Perfume and Dating : Searching for Love Potion

Some years ago, during a period of intense dating activity, I haphazardly selected a first-date perfume that, to use common idiom, drove men wild, turned men on, made men mad with desire.  I was never one to deliberate over a perfume choice, other than to question whether the strength of something was appropriate for close quarters, so my choice of a date perfume was a random, last-minute one.

laurenbacall

What was this magic brew?

I will have to string you along a bit longer, while I take an excursus into the topic of what perfume do men like (and what perfume do women like) and what is the sexiest fragrance.  I’m going to knock that last one flat and say that the sexiest fragrance is the one that makes you feel attractive and confident, fun and engaging.  It should work to enhance your personality, rather than to drag it down.

I will warn you that my use of heavy Orientals seemed to send out a vampy message that, along with my tendency to observe rather than to act, caused men to circle around me and go talk to the girl with the big smile and the flowery, feminine perfume.  After a while, I stopped wearing Yves Saint Laurent Opium on dates. It was too easy for me to project the “dangerous” languor of that fragrance’s advertisements.  Opium I’d save for wearing when someone really knew me and wouldn’t be scared off by what I too-often heard was my “mystery.”

Compliments came my way from white florals, in particular jasmine, and not just on dates.  Breezy jasmine is a smell people seem to respond to with enthusiasm.  The two most frequent compliments were “nice” and “pretty.”  If you think those adjectives run counter to making a statement about personal allure, think again. I had a number of “nice” and “pretty” girlfriends whose dating schedules rivaled those of Major League Baseball but whose perfumes were certainly not heavy hitters—Keiko Mecheri Jasmine is one that comes to mind, or Le Labo Jasmin 17.

Amber was another “success” note with me, so long as it was applied sparingly.  Amber can be smooth and seductive by nature, especially when leaning towards the gourmand. It’s said that men respond to vanilla and to sweet spice and baking smells, so a good choice might be Hermès Ambre Narguilé with its honey, cinnamon, and apple-pie aromas.  Cult favorite Anne Pliska is a far simpler blend but no less appealing with its orange/amber/vanilla combination.

As for the fragrances that make me to swoon on men, I will give you two notes:  cedar and musk.  Nowhere do these come together as happily—for me—as in Serge Lutens Bois et Musc.  The smoothness of the lightly animalic musk over the warm, pungent cedar is olfactory bliss for me.  But I also adore sandalwood, and by far my favorite is Maitre Parfumer et Gantier’s Santal Noble, which to my nose smells like a sandalwood cake with coconut on top.  Years ago an assistant of mine answered as many questions from women about his fragrance (Joop!) as he did about our merchandise.  As polarizing as a note can be, herbal and earthy patchouli can always turn my head, especially when worn by an artistic type.  A good example of this type of fragrance would be Reminiscence Elixir Patchouli, which has all of my favorite notes (patchouli, cedar, sandalwood, musk) rolled into one.

What I don’t like is exactly what is popular now:  ozone, clean/cool water, marine.  And I haven’t had many compliments on the laundry musks myself.  Simply smelling clean is the exact opposite of the Middle Ages, when bodily raunch (perhaps nowadays best expressed by Serge Lutens Muscs Koublaï Khan) was a powerful natural attractant.  Such light modern musks are to me the equivalent of a lack of feature or personality, a white wall.  If they get someone’s engine revving, then I haven’t met him!

So what was my magic brew, chosen at the last minute because I realized I hadn’t applied any fragrance?  What was that fragrance that had my date wide-eyed with excitement, that made his eyes sparkle and his body fidget? It was none other than Aquolina Pink Sugar.  But wait! you say.  I’m not a teenage coquette, trying to land the most popular boy in school! I’m an adult woman with grown-up tastes, I can tell wines and cheeses apart and I have learned to play a mean hand of Bridge. What on earth would I want with Pink Sugar?

I will tell you: utter bewitchment.  And I still wear it on special occasions, because that first date turned into a lot more.

Do you have your own scented love potions? 

Image : Lauren Bacall

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102 Comments

  • theperfumeddandy: Oh how I agree with you. In many ways it is so much easier to say what one doesn’t like as what one does.
    Personally in addition to gentlemen with most colognes coloured blue, I find ladies that feel the need to bring a candy store with them on a first date decidedly difficult to get along with.
    However, anyone with the self possession to wear a chypres or birch tar leather is sure to get my attention.
    I don’t think the perfume companies will be calling me for a focus group any time soon.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy. February 11, 2013 at 7:23am Reply

    • Suzanna: Thanks ever so for stopping by, PD, you have made my day with your comment!

      “…decidedly difficult to get along with..” :–) February 11, 2013 at 7:36am Reply

  • Elisa: Ha! Great story.

    I think the perfume that has nabbed the most total compliments from my homme is NR for Her. White flowers and musk, what’s not to like? He also likes Sensuous Noir. Cheap date.

