Perfume for a Bombshell

I have a new article in the Financial Times Magazine’s fragrance column, Smouldering Scents of Seduction. The topic this month blends my favorite themes–perfume and classical Hollywood. In helping me understand what makes for the ultimate bombshell fragrance, I turn to Farran Smith Nehme and Laren Stover. Nehme, whom you might know as The Self-Styled Siren and film critic writing for the New York Post, has an impressive knowledge of classical cinema, while Stover wrote the best-selling The Bombshell Manual of Style. They are also perfume connoisseurs and great interview partners. It’s all tongue-in-cheek, of course, and I hope that you will enjoy our discoveries.

ava-gardner-the-killers-screenshot

What is the hallmark of the ultimate bombshell perfume? I wonder this as I’m enraptured by the first glimpse of Ava Gardner in the 1946 film noir The Killers. She sits at the piano, wearing a black satin gown that elegantly drapes over her curvy figure. She gives Burt Lancaster one look and he is ready to follow her anywhere, even if it will lead to trouble. Such is the power of a bombshell. My typical day is more about routine than glamour, but perfume is my way to pretend otherwise. Please read the rest by clicking here.

What perfumes have bombshell potential for you?

Image: Ava Gardner in The Killers.

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109 Comments

  • BlinkyTheFish: Hi – this actually links to your tea scents article. April 26, 2013 at 7:13am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! I’ve fixed it. April 26, 2013 at 7:34am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Interesting post! It is great fun to perfume other people, moviestars for example, Great choices.
    in my opinion, a femme fatale should wear Une Fleur de Cassie. April 26, 2013 at 7:44am Reply

    • nikki: great! that’s me! April 26, 2013 at 9:18am Reply

    • Victoria: It was a fun topic, and it was great to chat with others who thought quite a bit about bombshells. 🙂 April 26, 2013 at 10:52am Reply

  • rosarita: Great article! Interesting how the classics top the lists. Ava Luxe Madame X was a very sexy scent but Serena doesn’t make it any more; I think the materials aren’t readily available. My choice is Coco, also vintage Norell. April 26, 2013 at 8:21am Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you liked it!

      I didn’t realize that Madame X has been discontinued, which is too bad. It was a very good perfume. April 26, 2013 at 10:53am Reply

  • Rachel: Jasmine et Cigarette is my choice too. I also like SSS Nostalgie, which smells seductive but not in your face sexy. April 26, 2013 at 8:31am Reply

    • Victoria: This reminds me that I need to try Nostalgie again! April 26, 2013 at 10:54am Reply

  • Karina: I’m loving that picture of Ava Gardner – what a magnificent stare!

    Interestingly I’ve been wearing Coco Mademoiselle for the past decade but lately when I’ve been at the Chanel counter I keep trying on Coco instead.

    Coco Mademoiselle has garnered me many compliments over the years but I’m beginning to feel I’ve outgrown it. I’m searching for something darker and deeper and Coco seems to fit the bill with its rich, sweet spices while still possessing the Chanel quality and elegance that I’m fond of. April 26, 2013 at 8:50am Reply

    • Victoria: Did you try Coco Noir already? It might be another option from Chanel, especially if you like Coco Mademoiselle. April 26, 2013 at 11:30am Reply

      • Karina: I haven’t tried Coco Noir yet. I’m almost afraid to as I had high expectations for it when I first heard of its launch and from what I hear it is undeserving of its name, not really a ‘noir’ perfume because many say it lacks the depth and mystery that the word conveys. I don’t want to be disappointed!

        But I should just get over it and try it shouldn’t I? I’ll give Egoiste a try at the same time… April 27, 2013 at 3:14am Reply

        • Victoria: It’s low commitment, after all, and it may end up surprising you. Plus, Egoiste is a must-try if you’re at the Chanel counter. 🙂 April 27, 2013 at 8:43am Reply

    • Heather: Looove that Coco. The Mademoiselle skews very young on me, while Coco envelops me in the pleasure of being an adult woman. April 26, 2013 at 11:57am Reply

      • Karina: I agree that Coco is definitely for a woman while Coco M is more for a girl/young woman. April 27, 2013 at 3:15am Reply

  • Annikky: Great article, as always.

