Most Romantic Perfume : In Anticipation of Valentine’s Day

Gujaratvogue

Although the earliest uses of fragrances were for the divine purposes (a word “perfume” is derived from the Latin “per fumum,” meaning “through smoke,” the smoke of sacrificial offerings,) the link of perfume and romance is likewise a strong one. With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought that it would be interesting to talk of romantic fragrances.

What perfumes do you find romantic? Do you have specific favorites to wear on romantic occasions?

For me, it is very simple–a romantic fragrance is above all the one that makes me feel beautiful, and many different scent can evoke this feeling. My selection runs gamut from opulent roses like by Kilian Rose Oud to sensual musks like Narciso Rodriguez for Her, from mysterious chypre like Sisley Soir de Lune to lush orientals like Tom Ford Black Orchid. When a perfume envelops me seductively the way Guerlain L’Heure Bleue or Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose do, I find it irresistible. In a different spirit, Caron Nuit de Noël has a strong aura of romance for me, given its suggestion of a quiet, snowy evening spent in front of the fireplace.

Edit: simply could not avoiding mention my favorite lush florals like Serge Lutens A La Nuit, Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower (my wedding perfume), Ormonde Jayne Frangipani and by Kilian Love & Tears. They always put me in a romantic mood!

Photograph by Tim Walker, Wadhwan, Gujarat (India) from egodesign.ca.  Thanks to Marcello for sharing this beautiful, romantic image with me.

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51 Comments

  • dee: First and foremost, WOW, what a stunning image. I want to live that photo.

    Romantic perfumes… that’s a good question! I’m trying to think what I’ve worn on our last few dates (the hubby and I have a standing weekly date), but the trouble is, I pick fragrance for mood more so than occasion.

    For the sake of answering the question, I’ll say Shamilar extrait.
    This gets probably more overall skin time than any other scent, and I turn to it when I want to feel especially feminine or sensual. The hubby wears it too, and it smells very sexy on him… also, I wear it often as my sleep scent.. so… yeah. ; ) February 5, 2011 at 1:58am Reply

  • Olfactoria: Like you, I think the most romantic scents are those that make me feel good about myself, enhance my self confidence and – no easy feat with my husband – should smell good to my love interest as well. So with that latter restriction I most often end up with gourmands – Shalimar Ode a la Vanille, Iris Ganache, Tonka Imperial. Very light and bright scents are also a good bet, such as Rose Ikebana or Ormonde Jayne Frangipani. I have to avoid anything remotely “grandmotherly” if I don’t want to hear “That stinks!” 🙂
    One question: Which version of Narciso Rodriguez do you prefer? EdT, EdP, intense or the Musk Oil? Thank you, V! February 5, 2011 at 2:46am Reply

  • rosarita: My most romantic perfume is Chanel Coco. I bought it when it first came out in the early 80s. That night, I met my husband. Coco remains a staple in my collection and my dear husband makes sure I always have a bottle on hand; it makes an easy anniversary gift choice for him, too. 🙂

    That photo is breathtaking! Sadly, the practical midwesterner in me visualizes how difficult it must have been to arrange that dress so perfectly, and how impossible it would be to actually wear it…which is why I love romance in perfume, to make that practical side disappear as much as she can! February 5, 2011 at 7:31am Reply

  • Ann C: My husband is much more visual than…hmm, what’s the word? Aware of fragrances, I guess. He often tells me that I smell “nice,” but the first time I wore Felanilla he gave me a rare spontaneous compliment (as opposed to when I stick my wrist under his nose and ask him what he thinks.) Others we both find warm and inviting are Shalimar Ode a la Vanille and Apom Pour Femme. February 5, 2011 at 8:17am Reply

  • Isa: My idea of a romantic perfume is something powdery in the lines of Teint de Neige or Love Chloé, a light rose like Shanti Shanti or Rosine Écume de Rose, or some floral like Serge Lutens Nuit de Cellophane or Lancôme Miracle.

    And I love By Kilian Back to Black for romantic moments too, although I’m not sure if this is a romantic perfume. February 5, 2011 at 9:21am Reply

  • Victoria: Back to Black is a romantic perfume to me, because it has such a sensual, warm sillage. It seems to envelop you and others around into a warm embrace. February 5, 2011 at 9:49am Reply

  • Victoria: I remember that the first fragrance my husband loved on me was Serge Lutens A La Nuit. In the beginning of a new courtship, one is always so careful to choose an appropriate fragrance, something memorable, but not overwhelming.
    I still remember how I was told by one date that he disliked my Tresor. I ditched the date, kept Tresor, and still think that I made the right decision. 🙂 February 5, 2011 at 9:51am Reply

  • Victoria: That is such a beautiful memory! I feel the same way about A La Nuit (in my comment to Ann.)