    Beautiful photographs on your Flickr page, by the way! February 11, 2013 at 9:05am Reply

    • Suzanna: I remember the NR for Her mania–so I’m pleased to see it brought up here. Remember the sublime oil version?

      Thanks for the compliment on my flickr page! February 11, 2013 at 2:09pm Reply

  • DrNini: I find Arquiste’s “Infanta en flor” completely irresistable on men. — I wish I could wear it, however, the leather is so potent that only the tiny hint of orange blossom makes it so refined on men. Love, love, love it. And yes, Suz, you are right: most men seem to prefer simple smells. They can still be very beautiful, but although “Paris” by YSL is probably the biggest magnet for love, it is just not me, unfortunately. My cop out (that makes me keep my identity and yet feel super alluring) is layering or resorting to something utterly sweet, patisserie-like that is still complex: either I put on “Chamade” HOURS before it is supposed to work (such an empowering scent), or my vintage “L’Heure Bleu” extract with a touch of EL “Amber Ylang-Ylang” underneath. As for your “Pink Sugar”: If you felt happy and excited on your this particular date then surely the fragrant potion only enhanced your personalty and warm vibes. Nothing wrong with that in my book — especially because scents seem to be something analoguous to the “soundtracks of our lifes” (High Fidelity). So I am happy for you having this lovely memory with the pink sugar on top…
    S February 11, 2013 at 9:08am Reply

    • Suzanna: I have also received many, many compliments on that Pink Sugar from women, perhaps more than men. It really had nothing at all to do with being happy or excited–LOL!–the truth is, I’ve been in as grumpy a mood as possible, bitchy really, and had women follow me through a store wanting to know what that fragrance was. I think it makes others happy. February 11, 2013 at 2:11pm Reply

      • Sylvia: Sounds like a happy potion! Ok Suzanna, you got me wondering what Pink Sugar would smell like on me! Is it sold everywhere? February 13, 2013 at 12:32pm Reply

        • Suzanna: It should be! I don’t know where you are, though. February 13, 2013 at 12:42pm Reply

  • Ines: One of the rare perfume compliments I get out of my other half is for ‘White Linen’… February 11, 2013 at 9:19am Reply

    • Suzanna: I read that as “Whole Linen” and thought, I don’t know that one.

      WL is a clean scent to me, starched, and again something that might make people happy. February 11, 2013 at 2:12pm Reply

  • Lauren: Hah! I shouldn’t be surprised. The perfume I’ve worn that seems universally LOVED by men is Benefit’s Hooked On Carmella. It is very sweet, to the point of smelling artificial. But it’s addictive.

    Really enjoyed this post; thanks for sharing! February 11, 2013 at 9:24am Reply

    • Suzanna: Never heard of that Benefit scent and now will seek it out, thanks! Obviously you have discovered the same thing. February 11, 2013 at 2:12pm Reply

  • nikki: Great story, Suzanna and that photo, ravishing! I want one!

    Perfumes and men, well, Mitsouko always goes the extra mile if one is serious. For the majority of men, vanilla is the non plus ultra. Of course, I read that scientific research into this subject came up with bacon and pumpkin notes for men! I tried Sables which I find smells like maple syrup and bacon, but that is not quite my thing.

    As I get older, I don’t use perfumes for others anymore and I don’t think about what men like, as I realize that I am the one to please. However, if one had to choose: lighter fragrances are often best as most men are intimated by the femme fatale wearing Opium, Bandit, Cinnabar, Magie Noire, Spellbound. So flowery and/or vanilla based, more simple fragrances do the trick.

    And then there is the school that believes that a man’s weak point is in recognizing his mother’s perfume on his chosen one…hopefully he loved his mother! February 11, 2013 at 9:46am Reply

    • Elisa: Another maple-and-bacon option is New Haarlem! February 11, 2013 at 11:52am Reply

      • Suzanna: Oh, I love New Haarlem! That coffee note–it’s breakfast in a bottle. February 11, 2013 at 2:14pm Reply

        • Ari: I love New Haarlem tooooo. I just wish someone other than Bond No. 9 made it. Maybe I should just suck it up and buy it anyway. February 11, 2013 at 4:24pm Reply

    • Suzanna: I still do like those femme fatale frags, though. Nowadays I wear those old Opium flankers and they do the trick for an old school Oriental.

      Sables really turns me on when worn by a man. Have given it as gifts in the past. February 11, 2013 at 2:17pm Reply

  • rosarita: I love your story, Suzanna. I haven’t dated in over thirty years, but the perfume that’s gotten the most compliments is Dior Addict, which I rarely wear anymore. My husband was won with Coco; he enjoys all my perfume personas for the most part and borrows plenty. We are both delighted by how great Shalimar cologne smells on him. Gorgeous photo! February 11, 2013 at 10:15am Reply

    • Suzanna: I bet that Shalimar smells fantastic on him–love the bergamot top.

