Valentine's Day is upon us; don't you feel the excitement? I have a date with my husband and I know what cologne I will be offering him (see below included in the list of perfume recommendations for V Day.) I have taken this opportunity to compile a list of perfumes I think are particularly sexy - men on the street tend to sniff harder around these or smile brighter smiles - or which alternatively have that reputation and that I plan to try. They are usually one of two kinds for me; either they offer a kind of dry, feminine, and sophisticated sillage which puts a certain seductive distance. Or they are perfumes that have been made to blend in particularly well with your skin. I am not referring to one's personal body chemistry but to fragrances that explicitly use ingredients or bases that enhance the scent of one's skin.
Perfumes as Love Potions
In popular parlance, terms like "love elixir" or "love philter" and even more commonly "love potion" have come to designate perfumes that have such mysterious effect ascribed to them as to be capable of arousing extreme sensual thoughts and even invite deeper amorous feelings through the sheer power of their scents. The very word "philter" speaks of love as it comes from Latin "philtrum" which borrowed the term from Greek "philtron" which in turn is derived from Greek "phileo" meaning "to love".
We see a transfer of meaning from the original notion regarding what a love potion is. Originally - and nowhere else is it more famously illustrated than in the myth of Tristan and Isolde in the West - a love potion would have had to have been ingurgitated so that the magical combination of the various ingredients contained in it would have had the effect of securing eternal love through their absorption.....
In popular folklore the tradition of love elixirs and their derivatives remained vivacious. These had to be drunk, eaten, touched, slept on, or, interestingly enough, more rarely inhaled. Village witches would offer their own local recipes. A book of magic like Le Petit Albert would be circulated in the countryside in France with recipes such as one advocating the use of marrow extracted from the left foot of a wolf to make an unguent that would make the person inhaling it fall deeper and deeper in love each time he or she would be smelling it. Today, we have the more modern equivalents of such books of magic spells in the dating literature usually appearing on tables in bookstores around Valentine's Day containing recipes mixing aromatic oils meant to make the mind and body more relaxed and receptive to amorous feelings.
Nowadays, we probably understand the expression "love potion" to be mostly metaphoric and to refer to a particularly sexy marketed packaged skin fragrance available on a store shelf. If we do not believe anymore literally in the efficacy of such love potions, except perhaps in places where magic is still actively practised, we still believe however that certain scents are more condusive to erotic thoughts than others.
Scientific researchers tend to lend support to that belief as for example scientific data have shown that lavender and pumpkin aromas are particularly erotic to American men. Mark Kristal, a professor of psychology from the University of Buffalo even goes as far as suggesting more generally "that the sense of smell in particular figures prominently among several physical elements that if they occur in a certain order, time and place, can result in true love."
In fact, fragrances retain a magical, alchemical quality about them for different reasons. Given a certain set of notes in a fragrance for example, it will still need to agree with our olfactory histories and body chemistries in the best possible way. Therefore choosing a perfume might possibly be a preface to a love encounter with the man or woman of your dreams but the very act of selecting the perfume itself and seeing if it clicks with one's body chemistry mimics by analogy the chemical bonding and the ideal that love is. As Dolce & Gabbana recently stressed with their new fragrance launch, we are fundamentally looking for "The One" even if that The One be plural given the range of choice available these days. Therefore perfume plays a more profound role than that of a passive cosmetic if only because it is also about a ritual, a reenactment of the Platonic ideal of love and harmony and a certain theatralization of that idea. It makes us feel concretely with our noses and minds the possibility of love and complementarity. It is a reminder of the love we experienced as children which forms the basis of our belief in love later in life. It is finally about sending a certain type of message once we wear our perfume of choice. It is like entering a room dressed in a shining yet invisible armour of love.
Perfume brands, both high-end and low-end, are well aware of the erotic mythological components of perfumes. The chic house of Guerlain continues to release fragrances explicitly called Philtre D'Amour (Love Philter) and Attrape-Coeur (To Catch a Heart) and our supermarket shelves are laden with musk scents of every denominations possible meant to have the same effect.
All perfumes, it could be argued, are fundamentally love concoctions that we hope will have an effect on our relationships with others within society. We want to be liked and appreciated through our perfume-wearing, be it in the office or in the boudoir. It does also help improve self-esteem as different psychological studies have shown. For example, a study conducted on Japanese women showed that women who wore scents during job interviews were more confident, fidgeting less and touching their hair less than the women who did not wear scents, which in the end was interpreted as a more professional attitude.
But on Valentine's Day we want something more specific, we want super sexy scents. So here are a few suggestions:
Top Sexy Women's Scents
• Love by Auric Blends - It is a very soft musk scent, you may not even smell it at first, but the drydown is very sexy, subtle and woody. Believe me, men notice it on the street to the point where one feels like not wearing it if unaccompanied. A great skin scent. The same brand carries Egyptian Goddess which is actually their best-seller. Another from the line, Majik, was voted best love potion by The New York Times.
• Ylang-Ylang essential oil - It works, it just works.
• Colonia by Acqua di Parma - this is perfect for a first date. It starts like a sophisticated citrusy and herbal cologne and ends up with a super sexy animalic drydown as time goes by. Don't let its fresh aspect fool you and remember that it was a favorite of Ava Gardner's, for good reason. Colonia Assoluta by the same brand is the reverse: the beginning of the scent is more sensual but the drydown is not as sexy as that of Colonia.
• Oropuro by Laura Tonatto - This scent's main accord is (synthetic) civet. A very sexual scent based on the paradoxical attractiveness of Scatol. It is better in the eau de parfum spray version than in the extract roll-on version.
• Carolina Herrera by Carolina Herrera - Application is key in this case. A tiny needle point size dab will do, more will turn your femme fatale weapon into a weapon to exterminate mosquitoes around you. If applied rightly, it unfolds some very indolic notes and even adds a sensation of olfactory saltiness to the skin. The result? You will feel like licking your arm and he will too hopefully. It is Carolina Herrera's signature scent.
• Knowing by Estée Lauder - Men from 3 to ...well, until they die, seem to love this scent. Smiles start floating unconsciously on their faces. A lady-like way of seducing coolly and smartly men in your wake.
• Silences by Jacomo - A sexy and elegant perfume - Also because my husband says so.
• Rive Gauche by Yves Saint Laurent - A killer sophisticated sillage
• Gucci Eau de Parfum by Gucci - A real love potion including some strange mystical notes - Also because my husband says so.
Top Sexy Men's Scents
• Rocabar by Hermès - Great success with the ladies!
• Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens - This smells incredible on a man.
• Azzaro by Azzaro - Seductive.
• Newport by Caswell-Massey - Very manly as I recall it.
• Yatagan by Caron - My gift to my husband because I want to see how this will smell on him. Added: He loves it! Dixit "That's my kind of scent."
If lavender is indeed particularly attractive to American men, then I would suggest wearing Jicky by Guerlain or Pour Un Homme by Caron, two great lavender classics.
Perfumes that are specifically designed to enhance your personal aura: Absolument Absinthe by Parfums d'Interdits, Special Formula X by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, the upcoming Aura by Thierry Mugler.
Please check Dusan Z's selection of top sexy scents for more masculine choices and a couple women's suggestions.
For Colonia by Acqua di Parma you can get it with 10 % off at Fragrances & More by using code Salamander 10 at checkout.