    >>which is why I love romance in perfume, to make that practical side disappear as much as she can!

    Very true! I also love this photo for its marvelous, romantic character. I wonder what perfume would result if this photo were used as an inspiration for the perfumers… February 5, 2011 at 9:55am Reply

  • Victoria: I wore Frangipani in the evening last night, and what a beautiful romantic fragrance it is! I find that all of Ormonde Jayne fragrances have a strong romantic aura, so I am hard pressed to find the one that I do not like.

    Do you have any favorites from the line?

    As for NR for Her, I wear the EDP, because I like the balance between the musk, woody and floral-rose notes best in it. Actually, all of the versions are excellent. Another one I like very much in the same genre is Guerlain Idylle. That one is even stronger on rose (a beautiful rose too!) February 5, 2011 at 9:58am Reply

  • Victoria: You, me, rosarita… Yes, I want to live in that moment. Such a striking blend of delicate and seductive.

    I do not necessarily pick for the occasion either, but I noticed that there are certain fragrances, to which I gravitate when I am in a romantic mood. Shalimar sounds wonderful!
    I also remember that both of you like to wear Agent Provocateur. 🙂 February 5, 2011 at 10:00am Reply

  • dee: True fact! But that’s for dates where we stay in 😉
    Good memory V! Most of the fragrances in our house end up being “shared” fragrances, which is just fine with me! February 5, 2011 at 10:57am Reply

  • Victoria: Someone just asked me for rose fragrances for men, and I recommended Agent Provocateur among some others. I think that it would smell fantastic on a man! It is not particularly sweet, and that mossy-patchouli drydown is very sensual. February 5, 2011 at 11:27am Reply

  • Olfactoria: My favorite OJ scent is Tolu, but it is so hard to pick just one, I love them all 🙂
    Idylle is indeed lovely, very similar to NR. I am looking forward to smell Idylle Duet, have you tried it already? February 5, 2011 at 11:49am Reply

  • Victoria: I have not tried Idylle Duet yet, but I think that it will be available soon. Somehow, more variations on that theme did not interest me, but I am curious about the new flanker to La Petite Robe Noire. February 5, 2011 at 12:45pm Reply

  • ambrox: Guerlain Habit Rouge and Derby are romantic to me. Very different, but both have what you call “an aura of romance.” February 5, 2011 at 12:53pm Reply

  • ambrox: I wish Agent Provocateur had masculine fragrances too. I bet they would be very interesting! February 5, 2011 at 12:54pm Reply

  • Katy: What a beautiful photo and a fun topic! I am with you, the most romantic perfume is the one that makes me feel beautiful and elegant. For me, it is Carnal Flower, Mona di Orio Lux, L’Artisan La Haie Fleurie, Sonoma Scents Studio Rose Musc. Rose Musc is my husband’s favorite. February 5, 2011 at 1:11pm Reply

  • Katy: Sigh… me too, perfume and romance go hand in hand for me for this same reason. February 5, 2011 at 1:15pm Reply

  • sweetlife: Romance…

    I am with you on the A La Nuit, V. That’s the first one that came to mind. There is something swoony and unabashed about it.

    Tiempe Passate, from Antonia’s Flowers I also find romantic–very tender, very intimate. So much so that I don’t wear it as often as it deserves to be worn. I feel too defenseless.

    In fact, it strikes me that I don’t have many truly romantic scents. Seductive, yes. Simple happiness, yes. And many other things. But not so much, with the romance. February 5, 2011 at 4:12pm Reply

  • sweetlife: Oh goodness. Had to come back and add Songes, which I really should have remembered, since I was married in it! February 5, 2011 at 4:32pm Reply

  • Victoria: I agree,I would like to see what they would do as a sexy, masculine fragrance. February 5, 2011 at 5:05pm Reply

  • Victoria: Habit Rouge is definitely romantic to me in that baroque, opulent way. February 5, 2011 at 5:06pm Reply

  • Victoria: Elegant choices! I know that it is a rather personal thing after all, but I still found it fun to make a list of what I think as romantic. February 5, 2011 at 5:08pm Reply

  • Victoria: Angela, I love these ones too. I especially love seeing Le Dix on your list, which is such a beautiful fragrance and perhaps does not get as much praise as it should. February 5, 2011 at 5:10pm Reply

  • Victoria: A, I know, for me, it is a rather mood related selection, but the ones on my list are the perfumes I would reach for the most on a romantic occasion. I love your description of Tiempe Passate as tender and intimate and how it makes you feel when you wear it. It makes such a perfect sense to me, although in regards to another perfume–Diorissimo.

