in your life.
Empire by Trump
Created in 2015 just prior to hitting the campaign trail, Empire by Trump is now destined to be a collector’s item because he’s the President of the United States. Obama had a health plan – Trump has a branded cologne, and it’s not the worst possible scent.
Although orange in color, Trump smells a bit minty and fruity, with a musky undertone and the occasional hint of flowers thrown in the mix. One can only assume this is perfume residue from one of his forced sexual escapades.
The bottle, however, is nowhere near as unique, elegant, or luxurious as you’d think from the boisterous billionaire. Like Krusty the Klown, he’ll clearly put his name on anything.
Orchid Soleil by Tom Ford
Designer Tom Ford released Orchid Soleil in late 2016 as part of his signature collection which includes Black Orchid and Velvet Orchid. As you can imagine from the branding, Orchid Soleil is more of a daytime, warm-weather scent than its brethren.
Here’s Nicole at FragranceX with a review of Soleil’s night-time companion, Velvet Orchid.
Bitter orange, pink pepper, cypress, spider lily, vanilla, and chestnut cream are all present, making for a sexy and seductive scent that would be hard for any man to resist. It has a light body and undertone with light florals that are only slightly dirtied by the musk of patchouli.
Like the rest of Tom Ford’s signature collection, Orchid Soleil comes in a textured, metallic bottle that belies the elegance contained within.
Jardins du Midi by Chloe + Isabel
A bit older than others on this list, Chloe + Isabel Jardins du Midi was created in 2014, but it’s still a popular scent today. That’s because of the light, floral, and citrusy scent that’s perfect for smelling like the sweetest person ever.
Most scents on this list are coming from fashion houses (or the White House for some reason), but Chloe + Isabel is a popular jewelry brand that managed its way to a classic scent.
The bottle is clean and classically styled, inspired by old-fashioned perfume bottles. It even resembles a crystal whiskey decanter.
Purple Butterfly by Hanae Mori
The first Japanese woman to be admitted as an official hate couture design house in Franch, Hanae Mori is also an expert perfumer, releasing some of the most popular scents on the market.
Purple Butterfly is a limited edition fragrance for women that, like the rest of the designer’s women’s scent collection, has the perfect balance of sweet and floral. It’s the first in the Butterfly collection with scents of iris, violet, rose, and both woody and powdery notes.
Of all the designer perfume and cologne bottles, Purple Butterfly is one of my favorites. It has a certain elegance and incorporates lace and the purple color in a beautiful presentation.
This is Her! by Zadig & Voltaire
Zadig & Voltaire’s This is HER! is the French fashion house’s September 2016 release that brings a dash of elegance and simplicity to perfume. Artistic director Cecilia Bonstrom sought to create a balance between clean and something darker.
This is her has notes of jasmine, pink pepper, sandalwood, vanilla, and milky chestnut cream. It’s rich and heady, providing both comfort and a sense of adventure, and easily my favorite women’s scent I came across.
The bottle is beautiful as well, with the look of a healing crystal. It’s jagged, yet smooth, polished, and modern. Zadig & Voltaire’s This Is Her! and This Is Him! should be in everyone’s scent collection.
Of course, not everyone is into the idea of paying exorbitant prices for colognes and perfumes that use ingredients like whale vomit. Some people prefer single-ingredient scents found in essential oils, that can be used in home or as pulse-point perfumes as necessary.
They can also be incorporated into your own products, so we contacted a few of those companies as well.
Essential Oils by Young Living
Young Living sells therapeutic-grade essential oils in both pure form and mixed into a variety of products. Their shaving creams smell especially great.
The essential oils sampler kit YL sent in includes Frankinsence, Peppermint, Lemon, Lavender, Panaway, and Tea Tree essential oils, along with blends for Joy, Stress, Purification, and Thieves oil.
Essential Oils by Eden’s Garden
Like Young Living, Eden’s Garden provides 100% pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils both alone and mixed into a variety of products. The roll-ons pictured above make it simple to apply controlled amounts of oils to your skin without overdoing it.
They work much like a ballpoint pen, with a metal ball that spins and applies the liquid inside the bottle to the surface you apply it to.
Best Scented Body Wash: Grooming Lounge’s Our Best Smeller
We got a lot of body washes and soaps in while searching for the best smells. The one that stood out from the pack was Our Best Smeller from the Grooming Lounge. This bold, spicy scent is powered by black pepper and leaves your skin with a unique and earthy scent.
Coming out the shower with Our Best Smeller, you’ll have a great base to add any spray scent to. You’ll also have fresh, clean, moisturized skin.
Best Scented Lotion: Exploring Wonderland Body Lotion by Sabon NYC
Sabon NYC has been creating and selling bath and body products since the mid 90s and understands how to make great products. Exploring Wonderland is the line I fell in love with, mostly due to the amazing body lotion.
Enriched with olive and avocado for natural moisturizing, the scent is fresh and lightly floral, with a hint of sweetness. Most importantly, the lotion itself works incredibly well and isn’t just a vessel for the scented ingredients.
Best Scented Shampoo and Conditioner: Nourish and Balance by Josh Rosebrook
I know these small bottles are expensive ($30 for 8 oz), but there’s a reason Josh Rosebrook products are used by Olivia Wilde, Mila Kunis, and a slew of Hollywood celebrities. Every ingredient in these all-plant products is either 100% organic, certified organic, or wild-crafted and include cannabis sativa oil, so you know I’m a fan too.
Aloe, coconut oil, and more round out the lists and both smell amazing. Nourish is a bit more bright and citrusy, due to the prominence of orange oil over rosemary. Balance smells like roses first, with smaller hints of orange.
Because only fresh, natural ingredients are used, both shampoos and conditioners leave your hair soft and smelling amazing – the perfect way to cap off your descent into olfactory senses.