      Yes, Dior Addict is one I have not worn in a long time either, but it is one of those vanilla treats to which people seem to respond. February 11, 2013 at 2:15pm Reply

  • Yulya: Hi Suzanna, thank you for the article! It is fun to read :) From my experience men prefer natural smell of a woman to anything “artificial” (I have heard negative references from men relating to perfumes using this word). I think that the best one is the one that has become your second skin. I received a number of compliments from men when I wore Chanel No. 5 in EDP (only the EDP range got compliments). And, again, one of the men that complimented it said something along the lines, that it does not have this artificial smell, what a beautiful perfume! I also got compliments wearing Creed’s Fleurissimo. I think that this fragrance cal also easily become a woman’s second skin. February 11, 2013 at 10:27am Reply

    • Suzanna: Yulya, I agree about No. 5 EdP. It has been well received on me, also.

      And the Creed! There’s one that’s not been mentioned in ages! I think you’re right! February 11, 2013 at 2:18pm Reply

  • Judy: Wonderful story, Suzanna, thanks.

    Oddly, the scent that I’ve received the most comment about is Caron’s Bellodgia, which is neither sweet nor overtly sexy.

    I first found it many years ago, and I think it smelled different then than it does today. One time long ago an airport employee actually leaped over his check-in desk to follow me down the concourse to ask what it was, because he wanted to get it for his wife!

    I wore it on my wedding day almost 41 years ago. Have always enjoyed it. February 11, 2013 at 10:31am Reply

    • Suzanna: I can see spicy and powdery carnation being a magnet–it’s hardly the most ubiquitous thing now and hasn’t been, so perhaps more of a special secret type of frag.

      V. might know about differences in smell. February 11, 2013 at 2:19pm Reply

    • Lydia: I wonder if Bellodgia was one of the perfumes that lost the eugenol carnation note in its reformulation. I read about how the restriction affected another Caron fragrance with a carnation note.
      http://www.alyssaharad.com/scent/happy-halloween-vintage-caron-poivre-chapter-nine

      I love spicy carnation-dominant perfumes, so this worries me a bit. Hopefully the substitute, non-allergen ingredients are doing a good approximation of the original formulations. February 11, 2013 at 3:35pm Reply

  • Anne Sheffield: Lovely story!
    The perfume that got me my husband, was Chance by Chanel which got me the compliment ” waoooo you smell amazing!!”. I wore it for several years, but when I got pregnant I went off it, and now i can t even smell it without instantly getting a sinus infection….. I never get anymore then”waooo you smell amazing”.. :-( February 11, 2013 at 10:46am Reply

    • Suzanna: Anne, Chance was one I loved and then also could not wear, for different reasons (too sticky on me).

      We will have to find you another “waooo you smell amazing” perfume. February 11, 2013 at 2:20pm Reply

  • AnneD: My hubs goes weak in the knees for Beautiful and he loves when I wear anything with roses. I on the other hand have received the most comments from Pink Sugar also. Amazingly, these comments come from women close to my own age almost like they can’t believe I am wearing it. I love it and I feel happy wearing it, so it gets a run from time to time! February 11, 2013 at 10:51am Reply

    • Suzanna: Where I live, no one really knows what it is. Some guess that it is Angel, or something from BBW or other mall store.

      I do know men, however, who like an “adult” smelling scent like Beautiful! February 11, 2013 at 2:21pm Reply

  • Daisy: Oh I knew it, Suzanna! The minute the excursus began, I knew it was going to be something unexpected. Following comment Victoria made a few posts ago, I was thinking Febreze maybe. Or Dove soap. But Pink Sugar? You made me laugh out loud!

    And funny, but I can’t say that I am surprised!

    I must be a discreet wearer, because no dates ever make any mention of my perfume. Hardly do any boyfriends ever bring it up either. Maybe it’s because they don’t notice, or they do notice, hate it, and decide it’s safer to not say anything ;-) February 11, 2013 at 11:17am Reply

    • Suzanna: Sure, Daisy, I’m not bound by an artistic notion that would preclude wearing just about anything I can get my handson. I have all kinds of things most perfumistas would decry, not just limited to Pink Sugar. I have also Body Shop Vanilla and Chopard Casmir. February 11, 2013 at 2:24pm Reply

  • Sandra Levine: Years ago, decades, really, it was L’heure bleue that had men following me in the street. Between the change in fashion and the change in formula, I can’t imagine that fragrance having the same effect nowadays, for anyone.

