French Magazine Recommendations : Sexy Perfumes For Her and For Him

Reading French magazines never feels as indulgent as spending a lazy Sunday afternoon with a pile of American Marie Claires or Vogues. “It’s language practice,” I say to my husband, who gives me a look indicating that he’s not buying any of it. Little does he know that it’s also an interesting cultural study, because whatever the globalization adherents believe, France and USA remain distinctive, right down to their fragrance preferences. One example is the choice of perfumes that French magazines consider sexy.


“Parfums sexy” editorials were all over the magazines leading up to Valentine’s Day and now they’re resurfacing again in preparation for the summer holidays. I suppose that when you have 30 paid vacation days, why not use some of that time for seduction.

At first, I skimmed through them, expecting to find nothing interesting, but when I spotted Clinique’s Aromatics Elixir, a dark, earthy diva, in a couple of different publications (Marie Claire, Elle, Vogue), I started to pay more attention. There was nary a foody vanilla in sight and apart from a scattering of some new launches, the choices covered a wider range than I had anticipated. In the end, I compiled my notes for your enjoyment. Now I can read French magazines and proudly call it “research.”

Parfums Sexy Pour Elle

Guerlain Shalimar–featured on many French lists of sexy perfumes, Shalimar is just as perfect for dabbing in the morning on the way to the office (and I say dabbing, because this beauty has a powerful voice) or applied more liberally in the evening. But do wear it to seduce yourself first.

Guerlain L’Heure Bleue–another jewel in Guerlain’s crown, a baroque vignette of orange blossom, iris and tonka bean. It wears like an opulent velvet gown.

Clinique Aromatics Elixir–few people would argue that Aromatics Elixir is a masterpiece, but this dark and earthy perfume created by the same perfumer, Bernard Chant, who gave us Aramis and Parfums Gres Cabochard, has so much character that many consider it challenging. Still, Aromatics Elixir deserves a long courtship to get to know it.

Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme (2012)–a sweet, marshmallow orange blossom. Not a personal favorite, but it’s a steady best-seller in France.

Kenzo Amour–fine, there is “love” in the name, but this Kenzo perfume clings to the skin like warm silk and smells of warm musk, whipped cream and frangipani petals.

Estée Lauder Sensuous Noir–caramelized woods and patchouli, with a flourish of pink pepper. I prefer the original Sensuous, but its darker sibling is interesting too.

Chanel Coco Noir–well-crafted, polished older sister to Coco Mademoiselle.

Yves Saint Laurent Manifesto–a lighter, less exciting form of Thierry Mugler Angel with a jasmine tea accent.

Calvin Klein Euphoria–cotton candy + patchouli + a dramatic green top borrow from Estée Lauder Aliage. And it’s a sillage monster that will announce your presence.

Christian Dior Hypnotic Poison–a perennial French best seller and a perfume gem worth checking out, whether or not it reads to you as sexy.

tom ford extremeGucci-Guilty-homme

Parfums Sexy Pour Lui

This list is less interesting than its feminine counterpart, but it might be selection bias because I read mostly women’s fashion magazines.

Givenchy Pi–the cool top notes of basil, tarragon and mandarin are contrasted with warm vanilla and toasted almonds. I don’t know if Pi was reformulated, but when I smelled it at Planet Parfum (our local version of Sephora), I was surprised to find it smelling like a cheap vanilla candle.

Gucci Guilty Pour Homme — a competent fragrance blending earthy and herbal notes (fougère) that’s given a modern, bright treatment. It’s too polished for my tastes to be truly sexy.

Tom Ford Noir–Tom Ford does Guerlain Habit Rouge, a dandy-like blend of orange blossom and amber. In the case of Tom Ford, he accents it with plenty of leather and incense.

Tom Ford Extreme–dramatic and dark, but just enough to remain acceptable amongst polite company. The drydown has a suave leather note that on the right person is irresistible.

Christian Dior Fahrenheit–for my money, this is the most alluring of the masculine bunch, and I even wear it myself. The violet tinged leather is devastatingly sexy.

