Perfume and Romance : Top 10 Valentine’s Day Favorites

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What is a romantic perfume? A few years ago, I structured my Valentine’s Day post around the perfume notes that I found romantic and seductive: jasmine, saffron, sandalwood and furs & ambers, leather, honey, fig. I still like the idea of conveying a certain mood through scent, but I realize that there is much more to the romance of perfume than its list of notes. The most romantic perfume is not a magic potion designed to seduce him, but rather a fragrance that makes me feel beautiful. An opulent composition like Annick Goutal Grand Amour does the trick on some days, while on others the austere Bulgari Black seems more appropriate.

However, a range spanning Grand Amour to Black encompasses just about all fragrance genres. To narrow them down to a list of ten, I included those perfumes that both make me feel good and elicit compliments from my friends, family and my Valentine. In other words, they are the fragrances I enjoy wearing and sharing with those around me. And what is more romantic than sharing pleasure!

Annick Goutal Songes

From the heady core of jasmine and ylang-ylang to the warm drydown of musk and sandalwood, Songes feels like a passionate kiss.

Arquiste Anima Dulcis

Caramel, honey, chocolate, cinnamon… Anima Dulcis is a baroque composition that oscillates between dark woods and a mouthwatering dessert before, in a surprising twist, becoming a beautiful amber.

Etat Libre d’Orange Like This

Like This is a rich blend of woods and roses, with immortelle adding its spicy maple syrup note. However, its aura is wistful, even introspective. A gem!

Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose and Neela Vermeire Creations Mohur

I used to think that Lipstick Rose was the perfume equivalent of Sophia Loren, a dazzling bombshell. These days it strikes me more as the intense and sultry Alida Valli. The initial embrace of rose and violet is coquettish and pretty, but as soon as Lipstick Rose reveals its earthy layer of vetiver and woods, it becomes smoldering. In a similarly opulent vein is my newest femme fatale rose discovery, Neela Vermeire Creations Mohur. It arranges the velvety rose against an intricate base of sandalwood and oud.

Guerlain Parure

Guerlain has made the most unfortunate decision of discontinuing Parure, and I am still in mourning. Parure festoons the honeyed rose and plum with the earthy notes of moss and patchouli. A whisper of lilac lends this rich blend an unexpectedly soft accent.

Hermès Hiris

Hiris is a soft and understated accord of iris and musk, a fragrance that tempts others to lean in closer.

L’Artisan Traversée du Bosphore

A violet bonbon, a swirl of tobacco smoke, a dash of rose petals. Traversée du Bosphore opens up on an ebullient fruity note before settling into the warm powdery drydown.

Parfum d’Empire Eau Suave

Rose and musk may seem like a familiar idea, but when each element is perfect, it is nothing short of spellbinding. This is the case with Eau Suave, a bold red rose perfume wrapped into a creamy layer of musk and accented with coriander and saffron.

Serge Lutens A La Nuit

My jasmine gold standard! A sumptuous veil of jasmine tinted with sandalwood and vanilla.

Vero Profumo Rubj

Why did it take me this long to discover Vero Profumo? Better sooner than later, however, and I am making up for my delay by my mad love affair with Rubj. Based on orange blossom, Rubj is one of the most opulent compositions I have smelled recently. It is also brilliant and evocative, smelling of warm skin, overripe fruit and night blooming flowers. My Valentine asked me if I could please wear it today, and I gladly agreed.

What fragrances make you feel most beautiful? What are you going to wear today?

For other Top 10 Winter Favorite lists, please visit Grain de Musc :: Now Smell This :: Perfume Posse :: Perfume Smellin’ Things

Image: a scene from In the Mood for Love, one of my favorite love stories.

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43 Comments

  • Suzanna: This list made me smile. It’s a “very V.” list that moves from the delicately feminine to the bombshell dramatic.

    My newest love is Nasomatto Nuda, which I like just as well as A la Nuit. Am not a rose/violet type of romantic, so the opulent jasmine of each of these scents is better suited to me.

    Have not tried Rubj due to prohibitive cost. Darn it. Now I will have to. Love that your hubby asked you to wear it. Any frag that a man requests on a day of romance is worth investigating. Enjoy the day! February 14, 2012 at 6:40am Reply

  • nstephens@beachcroft.com: How I love lists! Songes was on my list of possibilities for today as was Nuit de Tubereuse but I went for Liaisons Dangereuses in the end (here’s hoping!)A friend of mine smells absolutely gorgeous in Rubj (extrait). How do you find the difference between the extrait and the EDP?
    Happy Valentines Day!
    Nicola February 14, 2012 at 7:37am Reply