    Musk Ravageur is the one that works for my husband today. February 11, 2013 at 11:18am Reply

    • Ari: Don’t lose hope, Sandra! L’Heure Bleue was the first perfume my boyfriend complimented me on, at the ripe old age of 21! :D February 11, 2013 at 11:22am Reply

      • Elisa: My boyfriend bought me a bottle of L’Heure Bleue years ago because of the beautiful story behind it … but it turned out he hated the smell. I never grew to like it on myself either and eventually swapped the bottle. It was a sweet gesture though! February 11, 2013 at 11:58am Reply

        • Suzanna: Very sweet! And it does have such a beautiful story behind it indeed. February 11, 2013 at 2:26pm Reply

    • Suzanna: I know what you mean, Sandra. It is not the same. I used to love splashing it on in the summer and getting all kinds of compliments. Now it is just…odd. February 11, 2013 at 2:27pm Reply

  • Ari: Noooooo, not Pink Sugar!!!! :O

    I really love your social commentary in this post, Suzanna. In certain crowds, “nice”, “sweet” girls are the be-all and end-all. My perfumes are not particularly nice or sweet, but they go very well with my flirting style: I banter the object of my affection half to death and see if they like it ;) February 11, 2013 at 11:21am Reply

    • Suzanna: This is just meant to be a fun post, not a studious commentary. I could just as easily have–and have done!–worn Demeter colognes.

      I’m sure that your object of affection is plenty pleased with your bantering. February 11, 2013 at 2:26pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: Common wisdom says that men go crazy for vanilla and heavy gourmands, but I always got the most compliments in the biggest classics: Chanel No. 5, Tabac Blond, Mitsouko. My fiance goes crazy for me in chypres! Today I am wearing one of my new favorites, 31 Rue Cambon, for my birthday. February 11, 2013 at 11:24am Reply

    • Suzanna: Congrats on your birthday, Elizabeth, and many wishes for a marvelous year ahead. February 11, 2013 at 2:28pm Reply

  • Ksenija: It is my impression that men will hardly ever openly tell you when they like perfume you’re wearing unless they are in one way or another, romantically interested in you. They however, make an exception when your perfume juice really intoxicates their senses on its own, and just want to know what is that beautiful scent do that they can give it to their girlfriends or mothers just because they liked the smell, not necessarily you to go with it. :) My ‘power’perfume was for years Armani’s “Gio” (but the original one, not his Acqua version), but most compliments I got for Elizabeth Arden “5th Avenue”. February 11, 2013 at 11:35am Reply

    • nikki: Happy Birthday, Elizabeth! You are one lucky Aquarius! February 11, 2013 at 11:54am Reply

    • Suzanna: I generally find men most often asking about amber-based scents or most especially my amber oil. Perhaps they are buying it for a lover–I hope so, actually. February 11, 2013 at 2:29pm Reply

      • nikki: Which amber oil are you using? February 11, 2013 at 3:21pm Reply

        • Suzanna: I love Persian Amber from Attar Bazaar. Have tried others, but this one is best for me. February 12, 2013 at 2:27pm Reply

          • nikki: Thank you Suzanna! February 14, 2013 at 11:39am Reply

  • OperaFan: Love stories with a “surprise” ending!
    My husband rarely comments on my fragrances because he says he can’t keep track of all that I wear. There were 3, however, that he has volunteered responses to:
    1. Sonoma Scent Studio’s Sienna Musk – a delicate mix of orange, spices, cedar, and sandalwood on a musk base [spices and woods - "Mmmm... smells nice"]
    2. Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleue pdt (late ’90s vint) gets consistent positive remarks [violets & anise (2 of his favorite candies), and vanilla - Always gets a respectful, positive compliment]
    3. Samsara perfume, also late ’90s [this one drives him wild, which I totally don't understand...]

    So there you are – 2 out of 3 that fits the description for what men like…. February 11, 2013 at 12:12pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Oh, I like the Samsara perfume; it’s prob. the intensity of sandalwood in the base that drives him wild.

      Always glad to see Sonoma Scent mentioned. I’ve always loved her way with woods. February 11, 2013 at 2:30pm Reply

  • Lydia: I used to believe that perfumes with special seductive powers were a myth – that any nice perfume was just as good as another for that purpose, as long as you were well-groomed and projecting confidence. I had a strange experience with a perfume a while back that changed my thinking a bit.

    I had been at the office all night working on deadline and I was about as exhausted and frumpy as I get – dark circles, sweaty, miserable, barely conscious. I put on the perfume sample I had with me to counter the sweat smell. (I’m trying to give you a picture of how completely unattractive I felt that morning – I was not projecting anything remotely close to seductiveness.)

    And then weird things started to happen. The bus driver flirted with me. The music store clerk flirted with me. Men at the grocery store. Pretty much any men I encountered that day. They told me I smelled good, they tried to engage me in conversation. They all looked a bit dazed. Mind you, some of these were people who knew me casually. I took that bus daily, had bought music at that store, had exchanged casual greetings with these people. They were reacting like they were seeing me for the first time. It was a little unnerving.

