Defining Gender Neutral Fragrances

The concept of gender fluid fragrances is not new, but the approach to creating these type of compositions is.

For the past 25 years I’ve worked as a professional perfumer in the fragrance industry. Fragrance briefs typically start by defining the following parameters: gender, age group, application, fragrance type, and raw material cost.

As a perfumer, it’s known and accepted that some notes and compositional styles make a scent decidedly feminine or masculine. For example, “fougere”, a classic fragrance accord with lavender and mossy notes has been a considered a traditionally masculine note, while heady floral notes like tuberose and jasmin have been reserved for feminine fragrance creation.

Be that as it may, I’ve noticed over the years that a growing number of people, myself included, tend to gravitate towards scents they enjoy most, regardless of their intended gender.

Embracing the Gender Fluid

Back in the 90’s I broke all the fragrance rules and wore a heavy wintery men’s fragrance called Night Flight by Joop on hot summer nights in New York City. It was sensual and dense and made me feel connected to the heavy summer city air. I felt especially alive as I walked down the street on those balmy nights. Since then the trends have shifted back and forth on this topic but the idea of genderless scents has become a perspective that reflects modern society more than a passing trend.

When Calvin Klein launched CK One in the 90’s he defined the unisex category by choosing to promote a scent with no definable gender characteristics, but equally appealing to all. I believe today’s interpretation of gender fluid fragrances takes this concept one step further by taking notes that have a traditional or decidedly masculine or feminine profile and incorporating them into fragrances that people would love to wear.

The New Standard

When I launched my line of experiential fine fragrances, Provision eau de parfums, I didn’t think about gender at all, but rather the experience I was trying to evoke. It came as no surprise to me then, when Las Flores—the most traditionally feminine scent— developed an equal following of men and women.

Bright orange flower notes in Las Flores gradually fade into more herbaceous fresh notes that ultimately dry down to amber notes, which are not traditionally paired with fresh floral notes. Inspired by the mix of aromatic notes in the Malibu canyons where I often hike, I sought to recreate this experience despite the non-traditional composition.

The air from the Santa Monica mountains from a higher elevations has fresh floral notes, with crisp clean air nuance. The dry, resinous, woody notes of the canyon have a touch of amber and remind me of visiting a spa in the desert. Every so often the wind changes direction and the sultry marine notes of the Pacific Ocean make their way into the mix. I wanted to capture this experience, which could be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of gender orientation.

The result is a gender fluid scent that reads differently on everyone, while evoking the experience of a hike in the Malibu canyons.

The truth is many of us have been simply wearing fragrances regardless of their suggested gender for years. Now, with the intentional creation of gender neutral fragrances, we have the ability to experience a new range and style of fragrance compositions like never before.

Read about more about the process behind my experiential, gender neutral fragrances here.