  • Austenfan: As I have a slight stomach bug bothering me, and we don’t really have the Valentine tradition, I am wearing Ninfeo Mio which is green and bitter enough to be worn with a troubled stomach. Love it.
    I have been wearing Rien a lot lately. I have nearly finished my first sample and have another one still untouched. It is such a gorgeous scent! February 14, 2012 at 8:36am Reply

  • Anne: Wearing meteorites de guerlain. I still have a tiny amount left and it s discontinued. It smells just like the powder, makes me feels ultra feminine ready to recieve my roses. Happy valentine February 14, 2012 at 9:02am Reply

  • Maureen: I am wearing Chanel #5 eau Premier…it just makes me feel pretty.
    Happy Valentines Day. February 14, 2012 at 10:43am Reply

  • Elizabeth: I adore Lipstick Rose, and of course I am wearing it today with my bright red sweater and Mac Chili lipstick! I have always thought that its common characterization as a fluffy pinup girl scent was very unfair. It is not that at all! I think of a 1940s lady just like Alida Valli, who was in The Third Man, one of my favorite movies ever. February 14, 2012 at 10:54am Reply

  • Anne: Oh I forget about that one! It does make me feel pretty and polished too! February 14, 2012 at 11:47am Reply

  • Elisa: I just put on Un Crime Exotique, a decant of which I received from a fellow perfumista in the mail yesterday. It is a spice bomb!

    As for what scent makes me feel *most* beautiful, I think that is still Beyond Love … February 14, 2012 at 12:28pm Reply

  • karin: I’m wearing 100% Love! Roses and chocolate. 🙂 February 14, 2012 at 2:01pm Reply

  • Jessica M: I am wearing Lipstick Rose today! Happy Valentine’s Day, dear V. February 14, 2012 at 2:26pm Reply

  • Acrossbee: Hi! I can’t decide between Caron’s Or et Noir or Etro’s Vicolo Fiori. I tend to go with Or et Noir for evening but I think my husband is partial to Vicolo Fiori, so I’ll probably go with that for dinner tonight. February 14, 2012 at 2:35pm Reply

  • Penelope: No special Valentine’s Day celebration for me, as we would rather choose a different day, but did spend the day in Venice. Can’t get much more romantic than that ! I’m still wearing Bottega Veneta eau de parfum almost every day, as the weather is still very cold, and I love that soft, comforting leather. February 14, 2012 at 4:07pm Reply

  • Liane: Great list, and you’ve inspired me to pull out my bottle of Lipstick Rose. Bring on the chocolate! February 14, 2012 at 4:32pm Reply

  • Perfumista8: Happy Valentine’s Day! How interesting- when considering your question, I realized that, for me feeling pretty is about feeling very feminine. It’s different than when I think about feeling sexy or strong although those adjectives are certainly part of being feminine. I feel pretty wearing Balenciaga Paris, Songes, Kilan’s Rose Oud, TF Violet Blond, Bond’s Chinatown and Le Dix. February 14, 2012 at 4:46pm Reply

  • Kate: My valentine is an incense addict so today it is CDC’s Avignon. We try to save it for special times so we thought that today being love day would be a great day to wear it. Valentine love in an ancient cathedral.. February 14, 2012 at 4:49pm Reply

  • Victoria: Suzanna, I promised a narrower range than Grand Amour to Black, but the end result is just as diverse. 🙂

    Nuda is such a lovely jasmine, and I love how it takes a turn into the musky-animalic drydown. February 14, 2012 at 4:59pm Reply

  • Victoria: Nicola, me too, lists are so much fun!
    I prefer the extrait in all Vero Profumo fragrances so far, and Rubj is more luscious and more complex in the parfum. February 14, 2012 at 5:00pm Reply

  • Victoria: Please get better! A stomach bug can easily ruin the enjoyment of rich perfume. I think that you made a nice choice with something light and green like Ninfeo Mio. February 14, 2012 at 5:01pm Reply

  • Victoria: I love this perfume, and I miss it. At least, I can still enjoy its scent in Guerlain’s powder. February 14, 2012 at 5:02pm Reply

  • Victoria: I agree, it does. Such a beautiful update of No 5! February 14, 2012 at 5:02pm Reply

  • carmencanada: Today I wore a scent from the past, literally… my past, but also a vintage bottle. Habanita! And I wore it for drinks at a black and red hotel re-christened, for one day, Hotel Habanita. February 14, 2012 at 5:03pm Reply

  • Victoria: Glad that I am not the only one who sees Lipstick Rose in this dark & sultry light. It definitely has much more to it than fluffy violets and sweet roses. February 14, 2012 at 5:03pm Reply

  • Victoria: A spice bomb sounds nice… I was freezing all day long today, and I wish I had something like that on hand. I put on Rubj in the evening, and it feels great. February 14, 2012 at 5:04pm Reply