    The perfume was Black Gardenia by Michele Bergman. The irony is that it wasn’t really to my taste – it was just one sample among many that I’d gotten from Luckyscent. I prefer orientals & this was a thick white flower scent – not really my thing. I have no idea what those men were reacting to, and I’ve never had an experience like that with another perfume. (And I still haven’t bought a bottle because I really do prefer amber, spice and wood scents to flowery ones. But I’ve thought about it.) February 11, 2013 at 2:01pm Reply

    • nikki: How interesting! I love Gardenia but haven’t found the perfect one yet, tried EL Gardenia/Tuberose, Tom Ford’s Gardenia, Elizabeth Taylor’s Gardenia, some Gardenia from the South, now I will try your Black Gardenia! February 11, 2013 at 2:18pm Reply

      • Suzanna: I rarely stray from Goutal Gardenia Passion EdP. February 11, 2013 at 2:32pm Reply

        • nikki: yes i love that one! February 11, 2013 at 3:22pm Reply

    • Suzanna: I go through gardenia phases, and that is one I’ve wanted to try. What a great story! February 11, 2013 at 2:32pm Reply

    • Lydia: Nikki, I hope you enjoy it if you get to try it.

      Suzanna, I saw in your post that it’s not unusual for white florals to elicit compliments. I wonder if it has something to do with how unambiguously feminine they are (I wouldn’t be against a guy wearing a lush gardenia or jasmine fragrance, but it’s hard to imagine it).

      I’m definitely curious to hear if anyone else has a similar experience. February 11, 2013 at 2:44pm Reply

      • Suzanna: My opinion is simply that many people like the smell of flowers, bouquet of flowers–and perfumes that smell like that are something to enjoy. February 11, 2013 at 7:52pm Reply

  • Eva S.: My by far most complimented scent is Fancy by Jessica Simpson.
    Fits the description for what men like! February 11, 2013 at 2:41pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Fancy fits in with that vanilla-gourmand theme, doesn’t it? February 11, 2013 at 7:52pm Reply

  • Laura: For me it used to be Hypnotic Poison when it was intense and slightly bitter with dangerous almond-curare note. Not any more, alas…

    I went through a NR for Her phase too, and a Pink Sugar phase too …

    Now interestingly enough it’s Eau de Merveilles. I would never guess that as it’s unisex. February 11, 2013 at 2:46pm Reply

    • Suzanna: I used to love Eau des Merveilles, and then it just didn’t do it for me. But how marvelous it is!

      Used to love HP, too, and now rarely wear my newer bottle. That note you mention is long gone. February 11, 2013 at 7:53pm Reply

  • Alexandra: Suzanna… what a great post! You have such a unique and eloquent way to write about perfumes that I forget it’s a review and get lost in a piece of literature. Honestly!

    The perfume that has granted me most compliments by both men and women is Portrait of a Lady. It acts out like a magnet, mesmerising the audience. This Lady is with certain character and projection, so powerful that numbs and hypnotises her suitors. I resort to her refuge everytime I need such strength and… sexiness :-) Power is aphrodisiac :-)

    Lots of love from Greece,
    Alexandra February 11, 2013 at 2:48pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Alexandra, I’ve never tried that one but have skirted it. Should prob. grab a sample somewhere. I know your taste and mine often are similar!

      Thanks for the compliment! February 11, 2013 at 7:54pm Reply

  • george: Am I alone in that I would just wear exactly what I wanted and it wouldn’t even enter in to my head that it was supposed to be some sort of magic potion. Fun article anyway: I enjoyed it. February 11, 2013 at 2:57pm Reply

    • Suzanna: George, the whole point was to write a fun article, not to make a studious essay on miracle love elixirs. I keep in mind, too, that some people are just as turned off by perfume as others are turned on. February 11, 2013 at 7:55pm Reply

  • Alityke: When I met my hubby I was wearing Nicky Verfaille’s Grain de Sable and wore it on my weddng day. I have recently been gifted a tiny unopened miniature by a Fairy Fragrance Godmother which I’m saving for our anniversary as a surprise as he loved it.

    I then moved onto Poison, when I wear vintage Poison even now it totally misses out his brain and travels south, if you catch my drift.

    Then I was gifted a huge tester of 90′s No5 edt. Since then he has bought me this in every version and concentration.

    We both fell for the Kurkdjian created Gaultier2. Sweet, ambery and apparently sexy. It has reaped positive comments from men of all ages.

    Since I fell into the rabbit hole of Perfumistaland my adorable husband has fallen for EL Amber Ylang Ylang, Montale Tiare Intense and SL Louve.

    The thing is whilst I enjoy all the above, my preferred style and what feels natural on me are green, astringent, citric chypres. Darling hubby happily tells me these smell of urinal block!

    He now knows if I want something from him by how I smell February 11, 2013 at 3:06pm Reply

    • nikki: Gaultier2 was amazing! Very sexy indeed. Now that he, FK, has his own line, I love his perfumes such as Eau du Soir, that is one sexy perfume, like Gaultier2 but much better, more intense, less sweet. February 11, 2013 at 3:34pm Reply

      • nikki: I meant Absolue pour le Soir by Francis Kurkdijan not Eau du Soir. February 11, 2013 at 3:37pm Reply

    • Suzanna: That’s just great! Thanks for sharing this with us!

