The world's 16 best men's fragrance brands, explained by GQ's sensual expert

From scents favoured by aristocracy to perfumes that fight tradition and push the boundaries, we celebrate the men's fragrance brands behind some of the globe’s most iconic and legendary spritzes.
16 Best men's fragrance brands explained by GQ's sensual expert

While variety may well be the spice of life, there’s something very reassuring about finding a fragrance or two that tick all your boxes – particularly if they come from a beloved and trusted brand. It may involve a fair bit of trial and error, but many find loyalty to one fragrance brand is a great way to express your personal style and taste. Some relish in the sexy, Studio 54-inspired aromas by Tom Ford whereas others prefer the quiet and easy-going simplicity found at Acqua di Parma. There’s a brand for everyone out there.

Thankfully, personal taste aside, all of the brands featured below share one very important thing in common; consistency, meaning they aren’t one-hit wonders. Whether they’re steeped in aromatic history or charting new territory in the fragrance space, these makers never put a foot wrong having made some of the best men's fragrances available. It’s simply up to you to identify what floats your boat and try your hand at becoming a one-brand-man.

GQ's best men's fragrance brands at a glance…

Best heritage fragrance brands

Bolstered by legendary tales and historical references, these perfume houses have stood the test of time without faltering in quality or contemporary relevance.


Creed Aventus Eau de Parfum

Creed Green Irish Tweed Eau de Parfum

Creed Royal Oud Eau de Parfum

One of the truly authentic luxury fragrance houses, Creed, still uses many traditional perfumery processes, including an age-old and costly infusion technique now abandoned by most modern brands, to help distinguish its timeless scents. Founded in 1760, the story begins with a pair of scented leather gloves which were delivered to King George III by a new Mayfair-based tailoring company, headed up by Henry Creed. Relocating to Paris and shifting from its tailoring heritage into one of the world’s most prestigious perfume houses, it is still family-owned - now in its 7th generation - under the watch of Olivier and his son Erwin. Its forever-classic Green Irish Tweed, a favourite of George Clooney and Robert Redford, is inspired by the lush green countryside of the Emerald Isle.

Acqua Di Parma

Acqua Di Parma Colonia Eau de Cologne

Acqua di Parma Signatures of the Sun Oud & Spice Eau de Parfum

Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Fico di Amalfi Eau de Toilette

The first true Italian cologne, Colonia, helped ADP establish its untarnished reputation as the quintessence of understated Bel Paese chic. Created in a small essence laboratory in the old heart of Parma in 1916, this bergamot-infused scent - which remains unchanged from its original recipe - became the fragrance of ‘the time’ in the 1930s and helped clear a path for the brand to develop into the iconic perfumery that it is today. Now offering a wide range of signature scents, seasonal spin-offs and its beloved Blu Mediterraneo line (inspired by sun-soaked locations scattered across the Mediterranean coast), all of ADP’s art deco-bottled creations embody the soul of Italy. Many have become favourites of A-list style icons, from Kate Moss to Cary Grant, too.


Guerlain Eau de Fleurs de Cedrat Eau de Toilette

Guerlain Habit Rouge Eau de Parfum

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Bergamote Calabria Eau de Toilette

This legendary French Maison, which was the official perfumer to Emperor Napoleon III, has been creating exceptional fragrances since 1828. To glance at its impressive back catalogue of scents, you’d discover Vétiver, famously worn by Michael Caine, and the spicy, patchouli-rich, Habit Rouge (1965), which could be considered any fragrance connoisseur’s dream. Now in its fifth generation of perfumers, under the skilful watch of Thierry Wasser and Delphine Jelk, Guerlain is amongst the oldest perfume houses still operating in the world, yet continues to keep the hits coming. It now offers a diverse range of heritage and contemporary fragrances; the premium L’Art Et La Matiere collection, celebrating precious raw materials and the Aqua Allegoria line of long-lasting, cologne-esque summer spritzes, inspired by the gardens of the world.

