Valentine’s Day Perfume: Seven Romantic Notes Part II


Please see Part I of Romantic Notes.

Furs and Ambers

The Ukrainian winters of my childhood were frigid enough to require a heavy fur coat. I still remember the warm scent of fur and its contrast with the crisp mineral winter air. Although I no longer wear fur, the memories are strong enough to make this aroma special. For me, the notes evoking the warmth of fur in fragrance tend to fall into the amber category: the rich resinous ambers like the amber gold standard Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan, the spicy sweet ambers like Armani Privé Ambre Soie , the baroque ambers like Guerlain Attrape-Coeur / Guet-Apens or Hermèssence Ambre Narguilé. While the ambery notes of Hermès Eau des Merveilles are of a salty ambergris variety, wearing this fragrance, especially in the parfum concentration, is not unlike being wrapped in a fur stole.

In addition, a number of classical perfumes suggest the comforting warmth of fur against the skin. Taking the idea literally, in 1947 Rochas offered a fragrance to perfume a fur coat, naming it Mouche after his cat. Rochas Femme, on the other hand, offers a more veiled approach—its animalic warmth underscored by the languid jasmine notes makes it among the most seductive fragrance available. Other classical fur perfumes include Guerlain Shalimar, Lanvin My Sin, and Caron Narcisse Noir.


I promise that this has nothing to do with S&M! The romantic leather I have in mind is soft, suede-like, perhaps with a tantalizing masculine smoky note. It is the luxurious richness of iris drenched Chanel Cuir de Russie, rather than the brazen presence of Robert Piguet Bandit. Although the idea of an animalic note may not immediately appeal to everyone, scents that recall leather, suede, skin or fur are often among the most seductive. By way of example, it is the animalic accord that lifts the scent of magnolia and endows its perky citrusy fragrance with a mysterious aura.

Among the classics, Caron Tabac Blond is a fragrance that is as close to the magic carpet as I can imagine. One whiff of its tobacco and honey accented leather, and I find myself walking the winter streets of Paris. If it is a romantic fantasy, it is indicative of a romance between me and this amazing city. By contrast, the leather notes of fragrances like Frédéric Malle Le Parfum de Thérèse and Hermès Kelly Calèche are delicate and velvety, offering a more luminous and lighter character. Finally, the ambery leather of Annick Goutal Les Orientalistes Ambre Fétiche is another wonderful option.


The sweet fragrance of honey blends animalic richness with petally floralcy. It makes me think of heavy clusters of wisteria blossoms as well as of soft leather. Indeed, the quintessential romantic flower rose is rich with the scent of honey. As Guerlain Nahéma reveals, enhancing the honey facet of rose can lead to a fascinating outcome.

I also love a blend of honey and patchouli in Lancôme’s classic Magie Noire. The honey provides a seductive animalic undercurrent in Parfums Delrae Amoureuse and Tom Ford Velvet Gardenia. An overdose of honey, on the other hand, is something I find it rather challenging (exhibit A: Serge Lutens Miel de Bois).


The last romantic note in these series is fig. I hesitated adding it, simply because I have not been successful in finding a fragrance that captures the aroma of a ripe fig perfectly. Yet, the scent is so ravishing—the honeyed sweetness, the milky richness and the incredibly complex floral warmth–that I cannot resist speaking about it. Hermès Un Jardin en Méditerranée brings to life the milky green note, while Slatkin Black Fig and Absinthe manages to allude to the sweetness of figs, yet beautiful as they are, these fragrances still do not showcase the full spectrum of this unique fruit. Perhaps, this little fantasy of time simply needs time to become realized. After all, I find such olfactive quests quite exciting.

Please see Part I of Romantic Notes.

Photograph: Brassaï (French, born Transylvania, 1899–1984,) Lovers in a small cafe in the Italian quarter.



  • Our Lady of the Flowers: Muscs Koublaï Khän is my favorite “fur” perfume. the sensual animalic yet refined radiance and silkiness, the sheer luminosity asserting its irresistible luxurious charm in a lingering trail on the skin is so beautiful by a cold winter day. February 11, 2008 at 2:46pm Reply

  • Fragrantica: We love your articles! They are always fresh and with insight. Allow us please to promote little fragrance pool we are running at

    Our aim is to find out what the opposite sex prefers. We think that this experiment is an interesting one and that the results might be very diverse, but let us see. February 11, 2008 at 3:25pm Reply

  • Maria: What a great and unexpected selection! Thank you for these articles. February 12, 2008 at 11:05am Reply

  • sweetlife: *contented sigh*

    Love reading about these — and I’ve never made the connection between roses and honey before, two of my favorite notes. I’m always looking for the deep throated, winey aspect of both.

    I also enjoyed your amber/fur connection. I am slowly introducing more complex perfumes to a friend who started out thinking she hated perfumes. She loves woody and woodsy notes, so I told her I had a fir-based perfume she should try. She was momentarily horrified — “Fur?!” But I love nearly all the ones you have listed and getting to know the others. (Attrape-Couer, what a revelation!) February 12, 2008 at 3:45pm Reply

  • Tammi: What about that L’Artisan fig fragrance? How would you rate it? February 12, 2008 at 5:55pm Reply

  • Yelena: What a fantastic series of articles! You really hit the nail on the head with your choices- ambers, leathers, sandalwood, fig and jasmine (my latest obsession). I have compiled quite a list of favorite scents to revisit and you have reminded that I have a forgotten Lutens left to sniff (Santal de Mysore). February 13, 2008 at 8:01pm Reply

  • Yelena: What a fantastic series of articles! You really hit the nail on the head with your choices- ambers, leathers, sandalwood, fig and jasmine (my latest obsession). I have compiled quite a list of favorite scents to revisit and you have reminded that I have a forgotten Lutens left to sniff (Santal de Mysore). February 13, 2008 at 8:01pm Reply

  • Emma: I’m so grateful you’ve set up this site and written such informative and interesting posts – I’m loving discovering the world of fragrance that lies behind the high street! March 26, 2008 at 9:28am Reply

  • Kitty H: I am English and my favourite Fig scent is Miller Harris’s gorgeous FIGUE AMERE which has a smoky complexity to it – although Lynne Harris describes it as ‘salty’. do others know it? April 4, 2008 at 2:03pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Kitty, I really enjoy Figue Amere for its smoked fig and green notes. Your described it so well when you said salty. It makes it different from most other figs one encounters. April 4, 2008 at 3:40pm Reply

  • Anonymous: what about diptyque philosykos April 9, 2008 at 11:38am Reply

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