      Urinal block indeed! I heartily disagree! (Or commend perfumers of urinal blocks who make such agreeable scents.) February 11, 2013 at 7:58pm Reply

  • silverdust: In a recent public setting, a man complimented me (in front of a lot of other men!) on Padparadscha, the pink pepper/incensey number.

    The mister likes an oil version (dupe) of Hypnotic Poison and an oil version of No. 19, which resembles the original.

    And, Suzanna, I submit you’ve never smelled “sexy clean” until you’ve tried Blue Eygyptian Musk by The Perfume Shop. Narciso R. was so taken by it that after he sampled it in their Miami store (now closed), and lawishly complimented it, that he duplicated it as the base for NR for Her. February 11, 2013 at 3:09pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Nope, never smelled that one. You’re absolutely right about that.

      I went through a bottle Padparadscha and am glad you mention it here. February 11, 2013 at 7:59pm Reply

  • Andy: I suppose I am what might be called “an artistic type” and I can verify your comment that patchouli certainly does turn heads. I haven’t tested its effect in a romantic setting, but since I am a student, I encounter a lot of people throughout my day. The “fragrance” I get the most compliments on is actually a simple .5% dilution of patchouli essential oil (which I find complex enough to work on its own), and on days that I use this, I often get compliments and curious glances from both males and females alike. So I imagine it would work great for a date. Maybe this Valentine’s Day I’ll have to use it and see what I can conjure up… February 11, 2013 at 4:14pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Go for it! And let us know what happens.

      I was quite taken with a man some years ago who wore patch oil from a head shop. It just smelled…so right. February 11, 2013 at 8:00pm Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: Delightful story! I do do love your writing.

    I don’t have much of a perfume and seduction story because I am such a pathetic failure at it, possibly because “nice” and “pretty” are among the dead-last adjectives I would ever want anyone to apply to me- the only one more insulting would be “average” and I fired a psychotherapist for actually describing my looks that way, and I really should have sued her ass for malpractice, given that I was having my head shrunk over self-esteem issues. Anyway, in the immortal words of Tina Turner, “We don’t do anything nicer and easy…. we do everything nice… and rough”. Pretty and nice sound so powerless and uninspired. I am always striving for (and obviously achieving only the epic fail) for unfathomable mystery, dark Gothic beauty and disturbing sexuality. Clearly I am achieving only pretentious, over-educated and underemployed. However the fragrances that seem to get the most standing O’s from my woefully few straight male friends seem to be 24 Faubourg and Must de Cartier. Maybe there’s something about vanilla-tinged Orientals, but two very adorable and yes, hetero guys I know always comment on how great I smell wearing these scents and one of them always zooms in for a delicous back of the neck nuzzle, so I think it’s worth the extortionate price. Conversely, Vivienne Westwood’s “Boudoir” which Dame Vivienne herself has said publically is intended to smell…like estrogene (she actually said something a tad rougher, but this is such a tasteful and ladylike blog), and my Gay Best Friend finds it repulsive. I would like to test this theory further when I can afford a small bottle of Le Labo’s Musc 32, which has as its secret ingredient synthetic eau de semen. Would I make lots of new gay friends, or would OB/gyn’S just slip me their business cards?

    Scents that make me feel sexy, although nobody else seems to agree are the original Chloe (the one in the peach shaped bottle with the rich honeysuckle scent, not the anemic new one), Lutens’ A la Nuit (very femme fatale), Loree Rodkin’s Gothic II, and Musc Ravageur and Carnal Flower. Of course, I am sually wearing them while sitting at home having a tea party with my imaginery dog,so what do I know? February 11, 2013 at 4:44pm Reply

    • Suzanna: I love all the scents you mention and wear them in frequent rotation. I have been trying to find–and failing–original Chloe. I adored that one and I think it fits in with the liking of A la Nuit and Carnal Flower, too. February 11, 2013 at 8:03pm Reply

    • Donna Watkins: Lynn, I loved your comment. I also dislike reviews of what fragrances can only be worn on dates, lest one be found indecent, because I do not go on dates. Misery loves company and I loved your post. February 12, 2013 at 6:11pm Reply

  • Lotta: Had to add a comment, since Budoir was mentioned :)
    My weirdest perfume compliment derives from wearing it!
    A lovely man Came up to me and said “you smell like love!”. Obviously , Not being the lady, I explained the above mentioned VWstatement about what is was supposed to smell like :)
    Otherwise, narcizo Rodríguez for her almost always gets me compliment, both male and female ,Husband chose it for me. February 11, 2013 at 6:41pm Reply

    • Suzanna: That’s too funny, Lotta! And how he must have searched for the appropriate descriptor for that particular note.

