Boy smells, the cult candle brand that's found its way into the living rooms of casual scent lovers and the fragrance-obsessed alike, is poised to make their biggest move yet.
Cult candle brand Boy Smells is releasing its first collection of fine fragrances—and continuing to blur gender lines while they're at it.
Thanks to the perfect storm of social media hype, a global pandemic that forced us to spend more time in our homes, and a little help from superstar Kacey Musgraves, [Boy Smells](https://www.vogue.com/article/kacey-musgraves-boy-smells-slow-burn-candle-collaboration) has gone from a small queer-owned candle company to one of the biggest names in home fragrance in just a few short years. Now the cult candle brand, which has found its way into the living rooms of casual scent lovers and the fragrance-obsessed alike, is poised to make their biggest move yet. Launching tomorrow, Boy Smells is releasing its first collection of fine fragrances, [Cologne de Parfum](https://boysmells.com/collections/cologne-de-parfum)—and continuing to blur gender lines while they're at it.
Historically, fragrances have been strictly gendered “for men” and “for women,” with everything from the campaigns, to the bottles, and the scents themselves being created within the strict confines of traditional gender roles. And while the past decade has seen brands evolving beyond gendering their scents, shirking the idea altogether and deeming their fragrances “genderless,” Boy Smells is taking a slightly different route. With the arrival of Cologne de Parfum, Boy Smells aims to embrace all parts of the gender spectrum with a phrase they coined “genderful.”
“Gone are the days of ‘Oh, buy this fragrance and you're going to attract a really beautiful woman,’ or 'buy this fragrance and you'll have a sports car,’" explains creator and co-founder of Boy Smells Matthew Herman. “We really want to create scents that mix masculine and feminine together, that are as complex and layered as the identities of our customers and reflect modern identity through olfactive structures.” headtopics.com
Many queer millennials that grew up in the late ‘90s and early aughts have, at one point or another, wrestled with how their self-expression might hold them back in the workplace or in life. These very same feelings once threatened to stunt the growth of Boy Smells. “When we created the brand, my partner David asked, 'What should we call it?' And I was like, 'Let's call it Boy Smells and put it in a pink box.' I think we felt, 'This is great, but there will be a limit on how far a product with this kind of branding will be able to go.'”
But the very thing they thought might hold them back became what set them apart. Candles like [Kush](https://boysmells.com/products/k), [Redhead](https://boysmells.com/products/redhead?_pos=1&_sid=dca421887&_ss=r), and [Slow Burn](https://boysmells.com/products/slow-burn?_pos=1&_sid=9053a4e41&_ss=r) became the scent of home for many people across diverse demographics. Boy Smells created a universe unique to them with their core collection, and has explored and expanded upon it with each seasonal launch. One might think that they’d take their best-selling candles and interpret them into fine fragrances, but Herman had something different in mind.
Advertisement“I don't really love to look back and put greatest hits on repeat.” Herman explains. “I didn't see a need to just elevate existing candle scents. I just thought it was much more exciting to create something from new. I think that what you're going to find in the fine fragrances still holds true to what you expect from Boy Smells. We're taking things and turning them on their head.”
The five scents that make up Cologne de Parfum take notes often considered masculine or feminine and blend them in ways that make them complement each other and expand them into something more. Boy Smells has always played with contrast of gender, but also the juxtaposition of dissimilar notes, taking things that should be dissonant and making them harmonious. Boy Smells thrives in duality. Duality, though, implies the opposition of two ideas. Boy Smells widens the scope to include all gender identities across the spectrum. “To consider something to be genderful, I always have to have a balance of the masculine and feminine,” explains Herman. This notion is encompassed in scents such as Violet End, which gives the soft, powdery floral a “chic and dark” makeover with base notes such as orris, black tea, incense, and smoked papyrus, or Suede Pony, which puts a new, approachable spin on leather by blending saffron, pineapple, and cardamom, with coconut water and hazelnut, and of course, suede. headtopics.com
+++group-2[#product: /products/603d58b5d46e005e977c0398]+++Rethinking traditional florals, the collection also introduces a new generation of the classics. Rose Load takes rose and adds many juicy, jewel-toned notes like rhubarb and raspberry blossom for a bright, shiny take on the classic that is loved by so many. Then, there's Flor de la Virgen, a celebration of jasmine that is made plush and pillowy with lemon rind, fig leaf, ivy, and clear musks. It’s floral but not familiar, and there’s a dewy note that calls to mind not just flowers, but the whole garden, the greenery, the soil in the spring. Finally, there’s Tantrum, a bright, searing green scent that’s balanced by earthy, herbaceous peppercorn, bergamot, mint, and sandalwood. According to Herman, “It’s bratty, but in the best way possible.”
The ideas seen throughout the fine fragrances are reflected in the bottle design, too, which is sure to be one of the most eye-catching bottles on your vanity. Herman was inspired by his love of neoclassicalism, Greek statues, and art history. “I love the shape of the bottle because it kind of has this architectural, column vibe to it, and it feels like a modern mini statue," he explains. “The story behind the cap is that it is the shape of both a chalice and a phallus. It’s genderfulness in a cap, it represents both the masculine and feminine.”
AdvertisementIf the Boy Smells candles were the thesis on their idea of “genderful,” then Cologne de Parfum is the dissertation. Sure, fragrances from any brand can be worn by anyone, no matter how they identify, and interpreted however the wearer chooses. But Boy Smells is approaching scent differently from the start and is playing a role in shifting the conversation around identity and beauty. The fine fragrances are the biggest launch in the history of Boy Smells, but they’re likely not stopping there. Each of their scents is an exercise in possibility, a lens through which to see different versions of yourself, who you are today and who you could become tomorrow.
“As a queer person who grew up in the '90s, I'm still unpeeling the layers of the onion of what my identity would have been if I had grown up in a more progressive time,” explains Herman. “Boy Smells is a little bit of a love letter to a version of myself who could have grown up as a teenager today, when there's just so much more representation of gender fluidity and queer representation. I strongly believe identity is not a destination, but a playground where you can take a lot of different paths and explore quite a lot.” If the launch of Cologne de Parfum is any indication, the exploration has only just begun. headtopics.comRead more: Vogue Runway »
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