Dolce & Gabbane Pour Homme–a pleasant, casual blend of lavender and blond tobacco.

Calvin Klein Encounter–I haven’t smelled Encounter, so if you have, please comment. The notes of mandarin, cardamom, cognac, and oud sound interesting.

What are your “parfums sexy”?



  • Sebastiaan: I have to say I am big fan of Tom Ford’s Noir as a sexy fragrance. I find it very recognizable and controversial amongst so many blend and slightly boring male fragrances. Another Tom Ford that I find very enticing as a men’s fragrance is Ombre d’Hyacinth. I personally love floral and powdery fragrances, and although the base notes feel a bit neglected in comparison to the top notes, I do think it counts as a ‘sexy’ and striking men’s fragrance.
    Never will my Dior Homme get boring, I find it one of the most interesting male fragrances I have ever smelled. Although I cannot say I have to slap inappropriate attention away when wearing this fragrance, it does have a sensual feel to it.
    Of the more commercial fragrances I would have to say that Armani Code and Viktor & Rolf Spice Bomb are very sexy. Although I would never wear Armani Code I have experienced men receiving compliments from women when wearing it. The warmth and the sweetness of Spicebomb are almost leaning towards being feminine; however the subtle spicy notes make it a very interesting and sexy fragrance for men. I might have considered buying it if the bottle was a bit more attractive and it wasn’t so commercial. June 17, 2013 at 7:41am Reply

    • Victoria: Armani Code has a great drydown. Sara, commenting below, mentions it too, and I have to agree. It’s warm and inviting. I like the feminine version too, except that it’s a touch too sweet for me. June 17, 2013 at 1:26pm Reply

  • Zazie: Among my fragrances, Shalimar indeed elecits the most immediate and enthusiastic comments from my husband. Shalimar is a favorite of mine, but I would never call it sexy, go figure.
    He also seems quite fond of Mitsouko and Gold – he says they smell sensual, and despite they never top “sexy perfume” lists, I agree with him, sort of.
    I personally find the silky beyond love the most sexy of my fragrances, but my husband is not a great fan of tuberose (this is high diplomacy at work – I think he hates it!!!!). June 17, 2013 at 8:41am Reply

    • Victoria: Mitsouko’s drydown is pure bombshell material, IMO! It’s definitely on my “sexy perfume” list. June 17, 2013 at 1:27pm Reply

    • solanace: My husband is another tuberose hater! That’s why I wear my Fracas to work… June 18, 2013 at 5:35am Reply

  • sara: when i smell armani code on my husband, i swoon. surprised, because on paper i didn’t like it. June 17, 2013 at 9:05am Reply

    • Victoria: Sometimes skin chemistry makes all the difference! I like Armani Code too. June 17, 2013 at 2:46pm Reply

  • ralu: For the summer I find Nuit de Tubereuse very sexy. In the fall/winter/spring I prefer Coromandel. Carnal Flower is a year-round sexy perfume. 😉 I do need more sexy perfumes.
    Isn’t Aromatics Elixir more of a cold weather fragrance? June 17, 2013 at 9:10am Reply

    • francine: I wore it all year around for 10 years when I was a signature perfume woman. It never occured to me back then that perfume has seasons. June 17, 2013 at 9:22am Reply

      • ralu: If it worked, that’s all that matters. I love Coromandel but feel like I need to stay away from it when it gets hot. Of course the 2 perfumes are different. June 17, 2013 at 9:33am Reply

        • francine: Unfortunately it doesn’t smell the same on me anymore. I was taking medicines that affected my skin chemistry and that’s how I started trying other perfumes. I now notice more how some work better in different climates. June 17, 2013 at 9:49am Reply

          • ralu: That’s unfortunate. May be a good thing is that you got to explore more perfumes. I was also a signature fragrance girl until I got sick of that one perfume (212 at that time) and started exploring and smelling. June 17, 2013 at 11:34am Reply

          • Victoria: I’m with Ralu–sorry for your predicament, but I admire your positive outlook. These changes can be disconcerting, but I hope that you’re finding some new scents to enjoy. June 17, 2013 at 3:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: Coromandel is definitely a cold weather perfume for me. I wore it on a hot day recently, and I had to return home and wash it off. It was too much of a good thing!