      I’ve noticed that No. 5 EdP and NR are repeated by several of us here. I wish NR, once again, would bring back that oil. February 12, 2013 at 1:51pm Reply

  • Sarah: Brilliant perfume post. What fun :) I used to choose fragrance solely on the basis of its appeal to boys…(sad but true) Paloma Picasso – even the brilliant and powerful vintage stuff – is a snuffle face into neck on a date fragrance, and I’ve found Coco Chanel a big hit as a love potion as well (Madamoselle included). Absolutely no bloke I have ever known has ever complimented me on Chanel number 19, which I find very disappointing – what’s wrong with them?! For the men, I love a bit of Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel. Anyway, I’m going to have to find the Acquolina Pink Sugar and have a sniff now! February 11, 2013 at 6:58pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Fascinating bit of info about the lack of compliment on No. 19. I have always enjoyed that on women–and the big chypres, too. Maybe it’s a girl thang!!! February 11, 2013 at 8:05pm Reply

  • Rose D: In my experience, one of the most complimented fragrances is the original Agent Provocateur. It never fails and tends to attract almost every kind of men; and sometimes the unwanted attention is a bit of a problem.

    However, when I am in search of a very special type of man, I wear Chanel N°5 (edp); which happens to be one of my favourites!

    Once, a guy I went to school with told me that Lancome Miracle reminded him of his ex-girlfriend, who was working in Canada (not sure if that was a compliment). February 11, 2013 at 11:14pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Notice that No. 5 EDP gets several mentions here, including my own. I haven’t seen it come up as often in any other discussion. What is it we have discovered here? A fragrance so firmly settled in cultural awareness that it is a crowd-pleaser based upon its recognizability? Or is it that it has such a high concept that remains apart as a shimmering jewel of art that it becomes analogous with feminine allure? Or is it that No. 5 is a perfect exposition of high-toned sensuality and possible unavailability? February 12, 2013 at 9:34am Reply

      • Rose D: In my experience, N°5 is not so much of a crowd pleaser or even as recognizable as some of the newer mainstream fragrances. In my case its power has to do with an unspoken bond that it creates between two people: the one who likes to wears it and the one who likes to smell it. February 12, 2013 at 2:36pm Reply

  • Deborah: When I started thinking about the perfumes my guy has commented on I became suddenly very impressed: Aromatic Elixir, Shocking, Spice Bomb. And especially No 5, which he always describes as incredibly sexy. I wear that when I want to seem very proper, so I don’t know what weird dynamic he has got going on there! But doesn’t he have good taste? Recently he has been trying my perfumes out so I have moved my collection to a shared space where he can try a different one every day. However, in very poor taste the one male scent I can’t ignore is Brut (don’t castigate me!) I think it takes me back to being 14 and kissed for the first time. Sorry my bad taste. LOL February 11, 2013 at 11:48pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Deborah, in my book there is no such thing as bad taste. That would be like saying a certain flower or spice is in bad taste, or a synthetic aromachemical is in bad taste. There’s only questionable application theory, like the lady in Soir de Lune upon whose heavily scented cloud I rode at a charity gala.

      So, et tu, Brut? February 12, 2013 at 9:29am Reply

  • Ilia: I agree with the L’heure Bleue comments! Generally it’s perfumes that have abig sillage that get compliments, and what else can beat L’heure Bleue for that? Basically if you want perufme to be noticed, it can’t be shy and close to skin. Malle’s Carnal Flower, Luten’s Sarrasins Amouage Ubar and Nicolai Sacrebleu are what others have noticed and commented on when I wore them. But for dates I guess I normally go with Feminite de Bois. It makes me feel all comfortable because I’ve worn it for ages. Hm, maybe I’m doing it wrong. February 12, 2013 at 7:19am Reply

    • Suzanna: Ilia, I’m sure there’s no right or wrong! Or, shall I say is wrong is having a bad perfume day with something that doesn’t work for you! February 12, 2013 at 9:26am Reply

  • Nicola Donbavand: Thank goodness we are all different olfactory animals…
    My daytime fragrant choice is Aqua di Genova, it has a clean androgynous top note of citrus, followed by a soft, subtle heart of florals and a gentle base of soothing Patchouli, Sandalwood & Musk (at leastI hope it has these components as it is a closley guarded secret and one that hasn’t changed since 1853). Rather than thunder past you it is a fresh breeze that only intimates will know you are fragranced.
    My ‘passionate ally’ would have to be Paloma Picaso original – Citrus, Rose & Patchouli combine to charm and unfreeze the hardest of souls, it is alluring and sultry but be careful – a little goes a long way…
    My favourite male fragrance is and always will be Czech & Speak No.88 – an aromatic mixture that is both powdery, floral and masculine. A gentlemans fragrance (I first encounted whilst working for Liberty many many moons ago) from the shaker style bottle that holds this wondrous elixir right through to the tousled haired, fine flannel, leather brogued man that chooses this very fine offering… February 12, 2013 at 10:15am Reply

    • Suzanna: I agree, and what is interesting to me is the divergence and the confluence of all or of parts, where some leap heartily at the mention of a classic fragrance and others voice the less well known and yet equally able to attract and to woo.