    I guess there are many different kinds of bombshells and bombshell scents. But as a common theme, I believe complexity and ambiguity are required. For me, the bombshell perfumes cannot be too beautiful and polished and universally liked. Real bombshells are the ones some people find too strange or too much, there is a difficult note in there or something that seems out of proportion. Almost a flaw. But on a right person, it all clicks into place. I’m thinking of Noir Epices and Shalimar and Bandit and Velvet Gardenia – a dose of leather, tobacco, overripe fruits, dark woods or dangerous flowers never hurts when striving to be a femme fatale. And a great masculine (Chanel Egoiste, maybe?) would make a perfect bombshell perfume, too.

    PS I love Jasmin et Cigarette, but on me it smells too nice to qualify as a bombshell. April 26, 2013 at 9:12am Reply

    • Elena: I’m with you on the leather, tobacco, and dangerous flowers making for a bombshell scent. Quite the opposite of what Victoria’s Secret would try to sell us! In fact, wouldn’t that make a good perfume name? Une (Un?) Fleur Dangereux! April 26, 2013 at 9:56am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree, and so would my bombshell experts, and from what we’ve concluded, a degree of mystery is essential, or as you put it, complexity and ambiguity. She doesn’t bear her cleavage completely and leaves something to imagination.

      I love your bombshell perfume choices, and I’m with you on Egoiste. It makes a great feminine perfume. April 26, 2013 at 11:33am Reply

      • Rina: Oooh! Glad to see I’m not the only one who loves Egoiste (vintage) on women! I’ve worn it for years on and off! I wore Coco for years back in my 20s, and now seem to be coming back around to it in my XXs. A nice full-circle. Great article Victoria, as always! April 26, 2013 at 1:17pm Reply

        • Victoria: It smells like ripe plums, leather and vanilla, and it feels like such a sexy and confident perfume. Perfect for a bombshell or for fantasizing about being one! 🙂 April 26, 2013 at 2:03pm Reply

        • Annikky: I gave a bottle to my boyfriend and then “borrowed” it regularily. It’s empty now and I miss it – I sniffed the bottle yesterday to remind me what it smells like and got all melancholy. It is a great scent and I/he/we need a new one. April 27, 2013 at 4:28am Reply

  • nikki: Une Fleur de Cassie is a great option and one of my favorites, Coco is good but not as…the original Jean Louis Scherrer and definitely Francis Kurkdijan’s Lumiere Noire are bombshell fragrances keeping the admirer at a distance, nothing cuddly like Shalimar…no vanilla for my bombshell!
    Ava Gardner used Heliotrope and Creed’s Rose de The de Bulgarie. April 26, 2013 at 9:21am Reply

    • Victoria: That Creed fragrance fits perfectly with my mental image of Ava Gardner (or at least, some of her roles), since it’s crisp and airy, but has something dark and brooding underneath. April 26, 2013 at 11:36am Reply

    • annemariec: I’m really struck by the thought that warm vanillas may not be for bombshells. I’m a bit inclined to agree with you, but I suspect many bombshells have worn Shalimar over the years, so there you go. And men seem to like Shalimar, from all accounts. April 26, 2013 at 5:53pm Reply

    • Annikky: I agree with you on vanilla, but I make an exception for Shalimar – to my nose it isn’t cuddly at all. The reason I included it in my line-up is exactly that if one expects a nice vanilla-bergamot scent, one might be in for quite a surprise. Shalimar seems to manage to overdose on several ingredients at once and I get quite a lot of leather from it, plus almost a gasolin-y note.