  • Victoria: A classical combination, isn’t it? February 14, 2012 at 5:04pm Reply

  • Victoria: Happy Valentine’s Day to you too! I was wondering what perfume you would be wearing today. 🙂 February 14, 2012 at 5:05pm Reply

  • Victoria: Vicolo Fiori sounds perfect for a dinner date–a soft aura, but not overwhelming enough to compete with the flavors of foods. Your husband has a great taste!
    On the other hand, Or et Noir is irresistible too… I would have a difficult choice on my hands with those two. February 14, 2012 at 5:06pm Reply

  • Victoria: You are right, cannot pick a more romantic place! I love the idea of BV and Venice. Hope that you are staying warm. February 14, 2012 at 5:19pm Reply

  • Victoria: And lots of chocolate, please!! 🙂 February 14, 2012 at 5:19pm Reply

  • Victoria: I love that vision! You have a discerning Valentine by your side. 🙂 February 14, 2012 at 5:25pm Reply

  • skilletlicker: I found myself grabbing Parfums DelRae Amoureuse from my collection today – the impulse was purely Pavlovian based on the name more than the actual scent (which is somewhat opulent for a California weekday) BUT NO REGRETS!!! Happy V Day, V! February 14, 2012 at 5:27pm Reply

  • Victoria: It sounds like a perfect perfume for your occasion. Moreover, Habanita is one of those fragrances that lingers so beautifully. February 14, 2012 at 5:27pm Reply

  • Victoria: Great! I bought Rose de Nuit based on its name, and I was glad that it lived up to my expectations.
    Amoureuse is certainly opulent, but some days it is exactly what I need. Perfume is a necessary indulgence, after all. February 14, 2012 at 5:29pm Reply

  • Victoria: That’s quite a range too! From luscious and dark Chinatown to the wistful Balenciaga Paris. Of course, as someone who goes from Grand Amour to Black, I appreciate this. February 14, 2012 at 5:30pm Reply

  • Nicholas Nick: I have been one of those silent ‘lurkers’ on this blog, what can I say-the writing is brilliant; informative an entertaining. I adore In the Mood for Love, one for every romantic. Have you perchance watched any more by Wong Kar Wai? 2046 is my absolute favourite. February 14, 2012 at 5:32pm Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you very much, Nick! I am a big Wong Kar Wai fan, and I have seen , Fallen AngelsAs Tears Go By, Days of Being Wild, Chungking Express (saw it so many times, I remember it by heart), Ashes of Time, and Happy Together. 2046 is on my list to see, so I very much look forward to it. February 14, 2012 at 5:41pm Reply

  • Emma: I’m wearing Annick Goutal Mon Parfum Cheri, a beautiful modern dry fruity chypre that is the perfume of a woman! February 14, 2012 at 7:15pm Reply

  • Victoria: Sounds great! I'm enjoying it too, and I'm done with my decant already. Might spring for a full bottle soon. February 15, 2012 at 6:38am Reply

  • axum: Valentine’s Day to me is a little theatrical, so I think Michael Storer’s Yvette suits the occasion – it’s a lovely gourmand. Not loud like Angel, but softly decadent, like a heart-shaped box of chocolate-covered maraschino cherries. February 15, 2012 at 4:10pm Reply

  • Musette: I am not a big Valentine’s Day fan – I wore Jubilation 25 because I had a challenging day and wanted something that was both soothing and seductive (to me) yet wouldn’t demand too much of my attention.

    Today was spent at the hospital with my dad (he’s fine – he’s 90 so a hospital stay is not that unusual)…whenever I go to the nursing home or the hospital I always wear something incense- strong or bitter green, for the same reasons Austenfan gave.

    Today is Epic. Lightly applied but enough to armour me against the hospital smells.

    xoA February 15, 2012 at 9:37pm Reply

  • Victoria: Your dad is impressive! I wish him many more years (and as few hospital stays as possible.) Your and Austenfan's reasoning makes sense–a perfume as a shield of sorts. February 16, 2012 at 2:43am Reply

  • Victoria: Sounds wonderful and fun! I like how you see the dress-up element in this holiday. February 17, 2012 at 3:12pm Reply

  • Julio Cezar do Amaral: Bois de Jasmin is a beautiful perfume column.
    It was a pleasure reading the article on winter fragrances.
    I want to pay tribute to my mother who wore ” Muguet du Bonheur” at every special moment of her life.
    I hope and pray that Caron brings it back into the market in its original formula. If not in extrait , at least in eau de parfum.
    Smelling it will make me very happy again.

    Thanks. April 30, 2012 at 7:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! I would love to see Muguet du Bonheur in the original formula, even the EDP. It was so clear, bright and uplifting. I miss it very much. May 1, 2012 at 9:12am Reply

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