    Seductive perfume, now that is a whole different topic and there is so much to be said on it. Maybe, it should be explored further, no? February 5, 2011 at 5:17pm Reply

  • Victoria: Songes! Me too, I have not been wearing it for the past year much, but I completely agree with you, it has that enveloping, tender quality that I find irresistible. February 5, 2011 at 5:18pm Reply

  • Musette: LOL! All I could think of was how COLD she must be (as I sit here, shivering in my head-to-toe fleece! ) Nonetheless, it is a gorgeous image.

    I can think of a bunch of seductive fragrances…but romantic is a bit more difficult, since romance itself is so elusive a notion – consider how many planned romantic moments fall flat…and how many prosaic moments suddenly turn ultra-romantic!

    For downright sensual, I would have to say modern Femme and Carnal Flower.

    xxoxoA February 5, 2011 at 6:03pm Reply

  • Victoria: It is interesting what you say about romance and very true. I consider myself a romantic person, but I absolutely detest the banality of roses, heart-shaped chocolate and lots of candles. You know, that sort of stilted, trying-too-hard to be romantic thing. For me, romantic evening can be just watching a movie together, taking a walk, or having a nice conversation and sharing something delicious. Nothing formal, nothing overly planned. For me, the best romance is in the simplest details.

    And what a great choice of Femme! While Carnal Flower is something I wear often (and I feel that I take it for granted a bit :), Femme is definitely a Carmen of the fragrance world for me. February 5, 2011 at 6:33pm Reply

  • Marina: For lighthearted romance, definitely Lipstick Rose. For something already much more emotionally charged, Aftelier Tango 🙂 February 5, 2011 at 6:43pm Reply

  • OperaFan: What I think is a “Romantic” perfume is anything that my husband likes on me. He rarely comments since I wear so many (which he’s also noted), but I do believe he likes a lot more than he says.
    One of the first he ever commented on was L’Heure Bleu. Others have included SSS’s Vintage Rose and Sienna Musk, and I’m quite sure that he liked my wedding perfume: Joy edp layered with AG Rose Absolue edp.
    a:) February 5, 2011 at 7:26pm Reply

  • dee: V., AP is one of those that I think smells even better on “him” than on “her.” It totally changes the context—it’s sensual, but on him it somehow seems less skanky or risque. February 5, 2011 at 7:37pm Reply

  • Victoria: I can definitely imagine that. This begs to be explored further! February 5, 2011 at 7:55pm Reply

  • Victoria: Oh, for the photo, the first time I saw it, I was thinking, “poor thing, she must have been dying of heat!” The coldest it gets in Gujarat is about 80F. But considering that I am myself wrapped heat to toe in sweaters, Gujarat is the place where I want to be right now. 🙂 February 5, 2011 at 7:57pm Reply

  • Victoria: 🙂 I think that Aftelier Tango sounds ravishing in that context.
    The one I love is Lotus, but I also have a few others on my list, such as Candide. February 5, 2011 at 7:59pm Reply

  • Victoria: Joy edp layered with AG Rose Absolue edp sounds heavenly. What a wonderful idea! I can just imagine how Rose Absolue would enhance the beautiful rose notes of Joy EDP. I am very tempted to experiment (as long as I can figure out which one of my boxes contains Joy EDP and which Annick Goutal Rose. 🙂 I can also imagine that the jasmine richer EDT would be perfect with a jasmine soliflore. February 5, 2011 at 8:03pm Reply

  • Heidi: For dates, nothing beats SSS Sienna Musk: it’s warm and nutmeggy and musky, and never fails to make people lean and murmur “you smell good…” Here in the Pacific Northwest, florals scare everyone, and Sienna Musk is one I can wear and still feel coquettish with compromising, since I love how it smells on me!

