Fougère (French word for “fern”) is a perfume classification for a family of scents that traces its origin back to 1882 when Houbigant first released this Eau de Parfum. Houbigant’s Fougère Royale paved the way for countless perfumers’ formulations of woody, fern-like scent profiles (usually with lavender, oakmoss, and coumarin).
This fragrance type is gaining in popularity today because it is so diverse and well-suited for many occasions and times of year -- forgiving enough for a pleasant, casual silage throughout the day, but complex enough to be suited for the workplace. The woody base makes it appropriate for winter, but the top and heart notes of various citruses and spices make it great for spring and summer. Eric from WCS decided to make a selection of his personal favorite fougères to give you a glimpse at the diversity of this classic aroma. Enjoy!
Mickey Lee Soapworks, Cape Verde (soap): Cape Verde is Mickey Lee Soapworks’ twist on a common fougère. Inspired by the lush lavender fields of Cape Verde - off the west coast of Africa, this fougère is intertwined with a deep, dark lavender, fresh orange, tangerine, thyme and oakmoss. Dark and woody, yet floral and sweet. Paired with a recipe that is incredibly slick and provides one of the best post shaves out there, this is a real winner in my book.
Taylor of Old Bond Street, Sandalwood (soap/splash): Yup, that’s right. At heart, this “Sandalwood” shaving cream is actually a fougère! Top notes of geranium, lavender, rosemary, and amber surround a heart of carnation, fern, oakmoss, tonka bean, and orange blossom. This bright and woody profile is rounded off with a base of patchouli, sandalwood, vetiver, and musk to create a very well-thought-out fragrance. If you’re a wet shaving veteran or enthusiast, chances are you’re very familiar with this shaving cream. If not, let me be so bold as to say this is easily one of the most popular lather shaving creams of all time. Since the summer of 1854, Jeremiah Taylor has been producing a brand of grooming products that epitomizes British luxury, elegance, and quality, all at a reasonable price. Just a small amount of this cream will award you with a thick, slick, comforting lather.
WhollyKaw, Fougère Bouquet (soap/splash): Main notes of oakmoss, lavender, and bergamot, secondary notes of sandalwood, cedar, and various other woods, on a base of coumarin, tonka bean, oakmoss, musk and ambergris. Bergamot and lavender help to make this woody profile very bright upfront, while ambergris provides a complex, mysterious, honey-like sweetness. Oakmoss and musk give this a very dark base. Sri, the mastermind behind WhollyKaw, has done extensive research on common topical allergens, formulating this soap with fragrance oil variations that will be gentle on even the most sensitive of skin.
D.R. Harris Arlington (soap/splash/cologne): This traditional British company has provided men with quality, luxury products since the late 1790’s. One of their most popular scents, Arlington, is the epitome of a simple, yet well-rounded fougère. Notes of lemon, bergamot, orange, neroli, fern, rose, and musk are very well combined to make this woody fougère light and sweet.
Taylor of Old Bond Street, Jermyn Street Collection (soap/splash/cologne): A more defined fougère, this is not to be confused with the above mentioned TOBS Sandalwood profile. This is a very fern-forward scent and is a staple choice among our customers, so it made the list! With top notes of lemon, lime, lavender and bergamot surrounding a heart of geranium, neroli, and amber, laid on a base of musk, patchouli, and vanilla. If we had the authority, we’d erase the definition of “clean” in the dictionary and simply put a spritz of this on the page. It really is that clean and inviting. I pick out mostly the fern, amber, musk, and vanilla, which make this a not-so-bright, more “gentlemanly” fougère.
Penhaligon’s Sartorial: A complex fougère if there ever was one. This is not for the faint of heart, and lends itself very well to occasions where exuding authority and panache are a must. Top notes of metallic and ozonic effects, violet leaf, neroli, cardamom, black pepper, and ginger and heart notes of beeswax, cyclamen, linden blossom, lavender, and leather. As if this weren’t enough, it rests on a base of gurgum wood, patchouli, myrrh, cedarwood, tonka bean, oakmoss, honey and aged wood effects, and amber. This is an incredibly dark and complicated twist on a fougère and is one of my favorite traditional colognes.
Fine Accoutrements, American Blend (soap/splash): Fine Accoutrements was established somewhat recently, but has gained traction very, very quickly. Their line of products sticks to old world formulas, with triple-milled soap pucks and aftershaves with an ingredient list including only alcohol, water, menthol, and (usually) fragrance. American Blend is Todd’s (a.k.a. ???
Chatillon Lux, TSM Fougère (splash): A recent addition to our site, but it is quickly becoming a favorite. Chatillon Lux is the brainchild of Shawn, a fellow wet shaving enthusiast, who has an affection for the history of the Gateway City, a.k.a. Saint Louis, Missouri. Each scent typically has a distinctive name associated with St. Louis in some way. This particular scent, however, was crafted for a Facebook group TSM (The Shave Market), but soon took off… and boy, are we glad it did. Inspired by the rolling, rich hills of the Missouri Rheinland with a complex profile of oakmoss, incense, lavender, vetiver, neroli, tonka bean, petitgrain, nagarmotha, clary sage, cedarwood, grass, musk, grapefruit, bergamot, Spanish moss, violet, geranium, violet leaf, and anise.As one of the first masculine perfume classification (rather than feminine or unisex), fougeres seem made for the wet-shaving world. And with their versatility and suitability, you are sure to find one to love. Do you have a favorite that we didn’t mention?