Following the recent post on how to buy fragrance, this is the second installment – the brands I like and some suggestions of ones to look for.


First, though, a reader asked about the difference between molecular and natural ingredients. Natural ingredients are generally but not always better. Molecular ingredients are usually cheaper, so the cheaper perfumes use them almost exclusively. But there are some very good molecules as well – ambroxin, for example, which was created in the 1950s to replace ambergris.


“The best perfumes are a combination of both: molecules give them depth and naturals give them sparkle,” says perfume guru Michael Donovan.


Natural ingredients have become much more expensive in recent years, largely due to farming techniques. Tuberoses, roses, jasmine and other ingredients have become unaffordable for cheaper products – hence my point in the previous post that you have to be paying more than £80 a bottle to give the perfumer a full palette of possibilities.


And of course it is possible to have simple fragrances that are quite beautiful. A lot of the traditional colognes worn by our sartorial heroes in the 1920s and 1930s were simple combinations of citrus and herbs. There is the original cologne, Farina Gegenuber 1709, for instance, and several old Italian scents such as Acqua di Genova.


These are classic, fresh and uncomplicated. As with any area of consumption, however, the connoisseurs tend to favour more complicated creations.


So which brands should you look to? Well, one of the main considerations has to be that the scent will be around for a long time. There’s no point undertaking a long journey of discovery, identifying your four favourite scents after years of joyful experimentation, only to discover that two of them have been discontinued.


So look first to classic houses such as Creed – originally English, now French, going strong after 250 years and with a full range of scents for you to play with. Green Irish Tweed is a perennial favourite; I wear Original Vetiver (so named because it had the original idea of using the top of the grass, not the root). Pour un Homme by Caron is also a classic, a strong-lavender scent that is a favourite of Tom Ford.


Among the more modern houses, two stand out: Frederic Malle (above) and Byredo. Malle’s strength is curating – working with the best noses in the world to create their perfect scents. Byredo is a Swedish house that makes less unusual fragrances, but all with unique touches. Both have been so significant in the evolution of men’s perfume since the dog days of the 1990s that they will certainly be around for decades to come.


Some fashion brands do great scents. The risk is that you are paying a certain amount for advertising, fashion shows and retail stores. Etro has always done wonderful fragrances and Tom Ford is a genuine lover of perfume. His scents, particularly the Private Blends in eau de parfum, are great. Perhaps that means you pay £140 for 50ml rather than £90, but if it’s the scent you love then it may be a price worth paying.

The best place to check out these perfumes (other than Tom Ford) is Liberty’s, or order 2ml samples from Roullier White.