    But when I’m going out by myself to hear music or dance, I love Ysatis or Carnal Flower– I feel like a grown woman with an otherworldly aura… February 5, 2011 at 8:55pm Reply

  • OperaFan: Well, I haven’t tried to overdose the jasmin facet of Joy, but I have mentioned on NST how I loved the combination of Joy layered over Apres L’Ondee edt. You may want to try that one also – would love to hear/read your reaction. If you don’t like tampering with the melancholy aspect of AL’O, it might not be a good idea.
    Just for your reference, my Joy was purchased ’99 and the AG Rose ’02. February 5, 2011 at 8:56pm Reply

  • OperaFan: Oops – I meant to reply to your reply, above Heidi’s… February 5, 2011 at 8:57pm Reply

  • Victoria: Sienna Musk sounds wonderful. I love NR for Her for this same reason, it is coquettish, yet with a twist. Different from heavier, fur coat musks like Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan. February 5, 2011 at 9:06pm Reply

  • Angela Cox: Sa Majeste la Rose , Une Rose , Amouage Dia,Joy,Lily and Spice ( Penhaligons),Le Dix ,Vintage Arpege. February 5, 2011 at 4:08pm Reply

  • Victoria: The combination of Joy and Apres L'Ondee really interests me. And it might be easier to accomplish in short term, because I have a bottle of Apres L'Ondee on my dresser and I think I know where my Joy is. Thank you for this inspiration to play! 🙂 February 5, 2011 at 9:08pm Reply

  • Victoria: Oh, and I forgot to mention. I have an article someplace, in which Jean Claude Ellena proposes various layering ideas. A few of them involve layering different Guerlain fragrances. I will try to find it. I recall some ideas were very good. February 5, 2011 at 9:12pm Reply

  • linda: I agree Victoria…that a romantic fragrance should make one feel beautiful. I always feel such a lift … of heart and spirit when I wear OJ Frangipani (transports me to such romantic places where plumaria, jasmine and tuberose grow so effortlessly. (I have a bottle on the way btw…simply cannot wait!)
    I too love A La Nuit (one of my first perfume purchases), Cristalle EDT, Carnal Flower and Songes.
    Isn’t the perfume world wonderful? With just a spritz, our hearts are lifted, warmed and we smile at the reflection in our lovers eyes.
    Magic. February 5, 2011 at 11:34pm Reply

  • Victoria: Linda, how well said! It really does not take much to change one’s mood or even that of others. Perfume is the most portable form of beauty to me, and a subject on which one can say so much.
    We definitely share lots of favorites in our romantic choices! February 6, 2011 at 9:44am Reply

  • columbine: i like “à la nuit” very much but recently discovered that “Sarazin” also very strong on Jasmine, as if “à la nuit” was actually a “jasmin de jour” whereas “sarazin” would be the night version…hum, just a thought. February 7, 2011 at 5:55pm Reply

  • Victoria: Ah, what a lovely idea! I think that it works out perfectly. In fact, I have even ended up layering them for a nice effect. A La Nuit is still among my favorite jasmines, although I also love by Kilian Love & Tears. February 7, 2011 at 7:35pm Reply

  • OperaFan: Sorry for this late reply, V – I’m a huge proponent for layering because it’s an inexpensive way to create a “bespoke” and as you can see – I’ve “created” some very nice ones. If JCE has ideas, please let me know when you find that article! (my alias at hotmail is “mollyseb”….) February 10, 2011 at 10:52am Reply

  • Victoria: M, I found it!! It was originally posted on MUA by Bela, who translated it from French.

    Jean-Claude Ellena’s perfume layering suggestons

    No5 de Chanel
    to enhance Iris: Après l’Ondée (Guerlain)
    to enhance Masculine notes, aldehydes and lavender: Tabac Original….. February 10, 2011 at 11:06am Reply

  • Joan: I am going to second Carnal Flower. To me it’s a bit more….carnal than romantic, but still fits the field. So does Joy. The dusky rose of By Kilian Liaisons Dangereuses is what comes to mind.

    L’Heure Bleue is romantic as well, in the old-fashioned fantastical sense more than in the love sense, I think. February 11, 2011 at 10:54am Reply

  • Victoria: That is another by Kilian I really like! February 11, 2011 at 2:07pm Reply

  • Yulya: rosarita, what a beautiful story! Interestingly enough, my first thought was also about Chanel Coco… Having said that, my wedding fragrance was Chanel No. 5 which has always been my signature fragrance. But Coco… There is something about this perfume that is hard to describe. Romantic? Yes, I think so. February 7, 2012 at 6:12pm Reply

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