The best fougère colognes can be a little tough to get your head around. Lots of notes in perfumery are straightforward—vanilla, or rose, or leather. But fougère is French for “fern”—not something most guys can immediately call to mind.
So think: A field of lavender. Damp forest moss. A freshly mown lawn. Aromatic herbs. Put them together and you’re getting closer to one of the most uplifting fragrance families there is.
Fougère fragrances tend green, but have a coolness and dampness to them. (Pronounce it like “foo-zhair”, with a real Francophied “jzh” sound on the g.) Not all of them smell like a greenhouse but some absolutely do. They’re fresh, sweet, and woody, but none of those components is dialed up to a 10. You almost have to smell a few before you can really put your finger on the exact note—but once it hits you, you’ll never forget it. And to get you started, here are seven of the best fougère colognes on the market. They’re terrific year round as a new signature scent—but they tend to shine brightest in the spring and summer.
For a couple years now, Blade of Grass has been one of my favorite fragrances to recommend to people. Yes, it oozes with “freshly mown lawn” green energy, but you won’t smell like compost with this one. That is, unless your food scraps smell like rosemary, bergamot, cedar, patchouli, vetiver, amber all mulched together into one incredible blend.
Sauvage is perhaps the best-known fougères (or at least the most popular). It has all the right ingredients, too: A fresh lavender-geranium-vetiver core, a crisp bergamot opening, an animalic-woody base made of ambroxan and cedar. Then there’s that signature pepper garnish that adds year-round zing to the warm-weather medley.
Two of the best Tom Ford fragrances are fougères, but it’s Fougère d’Argent that makes the cut here. This scent wears especially well year round—even in the fall and winter—since it weaves gourmand vanilla-like coumarin with spicy ginger and crisp mandarin around its dense lavender heart.
This was famed nose Michael Edwards’ pick for the best fougère scent, for its wood-leaning expression of the category. All of Eternity’s five fragrances take fougère in new directions. The EDP’s heart has geranium and cypress, bound to sage and citrus zest top notes, and an anchor of vetiver, amber, and suede.
As smooth as you feel wearing your favorite leather jacket? That’s how Masculin Pluriel wraps itself around your body. Leather lingers behind lavender, patchouli, vetiver, and cedar—all the fougère fixings, remixed into an expression of man’s softer side.
One of 2021’s finest fragrance launches, from YSL’s fougère lineup of “Y” scents. This one is the broodiest of the bunch, with its cedar-patchouli-tonka base. Lavender, geranium, and grapefruit round out the fougère credentials, and give this scent some seriously sexy shoulder-season star power.
Another excellent 2021 launch, Prada’s latest Luna Rossa remix dials up the aromatic, powdery, and animalic notes. (That’s sage, iris, and musk to be specific.) Just as present are the familiar fougère notes, too: vetiver, bergamot, lavender, patchouli. While most fougères feel green by association, here’s one that tends blue. It’s a day on cool, breezy waters with sun breaking through the marine layer.