      Aromatics Elixir is another winter-only perfume for me. Then again, I handle hot weather so badly that even some richer colognes can be too much for me. June 17, 2013 at 2:49pm Reply

  • cookie queen: Rubj EdP. 100% sexy. 😉
    CQ xxx June 17, 2013 at 9:12am Reply

    • Victoria: Rubj is my sultry choice too! June 17, 2013 at 2:56pm Reply

    • solanace: I have to try Vero Profumo! June 18, 2013 at 5:37am Reply

      • Michaela: Well, I would call Rubj mother of all vintages, more vintage than vintage itself. It takes guts, lots of it to wear it…I almost fainted ! 🙂 June 25, 2013 at 5:17pm Reply

  • Eric: I do this when I read film magazines in German. It’s best language practice ever. June 17, 2013 at 9:19am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree! It beats doing the usual language drills. 🙂 June 17, 2013 at 2:57pm Reply

  • Cybele: Le Labo Rose 31, Ambra di Venezia, Gucci Envy, By Kilian Love, Chanel Cristalle EDT June 17, 2013 at 9:34am Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t heard Ambra di Venezia mentioned for a while, and I even pulled out a sample. It’s such a pretty perfume, and the drydown is soft and rich, a surprising combo. June 17, 2013 at 2:58pm Reply

      • Cybele: nice you gave it a sniff! And, would you consider it sexy at all? This beautiful description by Chandler Burr had inspired me to try it at first: June 17, 2013 at 11:33pm Reply

        • Victoria: The drydown is pure velvet–I completely agree with CB. That part is my favorite, and my husband liked it too (he commented without being asked, which is a good sign). Thank you again for reminding me of this beauty. June 18, 2013 at 10:48am Reply

  • nikki: for women: une fleur de cassie, Shalimar extrait
    for men: kouros June 17, 2013 at 9:40am Reply

    • Victoria: I can’t believe I used to hate Kouros, but at one point something happened, and I completely changed my mind about it. My husband unfortunately doesn’t like it, so I can’t persuade him to wear it. June 17, 2013 at 2:59pm Reply

      • Michaela: Same here, I love Kouros and did anything in my power to make hubby wear. Eventually I sadly had to give up, since he stays loyal to Gucci I pour homme and Opium PH. Love them both but I still find Kouros devastatingly sexy. As I do with Chanel pour Monsieur and Egoiste, too. Again he dislikes them and I couldn’t trick him into accepting them, and God knows I’ ve tried! June 25, 2013 at 5:23pm Reply

  • Bela: It *is* language practice, Victoria.

    When I was a young teenager in France, in the ’60s, I used to spend all my pocket money on US movie magazines: I was in love with Tony Curtis and scoured those magazines for any titbit of information on my idol. I was determined to understand what I was reading (without a dictionary – looking things up is a waste of reading time) so I learned vocabulary, syntax, grammar, etc. effortlessly. It was exhilarating. Those magazines taught me more than any of my teachers at school.

    I’m surprised SL doesn’t feature on the list: every time I come across a French magazine a famous actress or artiste mentions an SL perfume as her favourite. June 17, 2013 at 10:31am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your vote of confidence! My mom reminded me that as a teenager I used to read English gardening magazines and even translate whole passages. No wonder, I have such a soft spot for English gardens. 🙂

      Lutens probably made an appearance, but by the time I started to take notes, I don’t recall seeing any perfumes from the house. I will now pay more attention, as I love these lists. June 17, 2013 at 3:05pm Reply

  • fleurdelys: Those oldies-but-goodies Rochas Femme and Fracas, plus the original Mariella Burani (rrrrrOWrrrr!). June 17, 2013 at 10:39am Reply

    • Victoria: The original Mariella Burani was so glamorous and alluring. A very good friend wore it. I haven’t smelled it in some time though, and your mention brought back some nice memories. June 17, 2013 at 3:07pm Reply

