Warning: I strongly advise against smelling Caron's Third Man alongside or anywhere near nine out of ten so-called masculines. All kinds of trippy mental-emotional adjustments might ensue. Third Man is really just too lovely for this world, according to many. It does have some weird, spectral quality to it, part floral, part piquant, but its uniqueness among masculines hardly makes it a feminine, however often you'll be told otherwise. Trust me: women know the difference. The comments I receive from the ladies have always been strictly of scientific interest to me, but I can tell you that I have never worn Third Man or even opened the bottle in the presence of a woman without being made aware of the stuff's aphrodisiac properties and the implications of my gender.
Third Man references various feminine compositions the way John Travolta's long hair and bedroom eyes referenced female "sensitivity" in the seventies. Caron's third masculine, it teeters like no other male fragrance on a line very few had the balls to venture. Even now, twenty-five years later, masculines approach this line not by walking it but by blurring it. Third Man is a magic act, an ode to classic male beauty, capturing it in a perfect contrapuntal pose, one shoulder still dipping into childish androgyny, the other pointing toward manhood. Some will tell you that the high shoulder isn't quite reaching high enough. For me, it's all just so, and just right. I can't remember a time Third Man struck me as too girly--yet I wouldn't call it a dandy fragrance either. It doesn't have an arch bone in its body, nor does it have a deliberate sense of Wildean irony.
I've seen the notes listed as oakmoss, vetiver, clove, lavender, coriander, bergamot, and citron. I've also seen anise, geranium and carnation, though I'd be hard pressed to identify them. The clove is used subtly. I've smelled an older bottle of Third Man, and I actually prefer the current formulation, which seems both softer and more crystalline to me, its structure more clearly defined. Its dulcet allure relates interestingly to Pour un Homme, another classic Caron masculine, while having very little relation to Yatagan and Anarchiste. The lasting power is impressive, and on my skin it goes through the kind of subtle permutations of development one would expect from such an impossibly lovely composition, the smell of dewy jasmine and the last faint traces of quality after shave on a starched tux. Best of all, you can get a 4.2 ounce bottle online for somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty bucks.