      Une Fleur the Cassie is a great choice, I am draining my 5 ml bottle with alarming speed. April 27, 2013 at 5:01am Reply

  • machula: I love that you picked Ava Gardner, she is nothing short of gorgeous! 🙂 I would let her wear Fracas or Tabac Blond April 26, 2013 at 9:23am Reply

    • Elena: Tabac Blond is my pick, too. April 26, 2013 at 9:57am Reply

    • Victoria: She’s so stunning, isn’t she! Tabac Blond was another one of Farran’s top choices, by the way! I didn’t mention it because it has been altered so much. April 26, 2013 at 11:37am Reply

    • Emma M: These were the first two fragrances that sprang to my mind too! April 28, 2013 at 10:37am Reply

  • Connie: I fell in love with cinema before I gave perfume a thought. As hobbies,they’re a good fit. Both are somewhat aspirational- a chance to step into another life, whether through sight and sound or smell. Excited to read your article. April 26, 2013 at 10:08am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s exactly how I feel. It’s a chance to fantasize and forget about the routine for a moment. April 26, 2013 at 11:38am Reply

  • Lauren: I loved this! When I’m in a ‘bombshell’ mood I love to wear Tocca Cleopatra, or something similar like Narcisso Rodriguez for Her. I don’t think men my age really like this kind of fragrance but I think it’s so sexy. I love to wear it on the weekends when I go out by myself. April 26, 2013 at 10:09am Reply

    • Victoria: What perfumes do you get most compliments on, Lauren? April 26, 2013 at 11:39am Reply

    • annemariec: I wear NR for Her at weekends too. It’s very much a ‘me’ fragrance, but I’ve never thought of it as a bombshell. But it’s musky, of course, and men like musk fragrances on women, or so I’ve heard … ? April 26, 2013 at 5:58pm Reply

    • Karina: I have NR for her and wear it often. The funny thing is when I smelt it on my mother it was divine for me, the musk was just heavenly. But I don’t smell it like that on myself, in fact I cant really smell it at all!

      I’ve heard that many are somewhat anosmic to musk but if I could smell it on someone else I don’t think I am. I’m so confused! April 27, 2013 at 3:19am Reply

  • Apollonia: I also love all things old-time Hollywood and of course, perfume. The absolute first thing that comes to mind with the word “bombshell” is Rochas Femme. I’m also a brunette and this fragrance is somehow just dark, warm and perfect for my olive skin and dark hair. The plummy note just sends me into perfume paradise, and it certainly isn’t an airy, light, summer fresh smell. No, Femme is sultry, sensual, languid,……..bombshell! April 26, 2013 at 10:14am Reply

    • Victoria: It really is! I also love its sibling Christian Dior Diorella, but it’s fresh and citrusy on top, whereas Femme is smoldering all the way. April 26, 2013 at 11:40am Reply

  • Di: I tend to agree that there are different types of bombshell. Joan Crawford, Roseland Russell, and Dunaway in their superbusiness women modes (My Girl Friday, Network Mildred Pierce) would have worn Daim Blond, but would have nothing to do with a flighty bombeshell like Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn Monroe would, in Some Like it Hot would have worn Agent Provacateur, if only the “fuzzy end of the stick” cheapskates who she dated had bought her a bottle. (Jack Lemmon, in the sequal to thesame movie would. of course, have worn Daphne when marrying his millioniare. Yeah, they’re really are all types of bombshells).
    Society bombshells would wear Channel No. 5, except of course Grace Kelly who was an Hermes girl.
    Today’s bombshells (and nobodies) of course each have their own perfume or set of perfumes. April 26, 2013 at 10:31am Reply

    • Victoria: What fun perfume-actress parallels, Di! And it’s so true about Chanel No 5; I read in one actress biography (don’t recall which one) that you smelled clouds of it on the set. April 26, 2013 at 2:05pm Reply

      • Di: Thank you for overlooking my egregious grammer.
        Actually, it is my understanding that today’s stars generally don’t wear fragrance on the red carpet because the designers don’t want perfume to soak into the borrowed frocks.
        Fracas is a bomb shell perfume, I just can’t figure out which bomb shell would wear it; perhaps Veronica Lake and Carole Lombard-blondes who demanded total attention at all times. April 26, 2013 at 5:12pm Reply

  • Absolute Scentualist: The list I think of as “bombshell” fragrances includes Une Rose, Diva, Kingdom, Fracas, Absolue Pour Le Soir, Rochas Femme edt, Mitsouko, Bandit, Amaranthine (for subtlety, of course), Rossy de Palma Eau de Protection, L’Arte di Gucci, Daim Blond, A la Nuit, Chanel No. 19, Habinita, Paco Rabanne La Nuit, Pure Poison, Isabey Gardenia, NR for Her in the oil concentration and the original Obsession for women, which when worn lightly can be absolutely sensual and gorgeous. April 26, 2013 at 10:59am Reply