  • Lucas: My “parfums sexy” are Prada Amber Pour Homme Intense or Parfum d’Empire Cuir Ottoman. On certain occasions even Atelier Cologne Rose Anonyme smells sexy as hell 😀 June 17, 2013 at 10:48am Reply

    • Victoria: Mmmm, rose perfumes on men are devastating sexy! June 17, 2013 at 3:07pm Reply

  • Elisa: I’m surprised there are so many gourmands on the French list! I usually lean toward white florals when I’m aiming for sexy, all the better if there’s some musk or vanilla in there too. NR for Her, Sweet Redemption, etc. June 17, 2013 at 11:20am Reply

    • Cybele: please let us know your etc.s! I agree with NR and forgot to add NR Musc Oil for Him to my list June 17, 2013 at 11:28am Reply

    • Victoria: Most orientals popular in France have a sweet edge to them, but I probably wouldn’t call them true gourmands except for Pour Femme and maybe Euphoria. I’m with you on white florals + musk for my love potion perfumes. I love your choices, and like Cybele, I would love to hear the rest of your selection. June 17, 2013 at 3:09pm Reply

      • Elisa: A couple other choices are Carnal Flower (when I have a sample around) and ELPC Tuberose Gardenia. Oh, and DSH Tubereuse. But I really only wear these sultry white florals in summer. If I was trying to be sexy in winter I’d go for amber or tobacco. 🙂 June 17, 2013 at 5:18pm Reply

        • Victoria: Estee Lauder’s Tuberose Gardenia is stunning. Zazie mentioned another tuberose I like, by Kilian’s Beyond Love. Interestingly, tuberose aroma is considered sensual in other cultures too, so there must be something to our associations. June 17, 2013 at 6:09pm Reply

        • Cybele: Thank you for sharing these, I also love PCTG and Carnal Flower and I also adore Manoumalia. June 17, 2013 at 11:14pm Reply

  • Tara Aveilhe: I love that French mags recommend fragrances that American mags would never dare to! It takes real confidence and panache to wear Elixir, L’Heure Bleu, Shalimar, etc., and French women seem to embrace that a bit more readily! June 17, 2013 at 11:25am Reply

    • Victoria: I love that the magazines don’t shy away from mentioning the classics and older fragrances. It also helps that overall the fragrance journalism is much more appreciated in France, and you have magazine writers who’ve made their names working on scent topics. June 17, 2013 at 3:14pm Reply

  • Hannah: I’m not a fan of any of the ones listed except for Fahrenheit.
    Black Cashmere was my sexy perfume and I’m not sure what to replace it with.
    Perfumes that I think are sexy (but not all are necessarily seductive-sexy) are Bulgari Black, Cuir Ottoman, Parfumerie Generale Coze, Alexander Mcqueen Kingdom (rip), YSL M7, CdG edp. I would probably think Hilde Soliani Bell’Antonio is sexy if it didn’t smell like my mom’s coat.
    I was told Wonderwood is sexy. That’s also the only time I’ve been complimented on my perfume by anyone who isn’t my mom. June 17, 2013 at 12:24pm Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: I read a book by Vitaliano Brancati: ”Il Bell’Antonio”. It’s on a beautiful, but impotent man. Giving a perfume that name: hilarious! June 17, 2013 at 2:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: Wonderwood hits the spot for me too. I never think of it as a compliment magnet perfume, but it does garner some nice comments for me.

      And I still mourn Kingdom! June 17, 2013 at 3:15pm Reply

  • Lila: Tuscan Leather by Tom Ford is quite sexy. Tom Ford does amazing things with masculine scents, imho. I also find Bigarade Concentree by FM sexy. I remember my mom wearing Elixir back in the 70’s or 80’s. I must revisit Elixir to see what my adult self thinks about it. June 17, 2013 at 12:30pm Reply

    • Victoria: So true! Ford’s masculine collection is excellent, and it blends exotic and approachable nicely.

