If I were asked to describe my father in one word I would choose ‘kind’. If I were able to use more words I would opt for ‘accepting’, ‘logical’, ‘eccentric’, ‘funny’, ‘open-minded’ and ‘pensive’. The truth is that it’s impossible and more than a little unjust to sum him up in so few words, after all he is 50% off the reason I am here today writing this article and he has more than successfully guided my three siblings and me to being the decent human beings that we are.
My father is a mechanical engineer who works for a leading consultancy firm and has a bit of a thing for motorbikes. He’s a bit older than he would like you to think and would rather unconvincingly argue that he wasn’t a day over 42, in fact he’d do this with so much gusto that you’d end up believing him simply in recognition of the effort he put in. Sometimes you’ve just got to humour a guy!
As a child I remember him as quieter and less outgoing than he is today but I never saw him as distant – he was very much the hands-on dad, regularly taking us swimming and for bike rides. It’s funny knowing your parents when you’re an adult, you look at them differently, and I now see my father as funny, irreverent and confident.
His scented history seems more in keeping with this outgoing persona. The very first fragrance I remember him wearing was Obsession for Men by Calvin Klein, a scent that felt, and still feels, unmistakably masculine. Made in the true 80’s style of loudness and brashness, Obsession is a huge and butch oriental with warm notes of amber, sandalwood and patchouli juxtaposed by the soft femininity of lavender and jasmine. To this day I see this as how all dads should smell.
Giorgio Armani’s Armani Eau Pour Homme and Dolce & Gabbana Pour Homme were staples within my father’s (rather limited) scented wardrobe for a number of years. Both are distinctly fresher than Obsession and share a robust combination of herbs and citrus. The Armani really sticks out in my mind as a ‘special’ scent, it feels effortlessly luxurious with its simple strokes of tart mandarin, flowers and woods. Smelling it now the image I see is clear – it’s my father the businessman, decked out in an Armani suit and ready to do some serious engineering.
The classic masculine fragrance seems to be a recurring theme in my father’s scented life – a theme that I like to think I’ve helped to continue over recent years. When stuck with a fragrance to gift him one Christmas I went for a bottle of Guerlain’s Vetiver – after all you cannot go wrong with Vetiver and there is nothing more classic. Vetiver is softer than his other fragrant loves but the sparkle of ginger and lemon is evocative of the effervescent humour my father often displays whereas the plush quality of piquant vetiver and rich tobacco provides a nod to the complexity of his character and the intelligence of his work.
In April my father got married (to my very lovely step mother I hasten to add) and on the big day he opted for yet another classic – Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior. Eau Sauvage is a quintessential masculine yet it feels decidedly genderless to me. It’s one of those fragrances that wears with the ease of spring – a laid back essay in how the simple combination of flowers (in this case the airy and jasmine-esque note of hedione), citrus fruits (lemon) and vetiver simply cannot be beaten. There is a touch of something rugged in the base that gives off a slight ‘Rebel Without a Cause Vibe’ and perhaps this is what attracts my father to Eau Sauvage – I can just see him cruising on one of his motorbikes (Dolores and Jezebel) channelling the coolness of James Dean.
My taste in fragrances has always been similar to that of my mother’s, both of us sharing a love for massive aldehydic floral bombs that could knock down a charging bull at ten paces, however a look back at my father’s scent file has highlighted a mutual admiration for clean and handsome masculines – an admiration that I did not realise we shared until now
This Father’s Day I shall look back at the things I have learned from my father. Not just scent-wise, but the life lessons that he has taught me. Lessons that I will forever be grateful for and hope one day to be able to pass on to my own children. As for the future? Well there is still a lot of life to learn and I hope we can continue to do this together with many laughs along the way.