    • Victoria: Your list is great! Thank you for sharing it. I love that you’ve included No 19 on it, because it is a perfume I find to have the right blend of allure and mystery, but it’s often described as too cold and aloof. April 26, 2013 at 2:06pm Reply

  • george: I think Nehme is spot on with Tubereuse Criminal, mainly because that blast of menthol within a floral approximates to the ice pick wielding seductress of Basic Instinct. April 26, 2013 at 11:18am Reply

    • Heather: Love this!! – it does indeed have that quality. April 26, 2013 at 11:46am Reply

    • Victoria: So true, George! 🙂 April 26, 2013 at 2:08pm Reply

  • Eva S.: Chanel no 5 Elixir sensuel, Bvlgari Jasmin Noir. April 26, 2013 at 11:35am Reply

    • Victoria: I really need to try Jasmin Noir again. I have a sample someplace, and I’m going to find it tonight. April 26, 2013 at 2:09pm Reply

      • Stacey: Would love to read a Jasmin Noir review from you, Victoria! April 26, 2013 at 10:59pm Reply

  • Heather: What fun! I agree with so many that have been named already, but the first one that popped into my head was PdN Sacrebleu – sultry but understated, only detected when one leans in close. I can see Ava in it. April 26, 2013 at 11:44am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for mentioning Sacrebleu, which is one of my favorites too. I also imagine Catherine Deneuve wearing it in Belle de Jour. April 26, 2013 at 2:16pm Reply

  • Leah: For me its Fracas, Narcisse Noir and somewhat oddly La Fille de Berlin – the fragrance has such an unexpected and unique aura. Whenever I smell it, I am always surprised that the smell is coming from me. April 26, 2013 at 3:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can see why La Fille de Berlin would make it onto your bombshell perfume list. To me it has that signature complexity and mystery. It also makes me think of Marlene Dietrich. April 27, 2013 at 8:20am Reply

  • Karen Strickholm: A long time ago, I was a private maid. When the woman I worked for was away on a cruise, I sampled a dab of her Chanel 19 from her dressing table. I know, I know. Wrong of me.

    But it was love at first whiff, and has remained so ever since. For some of us, our body chemistry mixes with Chanel 19 and makes magic. I am lucky enough to be one of those people.

    I can’t tell you how many times a stranger — male or female but mostly guys — have buried their noses into my neck and said, “Oh my God what is that perfume?” as they inhale deeply.

    Definitely my #1 bombshell perfume choice, although I enjoy finding out about new ones too! April 26, 2013 at 3:24pm Reply

    • Annikky: I love your story, thank you for sharing! When I was a student, I stayed with a very sophisticated elderly couple – the man was a professor and the woman a retired doctor. They didn’t lead a luxurious life by any means, but the apartment was exquisite: they had managed to preserve many objects from pre-war years, had a wonderful library and a small but tasteful art collection. And the lady had a tiny bottle of Chanel No 5 that I occasionally stole. I still feel bad for behaving like such a brat (stealing the Chanel was the least of it) back then. No 5 is not my favourite, but I respect it and it felt so right in that apartment: a symbol of quality and refinement, in perfect harmony with everything around it. And a reminder that sophistication is not about unlimited funds. April 27, 2013 at 4:49am Reply

    • Victoria: This is such a great story, Karen! We had a family friend, who was always very elegant, very well-put together. I remember seeing her apply perfume from a big crystal bottle. I don’t remember what perfume it was, but in my imagination it’s No 19 for some reason.

