Fragrance Friday: CoSTUME National Secret Woods Is Surprisingly Sensual

secrets woods

Welcome to Fragrance Friday, where each week we’ll be keeping you abreast of the newest and most iconic releases in the dynamic world of men’s fragrances. Born out of the desire to showcase one of the most overlooked, yet versatile, elements of any discerning man’s style this weekly column will help you finesse your own signature scent.

It’s been a few weeks since we dipped into a new fragrance. Owing to the holiday chaos, the last fragrance I spotlighted was in early December with the very soap-like Santa Maria Novella Melograno. Now is as good a time as any to reboot this deep-dive into only the best men’s perfumes – ones we ourselves have been enjoying at the BH office and think could add something substantial to your personal style.

Earlier on in the life of this column, I took a look at what is still one of my personal favourites, that being CoSTUME National HOMME Parfum – a very attractive, summery concoction topped mostly by moreish sparkling grapefruit. The fruity, citrus-led parfum is still a stunner, even as summer begins to die down.



Although, it’s far from the only men’s fragrance from the famed Italian fashion house that I’ve been overenthusiastically spritzing recently.

Representing something completely different from HOMME Parfum is CoSTUME National Secret Woods, a fougere-oriental Eau de Parfum with a serious hit of spice. The nose behind this is the dependable Julien Rasquinet, who is clearly tapping into his love of Middle Eastern perfumery by moving CoStume National towards the spice-heavy markets the region is known for. This is illustrated mainly by the use of bergamot, nutmeg, and saffron in the first half of this fragrance’s fascinating life, seamlessly connected with the leathery notes in the base.

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The perfume sits in an attractive transparent deep blue green that’s nicely aligned with the brand’s other bottles, the hues mirroring the idea of forests, woods, and vegetation. Something more grounded in natural notes is clearly something Rasquinet wanted to communicate, working with artist Ennio Capsasa for the elegant vessel. Albeit, it’s not as ostentatious as the bottles that represent some Middle Eastern houses (Amouage comes to mind), but what’s inside the bottle is unmistakably leaning closer to Dubai than the Mediterranean – which is pretty much the dichotomy most perfumes work into these days.

Saffron and leather seem to be the two biggest notes CoSTUME National are marketing Secrets Woods on. That’s reasonable, but I find the delicate Balkan juniper on the top to be the most interesting, gluing together grapefruit (slight) and bergamot accord (strong) for a stunning opening show.

The heart comes through first with nutmeg and saffron, and then with styrax in the back. It’s a great way to keep that home spice vibe alive and offer something beautifully distinctive for those who like a bit of a peppery hit with their fragrances. The strength, which seems to lack the projection of HOMME Parfum, is suitable for any season.

Those woody nuances start to appear in the dry-down with a base of sandalwood, patchouli, leather, and vetiver. All very standard here, except the interaction the base notes have with the lingering heart is incredibly robust and should easily make Secret Woods a bit of a weapon when it comes to creating presence. The earthy strength of vetiver is especially potent here, but it would likely be too dry if it wasn’t for the more complex, creamy patchouli doing much of the heavy lifting. Thankfully, traces of the nutmeg seems to stick around to help round out a sumptuous profile.



Top notes: Grapefruit, bergamot accord, Balkan juniper.
Middle notes: Nutmeg, saffron, styrax.
Base notes: Sandalwood, patchouli, leather, vetiver for life LMR.

CoSTUME National Secret Woods is now available in Australia at $199 for a 100ml bottle.