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Just as Eddie Izzard proclaims 'Equal clothing rights for all', I firmly believe that deciding whether a fragrance is to be worn by men or women, or either, is a matter for the individual. Granted there are some perfumes that are overtly feminine and packaged to match, but, particularly with fragrances marketed for men, there are many that might appeal as much to women as to men.
I have a perfume addiction: I buy it online and have it delivered to my parents' home, remove the packaging and stick the bottle in my handbag in a 'oh, this? I've had it for donkeys' kind of way. One of my strategies for acquiring more fragrance is to find scents that I think himself would like, that I could also wear myself.
'Aura for Men' by Jacomo
The name is certainly unambiguous: this fragrance is intended to be worn by men. Jacomo also make a fragrance for women with the same name but it is very different from this one and could not be considered to be simply the 'female version'. I bought this because I was looking for something spicy but not too heavy and woody and reviews emphasised the citrusy elements to this which I thought sounded fresh and clean.
The packaging is very modern; it's a clear glass rectangular bottle clad with panels of lime green plastic. While it's not especially classy or stylish, it doesn't offend me aesthetically. The green panels suggest a fresh and clean fragrance.
How does it smell?
The notes which make up this fragrance have been kindly listed on the back of the box (something I don't think I've ever seen before) though they are hardly needed partly because there are no unusual or obscure among them, and because, although this is an interesting and unusual combination, they are all quite distinctive and easy to recognise.
Aura opens with a citrusy green blast with fresh lemon and ginger and hints of freshly chopped herbs; there's a hint of Earl Grey too. Sage is listed in the top notes but it was coriander that I picked out. I didn't like this much at first, and still don't, finding it too harsh, but I can live with it because I know that the heart is where this scent comes into its own. With the heart notes Aura becomes more masculine with distinctive tobacco and green tea but they're softened by the warm spiciness of nutmeg and cinnamon and sweetened by tonka bean, which imparts something similar to vanilla.
Finally we come to the woody base notes. I'm not such a fan of woody scents and Aura's include sandalwood which I usually profess not to like. However, I don't really find that the sandalwood stands out and it's the clean cedar instead that grabs my attention. Following on from the clean, fresh elements such as tea and tobacco, the cedar seems the perfect development of the final stages of this fragrance. My university days were shrouded in a haze of patchouli so I tended to shy away from it for a good while in my later twenties and thirties but I've recently enjoyed a few fragrances that include patchouli and it is an inspired inclusion in Aura because it echoes the spicy and slightly sugary elements of the heart and adds an interesting depth to the base notes. Aura reminds me of a trip around a Middle Eastern food-store with its combination of fresh herbs, citrus, warm spices and patchouli. To me it seems like an unusual combination but it works very well in spite of the slightly aggressive overture.
In the first half hour of wear Aura strikes me as a scent intended for men but as it settles into the heart the tonka bean, nutmeg and cinnamon have a warming effect and reduce the impact of the green tea and the tobacco, making it more of a unisex fragrance. By the time the deepest notes have developed this seems more like a scent designed for women but I don't think that's any reason for a man not to wear it. Although Himself has worn this a couple of times I wear it more often; when I apply the perfume at home, by the time I get to work, nobody notices that slightly masculine edge to the top notes. Himself likes the crisp, clean edge of the green tea but finds the tonka bean too sweet.
I get about six hours from Aura which I think is pretty good for an eau de toilette. It stays very close to the skin so it's quite a good fragrance to wear for work if you don't want to wear something too strong. This is a good year round fragrance and one that should appeal to different ages.
Price & Availability
Aura for Men was launched in 2000. I'd never seen or heard of either Aura or Jacomo prior to buying it so I was a little sceptical about the quality when buying something so cheap. Currently Aura for Men is available priced at £12.95 from Cheapsmells.com for 75ml (a 40ml version is also available). I think this is really terrifc value taking into account longevity and originality, against an RRP of £32.00
The House of Jacomo
"Jacomo has its origins in the late 1960s. American James Kaplan and Frenchman Gerard Courtin met in New York, on 5th Avenue. Both men had a great love for art, music and design. Pooling their common interests, they created the fashion brand "Jacomo" (taking the "Ja" from James, the "Co" from Courtin, and the "Mo" being added to give the name a musical touch) and opened a boutique where they offered their designs to the chic trendsetters of New York."
There are 25 perfumes in the Jacomo catalogue