      As you say, the way you wear a perfume makes a big difference in how it’s perceived. Some scents are a perfect fit, others not so much. But whenever I wear No 19, my husband compliments me on it. April 27, 2013 at 8:27am Reply

      • Eva S.: Oh, I`m very much into Chanel, but I haven’t had the courage to try no 19 so far…. April 27, 2013 at 11:09am Reply

        • Victoria: Eva, please do try it! Even if you don’t end up loving it, it’s such a high-quality, unique perfume. It’s not at all intimidating, and you’re into Chanel, so you will be ok. 🙂 April 29, 2013 at 8:03am Reply

  • Nancy A.: Ava Gardner was the epitome of a smoldering siren with or without fragrance especially when she altered the career/romantic life of Frank Sinatra. Guerlain’s Sous Le Vent, L’Heure Bleu or so many of the (Guerlain) notable compositions were created in the name of love and enough to prod my romantic memory when worn. April 26, 2013 at 4:15pm Reply

  • Ariadne: When I think Bombshell I think Jean Harlow and no other. I believe her scent was Mitsouko.
    Seems like mixing chypre and leather with your satin and roses is essential for smelling like a BShell.
    I can’t think of a single tutti- fruity Bombshell! April 26, 2013 at 4:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: I remember reading that Jean Harlow’s husband doused himself with Mitsouko before committing suicide. April 27, 2013 at 8:32am Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: Tuberose, gardenia and other swoony florals feel “bombshell” to me, although everyone knows Marily Monroe famously wore Chanel No. 5 to bed. My votes for Ava Gardner type secents would be Carnal Flower, the original Agent Provocateur, Serge Lutens’ A la Nuit, my personal favorite femme fatale scent, Black Rosette by Alexandra Balahouatis (does she still make it?) because it smells so leathery and kinky; ditto Musc Ravageur. I also like Tuberose Gardenia, the only Estee Lauder scent I have ever liked, Opium (old school, but still effective), Prada Candy because it smells so lickable, Annick Goutal’s Grand Amour, Tom Ford’s Black Orchid- sexy, androgynous and hot- Narcisco Rodrieguez for Her, and Coco Noir. A long time ago, the car company Lamborghini (!?!) put out a perfume called “Kif” (naughty, naughty!) that smelled like a blend of Opium and Dioressence: a very dark, ambery Oriental. I adored it- it even came in a black glass bottle shaped like a sportscar! I horded my last few drops to wear for my first book launch party, and now I can’r seem to find it any more, but it was super, super sexy, expensive and kind of dangrous,much like a black Murcielago. April 26, 2013 at 4:48pm Reply

    • Di: There is a play called Venus in Furs about an audition for a play about S&M in which the actress and (male) playwright re-enact the dynamics of power and weakness. Musc Ravageur is the perfect perfume for the actress in that one.
      PS It is my understanding that a movie of this play will be screened at the Cannes Film Festival. April 26, 2013 at 5:17pm Reply

    • Victoria: Another great list! As a white floral lover, I find them to be sultry. Also, tuberose smells so fleshy, reminiscent of sunwarmed skin.

      Black Rosette is still around! April 27, 2013 at 8:35am Reply

    • Jil: Lynn: I remember the fragrance Lamborghini Kif, it indeed is a wonderful fragrance, really hard to find, however found my bottle at thefragrancefactory.com
      Best to you Jil. November 16, 2014 at 7:44pm Reply

  • Az: For me, Lauren Bacall is a bombshell. Beautiful, sexy but not in your face sexy (not that there is anything wrong with that!). I see her in something like Chanel No19 but bombshell perfumes, to me, are not as restrained. Like Rochas Femme, Kingdom, or Poison. A little contradiction there – the bombshell perfume being more in your face. 🙂 April 26, 2013 at 5:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: I remember reading that she loved the scent of gardenias, but like you, I imagine her in something green and mossy. So, maybe Ma Griffe, which smells of green gardenia and mossy woods? April 27, 2013 at 8:37am Reply

      • Az: haven’t tried that one but that does sound bacall-ish. 🙂 April 27, 2013 at 3:55pm Reply

  • annemariec: What great lists, and what a great article to start with! I’m glad indeed to find some of my faves mentioned – Femme, Habanita, Dioressence, Chanel No 19, Amaranthine (gee, haven’t worn that in ages, must look it out).

    But I’m not a Bombshell or even an aspiring Bombshell. My clothing style is relatively understated, as is my personality as a whole. So I use perfume – and sometimes jewellery or scarves – to make the statement. I read somewhere recently that this is not uncommon in reserved and introverted people; they use perfume to say things they won’t say by other means.

