Around the World in 10 Classic Fragrances

No other sense can conjure an instant escape than the olfactory.
ILLUSTRATOR Jean Saturnino

No other sense can conjure an instant escape than the olfactory. With just a single whiff, the brain takes flight; the hippocampus and amygdale—the key regions involved in learning and memory—are triggered, releasing once-hidden emotions that could easily override the other senses. Perhaps, just about the same effect wanderlust can bring to one’s being.

So, when talking about a momentary break (since we all need one), Esquire invites you to close your eyes, breathe deeply, and count to 10, as any of these fragrances can take you to just about any dream destination. 

Carrier: L’Homme Prada

Destination: Santorini

If the salty swell of the Mediterranean has a scent, it would smell of the Italian house’s landmark new fragrance. At once airy and woodsy, L’Homme Prada combines the serene, horticultural flourish of geranium and patchouli that speaks of an idyllic Agean paradise, while the brazen top notes of iris and amber of Asia Minor awaits close by, hinting of hidden dangers or stirring misadventures. Like the ancient sea that inspires it, this confident fragrance captures the best of both worlds in a bottle.



Carrier: Christian Dior Sauvage  

Destination: Antananarivo

The island’s diverse landscapes make it a thriving ground some of the world’s most untamed flora and fauna, and the fabled French house’s novel fragrance put a stake on Southeastern Africa’s savage nature. The first whiff of Reggio di Calabria bergamot is enough to strike a gentlemanly presence. But dig through its peppery middle notes and the base of musky ambergris and the real, primal temperament of man reveals itself. Wear this one for a walk on the wild side.


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Carrier: Creed Aventus  

Destination: Paris

One of the most celebrated colognes from the British-founded, France-based perfumer, Creed’s Aventus reeks of the time when Paris was the center of the world. Inspired by the plight of one Napoleon Bonaparte, the Aventus proves that it could take a whole empire to create one epic fragrance. Top notes of blackcurrant, apple and pineapple tell of an insatiably sweet banquet, while the fragrant bouquet of rose, dry birch, Moroccan jasmine and patchouli offer a heady whiff of delicate romance. But the revelatory finish of Spanish oak moss, musk, and French vanilla takes one back to reality: that the City of Lights is not as innocent as it is imagined to be.


Carrier: Mr. by Burberry  

Destination: London

After all the gloom and gray, springtime in England is indeed a welcome sight. But a walk in any one of many English gardens can prove to be more of a welcoming sniff. Burberry perfectly captures this with an unassuming fragrance, a refreshing concoction of crisp, zesty grapefruit top note, and a seductive base of vetiver, birch leaf and smoky guaiac wood. Proper and politically-correct, at once modern and traditional, it is the quintessential scent for the British gent…that is, perhaps, prior to the Brexit.



Carrier: Maison Francis Kurkdjian Absolue Pour Le Soir  

Destination: Mumbai

Luxury French contemporary perfumer Francis Kurkdjian’s Absolue Pour Le Soir is the more daring sibling fragrance to his gentler original, Pour Le Soir. With the precious notes of rose, honey, incense, and benzoin, complemented with the earthy zest of cumin, cedar, sandalwood, and ylang-ylang, the perfume’s palette speaks of the intense, vibrant soul of India—a heady, hypnotic country of clashing convictions, culture, and class. But, just like the jewel of the orient, this treasure trove of a fragrance finds the proverbial calm amidst the multi-sensory chaos.



Carrier: Jo Malone Incense and Cedrat

Destination: Oman

Like a gift to the gods, the Jo Malone unisex fragrance is a sniff of heaven in even the most war-torn places on the planet. With the citrus fruit, cedrat, making a bright, optimistic top note to a substantial, otherworldly base of Middle Eastern frankincense, the perfume is at once simplistic and elegant, intense and understated, for a deeply rewarding olfactory encounter…just as peace on earth.


Carrier: Kenzo Totem Blue

Destination: Maui

Think of lapping waves, wide open skies, swaying palm fronds, and sweet Pacific breeze, Totem Blue, one of a trinity of scents from the French-Japanese fashion house, takes us to sunny Hawaii for a sweet, sensual whiff of the tropics. In the traditional fougère discipline of fragrance crafting, Totem Blue is a contemporary cocktail of crushed pineapple top notes, a spicy cardamom heart, and a finish of warm and welcoming cedar, all inviting you to simply hang loose.



Carrier: Dunhill Icon Absolute

Destination: Istanbul

The Grand Bazaar beckons with just a sniff of Icon Absolute, the new iteration of the British house’s well-received Icon fragrance line. Now in a more gilded bottle, Dunhill didn’t seem to scrimp on the elements that would make this the gold standard for manly perfume. It’s like getting lost in the spice alley of black pepper and bergamot top notes, saffron, black rose, and Egyptian jasmine middle notes, and oud, tobacco, and leather for that refined Tory finish. Well-mannered yet mysterious, this scent should keep the ladies second-guessing.



Carrier: Bottega Veneta Pour Homme

Destination: Moscow

In a single spritz, the Italian fashion house’s Pour Homme pays homage to the Kremlin, where the cool, steely scents of Siberian pine and Balkan juniper exhibit an air of pure muscle. But in a well-studied display of aromatic diplomacy, Bottega Veneta manages to subdue this iron curtain with the foreign warmth of allspice, clary sage, bergamot, and patchouli. Touted as the ultimate traveler’s scent, this fragrance is sober, serious, and stubborn in its intent for world domination. 


Carrier: Givenchy Gentlemen Only Absolute

Destination: Shanghai

Black lacquer, red label—the French house finally heeds the call of Orientalia. As though Givenchy treads the centuries-old Silk Road, picking flavors of fancy along the way, this unapologetic, masculine fragrance packs nutmeg, cinnamon, saffron, sandalwood, bergamot, and vanilla in a sleek, almost silent bottle, concealing its strength within…like a sensual, sinister dragon waiting to be unleashed.

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