      What fragrance is not is an oblivion, a vacant sense space where the wearer and the beholder feel nothing. I think this thread amply demonstrates that! February 12, 2013 at 1:49pm Reply

  • Divna Gogeva: The one that has gotten me the most compliments is Stella by Stella McCartney, I find it such an interesting mix of pretty, sophisticated, and metro-sexy. Men also tend to compliment me on jasmine-based fragrances I wear, as well as… on carnal flower, the tuberose power house that it is. I absolutely could not resist vetiver-centric fragrances on men! February 12, 2013 at 4:22pm Reply

    • Suzanna: I wear Stella quite frequently and just went through a phase where I wore only Stella! It has a slight edge from the amber that I like.

      Agree that vetiver is great on men! February 13, 2013 at 9:33am Reply

  • Ariadne: Just look at that photo of an orchid….it looks like a Flamenco dress in mid twirl! Perfect Suzanna!

    For ‘first date’ perfumes I choose ones that evolve in stages to dry down, with notes that are hard for the novice to identify, and ones that do not have “gob-smacking” sillage.

    Lady Vengeance (evening) and Baise Vole (daytime) have been doing this for me lately with DH despite that he loves Tresor, which has become a big yawn for me lately.

    One wants to be memorable and a bit elusive upon sensory encounter, even if the encounter is #105,777. ;+) February 12, 2013 at 7:14pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Thanks, Ariadne!

      Great point about wanting a perfume with some interesting development! We might need 105,777 potential date fragrances here. At the rate new perfumes are launched nowawdays, that might be a short 50 years. February 13, 2013 at 9:32am Reply

  • Karina: Coco Mademoiselle has always been my ‘love potion’, it’s never failed me. Agree that white flowers also never fail to entice most and as a lover of gardenia I don’t see anything strange about that! Still searching for the perfect gardenia perfume… February 12, 2013 at 7:15pm Reply

    • Suzanna: I think everyone who likes gardenia is still searching for the perfect gardenia perfume. My AG Gardenia Passion comes pretty close, although not at all like the Southern gardenia we have here in Florida. February 13, 2013 at 9:30am Reply

  • Carly Anne: Luv this article. Luv that you’re so forthcoming;-) I too used a high calorie, in your face love potion to woo many. For me it was Pilar and Lucy’s EFoS. It made their knees weak and made me oh-so-comfortable. I came out of my shell, my hair flowed and my cheeks pinked…that’s what it’s all about. They saw it, they felt it. It opened doors, to my soul and beyond…! Ultimately I married wearing it. And when I put it on I’m there… And so is he. Fragrance can be magical that way! February 13, 2013 at 8:29pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Thanks for sharing that lovely story, Carly Anne! February 14, 2013 at 7:54am Reply

  • Dionne: I didn’t wear perfumes during the dating years, and although my husband enjoyed the fragrances I was wearing after falling down the rabbit hole, it wasn’t until I tried Black Cashmere that I discovered the truth that certain scents can drive a man wild. My mild-mannered other half *growled* upon smelling me. Oh yeah.

    When I asked him about his response, he said, “This one smells like you. It’s your smell amped up.” Which is interesting to me because it’s the incenses and woods that have always worked best for my skin chemistry.

    As far as him? Who knew that a smoky vetiver could get my motor running? February 14, 2013 at 2:35pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Another one for vetiver! How fascinating! So, for those with stalled motors, look for that grassy, smoky note available in so many men’s fragrances. February 15, 2013 at 12:11pm Reply

  • Roberta: Armani Mania – the original version. I was in Law school when it was launched and I have 2 words: it works!

    I am married now and my newest “date night” perfume is Chanel no 5. My husband loves it! (I wear the EDT, but i like all versions.) It took me sometime to fall in love with it though – I remember thinking it was too mature for me or something. Now that I am in my 30s it feels just right. Feminine and sexy. February 16, 2013 at 1:57am Reply

    • Suzanna: Another for No. 5!

      Wouldn’t it be great if they started making that old Mania again? February 16, 2013 at 9:11am Reply

      • Ida: I still use the original Mania, and some people like it a lot while others think it smells like dude :-D I do love the male version on men, I wonder how it wears on me.
        It should be put back in production ASAP. February 20, 2013 at 12:35am Reply

        • Suzanna: Agreed! Add to the list of things we wish would return, as they were, no reformulations, no quick-change disguises! February 20, 2013 at 9:19am Reply

  • CC: What a great story. My go to fragrance has always been Casmir, but lately my husband has been supplying me with Anne Pliska, since wearing it I have rec. compliments from women and men, its truly a great fragrance. February 26, 2013 at 9:19pm Reply

    • Suzanna: It took me a long time to appreciate Casmir, but I keep a bottle on hand now! There’s a likeness between it and the Pliska, too. Pliska has gone off the radar a bit, so I’m glad you mention it here! February 27, 2013 at 8:25am Reply

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