    And really, if you are going to wear Femme, you may not need the deeply exposed cleavage, the heavy earrings and the smokey eyes: Femme is doing all that work for you. April 26, 2013 at 5:48pm Reply

    • Karina: That fascinates me what you said about introverts and perfume. I’m moderately introverted and adore perfume like everyone else here, but I never made the connection between the two.

      I think that is so true that introverts would use perfume to ‘speak’ for them and I think they are possibly more discerning in their perfume choices as a result.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if introverts convey a lot about themselves through their fashion/makeup choices as well. April 27, 2013 at 3:31am Reply

      • annemariec: Yup, we introverts are complex and fascinating people! 🙂 Actually, I have been thinking about this introvert/extrovert thing more than usual lately because my teenage son is obviously developing as an introvert, and I am keeping a bit of an eye on him because of that. I know what he is going through. April 27, 2013 at 6:55pm Reply

        • L: As an introvert myself, I’d like to recommend two fascinating books on the topic, both by Marti Olsen Laney:

          The Introvert Advantage
          The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child April 28, 2013 at 3:30am Reply

          • L: Meant to ask Anne Marie – Do you remember where you read about introverts and perfume? April 28, 2013 at 3:34am Reply

            • annemariec: Nah, sorry … I read so many blogs and comments … Thanks for the book reference by the way. I’ll check it out. April 28, 2013 at 7:30pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can relate! There are many things going against me in trying for a bombshell look, but it’s fun to wear a lush, sultry perfume and just enjoy the fantasy.

      I just love what you say about Femme, and I agree with you. It’s a fragrance that dresses you up and more! April 27, 2013 at 8:38am Reply

      • Karina: Yes it seems contradictory for introverted women to wear bombshell scents but I think it might actually make for an intriguing contrast. She looks shy and reserved but her perfume tells another story… April 27, 2013 at 12:20pm Reply

  • annemariec: Oh – and if anyone wants to enact their bombshell fantasies in the privacy of their own bathroom, look no further than Lush’s Firefox shower gel. Jasmine and honey like there’s no tomorrow. April 26, 2013 at 6:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: Sounds wonderful! I love the combination of jasmine and honey. April 27, 2013 at 8:40am Reply

  • behemot: I don’t know now what could serve bombshells well, but at 17, I had the idea it was YSL Opium.
    I was already in college and looked very young, so I wanted to make myself looking (and smelling) more mature (what a stupid idea, now I know, I know).
    When going out, I used to apply heavy eye makeup and a lot of Opium. Five or six sprays, that is. Everybody commented on my perfume, but people seemed to like it !
    I wouldn’t do it now, though 🙂 April 26, 2013 at 7:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: Everyone goes through that I think. In my early 20s, everyone thought I was a teenager, and you can’t believe how it used to upset me. 🙂

      Opium is definitely sultry, even the new version. April 27, 2013 at 8:42am Reply

      • behemot: Oh yes, I know what you mean. I went through the same ordeal. In my early twenties, I volunteered at the stage theatre and had a crush on a lead actor , who was 40. One day, he asked me if I am going to study theatre after I graduate from high school. I almost fainted and cried all my way home 🙁
        I hoped it will get better when I will get older and people will finally consider me as an an adult 🙂 April 27, 2013 at 2:05pm Reply

  • solanace: How amazing is Ava Gardner? (And I want that glass!) Delightful article! The emphasis on seducing oneself speaks to my heart, that’s the whole point about being a perfumista, isn’t it? (And a bombshell too, now I realize.)
    Perfumewise, when I started reading I was thinking exactly Mitsouko, because of the peach skin. April 27, 2013 at 12:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: I nearly jumped in my chair when Laren Stover mentioned it, and it made so much sense to me. The perfume ads keep telling us that we wear perfume to seduce the opposite sex, but really it’s all about seducing yourself! April 28, 2013 at 12:36pm Reply

