Lived-In Review: Hawthorne for Men Custom Cologne

hawthorne for men cologne
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* Colognes created by award-winning perfumers
* One scent for work, another for play
* Receive a cologne based on your personal profile

It’s been a while since I wore cologne every day. After the scent boom of the 1990s, when top designers like Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger dominated the market with scents like Obsession, Tommy and Polo Sport–not to mention Liz Claiborne’s ubiquitous Curve–fragrances as a national sensation more or less died off.

Hawthorne for Men


In the age of overbearing, cheap body sprays and natural deodorants, good cologne has fallen considerably out of vogue. SPY’s managing editor wears Maison Louis Marie, but is thinking to switch to the updated take on CK One (he loves resurgent trends from the 90s). Even though I avoid cologne and stick to coco butter lotion because it’s great for your skin, I still have a soft spot for Abercrombie Fierce. It’s a little tawdry, but so am I.

Part of what drove my personal reluctance to hop back on the fragrance wagon is that it’s hard to find one that works for your body chemistry and personal style. That’s where Hawthorne for Men comes in. The online cologne company tailor-makes cologne for you based on nine factors: diet, knowledge of cologne, alcohol consumption, body temperature, tobacco use, career, social life, fashion style and personality. From the results of your online questionnaire, they develop two scents — one for work and one for play.

My work scent was created by Rodrigo Flores-Roux, whose Now Smell This profile credits him with over 70 fragrances including John Varvatos for Men (2004) and Calvin Klein Reveal Men (2015). Shipped straight to me at work, the cologne they delivered was a light citrus and woody scent that almost goes unnoticed until you’ve walked away — exactly what you need to make a subtle impression. As an occasional smoker, I like that it masks the odor of the cigarettes I not-so-secretly puff in the alley behind our building without smelling like I’ve spilled a bottle of cologne in an ashtray.

“To me, it has been very clear that consumers are less fragrance-friendly because they’re confused by too many offerings, too many launches, too many flankers, too many summer editions,” says Flores-Roux. “It would be great if all of us in the industry took a hiatus and reconvened in a year with a clear head and fresh ideas.”

My play scent was created by Olivier Gillotin, who shares credit for Calvin Klein Reveal Men with Flores-Roux. Other popular scents he’s created include Z Zegna for Men and Christian Dior Higher for Men.

Fresh and aquatic, the play cologne Hawthorne sent me matches my off-duty style of sporty joggers and tank tops. It’s also good in crowded nightclubs — it keeps you smelling like you just left the house even though you’re drinking and sweating away on the dance floor.

Overall, Hawthorne offers a pretty great deal. It’s $100 for the first two bottles, which is about what you’d pay for a single designer fragrance. Then it’s only $45 to refill each. Pick the one you like best, or keep both to really mix it up when it comes to your signature scents.