Floris London

Floris No. 89 Eau de Toilette

Floris Mulberry Fig Eau de Parfum

Floris Platinum 22 Eau de Parfum

Head to 89 Jermyn Street if you want confidence-boosting scents that will lift your self-esteem. Since 1730, this British luxury fragrance house has consistently delivered a collection of classic and contemporary perfumes. A proud, privately-owned and independent family business rooted in British artisanal standards, Floris has no less than 20 Royal warrants and holds the warrant of Perfumers to the late HM The Queen Elizabeth II (the only perfumery to do so), granted in 1971. Steeped in history but also bang-up to date in scent profiles, it is now under the watchful eye of Edward Bodenham (9th family generation) and his team of perfumers, who’ve taken brand forward with new releases like

Platinum 22, created to celebrate the milestone of the late Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, and a recent collaboration with James Bond for an anniversary scent. Now, you can't get more British than that.

Best contemporary fragrance brands

The Zeitgeist of contemporary fragrance makers, these artisanal creators embody the modern world in which we live. Our-generation perfumers that aren’t afraid to embrace the ‘new’, with a finger on the pulse.

Le Labo

Le Labo Santal 33 Eau de Parfum

Le Labo Thé Noir 29 Eau de Parfum

Le Labo Tonka 25 Eau de Parfum

Conceived in Grasse, the French Riviera’s proud capital of perfumery, and brought to life in New York, Le Labo believes that there are too many bottles of perfume in this world, but not enough ‘soulful’ fragrances. Working to the belief that fine fragrance must be irreverent and create an olfactory shock, its boutiques function like an open, artisanal, entertainment park for the nose; filled with unique and complex scents that trigger emotions. Founded by Eddie Roschi and Fabrice Penot, who’ve worked with some of the world’s most celebrated perfumers, all of its vegan-friendly creations are freshly blended by hand; each label personalised with the date and place of formulation. All Le Labo virgins should give Santal 33 a spin, a bestseller which is inspired by the rugged plains of the American West; loaded with smoky sandalwood.


Diptyque 34 Boulevard Saint Germain Eau de Parfum

Diptyque L'Ombre dans l'Eau Eau de Toilette

Diptyque Philosykos Eau de Parfum

Working with many big-name perfumers like Fabrice Pellegrin and Olivier Pescheux, Diptyque’s characteristically uplifting creations take a modern yet romantic stance; very Parisienne, very bohemian. Established in the 1960s by three multidisciplinary artists (set designer Yves Coueslant, interior designer Christiane Montadre-Gautrot and painter Desmond Knox-Leet), the brand initially started life as a bazaar in the district of Saint-Germain-des-Prés (where the boutique still stands today), housing unique finds from the founders’ travels around the world as well as the fabrics and wallpaper they designed in-house. The first Diptyque eau de toilette, L’Eau, debuted in 1968 and, well, as they say, the rest is history. Our favourite? L’Ombre Dans L’Eau, which uses herbaceous blackcurrant leaves to create a sensual, nature-filled fragrance.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540 Eau de Parfum

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Celestia Eau de Toilette

Maison Francis Kurkdjian L'Homme A la Rose Eau de Parfum

Considered one of the fragrance world’s clearest and most modern thinkers, Francis Kurkdjian co-founded his eponymous Maison in 2001; a tailor-made scent workshop and home to some of the world’s most desirable perfumes. Having composed Le Male for Jean Paul Gaultier (which has become one of the world's best-selling perfumes) in 1995 at the tender age of 25, Kurkdjian was also named Creative Director for Dior Parfums in 2021, which should give you some idea of his gravitas in the fragrance industry. Fascinated by scenting different mediums, which have included scented bubbles, scented ice rinks and even scenting the fountain at the Palace of Versailles, Baccarat Rouge 540, which lays on the skin like an amber and woody breeze, is amongst MFK’s most celebrated creations.

Jo Loves

Jo Loves Pomelo Eau de Parfum

Jo Loves Red Truffle 21 Eau de Parfum

Jo By Jo Loves Eau de Parfum

An English scent maverick, a pioneer and a clued-up businesswoman, Jo Malone CBE has built a cult following as a master of unexpected scents; most of which are inspired by personal memories and moments. After leaving her first business, Jo Malone London, in 2006, Malone set her sights on something new: Jo Loves, an innovative scent, bath, body and candle collection. Developing products that break new ground, like solid scents and fragrance paintbrushes, the line boasts a stellar portfolio of genderless hits; including Red Truffle 21, which features a truffle note wrapped in fresh green fig, bitter citrus and cool crisp pine, and Pomelo, the OG and founding fragrance, reminiscent of summer holidays and freshly laundered linen sheets, which debuted in 2011.

