I’m decidedly pro-fragrance for Father’s Day, since every man I know likes to smell nice but few dads feel wholly justified in treating themselves to something lovely for the job. A beautiful scent is a thoughtful gift, simultaneously decadent and useful, and (deliberately in the case of these that follow) pretty accessible via department stores if you’ve left it to the last minute.
Let’s kick off with Dior Homme Original, £59 for 50ml (distinct from the 2020 reformulation, confusingly named Dior Homme, which – lovely and wearable though it is – is less remarkable). Here we have one of my favourite notes – iris – powdery and soft but rooty and earthy rather than “floral” in the pedestrian sense, with plenty of woody notes and a dollop of apple sauce. If that sounds off-message for a men’s fragrance, it’s because it is, and very deliberately so; its launch came with the ambitious agenda of redefining olfactory masculinity. In reality, however, Dior Homme was less a spearhead, more a lone wolf. It remains interesting, warm, unobnoxious and appropriate in any setting.
Similarly well mannered is Terre d’Hermès Eau Givrée (£71, 50ml). This is Hermès’s new “flanker” (the perfume world’s not always complimentary term for a spin-off of a wildly successful original, in this case, Terre d’Hermès) but, as is typical of the house, proper thought, care and respect has gone in to making this good. This is brighter, with fizzy lemons and cool, sharp green herbs, mulched on pale, earthy woods. Nothing can hold a candle to the original (the signature scent of him indoors and, as luck would have it, my all time favourite fragrance for men), but Eau Givrée is a very lovely way to ring the changes – especially in warmer weather, where it feels like the olfactory equivalent of a tall, icy gin and tonic. It’s refillable, too.
I must finally give a nod to Penhaligon’s The World According to Arthur (£210 but large, at 75ml), a fragrance that sparked my curiosity because it shares a name with my perfume-loving youngest son, but held my interest because it’s actually rather great.
This eau de toilette offers an entirely different vibe to those above: musky, mysterious and smoky but unusually for a fragrance of its type (incensey vanilla), it’s modest and low key rather than airlessly intense. If we are to draw from cultural stereotype, this is your strong and silent type – think Gregory Peck or Denzel Washington – and is a generous (engravable) gift for a very special dad.