      My mother and grandmother wore Magie Noire (among other things), and I enjoyed revisiting it many years later very much. My memory of this perfume–elegant and polished–left me unprepared for its sultry, sensual growl. I would love to know what you think of Aromatics Elixir now. June 17, 2013 at 3:18pm Reply

      • solanace: I’d love to try Magie Noire again on my skin! I wore an entire large-ish bottle of it back in the day. It was the first perfume I bought for myself, surely influenced by the great name and gorgeous ad. Must admit I did not love it at first, but I insisted (the name was too good) and was rewarded. So elegant, and sexy, and it was not expensive! Magie Noire taught me to improve my tastes, like a good wine would do. Wish Lutens or Patricia de Nicolai would do something like it. (Saw that Julia Roberts’ La vie est belle commercial the other day, and found it utterly depressing. So sad, so tacky.) June 18, 2013 at 6:03am Reply

        • Victoria: Gosh, that Magie Noire ad is one of my top favorites still. On the other hand, the recent batch of Lancome ads have all been overly photoshoped and fake-looking. They make women (even beautiful ones like Winslet and Roberts) look like aliens. June 18, 2013 at 10:51am Reply

  • Alityke: The fragrances I wore when first married, Nicky Verfeille Grain de Sables and Dior Poison both my husband and I consider sexy 😉 On him Quorum for the same reasons.
    Others on my list are Chanel No5 EdT and extrait, Gaultier2, Eau de Soir, EL Ambre Ylang Ylang and Ambre Sultan. There are a couple in there that my husband HATES. He allows me one but the other is an absolute no no June 17, 2013 at 12:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: If you miss Grain de Sable, you might want to try Paco Rabanne Calandre. I recommended it to someone who loved GdS, and she thought that it filled the void. And it helps that Calandre is a perfume gem in itself!

      Ok, now, I’m dying to know which perfume your husband hates. 🙂 June 17, 2013 at 3:20pm Reply

    • Jillie: Yes, Victoria’s suggestion of Calandre to replace Grain de Sable is absolutely spot on; it’s very reminiscent of GdeS, only missing a slight melon note. Well worth seeking out. June 18, 2013 at 5:31am Reply

  • Maja: Hypnotic Poison is sexy, I agree. (Too bad you cannot wear it that much in summer) A light spray of Nu is another winner, I guess. 🙂 And Coromandel, of course. But they are all sexy in a sort of carnal way. My idea of “intellectually” sexy, however, has always been a chypre on women and Knize Ten on men. June 17, 2013 at 1:43pm Reply

    • Victoria: Chypre is as sexy to me as a crisp white blouse and a tweed pencil skirt (that nevertheless hugs all of the curves)! June 17, 2013 at 3:21pm Reply

    • solanace: Agree on the chypre too! June 18, 2013 at 6:05am Reply

  • rosarita: I agree about Tom Ford Noir although I like it better on myself than my husband. I count Shalimar edp, better yet perfume, and Coco as my sexiest perfumes. Ava Luxe used to have one called Madame X that was really sexy – dark and sultry, with the perfect smooth leather note – but I don’t think she makes it anymore. June 17, 2013 at 1:54pm Reply

    • Victoria: I steal spritzes from my husband’s Tom Ford Noir all the time. Your mention of Coco reminded me how much I love this perfume on others. I like it on myself too, but whenever I walk past someone who has it on, I always feel tempted to compliment them. June 17, 2013 at 3:23pm Reply

  • Anka: Dear Victoria,
    a sample of CK’s Encounter was in my Advent calender which I bought last month due to a huge sale…
    The main focus is on Cardamom, I smell a twist of lemen – but would have loved to smell the promised mandarine – and lots of rum and cognac. With the domination of cardamom and alcohol the fragrance is a bit undercomplex and flat for my taste. I can’t really smell the oud.
    The cardamom is not very spicy or aromatic but smells rahter dry and a bit sharp. Like an old newspaper where someone has spilled some booze on. But maybe I have to test it again because quite a few people seem to love it! June 17, 2013 at 3:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Anka! The cardamom part sounds great, but flatness doesn’t. An old newspaper soaked in booze–I can just imagine what it smells like! 🙂 I’ll make a note to try it, but it’s good to hear what others think. June 17, 2013 at 3:26pm Reply

  • Austenfan: I am so glad to see Aromatics Elixir featured on this list. Reading about it in this context reminded me of it’s review in the Guide. Lauren Bacall is mentioned in it. Which then reminded me of one of Robin of NST’s reviews where she describes another bombshell of a perfume as: I am woman hear me roar!.
    Which is kind of how I see Bacall.