Best maverick fragrance brands

Aiming to create the maverick scents of tomorrow, these fragrance brands were born to disrupt and innovate. Whether they use ‘challenging’ and unorthodox materials or take conceptual routes, their final products are all sniff-worthy.

Comme des Garçons

Comme des Garçons Concrete Eau de Parfum

Comme des Garçons 2 Man Eau de Toilette

Comme des Garçons Amazingreen Eau de Parfum

CDG’s avant-garde approach to fashion is very divisive; it should, therefore,  come as no surprise that its fragrances also challenge traditional ‘rules’, and are full of controversial surprises. Christian Astuguevieille, both a multi-disciplinary artist and Creative Director of Comme des Garçons Parfums, has said his goal has always been to create unique sensory experiences and the perfumes he has composed for CDG are unrivalled in their polarising individuality. Having created fragrances with unorthodox notes like burnt rubber, grilled cigarettes, warm photocopy toner and dust on a lightbulb, his top-selling perfume, Concrete, was inspired by destruction. From concept and design to the finished product, Astuguevieille breaks the mould and pushes the boundaries.


Byredo Bal d'afrique Eau de Parfum

Byredo Gypsy Water Eau de Parfum

Byredo Sunday Cologne Eau de Parfum

Intending to translate emotions, feelings and places into olfactory experiences, the structure of Byredo’s fragrance formulations are deliberately stripped back and realised using as few ingredients as possible. Founded by former pro-basketball player Ben Gorham in 2006, the portfolio of genderless scents carries clear ethnic influences from Ben’s Indian background with strong ties to creativity, art and lifestyle. In contrast to the brand’s clean Scandinavian aesthetic (Gorham and his company were both born in Sweden), its scents are fairly complex – take Gypsy Water, a unique woody/floral scent that evokes fresh soil, deep forests and campfires, achieved by combining pine needles, juniper berries and incense, or Bal D’Afrique, a vetiver inspired by Paris in the late 1920’s. Gorham has also collaborated on scents with fashion photographers, Inez and Vinoodh and Off White’s Virgil Abloh.

Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle

Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady eau de parfum

Frédéric Malle Synthetic Jungle eau de parfum

Frédéric Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire eau de parfum

Describing himself as a “publisher of perfumes”, Frédéric Malle founded Editions de Parfums at the turn of the millennium. Aiming to give total freedom back to perfumers, EDPFM invites the best in the industry to create scents under their own name with no restrictions or budgetary constraints. It’s a brand of uncompromising quality and unbiased creativity. With a deep-rooted passion for fragrance (Malle’s grandfather, Serge Hefler-Louiche, was the original founder of Parfums Christian Dior), Malle has chosen to harnesses his collaborators’ talents in two ways; either by breaking new olfactory ground or reinterpreting classic structures through the lens of modern day perfumery. Dominique Ropion’s Portrait Of A Lady is a bestseller from the line, and features more than 10 per cent concentration of rose (a typical rose-based fragrance uses 0.1 per cent), which is unprecedented in modern perfumery.

Maison Margiela Replica

Maison Margiela Replica Bubble Bath Eau de Toilette

Maison Margiela Replica Autumn Vibes Eau de Toilette

Maison Margiela Jazz Club Eau de Toilette

Maison Margiela unveiled its first Replica clothing and accessories collection in 1994, inspired by pre-loved garments collected around the world; they were replicated and marked with a plain white label indicating the provenance, period and style description. Inspired by this niche line, the brand’s Replica fragrances strive to duplicate familiar smells and moments taken from varying locations and eras. Each scent evokes images, impressions and positive emotions, with names like When the Rain Stops, By the Fireplace, Coffee Break, Springtime in a Park and Lazy Sunday Morning. Autumn Vibes, with its woody trail of cedar and spicy notes of pink pepper, coriander and cardamom, reinterpret the colours of autumn leaves, while Jazz Club, a cocktail of rum, vetiver, bitter orange and tobacco takes you to a leather and liquor scented Brooklyn basement.

