Confession: I am a shameless thief. My poor husband is resigned to the fact that I’ll be pilfering his fragrance stores on a regular basis – from the unisex Tom Ford Private Blend collection that I bought “for us” to the masculine colognes that I’ve brought home “for him” over the years.

While I can appreciate how the floral and citrus notes of conventionally feminine fragrances can work beautifully for many women, I’ve always leaned towards scents that were on the spicy, musky, leathery side. So if you’re anything like me, read on for a list of colognes that work.

JO MALONE
Myrrh & Tonka Cologne Intense

A new release by the brand, and quickly becoming one of my favourites, Myrrh & Tonka (HK$1,580) is a warm, rich scent that lasts a surprisingly long time (seven hours on average). The heart of myrrh is appropriately Christmas-y for this time of year, but it’s the smoky sweet combination of tonka, vanilla and gaiac wood that makes this scent truly addictive.

Top: lavender
Heart: Omumbiri Myrrh
Base: Tonka
 

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ACQUA DI PARMA
Colonia Quercia

This is a controversial one in our household. I think I smell fabulously exotic with this on; my husband says I smell like a man with an attitude – I think it’s just a ploy for him to keep the fragrance all to himself. Colonia Quercia (HK$2,230/100ml) is unabashedly woody, inspired as it was by the old oaks in Piedmont, Italy. Warm, spicy notes of cardamom and patchouli round out the fragrance, but this is easily the most masculine scent of the bunch.

Top: bergamot, petitgrain
Heart: cardamom, geranium, cedarwood
Base: Tonka bean, oakmoss, patchouli
 
ATELIER COLOGNE
Vetiver Fatal Cologne Absolue

Don’t judge a book by its cover, or a cologne by its name. The Vetiver Fatal Cologne Absolue (HK$1,680) is not quite the pure vetiver fragrance its name suggests – and to me, that’s a good thing. It certainly has vetiver and bergamot, classic male cologne ingredients, but the blend has a surprisingly feminine touch to it with orange blossom, which works beautifully with the violet and plum notes to offer a beautifully balanced scent.

Top: Calabrian bergamot, Sicilian lemon, bitter orange
Heart: Tunisian orange flower, Violet leaf, black plum
Base: Haitian vetiver, Texan cedarwood, oud
 

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TOM FORD
Tobacco Vanille

This is technically a unisex scent but I’m including it in the list anyway as it’s my all-time favourite: I love it so much I actually buy it myself despite its hefty price tag (HK$1,850) – which is just as well given that the brand never sends our office any samples #firstworldproblems. This gorgeous scent balances smoky tobacco with warm, creamy vanilla, with notes of wood and cocoa to keep it from being too cloying.

Top: tobacco leaf, spice
Heart: tonka bean, tobacco blossom, vanilla, cacao
Base: dried fruits, wood
 
VALENTINO
Uomo Intense

It’s impossible to see this bottle and not want to pick it up and play with it. The spiky packaging of Uomo Intense (HK$870/100ml) makes for an irresistible tactile experience, and the bold, sultry scent works well for both genders. Most testers will warm to the smooth, rich notes of leather balanced by the sweetness of vanilla and the fresh notes of mandarin. It’s not quite as chocolate-y as the original Uomo – think of it as the darker, edgier cousin.

Top: mandarin, clary sage
Heart: iris, Tonka bean
Base: black leather, vanilla bean

 

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