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Men's colognes lighten up for spring

Designer clothing makers like Prada, DKNY and Burberry are rolling out fresh new scents with such youthful pitchmen as James Franco and Josh Hartnett.

March 29, 2009|Adam Tschorn

A guy's spring wardrobe switch isn't just about swapping out sweaters for swim trunks, it's also a chance to jettison the winter-weight fragrances for the lighter scents of summer. And this season, some of the biggest names in men's clothing are rolling out new entries -- so even if the recession has kept their clothes out of your closet this season, you can still maintain an air of luxury.

Packaged in smoky gray glass, pitched by eternally youthful model/actors and priced at just over $50, the offerings have an almost eerie similarity. Here's how to suss out the subtle differences at the fragrance counter:

Burberry the Beat for Men

1.7 ounces for $55 at

The faces: British model-musician Will Cameron, Brit actor Alex Pettyfer (among others)

The bottle: Smoky glass and gray metal with Burberry check design and Aqua Velva-colored contents equals a retro-Thermos vibe

The top notes: Black pepper and violet leaves

The pitch: "Disheveled elegance . . . the fragrance is about the guy who lives in the moment."

The reality: Like a gangly British club kid, it's got more energy, spice and depth than the pallor suggests -- and it grows on you.



1.7 ounces for $50 at

The face: Dutch model Mark Vanderloo

The bottle: Smoky gray bottle inspired by New York City's Flatiron Building -- with a gun-metal textured cap

The top notes: Sandalwood, cedar wood and patchouli

The pitch: "Inspired by all the city has to offer."

The reality: The ladies in the adjoining cubicles were happily reminded of mid-'80s Drakkar Noir.


John Varvatos Artisan

2.5 ounces for $55 at John Varvatos boutiques and Bloomingdale's.

The face: Australian model Andrew Smith

The bottle: Flask-inspired silhouette wrapped in hand-woven rattan (is that a smoky gray glass bottle underneath?)

The top notes: Sicilian clementines, wild thyme

The pitch: "It conveys the freedom of a long summer weekend."

The reality: The smell of a freshly cut lawn from the wicker chair on the porch of your beach house.


Prada Infusion d'Homme

1.7 ounces for $54 at

The face: Dutch model Rogier Boschaart

The bottle: Rectangular glass with metallic Prada crest on one side, black Courier font on a white label on the other evokes vintage apothecary bottles

The top notes: Tunisian neroli, vetiver, iris, cedar wood

The pitch: "Expect the unexpected. An idiosyncratic and subtle fragrance for the contemporary man."

The reality: Baby shampoo with a soupcon of dry-cleaning fluid evokes the idea of freshly starched bed linens.


Emporio Armani Diamonds

1.7 ounces for $52.50 at

The face: American actor Josh Hartnett

The bottle: Clear glass with recessed diamond-like facets

The top notes: Italian citrus-bergamot . . . "enlivened by a vibrant electric burst of Szechuan pepper."

The pitch: "He's a diamond made to shine. Hard to resist."

The reality: Diamonds might be a girl's best friend, but the citruspalooza blast may skew a bit too Orange Julius for some.


Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme

1.7 ounces $55 at

The face: American actor James Franco

The bottle: Round, smoked gray glass flacon with topped with a decorative silver horse bit

The top notes: Cypress, violet and bergamot

The pitch: "Combin[ing] classic masculine appeal with cool, contemporary elegance."

The reality: A heavier scent with a hint of leather that's slightly familiar, as if this horse has been around the track before.


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