      • solanace: I understand why you jumped. This is a recurring theme in your blog: wear perfume to have fun, to enjoy it. And others will enjoy it along. It’s a shame that mainstream marketing has such a silly idea of women as sexist, dumb creatures who aim nothing else but seducing men. A true bombshell seduces men serendipitously! She does not walk into Humphey’s office in order to ruin his life, she is just seeking help. I think an exception is Kenzo, though. The house may have gone LVMH, but the ads are still classy, because they show women having fun. Relaxing in that Thai hut for Kenzo Amour. Or enjoying the city by night for Kenzo Flower…. Have a nice week, V! April 29, 2013 at 5:10am Reply

        • Victoria: Oh, I so agree on Kenzo (although these days they’re moving into the same direction as everyone else). Their perfumes were also edgy, but wearable. Flower is still one of my favorites, and I just pulled the bottle out of storage so that it can join my seasonal wardrobe. 🙂 April 29, 2013 at 8:09am Reply

  • Maria: Yes ‘perfume is my way to pretend otherwise’, too . Brilliant!
    And Jasmine and Cigarettes is my way for the middle of summer, when is really hot. For some reasons it works perfect.
    I would say someone has really to understand what a bombshell is about. It is not about loving a perfume and feeling good about it, as you said it in your article, it is more than that. Hence the difference between Coco and Coco Mademoiselle, as you put it in very simple terms. When will they learn? 🙂 April 27, 2013 at 12:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: Fragrance ads are really stuck in another century. The concept is nearly identical in all of them! Plus, most of them equate looking sullen with looking sexy.

      (On reflection though, saying that today’s ads are stuck in another century is doing injustice to great, innovative ads we have seen in the past.) April 28, 2013 at 1:01pm Reply

  • maja: It has got to be either chypre or leather. Since I prefer chypres, I would say Mitsouko. Speaking of mossy 🙂 I have to thank you for the recent Scherrer review. It’s arrestingly beautiful and I can’t get enough of it. I am not looking for a signature scent but it could easily become it. April 27, 2013 at 2:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also don’t think I could have just one perfume now, but if I were forced to wear only Mitsouko, I wouldn’t complain. 🙂 April 28, 2013 at 1:02pm Reply

  • MargeauxB: Gardner wore Fracas most of the time, but she also wore Tabu by Dana. April 27, 2013 at 3:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Margeaux! I didn’t know this, but I can imagine her wafting either one of these big, sultry perfumes. April 28, 2013 at 1:03pm Reply

  • AndreaR: A fabulous image of the glorious Ava Gardner! There’s no doubt what so ever that she’s the epitome of a bombshell. Today I received the May issue of Martha Stewart’s Living magazine. On page 46 there’s an advertisement for milk featuring Salma Hayek in a shocking pink robe and curlers in her hair pouring milk. In spite of her morning garb, her bombshellishness simply oozes off the page. How does she do it and what fragrance would she wear? April 27, 2013 at 9:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also love Hayek, and I’m now googling this milk ad. 🙂 April 28, 2013 at 1:04pm Reply

      • solanace: Just googled it. A star. And a fun pic, thank’s! April 29, 2013 at 5:15am Reply

  • Mihaela: Since I am not into niche, my femme fatale will be mainstreamly perfumed with Agent Provocateur and/or Angel in edt… Sorry but no chypre here and no vintage. 🙂 April 28, 2013 at 6:11am Reply

    • Victoria: Those are such lush, rich perfumes! I’m with you on the EDT version of Angel. It just sparkles. Everyone has their own idea of what femme fatale means to them, and it doesn’t have to be anything vintage. April 28, 2013 at 1:10pm Reply

      • Mihaela: My bombshell is Sophia Loren! She needs a flamboyant, sparkling perfume to match her personality, nothing restraint or rigid. I just love her! 🙂 April 28, 2013 at 4:09pm Reply

        • Victoria: I do too! She is gorgeous, at any age. I can watch her movies again and again and never get tired of them. April 29, 2013 at 8:08am Reply

