Masculinity messaging from Sweden

It started with an ad (on my Facebook page yesterday) from the Ron Dorff company (previously unknown to me) that struck me for its reserved erotic message:

(#1) [from the accompanying text:] The very first fragrance by Ron Dorff [Paris – Stockholm] Discipline Sport Pour Homme: Fresh, clean, and refreshing, the perfect reinvigorating scent after a tough session at the gym. Get $10 off the full-size bottle.

Notes on the photo. A handsome, “naturally” well-muscled (rather than gym-ripped) young man, shot in soft focus, wearing only a standard white gym towel, resting his arms against his legs (touching his body — this is significant). His haircut is conventional. His face is very lightly scruffy, his body utterly smooth and dry, almost ethereally beautiful: an idealized beautiful male body. The towel, however, is fastened to make a V pointing towards his crotch; and a small bottle of Ron Dorff Discipline Sport is tucked into it, pointing up, so that it mimics an erect — reinvigorated — penis peeking above the towel.

The model’s facial expression is open but neutral, calm: no hint of either seductiveness towards or aggressive advance on the viewer. Everything is understated.

The name of the fragrance echoes the company’s current slogan:


where discipline means ‘(self-)reserve’, not an externally imposed regimen, as in army discipline; and certainly not the discipline of B&D, bondage and discipline. In fact, discipline (in this sense) is the company’s watchword (NOAD on the noun watchword: a word or phrase expressing a person’s or group’s core aim or belief: the watchword for the market is be prepared for anything).

In any case, the overall effect is of calm, composed eroticism. The model is physically attractive but there’s nothing urgent in the way he’s presented — merely quietly inviting. Try my cologne, he suggests: maybe you could be (someone like) me, maybe you could have (someone like) me.

Further note. It then came as a surprise to me that in the Ron Dorff world the ad in #1 is what counts for outrageously flagrant in its erotic appeals. The company’s main product line for men is sportswear that is absolutely, solidly masculine, but in remarkably unobtrusive, understated ways; the company offers masterpieces of conspicuous unconspicuousness. Apparently designed to offer no flash of peacock self-display — nothing macho — and no erotic appeal whatsoever.

The company in effect denies that it’s in the fashion business at all, that would be unmasculine, it’s all sportswear and underwear for men (apparently, no jockstraps, presumably because they would be too carnal) — for a man who sees himself, in the things you can get printed on the company’s amazingly expensive t-shirts and sweatshirts, as:


(I note that most of sportswear also comes in stratospherically expensive cashmere versions. Sometimes a man just wants that softness against his skin.) The Ron Dorff Man is, first, a Guy Guy (he needs that sportswear for working out at the gym with the other guys), but also a Good Guy (an earnest, family-oriented man with a sweet disposition).

The maximally racy Ron Dorff  Underwear Man. (Ads for other apparel have more expressive leeway.) One photo, for Y-front briefs, will do. They all look like poses for medical records: neutral lighting, stiff frontal pose, expressionless faces, hands at sides away from the body (no touching himself). The underwear is simple, functional, with no visible identifying label. Its pouch is as sexless as possible. What makes this one racy for the territory is that it’s pink — well, the palest pink imaginable, really just a kind of off-white:

(#2) RD very slightly pink briefs: self-effacing

Ad copy:

Make up your own Y-Front Briefs Weekend Kit [$100] including 3 iconic, no frills, no logo Y-fronts inspired by the model developed for the Swedish Army in the 70s. Choose among 7 different colors [white, pink (very pale), grey melange, black, Arctic blue (very pale), khaki, navy]. Designed with a tapered fit and cut in the finest Jersey cotton with a hint of elastane for a guaranteed fit wash after wash. Elastic waistband covered by fabric for ultimate comfort and reinforced top stitching. Only sign of recognition, the two discrete, embroidered RD eyelets tone-on-tone. The Weekend Kit comes in a chic black box with a functional magnetic closure.

Libfix note. One of the RD categories of menswear is homewear, a subcategory of underwear, along with briefs and boxers:; homewear includes shorts, underwear tank tops, pyjama shorts and pants, long johns, and t-shirts. Yet another instance of the libfix –wear. Note that homowear is something entirely other, and that there’s no homowear in RD’s homewear (though other firms offer homewear (in RD’s sense) that’s also, dramatically, homowear).

But to return to Discipline, the men’s fragrance. Remember that this is RD’s first venture in the fragrance world; it looks like they’re not fully plugged into it yet.

From their site, some basic perfumery talk:

Discipline Sport Pour Homme, a fresh and woody scent that accentuates your personal style. A disciplined scent based on a blend of crisp citrus to awaken, balanced out by Nordic pine with undertones of intoxicating woods.

… SCENT PROFILE: Bergamot, Lemon Zest, Watermint, Cardamom TOP, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Cedarwood HEART, Violet Leaves, Nordic Pine, Lentiscus Absolute BASE

And in the middle of that, this offer:

Try before you buy: Order a Discovery Size [0.1 oz / 3 ml for $9.95] and get a coupon for $10 off the full size bottle.

Here’s the thing: if you just want to find out how big a full size bottle is and how much it costs — or if you’re so enchanted by the description above that you want to forge ahead and buy a full size bottle — you’re flat out of luck, because, I swear, there is no place, at the moment, on the RD site where you can do either of those things. Nor does there seem to be any specialty shop (like Sephora) or department store (like Nordstrom) that, at the moment, has Discipline Sport Pour Homme to sell you.

Apparently the Discovery Size is all there is. You have to order it (from RD) even to find out how big the full size might be and what it might cost.True, $9.95 is really cheap for any kind of serious perfume / cologne, but then 0.1 oz is a really tiny bottle.

Meanwhile, having spent so much time — with a bit of pleasure, a lot of chuckles, and a certain amount of dismay — exploring the RD site, my Facebook page is being inundated with more ads for men’s fragrances. (As it happens, my current adventures in fragrance products are limited to Mysore Sandal Soap from India and a JĀSÖN Purifying Tea Tree [Melaleuca] Deodorant Stick, both used sparingly. Otherwise, it’s AZ Musk, a “distillation of locker room”*, of my own creation.) [* “– but in a good way”, my, um, buddy hastily added]



2 Responses to “Masculinity messaging from Sweden”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    Among the fragrance ads that have piled up in the past couple of hours: one for Ranger Station. I know, it’s supposed to evoke all that good woodsy masculine stuff, but it suggests to me the smell of a ranger who’s been stuck alone at his station too long.

  2. John Baker Says:

    The picture at seems to indicate that a full-size bottle is 3.4 fluid oz. (100 ml). But there is no indication of its price or how one might purchase it. Apparently the only way to acquire the full-size bottle is to buy the Discovery Size, at which point this information will be revealed.

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