Best designer fragrance brands

While many designer-labelled fragrances are licensed, there are exceptions that place integrity and authenticity at their heart. These brands, linked to influential fashion houses, make stellar perfumes.


Hermès Terre D'Hermès Eau Intense Vetiver Eau de Parfum

Hermès Eau d'Orange Verte Eau de Cologne

Hermès Hermessence Collection Poivre Samarcande Eau de Toilette

This stealth luxury label never puts a foot wrong and is widely considered the pinnacle of ‘bon chic, bon genre’; contemporary with an innate sense of style. Having started life in 1837 as a high-quality harness and bridle workshop for the carriage trade, it doesn’t licence any of its products, including perfumery, which is why it can keep such tight control over its exceptional quality of design and production. Now under the direction of In-house perfumer Christine Nagel, Hermès boasts a wide range of historical signature scents, a summery Jardin series (inspired by imagined garden landscapes), a premium Hermessence line, and a cologne collection. Our favourite? Eau d’Orange Verte, which was composed by Françoise Caron in 1979; an explosion of citrus notes with orange, blackcurrant buds, oakmoss and patchouli.

Tom Ford

Tom Ford Grey Vetiver Parfum

Tom Ford Neroli Portofino Eau de Parfum

Tom Ford Ombré Leather Eau de Parfum

Ford is notorious for putting sex into scents with provocative and seductive silages. His first fragrance after launching his eponymous luxury empire, Black Orchid (2006), was an instant hit; an iconic, hedonistic and intoxicating scent which has found favour with us fellas, despite being sold as a women’s fragrance. Ford has since created a line of bestselling signature scents and a more premium wardrobe of perfumes called Private Blend, with bottles designed to look like chess pieces. The designer continues to court controversy with his daringly-titled elixirs like Lost Cherry, Rose Prick and Fucking Fabulous, all of which maintain a proprietary sensual style that keeps things unmistakably Tom Ford. The classics include Neroli Portofino, a sparkling reinvention of a classic eau de cologne, inspired by the Italian Riviera.


Chanel Pour Monsieur Eau De Toilette

Chanel Paris-Édimbourg Eau de Toilette

Chanel Sycomore Les Exclusifs Eau de Parfum

All Chanel fragrances share a very sophisticated and soft-centred elegance; a Chanel-ness that keeps rough edges at bay and leaves a very satisfying aura. The epitome of 1920s savoir faire, the house’s association with masculine perfumery began in 1955 with Pour Monsieur, the only men's fragrance created while Mademoiselle was still alive: a timeless fresh-chypre scent with aristocratic charm, made with fresh Sicilian lemon and Tunisian neroli. Today, many of its perfumes are without gender restraint, like the Les Exclusifs de Chanel collection, each evoking a chapter from the story of Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel, reflecting her life and character, or the Les Eaux line of fresh summery spritzes, inspired by destinations beloved by the luxury brand’s eponymous founder. Creative direction is now in the hands of Olivier Polge, son of Jacques Polge, who served for 37 years as Chanel in-house perfumer.


Dior Sauvage Eau de Toilette

Dior La Collection Privée Gris Dior Eau de Parfum

Christian Dior described himself as both a fashion and perfume designer. Having established his legendary couture business back in 1946, he always believed that fragrance was an essential accessory to a look and should be the finishing touch to every outfit. This dedication to the art of perfumery has spawned some iconic classics from the house of Dior over many years, under the direction of some of the world’s most celebrated noses. Eau Sauvage, composed by Edmond Roudnitska in 1966, is not only the first men’s fragrance from the house but now a symbol of good taste, pairing bergamot from Calabria with lavender. François Demachy, Dior Perfume Creator from 2006, was responsible for its more revved-up and fiery sibling perfume, Sauvage, and Francis Kurkdjian is now poised to take the brand into the future, taking over from Demarchy in 2021.