  • E.Lime: Seducing oneself is a great way of conceptualizing the way perfume can boost confidence and make one feel sexy. I do see room for conflict here, though. Case in point: I tried Carnal Flower and felt like a sex kitten wearing it, but my husband really disliked it, so no matter how alluring I thought I might be, it was a turn-off. It strikes me that Carnal Flower might be too in-your-face for bombshell perfume. It reveals too much, perhaps. I do adore Coco, but Rossy de Palma also seems mysterious to me (I swear I smell a hint of ash in there), as well as Voleur de Roses. April 28, 2013 at 1:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: In the end, it’s subjective, and of course, it’s hard to predict other people’s reactions. But if you love Carnal Flower, you can still wear it for yourself. And save some other perfumes your husband likes to woo him. 🙂 April 28, 2013 at 1:27pm Reply

      • E.Lime: True! I was also thinking that Violet Blonde (which he likes) is kind of a bombshell perfume: there’s something very luxurious about it, yet at the same time, it almost feels like it’s missing some of its top notes to me, so there’s something that draws me in looking for them.
        Anyways, I always enjoy reading the blog, and you are so generous in responding to everyone’s comments! I am always glad to see your articles featured. April 28, 2013 at 9:31pm Reply

        • Victoria: I really love chatting with all of you. It’s the best part of blogging for me. 🙂

          I keep complaining that Violet Blonde needs to have more drama, but I’ve drained my decant in no time and I’m planning to invest in a full bottle at some point. It’s not perfect, perhaps, but it’s still lovely. April 29, 2013 at 8:06am Reply

  • xenia: Catching up on this article, as it’s been posted for a few days.

    My ultimate femme fatal fragrance is Gucci Rush. It may not be the most fitting fragrance with the definition of NOT announcing yourself with a fragrance though, as it does announce you, no questions about that. But it’s SO UNIQUE! and so sexual – brave, even, i would say! I think of Fanny Ardant though, La Femme d’à côté… so… not very subtle… not very film noir, but very Français …Passion… April 29, 2013 at 4:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: Xenia, I’m so happy that you mentioned Gucci Rush, because to me it also feels sultry, but not in a provocative, cleavage bearing manner. I love your comparison with Fanny Ardant too. April 29, 2013 at 5:58pm Reply

      • xenia: Merci, Victoria! I think of this fragrance as “wardrobe”, because it’s like a vivid presentation… which has images, sounds, even taste. it’s a *full-on* experience. And yes, packaging is, although, very modern, not conducive of applying it lightly, which is a true faux pas! So agree with that statement as well. April 29, 2013 at 8:31pm Reply

  • xenia: ps. Gucci Rush fragrance had *very terrible* advertising, and i think it gets misunderstood – or over-used. It’s one of those perfumes you have to apply by walking into a cloud of mist, as otherwise it’s too much!… April 29, 2013 at 4:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: Not to mention that useless plastic packaging! April 29, 2013 at 6:00pm Reply

  • Zeineb: I looooove Ava Gardner 🙂 The article is awesome!!!!

    My new crush – on many level – is Hedonist by Victoria Minya. I couldn’t agree more with her vision, that perfume should be exceptional and exclusive and self-indulging!
    I know I am easy to influence with the marketing bla bla, but I really feel very sexy and very femme fatale -ish already when I apply it – maybe the cost of it adds a little luxury 🙂 The bottle helps a lot the experience, the crystals are glamorous and make you feel like a star!!!

    My other old-time femme fatale scent was Arabia from Serge Lutens, it’s very hot and provoking, I always felt so hot in it 😀 April 30, 2013 at 11:07am Reply

  • Laura: The bombshell … a difficult concept to apply to the days of Lady Ga-Ga. Especially when so many bombshell fragrances of the ’80’s are reformulated … good bye Opium! good bye Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme … etc etc.

    Still, a couple of weeks ago I discovered a wonderful fragrance I intend to use come autumn: Guerlain Rose Barbare. Reminds me of the original Poison, but devoid of whatever used to translate in “mustiness” on my skin. I even love its name. The price, alas, is less enticing but I’d rather have one flacon of Rose Barbare than 3 flacons of mass-fume.
    Now if the would have clothed this precious elixir in a flacon a la Boadicea the Victorious, I would have bought it on the spot.

    Barbaric me hehehe 😀 April 30, 2013 at 3:17pm Reply

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