    On the subject of languages;I read Winnie the Pooh and The Wind in the Willows to improve my English and Le Petit Nicolas to improve my French! June 17, 2013 at 3:48pm Reply

    • Victoria: Robin has a talent for coming up with these catchy phrases! I still remember her description of Crabtree & Evelyn’s Iris as a good perfume, but not the one that would send you to the perfumista’s heaven. 🙂

      When I first moved to Belgium, I would read my favorite books in French. I was so homesick that I didn’t really enjoy reading in French at the point, and whenever I had a free moment, I really wanted to read in English. So, I would cheat a little and pick novels I loved like Sebastien Japrisot’s mysteries. They were so engaging, and before I knew it, I started picking other French novels to read for pleasure. June 17, 2013 at 6:00pm Reply

      • Austenfan: Her wonderful review of Chanel Cristalle got me hooked on her blog. I share her preference of Roger Moore over Sean Connery. June 18, 2013 at 5:24am Reply

    • annemariec: My favourite review of AE is Chandler Burr’s:
      He followed a woman across a park in New York to ask her what perfume she was wearing. It was Aromatics Elixir. June 17, 2013 at 10:50pm Reply

      • Austenfan: I’ve read that one. The trick with AE is to have patience. The opening is a bit much but after 20 minutes or so it softens. It has such a confident presence. I think it was Burr’s review that made me try it over and over again. June 18, 2013 at 2:50am Reply

        • annemariec: Yes, I go back to it because of Burr’s review, but so far I still find it harsh and aggressive. I will persevere! Katie Puckrick loves AE too, and says she wears it only on the small of her back. Sexy idea, that. June 18, 2013 at 4:19am Reply

  • rainboweyes: Language practice actually is a perfect excuse for reading English perfume blogs, isn’t it? That’s what I always tell my husband 😉

    The only scent from the list that I call my own is L’Heure Bleue but I’m not sure if I would consider it sexy… My favourites are 31 Rue Cambon and Moulin Rouge.

    I had to laugh about your idea of spending our vacation time – but yes, I must admit we’re very spoiled, vacation-wise. June 17, 2013 at 4:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: Exactly! Plus, you get writing practice, build conversational skills and expand your vocabulary. 🙂

      When I first started working for one of my companies in the US, I had 5 vacation days. 5! In my second year, I got 10 days. By then, it already seemed like luxury. June 17, 2013 at 6:07pm Reply

    • solanace: I was going to mention perfume blogs, too. The writing practice is amazing. And the perfume folk are the nicest, kindest people. Fabulously witty and interesting as well! June 18, 2013 at 6:12am Reply

  • george: I don’t think I find any perfumes sexy. I think I might find a skilled perfumer doing his or her thing sexy though. Hmmm……… June 17, 2013 at 6:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s subjective anyway! Perfumed love potions that the ads push so much is more in our imagination. June 18, 2013 at 10:40am Reply

  • Elizabeth: There is one way I don’t fit in with most American women: I have a very, very low tolerance for gourmands and sweets. After sampling Le Labo Jasmin 17 I actually had to wash out my mouth because I could just taste its cloying sweetness. My “parfums sexy” are chypres and greens. It must be my Mediterranean ancestry: I love aromatic notes combined with florals. Happily my fiance loves chypres on me, and his favorites are Mitsouko and 31 Rue Cambon. If he wanted me to smell like a batch of cookies, we would have a problem. 🙂 June 17, 2013 at 8:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve said it before, but you picked the right guy for you! 🙂

      Jasmin 17 is too sweet for me too, and it smells like candied in the drydown. I don’t mind it, but if I’m craving sugar, I would rather go for something else. June 18, 2013 at 10:41am Reply

