What fragrance should I wear/buy for Valentine’s Day? This question remains one of the top reader queries I get around this time of the year (although nothing beats the good old “what turns wo(men) on?”) The fact is that there is no perfect fragrance that would suit all moods and all personality types. At the same time, some notes have distinct romantic connotations because of their sensual quality. Rose is the first one that comes to mind; however, since this topic has been covered extensively by me and others in the past (for instance, please see my article “From White to Red, From Chaste to Seductive: Many Faces of Rose”), I decided to look for a fresh approach. I chose seven notes which are undeniable sensual and aphrodisiac and which provide an endless source of fascination. Of course, while the list below strongly reflects my own preferences, I am eager to hear your thoughts.
A clue to the identity of a beautiful brunette depicted in a painting by Caravaggio was none other than a branch of jasmine she is clasping to her breast. Jasmine, a symbol of love and sensuality since ancient times, identified the woman as a courtesan, rather than a married donna as she was long perceived to be. Inhaling the potent aroma of jasmine—the scent of flowers melting into hot skin, of animalic notes under the rich apricot glaze, one cannot but be moved by its power.
Although nothing can rival the scent of jasmine in the warm evening air, one can seduce oneself and others with fragrances like Serge Lutens A La Nuit (opulent, balsamic jasmine), Annick Goutal Songes (romantic, multifaceted jasmine,) Frédéric Malle Le Parfum de Thérèse (jasmine as smouldering and yet distant as a Hitchcockian blonde,) Van Cleef & Arpels First (ravishing classic.) If you are new to exploring rich floral notes, I would particularly recommend L’Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse Aux Papillons, which is as light as a spring breeze (and to this day remains the top seller for L’Artisan).
Leather, honey, spice and flowers, the scent of saffron possesses an amazing voluptuousness. When I prepared my Valentine’s Day dinner last year, saffron received its due in shrikhand, an Indian rosewater and saffron mousse. I love the way saffron lingers on the palate, revealing all of its beautiful facets.
When it comes to perfume, a unique musky-leather note of saffron has more of a supporting role. In a gorgeous Ormonde Jayne Ta’if, it rounds out the opulent rose and tempers the sweetness of dates and honey. However, smell L’Artisan Parfumeur Safran Troublant and discover what a beautiful prima ballerina saffron can make—it combines depth and complexity with an unusual lightness. Needless to say, one can hardly resist it.
“The Sandal Tree as if to prove,
How sweet to conquer hate by love,
Perfumes the axe that lays it low.” Rabindranath Tagore, Indian poet.
The scent of sandalwood is unlike that of any other wood. Milky and creamy, it recalls the aroma of skin as well as rose petals. It evokes velvet and the color red for me, while it immediately puts me in a serene mindset, which is ideal for a romantic evening.
Sadly, natural sandalwood has been so overharvested as to place it out of the perfumers’ reach (with very few exceptions). Most of the fragrances are now formulated either with sandalwood aroma-materials, which can be spectacular (such as Givaudan’s Javanol) or Australian sandalwood, a material which possesses little of the Indian sandalwood’s beauty. Nonetheless, I am still charmed by Corso Como (a rosy, velvety sandalwood), Diptyque Tam Dao (drier, cedarwood accented fragrance), and Lubin Idole de Lubin (rich, yet translucent rendition liberally embellished by spices). For a classical femme fatale fragrance, few can rival the gorgeous Chanel Bois des Iles. Moreover, a comment below reminded me of how much I love Serge Lutens Santal de Mysore, a striking rich sandalwood with a delicious spicy overtone. I can only blame the jet lag for omitting it. Finally, Costes roomspray and candle are a wonderful way to infuse your ambience with the mysterious aroma of sandalwood.
Please see Part II of Romantic Notes.
Image is courtesy of Marina, Perfume Smellin’ Things.