Rose and Cavalier About It
Boys, as you recover from a day spent in front of your 52-inch LCD watching instant replay and the consumption of much beer and questionable snack foods, hear me loud and clear: come the warmer days of late April and May, stand out and blend in. “Stand out” as in, I’m not taking 45-minutes to get dressed but I’m not ashamed to wear some color. Hopefully by now, if you have a decent-paying job and a social life, you know that you need a personal shopper at one of the better stores or, at least, a salesperson who can set things aside for you. Too many guys rely on their girlfriends or boyfriends to do this work for them, and quite honestly it just isn’t fair to either party. There’s too much invested. (In fact, industry-secret here, so listen up: if you show a salesperson you’re serious about looking good and you have a budget, they’ll take care of you. Truly, they will.)
Despite the fact that there is tremendous variety in Spring ’08 menswear, there are three things every man should have in his wardrobe for spring: a light grey or umber suit, a faded rose shirt and a scent with some rose in it. A crisp pink shirt under a navy blazer is classic, undying style; but, this season, a man can relax with the lighter colors and doesn’t have to run the risk of looking like a fop. That faded pink shirt can work with jeans, with shorts, with a khaki linen vest, and it doesn’t need to be discreetly hidden under a blazer... but the key to the look is not to iron it. You want it to absorb the light not reflect it. You want to say something like, I dress this way all the time. It’s easy.
I’m a firm believer that sex appeal derives from self-assurance. Think back to your sophomore English class and the character of Phineas in A Separate Peace. Neither a pink shirt nor a tie belt –– for all their RL-coöpted status nowadays –– was going to make anyone rethink this guy’s masculinity. Which brings me to the rose note in fragrances... Like carnation, rose is one of those notes which people might think old-fashioned, but, truth be told, most people don’t know that there are rose scents beyond grandma’s mystery fragrance or the little soaps that people put out in the guest bathroom. Rose has a plethora of expressions, and in many part of the world it is considered a masculine note. There are green-herbal-smelling roses, animalic roses and spicy roses. One of my favorite spicy renditions is Le Labo Rose 31 (reviewed here) by perfumer Daphne Bugey. But there are also: Rose Poivrée by The Different Company (rose with black pepper and the slight dirtiness of civet), L'Artisan Parfumeur Voleur des Roses (with sandalwood and patchouli), Le Sirenuse Eau d’Italie Paestum Rose (with incense and rare woods), Parfums 06130 Lierre Rose (v. green with ivy and cardamom), Etat Libre d’Orange Eau de Protection (a new rose chypré), Frédéric Malle Editions de Parfum Une Rose (geraniol at off-the-charts intensity, truffle and woods), Arabian Oud Prestige Arabia (Tai’fi rose with Laotian oud, saffron and honey) and Ajmal Aquhawan (reviewed here).
By and large, the rose note in the Middle Eastern scents is more subtle than what we are accustomed to smelling. In the West, rose absolute is blended with ylang ylang, jasmine and peony and billed as rose soliflore, and, while the effect can turn heads, it does a disservice to people’s scent memory. Distilled roses are much more complex and green. They capture the terroir and give us a multifaceted picture of the place from which they came.
A guy’s personal style isn’t that different. Proud of his roots, complex, and fearless of putting the shirt on or revealing what he’s got underneath it. Hopefully, the scent of self-assurance and a heart of gold (though I’ll settle for silver any day...)
Image credit: Bottega Veneta S/S 08 Menswear Collection. Courtesy of Men.Style.com (Marcio Madiera)