  • E.Lime: I think Rossy de Palma is very sexy in wintertime; that and Coco tend to be my go-tos when it is cold. In the heat, I like Fleurs d’Oranger, with its smutty spice and its component that smells almost like grape popsicles to me… sexy grape popsicles.
    As a funny side note on this topic, my 2 year old and I were playing with samples the other afternoon. She loves to pretend to spray them on her wrist or on her stuffed animals, even if her fingers aren’t quite dextrous enough. Well, I discovered that the small Malle sample vials are easier on her wee fingers. She got a bit trigger happy with the last four or five spritzes of my Carnal Flower sample, and now Rocco, her knitted strong-man doll, smells positively ravishing. He makes me think Carnal Flower would be irresistible on a man. June 17, 2013 at 9:31pm Reply

    • Robert: Maybe only Rocco’s got the insouciance to pull it off without blinking. June 18, 2013 at 5:41am Reply

      • E.Lime: His stare is quite piercing, to go with his luxurious mustache. June 18, 2013 at 9:34am Reply

        • Victoria: I’m laughing hard and typing through tears, as I read about your ravishing Rocco! June 18, 2013 at 11:04am Reply

    • Victoria: I can just picture this! How adorable she must be playing with those sample vials. You can also make her little decants of rose or orange blossom water, if you think that dousing Rocco in Carnal Flower might be a bit much. 🙂 June 18, 2013 at 10:43am Reply

      • E.Lime: That’s a great idea! I don’t hesitate to spray chemicals on myself (and Rocco surely can’t protest), but the rosewater would be a great way to keep her scents natural and age-appropriate. June 18, 2013 at 4:12pm Reply

        • Victoria: She will get to your precious bottles soon enough! I still remember how tempted I was by my mom’s perfumes, especially since I wasn’t allowed to touch them.

          If you check Whole Foods, they have an interesting selection of floral waters (very good reconstitutions made by Heritage brand), including lavender and lilac. Their rosewater is very good and can be used in food too. June 18, 2013 at 5:56pm Reply

  • Eric Brandon: I loved Aromatics Elixir the first time I smelled it, and bought it the next time I was in Sephora! I’ve gotten several positive comments and a few less, but nothing conjures a sunny clearing in the forest than it.

    And I’m wearing vintage Shalimar right now, though I was just sampling it in an antique mall. I should have bought it. June 17, 2013 at 10:24pm Reply

    • Victoria: Aromatics Elixir on a man is stunning. Like most chypres of its dark and moody type, it can work on both men and women. A whisper of rose in the heart is really sultry to me. June 18, 2013 at 10:46am Reply

  • Merlin: Its the strangest thing but my boyfriend finds Incense Rose very sexy on me. I think of it as dry and cold! Otherwise white florals make him happy: Un Lys, Lys Mediter- and Donna Karen’s Gold have all received very favourable receptions. The only one I like enough to own though is Gold! June 17, 2013 at 10:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can see it as sexy, in a brooding, whisky-voiced way. June 18, 2013 at 10:47am Reply

  • Jillie: I’m so happy to see other AE fans. I’ve probably said this before (I don’t mind repeating myself!), but Aromatics is the perfume that, over the years, has earned me the most compliments ever.

    Thank you, Victoria, for mentioning Fahrenheit, one of my husband’s two favourites. It always smells delicious to me. So much so that I used to wear Ultima Sheer Scent, which was almost a copy, but for girls. That’s another one that’s sadly long gone, but I suppose I could sneakily use my husband’s Fahrenheit when I get the yearning for it. June 18, 2013 at 5:37am Reply

    • Victoria: Grey Flannel is another great option, it’s very much like Fahrenheit, but with more violet and slightly less smoke. I don’t hesitate to wear it myself, and I love how it wafts around me in soft, smoky waves. June 18, 2013 at 10:50am Reply

      • Jillie: Yes, thank you for reminding me – it’s another one that my husband wears, although I feel it doesn’t smell as “violetty” as it used to! But I can steal a bit of that as well as his Fahrenheit when the mood takes me. June 18, 2013 at 10:54am Reply

        • Victoria: It’s like wearing his flannel shirts (no pun intended!)–soft and comfy. I do sometimes when he’s away traveling for work. June 18, 2013 at 11:10am Reply

  • Natalia: Since the only kind of “sexy” I go for is the “intellectual” or “bookish” variety, I, too, prefer chypres as my “parfums sexy”. Alluring, yet never letting another person get too close. AE is at the top of my list, too, but I do not percieve it as “carnal”, “sultry”, “inviting”, “Bacall-like” or it would probably not be among my favorites. To me, it’s an amazingly beautiful perfume that makes me feel great about myself yet always allows me to keep my own space.
    Another “parfum sexy” for me is Philtre d’Amore which is reserved for the mood I’d like to call “intellectual playful” 🙂
    As for men’s fragrances, ironically, I like it when men around me smell carnal, sulty and vulnarable))) which is why I consider the oriental, heady, sweet scents as “parfum sexy” for men. Yatagan, Kouros, Body Kouros, Luten’s orientals and such like. June 18, 2013 at 9:16am Reply

    • Victoria: Bacall was my favorite cinematic bombshell, because she was such a contradiction, especially with her slightly hoarse voice.

      Of course, every one of us sees different personalities in each perfume, and although I can see how AE can be sultry, I understand your point too. It has so many different facets! June 18, 2013 at 11:00am Reply

  • Lauren: Awesome post. I am shocked that D&G Pour Femme is so popular in France. But I remember Nina Ricci Nina being popular when I was there, and I find that very sweet and “BBW-ish.” Not to mention Angel, A-Men, B-Men…there is actually a significant list of fragrances with European origins that are sweet. I guess I should adjust my thinking of European taste a bit.

    I have mentioned this before, but I think the sexiest fragrances – Tocca Cleopatra, Narcisso Rodriguez for Her – are chypres that most men in my experience don’t care for at all. Please explain to me why, as a straight woman, the fragrances that make me feel the sexiest don’t appeal to any of the men I know. Lol. June 20, 2013 at 1:11pm Reply

    • Victoria: Many French best-sellers are squarely in the gourmand oriental zone, and that’s what you smell a lot in the street. I prefer Angel’s sweetness to that of Pour Femme though.

      Now, the question is what those guys like instead! 🙂 June 20, 2013 at 3:59pm Reply

  • Daisy: As someone who teaches French, you can let your husband know that French fashion magazines are an excellent way to improve your language skills! It’s something that I recommend to my students all the time as the writing is kind of a hybrid between how people talk and how people write. The articles tend to be higher in terms of quality too — and that’s not a professional bias 🙂 On a side note, you could write an entire dissertation on what kind of English words make it into modern French and how their usage differs from American English!

    In terms of my personal parfum sexy? Parfum de Thérèse, hands down. June 20, 2013 at 8:24pm Reply

    • Victoria: I remember how when making a hair appointment I was asked if I wanted “le brushing?” It took me a moment to figure out that the receptionist meant a blow out!

      Parfum de Therese is mine too! June 21, 2013 at 7:32am Reply

      • Daisy: Yes! Des tongs et un string always makes me pause too. Despite knowing the difference, I always fear I’ll say one when I mean the other! June 21, 2013 at 9:27am Reply

        • Victoria: 🙂 I’ve done that! June 21, 2013 at 10:53am Reply

          • Daisy: Aww! When I was younger, I once told someone I didn’t want to eat something because there were too many “préservatifs” in it. He looked in the box and said, “I don’t see any préservatifs!” June 21, 2013 at 11:41am Reply

  • Shelly: My favorite sexy perfume, well, ok, ONE of my favorites, is Vol de Nuit. It always gets attention and I’m always the only one in the room wearing it. Which I absolutely love. I do use a light hand when I put it on, though. I want people’s heads to swivel, not their eyes to water. 🙂 June 23, 2013 at 10:41am Reply

    • Victoria: Vol de Nuit is a femme fatale perfume, hands down, and I agree with you, it draws attention to itself, but not in a loud way. Gorgeous! June 24, 2013 at 12:12pm Reply

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